Facebook parent company Meta has been ordered by the UK competition watchdog to sell the gif creation website Giphy, the first time the regulator has moved to block a deal struck by one of the Silicon Valley giants.
The CMA launched an investigation last year into Meta’s $400m (£290m) takeover of Giphy, the largest supplier of animated gifs to social networks such as Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, after identifying competition concerns.
The regulator said Meta could cut off the supply of gifs to rivals, or demand more user data from them in order to keep using Giphy. The CMA said that a takeover would also remove a potential competitor from the £7bn UK display advertising market, where Facebook is the biggest player accounting for about half the market.
The CMA said it was “particularly concerning” that Facebook terminated Giphy’s advertising services, which the company was poised to expand, at the time of the merger.
“By requiring Facebook to sell Giphy, we are protecting millions of social media users and promoting competition and innovation in digital advertising,” said Stuart McIntosh, chair of the independent inquiry group that carried out the CMA’s in-depth investigation into the deal.
“Without action, it will also allow Facebook to increase its significant market power in social media even further, through controlling competitors’ access to Giphy gifs.”
Meta, which is considering appealing against the decision, said that the deal would be good for Giphy, consumers and businesses.
“We disagree with this decision,” said a spokesperson for Meta. “We are reviewing the decision and considering all options, including appeal. Both consumers and Giphy are better off with the support of our infrastructure, talent, and resources. Together, Meta and Giphy would enhance Giphy’s product for the millions of people, businesses, developers and partners in the UK and around the world who use Giphy every day, providing more choices for everyone.”
Responding to the CMA’s provisional findings in August, which indicated that a sell-off of Giphy was the only option, it accused the UK regulator of “engaging in extraterritorial over-reach”.
Meta said at the time that blocking the deal to buy Giphy, which is based in New York and does not have operations in the UK, would “send a chilling message to startup entrepreneurs: do not build new companies because you will not be able to sell them”.
The CMA and Meta have been at loggerheads through the investigation process. In October, the CMA moved to fine Meta £50.5m for “deliberately” refusing to supply information to prove it was following an order to keep Giphy’s business separate from Facebook during the investigation period.
“This should serve as a warning to any company that thinks it is above the law,” said Joel Bamford, a director of mergers at the CMA, at the time.
Listening Widely available, episodes weekly This podcast is equivalent to stepping into the studio with a musician. A specially recorded track by artists such as Björk, Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and Neko Case is followed by an interview in which they explain how they made it. From Björk elucidating how she used the noise of frozen lakes to create soaring, glockenspiel-strafed choral pop, to Crutchfield enthusing about her love of white noise, it is hugely illuminating. Alexi Duggins
The Dangerous Art of the Documentary Widely available, episodes weekly What is it like to get involved in a twisty murder case and personally meet the participants? This new series hears director Tiller Russell interview the creators of shows such as Wild Wild Country and Don’t F**k With Cats. It might be heavy on industry detail, but it’s a comprehensive look at the film-making process. AD
Vibe Check Widely available, episodes weekly Fabulous trio Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones and Zach Stafford offer a weekly kiki “from a decidedly Black and queer perspective” in their new podcast. Just like in their group chat, the idea is to check in on each other. Plus the latest news and culture, with spot-on chemistry and disses delivered with love. Hannah Verdier
Missed Fortune Apple Podcasts, episodes weekly “I’m in a car with some guys I don’t know on our way to somewhere we’re not supposed to be … ” The stakes are high in this nine-part series, in which host Peter Frick-Wright joins the perilous treasure hunt for $1m that retired art dealer Forrest Fenn hid in the Rocky Mountains. Hollie Richardson
Night Fever WOW Podcast Network and Spotify, episodes weekly The most gossipy music podcast returns, with James St James, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato spilling all the tea from 1970s clubland to today. Nightlife favourites including Moby and Michelle Visage bring hilarious stories to help the hosts celebrate the glorious era before social media when New York clubbers could bump into RuPaul, Andy Warhol and Madonna. HV
There’s a podcast for that
This week, Fleur Britten chooses five of the best podcasts for fashion fans, from an intimate interview show with fashion journalism’s grand dame to a (cat)walk through the history of Black style
Creative Conversations with Suzy Menkes For years, the veteran fashion critic Suzy Menkes and her unfeasibly large quiff were always first out of the blocks at the end of a fashion show, in order to secure those backstage interviews. As the former fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, and then editor of Vogue International, Menkes is widely regarded as the grande dame of fashion journalism, with enviable access to the industry’s biggest names. Her independent podcast, launched during the first lockdown of 2020, capitalises on those connections, taking listeners behind the scenes on in-depth conversations with the likes of Demna Gvasalia, Dries van Noten and Manolo Blahnik.
The Business of Fashion Podcast If you like being in the know on fashion industry developments, the Business of Fashion’s weekly podcast is required listening. The globally respected fashion news website launched its audio arm in 2017, and has since brought its journalistic rigour to the podcast via topical features and insightful interviews with, for example, Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, Anna Wintour’s biographer Amy Odell, and Skims CEO Jens Grede. The features – on topics including the rise of vacation clothing, and Shein’s $100bn valuation – are always ahead of the curve.
Dressed: The History of Fashion Many of us view clothes simply as packages of colour, shape and texture. Fashion historians, however, see layers and layers of meaning and nuance within those elements. They see the implicit cultural significance of clothing choices, and understand what our clothes are really communicating. British fashion historians Rebecca Arnold from the Courtauld Institute and Beatrice Behlen of the Museum of London have been enlightening listeners on all matters fashion history since 2018 with their highbrow yet approachable weekly podcast, Bande A Part – all with a remarkably modern outlook.
