Hypotenuse AI wants to take the strain out of copywriting for e-commerce


Imagine buying a dress online because a piece of code sold you on its ‘flattering, feminine flair’ — or convinced you ‘romantic floral details’ would outline your figure with ‘timeless style’. The very same day your friend buy the same dress from the same website but she’s sold on a description of ‘vibrant tones’, ‘fresh cotton feel’ and ‘statement sleeves’.

This is not a detail from a sci-fi short story but the reality and big picture vision of Hypotenuse AI, a YC-backed startup that’s using computer vision and machine learning to automate product descriptions for e-commerce.

One of the two product descriptions shown below is written by a human copywriter. The other flowed from the virtual pen of the startup’s AI, per an example on its website.

Can you guess which is which?* And if you think you can — well, does it matter?

Screengrab: Hypotenuse AI’s website

Discussing his startup on the phone from Singapore, Hypotenuse AI’s founder Joshua Wong tells us he came up with the idea to use AI to automate copywriting after helping a friend set up a website selling vegan soap.

“It took forever to write effective copy. We were extremely frustrated with the process when all we wanted to do was to sell products,” he explains. “But we knew how much description and copy affect conversions and SEO so we couldn’t abandon it.”

Wong had been working for Amazon, as an applied machine learning scientist for its Alexa AI assistant. So he had the technical smarts to tackle the problem himself. “I decided to use my background in machine learning to kind of automate this process. And I wanted to make sure I could help other e-commerce stores do the same as well,” he says, going on to leave his job at Amazon in June to go full time on Hypotenuse.

The core tech here — computer vision and natural language generation — is extremely cutting edge, per Wong.

“What the technology looks like in the back end is that a lot of it is proprietary,” he says. “We use computer vision to understand product images really well. And we use this together with any metadata that the product already has to generate a very ‘human fluent’ type of description. We can do this really quickly — we can generate thousands of them within seconds.”

“A lot of the work went into making sure we had machine learning models or neural network models that could speak very fluently in a very human-like manner. For that we have models that have kind of learnt how to understand and to write English really, really well. They’ve been trained on the Internet and all over the web so they understand language very well. “Then we combine that together with our vision models so that we can generate very fluent description,” he adds.

Image credit: Hypotenuse

Wong says the startup is building its own proprietary data-set to further help with training language models — with the aim of being able to generate something that’s “very specific to the image” but also “specific to the company’s brand and writing style” so the output can be hyper tailored to the customer’s needs.

“We also have defaults of style — if they want text to be more narrative, or poetic, or luxurious —  but the more interesting one is when companies want it to be tailored to their own type of branding of writing and style,” he adds. “They usually provide us with some examples of descriptions that they already have… and we used that and get our models to learn that type of language so it can write in that manner.”

What Hypotenuse’s AI is able to do — generate thousands of specifically detailed, appropriately styled product descriptions within “seconds” — has only been possible in very recent years, per Wong. Though he won’t be drawn into laying out more architectural details, beyond saying the tech is “completely neural network-based, natural language generation model”.

“The product descriptions that we are doing now — the techniques, the data and the way that we’re doing it — these techniques were not around just like over a year ago,” he claims. “A lot of the companies that tried to do this over a year ago always used pre-written templates. Because, back then, when we tried to use neural network models or purely machine learning models they can go off course very quickly or they’re not very good at producing language which is almost indistinguishable from human.

“Whereas now… we see that people cannot even tell which was written by AI and which by human. And that wouldn’t have been the case a year ago.”

(See the above example again. Is A or B the robotic pen? The Answer is at the foot of this post)

Asked about competitors, Wong again draws a distinction between Hypotenuse’s ‘pure’ machine learning approach and others who relied on using templates “to tackle this problem of copywriting or product descriptions”.

“They’ve always used some form of templates or just joining together synonyms. And the problem is it’s still very tedious to write templates. It makes the descriptions sound very unnatural or repetitive. And instead of helping conversions that actually hurts conversions and SEO,” he argues. “Whereas for us we use a completely machine learning based model which has learnt how to understand language and produce text very fluently, to a human level.”

There are now some pretty high profile applications of AI that enable you to generate similar text to your input data — but Wong contends they’re just not specific enough for a copywriting business purpose to represent a competitive threat to what he’s building with Hypotenuse.

“A lot of these are still very generalized,” he argues. “They’re really great at doing a lot of things okay but for copywriting it’s actually quite a nuanced space in that people want very specific things — it has to be specific to the brand, it has to be specific to the style of writing. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense. It hurts conversions. It hurts SEO. So… we don’t worry much about competitors. We spent a lot of time and research into getting these nuances and details right so we’re able to produce things that are exactly what customers want.”

So what types of products doesn’t Hypotenuse’s AI work well for? Wong says it’s a bit less relevant for certain product categories — such as electronics. This is because the marketing focus there is on specs, rather than trying to evoke a mood or feeling to seal a sale. Beyond that he argues the tool has broad relevance for e-commerce. “What we’re targeting it more at is things like furniture, things like fashion, apparel, things where you want to create a feeling in a user so they are convinced of why this product can help them,” he adds.

The startup’s SaaS offering as it is now — targeted at automating product description for e-commerce sites and for copywriting shops — is actually a reconfiguration itself.

The initial idea was to build a “digital personal shopper” to personalize the e-commerce experence. But the team realized they were getting ahead of themselves. “We only started focusing on this two weeks ago — but we’ve already started working with a number of e-commerce companies as well as piloting with a few copywriting companies,” says Wong, discussing this initial pivot.

Building a digital personal shopper is still on the roadmap but he says they realized that a subset of creating all the necessary AI/CV components for the more complex ‘digital shopper’ proposition was solving the copywriting issue. Hence dialing back to focus in on that.

“We realized that this alone was really such a huge pain-point that we really just wanted to focus on it and make sure we solve it really well for our customers,” he adds.

For early adopter customers the process right now involves a little light onboarding — typically a call to chat through their workflow is like and writing style so Hypotenuse can prep its models. Wong says the training process then takes “a few days”. After which they plug in to it as software as a service.

Customers upload product images to Hypotenuse’s platform or send metadata of existing products — getting corresponding descriptions back for download. The plan is to offer a more polished pipeline process for this in the future — such as by integrating with e-commerce platforms like Shopify .

Given the chaotic sprawl of Amazon’s marketplace, where product descriptions can vary wildly from extensively detailed screeds to the hyper sparse and/or cryptic, there could be a sizeable opportunity to sell automated product descriptions back to Wong’s former employer. And maybe even bag some strategic investment before then…  However Wong won’t be drawn on whether or not Hypotenuse is fundraising right now.

On the possibility of bagging Amazon as a future customer he’ll only say “potentially in the long run that’s possible”.

