'zarbitrage 🍕

Good morning/evening or night from semi-lockdown London 🙌

I’m proud to say that I, a Voice News Journalist, am officially Webby Award nominated in the not-at-all obscure Apps, Mobile and Voice, News (Voice) category.

Sadly, BBC News on Smart Speakers couldn’t pick up the win from either Michael Barbaro’s hereswhatelseyouneedtaknowtoday or from NPR’s cool-looking Visual Newscast.

Please check us out on your Alexa smart device if you’re in the UK (or you think you can make it work with a VPN) by saying Alexa, play BBC News because without sounding too high and mighty, we are doing something that no one else is - an interactive audio news bulletin day-in and day-out.

Moping over… on with the main event.


🍕 I can’t stop thinking about Pizza Arbitrage

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

The story of a pizza restaurant that didn’t want to deliver, the app that decided to deliver for it… and the mad cash rush for wrongly priced ‘zas paid for by Silicon Valley investors.

If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clearly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You'd net a clean $8 profit per pizza

Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage, Margins

I’ve told so many people about this newsletter post since I first saw it because it’s just such a blinding example of the cash-burning startups who are remaking the world in a way that seems to fail to make any money whatsoever.

BONUS: Buzzfeed News on how one of those food delivery apps is making bank from struggling restaurants, during *checks notes* a global pandemic, by switcherooing their phone numbers in search engine results.

🤒 PIMS and Kawasaki

This has hit close to home. The new syndrome that appears to be developing in children and teens after they’ve had the coronavirus is similar to something I had as a young kid, Kawasaki Disease.

He had a tennis-ball-size lymph node, raging fever, racing heartbeat and dangerously low blood pressure. Pain deluged his body in “a throbbing, stinging rush,” he said.
“You could feel it going through your veins and it was almost like someone injected you with straight-up fire,” he said.

‘Straight-Up Fire’ in His Veins: Teen Battles New Covid Syndrome, New York Times

It was only later in life I realised how serious it could have been — so I can’t help but feel for the parents who are seeing their children go through this.

I have a lot to thank my GP at the time for who spotted it incredibly early as well as Lancaster Infirmary for a short stay and Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool for the aftercare.

🎧 Save our podcast apps

“Pursuant to Section 8.3 of the Developer Distribution Agreement and the Enforcement policy, apps referencing COVID-19, or related terms, in any form will only be approved for distribution on Google Play if they are published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities or public health organizations.“

Google bans Podcast Addict app after 9 years for letting users play podcasts that reference COVID-19, Reclaim the Net

A big podcast app got kicked off the Google Play Store temporarily after it fell foul of Google’s new rules on the coronavirus. It wasn’t for long, the company saw sense and reinstated it after a fairly large outcry online over what happened to Podcast Addict.

Google said, at first, it was because it was taking an intentionally cautious approach, then later apologised for an automated process kicking in to suspend the app.

People noted at the time how the same thing hadn’t happened to other podcast apps - or Google’s own Google Podcasts. I think we can chalk this one up to an mistake rather than a conspiracy but it’s a useful reminder that you don’t own the platform, the tech giants do.


Something to enjoy without scaling a paywall


🔊 Taking audiences behind the scenes

One fun unpredictable thing about remote working during *the whole thing* is that is has given media outlets a chance to explain a bit more about how the work is done.

BBC Radio Solent hooked up a Zoom call to let people see how its Solent breakfast programme was broadcast from various people’s homes, offices and studios in the south of England.

Oh… and Sky News says it broadcast an entire live TV news show with everyone working from home. This is hard.

🗞 Apple’s audio news play

Sources at two publishers said Apple initially wanted permission to produce audio versions of whatever story they thought might be a good fit for the audience.

Apple plans to add audio versions of publisher articles to Apple News+, Digiday

Another day, another tech company wants in on audio news. The thing that gets me every time with this is that it’s always newspaper or magazine articles which are being voiced up by someone else, or maybe by a team in-house.

Obviously, audiobooks are a thing… but would an audience instinctively go for something that’s been written to be read over something that’s been written to be heard?

I feel like that’s been the disconnect in some of these schemes so far. Write for voice instead.

A few odds and ends


Thanks - feel free to pass this on to a mate, or just a general acquaintance, if you enjoyed it or click that ♥️ heart in the bottom corner.

Lee (@lmcly)