TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 is going virtual

The headline says it all. TechCrunch’s big yearly event, Disrupt, is going fully virtual in 2020. 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 we’re incredibly excited about that. And Disrupt will stretch over five days — September 14-18 — in order to make it easier for everyone to take in all the amazing programming. 

This is a daunting and intense task for all of us, but we’re also insanely excited by the challenge. We know how to make great in-person events. Now, the rules are re-written and we get the chance to set that same high standard in the virtual events space.

This is a challenging time for the industry that we cover relentlessly. There are massive risks, and massive opportunities for companies, investors and entrepreneurs. That’s what this Disrupt will be all about, helping you to understand our new realities in order to build hardy, innovative companies that not only weather this storm, but flourish.

Some of the companies that were founded during the last financial crisis or in its aftermath include Uber, Slack, Pinterest, Airbnb, Square, Instagram and Stripe. We’ll look at lessons from those companies and founders, and talk to investors about what they’re looking for from the startups of the future.

Our job now is to build a stellar virtual experience for speakers, sponsors, attendees and, most importantly, the startups that depend on Disrupt. Just like at our physical events, you will be able to meet investors, bring your innovative products to market and connect with media. You will be able to check out hundreds of startups, listen to and interact with some of the most important people in the startup world and attend virtual networking events. You will be able to build new partnerships, talk about your programs and build awareness of what you’re making. 

One of the things we’re most excited about is that anyone from anywhere around the globe can join us in a virtual event. And, because of this, we expect this to be one of the largest and most diverse events in Disrupt history. 

Entrepreneurs from around the world have always gathered at Disrupt, but now the barriers to attend will be lower than ever. Great companies from San Francisco to Seoul can participate in the Startup Battlefield competition this year, making it more possible than ever for us to gather the most incredibly interesting companies together with no geographic or logistical restrictions.

When 2020 began, we didn’t expect to be taking on such a big project this year. But the truth is, we’re ready. As news of the true spread of the coronavirus broke, the TechCrunch team began taking action. We launched Extra Crunch Live, delivering virtual events with guests like Aileen Lee, Kirsten Green, Mark Cuban, Charles Hudson and Roelof Botha. We’re taking our learnings there and applying them to the programming of our two virtual stages at Disrupt. 

We launched the Disrupt Digital Pro Pass that offers live stream and video on demand access to all of the programming, great targeted networking opportunities, access to Startup Alley and access to our sponsors. We’ve launched virtual sponsorship options that will give our partners the opportunity to build their brand, deliver their content, network with interesting people and develop the critical relationships that will help their businesses thrive. 

Disrupt’s dates are coming up fast (September 14-18th, 2020) so register as soon as you can. 

Stepping off this ledge is one of the scariest and yet most thrilling things we’ve ever done at TechCrunch and we’re really glad that we have an audience that knows exactly how that feels. 

Thank you, and we’ll see you at the first-ever TechCrunch Disrupt online.


Joey Hinson, Director of Operations

Matthew Panzarino, Editor in Chief

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

In a live-streamed town hall, Mark Zuckerberg gave an overview for what he expects in the near future as Facebook pursues accommodations to keep workers productive and safe during the COVID-19 crisis. The move comes as large tech companies reassess the viability of their iconic Silicon Valley campuses, now empty as the pandemic keeps most employees at home.

Part of Zuckerberg’s vision, announced Thursday, includes the surprise announcement that Facebook will be setting up new company hubs in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta. Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook will focus on finding new hires in areas near its existing offices, looking to cities like San Diego, Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Facebook CEO estimated that over the course of the next decade, half of the company could be working fully remotely.

Zuckerberg also elaborated on what kinds of roles would and would not be eligible for all-remote work, noting that positions in divisions like hardware development, data centers, recruiting, policy and partnerships would not be able to shift away from a physical office due to their need for proximity.

“When you limit hiring to people who live in a small number of big cities, or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, have different backgrounds, have different perspectives,” Zuckerberg said.

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, scaling compensation to the cost of living in the enclaves Facebook employees may soon find themselves scattered to.

