Original Content podcast: ‘The Platform’ offers a gruesome metaphor for capitalism

“The Platform” is not a subtle movie. That’s true of its approach to horror, with intense, bloody scenes that prompted plenty of screaming and pausing from your hosts at the Original Content podcast. It’s also true of its thematic material — right around the time one of the characters accuses another of being communist, you’ll…

Startups Weekly: SaaS companies feel the churn but hope for a brighter tomorrow

[Editor’s note: Want to get this free weekly recap of TechCrunch news that startups can use by email? Subscribe here.]  There are a few online productivity stocks booming, and a few popular remote-first product companies still announcing funding rounds amid a huge new wave of unicorn layoffs. But what about the previously white-hot software-as-a-service category…

New guidance on SBA loans means most startups are still excluded from $349 billion stimulus

Under new guidance issued by the Small Business Administration it seems non-profits and faith-based groups can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to keep small business afloat during the COVID-19 epidemic, but most venture-backed companies are still not covered. Late Friday night, the Treasury Department updated its rules regarding the “affiliation” of private…

Why telehealth can’t significantly flatten the coronavirus curve—yet

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-Hennessy Scholar. His research addresses the effectiveness, economics, and ethics of (digital) health innovation. More posts by this contributor Why key performance indicators are crucial amidst a (public…

Cultivating adaptability is a pandemic coping skill

Jason Shen Contributor Share on Twitter Jason Shen is a three-time startup founder and the CEO of Midgame, a gaming technology company backed by Techstars and Betaworks. It’s no secret that adaptability has become a critical trait for knowledge workers. To stay on top of a rapidly evolving world, we must assess new situations, make…

This Week in Apps: Zoom has issues, Pinterest founder’s new COVID-19 research app, record Q1 spending

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all. The app industry saw a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s “State of Mobile” annual report. People are…

Zoom admits some calls were routed through China by mistake

Hours after security researchers at Citizen Lab reported that some Zoom calls were routed through China, the video conferencing platform has offered an apology and a partial explanation. To recap, Zoom has faced a barrage of headlines this week over its security policies and privacy practices, as hundreds of millions forced to work from home…

Before suing NSO Group, Facebook allegedly sought their software to better spy on users

Facebook’s WhatsApp is in the midst of a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance outfit NSO Group. But before complaining about the company’s methods, Facebook seems to have wanted to use them for its own purposes, according to testimony from NSO founder Shalev Hulio. Last year brought news of an exploit that could be used to…

As tech layoffs surge, some support emerges for those without a job

The massive surge of COVID-19-related layoffs has put tech in a unique position. While the startup world is facing layoffs itself, it is also trying to help get people back to work. Back at the end of 2019, the SoftBank-backed belt-tightening period led to a flurry of crowdsourced spreadsheets with employee names from companies like…

Zelos is like a cross-game battle pass, rewarding you for completing challenges in games you already play

People seem to love the concept of the battle pass. Largely popularized by Fortnite, battle passes reward players for playing well, and playing often. The better you do, the more XP you earn; the more XP you earn, the more stuff (new looks for your character, or victory dances to fire off at the end…

ZmURL customizes Zoom link previews with images & event sites

Sick of sharing those generic Zoom video call invites that all look the same? Wish your Zoom link preview’s headline and image actually described your meeting? Want to protect your Zoom calls from trolls by making attendees RSVP to get your link? ZmURL.com has you covered. Launching today, ZmURL is a free tool that lets…

Google research makes for an effortless robotic dog trot

As capable as robots are, the original animals after which they tend to be designed are always much, much better. That’s partly because it’s difficult to learn how to walk like a dog directly from a dog — but this research from Google’s AI labs make it considerably easier. The goal of this research, a…

Want to survive the downturn? Better build a platform

When you look at the most successful companies in the world, they are almost never just one simple service. Instead, they offer a platform with a range of services and an ability to connect to it to allow external partners and developers to extend the base functionality that the company provides. Aspiring to be a…

Pandemic puts the brakes on micromobility

As of this writing, nearly a million people globally have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 50,322 have died. Healthcare systems are overwhelmed, consumers and profiteers are hoarding supplies and some service workers have launched strikes while many others have been let go. In the world of micromobility, we’ve seen Bird lay off hundreds…

Zoom will enable waiting rooms by default to stop Zoombombing

Zoom is making some drastic changes to prevent rampant abuse as trolls attack publicly-shared video calls. Starting April 5th, it will require passwords to enter calls via Meeting ID, since these may be guessed or reused. Meanwhile, it will change virtual waiting rooms to be on by default so hosts have to manually admit attendees.…

Stocks drop as unemployment spikes

Stocks fell in regular trading Friday, as all major American indices fell in the wake of a broadly negative jobs report. With more than 700,000 jobs lost in the March data, unemployment in the United States rose from 3.5% to 4.4%. The markets have been bracing for widespread job losses due to the continued fallout…

The pandemic is already reshaping tech’s misinformation crisis

Since 2016, social media companies have faced an endless barrage of bad press and public criticism for failing to anticipate how their platforms could be used for dark purposes at the scale of populations—undermining democracies around the world, say, or sowing social division and even fueling genocide. As COVID-19 plunges the world into chaos and…

‘Artemis Fowl’ is skipping theaters for Disney+

With movie theaters largely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney is pushing back its slate of upcoming films. And at least one movie won’t be making it into theaters at all, with “Artemis Fowl” heading straight to streaming instead. The company announced today that that the film will debut exclusively on Disney+, and that…

Google rolls back SameSite cookie changes to keep essential online services from breaking

Google today announced that it will temporarily roll back the changes it recently made to how its Chrome browser handles cookies in order to ensure that sites that perform essential services like banking, online grocery, government services and healthcare won’t become inaccessible to Chrome users during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The new SameSite rules, which…

How Homage is tackling Southeast Asia’s growing eldercare need

The world’s population is aging, but the needs of elderly people are still being underserved. A United Nations report found that older people make up more than one-fifth of the population in 17 countries, and by 2100, a majority of the world’s population, or 61%, will be aged 60 and above. One of the most…

GM and Honda are co-developing two new electric vehicles due to arrive in 2024

GM and Honda will jointly develop two new electric vehicles slated for 2024, the latest move by the two automakers to deepen their existing partnership. Under the plan, the automakers will focus on their respective areas of expertise. Honda will design the exterior and interiors of the new electric vehicles; GM will contribute its new…

Insight closes $9.5B fund to help support portfolio companies through the pandemic crunch

We’re now several weeks into what has become a very big dip for the global economy due to the coronavirus pandemic, but amidst that, we are seeing are some notable pockets of investment activity emerging that will help shape how the future startup landscape will look. Today, one of the biggest venture capital firms in…

Sleep apnea retrofit designed by doctors and engineers could help address ventilator shortage

The FDA has been working to adapt its policies and restrictions to respond to the growing need for unconventional solutions like shortages of medical equipment needed for treating COVID-19 patients. A group of doctors, engineers and medical researchers from UC Berkeley, UCSF and working hospitals has devised a creative solution to the ventilator shortage they’re…

Germany’s Xpension pension platform raises €25M in A Series C growth round

The German pension and insurance industry was a laggard in the world of online a few years ago, but in recent times it has quickly caught up. There’s further evidence of this trend with the news that Xpension (trading as xbAV), an online platform for pensions and life insurance, has raised €25 million in its…

Daily Crunch: Google publishes coronavirus mobility reports

Google uses its ad-tracking data to provide a glimpse at how the world is responding to coronavirus, the CDC changes its tune on face masks and Apple accidentally reveals that AirTags are coming. Here’s your Daily Crunch for April 3, 2020. 1. Google is now publishing coronavirus mobility reports, feeding off users’ location history Google…

Emergent BioSolutions gets $14.5M in federal funding to expedite COVID-19 plasma therapy development

Last week, we spoke to the head of Emergent BioSolutions’ Therapeutics Business Unit Dr. Laura Saward about her company’s work developing plasma-based potential treatments for COVID-19. Now, the company announced that it has received $14.5 million in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is part of the U.S. Department of…

Bustle Digital Group shuts down The Outline as part of broader layoffs

Bustle Digital Group, owner of a portfolio of digital media properties including Bustle itself, says it laid off two dozen staffers today. That includes eliminating the entire staff of The Outline, a culture site that it acquired a year ago. In a statement, a BDG spokesperson said the company will continue to host The Outline’s archives,…

Join prolific enterprise/SaaS seed investor Jonathan Lehr April 6 at 2pm EDT for a live conference call

It’s a tough fundraising environment out there, but one of the few glimmers of hope lies in the enterprise and SaaS markets. Critical customer problems + recurring revenues is probably where you want to be right now to weather the storm that’s hitting the startup world these days. That’s why we are excited to bring…

OctoML raises $15M to make optimizing ML models easier

OctoML, a startup founded by the team behind the Apache TVM machine learning compiler stack project, today announced that it has raised a $15 million Series A round led by Amplify, with participation from Madrone Ventures, which led its $3.9 million seed round. The core idea behind OctoML and TVM is to use machine learning…

NASA details how it plans to establish a sustained human presence on the Moon

NASA’s Artemis program aims to bring humans back to the Moon, with the goal of staying there for good in the interest of pursuing additional science and exploration missions, including to Mars. But how will the agency actually make it possible for people to remain on the Moon for longer-term science missions? NASA has provided…

27 TV show recommendations from TechCrunch while you’re stuck at home

With shelter-in-place orders worldwide, it’s never been a better time to curl up on the couch and loss oneself in a TV show. That’s what we’re doing. Some TechCrunch staffers are watching perennial favorites like The Wire or The West Wing or Gilmore Girls. Others are trying new shows like Devs or McMillions. The Covid-19…

