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Twitter shuttering NY, SF offices in response to new CDC guidelines

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Just two weeks after reopening its New York and San Francisco offices, social media giant Twitter said Wednesday that it will be closing those offices “immediately.”

The decision came “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions,” a spokesperson said.

“Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately. We’re continuing to closely monitor local conditions and make necessary changes that prioritize the health and safety of our Tweeps,” the spokesperson added.

The company initially just reopened those offices on July 12. It declined to reveal headcount per office.

The CDC this week recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant.

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater reported that Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work on-site. It was part of a larger letter sent to Google/Alphabet staff that also noted the company will be extending its work-from-home policy through October 18, as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through the global population.

In a message to TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of People, Lori Goler, confirmed a similar policy for the social media behemoth.

Amazon also responded to TechCrunch’s inquiry on the matter, noting, “We strongly encourage Amazon employees and contractors to be vaccinated as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to them.”

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/twitter-shuttering-ny-sf-offices-in-response-to-new-cdc-guidelines/

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How to meet the demand of EV infrastructure and maintain a stable grid

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As electric vehicles (EVs) become the new standard, charging infrastructure will become a commonplace detail blending into the landscape, available in a host of places from a range of providers: privately run charging stations, the office parking lot, home garages and government-provided locations to fill in the gaps. We need a new energy blueprint for the United States in order to maintain a stable grid to support this national move to EV charging.

The Biden administration announced 500,000 charging stations to be installed nationally and additional energy storage to facilitate the shift to EVs. Integrating all of this new infrastructure and transitioning requires balancing the traffic on the grid and managing increased energy demand that stretches beyond power lines and storage itself.

The majority of EV infrastructure pulls its power from the grid, which will add significant demand when it reaches scale. In an ideal situation, EV charging stations will have their own renewable power generation co-located with storage, but new programs and solutions are needed in order to make it available everywhere. A range of scenarios for how renewables can be used to power EV charging have been piloted in the U.S. in recent years. Eventually, EVs will likely even provide power to the grid.

These technological advances will happen as we progress through the energy transition; regardless, EV infrastructure will heavily rely on the U.S. grid. That makes coordination across a range of stakeholders and behavior change among the general public essential for keeping the grid stable while meeting energy demand.

The White House’s fact sheet for EV charging infrastructure points to a technical blueprint that the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute will be working on together. It is critical that utilities, energy management and storage stakeholders, and the general public be included in planning — here’s why.

Stakeholder collaboration

Charging infrastructure is currently fragmented in the U.S. Much of it is privatized and there are complaints that unless you drive a Tesla, it is hard to find charging while on the road. Some EV owners have even returned to driving gas-powered vehicles. There’s reason to be hopeful that this will rapidly change.

ChargePoint and EVgo are two companies that will likely become household names as their EV networks expand. A coalition made up of some of the largest U.S. utilities — including American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority — called the Electric Highway Coalition, announced plans for a regional network of charging stations spanning their utility territories.

Networks that swap out private gas stations for EV charging is one piece of the puzzle. We also need to ensure that everyone has affordable access and that charging times are staggered — this is one of the core concerns on every stakeholder’s mind. Having charging available in a range of places spreads out demand, helping keep power available and the grid balanced.

Varying consumer needs including location and housing, work schedules and economic situations require considerations and new solutions that make EVs and charging accessible to everyone. What works in the suburbs won’t suit rural or urban areas, and just imagine someone who works the night shift in a dense urban area.

Biden’s plan includes, “$4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will help increase the feasibility of [plug-in electric vehicle] ownership for consumers in underserved communities.” Partnerships and creative solutions will equally be needed.

An opportunity to fully engage technologies we already have

“Fifty percent of the reductions we have to make to get to net-zero by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have,” John Kerry said recently, causing a stir. He later clarified that we also have technologies now that we need to put to work, which received less air time. In reality, we are just getting started in utilizing existing renewable and energy transition technologies; we have yet to realize their full potential.

