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Yesterday — August 24th 2019Your RSS feeds

Graphcore founder Nigel Toon to talk about AI chips at Disrupt Berlin

By Romain Dillet

It’s easy to forget that Silicon Valley starts with ‘silicon’, and that there would be no technology innovation without innovation at the silicon level. And Graphcore is well aware of that as the Bristol-based company is designing its own dedicated AI chipset. That’s why I’m glad to announce that Graphcore co-founder and CEO Nigel Toon is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Graphcore has managed to attract a ton of attention from day one. Originally founded in 2016, the startup has raised more than $300 million from top investors, such as Sequoia Capital, BMW, Microsoft, Samsung and a ton of others.

The company last raised a $200 million Series D round led by Atomico and Sofina. It values the company at $1.7 billion.

So what is the magic product behind Graphcore? The startup’s flagship product is an Intelligence Processor Unit (IPU) PCIe processor card combined with a software framework. Essentially, it lets you build your own AI applications more efficiently. Those dedidacted AI chips should perform better than repurposed GPUs.

Tobias Jahn, principal at BMW i Ventures, summed it up pretty well in a statement for the Series D round: “The versatility of Graphcore’s IPU – which supports multiple machine learning techniques with high efficiency – is well-suited for a wide variety of applications from intelligent voice assistants to self-driving vehicles. With the flexibility to use the same processor in both a data centre and a vehicle, Graphcore’s IPU also presents the possibility of reduction in development times and complexity.”

It seems crazy that a tiny startup is competing directly with giant chip companies, such as Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, etc. But this isn’t Nigel Toon’s first company. He has been the CEO of Picochip and Icera, two companies that have been sold to Intel and Nvidia.

Graphcore believes that there’s an underserved niche with a lot of potential. And it feels like there’s a race to create the most efficient AI chip. So I can’t wait to hear Nigel Toon’s take on that race.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Graphcore (graphcore.ai) is a new silicon and systems company based in Bristol, UK and Palo Alto, USA that has developed a new type of processor, the Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), to accelerate machine learning and AI applications. Since its founding in 2016, Nigel has secured over $300m in funding and support for the company from some of the world’s leading venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital, Foundation Capital and Atomico, from major corporations including BMW, Bosch, Dell, Microsoft and Samsung and from eminent Artificial Intelligence innovators.

Nigel has a background as a technology business leader, entrepreneur and engineer having been CEO at two successful VC-backed processor companies XMOS and Picochip (sold to Nasdaq:MSPD, now Intel), a founder at Icera (sold to Nasdaq: NVDA) and VP/GM at Altera (Nasdaq: ALTR, sold to Intel for $17Bn) where he spent over 13 years and was responsible for establishing and building the European business unit that he grew to over $400m in annual revenues. Nigel was a non-executive director at Imagination Technologies PLC until itsacquisition in 2017 and is the author on 3 patents.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

Bag Week 2019: A whole bunch of fannies

By Veanne Cao

It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to…

The fanny pack. Or hip pack, waist bag, belt bag, sling, crossbody and sometimes bum bag, because where you’re from, a fanny means lady parts. Whatever it’s called, I’ve been searching for an all-around go-to alternative for purses. (I don’t care much for them since they don’t match my tee-shirt and holes-in-jeans aesthetic.)

For the past two months, I’ve been trying out fanny packs (and trying to shove various objects into them) for different daily routines.

fannypacks_various_objects

I haven’t found one that gets the job done for everything, but here are a variety of great fannies.

Herschel Eighteen Hip Pack – $49.99

[gallery ids="1869526,1869527,1869528,1869529,1869530,1869531,1869532,1869533,1869534,1869535"]

 

I own three Herschel backpacks, all of which have served me well for the past two years, so I was pretty stoked about this one. The only problem though, with my 5’4” wimpy frame, I should have opted for a smaller bag in their hip pack line. Although it’s smaller than Peak Design’s Everyday Sling, the side support makes it uncomfortable to wear across the chest and only works as a back sling or fanny pack.

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Huge main compartment large enough to hold a water bottle, book, camera and knick-knacks
  • Comfortable air mesh padding on the back

Cons:

  • Opening for the two front storage pockets is too small, which makes it cumbersome to put things in, pull things out
  • Missing inner pocket inside the main compartment for keys and wallet so there’s a lot of digging involved

Dimensions: 7″ (H) x 11″ (W) x 3″ (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Moment Fanny Sling – $69.99

[gallery ids="1869537,1869538,1869539,1869540,1869541,1869543,1869544,1869545,1869546,1869547"]

The fine people at Moment, known for their mobile phone lenses, recently launched a series of bags and cases. Although this bag was designed with the intention of storing their lenses and gear, it has become my boyfriend’s everyday bag since I received it back in June. It withstood a grimy Budapest rainstorm, a grimy music festival and a grimy New York summer.

Pros:

  • Pockets for days (including one on the back that fits your wallet or phone)
  • Weatherproof shell and zippers
  • Comfortable for everyday use
  • Flexible, expandable — can be worn across the chest, as a traditional fanny pack or sling

Con:

  • The Velcro loop that keeps excess straps in place wore down after a month and tends to slip off

Dimensions: 5.1″ (H) x 8.25” (W) x 3.75” (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L – $99.95

[gallery ids="1869555,1869557,1869558,1869559,1869560,1869561,1869562,1869563,1869564,1869565"]

This was my go-to photography bag for the summer. It’s been perfect for organizing all the essentials: DSLR, two lenses, SD cards, notebook (or iPad), batteries, etc. I love everything about this bag. That’s it. That’s the review. There’s nothing else I can say.

Pros:

  • Tons of pockets, dividers of sorts and padding for all of your accessories
  • Tuck-away system to hide excess straps and front zipper
  • Quick adjusting straps for when you need to grab your camera or to switch configurations
  • Weatherproof nylon canvas shell

Cons:

  • So far, nothing

Dimensions: 7.48″ (H) x 12.2″ (W) x 4.33″ (D)

More details and specs here.

 

State Bags Crosby Fanny Pack – $150

[gallery ids="1869566,1869567,1869568,1869569,1869570,1869572,1869573"]

From the smooth leather body to the gold foil embossed logo, this is the classiest one of the bunch, and has been my date night go-to for the past month. It’s casual enough to accessorize with jeans and tee-shirt, but stylish enough to make it look like you put in the effort.

The best part, though, is that there are good people behind the products. For every bag you purchase, they donate fully packed backpacks to kids throughout America.

Pros:

  • Mesh inside pocket to separate smaller items
  • Well-made and designed
  • Slip pocket on the back for quick access to iPhone X

Cons:

  • The straps started to pill a little after a month of use

Dimensions: 5.00″ (H) x 7.09″ (W) x 1.97″ (D)

More details and specs here.

Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack – $29.00

[gallery ids="1869548,1869549,1869550,1869552,1869553,1869554"]

This is the fun-sized candy bar of fanny packs. It’s adorable, has an 80s throwback colorblock design and folds into its own pocket when not in use. It’s quite small and only holds the essentials (wallet, phones, keys, and in my case, an inhaler), but it’s ideal for running errands.

Pros:

  • Sturdy and small
  • Mesh back padding for comfort and breathability
  • Soft adjustable strap

Cons:

  • Nylon construction — it sometimes feels like a toiletries bag

Dimensions: 7” (W) x 4.5”(H) x 2” (D)

More details and specs here.

 

Timbuk2 Slacker Chest Pack – $49.00

[gallery ids="1869574,1869575,1869576,1869577,1869578,1869579"]

This is the most basic, yet comfortable fanny pack. It was my everyday dog-walking bag. It held a water bottle, doggie treats and a collapsible dog bowl, while my wallet was tucked into the inside mesh pocket. There’s even an in-pocket strap to hold your keys.

