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Daily Crunch: Facebook bans deepfakes

January 7, 2020 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook bans deceptive deepfakes and some misleadingly modified media

In a policy update announced late yesterday, Facebook’s Monika Bickert wrote that moving forward, the social network will take a stricter line on manipulated media content — removing content that’s been edited or synthesized “in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say.”

However, edits for quality or cuts and splices to videos that simply curtail or change the order of words are not covered by the ban. So as Natasha Lomas notes, a more subtle form of political fakery will still be allowed.

2. TiVo announces a $ 49.99 device that combines streaming and live TV

CEO Dave Shull said the TiVo Stream 4K is launching the company “full on into the streaming wars.” It’s integrated with services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO, and will also include content from TiVo+, the free, ad-supported movie and TV service that the company launched last fall. And it will include live TV and cloud DVR through Sling TV.

3. Union Square Ventures leads legal tech startup Juro’s $ 5M Series A

Juro’s business is focused on taking the tedium out of negotiating and drawing up contracts by making contract-building more interactive and trackable.

4. BMW launches gaze detection so your car knows what you’re looking at

Using its AI tools, the concept car’s systems can follow the driver’s gaze and interpret it. That means you will be able to get more information about a restaurant, or about which movies are playing at a cinema that you’re driving by.

5. Tech-driven change a key priority for new EC president

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made responding to technology-driven change a key priority for her five-year term — which began last month — alongside challenges posed by climate change and demographic shifts, tacitly linking all three to a rise in regional unease. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Cloudflare acquires stealthy startup S2 Systems, announces Cloudflare for Teams

Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO at Cloudflare, says that this acquisition is part of a new suite of products called Cloudflare for Teams, which has been designed to protect an organization from threats on the internet. S2 developed a solution specifically to help prevent browser-based code attacks.

7. Mercedes-Benz and James Cameron built an Avatar-inspired car perfect for Pandora

Speaking of concept cars, Mercedes-Benz channeled the world of James Cameron’s hit movie “Avatar” for its latest — an electric autonomous vehicle covered in bionic flaps that aims to show how man and machine can merge and live responsibly in nature.


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Daily Crunch: Facebook acquires a cloud gaming startup

December 20, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook acquires Madrid-based cloud gaming startup PlayGiga

Facebook is building out its gaming business — earlier this year, the company added its Gaming hub to the main navigation menu. And last month, it agreed to buy Beat Games, developer of popular virtual reality title Beat Saber.

PlayGiga, meanwhile has been working with telcos to create streaming game technology for 5G. It also developed a gaming-as-a-service platform, using Intel’s Visual Cloud platform, that will enable telcos and communication service providers to offer streaming games to their customers.

2. TiVo merges with technology licensor Xperi in $ 3 billion deal

Earlier this year, TiVo said it was preparing to split itself into two — a product and IP business — in order to make itself more attractive to buyers. Today, the company announced those plans have been put on hold as it has instead merged with technology licensor Xperi Corporation, in a $ 3 billion deal.

3. Spotify prototypes Tastebuds to revive social music discovery

Tastebuds (discovered by reverse engineering master Jane Manchun Wong) is designed to let users explore the music taste profiles of their friends. It will live as a navigation option alongside your Library and Home/Browse sections.

4. Uber’s ride-hailing business hit with ban in Germany

In Germany, Uber’s ride-hailing business works exclusively with professional and licensed private-hire vehicle companies — so the court ban essentially outlaws Uber’s current model in the country.

5. Snackpass snags $ 21M to let you earn friends free takeout

Sending people Snackpass rewards became a new way to flirt or show gratitude at Yale. And through the Venmo-esque Snackpass social feed, users could keep up with a fresh form of gossip while discovering restaurants.

6. PayPal completes GoPay acquisition, allowing the payments platform to enter China

Though China’s payment market today is led by local players, including eWallet providers like AliPay and WeChat Pay, there’s room for PayPal to grow in a market where digital payments per year are counted in the trillions, not billions, of dollars.

7. Tesla’s record stock price shows its investment in energy storage is finally paying off

A little over a year after sparking a legal firestorm for musing that he would take Tesla private for $ 420, Elon Musk is probably glad he didn’t. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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Daily Crunch: Facebook launches its News section

October 28, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook starts testing News, its new section for journalism

Facebook’s news section, which was previously reported to be imminent, is here: The company is rolling out Facebook News in a limited test in the U.S. as a home screen tab and bookmark in the main Facebook app.

Should publishers trust Facebook? Well, Josh Constine argues that none of them have learned the right lessons from the last 10 years.

