posted 3 days ago on techcrunch
Uber and Facebook and countless other companies that know an awful lot about their customers have found themselves in hot water for providing broad internal access to sensitive customer information. Now, a startup says its “out-of-the-box tools” can help protect customers’ privacy while also saving companies from themselves. How? With a software-as-a-service product that promises to help employees access the app data they need — and only the app data they need. Among the features the company, Internal, is offering, are search and filtering, auto-generated tasks and team queues, granular permissioning on every field, audit logs on every record, and redacted fields for sensitive information. Whether the startup can win the trust of enterprises is the biggest question for the company, which was created by Arisa Amano and Bob Remeika, founders who last year launched the blockchain technology company Harbor. The two also worked together previously at two other companies: Zenefits and Yammer. All of these endeavors have another person in common, and that’s David Sacks, whose venture firm, Craft Ventures, has just led a $5 million round in Internal. Sacks also invested last year in Harbor; he was an early investor in Zenefits and took over during troubled times as its CEO for less than a year; he also founded Yammer, which sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion in cash in 2012. All of the aforementioned have been focused, too, on making it easier for companies to get their work done, and Amano and Remeika have built the internal console at all three companies, which is how they arrived at their “aha” moment last year, says Amano. “So many companies build their consoles [which allow users advanced use of the computer system they’re attached to] in a half-hearted way; we realized there was an opportunity to build this as a service.” Adds Remeika, “Companies never dedicate enough engineers to [their internal consoles], so they’re often half broken and hard to use and they do a terrible job of limiting access to sensitive customer data. We eliminate the need to build these tools altogether, and takes just minutes to get set up.” Starting today, companies can decide for themselves whether they think Internal can help their employees interact with their customer app data in a more secure and compliant way. The eight-person company has just made the product available for a free trial. Naturally, Amano and Remeika are full of assurances why companies can trust them. “We don’t store data,” says Amano. “That resides on the [customer’s] servers. It stays in their database.” Internal’s technology instead “understands the structure of the data and will read that structure,” offers Remeika, who says not to mistake Internal for an analytics tool. “Analytics tools commonly provide a high-level overview; Internal is giving users granular access to customer data and letting you debug problems.” As for competitors, the duo say their most formidable opponent right now is developers who throw up a data model viewer that has complete access to everything in a database, which may be sloppy but happens routinely. Internal isn’t disclosing its pricing publicly just yet, but it says its initial target is non-technical users, on operations and customer support teams, for example. As for Harbor (we couldn’t help but wonder why they’re already starting a new company), they say it’s in good hands with CEO Josh Stein, who was previously general counsel and chief compliance officer at Zenefits (he was its first lawyer) and who joined Harbor in February of last year as its president. Stein was later named CEO. In addition to Craft Ventures, Internal’s new seed round comes from Pathfinder, which is Founders Fund’s early-stage investment vehicle, and other, unnamed angel investors.

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The President this morning lashed out at Google on Twitter, accusing the company of manipulating millions of votes in the 2016 election to sway it towards Hillary Clinton. The authority on which he bases this serious accusation, however, is little more than supposition in an old paper reheated by months-old congressional testimony. Trump’s tweet this morning cited no paper at all, in fact, though he did tag conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, perhaps asking them to investigate. It’s also unclear who he thinks should sue the company. Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought! @JudicialWatch — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2019 Coincidentally, Fox News had just mentioned the existence of such a report about five minutes earlier. Trump has also recently criticized Google and CEO Sundar Pichai over a variety of perceived slights. In fact the report was not “just issued,” and does not say what the President suggests it did. What both Fox and Trump appear to be referring to is a paper published in 2017 that described what the authors say was a bias in Google and other search engines during the run-up to the 2016 election. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard about this particular study, I can tell you why — it’s a very bad study. The authors looked at search results for 95 people over the 25 days preceding the election and evaluated the first page for bias. They claim to have found that based on “crowdsourced” determinations of bias, the process for which is not described, that most search results, especially on Google, tended to be biased in favor of Clinton. No data on these searches, such as a sample search and results and how they were determined to be biased, is provided. There’s no discussion of the fact, for example, that Google tailors search results based on a person’s previous searches, stated preferences, location, and so on. Trump attacks Google and Sundar Pichai in morning tweets In fact, the paper lacks all the qualifications of any ordinary research paper. There is no abstract or introduction, no methods section to show the statistics work and definitions of terms, no discussion, no references. Without this basic information the document is not only incapable of being reviewed by peers or experts, but is indistinguishable from completely invented suppositions. Nothing in this paper can be in any way verified. Epstein freely references himself, however: a single 2015 paper in PNAS on how search results could be deliberately manipulated to affect a voter looking for information on candidates, and  the many, many opinion pieces he has written on the subject, frequently on far-right outlets the Epoch Times and Daily Caller, but also non-partisan ones like USA Today and Bloomberg Businessweek. The numbers advanced in the study are completely without merit. Citing math he does not describe, Epstein says that “a pro-Clinton bias in Google’s search results would over time, shift at least 2.6 million votes to Clinton.” No mechanism or justification for this assertion is provided, except a highly theoretical one based on ideas and assumptions from his 2015 study, which had little in common with this one. The numbers are, essentially, made up. In other words, this so-called report is nothing of the kind — a nonfactual document written with no scientific justification of its claims written by someone who publishes anti-Google editorials almost monthly. It was not published in a journal of any kind, simply put online at a private nonprofit research agency called the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, where Epstein is on staff and which appears to exist almost solely to promote his work — such as it is. (I’ve asked AIBRT for more information on its funding.) If that were all, it would be more than enough. But Trump’s citation of this fraudulent paper doesn’t even get the facts right. His assertion was that “Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election,” and the report doesn’t even state that. ‘The Great Hack’: Netflix doc unpacks Cambridge Analytica, Trump, Brexit and democracy’s death The source for this false claim appears to be Epstein’s recent appearance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in July. Here he received star treatment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who asked him to share his expert opinion on the possibility of tech manipulation of voting. Cruz’s previous expert for this purpose was conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager. Again citing no data, studies, or mechanisms whatsoever, Epstein described 2.6 million as a “rock bottom minimum” of votes that Google, Facebook, Twitter and others could have affected (he does not say did affected, or attempted to affect). He also says that in subsequent elections, specifically in 2020, “if all these companies are supporting the same candidate, there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.” “the methods they are using are invisible, they’re subliminal, they’re more powerful than most any effects I’ve seen in the behavioral sciences,” Epstein said, but did not actually describe what the techniques are. Though he did suggest that Mark Zuckerberg could send out a “get out the vote” notification only to Democrats and no one would ever know — absurd. In other words, the numbers are not only invented, but unrelated to the 2016 election, and inclusive of all tech companies, not just Google. Even if Epstein’s claims were anywhere near justifiable, Trump’s tweet mischaracterizes them and gets everything wrong. Nothing about any of this is anywhere close to correct. Google issued a statement addressing the President’s accusation, saying “This researcher’s inaccurate claim has been debunked since it was made in 2016. As we stated then, we have never re-ranked or altered search results to manipulate political sentiment.” You can read the full “report” below: EPSTEIN & ROBERTSON 2017-A Method for Detecting Bias in Search Rankings-AIBRT by TechCrunch on Scribd

