Day: July 19, 2021

Looking for the best earbuds on Amazon? We found them for you.

Earbuds shouldn't fall out seconds into a workout. Let's find you a good pair.

Sure, they’re small, but that doesn’t mean earbuds are a purchase to be taken lightly.

You’ve probably been listening to music on the go for most of your life. So you know that finding a good pair of earbuds is actually pretty tricky. (I’ve gone through more in my lifetime than I can count.)

And while picking up a $5 pair in the checkout line is easy enough, you know you’ll just be back again next month (or sooner) for a new pair because they stopped working.

Does that mean all earbuds are crap? No. It’s simply not true that bass, noise cancellation, and crisp sound can only be found in fancy over-ear headphones. Some of us prefer our headphones to be a little more inconspicuous and portable.

Since it’s always good to get a personal recommendation, we did some research and pulled out the best earbuds on Amazon, based on actual customer reviews. We looked at which products have the most reviews and highest star ratings to compile this list, which features the earbuds that the greatest numbers of people have been happiest with.

You’ll find earbuds that require a headphone jack or the beloved dongle, wireless Bluetooth earbuds that still have a connecting cord, and the truly wireless earbuds that are as discreet as you can get. Whatever your preference and whatever your price range, you’re sure to find some that don’t suck.

GM confirms a third electric pickup truck is in development

GM will add a full-size electric pickup truck to its GMC lineup, the latest in a string of EV product announcements by the automaker in the past year as it pushes to deliver more than 1 million electric vehicles globally by 2025.

The EV pickup was shared in a slide deck during the media presentation and later confirmed to TechCrunch. Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick and GMC, didn’t provide further details about the vehicle or when it might go into production.

The GM brand is already aiming to begin production of its GMC Hummer EV in the fourth quarter of this year. The GMC Hummer EV, which will be produced at the company’s Factory ZERO assembly plant in Detroit and Hamtramck, a 350-mile range, 1,000 HP and up to 11,500 pound feet of torque with a starting price of $80,000.

The announcement comes three months after GM announced it would produce an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, which will also be assembled at the Factory ZERO plant. The Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup will be based on the automaker’s Ultium battery platform and will have an estimated range of more than 400 miles on a full charge.

GM President Mark Reuss said at the time that company is positioning the Chevrolet full-sized pickup for both consumer and commercial markets. The automaker plans to offer retail and fleet versions of the Silverado electric pickup with a variety of options and configurations.

Save on a pair of headphones that’s ideal for outdoor runs

Take them out for a stroll.

TL;DR: Keep up with your tunes and what’s happening around you with the Allegro Open-Ear Headphones, which are on sale as of July 19 for only $59.95.


Sometimes you want to check out, but not be totally checked out. You know what we mean? If you’re out for a run, you want to stay motivated with your favorite tunes and ignore distractions. At the same time, you also want to be able to hear what’s happening around you, at least to some extent.

With the Allegro Directional Audio Open-Ear Headphones, you can enjoy your favorite tunes for hours, while also easily switching back into the real world if you need to at a moment’s notice. What really makes these headphones unique is the open-ear design. As you wear them, nothing rests inside of your ear, so the noise of your music will never fully block the world around you.

Since the headphones have a five-hour battery life (with 160 hours of standby), you can actually enjoy your time and your freedom without running to the nearest outlet. Plus, they’re waterproof.

Get these directional open-ear headphones on sale for just $59.95 for a limited time.

This tool tells you if NSO’s Pegasus spyware targeted your phone

Over the weekend, an international consortium of news outlets reported that several authoritarian governments — including Mexico, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates — used spyware developed by NSO Group to hack into the phones of thousands of their most vocal critics, including journalists, activists, politicians and business executives.

A leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers of potential surveillance targets was obtained by Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and shared with the reporting consortium, including The Washington Post and The Guardian. Researchers analyzed the phones of dozens of victims to confirm they were targeted by the NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which can access all of the data on a person’s phone. The reports also confirm new details of the government customers themselves, which NSO Group closely guards. Hungary, a member of the European Union where privacy from surveillance is supposed to be a fundamental right for its 500 million residents, is named as an NSO customer.

The reporting shows for the first time how many individuals are likely targets of NSO’s intrusive device-level surveillance. Previous reporting had put the number of known victims in the hundreds or more than a thousand.

NSO Group sharply rejected the claims. NSO has long said that it doesn’t know who its customers target, which it reiterated in a statement to TechCrunch on Monday.

Researchers at Amnesty, whose work was reviewed by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, found that NSO can deliver Pegasus by sending a victim a link which when opened infects the phone, or silently and without any interaction at all through a “zero-click” exploit, which takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the iPhone’s software. Citizen Lab researcher Bill Marczak said in a tweet that NSO’s zero-clicks worked on iOS 14.6, which until today was the most up-to-date version.

Amnesty’s researchers showed their work by publishing meticulously detailed technical notes and a toolkit that they said may help others identify if their phones have been targeted by Pegasus.

The Mobile Verification Toolkit, or MVT, works on both iPhones and Android devices, but slightly differently. Amnesty said that more forensic traces were found on iPhones than Android devices, which makes it easier to detect on iPhones. MVT will let you take an entire iPhone backup (or a full system dump if you jailbreak your phone) and feed in for any indicators of compromise (IOCs) known to be used by NSO to deliver Pegasus, such as domain names used in NSO’s infrastructure that might be sent by text message or email. If you have an encrypted iPhone backup, you can also use MVT to decrypt your backup without having to make a whole new copy.

The Terminal output from the MVT toolkit, which scans iPhone and Android backup files for indicators of compromise. Image Credits: TechCrunch

The toolkit works on the command line, so it’s not a refined and polished user experience and requires some basic knowledge of how to navigate the terminal. We got it working in about 10 minutes, plus the time to create a fresh backup of an iPhone, which you will want to do if you want to check up to the hour. To get the toolkit ready to scan your phone for signs of Pegasus, you’ll need to feed in Amnesty’s IOCs, which it has on its GitHub page. Any time the indicators of compromise file updates, download and use an up-to-date copy.

Once you set off the process, the toolkit scans your iPhone backup file for any evidence of compromise. The process took about a minute or two to run and spit out several files in a folder with the results of the scan. If the toolkit finds a possible compromise, it will say so in the outputted files. In our case, we got one “detection,” which turned out to be a false positive and has been removed from the IOCs after we checked with the Amnesty researchers. A new scan using the updated IOCs returned no signs of compromise.

Given it’s more difficult to detect an Android infection, MVT takes a similar but simpler approach by scanning your Android device backup for text messages with links to domains known to be used by NSO. The toolkit also lets you scan for potentially malicious applications installed on your device.

The toolkit is — as command line tools go — relatively simple to use, though the project is open source so it won’t be long before someone will surely build a user interface for it. The project’s detailed documentation will help you — as it did us.

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What we learned from selling a blockchain service to African governments

Mohammed Ibrahim Jega
Contributor

Mohammed Ibrahim Jega is the co-founder of Domineum Blockchain Solutions, a serial tech entrepreneur, startup adviser, fintech expert and blockchain advocate.

A major attraction of Africa is its large population of 1.2 billion, which hints at a sizable addressable market. But what happens when your target audience is the governments of 54 countries?

In our situation, that was the case. We started Domineum Blockchain Solutions with the intention to help African governments solve problems with shipping and keeping records.

We knew it’d be hard work, but didn’t anticipate that getting our first customer would be the most difficult part.

It’s typical when entering Africa to want to focus on the big and popular markets like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. But what we’ve learned so far is that there’s a high probability that these countries might not be your first entry point.

Our first product was a cargo service that tracks shipment origin and movement and determines the contents of goods being imported or exported in any country. We built this to solve the problem of lost revenue due to shipments being passed through informal backdoor channels.

With our focus on sub-Saharan Africa, we approached four countries in 2019: our home country of Nigeria, plus Kenya, Gambia and Guinea-Conakry.

We started this conversation and didn’t get a substantial response from the four countries’ governments. They weren’t open to trying out our solution — it was new and they weren’t familiar with blockchain technology. Distraught, we decided to add a smaller country to our list: Sierra Leone.

The Freetown seaport, located in the country’s capital, is the main gateway for trade in and out of Sierra Leone, with 80% of trade passing through this port. The port has a long history as a trading hub and benefits from the country’s strategically important location midway between Europe and the Americas.

But Freetown isn’t one of the top ports in Africa or even sub-Saharan Africa; a fraction of a percentage point of the world’s trade shipment flows through its ports. The small African country, with about 0.1% of the world’s population, exports diamonds, cocoa and coffee and imports food, machinery and chemicals.

Notably, it faced big challenges in shipping these products in and out of the country. A Sierra Leonean supply chain manager described this situation, “We used to face big challenges during the export process. There would be long delays at the port. Our trucks would arrive before midnight and could be stuck in queue for hours, even days. The documentation process was so complicated.”

According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone’s “trade challenges can be attributed to several factors: lack of access to trade information; high levels of physical inspections; multiple fees, licenses, permits and certificates; manual processes; and the lack of coordination among agencies.” Domineum set out to solve this.

