Day: July 13, 2021

Build a digital ops toolbox to streamline business processes with hyperautomation

Boopathy Rajendran
Contributor

Boopathy Rajendran is the senior vice president and heads global delivery and services at Vuram, a hyperautomation services company specializing in low-code enterprise automation.

Reliance on a single technology as a lifeline is a futile battle now. When simple automation no longer does the trick, delivering end-to-end automation needs a combination of complementary technologies that can give a facelift to business processes: the digital operations toolbox.

According to a McKinsey survey, enterprises that have likely been successful with digital transformation efforts adopted sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things or machine learning. Enterprises can achieve hyperautomation with the digital ops toolbox, the hub for your digital operations.

The hyperautomation market is burgeoning: Analysts predict that by 2025, it will reach around $860 billion.

The toolbox is a synchronous medley of intelligent business process management (iBPM), robotic process automation (RPA), process mining, low code, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and a rules engine. The technologies can be optimally combined to achieve the organization’s key performance indicator (KPI) through hyperautomation.

The hyperautomation market is burgeoning: Analysts predict that by 2025, it will reach around $860 billion. Let’s see why.

The purpose of a digital ops toolbox

The toolbox, the treasure chest of technologies it is, helps with three crucial aspects: process automation, orchestration and intelligence.

Process automation: A hyperautomation mindset introduces the world of “automating anything that can be,” whether that’s a process or a task. If something can be handled by bots or other technologies, it should be.

Orchestration: Hyperautomation, per se, adds an orchestration layer to simple automation. Technologies like intelligent business process management orchestrate the entire process.

Intelligence: Machines can automate repetitive tasks, but they lack the decision-making capabilities of humans. And, to achieve a perfect harmony where machines are made to “think and act,” or attain cognitive skills, we need AI. Combining AI, ML and natural language processing algorithms with analytics propels simple automation to become more cognitive. Instead of just following if-then rules, the technologies help gather insights from the data. The decision-making capabilities enable bots to make decisions.

 

Simple automation versus hyperautomation

Here’s a story of evolving from simple automation to hyperautomation with an example: an order-to-cash process.

Twitter adds an edit tweet feature, but it’s not what you think

Quiet, please.

Twitter knows sometimes you need to change your tweets after the fact.

On Tuesday, the company announced a new feature that allows users to retroactively restrict who can respond to specific tweets. The thinking, according to a Twitter spokesperson, is that sometimes users don’t realize their tweets are going to draw heat until it’s too late.

“This update could benefit people who may Tweet something that receives unexpected attention and unwanted replies,” explained the spokesperson. “We’ve learned Conversation Settings help some people feel safer by limiting these unwanted replies so they can participate in more meaningful conversations, while still allowing people to see different points of view.” 

Tweet may have been deleted

This expands on an earlier feature, released in 2020, which allowed users to decide who can reply to their tweets before sending them. The update essentially lets users edit the “who can reply” setting on their tweets, after the tweets are already out in the world — though the Twitter employees who tweeted about the new feature studiously avoided using the E-word.

Tweet may have been deleted

According to Twitter, this new edit-replies feature is immediately available on iOS, Android, and the web. Notably, Twitter confirmed that is also applies to old tweets. In other words, users can go back and retroactively edit the reply settings on tweets dating back years.

SEE ALSO: Twitter gives everyone the power to limit tweet replies (for real this time)

This added bit of control should, at least in theory, make Twitter a less confrontational place for all users — both those being harassed, and those receiving valid criticism.

Apple is reportedly working on a pay later feature for Apple Pay

Igor Bonifacic
Contributor

Igor Bonifacic is a contributing writer at Engadget.

If you’ve done any online shopping in the last little while, there’s a good chance you’ve run into services like Affirm and PayPal’s Pay in 4. They allow you to purchase something and pay for it later by splitting up the total cost of the item into several installments.

By the looks of things, Apple could soon offer a similar option to Apple Pay users. According to Bloomberg, the company is working with Goldman Sachs on a service called “Apple Pay Later” that will allow those with its devices to settle purchases over time, including ones they make at physical shops.

When using the service, the outlet says you’ll have two ways of paying for your purchase. If you pick the “Apple Pay in 4” option, you’ll need to make four interest-free payments across two months.

The other option is to extend the payment period over multiple months, though in that case interest comes into play. Bloomberg says it wasn’t able to determine how much interest Apple plans to charge or when the company will roll out the service.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the report, and we’ll update this article when we hear back from the company. But in many ways, Apple Pay Later sounds like a logical extension of what the company is already doing with Apple Card, where one of the perks it offers is installment plans for Mac and iPad purchases.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget

Black drivers get less respect from cops, body camera research shows

Police officers treat Black male drivers with less respect and are less comfortable around them than white male drivers, according to new research.

A police officer’s tone reveals a lot about racial disparities in policing.

That’s what researchers found in a series of experiments where they played 250 audio clips of police stops to 414 people of varying races and genders.

The researchers edited the clips, which were split evenly between Black and white male drivers, so participants couldn’t understand what an officer said but could still hear their tone. Researchers kept officers’ race and gender secret, but it’s possible participants could still infer some of those details from the audio, says Nicholas Camp, lead author on the study and assistant professor of organizational studies at the University of Michigan. The driver’s speech was also omitted so participants only heard the officers’ tones.

Even so, participants in the study published this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology rated police officers’ tones when talking with Black male drivers as significantly less friendly and less at ease than with white male drivers. These results held true despite participant and officer demographics.

This new research underlines a concern many in the Black community have voiced for years. It also comes as the nation debates the future of policing following a wave of protests against police brutality. While routine police interactions don’t make as many headlines as when police fatally shoot people, Camp thinks they’re still important to analyze because they demonstrate how police act every day with the communities they’re assigned to protect. These encounters can help build trust between officers and the public — or they can erode it.

“We really wanted to see if there were differences in the most common and routine interactions,” says Camp. “But even with these routine encounters, we see these disparities, and they have consequences.”

Camp considers all of the audio clips his team played to the participants as mundane traffic stops, meaning no arrests or use of force was involved. The 132 police officers who conducted the stops were mostly male and about 40 percent were white. The researchers denied Mashable’s request to publish the audio clips.

Police interactions with the public shouldn’t have to escalate to a fatality in order for body camera footage to be released, advocates for police transparency have argued.

“When we’re talking about racial disparities in policing, a lot of times we’re constrained by what we have records on,” says Camp. “We don’t know a lot about how officers actually interact and communicate with the public.”

Across the country, a patchwork of laws dictate if the public has access to police body camera footage like what these researchers used. For example, when police shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenager in Ohio on April 20 the Columbus Division of Police released the footage hours later because of state law. But, when police fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man in North Carolina, the next day, a judge ruled the footage wouldn’t be released publicly and only Brown’s family could view it.

Camp thinks obscuring body camera footage is a missed opportunity for both police departments and the public because it can reveal police officers’ behavior and how it could change with interventions.

Procedural justice trainings, which aim to respond to community concerns and champion transparency, might be one effective way to encourage officers improve how they interact with Black people, given this study’s findings.

“[Some of these trainings] focus on how officers behave themselves in routine interactions, so giving drivers a chance to tell their side of the story, explaining why the officer stopped the driver,” says Camp. “Part of procedural justice is building trust and respect.”

Participants who felt they’d been treated unfairly by police during their last encounter with an officer tended to judge the clips as more harsh than those who said they’d been treated more fairly. White participants said more often that they had fair interactions with police, but they didn’t say they received more lenient punishment, like getting a warning instead of a ticket.

Despite his research, Camp doesn’t believe an officer’s tone is the biggest challenge in policing.

“If I was talking to a police officer, I wouldn’t say the only thing you need to change is you should have a higher-pitched voice and chuckle a couple of times,” he says. “When you’re communicating with a driver, is your goal to emphasize that you have control over the situation…that you think they’re up to no good or is your goal here to treat the person with respect and…like they have a say in this interaction?”

While Camp doesn’t find differing treatment of Black and white people by police surprising, he didn’t expect the participants to pick up these disparities from the audio they played given it only included tone. Camp’s previously researched the language police use and found then too that officers talk to Black people less respectfully than white people.

Tone, while just one part of communication, can be an important way for police departments to win the public’s confidence.

Tone “can influence the trust that people have in police departments,” Camp says.

Masten Space Systems to develop a GPS-like network for the Moon

Masten Space Systems, a startup that’s aiming to send a lander to the Moon in 2023, will develop a lunar navigation and positioning system not unlike GPS here on Earth.

Masten’s prototype is being developed as part of a contract awarded through the Air Force Research Laboratory’s AFWERX program. Once deployed, it’ll be a first-of-its-kind off-world navigational system.

Up until this point, spacecraft heading to the Moon must carry equipment onboard to detect hazards and assist with navigation. To some extent, it makes sense that a shared navigation network has never been established: humans have only landed on the Moon a handful of times, and while there have been many more uncrewed landings, lunar missions still haven’t exactly been a regular occurrence.

But as the costs of going to orbit and beyond have drastically decreased, thanks in part to innovations in launch technology by companies like SpaceX, space is likely to get a lot busier. Many private companies and national space divisions have set their sights on the Moon in particular. Masten is one of them: it was chosen by NASA to deliver commercial and private payloads to a site near the Haworth Crater at the lunar south pole. That mission, originally scheduled for December 2022, was pushed back to November 2023.

Other entities are also looking to go to the Moon. Chief amongst them is NASA with its Artemis program, which will send two astronauts to the Moon’s surface in 2024. These missions will likely only increase in the coming decades, making a common navigation network more of a necessity.

“Unlike Earth, the Moon isn’t equipped with GPS so lunar spacecraft and orbital assets are essentially operating in the dark,” Masten’s VP of research and development Matthew Kuhns explained in a statement.

The system will work like this: spacecraft will deploy position, navigation and timing (PNT) beacons onto the lunar surface. The PNT beacons will enable a surface-based network that broadcasts radio signal, allowing spacecraft and other orbital assets to wireless connect for navigation, timing and location tracking.

The company already concluded Phase I of the project, which involved completing the concept design for the PNT beacons. The bulk of the engineering challenge will come in Phase II, when Masten will develop the PNT beacons. They must be able to withstand harsh lunar conditions, so Masten is partnering with defense and technology company Leidos to build shock-proof beacon enclosures. The aim is to complete the second phase in 2023.

“By establishing a shared navigation network on the Moon, we can lower spacecraft costs by millions of dollars, increase payload capacity, and improve landing accuracy near the most resource-rich sites on the Moon,” Kuhns said.

How to download podcasts

Woman enjoys a downloaded podcast in nature.

Avoid the frustration of your podcasts cutting out when you lose service by learning how to download them right to your phone.

Podcasts are digital audio series sort of like a radio show that tend to focus on a certain theme or topic. Interest in podcasts are seemingly at an all time high, and there are podcasts about anything and everything, from educational podcasts to something a little bit more relaxing.

To access podcasts you need to be connected to the internet, so it is helpful to know how to download them for those times when you are disconnected. There are lots of podcast apps out there, but we are going to show you how to download podcasts on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

If you’re heading out of service, but you need the constant chatter of a podcast to keep you sane, you’ve come to the right place. Below you will find how to download podcasts on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

How to download podcasts on Apple Podcasts:

1. Open Apple Podcasts

2. Find the episode you want to download

3. Tap the three gray dots in the right hand corner of the podcast episode.

Select the three gray dots to download your podcast.

Select the three gray dots to download your podcast.
Credit: screenshot: apple

4. Select “Download Episode”

Select "Download Episode" to download your podcast episode.

Select “Download Episode” to download your podcast episode.
Credit: screenshot: Apple

You will know that the podcast episode has downloaded when a small upside down arrow appears next to the three gray dots.

You know your podcast episode has downloaded when the upside down arrow appears.

You know your podcast episode has downloaded when the upside down arrow appears.
Credit: screenshot: apple

Once your episode has downloaded it can be found in your library under the “Downloaded” tab.

Tap "Downloaded" to access all your downloaded podcast episodes.

Tap “Downloaded” to access all your downloaded podcast episodes.
Credit: Screenshot: apple

How to download podcasts on Spotify:

1. Open the Spotify app

2. Find the episode you want to download

3. Tap the three gray dots.

Click the three gray dots to download your podcast episode.

