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Code and compete in the TC Hackathon at Disrupt Berlin

By Leslie Hitchcock

We’re in the home stretch to the TC Hackathon going down at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. If you have what it takes to compete against some of the best hackers, developers, engineers and code poets, apply to the TechCrunch Hackathon now. We have fewer than 50 seats left, and they’ll be gone before you can say deep hack mode.

The Hackathon is free — no fee to apply or to compete. It’s a thrilling, fun and exhausting ride. Designing, creating and pitching a working product in roughly 24 hours will test your physical, mental and technical limits. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other.

What do you get for messing with your circadian rhythm? For starters, we’ll keep you fed, watered and caffeinated. And every participant receives a free Innovator pass to enjoy Disrupt Berlin. Then there’s the prize money associated with each sponsored contest and, on top of that, TechCrunch editors will award an additional $5,000 prize to the team they choose for creating the best overall hack.

When you and your team arrive on site, you’ll pick one of several sponsored contest hacks to tackle and complete. Arriving solo? No worries. We’ll help you find a team when you get here.

After the 24-hour hackathon clock runs out, sponsor representatives and TechCrunch editors will review all completed projects. They’ll select 10 teams to move on to the finals the following day. Each team gets two minutes to power pitch and present their products live on the Extra Crunch Stage.

After 10 sleep-deprived presentations, the judges announce the winners of the sponsor challenges and TechCrunch reveals the winner of best overall hack and awards them $5,000.

Curious about the types of challenges you’ll find on tap? We’ll announce this year’s sponsors and their specific contests before the month is out, but here’s an example of the type of challenges you can expect.

Last year at Disrupt SF, BYTON sponsored a contest challenging the Hackathon participants to create a product that addressed this question: What will people want to do in a car that has a 49-inch screen and drives autonomously? The $5,000 first prize went to CAR-O-KE, a karaoke app for autonomous vehicles. Check out the other sponsored contests, prizes and winners from DSF ’18.

TC Hackathon takes place during Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. Love to code? Love to compete? Love to win money and recognition? Then apply to the Hackathon today before the last remaining seats disappear.

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

Daily Crunch: Tesla unveils its futuristic Cybertruck

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Behold, the Tesla Cybertruck is here

Elon Musk has unveiled a vehicle that looks like it was ripped straight out of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie.

The Tesla Cybertruck is made of cold-rolled steel, armored glass (which cracked in one demonstration at yesterday’s event) and adaptive air suspension. The cheapest version — a single-motor and rear-wheel drive model — will cost $39,900.

2. Twitter will finally let you turn on two-factor authentication without giving it a phone number

After countless tales of people having their phone numbers and inbound messages hijacked by way of SIM swapping, it’s clear that SMS just isn’t the right solution for sending people secondary login codes. And yet for many years, it’s been the mandatory go-to on Twitter — you could switch to another option later, but you had to give Twitter a phone number to turn it on in the first place.

3. Y Combinator abruptly shutters YC China

Startup accelerator Y Combinator has abandoned plans to establish a branch in China. The company cites a general change in strategy, but the firm’s silence on the complexity and controversy of working with China right now suggests there’s more at play.

4. Hyundai and Seoul set to test self-driving cars on city roads starting next month

Seoul will provide smart infrastructure to communicate with the vehicles, including connected traffic signals, and will also relay traffic and other info as frequently as every 0.1 seconds to the Hyundai vehicles.

5. Alphabet’s X details a garbage-sorting bot that’s part of its plan to make robots an everyday thing

X — formerly Google X — focuses exclusively on ambitious “moonshots,” a.k.a. tech you’d expect to find in science fiction (a recurring theme in today’s newsletter), not a real product in development. For example: A robot that can sort through office trash.

6. OutVoice officially launches its freelancer payment tools

The startup, which allows editors to pay freelance writers and photographers with the push of a button, has also raised seed funding from content monetization startup Coil.

7. Morgan Stanley’s ‘Teflon banker’ talks direct listings and much more

Michael Grimes, a banker for 32 years — 25 of them with Morgan Stanley — has played a role in the IPOs of Salesforce, LinkedIn, Workday and hundreds of other companies. In an interview, Grimes told us why he supports direct listings. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

Don’t miss out: Exhibit in Startup Alley at Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Heiliger Strohsack — holy smokes! In just a few weeks, thousands of attendees will arrive in Germany for Disrupt Berlin 2019, the premiere international tech conference focused on early-stage startups. Talk about an opportunity to expose your fledgling startup to savvy investors, hungry media and a host of successful tech entrepreneurs and potential customers — from more than 50 countries.

Here’s the best part: you still have time to plant your flag in Startup Alley and place your innovative products and ideas in front of the movers and shakers who can help you advance your business goals. How? Buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package.

Startup Alley exhibitors receive one full day on the expo floor, plus three Founder passes, access to programming on all stages (including the Startup Battlefield competition, speakers, interactive workshops and Q&A Sessions), the complete attendee list via Disrupt Mobile App, CrunchMatch — TechCrunch’s free networking platform — the complete press list, entrance to networking parties and exclusive video content access once the conference ends.

Consider the benefits of exhibiting. Disrupt Berlin attendees flock to Startup Alley to meet and greet the hundreds of outstanding startups on display — including our recently announced TC Top Picks. It’s networking on steroids where you have the opportunity to meet investors determined to find the perfect addition to their portfolios, journalists eager to write about new companies and emerging trends or startuppers looking for collaborators, service providers or a new gig.

What’s more, every startup that exhibits gets a shot at the Wild Card — which means a spot to compete in Startup Battlefield. Imagine — you could win it all and take home the $50,000 prize. Does that seem far-fetched? Granted, it’s a longshot, but Legacy earned the Wild Card at Disrupt Berlin 2018 and went on to win the Startup Battlefield ccompetition. And RecordGram did the same at Disrupt NY 2017.

Whether or not you win the Wild Card, exhibiting in Startup Alley provides real benefits. Here’s what Caleb John, co-founder of Cedar Robotics, told us about his experience.

“We demonstrated our technology in front of hundreds of people. It was a chance to meet startups we might work with, investors for potential funding and, because we plan to expand down the road, we’ll need to hire people for R&D. Building relationships with those firms was very helpful.”

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place in just a few weeks — on 11-12 December. Don’t miss your opportunity for the kind of exposure that can alter the trajectory of your startup in the best way possible. Buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and show the world what you’ve got!

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

Equity Dive: Poshmark’s origin story with co-founder & CEO Manish Chandra

By Kate Clark

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We have something a bit different for you this week. Equity co-host Kate Clark recently sat down with Manish Chandra, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Poshmark, and one of his earliest investors, NFX managing partner James Currier.