Joshua Wong (Photo credit: Hypotenuse AI)

The more immediate priorities for the startup are expanding the range of copywriting its AI can offer — to include additional formats such as advertising copy and even some ‘listicle’ style blog posts which can stand in as content marketing (unsophisticated stuff, along the lines of ’10 things you can do at the beach’, per Wong, or ’10 great dresses for summer’ etc).

“Even as we want to go into blog posts we’re still completely focused on the e-commerce space,” he adds. “We won’t go out to news articles or anything like that. We think that that is still something that cannot be fully automated yet.”

Looking further ahead he dangles the possibility of the AI enabling infinitely customizable marketing copy — meaning a website could parse a visitor’s data footprint and generate dynamic product descriptions intended to appeal to that particular individual.

Crunch enough user data and maybe it could spot that a site visitor has a preference for vivid colors and like to wear large hats — ergo, it could dial up relevant elements in product descriptions to better mesh with that person’s tastes.

“We want to make the whole process of starting an e-commerce website super simple. So it’s not just copywriting as well — but all the difference aspects of it,” Wong goes on. “The key thing is we want to go towards personalization. Right now e-commerce customers are all seeing the same standard written content. One of the challenges there it’s hard because humans are writing it right now and you can only produce one type of copy — and if you want to test it for other kinds of users you need to write another one.

“Whereas for us if we can do this process really well, and we are automating it, we can produce thousands of different kinds of description and copy for a website and every customer could see something different.”

It’s a disruptive vision for e-commerce (call it ‘A/B testing’ on steroids) that is likely to either delight or terrify — depending on your view of current levels of platform personalization around content. That process can wrap users in particular bubbles of perspective — and some argue such filtering has impacted culture and politics by having a corrosive impact on the communal experiences and consensus which underpins the social contract. But the stakes with e-commerce copy aren’t likely to be so high.

Still, once marketing text/copy no longer has a unit-specific production cost attached to it — and assuming e-commerce sites have access to enough user data in order to program tailored product descriptions — there’s no real limit to the ways in which robotically generated words could be reconfigured in the pursuit of a quick sale.

“Even within a brand there is actually a factor we can tweak which is how creative our model is,” says Wong, when asked if there’s any risk of the robot’s copy ending up feeling formulaic. “Some of our brands have like 50 polo shirts and all of them are almost exactly the same, other than maybe slight differences in the color. We are able to produce very unique and very different types of descriptions for each of them when we cue up the creativity of our model.”

“In a way it’s sometimes even better than a human because humans tends to fall into very, very similar ways of writing. Whereas this — because it’s learnt so much language over the web — it has a much wider range of tones and types of language that it can run through,” he adds.

What about copywriting and ad creative jobs? Isn’t Hypotenuse taking an axe to the very copywriting agencies his startup is hoping to woo as customers? Not so, argues Wong. “At the end of the day there are still editors. The AI helps them get to 95% of the way there. It helps them spark creativity when you produce the description but that last step of making sure it is something that exactly the customer wants — that’s usually still a final editor check,” he says, advocating for the human in the AI loop. “It only helps to make things much faster for them. But we still make sure there’s that last step of a human checking before they send it off.”

“Seeing the way NLP [natural language processing] research has changed over the past few years it feels like we’re really at an inception point,” Wong adds. “One year ago a lot of the things that we are doing now was not even possible. And some of the things that we see are becoming possible today — we didn’t expect it for one or two years’ time. So I think it could be, within the next few years, where we have models that are not just able to write language very well but you can almost speak to it and give it some information and it can generate these things on the go.”

*Per Wong, Hypotenuse’s robot is responsible for generating description ‘A’. Full marks if you could spot the AI’s tonal pitfalls

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Imagine buying a dress online because a piece of code sold you on its ‘flattering, feminine flair’ — or convinced you ‘romantic floral details’ would outline your figure with ‘timeless style’. The very same day your friend buy the same dress from the same website but she’s sold on a description of ‘vibrant tones’, ‘fresh cotton feel’ and ‘statement sleeves’.

This is not a detail from a sci-fi short story but the reality and big picture vision of Hypotenuse AI, a YC-backed startup that’s using computer vision and machine learning to automate product descriptions for e-commerce.

One of the two product descriptions shown below is written by a human copywriter. The other flowed from the virtual pen of the startup’s AI, per an example on its website.

Can you guess which is which?* And if you think you can — well, does it matter?

Screengrab: Hypotenuse AI’s website

Discussing his startup on the phone from Singapore, Hypotenuse AI’s founder Joshua Wong tells us he came up with the idea to use AI to automate copywriting after helping a friend set up a website selling vegan soap.

“It took forever to write effective copy. We were extremely frustrated with the process when all we wanted to do was to sell products,” he explains. “But we knew how much description and copy affect conversions and SEO so we couldn’t abandon it.”

Wong had been working for Amazon, as an applied machine learning scientist for its Alexa AI assistant. So he had the technical smarts to tackle the problem himself. “I decided to use my background in machine learning to kind of automate this process. And I wanted to make sure I could help other e-commerce stores do the same as well,” he says, going on to leave his job at Amazon in June to go full time on Hypotenuse.

The core tech here — computer vision and natural language generation — is extremely cutting edge, per Wong.

“What the technology looks like in the back end is that a lot of it is proprietary,” he says. “We use computer vision to understand product images really well. And we use this together with any metadata that the product already has to generate a very ‘human fluent’ type of description. We can do this really quickly — we can generate thousands of them within seconds.”

“A lot of the work went into making sure we had machine learning models or neural network models that could speak very fluently in a very human-like manner. For that we have models that have kind of learnt how to understand and to write English really, really well. They’ve been trained on the Internet and all over the web so they understand language very well. “Then we combine that together with our vision models so that we can generate very fluent description,” he adds.

Image credit: Hypotenuse

Wong says the startup is building its own proprietary data-set to further help with training language models — with the aim of being able to generate something that’s “very specific to the image” but also “specific to the company’s brand and writing style” so the output can be hyper tailored to the customer’s needs.

“We also have defaults of style — if they want text to be more narrative, or poetic, or luxurious —  but the more interesting one is when companies want it to be tailored to their own type of branding of writing and style,” he adds. “They usually provide us with some examples of descriptions that they already have… and we used that and get our models to learn that type of language so it can write in that manner.”

What Hypotenuse’s AI is able to do — generate thousands of specifically detailed, appropriately styled product descriptions within “seconds” — has only been possible in very recent years, per Wong. Though he won’t be drawn into laying out more architectural details, beyond saying the tech is “completely neural network-based, natural language generation model”.