The pendulum will swing away from founder friendly venture raises

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. This morning brought fresh economic bad news for the U.S. economy, with over 700,000 jobs lost in the latest report, despite the window of time measured not including some of March’s worst days, and the…

Valispace raises $2.4M lead by JOIN Capital to become the ‘Github for hardware’

Hardware engineering is mostly document-based. A typical satellite might be described in several hundred thousand PDF documents, spreadsheets, simulation files and more; all potentially inconsistent between each other. This can lead to costly mistakes. NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because one engineering team used metric units while another used English units, for instance.…

In the wake of COVID-19, UK puts up £20M in grants to develop resilient tech for critical industries

Most of the world — despite the canaries in the coal mine — was unprepared to cope with the coronavirus outbreak that’s now besieging us. Now, work is starting to get underway both to help manage what is going on now and better prepare us in the future. In the latest development, the UK government today…

Google is now publishing coronavirus mobility reports, feeding off users’ location history

Google is giving the world a clearer glimpse of exactly how much it knows about people everywhere — using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to repackage its persistent tracking of where users go and what they do as a public good in the midst of a pandemic. In a blog post today the tech…

Keeping the score on Zoom

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. How are you holding up? Are you keeping up? And most importantly, are you hydrating yourself? There’s so much news lately that we’re all falling a bit behind, but, hey, that’s what Equity is for. So, Natasha, Danny,…

Apple brings its hardware microphone disconnect feature to iPads

Apple has brought its hardware microphone disconnect security feature to its latest iPads. The microphone disconnect security feature aims to make it far more difficult for hackers to use malware or a malicious app to eavesdrop on a device’s surroundings. The feature was first introduced to Macs by way of Apple’s T2 security chip last…

Longtime VC Neil Sequeira: funding founders without in-person meetings is ‘quite difficult’

Neil Sequeira was a managing director with General Catalyst for more than 13 years before co-founding early-stage firm Defy several years ago with another veteran of the industry, Trae Vassallo, who’d spent the dozen years prior with Kleiner Perkins. We caught up with Sequeira yesterday afternoon and discussed whether he’s seeing valuations come down and…

SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype fails under pressure testing

The process of designing, testing and building an entirely new spacecraft is definitely a difficult one, and bound to encounter some issues. SpaceX’s efforts to build Starship, its massive new fully reusable spaceship, is no exception. The most recent Starship prototype, designated “SN3,” failed catastrophically during cryogenic proof testing, which is designed to simulate pressures…

Forward Partners launches Forward Advances, a revenue-based finance solution for startups

Forward Partners, the early-stage venture fund and startup studio, has long offered something a little different to the U.K’s tech startup ecosystem, and today the VC is continuing that trend with the launch of “Forward Advances,” a revenue-based finance solution for startups that need to bolster marketing. Aimed at “fast-growing” e-commerce, marketplace and B2C SaaS…

Nordic challenger bank Lunar adds €20M to its Series B

Lunar, the Nordic challenger bank that started out life as a personal finance manager app (PFM) but since acquired a full banking license last year, has extended it Series B round with an additional €20 million in funding. It brings the Series B total to €46 million, having disclosed €26 million in August last year.…

Peloton launches an Android TV app

With gyms across the country closed for business, at-home exercise companies like Peloton have found an unexpected opportunity. As the connected fitness company looks to onboard new customers, they’re also expanding platform support, announcing today that they would be bringing their app to Android TV, the OS used by millions of smart TVs. Peloton announced…

CDC is expected to tell Americans to wear cloth masks, save medical masks for health workers

On Thursday, the White House said that it will likely soon adjust previous guidelines that discouraged non-health workers from wearing face masks. The change would be issued as “guidance” from the CDC, but according to the president—who continues to hesitate at exerting federal power during the COVID-19 crisis—it will not be made mandatory. Supplies of…

Using AI responsibly to fight the coronavirus pandemic

Mark Minevich Contributor Share on Twitter Mark Minevich is president of Going Global Ventures, an advisor at Boston Consulting Group, a digital fellow at IPsoft and a leading global AI expert and digital cognitive strategist and venture capitalist. More posts by this contributor The American AI Initiative: A good first step, of many Irakli Beridze…

FCC enacts $200M telehealth initiative to ease COVID-19 burden on hospitals

The FCC has developed and approved a $200 million program to fund telehealth services and devices for medical providers, just a week or so after the funding was announced. Hospitals and other health centers will be able to apply for up to $1 million to cover the cost of new devices, services and personnel. The…

You can now buy AWS’ $99 DeepComposer keyboard

AWS today announced that its DeepComposer keyboard is now available for purchase. And no, DeepComposer isn’t a mechanical keyboard for hackers but a small MIDI keyboard for working with the AWS DeepComposer service that uses AI to create songs based on your input. First announced at AWS re:Invent 2019, the keyboard created a bit of…

White House says it is ordering more companies to make ventilators

With the national stockpile of inventory of life-saving healthcare equipment getting dangerously close to zero, President Trump on Thursday signaled that he will leverage a key national security provision to order additional companies to produce ventilators. Trump’s reluctance to employ the law known as the Defense Production Act (DPA) has puzzled many as the administration…

The space in between: The stratosphere

Tess Hatch Contributor Share on Twitter Tess Hatch hopes to travel to space, in the meantime she is a venture investor at Bessemer Venture Partners, investing in frontier tech. More posts by this contributor Space is open for business We have airplanes and drones in our airspace and satellites in space, but what about the…

HBO makes some top shows, movies, and documentaries free to stream on HBO NOW and HBO GO

Giving people even more of a reason to stay home and follow the social distancing measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the US, HBO said it would be making 500 hours of programming free to stream over HBO NOW and HBO Go without a subscription starting Friday, April 3. Shows that audiences…

Pinterest CEO and a team of leading scientists launch a self-reporting COVID-19 tracking app

There have been a few scattered efforts to leverage crowd-sourced self-reporting of symptoms as a way to potentially predict and chart the progress of COVID-19 across the U.S., and around the world. A new effort looks like the most comprehensive, well-organized and credibly backed yet, however – and it’s been developed in part by Pinterest…

U.S. markets shrug off record unemployment numbers as tech shares rise

Despite reports of historic unemployment with roughly 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment, domestic stocks rose during regular trading today. One day after grim estimates on the potential death toll from the COVID-19 epidemic in the US sent stocks tumbling and amid a continuing economic fallout from the government’s response to slow the spread of…

Tesla delivers 88,400 electric vehicles, beating expectations

Tesla delivered 88,400 vehicles in the first quarter, beating most analysts expectations despite a 21% decrease from the previous quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic put downward pressure on demand and created logistical challenges. Tesla said Thursday it produced 103,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter, about 2% lower than the previous period. The deliveries and production…

Flagship Pioneering raises $1.1 billion to spend on sustainability and health-focused biotech

Flagship Pioneering, the Boston-based biotech company incubator and holding company, said it has raised $1.1 billion for its Flagship Labs unit. Flagship, which raised $1 billion back in 2019 for growth stage investment vehicles, develops and operates startups that leverage biotechnology innovation to provide goods and services that improve human health and promote sustainable industries.…

Henry Ford Health System to conduct first large U.S. study of hydroxychloroquine’s ability to prevent COVID-19

Despite false assertions by the President to the contrary, any potential treatments to counter or prevent COVID-19 are still only at the stage of early investigations, which include one-off treatment with special individual case authorizations, and small-scale clinical examinations. Nothing so far has approached the level of scrutiny needed to actually say anything definitively about…

Instacart to provide shoppers with face masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers

Instacart will start providing health and safety kits to its full-service shoppers. These kits will include a face mask, hand sanitizer and a thermometer, the company announced today. The kits will be available for free to shoppers starting next week. Shoppers, according to Instacart, will be able to request a kit by registering with their…

Activity-monitoring startup Zensors repurposes its tech to help coronavirus response

Computer vision techniques used for commercial purposes are turning out to be valuable tools for monitoring people’s behavior during the present pandemic. Zensors, a startup that uses machine learning to track things like restaurant occupancy, lines, and so on, is making its platform available for free to airports and other places desperate to take systematic…

Apple accidentally confirms the existence of an unreleased product, AirTags

Whoops! Apple inadvertently revealed the existence of an unreleased product, AirTags, in a support video uploaded to its YouTube account today. The video, “How to erase your iPhone,” offers a tutorial about resetting an iPhone to factory settings. Around the 1:43 mark, it instructs users to turn off “Find my iPhone” as part of the…

Disney debuts its streaming service in India

Disney+ has arrived in the land of Bollywood. The company on Friday (local time) rolled out its eponymous streaming service in India through Hotstar, a popular on-demand video streamer it picked up as part of the Fox deal. To court users in India, the largest open entertainment market in Asia, Disney is charging users 1,499…

Apple, Laurene Powell Jobs and Leonardo DiCaprio launch a GoFundMe with $12M for the hungry

Apple has made a donation to a new fundraising campaign, America’s Food Fund, along with Laurene Powell Jobs, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Ford Foundation. Together, they’ve contributed $12 million toward the $15 million goal for the new initiative being hosted on fundraising platform GoFundMe. The proceeds will go to benefit World Central Kitchen and Feeding…

Visa’s Africa strategy banks on startup partnerships

Visa has prioritized growth in Africa, and partnering with startups is central to its strategy. This became obvious in 2019 after the global financial services giant entered a series of collaborations on the continent, but Visa confirmed it in their 2020 Investor Day presentation. On the company’s annual call, participants mentioned Africa 28 times and…

