Amazon made a small change to its app icon after the design reminded some people of Hitler’s mustache

Amazon Logistics Center
An Amazon logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, France.

  • Amazon changed its app icon after users flagged a resemblance to Adolf Hitler’s mustache.
  • The icon was overhauled earlier this year.
  • The updated icon has avoided comparisons to the Nazi war criminal, but been compared to “Avatar” character Aang. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The recently redesigned Amazon app icon has been changed yet again by the tech company after some customers saw a resemblance to Adolf Hitler’s infamous mustache, The Verge reported.

Amazon first rolled out an update to the app’s icon in January, according to reporting from The Verge. The icon featured Amazon’s signature smiling arrow, but a jagged row of tape atop it made some users think of the Nazi dictator.

Amazon app icon comparison
The refreshed app icon (left) next to the newly updated icon (right).

 

After some Twitter users posted about the unsettling resemblance, Amazon quietly changed the design, swapping out the jagged tape for a boxier counterpart that makes it look more like a package and less like a face. 

The former Amazon app icon was a simple white box, and the redesign is an effort to brand the company with its distinctive brown box and blue tape formula. However, users continue to see faces in the icon. 

This time, Twitter was abuzz with comparisons to “Avatar: The Last Airbender”‘s Aang, with his distinctive blue-striped bald head. 

 

As Marketplace reported in 2019, Amazon has gone through several logos since going from a bookstore to a retail behemoth. The current logo, with sans serif text and the smiling arrow, came about in 2012, after the company dropped the “.com” from the logo. 

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that the company “introduced an icon in select countries and made changes based on customer feedback before we rolled it out worldwide.”

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Roblox wants to bring older age groups to its online gaming platform

Roblox
  • The company has a goal to appeal to age groups ranging between six and 60 years old.
  • The company has been successful with children under the age of 13 years old.
  • The company hopes older users will then invite their friends to the platform. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Roblox is eyeing an older age demographic as it explores potential growth opportunities for its online gaming platform. 

The company, which allows users to easily develop and play video games, said on Friday during its investor day that it has a goal of appealing to a wide age range — six to 60 years old.

“We have tremendous success reaching the 13 and under audience, our goal however is to create a platform and brand that appeals to all ages,” Chief Business Officer at Roblox, Craig Donato, said during the investor day presentation.

To achieve that goal, the online game platform is working on content ratings that match users with experiences that are appropriate for their age, according to Donato. Roblox also personalized its search and discovery based on a person’s age, geography, and skill level, among other factors. 

Donato said the company expects that older users will invite friends of their own age.

Roblox is also expanding its demographic reach by enabling deeply immersive experiences through dynamic simulation, faster loading, and unique rendering, according to Donato. 

The gaming giant is popular among over half the children in the United States, according to CNBC. As of July 2020, Roblox had over 150 million monthly active users, the company said

The platform mainly allows children to create and play video games and chat with their friends. But with the large presence of children on Roblox, moderation concerns were raised and created a challenge for the company, Insider previously reported.

In a case that lacked moderation, a group of players simulated an assault on a 7-year-old’s character in a game on Roblox. The company now offers security features that parents can use to restrict chats or the type of games children play.

On Monday, the video game platform said that it plans to go public via a direct listing in March on the New York Stock Exchange and will issue 198.9 million shares, according to a company filing it submitted to the SEC.

 

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How to block social media apps from yourself to stop distractions and be more productive

social media apps
You can block social media apps from yourself with the help of several apps and plug-ins.

  • If you want to block social media apps from yourself, there are dozens of apps, extensions, and tools you can use.
  • We’ve picked out three tools to block any website or app — Freedom, StayFocusd, and RescueTime — which are perfect for blocking social media.
  • Blocking social media apps can save you time, stop distractions, and protect your mental health.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Social media can be addictive, and we’ve all had those moments when peeling our eyes away from Twitter or YouTube feels impossible.

But if your social media use is becoming a problem, you might want to consider downloading an app or browser extension to limit your time on sites that hinder your productivity.

How to block social media apps from yourself 

Here are three different tools that let you block social media sites from yourself and gain back your time. 

Using phone
Social media can be fun, but stressful.

