Evernote slashes price of Premium subscription as many executives depart

Evernote is currently offering a sale on its Premium membership, slashing its yearly subscription price from $70 down to a much more reasonable $42. The company offered the same deal earlier this year. If you’re interested in grabbing the deal, it’s available now on Evernote’s site. It only applies if you pay one lump sum for the annual subscription.

Meanwhile, Evernote has confirmed to TechCrunch that in the past month the company has lost many senior executives, including its CTO Anirban Kundu, CFO Vincent Toolan, CPO Erik Wrobel and head of HR Michelle Wagner. The company did not comment on a reason for the departures, but a source close to the matter tells TechCrunch that “Evernote is in a death spiral… Paid user growth and active users have been flat for the last six years and their enterprise product offering has not caught on.”

Evernote currently has three different monthly pricing tiers: free, Premium for $7.99 per month (which adds up to nearly $100 over a year), and Business for $14.99 per month. So this deal might be worth taking advantage of if you rely on the app. Premium does afford many more features than free — like up to 10GB of monthly uploads and the ability to scan business cards — but there are also several Evernote alternatives now that are cheaper (or free) like Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote and others.

Snapchat, Weather Channel, and others hit with anti-Semitic vandalism

New Yorkers who opened up Snapchat, The Weather Channel, CitiBike, or a number of other apps and services this morning found that the name of their city had been swapped with anti-Semitic vandalism, replacing it with “Jewtropolis.”

The offensive change appears to have been a result of edits to Mapbox, a widely used service that powers the maps inside of all these apps and more. The change was also spotted inside the app for StreetEasy and on The New York Times’ map of 2016 election results. Mapbox also lists Vice, Vox (our sibling site), and the FCC as groups that have made use of its maps, however, the vandalism didn’t show up on those sites.

Snap tweeted that “Snap Map relies on third party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism. We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately.”

Mapbox later responded with a statement calling the change “disgusting” and a “hate-speech attack.” The company said it has systems in place to make sure changes are valid, and that this one was initially blocked by AI. However, a human reviewer then approved the change, in what Mapbox is calling an error. “We will continue to investigate this act and make appropriate changes to further limit the potential for future human error.”

The changes appeared to be visible as early as 5AM ET, judging by a tweet sent at the time. By around 9AM, it appeared that the maps were in the process of being fixed, with the offensive name only being visible at certain view levels on some maps. Mapbox said it was able to remove the vandalism “within an hour,” however that seems to be more like an hour from when the change was starting to be widely noticed.

Online maps have been subject to vandalism many times in the past, often because individual users can suggest changes. A few years ago, someone edited Google Maps to place an image of Google’s Android logo peeing on an Apple logo somewhere in Pakistan. Google shut down the editing tool that allowed that to happen the next year. And just this week, Google Maps was edited to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after Sen. John McCain — something that has been proposed but has not yet happened. It was quickly reversed.

Those changes are less problematic, but they speak to the immense problems that mapping services open themselves up to by failing to vet changes that can appear in front of millions of people.

That seems to be what happened to Mapbox here. Though the company’s statement isn’t entirely clear on it, Mapbox says it sources mapping information from more than 130 data sets and that this change came from “a source” that has repeatedly attempted malicious edits — presumably a single user. Mapbox says it has a “strong double validation monitoring system” in place that catches 70,000 changes per day for human review. But that still requires humans to get it right; and as the last several years of online moderation have shown us, that doesn’t always happen.

Update August 30th, 12:19AM ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Mapbox.

Tinder is rolling out a college-only service, Tinder U

Tinder officially announced today that it’s launching a service called Tinder U, a version of Tinder that’s only available to college students. To log in to the feature for the first time, users must have a .edu email address and be geolocated on campus. The functionality is exactly the same as regular Tinder, although the UI looks slightly different: a badge depicting users’ universities will be displayed on their main profile image.

