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Instagram to test hiding Like counts in US, which could hurt influencers – TechCrunch

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“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health” says Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri. To that end, next week Instagram will expand its test of hiding Like counts from everyone but a post’s creator to some users in the United States. But there are major questions about whether the change will hurt influencers.

Mosseri revealed the plan at the Wired25 conference today, saying Instagram “We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem.”

Instagram’s CEO explained that “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connect ing with the people they love and things that inspire them.” The intention is to “reduce anxiety” and “reduce social comparison”.

Elsewhere during the talk that also featured actor and CEO Tracie Ellis Ross, Mosseri discussed Instagram’s growing interest in shopping, and how it can provide new revenue streams to influencers. He also described Instagram’s three-pronged approach to well-being where it identifies and addresses acute problems such as hate speech, finds positions where it can lead as with fighting bullying, and rethinks fundamentals of how the platform works as with Like count hiding.

Instagram began testing this in April in Canada and expanded it to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand in July. Facebook started a similar experiment in Australia in September.

While it seems likely that making Instagram less of a popularity contest might aid the average user, Instagram has to be mindful that it doesn’t significantly decrease creators’ or influencers’ engagement and business success. These content makers are vital to Instagram’s success, since they keep their fan bases coming back day after day, even If  users’ friends are growing stale.

A new study by HypeAuditor reported by Social Media Today found that influencers across tiers of follower counts almost unanimously saw their Like counts fall in countries where the hidden Like count test was active. Likes fell 3% to 15% in all the countries for influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers.

Only in Japan, and only for influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 or 100,000 to 1 million followers did the change lead to a boost in Likes — of about 6% in both groups. Meanwhile, influencers saw the biggest loss of Likes in the Brazilian market. Those trends could relate to how users in certain countries might feel more comfortable Liking something if they don’t know who else is too, while in other nations users might rely on more herd mentality to know what to Like.

If Instagram finds the impact of the test to be too negative on influencers, it may not roll out the change. While Mosseri stated the company wasn’t afraid to hurt its own bottom line, impairing the careers of influencers may not be acceptable unless the positive impacts on well-being are significant enough.

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As for what specifically drove him to leave, Cox explained that, “It wasn’t something where I felt I wanted to spend another 13 years on social media. Mark and I saw things a little bit differently . . . I think we are still investigatingu00a0as an industry, how do you balance protecting the privacy of people’s information and continuingu00a0to keep people safe,” Cox said.

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On whether moving toward encryption was part of that, he said he thinks encryption is “great: and that “It offers an enormous amount of protection,” but noted “it certainly makes some of those things more complicated” on the privacy versus safety balance. He complemented Facebook’s efforts to build ways of catching bad actors even if they’re shielded by encryption. That includes digital literacy initiatives in Brazil and India ahead of elections, and offering forwarding systems for sending questionable information to fact checkers. “I think there are pros and cons with these systems and I’m not a hard-liner on any one of them,” Cox said, and noted that what Facebook is building is “resonant with what people want.”

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Cox was asked about the major debate about whether Facebook should allow political advertising. “We think political advertising can be good and helpful. It often favors up and comers versus incumbents.” Still, on fact-checking, he said, “I’m a big fan,” even though Facebook isn’t applying that to political ads. He did note that “I think the company should investigate and is investigating micro targeting . . . if there’s hundreds of variants being run of the creative thenu00a0it’s tricky to get your arms around what’s being said.” He also advocated for more context in the user interface distinguishing political ads.u00a0

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Chris Cox speaks at Wired25

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Cox’s next projects

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Since leaving Facebook, Cox has joined the advisory board of a group called Acronym, which is helping to build out the campaign and messaging technology stack for progressive candidates. “This is an area where my perception is that the progressives have been behind on the ability to develop and use as a team infrastructure that helps you have a good voter file, how to develop messaging —u00a0just basic politics in 2019.”

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Wired’s Lauren Goode asked if he was aligning himself with progressives, taking a political stance, and whether he could do that while still at Facebook. “Absolutely not,” Cox responded.And why is that I think when you’re in a veryu00a0senior role at a platform, you have a duty to be much more neutral in your politics.”

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He then came out with a bold statement enabled by his independence. “I think Trump should not be our president. The other thing I care a lot about right now is climate change and he’s not going to help us there.”

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That led to Cox discussing that he’s also been working to advise San Francisco startup Planet Labs, which is using satellite imagery to track climate change. “The vision was to build these small, about shoebox-size satellites with solar panel panel wings and have a fleet of them in space, which is real-time imaging the Earth.”

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With that data, Cox explained you can track wildfires, deforestation, coal power plants, methane gas and more. Then, “You can start to contribute to having a health system, where you are basically imaging the Earth every hour, and then you’re creating some public data set with tools that plug into decision makers, banks, insurance companies, policymakers, investors, journalists, students…”

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Asked about big tech’s responsibility for addressing climate change, Cox said “I think at the very least it’s making a commitment to being carbon-negative.”

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Acronym and Planet Labs’ work intertwines, as Cox believes climate data proves the need for someone new in the Oval Office. While Cox didn’t discuss it onstage, Wired listed him as part of Shasta Group, which is Cox’s own vehicle for contributing to these projects. Still, he’s not ready to launch a full-fledged company of his own in politics and climate. “I’m still so youngu00a0at this field that I don’t have enough confidence in my own mental model of the world.”

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Cox concluded that by harnessing big company’s employees and having team leaders put more attention on climate change, “I do think tech can lead.”u00a0

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Chris Cox’s motivational speeches were at the heart of Facebook’s new employee orientation. But after 14 years at the social network, the chief product officer left in March amidst an executive shake-up and Facebook’s new plan to prioritize privacy by moving to encrypt its messaging apps. No details on his next projects were revealed. Now […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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lung ‘breakthrough’ suggests lethal culprit in THC products could be vitamin E acetate”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Official word has come down from federal authorities on one potential cause of the mystery illness affecting vape users: Vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in some vaping products that has been demonstrated to linger in the lungs long afterwards. The finding has been called a “breakthrough” but is far from the last word on the situation.

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Sadly, the condition has already claimed the lives of at least 39 people, and more than 2,000 cases have been reported collectively from every state but Alaska. At present the only advice offered has been to stop vaping altogether.

