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Behold, Slack’s new logo

New year, new you, new Slack. The popular workplace chat service’s resolution clearly involved a bit of a facelift, starting with a new logo. A redesigned version of the familiar grid logo launched this week, and appears to have rolled out on most major platforms.
Slack did the customary thing of explaining the hell out of the new design over on its blog. All of the usual stuff about maintaining the spirit while modernizing the thing a bit is there. The company also calls the design “simpler,” which is certainly up for debate. That’s fair enough from the standpoint of the color scheme, but try drawing this one from memory. It’s considerably tougher that the old tic-tac-toe version.

The new logo does away with the tilted hashtag/pound symbol of overlapping translucent colors in favor of a symmetrical arrangement of rounded rectangles and pins. The multiplying colors have been pared down to four (light blue, magenta, green and yellow) and the whole effect is reminiscent of a video game console or hospital.
“It uses a simpler color palette and, we believe, is more refined, but still contains the spirit of the original,” the company writes. “It’s an evolution, and one that can scale easily, and work better, in many more places.”

Created by Michael Bierut at the New York firm Pentagram Design, the new logo marks the first major redesign since the company was launched (in fact, the original apparently predates Slack’s official launch).
“The updated palette features four primary colors, more manageable than the original’s eleven, which suffered against any background color other than white,” the firm writes in its own post. “These have been optimized to look better on screen, and the identity also retains Slack’s distinctive aubergine purple as an accent color.”
The new design does potentially open up another issue:

The negative space in the new Slack logo makes it look like a whimsical swastika.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk about how the internet has ruined my brain forever. pic.twitter.com/6Mv1FiuJY4
— Eric Scott Johnson (@HeyHeyESJ) January 16, 2019

Slack.
Slack come on.
Making your logo a swastika is literally the easiest fucking thing to avoid in design.
How does no one catch this. pic.twitter.com/77MZlasDFJ
— Abomina-Sean (@Sean8UrSon) January 16, 2019

Unintentional, obviously, and the orientation of the above negative space addition is the ancient symbol that was later mirrored and co-opted by the worst people, ever. As a number of designers have noted, well, these things can happen, though the association and “once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it” effect could eventually prove the new logo’s ultimate undoing.

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Lance Armstrong just wrote his first check as VC

Lance Armstrong revealed last month that an early investment in Uber — courtesy of a $100,000 check that he funneled into the company in 2009 through Lowercase Capital — “saved” his family from financial ruin. This was after evidence surfaced in 2012 that he used performance-enhancing drugs and he was stripped not only of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles but also lost the many lucrative endorsement deals he enjoyed at the time.
Armstrong, talking with CNBC in December, declined to say how big a return that Uber investment has produced, but it seemingly gave him a taste for the riches that venture capital can produce when the stars align. To wit, Armstrong just founded his own venture fund, Next Ventures, to back startups in the sports, fitness, nutrition and wellness markets, and it today announced is first investment.
That portfolio company: Carlsbad, Calif.-based PowerDot, a 2.5-year-old maker of an app-based, smart muscle stimulation device that sends electrical pulses to contract tender soft tissue, helping runners and other athletes recover from their workouts.
We weren’t able to talk with Armstrong — a public relations spokesperson for the firm said he isn’t prepared to speak in detail about it yet — but last month, he spoke candidly about his past actions continuing to haunt him, including years of lying to the public and race organizers, as well as his “bullying,” which he called “terrible,” adding: “It was the way I acted; that was my undoing.”
In fact, Armstrong, who has been banned from cycling from life, said that as he has begun reaching out for meetings, not everyone is eager to take his calls. As he told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, “You have to assume that’s what they’re thinking: ‘I don’t want this association; I don’t trust this guy.'”
Armstrong seems to be getting by in the meantime. Just this week, Architectural Digest took readers on a tour through Armstrong’s contemporary Aspen home and his art collection. Armstrong purchased the 6,000-square-foot home a decade ago. He and his family now live in Colorado full-time.

