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BLACK LIVES MATTER! ×
BLACK LIVES MATTER!

NelsonG

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Everything posted by NelsonG

  1. "Cassie" is a robot created at Oregon State University that made history by running a 5K thanks to machine learning. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/GMUbzyKUckwView the full article
  2. The Office successfully wrapped up its fair share of complex storylines over the course of nine seasons, but in the year 2021 fans still don't know the identity of the infamous Scranton Strangler. Or do we? For anyone who needs a refresher, the Scranton Strangler was a mysterious serial killer referenced within Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch during Season 6 to Season 9. There have been a number of theories (both on and offscreen) surrounding the identity of the killer, but we never got definitive closure. Some people assumed the chaotic, constantly unhinged Creed Bratton was to blame, while others swore that the incredibly dull and largely loathed HR rep Toby Flenderson was more capable of murder. Toby eventually served on the jury for the strangler case and said he believed the man accused, one George Howard Skub, was innocent. Interesting! Then, in March 2018 the official YouTube channel for The Office posted a Making a Murder parody video titled Making A Strangler, which explored the theory that Toby was indeed the one doing the strangling. There's a lot to unpack here, but one theory we'd like to throw into the ring for consideration is that David Wallace, Dunder Mifflin's CFO played by Andy Buckley, was the Scranton Strangler all along. It may seem like a bizarre theory, but even Buckley himself confessed that it sounds pretty plausible. Let's walk you thought it, shall we? The uncommon theory was tweeted by Mashable's very own video producer, Jules Suzdaltsev, more than a year ago on February 15, 2020. In a thread about the workplace comedy he came right out and said it: "David Wallace is the Scranton Strangler." A few days later Buckley replied to the theory by saying, "Very well could be Jules," then sharing some thoughts of his own. "He had it in him to just snap. Hot tub middle of the day, boozing, creating the Suck It. And what was he doing in Season 8 the 3rd or 4th to last Ep. Runs into Andy at a local Scranton Charity Dinner? Why was he in Scranton?" Buckley tweeted about his character David before saying, "Perhaps you're correct." For fans of The Office who've been trying to figure out who the Scranton Strangler was since 2010, this is potentially a huge development. Technically the information was shared over a year ago, but we're reporting it now because Jules just saw the tweet and is now "LOSING IT." (We'll give him a pass because life gets hectic and sometimes you miss things, but do not leave Office fans hanging again.) Since I share a workplace with Jules I messaged him and asked him to explain the David Wallace Scranton Strangler theory in a little more detail. Here's what Jules had to say: My friend and I came up with this theory a few years ago, and it makes perfect sense. Wallace is essentially The Office's Patrick Bateman, a clean-cut, unflinching multi-millionaire with a "heart of gold" who everyone likes. So why does he let Michael get away with everything, and why does he spend so much time in Scranton when he lives in Greenwich, Connecticut and works in NYC? That’s like a three hour drive! Its simple - Michael's branch gives him plausible deniability to be in Scranton, where he has been strangling strangers for a better part of a decade. Who would ever suspect David Wallace? Nobody, and it's always the person you least suspect. In fact, why do you think he sent away Holly? Is it because she and Michael were getting too close, or is it because Holly was getting too close to the truth? David Wallace is a murderer and should be brought to justice. What do we think, people? Is David Wallace actually a criminal who de-stressed in his hot tub after long days of cold-blooded killing? Or was it just Toby? You decide. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/MUTWivTbj2YView the full article
  3. The Airship Orchestra is an interactive art installation that just so happens to incredibly cute and mesmerizing. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Mashable/~4/TGvVbJ-hYXoView the full article
  4. The “repeat infringer” issue remains a hot topic in US courts after rightsholders filed lawsuits against several ISPs. These Internet providers are accused of not doing enough to stop copyright infringers on their networks, even after receiving multiple ‘copyright infringement’ notifications. The copyright infringement allegations can have real consequences. In 2019, a Virginia jury ordered Internet provider Cox to pay a billion dollars in damages to a group of major record labels. This case is being appealed but at the same time, other ISPs have been dragged to court over similar issues. Filmmaker Sue WOW! Most of the early ‘repeat infringer’ cases were filed by music companies backed by the industry group RIAA. However, in recent weeks some independent movie companies have filed similar lawsuits featuring even more far-reaching demands. This includes a copyright infringement lawsuit against Internet provider Wide Open West, better known as WOW!. In a complaint filed at a federal court in Colorado, the makers of movies including “After We Collided,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Rambo V: Last Blood,” and “London Had Fallen” accuse WOW! of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. The ISP allegedly turned a blind eye to pirating subscribers. “Defendant failed to terminate the accounts and/or take any meaningful actions against its subscribers in response to the Notices consistent with a reasonably implemented policy for termination of subscribers […] who are repeat infringers,” the complaint reads. No Meaningful Action The movie companies, represented by attorney Kerry Culpepper, list several examples of account holders for whom WOW! was sent dozens of copyright infringement notices. Despite these alerts, the accounts remained active and continued their piracy activities. For one IP address, the rightsholders sent over 100 infringement notices, without any meaningful response. That account was eventually terminated earlier this year after the attorney alerted WOW! through a separate letter. The fact that WOW! advertised high-speed Internet access, combined with the inaction against online piracy, attracts potential copyright infringers to the ISP, the complaint alleges. As such, WOW! should be held liable for the pirating activities on its network. “Defendant’s subscribers are motivated to become subscribers from the knowledge of Defendant’s practice of ignoring notices of infringements or failing to take any meaningful action,” the movie companies write. YTS Evidence There are a few key differences between the music companies’ repeat infringers lawsuits and the present one. Most notably, the movie companies cite specific cases where WOW! subscribers used the popular torrent site YTS to download content. That claim is backed up by an affidavit from the operator of YTS, who signed settlements with several of the movie companies in the past. As part of this deal, the operator agreed to hand over data from the site’s user database. With this lawsuit, the movie companies hope to recoup millions of dollars in piracy damages. However, that’s just the beginning. Site Blocking, Three-Strikes, and Identifying Pirates What stands out most are the far-reaching and concrete demands for injunctive relief. The complaint specifically requests an order requiring WOW! to terminate subscribers whose accounts were targeted by three unique infringement notices in three days. In addition to this mandatory three-strikes policy, WOW! should also block all alleged pirate sites that are listed in the USTR’s annual overview of notorious markets. This includes the likes of The Pirate Bay, RARBG, and YTS. Finally, the movie companies request an order which requires the ISP to disclose the identities of account holders whose accounts are flagged for copyright infringement. This would allow the companies to target the alleged pirates directly. – order Defendant to adopt a policy that provides for the prompt termination of subscribers for which Defendant receives more than three unique notices of infringements of copyright protected Works within 72 hours – order Defendant to block subscribers from accessing notorious piracy websites of foreign origin that are listed in the annual trade report of Notorious Foreign Markets published by the United States Government on all networks under its control to prevent further pirating of Plaintiffs’ Works via the BitTorrent protocol – order the Defendant to disclose to Plaintiffs the identifications of the subscribers who used and use Defendant’s service to infringe Plaintiffs’ Works on an ongoing basis after said subscribers are provided notice as required by 47 U.S.C. § 551 Needless to say, these demands go further than those in the repeat infringer cases we’ve seen thus far. Court-ordered site blocking and Internet disconnections are a novelty in US courts, which will be fiercely contested. At the time of writing WOW! has yet to respond to the complaint. When it does, we will report on it accordingly. The present lawsuit is similar to the allegations that many of the same movie outfits lodged against Internet provider Frontier Communications in a bankruptcy proceeding. That case could eventually be referred to a District Court as well, but that decision has yet to be made. — A copy of the movie companies’ complaint against WOW!, filed at the US District Court for Colorado, is available here (pdf). From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. View the full article