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In a media teleconference, the heads of the investigation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained the basis for pointing the finger at Vitamin E acetate. The substance was cited as a possible problem early on but only recent testing has established it as a bona fide suspect, the team explained.

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Samples taken from the lungs of 29 victims of the condition were sent in from 10 different states, and vitamin E acetate was found in all of them. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate as the primary site of injury within the lungs,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC .

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Although she agreed that this evidence is a “breakthrough,” she noted that it is at present merely a correlative finding u2014 more research is required to establish causation, namely the mechanism of harm, though other work has been done in that area.

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“Previous non-CDC research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung function,” she said.

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“It’s important to note that these findings do not rule out other possible compounds or ingredients that may be causing these lung injuries,” she continued. “There may be more than one cause of the outbreak.”

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Equally important are the statistics involved with the sources of the substances in question. As mentioned earlier in the investigation, a huge proportion of those suffering from this condition were using THC products, and specifically ones acquired through unregulated channels like street dealers.

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The vitamin E acetate may have been added for the purpose of essentially cutting the product, Schuchat mentioned in response to a question on the call.

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“That may be done for the illicit purpose, or the profit purpose, of diluting the materials, making it look nice and perhaps not having to use as much THC or other active ingredients,” she said.

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Other potentially dangerous chemicals have been identified in vape products when heated and aerosolized, including many that even the creators might not have predicted.

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Knowing a potential culprit doesn’t get at the heart of the problem, which would be that this chemical (perhaps among others) has already built up over months or years in the lungs of frequent vape users. Treatment is a parallel line of research, but knowing at least one substance responsible should be helpful.

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The CDC’s previous advice still stands, the officials noted: They advise avoiding vaping altogether, as there are very few controls at present over which ingredients are allowed in vape products, and what must be declared on the packaging, or indeed whether those declarations are in any way accurate.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Official word has come down from federal authorities on one potential cause of the mystery illness affecting vape users: Vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in some vaping products that has been demonstrated to linger in the lungs long afterwards. The finding has been called a “breakthrough” but is far from the last word on […]

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Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. He has also written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, The Economist/GE’s Look Ahead, and others.

nn

His personal website is coldewey.cc.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1458774381/r4iwkrm6qsw3n2ximghe.jpg”,”twitter”:”techcrunch”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/12084691″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:12084691,”name”:”Devin Coldewey”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/devin-coldewey/”,”slug”:”devin-coldewey”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://techcrunch.com/author/tcdevin”,”twitter”:”http://twitter.com/techcrunch”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/company/techcrunch”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/devin-coldewey”},”position”:”Writer & Photographer”,”cbDescription”:”

Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. He has also written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, The Economist/GE’s Look Ahead, and others.

nn

His personal website is coldewey.cc.

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A vape pen exuding vapor.

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how to win customers and influence consumers at Disrupt Berlin”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Every startup is a story and every startup’s success depends — on some level — on how well they can either tell that story or get that story told.

n

The best stories are the ones that create an instant brand. One that sparks a relationship or a moment of inspiration with customers and consumers alike. Those are the stories that transform industries and re-contextualize how businesses think of themselves and their competition.

n

On the Extra Crunch Stage at Disrupt Berlin three of the finest practitioners of the dark arts of branding, public relations, marketing and communications will share their tips and tricks on how to get coverage for a company and how to use that coverage to get at the strategic objectives that companies need to fulfill as they grow.

n

These alchemists of allusive include Collette Ballou, the founder of the eponymous Ballou PR; Katy Turner, the managing director of Multiple; and longtime public relations pro, Joanna Kirk.

n

Ballou began her career in European public relations in the aftermath of the dot-com collapse in the U.S. in 2001. Both an investor and an entrepreneur, Ballou has worked with startups and investment firms including 83 North, Accel Partners, Box, Criteo, Eventbrite, Facebook, GoEuro (now Omio), Lakestar, Pinterest, Stack Overflow, Stripe, TransferWise, Twilio, Waze, WhatsApp and Zendesk. She also is an investor in venture funds, including Cavalry Ventures and Connect Ventures.

n

Before founding Multiple, Turner worked in several different roles across the tech industry in the U.K. and Europe. She began her career at Orange (in a time when it was actually cool to work for a mobile operator, she says). That role led to positions at Eden Ventures, Videoplaza and as the chief marketing officer at Tech City UK. In addition to her work at Multiple, Turner also serves as a mentor for Seedcamp and Techstars and sits on the investment committee for the University of Bristol’s Enterprise Fund.

n

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Every startup is a story and every startup’s success depends — on some level — on how well they can either tell that story or get that story told. The best stories are the ones that create an instant brand. One that sparks a relationship or a moment of inspiration with customers and consumers alike. […]

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Earning more dollars from home easily just by working 0nline j0b from home. Makes every month extra $20k or more from this easy h0me j0b. Last month i have made $22759 from this just in my spare time. Every person can now get this and start earning 0nline from the instructions given to this web page.. visit This Site ———->>> http://www.Buzz-Work.com

n”},”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/22/learn-how-to-win-customers-and-influence-consumers-at-disrupt-berlin/#comment-677110″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9501dc94fa113cf78b67098bd3622179?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9501dc94fa113cf78b67098bd3622179?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9501dc94fa113cf78b67098bd3622179?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/677110″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”}],”up”:[{“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1900747″}]}},{“id”:677097,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Rashaverick Overlord”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-10-22T14:42:22″,”content”:{“rendered”:”

Will this be as poorly attended as SF Disrupt and essentially a series of agendaed and scripted press conferences?

n”},”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/22/learn-how-to-win-customers-and-influence-consumers-at-disrupt-berlin/#comment-677097″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b754eef8128d0724750c038787218fa9?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b754eef8128d0724750c038787218fa9?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b754eef8128d0724750c038787218fa9?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/677097″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”}],”up”:[{“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1900747″}]}}]],”authors”:[{“id”:59254947,”name”:”Jonathan Shieber”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/jonathan-shieber/”,”slug”:”jonathan-shieber”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/jshieber”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jonathan-shieber/0/baa/b27″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jonathan-shieber”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Jonathan is an editor at TechCrunch. Previously he worked as a senior reporter for Dow Jones & Co., covering venture capital and private equity investment from New York and Shanghai. He can be reached via email at shieber@techcrunch.com.

