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Pitch on stage at TechCrunch’s Robotics & AI show – March 3 at UCBerkeley

On March 3 next year, TechCrunch will host the fourth annual TC Sessions: Robotics + AI at UC Berkely’s Zellerbach Hall. This time around we’re adding a new twist to the incredible line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and Q&As: It’s a pitch off for early-stage companies in the robotics and AI space. How it works: The night before the event, ten startups, chosen through an online application process, will pitch at a private event with TechCrunch Editors, main stage speakers, and industry experts. A panel of VC judges will select the top 5 teams to then pitch the next day on the main stage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI the next day. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for founders to get their company in front of the tier one leaders and investors in the industry as well as receive ...

TriNet sent remote workers an email that some thought was a phishing attack

It was the one of the best phishing emails we’ve seen… that wasn’t. Phishing remains one of the most popular attack choices for scammers. Phishing emails are designed to impersonate companies or executives to trick users into turning over sensitive information, typically usernames and passwords, so that scammers can log into online services and steal money or data. But detecting and preventing phishing isn’t just a user problem — it’s a corporate problem too, especially when companies don’t take basic cybersecurity precautions and best practices to hinder scammers from ever getting into a user’s inbox. Enter TriNet, a human resources giant, which this week became the poster child for how how to make a genuine email to its customers look inadvertent...

Google finishes the install of its private Curie cable, announces Panama branch

Google today announced that it has finished the install and test of its private Curie cable. When it was announced, Curie, which connects the U.S. to Chile, was the company’s third private cable. Since then, it has announced two more, Dunant and Equiano, which will connect the U.S. to Europe and Portugal to South Africa. The 10,500 kilometers long cable will offer a total capacity of 72Tbps and will go online in Q2 of 2020. Right now, Google’s teams are working on connecting the cable to its own network. In addition, Google also today announced that Curie will get a branch to Panama. “Once operational, this branch will enhance connectivity and bandwidth to Central America, and increase our ability to connect to other networks in the region, providing resiliency to our glo...

Banning digital political ads gives extremists a distinct advantage

Jessica Alter Contributor Share on Twitter Jessica Alter is co-founder and chairman of Tech for Campaigns, an organization building the lasting tech and digital arm for Democrats and has helped over 200 campaigns on this front since 2017. Jack Dorsey’s announcement that Twitter will no longer run political ads because “political messages reach should be earned, not bought” has been welcomed as a thoughtful and statesmanlike contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s greedy acceptance of “political ads that lie.” While the 240-character policy sounds compelling, it’s both flawed in principle and, I fear, counterproductive in practice.  First: like it or hate it, the U.S. political system is drowning in money. In 2018, a non-presidential year, it is estimated that over $9B was spent on the...

Africa Roundup: Goldman leads $30M Twiga raise, China grows tech influence, Jumia weathers lockup-expiry

Kenya’s Twiga Foods raised a total of $30 million in October from lenders and investors led by Goldman Sachs. This adds to the list of African startups the U.S. financial firm has backed, including e-commerce venture Jumia and South African fintech startup Jumo. Twiga, a B2B food distribution company, will use its funds to set up a distribution center in Nairobi and deepen its conversion to offering supply chain services for both agricultural and FMCG products. The startup is also targeting Pan-African expansion to French speaking West Africa by third quarter 2020, CEO Peter Njonjo told TechCrunch. The venture has moved quickly on diversifying its supply-chain product mix. “We’re not just doing fruits and vegetables…I’d say we’re at 50/50 now between FMCG  and fresh,” said Njonjo. Twiga do...

Airbnb to ban ‘party houses’ in wake of Halloween shooting that left 5 dead

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said Saturday the company will ban “party houses” and take other steps to safeguard hosts and guests after five people died at a Halloween party hosted at California home that was rented on the service. Chesky made the announcement via a series of tweets Saturday. “What happened on Thursday night in Orinda, CA was horrible,” Chesky wrote. “I feel for the families and neighbors impacted by this tragedy — we are working to support them.” Chesky then announced that party houses would be banned and that the company is “redoubling” efforts to combat unauthorized parties. Starting today, we are banning “party houses” and we are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduc...

HuffPost is reportedly on the auction block

Late last night the Financial Times reported that HuffPost, arguably one of the crown jewels of Verizon Media Group’s remaining network of media properties (which includes TechCrunch), is up for sale. Verizon has been shedding media properties in a retreat from the strategy that it had begun to execute with the acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion back in 2015. Through the AOL deal, then-chief executive Tim Armstrong became the architect of the telecommunications company’s media and advertising strategy. Armstrong’s vision was to roll up as much online real estate as he could while creating a high technology advertising architecture on the back-end that could better target consumers based on their media consumption (which the telecom company would also own). The idea was t...

Startups Weekly: YC grad Revel’s plan to connect women over 50

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy news pertaining to startups and venture capital. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. I’ve been on a bit of a startup profile kick as of late. Last week, I was tired from Disrupt. Before that, I wrote about up and coming telemedicine company Alpha Medical. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here. Startup Spotlight Y Combinator’s latest batch concluded two months ago, which means my inbox is beginning to fill with pitches from companies ready to talk about the first rounds of fundraising. We’ve profiled many of the c...

PayPal is the first company to drop out of the Facebook-led Libra Association

PayPal has become the first company to walk away officially from Facebook’s Libra, a cryptocurrency and related association that it announced earlier this year with a chain of nearly 30 big names behind the effort to help build and operate services around it. “PayPal has made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra Association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations,” PayPal said in an emailed statement to TechCrunch. “We remain supportive of Libra’s aspirations and look forward to continued dialogue on ways to work together in the future. Facebook has been a longstanding and valued strategic partner to PayPal,...

Twitter to attempt to address conversation gaps caused by hidden tweets

Twitter’s self-service tools when it comes to blocking content you don’t want to see, as well as a growing tendency for users to delete a lot of the content they post, is making some of the conversations on the platform look like Swiss cheese. The company says it will introduce added “context” on content that’s unavailable in conversations in the next few weeks, however, to help make these gaps at least less mystifying. There are any number of reasons why tweets in a conversation you stumble upon might not be viewable, including that a poster has a private account, that the tweet was taken down due to a policy violation, that it was deleted after the fact or that specific keywords are muted by a user and present in those posts. We're fixing the issue wher...

Apple reportedly planning to fund creation of exclusive original podcasts

Apple is said to be planning to bankroll the creation of original podcasts from third-parties that it will offer exclusively on its own streaming services, Bloomberg reports. The report says that Apple’s plans to land podcast exclusives will help the company compete with similar offerings from streaming rivals including Spotify and Sticher, both of which are funding exclusive podcast content, and in some cases, wholly original shows to run on their own streaming audio offerings. The report says that Apple execs have been reaching out to media companies that produce audio content to talk about the possibility of buying exclusive rights to some podcasts, albeit in a “preliminary” way, which suggests that this plan may be in the very early stages. It seems unlikely, then, th...

Final tickets to our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party

One of Silicon Valley’s most fun and enduring traditions — the 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party — takes place on July 25. If you don’t have a ticket yet, know this: We just released the last batch of tickets. Once they’re gone, that’s it. No party for you. Don’t miss out on a night of fun and opportunity — buy your ticket today. The Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden, provides a picturesque setting (ocean views anyone?) for a casual evening celebrating the early-startup spirit. Hang out and enjoy local craft beer, cocktails, delicious food and great conversation with other fearless tech entrepreneurs. TechCrunch parties provide a relaxed way to connect and network, and they’re known as a place where startup magic happens. Who knows? You might meet your future co-founder or...

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