Original Content podcast: We’re not on the same page about ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein’


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Just to get this out of the way: “Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein” is a great title. In fact, it’s probably the best thing about the new comedy special on Netflix .

That’s not a complaint about the special itself, which stars David Harbour (a.k.a. Chief Hopper on “Stranger Things”), as both David Harbour Jr — an actor taking on the role of Frankenstein in a play also called “Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein” — and David Harbour III, an actor who investigates his father’s life decades later.

If this sounds needlessly complicated don’t worry. As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, the plot mostly serves as a springboard lots for jokes about actorly jealousy, Chekhov’s gun and the fact that no one can remember that Frankenstein and his monster are two different people. Anthony and Darrell, at least, found the whole thing to be

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Submittable raises $10M to help publishers and other organizations manage their submissions


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Submittable is announcing that it has raised $10 million in Series B funding.

When I first wrote about the company in 2012, it was focused on helping literary magazines manage their submissions — useful, but maybe not the kind of thing that venture capitalists write big checks for.

Since then, Submittable raised a $5 million Series A and expanded by helping companies in a number of industries manage their submissions and applications. Co-founder and CEO Michael FitzGerald said the company has built products for four main verticals (corporate, academic, philanthropy and publishing) and has signed up big customers like AT&T, HBO, Conde Nast, Harvard and MIT.

And while publishing may no longer be the main focus, FitzGerald — a published novelist himself — noted that “in the publishing world, we’re pretty much the way you do it.” I’ve certainly been seeing more Submittable submissions pages, (although FitzGerald acknowledged that

Submittable screenshot

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Rent the Backyard wants to build a studio apartment in your yard


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Rent the Backyard is one of the rare startups with a name that perfectly suits what it does.

The company, which is part of Y Combinator’s current batch, builds studio apartments in homeowners’ backyards, which are then rented out for income.

Of course, if you already own a house with a yard, you could theoretically do this for yourself, without getting a startup involved, but co-founder Brian Bakerman told me, “The goal is to have no headaches for the homeowners.”

That means Rent the Backyard works with a partner to build the apartment, finances the construction, lists the property, selects the tenant, collects the rent and serves as the landlord. In exchange for all that, it has an ownership stake in the unit and keeps 50 percent of the rent.

The startup also handles the permitting, which co-founder Spencer Burleigh said has become much easier with recent changes in

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Daily Crunch: Netflix has a rough quarter


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Netflix reports net subscriber loss in the US, misses global subscriber growth predictions

Netflix’s price hikes might finally be convincing some consumers to unsubscribe. The company reported net growth of 2.7 million subscribers worldwide, but it actually added 2.83 million new subscribers internationally while losing around 130,000 in the United States.

Growth was lower than expected across the board, but it underperformed more noticeably in regions where it introduced a price hike.

2. FaceApp gets federal attention as Sen. Schumer raises alarm on data use

In a letter to the heads of the FBI and FTC, the senator wrote, “FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the

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Haus, the real estate startup founded by Garrett Camp, raises $7.1M


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Haus, a startup aiming to make home ownership more affordable and flexible, is announcing that it has raised $7.1 million in new funding.

This amount combines a $4.1 million seed equity investment led by Montage Ventures and $3 million in debt, which will help finance Haus’ new co-investment model.

Haus was created by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp as part of his startup studio Expa . When it launched in 2016, it was focused on digitizing and bringing more transparency to the home-buying process. Since then, former Trulia executive Jonathan McNulty joined as CEO, and he’s introduced that co-investment model, where Haus helps to finance a purchase by buying equity in the home.

The idea is that instead of taking on debt, the homeowner is sharing both the risks and the rewards of changing home values with Haus. Nad instead of paying off a mortgage, the homeowner

haus screenshot

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HBO Max is bringing back ‘Gossip Girl’


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“Gossip Girl,” the soapy CW drama about wealthy teenagers behaving badly in New York City’s Upper East Side, is returning to TV thanks to HBO Max.

Specifically, the streaming service has placed a 10-episode, straight-to-series order for an updated version of the show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Joshua Safran (a writer and executive producer on the original show) will be spearheading the new series, while Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (the original creators) have signed on as executive producers.

It’s not clear yet whether any “Gossip Girl” stars will return, but Safran described this as an “extension” of the previous show, focusing on a new generation of teenagers.

To be clear, this won’t be on HBO proper, but instead on the yet-to-launch WarnerMedia streaming service now known as HBO Max, which will include HBO and other streaming content (including new shows and also “Friends”).

“Gossip Girl” initially

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Daily Crunch: Neuralink prepares for brain-computer testing


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Elon Musk’s Neuralink looks to begin outfitting human brains with faster input and output starting next year

Musk said that in the long term, Neuralink really is about figuring out a way to “achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

For now, however, the plan is to use a robot that operates somewhat like a “sewing machine” to implant threads, which are incredibly thin, deep within a person’s brain tissue, where it will be capable of performing both read and write operations at very high data volume.

