Security lapse exposed Republican voter firm’s internal app code – TechCrunch

A voter contact and canvassing company, used exclusively by Republican political campaigns, mistakenly left an unprotected copy of its app’s code on its website for anyone to find.

The company, Campaign Sidekick, helps Republican campaigns canvas its districts using iOS and Android apps, which pull in names and addresses from voter registration rolls. Campaign Sidekick says it has helped campaigns in Arizona, Montana, and Ohio and contributed to the Brian Kemp campaign, which saw him narrowly win against Democratic rival Stacey Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial campaign in 2018.

For the past two decades, political campaigns have ramped up their use of data to identify swing voters. This growing political data business has opened up a whole economy of startups and tech companies using data to help campaigns better understand their electorate. But that has led to voter records spilling out of unprotected servers and other privacy-related controversies — like the case of Cambridge Analytica obtaining private data from social media sites.

Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at security firm UpGuard, said he found the cache of Campaign Sidekick’s code by chance.

In his review of the code, Vickery found several instances of credentials and other app-related secrets, he said in a blog post on Monday, which he shared exclusively with TechCrunch. These secrets, such as keys and tokens, can typically be used to gain access to systems or data without a username or password. But Vickery did not test the password as doing so would be unlawful. Vickery also found a sampling of personally identifiable information, he said, amounting to dozens of spreadsheets packed with voter names and addresses.

Fearing the exposed credentials could be abused if accessed by a malicious actor, Vickery informed the company of the issue in mid-February. Campaign Sidekick quickly pulled the exposed cache of code offline.

One of the Campaign Sidekick mockups, using dummy data, collates a voter’s data in one place. (Image: supplied)

One of the screenshots provided by Vickery showed a mockup of a voter profile compiled by the app, containing basic information about the voter and their past voting and donor history, which can be obtained from public and voter records. The mockup also lists the voter’s “friends.”

Vickery told TechCrunch he found “clear evidence” that the app’s code was designed to pull in data from its now-defunct Facebook app, which allowed users to sign-in and pull their list of friends — a feature that was supported by Facebook at the time until limits were put on third-party developers’ access to friends’ data.

“There is clear evidence that Campaign Sidekick and related entities had and have used access to Facebook user data and APIs to query that data,” Vickery said.

Drew Ryun, founder of Campaign Sidekick, told TechCrunch that its Facebook project was from eight years prior, that Facebook had since deprecated access to developers, and that the screenshot was a “digital artifact of a mockup.” (TechCrunch confirmed that the data in the mockup did not match public records.)

Ryun said after he learned of the exposed data the company “immediately changed sensitive credentials for our current systems,” but that the credentials in the exposed code could have been used to access its databases storing user and voter data.

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Microsoft brings Teams to consumers and launches Microsoft 365 personal and family plans – TechCrunch

Microsoft today announced a slew of new products, but at the core of the release is a major change to how the company is marketing its tools and services to consumers.

Office 365, which has long been the brand for the company’s subscription service for its productivity tools like Word, Excel and Outlook, is going away. On April 21, it’ll be replaced by new Microsoft 365 plans, including new personal and family plans (for up to six people) at $6.99 and $9.99 respectively. That’s the same price as the existing Office 365 Personal and Home plans.

“We are basically evolving our subscription from — in our minds — a set of tools to solutions that help you manage across your work and life,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s CVP of Modern Life, Search and Devices, told me ahead of today’s announcement.

Microsoft is making similar branding changes to its business plans for Office 365. They are a bit more convoluted, with Office 365 Business Premium now called Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business now becoming Microsoft 365 Business Premium, but for the most part, this is about branding while prices stay the same.

These new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family plans will include access to Outlook and the Office desktop apps for Windows and macOS, 1 terabyte of OneDrive storage per person (including unlimited access to the more secure OneDrive Personal Vault service) and 50 gigabytes of Outlook.com email storage, Skype call recording and 60 minutes of Skype landline and mobile phone calls.

And since this is now Microsoft 365 and not Office 365, you can also get Windows 10 technical support with the subscription, as well as additional security features to protect you from phishing and malware attacks.

More than 37 million people currently have personal Office 365 subscriptions and chances are these lower prices will bring more users to the platform in the long run. As Mehdi stressed, Microsoft’s free offerings aren’t going away.

But with today’s release, Microsoft isn’t just changing the branding and launching these new plans, it’s also highlighting quite a few new capabilities in its various applications that are either launching today or in the coming months.

Microsoft Teams gets a personal edition

The highlight of this launch, especially given the current situation around COVID-19, is likely the announcement of Teams for consumers. Teams is already one of Microsoft’s fastest growing products for businesses with 44 million people using it. But in its efforts to help people bridge their work and personal lives, it will now launch a new Teams edition for consumers, as well.

Just like you can switch between work and personal accounts in Outlook, you will soon be able to do the same in Teams. The personal teams view will look a little bit different, with shared calendars for the family, access to OneDrive vaults, photo sharing, etc., but it sits on the same codebase as the business version. You’ll also be able to do video calls and shared to-do lists.

Better writing through AI

About a year ago, Microsoft announced that Word Online would get a new AI-powered editor that would help you write better. You can think of it as a smarter grammar checker that can fix all of your standard grammar mistakes but can also help you avoid overly complex sentences and bias in your word choices.

This editor is now the Microsoft Editor, and the company is expanding it well beyond Word. The new AI-powered service is now available in 20 languages in Word and Outlook.com — and maybe most importantly, it’ll be available as a Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome plug-in, too.

Free users will get basic spelling and grammar features, while Microsoft 365 subscribers will get a number of more advanced features like the ability to ask the editor to suggest a rewrite of a mangled sentence, a plagiarism checker, style analysis to see if your writing is unclear or too formal and access to an inclusive language critique to help you avoid unintentional bias.

If you’ve used Grammarly in the past, then a lot of this will sound familiar. Both services now offer a similar set of capabilities, but Microsoft may have an edge with its ability to rewrite sentences.

Better presentations through technology

In a similar vein, Microsoft also launched a presentation coach for PowerPoint as a limited test last September. This AI-driven feature helps you avoid filler words and other presentation no-nos.

This feature first launched in the online version of PowerPoint, with a basic set of features. Now, Microsoft 365 subscribers will get two new advanced features, too, that can help you avoid a monotone pitch that puts your audience to sleep and avoid grammar mistakes in your spoken sentences.

Currently, these are still available as a free preview to all but will become Microsoft 365-only features soon.

PowerPoint is also getting an updated Designer to help you create better presentations. It can now easily turn text into a timeline, for example, and when you add an image, it can present you with a set of potential slide layouts.

Microsoft 365 subscribers now also get access to over 8,000 images and 175 looping videos from Getty Images, as well as 300 new fonts and 2,800 new icons.

Excel + Plaid

For you spreadsheet jockeys out there, Microsoft also has some good news, especially if you want to use Excel to manage your personal budgets.

