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Mobile games now account for 33% of installs, 10% of time and 74% of consumer spend

Judhajeet Das

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Mobile gaming continues to hold its own, accounting for 10% of the time users spend in apps — a percentage that has remained steady over the years, even though our time in apps overall has grown by 50% over the past two years. In addition, games are continuing to grow their share of consumer spend, notes App Annie in a new research report out this week, timed with E3.

Thanks to growth in hyper-casual and cross-platform gaming in particular, mobile games are on track to reach 60% market share in consumer spend in 2019.

The new report looks at how much time users spend gaming versus using other apps, monetization and regional highlights within the gaming market, among other things.

Despite accounting for a sizable portion of users’ time, games don’t lead the other categories, App Annie says.

Instead, social and communications apps account for half (50%) of the time users spent globally in apps in 2018, followed by video players and editors at 15%, then games at 10%.

In the U.S., users generally have eight games installed per device; globally, we play an average of two to five games per month.

The number of total hours spent on games continues to grow roughly 10% year-over-year, as well, thanks to existing gamers increasing their time in games and from a broadening user base, including a large number of mobile app newcomers from emerging markets.

This has also contributed to a widening age range for gamers.

Today, the majority of time spent in gaming is by those aged 25 and older. In many cases, these players may not even classify themselves as “gamers,” App Annie noted.

While games may not lead the categories in terms of time spent, they do account for a large number of mobile downloads and the majority of consumer spending on mobile.

One-third of all worldwide downloads are games across iOS, Google Play and third-party app stores.

Last year, 1.6+ million games launched on Google Play and 1.1+ million arrived on iOS.

On Android, 74 cents of every dollar is spent on games, with 95% of those purchases coming as in-app purchases, not paid downloads. App Annie didn’t have figures for iOS.

Google Play is known for having more downloads than iOS, but continues to trail on consumer spend. In 2018, Google Play grabbed a 72% share of worldwide downloads, compared with 28% on iOS. Meanwhile, Google Play only saw 36% of consumer spend versus 64% on iOS.

One particular type of gaming jumped out in the new report: racing games.

Consumer spend in this subcategory of gaming grew 7.9 times as fast as the overall mobile gaming market. Adventure games did well, too, growing roughly five times the rate of games in general. Music games and board games were also popular.

Of course, gaming expands beyond mobile. But it’s surprising to see how large a share of the broader market can be attributed to mobile gaming.

According to App Annie, mobile gaming is larger than all other channels, including home game consoles, handheld consoles and computers (Mac and PC). It’s also 20% larger than all these other categories combined — a shift from only a few years ago, attributed to the growth in the mobile consumer base, which allows mobile gaming to reach more people.

Cross-platform gaming is a key gaming trend today, thanks to titles like PUBG and Fortnite in particular, which were among the most downloaded games across several markets last year.

Meanwhile, hyper-casual games are appealing to those who don’t think of themselves as gamers, which has helped to broaden the market further.

App Annie is predicting the next big surge will come from AR gaming, with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite expected to bring Pokémon Go-like frenzy back to AR, bringing the new title $100 million in its first 30 days. The game is currently in beta testing in select markets, with plans for a 2019 release.

In terms of regions, China’s impact on gaming tends to be outsized, but its growth last year was limited due to the game license regulations. This forced publishers to look outside the country for growth — particularly in markets like North America and Japan, App Annie said.

Meanwhile, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia lead the emerging markets with regard to game
downloads, but established markets of the U.S. and China remain strong players in terms of sheer numbers.

With the continued steady growth in consumer spend and the stable time spent in games, App Annie states the monetization potential for games is growing. In 2018, there were 1,900 games that made more than $5 million, up from 1,200 in 2016. In addition, consumer spend in many key markets is still growing too — like the 105% growth in two years in China, for example, and the 45% growth in the U.S.

The full report delves into other regions as well as game publishers’ user acquisition strategies. It’s available for download here.

Tech Passionate and Heavy Geek! Into Blogging world since 2014 and never looked back since then :) I am also a YouTube Video Producer and a Aspiring Entrepreneur. Founder, MyDroidDoes

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Android

Most US mobile banking apps have security and privacy flaws, researchers say

Judhajeet Das

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You might figure the biggest U.S. banks would have some of the most secure mobile apps. Spoiler alert: not so much.

New findings from security firm Zimperium, shared exclusively with TechCrunch, say most of the top banking apps have security flaws that put user data at risk. The security firm, which has a commercial stake in the mobile security business, downloaded the banks’ iOS and Android apps and scanned for security and privacy issues, like data leaks, which put private user data and communications at risk.

The researchers found most of the apps had issues, like failing to adhere to best coding practices and using old open-source libraries that are infrequently updated.

Some of the apps were using open-source code from GitHub from more than three years ago, said Scott King, Zimperium’s director of embedded security.

Worse, more than half of the banking apps are sharing customer data with at least one advertiser, the researchers said.

An unnamed iOS banking app with an 86/100 risk score (Image: Zimperium)

Two unnamed Android banking apps each with an 82/100 risk score (Image: Zimperium)

The researchers, who didn’t name the banks, said one of the worst offending iOS apps scored 86 out of 100 on the risk scale for several privacy lapses, including communicating over an unencrypted HTTP connection. The same app was vulnerable to two known remote bugs dating back to 2015. The researchers said the risk scores for the banks’ corresponding Android apps were far higher. Two of the apps were rated with a risk score of 82 out of 100. Both of the apps were storing data in an insecure way, which third-party apps could access and recover sensitive data on a rooted device, said King.

One of the Android apps wasn’t properly validating HTTPS certificates, making it possible for an attacker to perform a man-in-the-middle attack. Several of the iOS and Android apps were capable of taking screenshots of the app’s display, increasing the risk of data leaking.

Zimperium said two-thirds of the Android banking apps are targeted by several malware campaigns, such as BankBot, which tricks users into downloading fake apps from Google Play and waits until the victim signs in to a banking app on their phone. Using an overlay screen, the malware campaigns steal logins and passwords.

The security firm called on banking apps to do more to bolster their apps’ security.

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Is your product’s AI annoying people?

Judhajeet Das

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Artificial intelligence is allowing us all to consider surprising new ways to simplify the lives of our customers. As a product developer, your central focus is always on the customer. But new problems can arise when the specific solution under development helps one customer while alienating others.

We tend to think of AI as an incredible dream assistant to our lives and business operations, when that’s not always the case. Designers of new AI services should consider in what ways and for whom might these services be annoying, burdensome or problematic, and whether it involves the direct customer or others who are intertwined with the customer. When we apply AI services to make tasks easier for our customers that end up making things more difficult for others, that outcome can ultimately cause real harm to our brand perception.

Let’s consider one personal example taken from my own use of Amy.ai, a service (from x.ai) that provides AI assistants named Amy and Andrew Ingram. Amy and Andrew are AI assistants that help schedule meetings for up to four people. This service solves the very relatable problem of scheduling meetings over email, at least for the person who is trying to do the scheduling.

After all, who doesn’t want a personal assistant to whom you can simply say, “Amy, please find the time next week to meet with Tom, Mary, Anushya and Shiveesh.” In this way, you don’t have to arrange a meeting room, send the email, and go back and forth managing everyone’s replies. My own experience showed that while it was easier for me to use Amy to find a good time to meet with my four colleagues, it soon became a headache for those other four people. They resented me for it after being bombarded by countless emails trying to find some mutually agreeable time and place for everyone involved.

Automotive designers are another group that’s incorporating all kinds of new AI systems to enhance the driving experience. For instance, Tesla recently updated its autopilot software to allow a car to change lanes automatically when it sees fit, presumably when the system interprets that the next lane’s traffic is going faster.

In concept, this idea seems advantageous to the driver who can make a safe entrance into faster traffic, while relieving any cognitive burden of having to change lanes manually. Furthermore, by allowing the Tesla system to change lanes, it takes away the desire to play Speed Racer or edge toward competitiveness that one may feel on the highway.

