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This Hubble photo might be its best ever
hubble jupiter
  • The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an absolutely stunning image of Jupiter.
  • The image shows a multitude of storms and even the icy moon Europa hanging out in the background.
  • Jupiter's storms are going through significant changes, and scientists can't explain why.

The Hubble Space Telescope may be getting old, but it still manages to capture some of the most gorgeous images of the cosmos that mankind has ever laid eyes on. Now, it's set its powerful sights on Jupiter and the resulting image is, well, one of its best photos ever, and that's saying a lot.

The image has everything you'd want from a snapshot of our system's mighty gas giant. There's the Great Red Spot, the smaller white spot, an all-new storm that is new to scientists, the turbulent swirling gasses, and even a photobomb from Europa hanging out int he background. It's just plain perfect.

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Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

This Hubble photo might be its best ever originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 20:08:22 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

The iPhone 12 might not be as cheap as the iPhone 11, new leak claims
iPhone 12 Price
  • Some iPhone 12 price rumors claim the cheapest 5G iPhone will match the $699 iPhone 11, but newer reports say that’s not realistic.
  • An insider from China says the bill of materials for the iPhone 12 is nearly $50 higher compared to the iPhone 11 due to various hardware upgrades, including the 5G modem and OLED screen.
  • A recent leak also said that the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 will be priced at $749 and that the new iPhones will not ship will free accessories in the box.

The first wave of 5G smartphones last year showed us that we’d have to pay extra to test the next-generation of mobile communication. A year later, smartphone vendors have started making more affordable 5G handsets, and 5G coverage has improved. But 5G phones are still expensive to make. Samsung proved that with the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 series, which lack affordable versions. Google is even said to have hamstrung the Pixel 5 because the Snapdragon 865 processor was too costly.

When it comes to the iPhone 12 series, most reports seem to be suggesting that the cheapest versions of the phone would be at least as affordable as the iPhone 11, despite featuring 5G connectivity. But a new leak from China indicates that Apple might not be able to afford to keep the entry-level price at $699.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

The iPhone 12 might not be as cheap as the iPhone 11, new leak claims originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 19:06:45 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Bill Gates thinks Trump’s travel bans might have sped up the COVID-19 pandemic
Bill Gates
  • In an interview airing with President Trump's favorite TV network this weekend, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tells Fox News' Chris Wallace that Trump's travel bans earlier this year might have actually worsened the coronavirus pandemic.
  • That's because the bans created a rush from arriving travelers that the US wasn't prepared for from a coronavirus testing standpoint, for example.
  • President Trump repeatedly touts the implementation of the travel bans on the campaign trail as one of his administration's most impactful steps taken in response to the pandemic.

Given how hard the US has been hit so far during the coronavirus pandemic -- with more than 6.7 million cases having been recorded in the US, along with almost 200,000 deaths, per the team at Johns Hopkins University -- it's to be expected that his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden is hitting President Trump hard and repeatedly on the campaign trail for the administration's response to the virus. Among the actions Trump officials took in response to the virus was the launch of Operation Warp Speed, which Trump himself highlights repeatedly as the kind of Manhattan Project-style marshaling of resources to bring a coronavirus vaccine to fruition as quickly as possible.

Another of the steps Trump approved in the early days of the pandemic is something else he touts often on the campaign trail -- his implementation of travel bans, shutting the US border to visitors from both China, where the COVID-19 virus originated, as well as Europe. Those bans saved lives, the president tells crowds over and over again -- while, in a new interview airing this weekend on the president's favorite TV network Fox News, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates counters that they may actually have had the opposite effect.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

Bill Gates thinks Trump’s travel bans might have sped up the COVID-19 pandemic originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 18:21:39 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Leaked images of Google’s new Chromecast reveal a true Apple TV rival
Google Chromecast leak
  • Google plans to announce a new Chromecast streaming device on September 30th.
  • Leaks of the device (codenamed "Sabrina") have been popping up for months, but the latest leaked renders appear to give us a look at Google's final design.
  • The remote for Google's new Chromecast has dedicated buttons for YouTube and Netflix.

While Apple, Amazon, and Roku were all releasing standalone streaming media players, Google was content with asking us to stick a dongle in our TV that could connect to the apps on our phone, tablet, or computer. Chromecast has always been an intriguing outlier, but recent leaks have revealed that Google is working on a media player that could finally rival the likes of the Apple TV and Fire TV, and we got our best look at it yet this week.

On Friday, WinFuture published a series of purported press renders that show off the new Chromecast (codenamed "Sabrina") and its remote. As expected, the device itself is similar in shape and in size to previous Chromecast HDMI dongles, though slightly larger and a bit more oblong. Other than that, it looks like a Chromecast, and shouldn't take up too much room behind or on the side of your TV. But what we're really interested in is the remote.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

Leaked images of Google’s new Chromecast reveal a true Apple TV rival originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 17:36:34 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Mother Nature delayed SpaceX’s most recent launch attempt
spacex launch delay
  • SpaceX was forced to delay the launch of yet another batch of Starlink satellites after rough seas were reported in the recovery area.
  • The company's drone ships are capable of dealing with turbulent seas, but the current was simply too strong this time.
  • A new launch date has yet to be announced.

