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WhatsApp Goes Full Facebook
August 4, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

(This is a guest post from Appilco Head of Platform and Modern Monopolies co-author Nicholas Johnson.)

RIP WhatsApp.

This week, the dream for what WhatsApp could have been was officially pronounced dead. What happened? Facebook announced a host of new business-oriented features that are coming to WhatsApp in a push to finally have its biggest acquisition generate meaningful revenue. Ads are included, contrary to the original vision for WhatsApp, whose founders once called advertising an “insult to your intelligence.”

As I’ve written previously, WhatsApp’s original direction presented an opportunity for a true Facebook competitor to emerge. But since Facebook’s $ 19 billion acquisition, it’s become increasingly clear that WhatsApp will inevitably end up looking like yet-another Facebook platform. That is to say, it will be driven by ads and the mass collection of user data, as required by Facebook’s main revenue model.

With the WhatsApp Business API, this transition has kicked into high gear.

Show Me the Money

WhatsApp’s business API will enable businesses to establish an official presence on WhatsApp, similar to how they exist on Facebook today. However, this doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to start getting spammed by messages from companies, as customers still have to contact a business on WhatsApp first before the business can send them messages.

After that, using the API, businesses can respond to messages from customers. They can also send them updates such as order confirmations, delivery notices, appointment reminders and more. Many businesses will also use it for customer support, and the API will likely enable WhatsApp to plug into existing CRM solutions that businesses use for that purpose.

As for cost, the API will let businesses respond to customer inquiries for free within 24 hours. After that they will pay a fee per message sent of between half a penny to 9 cents, depending on the country. This framework will encourage businesses to respond to customer messages quickly. It also helps eliminate the incentive for businesses to spam customers after the initial outreach, as each message will cost them money. If that message doesn’t create real value for the customer, you won’t want to send it.

Additionally, WhatsApp will also be introducing ads, not all of which will appear within the WhatsApp app itself. How does that work? Business accounts on WhatsApp will soon be able to place ads on Facebook (and likely Instagram too) that let customers click to open up a WhatsApp message with that business. Additionally, WhatsApp will be adding advertisements to its Status platform, which is its version of Facebook’s many Snapchat Stories clones. Facebook has been testing these ads already with Instagram Stories, and WhatsApp Status ads will tie into the same Facebook ad system as Stories.

Facebook’s Stalling Revenue Engine

Taken together, these moves remove much of what made WhatsApp stand out from the rest of the Facebook ecosystem. Following the departure of WhatsApp’s founders, every new change makes WhatsApp more and more like Facebook.

At its core, Facebook, much like Google, is driven by a giant money-making advertising engine. Eventually, everything that Facebook touches gets pulled into its vortex. Now WhatsApp, despite promises to the contrary to both users and regulators, will be no different.

For Facebook, the shift comes on the back of a poor showing in its latest quarterly earnings and as increasing investments in safety and community monitoring are likely to compress its profit margins in the years ahead. Facebook appears to be moving decidedly out of growth mode and into profit-taking mode with all of its platforms. Now that WhatsApp is one of the largest messaging platforms in the world, it’s well positioned to turn into the monetization engine Facebook likely envisioned when it shelled out $ 19 billion.

Tech

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This is How Small Business Owners Can Take Full Advantage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
April 13, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Tax time is no one’s favorite time of year. But for small business owners, this year’s filing deadline at least comes with the promise of better rates ahead: Many of the changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in December, are going into effect.

As entrepreneurs, we should expect to benefit–at least, temporarily–from the new tax plan. My company, Manta, conducted a poll in January and found that 83 percent of business owners anticipate their companies will be positively impacted by the changes. Nearly as many, 80 percent, said they support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Some are already feeling the benefits of having more money in their pockets, according to another poll we conducted last month. 34 percent of small business owners said their business income had increased as a result of the tax reform, just three months into the year. 42 percent have already changed their budgeting or financial planning because of the new tax law.

It’s time to start preparing for the changes–if you haven’t already.

For the most part, the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that benefit small businesses go into effect this tax year — meaning they won’t impact the returns that are due this month. 

The 58 percent of small business owners who have not yet adjusted their budgets should get started, however. While that big refund check may be a year away, it’s not too early to plan accordingly and make sure you take full advantage of the potential savings. 

The first step is to review your company’s legal structure and determine how it will affect your taxes. One of the most important changes in the new tax law allows pass-through entities (such as S corporations and LLCs) to deduct up to 20 percent of their business income.

However, this doesn’t apply to certain professional services firms. Review your situation with a tax professional or attorney–you might be able to adjust your business structure to take advantage of this deduction. 

Make the most of your company’s tax savings.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts allows businesses to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment and other property, instead of depreciating the expense over five or more years. The new law also protects these write-offs from being rescinded in the future. 

This is great news for business owners who want to invest in their growth. According to our polls, 28 percent of small business owners plan to use their tax savings to invest in new technology and 21 percent plan to open a new location or expand. The immediate write-off should make these investments (and your cash flow) much more manageable in the short term.

Just check with your tax advisor before making a major purchase–you could run into unforeseen obstacles. For example, the depreciation rules for “heavy” SUVs–those with a gross vehicle weight above 6,000 pounds–are different than for light trucks and vans. You want to be prepared for the potential impact on your taxes.

Streamline your expense tracking and tax prep.

Make sure you accurately track and document all business expenses. Our polls found that 21 percent of small business owners still use paper receipts to track expenses.

Think about that for a second. It’s messy and inefficient, and you risk losing receipts or miscategorizing expenses.

Hiring a pro is probably the best way to ensure that you take full advantage of the new deductions and stay on the right side of the law. The U.S. tax code is confounding to even the most experienced business owners–20 percent of poll respondents told us they didn’t understand all the deductions available to them. Whatever else Congress accomplished with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they definitely didn’t simplify things.

Use a mobile application or accounting software to scan and save digital copies of your receipts and categorize the expenses. Then, when tax time rolls around, you can output a well-organized report or import the data directly into your tax prep software. And if you use an outside accountant or tax preparer, they’ll greatly appreciate you providing a digitized expense report instead of handing over shoeboxes full of paper receipts.

Tech

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Full Text: Premier Li Keqiang's remarks at roundtable with prominent figures from US economic …
December 6, 2016 9:20 pm|Comments (0)

On China’ s big data and cloud computing industries and access of foreign capital, Premier Li said: Big data and cloud computing are fast-growing …


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