Cowboy, the Belgium startup that’s designed and sells a smarter electronic bicycle, has raised ˆ10 million in Series A funding.
Leading the round is Tiger Global Management, with participation from previous backers Index Ventures, and Hardware Club. The new capital will be used to scale operations, and expand beyond Belgum into Germany, U.K., Netherlands, and France.
Founded in January 2017 by Adrien Roose and Karim Slaoui, who both previously co-founded Take Eat Easy (an early Deliveroo competitor), and Tanguy Goretti, who was previously co-founded ridesharing startup Djump, Cowboy set out to build and sell direct a better designed and e-bike.
This included making the Cowboy lighter in weight and more stylish than models from incumbents, and adding automatic motor assistance. The latter utilises built-in sensor technology that measures speed and torque, and adjusts to pedaling style and force to deliver an added boost of motor-assisted speed at key moments e.g. when you start pedaling, accelerate or go uphill.
In addition, Cowboy’s “smart” features powered by the Cowboy app enables the device to be switched on and off, track location, provide “ride stats,” and support remote troubleshooting and software updates. A theft detection feature is also promised soon.
“We designed the Cowboy bike to appeal specifically to people who are yet to be convinced that electric bikes are a practical and mainstream mode of transport,” says Adrien Roose, Cowboy’s CEO, in a statement.
“We focused our attention on the three main reasons people are reluctant to purchase electric bikes: high cost, poor design and redundant technology – or a combination of the above – and we set about fixing them all”.
How can Lime differentiate its scooters and bikes from the piles of Birds and Spins filling Los Angeles sidewalks? Apparently with a physical storefront where it can convince customers of the wonders of on-demand mobility. According to a job listing from Lime seeking a “Retail Store Manager”, the startup plans to open a “lifestyle brand store in Santa Monica” that “will place heavy importance on brand experience and customer engagement.”
It seems Lime will rent vehicles directly from the store given the full-time manager’s role includes “monitoring inventory levels” as well as daily operations, and employee recruiting. They’ll also be throwing live events to build Lime’s hype. Given the company is calling this a lifestyle store, the focus will likely be on showing how Lime’s scooters and bikes can become part of people’s lives and enhance their happiness, rather than on maximizing rental volume.
The listing was first spotted by Nathan Pope, a transportation researcher for consultancy Steer, and later by Cheddar’s Alex Heath. We’ve reached out to Lime and will update if we hear back from the company. Glassdoor shows that the store manager job was posted over 30 days ago, and the site estimates the potential salary at $41,000 to $74,000.
The sheer number of Lime scooters in Santa Monica where the store will arise is already staggering. Supply doesn’t seem to be bottleneck as it is in some other cities. Instead, it’s the fierce competition from hometown startups like local favorite Bird that Lime wants to overcome through brick-and-mortar marketing. Often times you’ll see scooters from Lime and Bird lined up right next to each other. And with similarly cheap pricing, the decision of which to use comes down to brand affinity. According to Apptopia, Bird’s monthly U.S. downloads surpassed Lime’s in July for the first time ever, despite Lime offering bikes as well as scooters.
There are plenty of people who still have never tried an on-demand electric scooter, and going through the process of renting, unlocking, and riding them might be daunting to some. If employees at a physical store can teach people that it’s not too difficult to jump aboard, Lime could become their default scooter. This of course comes with risks too, as electric scooters can be dangerous to the novice or uncoordinated. More aggressive in-person marketing might pull in users who were apprehensive about scooting for the right reason — concerns about safety.
As cities figure out how to best regulate scooters, I hope we see a focus on uptime aka how often the scooters actually function properly. It’s common in LA to rent a scooter, then discover the handlebar is loose or the acceleration is sluggish, end the ride, and rent another scooter from the same brand or a competitor in hopes of getting one that works right. I ditched several Lime scooters like this while in LA last week.
Regulators should inquire about what percentage of scooter company fleets are broken and what percentage of rides end within 90 seconds of starting, which is typically due to a malfunctioning vehicle. Cities could then award permits to companies that keep their fleets running, rather than that litter the streets with massive paper weights, or worse, vehicles that could crash and hurt people. Scooters are fun, cheap and therefore accessible to more people than Ubers, and reduce traffic. But unless startups like Lime put a bigger focus on helments and safe riding behavior, we could trade congestion on the roads for congestion in the emergency room.
Iribe is leaving Facebook following some internal shake-ups at the company’s virtual reality arm last week that saw the cancellation of the company’s next generation “Rift 2” PC-powered virtual reality headset which he had been leading development of, a source close to the matter tell TechCrunch. Iribe and the Facebook executive team had “fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time” and Iribe wasn’t interested in a “race to the bottom” in terms of performance, we are told.
The cancellation of the company’s next-gen PC-based “Rift 2” virtual reality product showcases how the interests of Facebook’s executive leadership have centered on all-in-one headsets that don’t require a connection to an external PC or phone. In May, Oculus released the $199 Oculus Go headset and plans to release the $399 Oculus Quest headset sometime next spring. A Facebook spokesperson tells TechCrunch that PC VR is part of the company’s future product roadmap and that much of what Iribe’s team has been working on will be manifested in future products.
Iribe’s exit comes at a time when a number of the founders of Facebook’s high-profile startup acquisitions are leaving the company. Less than a month ago, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced their plans to leave the company in a decision that TechCrunch was told was partially the result of mounting tensions. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left Facebook earlier this year. Iribe’s fellow co-founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook in early 2017, a decision he recently recounted was not a choice that he made.
Iribe came onto Facebook after the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014 where he had been the company’s founding CEO. After a substantial company reorganization in late 2016, Iribe was moved from the CEO position to the head of the company’s PC VR division.
Before co-founding Oculus VR, Iribe was the chief product officer of Gaikai, a cloud-gaming startup that Sony bought in 2012 for $380 million, before that, he co-founded and led Scaleform, a gaming user interface tools startup that Autodesk bought in 2011 for $36 million.
We’ve reached out to Iribe for comment.