Estimote launches wearables for workplace-level contact tracing for COVID-19

Bluetooth location beacon startup Estimote has adapted its technological expertise to develop a new product designed specifically at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The company created a new range of wearable devices that co-founder Steve Cheney believes can enhance workplace safety for those who have to be colocated at a physical workplace even while social…

IRL pivots into virtual event calendar In Remote Life

What do you do if you’re an event discovery startup and suddenly it’s illegal to attend events? You lean into the cultural shift and pivot. Today, $11 million-funded calendar app IRL is morphing from In Real Life to In Remote Life. It will now focus on helping people find, RSVP for, plan, share and chat…

Modsy confirms layoffs, 10 months after announcing its $37M Series C

Modsy, an e-commerce company that creates 3D renderings of customized rooms, has confirmed to TechCrunch that it laid off a number of staff. In addition, several of its executives, including CEO Shanna Tellerman, will take a 25% pay cut. TechCrunch first heard about the layoffs from a source. The company’s confirmation of cuts comes amid…

Lending startups are angling for new business from the COVID-19 bailout

As the largest federal stimulus package in the history of the United States, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, injects a planned $2.2 trillion into the U.S. economy, fintech startups are angling to get a seat at the table when it comes to distributing the cash. “In the last crisis, banks stepped away…

NASA and SpaceX add some retro flare to the Falcon 9 rocket flying the first crewed Dragon launch

NASA and SpaceX are moving ahead full-steam with the Demo-2 launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft — the first launch from American soil to carry astronauts to space aboard a private launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 rocket that will propel the Crew Dragon to space will include a NASA logo that has been — technically…

Daily Crunch: Amazon announces new warehouse safety steps

Amazon says it will start taking additional steps to ensure the safety of its warehouse workers, SoftBank backs out of its latest WeWork investment and Zoom tries to fix its security issues. Here’s your Daily Crunch for April 2, 2020. 1. Amazon begins running temperature checks and will provide surgical masks at warehouses Amazon has…

Google Cloud launches a managed Memcached service

Google today announced the beta of Memorystore for Memcached, a new service that provides a fully managed in-memory datastore that is compatible with the open-source Memcached protocol. It will join Redis in the Memorystore family, which first launched in 2018. As Gopal Ashok, Google’s product manager for Memorystore notes in today’s announcement, Redis remains a…

ARCH Venture Partners raises $1.46 billion across two funds for biotech investing

Against a backdrop where the life-or-death consequences of biotechnology innovation are becoming increasingly apparent as the world races to develop vaccines and therapies to treat COVID-19, life sciences investor ARCH Venture Partners has raised $1.46 billion in funding to finance new tech development. The two funds, ARCH Venture Fund X and ARCH Venture Fund X…

Consumers spent record $23.4 billion on apps in Q1 2020, thanks to being stuck indoors

Time spent in mobile apps has been surging, as people stuck at home due to the coronavirus outbreak have been turning to apps to do their shopping, manage their finances, find new exercises, work from home, and stay entertained. According to new data from App Annie, released today, Q1 2020 was the largest-ever quarter in…

Virgin Orbit announces new plans for first Asian spaceport in Oita, Japan

Virgin Orbit may be focusing its production efforts right now on making ventilators to support healthcare workers battling COVID-19, but it’s also still making moves to build out the infrastructure that will underpin its small satellite launch business. To that end, the new space company unveiled a new partnership with Oita Prefecture in Japan to…

T-Mobile customers on unlimited wireless family plans get a free year of Quibi

T-Mobile this morning officially announced its exclusive partnership with the new streaming service, Quibi, set to launch on April 6. The service will be made available for free for a year to T-Mobile customers on its unlimited wireless family plans. The streaming service, founded by Hollywood media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, has been specifically built for…

Forward launches ‘Forward At Home’ primary care service to address COVID-19 healthcare crunch

The global coronavirus pandemic has already caused a tremendous strain on healthcare resources around the world, and it’s leading to a shift in how healthcare is offered. Startup Forward, which debuted in 2016 and has since expanded its tech-focused primary care medical practice to locations in major cities across the U.S., is launching a new…

Venture-backed Celularity receives FDA approval for early trials of a new cell therapy for COVID-19

Celularity, the venture-backed developer of novel cell therapies for cancer treatments, has received an initial clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to begin early-stage clinical trials on a potential treatment for COVID-19. The company, which has raised at least $290 million to date (according to Crunchbase), uses “Natural Killer” (NK) cell therapies to boost…

Amazon begins running temperature checks and will provide surgical masks at warehouses

Amazon has detailed someone  measures its taking to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 at its warehouse facilities in the U.S. and Europe, according to Reuters, including taking temperature checks and distributing facemasks to employees at Amazon warehouses and Whole Foods stores. The commerce giant has seen a dramatic increase in demand as countries and…

Jim Fruchterman raises $1.7M for Tech Matters, a new effort to help nonprofits do tech better

Social entrepreneurship pioneer Jim Fruchterman has launched a new nonprofit, Tech Matters, with $1.7 million in backing from corporate and foundation sources, including Twilio, Okta, Working Capital, Facebook and Schmidt Futures. Tech Matters is Fruchterman’s new vehicle to address what he sees as a crippling weakness in the social good sector: the failure to use…

A bug bounty alone won’t save your startup — here’s why

In this world, there is no such thing as perfect security. Every app or service you use — even the websites you visit — have security bugs. Companies go through repeated rounds of testing, code reviews and audits — sometimes even bringing in third-parties. Bugs get missed — that’s life, and it happens — but…

Facebook Messenger launches Mac & Windows apps

Facebook Messenger is finally getting desktop apps almost 9 years after its debut. After seeing over a 100% increase in desktop browser audio and video calling, Messenger today releases its Mac and Windows desktop apps. They bring the same features as the browser version, but make it easier to keep your chat threads handy than…

Luckin Coffee’s board initiates investigation into $300M potential fraud

China-based Luckin Coffee, the fastest growing growing coffee brand in the world, has dazzled VCs, public market investors and frankly us over the years with its dizzyingly high growth, expanding from a handful of stores and delivery kiosks to tens of thousands in a just a few years, quickly outpacing Starbucks’ aggressive expansion in the…

Disney+ beat Netflix in recent US downloads (report)

Netflix may still dominate global streaming, but Disney+ has made a huge splash in the United States, where it launched in November. That much was pretty clear already, and other reports have already suggested that Disney+ was the most downloaded app and biggest search trend in the United States last year. Now a new report from…

SaaS growth appears to slow as churn concerns rise

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. Yesterday we explored what the SaaS world thinks about churn. A cohort of SaaS executives surveyed by Gainsight are expecting medium-bad churn (our take on their reported forecasts); select software companies will see booming demand;…

How 6 top VCs are adapting to the new uncertainty

As the global economy grinds to a halt, every business sector has been impacted, including the linked worlds of startups and venture capital. But how much has really changed? If you read VC Twitter, you might think that nothing has changed at all. It’s not hard to find investors who say they are still cutting…

CIOs are dead tired of dumb tech. Pulse has $6.5M to help them help each other

The technology that runs our companies these days is staggering in its complexity. We have moved from a monolith to a microservices world, from boxes to SaaS, and while that has added agility to the enterprise, it has come at the cost of a metric f-ton of services and software platforms required by every team…

Cloudflare CEO pledges to double 2020 internship class

Internet security company Cloudflare has pledged to double its Summer 2020 internship class, and make the entire program remote if necessary, in response to cancellations of internships programs across the country due to COVID-19. Yelp, Funding Circle, StubHub and other companies have terminated their internship programs and hiring, citing the uncertainty of COVID-19’s impact on…

Collibra nabs another $112.5M at a $2.3B valuation for its big data management platform

GDPR and other data protection and privacy regulations — as well as a significant (and growing) number of data breaches and exposées of companies’ privacy policies — have put a spotlight on not just on the vast troves of data that businesses and other organizations hold on us, but also how they handle it. Today,…

Scoutbee launches free tool to help organisations search for COVID-19 support-related supplies

Scoutbee, the supplier discovery platform, has rolled out a new free tool for organisations helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic and who are in need of critical supplies. Targeting NGOs, public bodies, local and national governments and healthcare providers, the platform does real-time analysis of terabytes of global supply chain data to significantly speed up…

Ikea acquires AI imaging startup Geomagical Labs to supercharge room visualisations

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings and decor giant, has been one of the leaders among retailers when it comes to adapting to tech innovations that impact its business, being one of the first to launch augmented reality applications, partnering with others to develop smart home devices and launching a business unit to build that out…

SoftBank terminates $3BN tender offer for WeWork shares

SoftBank Group has pulled a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares — citing closing conditions not being met. The investment behemoth had been rumoured to be getting cold feet, when the WSJ reported last month that it was using regulatory investigations as a way to back out of its commitment to buy $3BN in…

Zoom freezes feature development to fix security and privacy issues

Zoom has been widely criticized over the past couple of weeks for terrible security, a poorly designed screensharing feature, misleading dark pattern, fake end-to-end-encryption claims and an incomplete privacy policy. Despite that, the video conferencing service has attracted a ton of new users thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns around the world — the company reached…

Encore’s musical messages let you commission a video performance to send to loved ones

Encore, the U.K. marketplace that lets you find and book a musician or band online for your event, is launching a new online product to help musicians find an additional revenue stream during the coronavirus pandemic, and bring a little joy to all of us. Dubbed musical messages, the new offering lets you pay one…

Money transfer service Azimo partners with Siam Commercial Bank for faster payments to Thailand

