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Quibi launches its mobile streaming service, Apple sources 20 million protective masks and Red Hat announces a new CEO. Here’s your Daily Crunch for April 6, 2020.

1. Quibi launches its mobile streaming service in the middle of the quarantine era

The much-hyped mobile app promising to deliver “quick bites” of video entertainment is finally here. The company has been in the headlines for more than two years, thanks to the involvement of founder Jeffrey Katzenberg (who previously co-founded DreamWorks Animation) and CEO Meg Whitman (previously the CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise), not to mention $ 1.75 billion in funding.

Judging from a few hours of exploration, the app is as slick as promised, with impressive Turnstyle technology for switching between portrait and landscape viewing. What’s missing so far, however, is any real sense of creative breakthrough.

2. Apple has sourced over 20 million protective masks, now building and shipping face shields

The company is working with governments around the world to distribute its supply of face masks to where it’s needed most. Meanwhile, the first delivery of Apple face shields went out to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara valley earlier this week, according to CEO Tim Cook.

3. Paul Cormier takes over as Red Hat CEO, as Jim Whitehurst moves to IBM

Cormier would seem to be a logical choice to run Red Hat, having been with the company since 2001. He joined as its VP of engineering and has seen the company grow from a small startup to a multi-billion dollar company.

4. GrubHub, Seamless’s pandemic initiatives are predatory and exploitative, and it’s time to stop using them

Jon Evans argues that GrubHub (which also owns Seamless) is hurting, not helping, the restaurants that it pretends it’s trying to support.

5. Pandemic puts the brakes on micromobility

Ride Report creates software that enables cities to better work with micro-mobility operators and has a bird’s-eye view on the industry. In a conversation with TechCrunch, CEO William Henderson outlined what we can expect for micro-mobility operators during the pandemic and once it’s over. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Open banking fintech Yapily raises $ 13M Series A

Founded in mid-2017 by ex-Goldman Sachs employee Stefano Vaccino, Yapily’s open banking platform makes it easier for various service providers to connect to banks. Specifically, it provides a way to retrieve financial data and initiate payments via a “single secure API” that in turn connects to each supported bank’s open API.

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

The latest full-length episode of Equity discusses the tremendous growth of Zoom and how that’s cast a spotlight on the videoconferencing app’s security flaws, while the Monday news roundup looks for positive signs in startup funding. And on Original Content, we review the first season of “Star Trek: Picard” and the extremely unsettling Netflix film “The Platform.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.


TechCrunch

With gyms across the country closed for business, at-home exercise companies like Peloton have found an unexpected opportunity. As the connected fitness company looks to onboard new customers, they’re also expanding platform support, announcing today that they would be bringing their app to Android TV, the OS used by millions of smart TVs.

Peloton announced last month that it would be extending free trials of its $ 12.99 per month exercise app from 30 days to 90 days because of the pandemic. Peloton has not been unaffected by the virus. Last month, the company shut down its studios to visitors, holding classes with just instructors, while also moving away from in-home deliveries of its connected bike and treadmill.

While Peloton already boasted support for Fire TV, Chromecast and AirPlay, this latest addition should help round out support for users of most new smart TVs. The app is available today in Android TV’s Google Play Store.

If you’re an existing user looking to toss your workouts onto your Android TV screen, you should know that the app won’t support external bluetooth sensors like heart rate monitors or cadence sensors for your non-Peloton bike. The company also recommends running the app on Android OS 6 or later for best performance.

 


TechCrunch

Many expectant mothers are told that breastfeeding will come naturally, but it is often a fraught and confusing experience, especially during the first few weeks after birth. Parents often worry about if their babies are getting enough nutrition or if they are producing enough milk. MyMilk Labs wants to give nursing mothers more information with Mylee, a sensor that scans a few drops of breast milk to get information about its composition and connects to a mobile app. The Israel-based company presented today at Disrupt Battlefield as one of two wild card competitors picked from Startup Alley.

The Mylee launched at Disrupt with a pre-order price of $ 249 (its regular retail price is $ 349). Based in Israel, MyMilk Labs was founded in 2014 by Ravid Schecter and Sharon Haramati, who met while working on PhDs in neuroimmunology and neurobiology, respectively, at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Mylee deviceDuring the company’s stage presentation, Schecter said the device is meant to give mothers and lactation consultants objective information about breast milk.

Breast milk changes in the first days and weeks after birth, progressing from colostrum to mature milk. Mylee scans the electrochemical properties of milk and then correlates that to data points based on MyMilk Labs’ research to calculate where the sample is on the continuum, then tells mothers if their milk is “delayed” or “advanced,” relative to the time that has passed since they gave birth.