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Jonathan is an editor at TechCrunch. Previously he worked as a senior reporter for Dow Jones & Co., covering venture capital and private equity investment from New York and Shanghai. He can be reached via email at shieber@techcrunch.com.

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look at the top trends exciting NYC’s consumer VCs”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

To learn more about the next wave of consumer startup investment outside Silicon Valley, Iu2019m speaking to leading B2C-focused investors in various hubs about the trends they’re excited about right now.u00a0

n

Recently, I shared the responses from several London-based investors; today, we spoke to eight of New Yorku2019s top consumer VCs:

n

    n

  • Rebecca Kaden, Partner at Union Square Ventures
  • n

  • David Tisch, Founding Partner at BoxGroup
  • n

  • Anu Duggal, Founding Partner at Female Founders Fund
  • n

  • Craig Shapiro, Partner at Collaborative Fund
  • n

  • Jeremy Levine, Partner at Bessemer
  • n

  • Beth Ferreira, Partner at Firstmark Capital
  • n

  • Graham Brown, Partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures
  • n

  • Eric Reiner, Partner at Sinai Ventures
  • n

  • Chris Paik, Partner at Pace Capital
  • n

n

Consumer health and banking startups were recurring areas of interest, and there’s a sense that apps and product brands which provide a deeper sense of community are an untapped opportunity.

n

Rebecca Kaden, Partner at Union Square Ventures

n

At USV, we are focused on opportunities that broaden access by leveraging technology to increase value and decrease cost in big buckets of consumer spend. In doing so, we are looking for ways to make products and services previously available to a select segment available to many more. In particular, we have been investing in areas of consumer health where the delivery mechanism not only makes the care more convenient but also more affordable and higher quality; products and platforms in financial services that change the traditional underlying model to drive financial health for a mass customer; and opportunities that create new access to education both for kids and lifelong learners.u00a0

n

Within each of these segments, I’ve been very interested in how new communities are forming inside products–users that come for a specific offering are forming allegiance and increasing engagement by interacting with other users. I think that is a trend we will only see accelerate.

n

David Tisch, Founding Partner at BoxGroup

n

People are bored on their phones, not of their phones. I am most excited to meet founders working on consumer apps that bring happiness and fun to a mass consumer audience, as I continue to believe we are in the early days of mobile and the app store is not dead.

n

These apps may look like a game, they may be a game, or they may be a new feed, but TikTok, Twitch, HQ, Yolo and other Snap app kit apps, Tinder and others have shown consumers want new apps, the barrier for adoption and retention isu00a0 just very high. All apps and games have a half-life, creating something with a very long one is really hard, but the demand is sitting on the phone scrolling thorough feeds, waiting for some new fun. We are excited about apps that allow people to interact with others in different ways, in new worlds, using new hardware, or new interfaces.

n

n

Anu Duggal, Founding Partner at Female Founders Fund

n

With the rise of the sober curious movement, we invested in Kin Euphorics, offering consumers a sexy option to an alcoholic drink, creating a social experience around a non-alcoholic beverage that doesnu2019t exist in the market today. With beer sales decreasing five years in a row, brands like Heineken are offering alcohol-free alternatives catering to this growing audience.

n

With the decline of religion, we have seen the rise of what we call the u201crise of the alternate community.u201d Consumers are looking for ways to connect online and offline based on specific interests. Examples of this in our portfolio include The Wonder, a membership model for familyhood, Peanut, a social network for modern motherhood, and Co-Star, an astrology app.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

To learn more about the next wave of consumer startup investment outside Silicon Valley, Iu2019m speaking to leading B2C-focused investors in various hubs about the trends they’re excited about right now.u00a0 Recently, I shared the responses from several London-based investors; today, we spoke to eight of New Yorku2019s top consumer VCs: Rebecca Kaden, Partner at […]

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 19: An aerial view of scenes around Manhattan from a Royal Navy helicopter on October 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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Horowitz launches free crypto startup school”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Last month, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) general partner Chris Dixon announced at TechCrunch Disrupt that the VC firm would run a free crypto startup school. And the company is officially launching its school today. Applications are now open and you have four weeks to apply.

n

With this initiative, a16z wants to democratize cryptocurrencies. Dixon and the a16z team has been involved in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space for seven years, and the firm now wants to share some of its learnings with entrepreneurs.

n

This way, it could give a boost to the crypto community, which could create investment opportunities for a16z down the road u2014 a16z says clearly that participating in the crypto startup school doesn’t mean you’ll receive an investment from a16z. It also positions a16z as a thoughtful investor when it comes to crypto startup investments u2014 not just for participants of the crypto startup school but for the crypto community at large.

n

The a16z Crypto Startup School will be a seven-week program that starts February 21, 2020. The program is free and a16z doesnu2019t take any equity.

n

Lectures will take place in Menlo Park, so you have to be based in Silicon Valley or willing to spend a couple of months there. And because a16z knows that it can be challenging to move to another country just to attend this program, the firm will also be recording all lectures. Anyone will be able to watch videos and download curriculum materials later.

n

Hereu2019s a sneak peek of the course outline:

n

n

    n

  • What are Crypto Networks, and Why Do They Matter?
  • n

  • Blockchain Computing Primitives: Cryptography and Consensus
  • n

  • Overview of Application Development Tools
  • n

  • Applications: Today and 2025
  • n

  • Crypto Business Models
  • n

  • Cryptoeconomics
  • n

  • UX, Product Development and Security
  • n

  • Go-to-Market Strategy and Developer Relations
  • n

  • Community Participation and Governance
  • n

  • Regulatory Landscape and Considerations
  • n

  • Guide to Fundraising
  • n

n

n

As you can, itu2019s a mix of lectures purely focused on cryptocurrencies as well as broader startup 101 lessons (fundraising, go-to-market strategy, etc.).

n

The program is looking for 20 to 25 teams, which should represent approximately 40 participants. You should have prior experience when it comes to building software products, but you donu2019t need to be a crytpo expert. Participants can expect 12 to 15 hours of lectures, workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities per week.

n

At the end of the course, participants will showcase a project idea or a prototype during a demo day.

n

ntt

nttntt

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Last month, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) general partner Chris Dixon announced at TechCrunch Disrupt that the VC firm would run a free crypto startup school. And the company is officially launching its school today. Applications are now open and you have four weeks to apply. With this initiative, a16z wants to democratize cryptocurrencies. Dixon and the […]

