‘Avengers: Endgame’ is a very silly movie, but it ends in exactly the right way


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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With just a few days until the release of “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel fans everywhere are probably wondering A) Who dies?? and B) Will this actually resolve the cliffhanger ending of “Infinity War” in a satisfying way?

So, just to get it out of the way: A) I’m not telling, and B) Kind of? Mostly? It depends?

Certainly, if you’re like me and found yourself fatigued by the constant, overcrowded battles of “Infinity War,” the beginning of “Endgame” will come as an enormous relief. There’s a brief flicker of action, then we get plenty of time to deal with the fallout from “Infinity War.” (And if you don’t already know how that movie ends, why are you reading this review?)

We see that half the population of Earth, and the universe, really died after Thanos’ magical finger snap, leaving the original Avengers team and a few other heroes to

Avengers: Endgame

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Snapchat revives growth in Q1 beat with 190M users as share price spikes


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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Snapchat appears to have turned the corner after a year of flat or negative user growth thanks to a strong Q1 2019 earnings report. It reached 190 million daily active users, up 2 percent from 186 million in Q4 2018 but still down from 191 million a year ago, in part thanks to its newly reengineered Android app. Snap saw $320 million in revenue and -$0.10 non-GAAP EPS, beating Zack’s consensus estimates of $306 million and -$0.12 EPS, with revenue up 39 percent year-over-year.

One concern is Snapchat provided guidance of greater losses next quarter, ranging from $125 million to $150 million compared to this quarter’s $123 million. That’s because increased usage triggers higher Amazon AWS and Google Cloud bills for the company. This could delay Snapchat hitting profitibility, which Spiegel had set of goal of reaching by the end of 2019.

The strong beat on earnings led

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The master list of PR DON’Ts (or how not to piss off the writer covering your startup)


This post is by Danny Crichton from TechCrunch


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When it comes to working with journalists, so many people are, frankly, idiots. I have seen reporters yank stories because founders are assholes, play unfairly, or have PR firms that use ridiculous pressure tactics when they have already committed to a story.

There is so much bad behavior that I thought that it might be time to write up a list of “DON’Ts” on how not to work with journalists.

I compiled this list by polling TechCrunch’s entire writing staff for their pet peeves when it comes to working with PR folks and founders around startup pitches. The result was this list of 16 obnoxious annoyances.

The interesting thread that connects all of them is that these DON’Ts are almost universal across the staff — few of these annoyances seemed to be merely personal preference. Avoiding these behaviors won’t guarantee coverage of your startup, but they certainly will help you

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How to pitch to a (tech) journalist


This post is by Danny Crichton from TechCrunch


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Startup growth comes from many places, but one option is through “earned media” — stories and mentions in the press. Earned media is great, because the channel is nominally free, and it can often get many more of the right eyeballs than advertising. Minus some sleazy behavior in the journalism world, you should never have to pay a dime to get a story into print other than the work it takes to manage PR (and yes, of course, that can be very expensive, although it doesn’t have to be).

For these reasons, startups pitch writers a lot on stories about everything from their latest fundraise to new features in their apps. Yet despite that frequency, some founders (and PR folks) are extraordinarily good at pitching and find great success, while others seem to never get the attention of even the most workaholic writers.

The job of writers is to

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Group Nine hires Brian Lee to lead its commerce business


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Group Nine Media has hired Brian Lee to as its first executive vice president of commerce.

Lee held a similar role at Maker Studios before its acquisition by Disney, and he also founded the New York-based accelerator SKIG. Group Nine — which was created by the merger of Thrillist, NowThis Media, The Dodo and Discovery-owned Seeker — says Lee’s job will include licensing, merchandising, affiliate advertising and direct-to-consumer products.

“Group Nine has some of the most loved and impactful brands, coupled with the ability to leverage a host of deeply powerful insights,” said Lee said in a statement. “I believe we are uniquely positioned to make huge strides in this space and can’t wait to get started.”

When I met with Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer earlier this year, he laid out his vision for the company moving forward.

