Samsung’s Lite devices bring the headphone jack to flagship design (sort of)

Some devices need no explanation. The Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite are no such devices. They’re more nebulous, walking an interesting line, between premium and mid-range. They’re a clear attempt by Samsung to change with a smartphone-buying public that has balked at the idea of $1,000+ devices.

On that front, they make plenty of sense. Things are, however, not so cut and dry. This is probably no better exemplified by the headphone jack situation. One (the Note 10) has one. One (the S10) doesn’t. It’s a bit of a one foot in, one foot out approach to the technology that Samsung, admittedly, has always been more cautious about abandoning than most.

The pragmatic reason for the decision, I think, is that the Note 10 Lite is the thicker of the two devices. Both feel like solid, flagship devices. The build quality is terrific on both. The Note, however, is noticeably chunkier, owing to the inclusion of the S Pen and a different screen technology. So Samsung saw an opportunity to have it both ways, plopping a headphone jack on the bottom.

The timing is interesting, as well. The company snuck out an announcement just ahead of CES. That both firmly missed the holiday season, while arriving about a month and a half ahead of its latest big phone reveal (the invitations for Unpacked went out the following day). There was also no pricing — and there still isn’t here in the States. That leaves open the question of where they slot in.

Are we talking slightly below the flagship tier? Or is this Samsung’s new vision for mid-tier? European pricing gives us a hint. At €599, that’s pretty significantly below the lowest-tier version of its flagship counterparts. It’s also a pretty decent direction below the Galaxy S10e. It will be interesting to see if that model sticks around for the S11.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Source: Tech Crunch

A closer look at Ballie, Samsung’s friendly robotic ball

Okay, I’ve slept on it. I was skeptical at first, but after a good night’s sleep, let’s do this. I want a Ballie. All of the people and the pets in the below video seemed super into it. Where do I sign up?

Okay, let me back up a second. I’d like a little hands-on time with the robotic ball first. Or at the very least a more in-depth demo. But once we’ve gotten those out of the way, yeah, totally. Let’s do this. I want my own BB8. I’ve just seen enough of these home robots come and go to be super skeptical about the plausibility of such a product both coming to market and functioning as advertised.

Even the latest version of Aibo, which is extremely impressive as far as home robotics go, still feels like a lot of unfulfilled potential at a prohibitively steep price. That’s in spite of tremendous resources, multiple generations and years of iteration. It’s been an incredibly tough nut to crack, and the road to success (whatever that will ultimately mean) is paved with the bodies of adorable robotic companions that died long before the their time.

It’s not so much a lack of interest. Who watches a video like that and doesn’t think Ballie would be a fun addition? I would, however, argue that such products deliver unrealistic expectations about what such a product would ultimately look like and how it would ultimately function in a home setting.

Baby steps. Bringing that long-promised Bixby smart speaker to market early this year is a good place to start. Next step is a designating a handful of functionalities best served by a roaming robotic ball (security, reminders, package delivery alerts) and building those in. Then deliver a device that can function consistently at a realistic price point. I’m here for it, Ballie.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Source: Tech Crunch

Mophie’s newest battery pack ships with jumper cables to start your car

As of this week’s CES, Mophie can add cars to the growing list of things powered with its battery line. It was a matter of time, I suppose. Certainly the company’s not the first to offer this level of charge in a portable power bank, but the new Powerstation Go brings an extra level of juice to its offerings.

The new brick is also unique in the Mophie line in its inclusion of mini jumper cables, which harness the weighty 44,400mWh of charge to jump start a car or SUV. Sounds like a pretty handy thing to toss in the back of car, in case of emergency. And, honestly, the $160 price tag isn’t crazy, given Mophie’s usual premium over lesser known battery companies.

But its position as a consumer electronics brand means the product is also focused on smartphones and the like. There’s a Qi charging pad up top for convenience. Obviously that’s not going to charge up your devices as quickly as wired methods, so there are two USB-A ports and an AC outlet so you can plug directly in.

Strangely, there are no USB-C ports on board. That certainly seems like an odd omission in 2020 — especially on a device that very much has a kitchen sink approach to charging everything from phones to SUVs.