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He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

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He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

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He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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look at the top trends exciting NYC’s consumer VCs”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

To learn more about the next wave of consumer startup investment outside Silicon Valley, Iu2019m speaking to leading B2C-focused investors in various hubs about the trends they’re excited about right now.u00a0

n

Recently, I shared the responses from several London-based investors; today, we spoke to eight of New Yorku2019s top consumer VCs:

n

    n

  • Rebecca Kaden, Partner at Union Square Ventures
  • n

  • David Tisch, Founding Partner at BoxGroup
  • n

  • Anu Duggal, Founding Partner at Female Founders Fund
  • n

  • Craig Shapiro, Partner at Collaborative Fund
  • n

  • Jeremy Levine, Partner at Bessemer
  • n

  • Beth Ferreira, Partner at Firstmark Capital
  • n

  • Graham Brown, Partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures
  • n

  • Eric Reiner, Partner at Sinai Ventures
  • n

  • Chris Paik, Partner at Pace Capital
  • n

n

Consumer health and banking startups were recurring areas of interest, and there’s a sense that apps and product brands which provide a deeper sense of community are an untapped opportunity.

n

Rebecca Kaden, Partner at Union Square Ventures

n

At USV, we are focused on opportunities that broaden access by leveraging technology to increase value and decrease cost in big buckets of consumer spend. In doing so, we are looking for ways to make products and services previously available to a select segment available to many more. In particular, we have been investing in areas of consumer health where the delivery mechanism not only makes the care more convenient but also more affordable and higher quality; products and platforms in financial services that change the traditional underlying model to drive financial health for a mass customer; and opportunities that create new access to education both for kids and lifelong learners.u00a0

n

Within each of these segments, I’ve been very interested in how new communities are forming inside products–users that come for a specific offering are forming allegiance and increasing engagement by interacting with other users. I think that is a trend we will only see accelerate.

n

David Tisch, Founding Partner at BoxGroup

n

People are bored on their phones, not of their phones. I am most excited to meet founders working on consumer apps that bring happiness and fun to a mass consumer audience, as I continue to believe we are in the early days of mobile and the app store is not dead.

n

These apps may look like a game, they may be a game, or they may be a new feed, but TikTok, Twitch, HQ, Yolo and other Snap app kit apps, Tinder and others have shown consumers want new apps, the barrier for adoption and retention isu00a0 just very high. All apps and games have a half-life, creating something with a very long one is really hard, but the demand is sitting on the phone scrolling thorough feeds, waiting for some new fun. We are excited about apps that allow people to interact with others in different ways, in new worlds, using new hardware, or new interfaces.

n

n

Anu Duggal, Founding Partner at Female Founders Fund

n

With the rise of the sober curious movement, we invested in Kin Euphorics, offering consumers a sexy option to an alcoholic drink, creating a social experience around a non-alcoholic beverage that doesnu2019t exist in the market today. With beer sales decreasing five years in a row, brands like Heineken are offering alcohol-free alternatives catering to this growing audience.

n

With the decline of religion, we have seen the rise of what we call the u201crise of the alternate community.u201d Consumers are looking for ways to connect online and offline based on specific interests. Examples of this in our portfolio include The Wonder, a membership model for familyhood, Peanut, a social network for modern motherhood, and Co-Star, an astrology app.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

To learn more about the next wave of consumer startup investment outside Silicon Valley, Iu2019m speaking to leading B2C-focused investors in various hubs about the trends they’re excited about right now.u00a0 Recently, I shared the responses from several London-based investors; today, we spoke to eight of New Yorku2019s top consumer VCs: Rebecca Kaden, Partner at […]

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 19: An aerial view of scenes around Manhattan from a Royal Navy helicopter on October 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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Indonesian capital will impact nation’s startup ecosystem”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Recently reelected, Indonesian President Joko Widodou00a0announced a desire to move the nation’s capital from Jakarta to the East Kalimantan region, citing environmental concerns, the most exigent of these being the fact that Jakarta is literally sinking due to the uncontrolled extraction of groundwater. Widodo said he wished to separate Indonesiau2019s government from its business and economic hub in Jakarta.

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However, what would a move from Jakarta do to Indonesiau2019s burgeoning startup economy?

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Shifting administrative governmental hubs

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According to Widodo, studies have determined that the best site for the proposed new capital is between North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara, both located in East Kalimantan. The basis of this selection is due to studies highlighting the regionu2019s relative protection from natural disasters, especially when compared to other regions. This would definitely be a benefit for the governmental heart of Indonesia, ensuring continuous administrative functions in a disaster-prone region. Other governments have separated administrative centers from their economic hubs with varying degrees of success, with some examples being Brazilu2019s creation of Brasu00edlia, as well as Koreau2019s projected move from Seoul to Sejong.

n

What is most interesting to note from prior examples is that these newer branched-out cities are non-surprisingly, heavily government-centric. In Brasu00edlia, roles tied to the government make up nearly 40% of all jobs, while in Sejong, a lack of facilities like public transit and commercial mall space cause many to commute into Sejong for government work, instead of permanently settling in the area. Given the semi-undeveloped nature of East Kalimantan, these anecdotes are quite troubling if the government is actually moving to North Penajam Paser or Kutai Kertanegara.

n

These facts raise the question of economic impacts of such governmental moves. In fact, one may even opine that while these moves do allow for governmental growth, ultimately, they may hurt the country economically due to a divestment between both government and economic hubs. In this specific instance, it is most important to analyze the impact of such a move on Indonesiau2019s startup economy, as the nation is one the worldu2019s leaders in startup growth.

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Indonesiau2019s startup economy

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Indonesia has emerged as a startup hub within Southeast Asia in recent years, with its population of over 260 million marking it as the worldu2019s fourth-most populous country. Additionally, Indonesiau2019s mobile-first population has enabled the full embrace of the internet era, with 95% of all internet users in Indonesia connected to the web via a mobile device.

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Similarly, startup growth has boomed in the island archipelago, with several Indonesian-based unicorns disrupting local, regional, and global economies. Softbank-backed ecommerce giant Tokopedia is currently in talksu00a0for a pre-IPO funding round, while emerging super-app Gojek controls significant portions of the ride-sharing industry in Asia, simultaneously expanding intou00a0separate industriesu00a0to include digital payments, food delivery, and evenu00a0video-streaming. Additionally, online travel portal Traveloka (in which Expedia has a minority stake) has recentlyu00a0entered the financial services space, furthering its impact within Asia. These specific examples of high-growth startups demonstrate a population hungry for innovation, further driving the developing startup economy.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

A move to East Kalimantan would allow for further development in the startup industry, with a focus on ecommerce and sustainability-focused enterprises.

