Verified Startup Lawyer: Stephane Levy

Stephane Levy got his start in the days of Silicon Alley almost two decades ago, and built up his practice with New York startups and beyond through all the ups and downs since then.

Today, as a partner at Cooley LLP, he works with a wide range of companies, from company formation, seed and later stage rounds, all the way through to M&A transactions and IPOs. He also teaches at Cornell University Law School as an adjunct professor, on legal matters affecting emerging companies and venture capital transactions.

“We met him in the very early days, and his help on all things relating to the company, investors, corporate decisions, fundraising, and just simple strategy has been spot on. He’s always someone I can rely on to give me honest feedback that will eventually play out to be true.” Sachin Kamdar, New York City, CEO, Parsely


On the New York startup scene

“I was probably one of a handful of tech lawyers in NY, at least of my vintage, working with startups and venture funds in the early and mid 2000s, so I kind of grew up doing that stuff in New York when most of the other corporate lawyers in the city were focused on more traditional M&A, private equity, capital markets, etc.”

When a client is having a rough time

“I’m not going to drop a company just because they are going through hard times or treat them any different. It’s a mixed bag out there, and at the end of the day you’ll have some really successful companies and some that are having a tougher time, but you have to take a long view. If a company is going through a really tough time — for example, they’re having trouble raising money — them not getting any attention from their lawyer will really compound some of the issues.”

What makes startup lawyers good

“The key is to try to bring your judgment to bare and say, “Listen, there’s going to be some risk. I’m not going to advocate you do everything on my punch list of ideal things you can be doing from a legal perspective, but if you have to focus on a few things to stay out of trouble for now, these would be them.” Not every lawyer is able to give that type of guidance or has, I guess, the experience or the judgment to be able to do that, but that’s something that entrepreneurs really value.”

Sample horror story

“Let’s say three founders take a third each and they don’t impose vesting. A year later, one of the founders leaves to go get a job somewhere and doesn’t want to give a portion of the equity back. Those are potentially really significant errors that could cost the company and the founders.  I just feel bad because the reality is we’ve automated a lot of our formation processes up front such that it really doesn’t cost much for founders to get state of the art documents in place from the get go.”

Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This article is part of our ongoing series covering great lawyers and other experts who founders love to work with. More details here.

Click here to register for Extra Crunch, or log in here.


Source: Tech Crunch

Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime retires (and Bowser claims the castle)

Reggie Fils-Aime is retiring after more than a decade spent as president of Nintendo of America. His career spanned many console generations, starting with the troubled Gamecube and ending with the fabulously successful Switch. Reggie will be succeeded by Doug Bowser, who has worked under him for the last four years.

In a statement provided by Nintendo, Reggie (who frequently went by his first name in familiar fashion) offered the following farewell:

Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever. It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.

In addition, he posted a video farewell on Twitter:

Reggie has been one of Nintendo’s most public and recognizable faces ever since the early days of his ascendancy, which coincidentally was when I began covering E3 regularly for work. I had the privilege of meeting him numerous times for interviews and Q&As, as well as just bumping into him at this or that event.

His indefatigably on-message manner, as if he had a prepared remark for every possible question, was impossible to be frustrated with because of his undeniable charisma and passion for the games and devices he was promoting. It may have been hard to tell where Reggie ended and Nintendo PR began (perhaps now we’ll never know), but he was never anything less than helpful and engaging in my experience.

When he took over Nintendo of America, the company as a whole was recovering from a down period marked by a console (the GameCube) that had not kept pace with the competition and a handheld that, while popular, was flagging and clearly old-fashioned.

As most will remember, however, the company soon turned all that around with the DS and Wii, two of the best-selling consoles of all time and ones that returned Nintendo to its household name status as well as vastly expanding the “gamer” demographic. Of course the Wii U was a disappointment (though home to many great games) but since then the Switch has restored confidence in the company’s ability to innovate and deliver. With some 20 million sold since launch, Reggie is leaving on a high note.

Reggie’s involvement from the outside seemed to be to pretend these things didn’t exist until 30 seconds before going on stage to announce them, after which he would tirelessly promote them to every outlet and fan that managed to make eye contact with him. He was accessible, friendly, and if not candid he was certainly honest and earnest at all times. He’ll certainly be missed by many, myself included.