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Lance Amstrong just wrote his first check as VC

Lance Armstrong revealed last month that an early investment in Uber — courtesy of a $100,000 check that he funneled into the company in 2009 through Lowercase Capital — “saved” his family from financial ruin. This was after evidence surfaced in 2012 that he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he was stripped not only of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles but also lost the many lucrative endorsement deals he enjoyed at the time.
Armstrong, talking with CNBC in December, declined to say how big a return that Uber investment has produced, but it seemingly gave him a taste for the riches that venture capital can produce when the stars align. To wit, Armstrong just founded his own venture fund, Next Ventures, to back startups in the sports, fitness, nutrition and wellness markets, and it today announced is first investment.
That portfolio company: Carlsbad, Ca.-based PowerDot, a 2.5-year-old maker of an app-based, smart muscle stimulation device that sends electrical pulses to contract tender soft tissue, helping runners and other athletes recover from their workouts.
We weren’t able to talk with Armstrong — a public relations spokesperson for the firm said he isn’t prepared to speak in detail about it yet — but last month, he spoke candidly about his past actions continuing to haunt him, including years of lying to the public and race organizers, as well as his “bullying,” which he called “terrible,” adding: “It was the way I acted; that was my undoing.”
In fact, Armstrong, who has been banned from cycling from life, said that as he has begun reaching out for meetings, not everyone is eager to take his calls. As he told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, “You have to assume that’s what they’re thinking: ‘I don’t want this association; I don’t trust this guy.”
Armstrong seems to be getting by in the meantime. Just this week, Architectural Digest took readers on a tour through Armstrong’s contemporary Aspen home and his art collection. Armstrong purchased the 6,000-square-foot home a decade ago. He and his family now live in Colorado full-time.

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Robots learn to grab and scramble with new levels of agility

Robots are amazing things, but outside of their specific domains they are incredibly limited. So flexibility — not physical, but mental — is a constant area of research. A trio of new robotic setups demonstrate ways they can evolve to accommodate novel situations: using both “hands,” getting up after a fall, and understanding visual instructions they’ve never seen before.
The robots, all developed independently, are gathered together today in a special issue of the journal Science Robotics dedicated to learning. Each shows an interesting new way in which robots can improve their interactions with the real world.
On the other hand…

First there is the question of using the right tool for a job. As humans with multi-purpose grippers on the ends of our arms, we’re pretty experienced with this. We understand from a lifetime of touching stuff that we need to use this grip to pick this up, we need to use tools for that, this will be light, that heavy, and so on.
Robots, of course, have no inherent knowledge of this, which can make things difficult; it may not understand that it can’t pick up something of a given size, shape, or texture. A new system from Berkeley roboticists acts as a rudimentary decision-making process, classifying objects as able to be grabbed either by an ordinary pincer grip or with a suction cup grip.
A robot, wielding both simultaneously, decides on the fly (using depth-based imagery) what items to grab and with which tool; the result is extremely high reliability even on piles of objects it’s never seen before.
It’s done with a neural network that consumed millions of data points on items, arrangements, and attempts to grab them. If you attempted to pick up a teddy bear with a suction cup and it didn’t work the first ten thousand times, would you keep on trying? This system learned to make that kind of determination, and as you can imagine such a thing is potentially very important for tasks like warehouse picking for which robots are being groomed.

Interestingly, because of the “black box” nature of complex neural networks, it’s difficult to tell what exactly Dex-Net 4.0 is actually basing its choices on, although there are some obvious preferences, explained Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg in an email.
“We can try to infer some intuition but the two networks are inscrutable in that we can’t extract understandable ‘policies,’ ” he wrote. “We empirically find that smooth planar surfaces away from edges generally score well on the suction model and pairs of antipodal points generally score well for the gripper.”
Now that reliability and versatility are high, the next step is speed; Goldberg said that the team is “working on an exciting new approach” to reduce computation time for the network, to be documented, no doubt, in a future paper.
ANYmal’s new tricks

Quadrupedal robots are already flexible in that they can handle all kinds of terrain confidently, even recovering from slips (and of course cruel kicks). But when they fall, they fall hard. And generally speaking they don’t get up.
The way these robots have their legs configured makes it difficult to do things in anything other than an upright position. But ANYmal, a robot developed by ETH Zurich (and which you may recall from its little trip to the sewer recently), has a more versatile setup that gives its legs extra degrees of freedom.
What could you do with that extra movement? All kinds of things. But it’s incredibly difficult to figure out the exact best way for the robot to move in order to maximize speed or stability. So why not use a simulation to test thousands of ANYmals trying different things at once, and use the results from that in the real world?

