The Galaxy Note 9 won’t be announced until August. You wouldn’t know it by reading the internet, however. Every nook and cranny of the upcoming phablet has been bared for the world, in a series of leaks over the past several weeks.
Sure, not all of them will pan out, but plenty have come from leakers with established track records, and enough of the details line up so as to paint a wholly believable portrait of the phone we’ll finally get an official look at early next month.
And then there’s this:
That’s a picture of Samsung CEO DJ Koh using what appears to be the Note 9 at a media event. The differences are subtle, but they’re there in the camera housing, which is among a few small visible changes to the upcoming device. Like, good on DJ Koh for using the company’s products, S Pen and all, but even by Samsung’s traditionally leaky standards, that’s a little silly.
Maybe Samsung doesn’t mind. Maybe it’s just happy to have everyone talking about the Note 9, while it’s hard at work on that folding phone we’ve heard so much about.
The above camera housing is in line with another recent post from perennial leaker, EVLeaks, which shows off a full front and back render of the upcoming handset:
S Pen? pic.twitter.com/xizmWw9J2W
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) July 17, 2018
There’s also an S Pen, with a yellow coat of paint that’s in line with the image the company sent out with the invite to the August event. The fingerprint sensor has been moved below the camera there, rather than next to it as it was on the Note 8. That was a clear mistake, and Samsung fixed it for the S9. Logic follows that they would do the same on the new Note.
That, in turn, appears to confirm this photo of an actual unit from Slashleaks, which bears an extremely effective “No photo allowed/Do not leak info” sticker. At least Samsung tried, I guess.
#Samsung – #GalaxyNote9 – Samsung Galaxy Note 9 live images leaked https://t.co/WEgJIsWtEy pic.twitter.com/kMwHm7kpBc
— /LEAKS (@Slashleaks) July 17, 2018
More (but not that much more, from the looks of it) will be revealed on August 9.
The blockchain revolution is coming, but you might not see it. That’s the view of Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project.
Speaking at the TC Sessions: Blockchain event in Zug, Switzerland, Behlendorf explained that much of the innovation that the introduction of blockchains are primed to happen behind this the scenes unbeknownst to most.
“For a lot of consumers, you’re not going to realize when the bank or a web form at a government website or when you go to LinkedIn and start seeing green check marks against people’s claims that they attended this university — which are all behind-the-scenes that will likely involve blockchain,” Behlendorf told interviewer John Biggs.
“This is a revolution in storage and networking and consumers.”
As for where blockchain might make a big impact, Behlendorf said he believes that the area of online identity is particularly ripe for change. Rather than relying on central systems such as Facebook or Twitter to hold information, blockchain solutions can potentially store information more securely and with more utility thanks to self-sovereign ID systems.
“That’s what gets me up in the morning more than almost every other use case,” Behlendorf said. “I think we’ve got something of a solution but’s only going to work if the end user experience of managing your identity and your personal data is made easy and made fluid. It [has to] feel something like your wallet when you pull out your driver’s license and show it.”
Hyperledger is providing the framework and tools that the foundation hopes will enable innovation in the blockchain space, and Behlendorf said that it currently has around 10 code bases, of which two are in production use with eight additional frameworks to build blockchains. He added that there are more options coming, thanks to Hyperledger focus on “organic” development ideas.
It might seem like an irony that blockchain projects, which can raise enormous amounts of money via token sales, are basing the technologies that power their businesses on open source tools, but Behlendorf said there’s nothing new in that situation versus how the Linux Foundation traditionally operates.
“There might be a few developers who get involved to improve their skills and reputation but the vast majority work on it because their business is investigating it, wants to use it or to do a pilot, so they have a responsibility to make sure it works,” Behlendorf explained.
“For them, knowing other companies are using it and making a profit is fine,” he added. “In fact, it’s a good thing.”
Community spirit is very much the focus, and Hyperledger has had to intervene in the rare cases that members have taken things too far.
“What you want to protect against is any one company benefitting from the brand or reputation that the community creates in a way that is unfair. So we do things like we protect the trademark… because that confuses the marketplace,” Behlendorf said.
“But we want to see companies building services on top of this. In fact, it’s essential to make this a virtuous circle.”
Apple’s Craig Federighi announced that Apple was doubling down on performance with the upcoming release of iOS 12 at the WWDC event in San Jose, Calif. today.