Social media blocker #1: Freedom (app)

Freedom is one of the most popular social media blocker apps available right now. It can be used on smartphones, tablets, and computers alike, and is compatible with Windows, Android, Mac/iOS, and Chrome devices. There are a handful of browser extensions that can be used alongside Freedom for additional leverage. 

Freedom’s main appeal is that it allows users to set their own limits: you can block specific websites, block all websites except for specific ones you need, or block the entire internet. It also allows you to schedule specific times in which you’re allowed to use specific sites, as well as log how much time you spend on each website.

Freedom is free to use for the first seven sessions, after which you’ll be asked to pay for a subscription in order to keep using it.

Social media blocker #2: StayFocusd (browser extension)

StayFocusd is a free browser extension that controls the amount of time you can spend on specific websites each day. It’s currently only available for Google Chrome, meaning it won’t work on other web browsers like Firefox or Microsoft Edge. The downside to this is you can easily switch to another browser without StayFocusd installed. 

StayFocusd, like its name implies, restricts the time users can spend on specific websites, with the goal of keeping you focused. After users meet their daily time limit for the sites in question, StayFocusd will lock them out of those websites for the rest of the day.

There’s also a strict “Nuclear Option” that prevents you from undoing the restrictions you set, so make sure you’re certain and don’t accidentally add on any extra zeros to the time limit (in hours).  

Its site-blocking abilities are quite powerful, too – you can use it to block specific sites, as well as individual website pages, paths, and content hosted on an individual page (like photos or videos). It also syncs to all of your other devices, so that you can’t circumvent its software by opening up unwanted sites on another device.

Social media blocker #3: RescueTime (app and browser extension)

RescueTime is an app and browser plug-in that automatically tracks the amount of time users spend on websites, documents, and other programs. The app is available on Windows, Android, Mac/iOS, Chrome, and Linux devices, and its browser plug-in can be used on Chrome, Firefox, and Brave. Best of all, you can add it to as many devices as you want.

RescueTime not only blocks specific websites for specific periods of time, it also allows users to take advantage of other productivity tools, such as goal-setting exercises and reports on how much time is spent on each site, in addition to the Productivity Challenge coursepack. It can also be integrated with many other applications, such as Slack and Calendar.

RescueTime is free for the first 14 days of use, after which you’ll need to pay for a subscription in order to continue using it.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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Period apps are a privacy nightmare – should you still use them?

menstruation app data protection 2x1
  • Period-tracking apps collect incredibly intimate data about their users.
  • They also have a track record of shaky privacy practices.
  • Insider spoke to an expert about what happens to do your data – and whether you should use the apps
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When you tell an app about your period, it’s hard to know exactly where that data is going.

Period-tracking apps offer clear health benefits to users, allowing them to track and anticipate symptoms, as well as providing an aid for people hoping to conceive. They are also hugely popular – period tracker app Flo has more than 50 million downloads on the Google Play store. Its next big competitor Clue has more than 10 million. It’s a competitive market, and even Apple launched its own period-tracking app in 2019.

Unfortunately, menstruation apps also have a track record of throwing up big privacy red flags. 

This manifested last week, when popular period-tracking app Flo reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the FTC alleged it shared sensitive user data with third parties including Facebook and Google – a practice that was revealed by a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2019.

Stories like Flo’s leave users wondering: do the health benefits of using a period tracker outweigh the privacy risks?

Privacy International in December published an analysis of how five period and fertility monitoring apps (including Flo and Clue) moved their users’ data around.

Eva Blum-Dumontet, the researcher who led Privacy International’s report, said even though she has been studying the field for years, she was taken aback by just how much data the apps stored about their users. This included the contents of notes on users’ masturbation habits and how frequently they go to the bathroom.

Carrie Walter, general counsel at Berlin-based Clue, said the amount of data Clue processes is no cause for concern.

“The fact that every interaction with the app generates data stored on our servers is neither surprising nor inappropriate. We are a cycle tracking app, dedicated to providing our users with personalised insights about their wellbeing based on the data they track. We could not provide this service if we did not store the data that people choose to input,” she said in an email to Insider.

Could your data be used to target you with ads?