Click the three gray dots to download your podcast episode.
Credit: Screenshot: Spotify

4. Select download

Tap "Download" to download your podcast episode.

Tap “Download” to download your podcast episode.
Credit: screenshot: spotify

You will know that the podcast has downloaded when the upside down arrow below the episode becomes green.

The upside down green arrow indicates a podcast episode is downloaded.

The upside down green arrow indicates a podcast episode is downloaded.
Credit: screenshot: Spotify

Once your episode has downloaded it can be found in your library in “Your Episodes.”

You can find your downloaded podcast episodes in "My Episodes."

You can find your downloaded podcast episodes in “My Episodes.”
Credit: Screenshot: Spotify

Now you know how to listen to all your favorite podcasts offline!

Heart Aerospace raises $35M Series A, lands order with United and Mesa Airlines for 200 aircraft

Swedish electric aviation startup Heart Aerospace has received its biggest order to date: 200 of its inaugural ES-19 electric aircraft from aviation giant United Airlines and its regional airline partner Mesa Air Group.

The deal, which includes an option of purchasing up to 100 additional aircraft, was announced together with a $35 million Series A funding round. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, United’s venture arm and Mesa led the round. Seed investors EQT Ventures and Lowercarbon Capital also participated.

The ES-19 is a regional airplane that seats 19 and runs on batteries and electric motors instead of traditional jet fuel. The startup says it will deliver the first aircraft for commercial use by 2026. These aircraft will be designed for flights of up to 250 miles based on today’s battery technology.

Heart has made a full-scale prototype of its electric propulsion system, the core of its technical innovation. But the company still has to complete many steps along the way to its proposed date of commercial operations. Chief amongst these is actually assembling a prototype of the full aircraft, testing it and getting it certified with relevant authorities in the U.S. and Europe.

Heart’s founder, aerospace engineer Anders Forslund, said this recent funding round will go toward working with suppliers to validate the safety and reliability of the myriad other systems that need to go in the aircraft, like the avionics system, flight control and even the all-important de-icing system. The company’s talking with around 50 suppliers for these remaining parts, he said. The aviation startup is also building a massive test facility to assemble and demonstrate the full prototype ES-19.

Heart’s in a relativity advantageous position compared to electric air taxis, at least with regard to regulators, because it intends to slot in with existing aviation infrastructure (no special vertiports for the ES-19). Besides the electric propulsion system, which is admittedly a major innovation, the company will be relying on existing technology for other individual systems.

Image Credits: Heart Aerospace

Forslund noted in an interview with TechCrunch that the 2026 launch date is “not just something that we have as a lofty goal that we’d like to parade around on the internet, but it’s what our suppliers are working toward, what our certifying authorities are working toward as well.”

Although the company is based in Sweden, it’s likely that final assembly of at least some of the aircraft will take place in North America to fulfill orders with companies in those countries, Forslund added.

The agreement with Heart is the latest electric aviation wager made by United this year. The airline also put in a $1 billion order and invested in air taxi startup Archer Aviation in February (Forslund declined to specify the financial amount of United’s order). Both the Archer and Heart orders are conditional on certain safety and operational standards, and both companies are at least a handful of years away from going to market. The investments mark the beginning of a sea change in aviation — one already well underway in personal vehicle transportation — toward lower- and zero-emissions technologies.

The deal may also revitalize the 19-seat plane, once a mainstay of regional air travel. The plane type has fallen victim to unprofitable margins resulting in the retirement of more than 1,500 of the aircraft over the past 30 years. Regional air travel has also steadily declined in the United States since the 1990s. Mesa was at one point the largest operator of the 19-seater.

On its website, Heart points out that the smaller conventional planes are no longer economical when the engine cost of ownership is equivalent for a 19- or 70-seater. But it says that its electric aircraft will change the equation. The ES-19 electric motor is 20 times less expensive than an equivalent turboprop and maintenance costs will be reduced by 100-fold, Heart claims.

Heart was founded in 2018 after being spun out of a research project at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company joined Y Combinator’s winter 2019 cohort after closing its $2.2 million seed in May of that year. Heart’s grown to around fifty employees and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Aviation is difficult, and we want to build a plane that doesn’t reinvent the wheel,” Forslund said. “[We’re] just focusing on building an aircraft that’s electric, that’s safe, that’s efficient, and that’s reliable and it’s something that airlines can find profitable in operating.”

The 10 best toaster ovens you can buy on Amazon

Toaster ovens are about way more than just heating up frozen waffles. They’re essentially a tiny version of your oven that fits on a countertop. From pizza to dessert to (of course) breakfast, the possibilities are practically endless. You can browse the bestselling cookbook 101 Things to Do with A Toaster Oven if you don’t believe us, but that’s just the beginning.

Good toaster ovens come in a huge range of prices and features. If you’re just looking for an inexpensive countertop gadget that does the basics, you can’t go wrong with this Oster digital model, an Amazon’s Choice pick. At the other end of the spectrum is the granddaddy of toaster ovens — the $400 Breville Smart Oven that can roast a whole turkey.

Whether you’re just looking to spruce up your breakfast routine or want to experiment with cooking on your countertop, there’s a toaster oven out there just waiting for you to bring it home. We scoured through dozens of reviews on Amazon to bring you this list of well-loved toaster ovens to get the job done:

Why did file sharing drive so much startup innovation?

One of the great things about editing all of our deep-dive EC-1 startup profiles is that you start to notice patterns across successful companies. While origin stories and trajectories can vary widely, the best companies seem to come from similar places and are conceived around very peculiar themes.

To wit, one common theme that came from our recent profiles of Expensify and NS1 is the centrality of file sharing (or, illegal file sharing if you are on that side of the fence) and internet infrastructure in the origin stories of the two companies. That’s peculiar, because the duo honestly couldn’t be more different. Expensify is an SF-founded (now Portland-based), decentralized startup focused on building expense reporting and analytics software for companies and CFOs. New York-based NS1 designs highly-redundant DNS and internet traffic performance tools for web applications.

Yet, take a look at how the two companies were founded. Anna Heim on the origins of Expensify:

To truly understand Expensify, you first need to take a close look at a unique, short-lived, P2P file-sharing company called Red Swoosh, which was Travis Kalanick’s startup before he founded Uber. Framed by Kalanick as his “revenge business” after his previous P2P startup Scour was sued into oblivion for copyright infringement, Red Swoosh would be the precursor for Expensify’s future culture and ethos. In fact, many of Expensify’s initial team actually met at Red Swoosh, which was eventually acquired by Akamai Technologies in 2007 for $18.7 million.

[Expensify founder and CEO David] Barrett, a self-proclaimed alpha geek and lifelong software engineer, was actually Red Swoosh’s last engineering manager, hired after the failure of his first project, iGlance.com, a P2P push-to-talk program that couldn’t compete against Skype. “While I was licking my wounds from that experience, I was approached by Travis Kalanick who was running a startup called Red Swoosh,” he recalled in an interview.

Then you head over to Sean Michael Kerner’s story on how NS1 came together:

NS1’s story begins back at the turn of the millennium, when [NS1 co-founder and CEO Kris] Beevers was an undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in upstate New York and found himself employed at a small file-sharing startup called Aimster with some friends from RPI. Aimster was his first taste of life at an internet startup in the heady days of the dot-com boom and bust, and also where he met an enterprising young engineer by the name of Raj Dutt, who would become a key relationship over the next two decades.

By 2007, Beevers had completed his Ph.D. in robotic mapping at RPI and tried his hand at co-founding and running an engineered-wood-product company named SolidJoint Research, Inc. for 10 months. But he soon boomeranged back to the internet world, joining some of his former co-workers from Aimster at a company called Voxel that had been founded by Dutt.

The startup provided a cornucopia of services including basic web hosting, server co-location, content delivery and DNS services. “Voxel was one of those companies where you learn a lot because you’re doing way more than you rightfully should,” Beevers said. “It was a business sort of built out of love for the tech, and love for solving problems.”

The New York City-based company peaked at some 60 employees before it was acquired in December 2011 by Internap Network Services for $35 million.

Note some of the similarities here. First, these wildly different founders ended up both working on key internet plumbing. Which makes sense of course, since back two decades ago, building out the networking and compute capacity of the internet was one of the major engineering challenges of that period in the web’s history.

Additionally in both cases, the founding teams met at little-known companies defined by their engineering cultures and which sold to larger internet infrastructure conglomerates for relatively small amounts of money. And those acquirers ended up being laboratories for all kinds of innovation, even as few people really remember Akamai or Internap these days (both companies are still around today mind you).

The cohort of founders is fascinating. Obviously, you have Travis Kalanick, who would later go on to found Uber. But the Voxel network that went to Internap is hardly a slouch:

Dutt would leave Internap to start Grafana, an open-source data visualization vendor that has raised over $75 million to date. Voxel COO Zachary Smith went on to found bare metal cloud provider, Packet, in 2013, which he ran as CEO until the company was acquired by Equinix in March 2020 for $335 million. Meanwhile, Justin Biegel, who spent time at Voxel in operations, has raised nearly $62 million for his startup Kentik. And of course, NS1 was birthed from the same alumni network.

What’s interesting to me with these two companies (and some others in our set of stories) is how often founders worked on other problems before starting the companies that would make them famous. They learned the trade, built networks of hyper-intelligent present and future colleagues, understood business development and growth, and started to create a flywheel of innovation amidst their friends. They also got a taste of an exit without really getting the whole meal, if you will.

In particular with file sharing, what’s interesting is the rebellious and democratic ethos that came with that world back at the turn of the millennium. To work in file sharing in that era meant fighting the big music labels, overturning the economics of entire industries, and breaking down barriers to allow the internet economy to flourish. It attracted a weird bunch of folks — the exact kind of weirdness that happens to make good startup founders, apparently. It echos one of the key arguments of Fred Turner’s book, “From Counterculture to Cyberculture.”

Which begs the question then: what are the “file sharing” markets today that these sorts of individuals congregate around? One that seems obvious to me is blockchain, which has precisely that balance of rebelliousness, democratization, and technical excellence (well, at least some of the time!) And then there are the modern-day “pirates” today such as Alexandra Elbakyan who invented and has operated Sci-Hub to make the world’s research and knowledge democratized.

It’s maybe not the current batch of companies that we see which will become the next extraordinary unicorns. But watch the people who show up in the interesting places — because their next projects often seem to hit gold.

Zero’s FXE offers electric motorcycle fun in a slightly new package

Zero Motorcycles has been around for over a decade and in that time it’s consistently improved its fleet of electric bikes. With the new FXE, the northern California company has taken the thoroughly enjoyable FXS supermoto and transformed it into something a bit more futuristic looking with a new easier-to-parse display.

The FXE likely isn’t a great pick for two-wheeled beginners or for folks that want a weekend cruiser, but for the experienced rider who needs a daily commuter that packs agility and power into a fun package, the 100-mile range FXE might be the best way to get to and from work. Watch our first ride video for the full story.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget. Roberto Baldwin is an Engadget contributor. 

The stress-relieving Fitbit Sense smartwatch is now as low as $219.99 at Amazon

The Fitbit Sense does more than track your heart rate.

Save up to $79.96: The Fitbit Sense advanced smartwatch is on sale for as low as $219.99 with an extra discount applied at checkout at Amazon as of July 13.


When you hop on the elliptical in your new home gym, it’s important to track your progress. And there are plenty of high-quality and affordable fitness trackers to help you in that regard. But there’s more to wellness than physical health, and if you want to manage everyday stress with a smartwatch, the new Fitbit Sense is really your only option.

This versatile Fitbit Sense advanced smartwatch is on sale for as low as $219.99 at Amazon if you’re ready for a new way to track your overall health. If you want the best price, the white and gold Fitbit Sense includes an extra $8.96 discount that applies during checkout for a final price of $219.99. On the other hand, the carbon and graphite model is available for $229.95, but the $70 discount is still one of the best we’ve seen since its release last year.

The Fitbit Sense does what you expect for a smartwatch with fitness tracking capabilities, but what sets it apart is the stress management features. It uses an electrodermal activity or EDA scan app to detect very tiny electrical changes on your skin. These may indicate how your body responds to stress, and this information can be combined with the Fitbit app to track stress over time and take part in mindfulness sessions to better control it.

