Data Dive, Farewells Edition: Apple, Chase, SoFi, Uber

Data Dive, Farewells: Apple, Chase, SoFi, Uber

There were plenty of introductions last week. Stripe rolled out chargeback protection, Apple rolled out its take on sign-in authenticationMastercard launched an open banking platform and Visa and Western Union paired on a global push to card payments – and those are just the top headlines.

But, as often happens in a week when a lot of high-profile new ideas take the stage, it becomes easy to miss the things that are taking their final bow and exiting, stage left.

Luckily, the Data Dive is here to keep count…

Goodbye, iTunes

After playing a major part in changing the way we all collectively listen to music, iTunes seems to be nearing its final curtain call.

Reports emerged this week that Apple has begun the process of scrubbing the social sphere of all trace of iTunes. So far, all of the social media content from Facebook and Instagram pages has disappeared, though its Twitter account still has content for the time being.

iTunes information has migrated, for now, to the Facebook and Instagram pages for Apple TV, while various links to iTunes are now redirecting to Apple Music. The phasing out of iTunes comes as Apple is redesigning its content streaming services – Music, TV and Podcasts are destined to be standalone apps in the next major version of macOS.

The iTunes storefront for purchasing music, movies and TV may remain up and running within the major apps, but it will be less of a central focus as Apple redirects its attention to the booming subscription eCommerce market. In that vein, Apple is pursuing Apple TV (a Netflix-like subscription streaming service), Apple News, Apple Arcade and the long-running Apple Music offering.

iTunes dominated after its 2001 release by putting two things in one place that had never existed before: a digital MP3 player that actually worked, properly paired with a store that made accessing music for a small fee much easier than trying to pirate it.

It also came to the market at just the right time – about 10 months before the iPod hit the market in October 2001. In 2003, iTunes for Windows arrived in October 2003, allowing non-Mac users, the vast majority of the computing world, to buy music from Apple and sync it to an iPod for the first time.

But iTunes was eventually displaced by the innovation that it failed to anticipate – Spotify and music streaming – and while it is not totally disappearing, its role as a cultural influence has long since stepped out of the limelight.

But at least it wasn’t alone…

JPMorgan Chase Pulls the Plug on Finn

Finn, a no-fee banking app that JPMorgan Chase rolled out last year in an attempt to woo younger customers, is finished. Barely a year in, the banking giant has decided to kill the nationwide project, because it turns out two apps weren’t better than one.

The pilot program began in October 2017, followed by a nationwide rollout in June of last year.

Finn was designed as a hybrid banking offering for younger consumers – it was heavily backed by the Finn app, but could also be brought to a Chase branch location as needed. Finn also offered some additional features, mostly designed around flexibility, like free access to a partner network outside of the Chase ATM network.

Ultimately, according to quoted media sources, the competitive landscape was rather crowded with offerings like Goldman Sachs’ Marcus, or digital-only banks like Ally. Chase determined that in the long run, it could better carry forward the hybridized banking experience it aims to offer younger consumers via its central Chase brand.

Finn accounts will now be changed over to Chase accounts. Users will have to download the Chase app and get a new debit card, though the account details will not change. Users will also not pay any service fees that are levied alongside the basic accounts. The number of active Finn users has not been publicly disclosed.

The shuttering comes as JPMorgan has spent heavily on technology, with $11.5 billion tagged for this year and significant focus on Chase mobile and digital efforts.

And it wasn’t only products that said their goodbyes this week – there was an awful lot of executive musical chairs.

SoFi and Uber Reshuffle Their Upper Levels

Social Finance, the online lender better known as SoFi, is losing three top executives this week.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Marketing Chief Joanne Bradford, Head of Risk Kevin Moss and Ashish Jain, the lender’s top capital markets executive, informed Chief Executive Anthony Noto that they would be leaving their roles. All three joined SoFi before Noto took over as CEO in the early part of last year.

Bradford was formerly an executive at Pinterest and Yahoo. She is in charge of SoFi’s advertising efforts, which included Super Bowl commercials in 2016 and 2017. Moss was formerly a risk executive at Wells Fargo; at SoFi, he is in charge of lending standards. Meanwhile, Jain is the face of SoFi to banks that package its loans into securities.

The moves come as SoFi faces a challenging loan market, with higher interest rates making it less attractive to refinance student loans or take out personal loans. Under Noto’s charge, SoFi has been investing in different areas such as high-yield checking and no-fee, exchange-traded funds, but those areas will take time to generate profit.

In May, the company raised $500 million in venture funding.

SoFi wasn’t alone last week in high-profile departures. Uber said two big goodbyes to its chief operating and marketing officers, though the circumstances were bit different.

Last week, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced an upper-level restructuring of Uber that will see all department heads reporting directly to the CEO. “This will allow me to be more hands-on and help our leaders problem-solve in real time, while also ensuring that we make our platform vision a reality,” he said.

Khosrowshahi noted that this change means Uber no longer needs a COO, and so he and current COO Barney Harford mutually agreed it was time to move on. Also agreeing to move on was CMO Rebecca Messina, as Uber’s marketing, communications and policy teams have all been compressed into a single unit that will be run by Jill Hazelbaker, previously the senior vice president of communications and public policy.

The change in structure comes about a month after Uber’s public offering.

“There’s never really a right time to announce departures or changes like this, but with the IPO behind us, I felt this was a good moment to simplify our org and set us up for the future,” Khosrowshahi said.

So, what did we learn this week?

New things are always on the horizon in payments, and they often enter with great fanfare. But exits are usually a bit quieter – no bells, no whistles, just a slow scrubbing of the social media accounts.

See you next Monday!