The website of the Saudi government’s upcoming Future Investment Initiative conference was hacked and defaced with images of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Several reporters tweeted screenshots of the site after its defacement, purporting to show Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman — the kingdom’s de facto ruler — brandishing a sword. A portion of text on the site was replaced with an accusation the kingdom of “barbaric and inhuman action,” referring not only to the death of Khashoggi but also the government’s involvement in the ongoing offensive in Yemen.
Names and phone numbers of several Saudi individuals were also uploaded to the site’s homepage, including government employees and senior staff in state-backed companies.
The site was pulled offline shortly after the defacement on Monday.
Nobody has yet publicly declared responsibility for the defacement. It comes days after the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was “murdered” in its consulate in Istanbul, more than two weeks after The Washington Post columnist walked in to obtain marriage license papers. Saudi officials claimed he died following a “fist fight,” which Western nations decried as nonsensical. Leaked audio, believed to have been leaked by the Turkish government, claims the journalist was beaten, killed and dismembered.
Britain, France and Germany issued a statement demanding clarity and an explanation for his still missing body. Turkey is expected to reveal more about the killing Tuesday.
The Future Investment Initiative — also known as “Davos in the Desert” after the original Switzerland-based investment conference — is set for later this week.Saudi Arabia invests billions in U.S. tech companies, but the conference has seen dozens of well-known investors, tech companies and business leaders pull out of the conference after the journalist’s murder.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published her quarterly letter to creators today, which included very strong language regarding the EU’s controversial copyright reform directive. Specifically, her letter focused on Article 13, the so-called “meme ban” that states that any site with a large amount of user-generated content – like Facebook or YouTube, for example – will be responsible for taking down content that infringes on copyright. Wojcicki says the way this legislation is written could “shut down the ability” of millions of people to upload to YouTube.
The legislation she’s referring to is Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which the EU Parliament just recently voted to back. The Directive contains several parts, including another concerning “link tax,” which gives publishers the right to ask for paid licenses when online platforms share their articles and stories.
But YouTube is most concerned with Article 13, which impacts sites with user-generated content. In order to comply with the law, sites like YouTube would have to automatically scan and filter user uploads to ensure they aren’t in violation of copyright.
But today, users often express themselves by sampling, remixing, and creating content using music, pictures and videos that would otherwise be considered copyrighted material. However, even though memes and parodies are protected by previous laws (in some countries), these upload filters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a copyright violation and a meme – and they’d block content that should be allowed. This is how Article 13 became to be known as the “meme ban.”
However, the language in legislation isn’t clear on how enforcement should take place – it doesn’t say, for example, that sites have to use upload filters. Others believe that YouTube’s existing Content ID system, which scans videos after upload, would be sufficient.
YouTube, for its part, seems to be believe that Article 13 will require more than the existing Content ID system to be compliant.
Writes Wojcicki, “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube. It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s,” she says.
The CEO also says Article 13 will threaten “thousands of jobs” – meaning those of EU-based content creators, businesses, and artists.
And she warns that YouTube may have to take down content from smaller, original video creators, as it would be liable for that content, saying:
The proposal could force platforms, like YouTube, to allow only content from a small number of large companies. It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content. We realize the importance of all rights holders being fairly compensated, which is why we built Content ID, and a platform to pay out all types of content owners. But the unintended consequences of article 13 will put this ecosystem at risk.
The company wants to weigh in on how the legislation is worded to protect its interests, and those of the larger creator community. Wojcicki said YouTube is committed to working with the industry to find a better way respect the rights of copyright holders, before the language in the EU legislation is finalized by year-end.
Wojcicki urged creators and the wider YouTube community to rally against the legislation on social media, using the hashtag #SaveYourInternet.
Other changes include expansion of memberships, premieres
While YouTube’s comments on Article 13 were the key part of today’s letter, Wojcicki also updated the community on its priorities for 2018.
This included an update on its plans to better communicate with creators, which it says it accomplished by increasing the number of product updates and “heads up” messages regarding changes to YouTube, including smaller tests or experiments, on its @TeamYouTube handle and the Creator Insider channel, in addition to its launch of YouTube Studio, where creators can read all the news and product updates.
The company also said that its new “self certification” video upload flow, where creators self-describe the content in their videos for advertisers, will roll out more broadly in 2019.
Newly launched channel memberships are also expanding their rollout, with the threshold now being lowered from 100,000 to 50,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, the new Premieres feature is now publicly available to all creators.
Other updates focused on what YouTube is doing across education, news and journalism, YouTube Giving charity work, gaming, and more. The full letter is on YouTube’s blog here.
When tech companies explore diversity and inclusion initiatives, there’s a risk that marginalized groups may feel “othered” and reduced to a number. That’s what Square has found, the company revealed in the first of a series of posts on Square’s diversity and inclusion efforts. So instead of emphasizing demographic data, Square is taking a new approach that entails deep dives into its inclusion efforts.
Regarding promotions and compensation — two key places where unconscious bias can often show up — Square has begun to implement three specific initiatives. One is pushing managers to consider promotion readiness for everyone on their team, explicitly highlighting the people who have been at their current job level longer than the median time for people in similar roles who were promoted in the past two promotion cycles.
“Although time in job level is just one metric in a multi-dimensional promotion consideration process, these primers help ensure that every team member is considered, not just those who are more vocal or in more visible roles,” Square describes on its blog.
And before someone gets a raise, Square’s people analytics team conducts a full audit of pay fairness by gender, race and age. The goal is to mitigate bias by checking for any statistical evidence of it before the decision becomes final.
“We check for potential disparities both overall and within specific jobs, and review any outliers we find,” Square says. “While this lengthens the overall promotion process, it gives us the opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before finalizing employees’ new compensation.”
Square is not at the point where diverse people are evenly distributed across high-paying roles, but says addressing that is part of the plan.
Square’s series on these topics comes almost 18 months after the company released its first diversity report. Last year, Square was 36.7 percent female globally, and 57.3 percent white, 6.4 percent black and 5.8 percent Latinx in the U.S.
“Reporting is important, but it doesn’t appear to be driving meaningful change or increasing our public accountability,” Square explains on its site. “Even worse, what these reports do seem to accomplish is the commoditization of the communities the practice was intended to support. Many employees tell us these reports make them feel like they’re reduced to numbers. And that sucks.”