“The product descriptions that we are doing now — the techniques, the data and the way that we’re doing it — these techniques were not around just like over a year ago,” he claims. “A lot of the companies that tried to do this over a year ago always used pre-written templates. Because, back then, when we tried to use neural network models or purely machine learning models they can go off course very quickly or they’re not very good at producing language which is almost indistinguishable from human.

“Whereas now… we see that people cannot even tell which was written by AI and which by human. And that wouldn’t have been the case a year ago.”

(See the above example again. Is A or B the robotic pen? The Answer is at the foot of this post)

Asked about competitors, Wong again draws a distinction between Hypotenuse’s ‘pure’ machine learning approach and others who relied on using templates “to tackle this problem of copywriting or product descriptions”.

“They’ve always used some form of templates or just joining together synonyms. And the problem is it’s still very tedious to write templates. It makes the descriptions sound very unnatural or repetitive. And instead of helping conversions that actually hurts conversions and SEO,” he argues. “Whereas for us we use a completely machine learning based model which has learnt how to understand language and produce text very fluently, to a human level.”

There are now some pretty high profile applications of AI that enable you to generate similar text to your input data — but Wong contends they’re just not specific enough for a copywriting business purpose to represent a competitive threat to what he’s building with Hypotenuse.

“A lot of these are still very generalized,” he argues. “They’re really great at doing a lot of things okay but for copywriting it’s actually quite a nuanced space in that people want very specific things — it has to be specific to the brand, it has to be specific to the style of writing. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense. It hurts conversions. It hurts SEO. So… we don’t worry much about competitors. We spent a lot of time and research into getting these nuances and details right so we’re able to produce things that are exactly what customers want.”

So what types of products doesn’t Hypotenuse’s AI work well for? Wong says it’s a bit less relevant for certain product categories — such as electronics. This is because the marketing focus there is on specs, rather than trying to evoke a mood or feeling to seal a sale. Beyond that he argues the tool has broad relevance for e-commerce. “What we’re targeting it more at is things like furniture, things like fashion, apparel, things where you want to create a feeling in a user so they are convinced of why this product can help them,” he adds.

The startup’s SaaS offering as it is now — targeted at automating product description for e-commerce sites and for copywriting shops — is actually a reconfiguration itself.

The initial idea was to build a “digital personal shopper” to personalize the e-commerce experence. But the team realized they were getting ahead of themselves. “We only started focusing on this two weeks ago — but we’ve already started working with a number of e-commerce companies as well as piloting with a few copywriting companies,” says Wong, discussing this initial pivot.

Building a digital personal shopper is still on the roadmap but he says they realized that a subset of creating all the necessary AI/CV components for the more complex ‘digital shopper’ proposition was solving the copywriting issue. Hence dialing back to focus in on that.

“We realized that this alone was really such a huge pain-point that we really just wanted to focus on it and make sure we solve it really well for our customers,” he adds.

For early adopter customers the process right now involves a little light onboarding — typically a call to chat through their workflow is like and writing style so Hypotenuse can prep its models. Wong says the training process then takes “a few days”. After which they plug in to it as software as a service.

Customers upload product images to Hypotenuse’s platform or send metadata of existing products — getting corresponding descriptions back for download. The plan is to offer a more polished pipeline process for this in the future — such as by integrating with e-commerce platforms like Shopify .

Given the chaotic sprawl of Amazon’s marketplace, where product descriptions can vary wildly from extensively detailed screeds to the hyper sparse and/or cryptic, there could be a sizeable opportunity to sell automated product descriptions back to Wong’s former employer. And maybe even bag some strategic investment before then…  However Wong won’t be drawn on whether or not Hypotenuse is fundraising right now.

On the possibility of bagging Amazon as a future customer he’ll only say “potentially in the long run that’s possible”.

Joshua Wong (Photo credit: Hypotenuse AI)

The more immediate priorities for the startup are expanding the range of copywriting its AI can offer — to include additional formats such as advertising copy and even some ‘listicle’ style blog posts which can stand in as content marketing (unsophisticated stuff, along the lines of ’10 things you can do at the beach’, per Wong, or ’10 great dresses for summer’ etc).

“Even as we want to go into blog posts we’re still completely focused on the e-commerce space,” he adds. “We won’t go out to news articles or anything like that. We think that that is still something that cannot be fully automated yet.”

Looking further ahead he dangles the possibility of the AI enabling infinitely customizable marketing copy — meaning a website could parse a visitor’s data footprint and generate dynamic product descriptions intended to appeal to that particular individual.

Crunch enough user data and maybe it could spot that a site visitor has a preference for vivid colors and like to wear large hats — ergo, it could dial up relevant elements in product descriptions to better mesh with that person’s tastes.

“We want to make the whole process of starting an e-commerce website super simple. So it’s not just copywriting as well — but all the difference aspects of it,” Wong goes on. “The key thing is we want to go towards personalization. Right now e-commerce customers are all seeing the same standard written content. One of the challenges there it’s hard because humans are writing it right now and you can only produce one type of copy — and if you want to test it for other kinds of users you need to write another one.

“Whereas for us if we can do this process really well, and we are automating it, we can produce thousands of different kinds of description and copy for a website and every customer could see something different.”

It’s a disruptive vision for e-commerce (call it ‘A/B testing’ on steroids) that is likely to either delight or terrify — depending on your view of current levels of platform personalization around content. That process can wrap users in particular bubbles of perspective — and some argue such filtering has impacted culture and politics by having a corrosive impact on the communal experiences and consensus which underpins the social contract. But the stakes with e-commerce copy aren’t likely to be so high.

Still, once marketing text/copy no longer has a unit-specific production cost attached to it — and assuming e-commerce sites have access to enough user data in order to program tailored product descriptions — there’s no real limit to the ways in which robotically generated words could be reconfigured in the pursuit of a quick sale.

“Even within a brand there is actually a factor we can tweak which is how creative our model is,” says Wong, when asked if there’s any risk of the robot’s copy ending up feeling formulaic. “Some of our brands have like 50 polo shirts and all of them are almost exactly the same, other than maybe slight differences in the color. We are able to produce very unique and very different types of descriptions for each of them when we cue up the creativity of our model.”

“In a way it’s sometimes even better than a human because humans tends to fall into very, very similar ways of writing. Whereas this — because it’s learnt so much language over the web — it has a much wider range of tones and types of language that it can run through,” he adds.

What about copywriting and ad creative jobs? Isn’t Hypotenuse taking an axe to the very copywriting agencies his startup is hoping to woo as customers? Not so, argues Wong. “At the end of the day there are still editors. The AI helps them get to 95% of the way there. It helps them spark creativity when you produce the description but that last step of making sure it is something that exactly the customer wants — that’s usually still a final editor check,” he says, advocating for the human in the AI loop. “It only helps to make things much faster for them. But we still make sure there’s that last step of a human checking before they send it off.”