In partnership with Plaid, you can now link your bank accounts to Excel and import all of your expenses into your spreadsheets. With that, you can then categorize your spend and build your own personal Mint. This feature, dubbed “Money in Excel,” will launch in the U.S. in the coming months.

In addition, Excel is getting a lot more cloud- and AI-driven data types that now cover over 100 topics, including nutrition, movies, places, chemistry and — because why not — Pokémon. Like some of the previous features, this is an extension of the work Microsoft did on Excel in the last few years, starting with the ability to pull in stock market and geographical data.

And just like with the previous set of features, you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription to get access to these additional data types. Otherwise, you’ll remain restricted to the stock market and geography data types, which will become available to Office Insiders in the spring and then Personal and Family subscribers in the U.S. in the coming months.

Outlook gets more personal

Even though you may want to forget about Outlook and ignore your inbox for a while, Microsoft doesn’t. In Outlook on the web, you can now link your personal and work calendars to ensure you don’t end up with a work meeting in the middle of a personal appointment, because Chris from marketing really needs another sync meeting during your gym time even though a short email would suffice.

Outlook for Android can now summarize and read your emails aloud for you, too. This feature will roll out in the coming months.

Family Safety

While most of the new features here focus on existing applications, Microsoft is also launching one completely new app: Microsoft Family Safety. This app is coming to Microsoft 365 subscribers on iOS and Android and will bring together a set of tools that can help families manage their online activities and track the location of family members.

The app lets families manage the screen time of their kids (and maybe parents, too) across Windows, Android and Xbox, for example. Parents can also set content filters that only allow kids to download age-appropriate apps. But it also allows parents to track their kids in the real world through location tracking and even driving reports. This, as Mehdi stressed, is a feature that kids can turn off, but they’ll probably have to explain themselves to their parents then. Indeed, he stressed that a lot of what the app does is give parents a chance to have a dialog with their kids. What makes the service unique is that it works across platforms, with iOS support coming in the future.

This app is launching as a limited preview now and will be available in the coming months (I think you can spot a trend here).

Partner benefits

Mehdi noted that Microsoft is also partnering with companies like Adobe, Bark, Blinkist, Creative Live, Experian, Headspace and TeamSnap to provide Microsoft 365 subscribers with additional benefits like limited-time access to their products and services. Subscribers will get three months of free access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan, for example.

At the core of today’s updates, though, is a mission to bring a lot of the productivity tools that people know from their work life to their personal life, too, with the personal edition of Teams being the core example.

“We’re very much excited to bring this type of value — not increase the price of Office 365 — take a big step forward, and then move to this,” Mehdi said. “We think now more than ever, it is valuable for people to have the subscription service for their life that helps them make the most of their time, protects their family, lets them develop and grow. And our goal or aspiration is: Can we give you the most valuable subscription for your life? I know people value their video subscriptions and music subscriptions. Our aspiration is to provide the most valuable subscription for your life via Microsoft 365 Personal and Family.”

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Apple launches a COVID-19 app, the outbreak’s impact on social and video apps and more – TechCrunch

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry saw a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we’re continuing our special coverage of how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting apps and the wider mobile app industry as more COVID-19 apps appear — including one from Apple built in partnership with the CDC, among others. We also take a look at the gains made by social and video apps in recent weeks as people struggle to stay connected while stuck at home in quarantine. In other headlines, we dig into Instagram’s co-watching feature, the Google for Games conference news, Apple’s latest releases and updates, Epic Games expansion into publishing and more.

Coronavirus Special Coverage

Social video apps are exploding due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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News-reading app Flipboard expands local coverage, including coronavirus updates, to 12 more US metros – TechCrunch

Earlier this year, personalized news aggregation app Flipboard expanded into local news. The feature brought local news, sports, real estate, weather, transportation news and more to 23 cities across the U.S. Today, Flipboard is bringing local news to 12 more U.S. metros and is adding critical coronavirus local coverage to all of the 35 supported locales.

The 12 new metros include the following:  Baltimore, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

They join the 23 cities that were already supported: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.

To offer local news in its app, Flipboard works with area partners, big and small, like The Plain Dealer’s Cleveland.com, the Detroit Free Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It has now added to the list of partners local news service Patch and ProPublica, including its Local Reporting Network partners and its collaborative journalism project Electionland.

Patch alone is putting out more than 200 local coronavirus stories per day. Meanwhile, the ProPublica Local Reporting Network funds and jointly publishes year-long investigative projects with 23 local news organizations across the U.S. The Electionland initiative reports on problems that disenfranchise eligible voters, like misinformation, changing voting laws and rules, voter harassment, equipment failures and long lines at the polls.

To determine if a user should be shown local news, based on a user’s IP address — not a precise location — the app may recommend stories relevant to local audiences. It will also offer the Local sections inside the Explore tab in the Flipboard app. Once added, users can then browse their local news alongside other content they’re interested in, across a variety of topics.

At present, there are two main areas of interest to news readers — the COVID-19 outbreak and the 2020 Election, both of which are now offered in the local sections. In addition to understanding the current state of the pandemic on a global and national level, Flipboard readers in the supported areas will be able to track how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting where they live. This could include coverage of things like local ordinances, school closings, shelter-in-place laws, number of cases and deaths, testing resources and more.

“Understanding the decisions state and local governments make and their impact on the community is not only important, but gives people a greater connection to their local leaders and the media,” said Marci McCue, VP of Content and Communications at Flipboard. “For instance, as a local resident you may want coverage from national newspapers about the coronavirus outbreak, but even more importantly is a local source that tells you where you can get tested and measures local leaders are taking that impact your daily life,” she noted.

The addition of coronavirus special coverage at a local level, aggregated from across publishers, means readers will be able to track stories without having to hop around different sites or apps from area newspapers or broadcasters.

For Flipboard’s business, adding local news allows advertisers to target against user interests, which may now include a city’s metro region as one of those interests.

Flipboard’s mobile app today reaches 145 million users per month. Local news is available in the supported metros across both iOS and Android .

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India’s MX Player expands to US, UK and other markets in international push – TechCrunch

MX Player, the on-demand video streaming service owned by India’s conglomerate Times Internet, is expanding to more than half a dozen new international markets including the U.S. and the U.K. to supply more entertainment content to millions of people trapped in their homes.

The Singapore-headquartered on-demand video streaming service, which raised $111 million in a round led by Tencent last year, said it has expanded to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Nepal in addition to the U.S. and the UK.

Like in India, MX Player will offer its catalog at no charge to users in the international markets and monetize through ads, Karan Bedi, chief executive of the service, told TechCrunch in an interview.

The streaming service, which has amassed over 175 million monthly active users in India, is offering locally relevant titles in each market, he said. This is notably different from Disney’s Hotstar expansion into select international markets, where it has largely aimed to cater to the Indian diaspora.

MX Player is not currently offering any originally produced titles in any international market — instead offering movies and shows it has licensed from global and local studios — but the streamer plans to change that in the coming months, said Bedi.

