Technology

Technology

Facebook co-founder says its rise reveals the fault lines destroying the “American Dream”

Andrew Keen Contributor Andrew Keen is the author of three books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo and The Internet Is Not The Answer. He produces Futurecast, and is the host of Keen On. More posts by this contributor: In April 2004, a couple of Harvard undergraduate roommates took a walk in the pouring rain around the university campus. They were two of the three co-founders of an internet company that had launched a couple of months earlier — a social network start-up that we now know as Facebook. One of the young men, a history student called Chris Hughes, was making his case to the other, a computer scientist named Mark Zuckerberg, about how much he should own of the new company. Hughes was demanding a ten percent equity stake in the social network. But as they stood on the steps o...

Meet the women inventing the future in the TechMAKERS mini-series

MAKERS spotlights five women at the forefront of technologies remaking our world, from AI to robotics to telepathy to deep space exploration. They are engineers and computer scientists at the top of their game in an industry where women make up only a quarter of technical jobs. They are exploding silicon ceilings and motivating a new generation of female “makers” to join their ranks and make an impact. Ayanna Howard, RoboticistDr. Ayanna Howard has had a big impact on robotics. She’s one of the few black women in the field and she’s working on inventions with an eye on social impact, not science fiction. [embedded content] Mary Lou Jepsen, Inventor, EntrepreneurIf anyone can make a Vulcan mind meld come true, it’s tech inventor Mary Lou Jepsen. With every new invention, she’s moving humani...

Essential really wants to solve the screen notch problem

In a way, Essential is something of a pioneer. Before the iPhone X helped the world reluctantly embrace the screen notch, the company proudly displayed one atop its first flagship. Since then, of course, it’s become a feature, not a bug, with a long list of companies rushing to embrace it on their latest flagship. But Essential’s clearly hoping to solve the issue with a number of patents looking to stick a camera directly behind the display. The Andy Rubin-founded company has been on quite a patent run in recent months — but the ones pertaining to a “camera integrated into a display” are the most compelling of the lot. And if it comes to fruition, it could breathe new life into the company’s upcoming handsets after an admittedly slow start. The patent describes a multi-layered display with...

Corporate bio VCs are backing more rounds and making bigger bets

Biotech is a lot like venture capital. Vast amounts of research, testing and marketing go into a wide range of therapies. But in the end, it’s just a tiny fraction that deliver most returns. That similarity may be why most of the biggest biotech and pharmaceutical companies have a long history of engaging in the venture business as startup investors, spin-out creators and strategic partners. Since last year, the largest corporate players participated in funding rounds valued at more than $6.4 billion, according to Crunchbase data. Trendlines also show investment is on the rise. In an effort to measure the size, scope and growth trajectory of this startup funding space, Crunchbase News assembled a few data sets of the largest corporate venture investors in biotech. We culled through the lar...

French president pokes at Trump for leaving Paris accord

French President Emmanuel Macron took a jibe at President Donald Trump on Sunday for his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Macron did not name Trump while speaking at the first meeting of the International Solar Alliance in New Delhi. But while hailing the “solar mamas,” a group of women trained as solar engineers, he said the women had continued their mission to promote solar energy even after “some countries decided just to leave the floor and leave the Paris agreement.” Trump announced last June that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris accord, which aims to slow the rise in global temperature by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At a separate weekend event in India, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also re...

The incredible multi-dimensional chess of Qualcomm vs. Broadcom

Game of Thrones may be out of season, but the complex and multi-dimensional strategic drama at the heart of the acclaimed series can still be witnessed in today’s on-going showdown between Broadcom and Qualcomm. This week, we even had a character “death” of one of the “royals” to boot. For those who have not been paying attention to this epic match, Singapore-domiciled Broadcom has been running a proxy battle with U.S.-based Qualcomm for the past few months, a process that Qualcomm has put enormous efforts into resisting. The two companies are among the most important producers of semiconductors and mobile chipsets, and their combined market value would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Mega-mergers happen occasionally, and hostile takeovers are also not rare. What makes Qualcomm ...