Wardrobe Crisis While many of us would like to shop more sustainably, learning the finer details of how to do that tends to get shunted down our list of priorities when there are so many more fun distractions on offer. The Sydney-based British fashion journalist and author Clare Press, who was Vogue’s first sustainability editor, makes the task an enjoyable one, with her engaging, hard-working podcast Wardrobe Crisis, launched in 2017. Press’s tone is always upbeat and solutions-focused, and guest hosts help to keep the subject matter fresh and appealing.
Black Fashion History When the American content creator Taniqua Russ asked people to name their favourite Black designers and brands, most drew a blank. So in 2019, she started doing her own research, sharing her findings in a podcast as a resource for people to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Chronicling the contribution of Black people around the world to the fashion industry, this no-frills podcast has introduced its audience to the work of model Carol Collins-Miles, the milliner Lisa McFadden and the designer Therez Fleetwood, among others.
Why not try …
A glut of intimate, sideways stories in hit podcast Love + Radio, whose whole archive is now available to binge.
A guided yoga practice (yes, really) with a little singer called Dua Lipa in the new series of At Your Service.
The true story of Putin’s “number one enemy”, shot and killed in 2015, in Another Russia.
If you want to read the complete version of the newsletter please subscribe to receive Hear Here in your inbox every Thursday
China’s DNS resolvers fail two thirds of the time when handling queries for IPv6 addresses, and botch one in eight queries for IPv4, according to a group of Chinese academics.
As explained in a paper titled “A deep dive into DNS behavior and query failures” and summarized in a blog post at APNIC (the Asia Pacific’s regional internet address registry), the authors worked with log files describing 2.8 billion anonymized DNS queries processed at Chinese ISPs.
Among the paper’s findings:
86.2 percent of queries were for A records – the record for a resource with an IPv4 address;
10.4 percent were for AAAA records that point to resources with an IPv6 address;
93.1 percent of queries for A records succeeded;
35.8 percent of requests for AAAA records succeeded.
The researchers – led by professor Zhenyu Li and Donghui Yang, both from the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences – suggest the reason for the low success rate of AAAA record queries is poor performance by some Chinese players.
One outfit, 114DNS, succeeded with just 14.5 percent of AAAA queries. Alibaba Group’s AliDNS succeeded 54.3 percent of the time – more than Google or Cisco’s OpenDNS, which were found to resolve 43.4 percent and 49.2 percent of AAAA queries respectively.
A fifth of DNS resolvers never succeed at handling IPv6 AAAA queries.
“Overall, A and MX queries are successfully resolved most frequently, while AAAA and PTR manifest lower success rates,” the summary reads. “Specifically, the failure rate of AAAA queries is surprisingly over 64.2 percent — two out of three AAAA queries failed.”
“We also found the success rates for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) were lower than that of well-established domains, primarily because of the prevalence of malicious domains,” wrote professor Li.
However the researchers did not identity why DNS resolution rates are so low, especially for AAAA queries. Nor do they mention what the poor IPv6 resolution rates mean for China’s plans for mass adoption of IPv6 by 2030.
The blog post recommends users adopt “a larger negative caching time-to-live for AAAA records associated with domains that only map to IPv4 addresses reliably.” Checking DNS resolvers’ success rates is also suggested ahead of making a choice of DNS provider. ®
In other DNS-related news, Cisco’s OpenDNS service today wobbled for a few hours in North America.
WeWork offices, wherein some of our vultures toil, experienced network problems, as did at least one university. We’ve also heard reports that the incident impacted email security guardian Spamhaus.
UIT Vendor Update: Mitigation steps have been taken to address network issues, but the root issue with the OpenDNS vendor are still occurring. You may continue to experience issues as the vendor works to resolve this permanently.
Jack Pierse, co-founder of Dublin-based unicorn Wayflyer, was one of the many backers of Arc’s $20m Series A round.
The co-founder of one of Ireland’s tech unicorns has invested in a US company developing tools for start-up financing.
Wayflyer’s Jack Pierse was one of several investors who joined Arc’s $20m Series A funding round. The round was led by Left Lane Capital, which is also an investor in Wayflyer.
Other investors included Clocktower Technology Ventures, Torch Capital, Atalaya, Bain Capital Ventures, Soma, Alumni Ventures, Dreamers VC, NFX, Y Combinator and the founders of Plaid, Column, Chargebee, Vouch and Jeeves.
Like Dublin-headquartered Wayflyer, which reached unicorn status earlier this year following a $150m Series B round that valued the company at $1.6bn, Arc is merging technology and finance together.
Wayflyer’s platform provides e-commerce merchants with financing and marketing analytics tools to help them access working capital, improve cash flow and drive sales. It was founded in 2019 by Pierse and Aidan Corbett.
Arc, meanwhile, is focused on providing software start-ups with financial products and tools. It was launched in January 2022 and graduated from the Y Combinator start-up accelerator programme in March.
“We are building the number one digital bank for software start-ups,” said co-founder and CEO Don Muir.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with this talented group of investors who bring relevant experience transforming fintech and SaaS start-ups into market-leading platforms,” he said.
He added that the capital from this funding round will enable the company to build and scale its products “to meet the digital banking needs of a new generation of software-driven businesses”.
The San Francisco-based start-up now supports more than 1,000 high-growth software start-ups, providing them with funding options and financial tools to scale faster. It offers a cash management account and financial analytics to drive growth.
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.