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Pinterest tests online events with dedicated ‘class communities’

Pinterest is getting into online events. The company has been spotted testing a new feature that allows users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest, while creators use Pinterest’s class boards to organize class materials, notes and other resources, or even connect with attendees through a group chat option. The company confirmed the test of online classes is an experiment now in development, but wouldn’t offer further details about its plans.
The feature itself was discovered on Tuesday by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who found details about the online classes by looking into the app’s …

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Investors Lockheed Martin Ventures and SpaceFund are coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020

The space industry, once dominated by government-funded programs and a small handful of corporations, has seen a surge in startups in recent years. And with startups aplenty, the venture firms can never be far behind.

Venture capital has played an increasingly important role in rooting out the best and most promising of these startups. The stakes are even higher for the venture arms of corporations. Corporate venture firms are on the constant hunt for the technology that will keep their companies relevant for decades to come.

That’s why we’re excited to announce that Chris Moran, executive director and general manager at Lockheed Martin Ventures, and Meagan Crawford, managing partner at SpaceFund, will join us at our TC Sessions: Space event on December 16 & 17.

Moran leads Lockheed Martin Ventures efforts to invest in small technology businesses that support the company’s larger strategic business objectives. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Moran served in a variety of positions at Applied Materials Inc., most recently as the head of the business systems and analytics group.

More from the TC Sessions: Space agenda

Crawford isn’t just managing partner at SpaceFund . She’s an experienced space startup executive and founder. As the host of the Mission Eve podcast, she aims to increase the number of women in the space industry and is frequently featured as a thought leader on the industry’s development and investment potential. Crawford also chairs the board of the non-profit Center for Space Commerce and Finance.

She has more than a decade of experience helping educate entrepreneurs and investors through the NewSpace Business Plan Competition, which she started running in 2009. As a manager, coach and judge for the last decade, she has read over 1,000 space business executive summaries, coached hundreds of selected teams, and helped award cash prizes to dozens of NewSpace startups.

Crawford and Moran are tapped in and ready to share with the TechCrunch audience their insights and forecasts for our collective space future. We’ll dig into what their respective companies are paying attention to, the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19 and if a changing administration will change their investment strategy.

Starting today, we’re offering a BOGO deal. Buy one Late Registration ticket for $175 and get one free. You and a colleague pay just $87.50 each — that’s less than the early bird price. Booyah! We’re here all week folks…and this deal ends on Sunday, November 29, at 11:59 p.m. PST.

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Amazon’s Project Kuiper chief David Limp is coming to Sessions: Space

TechCrunch Sessions: Space (December 16 & 17) is just a few short weeks away and there is perhaps no better time than the end of this horrid year to set our eyes to the horizon and dream of some place far, far away.

David Limp, Amazon’s SVP of Amazon Devices and Services, is just the man to stoke our imaginations. Thusly, we’re stoked to have him join us for a one-on-one conversation at Sessions: Space 2020.

Limp is responsible for Amazon’s devices business, including consumer gadgets like the Echo lineup – but also Project Kuiper, Amazon’s forthcoming Starlink competitor.

More from the agenda

Project Kuiper is a large broadband satellite internet constellation that is expected to be made up of more than 3,000 satellites, with a mission to provide internet to tens of millions of people who currently don’t have access.

In July, Amazon received approval from the FCC to launch and operate said constellation, and the company also announced it would be investing $10 billion into Kuiper, as well as the on-ground infrastructure needed to offer broadband connectivity to those millions of users.

Limp has been with Amazon since March 2010, before which he was a venture partner at Azure Capital Partners for four years. While his role oversees a wide variety of products, including Alexa, Echo, Kindle, Fire TV, Ring and more, the scope of our conversation at Sessions: Space will focus on just that, space.

Limp joins a stellar (see what I did there?) lineup of incredible speakers at TC Sessions: Space, including Lt. Gen. John Thompson of the U.S. Air Force, Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, and NASA’s Kathryn Lueders. You don’t want to miss it!

You can get an Early Bird Ticket for just $125 until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 20. And we have discounts available for groupsstudentsactive military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to pitch and give their startup some extra visibility.

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Bonus: An extra week to save on tickets to TC Sessions: Space 2020

When you’re laser-focused on reaching beyond the stars, it’s hard to remember more earthly, mundane tasks. That’s why we’re giving you an extra week to score early-bird savings to TC Sessions: Space 2020 (December 16-17). So, to all you harried, procrastinating visionaries: take a breath, relax a bit and buy your pass before November 20 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

Join the two-day online conference to hear from and connect with the leading forces within the space industry. Learn how to secure grants for your space company, how and where the Air Force plans to spend $60 billion on R&D, what savvy space investors think and where they might place their bets. And that’s just the tip of the rocket.

