Archive for September, 2019

Daily Crunch: Facebook faces VR challenges

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Not all is predictable on Facebook’s social Horizon Last week, Facebook unveiled Horizon, a massively multiplayer VR world that’s scheduled to launch in 2020. This might seem to play to Facebook’s software strengths, but Lucas Matney argues that the social networking giant may not actually have much of an advantage against smaller game studios. For example, the team at Against Gravity has already built a network inside VR called Rec Room that’s been maturing over the past few years, with rich environments and toolsets for multiplayer interactions. (Extra Crunch membership required.) 2. Spotify now lets you add podcasts to playlists Users can create their own custom playlists of their favorite podcasts, or even those that combine music and audio — similar to Spotify’s newly launched playlist “Your Daily Drive.” 3. Kickstarter darling EcoFlow Delta battery generator is not what it seems The EcoFlow Delta is a new battery generator available on Kickstarter with incredible features claimed. Most are true, some are not. 4. YouTube TV is now available on Fire TV devices Earlier this year, Google and Amazon reached an agreement to bring their streaming video apps to each other’s platforms. The YouTube app launched on Fire TV in July, and now Google is adding its live TV streaming service. 5. Amboss, the knowledge platform for medical professionals, scores €30M Series B Launched in 2014 as a study platform for medical students, Amboss has since evolved to offer what it claims is the “most comprehensive and technologically-advanced” knowledge platform for medical professionals. 6. Learn everything you can about mobility at Disrupt SF We’re bringing some of the industry’s leaders onstage at Disrupt SF — including Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden, Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun and Zoox CEO Aicha Evans. 7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts The latest episode of Equity kicks off with the reemergence of the much-criticized startup Bodega, which is now known as Stockwell and has raised a total of $45 million in funding. Meanwhile, Original Content reviews “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” on Netflix.

Verizon picks up the assets of Disney-backed VR startup Jaunt

After raising $100 million, virtual reality content startup Jaunt has been in a precarious position for a few years now. It seems like the saga has finally come to a close as the startup announces that Verizon has purchased the company’s technology. The studio rode the wave of VR hype following Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus, but after years of trying to find a business in immersive entertainment, spanning software and camera hardware, the company has spent its past year trying to sell off its VR assets while pursuing a business focused on augmented reality and what it calls the “distribution of volumetric video of humans.” A deal with Spinview Global to purchase the company’s VR tech that was reported last year never ended up happening, a spokesperson tells TechCrunch. Verizon is walking away with Jaunt’s technology assets here which is inclusive of their VR tech and their newer AR efforts. It doesn’t sound like any employees are coming onboard as part of the transition, but there will be some Jaunt folks helping bring the tech onboard for a brief period. The company’s spokesperson opted not to comment when asked whether the startup was winding down following the deal. Why does Verizon want these assets? Verizon Media (of which TechCrunch is apart of) already has some assets in the VR space including the virtual reality content studio RYOT which has been playing around with 360 content and general AR/VR content. The company’s Envrnmnt arm is basically focusing on making AR and VR apps run more efficiently on mobile, which is something Jaunt has had to be mindful of as they’ve tried to focus on broadcasters that need to deal with bandwidth strains. We don’t have a price tag on the deal, but the startup raised $100 million from investors including GV and Disney. In October of last year, the company laid off a “significant portion of its employees” and by the end of the year they were auctioning off office furniture. Disney-backed Jaunt lays off ‘significant’ number of employees as it moves away from VR