Pros:

  • Air mesh back panel for breathability and comfort
  • Uncomplicated design

Cons:

  • The zipper doesn’t open the entire width of the bag
  • Straps won’t adjust small enough for skinny people with narrow hips — it’ll fall right off your booty

Dimensions: 3.94” (H) x 11.2” (W) x 2.48” (D)

More details and specs here.

Generic fanny pack – free

[gallery ids="1869523,1869524,1869525"]

This is not a great fanny pack. I’m including this bottom of the barrel bag I received as Google schwag during CES earlier this year as a control. It’s made in China with visible threads, sloppily sewn together. Ugly, yet surprisingly comfortable. It gets the job done and you don’t have to worry about losing it. You can get a similar one on Amazon for eight bucks.

Waxed canvas messengers from Trakke, Waterfield and Mission Workshop are spacious and rugged

By Devin Coldewey

It’s nearing the end of Bag Week 2019, where we highlight the best receptacles for the tech we cover daily, and we’ve got a few more winners for you. Earlier this week I collected a few excellent waxed canvas laptop bags, a sequel to last year’s round-up, but these messenger-style bags stood out. So I’ve collected them here separately.

As I’ve written before, waxed canvas is a wonderful material. The natural fibers infused with wax provide water resistance, structure, protection and a great look that only gets better with time as you use it. It’s my favorite material and it should be yours too. Only trouble is, it can be expensive. But keep in mind that these bags are the kind that you take with you for a decade or two.

Waterfield Vitesse – $159

waxed messengers 01

Pros:

  • Extremely handsome material and color
  • Great closure mechanism
  • Interior laptop sleeve is lovely

Cons:

  • Permanently attached nylon straps
  • Exterior pocket style not for everyone
  • Prominent badge

Store link

Waterfield’s canvas material was my favorite, with the possible exception, accounting for taste, of the heavy-duty Saddleback bag. While the latter is raw and rugged, this one is more refined and flexible. The canvas is much softer and more pliable than the other bags, but still thick and protective. It isn’t very stiff, though.

The Vitesse is a simple, useful bag. It has plenty of space inside for a day out or even an overnight if you’re careful. There are three simple pockets on the inside for stowing smaller items, and a large laptop compartment that closes with a Velcro strap.

Waterfield recommends a sleeve for your laptop, and I support that, especially considering how nice their sleeves are. The padded waxed canvas sleeve that they sent along has a leather base and magnetic closure that made me feel quite confident in throwing the bag around. I also used it in other bags, like the Joshu+Vela one, which lacked their own padding. There are of course cheaper and thinner sleeves than this, but I felt this one deserved a shout-out.

[gallery ids="1873239,1873229,1873237,1873238,1873236,1873235,1873234,1873233,1873232,1873231"]

On the outside, under the flap, is a single large pocket space that can be accessed through zippers on either side of the bag. These are weather-sealed, as well, so if they’re exposed a bit they won’t leak. There’s a leather handle up top that feels well balanced and won’t get in your way. On the front of the flap is a (to me) over-prominent leather logo badge. Maybe I’m over-sensitive to this kind of thing.

The closure method is unique: studs that fit into holes in leather straps attached to the flap. I thought it was weird at first but it’s grown on me: it’s easy to undo in a hurry, and not hard to attach even with one hand.

My main issue is the strap. For a messenger bag the strap is really important, and the truth is Waterfield kind of blew it here. The Vitesse basically just has a plain nylon strap, sewn on at an angle to the corners of the bag. Unlike many laptop bags, the straps can’t swivel, so they’ll get twisted. And unlike the other messengers here, there’s no big obvious pad or quick-adjust capability.

I’m a little sad I can’t recommend the Vitesse more, given its strengths, but this strap really is hard to get over.

Trakke Wee Lug (Mk2) – £225 (around $270)

waxed messengers 12

Pros:

  • Refined, well thought-out design and components
  • Comfortable strap setup
  • Low-key waxing and color

Cons:

  • Closure can take some getting used to
  • Switching strap side could be easier
  • Low-key waxing and color

Store link

This Scottish maker of waxed canvas items has a long history over there, and sources its cloth from one of the original purveyors of waxed canvas in the world. We’re talking 19th century here.

But the design and in fact the cloth itself are distinctly modern. A “dry wax” finish gives the Wee Lug very little of a waxy feel, but it’s definitely in there, you can tell. It’ll just take longer to develop the kind of wear marks you get in a hurry on the more wax-forward bags like the Vitesse above. It’s also a lighter, smoother color in person, compared with the caramel Rummy and more textured Vitesse.

The truth is this finish isn’t for everyone, in that if you really want that old-fashioned waxed look, this isn’t it. But keep in mind that you can (and should) wax or rewax the material on this kind of bag, and you’re free to do so.

Whether the material is to your liking or not, the design is excellent. The exterior has two zip-access side pockets a bit like the Vitesse, but larger and a bit easier to access. The interior has a zipping padded laptop area, smaller zipped pocket, two simple side pockets and a large general-use space. It’s also a bright, citrusy not-quite-safety orange that complements the tan exterior well.

[gallery ids="1873245,1873247,1873246,1873244,1873243,1873242,1873240,1873241"]

The zippers all have loops, a more practical alternative to ordinary pulls and, in my opinion, more attractive than leather thongs, which seem to me like they’re just a way to use up scraps. There’s a carry handle near the top of the back that feels very strong and despite sticking out a bit hasn’t bothered me while using the bag.

Closure is achieved by slipping a metal clip below through a gap in another metal clip above; it takes a little bit to get used to, but ultimately it’s both simple and robust, and very unlikely to wear out.

The shoulder strap is thick black canvas, with a generous (20-inch) shoulder pad. In the middle is a Cobra buckle for quick donning and removing. The Wee Lug is definitely intended to be worn high across the back, as the padded portion of the strap goes all the way to the edge of the bag. I should say the D-rings and hardware other than the buckle are the weakest parts of the whole bag — just ordinary plastic.

Those straps can be removed and reattached on the opposite sides so it goes from a right- to left-shouldered bag, but this process is a bit cumbersome. If it were too easy it might happen on accident, but slipping the thick canvas strap through the gap in its clip takes a lot of strength — something you might not have when you’re tired from riding and want to switch shoulders.

If I had to recommend one bag out of these three, I think the Trakke would be it.

Mission Workshop Monty – $255

 

waxed messengers 19

Pros:

  • Nice marky waxed finish
  • Truly waterproof
  • Very spacious

Cons:

  • Feels a little overengineered
  • No padded laptop space
  • No handle and strap again could be easier to switch

Store link

Mission Workshop puts together bags of obviously high quality, but they tend to have an aspect of cleverness to them that I don’t always find warranted. In the case of the Monty (and its big siblings the Rummy and Shed) they have a great basic setup that feels like there’s just a bit too much going on.

What they get right is the materials and feeling of ruggedness. If I was going into seriously inclement weather, the Monty is the bag I’d take, no question. Waxed canvas is naturally water resistant and it’ll keep your gear safe from spray or limited rain, but torrential downpour or immersion breaks the spell. If you’re going to be riding in the rain regularly and for long periods of time, you need a synthetic, waterproof layer if you don’t want anything getting damp.

That’s what’s inside the Monty: a strong tarp layer lining every pocket and space that pretty much guarantees your gear stays dry. The exterior is a lovely caramel-colored waxed canvas that was extremely eager to pick up marks and impressions (and, as is often the case with wet finishes, dirt and fuzz — Filson’s do this too).

