Posted on

How to set up your nice camera as a high-quality webcam in 5 minutes

Everyone needs a webcam these days, whether for business meetings or the distant socializing accomplished via video calling — but if you’re like most, you’re using the built-in camera on your laptop or some piece of junk from years ago. But if you happen to have a nice big-brand camera, it’s possible to set it up as a standalone webcam and produce imagery that will be the envy of your friends and colleagues, with nothing more than a bit of software.

Our guide to setting up a professional-looking home webcam solution with lighting, audio and all the other fixins is here, but getting your DSLR or mirrorless camera hooked up to your computer isn’t as simple as it ought to be.

Now, you could spend $100 or so to get a capture card or dongle that converts your camera’s signal to HDMI, and be done with it. But if you want to be up and running a few minutes from now, here are the software-only solutions for your camera and OS — if any.

Surprisingly, you can’t just take a camera released in the last couple years and plug it into your computer and expect it to work. So far only Canon, Fujifilm and Panasonic provide free webcam functionality to at least one desktop OS. For Nikon, Sony and Olympus, you may have to pay or put up with a watermark.

Here are the easiest ways to put each brand of camera to work. (Spoiler warning: For Macs, it’s mostly Cascable. I’ll mention that a few more times because people are probably just scrolling past this to their brand.)

Canon: EOS Webcam Utility

Canon released this software just a couple weeks ago and it’s still in beta, so there may be a few hiccups — but it supports both Windows and Apple machines and a good variety of camera bodies. There’s even some extra documentation and tutorials for the app at its microsite.

Compatibility is pretty good, working with any of their camera bodies from the last 3-4 years: the Rebel T6-T7i, T100, SL2, SL3, 5D Mk IV, 5DS, 5DS R, 6D Mk II, 7D Mk II, 77D, 80D, 90D, 1D X Mark II and Mark III, M6 Mk II, M50, M200, R, RP, PowerShot G5X Mk II, G7X Mk III and SX70 HS. Download the software here.

If you’re having trouble, check out the third-party apps listed for other brands below and see if you have more luck.

Fujifilm: X Webcam

Fujifilm’s solution is easy, but a bit limited. The popular X100 series is not supported, and Macs are left out in the cold as well. But if you have one of the company’s more recent interchangeable-lens bodies and a Windows 10 machine, you’re golden. Just install and plug in your camera with a normal USB cable.

Compatibility includes the X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, X-H1, GFX100, GFX 50R and GFX 50S. Get that medium format setup going right and your eyes will be in focus but not your ears. Download the software here.

This guy really did Mac users a favor.

For Macs, Cascable is a useful bit of Mac software that acts as a bridge to your camera for a variety of purposes, and the author just added webcam capability. It has wide compatibility for both wired and wireless connections, and provides broader functionality than Fuji’s own software, but it isn’t free. But the current $30 price is probably less than you’d pay if you opted for a nice webcam instead.

If you’re confident fiddling around in command lines, this tutorial tells you how to get a Fuji camera working on Macs with a bit of fiddling around and some other third-party software.

Panasonic: Lumix Tether

That’s it. That’s the image they provided.

Panasonic just made the webcam-capable version of their Lumix Tether Windows app available, and you can tell from the paucity of the documentation that it’s a pretty bare-bones solution. The price is right, though. It works with the GH5, G9, GH5S, S1, S1R and S1H. The company also posted a helpful start-to-finish tutorial on how to get going with streaming software like OBS here:

[embedded content]

Cascable works well with a variety of Panasonic cameras, far more than the official app, even some superzooms that could be really fun to play with in this context.

Sony

There’s no official software to turn your Sony cameras into webcams, so if you want a one-stop solution you have to jump straight into third-party options. On Windows, there is a sort of workaround that uses Sony Remote to tether the image and then hijack it into streaming software; this video explains it well. It’s not ideal, but it’s something.