GV partner Lo Toney wants to raise $50 million to fund diverse investors

GV partner Lo Toney is looking to raise up to $50 million for his new fund, Plexo Capital, Axios first reported. Since 2017, Toney has been incubating Plexo Capital inside GV, formerly known as Google Ventures. The idea with Plexo Capital, which is backed by Alphabet, is to invest as a limited partner in seed funds led by people of color and/or female general partners, Toney said in an interview back in 2017 with Family Office Insights. There are very few black and Latinx investors, with only 2 percent of investment team members at VC firms identifying as black and just 1 percent identifying as Latinx, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Meanwhile, just 12 percent of investment professionals are women, according to Kapor Center for Social Impact’s latest report. Here’s h...

Elon Musk crashes SXSW panel to talk about space travel

Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, made a surprise appearance on the Westworld panel at SXSW. After getting cued up by Jonathan Nolan, the co-creator of HBO series Westworld, Musk walked out on stage to people cheering and one person screaming, “Elon, we love you!” During his stage time, he spoke about the excitement of space travel, sending a Tesla into a space and what a time it is to be alive. Musk kicked off his quick on-stage appearance with discussing how there are a lot of negative things in the world. “There are a lot of terrible things happening all over the world, all of the time,” Musk said. “There are lots of problems that need to get solved. Lots of things that are miserable and kind of get you down.” [embedded content] “But life cannot just be about solving...

Gillmor Gang: TV Dinner

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Denis Pombriant, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Saturday, March 10, 2018. G3: Fear Factory — Mary Hodder, Elisa Camehort Page, Halley Suitt Tucker, Maria Ogneva, and Tina Chase Gillmor. Recorded live Thursday, March 8, 2018. @stevegillmor, @kevinmarks, @kteare, @DenisPombriant, @fradice Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor Liner Notes Live chat stream The Gillmor Gang on Facebook G3: Fear Factory G3 chat stream G3 on Facebook

Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joe Tsai invest $20 million in Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway has snagged a $20 million investment from Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and Joe Tsai via Blue Pool Capital, Recode first reported. Blue Pool Capital is a multibillion-dollar fund that invests in public and private equity on behalf people like Ma and Tsai. The round reportedly values Rent the Runway at about $800 million. Rent the Runway’s previous investment came in back in 2016, when it raised a $60 million Series E round led by Fidelity. Rent the Runway first launched in 2009 to rent designer dresses to people for special events. Since then, the company has evolved its business to include an everyday-wear type of service that lets people rent out their closets to other people. I’ve reached out to Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman and will update this story if I hear back. Featured...

Original Content podcast: ‘Everything Sucks!’ overcomes our skepticism

We were pretty skeptical about Everything Sucks!, a Netflix high school comedy set in the 1990s, which seemed to promise nostalgia, nostalgia and more nostalgia. The opening minutes of the premiere seemed to confirm those fears, as obvious ’90s references seemed to pile up one after another. But then the show kept going, and we found ourselves pulled into the story of Luke O’Neil (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) and Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy), two awkward students with their own secrets and struggles. In the latest episode of TechCrunch’s Original Content podcast, we discuss our initial impressions of the series, and how those impressions changed as we walked. We also recap Barack and Michelle Obama reported negotiations to create a Netflix show, Jon Favreau’s deal to write a live action Star War...

Some hard truths about Twitter’s health crisis

It’s a testament to quite how control freaky and hermetically sealed to criticism the tech industry is that Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey went unscripted in front of his own brand livestreaming service this week, inviting users to lob awkward questions at him for the first time ever. It’s also a testament to how much trouble social media is in. As I’ve written before, ‘fake news’ is an existential crisis for platforms whose business model requires them to fence vast quantities of unverified content uploaded by, at best, poorly verified users. No content, no dice, as it were. But things get a whole lot more complicated when you have to consider what the content actually is; who wrote it; whether it’s genuine or not; and what its messaging might be doing to your users, to others and to society a...