Fortnite’s Summer Skirmish kicks off today, with $8 million prize pool

Fortnite Battle Royale has swept the gaming world. Alongside its 125 million users and record-breaking Twitch streams, the game has also drawn many competitive players away from their usual titles to try their hand at Battle Royale.

Today, that competitive play reaches at inflection point. At 4pm ET, Fortnite Battle Royale’s Summer Skirmish will kick off, with $8 million going to tournament winners over the course of the competition, with a whopping $250K going to the winners of today’s tournament.

This isn’t the first competitive Fortnite tournament we’ve seen. Celebrity Twitch streamer Ninja held a charity tournament in April, and Epic held a ProAm tournament combining competitive players and celebs who play Fortnite in June. Plus, sites like UMG and CMG have been holding smaller tournaments since Fortnite first rose to popularity. And then there are $20K Fortnite Friday tournaments for streamers held by UMG.

But today, the ante has most certainly been upped. This will be one of the highest paying Fortnite tournaments to date, and is yet just a small fraction of Epic Games’ promised $100 million prize pool for competitive play this year.

For some context, Dota 2 (previously the biggest competitive esports title out there) had a $25 million payout for the International Championship tournament in 2017, with the winners taking home $10.8 million. Call of Duty, one of the most popular titles over the last decade, is only paying out $1.5 million for its own Champs tournament this summer.

In other words, Fortnite is catching up quickly to the competitive gaming scene, not only in terms of talent but money. Epic Games’ Fortnite pulled in a record-breaking $318 million in June alone. In fact, Battle Royale is generating so much revenue for Epic that the company is now only taking a 12 percent share of earnings from its Unreal Marketplace.

But with that growth comes increased scrutiny. Though the company is passing along its fortunes to developers on the Unreal Engine and competitive players, some have noticed situations in which Epic might have been a bit stingy.

The stream for Fortnite Summer Skirmish begins at 4pm ET and is embedded below:

Watch live video from Fortnite on

Chad Rigetti to talk quantum computing at Disrupt SF

Even for the long-standing giants of the tech industry, quantum computing is one of the most complicated subjects to tackle. So how does a five-year old startup compete?

Chad Rigetti, the namesake founder of Rigetti Computing, will join us at Disrupt SF 2018 to help us break it all down.

Rigetti’s approach to quantum computing is two-fold: on one front, the company is working on the design and fabrication of its own quantum chips; on the other, the company is opening up access to its early quantum computers for researchers and developers by way of its cloud computing platform, Forest.

Rigetti Computing has raised nearly $70 million to date according to Crunchbase, with investment from some of the biggest names around. Meanwhile, labs around the country are already using Forest to explore the possibilities ahead.

What’s the current state of quantum computing? How do we separate hype from reality? Which fields might quantum computing impact first — and how can those interested in quantum technology make an impact? We’ll talk all this and more at Disrupt SF 2018.

Passes to Disrupt SF are available at the Early Bird rate until July 25 here.

Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt to talk fintech at Disrupt SF

Robinhood has gone from being a little consumer-facing fintech app to an absolutely giant consumer-facing fintech app.

The company, which launched in 2013, has ballooned to a $5.6 billion valuation on the heels of a $363 million Series D financing round led by DST Global. The app has also grown to 4 million users with more than $150 billion in transaction volume.

But the app, which lets people trade stocks and options for free, is also dabbling in the wondrous world of cryptocurrencies, setting the stage for a potential transition from ‘fun app’ to legitimiate financial institution.

That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to have Robinhood cofounder and CEO Baiju Bhatt join us on the Disrupt SF 2018 stage.

The key to everything here is that Robinhood offered a simple consumer demand: free transactions on financial services. Unlike incumbents E*Trade and Scottrade, there are no trading fees on Robinhood, giving average consumers the chance to dip their toes in the market without any added barriers to entry.

At Disrupt, we’ll ask Bhatt about how Robinhood Crypto is progressing and what the company has in store as we head into next year.

Bhatt joins a wide array of big name speakers, from Dara Khosrowshahi to Reid Hoffman to Kirsten Green. It’s going to be an absolutely terrific show and we sincerely hope to see you there.

Tickets are available here.

Overwatch League strikes a milestone deal with Disney and ESPN

If you’re sick of hearing about esports, you need to get over it. The space continues to grow, inching its way into the traditional media landscape. Today, in fact, Activision Blizzard announced that the Overwatch League playoffs will be aired on ESPN and Disney XD.