If you haven’t heard of Poshmark, it’s an online platform for buying and selling clothes. Basically, it’s the thrift shop of the 21st century. We asked Chandra how he and co-founders Tracy Sun, Gautam Golwala and Chetan Pungaliya cooked up the idea for Poshmark, what bumps they faced along the way, how they raised venture capital and, of course, what details of their upcoming initial public offering he could share with us. Meanwhile, Currier dished about the company’s early days, when the Poshmark team worked hard on the floor of Currier’s office.

Unfortunately, neither Chandra or Currier were willing to share deets about Poshmark’s IPO, reportedly expected soon. But they both shared interesting insights into building a successful venture-backed company, battling competition and putting your best foot forward.

Glad you guys came back for another episode, we’ll see you soon.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Daily Crunch: PayPal acquires Honey

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. PayPal to acquire shopping and rewards platform Honey for $4B

Currently, Honey’s 17 million monthly active users take advantage of its suite of money-saving tools to track prices, get alerts, make lists, browse offers and participate in a rewards program called Honey Gold.

The acquisition, which is PayPal’s largest to date, will give the payments giant a foothold earlier in the customer’s shopping journey. Instead of only competing on the checkout page against credit cards or Apple Pay, for example, PayPal will leap ahead to become a part of the deal discovery process, as well.

2. Alphabet’s Loon signs deal with Telefonica to provide internet to remote parts of the Amazon

Loon is Alphabet’s high-altitude balloon company that is using its stratospheric technology to provide internet connectivity on Earth. This is Loon’s third commercial contract, including one with Telkom Kenya which is also awaiting final regulatory sign-off, and an arrangement with Canadian company Telecast to develop a coordination system for a future planned low-Earth orbit satellite constellation.

3. Apple expands and updates its ‘Everyone Can Code’ program

The company says it has redesigned the “Everyone Can Code” curriculum with a focus on introducing coding to more elementary and middle school students, while also adding more resources for teachers, a new student guide and refreshed Swift Coding Club materials.

4. G Suite users get more AI writing help, Google Assistant calendar integration and more

Unlike other grammar tools, Google’s version utilizes a neural network approach to detect potential grammar issues in your text — similar to the techniques used for building effective machine translation models. The company is also bringing to Docs the same autocorrect feature it already uses in Gmail.

5. Announcing TechCrunch Early Stage, a new event series all about founders

Our TC Early Stage events will be smaller (and more affordable) than Disrupt, with a focus on giving early-stage founders the information they need to be successful. The first will be in San Francisco on April 28, followed by one in Paris on October 28 and another in New York City (date TBA, but hey, we’re coming back to NYC!).

6. Sonos acquires voice assistant startup Snips, potentially to build out on-device voice control

Snips, which had been developing dedicated smart device assistants that can operate locally (instead of relying on consistently round-tripping voice data to the cloud) could help Sonos set up a voice control option for its customers that has better privacy and is focused more narrowly on music control.

7. Reimagine inside sales to ramp up B2B customer acquisition

User-first products are driving rapid company growth in an era where individuals discover, adopt and share software they like throughout their organizations. This is great if you’re a Slack, Shopify or Dropbox — but what if your company doesn’t fit that profile? (Extra Crunch membership required.)

Reserve your demo table at TC Sessions: Robotics & AI 2020

By Emma Comeau

Robotics and AI is the hottest scientific mashup since The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper met Amy Farrah Fowler. If you play a role in these world-changing technologies, join us at TC Sessions: Robotics & AI on March 3, 2020 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. What could be better than spending an entire day focused on melding minds with machines?

Well, how about exhibiting your early-stage startup to 1,500 of the world’s leading robotics and AI technologists, researchers, innovators and investors? It’s easy. Buy an Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package. The price includes four tickets, a 30-inch round highboy table, power, linen and a tabletop sign. Exhibitor space is limited, and we have only 11 tables left. Don’t miss this opportunity to showcase your work to people with the power to change the trajectory of your early-stage startup.

Want even more spotlight opportunity? Of course, you do. This year, in addition to interviews, panel discussions, speakers, breakout sessions and Q&As, we’re adding a pitch competition. Founders of any early-stage startup focused on robotics and AI can participate. It’s free, and all you need to do is apply here by February 1.

TechCrunch will review all applications and select 10 startups to pitch at a private event on March 2. You’ll pitch to TechCrunch editors, main-stage speakers and industry experts. We’ll have a panel of VC judges there to narrow the field to five finalists. The following day, those teams will take to the Main Stage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI and pitch to the attending masses.

Whether you exhibit or pitch — why not do both? — you’ll expose your startup to the top leaders and investors in robotics and AI. Opportunity’s knocking and it’s up to you to kick down the door.

The next TC Sessions: Robotics & AI takes place on March 3, 2020 at UC Berkeley. Get your business in front of the people who can help you achieve your startup dreams. Buy your Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package today.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Robotics & AI 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Annual Extra Crunch members get a discount on Aircall

By Travis Bernard

We’re excited to announce a new Extra Crunch community perk from Aircall. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Aircall and located within the U.S. or Canada can receive two months of free service on an annual Aircall contract.

Aircall is a cloud-based phone system that can help satisfy the needs of your customer support and sales teams. It’s easy to set up and scale, intuitive for users, has proven high-quality calls and can connect to your existing CRM in a few clicks. You can learn more about Aircall here

You must meet the following criteria to qualify for the Aircall community perk from Extra Crunch:

  • Must be an annual or two-year Extra Crunch member. You can sign up here.
  • Must be located within the U.S. or Canada.
  • Cannot have existing account or past account with Aircall.

The two months free from Aircall is inclusive of subscription fees, but not inclusive of minutes on annual contracts.

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that features how-tos and interviews on company building, intelligence on the most disruptive opportunities for startups, an experience on TechCrunch.com that’s free of banner ads, discounts on TechCrunch events and several community perks like the one mentioned in this article. Our goal is to democratize information about startups, and we’d love to have you join our community.

You can sign up for Extra Crunch here.

After signing up for an annual or two-year Extra Crunch membership, you’ll receive a welcome email with a link to sign up for Aircall and special code to enter to claim the discount. Aircall offers a free seven-day trial, and if you are interested in purchasing an annual plan after the trial you can enter the code to get two months free. 

If you are already an annual or two-year Extra Crunch member, you will receive an email with the offer at some point today. If you are currently a monthly Extra Crunch subscriber and want to upgrade to annual in order to claim this deal, head over to the “my account” section on TechCrunch.com and click the “upgrade” button.