However, for the drivers in other lanes who are forced to react to the Tesla autopilot, they may be annoyed if the Tesla jerks, slows down or behaves outside the normal realm of what people expect on the freeway. Moreover, if they are driving very fast and the autopilot did not recognize they were operating at a high rate of speed when the car decided to make the lane change, then that other driver can get annoyed. We can all relate to driving 75 mph in the fast lane, only to have someone suddenly pull in front of us at 70 as if they were clueless that the lane was moving at 75.

For two-lane traffic highways that are not busy, the Tesla software might work reasonably well. However, in my experience of driving around the congested freeways of the Bay Area, the system performed horribly whenever I changed crowded lanes, and I knew that it was angering other drivers most of the time. Even without knowing those irate drivers personally, I care enough about driving etiquette to politely change lanes without getting the finger from them for doing so.

Post Intelligence robot

Another example from the internet world involves Google Duplex, a clever feature for Android phone users that allows AI to make restaurant reservations. From the consumer point of view, having an automated system to make a dinner reservation on one’s behalf sounds excellent. It is advantageous to the person making the reservation because, theoretically, it will save the burden of calling when the restaurant is open and the hassle of dealing with busy signals and callbacks.

However, this tool is also potentially problematic for the restaurant worker who answers the phone. Even though the system may introduce itself as artificial, the burden shifts to the restaurant employee to adapt and master a new and more limited interaction to achieve the same goal — making a simple reservation.

On the one hand, Duplex is bringing customers to the restaurant, but on the other hand, the system is narrowing the scope of interaction between the restaurant and its customer. The restaurant may have other tables on different days, or it may be able to squeeze you in if you leave early, but the system might not handle exceptions like this. Even the idea of an AI bot bothering the host who answers the phone doesn’t seem quite right.

As you think about making the lives of your customers easier, consider how the assistance you are dreaming about might be more of a nightmare for everyone else associated with your primary customer. If there is a question regarding the negative experience of anyone related to your AI product, explore that experience further to determine if there is another better way to still delight them without angering their neighbors.

From a user-experience perspective, developing a customer journey map can be a helpful way to explore the actions, thoughts and emotional experiences of your primary customer or “buyer persona.” Identify the touchpoints in which your system interacts with innocent bystanders who are not your direct customers. For those people unaware of your product, explore their interaction with your buyer persona, specifically their emotional experience.

An aspirational goal should be to delight this adjacent group of people enough that they would move toward being prospects and, eventually, becoming your customers as well. Also, you can use participant ethnography to analyze the innocent bystander in relation to your product. This is a research method that combines the observations of people as they interact with processes and the product.

A guiding design inspiration for this research could be, “How can our AI system behave in such a way that everyone who might come into contact with our product is enchanted and wants to know more?”

That’s just human intelligence, and it’s not artificial.

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Android

Anti-spam service Truecaller adds free voice calling feature

Judhajeet Das

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Truecaller, an app best known for helping users screen calls from strangers and spammers, is adding yet another feature to its service as it bolsters its super app status. The Stockholm-based firm said today that its app can now be used to place free VoIP-powered voice calls.

The company told TechCrunch on Tuesday that it has started to roll out the free voice calling feature to its Android users. It expects the rollout to reach all Android users in the coming days. The feature, which currently only supports calls between two users, will arrive on its iOS app soon.

In emerging markets such as India, where 100 million of Truecaller’s 140 million users live, free voice calls has been a long-sought after feature. Until late 2016, voice calls were fairly expensive in India, with telecom operators counting revenue from traditional calls as their biggest profit generator.

But in last two and a half years, things have changed dramatically for hundreds of millions of people in India after Reliance Jio, a telecom operator owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, launched its network with free voice calls and low-priced data services. Reliance Jio has already amassed over 300 million users to become one of the top three telcos in the nation.

Yet, the quality of network still leaves much to be desired in India as traditional calls drop abruptly and run into quality issues more often than one would like. Truecaller said that its voice calls rely on data services — mobile data and Wi-Fi — and claimed that they can work swiftly even on patchy network.

The addition of voice calling functionality comes as Truecaller aggressively looks to expand its business. The service, which offers both ad-support free tier and subscription bundle, has added messaging, mobile payments, and call recording features in recent years. Earlier this year, it also added a crediting option, allowing users in India to borrow a few hundred dollars.

A representative with the company said Truecaller began exploring the free voice calling feature a few months ago. It began testing the new functionality with alpha and beta test group users four weeks ago. It now plans to introduce group voice calling support soon, the company said.

With the new feature, Truecaller now competes even more closely with WhatsApp . The Facebook-owned app has become ubiquitous in India with more than three-quarters of India’s smartphone base using the app. WhatsApp added voice calling feature to its app in 2015. Last year, Facebook said users around the world were spending 2 billion minutes per day on WhatsApp video and audio calls.

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Crunch","desc":"Exclusive articles, conference calls, no banner ads, and more.","url":"/subscribe/?tpcc=rightrailmay19","button_text":"Try it free","live_event":"0","livestream_hash":null,"feature_islands":{"homepage":[{"id":1845350,"date":"2019-06-18T02:01:19","date_gmt":"2019-06-18T09:01:19","guid":"rendered":"https://techcrunch.com/?p=1845350","modified":"2019-06-18T05:28:43","modified_gmt":"2019-06-18T12:28:43","slug":"facebook-libra","status":"publish","type":"post","link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/","title":"rendered":"Facebook announces Libra cryptocurrency: All you need to know","content":"rendered":"

Facebook has finally revealed the details of its cryptocurrency Libra, which will let you buy things or send money to people with nearly zero fees. You’ll pseudonymously buy or cash out your Libra online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet that will be built into WhatsApp, Messenger, and its own app. Today Facebook released its white paper explaining Libra and its testnet for working out the kinks of its blockchain system before a public launch in the first half of 2020.

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Facebook won’t fully control Libra, but instead get just a single vote in its governance like other founding members of the Libra Association including Visa, Uber, and Andreessen Horowitz who’ve invested at least $10 million each into the project’s operations. The association will promote the open-sourced Libra blockchain and developer platform with its own Move programming language plus sign up businesses to accept Libra for payment and even give customers discounts or rewards.

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Facebook is launching a subsidiary company also called Calibra that handles its crypto dealings and protects users’ privacy by never mingling your Libra payments with your Facebook data so it can’t be used for ad targeting. Your real identity won’t be tied to your publicly visible transactions. But Facebook/Calibra and other founding members of the Libra Association will earn interest on the money users cash in that is held in reserve to keep the value of Libra stable.

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Facebook’s audacious bid to create a global digital currency that promotes financial inclusion for the unbanked actually has more privacy and decentralization built in than many expected. Instead of trying to dominate Libra’s future or squeeze tons of cash out of it immediately, Facebook is instead playing the long-game by pulling payments into its online domain. Facebook’s VP of blockchain David Marcus explained the company’s motive and the tie-in with its core revenue source during a briefing at San Francisco’s historic Mint building. “If more commerce happens, then more small businesses will sell more on and off platform, and they’ll want to buy more ads on the platform so it will be good for our ads business.”

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The Risk And Reward Of Building The New PayPal

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In cryptocurrencies, Facebook saw both a threat and an opportunity. They held the promise of disrupting how things are bought and sold by eliminating transaction fees common with credit cards. That comes dangerously close to Facebook’s ad business that influences what is bought and sold. If a competitor like Google or an upstart built a popular coin and could monitor the transactions, they’d learn what people buy and could muscle in on the billions spent on Facebook marketing. Meanwhile, the 1.7 billion people who lack a bank account might choose whoever offers them a financial services alternative as their online identity provider too. That’s another thing Facebook wants to be.

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Yet existing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum weren’t properly engineered to scale to be a medium of exchange. Their unanchored price was susceptible to huge and unpredictable swings, making it tough for merchants to accept as payment. And cryptocurrencies miss out on much of their potential beyond speculation unless there are enough places that will take them instead of dollars, and the experience of buying and spending them is easy enough for a mainstream audience. But with Facebook’s relationship with 7 million advertisers and 90 million small businesses plus its user experience prowess, it was well poised to tackle this juggernaut of a problem.