2. AI photo editor FaceApp goes viral again on iOS, raises questions about photo library access

In this current wave of virality, some new questions are floating

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10x Ascend aims to help tech talent with job negotiations


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10x Ascend is a new firm that helps software development, cybersecurity and data science professionals negotiate for better deals.

Founders Michael Solomon and Rishon Blumberg started out in talent management for the music industry (their clients still include musicians like Vanessa Carlton), then moved into representing tech freelancers with their firm 10x Management. More recently, they decided that there was an opportunity to provide similar services to full-time employees.

Given the rising demand for tech talent (the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that software development roles will grow by 31 percent through 2026), you might think that developers and engineers can get anything they want when they’re look for a job.

However, Blumberg suggested that many of these prospective hires simply don’t feel comfortable asking for what they want or what they’re worth — whether that’s more money, more equity, more flexibility in working from home, more vacation or

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Peter Thiel says Elizabeth Warren is ‘dangerous,’ Warren responds: ‘Good’


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Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem too unhappy about being labeled “dangerous” by investor Peter Thiel .

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, Palantir and Founders Fund, made the comments in an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, where he described most of the Democratic presidential field as “equally unimpressive” and called Warren “the dangerous one.”

“I’m most scared by Elizabeth Warren,” he said. “I think she’s the one who’s actually talking about the economy, which is the only thing — the thing that I think matters by far the most.”

Warren tweeted a link to a Bloomberg story about Thiel’s remarks with a succinct response of her own: “Good.”

Thiel is a high-profile backer of libertarian causes and a Trump supporter — a fact that’s made him a controversial figure in Silicon Valley — so it’s hard to imagine

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Daily Crunch: Facebook and Libra go to Washington


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Highlights from Facebook’s Libra Senate hearing

David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s blockchain subsidiary Calibra, testified before the Senate Banking Committee today. He said Calibra will be interoperable, so users can send money back and forth with other wallets, and he committed to data portability, so users can switch entirely to a competitor.

At the same time, Marcus said Facebook will embed only its own wallet into its messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp, which could give the company a sizable advantage.

2. Twitter.com launches its big redesign with simpler navigation and more features

The company has been testing a new version of its desktop website since the beginning of the year, and yesterday, the final

Curve Cash in App 1

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With help from ‘Game of Thrones,’ HBO conquers Netflix in Emmy nominations


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When the Emmy nominations were announced last year, Netflix had a big win, overtaking HBO for the first time. But this year, HBO is back in the lead, with 137 nominations compared to Netflix’s 117.

The Hollywood Reporter has tallied up the just-announced nominations, with Amazon Prime Video getting 47 nods and Hulu receiving 20.

HBO, meanwhile, didn’t just beat Netflix — it also beat its own record for most nominations in a single year. That’s good news for WarnerMedia, which is hoping that HBO branding can help its upcoming streaming service stand out from the crowd.

That said, its most-nominated show is one that just ended — “Game of Thrones,” which received 32 nominations, making it the most-nominated show of the year, and setting the record for the most nominations that any show has received for a single year.

That’s right: These are nominations for the show’s divisive final

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Newsletter platform Substack raises $15.3M round led by A16Z


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Andreessen Horowitz is betting that there’s still a big opportunity in newsletters — the venture capital firm is leading a $15.3 million Series A in Substack.

To be clear, although Substack started out two years ago as a way turn newsletters into a paid subscription business, it’s since added support for podcasts and discussion threads . As CEO Chris Best put it, the goal is to allow writers and creators to run their own “personal media empire.”

Writers using Substack include Nicole Cliffe, Daniel Ortberg, Judd Legum, Heather Havrilesky and Matt Taibbi. The startup says that newsletters on the platform have now amassed a total of 50,000 paying subscribers (up from 25,000 in October), and that the most popular Substack authors are already making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

A16Z’s Andrew Chen — a blogger and newsletter writer himself — is joining

Substack screenshot

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Blackstone is acquiring mobile ad company Vungle


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Private equity firm Blackstone just announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire mobile advertising company Vungle.

The companies aren’t disclosing the financial terms, but as part of the transaction, Vungle has also reached a settlement with founder Zain Jaffer, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company earlier this year.

“As a best-in-class performance marketing platform, Vungle represents a key growth engine for the mobile app ecosystem,” said Blackstone principal Sachin Bavishi in a statement. “Our investment will help deliver on the company’s tremendous growth potential and we look forward to partnering with management to extend Vungle’s strength across mobile gaming and other performance brands.”

Meanwhile, CEO Rick Tallman said the deal will allow the company to “further accelerate Vungle’s mission to be the trusted guide for growth and engagement, transforming how users discover and experience mobile apps.”

Vungle was founded back in 2011,

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Daily Crunch: Uber sets diversity goals


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Uber finally sets diversity, inclusion and equity goals

While Uber is still predominantly white and Asian, the company has made notable headway in the representation of black and Latinx people among its employees.

