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Does SoftBank have 20 more DoorDashes?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. This week felt oddly comforting from a tech news perspective: Facebook is copying something, early-stage startup data is flawed enough to talk about and sweet DoorDash is buying robots for undisclosed sums.

So, here’s a rundown of the tech news we got into (as always, jokes aren’t previewed so you’ll have to listen to the actual show to get our critique and Award Winning Analysis*):

In good news, long-time Equity producer Chris Gates is back starting next week, which means we’ll have our biggest crew ever helping get the show put together. And, in other good news, there’s going to be more Equity than ever for you to hear. Coming soon.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

*OK, so not award-winning yet. But soon enough, because manifestation works.

Reddit acquires Dubsmash, the TikTok competitor that’s older than TikTok

Reddit acquires Dubsmash, the TikTok competitor that's older than TikTok

Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, the lipsyncing video app which launched in 2014 and was largely supplanted when TikTok showed up. 

Announced via Reddit’s blog on Sunday, the annexing of Dubsmash’s 12-person team to Reddit’s 700-strong horde is the popular website’s first major acquisition in its 15-year history.

While the financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Dubsmash will be keeping its own platform and separate branding. Dubsmash’s Android and Apple apps will continue to operate as normal, with its video creation tools simply integrated into Reddit’s infrastructure. 

Reddit currently allows users to upload and livestream videos, however its editing capabilities are somewhat lacklustre — a problem this acquisition hopes to address. Read more…

More about Reddit, Dubsmash, Tech, and Big Tech Companies

Reddit acquires Dubsmash

Reddit announced that it has acquired short video platform Dubsmash. The deal’s terms were undisclosed. Dubsmash will retain its own platform and brand, and Reddit will integrate its video creation tools. Its co-founders, Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel and Tim Specht, will join Reddit.

According to Crunchbase data, the app has raised $20.2 million from investors including Lowercase Capital, Index Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Heartcore Capital and Sunstone Life.

Dubsmash is now one of TikTok’s biggest rivals, but struggled for several years after a brief stint of popularity in 2015 during its first incarnation as a lip-sync video app. In 2017 it began transforming itself into a social platform and moved its headquarters from Berlin to Brooklyn. By the beginning of this year, Dubsmash’s share of the United States’ short-form video market was second only to TikTok when counted by app installs, and it reportedly held acquisition talks with Facebook and Snap.

Credit for much of Dubsmash’s success goes to Black and Latinx users. While many of TikTok’s highest-profile stars are white, Dubsmash is known for its large communities of Black and Latinx content creators. The polarization between the two apps began to gain more attention earlier this year, when the New York Times published a piece about how dance moves by Black Dubsmash stars are frequently appropriated without credit by TikTok influencers, which means their creators miss out on opportunities like larger followings, brand deals and industry connections.

Reddit has its own issues with racism, and has been criticized for not doing enough to stop hate speech or giving moderators of subreddits targeted by racist trolls enough support.

Last year, founder and former chief executive officer Alexis Ohanian called for his position on Reddit’s board to be filled with a Black candidate when he stepped down, which current CEO Steve Huffman said the company would honor as part of a larger effort to address hate speech on the platform announced during anti-racism demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer. Ohanian’s position was filled by Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.

In its announcement today, Reddit linked its acquisition of Dubsmash to its inclusion efforts, acknowledging that the app’s “communities are driven by young, diverse creators—about 25 percent of all Black teens in the U.S. are on Dubsmash, and females represent 70 percent of users.”

It also said the integration of Dubsmash’s video creation tools will enable Reddit’s users to “express themselves in original and authentic ways that are endemic to our communities.”

Since launching native videos in 2017, Reddit said usage has increased sharply, growing 2X in 2020 alone. Much of Reddit’s content is still text-based, however, with video, gifs and images often shared from other sources, so Dubsmash’s integration can help Reddit build out its own video platform.