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Now Facebook wants to make Libra the evolution of PayPal . It’s hoping Libra will become simpler to set up, more ubiquitous as a payment method, more efficient with fewer fees, more accessible to the unbanked, more flexible thanks to developers, and more long-lasting through decentralization.

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“Success will mean that a person working abroad has a fast and simple way to send money to family back home, and a college student can pay their rent as easily as they can buy a coffee” Facebook writes in its Libra documentation. That would be a big improvement on today, when you’re stuck paying rent in insecure checks while exploitative remittance services like charge an average of 7% to send money abroad, taking $50 billion from users annually. Libra could also power tiny microtransactions worth just a few cents that are infeasible with credit card fees attached, or replace your pre-paid transit pass.

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…Or it could be globally ignored by consumers who see it as too much hassle for too little reward, or too unfamiliar and limited in use to pull them into the modern financial landscape. Facebook has built a reputation for over-engineered, underused products. It will need all the help it can get if wants to replace what’s already in our pockets.

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How Does Libra Work?

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By now you know the basics of Libra. Cash in a local currency, get Libra, spend them like dollars without big transaction fees or your real name attached, cash them out whenever you want. Feel free to stop reading and share this article if that’s all you care about. But the underlying technology, the association that governs it, the wallets you’ll use, and the way payments work all have a huge amount of fascinating detail to them. Facebook has released over 100 pages of documentation on Libra and Calibra, and we’ve pulled out the most important facts. Let’s dive in.

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The Libra Association – Crypto’s New Oligarchy

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Facebook knew people wouldn’t trust it to wholly steering the cryptocurrency they use, and it also wanted help to spur adoption. So the social network recruited the founding members of the Libra Association, a not-for-profit which oversees the development of the token, the reserve of real-world assets that gives it value, and the governance rules of the blockchain. “If we were controlling it, very few people would want to jump on and make it theirs” says Marcus.

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Each founding member paid a minimum of $10 million to join and optionally become a validator node operator (more on that later), gain one vote in the Libra Association council, and be entitled to a share (proportionate to their investment) of the dividends from interest earned on the Libra reserve users pay fiat currency into to receive Libra.

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The 28 soon-to-be founding members of the association and their industries, previously reported by The Block’s Frank Chaparro, include:

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  • Payments: Mastercard, PayPal, PayU (Naspersu2019 fintech arm), Stripe, Visa
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  • Technology and marketplaces: Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, Mercado Pago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies, Inc.
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  • Telecommunications: Iliad, Vodafone Group
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  • Blockchain: Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited
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  • Venture Capital: Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures
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  • Nonprofit and multilateral organizations, and academic institutions: Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Womenu2019s World Banking
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Facebook says it hopes to reach 100 founding members before the official Libra launch and it’s open to anyone that meets the requirements including direct competitors like Google or Twitter. The Libra Association is based in Geneva, Switzerland and will meet biannually. The country was chosen for its neutral status and strong support for financial innovation including blockchain technology.

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Libra Governance – Who Gets A Vote

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To join the association, members must have a half rack of server space, a 100Mbps or above dedicated internet connection, a full-time site reliability engineer, and enterprise-grade security. Businesses must hit two of three thresholds of a $1 billion USD market value or $500 million in customer balances, reach 20 million people a year, and/or be recognized as a top 100 industry leader by a group like Interbrand Global or the S&P.

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Crypto-focused investors must have over $1 billion in assets under management, while Blockchain businesses must have been in business for a year, have enterprise grade security and privacy, and custody or staking greater than $100 million in assets. And only up to one-third of founding members can by crypto-related businesses or individually invited exceptions. Facebook also accepts research organizations like universities, and non-profits fulfilling three of four qualities including working on financial inclusion for over five years, multi-national reach to lots of users, a top 100 designation by Charity Navigator or something like it, and/or $50 million in budget.

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The Libra Association will be responsible for picking recruiting more founding members to act as validator nodes for the blockchain, fundraising to jumpstart the ecosystem, designing incentive programs to reward early adopters, and doling out social impact grants. A council with a representative from each member will help choose the association’s managing director who will appoint an executive team, elect a board of 5 to 19 top representatives.

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Each member including Facebook/Calibra will only get up to one vote or 1% of the total vote (whichever is larger) in the Libra Association council. This provides a level of decentralization that protects against Facebook or any other player hijacking Libra for its own gain. By avoiding sole ownership and dominion over Libra, Facebook could avoid extra scrutiny from regulators who are already investigating it for a sea of privacy abuses as well as potentially anti-competitive behavior. In an attempt to preempt criticism from lawmakers, the Libra Association writes “We welcome public inquiry and accountability. We are committed to a dialogue with regulators and policymakers. We share policymakersu2019 interest in the ongoing stability of national currencies.”

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The Libra Currency – A Stablecoin

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A Libra is a unit of the Libra cryptocurrency that’s represented by a three wavy horizontal line unicode character u224b like the dollar is represented by $. The value of a Libra is meant to stay largely stable so it’s a good medium of exchange since merchants can be confident they won’t be paid a Libra today that’s then worth less tomorrow. The Libra’s value is tied to a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities for a slew of historically stable international currencies including the dollar, pound, euro, swiss franc, and yen. The Libra Association maintains this basket of assets and can change the balance of its composition if necessary to offset major price fluctuations in any one foreign currency so that the value of a Libra stays consistent.

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The name Libra comes from the word for a Roman unit of weight measure. It’s trying to invoke a sense of financial freedom by playingon the French stem “Lib” meaning free.

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The Libra Association is still hammering out the exact start value for the Libra, but it’s meant to somewhere close to the value of a dollar, euro, or pound so it’s easy to conceptualize. That way, a gallon of milk in the US might cost 3 to 4 Libra, similar but not exactly the same as with dollars.

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The idea is that you’ll cash in some money and keep a balance of Libra that you can spend at accepting merchants and online services. You’ll be able to trade in your local currency for Libra and vice versa through certain wallet apps including Facebook’s Calibra, third-party wallet apps, and local resellers like convenience or grocery stores where people already go to top-up their mobile data plan.

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The Libra Reserve – One For One

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Each time someone cashes in a dollar or their respective local currency, that money goes into the Libra Reserve and an equivalent value of Libra is minted and doled out to that person. If someone cashes out from the Libra Association, the Libra they give back are destroyed/burned and they receive the equivalent value in their local currency back. That means there’s always 100% of the value of the Libra in circulation collateralized with real world assets in the Libra Reserve. It never runs fractional. And unliked “pegged” stable coins that are tied to a single currency like the USD, Libra maintains its own value — though that should cash out to roughly the same amount of a given currency over time.

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When Libra Association members join and pay their $10 million minimum, they receive Libra Investment Tokens. Their share of the total tokens translates into the proportion of the dividend they earn off of interest on assets in the reserve. Those dividends are only paid out after Libra Association uses interest to pay for operating expenses, investments in the ecosystem, engineering research, and grants to non-profits and other organizations. This interest is part of what attracted the Libra Association’s members. If Libra becomes popular and many people carry a large balance of the currency, the reserve will grow huge and earn significant interest.

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The Libra Blockchain – Built For Speed

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Every Libra payment is permanently written into the Libra blockchain — a cryptographically authenticated database that acts as a public online ledger designed to handle 1000 transactions per second. That would be much faster than Bitcoin’s 7 transactions per second or Bitcoin’s 15. The blockchain is operated and constantly verified by founding members of the Libra Association who each invested $10 million or more for a say in the cryptocurrency’s governance and the ability operate a validator node.