Enjoy some 4K TV with your nature on Samsung’s new outdoor sets

Like most of us, you’ve probably been stuck inside for months now. Sitting around, pacing your home, watching a lot of bad television. Would anything possibly be better than finally getting some time outdoors to commune with nature and catch a little ultra high-def television?

Up to now, outdoor sets have largely been the realm of specialty companies with names like SunBriteTV. Now Samsung’s getting in on the decidedly niche category, with the Terrace line. The sets also sport a fairly niche price tag, starting at $3,499 for the 55-inch model and going up to $6,499 for the 75-inch.

The lofty price tag gets you IP55 weather proofing, against the inevitable water and dust. The 2160p screen is an extremely bright 2000 nits — designed to be bright enough to watch in the sunlight. It’s got all of the necessary ports, but Samsung’s largely focused on wireless connectivity, so users (well, installers) only have to plug it into a power source. There’s also a separate Terrace sound bar that also carries the IP55 rating. That’s going to run you an additional $1,200 to complete the set up.

Maybe it’s just me, being grumpy and slightly unhinged from being stuck inside a New York apartment for months on end, but the last thing I want to do upon leaving the apartment is watch TV. Granted, this pandemic is starting to get to me. If you’ve got the inclination, outdoor space and several grand to spend, Samsung’s got you.

Bloomberg: Apple seeking new boss for original podcasts effort, plans TV+ tie-ins

Following Spotify’s acquisition of The Joe Rogan Experience earlier this week, a new report from Bloomberg today details Apple’s own plans to ramp up its focus on podcasts. The report explains that part of Apple’s goal is to help promote its Apple TV+ service.

more…

The post Bloomberg: Apple seeking new boss for original podcasts effort, plans TV+ tie-ins appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Instagram adds Messenger Rooms support for up to 50 people, here’s how it works

Instagram is the latest of Facebook’s services to gain support for its new group video chat feature, Messenger Rooms. Follow along for a look at how it works…

more…

The post Instagram adds Messenger Rooms support for up to 50 people, here’s how it works appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Samsung unveils ‘Terrace’ 4K outdoor smart TV with Apple TV and AirPlay 2

Samsung has launched its latest product today that sees its QLED Smart TV series expand outside. The new Terrace 4K outdoor TV comes with an IP55 dust and water resistance rating, a bright enough screen to enjoy content even in direct sunlight as well as Apple TV, iTunes, Apple Music, and AirPlay 2 integration.

more…

The post Samsung unveils ‘Terrace’ 4K outdoor smart TV with Apple TV and AirPlay 2 appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Google highlights accessible locations with new Maps feature

Google has announced a new, welcome and no doubt long asked-for feature to its Maps app: wheelchair accessibility info. Businesses and points of interest featuring accessible entrances, bathrooms and other features will now be prominently marked as such.

Millions, of course, require such accommodations as ramps or automatic doors, from people with limited mobility to people with strollers or other conveyances. Google has been collecting information on locations’ accessibility for a couple years, and this new setting puts it front and center.

The company showed off the feature in a blog post for Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To turn it on, users can go to the “Settings” section of the Maps app, then “Accessibility settings,” then toggle on “Accessible places.”

This will cause any locations searched for or tapped on to display a small wheelchair icon if they have accessible facilities. Drilling down into the details where you find the address and hours will show exactly what’s available. Unfortunately it doesn’t indicate the location of those resources (helpful if someone is trying to figure out where to get dropped off, for instance), but knowing there’s an accessible entrance or restroom at all is a start.

The information isn’t automatically created or sourced from blueprints or anything — like so much on Google, it comes from you, the user. Any registered user can note the presence of accessible facilities the way they’d note things like in-store pickup or quick service. Just go to “About” in a location’s description and hit the “Describe this place” button at the bottom.

Adobe Premiere Pro beta gains Apple Afterburner Card support on Mac Pro

After recently adding native support for ProRes RAW in Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Media Encoder, Adobe has added support for Apple’s Afterburner card in beta builds of Premiere Pro.

