Author: Jordan Crook

Introducing the Startup Spotlight at TC Disrupt NY

TechCrunch Disrupt NY is around the corner, and with it we’re introducing a brand new content type for the main stage. You’re probably familiar with our fireside chats — last year we spoke one-on-one with USV’s Fred Wilson, Uber’s David Plouffe, Facebook’s Stan Chudnovsky, Soledad O’Brien, Carmelo Anthony and Jessica Alba. We also host panels, like Disrupt NY 2016’s panel on startup studios with John Borthwick, Heather Hartnett and Naveen Selvadurai, or our dating panel with Dawoon Kang, Whitney Wolfe, and Robyn Exton. And then, of course, there’s the Startup Battlefield, where brand new companies launch brand new products...

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Tinder Online is a new web version of the dating app

Tinder is today introducing a new way for users to access the platform with the launch of Tinder Online, a web-optimized version of the dating app so people can Tinder at their desktops. Tinder Online still requires that you sign on to your account through Facebook, and it doesn’t include any of Tinder’s revenue features like Tinder Boost or Super Like, for now. Head of Product at Tinder, Brian Norgard, says that Tinder Online is meant to serve users in emerging markets who don’t have enough storage on their phone (the app is 128MB on iOS) or a big enough data plan for Tinder’s image-heavy feed. It’s also meant to offer Tinder power users the option to do their swiping and messaging on desktop, which is far easier on the thumbs than a mobile app. And, according to the blog post, Tinder Online is meant to serve users who are tied up at their computer, either in class or at work, and want to switch between Tinder tabs and actual productivity. Introducing Tinder Online: a fun, new web experience and your English professor’s worst nightmare. Mobile phones not allowed in class? Just fire up your laptop and swipe incognito. Cubicle life got you down? Now you can toggle between spreadsheets and Super Likes in a flash. “Not Enough Storage?” Not a problem. Don’t let life get in the way...

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Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are waging war over the hotel room

As the hotel industry wages war against Airbnb, companies making voice-powered assistants are also heading to battle in the hotel room itself. Bloomberg reports that Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are vying for a spot in Marriott International’s Aloft chain of hotel rooms, with both in testing at the Aloft Boston Seaport location to help inform the lodging giant’s decision. This isn’t the first time a hotel has considered voice assistant technology — Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas installed the Amazon Echo in nearly 5,000 hotel suites back in December. But the direct competition between Alexa and Siri shows...

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Facebook will never take responsibility for fake news

I n his comments this week, Zuckerberg seemed to take a measured approach to address his accusers: “We need to make sure that we don’t get to a place where we’re not showing content or banning things from the service just because it hurts someone’s feelings or because someone doesn’t agree with it – I think that would actually hurt a lot of progress.” Being the “arbiter of truth” is not something that should fall on a single organization, nor is it simple to balance that arbitration across 2 billion users, across a multitude of cultures and beliefs and who are using a product that is fundamentally geared toward fostering that feedback loop — read this, like this, share this, see more of this. And it’s certainly not easy to do any of that while trying to run an advertising business. One of the accusers Zuck may be referencing is former product designer Bobby Goodlatte, who said: “Sadly, News Feed optimizes for engagement. As we’ve learned in this election, bullshit is highly engaging.” Fair point. Complicating matters more is the fact that everyone experiences Facebook differently, based on that all-knowing algorithm. The New York Times has the same front page, across all users, every single day. There is only one New York Times, and you can take it or leave it. A Facebook user, on the other hand, may see...

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Fritz Lanman takes CEO role at ClassPass as founder Payal Kadakia steps in as Chairman

Early investor and Executive Chairman of ClassPass Fritz Lanman will be taking over as CEO of the company, with cofounder and former CEO Payal Kadakia swapping with him for the Executive Chairman role. ClassPass, for those of you who live under a rock, is a subscription service that lets users book and access a variety of fitness classes and boutique gyms under a single ClassPass membership. The company has grown since its launch in 2012, after a tumultuous beginning and a couple of successful pivots. When ClassPass was still just Classtivity, Lanman and his partner Hank Vigil stepped in to join the seed, and eventually led the Series A round on the heels of the re-brand to ClassPass. Since then, Lanman has served as Chairman of the Board (until now, of course). Before Lanman, ClassPass was merely a website that let you book and pay for classes online, without adding that ‘monthly subscription’ model that pairs so well with the business of fitness. Lanman is a former Microsofter who has gone on to angel invest in companies like Wish, Pinterest, and Square. He’s also the Chairman of the Board on two of his other portfolio companies, Verst and Doppler Labs. Kadakia told TechCrunch that she was the first to approach the idea of her and Lanman switching roles. “I started this company so I could have an impact on...

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Brooklinen tucks in $10M in Series A from FirstMark

At some point, everyone has an ‘Aha!’ moment when it comes to the importance of high-quality bed linens. For Brooklinen founders, Rich and Vicki Fulop, that moment came on vacation at a hotel, where the sheets were too good to be true but unfortunately not for sale. As the couple searched for some nice sheets, everywhere from Bed Bath & Beyond to ABC Home, they realized that there is a segment of the market that isn’t being served well when it comes to bed linens. That’s how Brooklinen was born. Brooklinen is a direct-to-consumer brand for bed linens, offering high-quality sheets etc. at an affordable price. The company has just announced the close of a $10 million Series A funding round led by FirstMark Capital. Alongside the savings passed on to consumers through the online business model, Brooklinen has also taken steps to reduce overall cost by removing extra embroidery and lacing that usually comes on expensive sheets, boiling the product down to the fabric and the design. Brooklinen started with a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, and hit more than 200k in funding to get the first batch of sheets off of the production line. The company made an extra effort to create sheets that fit the under-served demographic of young adults looking for something affordable but comfortable. For instance, Brooklinen works to fit the sheets to mattresses like...

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Walmart squares up against Amazon with 2-day delivery across the U.S. – TechCrunch

Walmart has just expanded its free, two-day shipping pilot to the entire United States. The program is called ShippingPass, and it competes directly with Amazon Prime, offering users free, two-day delivery on any item for an annual price of $49. This is just half the price of the $99/year Amazon Prime subscription, but it doesn’t come with the same access to Amazon’s streaming services like Prime Music and Prime Video. For now, ShippingPass is only available for items that Walmart sells directly on Walmart.com. The company has been investing heavily in its ecommerce business, infusing $2 billion in the platform, according to the WSJ. Of course, Walmart wants to expand the ShippingPass delivery system to third-party sellers as well, though that is not currently available to users. As part of the ShippingPass program, Walmart has moved loads of inventory to seven fulfillment warehouses across the country. Obviously, speedy shipping on low-margin products is a costly (and sometimes losing) business without outside revenues to bolster those costs. Amazon has a number of revenue streams that help offset the Prime business, but Walmart may struggle to find that same success, considering that brick-and-mortar sales are down. But what choice does the big box behemoth have? The average consumer is growing more and more comfortable with shopping online, and less and less tolerant of slow shipping times. In any case, if you...

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