The GoPro-ification of the iPhone

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, we talked about some sunglasses from a company that many people do not like very much. This week, we’re talking about Apple and the company 1,600 times smaller than it that’s facing similar product problems.

Thanks for joining in — follow my tweets @lucasmtny for more.


(Photo by Brooks Kraft/Apple Inc.)

the big thing

When you get deep enough into the tech industry, it’s harder to look at things with a consumer’s set of eyes. I’ve felt that way more and more after six years watching Apple events as a TechCrunch reporter, but sometimes memes from random Twitter accounts help me find the consumer truth I’m looking for.

As that dumb little tweet indicates, Apple is charging toward a future where it’s becoming a little harder to distinguish new from old. The off-year “S” period of old is no more for the iPhone, which has seen tweaks and new size variations since 2017’s radical iPhone X redesign. Apple is stretching the periods between major upgrades for its entire product line and it’s also taking longer to roll out those changes.

Apple debuted the current bezel-lite iPad Pro design back in late 2018 and it’s taken three years for the design to work its way down to the iPad mini while the entry-level iPad is still lying in wait. The shift from M1 Macs will likely take years as the company has already detailed. Most of Apple’s substantial updates rely on upgrades to the chipsets that they build, something that increasingly makes them look and feel like a consumer chipset company.

This isn’t a new trend, or even a new take, it’s been written lots of times, but it’s particularly interesting as the company bulks up the number of employees dedicated to future efforts like augmented reality, which will one day soon likely replace the iPhone.

It’s an evolution that’s pushing them into a similar design territory as action camera darling GoPro, which has struggled again and again with getting their core loyalists to upgrade their hardware frequently. These are on laughably different scales, with Apple now worth some $2.41 trillion and GoPro still fighting for a $1.5 billion market cap. The situations are obviously different, and yet they are both facing similar end-of-life innovation questions for categories that they both have mastered.

This week GoPro debuted its HERO10 Black camera, which brings higher frame rates and a better performing processor as it looks to push more of its user audience to subscription services. Sound familiar? This week, Apple debuted its new flagship, the iPhone 13 Pro, with a faster processor and better frame rates (for the display not the camera here, though). They also spent a healthy amount of time pushing users to embrace new services ecosystems.

Apple’s devices are getting so good that they’re starting to reach a critical feature plateau. The company has still managed to churn out device after device and expand their audience to billions while greatly expanding their average revenue per user. Things are clearly going pretty well for the most valuable company on earth, but while the stock has nearly quadrupled since the iPhone X launch, the consumer iPhone experience feels pretty consistent. That’s clearly not a bad thing, but it is — for lack of a better term — boring.

The clear difference, among 2.4 trillion others, is that GoPro doesn’t seem to have a clear escape route from its action camera vertical.

But Apple has been pushing thousands of employees toward an escape route in augmented reality, even if the technology is clearly not ready for consumers and they’re forced to lead with what has been rumored to be a several-thousand-dollar AR/VR headset with plenty of limitations. One of the questions I’m most interested in is what the iPhone device category looks likes once its unwieldy successor has reared its head. Most likely is that the AR-centric devices will be shipped as wildly expensive iPhone accessories and a way to piggy back off the accessibility of the mobile category while providing access to new — and more exciting — experiences. In short, AR is the future of the iPhone until AR doesn’t need the iPhone anymore. 


Image Credits: Tesla

other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Everything Apple announced this week
Was it the most exciting event Apple has ever had? Nah. Are you still going to click that link to read about their new stuff? Yah.

GoPro launches the HERO10 Black
I have a very soft spot in my heart for GoPro, which has taken a niche corner of hardware and made a device and ecosystem that’s really quite good. As I mentioned above, the company has some issues making significant updates every year, but they made a fairly sizable upgrade this year with the second-generation of their customer processor and some performance bumps across the board.

Tesla will open FSD beta to drivers with good driving record
Elon Musk is pressing ahead with expanding its “Full Self-Driving” software to more Tesla drivers, saying that users who paid for the FSD system can apply to use the beta and will be analyzed by the company’s insurance calculator bot. After 7 days of good driving behavior, Musk says users will be approved.

OpenSea exec resigns after ‘insider trading’ scandal
NFTs are a curious business; there’s an intense amount of money pulsating through these markets — and little oversight. This week OpenSea, the so-called “eBay of NFTs,” detailed that its own VP of Product had been trading on insider information. He was later pushed to resign.

Apple and Google bow to the Kremlin
Apple and Google are trying to keep happy the governments of most every market in which they operate. That leads to some uncomfortable situations in markets like Russia, where both tech giants were forced by the Kremlin to remove a political app from the country’s major opposition party.


Gitlab logo

Image Credits: Gitlab

extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

What could stop the startup boom?
“…We’ve seen record results from citiescountries and regions. There’s so much money sloshing around the venture capital and startup worlds that it’s hard to recall what they were like in leaner times. We’ve been in a bull market for tech upstarts for so long that it feels like the only possible state of affairs. It’s not…”

The value of software revenue may have finally stopped rising
“…I’ve held back from covering the value of software (SaaS, largely) revenues for a few months after spending a bit too much time on it in preceding quarters — when VCs begin to point out that you could just swap out numbers quarter to quarter and write the same post, it’s time for a break. But the value of software revenues posted a simply incredible run, and I can’t say “no” to a chart…

Inside GitLab’s IPO filing
“…The company’s IPO has therefore been long expected. In its last primary transaction, GitLab raised $286 million at a post-money valuation of $2.75 billion, per PitchbBook data. The same information source also notes that GitLab executed a secondary transaction earlier this year worth $195 million, which gave the company a $6 billion valuation…”


Thanks for reading, and again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny

Lucas Matney

#apple, #apple-inc, #apple-silicon, #ebay, #extra-crunch, #google, #gopro, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #iphone-12-pro, #iphone-5s, #major, #mobile-phones, #musk, #reporter, #russia, #tablet-computers, #tc, #technology, #venture-capital, #week-in-review

Suing your way to the stars

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

I’m back from a very fun and rehabilitative couple weeks away from my phone, my Twitter account and the news cycle. That said, I actually really missed writing this newsletter, and while Greg did a fantastic job while I was out, I won’t be handing over the reins again anytime soon. Plenty happened this week and I struggled to zero in on a single topic to address, but I finally chose to focus on Bezos’s Blue Origin suing NASA.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


The big thing

I was going to write about OnlyFans for the newsletter this week and their fairly shocking move to ban sexually explicit content from their site in a bid to stay friendly with payment processors, but alas I couldn’t help myself and wrote an article for ole TechCrunch dot com instead. Here’s a link if you’re curious.

Now, I should also note that while I was on vacation I missed all of the conversation surrounding Apple’s incredibly controversial child sexual abuse material detection software that really seems to compromise the perceived integrity of personal devices. I’m not alone in finding this to be a pretty worrisome development despite Apple’s intention of staving off a worse alternative. Hopefully, one of these weeks I’ll have the time to talk with some of the folks in the decentralized computing space about how our monolithic reliance on a couple tech companies operating with precious little consumer input is very bad. In the meantime, I will point you to some reporting from TechCrunch’s own Zack Whittaker on the topic which you should peruse because I’m sure it will be a topic I revisit here in the future.

Now then! Onto the topic at hand.

Federal government agencies don’t generally inspire much adoration. While great things have been accomplished at the behest of ample federal funding and the tireless work of civil servants, most agencies are treated as bureaucratic bloat and aren’t generally seen as anything worth passionately defending. Among the public and technologists in particular, NASA occupies a bit more of a sacred space. The American space agency has generally been a source of bipartisan enthusiasm, as has its goal to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024.

Which brings us to some news this week. While so much digital ink was spilled on Jeff Bezos’s little jaunt to the edge of space, cowboy hat, champagne and all, there’s been less fanfare around his space startup’s lawsuit against NASA, which we’ve now learned will delay the development of a new lunar lander by months, potentially throwing NASA’s goal to return astronauts to the moon’s surface on schedule into doubt.

Bezos’s upstart Blue Origin is protesting the fact that they were not awarded a government contract while Elon Musk’s SpaceX earned a $2.89 billion contract to build a lunar lander. This contract wasn’t just recently awarded either, SpaceX won it back in April and Blue Origin had already filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office. This happened before Bezos penned an open letter promising a $2 billion discount for NASA which had seen budget cuts at the hands of Congress dash its hoped to award multiple contracts. None of these maneuverings proved convincing enough for the folks at NASA, pushing Bezos’s space startup to sue the agency.

This little feud has caused long-minded Twitter users to dig up this little gem from a Bezos 2019 speech — as transcribed by Gizmodo — highlighting Bezos’s own distaste for how bureaucracy and greed have hampered NASA’s ability to reach for the stars:

“To the degree that big NASA programs become seen as jobs programs and that they have to be distributed to the right states where the right Senators live, and so on. That is going to change the objective. Now your objective is not to, you know, whatever it is, to get a man to the moon or a woman to the moon, but instead to get a woman to the moon while preserving X number of jobs in my district. That is a complexifier, and not a healthy one…[…]

Today, there would be, you know, three protests, and the losers would sue the federal government because they didn’t win. It’s interesting, but the thing that slows things down is procurement. It’s become the bigger bottleneck than the technology, which I know for a fact for all the well meaning people at NASA is frustrating.

