OrbitFab secures National Science Foundation funding to propel its satellite refueling tech to space

On-orbit satellite refueling technology is closer than ever to a practical reality, which could help immensely with the cost and sustainability of orbital businesses. Startup OrbitFab, a 2019 TechCrunch Battlefield finalist, is one of the companies working to make orbital refueling a reality, and it just secured a new contract from the National Science Foundation’s early stage deep tech R&D initiative America’s Seed Fund to further its goals.

The contract is specifically for development of a solution that provides rendezvous and docking capabilities in space, managing the end-to-end process of connecting two spacecraft and transferring fuel from one to the other. OrbitFab unveiled its connector hardware for making this possible last October at Disrupt, which it now refers to as its Rapidly attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI). The RAFTI is designed as a replacement for existing valves used in satellites for fueling and draining propellant from spacecraft, but would seek to establish a new standard that provides easy interoperability both with ground fueling, and with in-space refueling (or fuel transfer from one satellite to another, depending on what’s needed).

Already, OrbitFab has managed to fly twice to the International Space Station (ISS), and last year it became the first ever private company to supply the orbital lab with water. It’s not resting on its laurels, and this new contract will help it prepare a technology demonstration of the docking process it’s RAFTI facilitates in its own test facilities this summer.

Longer-term, this is just phase one of a multi-par funding agreement with the NSF. Phase one includes $250,000 to make that first demo, and then ultimately that will lead to an inaugural trial of a fuel sale operation in space, which OrbitFab CMO Jeremy Schiel says should happen “within two years.”

“This will involve 2 satellites, our tanker, and a customer satellite, in a low LEO [low Earth orbit] docking, exchanging fuel, and decoupling, and repeating this process as many times as we can to demonstrate our capability,” he wrote via email.

There have been a number of technical projects and demonstrations around orbital refueling, and some of the largest companies in the industry are working on the challenge. But OrbitFab’s approach is aiming for simplicity, and ease of execution, along with a common standard that can be leveraged across a wide range of satellites large and small, from a range of companies. Already, OrbitFab says it’s working with a group of 30 different campaigns and organizations on making RAFTI a broadly adopted interface.

If successful, OrbitFab could underpin a future orbital commercial operating environment in which fuel isn’t nearly as much a concern when it comes to launch costs, with on-orbit roving gas stations addressing demand for spacecraft once they reach space, and paying a price for propellant that’s defrayed by common, bulk shipments instead of broken up piecemeal.

Source: Tech Crunch

FCC mandates strict caller ID authentication to beat back robocalls

The FCC unanimously passed a new set of rules today that will require wireless carriers to implement an tech framework to combat robocalls. Called STIR/SHAKEN, and dithered over for years by the carriers, the protocol will be required to be put in place by summer of 2021.

Robocalls have grown from vexation to serious problem as predictable “claim your free vacation” scams gave way to “here’s how to claim your stimulus check” or “apply for coronavirus testing here” scams.

A big part of the problem is that the mobile networks allow for phone numbers to be spoofed or imitated, and it’s never clear to the call recipient that the number they see may be different from the actual originating number. Tracking and preventing fraudulent use of this feature has been on the carriers’ roadmap for a long time, and some have gotten around to it in some ways, for some customers.

STIR/SHAKEN, which stands for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited / Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs, is a way to securely track calls and callers to prevent fraud and warn consumers of potential scams. Carriers and the FCC have been talking about it since 2017, and in 2018 the FCC said it needed to be implemented in 2019. When that hadn’t happened, the FCC gave carriers a nudge, and at the end of the year Congress passed the TRACED Act to spur the regulator into carrying out its threat of mandating use of the system.

Rules to that effect were proposed earlier this month, and at the FCC’s open meeting today (conducted remotely), the measure passed unanimously. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has been vocal about the lack of concrete action on this issue, gladly approved the rules but vented her frustration in a statement:

It is good news that today the Federal Communications Commission adopts rules to reduce robocalls through call authentication. I only wish we had done so sooner, like three years ago when the FCC first proposed the use of STIR/SHAKEN technology.