Even as the expansion comes at a time when the world is grappling with containing and fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Bedi said MX Player had already been testing the service in several markets for a few months.

“We believe in meeting this rapidly rising demand from discerning entertainment lovers with stories that strike a chord. To that end, we have collaborated with some of the best talent and content partners globally who will help bring us a step closer to becoming the go-to destination for entertainment across the world,” said Nakul Kapur, Business Head for International markets at MX Player, in a statement.

Times Internet acquired MX Player, an app popular for efficiently playing a plethora of locally-stored media files on entry-level Android smartphones, in 2018 for about $140 million. In the years since, Times Internet has introduced video streaming service to it, and then live TV channels in India.

MX Player has also bundled free music streaming (through Gaana, another property owned by Times Internet) and has introduced in-app casual games for users in the country.

Bedi said the company is working on bringing these additional services to international markets, and also looking to enter additional regions including the Middle East and South Asia.

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Volvo’s Polestar begins production of the all-electric Polestar 2 in China – TechCrunch

Polestar has started production of its all-electric Polestar 2 vehicle at a plant in China amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended the automotive industry and triggered a wave of factory closures throughout the world.

The start of Polestar 2 production is a milestone for Volvo Car Group’s standalone electric performance brand  — and not just because it began in the midst of global upheaval caused by COVID-19, a disease that stems from the coronavirus. It’s also the first all-electric car under a brand that was relaunched just three years ago with a new mission.

Polestar was once a high-performance brand under Volvo Cars. In 2017, the company was recast as an electric performance brand aimed at producing exciting and fun-to-drive electric vehicles — a niche that Tesla was the first to fill and has dominated ever since. Polestar is jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding of China. Volvo was acquired by Geely in 2010.

COVID-19 has affected how Polestar and its parent company operate. Factory closures began in China, where the disease first swept through the population. Now Chinese factories are reopening as the epicenter of COVID-19 moves to Europe and North America. Most automakers have suspended production in Europe and North America.

Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said the company started production under these challenging circumstances with a strong focus on the health and safety of its workers. He added that the Luqiao, China factory is an example of how Polestar has leveraged the expertise of its parent companies.

Extra precautions have been taken because of the outbreak, including frequent disinfecting of work spaces and requiring workers to wear masks and undergo regular temperature screenings, according to the company. Polestar has said that none of its workers in China tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of its efforts.

COVID-19 has also affected Polestar’s timeline. Polestar will only sell its vehicles online and will offer customers subscriptions to the vehicle. It previously revealed plans to open “Polestar Spaces,” a showroom where customers can interact with the product and schedule test drives. These spaces will be standalone facilities and not within existing Volvo retailer showrooms. Polestar had planned to have 60 of these spaces open by 2020, including in Oslo, Los Angeles and Shanghai.

COVID-19 has delayed the opening of the showrooms. The company will have some pop-up stores opening as soon as that situation improves, so people can go see the cars and learn more while the permanent showrooms are still under construction, TechCrunch has learned.

It’s not clear just how many Polestar 2 vehicles will be produced; Polestar has told TechCrunch that it is in the “tens of thousands” of cars per calendar year. Those numbers will also depend on demand for the Polestar 2 and other models that are built in the same factory.

Polestar 2 EV

Image Credits: Screenshot/Polestar

Polestar also isn’t providing the exact number of reservations until it begins deliveries, which are supposed to start this summer in Europe, followed by China and North America. It was confirmed to TechCrunch that reservations are in the “five digits.”

The Polestar 2, which was first revealed in February 2019, has been positioned by the company to go up against Tesla Model 3. (The company’s first vehicle, the Polestar 1, is a plug-in hybrid with two electrical motors powered by three 34-kilowatt-hour battery packs and a turbo and supercharged gas inline 4 up front.)

But it will likely face off against other competitors launching new EVs in 2020 and 2021, including Volkswagen, GM, Ford and startups Lucid Motors and even adventure-focused Rivian.

Polestar is hoping customers are attracted to the tech and the performance of the fastback, which produces 408 horsepower, 487 pound feet of torque and has a 78 kWh battery pack that delivers an estimated range of 292 miles under Europe’s WLTP.

The Polestar 2’s infotainment system will be powered by Android OS and, as a result, bring into the car embedded Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store. This shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, which is a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars.

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MasterClass is launching free, live Q&A sessions with big shots in their respective industries – TechCrunch

MasterClass is known for selling access to pre-recorded online classes by a long list of people who are among the best at what they do, from tennis great Serena Williams to writer David Sedaris to chef Thomas Keller.

More recently, however, the company added live Q&A sessions with these same stars as a member benefit, and now, for the foreseeable future, it’s opening these sessions to non-members, too. It’s the San Francisco startup’s way of making itself more accessible to a broader audience that perhaps can’t rationalize paying $90 per class or $180 for a yearly all-access pass, especially in this increasingly grim market.

The first free session streams live on Wednesday at noon PT from MasterClass’s site and will feature Chris Voss, who was once the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI. Voss had earlier created a module for MasterClass on the art of negotiation, and he’ll be talking to whomever wants to tune in with the help of a moderator who will be asking questions that have been submitted in advance by students.

It’s just “one of a bunch” of such live Q&A sessions that will be made available, according to MasterClass CEO David Rogier, who we chatted with Friday afternoon and who half-kiddingly describes Voss’s mission as partly to help families that are stuck at home to better negotiate who is going to use the big-screen TV at any one time (though more broadly the idea is to teach empathy).

It’s a small step from MasterClass, which separately gives away 130,000 all-access passes each year to organizations in need and has committed to giving away an addition 200,000 of these passes this year. (It’s opening up applications to these passes soon to organizations that can apply on its website, says a spokeswoman.)

Seemingly, MasterClass could lean in even further while much of America, and the rest of the globe, is trapped at home and looking for both entertainment and high-quality educational content.

In the meantime, Rogier is quick to note that MasterClass has a variety of kid-friendly content that’s instructive — if best consumed with parental supervision.

Among the now 80 classes available through the site — including new classes by interior designer Kelly Wearstler, a class on self expression and identity by RuPaul, and Gabriela Cámara teaching Mexican cooking — are classes, for example, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who walks viewers through his take on scientific thinking and communication. Another segment stars Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose class centers on U.S. presidential history.

Other courses recommended by Rogier himself include Penn and Teller’s class on the art of magic; a class on space exploration by retired astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield; and, for older kids who might be trying to make sense of the world right now, a class by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on the economy.

As for how five-year-old MasterClass was doing before the world changed, Rogier declines to share specific growth stats, merely describing its numbers as “great.” He also notes that MasterClass is now available not only via its website and app but on the big screen through Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

It’s also rolling out Android TV and Roku soon.

Pictured above: Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.

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The New York Times Company acquires Audm, an app that turns longform journalism into audio – TechCrunch

Audm, a startup that turns longform journalism into audio content, has been acquired by The New York Times Company, it announced this morning. While there are other services that turn news articles into audio, including read-it-later apps like Instapaper and Pocket, Audm differentiates itself by using professional voice actors to narrate the content, not automated voice technology.