Our initial conversations with the Sierra Leone government went well. Fortunately, Sierra had developed a five-year plan (2018-2023), supported by the World Bank Group, to reduce the time and costs needed to move goods across its borders. The goal is to reduce trade costs by 10%. After three months of discussion, our cargo tracking system was implemented.

In late 2019, we started this partnership, and so far we’ve been able to capture $2 million in revenue that would have been lost. The business model is simple: We get a 40% commission out of extra revenue we’re able to capture for the Sierra Leone government via our cargo tracking system.

It’s typical when entering Africa to want to focus on the big and popular markets like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. But what we’ve learned so far is that there’s a high probability that these countries might not be your first entry point. A business-to-government model is a difficult one. There’s a lot of politicking that goes into working with the government.

What we’ve seen work is to approach other countries and gain a foothold, then use that as validation that the concept works. With the success of Sierra Leone, we’re hoping to return to other countries and get a better reception.

The success of Sierra Leone got us rethinking the services we were offering. The initial conversation started with a cargo tracking service, but then we wondered if we should offer a different service to countries that said no at first.

We identified that land registration was a common problem in Africa. More than 90% of rural land in Africa is undocumented and therefore vulnerable to land-grabbing. This hampers the growth of agriculture and other sectors because land is lost to other parties or taken forcefully by the government during times of conflict.

We returned to these countries, offering other services like land ownership registration via blockchain. We got a positive response from a state government in Nigeria to carry out a pilot program. We’re optimistic that once this pilot phase is over, we’ll be able to seal the next business deal.

What’s it like working with African governments? It’s a smaller addressable market. If you’re looking to pitch a product or service to governments in Africa, it’d be helpful to keep in mind that your first customer might be from a smaller country.

To seize other opportunities, we’ll keep looking to expand to other African countries with this mindset.

Prince Harry is writing a memoir to tell his story in his own words

Royal memoir time? Royal memoir time.

In a move that will surely shake up both the celebrity memoir industry and the British royal family, Random House announced that they will publish a memoir penned by Prince Harry for a 2022 release. The book announcement was accompanied by a statement on Twitter, noting that “Prince Harry will share, for the very first time, the definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses, and life lessons that have helped shape him.”

Tweet may have been deleted

The generally tight-lipped nature of the British royal family makes a royal memoir an extremely rare event. The last royal to publish their memoirs was Princess Alice, Duchess of Glouchester, an aunt-in-law to Queen Elizabeth II who married into the royal family and lived to be 102 years old. Her book The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, was released in 1983.

In recent years, Prince Harry has done much to distance himself from the royal family’s tradition of silence, culminating in the 2020 announcement that he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were stepping down as senior members of the royal family and moving to the United States. In a later interview with Oprah, both Harry and Meghan discussed the effects being a royal had on their mental health and shed light on their decision to leave.

According to Random House, Prince Harry’s memoir will cover “his childhood to present day” in an “honest and captivating personal portrait,” suggesting that the book will contain more details about his choice to leave England.

The insofar untitled memoirs of Prince Harry will arrive in bookstores some time in 2022.

Founders: How well do you really understand seed-stage financing?

Yin Wu
Contributor

Yin Wu, a three-time YC alum, is founder of Pulley, which offers cap table management tools that help companies better understand and optimize their equity.
More posts by this contributor

I’ve fundraised a lot. Tactically, fundraising is a skill like any other. You get better the more you do it. But practicing gets you nowhere if you don’t have a strong foundation in understanding a fundraising round’s core components.

As a founder, you will understand less than investors when it comes to fundraising. For investors, negotiating with founders is their full-time job. For founders, fundraising is just a small part of building a business. Understanding the basics of venture financing can help founders raise on better terms.

We’ll cover:

  • How financing works: SAFEs versus equity rounds.
  • How much to raise.
  • How to arrive at your valuation.

How financing works: SAFEs versus equity rounds

As a founder, you will understand less than investors when it comes to fundraising.

Venture financing takes place in rounds. The first stage is the pre-seed or seed round, then a Series A, then a Series B, then a Series C and so on. You can continue to raise funding until the company is profitable, gets acquired or goes public.

We will focus here on seed-stage funding — your very first funding round.

SAFEs

Post-money SAFEs are the most common way to raise funding. These documents are used by Y Combinator, angel investors and most early-stage funds. You should raise on post-money SAFEs using standard documents created by YC. Standard documents have consistent terms that have been drafted to be fair to both investors and founders.

By using the standard post-money SAFE, your negotiation can focus on the two terms that matter:

  1. Principal: The amount you want to raise per investor.
  2. Valuation cap: The value of your business.

Watch Blue Origin launch Jeff Bezos to space live, along with the youngest and oldest astronauts ever

Blue Origin is set to launch its fully reusable New Shepard spacecraft with humans on board for the first time on Tuesday, and it’s sending Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos up along with his brother and two record-setting astronauts. The launch live stream above is scheduled for 6:30 AM CDT (7:30 AM EDT/4:30 AM PDT), with the actual liftoff targeted for 8 AM CDT (9 AM EDT/6 AM PDT).

The full flight profile includes a takeoff from Blue Origin’s remote West Texas facility, followed by an ascent to a height of roughly 62 miles above the Earth’s surface. Those on board, including Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year old Wally Funk and 18-year old Oliver Daemen will then experience between 3 and 4 minutes of weightlessness inside the New Shepard capsule, before it returns to Earth slowed by parachutes for a touchdown in the West Texas desert and then a recovery by Blue Origin staff.

This is not significantly different in terms of timing or sequence from the 15 prior New Shepard flights that Blue Origin has flown, but this is the first one with humans on board (including the world’s richest), so it’s obviously the one to watch.

The best gas grills of 2021 combine convenience, style, and fancy extras

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard or outdoor area that is solely yours, getting some fresh air easily is a beloved privilege. Don’t let that go to waste.

If you really want to make the most of your outdoor space (besides getting some nice new furniture), we can’t stress enough how great it is to have a grill. Not only will it provide you with plenty of new cooking opportunities, but it’ll also give you a reason to get out of the house for a moment and perhaps spend some quality time with your loved ones while you whip up a meal.

Summertime is synonymous with grilling, so we say it’s time to get with the program. And if you need some help choosing the best grill for you and your space, we’ve got you covered.

What to take into consideration

Gas grills come in all shapes and sizes (and prices), which means that picking one out can get overwhelming very quickly. Something that is vital to remember when shopping for one: Just because it’s the most, doesn’t mean it’s the best (for you). In other words, if you have a tiny backyard and prefer the concept of minimalism, the super expensive, gigantic, five-burner grill isn’t really going to fit your vibe. It might be for someone else, but we’re shopping for you, remember?

Now that we got that lesson out of the way, there are two major points you’ll want to get figured out before purchasing your very own gas grill:

  1. Size: Not just the amount of physical space it takes up (which is still important), but also take note of the amount of burners you need. How much food do you normally cook at once? Are you regularly feeding a whole family? The more food, the more burners and surface area you’ll want.

  2. Versatility and extra features: This can range anywhere from temperature regulation, to smart features, to warming racks, to external side burners, to equipment storage, and more. It’ll all come down to what you see as necessary, and what you see as superfluous.

Get those priorities in check, and you’ve already done most of the work.

Gas grills vs. charcoal grills

Ah, yes, the age-old debate: Gas or charcoal?

The answer to that question will depend on where your priorities lie — convenience or flavor? Gas grills are all about the former. You can light them immediately, and they’re normally ready to cook on within minutes. With a charcoal grill, it’s a different story. Those generally take 20 to 30 minutes to start up, which can be frustrating if patience isn’t your strong suit.

But, with patience comes reward — many say that cooking with a charcoal grill helps you retain the smoky flavor of whatever you’re cooking, ending in a better final result. Gas grills usually end up vaporizing a lot of the good stuff, even though it gets the job done more quickly. Of course, if you’re a crappy cook, the flavor factor might not even matter. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you fire up that grill or prepare for unhappy tastebuds for all.

Gas grills are also inarguably more versatile and easier to operate. In addition to quick startup and shutdown, gas grills allow you to more meticulously control the temperature of your cooking surface. Many also come with multiple burners and extras that charcoal grills just don’t. You’ll end up paying more, though, and buying charcoal is a whole lot easier than refilling your propane tank in terms of availability (not to mention that gas grills are typically much bulkier). What we’re saying is that both have their advantages and disadvantages.

You can’t really go wrong, though. Consider your cooking style, budget, and taste preference, then make an informed decision. Don’t stress over it — it’s just food after all, and both will give you the opportunity to make something truly delicious.

What is the best gas grill for under $500?

The best grill for under $500 also happens to be our top pick overall: The Weber Spirit II E-310.

You’ll be able to read our full take on it below, but in short, we think it’s a great all-around grill that boasts the features of more expensive options, just at a way better price. Plus, it’s compatible with smart devices. How cool!

What is the best gas grill, period?

We’re happy you asked. Without further ado, our picks for the best gas grills.

