Attend Disrupt SF 2019 for free as a volunteer

Forget the village, people. It takes an army to make TechCrunch Disrupt the well-oiled experience that savvy start-uppers have come to know and love. And we couldn’t do it nearly as well without our incredible volunteers. If you’re looking for a no-budget way to experience Disrupt San Francisco 2019 up-close-and-personal, sign up to volunteer for work exchange, and not only will you get a behind the scenes look at how events are produced, you’ll also earn a free Innovator pass to experience the event.

You’ll work hard, play hard and get free access to all three days of Disrupt SF. Whether you dream of becoming a startup founder, marketer or event coordinator, this is a great way to see what it takes to produce a world-renowned startup conference. Plus, your free Innovator pass gives you access to the full Disrupt experience and all four stages — including the Startup Battlefield competition.

We expect more than 10,000 people at Disrupt SF 2019, and volunteers will handle a variety of tasks to help make this startup conference an epic experience for everyone. At any given time, you might help with registration, wrangle speakers, direct attendees, stuff goodie bags, place signage, scan tickets or help with pre-marketing activities.

We need volunteers on October 1-4. If you can meet the following criteria, we want to hear from you:

  • Attend a mandatory orientation on Tuesday, October 1 at Moscone Center.
  • Work a minimum of 16 hours during the entire conference starting from October 1 (the day before the conference starts) to October 4. You’ll find volunteer shift availability in the application. We might select you for some pre-event opportunities, which would count toward your hours.
  • We will assign volunteer schedules. Shifts run between 2.5 to 6 hours and can start as early as 6 a.m. or end as late as 11:30 p.m.
  • You must provide your own housing and transportation.
  • Due to the high volume of applications, we will notify only the selected applicants.

Lend us a helping hand, and we’ll hand you a free Innovator pass. Save money, gain valuable experience and still have plenty of time to take in all the startup goodness Disrupt SF 2019 has to offer. Apply to volunteer before September 20 to get your free Innovator pass, and we’ll see you in October!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt SF 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: Tech Crunch

This free, ugly font is made from hideously gerrymandered districts

There are a lot of ugly fonts out there, but outside Papyrus, few illustrate a deeper sickness in our society. A new typeface called Ugly Gerry does just that: Its letters are formed from the shapes of grotesquely gerrymandered U.S. districts.

There’s no doubt gerrymandering is one of the scourges of our political “system”: nothing more than a way for incumbents to stack the odds in their favor, further disenfranchising and redlining disfavored populations and districts.

And while districts may take many shapes due to the natural features of the cities and regions they occupy or contain, in many contentious ones the hand of the man is more than evident, producing contortions weird and various.

The bright side is that this variety is so great that among it can be found shapes resembling (slightly) all the capital letters of the English alphabet. So that’s just what rogue creatives Ben Doessel and James Lee did.

Screen Shot 2019 08 01 at 11.52.55 AM

“After seeing how janky our Illinois 4th district had become, we became interested in this issue,” the team wrote in a little press release they provided. “We noticed our district’s vague, but shaky U-shape, then after seeing other letters on the map, the idea hit us, let’s create a typeface so our districts can become digital graffiti that voters and politicians can’t ignore.”

The resulting type is ugly, but so, they point out, is gerrymandering. They also had to cheat a few by sticking two districts together, but that too seems in the spirit of the thing.

You can download the font for free at

While I suspect that Doessel and Lee have underestimated politicians’ ability to ignore things, it’s good to draw attention to this un-democratic practice, and you’re encouraged (as with most things) to tweet. Of course the very best thing you can do is call your representatives and officials and register your protest against gerrymandering in general, and to vote if possible to limit or outlaw it.

Today, tweeting about a novelty font… tomorrow, action! That’s the idea, anyway.

Source: Tech Crunch

After the Capital One breach, do you know who’s in your cloud?

The recently reported Capital One data breach has once again turned the technology world’s attention to cloud security. A lot of speculation is all that the industry can surmise about exactly what happened and how the events came to pass. The indictment is vague and the companies are in PR crisis mode.

Let’s not waste this time on conjecture. It’s important to focus on the uncomfortable yet completely valid cloud security concerns while everyone is listening.