[gallery ids="1873252,1873256,1873255,1873254,1873253,1873251,1873250,1873249,1873248"]

The other thing they get right is the amount of structured and unstructured space. The Monty has a very large main compartment in the back, big enough it’s difficult to photograph (I tried… for some reason this thing is not photogenic, though it looks good in real life). Then there’s a zippered area with two sub-compartments in the front, and two open pockets that close with a single flap in front of that. There’s no shortage of places to put your things, but you’re never at a loss where something should go.

I personally think the front pocket closure is a little much, since you can hardly reach inside them without removing the main flap and undoing this huge Velcro piece, but better too secure than not secure enough. And I would have liked a bit of padding around the larger zip pocket, or a padded sub-area where a laptop could go.

But the main issue I have with the Monty is that it tries to accommodate two styles when really there’s only one. You can close the bag in two ways: by folding the flap over and securing it with the company’s excellent Arkiv closures, or by rolling it down and Velcroing it shut with a different flap.

Rolltop stuff is in MW’s DNA, but it simply doesn’t fit here. If you roll it up, the straps have nothing to do but hang onto the front of the pockets. Meanwhile if you fold it over, you have unused Velcro all over the outside, and a flap on the inside doing nothing. You can’t roll it a little and then fold it over, since it would hide the closure rails.

I feel like MW could have made a strong decision one way or the other here and made the bag either rolltop or flap closure, but instead they did both, and whichever you choose, you still sort of run into the other. And the thing is it doesn’t matter which you choose, since your stuff will be protected fine either way and neither opens up or obscures any extra space.

So the Monty, despite being a very practical bag in some ways, feels like a weird hybrid in others. Whereas the Wee Lug knows exactly what it is and pursues that design exclusively.


These are all three great bags, but they serve very different purposes. The Waterfield is a great all-round casual bag, but the strap really makes it impractical for cycling or long wear. The Trakke is much more suited for athletic activities and has more room and organization, making it something of a perfect weekender or day bag. And the MW is sort of a prepper bag, ready for anything and a bit off-kilter.

If I had to buy a single one of these right now, I’d go with the Trakke — the attention to detail appeals to me. If, on the other hand, I knew I’d be facing lots of rain or the possibility of dropping my bag in the surf, I’d go MW. And if Waterfield gets its strap game together I’d find their bag easy to recommend as a flexible, unfussy hybrid. You can’t go wrong with any of them.

Samsung’s Note 10 is available today, starting at $949

By Brian Heater

Samsung’s settled into a nice little twice-yearly schedule for releasing flagships. That’s allowed the company double the opportunity to introduce some nice upgrades to their high-end Android handsets. Nearly six months after the release of the S10, the company just dropped the new Note line. Here’s a whole bunch of words I wrote about the 10+, the larger of the devices, which is helping distinguish the two lines with an utterly gigantic 6.8-inch screen.

Interestingly the Note 10 marks a rare (albeit very slight) step down in screen size over the last generation, to a still-large 6.3-inches. The company says it’s hoping that the smaller device will appeal to first-time Note users and maybe even convince Galaxy S buyers to transfer over to S-Pen Station.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

The smaller size also helps keep the device just under $1,000, at $949. Which is becoming shockingly rarer amongst flagships these days. Even as fewer people are buying phones, they keep getting more expensive. That certainly applies to the $1,100 Note 10+ and the $1,299 Note 10+ 5G (also available now, as a Verizon exclusive).

[gallery ids="1869169,1869168,1869167,1869165,1869164,1869163,1869162,1869160,1869159,1869158,1869157,1869156,1869152,1869154,1869155"]

The TL;DR of last week’s review is that this is a very good phone that gets even better. Nothing particularly revolutionary, but it’s a nice design, great camera and just generally good stuff all the way around. If big and flashy is your thing, Samsung’s got you covered with the new Note.

Nonprofits and NGOs: Exhibit at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019

By Neesha A. Tambe

Nonprofit groups and NGOs are now invited to apply for exhibit space in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt SF on Friday, October 4th.

Founded in 2014, TechCrunch Include leverages our extensive network to support underserved and underrepresented groups in tech. Two years ago, we began to invite nonprofit and NGO groups to exhibit at the conference, as well as provide tickets for the event. This year, TechCrunch will host 10 nonprofits or NGOs at the Moscone Center at Startup Alley inside Disrupt SF.

TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley is the heart of the conference show floor. Filled with early-stage startups, Startup Alley is the prime location to connect with startups, network with investors and engage with more than 100 corporate partners at the show. Participation in the Alley will give nonprofits and NGOs a unique opportunity to engage with the brightest tech talent, entrepreneurs and prominent investors from around the globe. Not to mention hundreds of press in attendance!

Nonprofits and NGOs are eligible if they support an underrepresented or underserved community in tech, have registered 501c3 or an equivalent status for at least three years and did not participate at a TC Disrupt in 2018. Organizations that are selected will be asked to engage with their communities regarding the conference after selection. Preference will be given to local organizations.

Applications are open now til Wednesday September 4th. Groups will be notified of their participation status September 6th. If you have additional questions, please email startupalley@techcrunch.com.

Apply now!

Summer flash sale ends tonight: 2-for-1 Disrupt Berlin 2019 passes

By Leslie Hitchcock

Summer’s fading fast, but our 2-for-1 summer flash sale on Innovator, Founder or Investor passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019 is fading even faster. Today’s the final day you can get 2-for-1 tickets to join us in Berlin for two jam-packed days of startup goodness and opportunity. Why not do it for the lowest price?

Our 2-for-1 summer flash sale ends tonight, August 23 at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Buy your 2-for-1 passes right here.

There are so many reasons to attend Disrupt Berlin on 11-12 December — try these five on for size, buy your passes and get ready to take your startup to the next level.

Learn

We’re building out our roster of amazing speakers, and you’ll learn from some of the top innovators, founders and investors. Efe Cakarel, the founder and CEO of MUBI, is just one prime example. MUBI, a decade-old movie-streaming service, has survived — and thrived — in the shadow of Netflix. We’ll find out how Cakarel pulled it off and hear what comes next.

Compete

Don’t miss you opportunity to launch your early-stage startup on a world stage, live in front of an eager audience of investors, tech leaders and global media outlets. We’re talking Startup Battlefield, of course, our epic pitch competition. If you’re chosen, you’ll vie for bragging rights and $50,000. And it won’t cost you a euro to apply or to participate. Apply to compete in Startup Battlefield today.

Network

What can you do with 3,000 startup fans from more than 50 countries? Network, network, network! Our Startup Alley expo floor is fertile soil and rife with opportunity. And CrunchMatch, our free business-matchmaking tool, makes it easier for you to connect with the people who can help move your business forward.

Exhibit

It’s time to showcase your early-stage startup and there’s no better way to do that than to exhibit in Startup Alley. Plant your company in front of more than 3,000 attendees, including investors and tech journalists. You have two Alley options. Buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package (note: this package does not qualify for the 2-for-1 flash sale) or apply to our TC Top Picks program and you might just win a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, VIP treatment and an interview with a TechCrunch editor on the Showcase Stage.

Save

Our super early-bird pricing can save you up to €600, but when you take advantage of our 2-for-1 summer flash sale, you’ll double your savings on Innovator, Founder or Investor passes. This time-sensitive deal disappears tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Beat the deadline, buy your tickets right now and we’ll see you in Berlin!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Inside the Porsche Taycan’s minimalist, 911-inspired interior

By Kirsten Korosec

Porsche has taken the wraps off of the interior of the all-new, all-electric Porsche Taycan ahead of its world debut September 4. Gone are the buttons and the clutter. This is a minimalist and sleek interior for the modern digital age.