LG’s rollable OLED TV comes to the U.S. with $100,000 price tag

LG's rollable OLED TV.

The LG Signature OLED R is finally making its way to the U.S. with a new $100,000 price tag.

LG first showed off its rollable display technology at CES 2014 with an 18-inch prototype; it later created a 65-inch proof of concept TV that was showcased at CES 2018 and CES 2019.

The company then officially released the Signature OLED R in South Korea with an $87,000 price tag in October 2020. It’s not clear why the U.S. version will cost an additional $13,000.

LG said the Signature OLED R will offer three operating modes: A Full View for watching videos, playing games, or using the built-in smart home features; a Line View for listening to audio content; and a Zero View “that displays the speaker as a work of art” when the display is stowed.

The company’s online store says the display will support Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG; boast a sub-1ms response time, 120Hz refresh rate, and AMD FreeSync Premium support; and offer one Ethernet, four HDMI 2.1, and three USB 2.0 ports as well as Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi.

The Signature OLED R will also run webOS with built-in apps from LG’s content partners (Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, among others) as well as support for Alexa and Google Assistant.

Those features probably won’t be enough for many people to justify spending $100,000, of course, but at least the LG Signature OLED R has more going for it than a rollable display.

LG’s online store lists the Signature OLED R as in stock and ready to ship at time of writing. The company said that all orders will include “white glove delivery and installation service to ensure a seamless set-up experience,” and that the LG Signature Concierge Service “will usher customers through the timeline from order placement to delivery for total peace of mind.”

Uber expands its grocery delivery service to more than 400 US cities and towns

Uber has announced the first major expansion of its grocery delivery service in the US. The company is more than doubling the number of service areas this week to north of 400 cities and towns. It now serves several major markets through the Uber and Uber Eats apps, including San Francisco, New York City and Washington DC.

The rapid expansion was partly fueled by a partnership with Albertsons Companies and its 1,200 grocery stores across the country. Albertsons owns brands including Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Tom Thumb and Randalls. Uber also offers delivery from regional chains such as Southeastern Grocers and New York’s Red Apple Group. Uber Pass and Eats Pass subscribers don’t need to pay delivery fees on grocery orders over $30.

Grocery delivery became an important component of Uber’s business during the toughest parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, because the number of rides people were taking dropped significantly. The company is also dealing with a driver shortage that led to higher prices for rides. Uber bought several delivery startups over the last couple of years to fuel its growth in that sector, such as Cornershop, Postmates and Drizly.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Sweetch raises $20M for a personalized engagement system designed to boost health outcomes

You’ve just sat down to dinner, and your wearable device reminds you to get up and get in your steps for the day. Maybe the app has a point, but odds are, you’ll push the notification to the side. The founders of Sweetch, an Israeli company creating its own AI-driven behavior change app, are betting that if you got that notification in a different way, you’ll be more likely to take its advice. 

Yossi Bahagon, the founder of Sweetch, describes the company’s approach to digital reminders as a mixture of artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence. The app will use AI to analyse “lifeprint” data picked up through a smartphone. Then it delivers messages to when you might be more likely to respond to them and in a “tone of voice” that encourages compliance. 

For instance if you have meetings on Mondays between 12 and 3, but still want to get in some exercise, Sweetch won’t suggest getting a workout in during those times, or shame you for sitting through a meeting rather than getting a run in. 

“It’s about ongoing hyper-personalized engagement that increases the likelihood of the patient doing what he or she needs to do,” says Bahagon. 

On Monday, Sweetch announced a $20 million Series A round led by Entreé Capital. Other investors include Noaber, Kortex Ventures, Insurtech VC, Fin TLV Ventures, and existing investors Philips, OurCrowd, and Qure Ventures. 

Bahagon is a family physician by training, but he’s spent the majority of his career in the digital health arena. In 2008 Bagahon founded the digital health division of Clalit Health Services, a non-profit insurance and medical services provider that currently insures 60 percent of the Israeli population. His previous company, Luminox Health, was acquired by Israeli investor platform OurCrowd in 2016, and Bahagon stayed on to manage the fund’s digital health arm. 

Sweetch, which was founded in 2013, is yet another digital health venture for Bahagon –  this time aimed at increased patient compliance. The app has already generated some interest, and was one of five apps selected from over 400 to participate in the Bayer G4A program, something like an accelerator developed by the pharmaceutical giant. 

So far, Sweetch CEO Yoni Nevo says the app has “tens of thousands of users,” (the company would not provide a specific number).

It’s currently being used in patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and, in a bit of a departure from the rest: breast cancer treatment. 

Sweetch isn’t designed for users to download at will on the app store (you can download it, but won’t get far without an access code); their go-to market strategy is instead to partner with healthcare organizations, pharma companies, payers or providers. Then providers might prescribe Sweetch alongside the actual treatment to encourage them to stick with it.

There is evidence that people don’t always follow doctors’ orders – particularly when it comes to chronic conditions. One 2017 report from the CDC notes that one in five prescriptions written in the United States are never filled, and up to 50 percent of medicines were taken incorrectly (at the wrong time, wrong dose, etc). 

Improving patient compliance, though, is a more complicated problem. The CDC report outlined a few solutions – some of which have more to do with the healthcare system than they do with health tech. Those include lowering economic barriers to medication, increasing team-based healthcare (your pharmacist and doctor coordinating prescription refills, for instance), and increasing access to healthcare in the first place. 

The report does highlight an avenue for health information technology to help address the non-compliance problem (it specifically mentions e-prescribing software). 

Tech, like Sweetch, can only address the non-compliance problem in medicine if it doesn’t have a non-compliance problem of its own. To that end, Bahagon says the app has a record of user retention. “Even after 24 months, we still see around 45% of the patients that started using the system continue to use it,” he says.  

User retention is a good sign for any app developer. But in the health space, it’s more complicated. Some studies suggest that consumer ratings are poor markers of how well these apps work to improve outcomes (you might like an app and use it, but it doesn’t make you any healthier). 

In that regard, Sweetch does have a trial under its belt, conducted at two sites in the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network. 

The app was tested on 55 adults with prediabetes over the course of three months. Forty-seven of the participants finished the trial, and on average, they increased their physical activity by an average of 2.8 MET-hours (they may have actually exercised for shorter periods, but their intensity was the equivalent of 2.8 hours of work), and lost about 1.6 kilograms. 

The users also lowered their A1c levels, a key measure of average blood sugar. Prediabetic adults usually have an A1c between 5.7 and 6.5 percent, and those in this trial reduced their A1c levels by about .1 percent (the study refers to that reduction as “clinically meaningful.”) 

This study didn’t specifically compare Sweetch to any other prediabetes interventions. However, a study on that is upcoming. In a December 2020 interview, Bahagon noted that Sweetch had received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue testing Sweetch against other “gold standard” interventions for diabetes. 

Nevo and Bahagon didn’t provide concrete updates on the project, but noted that “in a month or so” the company may announce updates on the NIH funding and upcoming randomized controlled trials. 

In the meantime, the company plans to use the Series A funding to expand into markets in the US and Brazil, grow the user base, and enhance the platform to provide specific and tailored recommendations for even more conditions. 

How to post on Instagram from a laptop or desktop

Instagram Icon

After eleven years, Instagram has finally allowed users to post from desktop.

Instagram is a photo-sharing social media app and before recently, you could only post on Instagram through the Instagram app itself. Now, you are able to post from the desktop version which is great news for those of us who find the app a little too addicting.

Posting on Instagram from desktop is as easy as posting through the app. Follow the steps below and you’ll be posting on desktop like a pro.

How to post on Instagram from a computer:

1. Using your preferred web browser, go to instagram.com and log in to your account

2. Select the square with a plus in it on the upper right hand corner

Hit the square with a plus in it to begin crafting your post.

Hit the square with a plus in it to begin crafting your post.
Credit: Screenshot: instagram

3. Select the photo you want to post

Drag the image you want to post or select the image from computer.

Drag the image you want to post or select the image from computer.
Credit: screenshot: instagram

4. Edit the photo as you choose

Just like in the app, you can choose from a variety of filters and you can also choose the dimensions you want the photo be.

5. Select “Share” in the bottom right hand corner to post your picture

Hit share to post.

Hit share to post.
Credit: Screenshot: Instagram

See, posting on Instagram from desktop is just as simple as posting from the app.

The Zoom-Five9 deal is a big bet for the video conferencing company

Zoom, a well-known video conferencing company, will buy Five9, a company that sells software allowing users to reach customers across platforms, and record notes on their interactions. As TechCrunch noted this morning, the deal is merely “Zoom’s latest attempt to expand its offerings,” having “added several office collaboration products, a cloud phone system, and an all-in-one home communications appliance” to its larger software stack in recent quarters. Both companies are publicly traded.

But the Five9 deal is in a different league than its previous purchases. Indeed, the $14.7 billion transaction represents a material percentage of Zoom’s own value. That tells us that the company is not simply making a purchase in Five9, but is instead making a large bet that the combination of its business and that of the smaller company will prove rather accretive.

