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Google: We’re stopping making tablets, killing off two iPad rivals in pipeline

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Pixel Slate and Pixel 3: Are Google’s new devices priced right?
Larry Dignan and Jason Hiner discuss the pros and cons of Google’s latest mobile devices and how they advance the company’s hardware strategy.

Google is giving up on making its pricey Pixel-branded tablets and has confirmed it will not deliver a follow-up to its 2018 Pixel Slate.

Google’s Chrome OS Pixel Slate got positive reviews but also complaints about the quality of Android apps. It was an expensive tablet but one that gave full desktop Chrome, the ability to run Android apps, and introduced round keys on the attached keyboard. 

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

But there will be no sequel to the 2018 Pixel Slate. Google has told Computerworld that it had two smaller-sized Chrome OS slabs in the works but this week decided to kill these iPad rivals and focus solely on its Pixelbook hardware – a laptop rival to high-end Windows 10 hardware like Microsoft’s Surface devices, and to some extent Apple MacBook Pro laptops.    

From here on in, Google’s Pixel story will revolve around Pixel phones and the Pixelbook laptop line. Indeed, there could be a new Pixelbook out by the end of the year, according to a Google spokesperson. 

Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, confirmed the Pixel pivot on Twitter, noting that Google’s hardware team “will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward”.

Of course, Google will not be abandoning Android and Chrome OS efforts with other OEMs that make tablets.    

He also noted that Google will continue to support the Pixel Slate for a few years. That means software updates through to June of 2024, according to Computerworld. 

Google started selling the Pixel Slate in November 2018 from $600 and up. The tablet had a solid display and offered mouse and trackpad support, but it was also expensive for the category, especially when compared with the wider Chromebook market.  

The Pixel Slate was the successor to the Pixel C, which Google released in 2015. The ‘C’ stood for convertible, but required an extra $150 for the Bluetooth keyboard on top of the $500 base price to make the 10.2-inch tablet a convertible.  



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How VC really works, longevity investor survey, choosing your angel – TechCrunch

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“Venture capital” is semantically equivalent to “dangerous money,” which is part of its mystique.

Essentially, VC is a high-stakes extreme sport in which top players can accumulate startling amounts of wealth and power. And sometimes, a massive pile of investor cash burns so brightly, it gets picked up on satellites.

But where does all that money actually come from, and how do VCs actually make money? Prior to joining TechCrunch, reporter Haje Jan Kamps worked at VC fund Bolt, where he interacted directly with early-stage founders.

“Once you’re on the VC-fueled treadmill, you can’t easily step back off,” he writes. “The corollary of that is that I suspect a lot of founders don’t really know how venture capital works.”

In this comprehensive explainer, he deconstructs venture capital to help readers understand how investors think about risk and return, pro-rata rights, and why “VC investing is a hits-driven business.”

It should go without saying, but it’s a bad idea to pitch an investor if you don’t have a solid grasp of how they operate.

“As a startup founder, you’d never dream of selling a product to a customer you don’t truly understand,” writes Haje. “Not understanding why your VC partner might be interested to invest in you is dangerous.”

Thanks very much for reading TC+ this week!

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+
@yourprotagonist

Planning to use your startup equity as collateral? Good luck

Image Credits: Colin Anderson Productions pty ltd (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Employee incentives are one of the oldest brain hacks. Offer the right person enough equity and delicious snacks and they will gladly work 60+ hours/week or take part in a weekend dev sprint.

But workers who are interested in accessing liquidity have just two options: wait for a tender offer from their employer, or find a private buyer in the secondary markets.

“You could claim the system is broken. I happen to agree,” says Max Brenner, part of the founding team at Compound.

Why do startup valuations go down when interest rates go up?

Digital generated image of pink popsicle in shape of DOLLAR sign melting on yellow background. Inflation concept.

Image Credits: Andri Onufriyenko (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The U.S. Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates to tamp down inflation, just one of several factors that are driving down startup valuations these days.

But why?

Higher inflation directly impacts access to capital, your customers’ ability to pay, and, not incidentally, the service you’ll receive from providers (which includes your own employees).

“If your customers benefit from inflation, then there’s a good chance that your company will, too,” says Equidam founder Daniel Faloppa.

“In most cases, though, when your customers benefit, your service providers suffer.”

Pitch Deck Teardown: Mi Terro’s $1.5M seed deck

Image Credits: Mi Terro (opens in a new window)

In March, Mi Terro raised a $1.5 million seed round to scale up efforts to turn agricultural waste into proteins that can be used to replace legacy plastics that have fouled our environment.

The company’s founders shared a 15-slide pitch deck with TC+ that runs through their plans to use spent grain to create material for everything from contact lenses to detergent pods.

Or, as the closing slide states, “Drink more beer, reduce more microplastic.”

Dear Sophie: How do I get an O-1 visa to freelance on web3 projects?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I’m a UX/UI designer in Europe working at a web3 company in the United States.

I would like to resign from my current position and move to the U.S. to pursue work that allows me to have more autonomy, flexibility and the ability to take on a variety of projects with different clients in the U.S.

How can I make that happen? Thanks for your help!

—Worldly web3 Wonder

Choose your angel: Learn how they invest and what motivates them

White wings isolated on black background

Image Credits: Newbird (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The “choose your fighter” meme can be traced back to the video game Mortal Kombat, but it’s also relevant for seed-stage founders who are looking for an investor.