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Vehicles commute next to a construction site of the LRT (light rapid transit) in Jakarta on October 31, 2019. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP) (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images)

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Academy is scaling up a coding program for ‘the heartland’”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

The crowded landscape of programs teaching non-technical people to become software developers has been a proving ground for a new model of education financing: income share agreements (ISAs). With an ISA, students avoid paying tuition upfront or taking out private loans, instead paying a percentage of their income for a time after graduation after they’re earning a minimum income.

n

The model aligns education providers with students’ career outcomes, and one startup is staking a claim to be the leader in the space; Kenzie Academy, a year-long program with a physical campus in Indianapolis u2014 and a student body that’s 66 percent online u2014 announced a partnership with Community Investment Management (CIM) earlier this week that provides $100 million in debt to cover the operating costs associated with students who defer payment through ISAs.

n

Kenzie co-founder and CEO Chok Ooi says that core to Kenzie’s mission is the goal that its graduates “can stay in the heartland and attract more jobs so that someone coming out of the Midwest no longer has to move to Silicon Valley or New York to have a successful career in tech.” This $100 million is one of the largest commitments yet to financing ISAs and Kenzie is using it to recruit a more diverse population of students who may not be able to afford tuition or qualify for student loans otherwise.

n

I interviewed Ooi to understand how Kenzie differentiates itself from competitors, how it has iterated its model to improve retention and job placement and how he expects the ISA market to evolve over the next couple years. Here’s the transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:

n

Eric Peckham: The landscape of software developer training programs is crowded. Where did you see an opportunity to do something different, and how do you position Kenzie relative to others in the market?

n

Chok Ooi: My co-founder came from Galvanize, so we observed firsthand the proliferation of tech and coding boot camps. These are typically short-term, three-to-five month programs and they tend to do well serving people with college degrees. I would say that they are disrupting the masters’ program space. We saw a major gap in programs that serve a much larger demographic of people who are much earlier in their development. People who never went to college, or did a little bit of college and dropped out, or just never had a professional work experience. A three-month training is insufficient to get them to a point where they could land a technical job and be successful.

n

We saw an opportunity to bring high-quality tech education to the American heartland that is 12 months in length. For about two-thirds of our students, this is their first post-secondary credential training.

n

We are giving them not just the technical skills, but elements from a traditional four-year college as well, like critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.

n

Compared to those other bootcamps or training programs, is Kenzie targeting different job outcomes for its graduates?

n

We did a survey of our students that asked them to name the top five tech companies they desired to work for. None of the Silicon Valley companies made the list other than Salesforce. Indianapolis is the second largest Salesforce office outside of San Francisco. The rest of the companies our students named were companies like DMI and Zylo that people in Silicon Valley don’t hear about but are doing very well in the Midwest. Their friends work there. They’re a fabric of the community. If we really want to create job opportunities for the rest of America, we cannot adopt the Silicon Valley mindset.

n

Kenzie Academy co-Founder and CEO Chok Ooi.

Kenzie Academy co-founder and CEO Chok Ooi.

n

So how do you evaluate technical aptitude and critical thinking in the admissions process? What’s that process look like, and how has it evolved over the last couple of years? What have you learned in order to make that more effective?

n

Prior to founding Kenzie, I started a company nine years ago called AglityIO. The model for AgilityIO was similar to companies like Andela. We were trying to solve the talent crunch in the Bay Area by recruiting and training people with the raw talent in Vietnam. Today, that company works with Google, Uber, NerdWallet, Meetup.com and 150 other tech companies. So Iu2019ve experience in developing processes to identify raw talent in this context.

n

As people are doing the online assessments, we collect data points of how long it takes for them to solve the problem, what their different decision points are and things like that. Then as they get enrolled in Kenzie, we continue to collect attendance data, grades, and then placement data and use that to look at success and failure cases. We constantly refine our assessment.

n

Are you seeing any particular pattern or cluster in the applications youu2019re receiving or the candidates youu2019re accepting in terms of prior field of employment or aspect of their background?

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

The crowded landscape of programs teaching non-technical people to become software developers has been a proving ground for a new model of education financing: income share agreements (ISAs). With an ISA, students avoid paying tuition upfront or taking out private loans, instead paying a percentage of their income for a time after graduation after they’re […]

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Eric Peckham is TechCrunch’s Media Columnist. He focuses on analysis of interactive media, non-interactive media, content creation platforms, communications tools, and education. Separate from TechCrunch, he writes the popular Monetizing Media newsletter.

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Eric Peckham is TechCrunch’s Media Columnist. He focuses on analysis of interactive media, non-interactive media, content creation platforms, communications tools, and education. Separate from TechCrunch, he writes the popular Monetizing Media newsletter.

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Photos: Kenzie Academy

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Microsoft is trying to become more innovative”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Microsoft Research is a globally distributed playground for people interested in solving fundamental science problems.

n

These projects often focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, and since Microsoft is on a mission to infuse all of its products with more AI smarts, it’s no surprise that it’s also seeking ways to integrate Microsoft Research’s innovations into the rest of the company.

n

Across the board, the company is trying to find ways to become more innovative, especially around its work in AI, and it’s putting processes in place to do so. Microsoft is unusually open about this process, too, and actually made it somewhat of a focus this week at Ignite, a yearly conference that typically focuses more on technical IT management topics.

n

At Ignite,u00a0Microsoft will for the first time present these projects externally at a dedicated keynote. That feels similar to what Google used to do with its ATAP group at its I/O events and is obviously meant to showcase the cutting-edge innovation that happens inside of Microsoft (outside of making Excel smarter).

n

To manage its AI innovation efforts, Microsoft created the Microsoft AI group led by VP Mitra Azizirad, who’s tasked with establishing thought leadership in this space internally and externally, and helping the company itself innovate faster (Microsoft’s AI for Good projects also fall under this group’s purview). I sat down with Azizirad to get a better idea of what her team is doing and how she approaches getting companies to innovate around AI and bring research projects out of the lab.

n

“We began to put together a narrative for the company of what it really means to be in an AI-driven world and what we look at from a differentiated perspective,” Azizirad said. “What we’ve done in this area is something that has resonated and landed well. And now we’re including AI, but we’re expanding beyond it to other paradigm shifts like human-machine interaction, future of computing and digital responsibility, as more than just a set of principles and practices but an area of innovation in and of itself.”

n

Currently, Microsoft is doing a very good job at talking and thinking about horizon one opportunities, as well as horizon three projects that are still years out, she said. “Horizon two, we need to get better at, and that’s what we’re doing.”

n

It’s worth stressing that Microsoft AI, which launched about two years ago, marks the first time there’s a business, marketing and product management team associated with Microsoft Research, so the team does get a lot of insights into upcoming technologies. Just in the last couple of years, Microsoft has published more than 6,000 research papers on AI, some of which clearly have a future in the company’s products.