A Blue Origin spokesperson called the suit, an “attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System.” But the lawsuit really seems to highlight how dire this deal is to the ability of Blue Origin to lock down top talent. Whether the startup can handle the reputational risk of suing NASA and delaying America’s return to the moon seems to be a question very much worth asking.


Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, south of Los Angeles, California on December 18, 2018.

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

OnlyFans bans “sexually explicit content”
A lot of people had pretty visceral reactions to OnlyFans killing off what seems to be a pretty big chunk of its business, outlawing “sexually explicit content” on the platform. It seems the decision was reached as a result of banking and payment partners leaning on the company.

Musk “unveils” the “Tesla Bot”
I truly struggle to even call this news, but I’d be remiss not to highlight how Elon Musk had a guy dress up in a spandex outfit and walk around doing the robot and spawned hundreds of news stories about his new “Tesla Bot.” While there certainly could be a product opportunity here for Tesla at some point, I would bet all of the dogecoin in the world that his prototype “coming next year” either never arrives or falls hilariously short of expectations.

Facebook drops a VR meeting simulator
This week, Facebook released one of its better virtual reality apps, a workplace app designed to help people host meetings inside virtual reality. To be clear, no one really asked for this, but the company made a full court PR press for the app which will help headset owners simulate the pristine experience of sitting in a conference room.

Social platforms wrestle with Taliban presence on platforms
Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, social media platforms are being pushed to clarify their policies around accounts operated by identified Taliban members. It’s put some of the platforms in a hairy situation.

Facebook releases content transparency report
This week, Facebook released its first ever content transparency report, highlighting what data on the site had the most reach over a given time period, in this case a three-month period. Compared to lists highlighting which posts get the most engagement on the platform, lists generally populated mostly by right wing influencers and news sources, the list of posts with the most reach seems to be pretty benign.

Safety regulators open inquiry into Tesla Autopilot
While Musk talks about building a branded humanoid robot, U.S. safety regulators are concerned with why Tesla vehicles on Autopilot are crashing into so many parked emergency response vehicles.


 

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

The Nuro EC-1
“..Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu aren’t the only Google self-driving project employees to launch an AV startup, but they might be the most underrated. Their company, Nuro, is valued at $5 billion and has high-profile partnerships with leaders in retail, logistics and food including FedEx, Domino’s and Walmart. And, they seem to have navigated the regulatory obstacle course with success — at least so far…”

A VC shares 5 keys to pitching VCs
“The success of a fundraising process is entirely dependent on how well an entrepreneur can manage it. At this stage, it is important for founders to be honest, straightforward and recognize the value meetings with venture capitalists and investors can bring beyond just the monetary aspect..

A crash course on corporate development
“…If you’re going to get acquired, chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time with corporate development teams. With a hot stock market, mountains of cash and cheap debt floating around, the environment for acquisitions is extremely rich.”


Thanks for reading! Until next week…

Lucas M.

#afghanistan, #america, #astronaut, #banking, #blue-origin, #computing, #congress, #dave-ferguson, #elon-musk, #entrepreneur, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #federal-government, #fedex, #food, #google, #government-accountability-office, #greg, #jeff-bezos, #lunar-lander, #nasa, #nuro, #robyn, #social-media-platforms, #spaceflight, #spacex, #taliban, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #walmart, #week-in-review, #zack-whittaker

Takeovers and Twitter headaches

Hello friends!

Lucas is still out for a few more days, so I’m filling in for him again on this week’s Week In Review. To recap: I’m Greg. I started at TC back when deciding who to put in your MySpace Top 8 was a very serious matter and being able to summon an Uber with a button press made people think you were a wizard from the future.

Before we dive into the news you might’ve missed this week, a heads up! Brian Heater’s much-loved robotics recap is becoming a weekly newsletter and getting a fancy new name: Actuator. The official launch date is still kind of up in the air, but you can already sign up for it right here.

And now, the news you might’ve missed this week.

The Big Thing

Whether or not you’ve ever dabbled with Unity, you’ve almost certainly interacted with something built with Unity. It’s the 2D/3D engine that powers so, so many of the video games out there, regardless of what console or platform we’re talking about. Studios use it to make animated movies. Automakers use it to help design cars.

This week Unity announced its intent to make a big acquisition — its biggest to date, in fact — with the $320M purchase of Parsec. And while one company buying another is hardly rare news around these parts, a Unity Senior Vice President suggests that it could be the beginning of a bigger shift for the co.

So what’s a Parsec? Besides a unit of measurement that Star Wars fans love to argue about.

Parsec started its life as a way to stream games from your powerful PC to your less powerful devices — or to your far away friends, allowing for long-distance multiplayer in games that otherwise didn’t support it. And it still works for that!

When the pandemic booted everyone out of the office, though, the company found that many of the features it had built for playing games remotely (like low latency streaming, support for input devices beyond keyboard/mouse, etc.) were also super important to the folks building games remotely. They embraced that newfound audience hard, quickly rolling out plans and features just for creative teams. The shift worked out well for them; the company went from raising $25M to being acquired for nearly 13x that in less than a year.

According to Unity SVP Marc Whitten, this is the beginning of Unity diving deeper into the cloud.

“I think you’re gonna see that Parsec is a great foundational block for a broad sort of cloud ambition that we have as a company,” he says. “You’re going to see a lot more from us in that particular regards.”

Even only considering what Parsec immediately brings to the table, there’s multiple potential paths to the cloud here. They could use Parsec to help Unity developers more easily add multiplayer to their games; they could use it to build a Stadia/Amazon Luna-style game streaming service that showcases Unity-powered games sans downloads; they could use it to offer up beefier hardware-in-the-cloud rentals to help smaller studios iterate more quickly or test on a wider range of devices.

Oh, and if you’re one of those aforementioned people using Parsec to game with friends from afar, don’t stress: The company says its free app isn’t going anywhere.

If you’re an Extra Crunch member, check out Eric Peckham’s deep dive on the rise of Unity here.

Other Things

Ariana Grande takes over Fortnite

The book written about the evolution of Fortnite will be a wild one. It began its life as a moderately popular tower defense game. When it shifted gears into a free-to-play Battle Royale game, it exploded into one of the biggest games the world has ever seen. Now it’s a remarkable example of how a game can be a place, and what can be when a developer has absolute control over their game engine and might-as-well-be-endless money to throw into content creation. Example #2,138,413: this in-game Ariana Grande “concert” in which players dogfight a demon, ride rainbows, and dance alongside a skyscraper-sized Ariana. The YouTube replay alone has already been seen by millions.

Twitter’s redesign

Twitter overhauled its website this week… and, as it tends to go when you change the look/feel of a popular thing, there was some user backlash. This time it went beyond the usual “I don’t like the radius of the rounded corners” complaints, though, with some users complaining that the new font Twitter chose gave them headaches.

Apple moves to clarify how its new child safety features work

Last week Apple announced that it would be rolling out a set of features meant to keep kids safe: One alerting parents if a minor is sending or receiving explicit images over iMessage, and another that would automatically compare generated hashes of iCloud Photos to detect and flag users who were storing known child abuse images. While protecting kids is undeniably and universally a good thing, security researchers have raised concerns about the potential for misuse by governments to scan for things beyond abuse imagery. It’s said to have caused a bit of a dustup within Apple, with “more than 800 messages” of back-and-forth posted by employees on the company’s internal Slack. The company has spent the last few days trying to clarify how the features will work, with Apple’s Craig Federighi admitting that it “got jumbled pretty badly in terms of how things were understood”. Read our interview with Apple’s head of Privacy here.

Xiaomi’s Robodog

Boston Dynamics’ Spot is no longer the only creepy dystopian robot dog in town. This week Xiaomi announced CyberDog, a four-legged bot meant to flex the company’s robo knowledge and serve as a platform for developers to build upon. Xiaomi says they’ll be selling them for around $1,500, with a catch: they’re only making a thousand of these, initially, and they’re only selling them to select “Xiaomi fans, engineers, and robotics enthusiasts.”

Lowercarbon raises $800M to “keep unf*cking the planet”

Lowercarbon Capital, the climate-focused fund run by Chris and Crystal Sacca, raised $800M to pour into companies that are taking on the climate crisis. “It turns out that raising for a climate fund in the context of an unprecedented heatwave and from behind the thick clouds of fire smoke probably didn’t hurt,” writes Sacca. Can tech save the planet? TBD. But continuing to do nothing definitely won’t.

FEMA tests the U.S. emergency alert system

If your phone was shouting about a test of the National Wireless Emergency System earlier this week, don’t panic: It was, in fact, just a test. Didn’t get it? Don’t panic about that, either — the test system is opt-in. If there’s an actual test, everyone will get it. Hopefully.