That makes the content more enjoyable to listen to — more like listening to a podcast, for example.

The startup was founded by Ryan Wegner and Christian Brink, both 2007 Columbia grads with backgrounds in psychology and software development, respectively. The two didn’t know each other during college, but eventually met up in 2014 when their idea for an audio news app began to come together. Initially, the founders experimented with crowdsourced narration, but later landed on using professional voice talent to make their app stand out from others.

The company participated in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator in 2017 to further develop Audm’s business. At the time, Audm was working with a range of publishing partners, including Wired, The Atlantic, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Review of Books, ProPublica, London Review of Books and several others. According to its website today, it also works with The Atlantic, Outside, BuzzFeed News, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, New York, Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly.

Of course, The New York Times had also worked with Audm, but on a more limited basis. Currently, Audm only has a couple of NYT stories available, and both are from 2019. That will soon change, given the new acquisition.

The company says it had already begun plans for read-aloud Times articles every Sunday on “The Daily,” to help provide escape and relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. This began with Taffy Akner’s profile of Tom Hanks and Sue Dominus’s story of the Colombian twin brothers.

Other audio stories from The New York Times Magazine are also being produced, which will run in the Audm app. These include features on The Wing, black theater, Bernie Sanders, and others. In addition, The NYT is also experimenting with other forms of distribution, including on mobile pages, it says, and will expand from the Magazine to other desks in time.

The Audm app today allows users to subscribe to its service for $8.99 per month or $59.99 per year, after a 3-day free trial. The Times Company hasn’t yet offered any detail as to if or how its business model will evolve or if Audm’s service will be further integrated with its own NYT app.

On the App Store, Audm was well-ranked as No. 20 in the Magazines & Newspapers category, according to its App Store profile. The app is also available on Android but is not well-ranked there.

According to The New York Times’ announcement, Audm will continue to introduce hours of new stories every week, including from The New York Times and other publishers.

Wegner, the director of spoken-word audio production, and Brink, director of product for Audm, as well as the rest of the team, are joining the Times Company as a result of the deal.

Audm had raised early-stage funding from Y Combinator, Hack VC, Precursor Ventures and Switch Ventures, per Pitchbook’s data.

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Search the web – TechCrunch

WhatsApp, one of the most popular instant messaging platforms on the planet, is testing a feature that could make it simpler for its 2 billion users to tell whether the assertion made in messages they have received is true.

In the recent most beta version of its Android app, the Facebook-owned service has given users the ability to quickly comb through the web with the text or video they have received for more context.

WhatsApp has been testing this feature in some capacity for several quarters now (last year, it allowed some users to look up an image on the web), but a spokesperson has now told TechCrunch that the platform plans to roll out this feature in the near future.

“We are working on new features to help empower users to find out more information about the messages they receive that have been forwarded many times. This feature is currently in testing, and we look forward to rolling it out in the near future,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Images credit: @shrinivassg

The timely test of this feature comes at a time when WhatsApp and other messaging platforms are being used more often than ever before as people stay in touch with their friends, families, and colleagues in the face of a global pandemic.

And as it has happened in the past, several platforms including WhatsApp are grappling with spread of misinformation — this time about the coronavirus.

But WhatsApp has moved to take action much swiftly this time. It began reaching out to dozens of governments last month to assist in their efforts to provide accurate information to the general public, it said today.

Earlier today, India announced a WhatsApp bot to help its citizens be better informed about coronavirus. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization also announced a WhatsApp bot for people globally to bust myths about the coronavirus and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the disease.

“The WHO Health Alert is the latest official NGO or government helpline to become available on WhatsApp, joining the Singapore Government, The Israel Ministry of Health, the South Africa Department of Health, and KOMINFO Indonesia. We are actively working to launch local services with other countries as well,” WhatsApp said in a statement.



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Google’s Advanced Protection program for high-risk users now includes malware protection – TechCrunch

Google is expanding the feature set for its Advanced Protection Program, a security offering that helps safeguard Google Accounts of those at risk for targeted attacks — like politicians, journalists, activists, business leaders and others. The program already provides an increased level of protection for these accounts by limiting access to data, blocking fraudulent account access, supporting the use of physical security keys and more. Today, Google is adding new malware protections to the program, as well.

For starters, those enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program will have Google Play Protect automatically enabled. This is Google’s built-in malware protection for Android that’s currently used to scan and verify 100 billion apps per day, Google notes. The system uses machine learning to automatically scan users’ devices and apps to check for harmful behavior and potential security issues. Now, this will be enabled for Advanced Protection Program members and will not be able to be shut off.

The program will also now limit users’ ability to install apps from outside the Play Store, where apps are now scanned for malware before approval. Those from outside the store can present a greater risk. Google will now prevent the download of non-Play Store apps on any devices enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program, with a few exceptions. Users will be able to install non-Play Store apps through other third-party app stores that may have shipped on your device from the device manufacturer. Others can be installed through the developer tool Android Debug Bridge. However, Google says non-Play Store apps that have already been installed won’t be removed and can continue to be updated.

Google launched its Advanced Protection Program in fall 2017, as an opt-in option for those who believe they’re at increased risk of online attacks. The program focuses on defending against phishing, locking down malicious apps, and fending off hackers. The trade-off is reduced convenience as there are additional steps to take during authentication and more limitations on what can be done. But the result is a safer, and free, way to increase the security of your account and device.

The new added protections will roll out gradually to accounts enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program on Android devices, to be later this year followed by new malware protections for Chrome, Google says. However, G Suite users won’t get these new protections now — instead, they’re offered through endpoint management, which helps secure devices belonging to mobile workforces.

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Live with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the USu2019s top infectious disease expert, to learn about what we can all do to fight the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, March 19, 2020

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The conversation is part of Facebook’s recent thrust to put COVID-19 information from established health authorities front and center on the platform in an effort to get good information into the hands of users while mitigating potentially dangerous misinformation that could worsen outcomes as the novel coronavirus spreads worldwide.

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If there’s one face of scientific authority in the U.S. in the throes of COVID-19 chaos, it’s Dr. Anthony Fauci. One of the world’s top HIV/AIDS researchers, Dr. Fauci has served in his post as director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, helping steer the federal response to viral diseases […]

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Taylor covers politics, platform policy, and big tech at TechCrunch. Prior to rejoining TechCrunch, Taylor was Senior Technology Editor of the Daily Beast. Taylor first joined TechCrunch in 2016. Prior to joining TechCrunch, she was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWriteWeb.

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Taylor covers politics, platform policy, and big tech at TechCrunch. Prior to rejoining TechCrunch, Taylor was Senior Technology Editor of the Daily Beast. Taylor first joined TechCrunch in 2016. Prior to joining TechCrunch, she was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWriteWeb.