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Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

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Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

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Microsoft logo at Ignite 2019

n”},”alt_text”:”Microsoft logo at Ignite 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from China and India can accelerate the green card process”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Securing a green card can feel overwhelming for people in Silicon Valley who were born in India and China. But with the right help and guidance from a skilled immigration attorney, the process can be simpler, smoother and more successful.

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Limits written into existing immigration laws on both the number of green cards issued each year, as well as the number of green cards available based on country of origin, leave some waiting half a century or more for a green card, with people from India and China facing the longest wait times for employment-based green cards.

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In this fiscal year, which ended on October 31, 226,000 family-sponsored green cards and 141,918 employment-based green cards were available. And the per-country cap, which is the maximum number of green cards available to individuals born in a particular country, was 25,754.u00a0

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Although these U.S. laws pose an extra challenge for people born in countries with the highest demand for green cards, if you were born in India or China, there are some things you can do to mitigate this wait.

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Differentiate yourself

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The EB-1 green card is considered the u201cfirst preferenceu201d for those who’ll receive offers for employment-based green cards. It offers three unique and accelerated sub-paths:u00a0

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  • EB-1A green card for individuals of extraordinary abilityu00a0
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  • EB-1B green card for outstanding researchers and professors
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  • EB-1C green card for multinational managers and executives
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The EB-1A green card for extraordinary ability does not require an employer sponsor or even a job offer, which means itu2019s one of the few self-petition green cards. To demonstrate eligibility,u00a0you must be able to show you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics and that you and your work have received national or international acclaim.u00a0

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Individuals who apply for the EB-1A do not need to obtain labor certification (as required of employers). That means the process is simpler and can be much faster than typical employment-based green cards. Also, an individual applicant may have more flexibility to change jobs than if an employer applied on their behalf.

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The EB-1B green card for outstanding researchers and professors requires an employer to sponsor you. Candidates for the EB-1B green card must demonstrate great achievements in their academic field.u00a0

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And finally, the EB-1C green card for multinational managers and executives enables an employer to bring an executive or manager who has been working abroad over to the U.S. to live and work. The EB-1C candidate must have worked outside the U.S. for the employer for at least one year.

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This Cato Institute analysis estimates individuals born in China and India face waiting eight and nine years, respectively, for an EB-1 green card.u00a0Despite the small and growing backlog for EB-1 green cards for individuals born in China and India, it still remains one of the quicker options.
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Invest in a project that creates jobs

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Securing a green card can feel overwhelming for people in Silicon Valley who were born in India and China. But with the right help and guidance from a skilled immigration attorney, the process can be simpler, smoother and more successful.

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21 January 2019, Brandenburg, Jacobsdorf: The speedometer of a car indicates the speed of 120 kilometers per hour. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health” says Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri. To that end, next week Instagram will expand its test of hiding Like counts from everyone but a post’s creator to some users in the United States. But there are major questions about whether the change will hurt influencers.

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Mosseri revealed the plan at the Wired25 conference today, saying Instagram “We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem.”

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Instagram’s CEO explained that “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connect ing with the people they love and things that inspire them.” The intention is tou00a0“reduce anxiety” and “reduce social comparison”.

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Elsewhere during the talk that also featured actor and CEO Tracie Ellis Ross, Mosseri discussed Instagram’s growing interest in shopping, and how it can provide new revenue streams to influencers. He also described Instagram’s three-pronged approach to well-being where it identifies and addresses acute problems such as hate speech, finds positions where it can lead as with fighting bullying, and rethinks fundamentals of how the platform works as with Like count hiding.

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Instagram began testing this in April in Canada and expanded it to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand in July. Facebook started a similar experiment in Australia in September.

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While it seems likely that making Instagram less of a popularity contest might aid the average user, Instagram has to be mindful that it doesn’t significantly decrease creators’ or influencers’ engagement and business success. These content makers are vital to Instagram’s success, since they keep their fan bases coming back day after day, even Ifu00a0 users’ friends are growing stale.

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A new study by HypeAuditor reported by Social Media Today found that influencers across tiers of follower counts almost unanimously saw their Like counts fall in countries where the hidden Like count test was active. Likes fell 3% to 15% in all the countries for influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers.

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Only in Japan, and only for influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 or 100,000 to 1 million followers did the change lead to a boost in Likes — of about 6% in both groups. Meanwhile, influencers saw the biggest loss of Likes in the Brazilian market. Those trends could relate to how users in certain countries might feel more comfortable Liking something if they don’t know who else is too, while in other nations users might rely on more herd mentality to know what to Like.

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If Instagram finds the impact of the test to be too negative on influencers, it may not roll out the change. While Mosseri stated the company wasn’t afraid to hurt its own bottom line, impairing the careers of influencers may not be acceptable unless the positive impacts on well-being are significant enough.

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n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health” says Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri. To that end, next week Instagram will expand its test of hiding Like counts from everyone but a post’s creator to some users in the United States. But there are major questions about whether the […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png”,”twitter”:”joshconstine”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:1603003,”name”:”Josh Constine”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/”,”slug”:”josh-constine”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.JoshConstine.com”,”facebook”:”http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/joshconstine”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine”},”position”:”Editor-At-Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend’s social location-sharing startup codenamed ‘Signal’ that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch’s editors and has concluded. Constine’s fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine’s cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he’s since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents’ estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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Snap, HBO Max partner to launch AR experiences for ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere – TechCrunch

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To celebrate the premiere of HBO’s highly anticipated “Game of Thrones” prequel, “House of the Dragon,” HBO Max is partnering with Snap to give users access to in-app AR experiences. For the show’s premiere on August 21, Snap and HBO Max are releasing a new selfie and worldview Lens, along with Landmarker Lenses, that let you immerse yourself into the show’s fantasy world.

