Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review.
Last week, we dove into the truly bizarre machinations of the NFT market. This week, we’re talking about something that’s a little bit more impactful on the current state of the web — Apple’s NeuralHash kerfuffle.
the big thing
In the past month, Apple did something it generally has done an exceptional job avoiding — the company made what seemed to be an entirely unforced error.
In early August — seemingly out of nowhere** — the company announced that by the end of the year they would be rolling out a technology called NeuralHash that actively scanned the libraries of all iCloud Photos users, seeking out image hashes that matched known images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). For obvious reasons, the on-device scanning could not be opted out of.
This announcement was not coordinated with other major consumer tech giants, Apple pushed forward on the announcement alone.
Researchers and advocacy groups had almost unilaterally negative feedback for the effort, raising concerns that this could create new abuse channels for actors like governments to detect on-device information that they regarded as objectionable. As my colleague Zach noted in a recent story, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation said this week it had amassed more than 25,000 signatures from consumers. On top of that, close to 100 policy and rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, also called on Apple to abandon plans to roll out the technology.”
(The announcement also reportedly generated some controversy inside of Apple.)
The issue — of course — wasn’t that Apple was looking at find ways that prevented the proliferation of CSAM while making as few device security concessions as possible. The issue was that Apple was unilaterally making a massive choice that would affect billions of customers (while likely pushing competitors towards similar solutions), and was doing so without external public input about possible ramifications or necessary safeguards.
A long story short, over the past month researchers discovered Apple’s NeuralHash wasn’t as air tight as hoped and the company announced Friday that it was delaying the rollout “to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”
Having spent several years in the tech media, I will say that the only reason to release news on a Friday morning ahead of a long weekend is to ensure that the announcement is read and seen by as few people as possible, and it’s clear why they’d want that. It’s a major embarrassment for Apple, and as with any delayed rollout like this, it’s a sign that their internal teams weren’t adequately prepared and lacked the ideological diversity to gauge the scope of the issue that they were tackling. This isn’t really a dig at Apple’s team building this so much as it’s a dig on Apple trying to solve a problem like this inside the Apple Park vacuum while adhering to its annual iOS release schedule.
Apple is increasingly looking to make privacy a key selling point for the iOS ecosystem, and as a result of this productization, has pushed development of privacy-centric features towards the same secrecy its surface-level design changes command. In June, Apple announced iCloud+ and raised some eyebrows when they shared that certain new privacy-centric features would only be available to iPhone users who paid for additional subscription services.
You obviously can’t tap public opinion for every product update, but perhaps wide-ranging and trail-blazing security and privacy features should be treated a bit differently than the average product update. Apple’s lack of engagement with research and advocacy groups on NeuralHash was pretty egregious and certainly raises some questions about whether the company fully respects how the choices they make for iOS affect the broader internet.
Delaying the feature’s rollout is a good thing, but let’s all hope they take that time to reflect more broadly as well.
** Though the announcement was a surprise to many, Apple’s development of this feature wasn’t coming completely out of nowhere. Those at the top of Apple likely felt that the winds of global tech regulation might be shifting towards outright bans of some methods of encryption in some of its biggest markets.
Back in October of 2020, then United States AG Bill Barr joined representatives from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, India and Japan in signing a letter raising major concerns about how implementations of encryption tech posed “significant challenges to public safety, including to highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children.” The letter effectively called on tech industry companies to get creative in how they tackled this problem.
Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:
LinkedIn kills Stories
You may be shocked to hear that LinkedIn even had a Stories-like product on their platform, but if you did already know that they were testing Stories, you likely won’t be so surprised to hear that the test didn’t pan out too well. The company announced this week that they’ll be suspending the feature at the end of the month. RIP.
FAA grounds Virgin Galactic over questions about Branson flight
While all appeared to go swimmingly for Richard Branson’s trip to space last month, the FAA has some questions regarding why the flight seemed to unexpectedly veer so far off the cleared route. The FAA is preventing the company from further launches until they find out what the deal is.