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WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 17: National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, joined by members of the Coronavirus Task Force, speaks about the coronavirus outbreak in the press briefing room at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trump administration is considering an $850 billion stimulus package to counter the economic fallout as the coronavirus spreads. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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prototypes Snapchat-style disappearing text messages”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Instagram is finally preparing to copy Snapchat’s most popular feature, and one of the few it hasn’t already cloned. Instagram has prototyped an unreleased ephemeral text messaging feature that clears the chat thread whenever you leave it, a Facebook spokesperson confirms to TechCrunch. That could make users more comfortable with having rapid-fire, silly, vulnerable, or risque chats, thereby driving up the reply notifications that keep people opening Instagram all day long.

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Instagram already has disappearing photo and video messaging which it launched in February 2018 to let users choose if chat partners can “view once”, “allow replay” multiple times for a limited period, or “keep in chat” permanently. Technically you could use the Create mode for overlaying words on a colored background to send an ephemeral text, but otherwise you have to use the “Unsend” feature which notifies other people in the thread.

n

But today, reverse engineering specialist and TechCrunch’s favorite tipster Jane Manchun Wong unearthed something new. Buried in the code of the Android app is the a new “ud83dude4a” mode, labeled in the code with the ‘speak-no-evil’ monkey emoji.

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How Instagram Disappearing Messages Work

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When users enter this mode by swiping up from Instagram Direct message thread, they’re brought to a dark mode messaging window that starts as an empty message thread. When users close this window, any messages from them or their chat partners disappear.u00a0The feature works similarly to Snapchat, which clears a chat after all members of a thread have viewed it and closed the chat window.

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Here’s how Instagram disappearing messages work

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The ephemeral messaging feature is not currently not publicly available but a Facebook spokesperson confirms to me that they are working on it internally. “We’re always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience. This feature is still in early development and not testing externally.” The company later tweeted the confirmation. They gave no indication of a timeline for if or when this might officially launch. Some features never make it out of the prototype phase, but others including many spotted by Wong end up being rolled out several months later.

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Instagram has seen great success using Snapchat as a product R&D lab. Instagram’s version of Stories rocketed to 500 million daily users compared to just 218 million users on Snapchat as a whole.

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But ephemeral messaging has kept Snapchat relevant. Back in late 2017, just 51 million of Snapchat’s 178 million users were posting Stories per day, and that was when Instagram Stories was still in its first year on the market. According to Statista, Snapchat’s top use case is staying in touch with friends and family, not entertainment.

n

Instagram Stories caused Snapchat to start shrinking at one point, but now it’s growing healthily again. That may signaled that Instagram still had more work to do to steal Snap’s thunder. But Instagram’s existing version of ephemeral messaging that is clunkier, Facebook scrapped a trial of a similar feature, and WhatsApp’s take that started testing in October hasn’t rolled out yet.

n

That’s left teens to stick with Snapchat for fast-paced communication they don’t have to worry about coming back to haunt them. If Instagram successfully copies this feature too, it could reduce the need for people to stay on Snapchat while making Instagram Direct more appealing to a critical audience. Every reply and subsequent alert draws users deeper into Facebook’s web.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Instagram is finally preparing to copy Snapchat’s most popular feature, and one of the few it hasn’t already cloned. Instagram has prototyped an unreleased ephemeral text messaging feature that clears the chat thread whenever you leave it, a Facebook spokesperson confirms to TechCrunch. That could make users more comfortable with having rapid-fire, silly, vulnerable, or […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:1603003,”name”:”Josh Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”},”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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The European Commission is putting pressure on Netflix and other streaming platforms to switch to standard definition during periods of peak demand as the coronavirus crisis puts unprecedented load on Internet infrastructure.

n

Across the European Union — a region with around 445M citizens —u00a0 it’s likely many millions of office workers will switch to teleworking, as countries impose quarantine measures and instruct people to work from home wherever possible. The European Commission itself, which employs around 32,000 people,u00a0moved all non-critical staff to remote work at the start of this week.

n

Yesterday Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the EU’s internal market who is also a former CEO of France Telecom, tweeted that he’d spoke to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to make the case for standard definition streaming by default during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

n

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A spokesman for Breton told us the Commission is inviting streaming platforms to follow the lead of telecom providers and consider adapting the throughput of video streaming, such as by temporarily moving to SD rather than HD streaming — at least for the most critical working hours.

n

In Breton’s call with Netflix a number of potential measures were discussed — per the spokesman — including an automatic switch to standard definition during peaks of Internet activities on impacted geographies, which the Commission says represents a “responsible option”, that will help secure telecommunications infrastructures while “keeping offering the best service to users and consumers, with no disruption”.

n

Many content and application providers are already applying this sort of flexibility measure, it added.

n

The Commission is also asking telecoms operators that provide Internet services to take steps to prevent and mitigate the impacts of impending network congestion, by inviting them to make use of “possibilities” offered by EU net neutrality rules.

n

Earlier this week Vodafone reported a 50% surge in Internet traffic in some European countries as scores of people logged on from home. u201cCovid-19 is already having a significant impact on our services and placing a greater demand on our network,u201d the company said in a statement, adding that: u201cWe should expect this trend of data growth to continue.”

n

At the same time the Commission is calling for Internet users in the region to make responsible use of online recreational activities — such as by opting for settings that reduce data consumption, including using Wi-Fi (rather than mobile data) and choosing lower resolution for content whenever possible.

n

It wants joint action from all stakeholders to ease the pressure on infrastructure and facilitate remote working and online education at a time of region-wide public health crisis.

n

In a statement Breton added: u201cEurope and the whole world are facing an unprecedented situation. Governments have taken measures to reduce social interactions to contain the spread of Covid-19, and to encourage remote working and online education. Streaming platforms, telecom operators and users, we all have a joint responsibility to take steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the Internet during the battle against the virus propagation.”

n

It’s not clear exactly what wiggle room the Commission envisages in EU net neutrality rules for prioritizing certain types of traffic over others during the coronavirus crisis.

n

We asked Breton’s spokesman for clarification on this point but he responded by emphasizing that the Commission is hoping to steer off such a scenario, telling us: “By calling for all stakeholdersu2019 responsibility (platforms/telcos/users) we are proactively ensuring smooth functioning of the Internet so that the question of prioritization does not need to be asked.”

n

We also reached out to Netflix to ask what steps it’s taking to help manage bandwidth demand in the region. At the time of writing the company had not responded.

n

Breton’s spokesman said the commissioner is due to hold a follow-up call with Hastings in the coming days.

n

More broadly, the Commission is working on setting up a reporting mechanism to ensure regular monitoring of the Internet traffic situation in each Member State in order to be able to respond swiftly to capacity issues, liaising on this with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications and with the support of national regulatory authorities.

n

We’ve also contacted YouTube for comment on the Commission’s call for proactive action from streaming platforms to help manage increased demand on Internet infrastructure.

n

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The European Commission is putting pressure on Netflix and other streaming platforms to switch to standard definition during periods of peak demand as the coronavirus crisis puts unprecedented load on Internet infrastructure. Across the European Union — a region with around 445M citizens —u00a0 it’s likely many millions of office workers will switch to teleworking, […]