SpaceX has had a busy year of launches, and many of them have included the company's own Starlink satellites. The satellites will eventually form a communications network around the Earth, but it's going to take a lot of them for the network to be as powerful as SpaceX wants it to be. This week was supposed to feature yet another Starlink launch but, as is sometimes the case, Mother Nature decided to shut things down.

The weather for the launch, which was slated to take place either September 17th or 18th, isn't actually all that bad. However, it's not just the weather at the launch site that SpaceX has to worry about, and since the seas where its drone ship would position itself to recover the Falcon 9 booster are rough, the whole thing has to be postponed.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

Mother Nature delayed SpaceX’s most recent launch attempt originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 16:51:13 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Every iPhone browser you can set as the default in iOS 14
iOS 14 default browsers
  • Apple rolled out iOS 14 to the public on Wednesday, September 16th.
  • iOS 14 includes a number of new features and improvements, including the ability to set a third-party app as the default browser on your iPhone, such as Chrome, Firefox, DuckDuckGo, and Edge.
  • iOS 14 also has a bug that resets your default browser to Safari every time your iPhone reboots, so you'll have to change it back every time until a fix is issued.

During its "Time Flies" event on Tuesday, Apple surprised everyone by announcing that iOS 14 would be available to the general public on Wednesday, September 16th. Many people expected Apple to delay the software update due to the fact that the release date of the iPhone 12 series has been pushed back, but with new hardware shipping as soon as this Friday, the company decided it would be best to roll out all of its fall updates at once.

iOS 14 is now available to everyone with a compatible device, and one of the most compelling features of the update is the ability to change your default web browser to something other than Safari. iPhone owners have been pleading with Apple to give them the option to set new default apps for years, and at long last, the company has relented. Of course, there are some limitations -- you can't just set any app as your iPhone's default browser.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

Every iPhone browser you can set as the default in iOS 14 originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 16:06:29 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Here are Amazon’s 5 best-selling electronics devices of the week
Best Amazon Deals Today
  • FDA-authorized Powecom KN95 face masks are on sale at the lowest price ever right now, and all of Apple's AirPods Pro and AirPods models are down to the lowest prices of 2020 so far.
  • Those are the best-selling deals of the week among our readers, but there are other big sales that have also blown but this week.
  • Here, we'll check out this week's list of Amazon's five best-selling products in its popular electronics category.

Amazon was swarmed by our readers this past week thanks to a rare sale on Powecom KN95 face masks that's actually still going on today. They're the only KN95 face masks on Amazon's site that have been tested by NIOSH and authorized for healthcare use by the FDA, and they were found to filter up to 99.2% of small particles. That's even better than most 3M N95 masks, so it's pretty crazy that they're on sale right now at a discount for a fraction of the price of N95s It's a big surprise, and it's a good time to load up because the novel coronavirus isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Purell pump bottles and 6-packs of 2oz Purell bottles are also down to the best prices we've seen since the pandemic began.

Know what else has been huge with our readers this past week? AirPods. Apple's insanely popular all of Apple's AirPods Pro and AirPods models are on sale right now at Amazon's lowest prices of 2020, and they've been flying off the shelves. A bunch of Bose headphones and wireless speakers are discounted right now as well, but none of that was popular enough to make Amazon's top-5 list this week in the massive electronics category. Let's take a look at which gadgets and accessories made the cut.

5. Roku Streaming Stick+

Streaming devices were big sellers this week, and the one that landed in the #5 slot is one of the best streamers ever made. It's the Roku Streaming Stick+ that launched at $60, but you can snag one right now for just $49.99.

Roku Streaming Stick+ | HD/4K/HDR Streaming Device with Long-range Wireless and Voice Remote wi…: $49.99

4. Roku Express HD

The aforementioned Roku Streaming Stick+ is indeed a tremendous value at $49, but you can spend even less if you don't care about 4K resolution or HDR content. That's why the Roku Express HD is this week's #4 top seller.

Roku Express HD Streaming Media Player 2019: $29.00

3. Echo Dot

The $50 Echo Dot is always a best-seller at Amazon and a big part of the reason why is because it often goes on sale for even less than $50. Head over to Amazon now and you cam pick up two Dots on sale for $39.99 each if you check out with the coupon code DOT2PK.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Plum: $39.99 each (use code DOT2PK)

2. Fire TV Stick 4K

In the #2 spot this week, we have the Fire TV Stick 4K that's probably the best streaming media device Amazon has ever made, in terms of value. It also comes with a full year of Food Network Kitchen for free if you grab one right now.

Fire TV Stick 4K plus 1 year subscription to Food Network Kitchen at no additional cost (with a…: $49.99

1. Fire TV Stick

The #1 top-seller this week definitely won't come as a surprise since it's one of Amazon's best-selling products of all time. That's right, it's the Fire TV Stick and it's on sale this week for only $29.99.

Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote plus 1 year subscription to Food Network Kitchen at no ad…: $29.99

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
  2. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  3. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19

Here are Amazon’s 5 best-selling electronics devices of the week originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 15:31:33 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed
Marvel Movies
  • Marvel movies and TV shows might be delayed, but Marvel keeps working on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • MCU Phase 4 will begin a new storyline now that Avengers: Endgame concluded the Infinity Saga. Marvel will introduce new superheroes who will join the Avengers as well as new villains.
  • A new report says Marvel has found one of its upcoming superheroes, the actress who will play She-Hulk in upcoming new movies and Disney+ series.

It’s still too early to say whether we’re getting any Marvel movies or TV shows this year. Black Widow should be released in early November, but Disney might delay the premiere again since the novel coronavirus pandemic is still out of control. WandaVision appears to be the only MCU Phase 4 TV series that Disney is promoting for a 2020 launch on Disney+. There’s no official announcement on the matter and it’s unclear whether another Black Widow delay would also impact the rollout of Marvel's Disney+ TV shows. We may have to wait a long while to enjoy the first elements of the new Phase 4 storyline, but Marvel is working behind the scenes on several upcoming productions. The latest development is proof of that, as we finally know the actress who will play one of the new superheroes who joins the rebuilt Avengers team.

Continue reading...

Today's Top Deals

  1. Crucial advice from a COVID-19 survivor: Everyone should have this $25 device
  2. 5 Amazon deals with Prime Day prices are all about to end
  3. 3M N95 masks are about to sell out at Amazon

Trending Right Now:

  1. Trump’s ex-lawyer claims he knows why the president is scared to release his tax returns
  2. Dr. Fauci says this is the state that’s doing the best job containing COVID-19
  3. Could this Trump tweet mean a second stimulus check is coming?

The first new hero in Marvel’s future Avengers lineup was just confirmed originally appeared on on Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 14:56:46 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

  TechNewsWorld Show All 
Do's and Don'ts for SMB Cybersecurity Safety
The stampede from offices to working from home has strained IT security teams to their limits. As a result, SMBs find they need to get more bang for fewer bucks to fight off cybersecurity threats. However, even IT departments with limited resources can implement foundational strategies to address network security issues, and lay the groundwork for future investments.

Apple Reveals New Watches, Muscular Tablet at Online Event
Apple pulled the wraps off two new Apple Watches, two iPads and several services bundles at an event Tuesday held online. The new watches include the Series 6, which boasts performance improvements over the previous generation of the product, and the SE, an economy watch model. Apple also refreshed its basic iPad and the iPad Air, which is now based on the new A14 processor, a five-nanometer fabricated powerhouse.

Tech Job Market Hot for the Near Future
Computer systems design and related services added 13,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's August jobs report. IT employment in July was up by more than 203,000 positions since the COVID-19 outbreak; and there were more than 235,000 job postings by U.S. employers, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association.

7 Steps to Restoring Trust in Business Telephone Calls
Robocalls, spam and call spoofing have all but destroyed Americans' trust in telephone calls -- to the point that many individuals have essentially stopped answering the phone. Here are seven steps that organizations can take to combat erroneous call blocking and increase answer rates. These measures will help businesses optimize contact operations, increase call performance, and protect and promote their brands by restoring trust in calls.

How to Protect Mobile Apps Against Sneaker Bots
Automated purchasing bots, also known as "sneaker bots," "click bots," "Instacart bots" and other names, are ruining the online shopping and gig economy experience for both consumers and workers. These bots can cause considerable damage to a mobile business' reputation and bottom line. There are a number of measures that e-tailers should take a to protect their mobile apps from sneaker bots.

TikTok Enlists Oracle to Evade Trump's Executive Order
A proposal to avoid the banning of the popular social media app TikTok was submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department over the weekend. The plan submitted by ByteDance, which owns TikTok, calls for the company to enlist Oracle as a "trusted technology provider" in order to address national security concerns raised about the video-sharing software by the Trump administration.

A Unique Moment in Time for E-Commerce
E-commerce is experiencing rapid growth with no sign of slowing down. Retailers and brands are finding that the new normal in retail and e-tail marketing is much like trying to hit a moving target. They have to take a refined aim and build in some lead time. This marketing strategy requires businesses to adjust their digital infrastructure and tactics. Otherwise, they will miss the target as consumers prepare for their holiday marketing and ad campaigns.

PHOTOS: Fluorescent turtle embryo wins forty-fifth annual Nikon Small World Competition

PHOTOS: Fluorescent turtle embryo wins forty-fifth annual Nikon Small World CompetitionThe winners of the 45th annual competition showcase a spectacular blend of science and artistry under the microscope.

7 tax scams to watch out for this year

7 tax scams to watch out for this yearIn case wringing your hands over the tax man weren’t enough, criminals are out there trying to swipe your hard-earned cash and personal information from right under your nose.

What the CIA thinks of your anti-virus program

What the CIA thinks of your anti-virus programPARIS (AP) — Peppering the 8,000 pages of purported Central Intelligence Agency hacking data released Tuesday by WikiLeaks are reviews of some of the world's most popular anti-virus products.

