posted 2 days ago on techcrunch
Movie ticket subscription service MoviePass has exposed tens of thousands of customer card numbers and personal credit cards because a critical server was not protected with a password. Mossab Hussein, a security researcher at Dubai-based cybersecurity firm SpiderSilk, found an exposed database on one of the company’s many subdomains. The database was massive, containing 161 million records at the time of writing and growing in real-time. Many of the records were normal computer-generated logging messages used to ensure the running of the service — but many also included sensitive user information, such as MoviePass customer card numbers. These MoviePass customer cards are like normal debit cards: they’re issued by Mastercard and store a cash balance, which users who sign up to the subscription service can use to pay to watch a catalog of movies. For a monthly subscription fee, MoviePass uses the debit card to load the full cost of the movie, which the customer then uses to pay for the movie at the cinema. We reviewed a sample of 1,000 records and removed the duplicates. A little over half contained unique MoviePass debit card numbers. Each customer card record had the MoviePass debit card number and its expiry date, the card’s balance, when it was activated. The database had more than 58,000 records containing card data — and was growing by the minute. We also found records containing customers’ personal credit card numbers and their expiry date — which included billing information, including names, and postal addresses. Among the records we reviewed, we found records with enough information to make fraudulent card purchases. Some records, however, contained card numbers that had been masked except for the last four digits. The database also contained email address and some password data related to failed login attempts. We found hundreds of records containing the user’s email address and presumably incorrectly typed password — which was logged — in the database. We verified this by attempting log into the app with an email address and password that didn’t exist but only we knew. Our dummy email address and password appeared in the database almost immediately. None of the records in the database were encrypted. Hussain contacted MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe by email — which TechCrunch has seen — over the weekend but did not hear back. It was only after TechCrunch reached out Tuesday when MoviePass took the database offline. It’s understood that the database may have been exposed for months, according to data collected by cyberthreat intelligence firm RiskIQ, which first detected the system in late June. We asked MoviePass several questions — including why the initial email disclosing the security lapse was ignored, for how long the server was exposed, and its plans to disclose the incident to customers and state regulators. When reached, a spokesperson did not comment by our deadline. MoviePass has been on a rollercoaster since it hit mainstream audiences last year. The company quickly grew its customer base from 1.5 million to 2 million customers in less than a month. But MoviePass took a tumble after critics said it grew too fast, forcing the company to cease operating briefly after the company briefly ran out of money. The company later said it was profitable, but then suspended service, supposedly to work on its mobile app. It now says it has “restored [service] to a substantial number of our current subscribers.” Leaked internal data from April said its customer numbers went from three million subscribers to about 225,000. And just this month MoviePass reportedly changed user passwords to hobble access for customers who use the service extensively. Hussain said the company was negligent in leaving data unencrypted in an exposed, accessible database. “We keep on seeing companies of all sizes using dangerous methods to maintain and process private user data,” Hussain told TechCrunch. “In the case of MoviePass, we are questioning the reason why would internal technical teams ever be allowed to see such critical data in plaintext — let alone the fact that the dataset was exposed for public access by anyone,” he said. The security researcher said he found the exposed database using his company-built web mapping tools, which peeks into non-password protected databases that are connected to the internet, and identifies the owner. The information is privately disclosed to companies, often in exchange for a bug bounty. Hussain has a history of finding exposed databases. In recent months he found one of Samsung’s development labs exposed on the internet. He also found an exposed backend database belonging to Blind, an anonymity-driven workplace social network, exposing private user data. Read more: StockX was hacked, exposing millions of customers’ data Slack resets user passwords after 2015 data breach Capital One breach also hit other major companies, say researchers An exposed password let a hacker access internal Comodo files Security lapse exposed weak points on Honda’s internal network Cryptocurrency loan site YouHodler exposed credit cards and transactions