Beyond stress management, the Fitbit Sense is still one of the most advanced fitness trackers on the market. Its state-of-the-art ECG app offers an on-wrist heart assessment that screens for any heart rhythm irregularities you can share with your doctor. It also monitors your skin temperature while you sleep, includes built-in GPS, boasts up to six days of battery life, and optimizes your sleep.

A lot of fancy fitness technology is packed into a tiny device on your wrist, and a low price of $219.99 makes the Fitbit Sense one of your best tools for complete wellness in body and mind.


Save up to $79.96 at Amazon

Credit: Fitbit

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Breach simulation startup AttackIQ raises $44M to fuel expansion

AttackIQ, a cybersecurity startup that provides organizations with breach and attack simulation solutions, has raised $44 million in Series C funding as it looks to ramp up its international expansion.

The funding round was led by Atlantic Bridge, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), and Gaingels, with existing vendors — including Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Telstra Ventures — also participating. The round brings the company’s total funding raised to date to $79 million. 

AttackIQ was founded in 2013 and is based out of San Diego, California. It provides an automated validation platform that runs scenarios to detect any gaps in a company’s defenses, enabling organizations to test and measure the effectiveness of their security posture and receive guidance on how to fix what’s broken. Broadly, AttackIQ’s platform helps an organization’s security teams to anticipate, prepare, and hunt for threats that may impact their business, before hackers get there first.

Its Security Optimization Platform platform, which supports Windows, Linux, and macOS across public, private, and on-premises cloud environments, is based on the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a curated knowledge base of known adversary threats, tactics, and techniques. This is used by a number of cybersecurity companies also building continuous validation services including FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, and Cymulate.

AttackIQ says this latest round of funding, which comes more than two years after its last, arrives at a “dynamic time” for the company. Not only has cybersecurity become more of a priority for organizations as a result of a major uptick in both ransomware and supply-chain attacks, the company also recently accelerated its international expansion efforts through a partnership with technology distributor Westcon.

The startup says it’s planning to use these new funds to further expand internationally through its newfound partnership with Atlantic Bridge, which will also see Kevin Dillon, the company’s co-founder and managing director, join the AttackIQ board of directors. 

“AttackIQ has established itself as a category leader with a formidable enterprise customer base that includes four of the Fortune 20,” said Dillon. “We believe deeply in the company’s vision and potential to become the next billion-dollar cybersecurity software company and look forward to helping the company turn early traction in Europe and the Middle East into robust, long-term expansion.”

Brett Galloway, CEO of AttackIQ, said the round “reaffirms the strength” of its platform.

As well as enabling organizations to review the robustness of their security defenses, the startup also runs the AttackIQ Academy, which provides free entry-level and advanced cybersecurity training. It has accumulated 17,200 registered students to date across 176 countries.

‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘WandaVision,’ ‘Bridgerton’ score Emmy nominations

After a delayed 2020 Emmy season, TV’s biggest award show is back with vigor. The 2021 Emmy. nominations were announced Tuesday, with old favorites like The Crown and black-ish as well as welcome recognition for Pose, I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, and more.

The nominations were presented by Ron Cephas-Jones and daughter Jasmine Cephas-Jones, who made Emmy history in 2020 by both winning statues in the same season.

Here are the 2021 Emmy nominations.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

Conan
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Outstanding Competition Program

The Amazing Race
Nailed It!
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

Aidy Bryant, Shrill
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Alison Janney, Mom
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
Jean Smart, Hacks

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Kenan Thompson, Kenan

Outstanding Comedy Series

black-ish
Cobra Kai
Emily in Paris
Hacks
The Flight Attendant
The Kominsky Method
Pen15
Ted Lasso

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Paul Bettany, WandaVision
Hugh Grant, The Undoing
Ewan McGregor, Halston
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You
Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha
Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit
Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

I May Destroy You
Mare of Easttown
The Queen’s Gambit
The Underground Railroad
WandaVision

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Uzo Aduba, In Treatment
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Emma Corrin, The Crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
M.J. Rodriguez, Pose
Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Rege-Jean Page, Bridgerton
Billy Porter, Pose
Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Outstanding Drama Series

The Boys
Bridgerton
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
Lovecraft Country
The Mandalorian
Pose
This Is Us

The 73rd annual Emmy Awards will air Sunday Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS. Check out the Emmys website for the full list of nominations.

Instagram’s new test shows you stuff you’ve seen lately and lets you reshare it to Stories

Instagram is tinkering around with a new test feature that changes the way users reshare content they like to their Stories.

The test, which will only appear for a subset of users, lets users see a collection of content they’ve viewed recently when they’re in the Stories section of the app. That content will be collected under a new reshare sticker, which can be found in the sticker tray when creating a Story. Posts and Reels viewed in the last hour will appear here along with recently created posts.

“We know that people sometimes find reshared content less engaging, personal, and fun,” an Instagram spokesperson said of the test. “We hope that with this new test experience, people are encouraged to be more intentional and deliberate when sharing things that matter to them.”

Content reshared through the sticker will appear against the backdrop of an existing Story, which could encourage more personalization. As it stands now, when users add a post of Reel to their Story, that content generally stands alone against a plain background. The new reshare Sticker adds a new way for people to contextualize content they’re resharing and makes those posts feel a bit less static (think retweets with comment rather than straight up retweeting a stranger into your feed).

The test isn’t guaranteed to make it into the full app, but Instagram will use feedback from the new reshare feature to see if it ups the quality of reshared posts. By letting people review what the’ve seen after the fact rather than just sharing on the fly, the feature could also encourage users to reshare more through their Stories — or at least reshare more thoughtfully.

Instagram tests new features all the time. And while test features don’t always make it into the final product, they do give an indication of what the company is thinking about when it comes to reshaping the app — and the behavior of the more than one billion people who use it on a regular basis.

Other recent Instagram tests have toyed with the idea of hiding Like counts and experimented with mixing algorithmic recommendations into the app’s main feed.

Best sex toys for women: Take pleasure into your own hands

BEST DEALS ON SEX TOYS:


If Instagram is to be believed, then self care for women basically amounts to face masks and daily affirmation apps.

Hot take: Sex toys are the ultimate self-care purchase.

Orgasms release oxytocin, the anti-stress hormone that gets you warm and fuzzy when cuddling, while dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, also makes an appearance. It stands to reason, then, that “I need to get laid” is a thing that actually makes sense to say when you’re having a rough week.

SEE ALSO: Best vibrators (the good, the great, the orgasmic)

Sex toys allow you to give yourself that needed boost whenever you damn well please, and it’s empowering to not have to rely on someone else (though toys are great for spicing things up with a partner, too). Getting to know your body is also key in developing a positive relationship with yourself — the most important relationship you’ll ever have.

Not all sex toys are made equally: Your favorite could be an oral sex simulator or clitoral stimulation via sonic waves, or maybe the Game of Moans dildo sword is what makes winter come. Whatever your preference, there’s so much more available to you than those $10 vibrators at Spencer’s in the mall.

Related Video: I built my own vibrator at CES

The TechCrunch List is dead. Long live commodity capital

It’s been almost exactly a year since we launched The TechCrunch List, a curated directory of venture capitalists designed to guide founders to the VCs most relevant to their startups. We had nearly 4,000 recommendations from founders — often with extensive documentation that in some cases exceeded 1000 words. From our initial edition to several extensive updates, we ultimately selected 531 investors.

It was a great experiment used by hundreds of thousands of people with surprisingly deep engagement (people really love reading lists, apparently). Nonetheless, we are officially retiring the product today.

The reason is simple: the venture capital industry has radically changed over the past year, and the central thesis we used in constructing the list no longer applies.

When we designed the list — which, to be clear, was never a ranking — we organized experienced investors across three main axes:

  • Specialization: We believed that investor specialization mattered. We wanted to match biotech founders with biotech investors and ecommerce companies with ecommerce VCs. The bulk of our work reading through all those founder recommendations was identifying the brilliant investors in 31 different market categories who could offer differentiated strategic advice.
  • Stage: We wanted to match founders with investors who would invest at the stage their companies were at, ranging from pre-seed to growth.
  • Geography: We believed that local investors would have an edge over distant investors for founders, particularly at the earliest stages where regular counseling would be useful to reaching product-market fit.

In other words, we took a very strong view that capital wasn’t a commodity, and that the right investor could radically change the trajectory of a founder’s ambitions.

When we started putting together the plans for The TechCrunch List in January 2020, the pandemic was just starting to spread around the world, and many of these assumptions still held true. However, as I think we have all seen, those assumptions have been completely upended over the past year.

The reality today is that capital has never been cheaper or more commodity. VCs invest rapidly, in all geographies, at all stages, in all industries, constantly, rapidly, and all the time.

I constantly heard this feedback over the past few months from both founders and investors. For founders, the focus on terms and price seem to consistently outrank nearly any other factor in building a relationship with an investor. Few founders would ever countenance lowering the valuations of their companies for a more experienced or specialized investor or an investor who was located locally. At the same price, these factors could differentiate one investor from another, but otherwise, price prevails, pretty much every single time.

Commensurately, VCs (and this applies most heavily at big funds of course) no longer care about any guidelines or theses around investing. Any stage, any geography, any market — if there is a deal to be done, they get it done and quickly. Tiger Global and SoftBank’s Vision Fund dominate this narrative, but there are at least a good dozen other firms that have similar styles these days. And given these are some of the largest firms by assets under management, they also just dominate the term sheets flying around the startup world.

If The TechCrunch List was about bringing signal to the noise of fundraising in order to save founders serious time and work, the reality is that the market today is just complete noise and frenetic chaos, and there truly isn’t much to be done to clarify that. The upshot is that VCs make decisions with more alacrity than ever before, so the good news is that the chaos should be short-lived for founders today.

So what’s next? We’ll continue experimenting with ways to help founders fundraise and find the best investors for them. That’s the premise of Extra Crunch, our Early Stage events and the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt (which is coming up in just a few weeks — so buy your tickets now!) as well as our Extra Crunch Live series of discussions. Who knows, maybe we’ll introduce The TechCrunch List in another form in the future. But for today, it’s burned out and taking a nice, long, post-pandemic vacation.

How To Engage Your Community Via Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are one marketing strategy that everyone underestimates when they’re trying to think of ways to generate leads and engagement. However, while most use Facebook groups to simply gain referral traffic, it isn’t necessarily the best way to leverage the power of these groups.

Instead, promoting and managing them correctly gives you the potential to generate a host of direct leads or sales. All you need is a high engagement rate to encourage people to discuss, share, and respond to you to generate interest. The following Facebook group tips can help you do so for free.

1. Make Engagement Easy

To make engagement easy; you can start a thread and ask your group members to introduce themselves. This is a great way to make your members feel comfortable and start a new conversation. When people start introducing themselves, they can feel valued. They can also start to consider the entire group as an online family because it’s very easy for them to engage in future posts.

If you have time, you can also send personalized messages to members to get them engaged and involved as well. All you have to do is click the person’s name you want to interact with and go to their profile. Once you’re there, you can click on the “Message” button on the top right.

2. Welcome Everyone New

You can start establishing a connection with your members from day one by welcoming them one-on-one. The connection can help the members feel comfortable and included enough to share their thoughts with the group. A member is new if they joined in the last seven days, and you can see the new members on the group discussion view. There’s also a clickable link that shows all of your new members. You can click on the Write Post button below it to create a customized message for each new member.

3. Make Your Space Aesthetic

Most social media users like pleasing visuals and aesthetics. Dress up your users’ space by getting the perfect Facebook cover photo template that best suits your niche and your brand.

You can also post photo quotes to increase engagement. Nowadays, impactful quotes in neutral backgrounds get huge engagement from platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. They also translate well in Facebook. Make sure to choose quotes that your users will feel a connection to.

4. Post Surveys, Quizzes, And Polls

how to do engagement on your facebook group

A survey, poll, or quiz can keep your members talking, and engagement will start happening when you directly ask users for their input. Posting one of these items lets your group members share their thoughts or opinions, interact with you, and interact with each other. A poll can help identify hot trends in your niche, and an occasional survey or quiz can help you steer your campaign in the right direction. You could even add a prize to motivate your group members to participate in your quiz.