Cascable on Mac is again your best bet there, with support reaching back several generations to cameras like the NEX series and RX100 III. Ecamm Live also has limited Sony compatibility, but only supports the latest bodies. It’s $12 per month, but there’s a free trial if you want to give it a go first.

Olympus

It’s the same story for Olympus on Windows. There’s no official support, but you may be able to use tethering software to collect the live view image and forward that to the streaming software.

On Mac, Cascable has wired support for many more Oly bodies, including Stylus cameras and the retro-style PEN F, which will probably resent being used for such a modern purpose. Ecamm Live has compatibility with the latest bodies — the E-M1 II, III and X, and the E-M5 original and Mk II. No go on the PEN series, unfortunately.

Nikon

Surprisingly, while Nikon recently put up a rather helpful page on streaming using its cameras, it doesn’t produce any of the software itself, referring the reader to a variety of third-party programs.

As before, Cascable seems like the easiest way to get your Nikon working with a Mac, and SparkoCam is a frequent recommendation for Windows.

Warnings to the webcam-curious

These methods may be easy, but they’re not completely without issues.

One potential problem is heat. These cameras were designed primarily for capturing stills and short video clips. Running full time for extended periods can result in the camera getting too hot to function and shutting down. A camera shouldn’t damage itself seriously, but it’s something to be aware of. The best way to avoid this is using a dummy battery with a power adapter — these are pretty easy to find, and will mitigate overheating.

Audio also may not be as nice as the image. For people doing serious video work, an external mic is almost always used, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Considering a solid mic can be had for under $50 and should provide a substantial upgrade to your device’s built-in one, there’s no reason not to take the plunge.

You may also want to check a few forums for the best settings to use for the camera, from making sure it doesn’t turn off after a few minutes to exposure choices. For instance, since you’re not doing stills, you don’t need to worry about sharpness, so you can shoot wide open. But then you’ll need to make sure autofocus is working quickly and accurately, or you’ll end up lost in the bokeh. Check around, try a few different setups, and go with what works best in your situation.

And when you’re ready to take the next step, consult our more thorough guide to setting the scene.

Read More

Posted on

You can now install the first beta of Android 11

After a series of developer previews, Google today released the first beta of Android 11, and with that, it is also making these pre-release versions available for over-the-air updates. This time around, the list of supported devices only includes the Pixel 2, 3, 3a and 4.

If you’re brave enough to try this early version (and I wouldn’t do so on your daily driver until a few more people have tested it), you can now enroll here. Like always, Google is also making OS images available for download and an updated emulator is available, too.

Google says the beta focuses on three key themes: people, controls and privacy.

Like in previous updates, Google once again worked on improving notifications — in this case, conversation notifications, which now appear in a dedicated section at the top of the pull-down shade. From there, you will be able to take actions right from inside the notification or ask the OS to remind you of this conversation at a later time. Also new is built-in support in the notification system for what are essentially chat bubbles, which messaging apps can now use to notify you even as you are working (or playing) in another app.

Another new feature is consolidated keyboard suggestions. With these, Autofill apps and Input Method Editors (think password managers and third-party keyboards), can now securely offer context-specific entries in the suggestion strip. Until now, enabling autofill for a password manager, for example, often involved delving into multiple settings and the whole experience often felt like a bit of a hack.

For those users who rely on voice to control their phones, Android now uses a new on-device system that aims to understand what is on the screen and then automatically generates labels and access points for voice commands.

As for controls, Google is now letting you long-press the power button to bring up controls for your smart home devices (though companies that want to appear in this new menu need to make use of Google’s new API for this). In one of the next beta releases, Google will also enable media controls that will make it easier to switch the output device for their audio and video content.

In terms of privacy, Google is adding one-time permissions so that an app only gets access to your microphone, camera or location once, as well as auto-resets for permissions when you haven’t used an app for a while.

A few months ago, Google said that developers would need to get a user’s approval to access background location. That caused a bit of a stir among developers and now Google will keep its current policies in place until 2021 to give developers more time to update their apps.