Currently, utility-scale and distributed energy storage are used for their most simplistic capabilities, that is, jumping in when energy demand reaches its peak and helping keep the grid stable through services referred to as balancing and frequency regulation. But as renewable energy penetration increases and loads such as EVs are electrified, peak demand will be exacerbated.

The role that storage plays for EV charging stations seems well understood. On-site storage is used daily to provide power for charging cars at any given time. Utility-scale storage has the same capabilities and can be used to store and then supply renewable power to the grid in large quantities every day to help balance the demand of EVs.

A stable power system for EVs combines utilities and utility-scale storage with a network of subsystems where energy storage is co-located with EV charging. All of the systems are coordinated and synchronized to gather and dispatch energy at different times of the day based on all the factors that affect grid stability and the availability of renewable power. That synchronization is handled by intelligent energy management software that relies on sophisticated algorithms to forecast and respond to changes within fractions of a second.

This model also makes it possible to manage the cost of electricity and EV demand on the grid. Those subsystems could be municipal-owned locations in lower-income areas. Such a subsystem would collect power in its storage asset and set the price locally on its own terms. These systems could incentivize residents to power up there at certain times of the day in order to make charging more affordable by providing an alternative to the real-time cost of electricity during peak demand when using a home outlet, for example.

Behavior change

The greatest challenge for utilities will be how to manage EV loads and motivate people to stagger charging their vehicles, rather than everyone waiting until they are home in the evening during off-peak renewable generation periods. If everyone plugged in at the same time, we’d end up cooking dinner in the dark.

While there’s been talk of incentivizing the public to charge at different times and spread out demand, motivators vary among demographics. With the ability to charge at home and skip a trip to the “gas station” — or “power station,” as it may be referred to in the future — many people will choose convenience over cost.

The way we currently operate, individual energy usage seems like an independent, isolated event to consumers and households. EVs will require everyone — from utilities and private charging stations to consumers — to be more aware of demand on the grid and act more as communities sharing energy.

Thus, a diverse charging network alone won’t solve the issue of overtaxing the grid. A combination of a new blueprint for managing energy on the grid plus behavior change is needed.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/19/how-to-meet-the-demand-of-ev-infrastructure-and-maintain-a-stable-grid/

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User’s Guide to TechCrunch Disrupt 2021

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TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 approaches in just three days. Here’s your how-to guide for everything you can expect at Disrupt.

Although the main show kicks off on Tuesday the 21st, there’ll be some sneak peeks and extras going down on Monday. Make sure to log in to Hopin by noon on Monday to catch it all, including a special series of speed networking sessions, where one attendee from each session will be selected to receive a limited edition TechCrunch Disrupt swag bag. All sessions are in Pacific Standard Time. 

Monday, September 20 – Networking Sessions

  • 12:30pm – 1:00pm PST: Peer to Peer: Investors:
    Connect with the Disrupt community of investors to share connections, insights, and expertise.
  • 1:00pm – 1:30pm PST: Peer to Peer: Early Stage Founders:
    Meet the founders also launching at Disrupt to share insights and grow your support network
  • 1:30pm – 2:00pm PST: The Full Stack:
    Meet the data analysts, engineers, hackers, data scientists, and software developers that power your tech.
  • 2:00pm – 2:30pm PST: BIPOC & Women of Disrupt:
    We invite all women and BIPOC (and all allies) attending Disrupt to join us for this roundup to inspire one another and grow your network.
  • 2:30pm – 3:00pm PST: B2B2Connect:
    Are you working on products that make it easier for businesses to thrive? Meet and share ideas with the SaaS and Enterprise community.
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm PST: DNA/Tech
    : Meet the scientists who are using technology and engineering to produce advancements in health and biology. 
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm PST: Planet/Impact:
    Passionate about making an impact on our planet? Join this networking session focused on sustainability, greentech, and cleantech projects.    
  • 4:00pm – 4:30pm PST: MoneyMatters:
    Network with the power brokers changing the face of financial services, banking and crypto. 
  • 4:30pm – 5:00pm PST: Actuator:
    Discover the builders automating our lives with robotics and hardware alongside the scientists creating the artificial intelligence that powers it all.
  • 5:00pm – 5:30pm PST: The Station:
    Share insights with people pushing the boundaries of mobility including drone technology, autonomous vehicles, and transportation.