The bank is available online this week.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Source: Tech Crunch

TCL teases a 5G device, headset and its first foldable at CES

TCL is hardly a household name in the smartphone space. That’s hardly surprising, however, as the Chinese electronics company is better known for sub-brands like Alcatel and BlackBerry (hardware, not software — long story). Late last year, the company began really pushing its branded devices in Europe, a strategy it’s set to expand upon with some more cutting edge devices.

The company’s been teasing the launch of both a 5G and foldable handsets since last year, and is finally offering a little more info — on the former, at least. The TCL 10 5G will be its first 5G handset, following the release of an Alcatel branded router last year. The device is set for a Q2 launch in the U.S. and Canada.

It’s one of three TCL 10 devices set for launch, with pricing on the line starting at under $500. It’s clearly that budget will continue to be a primary selling point for the line, though one assumes the 5G model will carrier a not insignificant premium on top of that. The device will be powered by Qualcomm’s 5G SoC line. The chipmaker introduced the 765 late last year, with the intent of offering a more affordable entry-point for the next gen wireless technology..

And then there’s the matter of the foldable. At press time, we don’t have much information about the device, first alluded to at last year’s Mobile World Congress. What we do have, however, are a lot more renders. The fact that it’s still listed as “Foldable Smartphone Concept” doesn’t give one a lot of confidence that it’s ready for primetime.

The images do, however, point to a form factor similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Gold, along with what appears to be a quartet of rear-facing cameras. More information, one assumes, at Mobile World Congress late next month So, something to look to in Barcelona, I guess.

And who can forgot Project Archery? Just kidding. Forgetting it would required that you’ve heard about it in the first place. I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably you have not. The device was announced — or, rather, alluded to at last year’s IFA. It’s a wearable display with a “cinematic viewing experience.” We’ve seen those come and go over the years. TCL’s shown off the 2.0 version of the product, but offered up no additional information.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Source: Tech Crunch

As NIO and Tesla rally, Chinese EV company Lixiang said to file for US IPO

The recovery in value of several high-profile electric car companies could help move yet-private EV manufacturers out of the pit lane and onto the IPO track.

On the heels of NIO’s shocking value appreciation after its recent earnings report, and Tesla’s own public market run, China-based Lixiang Automotive is reported to have filed privately for an IPO in the United States.

Lixiang Automotive is a Beijing-based company that was founded in 2015, according to Crunchbase data. The company has raised north of $1 billion while private, and is said to be valued at just under $3 billion. It most recently raised a $530 million round led by Xing Wang, of Meituan-Dianping fame.

It would not be the first Chinese EV company to go public in the United States, as NIO managed the feat in 2018. But the reported filing shows newfound confidence concerning investor sentiment by the alternative car market’s players and bankers.

To understand the news, we’ll first look at recent happenings from Lixiang’s public peers, and then examine the company itself.

A month ago, the Lixiang Automotive confidential IPO filing would have appeared quixotic. After all, its closest market comparable was flirting with penny-stock status.

NIO was in the tank more than a year after an IPO that proved far from smooth. After going public at $6.26 per share, its equity had traded down to nearly the $1 mark, setting a 52-week low at the terrifying figure of $1.19 per share. However, since then, shares of the unprofitable, cash-strapped EV manufacturer have recovered, trading for $3.84 per share today. Still down from its IPO price, yes, but up more than 200% from its recent all-time lows (a more than tripling in value).

That likely cleared a path for Lixiang Automotive to file, albeit privately. Reuters broke the news of its IPO prospects.

Tesla’s ascent also helped. After some oddly normal (for Tesla) drama cooled, the company’s shares have come back a long way. From 52-week lows of $176.99, Elon’s car company is now worth $445.25. Shares of Tesla are up 150% from their lows, a more than doubling in market cap. Investors appeared to find its earnings and delivery totals (and progress on its Chinese factory) heartening.

For Lixiang Automotive, the moves showed that U.S. equity markets were warming waters worth testing. Given that it is certainly unprofitable, the opening of a new funding avenue was welcome.

Notably, similar to NIO when it went public, the company is set to debut while its history of actually delivering cars is nascent. NIO went public having delivered cars in the mere hundreds. The firm did note at the time that it had commits north of 10,000 for its cars. During the early days of its IPO I wrote that the company’s limited history of revenue generation made its shares a gamble.