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posted 2 days ago on techcrunch
It’s finally Bag Week again! the most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs. This year, like last year, I decided to focus on a specific niche in the bag community: waxed canvas. Last year I reviewed a handful of bags from Ona, Filson, and other purveyors of fine waxed goods. But there are many more to choose from, so I’ve collected a second handful and used them all for long enough to get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Waxed canvas is a wonderful material. The natural fibers infused with wax provide water resistance, structure, protection, and a great look that only gets better with time as you use it. It’s my favorite material and it should be yours too. Only trouble is it can be expensive. But keep in mind that these bags are the kind that you take with you for a decade or two. For this post I focused on laptop bags, but later in the festivities I’ll have a couple more waxed bags more in the “messenger” style, so keep your eyes peeled. Waterfield Bolt – $269 Pros: Solid medium-weight material and construction Good padding and leather protective layer Surprising amount of space and pockets Cons: Somehow lacks panache Leather thongs instead of metal zipper pulls not for everyone Store link Of all the bags I’ve looked at for this roundup, this one is perhaps the most straightforward, in that it isn’t convertible, super-heavy, super-light, blue, or anything like that. It’s just a solid all-purpose laptop bag made of waxed canvas and leather, and as such makes for a sort of baseline with which to compare everything else. [gallery ids="1839091,1839097,1839088,1839093,1839096,1839095,1839094,1839092,1839090,1839087"] The Bolt’s canvas isn’t as thick as that on other Waterfield bags, since it’s lined and padded on the inside. It still has a nice finish, though, and the leather base and trim are similarly high-quality. The strap is, like the other bags from the company, nylon, where I would prefer canvas, but the grippy leather shoulder pad included is among the most practical and comfortable I’ve used. Where the Bolt excels is not in sheer space, since it’s rather a compact bag (you can choose a larger size if you prefer), but in feeling that space is used well. There are snap pockets in the front and a larger zip one as well for quick access, all protected by a small flap but still easy to get at. On the back is a flap pocket and luggage strap so it can sit safely atop your roller bag. And opening up the main compartment through its weather-proof zipper, the bag accordions open pleasantly to reveal laptop, tablet, notebook, and other slots all easily accessible. I even like the color in there! I only wish it inspired a little more love. It’s not a bad-looking bag by any means, but it feels very pedestrian — few stylistic choices seem to have been made. It’s practical but not individual. To some that won’t matter — this is a solid bag. But it lacks a certain je ne sais quois that the company has to spare in its other bags. Waterfield Outback Solo – $159 Pros: Great material and construction Compact but not microscopic Cons: Awkward to carry without strap Not a lot of room in there (by design, but still) Store link Sometimes you’re just going out with a tablet or laptop and book, and don’t feel like taking a whole messenger style bag or briefcase. This little guy is sort of halfway between a laptop sleeve and a bag, and if you don’t mind its purselike nature it’s a perfect companion for those more minimal trips. The laptop compartment is snug and well-padded. The outside has a slip pocket with some nooks for pens and the like, big enough to fit a 8.5×11″ notebook or not-too-thick book. Just don’t try putting groceries or anything in there. [gallery ids="1839103,1839102,1839101,1839100,1839099,1839098"] Closure is a magnetic snap that feels secure enough but I’d just as soon have something a little more physical. I’d like to mention that the closure strap looks a little sloppy in the photos above, but it’s really not like that in general use and will wear in nicely. And although it feels great to carry this light little guy with the shoulder strap (which stows away decently well), carrying it like a sleeve or clutch isn’t so hot — a small handle or strap would make this much better. I’d recommend this to anyone who has a larger bag for trips but doesn’t want to pack and unpack it every time they want to step out to the coffee shop. This would work well as a sub-bag or laptop sleeve if you have lots of room in the big one. Joshu+Vela Zip Briefcase – $198 Pros: Excellent lighter material that will age well Straightforward style and solid straps Great giant brass zippers Cons: Which side’s the front? Unstructured interior can make stowage and retrieval annoying Store link Coming from a shop more known for totes and lightweight, fashionable gear for everyday urban living, this one is heavy duty for them but light compared with some others in this roundup. Its style is subtle and straightforward, but high quality. The material is a lighter weight and color canvas with a crispy feel that will very quickly show patterns of use as, for example, one front pocket is habitually used for a book or keys. Empty it is possibly the lightest waxed bag I’ve used, which of course makes it good for anyone trying to stay minimal. The simple leather straps are sturdy and comfortable, though their springy, upright nature does mean they occasionally interfere with access. [gallery ids="1839045,1839054,1839046,1839053,1839052,1839051,1839050,1839044,1839049,1839048,1839047"] I love the huge brass zipper and pulls, though I could do without the leather bits (you can remove them). I didn’t like the plain natural canvas strap at first but it, like other aspects of the bag, has grown on me. The simplicity of the design is good, but it also leads to some problems. Unless you look closely it can be hard to tell which side is the front — only the zipper flap and small label hint at it. Something to secure or differentiate the front or rear pockets, even as simple as removing the divider in the back, would be welcome. Inside has three divisions, but the billowing, unstructured canvas plus the limited zip-top entrance can make stowage and retrieval a little awkward, more so than a flap-top bag anyway. A tighter compartment for a laptop or tablet would be great in here rather than having it swim in a big undifferentiated section. There’s also no padding, so I’d recommend keeping your device in its own case (this also helps it fill out the space). Manhattan Portage Cortelyou – $365 Pros: Classy messenger/briefcase crossover style Lovely blue color Great handle, closure, and straps Cons: Not particularly waxy or robust Steel and brass? Sacrilege Interior material not for everyone (also has a tacky watermark) Store link Waxed canvas is normally tan or brown, but that’s just tradition. I like the forest green of the Croots bag from last year or the Saddleback one below, but the rich navy blue of this Manhattan Portage Token bag is also excellent. The material is very light, with a fine weave and barely any wax. That means it probably won’t show the characteristic scuffs and patterns that give this type of bag its personality. (You can always wax it yourself.) This bag, with its half-flap and top handle, straddles the line between laptop bag and briefcase. It’s not particularly thick but has lots of room for big documents, laptops, and other long items. Its structure means it’ll stay relatively svelte even when full — this won’t get lumpy. [gallery ids="1839062,1839056,1839058,1839061,1839059,1839063,1839060,1839055,1839057"] The leather straps and trim are a nice chocolate color and complement the blue well. It’s not heavy or stiff, and the shoulder strap in particular is very pliable — though so long I had to knot it to keep the extra out of the way (fortunately it looks cool that way). The snap closure can be a little tricky to get right by feel, but attaches solidly. The handle, which folds flat but pops up when you need it, is genius — probably the best handle of all the bags in this roundup, though not quite as robust as the Saddleback (but what is?). The interior isn’t as to my liking. The red nylon watermarked with a branded pattern seems sort of gauche compared to the refined outside, and at the same time it feels like this choice of material should have allowed for more small pockets. It should help keep things dry, though, which is good considering the thinness of the waxed canvas layer. Manhattan Portage Saratoga Pros: Convertible style makes it a good companion for conventions, business trips, etc Plenty of handles and exterior pockets Cons: Not the best of both worlds (but not the worst either) Straps make it feel bulky and lumpy if not stowed carefully When I’m at CES or some other big show where I do a lot of walking but need to carry my basic loadout everywhere, I often wish I could transform my laptop bag into a backpack or vice versa. The Saratoga accomplishes this, and while it ends up compromising both forms as a result, it also fundamentally scratches an important itch. The material is a soft-feeling canvas that doesn’t feel very rugged but is showing a nice wear pattern already. The weather-sealed zippers are good news for anyone who wants to take this out in the rain, but there are just too many of them. Six on the exterior, five visible on the front side! This thing jingles like a festive little elf. [gallery ids="1839068,1839067,1839066,1839065,1839069"] The back of the bag is a large pocket in which the pack straps sit, providing extra padding while they’re in there.  You pull them out and clip them onto some unobtrusive little D-rings, and boom, it’s a backpack. Doing the reverse is a little harder, as you need to make sure the straps don’t bunch up in their pouch. I would have much preferred a more elegant pocket solution, not least because some of the pockets don’t make much sense while in one or the other configuration. And the leather bottom, while great in briefcase mode, makes it seem a little lopsided in backpack mode. Obviously these are drawbacks inherent to the switchable design, which brings its own benefits, but they’re worth considering. I might have liked a single big pocket on the front that can be opened from the side or top, and sub-pockets within. The interior, while it’s the same watermarked red nylon as the one above, is populated with tons of little pockets and useful stashes that helpfully all close independently, meaning there’s no need to re-pack when you’re going from one mode to the other. (I can’t seem to find this for sale any more – but keep your eyes open if you like it.) Manhattan Portage Hewes – $265 Pros: Pockets! So many pockets!! Cons: Maybe too many pockets Store link I’ll just say right off the bat that this one isn’t for me — I prefer a plainer exterior, and this thing does not have that. On the other hand, for the organized gadget fiend, this might be a fantastic match. [gallery ids="1839072,1839075,1839074,1839073,1839070,1839071,1839076"] The front side is just pocket after pocket. There are two big enough for a small phone, another good for a notebook, pens, or a power adapter, an a third with a removable divider that could hold all manner of things small and large. Nothing too bulky will fit in them, but any number of audio recorders, lens filters, earbuds, and so on will go in there. Then there are two totally separate full-size compartments, one with more organizing space inside and both with plenty of padding. The simple strap is easy to release and stashes inside nicely. Saddleback Leather Co Canvas Messenger – $439 Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch Pros: Built like a waxed tank Seriously, this thing is a beast Spacious and handsome Cons: Also heavy as a tank Very basic pockets and interior Price reflects its “for life” nature Store link This bag came with a label on it sporting the company’s motto: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” And I’m inclined to believe it. This is definitely by far the heaviest-duty waxed canvas bag I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, which may or may not make it to your taste. The olive-colored canvas is very thick and stiff, and waxed all the way through, not just in a layer on the outside. The stitching is industrial-grade and probably uses half a mile of thread. Quarter-inch-thick leather plates stiff as a board protect the back and bottom of the bag, and another serves to connect with the handle. The strap is a kind of folded-over canvas that feels even tougher than the leather. On top is a unique and practical thick leather handle that folds flat if necessary but feels very robust. [gallery ids="1839078,1839081,1839083,1839082,1839084,1839086,1839085,1839080,1839079,1839077"] The muscular materials and construction, however, preclude the inclusion of fine details like small pockets and pen sheaths. Instead there are two major exterior pockets that simply fold over themselves to close up, being held shut by the flap; there’s also room between them and the main compartment. Smaller side pockets under the massy strap hardware are good spots for flashlights but pens may disappear to the bottom. This thing is also heavy as hell. Empty, it weighs as much as another bag with a light load. For some that weight will be reassuring but for others it’s just too much. Inside the main compartment is plenty of room but little organization; there’s a single flap that will hold a laptop in place (my 13-inch MacBook Pro fits perfectly), and beyond that it’s just a big empty space. This is the only briefcase-style bag that rivals Filson’s (in my last roundup) for overnight capability. This one is definitely going to get your stuff waxy for the first few trips, though. That’s all for today, but keep an eye out for more waxed canvas bags later in Bag Week as well!