Commissioner Brendan Starks called the rules a “good first step,” but pointed out that the carriers need to apply call authentication technology not just on the IP-based networks but all over, and also to work with each other (as some already are) to ensure that these protections remain in place across networks, not just within them.

Chairman Ajit Pai concurred, pointing out there was much work to do:

It’s clear that FCC action is needed to spur across-the-board deployment of this important technology…Widespread implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing, allow law enforcement to identify bad actors more easily, and help phone companies identify—and even block—calls with illegal spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their subscribers. Most importantly, it will give consumers more peace of mind when they answer the phone.

There’s no silver bullet for the problem of spoofed robocalls. So we will continue our aggressive, multi-pronged approach to combating it.

Consumers won’t notice any immediate changes — the deadline is next year, after all — but it’s likely that in the coming months you will receive more information from your carrier about the technology and what, if anything, you need to do to enable it.

Source: Tech Crunch

Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all

Now that we’re all stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, video calls have gone from a novelty to a necessity. Zoom, the popular videoconferencing service, seems to be doing better than most and has quickly become one of, if not the most, popular option going.

But should it be?

Zoom’s recent popularity has also shone a spotlight on the company’s security protections and privacy promises. Just today, The Intercept reported that Zoom video calls are not end-to-end encrypted, despite the company’s claims that they are.

And Motherboard reports that Zoom is leaking the email addresses of “at least a few thousand” people because personal addresses are treated as if they belong to the same company.

It’s the latest examples of the company having to spend the last year mopping up after a barrage of headlines examining the company’s practices and misleading marketing. To wit:

  • Apple was forced to step in to secure millions of Macs after a security researcher found Zoom failed to disclose that it installed a secret web server on users’ Macs, which Zoom failed to remove when the client was uninstalled. The researcher, Jonathan Leitschuh, said the web server meant any malicious website could activate Mac webcam with Zoom installed without the user’s permission. The researcher declined a bug bounty payout because Zoom wanted Leitschuh to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which would have prevented him from disclosing details of the bug.
  • Zoom was quietly sending data to Facebook about a user’s Zoom habits — even when the user does not have a Facebook account. Motherboard reported that the iOS app was notifying Facebook when they opened the app, the device model, which phone carrier they opened the app, and more. Zoom removed the code in response, but not fast enough to prevent a class action lawsuit or New York’s attorney general from launching an investigation.
  • Zoom came under fire again for its “attendee tracking” feature, which, when enabled, lets a host check if participants are clicking away from the main Zoom window during a call.
  • A security researcher found that the Zoom uses a “shady” technique to install its Mac app without user interaction. “The same tricks that are being used by macOS malware,” the researcher said.
  • On the bright side and to some users’ relief, we reported that it is in fact possible to join a Zoom video call without having to download or use the app. But Zoom’s “dark patterns” doesn’t make it easy to start a video call using just your browser.
  • Zoom has faced questions over its lack of transparency on law enforcement requests it receives. Access Now, a privacy and rights group, called on Zoom to release the number of requests it receives, just as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many more tech giants report on a semi-annual basis.
  • Then there’s Zoombombing, where trolls take advantage of open or unprotected meetings and poor default settings to take over screen-sharing and broadcast porn or other explicit material. The FBI this week warned users to adjust their settings to avoid trolls hijacking video calls.
  • And Zoom tightened its privacy policy this week after it was criticized for allowing Zoom to collect information about users’ meetings — like videos, transcripts and shared notes — for advertising.

There are many more privacy-focused alternatives to Zoom. Motherboard noted several options, but they all have their pitfalls. FaceTime and WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, but FaceTime works only on Apple devices and WhatsApp is limited to just four video callers at a time. A lesser known video calling platform, Jitsi, is not end-to-end encrypted but it’s open source — so you can look at the code to make sure there are no backdoors — and it works across all devices and browsers. You can run Jitsi on a server you control for greater privacy.

In fairness, Zoom is not inherently bad and there are many reasons why Zoom is so popular. It’s easy to use, reliable and for the vast majority it’s incredibly convenient.

But Zoom’s misleading claims give users a false sense of security and privacy. Whether it’s hosting a virtual happy hour or a yoga class, or using Zoom for therapy or government cabinet meetings, everyone deserves privacy.