This simulation-based learning doesn’t always work, because it isn’t possible right now to accurately simulate all the physics involved. But it can produce extremely novel behaviors or streamline ones humans thought were already optimal.
At any rate that’s what the researchers did here, and not only did they arrive at a faster trot for the bot (above), but taught it an amazing new trick: getting up from a fall. Any fall. Watch this:

https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/hwangbomovie4.mp4
It’s extraordinary that the robot has come up with essentially a single technique to get on its feet from nearly any likely fall position, as long as it has room and the use of all its legs. Remember, people didn’t design this — the simulation and evolutionary algorithms came up with it by trying thousands of different behaviors over and over and keeping the ones that worked.
Ikea assembly is the killer app
Let’s say you were given three bowls, with red and green balls in the center one. Then you’re given this on a sheet of paper:

As a human with a brain, you take this paper for instructions, and you understand that the green and red circles represent balls of those colors, and that red ones need to go to the left, while green ones go to the right.
This is one of those things where humans apply vast amounts of knowledge and intuitive understanding without even realizing it. How did you choose to decide the circles represent the balls? Because of the shape? Then why don’t the arrows refer to “real” arrows? How do you know how far to go to the right or left? How do you know the paper even refers to these items at all? All questions you would resolve in a fraction of a second, and any of which might stump a robot.
Researchers have taken some baby steps towards being able to connect abstract representations like the above with the real world, a task that involves a significant amount of what amounts to a sort of machine creativity or imagination.

Making the connection between a green dot on a white background in a diagram and a greenish roundish thing on a black background in the real world isn’t obvious, but the “visual cognitive computer” created by Miguel Lázaro-Gredilla and his colleagues at Vicarious AI seems to be doing pretty well at it.
It’s still very primitive, of course, but in theory it’s the same toolset that one uses to, for example, assemble a piece of Ikea furniture: look at an abstract representation, connect it to real-world objects, then manipulate those objects according to the instructions. We’re years away from that, but it wasn’t long ago that we were years away from a robot getting up from a fall or deciding a suction cup or pincer would work better to pick something up.
The papers and videos demonstrating all the concepts above should be available at the Science Robotics site.

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Apple reportedly looking to subsidize Watch with Medicare plans

If nothing else, the addition of ECG/EKG reinforced Apple’s commitment to evolving the Watch into a serious medical device. The company has long looked to bring its best-selling wearable to various health insurance platforms, and, according to a new report, it’s reaching out to multiple private Medicare plans in hopes of subsidizing the product.
If Medicare companies bite, the move would make the $279+ tracker much more successful for older users. Along with electrocardiograph functionality, last year’s Series 4 also features fall detection, an addition that could make it even more appealing to the elderly and healthcare providers.
The new report cites at least three providers that have been in discussions with the company. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on hearing back until the ink is dry on those deals. For Apple, however, such a partnership would help increase the target audience for a product that’s been a rare bright spot in the wearable category.
Apple’s not alone in the serious health push, of course. Fitbit has also been aggressively pursuing the space. Today the company announced its inclusion in the National Institutes of Health’s new All of Us health initiative.

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Ubiquity6 acquires AR music startup Wavy

Today, Ubiquity6 has announced that it is acquiring Wavy, a small AR music startup founded last year.
In a blog post, the Wavy team confirmed they’ll be joining the Ubiquity6 team and won’t be continuing their work on the Wavy app. “When we met the team at Ubiquity6, it became apparent that joining the team there would be a leap forward towards our shared mission of enabling creators to edit reality,” the post reads.
Wavy’s app sought to give musicians an outlet to bring concerts into phone-based AR users’ living rooms.
The tight team of three joins Ubiquity6 after what was generally a rough year for the consumer-focused AR industry. While the number of supported devices climbed, the actual user base didn’t see much growth. A lot of the progress came in the platform tools, such as Ubiquity6; the startup closed a $27 million Series B led by Benchmark and Index Ventures in August. The company now has just shy of 40 employees.

The Wavy app shares some essential DNA with what Ubiquity6 is looking to build. The app allows people to drop 3D objects into spaces and upload videos of the “music experiences” unfolding in front of them. It’s very fundamental stuff, but at its base level asks questions about how 3D content can interact with spaces and people and how those new environments change the context of the art and music.
This fits into Ubiquity6’s idea of a spatial internet, where users can stumble upon 3D environments where AR content lives based on where they are and what their phone camera is seeing. The company hasn’t launched widely, but had a pilot program with the SFMOMA last year and also announced they are working with Disney.
We chatted with Ubiquity6 CEO Anjney Midha at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the consumer-focused AR industry.