Zoom is worth $101.8 billion as of the time of writing, with the company’s shares slipping just over 4% today; the stock market is largely off this morning, making Zoom’s share price movements less indicative of investor reaction to the deal that we might think. Still, it doesn’t appear that the street is excessively thrilled by news of Zoom’s purchase.

That perspective may be reasonable, given that the Five9 transaction is worth nearly 15% of Zoom’s total market cap; the company is betting a little less than a sixth of its value on a single wager.

Not that Five9 doesn’t bring a lot to the table. In its most recent quarter, Five9 posted $138 million in total revenue, growth of 45% on a year-over-year basis.

Still, as Zoom reported in an investor deck concerning the transaction, the smaller company’s growth rate pales compared to its own:

Image Credits: Zoom investor deck

This is where the deal gets interesting. Note that Five9’s revenue growth rate is a fraction of Zoom’s. The larger company, then, is buying a piece of revenue that is growing slower than its core business. That’s a bit of a flip from many transactions that we see, in which the smaller company being acquired is growing faster than the acquiring entity’s own operations.

Why would Zoom buy slower growth for so very much money? One thing to consider is that Five9’s most recent quarterly growth rate is quicker than the growth rate that it posted over the last 12 months. That implies that Five9 has room to accelerate growth compared to its historical pace, bringing its total pace of top-line expansion closer to what Zoom itself manages.

The best laptops for business from top brands

When it comes to business, working from home, and working on the go, a good laptop can make or break your workday. While you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to your laptop, that doesn’t mean that you should only look toward big-ticket computers (we see you, MacBook Pro).

Here’s what you need: A machine that offers enough battery to get you through conference sessions and long meetings, a CPU that’ll deliver great performance even with a (couple) dozen tabs open, and something light enough to easily stash in a carry-on or tote. Everything else? That’s up to your own personal preference.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a new laptop, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

Why should you care about battery life?

You don’t want a laptop that’ll give out halfway through a long flight while you’re finishing a report, delivering a presentation, or in the middle of a Zoom call. You need a reliable battery that’ll deliver. While there are still some laptops with a short battery life of around six hours or so, a little more money can sometimes get you up to 10 or more.

Think about how and where you work, and find a machine with a battery life that aligns with your ideal needs.

Does a laptop’s weight really matter?

While you might be sitting at your desk with this laptop most of the time, it doesn’t mean that’s where you’ll stay. Look for a machine that isn’t packing too many pounds — you want to be able to throw it in a backpack, tote, or carry-on without it making your bag dig into your shoulders.

Should you consider a cheap laptop for business?

It’s one thing if your employer is springing for the tab, but if you’re self-funding this laptop, price can be an important consideration. While top-of-the-line machines might cost above £1,000, you can get great laptops under a grand too — and we’ve included a range of prices below.

What is the best laptop for business?

Picking the right laptop for you and your work can be a tricky task, but we can help make the process a whole lot easier. We have scoured the net for the best business laptops, and lined up a selection of options that should suit just about everyone.

You can find impressive models from top brands like Apple and Lenovo in this roundup. All you need to do is consider your preferences and priorities, and then pick a favourite from the bunch.

These are the best laptops for business in 2021.

Dover raises $20M to bring the concept of ‘orchestration’ to recruitment

Despite being one of the earliest adopters of using the world wide web to disrupt how its business is done and connect with more potential customers, the recruitment industry ironically remains one of the more fragmented and behind the times when it comes to using new, cloud based services to work more efficiently. A new startup is hoping to change that, and it’s picked up some funding on strong, early signs of traction.

Dover, which has built what CEO and co-founder Max Kolysh describes as a “recruitment orchestration platform” — aimed at recruiters, it helps them juggle and aggregate multiple candidate pools to source suitable job candidates automatically, and then manage the process of outreach (including using tools to automatically re-write job descriptions, as well as to write recruitment and rejection letters) — has raised $20 million from an impressive list of investors.

Tiger Global led the Series A round, with Founders Fund, Abstract Ventures, and Y Combinator also investing. Dover was part of YC’s Summer 2019 class (which debuted in August 2020), and Founders Fund led its seed round. Since leaving the incubator, it’s picked up more than 100 customers, mostly from the world of tech, including ClearBanc, Lattice, Samsara and others, even larger companies that you might have assumed would have their own in-house orchestration and automation platforms in place already.

“Orchestration” in the world of business IT is commonly used for software built for the fields of sales and marketing: in both of these, there is a lot of fragmentation and work involved in sourcing good leads to become potential customers, and so tech companies have built platforms both to source interesting contacts and handle some of the initial steps needed to reach out to them, and get them engaged.

That, it turns out, is a very apt way to think of the recruitment industry, too, not least because it also, to a degree, involves a company “selling” itself to candidates to get them interested.

“I would say recruiting is sales and marketing,” Kolysh said. “We’re comparable to sales ops, but sales is 5-10 years ahead in terms of technology.”

Recruiters, especially those working in industries where talent is at a premium and therefore proactively hiring good people can be a challenge, are faced with a lot of busy work to find interesting candidates and engage them to consider open jobs, and subsequently handling the bigger process of screening, reaching out to them, and potentially rejecting some while making offers to others.

This is mainly because the process of doing all of these is typically very fragmented: mot only are there different tools built to handle these different processes, but there is an almost endless list of sources today where people go to look for work, or get their names out there.

Dover’s approach is based on embracing that fragmentation and making it easier to handle. Using AI, it taps platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Triplebyte — a likely list, given its initial focus on tech — to source candidates that it believes are good fits for a particular opening at a company.

Dover does this with a mix of AI and understanding what a recruiter is looking for, plus any extra parameters if they have been set by the recruiter to carry this out (for example, diversity screening, if the employer would like to have a candidate pool that is in line with a company’s inclusion targets).

Dover also uses data science and AI to help calibrate a recruiter’s communications with would-be candidates, from the opening job description through to job offer or rejection letters. (Why dwell on rejection letters? Because these candidates are already in short list, and so even if they didn’t get one particular job, they are likely good prospects for future rolls.)

“No human wants to write 100 cold emails per week but on the other hand, there are many ppl to hit up,” Kolysh said of the challenges that recruiters face. “When a company is seeing a lot of growth, it needs to scale fast. You just can’t do that with a human anymore.” Kolysh — who co-founded the company with Anvisha Pai (CTO) and George Carollo (COO) — said all three founders experienced that first-hand working at previous startups and trying to recruit while also building the other aspects of the business. (They are pictured above, along with founding engineer John Holliman.)

Given how much orchestration has caught on in the world of sales, there is a strong opportunity here for Dover to bring a similar approach to recruitment, based on what seems to be a very close understanding of the flawed recruitment process as it exists today. Whether that brings more competitors to the space — or more tools from some of the bigger players in, say, candidate sourcing — will be one factor to watch, as will how and if Dover manages to make the leap to other industries beyond tech.

But for now, its usefulness for a particular segment of the market is also what caught the eye of Tiger Global.

John Luttig, the partner who led the round for Tiger Global, noted in an interview that most recruiting tools in the market today might best be described as point solutions, addressing scheduling, or interviews, for example.

“It’s the full stack here that is appealing,” he told me. “And it’s automated, which is particularly valuable for early and mid-stage tech companies, to keep candidates from falling through the cracks. It also saves time from having to build up big recruiting departments. And because Dover owns all that work, those working in recruitment can instead focus on culture building, or assessing the candidates.”

Best gay dating apps for hookups, relationships, and everything in between

There are several gay dating apps worth trying out.

Most people have at least one horror story about online dating. It’s a rite of passage that single people love to hate.

But the horror stories look a little different for members of the LGBTQ community. On top of the classic awkward Hinge date anecdotes and screenshots of a corny bio seeping with secondhand embarrassment, gay singles deal with all sorts of alienating interactions. Baseless questioning of sexual history, harassment, and fetishization — some of it coming from cis straight people who shouldn’t have popped up in your feed in the first place — don’t exactly give one butterflies.

Still, dating apps have become crucial means of introduction for gay folks looking to settle down. A 2019 Stanford study and 2020 Pew Research survey found that meeting online has become the most popular way for U.S. couples to connect — especially for gay couples, of which 28 percent met their current partner online (versus 11 percent of straight couples).

But the Pew survey also dredged up those ugly experiences with harassment. This could be where options that bar heterosexual users, like HER and Grindr, come in. Their perfectly-tailored environments are so well-known in the gay community that they’re essentially in a league of their own.

Is Grindr the only option for gay dating apps?

Though Grindr and HER are big players, they’re not in the queer dating app market alone. Apps like Zoe, Taimi, and Scruff exist. But their plateauing popularity can be attributed to similar complaints: too many scam profiles and too few legitimate users (ones within a reasonable distance to plan a date, anyway). Chappy was a promising app for gay men that shut down just as it was gaining serious traction.