The Overwatch League in itself is a huge step for esports, as it’s the first true city-based league for a competitive video game. While most esports leagues consist of privately owned teams with little or nothing to do with geography, Overwatch League is a pro league made up of city-based teams such as the Dallas Fuel or the San Francisco Shock. Many of these teams are owned by big names in the traditional sports world, such as Robert Kraft (CEO and owner of New England Patriots, who owns the Boston Uprising) and Jeff Wilpon (COO of the New York Mets, who owns the New York Excelsior).

The agreement, which also includes a recap/highlights package from 2018 Grand Finals coverage on ABC on July 29, marks the first time that live competitive gaming has aired on ESPN in prime time, and will be the first broadcast of an esports championship on ABC. Activision Blizzard said in the announcement that this is just the start of a multi-year agreement.

That said, EA’s Madden NFL 18 did broadcast an esports tournament on ESPN2 and Disney XD earlier this year.

Overwatch League playoffs begin tonight at 8pm ET, and will culminate in the Grand Finals, taking place in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, on July 27 and July 28.

Here’s what Justin Connolly, EVP of Affiliate Sales and Marketing at Disney and ESPN, had to say in a prepared statement:

The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an esports event over a single weekend: 10 total hours over four networks and three days. This overall collaboration with Disney/ABC, ESPN and Blizzard represents our continued commitment to esports, and we look forward to providing marquee Overwatch League coverage across our television platforms for fans.

The rise of Twitch stars, like Ninja, and the growth of the competitive gaming scene have paved the way not only for a new type of sports media, but for a growing new economy. While challenges remain around monetizing the content, the pieces of the puzzle are slowing coming together to create an audience large enough to incentivize advertisers to spend big money.

In fact, sponsorship revenue and ad spending revenue are expected to hit $655 million and $224 million, respectively, by 2020, according to Newzoo. That doesn’t sound like much when you think about the NFL, which raked in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2017 alone. But, like this deal proves, the esports space is growing and working its way into the mainstream, hoping to get the attention of young men between 18 and 34 who have become increasingly difficult to reach via traditional advertising.

Alongside the live TV broadcast of the Overwatch League playoffs on ESPN and Disney XD, the playoffs will also be live-streamed via Twitch, and on the ESPN app and DisneyNOW.

Facial recognition startup Kairos acquires Emotion Reader

Kairos, the face recognition technology used for brand marketing, has announced the acquisition of EmotionReader.

EmotionReader is an Limerick, Ireland-based startup that uses algorithms to analyze facial expressions around video content. The startup allows brands and marketers to measure viewers emotional response to video, analyze viewer response via an analytics dashboard, and make different decisions around media spend based on viewer response.

The acquisition makes sense considering that Kairos core business is focused on facial identification for enterprise clients. Knowing who someone is, paired with how they feel about your content, is a powerful tool for brands and marketers.

The idea for Kairos started when founder Brian Brackeen was making HR time-clocking systems for Apple. People were cheating the system, so he decided to implement facial recognition to ensure that employees were actually clocking in and out when they said they were.

That premise spun out into Kairos, and Brackeen soon realized that facial identification as a service was much more powerful than any niche time clocking service.

But Brackeen is very cautious with the technology Kairos has built.

While Kairos aims to make facial recognition technology (and all the powerful insights that come with it) accessible and available to all businesses, Brackeen has been very clear about the fact that Kairos isn’t interested in selling this technology to government agencies.

Brackeen recently contributed a post right here on TechCrunch outlining the various reasons why governments aren’t ready for this type of technology. Alongside the outstanding invasion of personal privacy, there are also serious issues around bias against people of color.

From the post:

There is no place in America for facial recognition that supports false arrests and murder. In a social climate wracked with protests and angst around disproportionate prison populations and police misconduct, engaging software that is clearly not ready for civil use in law enforcement activities does not serve citizens, and will only lead to further unrest.

As part of the deal, EmotionReader CTO Dr. Stephen Moore will run Kairos’ new Singapore-based R&D center, allowing for upcoming APAC expansion.

Kairos has raised approximately $8 million from investors New World Angels, Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, Backstage Capital, Morgan Stanley, Caerus Ventures, and Florida Institute.

Announcing the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 Agenda

TechCrunch Disrupt is the world’s biggest and most impactful tech startup conference, and this year, we’re upping the stakes even more. Taking place at Moscone West, Disrupt SF will feature the biggest names in tech, from Reid Hoffman to Kirsten Green to Dara Khosrowshahi.

The agenda will have something for everyone.