Doug Bowser will take over as president on April 15, Reggie’s official last day. Bowser joined in 2015 and led the sales and marketing for the Switch, so you know he’s got momentum — plus, you know, the name.

I’ve asked Nintendo for any further information on Reggie’s departure, such as whether he’ll still be involved with the company at all, and will update this post if I hear back.

So long, Reggie, and best of luck on the next level!


Source: Tech Crunch

Robotics, AR and VR are poised to reshape healthcare, starting in the operating room

About 20 years ago, a medical device startup called Intuitive Surgical debuted the da Vinci robot and changed surgical practices in operating rooms across the United States.

The da Vinci ushered in the first age of robotic-assisted surgical procedures with a promise of greater accuracy and quicker recovery times for patients undergoing certain laparoscopic surgeries. 

For a time, it was largely alone in the market. It has skyrocketed in value since 2000, when the stock first debuted on public markets. From the $46 million that the company initially raised in its public offering to now, with a market capitalization of nearly $63 billion, Intuitive has been at the forefront of robotic-assisted surgeries, but now a new crop of startups is emerging to challenge the company’s dominance.

Backed by hundreds of millions in venture capital dollars, new businesses are coming to refashion operating rooms again — this time using new visualization and display technologies like virtual and augmented reality, and a new class of operating robots. Their vision is to drive down the cost and improve the quality of surgical procedures through automation and robotic equipment.

“There were 900,000 surgeries done using surgical robotics out of a total of 313 million surgical procedures,” globally, says Dror Berman, a managing director of Innovation Endeavors.

Berman is an investor in Vicarious Surgical, a new robotics company that plans to not only improve the cost and efficiency of surgical procedures, but enable them to be performed remotely so the best surgeons can be found to perform operations no matter where in the world they are.

“Robotics and automation present multiple opportunities to improve current processes, from providing scientists the opportunity to vastly increase experimental throughput, to allowing people with disabilities to regain use of their limbs,” Berman wrote in a blog post announcing his firm’s initial investment in Vicarious.

The $3.4 billion acquisition of Auris Health by Johnson & Johnson shows just how lucrative the market for new surgical robotics can be.

That company, founded by one of the progenitors of the surgical robotics industry, Fred Moll, is the first to offer serious competition to Intuitive Surgical’s technological advantage — no wonder, considering Dr. Moll also founded Intuitive Surgical.

Last year, the company unveiled its Monarch platform, which takes an endoscopic approach to surgical procedures that is less invasive and more accurate to test for — and treat — lung cancer.

“A CT scan shows a mass or a lesion,” Dr. Moll said in an interview at the time. “It doesn’t tell you what it is. Then you have to get a piece of lung, and if it’s a small lesion. It isn’t that easy — it can be quite a traumatic procedure. So you’d like to do it in a very systematic and minimally invasive fashion. Currently it’s difficult with manual techniques and 40 percent of the time, there is no diagnosis. This is has been a problem for many years and [inhibits] the ability of a clinician to diagnose and treat early-stage cancer.”

Monarch uses an endoscopy procedure to insert a flexible robot into hard-to-reach places inside the human body. Doctors trained on the system use video game-style controllers to navigate inside, with help from 3D models.


Source: Tech Crunch

Tesla Model 3 loses Consumer Reports recommendation over ‘reliability problems’

Consumer Reports has placed the Tesla Model 3 into that fun-to-drive, terribly unreliable category where brands like Alfa Romeo, Land Rover and Masterati also live.

Consumer Reports, which has a complicated relationship with Tesla, says it can no longer recommend the Model 3 because issues with the paint, trim and body hardware raises reliability questions. CR members reported the results in an annual reliability survey that includes data on about 470,000 vehicles.

The report caused Tesla shares to fall more than 2.7%.

The Model 3 is arguably Tesla’s most important vehicle. Tesla’s survival hinges on Model 3. It’s no longer just about being able to produce and deliver the vehicle cost effectively — although those are biggies. If more consumers turn to other electric vehicles, the sales momentum that helped Tesla have two consecutive quarters of profits could falter.

