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iFactor

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About iFactor

iFactor provides engineering and consulting services. It is based in El Segundo, California.

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2361 Rosecrans Avenue Suite 368

El Segundo, California, 90245,

United States

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All the best VPNs for streaming films from the UK

Jan 24, 2021

NewsAroundUs Published What would we do without films? It’s honestly not worth thinking about. A good film has the ability to capture your attention and keep it for hours, which is especially useful if all you’ve got planned is staying in and doing as little as possible. The good news for anyone planning on a movie marathon is that we’re living through a golden age of streaming services. Nowadays, film buffs can pick from Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and many more sites to get their fix. Put simply, we’re not short of options when it comes to settling down on the sofa for a day sat in front of a screen. SEE ALSO: All the best gaming headsets for your Xbox Series X Read more… More about Movies, Streaming, Vpn, Mashable Shopping, and Consumer Tech IMAGE: Mashable Monthly: £9.80/month CyberGhost VPN Monthly: £10.89/month NordVPN Monthly: £9.20/month PureVPN PureVPN offers subscribers a lot for their money, and if something goes wrong, its customer support has your back. Monthly: £8.63/month Monthly: £9.49/month Comment Published With record funding levels and three unicorns to show, local investors are buoyant about Romania’s prospects heading into 2021. We caught up with eight of them recently, and heard how the country’s technical talent pool, broadband access and low cost of living have positioned it for the era of remote-first global companies across industries. The momentum from last year includes 58 startups that raised total funding of €30.39 million, according to a new report just out from long-time Romanian conference How To Web. This represents a 6% increase in the volume of investments overall, and a 51% increase of investments year on year overall. A significant part of these numbers came from companies raising money for the first time. Key industries include cybersecurity, enterprise software and fintech, with many “super-geeky teams, with deep expertise in the field” as one investor put it. “We are very focused on Romanian founders,” said another. But because of significant emigration in recent years, “they can reside and launch anywhere in the world.” Here are the investors in their own words, for any TechCrunch reader who is interested in hiring, investing or founding a company in the country: Oh, and one more thing. We just launched Extra Crunch in Romania. Subscribe to access all of our investor surveys, company profiles and other inside tech coverage for startups everywhere. Save 25% off a one- or two-year Extra Crunch membership by entering this discount code: ECROMANIA  What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? Given the incipient stage of Romanian ecosystem, our fund is industry agnostic. On a personal note, I’m interested in verticals like supply chain, mobility, proptech, circular/sharing economy. What’s your latest, most exciting investment? Our latest investment is a start-up in the digital fitness industry. Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? I would like to see more solutions in supply chain, as I believed that this industry needs a paradigm shift. What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? 1. Relevant market 2. Good product 3. Excellent team 4. Fit with us Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? I believe that in marketing and finance is difficult to enter or you need something really different. In terms of products/services, marketplaces need to evolve in order to be competitive How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? We are strongly focused on Romania Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? Romanian ecosystem is still in infancy, but with a high velocity and very good prospects for the future. I believe that we will see soon more Romanian unicorns, including from our portfolio How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? As said above – still in early stages, but full of opportunities and going full speed Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? Not for Romania. The ecosystem is still based on few cities like Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and the hubs within those cities Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? Apart from traditional HoReCa (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) businesses and overall trends, we didn’t see much impact. Actually, any start-up that promotes digitization in a specific industry (e.g. proptech) gained momentum in this period. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? We tried to be as normal as possible and maintain a steady flow of business. We advise founders to look after their teams and customers and be careful with cash Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Yes, as mentioned above. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. We always need to be positive and not exaggerate about the pandemic. It will pass. What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? Given our limited geographical scope (we invest only in Romania), we have to have a generic approach and consider many verticals and trends. Just as an example, we are looking at startups applying technologies that reached mass adoption to niche fields: computer vision applied to specific crops (agritech) or applied to in-store customer behaviour (martech); biometric data (collected through wearable devices) applied to group interactions as opposed to single individuals; ultra-light blockchain ledgers applied to smart buildings… From another investment perspective, we are looking to invest in what we call “the infrastructure for innovation” such as startups building APIs — we believe that Romania is not yet API-fied enough. What’s your latest, most exciting investment? The last term sheet we signed was with a startup that is building technology to help enterprise-level companies to better manage their software licenses. Super-geeky team, with deep expertise in the field, creating a lot of value to their customers. Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? I would like to find great teams trying to make in-game payments easier (building at the intersection of payments and gaming), or working on Irrigation-as-a-Service (agritech), or building a NASDAQ for energy. What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? I am looking for founders that are both super competent and brave. Such people will dare tackle big problems and will have a chance to succeed at solving it. Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? I’ve seen too many startups building apps to help people find parking spots, too many marketplaces that no one need, too much off the shelf technology for marketing, too many CRMs and ERPs. How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? We are investing only in Romania — 100% committed to the local ecosystem. Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? I think that, given the natural potential of Romania, agritech has a big chance; still this space is not fully serviced yet. Otherwise, cybersecurity, enterprise software, and fintech are quite well represented. From our portfolio of almost 20 startups, CODA is enabling managed service providers with cybersecurity skills; Humans is building a hub for synthetic media technologies; Mechine is making agricultural equipment speak to each other; Tokinomo is collecting and analyzing data from the shelf (in-store marketing); BunnyShell is building next-gen cloud tech and making it easy for anyone to set up servers in three clicks. How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? The startup ecosystem in Romania is very young, with the first local VC funds established three years ago with support from the European Investment Fund. And yet, Romania is home to three unicorns and many other promising startups. The large technical talent pool, the widely spread broadband access and the low costs of doing business and living turn Romania into a market to keep an eye on. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? I expect founders from the big cities to stay in the big cities as setting up and working for a startup does not mean writing code on the laptop from a remote beach. In the tormenting search for product-market fit, founders need to talk business, visit partners, sign contracts, attend events, meet peers, do surveys, prototype and one thousand other things that cannot be done on Zoom to their full extent. The tech industry and the startupland took a hit from the pandemic as the rest of the world. And just as the rest of the world, they will survive, adapt, and mostly return to the normal interactions from before March 2020. Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? Unfortunately, I saw urban mobility apps suffer from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Also, anything related to restaurants, hotels and conventional events was badly affected. We are invested in startups in these verticals and made everything we could to help them during the worst days of the pandemic. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? Our fund registered a 20% decrease in the numbers of investments in 2020 compared to 2019 and a 40% decrease in the total value of deals; so the impact of COVID was significant. At the same time, in terms of fund performance, 2020 was a good year, with companies in our portfolio raising new investment rounds with outside investors, increasing their valuation, and showing good returns. The first half of 2020 was dedicated to damage control measures and supporting the portfolio companies, but the situation changed towards the end of the year, with high new deals activity in the last quarter (higher than in Q4 2019). VC-backed startups had investors to turn to in harsh times and benefited from support and additional funds when needed; things were much more difficult for the rest of the startups though. Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Probably the first thing we noticed the moment the pandemic started was a peak in productivity. During the months of mandatory shelter at home, the early-stage startups working on their prototypes put in extra-hours and gained speed. Personnel retention was good, people were focused, there was a positive spirit and a general desire to make things happen. Indeed, some startups reported an immediate boost of sales, such as Tokinomo whose robots replace the human promoters in supermarkets. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. The highlight of 2020 was the week I spent on a magnificent yacht sailing with friends through the islands in Greece. It was a recharging moment that gave me a boost for the rest of the year. The next elating moment came in December with the Series A investments that increased our fund’s performance. What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? Startups creating world leading Intellectual Property with Romanian and broader Eastern European founders What’s your latest, most exciting investment? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? Strong committed founders with deep understanding of the domain they are planning to disrupt on a global scale through innovative intellectual property. Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? I think too many people are trying to launch platforms without much understanding of how hard it is to launch it in the absence of a major differentiator. Customer acquisition through other digital marketing platforms is very expensive if there is no other unfair advantage to launch such a platform. How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? We are very focused on Romanian founders — but they can reside and launch anywhere in the world. We have investments in many US-based companies started by Romanian founders. Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? I think Romania is very well positioned to win in cybersecurity and enterprise software as well as AI-based engines. I am very excited about pentest-tools.com, deepstash.com, uniapply.com from our portfolio as well as Fintech OS and TypingDNA that are not in our portfolio. How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Bucharest is a thriving ecosystem with plenty of opportunities ripe for global expansion. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? Indeed we have seen a surge in founders from smaller cities in Romania. We are founding partners of the Innovation Labs pre-accelerator that has a nationwide footprint and we are seeing more and more students interested in becoming founders all over Romania. Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? Mobility solutions are impacted, local players are losing to bigger players like Lime. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? The pandemics delayed a lot of the investments, but we closed them toward the end of the year. Biggest worries for founders is that they have less and less leverage as a startup to attract tech talent. The problem is that the tech people can now work for any company in the world and this skyrocketed their salaries/rates. Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Yes we have seen — some of them benefited from people staying at home and having more time. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. The introduction of the vaccine and the pace at which people are vaccinated in Romania, that is not the fastest but also not the slowest either. An online platform for appointments is up and running and people are using it! What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? Health & wellbeing are areas that “helped” by the pandemic crisis are on brink of transformation and growth. A blend of software and hardware readiness is developing fast together with the openness of clients and regulatory authorities. What’s your latest, most exciting investment? Food delivery services. It is still day 0 with great opportunities ahead in terms of consumer services and business growth: food, ready to cook meals, convenience items, grocery, etc. Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? It is still room to grow on B2C and B2B2C fintech space despite relatively high numbers of startups. How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? Bucharest and Romania in general have great potential when we look at talent pool from tech perspective and are a great place to start to scale regional and globally. How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Great place to come: great infrastructure (internet cost & speed, number of hubs), talent pool and increased number of investments transactions in last 3 years. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? I expect to see a growth but not a surge of founders from other geographies. And I believe thats a good thing for the ecosystem. Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? Travel is both exposed and in the same time with great potential for new startups to come. There will be a “revenge travel” period from consumers but they will look for something different and in the same time business travel will not be the same and this will generate new practices and behaviour. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? We see opportunities to grow and we are allocating more capital for investments and we are advising our startups to invest more and grow faster. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. The start of the vaccine campaign across the globe and the initial results. What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? B2B platforms enabled by ML/automation/AI in fintech, SaaS enterprise software, cybersecurity, healthcare IT, low-code development environments, conversational technologies, automation in logistics What’s your latest, most exciting investment? – Latest investment was DruidAI, announced on January 12th, 2021. GapMinder led a $2.5M round. – Other 2020 exciting new investments or follow-ons: TypingDNA, FintechOS, DeepStash, Soleadify, Machinations, Innoship, Frisbo, Cartloop, XVision What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? – Stage: Seed or Series A – Technology: Automation or conversational technology assisted by ML or AI – Team: Mature with track-record for International expansion; – Product: B2B scalable international, with B2B platforms as main focus Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? Copies of B2C models (from US) that are borne in CEE tend to be limited to small local markets, and evolve into highly crowded environments. Shared economy companies borne in Romania are such examples. Unit economics were simply not attractive for us as VC investor. How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? More than 70% Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? – Models we consider will continue to thrive: B2B platforms enabled by automation/conversational technologies (assisted by ML/AI) have a higher potential for internationalisation vs B2C models. – Reg verticals with higher potential, we mentioned above a few. – GapMinder portfolio exciting companies: FintechOS, TypingDNA, DeepStash, DruidAI, Soleadify, Machinations, Innoship, Frisbo, Cartloop, SmartDreamers, XVision, among others How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Romania (in cities such as Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov, Oradea and Iasi) is a high-opportunity market, with excellent teams, startups borne with international vision, excellent environment for automation and ML enabled projects. The ecosystem becomes more mature, from coverage of pre-seed rounds towards Series A, while not overcrowded yet. Overall, a high opportunity environment for Series B and late Series A investors from US or rest of Europe. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? The hubs are concentrated in terms of education pool, potential customers (B2B or more sophisticated B2C) to test new products, potential investors on the pre-seed phase that are crucial for the initial steps of start-up developments. For more advanced start-ups, hyper-growth is important, therefore the capability to scale up and go international might be helped by the presence in certain hubs. In other words, there is a complex mix that the hubs are offering. So, at Romanian level, we do not expect a diminishing role of the hubs. At European or US level, it is debatable if main hubs are too overcrowded or over-expensive for the teams. However, the business growth potential for the more advanced start-ups is important. Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? The behaviour of users, both internal and external, has migrated towards a need for autonomy, which drives the need for: – Tools that allow conversational interactions (including in natural language) with evolved human like feeling – Remote collaborative low code development tools – A general need for all companies (from the smallest ones to enterprise) to move yesterday to digital interactions In 2020 a lot of consumers and companies were forced to focus on core priorities, and move to secondary focus the “nice-to-have” services or products. The VCs have seen even a sharper delimitation between high-tech and tech-enabled companies, not to mention some “interesting” proofs of Fake Tech. This shift has impacted lots of verticals, and such shift might be here to stay. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? GapMinder’s strategy described above is focussed on companies that actually have been benefiting from the tide of urgency in accelerating digital transformations of companies. And we seen it in the 2x-3x growth of most of our portfolio companies in 2020. Our advices to our portfolio companies have been simple: 1. Cash is king. Make sure you have an 18 months minimum runway. If an opportunity to raise, seriously consider it. 2. Customers are the most important partners you have. Listen to them 3. The team is your most important asset. Keep it close and take care of it in these daring times. 4. Act fast Of course, on top of the above, we had very specific conversations with each team. To be candid, this all looks good at the end of 2020, but the first half of 2020 has been intense for founders in our portfolio and filled with doubts about decisional freeze in some verticals, stress on implementation in international markets wherever travel was needed, alignment between teams inside larger companies. Looking back, this was just normal. We feel fortunate to be part of the life of such great teams and start-ups, that proved so good during tough times. Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Yes, we already felt signs of recovery in second half of 2020, especially Q4. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. Starting at scale the vaccination against COVID-19 in last 6 weeks is definitely the most important positive sign at human level, society level, but also from a pure business perspective. In our team, GapMinder, we feel optimistic! What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? HealthTech Oncochain Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? Team, idea, traction How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? 50% Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? Sanopass; Oncochain ( our portfolio); Fintech ( Fintech OS – Teodeor Blidarus; Sergiu Negut) How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Very dynamic yet at an early stage Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? No. Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? Telemedicine – advantage; dentistry – exposed; How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? No impact due COVID; biggest worries are related to teams maturity & to market capacity to absorb new ideas fast enough; my advice is to look for know-how and try to grow as fast as possible Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Definitely I see “green shoots” What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. Much better evaluation of one of our investments after only few months Edutech, energy, deeptech Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? eCommerce marketplaces, some service areas, mobility How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? Our thesis has a goal of a 40% distribution of the AuM in Romania Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? Positive industry outlook – edutech, medtech, fintech, logistics; Exciting companies – Fintech OS, Medicai, Kinderpedia, iFactor and a few others. Negative industry outlook – marketplaces, Deeptech, gaming (in terms of funding, not talent), advertising How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Growing ecosystem with a large technical talent pool but in need of true entrepreneurial education, experience and mentality. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? Yes and no, in more established ecosystems a surge in founders coming from geographies outside major cities might be an outcome, the onset of remote work will bring a major boost to startups, although talented technical employees will become more and more difficult to onboard. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? Our investment strategy remains unchanged, the most commons worries of founders in our portfolio are linked to attracting new funding partners, lack of foresight in some target markets and difficulty in finding employees in certain verticals. We don’t have a general advice for all our startups, it’s case by case, we advise some to pivot, others to start conversion efforts on their large customer base and others to launch in new geographies. Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Yes What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. The openness to adopt new technologies and try new things from well-known conservative verticals such as education. Matei Dumitrescu , Founding Partner, Smart Impact Capital What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally? Impact, health, energy iFactor, Ringhel, Sanopass Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now? Yes, there are: impact startups What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? Impact, innovation, scalability Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about? Marcom, ecomm, marketplaces How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less? Almost 100% focused on local startups with a global view Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not long-term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? Tech, ehealth. Medicai and its founder Mircea Popa are examples of great potential. How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city? Bucharest is booming, the market in getting bigger, the VCs are growing, the number of new initiatives is dramatically increased. Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work? No, but remote work is possible Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times? We had an opportunity with e-education and e-health. However, sharing economy was exposed to problems. How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now? Our startups were already agile, working remote and selling through digital channels digital products or services. Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic? Yes, we do. What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two. There wasn’t such moment. Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers? We invest in IMPACT, because the impact creates VALUE, and that is what people pay for! Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday confirmed it extended a ban on new video being added to US President Donald Trump’s channel due to the potential for inciting violence. The weeklong suspension of uploading or streaming live video to Trump’s channel had been set to lift on the eve of President-elect Joe Biden taking the oath of office. “In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, the Donald J. Trump channel will be prevented from uploading new videos or livestreams for an additional minimum of seven days,” YouTube said in response to an AFP inquiry. “As we shared previously, comments will continue to be indefinitely disabled under videos from the channel.” Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC on January 6. Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest aimed at Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. YouTube last week suspended Trump’s channel “for at least seven days” and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after the deadly Capitol riot. Facebook suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory. In announcing the suspension, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violence and was concerned he would continue to do so. Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings. Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch. Trump, who has not appeared in public for a week, broke days of silence on Tuesday with a pre-recorded farewell video address uploaded to a White House channel at YouTube. Trump for the first time asked Americans to “pray” for the success of the incoming Biden administration — a change of tune from weeks spent persuading his huge number of Republican followers that the Democrat cheated in their election battle. Trump has yet to personally congratulate Biden on his win or invite him for the customary cup of tea in the Oval Office. The supporters of Trump who attacked the US Capitol were “provoked” by the president and “fed lies,” Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 following a speech by the president outside the White House in which he repeated his false claims to have won the election. At least five people died in the mayhem. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives impeached Trump on January 13 for “inciting insurrection” and he faces a potential trial in the Senate after he leaves office on Wednesday. Does WhatsApp’s new privacy policy spell the end for your privacy? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts , Google Podcasts , or RSS , download the episode , or just hit the play button below. Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy. The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. This week, we’re looking into how President Biden’s inauguration impacted news apps, the latest in the Parler lawsuit, and how TikTok’s app continues to shape culture, among other things. Judge says Amazon doesn’t have to host Parler on AWS Logos for AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Parler. Image Credits: TechCrunch U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle this week ruled that Amazon won’t be required to restore access to web services to Parler. As you may recall, Parler sued Amazon for booting it from AWS’ infrastructure, effectively forcing it offline. Like Apple and Google before it, Amazon had decided that the calls for violence that were being spread on Parler violated its terms of service. It also said that Parler showed an “unwillingness and inability” to remove dangerous posts that called for the rape, torture and assassination of politicians, tech executives and many others, the AP reported . Amazon’s decision shouldn’t have been a surprise for Parler. Amazon had reported 98 examples of Parler posts that incited violence over the past several weeks before its decision. It told Parler these were clear violations of the terms of service. Parler’s lawsuit against Amazon, however, went on to claim breach of contract and even made antitrust allegations. The judge shot down Parler’s claims that Amazon and Twitter were colluding over the decision to kick the app off AWS. Parler’s claims over breach of contract were denied, too, as the contract had never said Amazon had to give Parler 30 days to fix things. (Not to mention the fact that Parler breached the contract on its side, too.) It also said Parler had fallen short in demonstrating the need for an injunction to restore access to Amazon’s web services. The ruling only blocks Parler from forcing Amazon to again host it as the lawsuit proceeds, but is not the final ruling in the overall case, which is continuing. TikTok drives another pop song to No. 1 on Billboard charts, breaks