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NelsonG

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Everything posted by NelsonG

  1. The composer released the eight-track LP for Piano Day 2020 View the full article
  2. The annual Barcelona festival will now take place in August View the full article
  3. The rapper’s FreeWishes Foundation has teamed up with Atlanta Sewing Style to make masks for those working and being treated in hospitals View the full article
  4. The latest offering from the Nashville guitarist and composer View the full article
  5. The rapper dons full drag, dances on top of a car, and more in the YHLQMDLG visual View the full article
  6. The Japanese rock quartet smear their faces with colorful frosting in the Hideto Hotta-directed visual View the full article
  7. Pick your favorite member of the band and defeat an alien boss in their new side-scrolling action game View the full article
  8. The band recorded Forward, Children at Cat’s Cradle View the full article
  9. That’s How Rumors Get Started has been pushed back to the summertime View the full article
  10. A vintage visual for the Compton native’s latest track View the full article
  11. At 8pm on Thursday, millions of people in the UK stood at front doors, on balconies, and in windows to clap for our National Health Service (NHS) workers. Some cheered, others banged pots and pans, and some beeped horns. It was an emotional, deeply moving tribute for the healthcare workers currently battling the coronavirus pandemic, and putting their lives at risk to do so. For those taking part, it was an act of community and a way to say thank you to doctors, nurses, paramedics, GPs, pharmacists, and everyone working on the frontline to care for the nation. The idea for #ClapForOurCarers came from Annemarie Plas, who lives in London and was inspired by similar tributes in the Netherlands, Spain, and France. In an interview with HuffPost UK, Plas said she hoped the act would give some "strength and boost to whoever needs it." Read more... More about Uk, Coronavirus, Culture, and HealthView the full article
  12. As people across the globe acclimatise to social distancing and lockdown measures, many of us are turning to Zoom calls and social media as a way of connecting with people. Celebrities are no different. In recent weeks, we've seen a whole host of Instagram messages and videos from actors, some of which have been better received than others. It's probably fair to say that Gal Gadot's star-packed rendition of "Imagine" wasn't exactly the most popular effort — but it certainly seems to be inspiring others. 24-year-old LA-based film-maker Austin Harris was one of the many people who saw the viral video ‚ and it ended up prompting him to make his own version. Read more... More about Gal Gadot, Hereditary, Coronavirus, Social Distancing, and CultureView the full article
  13. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of billions of people around the world. For many parents with young children in the United States, shelter in place orders implemented in different areas over the past few weeks mean they now spend each day balancing work with taking care of their families. For child care providers, a vital but often underappreciated part of the American economy, the crisis means dealing with economic uncertainty, but also adapting to serve new roles, including providing care for essential workers. Child care startups, including home-based daycare networks, apps for finding child care, and benefits and business management software, are working hard to help families. For example, many are using their technology to connect essential workers with carers or provide emergency child care, helping providers navigate government aid programs and, in some cases, raising their own relief funds. TechCrunch talked to nine U.S.-based child care startups–home daycare and preschool networks Wonderschool, NeighborSchools, WeeCare and MyVillage; Winnie, Komae and Helpr, all apps for arranging child care; and enterprise software companies Kinside and Kangarootime–to see how they are dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Child care for essential workers Many of the child care startups TechCrunch spoke to are now focused on helping people in jobs classified as essential during shelter in place orders, including healthcare, emergency responders and grocery store workers. Several of them are adapting their platforms or services to serve those families more quickly, while balancing their urgent need for care with COVID-19 safety precautions. For example, Winnie, a platform for finding verified child care providers throughout the United States, is collecting and updating data in real time about which providers are temporarily closed, and which ones have availability, says founder and CEO Sara Mauskopf. This week, Winnie launched a portal for parents to find emergency child care with immediate openings. Kasey Edwards, the founder and CEO of Helpr, an app that connects parents with screened babysitters, said it is working with families of essential workers to help them afford child care. Helpr’s “Out-of-network” feature allows families to add their own care providers to the platform and manage backup care subsidies from their employers. Meanwhile, Komae, an app that enables groups of families to create babysitting cooperatives and swap care with one another, is offering free care credits and working with seven healthcare organizations to coordinate child care for their workers, said founder and CEO Erin Beck. The babysitting circles on Komae are private, “which means families from one organization can insulate their