In addition to these user-facing features, Google is also launching a series of updates aimed at Android developers. You can read more about them here.

Read More

Posted on

Apple could reportedly announce Mac shift to its own ARM-based chips this month

For years now, analysts and unconfirmed reports have suggested Apple was working on transitioning its Mac line of computers away from Intel -based chips, and to its own, ARM-based processors. Now, Bloomberg reports that the company could make those plans official as early as later this month, with an announcement potentially timed for its remote Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) happening the week of June 22.

Apple has historically made a number of announcements at WWDC, including providing forward-looking information about its software roadmap, like upcoming versions of macOS and iOS, in order to help developers prepare their software for the updates’ general public availability. WWDC has also provided a venue for a number of Mac hardware announcements over the years, including reveals of new MacBooks and iMacs.

Bloomberg says this potential reveal of its plan to transition to ARM-based Macs would be an advance notice, however — it would not include a reveal of any immediately available hardware, but would act as an advance notice to developers to give them time to prepare their software for ARM-based Macs to be released in 2021. The report cautions that the timing of the announcement could change, however, given that there are no plans to actually introduce any ARM-based Mac hardware for many months at least.

This isn’t the first major processor architecture switch that Apple’s Mac lineup has undergone; the company moved from PowerPC-based CPUs to Intel in 2006. That switch was originally announced in 2005, at Apple’s WWDC event that year — giving developers around half-a-year advance notice to ready themselves for the transition.

Bloomberg reported in April that Apple was planning to start selling ARM-based Macs by next year, and was developing three different in-house Mac processors based on the architecture to power those machines. Apple has made its own ARM-based processors to power iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad for many generations now, and its expertise means that those chips are now much more power efficient, and powerful in most respects, than the Intel chips it sources for its Mac line.

Read More

Posted on

Nvidia’s top scientist develops open-source ventilator that can be built with $400 in readily available parts

Nvidia Chief Scientist Bill Dally has released an open-source ventilator hardware design he developed in order to address the shortage resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic. The mechanical ventilator design developed by Dally can be assembled quickly, using off-the-shelf parts with a total cost of around $400 — making it an accessible and affordable alternative to traditional, dedicated ventilators, which can cost $20,000 or more.

The design created by Dally strives for simplicity, and basically includes just two central components — a solenoid valve and a microcontroller. The design is called the OP-Vent, and in the video below you can see how bare-bones it is in terms of hardware compared to existing alternatives, including some of the other more complex emergency-use ventilator designs developed in response to COVID-19.

[embedded content]

Dally’s design, which was developed using input from mechanical engineers and doctors, including Dr. Andrew Moore, a chief resident at Stanford University and Dr. Bryant Lin, a medical devices expert and company co-founder, can be assembled in as little as five minutes, and is small enough to fit in a Pelican case for easy transportation and potability. It also employs fewer parts and uses less energy than similarly simple designs that adapt the manual breather bags used by paramedics in emergency response.

Next up for the design is getting it cleared by the FDA under the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization program for COVID-19 equipment, and then seeking manufacturing partners to pursue large-scale manufacturing.

Read More

Posted on

Rode’s new white Wireless GO and accessories extend the flexibility of the most versatile creator mic

Sound industry leader Rode has done an amazing job keeping up with the needs of the fast-moving creator industry, supporting YouTubers, podcasters and Instagram and Tik Tok media mavens with a host of new products at impressive price points. The Rode Wireless GO mic system might be the most impressive of these, taking the quality you’d expect from a more expensive wireless mic pack system formerly reserved for broadcast pros and bringing it to the masses at a very compelling price point, with easy setup and use. Now, Rode has introduced a new white version of the Rode Wireless GO, along with new accessories that increase the flexibility of the already very flexible audio device.