Azimo, the London-headquartered international money transfer service, has partnered with Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) to deliver instant payments for its customers from Europe to SCB bank accounts in Thailand. According to the World Bank, Thailand is one of the top remittance destinations globally, with $6.7 billion received from abroad each year, and Azimo says…

Flux and Pleo partner to bring itemised digital receipts to Pleo’s ‘smart’ expense cards

When three former employees of Revolut founded Flux in 2016, the mission was clear: build a platform to bridge the gap between the itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information typically shows up in your bank statement or mobile banking app. Off the back of this, the young…

Google to shut down its India-focused Q&A app Neighbourly

Google is shutting down Neighbourly, a Q&A social app that it launched in Mumbai two years ago, the company has informed users. The app, developed by company’s Next Billion Initiative, aimed to give local communities an outlet to seek answers to practical questions about life, routine and more. At the time of the app’s launch,…

“A perfect storm for first time managers,” say VCs with their own shops (and who have advice)

Until very recently, it had begun to seem like anyone with a thick enough checkbook and some key contacts in the startup world could not only fund companies as an angel investor but even put himself or herself in business as a fund manager. It helped that the world of venture fundamentally changed and opened…

Proposed amendments to the Volcker Rule could be a lifeline for venture firms hit by market downturn

In the wake of the financial crisis, Congress passed regulations limiting the types of investments that banks could make into private equity and venture capital funds. As cash strapped investors pull back on commitments to venture funds given the precipitous drop of public market stocks, loosening restrictions on the how banks invest cash could be…

Detroit to be first to deploy Abbott Labs’ 5-minute COVID-19 test, mayor says

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said today on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show that the city of Detroit is on track to be the first city to deploy Abbott Labs’ five-minute COVID-19 test. The mayor said the test would be available for first responders. The goal, he said, was to test those first responders who are self-isolating…

Mobile payments firms in India are now scrambling to make money

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and chief executive of India’s most valuable startup, Paytm, posed an existential question in a recent press conference. “What do you think of the commercial model for digital mobile payments. How do we make money?” Sharma asked Nandan Nilekani, one of the key architects of the Universal Payments Infrastructure that created…

Original Content podcast: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ launches with a bumpy, memorable season

Star Trek TV shows generally take a while to get good — but if any of them was going to have a strong start, you’d think it’d be “Star Trek: Picard.” After all, it returns Patrick Stewart to the role that made him famous, that of one-time Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard. Plus, the writing team…

“Content network effect” makes TikTok tough to copy

Many TikTok videos don’t start from scratch, so neither can its competitors. TikTok is all about remixes, where users shoot a new video to recontextualize audio pulled from someone else’s clip, or riff on an existing meme or concept. That only works because TikTok’s had time to build up an immense armory of content from…

In a significant change, Apple customers can now buy or rent titles directly in the Prime Video app

Amazon has made it easier for Apple customers to buy or rent movies from its Prime Video app with a recent update. Before, customers using the Prime Video app from an iOS device or Apple TV would have to first purchase or rent the movie elsewhere — like through the Amazon website or a Prime…

This adorable tiny record maker lets you cut your own 5-inch vinyl singles

Vinyl has been coming back for the last few years, but unlike MP3s, CDs, or even cassette tapes (also coming back), records aren’t easy to record on your own. This tiny toy record maker makes it easy, though you probably shouldn’t expect that famous vinyl sound quality. The Easy Record Maker was created by designer…

An EU coalition of techies is backing a ‘privacy-preserving’ standard for COVID-19 contacts tracing

A European coalition of techies and scientists drawn from at least eight countries, and led by Germany’s Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute for telecoms (HHI), is working on contacts-tracing proximity technology for COVID-19 that’s designed to comply with the region’s strict privacy rules — officially unveiling the effort today. China-style individual-level location-tracking of people by states…

NASA issues agency-wide crowdsourcing call for ideas around COVID-19 response

There’s crowdsourcing a problem, and then there’s crowdsourcing a problem within NASA, where some of the smartest, most creative and resourceful problem-solvers in the world solve real-world challenges daily as part of their job. That’s why it’s uplifting to hear that NASA has issued a call to its entire workforce to come up with potential…

LinkedIn’s making its job listing tools free to those recruiting to fight the coronavirus pandemic

Like many other websites at the moment, the career-oriented networking platform LinkedIn has seen a big boost in traffic as a result of people being asked to work from home and stay indoors overall to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with a bump of 55% more conversational activity between existing connections in recent weeks.…

Notion hits $2 billion valuation in new raise

Notion, a startup that operates a workplace productivity platform, has raised $50 million from Index Ventures and other investors at a $2 billion valuation, the company told The New York Times. A Notion spokesperson confirmed the raise and valuation to TechCrunch. As startups across the board begin looking at layoffs or raising at less than…

Stocks fall sharply as U.S. government warns of hard weeks ahead

A recent redbound in domestic equity prices faded further into the distance today, as American stocks fell for a second consecutive day following modest Tuesday declines. After rising from new 52 week lows, all domestic indices after the American president warned of difficult weeks ahead as the country reels from the economic and social impacts…

Self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski files motion to force Uber into arbitration

Anthony Levandowski, the star self-driving car engineer who was at the center of a trade secrets lawsuit, has filed a motion to compel Uber into arbitration in the hopes that his former employee will have to shoulder the cost of at least part of the $179 million judgment against him. The motion to compel arbitration…

Olive, a startup developing an automation tool for healthcare administration, raises $51 million

Time is money as the old adage goes, and this is doubly true in healthcare systems operating with thin margins now made even thinner thanks to the loss of revenue caused by a freeze on elective procedures. Stepping in with a technology that automates much of the time-consuming backend processes hospitals and healthcare providers need…

Audible has the first Harry Potter audiobook (as read by Stephen Fry!) up for free right now

If you’ve ever tried to buy the Harry Potter audiobooks, you probably noticed something kind of tricky: there are two very different versions. The version most widely available in the U.S. is narrated by Jim Dale. The U.K. version is read by Stephen Fry. Which is better? I won’t get into that — that’s something…

Nextdoor updates its app to allow businesses to link to fundraisers, gift cards and more

Neighborhood social networking app Nextdoor is rolling out a few changes focused on supporting local businesses. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses to close their doors, sometimes for good, while others are struggling to stay afloat. As a result, many Nextdoor users have been posting on the app asking how they can help support…

A former chaos engineer offers 5 tips for handling online disasters remotely

Kolton Andrus Contributor Share on Twitter Kolton is co-founder and CEO of Gremlin, the chaos engineering company helping the world build a more reliable internet. I recently had a scheduled video conference call with a Fortune 100 company. Everything on my end was ready to go; my presentation was prepared and well-practiced. I was set…

Palantir provides COVID-19 tracking software to CDC and NHS, pitches European health agencies

As the floor drops out from under many startups, some tech companies are finding a path forward by meeting new government needs. Among them is Palantir, a secretive government-friendly big data operation that’s able to ingest vast amounts of information to visualize trends and track individuals — useful tasks as the spread of COVID-19 threatens…

Okta launches Lifecycle Management Workflows to make building identity-centric processes easy

Okta, the popular identity and access management service, today used its annual (and now virtual) user conference to launch Lifecycle Management Workflows, a new tool that helps IT teams build and manage IFTTT-like automated processes with the help of an easy to use graphical interface. The new service is an extension of Okta’s existing automation…

Daily Crunch: Zoom faces security scrutiny

Researchers reveal a number of security issues with videoconferencing app Zoom, investors warn Indian startups of tough times ahead and Uber Eats expands its grocery options internationally. Here’s your Daily Crunch for April 1, 2020. 1. Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all Zoom’s recent popularity has shone a spotlight on the company’s security protections…

WarnerMedia’s new boss is former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar

Hulu co-founder and former chief executive Jason Kilar has been named the new chief executive of WarnerMedia . It’s the latest executive reshuffling at the AT&T-owned media giant, which saw its previous CEO, John Stankey, promoted to president and chief operating officer while still holding the media subsidiary’s reins. Stankey will remain in those roles,…

Venture debt’s new reality: ‘The last thing we want is management walking away from a company’

Maurice Werdegar is the longtime CEO of venture debt shop Western Technology Investment, one of the most active venture debt lenders in the U.S. It’s also one of the older firms, having loaned out money for roughly 40 years to startups that needed to achieve certain milestones, reach profitability or wanted additional runway and didn’t…

ImmunityBio and Microsoft team up to precisely model how key COVID-19 protein leads to infection

An undertaking that involved combining massive amounts of graphics processing power could provide key leverage for researchers looking to develop potential cures and treatments for the novel coronavirus behind the current global pandemic. Immunotherapy startup ImmunityBio is working with Microsoft’s Azure to deliver a combined 24 petaflops of GPU computing capability for the purposes of…

T-Mobile officially completes merger with Sprint, CEO John Legere steps down ahead of schedule

After months of regulatory maneuvering, T-Mobile and Sprint officially completed their $26 billion merger today. The new combined parent company is called T-Mobile and will now trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TMUS with Sprint no longer trading on the NYSE. For consumers, it will seemingly take a little time before the effects…

DoorDash now delivers from over 1,800 convenience stores nationwide

DoorDash announced today it’s expanding beyond food to also deliver from convenience stores, like 7-Eleven, Wawa, Circle K, Casey’s General Store and others. The service is partnering with more than 1,800 convenience store locations across the U.S. in order to provide easy access to household essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies and over-the-counter medicine, as…

Scaleway launches managed Kubernetes clusters

Cloud hosting company Scaleway has launched Kubernetes Kapsule, a new service that lets you manage Kubernetes clusters on Scaleway’s infrastructure. The service works with a wide range of Scaleway instances and lets you create large clusters that scale depending on demand. Kubernetes is an open-source platform to manage containers and the server infrastructure behind those…