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When a transaction is submitted, each of the nodes runs a calculation based on the existing ledger of all transactions. Thanks to a Byzantine Fault Tolerance system, just two-thirds of the nodes must come to consensus that the transaction is legitimate for it to be executed and written to the blockchain. A structure of Merkle Trees in the code makes it simple to recognize changes made to the Libra blockchain. With 5KB transactions, 1000 verifications per second verifications on commodity CPUs, and up to 4 billion accounts, the Libra blockchain should be able to operate at 1000 transactions per second if nodes us at least 40Mbps connections and 16TB SSD hard drives.

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Transactions on Libra cannot be reversed. If an attack compromises over one-third of the validator nodes causing a fork in the blockchain, the Libra Association says it will temporarily halt transactions, figure out the extent of the damage, and recommend software updates to resolve the fork.

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Transactions aren’t entirely free. They incur a tiny fraction of a cent fee to pay for “gas” that covers the cost of processing the transfer of funds similar to with Ethereum. This fee will be negligible to most consumers, but when they add up the gas charges will deter bad actors from creating millions of transactions to power spam and denial-of-service attacks. “We’ve purposely tried not to innovate massively on the blockchain itself because we want it to be scalable and secure” says Marcus of piggybacking on the best elements of existing cryptocurrencies.

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Currently, the Libra blockchain is what’s known as “permissioned”, where only entities that fulfill certain requirements and are admitted to a special in-group that defines consensus and controls governance of the blockchain. The problem is this structure is more vulnerable to attacks and censorship because it’s not truly decentralized. But during Facebook’s research, it couldn’t find a reliable permissionless structure that could securely scale to the number of transactions Libra will need to handle. Adding more nodes slows things down, and no one has proven a way to avoid that without compromising security.

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That’s why the Libra Association’s goal is to move to a permissionless system based on proof-of-stake that will protect against attacks by distributing control, encourage competition, and lower the barrier to entry. It wants to have at least 20% of votes in the Libra Association council coming from node operators based on their total Libra holdings instead of their status as a founding member. That plan should help to appease blockchain purists who won’t be satisfied until Libra is completely decentralized.

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Move Coding Language – For Moving Libra

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The Libra blockchain is open source with an Apache 2.0 license and any developer can build apps that work with it using the Move coding language. The blockchain’s prototype launches its testnet today, so it’s effectively in developer beta mode until it officially launches in the first half of 2020. The Libra Association is working with HackerOne to launch a bug bounty system later this year that will pay security researchers for safely identifying flaws and glitches. In the meantime, the Libra Association is implementing the Libra Core using the Rust programming language since it’s designed to prevent security vulnerabilities, and the Move language isn’t fully ready yet.

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Move was created to make it easier to write blockchain code that follows an author’s intent without introducing bugs. It’s called Move because its primary function is to move Libra coins from one account to another, and never let those assets be accidentally duplicated. The core transaction code looks like: LibraAccount.pay_from_sender(recipient_address, amount) procedure

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Eventually, Move developers will be able to create smart contracts for programmatic interactions with the Libra blockchain. Until Move is ready, developers can create modules and transaction scripts for Libra using Move IR, which is high-level enough to be human-readable but low-level enough to be translatable into real Move bytecode that’s written to the blockchain.

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The Libra ecosystem and the Move language will be completely open to use and build, which presents a sizable risk. Crooked developers could prey on crypto novices, claiming their app works just the same legitimate ones, and that it’s safe since it uses Libra. But if consumers get ripped off by these scammers, the anger will surely bubble up to Facebook. Yet still, Calibra’s head of product tells me “There are no plans for the LibraAassociation to take a role in actively vetting [developers].”

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Even though it’s tried to distance itself sufficiently via its subsidiary Libra and the association, many people will probably always think of Libra as Facebook’s cryptocurrency and blame it for their woes.

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Libra Incentives – Rewarding Early Businesses

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The Libra Association wants to encourage more developers and merchants to work with its cryptocurrency. That’s why it plans to issue incentives, possibly Libra coins, to validator node operators who can get people signed up for and using Libra. Wallets that pull users through the Know Your Customer anti-fraud and money laundering process or that keep users sufficiently active for over a year will be rewarded. For each transaction they process, merchants will also receive a percentage of the transaction back.

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Businesses that earn these incentives can keep them, or pass some or all of them along to users in the form of free Libra tokens or discounts on their purchases. This could create competition between wallets to see which can pass the most rewards on to their customers, and thereby attract the most users. You could imagine eBay or Spotify giving you a discount for paying in Libra, while wallet developers might offer you free tokens if you complete 100 transactions within a year.

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u201cOne challenge for Spotify and its users around the world has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems – especially for those in financially underserved markets” Spotify’s Chief Premium Business officer Alex Norstru00f6m writes. “In joining the Libra Association, there is an opportunity to better reach Spotifyu2019s total addressable market, eliminate friction and enable payments in mass scale.u201d

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This savvy incentive system should massively help ratchet up Libra’s user count without dictating how businesses balance their margins versus growth. Facebook also has another plan to grow its developer ecosystem. By offering venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures a portion of the reserve interest, they’re motivating to fund startups building Libra infrastructure.

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Using Libra

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So how do you actually own and spend Libra? Through Libra wallets like Facebook’s own Calibra and others that will be built by third-parties, potentially including Libra Association members like PayPal. The idea is to make sending money to a friend or paying for something as easy as sending a Facebook Message. You won’t be able to make or receive any real payments until the official launch next year, though, but you can sign up for early access when it’s ready here.

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None of the Libra Association members agreed to provide details on what exactly they’ll build on the blockchain, but we can take Facebook’s Calibra wallet as an example of the basic experience. Calibra will launch alongside the Libra currency on iOS and Android within Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and a standalone app. When users first sign up, they’ll be taken through a Know Your Customer anti-fraud process where they’ll have to provide a government issued photo ID and other verification info. They’ll need to conduct due diligence on customers and report suspicious activity to the authorities.

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From there you’ll be able to cash in to Libra, pick a friend or merchant, set an amount to send them and add a description, and send them Libra. You’ll also be able to request Libra, and Calibra will offer an expedited way of paying merchants by scanning your or their QR code. Eventually it wants to offer in-store payments and integrations with Point-Of-Sale systems like Square.

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The Libra Association’s ecommerce members seem particularly excited about how the token could eliminate transaction fees and speed up checkout. “We believe blockchain will benefit the luxury industryby improving IP protection, transparency in the product lifecycle and – as in the case of Libra – enable global frictionless e-commerce” says FarFetch CEO Jose Neves.

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Privacy – At Least From Facebook

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained some of the philosophy behind Libra and Calibra in a post today. “It’s decentralized — meaning it’s run by many different organizations instead of just one, making the system fairer overall. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and has low fees and costs. And it’s secured by cryptography which helps keep your money safe. This is an important part of our vision for a privacy-focused social platform — where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately, from messaging to secure payments.”

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By default, Facebook won’t import your contacts or any of your profile information but may ask if you wish to do so. It also won’t share any of your transaction data back to Facebook, so it won’t used to target you with ads, rank your News Feed, or otherwise earn Facebook money directly. Data will only be shared in specific instances in anonymized ways for research or adoption measurement, for hunting down fraudsters, or due to a request from law enforcement. And you don’t even need a Facebook or WhatsApp account to sign up for Calibra or to use Libra.

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“We realize people don’t want their social data and financial data commingled” says Marcus, who’s now head of Calibra. “The reality is we’ll have plenty of wallets that will compete with us and many of them will not be in social, and if we want to successfully win people’s trust, we have to make sure the data will be separated.”

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In case you are hacked, scammed, or lose access to your account, Calibra will refund you for lost coins when possible through 24/7 chat support because it’s a custodial wallet. You also won’t have to remember any long, complex crypto passwords you could forget and get locked out from your money, since Calibra manages all your keys for you. Given Calibra will likely become the default wallet for many Libra users, this extra protection and smoother user experience is essential.

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For now, Calibra won’t make money. But Weil tells me that if it reaches scale, Facebook could launch other financial tools through Calibra that it could monetize such as investing or lending. “In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, such as paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass” the Calibra team writes. That makes it start to sound a lot like China’s everything app WeChat.