Owners appear to like, even love, the Model 3. It received top marks in CR’s recent owner satisfaction survey and also earned a positive road-test score. It’s a weird duality — and one the even CR acknowledges — that other aspirational, lifestyle and luxury vehicles share. Owners love the vehicles, despite persistent issues with the components inside them.

“While Teslas perform well in Consumer Reports’ road tests and have excellent owner satisfaction, their reliability has not been consistent, according to our members, which has resulted in changes to their recommended status,” Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, said in statement.

Tesla has asked Consumer Reports for more details about the issues customers reported. According to Tesla, CR said they had no more specific information to share.

“Not only are our cars the safest and best performing vehicles available today, but we take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues,” a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “That’s just one of the reasons why, in this very same survey from Consumer Reports, Model 3 was rated as the #1 most satisfying car, and why Tesla vehicles have topped Consumer Reports’ Owner Satisfaction survey every year since 2013 – the first year Tesla was included in it.”

The question of reliability has persisted for all of Tesla’s vehicles. CR doesn’t recommend the Model X or Model S either due to reliability issues. The Tesla Model X was included in CR’s top 10 least reliable vehicles list for 2019.

The CR survey revealed problems with the suspension, particularly in the 2017 Model S and hardware issues in the Model X. Owners in the survey cited numerous reliability problems with the Model 3.

Tesla noted that it has made “significant improvements” to correct any issues that Model 3 customers may have experienced that are referenced in this report. The automaker also cited that its return policy allows any customer who is unhappy with their car to return it for a full refund.

“This new data from Consumer Reports comes from their annual Owner Satisfaction survey, which runs from July through September, so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data,” the spokesperson said.

Tesla has the capability, which it uses often, to roll out software updates to fix bugs, improve performance, and treat customers to fun surprises. Paint and trim issues are a different matter, of course.

And despite this ability to fix and improve the vehicle over time, the CR reliability survey might be enough to turn potential customers away from Tesla and towards another electric vehicle brand.

It’s possible that Tesla’s fan base is strong enough to keep the sales momentum. Plenty of other brands and models, have a fervent following despite problems with the vehicle.

“In most cases, reliability issues will undermine satisfaction,” Fisher said. “But when a vehicle has an enthusiastic following, like with Tesla, owners may overlook some issues. We’ve seen this with other vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Corvette.”


Source: Tech Crunch

CBS All Access releases a spooky, star-studded trailer for Jordan Peele’s ‘Twilight Zone’

A new version of “The Twilight Zone,” hosted and executive produced by “Get Out” director Jordan Peele, is set to premiere on CBS All Access on April 1.

CBS aired a teaser during the Super Bowl, but it didn’t include any actual footage. So this is the first time we’re getting a real taste of what the show will be like.

This trailer is still pretty fast-paced, not going in-depth on any of the stories. Basically, it’s a montage of famous people — including Kumail Nanjiani, John Cho, Sanaa Lathan, Adam Scott, Allison Tolman and Steven Yeun — looking scared or alarmed, accompanied by that oh-so-recognizable theme music.

CBS All Access has had fewer big, splashy content announcements than some of the other new (or yet-to-launch) streaming services, but with “Twilight Zone” and an entire lineup of Star Trek spin-offs, it could become a real destination for science fiction fans.

Peele, meanwhile, has been pretty busy. He’s got a new movie (“Us”) set for release in March, and “Weird City,” a series he co-created, just launched on YouTube Premium.


Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook adds new background location privacy controls to its Android app

Facebook is updating its privacy settings on Android to make it easier for users to control what location data is sent to and stored by the company.

In its announcement, Facebook acknowledged that Android users have expressed concern over the app’s ability to continuously log location data in the background. Due to Android’s all-or-nothing system of location permissions relative to iOS, the Facebook app has historically had the green light for collecting location data whether a user is actively in the app or not.

While the company stopped short of admitting the practice, Facebook for Android users who previously had location services enabled can probably assume that Facebook was extensively tracking their location even when they weren’t actively using the app. Facebook describes the choice to toggle location history on as “[allowing] Facebook to build a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your devices.”

