Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info

Facebook is getting ready to purposefully influence the U.S. mid-term elections after spending two years trying to safeguard against foreign interference. Instagram plans to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all US users over 18 and point them towards information on how to get properly registered and abide by voting rules. Then when election day arrives, users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting info like which polling place to go to. Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially amongst Instagram’s core audience of millenials. If one political party’s base skews younger, they could receive an advantage. “Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and get to the polls on November 6th” Instagram writes. “From today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information
Continue reading "Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info"

The Gap Table: Women own just 9% of startup equity

Even bigger than the salary gap that sees women earn $.82 on the dollar is the equity gap. A new study from Carta and the ex-Twitter female investor group #Angels reveals that women make up 35 percent of startup equity-holding employees, yet own just 20 percent of the equity. That means they own just $0.47 for every $1 that men own. Even worse, women account for 13 percent of startup founder but just 6 percent of founder equity — or merely $0.39 on the dollar. Combined, that means only 9 percent of founder and employee startup equity is owned by women. “This is not just about wealth” says #Angels’ Chloe Sladden. “Wealth from successful exits goes on to shape the entire industry. It’s about who has power and who gets to decide what gets funded.” #Angels’ Jessica Verrilli notes that “Having this data is going to 
Continue reading "The Gap Table: Women own just 9% of startup equity"

Erectile pharmacy app Roman raises $88M to launch ‘quit smoking’ kit

Roman is a rocket ship, and I’m not talking about how it sells Viagra and Cialis. Less than a year after launching its cloud pharmacy for erectile dysfunction with $3 million in funding and a five-person team, Roman has grown to seventy team members and a revenue run-rate in the 10s of millions — up 720 percent since January. It’s sparked over a million patient-physician visits, phone calls, and text conversations through its telemedicine portal for getting diagnoses and prescriptions. And now Roman is ready to expand beyond men, so it’s dropping the ‘Man. Today, the newly renamed ‘Ro’ unveiled its next product, Zero, a $129 ‘quit smoking’ kit containing a month’s worth of prescription cessation medication bupropion and nicotine gum, plus an app for tracking progress and learning how to stay motivated through hunger, nausea, and cravings. Pre-orders open today. “Erectile dysfunction medication is a knee brace. It helps you to walk
Continue reading "Erectile pharmacy app Roman raises $88M to launch ‘quit smoking’ kit"

Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags

Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog. The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it. In a move that could pit it against Pinterest and Wish, Instagram is launching Shopping features across its app to let people discover and consider possible purchases before clicking through to check out on the merchant’s website. Today, Instagram Explore is getting a personalized Shopping channel of items it thinks you’ll want most. And it’s expanding its Shopping tags for Instagram Stories to all viewers worldwide after a limited test in June, and it’s allowing brands in 46 countries to add the shopping bag icon to Stories that users can click through to buy what they saw. Instagram clearly wants to graduate from where people get ideas for things to purchase to being
Continue reading "Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags"

Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars

If the whole map is red and it’s a short ride, maybe you’d prefer taking an Uber JUMP Bike instead of an UberX. Or at least if you do end up stuck bumper-to-bumper, the warning could make you less likely to get mad mid-ride and take it out on the driver’s rating. This week TechCrunch spotted Uber overlaying blue, yellow, and red traffic condition bars on your route map before you hail. Responding to TechCrunch’s inquiry, Uber confirmed that traffic estimates have been quietly testing for riders on Android over the past few months and the pilot program recently expanded to a subset of iOS users. It’s already live for all drivers. The congestion indicators are based on Uber’s own traffic information pulled from its historic trip data about 10 billion rides plus real-time data from its drivers’ phones, rather than estimates from Google that already power Uber’s maps. If traffic
Continue reading "Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars"