caregiving strictly among themselves, getting the care they need without risking exposure to the community at large (like our grandparents or other traditional caregivers),” Beck said. The app currently recommends that users “buddy up” with just one or two other families for their care group. In some places, small in-home care providers have been allowed to stay open, said Chris Bennett, the co-founder and CEO of Wonderschool, a network of home-based child care and preschools in states including California, New York and Texas. “Repeatedly, we are seeing county officials allowing small in-home childcare operators to continue to operate, thus providing support for these critical workers under shelter in place orders,” he said. “Our programs have now entered into a critical support role that larger preschools cannot support at this time.” Jessica Chang, the co-founder and CEO of WeeCare, another network of in-home child care providers, said the company is “adjusting its support each hour and taking into account the changing protocols in each county. In certain areas such as Northern California and New York City, our providers are changing how they support their community. Instead of caring for children who attend their daycare regularly, they are now caring for children of first responders and essential workers.” In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker ordered all early child care centers closed starting on March 23. The only centers currently allowed to operate in the state are Exempt Emergency Child Care programs, intended for essential workers and opened by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). As a result, Boston-based NeighborSchools, which partners with home child care providers, closed all its centers to comply with the order. Co-founder and CEO Brian Swartz said some of NeighborSchool’s provider partners are applying to provide emergency child care for medical professionals, first responders and vulnerable populations. The startup is currently helping providers figure out regulatory requirements and putting together guidance for using government aid. It is also communicating with the EEC’s leadership to offer full access to its platform. “While we never envisioned this scenario, the tech we’ve built for our network is uniquely well suited to automatically match families to child care programs in real-time,” said Swartz. “In child care scheduling, we need to account for each child’s date of birth, the family’s care schedule and the licensed capacity of each program within age range. Our team is ready to drop everything and make this happen if the EEC asks for our help.” On-demand services Startups are also helping other parents find short-term or emergency child care. Some have launched online services, like digital playdates, to help families balance working from home and their family lives. MyVillage, a network of home-based care providers in Colorado and Montana, is seeing “an influx of interest from families who are looking for temporary care and/or short-term placement due to large child care centers closing and school districts closing,” said co-founder and CEO Erica Mackey. The company is currently working on a short-term placement solution for families in select MyVillage programs who need child care. To help parents navigate the sudden collision of their work and home lives, Komae and Helpr both started offering online services. Helpr launched online music lessons and tutoring for families on its platform, while Komae is facilitating digital playdates. This means parents use the app to schedule video calls with their children’s friends. “I never imagined my toddler could be so entertained by her friends on a computer screen, but they amazingly go an hour showing each other their toys and silly faces,” said Beck. “That social connection, for all of us, is so essential.” Safety and support Child washing hands Safety compliance is always a priority for child care providers, but it is especially critical during this time. In addition to following CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many companies have also enacted safeguards of their own. Some are also implementing financial support programs to help care providers who are forced to close because of illness. For example, Beck published a letter on Komae’s site on March 12, hours before Ohio became the first state to close schools, asking families on the app to immediately stop swapping child care. “It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make as a founder, because as a parent myself, I was painfully aware of how desperate these families would be for both care and companionship,” Beck said. “But ‘adhering to social distance’ was not a given then like it is now; we had the responsibility as a leader of this vast community to be firm with what needed to be done.” Taking steps like helping parents who work with healthcare organizations find care and launching digital features has allowed Komae to maintain its community, she added. “We knew Komae had the tools to make that happen, so with social distance at our core, we adapted for insulating or digital caresharing.” As a safety precaution, WeeCare developed a feature to monitor caregivers for fevers, using a function already in its app that allows them to take photos and videos of children throughout the day and tag activities. The technology was adapted so providers can submit a video of themselves taking their temperature with a thermometer each morning. Once the video is verified by the WeeCare team, the provider receives a badge on their listing that says “Health Status: Fever-Free,” with the date of the verified reading. Chang