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The chat fiction stories offered in Mammoth Media‘s mobile app Yarn are about to get more interactive. The branching narrative mechanic should be familiar to anyone who read Choose Your Own Adventure books when they were kids — you read a story, and at certain key moments, you choose from different options that determine where the plot will go next. More recently, the “Being Beyonce’s assistant for a day” thread on Twitter reminded everyone how fun and stressful this kind of storytelling can be. In fact, Mammoth says it’s hired the thread’s author Landon Rivera as one of the writers for this new initiative. One thing you probably won’t recognize from your childhood reading is the fact that some of these choices aren’t free — to select them, you’ll need to spend money in the form of Yarn’s new virtual currency, gems. Mammoth founder and CEO Benoit Vatere explained that in those cases, there might be two choices that you can select for free, plus a third that you need to pay for. Usually, it will be something that accelerates the story or sends it off in a new direction — in a horror story, you could get the option to stab someone, or in a romance story, your character could get the option to go home with someone. Vatere added, “It’s not only being able to have a different branch in the story, but being able to play as a different character lead … Instead of being the male character, would they like to be the female character and really see a different perspective?” Mammoth Media, the startup behind chat fiction app Yarn, raises $13M He acknowledged that some of Yarn’s paying subscribers might be cranky about being asked to pay more, but he said the goal is that those subscribers can have “a full experience” without having to buy additional gems. Yarn is launching interactive stories with titles including “Blue Ivy’s Nanny,” where it’s your first day on the job as Beyoncé’s nanny (I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rivera worked on this one); a romance story called “Playing the Field”; a horror story called “Haunted Camper” and a drama called “Trapped.” Vatere also said there are plans for branched narratives tying into existing Yarn franchises, and set in the world of Archie Comics. Overall, Vatere said he’s hoping that this will lead to more engagement from Yarn readers, while also opening up new opportunities for monetization. “Subscription is a great model, but subscription has a cap,” he said. That’s why Mammoth is experimenting with virtual currency, and why it plans to make these stories available to non-subscribers.

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Google’s game streaming service isn’t set to launch until November, but the company kept the hype train going through the mid-August doldrums with a Gamescom Stadia Connect livestream. As promised, the online press conference was “all about the games,” featuring what looks to be a nearly complete list of launch (and some post-launch) titles. Here are all of the trailers from today’s Google Stadia announcement The games include some top names like Cyberpunk 2077, Final Fantasy XV, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Mortal Kombat 11. It also enlists a number of top publishers, including Bethesda, Square and Ubisoft. A number of key publishing partners have opted to keep their lists under wraps until closer to (or at) launch, however, including EA, Capcom and Rockstar. As previously noted, the service will run $10 a month, including access to games and discounts on purchases. A base version of the service will also be available at some point next year. When it launches in November, the service will be available in 14 countries, including US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Finland. More will be added in 2020. Google is currently offering up a “Founder’s Edition” pre-order for $130. That includes a controller, Chromecast Ultra and three months of the service for you and a friend. Here’s the list of titles so far, Bandai Namco – Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Bethesda – DOOM Eternal, DOOM 2016, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: Youngblood Bungie – Destiny 2, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep Expansion CD PROJEKT RED – Cyberpunk 2077 Chump Squad – KINE Coatsink – Get Packed Codemasters – GRID Dotemu – Windjammers 2 Deep Silver – Metro Exodus Drool – Thumper Giants Software -Farming Simulator 19 Larian Studios – Baldur’s Gate 3 nWay Games – Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid Omega Force – Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle Pandemic Studios – Destroy All Humans! Robot Entertainment – Orcs Must Die 3 Sega – Football Manager SNK – Samurai Shodown Square Enix – Final Fantasy XV – Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Marvel’s Avengers SUPERHOT – SUPERHOT 2K – NBA 2K, Borderlands 3 Tequila Works – Gylt Warner Bros – Mortal Kombat 11 THQ – Darksiders Genesis Ubisoft – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance , Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint , Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 , Trials Rising, The Crew 2, Watch Dogs: Legion

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Twitter says a significant information operation involving hundreds of accounts linked to China were part of an effort to deliberately “sow political discord” in Hong Kong after weeks of protests in the region. In a blog post, the social networking site said the 936 accounts it found tried to undermine “the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” More than a million protesters took to the streets this weekend to demonstrate peacefully against the Chinese government, which took over rule from the British government in 1997. Protests erupted months ago following a bid by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to push through a highly controversial bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial. The bill was suspended, effectively killing it from reaching the law books, but protests have continued, pushing back at claims that China is trying to meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs. Although Twitter is banned in China, the social media giant says the latest onslaught of fake accounts is likely “a coordinated state-backed operation.” “Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests,” the statement said. Two of the tweets supplied by Twitter. Twitter said many of the accounts are using virtual private networks — or VPNs — which can be used to tunnel through China’s vast domestic censorship system, known as the Great Firewall. The company added that the accounts its sharing represent the “most active” portions of a wider spam campaign of about 200,000 accounts. “Covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service — they violate the fundamental principles on which our company is built,” said Twitter. News of the fake accounts come days after Twitter user @Pinboard warned that China was using Twitter to send and promote tweets aimed at discrediting the protest movement. Facebook said in its own post it also took down five Facebook accounts, seven pages and three groups on its site “based on a tip shared by Twitter.” The accounts frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” said Gleicher. Some of the posts, Facebook said, referred Hong Kong residents are “cockroaches.” Twitter said it’s adding the complete set the accounts’ tweets to its archive of information operations. Twitter is blocked in China, but its state news agency is buying promoted tweets to portray Hong Kong protestors as violent

