Daily Crunch

Daily Crunch: Travis Kalanick is leaving Uber’s board

Posted by | Apps, Daily Crunch, Mobile, Travis Kalanick, Uber | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Uber founder Travis Kalanick is leaving the company’s board of directors

Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick will officially resign from the board as of December 31, to “focus on his new business and philanthropic endeavors,” according to a company press release.

Kalanick, who was forced out as Uber CEO and eventually replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi, has been in the process of selling off his considerable ownership stake in the company. In fact, it looks like Kalanick has now sold all his remaining stock.

2. Plenty of Fish app was leaking users’ hidden names and postal codes

Dating app Plenty of Fish has pushed out a fix for its app after a security researcher found it was leaking information that users had set to “private” on their profiles. Before the fix, the app was silently returning users’ first names and postal ZIP codes, according to The App Analyst.

3. As DraftKings finds an exit, a reminder of what could have been

DraftKings, a betting service focused on fantasy sports, will go public via a reverse merger. Not too long ago DraftKings and its erstwhile rival FanDuel were ubiquitous on television; now the two companies are fractions of what they once were. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

4. Gift Guide: 13 last-minute subscription gifts for the people you totally didn’t forget

It’s too late to order things online, and brick-and-mortar stores are either closed for the week or absolutely slammed. So what can you do? Subscriptions!

5. Fyre Festival meets Mr. Bone Saw

Connie Loizos looks at the controversy around the three-day-long MDL Beast Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The event, promoted by a number of celebrities and social media influencers, aimed to promote the efforts of its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS).

6. A false start for foldables in 2019

A year from now, the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s turbulent takeoff may well be a footnote in the largest story of foldables. For now, however, it’s an important caveat that will come up in every conversation about the nascent product category. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. Micro-angelo? This 3D-printed ‘David’ is just one millimeter tall

3D printing has proven itself useful in so many industries that it’s no longer necessary to show off, but some people just can’t help themselves. Case in point: this millimeter-tall rendition of Michelangelo’s famous “David” printed with copper using a newly developed technique.

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Daily Crunch: Facebook acquires a cloud gaming startup

Posted by | Daily Crunch, Facebook, Gaming, PlayGiga, Social | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook acquires Madrid-based cloud gaming startup PlayGiga

Facebook is building out its gaming business — earlier this year, the company added its Gaming hub to the main navigation menu. And last month, it agreed to buy Beat Games, developer of popular virtual reality title Beat Saber.

PlayGiga, meanwhile has been working with telcos to create streaming game technology for 5G. It also developed a gaming-as-a-service platform, using Intel’s Visual Cloud platform, that will enable telcos and communication service providers to offer streaming games to their customers.

2. TiVo merges with technology licensor Xperi in $3 billion deal

Earlier this year, TiVo said it was preparing to split itself into two — a product and IP business — in order to make itself more attractive to buyers. Today, the company announced those plans have been put on hold as it has instead merged with technology licensor Xperi Corporation, in a $3 billion deal.

3. Spotify prototypes Tastebuds to revive social music discovery

Tastebuds (discovered by reverse engineering master Jane Manchun Wong) is designed to let users explore the music taste profiles of their friends. It will live as a navigation option alongside your Library and Home/Browse sections.

4. Uber’s ride-hailing business hit with ban in Germany

In Germany, Uber’s ride-hailing business works exclusively with professional and licensed private-hire vehicle companies — so the court ban essentially outlaws Uber’s current model in the country.

5. Snackpass snags $21M to let you earn friends free takeout

Sending people Snackpass rewards became a new way to flirt or show gratitude at Yale. And through the Venmo-esque Snackpass social feed, users could keep up with a fresh form of gossip while discovering restaurants.

6. PayPal completes GoPay acquisition, allowing the payments platform to enter China

Though China’s payment market today is led by local players, including eWallet providers like AliPay and WeChat Pay, there’s room for PayPal to grow in a market where digital payments per year are counted in the trillions, not billions, of dollars.