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Microsoft releases a final preview for Windows 10's October update
The Windows 10 20H2 update will arrive next month with a few new features, like a visually refreshed Start menu, improved notifications, preinstalled Chromium Edge browser and the ability to Alt+Tab through Edge tabs. It’s also bringing more of the f...

Minor emoji update for 2021 adds 200 skintone variants for couples
The Unicode Consortium has unveiled a relatively minor emoji update that would still add 217 options to your selection next year. Emoji 13.1 comes with seven brand new images: a heart on fire, a heart with bandages, a woman with beard, a gender-neutr...

Porsche debuts its Taycan safety car at Le Mans
This weekend will see the running of the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans race, but before that starts, the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland will run a 45-minute support race. During that event, while the race vehicles will be petrol burning Porsche 911 GT3 C...

Deezer's country selector lets you listen to music and podcasts like a local
You may not get a chance to physically travel anytime soon, but if you're Deezer subscriber, the music streaming service is giving you an alternative way to experience the music and culture of another country. The platform has introduced a country se...

NBCU's new deal with Roku will bring Peacock to the streaming platform
Just a few hours ago it looked like the fight between NBCUniversal and Roku would get ugly, and even see the Comcast-owned network’s other channels disappear from streaming boxes and sticks. But now the two have patched things up, and announced that...

What we know about Trump’s ‘ban’ on TikTok and WeChat
When the Department of Commerce said Friday that it would soon bar all new downloads of WeChat and TikTok from US App Stores, it marked the latest escalation in the weeks-long saga over TikTok’s future in America. The drama has been playing out since...

The Wayback Machine and Cloudflare team up to keep websites online
The saying goes, “the internet is forever.” Now, the Wayback Machine and Cloudflare are doing their part to strengthen that adage. The two are joining forces to ensure more web pages are archived, according to a post on the Internet Archive blog.The...

Sennheiser CX 400BT review: Great-sounding mid-range wireless earbuds
Unlike a lot of headphone companies, Sennheiser has taken a more measured approach to true wireless earbuds. Thus far, it has only introduced two models, with the second being an improved version of the first. Both of those Momentum True Wireless set...

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Apple Watch Series 6 ongoing review: SpO2 tracking and brighter screen - CNET
Apple's new smartwatch can detect blood oxygen levels throughout the day and night. It charges faster than its predecessors, but has the same 18-hour battery life as the Series 5.
Sony PS5 vs. Microsoft Xbox Series X: The best new game console for holiday 2020 - CNET
We've got all the details short of actually gaming on them.
Why you should save $100 and get the all-digital version of the PS5 - CNET
Commentary: Save a few bucks and avoid one of the most troublesome components in any game console.
More than card tricks: How Where Cards Fall fits into Apple Arcade's diverse set of games - CNET
Where Cards Falls is a coming-of-age game that hits home, with a main character that feels familiar for a reason.
Best balance transfer credit cards for September 2020 - CNET
Get out from under that oppressive annual percentage interest rate.
iPhone 12 rumors: Apple likely to launch new 5G iPhone in October - CNET
Ten standout rumors we've heard about the upcoming iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.
NHL Stanley Cup Finals 2020: How to watch the Stars vs. Lightning without cable - CNET
The Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning will meet in hockey's bubble in Edmonton for a chance to raise the Stanley Cup.
The best robot vacuum for 2020: iRobot Roomba, Electrolux, Neato, Eufy and more - CNET
To lock down our top picks for robot vacuums we gathered and tested the heck out of a group popular models from iRobot, Neato, Electrolux, Eufy, Ecovacs and more.
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DC Universe Streaming Service Will Become Universe Infinite Comics Platform
DC Universe, which started out as a streaming service for original DC superhero content, will in January become DC Universe Infinite, a supersized subscription service for DC Comics. CNET reports: The service launches on Jan. 21 f

NASA To Film an Estee Lauder Ad In Space As the ISS Opens For Business
NASA is preparing to oversee the largest push of business activity aboard the ISS. "Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estee Lauder (EL) skincare serum will launch to the space station," reports CNN. "NASA astronauts are

Iranian Hackers Found Way Into Encrypted Apps, Researchers Say
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Iranian hackers, most likely employees or affiliates of the government, have been running a vast cyberespionage operation equipped with surveillance tools that can outsm

Facebook Accused of Watching Instagram Users Through Cameras
Facebook is again being sued for allegedly spying on Instagram users, this time through the unauthorized use of their mobile phone cameras. Bloomberg reports: The lawsuit springs from media reports in July that the photo-sharing a

Bill Gates On the Difference Between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs
In an interview with Bloomberg, Bill Gates was asked whether his contemporary Elon Musk could be considered the "next Steve Jobs," due to the advancements his companies Tesla and SpaceX have made in electric cars and reusable rock

Fortnite: Save the World For Mac Is Shutting Down Because of Epic's Battle With Apple
Epic Games says Fortnite: Save the World will no longer be playable on macOS beginning on September 23rd because Apple is preventing the game from receiving new updates. The Verge reports: The co-op action shooter was initially re

