Twitter Opens Hong Kong Office To Make Money In China


Twitter may be blocked in mainland China, but there is still plenty of money to be made from beyond the Great Firewall. The company opened a Hong Kong office today with the goal of helping companies in China market to overseas consumers.

“Opening our Hong Kong office now and hiring a sales team to work directly with advertisers across the Greater China market will contribute to our next phase of growth in Asia,” Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, Shailesh Rao, told the South China Morning Post. TechCrunch has contacted the company for more information on how it plans to achieve that.

Twitter’s China strategy is similar to the approach taken by Facebook, which is also banned in China. Even if the government miraculously decided to unblock them, Twitter and Facebook would both face daunting competition from homegrown social networking services like WeChat and Sina Weibo.

In a talk at…

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Kik Introduces Hashtags To Bring Mini Social Networks To Its Messaging Service


Messaging app Kik is embracing one of the hallmarks of social networks after it introduced hashtags to its service. An update to the iOS and Android apps today turns hashtags into clickable links to chat groups where Kik believes like minded users can congregate to discuss topics, share photos/information and (potentially) meet new people.

It’s been a busy year for Kik. The Canadian company recently raised $38 million and completed its first acquisition (buying messaging app GIF Relay) — 2014 has seen it push into content and monetization with the launch of an in-app browser to bring the internet to chats, promoted chats to (finally) involve brands, and more safety features.

Now, with hashtags, Kik co-founder and CEO Ted Livingston said the company is back to the basics.

“Hashtags resumes our focus on the core chat experience. We’ve spent a lot of time building up content, and now we…

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Uber Hires The Team Behind Its Spotify Integration To Staff A New Mobile Dev Shop In Amsterdam


In between raising more money, fighting Lyft and regulators, and denying it will investigate journalists, Uber’s global expansion continues. To spearhead its mobile growth, Uber is setting up a mobile development shop in Amsterdam, led by one of its earliest employees and staffed by a set of new hires: a team of Dutch developers who originally worked on Uber’s Spotify integration and have served as advisors to the company since 2009.

Uber is expected to announce the mobile push in Amsterdam later today, along with the news that the office will be headed by Uber’s first engineer (and employee number two), Conrad Whelan.

In the meantime, Netherlands blog iCulture has published more details. It reports that Uber has effectively taken on 10 former employees from Dutch firm, including the founder Jelle Prins, who will oversee design while Whelan will run engineering.

Uber has not acquired the whole agency. (“There is no…

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Mo’ Data Mo’ Problems


The most exciting promise of Big Data–and if you hate that term, you’re not alone, but I think we’re stuck with it now–is this: the data collection happening on an increasingly gargantuan scale, run through modern data-processing and pattern-recognition algorithms, will unearth powerful new insights into our world and, especially, human behavior. Unfortunately this is also its most worrying problem.

Right now, Big Data and privacy seem to be mortal foes. Personal data can reduce your car insurance–at the price of privacy. It can provide valuable public health data–by capturing sensitive private health information. It can help the police track bad guys–by creating a facialrecognitionpanopticon with technology that is practically crying out to be abused. It can construct a meaningful narrative out of, say, all the pictures you’ve ever posted to the Internet–even if you didn’t intend that to happen.

These aren’t purely theoretical…

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Ebay Now Pulled From App Store As Company Rethinks Its Same-Day Delivery Plans


Ebay Now, the same-day local delivery service from the online marketplace giant, was pulled from the App Store over the weekend, where previously it allowed mobile customers to shop from their phones in order to receive items from nearby retailers later that day for an additional $5 fee. The changes come about as eBay is rethinking how it wants to handle the high costs associated with running same-day delivery services.

According to an eBay spokesperson, the eBay Now service is “moving to core.” That is, the service will no longer exist as a standalone application but will instead be folded into eBay’s main mobile app and website.

The delivery service, which originally launched in San Francisco in 2012, later expanded into San Jose, the Bay Area Peninsula, Manhattan, then Brooklyn and Queens, and finally Dallas and Chicago. Its further plans to expand to 25 markets by the end of 2014, however, did…

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ThriveTracker Gamifies Mood Tracking With Real World Rewards


Depression plays tricks on your mind, even when you are well. I’ve dealt with episodes of major depressive disorder since I was teenager and one thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m depressed, I find it almost impossible to remember what being well feels like, which makes me feel trapped and hopeless. On the other hand, when I’ve recovered, I tend to forget many of the warning signs and symptoms of an episode. My friend, mental health advocate Esmé Wang, calls this phenomenon “phase blindness.”

Keeping a journal or regularly logging in on a mood tracking app helps combat phase blindness, but I find committing to both of those things difficult, no matter how I am feeling. ThriveTracker, a new app developed by Adrian Cunanan, who has bipolar disorder, wants to encourage people to keep tracking their mood with a points system that can earn them real world rewards like gift…

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