If you’re planning to publish videos on YouTube with mention of the coronavirus, good luck. That is, if you’re expecting to continue monetizing with them. YouTube has made the sudden decision to demonetize videos with reference to the coronavirus epidemic. Apparently the move was to counter a flood of hoax videos on the platform.



I’ve just learned of the very unfortunate news that WordCamp Asia 2020, due to take place in Bangkok from February 21, has been cancelled. We all know about Mobile World Congress – to date the highest-profile trade show to be cancelled due to uncertainty around the coronavirus epidemic. But unlike MWC, WordCamps are community driven and supported by individuals – often with very limited budgets and resources. Compared to an industry event such as MWC, the cancellation of WordCamp Asia will be far more impactful in terms of personal costs.

In light of this reality, Wordfence and GoDaddy have graciously offered to help defray expenses associated with cancelling flight and hotel reservations. Thank you!



At long last, and on the exact day promised by Microsoft (January 15), their all-new Edge browser is here. It’s available for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and macOS, and you can get it right away by grabbing a download at microsoft.com/edge. As first announced late 2018, the new Microsoft Edge replaces the current (or soon legacy) Edge browser with an overhaul that utilizes Chromium as the foundation. In simple terms, this means that the new Edge gives you basically the same web browsing experience as if you were using Chrome – thereby ending the painfully unreliable web rendering of past Microsoft web browsers.

For now, it’s available if you manually download and install it yourself. But if you’re willing to wait around, the new Edge will eventually ship with a forthcoming Windows Update for your PC.



There’s an interesting profile of Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, with a focus on what appears to be essentially a done deal: an end to public “like” counts on Instagram users’ postings. This has been in testing throughout 2019 on a trial basis in many countries including the US. Interestingly, Mosseri sees the eventual elimination of like metrics as atoning for mistakes that happened in the past at Facebook, loading to emotional pressures and even toxicity of being popular on social media.

Whether or not Instagram will remove public “likes” isn’t the real question here, but whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snap will follow suit based on the same rationale.



Investor pressure has been steadily increasing on richly funded tech startups to show a path to profitability. When this happens, management is typically forced to shift drastically from burning cash to slashing costs – particularly in labor. Getaround, a car rental startup that received a $300 million infusion from Softbank, is reportedly laying off about 25% of its workers. Another Softbank-backed company, robotic pizza maker Zune, is said to be cutting its workforce by 50%.

It’s not immediately clear which operations are being impacted by these layoffs. But it should never be surprising to see marketing greatly affected, since startups characteristically have poured lots of cash into beefing up their marketing to drive fast growth. We are already seeing many signs of marketing teams being decimated when tech companies need to cut back on costs. It’s a trend that’s only going to continue as long as the pressure builds to prove a viable path to generating profits.



Sprout Social is now a public company of December 13, 2019. This company basically feeds on the data firehoses of social media companies to provide insights to customers. As previously reported here, Sprout Social will essentially be at the mercy of continual access to proprietary, non-public data to keep its business flourishing. The company’s opening day IPO closed 2.4% down, after initially spiking as high as 8%.

A very likely reckoning to come will be the pressure to become profitable – a reality now hitting many high-growth tech companies. Sprout Social reported revenue of $74.5 million in the first 9 months of 2019, but also a loss of $21 million.



Big news from Instagram. They’ve been running trials in seven countries of publicly concealing the number of likes of a user’s posts. Now, the company just revealed they’re going to test this in the US. Details remain to be seen, but the reporting indicates users will be selected at random to have their like metrics concealed.

This move is a clear indication that Instagram is at least somewhat liking what they’re seeing with their tests outside the US. (Yes, pun intended.) But it’s sure to amplify stress levels among those in the influencer economy. Instagram may not benefit much financially from the influencer-brand marketer relationship, so hiding like counts wouldn’t hurt their bottom line much either.



We all know that tech investors are constantly on the chase for the next big thing with big valuation potential. For 2020 that could well be the influencer economy, in the form of tangentially tech-centric products facilitating the relationship between influencers and brands or companies, or making small investments in influencers for a share of their future revenue. As it turns out, influencer-centric startups are indeed attracting some VC interest (story below).

It’s interesting to see this happen as some marketers are now questioning whether the idea of throwing lots of money at an (purportedly) influential person really makes sense. This plus the never-ending scams of faking follower and like counts, and Instagram possibly ending the practice of displaying public user metrics.