Take a peek at the future of media and entertainment at Disrupt SF

Where does tech end and media begin? It can be hard to find the dividing line, particularly as tech companies move into the media business, and as big Hollywood blockbusters are increasingly created on computers.

So even though TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF event (happening next week!!) is ostensibly a tech conference, we’ll have plenty of big names from the worlds of media and entertainment onstage to discuss the changing landscape.

On day one, those names include Joseph Gordon Levitt, who you may know as an actor in films like “Inception” and “500 Days of Summer,” but who also founded the creative collaboration platform HitRecord, which raised a $6.4 million Series A earlier this year.

We’ll also be joined by actor Will Smith and director Ang Lee to discuss their new movie “Gemini Man,” in which Lee utilized cutting-edge computer effects to create a younger version of his star.

From the tech industry, we’ll have Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube, who can discuss the video platform’s ongoing challenges, and how YouTube can balance its commitment to openness with growing pressure to battle hate speech and misinformation.

And while 5G will probably the main focus of our interview with Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan, we here at TechCrunch (which is owned by Verizon Media) are certainly interested in hearing about the company’s digital media plans.

Meanwhile, if you’re more interested in the nitty gritty of developing a media strategy, we’ll have a panel on that very subject on our Extra Crunch stage, with speakers including MakeLoveNotPorn’s Cindy Gallop and Brooke Hammerling of Brew PR.

Then on day two, we’ll turn our attention to one of the fastest-growing media categories, esports. 100 Thieves is a big player in this space — combining streaming content, competitive esports and apparel — and we’ll talk to the company’s founder Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag (a pro gamer himself), along with co-owner Scooter Braun (who also manages Justin Bieber and Arianna Grande).

Our Extra Crunch programming on that day will also include a session that’s all about future of digital media, which will be sponsored by publisher engagement company Spot.im.

Finally, on day three, we’ll be joined by YouTube star and “Queen of Shitty Robots” Simone Giertz. While the conversation will likely focus on her latest robotic and hardware creations (including her crowdfunded Every Day Calendar), Giertz is a remarkable case study in how someone can build an enormous following and business on digital media platforms.

We’ll also have an Extra Crunch session about brand-building — Brooke Hammerling will be sharing more of her knowledge, and she’ll be joined by Bumble VP of Marketing Chelsea Cain Maclin and Character co-founder/creative director Ben Pham.

Disrupt SF will take place from October 2 to 4 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Browse the full agenda and buy your tickets.

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Source: Tech Crunch

How to become a VC, Amazon’s voice play, Peloton stock, Facebook’s new VR environment and more

EC Editorial Announcements

TechCrunch Disrupt SF is this week: join us on the Extra Crunch stage

TechCrunch’s biggest event of the year is happening this coming week at the brand-new Moscone North convention center in SF. We have wall-to-wall programming on our inaugural Extra Crunch stage, where audience members can ask questions to our panelists on topics as diverse as growth marketing, recruiting, fundraising, legal quandaries, and more.

If you want to join but haven’t bought your ticket, remember that all Extra Crunch annual subscribers get 20% off our tickets by emailing extracrunch@techcrunch.com. And if you can’t join, we will have synopses of some of the EC panels coming out in the following weeks.

Transfer your Extra Crunch Brex Reward points to JetBlue

A while back, we added an Extra Crunch member benefit where all EC members can receive 100,000 Brex Rewards points if they sign up for a new Brex account. Now, those points can also be transferred to JetBlue, perhaps for those fancy Mint seats between New York and SF. We are going to continue to add new member benefits, so do let us know if you have any interesting ideas or want to partner with us.

Follow our new @extracrunch Twitter handle

Finally, we now have a new Twitter handle for Extra Crunch: @extracrunch. We will be retweeting all EC articles on the handle, and later on, will be exploring other ways to engage with members through Twitter. Follow us!

Inside the venture capital recruiting process

Top venture capital partner recruiter (among other verticals) Dan Miller of True Search describes what it takes to become an investor these days at a VC firm:

If you are interviewing for operating roles in companies in parallel to interviewing with VC firms, you will get multiple offers (probably quite good ones) in the former category before you’ve made it far in the latter. It is exceedingly common in the VC Partner searches I run to find out that an excellent candidate has multiple strong offers in Product roles from big tech companies and hot startups, for example, before they’ve made it halfway through a VC interview process.