The Stages
There are two main stages at Disrupt – the Disrupt Stage and the Extra Crunch stage. The Disrupt Stage features interviews and panels with the biggest names in tech, plus Startup Battlefield. The Extra Crunch stage is chock full of how-to lessons specifically for founders. The full agenda is here.

Breakout Sessions
Beyond the main stages at Disrupt, you can take in smaller, interactive gatherings that pack a lot of advice, insight, and value — with plenty of time to get answers to your pressing questions. Plus, you just need an Expo Pass to get in front of these sessions. Missing your access? Grab an Expo Pass free here until Monday. All sessions are in Pacific Standard Time. 

Tuesday

  • 9:00 am – 9:50 am: Revolutionizing the Global Metaverse Economy with VCoin
  • 9:00 am – 9:50 am: The $49B Developer Landscape with Dell
  • 10:00am – 10:30am: You Complete Me with Mambu
  • 11:00am – 11:30am: Saving Lives with Precision Biology, Mayfield
  • 11:00am – 11:30am: The Dark Matter of Workflows: Business Technology’s Big Opportunity with Wrike
  • 11:35am – 11:55am: Taking Care of the Next Generation with Mayfield
  • 12:00pm – 12:50pm: Powering What’s Next: Insights from the Enterprise Software Market with Vista Equity Partners
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Demo Derby – How startups are disrupting the status quo with innovative data analytics, AI and modern app development with Google Cloud
  • 2:00pm – 2:50pm: Thrive with an Untethered Workforce with Velocity Global

Wednesday

  • 9:00am – 9:30am: Belgian Startup Pitch Competition hosted by hub.brussels 
  • 9:00am – 9:50am: TTA Taiwan Pavilion Pitch-Off Session – Healthcare and Enterprise
  • 10:00am – 10:50am:  Achieve Sustainable IT with Prometheus, Grafana, and Hardware Sentry
  • 11:00am – 11:33am: Korea Pavilion Pitch Session – Hosted by KOTRA
  • 11:00am – 11:50am: Hacking US Healthcare: How a Simple Platform Can Help Solve Some of America’s Most Complex Healthcare Problems with Cedar Cares
  • 12:00pm – 12:50pm: Accelerate your growth using agile market research throughout the product lifecycle with Momentive.ai
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Securing your journey to IPO from the start with Diligent
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Accelerating your direct-to-consumer business with Google
  • 2:00pm – 2:50pm: How to approach fundraising from Corporate VCs with Intuit

Thursday

  • 9:00am – 9:55am: How to build a remote-first engineering culture with Remote
  • 10:00am – 10:50am: TTA Taiwan Pavilion Pitch-off Session – Smart Tech
  • 11:00am – 11:55am: The Moore’s law of software – onboarding time, with Flatfile
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Top Japanese Startups pitch their exciting new tech! Come watch the live JETRO pitch session
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Using Visual Communication to Build Your Startup’s Brand with Canva

Roundtable sessions
One thing Disrupt attendees have enjoyed the most at our events are meaningful small-group discussions. Join us for these intimate virtual conversations around fundraising, security, hiring and general founder issues. These special sessions have capped attendance limits to keep the conversations small, so make sure to get there early to save a seat. 

Tuesday

  • 11:00am – 11:30am: How Netflix Saved Cybersecurity with Cyvatar
  • 2:30pm – 3:00pm: CISO2CISO: On the Wrong Side of Disruption with Cyvatar
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: The toughest founder problems with Neesha Tambe, TechCrunch

Wednesday

  • 11:30am – 12:00pm: Why Can’t We Stop Ransomware? with Cyvatar
  • 1:00pm – 1:30pm: Startup Hiring Woes with Eric Eldon, TechCrunch
  • 2:45pm – 3:15pm: Fundraising Challenges with Jordan Crook, TechCrunch

Thursday

  • 10:00am – 10:30am: Startup Hiring Woes with Eric Eldon, TechCrunch
  • 12:00pm – 12:30pm: Fundraising Challenges with Jordan Crook, TechCrunch

Partner Sessions
With so much going on during the conference, it’s hard to pick what we’re most excited about. Make sure not to miss these super interesting partner sessions on the Extra Crunch Stage.

