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The Rise and Fall of Wish, the Walmart of Ecommerce

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Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8th, 2016. On December 2nd, Wish’s then-CEO, Peter Szulczewski, offered his (highly anticipated, no doubt) two cents on the win.

In a Medium op-ed titled “The Invisible Half,” Peter argued that the election shocker was a vindication for Wish’s business model. Just like Trump, he opined, Wish had been turned away by Menlo Park fat cats out of touch with the “value conscious consumers” Wish targeted.

He stopped short of saying that he and Trump targeted the same audience. Still, it was a bold statement that could only come out of a time of great upheaval. Now, just as the “Trump train” went off the rails, Wish faces a rude awakening.

How it all started

Prior to founding Wish’s parent company, ContextLogic, Szulczewski worked as an engineer at Google for several years. He left in 2009 and took six months to code an ad recommendation platform that predicted people’s interests based on their browsing behaviors. Sound familiar?

ContextLogic launched in 2010 and garnered $1.7 million from investors—with the help of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. What did they do? At the outset, they offered the ad software that Peter coded. According to Forbes, investors weren’t wild about ContextLogic’s business plan, but they loved the tech.

Still, ContextLogic didn’t really know what kind of company it wanted to be. It was only when Szulczewski brought on Danny Zhang—his old friend from college—as cofounder that the wheels started to spin.

In a meeting with investors, Peter and Danny unveiled a new plan: ecommerce. At the time, Amazon had already been running the game for upwards of a decade, and the ecommerce field was seen as a nonstarter.

In 2011, Facebook offered $20 million to integrate ContextLogic into its own system. Peter turned it down, to the chagrin of some investors, but for better or worse, that decision is what gave us Wish.com.

A Wish come true

Have you ever wondered why the ecommerce platform is called Wish? Well, back when it launched as Wishwall.me in 2011, it was more of a wish list than a shopping site. Using Facebook ads, it invited people to browse products and select what they wanted—but not actually buy them from the site.

This all turned out to be part of the plan. Once they got a solid user base, they went to vendors off of eBay and Amazon. They promised ready buyers, but only if sellers provided their stuff at a discounted price.

Wish’s strategy of targeted ads and discounted deals helped them grow consistently throughout the 2010s. Once they started selling on-site in 2013, they noticed that most of their sales were coming from Florida, Texas, and Middle America.

This defied the conventional wisdom that tech-savvy urbanites made the most use of ecommerce. It’s why Vox labeled them “the next Walmart” in 2015. Their discounted, third-party goods appealed to people who couldn’t afford what Amazon and other online retailers offered.

The highs and lows

It’s not hard to see how Wish’s rise mirrored the early “what just happened?” narratives of Trump’s victory. One thing Wish and Trump definitely have in common: their times on top were equally turbulent.

In 2017, Wish was the most-downloaded ecommerce platform in the US. In 2018, itt was the most-downloaded in the world. They signed a lucrative multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, they ran a World Cup campaign soon after, and their valuation soared into the billions.

At the same time, the higher Wish’s profile got, the more it became associated with shoddy experiences. Horror stories started to mount about people receiving products that were nothing like their photos… if they ever received them at all.

The New York Times reported that these mishaps weren’t always by accident. Fake stores and rip-off contests were operated by the company as “experiments” to see whether customers would complain. Wish became content creator shorthand for hilariously bad bootleg products.

And that’s when things were good.

Wish’s descent into chaos

In a way, it’s surprising that Wish fell as far as it did in the early ‘20s. If any industry wasn’t steamrolled by the pandemic, it was ecommerce.

Things started out strong; Wish continued to grow at the onset of COVID-19 and even went public in 2020, valued at $24 a share. The thing is, the more prominent it got, the more complaints grew.

They came under fire for targeting explicit ads at children. Cries of copyright infringement and false advertising led to hundreds of complaints to the Better Business Bureau.

In 2021, Wish’s valuation fell 82%. Today, you can buy Wish stock for less than $2, the sort of steep discount you’d expect to find on their app. Peter resigned suddenly in 2021; internal reports say he all but vanished from the office once Wish went public. The new CEO, Vijay Talwar, is still in the process of recovering the brand.

What happened?

The way Wish tells it, they struggled due to rising costs of ads that forced them to scale back their marketing. Wish is, after all, primarily a marketing business model. Targeting ads to consumers based on their history came first; the ecommerce site was an afterthought.