5. Ask A Host Of Questions

Posting a few direct questions in your group is a good way to kickstart a conversation. You should think of your question as a call to action that convinces people to join in on the conversation as soon as they see it. You can consider the following questions:

  • Closed – A closed question is one where people can respond with a simple yes or no answer.
  • Debate-Oriented – Debate-oriented questions allow the users to share their answers against or for a questions. You may have to monitor these more if people get passionate about the topic.
  • General – General questions don’t require a lot of effort to answer. It just serves and a very easy and simple way for people to get into the conversation.
  • Open-Ended – An open-ended question is one where you can’t give a simple yes or no answer because it’s the person’s opinion that you’re after. Every member can answer differently with no wrong answers.
  • Image-Based – Sharing a question with an accompanying image can help people grasp the question easily and give informed answers.

6. Schedule Posts

You’ll notice as your group grows that there are certain times during the day where it’s much more lively than others. If it’s a local group, you may see more conversations during the morning or afternoon hours. You want to take advantage of this by posting when the most people are active. If you’re not there, you can schedule posts for these times. Generally speaking, you want to avoid posting on weekends and before eight in the morning and at night. You’ll click on groups in the left menu before clicking on the clock symbol and picking to schedule your post. You can pick the date and time you want before hitting schedule. Your post will go live at this time with no further input from you.

7. Respond, Comment, And Like

engaging your facebook group

You’ll have to put in the work to connect with your community and not expect them to do it all for you. So, you should make a point to like, comment, respond, or do all three things several times a day to different users in the group. Doing so can help you connect to more people and make them believe that you can see them and hear what they’re contributing to the conversation. As a result, they’re likely to engage more.

Bottom Line

These seven quick Facebook group tips can help you engage with and grow a lively audience all centered around your products, services, or brand. Once you create a group and start adding local people, make a point to reach out and invite them to join conversations and stay connected to you. Doing so will help increase your reach and maybe help you sell more.

The post How To Engage Your Community Via Facebook Groups appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 Basic Principles Of Designing An Educational Logo

It is always very important to represent your brand with a proper logo. Over the years, their significance in brand marketing has grown tremendously. Today, every company wants to showcase strong business identity, as it helps them to win customer recognition and potential leads from the market. That is the core reason why they always go for creative logos to present themselves uniquely among others.

Not just the business sector, but professional logos are also termed highly important for other fields such as sports. Considering the widely-followed American football, we all know very well about the popularity of NFL logos in the world. They are not just a symbol of different franchises, but a complete representation of fans associated with the game of American football.

Like sports, the usage of professional logos is also termed crucial for educational institutions. All the top universities and colleges around the world are recognized due to their unique logos. From Columbia University to London School of Economics (LSE), every institution uses a specific logo to showcase its professional identity.

In this article, we’ll discuss some basic principles of creating an educational logo. These tips will simplify your logo designing process as per the latest trends of the industry. Let’s take a look at them in detail below.

Principles Of Creating A Decent Educational Logo

Here are some of the key tips you need to keep in mind while designing a logo for an educational institution.

Define A Strong Motto

When designing an educational logo, you must need to understand the importance of using the right slogan. This is basically a particular catchphrase that defines some important motivational lines. Using them will give your logo a great representation, aiming to showcase the central educational idea of the institution.

You can learn the art of writing a perfect slogan by looking into the examples of different top universities around the world. This will give you a good idea of how to write them while incorporating impactful thoughts about education.

These catchphrases will eventually enhance the inspirational credibility of your logo, encouraging many students to join the relevant institution.

Pick A Unique Image

Most universities and colleges use books as their primary logo image. For an educational logo, this is an understandable thing, but sometimes it becomes too obvious and boring.

To gain an edge among others in the market, you need to try out some new material. This could be an entire school building or a flag with a customized pen of the institution. There are a lot of things that can be tried and experimented keeping in mind the uniqueness of the logo.

For instance, the logo of Texas University uses a bold representation of red bull. This precisely shows the classic spirit of Texas, which is often represented by the same symbol. Similarly, you can also use the same style in your logo representing any specific message of the institution.

Choose The Right Color

designing an educational logo perfect color

Next, you have to smartly pick the right color for your logo. This can be done by looking at the original color theme of the institution. This will give you a great idea of how to pick the perfect color for the logo. Meanwhile, keep in mind to know about the meaning of every color as it is also an important part of the style representation.

Besides the color selection, their proper utilization in a logo is also an important job. You need to look into different tutorials given on YouTube and other channels to know about its best practices. Keep in mind that color selection and utilization is a very important part that needs to be done carefully.

Keep Simplicity Intact

It is also important to keep the simplicity factor in check while designing an educational logo. Sometimes, people do not pay attention to this factor and add up various types of unwanted elements in the logo. The result is often a poor and a cluttered image.

The best thing you can do to avoid this mess is by focusing on simplicity. It is highly recommended to keep your logos clean by using the best designing practices. A simple logo can easily communicate the brand message as compared to a complicated one. Therefore, analyze different examples to know how other institutions have designed their logo while keeping the simplicity factor intact.

Versatility

design an educational logo

Creating a versatile logo is also very important. It helps you to use your logo on different types of materials. This means that you can use them on a variety of branding stuff that is associated with the university merchandise such as t-shirts, backpacks, coffee mugs, caps and many others.

You can certainly do this by creating logos in multiple sizes. This will help to make them look good and fit on all types of materials.

Consider Latest Trends

Being a designer, you can also look at the latest trends to design a good-looking educational logo. It is always considered good practice to keep your designing skills updated as per the current practices.

You can know about these trends by continuously reading top blogs and tutorials from expert logo designers. There are various sources available on the web where you can learn about these latest trends such as Designshack, Crowdspring, and others.

Utilizing these trends, you can ensure that your educational logo is made right according to the latest designing standards, giving it a stunning appeal and unique style that will stay memorable for a long time.

Final Words

Every educational institution needs a unique logo to get recognized in the market. It helps them to showcase their identity and get a distinguished presence among other institutions. This blog has defined some of the core principles with which you can create a stunning educational logo. Using these tips, you can create a logo that will look good and stay memorable, depicting the true identity of a reputable college or university.

The post 6 Basic Principles Of Designing An Educational Logo appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Volkswagen’s new business strategy puts software and autonomous driving front and center

Volkswagen will ramp up its software, mobility as a service and battery tech to stay competitive in the coming decades, as it and other automakers prepare for the largest transition in personal mobility since the invention of the car.

Laying out the company strategy Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess emphasized a top-to-bottom transformation in everything from manufacturing to revenue streams. If revenue was historically driven by sales of internal combustion engine vehicles, Volkswagen CFO Arno Antlitz said the rest of the decade bring income derived not only from electric vehicle sales, but also software, autonomous driving and even ridesharing.

To that end, the company has been busy, planning six battery Gigafactories in Europe and an €800 million ($944 million) hardware platform research and development facility in West Berlin. The company’s also beefing up its in-house automotive software arm Cariad, which VW said could generate as much as €1.2 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in revenue by 2030, via subscriptions and other sales.

Volkswagen also has big plans for autonomous driving. The company wants to take a chunk of the market share from ridesharing and car rental, and it sees an integrated AV platform as the way to do it. Executives painted a vivid picture of customers being able to request a Volkswagen electric AV taxi or shuttle by the end of the decade, one that may not even include a steering wheel or driver’s seat, according to renderings shown during the presentation.

“Imagine that your grandmother or your eight-year-old son can hop in a Volkswagen cab to visit one another, whenever they want, without mom or dad behind the wheel,” Diess suggested. “You can use one of our mobility apps, and an ID Bus will pick you up and your friends.”

Personal vehicles will be powered by Cariad, which the OEM said will have “level 4 readiness” by 2025. Shared mobility vehicles, like shuttles or taxis, will also be VW-owned and operated, and run on tech developed by AV company Argo AI. Volkswagen closed a $2.6 billion investment in the startup last June.

Europe’s largest automaker anticipates its investments in MaaS will pay off: the company expects annual revenues of over $70 billion in the five largest European markets alone by 2030, Christian Senger, CTO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said. The autonomous rideshare ID Bus, which is being tested in a pilot project in Munich, will be rolled out as a commercial service in Hamburg in 2025, followed shortly by the U.S.

In line with these estimates, the automaker anticipates BEV sales will account for 25% of sales by 2025 and 50% by 2030. ICE margins will likely come under increased pressure due to declining demand, tighter emissions regulations and comparative tax disadvantages, so Volkswagen plans to decrease its number of ICE models by 60% in Europe by 2030. Cost parity between ICE and BEV should be achieved within two to three years, Antlitz said, thanks to economies of scale and lower factory costs.

It’s an optimistic future, but one in which Volkswagen is fully confident: the company upped its profit target for 2025 to 8-9%, from 7-8%.

“Until 2030, the world of mobility will have seen the greatest transformation since the transition from horses to cars at the beginning of the 20th century,” Diess said. “The future of cars, the future of individual mobility will be bright.”

Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ is basically just a wholesome twist on the Incredible Hulk

Overprotective mom embarrasses daughter, stress ensues, daughter transforms into adorable, fluffy cuddle monster. Did Bruce Banner’s PR team come up with this story?

Actually, it’s the work of Domee Shee, the Oscar-winning director of the Pixar short Bao, who’s returned to the Pixar fold with her directorial debut Turning Red. The story follows Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old with a bit of a problem: Whenever she gets overexcited, she transforms into a gigantic, talking red panda. Her mom (Sandra Oh) knows all about the unusual condition, but — as this first trailer highlights — her worries for Mei only add to the trouble.

Pixar’s Turning Red arrives on March 11, 2022, though there’s no indication at this point of whether Disney intends for it to be a theaters-only release or a theaters-plus-Disney+ Premier Access release. But at least we have a date.

How to monitor your breathing rate while you sleep with Apple Watch

You can now do more with Sleep Tracking.

Last year, with the introduction of watchOS 7, Apple added the ability to track your sleep metrics using the Apple Watch. Now, with watchOS 8, you can also track your respiratory rate throughout the night, which could help to detect early signs of medical conditions like sleep apnea, and chronic lung disease, among others.

Using its built-in accelerometer, the Apple Watch can track the number of breaths you take per minute while asleep. The results are then recorded in the Health app, which also gives you deeper insight into the data on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

Here’s how to monitor your breathing rate while you sleep with Apple Watch.

First, let’s make sure your Apple Watch is compatible

Is it time to get a new Apple Watch?

Is it time to get a new Apple Watch?
Credit: brenda stolyar / mashable

Before you get too excited, it’s important to make sure your Apple Watch is compatible with watchOS 8. Here’s a list of models that play nicely with the new operating system:

  • Apple Watch Series 3

  • Apple Watch Series 4

  • Apple Watch Series 5

  • Apple Watch SE

  • Apple Watch Series 6

Set up and turn on “Sleep Mode” at night

To enable Sleep Mode, you have two options:

Manually turn it on every night

Swipe up to the Control Center.

Swipe up to the Control Center.
Credit: screenshot / apple

Tap on the "Sleep" tab.

Tap on the “Sleep” tab.
Credit: screenshot / apple

Swipe up to the Control Center on your Apple Watch, tap on the Do Not Disturb icon, and then tap on the “Sleep” tab.

Tap on the "Focus" tab.

Tap on the “Focus” tab.
Credit: screenshot / apple

Tap to turn on "Sleep" mode.

Tap to turn on “Sleep” mode.
Credit: Screenshot / apple

You can also do this on your iPhone, which will then automatically put your Apple Watch into Sleep Mode, too. To do this, swipe down to the Control Center, tap on the Focus tab, and then tap the Sleep icon.

Set it to automatically turn on

Tap on the Sleep app on your Apple Watch.

Tap on the Sleep app on your Apple Watch.
Credit: screenshot / apple 

Set your Bedtime and Wake Up time.

Set your Bedtime and Wake Up time.
Credit: screenshot / apple 

If you’re the type to forget to turn Sleep Mode on before going to bed, it can be set to turn on automatically, too. On your Apple Watch, tap on the Sleep app, choose your Wake Up time and Bedtime, and then set the specific days you’d like for it to kick in.