Porsche released Thursday several images of the interior. Earlier this week, TechCrunch was among numerous media outlets that got an up close view of the interior (along with some other things we can’t talk about) and a chance to play around with the infotainment system.

Porsche didn’t just slap a bunch of screens in and call it a day. Here are the inside details and what stood out.

911 design lines

At first glance, the dashboard might give viewers a twinge of deja vu. And they wouldn’t be wrong.

Designers used the dashboard from the 1963 Porsche 911 as inspiration. And that’s evident in the pictures below, which shows a clean and sleek dashboard.

The 911 DNA is evident. But this isn’t some throwback. This is a modern vehicle with its own design story, which includes horizontal digital screens that are sandwiched between the upper and lower dash lines and stretch all the way over to the passenger seat.Taycan Interior 2

The elevated center console stretches down from the horizontal central screen to two air vents that are not the mechanically-operated louvres found most vehicles today. Instead, the direction of the airflow is controlled digitally via an 8.4-inch touch panel that is located just below the central screen. This touch panel houses the climate control system and includes a track pad with haptic feedback. The trackpad can also be used for quick address inputs.

Tucked under the touch panel is a small flat space to place a wallet or phone. Two cups holders and then a storage unit, which is equipped with wireless charging and two USB ports, completes the center console.

Porsche’s design team repeatedly talked to TechCrunch about the emphasis on the driver. And that shows. (The design team worked on the interface alone for 3.5 years.) Although there are plenty of passenger features here as well. From the driver’s seat, everything is in reach and without constantly looking over to the center display. Natural voice integration courtesy of Nuance is activated by a “Hey Porsche” trigger or simply pressing the voice button on the central display or dedicated button on the steering wheel.

The minimalist design continues to the all-digital instrument cluster. This free-standing panel, which houses the instrument cluster, has a slight curve to it. Interestingly, it doesn’t have the standard cowl or lip that is often used to prevent reflection. Instead, Porsche used glass coated with a vapor-deposited, polarizing filter.

Porsche-Taycan-Interior-instrument

The digital instrument cluster is the highest point of the dashboard in the Porsche Taycan.

The Instrument Cluster

Inside the 16.8-inch cluster display, the driver will see three round instruments that display information. Drivers can customize what each of these instruments displays. Drivers can also remove the information for a more streamlined look in “pure mode.”

This pure mode displays only essential information such as speed, navigation or traffic sign recognition (so you know what the speed limit is). Pure mode, which manages to give the interior an even more minimalist look, could be a handy and fun feature for a Taycan owner on track day.

Perhaps one of the most functional features is the map mode. The map replaces the central power meter in this mode. But it really becomes useful when “full map mode” is turned on, which extends the map across the full display. TechCrunch wasn’t allowed to take photos of the interior during its visit to Porsche North America headquarters, so readers will have to imagine it a digital map taking up most of the instrument cluster.

Finally, just to the left and right of the main instrument cluster, drivers will see small, touch-control fields at the edges of the screen for operating the light and chassis functions. One of these buttons is a trigger key, which lets drivers customize what it operates.

All The Screens

The Porsche Taycan has several screens. Oh, so many screens. Beyond the digital instrument cluster is a horizontal 10.9-central display. Directly below this is a tilted screen that houses climate control as well as a digital track pad that gives haptic feedback.

From the central screen and moving to the right, is a display for the passenger. The passenger display cannot be turned on if the driver is the only one in the vehicle, according to Oliver Fritz, director of driver experience at Porsche.

Porsche is experimenting with streaming video on the passenger display. This likely won’t be available when Porsche begins delivery before the end of the year. But could be rolled out in future over-the-air software updates. For now, the company is testing technology that would prevent the driver from being able to view the screen. Fritz emphasized that this idea was still in testing and Porsche won’t roll out streaming video unless it’s sure the driver cannot see the screen.

Dark Mode

Porsche designers have made “dark mode” the default in the instrument cluster and rest of the infotainment system. That can be changed to a white background, Porsche said. TechCrunch doesn’t recommend that though. The dark mode, and the ability to turn off the central 10.9-inch infotainment display and optional passenger one, should let drivers enjoy the road and escape the annoying “blue light” that is emanates from so many vehicles these days.

Interior colors and leather-free options

Porsche will offer a number of color combinations in the interior, including an all-black matte look, which TechCrunch viewed. The company’s design team didn’t reveal the total number of interior color combinations, but they did list a few. There will be four exclusive interior colors for the Taycan, a black-lime beige, blackberry, Atacama beige and Meranti brown. An optional interior accent package will include black matte, dark silver or neodyme, which is like a champagne gold color.

The doors and center consoles can have wood trim, matte carbon, embossed aluminum or fabric.

The company is also offering a leather-free trim interior, which includes the steering wheel. Porsche designer Thorsten Klein was careful not to call it vegan. He told TechCrunch that even synthetic materials can be treated using animal products. Porsche is pushing to source materials that don’t use these processes, but until then Porsche won’t use the vegan term.

Apple Music and more

Earlier this week, Porsche announced it will integrate Apple  Music into the Taycan, the first time the music streaming service has been offered as a standalone app within a vehicle.

But Apple Music is just one of the many features in the infotainment system. The user interface is laid out to always show a home, vehicle and messages button, which will lists notifications coming into the vehicle. The voice feature can also be used so the driver doesn’t need to glance at the screen.

Other buttons on the central screen include navigation, phone, settings, climate, news, calendar, charging information, weather and Homelink, which can be used to open the owner’s garage door.

Herschel’s Retreat brings classical simplicity to the laptop backpack

By Brian Heater

It’s finally Bag Week again! The most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

I’ve been meaning to check out a Herschel bag for a while now, just to see what all the fuss is about. The Vancouver-based company has really exploded on the scene here in New York City over the past few years. The packs seemed to go from virtually non-existent to every backpack over night.

With Bag Week rapidly approaching, I asked Herschel to send along whichever laptop backpack they recommended, and received the Retreat in the mail. I’ll be honest, the bag is a bit of a 180 from my usual. Doing what I do for a living, I’ve adopted a bit of a more is more approach when it comes to backpacks — more pockets, more slots. I’ve got something for all of them.

CMB 7976

The Retreat presents a far more stripped-down approach. There’s the primary compartment with a slightly padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve, and a medium-sized pocket on the outside with no zipper or snap. I appreciate the stripped-down approach — perhaps loosing some of my cables and gadgets could go a ways toward clearing my head. For now, however, it’s a bit too minimalistic for my day to day commuter backpack needs.

CMB 7972

I have, however, found a spot for it in my life as a handy gym bag. There’s not a ton of volume here, but it’s plenty sufficient for gym clothes and a pair of running shoes. It’s solid, too, for those days when you’re feeling liberated enough to leave the house with little more than your laptop. I need to get better than that, and reckon the Retreat could help.

The build is solid. Herschel completely eschews zippers here. Instead, the mountaineering-style pack has a top flap that closes with magnetic snaps at the end of long leather straps. There’s also a drawstring to better close the top compartment. That should keep things in, though I probably wouldn’t recommend getting caught in a downpour with a laptop inside.

CMB 7975

It’s nice to look at as well — the only drawback here being that you’re bound to see a lot of fellow travelers sporting the same model. Or heck, maybe that’s even more motivation to pick one up — you do you. The black and brown (though there are a full 38 color options from which to choose) is offset nicely by the red and white interior lining.

At $80 (and less, depending on where you buy), the price is also right for what amounts to a solid — if simple — bag.

How do you build a secure startup? Find out at TechCrunch Disrupt SF

By Zack Whittaker

Security is everything — more so than ever in startup land. But with the constant pressures to launch and scale, how do you build a secure startup from the ground up without slowing growth?