Presentations range from asteroid mining, extra-planetary robotic research and the future of space exploration to human spaceflight, manufacturing in space and supply-chain issues. Here are just two stellar examples, and you’ll find many more in the event agenda. Start planning your time now.

Bridging Two Eras of Human Spaceflight: When Kathryn Lueders started working at NASA in 1992, it was the peak of the Space Shuttle era. As she begins her leadership of the Human Spaceflight Office this year, a new and exciting era is just beginning. Lueders will discuss the possibilities and challenges of the new systems and technologies that will put the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon…and perhaps Mars.

Crafting the Kuiper Constellation: Amazon is set to create its own global constellation of LEO satellites — a very different type of gadget from what Amazon SVP of Device & Services Dave Limp is used to overseeing. He’ll tell us how Project Kuiper fits in with Amazon’s grand plans.

Looking for more ways to save? Bring the whole team with a group discount. Tickets cost $100 each — bring four team members and get the fifth one free. Discount passes for students cost $50, while current government, military and nonprofit employees pay $95. Plus, Extra Crunch subscribers get a 20% discount.

Step into a virtual spotlight and showcase your startup in our expo: An Early-Stage Startup Exhibitor Package ($360 gets you three tickets, digital exhibition space and the ability to generate leads). Bonus: Exhibiting startups each get five minutes to pitch live to attendees around the world.

As you reach for the stars, connect with the experts and opportunities at TC Sessions: Space 2020 to help make your galactic dreams a reality. You have an extra week. Now, breathe, relax and buy your early-bird pass before November 20 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring TC Sessions: Space 2020? Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.

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NASA’s head of human spaceflight, Kathryn Lueders, will join us at TC Sessions: Space

NASA’s human spaceflight program took big strides in 2020 with the official kick-off of the commercial crew program with SpaceX, and on plans to return humans to the surface of the Moon via the Artemis program. NASA Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate Kathryn Lueders has been there for it all, and actually rose to her current position from previously serving as Commercial Crew Program Manager, so there’s no one better to speak to the agency’s achievements and goals around putting humans in space.

Lueders will join us at TC Sessions: Space this year, which is happening December 16 and 17. It’s a fully virtual event, featuring all-star programming from across the space industry, public sector, and of course the startup scene. Associate Administrator Lueders will be joined on stage by moderator Emily Calandrelli, scientist, engineer, and host of the hit Netflix show Emily’s Wonder Lab.

We’ll be talking to Lueders about NASA’s historic certification of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon human launch system, which ends the U.S. reliance on Russia’s Soyuz for transportation to and from the International Space Station – and becomes the first commercial spacecraft certified for human flight ever.

Dragon will make history yet again with its first-ever operational crew mission, set to take three NASA astronauts and one JAXA astronaut to the ISS this weekend.

Associate Administrator Lueders will also be able to talk us through the ongoing effort to gain a second commercial crew mission provider with Boeing, which is still in the process of certifying their Starliner spacecraft, and NASA’s work toward putting the next American man and the first American woman on the surface of the Moon with Artemis. She’s also the perfect person to talk about the agency’s future with commercial and startup partners when it comes to human spaceflight.

You can get an Early Bird Ticket for just $125 until 11:59pm tonight, Friday, November 13. And we have discounts available for groupsstudentsactive military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to pitch and give their startup some extra visibility.

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Come hear about the opportunities in space observation at TC Sessions: Space

The market for space observation is one of the few commercialized segments of the nascent industry and could be worth upwards of $8 billion by the end of the decade, according to some estimates.

At TC Sessions: Space this December 16 & 17, we’ll be discussing what’s ahead for the market with some of the industry’s leading founders, including Payam Banazadeh, the chief executive and founder of Capella Space; Rafal Modrzewski, the chief executive and founder of ICEYE; Peter Platzer, the chief executive of Spire Global; and Melanie Stricklan, co-founder and chief science officer, Slingshot Aerospace.

Between them, these founders have raised roughly $450 million for their respective companies. We’ll discuss the opportunities that investors see in backing companies looking down at Earth and what’s ahead for the industry.

Prior to founding Slingshot, Melanie worked in the United States Air Force, where she was responsible for Space Control and Battle Management integration across mission areas to increase the nation’s ability to protect and defend space capabilities against emerging threats. Then, at the Department of Defense she led the development and deployment of experimental spacecraft, electronic warfare and cyber technologies. She graduated from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and received her master’s in Space Systems Operations Management from Webster University.

Before founding Capella Space, Payam Banazadeh worked as a project manager and flight systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He’s received the NASA Mariner Award, NASA Discovery Award and NASA Formulation Award. An advocate for raising awareness around volatility of life on earth and the consequences of technological innovation, Banazadeh holds a business degree from Stanford and graduated with an Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Texas.

