Instagram has new engineering, design, and communication chiefs in the wake of the departure of the app’s cofounders.

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Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, shows off a new donations feature onstage at Facebook’s annual developer conference on April 30, 2019. (Photo: Facebook)

Facebook has tapped three veteran executives to fill leadership roles at Instagram after the departure of the app’s two co-founders, Cheddar has learned.

In recent weeks, Facebook-owned Instagram quietly named new engineering, design, and communications chiefs, the company confirmed. All three executives each worked at Facebook for roughly eight years and served in similar roles at other parts of the company before joining Instagram’s ranks.

The new hires come as CEO Mark Zuckerberg is working to more closely integrate Facebook’s suite of apps, which includes Messenger and WhatsApp. …

Before you bring internet access to a new area for the first time, it helps to know how many people live there.

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Photo: Facebook

Facebook has the goal of eventually saturating the entire world’s population with its services.

That strategy was on display Tuesday, when the social network announced that it had used artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to build a hi-res population map for the entire continent of Africa.

The next step? Facebook told Cheddar that within “months” the company will have mapped the entire world’s population.

“It’s months, not years,” James Gill, a Facebook software engineer who is working on the project, said when asked about the timeline.

Creating such a large map—which involves training Facebook’s advanced AI systems, pulling high-resolution satellite imagery, and working with local governments and NGOs—represents the incredible degree to which Facebook works to bring internet access to far corners of the globe. …

The executive leading Snap’s augmented reality and camera platform explains how the company is preparing for a post-phone world.

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Eitan Pilipski. (Photo: Snap)

Perhaps no other tech company has made augmented reality as widely adopted as Snap, the maker of Snapchat.

While the company has struggled to grow its user base and retain executives, there’s no question that Snap has been at the forefront of putting AR, or the overlaying of virtual objects onto the real world, in the hands of normal people. The app’s iconic puppy dog filter and constantly changing roster of AR lenses have now been widely copied throughout the industry. …

Instagram’s new product chief talks about the app’s push into e-commerce, life after the departure of Instagram’s two cofounders, and Facebook’s controversial plan to unify its family of apps.

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Vishal Shah.

At the end of 2018, Instagram overhauled its leadership in the wake of the sudden departure of its two cofounders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Part of that overhaul included the elevation of Vishal Shah, a longtime Facebook employee who previously ran Instagram’s business products, to the Head of Product role. Shah reports to Instagram boss Adam Mosseri, who in turn reports to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

A specific area of focus for Shah over the past couple of years has been shopping on Instagram. …

“Project Cognac,” will feature games made for Snapchat.

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Snap Inc. plans to announce its long-rumored gaming platform for developers next month, Cheddar has learned.

The mobile game platform, internally codenamed “Project Cognac,” will feature a handful of games from outside developers designed to work specifically in the Snapchat app, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The new games initiative will be unveiled at Snap’s first-ever summit for content and developer partners in Los Angeles on April 4, the person said, adding that video initiatives like more original shows will also be announced. An invitation to the event that was seen by Cheddar includes the tagline, “Less talk. More play.” …

Chris Daniels led WhatsApp for less than a year.

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Two of Facebook’s most important executives, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and VP of WhatsApp Chris Daniels, announced Thursday that they were suddenly stepping down from their roles.

The loss of the two leaders, who together have more than 21 years of combined work experience at Facebook, comes after CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently unveiled a strategy to unify the company’s disparate messaging apps and shift from public posts towards private, encrypted messaging strategy.

Chris Daniels, who led WhatsApp for less than a year, specifically left over disagreements with Zuckerberg’s plan to unify the messaging infrastructure across Facebook’s suite of apps, a WhatsApp employee told Cheddar. …

The EU’s investigation into Amazon is now “quite advanced” and has collected “enormous amounts of data” from Amazon and third-party sellers.

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Margrethe Vestager. (Photo Credit: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock)

The European antitrust watchdog responsible for record fines against Google and Facebook is conducting an “advanced” probe into potentially anti-competitive practices by Amazon, according to EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.

After announcing the probe in September 2018, the EU’s investigation is now “quite advanced” and has collected “enormous amounts of data” from Amazon and its third-party sellers, Vestager said in an interview with Cheddar on Sunday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

“We’ve been very thankful to all the businesses that are giving us enormous amounts of data from their own markets, from their insights,” said Vestager, whose office has the power to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global revenue for breaching EU antitrust policies. “And we’re in the process of analyzing this. …

The business of app-based dating is booming.

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A recent independent valuation of Tinder has placed the popular dating app’s value at roughly $10 billion, an astounding increase from a $3 billion valuation less than two years ago that has potential ramifications for an explosive lawsuit against the company.

According to people familiar with the matter, the valuation commissioned by parent company Match Group reveals a spike in value that cements Tinder as the crown jewel in its dating app empire, which also includes apps like Hinge and OkCupid.

The new valuation of at least $10 billion is also highly relevant to a multi-billion dollar lawsuit between Match Group and a group of early Tinder employees. …

The lighthearted and youthful nature of TikTok has quickly put it at the center of American meme culture.

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TikTok, the Chinese-owned company that has quickly become one of the hottest apps in North America, has hired a veteran YouTube executive to oversee its U.S. operations.

Vanessa Pappas, who was YouTube’s Global Head of Creative Insights, is now the video sharing app’s first-ever General Manager for the U.S., the company confirmed to Cheddar.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Vanessa Pappas to TikTok US as General Manager,” a TikTok spokesperson exclusively told Cheddar. “Her experience and proven success in connecting global audiences through video make her a wonderful leader to guide TikTok’s continued product, team, and community growth.”

Pappas worked at YouTube for more than seven years, overseeing the video platform’s growth teams and specifically working on growth tactics for influencers and celebrities. She recently relocated from New York City to Los Angeles, where TikTok’s U.S. headquarters is based. …

This is the clearest sign yet of Facebook’s ambition to be a big player in the nascent crypto industry.

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Facebook VP of Blockchain David Marcus. (Photo Credit: AP/Shutterstock)

Facebook has made its first acquisition in the blockchain space.

The social network has quietly hired the team behind Chainspace, a small blockchain startup founded by researchers from University College London, Cheddar has learned. Chainspace was building a decentralized “smart contracts” system that could facilitate payments and other services through blockchain technology.

The acquisition of Chainspace’s team, a move known in Silicon Valley as an acqui-hire, is the clearest sign yet of Facebook’s ambition to be a big player in the nascent blockchain industry. …


Alex Heath

Reporter for The Information, covering Facebook and its competition. Previously at Cheddar, Business Insider.

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