“Seeing the way NLP [natural language processing] research has changed over the past few years it feels like we’re really at an inception point,” Wong adds. “One year ago a lot of the things that we are doing now was not even possible. And some of the things that we see are becoming possible today — we didn’t expect it for one or two years’ time. So I think it could be, within the next few years, where we have models that are not just able to write language very well but you can almost speak to it and give it some information and it can generate these things on the go.”

*Per Wong, Hypotenuse’s robot is responsible for generating description ‘A’. Full marks if you could spot the AI’s tonal pitfalls



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Last chance to save on Disrupt 2020 passes


It’s last call startup fans, last call. We’re not talking about International Beer Day (which is a thing and it’s today — look it up). No, we mean August 7 is your absolute last chance to save up to $300 on a pass to Disrupt 2020. Beat the clock, buy your early-bird pass before 11:59 p.m. (PT), then hoist a beer to celebrate your savvy shopping. We’ll drink to that!

Every new challenge presents new opportunities, and that holds true for TechCrunch’s first all-virtual Disrupt. Now Disrupt is bigger, more accessible and more global than ever. Thousands of attendees across the world have five full days — September 14-18 — to connect, network, exhibit, compete and learn new and better ways to build their business.

As always, Disrupt features the top minds and makers in tech, investment and business. Check out the interviews, panel discussions, interactive Q&As and workshops that explore and tackle new trends, crucial issues and a metric ton (we measured) of how-tos designed to inform and support early-stage startups.

In a nod to the diverse, global aspect of this Disrupt, we’re also planning sessions that focus on Europe and Asia. Translation: time zone-friendly scheduling that won’t keep you up at night. Stay tuned for more on that front soon.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the Disrupt 2020 agenda, with just some of the topics leading experts will discuss. We’ll divulge more in the coming weeks. Hey, that’s another reason to stay tuned.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what you can do at Disrupt.

Network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform that gets smarter the more you use it. It easily finds and connects you with the right people — you know, the ones who can help you reach your goals. And it opens weeks ahead of Disrupt to give you even more time to expand your network.

Explore hundreds of early-stage startups in Digital Startup Alley — or exhibit there yourself. Find new customers, potential investors, exciting partnerships.

Watch some of the most promising early-stage startups around the world go head-to-head in the renowned Startup Battlefield pitch competition. Which team will earn the Disrupt Cup and take home $100,000 in equity-free cash?

It’s time. Time to heed the last call, buy your Disrupt 2020 pass before 11:59 p.m. (PT) today and save up to $300. You could celebrate the heck out of International Beer Day with that kind of money — hey, we don’t judge.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

 

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It’s last call startup fans, last call. We’re not talking about International Beer Day (which is a thing and it’s today — look it up). No, we mean August 7 is your absolute last chance to save up to $300 on a pass to Disrupt 2020. Beat the clock, buy your early-bird pass before 11:59 p.m. (PT), then hoist a beer to celebrate your savvy shopping. We’ll drink to that!

Every new challenge presents new opportunities, and that holds true for TechCrunch’s first all-virtual Disrupt. Now Disrupt is bigger, more accessible and more global than ever. Thousands of attendees across the world have five full days — September 14-18 — to connect, network, exhibit, compete and learn new and better ways to build their business.

As always, Disrupt features the top minds and makers in tech, investment and business. Check out the interviews, panel discussions, interactive Q&As and workshops that explore and tackle new trends, crucial issues and a metric ton (we measured) of how-tos designed to inform and support early-stage startups.

In a nod to the diverse, global aspect of this Disrupt, we’re also planning sessions that focus on Europe and Asia. Translation: time zone-friendly scheduling that won’t keep you up at night. Stay tuned for more on that front soon.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the Disrupt 2020 agenda, with just some of the topics leading experts will discuss. We’ll divulge more in the coming weeks. Hey, that’s another reason to stay tuned.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what you can do at Disrupt.

Network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform that gets smarter the more you use it. It easily finds and connects you with the right people — you know, the ones who can help you reach your goals. And it opens weeks ahead of Disrupt to give you even more time to expand your network.

Explore hundreds of early-stage startups in Digital Startup Alley — or exhibit there yourself. Find new customers, potential investors, exciting partnerships.

Watch some of the most promising early-stage startups around the world go head-to-head in the renowned Startup Battlefield pitch competition. Which team will earn the Disrupt Cup and take home $100,000 in equity-free cash?

It’s time. Time to heed the last call, buy your Disrupt 2020 pass before 11:59 p.m. (PT) today and save up to $300. You could celebrate the heck out of International Beer Day with that kind of money — hey, we don’t judge.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

 

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Source link

Hear how working from home is changing startups and investing at Disrupt 2020


Let’s just say it has been a year. While a few ambitious startups like InVision and GitLab built their corporate cultures and talent hiring with a remote-first mentality, the reality is that the vast majority of founders never thought they would have to be socially distant from all of their employees. And it isn’t going to change: Google recently announced that all of their employees will be work from anywhere until summer 2021. We are only getting started with this new model of work.

Culture, productivity and speed are absolutely vital to the survival of early-stage startups, but how do you build growth and momentum in a remote-only world? And how are investors approaching this new environment and the opportunities that our changing patterns of work mean for us?

These are critical questions, which is why we are hosting a panel of VC investor superstars to talk more about them on the Extra Crunch stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020.

First, we have Sarah Cannon, partner at Index Ventures, who is perhaps best known in the Valley these days for her ambitious bet behind productivity tool Notion, which valued the relatively nascent startup at a cool $2 billion. Cannon has also backed messaging app Quill as well as Pitch, which offers collaboration around presentation documents. Future of work has been her bread and butter, and we’re excited to hear what she thinks is next in productivity and how startups will grow going forward.

Next, we have Sarah Guo, who is a general partner at Greylock. Guo also has been investing in the future of work and B2B tools, including Clubhouse (not the Clubhouse you are thinking about), which helps dev teams collaborate more effectively. In addition, she has backed family benefits platform Cleo and a panoply of cybersecurity companies — an area that has become acutely important as the classic perimeter of the workplace office has been replaced with employee laptops scattered across locations worldwide.

Third and finally on this panel we have Dave Munichiello, who is a general partner at GV. He’s backed a little social tool called Slack (I refuse to call it a productivity tool, but that might be one person’s opinion), as well as that remote-first startup GitLab, which has received upwards of a $3 billion valuation, and fintech infra company Plaid, which was sold to Visa last year for $5.3 billion in one of the biggest fintech exits of 2019.

From how to build products to how to build teams to what investors are looking for in startups in our crazy pandemic world, this panel has got you covered. Plus, because we are on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt 2020, we will be taking audience questions throughout the discussion. So come join the conversation as we figure out what 2020 means for the startup world this decade.