This is one of several community perks we’ve recently launched for Extra Crunch members. Other community perks include a 20% discount on TechCrunch events, 100,000 Brex rewards points upon credit card sign up and an opportunity to claim $1,000 in AWS credits.

If there are other community perks you want to see us add, please let us know by emailing travis@techcrunch.com.

Sign up for an annual Extra Crunch membership today to claim this community perk. You can purchase an annual Extra Crunch membership here.

Announcing TechCrunch Early Stage, a new event series all about founders

By Alexandra Ames

TechCrunch covers a lot of bases in the tech startup world, but none is more important than supporting founders — especially early-stage founders. That’s what our new event series, TechCrunch Early Stage, is all about.

These single-day events debuting next year will be highly interactive opportunities for founders to tap experts in the core startup disciplines, starting with early-stage investors (lots of investors), legal wizzes, growth gurus, product-market fit wallahs, tech stack experts, recruiting aces and much more, including workshops on pitch breakdowns.

TechCrunch’s goal is to provide founders with insights and new relationships on par with what an accelerator experience provides, only in a single day, and with a much greater variety of experts and investors.

TC Early Stage is an outgrowth of Extra Crunch, TechCrunch’s subscription-based editorial offering that focuses on deep analysis and advice around the big topics facing founders. In October this year at Disrupt SF, we brought Extra Crunch to life on its own stage and featured experts on dozens of topics, including:

  • How to Raise My First Dollars (Russ Heddleston, DocSend, Charles Hudson, Precursor Ventures,  and Annie Kadavy, Redpoint Ventures)
  • How to Hire at Breakneck Speed (Scott Cutler, StockX, Harjeet Taggar, TripleByte, and Liz Wessel, WayUp)
  • How to evaluate talent and Make Decisions (Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Capital)
  • How to get into Y Combinator (Michael Siebel, Y Combinator),
  • How to Decide Between Bootstrapping and Raising Venture (Ben Chestnut, Mailchimp and Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage)

The sessions were mobbed. The TechCrunch team knows a winner when they one, and the result is this new event series. The first of three TC Early Stage events next year will be in San Francisco on April 28, with one in Paris on October 28 and another in New York City (date TBA).

TC Early Stage is designed for founders who are in their early innings, anywhere from pre-seed through series A, when entrepreneurs need all the guidance they can get. With that in mind, the event’s heart is dozens of breakout sessions run by with experts and curated by TechCrunch editors. The breakouts will be long on attendee questions and conversation, and the event is structured so that attendees can easily get to six to eight different breakouts over the course of the day. In addition, TechCrunch editors will hold a handful of interviews on a main stage with notable founders and investors in time slots that will not conflict with the breakouts.

Here is a sampling of the types of breakout sessions TechCrunch Early Stage will feature:

  • Raising a first seed round
  • Landing a Series A
  • Raising early stage investment for a SaaS company (also consumer and other major categories)
  • Considering your first term sheet
  • Growing users fast
  • Recruiting a fabulous team
  • Building a tech stack (you won’t regret)

Between sessions, attendees can also meet the experts running the breakout sessions, as well as each other, via CrunchMatch, TechCrunch’s event networking platform that connects like-minded attendees and arranges a meeting time and place.

The TechCrunch team is already busy building an all-star line-up for experts for the breakout sessions and memorable interviews for the main stage. The response from the expert community around TechCrunch has been resoundingly clear. Everyone sees the need – the deeper education of early stage founders – and they love the TC Early Stage format – a single day, highly interactive event that brings together early stage founders with an unprecedented collection of experts from across the startup ecosystem.

Tickets for the San Francisco event are available now, so jump in and grab yours to secure your seat while they last.

Not an early-stage founder? That’s okay, too. Later-stage founders, investors or just general startup enthusiasts are welcome to attend. A limited number of “Innovator passes” are available for folks who are not early-stage founders.

Partners are also very welcome! The event has many sponsorship opportunities, including breakout sessions. Contact the sales team to learn more by filling out this form.

Submit a guest post to Extra Crunch (and TechCrunch)

By Walter Thompson

We’re ramping up the number of guest posts we publish on Extra Crunch so we can expand our coverage of fundraising, growth, hiring and emerging technology trends. As we’ve grown, we’ve noticed that subscribers love expert commentary from people actually doing the work of building companies, and we want to make a home for valuable how-to content from great founders, engineers, growth experts and more.

We also want to help recurring columnists improve their writing so they can reach more people on an ongoing basis. To this end, we’re offering additional editing support and consideration for publishing applicable columns on TechCrunch as well as Extra Crunch. Regular columnists will also see consideration for stage time at Disrupt and other TechCrunch conferences. Going forward, the main way for any contributor to publish on TechCrunch will be to also publish on Extra Crunch.

To submit a guest post or query, or if you have questions, email guestcolumns@techcrunch.com.

We’re still happy to run one-off columns on Extra Crunch if they are compelling to startup founders. And, we will still run one-off guest columns every so often on TechCrunch (in front of the paywall), but these are intended to be of a clear public-interest nature. While we’ve experimented with a wide range of approaches to columns over the years, the core value we provide is from our own work.

Why submit a guest post?

Authors have a lot of leeway to explore topics in depth. And because we’re writing for an informed and highly engaged audience (our readers actually read TechCrunch for the articles,) we encourage more length than may be normal on other sites, so 1000 to 2000 words is average.

If you have experience that might help someone else in your situation, consider turning it into a guest post — it’s good to share what you know, and it’s a solid way to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Please note that our contributor program is for industry experts, and is unpaid. If you’re a freelance technology writer, please contact

How to pitch a story

Email a complete draft of your guest post to guestcolumns@techcrunch.com, or send us a detailed summary that explains why your post would be of interest to our audience.

We receive a high volume of submissions, so it may take some time to respond; generally speaking, you can expect to receive a reply within a week.

It’s fine if you work with a PR agency or are submitting a post on someone else’s behalf, but the post’s author needs to be copied on our email communications.

Things to keep in mind when writing a guest post

Please link back to external sources to make it easier for us to fact-check. It’s okay to mention your work, but don’t make your guest post too self-promotional — talk about your experience, not your company.

For Extra Crunch articles, a paywall is placed after the first few hundred words of the article body, so give the reader a summary of the key information in the beginning of your post.

If we publish your article

Each post we accept goes is edited before publishing to bring it into our house style, but most changes are minimal. We’ll also ask you to update your Crunchbase profile (if you have one), and will request a one-sentence biography that will appear at the top of your post.

What happens after your story runs?