Philter Labs nets additional funding in quest to build a better portable smoking filter

Philter Labs aims to reduce the stigma associated with vaping tobacco and cannabis. The company’s product is simple enough: It’s a portable filter that, to my surprise, eliminates nearly all secondhand smoke and vapor. The company today is announcing an additional $1 million in funding from a private equity firm that invests in the cannabis…

Mobile app spending to double by 2024, despite economic impacts of COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 has already had a significant impact on the mobile app industry, and that will continue in the years to come. According to a revised 2020-2024 market forecast from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, a sizable increase in app downloads for industries like remote work and education will lead to a large…

How bad will SaaS churn get in the downturn?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. This morning we’re talking about churn — the bane of software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies big and small — in the new world we find ourselves in. SaaS companies, from startups to huge public firms, have built…

Take your shot: Apply to TC Top Picks at Disrupt SF 2020

TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco is known around the world as the place where the early-stage startup community gathers to learn and launch, connect and collaborate. We know COVID-19 has created challenges, but Disrupt SF is still on schedule (keep tabs on our updates here). Like startup founders everywhere, we quickly learn where, when and how…

Researchers to study if startup’s wrist-worn wearable can detect early COVID-19 respiratory issues

It’s highly unlikely that the current coronavirus crisis will neatly and fully “solved” by any one endeavor or solution, which makes news studies like one involving startup WHOOP’s wrist-worn fitness and health tracking wearable all the more important. The study, conducted by the Central Queensland University Australia (CQUniversity), in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, will…

What happens to edtech when kids go back to school?

In just a few weeks, homeschooling has gone from a rarity to a baseline in homes across the country. Jonah Liss, a 16-year-old student at International Academy of Bloomfield Hills in Michigan, was sent home out of precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak. While the transition has been okay for Liss, who has used some…

Ex-NSA hacker drops new zero-day doom for Zoom

Zoom’s troubled year just got worse. Now that a large portion of the world is working from home to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom’s popularity has rocketed, but also has led to an increased focus on the company’s security practices and privacy promises. Hot on the heels of two security researchers finding a Zoom…

Hio wants to put networking events back on your remote-only calendars

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and the COVID-19 pandemic has surged event cancellations across the country. Tech workforces have found ways to stay productive: back-to-back Zoom calls, work-from-home happy hours and more Twitter threads than anyone asked for. But Jason Craparo, the founder of events platform Hio, wants to put organic, face-to-face networking…

Addionics, a startup creating ‘next-gen’ batteries for electric cars and more, raises $6M

Addionics, an Israeli/U.K. startup that is developed next-generation rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles and other applications, has raised $6 million in funding. The round is led by Next Gear Ventures, and includes a $2.5 million grant as part of the European Union’s Horizon2020 innovation competition. Founded by former Imperial College London academics, Addionics has created…

Tim Draper’s Los Angeles-based blockchain-focused venture studio adds a venture partner

The Los Angeles-based venture capital studio focused on blockchain and fintech startups which longtime venture investor Tim Draper now calls home has added a new venture partner to its team. Draper Goren Holm, the firm Draper manages alongside co-founders Alon Goren and Josef Holm said Rodney Sampson has joined the crew as a venture partner.…

DeepMind’s Agent57 AI agent can best human players across a suite of 57 Atari games

Development of artificial intelligence agents tends to frequently be measured by their performance in games, but there’s a good reason for that: Games tend to offer a wide proficiency curve, in terms of being relatively simple to grasp the basics, but difficult to master, and they almost always have a built-in scoring system to evaluate…

Spotify and Warner Music Group renew their global licensing deal, resolve issue in India

Spotify and Warner Music Group have renewed their global licensing partnership, the two said on Wednesday, confirming that the giant music label’s songs will now be available on the Sweden-headquartered firm’s platform in India. In a joint statement, the two companies said, “Spotify and Warner Music Group are pleased to announce a renewed global licensing…

Aspen Neuroscience raises $70 million for its experimental Parkinson Disease treatment

Since 2012, Dr. Jeanne Loring, the founder of the eponymous Loring Lab at Scripps Research, has been thinking about how to use pluripotent stem cells as a potential treatment for Parkinson Disease. Now, eight years later, Aspen Neuroscience, the company she founded to bring her research to market has raised $70 million in funding and…

VR chair startup raises funds, as pandemic boosts prospects for VR and gaming

Roto VR, startup which markets an interactive, ‘360 degree’ chair, has raised £1.5 million in a funding round led by Pembroke VCT. Others in the round include TVB Growth Fund, managed by The FSE Group. The chair is designed to make VR more accessible to a mass audience, many of whom have turned to VR…

YouTube sellers found touting bogus coronavirus vaccines and masks

YouTube has been criticized for continuing to host coronavirus disinformation on its video sharing platform during a global health emergency. Two US advocacy groups which campaign for online safety undertook an 18-day investigation of the video sharing platform in March — finding what they say were “dozens” of examples of dubious videos, including videos touting…

Operation Covid-19 will allow self-reporting of cases, to get ahead of official figures

The Canadian founder of a startup who caught Covid-19 from Justin Trudeau’s wife has launched an initiative to allow anyone to self-report their own case of the disease and publish the results, helping authorities to get ahead of the pandemic. Operation Covid-19 will visualize both official and suspected cases of the Coronavirus in data lists…

Pre-school EdTech startup Lingumi raises £4m, adds some free services during Covid-19

At these difficult times, parents are concerned for their children’s education, especially given so much of it has had to go online during the Covid-19 pandemic. But what about pre-schoolers who are missing out? Pre-school children are sponges for information but don’t get formal training on reading and writing until they enter the classroom when…

Uber Eats beefs up its grocery delivery offer as COVID-19 lockdowns continue

Uber Eats has beefed up grocery delivery options in three markets hard hit by the coronavirus. Uber’s food delivery division said today it’s inked a partnership with supermarket giant Carrefour in France to provide Parisians with 30 minute home delivery on a range of grocery products, including everyday foods, toiletries and cleaning products. The service…

Grab hires Peter Oey as its chief financial officer

Grab announced today that it has hired Peter Oey as its new chief financial officer. Prior to joining Grab, Oey was the chief financial officer at LegalZoom, an online legal services company based near Los Angeles. Before that, he served the same role at Mylife.com, an online platform that aggregates information about people based on…

Africa Roundup: Africa’s tech ecosystem responds to COVID-19

In March, the virus gripping the world — COVID-19 — started to spread in Africa. In short order, actors across the continent’s tech ecosystem began to step up to stem the spread. Early in March Africa’s coronavirus cases by country were in the single digits, but by mid-month those numbers had spiked leading the World…

Investors tell Indian startups to ‘prepare for the worst’ as Covid-19 uncertainty continues

Just three months after capping what was the best year for Indian startups, having raised a record $14.5 billion in 2019, they are beginning to struggle to raise new capital as prominent investors urge them to “prepare for the worst”, cut spending and warn that it could be challenging to secure additional money for the…

Vericool raises $19.1 million for its plant-based packaging replacement for plastic coolers

Vericool, a Livermore, Calif.-based startup that’s replacing plastic coolers and packaging with plant-based products, has raised $19.1 million in a new round of financing. The company’s stated goal is to replace traditional packaging materials like polystyrene with plant-based insulating packaging materials. Its technology uses 100% recycled paper fibers and other plant-based materials, according to the…

Xerox drops $34B HP take-over bid amid COVID-19 uncertainty

Xerox announced today that it would be dropping its hostile takeover bid of HP. The drama began last fall with a flurry of increasingly angry letters between the two companies, and confrontational actions from Xerox, including an attempt to take over the HP board that had rejected its takeover overtures. All that came crashing to…

What does a pandemic say about the tech we’ve built?

There’s a joke* being reshared on chat apps that takes the form of a multiple choice question — asking who’s the leading force in workplace digital transformation? The red-lined punchline is not the CEO or CTO but: C) COVID-19. There’s likely more than a grain of truth underpinning the quip. The novel coronavirus is pushing…

Marriott says 5.2 million guest records stolen in another data breach

Marriott has confirmed a second data breach in three years — this time involving the personal information on 5.2 million guests. The hotel giant said Tuesday it discovered the breach of an unspecified property system at a franchise hotel in late February. The hackers obtained the login details of two employees, a hotel statement said,…

FDA introduces a new program to expedite deployment of potential coronavirus treatments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new program today that’s designed to foster close collaboration between public and private organizations in order to “bring coronavirus treatments to market as fast as possible,” according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a press release. The program, dubbed the…

Stocks post worst quarter since 2008 financial crisis

The first quarter of 2020 ended with a whimper — with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq posting their worst quarter in decades — as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainty and volatility across all major stock market indices. At the beginning of the quarter, we were still basking in a…

OrbitFab secures National Science Foundation funding to propel its satellite refueling tech to space

On-orbit satellite refueling technology is closer than ever to a practical reality, which could help immensely with the cost and sustainability of orbital businesses. Startup OrbitFab, a 2019 TechCrunch Battlefield finalist, is one of the companies working to make orbital refueling a reality, and it just secured a new contract from the National Science Foundation’s…

FCC mandates strict caller ID authentication to beat back robocalls

The FCC unanimously passed a new set of rules today that will require wireless carriers to implement an tech framework to combat robocalls. Called STIR/SHAKEN, and dithered over for years by the carriers, the protocol will be required to be put in place by summer of 2021. Robocalls have grown from vexation to serious problem…

Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all

Now that we’re all stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, video calls have gone from a novelty to a necessity. Zoom, the popular videoconferencing service, seems to be doing better than most and has quickly become one of, if not the most, popular option going. But should it be? Zoom’s recent popularity has…

No proof of a Houseparty breach, but its privacy policy is still gatecrashing your data

Houseparty has been a smashing success with people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic who still want to connect with friends. The group video chat app, interspersed with games and other bells and whistles, raises it above the more mundane Zooms and Hangouts (fun only in their names, otherwise pretty serious tools used by companies,…

Facebook launches a global version of its Community Help feature in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Facebook first launched its Community Help feature in 2017, to give users a way to offer assistance, search for and receive help in the wake of a crisis. The feature has since been used to connect Facebook users after man-made, accidental, and natural disasters, like terrorist attacks or weather events, for example. Today, Facebook is…

Dear Sophie: How do we craft a strong H-1B petition? If I’m not selected, what are my options?