Truth be told, maybe Wish’s business model was doomed to start with. The initial idea was cool, sure, but outsourcing commerce to third parties offering steep discounts is already precarious, and Wish seemed quite willing to dig into it.

There is one other reason. You see, a big part of the reason Wish’s products could come at such steep discounts is because of a peculiar postage deal between the U.S. and China. A 2011 agreement allowed packages of 4.4 pounds or less to be shipped to the U.S. from China for less than the cost of shipping between states.

In 2018, Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union. Postal agreements with China categorized the country as developing, which he felt gave them an unfair advantage. One year later, a new deal was struck, keeping the U.S. in the Union and making it more costly to ship goods from China.

However you feel about that decision, it certainly didn’t help Wish. Szulczewski said at the time that Wish had a plan in place anticipating this change. But if you look at Wish’s rise and fall, both in value and in reputation, it definitely seems to line up.

That’s just one more thing that Wish and Trump may have in common: the person who caused their downfall.

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Business

Top 10 Instant Messaging Apps for Businesses (Free and Paid)

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The popularity of instant messaging (IM) has skyrocketed in recent years. A study shows that the number of instant messaging accounts worldwide will reach eight billion in 2022. Team messaging apps help people accomplish their tasks either in person or remotely. But the real question is whether you are maximizing the benefits of instant messaging. Check out the top instant messaging apps for businesses to use for efficient internal and external communications. 

1. WhatsApp 

whatsapp screenshot

WhatsApp is the most common instant messenger app around. With more than 2 billion users, there’s a good chance your customers are using its texting, group chats, file sharing, and voice and video calls features. There’s a group chat feature allowing only admins to send instant messages.

WhatsApp has an exclusive business tool to connect small enterprises with their customers. WhatsApp for Business offers a business profile, a greeting message, a quick reply, and an away reply.

2. Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger screenshot

Facebook Messenger is on WhatsApp’s heels as a step to boost your business’s external communication capabilities. It is available in almost every country except China. Your company’s Facebook page comes with a Messenger app that can be reached by customers who don’t have Facebook accounts.

3. Skype

Skype screenshot

Skype is a famous communication platform that allows users to make voice and video calls, send instant messages, and share files with other Skype users. It has evolved into a comprehensive tool for online communication. Particularly, it’s one of the widely-used instant messaging apps for businesses.

Skype provides real-time translation of voice and text conversations between users speaking different languages. Users can also make landline and mobile calls to non-Skype users at a low cost. Overall, Skype offers a variety of features to enhance online communication and collaboration.

4. WeChat

WeChat screenshot

WeChat is a multi-purpose social media app developed by Tencent in China. It is one of China’s most popular messaging apps, with over 1 billion monthly active users. On top of instant messaging, this app offers other features for comprehensive communication and lifestyle platforms. 

For example, users can make voice and video calls, send text messages, photos, and emoticons, and share their location with others. WeChat also includes a feature called “Moments,” which allows users to share their life events and experiences with friends and followers in a social media-style feed. 

5. Telegram

Telegram screenshot

Telegram’s user base is lower than other instant messaging services on this list. The messaging app is gaining popularity among businesses because of the features like supergroups, bots, and secret chats. Telegram also allows users to send files up to 1.5 GB, especially in countries with tight restrictions on messaging apps. However, several unique features can boost your lead generation. This instant man, like public channels, groups, and supergroups, allows up to 100,000 users per group.

6. Slack

Slack screenshot

Slack is a team collaboration platform that provides a central hub for communication, organization, and project management. It was founded in 2013 and has become one of the most popular instant messaging apps for businesses.

With Slack, users can send direct messages to individuals or groups and participate in public or private channels for specific topics or projects. The platform integrates with many other tools, like Google Drive and Dropbox. Slack also has a searchable archive of all messages for easy searching and access to information. It is popular among remote teams for being s a comprehensive communication, collaboration, and project management platform. 

7. Discord

Discord screenshot

Discord is a communication platform established in 2015 for online communities and gamers. It provides various tools for text, voice, and video communication, as well as file sharing and collaboration. 

The platform includes voice and video calling, direct messaging, server-based text channels, and file sharing capabilities. Discord also offers a range of customization options, including creating custom emotes and adding integrations from other tools, such as Trello and Spotify. Discord is a versatile platform for communication and collaboration, making it a popular choice for online communities and gamers.

