The pandemic hasn’t slowed down dating app S’More — at least according to CEO Adam Cohen-Aslatei, who said that the app’s daily active user count doubled in March and hasn’t gone down since. “When people are working form home, they have much more time to dedicate to their relationships,” Cohen-Aslatei told me. The app (whose name is short for “something more”) launched last fall and has supposedly attracted nearly 50,000 users. The goal is to move beyond the superficiality of most dating apps, where you first learn about another user and then unlock visual elements (like a profile photo) as you interact. Cohen-Aslatei said the team has also spent more on marketing to attract a diverse audience, both in terms of racial diversity (something S’more reinforces by not allowing users to filter by race) and sexual orientation, with 15% of users identifying as LGBTQ. Of course, dating someone new can be challenging when meeting up in-person poses real health risks, but Cohen-Aslatei said S’More users have gotten creative, like remote dinners where they order each other takeout from their favorite restaurants. And now that things are reopening (though some of those reopenings are getting pulled back), users are asking, “How do we transition these virtual relationships into IRL?” Image Credits: S’More To give users more ways to interact, the S’More team recently launched a video calling feature. But Cohen-Aslatei noted, “We had to to create it in a way that was really fitting for our app … Women actually don’t want to see a guy right away, when you don’t know if they’re a creep.” So in S’more’s video calling, the video is blurred for the first two minutes, which means you’ve got to actually start an interesting conversation before you can see who you’re talking to, and before they see you (a concept that may be familiar to viewers of Netflix’s dating show “Love is Blind”). S’More has also expanded geographically, launching last week in Los Angeles (it was already available in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago). And it recently started its a video series of its own on Instagram’s IGTV — the S’More Live Happy Hour, where celebrities offer dating advice. “There’s this negative history of dating apps perpetuating negative online behaviors, fake images, catfishers,” Cohen-Aslatei said. “But now we’re going into a new era of authenticity, where we’re going from super vain to super authentic. S’more is one of those apps that’s going to lead you in that direction.”
S’More is a new dating app that looks to suspend physical attraction for something more
Agora isn’t the only company headquartered outside the United States aiming to go public domestically this quarter. After catching up on Agora’s F-1 filing, the China-and-U.S.-based, API-powered tech company that went public last week, today we’re parsing DoubleDown Interactive’s IPO document. The Exchange is a daily look at startups and the private markets for Extra Crunch subscribers; use code EXCHANGE to get full access and take 25% off your subscription. The mobile gaming company is targeting the NASDAQ and wants to trade under the ticker symbol “DDI.” As with Agora, DoubleDown filed an F-1, instead of an S-1. That’s because it’s based in South Korea, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. DoubleDown was founded in Seattle, according to Crunchbase, before selling itself to DoubleU Games, which is based in South Korea. So, yes, the company is filing an F-1 and will remain majority-held by its South Korean parent company post-IPO, but this offering is more a local affair than it might at first seem. Even more, with a $17 to $19 per-share IPO price range, the company could be worth up to nearly $1 billion when it debuts. Does that pricing make sense? We want to find out. So let’s quickly explore the company this morning. We’ll see what this mobile, social gaming company looks like under the hood in an effort to understand why it is being sent to the public markets right now. Let’s go! Fundamentals Any gaming company has to have its fun-damentals in place so that it can have solid financial results, right? Right? Anyway, DoubleDown is a nicely profitable company. In 2019 its revenue only grew a hair to $273.6 million from $266.9 million the year before (a mere 2.5% gain), but the company’s net income rose from $25.1 million to $36.3 million, and its adjusted EBITDA rose from $85.1 million to $101.7 million over the same period.