Lixiang is set to go public at a similar level of immaturity. According to Equal Ocean, Lixiang now delivers cars, though it began to ship them just last month:

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Lixiang Automotive, formerly known as CHJ, has announced that its EV project ‘Lixiang ONE 2020’ is officially mass-produced at the Changzhou factory and will start mass delivery in early December.

Pre-sales for the car took place in Q4 2019, as well, meaning that the company’s pre-Q4 2019 revenue should wind up looking very light.

If Lixiang does successfully go public it will show that corporate maturity is not a requirement for an IPO. When we do get to see Lixiang’s F-1 filing, we won’t see the history of a company with an obvious path to profits amid quick growth — we’ll see a deeply unprofitable company in the early motion of generating material revenue.

A little bit ago I would have given such an offering slim chance of success. But with NIO on the bounce and Tesla back on form, who knows?

Source: Tech Crunch

Watch AMD’s CES press conference live right here

AMD is holding its CES press conference today at 2 PM Pacific, 5 PM Eastern. Expect some news when it comes to consumer CPUs (Ryzen), enterprise CPUs (Epyc) as well as ray tracing-enabled GPUs. It should give us some hints about what to expect from the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, as both of those consoles will be powered by AMD chips.

We’ll have a team on the ground, so you should also check out our full CES coverage.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Source: Tech Crunch

The ThinkPad X1 Fold is Lenovo’s first foldable screen PC

I know, I know. Laptops fold. Convertibles fold. I get it, you’re being pedantic. So let’s just move past all of and talk about this funky new thing from Lenovo. The company just announced the ThinkPad X1 Fold — the delivery of the device it teased back in May of last year.

The product is probably best described as the lovechild of a foldable phone and laptop. You’ve got to hand it to Lenovo — while it’s true not every device is a runaway success, the company is more than happy to experiment with interesting concepts in between more straight-laced office-minded offerings.

More than anything, the X1 Fold is latest in a long line of convertible form factors attempting to bring the best of tablets and laptops to a single form factor. Maybe there’s a seed of an idea here. We’ll see the thing in person, soon, but if early foldable phones are any indication, it could be a bit rough going at first. That said, Lenovo’s new Motorola Razr might be the closest of all to sticking the landing.

The laptop has a 13.3 inch display when unfolded, making it fairly compact. There’s also a magnetic bluetooth key board that can sit on the bottom half of the screen for a full laptop effect or detach to be used with the fully unfolded screen (the $24 stand is not included). When the system’s not in use, it sits in the middle, charging wireless. I’m not sure how practical any of this is until I get a chance to try it out, but honestly, it’s pretty cool.

The screen is pOLED, manufacture by LG. Lenovo says the durability tests have been “extensive,” though if past is prologue, sometimes some real world testing is required to really put a system through its paces. The folding mechanism is reinforced with a carbon fiber plate.

The Fold is expected to drop at some point in the middle of the year, priced at around $2,499, with Windows 10. There’s a Windows 10X version that will be available down the road, as well.

Source: Tech Crunch

CES awards cannabis company then bans it from mentioning cannabis when exhibiting

Keep Labs won an Innovation Award Honoree award for CES 2020 but is banned from saying the word “cannabis” on the CES show floor. Weeks later, the CTA, the trade group behind CES, told Keep Labs it could only exhibit if the company’s signage, marketing materials, and the product is free from cannabis product and paraphernalia.

To be named as an honoree is a significant honor for any company, but with Keep Labs, it’s historic. Keep is a product designed explicitly for cannabis, and this is the first time a company centered around marijuana has won an award from CES.

Because of the strict guidelines, Keep Labs decided it wasn’t in its best interest to exhibit at CES despite winning one of its top awards. The company is currently featured on the CES website, among other Innovation Award Honorees, where the word “cannabis” is used throughout the description.

Keep smart storage

Keep is a discreet desktop storage device designed to keep cannabis fresh and locked away. It looks like a smart speaker with a clock, but if you engage the biometric lock, the top opens, revealing several storage containers for cannabis products. With mobile alerts, a built-in scale and a hermetic seal, the device is purpose-built to be an ideal spot to store and secure weed.