Get your pass today to Disrupt 2020. It’s 100% virtual, which means we 100% want to see you there!

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Let’s just say it has been a year. While a few ambitious startups like InVision and GitLab built their corporate cultures and talent hiring with a remote-first mentality, the reality is that the vast majority of founders never thought they would have to be socially distant from all of their employees. And it isn’t going to change: Google recently announced that all of their employees will be work from anywhere until summer 2021. We are only getting started with this new model of work.

Culture, productivity and speed are absolutely vital to the survival of early-stage startups, but how do you build growth and momentum in a remote-only world? And how are investors approaching this new environment and the opportunities that our changing patterns of work mean for us?

These are critical questions, which is why we are hosting a panel of VC investor superstars to talk more about them on the Extra Crunch stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020.

First, we have Sarah Cannon, partner at Index Ventures, who is perhaps best known in the Valley these days for her ambitious bet behind productivity tool Notion, which valued the relatively nascent startup at a cool $2 billion. Cannon has also backed messaging app Quill as well as Pitch, which offers collaboration around presentation documents. Future of work has been her bread and butter, and we’re excited to hear what she thinks is next in productivity and how startups will grow going forward.

Next, we have Sarah Guo, who is a general partner at Greylock. Guo also has been investing in the future of work and B2B tools, including Clubhouse (not the Clubhouse you are thinking about), which helps dev teams collaborate more effectively. In addition, she has backed family benefits platform Cleo and a panoply of cybersecurity companies — an area that has become acutely important as the classic perimeter of the workplace office has been replaced with employee laptops scattered across locations worldwide.

Third and finally on this panel we have Dave Munichiello, who is a general partner at GV. He’s backed a little social tool called Slack (I refuse to call it a productivity tool, but that might be one person’s opinion), as well as that remote-first startup GitLab, which has received upwards of a $3 billion valuation, and fintech infra company Plaid, which was sold to Visa last year for $5.3 billion in one of the biggest fintech exits of 2019.

From how to build products to how to build teams to what investors are looking for in startups in our crazy pandemic world, this panel has got you covered. Plus, because we are on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt 2020, we will be taking audience questions throughout the discussion. So come join the conversation as we figure out what 2020 means for the startup world this decade.

Get your pass today to Disrupt 2020. It’s 100% virtual, which means we 100% want to see you there!

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Wendell Brooks has resigned as president of Intel Capital


When Wendell Brooks was promoted to president of Intel Capital, the investment arm of the chip giant, in 2015, he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was taking over from Arvind Sodhani, who had run the investment component for 28 years since its inception. Today, the company confirmed reports that Brooks has resigned that role.

Wendell Brooks has resigned from Intel to pursue other opportunities. We thank Wendell for all his contributions and wish him the best for the future,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch in a rather bland send off.

Anthony Lin, who has been leading mergers and acquisitions and international investing, will take over on an interim basis. Interestingly, when Brooks was promoted, he too was in charge of mergers and acquisitions. Whether Lin keeps that role remains to be seen.

When I spoke to Brooks in 2015 as he was about to take over from Sodhani, he certainly sounded ready for the task at hand. “I have huge shoes to fill in maintaining that track record,” he said at the time. “I view it as a huge opportunity to grow the focus of organization where we can provide strategic value to portfolio companies.”

In that same interview, Brooks described his investment philosophy, saying he preferred to lead, rather than come on as a secondary investor. “I tend to think the lead investor is able to influence the business thesis, the route to market, the direction, the technology of a startup more than a passive investor,” he said. He added that it also tends to get board seats that can provide additional influence.

Comparing his firm to traditional VC firms, he said they were as good or better in terms of the investing record, and as a strategic investor brought some other advantages as well. “Some of the traditional VCs are focused on a company-building value. We can provide strategic guidance and complement some of the company building over other VCs,” he said.

Over the life of the firm, it has invested $12.9 billion in more than 1,500 companies, with 692 of those exiting via IPO or acquisition. Just this year, under Brooks’ leadership, the company has invested $225 million so far, including 11 new investments and 26 investments in companies already in the portfolio.

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When Wendell Brooks was promoted to president of Intel Capital, the investment arm of the chip giant, in 2015, he knew he had big shoes to fill. He was taking over from Arvind Sodhani, who had run the investment component for 28 years since its inception. Today, the company confirmed reports that Brooks has resigned that role.

Wendell Brooks has resigned from Intel to pursue other opportunities. We thank Wendell for all his contributions and wish him the best for the future,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch in a rather bland send off.

Anthony Lin, who has been leading mergers and acquisitions and international investing, will take over on an interim basis. Interestingly, when Brooks was promoted, he too was in charge of mergers and acquisitions. Whether Lin keeps that role remains to be seen.

When I spoke to Brooks in 2015 as he was about to take over from Sodhani, he certainly sounded ready for the task at hand. “I have huge shoes to fill in maintaining that track record,” he said at the time. “I view it as a huge opportunity to grow the focus of organization where we can provide strategic value to portfolio companies.”

In that same interview, Brooks described his investment philosophy, saying he preferred to lead, rather than come on as a secondary investor. “I tend to think the lead investor is able to influence the business thesis, the route to market, the direction, the technology of a startup more than a passive investor,” he said. He added that it also tends to get board seats that can provide additional influence.

Comparing his firm to traditional VC firms, he said they were as good or better in terms of the investing record, and as a strategic investor brought some other advantages as well. “Some of the traditional VCs are focused on a company-building value. We can provide strategic guidance and complement some of the company building over other VCs,” he said.

Over the life of the firm, it has invested $12.9 billion in more than 1,500 companies, with 692 of those exiting via IPO or acquisition. Just this year, under Brooks’ leadership, the company has invested $225 million so far, including 11 new investments and 26 investments in companies already in the portfolio.



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Civic tech platform Mobilize launches a census hub for the 2020 count’s critical final stretch


With the already narrow window of remaining time to complete a census count abruptly cut short by the Trump administration, getting every person living in the U.S. to fill out the form, already a scramble in a normal census year, is a compound challenge in 2020.

The critical once-a-decade count determines everything from Congressional representation to Pell grants to funding for school lunch programs — and as of this week, as many as 60 million households remain unaccounted for. If left untallied, those individuals and their communities will be invisible when the time comes to allocate vital federal resources.

To rise to that challenge, the progressive volunteer and campaign coordination platform Mobilize is launching a central resource hub to empower census volunteers during the six-week final stretch. The civic tech startup noticed that a handful of nonprofits doing census work were already bringing campaigns onto the platform, and the new site, GetOutTheCount.com, will amplify those efforts and collect them in one place. 