I’ve been a fan of the Wireless GO since its launch, and previously used the original black version in a number of different capacities. The white version doesn’t mess with anything that was great about the original — it just gives you a light-colored option that is more suitable for use with light clothes when you’re shooting video. If you’re not already familiar with the Wireless GO, what you get in the box is a transmitter and a receiver (with built-in clips on the back for attachment to clothing), each of which charges via USB-C, along with wind filters, charging cables, a 3.5mm audio cable and a carrying case.

Out of the box, the receiver and transmitter are synced, so all you need to do is power them on to get started. The transmitter comes with a mic built-in, so you can immediately clip it to your collar to get started transmitting sound. The receiver pack can easily slide right into the cold shoe mount on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and the included standard audio cable can connect from it to the camera’s mic input for direct recording.

The Rode Wireless GO’s USB-C port acts as an audio output, too, so you can use either a USB-C headset or a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter to get direct audio monitoring from the pack, too. On the transmitter side, there’s a 3.5mm input so you can connect a lavalier (or any other) mic to up your audio game even further. Speaking of lavs, Rode also introduced a new white version of its own Lavalier GO lapel mic, which is also a fantastic, affordable option that produces very high-quality results. Below, you can hear both the sound direct from the GO itself, and a sample using the Lavalier GO attached to the transmitter.

The versatility of the Wireless GO means that they’re incredibly useful for a wide range of uses. For instance, I have them connected into a USB audio interface on my main work Mac for use during video calls — I just power them up when it comes time to conference, and no one has to deal with muffled or low-quality audio from my end in terms of clarity and ease of understanding. On the road, the Wireless GO is also a great option for podcasting, providing much better sound than what you can get out of wireless earbuds or built-in device mics. And they’re extremely portable, unlike most USB mics that would also provide a good alternative.

Rode has also debuted a couple of accessories alongside this launch that make them great for even more use cases. The Interview GO adapter, for instance, allows you to mount the transmitter on a handheld mic grip, turning it into a stick mic complete with foam filter to reduce wind sounds and plosives. That means one less mic to carry around when you’re doing on-camera interviews with passersby, or participating in a media scrum.

There’s also a new magnetic clip attachment that means you can easily adapt the Rode Wireless GO transmitter pack to clip anywhere on a subject’s clothing, rather than requiring that it clip to a collar or exposed seam. This is huge for placement flexibility with any outfit, and can help with hiding the pack, too, if you’re looking to get a clean video shot.

Rode’s Wireless GO can also perform some neat tricks that could help with other audio applications, including being able to act as a latency-free wireless converter for any set of headphones. You can connect any input to the 3.5mm port on the transmitter, and then connect a set of headphones to the receiver and get that input piped to you directly.

It’s hard to find any mic system that’s truly a jack-of-all-trades without also having to deal with significant trade-offs in one department or another, but the Rode Wireless GO is pretty near perfect for a range of use at a price point that’s hard to beat. The GO itself costs $199, while the Lavalier GO is $79. The MagClip magnet clip for the transmitter is $19, and the Interview GO handheld mic adapter is $29.

Read More

Posted on

How this startup built and exited to Twitter in 1,219 days

By the summer of 2016, Marie Outtier had spent eight years as a consultant advising media agencies and martech companies on marketing growth strategy.

Pierre-Jean “PJ” Camillieri started as a music software engineer before joining one of Apple’s consumer electronics divisions. Inspired by Siri, he left to start Timista, a smart lifestyle assistant.

When the two joined forces to co-found Aiden.ai, the combination was potent — one was a consummate marketer, the other, a specialist in machine learning. Their goal: create an AI-driven marketing analyst that offered actionable advice in real time.

Humans who manage ad campaigns must analyze vast amounts of numbers, but Outtier and Camillieri envisioned a tool that could make optimization recommendations in real time. Analytics are vast and unwieldy, so theirs was a no-brainer proposition with a market crying out for solutions.

The company’s first office was at Bloom Space in Gower Street, London. It was just a handful of hot desks and a nearby sofa shared with four other startups. That summer, they began in earnest to build the company. A few months later, they had a huge opportunity when the still 100% bootstrapped company was selected for Techcrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield competition.