says the feature “allows providers to take more proactive measures, as recommended by the CDC, to ensure the health and safety of our community.” Several companies are also providing financial programs to help their providers who are forced to shut down and ensure they don’t feel compelled to work even when sick. For example, MyVillage raised additional funding to allow the 60-plus open programs in its network to continue earning their projected income into April. Mackey says that so far, two anonymous funders have contributed. “Many of our educators don’t have the safety net needed to stop working, so we want to help them stay open so long as it’s safe,” says Mackey. “If parents are exposed or infected and subject to quarantine, our relief funding provides a subsidy to cover 11 of the 14 days of the child’s tuition until he or she can safely return to class.” Helpr launched a paid sick leave policy for babysitters on its platform after the first known cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. Sitters are also informed of any sickness in a home through a mandatory disclosure from the family in Helpr’s app when they book an appointment. A few days after TechCrunch spoke to Wonderschool, Bennett announced that the company had been forced to lay off team members because of the crisis. Before the announcement, Bennett told TechCrunch that if a Wonderschool care program is forced to shut down because a child, parent or provider shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the company will draw on its network to help its other families find another carer in their area. For financial support, Wonderschool is monitoring state and federal relief policies for businesses. “These crisis funds will be key in ensuring that in-home providers who have shut down temporarily are available to parents again once people return to work,” he said. Enterprise software For startups that build enterprise and management software related to child care, the pandemic creates a different set of challenges. Genevieve Carbone of Kangarootime, business management software for child care providers, said that many of its customers have been relying on its messaging feature to keep families updated on rapidly changing regulations. Its software also enables “low contact,” for example by allowing information to be passed to parents digitally instead of on paper handouts, in-app check-in and check-outs, and online payments. “We’re keeping a very close eye on the impact the virus will have on businesses further down the road and how we can better support our customers once the pandemic passes,” said Carbone. “Improving billing for agencies/subsidies is something we have explored, assuming there may be an increase in families that will need government subsidies to cover their childcare.” Kinside, whose software helps employees manage family care benefits and find daycares, has seen a 60% decline in incoming parents because of shelter at home mandates and social distancing, said co-founder and CEO Shadiah Sigala. Thousands of daycares in its network have also shut down. Even places that are not currently under shelter in place orders have seen a drop in parents searching for immediate care because they know “it’s likely only a matter of time before all states invoke similar measures,” she added. But Kinside is helping essential workers find childcare and has also recently begun working with human resources at hospitals and grocery chains on its platform to “offer white glove child care support to their employees.” After the pandemic Daycare and school shutdowns have forced families to change their routines under extraordinary and difficult circumstances, and the situation is highlighting the value of caregivers to the economy and the well-being of families. At the same time, it also underscores how vulnerable many providers are, with few safety nets. Mackey says that MyVillage was created to address structural problems in child care that have existed for a long time “It was tough to make it as a child care provider before this pandemic, and now, it’s even harder. More than 40% of family home child care businesses nationally report that they couldn’t make it two weeks without revenue from having children in care,” she said, adding that MyVillage was created to help fix “America’s deeply broken child care market, which doesn’t work well for educators, who earn on average $11.50 an hour, or for working parents, who pay more than public university tuition for child care in a majority of states.” Sigala said “the pandemic has exposed the essentiality of child care in the everyday working lives of Americans, and the overall economy. More of our jobs may be fit to support work from home. But they are certainly not fit for work from home with kids.” After the pandemic is over, many parents may find it difficult to re-enroll their kids with the same care provider or need to find new options that are more financially manageable for them, she added. Kinside currently works with thousands of employers, as well as daycare centers that can add up to one million child care slots. The company plans to offer deep discounts or free access to Kinside to companies while they recover from the crisis. “We predict company executives will return to running their companies with more empathy than ever,” said Sigala. “They, too just experienced the complete lack of child care infrastructure (perhaps for the first time); a problem that many of their employees face on a daily basis. We are ready to engage with heads of HR and key executives with resources and consulting gratis.” View the full article