Speaking with TechCrunch, Mobilize co-founder and CEO Alfred Johnson describes the task, reasonably, as “Herculean.” 

“Organizations are trying to reach communities and help them understand what they’re going to be asked in the census, what they’ll not be asked by the census and make sure… that those communities are aware of what their rights are here, are aware of what the deadlines are, and can be counted,” Johnson said. “Because we know that being counted is such a fundamental piece of being included in our democracy.”

One of the biggest challenges this census year is the focus on reaching historically undercounted Black, Latinx and indigenous communities — a key goal if the 2020 census is to capture U.S. demographic shifts and allocate resources and representation accordingly. With the shortened deadline, the pandemic and tens of millions of “hard to count” households left uncounted, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

“We’re facing this monumental challenge, particularly with COVID going on,” Johnson said. “It’s always hard to perform the census every 10 years and make sure that you’re getting accurate counts.

“It is additionally hard to do that if you’ve got a once-in-a-century pandemic that is preventing people from answering their mail, from answering the door, from all the things that would [lead to] a more representative count.”

Mobilize launched in early 2017 amidst the post-Trump surge of activism on the left and quickly became ubiquitous among progressive causes and candidates. In the 2020 Democratic primary contest, Biden, Bernie and everybody in between relied on the platform to marshal campaign volunteers and steer supporters. This January, the civic tech startup raised a $3.75 million Series A round led by progressive tech incubator Higher Ground Labs. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, a prominent Democratic donor, and Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital also contributed to the round.

The digital platform aims to both be a unifying resource to Democratic and progressive campaigns and to do what the events page on social networks like Facebook can’t. For Mobilize, that means translating what on a different platform might remain aspirational online activity into action. It accomplishes that by sending volunteers reminders, prompting them to invite friends and staying connected even after they take action to keep them engaged in similar campaigns.

Groups already coordinating their census campaigns on Mobilize include the NYC Census Bureau, CensusCounts and Fair Count, an organization founded by Fair Fight founder and former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams. Fair Count’s mission is to reach “hard to count” communities in Georgia, including the state’s historically undercounted Black male population, to win the state the resources and representation that reflect its reality.

GetOutTheCount.com lets anyone type in their zip code to see local census mobilization efforts coordinated across those organizations and others. It stands to reason that if you’re willing to phone bank to reach people who’ve yet to be counted for one group, you’d probably be willing to do it for a different one with overlapping goals. 

For Mobilize, the crucial final census push is something of a crucible for the platform’s power in a year that’s gone all-digital. Johnson has seen virtual events skyrocket on Mobilize as COVID-19 took root across the U.S. Prior to the pandemic, about a quarter of events were virtual — now they all are.  

Johnson acknowledges that the “headwinds” against an accurate census count in 2020 are very real, both politically and logistically, and particularly now that the Trump administration has trimmed the deadline. But he hopes that Mobilize is able to help organizations leverage the power of the platform’s network effect and its scalability during a national crisis that has a nation cooped up indoors rather than knocking on them.

In spite of the crisis, or perhaps because of it, Mobilize has seen a major uptick in volunteer signups between the months of April and July and expects August to be even bigger once the numbers are in.

“2020 is a very hard year for a lot of people for very real reasons,” Johnson said. “I think that is actually motivating even more civic engagement by virtue of the fact that people are wanting to see circumstances change and help their friends, neighbors [and] communities in this moment of existential crisis, on whatever axis you’re evaluating it.”

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With the already narrow window of remaining time to complete a census count abruptly cut short by the Trump administration, getting every person living in the U.S. to fill out the form, already a scramble in a normal census year, is a compound challenge in 2020.

The critical once-a-decade count determines everything from Congressional representation to Pell grants to funding for school lunch programs — and as of this week, as many as 60 million households remain unaccounted for. If left untallied, those individuals and their communities will be invisible when the time comes to allocate vital federal resources.

To rise to that challenge, the progressive volunteer and campaign coordination platform Mobilize is launching a central resource hub to empower census volunteers during the six-week final stretch. The civic tech startup noticed that a handful of nonprofits doing census work were already bringing campaigns onto the platform, and the new site, GetOutTheCount.com, will amplify those efforts and collect them in one place. 

Speaking with TechCrunch, Mobilize co-founder and CEO Alfred Johnson describes the task, reasonably, as “Herculean.” 

“Organizations are trying to reach communities and help them understand what they’re going to be asked in the census, what they’ll not be asked by the census and make sure… that those communities are aware of what their rights are here, are aware of what the deadlines are, and can be counted,” Johnson said. “Because we know that being counted is such a fundamental piece of being included in our democracy.”

One of the biggest challenges this census year is the focus on reaching historically undercounted Black, Latinx and indigenous communities — a key goal if the 2020 census is to capture U.S. demographic shifts and allocate resources and representation accordingly. With the shortened deadline, the pandemic and tens of millions of “hard to count” households left uncounted, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

“We’re facing this monumental challenge, particularly with COVID going on,” Johnson said. “It’s always hard to perform the census every 10 years and make sure that you’re getting accurate counts.

“It is additionally hard to do that if you’ve got a once-in-a-century pandemic that is preventing people from answering their mail, from answering the door, from all the things that would [lead to] a more representative count.”

Mobilize launched in early 2017 amidst the post-Trump surge of activism on the left and quickly became ubiquitous among progressive causes and candidates. In the 2020 Democratic primary contest, Biden, Bernie and everybody in between relied on the platform to marshal campaign volunteers and steer supporters. This January, the civic tech startup raised a $3.75 million Series A round led by progressive tech incubator Higher Ground Labs. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, a prominent Democratic donor, and Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital also contributed to the round.

The digital platform aims to both be a unifying resource to Democratic and progressive campaigns and to do what the events page on social networks like Facebook can’t. For Mobilize, that means translating what on a different platform might remain aspirational online activity into action. It accomplishes that by sending volunteers reminders, prompting them to invite friends and staying connected even after they take action to keep them engaged in similar campaigns.

Groups already coordinating their census campaigns on Mobilize include the NYC Census Bureau, CensusCounts and Fair Count, an organization founded by Fair Fight founder and former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams. Fair Count’s mission is to reach “hard to count” communities in Georgia, including the state’s historically undercounted Black male population, to win the state the resources and representation that reflect its reality.

GetOutTheCount.com lets anyone type in their zip code to see local census mobilization efforts coordinated across those organizations and others. It stands to reason that if you’re willing to phone bank to reach people who’ve yet to be counted for one group, you’d probably be willing to do it for a different one with overlapping goals. 

For Mobilize, the crucial final census push is something of a crucible for the platform’s power in a year that’s gone all-digital. Johnson has seen virtual events skyrocket on Mobilize as COVID-19 took root across the U.S. Prior to the pandemic, about a quarter of events were virtual — now they all are.  

