WeTransfer’s Plan To Disrupt The Creative Process

Enter your email address. Read the fine print. Sign up. Login. Exit out of the pop-up. Most digital services force you to take several steps before you can actually do what you came to the site to do. But at WeTransfer–a file-sharing service designed for creatives–the user experience has always been about getting out of the way. Now the company is growing into its next act to become a service that facilitates the entire creative process–by applying its UX philosophy to advertising, editorial, and a new mobile app.

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

“What we would like more than anything is to keep people in their work flow,” Damian Bradfield, U.S. president and chief marketing officer of WeTransfer, says. “Those who produce work know what it’s like to be in that moment of flow, when work is pouring out of you. There’s nothing worse than being pulled out of it or being disrupted. That’s what we wanted from a service. There’s no sign up, it’s a lean data policy, no intrusive advertising, no banners, no pop-ups, no irritation.”

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

When users send a file through the site, there’s no sign up necessary to use the free service. (But there is a premium version that charges a fee.) Every step in the file-transfer process happens in a compact box on the home page. The attractive background is a full-bleed image of either an ad (produced in house), an editorial (curated and authored by WeTransfer), or wallpaper. All share similar aesthetics. They’re eye-catching enough to get your attention, but so consistent in their sensibility, that you could gloss over them entirely if you wanted and go about business as usual, undistracted.

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

Earlier this week, WeTransfer launched a new, free mobile app that builds on this approach. Before, the company’s app was essentially a mobile version of the desktop site–a file-sharing tool. Now it’s Pinterest-like. Users can create mood boards and collect the links they read, photos they take, and music they hear all in one place.Dutch creatives Bas Berens and Ronald Hans (who goes by the name Nalden) founded WeTransfer in 2009 with the idea of creating the file-sharing service they wanted, but didn’t exist. Today, it has 40 million active users; 75% of whom identify as creatives. Every month WeTransfer sends 1 billion files and its ads achieve a click-through rate that’s two-and-a-half times higher than the industry average–a rate the company believes it receives because its treats advertising like art. (You could argue this is a dark pattern because the ads look so similar to WeTransfer’s editorial and other wallpapers.)

Unlike most tech companies that take on venture funding early on, WeTransfer bootstrapped itself to profitability, which it reached in 2014. Without investor-added pressure to meet certain growth goals, the company had the freedom to focus on UX and crafting the brand it wanted. Proving that its approach found the audience it wanted, WeTransfer was able to get a $25 million dollar investment from Highland Capital in 2015. Now it’s in expansion mode. In December 2016, the company hired a new CEO, Gordon Willoughby, who was previously at Amazon.

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

“We don’t necessarily get that excited about the concept of mass storage and synchronization,” Bradfield says. “The future, and the things that will motivate us moving forward, is producing experiences that’s aren’t going upstream into cloud storage, but downstream and simplifying the web, decluttering, and creating more trust between us and the other experiences we have.”

From its outset, WeTransfer has been building goodwill with creatives and constructed its entire experience–from product to branding to marketing–with this audience in mind. It donated 30% of its wallpapers to artists–visual, performing, musical–and picked people to feature based on who its employees liked and were passionate about. (“The goal was to send so much traffic to their site, it would bring their site down,” Bradfield says of the artists they spotlighted.)

The company has steadily, and quietly, been expanding its properties under the leadership of its head of experiences, Nelly Ben Hayoun . There’s a chance you haven’t heard about most of them. (I use WeTransfer’s free service regularly–along with a host of other file sharing services–and didn’t know about most extras until researching this story, a testament to their unobtrusiveness.)

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

In 2016, the company formally branded the production arm of the company that creates content for artists as WeTransfer Studios. That same year it formally grouped its editorial as This Works, a blog and online magazine. Last year, it launched a browser extension so that users could be greeted with a WeTransfer-curated image upon opening Chrome.The idea is that by producing good creative work, people who make good creative work themselves will recognize it and continue to turn to WeTransfer for whatever new vertical its creates.

“It’s a [Main] Street-store mentality,” Bradfield says. “The front door is always open. You can come in use our service and leave, and come back. We have the confidence that they will [return].”

The company also has a number of efforts outside of digital products that caters to its audience. It co-sponsors a free architecture school, donates free premium accounts to art students, and offered former SoundCloud employees $10,000 to fuel their creative pursuits instead of immediately jumping into a 9-5 post-layoff.