Tesla Wins Lawsuit Against Whistleblower Accused of Hacks
An anonymous reader writes: The US District Court of Nevada awarded Tesla a win in its lawsuit against a former employee, filed two years ago. You may recall CEO Elon Musk referred to this incident in a previously leaked email cal

Lord of the Rings Special Effects Company 'Weta Digital' Launches Inquiry Into Toxic Workplace Claims
AmiMoJo shares a report from The Guardian: Weta Digital, the special effects company behind the orcs, dragons and battle scenes of the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, has launched an independent investigation into allegat

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In China, WeChat is everything: Text messaging, video chat and mobile payments

WeChat is the No. 1 app in a country that has banned Google and Facebook and


Amazon warns customers PlayStation 5 pre-order could arrive late due to 'high demand'

Amazon is warning customers who pre-ordered the PlayStation 5 their video game console might not arrive on the day of release.


Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have your data. Why not China-owned ByteDance's TikTok?

The Trump administration says it's banning TikTok because the data collected from American users could be accessed by the Chinese government.


TikTok ban: Here are 5 cool alternatives

Triller is the most popular of the TikTok alternatives, but don't count out the new offering from YouTube, the world's most popular video service.


  TechCrunch Show All 
Unity Software has strong opening, gaining 31% after pricing above its raised range

Whoever said you can’t make money playing video games clearly hasn’t taken a look at Unity Software’s stock price.

On its first official day of trading, the company rose more than 31%, opening at $75 per share before closing the day at $68.35. Unity’s share price gains came after last night’s pricing of the company’s stock at $52 per share, well above the range of $44 to $48 which was itself an upward revision of the company’s initial target.

Games like “Pokémon GO” and “Iron Man VR” rely on the company’s software, as do untold numbers of other mobile gaming applications that use the company’s toolkit for support. The company’s customers range from small gaming publishers to large gaming giants like Electronic Arts, Niantic, Ubisoft and Tencent.

Unity’s IPO comes on the heels of other well-received debuts, including Sumo Logic, Snowflake and JFrog .

TechCrunch caught up with Unity’s CFO, Kim Jabal, after-hours today to dig in a bit on the transaction.

According to Jabal, hosting her company’s roadshow over Zoom had some advantages, as her team didn’t have to focus on tackling a single geography per day, allowing Unity to “optimize” its time based on who the company wanted to meet, instead, of say, whomever was free in Boston or Chicago on a particular Tuesday morning.

Jabal’s comments aren’t the first that TechCrunch has heard regarding roadshows going well in a digital format instead of as an in-person presentation. If the old-school roadshow survives, we’ll be surprised, though private jet companies will miss the business.

Talking about the transaction itself, Jabal stressed the connection between her company’s employees, value  and their access to that same value. Unity’s IPO was unique in that existing and former employees were able to trade 15% of their vested holdings in the company on day one, excluding “current executive officers and directors,” per SEC filings.

That act does not seemed to have dampened enthusiasm for the company’s shares, and could have helped boost early float, allowing for the two sides of the supply and demand curves to more quickly meet close to the company’s real value, instead of a scarcity-driven, more artificial figure.

Regarding Unity’s IPO pricing, Jabal discussed what she called a “very data-driven process.” The result of that process was an IPO price that came in above its raised range, and still rose during its first day’s trading, but less than 50%. That’s about as good an outcome as you can hope for in an IPO.

One final thing for the SaaS nerds out there. Unity’s “dollar-based net expansion rate” went from very good to outstanding in 2020, or in the words of the S-1/A:

Our dollar-based net expansion rate, which measures expansion in existing customers’ revenue over a trailing 12-month period, grew from 124% as of December 31, 2018 to 133% as of December 31, 2019, and from 129% as of June 30, 2019 to 142% as of June 30, 2020, demonstrating the power of this strategy.

We had to ask. And the answer, per Jabal, was a combination of the company’s platform strength and how customers tend to use more of Unity’s services over time, which she described as growing with their customers. And the second key element was 2020’s unique dynamics that gave Unity a “tailwind” thanks to “increased usage, particularly in gaming.”

Looking at our own gaming levels in 2020 compared to 2019, that checks out.

This post closes the book on this week’s IPO class. Tired yet? Don’t be. Palantir is up next, and then Asana .

Conan O’Brien on how to embrace an ever-changing media landscape

“Like most of the best things in my life,” Conan O’Brien explains, with a wry smile, “the success of the podcast was a complete surprise.” The answer is a typically self-effacing one from the comedian. Since launching “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” nearly two years ago, the show has quickly risen up the podcasting charts to become one of the country’s most popular.

For those who have followed his 30-odd-year career in entertainment, it’s easy to see why. Quick-witted and almost superhumanly affable, the transition to podcasting seems almost a given in retrospect. After all, hosting a series of late-night network talk shows for decades isn’t exactly starting from scratch when it comes to launching a new entertainment venture. Nor, for that matter, is having tens of millions of Twitter followers and your own online media company, Team Coco.

