Y Combinator invests in non-invasive breast cancer screening bra EVA

According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional stress for them and their families, the American Cancer Society still estimates 40,920 women will lose their battle to the disease this year.

Worldwide, roughly 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to a 2012 estimate by The World Cancer Research Fund International.

While these numbers are stark, they do little to fully capture just how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis is for women and their loved ones. This is a feeling that Higia Technologies‘ co-founder and CEO Julián Ríos Cantú is unfortunately very familiar with.

“My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor,” Cantú told TechCrunch. “The first time she was diagnosed I was eight years old.”

Cantú says that his mother’s second diagnosis was originally missed through standard screenings because her high breast density obscured the tumors from the X-ray. As a result, she lost both of her breasts, but has since fully recovered.

“At that moment I realized that if that was the case for a woman with private insurance and a prevention mindset, then for most women in developing countries, like Mexico where we’re from, the outcome could’ve not been a mastectomy but death,” said Cantú.

Following his mother’s experience, Cantú resolved to develop a way to improve the value of women’s lives and support them in identifying breast abnormalities and cancers early in order to ensure the highest likelihood of survival.

To do this, at the age of 18 Cantú designed EVA — a bio-sensing bra insert that uses thermal sensing and artificial intelligence to identify abnormal temperatures in the breast that can correlate to tumor growth. Cantú says that EVA is not only an easy tool for self-screening but also fills in gaps in current screening technology.

Today, women have fairly limited options when it comes to breast cancer screening. They can opt for a breast ultrasound (which has lower specificity than other options), or a breast MRI (which has higher associated costs), but the standard option is a yearly or bi-yearly mammogram for women 45 and older. This method requires a visit to a doctor, manual manipulation of the breasts by a technologist and exposure to low-levels of radiation for an X-ray scan of the breast tissue.

While this method is relatively reliable, there are still crucial shortcomings, Higia Technologies’ medical adviser Dr. Richard Kaszynski M.D., PhD told TechCrunch.

“We need to identify a real-world solution to diagnosing breast cancer earlier,” said Dr. Kaszynski. “It’s always a trade-off when we’re talking about mammography because you have the radiation exposure, discomfort and anxiety in regards to exposing yourself to a third-party.”

Dr. Kaszynski continued to say that these yearly or bi-yearly mammograms also leave a gap in care in which interval cancers — cancers that begin to take hold between screenings — have time to grow unhindered.

Additionally, Dr. Kaszynski says mammograms are not highly sensitive when it comes to detecting tumors in dense breast tissue, like that of Cantú’s mom. Dense breast tissue, which is more common in younger women and is present in 40 percent of women globally and 80 percent of Asian women, can mask the presence of tumors in the breast from mammograms.

Through its use of non-invasive, thermal sensors EVA is able to collect thermal data from a variety of breast densities that can enable women of all ages to more easily (and more frequently) perform breast examinations.

Here’s how it works:

To start, the user inserts the thermal sensing cups (which come in three standard sizes ranging from A-D) into a sports bra, open EVA’s associated EVA Health App, follow the instructions and wait for 60 minutes while the cup collects thermal data. From there, EVA will send the data via Bluetooth to the app and an AI will analyze the results to provide the user with an evaluation. If EVA believes the user may have an abnormality that puts them at risk, the app will recommend follow-up steps for further screening with a healthcare professional.

While sacrificing your personal health data to the whims of an AI might seem like a scary (and dangerous, if the device were to be hacked) idea to some, Cantú says Higia Technologies has taken steps to protect its users’ data, including advanced encryption of its server and a HIPAA-compliant privacy infrastructure.

So far, EVA has undergone clinical trials in Mexico, and through these trials has seen 87.9 percent sensibility and 81.7 percent specificity from the device. In Mexico, the company has already sold 5,000 devices and plans to begin shipping the first several hundred by October of this year.

And the momentum for EVA is only increasing. In 2017, Cantú was awarded Mexico’s Presidential Medal for Science and Technology and so far this year Higia Technologies has won first place in the SXSW’s International Pitch Competition, been named one of “30 Most Promising Businesses of 2018” by Forbes Magazine Mexico and this summer received a $120,000 investment from Y Combinator.