Exactly what happens after apps collect this data and pass it on can be fairly opaque, especially to consumers. This makes it hard to confirm definitively whether information you give to a menstruation app could be used to target you with ads elsewhere on the internet.

Privacy International report found some period-trackers, including Clue, were sharing data with third parties. This data isn’t being used elsewhere online, but it can be used to target users with ads inside the apps.

There is functionality behind this; some period apps process their users’ data in order to target them with articles – for example if a user frequently gets oily skin around their period, the app will give them skincare advice.

While Privacy International’s research showed some of the third parties processing period-tracking data included big household name tech companies like Amazon and Google, Blum-Dumontet said that isn’t a big concern for her, as Amazon and Google provide very rudimentary services such as web hosting.

She instead pointed to a handful of companies that showed up in her research, which specialize in profiling and targeting users including Braze and Amplitude.

“What they are offering as a service to those apps is to be able to target and to create a profile of you – and again that’s not to say the profile will be shared with others, but it is using your data to target and and to build a profile and expectations of what you want to see, what kind of ads you should be receiving,” she said.

In a statement to Insider, a spokeswoman for Clue said the app doesn’t send these companies any health data, and that they are used for internal analytics and functions including in-app messaging and notifications. She added that Clue is in the process of building an internal analytics tool to replace Amplitude.

“This is part of our broader roadmap to replace third party services with self-built tools whenever possible,” the spokeswoman said.

Walter emphasised that none of the data entered into Clue into ad networks, and that Clue does not allow outside advertisers to target people inside the app.

“We are a company that needs to pay its own way, so we do use ad networks for online marketing. But, again, the crucial point is in the detail: we are extremely careful with users’ health data. It never goes to ad networks, nor do we use it to target ads on behalf of others in our own app,” she said.

Could your data be passed along to medical insurers?

Blum-Dumontet said there was no evidence in her research that data from menstruation apps is being passed along to entities like medical insurers, and in the UK and EU countries data protection laws forbid companies from repackaging data for purposes other than what users consented for it to be used for.

In the rest of the world – including the US – regulation is less robust, and Blum-Dumontet thinks it’s possible menstruation app data could end up feeding into companies including insurers. “Outside of the European Union or the UK it’s essentially a data wild west, and yeah this is definitely a scenario that could happen,” she said.

Blum-Dumontet doesn’t want to see period-tracking apps eradicated, and she doesn’t even think users should necessarily delete their apps.

Read more: Pioneering femtech startup Elvie is bringing Apple’s model to women’s health despite coronavirus disruption

“Meeting people who use menstruation apps it’s always the question that comes up […] do I have to delete it. And my answer to that question is: if it is useful to you no, don’t delete it,” she said.

She believes it’s the companies, not the consumers, that need to change their behavior.

The first change she thinks they should implement is designing their apps to store and process data locally on users’ phones, rather than siphoning it off to a central server where they have access to it. Secondly, she says apps can minimise the amount of data they collect in the first place.

“We really have to ask ourselves what data is essential for the app to function. They also have to ask themselves what services are essential,” she said.

The period-tracking app industry has already shown some signs of shifting. In 2019, Privacy International discovered some apps were sharing alarming amounts of intimate data with Facebook, and developer behind menstruation app Maya modified its app to stop this.

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Meet Whitney Wolfe Herd, the 31-year-old CEO of the female-led dating app Bumble that just publicly filed for an IPO

Whitney Wolfe Bumble
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

  • Once a victim of online harassment, Whitney Wolfe Herd is working to make the internet a kinder place for women with female-led dating app Bumble.
  • Before Bumble, Wolfe Herd cofounded rival dating app Tinder, but left the company two years later and filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit that was later settled.
  • Bumble publicly filed a form S-1 for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for an offering size of up to $100 million.
  • Wolfe Herd has an estimated net worth of $575 million, is married to a Texas oil heir, and splits her time between two homes in Texas.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Whitney Wolfe Herd is used to making bold moves. 

Perhaps that’s why on the dating app she cofounded, women make the first move in heterosexual relationships. And Wolfe Herd’s next move may be among her boldest – Bumble publicly filed for an IPO on Friday.

The dating company filed a form S-1 for its IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an offering size of up to $100 million. But that figure is likely a placeholder: Bumble could seek a valuation as high as $8 billion, Bloomberg reported.