Tuesday

  • 9:45am – 10:05am: Bioplatforms for Saving the Planet with Mayfield
  • 10:45am – 11:05am: So You Want to Build a Space Business? With The Aerospace Corporation
  • 12:25pm – 12:45pm: The Inaugural Connection I.T. Superheroes Awards category winners
  • 1:25pm – 1:45pm: How Circle’s $4.5B Public Listing Will Change Startup Fundraising with SeedInvest
  • 2:25pm – 2:45pm: Humanizing AI: How Brands Are Revolutionizing Customer Experience in an increasingly Digital World with Soul Machines

Wednesday

  • 9:45am – 10:05pm: Illuminating the Next Great Entertainment Frontier: The Connected TV Metaverse with Foxxum | rlaxx TV 
  • 10:45am – 11:05am The New Human and Planetary Health Pioneers with Mayfield
  • 12:25pm – 12:45pm: Powering the Small Business Economy with Cloud Technology with Xero
  • 1:25pm – 1:45pm: Why Employers Are Ignoring a Large Candidate Pool That’s Necessary for Growth Today with Checkr
  • 2:25pm – 2:45pm: You’ve Raised Your Seed Round—Now What? Preparing for Your Series A with Samsung Next
  • 2:45pm – 3:05pm: Electric Generation: The Next Frontier For American Business with Ford Motor Company

Thursday

  • 9:40am – 10:00am: Rewiring the Brain to Improve the Quality of Life with Mayfield
  • 10:40am – 11:00am: Scaling Businesses and Creating Value with the Everywhere Workforce with Upwork
  • 11:35am – 11:40am: Esri Hackathon finalist demos
  • 12:20pm – 12:40pm: Eliminating Styrofoam Protective Packaging with Cruz Foam
  • 1:25pm – 1:45pm: The MIssing Block to Bring Crypto to the Masses with KuCoin

Pitch sessions
There’s nothing TechCrunch loves more than a good startup pitch – and Disrupt has got loads of them. In addition to our renowned Startup Battlefield competition, the startups in the expo get a chance to shine in these sessions. All sessions are in Pacific Standard Time.

Tuesday

  • 10:00am – 11:00am: Startup Alley Pitch Session
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Startup Alley Pitch Session
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm: Startup Alley Pitch Session

Wednesday

  • 9:00am – 9:30am: Belgian Startup Pitch Competition hosted by hub.Brussels
  • 9:00am – 9:50am: TTA Taiwan Pavilion Pitch-off Session – Healthcare & Enterprise
  • 10:00am – 11:00am: Startup Alley Pitch Session
  • 11:00am – 11:33am: Korea Pavilion – Startup Pitch Session with KOTRA
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm:  Startup Alley Pitch Session
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm:  Startup Alley Pitch Session

Thursday

  • 9:00am – 9:50am:  Startup Alley Pitch Session
  • 10:00am – 10:50am: TTA Taiwan Pavilion Pitch-off Session – Smart Tech
  • 11:40am – 12:20pm: Pitch Deck Teardown
  • 1:00pm – 1:50pm: Top Japanese Startups pitch their exciting new tech with JETRO

Expo and Expo Crawl
Our expo is teeming with early-stage founders launching new and exciting offerings. We’ve carved out some dedicated time in the agenda to catch up with these enterprising entrepreneurs. Search Expo in the agenda to bookmark those sessions.Fun Stuff and Prizes
It’s not all serious business at Disrupt. We’ve put together some fun things and games. Download and complete the Disrupt Passport for a chance to win a VanMoof X3 e-bike, Bose noise-canceling headphones or a Sonos Beam Sound Bar. Session Videos and Transcriptions
Missed a session? All the Extra Crunch Stage and Disrupt Stage recordings will be posted on the Disrupt event page at the close of the show. Plus, you can read the transcripts with Otter.ai. Otter’s giving attendees free access for a month using promo code: TCDISRUPT2021.See you at Disrupt!

