Google unveils its $300M News Initiative, with tools for subscriptions, security and fighting fake news

Google today announced a multi-pronged News Initiative, which Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler described as a way to tie together all the company’s efforts to work with the journalism industry. Google says the News Initiative is focused on three broad goals — strengthening quality journalism, supporting different business models and empowering newsrooms through technological innovation. It’s also committing to spend $300 million over the next three years on its various journalism-related projects. At a New York City press event, Schindler told journalists and other industry attendees, “Our mission is inherently tied to your business.” He acknowledged that this might sound like “big company rhetoric.” To put it less diplomatically, news organizations might not view Google or the other big Internet platforms as allies given their dominance of the online ad business and the role they play in spreading sensationalistic or questionable stories, not to mention misinformation and hoaxes.
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The Podcast App aims to be the simplest way to listen to podcasts

While it sometimes feels like everyone has a podcast nowadays, the truth is that most Americans still don’t listen to podcasts regularly. The Y Combinator-backed team behind The Podcast App is planning to change that. And yes, that’s the app’s real name. Co-founder and CEO Martín Siniawski said that no one else claimed it first. Siniawski argued that most existing podcast apps were built years ago, “when it was a really different medium.” They’re designed for people who already understand what a podcast is, already know which podcasts they’re looking for and already understand what it means to subscribe. In contrast, Siniawski said The Podcast App is designed to be “extremely fast, extremely easy and extremely reliable and stable.” How easy? Well, the website boasts that it’s “so simple even your grandma could use it.” “We’ve invested heavily on making sure that we can onboard people
The Podcast App
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Original Content podcast: We take a drink with season two of ‘Jessica Jones’

Netflix recently released the second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, which finds the titular private detective dealing with unwanted fame and investigating the mysterious organization that gave her superpowers. Despite successfully confronting her nemesis Kilgrave at the end of season one, Jessica (played by Krysten Ritter) remains as prickly as ever — and just as fond of whiskey. On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we catch up with her latest misadventures and wrestle with the show’s bigger themes. We also catch up on some of the latest streaming and entertainment news, including Hulu’s successful bid for a series based on Little Fires Everywhere and Ava DuVernay signing on to direct a movie based on DC Comics’ New Gods. And we get the latest on co-host Jordan Crook’s belated marathon to catch up on the Star Wars movies. (Don’t tell anyone, but she liked the prequels.
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FitHouse aims to make fancy fitness classes more affordable

Fitness-oriented New Yorkers aren’t facing a shortage of classes that they can sign up for, but the prices can add up — Clément Benoit, founder of a new startup called FitHouse, said boutique classes cost an average of $35 per session. FitHouse, on the other hand, is charging $99 per month for unlimited classes. Contrast that not just with a traditional studio, but also with ClassPass, where pricing in NYC ranges from $45 (for two to four classes) to $135 (for eight to 12 classes) per month. In many ways, FitHouse offers a more traditional model than ClassPass — instead of giving subscribers access to a classes run by other studios and instructors, it’s building a studio of its own. Benoit said this gives the company more control over the experience, and a bigger piece of the revenue, which he said “we redistribute to both the user and the
Clément Benoit
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TypingDNA launches Chrome extension that verifies your identity based on typing

TypingDNA has a new approach to verifying your identity based on how you type. The startup, which is part of the current class at Techstars NYC, is pitching this as an alternative to two-factor authentication — namely, the security feature that sends unique codes to a separate device (usually your phone) to make sure someone else isn’t logging in with your password. The problem with two factor? TypingDNA Raul Popa put it simply: “It’s a bad user experience … Nobody wants to use a different device.” (I know that TechCrunch writers have had two-factor issues of their own, like when they’re trying to log in on an airplane and can’t connect their phone.) So TypingDNA allows users to verify their identity without having to whip out their phone. Instead, they just enter their name and password into a window, then TypingDNA will analyze their typing and confirm
TypingDNA Authenticator - Animation
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Delphia helps publishers create complex, AI-driven surveys

You’re probably familiar with quizzes from online publishers like BuzzFeed. But what if a quiz could actually help you sort through tough decisions and complex topics, not just which Sex and the City character or Disney princess you most closely resemble? That’s basically what Y Combinator -backed startup called Delphia is promising. CEO Clifton van der Linden said the company works with publishers to create applications that help their readers make decisions. Van der Linden is a Ph.D. candidate in the political science department at the University of Toronto, and he first built an application called Vote Compass, which tells users how their political views line up with election candidates. (In the United States, Vote Compass was released in partnership with Vox.) Now, however, Delphia is working to bring a similar approach to non-political questions, like helping kids decide which college to attend, or helping adults figure
Vote Compass
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CFO Naeem Ishaq is leaving Boxed

Naeem Ishaq is leaving his role as chief financial officer of bulk e-commerce company Boxed. Ishaq joined Boxed in 2016, following a stint as head of finance, strategy and risk at Square. A Boxed spokesperson confirmed Ishaq’s departure, and sent the following statement from CEO Chieh Huang:
Naeem is a world-class financial talent. Over the last two years, he has been indispensable in helping build and grow Boxed to what it is today. We will miss his energy, focus and enthusiasm for our company. Perhaps his greatest legacy is building a well-versed finance team that will continue to focus on evolving the Boxed platform. I want to thank Naeem for his contribution to Boxed and wish him well on his future endeavors.
Boxed says it’s currently looking for another CFO. “The last two years I’ve spent at Boxed have been some of the most thrilling of my career,” Ishaq
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