“We’re successfully building brands — not to be distributed

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Netflix offers $2 billion more in debt to fund its content spending


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Netflix is raising another $2 billion in debt to fund its content spending and other expenses, the company announced this morning. The news comes ahead of the launches of new streaming service competitors from Disney, Apple, and AT&T’s WarnerMedia. It also follows Netflix’s offer of another $2 billion in debt back in October 2018.

The streaming service says it plans to use the debt funding for general purposes, including “content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”

The funds will be raised through unsecured notes that will be issued in two series in both U.S. dollars and euros, it says.

Netflix spends a lot of cash to stay ahead of the competition and acquire subscribers. It believes that its investment in original content — shows and movies that users can’t find anywhere else, and that it owns the rights to

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Verizon and Google ink deal to offer YouTube TV to Verizon wireless and Fios subscribers


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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Just days after Google and Amazon buried the hatchet over their longstanding streaming feud, Google has made another interesting inroad in its bid to bring yet more ubiquity to its YouTube-based premium video efforts. Today, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) and the search giant announced a new partnership where Verizon customers will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV through their accounts to watch “on whatever platform they choose,” in the words of Erin McPheron, Verizon’s head of content strategy and acquisition.

That will mean, in Verizon terms, getting a YouTube TV stream if you are a 5G wireless home customer as part of an internet bundle, or as part of your Fios subscription if you are a customer of Verizon’s fiber-optic TV, telephone and internet service. It sounds like there will be other options to come. “Verizon will also offer unique, high-value YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms,” the

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Chive Media’s out-of-home TV spinoff Atmosphere raises $10M


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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When Chive Media Group spun out its out-of-home TV business last year, co-founder and CEO Leo Resig said the structure should help the new company, called Atmosphere, raise venture capital.

Looks like those fundraising efforts were successful, with Atmosphere announcing that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by S3 Ventures, with participation from Capstar Capital.

“I have yet to meet someone who enjoys watching closed-captioning or talking heads at their favorite establishments,” said S3 Ventures Partner Charlie Plauche in a statement. (Plauche is joining Atmosphere’s board of directors.) “Yet, that is the best option most businesses have to entertain patrons. That all changes with Atmosphere, who offers engaging content to viewers of all ages with no audio needed.”

Chive Media Group is known for its namesake website, theChive, which focuses on funny and viral content. Chive co-founders (and brothers) Leo and John Resig

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Audioburst raises $10M to build AI-powered infotainment systems for cars, ad solutions


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Audioburst, a startup that uses AI technology to extract the best bits from podcasts and talk radio to create new listening experiences, has raised an additional $10 million in strategic funding from Dentsu and Hyundai Motor Company. The new round is focused on helping Audioburst further expand into advertising and in vehicles. It also precedes the company’s planned launch into Japan at the end of 2019.

Dentsu and Hyundai join Audioburst’s other strategic investors, Samsung Ventures, Nippon Broadcasting, and Advanced Media, Inc., and bring the company’s total raise to date to $25 million.

The startup today ingests and indexes millions of audio segments per day, then uses AI technology — including Automatic Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding — to create products like a searchable library of audio, personalized audio feeds and news briefs, notifications and more.

Through an API, partners can integrate Audioburst’s personalized feeds

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SiriusXM’s new streaming-only ‘Essential’ plan targets smart speaker owners


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Last week, Amazon and Google rolled out free music streaming services to cater to the growing base of smart speaker owners. Now, SiriusXM is going after this market, too. The company has launched a new plan called SiriusXM Essential which targets those who listen in-home and on mobile devices, but not in cars. The streaming-only plan is also more affordable — $8 per month, versus the $15.99 per month (and up) plans for SiriusXM’s satellite radio service for cars.

With a subscription to Essential, customers can stream to in-home devices including Amazon Alexa, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos speakers, Xbox, Sony PlayStation and others, as well as to phones, tablets, and desktops.