Authors are free to republish the full text of their guest post anywhere one week after we run it, as long as they link back to and mention the original story. Because photos and images are licensed by TechCrunch, only the text of your guest post can be redistributed unless you’ve supplied images you own the rights to.

After we’ve published your article, we’ll send you a link. If your post appeared on Extra Crunch, we’ll send you a PDF version with the full text.

Expect to hear “no”

Don’t be discouraged, but we’re very selective about what we publish, which means we turn down the overwhelming majority of submissions and queries.


To submit a guest post or query, or if you have questions, email guestcolumns@techcrunch.com.

How Airbnb handles discrimination claims

By Megan Rose Dickey

When disability rights lawyer Haben Girma, who is blind and deaf, booked an apartment in London via Airbnb last month, she says the host cancelled her reservation after she disclosed that her guide dog would be joining her.

Prior to the cancellation, Girma and the host, Kirk Truman, had a lengthy exchange over the course of about a week-and-a-half in which Girma explained her situation, as well as educated the host about Airbnb’s non-discrimination policy that protects both her and her guide dog, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equality Act in the U.K., she told TechCrunch.

Despite this discussion, which TechCrunch has read and reviewed, Truman continued to express concern, saying, “I think my freeholder would be really unhappy with me if he found out that I had somebody stay in the flat with a dog/guide dog.”

The discussion continued, with Truman saying that “it should all be fine.” In the same message, he added that, had he “known when you first requested to book about you bringing your guide dog, I would’ve spoken to you about all we’ve discussed before proceeding with the booking.”

But ultimately, a couple of weeks later, Truman canceled Girma’s reservation. He justified the cancellation by saying the property would be undergoing some work during her scheduled stay, according to the conversation reviewed by TechCrunch. However, Girma says when her friend tried to book the same dates at that property five days later, Truman accepted the reservation.

When reached for comment about why Truman accepted her friend’s reservation for those same dates, Truman told TechCrunch via email his property has a leak and that the repairs are supposed to happen this coming weekend (November 23-24), which is when Girma was originally scheduled to stay at his flat.

“These dates were changed to this week by the contractor but then again changed to this coming weekend and are likely to be delayed into next week,” Truman said. “I should also add, that I also had to cancel another booking due to the issues with the leak as it happened again quite recently.”

It was when Girma found out Truman accepted her friend’s reservation for the same dates that she reached out to Airbnb. The company expressed remorse and told Girma that it would review the situation to determine if Truman deserved a warning, account suspension or permanent removal from the platform.

“For privacy reasons we can’t share what will happen after the review, but we want you to know that we are committed to fighting discrimination and ensuring that the Airbnb community is open and accessible to everyone,” an Airbnb customer service representative named Matt wrote to her in a message reviewed by TechCrunch.

But Girma took issue with the fact that Airbnb said it would keep the resolution of the review process quiet.

“Telling victims of discrimination that the result of the review process is private contributes to guests feeling like the platform is not safe,” Girma told TechCrunch via email. “We want to know if the company decides to protect discriminatory hosts. The company needs to be transparent with victims of discrimination.”

Girma proceeded to engage in a discussion with Airbnb, in which the company continued to say that its privacy policy prohibited it from communicating the results of the investigation to her. Airbnb offered to help her find a new place to stay, but Girma said she was not interested.

“I’m interested in whether or not Airbnb will take action, and I’m deeply disappointed that the company has chosen not to tell me what will be done in this incident,” Girma wrote to Airbnb.

In response, Airbnb reiterated that it would not disclose what actions it took with Truman. About one week later, however, Airbnb changed its course and let her know that the company took the route of host education. Additionally, Airbnb said Truman was now aware that future violations could result in his removal from the Airbnb platform.

But Girma said she had already gone out of her way to educate the host about Airbnb’s policy, as well as the ADA and the U.K.’s Equality Act.

“He knew it would be against your policy, and still canceled my reservation,” Girma wrote to Airbnb. “He claimed it was because the flat would have construction during my dates. My nondisabled friend then applied to stay at the flat for the exact same dates, and Kirk immediately accepted my friend’s reservation. All of this is in the records I sent to you.”

Girma then expressed dismay that Airbnb had chosen not to remove Truman and asked the company to reconsider. Shortly after sending that message, Girma got in touch with TechCrunch.

Following an inquiry from TechCrunch, Airbnb said it would suspend Truman for 30 days:

“To use our platform, Airbnb community members must commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of disability, race, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias. We have suspended this host and sincerely thank Haben both for reporting this incident and for her past work to help Airbnb’s team better serve the disability community.”

In determining what action to take, Airbnb concluded that what Truman did fell into the category of discriminatory impact versus discriminatory intent. So, if a host calls the guest the N-word, that’s discriminatory intent and impact, which would result in immediate removal from the platform. Discriminatory impact, according to Airbnb, is how it sees this situation between Girma and the host. Airbnb’s theory is that Truman is not irredeemable and can learn from this situation. And, if he doesn’t, then he may be removed entirely.

“I understand the implication yes, though this was not why Haben’s booking was cancelled in the first place,” Truman told TechCrunch. “I have written to Airbnb to appeal against this decision as I feel there appears to have been a misunderstanding.”

Airbnb has since notified Girma of the resolution, which entails the aforementioned 30-day suspension, as well as a re-education of its policies. However, she says this is a “gentle” punishment.

“Responding to violations by educating hosts again and again creates a culture where hosts know they can get away with discrimination,” Girma said. “And if they are extremely unlucky the worst that will happen is a thirty-day suspension.”

Even more alarming, Girma said, is that Airbnb told her the company has instructed Truman that any similar violation “may result” in his removal.

“Airbnb cannot even commit to removing Kirk if he does this again,” she said. “I’m deeply concerned about the lack of enforcement.”

Airbnb has since offered Girma money to cover her costs of seeking accommodation elsewhere, but she says she does not plan to accept any compensation.

What Girma would prefer, she told TechCrunch, is for Airbnb to commit to making the complaint process transparent to victims, strictly enforce the accessibility policy and remove hosts who violate it.

“The company has thousands and thousands of hosts; why is Airbnb so intent on protecting a host that knowingly violated policies and discriminated against a disabled guest?” Girma wondered. “Airbnb has a systemic enforcement problem. Knowingly violating Airbnb policy apparently won’t even get hosts removed from the platform. Airbnb policy is to not tell victims of discrimination the results of complaint reviews. How will guests ever feel safe using Airbnb when we know hosts that violate Airbnb’s own policies stay on the platform?”