Not that things have always been easy. A long-promised Tonight Show slot wasn’t all he’d hoped for, leading to a very public exit from the most-coveted show in late night after just under eight months. It was the shortest tenure in the series’ history, culminating in a televised “exit interview” with Steve Carrell that found The Office star shredding his NBC badge. But O’Brien’s late-night hiatus was short-lived. Later that year, he returned with TBS’ Conan, which will celebrate its 10th year on the air in November (and is renewed at least through 2022).

The 2018 launch of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” found the comedian embracing the new-found freedom of podcasting.

“There are a couple of things about doing podcasts that are superior or more fun than doing a talk show,” a quarantine-haired O’Brien said in an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt this week. “When I’m doing the traditional talk show, I’m limited. For years and years and years, when it was on network television, I had to take six- and seven-minute turns, which mean I’m having a conversation with you or I’m having a conversation with someone I’ve always dreamed of talking to, whether it’s Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. Then after six or seven minutes, there has to be a laugh and we’ll take a break and we’ll be right back.

“That’s not a natural conversational flow,” he continues. “What you can do with a podcast is really incredible. I can talk to someone for an hour and 15 minutes. We try and trim them back, but for the most part, people let their guard down. The other thing I prefer: no hair and makeup. It sounds like I’m kidding. But after almost 30 years of people caking my very white face with makeup so that I look like I’m still alive.”

Team Coco has produced 10 shows in all, including shows from longtime sidekick Andy Richter and actor Rob Lowe, writers Mike Sweeney and Jessie Gaskel’s intimately titled Inside Conan and a six-part mini-series interview with SNL alum, Dana Carvey.

“I don’t want to set a number goal,” O’Brien says. “I’m amazed — in two years, we’ve rolled out 10 different podcasts, some of them unscripted, but some scripted ones, as well. I’m not sitting around saying, ‘hey, we’ve got to get to 35 podcasts by this point.’ Because I’d like them to be good.”

The talk show has soldiered on, as well, undergoing its own transformations in the process.

In 2019, the program was retooled for a half-hour format. O’Brien dropped the desk and the suit, adopting a looser format perhaps inspired in part by the new freedoms afforded by his podcasting ventures. When COVID-19 made the in-person show an impossibility, he started working from home like so many others, switching to remote Zoom interviews. Throughout it all, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” continued posting weekly interviews.

Asked whether he planned to continue his late-night show after the contract runs out in a couple of years, O’Brien seemed unsure.

“I think it’s a mistake to think of it as, will you stop doing the show, and only do the podcast? Or will you retire and then quietly work on your letters in a shack? I love to create things. I have a lot of energy. I love to try and make people laugh. And so I see All of this converging, I think the message that I would have for everybody watching TechCrunch Disrupt right now is that people need to open up their minds a little bit. If I’m making podcasts, it doesn’t prohibit me from also maybe do maybe doing something, it doesn’t have to necessarily be for Turner, it could be for anybody.”

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Multiple decades of success, it seems, have put O’Brien in the relatively unique position of being able to be somewhat platform-agnostic. Not being tied to a single medium is a strong place to be when it comes to bracing oneself for the unexpected technological changes that will continue to disrupt and upend the entertainment industry.

“Five years from now our entertainment may come in pill form,” he says. “You could binge The Sopranos. You could just take a whole bottle of Sopranos and then just drink a lot of water and then, you know, just don’t need any red meat.

“This is gonna sound far-fetched, but I think this is the most excited I’ve been in my career, because there were so many ways to be creative. There are so many ways to make people laugh, and I enjoy these new opportunities. I think when you’re someone who has been around as long as I have, you have a choice. You can be afraid of change, or you can be delighted by it.”

Chamath launches SPAC, SPAC and SPAC as he SPACs the world with SPACs

SPACs are going to rule the world, or at least, Chamath’s future portfolio.

Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder of Social Capital, has already tripled down on SPACs, the so-called “blank check” vehicle that takes private companies and flips them onto the public markets. His first SPAC bought Virgin Galactic last year, and his second SPAC bought Opendoor this week in a blockbuster deal valuing the instant home sale platform at $4.8 billion, less cash. His third SPAC officially fundraised in April, and has yet to announce a deal.

Now, it looks like he’s going to double down on his triple down. After the bell rung on Wall Street this Friday, the venture capitalist filed three new SPAC vehicles with the SEC. Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. IV has a headline value of $350 million, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. V has a headline value of $650 million and Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. VI has a headline value of $1 billion.

Those headline values are targets: each SPAC will need to go through an investor roadshow process and officially raise capital before they can begin trying to find an acquisition target. Each SPAC is independent, and may share investors or have entirely independent investors around the table.

The three new SPACs share similar managers: Palihapitiya himself; Ian Osborne, who manages Hedosophia; Steven Trieu, the CFO of Social Capital; and Simon Williams, the chief administration officer of Hedosophia.

However, each has a different fifth director, who perhaps sheds some light on how each SPAC differs in strategy. Nirav Tolia, a co-founder and CEO of popular social network Nextdoor, is joining the fourth SPAC. Jay Parikh, a former head of engineering at Facebook, who left earlier this year, is joining the fifth SPAC. And finally, Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter and current venture capitalist, is joining the sixth SPAC.