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Today, Facebook is coming together with 27 organizations around the world to start the non-profit Libra Association and…

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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A Global Coin

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Facebook got one thing right for sure: today’s money doesn’t work for everyone. Those of us living comfortably in developed nations likely don’t see the hardships that befall migrant workers or the unbanked abroad. Preyed on by greedy payday lenders and high-fee remittance services, targeted by muggers, and left out of traditional financial services, the poor get poorer. Libra has the potential to get more money from working parents back to their families and help people retain credit even if they’re robbed of their physical possessions. That would do more to accomplish Facebook’s mission of making the world feel smaller than all the News Feed Likes combined.

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If Facebook succeeds and legions of people cash in money for Libra, it and the other founding members of the Libra Association could earn big dividends on the interest. And if suddenly it becomes super quick to buy things through Facebook using Libra, businesses will boost their ad spend there. But if Libra gets hacked or proves unreliable, it could cost lots of people around the world money while souring them on cryptocurrencies. And by offering an open Libra platform, shady developers could build apps that snatch not just people’s personal info like Cambridge Analytica, but their hard-earned digital cash.

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Facebook just tried to reinvent money. Next year, we’ll see if the Libra Association can pull it off. It took me 4000 words to explain Libra, but at least now you can make up your own mind about whether to be scared of Facebook crypto.

n”,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Facebook has finally revealed the details of its cryptocurrency Libra, which will let you buy things or send money to people with nearly zero fees. You’ll pseudonymously buy or cash out your Libra online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet […]

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Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”,”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”]],”replies”:[[“id”:666067,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”c r”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T03:10:07″,”content”:”rendered”:”

So, why do I care if the vendor has to pay transaction fees to Visa? That doesnu2019t seem like reason enough for me to adopt a new currency.

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This may replace cash or debit transactions for many people. It will be a hard sell to credit card customers in the US though. Credit cards have 4 benefits over Libra.
n1) Ability to spend now and pay later. Even without interest when paying within a month.
n2) Ability to earn cash back or rewards. The merchants are paying for fees and rewards, but in the US they rarely charge the customer for those fees.
n3) Transactions are not final as they are with cash, debit, and Libra. Customer can challenge fraudulent charges and get transactions reversed.
n4) Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the US.

n

That said, this looks to be the best attempt to create a stable crypto currency so far. This may gain a lot of traction in countries where people donu2019t have access to stable currencies and for people that donu2019t have access to credit.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666072″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”S3BOOWUGAEVKG3MQPVHAB5IKJA”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666072″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”id”:666074,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”S N”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T04:03:48″,”content”:”rendered”:”

I am sceptical. If KYC is a requirement, what’s to prevent them from censoring people they don’t like? For example, if you own a history channel on YouTube or something like that, and they decide to ban you for hate speech. And all of a sudden you can’t spend your Libra anymore.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666074″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”M73UWALWXVWUBJ3WIOUUDUHAGQ”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666074″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”id”:666076,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Charles Porter”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T04:36:01″,”content”:”rendered”:”

Facebook is known for censoring undesirable content and collecting obscene amounts of private data on its users (and non-users. Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp announced that it would be suing users for violating its TOS, even if that violation occurred on a different platform or even meat-space.

n

Can’t imagine that FaceBucks will be free from those concerns.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666076″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”KST5RH2GOMT5SGZO3XAUZVZ3QY”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666076″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”id”:666082,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Shannon Butler”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T04:57:49″,”content”:”rendered”:”

I haven’t read the white paper yet. I think Libra is going to have significant difficulty in maintaining the stability of the currency unless the gas charges are high to disincentivize arbitrage or there are stringent rules on trading.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666082″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”NBRR4URN2JESBPUFJIP2MGAZAG”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666082″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”id”:666069,”parent”:666067,”author”:0,”author_name”:”F F”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T03:24:35″,”content”:”rendered”:”

Hm… how about sending money to oversea? When you travel, you need to do currency exchange, you lose heaps of money by doing that. 7% sounds like a fair figure.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666069″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”S7U2QTVHQRYVXIDR2LILVKDOYQ”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666069″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”in-reply-to”:[“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067″],”id”:666073,”parent”:666067,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Erik de Vries”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T03:56:55″,”content”:”rendered”:”

Companies like TransferWise are lowering the cost of international transfers and access to money overseas. You donu2019t need crypto currencies to take on the remittance industry. You just need a company with less overhead and more automation to reduce the transaction costs.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666073″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”S3BOOWUGAEVKG3MQPVHAB5IKJA”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666073″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”in-reply-to”:[“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067″],”id”:666080,”parent”:666067,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Shannon Butler”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T04:50:50″,”content”:”rendered”:”

@Erik De Vries Transferwise is unfortunately still really expensive. I’d say due to the regulatory requirements imposed on these types of companies. As regulation comes into place this platform is likely to also become more expensive until it can be truly decentralized.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666080″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”NBRR4URN2JESBPUFJIP2MGAZAG”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666080″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350″],”in-reply-to”:[“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067″]]],”author”:[“id”:1603003,”name”:”Josh Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”,”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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tiny phone is available unlocked at $350″,”content”:”rendered”:”

The first time I showed the Palm phone to the TechCrunch staff, they were excited. At the very least, it was a unique take on the category, designed to be a second phone for those moments that didnu2019t require a larger, bulkier device.

n

But reality set in pretty quickly. The deviceu2019s capabilities were severely limited by a number of factors, including size. The biggest issue, however, was a Verizon exclusive that only let users purchase the device as a second handset tied to an existing account.

n

Back in April, the company announced that the 3.3-inch phone could be purchased as a standalone device u2014 albeit still through Verizon or US Mobile. Today, itu2019s expanding that, making the handset available unlocked, so it will work with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and MetroPCS SIMs.

n

n

The phoneu2019s available u201cat onlyu201d $350. Thatu2019s cheap compared to many full-sized, mid-tier handsets, but cheapness is certainly a relative concept. It still seems like a lot for a second phone, and while itu2019s certainly adorable, Iu2019d strongly advise against anyone using it as a primary handset. Heck, itu2019s not even all that great as a standalone MP3 player.

n

If youu2019re still interested, you can pre-order it today u2014 and Palm will throw in a $30 leather case with neck and wrist lanyards. It starts shipping in six to eight weeks.

n”,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

The first time I showed the Palm phone to the TechCrunch staff, they were excited. At the very least, it was a unique take on the category, designed to be a second phone for those moments that didnu2019t require a larger, bulkier device. But reality set in pretty quickly. The deviceu2019s capabilities were severely limited […]

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Brian Heater is the Hardware Editor at TechCrunch. He worked for a number of leading tech publications, including Engadget, PCMag, Laptop, and Tech Times, where he served as the Managing Editor. His writing has appeared in Spin, Wired, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast and various other publications. He hosts the weekly Boing Boing interview podcast RiYL, has appeared as a regular NPR contributor and shares his Queens apartment with a rabbit named Lucy.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1461345979/xynitsmpgmmobpekzxkg.jpg”,”twitter”:”bheater”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/699688″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”]],”replies”:[[“id”:666088,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Britney Daggers”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-18T06:46:37″,”content”:”rendered”:”

So explain this to a dummy…

n

How can you use it as a second phone when the carriers won’t sell you two valid/live SIM cards that both point to the same phone number?

n

Thanks

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/palms-tiny-phone-is-available-unlocked-at-350/#comment-666088″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/c7f0c30507e8b94aa3e3afd68aa5af5b?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/c7f0c30507e8b94aa3e3afd68aa5af5b?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/c7f0c30507e8b94aa3e3afd68aa5af5b?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”EOWUP5SCW64E5GZKMJI4TAYWO3″,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666088″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845252″]]],”author”:[“id”:699688,”name”:”Brian Heater”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/brian-heater/”,”slug”:”brian-heater”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/bheater”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-heater/1/a92/94″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/brian-heater”,”position”:”Hardware Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Brian Heater is the Hardware Editor at TechCrunch. He worked for a number of leading tech publications, including Engadget, PCMag, Laptop, and Tech Times, where he served as the Managing Editor. His writing has appeared in Spin, Wired, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast and various other publications. He hosts the weekly Boing Boing interview podcast RiYL, has appeared as a regular NPR contributor and shares his Queens apartment with a rabbit named Lucy.