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posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
Hoping to keep viewers engaged with its content, Netflix today announced the launch of a new section called “Latest” in its TV app, designed to highlight the streaming service’s recent and upcoming releases. The addition isn’t just another row or two within the main Netflix homepage. Instead, the “Latest” section gets its own dedicated area in the Netflix TV app, which is accessible from the left-hand sidebar navigation. Here, it’s found beneath the “Home” button and above the links to the dedicated “Movies” and “TV Shows” pages. The section will be personalized to the end user, based on their viewing history, the company says. At the top of “Latest” is a row that showcases new content that arrived this week, which is then followed by two rows showing content that’s due to arrive this week and the next. Users can also click on these future releases and set alerts to remind them when the TV show or movie they’re interested in watching has arrived. Netflix says the feature is now globally available on its TV app, which means you’ll only find it on streaming devices like the Fire TV, Apple TV or Roku, for instance, or on other smart TV or game console platforms. However, the company tells TechCrunch it already has a similar feature for Android users and is currently testing the “Latest” section on iOS. The company first spoke to Variety about the addition, adding that the personalized suggestions update several times per day. Netflix director of product innovation Cameron Johnson told the outlet the experience was similar, in a way, to movie trailers, as it’s also designed to get people interested in upcoming releases. However, the launch comes at a time when people will soon be considering the value they receive from their Netflix subscription. The company recently posted a disappointing quarter where it announced it lost U.S. subscribers for the first time since 2011 and broadly missed estimates of 5 million subscriber additions, by adding just 2.7 million new subscribers globally. The streamer blamed its light content slate for the declines. While it did claim a couple of bright spots in Q2, like the dark comedy Dead to Me and the limited series When They See Us, a good bit of Netflix’s original content is becoming formulaic and copycat-ish. It’s now doing its own version of Project Runway, and has a slate of shows that are obviously inspired by (if not precisely copied from) popular reality TV hits like Million Dollar Listing, Say Yes to the Dress, Cupcake Wars, Top Chef, The Bachelor, Real Housewives, and others. It manages to snag beloved stars, but then puts them into mediocre fare. It underwhelms with its by-the-numbers original films. That said, Netflix deserves credit for how far it has come since its early days as a mail-order movie service. Today, its multi-billion dollar investments in original content has led to the streamer being best known for its own breakout hits, like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards, for example. But as its sheds its catalog content in favor of shifting its audience to in-house productions, its image has changed as well. It’s no longer thought of a one-stop-shop for anything you want to watch combined with a rich slate of quality originals. And now it’s poised to lose some of its most popular licensed content — Friends and The Office — as the traditional media license holders move into the streaming market. Variety had reported in July that content from NBCU, Disney/Fox and Warner Bros. accounts for 60%-65% of Netflix’s viewing hours. Now Netflix is facing competition from Disney+, which will undercut Netflix’s pricing at $6.99 per month and be offered in a $12.99 per month bundle that also includes Hulu and ESPN+. That’s the same price as Netflix’s standard U.S. plan. More than ever, Netflix needs to keep its viewers locked in, and one of the best ways to do this is to remind them there are new movies and shows they will want to watch. Image credit: Netflix

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An independent investigator has issued a preliminary report on its work determining the existence and/or extent of bias against conservatives on Facebook . It’s refreshingly light reading — the complaints are less “Facebook is a den of liberals” and more “we need more transparency on ad policies.” The report was undertaken in May of last year, when Facebook retained Covington and Burling, led by former Republican Senator Jon Kyl, to look into the allegations loudly being made at the time that there was some kind of anti-conservative bias on the social network. Reports say White House has drafted an order putting the FCC in charge of monitoring social media “We know we need to take these concerns seriously,” wrote VP of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg. Of course, Facebook says it takes everything seriously, so it’s hard to be sure sometimes. Covington and Burling’s approach was to interview more than a hundred individuals and organizations that fall under the broad umbrella of “conservative” about their concerns. These would be sorted, summarized, and presented to Facebook leadership. By far the biggest concern wasn’t anything like “they’re censoring us” or “they’re pushing an agenda.” These views, which are often over-amplified, don’t seem to reflect what everyday folks and businesses are having trouble with on the platform. Instead, the largest concern is transparency. The people interviewed were mainly concerned that the policies behind content moderation, ad approval, fact-checking, and so on were inadequately explained. In the absence of good explanations, these people understandably supplied their own, usually along the lines that they were being targeted inordinately in comparison with those left of them politically. It’s worth noting here that no evidence that this was or wasn’t the case was sought or presented. The surveys were about concerns people had, and did not extend to anything like “provide the logs where you can see this happened,” or anything like that. What was gathered was strictly anecdotal. In a way this feels irresponsible, in that anyone could voice their concern about a problem that may very well not exist, or that may not be universally agreed is a problem. For instance some groups complained that their anti-abortion ads featuring premature babies were being removed. Maybe Facebook feels that images of bloody, screaming children will not increase time on site. Unfortunately hate speech is real and here to stay. But it is valid to take issue with the subjectivity of how it may be determined as such. But at the same time, the intent was not to quantify and solve bias, necessarily, but to understand how people perceived bias in day-to-day use of the site in the first place. As you may have perceived, the concerns of conservatives in fact mirror the concerns of liberals: that Facebook is applying unknown and unknowable processes to the selection and display of content on the platform, and that our ability to question or challenge these processes is limited. These are nonpartisan issues. Facebook urged to give users greater control over what they see Facebook’s response since the report was commissioned (in other words, over the last year and a half) has been to generally provide more information whenever it has stepped in to touch a post, ad, or other user data. It now tells people why certain posts are being shown, it has better documented news feed ranking (though not too well, lest someone take advantage), and it has created a better system for making content removal decisions, as well as a better appeal process. So it says, anyway, but we can hardly take the company at its word that it has increased diversity, improved tools, and so forth. The investigation by Covington and Burling continues and these are but the preliminary results. Clegg writes that “This is the first stage of an ongoing process and Senator Kyl and his team will report again in a few months’ time.” You can read the full interim report below: Facebook – Covington Interim Report 1 by TechCrunch on Scribd

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NASA has confirmed a mission to Europa, one of the Moons of Jupiter, will indeed happen. The mission was initially explored starting in 2017, with the space agency looking for reports on how it might proceed, and now NASA has said it will go ahead and move to the key stop of finalizing mission design, which will then lead to actually building the spacecraft that will make the trip, and the science payload it’ll carry on board. The goal of the mission, which is codenamed ‘Europa Clipper,’ is to find out whether the icy natural satellite orbiting Jupiter could sustain life, and also explore whether it might be colonizable or habitable. Plus, we’ll definitely learn a lot more about Europa with an up-close-and-personal exploration. Europa is the one of 79 known moons orbiting the gas giant, and is the six-largest in the entire solar system. It’s a bit smaller than our own, and has a crust that is composed primarily of water ice. Some scientists believe that it could have a water ocean just underneath that ice curst, however, and that if said ocean exists, it might be among the likelier places in our solar system to find life. NASA’s goal for this mission is to launch it as early as 2023, though it’ll need its SLS launch system to be ready to make that happen. The extended timeline allows for a launch-ready state by 2025, which seems a bit more realistic given the current state of affairs.

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Ten years ago, a hardware startup launched a fitness device on stage at TechCrunch 50. The $99 gadget combined a pedometer with a diet monitoring system, designed to help wearers meet their fitness goals. Of course, a lot has changed for Fitbit in the intervening decade. The company has since become synonymous with fitness trackers in the U.S. In 2015, it filed for a $358 million IPO. After several years of defining the wearables category, things have gotten a bit rockier, however, as the company contends with increased competition from the premium Apple Watch and low cost trackers from companies like Xiaomi. Through acquisitions like Pebble and Vector, the company has improved its fortunes by building its own smartwatch line. Fitbit has also begun to transition into the healthcare industry through partnerships wit companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield. Fitbit’s cofounders James Park and Eric Friedman will join us on stage to discuss their process for growing a hardware startup and navigating often fickle industry trends. Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here. Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email [email protected] to get your 20% off discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code. ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-661cf9b1b8f85f5aae09b8946cafadba') if ( iframe ) { iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-661cf9b1b8f85f5aae09b8946cafadba' }, "https:\/\/tcprotectedembed.com" ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'tcprotectedembed.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