Apple buys a classical music streaming service
While Spotify makes news every month or two for spending a massive amount acquiring a popular podcast, Apple seems to have eyes on a different market for Apple Music, announcing this week that they’re bringing the classical music streaming service Primephonic onto the Apple Music team.
TikTok parent company buys a VR startup
It isn’t a huge secret that ByteDance and Facebook have been trying to copy each other’s success at times, but many probably weren’t expecting TikTok’s parent company to wander into the virtual reality game. The Chinese company bought the startup Pico which makes consumer VR headsets for China and enterprise VR products for North American customers.
Twitter tests an anti-abuse ‘Safety Mode’
The same features that make Twitter an incredibly cool product for some users can also make the experience awful for others, a realization that Twitter has seemingly been very slow to make. Their latest solution is more individual user controls, which Twitter is testing out with a new “safety mode” which pairs algorithmic intelligence with new user inputs.
Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:
Our favorite startups from YC’s Demo Day, Part 1
“Y Combinator kicked off its fourth-ever virtual Demo Day today, revealing the first half of its nearly 400-company batch. The presentation, YC’s biggest yet, offers a snapshot into where innovation is heading, from not-so-simple seaweed to a Clearco for creators….”
“…Yesterday, the TechCrunch team covered the first half of this batch, as well as the startups with one-minute pitches that stood out to us. We even podcasted about it! Today, we’re doing it all over again. Here’s our full list of all startups that presented on the record today, and below, you’ll find our votes for the best Y Combinator pitches of Day Two. The ones that, as people who sift through a few hundred pitches a day, made us go ‘oh wait, what’s this?’
All the reasons why you should launch a credit card
“… if your company somehow hasn’t yet found its way to launch a debit or credit card, we have good news: It’s easier than ever to do so and there’s actual money to be made. Just know that if you do, you’ve got plenty of competition and that actual customer usage will probably depend on how sticky your service is and how valuable the rewards are that you offer to your most active users….”
Decoupling tech supply chains would do more harm than good – TechCrunch
For a technology sector that would much prefer to focus on growth over geopolitics, the push for U.S.-China “decoupling” poses an inescapable threat. The fuzziness of the concept only increases the danger.
U.S. distrust of China, particularly in technology, is nothing new. Indeed, Congress took action to keep Huawei and ZTE out of U.S. telecommunications almost a decade ago, during the Obama administration.
But during the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, there was a broad push to engage in dialogue and find common ground between the world’s two biggest economies. As China emerged as a leading global economy and became an increasingly important trading partner to the U.S., (accounting for 2.5% of U.S. imports in 1989 and rising to a peak of 21.6% in 2017), there were moves to incorporate it into the U.S.-led global trading system. In 2005, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick put forward the idea of China as a “Responsible Stakeholder,” under the assumption that embracing China’s entry into the global trading system would ensure that it helped that system continue to function.
Not long before that, the U.S. had agreed to China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization. But while it was seen by many as a turning point, it was really just a waypoint. That year, China’s share of U.S. imports was already 9.0%. Growth in Chinese imports, moreover, reflected a rebalancing of Asian trade more than anything else; from 1989 to 2017, Asia’s share (including China) of U.S. imports grew from 42.3% to just 45.2%. China’s relative growth instead ate into the share of countries like Japan and Malaysia, reflecting a reordering within Asia. The standard system of trade accounting overplayed this shift, as a good that was finished in China and had 10% Chinese value added would count as 100% Chinese for trade statistics.
Regardless of what was labeled as produced where, the bottom line was that a well-developed Asian supply chain incorporated China as a major player. With increased engagement, however, and very different economic systems, the points of economic disagreement between China and the United States accumulated. During the Trump administration, dialogue took a back seat to new trade barriers. The United States applied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports and China responded with barriers of its own. Although the Trump tariffs were initially cast as temporary measures meant to achieve finite policy objectives, some key policymakers within the Trump administration saw value in diminished interaction between the two countries.