Interviewed by TechCrunch, they explained their proposition: Marketers wanted to know where a digital marketing campaign was getting the most traction: Twitter or Facebook. You might need to check several dashboards across multiple accounts, plus Google analytics to compile the data — and even if you conclude that one platform is outperforming the other, that might change next week as users shift attention to Instagram, potentially wasting 60% of ad spend.

Aiden was intended to feel like just another co-worker, relying on natural language processing to make the exchange feel chatty and comfortable. It queried data from multiple dashboards and quickly compiled it into flash charts, making it easy to find and digest.

Eventually, instead of managing 10 clients, marketing analysts would be able to manage 50 using dynamic predictions as well as visualizations. Aiden incorporated Outtier’s expertise into its algorithms so it could suggest how to tweak a Facebook campaign and anticipate what was going to happen.

Was appearing at Disrupt a significant moment? “It was a big deal for us,” says Outtier. “The exposure gave us ammunition to raise our first round. And being part of the Disrupt Battlefield alumni gave us many meaningful networking and PR opportunities.”

A few weeks later the company had raised a seed round of $750,000. But not without difficulty. By this time Outtier was in the latter stages of pregnancy. Raising money under these circumstances was difficult, but, she says, “it can be done. It’s tougher than ‘normal circumstances.’ It’s a bit like running a marathon, but with a fridge on your back.”

Read More

Posted on

Facebook now allows users in the US & Canada to export photos and videos to Google Photos

Facebook is today rolling out a tool that will allow users in the U.S. and Canada to export their Facebook photos and videos to Google Photos. This data portability tool was first introduced in Ireland in December, and has since been made available to other international markets.

To use the feature, Facebook users will need to click on “Settings,” followed by “Your Facebook Information,” then “Transfer a Copy of Your Photos and Videos.” Facebook will ask you to verify your password to confirm your identity in order to proceed. On the next screen, you’ll be able to choose “Google Photos” as the destination from the “Choose Destination” drop-down box that appears. You’ll also need your Google account information to authenticate with its service before the transfer begins.

The tool’s release comes about by way of Facebook’s participation in the Data Transfer Project, a collaborative effort with other tech giants, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, which focuses on building out common ways for people to transfer their data between online services.

Of course, it also serves as a way for the major tech companies to fend off potential regulation, as they’ll be able to point to tools like this as a way to prove they’re not holding their users hostage — if people are unhappy, they can just take their data and leave!

Facebook’s Director of Privacy and Public Policy Steve Satterfield, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, essentially confirmed the tool is less about Facebook being in service to its users, and more about catering to policymakers’ and regulators’ demands.

“…It really is an important part of the response to the kinds of concerns that drive antitrust regulation or competition regulation,” Satterfield told the news outlet.

The launch also arrives conveniently ahead of a Federal Trade Commission hearing on September 22 that will be focused on data portability. Facebook said it would participate in that hearing, if approached, the report noted.

In Facebook’s original announcement about the tool’s launch last year, it said it would expand the service to include more than just Google Photos in the “near future.”

The transfer tool is not the only way to get your data out of Facebook. The company has offered Download Your Information since 2010. But once you have your data, there isn’t much else you can do with it — Facebook hasn’t had any large-scale rivals since older social networks like Myspace, FriendFeed (RIP!) and Friendster died and Google+ failed.

In addition to the U.S. and Canada, the photo transfer tool has been launched in several other markets, including Europe and Latin America.

Read More

Posted on

Twitter Q1: sales up 3% to $808M as it swings to a loss on COVID-19, mDAUS hit record 166M

Despite traffic for many online properties being at an all-time high, advertising has fallen off a cliff because of the downturn in consumer activity outside the home and the wider economic pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. And today, Twitter reported quarterly earnings that bore this trend out.

