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YouTube has teamed up with Universal Music Group to remaster nearly a thousand classic music videos, the companies announced today, including those from from Billy Idol, Beastie Boys, Boyz II Men, George Strait, Janet Jackson, Kiss, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Lionel Richie, Maroon 5, Meat Loaf, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, Smokey Robinson, The Killers, Tom Petty, and others.

Many of the most iconic music videos on YouTube were only available in the “outdated standards originally intended for tube televisions with mono speakers,” YouTube explained in an announcement. But today, people watch videos across a number of platforms — desktop, mobile, and TV — and they often do so in high-definition. The old videos didn’t hold up.

With the new partnership, both the video and audio quality will be updated to the highest standards, then the new videos will slide in to take the place of the existing SD versions. They’ll also retain the same URL on YouTube as well as all the view-counts and likes, instead of arriving as new content.

As of today, the companies have already updated over 100 music videos including the following:

The plan is to fully upgrade nearly 1,000 over the next year, with plans to have all 1,000 titles available before year-end 2020. More videos will arrive on a weekly basis as this program continues, YouTube says.

The videos will be available exclusively on YouTube and YouTube Music — the latter ahead of a planned merger with Google Play Music. 

You’ll be able to tell if a YouTube music video has been through the upgrading process because it will read “Remasted” in the video’s description.

“It’s really an honor to partner with Universal Music Group and change the way fans around the globe will experience viewing some of the most classic and iconic videos. The quality is truly stunning,” said Stephen Bryan, Global Head of Label Relations at YouTube, in a statement. “It’s our goal to ensure that today’s music videos — true works of art — meet the high-quality standards that artists’ works deserve and today’s music fans expect.”

“We’re excited to partner with YouTube to present these iconic music videos in the highest audio and video quality possible,” added Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG. “Our recording artists and video directors imbued these videos with so much creativity; it’s great to enable the full experience of their vision and music. These videos not only look amazing on any screen now, they will be enjoyed by music fans for decades to come.”


TechCrunch

Microsoft today announced that is first data center regions in the Middle East are now online. The data centers are located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and will offer local access to the usual suite of services, including Azure’s cloud computing services and Office 365. Support for Dynamics 365 and Microsoft’s Power Platform will arrive later this year.

“In our experience, local datacenter infrastructure supports and stimulates economic
development for both customers and partners alike, enabling companies, governments and regulated industries to realize the benefits of the cloud for innovation and new projects, as well as bolstering the technology ecosystem that supports these projects,” Microsoft’s corporate VP Azure Global writes in today’s announcement. “We anticipate the cloud services delivered from UAE to have a positive impact on job creation, entrepreneurship and economic growth across the region.”

The company first announced these new regions last March. Back in 2017, Microsoft’s cloud rival, Amazon’s AWS, said it would offer a region in Bahrain in early 2019. This region is not online yet, but is still listed as ‘coming soon‘ on the service’s infrastructure map. Google currently has no data center presence in the Middle East and hasn’t announced any plans to change this.


TechCrunch

The VidAngel story seemingly ended in late 2017 when it declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But the bad news wasn’t over for streaming service, which promised to edit all of the dirty bits out of other people’s films.

This week a federal jury in California ordered the Provo, Utah-based startup to pay $ 62.4 million to studios over copyright infringement. That amounts to $ 75,000 per film, paid out to studios including Disney and Warner Bros.

“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully,” the studios said in a statement issued after the ruling, “and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community.”

VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon is naturally not thrilled with this latest bit of bad news for a site purporting to offer sanitized versions of popular films. The executive promised to fight back with an appeal.

“We disagree with today’s ruling and have not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families one iota,” Harmon said in the company’s own statement. “VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well.”

VidAngel’s primary streaming offering shut down in late 2016, but the startup continues to operate a service for skipping “unacceptable” parts from Netflix and Amazon Prime.


TechCrunch

A couple of years ago London-based startup Zego realised gig-economy workers would need insurance, and went on to raise a very healthy £6 million in Series A funding, led by Balderton Capital. Its first products were pay-as-you-go scooter and car insurance for food delivery workers.

It’s now announced a $ 42million raise in one of the largest funding rounds for a European insurtech start-up, in a Series B investment was led by pan-European investment firm Target Global, specialists in the fintech and mobility space, with other backers including TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus. The proceeds will be used to for Zego’s expansion across Europe and to increase the workforce from 75 to 150.

The raise takes the firm to a Toal of $ 51million in funding, with new investors Latitude joining existing backers Balderton Capital and Tom Stafford of DST Global. The investment comes as the company claims a whopping 900% growth over the past 12 months.

Zego caters to the new mobility services, such as ride-hailing, ride sharing, car rental and scooter sharing and offers a range of policies from minute-by-minute insurance to annual cover, providing more flexibility than traditional insurers, with pricing based on usage data from vehicles.

This means it’s become popular with scooter and car delivery drivers, plus van and taxi fleets. The firm currently insures a third of the UK’s food delivery market, largely through partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats.

Sten Saar, CEO and co-founder of Zego, said: “When we built Zego from scratch three years ago, our mission was to transform the insurance sector by creating products which truly reflected the rapidly changing world of transport… The world is becoming more urbanized and because of this, we are moving from traditional ownership of vehicles to shared ‘usership’. This means that the rigid model of insurance that has existed for hundreds of years is no longer fit for purpose.”

Ben Kaminski, Partner of lead investors Target Global, said: “With the growth of new mobility services, Zego identified a major gap in the insurance market and created a unique business model to fill it, which the incumbents will find very difficult to replicate. The potential of this company is almost limitless, and I fully expect to see its UK success mirrored across Europe and beyond in the coming years.”