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Natasha is a senior reporter for TechCrunch, joining September 2012, based in Europe. She joined TC after a stint reviewing smartphones for CNET UK and, prior to that, more than five years covering business technology for silicon.com (now folded into TechRepublic), where she focused on mobile and wireless, telecoms & networking, and IT skills issues. She has also freelanced for organisations including The Guardian and the BBC. Natasha holds a First Class degree in English from Cambridge University, and an MA in journalism from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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Berlin, Germany – April 18: The logo of the media company Netflix can be seen on a TV on April 18, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Netflix is one of the world’s largest streaming services. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

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Wag!, the petcare company known for connecting pet owners with local dog walkers, has recently undergone a series of sweeping changes.

n

In late November, after I was named the new CEO, my management team and I began plotting a radically different path to profitability. We began by assessing our relationship with users. First and foremost, we recognized that Wag! needed to improve the way we supported the community, including pet parents, pet caregivers and their pets.

n

Next, we examined the company’s financial health and analyzed the competitive climate, investment community and direction in which the tech industry appeared headed. The time has come to share how this influenced our decisions.

n

Late in 2019, a lot of smart people began to note a philosophical shift taking place in the capital markets. Investors had begun to lose patience with startups that spent massive sums on acquiring market share, but had demonstrated little to no ability at creating lasting businesses.

n

We concluded that funding in some sectors would quickly dry up. Based on our analysis, we expect a growing number of startups will be forced to hew out self-sustaining business niches to survive. This assessment is partly what led us to conclude that accepting another funding round wouldn’t necessarily benefit the company in the area that matters most: providing value to customers.

n

A consensus formed after we took control, and found a constant drumbeat of bills coming in and payments going out, notably to Amazon (Web Services), Google (to help extend our brand), Facebook (to reach customers) and for our office space. These costs were growing faster than revenue.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Instead of accepting more investment, we chose to cut costs. This included a consolidation of some of our offices and a painful 76% reduction of our workforce.

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canceled trade shows, gaming startups can still win an extra life”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

As organizers cancel events with massive attendance, like SXSW (400,000 attendees), E3 (66,000), GDC (65,000) and Mobile World Congress (100,000), mobile game developers have felt the crunch. At a show like SXSW, larger developers can spend more than $135,000 just to secure some real estate.

n

Despite the steep cost, if you’re a developer, these events can prove worthwhile for building awareness, buzz and customer downloads. Real-time feedback from attendees, the ability to sign up users for beta campaigns, opportunities for bolstering subsequent email marketing and the prestige of having your app live side-by-side with games produced by larger studios are unique qualities.

n

It remains unclear if and how developers that made investments will recover costs such as those for onsite promotion, print advertising, staff for booths and restaurant reservations. Equally, if not more important though, is the added layer of opportunity cost for developers, especially those who sought to use these events to launch something new.

n

How important are launch moments for game developers? During the Game Developers Conference 2019, a new port of Cuphead for Nintendo Switch was announced. Per Google Trends, web searches for the game reached their second-highest point of the year during the event (March 20th), only behind search volume of the gameu2019s release a month later, in April 2019.

n

Large developers can come out unscathed from a trade show cancellation and simply kick the launch moment to their next big tentpole event. But for smaller app or game developers that canu2019t wait another six months for their launch moment, they need to do something.

n

Here are five ways to salvage a launch lost to a trade show cancellation.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Large developers can come out unscathed, but smaller apps and developers who canu2019t wait six months for their launch moment need to do something.

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Niko Bonatsos on Y Combinator, edtech and investing in the shadow of coronavirus”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

This week, Extra Crunch hosted a call with General Catalyst managing director Niko Bonatsos to discuss a number of startup topics, including what the novel coronavirus is doing to investing in the Valley, as well as his thoughts on robotics, homeschooling, edtech, SMBs, international investing and what heu2019s looking to see today in startups. Joining me on the live call was my fellow Equity host Alex Wilhelm and a couple of dozen EC members.

n

If you missed this conference call for EC members, donu2019t fret: Weu2019ll have more of these to come in this era of work-from-home. In the meantime, here is a lightly edited transcript, along with a recording of the call if you’d like to listen in.

n

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This week, Extra Crunch hosted a call with General Catalyst managing director Niko Bonatsos to discuss a number of startup topics, including what the novel coronavirus is doing to investing in the Valley, as well as his thoughts on robotics, homeschooling, edtech, SMBs, international investing and what heu2019s looking to see today in startups. Joining […]

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Danny is Managing Editor at TechCrunch, where he covers technology, power, and startup growth. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

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His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

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Danny is Managing Editor at TechCrunch, where he covers technology, power, and startup growth. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

nn

His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

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investment in esports looks light as Q1 races to a close”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

n

Today we’re taking a look at the world of esports venture capital investment, largely through the lens of preliminary data that we’ll caveat given how reported VC data lags reality. That phenomenon is likely doubly true in the current moment, as COVID-19 absorbs all news cycles and some venture rounds’ announcements are delayed even more than usual.

n

All the same, the data we do have paints a picture of a change in esports venture investment, one sufficient in size to indicate that an esports VC slowdown could be afoot. As with all early looks, we’re extending ourselves to reach a conclusion. But… no risk, no reward.

n

We’ll start by looking at Q1 2020 esports venture totals to date, compare them to year-ago results, and then peek at Q4 2019’s results and its year-ago comparison to get a handle on what else has happened lately in the niche. The picture that the quarters draw will help us understand how esports investing is starting a year that isn’t going as anyone expected.

n

Venture results

n

Today we’re using Crunchbase data, looking at both global and U.S.-specific venture totals in both round and dollar volume. To get a picture of the competitive gaming world, we’re examining investments into companies that are tagged as “esports” related in the Crunchbase database. Given that this is a somewhat wide cut, the data below is more directional than precise and should be treated as such.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Even with an expected decline in Q1 2020 venture round and venture dollar results due to lag, the most recent venture data looks grim.

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Alex Wilhelm is Senior Editor at TechCrunch. He previously worked for Crunchbase News as Editor in Chief as well as The Next Web, TechCrunch, and Mattermark.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/icctnaiqcee3bzwdc4fr”,”twitter”:”alex”}],”author”:[{“id”:428363,”name”:”Alex Wilhelm”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/alex-wilhelm/”,”slug”:”alex-wilhelm”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cc9b583e483d57b5eb30b6b09baefa63?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cc9b583e483d57b5eb30b6b09baefa63?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cc9b583e483d57b5eb30b6b09baefa63?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/alex.wilhelm”,”twitter”:”http://twitter.com/alex”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexwilhelm/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/alex-wilhelm”},”position”:”Senior Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Alex Wilhelm is Senior Editor at TechCrunch. He previously worked for Crunchbase News as Editor in Chief as well as The Next Web, TechCrunch, and Mattermark.