Johnson acknowledges that the “headwinds” against an accurate census count in 2020 are very real, both politically and logistically, and particularly now that the Trump administration has trimmed the deadline. But he hopes that Mobilize is able to help organizations leverage the power of the platform’s network effect and its scalability during a national crisis that has a nation cooped up indoors rather than knocking on them.

In spite of the crisis, or perhaps because of it, Mobilize has seen a major uptick in volunteer signups between the months of April and July and expects August to be even bigger once the numbers are in.

“2020 is a very hard year for a lot of people for very real reasons,” Johnson said. “I think that is actually motivating even more civic engagement by virtue of the fact that people are wanting to see circumstances change and help their friends, neighbors [and] communities in this moment of existential crisis, on whatever axis you’re evaluating it.”



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If you’re exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley during Disrupt 2020 — or you plan to — do not miss this opportunity to sharpen your media skills. The first of our three-part interactive webinar series takes place on August 12th with The Dos and Don’ts of Working with the Press.

Pro tip: Our August webinar series is open only to folks exhibiting at Disrupt 2020. Don’t miss out — buy a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package now and gain entry to all three exclusive webinars. Then get ready to introduce your startup to thousands of global Disrupt 2020 attendees. Talk about opportunity knocking.

Media coverage can make or break a startup, especially in the early stages. Sharing your startup story — the journey, the capabilities, the benefits — in a concise, compelling way draws media interest. And positive media coverage attracts the potential customers and investors that can drive your business forward.

Still, no one’s born knowing this essential skill — it takes time and practice to develop. And no one gives better advice on how to talk to tech media than, well, tech media. Join TechCrunch writers and editors Greg KumparakAnthony Ha and Ingrid Lunden as they divulge tips and best practices when it comes to talking with the press.

You’ll come away with actionable steps to present yourself and your startup in the best possible light. That’ll come in handy while you exhibit in Digital Startup Alley. Hundreds of tech journalists from around the world will be there searching for great stories to tell. Give them something worth writing about.

And don’t forget — this is just the first of three webinars devoted to helping Digital Startup Alley exhibitors wring every ounce of opportunity out of their time at Disrupt. Be sure to add these two webinars to your calendar:

  • August 19 COVID-19’s Impact on the Startup World with panelists Nicola Corzine, executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center, and Cameron Stanfill, a VC analyst at PitchBook.
  • August 26 — Fundraising and Hiring Best Practices with panelists Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital and Brett Berson of First Round Capital.

Exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley lets you showcase your incredible startup to a global audience. Buy a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package, join the first of three exclusive webinars on August 12th, get comfortable talking to the press and learn how to make the best impression possible.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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If you’re exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley during Disrupt 2020 — or you plan to — do not miss this opportunity to sharpen your media skills. The first of our three-part interactive webinar series takes place on August 12th with The Dos and Don’ts of Working with the Press.

Pro tip: Our August webinar series is open only to folks exhibiting at Disrupt 2020. Don’t miss out — buy a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package now and gain entry to all three exclusive webinars. Then get ready to introduce your startup to thousands of global Disrupt 2020 attendees. Talk about opportunity knocking.

Media coverage can make or break a startup, especially in the early stages. Sharing your startup story — the journey, the capabilities, the benefits — in a concise, compelling way draws media interest. And positive media coverage attracts the potential customers and investors that can drive your business forward.

Still, no one’s born knowing this essential skill — it takes time and practice to develop. And no one gives better advice on how to talk to tech media than, well, tech media. Join TechCrunch writers and editors Greg KumparakAnthony Ha and Ingrid Lunden as they divulge tips and best practices when it comes to talking with the press.

You’ll come away with actionable steps to present yourself and your startup in the best possible light. That’ll come in handy while you exhibit in Digital Startup Alley. Hundreds of tech journalists from around the world will be there searching for great stories to tell. Give them something worth writing about.

And don’t forget — this is just the first of three webinars devoted to helping Digital Startup Alley exhibitors wring every ounce of opportunity out of their time at Disrupt. Be sure to add these two webinars to your calendar:

  • August 19 COVID-19’s Impact on the Startup World with panelists Nicola Corzine, executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center, and Cameron Stanfill, a VC analyst at PitchBook.
  • August 26 — Fundraising and Hiring Best Practices with panelists Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital and Brett Berson of First Round Capital.

Exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley lets you showcase your incredible startup to a global audience. Buy a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package, join the first of three exclusive webinars on August 12th, get comfortable talking to the press and learn how to make the best impression possible.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.



Source link

Clean.io raises $5M to continue its battle against malicious adtech


Clean.io, a startup that helps digital publishers protect themselves from malicious ads, recently announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding.

The Baltimore-based company isn’t the only organization promising to fight malvertising (such as ads that force visitors to redirect to another website). But as co-founder Seth Demsey told me last year, Clean.io provides “granular control over who gets to load JavaScript.”

CEO Matt Gillis told me via email this week that the challenge will “always” be evolving.”

“Just like an antivirus company needs to constantly be updating their definitions and improving their protections, we always need to be alert to the fact that bad actors will constantly try to evade detection and get over and around the walls that you put in front of them,” Gillis wrote.

The company says its technology is now used on more than 7 million websites for customers including WarnerMedia’s Xandr (formerly AppNexus), The Boston Globe and Imgur.

Clean.io team

Image Credits: Clean.io

Clean.io has now raised a total of $7.5 million. The Series A was led by Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from Real Ventures, Inner Loop Capital and Grit Capital Partners.

Gillis said he’d initially planned to fundraise at the end of February, but he had to put those plans on hold due to COVID-19. He ended up doing all his pitching via Zoom (“I saw more than my fair share of small NY apartments”) and he praised Tribeca’s Chip Meakem (whose previous investments include AppNexus) as “a world-class partner.”

Of course, the pandemic’s impact on digital advertising goes far beyond pausing Gillis’ fundraising process. And when it comes to malicious ads, he said that with the cost of digital advertising declining precipitously in late March, “bad actors capitalized on this opportunity.”

“We saw a pretty constant surge in threat levels from mid-March until early May,” Gillis continued. “Demand for our solutions have remained strong due to the increased level of attacks brought on by the pandemic. Now more than ever, publishers need to protect their user experience and their revenue.”

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Clean.io, a startup that helps digital publishers protect themselves from malicious ads, recently announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding.

The Baltimore-based company isn’t the only organization promising to fight malvertising (such as ads that force visitors to redirect to another website). But as co-founder Seth Demsey told me last year, Clean.io provides “granular control over who gets to load JavaScript.”

CEO Matt Gillis told me via email this week that the challenge will “always” be evolving.”

