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Recode Daily: Facebook’s video launch is here; Snap’s Q2 is coming

Plus, Andy Rubin’s startup raises $300 million as it prepares to take on Apple and Samsung with its Essential smartphone, and Birchbox is talking acquisition.

Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here’s what to watch for when Snap reports its Q2 earnings today — its second earnings report since it went public in early March. First on the list: Snap needs to show that its user base is growing despite repeated efforts by Facebook and Instagram to copy all its best features. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Facebook finally launched Watch, the long-awaited update to its video section where people can watch short, episodic, original video shows. We have questions, starting with: Does anybody really want to watch TV on Facebook? [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Facebook uses an “early bird” warning system to scout popular new tech, then buys or copies it. The startup behind a promising video-chat app called Houseparty, which lets groups of people hang out over live video on a smartphone, is racing against the dominant Facebook, which plans to launch a similar app, internally called Bonfire. The takeaway from an all-hands meeting at Facebook: “Don't be too proud to copy.” [The Wall Street Journal]

Essential, the startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, has raised $300 million in funding as it prepares to take on Apple and Samsung with its own new smartphone. Rubin previewed the $699 titanium-encased Essential phone at this spring’s Code Conference. Investors include Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund; Best Buy and Amazon will be its retail launch partners in the U.S. [Rolfe Winkler / The Wall Street Journal]

Tesla is close to road-testing a prototype for an electric semi-truck that can drive itself and move in platoons. CEO Elon Musk plans to unveil the long-haul truck in September, moving into a highly competitive area of commercial transport also being pursued by Uber and Alphabet’s Waymo. [Marc Vartabedian / Reuters]

Beauty subscription startup Birchbox has held acquisition talks with several retailers, including Walmart, which has been on an acquisition tear under its e-commerce chief, Marc Lore. Birchbox generates around $200 million in annual sales, and received a $15 million lifeline from existing investors last summer. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

The CTO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is leaving after less than a year. Brian Pinkerton left Amazon last October to run software engineering efforts at CZI, the philanthropic investment vehicle founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Pinkerton said the engineering team — which started with three people and now totals 96 — had grown far bigger than he was interested in managing. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Recode presents ...

We’re thrilled to announce that celebrity chef, restaurateur and gourmet marketplace owner Mario Batali is coming to Code Commerce to talk about how he spun a simple cooking philosophy into a globally recognized brand, and about running a brick-and-mortar grocery chain in the age of food delivery. Hosted by Jason Del Rey, Code Commerce will be held September 13 and 14 in New York City. Register now — space is limited.

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