Author: Danny Crichton

As Chinese censorship intensifies, gays are back while teenage mothers and tattoos are out

TECHCRUNCH Following the passage of a new cybersecurity law and the removal of term limits from Chinese president Xi Jinping, China’s government is conducting a comprehensive crackdown on online discussions and content, with few companies spared the rod by the central government. Among the casualties has been Bytedance, the extremely high-flying $20 billion media unicorn startup which was forced to publicly apologize for content that degraded the character of the nation. The government forced the company to shut down its popular Neihan Duanzi comedy app, as well as to remove its headline news app, Jinri Toutiao, for three weeks....

Read More

Austin is piloting blockchain to improve homeless services

TECHCRUNCH While the vagaries of the cryptocurrency markets are keeping crypto traders glued to their CoinDesk graphs, the real potential of blockchain is its capability to solve real human challenges in a decentralized, private, and secure way. Government officials have increasingly investigated how blockchain might solve critical problems, but now one city intends to move forward with an actual implementation. The city of Austin is piloting a new blockchain platform to improve identity services for its homeless population, as part of a competitive grant awarded by the Mayor’s Challenge program sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Austin was one of 35...

Read More

Element wants to give identity to the whole world, raising $12M Series A

TECHCRUNCH Who are you? That’s both an existential question, and also a very practical administrative concern. Today, identity is often exchanged through the use of government ID cards and official paperwork, but what happens when someone loses that paperwork or it is destroyed? Or, as is often the case in many countries around the world, a citizen never received the paperwork to begin with? Element wants to completely change the way banks, hospitals, and other service providers work with their customers by providing a platform for decentralized biometric identity. The company’s software runs on any mobile device, and using...

Read More

New research shows successful founders are far older than the Valley stereotype

TECHCRUNCH There is a classic stereotype of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur: often a computer science nerd, almost certainly male, ambitious, and most importantly, young — very young. Founders who have been covered extensively by the media, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, started their companies still glimpsing their teenage years, and that reputation has spread widely across the industry. Now, a group of economics researchers have conduced a comprehensive investigation of the starting age of founders of high-growth startups, and found that stereotype just doesn’t match the data. In a new National Bureau of Economic Research working...

Read More

Department of Energy hosts competition to train cyber defense warriors

TECHCRUNCH From leaked passwords to identity theft, cybersecurity issues are constantly in the news. Few issues though are as important — or as under-reported by the media — as the security of America’s industrial control infrastructure. Oil rigs, power plants, water treatment facilities and other critical infrastructure are increasingly connecting to the internet, but often without the kinds of foolproof security systems in place to ensure bad actors can’t gain access or disrupt service delivery. This is a growing area of the economy with a wealth of jobs, but few students even realize that industrial and infrastructure cybersecurity is...

Read More

Congress should demand Zuckerberg move to “one share, one vote”

TECHCRUNCH Mark Zuckerberg is an autocrat, and not hypothetically. Through his special voting rights held in FB’s Class B shares, he wields absolute command of the company, while owning just a handful of percentage points of the company’s equity. Like any autocrat, he has taken extraordinary measures to maintain control over his realm. He produced a plan exactly two years ago that would have zeroed out the voting rights for everyday shareholders with a new voteless Class C share, only to pull back at the last minute as a Delaware court case was set to begin. He has received the irrevocable proxies of many Facebook insiders, allowing him to control their votes indefinitely. Plus, any Class B shares that are sold are converted to Class A shares, allowing him to continue to consolidate power as people leave. And now, borrowing a page straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, he has even tried to retract and disappear his own messages to others on his platform (which has now been retracted itself after it became public). While Congress is right to focus on Cambridge Analytica, and electoral malfeasance, and political ads, and a whole crop of other controversies surrounding Facebook, it should instead direct its attention to the single solution that would begin to solve all of this: dissolve Facebook’s dual-class share structure and thereby democratize its ownership. Just as congressmen...

Read More

RSS is undead

TECHCRUNCH RSS died. Whether you blame Feedburner, or Google Reader, or Digg Reader last month, or any number of other product failures over the years, the humble protocol has managed to keep on trudging along despite all evidence that it is dead, dead, dead. Now, with Facebook’s scandal over Cambridge Analytica, there is a whole new wave of commentators calling for RSS to be resuscitated. Brian Barrett at Wired said a week ago that “… anyone weary of black-box algorithms controlling what you see online at least has a respite, one that’s been there all along but has often...

Read More

Can SaaS principles transform political campaigns as we know them?

TECHCRUNCH In life, they say you get what you pay for. That is no less true in politics, which is fueled by campaign donations and lobbying dollars that move policy on every important issue under the sun. The disclosed expenditures of the DC lobbying industry are more than $3 billion per year, while just the presidential political campaigns spent more than $1.5 billion in 2016. Despite the key role that money plays in American politics, almost no one actually donates to a political campaign. According to the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, just 0.68% of American adults donated more than...

Read More

Right Now in Politics