Whether you’re starting out small or you’re a multinational unicorn, your customers and their data will be your greatest asset. We’re excited to announce three cybersecurity industry experts who know better than anyone how to keep their organizations safe from phishing emails to nation-state attackers — and everything in between.

We’ll be joined by Google’s Heather Adkins, IOActive’s Jennifer Sunshine Steffens and Duo’s Dug Song, who will discuss those startup security questions at TechCrunch Disrupt SF.

Adkins, a 16-year Google veteran, runs Google’s information security shop. As an early employee, Adkins built a global team responsible for maintaining the safety and security of Google’s networks, systems and applications as the company has ballooned in size. Her extensive background in network and systems administration has led her to work to build and secure some of the world’s largest infrastructure.

Steffens, who has spent over a decade at penetration testing and ethical hacking company IOActive, knows all too well how to build a security company. Her team goes into enterprises large and small and finds the weak spots in their security in an effort to fix the flaws before bad actors exploit them. Having worked during the early stages at several successful startups, Steffens brings a world of corporate and security knowledge to the table.

And Song, who co-founded security giant Duo, led one of the most successful exits in Silicon Valley security startup history following the company’s $2.35 billion acquisition by Cisco last year. Song is a leading voice in the security community, with broad experience in developing security solutions for the enterprises.

How do these cybersecurity leaders keep ahead of the bad guys — and the insider threats? Join us on the Extra Crunch stage to find out. Tickets to the show, which runs October 2 to October 4, are available here.

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email extracrunch@techcrunch.com to get your 20% off discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.

Apple reportedly launching new iPhone Pro and iPads with better cameras, 16-inch MacBook Pro and new AirPods

By Darrell Etherington

Apple is getting ready for its usual fall iPhone launch event, which is rumored to be happening September 10, though the event hasn’t been officially confirmed this year. A new report from Bloomberg offers a preview of the lineup of hardware products Apple is looking to debut this year. There are new iPhones, of course, including a new iPhone Pro model that replaces the XS line and adds a third, wider angle rear camera (which has been rumored previously), and a refreshed iPhone XR at the entry level that will also get a second, optical zoom camera.

These new iPhone Pros would pack a lot of other updates besides, though they’ll look visually similar beyond the changed camera module. They’ll offer wireless charging for AirPods with the Qi-enabled wireless charging case, for instance, for a quick top-up when you’re the road, and they’ll also get new matte finishes on some models versus the glossy look common to all iPhone models today. Updated Face ID will offer unlocking at more angles, and they’ll pack “dramatically” better water resistance, as well as improved shatter resistance to shrive drops.

Also new this year, though not necessarily debuting at the same event, will be a new MacBook Pro with a display size somewhere over 16 inches, which Bloomberg reports will still manage to be similar overall in physical footprint to the current 15-inch MacBook Pros, thanks to a new bezel. There are also plans to roll out new AirPods, with a higher price tag but also added water-resistance and noise-canceling features that the current AirPods lack.

On the iPad side, Apple will refresh its iPad Pro this year, with updated versions of the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models that will get spec bumps, plus better cameras, but otherwise remain the same in terms of form factor. The entry-level iPad will also get an update, with a screen size increase from 9.7 inches to 10.2 inches, which could mean that it also slims down its bezel and does away with the dedicated Home button, though Bloomberg doesn’t make mention of how it will actually change to accommodate the larger display size.

Apple Watch will also be updated, with the same case design introduced last year, but with at least new case finishes, which have leaked via the watchOS 6 update as coming in titanium and ceramic.

apple watch titanium ceramci

Other planned updates in the report include details about the iPhone to follow in 2020, which it says will offer a rear-facing 3D camera, as well as 5G network support. The HomePod will also apparently get a sequel next year — a smaller version that will likely be a lot more affordable versus the current $300 speaker.

Compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Lasst die Spiele beginnen, startup founders — let the games begin! In case you haven’t heard, the application window for the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019 is wide open and waiting for you. Don’t miss the chance to launch your early-stage startup on an international stage in front of some of tech’s most influential movers and shakers. Grab this opportunity and apply to compete today.

What’s at stake? How does $50,000 sound? How does intense investor interest and global media exposure sound? Pretty darned good, amirite? Keep in mind that it won’t cost you anything to apply or to participate in the Startup Battlefield. No fees, no equity — no kidding.

All participants benefit from the exposure, and they all become part of the Startup Battlefield alumni community. Since 2007, 857 startups have launched their dreams on the Startup Battlefield stage and gone on to collectively raise $8.9 billion while producing 112 exits. Companies like Vurb, Dropbox, Mint, Yammer and many more. Is your startup the next big name?

Here’s how the world-famous pitch competition works.

The application process is simple, but very competitive. Veteran TechCrunch editors closely review every application looking for high-potential startups. They’ll select approximately 15-20 companies to compete

If your startup makes the cut, you’ll receive free pitch coaching from TechCrunch in the form of six rigorous weeks. The Battlefield team will help you fine-tune your pitch, demo and presentation skills. Come the big day, you’ll be ready to slay.

Startup Battlefield consists of two rounds. Each team has six minutes to pitch to a world-class panel of judges — followed by a six-minute Q&A session. The founders who make it through to the second round will present again to a fresh set of judges.

One remarkable startup will win the day, the Disrupt Cup, serious bragging rights and, oh yes, that $50,000 prize. All teams benefit, and we’re not just saying that to make you feel better. The event takes place in front of a huge audience filled with investors, media and tech icons — and we record and live-stream the whole shooting match around the world.

Participating in the Startup Battlefield can change the trajectory of your business. You’ll get to exhibit in Startup Alley for the entire show. Imagine starting conversations with potential investors or partners with, “We competed in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield.” You’ll have their attention.

The Startup Battlefield takes place at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to debut your early-stage startup to the world and take it to new heights. Apply to Startup Battlefield today. Lasst die Spiele beginnen!

Pro Tip: You can use the same application to apply for the TC Top Picks program. If you make the cut, you’ll receive a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, VIP treatment and lots of media and investor exposure.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Peak Design’s Travel Duffel 35L is as simple or as powerful as you need it to be

By Darrell Etherington

A good, solid duffel bag is a mainstay for many travelers — especially those who like packing up a car for a weekend away, or frequent flyers who disdain the thought of checking a bag. Peak Design introduced its own take on the duffel bag this year, with a couple of different twists on the concept. The Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L is the most fundamental of the company’s options, and it delivers a lot of packing space and support for Peak’s packing tools if you want to get real serious about space optimization.

I’m an unabashed fan of Peak Design’s Everyday camera bags, its capture clips and basically its entire ecosystem. This is a company that you can tell things deeply about the problems it’s aiming to solve for its customers — because they’re the problems shared by the company’s founders themselves. The Travel Duffel is actually probably a bit more mainstream and less specialized than most of their offerings, but that only makes it more appealing, not less.

Peak Travel Duffel 35 2

You’ll find the same weatherproof nylon coating in this bag that Peak uses in its other packs, and it’s a very durable material that also looks great both up close and at a distance. If there’s a complaint here, it’s that the black color I prefer tends to pretty easily pick up dust, but it also wipes or washes off just as easily. The heavy-duty nylon canvas shell should also stand up to the elements well, and the zipper is the especially weather sealed kind, plus there’s a waterproof bottom liner in case you’re less than careful about where you drop your pack while en route.