8. Microsoft Teams 

Microsoft teams screenshot

The Microsoft Teams features a few key selling points, one being its in-messaging word-like formatting. You can change font styles and create bulleted lists within each IM. Then there’s Teams’s deep integration with Office 365. Collaboration within the entire Microsoft Office toolkit without leaving the app makes it great for the corporate environment.

9. Brosix

Brosix screenshot

Brosix has been providing an all-in-one business instant messaging app for enterprises of all types and sizes since 2006. It is a versatile business solution with dynamic productivity tools, robust security, and comprehensive administrative control.

Voice and video capabilities, screen sharing, and a native whiteboard solution streamline communication and collaboration. Broadcast messages let you target your message to a handpicked audience.

Unlike other instant messengers for business, Brosix’s unlimited-size file transfer never restricts file transfers, neither by size nor volume. Companies looking to boost customer support can quickly deploy the engaging live chat solution.

10. Fleep

Fleep screenshot

Fleep is an excellent tool for inter-business communication. With Fleep, you can chat with other Fleep users and teams outside your organization. The app delivers the core messaging capabilities you’d expect from an instant messaging app. There’s also unlimited messaging history, native task management, and the ability to send emails through the app. The disadvantage, however, is that Fleep doesn’t have collaboration tools. Moreover, you don’t get native voice and video calling.

Conclusion

The rapid growth of messaging apps as a communication channel for billions, not to mention the enhanced security and productivity of business instant messengers, make IM technology an essential business tool. When choosing the right messaging app for your business, examine your internal and external communication needs.

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Top 10 Public Relations Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Check Out

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Public relations is crucial to any business, as it helps build and maintain a positive image and reputation. In today’s digital age, there are a plethora of tools available to help entrepreneurs with their PR efforts. Continue reading as we explore the top 10 public relations tools every entrepreneur should check out to help them effectively reach their target audience and enhance their brand’s visibility.

1. HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

HARO screenshot

As its name suggests, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform connecting journalists with their stories’ sources. It also allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to share their expertise and insights. They can get in front of a wider audience by offering quotes, facts, and other information to journalists looking for sources for their articles. 

By using HARO, entrepreneurs and PR professionals can get their brands in front of a large audience and improve their visibility, credibility, and reputation. It has a free plan aside from its paid ones, with subscriptions that start at $19 per month.

2. Ahrefs

ahrefs screenshot

Primarily known as an SEO tool, Ahrefs can also be used as a public relations tool. It provides a comprehensive analysis of a website’s backlink profile. It enables PR professionals and entrepreneurs to see who is linking to their websites. Plus, you’ll know what content is attracting the most links. Through Ahrefs, PR professionals can identify key influencers and potential media contacts in their industry and reach out to them for possible coverage. 

Ahrefs can also be used to monitor competitors’ PR and marketing activities. This will provide valuable insights into successful PR strategies. The platform offers four premium plans with pricing that starts at $99 per month.

3. Google Alerts

google alerts screenshot

A free, web-based tool, Google Alerts allows you to monitor mentions of specific keywords or phrases on the internet. This tool can be helpful for PR professionals and entrepreneurs as a way to keep track of their online reputation and brand mentions. By setting up Google Alerts for your brand, products, industry keywords, or even your competitors, you can receive email notifications whenever your specified keywords are mentioned online. 

This helps PR professionals stay informed and promptly respond to negative mentions, track positive coverage, and share it with their audience. 

4. BuzzSumo

Buzzsumo screenshot

If you need to get insights on what’s popular, viral, and being shared across the web, BuzzSumo is one of the public relations tools you need. It is a content analysis tool that helps PR professionals and entrepreneurs monitor their online presence. And they can reach their target audience effectively. It provides insights into viral content, competitor analysis, influencer identification, and performance metrics. 

Its ability to track and measure the impact of PR and content efforts makes it a valuable tool for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition. It offers a free plan, but its paid ones have pricing that starts at $99 per month.

5. PRWeb

PRWeb screenshot

Another valuable tool for PR professionals and entrepreneurs looking to promote their brands, products, and services is PRWeb. It is a PR distribution service that helps businesses and organizations reach their target audience and improve their online visibility. 

PRWeb offers a wide range of distribution options, including national and local media outlets, social media, and industry-specific websites, ensuring that press releases reach the intended audience. You can choose from PRWeb’s four plans with subscription fees that start at $105 per month.

