Who Cares What I Think (WCWIT) #2 : Launch Ticker Highlights…

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jason Calacanis’, @jason, just plain excellent record of producing some seriously decent, useful content continues in his tech news feed, “Launch Ticker” (sign up for that, this is one of the only newsletters I’ve ever actually read, let alone find incredibly useful, distilled and engrossing enough to quickly shape my macro tech thoughts — daily).

Here are some highlights from today’s edition, in my very accurately-humble opinion.

*numbers in this article connote no meaning, beyond helping you reference which opinion specifically annoyed you in the comments.

1. Bridging the divide

Language learning platform VIPKID raises $100M C from Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia and others; the China-based firm connects children aged five to 12 with native English speakers online; raised $125M to date — Link

This platform aims to accomplish something truly great in eroding the barriers of entry, globally, to the world’s marketplace of ideas, bringing access of information and opportunity via the language platform they’ve built. The next wave of international entrepreneurs can only be expected to bring some devastating innovation to international attention, with one less major barrier to entree here.

Let’s hope the vetting and communication processes are extremely secure, in the interest of participating children’s safety.

2. Unprecedented Precision for a Desktop 3D Printer

3D printing firm Formlabs raises $35M B led by Foundry Group with participation from DFJ Growth, Autodesk and others; comes as Formlabs and Autodesk announce a cross-marketing partnership, though the full details remain unclear; raised $55M to date — Link

This $3–4k desktop printer can pretty much make your desktop-sized dreams manifest. I’ve got an idea that might be a good enough excuse to buy one of these, but, in either case, I’d be interested to see where Formlabs is going with this entity.

They may very well go to advanced-user-facing sales, but this also may just have been the proving prototype for licensed processes & recipes, or the basis for a scalable printing franchise a la kinkos. Those terrible ideas aside — always exciting to see break throughs in 3D printing.

3. Yeah…

Wearables firm Basis recalls all variants of its Peak fitness watch; the Intel-owned company issued a warning that the devices are susceptible to overheating, with the potential to cause burns and blisters — Link

I barely remember these, but they definitely had the feeling of being a product of bandwagoning and no clear direction or focus on delivering any kind of significant or unique value to potential users. So long and thanks for all the burns.

4. Competition First, Safety a Close Second

Running and cycling app Strava (iOS, Android) updates: adds Beacon for Strava Premium users ($60 per year); the safety feature lets users nominate three people, allowing them to keep track of their position — Link

It’s actually great to see some sensible steps towards leveraging tech and social networks in this way. We’re ever-scrambling to devise new tech, new user experiences, design and incentives — to trick ourselves into making healthy choices, but we often relegate or ignore basic safety.

Distracting UX, or simply wandering out into that terra incognito of the “outernet”, like, IRL, is fantastic but does come along with some physical vulnerabilities.

Would love to see such integrations for kids (and kids at heart) playing Pokemon Go — to stay safe — and stay in touch.

5. Is this real life?

Tesla will unveil an electric minibus and semi truck in 2017, according to Elon Musk; the comments follow an earnings report, where Musk also suggested the firm could focus on a compact SUV following the roll out of the Model 3 — Link
Inside Electric Vehicles is the leading source of news and information about the EV industry. Subscribe here for free.

An electric semi? I love it.

6. Alexander wept, for he didn’t feel like conquering Amazon anymore.

Recode’s Jason Del Rey postulates the rumored $3B Wal-Mart takeover of Jet, suggesting such a deal could be logical for both sides; the report considers the perceived benefits of Jet operating at scale, while also noting the possibilities of it’s pricing technology being applied to Wal-Mart’s e-commerce business — Link

Wasn’t Marc Lore, founder of Jet & former founder of diapers.com, making Jet’s whole mission to take Amazon out as revenge for abandoning the quality behind the brand of Diapers.com, once Bezos had acquired it?

Maybe Wal-Mart has a shot at competing with Amazon, on the basics at least, and Lore’s not so concerned with manning that helm, just with enabling that future.

Either way, congrats on the audacity to have succeeded, again, so quickly.

7. Capulet up in Montegue’s House

Apple Music for Android comes out of beta; the update adds an equalizer, along with playback, and stability improvements — Link

So… I mean, it’s awesome news for consumers, I’m just surprised that Apple Music is playing nice with the Android platform. This may be a new opportunity to find relevance in the far better, largely due to social leverage reasons, experiences of Spotify and Pandora.

8. Can… Can someone explain how this is different from Snapchat?

Stitch It launches on Android (previously available on iOS); lets users combine, edit and annotate screenshots — Link

Seriously though, this is half of what I use Snapchat for, which offers a ton of other in app communication tools so… I really want someone to explain to me why I should download @thestitchitapp and stop using Snapchat to accomplish this.

Again, definitely, definitely subscribe to J-Cal’s Launch Ticker for more information, less uninformed exposition, updated daily @ https://www.launchticker.com/

Tweet me at @ElizabethHunker to yell praise / threats / dadaist riffs at me on this post, or life in general.