Matthew Pottinger, who served as Deputy National Security Adviser under President Trump, subsequently wrote that “important U.S. institutions, especially in finance and technology, cling to self-destructive habits acquired through decades of ‘engagement,’ an approach to China that led Washington to prioritize economic cooperation and trade above all else.” His solution calls for bold steps “to frustrate Beijing’s aspiration for leadership in … high-tech industries.” The Biden administration recently announced, after a prolonged review, that it was maintaining the Trump tariffs and Congress has pushed to fund initiatives that would subsidize technological independence. These moves for lessening dependence, particularly in technology, have fallen under the broader rubric of “decoupling.”
Amidst all the newfound enthusiasm for U.S. decoupling from China, one might imagine that the term is well-defined. Yet it takes relatively little probing to discover a lack of clarity. Of course, the above-mentioned tariffs have served to discourage trade between the two countries, but how far is this policy meant to go?
Does decoupling mean the U.S. will turn away from inbound and outbound foreign direct investment? What about portfolio investment, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasuries? Does it mean that the U.S. should avoid importing final goods produced by Chinese firms? What about European firms producing in China? What about U.S. firms producing in China? Or European or U.S. firms producing outside China but incorporating Chinese parts? Or companies selling into the Chinese market and thus, presumably, subject to Chinese influence?
The sheer breadth of economic interactions between the two giant economies illustrates the implausibility of a clean divide between them. Instead, the most likely result of an attempt at exclusion would be another reordering, not China’s disappearance as a supply chain power. This is particularly true when other global economic powers, such as the European Union, do not share even the vague objective of decoupling.
TechCrunch Global Affairs Project
The nebulous nature of the decoupling push poses a particular threat to the tech sector. Over decades, the push to take advantage of scale economies and to drive down production costs has resulted in highly-integrated global tech production. Further, in subsectors that have recently emerged as particularly contentious, such as the production of semiconductors, investments have to be made at large scale and well in advance. That leaves the sector especially vulnerable to rapidly-shifting rule changes, as policymakers struggle to give substance to a problematic concept at a time of difficult supply chain disruptions. Policy responses that shower the sector with subsidies, as some bills in Congress have proposed, seem appealing, but lose their effectiveness when countries such as Japan move to match them.
A world in which the United States provides an extreme answer to the above questions and is absolutist in its separation from China is likely to be one in which the United States cripples itself technologically, denying itself access to globally-competitive sourcing and empowering competitors elsewhere. The only politically viable alternative at the moment, a world in which the United States takes a more moderate stance and struggles to find a middle ground, is likely to be an unpredictable one in which rules are constantly evolving.
In either case, proponents of U.S.-China decoupling will find such a move counterproductive. Far from resolving strategic policy concerns, its primary impact may be to challenge U.S. technology leadership instead.
Software product company Arbisoft on the growing startup market in Pakistan – TechCrunch
“In 2007, I, along with a few other colleagues, founded Arbisoft because we loved solving a variety of computing problems rather than staying close to one particular domain or technology vertical. We felt it was much easier to do that in a software services company than a software product company,” says Yasser Bashir, co-founder of Arbisoft. “In addition to our love for software development, we also had strong ideas on the kind of culture that would likely inspire smart people to do their best in a technology-focused organization. Arbisoft is a manifestation of many of those ideas.”
Over the past two weeks, Anna Heim has interviewed Bashir from Arbisoft as part of our Experts project. They were recommended to us through our survey; we’d love to know which software consultants you’d recommend to other startups. We also had guest columns focused on growth marketing about growth tactics and early-stage comm teams, but more on that below.