  14. As the coronavirus continues to spread, misinformation is spreading just as quickly. During Thursday's edition of The Daily Social Distancing Show, Trevor Noah spoke to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director — and now famous face-palmer — Dr. Anthony Fauci, in order to sort the fact from the fiction. Over the course of the 13-minute interview, Noah asks Fauci about re-infection, the way the virus spreads, and the effect it has on young people. Fauci's clear responses are well worth a watch. Read more... More about The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, Dr Fauci, Entertainment, and Health View the full article
  15. TL;DR: Pre-order a Huawei P40 or Huawei P40 Pro contract, and claim a free pair of Huawei Freebuds 3 worth £149.99. We know that it's difficult to think about anything other than coronavirus right now, but the world of technology is contuining to spin with the Huawei P40 and P40 Pro finally launching. It didn't take long for online smartphone retailers to repond to this news, and all the major players have already dropped deals on the new Huawei handsets. The best offer comes from Mobiles.co.uk, with customers able to claim a free pair of Huawei Freebuds 3 (worth £149.99) with every contract. Read more... More about Huawei, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Uk, Uk Deals, and Huawei P40 ProView the full article
  16. For better or for worse, social distancing because of coronavirus is turning a lot of you into gamers. But fear not! Because video games contain multitudes and playing them can bring so much value to your life, whether or not you've ever considered yourself a "gamer." And anyway, the New York Times gave us the official OK to game without guilt now, so what's stopping us?! Truly, the mainstream concept of what video games are is such a narrow subset of the wide, wonderful world of interactive entertainment available out there. Games can help us live richer lives, and there's plenty of great ones for all experience levels. But your Beautiful Gaming Future does have one big roadblock: On the whole, the video game industry does a pretty bad job of making newcomers know they're welcome. Read more... More about Video Games, Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossing New Horizons, Coronavirus, and Entertainment View the full article
  17. On-demand video streaming service Hooq said on Friday it has filed for liquidation after it failed to grow rapidly and cover its increasing operating costs. Hooq Digital, a joint venture among Singapore telecom group Singtel (majority owner), Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros Entertainment, said the company sailed through “significant structural changes” in the on-demand video streaming market for five years but is now struggling to provide sustainable returns to investors. “Global and local content providers are increasingly going direct, the cost of content remains high, and emerging-market consumers’ willingness to pay has increased only gradually amid an increasing array of choices,” a Hooq spokesperson said in a statement. “Because of these changes, a viable business model for an independent, OTT distribution platform has become increasingly challenged. As a result, HOOQ has not been able to grow sufficiently to provide sustainable returns nor cover escalating content costs and the continuous operating costs of an independent OTT distribution platform,” the spokesperson added. The Singapore-headquartered firm said it has not received any new funds from new or existing investors. According to Crunchbase, Hooq has raised $95 million to date, including $70 million the three aforementioned giants pumped into it in 2015. The company will hold a meeting with its shareholders and creditors on April 13. In an exchange filing, Singtel said Hooq’s liquidation won’t have any material impact on its business. HOOQ has amassed 80 million users in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. The company counted India, where it entered into a partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in 2018, as its biggest market. The company also maintains a partnership with ride-hailing giant Grab to supply content in its cab. The disclosure from Hooq comes as a surprise as just two months ago it was talking about its plans to expand its footprint in the nations where it operates. In an interview with Slator, Yvan Hennecart, Head of Localization at HOOQ, said the company was working to expand its catalog with local content and add 100 original titles this year. “Our focus is mostly on localization of entertainment content; whether it is subtitling or dubbing, we are constantly looking to bring more content to our viewers faster. My role also expands to localization of our platform and any type of collateral information that helps create a unique experience for our users,” he told the outlet. View the full article
  18. TL;DR: Stream with ease by picking up the U-STREAM Junior Social Media Streaming Studio for $19.99, a 75% savings as of March 27. Whether you're a yoga instructor, teacher, social butterfly, or really any kind of human, you're likely spending a lot more time live streaming these days. Literally everyone's doing it. Seriously, have you seen your Instagram feed lately? If you don't have a streaming setup, now's a good time to invest in one – especially since this U-STREAM Junior Social Media Streaming Studio is on sale for 75% off. It features basically everything you need to put your best face forward: an adjustable gooseneck, a non-slip phone holder for any sized phone, and a ring light with various lighting modes (essential). Read more... More about Streaming, Smartphone Accessories, Mashable Shopping, Tech, and Consumer TechView the full article