Xiaomi's new robot CyberDog

Image Credits: Xiaomi

Extra Things

More companies should shift to a work-from-home model

Is your company trying to drag everyone back into the office sooner than you’d like? Maybe send’em this article from Insightly COO Karl Laughton, outlining some of the findings and data-driven upsides the company has seen since going remote.

Dear Sophie: Can I hire an engineer whose green card is being sponsored by another company?

You’ve found the perfect job candidate and want to make an offer, but there’s a catch: they need an EB-2 green card, and another company has already started the sponsoring process. Can you make it work? It depends. In the latest edition of Dear Sophie, Immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn breaks down the EB-2 process and potential snags.

#tc, #week-in-review

Pixels, Palm readers and Pokémon problems

Hello friends! That’s what Lucas always starts off with, right?

Lucas is out for a few weeks, so I’ll be handling Week In Review until he’s back. TL;DR on me: I’m Greg, and I’ve been with TechCrunch for a long, long time. I joined around the time Twitter found the vowels in its name and people thought Facebook’s valuation was laughably high at $15 billion. (For reference, Facebook’s market cap broke $1 trillion last month.)

Enough about me! Want this in your inbox every week? Sign up here. Oh and by the way, Sarah Perez’s popular This Week In Apps column is now a weekly newsletter. Sarah rules and does a damned good job of wrapping up everything you need to know about the world of apps, so be sure to sign up, so you can get it in your inbox every Saturday morning.

And now, here’s a quick overview of what you might’ve missed this week.

The Big Thing

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

While Zoom has been around since 2011, its growth in 2020 was just on a whole different level. The pandemic blasted Zoom into the product-name-as-a-verb hall of fame pretty much overnight, with “let’s Zoom next week” joining the ranks of “Xerox this for me?” or “Photoshop it” or “Google it.”

With rapid growth, of course, comes growing pains.

Among these pains was a significant uptick in trolling. The idea of “Zoombombing” was born, wherein unapproved attendees crash a Zoom call and flood it with nasty images, hate speech, and whatever else they can blast out before the moderator (often unfamiliar with Zoom’s interface) figures out how to lock it down.

By April of 2020, Zoom had tweaked its settings to make meetings a bit less zoombomb-able by default — but by that point, a lawsuit had already been filed. Fourteen lawsuits were filed, in fact, and later condensed into one. The suits argued that the company hadn’t done enough to prevent Zoombombing, as well as shared user data with third parties without the user’s permission.

This week Zoom agreed to an $85 million settlement, along with a promise to add even more safeguards against would-be crashers. It’s an interesting example of how massive/sudden popularity can cause all new problems … but, well, considering that Zoom’s market cap went from $34 billion in March 2020 to $118 billion as of this week, I doubt anyone there is too crushed about it.

Other Things

Google previews the Pixel 6

Google’s next flagship Android phone is coming! When? TBD. How much? Good question! The company held back an unusual number of details in its first official acknowledgement of the Pixel 6’s existence, presumably to keep the focus on the custom AI-centric system on a chip they’re building for it. We know it’s got a big ol’ camera bump (or “camera bar,” as they’re calling it) and there will be two models (Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro). But beyond that, we’re stuck relying on leaked specs for now. Fortunately, said leaks have been pretty spot on thus far.

Robinhood’s wild ride

Robinhood went public this week — and, perhaps fittingly for the app that played no small role in the GameStop/AMC/etc. meme stock bonanza earlier this year, its first few days of trading have been something of a rollercoaster. It opened at $38, slipped on day one, only to rocket up to the $70s on day two. As I write this, it’s slowly heading back down to earth with a current price of around $53. As for the root cause of the volatility… as Alex Wilhelm put it: “This happens in 2021; we just have to get used to it.”

Pokémon Go players are mad

Because the fundamental concepts of Pokémon Go (Talk to strangers! Hang out in huge groups!) don’t work as well in a pandemic, Niantic tweaked a bunch of stuff last year to make the game more playable from home. Among other things, they bumped up the real-world radius in which players could interact with in-game landmarks, allowing you to do more while moving less. This week they started rolling those changes back as a “test”… and, well, people are mad. The company presumably has some data-driven reasons to revert… but from the outside, with the pandemic still ongoing, it just looks like a bad decision. Niantic has responded to the community uproar by forming an internal team to examine the options, promising updates by September 1st.

WhatsApp gets self-destructing, single-view photos

This week, WhatsApp embraced its inner-Snapchat with the introduction of “view once” mode, which allows users to send photos and videos that can be viewed once before they self-destruct. Be aware, though, that you probably don’t want to go and use it to send those top-secret documents (and/or butt pics); unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won’t even give you a heads-up if the viewer takes a screenshot.

Amazon wants to pay you $10 to scan your palm

Last year Amazon started letting customers at its checkout-free grocery stores pay for goods by waving their palm print over a biometric scanner. Now they’re paying new customers $10 to scan their print and get onboard. This story was super popular on the site this week, and I’m left wondering if it’s because people are mad about Amazon gobbling up all this biometric data or because they want the $10. Probably a bit of both.

Twitter kills Fleets

RIP Fleets. Less than a year after Twitter decided it too needed to clone Snapchat Stories, the company has ditched the concept. Why? It says it hoped it would entice new users; instead, the only people using it were those who were already pretty hardcore.

Square buys Afterpay

The buy-now, pay-later space got real big real fast, and Square wants in. This week the company announced its intent to acquire Afterpay, a company that lets you split big purchases across 6 weeks without credit checks or interest, for an earth-shattering $29 billion.

Google’s new Nest cams

Google’s got some new Nest camera gear coming later this month, including a few things that you might be surprised they didn’t make already — like a battery-powered outdoor camera and a motion-activated floodlight camera for your porch.

Elon’s Big Ship

The fun news: This week SpaceX put together the tallest rocket ship in history, with its fully stacked Starship rocket coming together at an absurd 390 feet tall (or 475 feet if you count the launch pad). The less fun news: It’s not going anywhere for now, as this assembly was just a fit test — put it together, take it apart, make sure nothing broke. An actual launch of this mammoth configuration isn’t expected until later this year, but it should be quite the spectacle.

Extra Things

Five factors founders must consider before choosing their VC

We’ve heard it on repeat lately: With so much capital flooding the market, now is the time for founders to be picky about who they let invest. But what things should you consider? Agya Ventures’ co-founder Kunal Lunawat has a few notes, from how well a VC understands your vision, to their background, to good ol’ gut instinct.

Avoid these common financial mistakes so your startup doesn’t die on the vine

Startups are hard enough without trying to deal with screwed up finances. In this article, Zeni founder Swapnil Shinde outlines three different financial pitfalls that are easy to fall into, but avoidable: fragmented finances, old data, and founders that don’t know when/what to delegate.

#tc, #week-in-review

In search of a new crypto deity

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, I wrote about tech taking on Disney. This week, I’m talking about the search for a new crypto messiah.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


The Big Thing

Elon has worn out his welcome among the crypto illuminati, and the acolytes of Bitcoin are searching out a new emperor god king.

This weekend, thousands of crypto acolytes and investors have descended on a Bitcoin-themed conference in Miami, a very real, very heavily-produced conference sporting crypto celebrities and actual celebrities all on a mission to make waves.

Even though I am not at the conference in person (panels from its main stage were live-streamed online), I have plenty of invites in my email for afterparties featuring celebrities, open bars and endless conversations on the perils of fiat. The cryptocurrency community has never been larger or richer thanks to its most fervent bull run yet, and despite a pretty noteworthy correction in the past few weeks, people believe the best is yet to come.

Despite having so much, what they still seem to be lacking is a patron saint.

For the longest bout, that was SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk who bolstered the currency by pushing Tesla to invest cash on its balance sheet into bitcoin, while also pushing for Tesla to accept bitcoin payments for its vehicles. As I’ve noted in this newsletter in the past, Musk had a tough time reconciling the sheer energy use of bitcoin’s global network with his eco warrior bravado which has seemed to lead to his mild and uneven excommunication (though I’m sure he’s welcome back at any time).

There are plenty of celebrities looking to fill his shoes — a recent endorsement gone wrong by Soulja Boy was one of the more comical instances.

Crypto has been no stranger to grift — of that even the most hardcore crypto grifters can likely agree — and I think there’s been some agreement that the only leader who can truly preach the gospel is someone who is already so rich they don’t even need more money. It’s one reason the community has offered up so much respect for Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin who truly doesn’t seem to care too much about getting any wealthier — he donated about $1 billion worth of crypto to Covid relief efforts in India. A Musk-like cheerleader serves a different purpose though, and so the community is in search of a Good Billionaire.

The best runner-up at the moment appears to be one Jack Dorsey, and while — like Musk — he is also another double-CEO, he is quite a bit different from him in demeanor and desire for the spotlight. He was, however, a headline speaker at Miami’s Bitcoin conference.