Sleep Mode can also be set up on your iPhone.

You can also set your Bedtime and Wake Up time through your iPhone.

You can also set your Bedtime and Wake Up time through your iPhone.
Credit: screenshot / apple 

Go to the Health app > Browse > Sleep and scroll down to “Your Schedule.” Tap on the “Full Schedule & Options” tab, and then “Edit” to set your Bedtime and Wake Up time.

Open the Health app in the morning

There's a section just for the

There’s a section just for the “Respiratory” feature.
Credit: screenshot / apple

This is what a summary of your metrics for the night will look like.

This is what a summary of your metrics for the night will look like.
Credit: screenshot / apple

When you wake up, you can check on your breathing rate via the Health app. Open the app and scroll down until you see the Respiratory Rate section, and then tap on it. You can also access it using the app by tapping on the Browse tab followed by the Respiratory tab.

Check your stats

All of your data lives in the Health app.

All of your data lives in the Health app.
Credit: screenshot / apple

At the top, the Respiratory Rate section includes a chart that shows your range of breaths per minute based on the hour, day, week, month, and year. Additional data and information on the topic will appear as you scroll down.

To see your breaths per minute while asleep, tap on “Show More Respiratory Rate Data.” At the bottom is a dedicated Sleep section that displays your specific number of breaths per minute.

As you continue to wear the Apple Watch to bed and monitor your breathing, the Health app will be able to identify more in-depth and useful trends over time.

Impact raises $150M at a $1.5B valuation as affiliate and other marketing partnerships come into their own

Affiliate marketing may have started as a kind of side hustle for bloggers and others that were making the majority of their revenues through advertising or other channels, but with the rise of influencers and the huge profusion of spon-con on social media, the idea of leveraging a person’s own presence to make some money and give a huge sales boost to a product, brand or service has taken on a life of its own. And to underscore that, today a company that’s built a marketplace to help connect people and companies in that larger set of relationships is announcing a big round of funding.

Impact — which has built a partnership management platform that lets brands engage people for influencer and affiliate marketing or wider business development; lets publishers also connect with brands and influencers; and provides the infrastructure both to track that content and collect revenues around it — has closed $150 million in funding on a $1.5 billion valuation.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is leading this round, with Providence Public also participating. The company will be using the funds to continue expanding its partnership network as well as the kinds of tools it builds for brands, agencies and publishers.

Impact runs what it calls a “partnership cloud” — somewhat akin to a “marketing cloud” — that it targets at what it terms the “partnership economy.” Those who use affiliate or influencer marketing to spread the word about their products; those who leverage their personalities or content to do that; and those platforms that house the content can all use Impact to engage with each other, and run their business operations within it.

“We started as a platform that was mostly used in a private marketplace setting,” said David A. Yovanno, Impact’s CEO, in an interview. “We were the first with a product and tech-led product in the affiliate space. We call this category partnerships but we didn’t come up with that term, our customers did after they started to use us in innovative ways.”

Impact has seen a big boom with the rise and increasing ubiquity of influencer marketing and spon-con. In the last year, the New York startup passed $100 million in annual recurring revenue, with its customers a list of some of the biggest names in the worlds of technology, retail and more, including Lenovo, Microsoft, Uber, eBay, Amex, CapitalOne, Disney, NBC’s Peacock, Walmart, Target, lots of D2C brands, and some other really huge tech companies that I’m not allowed to name… In all, its customer list has grown by 50% in the last year.

Spon-con and related marketing techniques have been on an upward trend for years, making gradually bigger dents in the 60% committment that brands typically dedicate to online advertising to get the word out. The last year of Covid-19 living has, perhaps unsurprisingly, worked as a particular boost, however: people spending a lot more time online, and much more time idling hours away on social media rather than engaging in the physical world, has led to a much bigger rush of brands leveraging that landscape to get their names in front of would-be buyers.

The snag in the market that Impact has been building to fix reminds me somewhat of the challenges in the digital music industry: initially, and frankly currently, it remains a challenge for rights owners in the world of music to accurately and efficiently track where and when music gets used, and then to collect revenues based on that, particularly when that music is used across the long tail of user-generated content.

A similar scenario exists in the spon-con world, especially when you consider how video clips are sampled and occasionally go viral, with those re-uses wander far from their origins in the process.

The play that Impact is providing here, therefore, is not just one of accounting and providing a marketplace for entities to discover and engage with one another, but potentially a big data play to track how and where content will be used and engaged with wherever that happens to be. If the space continues to grow as it look like it will, that means a bigger job and more investment needed to track the space.

YouTube Shorts rolls out to more than 100 countries

The service is still in beta, though.

YouTube Shorts, the company’s short-form video service and an obvious competitor to TikTok, is rolling out globally.

YouTube says the service will now be available in “more than 100 countries” — everywhere where the video platform itself is available.

YouTube Shorts was officially launched in September 2020, featuring 15-second videos — the same time limit as TikTok (though TikTok later expanded maximum video length, first to one minute, and then, recently, to three minutes). The service was first made available to creators in India, then rolling out to the U.S. in March 2021 and the UK in June.

The main advantage of YouTube Shorts over TikTok, for creators, is the ability to tap into YouTube’s massive library of audio content to include in their shorts.

Other than that, the app, which is available on both iOS and Android, allows creators to tie multiple video clips together into one, speed controls, and a timer and countdown to make capturing the right moment easier. New features that are coming include automatically added captions, adding clips from the phone’s gallery to the Shorts camera, as well as the ability to add filters and effects, with more coming in the future.

Google fined $592M in France for breaching antitrust order to negotiate copyright fees for news snippets

France has hit Google with a fine of half a billion euros after finding major breaches in how it negotiated with publishers to remunerate them for reuse of their content — as is required under a pan-EU reform of digital copyright law which extended neighbouring rights to news snippets.

The size of the fine is notable as it’s over half of the entire $1BN news licensing pot that Google announced last October — when it said it would be paying news publishers “to create and curate high-quality content” to appear on its platforms.

At the time, the move that looked intended to shrink Google’s exposure to legal mandates to pay publishers for content reuse by pushing them to accept commercial terms which give it broad rights to ‘showcase’ their content.

France’s watchdog has now called out — and sanctioned — the practice.

The half a billion euro penalty is also notable for being considerably more than Google had already agreed to pay French publishers, according to Reuters — which reported, back in February, that the tech giant had inked a deal with a group of 121 publishers to pay them just $76M over three years.

France’s competition authority said today that it’s applying the sanction of €500 million ($592M) against the tech giant for failing to comply with a number of injunctions related to its earlier, April 2020 decision — when the watchdog ordered Google to negotiate in good faith with publishers to remunerate them for displaying their protected content.

Initially, Google sought to evade the neighbouring news right by stopping displaying snippets of content alongside links it showed in Google News in France. But the watchdog found that was likely to be an abuse of its dominant position — and ordered Google to stop circumventing the law and negotiate with publishers to pay for the reuse in good faith.

The Autorité de la Concurrence is not happy with how Google has gone about this, though.

A number of publishers complained to it that the negotiations were not carried out in good faith and that Google did not provide them with key information necessary to inform payments.

The Syndicate of magazine press publishers (SEPM), the Alliance de Presse d’Information Générale (APIG) and Agence France Presse (AFP) made complaints in August/September 2020 — kicking off the investigation by the watchdog and today’s announcement of a major penalty.

Further fines — of up to €900,000 per day — could be headed Google’s way if it continues to breach the watchdog’s injunctions and fails to supply publishers with all the required information within a new two-month deadline.

In a press release detailing its investigation, the Autorité said Google sought to unilaterally impose its global news licensing product, aka ‘Showcase’, under a partnership the tech giant calls Publisher Curated News — in negotiations with publishers — pushing for the legal neighbouring right to be incorporated as “an ancillary component with no separate financial valuation”.

Publishers requests to break out copyright remuneration negotiations were denied, per the watchdog’s investigation.

It also found Google “unjustifiably” reduced the scope of negotiations with regard to the scope of income derived from the display of protected news content — with Google telling publishers that only advertising income from Google Search pages posting news content should be taken into account in determining the level of remuneration due.

The authority found this exclusion of income from other Google services and all indirect income related to this content to be in breach of the copyright law and its earlier compliance order.

Google also “deliberately circumscribed” the scope of the law on neighboring rights by excluding titles that do not have a Political and General Information certificate — which the watchdog couched as a “bad faith” interpretation of the code on intellectual property.

It also found the tech giant sought to exclude press agencies from renumeration related to their content when used by third party publishers — highlighting that as another breach of its April 2020 decision, by further noting: “The French legislator has been very explicit on the need to include press agencies.”

In another finding, it said Google had only provided publishers with “partial” and “insufficient” information for a “transparency assessment of renumeration due”; and further accused the tech giant of delaying until just a few days before the injunction deadline to provide it — so of being “late” too.

The authority’s investigation highlights compliance problems with another injunction — related to an obligation of neutrality in how protected content is presented on Google’s platforms — with the watchdog writing on that: “The strategy put in place by Google has thus strongly encouraged publishers to accept the contractual conditions of the Showcase service and to renounce negotiations relating specifically to the current uses of protected content, which was the subject of the Injunctions, under penalty of seeing their exposure and their remuneration degraded compared to their competitors who would have accepted the proposed terms. Google cannot therefore claim to have taken the necessary measures to prevent its negotiations from affecting the presentation of protected content in its services.”

Another injunction sought to prevent Google from seeking to leverage its dominance by offsetting remunerations paid to publishers for the neighbouring rights.

On this the watchdog also took issue with its approach — noting that its Showcase product requires publishers to make not just snippets of their content available for display on Google’s platforms but “large extracts” and even whole articles.

It also found that Google linked participation in the Showcase program to subscription to another service called Subscribe with Google (SwG) — enabling it to link negotiation on neighboring rights with the subscription of new services that could financially benefit its business.

Under a subhead which denounces what it found as “extremely serious practices”, the authority goes on to accuse Google of “a deliberate, elaborate and systematic strategy of non-compliance” — and of continuing an already years-long “opposition strategy” to the principle of neighbouring rights; and then, after they’d been baked into EU and French law, seeking to “minimize the concrete scope of those rights as much as possible”.

Google has, the authority asserts, sought to use a global strategy to close down publishers’ ability to negotiate for remuneration for their content reuse at a national level — using its Showcase product as a cloak for “avoiding or limiting as much as possible” payments to publishers; and, simultaneously, seeking to use negotiations on neighboring rights as an opportunity to obtain access to new content by press publishers that could allow it to collect additional income, such as from subscriptions to press titles.

“The sanction of 500 million euros takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed and that the behavior of Google has further delayed the proper application of the law on neighboring rights, which aimed to better take into account the value of content from publishers and news agencies included on the platforms. The Authority will be extremely vigilant about the correct application of its decision, as non-execution can now lead to periodic penalty payments,” added the watchdog’s president, Isabelle de Silva, in a statement (which we’ve translated from French).

The half a billion euro fine and the warning to Google that its practices will attract daily fines if it persists in ignoring the injunctions put the tech giant on notice that the detail of commercial deals won’t be allowed to fly under the radar in France.

Any more attempts to shape a self-serving version of ‘compliance’ are likely to attract further sanction from the watchdog — which also recently applied a number of interoperability requirements on Google’s ad business (and slapped it with a $268M fine), also acting on complaints from publishers.

While anything Google agrees to in France on the neighbouring rights issue is likely to set the bar for what it can achieve with commercial deals elsewhere — at least in other EU markets, where the copyright extension also applies (once it’s been transposed into a Member State’s national law).

In a statement responding to the authority’s sanction, Google expressed disappointment with the outcome of the investigation — claiming to have acted in good faith throughout negotiations with publishers:

“We are very disappointed with this decision — we have acted in good faith throughout the entire process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms. To date, Google is the only company to have announced agreements on neighbouring rights. We are also about to finalize an agreement with AFP that includes a global licensing agreement, as well as the remuneration of their neighbouring rights for their press publications.”

The tech giant went on to suggest that the authority’s decision is “primarily” related to negotiations in France which took place between May and September 2020, further claiming it has continued to engage with publishers and press agencies since then to find “solutions”.

