Steve Case and Clara Sieg on how the COVID-19 crisis differs from the dot-com bust

Steve Case and Clara Sieg of Revolution recently spoke on TechCrunch’s new series, Extra Crunch Live. Throughout the hour-long chat, we touched on numerous subjects, including how diverse founders can take advantage during this downturn and how remote work may lead to growth outside Silicon Valley. The two have a unique vantage point, with Steve Case, co-founder and former CEO of AOL turned VC, and Clara Sieg, a Stanford-educated VC heading up Revolution’s Silicon Valley office.

Together, Case and Sieg laid out how the current crisis is different from the dot-com bust of the late nineties. Because of the differences, their outlook is bullish on the tech sector’s ability to pull through.

And for everyone who couldn’t join us live, the full video replay is embedded below. (You can get access here if you need it.)

Case said that during the run-up to the dot-com bust, it was a different environment.

“When we got started at AOL, which was back in 1985, the internet didn’t exist yet,” Case said. “I think 3% of people were online or online an hour a week. And it took us a decade to get going. By the year 2000, which is sort of the peak of AOL’s success, we had about half of all the U.S. internet traffic, and the market value soared. That’s when suddenly, when any company with a dot-com name was getting funded. Many were going public without even having much in the way of revenues. That’s not we’re dealing with now.”

Thriva raises £4M from Target in an era when at-home blood testing is more crucial than ever

Thriva emerged in 2016 as an at-home blood-testing startup allowing people to check, for instance, cholesterol levels. In the era of a pandemic, however, at-home blood testing is about to become quite a big deal, alongside the general trend toward people proactively taking control of their health.

It has secured a £4 million extension to its Series A funding round from Berlin-based VC Target Global . The investment takes Thriva’s total funding to £11 million. The investment comes from Target Global’s new Early Stage Fund II and will top up the £6 million Series A raised in 2019. Existing investors include Guinness Asset Management and Pembroke VCT.

Thriva has processed more than 115,000 at-home blood tests since 2016. Interestingly, these customers actually use the information to improve their health, with 76% of Thriva users achieving an improvement in at least one of their biomarkers between tests.

The startup has also launched personalized health plans and high-quality supplements, scaling up its partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Founded by Hamish Grierson, Eliot Brooks and Tom Livesey, it claims to be growing 100% year-on-year and has expanded its team to 50 members in the company’s London headquarters.

In a statement Grierson said: “As the world faces unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, we have all been forced to view our health, and our mortality, in a new light.”

Speaking to TechCrunch he added: “While there are other at-home testing companies, we don’t see them as directly competitive. Thriva isn’t a testing company. Our at-home blood tests are an important data point but they’re just the beginning of the long-term relationships we’re creating with our customers. To deliver on our mission of putting better health in your hands, we not only help people to keep track of what’s really happening inside their bodies, we actually help them to make positive changes that they can see the effects of over time.”

Dr. Ricardo Schäfer, partner at Target Global said: “When we first met the team behind Thriva, we were immediately hooked by their mission to allow people to take health into their own hands.”

Daily Crunch: Facebook embraces remote work

Facebook takes more steps to support and expand a remote workforce, IBM announces layoffs and TechCrunch’s big annual conference is going virtual. (I know, I know — I have mixed feelings about it, too.)

Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 22, 2020.

1. Facebook makes big remote work moves with plan for new hubs in Dallas, Denver and Atlanta

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimated that over the course of the next decade, half of the company could be working fully remotely. As the next step toward that goal, Facebook will be setting up new company hubs in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta.

For Menlo Park employees looking for greener pastures, there’s one sizable catch. Starting on January 1 of next year, the company will localize all salaries, which means scaling compensation to the local cost of living.

2. IBM confirms layoffs are happening, but won’t provide details

IBM isn’t sharing details, but analyst Patrick Moorhead said. “I’m hearing it’s a balancing act between business units. IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud.”

3. TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 is going virtual

As you can imagine, this is largely due to the impact that the coronavirus has had on the world. But it also gives us a chance to make our event even more accessible to more people than ever before, and Disrupt will now stretch over five days — September 14-18.

4. Netflix to start cancelling inactive customers’ subscriptions

Netflix said it will ask customers who have not watched anything in a year or more if they want to maintain their subscription. If it doesn’t hear back, it will cancel their membership.

5. API startups are so hot right now

Alex Wilhelm looks at FalconX, Treasury Prime, Spruce, Daily.co, Skyflow and Evervault — all API-focused startups that are experiencing some early success. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Magic Leap has apparently raised another $350 million, in spite of itself

Magic Leap has reportedly received a $350 million lifeline, a month after slashing 1,000 jobs and dropping its consumer business. Noted by Business Insider and confirmed by The Information, CEO Rony Abovitz sent a note to staff announcing the funding, courtesy of unnamed current and new investors.