  5. Facebook’s booming business is dominated by digital ads, but it also has hardware ambitions beyond VR. During the company’s latest earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said its next product release would be a pair of smart glasses from Ray-Ban. “The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things,” the Facebook co-founder said. “So I’m excited to get those into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey toward full augmented reality glasses in the future.” Facebook’s sunglasses have been the subject of rumors since 2019. Back then, sources told CNBC that Facebook was working with Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica on AR eyewear nicknamed “Orion.” The glasses were billed as a full-fledged phone replacement on which you could take calls, see information and even broadcast livestreams. That inevitably drew comparisons to Google Glass (another Luxottica collab) instead of the phone-tethered Spectacles from Snap. Last year, Hugo Barra, then VP VR at Facebook Reality Labs, confirmed that the glasses would land in 2021. But, we haven’t heard much since. For Facebook, the glasses hold the key to its future. Alongside virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) is integral to building the “metaverse,” Zuckerberg said. In the future, Facebook will morph into a shared, liveable platform that lets you “teleport” between different social experiences using VR and AR, Zuckerberg explained. The term metaverse is the latest buzzword seized upon by Silicon Valley and futurists. While the concept has been around for well over a decade, it gained traction after the breakout success of multiplayer game creation platforms like Fortnite and Roblox. Earlier this week, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella mentioned an “enterprise metaverse” on his company’s earnings call. For Facebook, the metaverse is more than just a fad. The company is spending billions in order to build its shared universe, which will be populated with Facebook users and digital ads, according to Zuckerberg. In order for it to become a reality, the company needs more people to buy its computing hardware. Therefore, the plan is to make those devices more affordable. “Our business model isn’t going to primarily be around trying to sell devices at a large premium or anything like that because our mission is around serving as many people as possible,” Zuckerberg noted. “So we want to make everything that we do as affordable as possible, so as many people as possible can get into it and then compounds the size of the digital economy inside it. So that’s kind of at a high level how I’m thinking about this.” Sunglasses aren’t the only hardware Facebook is reportedly working on. Multiple reports have claimed Facebook is developing a smartwatch with a built-in cellular connection and a detachable display. Initially, it was believed that the watch would be first out the gate, but it seems Zuckerberg had other plans. Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=6MbwMWzBwjo:Mf4BHWjC1d8:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=6MbwMWzBwjo:Mf4BHWjC1d8:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/6MbwMWzBwjoView the full article
  6. Industrial robotics are big and heavy — and in some cases, legitimately dangerous. They’re also extremely difficult to train — particularly if you plan to implement them for tasks outside of their purpose-built intentions. There’s huge opportunity for the right AI/software company to come along and help make the bulky systems intended for things like auto manufacturing easier to program and more versatile. Honestly, there’s probably enough room to support multiple companies in the category as robots become an increasingly essential part of how we do business. This week we saw a pair of big news stories from companies operating in that space. On Tuesday, Covariant announced an $80 million raise — a quick follow-up to the $40 million Series B it announced in May 2020. Image Credits: Covariant I spoke to president, chief scientist and co-founder (and recurring TC Sessions: Robotics guest) Pieter Abbeel for the piece, which you can check out here. I further picked the long-time UC Berkeley professor’s brain about some broader robotics trends. We’ve seen a marked increase in investment activity around robotics and automation since the beginning of the pandemic. Do you anticipate that this interest will maintain? It won’t just maintain. It’ll continue to accelerate on a dramatic scale. The demand isn’t new but the pandemic has certainly increased demand for resilient and robust robotics. COVID-19 accelerated a timeline that was already in motion. Other factors that contribute to the momentum include the rise of e-commerce replacing in-store purchases along with Amazon’s strive for efficiency. They’ve raised consumer expectations of fast delivery across the board and making good on that promise often starts with warehouse automation. As someone with experience in both an educational setting and a startup, how have universities’ approach to incubating companies evolved. What more can and should be done to foster entrepreneurship? With AI the transition from research to practice has been exceptionally fast. An idea could be published today, and many companies might be implementing it into their systems the next day. This trend has made AI researchers uniquely positioned to build new applications (compare this to, let’s say, Airbnb, Uber, food delivery companies, etc., which were not enabled by research advances, but by everyone having a smartphone, enabling a new model of doing business). Structurally, one clear change at many universities is the introduction of artificial intelligence across many programs. A great example is “The Business of AI” course, which I co-teach in the Haas Business School at Berkeley, and which gives business students a solid understanding of the role of AI today, as well as trends and what the future might bring. To foster more entrepreneurship in the U.S., leadership should consider how many international students are also the leading AI researchers. A faster visa/green card process for entrepreneurs would have a very high impact. Do you foresee continuing to teach, as Covariant grown? Yes. I see a very strong synergy between being at the forefront of academic AI research at Berkeley and being at the forefront of industrial R&D bringing AI Robotics into the real world as chief scientist at Covariant. The culture our CEO Peter Chen has fostered at Covariant also has great alignment with this; curiosity and lifelong learning are core values at Covariant. How actively does your team consider biases in its AI work? Bias in AI systems is of course a broader industry issue and is on the minds of our team members. As of today, bias in AI systems doesn’t directly play a role in our current robotic warehousing efforts. However, quality assurance more generally is core to everything we do, and quality assurance isn’t a one-axis thing, we have to consider quality and coverage of various data sources and performance across SKUs, warehouses, customers, etc. In that sense, there are actually many technical parallels. It seems like most of the activity on the industrial robotics front is happening on the software/AI side. Are robotics manufacturers continuing to evolve their hardware as software improves? Indeed, while we largely focus on the software/AI ourselves, we work with amazing partners to deliver fully functioning robotic systems. In doing so, we see continual improvement on the hardware as well. Most visible over a short time period are continual changes in end-of-arm tooling. In addition, we see interesting multiyear roadmap ideas in robotic arm form factors that take more R&D and design effort to bring to market. Image Credits: Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich The other big news of the week is the unveiling of Intrinsic, Alphabet’s most recent robotics play. Or, I guess I should say, most recently announced robotics play. The Alphabet X spinout has apparently been in the works for about five years now. It follows a fairly uneven robotics track record for Alphabet/Google that involved brief ownership of Boston Dynamics. But the company’s offering seems much more in-line with what Google excels at. Here’s Intrinsic CEO, Wendy Tan-White, who most recently served as Alphabet’s VP of Moonshots: Over the last few years, our team has been exploring how to give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn and automatically make adjustments as they’re completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications. Working in collaboration with teams across Alphabet, and with our partners in real-world manufacturing settings, we’ve been testing software that uses techniques like automated perception, deep learning, reinforcement learning, motion planning, simulation and force control. Image Credits: Agility Closing the week’s roundup with a pair of athletic ‘bots. First is the return of Cassie, Oregon State University’s bipedal robot. Cassie took a bit of a backseat to OSU spinoff Agility’s delivery robot, Digit, but the school is continuing to do interesting things with the platform. A team of research helped teach the robot to run, using a a deep reinforcement learning algorithm. In fact, Cassie managed to run a 5K in 53 minutes. Not great by human standards, but extremely solid for a robot using a single battery, particularly when you factor in the 6.5 minutes of troubleshooting an overheated computer and a poorly maneuvered turn. Outside Olympians and T-shirt vendors, Toyota may well have been the most disappointed about the initial decision to delay the summer Olympics. The automotive giant clearly envisioned the Tokyo games as an ideal opportunity to showcase its technology for the world. Now that the games are on, the company’s basketball robot CUE is back in a big way. After debuting in 2018, CUE returned to sink three-pointers during half-time at the USA-France game. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=p2rC0i1vpOM:3BcPE8uA8uo:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=p2rC0i1vpOM:3BcPE8uA8uo:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/p2rC0i1vpOMView the full article