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/18/users-guide-to-techcrunch-disrupt-2021/

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Executive coaching for employees is complicated and emotional

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Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here. 

BetterUp, a reskilling and coaching platform for employees before and beyond the C-suite, is getting in touch with its emotions. This week, the richly funded unicorn startup announced a pair of acquisitions in the emotional artificial intelligence and people management space: Motive and Impraise. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

BetterUp announced its acquisitions after a busy stint, which included passing $100 million in annual recurring revenue, expanding to Europe, and hitting 1 million individual coaching sessions on its platform. 

I’ll be honest. It’s par for the course to see a growth-stage startup use milestones to inorganically expand through acquisitions. How else do you grow into your valuation? BetterUp’s duo of deals still stood out to me because they signal a somewhat unconventional direction for where the coaching industry is going. Stay with me.

BetterUp claims that it pioneered the category of coaching by focusing on employees, not just C-suite executives. With these acquisitions, it’s shifting how that coaching looks and lives. Motive, for example, will help BetterUp clients understand the emotional context behind data that they already aggregate, through engagement surveys or polls. It’s a plug-and-play approach that helps employers more immediately act on employee sentiment, instead of waiting for the long-game of coaching to play out. 

On the other end of the funnel, Impraise uses technology to help managers better support their direct reports, through real-time performance reviews and more seamless feedback channels. Like Motive, Impraise is a step outside of the traditional boundaries of what coaching looks like. 

“The direct-report relationship is where change happens in people’s lives,” BetterUp CEO and co-founder Alexi Robichaux said. “It doesn’t actually happen in coaching sessions; change happens after.”

In some ways, these acquisitions are BetterUp admitting that coaching for all employees has to be an end-to-end solution that requires everyone in the company – from HR to managers – to be involved. It can’t be a weekly calendar invite. This sort of investment could cause employers to shy away from even offering services to their staff to begin with, but pressure to retain may force them to try anyways. For other coaching and up-skilling platforms, the bar continues to be raised. 

“Coaching can be a point solution, but that’s not enough and we know that better than anyone because we invented the point solution,” Robichaux said. “If you don’t have the data platform, if you don’t have the outcomes. If you don’t have the AI to personalize this, you can go coach 50 managers at your company,” but not every employee.

In the rest of this newsletter, I’ll walk us through Atlanta’s big bootstrapped moment, Casper’s nightmare and Apple’s day. As always, you can find me on Twitter @nmasc_ and listen to my podcast, Equity.

Atlanta’s big bootstrapped moment

Step aside Austin and Miami, Atlanta is in town. All eyes were on the city this week after Intuit bought local business Mailchimp for a staggering $12 billion. The Atlanta-based email marketing company never took any outside funding, which meant the deal was one of the biggest ever for a bootstrapped company. And while some saw Mailchimp’s massive exit as a win for the Atlanta startup and venture ecosystem, others felt differently. 

Here’s what to know: Part of Mailchimp’s strategy as an untraditional tech company included not giving Mailchimp employees equity, and prioritizing profit-sharing as well as higher salaries. It sounds good, until your startup exits for $12 billion and you realize you don’t have any equity in the business that you helped build. It’s a knock against bootstrapping, as we discussed during Equity. Employees spoke to Business Insider about their first reactions, answering if the deal does indeed empower the local ecosystem.  

Outside the inbox:

Casper’s nightmare

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

My scoop this week uncovered that Casper, the direct-to-consumer mattress company, had another round of layoffs that impacted two dozen employees, as well as its CMO, CTO and COO. The round of layoffs and executive shuffle comes a little over a year since Casper cut 21% of its workforce and shut down its European operations.  

The easy take here is that Casper is struggling with management and direction and has been on its back foot since its public debut last year. However, I’d argue that there’s more nuance here.