As noted by MacRumors, the Apple Afterburner Card will accelerate ProRes 4444 and ProRes 422 video codec decoding in Adobe’s NLE, supplementing other hardware to aid performance. ProRes RAW acceleration is not yet available in the beta. more…

The post Adobe Premiere Pro beta gains Apple Afterburner Card support on Mac Pro appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Virtual events startup Run The World just nabbed $10.8 million from a16z and Founders Fund

Run The World, a year-old startup that’s based in Mountain View, Calif., and has small teams both in China and Taiwan, just nabbed $10.8 million in Series A funding co-led by earlier backer Andreessen Horowitz and new backer Founders Fund.

It’s easy to understand the firms’ interest in the company, whose platform features every functionality that a conference organizer might need in a time of a pandemic and even afterward, given that many outfits are rethinking more permanently how to produce events that include far-flung participants. Think video conferencing, ticketing, interactivity and networking.

We’d written about the startup a few months ago as it was launching with $4.3 million in seed funding led by Andreessen partner Connie Chan, who was joined by a slew of other seed-stage backers, including Pear Ventures, GSR Ventures and Unanimous Capital. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current climate, Run The World has received a fair amount of traction since, according to co-founder and CEO Xiaoyin Qu, who’d previously led products for both Facebook and Instagram.

“Since we launched in February — and waived all set-up fees for events impacted by the coronavirus — we are receiving hundreds of inbound event requests each day,” Qu says. More specifically, she says the startup has doubled the size of its core team to 30 employees and enabled organizers from a wide variety of countries to oversee more than 2,000 events at this point.

Qu says that a lot of event planners who’ve used Zoom to run webinars are now choosing Run The World instead because of its focus on engagement and social features. For example, attendees to an event on the platform are invited to create a video profile akin to an Instagram Story that can help inform other attendees about who they are. It also organizes related “cocktail parties,” where it can match attendees for several minutes at a time, and attendees can choose who they want to follow up with afterward.

That heavy focus on social networking isn’t accidental. Qu met her co-founder, Xuan Jiang, at Facebook, where Jiang was a technical lead for Facebook events, ads and stories.

Of course, Run The World — which takes 25% of ticket sales in exchange for everything from the templates used, to ticket sales, to payment processing and streaming and so forth — still has very stiff competition in Zoom. The nine-year-old company has seen adoption by consumers soar since February, with 300 million daily meeting participants using the service as of April’s end.

Not only is it hard to overcome that kind of network effect, but Run The World is hardly alone in trying to steer event organizers its way. Earlier this week, for example, Bevy, an events software business co-founded by the founder of the events series Startup Grind, announced it has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Accel. Other young online events platforms to similarly raise venture backing in recent months include London-based Hopin (whose recent round was also led by Accel, interestingly) and Paris-based Eventmaker.

Still, the fresh funding should help. While Run The World has grown “entirely organically through word of mouth” to date, says Qu, the startup plans to grow its team and will presumably start spending at least a bit on marketing.

It could well get a boost on this last front by its social media-savvy investors.

In addition to a16z and Founders Fund, numerous other backers in its Series A include Will Smith’s Dreamers VC and Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Capital.

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.

The who — and more importantly, why — isn’t clear. A key healthcare company may be involved. Whatever the case, the company is withdrawing the WARN notice (a 60-day notification for large-scale layoffs) sent to staff in late April. The move represents an apparent reversal of the massive layoff round it previously announced.

In spite of the change, it seems that the lavishly funded augmented reality company still plans to turn all of its focus to the enterprise, as previously announced — a move that puts it in more direct competition with the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“We are making very good progress in our healthcare, enterprise, and defense deals,” Abovitz writes. “As these deals close, we will be able to announce them.”

Magic Leap cited COVID-19 as a key reason for April’s news. But the company wasn’t exactly the picture of consumer hardware success prior to the shutdown. In spite of raising an eye-popping $2.6 billion across nine rounds, the company’s early days were defined far more by hype than public progress. After years of teaser videos, its first device ultimately left much to be desired.

We’re reached out to the company for comment.