7. Tesla’s record stock price shows its investment in energy storage is finally paying off

A little over a year after sparking a legal firestorm for musing that he would take Tesla private for $420, Elon Musk is probably glad he didn’t. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Daily Crunch: Apple adds new iPhone parental controls

Posted by | Apple, Daily Crunch, Mobile | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. The iPhone’s new parental controls can limit who kids can call, text and FaceTime and when

With the release of iOS 13.3, parents will for the first time be able to set limits over who kids can talk to and text with during certain hours of the day. These limits will apply across phone calls, Messages and FaceTime.

In practice, this means parents could stop their child from texting friends late at night or during the school day. It also allows parents to manage the child’s iCloud contacts remotely.

2. Pear, whose seed-stage bets are followed closely, just raised $160 million for its third fund

That’s more than twice the $75 million that the firm raised for its second fund in 2016 and triple the $50 million it raised for its debut fund back in 2013.

3. Uber guarantees space for skis and snowboards with Uber Ski feature

Starting on December 17 in select cities, an Uber Ski icon will pop up on the app, allowing passengers to order a ride with confirmed extra space or a ski/snowboarding rack. Nundu Janakiram, Uber’s head of rider experience, said to expect more features like this.

4. Accel and Index back Tines, as the cybersecurity startup adds another $11M to its Series A

Founded in February 2018 by ex-eBay, PayPal and DocuSign security engineer Eoin Hinchy, Tines automates many of the repetitive manual tasks faced by security analysts so they can focus on other high-priority work.

5. How Station F is boosting the French tech ecosystem

Three years after unveiling Station F at Disrupt, its director, Roxanne Varza, came back to our stage to provide an update on the world’s biggest startup campus, where there are now 1,000 companies at work.

6. Hyperproof wants to make it easier to comply with GDPR and other regulations

As companies try to figure out how to comply with regulations like GDPR, ISO or Sarbanes Oxley, Hyperproof is launching a new product to workflows that will allow them to gain compliance in a more organized way.

7. Introducing ‘Dear Sophie,’ an advice column for US-bound immigrant employees

Dear Sophie is a collaborative forum hosted by Extra Crunch and curated by Sophie Alcorn, who is certified as a specialist attorney in immigration and nationality law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

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Daily Crunch: Imgur launches an app for gaming memes

Posted by | Daily Crunch, Imgur, Mobile, Social, Startups | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. 300M-user Imgur launches Melee, a gaming meme app

Melee, the company’s first app beyond its flagship product, lets users subscribe to the games from which they love to get memes and gameplay clips. You also can scroll through a popular post’s feed if you’re curious about unfamiliar games.

If you’re worried about the risk that gaming communities might turn toxic, Imgur says Melee has multiple layers of community and staff moderation, will remove obscene content and won’t tolerate bullying.

2. SpaceX nears milestone on key crew launch system test

SpaceX is keeping relatively close to schedule on one of the bold timelines pronounced by its CEO Elon Musk. Specifically, the company notes that it has now completed seven system tests of the latest, upgraded version of the parachutes it plans to use with its Crew Dragon capsule when it launches with astronauts on-board.

3. Flipkart leads $60M investment in logistics startup Shadowfax

Shadowfax operates a business-to-business logistics network in more than 300 cities in India. The startup works with neighborhood stores to use their real estate to store inventory, and with a large network of freelancers for delivery.

4. A Sprint contractor left thousands of US cell phone bills on the internet by mistake

A contractor working for cell giant Sprint stored hundreds of thousands of cell phone bills for AT&T, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) and T-Mobile subscribers on an unprotected cloud server.