While Square still has plans to share demographic data, the company is looking to be more transparent and communicative around all of its efforts. The purpose of these posts is to shed some light into Square’s approach to D&I, speaking candidly about what has worked and what hasn’t worked. The ideal outcome is that other companies will open up and share their best and inadvertently worst practices.
Netflix’s commitment to growing its original content collection will see the company again returning to debt markets to raise more financing, the company announced today. According a release published to its investors site, Netflix says it plans to raise $2 billion to help fund new content, including “content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”
The funds will be raised in the form of senior unsecured notes, denominated in U.S. dollars and euros, it said.
This debt offering is the sixth time in under four years that Netflix is raising $1 billion or more through bonds, noted Variety, which was among the first to report the news. As of September 30, Netflix’s long-term debt had reached $8.34 billion, up 71% from $4.89 billion in the year ago quarter, it said during its last earnings, Variety’s report also noted.
Netflix recently explained during its Q3 2018 earnings that it needs to continue to invest in original programming in order to remain competitive.
“We recognize we are making huge cash investments in content, and we want to assure our investors
that we have the same high confidence in the underlying economics as our cash investments in the past.
These investments we see as very likely to help us to keep our revenue and operating profits growing for
a very long time ahead,” the letter to shareholders read.
Netflix also pointed to the increasing competition in the industry as one of the reasons why original content investment was so critical, adding that it didn’t only compete with linear TV, YouTube, gaming, social media, DVDs and pay-per-view, but with a number of new and upcoming streaming services, as well.
“Content companies such as WarnerMedia and Disney/Fox are moving to self-distribute their own content; tech firms like Apple, Amazon and others are investing in premium content to enhance their distribution platforms,” the letter also stated. “Amid these massive competitors on both sides, plus traditional media firms, our job is to make Netflix stand out so that when consumers have free time, they choose to spend it with our service,” it had said.
The Trump administration has a major ask to make of big tech companies. In a meeting at the White House today, officials will ask Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM, among others, to make it easier for employees to do stints in the government.
It’s a heavy lift, of course, asking well-compensated workers to take time out from demanding gigs for the betterment of federal and state governments. A number of companies, including Facebook and Google, already allow employees to take time off for this exact reason. However, the particularly polarizing nature of politics in 2018 and all of the ill-will surrounding the current administration, have further complicated the ask.
The Washington Post quotes an anonymous official, who stressed the importance of “put[ting] politics aside” for the greater good. “This event on Monday is not just about our efforts, it’s about our successor, and their successor after that,” the person told the paper. “It’s good for the country in the long term for technology professionals to have civil service in their career at some point.”
The notoriously slow pace of government innovation was something the Obama administration looked to address during its eight years in power, and Trump’s White House appears to be interested in continuing that trend. Ahead of his inauguration, Trump met with tech leaders, including Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella, though the administration’s policies have been an on-going source of friction with Silicon Valley
Pair Eyewear, the customizable glasses brand for kids, has today announced the close of a $1 million Seed round, with investors including Corigin Ventures, Outbound Ventures, Precursor Ventures, and Bolt Ventures.
The company has a simple premise: Pair sells affordable glasses to children. But beyond simple frames, Pair sells both base frames (regular glasses) and top frames (snap-on fronts for base frames that let you change the color and style of glasses).
Base frames, which include hand-polished acetate frames and anti-reflective, shatterproof polycarbonate lenses, cost $95 and top frames can be purchased for $25.
While the product is glasses, the mission is to change the way that kids and parents think about glasses, changing that perception from one of a medical device to a fun accessory.
Much of the inspiration for Pair came from Warby Parker, so it makes sense that Pair also has a give-back program. For every pair of Pair glasses sold, another pair goes to a child in need through and partnership with EYElliance, a non-profit founded by the Vision Spring founder Dr. Jordan Kassalow.
Pair took yet another page out of the Warby Parker book by also offering at-home try-on. However, unlike Warby which sends a handful of real glasses to your home, Pair sends out cardboard replicas of their designs for kids to try on. That way, parents don’t have to worry about sending back the try-on pairs of glasses.
The company says that since launch, 15 percent of customers have come back to purchase additional top frames. It’s worth noting that, between Pair’s launch and now, Warby Parker has entered the field of competition, launching a pilot program for kids glasses in January of this year.
“What sets us apart and what we’re focused on is designing for kids and by kids,” said co-founder and co-CEO Nathan Kondamuri. “We want to change the narrative around what glasses can be for kids, and that mission and focus will set us apart and drive us on a different path [from competitors].”
Pair launched in October of 2017, and this latest round brings total funding to $1.15 million.
The company says it will use a big chunk of the funding on national marketing initiatives to spread the word about the brand.
Editor’s Note: Pair’s total amount of funding raised has been corrected from $1.5 million to $1.15 million. The round type was also corrected from a Series A to a seed round.
Gjemeni, pronounced Gemini, is a new furniture-on-demand service from founder Sean Pathiratne. The company offers decidedly tech-forward furniture that comes in a single box and can be assembled by anyone in a few minutes.
Pathiratne sees his company as a fashionable and agile furniture company that brings stylish stuff to your living room in the vein of Zara or H&M.
“We can create and deliver on trends through our technology-led global supply chain with the agility and speed of ‘fast fashion.’ We are ‘fast furniture,'” said Pathiratne.[gallery ids="1735487,1735486"]
“I live and work in Silicon Valley. I spend a lot of time in WeWork and other co-working places, in the offices of start-ups, and with tech friends,” said Pathiratne . “I observed how millennials live and work. They are a restless bunch physically – which mirrors their restlessness overall. They don’t like the status quo in business or with the objects in their lives. They are constantly shifting and fidgeting on their sofas. They just couldn’t find the right positions. After all, today we are checking our smart phones one minute, leaning back and contemplating the world another minute.”
The result? A plugged-in couch for the plugged-in generation.
“So the implications were obvious: create a multi-position couch for our multi-tasking world. A couch that meets people where they are, rather than the other way around. And also make sure that the next- gen couch had connectivity for the generation that is always plugged in,” he said.
The Gjemeni flagship is a convertible couch that turns from stark seating system into a lie-flat futon. Both sides of the couch have power and USB ports and it has three resting positions.
