Cyan Banister to tell her story at Disrupt SF

When we look around at some of the Silicon Valley superstars, it’s easy to wonder how they got here. Was it luck? Brute force? Wits? Charm? At Disrupt SF, Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister is going to tell her story, and it might not be the narrative you’d expect. Not everyone in Silicon Valley goes to Stanford or Harvard, but sometimes it’s that alternative perspective that gives someone a leg up. Banister’s history isn’t what you’d expect, and at Disrupt SF she’ll explain where she came from and how she became one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful investors. Before joining Founders Fund, Banister was a wildly successful angel investor, with portfolio companies including Uber, Thumbtack, SpaceX, Postmates, EShares, Affirm and Niantic. Banister taught herself to code, and held a number of technical leadership positions prior to angel investing, including overseeing support infrastructure and performance at Cisco. If Banister had to
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PAX introduces Session Control to let novice users control their intake

PAX Labs, makers of the popular PAX 3 and PAX Era vaporizers, have today updated their app to offer a new feature called Session Control. The idea here is based around the fact that people can sometimes overindulge when using a vaporizer for the first time, as the effects of cannabis oil can take a minute or two to kick in, leading people to continue puffing. With Session Control, users can control their intake by selecting micro, small or medium puffs. Once the user has maxed out their session by puffing, the PAX Era will lock for 30 seconds, stopping users from overdoing it. PAX launched an app called PAX Mobile in 2017 to give vape users even more control over their experience. From temperature control to different color schemes, the PAX Mobile app lets users fiddle with the PAX 3 or PAX Era on the fly. While temperature
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Paperless Post introduces Flyer for more casual invitations

Paperless Post, the design-first invitations service, has today announced the launch of a new product called Flyer. Flyer is meant to be a more lightweight invitation, for events like a BBQ or a casual birthday as opposed to a formal event. The idea started when Paperless Post founder and CEO James Hirschfeld realized there were certain events in his life where he still wasn’t using Paperless Post, despite the fact that he founded the company. “Even though Paperless is my baby and I love it, there were still moments in the year or in life or as a business or as a consumer where it doesn’t make sense to send something formal,” said Hirschfeld. “You don’t want to pay or you don’t want to labor over an invite.” That’s where Flyer comes in. Flyer is designed around Vibes, which are curated sets of images, GIFs, colors, layouts and
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IRL wants to get people together offline

Social planning apps are a dime a dozen, but none have risen to become a mainstay in our digital lives. IRL, founded by Abe Shafi and Scott Banister, is looking to break the pattern, focusing on positivity to get people excited about hanging out offline. When users first sign up, they’re asked a series of multiple choice questions about their friends: “Who is the best at building pillow forts?” or “Who has the best style?” with four of your contacts as possible answers. These ‘nominations’ are meant to catalyze making plans with those friends. Those nominations stay anonymous. From there, users can choose from a wide variety of interests like “Netflix and Chill,” “Grab Burgers,” or “Watch the World Cup.” Once they’ve chosen an interest, they can mark the time (today, soon, or pick a date) and send an invite to friends, at which point the
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Lemonade files lawsuit against wefox for IP infringement

Lemonade, the insurance platform based out of NYC, has filed a lawsuit against German company ONE Insurance, its parent company wefox, and founder Julian Teicke. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of NY, alleges that wefox reverse engineered Lemonade to create ONE, infringing Lemonade’s intellectual property, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and breaching its contractual obligations to Lemonade not to “copy content… to provide any service that is competitive…or to…create derivative works.” In the filing, Lemonade alleges that Teicke repeatedly registered for insurance on Lemonade under various names and for various addresses, some of which do not exist. Teicke also allegedly filed claims in what appeared to be an attempt to assess and copy the arrangement of those flows. Lemonade’s counsel says Teicke started seven claims over the course of 20 days, prompting Lemonade to cancel his policy. Alongside Teicke, a
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Juul tightens up social media to focus on former smokers switching to e-cigs

Juul Labs, the company behind the ever-popular Juul e-cig, has today announced a new policy around social media. This comes in the midst of Juul’s effort to get FDA approval, which has been made more arduous by the fact that the FDA has cracked down on Juul after learning how popular the device is with underage users. As part of the new policy, Juul will no longer feature models in pictures posted on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. FWIW, Juul doesn’t even have a Snapchat. Instead of using models to market the e-cig, Juul Labs will now use real former smokers who switched from combustible cigarette to Juul. Juul has always said that its product was meant to serve as an alternative to combustible cigarettes, which are considered far more harmful to your health. Juul has also initiated an internal team focused on flagging and reporting social media content
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Ashton Kutcher and Effie Epstein to talk Sound Ventures at TC Disrupt SF