Drone startup Airware crashes, will shut down after burning $118M

Drone operating system startup Airware today suddenly informed employees it will cease operations immediately despite having raised $118 million from top investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Google’s GV, and Kleiner Perkins. The startup ran out of money after trying to manufacture its own hardware that couldn’t compete with drone giants like China’s DJI. The company at one point had as many as 140 employees, all of which are now out of a job. A source sent TechCrunch screenshots from the Airware alumni Slack channel detailing how the staff was told this morning that Airware would shut down. Airware makes a cloud sofware system that helps enterprise customers like construction companies, mining operations, and insurance companies reviewing equipment for damages to use drones to collect and analyze aerial data. That allowed companies to avoid using expensive helicopters or dangerous rigs with humans on harnesses to make inspections and gauge work progress. One
😅
Continue reading "Drone startup Airware crashes, will shut down after burning $118M"

Facebook’s new ‘SapFix’ AI automatically debugs your code

Facebook has quietly built and deployed an artificial intelligence programming tool called SapFix that scans code, automatically identifies bugs, tests different patches and suggests the best ones that engineers can choose to implement. Revealed today at Facebook’s @Scale engineering conference, SapFix is already running on Facebook’s massive code base and the company plans to eventually share it with the developer community. “To our knowledge, this marks the first time that a machine-generated fix — with automated end-to-end testing and repair — has been deployed into a codebase of Facebook’s scale,” writes Facebook’s developer tool team. “It’s an important milestone for AI hybrids and offers further evidence that search-based software engineering can reduce friction in software development.” SapFix can run with or without Sapienz, Facebook’s previous automated bug spotter. It uses it in conjunction with SapFix, suggesting solutions to problems Sapienz discovers. These types of tools could allow smaller teams
Continue reading "Facebook’s new ‘SapFix’ AI automatically debugs your code"

Facebook rolls out photo/video fact checking so partners can train its AI

Sometimes fake news lives inside of Facebook as photos and videos designed to propel misinformation campaigns, instead of off-site on news articles that can generate their own ad revenue. To combat these politically rather than financially-motivated meddlers, Facebook has to be able to detect fake news inside of images and the audio that accompanies video clips. Today its expanding its photo and video fact checking program from four countries to all 23 of its fact-checking partners in 17 countries. “Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken” says Facebook product manager Antonia Woodford. “As we get more ratings from fact-checkers on photos and videos, we will be able to improve the accuracy of our machine learning model.” The goal
Continue reading "Facebook rolls out photo/video fact checking so partners can train its AI"

Snapchat enlists 20 partners to curate Our Stories from submissions

Themed collections of user generated content chosen by news publishers for viewing on and off Snapchat are the teen social network’s next great hope for relevance. Today Snap launches Curated Our Stories with the help of 20 partners like CNN, Cosmopolitan, Lad Bible, and NowThis. Instead of sifting through and selecting submissions to Our Story all by itself around events, holidays, and fads, these publishers can create slideshows of Snaps about whatever they want. They’ll both be featured in Snapchat Discover that sees 75 million Our Stories viewers per month, but also on the publishers’ own properties thanks to Snap’s embeds that have been underused since their January launch.
<script type="text/javascript">
    ( function() {
        var func = function() {
            var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-e94feb814020e3f816eeeff52113f7bb')
            if ( iframe ) {
                iframe.onload = function() {
                    iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( {
                        'msg_type': 'poll_size',
                        'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-e94feb814020e3f816eeeff52113f7bb'
                    }, "https:\/\/tcprotectedembed.com" );
                }
            }

            // Autosize iframe
            var <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/Techcrunch?d=2mJPEYqXBVI" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Snapchat enlists 20 partners to curate Our Stories from submissions"

Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails

Snapchat’s sagging share price is making it tough to retain talent. Bobby Lo, founder and CEO of mobile search app Vurb that Snap Inc acquired for $114.5 million two years ago is leaving day-to-day operations at the company. That means Lo cut out early on his four-year retention package vesting schedule, which was likely influenced by Snapchat falling to new share price lows. Snap is trading around $9.15 today, compared to its $17 IPO price and $24 first-day close. That’s down over 7 percent from yesterday following BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield gave Snap a sell rating with a target price of $5 saying “We are tired of Snapchat’s excuses for missing numbers and are no longer willing to give management ‘time’ to figure out monetization.” Greenfield is known as one of the top social network analysts, so people take him seriously when he says “We have been
Continue reading "Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails"

