Pixels, Palm Readers, and Pokémon Problems – TechCrunch

Hi friends! That’s what Lucas always starts with, right?

Lucas will be out for a few weeks, so I’ll be running Week In Review until he gets back. TL; DR on me: I’m Greg, and I’ve been with TechCrunch for a long, long time. I joined when Twitter found the vowels in his name and people thought Facebook’s valuation was ridiculously high: $ 15 billion. (For reference, Facebook’s market capitalization topped $ 1 trillion last month.)

Enough about me! Do you want this in your inbox every week? Sign up here. Oh, and on purpose, Sarah Perez’s popular This Week In Apps column is now a weekly newsletter. Sarah rules and does a great job of summarizing everything you need to know about the app world, so be sure to register, so you can have it delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning.

And now, here’s a quick overview of what you might have missed this week.

The big thing

Image credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

While Zoom has been around since 2011, its growth in 2020 was simply at a completely different level. The pandemic swept Zoom into the product name hall of fame as a verb virtually overnight, and “we’re going to Zoom next week” joining the ranks of “Xerox this for me?” or “Photoshop” or “Google”.

With rapid growth, of course, comes growing pains.

Among these pains there was a significant increase in trolling. The idea of ​​”ZoombingIt was born, where unapproved attendees block a Zoom call and flood it with nasty images, hate speech, and whatever else they might throw out before the moderator (often unfamiliar with Zoom’s interface) figures out how to block it.

In April 2020, Zoom had tweaked its settings so that the meetings were a little less capable of bombing by default, but by that time, a lawsuit had already been filed. Fourteen In fact, lawsuits were filed that were later condensed into one. The lawsuits argued that the company had not done enough to prevent Zoombombing, in addition to sharing user data with third parties without the user’s permission.

This week Zoom agreed to an $ 85 million deal, along with a promise to add even more safeguards against potential intruders. It’s an interesting example of how massive / sudden popularity can cause new problems … but, well, considering that Zoom’s market cap went from $ 34 billion in March 2020 to $ 118 billion as of this week. , I doubt anyone is too crushed about it.

Other things

Google shows a preview of the Pixel 6

Google’s next flagship Android phone is coming! When? TBD. How much? Good question! The company withheld an unusual amount of detail in its first official acknowledgment of the Pixel 6’s existence, presumably to keep the focus on the custom AI-centric system on a chip they’re building for it. We know you have a great camera bump (or “camera bar” as they call it) and there will be two models (Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro). But beyond that, we’re stuck relying on the leaked specs for now. Fortunately, these leaks have been quite successful so far.

Robinhood’s Wild Ride

Robinhood went public this week, and perhaps appropriately for the app that played no small role on GameStop / AMC / etc. Meme stock bonanza earlier this year, its first trading days have been something of a roller coaster ride. It opened at $ 38, slipping on the first day, only to climb to $ 70 on the second day. As I write this, it is slowly coming back down to earth with a current price of around $ 53. As for the root cause of the volatility … like Alex Wilhelm Put it on: “This happens in 2021; we just have to get used to it. “

Pokémon Go players are crazy

Because the fundamental concepts of Pokémon Go (Talk to strangers! Hanging out in large groups!) Don’t work as well in a pandemic, Niantic tweaked a ton of things last year to make the game more playable since home. Among other things, they increased the real-world radius in which players could interact with in-game landmarks, allowing you to do more while moving less. This week they started reversing those changes as a “test” … and, well, people are angry. The company presumably has some data-driven reasons for reversing … but from the outside, with the pandemic still ongoing, it seems like a bad decision. Niantic has responded to the community uproar by forming an internal team to examine the options, promising updates for September 1.

WhatsApp gets self-destructive single-view photos

This week, WhatsApp embraced its internal Snapchat with the introduction of “watch once” mode, which allows users to send photos and videos that can be viewed once before they self-destruct. However, keep in mind that you probably don’t want to use it to send those top-secret documents (and / or butt photos); Unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won’t even warn you if the viewer takes a screenshot.

Amazon wants to pay you $ 10 to scan your palm

Last year, Amazon began allowing customers at its cashless grocery stores to pay for products by moving their palm prints over a biometric scanner. Now they are paying new customers $ 10 to scan their print and get on board. This story was very popular on the site this week, and I wonder if it’s because people are mad at Amazon swallowing all this biometrics or because they want the $ 10. Probably a little bit of both.

Twitter kills fleets

RIP fleets. Less than a year after Twitter decided too necessary to clone Snapchat Stories, the company has abandoned the concept. Why? He says he hoped to attract new users; instead, the only people using it were the ones who were already pretty hardcore.

Square buys Afterpay

The buy now pay later space got really big really fast, and Square wants to get in. This week, the company announced its intention to acquire Afterpay, a company that allows it to split large purchases over 6 weeks with no credit check or interest, for a momentous $ 29 billion.

New Google Nest cameras

Google has a new Nest camera kit later this month, including a few things you’ll be surprised they haven’t done already, like a battery-powered outdoor camera and a motion-activated reflector camera for your porch.

Elon’s great ship

The fun news: This week SpaceX assembled the tallest space rocket ever, with its fully stacked Starship rocket coming together at an absurd height of 390 feet (or 475 feet if you count the launch pad). The less fun news: you’re not going anywhere for now, as this assembly was just a fit test – put it together, take it apart, make sure nothing breaks. An actual launch of this gigantic setup isn’t expected until later this year, but it should be quite the show.

Extra stuff

Five Factors Founders Should Consider Before Choosing Their VC

We have heard it on replay Lately: With so much capital flooding the market, now is the time for founders to be picky about who to let invest. But what things should you consider? Agya Ventures co-founder Kunal Lunawat has a few notes, from how well a VC understands his vision, to his background, to good instinct.

Avoid These Common Financial Mistakes So Your Startup Doesn’t Die on the Vine

Startups are tough enough without trying to deal with bankrupt finances. In this article, Zeni founder Swapnil Shinde outlines three different financial pitfalls that are easy to fall into but can be avoided: fragmented finances, old data, and founders who don’t know when / what to delegate.


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