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Facebook is expanding its data abuse bug bounty to Instagram. The social media giant, which owns Instagram, first rolled out its data abuse bounty in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw tens of millions of Facebook profiles scraped to help swing undecided voters in favor of the Trump campaign during the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The idea was that security researchers and platform users alike could report instances of third-party apps or companies that were scraping, collecting and selling Facebook data for other purposes, such as to create voter profiles or build vast marketing lists. Even following he high profile public relations disaster of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook still still had apps illicitly collecting data on its users. Instagram wasn’t immune either. Just this month Instagram booted a “trusted” marketing partner off its platform after it was caught scraping millions of users’ stories, locations and other data points on millions of users, forcing Instagram to make product changes to prevent future scraping efforts. That came after two other incidents earlier this year where a security researcher found 14 million scraped Instagram profiles sitting on an exposed database — without a password — for anyone to access. Another incident saw another company platform scrape the profile data — including email addresses and phone numbers — of Instagram influencers. Last year Instagram also choked developers’ access as the company tried to rebuild its privacy image in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Dan Gurfinkel, security engineering manager at Instagram, said its new and expanded data abuse bug bounty aims to “encourage” security researchers to report potential abuse. Instagram said it’s also inviting a select group of trusted security researchers to find flaws in its Checkout service ahead of its international rollout, who will also be eligible for bounty payouts. Read more: Facebook bans first app since Cambridge Analytica, and suspends hundreds more Instagram ad partner secretly sucked up and tracked millions of users’ locations and stories Mark Zuckerberg discovers privacy

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OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, are a popular planning method in Silicon Valley. Like most of those methods that make you fill in some form once every quarter, I’m pretty sure employees find them rather annoying and a waste of their time. Ally wants to change that and make the process more useful. The company today announced that it has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Accel Partners, with participation from Vulcan Capital, Founders Co-op and Lee Fixel. The company, which launched in 2018, previously raised a $3 million seed round. Ally founder and CEO Vetri Vellore tells me that he learned his management lessons and the value of OKR at his last startup, Chronus. After years of managing large teams at enterprises like Microsoft, he found himself challenged to manage a small team at a startup. “I went and looked for new models of running a business execution. And OKRs were one of those things I stumbled upon. And it worked phenomenally well for us,” Vellore said. That’s where the idea of Ally was born, which Vellore pursued after selling his last startup. Most companies that adopt this methodology, though, tend to work with spreadsheets and Google Docs. Over time, that simply doesn’t work, especially as companies get larger. Ally, then, is meant to replace these other tools. The service is currently in use at “hundreds” of companies in more than 70 countries, Vellore tells me. One of its early adopters was Remitly . “We began by using shared documents to align around OKRs at Remitly. When it came time to roll out OKRs to everyone in the company, Ally was by far the best tool we evaluated. OKRs deployed using Ally have helped our teams align around the right goals and have ultimately driven growth,” said Josh Hug, COO of Remitly. Vellore tells me that he has seen teams go from annual or bi-annual OKRs to more frequently updated goals, too, which is something that’s easier to do when you have a more accessible tool for it. Nobody wants to use yet another tool, though, so Ally features deep integrations into Slack, with other integrations in the works (something Ally will use this new funding for). Since adopting OKRs isn’t always easy for companies that previously used other methodologies (or nothing at all), Ally also offers training and consulting services with online and on-site coaching. Pricing for Ally starts at $7 per month per user for a basic plan, but the company also offers a flat $29 per month plan for teams with up to 10 users, as well as an enterprise plan, which includes some more advanced features and single sign-on integrations.

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A group of app developers have penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, arguing that certain privacy-focused changes to Apple’s iOS 13 operating system will hurt their business. In a report by The Information, the developers were said to have accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior when it comes to how apps can access user location data. With iOS 13, Apple aims to curtail apps’ abuse of its location-tracking features as part of its larger privacy focus as a company. Today, many apps ask users upon first launch to give their app the “Always Allow” location-tracking permission. Users can confirm this with a tap, unwittingly giving apps far more access to their location data than is actually necessary, in many cases. In iOS 13, however, Apple has tweaked the way apps can request location data. There will now be a new option upon launch presented to users, “Allow Once,” which allows users to first explore the app to see if it fits their needs before granting the app developer the ability to continually access location data. This option will be presented alongside existing options, “Allow While Using App” and “Don’t Allow.” The “Always” option is still available, but users will have to head to iOS Settings to manually enable it. (A periodic pop-up will also present the “Always” option, but not right away.) The app developers argue that this change may confuse less technical users, who will assume the app isn’t functioning properly unless they figure out how to change their iOS Settings to ensure the app has the proper permissions. The developers’ argument is a valid assessment of user behavior and how such a change could impact their apps. The added friction of having to go to Settings in order to toggle a switch so an app to function can cause users to abandon apps. It’s also, in part, why apps like Safari ad blockers and iOS replacement keyboards never really went mainstream, as they require extra steps involving the iOS Settings. That said, the changes Apple is rolling out with iOS 13 don’t actually break these apps entirely. They just require the apps to refine their onboarding instructions to users. Instead of asking for the “Always Allow” permission, they will need to point users to the iOS Settings screen, or limit the apps’ functionality until it’s granted the “Always Allow” permission. In addition, the developers’ letter pointed out that Apple’s own built-in apps (like Find My) aren’t treated like this, which raises anti-competitive concerns. The letter also noted that Apple in iOS 13 would not allow developers to use PushKit for any other purpose beyond internet voice calls — again, due to the fact that some developers abused this toolkit to collect private user data. “We understand that there were certain developers, specifically messaging apps, that were using this as a backdoor to collect user data,” the email said, according to the report. “While we agree loopholes like this should be closed, the current Apple plan to remove [access to the internet voice feature] will have unintended consequences: it will effectively shut down apps that have a valid need for real-time location.” The letter was signed by Tile CEO CJ Prober; Arity (Allstate) President Gary Hallgren; CEO of Life360 Chris Hullsan; CEO of dating app Happn Didier Rappaport; CEO of Zenly (Snap), Antoine Martin; , CEO of Zendrive, Jonathan Matus which; and chief strategy officer of social networking app Twenty, Jared Allgood. Apple responded to The Information by saying that any changes it makes to the operating system are “in service to the user” and to their privacy. It also noted that any apps it distributes from the App Store have to abide by the same procedures. It’s another example of how erring on the side of increased user privacy can lead to complications and friction for end users. One possible solution could be allowing apps to present their own in-app Settings screen where users could toggle the app’s full set of permissions directly — including everything from location data to push notifications to the app’s use of cellular data or Bluetooth sharing. The news comes at a time when the U.S. Dept. of Justice is considering investigating Apple for anti-competitive behavior. Apple told The Information it was working with some of the impacted developers using PushKit on alternate solutions.