Now more than ever Zoom has a responsibility to its users. For now, Zoom at your own risk.

Source: Tech Crunch

No proof of a Houseparty breach, but its privacy policy is still gatecrashing your data

Houseparty has been a smashing success with people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic who still want to connect with friends.

The group video chat app, interspersed with games and other bells and whistles, raises it above the more mundane Zooms and Hangouts (fun only in their names, otherwise pretty serious tools used by companies, schools and others who just need to work) when it comes to creating engaged leisure time, amid a climate where all of them are seeing a huge surge in growth.

All that looked like it could possibly fall apart for Houseparty and its new owner Epic Games when a series of reports appeared Monday claiming Houseparty was breached, and that malicious hackers were using users’ data to access their accounts on other apps such as Spotify and Netflix.

Houseparty was swift to deny the reports and even go so far as to claim — without evidence — it was investigating indications that the “breach” was a “paid commercial smear to harm Houseparty,” offering a $1 million reward to whoever could prove its theory.

For now, there is no proof that there was a breach, nor proof that there was a paid smear campaign, and when we reached out to ask Houseparty and Epic about this investigation, a spokesperson said: “We don’t have anything to add here at the moment.”

But that doesn’t mean that Houseparty doesn’t have privacy issues.

As the old saying goes, “if the product is free, you are the product.” In the case of the free app Houseparty, the publishers detail a 12,000+ word privacy policy that covers any and all uses of data that it might collect by way of you logging on to or using its service, laying out the many ways that it might use data for promotional or commercial purposes.

There are some clear lines in the policy about what it won’t use. For example, while phone numbers might get shared for tech support, with partnerships that you opt into, to link up contacts to talk with and to authenticate you, “we will never share your phone number or the phone numbers of third parties in your contacts with anyone else.”

But beyond that, there are provisions in there that could see Houseparty selling anonymized and other data, leading Ray Walsh of research firm ProPrivacy to describe it as a “privacy nightmare.”

“Anybody who decides to use the Houseparty application to stay in contact during quarantine needs to be aware that the app collects a worrying amount of personal information,” he said. “This includes geolocation data, which could, in theory, be used to map the location of each user. A closer look at Houseparty’s privacy policy reveals that the firm promises to anonymize and aggregate data before it is shared with the third-party affiliates and partners it works with. However, time and time again, researchers have proven that previously anonymized data can be re-identified.”

There are ways around this for the proactive. Walsh notes that users can go into the settings to select “private mode” to “lock” rooms they use to stop people from joining unannounced or uninvited; switch locations off; use fake names and birthdates; disconnect all other social apps; and launch the app on iOS with a long press to “sneak into the house” without notifying all your contacts.

But with a consumer app, it’s a longshot to assume that most people, and the younger users who are especially interested in Houseparty, will go through all of these extra steps to secure their information.

Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook launches a global version of its Community Help feature in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Facebook first launched its Community Help feature in 2017, to give users a way to offer assistance, search for help and receive help in the wake of a crisis. The feature has since been used to connect Facebook users after man-made, accidental and natural disasters, like terrorist attacks or weather events, for example. Today, Facebook is expanding Community Help as part of its COVID-19 efforts. The new COVID-19 Community Help hub will allow people to request or offer help to those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as well as donate to nonprofit fundraisers.

This is the first time Facebook has launched Community Help on a global scale. It’s also the first time it’s been used for a health pandemic.

The feature will launch first in the U.S., Canada, France, U.K. and Australia, Facebook says.

A somewhat similar feature, Help Map, was recently introduced by the neighborhood social network and Facebook competitor Nextdoor, but it hasn’t yet seen widespread adoption. In part, that’s because Nextdoor isn’t making the new addition as obvious as it could — it’s currently buried in the “More” tab instead of being a central focus in the app. Also, the Help Map simply allows people to list themselves as being able to offer assistance to someone in need or as being in need of aid.

Facebook’s Community Help hub, meanwhile, builds on Facebook’s earlier efforts with Crisis Response, which connected multiple tools in one place.The COVID-19 Community Help feature can be found within Facebook’s existing COVID-19 Information Center, which is live in more than 30 countries.