What’s more, he said, the company would be making these changes to the full range of iOS devices going back to 2013. “And so for iOS 12, we are doubling down on performance from top to bottom making improvements to make your device faster and more responsive. And because we want these changes to be available the full range of our customers, iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11,” Federighi told the WWDC audience.
Perhaps because customers were unhappy to learn about the battery issues with older iOS devices Federighi stressed that Apple has focussed these performance increases on older devices, giving people with older iPhones, the maximum lift. Using the iPhone 6 as an example, he gave some figures about performance increase, stressing that it was still early days. (As an iPhone 6 user, I was listening carefully.)
“Now on that device, iOS delivers a number of improvements. Across common operations you’ll see that apps launch up to 40% faster, the keyboard can come up to 50% faster and you can slide to take a photo at up to 70% faster,” he said.
But he said, the biggest focus, and one all iPhone users can appreciate, is that they are working to optimize performance when it’s under load. As Federighi said that’s when you need performance the most and where iOS 12 really shines.
“We put iOS 12 through our stress tests and we saw in those conditions share sheet coming up twice as fast, and apps launching twice as fast. These are big, big improvements,” he stressed.
Lastly, Apple also optimized iOS 12 at the chip level working with the chip team to optimize performance, while taking battery life into account. If you keep the power pedal to the metal for too long, you suck battery, but Apple is trying to find that perfect balance of power and battery life in iOS 12.
“CPUs traditionally respond to an increased demand for performance by slowly ramping up their clock speed. Well, now in iOS 12, we’re much smarter. When we detect that you need a performance lift when you’re scrolling and launching an app, we ramped up processor performance instantly to its highest state delivering high performance and a ramp it down just as fast to preserve battery life,” he said.
All of this will be available when iOS 12 is released later this year.
A new app called Siempo wants to un-addict you from your smartphone and its numerous attention-stealing apps. To do so, Siempo replaces an Android device’s homescreen, while also taking advantage of a number of design principles to push distractions further away, and give you more control over your notifications.
The startup, which launched a few weeks ago on Google Play, actually began as a hardware company.
A hardware startup shifts to software
In 2015, the original co-founders Andreas Gala and Jorge Selva began developing a minimalist feature phone device called Minium, in response to their concerns with today’s always-on culture. But designing hardware from scratch is hard, so they pivoted to making a mindful smartphone called Siempo using an existing handset from China.
The following year, Siempo brought on Mayank Saxena (CTO), who previously ran data storage engineering teams at NetApp, and Andrew Dunn (now CEO), who was previously the number sixteen employee at Flexport.
“I struggled with smartphone and social media addiction as a teenager and had been working on a wearable to help people balance their relationship with tech,” explains Dunn. And Mayank, he says, “had become increasingly concerned about raising balanced children in the digital age,” prior to joining Siempo.
Unfortunately, when the company tried raising funds on Kickstarter in 2017, it didn’t meet its goal.
What the team had underestimated was how difficult it is to convince people to switch smartphones. And in this case, it wasn’t just asking them to buy new hardware – it was a request to try a whole new type of mobile experience, too.
Although the Kickstarter failed, it had provided the team with valuable feedback.
“When we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we heard from dozens of potential backers that they loved our concept but would much prefer to try and pay for a software version on their existing devices,” says Dunn. “We knew we could still build ninety-five percent of what we wanted to, so it was a clear path to explore.”
At this point, the original co-founders moved on to other projects, leaving Dunn to take the helm.
The new project, he says, appealed to him because of the negative nature of today’s technology.
“The attention economy is making people more distracted, stressed, lonely and depressed,” Dunn says. “Big Tech is unlikely to take meaningful leadership in humane design, and individuals are at a loss for what to do because developing healthier digital habits is a long-term, manual, iterative process,” he adds.
Siempo, currently in beta, aims to address this problem with a set of features that should appeal to anyone questioning if they’ve become too addicted to their phone.
After downloading the launcher from the Play Store, you can set Siempo as your default home app – meaning, you’ll now interact with its humanely designed interface instead of the stock version from your smartphone’s maker.
To lessen your attachment to your device, Siempo reverses some of the persuasive, psychologically addicting techniques that have been built into our phone software and mobile apps by developers who specifically engineered their apps to increase user engagement, without fully understanding the ethics of that decision.