[Image: courtesy WeTransfer]

Since its launch, WeTransfer hasn’t been building a better file sharing service. That part of the company has remained relatively unchanged. But it’s been building an audience of creatives and keeping them in mind as they expand.In 2015, WeTransfer had about 30 employees; now it’s up to 100. Bradfield says the company is experiencing double-digit revenue growth year on year. Speed of growth–in terms of user numbers–hasn’t been the goal; rather, retaining the audience along the way has. The company plans to keep this approach as it moves forward, always keeping in mind that its experience be centered around simplicity and making it easier for creatives to be creative.

While other file-sharing services, like Dropbox, are rebranding and trying to emulate WeTransfer’s punchy look, at their core they’re still cloud services and are competing with one another. But WeTransfer isn’t just competing against Dropbox and Hightail. It’s competing with NownessDazed, and Dezeen for editorial; Vice for sponsored video production; and even Google (since the company also has an email service). When I ask Bradfield about one of the biggest challenges for growth, he says it’s maintaining credibility.

“We’re broad enough in our user base to move into different avenues, but we couldn’t do that if we didn’t have the creative community,” Bradfield says. “As long as we’re cautious and credible, we have many opportunities. It’s similar to Apple in that Apple isn’t a technology company–it’s a hardware company, a music company, it’s a retailer, it’s a space that the creative audience trusts.”

[“Source-fastcodesign”]

Elon Musk’s New Plan: Travel from New Delhi to Tokyo in 30 Minutes

Elon Musk’s New Plan: Travel from New Delhi to Tokyo in 30 Minutes

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Elon Musk unveiled ambitious plans Friday to send cargo ships to Mars
  • He showed to use rockets to carry people between Earth’s major cities
  • A trip from Tokyo to Delhi would take just 30 minutes

Elon Musk on Friday unveiled his ambitious plan to send cargo ships to Mars in five years, as part of SpaceX’s efforts to make sure its rockets are financially feasible. The futurist said the company’s planned interplanetary transport system, codenamed BFR (Big Fucking Rocket), would be shrunk in size so that it can carry out a host of tasks that would help pay for future Mars mission. But Elon Musk isn’t stopping there, as he also plans to use rockets to transport people between major cities on Earth in less than half an hour.

“The most important thing… is that I think we have figured out how to pay for (BFR),” Musk told a packed auditorium at a global gathering of space experts in Adelaide. “Which is to have a smaller vehicle, it’s still pretty big, but one that can… do everything that’s needed in the greater Earth orbit activity.”

 

Elon Musk Mars mission

Elon Musk said SpaceX had starting building the system, with the construction of the first ship to start in six to nine months. “I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and launch in about five years,” he added.

At least two cargo ships would land on the Red Planet in 2022, with the key mission of finding the best source of water — currently mooted as a way to power rockets, he said. The rockets would place power, mining and life-support infrastructure on Mars to support future missions, with four ships set to take people, equipment and supplies to the planet in 2024. The trips would be funded by a range of activities, including launching satellites, servicing the space station and lunar missions, he said.

Elon Musk’s plan to reduce travel time between major cities

Elon Musk added that the rockets should also cater to Earth inhabitants by reducing the travel between major cities to less than half-an-hour. A trip from Bangkok to Dubai would take 27 minutes, and from Tokyo to Delhi in 30 minutes, according to his calculations.

“Once you are out of the atmosphere, it would be as smooth as silk, no turbulence, nothing,” he said. “There’s no weather… and you can get to most long-distance places in less than half-an-hour. If we are building this thing to go to the Moon and Mars, then why not go to other places on Earth as well.”

The week-long annual International Astronautical Congress, which concluded Friday, has seen government space agencies and private firms outline their plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars in the next few decades.

This included an agreement between Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA to work on the first lunar space station as part of a programme called the Deep Space Gateway.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Michigan’s education plan closer to approval by feds

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Michigan’s proposed state education plan moved a step closer Wednesday to implementation after a phone call between the Michigan Department of Education and officials from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability and special help for struggling schools. Michigan submitted its plan in April and it is under review by the feds.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston said Michigan’s education plan will have less student testing; focus on student academic growth; institute a partnership model for improving low-performing schools and have a school accountability system tied to the Top 10 in 10 strategies. It also gives schools more flexibility on how they choose to improve and greater ownership in how they follow their own plans.