5. How to build or invest in a startup without paying capital gains tax

Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) presents a significant tax savings opportunity for people who create and invest in small businesses. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Volvo invests in autonomous vehicle operating system startup Apex.AI though its VC arm

Apex.AI is working on developing a robotic operating system qualified for use in production automobiles. Its offerings include a set of simple-to-integrate APIs that can give automakers and others access to fully certified autonomous mobility technology.

7. Check out the prizes for TC Hackathon at Disrupt Berlin

One team gets $5,000, but we’ve got additional prizes from a range of sponsors. Also: This is next week!

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Daily Crunch: TikTok starts experimenting with commerce

Posted by | Apps, Daily Crunch, Mobile, Social, tiktok | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. TikTok tests social commerce

The short-form video app said it’s allowing some users to add links to e-commerce sites (or any other destination) to their profile, while also offering creators the ability to easily send their viewers to shopping websites.

On their own, these changes might not sound that dramatic, and parent company ByteDance characterizes them as experiments. But it could eventually lead TikTok to become a major force in commerce — and to follow the lead of Instagram, where “link in bio” has become one of the most common promotional messages.

2. Despite bans, Giphy still hosts self-harm, hate speech and child sex abuse content

A new report from Israeli online child protection startup L1ght  has uncovered a host of toxic content hiding within the popular GIF-sharing community, including illegal child abuse content, depictions of rape and other toxic imagery associated with topics like white supremacy and hate speech.

3. Lyft is ceasing scooter operations in six cities and laying off 20 employees

Lyft notified employees today that it’s pulling its scooters from six markets: Nashville, San Antonio, Atlanta, the Phoenix area, Dallas and Columbus. A spokesperson told us, “We’re choosing to focus on the markets where we can have the biggest impact.”

4. Takeaways from Nvidia’s latest quarterly earnings

After yesterday’s earnings report, Wall Street seems to have barely budged on the stock price — everyone’s waiting for resolution on some of the key questions facing the company. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

5. Virgin Galactic begins ‘Astronaut Readiness Program’ for first paying customers

The program is being run out of the global headquarters of Under Armour, Virgin Galactic’s partner for its official astronaut uniforms. The training, with instruction from Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses and Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, is required for all Virgin Galactic passengers.

6. AWS confirms reports it will challenge JEDI contract award to Microsoft

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson suggested that there was possible bias in the selection process: “AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts.”

7. SoftBank Vision Fund’s Carolina Brochado is coming to Disrupt Berlin

At SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Brochado focuses on fintech, digital health and marketplace startups. Some of her past investments with both Atomico and SoftBank include LendInvest, Gympass, Hinge Health, Ontruck and Rekki.

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Daily Crunch: Adobe launches Photoshop for iPad

Posted by | Adobe, Daily Crunch, Mobile, photoshop | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Adobe Photoshop arrives on the iPad

Adobe has released Photoshop for the iPad, making good on an announcement that it made last October.

The tablet version of the popular photo-editing software is free to download, and includes a 30-day free trial. After that it’s $9.99 per month via in-app purchase, or you can get access as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

2. Cortana wants to be your personal executive assistant and read your emails to you, too

At its Ignite conference, Microsoft announced a number of new features that help Cortana to become even more useful in your day-to-day work, all of which fit into the company’s overall vision of AI as a tool that is helpful and augments human intelligence.

3. Apple commits $2.5 billion to address California’s housing crisis and homelessness issues

The investment includes a $1 billion commitment to an affordable housing investment fund, $1 billion toward a first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund and $300 million in Apple-owned land that will be made available for affordable housing.

4. A startup just launched red wine to the International Space Station to age for 12 months

The wine isn’t being sent just to help the ISS astronauts relax. Instead, it’s part of an experiment that will study how the aging process for wine is affected by a microgravity, space-based environment.

5. Lemonade gets a nastygram from Deutsche Telekom over its use of magenta, says it will fight

Deutsche Telekom’s German lawyers have sent a letter to AI insurance startup Lemonade, demanding it cease using magenta — a color that appears across Lemonade’s logo and marketing material — globally.