The company also sells a chair and an ottoman. Each product, from the $999 couch to the $299 leg rest, comes in a massive box that opens to reveal the furniture and a set of legs. To build the stuff you simply snap the legs into the holes on the bottom and flip the couch upright.
I tested one of the couches and can report that it would make a great startup-office seat. The styling, the firmness, and the clever charging ports mean that you can easily make your visitors feel powered-up and comfortable. As a home couch, however, I would recommend trying before you buy. First, at 6.5 feet long, there isn’t much room on the couch for more than two people let alone a small family. Further, the two reclining options are not conducive to many traditional couch activities except, perhaps, for the aftermath of Netflix and chill. The two sides of the back of the couch move from upright to reclined. When upright it is set at almost at 90 degrees – a TV lounging nightmare – and when slightly reclined you fall into a napping position. There is no “just right” with this couch for the home user.
That said this is furniture and your experience may differ. The company offers a 60-day money back guarantee as long as you keep the massive box and at $999 it makes perfect sense to take a flyer on this one. In fact, that’s the point. Like other furniture services, Gjemeni plans to disrupt the visit to Ikea or the furniture store. Because setup is so simple there is little harm in giving it a go and sending it back if you don’t like the size, the firmness, or the fit.
After all, said Pathiratne, the company is all about self-awareness.
“We are built to harness technology in pursuit of wellness. Gjemeni meets our ergonomic needs to relieve pressure on the back and spine, and to adjust so that we can take a power nap (we all know how important sleep is to wellness) or simply meditate and ground ourselves,” said Pathiratne.
eBay today launched a new service to help users unload their old smartphones on its online marketplace. With eBay Instant Selling, as the service is called, consumers can list their device info, add images, then receive an instant voucher that can be used towards the purchase of a new device from eBay. They’ll also receive an eBay shipping label to send their old phone to eBay.
The company claims it will offer a higher return than competitors’ sites, like Gazelle or EcoATM as well as carriers’ trade-in programs like those from AT&T and Verizon, plus Apple’s own Give Back program. It says that standard programs tend to offer 40 to 50 percent off the average market selling price, but eBay will provide up to 40% higher than trade-in values, on average.
Currently, eligible smartphones include Unlocked, Verizon and AT&T, Samsung Galaxy S7 to S9 + and Apple iPhone 6S 16GB through iPhone X 256GB. In November, eBay will add T-Mobile, Sprint and Google Pixel and select LG products to that list, it says.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because eBay has tried its hand at similar services in the past – repeatedly. In 2013, it shut down an older “Instant Sale” service that focused on reselling consumer electronics, then returned in 2016 with a trade-in site called “Quick Sale.” However, Quick Sale relied on another shuttered eBay service, eBay Valet, which involved having eBay top sellers handle the device sales.
To use the new Instant Selling service, consumers can visit ebay.com/s/phone, then enter their device info and upload photos. After accepting the terms, they’ll receive their instant quote and can opt to print the shipping label to turn in their device to eBay.
Ebay tells us the devices will be sold through its partner, Cexchange, a large trade-in servicing partner, which supports major retailers and manufacturers with upgrade and trade-in programs.
The phones are received, data sanitized, cleaned, tested and reboxed with new accessories to be resold on eBay, the company also notes.
However, eBay was unable to provide more information about the revenue sharing portion of the program, as it’s in the quiet period in advance of earnings.
It did provide a comparison chart of top devices and how they would sell on competitors’ sites. (See below).
“Millions of Americans have unused phones in their homes and simply don’t realize how much their devices are worth, probably because trade-in values are typically so low,” said Alyssa Steele, Vice President of Hard Goods, eBay, in a statement about the launch. “With Instant Selling, people can find out exactly how much their phone is worth, and sell their phone within a matter of minutes to immediately help fund the holidays, or maybe something off their personal wish list,” she said.
What is a decentralized social network? The creators, who originally crowdfunded their product, see it as an anti-surveillance, anti-censorship, and anti-“big tech” platform that ensures that no one party controls your online presence. And Minds is already seeing solid movement.
“In June 2018, Minds saw an enormous uptick in new Vietnamese of hundreds of thousands users as a direct response to new laws in the country implementing an invasive ‘cybersecurity’ law which included uninhibited access to user data on social networks like Facebook and Google (who are complying so far) and the ability to censor user content,” said Minds founder Bill Ottman.
“There has been increasing excitement in recent years over the power of blockchain technology to liberate individuals and organizations,” said Byrne. “Minds’ work employing blockchain technology as a social media application is the next great innovation toward the mainstream use of this world-changing technology.”
Interestingly, Minds is a model for the future of hybrid investing, a process of raising some cash via token and raising further cash via VC. This model ensures a level of independence from investors but also allows expertise and experience to presumably flow into the company.
Ottman, for his part, just wants to build something revolutionary.
“The rise of an open source, encrypted and decentralized social network is crucial to combat the big-tech monopolies that have abused and ignored users for years. With systemic data breaches, shadow-banning and censorship, people over the world are demanding a digital revolution. User-safety, fair economies, and global freedom of expression depend on it – we are all in this battle together,” said Ottman.
Pulumi, a Seattle-based startup that lets developers specify and manage their cloud infrastructure using the programming language they already know, today announced that it has raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by Madrona Venture Group. Tola Capital also participated in this round and Tola managing director Sheila Gulati will get a seat on the Pulumi board, where she’ll join former Microsoft exec and Madrona managing director S. Somasegar.
In addition to announcing its raise, the company also today launched its commercial platform, which builds upon Pulumi’s open-source work.
“Since launch, we’ve had a lot of inbound interest, both on the community side — so you’re seeing a lot of open source contributions, and they’re really impactful contributions, including, for example, community-led support for VMware and OpenStack,” Pulumi co-founder and CEO Eric Rudder told me. “So we’re actually seeing a lot of vibrancy in the open-source community. And at the same time, we have a lot of inbound interest on the commercial side of things. That is, teams wanting to operationalize Pulumi and put it into production and wanting to purchase the product.”
So to meet that opportunity, the team decided to raise a new round to scale out both its team and product. And now, that product includes a commercial offering of Pulumi with the company’s new ‘team edition.’ This new enterprise version includes support for unlimited users, integrations with third-party tools like GitHub and Slack, as well as role-based access controls and onboarding and 12×5 support. Like the free, single-user community edition, the team edition is delivered as a SaaS product and supports deployments to all of the major public and private cloud platforms.