Here’s what to know: One founder in the direct-to-consumer space, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to her lack of direct knowledge with the company said that Casper’s layoffs could also be a response to Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, which will crack down on apps that track users’ data without permission. The setting restricts the advertising data that companies can access, making it harder to justify budget and understand the efficacy of their sales strategy.

For DTC companies, the uncertainty of in-person retail activity plus difficulty of advertising attribution is a challenging hurdle to surpass.

Don’t sleep on this:

Apple (a) day

Apple went back on stage with yet another virtual event to announce updates, upgrades and brand new unveils. The TechCrunch team, of course, couldn’t resist a chance to live blog. Read our full coverage here

Here’s what to know: It was all about the new iPhone 13. Brian Heater explained the context around the launch and what’s actually new about the smartphone. 

Last year’s iPhone 12 was a massive seller, bucking the trend of stagnating smartphone sales, in part due to a bottleneck in sales from the unplanned delay, but also because it finally brought 5G connectivity to Apple’s mobile line.

Lucky number iPhone 13 (no skipping for superstition’s sake, mind) features a familiar design. The front notch has finally been shrunken — now 20% smaller than its predecessor — while the rear-facing camera system has also gotten a redesign. The screen is now 28% brighter, Super Retina XDR display on both the iPhone 13 and 13 mini at 1200 nits.

On and off the stage:

Around TC

Our prep sessions are done. The Battlefield companies are amped. And a photo booth is coming.

TechCrunch Disrupt kicks off next week! Our flagship event, featuring speakers like Melanie Perkins and Reid Hoffman, runs virtually September 21 to 23. The events team has truly spent months on making this a virtual event that feels engaging, spontaneous and true to our personality as a publication. And after getting a sneak peek this past week, I can promise you that it’s different from any other online conference that I’ve attended during the pandemic.

Anyways, all this is to say that I’m amped to join the stage with my colleagues, interview the brightest names in tech, and meet as many entrepreneurs as possible. Are you joining? Buy tickets using my discount code “MASCARENHAS20.” 

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

Facebook knows Instagram harms teens. Now, its plan to open the app to kids looks worse than ever

Inside Reach Capital’s edtech-powered returns

Canva’s problem with PDF and its $40B valuation

Seen on Extra Crunch

3 strategies to make adopting new HR tech easier for hiring managers

What could stop the startup boom?

The value of software revenue may have finally stopped rising

Edtech leans into the creator economy with cohort-based classes

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/18/executive-coaching-for-employees-is-complicated-and-emotional/

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The GoPro-ification of the iPhone

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Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

Last week, we talked about some sunglasses from a company that many people do not like very much. This week, we’re talking about Apple and the company 1,600 times smaller than it that’s facing similar product problems.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny


(Photo by Brooks Kraft/Apple Inc.)

the big thing

When you get deep enough into the tech industry, it’s harder to look at things with a consumer’s set of eyes. I’ve felt that way more and more after six years watching Apple events as a TechCrunch reporter, but sometimes memes from random Twitter accounts help me find the consumer truth I’m looking for.

As that dumb little tweet indicates, Apple is charging toward a future where it’s becoming a little harder to distinguish new from old. The off-year “S” period of old is no more for the iPhone, which has seen tweaks and new size variations since 2017’s radical iPhone X redesign. Apple is stretching the periods between major upgrades for its entire product line and it’s also taking longer to roll out those changes.

Apple debuted the current bezel-lite iPad Pro design back in late 2018 and it’s taken three years for the design to work its way down to the iPad mini while the entry-level iPad is still lying in wait. The shift from M1 Macs will likely take years as the company has already detailed. Most of Apple’s substantial updates rely on upgrades to the chipsets that they build, something that increasingly makes them look and feel like a consumer chipset company.

This isn’t a new trend, or even a new take, it’s been written lots of times, but it’s particularly interesting as the company bulks up the number of employees dedicated to future efforts like augmented reality, which will one day soon likely replace the iPhone.

It’s an evolution that’s pushing them into a similar design territory as action camera darling GoPro, which has struggled again and again with getting their core loyalists to upgrade their hardware frequently. These are on laughably different scales, with Apple now worth some $2.41 trillion and GoPro still fighting for a $1.5 billion market cap. The situations are obviously different, and yet they are both facing similar end-of-life innovation questions for categories that they both have mastered.