By way of example it pointed to a January 2021 framework agreement inked with the Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale — which it claims covers every IPG title (Information de Presse Générale) in a “transparent and non-discriminatory way”. It also pointed to agreements it has inked with other publications in the market, including Le Monde, Courrier International, L’Obs, Le Figaro, Libération, and L’Express.

Google also reiterated its confident it can sign a global licensing agreement with Agence France Presse — which it said it also wants to include remuneration of neighbouring rights for press publications from the agency.

“Our objective remains the same: We want to turn the page with a definitive agreement,” it added, saying it would take the French Competition Authority’s “feedback into consideration and adapt our offers” and that: “We are already engaging with press publishers and agencies beyond IPG, by covering publications that are recognised by the CPPAP as ‘online press services’, and we reiterate our offer to have an independent third party in a position to evaluate our offers and allow us to base our discussions on facts.”

Other major fines for Google in France in recent years include the aforementioned $268M for adtech abuses last month; $120 for dropping tracking cookies without consent back in December; $166M in December 2019 for opaque and inconsistent ad rules; and $57M for privacy violations in January 2019.

Beyond the EU, Australia recently passed a law which requires tech giants, Google and Facebook, to enter mandatory arbitration with publishers for reuse of their content if they fail to agree commercial terms on their own.

Its law has attracted considerable attention worldwide as legislators grapple with how to rein in powerful tech platforms and ensure the sustainability of traditional news businesses whose revenues have been hit by the Internet-driven shift to digital publishing.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has, for example, described Australia’s backstop of mandatory arbitration if commercial negotiations fail as a “sensible” approach — at at time when the government is working on shaping an ex ante regulation regime to enable competition authorities to pro-actively tackle abuses by platforms with strategic market power.

Ahead of Australia’s law being passed, Google had warned that it might have to close its services in the country if legislators went ahead and also suggested the quality could degrade or that it may have to start to charge for products. In the event, it did not shut up shop down under.

The tech giant was also an active lobbyist against the EU’s plan to extend digital copyright to cover snippets of news content — and, as recently as 2019, it was vowing never to pay for news.

A few years later it announced the $1BN pot to pay publishers to licence content. But Google’s eventual bill for its ad business piggybacking upon others’ journalism may be rather larger than that.

Seth Meyers on Richard Branson’s space journey: ‘That’s not a rocket, it’s just a plane that got cocky’

On Sunday, billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, was successfully launched into space and back with a small crew on the Unity 22 mission.

Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane SpaceShipTwo flew about 80 kilometres (50 miles) into the upper atmosphere, the U.S. boundary of space, but seeing as there’s no internationally agreed limit for this (the closest thing is the Kármán line, 100 kilometres or 62 miles up, widely regarded as the beginning of space), it’s caused some conversation around whether the mission actually counts as going to space or not.

Late Night‘s Seth Meyers sat on the “not” side on Monday, making quips about the Virgin Galactic mission. “Sir Richard Branson yesterday became the first billionaire to travel to space. OK, did he though? I watched that launch and I would not call that space. Space is dark and has stars in it.”

Meyers showed a graph comparing the Virgin Galactic flight to SpaceX’s projected orbit for space tourism — which will notably cost a lot more for tickets.

“That’s not a rocket. It’s just a plane that got cocky. Just ’cause you touch net doesn’t mean you can say you dunked,” continued Meyers. “Branson’s like one of those guys who say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been to Texas,’ and then you find out he changed planes once at Dallas–Fort Worth. Call me when you’re on the moon, Richard.”

Well, space or not, Elon Musk’s bought a ticket.

Save on a multi-platform gaming controller that was funded on Kickstarter

Now this is versatile.

TL;DR: Enhance your gaming experience with the Serafim S1 Multi-Platform Gaming Controller, which is on sale for 34% off. As of July 13, grab one for only $45.99.


The crowdfunded Serafim S1 is the multi-platform gaming controller you can take with you on the go.

This purchase includes two joysticks and 12 buttons. You can even connect via Bluetooth and map to the virtual buttons on your phone’s screen to create a custom controller. That also means you can play wirelessly on WiFi.

The app also has optimized button mapping stored for many popular mobile games. All you have to do is load your favorite game from the homepage and set it up to your liking.

Check it out:

When you purchase this controller, it comes with a silicone cover, wireless Bluetooth dongle, USB cable, user manual, and rubber strip. Plus, you’ll receive a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Normally, the Kickstarter-funded Serafim S1 controller retails for $69, but for a limited time, you can slash 34% off of the retail price and take it home for just $45.99.

Nigeria leads mobile app market growth in Africa as use of gaming apps surge 44% from Q1 2020

The pandemic’s effect on the global app market has not been hard to miss. In the first quarter and first half of this year, consumer spending in mobile apps hit new records at $32 billion and $64.9 billion, respectively.

In Africa, it can be tough to call out exact numbers on consumer spending because the continent gets hardly a mention in global app market reports. Yet, other metrics are worth looking at, and a new report from AppsFlyer in collaboration with Google has some important insights into how the African app market has fared since the pandemic broke out last year.

The report tracked mobile app activities across three of Africa’s largest app markets (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.

From the first half of 2020 to the first half of 2021, the African mobile app industry (which is predominantly Android) increased by 41% in overall installs. This was analyzed from 6,000 apps and 2 billion installs in the three markets. Nigeria registered the highest growth, with a 43% rise; South Africa’s market increased by 37% and Kenya increased 29%.

Lockdown numbers

On March 22, 2020, Rwanda imposed Africa’s first lockdown. Subsequently, other countries followed; (those in the report) Kenya (March 25), South Africa (March 27), and Nigeria (March 30).

As more people spent time at home from Q2 2020, app installs increased by 20% across the three countries. South Africans were the quickest to take to their phones as the lockdowns hit with installs increasing by 17% from the previous quarter.

On the other hand, Nigerians and Kenyans recorded a 2% and 9% increase, respectively. The report attributes the disparity to the varying levels of restrictions each country faced; South Africa experienced the strictest and most frequent.

Per the report, gaming apps showed strong performance between Q1 and Q2 2020. The segment experienced a 50% growth compared to an 8% increase in nongaming apps pulled. It followed a global trend where gaming apps surged to a record high in Q2 2020, at 14 billion downloads globally.

In-app purchasing revenue and almost year-on-year growth

According to AppsFlyer, the biggest trend it noticed was in in-app purchasing revenue. In Q3 2020, in-app purchasing revenue numbers grew with a staggering 136% increase compared to Q2 2020, and accounted for 33% of 2020’s total revenue, “highlighting just how much African consumers were spending within apps, from retail purchases to gaming upgrades.”

In-app purchasing revenue among South African consumers increased by 213%, while Nigeria and Kenyan consumers recorded 141% and 74% increases, respectively.

On the advertising front and on an almost year-on-year basis, in-app advertising revenue also increased significantly as Africans were glued to their smartphones more than ever. Per the report, in-app advertising revenue increased 167% between Q2 2020 to Q1 2021.

For gaming and non-gaming apps, which was highlighted between the first two quarters, they both increased by 44% and 40% respectively in Q1 2021 compared to Q2 2020.

Fintech and super apps

In the last five years, fintech has dominated VC investments in African startups. It’s a no brainer why there is so much affinity for the sector. Fintechs create so much value for Africa’s mobile-first population, with large sections of unbanked, underbanked and banked people. This value is why all but one of the continent’s billion-dollar startups are fintech.

African fintechs have grown by 89.4% between 2017 and 2021, according to a Disrupt Africa report. Now, there are more than 570 startups on the continent. Many fintechs are mobile-based, therefore reflecting the number of fintech apps Africans use each day. Consumers in South Africa and Nigeria saw year-on-year growth in finance app installs by 116% and 60%, respectively.

AppsFlyer says that like fintech apps, super apps are on the rise as well. These “all-in-one” apps offer users a range of functions such as banking, messaging, shopping and ride-hailing. The report says their rise, partly due to device limitations on the continent, owes much to the same conditions that have led to a surge in fintech apps: systemic underbanking.

“Super apps remove some of the barriers that these users face, as well as providing a level of customer insight and experience that traditional banks cannot,” the report said.

Daniel Junowicz, RVP EMEA & Strategic Projects for AppsFlyer, commenting on the trends highlighted in the report said, “…The mobile app space in Africa is thriving despite the turmoil of last year. Installs are growing, and consumers are spending more money than ever before, highlighting just how important mobile can be for businesses when it comes to driving revenue.”

Tom Hiddleston talks ‘clearly superior’ Alligator Loki — and roasts his stuffed-toy stand-in

After an enormous fifth episode of Marvel’s Loki, we’ve met a bunch of new Variants of the God of Mischief, one of which is clearly the superior Loki: yes, it’s Alligator Loki, with its little horns and adorable paddling pool.

Talking to star Tom Hiddleston on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon showed an “exclusive” image of what the cast worked with on set in place of a real alligator — it’s basically a bunch of pillows thrown together in a vague gator form, googly eyes, some kind of horns, slumped in a chair.

“I mean look at him, a huge star, he’s not even getting up out of his chair,” quipped Hiddleston.

“It actually was funny because obviously he’s made [of] these three discarded cushions sewn up with some eyes on. And no offense to Alligator Loki — clearly the superior Loki — but you’d be doing a scene and you’d think OK, so we’re going to get the wide shot and then the two shot and we’ll do Owen [Wilson]’s coverage and get everyone’s close-ups and coverage and you’d think that felt like a great scene, I think we’re done, are we moving on? And we’d all sort of wrap…and somebody would say, ‘Hang on a second, we have to shoot the alligator.'”

Hiddleston also talked about his appearance on Disney+’s The Simpsons/Loki crossover special, and Fallon gives an exclusive look at Loki in Marvel’s upcoming What If…? animated series.

Quantexa raises $153M to build out AI-based big data tools to track risk and run investigations

As financial crime has become significantly more sophisticated, so too have the tools that are used to combat it. Now, Quantexa — one of the more interesting startups that has been building AI-based solutions to help detect and stop money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activity — has raised a growth round of $153 million, both to continue expanding that business in financial services and to bring its tools into a wider context, so to speak: linking up the dots around all customer and other data.

“We’ve diversified outside of financial services and working with government, healthcare, telcos and insurance,” Vishal Marria, its founder and CEO, said in an interview. “That has been substantial. Given the whole journey that the market’s gone through in contextual decision intelligence as part of bigger digital transformation, was inevitable.”

The Series D values the London-based startup between $800 million and $900 million on the heels of Quantexa growing its subscriptions revenues 108% in the last year.

Warburg Pincus led the round, with existing backers Dawn Capital, AlbionVC, Evolution Equity Partners (a specialist cybersecurity VC), HSBC, ABN AMRO Ventures and British Patient Capital also participating. The valuation is a significant hike up for Quantexa, which was valued between $200 million and $300 million in its Series C last July. It has now raised over $240 million to date.

Quantexa got its start out of a gap in the market that Marria identified when he was working as a director at Ernst & Young tasked with helping its clients with money laundering and other fraudulent activity. As he saw it, there were no truly useful systems in the market that efficiently tapped the world of data available to companies — matching up and parsing both their internal information as well as external, publicly available data — to get more meaningful insights into potential fraud, money laundering and other illegal activities quickly and accurately.

Quantexa’s machine learning system approaches that challenge as a classic big data problem — too much data for a humans to parse on their own, but small work for AI algorithms processing huge amounts of that data for specific ends.

Its so-called “Contextual Decision Intelligence” models (the name Quantexa is meant to evoke “quantum” and “context”) were built initially specifically to address this for financial services, with AI tools for assessing risk and compliance and identifying financial criminal activity, leveraging relationships that Quantexa has with partners like Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft and Google to help fill in more data gaps.

The company says its software — and this, not the data, is what is sold to companies to use over their own datasets — has handled up to 60 billion records in a single engagement. It then presents insights in the form of easily digestible graphs and other formats so that users can better understand the relationships between different entities and so on.

Today, financial services companies still make up about 60% of the company’s business, Marria said, with 7 of the top 10 UK and Australian banks and 6 of the top 14 financial institutions in North America among its customers. (The list includes its strategic backer HSBC, as well as Standard Chartered Bank and Danske Bank.)