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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 Card launches today for all US customers, adds 3% cash back for Uber and Uber Eats Customers can apply for Apple Card through the Wallet app on their iPhones, then start using it via Apple Pay before the physical card arrives in the mail. Why use the card? One benefit is the ability to track your purchases in an app. Plus, there’s cash back — 2% for Apple Pay purchases, 1% for non-Apple Pay purchases and 3% for purchases on Uber and Uber Eats. 2. Twitter blocks state-controlled media outlets from advertising on its social network The new policy was announced just hours after the company identified hundreds of accounts linked to China as part of an effort to “sow political discord” around protests in Hong Kong. 3. All 84 startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1 There are 197 companies (!) in the summer YC batch, and TechCrunch wrote up all 84 of the ones that presented yesterday. Starship Technologies delivery robots go to work for Postmates in Washington D.C. 4. Starship Technologies raises $40M, crosses 100K deliveries and plans to expand to 100 new universities Starship Technologies invented the category of rolling autonomous sidewalk delivery robots. 5. Facebook unveils new tools to control how websites share your data for ad-targeting Just to be clear: Facebook isn’t deleting the data that a third party might have collected about your behavior. Instead, it’s removing the connection between that data and your personal information on the social network. 6. Without evidence, Trump accuses Google of manipulating millions of votes The president’s accusation appears to be based on little more than supposition in an old paper reheated by months-old congressional testimony. 7. Revenue-based investing: A new option for founders who care about control There’s a new wave of investors who use creative deal structures with some of the upside of traditional VC, but some of the downside protection of debt. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Y Combinator, the genesis for many of the companies that have shaped Silicon Valley including Airbnb, PagerDuty and Stripe, has minted another 200 some graduates. Half of those companies made their pitch to investors today during Day 1 of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Day event and we’re here to tell you which startups are on the fast-track to the unicorn club. Eighty-four startups presented (read the full run-through of every company plus some early analysis here) and after chatting with investors, batch founders and of course, debating amongst ourselves, we’ve nailed down the 11 most promising startups to present during Day 1. We’ll be back Tuesday with our second round of top picks.

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Apple continues to make use of Shazam, the music recognition app it acquired for $400 million in 2018. Earlier this month, Apple publicly launched its Music for Artists dashboard which included insights powered by Shazam data. Today, Apple announced that Shazam data will also now power a new Apple Music chart: the Shazam Discovery Top 50. The chart will feature a weekly global ranking of the top 50 artists on the move and their trending track, based on Shazam data. The Shazam app today has been downloaded a billion times and sees 20 million “Shazams” per day — that’s the number of times a user pushes the button to identify a song that’s playing. These Shazams will now be used to identify tracks that are poised for a breakout. This is a different sort of metric than a traditional music chart would use, as it’s not a reference to how many downloads, purchases or streams a song has — instead, it lends itself more to insights about up-and-coming artists. That said, the chart may include a variety of songs at different points in their lifecycle. The majority may be emerging artists, but some songs may be experiencing a burst of momentum for other reasons. To rank on the chart, the song could be demonstrating a pattern of moving quickly through Shazam’s charts, rapid growth, steady growth, or it may be growing geographically, the company says. Of all of the above. The new Apple Music chart will feature songs that are trending in the U.S. and over 10 other countries. This isn’t Shazam’s first foray into music charts by any means. Today, you’ll find Shazam online offers a Top 200 chart for the U.S., various other countries, and as a global top chart, in addition to a 10-song “Discovery” chart for the U.S. and a smaller subset of other markets. The Discovery Top 50 for Apple Music doesn’t currently match up with the online version of the Discovery chart, which may be related to the timing of its updates. The launch of the new chart is another confirmation as to why Apple wanted to bring Shazam in-house — not for its nifty parlor trick of music recognition, but rather for the data it acquires on trending music. This gives Apple another means of competing with Spotify, whose own Artist dashboard launched exited beta back in 2017, giving it a big head start on serving artists and musicians with insights. The new Shazam chart is being highlighted today in the Browse tab of the Apple Music app on iOS and Mac, and elsewhere in the app.  

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IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open sourcing several other important bits. Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization’s evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation . “We are taking the OpenPower Foundation, and we are putting it as an entity or project underneath The Linux Foundation with the mindset that we are now bringing more of an open governance approach and open governance principles to the foundation,” King told TechCrunch. But IBM didn’t stop there. It also announced that it was open sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are “the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power,” the company explained. King sees open sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. “The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we’re licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights,” he explained. The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation. This matters to open source community members because it provides a layer of transparency that might otherwise be lacking. What that means in practice is that any changes will be subject to a majority vote, so long as the changes meet compatibility requirements, King said. Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, says that making all of this part of the Linux Foundation open source community could drive more innovation. “Instead of a very, very long cycle of building an application and working separately with hardware and chip designers, because all of this is open, you’re able to quickly build your application, prototype it with hardware folks, and then work with a service provider or a company like IBM to take it to market. So there’s not tons of layers in between the actual innovation and value captured by industry in that cycle,” Zemlin explained. In addition, IBM made several other announcements around open sourcing other Power Chip technologies designed to help developers and engineers customize and control their implementations of Power chip technology. “IBM will also contribute multiple other technologies including a softcore implementation of the Power ISA, as well as reference designs for the architecture-agnostic Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and the Open Memory Interface (OMI). The OpenCAPI and OMI technologies help maximize memory bandwidth between processors and attached devices, critical to overcoming performance bottlenecks for emerging workloads like AI,” the company said in a statement. The softcore implementation of the Power ISA, in particular, should give developers more control and even enable them to build their own instruction sets, Hugh Blemings, executive director of the OpenPower Foundation explained. “They can now actually try crafting their own instruction sets, and try out new ways of the accelerated data processes and so forth at a lower level than previously possible,” he said. The company is announcing all of this today at the The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit and OpenPower Summit in San Diego. IBM’s new Power9 chip was built for AI and machine learning

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Sunil Rajaraman Contributor Sunil Rajaraman is the co-founder of Scripted.com More posts by this contributor ‘This is Your Life in Silicon Valley’: Former Pinterest president, Moment CEO Tim Kendall on smartphone addiction ‘This is Your Life in Silicon Valley’: Nomiku Founder CEO Lisa Fetterman on why Silicon Valley doesn’t care about female founders Welcome to this week’s transcribed edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley. We’re running an experiment for Extra Crunch members that puts This is Your Life in Silicon Valley in words – so you can read from wherever you are. This is your Life in Silicon Valley was originally started by Sunil Rajaraman and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff in 2018. Rajaraman is a serial entrepreneur and writer (Co-Founded Scripted.com, and is currently an EIR at Foundation Capital), Kaykas-Wolff is the current CMO at Mozilla and ran marketing at BitTorrent. Rajaraman and Kaykas-Wolff started the podcast after a series of blog posts that Sunil wrote for The Bold Italic went viral. The goal of the podcast is to cover issues at the intersection of technology and culture – sharing a different perspective of life in the Bay Area. Their guests include entrepreneurs like Sam Lessin, journalists like Kara Swisher and Mike Isaac, politicians like Mayor Libby Schaaf and local business owners like David White of Flour + Water. This week’s edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley features Amanda Bradford – Founder/CEO of The League. Amanda talks about modern dating, its limitations, its flaws, why ‘The League’ will win. Amanda provides her candid perspective on other dating startups in a can’t-miss portion of the podcast. Amanda talks about her days at Salesforce and how it influenced her decision to build a dating tech product that focused on data, and funnels. Amanda walks through her own process of finding her current boyfriend on ‘The League’ and how it came down to meeting more people. And that the flaw with most online dating is that people do not meet enough people due to filter bubbles, and lack of open criteria. Amanda goes in on all of the popular dating sites, including Bumble and others, providing her take on what’s wrong with them. She even dishes on Raya and Tinder – sharing what she believes are how they should be perceived by prospective daters. The fast-response portion of this podcast where we ask Amanda about the various dating sites really raised some eyebrows and got some attention. We ask Amanda about the incentives of online dating sites, and how in a way they are created to keep members online as long as possible. Amanda provides her perspective on how she addresses this inherent conflict at The League, and how many marriages have been shared among League members to date. We ask Amanda about AR/VR dating and what the future will look like. Will people actually meet in person in the future? Will it be more like online worlds where we wear headsets and don’t actually interact face to face anymore? The answers may surprise you. We learn how this influences The League’s product roadmap. The podcast eventually goes into dating stories from audience members – including some pretty wild online dating stories from people who are not as they seem. We picked two audience members at random to talk about their entertaining online dating stories and where they led. The second story really raised eyebrows and got into the notion that people go at great lengths to hide their real identities. Ultimately, we get at the heart of what online dating is, and what the future holds for it.   If you care about the future of relationships, online dating, data, and what it all means this episode is for you. For access to the full transcription, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.  Sunil Rajaraman: I just want to check, are we recording? Because that’s the most important question. We’re recording, so this is actually a podcast and not just three people talking randomly into microphones. I’m Sunil Rajaraman, I’m co-host of this podcast, This is Your Life in Silicon Valley, and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff is my co-host, we’ve been doing this for about a year now, we’ve done 30 shows, and we’re pleased today to welcome a very special guest, Jascha. Jascha Kaykas-Wolff: Amanda. Amanda Bradford: Hello everyone. Amanda Bradford. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images) Kaykas-Wolff: We’re just going to stare at you and make it uncomfortable. Bradford: Like Madonna. Kaykas-Wolff: Yeah, so the kind of backstory and what’s important for everybody that’s in the audience to know is that this podcast is not a pitch for a product, it’s not about a company, it’s about the Bay Area. And the Bay Area is kind of special, but it’s also a little bit fucked up. I think we all kind of understand that, being here. So what we want to do in the podcast is talk to people who have a very special, unique relationship with the Bay Area, no matter creators that are company builders, that are awesome entrepreneurs, that are just really cool and interesting people, and today we are really, really lucky to have an absolutely amazing entrepreneur, and also pretty heavy hitter in the technology scene. In a very specific and very special category of technology that Sunil really, really likes. The world of dating. Rajaraman: Yeah, so it’s funny, the backstory to this is, Jascha have both been married, what, long time- Kaykas-Wolff: Long time. Rajaraman: And we have this weird fascination with online dating because we see a lot of people going through it, and it’s a baffling world, and so I want to demystify it a bit with Amanda Bradford today, the founder CEO of The League. Bradford: You guys are like all of the married people looking at the single people in the petri dishes. Rajaraman: So, I’ve done the thing where we went through it with the single friends who have the app, swiping through on their behalf, so it’s sort of like a weird thing. Bradford: I know, we’re like a different species, aren’t we?