The elephant in the room in cloud platform security is the inherently problematic issue of customers not knowing which cloud provider employees are entrusted with administrative-level access to the clouds themselves. Cloud Customer X does not know the names of employees at Cloud Provider Y who, upon succumbing to moral failing, could theoretically abuse privileged knowledge, credentials, or internal cloud provider tools in order to inappropriately access, copy, or otherwise interact with Cloud Customer X’s provisioned systems or stored data.

To be clear, there’s no suggestion that the Capital One breach is the result of insider access or privileged knowledge abuse. While the alleged perpetrator’s prior work history includes employment at Amazon Web Services — the cloud provider which data was downloaded from — the amount of cloud service know-how necessary to pull off the alleged wrongful acts can certainly be gained by anyone with an internet connection and enough curiosity.

Instead, we need to talk about cloud platform security in a broader sense. We need to make sure when executives sign on the dotted line and agree to put mountains of their own customer data under someone else’s control that they understand the stark trade-off realities, rather than the myths, of cloud platform security.

Simply put, moving operations into the cloudspace means you are putting yourself at the mercy of the cloud host. Ultimately, the cloud provider can take their ball and go home, leaving your business stranded. Doing so might be in violation of some words that an attorney typed up and both sides agreed to. But those words cannot physically stop a cloud provider’s rogue subcontractor from abusing trusted access — of which the cloud customer would most likely never know.

There are no easy fixes for such a scenario. But it would be foolish to wait for egregious examples of cloud platform insider abuse to be known publicly prior to sparking the very important conversation, even if the topic is uncomfortable for cloud providers to acknowledge and unsettling for cloud users to realize.

Source: Tech Crunch

It’s fight night in Las Vegas: Elon Musk’s Loop vs the Monorail

The latest bout in Las Vegas is not taking place in a raucous casino boxing ring, but in the hushed rooms of planning committees. The reigning champion, the Las Vegas Monorail, is facing upstart challenger The Boring Company, in a fight to decide the future of Sin City’s urban transportation.

In May, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved a $48.7 million contract for The Boring Company (TBC) to design and build a short underground transit system at the city’s Convention Center, using Tesla electric vehicles running through narrow tunnels. 

The ambitious contract calls for the system, called the LVCC Loop, to be up and running in time for the city’s biggest trade show, CES, in January 2021. Over the next 18 months, TBC has to construct one pedestrian tunnel, two 0.8-mile vehicle tunnels and three underground stations, as well as modify and test seven-seater Tesla cars to carry up to 16 people. 

TBC has already submitted detailed construction plans to the city for review, which TechCrunch has obtained, and recently raised $120 million in funding. The company hopes to start construction later this summer. 

But TBC’s tight deadlines — and the payments it receives by meeting them — could be jeopardized by the Monorail’s concerns that the new tunnels could undermine its own system. To connect two parts of the Convention Center, the Loop will have to burrow directly beneath the Monorail’s elevated tracks.

Fear of Monorail damage

“The proposed underground people mover system intersects our existing system route, and it appears the presented tunnel alignment interferes with our existing columns for the Las Vegas Monorail system and creates significant concern regarding both vertical and lateral loads,” Monorail CEO Curtis Myles wrote in a letter to Clark County planning officials in June.

Chris Kaempfer, a lawyer representing the Monorail, clarified the company’s position at a meeting of the Winchester Town Advisory Board the same day.

“When you have columns that would be this close, you’re not just concerned about contact with the columns, you’re also concerned about vibration,” Kaempfer said. “The record has to be absolutely clear, if there’s any damage at all to the columns, it will shut the Monorail down.”

Kaempfer lobbied the advisory board to increase oversight of the TBC project, and require the company to work with the Monorail and city officials during construction to prevent damage to the train system’s columns.

“It’s extremely important to the Monorail that everyone acknowledge that this potential exists and that it needs to be appropriately addressed,” Kaempfer said.

TBC pushed back against any new restrictions, telling the board that it was already committed to protecting existing infrastructure along the Loop’s route.

“[Tunneling] noise and vibration are imperceptible at the surface. We design our process to be deep enough underground such that a person walking [at ground level] creates more vibration than our tunnel-boring machine underground,” said Jane Labanowski, TBC’s government relations executive.