The company was founded by two Canadian dads looking for a more secure way to store edibles. Their story is familiar: A friend unknowingly consumed cannabis gummies from an unmarked container. This led the founders to try to find a safe place to store cannabis items. Unable to find such a device, Ben Gliksman, a venture capital attorney with 10 years of experience, and Philip Wilkins, who previously built and sold two companies, set out to build their own.

Available in chalk white and slate black, the device is beautiful and achieves its goal of securing cannabis without hiding. This storage container would look at home on a bedside stand or hallway table.

Facial recognition keeps the device locked. If Keep is tempered with, the owner gets a smartphone notification. An airtight seal keeps things fresh and contains odors. Inside, separate containers keep things organized. There’s even a removable rolling tray and space for accessories. A battery allows owners to use the device anywhere.

This is Keep Labs’ first product, and the company is conducting its own fundraising campaign. At the time of writing, the Keep is available for pre-order for CAD 199.

The CTA awarded Keep Labs the Innovations Award Nominee honor on October 15. On December 4, the CTA gave the company the restrictions on exhibiting.

I spoke with Keeps Lab co-founder Philip Wilkins after the company first heard of the restrictions. At that time, in early December, the company still planned on attending and exhibiting the award. Later, the company had a change of heart.

Now, Wilkins tells TechCrunch that without being able to mention or talk about cannabis, they wouldn’t be doing the brand justice. The CTA had lumped them in with “storage solutions and appliance for the home.” Shying away from cannabis goes against everything they believe in. They aren’t a home storage solution, the company says, and that’s not why they won the award.

There’s a stigma around cannabis tech, Wilkins said, adding Keep Labs’ product is lumped in with “bongs and blunts.”

The company’s ban from CES is the latest hurdle facing Keep Labs. The company previously attempted to list its product on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but neither platform would allow it, because of the word “cannabis.”

Instead, the company launched a self-ran crowdfunding campaign. Right now, 805 backers have pre-ordered the device for CAD 199. The campaign is at 77% with just under two months to go before the self-imposed deadline of March 1, 2020.

Wilkins told TechCrunch the company is in the middle of mass-producing the product and are looking for additional distribution channels as well as venture capital investors who understand the need and cannabis space.

CES, Las Vegas and Cannabis

Cannabis and e-cigarette products are historically banned from CES. Vape makers like Pax and Puffco and Juul have been unable to exhibit, but with the Keep Labs award, it felt like the CTA was softening its stance. After all, Keep Laps doesn’t make a consumption product, but rather a storage product. The distinction seems significant.

The trade association issued TechCrunch the following statement: “There are no cannabis or e-cigarette products on the exhibit floor at CES, as the show does not have a category pertaining to that market. Given cannabis is not a category at CES, the company was able to exhibit under the terms they’d showcase their product as a storage device,” adding later “Keeps Lab (sic) fit in the Home Appliances category for the Innovation Awards.”

Exhibiting at CES can lead to significant growth for companies. Buyers, distributors, bankers alike attend the show in the hopes of adding companies and products to their portfolios. For a startup like Keep Labs, it can lead to retail distribution, financial capital and valuable industry partners. And being nominated as an Innovation Award Nominee shines a spotlight, making deals even more accessible.

Over 180,000 people attended last year’s show, including over 6,500 members of the media.

There are other ways of being at CES than through conventional means. Many companies take up private spaces throughout Las Vegas, in hotel rooms, and in other conference centers. This lets companies access the CES attendees in more private settings. However, by nature, these spaces are invite-only, which eliminates a lot of opportunities for the companies.

For cannabis companies, renting a hotel room bypasses the CTA’s rules, but not Nevada state laws. In the state of Nevada marijuana is legal to consume in private residence, but banned from consumption in parks, dispensaries and hotels. This means there isn’t — really — a place Las Vegas visitors can legally consume cannabis. And for cannabis companies looking to make deals, there are few legal locations where they can demonstrate their products.

Banned Tech

This incident smells familiar. In the run-up to the 2019 show, the CTA awarded sex-tech startup Lora DiCarlo with the same award only later to rescind it. The CTA told TechCrunch at the time that the Lora DiCarlo Osé does not fit into exciting product categories, and the company should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program.

The CTA drew widespread criticism for revoking Lora DiCarlo’s award.