The plan offers SiriusXM’s full lineup of over 300 channels, including 200+ channels of commercial-free music stations, and its new Pandora NOW station. There are also 100+ of the newer SiriusXM Xtra channels that

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Google & Amazon reach an agreement to bring their streaming apps to each others’ platforms


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Google and Amazon are burying the hatchet to better serve users of their respective streaming video platforms, the companies announced this morning. In the months ahead, the official YouTube app will come to Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, while the Prime Video app will come to Chromecast and other devices with Chromecast built-in.

Prime Video will also become broadly available across the Android TV partner ecosystem, and YouTube’s sister apps — YouTube TV and YouTube Kids — will come to Fire TV later in the year.

Google says YouTube users on Fire TV will be able to sign in, have full access to their library, and play videos in 4K HDR at 60 fps on supported devices.

Prime Video app users, meanwhile, will be able to stream from the Prime Video catalog, including Amazon’s original programming, 4K videos, and access their Prime Video Channel subscriptions.

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Wattpad partners with Sony Pictures Television in first-look deal for original programming


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Wattpad, the online storytelling community whose authors’ works have been turned into Netflix movies, TV shows for Hulu and projects for other studios both in the U.S. and worldwide, announced today a new partnership with Sony Pictures Television. The deal gives Sony a first-look option for up-and-coming Wattpad stories — in other words, a way to snag the next big teen hit that already has a built-in fan base.

Wattpad says it will work with Sony to help it to identify the popular stories on its platform from the half a billion story uploads it has seen to date. The company uses its “Story DNA” machine learning technology alongside human curation to quickly identify the most promising IP and storytellers on Wattpad.

The technology helps deconstruct stories by analyzing things like sentence structure, word use and grammar, with the goal of helping to uncover the next best

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Netflix added 9.6M subscribers in Q1, with revenue of $4.5B


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Netflix just released its earnings letter for the first quarter of 2019. The company says it saw growth of 9.6 million paying subscribers, up 16 percent year-over-year.

That’s significantly ahead of the 8.9 million new subscribers that analysts had predicted. On the financial side, it came in right at expectations, with revenue of $4.5 billion and earnings per share of 76 cents.

The company says it now has 148.9 million paid streaming memberships. Most of this growth (7.9 million of the net additions in Q1) is happening internationally.

Things aren’t looking quite as strong in Q2, with Netflix forecasting 5 million net additions, which would be 8 percent lower than growth during the same period in 2018.

As of 4:36pm Eastern, Netflix shares are down about 1.8 percent in after-hours trading, presumably in response to that Q2 forecast.

This comes as Netflix is rolling

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Nearly two dozen of SiriusXM’s talk shows come to Pandora as podcasts


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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SiriusXM hasn’t wasted any time in capitalizing on its acquisition of streaming service Pandora. Following an exec shakeup and the launch of a Pandora-powered music station across both services, SiriusXM is today bringing some of its top talk shows to Pandora, where they’ll be listed as “podcasts.”

At launch, content from nearly two dozen SiriusXM shows will make the jump to Pandora, including those hosted by hosted by Andy Cohen, Ricky Gervais, Kevin Hart, Hoda Kotb, Jenny McCarthy, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Sway, and others.

The shows won’t necessarily be offered in their entirety, but instead will bring their top moments and highlights to Pandora listeners.

For example, “Andy Cohen’s Deep & Shallow Interviews,” will feature Cohen’s best conversations of the week; “Jenny McCarthy’s Celebrity Dirt,” will have highlights of McCarthy dishing on the latest Hollywood scandals; “The Jason Ellis Show,” will play top moments of the week; and

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Science fiction author Gene Wolfe has died


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Gene Wolfe, author of “The Book of the New Sun” and other acclaimed works of science fiction and fantasy, died Sunday at the age of 87.

According to Locus, his death came after a long struggle with heart disease.

While Wolfe was never quite as famous as some of his peers, his writing was loved intensely by his fans. Ursula Le Guin, for example, called him “our Melville,” while Michael Swanwick described him as “the greatest writer in the English language alive today.”

That level of praise (and comparisons between his best-known work and James Joyce’s “Ulysses”) might seem hyperbolic — unless you’ve actually read his best novels and stories. To some, Wolfe’s writing represents science fiction’s strongest claim toward creating capital-L Literature.