The service will be rolling out to iOS devices at four-year, accredited, not-for-profit schools in the US, Tinder says. Its parent company Match Group, Inc. first announced this product during its quarterly earnings call a couple weeks ago, when it also said Tinder accounted for most of the company’s revenue growth. There were 3.8 million paying Tinder users in Q2 2018, versus 1.7 million at the same time last year.

It’s easy to see why Tinder would want to appeal to college students directly. Colloquially, I’ve heard students already regularly use the app to meet people, so segmenting them off and making it more centrally focused on their campus life makes sense. Tinder’s marketing frames the service as ideal for finding a study buddy or someone to hang out with on the quad. Also, if Tinder can build in a new dedicated user base of 18-year-olds, it can also start converting them to paid users sooner. Facebook employed a similar strategy when it first launched. The platform required a .edu email address to build out a loyal college following before opening widely a few years later. The opposite is happening with Tinder: everyone can use it, but college kids now might want a safe haven from creepy older people.

Still, it’s unclear whether Tinder U only works on campus or whether students can switch between regular Tinder and Tinder U. We don’t want to forget about the possibility of dating townies! We’ve reached out to Tinder for clarification and will update if we hear back.

WeTransfer buys creative apps Paper and Paste from FiftyThree

FiftyThree, the app developer of the popular iOS sketching app Paper, has had its assets acquired by WeTransfer, a cloud-based file transfer company. Details regarding the acquisition and terms weren’t disclosed, but WeTransfer announced in its newsroom that the deal includes FiftyThree’s entire patent portfolio, assets, and the executive team, which will remain on board. The company itself will be phased out.

For a quick refresher: Paper was crowned by Apple as the iPad App of the Year in 2012. In December that year, the studio followed with Paste, a collaborative presentation tool for teams. FiftyThree even debuted a pencil stylus before the Apple Pencil was announced for the iPad to mostly positive appeal.

For fans of Paper, WeTransfer says it intends to keep the app running, with teams in New York and Seattle joining WeTransfer to continue operations for its 25 million users. FiftyThree’s founders Georg Petschnigg and Andrew Allen will also work to “develop WeTransfer’s suite of creative tools.” WeTransfer has made a push for the creative market in an effort to stand out from Google Drive and Dropbox. Last fall, it unveiled an ad campaign that showcases it as an ad platform in addition to offering its file transferring service.

Correction: Article was updated to reflect WeTransfer’s acquisition of FiftyThree’s assets, not the company itself.

Trulia Neighborhoods lets you see crowdsourced local reviews of an area before you move in

It can be overwhelming to get a sense of what a neighborhood is like before moving there just by consulting multiple websites to piece together general information. To help, real estate website Trulia is launching Neighborhoods as a guide for buyers and renters. The tool features crowdsourced local reviews and photos to offer a better sense of a particular area, down to parent reviews of schools, insights on commute, and local safety. Users can also read up on other intangible factors like vibe, noise levels, and local insights that are harder to research through Google.

Neighborhoods builds upon Trulia’s What Locals Say feature that launched earlier this year. Users can read resident insights like how much street parking is available, and whether a park is dog-friendly. So far, more than 15 million locals have submitted reviews and feedback. The feature also builds on Trulia’s Local Legal Protections tool, which lets homebuyers know if their new home is in an area that has laws to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Inside the Neighborhood” stories show area history, amenities, and local reviews.

Neighborhoods also has an “Inside the Neighborhood” feature, which uses the now ubiquitous stories format to display photos and information about parts of a city.

Trulia Neighborhoods is available nationally, and currently offers original photography and drone footage for 300 neighborhoods including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Austin, and Chicago. Trulia plans to add photos for 1,100 more neighborhoods throughout the end of this year.

Tinder co-founders sue Match Group for $2 billion

Tinder’s co-founders and several current senior executives are suing the platform’s parent company for $2 billion in damages, according to a complaint filed today. The lawsuit claims that Tinder’s owner, IAC and Match Group, robbed the employees by lowering Tinder’s valuation and taking away their stock options.