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For a few years now, GitHub has been running a program that gives students around the world free access to GitHub Pro and various free and discounted services from other partners as part of its GitHub Education program. In total, over 1.5 million students have now signed up for the program, with about 750,000 being currently active, and with the new school year about to start, the company today announced that it is doubling the number of partners in the Student Developer Pack program by adding an additional 21 companies to the list. The new partners cover a wide range of developer tools and services. They range from web design tools like Bootstrap Studio, which actually quietly joined the program over the summer, to the domain registrar .TECH, SSH client Terminus, ConfigCat for feature flag and configuration management, and Icons8 for making applications look better. “Our philosophy what it comes to the pack is that it is about preparing students for all the premier tools they are going to encounter in the workplace,” said Scott Sanicki, the Senior Program Manager for the GitHub Student Developer Pack. That means that there can be partners with competing products, too, but as Sanicki noted, GitHub hasn’t seen any pushback from existing partners so far, including Microsoft. Indeed, over the summer, GitHub’s new owner, Microsoft also added its Azure cloud computing services to the Student Pack. That’s no surprise, but it’s worth noting that AWS, DigitalOcean and Heroku were already part of the pack and offered students free and discounted cloud computing resources. They remain in the program and as Sanicki told me, it’s part of the company’s promise to remain open, even after having been acquired by Microsoft. “[GitHub CEO Nat Friedman] was asked directly at the time of the acquisition whether we were going to sunset the student developer pack and he committed that we were continuing the pack and, in fact, make it stronger and that’s what we’ve we’ve attempted to continue to do,” Sanicki said. “We’ve seen support from Microsoft, from leadership, to give us the resources that we need to not only dream bigger with what we want to do with the pack and GitHub Education but to actually now attempt to accomplish it.” Sanicki expects that the team will continue to add new partners over the course of the next few months. To sign up and see if you qualify for the program, head over here. Below, you can find a list of all the new partners and what they are offering. .TECH domains — A powerful domain extension to convey that you belong to the technology industry. One .TECH domain free for 1 year: https://get.tech/github-student-developer-pack Better Code Hub — Better Code Hub provides a definition of done for code quality and actionable refactoring feedback for every push and pull request. A free upgrade to an Individual license to analyse your personal private repos: https://bettercodehub.com/github-student-developer-pack Bootstrap Studio — Bootstrap Studio is a powerful desktop app for creating responsive websites using the Bootstrap framework. A free license for Bootstrap Studio while you are a student: https://bootstrapstudio.io/student-pack ConfigCat — Feature flag service with unlimited team size, awesome SDK documentation and super easy integration with your application. 1000 feature flags, ∞ users for free: https://configcat.com/student Cryptolens — License and sell your software securely. 10 licenses and any number of end-users for free for students: https://app.cryptolens.io/user/githubstudent Frontend Masters — Advance your skills with in-depth JavaScript, Node.js & front-end engineering courses. Free 6-months access to all courses and workshops: https://frontendmasters.com/welcome/github-student-developers/ Gitpod — An online IDE for GitHub that provides a complete dev environment with a single click Free personal plan subscription for six months for students: https://www.gitpod.io/github-student-developer-pack/ Icons8 — Design resources: icons, UI illustrations, photos and software to class up your projects. 3-month All Access subscription with icons, photos, illustrations, and music: https://icons8.com/github-students LogDNA — Log management platform that offers aggregation, monitoring, and analysis of server and application logs at any volume, from any source. $100 of credit every month for 1 year: www.logdna.com/github-students Name.com — Domain names, web hosting, and websites. Unicorns and rainbows come standard with our customer support. One free domain name and free Advanced Security (SSL, privacy protection, and more): https://www.name.com/partner/github-students Netwise — Turnkey data centre services for the hosting of critical IT infrastructure systems. Free single unit server colocation package free for 12 months: https://www.netwise.co.uk/students/ Next.tech — Learn tech skills and build software directly from your browser with real, online computing environments. 10,000 minutes of compute time for students: https://next.tech/github-students Phrase — A cloud-based translation management system built to accelerate the development of multilingual digital products. Phrase Lite Plan free for up to 12 months for students: https://www.phraseapp.com/lp/github-student-package/ PomoDone — With PomoDone, hack and track your time and boost your productivity by applying Pomodoro technique to your workflow — eliminate distraction, sharpen focus and prevent burnout. PomoDone Lite plan free for 2-years: https://pomodoneapp.com/pomodoro-app-for-students.html PushBots — The easiest way to engage your mobile & web app users via push notifications. Free Premium account for 6 months: https://pushbots.com/for/education SQL Smash — Productivity plugin for SQL Server Management Studio for writing maintainable SQL scripts and faster navigation. Free standard license for students: https://student.sqlsmash.com SymfonyCasts — Master Symfony and PHP with video tutorials and code challenges. Free 3-month subscription for students ($75 value): https://symfonycasts.com/github-student Termius —SSH client that works on desktop and mobile. Termius securely syncs data across all your devices. Free access to the Premium plan (normally $99/year) while you’re a student: https://termius.com/education Transloadit — A versatile uploading & encoding API to automate any file conversion. The Startup plan for free, including 10GB of encoding credit (valued at $49/month): https://transloadit.com/github-students/ Working Copy — Powerful Git client for iPhone & iPad. All Pro features for free while you are a student: https://workingcopy.app/education/