Recommended by: Omri Traub, CEO of Popcart
Testimonial: “We were able to create a high-performance dev team that includes dev, QA and DevOps. We had access to top talent and, importantly, elasticity in hiring. If we wanted to add a developer, we could have an incredible one join our team in under one week. It would have taken us weeks and months to recruit and hire a developer in Boston or the U.S.”
Consultant: Solwey Consulting
Recommended by: Paul Shaked, Sandland
Testimonial: “They helped us tremendously — a not so great dev team in Europe built our site with no documentation and lots of sloppy code, but Solwey was able to come in and sort through everything. Not to mention, our e-comm site is built on a headless CMS x Shopify checkout. Solwey was one of the only teams that was able to jump in and really get things to a good place with almost no major delays due to tech debt.”
Recommended by: Ryan Doney, Ad Lunam
Testimonial: “I vetted several different consultancies, and Planetary not only brought technical expertise to the table, but their startup-specific mindset meant that it was incredibly easy to get aligned on our mission, and how to best build it. Josh is a great talent, and he’s built a remarkable team. Their work dramatically cut down our time to market, as well as giving us a ready-made jumping off point to start iterating on our product.”
Recommended by: Anonymous
Testimonial: “The OpenCubicles team helped us improve our infrastructure utilization, response time and other aspects critical to e-commerce success. We were able to rationalize cloud infrastructure costs due to thorough analysis and optimization. They helped us automate many aspects of operations. Would recommend to those looking for reliable technology services, especially e-commerce development.”
Recommended by: Philip Deng, Grantable
Testimonial: “They are focused on helping startups succeed and they care deeply about the missions of the companies they help. They brought us way forward in terms of our design and also connected us with lots of thoughtful people beyond the company who have helped us move forward.”
Arbisoft co-founder Yasser Bashir on building trust with early-stage startups: Anna and Bashir spoke about how Arbisoft has grown over the past 13 years, how they build trust with their clients and the startup scene in Pakistan. Bashir says, “I have been very involved with the startup and tech ecosystem in the country since its inception. It is indeed taking off like a rocket ship right now, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. This year, startups raised more funding than all of the previous years combined. Arbisoft is excited because many of these startups need technology services, and therefore, we have a new and exhilarating market at our disposal.”
Marketer: Ki from WITHIN
Recommended by: Anonymous
Testimonial: “Ki has been supporting our business for over three years, and every time he finds unique ways to exceed expectations. From launching new products that sell out in days rather than weeks, being able to onboard new members of our team so they can contribute faster, and being someone that can work at a strategic level with our VPs and at the data-driven level with analysts, his range is truly outstanding and I believe he is in the 1% of the 1% of marketers.”
Marketer: Kaveh from WITHIN
Recommended by: Anonymous
Testimonial: “Kaveh is one of the most empathetic and collaborative marketers I have ever worked with. Our team was largely brand marketers and Kaveh did a great job of bridging their world and our profit-optimized media strategy seamlessly (even if it meant an after-hours marketing jam session). Not only that, but you could tell he really cared about the brand, catching small issues with the site and sharing them with the team proactively, etc.”
(TechCrunch+) Smart growth tactics put account-based marketing within reach for startups and SMBs: Jonas van de Poel, head of content marketing at Unmuted, says, “For many startups and SMBs, successfully setting up account-based marketing strategies can feel like a pipe dream. Startups still struggling to find product-market fit wouldn’t dream of being able to identify and map out their ideal customer profile (ICP) clearly enough. At the same time, small and midsize businesses often lack the resources to invest in elaborate multitouch-point content marketing strategies.” Van de Poel shares what account-based marketing is, the importance of mapping a customers journey to marketing content and more.
(TechCrunch+) Hiring is just the first step when building an early-stage comms team: Yousuf Khan, partner at Ridge Ventures, writes about not just the importance of having an early-stage comms team, but the importance of communicating with them. Khan says, “It’s not just important to have relationships between executives and media — you should have solid relationships with your comms people, too. Allow them to get to know you, your likes and dislikes, the environments in which you thrive and where you feel most comfortable.”