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Driving down the cost of preserving genetic material, Acorn Biolabs raises $3.3 million

Acorn Biolabs wants consumers to pay them to store genetic material in a bet that the increasing advances in targeted genetic therapies will yield better healthcare results down the line.
The company’s pitch is to “Save young cells today, live a longer, better, tomorrow.” It’s a gamble on the frontiers of healthcare technology that has managed to net the company $3.3 million in seed financing from some of Canada’s busiest investors.
For the Toronto-based company, the pitch isn’t just around banking genetic material — a practice that’s been around for years — it’s about making that process cheaper and easier.
Acorn has come up with a way to collect and preserve the genetic material contained in hair follicles, giving its customers a way to collect full-genome information at home rather than having to come in to a facility and getting bone marrow drawn (the practice at one of its competitors, Forever Labs) .
“We have developed a proprietary media that cells are submerged in that maintains the viability of those cells as they’re being transported to our labs for processing,” says Acorn Biolabs chief executive Dr. Drew Taylor.
“Rapid advancements in the therapeutic use of cells, including the ability to grow human tissue sections, cartilage, artificial skin and stem cells, are already being delivered. Entire heart, liver and kidneys are really just around the corner. The urgency around collecting, preserving and banking youthful cells for future use is real and freezing the clock on your cells will ensure you can leverage them later when you need them,” Taylor said in a statement.
Typically, the cost of banking a full genome test is roughly $2,000 to $3,000, and Acorn says they can drop that cost to less than $1,000. Beyond the cost of taking the sample and storing it, Acorn says it will reduce to roughly $100 a year the fees to store such genetic materials.
It’s important to note that healthcare doesn’t cover any of this. It’s a voluntary service for those neurotic enough or concerned enough about the future of healthcare and their potential health.
There’s also no services that Acorn will provide on the back end of the storage… yet.
“What people do need to realize is that there is power with that data that can improve healthcare. Down the road we will be able to use that data to help people collect that data and power studies,” says Taylor.
The $3.3 million the company raised came from Real Ventures, Globalive Technology, Pool Global Partners and Epic Capital Management and other undisclosed investors.
“Until now, any live cell collection solutions have been highly expensive, invasive and often painful, as well as being geographically limited to specialized clinics,” said Anthony Lacavera, founder and chairman at Globalive. “Acorn is an industry-leading example of how technology can bring real innovation to enable future healthcare solutions that will have meaningful impact on people’s wellbeing and longevity, while at the same time — make it easy, affordable and frictionless for everyone.”

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BlueRun Ventures closes on $130M, promotes Cheryl Cheng to GP

Silicon Valley venture capital firm BlueRun Ventures has lassoed $130 million in capital commitments for its sixth fund. The firm invests in early-stage mobile software and financial services companies, including online lending platform Kabbage and navigation tool Waze.
BlueRun has also announced the promotion of Cheryl Cheng to general partner. Cheng joined the outfit in 2008; she’s focused on mobile and data opportunities within the enterprise and consumer markets. The firm also counts founder John Malloy and Jonathan Ebinger as GPs.
In a conversation with TechCrunch, Ebinger outlined the firm’s growing interest in the Mexican startup ecosystem, as well as startups focused on data sharing.
“There’s been such a backlash against data privacy — the pendulum has swung too far to one side — but I think there are learnings to be had around the benefits of data sharing in healthcare and in financial services,” Ebinger told TechCrunch.
BlueRun deploys $3 million to $5 million at a time and up to $15 million in a company’s lifespan. In addition to leading Kabbage’s Series A financing in 2010 — a company that is poised to go public in the near future — BlueRun was also the first institutional investor in PayPal and was a Series A investor in Coupa, a cloud-based software developer that completed a NASDAQ initial public offering in 2016. The firm invests in global companies building businesses focused on the U.S. market.
Contrary to VCs’ latest trend of raising larger and larger pools of capital, BlueRun’s latest effort is the firm’s smallest flagship fund to date. Previously, BlueRun closed on $150 million for its fifth fund in 2014 and its second vehicle, raised in 2000, garnered $460 million. BlueRun also operates funds in Korea and China.