The selfie Lens transforms you into a fire-breathing dragon. In the worldview mode, the Lens leverages sky segmentation technology to unleash flying, fire-breathing dragons above you so you can pretend to be part of the Game of Thrones world. Snap says the Lens will go live in regions around the world, including Australia, Europe, India, the Middle East and Northern Africa, North America and more. The Lens can be accessed via the Lens Carousel in the app.

As for the Landmarker Lenses, Snap and HBO Max have coordinated with Lens creators from around the world to build custom AR experiences in their local markets. The Landmarker Lenses will offer users another way to engage with the show, as they will reveal AR renderings of the show’s dragons over local landmarks all over the globe.

The first Lenses will launch for the premiere in Los Angeles at Venice Beach Grand Canals, in Rio De Janeiro at the Princess Isabel Statue, in London at the Tower Bridge, in Chennai at the Sankagiri Fort, in Mumbai at the CST Station and in Prague at the Charles Bridge. The Lenses will be unlockable via the Lens Carousel when users are near a Landmarker location.

Snap and HBO Max Lens for House of the Dragon

Image Credits: Snap

There will be around 20 new Landmarker Lenses released throughout the season from creators in more than 10 countries. Snap says as new dragons are introduced over the course of the season, Landmarker experiences featuring those dragons will be made available. The Lenses will focus on three key show moments: the series premiere, pivotal mid-season episodes and the season finale.

The launch comes as Snap says more than 250 million users engage with augmented reality every day on average on the app and that Snapchat sees over 6 billion AR Lens plays every day on average. The company also says more than 250,000 Lens Creators have built 2.5 million Lenses through its AR creation tool, Lens Studio. In addition, Snap says over 300 developers have reached more than a billion views on their Lenses that and Lenses built by its community have been viewed more than 5 trillion times.

“House of the Dragon” is set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones. The series will focus on the beginning of the end of House Targaryen, as the infamous Dance of Dragons will take center stage as family members of House Targaryen fight for the Iron Throne.

HBO is going all in with AR experiences for “House of the Dragon,” as the series has its own companion AR app called DracARys. The app rolled out globally on July 25 across iOS and Android devices and lets fans raise their own virtual dragon.

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How W4 plans to monetize the Godot game engine using Red Hat’s open-source playbook – TechCrunch

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A new company from the creators of the Godot game engine is setting out to grab a piece of the $200 billion global video game market — and to do so, it’s taking a cue from commercial open source software giant Red Hat.

Godot, for the uninitiated, is a cross-platform game engine first released under an open source license back in 2014, though its initial development pre-dates that by several years. Today, Godot claims some 1,500 contributors, and is considered one of the world’s top open source projects by various metrics. Godot has been used in high-profile games such as the Sonic Colors: Ultimate remaster, published by Sega last year as the first major mainstream game powered By Godot. But Tesla, too, has apparently used Godot to power some of the more graphically-intensive animations in its mobile app.

Among Godot’s founding creators is Juan Linietsky, who has served as head of development for the Godot project for the past 13 years, and who will now serve as CEO of W4 Games, a new venture that’s setting out to take Godot to the next level.

W4 quietly exited stealth last week, but today the Ireland-headquartered company has divulged more details about its goals to grow Godot and make it accessible for a wider array of commercial use-cases. On top of that, the company told TechCrunch that it has raised $8.5 million in seed funding to make its mission a reality, with backers including OSS Capital; Lux Capital; Sisu Game Ventures; and — somewhat notably — Bob Young, the cofounder and former CEO of Red Hat, an enterprise-focused open-source company that IBM went on to acquire for $34 billion in 2019.

But first… what is a game engine, exactly?

Game plan

Godot editor demo

In simple terms, a game engine serves up the basic building blocks required for developers to create games, and may include anything from renderers for 2D or 3D graphics, to scripting and memory management. It’s basically a software framework that developers can use and reuse without having to redesign the wheel with each new game they create.

“This allows developers to utilize pre-made functionality that is common to most games when creating their own, and only create the parts that make the game unique,” Linietsky explained to TechCrunch.

While many companies, particularly larger game studios, develop their own engines in-house, as games and the associated development processes have become more complex, third-party general purpose game engines have grown in popularity. This includes long-established incumbents such as Unity, developed by tech powerhouse Unity Software, which is currently in the process of merging with IronSource.

One reason why a studio might use a third-party game engine is to cut down on in-house development costs, but a trade-off here is that it then has to work with a gargantuan code-base which it has limited control over. And that is why Godot has gained some fans through the years — as an open-source project, it gives developers an oven-baked game engine that they can tweak and fine-tune to their own needs, with improvements pushed back to the development community for everyone to benefit from.

“The result is reduced development costs and more freedom to innovate,” Linietsky said. “Godot brings to the game industry the same benefits that enterprise software has been enjoying from it [open source software] for decades.”

The open source factor

Red Hat Inc. signage is displayed outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Anyone who has even remotely paid attention to the technology sphere over the past decade or so will have noticed that open source is now big business. The likes of Elastic and Cockroach Labs have built billion-dollar businesses off the back of open source projects, while Aiven recently hit double-unicorn status for a business that helps enterprises make the most of open source technologies in cloud environments.

But Red Hat, arguably, remains one of the biggest success stories from the open source world, selling enterprises premium support and services for some of the world’s biggest community-driven projects, from Linux to Kubernetes.

“Companies like Red Hat have proven that with the right commercial offerings on top, the appeal of using open source in enterprise environments is enormous,” Linietsky said. “W4 intends to do this very same thing for the game industry.”

It’s an interesting parallel, for sure, and one that seems pretty obvious when presented with such a comparison. Linux’s open source credentials were what led it to become the leading operating system for web servers, while Android’s mobile market share dominance can substantively be attributed to its Linux kernel base. Elsewhere, other open source projects such as Kubernetes are powering enterprise adoption of microservices and container technologies.

In truth, Godot is nowhere near having the kind of impact in gaming that Linux has had in the enterprise, but it’s still early days — and this is exactly where W4 could make a difference.