And at the end of the day, “everyone” apps are simply where masses of queer users are. Keeping Tinder on the back burner isn’t just a straight people thing, especially for those who live in less-populated areas where Grindr and HER have slim pickings. Plus, some mainstream apps do deserve credit for the steps they’ve taken to create a more inclusive atmosphere. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge now offer lots of sexual orientation and gender identity options. OkCupid gets kudos for making that change years ago, as well as making social justice a core part of compatibility scoring — which kind of self-curates the type of people on the app.

If you’re part of the LGBTQ community and hate leaving your home, you’re not alone. Here are the best dating apps and sites that’ll maximize your opportunities while minimizing your human contact. Bless.

JLL, Khosla lead Jones’ $12.5M Series A for real estate vendor compliance

Commercial real estate tenants and property managers have to abide by strict liability rules that any vendor entering the property must have insurance certificates and meet other requirements. The approval process for this currently can take days and is still largely done on paper.

Enter Jones. The New York-based commercial real estate startup is curating a marketplace of pre-approved vendors for tenants and property managers to find and hire the people they need in a compliant way.

To continue advancing its network, the company announced Monday it raised $12.5 million in Series A funding led by JLL Spark and Khosla Ventures that also included strategic investors Camber Creek, Rudin Management, DivcoWest and Sage Realty. This new investment brings Jones’ total raised to $20 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Jones, founded in 2017, also manages certifications and approvals, moving the whole process online. Its technology can process an insurance certificate in less than an hour and reduce the overall vendor approval time to 2.5 days — from 12 days — with 99.9% accuracy, co-founder and CEO Omri Stern told TechCrunch.

The accuracy portion is key. With much of the work being done by hand, current accuracy is at about 30%, he added. In addition, the certifications are lengthy, and it is typically up to property managers to parse through the insurance documents to identify what is missing rather than spending time with tenants.

“In the consumer world, a homeowner expects to go on a marketplace and find a service and hire them,” Stern said. “Office managers and tenants can’t get their preferred vendors through the approval process, so we want to provide a similar digital experience that they can consume and use in real estate.”

He says Jones’ differentiator from competitors is that all of the stakeholders are in place: a group of high-profile real estate customers, including Lincoln Property Co., Prologis, DivcoWest, Rudin Management, Sage Realty and JLL.

Yishai Lerner, co-CEO of JLL Spark, agrees, telling TechCrunch that commercial real estate is one of the largest and last asset classes that is undergoing a technology transformation, similar to what fintech was 20 years ago.

He estimates the U.S. market to be $16 trillion, of which technology could unlock a lot of the value. That opportunity was one of the drivers for JLL to create JLL Spark, where Jones is one of the first investments.

Though Lerner spent time with property management teams on the ground, he became up close and personal with the problem when his wife, while moving offices, found out her vendors were not allowed in the building because they didn’t have the right insurance.

“We learned that property managers spend half of their time just working to verify the compliance of vendors coming into their building,” Lerner said. “We wondered why there wasn’t technology for this. Jones was doing construction at the time, and we brought them into commercial real estate because they had an example of how technology could solve the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Series A comes at a time when Stern is seeing Jones’s SaaS tool take off in the past 10 months. He would not get specific with growth metrics, but did say that what is driving growth is “competing against the status quo” as companies are searching for and adapting workflow solutions.

The company intends to use the new funds on product development in both quicker and easier approvals and bringing on new vendors. Jones already works with tens of thousands of vendors. It will also focus on integration, offering an API that could be used in other industry verticals where compliance is necessary.

Stern would also like to continue building the team. Having brought in real estate experts, he is now also looking for people with backgrounds in fintech, cybersecurity and insurtech to bring in additional perspectives.

“We are building an incredible company with the opportunity to be the next big digital marketplace,” he added.

 

The best headphones for iPhone users

Listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks on your iPhone makes perfect sense — your phone is basically the modern-day iPod. But to get the most out of your listening experience, you really need a good set of headphones or earphones. The ones that come bundled with your iPhone just don’t sound as good as a dedicated set — and they leak sound like crazy.

If you’re serious about your sounds — and you should be — you need to shop around for something better. But not just any old headphones will do. You need a pair that both suit the capabilities of your iPhone and your lifestyle. It’s important to know what you’re looking for, so we’ve gone ahead and done a lot of the research for you.

Do you need wireless headphones for my iPhone?

To put it simply, yes. If you have an iPhone, it’s probably time to go wireless. You have to go back several generations to find an iPhone that has a regular 3.5mm audio jack input — Apple has insisted on equipping its phones with a Lightning port for several years now.

Apple headphones also use Lightning connections — so they can plug straight into your phone. If you have a pair of wired non-Apple headphones, Apple also sells an adaptor which connects a regular audio jack to Lightning connection, but these adaptors are unreliable and break easily.

The best option is to connect your iPhone to the headphones or earphones wirelessly. It’s much easier and means you don’t have to deal with too many cables.

What is true wireless?

True wireless — or “truly” wireless as it’s sometimes called — refers to headphones that have no cord connected to your phone or device. True wireless headphones can use different types of wireless technology to transmit the sound into your ears. The most common form is Bluetooth.

Wireless sound quality can be affected by factors such as distance and obstructions between your headphones and device, but also the codec software that your headphones support. Codecs are algorithms that encode and decode digital audio signals. Look out for headphones with low latency that support Qaulcomm’s aptX codecs, which are usually rated as the best codecs — particularly for streaming video content on your phone and ensuring the picture and audio stay in sync.

Are AirPods the best headphones for the iPhone?

Yes and no. AirPods are great — especially AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro Max (as you’ll see below) — but they’re also expensive compared to competitors.

They’re definitely a good one stop solution as they’re so convenient to set up with your iPhone and they fit the Apple aesthetic perfectly. However, if you’re keen to search around and spend a little longer setting things up, there are better options out there.

Should you buy the cheapest pair of headphones?

You can just spend a few pounds on the cheapest pair of headphones out there but this is no better than using the pair you’ve already got with your iPhone. If you regularly listen to music, it’s worth investing a little more in a pair as you’ll be surprised how much better the sound quality is. You can also benefit from extra features like noise cancellation.

What is noise cancellation?

Noise cancellation blocks out ambient noise, allowing you to fully immerse into your music, and is usually a mark of the best, most advanced headphones.

There are two kinds of noise cancellation — passive and active noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation is achieved by the design and build of the headphones, which will physically block out noise by having oversized ear cups that create a seal. Active noise cancellation (usually shortened to ANC) uses a system of small microphones that pick up incoming sounds and create anti-noise sound waves to cancel them out.

Also look out for advanced ANC modes such as transparency mode. This allows in a certain level of ambient noise, such as other voices — handy for listening out for train platform announcements or having conversations.

What are the best headphones for your iPhone?

Have a think about the main reasons that you want new headphones. Are you going to be using them while you travel a lot? At home listening to music? While exercising? We’ve looked at a number of different scenarios and figured out the best headphones or earphones for you and your needs. In short, we’ve done the hard work for you.

There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list. We’ve lined up a selection of impressive options, including popular headphones from top brands like Sony, Bose, and yes, Apple.

These are the best headphones for your iPhone in 2021.

Top 6 Psychological Insights That Boost Productivity At The Workplace

There are various things that an organization is concerned about in running the business successfully. And one of the most predominant ones is the productivity of the employees, because many other aspects are dependent on it.

This magnitude of productivity led to the companies coming up with different ways to measure the performance of the employees, and KPIs are one of the most common measurements used.

However, it is high time to rethink the implementation and measurement strategies using numbers. Firstly because each individual differs and setting the same kinds of standards for all doesn’t prove to be effective. This has led to the increasing concern of the organizations.

Is there a way to increase the productivity of the employees? Well, indeed there is, and let’s spend the next few minutes discovering it.

Have You Ever Thought Psychological Insights Could Help?

Let’s ask ourselves once again, have we ever given a thought that psychological insights could help employers in increasing the productivity of their employees? Well, whether we did or not, the fact is that certain psychological insights can tremendously contribute to employee’s productivity when implemented correctly.

Furthermore, it has recently been proven that apart from just the numerical, insights from behavior, economics, and psychology can also contribute to a more motivated and productive workforce.

If the traditional goal setting and KPIs aren’t giving the desired results, psychologically, it is possible to empower and engage the employees to be more productive. All that is needed is the willingness to change and renew our mindset for a better result. But “how?” is what pops up in every mind.

Here are 6 critical insights discussed to help the managers and entrepreneurs address concerns related to productivity. These simple efforts from the employer can reap plenty of desired fruits. Here they are:

Prioritize The Accomplishments Than Assignments

Gone are the days when the employees were determined only about monetary benefits, which is indeed a major psychological shift. A recent study undertaken with the employees revealed that 83% of them stated that recognition for their contribution was the most fulfilling reward.

Added to this, about 88% of them stated that they are extremely motivated when praised by the managers. The increased recognition is sure to satisfy the minds and hearts of the employees. Not just that, this satisfaction leads the employees to contribute more, and thus, it has also proven to increase the innovation and productivity of the employees by 53%.

recognitions impact on innovation and productivity
Via octanner.com

As an employer, one has to understand that there has been a huge shift in the employee’s thoughts and behaviors. Similar to the situation where recognition matters more than money, so are the concerned more about their accomplishments rather than just completing the given tasks or assignments.

