Facebook Drives Messenger Further With New Uber Feature | Crunch Report


Hail an Uber inside Facebook Messenger, Slack
launches its own apps directory, Google shares the top searches of 2015, and more… It’s Wednesday, December 16 and this is Crunch Report. Facebook Messenger just got a nifty new feature
– you can now order “Transportation” right from within the messaging app. It’s actually
only linked to Uber at the moment, but more ride services are in the works. What makes
it handy inside Messenger is that it’ll also alert your chat thread when you’ve grabbed
a ride so they can keep track of your arrival time. Facebook’s taking a page right out of
WeChat’s book, that’s China’s biggest messaging and calling app that lets users book cars
on ridesharing platforms like China’s Didi. Side note – WeChat’s parent company Tencent
previously blocked users from booking with Uber a handful of times recently, although
Facebook says that’s not what spurred this partnership. Uber in Messenger is easy to
use – just click on the car icon, or find “Transportation” in the three-dot “more”
menu below where you write your messages. An incentive – anybody who uses Messenger
Transportation will get a $20 Uber credit.. generous, but also a good way to get users
to try it out, and hopefully like the experience. As for the competition, a source close to
the matter tells TechCrunch that Uber rival Lyft will also offer rides through Facebook
Messenger starting in January. Of the 700 million people already on Messenger, only
a few several U.S. cities are getting access to transportation in the app today, but Facebook
says everyone in the U.S. should get the feature by Christmas. Slack is THE social and collaboration tool
of the enterprise… there are others, but with 2 million daily active users and 570k
paid seats, Slack’s the top dawg….and now, it has its own Apps Directory! Slack.com/apps
helps you discover all the apps that you can hook into Slack and customize your experience,
whether it’s a service you already use, or something new altogether. Slack also announced
it’s teamed up with a group of investors – Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures,
KPCB, Spark, and Social+Capital to launch an $80 million Slack-first fund…meant to
fund enterprise software developers making Slack integration part of their core product.
The Slack Fund’s first 3 investments are in project management app Howdy, communication
app Awesome, and Small Wins, which isn’t even in Slack’s app store yet. Smart move here
– even if a competitor product does everything Slack does, you can’t duplicate a developer
ecosystem. Remember when Apple bought Topsy for $200M
two years ago? I forgive you if you don’t… the deal was pretty quiet.. at the time, we
all wondered what Apple wanted with the social media analytics service, since Apple historically
didn’t really do social, and a lot of people loved Topsy, particularly because it was one
of just a few services that had early access to Twitter’s full data firehose. Well, in
its first tweet since being acquired, Topsy has announced it’s shutting down. How apropo.
Not a big surprise here – the company stopped allowing premium users paying for additional
analytics and services to renew their accounts about a year ago,. Topsy.com now redirects
to an Apple support page for search within iOS. No explanation at all, which is slightly
odd but Apple is odd in general about these things. So, what *did* Apple buy Topsy for?
Techcrunch’s Jon Russel writes that perhaps building out the relevancy engine of the App
and iTunes Stores with social signals to the search algorithms could improve the relevance
of search results and help Apple surface apps that users want the most. Plus, tracking app
trends across social networks would give Apple more info to fine-tune categories and collections
of apps. Google, world’s biggest search engine, knows
a lot about what we’re all searching for. And this year’s “Year In Search” list
is the ultimate Google zeitgeist. So in 2015, what made the top search list? Basketball
player Lamar Odom, Paris, the movie Jurassic World, and the action game Agar.io topped
the search list, although Google also offers category lists like sports, tv shows, and
consumer tech, too. Google only counts its own results, so countries that favor other
search engines, for example China and Russia, aren’t factored in the way US searchers would
be. In 2015, Google counted more than 897 million searches about Paris, which suffered
two major terrorist attacks this year.. and in November right after the second, Google
saw the most searches about the city ever performed in its history, with queries like
“What happened in Paris?” and “Who were the terrorists?”. Other top news events
– Hurricane Patricia in October; terrorist group ISIS; and Nepal after the country’s
devastating earthquake back in April. While we’re on a year-end roll, what were
the best performing tech stocks of 2015? Gotta hand it to Amazon, which entered the year
trading at $308.52, and closed today around $676…a 115% gain! Congrats, investors! This
year Amazon finally generated revenue from its retail business, and saw big growth in
its amazon web services. Other stocks you’d be glad you owned this year? Facebook rose
34%, Netflix spiked a whopping 145%, Alphabet (formerly Google) stock rose 40%, Microsoft
gained 20%, Nvidia saw a 65% rise, GoDaddy and Adobe both saw their stock up 30%, and
Salesforce closed today up 33% on the year. Don’t worry, we’ll be reporting the worst
performing stocks too… lest you forget that 2015 was also a punishing year for tech. That’s the report for today. I’m Sarah
Lane. Crunch Report airs every weekday at 7 pm Eastern,
4 pm Pacific, on Techcrunch.com. You can also find us on iTunes, and on YouTube. See you
tomorrow!

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