But alongside those — spurred by a huge shift in the market to relying significantly more on wider data sets, to businesses updating their systems in recent years, and the fact that, in the last year, online activity has in many cases become the “only” activity — Quantexa has expanded more significantly into other sectors.

“The Financial crisis [of 2007] was a tipping point in terms of how financial services companies became more proactive, and I’d say that the pandemic has been a turning point around other sectors like healthcare in how to become more proactive,” Marria said. “To do that you need more data and insights.”

So in the last year in particular, Quantexa has expanded to include other verticals facing financial crime, such as healthcare, insurance, government (for example in tax compliance), and telecoms/communications, but in addition to that, it has continued to diversify what it does to cover more use cases, such as building more complete customer profiles that can be used for KYC (know your customer) compliance or to serve them with more tailored products. Working with government, it’s also seeing its software getting applied to other areas of illicit activity, such as tracking and identifying human trafficking.

In all, Quantexa has “thousands” of customers in 70 markets. Quantexa cites figures from IDC that estimate the market for such services — both financial crime and more general KYC services — is worth about $114 billion annually, so there is still a lot more to play for.

“Quantexa’s proprietary technology enables clients to create single views of individuals and entities, visualized through graph network analytics and scaled with the most advanced AI technology,” said Adarsh Sarma, MD and co-head of Europe at Warburg Pincus, in a statement. “This capability has already revolutionized the way KYC, AML and fraud processes are run by some of the world’s largest financial institutions and governments, addressing a significant gap in an increasingly important part of the industry. The company’s impressive growth to date is a reflection of its invaluable value proposition in a massive total available market, as well as its continued expansion across new sectors and geographies.”

Interestingly, Marria admitted to me that the company has been approached by big tech companies and others that work with them as an acquisition target — no real surprises there — but longer term, he would like Quantexa to consider how it continues to grow on its own, with an independent future very much in his distant sights.

“Sure, an acquisition to the likes of a big tech company absolutely could happen, but I am gearing this up for an IPO,” he said.

Eka Ventures closes $95M Impact VC fund for sustainable consumption, healthcare and society

It’s clear that there is an enormous and growing appetite amongst consumers to switch to products and services which address some of the biggest issues of our era, whether it be climate change or problems with society. So we’ve seen the rise of ethical investing apps, or ways to reduce our carbon footprint, or shop more ethically. so it follows that VC should come up with funds to invest in these consumer spaces.

That’s been the focus of UK-based Eka Ventures ventures since started investing in April 2020, prior to today’s announcement of the fund’s closing.

It’s now reached a final close on its $95m (£68m) fund, and now claims to be the “largest impact-driven early-stage venture capital fund focused on the UK” although TechCrunch was unable to verify that claim.

Investors in the fund include British Business Bank, BSC, Isomer, Guys and St Thomas Foundation, Planet First Partners, Draper Esprit, Snowball and others. It’s also backed, it says, by 24 entrepreneurs, 12 of whom are founders the Eka partners have previously backed either at fund or individual level.
 
Eka’s aim will be to invest in consumer technology companies focused on sustainable consumption, consumer healthcare, and the ‘inclusive economy’. The fund will focus on the UK at between £500k and £3m per deal.
 
Founders Jon Coker, Camilla Dolan and Andrew Richardson has previous experience in venture where they were involved in VC deals for Gousto, Bloom & Wild, Peak and Elder. Coker was previously with London-focused VC MMC Ventures.
 
Jon Coker, General Partner of Eka told me: “We only invest in companies where we see a clear impact directly connected to the product or service that they sell. So as they grow, the impact grows with the company. We won’t invest in companies where we don’t see that. We’ve said to all of our investors that we will only invest in companies where that is delivered. We’re assessing companies we look for founder alignment, so understanding how the founders are thinking about building their company and the impact that’s delivered through the products and services. Once we’ve gone through that process of alignment and assessment we then measure that impact over time. We will also co invest with investors that don’t have a specific impact focus on their fund.”

I asked him how they expect to measure the impact of their investments: “We use a framework called the Impact management project framework which is trying to create an industry-standard around the measurement of impact in venture. It looks at different dimensions to identify the specific impact that the company you’re investing in is creating. When you’re backing really early-stage companies, you can measure the impact that their product is currently having but you also want to measure progress against projects that will deliver future impact. We have a number of impact-focused LPs in the fund who have done a lot of work with us actually on helping us think about this framework.”
 
Camilla Dolan, general partner of Eka, said: “One of our first investments was Urban Jungle insurance. This is an example where we think about it as being inclusive, as they saw a big opportunity to try and serve the segment that has historically been underserved. They do that through underwriting using behavioral characteristics rather than demographic characteristics, which is how the incumbent industry does it. This excludes a lot of the customers. They’re now launching a social housing-specific product because they had so many testimonials from social housing.”

She added: “When it comes to working with companies, we are clear in our desire for scale, and we will do everything in our power to help the founders we work with achieve their ambitious goals. We are looking for entrepreneurs who set the bar for impact-driven innovation high and who are focused on fundamentally changing or creating a category, in the same way Tesla has single-handedly propelled the electric vehicle industry forward. We set Eka up to back companies with that level of ambition.”
 
Timo Boldt, Founder of Gousto said: “Jon and Camilla are two of the best investors a founder could possibly hope for. They supported Gousto with our Series A back in 2013 and have been cheerleaders ever since. Their new venture, Eka, is tightly aligned with our own philosophy because of their focus on sustainability. Much like them, we believe in the power of people to drive change.”
 
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions, British Business Bank said: “The Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is a key tool in helping to develop and maintain an effective venture capital provision in the UK, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging fund managers and for those targeting less well-served areas of the market.  Our commitment [of £36m] to Eka Ventures, will enable them to support new and growing sustainable consumer technology businesses in the UK.”

Mattel just released a Naomi Osaka Barbie, and it’s already sold out

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has now been enshrined in Barbie form.

Mattel has released a Naomi Osaka Barbie doll, honouring the beloved tennis champion by enshrining her in plastic. Designed by Carlyle Nuera, the Osaka doll is part of the Barbie Role Models Doll line featuring inspiring women from around the globe.

“I hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything,” wrote Osaka in her tweet announcing the collaboration.

The Naomi Osaka Barbie comes wearing a Nike tennis dress inspired by her 2020 Australian Open outfit, complete with Nike shoes, visor, and Yonex tennis racket. (It’s a bit strange that they picked that particular look to recreate rather than one from the many tournaments she won, but it’s still pretty cool.)

The doll goes further than simply replicating Osaka’s clothes too, even recreating her curly hair and beauty marks so you know without a doubt it is four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka. It also has a poseable body with 22 points of articulation, and comes with a display stand to help you show it off. Because if you have a Naomi Osaka Barbie, you’re going to want to show it off.

Tweet may have been deleted

“Obviously Naomi’s athletic skill is unmatched, that’s a fact,” said Nuera in a statement. “But what I personally admire the most about Naomi Osaka is how she uses her platform, the spotlight on her and her voice, to raise awareness about social justice.”

Osaka has been vocal about issues such as racism and mental health, and is a passionate philanthropist.

“Today, given the television coverage we receive and our prominence on social media, athletes have platforms that are larger and more visible than ever before,” Osaka wrote in a 2020 New York Times opinion piece. “The way I see it, that also means that we have a greater responsibility to speak up.”

Tweet may have been deleted

Mattel’s new doll isn’t the first time Osaka has been immortalised in Barbie form. In 2019, the tennis player was one of 20 women gifted unique dolls created in their own likeness as part of Barbie’s “Shero” line. However, this is the first time the wider public will be able to get their hands on a Naomi Osaka Barbie.

Unfortunately, most fans keen to recreate Osaka’s Grand Slam wins have a bit of a wait ahead of them. Despite a purchase limit of two dolls per person, the $29.99 Barbie is sold out online “[d]ue to high demand“. You can request to be notified when it’s back in stock, though there’s currently no indication of when that might be.

Osaka is currently taking a break from competition though, so there’s a good chance your Osaka Barbie will still arrive in time to watch her next match with you.

Carsome Group will acquire iCar Asia in a deal worth $200M

Southeast Asia’s car marketplace wars are going into high drive. Today Carsome Group, one of the region’s largest online used car marketplaces, said it plans to acquire listings platform iCar Asia in a transaction worth more than $200 million.

Carsome has agreed to acquire 19.9% of iCar Asia from Malaysia internet conglomerate Catcha Group. In exchange, Catcha Group will become a shareholder in Carsome Group. Carsome and Catcha Group have also made a joint proposal to iCar Asia’s directors to buy the rest of the company from its shareholders.

Carsome rival Carro revealed one month ago that it raised a $360 million Series C led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, boosting it to unicorn status. A day after Carro’s announcement, DealStreetAsia reported that Carsome is in talks to raise over $200 million in a pre-IPO round.

Carsome hasn’t confirmed the funding, but it has been making moves to expand its reach, including a strategic investment in PT Universal, an offline car and motorcycle auction company that has retail branches in five Indonesian cities. Carsome said its investment in PT Universal will allow it to double its automotive transaction volumes in Indonesia.

Now Carsome says its integration with iCar Asia will create a marketplace that is targeting $1 billion in revenue for this year, with about 100,000 cars transacted annually, more than 460,000 live partner listings and over 13,000 car dealers it its network.

iCar Asia, which is listed on the Australian stock exchange, announced last year that it had received a takeover offer from China-based online auto marketplace Autohome. Catcha Group founder Patrick Grove told the Australian Financial Review that proposal was “one of the casualties of the cold war” between China and Australia.

In a press statement, Carsome co-founder and group chief executive officer Eric Cheng said the deal “is the first step toward consolidation to form the largest digital automotive group in terms of revenue, user base, largest live listing and the best end-to-end fulfilment capacity in the region.”

Google engineer who criticized company in viral comics on why he finally quit

May 2018: Cornet critiques Google's military contracts with a Google-ified drone.

Former Google engineer Manu Cornet describes his time at Google in two phases. First, there were “glitches in wonderland.” Then, there was “disillusionment.”

Those two descriptions are actually the sub-headings for Cornet’s two volumes of comics he has published about his former employer, which he called Goomics. Though Cornet was an engineer, he also spent 11 of his 14 years at Google drawing comics about employees, quirks, culture, and, eventually, larger societal and ethical issues facing the company and its workers. Some of those topics included Google contracts with government agencies like ICE, making a search engine for China’s government that complies with censorship laws, and more.

Chronicling those issues allowed Cornet to reflect on his place at Google, and prompted him to make a change. Cornet recently quit, and has taken a new job (at Twitter, a company with whom he says he has fewer ethical qualms). He is now the latest big tech employee — including employees at Facebook and Amazon — to publicly resign from their positions in protest of the company’s overall behavior.

“As the years passed by there were more and more things to have ethical qualms about that the company was doing at a higher level,” Cornet said. “I had to look at the bigger picture and think that maybe I would be better elsewhere.”

October 2019: The toll of working for Google weighs on Cornet.

October 2019: The toll of working for Google weighs on Cornet.
Credit: manu cornet

While an employee, Cornet would publish the comics on the company’s memes message board, and employees would also subscribe to receive his comics in their inbox. He says consistently over the years, about 10 percent of employees subscribed, with readership growing along with the company; Cornet says his subscriber base eventually grew to about 13 or 14 thousand. At one point, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt even had a print-out of one of Cornet’s comics affixed to the door of his office.

Now that Cornet has left Google, he has made his archive of Goomics available to the public online for free, and in two volumes of books. Taken as a body of work, it tells the “story of a tech company,” as Cornet put it: the “evolution from a colorful, ‘no evil’ company, an idealistic view of Google that was not very far from reality” to “a company just like the other ones.”

“Maybe we were just a bit naive,” Cornet said.

November 2019: Cornet critiques the evolution of Google's company motto.

November 2019: Cornet critiques the evolution of Google’s company motto.
Credit: manu cornet

Cornet described himself to Mashable as the company’s “court jester.” His comics began poking fun at entitlement in the workplace and Silicon Valley culture. Remember back in 2012, when the most mainstream critique of tech companies was about the nap pods and free snacks?