7. Cake brings a Swedish take on e-motorcycle design to the US

The Stockholm-based mobility startup’s debut, the Kalk OR, is a 150-pound, battery-powered two-wheeler engineered for agile off-road riding and available in a street-legal version.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

HomeKit Weekly: Is Netatmo the best indoor camera for HomeKit Secure Video?

When 2020 started, I didn’t have a single camera in my HomeKit setup, but as the year as gone on, I’ve been picking up cameras left and right. After deploying multiple eufyCameras around the exterior of my house, I turned my attention to covering parts of the interior of my house. While HomeKit Secure Video is essential for outside of the house, it’s required for the inside of my house. It’s one thing for a company to have views on the outside of my house, but only I want to be able to see what’s going on inside my house. End to end encryption is required for any indoor cameras that I use in my house. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out the Netatmo Indoor Camera with HomeKit Secure Video. more…

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Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad $100 off in today’s best deals, plus iPhones from $130, more

Today’s best deals include notable iPad discounts during the Best Buy Memorial Day sale, plus a discount on Apple’s iPhones, and AirPods get another price drop. Hit the jump for the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

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How to call a function in Python

In the last post introducing Python, I demonstrated how to make a simple app using variables and conditional statements. In order to do anything really powerful in a given programming language though, you need to understand functions! In this post, we’ll discuss the Python function call.

What is a Python function call?

Before we look at how to call a function in Python, we first need to familiarize ourselves with the concept.

Also read: Best online Python courses

Functions are used throughout programming as a way to group certain tasks together. This becomes useful in a variety of circumstances, particularly when a repetitive task needs to be carried out multiple times.

Functions are used throughout programming as a way to group certain tasks together.

For example, if you built an app that drew hundreds of triangles on the screen to generate a kaleidoscopic effect, you could do this in one of two ways:

  • Without functions: by repeatedly writing the code to draw a triangle with.
  • With a Python function call: by generating lots of coordinates and feeding them to your “draw triangle” function.

The latter is far more efficient, requires less code, and is generally the preferred method. Not only that, but if you ever decide you want to draw squares instead of triangles; you could change just a few lines of code and the entire output would be different!

One more benefit of using functions is that they are modular and portable. If you write another program with a triangle in it, you can just copy and paste your triangle code wholesale!

Python call function example

Here is an extremely simple example of a Python function that will print “Hello World!” onto the screen:

def HelloPrint():

    print("Hello World!")

    return;

HelloPrint()

That is how to define a function in Python and call it!

The function here is called HelloPrint. First we “define” this function with the def statement, then we place any code we want to be a part of it directly beneath. The return statement simply instructs the interpreter to return to whatever point in the code it was at before it carried out the function.

Note that I’ve capitalized each word in my function name. This is a good practice as it helps to distinguish a Python function call from statements.

Now, any time we want to say “Hello World!” we can simple write HelloPrint() and it will happen!

For example:

def HelloPrint():

    print("Hello World!")

    return;

HelloPrint()

HelloPrint()

Run this code and you’ll now see the “Hello World!” message appear twice!

Because this code is grouped separately, it won’t run until you use the Python function call. That also means that this code will do the precise same thing:

def HelloPrint():

    print("Hello World!")

    return;

HelloPrint()

HelloPrint()

This also means you should be able to figure out how to call a function from another function:

def GreetingsPrint():

    print("Hello World!")

    NiceDayToday()

    return;

def NiceDayToday():

    print(“Nice day today, isn’t it!”)

    return;

GreetingsPrint()

And that, in a nutshell, is how to call a function in Python! But we still haven’t tapped into the real power of Python functions yet!

How to pass information to a Python function call

While functions are useful for performing repetitive tasks, their real power lies in the ability to give and receive data. This is what those little brackets are for: they allow us to call a function in Python while also passing in data.

For example, the following code will say “Hello Adam”:

def SayHello(Name):

    print(“Hello ” + Name)

    return;

SayHello(“Adam”)

This is means that the same function can perform slightly different actions depending on the variables we give it.

How to manipulate data

Even more useful though, is the ability of a function to transform data.

To do this, we need to pass information into the function, perform an action, and then return that information.

Here’s one way that we might perform this with a Python functional call:

def Multiplier(Number):

    return = Number * 10;

print(Multiplier(5))

Here, the output will be “50” because the number 5 is passed with the Python function call, which returns that value multiplied by 10. Notice how we can write the Python function call just as though it were the name of an integer itself. This allows for very rapid and flexible coding!