6. Where tech companies should look to expand

Zillow’s Cheryl Young says the company has analyzed data to determine the best markets that provide fertile environments for startups or tech companies looking to put down stakes for their next office.

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

On the latest episode of Equity, Alex and Kate discuss Sam Altman’s investment in Quill, a company that could eventually challenge Slack. And on Original Content, we review the Netflix series “Living with Yourself,” in which Paul Rudd plays two different versions of the same man.

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Daily Crunch: We review the Pixel 4

Posted by | Daily Crunch, Google, hardware, Mobile, Pixel 4 | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Pixel 4 review: Google ups its camera game

Brian Heater was impressed by the improvements in Google’s latest smartphone, including camera upgrades and the Recorder app.

However, he also argued that the Pixel 4 doesn’t exactly address what Google wants the Pixel to be, moving forward, especially after the Pixel 3a it was confirmed that consumers were looking for something cheaper.

2. NordVPN confirms it was hacked

The admission comes after rumors that the company had been breached, and what first emerged was that NordVPN had left an expired internal private key exposed, potentially allowing anyone to spin out their own servers imitating NordVPN.

3. Netflix to raise $2 billion in debt to fund more content spending

Despite a relatively strong earnings report last week, Netflix isn’t out of the woods just yet. Disney+ and Apple+ launch next month, and there’s more competition on the way.

4. Commercetools raises $145M from Insight for Shopify-style e-commerce APIs for large enterprises

The funding comes at the same time as commercetools is getting spun out by REWE, a German retail and tourist services giant that acquired the startup in 2015.

5. The Surface Pro 7 is a competent upgrade with USB-C, refreshed processors, but little else that’s new

The Pro 7, which is going on sale today, is a competent upgrade that gives Surface Pro users exactly what they want — even if it sticks to a tried and tested formula.

6. IPOs are the beginning, not the end

At Disrupt SF, PagerDuty’s Jennifer Tejada argued that an IPO “is part of the beginning of a long journey for a durable company that you want to build a legacy around.” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

The Equity team talks to Greylock’s Sarah Guo about the future of software-as-a-service products, while Original Content has a review of “El Camino,” the new “Breaking Bad” movie on Netflix.

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Daily Crunch: Apple pulls Hong Kong app

Posted by | Apple, Apps, Daily Crunch, Mobile, Policy | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Apple pulls HKmap from App Store, the day after Chinese state media criticized its ‘unwise and reckless decision’ to approve it

Less than a day after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for allowing HKmap in the App Store, the crowdsourced map app said it had been delisted.

This is Apple’s second reversal on the issue, which it explained with a statement claiming it learned that the app “has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.”

2. Grammarly raises $90M at over $1B+ valuation for its AI-based grammar and writing tools

Grammarly provides a toolkit used today by 20 million people to correct their written grammar, suggest better ways to write things and moderate their tone depending on who will be doing the reading.

3. Okta wants to make every user a security ally

Okta is giving end users information about suspicious activity involving their login, while letting them share information with the company’s security apparatus.

4. Waymo to customers: ‘Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way’

Waymo’s existing programs all use a human safety driver behind the wheel. Now the Alphabet-owned company is getting ready for completely driverless rides.

5. Calm and Room made a $4,000 branded ‘meditation booth’

From the looks of it, the Calm Booth by Room is little more than a standard Room booth, with frosted glass, softer lighting and “a soothing misty forest interior.” But it’s a pretty smart partnership between two white-hot startups.

6. Creators of modern rechargeable batteries share Nobel prize

The prize this year honors M. Stanley Whittingham, John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino, all of whom contributed to the development of what is today the most common form of portable power.