The company is looking to trade under the symbol “BMBL” on the Nasdaq. Bumble confidentially filed IPO paperwork with the SEC in 2020, and Bloomberg reported it planned on going public in February, possibly around Valentine’s Day, of this year.

A representative for Wolfe Herd at Bumble did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on Wolfe Herd’s career, net worth, or personal life.

Keep reading to learn more about Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, 31, is a Utah native.

Whitney Wolfe Bumble
Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Wolfe Herd was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, The Times of London reported. Her father is a property developer and her mother is a homemaker, per The Times.

The CEO has been a feminist from an early age, telling The Times that she disliked how Utah’s dating culture was dominated by men — women were expected to wait for them to make the first move.

Wolfe Herd went on to attend Southern Methodist University in Texas, and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, per Fast Company. She’s still close with many of her sorority sisters and even employs a few at Bumble.

Wolfe Herd also launched her first business at 19 while still in college, per Money Inc. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill pumped crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for five months in 2010, Wolfe Herd enlisted celebrity stylist Patrick Aufdenkamp to design tote bags that could be sold to help fund relief efforts. The resulting nonprofit, called the Help Us Get Cleaned Up Project, became nationally known after Nicole Richie and Rachel Zoe were spotted with Wolfe Herd’s bags.

After earning a degree in International Studies, Wolfe Herd did a brief stint in Southeast Asia.

whitney wolfe bumble
Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Wolfe Herd spent her time in Asia volunteering at local orphanages, per Money Inc.

While Wolfe Herd is currently at the head of Bumble, it isn’t the first dating app she cofounded.

tinder headquarters
Tinder Headquarters on the Sunset Strip on August 28, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.

At 22, Wolfe Herd was hired to work at startup incubator Hatch Labs in Los Angeles, according to The Times of London. After hours, she starting collaborating with a group that was looking to build a dating app.

That app, which is now known as Tinder, quickly grew into a global phenomenon with Wolfe Herd’s help. She even came up with the name Tinder, per The Telegraph. She is credited as a cofounder and spent two years as the company’s vice president of marketing, per The Times.

Wolfe Herd didn’t leave Tinder on good terms.

justin mateen sean rad tinder
Wolfe Herd’s fellow Tinder cofounders, Justin Mateen and Sean Rad.

During her tenure at Tinder, Wolfe Herd dated fellow cofounder and her then-boss Justin Mateen, per The Times of London. She left the company shortly after they split, and filed a lawsuit alleging that she had experienced sexual harassment and discrimination.

The legal dispute was settled privately outside of court, with neither party admitting to wrongdoing.

Following the legal battle, Wolfe Herd also faced online harassment.

“I was inundated with hatred online, lots of aggressive behavior, people calling me names, really painful things that I’d never experienced,” Wolfe Herd told The Times in 2018. “I felt like my entire self-worth, any confidence that I had, had been sucked away. There were dark times when I thought, ‘Well, this is it. I won’t have a career ever again. I’m 24, coming out of one of the world’s hottest tech companies, but the internet hates me.’ It was a horrible time. Then I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I’m going to rebuild myself.'”

Wolfe Herd launched Bumble in 2014, originally planning to build a female-focused social network instead of a dating app.

Whitney Wolfe Bumble
Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Wolfe Herd was persuaded to forgo her original plan for the app by former business partner and Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev, according to CNN Business.

The app’s women-led model was initially inspired by Sadie Hawkins school dances, where women ask men to be their date, Wolfe Herd told Business Insider in 2015.

“We’re definitely not trying to be sexist, that’s not the goal,” Wolfe Herd said. “I know guys get sick of making the first move all the time. Why does a girl feel like she should sit and wait around? Why is there this standard that, as a woman, you can get your dream job but you can’t talk to a guy first? Let’s make dating feel more modern.”

Wolfe Herd has since expanded the app with additional services to help women meet new friends and expand their professional networks, called Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz respectively. Bumble has also invested in other apps, including gay dating app Chappy, TechCrunch reported.

Bumble now says it has 75 million users in 150 countries, making it second only to Tinder in popularity.