2. Pixelbook Go review: a Chromebook in search of meaning

The Go is clearly Google’s attempt to lead the way for manufacturers looking to explore Chromebook life outside the classroom. It has some nice hardware perks, but it’s not the revolution or revelation ChromeOS needs.

3. SpaceX wants to land Starship on the Moon before 2022, then do cargo runs for 2024 human landing

SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell shed a little more light on her company’s current thinking with regards to the mission timelines for its forthcoming Starship spacefaring vehicle.

4. After its first earnings miss in two years, Amazon shares get walloped in after-hours trading

Amazon shares fell by nearly 7% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company reported its first earnings miss in two years.

5. Lawmakers ask US intelligence chief to investigate if TikTok is a national security threat

In a letter by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), the lawmakers asked the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire if the app maker could be compelled to turn Americans’ data over to Chinese authorities.

6. The SaaS gold rush will become the ‘Hunger Games’

Enterprise software investor Rory O’Driscoll says that while the cloud is obviously here to stay, the next five years in cloud investing will neither be the same nor as easy as the last 10. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. Learn how to raise your first euros at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin

Startup funding experts — including Forward Partners managing partner Nic Brisbourne, Target Global partner Malin Holmberg and DocSend co-founder and chief executive officer Russ Heddleston — will sit down together on the Extra Crunch Stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.


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Daily Crunch: Zuckerberg has thoughts on free speech

October 21, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Zuckerberg on Chinese censorship: Is that the internet we want?

The Facebook CEO spoke yesterday at Georgetown University, sharing his thoughts on speech and “how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world.”

Among his arguments: China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check.

2. Atlassian acquires Code Barrel, makers of Automation for Jira

Sydney-based Code Barrel was founded by two of the first engineers who built Jira at Atlassian, Nick Menere and Andreas Knecht. With this acquisition, they are returning to Atlassian after four years in startup land.

3. Swarm gets green light from FCC for its 150-satellite constellation

Swarm Technologies aims to connect smart devices around the world with a low-bandwidth but ever-present network provided by satellites — and it just got approval from the FCC to do so. Apparently the agency is no longer worried that Swarm’s sandwich-sized satellites are too small to be tracked.

4. Nintendo Switch hits another sales milestone

Nintendo’s North American Switch unit sales have already surpassed the lifetime worldwide unit sales of the Wii U. The company announced Thursday that they had sold 15 million units of the popular handheld console in North America.

5. HBO Max scores all 21 Studio Ghibli films

WarnerMedia has been on a shopping spree for its HBO Max service. It bought the rights to “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and now it’s using its outsized checkbook to bring beloved Japanese animation group Studio Ghibli’s films onto the web exclusively on its platform for U.S. subscribers.

6. Volvo creates a dedicated business for autonomous industrial and commercial transport

The vehicle-maker has already been active in putting autonomous technology to work in various industries, with self-driving projects at quarries and mines, and in the busy port located at Gothenburg, Sweden.

7. How Unity built the world’s most popular game engine

Unity’s growth is a case study of Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. While other game engines targeted the big AAA game makers at the top of the console and PC markets, Unity went after independent developers with a less robust product that was better suited to their needs and budget. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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Daily Crunch: Zuckerberg has thoughts on free speech

October 21, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Zuckerberg on Chinese censorship: Is that the internet we want?

The Facebook CEO spoke yesterday at Georgetown University, sharing his thoughts on speech and “how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world.”

Among his arguments: China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check.

2. Atlassian acquires Code Barrel, makers of Automation for Jira

Sydney-based Code Barrel was founded by two of the first engineers who built Jira at Atlassian, Nick Menere and Andreas Knecht. With this acquisition, they are returning to Atlassian after four years in startup land.

3. Swarm gets green light from FCC for its 150-satellite constellation

Swarm Technologies aims to connect smart devices around the world with a low-bandwidth but ever-present network provided by satellites — and it just got approval from the FCC to do so. Apparently the agency is no longer worried that Swarm’s sandwich-sized satellites are too small to be tracked.

4. Nintendo Switch hits another sales milestone

Nintendo’s North American Switch unit sales have already surpassed the lifetime worldwide unit sales of the Wii U. The company announced Thursday that they had sold 15 million units of the popular handheld console in North America.

5. HBO Max scores all 21 Studio Ghibli films

WarnerMedia has been on a shopping spree for its HBO Max service. It bought the rights to “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and now it’s using its outsized checkbook to bring beloved Japanese animation group Studio Ghibli’s films onto the web exclusively on its platform for U.S. subscribers.