Into transportation tech? We’ll be joined by Cruise’s Kyle Vogt, BMW’s Dieter May, and Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Want to learn more about AI? Kai-Fu Lee from Sinovation and Clinc’s Jason Mars have plenty to show off. Or maybe you’re into cryptocurrencies? Well, we’ve got Ripple’s Brad Garlinghouse, Arrington XRP Capital’s Michael Arrington, Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong, and SEC SF Regional Director Jina Choi.

And that only scratches the surface.

Alongside the Main Stage agenda, we’ll also have the Next Stage with longer sessions and more panelists. This will give attendees the opportunity to dive deep on a particular subject.

We’re very proud of the show we’ve put together and are thrilled to give you a look at what’s in store.

Editor’s Note: Not all of our speakers are included on this agenda as we like to keep a couple tricks up our sleeves. ;)


Early Morning

How Did I Get Here by Cyan Banister (Founders Fund)

Founders Fund Partner Cyan Banister tells her surprising origin story and explains how people, not processes, were the key to her success. Main Stage @ 9:05AM

Beyond Moonshots with Alan Stern (NASA)

Alan Stern has overseen ambitious projects from NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission to Moon Express’s attempt at a privately developed lunar landing. Hear what’s next for interplanetary exploration and commercialization from an aerospace veteran. Next Stage @ 9:05AM

Gaming’s Next Respawn with John Riccitiello (Unity Technologies)

Unity wants to turn consumers into creators. Hear CEO John Riccitiello explain how his company’s gaming engine is making that possible by building development tools accessible to anyone. Main Stage @ 9:25AM

Rewriting Life’s Future with Rachel Haurwitz (Caribou Biosciences)

A fireside chat with Rachel Haurwitz, the chief executive and founder of Caribou Biosciences and one of the patent holders for CRISPR — the gene editing technology that may rewrite life as we know it. Next Stage @ 9:25AM

Insuring the Future with Mario Schlosser (Oscar Health) and Daniel Schreiber (Lemonade)

Two leading insuretech CEOs will discuss the challenges and opportunities of building a company in one of the world’s most sclerotic industries. Next Stage @ 9:45AM

Late Morning

From Private to Public with Drew Houston (Dropbox)

Dropbox’s CEO spent more than 10 years preparing his cloud storage company to go public; he’ll talk about what kept him going and where Dropbox goes from here. Main Stage @ 10:05AM

Beyond Startup Battlefield with Bobby Lo (Vurb), Aaron Patzer (Vital Software) and Michelle Zatlyn (Cloudflare)

Participating in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield can give your startup a distinct advantage. We talk to several Battlefield alumni and find out how the experience affected them. Next Stage @ 10:10AM

Decoding the DNA Opportunity with Anne Wojcicki (23andMe)

Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe to empower consumers with their genetic information. Now, 12 years after its founding, hear from CEO Wojcicki on the tremendous opportunities that can be unlocked by genetic testing. Main Stage @ 10:50AM

The Promise and Perils of Early Branding with Emily Heyward (Red Antler), Philip Krim (Casper) and Tina Sharkey (Brandless

Building a brand isn’t as simple as choosing a color scheme and designing a logo. Emily Heyward, Philip Krim and Tina Sharkey are experts in the business. Listen as they share their insights.  Next Stage @ 11:05AM

The Race to Win at AI: A Cross-Border View with Kai-Fu Lee (Sinovation Ventures)

Distinguished technologist and investor, Kai-Fu Lee on his provocative, forthcoming book, “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and The New World Order.” (Dr. Lee will also participate in a separate audience Q&A session after this interview.) Main Stage @ 11:15AM

Making Sound Investments with Ashton Kutcher and Effie Epstein (Sound Ventures)

Sound Ventures partners Ashton Kutcher and Effie Epstein on their firm’s investment thesis, the influence of celebrity status, and more in this wide-ranging interview. Main Stage @ 11:35AM

Advancing Equity in Silicon Valley: In Conversation with Arlan Hamilton (Backstage Capital) and Aniyia Williams (Black & Brown Founders)

Silicon Valley does not have a good track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Companies point to the “pipeline problem” as the culprit. But that’s a myth. Hear Arlan Hamilton and Aniyia Williams discuss how black and Latinx founders can take a bigger share of Silicon Valley’s money. Next Stage @ 11:50AM


Back in Fashion with Sophia Amoruso (Girlboss)

Sophia Amoruso founded and ran Nasty Gal and, along the way, turned her book Girlboss and Netflix series into a media company. Amoruso will sit down with former TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Bonatsos to discuss the challenges facing young executives of startups. Main Stage @ 1:00PM

Hardware (Investing) is Hard with Peter Barrett (Playground Global), Helen Boniske (Lemnos Labs) and Cyril Ebersweiler (Hax)