Dorsey gathers the most headlines for his work at Twitter but it’s Square where he is pushing most of his crypto enthusiasm. Users can already use Square’s Cash App to buy Bitcoin. Minutes before going onstage Friday, Dorsey tweeted out a thread detailing that Square was interested in building its own hardware wallet that users could store cryptocurrency like bitcoin on outside of the confines of an exchange.

“Bitcoin changes absolutely everything,” Dorsey said onstage. “I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on.”

And while the billionaire Dorsey seems like a good choice on paper — he tweets about bitcoin often, but only good tweets. He defends its environmental effects. He shows up to House misinformation hearings with a bitcoin tracker clearly visible in the background. He is also unfortunately the CEO of Twitter, a company that’s desire to reign in its more troublesome users — including one very troublesome user — has caused a rift between him and the crypto community’s very vocal libertarian sect.

Dorsey didn’t make it very far into his speech before a heckler made a scene calling him a hypocrite because of all this with a few others piping in, but like any good potential crypto king would know to do, he just waited quietly for the noise to die down.


(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Other things 

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Facebook’s Trump ban will last at least 2 years
In response to the Facebook Oversight Board’s recommendations that the company offer more specificity around its ban of former President Trump, the company announced Friday that it will be banning Trump from its platforms through January 2023 at least, though the company has basically given itself the ability to extend that deadline if it so desires…

Nigeria suspends Twitter
Nigeria is shutting down access to Twitter inside the country with a government official citing the “use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” Twitter called the shutdown “deeply concerning.”

Stack Overflow gets acquired for $1.8 billion
Stack Overflow, one of the most-visited sites of developers across the technology industry, was acquired by Prosus. The heavy hitter investment firm is best known for owning a huge chunk of Tencent. Stack Overflow’s founders say the site will continue to operate independently under the new management.

Spotify ups its personalization
Music service Spotify launched a dedicated section this week called Only You which aims to capture some of the personalization it has been serving up in its annual Spotify Wrapped review. Highlights of the new feature include blended playlists with friends and mid-year reviews.

Supreme Court limits US hacking law in landmark case
Justices from the conservative and liberal wings joined together in a landmark ruling that put limits on what kind of conduct can be prosecuted under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

This one email explains Apple
Here’s a fun one, the email exchange that birthed the App Store between the late Steve Jobs and SVP of Software Engineering, Bertrand Serlet as annotated by my boss Matthew Panzarino.


illustration of money raining down

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

For SaaS startups, differentiation is an iterative process
“The more you know about your target customers’ pain points with current solutions, the easier it will be to stand out. Take every opportunity to learn about the people you are aiming to serve, and which problems they want to solve the most. Analyst reports about specific sectors may be useful, but there is no better source of information than the people who, hopefully, will pay to use your solution..”

3 lessons we learned after raising $6 million from 50 investors
“…being pre-product at the time, we had to lean on our experience and our vision to drive conviction and urgency among investors. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. Investors either felt that our experience was a bad fit for the space we were entering (productivity/scheduling) or that our vision wasn’t compelling enough to merit investment on the terms we wanted.

The existential cost of decelerated growth
“Just because a technology startup has a hot start, that doesn’t mean it will grow quickly forever. Most will wind up somewhere in the middle — or worse. Put simply, there is a larger number of tech companies that do fine or a little bit worse after they reach scale.”

 

Again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#analyst, #app-store, #bertrand-serlet, #bitcoin, #blockchain, #bryce-durbin, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #digital-currencies, #elon-musk, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #india, #jack-dorsey, #king, #matthew-panzarino, #miami, #nigeria, #president, #prosus, #soulja-boy, #spacex, #spotify, #stack-overflow, #steve-jobs, #supreme-court, #svp, #tc, #technology, #tencent, #tesla, #trump, #twitter, #united-states, #vitalik-buterin, #week-in-review

Elon Musk giveth and taketh away

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, I wrote about Facebook’s never-ending Trump problem. This week, I’m looking at Elon Musk’s wild week of whipping crypto markets.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

The big thing

This week, Elon Musk may have crashed the crypto markets with a tweet.

Musk has always been anything but predictable but retail and institutional investors are also anything but dismissive of his ability to pump up markets — especially if there’s a good joke to tell in the meantime. A few days after he crashed Dogecoin because of his appearance on Saturday Night Live where he called the currency a “hustle,” he drove the price of Bitcoin — a cryptocurrency with a $1 trillion market cap –down as much as 17% with a tweet basically noting that he now believes Bitcoin is bad for the environment and that Tesla will not be accepting Bitcoin payments for its cars after all.

The impact was immediate. Crypto investors flooded into his mentions pleading for mercy and complaining to each other in public and private that he shouldn’t have been so rash. Unrelated coins across the cryptosphere dipped as investors worried whether the tweet, shipped at a tenuous moment for this bull run would drag the space down to earth. A later tweet that he was working with Dogecoin developers directly on improving its efficiency sent the joke coin (worth billions of dollars) surging and supplied crypto investors with a worrying insight that perhaps this is all just a joke to Musk.

Days later, Bitcoin has erased months of gains — though Dogecoin isn’t doing too poorly.

Musk has had his own dealings with the SEC in recent years, but his market moving tweets have seemed dubious at times but have generally seemed to be just another case of him trolling. Tesla’s investment in Bitcoin has complicated this somewhat, and while it’s not known whether he actually has holdings of Dogecoin, he’s certainly put himself in a less flexible legal arena when his company has a billion dollar stake in the fortunes of Bitcoin which he seems to lord control of over with his Twitter.

Retail investors aren’t used to blowing up a billionaire’s mentions and eliciting a response and there’s a certain irresistible power that comes with that especially for pumping nascent bets like Dogecoin, but I suspect that there’s going to be some reticence among a certain class of investor to invite Musk’s brand of randomized volatility into their wallets.

Other things

Jim Urquhart / Reuters

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Uber and Lyft supplying free rides to vaccine appointments
In an effort to get more Americans vaccinated, the Biden White House has partnered with Uber and Lyft allowing riders to get free rides to and from vaccination sites, covering up to $15 each way.

State attorneys tell Facebook to nix Instagram for Kids app
Attorneys General representing some 44 U.S. states and territories signed a letter pressuring Facebook to abandon its plans to create a version of Instagram designed specifically for kids.

Burning Man plans for a virtual year
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken yet another year of Burning Man away from attendees. The festival in the Nevada desert has been a favorite of high-profile tech executives, but this year they’ll have to settle for a wholly virtual experience.

Ethereum creator donates $1 billion to India Covid recovery
One of the wildest story of the weeks involves the creator of Ethereum dumping billions of dogecoin copy cats that were unceremoniously gifted to his account, donating them to a host of charities. He donated some $1.5 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in total.

Amazon nukes accounts of some major Chinese sellers
Alleging fake reviews and behaviors that violated its store policies, Amazon took the nuclear option on a number of massive Chinese sellers on its platform that were responsible for billions in merchandise value. Those account holders aren’t too happy and Amazon isn’t too repentant.

GasBuddy hits top of App Store 
In the wake of the Colonial Pipeline attack, several states in the eastern United States were left with gas shortages, pushing the gas-finding app GasBuddy to the top of the App Store for the first time ever.

Extra things

Illustration Expensify

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

The Expensify EC-1
“Let’s make it clear from the outset that this story is about an expense management SaaS business called Expensify. As you’d expect, yes, this is about the expense management market and how Expensify has grown, its technology and all of that. Normally, that would make us change the channel. But this is also a story about pirates; peer-to-peer hackers who asked, “Why not work from Thailand and dozens of countries across the globe?” and actually did it using P2P hacker culture as a model for consensus-driven decision-making — all with pre-Uber Travis Kalanick in a guest-starring role..”

Is there a creed in venture capital
“Entrepreneurs and investors should recognize that contracts are worth very little without the ongoing relationship management that keeps all parties aligned. Enforcement is so unusual in the world of startups that I consider it a mostly dead-end path. In my experience, good communication is the only reliable remedy. This is the way.

5 ways to raise your startups PR game
“I get emails every week from companies coming out of stealth mode, wanting to make a splash. Or from a Series B company that’s been around for a while and hopes to improve their branding/messaging/positioning so that a new upstart doesn’t eat their lunch. How do you make a splash? How do you stay relevant?”


Again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#blockchain, #cryptocurrency, #tc, #week-in-review

A ‘more honest’ stock market

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, I talked about Clubhouse’s slowing user growth. Well, this week news broke that they had been in talks with Twitter for a $4 billion acquisition, so it looks like they’re still pretty desirable. This week, I’m talking about a story I published a couple days ago that highlights pretty much everything that’s wild about the alternative asset world right now.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


The big thing

If you successfully avoided all mentions of NFTs until now, I congratulate you, because it certainly does seem like the broader NFT market is seeing some major pullback after a very frothy February and March. You’ll still be seeing plenty of late-to-the-game C-list celebrities debuting NFT art in the coming weeks, but a more sober pullback in prices will probably give some of the NFT platforms that are serious about longevity a better chance to focus on the future and find out how they truly matter.

