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In Richmond, Va., Protestors Transform A Confederate Statue

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Ballerinas Kennedy George, 14, and Ava Holloway, 14, pose in front of a monument of Confederate general Robert E. Lee after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered its removal after widespread civil unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Richmond, Va., on June 5. Julia Rendleman/Reuters hide caption

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Julia Rendleman/Reuters

Ballerinas Kennedy George, 14, and Ava Holloway, 14, pose in front of a monument of Confederate general Robert E. Lee after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered its removal after widespread civil unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Richmond, Va., on June 5.

Julia Rendleman/Reuters

Confederate monuments in the former capital of the Confederacy are being transformed into a new kind of icon as activists alter and pose for photos at the statues, one of which is at the center of a legal fight over its planned removal.

In recent days, photos have emerged online of teenage ballerinas dancing, activists holding flags and posing victoriously, and families gathering at the base of a statue to Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Confederate memorials in Richmond, Va. – now covered in graffiti including anti-racist slogans and messages.

Gregory Carden, 38, a Richmond hip hop artist known as Radio B, was among a group of artists, producers, and writers from the local hip hop community who gathered to pose this week in front of the Lee statue.

When he recently posed there for an upcoming album cover, he said, it was the closest he’d ever been to the monument.

“What struck me about that was how massive of a structure it was, how detailed it was,” Carden said. “There was a lot of money and a lot of manpower and a lot of symbolism that went into creating that monument … how much effort and how much care was put into the meaning of what that was there for, which was the oppression of my people.”

Carden sees the writing on the monument — which includes the names of black people killed in police custody — as a way of transforming the monument.

“For some people it looks like destruction; to me it looks like art,” he said.

Another local hip hop artist, Rob Fields, 37, said he hopes the protest movement and calls for removal of white supremacist symbols will lead to political and systemic changes to address racial injustice.

Richmond hip hop artist Rob Fields, known as Black Liq, poses in front of the Lee statue. Robert Cole hide caption

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Robert Cole

Richmond hip hop artist Rob Fields, known as Black Liq, poses in front of the Lee statue.

Robert Cole

“I want people to not care about whether or not there’s a statue. I want people to focus on … how we create longstanding change,” he said. “If this is the tip of the iceberg, we cannot let the tip be more important than the actual iceberg itself.”

Many activists are expressing hope that the removal of Confederate symbols will be more than symbolic.

Matthew Barbour, who’s 30 and works in finance, recently posed in front of the Lee monument in all black, in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement. He said he was pleased to see activists of all racial identities gathering around the statue to protest — and pose — in recent days.

“The standing in front of it, the dancing — it symbolizes a level of freedom that black people have never had before,” Barbour said. “As African Americans, it’s freeing us to be able to connect with our counterparts, white people. I don’t want to sit there and talk to you about the Lee monument all the time; we need to be able to go forward and talk about something else without that being in the background.”

People gather around the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., on June 4, amid continued protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images

People gather around the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., on June 4, amid continued protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images

The statue has also become a gathering place for families, who come to document the moment together. Abriana Northington-Winston, 15, lives with her family outside Richmond. They chose the giant statue as an unlikely spot to celebrate her older brother’s high school graduation; he posed in his cap and gown.

“It’s in our DNA to persevere,” Northington-Winston said. “All these obstacles thrown at us — we take something negative and turn it into something positive, something beautiful, something that represents our past and our future to come.”

Families gather at the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Richmond, Va., on June 7, following a week of unrest in the U.S. against police brutality and racism in policing. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Families gather at the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Richmond, Va., on June 7, following a week of unrest in the U.S. against police brutality and racism in policing.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Northington-Winston said she hopes to see the statue itself come down, but she’d like to see the pedestal, covered in anti-racist messages, remain in place.

The Lee monument has stood for 130 years. In response to nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said it was time for the statue to come down.

That announcement has prompted lawsuits from Virginians who say the monument is part of the commonwealth’s history and should remain in place, including a man who described himself as a descendant of one of its donors. The lawsuit says the commonwealth promised to “affectionately protect” and guard the statue.

Already, groups of protesters in the city have removed monuments to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who is known for his legacy of violence against indigenous people. Nationwide, there’s a growing movement to remove Confederate statues and rename sites honoring the Confederacy.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/12/876124924/in-richmond-va-protestors-transform-a-confederate-statue?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news

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Google Assistant’s driving mode for Android is nearly ready, one year later

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Google Assistant driving mode on Android
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Google promised an Assistant driving mode for phones would arrive in mid-2019, but that clearly didn’t happen — over a year passed without any sign of it. It appears to be ready, though. XDA-Developers has discovered (via Android Police) that Google Assistant’s driving mode is at least partially enabled for Android users. The interface has changed considerably from the I/O 2019 demo you see above, but the concept remains the same with large buttons and text that let you chat, message and play music while keeping your driving distractions to a minimum.

The rollout appears to be server-side, and might be part of a test. It’s not attached to any particular versions of Google’s Maps or search apps, and also works on a variety of devices. Your access might depend on your account.

We’ve asked Google for comment.

It’s rare for Google to have Android feature delays this long, and it’s not certain what prompted the extended wait. However, the redesign suggests that Google wasn’t completely satisfied with the Assistant driving mode it showed at I/O. Whatever the reasoning, this gives you one more way to handle common tasks during your trips.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/google-assistant-driving-mode-215249421.html

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Cloud leak exposed sensitive data from over 200,000 voicemails

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Some data leaks contain more sensitive info than most. Security researcher Bob Diachenko and Comparitech discovered (via Threatpost) that Broadvoice, a cloud VoIP provider for businesses, left over 350 million records exposed online in an unprotected cluster, including 2 million voicemail records with 200,000 transcripts. Many of those transcripts included sensitive data, and not just common elements like names and phone numbers — medical conditions, mortgages and insurance policies were all left open.