The four-volume “Book of the New Sun,” published between 1980 and 1983, remains his best-known single work. It tells the story of Severian, a wandering

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Apple hires A&E’s Molly Thompson as its Head of Documentaries


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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In addition to a growing lineup of scripted fare, documentaries will be another key focus for Apple TV+, the company’s new streaming service set to launch in May. According to a new report today from Variety, Apple has hired A&E’s Molly Thompson as its Head of Documentaries.

Thompson’s experience at A&E includes founding its documentary production arm, A&E IndieFilms, back in 2005. While there, several of its films earned Emmy nominations, including “Life, Animated,” “Cartel Land,” “Jesus Camp,” and “Murderball.”

Cartel Land,” “Life, Animated,” and “The Tillman Story,” combined, went on to win over a half-dozen Emmys, along with other industry awards.

Thompson also has exec produced: “The Clinton Affair,” Charles Ferguson’s “Watergate” docuseries, “Studio 54,” “City of Ghosts,” “The Imposter,” “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon,” “The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld,” “No Place

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Vimeo has acquired short-form video creation platform Magisto


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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Vimeo, the IAC -owned platform for hosting, sharing and monetizing streamed video, has made an acquisition to expand into providing more creation and editing tools. The company has acquired Magisto, a startup founded in Israel that currently has over 100 million users that focuses on providing tools to create and edit short-form videos, providing not just editing but sourcing of music, stock photos and other elements as part of the mix.

Vimeo — which itself has 90 million members in over 150 countries — says that the two will work together “to develop entirely new short-form video creation capabilities for the Vimeo platform, with the goal of helping any individual or business tell their stories with professionalism and ease.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed — but we are trying to find out. Magisto had raised around $23 million since 2010 from a mix of financial and

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Original Content podcast: Making sense of the surreal terrors in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Jordan Peele fans who go to his latest film “Us” hoping to find another “Get Out” may be disappointed: Where Peele’s directorial debut lent itself to straightforward political allegory, the follow-up feels murkier and stranger.

“Us” is a nightmarish journey into a world invaded by sinister doppelgangers. The film does, eventually, offer a rationale for what’s happening, but the surreal imagery (and the unsettling work by the cast, led by Lupita Nyong’o) will stick with you in a way that the explanations do not.

On this week’s episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Megan Rose Dickey to review the film. Now that it’s been a few weeks since “Us” hit theaters, it feels like the right time to argue about what actually happened, dig into the film’s symbolism and see which fan theories resonate.

We also talk about our expectations after watching the first trailer for

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Watch the first trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Hot on the heels of announcing the details of the upcoming Disney+ streaming service (which will feature plenty of Star Wars content), Disney and Lucasfilm just released the first trailer for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

The unveiling came at the end of a panel at this year’s Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, where the title of the movie (previously only known as “Star Wars Episode IX”) was finally revealed.

While on-stage, director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy talked about filming after the death of Carrie Fisher. They’d already announced that they will not be using CGI to try to bring Fisher’s character Leia Organa back to life — but she will be a part of “The Rise of Skywalker,” using previously unseen footage from “The Force Awakens.”

“The craziest part is how not crazy it feels,” Abrams said. “Princess Leia lives in

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Disney shows off its upcoming Disney+ streaming service


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming strategy took center stage today at the company’s investor day. That strategy includes Hulu (where the recently-closed Fox acquisition has given Disney a contyrolling stake), ESPN+ and the Indian streaming service Hotstar, but executives spent most of their time hyping the upcoming launch of Disney+.

For one thing, they confirmed that unlike Hulu and ESPN+, Disney+ will be entire ad-free, making all its money from subscriptions. Kevin Mayer, Disney’s direct-to-consumer chairman also said the company will is also “likely” to offer a bundle of Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ at a discounted product.

Mayer and other Disney executives also offered the first look at what they said is a “working prototype” of the Disney+ service. To a large extent, it looked like any other streaming app, but they made it clear that all the content will be available to download for offline viewing.

The service will also emphasize

Disney+ rollout

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