Peak Travel Duffel 35 3

Peak Travel Duffel 35 4

The Duffel includes both hand straps and a longer padded shoulder strap, and the unique connector hardware system means you can reposition the straps in a number of ways to suit your carrying preferences. The hand straps double as shoulder straps for wearing it like a backpack and though this is a bit tight for my larger frame, it’s still a way to quickly alleviate shoulder or hand strain for longer treks with the bag in tow. The connectors here are also super smart — there are no moving parts, they just snap on and off the sewn-in loops placed around the bag — which means added durability and ease of use.

[gallery ids="1872070,1872069,1872068"]

Plenty of pockets inside and out give you lots of divided storage options, and there’s also a security loop feature on the main zipper to make it much harder for someone to quickly yank the bag open and grab what’s inside if they’re targeting a quick theft opportunity. A dedicated ID card holder is a nice touch that tells you exactly who this is ideal for, too.

As I alluded to above, there’s also support for the rest of Peak’s packing tools. I’ve got their small camera cube in the bag width-wise in the photo below, and it should be able to fit up to three of these in this orientation. Peak also offers packing cubes, dop kits and more, and you can use the slide hooks provided with those with internal elastic attachment points if you want to ensure things won’t shift around. But the best part about this bag is that it has everything you need in a straightforward duffel out of the box — the rest of the packing tools are totally optional and don’t take away form its fundamental effectiveness at all.

Peak Travel Duffel 35 6

The 35L carrying capacity of this bag is perfect for a weekend trip, or even a few days longer if you’re an economical packer. At $129.95, it’s actually very reasonable for a high-quality duffel bag, too, and definitely one of the better bargains in the Peak lineup when it comes to value for the money.

Bring your posse to Disrupt SF 2019 with group discounts

By Emma Comeau

Disrupt San Francisco 2019, our flagship event on October 2-4, features three full days of programming, more than 10,000 attendees, over 1,200 exhibiting startups and sponsors — and that’s just for starters. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s a hot tip: take advantage of group discounts, saddle up and bring your whole posse to the show and squeeze out every bit of information, inspiration and opportunity possible.

Spread your crew across Disrupt and get more done. Network til you drop in Startup Alley — using CrunchMatch, our free business match-making platform, to find and schedule meetings with only the best connections for your business. Bear witness to our epic pitch competition, Startup Battlefield — a great place to spot investment-worthy companies.

Attend the many Main Stage panel discussions and interviews with tech titans, up-and-coming founders and startup investors. Check out the conference agenda hereLooking for actionable tips and advice? Head for the Extra Crunch Stage. Yeah, you’ll learn a thing or two.

We offer group discounts for every pass level, to make your posse possible. Here’s what you need to know.

Group Innovator Pass: Buy five or more passes and get a 20% discount. Need 10 or more passes? Email us for a price quote at events@techcrunch.com. An Innovator Pass grants access to the Main Stage, Extra Crunch Stage, Q&As, workshops, CrunchMatch, networking receptions and the TechCrunch Events App, which lets you communicate with other attendees.

Group Founder Pass: Buy two or more passes and you’ll get a 10% discount. Your Founder Pass gets you the same benefits as an Innovator Pass but at an already discounted rate — but you must be a (co)founder of a company (of any size).

Group Investor Pass: Purchase two or more passes to get a 10% discount. An Investor Pass provides the same benefits as an Innovator pass, PLUS access to the Investor Lounge, an invitation to the investor-only reception and two hours of private meeting space.

Group Expo Only Pass: If you want to buy Expo Only passes in bulk (10 or more), email events@techcrunch.com for a price quote. An Expo Only Pass provides access to the Startup Alley expo floor, workshops and a lite version of the TechCrunch Events App.

Group Startup Alley Exhibitor Packages: If you’re interested in purchasing more than one Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, email startupalley@techcrunch.com for more information. This package includes exhibit space for one day, use of the Startup Alley Lounge, access to the media list and two or three Founder Passes, depending on when you book.

Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4. Bring your posse and cover more ground, find more opportunity and discover more ways to grow your business. Get your group discounts today. If you’re riding solo, no problemo. Get an early-bird ticket and, depending on the pass level you choose, you can save up to $1,300. Saddle up and ride!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt San Francisco 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Summer flash sale: Score 2-for-1 passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

The dog days of summer are upon us, and even busy startuppers across Europe are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. Down time’s important and so is saving money, so all this week we’re holding a 2-for-1 summer flash sale on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019.

Disrupt Berlin takes place on 11-12 December and, depending on the type of pass you buy, our super early-bird pricing can save you up to €600. But now you can double your savings simply by purchasing an Innovator, Founder or Investor pass before our 2-for-1 flash sale ends on August 23 at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Buy your 2-for-1 passes right here.

Experience all the early-stage startup excitement and opportunity that Disrupt Berlin offers and do it at a huge discount. Join your community — roughly 3,000 attendees from more than 50 countries, including European Union members, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, India, China and South Korea. Explore hundreds of early-stage startups exhibiting in Startup Alley. Listen to and learn from our roster of speakers — leading founders, technologists, investors and tech icons along with up-and-coming founders.

Be sure to watch — or even better apply to compete in — the Startup Battlefield pitch competition. TechCrunch editors will select some of the best early-stage startups to go head-to-head on the Disrupt Main Stage. Who knows, you might take home the $50,000 top prize or find your next investment opportunity.

More opportunity awaits in the form of TC Top Picks. Apply here to be one of a select few startups to represent these tech categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education. If you’re chosen, you’ll receive a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, a VIP experience and a ton of media and investor exposure. What’s more, a TechCrunch editor will interview every TC Top Pick on the Showcase Stage. We’ll record that interview and promote the video across our social media platforms. That video will drive traffic to your site and come in mighty handy as a future talking point with investors.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. Don’t let sleepy summer days distract you from serious summer savings. You have the rest of this week to double your savings on Innovator, Founder or Investor passes. Buy your 2-for-1 passes before our flash sale ends on August 23 at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). We’ll see you in December!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Porsche is integrating Apple Music into the all-electric Taycan

By Kirsten Korosec

Porsche said Monday it will integrate Apple Music into its upcoming all-electric Taycan sports car, the first time the music streaming service has been offered as a standalone app within a vehicle.

The announcement illustrates the latest efforts by Porsche to focus on digital entertainment in its vehicles as well as its further alignment with Apple.

The Apple Music integration will begin with the hotly anticipated Taycan. However, the relationship between Apple and Porsche won’t end at there, Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer told TechCrunch.

Apple CarPlay, an app that brings the look and feel of an iPhone to the vehicle’s central screen, is already offered in new Porsche models, a list that will include the Taycan. And like the rollout of Apple CarPlay, a fully integrated Apple Music app will eventually make its way into the rest of the Porsche lineup.

The intention is to give all Porsche customers the “same bandwidth of services,” he said, adding that Apple Music will be introduced into new vehicles that have the technology to integrate the streaming services. It was a sentiment echoed in a statement by Porsche AG board member Detlev von Platen.

For now, the partnership between the two companies will give Taycan owners access to Apple Music — and its 50 million songs, Beats 1 live streamed radio station and curated playlists — through the vehicle’s touchscreen display or its voice assistant. Apple Music, which costs $9.99 for an individual membership, recently surpassed 60 million subscribers.

The integration means more than an Apple Music app icon popping up on the Taycan’s digital touchscreen. The company wanted the experience to be seamless, meaning no wonky sign-ins, phone pairing or separate accounts. Instead, Porsche is linking an owner’s Apple ID with their Porsche Taycan ID. Apple Music content in the Taycan will be identical to what’s on the user’s iPhone app.

Apple Music in the Taycan can also be accessed via Porsche’s voice assistant, which will let users request songs, albums, playlists, or radio stations.