Launched earlier in March, the COVID-19 Information Center today sits at the top of the News Feed and connects users to authoritative health information from global health authorities, along with curated posts from politicians, journalists, and other public figures.

Since its debut, more than 1 billion users have accessed the information shared by health authorities on the Information Center and through the educational pop-ups on Facebook and Instagram, the company claims. More than 100 million people clicked through to learn more from the sources directly.

Before today’s official launch, the COVID-19 Information Center tested Community Help in select U.S. cities. There, local users have been posting requests for help — like those about a hospital in need of masks or volunteers to help distribute food. Others shared their free assistance being offered — like free meals for hourly workers now out of a job or free virtual workouts for those missing their gym routine.

This now continues as the Community Hub launches across the supported markets. However, it will now exist as its own destination, which includes fundraisers. It also will include additional categories, like Food, Baby Supplies, Toiletries and Business Support — the latter which allows local businesses to ask for help and respond to offers for help.

Facebook also clarifies that users will be able to post or comment in reply to posts about offering assistance, as either an individual user or as a Facebook Page. And both individuals and Facebook Pages will be able to share posts to let others know what they need.

In addition, the COVID-19 Community Help hub will fundraise through two COVID-response efforts: the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Facebook Fundraiser and the Combat Coronavirus with the CDC Foundation Facebook Fundraiser (U.S. only), where Facebook is matching donations, up to $10 million to each fundraiser. While not available today, Facebook will soon allow people to seek out and donate to local nonprofit fundraisers, it says.

Facebook says the COVID-19 Community Help hub will arrive in more countries around the world in the next few weeks, starting first with higher-risk countries across Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Source: Tech Crunch

Want $100,000? Apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2020

Imagine what a $100,000 cash infusion could do for your startup. Now add global media attention and intense investor interest into the mix. That powerful triad can potentially be yours. All you need to do is apply to compete in Startup Battlefield, the legendary pitch competition at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2020.

We know COVID-19 has many created challenges, but Disrupt SF is still on schedule (keep tabs on our updates here). Like startup founders everywhere we know how to pivot, and we’ll adapt as needed. Case in point, check out our new Disrupt Digital Pass option.

It won’t cost you a dime to apply or to compete in Startup Battlefield, and TechCrunch does not take any equity. Applying is easy, but our editorial team has exacting standards, and they’ll pour over each application looking for startups they feel have the potential to take flight. They’ll choose approximately 20 startups to pitch on the Main Stage at Disrupt SF 2020.

Now let’s talk about what you have to gain by competing — regardless of the final outcome. All competing teams receive weeks of intensive (and free) pitch training from the TechCrunch Battlefield-savvy editorial team. You’ll come out of that with a razor-sharp business model, expanded presentation skills and a refined live demo.

Startup Battlefield is the crown jewel of Disrupt, and the event draws a huge audience — thousands of people on site and streamed live to tens of thousands more around the world. Your startup will stand in that bright spotlight with avid investors, hundreds of media outlets and other tech movers and shakers anxious to learn more about your company.

Your team will have six minutes to pitch, demo and impress a panel of judges comprised leading VCs and technologists. Then they’ll put you through a six-minute Q&A. The judges winnow the field to approximately five startups for the finals. Those teams repeat the process in front of a new panel of judges.

When all is said and done, one startup will rise above the rest to claim the Disrupt Cup, the $100,000 cash prize and the title of Startup Battlefield champion. It’s a glorious, fast-paced, chaotic competition that can absolutely change your life.

Fresh from the “but wait there’s more” file, Battlefield competitors enjoy a VIP experience at Disrupt. That includes exhibiting in Startup Alley for all three days of the show and attending the Startup Battlefield Reception. You also receive four complimentary event tickets and access to CrunchMatch, TC’s investor-founder networking platform. You also get a complimentary ticket to all future TC events and free subscriptions to Extra Crunch.

Let’s review. Startup Battlefield takes place at Disrupt San Francisco 2020 on Sept. 14 – 16. It’s free to apply, free to compete and includes free pitch coaching. Opportunity galore, maximum exposure on a global stage, and a shot at $100,000. This is an early-stage startup no-brainer. Apply to compete in Startup Battlefield today.