“We expect Godot to take the same route in the game industry as other open source software has taken in the enterprise, which is to slowly become the de facto standard,” Linietsky continued. “It is very difficult for companies that create proprietary software to compete with the massive talent pool that popular open source projects have, and unappealing for software users to concede the freedom to use software as they please to a third-party entity.”

On top of that, having one of Red Hat’s original founders on board as an investor can only be construed as a major coup for a startup that is just eight months old.

“Bob is an incredible human being who helped create a whole new type of business where nobody expected it was possible,” Linietsky continued. “He identified the opportunity for Godot and W4 as very similar to Linux and Red Hat two decades ago, and has been very kind to share his wisdom with us, as well as becoming an investor in our company.”

Support and services

Concept illustration depicting technical support

Concept illustration depicting technical support

W4’s core target market will be broad — it’s gunning for independent developers and small studios, as well as medium and large gaming companies. The problem that it’s looking to solve, ultimately, is that while Godot is popular with hobbyists and indie developers, companies are hesitant to use the engine on commercial projects due to its inherent limitations — currently, there is no easy way to garner technical support, discuss the product’s development roadmap, or access any other kind of value-added service.

But perhaps more importantly, while Godot is touted as a cross-platform game engine spanning the web, mobile, and desktop, it has hitherto lacked direct support for games consoles. The reason for this is that as an open source project served under a permissive MIT license, Godot can’t provide support for consoles because it wouldn’t be allowed to publish the code required to interact with the proprietary hardware — game studios that develop for consoles have to sign strict non-disclosure agreements. Plus, console makers will only work with registered legal entities, which Godot is not.

Put simply, Godot can’t be a community-driven open source project and support consoles at the same time. But there are ways around this, which is why W4 hopes to make money by offering a porting service to help developers convert their existing games into a console-compatible format. 

“W4 will offer console ports to developers under very accessible terms,” Linietsky said. “Independent developers won’t need to pay upfront to publish, while for larger companies there will be commercial packages that include support.”

Elsewhere, W4 is developing a range of products and services which it’s currently keeping under wraps, with Linietsky noting that they will most likely be announced at Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco next March.

“The aim of W4 is to help developers overcome any problem developers may stumble upon while trying to use Godot commercially,” Linietsky added.

It’s worth noting that there are a handful of commercial companies out there already, such as Lone Wolf Technology and Pineapple Works, that help developers get the most out of Godot — including console porting. But Linietsky was keen to highlight one core difference between W4 and these incumbents: it’s expertise.

“The main distinctive feature of W4 is that it has been created by the Godot project leadership, which are the individuals with the most understanding and insight about Godot and its community,” he said.

Distributed

Of Godot’s 1,500 or so contributors, 10 are more-or-less permanent hires, paid via community donations. Similarly, W4’s current team of 12 largely consists of long-standing Godot contributors, spread across eight different countries in the Americas and Europe. This is much like how other companies built on an open source foundation started out, including Red Hat and WordPress.com’s parent Automattic, which was one of the most well-known “distributed” company out there, long before the remote-work revolution came along in 2020.

Indeed, distributed work is one of the core defining characteristics of open source software development. By way of example, Linietsky is based in Spain, while cofounder and COO Rémi Verschelde works from Denmark. The other two founders, CTO Fabio Alessandrelli and CMO Nicola Farronato, operate from different locations in Italy.

But every legal entity needs to choose somewhere as its corporate home. And similar to many tech companies, W4 elected Dublin, Ireland as its official HQ — though this presence is really just on paper, only.

“We are based in Ireland because two of the cofounders have previously established there, have relatives, and are very familiar with the Irish ecosystem,” Linietsky said.

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After CNN+ shutdown, Discovery+ adds a CNN Originals hub to its U.S. service – TechCrunch

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Today, Discovery+ subscribers in the U.S. get access to over 800 episodes of CNN content through a dedicated CNN Originals hub. The network’s three brands — CNN Original Series, CNN Films, and HLN Original Series — will provide viewers with a selection of titles such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” “Real Life Nightmare,” “Death Row Stories,” “Race for the Vaccine,” among others.

Subscribers can access the hub within the Discovery+ app or on the web. Supported devices include Amazon Fire devices, iOS devices, Apple TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, VIZIO Smart TVs, Roku devices, Android TVs, and other Android devices.

According to the company, the hub will get an initial offering of CNN Originals for viewers to stream, with select CNN Original Series and HLN Original Series added later. More titles will be announced in a few months.

The announcement was initially made earlier this month, ahead of Warner Bros Discovery’s second-quarter results. The news also comes five months after the CNN+ streaming service was quickly shut down, most likely disappointing the 10,000 or more people streaming the service for the one month it had been in existence.

Now CNN fans can stream the content on Discovery+ at $4.99 per month, along with a variety of other documentaries, home improvement shows, true crime, lifestyle, and other content from networks Investigation Discovery, HGTV, TLC, and Food Network.

CNN+ would only have CNN content at $5.99, so having the hub on Discovery+ is a much better value.

“True crime, food, and travel programming are among the most-watched genres for discovery+ viewers, so these titles from CNN will fit right in with our best-in-class collection of unscripted content,” JB Perrette, President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming, said in a statement at the beginning of August.

Other titles on the new hub include “1968: The Year That Changed America,” “American Dynasties: The Kennedys,” “American Style,” “The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power,” “Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta,” “Christiane Amanpour: Sex and Love Around the World,” “Crimes of the Century,” “Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies” (Seasons 1-3), “Diana,” “First Ladies,” “Nomad with Carlton McCoy,” “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe,” “The People v. The Klan,” “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (Seasons 1-6), “Beyond Reasonable Doubt,” “The Dead Wives Club,” “The Killer Truth,” and lots more.

There will also be select titles from the CNN Special Reports collection like “Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump’s Insurrection.”

With CNN+ gone, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to integrate CNN Originals into its streaming strategy both with this new dedicated hub on Discovery+ as well as by adding titles to HBO Max. The CNN Original “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” is premiering on HBO Max this fall.

On September 30, HBO Max will also gain content from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network, such as the titles “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home,” “The Lost Kitchen,” and “Restoration Road with Clint Harp.”

In the second quarter of 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery reported that the total number of direct-to-consumer subscribers across HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery+ was 92.1 million.

 

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