Thus, there is an utmost need for employers too to shift their thoughts on what matters the most to the employees concerning productivity in the company. Refer to another statistic that shows about 37% of employees demanding recognition for contributing better.

what causes great work
Via octanner.com

Nurture And Promote Employee Engagement

Engagement is the most crucial aspect of being productive. And it is one of the most effective ways of addressing the employee’s productivity. You may wonder the reason behind this aspect to be discussed under the psychological category. But it is actually related to both the psychology of the employer and the employee, because it is all about the mindset of the people.

Employees who feel happy and engaged with the organization automatically feel responsible and willing to contribute their best. It is a part of psychology, which derives the action by default. And understanding this, the managers are expected to put in their best to create and maintain an engaged workforce.

gallup q12 survey 2012 reports
Via pt.slideshare.net

In the above statistics, we can observe the impact of the engaged workforce. And specifically, the engaged employees are capable of being 21% more productive. Another research also discovered that the engaged employees surpass their performance by 202% compared to the unengaged ones.

The statement – the emotional engagement that one has with the other makes a huge difference. And so is it to the employees. If the employee is emotionally connected to the organization, being productive is a default action. However, it is the responsibility of the employer to make this engagement possible in the organization.

Embrace Flexibility

Another psychological insight to embrace is flexibility. With the majority of the millennials we are working with, flexibility is a major demand. However, in general, about 77% of the employees say that flexibility is one of the major considerations that they look for while choosing a job. Again, refer to the statistics for the same.

flexible work arrangements
Via zenefits.com

The above statistics assure the major shift that has taken place among the new generation workforce. With the arrival of this newness, it is impossible to survive with just the traditional work practices.

Indirectly, the demand for flexibility has already posed an expectation on the employer to adapt to the newness; if not, it might be difficult to survive. Some of these demands expect employers to be flexible. The company’s rigidity can lead one to lose good talents.

Generally, an employer’s flexibility is expected in terms of remote working, embracing technology, telecommunication, co-working spaces, etc. Moreover, employers need to be aware that the company’s flexibility doesn’t just make the employees happy, but also contributes to the company’s success as well.

For instance, the sudden pandemic resulted in the majority of the workforce working remotely with no option left. While many agreed willingly, some didn’t. But, surprisingly, the outcome was unexpectedly positive as the companies witnessed an increase of about 13% in employee productivity.

Added to this, check out the below statistic that reveals about 78% of the employees defending that flexible working arrangements in their workplace have increased their productivity tremendously.

flexible work arrangements

Recommend Casual Breaks

Psychologically, it is proven that occasional breaks increase the productivity of the workforce. The capacity of the human brain is said to either reduce or become stable after a certain level of continuous work. In order to regain the capacity and strengthen the brain, breaks are necessary.

But, not many employers or employees understand the truth behind it, as they consider breaks as a waste of time. In contrast, breaks can definitely boost productivity. Refer to the image below.

why take breaks
Via brandongaille.com

Therefore, it is understood that occasional breaks improve in increasing the employee’s productivity. Moreover, apart from increasing productivity or stimulating creativity, periodic breaks also contribute to the increased accuracy of about 13% in the employee’s work. In case you are wondering what big difference the breaks could make, let me tell you that a study discovered that the brain needs rest after 52 minutes of continuous effort.

Furthermore, the study also concluded that seventeen minutes of break after fifty-two minutes of work would be the perfect strategy for increased productivity among the employees. Thus, although not all, many employers have already begun implementing the same insight.

Encourage Workplace DIY And Competition

The DIY, also known as the, Do It Yourself approach, is another effective psychological aspect of increasing productivity at the workplace. Wondering how? One of the most important workplace tactics is encouraging competitiveness.

To be specific, not just competition, but a healthy competition among the employees. Thus, as an entrepreneur, encourage the employees with the possible and achievable tasks depending on the capacity of the employees.

With the arrival of software and automation of tasks, employees are freed from dreadful and repetitive tasks. However, provide them opportunities to scrutinize and understand if there’s something that can be done by them or to be transferred to someone else.

This way, they are given a chance to be aware of their own limitations on which they can work upon rectifying. Moreover, this strategy helps in understanding where and where not to look for help. Thus, competitiveness is increased along with willpower and passion for succeeding.

While concentrating on their individual success, automatically, the productivity of the employees is improved, and obviously, businesses are benefited out of it. Thus, promoting healthy competition among the employees is yet another psychological insight helping the employees to be more productive.

Develop Openness Towards Employees’ Voice

Letting the employees be heard is another impeccable psychological insight that helps the companies. And yet, it is the most underrated strategy among businesses. Encouraging the employees to speak and listening to them is beneficial in many ways. But it is not complied with because of the positions and differences in the workplace.

When the organizations are willing to hear the opinions of the employees, it fills the latter with a sense of belongingness and value. This feeling will motivate the employees to put in their best efforts. Moreover, openness to the employees’ voices has multiple benefits, such as:

  • As an employer, you’ll have an opportunity to receive the best of opinions from those who have gained expertise in a particular task since they know certain things better.
  • As discussed, this opportunity puts forth a platform for the employees to be more engaged with the organization.
  • Engaged and happy employees feel a certain level of responsibility to make the organization happy too with the best contribution.

As a matter of fact, whether the management agrees to the suggestions made by the employees is secondary. But the impact of giving them a chance to speak is indeed tremendously beneficial. As the above image portrays, although each individual differs in many aspects, the result of the combined efforts or diversity can create and maintain a lasting impression in the organization.

Let’s Wrap Up

Psychology is primarily mind-oriented. When you are willing to renew your mind for the overall benefit as an employer, it is definitely possible to reap the most desired outcome, in our case, the increased productivity.

Change has always been a part of every individual’s life. Why not make the change much more meaningful by adapting to what can bring forth effectivity in an employee’s productivity? Therefore, let us begin to address the concern with the new mindset and right strategies to experience the overall betterment of the company.

The post Top 6 Psychological Insights That Boost Productivity At The Workplace appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

US blames China for Exchange server hacks and ransomware attacks

The Biden administration and its allies has formally accused China of the mass-hacking of Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year, which prompted the FBI to intervene as concerns rose that the hacks could lead to widespread destruction.

The mass-hacking campaign targeted Microsoft Exchange email servers with four previously undiscovered vulnerabilities that allowed the hackers — which Microsoft already attributed to a China-backed group of hackers called Hafnium — to steal email mailboxes and address books from tens of thousands of organizations around the United States.

Microsoft released patches to fix the vulnerabilities, but the patches did not remove any backdoor code left behind by the hackers that might be used again for easy access to a hacked server. That prompted the FBI to secure a first-of-its-kind court order to effectively hack into the remaining hundreds of U.S.-based Exchange servers to remove the backdoor code. Computer incident response teams in countries around the world responded similarly by trying to notify organizations in their countries that were also affected by the attack.

In a statement out Monday, the Biden administration said the attack, launched by hackers backed by China’s Ministry of State Security, resulted in “significant remediation costs for its mostly private sector victims.”

“We have raised our concerns about both this incident and the [People’s Republic of China’s] broader malicious cyber activity with senior PRC Government officials, making clear that the PRC’s actions threaten security, confidence, and stability in cyberspace,” the statement read.

The National Security Agency also released details of the attacks to help network defenders identify potential routes of compromise.

Several allies, including the U.K. and the members of NATO, also backed the Biden administration in its findings. In a statement, the U.K. government found Beijing responsible for a “pervasive pattern” of hacking. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied claims of state-backed or sponsored hacking.

The Biden administration also blamed China’s Ministry of State Security for contracting with criminal hackers to conduct unsanctioned operations, like ransomware attacks, “for their own personal profit.” The government said it was aware that China-backed hackers have demanded millions of dollars in ransom demands against hacked companies. Last year, the Justice Department charged two Chinese spies for their role in a global hacking campaign that saw prosecutors accuse the hackers of operating for personal gain.

Although the U.S. has publicly engaged the Kremlin to try to stop giving ransomware gangs safe harbor from operating from within Russia’s borders, the U.S. has not previously accused Beijing of launching or being involved with ransomware attacks.

“The PRC’s unwillingness to address criminal activity by contract hackers harms governments, businesses, and critical infrastructure operators through billions of dollars in lost intellectual property, proprietary information, ransom payments, and mitigation efforts,” said Monday’s statement.

The statement also said that the China-backed hackers engaged in extortion and cryptojacking, a way of forcing a computer to run code that uses its computing resources to mine cryptocurrency, for financial gain.

The Justice Department also announced fresh charges against four China-backed hackers working for the Ministry of State Security, which U.S. prosecutors said were engaged in efforts to steal intellectual property and infectious disease research into Ebola, HIV and AIDS, and MERS against victims based in the U.S., Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom by using a front company to hide their operations.

“The breadth and duration of China’s hacking campaigns, including these efforts targeting a dozen countries across sectors ranging from healthcare and biomedical research to aviation and defense, remind us that no country or industry is safe. Today’s international condemnation shows that the world wants fair rules, where countries invest in innovation, not theft,” said deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco.