While many celebrities try to invest in the world of tech, very few do so successfully. And no one has proved their worth as celebrity-turned-VC more than Ashton Kutcher . That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to host Ashton Kutcher and Sound Ventures partner Effie Epstein at TC Disrupt SF in September. Kutcher first got into investing in 2011 with the launch of A-Grade Investments. The firm invested in big-name companies like DuoLingo, FlexPort, ProductHunt, Airbnb, and Uber. In 2014, Kutcher, alongside his longtime friend and partner Guy Oseary, started a new VC firm called Sound Ventures. Since launch, Sound Ventures has made 53 investments and led six rounds of financing, with portfolio companies including Gusto, Vicarious, Robinhood, Lemonade, and Acorns. And in 2017, Sound made another investment in the form of Effie Epstein. The firm brought on Epstein as managing partner and COO, with Kutcher telling TechCrunch: “Effie has a deep
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Managed By Q acquires NVS to offer space planning and project management

Managed by Q, the office management platform based out of NYC, today announced its acquisition of NVS. Founded by Jason Havens in 2011, NVS is an office space planning and project management service, helping businesses plan their moves or office redesigns from start to finish. The company helps connect with a network of brokers, architects, interior designers, etc. and manage the project on behalf of their clients to ensure it stays on schedule and doesn’t end up costing more than expected. For Managed by Q, NVS provides an added service layer for existing clients, and has the opportunity to bring new clients into the Managed by Q fold. This marks Managed by Q’s second acquisition, as the company acquired task management software provider Hivy in September 2017. Managed by Q, founded in 2014, has raised more than $70 million by providing software to help office managers do their job.
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Court approves merger of AT&T and Time Warner

United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled in favor of AT&T in the government’s antitrust suit to block AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner . In October 2016, AT&T announced its plan to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and a total of $108 billion with debt. The DOJ moved to block the merger in March, arguing that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumer choice. The nuances of this case are important, as the implications of this decision reach far beyond the individual businesses of AT&T and Time Warner to the vast media landscape as a whole. First off, it’s worth noting that the overall goal of antitrust regulations is to protect the consumer from unfair business practices that may arise from a consolidation of power within a single company. But size isn’t necessarily what’s most important in these types of cases. In fact,
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Reid Hoffman to talk ‘blitzscaling’ at Disrupt SF 2018

When it comes to scaling startups, few people are as accomplished or consistently successful as Reid Hoffman . While the rest of us consider scaling a startup to market domination a daunting task, Hoffman has continued to make it look easy. In September, Hoffman will join us at TC Disrupt SF to share his strategies on “blitzscaling,” which also happens to be the title of his forthcoming book. Hoffman started out his Silicon Valley career at PayPal, serving as EVP and a founding board member. In 2003, Hoffman founded LinkedIn from his living room. LinkedIn now has more than 500 million members across 200 countries and territories across the world, effectively becoming a necessity to the professional marketplace. Hoffman left LinkedIn in 2007, but his contributions to the company certainly helped turn it into the behemoth it is today, going public in 2011 and selling to Microsoft for a whopping $26.
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Uber applies for patent that would detect drunk passengers

While Uber has changed the way that many think about transportation, it’s also changed the way that many drunk people find their way home at night. Rather than haphazardly hailing a cab or driving home under the influence, Uber provides a relatively safer way to get from point A to B on an indulgent evening. The company has been curious about its drunk users, applying for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a system that would use machine learning to determine the ‘state’ of a passenger. While the patent limits itself to a dry discussion of ‘user state,’ it seems that what Uber is really interested in is detecting the difference between users of sound mind and users who are under the influence. CNN first spotted the patent, which describes a method of measuring the user’s behavior on their phone against their usual behavior, using
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Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd is coming to Disrupt SF

Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd has always done things her own way. Whether it’s standing up for her political beliefs, building a company with fully outsourced engineers or avoiding the usual startup fundraising runaround, Wolfe Herd follows her own instincts in building a business. Which is why we’re super excited to announce that Whitney Wolfe Herd will join us at TC Disrupt SF 2018. Wolfe Herd first came on the scene as a co-founder and VP of Marketing at Tinder, where she helped grow the dating app into one of the world’s biggest dating platforms. But after a lawsuit over sexual harassment and discrimination, which was settled out of court, Wolfe Herd left the company to build an app focused on compliments and positive affirmations. Originally, she wanted nothing to do with the dating space. But after meeting Andrey Adreev, Badoo founder and Bumble’s majority stakeholder, she
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iOS 12 will let users register another person to their Face ID

From advancements in AR to Memojis to group FaceTime, there is plenty to be excited about with iOS 12. But one of the more practical updates to Apple’s mobile operating system, coming this fall, went unmentioned during the keynote at WWDC. According to 9to5Mac, iOS 12 will allow for two different faces to be registered to Face ID. Up until now, Face ID has only allowed a single appearance to be registered to the iPhone X. 9to5Mac first noticed the update when combing through the iOS 12 beta, where one can find new settings for Face ID that allow users to “Set Up an Alternative Appearance.” Here’s what the description says:
In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance.
While that’s about as unclear as a description might be, 9to5Mac tested and confirmed the update, with the following caveat. Users who
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PlayVS, bringing esports infrastructure to high schools, picks up $15 million