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FILE – In this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo, fans watch the opening ceremony at the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Final between South Korea’s SK Telecom T1 and China’s Royal Club, in Los Angeles. With millions of gamers now regularly spectating video games online and in arenas, game developers are angling to […]

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who share insights can build industry trust at scale”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Everyone knows that press features donu2019t drive sustainable traffic. But they still matter for one simple reason: sales requires trust. Trust is transitive. And the press is trusted.

n

Press features validate the legitimacy of a company, lend it authority, and ultimately lead others to trust it more.

n

Iu2019ve seen this first hand, having gone from being an unknown outsider to becoming the most popular expert in the world in my space u2014 contributing articles to 14 publications and driving more than 37,000 prospective customers per month to my blog.

n

In this article, youu2019ll learn the steps I took over the last year to go from being unknown to expert, and how this strategy has helped me open doors and close deals. All from this simple strategy that I used to build my own authority in the industry and leverage the press that people trusted to build authority and build SEO.

n

I initially discovered this strategy out of frustration. The businesses that I was selling to didnu2019t trust me because I was an outsider. I didnu2019t have credibility in my industry. I didnu2019t have status symbols people associate with trustworthiness.

n

In fact, I had the opposite. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. I never went to college. I had never worked for a big company. And our customers in the early days were a few small independents. So people didnu2019t trust me enough to trust that my technology would work for them. Iu2019d often be denied sales opportunities as a result.

n

The question was, how could I turn that around and become trusted before the sales process begins? Because that, I suspected, was how I could start closing more deals. This strategy was my solution to those repeated frustrations and it has since lead to deals with billion-dollar brands and small brands alike. It even impressed people who ended up backing my company.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

It requires patience, but it may just make you (and your company) be seen as leaders in your space while improving your insight and building an unfair advantage of trust.

n”,”protected”:false},”author”:133574325,”featured_media”:1961994,”comment_status”:”open”,”ping_status”:”closed”,”sticky”:false,”template”:””,”format”:”standard”,”meta”:{“outcome”:””,”status”:””,”crunchbase_tag”:0,”amp_status”:””,”relegenceEntities”:[],”relegenceSubjects”:[],”jetpack_publicize_message”:”Founders who share insights can build industry trust at scale https://tcrn.ch/2J0sc2E”},”categories”:[25515,576737633,576737636,17396],”tags”:[154578,175,26593,1154],”crunchbase_tag”:[],”tc_stories_tax”:[],”tc_event”:[],”jetpack_featured_media_url”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/GettyImages-138626281.jpg”,”jetpack_publicize_connections”:[],”shortlink”:”https://tcrn.ch/2J0sc2E”,”rapidData”:{“pt”:””,”pct”:””},”featured”:false,”subtitle”:””,”fundingRound”:false,”seoTitle”:””,”seoDescription”:””,”premiumContent”:true,”premiumCutoffPercent”:0.14,”tc_cb_mapping”:[],”associatedEvent”:null,”event”:null,”authors”:[1961897],”hideFeaturedImage”:false,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1961962″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts”}],”about”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/types/post”}],”replies”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?post=1961962″}],”version-history”:[{“count”:7,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1961962/revisions”}],”predecessor-version”:[{“id”:1962317,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1961962/revisions/1962317″}],”authors”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/guest-authors/adam-guild”}],”https://techcrunch.com/edit”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1961962&action=edit”}],”author”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574325″}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media/1961994″}],”wp:attachment”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media?parent=1961962″}],”wp:term”:[{“taxonomy”:”category”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/categories?post=1961962″},{“taxonomy”:”post_tag”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags?post=1961962″},{“taxonomy”:”_tc_cb_tag_taxonomy”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/crunchbase_tag?post=1961962″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_stories_tax”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_stories_tax?post=1961962″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_event”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_event?post=1961962″}],”curies”:[{“name”:”wp”,”href”:”https://api.w.org/{rel}”,”templated”:true}]},”_embedded”:{“authors”:[{“id”:1961897,”name”:”Adam Guild”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/adam-guild/”,”description”:”Adam Guild is a growth marketing expert and the founder of Placepull.”,”slug”:”adam-guild”,”links”:{“twitter”:”RealAdamGuild”},”position”:”Contributor”,”cbDescription”:”Adam Guild is a growth marketing expert and the founder of Placepull.”,”cbAvatar”:””,”twitter”:”RealAdamGuild”}],”author”:[{“id”:133574325,”name”:”Walter Thompson”,”url”:”https://anchor.fm/thegoldencity”,”description”:”Senior Editor Walter Thompson manages TechCrunch’s guest post program and Extra Crunch, our premium content service. 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Human hand building brick wall, Mexico.

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20 best startups from Y Combinator’s W20 Demo Day”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

With world events overtaking the tech world’s preferences to meet for coffees and convene at events, Y Combinator skipped its famous two-day live Demo event and went for a radical experiment: no demos at all, but instead a long list of the nearly 200 startups in its Winter 2020 batch, with links to their sites and one-page slides. We’ve done the legwork for you in giving you a full rundown of who does what, and we have also come togetheru00a0on a group video chat on Zoom to talk through our takeaways of the format this year (missed it? here’s the recording). Now, in no particular order, here is our shortlist of some of our overall favorites.

n

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With world events overtaking the tech world’s preferences to meet for coffees and convene at events, Y Combinator skipped its famous two-day live Demo event and went for a radical experiment: no demos at all, but instead a long list of the nearly 200 startups in its Winter 2020 batch, with links to their sites […]

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Escher”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/anna-escher/”,”slug”:”anna-escher”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/annaescher”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/pub/anna-escher/47/963/108″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/anna-escher”},”position”:”Audience Development Manager”,”cbDescription”:”

Anna Escher manages Audience Development at TechCrunch.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/lyfr7m0cx4dnzkn5rrte”,”twitter”:”annaescher”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/23450179″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:1603003,”name”:”Josh Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”},”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:699688,”name”:”Brian Heater”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/brian-heater/”,”slug”:”brian-heater”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb77d830ad404e16ee7a4c7000b5f49d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/bheater”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-heater/1/a92/94″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/brian-heater”},”position”:”Hardware Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Brian Heater is the Hardware Editor at TechCrunch. He worked for a number of leading tech publications, including Engadget, PCMag, Laptop, and Tech Times, where he served as the Managing Editor. His writing has appeared in Spin, Wired, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast and various other publications. He hosts the weekly Boing Boing interview podcast RiYL, has appeared as a regular NPR contributor and shares his Queens apartment with a rabbit named Lucy.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1461345979/xynitsmpgmmobpekzxkg.jpg”,”twitter”:”bheater”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/699688″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:5188242,”name”:”Greg Kumparak”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/greg-kumparak/”,”slug”:”greg-kumparak”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.kumparak.com”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/grg”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/greg-kumparak”},”position”:”Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Greg Kumparak is an editor at TechCrunch.