Three top hardware VCs discuss how AI, better sensors and GPUs, and the changing labor markets are remaking the robotics world. Next Stage @ 1:15PM

Live Demo with Jason Mars (Clinc)

See the latest in conversational artificial intelligence with this startup out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Main Stage @ 1:20PM

Defending the Future with Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin)

As the CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson has the tall order of leading the massive technology company in the age of Trump. Hear about the company’s latest efforts in artificial intelligence and space travel from the 35-year veteran of the company. Main Stage @ 1:35PM

Building the Car of Tomorrow, Today with Reilly Brennan (Trucks VC), Chris Urmson (Aurora) and others to be announced

Hear a discussion around regulations, technology and processes that need to be in place before self-driving cars can become a reality. Next Stage @ 1:40PM

Introduction to Startup Battlefield

Startup Battlefield host Anthony Ha explains the rules. Main Stage @ 2:05PM

Launching a New Space Economy with Natalya Bailey (Accion Systems), Peter Beck (Rocket Labs) and Will Marshall (Planet)

As rockets and satellites proliferate, Natalya Bailey, Peter Beck and Will Marshall will discuss how a new space economy is being built with room for nations and startups alike. Next Stage @ 2:05PM

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #1

TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is back, as entrepreneurs from around the world pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup and $100,000. Main Stage @ 2:10PM

In Conversation with Avichal Garg (Electric Capital) and others to be announced

Electric Capital’s Avichal Garg and others discuss all the variables that go along with an Initial Coin Offering. Next Stage @ 2:50PM

Early Evening

From Blockchain to Banking with Brad Garlinghouse (Ripple) and Michael Arrington (Arrington XRP Capital, founder, TechCrunch)

What sets XRP apart from the rest of the crypto crowd, and what’s in store for this intriguing, if volatile, category? Main Stage @ 3:00PM

Venture Capital in 2018 with Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), Megan Quinn (Spark Capital), Sarah Tavel (Benchmark Capital)

Hear three leading venture capitalists talk about the trends impacting, and in some cases roiling, the business of investing in startups. Main Stage @ 3:25PM

Reaching The Next Gamers with Roblox’s David Baszucki (Roblox)

The founder and CEO of Roblox built one of the most popular gaming platforms of this generation. During his fireside chat he’s set to talk about building a brand that’s embraced by younger players, and why Roblox is moving into education. Main Stage @ 4:10PM

Deliverance with DoorDash’s Tony Xu

As long as people are hungry and busy, food delivery will continue to have a huge market. All the same, it’s also a fiercely competitive business, with hundreds of me-too offerings, and hundreds more variants on the basic model. Hear from the founder and CEO of one of the leading startups in that space, DoorDash, talk about how he built a startup that stands apart from the fray and where it will go next. Next Stage @ 4:35PM

The Future of Finance with Jina Choi (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, San Francisco)

Jina Choi is the director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office where she sits at the epicenter of startups and finance. In this wide-ranging discussion we’ll explore what it takes to regulate, manage, and grow the financial world in a place where the rules change every minute. Main Stage @ 4:50PM

The Screen Is The Most Important Place In The World with Clark Valberg (InVision)

Prototyping an app or website used to take far too long. InVision’s collaboration and design software have changed that, but will it be enough to dethrone Adobe?  Next Stage @ 4:55PM

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #2

TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is back, as entrepreneurs from around the world pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup and $100,000. Main Stage @ 5:10PM


Early Morning

Product Launch and Fireside Chat Dieter May (BMW)

Watch the unveiling of BMW’s next innovation and hear what it took to build the technology. Main Stage @ 9:05AM

Running Toward Connected Fitness with John Foley (Peloton)

Peloton has transformed the fitness game with its internet-connected stationary bikes. Founder and CEO John Foley will join us to discuss the unicorn company’s rapid growth in the world of high-tech fitness. Next Stage @ 9:05AM

Finding the Next Silicon Valley with Doug Leone (Sequoia)

Hear how the global managing partner of Sequoia Capital helped set an overseas strategy — and cemented the firm’s status for years to come in this wide-ranging fireside chat with a icon in venture capital. Main Stage @ 9:25AM

Out of Prison, Off the Streets

Strong communities inside and outside of prison can help foster success. Hear from Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins (Promise), Rose Afriyie  (mRelief), Frederick Hutson (Pigeonly) and Neil Shah about how tech can help empower inmates and create pathways to success in communities.  Next Stage @ 9:25AM

A Very Busy Bee with Whitney Wolfe Herd (Bumble)