Making money is top of mind for every angel, but according to Mack Kolarich, VP of Assure Analytics, most of them also “have a second or third motivator driving them to invest in startups.”

In a TC+ guest post, he lays out several factors entrepreneurs need to consider when investor-shopping: Are they supporting a local ecosystem? Do they write direct checks?

“Armed with this knowledge, you can strategically select the right partner for your business,” says Kolarich.

5 investors explain why longevity tech is a long-term play

person Lighting 93 candles on a cake; longevity tech investor survey

Image Credits: Lucy Lambriex (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In the United States, average life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row. In 2019, it was 78.86 years, but by 2020, that figure shrank by 2 years and 3 months.

The decline was due to COVID-19, but reporter Anna Heim interviewed five investors who are backing startups developing technology that may allow us to live longer, healthier lives.

Longevity is a nascent vertical today, but “the space is only getting started now and will infiltrate all aspects of our life in the next five to 10 years,” said one respondent.

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Rivian has dropped its cheapest trim level due to low customer demand – TechCrunch

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Rivian is discontinuing the cheapest trim level of its all-electric truck and SUV known as the Explore package due to low demand, according to emails sent this week to customers.

The company said in the email, which was first cited in the Rivian Owners Forum, that customers  with a pre-order for the Explore package will need to reconfigure to the Adventure trim by September 1 or have their pre-order cancelled. Rivian also issued information on its customer support page that explains why it cancelled the package and what customers’ options are.

For customers who pre-ordered the Explore trim, the change means an increase of about $5,500. The base Adventure package, which includes a dual-motor and standard battery pack that gets more than 260 miles of range, starts at $73,000.

“In order to deliver as many vehicles as possible, we have made the decision to discontinue the Explore Package. We realize this news is unexpected and apologize for how it impacts your plans,” the email said.

A few customers on the forum expressed their anger at the changes. It’s unclear if Rivian will lose existing customers due to the change. Although with a reported backlog of orders, it may not matter. As of June 30, 2022, Rivian’s net R1 preorder backlog was about 98,000 from consumers in the U.S. and Canada, according to its second-quarter letter to shareholders.

The company initially launched its R1T truck and R1S SUV with two packages. The Explore was intended as the entry-level package and the Adventure was the higher priced trim that offered more features.

Rivian said in the email that it expected a large number of customers would choose Explore. It turns out, they have not.

“To date, only a small percentage of customers have chosen this configuration, with the vast majority selecting the Adventure trim. By focusing on the Adventure trim package, we’re able to streamline our supply chain and ultimately deliver vehicles more quickly,” the email stated.

Rivian has made other price changes this year that caused temporary outrage among customers.

In March 2022, Rivian raised the price of its R1T pickup by 17% and R1S SUV by about 20% in an effort to adjust to inflationary pressure, increases in the cost of raw materials and parts as well as a prolonged chip shortage. Those price increases initially included customers who had put down deposits.

CEO RJ Scaringe walked back those plans after public backlash and issued a press release that promised customers who placed their preorder for either vehicle prior to March 1 that their original price will be honored. He also offered to restore any preorders from customers who cancelled as a result of the planned change.

That price change was supposed to be part of Rivian’s broader plan to introduce a new dual-motor version of the truck and SUV in 2024. That new propulsion system includes motors designed and manufactured by Rivian.

The company  first introduced the R1T and R1S in 2018 as all-wheel drive EVs equipped with a quad-motor system that pumped up the horsepower and torque and helped the startup stand out. The base price of the quad-motor R1T and R1S were originally $67,500 and $70,000 respectively.

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What happens when a Black founder is ousted? – TechCrunch

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To play on a Langston Hughes poem — what happens to a Black founder ousted? Are they forgotten, like words on the tip of one’s tongue? Or revered like a deity and then thrown to the sun?

The topic is often awkward to ponder and layered in its probe since the reasons for a Black founder’s booting are shrouded in unknown intentions:

A Black founder could have messed up severely – but is the retaliation fair? Is it harsher than what their white counterparts would have received?

A Black founder could encounter an accusation – but was it doused in microaggressive anger?

Would things have unfolded in the way they did if the founder was white?

Each time a Black founder is removed from or criticized at their company, apprehension arises around figuring out what happened. This makes such conversations hard.

“It is in our best interest to operate with the understanding that our mistakes cost more, hurt more, and are rarely forgiven.” Oladosu Teyibo, founder of Analog Teams

For example, news broke last week that Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, was fired from the organization she spent decades building. The reception was mixed. Founders who spoke to TechCrunch agreed that the employees who alleged misconduct by Bryant were right to speak out; they also said the board of BGC was too swift in Bryant’s ousting and denied her proper due process.

“Two things can be true at the same time,” Minda Harts, a consultant on equity and inclusion, told TechCrunch regarding the BGC situation. “All involved deserved better.”

Aside from Bryant, there have been a few high-profile cases of Black founders being ousted from their organizations. Marceau Michel was recently removed from his venture fund Black Founders Matter for matters still publicly undisclosed. Brian Brackeen was shown the door at his company, Kairos, in 2018, with the board citing “willful misconduct.” Other founder situations have flown under the radar; many are still too afraid to speak out.

What is known is that when Black founders are lost, the entire community suffers.

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