TechCrunch is mindful of the COVID-19 issue and its impact on live events. You can follow our updates here.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt San Francisco 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: Tech Crunch

Niantic is updating Pokémon Go and other titles to support indoor gaming

Niantic, the development company behind popular AR mobile games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is adapting its titles to support at-home gaming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, Niantic’s games have encouraged people to go outdoors, explore their world, and connect with others in real life as they played. But with government lockdowns and home quarantines under way, it’s no longer safe to play these games as originally intended. 

The company says it will now prioritize making changes to its AR titles to allow people to play inside and around their own homes.

For example, Niantic’s Adventure Sync function will now track your indoor steps as you do things like run on a treadmill, clean your house, or make other indoor movements and activities. It’s also enhancing the games’ social features to allow friends to stay in touch virtually, and soon take on Raid Battles together while staying at home.

Instead of discouraging virtual movement inside the game, as Niantic has in the past, players will be able to virtually visit and share memories about their favorite real-world places. And this summer, Niantic will re-imagine its plans for live events to allow players to participate without having to leave home.

These updates aren’t just those made for the consideration of players’ needs during this time of crisis — they’re also necessary changes to ensure Niantic continues to operate both during the pandemic and beyond.

Niantic’s live events have driven big business to the cities that hosted them — nearly $250 million in tourism revenue in 2019, it once said. It also served as a mechanism to drive its own revenues and keep players engaged over time. The plan had worked — Pokémon Go has continued to grow, even though it’s not the hyped-up global phenomenon it was at launch. Last year was its highest-grossing year ever, a report from Sensor Tower found, as the game pulled in nearly $900 million in player spending in 2019. Much of the revenue was due to the game’s significant updates and real-world events, the report noted.

These latest updates aren’t the first changes Niantic has made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It had already modified gameplay in Pokémon Go to encourage users to stay inside — including by rewarding players who caught their Pokémon while inside, for example. It also just launched a new form of gameplay called the GO Battle League that can be played from home, reduced walking requirements, and discounted select items so players wouldn’t have to walk as far to catch Pokémon, among other things.

In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the company increased the amount of content that’s near players on the map, so they could progress in the game without traveling far. Potions were also tuned to support people playing from home.

And in both titles, gifts were adjusted to include more helpful content throughout each day.

In Niantic’s first game, Ingress, it has made a few changes, too. Ingress Portals are now tuned to encourage at-home play and it’s reduced the need to interact with multiple Portals. Several other changes make it easier to play the game without having to walk around as much.

Niantic has not yet gone so far as to fully eliminate the use of outdoor walks as a means of gameplay, however. Instead, it still encourages people to get outside — in areas where it’s permitted by local authorities to go for walks.

Though Niantic had made earlier changes to its games due to the outbreak, today’s announcement represents a more formal strategy for its business. It also lays out a detailed roadmap of what Niantic has in store. Not all its new features are live. Instead, Niantic says they’ll roll out in the “coming days and weeks,” without committing to an exact time frame.

“We created Niantic with a mission to help people get outside, exercise, and explore the world, with the ultimate goal of helping people connect with others. Today we support a global community of hundreds of millions of people who look to our games for regular entertainment and an opportunity to get outside and connect with friends,” said Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke, on the company blog.

“We have always believed that our games can include elements of indoor play that complement the outdoor, exercise and explore DNA of what we build. Now is the time for us to prioritize this work, with the key challenge of making playing indoors as exciting and innovative as our outdoor gameplay,” he added.

Source: Tech Crunch

Amid concerns that startups could be left out of COVID-19 bailout, investors step up lobbying

The massive bailout package that the U.S. government passed last week to stave off an economic collapse from measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic is giving out billions to American small businesses. But startups that received venture capital money could be left out.

So the nation’s investment organizations and lobbying firms are stepping up their efforts to get clarification around the specifics of the loan programs established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Their efforts could mean the difference between some of those billions in loans for small businesses going to startup companies or a whole swath of companies left falling through the cracks.

There appear to be two issues for startup entrepreneurs with the different types of loans that companies can receive.