Peter Platzer co-founded Spire Global back in 2012 with a vision to provide satellite-powered data from any location on earth. Named a White House Champion of Change in 2013 and a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Platzer is now regarded as one of the pioneers in launching small form factor satellites into space. The recipient of a Harvard MBA and an undergraduate degree from Vienna’s prestigious Technical University, Platzer received his early training at CERN and the Planck Institute before turning to a consulting career at BCG. He advised on space commercialization at NASA Ames’ Space Portal while completing an MSS from the International Space University

Rafal Modrzewski was a researcher at VTT, the Technical Research Center of Finland, working on RFID and wireless sensing technologies before he turned his attention to the stars. At ICEYE, which began as a project in 2012 and was formally incorporated in 2014, Modrzewski and his co-founder Pekka Laurila focused on launching and operating small radar imaging satellites to provide reliable Earth observation data.

We’re just about a month away from TC Sessions: Space 2020 and the deadline for securing the early-bird price (and $100 savings) expires this Friday 11.13.20 at 11:59 p.m. PST. If you’re looking for more ways to save, we’ve got you covered. We offer group discount passes ($100 each — bring four team members and get the fifth one free); student discounts ($50); and discounts for government, military and nonprofits ($95). If you subscribe to Extra Crunch, knock an extra 20% off the price of admission – simply email to get your discount code.

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Treviranus, Butler and Fruchterman to speak at Sight Tech Global


Sight Tech Global goes live the week after Thanksgiving on December 2-3, and now’s the time to pick up a free pass! The agenda for this virtual, global event on AI-related technology and accessibility for people who are blind or visually impaired just keeps getting better.

Today we’re delighted to announce two new sessions as well as our host for Sight Tech Global, Will Butler, a vice-president at Be My Eyes and host to the popular Be My Eyes and 13 Letters podcasts. Butler will run the Sight Tech Global virtual “desk,” where he will offer a running commentary on the sessions as well as introduce speakers and moderators. Be My Eyes is also the attendee-support partner for Sight Tech Global, and volunteers will be standing by to assist anyone who has questions during the event.

Butlers joins several TechCrunch moderators for sessions at the event, including Matthew Panzarino, Megan Rose Dickey, Kirsten Korosec, and Devin Coldewey.

Here are the two new panels on the agenda:

AI, Fairness and Bias: What technologists and advocates need to do to ensure that AI helps instead of harms people with disabilities

While it’s clear that AI-based technologies like natural language processing and computer vision are powerful tools to help with accessibility, there are also areas where AI technologies inject bias against people with disabilities by contrasting them against “norms” established in databases. This panel will look at examples of where that is happening – in employment software, benefits determination or even self-driving cars, for example, – and approaches that will help address these issues from the ground up.

Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Center

Lydia Brown, Policy Counsel, Privacy and Data Project

Moderator, Jim Fruchterman, Founder, Benetech

Inventors invent: Three new takes on assistive technology

Inventors have long been inspired to apply their genius to helping blind people. Think of innovators like Louis Braille and Ray Kurzweil, to name just two. Today’s ambitious pioneers have the cheap sensors, high speed data networks, and data and compute “in the cloud” to do more than ever before. In this session, three founders present products that have just or will soon enter production that they believe will improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Keith Kirkland, Wayband

Khartik Mahadevan, Envision Glasses

Andres Forsland, Cognixion

Moderator, Ned Desmond

Sight Tech Global is a production of the non-profit  Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which has served people on the San Francisco Bay area for 75 years. All proceeds from the event, which is run entirely by volunteers, go directly to support the Vista Center’s work with blind and low vision people. We are very grateful for the sponsors who are backing Sight Tech Global, including Waymo, Salesforce, Mojo Vision, Ford, Vispero, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Wells Fargo, Comcast, accessiBe, Eyedaptic, APH, Humanware, Verizon Media and TechCrunch. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. 

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Hubilo raises $4.5 million, led by Lightspeed, to focus on virtual events

Earlier this year, the founders of event analytics platform Hubilo pivoted to become a virtual events platform to survive the impact of COVID-19. Today, the startup announced it has raised a $4.5 million seed round, led by Lightspeed, and says it expects to exceed $10 million bookings run rate and host over one million attendees over the next few months.

The round also included angel investors Freshworks chief executive officer Girish Mathrubootham; former LinkedIn India CEO Nishant Rao; Slideshare co-founder Jonathan Boutelle; and Helpshift CEO Abinash Tripathy.