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Microsoft today launched the first beta builds of its new, Chromium-based Edge browser for Windows and Mac. The new beta channel, which will see a new update roughly every six weeks, will join the existing dev and canary channels, which will continue to see daily and weekly updates, respectively. Over the course of the last few months of preview releases in the existing channels, Microsoft gathered about 140,000 pieces of feedback. With this — and a sufficient amount of telemetry it also received from early adopters — the company now feels that it knows enough about how well Edge works on a wide range of machines and that it is stable enough for enthusiasts, web developers and business users to give it a try before its wider release. “Beta represents the most stable preview channel, as features are added to Beta only after they have cleared quality testing in first the Canary channel and then the Dev channel,” Microsoft explains in today’s announcement. “Major version updates can be expected roughly every six weeks, alongside periodic minor updates for bug fixes and security.” At this point, Microsoft has also put all of the infrastructure in place to update the browser and tested it thoroughly through the early preview phase. If need be, that means the team can release an unscheduled beta when it discovers a bug and know that its update systems will work just fine. Just like Chrome, Firefox and most other browsers, Microsoft will continue to test new features in the Canary and Developer builds before enabling them in the beta builds. The current Canary build, for example, features a very useful global media control button that lets you control YouTube, Spotify and other video and music services without having to switch tabs. Features like this will come to the beta channel in the coming months. Also available in the beta, but currently behind a flag, are Microsoft’s tracking prevention features. Soon, the beta build will also get support for collections, Microsoft’s modern take on bookmarks, though as far as I can tell, that feature isn’t currently enabled in the canary and developer releases yet either. Other new features that’ll soon make their way to the beta are Internet Explorer mode for those companies that still use legacy applications that rely on Microsoft’s old, pre-Edge browser With this release, Microsoft is also launching a security bounty program for Edge. Security researchers who find and disclose any high-impact vulnerabilities in the Beta and Dev channel releases are eligible for rewards of up to $15,000. As a Microsoft spokesperson stressed in an interview ahead of today’s release, the team is also quite happy about the fact that t has now contributed more than 1,000 commits to the Chromium project. That project is mostly led by Google engineers, but it’s good to see that Microsoft’s plans for ramping up its contributions are paying off. By moving to Chromium, Microsoft gave up developing its own engine. At the time, the company argued that continuing to invest in an engine that only had a few users wasn’t exactly useful in keeping the overall web ecosystem healthy either and that it could have more impact by working on Chromium instead. That work, it seems, is starting to pay off now. As the team told me, a lot of the work so far has gone into bringing Edge to beta status and making sure that all of the core features are working. That means you won’t see a lot of features in the browser that really set Edge apart from the competition (Collections are a good example here). As those core features become ever more stable, though, we’ll see the team focus more on tools and features that will differentiate Edge from the likes of Chrome. Personally, I switched to the new Edge shortly after the first Developer and Canary releases and have been on the daily update channel ever since. Despite its preview status, the browser has been very stable on both Windows 10 and the Mac. Some versions were better than others, but I didn’t experience and major blocking bugs in the process and Edge has proven to be a fast and stable browser. That bodes well for the beta program.

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Google Go, a lightweight version of Google’s search app, is today becoming available to all Android users worldwide. First launched in 2017 after months of beta testing, the app had been designed primarily for use in emerging markets where people are often accessing the internet for the first time on unstable connections by way of low-end Android devices. Like many of the “Lite” versions of apps built for emerging markets, Google Go takes up less space on phones — now at just over 7MB — and it includes offline features to aid those with slow and intermittent internet connections. The app’s search results are optimized to save up to 40% data, Google also claims. Beyond web search, Google Go includes other discovery features, as well — like the ability to tap through trending topics, voice search, image and GIF search, an easy way to switch between languages, and the ability to have web pages read aloud, powered by A.I. At Google’s I/O developer conference this spring, the company announced it was also bringing Lens to Google Go. Lens allows users to point their smartphone camera at real-world objects in order to bring up relevant information. In Google Go, the Lens feature will help users who struggle to read. When the camera is pointed at text — like a bus schedule, sign or bank form, for example — Lens can read the text out loud, highlighting the words as they’re spoken. Users can also tap on a particular word to learn its definition or have the text translated. While Lens was only a 100KB addition, according to Google, the updates to the Go app since launch have increased its size. Initially, it was a 5MB app and now it’s a little more than 7MB. Previously, Google Go was only available in a few countries on Android Go edition devices. According to data from Sensor Tower, it has been installed approximately 17.5 million times globally, with the largest percentage of users in India (48%). Its next largest markets are Indonesia (16%), Brazil (14%), Nigeria (6%), and South Africa (4%), Sensor Tower says. In total, it has been available to 29 countries on Android Go edition devices, including also: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Google says the app now has “millions” of users. Today, Google says it will be available to all users worldwide on the Play Store. Google says it decided to launch the app globally, including in markets where bandwidth is not a concern, because it understands that everyone at times can struggle with problems like limited phone storage or spotty connections. Plus, it’s a lightweight app for reading and translating text. At Google I/O, the company had noted there are over 800 million adults worldwide who struggle to read — and, of course, not all are located in emerging markets. Google Go is one of many lightweight apps Google has built for emerging markets, along with YouTube Go, Files Go, Gmail Go, Google Maps Go, Gallery Go, and Google Assistant Go, for example. The Google Go app will be available on the Play Store to global users running Android Lollipop or higher.

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We have a special episode ready for you today. As many of you know, it’s that time of year when hundreds of nascent startups make their big 2-minute pitch to the top venture capitalists of “Silicon Valley” (San Francisco) at Y Combinator’s Demo Day. We (Kate and Alex) thought we’d bring in a YC expert, YC chief executive officer Michael Seibel, to chat about the batch, changes in the last year, rising deal prices, SAFEs vs. convertible notes and the future of technology in SF. “This place is where tech is happening and they want to be here,” Seibel told us. “Like I’m a struggling actor in Iowa and I want to get to Hollywood. This is kind of the promised land for a lot of people around the world.” We had a lot of questions for Michael. For one, deal sizes and valuations at the seed stage are growing like crazy and YC is a big cause of that. To our surprise, Michael isn’t actually a big fan of these huge rounds. “We don’t think this is necessarily a positive phenomenon; on the other hand, we like that our founders get less dilution,” he said. If you’re interested in taking a look at each of the companies that made their pitch yesterday, at Day One of Y Combinator’s Demo Day, you can take a look at TechCrunch’s full list. Check back end of day Tuesday for a full list of companies that pitched on Day Two. As a final note, Equity is still not an interview show. This was a fun exception! Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Downcast and all the casts.

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MIT researchers have created a new underwater sensor and communication system that doesn’t require batteries, and barely uses any power at all. This could help set up an underwater ‘internet of things’ according to MIT, which would allow for real-time sea temperature and marine life monitoring, without requiring regular equipment and power swaps to make it work. Without that requirement, it would even be possible to set up networks of underwater sensors in the seas of distant planets. The system devised by MIT researchers use a transmitter that sends out sound waves underwater, which then hit sensors with embedded receivers, transmitting a tiny amount of energy in the process. The sensor then either uses that energy to answer back – or doesn’t, which corresponds to either a 1 or a 0, meaning it can effectively communicate in binary. The only energy required for this to work is the power stored in the sound wave sent by the transmitter. The inspiration for devising this system came from a somewhat unlikely source: Fadel Adib, an assistant professor in the MIT Media Lab and one of the researchers who worked on the project was watching nature doc “Blue Planet” and thought about how much of the Earths oceans are left unstudied, and also about how the solution for that can’t be battery-powered sensors since that could result in a lot of excess pollution. Essentially, the system works but allowing piezoelectric resonators, which have been used in things like microphones for well over 100 years, to either deform in response to a sound wave, or retain their shape and reflect, based on information contained in any kind of sensor you might want to pair with the piezoelectric material. That sends back the binary signal, which can then be collected and interpreted. Next up for the research team is to show that this can work at longer distances, and in concert with other sensors for simultaneous transmission. Eventually, it might even be able to transmit sound and even low-res images, which would be a huge development in terms of establishing remote monitoring stations – especially as we pursue more science and research on worlds not our own.