“We’re all seeing the same things — the cloud is a foregone conclusion,” Tola’s Gulati told me when I asked her why she was investing in Pulumi. “Enterprises have a lot of complexity as they come over the cloud. And so dealing with VMs, containers and serverless is a reality for these enterprises. And the ability to do that in a way that there’s a single toolset, letting developers use real programming languages, letting them exist where they have skills today, but then allows them to bring the best of cloud into their organization. Frankly, Pulumi really has thought through the existing complexity, the developer reality, the IT and develop a relationship from both a runtime and deployment perspective. And they are the best that we’ve seen.”
Pulumi will, of course, continue to develop its open source tools, too. Indeed, the company noted that it would invest heavily in building out the community around its tools. The team told me that it is already seeing a lot of momentum but with the new funding, it’ll re-double its efforts.
With the new funding, the company will also work on making the onboarding process much easier, up to the point where it will become a full self-serve experience. But that doesn’t work for most large organizations, so Pulumi will also invest heavily in its pre- and post-sales organization. Right now, like most companies at this stage, the team is mostly composed of engineers.
Shortly after announcing the Home Hub, a Google exec told me the timing was simply about “getting the product right.” Still, it’s curious launching your own entry in the space more than half a year after a trio of hardware partners debuted their own.
It’s easy enough to give the company the benefit of the doubt when you consider all of the variables in a nascent tech category that’s been around since, well, last summer. Amazon won the first to market prize with the Echo Show. It was a big, clunky thing, constructed from budget hardware — but it demonstrated the possibilities of adding a display to a smart speaker.
The Echo Show 2 refined the concept, with a more thoughtful design and improved hardware, while a trio of devices from LG, JBL and Lenovo offered a glimpse at what Google Assistant could bring to the table. The Home Hub, announced a few weeks back (alongside a slew of hardware from the company), attempts to deliver that in the hardware sweet spot.
The smart screen sweet spot is, of course, a wholly subjective thing, depending on personal preferences and individual needs. It seems entirely plausible that next year will bring a Home Hub Max, but for now, Google’s settled on a seven-inch display. That puts the product in between the Echo Spot (2.5) and new Show (10-inch). But in spite of sporting the same screen size as the first-gen Show, Google’s managed to keep things compact.
I’ve seen the “it’s just a tablet” criticism levied against the category by several angry/bored commenters. Google apparently said “screw it” and leaned in. The company insists that all of the tech was built from scratch here, but at first glance, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re looking at an OEM-ed Android tablet mounted on top of a speaker.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it, at first. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting from the Home Hub. I’ve grown to like it, though. From the front, it looks a bit like a tablet floating an inch above the table, mounted at a ~ a 25 to 30 angle. The design implies a future upgrade sporting a swiveling screen with an adjustable viewing angle, but as it stands, it’s small but bright and easily spotted across the room.
The speaker stand is fully covered in fabric, in keeping with the longstanding aesthetic of the Home line, which has since found its way into the latest generation of Echo devices. Unlike other Home products, the device doesn’t exactly blend in with its surroundings any more than your tablet or smartphone. That said, the wide range of optional screen savers offers a generally more pleasant appearance when not in use, ranging from an AI-curated selection of your Google Photos to fine art to Earth and space shots from NASA. I’m partial to the Earth images myself.
The digital picture frame didn’t die, exactly. It simply disappeared for a bit, only to return as something far more useful.
The bezel is fairly sizable, owning, in part, to the light sensor and far field microphones up top. The display is 1024 x 600, as initially suspected — confirmed, oddly enough, by this tweet. We’re not talking top of the line hardware here, but it’s certainly up to serve as a playback portal for YouTube videos. And honestly, given the size, you’re probably not going to want to watch anything much longer than that.
The absence of a camera is a bit of a curiosity in the broader context of the smart screen category. That goes double after Facebook’s recent introduction of Portal, which basically exists for that reason alone. Here’s the Google’s official line on the decision, courtesy of a blog post from VP, Diya Jolly, “We consciously decided to not include a camera on Google Home Hub, so you feel comfortable placing it in the private spaces of your home, like the bedroom.”
It’s a good line, certainly. And given how many of these things are destined to end up bedside, as a sort of smart alarm clock, coupled with general concern over Google’s core business of collecting data, that will likely give potential buyers some peace of mind. Nipping those privacy concerns from the electric taping webcam contingent in the bud was likely a driver here. The lack of webcam also no doubt helped keep the price down.
Either way, the inability to video chat may well be a dealbreaker for some, given what a core feature it is on Amazon and Facebook products. If there’s enough of a user outcry for the feature, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company ultimately reverses course. A camera and no camera SKU seems like a pretty solid way to please everyone.
That said, you can still use the built-in mics to call folks on your contact list or “Broadcast” messages to other Home devices on your network, as a kind of makeshift intercom system.
As for the microphone, there’s a physical switch on the rear of the device, which is easily accessed without having to turn the device around. When flipped, Assistant lets you know, “the mic’s off,” along with an icon that flashes on screen. A small red light also appears next to the light sensor up top. I’ve spoken to hardware designers who’ve debated the best way to acknowledge this, given the fact that, on many cameras, the red light signals recording. Practically all have landed in the same camp as Google here, however.
The other physical button is a volume rocker, located on the left rear of the device. You can also tell the Assistant to turn down the volume for you, but the inclusion of buttons is a nice touch for easy access when the display is nearby.
The speaker is actually the cleverest bit of Google’s design here. Compare it to the new Echo Show, whose speaker surface faces the wrong direction, requiring that the product be positioned around six inches from a wall, in order to get the best sound. Or there’s the Lenovo Smart Display, whose front-facing speaker significantly increases its surface area.
With the Home Hub, a majority of the speaker still faces back, but the raised display affords the ability to blast some of that sound forward. As for sound, it’s about what you’d expect on a product in this class. Like the screen itself, it’s perfectly fine for short videos or casual music listening. I wouldn’t, however, rely on it as my primary home speaker. The Home Max, among others, does a much better job.