Fintech startup Revolut has expanded its open banking feature to Ireland. The feature first launched in the U.K. back in February. Once again, the startup is partnering with TrueLayer to let you add third-party bank accounts to your Revolut account. The feature launch also marks the launch of TrueLayer in Ireland. For now, Revolut users can only link their Revolut account with AIB, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland. Revolut and TrueLayer will add support to other banks in the future. Revolut currently has 1 million customers in the Republic of Ireland. The idea behind open banking is quite simple. Many online services rely on application programming interfaces (APIs) to talk to each other. You can connect with your Facebook account on many online services, you can interact with other services from Slack, etc. Financial institutions have been lagging behind on this front, but it is changing thanks to new regulation and technical updates. With open banking, your bank account should work more like a traditional internet service. When you connect your bank account with Revolut, you can view your balance and past transactions from a separate tab that lists all your linked accounts. Users can also take advantage of Revolut’s budgeting features with their bank accounts. As TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear noted when he first covered Revolut’s open banking feature, Revolut was originally authorized for Account Information Services (AIS) by the U.K. regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. It lets you access and display information from other financial institutions. But the startup now has permission to carry out Payment Initiation Services (PIS). It means that you’ll soon be able to initiate transfers from your bank account directly from Revolut. It should make it much easier to top up your Revolut balance, for instance. While this feature might seem anecdotal, Revolut wants to build a comprehensive financial hub for all your financial needs — a sort of super app for everything related to money. With open banking, you theoretically no longer have to open your traditional banking app. Image Credits: Revolut
Light’s push into smartphones was an inevitability. Sure, the startup turned heads with its pricey L16 camera, but these days mobile photography is almost exclusively the domain of the handset. Early last year, the answer arrived in the form of the trypophobia-inducing Nokia 9 PureView. In a category where manufacturers raced to add more cameras, the PureView had the most, with a five-hexagonal array. It was new, innovative and for most, it was overkill. At the very least, however, it gave Nokia/HMD some bragging rights and managed to set the handset apart in one of the most hotly contested corners of the smartphone hardware race. But Light is getting out of the smartphone game. Ultimately, the competition may have just been too stiff for a small startup, especially with many manufacturers working on their own native hardware and software solutions. Light confirmed the move this week in an email to Android Authority, writing simply that it was “no longer operating in the smartphone industry.” It’s a surprising bit of news, given that mobile partnerships seemed like the most logical way forward for the company, which drummed up a $121 million in a SoftBank-led round back in 2018. That Series D brought the Palo Alto-based company’s total funding up to more than $181 million. More recently, it also signed deals with Sony and Xiaomi. No word on what such a move means for those partnerships going forward. Nor is it clear what life after smartphones looks like for Light. We’ve reached out to the company for more insight into its plans.
Spanish startup Bnext is revamping its cashback program so that you can buy from partner stores directly from the Bnext app and get some money back. The company has partnered with Button and the feature is available as an open beta. Traditional cashback portals are a bit clunky. When you find an offer that gives you 2% of your money back, you click on the offer, get redirected to the partner site and hope that your purchase will be registered. A bit later, you get some money back on the cashback website, which you need to cash out to your bank account. If you’re using Bnext as your bank account, you’ll be able to access rewards directly from your banking app. In addition to that, you don’t get redirected to another site as you purchase goods directly from the Bnext app. There are multiple levels. If you’re making your first purchase through the feature, you get 1% in savings on average. If you’ve made more than three purchases over the past 30 days, you get 3% in savings on average. In order to reach level 3, you need a premium Bnext subscription. With that level, you get 5% in savings on average. Partners include AliExpress, Booking.com, eDreams, Europcar, Nike, Just Eat and more. Eventually, the startup wants to let you earn rewards from in-store purchases as well. Bnext is creating a new revenue stream with this feature as the startup will keep a share of the revenue from each transaction.
Bnext provides current accounts and payment cards. You can receive notifications for each transaction with your card, and temporarily lock and unlock your card. You don’t pay any foreign transaction fee as long as you spend less than €2,000 per month with a standard account. The company has also put together a marketplace of fintech products. You can earn interest by lending money to small companies on October, get a loan, an insurance product and more. Earlier this year, the startup expanded to Mexico. The company plans to roll out rewards in Mexico soon. Bnext has managed to attract a bit less than 400,000 users.