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We’re just a few weeks away from kicking off our flagship event, Disrupt SF 2019, that takes place on October 2-4. If you’re an investor looking to increase your portfolio, it’s the perfect time to start planning your Disrupt strategy. Never fear, we’re here to help you make the most of your valuable time. But first, a housekeeping item. If you haven’t already done so, buy your pass to Disrupt right here. You’re no doubt familiar with Startup Alley, our exhibition floor where you’ll find more than 1,000 early-stage startups showcasing their products and technology. That’s an investor’s goldmine, is it not? Here’s the good news. We now have our first batch of Startup Alley exhibitors listed on our website. You can peruse the list, do your research in the comfort of your home or office and get a clear idea of who you want to meet at Disrupt. The website list also includes our recently announced TC Top Picks. We vetted hundreds of applications and narrowed the field down to 45 exceptional startups representing the best of these tech categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, SaaS and Social Impact/Education. You don’t want to miss seeing what these startups have to offer. Ready for more good news? It’s CrunchMatch, our free business match-making platform available to Innovator, Founder or Investor passholders. It makes networking so much easier. Once the platform goes live (we’ll email notification), simply create your CrunchMatch profile outlining specific roles, goals and the type of people you want to meet. Founders would list category, stage, location, funding status, etc. Investor profiles might include investment categories, preferred funding stage, geographic preferences and the like. CrunchMatch goes to work and suggests meetings and sends out invitations (which recipients can easily accept or decline). You can also use CrunchMatch to reserve dedicated (a.k.a. quieter) meeting spaces where you can network in comfort. Researching our online list of exhibiting startups in advance and taking advantage of CrunchMatch will save you time and shoe leather. It will also free you up to experience more of what Disrupt SF offers. Like the Startup Battlefield. You know you’re going to want to check out those amazing founders. Use some of your time to take in the world-class speakers. Here’s just one example, but you’ll find plenty more in the Disrupt SF agenda. How to Evaluate Talent and Make Decisions: Ray Dalio knows a thing or two about building successful startups. As founder of the firm, Bridgewater, he helped build it into one of the most successful investment companies ever, managing a whopping $150 billion in assets. He recently wrote a book called Principles, and he’s coming to the TechCrunch Disrupt Extra Crunch stage in October to discuss the book and companion mobile app on how building a strong culture can lead to a flourishing startup. Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4, and now you can start strategizing your Disrupt experience by researching the Startup Alley exhibitors listed on our website. Save time, make money. Now that’s an opportunity. Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt San Francisco 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Half a year after launching its managed PostgreSQL service, upstart hosting and cloud services platform DigitalOcean today announced the launch of its managed MySQL and Redis database offerings, too. Like most of the company’s latest releases, this move exemplifies DigitalOcean’s ambition to move beyond its discount hosting roots and to become a more fully-fledged cloud provider. Besides the database service and its core hosting products and infrastructure, the company now offers object and block storage and a Kubernetes engine, which itself can be used to run virtually any modern piece of cloud infrastructure. It’s unlikely to catch up with the hyperclouds anytime soon, but it’s good to have a competitor in the market. “With the additions of MySQL and Redis, DigitalOcean now supports three of the most requested database offerings, making it easier for developers to build and run applications, rather than spending time on complex management,” said Shiven Ramji, DigitalOcean’s Senior VP of Product. “The developer is not just the DNA of DigitalOcean, but the reason for much of the company’s success. We must continue to build on this success and support developers with the services they need most on their journey towards simple app development.” Pricing for the managed database services remains the same, no matter which engine you choose. The new database services are now available in the company’s New York, Frankfurt and San Francisco data centers. Support for other database engines is also in the works. As the company notes, it selected MySQL and Redis because of popular demand from its developer community and it will do so for other engines as well. MySQL and Redis were the only services on DigitalOcean’s roadmap for 2019, though, so I don’t expect we’ll see any additional releases before the end of the year. DigitalOcean launches its managed database service

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Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be creating a “Clear History” feature that deletes the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook. Today, the company is actually launching feature in select geographies. It’s gotten a new name in the meantime: Off-Facebook Activity. David Baser, the director of product management leading Facebook’s privacy and data use team, told me that the name should make it clear to everyone “exactly what kind of data” is being revealed here. In a demo video, Baser showed me how a user could bring up a list of everyone sending data to Facebook, and then tap on specific app or website to learn what data is being shared. If you decide that you don’t like this data-sharing, you can block it, either on a website and app level, or across-the-board. Facebook has of course been facing greater scrutiny over data-sharing over the past couple years, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This, along with concerns about misinformation spreading on the platform, has led the company to launch a number of new transparency tools around advertising and content. In this case, Facebook isn’t deleting the data that a third party might have collected about your behavior. Instead, it’s removing the connection between that data and your personal information on Facebook (any old data associated with an account is deleted as well). Facebook tries to make ad targeting explanations more useful Baser said that disconnecting your off-Facebook activity will have the immediate effect of logging you out of any website or app where you used your Facebook login. More broadly, he argued that maintaining this connection benefits both consumers and businesses, because it leads to more relevant advertising — if you were looking at a specific type of shoe on a retailer’s website, Facebook could then show you ads for those shoes. Still, Baser said, “We at Facebook want people to know this is happening.” So it’s not hiding these options away deep within a hidden menu, but making them accessible from the main settings page. He also suggested that no other company has tried to create this kind of “comprehensive surface” for letting users control their data, so Facebook to figure out the right approach that wouldn’t overhwhelm or confuse users. For example, he said, “Every single aspect of this product follows the principle of progressive disclosure” — so you get with a high-level overview at first, but can see more information as you move deeper into the tools. Facebook says it worked with privacy experts to develop this feature — and behind the scenes, it had to change the way it stores this data to make it viewable and controllable by users. I asked about whether Facebook might eventually add tools to control certain types of data, like purchase history or location data, but Baser said the company found that “very few people understood the data enough” to want something like that. “I agree with your instinct, but that’s not the feedback we got,” he said, adding that if there’s significant user demand, “Of course, we’d consider it.” The Off-Facebook Activity tool is rolling out initially in Ireland, South Korea and Spain before expanding to additional countries. Facebook announces way to ‘Clear History’ of apps and sites you’ve clicked

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H2O.ai‘s mission is to democratize AI by providing a set of tools that frees companies from relying on teams of data scientists. Today it got a bushel of money to help. The company announced a $72.5 million Series D round led by Goldman Sachs and Ping An Global Voyager Fund. Previous investors Wells Fargo, NVIDIA and Nexus Venture Partners also participated. Under the terms of the deal, Jade Mandel from Goldman Sachs will be joining the H2O.ai Board. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $147 million. It’s worth noting that Goldman Sachs isn’t just an investor. It’s also a customer. Company CEO and co-founder Sri Ambati says the fact that customers, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, have led the last two rounds is a validation for him and his company. “Customers have risen up from the ranks for two consecutive rounds for us. Last time the Series C was led by Wells Fargo where we were their platform of choice. Today’s round was led by Goldman Sachs, which has been a strong customer for us and strong supporters of our technology,” Ambati told TechCrunch. The company’s main product, H2O Driverless AI, introduced in 2017, gets its name from the fact it provides a way for people who aren’t AI experts to still take advantage of AI without a team of data scientists. “Driverless AI is automatic machine learning, which brings the power of a world class data scientists in the hands of everyone. lt builds models automatically using machine learning algorithms of every kind,” Ambati explained. They introduced a new recipe concept today, that provides all of the AI ingredients and instructions for building models for different business requirements. H2O.ai’s team of data scientists has created and open sourced 100 recipes for things like credit risk scoring, anomaly detection and property valuation. The company has been growing since its Series C round in 2017 when it had 70 employees. Today it has 175 and has tripled the number of customers since the prior round, although Ambati didn’t discuss an exact number.  The company has its roots in open source and has 20,000 users of its open source products, according to Ambati. He didn’t want to discuss valuation and wouldn’t say when the company might go public, saying it’s early days for AI and they are working hard to build a company for the long haul. H2O.AI snares $40M Series C investment led by Wells Fargo and Nvidia