“Just like an antivirus company needs to constantly be updating their definitions and improving their protections, we always need to be alert to the fact that bad actors will constantly try to evade detection and get over and around the walls that you put in front of them,” Gillis wrote.

The company says its technology is now used on more than 7 million websites for customers including WarnerMedia’s Xandr (formerly AppNexus), The Boston Globe and Imgur.

Clean.io team

Image Credits: Clean.io

Clean.io has now raised a total of $7.5 million. The Series A was led by Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from Real Ventures, Inner Loop Capital and Grit Capital Partners.

Gillis said he’d initially planned to fundraise at the end of February, but he had to put those plans on hold due to COVID-19. He ended up doing all his pitching via Zoom (“I saw more than my fair share of small NY apartments”) and he praised Tribeca’s Chip Meakem (whose previous investments include AppNexus) as “a world-class partner.”

Of course, the pandemic’s impact on digital advertising goes far beyond pausing Gillis’ fundraising process. And when it comes to malicious ads, he said that with the cost of digital advertising declining precipitously in late March, “bad actors capitalized on this opportunity.”

“We saw a pretty constant surge in threat levels from mid-March until early May,” Gillis continued. “Demand for our solutions have remained strong due to the increased level of attacks brought on by the pandemic. Now more than ever, publishers need to protect their user experience and their revenue.”



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Extra Crunch Live: Join Eric Hippeau for a live Q&A on August 13 at 11am PT/2pm ET


The media landscape is changing rapidly. Even before COVID, media companies were looking at new revenue models beyond your standard banner ad, all the while trying to navigate the oft-changing world of social media and search, where a minor algorithm change can boost or tank traffic.

Anytime an industry is in the midst of a transformation is a great time for startups to capitalize. That’s why we’re amped to have Lerer Hippeau’s managing partner Eric Hippeau join us for an episode of Extra Crunch Live.

The episode will air at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on August 13. Folks in the audience can ask their own questions, but you must be an Extra Crunch member to access the chat. If you still haven’t signed up, now’s your chance!

Eric Hippeau served as CEO for the Huffington Post before co-founding Lerer Hippeau. He also served as chairman and CEO at Ziff-Davis, a former top publisher of computer magazines. He sits on the boards of BuzzFeed and Marriott International.

Lerer Hippeau portfolio companies include Axios, BuzzFeed, Genius, Chartbeat and Giphy. And while the firm has experience in media, that doesn’t mean the portfolio is squarely focused on it. Other portfolio companies include Casper, WayUp, Warby Parker, Mirror, HungryRoot, Glossier, Everlane, Brit + Co. and AllBirds, to name just a few.

As an early-stage investor, Hippeau knows what it takes for companies to get the attention of VCs and take the deal across the finish line. We’ll chat with Hippeau about some of the dos and don’ts of fundraising, his expectation for the next-generation of startups born in this pandemic world and which sectors he’s most excited to invest in.

As previously mentioned, Extra Crunch members are encouraged to bring their own questions to this discussion. Come prepared!

Hippeau joins an all-star cast of guests on Extra Crunch Live, including Mark Cuban, Roelof Botha, Kirsten Green, Aileen Lee and Charles Hudson. You can check out the full slate of episodes here.

You can find the full details of the conversation below.

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The media landscape is changing rapidly. Even before COVID, media companies were looking at new revenue models beyond your standard banner ad, all the while trying to navigate the oft-changing world of social media and search, where a minor algorithm change can boost or tank traffic.

Anytime an industry is in the midst of a transformation is a great time for startups to capitalize. That’s why we’re amped to have Lerer Hippeau’s managing partner Eric Hippeau join us for an episode of Extra Crunch Live.

The episode will air at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on August 13. Folks in the audience can ask their own questions, but you must be an Extra Crunch member to access the chat. If you still haven’t signed up, now’s your chance!

Eric Hippeau served as CEO for the Huffington Post before co-founding Lerer Hippeau. He also served as chairman and CEO at Ziff-Davis, a former top publisher of computer magazines. He sits on the boards of BuzzFeed and Marriott International.

Lerer Hippeau portfolio companies include Axios, BuzzFeed, Genius, Chartbeat and Giphy. And while the firm has experience in media, that doesn’t mean the portfolio is squarely focused on it. Other portfolio companies include Casper, WayUp, Warby Parker, Mirror, HungryRoot, Glossier, Everlane, Brit + Co. and AllBirds, to name just a few.

As an early-stage investor, Hippeau knows what it takes for companies to get the attention of VCs and take the deal across the finish line. We’ll chat with Hippeau about some of the dos and don’ts of fundraising, his expectation for the next-generation of startups born in this pandemic world and which sectors he’s most excited to invest in.

As previously mentioned, Extra Crunch members are encouraged to bring their own questions to this discussion. Come prepared!

Hippeau joins an all-star cast of guests on Extra Crunch Live, including Mark Cuban, Roelof Botha, Kirsten Green, Aileen Lee and Charles Hudson. You can check out the full slate of episodes here.

You can find the full details of the conversation below.



Source link

Register for our next pitch-off happening on August 13


Here’s a shout-out to all the early-stage founders attending Disrupt 2020. Don’t forget to register for our next Pitchers & Pitches — on August 13 — and get ready to hone your 60-second pitch to a razor’s edge.

If you’re not in the know, our ongoing Pitchers & Pitches webinar series is a pitch-off-masterclass-mashup. It’s a chance to deliver your best pitch to a panel of experts who will provide invaluable critique to help you craft a more compelling pitch. Better pitches equal more opportunities, amirite?

Anyone can benefit by attending Pitchers & Pitches, but only companies exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley can compete. Want to be eligible to pitch in next week’s event? Buy a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package here.

We’ll randomly select five startups to pitch, receive direct feedback and have a shot at taking the top prize. We love prizes…especially the kind that help build a better startup. The winning founders receive a consulting session with cela, a company that connects early-stage startups to accelerators and incubators that can help scale their businesses.

Here’s another great reason to exhibit in Digital Startup Alley. You get exclusive access to our three-part interactive webinar series. Check the dates and topics below:

  • August 12: The Dos and Don’ts of Working with the Press
  • August 19: COVID-19’s Impact on the Startup World
  • August 26: Fundraising and Hiring Best Practices

We’ll announce the pitching lineup — and the specific VC judges those founders need to impress — on August 12. Remember, only startups exhibiting at Disrupt 2020 are eligible to pitch. If you want in on the action, get yourself a Digital Startup Alley Package today.

Register here and join us for the next Pitchers & Pitches on August 13. And hey, even if you don’t compete, you’ll hear loads of good advice on ways to improve your presentation skills and make the most of your 60-second pitch.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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