SaaS on Oct. 27th – TechCrunch
This year automation hit center stage when robotic process automation (RPA) vendor UiPath went public after raising $2 billion in private investment. Investors who had been a part of that were richly rewarded when it closed above its private valuation. At the same time, established companies like ServiceNow, Microsoft, IBM and others were seeing the value in building automation into their product sets.
We are fortunate to have three people who have been smack dab in the middle of this trend on a panel called “Automation’s Moment Is Now” at TC Sessions: SaaS happening on October 27th. Those panelists include UiPath CEO Daniel Dines; Laela Sturdy, general partner at CapitalG and Dave Wright, chief innovation officer at ServiceNow.
Dines’ company, which went public in April, concentrates mostly on RPA, and is the market leader according to Gartner, but automation has many dimensions beyond RPA, including no-code/low-code tools and workflow automation. As we wrote on in an article on the hot automation market earlier this year:
What we have here is a frothy mix of startups and large companies racing to provide a comprehensive spectrum of workflow automation tools to empower companies to spin up workflows quickly and move work involving both human and machine labor through an organization.
RPA helps companies automate a series of mundane legacy tasks, which can include human intervention or not. Think of pulling information from an insurance claim, adding it to a spreadsheet and emailing a human administrator with the needed information — and doing all of this without a human touching it.
ServiceNow got into RPA in March when it bought Indian startup Intellibot. It also has several tools for low-code and workflow automation, and with the Intellibot purchase, other acquisitions and organic development, has built automation across its entire platform.
Sturdy was an investor in UiPath and serves on its board. Other investments include Stripe, Cloudflare and Credit Karma, which Intuit bought last year for $7.1 billion. She was also the captain of the women’s basketball team while attending Harvard, and participated in the 1998 NCAA basketball tournament, helping defeat No. 1 Stanford in a huge upset.
We’re going to discuss why automation is coming to the fore now, the role of the pandemic in its rising popularity and whether it’s a jobs killer or if it’s actually making life easier for employees.
We hope you’ll join us at TechCrunch Sessions: SaaS on October 27th. We’ll also be talking to Monte Carlo CEO Barr Moses, Microsoft executive Jared Spataro and investor Casey Aylward.
Tech watchdog campaign challenges big tech for hiding behind small business – TechCrunch
Time and time again, tech’s most powerful companies have pushed the narrative that any threat to their own trillion-ish dollar businesses will trickle down, hurting the small companies that rely on their products.
But counter to the warm and fuzzy anecdotes that big tech has rolled out over the years, some business owners struggle with relying so heavily on massive, opaque corporations and often have little recourse if things go wrong.
Those struggles are the kind of thing that tech watchdog group Accountable Tech wants to draw attention to with its new awareness push, “Main Street Against Big Tech.” The six figure campaign includes a full-page ad in San Jose’s daily paper the Mercury News next week, digital ads across social platforms and an ongoing video series highlighting experiences from small business owners that run counter to the PR narratives from tech companies.
The project has received support from the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Rising, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and the American Economic Liberties Project.
“The [campaign] really underscores the litany of Big Tech’s harms to which these small business owners are subject – from misleading and unreliable data, to hidden costs and sudden changes to rules or algorithms that can kneecap their entire company without any access to customer service,” Accountable Tech co-founder Jesse Lehrich told TechCrunch. “Each entrepreneur has their own story and reason for speaking out.”
Lehrich calls Facebook’s longstanding PR campaign around standing up for small business “incredibly cynical and opportunistic” — a position that some Facebook employees appear to share. The reality of running a business on big tech platforms isn’t always rosy for small business owners, who are subject to the whims of massively powerful corporations they have only a tenuous relationship with.
“They are completely at the mercy of these giants, with little access to legitimate metrics or customer service,” Lehrich said. “It’s not a partnership; it’s exploitation.”
Public sentiment also seems to be moving into a phase where people widely acknowledge that even free tech platforms extract a cost, whether that’s in the form of privacy sacrifices or the endless streams of user-created content that provide a canvas for advertising.
Small businesses may rely on tools from dominant tech companies, but that doesn’t mean that in theory an upstart competitor couldn’t build something that serves them just as well or better. “This is how monopolies and oligopolies work –– these Big Tech corporations and their services are only ‘essential’ because they’ve engaged in an endless array of anticompetitive behavior to ensure they’re the only game in town,” Lehrich told TechCrunch.
As Congress wrestles with how to update laws designed for an era well before internet businesses even existed, the biggest companies in tech will continue to lean into their market dominance, leaving businesses and users alike stuck with what they’ve got.
“In an effort to avoid regulatory scrutiny, monopolists like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have spent millions of dollars persuading lawmakers and the public that their business products are a lifeline for small businesses when in fact the opposite is true,” Accountable Tech Co-Founder and Executive Director Nicole Gill said. “… But now small business owners are fighting back by sharing their lived experience to expose the real relationship between Big Tech and Main Street.”
Network your way to opportunity at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 – TechCrunch
TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 kicks off in just five days on October 27. Attendees from around the globe will be in the virtual room ready to connect with founders, investors, engineers and journalists. Are you ready to take advantage of every networking opportunity to build a stronger SaaS-based startup?
But first: Buy your pass now to avoid the price increase at the virtual “door.” Take advantage of group savings when you purchase four or more passes ($45 each). Students and recent grads pay just $35.
Whether you’re looking for funding, a startup worthy of investment, a co-founder, media exposure or your first post-grad job, we’re here to help make networking as easy and efficient as possible.
Start with CrunchMatch, our free, AI-powered platform. It makes quick work out of finding the people you most want to meet. People whose business goals align with yours. Simply answer a few questions when you register, and you’ll receive an email with everything you need to know to access the platform — including the attendees list.
The CrunchMatch algorithm gets to work, finds suitable connections and, with your permission, sends out meeting invitations. Schedule 1:1 video meetings to pitch your company, offer product demos or conduct interviews with prospective employees.
Pro Tip: The sooner you register, the sooner you’ll have access to the attendees list. Set up meetings through CrunchMatch before TC Sessions: SaaS starts and line up those RSVPs in advance.
If you’re looking for a more casual way to connect, we’ve got you covered with our virtual platform.
“The chat feature made it easy to connect with participants. People got creative using it to promote their business, like posting a LinkedIn profile or offering 15-minute time slots to review business pitches. I even saw a product-naming competition. You could find lots of opportunity rolling through the chat area.” — Ada Lau, Manager of Market Development, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.
TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 takes place on October 27. Check out the event agenda and take advantage of this opportunity to network with the leading minds and makers in SaaS. You never know where one conversation might take you. Buy your pass today and come find out.Find your next investor or new job at TC Sessions: SaaS on Oct. 27
Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.
How newcomer River plans to fill a gap in India’s competitive EV two-wheeler market – TechCrunch
Two wheelers have long been a cornerstone of life in India — their smaller size and affordability making these traditionally gas and diesel-powered vehicles a go-to means of navigating the traffic-jammed streets of the country’s most populous cities.
Now, a new startup called River has come out of stealth with an electric two-wheeler scooter — and accompanying subscription services — designed to appeal to modern-day consumers looking for an affordable, yet stylish vehicle that can be used for work, play and every task in between.
River, founded in late 2020 by Aravind Mani and Vipin George with $2 million in backing from Maniv Mobility and TrucksVC, has grown to 42 people in its short life. Its small and growing team, who hail from companies like Ather, Arai, Bosch, Honda, Ultraviolette and Vespa, have developed a prototype vehicle that will be unveiled to consumers later this year.
