Solving the mystery of sleep

Below are excerpts from the most recent episode of the Flux podcast hosted by RRE Ventures principal Alice Lloyd George. 

AMLG: Welcome back to the pod. I’m excited to be here with Dr. Assaf Glazer. He is the co-founder and CEO of Nanit a leading human analytics company that uses computer vision to help parents navigate their child’s sleep.

Essentially it’s a baby data collector that every sleep-deprived geek parent has dreamed of. A little background on Assaf: He got his Ph.D. at the Technion in Israel and was previously at Applied Materials as

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Buy tickets for concerts on TV with the new Comcast and Ticketmaster feature

Comcast and Ticketmaster are rolling out a feature to let Xfinity X1 customers search tour dates and begin the ticket buying process directly through their televisions — using voice search on their remotes. The feature’s launch coincides with the first tickets going on sale for Kelly Clarkson’s new tour.

If users speak “Kelly Clarkson tour” into their voice remote, they’re sent to a dedicated Kelly Clarkson destination (which, surprisingly, isn’t a purgatory of bland pop power ballads).

To be clear, customers can’t actually complete an order using the voice tool. Instead they can get set to this destination where they will receive a prompt to buy tickets and then opt in to receive a text with a code that will enable them to buy tickets online. If that sounds like an incredibly circuitous and unwieldy process to find tickets to concerts nearby for artists someone likes, that’s because it is.
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On-demand delivery and moving app Dolly hits $1 million in revenue and expands into SF and DC

The Seattle-based on-demand delivery and moving service, Dolly, is rolling out its services in San Francisco and Washington, DC, as it eyes a broader national expansion in the coming months after hitting a milestone of $1 million in monthly revenue earlier this year.

The company, which raised $8 million in a 2015 funding round, currently operates out of Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.

What separates Dolly from moving services like the recently launched Moved, it its focus on single pieces of furniture or select small items that can fit in the back of a pickup truck. Dolly isn’t for big house moves, but rather getting that couch, cabinet, or dresser from the furniture store or the flea market to your home or apartment. The company currently has 5,000 contracted movers or delivery representatives

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Where to watch tonight’s Emmy Awards online

It’s the biggest night for television and streaming media services tonight as the stars are gathering to celebrate themselves at the 70th annual Emmy Awards. Tonight’s event at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles promises to be a big one for streaming media services like Netflix (with 122 nominations), Hulu (with 20 — thanks mainly to the amazing The Handmaid’s Tale), and Amazon (which nabbed 22 nominations, mainly on the strength of the marvelous The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).  Netflix’s dominance at the awards show marks the ascent of streaming as the biggest thing in new media — but the traditional networks, premium and basic cable, aren’t giving up without a fight. Emceeing tonight’s festivities are Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost. The two are coming off an incredibly popular run which saw both comedians continuing the tradition of being one of the consistent
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Coke eyes cannabis-infused wellness drinks as market for CBD beverages expands

Coca-Cola is looking at pitching cans of cannabis-infused wellness drinks to consumers in the latest bid by a big beverage behemoth to tackle the budding market for potentially potent enhanced potables. “Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” the company said in a statement issued in response to a report from the Canadian BNN Bloomberg new service. BNN reported that Coca-Cola was in talks with cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis to make marijuana infused wellness drinks. Aurora Cannabis did not confirm that it was in talks with Coke, but the company’s chief executive did acknowledge that it had been in conversation with several beverage makers over the last few months. “I think it’s important to have a beverage, period,” said Aurora Cannabis chief executive Terry Booth in an interview with Bloomberg.
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Startups are giving writers and filmmakers more ways to make it in Hollywood

On May 11 Netflix released the teen dramedy “The Kissing Booth” just as the school year was wrapping up for teens across the country. By June, the company had a smash hit among the tweenage set, and Wattpad, the company which owned the rights to the The Kissing Booth, had its first true breakout vehicle. The story, written on Wattpad’s publishing platform by Beth Reekles, was a proof point for the company’s thesis pitching a new twist on the old model of discovering stories and creative talent for the entertainment industry.