I spent the last couple weeks, chatting with a bunch of people in one particular community — one of the oldest active NFT communities on the web called CryptoPunks. It’s a platform with 10,000 unique 24×24 pixel portraits and they trade at truly wild prices.

This picture sold for a $1.05 million.

I talked to a dozen or so people (including the guy who sold that one ^^) that had spent between tens of thousands and millions of dollars on these pixelated portraits, my goal being to tap into the psyche of what the hell is happening here. The takeaway is that these folks don’t see these assets as any more non-sensical than what’s going on in more traditional “old world” markets like public stock exchanges.

A telling quote from my reporting:

“Obviously this is a very speculative market… but it’s almost more honest than the stock market,” user Max Orgeldinger tells TechCrunch. “Kudos to Elon Musk — and I’m a big Tesla fan — but there are no fundamentals that support that stock price. It’s the same when you look at GameStop. With the whole NFT community, it’s almost more honest because nobody’s getting tricked into thinking there’s some very complicated math that no one can figure out. This is just people making up prices and if you want to pay it, that’s the price and if you don’t want to pay it, that’s not the price.”

Shortly after I published my piece, Christie’s announced that they were auctioning off nine of the CryptoPunks in an auction likely to fetch at least $10 million at current prices. The market surged in the aftermath and many millions worth of volume quickly moved through the marketplace minting more NFT millionaires.

Is this all just absolutely nuts? Sure.

Is it also a poignant picture of where alternative asset investing is at in 2021? You bet.

Read the full thing.


an illustration of a cardboard ballot box with an Amazon smile on the front

Other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Amazon workers vote down union organization attempt
Amazon is breathing a sigh of relief after workers at their Bessemer, Alabama warehouse opted out of joining a union, lending a crushing defeat to labor activists who hoped that the high-profile moment would lead more Amazon workers to organize. The vote has been challenged, but the margin of victory seems fairly decisive.

Supreme court sides with Google in Oracle case
If any singular event impacted the web the most this week, it was the Supreme Court siding with Google in a very controversial lawsuit by Oracle that could’ve fundamentally shifted the future of software development.

Coinbase is making waves
The Coinbase direct listing is just around the corner and they’re showing off some of their financials. Turns out crypto has been kind of hot lately and they’re raking in the dough, with revenue of $1.8 billion this past quarter.

Apple share more about the future of user tracking
Apple is about to upend the ad-tracking market and they published some more details on what exactly their App Tracking Transparency feature is going to look like. Hint: more user control.

Consumers are spending lots of time in apps
A new report from mobile analytics firm App Annie suggests that we’re dumping more of our time into smartphone apps, with the average users spending 4.2 hours a day doing so, a 30 percent increase over two years.

Sonos perfects the bluetooth speaker
I’m a bit of an audio lover, which made my colleague Darrell’s review of the new Sonos Roam bluetooth speaker a must-read for me. He’s pretty psyched about it, even though it comes in at the higher-end of pricing for these devices, still I’m looking forward to hearing one with my own ears.


 

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:
The StockX EC-1
“StockX is a unique company at the nexus of two radical transitions that isn’t just redefining markets, but our culture as well. E-commerce upended markets, diminishing the physical experience by intermediating and aggregating buyers and sellers through digital platforms. At the same time, the internet created rapid new communication channels, allowing euphoria and desire to ricochet across society in a matter of seconds. In a world of plenty, some things are rare, and the hype around that rarity has never been greater. Together, these two trends demanded a stock market of hype, an opportunity that StockX has aggressively pursued.”

Building the right team for a billion-dollar startup
“I would really encourage you to take some time to think about what kind of company you want to make first before you go out and start interviewing people. So that really is going to be about understanding and defining your culture. And then the second thing I’d be thinking about when you’re scaling from, you know, five people up to, you know, 50 and beyond is that managers really are the key to your success as a company. It’s hard to overstate how important managers, great managers, are to the success of your company.

So you want to raise a Series A
“More companies will raise seed rounds than Series A rounds, simply due to the fact that many startups fail, and venture only makes sense for a small fraction of businesses out there. Every check is a new cycle of convincing and proving that you, as a startup, will have venture-scale returns. Moore explained that startups looking to move to their next round need to explain to investors why now is their moment.”

Until next week,
Lucas M.

And again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#alabama, #amazon, #app-annie, #apple, #bessemer, #blockchain, #bluetooth, #bluetooth-speaker, #christies, #coinbase, #cryptocurrency, #e-commerce, #extra-crunch, #gamestop, #google, #operating-systems, #oracle, #real-time-web, #smartphone, #software, #software-development, #sonos, #stockx, #supreme-court, #tc, #techcrunch, #text-messaging, #twitter, #week-in-review

The Roblox final fantasy

Hello friends, and welcome to Week in Review.

Last week, I talked a bit about NFTs and their impact on artists. If you’re inundated with NFT talk just take one quick look at this story I wrote this week about the $69 million sale of Beeple’s photo collage. This hype cycle is probably all the result of crypto folks talking each other up and buying each other’s stuff, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be lasting impacts. That said, I would imagine we’re pretty close to the peak of this wave, with a larger one down the road after things cool off a bit. I’ve been wrong before though…

This week, I’m interested in a quick look at what your kids have been talking about all these years. Yes, Roblox.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox - Roblox Developer Conference 2019

(Photo by Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Roblox)

The big thing

Roblox went public on the New York Stock Exchange this week, scoring a $38 billion market cap after its first couple days of trading.

Investors rallied around the idea that Roblox is one of the most valuable gaming companies in existence. More than Unity, Zynga, Take-Two, even gaming giant Electronic Arts. It’s still got a ways to go to take down Microsoft, Sony or Apple though… The now-public company is so freaking huge because investors believe the company has tapped into something that none of the others have, a true interconnected creative marketplace where gamers can evolve alongside an evolving library of experiences that all share the same DNA (and in-game currency).

The gaming industry has entered a very democratic stride as cross-play tears down some of the walls of gaming’s platform dynamics. Each hardware platform that operates an app store of their own still has the keys to a kingdom, but it’s a shifting world with uncertainty ahead. While massive publishers have tapped cloud gaming as the trend that will string their blockbuster franchises together, they all wish they were in Roblox’s position. The gaming industry has seen plenty of Goliath’s in its day, but for every major MMO to strike it rich, it’s still just another winner in a field of disparate hits with no connective tissue.

Roblox is different, and while many of us still have the aged vision of the image above: a bunch of rudimentary Minecraft/Playmobile-looking mini-games, Roblox’s game creation tools are advancing quickly and developers are building photorealistic games that are wider in ambition and scope than before. As the company levels-up the age range it appeals to — both by holding its grasp on aging gamers on its platform and using souped-up titles to appeal to a new-generation — there’s a wholly unique platform opportunity here: the chance to have the longevity of an app store but with the social base layer that today’s cacophony of titles have never shared.

Whether or not Roblox is the “metaverse” that folks in the gaming world have been hyping, it certainly looks more like it than any other modern gaming company does.


SHENYANG, CHINA – MARCH 08: Customers try out iPhone 12 smartphones at an Apple store on March 8, 2021 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Other things

Apple releases some important security patches
It was honestly a pretty low-key week of tech news, I’ll admit, but folks in the security world might not totally buy that characterization. This week, Apple released some critical updates for its devices, fixing a Safari vulnerability that could allow attackers to run malicious code on a user’s unpatched devices. Update your stuff, y’all.

TikTok gets proactive on online bullying
New social media platforms have had the benefit of seeing the easy L’s that Facebook teed itself up for. For TikTok, its China connection means that there’s less room for error when it comes to easily avoidable losses. The team announced some new anti-bullying features aimed at cutting down on toxicity in comment feeds.

Dropbox buys DocSend
Cloud storage giants are probably in need of a little reinvention, the enterprise software boom of the pandemic has seemed to create mind-blowing amounts of value for every SaaS company except these players. This week, Dropbox made a relatively big bet on document sharing startup DocSend. It’s seemingly a pretty natural fit for them, but can they turn in into a bigger opportunity?

Epic Games buys photogrammetry studio
As graphics cards and consoles have hit new levels of power, games have had to satisfy desired for more details and complexity. It takes a wild amount of time to create 3D assets with that complexity so plenty of game developers have leaned on photogrammetry which turns a series of photos or scans of a real world object or environment into a 3D model. This week, Epic Games bought one of the better known software makers in this space, called Capturing Reality, with the aim of integrating the tech into future versions of their game engine.

Twitter Spaces launches publicly next month
I’ve spent some more time with Twitter Spaces this week and am growing convinced that it has a substantial chance to kneecap Clubhouse’s growth. Twitter is notoriously slow to roll out products, but it seems they’ve been hitting the gas on Spaces, announcing this week that it will be available widely by next month.

Seth Rogen starts a weed company
There’s a lot of money in startups, there’s really never been a better time to get capital for a project… if you know the right people and have the right kind of expertise. Seth Rogen and weed are a pretty solid mental combo and him starting a weed company shouldn’t be a big shock.