Sophie Alcorn Contributor Share on Twitter Sophie Alcorn is the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley and 2019 Global Law Experts Awards’ “Law Firm of the Year in California for Entrepreneur Immigration Services.” She connects people with the businesses and opportunities that expand their lives. More posts by this contributor Attorney Sophie Alcorn…

On-demand shuttle startup Via hits $2.25 billion valuation on latest funding round led by Exor

On-demand shuttle startup Via has hit a $2.25 billion valuation following a Series E funding round led by Exor, the Agnelli family holding company that owns stakes in PartnerRe, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The Series E funding round, which included other investors, totaled $400 million, according to a source familiar with the deal. Exor invested…

General Catalyst just announced $2.3 billion in new capital commitments across three funds

General Catalyst, the 20-year-old venture firm that has been bulking up in recent years, announced this morning that it has secured $2.3 billion in capital commitments across three funds: a $600 million early-stage fund, a $1 billion growth fund for companies with $10 million-plus in annual revenue and a $700 million “endurance fund” to back…

Join the FirstMark Capital squad for a live Q&A on Zoom tomorrow at 9am PDT

Stuck at home? JK! I know you are! You’re not alone. FirstMark Capital partners Rick Heitzmann, Amish Jani, Matt Turck and Beth Ferreira are also working from home. But neither distance nor virus can truly keep us all apart. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that tomorrow at 12pm EDT/9am PDT, we will be joined…

How to value a startup in a downturn

The value of technology companies has fallen as the broader public markets have repriced themselves in light of COVID-19-related market and economic disruptions. And as the public markets sort out the new value of a huge piece of global business, private companies are being shaken as well. What happens in the public markets trickles into…

Apple acquires Dark Sky, Android version shutting down in July

Dark Sky, the popular weather app, has been acquired by Apple . News of the acquisition comes by way of Dark Sky’s own blog. The company says that there will be “no changes” for users on iOS right now — but for Dark Sky users on Android, the forecast isn’t so good. The company says…

Brandless founder Tina Sharkey joins the board of PBS

Tina Sharkey, the founder and former CEO of the recently closed D2C brand Brandless, has today been appointed to the board of directors of PBS. Sharkey is an independent board member. Before her time at Brandless, Sharkey spent years in the media world. She scaled Johnson & Johnson’s platform for new and expecting moms called…

Color is launching a high-capacity COVID-19 testing lab and will open-source its design and protocols

Genomics health technology startup Color is doing its part to address the global COVID-19 pandemic, and has detailed the steps it’s taking to support expansion of testing efforts in a new blog post and letter from CEO Othman Laraki on Tuesday. The efforts include development of a high-throughput lab that can process as many as…

Daily Crunch: Amazon warehouse workers walk out

Amazon faces worker complaints over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, General Motors says it’s moving fast to manufacture face masks and we’ve got some numbers quantifying the video conferencing boom. Here’s your Daily Crunch for March 31, 2020. 1. Amazon warehouse workers are walking out and Whole Foods workers are striking Yesterday, warehouse workers…

VR workplace training startup Strivr lands $30 million Series B

Virtual reality has been two years away from mainstream adoption for the past six years. In that time, huge companies have made big VR bets only to walk away, countless VR startups have faded or flared out and investment has slowed significantly. Building an attractive VR product for large enterprises to train employees remotely has…

Wide Open School organizes free educational resources to help parents and teachers homeschool

Nearly 300 million kids are missing school worldwide because of the coronavirus outbreak, including some 54 million in the U.S. alone. That’s left parents scrambling for resources to help continue their children’s education, often while also working from home themselves — an almost insurmountable challenge. Today, the nonprofit media organization Common Sense is launching a…

Palo Alto Networks to acquire CloudGenix for $420M

Palo Alto Networks announced today that it has an agreement in place to acquire CloudGenix for $420 million. CloudGenix delivers a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) that helps customers stay secure by setting policies to enforce compliance with company security protocols across distributed locations. This is especially useful for companies with a lot of branch…

Cue Health awarded $13 million government contract to develop portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test

Biotech startup Cue Health has secured a $13 million contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’ Biomedical Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which will be used to speed the development and testing of a handheld molecular test that can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Cue, which…

Microsoft launches Edge Zones for Azure

Microsoft today announced the launch of Azure Edge Zones, which will allow Azure users to bring their applications to the company’s edge locations. The focus here is on enabling real-time low-latency 5G applications. The company is also launching a version of Edge Zones with carriers (starting with AT&T) in preview, which connects these zones directly…

Startup group works to get flat-packed protective boxes to frontline COVID-19 medical workers

There are a number of initiatives by startup companies and entrepreneurs looking to support the healthcare response to COVID-19, and one that’s addressing a need in the realm of personal protective equipment is the COVID Box project launched by a group of volunteers in Toronto that includes startup founders and employees, as well as doctors…

Roku’s update adds support for Spanish voice commands, visual search results and more

Roku announced today it’s preparing to roll out the next version of its operating system, Roku OS 9.3, which powers its popular media players, TVs, and other devices. The flagship feature of this latest release is the introduction of Spanish Language Roku Voice support — meaning consumers will be able to speak their voice commands…

Amid shift to remote work, application performance monitoring is IT’s big moment

In recent weeks, millions have started working from home, putting unheard-of pressure on services like video conferencing, online learning, food delivery and e-commerce platforms. While some verticals have seen a marked reduction in traffic, others are being asked to scale to new heights. Services that were previously nice to have are now necessities, but how…

Xage adds full-stack data protection to blockchain security platform

Xage, a startup that has been taking an unusual path to secure legacy companies like oil and gas and utilities with help from the blockchain, announced a new data protection service today. Xage CEO Duncan Greatwood, says that up until this point, the company has concentrated on protecting customers at the machine layer, but today’s…

Substack offers $100K in grants for independent writers

Substack is taking several steps to support the writers and publications using its newsletter platform. After all, just as writers and newsrooms are starting to build real businesses on Substack, the COVID-19 pandemic is dealing a huge financial blow to the media industry. In response, the startup says it will donate $100,000 in grants —…

Venture capital isn’t escaping the downward spiral of the global economy

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. This morning we’re looking at what venture capitalists got up to in the first quarter of the year and how they are really responding to the current global crisis. It’s easy to find mixed signals…

SpaceX’s Starship user guide details how it could replace the Space Shuttle and offer comfy passenger flights

SpaceX has released a first version of its spacecraft user manual for Starship, the next-generation launch vehicle that it’s currently developing in Boca Chica, Texas. The manual isn’t quite as detailed as the ones that exist for SpaceX’s other, operational launch spacecraft, but it does provide a lot of insight into how SpaceX envisions Starship…

Dining and takeout startup Allset raises $8.25M as it adapts to life under lockdown

Even though this might seem to be the absolute worst time to try to round up funding for a restaurant-related startup, Allset is announcing that it’s raised an $8.25 million Series B. It was not, to be clear, an easy process. CEO Stas Matviyenko (who founded the company with COO Anna Polishchuk) admitted that when…

General Motors spins up global supply chain to make 50,000 face masks a day

GM today announced manufacturing details around building much-needed medical face masks. According to the company’s press release, it took the company less than seven days to go from nothing to producing the first production-made mask. The automotive giant said today in a released statement it expects to deliver 20,000 masks on April 8 and soon…

Axonius nabs $58M for its cybersecurity-focused network asset management platform

As companies get to grips with a wider (and, lately, more enforced) model of remote working, a startup that provides a platform to help track and manage all the devices that are accessing networked services — an essential component of cybersecurity policy — has raised a large round of growth funding. Axonius, a New York-based…

Leading VCs discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the world of digital health

In December 2019, Extra Crunch spoke to a group of investors leading the charge in health tech to discuss where they saw the most opportunity in the space leading into 2020. At the time, respondents highlighted startups in digital therapeutics, telehealth and mental health that were improving medical practitioner efficiency or streamlining the distribution of…

Fitbit adds GPS and Spotify control for the Charge 4

Let’s be real: Now isn’t the ideal time to launch a health tracker. For a majority of us, expectations have dramatically plummeted for step counts, workout minutes and other gamified metrics. But hardware launches will, for the most part, go on. Fitbit eschewed its normal press event this time out — for increasingly good reason…

Niantic squares up against Apple and Facebook with acquisition of AR startup 6D.ai

Even as the pandemic forces Niantic to shift the way its outdoor-friendly titles are played, the gaming company is charging ahead with its efforts to build out an augmented reality platform which allows users to interact with the real world. Today, the studio behind Pokémon Go announced that it has acquired 6D.ai, a promising SF-based…

SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon astronaut mission include a JAXA astronaut

SpaceX is readying for its first flight with astronauts on board – Demo-2, which is technically the last demonstration mission that is required before the Crew Dragon capsule is officially certified to start flying regular missions. Demo-2’s mission scope has been adjusted somewhat so that astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be actually doing…