  7. Air taxis may still be pie in the sky, but there’s more than one way to move the air travel industry forward. Craft Aerospace aims to do so with a totally new vertical-takeoff and landing aircraft that it believes could make city-to-city hops simpler, faster, cheaper, and greener. The aircraft — which to be clear is still in small scale prototype form — uses a new VTOL technique that redirects the flow of air from its engines using flaps rather than turning them (like the well-known, infamously unstable Osprey), making for a much more robust and controllable experience. Co-founder James Dorris believes that this fast, stable VTOL craft is the key that unlocks a new kind of local air travel, eschewing major airports for minor ones or even heliports. Anyone that’s ever had to take a flight that lasts under an hour knows that three times longer is spent in security lines, gate walks, and of course in getting to and from these necessarily distant major airports. “We’re not talking about flying wealthy people to the mall — there are major inefficiencies in major corridors,” Dorris told TechCrunch. “The key to shortening that delay is picking people up in cities, and dropping them off in cities. So for these short hops we need to combine the advantages of fixed wing aircraft and VTOL.” The technique they arrived at is what’s called a “blown wing” or “deflected slipstream.” It looks a bit like something you’d see on the cover of a vintage science fiction rag, but the unusual geometry and numerous rotors serve a purpose. The basic principle of a blown wing has been explored before now but never done on a production aircraft. You simply place a set of (obviously extremely robust) flaps directly behind the thrust, where they can be tilted down and into the exhaust stream, directing the airflow downwards. This causes the craft to rise upwards and forwards, and as it gets enough altitude it can retract the flaps, letting the engines operate normally and driving the craft forwards to produce ordinary lift. During takeoff, thrust is redirected downwards by extending flaps. The many rotors are there for redundancy and so that the thrust can be minutely adjusted on each of the four “half-wiings.” The shape, called a box wing, is also something that has been tried in limited fashion (there are drones with it, for example) but ultimately never proved a valid alternative to a traditional swept wing. But Dorris and Craft believe it has powerful advantages in this case, allowing for a much more stable, adjustable takeoff and landing than the two-engine Osprey. (Or indeed many proposed or prototype tilt-rotor aircraft out there.) During flight, the flaps retract and thrust pushes the plane forward as normal. “Our tech is a combination of both existing and novel tech,” he said. “The box wing has been built and flown; the high flap aircraft has been built and flown. They’ve never been synthesized like this in a VTOL aircraft.” Again, to be clear, the company has demonstrated a limited scale model that shows the principle is sound — they’re not claiming there’s a full-scale craft ready to go. That’s years down the line, but willing partners will help them move forward. The fifth generation prototype (perhaps the size of a coffee table) hovers using to the blown wing principle, and the sixth, due to fly in a few months, will introduce the transitioning flaps. (I was shown a video of the prototype doing tethered indoor hovering but the company is not releasing this test footage publicly.) The design of the final craft is still in flux — it’s not known exactly how many rotors it will have, for instance — but the basic size, shape, and capabilities are already penned in. It’ll carry 9 passengers and a pilot, and fly around 35,000 feet or so at approximately 300 knots, or 345 mph. That’s slower than a normal passenger jet, but whatever time you lose in the air ought to be more than regained by skipping the airport. The range of the cleaner hybrid gas-electric engines should be around 1,000 miles, which gives a good amount of flexibility and safety margins. It also covers 45 of the top 50 busiest routes in the world, things like LA to SF, Seoul to Jeju Island, and Tokyo to Osaka. It probably wouldn’t be flying at this altitude. Notably, however, Dorris wants to make it clear that the idea is not “LAX to SFO” but “Hollywood to North Beach.” VTOL aircraft aren’t just for show: regulations permitting, they can touch down in a much smaller location, though exactly what kind of landing pad and micro-airport is envisioned is, like the aircraft itself, still being worked out. The team, which has just worked its way through Y Combinator’s summer 2021 cohort, is experienced in building sophisticated transport: Dorris was a primary on Virgin Hyperloop’s propulsion system, and his co-founder Axel Radermacher helped build Karma Automotive’s drivetrain. It may not have escaped you that neither of those companies makes aircraft, but Dorris thinks of that as a feature, not a bug. “You’ve seen what’s come out of traditional aerospace over the last 10, 20 years,” he said, letting the obvious implication speak for itself that the likes of Boeing and Airbus aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel. And companies that partnered with automotive giants hit walls because there’s a mismatch between the scales — a couple hundred aircraft is very different from half a million Chevy sedans. So Craft is relying on partners who have looked to shake things up in aerospace. Among its advisors are Bryan Berthy (once Director of Engineering at Lockheed Martin), Nikhil Goel (one of Uber Elevate’s co-founders), and Brogan BamBrogan (early SpaceX employee and Hyperloop faithful). The company also just announced a letter of intent from JSX, a small airline serving low-friction flights on local routes, to purchase 200 aircraft and the option for 400 more if wanted. Dorris believes that with their position and growth curve they could make a perfect early partner when the aircraft is ready, probably around 2025 with flights beginning in 2026. It’s a risky, weird play with a huge potential payoff, and Craft thinks that their approach, as unusual as it seems today, is just plainly a better way to fly a couple hundred miles. Positive noises from the industry, and from investors, seem to back that feeling up. The company has received early stage investment (of an unspecified total) from Giant Ventures, Countdown Capital, Soma Capital, and its advisor Nikhil Goel. “We’ve demonstrated it, and we’re getting an enormous amount of traction from aerospace people who have seen hundreds of concepts,” said Dorris. “We’re a team of only 7, about to be 9 people… Frankly, we’re extremely pleased with the level of interest we’re getting.” http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=CDWSdwIIsWs:I-A_DzwvLWc:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=CDWSdwIIsWs:I-A_DzwvLWc:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/CDWSdwIIsWsView the full article
  8. PayPal’s plan to morph itself into a “super app” have been given a go for launch. According to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, speaking to investors during this week’s second-quarter earnings, the initial version of PayPal’s new consumer digital wallet app is now “code complete” and the company is preparing to slowly ramp up. Over the next several months, PayPal expects to be fully ramped in the U.S., with new payment services, financial services, commerce and shopping tools arriving every quarter. The company has spoken for some time about its “super app” ambitions — a shift in product direction that would make PayPal a U.S.