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A pair of digital news companies are teaming up, with PressReader acquiring News360. PressReader was founded back in 1999 as Newspaper Direct. It now operates a platform that converts newspapers and magazines into digital formats, while offering a $29.99 monthly subscription that provides unlimited access to more than 7,000 of those titles. News360, meanwhile, is relatively youthful, having been founded in 2010. It’s also created a news aggregation app, but the announcement makes it sound like PressReader was particularly interested in the company’s NativeAI technology for analytics and personalization. In a statement, PressReader CEO Alex Kroogman suggested that News360’s technology will be used to improve PressReader’s consumer experience and publisher tools: In a world where news fatigue is a real and growing problem, and media literacy a global concern, it’s more important than ever for people to have access to the trusted content they need in an engaging environment. By understanding each person’s interests, and building advanced data science systems around content analytics, we will be able to give our millions of readers the trusted media they want, how they want it, when they want it, and where they want it, while building more audience intelligence into the data that drives our publisher and brand partnerships. The News360 team will be joining PressReader and working out of the acquiring company’s Vancouver headquarters. News360 CEO Roman Karachinsky told me via email that the combined company will continue to support the News360 app and “develop it alongside the PressReader apps,” but he added, “In the short-term[,] the team will be focused on adding News360 tech into PressReader, so I wouldn’t expect big changes to the News360 app until we’re done with this.” The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to Crunchbase, News360 has raised a total of $7.5 million from investors including Ordell Capital. News360’s Roman Karachinsky Shows Off Revamped Android App, Hints At Plans Beyond News

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Waymo is taking some of its autonomous vehicles to Florida just in time for hurricane season to begin testing in heavy rain. The move to Florida will focus on testing how its myriad of sensors hold up during the region’s rainy season as well as to collect data. All of the vehicles will be manually driven by trained drivers. Waymo will bring both of its autonomous vehicles, the Chrysler Pacificas and a Jaguar I-Pace, to Naples and Miami, Florida for testing, according to a blog posted Tuesday. Miami is one of the wettest cities in the U.S., averaging 61.9 inches of rain annually. The self-driving car company, which is a business under Alphabet, began testing its autonomous vehicles in and around Mountain View, Calif., before branching out to other cities and weather, including Novi, Michigan, Kirkland, Washington and San Francisco. But the bulk of the company’s activities have been in suburbs of Phoenix and around Mountain View — two places with lots of sun, and even blowing dust, in the case of Phoenix. Waymo opened a technical center Chandler, Ariz. and started testing there in 2016. Since then the company has ramped up its testing and launched an early rider program in April 2017 as a step toward commercial deployment. The company will spend the next several weeks driving on a closed course in Naples to test its sensor suite , which includes lidar, cameras and radar . Later in the month, Waymo plans to bring its vehicles to public roads in Miami. A few Waymo vehicles will be collecting data on highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami. Waymo is hardly the only autonomous vehicle company to take advantage of Florida’s AV friendly regulations. Ford and Argo AI, the self-driving company it backs, have had a presence in the Miami since early 2018. Argo AI began collecting data and mapping and has since expanded to testing in autonomous mode last summer. Last year, Ford partnered with Walmart and Postmates to test the business of delivering goods like groceries and pet food using self-driving vehicles. The pilot project is focused on Miami-Dade County. Self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics also is testing in Florida.

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Apple this morning announced its highly anticipated new credit card, Apple Card, is launching today for all customers in the U.S. Customers will be able to apply for the Apple Card through the Wallet app on the iPhone, then immediately begin using it by way of Apple Pay — before the physical card arrives in the mail. Powered by Goldman Sachs and Mastercard, the card will work both as a traditional credit card and through Apple Pay anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. In lieu of points, which are favored by many of today’s credit card users, Apple Card doles out cash back for purchases. And it especially incentivizes users to choose Apple Pay, which offers 2% back instead of just 1% for non-Apple Pay purchases. In addition, purchases from Apple are rewarded with 3% back — making it an obvious choice for buying Apple hardware and other gear. Apple says it’s now extending 3% back to Uber and Uber Eats, too. The cash back is added to your Apple Cash balance or to the card’s monthly balance if you don’t want to use an Apple Cash account. The card is designed to be more transparent about interest and fees. It carries no annual fees, cash advances fees, over the limit or late fees. Its variable APR ranges from 12.99% to 23.99% based on the creditworthiness of the applicant. Information about the user’s charges and interest is clearly displayed in the app companion, and charges are color-coded for easier understanding. For example, if you’re spending at restaurants, the card will become orange on your device. When you shop for entertainment-related items, it changes to a mix of orange and pink. The card benefits from its built-in nature on Apple devices, too. Beyond the Wallet and Apple Cash integrations, Customers can text for support through iMessage and view transaction locations in Apple Maps. “We’re thrilled with the overwhelming interest in Apple Card and its positive reception,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay, in a statement. “Customers have told us they love Apple Card’s simplicity and how it gives them a better view of their spending.” The launch follows an Apple Card preview earlier this month, where the card was offered to select users. With today’s launch, Apple says it’s extending the 3% Daily Cash to more merchants and apps besides itself. Starting today, Apple Card customers will receive 3% cash back on Apple Pay purchases with Uber and Uber eats. More merchants and apps will be added in the future, it says. In the fine print of today’s announcement, Apple notes that Apple Pay is coming soon to Uber services like Uber Cash, Scheduled Rides, and JUMP. Purchases made with the physical, titanium Apple Card will continue to receive 1% cash back. Apple touts the privacy benefits of its card as another advantage. Apple won’t know where a user has shopped, it says, and Goldman Sachs won’t share or sell data to third parties for marketing and advertising, the company says. The physical card also doesn’t display its fixed number on the face of the card — that’s stored on the mag stripe and accessible through the app, if needed. No signature is required either. The Card will be available to customers in the U.S. with an iPhone 6 or higher, running iOS 12.4.

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NurseFly, a startup that’s created a job marketplace for short-term nursing positions, is announcing its acquisition by holding company IAC. While the companies aren’t disclosing the deal terms, a source with knowledge of the acquisition said the price was $15 million. Co-founder and CEO Parth Bhakta told me that hospitals often hire travel nurses (signed for contracts of 13 weeks or a few months) when there’s a staffing shortage, or just because of seasonal needs. He said job sites aren’t really designed to fill these positions, while the existing, offline hiring process is “opaque,” where a nurse’s application “kind of goes into a black hole.” On NurseFly, on the other hand, nurses can compare multiple offers, chat with employers and research the cost-of-living in different locations. The startup works directly with staffing agencies, charging them a subscription fee (the nurses use the site for free) for access to a pool of qualified candidates who have already provided the necessary documentation. The startup was founded in 2017 and says it currently has more than 30,000 active job listings, with revenue growing 6x year-over-year. It’s headquartered in San Francisco and recently opened an additional office in Denver. Bhakta described IAC as the “perfect partner” to help NurseFly “really go after the opportunity with additional resources, really go after it more aggressively with a larger team and organization, to create the best place for healthcare job seekers.” Bhakta and his co-founder/CTO Eric Conner will continue to lead NurseFly post-acquisition. The company will become part of IAC’s Emerging & Other segment, which already includes staffing platform Bluecrew, and Bluecrew CEO Adam Roston will become NurseFly’s chairman. Peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace Turo raises $250M at over $1B valuation from IAC

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Somewhere in space, a mannequin wearing a SpaceX spacesuit and driving a cherry red original Tesla Roadster that once belonged to Elon Musk is celebrating its first trip around the sun. The absurd ‘Starman’ and Roadster combo was launched last year aboard the first Falcon Heavy test flight from Kennedy Space Center, and has now completed a full orbit of the Sun, baed on tracking info monitored by the site whereisroadster.com (via Space.com). The Roadster and its fake driver were selected by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk as the payload for the Falcon Heavy’s first flight in part because there was more than a decent chance that whatever was sent up on that first trip was going to end up little more than ash or fiery debris, but the launch actually went very smoothly – despite warnings to the contrary by Musk himself. When it left Earth’s orbit, the Roadster’s radio was playing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” set on repeat, and on-boards cameras were broadcasting via internal power (you can check out the recorded version of the live stream below to see how that went). In case you were wondering about the Roadster’s maintenance information, it’s now out of warranty more than 21,000 times over based on miles traveled, and it’s gone far enough to have traveled the entire world 33.9 times. Take that, range anxiety.

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