The ad-based social networking and media company said that in Q1 it made $808 million in revenues, actually up 3% on a year ago, with monetizable daily active users (Twitter’s own metric for measuring its audience) grew 24% to 166 million, an all-time high, adding 14 million average mDAUs since Q4 (152 million) and 32 million since Q1 of last year (134 million).

However, operating income for the quarter swung to a loss of $7 million, working out to a net margin of -1% and diluted EPS of -$0.01.

Analysts had expected, on average, to see $775.96 million in revenues on earnings per share of $0.10, so Twitter beat on sales, and missed on earnings. (Note: Twitter’s analyst consensus, provided to journalists, was a little different and painted a more positive picture: it noted average EPS expectations were -$0.02 on sales of $776 million, with expectations of mDAUs at 164 million. Twitter says that its figures are based on non-GAAP numbers, but even on GAAP EPS Twitter’s actual EPS is a beat on consensus of -$0.02.)

Times have really changed whichever way you look at it. In the same quarter a year ago, Twitter reported sales of $787 million, up 18%; net income of $191 million; and diluted EPS of $0.37.

“In this difficult time, Twitter’s purpose is proving more vital than ever,” said CEO Jack Dorsey in a statement. “We are helping the world stay informed, and providing a unique way for people to come together to help or simply entertain and remind one another of our connections. We’ve delivered our strongest ever year over year mDAU growth. Public conversation can help the world learn faster, solve common problems, and realize we’re all in this together. Our task now is to make sure we retain that connection over the long term with the many people new to Twitter.”

The company said that the quarter played out in “two distinct periods”, January through early March, which largely performed as expected, it said, and eearly March through the end of the quarter, “when the pandemic became global.”

None of this should come as a surprise. Twitter itself announced more than a month ago that it was removing its own financial guidance because of the instability of its business due to COVID-19 — noting only that it would be lower than expected:

“While the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on current visibility, the company expects Q1 revenue to be down slightly on a year-over-year basis,” it wrote at the time. “Twitter also expects to incur a GAAP operating loss, as reduced expenses resulting from COVID-19 disruption are unlikely to fully offset the revenue impact of the pandemic in Q1.”

It did point out one bright spot, which is that it is picking up many more users because of increased “conversation about COVID-19 as well as ongoing product improvements.” Then, it said that quarter-to-date average total mDAU was around 164 million, up 23% from 134 million in Q1 2019 and up 8% from 152 million in Q4 2019.

Generally, Twitter’s fortunes this quarter are in line with results from Alphabet/Google and Facebook, which also reported earnings this week that reflect the impact of reduced advertising revenues due to fallout from the the public health crisis.

But even without the impact of COVID-19 on Twitter’s primary business of advertising, the company had been facing a tough time leading into the quarter. Like eBay, Twitter has been the subject of activist investor activity pushing for leadership and operational changes to improve growth and profitability. (Coincidentally, the same activist investor, Elliott, has been behind both efforts.) Unlike eBay, however, Twitter has managed to keep its CEO in place — co-founder Jack Dorsey — but has had to concede board seats as part of a wider financing package and strategy to refocus the business. There may be questions on the call today to see if all of that has been put on ice given how other factors are now in play.

One outcome from the deal it had cut with investors was to provide more actionable plans that translated to growth and profit, and on that front at least Twitter is playing ball.

It notes that it has “shifted resources and priorities to increase focus on our revenue products, particularly performance ads beginning with MAP [mobile application promotion ads], with the goal of accelerating our long-term roadmap.” This has included an ad server rebuild that should be finished by the end of Q2 to implement microservices architecture for more efficiency and to make it easier to make changes on the fly. It’s also implementing direct response advertising, also with the aim of adding new features that it can charge advertisers for.

We have increased our focus and the relative prioritization of our revenue products, and will shift and add product and engineering resources as practical to increase our pace of execution on this critical work,” it noted in the earnings letter.

Breaking out some specific numbers, advertising accounted for the lion’s share of sales at $682 million, with data licensing making up much of the remainder. US revenues were $468 million, up 8% year-over-year, while international was at $339 million, down 4%.