Airbnb has long faced issues with discrimination. In 2016, the company announced product and policy changes aimed at eradicating racist behavior. That included a new non-discrimination policy and a mandatory community commitment to treat fellow platform members with respect and without judgment and bias.

It’s worth noting Airbnb has also made some positive changes on the accessibility front. Last March, it added accessibility filters to make it easier for people with disabilities to find accessible travel accommodations, such as places with step-free entry and entryways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

But despite Airbnb’s attempts to educate hosts and create a platform that fosters inclusivity, it’s clear that not all hosts are on board, which is still resulting in discrimination. If you’ve experienced discrimination on Airbnb, please get in touch with me at megan@techcrunch.com.

Pitch onstage at TechCrunch’s Robotics & AI show — March 3 at UC Berkeley

By Robert Frawley

On March 3 next year, TechCrunch will host the fourth annual TC Sessions: Robotics + AI at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. This time around we’re adding a new twist to the incredible line-up of speakers, breakout sessions and Q&As: a pitch-off for early-stage companies in the robotics and AI space.

How it works: The night before the event, 10 startups, chosen through an online application process, will pitch at a private event with TechCrunch editors, main-stage speakers and industry experts. A panel of VC judges will select the top five teams to then pitch the next day on the main stage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for founders to get their company in front of the tier-one leaders and investors in the industry, as well as receive video coverage on TechCrunch. We expect 1,500 attendees at the show and tens of thousands online.

Extra treat: Each of the 10 startup team finalists will receive two free tickets to attend the show the next day.

Apply here by February 1. TechCrunch will review applications and notify companies by February 15 so the founders have time to prepare. So, what are you waiting for? Get some spotlight!

Not interested in the pitch-off but want to attend this fantastic, show? Grab your Early-Bird pass here before it’s too late!

5 reasons you need to be at Disrupt Berlin

By Lauren Simonds

We’re one month out from Disrupt Berlin (11-12 December) and no matter which part of the startup ecosystem you inhabit, Disrupt Berlin is a huge opportunity to learn, network and gain inspiration.

Consider these five reasons why you should buy a pass to Disrupt Berlin and join thousands of founders, investors and technologists for two potential-packed days that could change the trajectory of your business.

1. The People You Will Meet

As hard as founders work, it takes a network to make startup dreams come true. Networking at Disrupt Berlin puts you in touch with people who can help you move toward your goal. Connect with investors, developers, engineers, founders, marketers and more. Sizing up investors? Got questions about manufacturing or product development?

You’ll find the right people a lot faster and more efficiently thanks to CrunchMatch, the free business match-making platform we’re making available to all attendees. When CrunchMatch goes live (before the conference starts), we’ll email instructions on accessing the platform to all registered attendees.

You create a profile outlining your role and the type of connections you want to make. CrunchMatch suggest connections based on similar goals and then — subject to your approval — the platform handles all the scheduling details. It’s simple and it connects you with the people you really want to meet. And there will be nearly 3,000 to choose from.

2. The Interviews You’ll Watch (and questions you can ask)

TechCrunch’s editors have spent months picking speakers for the Disrupt stage who reflect the current trends and conversations in the startup ecosystem . The editors interviews focus on teasing out the information and insights everyone wants to hear. And if you have questions of your own, many of the speakers will be available for audience questions at a follow-up Q&A.

New to Disrupt Berlin this year, The Extra Crunch Stage, features experienced operators giving practical, real-world advice on how to launch, run and grow a successful startup, including the chance for you to ask our experts your questions. We launched this stage earlier this year in San Francisco, and the ”how to” programming was a huge hit. Curious about what it takes to raise a series A? Are you all about SaaS? Need help with your PR and branding strategy? Or thinking of scaling your startup globally? We have you covered.

And there’s so much more programming waiting for you across several stages— plan your time and check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.

3. The Thrills of Startup Battlefield

There’s no better startup launch pad than our world-renowned Startup Battlefield. Since 2007, this global pitch competition has launched 857 companies — like Vurb, Dropbox, Mint and Yammer. They’ve collectively raised $8.9 billion and produced 113 exits. Who will join their ranks?

Be in the room to watch this year’s outstanding cohort go head-to-head in a fierce battle to win the judges hearts and minds. Oh, right — they’ll also win the Disrupt Cup, intense media and investor love and a $50,000 equity-free cash infusion. It all goes down live on the Main Stage, and it’s streamed live to a global audience.

4. The Serendipity of Startup Alley

Opportunity is the name of the game in Startup Alley — the expo floor and heartbeat of Disrupt Berlin. It’s where you’ll find hundreds of early-stage startups showcasing the latest products, platforms and services across the tech spectrum. Looking for potential customers, collaborators, mentors or just curious about new technology? Head to Startup Alley, because you never know who you’ll meet.

Here’s another great reason to go — you’ll find our TC Top Picks. TechCrunch editors hand-picked up to five stellar startups to represent the best of the following tech categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education.

5. Your Inspiration, Stoked

You’re focused on making your startup dreams come true. Investing two days at Disrupt to meet new, yet like-minded people can shake things up in the best possible way. Connect with your community, refresh your thinking, share ideas and hear new perspectives. And maybe meet a future partner, investor, or employee. Go home inspired to dig deeper and work harder.

Well, there you have it. Five awesome reasons to hop off the fence, buy a pass to Disrupt Berlin and join us on 11-12 December.

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

Daily Crunch: TikTok starts experimenting with commerce

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. TikTok tests social commerce

The short-form video app said it’s allowing some users to add links to e-commerce sites (or any other destination) to their profile, while also offering creators the ability to easily send their viewers to shopping websites.

On their own, these changes might not sound that dramatic, and parent company ByteDance characterizes them as experiments. But it could eventually lead TikTok to become a major force in commerce — and to follow the lead of Instagram, where “link in bio” has become one of the most common promotional messages.

2. Despite bans, Giphy still hosts self-harm, hate speech and child sex abuse content

A new report from Israeli online child protection startup L1ght  has uncovered a host of toxic content hiding within the popular GIF-sharing community, including illegal child abuse content, depictions of rape and other toxic imagery associated with topics like white supremacy and hate speech.

3. Lyft is ceasing scooter operations in six cities and laying off 20 employees

Lyft notified employees today that it’s pulling its scooters from six markets: Nashville, San Antonio, Atlanta, the Phoenix area, Dallas and Columbus. A spokesperson told us, “We’re choosing to focus on the markets where we can have the biggest impact.”