A Coupang Corp. delivery truck drives past a company's fulfillment center in Bucheon, South Korea, on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. and that could raise billions of dollars to battle rivals and kick off a record year for IPOs in the Asian country. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

Coupang follows Roblox to a strong first day of trading
“Another day brings another public debut of a multibillion-dollar company that performed well out of the gate.This time it’s Coupang, whose shares are currently up just over 46% to more than $51 after pricing at $35, $1 above the South Korean e-commerce giant’s IPO price range. Raising one’s range and then pricing above it only to see the public markets take the new equity higher is somewhat par for the course when it comes to the most successful recent debuts, to which we can add Coupang.” More

How nontechnical talent can break into deep tech
“Startup hiring processes can be opaque, and breaking into the deep tech world as a nontechnical person seems daunting. As someone with no initial research background wanting to work in biotech, I felt this challenge personally. In the past year, I landed several opportunities working for and with deep tech companies. More

Does your VC have an investment thesis or a hypothesis?
“Venture capitalists love to talk investment theses: on Twitter, Medium, Clubhouse, at conferences. And yet, when you take a closer look, theses are often meaningless and/or misleading…” More


Once more, if you liked reading this, you can get it in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

#apple, #apple-inc, #china, #cloud-gaming, #computing, #coupang, #docsend, #dropbox, #electronic-arts, #epic-games, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #gamer, #getty, #getty-images, #iphone, #microsoft, #online-games, #roblox, #smartphones, #software, #sony, #tc, #technology, #twitter, #week-in-review, #zynga

Institutional trust is the real meme

Hello friends, this is Week in Review.

Last week, I dove into the AR maneuverings of Apple and Facebook and what that means for the future of the web. This week, I’m aiming to touch the meme stock phenomenon that dominated American news cycles this week and see if there’s anything worth learning from it, with an eye towards the future web.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox every Saturday morning from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


Robin Hood statue in Nottingham

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

The big thing

This week was whatever you wanted it to be. A rising up of the proletariat. A case of weaponized disinformation. A rally for regulation… or perhaps deregulation of financial markets. Choose your own adventure with the starting point being one flavor of chaos leading into a slightly more populist blend of chaos.

At the end of it, a lot of long-time financiers are confused, a lot of internet users are using rent money to buy stock in Tootsie Roll, a lot of billionaires are finding how intoxicating adopting a “for-the-little-guy!” persona on Twitter can be, and here I am staring at the ceiling wondering if there’s any institution in the world trustworthy enough that the internet can’t turn it into a lie.

This week, my little diddy is about meme stocks, but more about the idea that once you peel away the need to question why you actually trust something, it can become easier to just blindly place that faith in more untrustworthy places. All the better if those places are adjacent to areas where others place trust.

The Dow Jones had its worst week since October because retail investors, organized in part on Reddit, turned America’s financial markets into the real front page of the internet. Boring, serious stocks like Facebook and Apple reported their earnings and the markets adjusted accordingly, but in addition to the serious bits of news, the Wall Street page was splashed with break neck gains from “meme stocks.” While junk stocks surging is nothing new, the idea that a stock can make outrageous gains based on nothing and then possibly hold that value based on a newly formed shared trust is newer and much more alarming.

The most infamous of these stocks was GameStop. (If you’re curious about GameStop’s week, there are at least 5 million stories across the web to grab your attention, here’s one. Side note: collectively we seem to have longer attention spans post-Trump.)

So, Americans already don’t have too much institutional faith. Looking through some long-standing Gallup research, compared to the turn of the century, faith in organized religion, the media, most wings of government, big business and banks has decreased quite a bit. The outliers in what Americans do seem to trust more than they did 20 or so years ago are small businesses and the military.

This is all to say that it’s probably not stellar that people don’t trust anything, and me thinking that the internet could probably disrupt every trusted institution except the military probably only shows my lack of creative thinking when it comes to how the web could democratize the Defense Department. As you might guess from that statement, I think democratizing access to certain institutions can be bad. I say that with about a thousand asterisks leading to footnotes that you’ll never find. I also don’t think the web is done disrupting institutional trust by a long shot, for better or worse.

Democratizing financial systems sounds a lot better from a populist lift, until you realize that the guys users are competing against are playing a different game with other people’s money. This saga will change plenty of lives but it won’t end particularly well for a most people exposed to “infinite upside” day trading.

Until this week, in my mind Robinhood was only reckless because it was exposing (or “democratizing access to” — their words) consumers to risk in a way that most of them probably weren’t equipped to handle. Now, I think that they’re reckless because they didn’t anticipate that OR how democratized access could lead to so many potential doomsday scenarios and bankrupt Robinhood. They quietly raised a $1 billion liquidity lifeline this week after they had to temporarily shut down meme stock trading, a move that essentially torched their brand and left them the web’s most hated institution. (Facebook had a quiet week)

This kind of all feeds back into this idea I’ve been feeding that scale can be very dangerous. Platforms seem to need a certain amount of head count to handle global audiences, and almost all of them are insufficiently staffed. Facebook announced this week in its earnings call that it has nearly 60,000 employees. This is a company that now has its own Supreme Court; that’s too big. If your institution is going to be massive and centralized, chances are you need a ton of people to moderate it. That’s something at odds with most existing internet platforms. Realistically, the internet would probably be happier with fewer of these sweeping institutions and more intimate bubbles that are loosely connected. That’s something that the network effects of the past couple decades have made harder but regulation around data portability could assist with.

Writing this newsletter, something I’m often reminded is that while it feels like everything is always changing, few things are wholly new. This great NYT profile from 2001 written by Michael Lewis is a great reminder of that, chronicling a 15-year-old who scammed the markets by using a web of dummy accounts and got hounded by the SEC but still walked away with $500k. Great read.

In the end, things will likely quiet down at Robinhood. There’s also the distinct chance that they don’t and that those meme traders just ignited a revolution that’s going to bankrupt the company and torch the globals markets, but you know things will probably go back to normal.

 

Until next week,
Lucas Matney


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Other things

SEC is pissed
I’ll try to keep these updates GameStop free, but one quick note from the peanut gallery. The SEC isn’t all that happy about the goings ons in the market this week and they’re mad, probably mostly at Robinhood. They got pretty terse with their statement. More

Facebook Oversight Board wants YOU
Zuckerberg’s Supreme Court wants public comment as it decides whether Facebook should give Trump his Instagram and Facebook accounts back. I’m sure any of Facebook’s executives would’ve stopped building the platform dead in its tracks in the years after its founding if they knew just how freaking complicated moderation was going to end up being for them, but you could probably have changed their mind back by showing them the market cap. More

Apple adtech-killing update drops in spring
After delaying its launch, Apple committed this week to the spring rollout of its “App Tracking Transparency” feature that has so much of the adtech world pissed. The update will force apps to essentially ask users whether they’d like to be tracked across apps. More

Robert Downey Jr. bets on startups
Celebrity investing has been popular forever, but it’s gotten way more common in the venture world in recent years. Reputation transfer teamed with the fact that money is so easy to come by for top founders, means that if you are choosing from some second-tier fund or The Chainsmokers, you might pick The Chainsmokers. On that note, actor Robert Downey Jr. raised a rolling fund to back climate tech startups, we’ve got all the deets. More

WeWork SPAC
Ah poor Adam Neumann, poor SoftBank. If only they’d kept their little “tech company” under wraps for another couple years and left that S-1 for a kinder market with less distaste for creative framing. It seems that WeWork is the next target to get SPAC’d and be brought onto public markets via acquisition. I’m sure everything will go fine. More

Tim Cook and Zuckerberg spar
Big tech is a gentlemen’s game, generally big tech CEOs play nice with each other in public and save their insults for the political party that just fell out of power. This week, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg were a little less friendly. Zuckerberg called out Apple by name in their earnings investor call and floated some potential unfair advantages that Apple might have. Them’s fighting words. Cook was more circumspect as usual and delivered a speech that was at times hilariously direct in the most indirect way possible about how much he hates Facebook. More


Extra things

Tidbits from our paywalled Extra Crunch content:
The 5 biggest mistakes I made as a first-time startup founder
“I and the rest of the leadership team would work 12-hour days, seven days a week. And that trickled down into many other employees doing the same. I didn’t think twice about sending emails, texts or slacks at night and on weekends. As with many startups, monster hours were simply part of the deal.”

Fintechs could see $100 billion of liquidity in 2021
“For the fourth straight year, the publicly traded fintechs massively outperformed the incumbent financial services providers as well as every mainstream stock index. While the underlying performance of these companies was strong, the pandemic further bolstered results as consumers avoided appearing in-person for both shopping and banking. Instead, they sought — and found — digital alternatives.”

Rising African venture investment powers fintech, clean tech bets in 2020
“What is driving generally positive venture capital results for Africa in recent quarters? Giuliani told TechCrunch in a follow-up email that ‘investment in Africa is being driven on the one hand by a broadening base for early-stage ecosystem support organizations, including accelerators, seed funds, syndicates and angel investing,” and “consolidation,” which is aiding both “growth-stage deals and a burgeoning M&A market.’”