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Chad M. Crabtree Contributor Share on Twitter Chad M. Crabtree is the editor-in-Chief at Career KarmaCareer Karma, covering the Future of Work, Tech Education, and Startups. There has long been a stigma associated with therapy and mental health coaching, a stigma that is even more pronounced in the business world, despite considerable evidence of the efficacy of these services. One of the organizations that has set out to change this negative association is Torch, a startup that combines the therapeutic benefits of executive coaching with data-driven analytics to track outcomes. Yet, as Torch co-founder and CEO Cameron Yarbrough explains in this Breaking Into Startups episode, the startup wasn’t initially a tech-oriented enterprise. At first, Yarbrough drew on his years of experience as a marriage and family counselor as he made the transition into executive coaching, even referring to the early iterations of Torch as little more than “a matchmaking service between coaches and professionals.” In time, Yarbrough identified a virtually untapped market for executive coaching — one that, by his estimate, could amount to a $15 billion industry. To demonstrate to investors the great potential of this growing market, he first built up a clientele that provided Torch with sufficient recurring revenue and low churn rate. Only then was Yarbrough able to raise a $2.4 million seed round from Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and other investors, convincing them that data analytics software could enhance the coaching process — as well as coach recruitment — enough to effectively “productize feedback,” as he puts it. For Yarbrough and Torch, “productizing feedback” involves certain well-known business strategies that complement traditional coaching methods. For instance, Torch’s coaching procedure includes a “360 review,” a performance review system that incorporates feedback from all angles, including an employee’s manager, peers, and other people within an organization who have knowledge of the employee’s work. The 360 review is coupled with an OKR platform, which provides HR departments and other interested parties with the metrics and analytics to track employee progress through the program. This combination is designed to promote the development of soft skills, which in turn drive leadership. Torch has achieved considerable success, landing several influential clients in the tech sector through its B2B approach. But Yarbrough is clear that his goal with the company is to “democratize” access to professional coaching, in hopes of providing the same kind of mental health counseling and support to employees in all levels of an organization. In this episode, Yarbrough discusses the history and trajectory of Torch, his experience scaling a company many considered unscalable, and the methods he uses to manage his own emotional and mental health as the CEO of an expanding startup. Yarbrough offers insights into the feelings of anxiety and dread common among entrepreneurs and provides a close look at how he has found business and personal success with Torch. Breaking Into Startups: There’s a difference between a mentor and a coach. Today, I want to talk about that difference and in addition to the intersection between business and psychology, What Cameron Yarbrough, CEO of Torch and Founder of Well Clinic. If you’re someone that is looking for a mentor or a coach as you break into tech, or if you just want to be surrounded by peers, make sure you download the Career Karma app by going to www.breakingintostartups.com/download. On today’s episode, you’re going to understand the importance of therapy, mental health and coaches, as well as how historically, it has been inaccessible to people and how Cameron is using his background to democratize this for the world. If this is your first time listening to the Breaking Startups Podcast, make sure you leave a review on iTunes and tell your friends. Listen to it on Soundcloud and talk about it on Spotify. If you have any feedback for us, positive or negative, please let us know. Without further ado, let’s break-in. Cameron Yarbrough is the CEO of Torch. He’s one of the best executive coaches in the world. Not only are we going to be talking about coaching and mentoring for executives, but we’ll also be talking about coaching in general for everyone. We’re going to go into how he created his company.

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Royal Dutch Shell, the energy giant known for its fossil fuel production and hundreds of Shell gas stations, is creeping into the electric vehicle-power business. The company’s first DC fast charger launched Monday at a Shell gas station in Singapore. Greenlots, an EV charging startup acquired by Shell in January, installed the charger. This is the first of 10 DC fast chargers that Greenlots plans to bring to Shell service stations in Singapore over the next several months. The decision to target Singapore is part of Greenlots’ broader strategy to provide EV charging solutions across all applications throughout Asia and North America, the company said. Both Shell and Greenlots have a presence in Singapore. Greenlots, which based in Los Angeles, was founded in Singapore; and Shell is one of Singapore’s largest foreign investors. Singapore has been promoting the use of electric vehicles, particularly for car-sharing and ride-hailing platforms. The island city-state has been building up its EV infrastructure to meet anticipated demand as ride-hailing drivers and commercial fleets switch to electric vehicles. Greenlots was backed by Energy Impact Partners, a cleantech investment firm, before it was acquired by Shell. The company, which combines its management software with the EV charging hardware, has landed some significant customers in recent years, notably Volkswagen. Greenlots is the sole software provider to Electrify America, the the entity set up by Volkswagen as part of its settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel emissions cheating scandal.