4. Takeaways from Nvidia’s latest quarterly earnings

After yesterday’s earnings report, Wall Street seems to have barely budged on the stock price — everyone’s waiting for resolution on some of the key questions facing the company. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

5. Virgin Galactic begins ‘Astronaut Readiness Program’ for first paying customers

The program is being run out of the global headquarters of Under Armour, Virgin Galactic’s partner for its official astronaut uniforms. The training, with instruction from Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses and Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, is required for all Virgin Galactic passengers.

6. AWS confirms reports it will challenge JEDI contract award to Microsoft

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson suggested that there was possible bias in the selection process: “AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts.”

7. SoftBank Vision Fund’s Carolina Brochado is coming to Disrupt Berlin

At SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Brochado focuses on fintech, digital health and marketplace startups. Some of her past investments with both Atomico and SoftBank include LendInvest, Gympass, Hinge Health, Ontruck and Rekki.

You’ve heard of CRISPR, now meet its newer, savvier cousin CRISPR Prime

By Sarah Buhr

CRISPR, the revolutionary ability to snip out and alter genes with scissor-like precision, has exploded in popularity over the last few years and is generally seen as the standalone wizard of modern gene-editing. However, it’s not a perfect system, sometimes cutting at the wrong place, not working as intended and leaving scientists scratching their heads. Well, now there’s a new, more exacting upgrade to CRISPR called Prime, with the ability to, in theory, snip out more than 90 percent of all genetic diseases.

Just what is this new method and how does it work? We turned to IEEE fellow,  biomedical researcher and dean of graduate education at Tuft University’s school of engineering Karen Panetta for an explanation.

How does CRISPR Prime editing work?

CRISPR is a powerful genome editor. It utilizes an enzyme called Cas9 that uses an RNA molecule as a guide to navigate to its target DNA. It then edits or modifies the DNA, which can deactivate genes or insert a desired sequence to achieve a behavior. Currently, we are most familiar with the application of genetically modified crops that are resistant to disease.

However, its most promising application is to genetically modify cells to overcome genetic defects or its potential to conquer diseases like cancer.

Some applications of genome editing technology include:

  • Genetically modified mosquitos that can’t carry malaria.
  • In humans, “turning on” a gene that can create fetal type behaving cells that can overcome sickle-cell anemia.

Of course, as with every technology, CRISPR isn’t perfect. It works by cutting the double-stranded DNA at precise locations in the genome. When the cell’s natural repair process takes over, it can cause damage or, in the case where the modified DNA is inserted at the cut site, it can create unwanted off-target mutations.

Some genetic disorders are known to mutate specific DNA bases, so having the ability to edit these bases would be enormously beneficial in terms of overcoming many genetic disorders. However, CRISPR is not well suited for intentionally introducing specific DNA bases, the As, Cs, Ts, and Gs that make up the double helix.

Prime editing was intended to overcome this disadvantage, as well as other limitations of CRISPR.

Prime editing can do multi-letter base-editing, which could tackle fatal genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs, which is caused by a mutation of four DNA letters.

It’s also more precise. I view this as analogous to the precision lasers brought to surgery versus using a hand-held scalpel. It minimized damage, so the healing process was more efficient.

Prime editing can insert, modify or delete individual DNA letters; it can also insert a sequence of multiple letters into a genome with minimal damage to DNA strands.

How effective might Prime editing be?

Imagine being able to prevent cancer and/or hereditary diseases, like breast cancer, from ever occurring by editing out the genes that are makers for cancer. Cancer treatments are usually long, debilitating processes that physically and emotionally drain patients. It also devastates patients’ loved ones who must endure watching helpless on the sidelines as the patient battles to survive.

“Editing out” genetic disorders and/or hereditary diseases to prevent them from ever coming to fruition could also have an enormous impact on reducing the costs of healthcare, effectively helping redefine methods of medical treatment.

It could change lives so that long-term disability care for diseases like Alzheimer’s and special needs education costs could be significantly reduced or never needed.

How did the scientific community get to this point – where did CRISPR/prime editing “come from?”

Scientists recognized CRISPR’s ability to prevent bacteria from infecting more cells and the natural repair mechanism that it initiates after damage occurs, thus having the capacity to halt bacterial infections via genome editing. Essentially, it showed adaptive immunity capabilities.

When might we see CRISPR Prime editing “out in the wild?”

It’s already out there! It has been used for treating sickle-cell anemia and in human embryos to prevent HIV infections from being transmitted to offspring of HIV parents.

So, what’s next?

IEEE Engineers, like myself, are always seeking to take the fundamental science and expand it beyond the petri dish to benefit humanity.

In the short term, I think that Prime editing will help generate the type of fetal like cells that are needed to help patients recover and heal as well as developing new vaccines against deadly diseases. It will also allow researchers new lower cost alternatives and access to Alzheimer’s like cells without obtaining them post-mortem.

Also, AI and deep learning is modeled after human neural networks, so the process of genome editing could potentially help inform and influence new computer algorithms for self-diagnosis and repair, which will become an important aspect of future autonomous systems.

Last chance for early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Trite as it may sound, all good things must come to an end. And the good thing that’s about to come to a grinding halt is early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019. You have mere hours to save — the deadline strikes tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

You can save up to €500, but only if you beat the clock. Buy your early bird pass right now, otherwise you’ll pay more than necessary — how sad.

Need more inspiration than saving significant euros? Okay, let’s talk speakers. Disrupt conferences always offers an awesome lineup of speakers, and this year Disrupt Berlin is no exception. We’re going to mix it up a bit in this post and feature just some of the impressive women who will hold forth on the various Disrupt stages.

Unnatural Language Processing with Emily Foges (CEO at Luminance) and Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss (founder & CEO at omni:us). Legal contracts and insurance policies can be difficult even for experts to decipher. Hear from the founders how Luminance and omni:us use AI to take on jargon and save everyone time.

The New New Shop with Maria Raga (CEO of Depop). As shopping has moved from the web to apps, Depop has caught the Gen-Z wave. We’ll hear from Raga, the CEO nurturing this “eBay for the 21st Century.”

What does it take to raise a Series A? with Jessica Holzbach (co-founder & CCO at Penta), Louise Dahlborn Samet (partner at Blossom Capital) and Hannah Seal (principal at Index Ventures). Venture capital funds have boomed this decade, but raising money is still hard for young companies. What are investors today looking for in teams, metrics and products?

Up, Up and Away with Jen Rubio (co-founder & chief brand officer at Away). The D2C space is awfully crowded, but luggage brand Away has managed to rise above the noise to build one of the most successful consumer brands of this decade with a valuation of $1.4 billion as of earlier this year. Hear from CEO Jen Rubio about how the company got its start, grew, and became the household name it is today.

Like we said, those are but a few of the amazing women you’ll hear at Disrupt Berlin. And the guys aren’t half bad either. Check out the full agenda here.