6. Respona

Respona screenshot

One of the most underutilized public relations tools you need to check out is Respona. It effectively helps organizations manage their media and public relations efforts. It provides a centralized platform for monitoring media mentions, conducting outreach to journalists, and measuring the impact of PR campaigns. 

The tool includes email automation, press release distribution, and real-time media monitoring to help PR professionals streamline their work and communicate more effectively with their audience. It offers a free trial, but if you want to continue using it, pricing starts at $99 per month.

7. Coverage Book

Coverage-Book screenshot

If tracking and showcasing your media coverage is a priority, Coverage Book is the public relations tool for you. It provides a platform for organizing and presenting media coverage from online and offline sources, including press releases, articles, and social media mentions. It also includes analytics to measure the impact of PR campaigns and provide insights into the performance of media outreach efforts. 

Coverage Book is designed to help PR teams demonstrate the value of their work to internal stakeholders and clients. This is a good investment, with prices ranging from $99 to $599. 

8. Business Wire

Business-Wire screenshot

A news distribution service and PR tool, Business Wire is used by organizations to distribute press releases and other news content to media outlets and stakeholders. It provides a platform for organizations to reach a global audience through distribution to a vast network of media outlets and websites, including major search engines, news databases, and social media platforms. 

Business Wire is a paid service with varying costs based on distribution and features needed. It offers different packages available to meet the needs of various organizations.

9. NinjaOutreach

NinjaOutreach screenshot

A public relations tool that offers a platform for simplifying your outreach efforts and building relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other influencers. NinjaOutreach provides email outreach automation, influencer database search, and analytics to track PR campaigns. It saves time and effort by automating repetitive tasks and providing insights into effective audience outreach. 

The tool is designed to help organizations improve their media coverage and build relationships with key influencers. Pricing ranges between $389 and $849 per month.

10. SourceBottle

SourceBottle screenshot

A journalism tool that doubles as a public relations tool is SourceBottle. It connects journalists and bloggers with experts, sources, and content for their stories. It provides a platform for experts, organizations, and individuals to offer their expertise and resources to journalists looking for references and information. 

SourceBottle also offers analytics to track the success of PR campaigns and provide insights into media outreach efforts. The service fee is based on the desired features and the number of journalists and bloggers to be reached. But for starters, you need to create an expert profile for a monthly cost of $25.

Final Thoughts

The world of public relations is constantly evolving. Entrepreneurs must stay up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies to get their messages and stories in front of their target audience. The public relations tools discussed in this list are some of the best in the industry and offer a range of features and capabilities to meet the needs of different types and sizes of organizations.

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Business

Bit.ai Review for Business [2023]

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When you’re collaborating on documents with other writers or co-workers, how do you keep everyone on the same page?

Truth be told, for most of you, the answer is probably Google Docs. It’s quick, efficient, and easy to share. But what if there was a better way?

Bit.ai professes to be “the world’s most powerful workplace and document collaboration platform.” In this Bit.ai review, we’ll put that claim to the test.

Bit.ai Review: What is Bit.ai?

Bit.ai review

Co-founded by Raj and Saje Sandhu, Bit.ai has been offering document collaboration to companies like Canon and Harvard University since 2007. The company employs a global team with headquarters in San Francisco.

What does Bit.ai offer?

Bit offers a lot of custom features depending on your business’ workflow. Some of their offerings include:

  • Collaborative document editor
  • Content library
  • Cloud integration
  • 100+ file types
  • Automated formatting, themes, templates
  • End-to-end document sharing
  • Branded documents
  • Customizable workspaces

We’ll explore some of the key features in the next section.

How much does Bit.ai cost?

Bit.ai pricing page

Individual users and small teams can use Bit.ai for free. Here’s a breakdown of their three pricing plans:

  • Free plan: $0/mo. Up to 5 members, 50 documents, 5MB file limit, 1GB storage.
  • Pro plan: $12/mo or $96/yr. Unlimited members and documents, 200MB file limit, 500GB storage.
  • Business plan: $20/mo or $180/yr. Unlimited storage, document tracking tools, dedicated support, free guest access.

They also offer bespoke plans for enterprise customers, as well as discounted pricing for education, startups, nonprofits, and businesses involved in the COVID-19 response.