This week GoPro debuted its HERO10 Black camera, which brings higher frame rates and a better performing processor as it looks to push more of its user audience to subscription services. Sound familiar? This week, Apple debuted its new flagship, the iPhone 13 Pro, with a faster processor and better frame rates (for the display not the camera here, though). They also spent a healthy amount of time pushing users to embrace new services ecosystems.

Apple’s devices are getting so good that they’re starting to reach a critical feature plateau. The company has still managed to churn out device after device and expand their audience to billions while greatly expanding their average revenue per user. Things are clearly going pretty well for the most valuable company on earth, but while the stock has nearly quadrupled since the iPhone X launch, the consumer iPhone experience feels pretty consistent. That’s clearly not a bad thing, but it is — for lack of a better term — boring.

The clear difference, among 2.4 trillion others, is that GoPro doesn’t seem to have a clear escape route from its action camera vertical.

But Apple has been pushing thousands of employees toward an escape route in augmented reality, even if the technology is clearly not ready for consumers and they’re forced to lead with what has been rumored to be a several-thousand-dollar AR/VR headset with plenty of limitations. One of the questions I’m most interested in is what the iPhone device category looks likes once its unwieldy successor has reared its head. Most likely is that the AR-centric devices will be shipped as wildly expensive iPhone accessories and a way to piggy back off the accessibility of the mobile category while providing access to new — and more exciting — experiences. In short, AR is the future of the iPhone until AR doesn’t need the iPhone anymore. 


Image Credits: Tesla

other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

Everything Apple announced this week
Was it the most exciting event Apple has ever had? Nah. Are you still going to click that link to read about their new stuff? Yah.

GoPro launches the HERO10 Black
I have a very soft spot in my heart for GoPro, which has taken a niche corner of hardware and made a device and ecosystem that’s really quite good. As I mentioned above, the company has some issues making significant updates every year, but they made a fairly sizable upgrade this year with the second-generation of their customer processor and some performance bumps across the board.

Tesla will open FSD beta to drivers with good driving record
Elon Musk is pressing ahead with expanding its “Full Self-Driving” software to more Tesla drivers, saying that users who paid for the FSD system can apply to use the beta and will be analyzed by the company’s insurance calculator bot. After 7 days of good driving behavior, Musk says users will be approved.

OpenSea exec resigns after ‘insider trading’ scandal
NFTs are a curious business; there’s an intense amount of money pulsating through these markets — and little oversight. This week OpenSea, the so-called “eBay of NFTs,” detailed that its own VP of Product had been trading on insider information. He was later pushed to resign.

Apple and Google bow to the Kremlin
Apple and Google are trying to keep happy the governments of most every market in which they operate. That leads to some uncomfortable situations in markets like Russia, where both tech giants were forced by the Kremlin to remove a political app from the country’s major opposition party.


Gitlab logo

Image Credits: Gitlab

extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

What could stop the startup boom?
“…We’ve seen record results from citiescountries and regions. There’s so much money sloshing around the venture capital and startup worlds that it’s hard to recall what they were like in leaner times. We’ve been in a bull market for tech upstarts for so long that it feels like the only possible state of affairs. It’s not…”

The value of software revenue may have finally stopped rising
“…I’ve held back from covering the value of software (SaaS, largely) revenues for a few months after spending a bit too much time on it in preceding quarters — when VCs begin to point out that you could just swap out numbers quarter to quarter and write the same post, it’s time for a break. But the value of software revenues posted a simply incredible run, and I can’t say “no” to a chart…

Inside GitLab’s IPO filing
“…The company’s IPO has therefore been long expected. In its last primary transaction, GitLab raised $286 million at a post-money valuation of $2.75 billion, per PitchbBook data. The same information source also notes that GitLab executed a secondary transaction earlier this year worth $195 million, which gave the company a $6 billion valuation…”


Thanks for reading, and again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny

Lucas Matney

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/18/the-gopro-ification-of-the-iphone/

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