DataStax launches Kubernetes operator for open source Cassandra database

Today, DataStax, the commercial company behind the open source Apache Cassandra project, announced an open source Kubernetes operator developed by the company to run a cloud native version of the database. When Sam Ramji, chief strategy officer at DataStax, came over from Google last year, the first thing he did was take the pulse of…

Bay Area effort to feed hospital workers partners with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen

An effort I’ve been following in the Bay Area to deliver meals to front-line hospital clinicians dealing with the results of COVID-19 is announcing a big new partnership today that should give it a national stage. Frontline Foods is partnering up with World Central Kitchen to scale up its ad-hoc efforts across the US. World…

Cnvrg.io launches a free version of its data science platform

Data science platform cnvrg.io today announced the launch of the free community version of its data science platform. Dubbed ‘CORE,’ this version includes most — but not all — of the standard feature in cnvrg’s main commercial offering. It’s an end-to-end solution for building, managing and automating basic ML models with limitations in the free…

Family-friendly Spotify Kids app launches in the U.S., Canada and France

Last fall, Spotify debuted a standalone Kids application, aimed at bringing kid-friendly music and stories to Spotify Premium Family subscribers, initially in Ireland. Today, that app is being made available broadly in the U.S. Canada and France, the company announced on Tuesday. The Kids app is still considered a “beta” as it arrives in these…

Snapchat preempts clones, syndicates Stories to other apps

If you can’t stop them, power them. That’s the strategy behind Snapchat App Stories, which launches today to let users show off their ephemeral content in other apps too. The first partners will let you post Stories to your dating profile in Hily, share them alongside [music] videos in Triller, watch them while screensharing in…

Damon Motorcycles makes acquisition, raises $3M and extends pre-orders

EV startup Damon Motorcycles has acquired the IP of Mission Motors, raised $3 million in funding and announced a special production run of its debut model. The Vancouver-based venture unveiled the 200 mph Hypersport in January and began taking pre-orders for the e-moto, with a base price of $24,995. Damon has positioned its EV entry…

Disney+ to launch in India on April 3

Disney said on Tuesday that it will launch its streaming service, Disney+, in India on April 3. The service, available globally in about a dozen markets, will launch in India on Hotstar, one of the most popular on-demand streaming services in the country that is also owned by Disney. The company said it is raising…

Xiaomi reports Q4 revenue jump, beats estimates

Xiaomi ended 2019 on a high, reporting a 27.1% year-over-year jump in the fourth-quarter revenue aided by overseas expansion, beating analysts’ estimation.  The Chinese giant said sales in the fourth quarter jumped to 56.5 billion yuan ($8 billion), up from 44.42 billion yuan in the same quarter a year before. In the fourth quarter of…

Monzo CEO won’t take salary for 12 months after limited number of staff offered voluntary furlough

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank with over 4 million account holders, is taking a number of precautionary steps to help see it through the current coronavirus downturn, including voluntary furloughs and its CEO forgoing a salary, TechCrunch understands. In an internal company-wide memo issued by co-founder and CEO Tom Blomfield, he tells the bank’s over…

Uber co-founder Garrett Camp steps back from board director role

Uber co-founder Garrett Camp is relinquishing his role as a board director and switching to board observer — where he says he’ll focus on product strategy for the ride hailing giant. Camp made the announcement in a short Medium post in which he writes of his decade at Uber: “I’ve learned a lot, and realized…

D-Wave gives anyone working on responses to the COVID-19 free cloud access to its quantum computers

D-Wave, the Canadian quantum computing company, today announced that it is giving anyone who is working on responses to the COVID-19 free access to its Leap 2 quantum computing cloud service. The offer isn’t only valid to those focusing on new drugs but open to any research or team working on any aspect of how…

China’s Pinduoduo raises $1.1 billion in private share placement

Chinese e-commerce firm Pinduoduo said on Tuesday it had raised $1.1 billion in a private share placement that will enable its further expansion and allow it to capture “additional opportunities” during the times of uncertainty. The Nasdaq-listed firm said some of its long-term investors financed the deal. The investors were granted newly issued Class A…

Qarnot raises $6.5 million for its computer servers that heat buildings

French startup Qarnot has raised a $6.5 million (€6 million) funding round. The company manufactures heaters and boilers with a special trick — they pack computers as computers tend to generate a lot of heat. Qarnot then lets companies leverage that computing power by running tasks on those unusual servers. Banque des Territoires, Caisse des Dépôts,…

Los Angeles-based challenger bank HMBradley officially opens its virtual doors

The Los Angeles-based digital challenger bank, HMBradley, opened its virtual doors to the public today, allowing the thousands of waitlisted would-be users to set up direct deposits and collect their sign-up bonuses. The company is offering banking customers an up to 3% return on their savings based on the percentage they save of their quarterly…

Facebook deletes Brazil President’s coronavirus misinfo post

Facebook has diverted from its policy of not fact-checking politicians in order to prevent the spread of potentially harmful coronavirus misinformation from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Facebook made the decisive choice to remove a video shared by Bolsonaro on Sunday where he claimed that “hydroxychloroquine is working in all places.” That’s despite the drug still…

Johnson & Johnson partners with BARDA to fund $1 billion in COVID-19 vaccine research

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is partnering with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund over $1 billion in COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral treatment research and development, the company said on Monday. The partnership is an expansion of an existing agreement between BARDA and…

We must consider secure online voting

Amelia Powers-Gardner Contributor Share on Twitter Amelia Powers-Gardner is county clerk of Utah County in Utah and was sworn into office in January 2019. Chris Walker Contributor Chris Walker is county clerk of Jackson County in Oregon. First appointed in 2008, Chris was re-elected in 2010 and 2014. The list of states delaying primaries and…

Despite pandemic, gaming is well-positioned to withstand recession

Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have led to a global economic downturn, but the gaming industry is booming. With hundreds of millions of people sequestered in their homes, game usage has spiked. And while the economic repercussions will persist after people cease physical distancing, gaming is positioned to fare well during a recession.…

Airbnb will pay hosts $250 million to help cover cancellations due to COVID-19

Airbnb is committing $250 million to put toward hosts who have been impacted by COVID-19. That means if a guest cancels a reservation for check-in between March 14 and May 31 due to a COVID-19 related reason, Airbnb will pay the host 25% of what they would normally receive through their cancellation policy. Airbnb says this…

Medtronic is sharing its portable ventilator design specifications and code for free to all

Healthcare and biomedical engineering company Medtronic, which was in the news recently because Tesla CEO Elon Musk had discussions with the company about the automaker’s potential plans to build ventilator hardware in order to , but today it’s doing something potentially far more impactful. Medtronic is making the full design specifications, produce manuals, design documents,…

Ford, GE Healthcare to produce 50,000 ventilators by July using this tiny company’s design

Ford and GE Healthcare have licensed a ventilator design from Airon Corp and plan to produce as many as 50,000 of them at a Michigan factory by July as part of a broader effort to provide a critical medical device used to treat people with COVID-19. Ford will initially send a team of engineers to help…

Local services marketplace Thumbtack lays off 250 employees

Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta announced in a blog post today that the company has laid off 250 employees. Much has been written about the impact that COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing/shelter in place measures are having on small businesses (and the steps that internet platforms like Facebook and Yelp — which, after all, make…

WTF is the denominator effect?

The last few weeks have just been dreadful for asset managers. Not only have the markets tanked the past few weeks (if slightly recovered from their lows since the signing of the U.S. stimulus bill), but the daily volatility of different assets is making it very hard to keep portfolios balanced. As an example, the…

Rebecca Minkoff has some advice for e-commerce companies right now

When Rebecca Minkoff first moved to New York City, the then-18-year-old was making $4.75 an hour. “I just kept working for this designer and someone was telling me what to do every day. I just didn’t like that. And I thought if I’m going to work as hard, it’s going to be for myself and…

Facebook Messenger preps Auto Status location type sharing

Facebook Messenger could soon automatically tell your closest friends you’re at the gym, driving, or in Tokyo. Messenger has been spotted prototyping a ported version of the Instagram close friends-only Threads app’s Auto Status option that launched in October. The unreleased Messenger feature would use your location, accelerometer, and battery life to determine what you’re…

Want $100,000? Apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2020

Imagine what a $100,000 cash infusion could do for your startup. Now add global media attention and intense investor interest into the mix. That powerful triad can potentially be yours. All you need to do is apply to compete in Startup Battlefield, the legendary pitch competition at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2020. We know COVID-19…

Niantic is updating Pokémon Go and other titles to support indoor gaming

Niantic, the development company behind popular AR mobile games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is adapting its titles to support at-home gaming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, Niantic’s games have encouraged people to go outdoors, explore their world, and connect with others in real life as they played. But with government lockdowns and…

Amazon warehouse workers are walking out and Whole Foods workers are striking

Amazon, the e-commerce giant that has fared well financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is facing a bevy of worker strikes. Today, warehouse workers on Staten Island in New York walked off the job in protest of Amazon’s treatment amid the crisis. #BREAKING: Over 100 Amazon employees at JFK8 warehouse walk off the job over @amazon’s…

Amid concerns that startups could be left out of COVID-19 bailout, investors step up lobbying

The massive bailout package that the U.S. government passed last week to stave off an economic collapse from measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic is giving out billions to American small businesses. But startups that received venture capital money could be left out. So the nation’s investment organizations and lobbying…

Experience Disrupt SF online with the Disrupt Digital Pro Pass

Earlier this month we announced the launch of the Disrupt Digital Pass for TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt SF event (September 14-16) as a way to help ensure that, no matter what, TechCrunch fans everywhere would be able to enjoy the big interviews at the show. We also hinted that we were working on a Pro edition…