TechCrunch confirmed at the time the CTA also prohibited Lora DiCarlo from exhibiting at CES, citing the company doesn’t fit a product category. However, other sex tech companies were on the show floor that year.

Past CES shows featured sex-tech companies, including a virtual reality porn company in 2017 and a sex toy robot for men in 2018. This 2020 year’s show will be sexual wellness company OhMiBod’s tenth year exhibiting at CES. In years past, the company launched wellness products, including a Kegel exerciser and in 2019, when Lora DiCarlo was banned, an Apple Watch-controlled vibrator.

“There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health,” Lora DiCarlo founder Lora Haddock wrote last year. “While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers. Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned.”

In the CTA’s letter to Lora DiCarlo, obtained by TechCrunch, the CTA cited a clause that explained how entries deemed “in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with the CTA’s image will be disqualified. CTA reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry at any time which, in CTA’s opinion, endangers the safety or well being of any person, or fails to comply with these Official Rules. CTA decisions are final and binding.”

CES or Bust

The cannabis market is exploding. In the United States, the substance is legal in 11 states, with Illinois becoming the latest to allow the sale and consumption for recreational use. Public support for legal pot hit an all-time high in 2019, according to this CBS News Poll. Over 30 states have legalized it to some degree, and more will follow.

Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, where Keep Labs is based.

The sheer demand raises the question of the CTA’s slow acceptance of cannabis-related products. As a trade group, it’s tasked with promoting policy that leads to growth within the consumer electronics world, and cannabis tech are quickly becoming a lucrative industry with broad acceptance across demographics.

Someone within the CTA sees the appeal of the Keep device. By awarding it with one of its top honors, the CTA is celebrating the responsible use of cannabis. And yet, by requesting the company hide its intended purpose while exhibiting, it is seemingly forcing cannabis back into the shadows.

Source: Tech Crunch

China Roundup: TikTok receives most government requests from India and US

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch’s China Roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people in the rest of the world. This week, TikTok, currently the world’s hottest social media app, welcomed the new decade by publishing its first transparency report as it encounters rising scrutiny from regulators around the world.

TikTok tries to demystify 

The report, which arrived weeks after it tapped a group of corporate lawyers to review its content moderation policy, is widely seen as the short video app’s effort to placate the U.S. government. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is currently probing the app for possible national security risks.

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based tech upstart ByteDance and has been rapidly gaining popularity away from its home turf, especially in the U.S. and India. As of November, it had accumulated a total of 1.5 billion downloads on iOS and Android devices, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower, although how many materialized into active users is unknown.

The transparency report reveals the number of requests TikTok received from local regulators during the first half of 2019. Such orders include government requests to access user information and remove content from the platform. India topped the list with 107 total requests filed, followed by the U.S. with 79 requests and Japan at 35.

The numbers immediately sparked debates over the noticeable absence of China among the list of countries that had submitted requests. This could be because TikTok operates as a separate app called Douyin in China, where it claimed to have more than 320 million daily active users (in Chinese) as of last July.

TikTok has taken multiple measures to ease suspicions of international markets where it operates, claiming that it stores data of U.S. users in the U.S. and that the app would not remove videos even at the behest of Beijing’s authority.

Whether skeptics are sold on these promises remains to be seen. Meanwhile, one should not overlook the pervasive practice of self-censorship among China’s big tech.

“Chinese internet companies know so well where the government’s red line is that their self-regulation might even be stricter than what the government actually imposes, so it’s not impossible that [the TikTok report] showed zero requests from China,” a person who works at a Chinese video streaming platform suggested to me.

It’s worth revisiting why TikTok has caused a big stir on various fronts. Besides its nationality as a Chinese-owned app and breathtaking rise, the app presents a whole new way of creating and consuming information that better suits smartphone natives. It’s been regarded as a threat to Facebook and compared to Youtube, which is also built upon user-generated content. However, TikTok’s consumers are much more likely to be creators as well, thanks to lower barriers to producing and sharing videos on the platform, venture capitalist David Rosenthal of Wave Capital observed. That’s a big engagement driver for the app.