  19. We're living in unprecedented (and stressful) times. We don't know the next time we'll be free to go out to dinner in a restaurant, step inside an office, or even go on a Tinder date. While you probably cannot stand to look at your phone for a second longer these days, it may be the key to alleviating your stress. There are apps out there that can help you find solace in these trying times, and the ones below happen to be on sale. Hang in there! For getting a better night's sleep The App: Relax Melodies Meditation App It's hard to fall asleep when you don't know what's in store for you the next day (or you do know, and it's not looking good). But getting a good night's rest is integral to staying healthy, which should be your priority, especially now. Relax Melodies is a sleep and relaxation app that combines soothing sounds, bedtime stories, breathing techniques, body-mind exercises, and more to help you fall asleep in minutes and stay asleep. Recommended by doctors and neuropsychologists and rated an impressive 4.8 stars on the App Store and 4.6 stars on Google Play, it can also help you combat issues like insomnia, tinnitus, night-time anxiety, and everyday stress. Read more... More about Meditation, Apps And Software, Mashable Shopping, Tech, and Consumer Tech View the full article
  20. TL;DR: Bring some life to your home with an AquaSprouts Fountain for $137.99, a 13% savings as of March 27. Being ordered to stay inside your home can make it feel like the walls around you are caving in —especially if you live alone. You start to miss the simple things, like grass and trees, and you can't remember the last time you saw another living, breathing being (unless you're lucky enough to have a pet). We get it. What you need is some sort of indoor garden setup. And lucky for you, the AquaSprouts Fountain is on sale. We know it sounds weird, but hear us out. An AquaSprouts Fountain is a device that combines a two-gallon planter and a six-gallon aquarium fountain, allowing plants and fish to work in harmony. It's like having your own little ecosystem to look after, with Mother Nature as your guide. Read more... More about Garden, Plants, Mashable Shopping, Tech, and Consumer TechView the full article
  21. Apple has made its professional-grade software for video editing and music making – Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X – free with a 90-day trial. Normally, Final Cut Pro X has a 30-day trial, which has now been extended to 90 days, and works even if you're already on a 30-day trial. And Logic Pro X, which didn't have any sort of free trial so far, now gets the 90-day trial option as well. The new options come after an unprecedented migration towards work-from-home arrangements amid a global coronavirus outbreak. In early March, Apple itself told many of its workers to work from home if possible, and numerous other companies have done the same. Read more... More about Apple, Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, Tech, and Big Tech Companies View the full article
  22. Notarize, the platform that enables digital notarizations, announced that it is adding 1,000 notaries to address demand as more Americans are ordered to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still need to sign important documents. The startup is partnering with the National Notary Association to verify notaries have been screened and have the necessary insurance or bonding. The service is available to Americans in all 50 states or abroad, but notaries must be physically located in Florida, Nevada, Texas or Virginia to join the platform (with plans to add more states later) and have a digital certificate before applying for Notarize . Founder and CEO Pat Kinsel said Notarize is “experiencing unprecedented demand due to coronavirus. Consumers and businesses are turning to us en masse because they can’t complete critical transactions.” He added that to scale quickly, Notarize is able to “leverage existing credentials from the National Notary Association that ensure people have commissions, insurance and background screenings. Notaries are stuck at home right now, looking for safe work. They can get onboarded in one to two days.” Right before the spread of COVID-19 prompted shelter in place orders and social distancing mandates, there was an increased demand for mortgages because of low rates, with refinance applications growing 400% annually, according to CNBC. Now many of those loans can no longer be closed in-person. Kinsel says more than 2,000 lenders and title companies have contacted Notarize in the past week, and it is also opening the platform so they can add their own employees to serve transactions. Notarize users also want to make sure critical documents are updated as they cope with the pandemic. “Beyond real estate, we’re seeing spikes in medical authorizations, people updating financial accounts and beneficiaries,” Kinsel said. View the full article