Reddit bests Facebook by rolling out a superior deepfakes policy

Reddit bests Facebook by rolling out a superior deepfakes policy

Reddit and Facebook are two very different social media platforms. As true as that may be, however, it’s difficult not to conclude “shots fired” with the timing of the former’s newest policy.

On Thursday, the popular social news site unveiled a brand new policy meant to curb impersonation and maliciously deceptive media on the platform. 

The new Reddit policy reads as follows:

Basically, Reddit is quashing lies and disinformation on the site. Users cannot try to legitimately pass off as another individual or entity. For example, a user cannot register the username of a celebrity and truly pretend to be that celebrity on the site. While that’s the most weaponized scenario, Reddit is also specific in pointing out forgery and fake articles, and links are covered under this policy too.  Read more…

More about Facebook, Reddit, Misinformation, Impersonation, and Deepfakes

A.Capital Partners, founded by Ronny Conway, targets $140 million for its third fund

Silicon Valley investor Ronny Conway is raising his third early-stage venture fund, shows a new SEC filing that states the fund’s target is $140 million and that the first sale has yet to occur.

The now six-year-old firm, A.Capital, focuses on both consumer and enterprise tech, and has offices in Menlo Park and San Francisco.

Among the many brand-name companies in its portfolio are Coinbase, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Reddit. (You can find its other investments here.)

Conway led the seed-stage program of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) for roughly four years in its earliest days and left in 2013 to raise his debut fund, which closed with $51 million in capital commitments. He also raised two, smaller parallel funds at the time.

According to SEC filings, he sought out $140 million for his second fund, though he never announced its close.

A.Capital is today run by Conway, along with General Partner Ramu Arunachalam (also formerly of a16z) and Kartik Talwar, who worked previously with Conway’s brother Topher, and his famed father, Ron, at their separate venture firm, SV Angel.

Conway maintains a far lower profile than his father, who throughout his venture career has nurtured relationships not only with founders but with tech reporters and local politicians.

Though now ancient history in Silicon Valley years, Ronny Conway has been credited with introducing a16z to Instagram when it was a nascent mobile photo-sharing app.

Conway, a former Googler, met Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom in the several years when Systrom, too, worked for the search giant, beginning in 2006. It turned out to be a highly worthwhile introduction to a16z, though it could have been even lucrative. Though the firm made a seed-stage bet on Instagram, it didn’t follow up with another check because of a separate investment in a competing startup that would eventually flounder (PicPlz).

It was a sensitive issue at the time for a16z, with some noting its missed opportunity. In fact, firm cofounder Ben Horowitz felt compelled to write in a blog post that when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, a16z did just fine, wringing $78 million from its $250,000 seed investment in the startup.

Reddit waits until it’s too late to ban violence-glorifying subreddits

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Another day, another internet giant belatedly deciding to apply its own policies in the face of a tragedy. 

Following the tragic Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand that left 49 people dead and scores more injured, and the subsequent sharing online of a livestream from the killer, Reddit has banned two subreddits that it now says glorified or celebrated violence. 

The first, r/watchpeopledie, was pretty much exactly what it sounds like — a place where people shared and commented on grisly videos of real deaths. The second, r/gore, was less specific in its death requirements but also contained violent video and images.  Read more…

More about Reddit, Tech, and Big Tech Companies

Reddit rolls out its first redesign in more than a decade

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Reddit’s design has stayed mostly the same since it launched more than a decade ago, and that’s the way many of its users like it.

But starting from Monday, the news aggregator will slowly roll out a redesign to a small percentage of users, Reddit’s administrators announced in a post.

The refresh will apply to the desktop version of the site, and in coming weeks users will be able to opt-in to the new version of Reddit. 

Reddit's new card view.

Reddit’s new card view.