How one founder pivoted a startup designed for in-person interaction in light of the pandemic

When Ashley Sumner designed and launched Quilt, it was meant to be a response to digital social networking, preferring creating authentic in-person interactions between people who didn’t necessarily know each other before. The app would match members for in-person conversations and informal meetups in their own homes — but when COVID-19 arrived, the fundamentals of the model obviously changed.

After first trying out Zoom-powered virtual video meetups as one alternative, Quilt instead settled on creating an audio platform that provided real-time conversation centered around wellness. It might sound like it has a lot in common with the rash of other audio networking startups out there, but unlike the buzzier Clubhouse or its many competitors, Quilt has carefully crafted a very different kind of community thanks to patience and building with intention.

Ashley talks to us this week on Found about making that big change, while also keeping intact the core mission that Quilt has been focused on from the beginning. She also tells us all about her own approach to being a founder and a leader, which is both unique and refreshing.

We loved our time chatting with Ashley, and we hope you love yours listening to the episode. And of course, we’d love if you can subscribe to Found in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, on Google Podcasts or in your podcast app of choice. Please leave us a review and let us know what you think, or send us direct feedback either on Twitter or via email at found@techcrunch.com. And please join us again next week for our next featured founder.

How to connect AirPods to Apple TV

Connect your AirPods to your Apple TV, and rewatch *those* scenes in 'Bridgerton' without everyone in the house knowing. (Unless they can see the screen.)

No matter how fancy your home theater setup may be, one day you’ll probably find yourself in need of an audio experience that’s a little bit more… intimate. Maybe you need to catch up on a few episodes of your favorite show or smash out some YouTube yoga without disturbing the other people you live with; maybe the people you live with are disturbing you, and you just want to watch your stories without having to blast it over the sound of violin practice or hammering on the other side of the wall.

If you have an Apple TV and a pair of AirPods, you’re in luck: they’re no exception to Apple’s philosophy of (usually) seamless cross-device connection, and it’s super easy to pair your AirPods to an Apple TV for private listening.

And if your AirPods are of the Pro persuasion (and your Apple TV is the 4K model), you’ll also benefit from not only their active noise cancelling, but also from Apple’s immersive Spatial Audio feature when you’re watching movies and TV — not just when you’re listening to music.

One handy thing to know is that if your Apple TV is associated with the same Apple ID as your AirPods, they should connect automatically. But in case that’s not happening for you, or if the Apple TV in your setup is linked to someone else’s account, here’s how to pair your AirPods with your Apple TV.

Step 1: Pop your AirPods in their case

As with any AirPods pairing, start by putting your AirPods in their case if they aren’t already there, and double check that they’re not currently paired to any of your other devices.

Step 2: Open Settings on your Apple TV

Using your Apple Remote (or your iPhone if you’re like me and constantly lose the Remote), find that familiar silver gears icon in the app picker on your Apple TV’s home screen and click it.

Step 3: Scroll down to Remotes and Devices in the Settings list

Click or tap through, and then find the Bluetooth option in the section marked Other Devices — it should be just under the Remote settings.

In there, you’ll be able to see any in-range AirPods already linked to the Apple TV under My Devices (they’ll probably say “Not Connected”), and a section below that says Other Devices.

Step 4: Pair your AirPods

Flip up the lid of your case and/or put your AirPods in your ears, and then press the button (the only button!) on the back of the case until the light on the front starts blinking white.

Within a few moments, your AirPods should appear in the Other Devices section. Select them with the Remote, and they should move into the My Devices section, with their status now marked as “Connected.” Pop them into your ears if you haven’t already, and you should hear the familiar soothing chime that says it’s all gone to plan.

If you select your AirPods in that menu, you’ll be taken to a menu where you can disconnect them from the Apple TV when you’re done, or unpair them completely from that Apple TV and all other devices linked to the owner’s Apple ID. If you select the latter, you’ll need to go through the steps above again to re-pair.

Connecting Apple TV to previously paired AirPods

Once you’ve done the above, the Apple TV should remember your AirPods for next time.

In future, to switch the audio to your previously-paired AirPods, you can follow the steps above up to the beginning of Step 4, where you should find your AirPods already in the My Devices list and can connect from there.

You can also go on an adventure with this very similar — but slightly different! — way of linking Apple TV directly into your AirPods:

Step 1: Go to Settings and select ‘Video and Audio’

Scroll down to the Video and Audio settings and click through.

Step 2: Select Audio Output

The Audio Output settings should be at the top of the Audio menu section here. The default will probably be set to TV Speakers, or whatever gear you normally play sound through to watch TV.

In this menu, swipe down to the section labelled “Temporary audio output” and click/tap to Select.

If you have other WiFi connected speakers in your house, they should appear here under Speakers, including the TV Speakers default option. Above that will be the Headphones list, where you might be able to see other AirPods linked to the Apple TV you’re using, if they’re in range. (Don’t tap that one unless you want to interrupt your roommate’s Zoom meeting/meditation session.)

Step 3: Flip open your AirPods case.

Opening the case lid should trigger your AirPods to appear in the list of available devices — select them with your Remote and pop them into your ears, where they should make the good-to-go noise. A handy volume bar will also appear so you can check yourself before you wreck yourself with the HBO static noise at deafening levels.

Then, hit back on your remote to head to the app picker home screen, and binge away on delicious content only you can hear.

If your AirPods still aren’t connecting to your device, you can try resetting them — here’s how. And if that doesn’t work, it might be time to catch up with your friends at Apple Support or the Genius Bar.

India’s GlobalBees raises $150 million to build Thrasio-like house of brands

The universe of Indian firms attempting to replicate Thrasio’s success in the world’s second largest internet market just got bigger. Three-month-old GlobalBees said on Monday it has raised $150 million in a Series A financing round led by FirstCry.

Lightspeed Venture Partners also invested in the new financing round, which is $75 million in equity and $75 million in debt. Even with a $75 million equity raise, Monday’s announcement makes GlobalBees’ round the largest Series A funding in India.

Founded by Nitin Agarwal, formerly of Edelweiss Financial, and Supam Maheshwari, a founder of FirstCry, GlobalBees acquires and partners with digitally native brands across categories such as beauty, personal care, home and kitchen, food and nutrition, and sports and lifestyle with a revenue rate of $1 million to $20 million.

New Delhi-based startup then helps these firms scale and sell to marketplaces (such as Amazon and Flipkart) and through other channels in India and outside the South Asian market, Agarwal told TechCrunch in an interview. He said GlobalBees has already acquired or partnered with over a dozen brands and they are selling both in India and outside of the country.

“At FirstCry, we created a lot of brands and realized that most of these brands reach a scale after which it becomes too difficult to scale them,” he said. “Supam and I have been talking about this for several years, trying to find ways to disrupt this market. We think there’s an opportunity to create a new house of brands that is digital native.”

Agarwal said GlobalBees will attempt to build a distribution and enterprise ecosystem in the online space similar to how traditional firms have established those connections in the offline world. (Not all brands GlobalBees engages with will get acquired on day one, Agarwal said. Typically, some brands get acquired in a span of three years or so, he said.)

“The time it takes for D2C brands to go from 0 – 100Cr (about $13 million) in revenue has more than halved over the past few years,” said Harsha Kumar, Partner at Lightspeed Venture, in a statement.

“We believe that this creates a unique opportunity to create a brand house much faster as well. With their past entrepreneurial stints together and their experience in building one of the largest ecommerce platforms in India, the duo of Supam and Nitin is the perfect team to go after this idea. Lightspeed is thrilled to be part of this journey!” said Kumar, who is joining the board of GlobalBees.

Scores of startups in India today are trying to replicate what is popularly known as the Thrasio-model. Mensa Brands, a similar venture by former fashion e-commerce Myntra chief executive, recently raised $50 million in equity and debt. 10club, another similar startup, recently raised $40 million — though much of it is in debt. TechCrunch reported last month that UpScale, another prominent player in this space, is in advanced talks with Germany’s Razor Group to raise capital.

Like Thrasio, several of these firms are trying to acquire brands that sell midrange to high-end products in categories where competition is limited. In fact, some of the categories that are common among these brands are so underappreciated that even Amazon and other e-commerce firms have not explored them through their private label ecosystems.

GlobalBees’ Agarwal agreed with this assessment, though he added that not all brands are operating in niche categories.

New York-headquartered Thrasio, which has raised over $1.3 billion in equity and debt since December last year, had acquired or otherwise consolidated about 6,000 third-party sellers on Amazon as of earlier this year.

“India is at the cusp of a D2C revolution with an estimated market size of $200 billion in the next 5 years. Indian brands have shown great promise in the recent years, and we believe that GlobalBees is building great assets to accelerate the growth of digitally native brands in the country,” said Vikas Agnihotri, Operating Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement.

Agnihotri, alongside Atul Gupta of Premji Invest, Sudhir Sethi of Chiratae Ventures and Kshitij Sheth of Chrys Capital are also joining GlobalBees’ board.