As the founder and CEO of one of the hottest dating apps, Whitney Wolfe Herd is set to discuss Bumble’s rapid growth, expansion into new verticals, and the company’s unconventional strategy around funding. Main Stage @ 9:45AM

Security in the Age of AI with Nicole Eagan (Darktrace) and Fengmin Gong (DiDi Labs)

Machine learning can help companies better protect their networks, but it also provides attackers with new tools. DiDi Labs Security VP Fengmin Gong and Darktrace CEO Nicole Eagan will discuss how their companies use these new technologies to keep hackers at bay and how others can do the same to keep their systems secure. Next Stage @ 9:50AM

Moonshot Philanthropy with Priscilla Chan (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative)

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative co-founder Priscilla Chan will discuss how tech giants can fund the next era of charity, balancing global giving with local causes, and funding social good startups to create a sustainable positive impact. Main Stage @ 10:10AM

Having Space in the Fund with Rob Coneybeer (Shasta Ventures), Tess Hatch (Bessemer Venture Partners) and Matt Ocko (DCVC)

They wanted moonshots, and now they have them. Hear from three top VCs on how space is no longer the final frontier of investing. Next Stage @ 10:10AM

Late Morning

10:50 AM – 11:20 AM
Uber, One Year Later with Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber)

Dara Khosrowshahi joined Uber last September following the ouster of then-CEO Travis Kalanick. It’s been a year since Khosrowshahi has taken the helm, and it’s time to talk about the challenges so far. Main Stage @ 10:50AM

Fireside Chat with Nikolay Storonsky (Revolut)

Nikolay Storonsky took his company from a $350 million valuation to a $1.7 billion valuation in under six months. Hear how he did it. Next Stage @ 11:05AM

Investing Outside the Valley with Steve Case (Revolution) and J.D. Vance (Rise of the Rest)

Aol co-founder Steve Case and best-selling author J.D. Vance are on a quest to find and fund startups throughout the United States. With a fresh $150 million ready to invest, hear why the pair is bullish on startups operating outside of Silicon Valley. Main Stage @ 11:20AM

The Art of Scaling with Reid Hoffman (Greylock)

As PayPal’s COO, LinkedIn’s co-founder, and a Greylock partner, Reid Hoffman turns ideas into world-changing companies. Hear his thoughts on tomorrow’s startup opportunities, today’s industry problems, and evergreen strategies to improve your business. Main Stage @ 11:40AM

Answering the Door with Jamie Siminoff (Ring)

Hardware is hard but Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff makes it look easy. Siminoff took the company from upstart to Amazon-owned in a few short years. How do you keep hardware fresh and how do you ensure privacy and security in a world of IoT? Siminoff has some ideas. Next Stage @ 11:50AM


Electronic Apparel Demo with Rich Mahoney (Seismic)

Seismic founder and CEO Rich Mahoney will debut the latest version of his startup’s powered clothing. Through a combination of textiles and robotics, Seismic’s garments are a kind of soft robotic exoskeleton. The suit’s electro-mechanical muscles increase the wearer’s mobility, while remaining discreet under their clothing. Next Stage @ 1:05PM

Taking on Silicon Valley with Marty Chavez (Goldman Sachs)

Goldman Sachs is taking over the tech world through engineering (and not the financial kind); we’ll talk with its CFO (and former COO) about the banking giant’s road map through Silicon Valley. Main Stage @ 1:20PM

United in Discord with Jason Citron (Discord)

Hear CEO Jason Citron talk about how the company he founded dominated an emerging market for messaging and leveled up online gaming by erasing the stereotype of the lonely gamer. Next Stage @ 1:20PM

Fireside Chat with Baiju Bhatt (Robinhood)

Hear how Robinhood figured out how to woo a younger audience into investing. But the startup, now worth $5.6 billion, can’t just remain a free stock trading app if it wants to become a next-generation financial institution — and it’s now looking to take over the whole notion of an investment portfolio including with cryptocurrency. Main Stage @ 1:40PM

Building for Voice with Jason Mars (Clinc) and Alex Smola (Amazon Web Services)

Once upon a time, we used our voices for the vast majority of our communication. And then came the written word, and then came the internet. But everything old is new again. Hear from Jason Mars and Alex Smola as they discuss how voice may be the next dominant interface and how to build for that future. Next Stage @ 1:40PM

Startup Battlefield – Flight #3

TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is back, as entrepreneurs from around the world pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup and $50,000. Main Stage @ 2:05PM

Connecting the Blocks with Sam Cassatt, Amanda Gutterman and Joseph Lubin (Consensys)