Spotify’s record We already knew TikTok was playing a large role in influencing music charts and listening behavior. For example, Billboard last year noted how TikTok drove hits from Sony artists like Doja Cat (“Say So”) and 24kGoldn (“Mood”), and helped Sony discover new talent. Columbia also signed viral TikTok artists like Lil Nas X, Powfu, StaySolidRocky, Jawsh 685, Arizona Zervas and 24kGoldn. Meanwhile, Nielsen has said that no other app had helped break more songs in 2020 than TikTok. This month, we’ve witnessed yet another example of this phenomenon. Olivia Rodrigo, the 17-year-old star of Disney+’s “High School Musical: The Musical: the Series” released her latest song, “Drivers License” on January 8. The pop ballad and breakup anthem is believed to be referencing the actress’ relationship with co-star Joshua Bassett, which gave the song even more appeal to fans. Upon its release the song was heavily streamed by TikTok users, which helped make it an overnight sensation of sorts. According to a report by The WSJ , Billboard counted 76.1 million streams and 38,000 downloads in the U.S. during the week of its release. It also made a historic debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 , becoming the first smash hit of 2021. On January 11, “Drivers License” broke Spotify’s record for most streams per day (for a non-holiday song) with 15.17 million global streams. On TikTok, meanwhile, the number of videos featuring the song and the views they received doubled every day, The WSJ said. Charli D’Amelio’s dance to it on the app has now generated 5 million “Likes” across nearly 33 million views, as of the time of writing. Of course, other TikTok hits have broken out in the past, too — even reaching No. 1 like “Blinding Lights” (The Weeknd) and “Mood” (24kGoldn). But the success of “Drivers License” may be in part due to the way it focuses on a subject that’s more relevant to TikTok’s young, teenage user base. It talks about first loves and being dumped for the other girl. And its title and opening refer to a time many adults have forgotten: the momentous day when you get your driver’s license. It’s highly relatable to the TikTok crowd who fully embraced it and made it a hit. Platforms: Apple Apple stops signing iOS 12.5, making iOS 12.5.1 the only versions of iOS available to older devices. A report claims Apple’s iOS 15 update will cut support for devices with an A9 chip, like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus and the original iPhone SE. New analysis estimates Apple’s upcoming iOS privacy changes will cause a roughly 7% revenue hit for Facebook in Q2. The revenue hit will continue in following quarters and will be “material.” Platforms: Google Google adds “trending” icons to the Play Store. New arrow icons appeared in the Top Charts tab , which indicate whether an app’s downloads are trending up or down, in terms of popularity. This could provide an early signal about those that may still be rising in the charts or beginning to fall out of favor, despite their current high position. Google appears to be working on a Restricted Networking mode for Android 12. The mode, discovered by XDA Developers digging in the Android Open Source Project, would disable network access for all third-party apps. Gaming Goama (or Go Games) introduced a way for developers to integrate social games into their apps, which was showcased at CES. The company focuses on Asia and Latin America and has more than 15 partners, including GCash and Rappi, for digital payments and communications. Fortnite maker Epic Games is getting into movies. The animated feature film Gilgamesh will use Epic’s Unreal Engine technology to tell the story of the king-turned-deity. The movie is not an in-house project, but rather is financed through Epic’s $100M MegaGrants fund. Augmented Reality Patents around Apple’s AR and VR efforts describe how a system could be identified in a way that’s similar to FaceID, then either permitted or denied the ability to change their appearance in the game. Pinterest launches AR try-on for eyeshadow in its mobile app using Lens technology and ModiFace data. The app already offered AR try-on for lipsticks. Entertainment The CW app became the No. 1 app on the App Store this week, topping TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, thanks to CW’s season premieres of Batwoman, All American, Riverdale and Nancy Drew. YouTube launches hashtag landing pages on the web and in its mobile app. The pages are accessible when you click hashtags on YouTube, not via search, and weirdly rank the “best” videos through some inscrutable algorithm. Apple’s Podcasts app adds a new editorial feature, Apple Podcasts Spotlight, meant to increase podcast listening by showcasing the best podcasts as selected by Apple editors. E-commerce WeChat facilitated 1.6 trillion yuan (close to $250 billion) in annual transactions through its “mini programs” in 2020. The figure is more than double that of 2019. Fintech Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, launched an e-wallet, Douyin Pay. The wallet will supplement the existing payment options, Alipay and WeChat Pay, and will help to support the Douyin app’s growing e-commerce business. Neobank Monzo founder Tom Blomfield left the startup, saying he struggled during the pandemic. “I think [for] a lot of people in the world…going through a pandemic, going through lockdown and the isolation involved in that has an impact on people’s mental health,” he told TechCrunch. New estimates indicate about 50% of the iPhone user base (or 507 million users) now use Apple Pay. Samsung’s newest phones drop support for MST , which emulates a mag stripe at terminals that don’t support NFC. Social Indian messaging app, StickerChat, owned by Hike, is shutting down. Founder Kavin Bharti Mittal said India will never have a homegrown messenger unless it bars Western companies from its market. Hike pivoted this month to virtual social apps, Vibe and Rush, which it believes have more potential. Instagram head Adam Mosseri, in a Verge podcast, said he’s not happy with Reels so far, and how he feels most people