No layoffs announced (not yet) but as with others like Spotify, Twitter is putting a hold on hiring. The company had committed to increase headcount this year by at least 20% (alongside its CEO relocating to Africa temporarily and many other optimistic plans) but this is now being slowed down — to what extent, it did not say, but it did note that 2020 total expense growth would now be “considerably less” than the 20% it had projected.

More to come.

Read More

Posted on

Mark Cuban: ‘Raising money isn’t an accomplishment, it’s an obligation’

Mark Cuban isn’t impressed that you’ve raised money.

“If you think the accomplishment is raising money first, we’re probably not gonna get along,” said Cuban in an Extra Crunch Live interview. “If your orientation is ‘I got to raise the money first,’ you don’t really have a company yet, and you really haven’t accomplished anything yet. […] Sweat equity is the best equity.”

We also got his take on today’s economy, the nation’s direction and his notes on what startups should do to survive in the new world. Happily, as we had an hour to chat, we managed to cover a lot of ground. The full conversation (YouTube) is after the jump, and we’ve excerpted a number of quotes for your perusal.

But up top we wanted to share Cuban’s notes regarding which companies should accept Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the Small Business Administration. The matter became a hot-button issue in and around Silicon Valley, where initial debate centered around which startups could access the money. After it became clear the first installment of PPP funds wasn’t going to last, whether startups should access to the capital at all became a question. Some venture-backed companies even decided to return their PPP check.

According to Cuban, when PPP was first put together, the market’s “perspective was that there’d be plenty of money for everybody. You know, people didn’t really want to do the math.” Cuban said that if there was $350 billion in the pot and one million small businesses, the fund would have worked out to $350,000 apiece. “Well guess what,” he said, “there are 30 million companies, [and] like 20 of them are independent contractors.”

Once you did the calculations again with that many companies eligible for PPP funds, you could tell that the money wasn’t going to last. So Cuban told firms that he’s invested in where he has sway to “either not apply or just pay it back immediately.” Why? “For the betterment of the country and the economy,” he said, adding that “if you do have access to capital” or “your business isn’t dramatically impacted [then] let’s leave [the PPP money] for the people who need it the most.”

As noted, the full video is below (you can join Extra Crunch here!), along with Cuban’s notes on startup advice during the pandemic, American 2.0 (and Marc Andreessen’s essay), AI, pre-seed companies, his future in politics and how to pitch him.

Mark Cuban on the record

How he’s advising portfolio companies during the pandemic:

So first and foremost, communicate. Second is be honest. Third is be transparent. And fourth is be authentic. Because everybody is nervous. Everybody is terrified at a certain level. So you just have to recognize that. People are going to need that honesty from you and people are going to want communications from you. That’s been the primary thing around what these companies should do.

Regarding cutting costs: Every business is different. On the smallest ones, they’re already grinding, and it’s typically dependent on the founder. I’ve really tried to encourage people to keep all their employees on if at all possible. That there’s gonna be a lot of change and that’s going to create a lot of opportunity. So, if you can hold on to your employees and push forward in any way, shape, or form, you may have an opportunity.

Read More

Posted on

IPOs, crypto funds and other things I missed this week

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

What a week it’s been. I’m exhausted. Not only are we another cycle deeper into the COVID-19 quarantine, but there seems to be more news than ever to sift through. I’ve fallen behind. So, today, this little column is taking look back at things that it missed but wanted to cover. (There may come a day when we run out of stuff to talk about, but it’s not coming any time soon.)

So let’s talk about a16z’s new crypto fund, recent economic data, the Ebang F-1, Lime’s layoffs, Procore’s IPO delay and fresh valuation, stocks, Luckin, and, if we have time, Twitter’s changing jobs data. Let’s get this all out of our heads and into the world.

Odds, ends

To annoy my editors, we’re using bullet points this morning. Bullet points are great way to convey a bloc of information in a neat format. Let the haters hate, we have a lot of ground to cover:

Read More