Hubilo’s clients have included the United Nations, Roche, Fortune, GITEX, IPI Singapore, Tech In Asia, Infocomm Asia and Clarion Events. The startup is headquartered in San Francisco, but about 12% of its sales are currently from Southeast Asia, and it plans to further scale in the region. It will also focus on markets in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Vaibhav Jain, Hubilo’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that many of its customers before the pandemic were enterprises and governments that used its platform to help organize large events. Those were also the first to stop hosting in-person events.

In February, “we knew that most, if not all, physical events were getting postponed or cancelled globally. To counter the drop in demand for offline events, we agreed to extend the contracts by six more months at no cost,” Jain said. “However, this was not enough to retain our clients and most of them either cancelled the contracts or put the contract on hold indefinitely.”

As a result, Hubilo’s revenue dropped to zero in February. With about 30 employees and reserves for only three months, Jain said the company had to chose between shutting down or finding an alternative model. Hubilo’s team created a MVP (minimum viable product) virtual event platform in less than a month and started by convincing a client to use it for free. That first virtual event was hosted in March and “since then, we’ve never looked back,” said Jain.

This means Hubilo is now competing with other virtual event platforms, like Cvent and Hopin (which was used to host TechCrunch Disrupt). Jain said his company differentiates by giving organizers more chances to rebrand their virtual spaces; focusing on sponsorship opportunities that include contests, event feeds and virtual lounges to increase attendee engagement; and providing data analytic features that include integration with Salesforce, Marketo and Hubspot.

With so many events going virtual that “Zoom fatigue” and “webinar fatigue” have now become catchphrases, event organizers have to not only convince people to buy tickets, but also keep them engaged during an event.

Hubilo “gamifies” the experience of attending a virtual event with features like its Leaderboard. This enables organizers to assign points for things like watching a session, visiting a virtual booth or messaging someone. Then they can give prizes to the attendees with the most points. Jain said the Leaderboard is Hubilo’s most used feature.

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Porsche is researching synthetic fuels to make gas-powered cars sustainable

The road to sustainable vehicles likely ends at electric cars, yet the route to this goal isn’t clear. There are multiple ways to get there, and Porsche is looking at synthetic fuels as a potential path. These so-called eFuels are produced from CO2 and hydrogen. If produced using renewable energy, they can help vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) become more sustainable before the end of their life.

Earlier this week, Porsche AG’s Detlev von Platen spoke to this alternative fuel at TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility.

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Looking at Porsche’s current lineup, it’s easy to see where the automaker is heading: Electric sports cars. Right now, in 2020, the automaker has one electric sports sedan and an electric version of its small SUV coming soon. The automaker has a handful of plug-in hybrids available, too. The automaker says half of its vehicles will be electric by 2025.

“We are seeing a lot of new regulations coming up everywhere in the world,” Detlev von Platen, member of the Executive Board, Sales and Marketing, said at TC Sessions: Mobility 2020. “California is one example. Europe and China will become even more complicated in the future, and we see the transformation coming up very quickly. And to a certain point of time, developing and producing combustion engines and cars around this technology will become even more expensive than a battery vehicle. Things are moving very fast.”

Governments worldwide are using aggressive regulations to push automakers toward an electric future, though that goal doesn’t address the millions of gasoline-powered vehicles already on the road.

Von Platen explains that it’s Porsche’s goal to reach the commitments laid out by the Paris Climate Accord ahead of schedule. To do so means reducing the environmental impact of the entire car industry, and Porsche sees eFuels as a way to reduce the environmental impact of current and future internal combustion vehicles. If produced using renewable energy, it would result in ICE-powered vehicles being powered by a renewable source fuel.

Porsche is in a unique position: 70% of the vehicles it ever produced are still on the road. Their owners are generally enthusiastic and unlikely to trade-in their classic air-cooled Porsche coupes for an electric vehicle. The company sees eFuel as a way to reduce the environmental impact of those vehicles while keeping them on the road.

This new type of synthetic fuel is produced out of hydrogen and CO2. Porsche says that this fuel shares properties with kerosene, diesel and gasoline produced from crude oil in its most basic term.

“This technology is particularly important because the combustion engine will continue to dominate the automotive world for many years to come,” said Michael Steiner, member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, in a statement released in September. “If you want to operate the existing fleet in a sustainable manner, eFuels are a fundamental component.”

Synthetic fuels were tried in the past and gained little long-term traction. Porsche wants to influence this new breed of synthetic fuel specifications to ensure the eFuel works within Porsche’s performance engines. “When E10 came onto the market, the blend had some disadvantages. It must be different this time: it must have advantages,” Steiner said.

“We started a pilot program to talk about the industrialization of this fuel technology to make it cheaper, as it is still quite expensive compared to fossil fuels,” von Platen said. “If this works in the future, we can have something that will increase the speed of creating sustainability besides battery technology.”

Full Panel — Exclusive to Extra Crunch subscribers

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