Nigerian investment platform Chaka secures $1.5M pre-seed after bagging country’s first SEC license

When Robinhood raised its $3 million seed round in 2013, it was a couple of months old with huge ambitions of democratizing securities access to the underserved and unserved. Robinhood has since taken the world by storm and grown to serve more than 30 million users with its zero-commission trading

In the past, we’ve seen such growth trickle down to other regions across the world, inspiring similar businesses. Robinhood is no exception. Several platforms have sprung forth to bring stock trading opportunities in their respective markets. In Nigeria, at least four platforms offer both local and foreign stocks to individuals. Chaka is one such platform. Today, it is announcing the close of its $1.5 million pre-seed round to power digital investments for individuals and businesses.

The pre-seed round was led by Breyer Capital, while 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures participated. It’s the second joint deal for 4DX Ventures and Breyer Capital in the space of two weeks, the first in Egyptian social e-commerce platform Taager.

It is a well-known fact that even before Robinhood, the average American actively participated in stock trading. According to a survey by Gallup, about 60% of Americans owned some form of stock in 2000; that number was down to 55% in 2020. This was partly due to the global financial crisis that occurred in 2008.

The crash also affected the Nigerian capital market and because Nigerians lost a lot of money during that period, stock trading is mostly frowned upon by most of the public. Yet for the average Nigerian interested, participating in trading local stocks is hard; and practically impossible for foreign ones.

Tosin Osibodu, while in the U.S., recognised this problem and came back to Nigeria to start Chaka officially launching the company in 2019. According to Osibodu, Chaka wanted to create opportunities for Nigerians to invest in foreign assets and at the same time allow foreigners to invest in Nigerian assets.

“If there’s more demand in the market, over time, we expect there’ll be more supply. If you fast forward over a long period of time, we expect that our local capital markets will continue to grow,” he said to TechCrunch in an interview. “We will provide borderless digital access to multiple solutions, and so it’s not just about Nigerians investing in the market, it’s about making the markets accessible for people locally and globally.”

For the most part, Chaka has executed on one front. The platform Nigerians access to more than 10,000 stocks and ETFs trading on local and foreign capital markets. The CEO maintains that the platform has levelled entry barriers for borderless investments in Nigeria by providing customers with compliant access to the capital market.

“The thing about markets is that they have demand and supply with barriers to entry. We’re committed to lowering those barriers in local markets and by lowering barriers to investing for retail, more people will come to the market. In fact, more people came into the Nigerian stock market through us last year than any other broker. It’s like a demand-supply flywheel,” the CEO added.

Chaka’s local assets are registered with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) and regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission of Nigeria (SEC). Dollar assets, on the other hand, are regulated by the US FINRA and the US SEC.

In April this year, digital investment platforms were caught in crosshairs with Nigeria’s SEC. The regulator declared their activities illegal and warned capital market operators working with them to renege on providing brokerage services for foreign securities. Unlike Robinhood which offers online brokerages, Nigerian investment platforms do not. Chaka, for instance, partners with Citi Investment Capital in Nigeria and DriveWealth LLC in the U.S. to issue stocks and securities.

According to Nigeria’s SEC, the bottom line was to bring the activities of these platforms under its purview as part of its efforts to safeguard the investing public. Although Osibodu claims Chaka had always engaged the SEC since the company was formed in 2019, it did not seem that way last December when the regulator singled out the two-year-old company for “selling and advertising stocks.”

The event set the precedence for the regulator’s all-out attack on other digital investment platforms, giving Chaka enough time to engage and conclude talks in about half a year. And last month, Chaka acquired the first fintech license issued by the SEC, making it the only investment platform operating as a digital sub-broker.

“When we launched, we kept SEC in the loop. But now, over the last six months, we’ve engaged with them, showed them our business models, the benefits, the markets. Now we’re proud to have SEC’s first fintech license. We believe that the most important thing is that the market has clarity and understands the regulations required to be registered. And we’re thrilled to have broken new ground and cleared up what it takes to be able to offer services in the market,” he said.

With the new license, the company can swiftly focus on what lies ahead. Osibodu says the license expands the scope of what Chaka can achieve. He asserts that Chaka can power multiple brokers and provide access to different digital investment offerings in addition to being a digital sub-broker.

Chaka

Image Credits: Chaka

Asides from Chaka’s traditional stock trading app for retail investors, it also offers Chaka SDK which allows asset managers and financial institutions to offer digital investments and Chaka for Business for direct business onboarding and trading tools for institutional investors.

Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital, commenting on the investment said, “We are proud to combine efforts with a company that is levelling the investment playing field for Nigerians [and Africans at large]. We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Chaka’s team on their mission to drive borderless investments in Africa.” 

Osibodu says the company will use its pre-seed investment to expand footprints to Ghana and other West African markets. Improving its technology and services and securing partnerships with major financial institutions, including apex ones, is also a priority.

“As we advance, I think something that we’re just very focused on is how do we continually reduce access barriers, and we are proud of the initiatives that we’ve brought and are to come. Watch this space for more partnerships, even with apex institutions in our markets as well.”

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Blackstone acquires majority stake in Simplilearn for $250 million

Blackstone is acquiring a majority stake in Bangalore and San Francisco-headquartered edtech startup Simplilearn for $250 million.

Simplilearn operates an eponymous online bootcamp to help people learn data science, AI, machine learning, cloud computing and other skills that are in demand in the market.

The startup has partnerships with several universities and colleges including IIT Kanpur, Caltech, and Purdue University and students enrolling and completing these courses get a certificate from these institutes.

The 11-year-old startup, which runs 1,000 live classes each month, says it has helped over 2 million professionals and 2,000 companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon across 150 countries.

The startup, which was last valued at $80 million in its 2016 Series C funding round, counts Brand Capital, Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners, and Mayfield among its early backers. It had raised about $34.4 million prior to today’s deal, according to insight platform Tracxn.

Kalaari Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund have taken exit as part of the new transaction but the leadership team of Simplilearn haven’t sold their stakes, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“The pandemic has only accelerated the need for digital skills and the industry has demonstrated absolute readiness for upskilling online. Hence, this is the most opportune time to take the next big leap in our journey to build the world’s largest digital skilling company,” said Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive of Simplilearn, in a statement.

“We believe Blackstone can add significant value to our company because of their scale, commitment to building businesses, and global network, which will enable us to develop partnerships with businesses and universities as Simplilearn continues to expand around the world.”

The acquisition comes months after Blackstone-backed Aakash Education Services, which runs coaching centres across the country, was acquired by Byju’s — India’s most valuable startup — for nearly $1 billion. Blackstone has since also made an investment in Byju’s.

“This is Blackstone’s first private equity investment in Asia in a consumer technology company. […] We are excited to partner with Krishna Kumar and Simplilearn’s top-notch management team to accelerate growth and build the world’s pre-eminent digital learning company, and we expect this to be the first of many such investments in Asia,” said Amit Dixit, head of Asia for Blackstone, in a statement.

Lenskart valued at $2.5 billion following $220 million investment from Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital

Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital have led a $220 million investment in Indian omni-channel eyewear retailer Lenskart, valuing the Bangalore-based startup at $2.5 billion.

The new investment, which includes primary and secondary transactions, is part of a new round Lenskart unveiled a month ago when it raised $95 million from global investment fund KKR. Bay Capital and Chiratae also participated in the new round.

Peyush Bansal, founder and chief executive of Lenskart, said the profitable startup — which sells eyeglasses and contact lenses online and through about 750 physical retail outlets across the country — has seen a surge in sales of eyewear products in the pandemic year.

The startup, which counts SoftBank among its investors, sold about 8 million pairs of eyewear last year.

Now the firm, which claims to lead the market in India, plans to scale its operations in Southeast Asia and Middle East. The combined market opportunity for eyewear in these regions will be about $15 billion by 2025, the startup said, citing its own projections.

“We’re already the largest eyewear player in India and in the top 3 in Singapore. Lenskart envisions to have 50% of India wearing its specs over the next 5 years and become the #1 eyewear platform in Southeast Asia and Middle East over the next 18 to 24 months through organic and inorganic expansion,” he said.

According to industry estimates, more than half a billion people in India are affected by poor vision and need eyeglasses, but only 170 million of them have opted to get their vision corrected.

The firm also plans to deploy some capital to broaden its technology stack to create a more personalized experience for its customers. The startup, which recently launched ‘Lenskart Vision Fund,’ said it is also looking to invest in other younger firms that are operating in eyewear, eyecare and omnichannel retail spaces.

“We are thrilled to join Peyush and his team in this journey and look forward to working closely with Lenskart’s team in helping them scale their business internationally, especially in the MENA region” said Navroz Udwadia, co-founder and partner at Falcon Edge Capital, in a statement.

The new investment comes at a time when Indian startups are raising record capital and a handful of mature firms are beginning to explore the public markets. Zomato raised $1.3 billion last week in the South Asian market’s first consumer tech IPO in a decade.

Paytm, the pioneer digital payments startup, as well as its rival Mobikwik also filed for IPOs last week.

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