Wolfe Herd also reorganized and took the helm of Bumble’s former parent company, Magic Lab, after its owner was ousted amid accusations of racism and sexism.

Andrey Andreev whitney wolfe herd
Andrey Andreev and Whitney Wolfe Herd.

In addition to being Wolfe Herd’s close friend and business partner who she said she was “incredibly in sync” with and called “two to five times a day,” Andreev owned a 79% stake in Bumble, according to Fast Company.

After the allegations of racism and sexism against Andreev were published by Forbes in 2019, Wolfe Herd released a statement saying she had had “nothing but positive and respectful” experiences with Andreev but “would never challenge someone’s feelings or experiences.”

“All of us at Bumble are mortified by the allegations about Badoo (Bumble’s majority owner) from the years before Bumble was born, as chronicled in the Forbes story,” Wolfe Herd said in the statement. “I am saddened and sickened to hear that anyone, of any gender, would ever be made to feel marginalized or mistreated in any capacity at their workplace.”

Even before she took on her expanded role, Wolfe Herd was already a workaholic.

Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Wolfe Herd typically wakes up every morning at 5:15 a.m. and immediately starts responding to emails, she told The Times of London.

She has even been known to wake up every two hours during the night to check her inbox. “I’m trying to stop that,” Wolfe Herd told The Times in 2017. “I get no downtime. I don’t get a weekend, I haven’t lived like a twenty-something since I started Bumble in 2014.”

Wolfe Herd is also politically active, helping outlaw digital sexual harassment in Texas.

whitney wolfe
Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Sending unsolicited nude photos — a phenomenon that has plagued dating apps and even AirDrop — is punishable under a new law championed by Wolfe Herd, Inc. reported. She is now advocating for a similar law in California and hopes it will soon be federal law, too.

“It is time that our laws mirror this way we lead double lives, in the physical and the digital,” Wolfe Herd told Inc. shortly after the Texas law was passed in August 2019. “You look at government right now, it only protects the physical world. But our youth are spending a lot more time in the digital world than they are in the physical.”

 

The CEO says she doesn’t have political aspirations of her own, however. “I could never run for [office],” Wolfe Herd told The Times of London, saying that she is frequently asked if she’s considered it. “There are people so much smarter than me.”

Wolfe Herd is also a mom.

Whitney Wolfe Herd and husband Michael Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd and husband Michael Herd in 2018.

Wolfe Herd married Texas oil heir Michael Herd in an elegant three-day ceremony on Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 2017, per Vogue.

The couple first met while skiing in Aspen in 2013, but Wolfe Herd first saw him on a dating app. “He has the kind of face you remember,” she told The Telegraph.

He is now the president of the oil and gas field operator founded by his late grandfather, Herd Producing Company, and also owns a high-end farm to table restaurant called the Grove Kitchen + Gardens.

✨👰🤵✨

A post shared by Whitney Wolfe Herd (@whitney) on Sep 8, 2017 at 12:09pm PDT

 

The pair have a nine-month-old son named Bobby after Michael’s late grandfather, and he makes frequent appearances on Wolfe Herd’s Instagram account.

Happiness 🌼

A post shared by Whitney Wolfe Herd (@whitney) on Jul 16, 2020 at 10:29am PDT

 

The couple also has a Great Dane named Duke and a yellow lab named Jett, per The New York Times.

“[Duke] is a kind animal but does not understand how big he is,” Wolfe Herd told The Times in 2019, while describing her daily after work routine. “At 175 pounds, he could quite literally kill me. I have to lock myself in the car while I wait for my husband to come home and get him away from me.”

Wolfe Herd has been open about her struggles with anxiety.

whitney wolfe herd 2018
Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2018.

“I haven’t gone through the testing, but I should,” Wolfe Herd told The Times of London. “It’s anxiety about everything. I worry about awful things happening to people I love. They say phones are a strong catalyst for making anxiety worse, so I have this interesting balance — how do I make sure I’m on top of everything, but also preserve my mental health?”

The Herd family splits time between their two Texas houses.

Austin Texas Capitol Congress Ave Skyline
Austin, Texas.

The Herds have one home along the Colorado River in Austin near Bumble’s headquarters and another further north in Tyler, near Michael Herd’s office, per The New York Times. They also own a vacation home in Aspen, Bumble’s chief brand officer Alex Williamson told Aspen Magazine.