  23. Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian founded Initialized Capital roughly nine years ago and they’ve closed four funds since, including most recently in late 2018. That $225 million vehicle is roughly twice the size of their previous fund, but because of the coronavirus, the firm, and its portfolio companies — some of which include Opendoor, Instacart and Coinbase — could be facing a tougher road in 2020. Certainly, that’s true of nearly ever other venture firm and startup right now. To get a sense of where the team is currently, what it’s telling its founders, whether it thinks the abrupt downturn might change founders’ behavior, as well as whether either thinks big tech should be broken up, we talked with the two last night via Zoom about these issues and more. It was a fun conversation that you can check out here, beginning around the 23 minute mark. In the meantime, you can find highlights from our conversation right here. Among the many things we covered: We first talked about how much runway startups need right now that the U.S. is largely closed for business. Tan offered that because returning to normalcy could “well be six to nine months,” partly because the U.S. isn’t informally containing the virus and there’s not yet a vaccine for it. To “make sure you have the cash to last to the other side,” he said, founders need to think in terms of 18 months. “It’s a lot,” said Tan, “but that’s sort of what’s necessary, and that’s what we’ve been advising our portfolio companies. The duo also talked about how to actually squeeze 18 months of runway out of startup that hasn’t freshly raised a round. Ohanian said to “renegotiate everything,” from office space to venture debt agreements. He also noted there are “obvious things that you get cut early, around like non-essential marketing,” saying, “I’m as bummed as the next person to not be able to go to Cannes Lions this year, but I think we all agree like these are very reasonable things to be cutting at times like this.” Because Ohanian is fairly vocal on Twitter about U.S. efforts to contain the coronavirus and to help healthcare workers, we spent some time on this, too. Ohanian said that “like a lot of Americans, I’m pretty frustrated by the situation right now. I mean, I live in Florida, which I think is going to see some really staggering numbers [of sickened residents] here in the next couple of weeks [because of its] elderly population and . . .a governor that’s that’s taking too long to do the things we need to do to keep them safe.” He added that he remains inspire by the “ingenuity and the resilience” of its citizens, including founders who’ve begun adapting to these new situations, including the Initialized portfolio companies Flexport, the logistics startup, and Ro, the tele-health startup that originally focused on men’s wellness. Through a new initiative announced earlier this week, Flexport is “literally raising millions of dollars in donations to bring medical supplies to the Bay Area and to those healthcare workers,” noted Ohanian. Ro is meanwhile offering a free Covid-19 assessment to anyone who wants to take it and if he or she is deemed at enough risk, Ro will connect that individual with a physician or RN. That medical professional can’t administer an FDA-approved test, Ohanian acknowledged, but it’s better than nothing, he suggested. “This is not a salve. This is not a magic wand at all. What hopefully this can do is give people more information quicker about the decisions they should be making about their own safety and the safety of people they might come in contact with.” Naturally, we had to ask how a founder lands a check from Initialized, and whether the firm needs to see a product or momentum first. On this front, Tan was clear that “no traction is fine,” explaining that the firm funded Around, a two-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based videoconferencing startup that this month announced $5.2 million in seed funding, with “a demo that kind of honestly barely worked” but whose approach to solving a particular problem really resonated with the team. Tan also pointed to Instacart, the grocery delivery company that’s “doing insanely well right now,” as housebound Americans steer clear of grocery stores. “When I met [founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta,” said Tan, “it was the early days of the iPhone app platform” and “everyone else was pitching that idea” at the same time. But where most ‘demoware’ is “jerky” or “not properly threaded,” Mehta’s “scrolled really smoothly and the images were properly threaded and I could see that he was a craftsman,” says Tan. As important to him, “Apoorva is not a person who accepts ‘no.’ He takes a no and turns it into a yes.” (Both Tan and Ohanian emphasized here that good salesmanship, meaning solid storytelling, can accomplish a lot.) As for what’s happening day to day, we asked both if they’re spending time in board meetings, poring over financials and trying to figure out how keep the startups in their portfolio going during this downturn. They suggested they’d already done this before Covid-19 took hold in the U.S. Said Tan, “Not to put other VCs on blast, but often they don’t actually keep track of the runway of their companies quite so closely. For us, we have quarterly reviews, [so] the day all this stuff happened, we immediately knew who we needed to spend time with. We’d started talking about this in February. I wore my first N95 mask to our retreat in Cabo San Lucas [early last month] and and people at the airport thought I was a little bit nuts, but it was already in our mind that [the virus] might come over here. So when we did our last portfolio review in February, we were already mindful of anyone who has short runway [because we wanted] to make sure we had that conversation.” Added Tan, “There are some boards that I’m on where I was telling them this was going to happen, and they just didn’t believe me. But for a few teams, they were able to put the right things into place and start their fundraise a little bit earlier.” Before we let them go, we asked if they had thoughts about the tech giants — on which we’re suddenly more reliant on ever — being broken up, and whether they should be. Ohanian, who famously cofounded the social media giant Reddit, declined to say much on this