Week in Review: Tech’s trashiest merger

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Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inbox yet again.

Last week, I talked about Juul’s unraveling mission statement and the highly-valued startup’s new Big Tobacco CEO. I got some great email responses and plenty of a pro-Juul DMs.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.


The big story

This section might slowly turn into my grievance of the week, but this week the tale isn’t a screed against Juul, it’s a prolonged eye roll after the merger of two adtech companies responsible for pumping the internet full of garbage.

Taboola and Outbrain have merged forming a $2 billion adtech giant. Those startup names likely don’t mean much to you, but they’re both responsible for a lot of the publishing world’s junkiest ad units.

You’ve seen them. You’ve tried not to see them.

These startups grew their networks by sending traffic from one partner to another and incentivizing the flow of more traffic through them.

By adding a bit of Javascript, publications were able to bring in traffic and more importantly effortless cash. It’s been an irresistible sell to plenty of publishers, but it’s also been an eyesore for many of them and a race to the bottom in terms of selling the most salacious headlines. This has brought in revenues to publications that aren’t afraid to sell a bit of

Being an adtech “giant” is pretty relative these days. Taking on Google and Facebook’s overwhelming ad duopoly is an incredibly noble goal — I would love for a true competitor to emerge — but I have very little faith that a frankensteined fusion of these two crap ad companies is going to do much to halt a war path, I hope someone else can find a path.

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on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
lucas@techcrunch.com

On to the rest of the week’s news.

Surface Duo Screen Shot 2019 10 02 at 8.27.54 AM

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Microsoft’s dual screen unveil
    Microsoft dove headfirst into dual-screen folding displays at its hardware event this week. Take a peek at the Neo and Duo. Read more here.
  • Tesla buys a startup
    Tesla has been arranging its efforts around robo taxies and its now making some acquisitions to bolster its presence. See them all here.

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. Facebook news can’t be trusted:
    [Facebook leads in news consumption among social feeds, but most don’t trust it]

 

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