New and existing Porsche owners will be given a free six-month subscription to Apple Music, another hint that the integration will eventually reach other vehicles in the German automaker’s portfolio.

Once that period expires, owners will have to pay for the streaming service. Although if Taycan owners reflect Porsche’s larger U.S. customer base, it’s possible that many already have a subscription. More than 80% of the U.S. Porsche customers also have iPhone, Zellmer told TechCrunch.

Porsche said it will also give Taycan owners three years of free in-car internet.

“None of our customers will have to worry about data consumption while streaming,” Lars Buchwald, director of sales and marketing at Porsche Connect for Porsche AG, said during an event Monday at Porsche’s North America headquarters in Atlanta.

Apple is a natural fit for Porsche, Zellmer said, noting that the brands of the two companies are closely aligned with their parallel focus on design, technology and innovation.

Both brands also share a closed system ethos. For instance, Porsche doesn’t support open source-based Android Auto, the competitor to Apple CarPlay. And while that doesn’t mean Apple Music will be the only app ever integrated into the Taycan or other Porsche vehicles, they will likely be few and far between.

“Generally speaking, we always want to be in control of that system for privacy reasons,” Zellmer said. “We don’t want our customers to be approached with marketing or advertising messages that are not relevant or adequate. We will always be very cautious about whom we grant access to our digital ecosystem in our cars. Another reason why Apple is our partner is because they have exactly the same attitude.”

RYU’s line of backpacks offer style and function for exploring the city or weekends away

By Darrell Etherington

Yes, it’s Bag Week, where we celebrate all the best bags of the year here at TechCrunch. And there is little more satisfying than finding a basic black one that’s functional, stylish and unique. Luckily, Canadian urban athletic apparel maker RYU makes three such bags, and while each one has its own particular appeal depending on what you’re looking for in a backpack, they’re also all winners that elevate the basic black backpack to new heights.

Quick Pack Lux 18L ($185)

RYU bags 3 Locker Pack 18LRYU’s “just right” offering for me is the Quick Pack Lux 18L capacity bag that’s pretty much perfect as a general-use day pack in terms of cargo space, and that can also serve well for a one or two-night trip, depending on how lightly you pack.

The RYU’s signature feature, and what makes it my favorite day pack in terms of everyday use around the city, is its profile — a silhouette that is made all the better because RYU uses an internal molded shell to ensure that it never flattens down or loses its shape, regardless of how full or empty the bag actually is. This is actually a huge selling point for me, and one that makes the RYU Quick Pack Lux 18L almost certain to become my go-to daily bag. Inside, there are a few pockets, including a laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro — another rarity in a day pack this low-profile.

In addition to the integrated frame, the Quick Pack Lux is kitted out with premium materials, like the leather accent patch on the top flap, leather shoulder straps, an outer layer of poly-cotton blend that covers a wax-treated canvas and nylon interior for water resistance and durability. The materials definitely feel premium, though the outermost layer resembles kind of a yoga pant material, and in my house definitely attracts and picks up my dog’s easily shed white hairs with reckless abandon. I’m more than happy to get out the lint roller once and a while as a trade-off for just how good looking the bag is, however.

[gallery ids="1870659,1870660,1870661"]

It wears slightly long, but tight to the back (for reference when sizing up the photos above, I’m 6’2″ and quite a bit of that is torso). The removable chest strap helps keeps the profile pretty seamless, and there’s a handle on top for easy carrying when not on the back.

Another unique feature of the Quick Pack Lux is that it opens from the front, with the flap at the top unbuckling to reveal two zippers that run the length of the bag. Undo these, and you get basically a duffel-style cargo loading method, which is great for arranging your stuff without having to layer or dig down as you would in a top-loading pack.

Locker Pack Lux 24L ($215)

RYU bags 2 Locker Pack 24L 1The Locker Pack Lux 24L is the more spacious version of the Quick Pack Lux, with 6L extra volume for packing your gear. It’s designed more for those overnights or two-day trips, and yet it doesn’t really add that much in the way of bulk if you’re looking for something that can serve flexibly as both day pack and weekender.

The Locker Pack Lux has the same materials combination as the Quick Pack, but is a bit longer and so is probably better suited for taller people. It still offers a very slim profile, and has the same internal structural components, which means it’ll keep its shape, but it has a bit more leeway for expansion, too, letting you pack in a surprising amount of stuff via the front-loading, double zipper stowage and packing flap.

[gallery ids="1870681,1870682,1870683,1870674"]

Unlike the Quick Pack Lux, you also get external access to the laptop compartment in the Locker Pack, which gives you an easy way to get at up to a 15-inch notebook. The leather-accented top flap closes down over this compartment, too, to give you some protection against the elements in the case of light showers (RYU also sells a dedicated rain hood separately).

Express Pack 15L ($90)

RYU bags 4 Express Pack 15L

The Express Pack is the smallest of these RYU backpacks in terms of packing volume, but it’s also probably the best option when it comes to an all-around city day pack that will fit you regardless of height and frame. The extremely minimal aesthetic is great for the city, especially with the polyurethane outer coating that wraps a middle canvas layer for the bag’s body.

This is a very lightweight bag, but the internal pocket can actually fit a lot of stuff when needed, and there’s a single woven pocket on one side of the exterior for stowing a water bottle. This adds an asymmetrical look, which is also pretty cool looking. Inside, there’s a zippered mesh block and a fully zippered front pocket for separating your sweaty gym gear, plus a laptop compartment that can fit a full, 15-inch MacBook Pro without issue.

[gallery ids="1870704,1870710,1870711,1870697"]

The bag is comfortable to wear, but doesn’t have the internal structure of the other two, so if it’s empty it’ll hug a lot closer to the body. If there’s one thing I’d change about it, it’s the RYU branding — but it does actually recede to being barely visible in less direct lighting, and is more subtle overall than it looks here.

Overall, RYU’s bag lineup is impressive, and offers something for everyone. The Vancouver-based company has done a great job of delivering highly functional designs that also offer great style with pretty much universal appeal. The company also offers non-Lux versions of both the Quick Pack and the Locker Pack, which drop the leather accents and embedded waxed canvas, but which also offer some decent discounts if the prices above strike you as too high.

Join The New Stack for Pancake & Podcast with Q&A at TC Sessions: Enterprise

By Emma Comeau

Popular enterprise news and research site The New Stack is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 for a special Pancake & Podcast session with live Q&A, featuring, you guessed it, delicious pancakes and awesome panelists!

Here’s the “short stack” of what’s going to happen:

  • Pancake buffet opens at 7:45 am on Thursday, September 5 at TC Sessions: Enterprise
  • At 8:15 am the panel discussion/podcast kicks off; the topic, “The People and Technology You Need to Build a Modern Enterprise
  • After the discussion, the moderators will host a live audience Q&A session with the panelists
  • Once the Q&A is done, attendees will get the chance to win some amazing raffle prizes

You can only take part in this fun pancake-breakfast podcast if you register for a ticket to  TC Sessions: Enterprise. Use the code TNS30 to get 30% off the conference registration price!

Here’s the longer version of what’s going to happen:

At 8:15 a.m., The New Stack founder and publisher Alex Williams takes the stage as the moderator and host of the panel discussion. Our topic: “The People and Technology You Need to Build a Modern Enterprise.” We’ll start with intros of our panelists and then dive into the topic with Sid Sijbrandij, founder and CEO at GitLab, and Frederic Lardinois, enterprise reporter and editor at TechCrunch, as our initial panelists. More panelists to come!

Then it’s time for questions. Questions we could see getting asked (hint, hint): Who’s on your team? What makes a great technical team for the enterprise startup? What are the observations a journalist has about how the enterprise is changing? What about when the time comes for AI? Who will I need on my team?