Android users who previously allowed Facebook access to their location data will retain those settings, though they’ll receive an alert about the new location controls. For users who kept the location settings for Facebook disabled, those permissions will remain toggled off. While these changes apply only to Android users, Facebook also noted that it would send out an alert to iOS users to remind them to reevaluate their location history settings.

If your location history isn’t something you’ve thought much about before, it’s worth spending a minute to consider how comfortable you are with that depth of personal data being transmitted continuously to a company with Facebook’s privacy track record. Remember: Once that information is out of your hands, you have little to no control over what happens with it.


Source: Tech Crunch

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has a built-in Instagram mode

After weeks of leaks, Samsung still managed to save some surprises for today’s event. One of the most interesting among them is a partnership with Instagram that brings Stories directly to the camera app.

It’s an interesting partnership and mutually beneficial for both parties. For some, it could signal a kind of return to pre-loaded bloatware, but at least in the case of Instagram, the app is virtually ubiquitous for most users at this point anyway.

The mode got a brief demo on stage today — it’s pretty much what you’d expect out of the thing, bringing filters directly to the camera software and letting you upload straight to service without leaving Samsung’s default camera software.

Smartphone makers have had increasing difficult distinguishing their camera offerings in recent years. The last several generations of products like the Galaxy line, iPhone and Pixel have increasingly relied on AI/ML/software updates to set themselves apart, so these kinds of partnerships could certainly play a role in that going forward.


Source: Tech Crunch

Here’s how all of Samsung’s new Galaxy S10’s compare

Samsung just announced not one, not two, but four new additions to its flagship Galaxy line: the S10e, S10, S10+, and S10 5G. Want a quick at-a-glance breakdown of how they all compare? We’ve got you covered.

Brian’s got a deeper look at the different S10 models here — but if you’d rather see the key specs side-by-side, here’s a handy chart:

Most of it is self explanatory, barring perhaps “PowerShare” — a new feature Samsung added across the S10 lineup. Whereas wireless charging lets you charge any of the phones on a compatible charging pad, PowerShare lets you use the phone as a wireless charging pad for other devices — be it another phone or, say, Samsung’s just announced Galaxy Bud headphones.

You can find all of our coverage from Samsung’s Unpacked event here.


Source: Tech Crunch

Lyft launches surge-free, shared rides

Somewhat similar to Uber’s Express Pool option, Lyft just launched Shared Saver to help people spend less money for shared rides. But what makes Lyft’s option more attractive is that riders will never experience surge pricing.

“You’ll lock in the lowest prices, always — even when it’s busy,” Lyft wrote in a blog post today.

Shared Saver rides require customers to walk to a designated pickup location, which will be a maximum of a few blocks away, to meet your driver and co-riders. Same goes for your dropoff location.

Lyft’s long-term plan entails encouraging more people to take shared rides. Last June, Lyft updated its app to make shared rides much more visible. As of June 2018, 35 percent of Lyft rides were shared. Lyft’s goal is to hit 50 percent shared rides by 2020, Lyft VP of Government Relations Joseph Okpaku told TechCrunch at the time.


Source: Tech Crunch

These are Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds

After a seemingly endless stream of leaks over the past few weeks, there was essentially zero doubt that Samsung was announcing — amongst a bunch of other things — a new pair of wireless earbuds called the “Galaxy Buds” today.

Here they are.

Samsung says the Galaxy Buds should be able to pull around 5 hours of talk time, or 6 hours of music listening time. As with most of the other headliner devices Samsung has launched in recent years, sound tuning is handled by AKG (the acoustics brand Samsung bought alongside Harman in 2017.)

The feature they’ll probably market the hardest, though, is the companion charging case. It plays friendly with the new PowerShare feature built into the just-announced Galaxy S10 line, allowing you to charge the case wirelessly by sitting it on the rear side of the phone. It looks like this:

Samsung says that case should hold around 7 additional hours of charge time, and can give the Buds about 1.5 hours worth of juice in roughly 15 minutes.

Samsung says the Galaxy Buds should cost $129.99, and should ship starting March 8th.

Story developing…


Source: Tech Crunch