Moving forward, the company is looking to enter the U.S. market and has plans to begin clinical trials with Stanford Medicine X in October 2018 that should run for about a year. Following these trials, Dr. Kaszynski says that Higia Technologies will continue the process of seeking FDA approval to sell the inserts first as a medical device, accessible at a doctor’s office, and then as a device that users can have at home.

The final pricing for the device is still being decided, but Cantú says he wants the product to be as affordable and accessible as possible so it can be the first choice for women in developing countries where preventative cancer screening is desperately needed.

Tesla lost nearly $8 billion in shareholder value this week and its board should be ashamed

Over the last five days, Tesla shareholders watched the value of their stock decline by roughly 16 percent and saw nearly $8 billion in value erased, as the company’s celebrity chief executive, Elon Musk, had what amounts to a very public breakdown.

However, Musk is not the only person responsible for the collapse of Tesla’s stock price. As The New York Times article which precipitated the latest slide in Tesla’s value on the public markets makes clear, the company’s board is also to blame.

For months, Musk has been showing signs of strain (generously speaking), and has been accused of making questionable decisions to drive growth and stifle criticism or dissent at the revolutionary electric vehicle company he founded.

During that time, as Shira Ovide notes in her piece from Bloomberg, Tesla’s board (primarily composed of Musk’s friends, relatives and initial investors) took no public steps to control or manage the situation.

Privately and on background the board (or certain members) expressed concern over Musk’s recent behavior, drug use (both medicinal and recreational) and Twitter habits.

Those concerns should have been aired at the board level and the company’s directors should have exercised their ability to manage the mercurial Musk as his public actions became increasingly unmoored.

Something could have happened after the disastrous earnings call with analysts. It could have happened around the time of the strange active shooter allegations that were made against a Tesla whistleblower. It could have happened after Musk called a diver involved in the rescue of trapped and starving children a “pedo.”

At any of those moments the board could have stepped in and demanded that Musk face the consequences for actions that cost his company billions of dollars. They did not, and now Tesla’s position is more precarious than ever.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Musk for his public statements around privatization plans for Tesla that may or may not have been real.

It’s another distraction for the company’s chief executive at a time when he is already under tremendous pressure to meet production targets for the company’s troubled Model 3 rollout (even as it begins to hit its targets).

The problem is that Musk’s cult of personality is so intertwined with Tesla’s corporate identity, there’s a fear that as Musk goes so goes Tesla. That’s no way to run a business, and it’s no way to ensure long-term value for shareholders (either as a public or private company).

Ultimately the board at Tesla needs to step in and take a more active role in overseeing the company, before the next decision they find themselves confronted with is the company’s liquidation.

Tesla stock sinks after Musk gives tearful NYT interview

Tesla stock sinks after Musk gives tearful NYT interviewTesla stock was on track for its biggest daily slump in two years as Wall Street questioned Musk's ability to lead the electric car maker. Investors also were worried about reports that regulators were pressuring Tesla's directors for details about how much information he shared with them. Musk stunned markets last week with a tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 per share and that he had secured funding.


YC-backed Mutiny helps B2B business personalize their website for each visitor

Mutiny, which is part of the current batch of startups at accelerator Y Combinator, helps business-to-business, software-as-a-service companies present a message that’s customized to each visitor on their website.

Co-founder and CEO Jaleh Rezaei said this concept is alive and well in the analog world: When she was at VMware, sales reps were given materials to help them tailor their pitch for each prospective customer. Then, when she was one of the early employees at HR services startup Gusto, she tried to do something similar online, only to find that existing software wasn’t quite up to the task.

There are landing page optimization tools, but Rezaei asked, “Who wants to create a thousand versions of your website?” And there are A/B testing tools, but Rezaei argued that they’re really designed to test “generic content” and use “very little audience intelligence.” And as for creating your own personalization tools, many companies will find that it requires “way too much engineering effort.”

That’s where Mutiny comes in. It integrates with existing data sources to allow businesses to divide their customers into segments. Then they can use Mutiny’s graphical interface to create personalized elements of the webpage for each segment.

For example, when you visit the homepage of Mutiny customer Amplitude, things like the customer testimonials and the call to action will change depending on the size of the company. Or when Brex customers click through from an email marketing campaign, they’ll see a credit card offer tailored to their name and company.