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to negotiate term sheets with strategic investors”,”content”:”rendered”:”n

n

Three years ago, I met with a founder who had raised a massive seed round at a valuation that was at least five times the market rate. I asked what firm made the investment.

n

She said it was not a traditional venture firm, but rather au00a0strategic investor that not only had no ties to her space but also had no prior investment experience. The strategic investor, she said, was looking to u201cget their hands dirtyu201d and u201cget in on the ground floor.u201d

n

Over the next 2 years, I kept a close eye on the founder. Although she had enough capital to pivot her business focus multiple times, she seemed to be at odds, serving the needs of her strategic investor and her customer base.

n

Ultimately, when the business needed more capital to survive, the strategic investor didnu2019t agree with the founderu2019s focus, opted not to prop it up, and the business had to shut down.

n

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story as examples abound of strategic investors influencing startup direction and management decisions to the point of harm for the startup. Corporate strategics, not to be confused with dedicated funds focused on financial returns like a traditional venture investor like Google Ventures,u00a0often care less about return on investment, and more about a startupu2019s focus, and sector specificity. If corporate imperatives change, the strategicu00a0may cease to be the right partneru00a0or could push the startup inu00a0a challenging direction.

n

And yet, fortunately, as the disruptive power of technology is being unleashed on nearly every major industry, strategic investors are now getting smarter, both in terms of howu00a0they investu00a0and how they partner with entrepreneurs.

n

From making strong acquisitive plays (i.e.u00a0GMu2019s purchase of Cruise Automationu00a0oru00a0Toyotau2019s early-stage investment in Uber) to buildingu00a0dedicated funds, to executing commercial agreements in tandem with capital investment, strategics are getting savvier, and by extension, becoming better partners.u00a0 In some instances, they may be the best partner.

n

Negotiating a term sheet with a strategic investor necessitates a different set of considerations. Namely: the preference for a strategic to facilitate commercial milestones for the startup, a cautious approach to avoid the u201cover-valuationu201d trap, an acute focus on information rights, and the limitation of non-compete provisions.

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Three years ago, I met with a founder who had raised a massive seed round at a valuation that was at least five times the market rate. I asked what firm made the investment…

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Suster”,”slug”:”mark-suster”,”taxonomy”:”post_tag”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags/28953935″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags”],”about”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/taxonomies/post_tag”],”wp:post_type”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts?tags=28953935″,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/battlefield-companies?tags=28953935″,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc-media-gallery?tags=28953935″,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_topic?tags=28953935″,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_video?tags=28953935″],”curies”:[“name”:”wp”,”href”:”https://api.w.org/rel”,”templated”:true]],[],[],[]]}},{“id”:1845202,”date”:”2019-06-18T03:04:29″,”date_gmt”:”2019-06-18T10:04:29″,”guid”:”rendered”:”https://techcrunch.com/?p=1845202″,”modified”:”2019-06-18T06:29:23″,”modified_gmt”:”2019-06-18T13:29:23″,”slug”:”jp-skunkworks”,”status”:”publish”,”type”:”post”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/jp-skunkworks/”,”title”:”rendered”:”Sources: J.P. Morgan working on a secretive digital banking project based out of London”,”content”:”rendered”:”

A number of incumbent banks are known to be developing new digital-first products in a bid to keep the new wave of challenger banks at bay and now it appears that the latest to make that move is J.P. Morgan.

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According to sources, the investment bank has begun recruiting for a secretive skunkworks project within London’s booming fintech industry. Very few details are known about what exactly J.P. Morgan plans to build, although TechCrunch understands the bank is busy hiring high level developers with full-stack and cloud-based dev skills for the new project, along with other personnel.

n

One source tells me that interested candidates are being asked to sign an NDA, and that the project is still in its formative stages. They say the plan is to essentially build a startup within a corporation that will be run independently and entirely separately from J.P. Morgan’s existing technology and businesses. The bank is only hiring for permanent positions rather than contractors in order to keep it “secret,” another source tells me. J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

n

Meanwhile, for the few people I’ve spoken to who have heard about the project there’s speculation that J.P. Morgan is developing a competitor to “Marcus,” the digital bank launched by Goldman Sachs that focuses on savings and offers a competitive interest rate. That would also put it up against challenger banks such as Atom, Tandem and savings marketplace Raisin.

n

However, one source tells me they’ve heard that J.P. Morgan’s skunkworks project could in fact be a much more ambitious cloud-based banking platform on which numerous products can be launched. That would be more akin to a core banking SaaS platform or “AWS for Banking,” along the lines of Starling’s core banking product or Germany’s solarisBank or London’s 11:FS Foundry.

n”,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

A number of incumbent banks are known to be developing new digital-first products in a bid to keep the new wave of challenger banks at bay and now it appears that the latest to make that move is J.P. Morgan. According to sources, the investment bank has begun recruiting for a secretive skunkworks project within […]

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Steve O’Hear is best known as a technology journalist, currently at TechCrunch where he focuses on European startups, companies and products.

nn

He first joined TechCrunch in November 2009 as Contributing Editor for TechCrunch Europe, where he worked alongside Editor Mike Butcher to help build TechCrunch’s coverage in Europe.

nn

In June 2011, Steve took a break from journalism to co-found the London and Prague-based startup Beepl. In his role as CEO, he helped the company raise its first VC round, along with seeing the Question & Answer site through development, private alpha and a high profile public launch. In November 2012, Beepl was acquired by Brand Embassy.

nn

Along with TechCrunch, Steve has written for numerous publications, including ZDNet (where he wrote the well-respected blog ‘The Social Web’), The Guardian, Macworld, TES, Last100 and ReadWriteWeb. He also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Silicon Valley documentary ‘In Search of the Valley’, which was released in September 2006.

nn

In 2002, Steve was made a fellow of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. He’s also one half of ProtoBake Labs, an ‘ideas incubator’ he co-founded with Pete Harris.

nn

Disclaimer: Steve owns a small amount of cryptocurrency, and doesn’t generally write about crypto currencies. If and when he does, he will always disclose any potential conflict of interest.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1452432375/ejtyu0auvnxnmocnllgn.png”,”twitter”:”sohear”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1180458″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”]],”author”:[“id”:1180458,”name”:”Steve O’Hear”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/steve-o-hear/”,”slug”:”steve-o-hear”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/95b8a6df6d265cf57a4d89ee4856ea98?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/95b8a6df6d265cf57a4d89ee4856ea98?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/95b8a6df6d265cf57a4d89ee4856ea98?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”homepage”:”http://www.ohear.net”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/sohear”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/in/ohear”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/steve-ohear”,”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Steve O’Hear is best known as a technology journalist, currently at TechCrunch where he focuses on European startups, companies and products.

nn

He first joined TechCrunch in November 2009 as Contributing Editor for TechCrunch Europe, where he worked alongside Editor Mike Butcher to help build TechCrunch’s coverage in Europe.

nn

In June 2011, Steve took a break from journalism to co-found the London and Prague-based startup Beepl. In his role as CEO, he helped the company raise its first VC round, along with seeing the Question & Answer site through development, private alpha and a high profile public launch. In November 2012, Beepl was acquired by Brand Embassy.

nn

Along with TechCrunch, Steve has written for numerous publications, including ZDNet (where he wrote the well-respected blog ‘The Social Web’), The Guardian, Macworld, TES, Last100 and ReadWriteWeb. He also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Silicon Valley documentary ‘In Search of the Valley’, which was released in September 2006.

nn

In 2002, Steve was made a fellow of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. He’s also one half of ProtoBake Labs, an ‘ideas incubator’ he co-founded with Pete Harris.

nn

Disclaimer: Steve owns a small amount of cryptocurrency, and doesn’t generally write about crypto currencies. If and when he does, he will always disclose any potential conflict of interest.

