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Original Content podcast: The new ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ special is pointlessly interactive

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In many ways, Netflix’s new “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” special “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” is a delight.

For fans of the show, it’s a chance to catch up with Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), Titus (Titus Burgess) and all their other friends/nemeses on the eve of Kimmy’s wedding to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe).

Creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey (along with a team of writers), deliver their usual barrage of delightful jokes, and even if you aren’t fully caught up, the special more-or-less stands on its own, pitting Kimmy against her old captor Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) as she searches for a hidden bunker of trapped girls.

And if this was just an hour of regular “Kimmy Schmidt,” your Original Content podcast hosts might have nothing but praise. instead, “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” adopts the same interactive format as the “Black Mirror” episode “Bandersnatch,” with viewers moving through a branching narrative based on their own choices.

The new special isn’t quite as maddening as “Bandersnatch,” — the underlying story is stronger, with fewer frustrating dead ends, and the writers play with the format in some fun ways. But it’s still hard to escape the feeling that the interactivity is mostly a pointless distraction.

Before we get to the review, we also discuss the news that HBO Max will be debut Zack Snyder’s legendary (or infamous) cut of “Justice League” and look at how reality TV has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

If you want to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:42 “Waco” listener response
3:24 “Justice League” discussion
14:04 Reality TV discussion
19:48 “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” review
35:22 “Kimmy vs. the Reverend” spoilers

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/23/original-content-kimmy-vs-the-reverend/

Publications

Pricefx raises $65M Series C for its cloud-based pricing software

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Pricefx, the Munich-founded startup that offers cloud-based pricing software, has raised $65 million in Series C funding.

The round was led by funds advised by Apax Digital, the growth equity team of Apax Partners, with participation from existing investor Digital+ Partners. It brings the company’s total raise to date to $130 million.

Pricefx says it will use the new funding for further expansion and to consolidate its “leadership position” within the SaaS pricing industry. It will also invest in product innovation, extend its partner ecosystem, and consider making strategic acquisitions.

Founded in 2011, Pricefx provides a modular SaaS solution for price optimisation management (PO&M) and configure-price-quote (CPQ) for enterprises of any size.

Pricing optimisation software typically helps companies accurately define the price of goods across a vast and constantly changing spectrum of data and variables. This can include things like customer survey data and segments, competitor data, operating costs, inventories, and historic prices and sales.

CPQ software aggregates these variables, thus enabling companies to configure products or services in the most optimal way (i.e. bundling, up-sells, etc.), and price them according to costs, competition and local economic factors.

In May, Pricefx acquired French market leader Brennus Analytics, which adding AI capabilities to its pricing optimization solution.

To that end, Pricefx notes that SaaS solutions and pricing software in particular has faced increased demand since pandemic measures forced companies to “rapidly address” digital transformation and are looking for ways to become more competitive in a downturn. As a result, Pricefx says it has signed more than a dozen new customer deals since March of this year.

“Pricing is being recognized as a critical competency for global enterprises and Pricefx is leading the way for a SaaS-based approach,” says Marcin Cichon, CEO and co-founder of Pricefx, in a statement. “This investment from Apax confirms Pricefx’s resilience, ability to grow its customer base, and innovate – even during challenging times. This investment will further power our global commercial strategy and aggressive product innovation, by attracting critical talent, expanding our growing ecosystem of partners, and enabling further potential strategic acquisitions – all in pursuit of our mission to bring pricing solutions to as many companies as we can, as simply and effectively as possible”.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/14/pricefx-series-c/

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Publications

Liteboxer, the Peloton for boxing, enters the ring

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In the vein of increasingly popular at-home connected fitness machines like Peloton, Mirror, and Hydrow, boxing fans now have an option when it comes to getting a good workout in at home.

Cofounded by Jeff Morin (CEO) and Todd Dagres (Chairman), Liteboxer is launching today with a platform that was built from the ground up to give users the chance to get an exciting boxing workout at home.

Dagres, cofounder and General Partner at Spark Capital, came up with the idea for Liteboxer after falling in love with boxing with a trainer in a gym. It was incredibly difficult to replicate that workout at home with a heavy bag, said Dagres.