 

#adam-neumann, #africa, #america, #apple, #apple-inc, #banking, #computing, #department-of-defense, #facebook, #gamestop, #lucas-matney, #mark-zuckerberg, #mike, #robinhood, #softbank, #supreme-court, #tc, #technology, #the-social-network, #tim-cook, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission, #week-in-review, #wework

Week in Review: Venture-backed loneliness

Hello everyone and welcome back to Week in Review! Natasha here, subbing in for Lucas while he’s out. This week, we’ll talk about loneliness raising money and how Zoom fatigue is fueling innovation.

For everyone celebrating, happy holidays! Keep on the lookout next week for more festive content, including the launch of our annual TechCrunch Gift Guides.

If you’re reading this on TechCrunch, you can sign up to get this in your inbox.

The big story

Over the last month, I spent time working out of virtual HQs. Dozens of founders are using spatial technology and gamification to create online worlds. Consumers are invited to congregate and create some of the spontaneity of in-person events, such as the work day or weddings. Founders are testing if the metaverse can be brought into the mainstream. After tossing a few succulents around myself, I was impressed (especially as a non-gamer) over how intuitive the platform felt. It feels special to bump into someone in 2020.

You can read more of my story here, which includes a demo video and pictures to give you a feel for the space. For today, though, I want to talk about what I think the rise of virtual HQs is not-so-subtly telling us.

Founders are trying to disrupt loneliness in this chapter of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a shift in what the technology at its core is trying to fix, and it’s a little dynamic called Zoom fatigue.

For example, in March, we saw startups race to try to bring remote work to the masses. Now, in November, we’re seeing startups race to fix the broken, fatigued world of remote work.

The issue here, I think, is that founders are trying to innovate a solution to a lack of spontaneity and togetherness in our lives. Spontaneity, by definition, cannot be forced. And the community will always feel different in person. These inherent clashes make us, or at least me, question what technology’s constraints are. That said, virtual event platform Hopin and its $2 billion valuation shuts me right up.

Still, as we see startups chase to fix the next big pain point that everyone can agree on, it will be important to track what’s a venture-backable problem, and what’s a more existential one.

The round up

A White House in transition 

It’s been a busy week for a shifting White House and big tech. President Trump fired U.S. cybersecurity official Chris Krebs for debunking false election claims. Meanwhile, two platforms that have fed fires of misinformation, Facebook and Twitter, had yet another testimony in front of Congress. Big tech will likely continue to face backlash when the Biden Administration takes lead, especially when it comes to antitrust regulation. However, it’s not all bad news for tech: President-elect Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan and tech-friendly transition team could help out startups. More here.

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine

This week, Pfizer and BioNTech sought emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine, which is 95% effective. The news follows Moderna’s report that its vaccine is 94.5% effective. While proposed approval could get vaccines in the hands of high-risk populations, wide-spread vaccines likely won’t be available until 2021. Keep reading here.

Apple’s latest Intel

As my colleague Brian Heater puts it, “every refresh can’t be a revolution” in hardware product updates. That said, Apple’s latest trio of Macs has impressed. We have reviews on the Mac mini, Macbook Air, and MacBook Pro. Notably, the line is powered by Mac’s in-house microchips, pushing an effort that has been in the works since 2008. It’s a win for Apple, and loss for Intel, which had until now been powering Macs. Still, Intel seems to be taking its break-up with Apple alright, since announcing its own white-label laptop.

TC: Sessions Space is approaching fast

NASA and SpaceX successfully launched four astronauts — and a special guest — into space for their first operational Dragon Crew Mission. History has been made – which makes our upcoming event even more exciting and timely. This year, TechCrunch is hosting its first-ever dedicated space event on December 16 and 17. The TC: Sessions Space agenda is packed, and includes fireside chats with the head of the US Space Force, NASA executives and more. Get your tickets now.

Other stories

Thanks for reading,

Natasha

 

 

#tc, #week-in-review

Week in Review: Snapchat strikes back

Hello hello, and welcome back to Week in Review. Last week, I wrote about the possibility of a pending social media detente, this week I’m talking about a rising threat to Facebook’s biz.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here. And while I have you, my colleague Megan Rose Dickey officially launched her new TechCrunch newsletter, Human Capital! It covers labor and diversity and inclusion in tech, go subscribe!


Image: TechCrunch

The Big Story

First off, let me tell you how hard it was to resist writing about Quibi this week, but those takes came in very hot the second that news dropped, and I wrote a little bit about it here already. All I will say, is that while Quibi had its own unique mobile problems, unless Apple changes course or dumps a ton of money buying up content to fill its back library, I think TV+ is next on the chopping block.

This week, I’m digging into another once-maligned startup, though this one has activated quite the turnaround in the last two years. Snap, maker of Snapchat, delivered a killer earnings report this week and as a result, investors deemed to send the stock price soaring. Its market cap has nearly doubled since the start of September and it’s clear that Wall Street actually believes that Snap could meaningfully increase its footprint and challenge Facebook.

The company ended the week with a market cap just short of $65 billion, still a far cry from Facebook $811 billion, but looking quite a bit better than it was in early 2019 when it was worth about one-tenth of what it is today. All of a sudden, Snap has a new challenge, living up to high expectations.

The company shared that in Q3, it delivered $679 million in reported revenue, representing 52% year-over-year growth. The company currently has 249 million daily active users, up 4% over last quarter.

Facebook will report its Q3 earnings next week, but they’re still in a different ballpark for the time being, even if their market cap is just around 12 times Snap’s, their quarterly revenue from Q2 was about 28 times higher than what Snap just reported. Meanwhile, Facebook has 1.79 billion daily actives, just about 7 times Snapchat’s numbers.

Snap has spent an awful lot of time proving the worth of features they’ve been pushing for years, but the company’s next challenge might be diversifying their future. The company has been flirting with augmented reality for years, waiting patiently for the right moment to expand its scope, but Snap hasn’t had the luxury of diverting resources away from efforts that don’t send users back to its core product. Some of its biggest launches of 2020 have been embeddable mini apps for things like ordering movie tickets or bite-sized social games that bring even more social opportunities into chat.

Snap’s laser focus here has obviously been a big part of its recovery, but as expectations grow, so will demands that the company moves more boldly into extending its empire. I don’t think Snapchat needs to buy Trader Joe’s or its own ISP quite yet, but working towards finding its next platform will prevent the service from settling for Twitter-sized ambitions and give them a chance at finding a more expansive future.


Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Trends of the Week

These next few weeks are guaranteed to be dominated by U.S. election news, so enjoy the diversity of news happenings out there while it lasts…

Quibi is dead
Few companies that have raised so much money have appeared quite dead-on-arrival as Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup Quibi. This week, the company made the decision to shut down operations and call it quits. More here.

Pakistan unbans TikTok
It appears that the cascading threat of country-by-country TikTok bans has stopped for now. This week, TikTok was unblocked in Pakistan with the government warning the company that it needed to actively monitor content or it would face a permanent ban. Read more here.

Facebook Dating arrives in Europe
Facebook Dating hasn’t done much to unseat Tinder stateside, but the service didn’t even get the chance to test its luck in Europe due to some regulatory issues relating to its privacy practices. Now, it seems Facebook has landed in the tentative good graces of regulatory bodies and has gotten the go ahead to launch the service in a number of European countries. Read more here.

 

 

Until next week,

Lucas M.

#apple, #computing, #europe, #facebook, #instant-messaging, #isp, #jeffrey-katzenberg, #megan-rose-dickey, #mobile-applications, #mobile-software, #pakistan, #quibi, #snap, #snap-inc, #snapchat, #software, #tc, #tiktok, #trader, #united-states, #vertical-video, #week-in-review

The modern mobile app needs a revamp

Hey everybody, welcome back to Week in Review. Last week, I wrote about Apple’s App Store controversy, which I’m kind of revisiting this week through the lens of how Apple’s WWDC announcements tease a change to what apps fundamentally look like in the future.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.

The Big Story

Apple’s App Store has had a controversial month with developers demanding changes to how apps are monetized, but as Apple detailed the next versions of its operating systems at WWDC, it’s clear they believe third-party apps themselves have room to be fundamentally revamped.

This week at WWDC, Apple debuted App Clips, a snappy new segment of third party experiences that scales down the idea of an app around just a single feature or two. A user can quickly call up an App Clip via a URL, NFC tag or visual code and download when the right context arises. In a lot of ways it’s just another notification type pinned to more limitations for devs, but the thinking behind it follows Apple’s continued interests to shove third-party integrations deeper inside the operating system itself.

We’ve operated an an app paradigm for such a long time, but as Apple thinks about future platforms like AR glasses, it’s kind of clear that grid-based apps aren’t very efficient. The company has learned this pretty slowly with the Apple Watch, but sometimes it’s almost better for third-party experiences to feel like addendums to stock apps rather than operate as dedicated siloed platforms. Complications have been huge for the Apple Watch, but they also highlight how devices with limited screen real estate aren’t great platforms for developers to compete with the device maker.