This Week in Apps: AltStore, acquisitions and Google Play Pass

TechCrunch’s apps maven Sarah Perez is starting a new, occasional series on the most important developments in the app world along with her analysis of what’s taking place. This week, she explores AltStore, a new type of app store, iOS 13 adoption trends, an App Annie acquisition, and five or so other stories:

Source: Tech Crunch

Watch live as Elon Musk delivers an update on SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft

SpaceX is all set to deliver an update on the status of its Starship program, courtesy of CEO Elon Musk. Musk will provide new info about “the design and development of Starship” at 7 PM CDT (8 PM EDT/5 PM PDT) tonight, live from the company’s Boca Chica rocket assembly facility in South Texas.

The likely backdrop for the update will be the Starship Mk1 orbital prototype, the second flight-testing vehicle SpaceX has produced in its development of Starship. The first, Starhopper, accomplished its mission of testing two low-altitude, limited duration flights – a key step that sets the stage for longer, high-altitude sub-orbital testing by this Mk1 prototype. The Mk1 will use three Raptor engines initially (and up to six eventually) while the snub-nosed Starhopper used only one.

So far, we know based on past SpaceX presentations that the company is aiming to use Starship and its forthcoming Super Heavy launcher to deliver fully reusable space transportation, capable of bringing cargo and crew to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Starting at 7 PM CDT, we’ll find out what’s next for the company on the path toward that long-term goal.

Source: Tech Crunch

Gallery: SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 spacecraft prototype in pictures

SpaceX is set to show off its Starship Mk1, an orbital-scale prototype of the spacecraft it eventually plans to use to attain its goal of fully reusable commercial spaceflight. Starship is the key ingredient not only to fully reusable launch and cargo vehicles for serving commercial clients; it’s also the next most important step in SpaceX and Elon Musk’s audacious plan to get humans to Mars and sow the seeds that will help us become an interplanetary species.

Starship Mk1 is the evolution of the first flight vehicle that SpaceX used to test technologies for Starship – the Starhopper, a stub-top cylinder that basically just provided a way to test one of the Raptor engines in two, low-altitude ‘hop’ flights. The Starhopper’s mission may be over, but it’s still in Boca Chica, Texas, sitting out just behind the Starship Mk1 and just a mile or less from the end of the road and the Gulf.

Starship Mk1 is a towering structure in person, and its gleaming, high-polish shell can be blinding in the South Texas sun when there’s no cloud cover. The final effect is like a 1950s science-fiction pulp novel cover made real, with a scale that’s hard to understand even standing directly in front of the thing and seeing workers busy putting the final touches on the rocket’s exterior ahead of SpaceX’s update event tonight.

When I arrived on the ground in Brownsville, I made the short drive out to SpaceX’s assembly site for the Mk1 in the small community of Boca Chica. It was well after sunset, but the roughly 180-foot tall structure was lit up by a number of floodlights, as crews continued to work on interior welds and other parts of the final assembly. Notably, about half the structure had its shiny, glossy outer finish, while the rest remained rougher looking – something which would change by morning.

Tall construction cranes lifted workers to the parts of the spacecraft they were working on, including a few ports dotting the surface which are large enough for a person to crawl through, even though they appear small relative to the rocket’s overall size. The top nose cone of the Starship Mk1 was still attached to a crane at this point, too, before that supporting structure was removed sometime before morning.

Returning the next day, the Starship was more easily visible from afar – I spotted it about 10 miles out. The shining stainless steel structure was much shinier than the night before, looking more like a complete and finished spacecraft. The bottom wings near the base were connected to the body with cladding that increases aerodynamics – while the top fins were attached at only a couple of points. Both sets of fins will move rapidly during entry and landing in order to control stability of the spacecraft, which is a key ingredient in its ability to reflow multiple times.

Workers were still busy in the morning putting the final touches on the rocket, including working on placing the top cap on to the very tip of the nose cone. The domed tip was actually rounded, not pointy, which is probably better for helping bleed off drag when the rocket is making its way back to Earth.

The final structure is indeed incredibly impressive. The scale, as mentioned, is hard to grasp, which is why I tried to capture as many shots as possible with people in frame to give a sense of Starship’s overall size. Remember, too, that this is just the top portion of what will eventually be SpaceX’s Starship launch system, which will include the Super Heavy booster to deliver extra thrust for carrying large cargo to orbit. The base of the Starship Mk1 alone is roughly 30 feet in diameter, which is about half the size of the largest semi-trailer transport trucks on the road.