The device’s first version is currently in a beta pilot with lactation consultants who have used them to scan milk samples from 500 mothers.

MyMilk Labs already has consumer breast milk testing kits that enable mothers to provide a small sample at home that is then sent to MyMilk Labs’ laboratories for analysis. One is a nutritional panel that gives information about the milk’s levels of vitamins B6, B12 and A, calories and fat percentage, along with dietary recommendations for the mother. Another panel focuses on what is causing breast pain, a frequent complaint for nursing mothers. It tests for bacterial or fungal infections and gives antibiotic suggestions depending on what strains are detected.

Though some doctors believe testing kits are unnecessary for the majority of nursing mothers, there is demand for more knowledge about breastfeeding, as demonstrated by the line-up of breast milk testing kits from MyMilk Labs and competitors like Lactation Labs, Everly Well and Happy Vitals. Haramati said on stage that MyMilk Labs plans to eventually transfer some of the tests’ capabilities to the Mylee.


TechCrunch

Think Jack Dorsey’s jobs are tough? Well, Tom Chavez is running six startups. He thinks building businesses can be boiled down to science, so today he’s unveiling his laboratory for founding, funding and operating companies. He and his team have already proven they can do it themselves after selling their startups Rapt to Microsoft and Krux to Salesforce for a combined $ 1.2 billion. Now they’ve raised a $ 65 million fund for “super{set}”, an enterprise startup studio with a half-dozen companies currently in motion.

The idea is that {super}set either conceptualizes a company or brings in founders whose dream they can make a reality. The studio provides early funding and expertise while the startup works from their shared space in San Francisco, plus future ones in New York and Boston. The secret sauce is the “super{set} Code,” an execution playbook plus technological tools and building blocks that guide the strategy and eliminate redundant work. “Our belief is that we can make the companies 10x faster and increase capital efficiency by 5X,” says Chavez of his partnership with {super}set co-founders Vivek Vaidya, who acts as CTO, and Jae Lim who manages the fund.

Superset Team

The {super}set team (from left): Tom Chavez, Jae Lim, Jen Elena and Vivek Vaidya

Perhaps the question isn’t whether the portfolio startups can scale, but if the humans behind them can without breaking. It’s stressful running a single company, let alone six. Even with the order of operations nailed down, each encounters unique challenges and no plan is one-size-fits-all. But after delivering 17.5X returns to their past investors, Chavez et al. have proven their power to repeatedly recognize what enterprises need and build admittedly boring but bountiful products in customer data management, and advertising yield.

The studio’s playbooks cover business plan formation, pitch strategies, go to market, revenue, machine learning, management principles, HR processes, sales methods, pipeline measurement, product sequencing, finance, legal and more. There’s also shared engineering code it provides, so each startup doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. “I don’t think you can systemize it but I do think you can accelerate and de-risk the path,” Chavez explains.

Superset Code 1

{super}set Code

Today, the first {super}set company is coming out of stealth. Eskalera helps enterprises retain top talent by tracking diversity and inclusion stats of employees to engage them with career growth and community programs. Chavez is the CEO, but plans to install a new one shortly so he can focus more time on founding more startups. There are 55 employees across the first six companies, with two already generating revenue and most ready to emerge in the next nine months.

The funding for Eskalera and other {super}set companies comes with unique terms. Because Chavez and the team aren’t just board members you hear from once a quarter but “shoulder to shoulder with the entrepreneurs” as he repeats several times in our interview, the startups pay more equity for the cash.

The hope is having seasoned leadership aboard is worth it. “We’re product people first and foremost,” Chavez tells me. “What are you going to build? Who’s going to buy it? Why? What’s the technical moat? We’re not people doing jazz hands.” The {super}set team has plenty of skin in the game, though, given Chavez himself put in a big chunk of the $ 65 million, and the fund sticks to a standard management fee.

Eskalera

Eskalera

To supercharge the companies, {super}set brings in expert staffers in artificial intelligence, data science and more, who then align with the most relevant companies in the portfolio. They get equity grants to incentivize them to work hard on the startups’ behalf. “The worry I have about these larger funds is that they have an incentive disconnect where they work for the fees” Chavez says. His fund hopes to win through follow-on funding of its winners.

Tom Chavez Superset

{super}set co-founder Tom Chavez

If portfolio companies hit hard times, Chavez says {super}set will stick with them. “My first company had multiple layoffs and a major pivot. We had an enterperenur that walked away. They lost conviction, but we brought that company to an $ 180 million exit after people said there was no effing way and that felt really good,” Chavez says of staying the course. “The good entrepreneurs have that demonic energy.” But if everyone involved agrees a project isn’t working, they’ll shutter it. “It comes back to opportunity cost of people’s time.”