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is the latest telecom to offer a tracking device that uses LTE”,”content”:”rendered”:”

Following in the footsteps of AT&T and Verizon*, Sprint is now offering an LTE tracker. The matchbook-sized device, simply called Tracker, provides real-time location tracking on Safe + Found app.

n

Sprint Tracker

Sprint’s new Tracker

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The Tracker competes with Tile, but instead of Bluetooth, Sprintu2019s device uses 4G LTE, GPS and Wi-Fi location services, so it can be used to track things, people or pets that might travel a significant distance away, compared to a range of 100 ft to 300 ft for Tile (depending on the version). The Tracker is manufactured by Coolpad and users need to pay $2.50 per month for 24 months to cover the cost of the device, plus an additional $5 per month to connect it.

n

AT&T and Verizon both launched LTE trackers over the past year and Apple is also rumored to be working on a tracking device that connects to iPhones, based on an asset package for pairing devices by proximity spotted in the first beta of iOS 13 by 9to5Mac.

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*Disclosure: TechCrunch is part of Verizon Media, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

n”,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Following in the footsteps of AT&T and Verizon*, Sprint is now offering an LTE tracker. The matchbook-sized device, simply called Tracker, provides real-time location tracking on Safe + Found app. The Tracker competes with Tile, but instead of Bluetooth, Sprintu2019s device uses 4G LTE, GPS and Wi-Fi location services, so it can be used to […]

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Catherine Shu has covered startups in Asia and breaking news for TechCrunch since November 2012. She can be reached at [email protected], @catherineshu on Twitter or keybase.io/catherineshu

nn

Disclosures: None

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1499701930/yaechua6s0xotleevkmd.jpg”,”twitter”:”catherineshu”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/4330449″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”]],”author”:[“id”:4330449,”name”:”Catherine Shu”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/catherine-shu/”,”slug”:”catherine-shu”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/f80a0e0a6502b4ec4f97f5b3bbd6ac25?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/f80a0e0a6502b4ec4f97f5b3bbd6ac25?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/f80a0e0a6502b4ec4f97f5b3bbd6ac25?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”homepage”:”http://techcrunch.com”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/catherineshu”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/catherine-shu”,”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Catherine Shu has covered startups in Asia and breaking news for TechCrunch since November 2012. She can be reached at [email protected], @catherineshu on Twitter or keybase.io/catherineshu

nn

Disclosures: None

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LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES – 2019/02/14: A Sprint store logo seen in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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founders need to decide how much salary is enough”,”content”:”rendered”:”

Startup founders don’t typically launch a company as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most know that it will be a long, hard slog if they are to succeed. There will be lean years where the money is tight, and where they may personally struggle to pay their bills. They do it because they believe in the mission and they want to build a successful company, where, if all goes well, they could end up with a healthy amount of money.

n

But it takes a lot of hard work, long hours, tough times and a bit of luck to find your way through to a successful outcome, however you choose to define that. Early on every dollar you give yourself is money that’s not going into the business, and while you don’t want to starve yourself, neither do you want to run out of money, and those early dollars are especially valuable.

n

While the ultimate goal is a successful exit, not everyone gets there, and it begs the question, how much is fair to take out in the form of salary, especially in the early years when money is tight, and at what point is it reasonable to sell a bit of equity to take some money out of the business and live a more comfortable life. There are no hard and fast answers.

n

Removing financial obstacles

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Startup founders don’t typically launch a company as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most know that it will be a long, hard slog if they are to succeed. There will be lean years where the money is tight, and where they may personally struggle to pay their bills. They do it because they believe in the mission […]

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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won the H-1B lottery: Donu2019t lose your ticket when changing jobs”,”content”:”rendered”:”n

n

Getting an H-1B skilled-worker visa is like winning the lottery u2014 literally: With the number of new visas issued each year capped at 85,000, most of this year’s over 200,000 applicants face disappointment. But if youu2019re already working in the United States, then youu2019ve already won the H-1B lottery, and that makes you a hot commodity.

n

With H-1Bs in short supply, successful companies frequently poach skilled workers. Everyone knows the tech sector thrives on this free exchange of people and ideas, so if another employer needs your skills, why not start working for them?

n

Well, not so fast. H-1B holders can work only for the company that originally sponsored their visa application. So if you want to change employers, youu2019ll need to u201ctransferu201d your H-1B.

n

That process used to be relatively straightforward but not in the Trump era. (Boundless recently underwent this process with an employee, so we understand the pain.) The denial rate for initial H-1B applications spiked over five-fold to 32 percent just in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, up from 6 percent in 2015. Crucially, the Trump administration is targeting u201ccontinuingu201d H-1B applications used by existing employees to either renew their H-1B or switch it to a new employer. Even tech giants like Amazon are now seeing double-digit rejection rates.

n

n

The bottom line: The days of getting an H-1B transfer quickly rubber-stamped are long gone, and that makes it vital to do whatever you can to keep the odds in your favor. The stakes are high u2014 if things go south, you could lose your right to live and work in the United States. Hereu2019s what H-1B holders need to know about the right u2014 and wrong u2014 ways to set about switching employers:

n

Donu2019t take your transfer for granted.

n

First, understand that an H-1B u201ctransferu201d is actually a brand new visa application, not a simple handover of your existing H-1B visa from one employer to another u2014 thereu2019s no such thing.

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Getting an H-1B skilled-worker visa is like winning the lottery u2014 literally: With the number of new visas issued each year capped at 85,000, most of this year’s over 200,000 applicants face disappointment. But if youu2019re already working in the United States, then youu2019ve already won the H-1B lottery, and that makes you a hot commodity.

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top VCs look for in women’s fertility startups”,”content”:”rendered”:”

A number of promising women’s health tech companies have popped up in the last few years, from fertility apps to ovulation bracelets — even Apple has jumped into the subject with the addition of period tracking built into the latest edition of the watch. But there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation in women’s sexual health for decades.

n

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is now a 40-year-old invention and even the top pharmaceutical companies have spent a pittance on research and development. Subjects like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and menopause have taken a backseat to other, more fatal concerns. Fertility is itself oftentimes a mysterious black box as well, though a full 10% of the female population in the United States has difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

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That’s all starting to change as startups are now bringing in millions in venture capital to gather and treat women’s health. While it’s early days (no unicorns just yet) interest in the subject has been jumping steadily higher each year.

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To shine a better light on the importance of tech’s role in spurring more innovation for women’s fertility, we asked five VCs passionate about the space for their investment strategies, including Sarah Cone (Social Impact Capital), Vanessa Larco (NEA), Anu Duggal (Female Founders Fund), Jess Lee (Sequoia) and Nancy Brown (Oak HC/FT).

n

Sarah Cone, Social Impact Capital

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Sarah Cone, Social Impact Capital

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Weu2019re interested in companies that create large data sets in womenu2019s health and fertility, enabling personalized medicine, clinical trial virtualization, better patient outcomes, and the application of modern AI/ML techniques to generate hypotheses that discover new targets and molecules.

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

A number of promising women’s health tech companies have popped up in the last few years, from fertility apps to ovulation bracelets — even Apple has jumped into the subject with the addition of period tracking built into the latest edition of the watch. But there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation in […]

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I write about the wild new frontier of biotechnology (3D printed organs, one drop blood tests, or hamburgers grown in a lab? I’m your gal), also a bit of politics, gender and diversity and sometimes they put me on camera at TechCrunch so send your fun gadgets and gizmos my way.

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I write about the wild new frontier of biotechnology (3D printed organs, one drop blood tests, or hamburgers grown in a lab? I’m your gal), also a bit of politics, gender and diversity and sometimes they put me on camera at TechCrunch so send your fun gadgets and gizmos my way.