The first is the “Affiliation Rules” that the Small Business Administration (SBA) uses to determine who is eligible for loans. Under the rules, companies could be required to count all of the employees at every company their investors have backed as part of their employee count — pushing the individual companies above the employee size threshold.

“Regardless of the purpose of these rules for traditional 7(a) loans, allowing the rules to exclude some of our country’s most innovative startups in this new loan program is manifestly contrary to the intent of the legislation: to help small businesses keep their lights on and their employees working despite the double financial squeeze created by the economic and financial market downturns,” according to a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza by the NVCA and other startup investment organizations. “Without clear guidance enabling startups and small businesses supported by equity investment to access the loan facility, many of these startups may be rendered ineligible.”

These issues around affiliation and 7(a) loans aren’t the only ones with which startups may contend. Startups could also be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). These loans are part of a $10 billion program within the CARES Act that is also overseen by the SBA. However, these loans have to come with a personal guarantee if they’re over $200,000. And that requirement may be too onerous for startups. 

EIDLs less than $200,000 don’t require a personal guarantee, nor do they require real estate as collateral, and will take a general security interest in business property, according to an article in Forbes. Borrowers for EIDLs can take an emergency cash grant of $10,000 that can be forgiven if spent on things like paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruptions, mortgage or lease payments or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue loss, according to Forbes.

These loans apply to sole proprietors and independent contractors and employee stock ownership plans with fewer than 500 employees, Forbes wrote. The emergency loans are available to companies that don’t qualify for additional funds — and are based on self-certification and a basic credit score, Alex Contreras, director of Preparedness, Communication, & Coordination at the Office of Disaster Assistance for the SBA told Forbes.

While the EIDLs may be interesting, the biggest issue is the lack of clarity around affiliation rules, Justin Field, NVCA’s senior vice president of government affairs, tells me.

“These rules will make it more difficult for small businesses with equity investors to even understand if they can access the program,” he says. “It’s a tough situation… If you have these non-bright-lined rules it’s going to be tough for anybody that has a company that has minority investors.”

There could be significant implications for the U.S. economy if these startups are ineligible for loans, the NVCA wrote. Companies backed by venture investors are involved in the development of technologies of strategic interest to the U.S. in the long term and are currently working on tools to diagnose, track, monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the short term.

“Bottom line: not providing this critical support to startups now will cause both short-term pain and long-term consequences that linger for years,” the organizations wrote. “In 2019 alone, 2.27 million jobs were created in the U.S. by startups across our nation. According to the job site Indeed, 98 percent of firms have fewer than 100 employees and between small and medium sized companies, they jointly employ 55 percent of employees. When implementing the CARES Act, we urge the SBA to issue guidance that makes clear affiliation rules do not arbitrarily exclude our most innovative startups.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Experience Disrupt SF online with the Disrupt Digital Pro Pass

Earlier this month we announced the launch of the Disrupt Digital Pass for TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt SF event (September 14-16) as a way to help ensure that, no matter what, TechCrunch fans everywhere would be able to enjoy the big interviews at the show. We also hinted that we were working on a Pro edition of the Digital Pass for people who really want to engage as fully as possible with Disrupt SF, including all the programming on the four primary stages and lots of real-time interaction with fellow attendees, founders in Startup Alley, engaging Q&A sessions and our all important exhibitors and partners. That was trickier to figure out, but we’re there. 

Today we’re happy to unveil the Disrupt Digital Pro Pass that we’ve been working hard to finalize. Here’s what you get with your Disrupt Digital Pro Pass, starting at $245: 