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BlueRun Ventures closes on $130M, ups Cheryl Cheng to GP

Silicon Valley venture capital firm BlueRun Ventures has lassoed $130 million in capital commitments for its sixth fund. The firm invests in early-stage mobile software and financial services companies, including online lending platform Kabbage and navigation tool Waze.
BlueRun has also announced the promotion of Cheryl Cheng to general partner. Cheng joined the outfit in 2008; she’s focused on mobile and data opportunities within the enterprise and consumer markets. The firm also counts founder John Malloy and Jonathan Ebinger as GPs.
In a conversation with TechCrunch, Ebinger outlined the firm’s growing interest in the Mexican startup ecosystem, as well as startups focused on data sharing.
“There’s been such a backlash against data privacy — the pendulum has swung too far to one side — but I think there are learnings to be had around the benefits of data sharing in healthcare and in financial services,” Ebinger told TechCrunch.
BlueRun deploys $3 million to $5 million at a time and up to $15 million in a company’s lifespan. In addition to leading Kabbage’s Series A financing in 2010 — a company that is poised to go public in the near future — BlueRun was also the first institutional investor in PayPal and was a Series A investor in Coupa, a cloud-based software developer that completed a NASDAQ initial public offering in 2016. The firm invests in global companies building businesses focused on the U.S. market.
Contrary to VCs’ latest trend of raising larger and larger pools of capital, BlueRun’s latest effort is the firm’s smallest flagship fund to date. Previously, BlueRun closed on $150 million for its fifth fund in 2014 and its second vehicle, raised in 2000, garnered $460 million. BlueRun also operates funds in Korea and China.

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Sprint customers can now use Apple Business Chat to reach an agent

Sprint today announced it will support Apple’s Business Chat — the new platform that allows businesses and customers to interact over iMessage. According to the carrier, customers can now message a Sprint customer service agent, get info about plans and other services, as well as look up store information in Maps, Safari and with Siri during a chat session.
The support from Sprint comes after two other launches on the platform this week.
TD Ameritrade said it will allow customers to fund their brokerage accounts using Apple Pay on Apple Business Chat. And Gubagoo said it will connect car dealerships with customers through Business Chat for viewing inventory, plus scheduling test drives and service appointments.
Apple has been steadily growing its list of supported Business Chat partners, and today has a number of big brands on its platform, which is still in beta. These include names like 1-800-Contacts, DISH, Overstock.com, Quicken Loans, Kimpton Hotels, West Elm, Burberry, Vodafone, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, Jos A. Bank, Men’s Warehouse, The Home Depot, Hilton, Four Seasons, American Express, Harry & David and several others.
The platform also supports integrations with customer service platforms LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance, Genesys, InTheChat, Zendesk, Quiq, Cisco, Kipsu, Lithium, eGain, [24]7.ai, ContactAtOnce, Dimelo, Brand Embassy, ASAPP, IMImobile and MessengerPeople, according to Apple’s website.
Business Chat was officially introduced at WWDC 2017, and is Apple’s entry into the business messaging and chatbot space.
Before its arrival, customers would generally reach out to businesses through social media sites like Facebook (e.g. Pages and Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram) and Twitter. But Apple’s product gets the businesses even closer to the customer, as their chats can live alongside those from family and friends. Plus, they don’t have to share their data with a third party.
For consumers, reaching a business through iMessage is also a bit easier at times.
A company’s Business Chat profile is highlighted across Apple’s iOS platform in areas like Safari, Maps and Spotlight, and via Siri. This makes it more seamless to move from one Apple app to an iMessage chat, compared with having to seek out the business’s social media profile.
It’s also less painful than having to dial a customer service phone number, in many cases — as Sprint today pointed out.
“More consumers are embracing quick and easy self-service and digital assistance versus calling customer service through an 800 line,” said Rob Roy, Sprint chief digital officer, in a statement about the launch. “Apple Business Chat is an amazing tool for our customers that makes communicating with Sprint fast, easy and stress-free.”
Business Chat has come at a time when the “phone” part of our smartphones is turning into just another “app” — and increasingly, a spammy and bothersome one thanks to spam calls. Apple’s solution makes it easier for customers and businesses to move away from phone lines, while Google is leveraging AI to handle spammers — and even place calls for customers through its Google Duplex technology.