6. Volvo creates a dedicated business for autonomous industrial and commercial transport

The vehicle-maker has already been active in putting autonomous technology to work in various industries, with self-driving projects at quarries and mines, and in the busy port located at Gothenburg, Sweden.

7. How Unity built the world’s most popular game engine

Unity’s growth is a case study of Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. While other game engines targeted the big AAA game makers at the top of the console and PC markets, Unity went after independent developers with a less robust product that was better suited to their needs and budget. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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Daily Crunch: Apple pulls Hong Kong app

October 11, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Apple pulls HKmap from App Store, the day after Chinese state media criticized its ‘unwise and reckless decision’ to approve it

Less than a day after Apple was criticized by Chinese state media for allowing HKmap in the App Store, the crowdsourced map app said it had been delisted.

This is Apple’s second reversal on the issue, which it explained with a statement claiming it learned that the app “has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.”

2. Grammarly raises $ 90M at over $ 1B+ valuation for its AI-based grammar and writing tools

Grammarly provides a toolkit used today by 20 million people to correct their written grammar, suggest better ways to write things and moderate their tone depending on who will be doing the reading.

3. Okta wants to make every user a security ally

Okta is giving end users information about suspicious activity involving their login, while letting them share information with the company’s security apparatus.

4. Waymo to customers: ‘Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way’

Waymo’s existing programs all use a human safety driver behind the wheel. Now the Alphabet-owned company is getting ready for completely driverless rides.

5. Calm and Room made a $ 4,000 branded ‘meditation booth’

From the looks of it, the Calm Booth by Room is little more than a standard Room booth, with frosted glass, softer lighting and “a soothing misty forest interior.” But it’s a pretty smart partnership between two white-hot startups.

6. Creators of modern rechargeable batteries share Nobel prize

The prize this year honors M. Stanley Whittingham, John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino, all of whom contributed to the development of what is today the most common form of portable power.

7. Silicon Valley’s competing philosophies on tech ethics with The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz

Marantz has in recent years trained his attention on the tech world and its contribution to social unrest in the United States and beyond. And he has just published a new book, “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Daily Crunch: Facebook announces Portal TV

September 18, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook launches Portal TV, a $ 149 video chat set-top box

The Portal TV lets you hang out with friends using your home’s biggest screen. It’s part of a new line of Portal devices that bring the platform’s auto-zooming AI camera, in-house voice assistant speaker, Messenger video chat and end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp video calls to smaller form factors.

Facebook says it also will provide a lot more clarity around privacy — although human review of voice recordings is still turned on by default.

2. Apple Watch Series 5 review

The Apple Watch Series 5 doesn’t include any hardware additions quite as flashy as the LTE functionality and ECG monitor it introduced with previous updates. But taken as a whole, the new features maintain the device’s spot at the top of the smartwatch heap.

3. Google Fi gets an unlimited plan

For the longest time, Google Fi didn’t play the unlimited calls, text and data game. That’s changing this week.

simone gertz

4. Roboticist and YouTube star Simone Giertz is coming to Disrupt SF

With 1.92 million YouTube subscribers, Giertz is best known for her “shitty” robotic creations, including arms that serve soup and breakfast, draw holiday cards and apply lipstick — to hilariously uneven results.

5. Documents reveal how Russia taps phone companies for surveillance

Documents reviewed by TechCrunch offer new insight into the scope and scale of the Russian surveillance system known as SORM, and how Russian authorities gain access to the calls, messages and data of customers of the country’s largest phone provider.

6. Podcast app Pocket Casts is now available for free, with an optional $ 0.99 subscription

Previously, you had to pay a one-time fee of $ 3.99 to access the Android or iOS apps, but CEO Owen Grover said this approach seemed increasingly at odds with Pocket Casts’ goals, and with the vision of the public radio organizations that acquired it last year.

7. In a social media world, here’s what you need to know about UGC and privacy

For a brand, is it worth the effort to incorporate UGC into their marketing strategy? And if so, how can they do it within the rules — and more importantly, in adherence with the expectations of consumers? (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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Daily Crunch: Samsung unveils the Galaxy Note 10

August 8, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. This is Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 and 10+

The landscape has changed dramatically since the Galaxy Note was first unveiled in 2011, with Samsung pulling the rest of the industry into a world of bigger screens.

Now, the question is how to make the latest updates compelling. With the Note 10 and 10+ (available August 23 at a starting price of $ 950), Samsung is splitting the line into two distinct devices, and it’s getting rid of the headphone jack.