PlayVS, the startup building esports infrastructure at the high school level, has today announced the close of a $15 million Series A funding round. The financing was led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from existing investor Science, as well as CrossCut Ventures, Coatue Management, Cross Culture Ventures, the San Francisco 49ers, Nas, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin, Twitch cofounder Kevin Lin, and others. PlayVS first publicly launched out of the LA-based Science startup studio in April. The company partnered with the NFHS, the equivalent of the NCAA for high school-level sports, to build out leagues, rules and more around high school esports. Most high school sports are governed by the NFHS, which writes the rules, hires referees, schedules seasons and determines the format of playoffs and state championships. That same infrastructure might carry over from one high school sport to another, but esports represents a new challenge
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Arrested Development Season 5 is now live on Netflix

“I’ve made a huge mistake.” It may have been a while since you’ve heard GOB’s famous catch phrase, but there’s more where that came from. Arrested Development Season 5 dropped today on Netflix . Creator Mitch Hurwitz promised that this season would be more in keeping with the original three seasons of Arrested Development, which aired from 2003 to 2006. But that might not be the only thing keeping viewers from reliving the delight of the original seasons. Here’s how the story goes: When the original three seasons aired on Fox in the early aughts, the show failed to get enough viewership and the series was cancelled. However, a cult following emerged that only grew stronger as the show was picked up by various streaming services. Netflix signed a deal in 2013 to bring back Arrested Development for a fourth season, ten years after the series premiere aired on Fox.
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ClassPass plans to add nine international cities by the end of 2018

ClassPass, the studio fitness platform that gives users access to thousands of boutique fitness classes, has said it plans to expand internationally into nine new countries by the end of 2018. The company’s top priorities are consolidating its position in the UK and launching in three countries in Asia, according to chief executive Fritz Lanman. Lanman declined to disclose which countries the fitness subscription service was targeting. ClassPass’s further international expansion isn’t exactly a surprise. The company already serves parts of Canada, the UK and Australia alongside its 50 cities within the US. ClassPass also raised a whopping $70 million Series C last year which Lanman tells me was purposefully large to fuel this type of expansion without being dependent on another round of financing. As part of the expansion initiative, ClassPass has hired Chloe Ross as VP of International. Ross has worked on international strategy at Microsoft and
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Crowd Cow, offering ranch to table meats, picks up $8 million from Madrona, Ashton Kutcher

Most high-end restaurants don’t get their beef from the local grocery store. Well-regarded chefs and restauranteurs build relationships with small farms and family ranchers to procure what’s known in the industry as craft beef. Just like coffee or chocolate or wine, the smallest differences (type of grass, breed of cow, lifestyle, etc.) can make a big difference in overall taste. But you and I have never had easy access to this beef outside of hitting up a Michelin-star restaurant. And then Crowd Cow came along. Crowd Cow, based in Seattle, works with small family farms to let users choose their cow and their cut. Crowd Cow then ships this craft beef directly to a user’s home. Before Crowd Cow, five or six families would have to go in together on more than 500 LBs of beef in order to be a compelling customer to these small farms. That means
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InVision design tool Studio gets an app store, asset store

InVision, the startup that wants to be the operating system for designers, today introduced its app store and asset store within InVision Studio. In short, InVision Studio users now have access to some of their most-used apps and services from right within the Studio design tool. Plus, those same users will be able to shop for icons, UX/UI components, typefaces and more from within Studio. While Studio is still in its early days, InVision has compiled a solid list of initial app store partners, including Google, Salesforce, Slack, Getty, Atlassian, and more. InVision first launched as a collaboration tool for designers, letting designers upload prototypes into the cloud so that other members of the organization could leave feedback before engineers set the design in stone. Since that launch in 2011, InVision has grown to 4 million users, capturing 80 percent of the Fortune 100, raising a total of $235
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Ring’s Jamie Siminoff and Clinc’s Jason Mars to join us at Disrupt SF

Disrupt SF is set to be the biggest tech conference that TechCrunch has ever hosted. So it only makes sense that we plan an agenda fit for the occasion. That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that Ring’s Jamie Siminoff will join us on stage for a fireside chat and Jason Mars from Clinc will be demo-ing first-of-its-kind technology on the Disrupt SF stage.

Jamie Siminoff – Ring

Earlier this year, Ring became Amazon’s second largest acquisition ever, selling to the behemoth for a reported $1 billion. But the story begins long ago, with Jamie Siminoff building a WiFi-connected video doorbell in his garage in 2011. Back then it was called DoorBot. Now, it’s called Ring, and it’s an essential piece of the overall evolution of e-commerce. As giants like Amazon move to make purchasing and receiving goods as simple as ever, safe and reliable entry into the home becomes
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Instagram now lets you mute accounts

Instagram today introduced a way to mute accounts, giving users a way to continue following accounts without seeing their posts all the time. Muted accounts will not be made aware that they’ve been muted, and users can unmute accounts at any time. Users can still see posts on the muted account’s profile page and get notified about comments or posts they’re tagged in. Users can mute accounts by tapping the “…” in the corner of the post and choosing between muting posts, stories, or posts and stories. First and foremost, this continues Instagram’s effort to block bullying and harassment on the social network. While users have had the ability to block accounts for a long time, muting is a next step in blocking out someone without any of the consequences that might come from blocking them. This could also come in handy for folks going through a break-up or some
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