Behind the success of the film is a nascent movement among startup companies that are trying to open the doors of Hollywood’s dream factory to a broader group of creative professionals by riding the wave of fan fiction and user generated content all the

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Jeff Bezos launches $2 billion fund to finance preschools and help homeless families

In a tweet this morning, Amazon founder (and the world’s richest man) Jeff Bezos announced that he and his wife were creating a $2 billion fund to finance a network of nonprofit preschools and donate funds to organizations helping homeless families. “The Day 1 Families Fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing compassionate, needle moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families,” Bezos writes in a statement. There’s also a Day 1 Academies Fund that will launch a network of free, Montessori-inspired schools in low-income neighborhoods. Bezos said the schools will employ the “same set of principles that have driven Amazon .” Which, for Bezos, means an intense focus on the customer. The funds are called the “Day 1” funds because they align with Bezos’ stated philosophy of “maintaining a Day 1 mentality.” Starting a network
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Fintech investment powerhouse Ribbit Capital aims for $420 million with its latest fund

Ribbit Capital, the financial technology investment firm whose portfolio includes hits like the no-fee mobile investment platform Robinhood; cryptocurrency wallet and marketplace provider Coinbase; and Root Insurance, the automotive insurance platform that just joined the billion-dollar startup club; is raising $420 million for its latest fund, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund would be Ribbit’s fifth foray out with limited partners and its $420 million target is only a nominal increase from the $300 million it had set out to raise for its fourth fund last year. That kind of restraint is remarkable in itself. But with the portfolio of hits Ribbit has amassed, the firm would be forgiven for attempting to raise double its current target. Ribbit founder, Meyer (Micky) Malka, did not respond to a request for comment. Coinbase alone is now worth at least $8 billion on
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Business school grads and quants are winning the battle to create the next P&G

These days my Instagram feed feels more like QVC than a social network.

And many of these companies are enjoying tremendous success pitching natural deodorants, unique underwear, creative candles, glam glasses, stunning shoes — all manner of well-crafted microbrands. We’re witnessing a Cambrian explosion of new consumer startups.

For the last couple of years, building a successful startup has seemed as simple as picking an out of favor category like ketchup and turning the most mundane of condiments into a $100M+ exit! Why try to build a robot or AI company when you can just modify and repackage a topping?

But how should founders evaluate the markets for mattresses and men’s health? What heuristics should an investor

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Tim Armstrong is out at Oath, read the full memos here

Confirming rumors that have been circulating all summer, Verizon Communications confirmed today that Guru Gowrappan will be replacing Tim Armstrong as the CEO of Oath (owner of TechCrunch). This is a huge change: Armstrong has been the CEO of Oath, and before that the CEO of AOL (which had been the predecessor to Oath, before it was merged with Yahoo), for no less than 10 years, managing the company through downs and ups that included a sale to Verizon for $4.4 billion, the (somewhat drawn out and messy) acquisition of Yahoo for another $4.8 billion, and merging the two together. Through that time, he also helped an ailing, ageing dial-up internet has-been reposition itself as a media company complete with an ad-tech engine underneath it. In an internal memo today, Armstrong didn’t shy away from the rumors that had been circulating but also tried to draw a parallel
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Impossible Foods is going to every White Castle

Five months after launching a pilot program with the iconic White Castle fast food chain, Impossible Foods is taking its meatless burger substitute to every one of the company’s restaurants.

With the rollout, White Castle becomes the largest fast food chain to include the Impossible Burger on its menu and the largest customer for the purveyor of beef-like meat substitutes.

< p style="font-weight: 400;">At a low, low cost of $1.99, the Impossible Slider does achieve the near impossible of bringing a processed vegan food option to consumers at a price point that everyone can afford.

The company first unveiled the Impossible Slider at 140 locations in New York, Chicago and New Jersey, and the burger is now available in 377 restaurants across 13 states.

“White Castle is teaching us how

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As market pressures loom, healthcare giant Cigna launches a $250 million venture fund

If you don’t think the healthcare market is prepping for the radical transformations that remote care, persistent diagnostics, as well as and monitoring and improving targeted treatments are going to bring to the industry, think again. Healthcare companies are steeling themselves for the shift in healthcare services in the most desperate way they can — by launching venture funds. The latest to make the move is Cigna, the multi-billion-dollar healthcare insurer which is now launching a $250 million venture fund called Cigna Ventures. Starting a venture fund has often been the last, worst best hope of corporations that have been overtaken by dramatic changes in technological platforms. At the tail end of the last internet bubble, as everything was about to fall apart, big companies began to realize that technology was bringing hordes of new barbarians to the gate. And they swung into action to finance these companies, and get
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Safe artificial intelligence requires cultural intelligence

Knowledge, to paraphrase British journalist Miles Kington, is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing there’s a norm against putting it in a fruit salad.

Any kind of artificial intelligence clearly needs to possess great knowledge. But if we are going to deploy AI agents widely in society at large — on our highways, in our nursing homes and schools, in our
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Investors are tuning out Sonos after a disappointing quarter

Sonos stock is still struggling to recover after a disappointing earnings report sent shares of the audio hardware manufacturing company plummeting. The stock is currently down over 18 percent in trading on the Nasdaq after yesterday’s news that the company lost 45 cents per share on revenues  of roughly $208 million for the quarter. The losses put Sonos on pace for its worst day since debuting on the public markets in August.