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The vast enterprise tech category is Silicon Valley’s richest, and today it’s poised to change faster than ever before. That’s probably the biggest reason to come to TechCrunch’s first-ever show focused entirely on enterprise. But here are five more reasons to commit to joining TechCrunch’s editors on September 5 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for an outstanding day (agenda here) addressing the tech tsunami sweeping through enterprise.  #1 Artificial Intelligence. At once the most consequential and most hyped technology, no one doubts that AI will change business software and increase productivity like few if any, technologies before it. To peek ahead  into that future, TechCrunch will interview Andrew Ng, arguably the world’s most experienced AI practitioner at huge companies (Baidu, Google) as well as at startups. AI will be a theme across every session, but we’ll address again it head-on in a panel with investor Jocelyn Goldfein (Zetta), founder Bindu Reddy (Reality Engines) and executive John Ball (Salesforce / Einstein).  #2. Data, The Cloud and Kubernetes. If AI is at the dawn of tomorrow, cloud transformation is the high noon of today.  90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years, and no enterprise can keep its data hoard on-prem forever. Azure’s CTO Mark Russinovitch (CTO) will discuss Microsft’s vision for the cloud. Leaders in the open-source Kubernetes revolution, Joe Beda (VMWare) and Aparna Sinha (Google) and others will dig into what Kubernetes means to companies making the move to cloud. And last, there is the question of how to find signal in all the data – which will bring three visionary founders to the stage: Benoit Dageville (Snowflake), Ali Ghodsi (Databricks), Murli Thirumale (Portworx).  #3 Everything else on the main stage! Let’s start with a fireside chat with SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Qualtrics Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green.  We have top investors talking where they are making their bets, and security experts talking data and privacy. And then there is quantum,  the technology revolution waiting on the other side of AI: Jay Gambetta, the principal theoretical scientist behind IBM’s quantum computing effort,  Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel Labs, and Krysta Svore, style="font-weight: 400;"> who leads the Microsoft’s quantum effort. All told, there are 21 programming sessions. #4 Network and get your questions answered. There will be two Q&A breakout sessions with top enterprise investors for founders (and anyone else) to query investors directly. Plus, TechCrunch’s unbeatable CrunchMatch app makes it really easy to set up meetings with the other attendees, an incredible array of folks, plus the  20 early-stage startups exhibiting on the expo floor. #5 SAP Enterprise giant SAP is our sponsor for the show, and they are not only bringing a squad of top executives, they are producing four parallel track sessions featuring key SAP Chief Innovation Officer Max Wessel,  SAP Chief Designer and Futurist  Martin Wezowski and SAP.IO’s managing director Ram Jambunathan (SAP.iO) in sessions including, how to scale-up an enterprise startup, how startups win large enterprise customers, and what the enterprise future looks like. Check out the complete agenda. Don’t miss this show! This line-up is a view into the future like none other.  Grab your $349 tickets today, and don’t wait till the day of to book because prices go up at the door! We still have 2 Startup Demo Tables left. Each table comes with 4 tickets and a prime location to demo your startup on the expo floor. Book your demo table now before they’re all gone!

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Image via Getty Images / aurielaki Depending on your connection and the size of your household, video streaming can get downright post-apocalyptic – bandwidth is the key resource, and everyone is fighting to get the most and avoid a nasty, pixelated picture. But a new way to control how bandwidth is distributed across multiple, simultaneous streams could mean peace across the land – even when a ton of devices are sharing the same connection and all streaming video at the same time. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab created a system they call ‘Minerva’ that minimizes stutters due to buffering, and pixelation due to downgraded stream, which it believes could have huge potential benefits for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that increasingly serve multiple members of a household at once. The underlying technology could be applied to larger areas, too, extending beyond the houseful and into neighbourhoods or even whole regions to mitigate the effects of less than idea streaming conditions. Minerva works by taking into account the varying needs of different delivery devices streaming on a network – so it doesn’t treat a 4K Apple TV the same as an older smartphone with a display that can’t even show full HD output, for instance. It also considers the nature of the content, , which is important because live action sports require a heck of a lot more bandwidth to display in high quality when compared to say, an animated children’s TV show. Video is then served to viewers based on its actual needs, instead of just being allocated more or less evenly across devices, and the Minerva system continually optimizes delivery speeds in accordance with their changing needs as the stream continues. In real-world testing, Minerva as able to provide a quality cup equivalent to going from 720p to 1080p as much as a third of the time, and eliminated the need for rebuffing by almost 50 percent, which is a massive improvement when it comes to actually being able to seamlessly stream video content continuously. Plus, it can do all this without requiring any fundamental changes to network infrastructure, meaning a streaming provider could roll it out without having to require any changes on the part of users.

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Microsoft announced this morning that it was acquiring jClarity, an open source tool designed to tune the performance of Java applications. It will be doing that on Azure from now on. In addition, the company has been offering a flavor of Java called AdoptOpenJDK, which they bill as a free alternative to Oracle Java. The companies did not discuss the terms of the deal. As Microsoft pointed out in a blog post announcing the acquisition, they are seeing increasing use of large-scale Java installations on Azure, both internally with platforms like Minecraft and externally with large customers including Daimler and Adobe. The company believes that by adding the jClarity team and its toolset, it can help service these Java customers better. “The team, formed by Java champions and data scientists with proven expertise in data driven Java Virtual Machine (JVM) optimizations, will help teams at Microsoft to leverage advancements in the Java platform,” the company wrote in the blog. Microsoft has actually been part of the AdoptOpenJDK project along with a Who’s Who of other enterprise companies including Amazon, IBM, Pivotal, Red Hat and SAP. Co-founder and CEO Martin Verburg, writing in a company blog post announcing the deal, unsurprisingly spoke in glowing terms about the company he was about to become a part of. “Microsoft leads the world in backing developers and their communities, and after speaking to their engineering and programme leadership, it was a no brainer to enter formal discussions. With the passion and deep expertise of Microsoft’s people, we’ll be able to support the Java ecosystem better than ever before,” he wrote. Verburg also took the time to thank the employees, customers and community who has supported the open source project on top of which his company was built. Verburg’s new title at Microsoft will be Principal Engineering Group Manager (Java) at Microsoft. It is unclear how the community will react to another flavor of Java being absorbed by another large vendor, or how the other big vendors involved in the project will feel about it, but regardless, jClarity is part of Microsoft now.

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On Friday night, the President once again tweeted about Apple . This time, however, things were a bit more positive. “Having dinner tonight with Tim Cook of Apple,” he wrote in advance of the meeting. “They will be spending vast sums of money in the U.S. Great!” The pair had dinner at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. On Sunday, the President offered a debrief of the meeting after 10 days at the club, telling a small gathering of reporters, “I had very good meeting with Tim Cook […] Tim was talking to me about tariffs, and one of the things, he made a good case, is that Samsung is their number one competitor and Samsung is their number one competitor and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in South Korea. And it’s tough for Apple to compete with a very good company that’s not.” It’s not the first time Cook has expressed concern of the penalties of tariffs in a meeting with Trump, though the mention of Samsung appears to have struck a chord with the President. The executive’s concerns have also been echoed by representatives from a number of different industries who have argued that Trump’s tariffs unfairly penalize goods produced by U.S. companies. US President Donald Trump speaks alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) during the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 6, 2019. (Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) A week ago, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) delayed tariffs for certain electronics, a month Trump noted was done in order to keep prices down for the holidays. In late July, Trump took to Twitter to hold the specter of tariffs over Apple, in response to reports that its Mac Pro desktop would no longer be produced in the U.S. “Apple will not be given Tariff wavers, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China,” he tweeted. “Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!” Apple, meanwhile, recently touted investments involved in “creating and supporting 2.4 million US jobs across all 50 states.”