“At the start it was more lighthearted because it was more natural to be lighthearted, it was just such a Wonderland, it was like Disneyland with everything colorful and free and the company was out to do good things for the world,” Cornet said.

July 2010: Cornet wonders whether Google employees maybe care a *bit* too much about their snacks.

July 2010: Cornet wonders whether Google employees maybe care a *bit* too much about their snacks.
Credit: manu cornet

There were also plenty of internal jokes about company processes and issues faced by engineers. A theme that carried through to the end was about the Google graveyard of killed-off products and logos.

September 2015: Processing Google's new logo, and everything that came before it.

September 2015: Processing Google’s new logo, and everything that came before it.
Credit: manu cornet

April 2019: Critiques about Google killing off logos and products were a consistent theme.

April 2019: Critiques about Google killing off logos and products were a consistent theme.
Credit: manu cornet

Cornet gained notoriety both inside and outside of Google by comparing Google to its competitors. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella used one of Cornet’s comics about tech company org charts as the introduction to his book about making changes at Microsoft.

June 2011: Cornet's comic about org charts circulated outside of Google and went viral.

June 2011: Cornet’s comic about org charts circulated outside of Google and went viral.
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The comic Schmidt put on his door compared tech CEOs’ methods for apologizing (and depicted Schmidt in a favorable light).

January 2012: He's not wrong.

January 2012: He’s not wrong.
Credit:

Over the last few years, the content and tone began to change. Eventually, Cornet’s critiques took on topics like Google contracts with China and the U.S. military, or its skyrocketing profits. Plenty critique Google CEO Sundar Pichai specifically.

August 2019: Not mincing words. Or rather, pictures.

August 2019: Not mincing words. Or rather, pictures.
Credit: manu cornet

Cornet can’t pinpoint an exact turning point for the change, but says the 2018 Google walkouts that protested sexism in the workplace were an “inflection point.” This is also the time employees across the tech industry became more vocal critics of their employers.

“I don’t think I would have even been able to find such dark topics 10 years ago,” Cornet said.

June 2019: Google denied retaliating against employees for organizing and making workplace complaints.

June 2019: Google denied retaliating against employees for organizing and making workplace complaints.
Credit: manu cornet

May 2020: In response to employee protests, Google changed some of its processes for evaluating complaints. Some saw it as too little, too late.

May 2020: In response to employee protests, Google changed some of its processes for evaluating complaints. Some saw it as too little, too late.
Credit: Manu Cornet

While Cornet’s comics included plenty of critiques, he also found they were sometimes a way to have a positive impact within the company. After Google employee James Damore circulated his memo that included many sexist statements about the “natural abilities” of female vs. male engineers, Cornet considered how to respond. He didn’t want to “pile on” to the discussion, but he also felt upset about the women at the company that might have been hurt. He set about doing portraits of 100 female engineers (gaining consent from the subjects), and published a compilation of the portraits with the heading “Women in Tech: Rocking Google Since 1998.”

August 2017: Cornet honors the female engineers of Google.

August 2017: Cornet honors the female engineers of Google.
Credit: manu cornet

Cornet's living room covered in portraits as he put together his response to the Damore memo.

Cornet’s living room covered in portraits as he put together his response to the Damore memo.
Credit: manu cornet

Unfortunately, Cornet found plenty of fodder for less-buoying Goomics. What infuriates him most — and provides frequent inspiration for his comics — is what he views as hypocrisy at the company.

“The mismatch between what they say and what they really do is growing,” Cornet said. “The thicker the gap is, the easier it is to point out that hypocrisy.”

That extended to both major news items at the executive level, and changes within the company that affected employees. Google made headlines in 2019 for banning political discussion on employee message boards. But Cornet described one of their internal mottos as “bring your whole self to work.” He sees a gap between messaging the company uses to attract employees, and the needs of shareholders.

February 2020: Cornet described the company wanting to appeal to employees while still catering to shareholders as "having its cake and eating it too."

February 2020: Cornet described the company wanting to appeal to employees while still catering to shareholders as “having its cake and eating it too.”
Credit: manu cornet

Despite a changing culture and lack of transparency being a frequent topic in his comics, Cornet says he was never reprimanded for the content of his work by the company. There were a few times that fellow employees found the content offensive, and reported him to HR.

“When I published something I thought maybe this one is a little bit flirting with a limit, but to Google’s credit, that was never a problem,” Cornet said.

December 2018: Cornet observed Google's TGIF Q&A sessions becoming less and less transparent.

December 2018: Cornet observed Google’s TGIF Q&A sessions becoming less and less transparent.
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Cornet has now begun his new job at Twitter. And while he is more hopeful about the company’s ethical core, that’s not prompting him to put down his pen.

“I’ve published one already,” Cornet said. “It’s very tame.”

Nasir Qadree grew up in the projects; now he’s announcing one the largest debut funds for a solo VC

Nasir Qadree had been working in the world of venture capital for the last six years, starting with a role at Village Capital in Washington, then as an associate director of social investments at AT&T, and as a venture partner with Pier 70 Ventures in Seattle.

Qadree encountered even more opportunities to join established venture firms recently. In fact, he says that after deciding early last year to embark on launching his own firm — and garnering capital commitments for it — he became quite interesting to investors who tried bringing him aboard their own organizations.

He gets it, he says. “I think it’s great that organizations want to find new lines of business through their connections with fund managers who have differentiated sourcing and who will yield, I’d imagine, a more diversified portfolio.”

Still, he wasn’t going to hitch his wagon to another firm once he got going. “Venture capital is a wealth-creating business,” says Qadree. “I’m a first-generation college student. I grew up in the projects [and became] president” of numerous student-led organizations at his alma mater, Hampton University.

“I think it’s up to someone like myself and people who are constantly being asked these questions to have strong conviction around how to think about building your franchise. I’ve been through so much to get to this point that to give up my equity, give up my branding and ideas” was not going to happen, he says.

Qadree’s bet on himself appears to be paying off. His Washington-based venture firm, Zeal Capital Partners, today announced that it has closed its oversubscribed subscribed first fund with $62.1 million, making it one of the largest funds to be raised by a solo general partner to date. It was initially targeting $25 million.

That Qadree’s pitch resonated so widely isn’t surprising. Zeal is focused primarily on two sectors that are being reshaped fast: financial tech and the future of work. The themes play neatly into the firm’s overarching thesis around inclusive investing, meaning in this case that the startups which interest Zeal need in some way to address the yawning economic inequality in the U.S.

The firm’s current portfolio — it has announced five investments publicly — offers a flavor of what’s to come. For example, Kanarys, a three-year-old SaaS platform that provides metrics to help companies prioritize and optimize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the workplace. Zeal led its $3 million seed round, led by Revolution’s Rise of the Rest seed fund and others.

Meanwhile, three-year-old Esusu automates credit building by reporting its customers’ monthly rent payments to credit bureaus in an effort to boost their credit score. The app also allows users to pool and withdraw money for big-ticket transactions, then reports the fulfillment of those obligations to credit bureaus to improve their credit profiles. Forbes wrote about the company — which has raised $4 million in seed funding — last August.

Kanary and Esusu’s founders are Black, as is Qadree. But Qadree isn’t exclusively funding Black founders or Latino founders or women-led teams (though women founders currently represent 40% of the portfolio). While he says he is leaning into empowering founders who have been underrepresented in the tech world for decades, “being Black doesn’t mean we will only fund Black and brown entrepreneurs.”

He says he is far more focused on ensuring that a team has a specific strategy to evolve (quickly) into a more diverse group if it doesn’t start that way. Says Qadree, “If you’re building out a fintech company that’s rethinking FICO scores and you’re an all-white team, you have to show us that diversifying your management team is top of mind, that you recognize your blind spot.”

Zeal is also focused on founders who are outside of major tech hubs like the Bay Area, New York, and Boston. These “secondary markets” as Qadree calls them (using air quotes during a Zoom call), are just as important to Zeal’s mission around inclusive investing. “We want to level the playing field geographically so that an entrepreneur in Nashville or Detroit receives their fair share of investment capital, just as the Harvard grad who lives in Silicon Valley and is an alum of Google.”

Zeal’s new fund is anchored by investors Truist and Paypal, with additional investments from Synchrony Financial, the Skoll Foundation, Foot Locker, DC’s RockCreek, Hampton University Endowment, Southern New Hampshire University, and Gary Community Investment.

It also counts as investors numerous individuals who are also advising the firm, including NEA cofounder Frank Bonsal and Wes Moore, the former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation (and current gubernatorial candidate in Maryland).

Not last, Qadree has brought into the fold several operating partners, including Rachel Williams, who is the head of equity, inclusion and diversity at X, the “moonshot factory” that is part of Alphabet; and Kam Syed, a senior sales and business development exec at Amazon.

Pictured above, left to right: Andy Will, a senior associate with Zeal; Nicole ward, an analyst with the firm; Nasir Qadree; Nicole West, an executive in residence who was formerly a managing director with Legg Mason; and Jason Green, who cofounded SkillSmart and is also now an executive in residence with Zeal.

Whisper Aero emerges from stealth to quiet drones and air taxis

The skies are on the cusp of getting busier — and louder — as drone delivery and electric vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft startups move from moonshot to commercialization. One former NASA engineer and ex-director of Uber’s air taxi division is developing tech to ensure that more air traffic doesn’t equal more noise.

Mark Moore, who was most recently director of engineering at Uber Elevate until its acquisition by Joby Aviation, has a launched his own company called Whisper Aero. The startup, which came out of stealth this week, is aiming to designing an electric thruster it says will blend noise emitted from delivery drones and eVTOLs alike into background levels, making them nearly imperceptible to the human ear.

It’s a formidable challenge. Solving the noise problem comes down to more than simply cranking down the volume. Noise profiles are also characterized by other variables, like frequency. For example, helicopters have a main rotor and tail rotor that generate two separate frequencies, which makes them much more irritating to the human ear than if they were at a single frequency, Moore told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

Complicating the picture even further is that eVTOL companies are designing entirely new types of aircraft, ones that may generate different acoustic profiles than other rotorcraft (like helicopters). The U.S. Army recently undertook a research study confirming that eVTOL rotors generate more of a type of noise referred to as broadband, rather than tonal noise which is generated by helicopters. And as each eVTOL company is developing its own design, not all of the electric aircraft will generate the same level or kind of noise.

Whisper is designing its scalable product to be adoptable across the board.

Moore said the idea for the company had been fomenting for years. He and Whisper COO Ian Villa, who headed strategy and simulation at Elevate, realized years ago that noise (that is, less of it) was key to air taxis taking off.

“The thing that was abundantly clear was, noise matters most,” Villa said. “It is the hardest barrier to break through. And not enough of these developers were spending the time, the resources, the mindshare to really unlock that.”

Whisper CEO Mark Moore. Image Credits: Whisper Aero (opens in a new window)

Helicopters have mostly been able to get away with their terrible noise profile because they are used so infrequently. But eVTOL companies like Joby Aviation are envisioning far higher ride volumes. Moore is quick to point out that companies like Joby (which purchased Elevate at the end of 2020) are already developing aircraft that are many times quieter than helicopter, and are “a step in the right direction.”

“The question is, ‘is it enough of a step to get to significant adoption?’ And that’s what we’re focused on.”

Whisper is staying mum on the details of its thruster design. It has managed to attract around $7.5 million investment from firms like Lux Capital, Abstract Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Kindred Ventures and Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures. It’s also aiming to convert its provisional patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office sometime next year.

From there, the startup envisions launching in the small drone market around 2023, before scaling progressively up to air taxis. Moore said the goal is to get the thrusters manufactured and in vehicles by the end of the decade. Should the first generation of eVTOL go to market in 2024 (as Archer Aviation and Joby have proposed), Whisper’s product could potentially appear in second generation eVTOL.

In the meantime, Whisper will continue testing and working out remaining technical challenges – least among which is how to manufacture the end product at a reasonable cost. Whisper is also preparing to conduct dynamic testing in a wind tunnel, in addition to the static tests it has undertaken at its Tennessee headquarters, some in partnership with the U.S. Air Force.

“It’s got to be quiet enough to blend into the background noise,” Moore said. “We know this and that’s the technology we’re developing.”