7. Silicon Valley’s competing philosophies on tech ethics with The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz

Marantz has in recent years trained his attention on the tech world and its contribution to social unrest in the United States and beyond. And he has just published a new book, “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Daily Crunch: China pressures Apple

Posted by | Apple, Daily Crunch, Mobile, Policy | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. China attacks Apple for allowing Hong Kong crowdsourced police activity app

Apple’s decision to greenlight an app called HKmaps, which is being used by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence, is attracting the ire of the Chinese government.

Specifically, an article in Chinese state mouthpiece China Daily attacks the iPhone maker for reversing an earlier decision not to allow the app to be listed on the iOS App Store.

2. What the hell is up with this Essential device?

Essential CEO Andy Rubin tweeted photos of what he called a “radically different formfactor” — basically, it’s a long, skinny phone.

3. Uber’s newest feature alerts drivers that pets will be joining the ride

With Uber Pet, riders will pay a “small surcharge” for the privilege of taking their pets with them. And drivers will have the option of avoiding trips with non-service animals by opting out of Uber Pet trips.

4. Twitter admits it used two-factor phone numbers and emails for serving targeted ads

Twitter finds itself in the same boat as Facebook, which last year was caught using phone numbers and email addresses — given to Facebook to secure users’ accounts — for targeted advertising.

5. Google’s Grasshopper coding class for beginners comes to the desktop

A larger screen and access to a keyboard makes learning to code on the desktop significantly easier than on mobile. For example, in the desktop app Google is able to put columns for the instructions, the code editor and the results next to each other.

6. Amazon, Walmart confront India’s slowing economy as holiday season growth stalls

Even India’s biggest festive season, featuring blinding marketing blitzkrieg and heavy discounts from Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart, has failed to escape the pains of a slowing economy.

7. With $15M round and 100K tablets sold, reMarkable CEO wants to make tech ‘more human’

The reMarkable tablet is a strange device in this era of ultra-smart gadgets, with a black and white screen meant for reading, writing and sketching — and nothing more. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Daily Crunch: The iPhone 11 goes to Disneyland

Posted by | Apple, Daily Crunch, iphone 11, Mobile | No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Review: The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 do Disneyland after dark

Matthew Panzarino continues his tradition of testing out the latest iPhones at Disneyland. This time, he was particularly interested in how well the iPhone 11’s Night Mode works. His verdict: It compares extremely well to other low-light cameras, with exposure and color rendition that’s best-in-class.

But if you’re planning to upgrade, should you get the Pro, or the regular ol’ iPhone 11? Apparently the Pro is really there to address edge cases — the best video and photo options, a better dark mode experience, a brighter screen.

2. Under pressure, The We Company now only says it expects to go public ‘by the end of the year’

A new note from WeWork’s parent company all but confirms that it is indeed delaying its IPO roadshow, which had been expected to commence this week.

3. Amazon launches Amazon Music HD with lossless audio streaming

Amazon has a new, high-quality streaming tier of its music service called Amazon Music HD. It’s priced at $12.99 per month for Prime members, and you can add it to your existing Amazon Music subscription for an additional $5 each month.

disrupt will smith ang lee

4. Will Smith and Ang Lee are coming to Disrupt SF

They’ll be joining us to discuss their upcoming film “Gemini Man,” which features “jaw-dropping effects” from Weta Digital. The effects allow Smith to play both an assassin named Henry Brogan and a younger clone who’s been sent to kill his older counterpart.

5. Computer scientist Richard Stallman, who defended Jeffrey Epstein, resigns from MIT CSAIL and the Free Software Foundation

Stallman said he has resigned from his position as a visiting scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab after describing a victim of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as “entirely willing” in emails sent to a department list.

6. I hope Apple Arcade makes room for weird, cool shit

Apple Arcade seems purpose-built to make room in the market for beautiful, sad, weird, moving, slow, clever and heartfelt.

7. What startup CSOs can learn from three enterprise security experts

How do you keep your startup secure? That’s one of the big questions we explored at TC Sessions: Enterprise earlier this month — and if you weren’t there, we’ve got a write-up of the main takeaways. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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