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We Company CEO in hot water over being both a tenant and a landlord

The company formerly known as WeWork has come under scrutiny for potential conflict of interest issues regarding CEO Adam Neumann’s partial ownership of three properties where WeWork is (or will be) a tenant. TechCrunch has seen excerpts of the company’s prospectus for investors that details upwards of $100 million in total future rents WeWork will pay to properties owned, in part, by Adam Neumann.
In March 2018, The Real Deal reported that Neumann had purchased a 50 percent stake in 88 University Place alongside fashion designer Elie Tahari. That property was then leased by WeWork, which then leased space within the building to IBM.
Today, the WSJ is reporting that 88 University Place isn’t alone. Neumann also personally invested in properties in San Jose that are either currently leased to WeWork as a tenant or are earmarked for such a purpose. Unlike 88 University, where Neumann is a 50/50 owner with Tahari, the CEO of the We Company — as WeWork is now known — invested in the two San Jose properties as part of a real estate consortium and owns a smaller stake of an unspecified percentage.
These transactions were all disclosed in the company prospectus documents it filed as part of its $700 million bond sale in April 2018. According to the prospectus, WeWork’s total future rents on these properties (partially owned by Neumann) are $110.8 million, as of December 2017.
That doesn’t include the reported $65 million purchase of a Chelsea property by Neumann and partners, which is said to be earmarked for a new WeLive space built from the ground up. That, too, will be subject to rent payments from the We Company to run WeLive out of it.
This raises questions of whether there is a conflict of interest in Neumann being both the landlord and the tenant of properties through WeWork. The WSJ says that investors of the company are concerned that the CEO could personally benefit on rents or other terms with the company in these deals.
According to WeWork, however, the company has not been made aware of any issues by any of its investors about related party transactions or their disclosures. The company also said that the majority of the Board are independent of Adam and all of these transactions were approved.
A WeWork spokesperson also had this to say: “WeWork has a review process in place for related party transactions. Those transactions are reviewed and approved by the board, and they are disclosed to investors.”
As it stands now, The We Company is privately held and in the midst of a transition as it contemplates how to turn a substantial profit on its more than 400 property assets across the world. The company is taking a broad-stroke approach, serving tiny startups and massive corporate clients alike, while also offering co-living WeLive spaces to renters and building out the Powered By We platform to spread its bets.
The company is valued at a hefty $47 billion, even after a scaled back investment from SoftBank (which went from $16 billion to $2 billion). But as the We Company inches toward an IPO, we may start to see a call for tighter corporate governance and more scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest.

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Daily Crunch: Snap CFO departs

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:

1. Snap CFO Tim Stone is resigning
This marks Snap’s second CFO departure in the last 12 months. In a memo to employees, CEO Evan Spiegel said Stone’s departure is not related to any disagreements pertaining to company finances.
“Tim has made a big impact in his short time on our team and we are very grateful for all of his hard work,” Spiegel said.
2. Fiserv is buying First Data in a $22B fintech megadeal
It’s technically a merger, but Fiserv will be getting the upper hand in the deal: its CEO Jeffery Yabuki will become CEO of the combined entity, while First Data’s CEO Frank Bisignano will become president and COO.
3. Roku now deleting Infowars from its platform after customer outcry
Roku’s initial decision to support the Infowars channel seemed especially egregious because the conspiracy theory-spreading media company had been purged from multiple social media and app platforms — including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Stitcher, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouPorn — for violating their content policies or terms of service.

4. DuckDuckGo debuts map search results using Apple Maps
The privacy-focused search engine that promises to never track its users is now using data provided by Apple Maps to power its map-based search results. This will make DuckDuckGo one of the biggest users of Apple’s mapping data, six months after Apple said it would open up Apple Maps to the web.
5. China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018, 40 percent of consumer spend
Global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016, according to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile 2019” report. And consumer spending across app stores was up 75 percent, reaching $101 billion.
6. Infor lands $1.5 billion investment ahead of possible IPO
Infor may be the largest company you never heard of, with more than 17,000 employees and 9,500 customers in 100-plus countries worldwide. All of those customers generated $3 billion in revenue in 2018.
7. Another huge database exposed millions of call logs and SMS text messages
Back in November, another telecoms company, Voxox, exposed a database containing millions of text messages — including password resets and two-factor codes. This time around, it’s a different company: Voipo, a Lake Forest, Calif. communications provider.

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