Silicon Valley is falling in love with ads again and tech CEOs are acting weirdly

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This week: Silicon Valley is falling in love with ads … again

Tobias L├╝tke shopify

The great reopening is here, and with it, the opening of the purse strings for corporate marketing dollars.

That’s good news for tech companies whose business models rely on digital advertising, like Google and Facebook. But there’s a growing number of other tech companies you might not think of as advertising businesses who are looking to get in on the action.

Shopify, the $182 billion Canadian ecommerce powerhouse, is readying a new tool to let merchants tap into its data so they can target ads to potential customers on Facebook and Google, Insider reported.

  • The tool, called Shopify Audiences, could be a first step in a broader push into advertising by Shopify that could ultimately involve selling ads on its own platform.

And Instacart, the grocery delivery startup poised for an IPO, has been quietly building an ad business that Insider’s Tom Dotan reported is on track to generate $1 billion by 2022.

The rush to bolt on advertising business may seem counterintuitive given the well-publicized privacy changes on iPhones that make it tougher for app makers to track users and target ads at them. But those restrictions apply to the data that apps collect by tracking users on iPhones. Platforms with their own audiences can treat their data however they want. In fact, with Apple’s clampdown, the demand for data from the likes of Shopify seems likely to only become more valuable.

If you’re into ads, make sure to sign up for Insider Advertising, the newsletter that brings together our best scoops and reporting on the media and advertising industry.

The summer of tech mogul weirdness

mark zuckerberg facebook

It’s tough to say exactly what’s driving the trend, but the captains of the tech industry have been acting … differently, of late. Maybe it’s the result of 16 months in lockdown, or maybe it’s something in the Silicon Valley water. Whatever the cause, consider these recent incidents:

Who knows what to expect next as the summer heats up.

Snapshot: The $28 million chair

It looks like the kind of thing a sadistic dentist might try to strap you into, but this curious reclining chair and wraparound headrest is actually a coveted seat on Jeff Bezos’ spacecraft – the Blue Origin New Shepard – scheduled for takeoff in T minus 24 days.

blue origin new shepard crew capsule seat

There are six of these seats in the rocket’s capsule, but only four will be filled on the first ride: One for Bezos, one for his brother Mark, and two for a pair of unidentified passengers, one of whom ponied up $28 million for the privilege of the ride.

The seats are positioned next to giant windows so the passengers can relax and enjoy the celestial views. But the ride will be bumpy – the seats are designed to absorb some of the impact as the capsule soars more than 62 miles above sea level, with a force three times stronger than gravity that will pin the passengers to their chairs, and then plummets back down to Earth for a landing in the Texas desert.

One thing missing from the picture is a bucket, which might come in handy since first-time fliers apparently often throw-up during launch or landing.

Quote of the week:

Ashish Toshniwal is the founder and CEO of Y Media Labs, a global digital product and design agency.
Ashish Toshniwal is the founder and CEO of Y Media Labs.

“Almost no company has the resources to combat every social issue, and while making firm stances on social issues is great, creating real change requires diving deeply into a single issue, becoming educated, and taking concrete steps to combat the problem.”

– Ashish Toshniwal, Founder and CEO of Y Media Labs, describing how his company approached the challenge of effectively using its resources to drive social change.

You’re invited: Join us Tuesday at 12 p.m ET for a virtual event presented by PwC, spotlighting the biggest trends CEOs will focus on in the next 12 months. Register here.

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– Alexei

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Andreessen Horowitz raises $2.2 billion for its largest ever cryptocurrency fund

Marc Andreessen Ben Horowtiz Andreessen Horowitz

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) announced Thursday it is launching a $2.2 billion crypto fund to deploy more capital across blockchain and digital asset projects.

The fund, called “Crypto Fund III,” is a16z’s third and largest crypto venture fund.

“The size of this fund speaks to the size of the opportunity before us: crypto is not only the future of finance but, as with the internet in the early days, is poised to transform all aspects of our lives,” Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, partners who will co-lead the fund, said in a blog post.

The Financial Times reported in April that the venture capital firm would be raising $1 billion for a crypto fund. After that news, several VCs told Insider that firms have been scrambling to get into crypto deals.

A16z’s first crypto-focused fund in 2018 ushered in $300 million of LP commitments. Its second fund, which closed in April 2020, brought in about $515 million.

One of the firm’s first forays into crypto was a 2013 investment in Coinbase. This April, A16z exited Coinbase upon the cryptocurrency exchange’s public debut. According to estimates, the venture capital fund made so much money on Coinbase it may have banked enough to repay its last two funds totaling $4.5 billion.

A16z is also adding a swath of new hires to the crypto team. Among them is Bill Hinman, former director of the SEC division of corporation finance, and Brent McIntosh, former Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

Read the original article on Business Insider