-based version of something like China’s WeChat or Alipay or India’s Paytm. Similar to these apps, PayPal aims to offer a host of consumer services under one roof, beyond just mobile payments. In previous quarters, PayPal said these new features may include things like enhanced direct deposit, check cashing, budgeting tools, bill pay, crypto support, subscription management, and buy now/pay later functionality. It also said it would integrate commerce, thanks to the mobile shopping tools acquired by way of its $4 billion Honey acquisition from 2019. So far, PayPal has continued to run Honey as a standalone application, website and browser extension, but the super app could incorporate more of its deal-finding functions, price tracking features, and other benefits. On Wednesday’s earnings call, Schulman revealed the super app would include a few other features as well, including high-yield savings, early access to direct deposit funds, and messaging functionality outside of peer-to-peer payments — meaning you could chat with family and friends directly through the app’s user interface. PayPal hadn’t yet announced its plans to include a messaging component until now, but the feature makes sense in terms of how people often combine chat and peer-to-peer payments today. For example, someone may want to make a personal request for the funds instead of just sending an automated request through an app. Or, after receiving payment, a user may want to respond with a “thank you,” or other acknowledgement. Currently, these conversations take place outside of the payment app itself on platforms like iMessage. Now, that could change. “We think that’s going to drive a lot of engagement on the platform,” said Schulman. “You don’t have to leave the platform to message back and forth.” With the increased user engagement, the company expects to see a related bump in average revenue per active account. Schulman also hinted at “additional crypto capabilities,” which were not detailed. However, PayPal earlier this month increased the crypto purchase limit from $20,000 to $100,000 for eligible PayPal customers in the U.S., with no annual purchase limit. The company also this year made it possible for consumers to check out at millions of online businesses using their cryptocurrencies, by first converting the crypto to cash then settling with the merchant in U.S. dollars. Though the app’s code is now complete, Schulman said the plan is to continue to iterate on the product experience, noting that the initial version will not be “the be-all and end-all.” Instead, the app will see steady releases and new functionality on a quarterly basis. However, he did say that early on, the new features would include the high-yield savings, improved bill pay with a better user experience and more billers and aggregators, as well as early access to direct deposit, budgeting tools, and the new two-way messaging feature. To integrate all the new features into the super app, PayPal will undergo a major overhaul of its user interface. “Obviously, the [user experience] is being redesigned,” Schulman noted. “We’ve got rewards and shopping. We’ve got a whole giving hub around crowdsourcing, giving to charities. And then, obviously, Buy Now, Pay Later will be fully integrated into it…The last time I counted, it was like 25 new capabilities that we’re going to put into the super app,” he said. The digital wallet app will also be personalized to the end user, so no two apps are the same. This will be done using both A.I. and machine learning capabilities to “enhance each customer’s experiences and opportunities,” said Schulman. PayPal delivered an earnings beat in the second quarter with $6.24 billion in revenue, versus the $6.27 billion Wall St. expected, and earnings per share of $1.15 versus the $1.12 expected. Total payment volume from merchant customers also jumped 40% to $311 billion, while analysts had projected $295.2 billion. But the company’s stock slipped due to a lowered outlook for Q3, impacted by eBay’s transition to its own managed payments service. In addition, PayPal gained 11.4 million net new active accounts in the quarter, to reach 403 million total active accounts. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=hlRkSiyXhAQ:DIPtMvm9mKo:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=hlRkSiyXhAQ:DIPtMvm9mKo:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/hlRkSiyXhAQView the full article
  9. Trevor Milton, the fast-talking showman founder of Nikola and the electric truck startup’s former CEO and executive chairman, has been charged with three counts of fraud. Milton “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive retail investors” for his own personal benefit, according to the federal indictment unsealed by U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan on Thursday. Milton was charged with two counts of securities fraud and wire fraud by a federal grand jury. Specifically, prosecutors detailed in the complaint how Milton used social media and frequent appearances on television in a PR blitz that flooded “the market with false and misleading information about Nikola” before the company even produced a product. The charges reflect a fast and furious run for Nikola and Milton, who founded the company in 2015. Milton received more attention after unveiling the first prototype and boasted that the company would produce “the iPhone of trucking.” Promises around other products including an electric pickup truck called Badger would soon follow as well as plans to build a factory in Arizona. In March 2020, the company announced it would go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. Milton frequently posted on Twitter directing his message to retail investors after the company went public that summer. Then in September and just days after GM had announced a $2 billion investment in the company, noted short-seller Hindenburg Research accused Nikola of fraud. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an inquiry in the matter and within two weeks Milton had stepped down as executive chairman. Nikola issued a statement Thursday that distances itself from Milton, who is still its largest shareholder. Trevor Milton resigned from Nikola on September 20, 2020 and has not been involved in the company’s operations or communications since that time. Today’s government actions are against Mr. Milton individually, and not against the company. Nikola has cooperated with the government throughout the course of its inquiry. We remain committed to our previously announced milestones and timelines and are focused on delivering Nikola Tre battery-electric trucks later this year from the company’s manufacturing facilities. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=Rj3fy-nVsOs:QCuqMtlnNH8:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=Rj3fy-nVsOs:QCuqMtlnNH8:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/Rj3fy-nVsOsView the full article
  10. Talkiatry announced today that it has raised a $20 million Series A to scale a strategy simple in theory yet potentially challenging in execution: bring psychiatry services in-network with insurance providers. The round, led by Left Lane Capital with participation from the founder and former CEO of CityMD, Dr. Richard Park, is an extension of Talkiatry’s previously secured $5 million financing. That check was led by Sikwoo Capital Partners with participation from Relevance Ventures and Park. Co-founded by Robert Krayn and Dr. Georgia Gaveras, Talkiatry is a digital health startup that helps consumers access in-network appointments with psychiatrists for therapy and medicine management. The company employs an ongoing care model in which it takes a consumer in through a virtual survey, matches them with a psychiatrist based on their needs, and then follows the consumer through the care process from diagnosing symptoms to the actual prescription of medicine. The startup’s true innovation lies in its plan to make psychiatric services covered by insurance providers for consumers. Many plans today don’t cover mental health services beyond a certain point — and at the same time, many high-quality psychiatrists don’t participate in private insurance plans because of minimal reimbursement and paperwork nightmares. As a result, the psychiatrists that are in-network may be consumed with patients, and the ones at private practices could have a price of up to $300 per session. “There’s many people who have identified the problem that [psychiatrists are not accessible],” said Krayn. “What the issue comes to next is are they really, really solving the problem, or are they working around it?” Krayn explained how startups have turned to hiring therapists and nurse practitioners as replacements for psychiatrists, which he thinks decreases the clinical quality of care (the difference between a therapist and psychiatrist is that the latter can prescribe medication). He said his competitors have also focused more on lessening the out-of-pocket costs instead of avoiding them altogether. “While that does increase access to mental health, we think that that necessarily doesn’t give the most amount of access to solve a real problem, which is that psychiatrists are not accessible,” he said. Talkiatry has partnered with a number of insurance providers including United Healthcare, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield and more. While companies like Cerebral, Headway and Uplit have similarly gone in-network, the co-founder argues that it has the least restrictive relationship with providers, meaning that consumers won’t have to pay out of pocket for anything outside of the typical copay. “Sure, some platforms are offered as an added benefit in addition to a health insurance plan, but may have additional restrictions, i.e., a patient may get access to the platform but still pay a monthly fee to get service. Others may only be allowed a certain number of visits and some may only be available if your employer decides to offer it in addition,” he said. “Talkiatry has none of these restrictions and can be used like any other in-network doctor you typically go to.” Stability among its supply of psychiatrists is key here. Talkiatry has hired psychiatrists as W-2 employees instead of contractors. By not using a contractor model, Talkiatry will have more stability in its services but could struggle with scale. The startup will rapidly and consistently hire psychiatrists with varying backgrounds to serve consumers. Plus, in order to expand into new markets, Talkiatry has to go through the arduous legal process of local licensing requirements, instead of just going to a white-label solution that helps staff similar companies while offloading individual practitioner certification. While Ginger, a well-capitalized growth stage company, and Lyra Health, a digital health unicorn last valued at $4.6 billion, have recently made waves in the behavioral health space, Talkiatry is confident that it can break into the sector, which continues to attract record amounts of venture capital from investors. Its competition is paying attention. For example, Ginger has made more efforts to bring in-network mental health solutions to users, recently partnering with AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia and Cigna. “Providing psychiatry in-network is one avenue to ensure people receive care, but it still does not solve the supply-demand imbalance in the mental healthcare space,” said Russell Glass, Ginger CEO and co-founder. He explained how Ginger’s product being on-demand and virtual helps it address the growing shortage of mental health providers, which will be a hurdle that Talkiatry will need to address, too. Currently, Talkiatry has 44 clinicians on its platform, with 33 as psychiatrists and the remaining as nurse practitioners. It has done 30,000 visits since its launch. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=fJcRdjqCit0:M9kYGqcDByk:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=fJcRdjqCit0:M9kYGqcDByk:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/fJcRdjqCit0View the full article
  11. Developers can be a tough crowd. They typically hate being marketed to and are often short on time, which sets a particularly high bar for any content marketing aimed at them. Coming up with relevant content that developers find interesting takes specific know-how, and this is where Draft.dev comes in. Its Chicago-based founder and CEO Karl Hughes describes the firm as “a superniche content marketing production company, producing technical content for companies that want to reach software engineers.” Hughes and his agency were recommended multiple times in our growth marketer survey, which we launched to surface experts that startups can work with. (If you have your own recommendation, please fill out the survey!) One of the survey respondents noted that developers are underrated as a target audience: It may be niche, but it is a large one. More importantly, they are an audience a growing number of startups need to reach. “If you are going to have subject matter experts write, you also need to have good editors to work with them.” Developer marketing came up in our conversation with strategic marketing firm MKT1, so we called on Hughes to learn more. Our discussion covered a lot of ground, from what he has learned and his ambitions to Draft.dev’s process. Editor’s note: The interview below has been edited for length and clarity: What kind of clients does Draft.dev work with? Karl Hughes: Almost all of our clients are developer tools companies. Mostly Series A- and Series B-funded, so they have got some funding and some knowledge that content marketing works for their audience. What they are trying to do with us is scale production and make sure that what they are writing is going to resonate with developers. What inspired you to create Draft.dev? I’ve been a software developer, and then most recently was a CTO at a startup in Chicago, so I knew that there were lots of companies trying to reach developers [ … ] and that a lot of them were doing a poor job of it. So last year I wanted to combine my tech knowledge with writing knowledge, and that’s where Draft.dev came from — and it’s been awesome! We get to work both with technical and non-technical marketing and developer relations people to help them get more content out. And even though it’s marketing content, it’s super focused on education, because developer marketing is a bit tricky. Developers can be a bit skeptical of marketing, so you have to be nuanced in your approach. You have to be genuinely helpful, so we really try to focus on helpful content that is also a net positive for the client. What are some mistakes that you see companies making when creating content for developers? There are a couple of big challenges that Draft.dev is specifically built to solve: Relying too much on your own team to create content when they are busy and have other priorities, and thinking that you can just get your general copywriting agency to cover developer topics. It usually doesn’t work well. Many companies start off getting their engineers to write content and make the mistake of thinking this will work forever. Let’s say you’re a continuous integration tool and you want to write content that shows developers how your tool works and that it’s a good option. Marketing teams will go to developers and say: “Hey, could you guys write a blog post?” And they’ll usually get a few blog posts here and there, but it’s really hard to build consistent content when these engineers are building the product and have production deadlines to hit. When you look at companies that have done developer marketing really successfully, like Okta and DigitalOcean, you see that they have dedicated teams to produce this content. There’s a reason for that: It’s almost impossible to get your engineers to write everything that you need to produce high-quality and consistent content over time. The other big mistake that I see companies making is thinking that a general marketing writer or SEO copywriter can write great content for developers. That is super rare. I mean, I’ve probably met two or three who can do a decent job of making it look like they know enough to speak with some authority. In general, you either want somebody — either at your company or otherwise — who knows the tool. So for example, if I ask a general SEO copywriter, “Could you write about how to write a SQL query that does X, Y and Z?”, maybe they can hack some other articles together and come up with something, but it’s certainly not going to have the authority that a real software developer has. This is true in any area where you have to rely on subject matter experts to help you with marketing content, but because my background is in development, I knew that this was a huge problem for companies. How does Draft.dev address that? We are definitely not right for every company. But for companies that are looking to scale-up content production and have technical authority behind those pieces, that’s where we come in. Typically, these are companies that know they want to do developer content, but are stretched too thin on their engineering team or they have tried freelancers and have a really hard time managing them and keeping quality consistent. So they come to us to do that. We solve that problem with a huge pool of software developers who write for us on the side. Right now we have about 50 or 60 active monthly writers who are all software developers; they work full-time jobs and do this at night and on weekends. We bring people who are actually in the field, doing these things every day. They bring that technical expertise to the articles that we create for clients. The mutually beneficial aspect here is that while we obviously pay these writers, they also get a byline out on the client’s site. We don’t do a lot of ghostwriting, which is a little unique, but is really good for our style of content because you want to show subject matter expertise. It’s preferable when you don’t have your head of marketing listed as the author of every piece of developer content. It’s nice to have a byline by a real software developer. All of this goes back to what your content strategy is and who you want to reach. This is not blanket advice for everybody, but for companies trying to reach developers who are writing code every day, I think it’s super helpful to have some technical authority from people actually doing this. How do you make sure your writers have subject matter expertise? We have a writer vetting and selection process. Once we have vetted the writers who have applied, we also look for the best match for each article. We are looking through their skills and past experience to see who’d be the best fit. We also recruit specific writers to write about niche topics. Sometimes that means doing cold outreach; sometimes it means going through our networks and figuring out who we know who’s written about Rust before. Things like that can be really tricky and time-consuming for a marketing team to do, but because we are doing this full time for lots of clients, we can spread that work around. It makes a lot of sense, and our clients like that we do this for them. How to you balance your writers’ technical expertise versus writing skills? That is tough! But there are some best practices in this field. If you are going to have subject matter experts write, you also need to have good editors to work with them. There are two sides to how we get high-quality content from software engineers who may be average writers when they start, and are often ESL speakers. The upfront part is that we plan content pretty thoroughly. We go back and forth with the content to make sure we know what we are producing, and we also have technical content planners who make sure that each article has a story, an outline and lot of structure before we give it to a writer. The writer fills in the technical details and personal experience, and then every piece will go through three rounds of edits to get it up to