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Greg started at TechCrunch in May of 2008. He led TechCrunch’s sister site MobileCrunch as editor until AOL acquired the company in 2010, at which point the editors of TechCrunch’s four main sites (TechCrunch, CrunchGear, MobileCrunch, TechCrunch UK) merged the sites under one domain.

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Best known for his gadget coverage, Kumparak has broken hundreds of stories within the space u2014 unearthing details on everything from abandoned Samsung smartphone prototypes to new Apple devices. He’s also one of the Internet’s most prolific “live bloggers”, having reported from the scene at dozens of international events for live audiences in the hundreds of thousands.

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He was one of the earliest writers to highlight and report on a number of companies that have since become “unicorns” (reaching a valuation of $1B or more), including Zenefits and Twilio.

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Kumparak is a frequent guest on TechCrunch’s Gadget, Apple, and Android podcasts, and often appears on stage as an interviewer or judge at TechCrunch’s meetups and Disrupt conferences.

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In 2012, Greg was featured on the BBC, Wired, Mashable, Engadget and many other outlets for a side project he called the “tARdis”, or the Augmented Reality TARDIS. By combining augmented reality with a handmade physical model, Greg was able to replicate the otherwise physically impossible “bigger on the inside” visual effect that commonly appears on television’s Doctor Who series.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1397184689/d45c9b9b954bcc0a697dae821253a36b.png”,”twitter”:”grg”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/5188242″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:13119829,”name”:”Ingrid Lunden”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/ingrid-lunden/”,”slug”:”ingrid-lunden”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/ingridlunden”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/ingridlunden”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/ingridlunden”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/ingrid-lunden”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Ingrid is a writer and editor for TechCrunch, joining February 2012, based out of London.

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Before TechCrunch, Ingrid worked at paidContent.org, where she was a staff writer, and has in the past also written freelance regularly for other publications such as the Financial Times. Ingrid covers mobile, digital media, advertising and the spaces where these intersect.

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When it comes to work, she feels most comfortable speaking in English but can also speak Russian, Spanish and French (in descending order of competence).

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1421351035/tbebbexwnizrc5qurxt4.jpg”,”twitter”:”ingridlunden”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/13119829″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:133574362,”name”:”Natasha Mascarenhas”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/natasha-mascarenhas/”,”slug”:”natasha-mascarenhas”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/nmasc_”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/natasha-mascarenhas-734f”},”position”:null,”cbDescription”:”

Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

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Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/x9fberhwpqwxusvvlxfj”,”twitter”:”nmasc_”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574362″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:89192944,”name”:”Lucas Matney”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/lucas-matney/”,”slug”:”lucas-matney”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/lucasmtny”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucasmatney/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/lucas-matney”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Lucas Matney is a reporter at TechCrunch and has been covering emerging technologies and startups since 2015. He lives in San Francisco and can be reached via email at lucas@techcrunch.com

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/h5eslbyb5f1hwstm1wrt”,”twitter”:”lucasmtny”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/89192944″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:1461024,”name”:”Alex Wilhelm”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/alex-wilhelm/”,”description”:”Alex Wilhelm is the editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News and co-host of Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast.”,”slug”:”alex-wilhelm”,”links”:{“facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/alex.wilhelm”,”twitter”:”http://twitter.com/alex”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexwilhelm/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/alex-wilhelm”},”position”:”Contributor”,”cbDescription”:”

Alex Wilhelm is Senior Editor at TechCrunch. He previously worked for Crunchbase News as Editor in Chief as well as The Next Web, TechCrunch, and Mattermark.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/icctnaiqcee3bzwdc4fr”,”twitter”:”alex”}],”author”:[{“id”:23450179,”name”:”Anna Escher”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/anna-escher/”,”slug”:”anna-escher”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d05e13c21f96d9b303b2b6001ef12dfd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/annaescher”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/pub/anna-escher/47/963/108″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/anna-escher”},”position”:”Audience Development Manager”,”cbDescription”:”

Anna Escher manages Audience Development at TechCrunch.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/lyfr7m0cx4dnzkn5rrte”,”twitter”:”annaescher”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/23450179″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“id”:1870908,”date”:”2019-08-19T17:27:10″,”slug”:”yc-logo02″,”type”:”attachment”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/19/all-84-startups-from-y-combinators-s19-demo-day-1/yc-logo02/”,”title”:{“rendered”:”yc-logo02″},”author”:89192944,”license”:””,”authors”:[89192944],”caption”:{“rendered”:”

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Google is expanding the feature set for its Advanced Protection Program, a security offering that helps safeguard Google Accounts of those at risk for targeted attacks — like politicians, journalists, activists, business leaders and others. The program already provides an increased level of protection for these accounts by limiting access to data, blocking fraudulent account access, supporting the use of physical security keys and more. Today, Google is adding new malware protections to the program, as well.

n

For starters, those enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program will have Google Play Protect automatically enabled. This is Google’s built-in malware protection for Android that’s currently used to scan and verify 100 billion apps per day, Google notes. The system uses machine learning to automatically scan users’ devices and apps to check for harmful behavior and potential security issues. Now, this will be enabled for Advanced Protection Program members and will not be able to be shut off.

n

The program will also now limit users’ ability to install apps from outside the Play Store, where apps are now scanned for malware before approval. Those from outside the store can present a greater risk. Google will now prevent the download of non-Play Store apps on any devices enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program, with a few exceptions. Users will be able to install non-Play Store apps through other third-party app stores that may have shipped on your device from the device manufacturer. Others can be installed through the developer tool Android Debug Bridge. However, Google says non-Play Store apps that have already been installed won’t be removed and can continue to be updated.

n

Google launched its Advanced Protection Program in fall 2017, as an opt-in option for those who believe they’re at increased risk of online attacks. The program focuses on defending against phishing, locking down malicious apps, and fending off hackers. The trade-off is reduced convenience as there are additional steps to take during authentication and more limitations on what can be done. But the result is a safer, and free, way to increase the security of your account and device.

n

The new added protections will roll out gradually to accounts enrolled in the Advanced Protection Program on Android devices, to be later this year followed by new malware protections for Chrome, Google says. However, G Suite users won’t get these new protections now — instead, they’re offered through endpoint management, which helps secure devices belonging to mobile workforces.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Google is expanding the feature set for its Advanced Protection Program, a security offering that helps safeguard Google Accounts of those at risk for targeted attacks — like politicians, journalists, activists, business leaders and others. The program already provides an increased level of protection for these accounts by limiting access to data, blocking fraudulent account […]

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Sarah currently works as a writer for TechCrunch, after having previously spent over three years at ReadWriteWeb. Prior to her work as a reporter, Sarah worked in I.T. across a number of industries, including banking, retail and software.

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Sarah currently works as a writer for TechCrunch, after having previously spent over three years at ReadWriteWeb. Prior to her work as a reporter, Sarah worked in I.T. across a number of industries, including banking, retail and software.

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KRAKOW, POLAND – 2018/12/18: Google logo is seen on an android mobile phone. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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