front, other than that Initialized has backed “companies that thrive in part because they’re giving everyone else a chance to compete with Amazon. So I don’t know if that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what else would.” For his part, Tan said he “probably” doesn’t want the government to intervene with big tech, but he’s concerned about their rise (and rise). Said Tan, “What I want is our startups to be successful, and when they become successful, that they arm thousands of small businesses, medium-size businesses, and the retailers that could not possibly to hire an engineer to actually survive. . . because otherwise, Amazon’s going to run the table. We also asked if they worry big tech companies are more hesitant to shop, given the regulatory scrutiny they have been under. Tan suggested that Initialized hasn’t counted on M&A activity for its exits for some time. “What’s weird about startups [[is that back] in 2008 when we came up, M&A was a much bigger part of what people talked about. These days, everything we fund, we want to fund it for the IPO.” The reality, he continued is that none of the tech giants are acquisitive because they “sort of don’t know what to do with the cash. [There’s] definitely a Peter Thiel-ism that I totally believe, which is that Google is sitting on a cash hoard, and when you sit on a cash hoard, it means, ‘I don’t know what else to do. There are not projects that have a positive net IRR that I can put that money into. I could not hire people to go work on a thing that could make more money.’ Said Tan, “If anything, these companies have sort of become giant babysitting places for very, very smart tech people.” Not last, we talked about their hopes for what comes next. Ohanian is choosing to remain optimistic on a lot of fronts right now, he suggested, and that’s unsurprisingly true of his work. As he told us, “One of the fortunate parts about doing early-stage investing is also that this [frightening moment] is a time when founders are going to come solving real problems. I actually expect the next two years to be opportunities for some really great and hopefully impactful companies to get formed. “In the wake of all this, [founders] can not just solve really important business leads; they can also do some good in the process.” Before we parted ways, we also talked about founders and whether some had blown it by not taking their companies public while the window was still open. Both Tan and Ohanian seemed to defend founders who’ve chosen to stay private longer in recent years while ceding that staying private isn’t good for employees or investors or the founders themselves. Indeed, “a lot of it comes back to governance,” said Ohanian, with both he and Tan expressing equal parts dismay over activist investors and the perpetual shareholder rights that founders have been demanding to protect themselves from said activist investors. (Ohanian called such voting rights an “ugly hack.”) Both sang the praises of Long Term Stock Exchange — the stock exchange created by entrepreneur Eric Ries — and what it hopes to accomplish, which is to make it safer to go public without worrying about activist investors by rewarding longer-term shareholders who believe in a company. Worth noting: LTSE, as it’s known, is an Initialized portfolio company. Photo: Tim Daw for Initialized Capital View the full article
  24. "With all that's been going on over the past couple of weeks virus-wise, I feel like we've almost forgotten about the presidential election," said Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday. All elections are important, but the coronavirus pandemic and a severely divisive U.S. president have raised the stakes particularly high this year. As such, Democratic candidate Joe Biden joined Kimmel via video call to discuss his campaign, how he's social distancing, and Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "I don't quite understand the lack of willingness to move rapidly and to let science dictate," said Biden, referring to Trump's slow reaction to the pandemic. Read more... More about Joe Biden, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Kimmel, 2020 Election, and CoronavirusView the full article
  25. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that it is temporarily relaxing enforcement of environmental regulations and fines during the COVID-19 outbreak. The “enforcement discretion policy” applies retroactively to March 13, with no end date set yet. “EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes the challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” said EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in the agency’s announcement. While very broad, the EPA said the policy “addresses different categories of noncompliance differently.” For example, the EPA will not seek penalties for noncompliance with monitoring and reporting “that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but that it still expects public water systems to provide safe drinking water. The new policy follows lobbying from industries including oil and gas, which told the Trump administration that relaxed regulations will allow them to more efficiently distribute fuel during the outbreak. But critics say that the policy will not only result in more pollution, but also make it impossible to fully assess the environmental damage. In a statement to the Hill, Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, said the new policy “tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way ‘caused’ by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was.” View the full article
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