The couple also owns Michael’s 6.5-acre family estate on Lake Austin, according to Mansion Global. The waterfront compound boasts a movie theater, helipad, putting green, 10 garages, multiple boat docks, and a guest house, as well as a 5,000 square foot cabana designed for entertaining. That property is currently listed for sale for $28.5 million.

They also travel a lot.

Whitney Wolfe Herd
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

Wolfe Herd takes frequent trips for both work and pleasure. Wolfe Herd told Travel +Leisure in 2017 that her all-time favorite trips include a sailing expedition through Myanmar and Thailand and a family trip to India.

For their honeymoon, Wolfe Herd and her husband stayed at Four Seasons resorts in both Bora Bora and Maui after leaving the site of their destination wedding in Italy, according to a blog post by the Indagare, the group that planned the trip.

Wolfe Herd told Indagare that she wanted a beach-heavy honeymoon because she and Herd were “looking for the ideal place to unwind, where we could take in the sun and swim. Our favorite moments were just relaxing and appreciating each other in such beautiful locations.”

In July 2019, she celebrated her 30th birthday with a multi-day party on a yacht off the coast of Capri, Italy, per Guest of a Guest.

This is 30 🤰🍝🎈

A post shared by Whitney Wolfe Herd (@whitney) on Jul 5, 2019 at 3:07am PDT

 

Wolfe Herd has an estimated net worth of $575 million, but she may soon be much richer.

bumble whitney wolfe herd
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd is seen outside Good Morning America on January 31, 2019 in New York City.

Wolfe Herd’s multimillion-dollar fortune landed her at No. 39 on Forbes’ list of the wealthiest self-made women in America in 2020. If Bumble’s IPO performs well, her fortune could grow exponentially thanks to her 19% stake in the company.

Bumble’s public filing with the SEC revealed the company generated $488.9 million in revenue in 2019, representing 35.8% year-over-year growth. The firm generated $376.6 million in revenue between January 29, 2020, and September 30, 2020. Bumble has 42 million monthly average users and 2.4 million paying users, per the filing.

The company could appear on public markets as soon as 2021, Insider previously reported.

“I feel like what I’m doing is quite important,” Wolfe Herd told The Times of London in 2018. “A lot of people are, like, ‘What do you mean it’s important? It’s a dating app.’ But it’s important because connections are at the root everything we do. Human connection defines our happiness and our health. This company feels like a piece of me. I know this sounds cheesy and weird, but I really feel like it’s my mission.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Adobe’s chief product officer predicts the 8 biggest tech trends of 2021

Scott Belsky
Scott Belsky.

  • Scott Belsky is the chief product officer of Adobe and founder of Behance, Adobe’s social media platform. He’s an early investor and product advisor for top startups including Pinterest, Uber, Carta, and Airtable.
  • As 2020 comes to a close, Belsky predicts eight major trends to emerge in the tech industry in the near future.
  • He says talent will increasingly own their audiences through apps like YouTube, TikTok, and Patreon, and that systems and apps supporting creativity will be emphasized over productivity tools.
  • Belsky also says an era of “eduployment” will emerge, integrating the process of choosing a trade, getting an education, finding a job, or starting a company.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As we pull ourselves out of the ditch that was 2020, there are a few major themes of the future I’m particularly excited about. I’m sharing them as a way to connect more dots, meet more founders, and solicit input to further develop these ideas.

No surprise, some of the companies I mention within these trends I know personally, but I have challenged myself to share ideas still on the cusp of breakout rather than the obvious trends and winners. Here they are.

1. The notion of “decentralized” is spreading to unexpected places. 

Yes, Bitcoin and blockchain-powered solutions are all the rage these days, and one side-effect is ideas for how other aspects of work and life can be decentralized. For example, Ben Rubin’s /Talk is developing ways to decentralize how teams work (it turns out the very notion of “meetings” may be an archaic and wasteful vestige of centralized workplaces).

The team at Braintrust is using both the principles and technology of blockchain to build a user-controlled talent network. Rather than take any fees or percentage of the participating talent’s income, Braintrust gains value alongside other participants via tokens that become more valuable as the network grows.