Revenue was down pretty sharply on an annual basis thanks to declining sales of the company’s Playbase audio streaming service (that retails for $699), which Sonos rolled out last year. And while the company’s speaker business posted a small gain in sales, it wasn’t enough to offset Sonos’ costs because the Sonos One smart speaker only sells for $199. So it’s not just that the company is less profitable,

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Ericsson and T-Mobile ink $3.5 billion deal for 5G

New 5G networks are coming and big companies are spending big bucks to roll them out.
Ericsson is going to be providing T-Mobile with its latest 5G new radio hardware and 3GPP for a cool $3.5 billion. As it moves from LTE Advanced networks to 5G, T-Mobile said it will use the Ericsson portfolio of products to expand its existing LTE capacity while readying the network for the 5G jump.
Included in the deal are Ericsson’s digital services like dynamic orchestration, business support systems, and Ericsson cloud core, which will be used to help T-Mobile roll out 5G services to its customers. “We have recently decided to increase our investments in the US to be closer to our leading customers and better support them with their accelerated 5G deployments; thereby bringing 5G to life for consumers and enterprises across the country,” said Niklas Heuveldop, the president and head of
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As biological manufacturing moves to the mainstream, Synvitrobio rebrands and raises cash

The pace at which the scientific breakthroughs working to bend the machinery of life to the whims of manufacturing have transformed into real businesses has intensified competition in the biomanufacturing market. That’s just one reason why Synvitrobio is rebranding as it takes on $2.6 million in new financing to pursue opportunities in biopharmaceutical and biochemical manufacturing. Under its new name, Tierra Biosciences, the company hopes to emphasize its focus on agricultural and biochemical products. The company is one of several looking to commercialize the field of “cell-free” manufacturing — where biological engineers strip down the cellular building blocks of life to their most basic components to create processes that ideally can be more easily manipulated to produce different kinds of chemicals. There’s a standard way to create these cell free processes (described quite nicely in The Economist). Grab a few quarts of culture with some kind of
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Investors are waking up to the emotional struggle of startup founders

As the Gartner Hype Curve goes, from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment, so goes the founder’s emotional journey.

Most founders hit the trough sooner or later, the proverbial nadir of their startup life.

The company’s business model undergoes the dreaded pivot. Teams dissipate and the foundation starts to fall apart. Startups die. Investors cut their losses and move on to the rosier pastures of their portfolio.

And what is often left is a depressed broken founder, dealing with the consequences of ‘crushing it’. But too often, its the founders psyche that gets crushed. Not much can be done about it but that’s changing.

Gartner Hype Curve: No emotional support needed

Several

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The reality of quantum computing could be just three years away

Quantum computing has moved out of the realm of theoretical physics and into the real world, but its potential and promise are still years away. Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, a powerhouse in the world of quantum research and a young upstart in the field presented visions for the future of the industry that illustrated both how far the industry has come and how far the technology has to go. For both Dario Gil, the chief operating officer of IBM Research and the company’s vice president of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and Chad Rigetti, a former IBM researcher who founded Rigetti Computing and serves as its chief executive, the moment that a quantum computer will be able to perform operations better than a classical computer is only three years away. “[It’s] generating a solution that is better, faster or cheaper than you can do otherwise,” said Rigetti. “Quantum computing
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Harley-Davidson is opening a Silicon Valley R&D center to power EV production

Harley-Davidson, the American symbol for internal combustion, chrome and steel, is going all in on two-wheeled EVs. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer is going electric and coming to Silicon Valley. Harley announced it will open an R&D space in the Bay Area by the end of 2018 to support its commitment to build electric vehicles. “The real reason is talent,” Harley-Davidson’s Group Chief Engineer Vance Strader told TechCrunch. “We’re after people who really have a passion for and understanding of electric vehicles and the systems that make them great. [That] sort of culture we’re more likely to get in Silicon Valley:
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Managing the music business from a mobile phone, Jammber is making the industry sing

The music business is littered with stories about songwriters or studio contributors and session musicians who never get the credit — or money — they’re often due for their work on hit songs. And for every storied session musician in “The Wrecking Crew” there are perhaps hundreds of other contributors who aren’t getting their just desserts. That’s where Jammber comes in. The five-year-old company co-founded by serial entrepreneur Marcus Cobb has developed a suite of tools to manage everything from songwriting credits and rights management to ticketing and touring all from a group of apps on a mobile phone. And has just raised $2.4 million in funding to take those tools to a broader market. Jammber “Muse” gives collaborators a single platform to exchange lyrics and song ideas, while the company’s “Splits” app tracks ownership and credits of any eventual product from a collaboration. The company’s
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