And just before 9 a.m., we’ll pick a ticket out of the hat and announce our raffle winner. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

On a side note, the pancake breakfast discussion will be published as a podcast on The New Stack Analysts

But there’s only one way to get a prize and network with fellow attendees, and that’s by registering for TC Sessions: Enterprise and joining us for a short stack with The New Stack. Tickets are now $349, but you can save 30% with code TNS30.

WP Standard’s Weekender leather duffel is built for life

By Matt Burns

Have you heard? It’s Bag Week! It’s the most wonderful week of the year at TechCrunch. Just in time for back to school, we’re bringing you reviews of bags of all varieties: from backpacks to rollers to messengers to fanny packs.

WP Standard makes exceptional leather goods, and the company’s new leather duffel is no different. It’s fantastic and my go-to travel bag. There are downsides — it’s heavy and the shoulder strap slips on my boney shoulders — but the good outweighs the bad.

I travel a lot. Airplanes, bikes, cars and pretty much everything but trains — because I live in the Midwest and not because I don’t like trains. A few years back I got a lovely, low-cost leather duffel from Amazon and started using it instead of a roller bag. It’s fun and forces me to pack smarter. Besides, the duffel always fits in overhead spaces, in taxi cabs and is easier to handle on a busy subway.

But you don’t care about my life. You’re here for this bag.

WP Standard built the Weekender duffel for people like me. It’s a great size and I have no issue packing away a bunch of shirts, a few pairs of pants and an extra pair of shoes. This isn’t a bag built to hold suits, but rather a weekend’s worth of clothes — hence the name.

The full-grain leather is thick and tough and has so far held up nicely to the rigors of travel. There are scratches and scuffs, but those are souvenirs and badges of honor. It has ridden in the back of my pickup in downpours and down dusty lanes. It has survived several transatlantic flights and still looks like it has decades of life to give.

In the end, this isn’t a Patagonia or The North Face duffel constructed out of space-age fabric designed to survive the tallest peaks or the deepest valleys. WP Standard doesn’t play that game. This company makes goods out of full grain leather that are naturally tough and will age gracefully.

The bag is constructed in a way to give the leather the best chance at survival. The hand straps wrap the bag to give it extra strength. The bottom is constructed out of two layers of stiff leather. The zipper is beefy. The shoulder strap is tough and hasn’t shown any sign of stretching.

A few years ago I reviewed WP Standard’s messenger bag. The Weekender duffel is just as lovely but these two bags share the same downside: The shoulder straps pad is too slippery. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a t-shirt, jacket or parka, the shoulder strap doesn’t stay in place. To compensate, I often forgo using the pad and use the strap itself, which is thinner and can be uncomfortable after several minutes. To me, this isn’t a deal killer, but you, dear reader, should know about this downside.

The WP Standard Weekender costs $375. It’s a great price considering the thickness of the leather and quality of construction. Similar bags can be had from Wills, Shinola or Saddleback but for nearly twice the price. Pad and Quill makes quality leather goods and sells a leather duffel that’s similar to the Weekend for $545; it’s also worth a consideration.

Prices for passes to Disrupt SF 2019 increase next week

By Emma Comeau

Is it just us or is the summer disappearing faster than ever? Disrupt San Francisco 2019 is right around the corner (October 2-4) and the great early-bird migration is upon us. Your opportunity to save big bucks disappears on August 30. Depending on which pass you purchase, you can save up to a whopping $1,300. Feather your nest with early-bird savings — buy your pass today.

Now that you have your pass all squared away, get ready to join more than 10,000 ardent startuppers from across the globe, including startups, exhibitors and media. TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt features three jam-packed days of programming across four unique stages: the Main Stage, the Extra Crunch Stage, the Q&A Stage and the Showcase Stage (located in Startup Alley).

Speaking of Startup Alley, get ready to explore more than 1,200 early-stage startups and sponsor companies. You’ll also find our hand-picked cohort of TC Top Picks camped out in Startup Alley. It’s an unparalleled networking opportunity — you never know who you might meet and where that connection can lead.

Take advantage of CrunchMatch, the free business-matching platform. It simplifies networking and cuts through the noise to help you find, schedule and meet the right people for your business needs.

Don’t miss the Startup Battlefield on the Main Stage. Watch as 15-20 outstanding early-stage startups vie for glory, investor and media love and a $100,000 equity-free cash infusion.

The Main Stage features interviews and panel discussions with tech titans, leading investors, up-and-coming founders and a host of other world-class speakers. Over on the Extra Crunch Stage you’ll find fireside chats, how-to content and actionable tips. Check out the ever-evolving Disrupt SF agenda. In the meantime, here are three sessions to give you an idea of what you’ll experience.

Creating the Means of Production with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (HitRecord)

For far too long, creators have been users of platforms rather than running those platforms. With HitRecord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt changed that. JGL has been head-down and hands-on with HitRecord, and we’ll hear from him about how to put the power back in creators’ hands.

How to Evaluate Talent and Make Decisions with Ray Dalio (Bridgewater)

Ray Dalio knows a thing or two about building successful startups. As founder of the firm Bridgewater, he helped build it into one of the most successful investment companies ever, managing a whopping $150 billion in assets. He recently wrote a book called Principles, and he’s coming to the TechCrunch Disrupt Extra Crunch stage in October to discuss the book and companion mobile app on how building a strong culture can lead to a flourishing startup.

How to Take a Digital Brand Offline with Rich Fulop (Brooklinen), James Reinhart (ThredUp) and Susan Tynan (Framebridge)

E-commerce has fundamentally changed the way we browse and buy physical goods. But even though online sales have taken a huge bite out of brick-and-mortar, it doesn’t mean that digital brands aren’t interested in the prospect of offline channels. Hear from three founders who have taken their own unique approach to launching a store.

Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4, but your chance to get the best price disappears on August 30. Don’t wait, buy your early-bird pass today. Now, go enjoy the rest of your summer.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt San Francisco 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Founder how-to content on the Extra Crunch Stage at Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Disrupt Berlin 2019, our premier European tech conference, takes place on 11-12 December and draws 3,000 people from more than 50 countries. Every year we work hard to improve our content programming and present it in new and engaging ways to a very savvy startup audience. This year be sure to check out the Extra Crunch Stage for information you can put in place back at the home base.

If you need to buy a super early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin, why not take care of that essential detail now? Go ahead…we’ll wait.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. On the Extra Crunch Stage, we’re focusing on the founders, investors and tech leaders who’ve been there, done that, who will provide how-to content, practical tips and actionable advice that founders need to succeed in the European tech landscape.

The new name and mission come from TC’s recently launched subscription product. Designed for our most engaged readers, this extra crunchy layer of gated content goes deep on entrepreneurial and startup topics like inclusion and diversity, hiring practices, legal and product decisions, as well as mental health and wellness in high-performance businesses.

Treat yourself to an Innovator, Founder or Investor pass, because that’s the only way you’ll gain access to this Extra Crunchy wisdom. Those same passes also provide access to all the fine content, speakers, panelists, interactive workshops and events that take place on the Main Stage, the Showcase Stage and in the Q&A sessions.

That’s a whole lot to take in, and you’ll be busy indeed as you explore hundreds of early-stage startups exhibiting their tech and talent in Startup Alley. Marvel at the brilliant Startup Battlefield competitors vying for $50,000 as they launch on a global stage. Learn from our roster of speakers, the top players in the startup world — tech titans, leading investors and boundary-pushing founders — as they examine emerging trends and critical challenges.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. Get your super early-bird pass, get Extra Crunchy and get ready to make the most of your time at Disrupt. We’ll see you in Berlin!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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