probably don’t understand the difference between Instagram video and IGTV. He says the social network needs to simplify and consolidate ideas. Facebook and Instagram improve their accessibility features. The apps’ AI-generated image captions now offer far more details about who or what is in the photos, thanks to improvements in image recognition systems. TikTok launches a Q&A feature that lets creators respond to fan questions using text or videos. The feature, rolled out to select creators with more than 10,000 followers, makes it easier to see all the questions in one place. Health & Fitness Health and fitness app spending jumped 70% last year in Europe to record $544 million, a Sensor Tower report says . The year-over-year increase is far larger than 2019, when growth was just 37.2%. COVID-19 played a large role in this shift as people turned to fitness apps instead of gyms to stay in shape. Government & Policy Biden’s inauguration boosted installs of U.S. news apps up to 170%, Sensor Tower reported . CNN was the biggest mover, climbing 530 positions to reach No. 41 on the App Store, and up 170% in terms of downloads. News Break was the second highest, climbing 13 positions to No. 65. Right-wing outlet Newsmax climbed 43 spots to reach No. 108. In 2020, the top news apps were: News Break (23.7 million installs); SmartNews (9 million); CNN (5 million); and Fox News (4 million). This month, however, News Break saw 1.2 million installs, followed by Newsmax with about 863,000 installs, the report said. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) sent a draft decision to fellow EU Data Protection Authorities over the WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing policy. This means a decision on the matter is coming closer to a resolution in terms of what standards of transparency is required by WhatsApp. German app developer Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents filed a complaint with the EU , U.S. DOJ and other antitrust watchdogs around the world over Apple and Google’s rejection of his COVID-related mobile game. Both stores had policies to only approve official COVID-19 apps from health authorities. Mueller renamed the game Viral Days and removed references to the novel coronavirus to get the app approved. However, he still feels the stores’ rules are holding back innovation. Productivity Basecamp’s Hey, which famously fought back against Apple’s App Store rules over IAP last year, has launched a business-focused platform, Hey for Work , expected to be public in Q1. The app has more App Store ratings than rival Superhuman, a report found. Currently, Hey has a 4.7-star rating across 3.3K reviews; Superhuman has 3.9 rating across only 274 reviews. Trends Baby boomers are increasingly using apps. Baby boomers/Gen Xers in the U.S. spent 30% more time year-over-year in their most used apps, App Annie reports. That’s a larger increase than either Millennials or Gen Z, at 18% and 16%, respectively. Curtsy, a clothing resale app for Gen Z women, raised an $11 million Series A led by Index Ventures. The app tackles some of the problems with online resale by sending shipping supplies and labels to sellers, and by making the marketplace accessible to new and casual sellers. Storytelling platform Wattpad acquired by South Korea’s Naver for $600 million. The reading apps whose stories have turned into book and Netflix hits will be incorporated into Naver’s publishing platform Webtoon. On-demand delivery app Glovo partnered with Swiss-based real estate firm, Stoneweg, which is investing €100 million in building and refurbishing real estate in key markets to build out Glovo’s network of “dark stores.” Pocket Casts app is up for sale. The podcast app was acquired nearly three years ago by a public radio consortium of top podcast producers (NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life). The owners have now agreed to sell the app , which posted a net loss in 2020. (NPR’s share of the loss was over $800,000.) Travel app Maps.me raised $50 million in a round led by Alameda Research. The funding will go toward the launch of a multi-currency wallet. Cryptocurrency lender Genesis Capital and institutional cryptocurrency firm CMS Holdings also participated in the round, Coindesk reported . Bangalore-based hyperlocal delivery app Dunzo raised $40 million in a round that included investment from Google, Lightbox, Evolvence, Hana Financial Investment, LGT Lightstone Aspada and Alteria. London-based food delivery app Deliveroo raised $180 million  in new funding from existing investors, led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management, valuing the business at more than $7 billion. Dating Group acquired Swiss startup Once, a dating app that sends one match per day, for $18 million. Bodyguard Image Credits: Bodyguard A French content moderation app called Bodyguard , detailed here by TechCrunch, has brought its service to the English-speaking market. The app allows you to choose the level of content moderation you want to see on top social networks, like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. You can choose to hide toxic content across a range of categories, like insults, body shaming, moral harassment, sexual harassment, racism and homophobia and indicate whether the content is a low or high priority to block. Beeper Image Credits: Beeper Pebble’s founder and current YC Partner Eric Migicovsky has launched a new app, Beeper, that aims to centralize in one interface 15 different chat apps, including iMessage. The app relies on an open-source federated, encrypted messaging protocol called Matrix that uses “bridges” to connect to the various networks to move the messages. However, iMessage support is more wonky, as the company actually ships you an old iPhone to make the connection to the network. But this system allows you to access Beeper on non-Apple devices, the company says. The app is slowly onboarding new users due to initial demand. The app works across MacOS, Windows, Linux‍, iOS and Android and charges $10/mo for the service.

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