Another strength of TikTok, seemingly trivial at first sight, is the way it displays content. Videos are shown vertically, doing away the need to flip a phone. In a company blog post (in Chinese) on Douyin’s development, ByteDance recounted that most short-video apps budding in 2016 were built for horizontal videos and required users to pick from a list of clips in the fashion of traditional video streaming sites. Douyin, instead, surfaces only one video at a time, full-screen, auto-played and recommended by its well-trained algorithms. What “baffled” many early employees and interviewees turned out to be a game-changing user experience in the mobile internet age.

Douyin’s ally and enemy 

A recent change in Douyin’s domestic rival Kuaishou has brought attention to the intricate links between China’s tech giants. In late December, video app Kuaishou removed the option for users to link e-commerce listings from Taobao, an Alibaba marketplace. Both Douyin and Kuaishou have been exploring e-commerce as a revenue stream, and each has picked its retail partners. While Kuaishou told media that the suspension is due to a “system upgrade,” its other e-commerce partners curiously remain up and running.

Left: Douyin lets creators add a “shop” button to posts. Right: The clickable button is linked to a Taobao product page.

Some speculate that the Beijing-based company could be distancing itself from Alibaba and moving closer to Tencent, Alibaba’s nemesis and a majority shareholder in Kuaishou. Yunfeng Capital, a venture firm backed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, has also funded Kuaishou but holds a less significant equity stake. That Douyin has long been working with Alibaba on e-commerce might have also been a source of discordance between Kuaishou and Alibaba.

Source: Tech Crunch

Week in Review: Selling out in the Instagram age

Hey everyone, happy 2020. Welcome back to Week in Review where I dive deep into a bit of news from the week or just share some thoughts and go over some of the more interesting stories of the week.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.

The big story

Dip a toe into the world of influencers and as you click through Instagram stories, and you’ll see that peddling endorsements for bizarre products is an essential part of the new influencer economy. What’s interesting isn’t that these (often) self-made influencers looking to leverage their fame to and monetize themselves with sponsorship deals, it’s how low the expectations are of their followers and fans when it comes to advertising suspect products.

The age of fanbases considering a celebrity a sellout after hocking junk in commercial appearances is far, far gone. Follower exploitation isn’t even questioned, something that grows less funny when you realize how young most of the fans are of some of these figures.

As you click through actual online influencers with 10 million+ followers advertising weight-loss supplements, juice cleanses and knockoff AirPods, you might be wondering where the bar is and whether it can go any lower. Followers don’t really seem to care for a lot of reasons, but one intriguing thought is that as social media platforms have made fame seem more accessible, user empathy for internet stars has increased and people understand that these figures are just looking for their payday.

Ultimately, high art and capitalism have also never been closer and when you look at the relationship between brand endorsements and some of the top visual artists and musicians, it’s not surprising that those that occupy lesser rungs on the fame ladder don’t mind hocking lesser products. This great piece in The Atlantic by Taylor Lorenz from 2018 reported on how teens were acting like they were selling ads as a way to lend themselves credibility. The “coolness” of advertising has only seemed to accelerate.

It’s clear that the influencer economy has shaped popular culture in ways that make a backlash to influencers “selling out” seem nearly impossible at this point in time. After all, if sticking your name on products that literally contain poison doesn’t dampen your charm, what will?

Evan Spiegel SnapDSC04084

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Snap buys up an AI startup
    This week, TechCrunch reported that Snapchat had bought up a Ukrainian AI startup to build its latest Cameo feature. The $166 million acquisition is a significant purchase for the social media company which spent the bulk of 2019 getting back to basics.
  • Former HBO boss joins up with Apple
    Former HBO exec Richard Plepler has signed an exclusive deal with Apple for his new production company, a move that’s sure to make waves in the entertainment space but could also shift how Apple spends its behemoth original content budgets.

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription business had another great week of content. My colleague Josh Constine started a series with advice for getting your startup press coverage.

Finding the right reporter to cover your startup

Pitch the wrong reporter or publication, and your story won’t see the light of day.

Before you start seeking press, you’ll need to look for reporters who have reach, respect and expertise when you choose who to talk to. You’ll also need to be prepared to accept the truth about your business, even if it hurts. It’s critical that you find a writer who’s a good fit for the business you’re building and the audience you’re seeking…”

Sign up for more newsletters, including my colleague Darrell Etherington’s new space-focused newsletter Max Q, here.

Source: Tech Crunch