There’s more to explore at Disrupt Berlin — Q&A Sessions, the Startup Battlefield, the Hackathon finalists pitching on the Extra Crunch Stage and hundreds of startups in Startup Alley, including our recently announced TC Top Picks.

See and do it all at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. You’ll see and do it all for less if you act now and buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin before early-bird pricing disappears tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

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

Decide which type of investor to target for raising capital

By Walter Thompson
David Teten Contributor
David Teten is a Venture Partner with HOF Capital. He was previously a Partner for 8 years with HOF Capital and ff Venture Capital. David writes regularly at teten.com and @dteten.

I recently wrote Should you raise venture capital from a traditional equity VC or a Revenue-Based Investing VC? Since then, I’ve talked with a number of other firms and greatly expanded my database: Who are the major Revenue-Based (RBI) Investing VCs?

That said, venture capital is just one of many options to finance your business, typically the most expensive. The broader question is, what type of capital should you raise, and from whom?  

I find many CEOs/CFOs default to approaching investors who have the most social media followers; who have spent the most money sponsoring events; or whom they met at an event. But, fame and the chance that you met someone at a conference do not logically predict that investor is the optimal investor for you. In addition, the best-known investors are also the ones who are most difficult to raise capital from, precisely because they get the most inbound.

The first step is to decide the right capital structure for your financing. Most CFOs build an Excel model and do a rough comparison of the different options. Some firms provide tools to do this online, e.g., Capital’s Cost of Equity estimator; Lighter Capital’s Cost of Capital Calculator; 645 Ventures’ cap table simulator. A similar, open-source, highly visual tool focused on VC is Venture Dealr.

For each of the major categories of investors, you can find online databases of the major providers. Major options include:

  • Traditional equity venture capital and private equity. For early-stage startups in particular, I suggest Foundersuite*, Samir Kaji’s Master List of US Micro-VC’s and Shai Goldman’s database of VC funds at/below $200M in size. You can find other databases of investors at AngelList, CB Insights, Crunchbase, Dow Jones VentureSource, Pitchbook, Preqin, and Refinitiv Eikon
  • Revenue-based investing VC. See Who are the major Revenue-Based Investing VCs?
  • Venture debt. See FindVentureDebt and this comparison guide of debt options for SAAS companies. Watch out for double dipping, or interest on interest.
  • Merchant cash advances/factoring. See Debanked’s list.
  • Small Business Association Loans. Ravi Bhagavan, Managing Director, BRG Capital Advisors, said, “a low-cost and often convenient form of capital for small businesses is SBA loans, which are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. SBA loans are $5k – $5M in size and are typically at a lower cost of capital compared to alternate forms of debt, since up to 85% of the loan is guaranteed by the SBA. Additionally, SBA loans have longer payment periods (5-25 years) than traditional forms of financing and come with less onerous ongoing disclosure requirements. However, SBA loans typically require a personal guarantee (PG) from the founder(s), who are scrutinized for income and credit history at the time of application. PGs can be quite daunting to founders because it puts their personal assets, including homes and investment accounts, on the line. SBA loans are available through SBA-approved banks and SBIC funds. SBICs make equity and debt investments of size $100k – $10M in qualifying small businesses. A good resource for looking up SBICs is here.” 
  • Crowdfunding, e.g., Republic*, Indiegogo*.  This option provides you capital and also market validation for desire for your product.  

Once you decide on the right category of investor, here are some tools I suggest using to find the optimal capital provider:

  • Most important, reference checking. I have a whitelist of investors I recommend to my portfolio — and a blacklist which I guide them to avoid.
  • Comparison websites: BitX, Fundera, GUD Capital, Lencred.com, Lendio, and NerdWallet Small Business Loans are all resources which can help you evaluate different options for small business financing, typically within a defined category of financing. Braavo specializes in financing app companies.
  • Financing supermarkets: Most investment firms start out with one asset class, and then over time they often add others. There are countless examples, e.g., most of the large B2B banks, Kapitus, Kalamata Capital, United Capital Source, etc. These firms can give you an apples-to-apples comparison of what different capital forms, albeit all from one provider, will cost you.

Daily Crunch: John Carmack steps down at Oculus

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. John Carmack steps down at Oculus to pursue AI passion project ‘before I get too old’

Legendary coder John Carmack is leaving Facebook’s Oculus after six years to focus on a personal project — no less than the creation of Artificial General Intelligence, or “Strong AI.” He’ll remain attached to the company in a “Consulting CTO” position, but will be spending all his time working on, perhaps, the AI that finally surpasses humanity.

This follows the departure of Oculus’ founders and early executives. His plan is to pursue his research from home, “Victorian Gentleman Scientist” style, and make his kid help.

2. Fourteen years after launching, 1Password takes a $200M Series A

1Password has been around for 14 years, and the founders grew the company the old-fashioned way — without a dime of venture capital. But when they decided to take venture help, they went all in.

3. Instagram tests hiding Like counts globally

Instagram tells TechCrunch the hidden Likes test is expanding to a subset of users globally. The change could make those users more comfortable sharing what’s important to them without the embarrassment of receiving a tiny number of likes.

4. Disney+ to launch in India, Southeast Asian markets next year

Disney plans to bring its on-demand video streaming service to India and some Southeast Asian markets as soon as the second half of next year, sources told TechCrunch. In India, the company plans to bring Disney+’s catalog to Hotstar, a popular video streaming service it owns.

5. Apple Research app arrives on iPhone and Apple Watch with three opt-in health studies

In September, Apple announced its plans for a research app that would allow U.S. consumers to participate in health studies from their Apple devices. Users can currently opt to participate in three health studies, including a women’s health study, hearing study and a heart and movement study.

6. Eigen nabs $37M to help banks and others parse huge documents using natural language and ‘small data’

Eigen is working primarily in the financial sector, but the plan is to use the funding to continue expanding to cover other verticals, such as insurance and healthcare — two other big areas that deal in large, wordy documentation that is often inconsistent in how it’s presented, full of essential fine print, and typically a strain on an organization’s resources to handle correctly.

7. Micromobility’s next big opportunities

Despite the over-saturation of the market, there are still opportunities for new players. Currently, there are two key areas that have yet to see a lot of action and are therefore ripe for disruption. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

48 hours left to save up to €500 on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Livin’ la vida loca pretty much sums up the early-stage startup life. We understand just how crazy-busy life gets, but we’re here to remind all the last-minute mavens that you have just 48 hours to take advantage of early-bird prices to Disrupt Berlin 2019. Depending on the type of pass you buy, you can save up to €500.