SpaceX’s event today isn’t just about revealing this rocket – Starship Mk1 is actually really easy to access via public road, and you can get surprisingly close. But it’ll probably get another round of spit and polish prior to tonight’s update from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk . And we’ll hear lots more about next steps for the Starship program, including timelines for its first suborbital tests (which will involve flying to above airline cruising speed) and which could start quite soon. Plus, we might hear more about Musk’s more ambitious goals for Starship, including super-fast upper atmosphere passenger flights, and its first forays to planets beyond our own.

We’ll have updates live as they happen here on TechCrunch, and the event should start at around 7 PM CDT (8 PM EDT/5 PM PDT).

Source: Tech Crunch

Original Content podcast: ‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ is fun but forgettable

“Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is based on the comically confrontational web interview series starring Zach Galifianakis. In fact, some of us assumed that the film might be nothing more than one interview after another.

The movie does indeed have plenty of celebrity interviews, but they’re connected by a loose narrative thread in which Galifianakis and his crew have been dispatched by their corporate overlord Will Ferrell to crisscross the country, trying to film 10 interviews in two weeks.

If that sounds like a pretty thin story for a feature-length film, you’re not wrong — as we discuss in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast. Galifianakis and the actors playing his crew make some inspired jokes, but they can’t entirely dodge the sense that they’re filling time between interviews.

As for the interviews themselves, it’s still a delight to see Galifianakis toss off one belittling question after another. However, it can get a little one-note when the interviewees are rarely asked to do anything more than sputter angrily — which may be why some of the interviews have been cut down to just one or two questions.

To be clear, we all enjoyed watching “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” but the real highlight turned out to be the interview outtakes that play over the end credits, and the extended interviews that have been posted on YouTube.

In addition to reviewing the film, we also discuss the Emmy Awards, covering the winners we liked (“When They See Us”) and the ones we didn’t (“Bandersnatch”).

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:31 “Terrace House” listener response
2:42 Emmy Awards discussion
16:55 “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” review (extremely mild spoilers)

Source: Tech Crunch

Not all is predictable on Facebook’s social Horizon

Most of the people I spoke with at Facebook’s Oculus Connect see the proliferation of virtual reality as a foregone conclusion, one that’s just a matter of timing at this point. For Facebook, the conference’s “The Time is Now” catchphrase showcased that they feel their hardware is ready for everyone.

But despite the success, they feel like they’ve tapped into when it comes to hardware iterations, the company’s bread and butter social networking prowess feels like it’s barely improved in-headset in the past several years of VR experimentations.

“On the social side, looking back, it’s kind of embarrassing all of the stages we’ve gone through at Oculus,” Oculus CTO and veteran programmer John Carmack conceded onstage during his signature rambling annual keynote, noting that his own social APK was followed by Oculus Rooms, Oculus Venues, Facebook Spaces and now the company’s latest shiny pearl Facebook Horizon.

Horizon’s debut this year included a flashy trailer for what quickly seemed to be the company’s biggest gamble and first potential social hit, a massive multi-player online world. In introducing the software, Zuckerberg talked about people-centric software as Facebook’s “bread-and-butter,” noting, “We build a lot of the best social experiences for phones and computers, and we want to do this for virtual reality as well.”

But Facebook does not actually appear to hold that much of an advantage over much smaller game studios in terms of understanding how to make social virtual reality experience take off.

Source: Tech Crunch

Logitech acquires popular game streaming tool Streamlabs for around $89M


If you’re into livestreaming video games, you’ve probably heard of Streamlabs. They make a popular, free software tool for overlaying content on top of whatever game you’re playing, allowing streamers to pop everything from sponsorship logos to donation alerts on top of their video.

Logitech has acquired the company for roughly $89M, plus $29M in bonus payments if the team can hit “significant revenue growth targets”.

Streamlabs says that they have about 1.6M streamers using their tool each month, with 161 million hours streamed through it since it launched in beta in January of 2018. They also have a mobile streaming app, which the company says has around 480k users.

The acquisition makes a good amount of sense. Logitech has been pushing into the space for some time now, with purpose built hardware for gamers and streamers (like, say, webcams that auto-remove everything behind you for a greenscreen-style overlay effect.) Now they’ve got the software to push people to after their hardware is all setup, and it’s already a proven solution.

In a post announcing the acquisition, Streamlabs founder Ali Moiz says that their tools will remain free, and they’ll continue to support any platform they already support today (so Windows, Android, and iOS.)