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101: Do VC associates matter?”,”content”:”rendered”:”

Building a company is fueled by highs and lows, but one of the few moments of potential ecstasy (or perhaps for grizzled veterans, deep annoyance) is the VC outreach email. You are building your startup on deforming IKEA desks eating frozen dinners when out of nowhere, a major VC firm reaches out and wants to discuss a potential investment.

n

But then you look up your interlocutor online and find that they have that completely enigmatic title of u201cAssociate.u201d Heck, that email may well have been from me over the years.

n

What do you do? Do you connect with someone who may well be working at a prominent firm and try to engage? Do you flat out ignore it? Do you equivocate and delay?

n

In short, do VC associates matter to your fundraise?

n

First, what exactly are associates and what do they do?

n

The best way to understand the work of a venture firm is to look at their actual activities rather than the titles or listed duties of any individual person. On the investment side, there are three main activities: analytics, networking / deal sourcing, and closing.

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Building a company is fueled by highs and lows, but one of the few moments of potential ecstasy (or perhaps for grizzled veterans, deep annoyance) is the VC outreach email. You are building your startup on deforming IKEA desks eating frozen dinners when out of nowhere, a major VC firm reaches out and wants to […]

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Danny is Executive Editor of TechCrunch Extra Crunch, where he covers technology and power. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

nn

His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/kx43q415v57n7kc56gvq”,”twitter”:”dannycrichton”],”replies”:[[“id”:665833,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Marius Chawa”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-14T01:07:47″,”content”:”rendered”:”

totally agree. relationships are everything

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/12/fundraising-101-do-vc-associates-matter/#comment-665833″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”KPUAFPUPYWGEZ5SJBGTYKJIFXY”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/665833″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449″],”id”:665838,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Derek Bittar”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-06-14T02:59:38″,”content”:”rendered”:”

Entrepreneurs need to understand that VCs mean no offenses in having associates in the frontlines. Associates make a GPs work scalable. They are the extension of the GPs work – usually very synergetic. So, beware not to underestimate an associateu2019s influence on an investment decision. Being arrogant may spoil your opportunity, no matter the size of the fund on the other side of the table.

n”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/12/fundraising-101-do-vc-associates-matter/#comment-665838″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”techcrunch”:”avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”COGLA7RR6E5WFXRGQ4WPPHPOXY”,”_links”:”self”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/665838″],”collection”:[“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”],”up”:[“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449″]]],”author”:[“id”:15408904,”name”:”Danny Crichton”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/danny-crichton/”,”slug”:”danny-crichton”,”avatar_urls”:”24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”,”links”:”homepage”:”https://www.dannycrichton.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/dancric”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/dannycrichton”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannycrichton”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/danny-crichton”,”position”:”Editorial Manager”,”cbDescription”:”

Danny is Executive Editor of TechCrunch Extra Crunch, where he covers technology and power. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

nn

His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

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future of car ownership: Building an online dealership”,”content”:”rendered”:”

Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot.

n

For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car buying. It’s clear these startups are the underdog in this fight. Most consumers buy cars the same way as their grandparents did and for good reason. Dealerships nationwide fought for years to enact laws and regulations that protect their businesses.

n

Several young companies are attempting to put the dealership online. Companies like Carvana, Shift, Vroom and Joydrive are putting the entire car buying process online, allowing customers to buy, trade-in and even test drive vehicles without talking to a salesman in an oversized golf pullover.

n

In the next part of this series, weu2019ll look at companies like Fair that are moving consumers away from purchasing and into short-term leases. Even automakers are trying something new. Tesla sells directly to consumers while Volvo, BMW, Mercedes and others are launching subscription options to give owners even more flexibility.

n

The three new dealerships

n

n

Several companies are building online car dealerships. Shoppers find and buy a vehicle solely through these sites, and often, the cars are delivered to the buyer. These online dealerships even take trade-ins.

n

Three services dominate this space, and they were all founded in 2013. Carvana, Shift, and Vroom hit the market at the same time but have experienced different paths. One thing is clear though: it takes hundreds of millions of venture capital money to build an online dealership.

n

Emily Melton, co-founder and managing partner, Threshold Ventures (formally known as DFJ Ventures), points to consumeru2019s changing expectations and an optimized process across all kinds of vehicles. She co-led Shiftu2019s Series A in 2014.

n

“,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot. For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car […]

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Matt is a Managing Editor at TechCrunch.

nn

He started at TechCrunch as a freelance writer in 2008 and moved up the ranks to become the Managing Editor in early 2017. Born and raised in the heart of the automotive world, he has a special place in his heart for mobility startups and gadgets.

nn

At TechCrunch he manages the editorial side of the company’s events including TechCrunch Disrupt, TechCrunch Sessions and the company’s various worldwide events. Previously he was a freelance writer at Engadget and EngadgetHD where he hosted podcasts until he was removed from that role after saying a swear word. He’s very sorry and promises it won’t happen again.

nn

His passions include emails, run-on sentences and following through with action items developed during a conference call. And woodwork.

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Matt is a Managing Editor at TechCrunch.

nn

He started at TechCrunch as a freelance writer in 2008 and moved up the ranks to become the Managing Editor in early 2017. Born and raised in the heart of the automotive world, he has a special place in his heart for mobility startups and gadgets.

nn

At TechCrunch he manages the editorial side of the company’s events including TechCrunch Disrupt, TechCrunch Sessions and the company’s various worldwide events. Previously he was a freelance writer at Engadget and EngadgetHD where he hosted podcasts until he was removed from that role after saying a swear word. He’s very sorry and promises it won’t happen again.

nn

His passions include emails, run-on sentences and following through with action items developed during a conference call. And woodwork.

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Truecaller, an app best known for helping users screen calls from strangers and spammers, is adding yet another feature to its service as it bolsters its super app status. The Stockholm-based firm said today that its app can now be used to place free VoIP-powered voice calls.

n

The company told TechCrunch on Tuesday that it has started to roll out the free voice calling feature to its Android users. It expects the rollout to reach all Android users in the coming days. The feature, which currently only supports calls between two users, will arrive on its iOS app soon.

n

In emerging markets such as India, where 100 million of Truecaller’s 140 million users live, free voice calls has been a long-sought after feature. Until late 2016, voice calls were fairly expensive in India, with telecom operators counting revenue from traditional calls as their biggest profit generator.

n

But in last two and a half years, things have changed dramatically for hundreds of millions of people in India after Reliance Jio, a telecom operator owned by Indiau2019s richest man Mukesh Ambani, launched its network with free voice calls and low-priced data services. Reliance Jio has already amassed over 300 million users to become one of the top three telcos in the nation.

n

Yet, the quality of network still leaves much to be desired in India as traditional calls drop abruptly and run into quality issues more often than one would like. Truecaller said that its voice calls rely on data services — mobile data and Wi-Fi — and claimed that they can work swiftly even on patchy network.

n

The addition of voice calling functionality comes as Truecaller aggressively looks to expand its business. The service, which offers both ad-support free tier and subscription bundle, has added messaging, mobile payments, and call recording features in recent years. Earlier this year, it also added a crediting option, allowing users in India to borrow a few hundred dollars.

n

A representative with the company said Truecaller began exploring the free voice calling feature a few months ago. It began testing the new functionality with alpha and beta test group users four weeks ago. It now plans to introduce group voice calling support soon, the company said.

n

With the new feature, Truecaller now competes even more closely with WhatsApp . The Facebook-owned app has become ubiquitous in India with more than three-quarters of Indiau2019s smartphone base using the app. WhatsApp added voice calling feature to its app in 2015. Last year, Facebook said users around the world were spending 2 billion minutes per day on WhatsApp video and audio calls.

n”,”protected”:false,”excerpt”:”rendered”:”

Truecaller, an app best known for helping users screen calls from strangers and spammers, is adding yet another feature to its service as it bolsters its super app status. The Stockholm-based firm said today that its app can now be used to place free VoIP-powered voice calls. The company told TechCrunch on Tuesday that it […]

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Prior to this, he wrote for VentureBeat, CNBC, The Outline, CNET, and Mashable. 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