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Eli Cahan Contributor Share on Twitter Eli Cahan is a medical student at NYU on leave to complete a master’s in health policy at Stanford as a Knight-Hennessey Scholar. His research addresses the effectiveness, economics, and ethics of (digital) health innovation. Healthtech is apparently in a golden age. Just a few weeks ago, Livongo and Health Catalyst raised a combined $500 million through IPOs with a joint valuation reaching $3.5 billion. Deals such as these are catalyzing a record-breaking 2019, with digital health deal activity expected to surpass the $8.1 billion invested in 2018. Amidst such abundance, the digital health ecosystem is thriving: as of 2017, greater than 300,000 mobile applications and 340 consumer wearable devices existed—with 200 new mobile applications added daily. No theme has been more important to this fundraising than artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), a space which captured more than one-quarter of healthtech funding in 2018. Yet, how many of these technologies will prove valuable in medical, ethical, or financial terms? Our research group at Stanford addressed this question by taking a deeper dive into the saying that, in AI/ML, “garbage in equals garbage out.” We did this by distinguishing digital health algorithms leveraging AI/ML from their underlying training data, documenting the numerous consequences to the outputs of these technologies should the inputs resemble, well, “garbage.” For example, the utility of genetic risk scores provided by companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA (which have estimated valuations of $1.75 and $2.6 billion, respectively) may be limited due to diagnostic biases stemming from the underrepresentation of diverse populations. Responding to such observations, we provide a variety of recommendations to the developers, inventors, and founders spearheading the advancement of digital health—as well as the funders supporting this charge forward—to ensure that their innovations are valuable to the stakeholders they target. Healthtech startups still have to prove their value for patients

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Is it just us or is the summer disappearing faster than ever? Disrupt San Francisco 2019 is right around the corner (October 2-4) and the great early-bird migration is upon us. Your opportunity to save big bucks disappears on August 30. Depending on which pass you purchase, you can save up to a whopping $1,300. Feather your nest with early-bird savings — buy your pass today. Now that you have your pass all squared away, get ready to join more than 10,000 ardent startuppers from across the globe, including startups, exhibitors and media. TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt features three jam-packed days of programming across four unique stages: the Main Stage, the Extra Crunch Stage, the Q&A Stage and the Showcase Stage (located in Startup Alley). Speaking of Startup Alley, get ready to explore more than 1,200 early-stage startups and sponsor companies. You’ll also find our hand-picked cohort of TC Top Picks camped out in Startup Alley. It’s an unparalleled networking opportunity — you never know who you might meet and where that connection can lead. Take advantage of CrunchMatch, the free business-matching platform. It simplifies networking and cuts through the noise to help you find, schedule and meet the right people for your business needs. Don’t miss the Startup Battlefield on the Main Stage. Watch as 15-20 outstanding early-stage startups vie for glory, investor and media love and a $100,000 equity-free cash infusion. The Main Stage features interviews and panel discussions with tech titans, leading investors, up-and-coming founders and a host of other world-class speakers. Over on the Extra Crunch Stage you’ll find fireside chats, how-to content and actionable tips. Check out the ever-evolving Disrupt SF agenda. In the meantime, here are three sessions to give you an idea of what you’ll experience. Creating the Means of Production with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (HitRecord) For far too long, creators have been users of platforms rather than running those platforms. With HitRecord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt changed that. JGL has been head-down and hands-on with HitRecord, and we’ll hear from him about how to put the power back in creators’ hands. How to Evaluate Talent and Make Decisions with Ray Dalio (Bridgewater) 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. How to Take a Digital Brand Offline with Rich Fulop (Brooklinen), James Reinhart (ThredUp) and Susan Tynan (Framebridge) E-commerce has fundamentally changed the way we browse and buy physical goods. But even though online sales have taken a huge bite out of brick-and-mortar, it doesn’t mean that digital brands aren’t interested in the prospect of offline channels. Hear from three founders who have taken their own unique approach to launching a store. Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4, but your chance to get the best price disappears on August 30. Don’t wait, buy your early-bird pass today. Now, go enjoy the rest of your summer. 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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A popular hentai porn site that promises anonymity to its 1.1 million users left a user database exposed without a password, allowing anyone to identify users by their email addresses. You might not have heard of Luscious.net unless you’re into hentai and manga porn but it’s one of the most popular websites in the U.S., ranking in the top 5,000 sites in traffic, per Alexa data. Security researchers discovered the security lapse and provided details of the exposed database exclusively to TechCrunch. But our efforts to reach the site owner over the past week to get the database secured were unsuccessful. We emailed the site’s administrator — whose email address was found in the very first user record — to disclose the security lapse, but we did not hear back after several follow-ups. We sent the administrator a note through the site’s contact form, through Facebook Messenger, over a LinkedIn contact request, and we sent several text messages based off the site’s historical registration data. We passed on a message to the site’s web host, which took action to block access to the database, allowing us to publish. Only after we published, the site’s owner responded to our last email saying he was “investigating.” The database contained what appeared to be the site’s entire back-end database, including more than 235,000 albums, 30,000 user blog posts, and 900 videos. The data also contained details of the site’s 19.7 million photos. The exposed data also included records that connected all of a user’s activity on the site, including their username, blog posts, their followers, and their locations. Those records also contained users’ non-public email addresses. We found that although some accounts signed up with a fake email address, our testing showed that many of the emails were real, allowing us to identify real-world individuals who used the site. There were no passwords in the database, however. TechCrunch verified the exposed data by creating an account on the site and searching for the username we had just created in the database. It appeared near-instantly, indicating the database was live updating and was not a static backup file. The database was exposed since at least August 4, according to data from Shodan, a search engine for exposed devices and databases. It’s the latest example of an exposed or leaking data — where companies fail to protect their users’ data by protecting their databases with a password or basis security mechanisms. In recent months we’ve seen a cryptocurrency loan site expose credit cards, thousands of exposed medical injury claim reports, and a security lapse at dating app JCrush. Updated with response from site administrator. Stop saying, ‘We take your privacy and security seriously’