There is perhaps no firm that has done as much to promote the adoption of Ethereum as the dominant cryptocurrency platform for actual product development as Consensys. Hear the firm’s leaders discuss the possibilities of Ethereum and share their insights. Main Stage @ 2:55PM

Fireside Chat with Michael Rubin (Fanatics)

Hear serial entrepreneur Michael Rubin talk about what it’s like to run an e-commerce business worth billions.  Next Stage @ 2:50PM

Early Evening

The Sky’s the Limit with Chris Anderson (3DR), Adam Bry (Skydio), Laura Major (CyPhy) and Arnaud Thiercelin (DJI)

The drone revolution has just begun. From hobbyists to agriculture to the military, UAVs are set to have a profound impact on our economy and lives. Chris Anderson, Adam Bry and Arnaud Thiercelin will discuss the potential impact — and roadblocks — drones will face in the coming years. Next Stage @ 3:30PM

Driving Self-Driving Cars with Kyle Vogt (Cruise)

Fresh off a $2 billion investment from Softbank, hear a discussion with the CEO and co-founder of Cruise on building a self-driving startup, working through regulations and working as a startup within a massive company like General Motors. Main Stage @ 3:40PM

Building Successful E-Commerce with Warby Parker’s David Gilboa

Warby Parker’s co-founder and co-CEO David Gilboa launched and scaled Warby Parker to become an iconic eyeglass brand. He’ll fill us in on what it took to build the e-commerce company in the age of Amazon. Main Stage @ 4:00PM

Scooting Through Regulation with Emily Warren (Lime) and others to be announced

Emily Warren, formerly of Lyft’s transportation policy, joined Lime in early 2018 to help navigate the murky waters of on-demand transportation. Now that she’s settled in, we’ll learn what makes scooters and bikes trickier to navigate than on-demand car rides. Next Stage @ 4:15PM

Even Harder Things with Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz)

The renowned A16z investor and startup whisperer will sit down to discuss the hard things facing founders right now and how he feels they should overcome them. Main Stage @ 4:20PM

Launch and Demo with Brynn Putnam (Mirror)

Watch the unveiling of Mirror, which aims to redefine personal fitness. Main Stage @ 4:40PM

Why Chinese Tech Companies Go Public in the U.S. with Hans Tung (GGV Capital) and Yi Wang (LingoChamp)

Will the Belt and Road initiative pave over U.S. capital markets? GGV Capital managing partner Hans Tung and Yi Wang the CEO of Liulishuo discuss Chinese tech companies’ road to public markets in the U.S. Next Stage @ 5:05PM

Startup Battlefield – Flight #4

TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is back, as entrepreneurs from around the world pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup and $100,000. Main Stage @ 5:15PM


Early Morning

Beauty and the Beat with Emily Weiss (Glossier) and Kirsten Green (Forerunner Ventures)

Cosmetics company Glossier got its start as a spinoff of a beauty blog, Into the Gloss, and both have become that rare thing in the world of startups, breakout hits. Hear from the mastermind behind both, Emily Weiss and her star investor Kirsten Green, about how the two were built, and why they don’t worry about being beat by Amazon. Main Stage @ 9:05AM

The Power and the Promise of 5G with Chaitanya Kanojia (Starry) and others to be announced

5G has been on the horizon for years, and it looks like it’s almost here. What does that mean?  Will it be the technological leap we’ve been waiting for? Next Stage @ 9:05AM

Quantum Supremacy with Dario Gil (IBM)

IBM has long been at the forefront of quantum computing research. Dr. Dario Gil heads up IBM’s AI research efforts and commercial quantum computing program. We’ll talk about what quantum computing is, what it means for the future of tech and how we can separate hype from reality. Main Stage @ 9:30AM

Dismantling Algorithmic Bias with Patrick Ball (HRDAG), Brian Brackeen (Kairos) and Kristian Lum (HRDAG)

We often hear of racist and biased algorithms, but what does it take to ensure the algorithms used to make decisions about potentially life-changing circumstances like bail and policing are fair? And what does fair even mean? Human Rights Data Analysis data scientists Patrick Ball and Kristian Lum are going to help answer those questions. Next Stage @ 9:45AM

Building a Quantum Computing startup with Chad Rigetti (Rigetti Computing)

Rigetti Computing wants to make quantum computing available to every developer. To do that, the well-funded startup is building its own quantum computers that will compete with those of its bigger competitors. Rigetti Founder and CEO Chad Rigetti will join us to talk about the challenges of building a quantum computer in 2018 and where the company is going next. Main Stage @ 9:50AM

Printing the Next Footwear Joseph DeSimone (Carbon) and Eric Liedtke (Adidas)