Both founders also have experience in two-wheeled transport. Mani, an engineer who once worked in the petrochemicals industry before switching to electrified transportation, was most recently vice president of business strategy at Ultraviolette before he left to form River. George worked at Honda R&D in India for eight years, including as head designer, and most recently was design lead at Ultraviolette.
The pair wanted a two-wheeler robust enough to be used as a tool for work or any other task while amping up the performance and style to make it useful and fun for all of the other hours in the day.
“A parallel would be the truck culture in the United States; if you’re carpenter or shop owner you have a truck, which you use to carry stuff and it’s also your primary mode of commute,” Mani said. “We don’t have anything similar on the two-wheeler space in India, and that’s what we want to create.”
At the same time, Mani noted the vehicle also had to have personality because “in India it is still a status purchase that you want to show off to your friends; it is a first symbol that you have arrived in life for many people owning a two wheeler.”
What they came up with is a “multi-utility” two-wheeled electric scooter codenamed the RX-1 that is available in several battery pack sizes that can travel between 100 km (62 miles) and 180 km (112 miles) on a single charge.
The vehicle can accelerate from zero to 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) in 4 seconds and has a top speed of 80 kmph (50 mph). And because its main focus is as a multi-utility vehicle, it has a payload of 200 kilograms, enough for a rider to carry packages.
The price, which depends on the battery pack, ranges between 80,000 INR ($1,070) and 100,000 INR ($1,337).
River’s launch comes at a fruitful yet fiercely competitive moment in India.
India’s government, keen to accelerate the adoption of EVs in an effort to get away from polluting gas and diesel powered vehicles, have increased subsidies for electric two-wheelers made in the country. India’s Department of Heavy Industries now offers incentives that provides Rs 15,000 ($200) per kilowatt-hour. The cap on subsidies has also doubled to 40% of the price of the vehicle.
At the same time, there is also an effort by e-commerce and delivery companies, including Flipkart, Swiggy and Zomato to electrify fleets. Zomato to have EV-only fleets by the end of the decade. Startup Swiggy announced in August it would cover 800,000 kilometers (497,000 miles) every day via electric vehicles by 2025. In February, Walmart-owned Flipkart said it would deploy more than 25,000 electric vehicles in its supply chain by 2030.
“About 60% to 70% of the country is self employed and two wheelers are a basic part of the Indian livelihood,” co-founder Aravind Mani said in an interview, adding that e-commerce has driven growth with an estimated 14 million fleet delivery riders in India today. “COVID has actually accelerated this trend, and on demand services are continuously increasing.”
These opportunities have fueled the launch of hundreds of EV startups. There are more than 470 EV companies registered in India, according to March 2021 research note from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
“The gold rush to capture this emerging opportunity has commenced,” the report from managing director and senior analyst Venugopal Garre said. “A few will get acquired, several will perish, some will remain low scale niche OEMs, but we think a few will scale up materially.”
River is going up against bigger and better funded competitors like Ola Electric, Bounce and Aether Energy as well as dozens of smaller outfits. But River’s co-founders contend their new vehicle and business model fills a gap in the market.
River plans to sell directly to consumers and offer a suite of subscription services and an array of accessories that lets owners customize their scooters and remove them there needs change throughout the day. Sales are expected to begin in the second half of 2022.
The company plans to offer charging, battery packs that will range in size, maintenance and connectivity packages offered through subscriptions. River is not going to take on the costly task of building out charging infrastructure. Instead, the company plans to operate a charging franchise system. Mani said the company is already working set of small businesses that might buy the vehicles and chargers and open up the chargers for public use.
River wants to sell its scooters directly to businesses like restaurants as well as to fleet operators and even larger ecommerce companies that can sell to consumers.
The startup will assemble the scooters at what Mani described as “small scale manufacturing facilities” that can turnout around 3,000 vehicles a month. If successful, River wants to create a number of these facilities throughout India. Mani said River has reached initial agreements with several suppliers, including for the co-development and assembly of its battery packs.
