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Software and the war against complexity

Look around: what is happening? Australia, AI, Ghosn, Google, Suleimani, Starlink, Trump, TikTok. The world is an eruptive flux of frequently toxic emergent behavior, and every unexpected event is laced with subtle interconnected nuances. Stephen Hawking predicted this would be “the century of complexity.” He was talking about theoretical physics, but he was dead right about technology, societies, and geopolitics too. Let’s try to define terms. How can we measure complexity? Seth Lloyd of MIT, in a paper which drily begins “The world has grown more complex recently, and the number of ways of measuring complexity has grown even faster,” proposed three key categories: difficulty of description, difficulty of creation, and degree of organization. Using those thre...

CrowdStrike’s CEO on how to IPO, direct listings and what’s ahead for SaaS startups

A few days before Christmas, TechCrunch caught up with CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz to chat about his company’s public offering, direct listings and his expectations for the 2020 IPO market. We also spoke about CrowdStrike’s product niche — endpoint security — and a bit more on why he views his company as the Salesforce of security. The conversation is timely. Of the 2019 IPO cohort, CrowdStrike’s IPO stands out as one of the year’s most successful debuts. As 2020’s IPO cycle is expected to be both busy and inclusive of some of the private market’s biggest names, Kurtz’s views are useful to understand. After all, his SaaS security company enjoyed a strong pricing cycle, a better-than-expected IPO fundraising haul and strong value appreciation after...

The future (and past) of mobile gaming

The summer of 2008 changed everything. Apple’s launch of the App Store a year after the release of the iPhone was a watershed moment not only in the business of technology, but in every aspect of humanity. Nearly every industry can look back at data before July 2008 and after and see how rapidly and profoundly things changed. But one sector in particular turned into a completely different beast. Gaming. We’ve seen some amazing firms come out of the mobile gaming space, some with more success than others. One gaming founder who experienced the full gamut of entrepreneurial emotion is Thor Fridriksson, founder of QuizUp. As we head into 2020, I hopped on the phone with him to discuss the rapid rise of QuizUp in the early oughts, its hard fall from grace following a botched deal with NB...

CES awards cannabis company then bans it from mentioning cannabis when exhibiting

Keep Labs won an Innovation Award Honoree award for CES 2020 but is banned from saying the word “cannabis” on the CES show floor. Weeks later, the CTA, the trade group behind CES, told Keep Labs it could only exhibit if the company’s signage, marketing materials, and the product is free from cannabis product and paraphernalia. To be named as an honoree is a significant honor for any company, but with Keep Labs, it’s historic. Keep is a product designed explicitly for cannabis, and this is the first time a company centered around marijuana has won an award from CES. Because of the strict guidelines, Keep Labs decided it wasn’t in its best interest to exhibit at CES despite winning one of its top awards. The company is currently featured on the CES website, amon...

China Roundup: TikTok receives most government requests from India and US

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch’s China Roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people in the rest of the world. This week, TikTok, currently the world’s hottest social media app, welcomed the new decade by publishing its first transparency report as it encounters rising scrutiny from regulators around the world. TikTok tries to demystify  The report, which arrived weeks after it tapped a group of corporate lawyers to review its content moderation policy, is widely seen as the short video app’s effort to placate the U.S. government. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is currently probing the app for possible national security risks. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based tech upstart ByteDance a...

Week in Review: Selling out in the Instagram age

Hey everyone, happy 2020. Welcome back to Week in Review where I dive deep into a bit of news from the week or just share some thoughts and go over some of the more interesting stories of the week. If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here. The big story Dip a toe into the world of influencers and as you click through Instagram stories, and you’ll see that peddling endorsements for bizarre products is an essential part of the new influencer economy. What’s interesting isn’t that these (often) self-made influencers looking to leverage their fame to and monetize themselves with sponsorship deals, it’s how low the expectations are of their followers and fans when it comes to advertising suspect p...