XS, XR, XS Max? The difference between the new iPhones

XS is the normal one. XR is the cheap one. XS Max is the big one. That’s a good start to understanding Apple’s confusing naming scheme for its new line of iPhones. Apparently jealous of Android’s fragmentation, Apple decided it needed three different models, three different storage sizes, and nine different colors. You can think of the XS as the updated iPhone X, the Max as the new Plus, and the XR as a revival of the great-for-kids budget iPhone SE. Here’s a comparison of their features, prices, options, and release dates.   The iPhone XS – Standard, Smaller, Sooner Apple’s new flagship phone is the iPhone XS. If you want the best Apple has to offer that will still fit in your pocket, this is the one for you. It’s got a 5.8-inch diagonal OLED “Super Retina” HDR screen with 458 pixels per inch, which is actually taller
Continue reading "XS, XR, XS Max? The difference between the new iPhones"

Dealers remain on Instagram as it pushes drug searchers to treatment

You don’t have to search too hard to find Xanax and Fentanyl dealers posting their phone numbers all over Instagram, but at least it’s starting to push people towards addiction recovery resources. Backlash led Instagram to perform a cursory blocking of exact drug name hashtag searches in April did little to solve the problem, as sellers just moved to unblocked hashtags like “#XanaxLife” and “Oxycontins”. Facebook and Instagram could share some of the blame for 2017’s massive spike in synthetic opioid deaths that skyrocketed from 10,000 to 30,000 according to The Center For Disease Control. So last month, Facebook began redirecting users searching to buy drugs towards a  “Can we help?” box explaining that “If you or someone you know struggles with opioid misuse, we would like to help you find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance use, prevention and recovery.
Continue reading "Dealers remain on Instagram as it pushes drug searchers to treatment"

Meet SelfieCircus and 8 more in Snapchat’s new startup accelerator

Snapchat is hedging its bets as its social network shrinks. Today Snap Inc revealed the first class of its startup accelerator called Yellow that offers $150,000 in funding and creativity-centric business education in exchange for what a source says is a seven to ten percent equity stake — in line with other accelerators like Y Combinator. The nine companies will take up a three-month residency in one of Snap’s buildings in Venice, Los Angeles. The accelerator class ranges from augmented reality and journalism studios to lifystyle brands around weddings and fashion to aesthetic-focused marketplaces like ConBody that pairs you with a muscular ex-convict for workouts. Yellow calls itself “A launchpad for creative minds and entrepreneurs who are looking to build the next generation of great media companies.” Yellow could become a content provider and potential acquisition feeder for the company. ANRK and Space Oddity Films could boost Snapchat’s AR
Continue reading "Meet SelfieCircus and 8 more in Snapchat’s new startup accelerator"

WhatsApp hits India’s Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence

False rumors forwarded on WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers in India, but the Facebook-owned chat app is still racing to add users in the country. Today it launched a feature phone version of WhatsApp for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS, which are designed to support 22 of India’s vast array of native languages. Users will be able to send text, photos, videos, and voice messages with end-to-end encryption, though it will lack advanced features like augmented reality and Snapchat Stories-style Status updates. WhatsApp was supposed to launch alongside the JioPhone 2 that debuted last month for roughly $41, but was delayed. 40 million JioPhone 1s had already been sold, and it’s been estimated to control 27 percent of the Indian mobile phone market and 47 percent of the country’s feature phone market. Coming to JioPhone should open up a big new growth vector for WhatsApp as it
Continue reading "WhatsApp hits India’s Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence"

Atrium raises $65M from A16z to replace lawyers with machine learning

Let the computers do the legal busywork so attorneys can focus on complex problem solving for their clients. That’s the lucrative idea behind Atrium LTS, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan’s machine learning startup that digitizes legal documents and builds applications on top to speed up fundraising, commercial contracts, equity distribution, and employment issues. For example, one of its apps automatically turns startup funding documents into Excel cap tables. Automating expensive legal labor has led to a rapid rise to 110 employees and 250 clients for Atrium including startups like Bird and MessageBird. Atrim only came of stealth a year ago with a $10.5 million party round before going into Y Combinator last winter. Today it announces its raised a $65 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz. In characteristic dude fashion, Kan tells me “I’m pretty stoked about that because of having more resources for Atrium.” The venture firm’s
Continue reading "Atrium raises $65M from A16z to replace lawyers with machine learning"