Chavez has respect for studios taking different approaches, like Atomic in consumer startups, Science in e-commerce and Pioneer Square Labs, which maintains a larger fund staff. “What excites me is moving entrepreneurship a step forward. Why couldn’t we franchise this in other cities?” He hopes {super}set can attract top talent that “just want to work on cool shit” rather than getting sucked into a single company.

Can {super}set keep all the plates spinning and really lower their risk? “If we’re wrong there will be a giant orange plume streak across the sky. The early returns are promising but we have to prove it,” Chavez says. But after accruing plenty of wealth for himself, he says the thrill that keeps him in the startup game is seeing life-changing outcomes for his teams. “I have spreadsheets showing the wealth generated by employees of companies I’ve built and nothing makes me happier than seeing them pay for tuitions, property, or retiring.”


TechCrunch

On-demand video streaming giant Netflix, which is increasingly expanding its footprint in developing markets, now has a new competitor in Indonesia: Gojek.

The Indonesian ride-hailing giant on Thursday launched a video streaming service called GoPlay that features exclusive access to “hundreds of movies and TV shows” as well as snackable short clips. The streaming service is currently available only in Indonesia.

The service, which Gojek began testing with select users in June, focuses on local content, Edy Sulistyo, CEO of GoPlay said. Gojek, which was valued at $ 9.5 billion in its last financing round, said it has partnered with major local production houses such as Base Entertainment, Kalyana Shira Films, and Wahana Kreator for production of original titles. The firm said it has also tied up with some international studios to source foreign content.

“Despite a rise in demand for local content and a growing number of mobile audiences in Indonesia, access has still been limited especially for consumers living outside of urban areas. With GoPlay, we aim to enable all Indonesian consumers to enjoy high-quality on-demand entertainment at their convenience, while providing a platform for local content producers to showcase their creative work,” said Sulistyo in a statement.

Gojek is offering the video streaming service through two aggressively priced monthly plans: IDR 89,000 ($ 6.27), which offers access to the full catalog in HD; and IDR 99,000 ($ 7), which will additionally also provide users with access to GoFood delivery vouchers.

GoPlay will compete with a range of streaming services such as Netflix, iFlix, and Hooq. Netflix last year began testing a low-cost mobile-only plan in some developing markets including Indonesia to boost its presence in those nations. The global giant eventually launched the affordable tier in India earlier this year. A Netflix spokesperson told TechCrunch this week that it currently has no plans to expand the low-cost tier to other markets.

Like many other major firms in Southeast Asia, Gojek is increasingly bulking up its ride-sharing platform to enter additional categories. Today, it offers an online payments service and a gaming platform. The firm began working on its video streaming service last year after it set up an in-house content studio.

Grab, Gojek’s arch rival in Southeast Asian markets, and India’s Ola, have also expanded their offerings in recent years. While Grab, like Gojek, offers everything including a video streaming service, Ola launched a credit card in May.

Grab has a partnership with Hooq for its video streaming service. In the run up to GoPlay’s launch, Hooq CEO Peter Bithos told TechCrunch in an interview that Gojek lacks the reach Hooq maintains in Southeast Asian markets. “Gojek hasn’t been able to get to anything like the scale or reach that we’ve got,” he said.

About 125 million people in Indonesia, or half of the nation’s population, is currently online. Sulistyo said Gojek sees a lot of potential for GoPlay’s growth in the country.

Indonesia has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in recent years. According to a study conducted by Google and Singapore’s Temasek, Indonesia’s internet economy is estimated to be worth $ 100 billion by 2025.


TechCrunch

Accion Venture Lab—the seed-stage investment arm of non-profit Accion—has raised $ 23 million for a new inclusive fintech startup fund.

The Accion Venture Lab Limited Partnership, as its called, will make seed-stage investments in inclusive fintech startups, defined as ventures that “that leverage technology to increase the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the under-served at scale,” per a company release.

The new fund was raised with capital contributions from a number of participants, including the Ford Foundation, Visa Inc. and Proparco—the development finance institution of the French government.

The additional $ 23 million brings Accion Venture Lab‘s total capital under management to $ 42 million.

The new LP fund will consider startups from any geography, as along as they meet specific criteria. Overall, Accion Venture Lab doesn’t have regional investment quotas, but does look to allocate roughly 25 to 30 percent of its funds to Africa, Accion Venture Lab Managing Director Tahira Dosani told TechCrunch on a call.

“We want to continue to focus on Latin-America, on Sub-Saharan Africa, on Southeast Asia as well as in the U.S. It really is about…where we see the need and the opportunity across the markets that we’re in,” she said.

