Rent the Runway opens physical store in San Francisco

Rent the Runway, the fashion startup that began as a rental service for special occasions and has since evolved over the last couple of years into a service for people also looking to spice up their everyday wear, just opened up its fifth physical, standalone location. The new location, in downtown San Francisco, enables Rent the Runway members to try on clothes, rent and return them. Rent the Runway’s launch of a standalone brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco comes after it first opened up a location inside Neiman Marcus. With a standalone location, the company is able to offer longer hours for its members. Instead of opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m., Rent the Runway can now stay open from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also, of course, has weekend hours. Thanks to some technology Rent the Runway developed
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Lyft hits 1 billion rides a couple of months after Uber hit 10 billion trips

Today marks a big milestone for Lyft — one billion rides. That’s a milestone Uber hit in December 2015. Uber has since grown to 10 billion trips completed — including Eats deliveries — as of this past July. Uber, of course, had a bit of head start given it launched in 2009 while Lyft first launched in 2012. This milestone for Lyft comes about a year after it announced it was completing one million rides a day. To celebrate it, Lyft employees are surprising 3,500 drives with a free tank of gas. Earlier this month, Lyft officially entered the scooter sharing space when it launched electric scooters in Denver, Colo. Lyft has since deployed its scooters in Santa Monica, Calif. as part of the city’s pilot program. Lyft’s entrance into scooters came close after its acquisition of bike-share company Motivate. We’ll be watching closely to see how Lyft’s additional modes
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Lyft deploys electric scooters in Santa Monica

Lyft has launched its electric scooters in Santa Monica, Calif. as part of the city’s pilot program, joining both Bird and Lime, CNET first reported. As part of the pilot program, Lyft can have up to 250 scooters on the streets at any one time. Riders must also be sure to stay within the service area of Santa Monica, and not venture out into the broader Los Angeles area. Otherwise, they’ll be fined. Lyft’s launch in Santa Monica comes just a couple of weeks after the company deployed scooters in Denver, Colo. Lyft’s scooters cost $1 to unlock and then 15 cents per minute to ride. They can travel up to 15 mph. Lyft’s chief rival Uber/JUMP, which received a permit to operate in Santa Monica, has yet to deploy any electric scooters. Though, it does have a partnership of sorts with Lime.

Uber’s complex relationship with diversity

Since Dara Khosrowshahi came to Uber as CEO about a year ago, there has certainly been less drama, but drama remains. Over the last few months, there were reports of Uber COO Barney Harford making insensitive comments about women and racial minorities, as well as Uber’s now-former Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey making denigrating comments toward Uber’s global diversity and inclusion lead Bernard Coleman and Bozoma Saint John, the chief brand officer who left in June. At TechCrunch Disrupt SF earlier this month, I sat down with both Khosrowshahi and Uber’s new, first-ever Chief Diversity Officer Bo Young Lee, who joined in March. Believe it or not, there are still bad actors at the company, so Uber still has work to do. What surprised me, however, was Khosrowshahi’s defense of Harford, not only saying that he’s “an incredible person” but that he’s also “one of the good people” as it
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Lyft hires yet another ex-Tesla employee

Lyft is on a bit of a Tesla poaching spree while Tesla employees are exiting in droves. The latest ex-Tesla employee to join Lyft is Cal Lankton, who most recently led the development of Tesla’s electric vehicle charging network up until May. At Lyft, Lankton will serve as VP of infrastructure operations where he will focus on the next generation of Lyft’s driver hubs. “I came to Lyft because I believe in the company’s priorities of driver care and environmental sustainability, and I know that our retail footprint can effectively marry the two through smart design and deployment,” Lankton said in a statement. Lyft is also bringing on board Geoffrey Bain from Unilever to serve as the company’s senior director of retail operations. Both will work with Lyft VP of Driver Experience Operations Karim Bousta, who joined the company in July from Tesla.  All of the aforementioned people report
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Twitch hires head of diversity and inclusion

Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming platform, has brought on its first head of diversity and inclusion, as well as a new chief financial officer and chief human resources officer. Katrina Jones, who will start next month as Twitch’s head of diversity and inclusion, is the former head of diversity at Vimeo. At Vimeo, Jones created the company’s diversity strategy, and worked on disrupting bias and fostering inclusion. Meanwhile, Michelle Weaver and Sudarshana Rangachary are coming on board as CFO and CHRO, respectively. From the diversity and inclusion front, Twitch has a history of struggling. The platform itself, for example, was called out in 2015 for being mostly white and male. Fast-forward to 2016, and Twitch hosted a panel at its annual convention dubbed “Diversify Twitch.” That didn’t turn out very well for Twitch, as its African-American panelists were subjected to racism, insults and slurs. Just last year, Twitch hosted
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Hustle Fund, founded by two ex-500 Startups partners, closes $11.5 million fund

Hustle Fund, the pre-seed firm founded by former 500 Startups partners Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn, has closed their first fund, coming in at the tune of $11.5 million. Hustle Fund also recently brought on Shiyan Koh to its team of general partners. Before joining the firm, Koh was the VP of business operations and corporate development at personal finance company NerdWallet. She formerly worked as an investment professional at Bridgewater Associates and Institutional Venture Partners. At Hustle Fund, Koh will be based in Singapore to focus on expanding the firm’s reach in Southeast Asia. The fund initially hoped to raise $50 million, according to an SEC filing last October, but felt confident it could prove its investing hypothesis with $11.5 million, Koh said in an email to TechCrunch. “This has allowed us to get to the business of backing founders faster,” Koh said. “We want to be
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Zoox is offering autonomous rides in SF this week

Zoox, the self-driving car startup worth a reported $3.2 billion post-money valuation, is offering autonomous rides this week as part of the Global Climate Action Summit. The Global Climate Action Summit convenes state and local leaders, scientists, non-profits and others to discuss climate action opportunities. In partnership with the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco, Zoox will transport select summit guests between the Fairmont and Moscone Center in its self-driving Toyota Highlander test cars. Zoox says it’s working with the Fairmont and the Summit to determine guests. “Zoox was born to improve safety, congestion, and pollution in our increasingly dense cities,” says Zoox co-founder, President and CTO Jesse Levinson said in a press release. “We are proud to demonstrate our state-of-the-art autonomous technology, partner with the Fairmont, and show private enterprise support of Governor Brown’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s Global Climate Action Summit right here in our hometown.” The goal
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Facebook Lite adds additional crisis response tools

Facebook Lite, the social network’s product for people in areas with low connectivity or limited Internet, is making Community Help available to people in more than 100 countries. Facebook Lite uses less data, and installs and loads faster than the standard Facebook app. Facebook Lite also works on lower-end devices and slower Internet networks. Facebook first launched Community Help last February to help people find and give help in the areas of food, shelter and transportation in the aftermath of natural disasters and building fires — two types of crises in which Safety Check would likely be activated. “Our priority is to build tools that provide people with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis,” Facebook Crisis Response Product Manager Jeong-Suh Choi said in a release. “By making Community Help available on Facebook Lite, event more people can get the help they need
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Nima launches food sensor to detect peanuts

I’m deathly allergic to nuts, so I felt super excited when I heard about the Nima peanut sensor. I’ve ended up in the emergency room numerous times because there were nuts in something I thought did not contain nuts. With Nima, I could’ve tested those specific foods before consumption and probably avoided a trip to the ER. Nima, a TechCrunch Battlefield alum, is gearing up to launch a peanut sensor, its second product, on September 12. The sensor is able to detect even the tiniest trace (10 parts per million) of peanut protein. To use Nima, you insert the food into a disposable test capsule, which goes into the device to figure out if there’s any peanut protein in the food. In under five minutes, the Nima sensor will tell you if your food is peanut-free. The device connects to your phone via Bluetooth to enable the app to show
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Uber makes it easier to switch between rides, scooters, bikes and car rentals