The largest general data collection, 275 million records, typically included full names, phone numbers, and cities.

The company told Comparitech that the data had been stored on September 28th and was locked down October 2nd, a day after Diachenko notified Broadvoice. There hasn’t been evidence of “misuse” so far, the company said. Marketing VP Rebecca Rosen told Threatpost that it believed “less than 10,000” businesses were impacted, although that doesn’t say how many of those companies’ customers were at risk.

The practical damage appears to have been limited as a result. Even so, this illustrates the dangers of insecure data. The wrong decision can expose vast amounts of info, and it can only take a subset of that data to create serious problems.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/broadvoice-voicemail-data-leak-211913573.html

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VCs reload ahead of the election as unicorns power ahead

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This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.

It was an active week in the technology world broadly, with big news from Facebook and Twitter and Apple. But past the headline-grabbing noise, there was a steady drumbeat of bullish news for unicorns, or private companies worth $1 billion or more.

A bullish week for unicorns

The Exchange spent a good chunk of the week looking into different stories from unicorns, or companies that will soon fit the bill, and it’s surprising to see how much positive financial news there was on tap even past what we got to write about.

Databricks, for example, disclosed a grip of financial data to TechCrunch ahead of regular publication, including the fact that it grew its annual run rate (not ARR) to $350 million by the end of Q3 2020, up from $200 million in Q2 2019. It’s essentially IPO ready, but is not hurrying to the public markets.

Sticking to our theme, Calm wants more money for a huge new valuation, perhaps as high as $2.2 billion which is not a surprise. That’s more good unicorn news. As was the report that “India’s Razorpay [became a] unicorn after its new $100 million funding round” that came out this week.

Razorpay is only one of a number of Indian startups that have become unicorns during COVID-19. (And here’s another digest out this week concerning a half-dozen startups that became unicorns “amidst the pandemic.”)

There was enough good unicorn news lately that we’ve lost track of it all. Things like Seismic raising $92 million, pushing its valuation up to $1.6 billion from a few weeks ago. How did that get lost in the mix?

All this matters because while the IPO market has captured much attention in the last quarter or so, the unicorn world has not sat still. Indeed, it feels that unicorn VC activity is the highest we’ve seen since 2019.

And, as we’ll see in just a moment, the grist for the unicorn mill is getting refilled as we speak. So, expect more of the same until something material breaks our current investing and exit pattern.

Market Notes

What do unicorns eat? Cash. And many, many VCs raised cash in the last seven days.

A partial list follows. It could be that investors are looking to lock in new funds before the election and whatever chaos may ensue. So, in no particular order, here’s who is newly flush:

All that capital needs to go to work, which means lots more rounds for many, many startups. The Exchange also caught up with a somewhat new firm this week: Race Capital. Helmed by Alfred Chuang, formerly or BEA who is an angel investor now in charge of his own fund, the firm has $50 million to invest.

Sticking to private investments into startups for the moment, quite a lot happened this week that we need to know more about. Like API-powered Argyle raising $20 million from Bain Capital Ventures for what FinLedger calls “unlocking and democratizing access to employment records.” TechCrunch is currently tracking the progress of API-led startups.

On the fintech side of things, M1 Finance raised $45 million for its consumer fintech platform in a Series C, while another roboadvisor, Wealthsimple, raised $87 million, becoming a unicorn at the same time. And while we’re in the fintech bucket, Stripe dropped $200 million this week for Nigerian startup Paystack. We need to pay more attention to the African startup scene. On the smaller end of fintech, Alpaca raised $10 million more to help other companies become Robinhood.

A few other notes before we change tack. Kahoot raised $215 million due to a boom in remote education, another trend that is inescapable in 2020 as part of the larger edtech boom (our own Natasha Mascarenhas has more).

Turning from the private market to the public, we have to touch on SPACs for just a moment. The Exchange got on the phone this week with Toby Russell from Shift, which is now a public company, trading after it merged with a SPAC, namely Insurance Acquisition Corp. Early trading is only going so well, but the CEO outlined for us precisely why he pursued a SPAC, which was actually interesting:

  • Shift could have gone public via an IPO, Russell said, but prioritized a SPAC-led debut because his firm wanted to optimize for a capital raise to keep the company growing.
  • How so? The private investment in public equity (PIPE) that the SPAC option came with ensured that Shift would have hundreds of millions in cash.
  • Shift also wanted to minimize what the CEO described as market risk. A SPAC deal could happen regardless of what the broader markets were up to. And as the company made the choice to debut via a SPAC in April, some caution, we reckon, may have made some sense.

So now Shift is public and newly capitalized. Let’s see what happens to its shares as it gets into the groove of reporting quarterly. (Obviously, if it flounders, it’s a bad mark for SPACs, but, conversely, successful trading could lead to a bit more momentum to SPAC-mageddon.)

A few more things and we’re done. Unicorn exits had a good week. First, Datto’s IPO continues to move forward. It set an initial price this week, which could value it above $4 billion. Also this week, Roblox announced that it has filed to go public, albeit privately. It’s worth billions as well. And finally, DoubleVerify is looking to go public for as much as $5 billion early next year.

Not all liquidity comes via the public markets, as we saw this week’s Twilio purchase of Segment, a deal that The Exchange dug into to find out if it was well-priced or not.

Various and Sundry

We’re running long naturally, so here are just a few quick things to add to your weekend mental tea-and-coffee reading!

Next week we are digging more deeply into Q3 venture capital data, a foretaste of which you can find here, regarding female founders, a topic that we returned to Friday in more depth.

Alex

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/17/vcs-reload-ahead-of-the-election-as-unicorns-power-ahead/

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