WeWork sells off social network Meetup to AlleyCorp and other investors

Meetup, the social networking platform designed to connect people in person, is being spun out from shared office space provider WeWork, the company confirmed on Monday. The site is being sold to AlleyCorp and other private investors for an undisclosed sum, but one that’s reportedly far less than the $156 million acquisition price WeWork paid…

Compete in Startup Battlefield and Launch at Disrupt SF 2020

Early-stage founders: don’t miss your chance to follow in the footsteps of tech giants. We know COVID19 has created challenges for startup founders, but fear not. Disrupt SF is still proceeding as scheduled with a Disrupt Digital Pass Virtual option. Launch your startup in the world’s most famous pitch competition, Startup Battlefield. The smackdown goes…

Muzmatch adds a button to video chat with a match’s dad

Muslim matchmaking app Muzmatch is getting (slightly) involved with video: It’s adding a button to enable users to request a video chat with a prospective match’s father. If the user impresses on camera, the dad can grant a ‘Dad Verified’ badge to add to their profile — as an added layer of parental vetting for…

Alphabet’s Verily debuts a COVID-19 community testing toolkit as it scales its own testing efforts

While the origins of its coronavirus testing program were muddled by President Trump’s misleading announcements attributing its efforts to Google and inflating its scale, Alphabet’s Verily health sciences subsidiary has established and grown its community-based California testing initiative, deploying drive-up testing sites and ramping the number of tests completed from just over 1,200 last Wednesday…

Atlassian’s Confluence gets a new template gallery

Confluence, Atlassian’s content-centric collaboration tool for teams, is making it easier for new users to get started with the launch of an updated template gallery and 75 new templates. They incorporate what the company has learned from its customers and partners since it first launched the service back in 2004. About a year ago, Atlassian…

India’s travel and hotel booking firm Ixigo cuts salary of every employee over coronavirus

Ixigo, a 13-year-old travel and hotel booking service in India, said on Monday it is cutting the salary of its entire staff as the firm grapples with severe disruption in its business due to the coronavirus outbreak that has pushed New Delhi to issue a nationwide lockdown. Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and chief executive of Ixigo,…

SMB loans platform Kabbage to furlough a ‘significant’ number of staff, close office in Bangalore

Another tech unicorn is feeling the pinch of doing business during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Kabbage, the Softbank-backed lending startup that uses machine learning to evaluate loan applications for small and medium businesses, is furloughing a “significant number” of its US team of 500 employees, according to a memo sent to staff and seen by…

Video conferencing apps saw a record 62M downloads during one week in March

Work-from-home policies, social distancing and government lockdowns have increased the demand for video conferencing apps, for both business and personal use. According to a new report from App Annie, out on Monday, business conferencing apps have been experiencing record growth as a result, and just hit their biggest week ever in March, when they topped…

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Fence orbital tracking system is officially operational

The U.S. Space Force is a relatively young arm of the U.S. armed forces, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t already operating assets. The USSF announced late last week that its Space Fence radar system is now officially operational, for instance. First: Yes, it is actually called that. Second, the Space Fence is actually a…

Daily Crunch: FDA clears procedure for N95 mask decontamination

The FDA approves a new procedure that could allow healthcare workers to reuse N95 respirator masks, Microsoft divests from a facial recognition startup and Saudi spies have been taking advantage of a network security flaw. Here’s your Daily Crunch for March 30, 2020. 1. FDA grants emergency authorization to system that decontaminates N95 respirator masks…

Instacart shoppers say company’s response to strike demands are ‘insulting’

Over the weekend, Instacart outlined its plans to better support shoppers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For starters, Instacart has begun distributing its own hand sanitizer and disinfecting supplies and is working to place sanitation stations inside some retailers. Additionally, Instacart has changed the default tip setting to reflect a customer’s previous tip amount. But organizers…

Facebook commits $100M to support local news orgs hit by COVID-19 crisis

Facebook announced this morning that it will be offering another $100 million worth of support to local newsrooms that are trying to cover the COVID-19 pandemic, while that same pandemic is dealing a major blow to their bottom lines. The company says the funding will consist of $25 million in grant funding for local coverage,…

Microsoft Teams is coming to consumers — but Skype is here to stay

Microsoft today announced that later this year, it will launch what is essentially a consumer version of Teams, its Slack-like text, audio and video chat application. Teams for your personal life, as Microsoft likes to call it, will feature a number of tools that will make it easier for families and small groups to organize…

The second wave of unicorn layoffs is brutal

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. There’s a quote from one great American financial panic that I can’t find this morning, but it went something like this: I don’t understand how yesterday we were so rich and today we are so…

Stratolaunch reveals updated fleet, including two hypersonic aircraft and a space plane

High-altitude launch startup Stratolaunch has gone through some changes, but on Monday it revealed design details of two hypersonic aircraft, along with a space plane, all designed to take-off from its flying carrier plane launch platform. If all goes to plan, test flights of the first of these new vehicles will begin in 2022, and…

‘It’s part of my job as a VC to remain calm,’ says Anorak’s Greg Castle

As the venture landscape adjusts to the COVID-19 pandemic and seismic shifts in public markets, early-stage VCs are reassessing which bets they’re making, along with questions they’re asking of founders who are exploring bleeding-edge technology. Anorak’s Greg Castle Anorak Ventures is a small seed-investment firm that bets on emerging tech like AR/VR, machine learning and…

Turbo Systems hires former Looker CMO Jen Grant as CEO

Turbo Systems, a three-year old, no-code mobile app startup, announced today it has brought on industry veteran Jen Grant to be CEO. Grant, who was previously vice president of marketing at Box and chief marketing officer at Elastic and Looker, brings more than 15 years of tech company experience to the young startup. She says…

Security lapse exposed Republican voter firm’s internal app code

A voter contact and canvassing company, used exclusively by Republican political campaigns, mistakenly left an unprotected copy of its app’s code on its website for anyone to find. The company, Campaign Sidekick, helps Republican campaigns canvass their districts using its iOS and Android apps, which pull in names and addresses from voter registration rolls. Campaign…

Equity Monday: Three funding rounds and a downturn

Good morning friends, and welcome back to TechCrunch’s Equity Monday, a short-form audio hit to kickstart your week. If you missed Friday’s main episode, it was a fun one so take the time if you have the minutes; we’re settling into a new hosting lineup that is shaping up to be our best ever, so we’re…

FDA grants emergency authorization to system that decontaminates N95 respirator masks for re-use

The global coronavirus pandemic has meant that there’s a widespread effort to develop and advance creative solutions to new problems, like worldwide shortages of necessary front-line medical equipment. One piece of gear that’s necessary for protecting the health of medical workers treating COVID-19 patients are N95 respirator masks, which are masks that specifically filter out…

Germany’s space agency shifts its 3D printing resources to producing protective medical equipment

DLR, German’s space agency and NASA equivalent, is doing what it can to support the global shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by frontline healthcare workers in their efforts to treat those affected by COVID-19. DLR announced that it has successfully tested converting its on-site 3D printers, typically used for producing aerospace-grade parts, to…

Cell and gene therapy startup ElevateBio raises $170 million

While economic conditions and the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic may not make for the best atmosphere for raising funding, some companies are still announcing round closures with significant money committed. Cambridge-based ElevateBio, for instance, revealed a $170 million Series B funding on Monday, with participation from new investors The Invus Group, Surveyor Capital, EDBI, and…

One.com acquires Hostnet as hosting providers continue consolidation in Europe

The coronavirus pandemic has all but halted a lot of business activity, but today comes news of a deal that underscores how M&A is still happening in some sectors despite (not because of) everything else going on. One.com — the big hosting provider in Europe with around 1.5 million customers, itself acquired just over a…

Online tutoring marketplace Preply banks $10M to fuel growth in North America, Europe

Online learning looks likely to be a key beneficiary of the social distancing and quarantine measures that are being applied around the world as countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, this looks set to buoy some relative veterans of the space. To wit: Preply, a 2013-founded tutoring marketplace, is today announcing a $10…

Air Doctor scores $7.6M to connect travellers with local doctors

Air Doctor, the health tech startup that connects travellers with local doctors, has raised $7.8 million in Series A funding. The round is led by Kamet Ventures (the AXA-backed venture builder), and The Phoenix Insurance Company. Founded in 2016, Air Doctor aims to empower travellers who get sick when abroad and need non-emergency advice or…

White House extends social distancing guidelines to April 30

Only a few days after saying that he would like to see the country “opened up and raring to go by Easter” and maybe relax rules for at least some parts of the U.S. sooner than later, President Trump today announced that he is extending the government’s social distancing guidelines through April 30. “Nothing would…

The Station: Bird and Lime layoffs, pivots in a COVID-19 era and a $2.2 trillion deal

Hello folks, welcome back (or hi for the first time) to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to the all the ways people and packages move around this world. I’m your host, Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. I also have started to publish a shorter version of the newsletter on TechCrunch . That’s…

Saudi spies tracked phones using flaws the FCC failed to fix for years

Lawmakers and security experts have long warned of security flaws in the underbelly of the world’s cell networks. Now a whistleblower says the Saudi government is exploiting those flaws to track its citizens across the U.S. as part of a “systematic” surveillance campaign. It’s the latest tactic by the Saudi kingdom to spy on its…

White House extends social distancing guidelines to April 30

Only a few days after saying that he would like to see the country “opened up and raring to go by Easter” and maybe relax rules for at least some parts of the U.S. sooner than later, President Trump today announced that he is extending the government’s social distancing guidelines through April 30. “Nothing would…