Image: reddit

As WIRED notes, the redesign has been in the works for the past year-and-a-half. Reddit’s co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman noted in an “Ask Me Anything” last year that the site’s information-dense setup was often confronting to new users, hence the need for a redesign. Read more…

More about Reddit, Design, Culture, Tech, and Web Culture

Reddit found this dude’s stolen car in a matter of hours

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Getting your car stolen is one of the worst things, but finding it can be MUCH easier than it was a decade ago.

Over Thanksgiving week, Sebastiaan de With, a freelance designer and photographer, got his Land Rover Defender stolen in the San Francisco Bay Area, after just having purchased it a little over a year ago.

Desperate to find any help in locating his car, de With decided to post about it on Twitter and Reddit, asking people to contact him if they happen to see it.

“I thought it’d be pointless to post it, but on the other hand, I really wanted to find my car,” de With told the SF Gate. “They’re extremely hard cars to find in the U.S., and I was waiting on an appraiser to come around to get full coverage, full-value insurance. So it being gone meant I had absolutely nothing, not even a claim payout.” Read more…

More about Twitter, Reddit, San Francisco, Social Media, and Car

Crunch Report | Benchmark vs Kalanick Goes Sour

Reddit is rolling out its own video platform, VR adtech company Immersv raises $10.5 million and Benchmark versus Kalanick goes sour. All this on Crunch Report Read More

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The 'Things I did on Ambien' subreddit is a wild ride of sleepy trips and Snapchat funtimes

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Ambien: Well-known drug of choice for those with sleepytime problems. It works! But it can also make you trip balls. 

Enter the subreddit r/ambien, where Redditors using the sleep aid tell the wild tales of things they did under the influence of the drug. At the top of the sub, a sticky post from eight months ago sets the perfect tone for the forum.

The comments range from genuine advice to others sharing their own horror stories. 

“I’d go for ‘Sorry, i reacted badly to my sleeping medication’ rather than ‘Sorry, I’m on ambien’. Sounds less like you’re a druggy IMO,” one user wrote. Read more…

More about Drugs, Ambien, Funny, Reddit, and Watercooler

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The 'Things I did on Ambien' subreddit is a wild ride of sleepy trips and Snapchat funtimes

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Ambien: Well-known drug of choice for those with sleepytime problems. It works! But it can also make you trip balls. 

Enter the subreddit r/ambien, where Redditors using the sleep aid tell the wild tales of things they did under the influence of the drug. At the top of the sub, a sticky post from eight months ago sets the perfect tone for the forum.

The comments range from genuine advice to others sharing their own horror stories. 

“I’d go for ‘Sorry, i reacted badly to my sleeping medication’ rather than ‘Sorry, I’m on ambien’. Sounds less like you’re a druggy IMO,” one user wrote. Read more…

More about Drugs, Ambien, Funny, Reddit, and Watercooler

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The 'Things I did on Ambien' subreddit is a wild ride of sleepy trips and Snapchat funtimes

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Ambien: Well-known drug of choice for those with sleepytime problems. It works! But it can also make you trip balls. 

Enter the subreddit r/ambien, where Redditors using the sleep aid tell the wild tales of things they did under the influence of the drug. At the top of the sub, a sticky post from eight months ago sets the perfect tone for the forum.

The comments range from genuine advice to others sharing their own horror stories. 

“I’d go for ‘Sorry, i reacted badly to my sleeping medication’ rather than ‘Sorry, I’m on ambien’. Sounds less like you’re a druggy IMO,” one user wrote. Read more…

More about Drugs, Ambien, Funny, Reddit, and Watercooler

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This Redditor's bizarre story about England is trolling at its very finest

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LONDON — As far as social media platforms go, Reddit tends to be one of the harder ones to trick.

Normally if a photo is old or a statement is untrue, some internet sleuth will quickly dig into it and put the record straight.

On Monday night, however, Jeff Stelling put that theory to the test with a strange story he shared in the r/unitedkingdom subreddit.

  • Easy Listening – Yacht Rock
  • Alternative – 1990’s
  • Supertramp – Best of
  • Midland – On The Rocks