We’ve been talking about the accelerating pace of SPACs this year, and that appears in microcosm here around these Social Capital vehicles. It seems as though Palihapitiya and Hedosophia not only have great ambitions for these vehicles, but are increasingly mechanizing the process of fundraising them and taking advantage of markets that seem excited for any avenue toward growth.

Daily Crunch: Partial US TikTok ban is imminent

The Trump administration moves forwards with plans to ban TikTok and WeChat (although TikTok gets a partial extension), Unity goes public and we announce the winner of this year’s Startup Battlefield. This is your Daily Crunch for September 18, 2020.

The big story: US TikTok ban is imminent

The U.S. Commerce Department has released details about how it will be implementing the Trump administration’s domestic ban of TikTok and WeChat. Both apps will no longer be available (and will not be able to distribute updates) in U.S. app stores starting this Sunday, September 20.

At the same time, TikTok will be able to continue operations in the country until November 12, leaving the door open for a deal with Oracle or another partner.

TikTok, WeChat and their users aren’t the only ones unhappy about this decision. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said a TikTok ban would be “bad for US tech companies which have benefited greatly from the ability to operate across borders,” while the ACLU said the order “violates the First Amendment rights of people in the United States.”

The tech giants

Salesforce announces 12,000 new jobs in the next year just weeks after laying off 1,000 — Salesforce CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff announced in a tweet that the company would be hiring 4,000 new employees in the next six months, and 12,000 in the next year.

It’s game on as Unity begins trading — Unity Software, which sells a game development toolkit primarily for mobile phone app developers, raised $1.3 billion in its initial public offering.

Apple will launch its online store in India on September 23 — Apple currently relies on third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in India.

Startups, funding and venture capital

And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020 is … Canix — After five days of fierce pitching in a wholly new virtual Startup Battlefield arena, we have a winner.

Amid layoffs and allegations of fraud, the FBI has arrested NS8’s CEO following its $100+ million summer financing — Adam Rogas, the co-founder and former executive at the Las Vegas-based fraud prevention company NS8 was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Outschool, newly profitable, raises a $45 million Series B for virtual small group classes — Outschool’s services, which range from engineering lessons through Lego challenges to Spanish teaching by Taylor Swift songs, are now high in demand.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Are high churn rates depressing earnings for app developers? — RevenueCat’s Jacob Eiting writes that for all the hype around Apple’s 85/15 split for subscription revenue, very few developers are going to see a meaningful increase.

The stages of traditional fundraising — What you think when you hear “seed funding” and “A rounds” might be different from what investors think.

3 VCs discuss the state of SaaS investing in 2020 — Commentary from Canaan’s Maha Ibrahim, Andreessen Horowitz’s David Ulevitch and Bessemer’s Mary D’Onofrio.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

How the NSA is disrupting foreign hackers targeting COVID-19 vaccine research — “The threat landscape has changed,” the NSA’s director of cybersecurity Anne Neuberger said at Disrupt 2020.

NASA to test precision automated landing system designed for the moon and Mars on upcoming Blue Origin mission — The “Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution” (SPLICE) system is made up of a number of lasers, an optical camera and a computer.

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 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

SaaS Ventures takes the investment road less traveled

Most venture capital firms are based in hubs like Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston. These firms nurture those ecosystems and they’ve done well, but SaaS Ventures decided to go a different route: it went to cities like Chicago, Green Bay, Wisconsin and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The firm looks for enterprise-focused entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a different set of problems than you might find in these other centers of capital, issues that require digital solutions but might fall outside a typical computer science graduate’s experience.

Saas Ventures looks at four main investment areas: trucking and logistics, manufacturing, e-commerce enablement for industries that have not typically gone online and cybersecurity, the latter being the most mainstream of the areas SaaS Ventures covers.

The company’s first fund, which launched in 2017, was worth $20 million, but SaaS Ventures launched a second fund of equal amount earlier this month. It tends to stick to small-dollar-amount investments, while partnering with larger firms when it contributes funds to a deal.

We talked to Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures, to learn about his investment philosophy, and why he decided to take the road less traveled for his investment thesis.

A different investment approach

Gutman’s journey to find enterprise startups in out of the way places began in 2012 when he worked at an early enterprise startup accelerator called Acceleprise. “We were really the first ones who said enterprise tech companies are wired differently, and need a different set of early-stage resources,” Gutman told TechCrunch.

Through that experience, he decided to launch SaaS Ventures in 2017, with several key ideas underpinning the firm’s investment thesis: after his experience at Acceleprise, he decided to concentrate on the enterprise from a slightly different angle than most early-stage VC establishments.

Collin Gutman from SaaS Ventures

Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures (Image Credits: SaaS Ventures)

The second part of his thesis was to concentrate on secondary markets, which meant looking beyond the popular startup ecosystem centers and investing in areas that didn’t typically get much attention. To date, SaaS Ventures has made investments in 23 states and Toronto, seeking startups that others might have overlooked.