As for those goals, Uber says that in the next three years, it aims to increase the percentage of women at levels L5 and higher (i.e. manager and above) to 35%, and increase the percentage of underrepresented employees at levels L4 and higher to 14%.

2. Waze now shows road toll prices along your driving route

With Waze, you can find out the amount you’ll need to pay — sourced from its community of user-drivers, rather than direct from the official toll

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Customer data management company Amperity raises $50M


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Amperity is announcing that it has raised $50 million in Series C funding.

The company offers what co-founder and CEO Kabir Shahani said is the ability to “ingest every piece of atomic-level data remotely related to a customer and assemble it into a customer 360.”

To illustrate how Amperity can help businesses use their customer data more intelligently, Shahani (pictured above with his co-founder and CTO Derek Slager) said a company with a branded credit card could start sending targeted offers based on customer activity, while a retailer could start sending promotions targeted at online-only customers to bring them into physical stores.

And just to be clear: This is only using first-party data collected by the brand itself, not third-party data purchased from other companies. In fact, when I brought this up, Shahani told me he has a “very strong and convicted belief in the sanctity of the relationship

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Original Content podcast: Netflix thriller ‘Point Blank’ underwhelms


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“Point Blank,” a new Netflix original film, stars Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie as a criminal and a nurse thrown together by circumstances — Abe (played by Grillo) is struck by a car while fleeing a murder scene, and he’s brought to the hospital where Paul (Mackie) works. Soon, Paul finds himself coerced into to breaking Abe out of the hospital.

Despite the presence of two Marvel stars (Grillo had a brief-but-memorable run in the Captain America movies as Brock Rumlow, while Mackie’s Falcon is about to become the new Captain America), “Point Blank” is a decidedly modest affair, focusing on these two men as they drive through the streets of Cincinnati, on the run from both the police and criminals.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to deliver a straightforward crime movie, but as we discuss in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we found ourselves underwhelmed

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Daily Crunch: Twitter will let you hide replies


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Twitter will start testing its ‘hide replies’ feature next week, in Canada

Before you start complaining about censorship, keep in mind that hidden replies won’t actually get pulled from Twitter — they’ll disappear from the default view, but you can still tap a gray icon to see them.

The goal is to give the person who starts a conversation more control over which comments are visible, making it harder for trolls to jump in and derail things.

2. Ford and Volkswagen team up on EVs, with Ford the first outside automaker to use VW’s MEB platform

This EV tie-up will see Ford using Volkswagen’s platform to develop “at least one” fully electric car for the European

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Sage Plus for Experts gives travel experts a central place to share their content


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Sage is giving reviewers, chefs and other experts and publishers a central place to share all their content.

To do this, the startup has created a new product called Sage Plus for Experts, which isn’t open to the public yet, but is accepting signups from those aforementioned travel experts — the kinds of experts who can share content around things to do, food, drinks, experiences and shopping.

Founder and CEO Samir Arora (who previously led Mode Media/Glam Media) suggested that a Sage profile can serve as the center of a creator or publisher’s online presence. And eventually, it could become the foundation for them to build their own personal direct-to-consumer brand.

In the announcement, Arora said the product was designed to answer “a simple question”: “Why does the internet not offer a simple way to show recommendations by real experts or the authentic experiences and products by the brands

Sage Plus for Experts
Travel Featured curator on Sage Plus for Experts

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Twitter will start testing its ‘hide replies’ feature next week, in Canada


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Twitter users are getting more control over which comments are visible in the conversations they start.

The company has been testing and talking about this feature since earlier this year, but starting next week, Twitter will actually roll it out to users in Canada.

As you can see in the GIF below, when you’re looking at replies to your tweets, you’ll be able select any of them and hit the “hide reply” option. However, as the name implies, these posts won’t be fully removed from Twitter, just hidden from the default view — everyone will still be able to tap on a gray icon to view hidden replies.

Here’s how Twitter’s Michelle Yasmeen Haq and Brittany Forks explain the feature:

Everyday, people start important conversations on Twitter, from #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, to discussions around #NBAFinals or their favorite television shows. These conversations bring people together to debate, learn, and

Twitter Hide Replies

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David Fincher will direct ‘Mank’ biopic for Netflix


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David Fincher will be directing his first feature film since 2014, and he’s making it for Netflix .

The director of “Seven” and “The Social Network” already helped kick off Netflix’s original content boom by directing episodes of “House of Cards” and “Mindhunter.” In fact, the popularity of Fincher’s films on Netflix was famously one of the reasons the streamer’s executives felt comfortable spending hundreds of millions of dollars on “House of Cards.”

As reported in Variety, Fincher’s new film is currently titled “Mank.” It will be a biopic starring Gary Oldman as screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who shared credit (and the film’s only Academy Award) with director Orson Welles for writing “Citizen Kane.”

While it’s not clear what stance the film will take towards Mankiewicz and Welles, it’s worth noting that some cinephiles (including the critic Pauline Kael) have argued that Mankiewicz deserves more

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