There’s a lot of room for Apple to transform not only how apps are sold and discovered but how they fundamentally operate. It’s clear that Apple is interested in a more contextually rich third-party experience inside iOS. The creation of an internal app store buried within iMessage in iOS 10 was the most aggressive implementation of this, though follow-up on that initiative has been fairly light. This could be extended to other stock apps to augment offerings with third-party tweaks, but Apple would have to move past their reluctance to ship experiences that aren’t good enough their own.

The idea of grid-based applications on a home screen isn’t always efficient for users, and while the App Store has delivered huge revenues to the company, it’s clear that Apple is still thinking about how to streamline that experience. Widgets and App Clips focus users on an app’s actual utility, and I’m curious whether that’s actually a good thing for developers. I’d imagine the more time users spend using these bite-sized experiences, the less time they’ll actually click on those apps, dampening those developers’ opportunities to build sustainable platforms.

These miniature experiences Apple is pushing developers toward piggyback off a trend that’s long reigned supreme in China. WeChat’s mini-program network is unlike anything that exists in the US. WeChat has long dominated and intrigued Western companies, and while there have been efforts for years to rethink the format of third-party integrations on mobile, few have had success in replacing core functionality that exists in apps downloaded from app stores.

It’s unclear whether Apple has any sizable threats who could take this path. Facebook has scaled back their developer platform ambitions significantly in the aftermath of Cambridge Analytica and its developers have been burned enough that Facebook seem ill-positioned to make a play here anytime soon. An exception might be Messenger though its team will have to move past its failed chatbot efforts of several years ago. Earlier this month, Snap announced that it would be integrating lightweight apps into the chat section of Snapchat. The feature launched with just a handful of third party experiences and was integrated into the same section that Snapchat serves up its launcher for mini games.

App Clips, Widgets, Siri Suggestions and a host of more minute features paint a vision of more aggressive efforts to bring app experiences closer to the silicon, pulling them outside of the app grid and getting to the gist of their utility. As Apple identifies opportunities to put context at the forefront of how third-party integrations are accessed, how much can they drive developers to their vision of the future without also alienating them?

amazon zoox

Trending

Amazon buys Zoox
Amazon is the latest tech giant to buy its way into the self-driving car industry. The company announced Friday that it would acquire the autonomous car startup Zoox. The company raised around $1 billion and the Financial Times reports that Amazon is getting its hands on the company for $1.2 billion. Read more here.

Microsoft kills Mixer
The race to take down Amazon’s Twitch got a lot more interesting this week when Microsoft shared it was bowing out of the game-streaming race and shutting down its Twitch competitor, Mixer. The service had started with a long road ahead of it which Microsoft aimed to shorten by acquiring exclusive streaming rights to some of the world’s top gaming personalities. Apparently, that wasn’t enough. Read more about it here.

Facebook kills Oculus Go
This week, I wrote about how Facebook was killing off the cheapest VR device it sells, the $149 Oculus Go headset. The device has already been sold out for weeks, but Facebook’s discontinuation of the two-year-old device comes as a surprise given previous company statements that insinuated it would receive updates down the line. Read more here.

Extra Crunch

Investors and entrepreneurs are shifting their chats to Zoom, so we’re taking note and hosting live Q&A discussions for our Extra Crunch subscribers with some of tech’s most visible figures. We’ll be hosting these Extra Crunch live chats over the next several weeks.

Announcing the Extra Crunch Live event series

  • Later this month, we’ll be talking with Hans Tung and Jeff Richards of GGV Capital
    Tuesday, June 30 at 12:30pm PT / 3:30pm ET

Hans Tung and Jeff Richards are managing partners at GGV Capital, a global VC firm that invests in startups from seed through growth-stage. The firm has invested in well-known companies like Slack, Square, Peloton, Zendesk, Hashicorp, ByteDance, and Airbnb. During our conversation we’ll examine how the duo’s investment appetite has changed in recent months, what it means to be a globally-focused investor amidst a pandemic, and how their mom-and-pop shop investment thesis is working out.

#tc, #week-in-review

Week in Review: Facebook hardware finds pandemic market fit

Hey everybody, welcome back to Week in Review. The world of COVID-19 is our new reality, so I’ll continue to include links to some positive updates on research, but I’ll be shifting back the focus to covering tech’s movers and shakers of the week.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.


The big story

One thing that’s been interesting to see over the past few weeks is how our relationship with screen time has changed. For many, screen time is now all the time and while we haven’t stopped using too many gadgets, there are some we’ve taken out of drawers and closets and added to our repertoire.

For some, it’s been cooking gadgets. While I’ve yet to open up the sous vide gadget I received over the holidays, I was very tempted by my editor’s review of the Ooni gas-fired outdoor pizza oven this week. For me, I’ve strangely seemed to spend a lot more time with the two gadgets I own that are made by Facebook. The currently sold-out Oculus Quest and Facebook Portal are the twin pillars of Facebook’s hardware strategy, but it’s been a bit interesting to see how much more that strategy seems to thrive when we’re all stuck at home.

In a lot of ways, Facebook’s hardware feels built for a quarantine.

The Quest spent a lot of time in my closet when I was out in the world pre-quarantine, but now that I’m in my house most of the day, it spends a good amount of time strapped to my face. When VR was a more hyped technology, there was a broader conversation of whether it encouraged isolation, something promoters of the tech pushed aside, noting that it enables rich shared experiences over the web. As we all host Zoom birthday parties and visit each other’s Animal Crossing islands, it’s becoming clear that with the absence of available physical connections, we can turn a lot of things into rich shared experiences.

In a lot of ways, the Quest is a reminder of what I’m missing out on. The walls of my SF apartment feel less containing when I can hop into a VR workout or jump between games. For the first time, the technology has felt transportive in the way that the ads sold it, but it’s not that the experiences have gotten better, the world has just gotten much worse.

In the same way that VR allows us to re-skin isolation, the Portal allows us to commiserate in it.

My Portal usage has spiked in the past weeks as well. Before stay-at-home orders, coordinating a call with multiple family members was a logistical nightmare and FaceTime calls made it more likely we’d get in touch with each other, but none of my siblings are wandering far from their Portals these days.

We are all still on our phones, but for those of us working from home, mobile we are not. It’s always been fascinating that a tech company which has wildly succeeded at capturing the nuances of mobile computing has been so devoted to selling hardware meant to move us around the internet while staying in place at home. Now, that we are all at home, we are all always there and the Portal really lives up to its name.

Facebook has designed gadgets explicitly built for home use, and more than that, they’re designed devices built around session-based use cases. While Amazon Echos and Google Homes have fit into a persistent IoT platform that are always there for us, Facebook’s gadgets are more high-maintenance, designed for people to fully commit to. For a company that’s focused on the universal nature of its software, its hardware has been built for almost no one’s needs, instead designed to pull people into a future Facebook imagines.

For now, I put the Quest on my face and sometime I tell the Portal to call my sisters, but will these quarantine oddities form tech habits I hold onto after this is all behind us? In these historic times, we are at home and we are craving connections, and, for the time being, the Facebook future feels good.

jeff bezos iac 2019 1

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Bezos wants to test all Amazon employees for COVID-19
    As Amazon bares the brunt of America’s online shopping needs, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in a shareholder letter this week about some of the strategies the company has to ensure its workforce stays on the job. One possibility seems to be “regular testing of all Amazonians, including those showing no symptoms,” Bezos says. Read more here.
  • Google is building a smart debit card
    Just as every startup is getting into lending or banking, every tech giant wants to have a piece of plastic (or metal) in your wallet. This week, TechCrunch broke news that Google is building a smart debit card that could rival the Apple Card. Read more about it here.
  • Apple launches a new iPhone SE
    The iPhone SE has grown to become one of the more fascinating devices Apple sells, cramming speedy components into a form factor that’s fallen out of vogue for their customer obsessed with the latest designs. The latest SE adopt the body of the iPhone 8 with souped-up internals that rival more recent flagships on performance. Read more about the new hardware here.

Photo by Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

COVID-19 Research

Here are some of the stories this week chronicling the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Extra Crunch

Investors and entrepreneurs are shifting their chats to Zoom, so we’re taking note and hosting live Q&A discussions for our Extra Crunch subscribers with some of tech’s most visible figures. We’ll be hosting these Extra Crunch live chats over the next several weeks.

Announcing the Extra Crunch Live event series

  • This upcoming week, we’ll be talking to Aileen Lee & Ted Wang of Cowboy Ventures.
    Monday, April 20 at 10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET

We’ll be chatting with Aileen Lee (former KPCB partner, founder and managing director at Cowboy.vc and coiner of the term “Unicorn”) and Ted Wang (Cowboy.vc partner, former partner at Fenwick & West, and former outside counsel to Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Square and more) about how they’re advising their portfolio companies, if there are new and innovative ways for early-stage startups to secure capital beyond the traditional VC route and whether startups should hunker down or lean in during these uncertain times.

#tc, #week-in-review