2020 will be a challenging year for challenger banks

Over the past year, startup banks have proven that they have a shot at disrupting retail banking. These challengers have amassed a war chest of funding, announced some ambitious international expansion plans and attracted millions of customers. And yet, building a bank has proven to be even harder than building a startup in general. Retail banks aren’t willing to sit back and watch startups eat their lunch. Here’s a look back at the biggest moves of the year from challenger banks, some trends you should keep an eye on and the upcoming challenges for those startups. A year of aggressive growth Due to the regulatory framework and the size of the market, it is much easier to launch a challenger bank in Europe compared to anywhere else in the world. That’s why challenger banks have been thrivi...

A venture firm that invests ‘from Park City to Kansas City’ just closed its third fund

Sometimes, in venture capital, it pays to specialize. The latest indicator is a Kansas City, Mo.-based venture firm that’s focused on seed-stage startups that are based anywhere from “Park City to Kansas City.” According to an SEC filing, it just closed on $16.4 million in capital commitments. It’s the third fund for the outfit, Royal Street Ventures, which was founded several years ago by two Kansas City natives — Laura Brady and Jeffrey Stowell. It’s an interesting piece of geography to be so focused on, partly because, well, it leaves out a lot of opportunities elsewhere. At the same time, the firm is hardly the first to plant a flag in an underserved area, then get to work. It’s hard to remember now, but when Foundry Group opened its doors in 2...

2019 was a hot mess for cybersecurity, but 2020 shows promise

It’s no secret that I hate predictions — not least because the security field changes rapidly, making it difficult to know what’s next. But given what we know about the past year, we can make some best-guesses at what’s to come. Ransomware will get worse, and local governments will feel the heat File-encrypting malware that demands money for the decryption key, known as ransomware, has plagued local and state governments in the past year. There have been a near-constant stream of attacks in the past year — Pensacola, Florida and Jackson County, Georgia to name a few. Governments and local authorities are particularly vulnerable as they’re often underfunded, unresourced and unable to protect their systems from many major threats. Worse, many are without cybersecurity...

The streaming wars to come

After years of speculation and hype, major players in Hollywood and Silicon Valley are getting ready to challenge Netflix . It’s only been a few months since Apple launched TV+, followed quickly by Disney launching Disney+. And there’s more to come this year, with AT&T-owned WarnerMedia preparing to release HBO Max, while NBCUniversal does the same with Peacock. Even before they’re available to subscribers, these new offerings are shaking up the status quo: As part of their preparation, Hollywood studios are consolidating, and they’re reclaiming key titles like “Friends” and “The Office” from rival platforms. Netflix, in turn, has been preparing for a world where its old content partners are either unwilling to license key titles, or charging a much higher price when they do — hence th...

This startup is raising $7 million for a technology that can authenticate people based on their typing style

TypingDNA, a four-year-old startup that was founded in Bucharest, Romania and more recently moved its headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, looks to be raising $7 million in funding for something interesting: AI-driven technology that it says can recognize people based on the way they type, both on their laptops and mobile devices. A new SEC filing that says the company — which graduated from Techstars NYC in late 2018 and early last year closed on €1.3 million in seed funding — has so far raised $5.25 million toward that goal. Typing biometrics — the detailed timing information that describes exactly when each key is pressed and released as way to identify the unique person at the keyboard — is apparently not brand new. A two-year-old, PCWorld article says research i...

Alphabet-backed primary care startup One Medical files to go public

One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care startup with tech-infused, concierge services filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. Internal medicine doctor Tom Lee founded the startup, now valued at well-over $1 billion dollars, in 2007. Lee exited his company in 2017, leaving it in the hands of former UnitedHealth group executive Amir Rubin. The startup currently operates 72 health clinics in nine major cities throughout the U.S., with three more markets expected to open in 2020 and has raised just over $500 in venture capital from it’s biggest investor, the Carlyle Group (which owns just over a quarter of shares), Alphabet’s GV, J.P. Morgan and others. Google also incorporates One Medical into its campuses and accounts for about 10% of the compa...