The 10 plaintiffs include co-founders Sean Rad, Justin Mateen, and Jonathan Badeen, three current executives, as well as former executives and directors.

According to the suit, there were written contracts between IAC and the employees for Tinder to be valued on dates in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021 when they would be given the chance to exercise stock options. But instead, IAC merged Tinder into Match Group in 2017, and by doing so, it’s alleged to have intentionally undervalued Tinder. Then, when Tinder stock options were converted into Match stock, the employees received fewer and less valuable options.

The lawsuit alleges IAC created false financial information, lied about Tinder’s continued rapid growth, and delayed the launch of important features that drive the platform’s revenue, like Tinder Gold, in order to lower the company’s valuation.

Tinder is one of Match Group’s biggest and most profitable brands. Features like Tinder Gold and other in-app purchases have led the platform to be the top-grossing iOS app as of last September. But according to the lawsuit, despite the boost in revenue, IAC continued to value Tinder at $3 billion, which was the same valuation it gave the platform two years before the merger with Match. IAC also allegedly threatened to fire these employees if they revealed how much Tinder was actually worth.

Last week, during IAC’s earnings call, the company stated that Tinder was on pace to earn $800 million in revenue this year, which is allegedly 75 percent more than the projections Match made to the employees last year.

“When it came time to pay the Tinder employees what they rightfully earned, the defendants lied, bullied, and violated their contractual duties, stealing billions of dollars. A jury will now hold the defendants responsible for their multibillion-dollar theft,” attorney for the employees, Orin Snyder from the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, stated in a press release. The suit also alleges that Greg Blatt, who was placed as interim CEO of Tinder to replace Rad, groped and sexually harassed Tinder VP of marketing Rosette Pambakian, but IAC did not fire him as it needed him to complete the merger.

We’ve reached out to Match for comment. In a statement to Recode, the parent company responded, “Since Tinder’s inception, Match Group has paid out in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees.” The statement continues, “Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually-defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome…We look forward to defending our position in court.”

Update August 14th, 2:14PM ET: This article has been updated with a statement from IAC.

Anchor now lets podcasters receive Patreon-style pledges from listeners

Anchor’s app makes it really easy to throw together a podcast. But if you keep doing that and manage to build an audience, there hasn’t been an easy way to get paid for it. Now Anchor is launching an option: a feature called Listener Support that allows listeners to pledge $1, $5, or $10 per month to specific podcasts.

Each podcast creator will have to individually enable the Listener Support feature. Beyond that, they and their supporters won’t have a lot of options — it’s locked into those three pledge points and a once-per-month payment. The whole thing is very reminiscent of Patreon, which allows people to voluntarily support creators, with their bill coming once a month.

Anchor will take a 4.5 percent cut of all payments, and Stripe, its payments processor, will take another 5 percent plus some flat processing and payout fees. Fortunately, podcast listeners won’t have to be Anchor users to sign up. After enabling Listener Support, Anchor will automatically add a link to a podcast’s show notes on all distributed platforms, which will bring people to a website where they can enter their payment information and select a pledge.

While podcasters could always include ads inside of their episodes, Anchor doesn’t offer a way to automatically do that or run some kind of pre-roll advertisement, like YouTube does. That means a podcast had to get big enough to find advertisers on its own, which isn’t going to be possible for the vast majority of Anchor’s audience of startup podcasters. Asked about placing ads inside of podcasts, a spokesperson for Anchor said “there is potential for additional monetization features on the platform in the future.”

Anchor still hasn’t said how many people are creating or listening through its app. So while Anchor might offer creators an easy way to get started, it’s not clear how big of an audience it offers them. Last year, however, it began distributing podcasts to different platforms, which allows the platform to be used for creation without limiting shows to the app’s built-in audience.

Last month, Anchor launched a “podcast lab” in Manhattan, where podcasters can book time, for free, to come in and record a podcast with a more professional setup. While Anchor has always been about creating and listening to audio, the app only really crystalized its focus on podcasting at the beginning of the year, when it redesigned its app around creating individual shows.