Source: Tech Crunch

Daily Crunch: Facebook hides Like counts

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. Facebook tries hiding Like counts to fight envy

It looks like Facebook wants to end the terrible game of chasing Likes, and then the equally terrible feeling of failing.

The experiment starts today in Australia. A post’s author can still see the count, but everyone else will only be able to see who Liked a post, not how many Likes total it received.

2. DoorDash confirms data breach affected 4.9 million customers, workers and merchants

The breach happened on May 4, the company said, but added that customers who joined after April 5, 2018 are not affected. It’s not clear why it took almost five months for DoorDash to detect the breach.

3. My Galaxy Fold display is damaged after a day

Samsung’s new rebooted Galaxy arrives this week with one job: it just needs to not break. And yet …

4. 25+ launches from Uber’s big event

The company unveiled a slew of changes across all its products, designed to promote Eats and micromobility, make life easier for drivers, keep riders safe and make transportation more accessible. The big highlight? Two new visions for the future of Uber’s home screen.

5. ‘We are seeing volume and interest in Peloton explode,’ says company president on listing day

Despite dropping more than 10% in its first day of trading, the IPO was a bona fide success. Peloton, once denied (over and over again) by VC skeptics, now has hundreds of millions of dollars to take its business into a new era. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Director Ang Lee explains why he built a digital Will Smith in ‘Gemini Man’

Lee made things even harder for himself by shooting the movie in 3D, at 120 frames per second. In that format, everything looks more clear and detailed than in traditional film, so an unconvincing effect would be even more obvious.

7. Tesla V10.0 car software update adds Smart Summon, Netflix/YouTube, Spotify, karaoke and more

The new “Smart Summon” feature will allow cars equipped with the optional full self-driving package to automatically drive themselves from a parking spot and collect you in a parking lot.

Source: Tech Crunch

Get your immigration questions answered by expert lawyer Sophie Alcorn at Disrupt SF

If you’re a founder facing a tough immigration question, we have a special workshop session for you next week at Disrupt SF. One of our resident legal experts, Sophie Alcorn, is going to be hosting a special workshop where you can ask any immigration question you may have.
She’s the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law, which has burgeoned into a boutique immigration firm for Silicon Valley startup people — as the already-tricky US immigration laws have gotten more difficult to get through in recent years. She’s also one of the most-recommended people in our Verified Experts program, with dozens of founders giving a recommendation to us for her.
Here are some of the main topics she’s planning to cover. Email ec_editors@techcrunch.com so she can take a look at your questions beforehand.
  1. How scaling tech companies can leverage immigration options to secure key talent
  2. How startup founders can take immigration into their own hands to get visas and green cards
  3. Topics include: H-1B, O-1A, E-2, L-1A, EB-1A, EB-2 NIW, visa, work permit, green card, permanent residence, citizenship, spouses and children
  4. What VCs should look for in founders to ensure that they can legally build companies in the US and won’t be subject to deportation

If you’re interested in participating in this or any of our other workshops, make sure you pick up a pass to Disrupt SF right here.

Note: The workshop is open to all attendees and is on the record. Please let us know in your submission if you are concerned that your question is potentially too sensitive.

Source: Tech Crunch

Google will soon open a cloud region in Poland

Google today announced its plans to open a new cloud region in Warsaw, Poland to better serve its customers in Central and Eastern Europe.

This move is part of Google’s overall investment in expanding the physical footprint of its data centers. Only a few days ago, after all, the company announced that, in the next two years, it would spend $3.3 billion on its data center presence in Europe alone.

Google Cloud currently operates 20 different regions with 61 availability zones. Warsaw, like most of Google’s regions, will feature three availability zones and launch with all the standard core Google Cloud services, including Compute Engine, App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner and BigQuery.

To launch the new region in Poland, Google is partnering with Domestic Cloud Provider (a.k.a. Chmury Krajowej, which itself is a joint venture of the Polish Development Fund and PKO Bank Polski). Domestic Cloud Provider (DCP) will become a Google Cloud reseller in the country and build managed services on top of Google’s infrastructure.

“Poland is in a period of rapid growth, is accelerating its digital transformation, and has become an international software engineering hub,” writes Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. “The strategic partnership with DCP and the new Google Cloud region in Warsaw align with our commitment to boost Poland’s digital economy and will make it easier for Polish companies to build highly available, meaningful applications for their customers.”

Source: Tech Crunch