“I only was able to work out with a trainer once a week, and once a week is not good enough as we all know,” said Dagres. “So I tried to replicate the workout at home and I bought a heavy bag. It was just a dismal experience for me. It was so boring. If I could get myself to do it, it was a good cardio workout. It just was tedious and unpleasant. The bag is just sitting there, and it’s not doing anything to you so you kind of feel guilty punching it.”

Heavy bags also require a suspension system, and can often be messy with weight provided by sand or water. Liteboxer is a free-standing replacement for the heavy bag, which is equipped with a lighting system that guides the user through a workout of their choice.

The lights aren’t random. Liteboxer works with expert boxing trainers to provide a guided workout, which is led both by the lights and by voice/music via an app that can run on iOS or Android. The unit is also equipped with force sensors to give users metrics around force, timing, and accuracy on their workout, allowing them to see their progress over time.

Like Peloton or other connected fitness devices, Liteboxer comes at an up-front cost for the hardware and a recurring cost for access to the content. The free-standing unit, which is available for pre-order now, costs $1,495, while the all-you-can-eat subscription costs $29/month.

There are several different modes on the content side, including a Training Camp that gets users familiar with the system and how it works. On the other end of the spectrum, there are expert-guided boxing sessions. But, perhaps most interestingly, there is a level in between the two called Quick Play. Quick Play uses a patented Rhythm Technology to match the system up to the beat of a song. This gives the user the flexibility to say they’d like to go for one or three or five rounds, and simply box along with the beat of the music, allowing for a bit of customization when it comes to the general length of a workout.

Plus, Liteboxer offers the ability to challenge friends to the same workout as you, allowing you to see the results side by side.

The most important goal for Dagres and Morin is to create a habit among users.

“Not only do you get stronger, but this is also a mental exercise and a huge stress reliever,” said Dagres. “It helps with your mental acuity, and it’s more than just a cardio machine type of thing. So we want people to be habitual about it.”

He added that the goal is to get users on the platform three times a week, saying that you can get massive results in a few months on that schedule. The key to delivering those results, however, is habitual engagement. Dagres explained that the music-based rounds, the leveling up with trainers, and the social challenges are elements that encourage that habit.

Liteboxer has raised a total of $6 million in funding, with $2 million coming from a friends and family round, and $4 million coming from a seed round led by Will Ventures (the fund led by former NFL player Isaiah Kacyvenski). Other investors include Raptor Capital and Camros Capital.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/14/liteboxer-the-peloton-for-boxing-enters-the-ring/

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India’s Flipkart secures $1.2 billion from Walmart and other shareholders

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Walmart is increasing its stake in Flipkart by leading an additional $1.2 billion financing round in the Indian e-commerce giant. The fresh equity round from Walmart, which acquired majority stake in Flipkart for $16 billion two years ago, values Flipkart at $24.9 billion post-money, the two companies said.

The American retail group said the fresh capital would help Flipkart, which was valued at $20.8 billion two years ago, further grow its e-commerce marketplace in India as the world’s second largest internet market begins to recover from Covid-19 crisis. A group of other existing investors also participated in the new financing round, a Flipkart spokesperson told TechCrunch but declined to identify them individually.

“We’re grateful for the strong backing of our shareholders as we continue to build our platform and serve the growing needs of Indian consumers during these challenging times,” said Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy in a statement.

“Since Walmart’s initial investment in Flipkart, we have greatly expanded our offer through technology, partnerships and new services. Today, we lead in electronics and fashion, and are rapidly accelerating share in other general merchandise categories and grocery, all while providing increasingly seamless payment and delivery options for our customers. We will continue innovating to bring the next 200 million Indian shoppers online,” he added.

Flipkart, which competes with Amazon in India, said its monthly active customers figure surged 45% in the financial year that ended in March this year, compared to the year before, and these customers are making 30% more transactions. The 13-year-old firm said it recently surpassed 1.5 billion visits per month.

The new capital infusion comes at a time when a new, powerful player has started to make a play in the Indian e-commerce market. JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail (India’s largest retail chain) and Jio Platforms (India’s largest telecom operator), launched earlier this year in select sub urban areas of Mumbai and has since expanded to more than 200 cities and towns across the nation.

More to follow…

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/14/walmart-invests-additional-1-2-billion-in-indias-flipkart-to-increase-stake/

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