The team at CashDrop has built a way for anyone (from a taco stand owner to an apparel designer) to build a storefront without relying on a traditional marketplace that charges commissions or fees. Taking a step back, the traditional model of central owners of community-powered utilities (marketplaces, app stores, etc.) taking a percent of everything (and central “bosses” for huge teams insisting on reviewing and approving everything) may finally be getting old.

2. Behold the era of “eduployment:” The process of identifying a trade, getting an education, and getting a job (or starting a company) will become fully integrated.

Take Nana for instance, a company that will train you in appliance repair (think unique brands of dishwashers, etc), and then set you up in a marketplace to start getting jobs in your local area fueled by leads from the manufacturers of these appliances. Or take Main Street, who will train you as a painter, outfit you with everything you need, and set you up to be a successful business out of the gate within 30 days  –  essentially turning you into a franchise.

 

Rather than enduring an expensive education only to assume the complete risk of your career, this new eduployment model, as I’ve come to call it, gives everyone skin in the game. The vertical integration of education and employment is upon us, and I think this trend will help address (at-scale) major systematic issues in our economy at scale while also minting a ton of new small businesses.

Read more: No more student debt: 64 apps and startups aiming to replace the university experience

3. A few seemingly quirky social apps will tune into the under 16 demographic’s distinct approach to creation as a form of self-expression and tolerance for transparency by default.

I’m seeing more entrepreneurs starting social apps now than in years past, and they’re no longer building off of Facebook’s graph or emulating existing products with slight iterations. Nope, these are (finally) wildly new and original ideas. One of my favorites, under the radar but experiencing rapid growth, is ItsMe. Now approximately #24 in App Store under social networking, ItsMe connects you with others based on your mood, it make you create your own appearance, and allows you to communicate with text, voice, audio, or drawing among other forms. And there are a few other new social models brewing that I am quite excited about.

What do these next gen social platforms share? They combine ephemeral sharing with lasting reputation building, they lean towards default transparency and with a more liberal interpretation of “privacy,” and they have fewer creative constraints and are geared to reward those with the most creative self-expression.

In the category of social, I am also quite excited about the rebirth of Gowalla as a wild social game still a bit under wraps that will take place in the real world, and Public, a social network for public market investing. Suffice to say, the future of social is exciting and, contrary to popular belief, will not be constrained to today’s dominant social networks.

4. Talent will increasingly own their audience, with the rise of “channels of one” and community-as-a-service.

Gone are the days when super talented people needed to sign a contract with a TV network to break through. But the ad-supported and algorithmically-driven alternatives, like YouTube and TikTok, still have the upper hand with talent. The pursuit to “own your own audience” will be a macro trend over the coming years.

Equivalents to Substack (where you build and monetize your own email list) will emerge in video, communities, and other ways to build, manage, and monetize your audience. Some early breakouts like OnlyFans and Patreon give us a sense of what is possible.

I am especially enthusiastic about products like Circle and Geneva that power fully-fledged community functionality for brands and individuals. If you’re a content creator of any kind, you can now spin up a community to gather your audience and spawn all sorts of offshoot services to delight (and monetize) your base.

In such a world, the Instagram and YouTube type products simply serve as top-of-funnel marketing initiatives. The goal becomes simple converting everyone you reach on other platforms to your own privately owned and managed channel. We will see a massive acceleration of this trend in the years ahead.

Read more: The loneliness economy: Companies and entrepreneurs see a spike in interest for rent-a-friend services, chatbots, and online communities that target feelings of isolation

5. More and more niche functions of enterprise will become multi-player, powered by a next generation of highly specialized, AI-bolstered, enterprise companies with consumerized product experiences.

From procurement and security to financial planning and design, functions of a company that were once siloed to particular teams are being transformed by SaaS tools that are collaborative-by default, easier to use, and inclusive of stakeholders across the company. Those of you who co-invest with me know my obsession with this space.

From companies like Globality for procurement, Sora for HR interactions, Meter for WiFi and IT, Welcome for hiring, closing, and onboarding new employees, there are many approaches and the list goes on. These types of products will fundamentally change how big companies operate across functions while transforming the quality of life for employees.