There’s no auxiliary out port here, either, which is something I like to see on smaller speakers. That said, Google long ago built in the simple, “Hey Google, connect to Bluetooth feature,” which searches for and connects to paired devices. It’s something I use regularly to connect my laptop to the Google Max — and a feature Amazon still hasn’t added at last check.
If you’ve got multiple Google speakers set up, the easiest way to switch between them without missing a beat is through the Home app. Otherwise things can get a bit confused. Pairing them into a single group (such as Living Room), meanwhile, will break the speakers up into stereo channels, offering a fuller version of the music, from either side of the room.
It’s a nice effect, especially when paired with the Hub’s display for a visual dimension. There are still some kinks to work out here, however. For example, when I said, “hey Google, volume down,” only one speaker responded. It would be great if the system assured both sides were operating at the same level.
The Home Hub is, of course, voice first. Given its size and shape, however, it ought to come as little surprise that there’s plenty you can still accomplish via touch. At any point, for example, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access brightness, volume and settings. Swipe down from the top and you get access to Broadcast and all of the home devices you’ve connected.
This control panel is one of the Home Hub’s killer apps. Broken down into different categories like lights and cameras (no action), the interface serves as a one stop shop for monitoring and controlling all manner of different settings on connected devices. Google’s embrace of touch controls are really what make this work, with the product serving as a kind of holy grail for home control, similar to what Apple’s been working on with its own Home app.
The device should connect quickly with all Made By or Works With Google devices. It’s a nice list, though the lack of an actual smart home hub is glaring — it’s right there in the name, in fact. The addition of Zigbee functionality was a pretty central upgrade in the last Echo Show. Google, on the other hand, is more focused on building its own ecosystem of products, as evidenced by the recent addition of GE smart bulbs that connect to Home devices via Bluetooth.
It will be a nice system when enough products have jumped on board. For now, however, the company has limited its device ecosystem a bit. That said, Google’s own device ecosystem is pretty robust at this point, between Nest devices and, of course, the Chromecast, which lets you stream video directly to the hub and control content from HBO NOW, CBS All Access, Starz and Viki via voice.
There are two more killer apps that require mention here. The first, YouTube, was already highlighted above. But Google owning the world’s largest video hosting service is pretty huge. There’s a reason it’s been the centerpiece of an ongoing tug of war between Amazon and Google — not the mention the fact that Amazon’s reportedly been working on its response to the service.
The Echo’s browser-based workaround just isn’t the same. These things were built for YouTube.
The other is the depth of Assistant’s knowledge base. Google had a tremendous amount of search, context and machine learning here. And as a whole, its offering just feels smarter than Alexa. There are also nice little touches to the interface that borrow design language from Gmail, Android and other Google properties. For example, when you open your calendar, you get a slew of dialogue boxes:
Tap one, and you can add listings with your voice. It’s one of the best on-board examples of how the touch and voice functions work in tandem.
The Home Hub, like so many of Google’s hardware devices, is the culmination of years’ worth of software advantages. Here, they all come together in a nice, compact package, which, at $149, undercuts the competition pretty dramatically.
There are still a number of kinks to work out and some features the company ought to mull over for generation two. But on a whole, it’s a strong first entry for Google in the smart screen space, and one that’s mostly worth the wait.
Every TechCrunch Disrupt Main Stage features an incredible roster of speakers representing the best and brightest leaders, luminaries and legends at the crossroads of startups, technology, entrepreneurism and investment. It’s an opportunity to hear their perspective, what they’ve learned along the way and catch a glimpse of what the future might hold.
Those vibrant interviews and panel discussions often lead to even more questions with little time to explore them. That’s why we’re bringing Q&A Sessions — which we debuted at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — to Disrupt Berlin 2018. It’s an opportunity to follow up and go deeper on crucial technologies and emerging trends.
Unlike Main Stage events, Q&A Sessions feature a panel of subject experts, the audience members and a TechCrunch editor to moderate the 45-minute conversations. These sessions will cover a range of topics and correlate to Disrupt Berlin’s category tracks — AI/Machine Learning, Blockchain, CRM/Enterprise, E-commerce, Education, Fintech, Healthtech/Biotech, Hardware, Robotics, IoT, Mobility and Gaming.
Sessions are smaller and more intimate than Main Stage events, and that gives the audience and panelists more time to really dig into a topic. We’ll curate questions from the audience, and it’s the perfect opportunity to follow-up on any issues or questions that came up on the Main Stage. But hey, you can always kick off a fresh conversation, too.
No Disrupt event is complete without a networking opportunity, and we’ve built in time following each Q&A Session for you to connect and engage with tech leaders, founders, investors and other attendees.
Here’s a significant detail. The only way to take part in a Q&A Session is to be there in person. We don’t invite the media, and we don’t record or live-stream the sessions. Space is limited, and admission is strictly first-come-first-served, so keep that in mind and get there early.
TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place on 29-30 November, and here’s another important reminder: Early-bird ticket pricing ends on 24 October. Buy your pass before the deadline, and you’ll save up to ˆ500. Yowza!
What could be better than spending two adrenaline-packed days at Disrupt Berlin 2018 focused on the best of everything coming out of Europe’s early-stage startup scene? Saving up to ˆ500 while doing it, that’s what. Just think about how much Red Bull or good German beer you could buy with that money.
Here’s the thing. Ticket prices to Disrupt Berlin will increase on 24 October, and, while attending this conference provides serious ROI even at full price, it simply doesn’t make sense to pay more than necessary. Don’t miss your chance to get in on all the Disrupt action at the lowest price possible. Beat the calendar and buy your pass right now.
One of the most exciting and time-honored events at Disrupt is Startup Battlefield, and we can’t wait to see the Berlin cohort take the stage, dazzle the judges and launch their dream on a global stage. We’re talking 15 of the most exceptional early-stage startup founders going head-to-head for glory, $50,000 in non-equity cash and life-changing investor attention. What’s not to love?
Looking for even more excitement? Head to Startup Alley, our exhibition floor and the very heart of Disrupt. You’ll find more than 400 early-stage startups showcasing the very latest tech products, platforms and services. The networking opportunities are endless. Here’s what TestCard CEO Luke Heron told us following his Disrupt Berlin 2017 experience.