Brex -- personalized with Mutiny

These kinds of changes might not seem all that significant, but Rezaei said that when someone visits a B2B website, they’re probably interested in the product or service already. If they’re not converting, it’s probably because “they didn’t find what they wanted right away.” Mutiny can help surface the right content or the right message for the right customer.

The startup will also compare the personalized results to the generic webpage to help determine what does and doesn’t improve the bottom line. Rezaei said some of Mutiny’s early customers (who include Gusto, Infusionsoft and Brex) have seen conversion rates improve by 20 to 180 percent.

“That’s not to say that every test performs better, but the nice thing here is that you immediately see how something is performing,” she added.

Eventually, Rezaei is hoping to expand Mutiny’s technology so that it can personalize every aspect of the B2B purchase experience, including email and ad retargeting.

“Our passion as a founding team is growth,” she said. “Progress occurs not when you just build something, but when that product makes it into the hands of the person for whom it was intended to help.”

6 million users had installed third-party Twitter clients

Twitter tried to downplay the impact deactivating its legacy APIs would have on its community and the third-party Twitter clients preferred by many power users, by saying that “less than 1%” of Twitter developers were using these old APIs. Twitter is correct in its characterization of the size of this developer base, but it’s overlooking millions of third-party app users in the process. According to data from Sensor Tower, 6 million App Store and Google Play users installed the top five third-party Twitter clients between January 2014 to July 2018.

Over the past year, these top third-party apps were downloaded 500,000 times.

This data is largely free of reinstalls, the firm also said.

The top third-party Twitter apps users installed over the past three and a half years have included: Twitterrific, Echofon, TweetCaster, Tweetbot, and Ubersocial.

Of course, some portion of those users may have since switched to the Twitter’s native app for iOS or Android, or they may run both a third-party app and Twitter’s own app in parallel.

Even if only some of these six million users remain, they represent a small, vocal, and – in some cases, prominent – user base. It’s one that is very upset right now, too. And for a company that just posted a loss of 1 million users during its last earnings, it seems odd that Twitter would not figure out a way to accommodate this crowd, or even bring them onboard its new API platform to make money from them.

Twitter, apparently, is weighing data and facts, not user sentiment and public perception when it made this decision. But some things have more value than numbers on a spreadsheet. They are part of a company’s history and culture. Of course, Twitter has every right to blow all that up and move on, but that doesn’t make it the right decision.

To be fair, Twitter is not lying when it says this is a small group. The third-party user base is tiny compared with Twitter’s native app user base. During the same time that 6 million people were downloading third-party apps, the official Twitter app was installed a whopping 560 million times across iOS and Android. That puts the third-party apps’ share of installs at about 1.1% of the total.

That user base may have been shrinking over the years, too. During the past year, while the top third-party apps were installed half a million times, Twitter’s app was installed 117 million times. This made third-party apps’ share only about 0.4% of downloads, giving the official app a 99% market share.

But third-party app developers and the apps’ users are power users. Zealots, even. Evangelists.

Twitter itself credited them with pioneering “product features we all know and love” like the mute option, pull-to-refresh, and more. That means the apps’ continued existence brings more value to Twitter’s service than numbers alone can show.

Image credit: iMore

They are part of Twitter’s history. You can even credit one of the apps for Twitter’s logo! Initially, Twitter only had a typeset version of its name. Then Twitterrific came along and introduced a bird for its logo. Twitter soon followed.

Twitterrific was also the first to use the word “tweet,” which is now standard Twitter lingo. (The company used “twitter-ing” Can you imagine?)

These third-party apps also play a role in retaining users who struggle with the new user experience Twitter has adopted – its algorithmic timeline. Instead, the apps offer a chronological view of tweets, as some continue to prefer.

Twitter decision to cripple these developers’ apps is shameful.

It shows a lack of respect for Twitter’s history, its power user base, its culture of innovation, and its very own nature as a platform, not a destination.

P.S.

twitterrific

Alibaba: Betting on the Yuan

Alibaba: Betting on the YuanThis is especially true when dealing with a Chinese company like Alibaba Group Holding (NASDAQ:BABA), which is due to report earnings on August 23 before the U.S. market opens. The on-again, off-again trade war with China has been driving Alibaba stock, as China has slowly lowered the value of the yuan against the dollar. Source: Shutterstock The Chinese currency was at 6.27 to the dollar in April. The fall of the yuan has made Alibaba stock a relative bargain.