TechCrunch

Valo Ventures, a new firm focused on social, economic and environmental megatrends, has closed on $ 175 million for its debut venture capital fund.

The effort is led by Scott Tierney, a co-founder of Alphabet’s growth investing unit CapitalG, as well as Mona ElNaggar, a former managing director of TIFF Investment Management and Julia Brady, who previously worked as a director at The Via Agency, a communications workshop.

Google is like being a kid in a candy store,” Tierney tells TechCrunch. “It’s a great place to be. For me, I thought, ‘alright, I’ve been here for seven years, I have this opportunity to create my own fund and be more entrepreneurial and take all the learnings I was fortunate to have inside of Google and apply them.’ ”

Tierney joined Google in 2011 as a director of corporate development after five years as a managing director at Steelpoint Capital Partners. In 2013, he co-founded CapitalG, where he served as a partner for the next two years. He completed his Google stint as a director of corporate development and strategic partnerships at Nest Labs, a title he held until mid-2018.

The Valo Ventures partners plan to participate in Series A, B and C deals for startups located in North America and Europe. Specifically, Valo is looking for businesses solving problems within climate change, urbanization, autonomy and mobility. 

The goal is to bring an ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) perspective to venture capital, where investors infrequently take a mission-driven approach to deal-making. To date, Valo Ventures has deployed capital to Landit, a career pathing platform for women, and a stealth startup developing an AI platform for electricity demand and supply forecasting.


TechCrunch

Menlo Park-based Hatch Baby has prided itself on introducing “smart” nursery devices — including Grow, a changing pad with a built-in scale and Rest, a device doubling as a sound machine and night light.

Now, the company is introducing an updated version of Rest with Rest+ as part of an effort to help further establish Hatch Baby in the family sleep space.

The Rest+ device will still have the sound machine, night light and a “time to rise” feature found in the original. But, with feedback from many customers and Amazon reviews, Hatch Baby has now included the addition of an audio monitor and a clock.

The audio monitor is essential for letting parents check in on baby while they sleep without going into the room and potentially waking the baby up.

The clock is also a fantastic addition, in my opinion, especially for those with toddlers who can read numbers. These little people are big enough to get out of their beds but not mature enough to know moms and dads need to sleep at 4 a.m. Often advice passed from parent to parent is to put a clock in the baby room and tell kids not to come out until it shows a certain number.

It also helps establish healthy sleep habits in little ones. Most toddlers (ages one to 3) need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a day, spread out between nighttime and naps, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, as any parent knows, the older a baby gets, the harder it is to get them to want to go to bed.

Rest+ features include:

  • Audio monitor: Parents can now check in on their child in their room without the risk of disrupting their little one’s sleep right from their phone — no extra gadgets necessary.
  • Sound machine: Parents can choose from a range of sound options, from white noise to soft lullabies. They can simply crank up the volume remotely when the dog barks or the neighbors throw a party.
  • Night light: This feature, which stays cool to the touch, provides soft and soothing
    lighting for midnight feeding sessions or bright and reassuring light when the dark feels scary for older kids. Parents and kids can choose from a rainbow of colors to make it their own, but the optional patented toddler-lock setting makes sure that parents are the only ones in control when needed.
  • Time-to-Rise: Green means go! This feature enables parents to teach toddlers and
    preschoolers to stay in bed until it’s time to rise once the light changes color (and enjoy those extra minutes of sleep).
  • Clock: Rest+ features an easy-to-read clock so that parents can stay on track with their busy schedules and can help teach children to read numbers.

Any one of these features could cost parents a good amount of dough when purchased separately. A Phillips Avent audio monitor runs just under $ 100 on Amazon, for example. However, Rest+ is just $ 80 (slightly more than the original $ 60 price tag for the Rest device), for all five features.

Something else that may make the Rest+ attractive to parents — it is WiFi-enabled and portable so you can take it with you when you travel.

Whipping a sound machine, nightlight, audio monitor and clock all into one portable, WiFi-enabled device can also save precious space in the nursery and makes this a must-have item for many parents hoping for just a little bit more sleep.

Hatch Baby co-founder Ann Crady Weiss tells TechCrunch the Rest+ will only be available on the Hatch Baby site and is part of a plan to launch a full line of products aimed at getting parents — and their children — more precious sleep. Though she wouldn’t say what the company was working on next, she did mention we’d hear something about it in the coming months. So stay tuned!


TechCrunch

Another day, another Target checkout outage.

Many took to social media to complain that checkouts at the retail giant went down for a second day in a row. Many stores were only taking cash and gift cards. It comes after Target suffered a global point-of-sale machine outage on Saturday. Checkouts were down for more than two hours.

Target said in a statement yesterday that it could “confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue” and “no guest information was compromised at any time.” Instead, the company blamed the outage on an “internal technology issue” without disclosing specifics.

The retail giant was forced to pay $ 162 million in expenses related to a data breach in 2013.

Jenna Reck, a spokesperson for Target, said in a statement:

Like many other companies, Target uses NCR as a vendor to help accept payments, and on Sunday afternoon NCR experienced an issue at one of their data centers. While this was not an issue within Target’s technology system, Target was unable to process select card payments at some stores for about 90 minutes. The issue is now resolved and payments are going through normally. Additionally, we can confirm that this was not a security-related issue and no payment information was compromised at any time. Although this was unrelated to Saturday’s issue, we know many guests had a frustrating shopping experience in our stores this weekend. For that, we are truly sorry. We never want to disappoint any guests and we’re working tirelessly to ensure these issues don’t happen again.

Updated with comment from Target.


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