Bit.ai Review: How to sign up

Sign up page with space for email address

Getting started with Bit.ai is as simple as inputting your email and receiving a six-digit verification code.

After that, you’re asked to fill out information like your name, your job title, and your department at your company, as well as create a password. Right off the bat, Bit puts businesses first, setting itself apart from Google Docs before you even log in.

Sign up page with spaces for company information

But it doesn’t stop there. When you sign up, you create a profile for your whole company, getting a custom subdomain for your team to access your library.

And there you have it! Once you’re logged in, you have the option to see a tutorial. If you want to upgrade to a paid plan, use the handy “Upgrade” button in the lower left corner of your dashboard.

Bit.ai Review: Features

The Bit.ai web app includes tabs for your dashboard, a list of all your workspaces, and a link tracking tab for Business and Enterprise users.

The Bit.ai dashboard

Bit.ai dashboard screenshot

Your Bit.ai homepage allows you to view recent activity, featured templates, tutorials and updates, as well as see how close you are to your document limit if you’re a free user.

With this limit, Bit.ai offers almost all of their features to free users. I prefer this model for free versions rather than arbitrarily limiting features.

You can open documents directly from the dashboard, but only using a featured template or a recently-opened one. To create something from scratch, you’ll have to head over to Workspaces.

The Workspaces tab

Workspaces tab with no workspaces created

First thing’s first: create a workspace. Workspaces are where your documents are created, saved, and shared. Once you’ve made one, you can create a new document, either by using a template, importing an existing document, or starting from scratch.

Creating a document with Bit.ai

Document editor with the heading "The Ins and Outs of Creating Documents"

When you create a new document in Bit.ai, you’re taken to a bare-bones writing editor similar to Notion. I always find it hard to start writing when you don’t have anything visual to guide you, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly intuitive.

I think the reason for this no-frills approach is to make it easier to take meeting notes and write down quick thoughts about a project. For more in-depth functions, however, you can highlight your text after you’ve written it to change the formatting. There’s also a + icon next to your cursor that lets you add links, embeds, files, code blocks, and more.

One neat feature of this text editor is the ability to link directly to other documents and content in your Bit.ai library. It makes it much easier to cross-reference documents than it is in Google Docs, Word, Notes, etc., another great benefit for businesses.

Close-up of drop-down menu with document options

There’s no need to save your documents in Bit.ai—that happens automatically. When you’re done, however, you can share it with collaborators and others, lock it to prevent further edits, change its associated colors, view stats and version history. Note: exporting is only available for paid users.

Bit.ai writing templates

Bit.ai template gallery screenshot

Bit offers a huge range of templates, with themes geared towards managers, marketers, designers, educators, and much more. Some of these are designed to function as static documents, such as thesis papers. Others can be hubs for entire business processes, like the video production template.

After trying out a few of these templates, they’re great at showing off all of Bit.ai’s functionality, but they’re useful even if you don’t use Bit for everything. They offer great templates for outlining your processes, making it easier to set a roadmap and including things you might not have thought of.

Importing documents into Bit.ai

Document importing options menu including Word, Google Docs, Office 365, Confluence, Quip, Zoho Docs, Dropbox Paper, Markdown, Text, and PDF

While Bit.ai professes to support a massive range of file types, their import menu is a little peculiar. You can choose to import from “Word” (which just allows you to import .docx files from your computer), from a number of cloud-based sources, or Markdown, .txt, and .pdf files.

The strange thing is, you can’t click on “Word” and then upload a .txt file, nor can you click on “PDF” and upload a Word doc. I have no idea why it’s formatted like this, but it made my upload attempts very confusing.

Not to mention, formatting isn’t included when you upload, and the first two uncommon file types I tried (Pages and Final Draft) were both incompatible.

Bit.ai Review: Final thoughts

Homepage screenshot from Bit.ai for Bit.ai review

So, how does Bit.ai live up to its thesis statement? Is it really “the world’s most powerful document collaboration platform?”

Eh, I don’t know about powerful. It’s mighty useful, and certainly more business-oriented than any of its major competitors. But it’s actually a little lacking as a writing tool. You can’t choose a font, there’s no toolbar, and there’s limited formatting options.

There are some good resources here for content management. The templates are stellar, and it has some of the easiest tools for cross-referencing other documents that I’ve ever seen. However, I’ve definitely seen tools that make it easier to organize documents and upload from your device.

Final grade: 6/10 😐

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