Based on the Wednesday phone call, Whiston said the federal education department will finalize its feedback letter, outlining parts of the Michigan plan that need more detail. Whiston was told by federal officials that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will make her determination based on the state’s compliance with federal requirements.

“We were told that the secretary’s determination will be based on compliance with the letter of the law only, and no subjective judgments on what is in the plan,” Whiston said. “This is in line with what Secretary DeVos promised about giving more flexibility and control back to the states on what they think is best for their state.”

Whiston said in addition to the technical amendments to the plan, more work will be required by state education officials to show how the state’s Transparency Dashboard will be designed and used to identify the state’s most struggling schools.

“We will get that done and back to (the U.S. Department of Education) so we can get the secretary’s determination by the end of August,” Whiston said.

In April, both Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley criticized aspects of the plan. Calley asked federal officials to return the plan to Michigan to refine metrics for special education students. Snyder said he did not support one of the three accountability system proposed because it did not include letter grades for schools.

In May, state education officials were required to submit additional information on the plan to the U.S. Department of Education, which deemed eight parts to be incomplete.

In June, an independent peer review of Michigan’s education plan found it lacks the clarity and detail necessary to give the state the opportunity to improve outcomes in the classroom.

The review was a joint project between Bellwether Education Partners, an educational consultant in Washington, D.C., and the Collaborative for Student Success, a nonprofit.

Michigan’s K-12 plan lacked fundamental information in all of the nine categories evaluated, said Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success.

The state received its highest score — 3 out of 5 — in the standards and assessments category. The review says in this category, Michigan’s plan is based on strong standards as adopted by the state, “though it does not provide much information” about the alignment of its new assessments with the state’s standards and college and career readiness.

The project used the expertise of more than 30 bipartisan state and national experts to capture the strengths and weaknesses of each state’s plan. The review said Michigan can improve in other areas including goals, academic progress, supporting schools and selecting an accountability system.

According to reviewers, Michigan’s plan has proposed three accountability systems: An A-F rating system that combines measures into one overall rating for each school, an A-F rating system that reports component grades of each of six measures but does not compile those into one overall grade; or a “dashboard” that reports raw data but does not attempt to rate schools on any of the components or overall.

“Michigan states that all three of these options would include subgroup data, but only the first option would meet ESSA’s requirements that states identify schools with low subgroup performance as in need of additional support,” the review said.

[“Source-detroitnews”]

Amazon Drive Kills Unlimited Cloud Storage Plan, Now Offers 1TB Space for $60 Per Year

Amazon Drive Kills Unlimited Cloud Storage Plan, Now Offers 1TB Space for $60 Per Year

HIGHLIGHTS
Amazon unlimited storage plan has been killed off
New plans are effective today
All users with unlimited storage plan can use it full term as is
One of the most lucrative things Amazon Drive offered was an unlimited cloud storage plan for as low as $60 (roughly Rs. 3,800) per year. However, the company has now revised its plans to cancel unlimited storage abilities, and instead offer just 1TB for the same amount. The maximum cap of storage capacity is up to 30TB now with additional $60 levied per TB – which goes to a neat $1,800 (roughly Rs. 1,15,700) for 30TB.

Essentially, Amazon Drive has aped Apple iCloud’s pricing and is offering the same as the Cupertino giant per terabyte. Just a few days ago, Apple revised its 2TB plan to $120 (roughly Rs. 7,700) per year, the pricing that earlier applied to 1TB. Beyond 2TB though, Amazon is still the cheapest of the lot, with Google Drive charging as much as $3,600 (roughly Rs. 231,400) per year for 30TB. Amazon notes that all Prime members will still get the benefit of unlimited photo storage (keyword photo), and all new Drive members will get up to 5GB of storage space free (again just like Apple, however Google Drive leads the lot with 15GB of free drive storage).
The starting plan is at $12 (roughly Rs. 800) for one year for 100GB of storage. There is no 50GB and 200GB plan like how Apple offers. You can check all the new pricing for Amazon Drive here.

Amazon notes that current Drive customers will keep their existing unlimited storage plan through its expiration date. At the end of their existing subscription, customers with auto-renew turned on and 1TB or less of data stored will be renewed into the 1TB plan for $60 per year. Customers with auto-renew off, or who have more than 1TB of data stored, will need to visit their account’s Manage Storage page to opt in to one of the new plans.

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[“Source-ndtv”]