Entire OS platforms and massive social media companies like Facebook have, over the years, created systems to reward users who continually check in with their phones. These dopamine-driven feedback loops create a cycle of smartphone addiction, with users having no tools to fight back beyond their own willpower.
The world is just now starting to wake up to these mistakes, including some people who built the systems in the first place.
For instance, former Facebook president Sean Parker has said Facebook’s design exploited weakness in the human psyche to addict users, while former head of user growth turned VC Chamath Palihapitiya admitted to having “tremendous guilt” over what Facebook had become. Meanwhile, former Google exec Tristan Harris created a coalition called the Center for Humane Technology, in an effort to “realign technology with humanity’s best interests.”
And digital wellness is now a movement raking in millions.
Siempo fits in within this broader category of self-care apps focused on a more balanced use of technology.
How Siempo works
Once installed, Siempo makes your homescreen a calmer interface, without things like badged icons or colorful corporate logos. Here, you can personalize a message that appears when you unlock your phone – like a daily mantra – and in an update rolling out Wednesday, you’ll be able to set a custom background or turn on a dark mode.
One of the launcher’s key features is how it lets you batch your notifications.
Instead of allowing apps to alert you at any time they choose, you can configure your phone to send your alerts on a schedule you prefer – like every half hour, the top of the hour, or – if you want to go all in – just once per day. (You can choose which apps, if any, are allowed to break through.)
Siempo also leverages a number of design techniques to distance you from your distractions, including by unbranding app icons and turning them to greyscale.
Plus, the launcher organizes apps into a tiered menu system where distracting apps are further away on a third page, and the location of those apps is randomized upon each visit to prevent unconscious opens and usage.
“Users have reported that merely the act of identifying which apps they want to use less creates a huge shift in their relationship with that app,” notes Dunn.
The app has now been endorsed by the Center for Humane Technology as an example of humane design.
Siempo has raised funds from Backstage Capital and other investors for its project. To date, Siempo raised $555,000 for its hardware project and $400,000 for its software.
The app is free during its beta, but plans to implement a pay-as-you-want subscription starting at $1 per month – this will make the app accessible to everyone, no matter how much they can spend. The company says it’s also talking to several startup smartphone brands to become their default interface.
Longer-term, Dunn believes the Siempo experience can span platforms.
“Siempo will be a unified layer across all your tools – smartphone, desktop, tablet, wearables, etc. – protecting your attention, preventing unconscious usage and improving mental health,” he says. “We are excited to build out an A.I. interface that can learn the user’s behavior and adjust their digital world to support their goals and intentions,” Dunn adds, speaking of what he envisions Siempo can become.
“We aim to be a good, trusted, impactful tech company that is on the user’s side, respecting their wellbeing and privacy,” he says.
The app is available on Google Play, as that platform allows for this level of change and customization. A modified version may arrive on iOS in the future.
TechCrunch just announced our first-ever Startup Battlefield MENA taking place in Beirut, Lebanon in October. We’re hitting the road to meet with regional early-stage startups, investors and entrepreneurs in July. Sign up below.
Startups and investors can meet the TechCrunch team and learn more about TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield program. Founders will learn how to apply for Startup Battlefield with a solid application, and investors will learn how to refer early-stage companies in their portfolio.
We’ll be visiting Tunis, Cairo, Dubai and Beirut to meet with founders, investors, angels and established entrepreneurs across the Middle East and North Africa.
Startup Battlefield is TechCrunch’s renowned startup launch competition. The Startup Battlefield alumni community comprises almost 765 companies that have raised more than $8 billion USD and produced over 105 successful exits and IPOs.
Applications are now open, and founders can apply here until July 31. You can also refer founders here and speakers or judges here.
For questions, please email email@example.com
Hold the dates in your calendar below, and sign up here to get updates as RSVP links go live.
2018 TechCrunch MENA Meet and Greets
July 12th, ThursdayHost: CogiteTime: 6:30pm to 8:30pmRSVP
July 17th, TuesdayHost: TBDTime: TBDRSVP COMING SOON
July 18th, WednesdayHost: TBDTime: TBDRSVP COMING SOON
July 24th, TuesdayHost: TBDTime: TBDRSVP COMING SOON
July 26th, ThursdayHost: TBDTime: TBD
RSVP COMING SOON
Virtru, the security startup that came out of research at the NSA, announced a $37 million Series B financing round today led by Iconiq Capital.