The early-bird pricing ends at 11:59 p.m. (CEST) this Friday, 15 November. Hit the brakes on livin’ la vida loca long enough to beat the deadline, buy your early-bird pass and save.

Now that you’ve saved a tidy sum, why not get a jump on planning your time at Disrupt Berlin? If networking’s your game, you’ll want to take advantage of CrunchMatch. Our free business-matching platform combines the best of two worlds — automation and curation — to help you zero in the people who align with your business goals. Cut through the noise and spend your valuable time talking to the right people. Read about how CrunchMatch works.

Curious about the latest innovations happening across the tech spectrum? Set your GPS for Startup Alley, our exhibition floor where you’ll find hundreds of early-stage startups displaying their products, platforms and services. Whether you’re an investor, founder, developer — or play some other role in the startup world — you’ll find something new and exciting in Startup Alley.

When you’re in Startup Alley, be sure to check out our TC Top Picks. TechCrunch editors chose these early-stage startups because they represent the best of their respective tech categories. Which startups won this coveted designation? Meet our TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019.

Want to see top-notch startups in action? Grab a seat for the world-famous, always-epic Startup Battlefield pitch competition. Between 15-20 teams of startup founders will pitch to a tough panel of veteran VCs and technologists. Every competitor has what it takes, but which one will take it all — the Disrupt Cup, $50,000 in equity-free cash and intense investor and media exposure?

There’s more to experience at Disrupt Berlin, including interviews, fireside chats and panel discussions with world-class speakers. You can go deeper on a specific topic by attending Q&A Sessions, and you can check out what some of the world’s best coders created at the Hackathon. The finalists will pitch their products on the Extra Crunch Stage. Don’t miss what matters most to you — check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. You have only 48 hours left to get the best possible price on tickets. You can live la vida loca and still beat the deadline. Buy your early-bird pass before Friday, 15 November at11:59 p.m. (CEST).

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

Extra Crunch members get free Zendesk for 6 months

By J.M. Donaldson

We’re excited to announce a new Extra Crunch community perk from Zendesk. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Zendesk and located within the U.S. or Canada can receive a credit for six months of unlimited licenses for any combination of Zendesk Support, Talk, Chat, Guide and Sell products, for free. Zendesk Talk and Zendesk Sell minutes are not included.

Zendesk is a customer service and engagement platform that creates better experiences for agents, admins and customers. Zendesk’s products are powerful and flexible, and scale to meet the needs of any business. You can learn more about Zendesk here

In order to qualify for the Zendesk community perk from Extra Crunch, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be an annual or two-year Extra Crunch member. You can sign up here.
  • Must be located within the U.S. or Canada.
  • Must be a new customer of Zendesk.

The Zendesk community perk from Extra Crunch is inclusive of subscription fees free for six months, after which you will be responsible for payment. Any downgrades to your Zendesk subscription will result in the forfeiture of the promotion, so please check with Zendesk first regarding any changes (startups@zendesk.com). The credit is only available for the Zendesk Support, Talk, Chat, Guide and Sell products.

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that features intelligence on the most disruptive opportunities for startups, how-tos and interviews on company building, an experience on TechCrunch.com that’s free of banner ads, discounts on TechCrunch events and several community perks like the one mentioned in this article. Our goal is to democratize information about startups, and we’d love to have you join our community.

You can sign up for Extra Crunch here.

Here’s how the process works. After signing up for an annual or two-year Extra Crunch membership, you’ll receive a welcome email with a link to apply to the Zendesk perk. Apply for the perk via the provided link in the email. Within 48 hours, the Zendesk team will send an email to you with the promo code.

Start a Zendesk Trial, and from inside your Zendesk trial, click the “Buy Now” button. Select your chosen plan and number of product licenses. Don’t forget to use monthly billing.

Enter the promo code that Zendesk provides you, and complete the checkout process. 

Zendesk offers a free 15-day trial, and if you are interested in purchasing a plan after the trial you can enter the code to get six months free. 

If you are already an annual or two-year Extra Crunch member, you will receive a separate email with the offer at some point in the next 48 hours. If you are currently a monthly Extra Crunch subscriber and want to upgrade to annual in order to claim this deal, head over to the “my account” section on TechCrunch.com and click the “upgrade” button.

This is one of several community perks we’ve launched for annual and two-year Extra Crunch members. Other community perks include a 20% discount on TechCrunch events, 100,000 Brex rewards points upon credit card sign up and an opportunity to claim $1,000 in AWS credits.

If there are other community perks you want to see us add, please let us know by emailing travis@techcrunch.com. Sign up for an annual Extra Crunch membership today to claim this community perk. You can purchase an annual or two-year Extra Crunch membership here.

Daily Crunch: Meet Apple’s new MacBook Pro

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. MacBook Pro 16” first impressions: Return of the Mack

Over the past few years, Apple’s MacBook game had begun to suffer from complacency — as problems with the models started to mount (unreliable keyboards, low RAM ceilings and anemic graphics offerings), the once insurmountable advantage that the MacBook had compared to the rest of the notebook industry started to show signs of dwindling.

So the new 16” MacBook Pro is an attempt to rectify most, if not all, of the major complaints of its most loyal, and vocal, users.

2. Google to offer checking accounts in partnership with banks starting next year

Google is calling the project “Cache,” and it’ll partner with banks and credit unions to offer the checking accounts, with the banks handling all financial and compliance activities related to the accounts.

3. A US federal court finds suspicionless searches of phones at the border is illegal

A federal court has ruled that the government is not allowed to search travelers’ phones or other electronic devices at the U.S. border without first having reasonable suspicion of a crime. The case was brought by 11 travelers — 10 of whom are U.S. citizens — with support from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

4. Convoy raises $400 million to expand its on-demand trucking platform

Convoy co-founders Dan Lewis and Grant Goodale set out in 2015 to modernize freight brokerage, a fragmented and oftentimes analog business that matches loads from shippers with truckers. The company has gone from hundreds of loads per week in 2016 to tens of thousands per week across the U.S.

5. The AI stack that’s changing retail personalization

To be forward-looking, brands and retailers are turning to startups in image recognition and machine learning to know, at a very deep level, what each consumer’s current context and personal preferences are and how they evolve. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. These sneakers vibrate

Invented by a man named Brock Seiler, and led by former Beats by Dre CEO Susan Paley, DropLabs aims to take audio to a whole new level by syncing music, movies and other audio to shoes that vibrate the soles of your feet.

7. Elon Musk picks Berlin for Tesla’s Europe Gigafactory

Musk said Tesla is also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin because “I think Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”

❌