Carbon’s unique technology has already printed thousands of Adidas 3D Futurecraft sneakers, with plans to expand into the millions. Hear executives from both companies talk about using technology to design soles that can’t be created with more traditional methods. Main Stage @ 10:10AM

Y Combinator Do’s and Don’ts: In Conversation with Dalton Caldwell and Michael Seibel (Y Combinator)

Y Combinator fundamentally changed the investing game circa 2007 with its approach of taking shots in the dark on a wide array of companies. That strategy finally paid off earlier this year when Dropbox went public, a “dream come true” for the firm. But now there are dozens of accelerators and an at-times ridiculous amount of seed capital available — so it comes down to what Y Combinator can offer its founders and where it thinks the whole idea of an “accelerator” is going. Next Stage @ 10:10AM

Late Morning

Creating A Monster with Mike Judge (HBO’s Silicon Valley)

No show has done a better job of portraying Silicon Valley than… well, Silicon Valley. Co-creator Mike Judge talks about the show’s monster success. Plus, what’s new for Season 6? Main Stage @ 11:15AM

Demo with Brian Brackeen (Kairos)

Facial recognition is coming whether we like or not, but Kairos CEO Brian Brackeen is particularly cautious about how this technology might be used. Main Stage @ 11:35AM

In Conversation with Laura Deming (The Longevity Fund), Arvind Gupta (SOSV), Nina Kjellson (Canaan Partners)

Join us to discuss what’s overhyped and underfunded in the world in the world of biotech investing. 

Next Stage @ 11:45AM

The Future of African Tech with Tayo Oviosu (Paga) and others to be announced. 

Elite members of Africa’s startup landscape like Paga Payments chief executive Tayo Oviosu talk to us about the challenges and opportunities in one of the newest (and most exciting) emerging markets for tech entrepreneurship. Main Stage @ 11:50AM


Are Fat Rounds Eating the Lean Startup? with Eric Ries (author, The Lean Startup) and David Hornik (August Capital)

In an era of multi-billion dollar investment rounds and hundred billion dollar funds can a lean startup survive? Eric Ries, the architect of the lean startup model, and David Hornik, the managing partner of August Capital, will help us find out. Next Stage @ 1:10PM

Startup Battlefield Alumni Update

Battlefield startups from the past return to the stage to tell us what they’ve been up to since they competed for the Disrupt Cup. Main Stage @ 1:15PM

Extinguishing Silicon Valley’s Trash Fire with Danielle Brown (Google) and Bo Young Lee (Uber)

Uber and Google’s respective heads of diversity have been busy. While Uber looked to recover from a year of sexual harassment allegations, Google had some problems of its own. We’ll hear from Uber’s Bo Young Lee and Google’s Danielle Brown about how each company is trying to make amends. Next Stage @ 1:35PM

Startup Battlefield Final

TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is back, as entrepreneurs from around the world pitch expert judges and vie for the Battlefield Cup and $100,000. Main Stage @ 1:40PM

Hackathon Finals

Finalists from our first-ever virtual Hackathon will take the stage to pitch their wares. Next Stage @ 2:00PM

How Coinbase Keeps Building with Brian Armstrong (Coinbase)

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has kept his company going through booms and busts. In this one-on-one we’ll explore what Coinbase did to keep its focus on providing cryptocurrency services. Main Stage @ 3:20PM

Launch and Demo with Delane Parnell (PlayVS)

Hear from Delane Parnell about the evolution of esports, and check out the high school esports platform for the very first time. Main Stage @ 3:40PM

Early Evening

Startup Battlefield Closing Awards Ceremony

Watch the crowning of the latest winner of Startup Battlefield. Main Stage @ 4:15PM

Instacart hires its first Chief Communications Officer, Dani Dudeck

Instacart, the grocery delivery platform valued at $4.2 billion, has today announced that it has hired its first Chief Communications Officer in Dani Dudeck.

Dudeck has been in the communications world for the past 15 years, serving as VP of Global Communications at MySpace for four years and moving to Zynga as CCO in 2010. At Zynga, Dudeck oversaw corporate and consumer reputation of the brand before and after its IPO, helping the company through both tremendous periods of growth and a rapidly changing mobile gaming landscape.

Dudeck joins Instacart at an equally interesting time for the company. Though Instacart is showing no signs of slowing down — the company recently raised $200 million in funding — the industry as a whole is seeing growing interest from incumbents and behemoth tech companies alike.

Amazon last year acquired Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion, signaling the e-commerce giant’s intention to get into the grocery business. Plus, Target acquired Shipt for $550 million in December. Meanwhile, Walmart has partnered with DoorDash and Postmates for grocery delivery after a short-lived partnership with Uber and Lyft.