The company also announced the formation of Virtru Labs, an entity to be led by company co-founder and CTO Will Ackerly. The Lab will act as an innovation engine for the company, while trying to make Virtru’s underlying technology, Trusted Data Format (TDF), an industry standard for exchanging data securely in a similar manner that PDF developed into a standard way of exchanging documents.
CEO and co-founder John Ackerly (and brother of Will) says this has been a goal since the earliest days of the company and starting the lab is one of the reasons they wanted to raise this round. “My brother and I firmly believe you need an open framework in order to achieve the vision of true default security,” he told TechCrunch.
They believe by investing time and dollars to get third parties to adopt the TDF and adopting all tiers of this data format, it could remove the friction we have today when data is being shared across systems, while eliminating vendor lock-in.
The company currently offers tools for end-to-end email encryption in G-Suite and Office 365, but they hope to expand to file sync and share applications and chat. They also want to promote technical partnerships through the SDK they launched earlier this year. Finally, they want to expand globally by growing a channel partner system.
Ackerly says all of that takes money and that’s why they went looking for this round. It didn’t hurt that the company has experienced explosive growth over the last year adding 3000 new customers for a total of over 8000 using their products, while tripling revenue (they did not provide an exact figure).
Ackerly says one of the reasons for this growth is an increasing desire on the part of users to have a trust mechanism for sharing information online. “If you look at our partnership with Google, with Microsoft, with Amazon; these are all platform companies that are coming to grips with this privacy imperative. We are in a crisis of trust as a society and Virtru has always taken the approach of partnering closely because these workflows matter to end users,” he said. He adds that this really wouldn’t work if the company tried to create a new set of tools.
Vitru has around 80 employees today and Ackerly expects that to grow by around 50 percent over the coming year as they move into new markets, grow the lab and expand channel and partner support.
The round was led by Iconiq Capital with participation from returning investors Bessemer Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Samsung, Blue Delta Capital, and Soros Capital. Today’s round brings the total raised to over $76 million since the company was founded in 2011.
Share on Twitter
Maggie Lane is a writer and producer of virtual reality experiences and covers the industry for various publications.
More posts by this contributor
Does Ready Player One reveal the future of VR?
Last month at San Diego Comic-Con, I fulfilled my childhood (and let’s be honest, current) dream of stepping inside a NickToon. In Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VR Interview Experience, I interacted with turtles Mikey and Donnie — voiced live by series talent Brandon Mychal Smith and Josh Brener, respectively.
I stood against a green screen, selected an avatar (I chose Arnold from Hey Arnold!), put on an Oculus Rift headset and was transported onto a New York City rooftop. I inhabited a 3D form, but as I looked ahead, I saw two 2D turtles. I interviewed the characters in real time, and their movements perfectly corresponded to their answers — there was no discernible lag.
Given that AI isn’t able to match the conversational speed and nimbleness of real humans just yet, companies like Oculus are experimenting with using live actors in their VR experiences to approximate in-person interactions. However, this was the first time I’ve experienced a live melding of 3D and 2D worlds in VR.
Behind the scenes, this “magic” was made possible by four computers, two puppeteers, two voice actors and a team of eight people running the various stations. (The crew were all wearing ninja bandanas, naturally). Adobe Character Animator, Epic Unreal Engine and NewTeK NDI were all used to create the interview experience. The pièce de résistance was the bright purple keyboard that was piloted by two team members (one for each turtle). Each key featured a different animated pose, so the actions of the turtles could be “animated” in real time, akin to playing a symbol piano.
According to Chris Young, SVP of the Entertainment Lab, the impetus of the activation was that his team was looking for an innovative way to help socialize Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at SDCC, so they came up with the idea of a VR press junket.
Mikey and Donnie in Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live” virtual reality interview experience
The Entertainment Lab has been exploring all aspects of virtual cinema pipelines with animated characters; using full body and facial performance capture, and doing real-time playback in game engines. Per Chris: “Whether it’s streaming live performances into virtual experiences or recorded for a more traditional linear output, these techniques create another tool that we can use to create compelling content for our audience.”
Even without the bandanas, the team had great synergy: “The best part about my team is that everyone brings a different expertise. From artists to engineers, the combination of skills and background made this creatively and technically possible,” said Chris.
Although I teased the turtles for being “flat” in my interview, I love that this creative choice was made. It would have been unsettling to suddenly see what is 2D in 3D.
For example, I enjoy the premise and plot of Virtual Rick-Ality, but one of my main criticisms of the game is the connection between assets. Rick and Morty the animated series is 2D, but the game makes them into bulbous characters. This disconnect is off-putting and hurts the immersion of the game.
Although the VR Interview Experience was created specifically for Comic-Con and Nickelodeon doesn’t currently have plans to release a version to the public, they are toying around with other activations for fans.
However, VR isn’t where exploration ends for Nickelodeon, they’re also dabbling in AR. Nick’s new SCREENS UP initiative, first launched at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards, allows viewers to hold their mobile devices (or more likely, parent’s mobile devices) up to the screen while watching to reveal hidden AR content.
This app-driven TV and mobile experience is one of the first in the U.S. designed for kids and families. Expect to see more hybrids like this in the future, as it encourages the watching of live TV as well as app downloads; two desirable outcomes for television content providers.
Overall, the best part of my Ninja Turtles Comic-Con demo was how silly and good-natured it all was. With heavy headsets and an onslaught of first-person shooters, VR can be kind of serious! This felt social and delightful — the improvisational nature of the conversation allowed me to forget I was in a digital space, I was just hanging out with some dope turtles. It’s a credit to Nickelodeon that they could make something this complex look like child’s play.
The “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Live” virtual reality experience was built entirely in-house by Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab, which spearheads long-range research and development efforts around new technologies for Nickelodeon and its audience. Chris Young is the SVP of the Entertainment Lab, overseeing its creation. The new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series premieres September 17th on Nickelodeon.
Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News.
More posts by this contributor
Global VC market sees highest-ever concentration of supergiant dollar volume in Q4 2018
SoftBank’s Vision Fund inches closer to $100B
Illinois’s startup market in 2018 was very strong, and it’s not slowing down as we settle into 2019. There’s already almost $100 million in new VC funding announced, so let’s take a quick look at the state of venture in the Land of Lincoln (with a specific focus on Chicago).
In the chart below, we’ve plotted venture capital deal and dollar volume for Illinois as a whole. Reported funding data in Crunchbase shows a general upward trend in dollar volume, culminating in nearly $2 billion worth of VC deals in 2018; however, deal volume has declined since peaking in 2014.1
Chicago accounts for 97 percent of the dollar volume and 90.7 percent of total deal volume in the state. We included the rest of Illinois to avoid adjudicating which towns should be included in the greater Chicago area.
In addition to all the investment in 2018, a number of venture-backed companies from Chicago exited last year. Here’s a selection of the bigger deals from the year:
After raising $57 million in total venture funding, meal kit delivery company Home Chef was acquired by grocery chain Kroger for $200 million.
Government technology platform provider CityBase was acquired by GTY Technology Holdings for $160 million. The company had raised $13.1 million from investors prior to the acquisition.
Maestro Health, an employee benefits company, was acquired for $155 million by insurance giant AXA Group. Maestro Health had raised roughly $53 million in known venture funding.
Crain’s Chicago Business reports that 2018 was the best year for venture-backed startup acquisitions in Chicago “in recent memory.” Crunchbase News has previously shown that the Midwest (which is anchored by Chicago) may have fewer startup exits, but the exits that do happen often result in better multiples on invested capital (calculated by dividing the amount of money a company was sold for by the amount of funding it raised from investors).
2018 was a strong year for Chicago startups, and 2019 is shaping up to bring more of the same. Just a couple weeks into the new year, a number of companies have already announced big funding rounds.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more notable deals struck so far this year:
On Thursday, commercial real estate search firm Truss raised $15 million in additional financing, extending the Deerfield, IL-based company’s Series A round. The deal was led by Boston-based General Catalyst. The deal brings Truss’s total equity and debt funding to more than $24 million.
Learning management system company BenchPrep announced $20 million in a Series C round co-led by Chicago-based Jump Capital and Bay Area-based Owl Ventures, LP. Part of that capital reportedly comes in the form of debt. The SEC filing for the round, dated December 2018, discloses that $14.53 million was raised in an equity offering, of which $2,999,999 was used to buy shares from “certain executive officers” at the company.
Delivery service Bringg raised $25 million in Series C funding, which was led by Next47. Other investors in the deal include The Coca-Cola Company, Salesforce Ventures and Aleph. Bringg’s customers include Walmart and McDonald’s. The company has raised at least $52 million in known venture funding to date.
Besides these, a number of seed deals have been announced. These include relatively large rounds raised by 3D modeling technology company ThreeKit, upstart futures exchange Small Exchange and 24/7 telemedicine service First Stop Health.
Globally, and in North America, venture deal and dollar volume hit new records in 2018. However, it’s unclear what 2019 will bring. What’s true at a macro level is also true at the metro level. Don’t discount the City of the Big Shoulders, though.
Note that many seed and early-stage deals are reported several months or quarters after a transaction is complete. As those historical deals get added to Crunchbase over time, we’d expect to see deal and dollar volume from recent years rise slightly.
Cathay Pacific, one of the main airlines in Hong Kong, says records on as many as 9.4 million passengers may have been stolen in a data breach.
The airline said in a statement Wednesday that there was “no evidence” that passenger data had been misused, but warned that passenger names, dates of birth, nationalities, phone numbers, email and postal addresses, and passport and identity card numbers may have been taken. Historical travel information and remarks made by customer service was also accessed.
A little over 400 expired credit card numbers were accessed, including 27 credit card numbers without verification numbers.
No passwords were taken in the breach, the company said.
The company said that it first identified unauthorized access to its systems in March, but didn’t say why it took more than six months to reveal the breach publicly. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours. That might be a problem for the company in Europe, where the recently introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now requires organizations to notify the authorities and customers of a breach within three days. Companies flouting the law can face fines of up to four percent of their global annual revenue.
The company didn’t say if European authorities were notified, but Hong Kong police are investigating the breach.
Chief executive Rupert Hogg apologized for the breach. “We acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and to further strengthen our IT security measures,” he said.
The airline is one of the largest and oldest airlines around, jetting more than 30 million passengers around the world each year.
It’s the second airline security incident this year. British Airways admitted a website and app breach earlier this year, which security researchers later found was caused by credit card skimming malware injected on its site.
British Airways breach caused by credit card skimming malware, researchers say
CBS’ over-the-top streaming service, CBS All Access, is now available for the first time outside the U.S. The network today announced the service has arrived in Canada, ahead of a planned international expansion that will see the streaming service coming to more markets outside the U.S. in the future.
There are some differences between the U.S. version of the service and the one now live in Canada.
While in the U.S. subscribers can choose from either an ad-supported or a commercial-free tier at $5.99 per month or $9.99 per month, respectively, Canadian viewers will only have a commercial-free option available at $5.99 CAD per month.
The subscription offers access to more than 7,500 on-demand episodes, including full current seasons of CBS shows, entire past seasons of current shows and full seasons of some classic shows.
Current season shows like NCIS, Survivor, Elementary and Madam Secretary will be available, as will original series like The Good Fight and No Activity. However, the Canadian service will only offer the first season of The Good Fight, and most notably will lack Star Trek: Discovery — as CBS sold the international streaming rights elsewhere. Bell Media, for example, has Discovery, which set an audience record for its premiere in September.
More than 30 classic shows like Charmed, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O and CSI will be offered, too, as well CBS daytime and late-night shows such as The Talk, Rachael Ray and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
CBS’ 24/7 streaming news service, CBSN, is also bundled with the Canadian subscription, as it has been in the U.S. since August 2017.
The streaming service at launch works across several platforms, including the web via cbsallaccess.ca, plus iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices, Apple TV and Chromecast. Other connected devices will be supported in the coming months, the company says.
CBS All Access has been live in the U.S. since October 2014, and has been steadily growing its subscriber base since.
As of the first quarter of 2018, the service, combined with Showtime’s over-the-top offering, has reached a total of more than 5 million subscribers — ahead of the company’s estimated goal of reaching 8 million subscribers for both services by 2020.
CBS has not detailed what other markets will gain the service next, only that further expansions are planned.
“The launch of CBS All Access in Canada is a significant milestone for the service,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer, CBS Interactive, in a statement. “We’ve experienced incredible growth domestically and see a great opportunity to bring the service and CBS’ renowned programming directly to international audiences across a range of platforms and devices. We look forward to continuing to expand CBS All Access across additional platforms, with even more content, and bringing the service to other markets around the world.”
With one fell swoop, President Trump just swapped out the “warrior scholar” for the warmonger.