You may remember how Uber laid out its ambitions to become a multi-modal transportation company back in April with the announcement of Uber Rent, preceded by a $200 million acquisition of bike-share startup JUMP. Now, Uber is making it easier to access those modalities with the addition of Mode Switch, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco today. The idea is to further hook people into the Uber app by offering a variety of transportation options, and ultimately have your phone replace your car. Before, you can see how the options for rentals and bikes were much more hidden in the app. Uber first partnered with JUMP in January to enable people to book bikes within the Uber app. Then, in July, Uber put some money behind its ambitions to get into scooters when it participated in a $335 million funding round in Lime. As part of
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Uber gets better about safety with ride checks and address anonymization

On the heels of the rape and murder of a Didi ride-hailing passenger in China, Uber has announced some new features to ensure safety for both the passenger and the driver. The first is what Uber calls Ride Check, which activates if the driver’s smartphone senses a possible crash. Ride Check will also activate if the GPS sensor in the driver’s phone notices there’s an abnormally long or unexpected stop during the trip. “They can let us know through the app that all is well, or take other actions like using the emergency button or reporting the issue to Uber’s critical safety line,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a blog post today. “We expect to expand this technology to additional scenarios in the future.” Additionally, Uber is no longer requiring drivers to fiddle with their phones at the beginning and end of the trip. Considering hands-free driving
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Learn about dismantling algorithmic bias at Disrupt

When Netflix recommends you watch “Everything Sucks” after you’ve finished “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” an algorithm decided that would be the next logical thing for you to watch. And when Google shows you one search result ahead of another, an algorithm made a decision that one page was more important than the other. Oh, and when law enforcement wrongly identifies a suspect using facial recognition, that’s another example of algorithms gone wrong. Algorithms are sets of rules that computers follow in order to solve problems and make decisions about a particular course of action. Whether it’s the type of information we receive, the information people see about us, the jobs we get hired to do, the credit cards we get approved for, and, down the road, the driverless cars that either see us or don’t see us, algorithms are increasingly becoming a big part of our lives. But there is an
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Housing startup Bungalow raises $14 million Series A round led by Khosla Ventures

Moving to a new city can be tough for a number of reasons, but what’s arguably hardest about moving is a competitive and expensive housing market, and lack of a pre-existing social support network. That’s the problem startup Bungalow is trying to solve. Bungalow, which just raised a $14 million Series A round led by Khosla Ventures with participation from Founders Fund, Atomic VC, Cherubic Ventures and Wing Ventures, offers people relatively affordable places to live with others who have been vetted by Bungalow’s platform. As part of the round, Keith Rabois of Khosla will join Bungalow’s board of directors. Bungalow also raised a $50 million debt facility to fuel its home growth costs. Bungalow had previously raised a $7 million seed round. Bungalow, which joins the likes of WeLive, OpenDoor, Common, Roam and so many others, aims to be cheaper than getting your own studio or
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23andMe’s ancestry tools are getting better for people of color

23andMe is beefing up its African, East Asian and Native American ancestry capabilities — something it has sorely lacked. Specifically, 23andMe has added to its database 12 new regions across Africa and East Asia. When I first tried 23andMe a few years ago, it told me I was 71 percent West African, which tells me next to nothing about which countries the bulk of my ancestry comes from. Well, that’s all changing — though, I already received the information from Ancestry — with 23andMe’s latest product update. “Key to this update is really the availability of more data from around the world, specifically in Africa and Asia,” 23andMe Senior Product Manager Robin Smith told TechCrunch. “It’s possible through certain initiatives, like the African Genetics Project and Global Genetics Project.” Before, 23andMe only provided three subgroups in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Now, there are eight additional subgroups in the area,
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Tonal launches at-home digital strength training system

If you want to have a brutal workout from the comfort of your own home — and have about $3,000 to spend — look no further. Tonal, a strength-training system powered by electromagnetism resistance technology and machine learning, is launching today to let you get ripped and in shape without having to go to the gym. There are two key features that make Tonal different from the weight lifting machines you’ll find in the gym. For one, there aren’t actual weights. Instead, Tonal uses electromagnetism to simulate and control weight. So when you’re doing a bicep curl, for example, “the thing pulling back on you isn’t gravity — it’s an electromagnetic field controlled by a computer algorithm,” Tonal CEO and founder Aly Orady told me at the company’s San Francisco headquarters last week. “It’s digitally-controlled weight.” The other key feature is the built-in personal trainer. For $49 a month,
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Nuro and Kroger are deploying self-driving cars for grocery delivery in Arizona today

Self-driving car startup Nuro is ready to put autonomous vehicles on the road in partnership with Kroger to deliver groceries in Scottsdale, Arizona. This comes a couple of months after Nuro and Kroger announced their partnership to offer same-day deliveries. This pilot will serve a single Fry’s Food and Drug location in Scottsdale starting today. Customers can shop for groceries and place either same- or next-day delivery orders via the grocer’s website or mobile app. There’s no minimum order but there is a flat delivery fee of $5.95. “We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately,” Nuro CEO Dave Ferguson said in a statement. “Our goal is to save people time, while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.” Nuro’s intent is to use its self-driving technology in the
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Tesla whistleblower tweets photos of allegedly damaged batteries

Martin Tripp, the former Tesla employee who was fired from Tesla and then sued by the company, has tweeted a number of photos that allegedly show damaged batteries and flawed practices at Tesla’s battery factory, CNBC first reported. In an attempt to corroborate some of his claims, Tripp has posted photos of vehicle identification numbers that he says were delivered with faulty, punctured battery cells. “As we’ve said before, these claims are false and Mr. Tripp does not even have personal knowledge about the safety claims that he is making,” a Tesla spokesperson told TechCrunch via email. “No punctured cells have ever been used in any Model 3 vehicles in any way, and all VINs that have been identified have safe batteries. Notably, there have been zero battery safety issues in any Model 3.”

Tesla whistleblower tweets photos of allegedly damaged batteries

Martin Tripp, the former Tesla employee who was fired from Tesla and then sued by the company, has tweeted a number of photos that allegedly show damaged batteries and flawed practices at Tesla’s battery factory, CNBC first reported. In an attempt to corroborate some of his claims, Tripp has posted photos of vehicle identification numbers that he says were delivered with faulty, punctured battery cells. “As we’ve said before, these claims are false and Mr. Tripp does not even have personal knowledge about the safety claims that he is making,” a Tesla spokesperson told TechCrunch via email. “No punctured cells have ever been used in any Model 3 vehicles in any way, and all VINs that have been identified have safe batteries. Notably, there have been zero battery safety issues in any Model 3.”

Uber reports Q2 losses of $404 million, up 32 percent from Q1

While Uber isn’t required to disclose its financial results, Uber has done so for the past few quarters as it gears up to go public next year. In Q2 2018, Uber’s net revenue was up 8 percent quarter-over-quarter, at $2.7 billion. Year-over-year, that’s a 51 percent increase. Uber recorded gross bookings — the total taken for all of Uber’s transportation services — of $12 billion, a six percent quarter-over-quarter increase and a 41 percent year-over-year increase. But while Uber’s gross bookings increased, so did its losses. In Q2, Uber had adjusted EBITDA losses of $404 million compared to $304 million in losses in Q1. Uber’s losses added up, given its investments in Eats, India, the Middle East, bikes and scooters. This quarter, Uber expanded Eats into a number of new cities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, acquired food delivery startup Andoannounced its expansion of JUMP
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