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As businesses use an increasing variety of marketing software solutions, the goal around collecting all of that data is to improve customer experience. Simon Data announced a $30 million Series C round today to help. The round was led by Polaris Partners . Previous investors .406 Ventures and F-Prime Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $59 million, according to the company. Jason Davis, co-founder and CEO, says his company is trying to pull together a lot of complex data from a variety of sources, while driving actions to improve customer experience. “It’s about taking the data, and then building complex triggers that target the right customer at the right time,” Davis told TechCrunch. He added, “This can be in the context of any sort of customer transaction, or any sort of interaction with the business.” Companies tend to use a variety of marketing tools, and Simon Data takes on the job of understanding the data and activities going on in each one. Then based on certain actions — such as, say, an abandoned shopping cart — it delivers a consistent message to the customer, regardless of the source of the data that triggered the action. They see this ability to pull together data as a customer data platform (CDP). In fact, part of its job is to aggregate data and use it as the basis of other activities. In this case, it involves activating actions you define based on what you know about the customer at any given moment in the process. As the company collects this data, it also sees an opportunity to use machine learning to create more automated and complex types of interactions. “There are a tremendous number of super complex problems we have to solve. Those include core platform or infrastructure, and we also have a tremendous opportunity in front of us on the predictive and data science side as well,” Davis said. He said that is one of the areas where they will put today’s money to work. The company, which launched in 2014, is based in NYC. The company currently has 87 employees in total, and that number is expected to grow with today’s announcement. Customers include Equinox, Venmo and WeWork. The company’s most recent funding round was a $20 million in July 2018.

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In an email distributed to YouTube Premium subscribers, the company confirmed that access to YouTube’s original programming will no longer be exclusive to Premium customers after September 24th, 2019. Instead, many of YouTube’s Original series, movies, and live events will be offered to all YouTube viewers for free, supported by ads. Premium members, however, can watch the content ad-free. In addition, Premium subscribers will have access to all the available episodes in a series right when they premiere, says YouTube, and they’ll be able to download them for offline viewing. There will also continue to be some exclusive subscriber-only content, in the form of things like director’s cuts and extra scenes from YouTube Originals. YouTube had previously announced its plans to make its original programming available for free back in May, following a larger shift in strategy for the video platform. According to a Deadline report from last November, YouTube had been reassessing its scripted development plans with a goal of refocusing on unscripted shows and specials. It had also stopped taking new scripted pitches. The company had found some success with scripted content, the report noted — like Cobra Kai which at the time had 100 million views and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. But the company was also finding success with celebrity content, like Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness and Will Smith’s Grand Canyon bungee stunt, for example. This is the direction YouTube may be aiming to pursue next, Deadline had said. Perhaps not coincidentally, Variety recently reported on a new crowdfunding service for YouTube creators, Fundo, which allows start to invite fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. However, this project is not from YouTube or Google itself, but rather its in-house incubator Area 120, which operates more independently. That said, it reflects YouTube’s larger interest in the creation of new revenue streams for creators beyond ads and subscriptions. Along with the news of the changes to YouTube Originals, the email to Premium subscribers also alerted them to the addition of a “Recommended Downloads” feature on the Library tab, which lets them browse and download videos from YouTube’s algorithmic suggestions. And it noted YouTube Music changes, like the ability to switch between video and audio and the launch of “smart downloads” which automatically download up to 500 songs from Liked Songs and other favorite playlists and albums.

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Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced today that it will launch an open blockchain project called Venus to develop regional stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies (or traditional currencies usually issued and backed by a government). Based in Malta, Binance launched its decentralized trading service, Binance Chain, earlier this year, and since then has issued stablecoins pegged to Bitcoin and the British pound. In its English-language announcement, Binance said Venus’ goal is “to empower developed and developing countries to spur new currencies,” but did not mention Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency project. In the Chinese-language version of its announcement, however, Binance went into more detail, stating that Venus is intended to be an “independent and autonomous, regional version of Libra.” While Libra’s goal is to create a global digital currency that allows people to avoid the fees associated with credit cards and remittance services, Binance says Venus’ objective is to enable developing countries to “have more financial autonomy” and “protect their financial security” by helping them create new digital currencies. But on Twitter, Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao clarified that the exchange is not positioning Venus as a rival to Libra. In a response to a tweet that said “Binance is ready to dominate the world by launching Project ‘Venus’ and rival Facebook’s Libra by developing localized stablecoins worldwide,” Zhao wrote “Pushing adoption, yes. Domination, no. Always happy to co-exist. In fact, this should help Libra, if you think about it. Will leave it at that.” Pushing adoption, yes. Domination, no. Always happy to co-exist. In fact, this should help Libra, if you think about it. Will leave it at that. https://t.co/HLSywLb2mi — CZ Binance (@cz_binance) August 19, 2019 Facebook is partnering with 27 companies to launch Libra, including PayPal, Visa, Coinbase, Uber and Mastercard, but Binance has not announced partners for Venus yet. Instead, the company’s announcement said it is “looking to create new alliances and partnerships with governments, corporations, technology companies and other cryptocurrency companies and projects involved in the larger blockchain ecosystem, to empower developed and developing countries to spur new currencies.”

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Apple is giving viewers their first extended look at “The Morning Show,” a drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. Previously, all that we’d seen from the show were a few brief clips in a broader promo for Apple’s upcoming subscription service TV+, followed by an ominous teaser trailer that was literally just shots of a TV control room, accompanied by audio clips where people talked about how incredibly  important the news business is. This trailer dials down the Aaron Sorkin vibe and sets up up a story where Aniston and Carrell are longtime hosts of a morning TV show — but Carrell gets fired, so a search for fresh talent leads the producers to a younger reporter played by Reese Witherspoon. While the story and characters appear to be fictional, they draw on the real-world drama depicted in Brian Stelter’s book “Top of the Morning.” “The Morning Show” is scheduled to debut sometime this fall on Apple TV+. This will likely to be one of the first titles on the service (which still doesn’t have an announced price or launch date), but Apple has a lot more content in the works. Apple unveils its subscription streaming service, Apple TV+