our standards: a technical review; a developmental edit for things like structure and flow, and a copy edit. How do you split these tasks? We’ve refined this process a lot since starting this [in May 2020]. Initially, it was just me and my managing editor Chris [Wolfgang] — she had a lot of experience in editing, so she could do full-stack editing, and I was focused on writing, picking writers, reviewing, etc. That’s how we divided things in the early days, but as we grew, we realized that we wouldn’t find an army of Chrises and Karls. We had to figure out how to split these jobs into specialities where people can do their best work, and that’s how we managed to scale and keep quality high while growing at the pace we have. We now have five full-time people and we work with over 35 startups of various sizes, so we are still a small business, but it has been growing very quickly. How do you get new clients? Our biggest source of new business has been referrals. Clients who work with us love what we do and refer us to other people. We have also ended up working with companies going through accelerator programs like Y Combinator, so when new YC companies ask who does developer content, they hear about us. Besides us there’s probably just a couple of other companies that specialize in this. It’s a very small field so we get mentioned a lot. Have you worked with a talented individual or agency who helped you find and keep more users? Respond to our survey and help other startups find top growth marketers they can work with! Growth has been so organic at the moment that I haven’t pursued a lot of active outreach strategies, but we are starting to get better at boosting this [organic growth]. One of the first hires I made this year was an account manager who’s helped with maintaining relationships with existing clients and getting things like testimonials, case studies, etc. Another thing is that when people see our content, they ask the company who did it, because companies that are selling developers tools really need a way to produce this kind of content, and there aren’t many providers. How do you complement your clients’ own content production efforts? Our two sweet spots are bigger companies that are looking to augment their in-house content team, because they have a hard time keeping developer content going, and really small teams that are building a tool specifically for software developers and need to get going with content production or ramp it up. A lot of our clients will have something like a community writer program in addition to what we provide. For instance, we work with Strapi, which is an open-source tool that has a big community with community writers writing about how they use Strapi. But then they use us to augment that content, because they want to be able to set some topics themselves. A lot of times, community contributions are good for whatever your community happens to be working on, but you can’t necessarily ask your community to write about X or Y. The other challenge here is that with any developer-focused community writing program, you are going to need to spend a lot on editing. A lot of companies underestimate the work it is going to take. That’s where we come in: Instead of hiring all these different people you need and trying to build your own process, you can slot Draft.dev in there for a while. If some day you want to go hire your own team and replace us, that’s great — we’d love you to outgrow us. But ideally, we’d like to stick around and always be part of your developer content efforts. Do you also do anything related to content distribution, such as writing the tweets that go with the articles? We just started doing that; it’s our first big add-on service, where for each piece of content we’ll create social media collateral, like a couple of tweets, LinkedIn posts and Reddit submissions with the subreddits they would be most appropriate for. Then the client just has someone on their team copy-paste and schedule it with whatever system they want. We also send a full promotional checklist they can use to promote the content, because one of the challenges I see with some of the smaller companies we work with is that they sometimes get lost when it comes to getting the content we produce in front of people. If you are not a developer, it’s hard to come up with copy about a technical piece. So by offering that collateral, we’re making it a bit easier. It’s been our first foray into this. We could expand into other things in the future, but that would probably be next year. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=1ZAkauK4qyc:byas9bnRhgA:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=1ZAkauK4qyc:byas9bnRhgA:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/1ZAkauK4qycView the full article
  12. Satellite connectivity company Swarm’s new product will give anyone the ability to create a messaging or Internet of Things (IoT) device, whether that be a hiker looking to stay connected off the grid or a hobbyist wanting to track the weather. The Swarm Evaluation Kit is an all-in-one product that includes a Swarm Tile, the company’s flagship modem device, a VHF antenna, a small solar panel, a tripod, a Feather S2 development board and an OLED from Adafruit. The entire kit comes in at less than 6 pounds and costs $499. The package may sound intimidatingly technical, but Swarm CEO Sara Spangelo explained to TechCrunch that it was designed to be user-friendly, from the most novice consumer all the way through to more advanced users. It “was super intentional to call it an evaluation kit because it’s not a finished product,” Spangelo explained. “It serves two different kinds of groups. The first group is people that want to be able to do messaging anywhere that they are on the planet for a really low cost. … The second group of people will be the tinkerers and the hobbyists and educational folks.” Image Credits: Swarm. CEO and co-founder Sara Spangelo This is the second consumer product for Swarm — it went commercially live with its flagship Swarm Tile earlier this year. The Swarm Tile is a key part of the company’s ecosystem, which includes a few different components: the Tile, a kind of modem that can be embedded in different things and what the customer interfaces with; the satellite network; and a ground station network, which is how the company downlinks data. The Tile is designed for maximum compatibility, so Swarm serves customers across sectors including shipping, logistics and agriculture. “One of the cool things about Swarm is that we’re infrastructure,” she said. “We’re like cellphone towers, so anyone can use us across any vertical.” Some of the use cases she highlighted included customers using Tile in soil moisture sensors, or in asset tracking in the trucking industry. A major part of Swarm’s business model is its low cost, with a Swarm Tile costing $119 and the connectivity service available for only $5 per month per connected device. Spangelo credits not only the engineering innovations in the tiny devices and satellites, but the gains in launch economics, especially for small satellite developers like Swarm. The company also sells direct, which further reduces overhead. Swarm was founded by Spangelo, a pilot and aerospace engineering Ph.D. who spent time at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and at Google on its drone delivery project, Wing. She told TechCrunch that Swarm started as a hobby project between her and co-founder Ben Longmier, who had previously founded a company called Aether Industries that made high-altitude balloon platforms. “Then [we] realized that we could do communications at speeds that were similar to what the legacy players are doing today,” Spangelo said. “There was a lot of buzz around connectivity,” she added, noting that initiatives like Project Loon were garnering a lot of funding. But instead of trying to match the size and scale of some of these multi-year projects, they decided to go small. In the four and a half years since the company’s founding, Swarm has put up a network of 120 sandwich-sized satellites into low Earth orbit and grown its workforce to 32 people. They’ve also been busy onboarding customers that use the Tile. One hope is that the kit will be an additional way to draw customers to Swarm’s service. Spangelo said the kit is for “everybody in between, that likes to just play with things. And it’s not just playing — the playing leads to innovations and ideas, and then it gets deployed out into the world.” http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=cUAVeLvD5C8:sMl_MarsGSY:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=cUAVeLvD5C8:sMl_MarsGSY:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/cUAVeLvD5C8View the full article