At the final bell, the Winchester Town Board awarded this round to the Monorail, conditioning the Loop design’s approval on regular coordination between TBC, the Monorail and the city’s Public Works department. “That way we all have a point of reference to go back to, just in case somebody forgets or doesn’t check in with other people,” said the chairperson. “All of a sudden, someone gets to be a bad actor who doesn’t mean to be.”

TBC did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

While the Monorail and Elon Musk’s Loop don’t yet compete directly, TBC’s ultimate ambition is to expand the LVCC Loop from a campus people mover to a Vegas-wide transit system serving the airport, the Strip and beyond. 

The Monorail itself started as a short, one-mile system shuttling tourists between the MGM Grand and Bally’s Hotel, using monorail cars bought from Disney World in Florida. It now extends nearly four miles and carries up to 67,000 passengers a day during its busiest times.

GettyImages 638158464

The Las Vegas Monorail crosses over the Las Vegas Convention Center as viewed on January 4, 2017 in Las Vegas.

TBC has promised that the Loop will be able to handle up to 4,400 passengers an hour — equivalent to more than 100,000 a day — as soon as it becomes operational. Its website states that the total journey time between the farthest LVCC stations will be around one minute. This means that the Loop will need at least six 16-person vehicles operating simultaneously to hit its goal. However, a one-minute journey might not be realistic at busy times. New York and Boston subway trains regularly stop for more than 30 seconds at popular stations.

Human drivers will pilot Loop Teslas

At the Winchester meeting, Labanowski also revealed further details about the Loop’s vehicles and operations. Although TBC’s website states that the system would use autonomous vehicles, presumably using Tesla’s Autopilot technology, Labanowski said the LVCC Loop vehicles would actually also have human drivers “for additional safety.”

Loop plans submitted by TBC to Las Vegas show a modest glass structure at surface level, with elevators, escalators and stairs leading down to a mezzanine level with gates, and then down again to three platforms. With no room at the platform level for vehicles to turn around, it appears TBC’s people movers will operate in both forward and reverse.

And although TBC hopes its Loop system will eventually span the city, a TBC contractor at the Winchester meeting said that public access could be limited for now. “We will monitor how it’s open to the public based on our commitment to our trade show customers on any given day,” said Terry Miller of the Cordell Corporation, which has been awarded a $1 million contract to oversee the project. “During CES it will be a little more difficult to have the public coming in and out than it would be for a [smaller] trade show.”

The next challenge for TBC is getting all the necessary permits to excavate a shaft to deploy its tunnel-boring machine underground. Its schedule calls for construction to begin in September.

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Source: Tech Crunch

Ninja is leaving Twitch for Microsoft’s Mixer

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the biggest streamer ever, has today announced his intention to leave the Twitch platform in favor of Microsoft’s Mixer.

Twitch is far and away the biggest video game streaming platform on the internet, claiming 72 percent of all hours watched according to StreamElements. Mixer, by comparison, owns 3 percent, which is approximately 112 million viewership hours this most recent quarter.

Mixer is owned by Microsoft following an acquisition in 2016, back when Mixer was called Beam. Interestingly enough, Beam won the Disrupt NY Battlefield competition in 2016.

Twitch offered this statement to the Verge:

We’ve loved watching Ninja on Twitch over the years and are proud of all that he’s accomplished for himself and his family, and the gaming community. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Surprisingly quickly, Twitch took away Ninja’s ‘Partnered’ check mark, the Twitch equivalent of a verified blue tick.

Ninja announced the news via video:

The announcement is very light on reasons why Ninja might have moved from his longtime home at Twitch over to Microsoft. It’s possible (and likely?) that Mixer offered the streaming star an enormous amount of money to make the move, which could signal the beginning of a new wave of payouts for mega streaming stars — not unlike the current NBA free agency bonanza, which has seen the migration of superstars to marquee franchises in order to form basketball equivalents of supergroups.

It’s also worth wondering who reigns supreme in this equation: players or platforms? Luckily, we’ll find out quickly as the video game streaming space sees its biggest talent shakeup since the industry’s inception.

Source: Tech Crunch