All Things Must Pass – TechCrunch
It’s been several weeks now, and Clubhouse still hasn’t enabled record/replay. Neither has Twitter Spaces. Facebook just announced a live audio entry too, but no record. With all the drama about Facebook, I’m not expecting much soon, but c’mon guys, let’s get it done.
I’m loving Youtube TV, which lets me cherry pick hours of cable news repetition and cut to the chase. The collapse of one of the two major political parties puts new pressure on the other one to get things done. This edition of the Gang surfaces the oft-referenced collapse of journalism. Cable news takes a complex struggle like the two infrastructure bills and turns it into a horse race. Is it Manchin’s fault or Sinema’s rudeness to the press? Are the Progressives overreaching with not enough strength where it counts, at the ballot box? As Biden’s poll numbers decline, the chances of a Republican takeover of the House in the midterms improve. C’mon guys.
The Beatles continue to amaze, as evidenced by the latest remix extravaganza of the ill-fated Let It Be sessions. Coming as they did in the wake of the fractious White Album, Paul McCartney’s self-appointed leadership of the group spurred a struggle between rehearsals at Twickenham Studios and reconstituted recordings at a makeshift studio in the basement of the group’s Apple headquarters on Saville Row. The later sessions were topped off with a live 42-minute performance on the building’s roof.
51 years later (with a year tacked on thanks to the pandemic) the Let It Be release is deconstructed into book, remixed expansions of the eventual release of the material, and a 3-part 6-hour documentary of the project helmed by director Peter Jackson. As with earlier versions of Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles (White Album), and Abbey Road, the expansions prove over and over again how the Beatles and their producer George Martin seized control of the top of the charts and never surrendered it. Even the steady stream of failures of the Let It Be project illustrated how the band moved to blend the individual personalities of its members and their almost biochemical skills as writers to achieve what is now fairly uniformly perceived as the greatest creative force of the pop, rock, and pre-social worlds.
No small credit goes to the precision and command of the recording process by the engineers of the EMI Studios, which were renamed Abbey Road in the wake of the triumphant album recorded just after the sessions of Let It Be. The studio was fundamentally a laboratory where engineers wore white lab coats and followed a hierarchical structure that constrained climbing the ranks based on seniority and not innovation. It took the Beatles many years to subvert the process, but their global success gave them bargaining power to generate their own material, which then led to expanding recording hours from a single 9 to 5 session for their first record to all night odysseys that burned out engineers and broke open an avenue for young emergent talent.
So it was that 19-year old Geoff Emerick arrived just in time as the Beatles’ decision to end touring and precipitated the experiments that began with Revolver and blossomed with Sgt. Pepper and later Abbey Road. While EMI was slow to adopt the wave of studio innovations driven by the American studios, the careful use of mixing down 3 of the common 4 available tracks produced a composite feel of live and complex stacking of instruments, vocals, and orchestral arrangements. Th4 advent of digital recording and mixing gave today’s engineers led by George Martin’s son Giles the tools to pull apart the interim recordings and produce remixes that went beyond even what the original recordings seemed to capture.
Disney has just released a 4-minute trailer of the enhanced Get Back filming, whetting our appetite for the Thanksgiving special on Disney+. The Beatles’ film career started off smashingly with Hard Days Night, floated off in a marijuana haze with Help, and collapsed miserably with a self-produced TV special Magical Mystery Tour. But the Get Back trailer restores not only the struggles and fighting of the sick-of-each-other prisoners of Beatlemania, but also the magic of the group’s camaraderie and humor. My favorite scene of Help features the Fab Four walking up to identical doors on a London street, and entering into a common apartment on the other side of the wall. The trailer reopens that door for another minute, where the band’s self-prophetic references spurred the shared myth of the Beatles into a reality greater than the sum of its parts.
the latest Gillmor Gang Newsletter
The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, September 24, 2021.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang
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