2. Google launches ‘Live View’ AR walking directions for Google Maps

The Live View feature isn’t designed with the idea that you’ll hold up your phone continually as you walk. Instead, in provides quick, easy and super-useful orientation by showing you arrows and big, readable street markers overlaid on the real scene in front of you.

3. Lyft’s stock is a roller coaster after its Q2 earnings release

Despite big losses, what made Wall Street happy was Lyft’s optimism for Q3, as well as the full-year 2019.

Netflix app icon iOS

Photo: TechCrunch

4. Netflix signs multi-year deal with ‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is worth $ 200 million. This follows expensive Netflix pacts with other high-profile showrunners, including Ryan Murphy ($ 300 million) and Shonda Rhimes ($ 100 million).

5. Instagram ad partner secretly sucked up and tracked millions of users’ locations and stories

Hyp3r, an apparently trusted marketing partner of Facebook and Instagram, has been secretly collecting and storing location and other data on millions of users, violating the policies of the social networks, according to Business Insider.

6. Sperm storage startups are raising millions

Both Dadi and Legacy recently raised funding, hoping to leverage venture capital dollars to become the dominant men’s fertility brand.

7. How to fundraise in August

Danny Crichton argues that although August is generally considered a black hole for VC, using it effectively for fundraising is perhaps the single most important factor for success in the coming season. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

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Daily Crunch: Instagram influencer contact info exposed

May 22, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Millions of Instagram influencers had their private contact data scraped and exposed

A massive database containing contact information for millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts was found online by a security researcher.

We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox. Shortly after we reached out, Chtrbox pulled the database offline.

2. US mitigates Huawei ban by offering temporary reprieve

Last week, the Trump administration effectively banned Huawei from importing U.S. technology, a decision that forced several American companies, including Google, to take steps to sever their relationships. Now, the Department of Commerce has announced that Huawei will receive a “90-day temporary general license” to continue to use U.S. technology to which it already has a license.

3. GM’s car-sharing service Maven to exit eight cities

GM is scaling back its Maven car-sharing company and will stop service in nearly half of the 17 North American cities in which it operates.

4. Maisie Williams’ talent discovery startup Daisie raises $ 2.5M, hits 100K members

The actress who became famous playing Arya Stark on “Game of Thrones” has fresh funding for her startup.

5. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, plans to launch a free music streaming app

The company, which operates popular app TikTok, has held discussions with music labels to launch the app as soon as the end of this quarter.

6. Future Family launches a $ 200 membership for fertility coaching

In its recent user research, Future Family found that around 70% of new customers had yet to see a fertility doctor. So today, the startup is rolling out a new membership plan that offers customers a dedicated fertility coach, and helps them find a doctor in their area.

7. When will customers start buying all those AI chips?

Danny Crichton says it’s the best and worst time to be in semiconductors right now. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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Daily Crunch: The lonely death of Google+

April 4, 2019 No Comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. RIP Google+

This is the end for Google+, Google’s failed social network that once tried to take on Facebook and Twitter. As scheduled, the company has now started deleting user accounts and their data.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, we’ve got a recap of some of our coverage over the years.

2. Andreessen Horowitz isn’t alone in leaving behind VC as we know it — and more company is coming

A story in Forbes suggests that Andreessen Horowitz — whose agency-like model has been widely replicated by other big venture firms — is re-shaping venture capital a second time. It’s doing this by turning itself into a registered investment advisor.

3. iPhones get a price drop in China

Apple has lowered the price on a number of key hardware lines in China, including AirPods, Macs, iPads and, most notably, the iPhone. The move is believed to be the direct result of a 3 percent tax cut that took effect in the country yesterday.

4. DOJ reportedly warns Academy about changing Oscar rules to exclude streaming

The Department of Justice sent the Academy a letter stating that Oscar eligibility changes designed to exclude Netflix and other streaming services “may raise antitrust concerns.”

5. WhatsApp adds a new privacy setting for groups in another effort to clamp down on fake news

Through a new feature, users can control who has permission to add them to groups. The company says this will “help to limit abuse” and keep people’s phone numbers private.

6. Foursnap? Snapchat tries ‘Status’ location check-ins

Snapchat is now testing Status, an option to share to the Snap Map a Bitmoji depicting what you’re up to at a certain place. You could show your avatar playing video games, watching TV, asking friends to hit you up and more.

7. Singapore’s proposed ‘fake news’ law could stifle free speech

The “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill” had its first reading on Monday and one of the key takeaways is that it will allow the government to force “corrections” to be added to online content that is deemed to be “false.”


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