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Discovering and drilling for the important minerals used for industry and the technology sector remains incredibly important as existing mines are becoming depleted. If the mining industry can’t become more efficient at finding these important deposits, then more unnecessary, harmful drilling and exploration takes place. Applying AI to this problem would seem like a no-brainer for the environment. Andreessen Horowitz knows this, as they invested in KoBold Metals. GoldSpot Discoveries is a competitor. Joining this field is now Earth AI, a mineral targeting startup which is using AI to predict the location of new ore bodies far more cheaply, faster, and with more precision (it claims) than previous methods. It’s now closed a funding round of ‘up to’ $2.5 million from Gagarin Capital, A VC firm specializing in AI, and Y Combinator, in the latter’s latest cohort announced this week. Previously, Earth AI had raised $1.7 million in two seed rounds from Australian VCs, AirTree Ventures and Blackbird Ventures and angel investors. The startup uses machine learning techniques on global data, including remote sensing, radiometry, geophysical and geochemical datasets, to learn the data signatures related to industrial metal deposits (from gold, copper, and lead to rare earth elements), train a neural network, and predict where high-value mineral prospects will be. In particular, it was used to discover a deposit of Vanadium, which is used to build Vanadium Redox Batteries that are used in large industrial applications. Finding these deposits faster using AI means the planet will thus benefit faster from battery technology. In 2018, Earth AI field-tested remote unexplored areas and claims to have generated a 50X better success rate than traditional exploration methods, while spending on average $11,000 per prospect discovery. In Australia, for instance, companies often spend several million dollars to arrive at the same result. Jared Friedman, YCombinator partner comented in a statement: “The possibility of discovering new mineral deposits with AI is a fascinating and thought-provoking idea. Earth AI has the potential not just to become an incredibly profitable company, but to reduce the cost of the metals we need to build our civilization, and that has huge implications for the world.” “Earth AI is taking a novel approach to a large and important industry — and that approach is already showing tremendous promise”, Mikhail Taver, partner at Gagarin Capital said. Earth AI was founded by Roman Tesyluk, a geoscientist with eight years of mineral exploration and academic experience. Prior to starting Earth AI, he was a PhD Candidate at The University of Sydney, Australia and obtained a Master’s degree in Geology from Ivan Franko University, Ukraine. “EARTH AI has huge ambitions, and this funding round will supercharge us towards reaching our milestones,” he said. This latest investment from Gagarin Capital joins a line of other AI-based products and services and investments it’s made into YC companies, such as Wallarm, Gosu.AI and CureSkin. Gagarin’s exits include MSQRD (acquired by Facebook), and AIMatter (acquired by Google).

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The United States Department of Commerce announced this morning the addition of 46 Huawei affiliates to its Entity List. Effective today, the companies join more than 100 entries added to list over connections to the embattled Chinese consumer electronics giant. The DoC also used this morning’s news to announce an extension of its Temporary General License (TGL), which affords people and companies a limited time use of goods from Huawei an affiliate companies, in order to essentially wean them off of Huawei networking equipment. The license, which offers “narrow exceptions” is set to expire 90 days from today. In a statement provided to the press, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated, “As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption. Simultaneously, we are constantly working at the Department to ensure that any exports to Huawei and its affiliates do not violate the terms of the Entity Listing or Temporary General License.” Huawei has, of course, long denied any ties to security or spying accusations from the U.S. government. Recently stories, including alleged ties to African government spying have continued to shine a light on concerns about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. Those concerns have led to Huawei’s addition to the entities list, along with U.S. government bans on buying equipment. Per the DoC, Huawei was added to the Entity List after the Department concluded that the company is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests, including alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities. Losing access to American software and hardware could, in turn, have a devastating impact on the company. Notably Huawei recently unveiled HarmonyOS. The new mobile operating system is not yet an Android replacement, but is believed by many to be part of a long term strategy to wean itself off of dependence on Google. We have reached out to Huawei for comment.

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Disney+ will have an international launch that begins at the same time as its rollout in the U.S., Disney revealed. The company will be launching its digital streaming service on November 12 in Canada and The Netherlands on November 12, and will be coming to Australia and New Zealand the following week. The streaming service will also support virtually every device and operating system from day one. Disney+ will be available on iOS, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Android, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, and Xbox One at launch, which is pretty much an exhaustive list of everywhere someone might want to watch it, leaving aside some smaller proprietary smart TV systems. That, combined with the day-and-date global markets, should be a clear indicator that Disney wants its service to be available to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible. Through Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Apple TV devices, customers will be able to subscribe via in-app purchase. Disney+ will also be fully integrated with Apple’s TV app, which is getting an update in iOS 13 in hopes of becoming even more useful as a central hub for all a user’s video content. The one notable exception on the list of supported devices and platforms is Amazon’s Fire TV, which could change closer to launch depending on negotiations. In terms of pricing, the service will run $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year in Canada, and €6.99 per month (or €69.99 per year) in the Netherlands. In Australia, it’ll be $8.99 per month or $89.99 per year, and in New Zealand, it’ll be $9.99 and $99.99 per year. All prices are in local currency. That compares pretty well with the $6.99 per month (or $69.99 yearly) asking price in the U.S., and undercuts the Netflix pricing in those markets, too. This is just the Disney+ service on its own, however, not the combined bundle that includes ESPN Plus and Hulu for $12.99 per month, which is probably more comparable to Netflix in terms of breadth of content offering.  

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Sonos has an event coming up at the end of the month to reveal something new, but leaks have pretty much given away what’s likely to be the highlight announcement at the event: A new, Bluetooth-enabled speaker that has a built-in battery for portable power. The speaker originally leaked earlier this month, with Dave Zatz showing off a Avery official looking image, and The Verge reporting some addition details including a toggle switch for moving between Bluetooth and Wifi modes, and a USB-C port for charging, along with rough dimensions that peg it as a little bit bigger than the existing Sonos One. Now, another leak from Win Future has revealed yet more official-looking images, including a photo of the device with its apparent dock, which provides contact charging. The site also says the new speaker will be called the ‘Sonos Move,’ which makes a lot of sense, given it’ll be the only one that can actually move around and still maintain functionality while portable. [gallery ids="1870393,1870392"] Here’s TL;DR of what we know so far, across all the existing leaks: Can stream via Wi-Fi (works with your Sonos network like other Sonos speakers) and Bluetooth (direct pairing with devices), with Bluetooth LE included for easier setup USB-C port for power and Ethernet port for connectivity Similar design to Sonos One, with more rounded corners, but wider and taller (likely to allow room for integrated battery) Built in hand in the back for easier carrying Contacts on bottom for docked charging (as alternative to USB-C) Supports Alexa and Google Assistant and has integrated mic (neither available via Bluetooth mode, however) Suports AirPlay 2 Offer ‘Auto Trueplay,’ which automatically tunes speaker sound to your place using onboard mic No word yet on official availability or pricing, but it’s reasonable to expect that it’ll arrive sometime this fall, following that late August announcement.

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