To help fuel this transformation, WorkOS is building enterprise-readiness as a service, enabling new companies to start selling to enterprise customers with just a few lines of code, with the value proposition “Single Sign-On (SSO) to your app in minutes.” And Scarf is building tools for open source developers to service and monetize enterprise customers. So, lots of energy in this space up and down the stack. One side consequence of all this: increasingly crowded and outdated customer acquisition channels for enterprise SaaS. This is also a problem/opportunity to solve.

6. Creativity tools will be deployed across the enterprise, much like productivity tools were deployed in previous decades.

Until the age of AI, being more productive was the best way to stand out at work. But now, as bots and algorithms supplant mundane and repetitive labor in the workplace, the benefits of human labor will shift to the skills and capabilities that are uniquely human. Chief among them: creativity.

Think compelling ways to visualize data, better ways to share a narrative with your coworkers, attractive graphics to spice up every presentation, and powerful prototypes that are worth a hundred meetings. These capabilities will drive outperformance at work (and in school, and on social) in the coming decades, and everyone must be outfitted to make it happen.

Obviously, this is a major focus in my day job as chief product officer for my creative teams at Adobe. We see this massive broadening of the market divided into two types of personas: content-first creators and collaboration-first creators. The former wants to be start with something  –  an image, a video or a graphic  –  and remix or deconstruct. The latter starts by bringing together a group of people and leveraging a shared assets (we’ve been gradually turning Creative Cloud into a “creative system” of sorts for this very purpose). Of course, this need requires new types of tools on modern platforms like the web. Adobe, along with a whole ecosystem of new apps, are working to make this happen.

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7. New and disruptive interfaces will emerge that aggregate and connect the underlying services we use to live and work.

This is certainly not a new trend, and I’ve been writing about the “interface layers” and the “battle to be the default” since 2014. But the explosion of SaaS offerings for everyday work (enterprise trend noted above) and life is setting the stage for a new problem and opportunity: How do we stitch it all together?

Consider the digital spaces in which we spend our days  –  the “home” page of our favorite apps, the finder on our desktops, the home screens of our phones. We’re creating different kinds of documents, files, folders, and teams all over the place. We have specialized apps for everything and must manage permissions in so many places. All of these various cloud documents and services have different schemas and don’t interact with one another  –  it’s a mess.

Some companies are rising to the occasion, including Command E (an easy keyboard shortcut to open any document, contact, file or record from the cloud) and another early stage stealth company I am excited about. No doubt, all of these underlying services and resources WILL be stitched together, and whoever does the stitching will control the interface where we actually live, work, and make decisions.

8. Another round of the Roaring ’20s is ahead of us, where the pent-up desires from the pandemic will be unleashed in the form of fashion, travel, and culture-bending creative self-expression.

My family and I endured a good chunk of the pandemic with our neighbor and dear friend Jenn Hyman, cofounder and CEO of RentTheRunway, and her family. Needless to say, the stay-at-home world made for a very difficult year for Jenn’s team. But now, with a light at the end of the tunnel, Jenn has a new energy. She believes that post-pandemic fashion will have more fun and edge than ever before.

I agree, and imagine our vaccinated selves fervently jumping back into the world through travel, fashion, parties, concerts, and meeting new people. (After all, the last century’s Roaring ’20s also followed a pandemic, the 1918 Spanish Flu.) Our desire to fill the cultural void that has accumulated in us will result in a form of overcompensation that will make for an epic decade ahead (yes, I’m a relentless optimist).

Like all of you, I am eager to move past the challenges of 2020. I’m hopeful that we emerge more productive from the “great refactoring” we all endured, and that we can all reclaim the ~30% of cognitive load that has been consumed by politics, gaslighting, and a seemingly never-ending stream of things to worry about. With our newfound peace and capacity, may we all dream and build in equal parts!

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Scott Belsky is the founder of Behance, which was acquired by Adobe, where he now serves as Chief Product Officer and EVP for Creative Cloud. He is an early investor and product advisor for some of this decades top startups, including Pinterest, Uber, Carta, Flexport, Airtable, and sweetgreen among others. Get his latest book  “The Messy Middle” or sign up for his newsletter. Follow him Twitter.

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