  13. Divorce is messy and stressful, made even messier and stressful when a couple is unable to go through the legal process because of the cost. Online divorce startup Hello Divorce is developing a platform to make this process more affordable and quicker. To do this, the Oakland, California-based company announced Thursday a $2 million seed round led by CEAS, with additional funds coming from Lightbank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Gaingels and a group of individuals including Clio CEO Jack Newton, WRG’s Lisa Stone and Equity ESQ led by Ed Diab. Statistics show there are an average of 750,000 divorces in the U.S. each year, and the average total cost of divorce can cost anywhere between $8,400 to $17,500 depending on what state you live in. Overall, some sources value the divorce industry at $50 billion annually. Family law attorney Erin Levine founded the company in 2018 so that couples getting a divorce could access “affordable meaningful legal counsel” and resources beyond online forms. Levine told TechCrunch that the billable hours model for lawyers is “an antiquated process” for consumers that want an easier and clearer path to divorce. “Right now, lawyers are the keeper of information, and clients keep paying until the divorce is done,” she said. “Divorce is more than forms. It is a challenging time, and most people need or want support. I saw a big hole there to use technology and fixed fees to put couples in the driver’s seat and take down that level of conflict.” With this seed round, the company plans on rapidly scaling legal filing options across the U.S., improving its ground-breaking product, and giving consumers more of the content and services they need to feel informed and in control of their divorce process. Hello Divorce provides software and accessible legal services starting at $99 for a do-it-yourself option or for up to an average of $2,000 for legal help along the way to finish the divorce process in a third of the time, and completely remote. Levine said most people spend between two and five years contemplating divorce, and during that time are scared they will not be able to afford it, and if they have children, are afraid of losing them. Of those people, 80% won’t be able to access counsel. Though the company is already profitable, Levine went after venture capital to be able to build an infrastructure and tap into the guidance that CEAS and other investors, like Lightbank’s Eric Ong bring to the table, saying “it is clear what I do know and what I don’t know.” Ong said he met Levine through co-investors on the round, who told him Hello Divorce was something he would resonate with. Lightbank invests in category-stage companies, and he was drawn to what Levine and her team were doing. “They are a combination of industry expertise and thinking outside of the box,” he said. “Eighty percent of people are still not getting meaningful representation, and we looked for technology that would provide a customer value proposition and we didn’t find one until Hello Divorce.” The company plans to use the seed funding to scale legal filing options across the U.S., on product development and new content and services to educate people coming to Hello Divorce’s website. The service is already available in four states — California, Colorado, Texas and Utah. Levine said the choice of initial states was strategic: She is familiar with California law, while Colorado has a complex system for divorce. Texas does not have a streamlined way for same-sex couples to get divorces, something Levine said she wanted to tackle, and Utah has a new regulatory scheme. Up next, she is expanding to New York and Florida, where she will launch in a bilingual format. Since 2018, Hello Divorce has grown 100% year over year, with divorce success rates of 95% after starting the process on the platform. Over the past year, the company received 2,000 inquiries related to how to shelter in place with someone while contemplating divorce and co-parenting during lockdown. “The inquiries increased about staying or going, and what divorce will look like,” Levine said. “It will be awhile before we see the total effects of what divorce looks like following the pandemic.” http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=3SkHzS9Rah4:haUIq4HfeVI:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=3SkHzS9Rah4:haUIq4HfeVI:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/3SkHzS9Rah4View the full article
  14. One year after voice-based AI technology company ConverseNow raised a $3.3 million seed round, the company is back with a cash infusion of $15 million in Series A funding in a round led by Craft Ventures. The Austin-based company’s AI voice ordering assistants George and Becky work inside quick-serve restaurants to take orders via phone, chat, drive-thru and self-service kiosks, freeing up staff to concentrate on food preparation and customer service. Joining Craft in the Series A round were LiveOak Venture Partners, Tensility Venture Partners, Knoll Ventures, Bala Investments, 2048 Ventures, Bridge Investments, Moneta Ventures and angel investors Federico Castellucci and Ashish Gupta. This new investment brings ConverseNow’s total funding to $18.3 million, Vinay Shukla, co-founder and CEO of ConverseNow, told TechCrunch. As part of the investment, Bryan Rosenblatt, partner at Craft Ventures, is joining the company’s board of directors, and said in a written statement that “post-pandemic, quick-service restaurants are primed for digital transformation, and we see a unique opportunity for ConverseNow to become a driving force in the space.” At the time when ConverseNow raised its seed funding in 2020, it was piloting its technology in just a handful of stores. Today, it is live in over 750 stores and grew seven times in revenue and five times in headcount. Restaurants were some of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, and as they reopen, Shukla said their two main problems will be labor and supply chain, and “that is where our technology intersects.” The AI assistants are able to step in during peak times when workers are busy to help take orders so that customers are not waiting to place their orders, or calls get dropped or abandoned, something Shukla said happens often. It can also drive more business. ConverseNow said it is shown to increase average orders by 23% and revenue by 20%, while adding up to 12 hours of extra deployable labor time per store per week. Company co-founder Rahul Aggarwal said more people prefer to order remotely, which has led to an increase in volume. However, the more workers have to multitask, the less focus they have on any one job. “If you step into restaurants with ConverseNow, you see them reimagined,” Aggarwal said. “You find workers focusing on the job they like to do, which is preparing food. It is also driving better work balance, while on the customer side, you don’t have to wait in the queue. Operators have more time to churn orders, and service time comes down.” ConverseNow is one of the startups within the global restaurant management software market that is forecasted to reach $6.94 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Over the past year, startups in the space attracted both investors and acquirers. For example, point-of-sale software company Lightspeed acquired Upserve in December for $430 million. Earlier this year, Sunday raised $24 million for its checkout technology. The new funding will enable ConverseNow to continue developing its line-busting technology and invest in marketing, sales and product innovation. It will also be working on building a database from every conversation and onboarding new customers quicker, which involves inputting the initial menu. By leveraging artificial intelligence, the company will be able to course-correct any inconsistencies, like background noise on a call, and better predict what a customer might be saying. It will also correct missing words and translate the order better. In the future, Shukla and Aggarwal also want the platform to be able to tell what is going on around the restaurant — what traffic is like, the weather and any menu promotions to drive upsell. http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=7Q72WNTAKBA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=xO3h0co7COA:mc5Dd4obFrM:-BTjWOF_DHI http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?i=xO3h0co7COA:mc5Dd4obFrM:D7DqB2pKExk http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~4/xO3h0co7COAView the full article
  15. In the past, those operating unlicensed torrent sites or streaming services in the UK needed to be aware of breaching civil copyright law, action that could result in a damages award but not a custodial sentence. Times have changed. These days civil copyright actions have almost completely disappeared and it’s now exponentially more likely that offenders will be pursued in criminal cases, ones that have the potential to put them behind bars. That’s also the case following a new arrest carried out by police in the UK. West Mercia Police Make New Arrest In an announcement Wednesday, West Mercia Police said they had arrested a 56-year-old man in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury for offenses connected to the operation of an illegal streaming service offering premium TV channels and other copyrighted content. The action was taken following an investigation carried out in partnership with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). The anti-piracy company informs TorrentFreak that since there is a live investigation, the name of the service cannot be named. However, West Mercia Police has provided additional details which put a little more meat on the bones. Streams Disabled, Message Displayed to Users It’s not clear when the warrant was executed but police say they were able to access and then disrupt the streaming service and disable the illegal streams. They also placed on an on-screen message viewable by users of the service stating that the content they were watching is suspected to be unlawful. This tactic of warning users directly has been deployed before, including when Norfolk and Suffolk police targeted the Global / Global Entertainment (GE Hosting) IPTV service last summer. “This operation is the unit’s first arrest in relation to online streaming and sends out a strong message that we are homing in on those who knowingly commit or facilitate online copyright infringement,” says Sergeant Ian Osborne from West Mercia’s Cyber Crime Unit. “Not only is there an enormous loss to the entertainment industry with this particular operation but it is also unfair that millions of people work hard to afford their subscription-only TV services while others cheat the system.” Items Seized During the Raid (Image: West Mercia Police) Suspect Arrested For Multiple Offenses While copyright infringement offenses appear to underpin the alleged crimes of the suspect, West Mercia Police say the man was arrested for Money Laundering (s327 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) and encouraging or assisting in the commission of the offense of obtaining services dishonestly (s44 Serious Crime Act 2007 and s11 Fraud act 2006). Breaking this down, section 11 of the Fraud Act makes it an offense for any person to obtain services for which payment is required, with the intent to avoid payment. The person must know that the services are made available on the basis that they are chargeable, which is certainly the case in respect of official TV broadcasts or streams. Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 relates to those intentionally encouraging or assisting an offense. As pointed out by FACT CEO Kieron Sharp, customers of pirate streaming services also commit an offense. This was also stated in letters previously sent to the customers of GE Hosting who were told by Norfolk and Suffolk Police they were committing an offense under the Fraud Act. The allegations against the recently arrested suspect indicate that he could be held responsible for assisting his customers to commit a crime. The money laundering aspect is a natural consequence of generating gain from crime and then possessing, concealing, or otherwise dealing with assets including, but not limited to, cash and other forms of money. Current information indicates that the suspect hasn’t yet been formally charged. From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. View the full article
  16. The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa’s “Accidentally Wes Anderson” show will feature Mothersbaugh’s unheard work for Anderson’s films View the full article
  17. The track arrives with a video shot on the streets of New York City and Puerto Rico View the full article
  18. The 2005 LP earned Prine the Best Contemporary Folk Album trophy at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards View the full article
  19. The “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give” visual closes with this message: “My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you.” View the full article
  20. Nitepunk’s latest rap-fueled, trap-tinged bass creation has hit HARD Records — and we have the exclusive premiere of the official music video out tomorrow. “MTV” is described as the producer’s most defiant piece of work to date, reflecting on the swell of commotion surrounding BLM protests, aggressive lockdown orders, and one of the most trying times in human history. Nitepunk shares, “I think [MTV] was my own reflection on that period, it felt like an entire scene around the world was staged, media feeding minds like never before etc, communities split up in different extreme directions.” Truly, we can all relate. Channeling that madness happening around the world into his art, Nitepunk landed on “MTV” and reached out to Los Angeles rapper Sugi Dakks to take it to the next level. Nitepunk says he “absolutely destroyed it with performance and lyrics, really nailed the attitude and the message I was going for.” Which brings us to the visual expression of the track, for which Nitepunk invited his friends and fans to simply party together on a rooftop, amplifying the roots of dance music. Though the heavy-hitting production is driven by dark and edgy tones, the music video concept is as wholesome as it gets — and we’re in love with the message. Nitepunk shares, the idea here was to “rage together on the music we love and capture the emotions and moments of total freedom and joy that’s usually taken from all the negativity and negative media around the world, that’s always trying to take our focus away from things that make us feel alive, and that make us be in the present…” Watch here, ahead of the official release on HARD’s YouTube channel, and link up with Nitepunk below. Nitepunk – MTV Stream/download: https://hardrecs.co/MTV Connect with Nitepunk SoundCloud | Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: Nitepunk Rages with Friends in Defiant “MTV” Music Video via HARD Records [PREMIERE] View the full article
  21. Rich Delinquent is a one-of-a-kind artist. He’s pioneering his own lane, meshing pop/punk vocal style with electrifying future bass arrangements, equaling a entirely captivating brand and discography. His latest single is yet another impeccable release, this time teaming up with vocalist Akacia for their single, “Renegades“. It includes an incredibly catchy melody with lyrics talking of escaping this reality to one with less problems and easier love stories. Both vocal performances along with the production are flawless, making “Renegades” a tune that you could expect to hear anywhere from festival ground to dance radio. Hear “Renegades” by Rich Delinquent & Akacia below! This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: Rich Delinquent Teams Up With Vocalist Akacia For Massive Single, “Renegades” [24-8 Records] View the full article
  22. Joined by guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard, Hill performed with the iconic blues rock outfit for over 50 years View the full article
  23. 1788-L released his first songs in two years earlier in 2021, with the A/B release Parallel: S, “Human Machine” and “Automaton.” Now, he’s back with his newest single, bringing forth a heavier electro sound, “HI-TECH.” Where there were clear Daft Punk influences on “Automaton,” “HI-TECH” goes to another French duo this time, Justice. That being said, the influence is surface level and there’s still plenty of 1788-L’s now notable electro and bass riffs throughout. You can catch 1788-L at HARD Summer this Sunday at the Green Tent! Listen to “HI-TECH” below. Photo via Rukes.com This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: 1788-L Drops Newest Heavy Electro Banger, “HI-TECH” [LISTEN] View the full article
  24. DJ Snake fuses elements of classic R&B, funk and dance in his latest creation, “You Are My High,” out now. Embracing an unexpected change of pace, this soulful original is sure to heat up the summer, serving as a boundary-pushing disruptor and palate cleanser in one. Sizzling textures and high pitched synths create a glistening effect as the vocals call out and repeat, “You Are My High” — and DJ Snake works his magic. The track follows up DJ Snake’s recent collaboration with Malaa, “Ring the Alarm,” which just dropped on Friday. The genre-breaking, unruly anthem, offers an entirely different, party-starting intention with hyped up vocals, alarms and rave synths. This may be the beginning of something bigger, as DJ Snake shares, “WE JUST GETTING STARTED.” “‘YOU ARE MY HIGH’ OUT NOW EVERYWHERE.” Listen here! DJ Snake – You Are My High Photo via Rukes.com This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: DJ Snake Drops Sizzling R&B Funk-Fused Track “You Are My High” [LISTEN] View the full article
  25. Lollapalooza returns tomorrow and will be streamed live from Grant Park in Chicago. Hulu and Lolla have partnered up to present a handful of in-demand acts each day in this ad-free experience. While Hulu doesn’t offer the ability to hop stages and build custom schedules, it does offer hours of entertainment running Thursday – Sunday straight from the Lollapalooza festival grounds. Steve Aoki, Tyler The Creator, Post Malone and Foo Fighters will headline the stream on each respective night. Plus, Jauz, Oliver Heldens, Dr. Fresch, Riot Ten, Dombresky, Vintage Culture and more. With Young Thug, Journey and Modest Mouse in the mix, Lolla offers an eclectic mix of acts as always. C3 Presents‘ Courtney Trucksess shares on the live stream, via Billboard: “We are thrilled to be partnering for the first time with Hulu for this year’s livestream and are excited that the Lollapalooza fans who cannot be with us in Chicago have such a great platform to experience the show.” See the full schedule below and get live access here. Lollapalooza x Hulu Live Stream Schedule Thursday, July 29 1:10 p.m. – Aly & AJ 1:30 p.m. – Ant Clemons 1:55 p.m. – MAX 3:20 p.m. – Dombresky 4:00 p.m. – Dayglow 5:10 p.m. – Black Pumas 6:20 p.m. – Jimmy Eat World 8:30 p.m. – Steve Aoki Friday, July 30 1:30 p.m. – Tai Verdes 2:05 p.m. – Tobi Lou 4:05 p.m. – Emotional Oranges 4:40 p.m. – Riot Ten 6:15 p.m. – White Reaper 7:25 p.m. – Jauz 8:00 p.m. – Jack Harlow 9:05 – Tyler The Creator Saturday, July 31 1:10 p.m. – Cannons 1:50 p.m. – Hinds 4:00 p.m. – Vintage Culture 5:00 p.m. – Young The Giant 8:00 p.m. – Oliver Heldens 8:30 p.m. – Journey 9:20 p.m. – Post Malone Sunday, August 1 1:10 p.m. – Sir Chloe 1:30 p.m. – Flipp Dinero 3:30 p.m. – Dr. Fresch 4:05 p.m. – Young Thug 5:10 p.m. – The Front Bottoms 6:10 p.m. – Modest Mouse 7:15 p.m. – Band Of Horses 8:20 p.m. – Foo Fighters Sources: Uproxx, Billboard | Photo Credit: Charles Reagan Hackleman This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: Lollapalooza Streams Live on Hulu This Weekend with Steve Aoki, Jauz, Oliver Heldens & More View the full article
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