Interview with Priscilla Chan: Her super-donor origin story

    <div class="embed breakout" id="vidible_div_0" data-pid="56df4e9de4b0c9c31d626c18" data-bcid="564f313b67b6231408bc51ee" data-video="5b9165c76614d13672219569"></div>
    <span><script type="text/javascript" src="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/themes/techcrunch-2017/features/shortcodes/vidible-callback-js.php?id=0"></script></span>

Priscilla Chan is so much more than Mark Zuckerberg’s wife. A teacher, doctor, and now one of the world’s top philanthropists, she’s a dexterous empath determined to help. We’ve all heard Facebook’s dorm-room origin story, but Chan’s epiphany of impact came on a playground.

In this touching interview this week at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Chan reveals how a child too embarrassed to go to class because of their broken front teeth inspired her to tackle healthcare. “How could I have prevented it? Who hurt her? And has she gotten healthcare, has she gotten the right dental care to prevent infection and treat pain? That moment compelled me, like, ‘I need more skills to fight these problems.'”

That’s led to a $3 billion pledge towards curing all disease from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $45 billion-plus charitable foundation. Constantly expressing gratitude for being lifted out of the struggle of her

Continue reading "Interview with Priscilla Chan: Her super-donor origin story"

Robinhood aims at IPO as the fintech startup seeks CFO

Now valued at $5.6 billion, zero-fee stock trading app and cryptocurrency exchange Robinhood is starting preparations to go public. Just a year and a half ago, it was still largely under the radar. But then it raised a $110 million Series C at a $1.3 billion valuation in April 2017 and then just a year later scored a $363 million Series D, both led by Russian firm DST Global. Combined with the growth of its premium subscription for trading on margin called Robinhood Gold, the startup now has the firepower and revenue to make a viable Wall Street debut. Today during Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt’s talk at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, he revealed that his company is on the path to an IPO and has begun its search for a chief financial officer. It’s also undergoing constant audits from the SEC, FINRA and its security team to make sure
Continue reading "Robinhood aims at IPO as the fintech startup seeks CFO"

Bumble launches Snooze button to pause dating for a digital detox

Bumble doesn’t want you to delete your account when you get into a relationship, go on vacation or just need a break from your phone. So today it’s launching a Snooze button that lets you stop showing up to people swiping through potential matches for a day, three days, a week or indefinitely. You’ll also get to select an away message, like “I’m traveling,” “I’m on a digital detox,” “I’m focusing on work” or “I’m prioritizing myself,” that will show up with existing matches with whom you’re chatting. The feature could ensure that Bumble’s 40 million registered users aren’t flirting with an empty vacuum if their match goes AWOL from Bumble temporarily. And for users who turn it on, Snooze could reduce their FOMO about potentially missing out on a match or looking like they ignored someone’s message. “The impact of social media, especially on young women, has the potential
Continue reading "Bumble launches Snooze button to pause dating for a digital detox"

Twitter agrees to abuse transparency reports, civil rights audit

A meek and quiet “no” was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s refrain as he responded to an onslaught of questions from House Energy Committee Republicans about whether his service shadowbans or is biased against conservatives. A few Democrats like Rep Sarbanes (D-MD) accurately pointed out that the whole point of the hearing was to “work the ref” in an attempt to badger Twitter into an overcorrection that would promote conservatives and make it tougher to enforce its policies against right-wing trolls and conspiracy theorists. Before the start of the hearing, Dorsey laid out data that showed Democrat an Republican congress members got the same number of impressions per tweet when controlling for follower count — debunking the theory that it suppresses conservative view points. Given the session’s spurious purpose, many of the questions were just different ways of asking if Twitter discriminated based on political ideology, which Dorsey repeatedly denied. But
Continue reading "Twitter agrees to abuse transparency reports, civil rights audit"