Plus: Instacart apologized for its tip-theft controversy, but low wages are still a big issue; e-scooter company Lime raises $310 million while e-scooter injuries are on the rise; now yacht influencers are a thing.
2019 will create a lot of millionaires in Silicon Valley — it may also create a lot of ex-Californians. The highest-taxed state in the country has long motivated the wealthy to look for cheaper states in which to park their fortunes. And the most appealing time to flee is now, just before a historic amount of new money is created in a year expected to be the biggest IPO bonanza since 2000, slated to feature highly valued startups like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Slack, Peloton, and Pinterest. Looking to protect their money, some early executives who are potential new millionaires in California’s IPO gold rush are quietly talking about moving out of state to low-tax hideaways like Incline Village, Nevada. But California’s ruthless tax collectors have seen all these tricks before. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]
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Twitter finally shared how big its daily user base is — and it’s a lot smaller than Snapchat’s. For years, Twitter has been asking investors to judge the company by looking at user growth for its daily active users. The problem? Twitter never shared how many daily active users it actually had, which made the year-over-year growth hard to appreciate. That changed on Thursday when Twitter shared its daily user total for the first time: Twitter has 126 million daily users, which is 60 million fewer users than Snapchat (and a lot fewer users than the core apps owned by Facebook). The new metric matters to Twitter because it paints a picture that Twitter is growing. Twitter’s monthly active user base — the user metric it has shared quarterly since its IPO in 2013 — is shrinking, and has been for some time. So focusing on DAU instead of MAU lets Twitter show that it’s growing, which is a much happier story to tell. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]
After Instacart was accused of denying some contract shoppers their hard-earned tip money, the grocery delivery company apologized and agreed to change its policy to increase minimum pay to workers for deliveries, separate that pay from their designated tip money, and compensate workers who saw their tip funds redirected. The tip-theft controversy brought to light a deeper issue: Even when gig economy workers get their tips in full, many of them are being paid far below what most would consider a decent minimum wage — by some estimates less than $10 an hour after expenses. Meanwhile, convincing customers to buy their groceries online still has some high hurdles ahead: While 22 percent of apparel sales and 30 percent of computer and electronics sales happen online today, the same can be said for only 3 percent of grocery sales. [Shirin Ghaffary / Recode]
The New York Times is getting close to becoming a majority-digital company. The company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 financialsreveal that although profit decreased from the year-ago period, the Times generated $709 million in digital revenue in 2018 — about 40 percent of its total revenue of $1.75 billion — putting it ahead of the ambitious goal it set for itself back in 2015 to hit $800 million in digital revenue by 2020. Times CEO Mark Thompson laid out a new goal: “to grow our subscription business to more than 10 million subscriptions by 2025.” [Joshua Benton / Nieman Journalism Review]
On-demand electric scooter and bike startup Lime closed a $310 million series D financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz and others that values the company at a whopping $2.4 billion — double the previous valuation of $1.1 billion. Lime, which is positioning itself as an “affordable” alternative to traditional means of last-mile transportation, is available in 15 countries; the 10 million people who have signed up for service have taken 34 million trips; Lime says it has seen a 5.5 times increase in trips in the past seven months alone. Meanwhile, as ride-share fleets show up in more and more cities, a Consumer Reports investigation tracked 1,500 e-scooter-related injuries across the US, and found that many hospitals don’t have the capability yet to accurately track them. [Kyle Wiggers / Venture Beat]
Shares of video game makers slid after Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software delivered disappointing results; their stocks, as well as shares of rival Activision Blizzard, were down more than 10 percent yesterday. (Social-gaming company Zynga, however, beat Wall Street estimates, thanks to recent successes with Merge Dragons and Empires & Puzzles.) One big reason for the disappointing performance: Competition from Epic Games’ Fortnite, which has become so popular that Netflix said last month that it considered the free-to-play game more of a competitor than HBO. Some even say — at considerable length — that the game stands to change the entertainment industry forever. [Stephen Grocer / The New York Times]
Top stories from Recode
Facebook’s top PR exec is leaving.
After a bruising year for the social media giant, longtime communications head Caryn Marooney is helping search for her replacement. [Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner]
Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber explain why they sold Gimlet to Spotify.
Blumberg and Lieber spoke with Recode’s Peter Kafka on the latest episode of Recode Media. [Peter Kafka]
This is cool
Now yacht influencers are a thing.
The robot bartender that’s great at parties.