The popular Musical.ly app has been rebranded as TikTok

Musical.ly users opened their phones to a surprise today as they found the app replaced with a new logo and name: TikTok. The app was acquired by Chinese company ByteDance in November 2017, which absorbed Musical.ly into its own TikTok app this morning. Existing Musical.ly users have been migrated over to their new TikTok accounts, which have been updated with a new interface but still retains the core feature of both apps: short-form videos up to 15 seconds.

Teen karaoke app Musical.ly, which had just reached a milestone of 100 million monthly active users, is part of ByteDance’s larger strategy to break into the US market. In the first quarter of 2018, TikTok was the world’s most downloaded iOS app, according to a report from US research firm Sensor Tower.

TikTok will remain a standalone app in China, where it operates as Douyin and boasts over 300 million monthly active users. You might have even seen Douyin clips floating around before: maybe in the form of the “Karma’s a bitch” makeover meme that went viral earlier this year, or news of Peppa Pig getting banned from the platform due to her status as a “subversive gangster icon.”

Some Musical.ly users are welcoming the changes, while others are debating how to identify themselves going forward:

With Vine successor v2 “postponed indefinitely,” TikTok seems like the closest thing we’ll get to having Vine back. But although Musical.ly and TikTok are both platforms for sharing 15-second videos, TikTok will be missing an essential part of the Musical.ly history, which was built on teens lip-syncing and dancing to music. All the features to make karaoke videos are still there, but rebranding the app with a new name and forcing the old Musical.ly users to migrate to a new platform is a move that may alienate the original community. It’ll be up to the teens to decide whether TikTok’s popularity in China will translate to success in the US.

Grubhub will acquire restaurant loyalty platform LevelUp

Grubhub, an online food delivery service, announced today that it will acquire LevelUp for $390 million — in cash.

The announcement came in the company’s second quarter earnings release, which was first reported by TechCrunch. In the report, Grubhub’s CEO Matt Maloney says that this acquisition will serve an entirely different purpose than the ones the company has made before, focusing more on connecting customers and restaurants instead of expanding its current delivery reach.

“LevelUp’s leading restaurant-facing technology and the team they have built in Boston will help Grubhub provide the most comprehensive solution for restaurants, powering everything from online demand generation to fulfillment for restaurants,” Maloney said in the release.

LevelUp is a mobile ordering and payments platform that restaurants can integrate into their business to offer rewards and discounts for loyal customers. Popular fast casual restaurant chains like Chopt, Sweetgreen, and Potbelly Sandwich Shop already use the service.

The acquisition still needs to go through the standard regulatory waiting period, but when the deal closes, LevelUp staff will work under the Grubhub umbrella. Maloney told TechCrunch that the acquisition won’t change much for LevelUp’s business operations and that it’s possible for the company to continue on as its own brand.

Telegram Passport lets users log into services that need real-world IDs

Telegram is introducing a new feature called Passport, a single sign-on option for services that need actual real-world IDs or documents. Passport will let users store their files and data in Telegram’s cloud and pass it directly on to services that need that information (via Neowin).

The company envisions users using Telegram Passport logins for signing up for things like financial services or ICOs, which tend to need real-world ID cards, passports, or other documentation. With Passport, you’ll be able to upload your documents and personal information, which users will be able to pass along to supported services with a single tap.

Obviously security is a big concern here, given that any document that you’d be using to legally prove your ID is probably the sort of thing you’d like to keep safe, but Telegram says that any data uploaded are stored in its cloud with end-to-end encryption. Additionally, all of your data is encrypted with a password, with Telegram claiming it has no way to access the data on its end — only you and the companies you choose to share it with will be able to see your documents and information.

Of course, for Passport to be useful, it’ll need companies to actually support it, and right now there’s only one: ePayments.com, an online payments system (although Telegram has also set up a test page if you’d like to see how it works for yourself.) Telegram is offering Passport to developers free of charge, with additional details on how to integrate it available over at its developer site.