“Exhibiting in Startup Alley among all these other fantastic startups has a hugely positive impact when you’re fundraising.”
If you’re wondering just how positive, Heron recently emailed to share his good news.
“We just closed $1.7 million in funding, thanks to you and your team. You guys are fantastic — the lifeblood of the startup scene.”
Not everyone goes to Disrupt looking for investors (no, really). Vlad Larin, co-founder of Zeroqode, went to help people understand the company’s no-code technology.
“Exhibiting in Startup Alley at Disrupt Berlin was the perfect place for us to start those conversations. You talk with all kinds of people looking for new ideas, collaboration and inspiration — people who want to learn and exchange ideas about the latest products and industry trends.”
TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place 29-30 November. Whatever your reason for going, don’t spend one Euro more than necessary. Early-bird savings disappear on 24 October. Don’t wait — buy your tickets today.
After undertaking a year-long investigation with Ford and four other mobility specialists on how to build self-driving systems that integrate with London’s existing transport infrastructure, Addison Lee today is announcing the next step in its autonomous strategy.
The on-demand ride company — which competes with black cabs, Uber and other car services — announced a deal with self-driving startup Oxbotica to develop autonomous vehicles, with the aim of getting them in service in London by 2021.
No financial details are being revealed about the deal. Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland, in an interview, described it as “purely commercial.” Currently Addison Lee is “unfashionably profitable,” he added, and so it is working on its current self-driving efforts off its own balance sheet. It is also wholly owned by PE firm the Carlyle Group, so it’s likely that this will help with future funding, although Boland did not rule out that when the company gets closer to a commercial launch, that it might need to look for funding to do this.
Meanwhile, Oxbotica — a spin-out from Oxford University — has raised around $18 million to date, with backers including Oxford, Innovate UK, the Ministry of Defence, the IP Group, insurers Axa XL and others.
The deal potentially sets up an interesting new avenue in how we might see autonomous cars being built, rolled out and operated.
Today, a number of transportation-on-demand companies that have roots in the tech world (Uber, Didi and Yandex Taxi are three examples) are trying to build their own self-driving tech. Alongside them, there are also a plethora of car makers who are also intent on building and running that experience.
Now, Addison Lee and Oxbotica are essentially presenting a third option: a system not built by the car service-operator, and not by a car maker, but by a third-party tech company that overlays the tech on top of whatever vehicle the service provider chooses to have.
Oxbotica was the first company to get a green light to start any kind of self-driving car test on a UK road, when it tested its equipment on a modified Renault driving five miles per hour in the town of Milton Keynes in 2016.
That early start was one of the reasons why Addison Lee decided to go with Oxbotica for its own efforts.
“The way they have built their technology and how they are already provisioning it has been impressive,” said Boland. “They have the most tangible capability that we could go with, and we felt that the way they were thinking about it, the business model isn’t just for ride share or car share, it’s across a range of other industry applications, and we like that, too. It’s now getting serious, and real-life-scale operators like Addison Lee are looking to bring this to market.” That would include shuttle services but potentially other kinds of commercial transportation (note that Oxbotica counts a commercial insurer as a backer).
“This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond,” said Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica, in a statement. “Our partnership with Addison Lee Group represents another milestone for the commercial deployment of our integrated autonomous vehicle and fleet management software systems in complex urban transport conditions. Together, we are taking a major step in delivering the future of mobility.”
The two will start first with a comprehensive 3D mapping sweep before moving on to other aspects of building the service to prepare a autonomous vehicle service for trials.
For now Addison Lee has not named a vehicle partner, and Boland said that this was intentional.
The initial mapping exercise will be on the company’s existing fleet of vehicles working on autonomous research around London today – those will be the Fords from last year’s deal, he said. “But in terms of future service provision in 2021, that decision is yet to be made. Oxbotica is agnostic to manufacturers, and that was also interesting to us at the moment.”
Although Addison Lee competes with the likes of Uber — which had to appeal for a provisional 15-month right to operate in London after initially losing its license — it is different in that it owns its own fleet of vehicles. That has given the company more of an incentive to try to develop its own technology that it might use across whatever vehicles it chooses to use in its fleet. It’s not clear how this will work alongside the fact that many car makers are also working on their own autonomous technology and subsequent strategy to “own” the self-driving experience — at some point they might even directly conflict — but for now following this route could be Addison Lee’s strongest bet for continuing to keep a close service for its drivers and its fleet, developing it in the way it feels is best for its own business.
“It’s about having a bit more control between us,” Boland said of the deal with Oxbotica, ” and creating and building those services together without the dependencies without the changing priorities of an OEM. So that we can do what we need to do.”
The self-driving car market is expected to be worth some
Addison Lee and Oxbotica ink self-driving deal, will offer autonomous car services in London by 2021
After undertaking a year-long investigation with Ford and four other mobility specialists on how to build self-driving systems that integrate with London’s existing transport infrastructure, Addison Lee today is announcing the next step in its autonomous strategy. The on-demand ride company — which competes with black cabs, Uber and other car services — announced a […]
Wael Abbas, a human rights activist focused on police brutality in Egypt, has been under arrest since May on charges of spreading fake news and “misusing social media.” Andy Hall, a labor rights researcher, has been fighting charges under Thailand’s computer crime laws because of a report published online that identified abuses of migrant workers.
You wouldn’t normally mention Egypt and Thailand in the same breath. But both countries underwent military coups within the last five years, and even among the many oppressive regimes in the world, they are going to extra lengths today to prosecute free speech.
Abbas and Hall are just two examples of hundreds of recent prosecutions. In 2017 alone, Egyptian security forces arrested at least 240 people based on online posts. Three years after the coup, Thai authorities had charged more than 105 people just for posting comments deemed offensive to the monarchy.
To be clear, neither country has ever been a bastion of free speech. Thailand has been ranked “not free” seven out of the eight years that political-rights nonprofit Freedom House has published its Freedom on the Net Report. Egypt’s score has steadily declined since the height of the Arab Spring, going from “partly free” to “not free” in the last three years.