In other words, the industry is at a tipping point. Instacart not only needs to out-maneuver the increasingly competitive space, but continue to tell its story to both consumers and potential shoppers/employees alike.

Dudeck plans to hit the ground running after having been an Instacart customer since 2013.

Here’s what Dudeck had to say in a prepared statement:

We’ve been an Instacart family for years and as a mom it’s been a game changer for me. Our home is powered by Instacart because over the years, I saw how the products helped me better manage our household rhythm. Whether I’m doing a fast diaper delivery or fresh groceries for our weekly shopping, I love feeling like I can be in two places at once while getting to spend more time with my family. After getting to know the internal team, I was blown away by the strength of Instacart’s business and the unique culture they’ve created. By building on that success, we have a compelling opportunity to grow Instacart into a beloved, household name and turn Express into a must-have membership for families and busy people everywhere. I’m excited to join the management team and partner with them to accelerate their ambitious plans for future growth.

PlayVS CEO Delane Parnell to talk high school eSports at Disrupt SF

The gaming world is evolving at a rapid clip. No longer is the idea of the lonely gamer a reality. Twitch and Discord have brought gamers together and given everyone the opportunity to see just how talented some of these young players are. Meanwhile, publishers and eSports organizations have built out an infrastructure.

But there is plenty left to do, and PlayVS founder and CEO Delane Parnell is well aware of this.

We’re amped to announce that Parnell is joining us at TC Disrupt SF in September to talk about how high school esports could pave the way for even more growth in this industry.

PlayVS is a startup that has partnered with the NFHS to bring esports to the high school level, providing infrastructure around scheduling, refs, rules, and state tournaments. Not only does this allow high school students to get extracurricular experience doing what they love (playing video games), but it offers a new way for esports orgs and colleges to look at the bright young talent coming up through the ranks.

PlayVS launched in April after securing its partnership with the NFHS. Through this partnership, the company will be able to bring organized esports to more than 18 states and approximately 5 million students across 5,000 high schools.

The company has since raised $15 million in Series A, and the inaugural season begins in October of this year.

We’re absolutely thrilled to get the chance to sit down with Parnell to discuss the launch of the platform and hear about how high school esports could set the tone for the industry as a whole.

Tickets to Disrupt SF are available here.

Apple releases new iPad, FaceID ads

Apple has released a handful of new ads promoting the iPad’s portability and convenience over both laptops and traditional paper solutions. The 15-second ads focus on how the iPad can make even the most tedious things — travel, notes, paperwork, and ‘stuff’ — just a bit easier.

Three out of the four spots show the sixth-generation iPad, which was revealed at Apple’s education event in March, and which offers a lower-cost ($329 in the U.S.) option with Pencil support.

The ads were released on Apple’s international YouTube channels (UAE, Singapore, and United Kingdom).

This follows another 90-second ad released yesterday, focusing on FaceID. The commercial shows a man in a gameshow-type setting asked to remember the banking password he created earlier that morning. He struggles for an excruciating amount of time before realizing he can access the banking app via FaceID.

There has been some speculation that FaceID may be incorporated into some upcoming models of the iPad, though we’ll have to wait until Apple’s next event (likely in September) to find out for sure.

Apple reportedly working on next-gen, water-resistant AirPods

Apple is reportedly working on a new, likely more expensive, set of AirPods with noise-cancellation, according to Bloomberg.

The report cites people familiar with the matter, who said that Apple is exploring making the AirPods water resistant. That said, you still don’t want to go swimming with these things, as the rumored water resistant AirPods would be more likely to only stand up against perspiration and rain rather than being submerged.

Bloomberg said that one source suggested Apple could add biometric sensors to the next-gen AirPods, furthering the company’s health tracking efforts. Sources also say that the updated AirPods would come with a new case that is compatible with the Apple’s new wireless charging pad.

As it stands now, AirPods cost $159 in the U.S. The new, rumored pair of in-ear wireless headphones will likely cost more, allowing Apple to price AirPods the same way it prices iPhones, offering a more expensive high-end model and a low-end model like the iPhone SE.

This news comes in the middle of a big year for Apple’s auditory efforts.

On the one hand, Apple’s Amazon Echo competitor, the HomePod, was delayed quite a bit following its announcement. Bloomberg says Cupertino is already hard at work developing a new model.

Apple is also reportedly working on over-the-ear headphones. The headphones would be Apple-branded, and would be on the higher-end of the spectrum with Boze and Sennheiser. The company already sells over-the-ear headphones via Beats, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion.