Is time up for TikTok?

March 17th, 2023

Together with

A.Irony. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, Future Party people. And if there was ever a reason to drink today, it may be this: Remember back in January when major layoffs hit Microsoft? Well, it turns out some of those impacted were actually part of its AI ethics team. Despite plans to double down on ChatGPT and expand its AI product suite this year, the company let go of the people responsible for managing its risks. Whoops.

In other news… TikTok’s CEO heads to Capitol Hill, Gen Z likes it bright, and ad buyers strike gold with video podcasts.

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TikTok’s tied up // Illustration by Kate Walker

Does banning TikTok even matter?

The Future. The news is out: the Biden administration is demanding that ByteDance sell TikTok or risk the app getting banned in the country. TikTok doesn’t plan on accepting either option without a fight (especially since it’s unlikely China will let it sell with its algorithm intact). Despite the company’s signals that it’s not the best time to do so, TikTok may have no choice but to IPO to bring more structural transparency to its operations and wrest it from overall Chinese control.

Cut the cordHere’s the state of play on TikTok staying on roughly 100 million Americans’ phones.

  • TikTok doesn’t like those options. CEO Shou Zi Chew says that the US can achieve the same protection from Chinese interference if it just approves the deal it’s been negotiating with CFIUS, which would ringfence US operations from ByteDance.

  • The White House isn’t buying it. Officials point to a 2017 Chinese law that forces companies to share user data with Beijing for national security purposes. Also, the FBI and DOJ are investigating ByteDance for using TikTok to spy on Americans.

  • Now Congress has the baton. Two bipartisan bills are working their way through Congress that would either give the White House or the Secretary of Commerce the authority to ban TikTok. Both parties are concerned about Chinese influence on the app.

Chew will get the opportunity to plead his case to the House Energy and Commerce Committee next Thursday.

Just a matter of timeSo, the big question: is the US government right to be worried about TikTok? Well…

  • Forbes found that US citizens were spied on by ByteDance using TikTok, and Chinese state media used TikTok accounts to attack certain politicians before the last midterms.

  • BuzzFeed News found that ByteDance “pushed pro-China messaging to US users of another (now-defunct) app.”

And we can’t forget to mention that the overall relationship between the US and China is frosty right now — the existence of TikTok in America is just one of the battlefields.


Gen Z has a color scheme

The Future. Gen Z seems to really be into bold, bright colors that capture a nostalgia for a pre-modern tech past and an ironic hope for the future. Why does it matter? The pops of color overtook social media and are starting to be created for every Gen-Z-facing product on the market… reinforcing the cycle of Gen-Z attachment. If you want to know what’s about to trend in culture, knowing your colors may be a good starting point.

Color forceEvery generation has a generalized color scheme (pastels of the 50s, neons of the 80s), reports FastCompany… and Gen Z is breaking out the crayon box to make their mark on this decade.

  • Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute, says that Gen Z likes primary colors that reflect a sunnier outlook on life — though we think that’s meant ironically.

  • Instead, those pops of color could be a subconscious nostalgia for a simpler time — one that they may have never lived.

  • They are also influenced by a sort of “techno-nostalgia” that ironically co-opts a stereotypical look of the 90s — a time before social media.

  • When it comes to darker hues, Caroline Guilbert, head of creative content at Coloro, says that they “elicit the vibrancy and vastness of the cosmos,” leaning into their curiosity about astrology and mysticism.

Meta huesBut most importantly, the most popular colors somehow travel between the physical and digital worlds, mirroring how Gen Zers’ lives are split the same way. That’s why Pantone’s Color of the Year is “Viva Magenta,” aka “Magentaverse.”

And for you color forecasters out there, “Cyber Lime” is expected to be huge next year.


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Let’s take a look at Tehani, a real-life Oceans EA+:

  • Mount Holyoke College (BA in Economics)

  • University College London (MA in Education)

  • Tehani spent several years working at the World Bank in DC

  • Lead ops and marketing for NCUK after moving back to Sri Lanka

  • She’s been praised for her raw intelligence, drive, and curiosity by previous employers

Price: $3,250/month

As you can see, Oceans white-glove outsourcing service is a great resource for improving your business, keeping costs down, and taking your workforce global.


Friends with the brand // Illustration by Kate Walker

Advertisers get ready for the rise of video podcasts

The Future. With Spotify doubling down on video podcasts and YouTube already being a powerhouse for the format, marketers are shifting for the video revolution of audio. But with video comes the need to actually look presentable on camera, which may reduce the number of shows marketers can advertise on.

Look at this audioDan Granger, CEO of audio ad agency Oxford Road, calls the advertisers’ pivot to video podcasting a “little mini gold rush.”

  • Industry execs say that video podcasting gives brands more opportunities to capitalize because audiences can… you know… see, and hear.

  • Specifically, it allows for things like “unboxings, product placement, and brand logos,” according to Horizon Media’s VP, Maria Tullin.

  • But Granger says it can also be “as simple as having a Coke can on the table near a podcast host during a recording of an interview show.” Good ‘ole product placement.

And since so many video podcasts are produced as livestreams, marketers are looking to treat them the same way they would advertising on Twitch — weaving the brand in more organically with the host or sponsoring a stream and then attaching ads to clips that are put up on socials.

Basically, the more sense available to audiences, the more ways they can be advertised to.

Future Forecast

For those of you who like to stay a step ahead, here are a few things we’re excited about right now

  • Stuff we’re watching. In the wake of everyone’s favorite mother/father figure, Pedro Pascal, going off the air, we know you’re all clamoring for the next thing to latch onto. You can engross yourself in the latest Vanderpump scandal, heal your heart with Ted Lasso, solve crimes with Natasha Leone or get therapy with Jason Segal. But, in light of St Patrick’s Day, we think you should settle in with Bad Sisters, Derry Girls, Normal People or, of course, Banshees of Inisherin. Sláint

  • Album we’re vibing. Yes, this album came out a year ago but what is time anyway. Carrtoons’ newest album, Homegrown is a turn toward classic soul with a modern Motown feel. It’s chill vibes with an infusion of punchy jazz. Maybe our mood is reflective of the fact that it’s been raining in LA for four months, but this album is gloomy and hopeful at the same time. And we love it.

  • Newsletter we’re reading. Everyone is obsessed with data. But what’s the story behind it? Chartr will tell you. They’re a free visual newsletter filled with fine-looking charts and easy-to-remember insights that break down the numbers behind business, tech, and entertainment news. It’s one of our favorite new reads - check it out here and get all the data deets. 


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