  • Live stream and VOD (video-on-demand) from the Extra Crunch Stage. Live and on-demand access to TechCrunch editors’ discussions with top experts — growth marketers, lawyers, investors, technologists, recruiters — on topics critical to founders’ success. Pass holders, in-person and virtual, may submit questions in real time to the moderator onstage.
  • Live stream and VOD from the Q&A Stage. Virtual pass holders can submit questions during live Q&A sessions with speakers after they have appeared with TechCrunch editors on the Disrupt and Extra Crunch stages. 
  • VOD from the Showcase Stage. Watch top founders exhibiting in Startup Alley pitch and take questions from TechCrunch editors. 
  • Interact with early-stage startups in Startup Alley virtually. Browse the hundreds of exhibiting startups, organized by category, and watch their product demos on demand. Digital Pro pass holders can arrange 1:1 meetings with founders whether they be virtual or exhibiting on the show floor in-person.
  • Video conference networking with CrunchMatch. TechCrunch’s hugely popular platform to connect like-minded attendees will be accessible to Digital Pro pass holders as well as in-person attendees. Find attendees, request a meeting and connect via a private video conference. 
  • Virtual sponsor engagements. We love our sponsors, and they will be front and center for Digital Pro pass holders, whether that’s opportunities to set up 1:1 meetings virtually with sponsor reps or watch sponsors’ presentations. 

In addition, of course, Pro pass holders also have access to the features of the free Disrupt Digital Pass:

  • Live stream and VOD from the Disrupt Stage. Live and on-demand access to all the great interviews TechCrunch’s editors conduct with the biggest names in tech. 

You can expect to see the TechCrunch team at San Francisco’s Moscone Center during Disrupt, but now attendees can join us in person and/or virtually

Innovator, Founder, Investor and Startup Alley pass holders (except Expo Only passes) will also have access to all the Disrupt Digital Pro Pass features, as well as the opportunity to be present with us in San Francisco. 

Sign up for Disrupt SF today. 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Disrupt SF, and we hope you will join us to celebrate, online or at Moscone. We would love to have you, either way.

( function() {
var func = function() {
var iframe = document.getElementById(‘wpcom-iframe-8799c7389acbd91b39f27dd57c7954fc’)
if ( iframe ) {
iframe.onload = function() {
iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( {
‘msg_type’: ‘poll_size’,
‘frame_id’: ‘wpcom-iframe-8799c7389acbd91b39f27dd57c7954fc’
}, “https://tcprotectedembed.com” );

// Autosize iframe
var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) {

var origin = document.createElement( ‘a’ );
origin.href = e.origin;

// Verify message origin
if ( ‘tcprotectedembed.com’ !== origin.host )

// Verify message is in a format we expect
if ( ‘object’ !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type )

switch ( e.data.msg_type ) {
case ‘poll_size:response’:
var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id );

if ( iframe && ” === iframe.width )
iframe.width = ‘100%’;
if ( iframe && ” === iframe.height )
iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height );


if ( ‘function’ === typeof window.addEventListener ) {
window.addEventListener( ‘message’, funcSizeResponse, false );
} else if ( ‘function’ === typeof window.attachEvent ) {
window.attachEvent( ‘onmessage’, funcSizeResponse );
if (document.readyState === ‘complete’) { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ }
else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( ‘DOMContentLoaded’, func, false ); }
else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( ‘onreadystatechange’, func ); }
} )();

Source: Tech Crunch

Fauci: US can expect more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, millions of cases

On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, the leading U.S. authority on the COVID-19 pandemic made some grim predictions about the course of the novel coronavirus as it rages through communities within the United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and emerging face of American leadership in the fight against the virus, estimated that the U.S. may see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus. A deeply-respected authority on viral diseases, Fauci assisted in guiding the federal response to SARS, MERS, Ebola and now the novel coronavirus.

Fauci cautioned that these estimates are based on models and a model is only as accurate as the assumptions that go into building it. An extreme worst-case situation in which the coronavirus causes millions of American deaths remains “not impossible but very, very unlikely.”

“Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case actually came out. They always overshoot.”

Fauci believes that the U.S. is likely going to have “millions of cases” but broadly cautioned against relying on modeling estimates while still stressing the extreme risk the virus poses.

“I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target that we could so easily be wrong and mislead people,” Fauci said. He added that outbreaks in New York, New Orleans and other areas with “serious problems” remain worrisome, indicating that the data at hand is plenty of cause for concern.

As of Sunday morning, 2,197 people in the U.S. have lost their lives fighting the virus, with 125,313 confirmed cases in the country to date according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of actual cases of the virus on the ground is likely substantially higher, as testing challenges continue to trouble some parts of the country and many mild or asymptomatic cases go untested.

Source: Tech Crunch