“We have really phenomenal coverage in terms of not just geography, but in terms of what’s happening with the underlying businesses, as well as their customers,” Gutman said. He believes that broad second-tier market data gives his firm an upper hand when selecting startups to invest in. More on that later.

Gaming companies are reportedly the next targets in the US government’s potentially broader Tencent purge

Some of the biggest names in online gaming in the United States have received letters from the U.S. government requesting information about their relationship with the multibillion-dollar Chinese technology company, Tencent, according to reports.

Even as the U.S. Department of Commerce moves to block new downloads of the Chinese company’s popular messaging and payment app, WeChat, it has sent out letters to U.S. gaming companies like Epic Games, Riot Games, and others about their data-security protocols and their relationship to Tencent, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which is chaired by the Treasury Department, is looking for information about how these companies handle the personal data of their U.S. customers.

Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company, with stakes in multiple U.S. gaming companies, including the Los Angeles-based Riot Games and a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, which is one of the most popular multiplayer online games in the U.S.

The requests could presage a push by the United States to force Tencent to sell off its gaming interests in America and would follow similar steps taken to crack down on the Chinese-owned social media network, TikTok.

The tumultuous TikTok saga has centered on the ways in which the wildly popular social media company handles user data and how that data could be misused by TikTok’s Chinese parent company, Bytedance. And the announcement earlier today from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross uses language that could be applied to Tencent’s gaming holdings just as easily as TikTok’s social media service.

“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Ross in a statement. “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

Technology companies account for an increasing share of global economic output, and social media companies like Facebook have been denied access to the Chinese market. Some have speculated that the forced sale of TikTok’s U.S. assets could be an attempt to impose the same restrictions on Chinese companies that U.S. companies experience in China’s domestic market.

Security concerns have been at the heart of U.S. trade restrictions against other Chinese technology companies — like the networking and communications technology developer Huawei.

Extending the same argument to gaming may open another front in the ongoing trade war that’s been waged between the U.S. and China for the duration of the Trump presidency. But it would be yet another unprecedented step to wall off what historically has been unfettered commercial access to U.S. markets by foreign competitors in most of the tech arena (excluding things like weapons systems).

Tencent has over 300 investments in its portfolio, including Riot Games which it acquired outright in 2015 after buying a 93% stake in the business back in 2011. The Chinese company also owns a huge stake in Epic Games, the $17 billion game technology developer that created the runaway multiplayer smash hit, Fortnite, and Activision/Blizzard, which produces the Call of Duty franchise (among others).

Any movement by the Trump Administration to further restrict the economic activity of foreign companies operating in the U.S. could have unintended consequences for the nation’s technology industry, as well.

Even the top executives at some of the companies that would ostensibly benefit from TikTok’s disappearance from the competitive social media landscape have decried the approach taken by the US government.

Earlier today, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri took to Twitter to decry the announcement. The ACLU also wasted no time in criticizing the announcement. Hina Shamsi, the director of the agency’s National Security Project, said in a statement: “This order violates the First Amendment rights of people in the United States by restricting their ability to communicate and conduct important transactions on the two social media platforms.”

Check out this never-before-seen clip from HBO’s The Perfect Weapon

At Disrupt 2020, we got a chance to see some never-before-seen footage from HBO’s upcoming documentary The Perfect Weapon.

The documentary, which was executive produced by John Maggio, is based on the book by the same(ish) name written by David Sanger, Washington correspondent for the New York Times.

We got to sit down for an interview with Sanger where we discussed the cybersecurity threats the United States faces, the definition of an appropriate response, and in general, whether or not we should be worried.

You can check out the full interview below, as well as a never-before-seen clip from the upcoming documentary.

The conversation was an excellent lead-in to Zack Whittaker’s interview with the NSA’s Cybersecurity Chief Anne Neuberger, which you can check out here.

Salesforce announces 12,000 new jobs in the next year just weeks after laying off 1,000

In a case of bizarre timing, Salesforce announced it was laying off 1,000 employees at the end of last month just a day after announcing a monster quarter with over $5 billion in revenue, putting the company on a $20 billion revenue run rate for the first time. The juxtaposition was hard to miss.

Earlier today, Salesforce CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff announced in a tweet that the company would be hiring 4,000 new employees in the next six months, and 12,000 in the next year. While it seems like a mixed message, it’s probably more about reallocating resources to areas where they are needed more.

While Salesforce wouldn’t comment further on the hirings, the company has obviously been doing well in spite of the pandemic, which has had an impact on customers. In the prior quarter, the company forecasted that it would have slower revenue growth due to giving some customers facing hard times with economic downturn time to pay their bills.

That’s why it was surprising when the CRM giant announced its earnings in August and that it had done so well in spite of all that. While the company was laying off those 1,000 people, it did indicate it would give those employees 60 days to find other positions in the company. With these new jobs, assuming they are positions the laid-off employees are qualified for, they could have a variety of positions from which to choose.

The company had 54,000 employees when it announced the layoffs, which accounted for 1.9% of the workforce. If it ends up adding the 12,000 news jobs in the next year, that would put the company at approximately 65,000 employees by this time next year.

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