I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
Today Trump tweeted that General H.R. McMaster will step down as John Bolton, a deeply controversial former U.S. ambassador, steps into the role of national security advisor. Bolton will move into the high-ranking foreign policy advisor position just as the U.S. is approaching talks with North Korea, an extremely delicate diplomatic maneuver between two volatile leaders.
Last month, Bolton argued the legal case for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea — an extreme position in which even the best case scenario could result in broad carnage for the U.S. and its allies.
Bolton established his extreme and hawkish reputation during his tenure as the undersecretary of state for arms control during the Bush administration. In that advisory position, Bolton argued strongly in favor of the Iraq war, tying his justification to the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction.
If most people could agree that McMaster was a respectable choice for national security advisor, just as many seem to oppose Bolton becoming a prominent figure in shaping Trump’s foreign policy. When Bolton’s name was floated just after the election, Republican Senator Rand Paul penned an op-ed denouncing Bolton as “hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the US has made in the last 15 years.”
While McMaster was sometimes characterized as a cautious futurist, Bolton’s record on tech is less clear. We’re sure to learn more about the new advisor’s various postures quickly, as Bolton stirs up bipartisan anxiety around U.S. foreign policy, particularly in Iran and North Korea.
After the swift fall of Michael Flynn in early 2017 and the quick appointment of McMaster, Bolton will become Trump’s third national security advisor in less than two years.
A Y Combinator-backed startup, JetLenses, is taking on the major contact lens e-commerce sites, like 1-800-Contacts, Lens.com, and other online ordering systems offered by major retailers, such as Walmart. The startup’s goal is to bring down the cost of prescription products by automating the overhead associated with these businesses, in areas like prescription verification, order tracking, compliance and fulfillment, then pass those savings on to customers.
The company also promises fair and transparent pricing, so there aren’t surprises at checkout, and offers customers free shipping on their orders.
JetLenses was founded by Dhaivat Pandya, the son of an eye doctor who studied Statistics and Computer Science at Harvard. His background allowed him to identify the market inefficiencies in this business, in order to develop a new solution, he says.
“It was a space where doing this kind of work – engineering and data science – would have an immediate impact that I could see on a day-to-day basis,” Pandya explains as to why he decided to target the prescription lenses market. “A lot the reason why contact lenses are so expensive is just overhead,” he says.
Around 20 percent of the time, the online sites run into issues when verifying customer prescriptions. For example, the eye doctor may have relocated their practice, and their phone and fax numbers changed.
This ends up eating away a lot of time in terms of human labor, as staff has to research if the practice still exists and locate their new contact information before they can proceed with the verification. JetLenses, meanwhile, will instead try to first match the doctor’s information to a data set it maintains of existing practices to find a match, then locate the new phone number and fax automatically
It also automatically faxes the office to verify the prescription, and processes the doctor’s office response.
The company is leveraging data science around the logistics of order fulfillment, too, in order to determine which fulfillment partner to use for each incoming order.
These sorts of engineering tasks may already be common to larger e-commerce shopping sites, but haven’t really been put to work in the prescription lenses market, Pandya says.
He says JetLenses’ lower pricing comes from these improvements – it’s not just slashing prices to attract customers.
“Our margins are basically identical to others in the space,” he notes. “The goal is not to alter the business by just selling [lenses] for cheaper.”
While not a comprehensive review, I tried out online ordering on JetLenses before speaking to the company, to see how it compared with my usual site, 1800Contacts.com. I was fairly surprised to find that a 6-pack of my Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism lenses were $32.99 on JetLenses, compared with the $51.99 I usually pay. (1800Contacts encourages shoppers to buy 4 boxes per eye at once, to get a $40 rebate on these lenses. But that’s a lot to spend all at once.)
JetLenses will honor the manufacturer rebates, too, and works with customers’ vision insurance plans.
The website itself is a little wonky in parts, but it’s only been online since the fall. You’ll need to know your lens brand and do a search rather than try to browse your way. as the site navigation is somewhat lacking, I found. But to save nearly $20 a box? Worth it.
JetLenses isn’t the only contacts lens e-commerce startup out there right now. Another, Hubble, raised $73.7 million last year for its own brand of daily disposable lenses, sold on subscription. That’s the not route JetLenses is going.
Instead, it aims to apply these data science techniques to other prescription businesses, like dental products or prescription creams.
For now, the startup is focused on raising a seed round following Y Combinator’s Demo Day to scale the business more quickly.