Sanja Kelly has been with Freedom House for 14 years and has headed its Internet Freedom division since 2010. She tells me that what’s especially alarming is the extent to which authorities in both Egypt and Thailand have gone to silence online dissent. Activists and dissidents may well anticipate persecution around the world, but today housewives, students and even tourists in Egypt and Thailand have become the target of prosecutions for as little as posting a video or responding to a private message on social media.
Over the last five years both Egypt and Thailand have experienced an unprecedented crackdown on internet freedom. “In 2015, the Egyptian government blocked only two websites. Today, they are blocking over 500,” Kelly explained. “The situation in Egypt and Thailand is now among the most repressive in the world.”
Since El-Sisi seized power in 2013 in a coup, the Egyptian government has taken drastic steps to clamp down online. In its latest move, the government enacted a law in September that makes any social media user with more than 5,000 followers subject to regulation as a publisher. So now in Egypt, if you have more than 5,000 Twitter followers, for example, you’re subject to the same regulations that the New York Times has on what it publishes.
It wasn’t always like this. Back in 2011, Facebook and Twitter were hailed as drivers behind the Arab Spring. The protests that resulted led to the toppling of Hosni Mubarak who had ruled the country for nearly 30 years. At their height, many journalists even started calling the protests the “Twitter uprising” and the “Facebook revolution.”
Kelly tells me that freedom on the internet in Egypt has been getting progressively worse since Sisi seized power. Even under Mubarak, the authorities were not as concerned with policing speech on the internet. But that has completely changed since 2013.
Kelly adds that the measures Egyptian authorities passed this year were intended to tighten their grip on social media and internet use even further. The result has been more and more Egyptians being arrested, with the authorities using a combination of laws to bring charges.
Thailand has long been known for its strict application of its l
When I bought the Nintendo Switch a few months ago, my friends told me to buy Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That’s precisely what I did, but none of those games were enough to get me hooked, which is probably for the best. But then came Super Mario Party, which Nintendo released earlier this month for the Switch. I grew up gaming, but somehow never played Super Mario Party. Well, it seems as if I’ve been missing out my whole life. Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch is a quick, pick-up-and-play kind of game. You set the difficulty level, tell the game how much you want to party (10, 15 or 20 turns) and that’s how long you’ll party. But be careful playing with your friends or significant others, because it’s bound to stir up their competitive natures. For those who are unfamiliar with Super Mario Party, it’s a digital board game. The name of the game (well, not literally) is to collect the most stars. To collect these stars, you roll one of two dice — a standard one or one that’s unique to your character. Some characters have dice that roll up to ten (like Donkey Kong and Bowser), but that also comes with the risk of not moving at all or losing coins, which you need to buy stars. After each round, you play a mini-game, where you’re able to earn some more coins. Depending on the game, you’ll need to put your memory, hand-eye coordination or even sense of touch to work. Thankfully, there’s an opportunity to practice before each mini-game. Throughout the game, there are opportunities to steal coins and stars from people. During my last party, Luigi stole a star from Yoshi (played by my girlfriend) and it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say profanities were exclaimed. There are more than 80 minigames available to play, some of which make great use of the Joy Con, the name for the Switch’s detachable controllers. The party mode has four game boards. My favorite board (that is, the board on which I tend to perform the best), is Megafruit Paradise. Down the road, maybe through a software update of sorts, it’d be great to have more boards to choose from. Super Mario Party also features a few other modes: river survival, where you control a boat with the Joy-Con paddles, a Sound Stage that reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution and mini-game mode, where you just play mini-games. But in my experience, it’s the most fun to play the standard party mode. I’ve heard the best way to play the game is with four humans, but I’ve only ever played it with my girlfriend. We’re already both pretty intense about it, so I could only imagine what it’d be like to play with two other people. Consider this my open invitation to holler at me to get a party started.
Egypt and Thailand: When the military turns against free speech
You wouldn’t normally mention Egypt and Thailand in the same breath. But both countries underwent military coups within the last five years, and even among the many oppressive regimes in the world, they are going to extra lengths today to prosecute free speech.
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When I bought the Nintendo Switch a few months ago, my friends told me to buy Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That’s precisely what I did, but none of those games were enough to get me hooked, which is probably for the best. But […]
Super Mario Party is Nintendo Switch’s best game
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When I bought the Nintendo Switch a few months ago, my friends told me to buy Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That’s precisely what I did, but none of those games were enough to get me hooked, which is probably for the best.
But then came Super Mario Party, which Nintendo released earlier this month for the Switch. I grew up gaming, but somehow never played Super Mario Party. Well, it seems as if I’ve been missing out my whole life.
Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch is a quick, pick-up-and-play kind of game. You set the difficulty level, tell the game how much you want to party (10, 15 or 20 turns) and that’s how long you’ll party. But be careful playing with your friends or significant others, because it’s bound to stir up their competitive natures.
For those who are unfamiliar with Super Mario Party, it’s a digital board game. The name of the game (well, not literally) is to collect the most stars.
To collect these stars, you roll one of two dice — a standard one or one that’s unique to your character. Some characters have dice that roll up to ten (like Donkey Kong and Bowser), but that also comes with the risk of not moving at all or losing coins, which you need to buy stars.
After each round, you play a mini-game, where you’re able to earn some more coins. Depending on the game, you’ll need to put your memory, hand-eye coordination or even sense of touch to work. Thankfully, there’s an opportunity to practice before each mini-game.
Throughout the game, there are opportunities to steal coins and stars from people. During my last party, Luigi stole a star from Yoshi (played by my girlfriend) and it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say profanities were exclaimed.
There are more than 80 minigames available to play, some of which make great use of the Joy Con, the name for the Switch’s detachable controllers.
The party mode has four game boards. My favorite board (that is, the board on which I tend to perform the best), is Megafruit Paradise. Down the road, maybe through a software update of sorts, it’d be great to have more boards to choose from.
Super Mario Party also features a few other modes: river survival, where you control a boat with the Joy-Con paddles, a Sound Stage that reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution and mini-game mode, where you just play mini-games.
But in my experience, it’s the most fun to play the standard party mode. I’ve heard the best way to play the game is with four humans, but I’ve only ever played it with my girlfriend. We’re already both pretty intense about it, so I could only imagine what it’d be like to play with two other people. Consider this my open invitation to holler at me to get a party started.