In line with Accion’s mandate to boost financial inclusion globally, Accion Venture Lab already has a portfolio of 36 fintech startup investments across 5 continents—including 9 in the U.S., 8 in Latin America, and 8 in India.

“Our goal is to really be the that first institutional investor in the companies we invest in. That’s were we see the biggest capital gap. And it’s where we build capability and expertise,” Dosani said. In 2018, Accion Venture Lab successfully exited Indian fintech company Aye Finance, following exits in 2017 and 2016.

Tahira Dosani Accion Venture Lab I

This year Accion Venture Lab supported a $ 6.5 million Series A investment in Lulalend, a South African startup that uses internal credit metrics to provide short-term loans to SMEs that are often unable to obtain working capital.

Accion’s new LP fund will follow past practice and make investments typically in the $ 500,000 range. It will start sourcing startups immediately through its investment leads around the world and already made its first seed financing to U.S. venture Joust—a fintech platform for gig economy workers.

Accion Venture Lab’s LP fund is the first time the organization has pooled third-party investment capital, according to a spokesperson.

On the appeal for those contributing, Dosani named Accion’s geographic reach and experience. “We think that’s our strength, because we’re able to invest in similar business models across different markets. And we’re able to bring that knowledge from one market to another,” she said.

The Ford Foundation contributed $ 2 million, according to an email from Christine Looney, Deputy Director, Mission Investments. Visa didn’t disclose its capital contribution, but told TechCrunch it will play a role in governance through its participation in a Limited Partners Advisory Committee for the new fund.

As a point of observation, Accion Venture Lab stands out as a fund for giving an equal pitch footing to fintech ventures across frontier, emerging, and developed markets from Lagos to London.

Accion’s new LP fund—along with the organization’s commitment to make nearly a third of its investments in Africa—means more capital to digital finance startups on the continent. By a number of estimates, Africa’s 1.2 billion people still represent the largest share of the world’s unbanked and underbanked population.

 

 

 


TechCrunch

French startup Alan announced new products, international expansion plans and a brand refresh at a press conference this morning. The company also announced plans to overhaul some of its tech stack to improve the overall user experience.

Alan is a software-as-a-service startup that offers health insurance in France. The company wants to create a well-designed insurance product with transparent pricing and policies to make healthcare more accessible. The startup has obtained an official health insurance license and raised around $ 86 million over the years.

Until today, Alan offered insurance products to companies and freelancers. The startup is greatly expanding its potential user base by addressing new markets.

“Our users are smart. We already had users for all products that we’re launching today, but they were working around the rules,” co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian said.

First, Alan is launching specific insurance products for the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants). Companies and employees can sign up directly from the mobile app as people working in the hospitality industry don’t sit in front of a computer all day long.

These insurance products are now compliant with legal requirements for the hospitality industry. There are two different tiers, Alan Cerises with basic coverage for €30 per month and Alan Pomme with better coverage for €55 per month. As always, companies pay at least 50 percent of health insurance, employees pay the rest.

Alan is also launching an insurance product for individuals, not just freelancers. And it opens up three new segments — individuals who don’t work for a French company or have specific needs, retired people and public servants.

Starting today, teachers, retired people looking for a digital insurance product and other individuals can sign up to Alan. Pricing depends on your age. It ranges from €46 per month if you’re 18, €62 per month if you’re 30, €83 per month if you’re 50, €133 per month if you’re 70, etc.

Alan Lockup Horizontal Green RGB Large

When it comes to branding, Alan has worked with James Vincent on a new logo, a new color palette, a new mascot design, etc. The company is also launching a TV ad.

“Our mission is to be more than a health insurance company, we want to be your health ally,” Samuelian said.

Alan also shared some details about future product updates and business updates. The company is going to expand to other countries starting next year.

After looking at other European markets, Alan is going to focus on Spain and Belgium first. The startup doesn’t need to re-apply to a local license as it can passport its insurance license all around Europe.

Alan has also been working on a big overhaul of its tech stack. The company has been working with a third-party company to handle payments and reimbursements in order to launch more quickly.

But Alan started working on its own payment system. 30 percent of the engineering team is going to work on that project from May 2019 to December 2019. And the goal is to make payments 10 times faster after the switch. Sending a dentist or optician quote to see if Alan is going to cover you is going to be much faster as well.

There are now 126 people working for Alan. 2,850 French companies use Alan to cover 37,000 people. It represents $ 31 million in annual recurring revenue (€28 million). And the company still has a ton of cash on its bank account — around $ 61 million (€55 million).

Over the next 12 months, the company wants to cover 100,000 people and have a team of 250 employees. In other words, things are looking good.


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