There are countless ways we can use this feature. Here is another little example that requires just three lines of code:

def Counter(Name):

    return len(Name);

NamePlease = input("Name length counter! Enter your full name ")

print(Counter(NamePlease))

This little app is a “name length counter.” This uses the len statement from Python, which returns an integer based on the length of a string. So, this fun app can tell you how many characters are in your name!

That’s including spaces but hey, no one is perfect.

Now you know how to use a Python function call! This opens up a world of possibilities, but don’t stop there!

COVID-19: How do Apple Store procedures compare to other leading retailers?

On May 17, Apple detailed its retail store response to COVID-19 in an open letter written by SVP of Retail + People Deirdre O’Brien. The letter spoke of a commitment to care for store teams, customers, and communities. Apple has been recognized as an early leader in its actions to create a safe store environment. How does its response compare to other top retailers?

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Judge rules federal officials just checking your lock screen counts as a search

This week, a judge made an interesting ruling that could have long-term effects on how law enforcement officials can search your smartphone. The judge essentially ruled that a lock screen search — i.e., powering on your device and looking at what’s on the lock screen — constitutes a full search of the device. As such, that would require a warrant.

You can read the ruling in question here (via Ars Technica).

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can yell out “that’s unconstitutional” if a police officer glances at your phone’s display. This ruling is simply clarifying that if a law enforcement official needs a warrant to search through your phone then it also needs a warrant to gather information from a lock screen search, considering that is also a search of your phone.

One could, of course, try to argue that the lock screen is “public” information since there’s no protection: anyone can hit the power button and look at it. This judge, though, doesn’t see it that way, which means more protection for you.

Related: Is selling your privacy for a cheaper phone really a good idea?

Keep in mind, though, that this lock screen search limitation won’t apply to all scenarios. For example, police officers performing an arrest would be able to look at your lock screen and not violate your Fourth Amendment rights, since an active arrest is very different than a federal investigation. In this specific case, though, the FBI accessed the lock screen of a suspect’s phone well after the arrest had been made, which the judge says did violate his Fourth Amendment rights.

Finally, it should also be clarified that this doesn’t mean that all federal investigations will need a warrant for a lock screen search. This judge’s ruling simply sets a precedent and a good legal team can now reference it to defend their clients if that client has been in a similar situation.

Regardless, though, it’s always nice to see a judge falling on the side of privacy and security, rather than the other side of the fence.

More posts about Privacy

Strategies for surviving the COVID-19 Series B squeeze

A generation of companies now needs to forget what it has learned. The world has changed for everyone, and nowhere is this more true than in fundraising.

I’ve been investing in technology companies for over twenty years, and I’ve seen how venture capitalists respond in bull and bear markets. I’ve supported companies through the downturns that followed the dot-com bubble and the global financial crisis, and witnessed how founders adapt to the new environment. This current pandemic is no different.

A growth company that only a few months ago was shopping for a $20 million, $30 million, or even $40 million Series B, with a choice of potential investors, must now acknowledge that the shelves may well have emptied.

VCs who were assessing potential new deals at the beginning of the year have had to abruptly adjust their focus: Q1 venture activity in Europe was under its 2019 average, and the figures for the coming months are likely to be much worse as the pipeline empties of deals that were already in progress.

The simple reason for this is that VCs are having to rapidly reallocate their two principal assets: time and capital. More time has to be spent stitching together deals for portfolio companies in need of fresh funding, with little support from outside money. As a result, funds will be putting more capital behind their existing companies, reducing the pool for new investments.

Added to those factors is uncertainty about pricing. VCs take their lead on valuation from the public markets, which have plummeted in tech, as elsewhere. The SEG index of listed SaaS stocks was down 26% year-to-date as of late March. With more pain likely ahead, few investors are going to commit to valuations that founders will accept until there is more certainty that the worst is behind us. A gap will open between newly cautious investors and founders unwilling to bear haircuts up to 50%, dramatic increases in dilution and even the prospect of down rounds. It will likely take quarters — not weeks — for that gulf to be bridged and for many deals to become possible again.

9to5Mac Happy Hour 278: iOS 13.5 release, iPhone 12 EarPods, Apple TV+ back catalog

Benjamin and Zac unpack the release of iOS 13.5 and the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API app adoption, Apple Watch 2020 Pride bands and faces, Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction that iPhone 12 won’t include EarPods in the box, Apple TV+ potentially buying a back catalog of content, a new Tom Hanks film coming to the service, and much more.

Subscribe to receive new episodes every Friday: 🟣 Apple Podcasts 🟠 Overcast 🟢 Spotify


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