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Mobile game startup Madbox raises $16.5 million after 100 million downloads

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French startup Madbox is raising a $16.5 million (€15 million) Series A funding round from Alven. The company is developing mobile games and handles everything from start to finish, from game design to publishing and user acquisition.

Madbox is a young player in the mobile game space. The company is the result of the merger of two tiny Paris-based game studios in July 2018. After a couple of months, the startup released its first game, Dash Valley. And the game quickly ended up trending in the top 50 of top free game downloads in the App Store in the U.S.

The company has released a handful of games since then. At some point, Madbox had three games in the top 10 charts in the U.S. (once again, free game downloads) — StickMan Hook, Sausage Flip and Idle Ball Race. Overall, Madbox has generated 100 million game downloads.

“The core method at Madbox is that we internalize everything,” co-founder and CEO Jean-Nicolas Vernin told me. “We try to automate as many thing as possible.”

In addition to reusing assets from one game to another, Madbox also tries to apply the same method when it comes to user acquisition and marketing. “People often tell us that we have a data-driven culture that is disproportionately developed in our company,” Vernin said.

Madbox has a careful approach when it comes to growth. The company hires slowly and doesn’t release dozens of games in a year.

With 30 to 40 employees and a business model mostly based on ads, the company is currently profitable. Madbox now wants to tackle a wider range of mobile games, from hyper casual to idle games and less casual games. The startup is also opening a second office in Barcelona.

“We are a generation of friends who have worked for well-known casual game studios. And we all think that big game productions will have to become simpler so that people can play them like casual games — and vice versa,” Vernin said. And Madbox wants to be there when these two worlds collide.

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Live from Georgetown — Standing For Voice and Free Expression.

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Live from Georgetown — Standing For Voice and Free Expression.

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Zuckerberg spoke today for 40 minutes at Georgetown University and then did a Q&A to share his thoughts on speech and “how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world.” He discussed how “We want the progress of free expression without the tension,” leading people to advocate for pulling back on free expression. “Where do you draw the line?”

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Zuckerberg says that Facebook now has 35,000 people working on security, and the company’s security budget is higher now than the whole revenue of the company when it IPO’d, which was $5 billion in 2012. Facebook removes or downranks content that is objectively dangerous. Still, he says that he doesn’t want to “let the definition of what is dangerous expand beyond what’s absolutely necessary.”

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Coining a new phrase, Zuckerberg noted that “People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world u2014 a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society.”

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On allowing political ads on Facebook even if they carry misinformation, Zuckerberg argues that “political ads can be an important part of voice, especially for local candidates, up and coming challengers and advocacy groups that the media might not otherwise cover. That way they can get their voice into the debate.” While that may be true, the same system allows whichever group or candidate has the most funding to dominate the narrative.

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I recently argued that Facebook should drop all political ads until regulation to prevent their use to spread misinformation was passed. President Trump is spending more than many of his Democratic party rivals combined while using lies about them planning to remove the second amendment to raise money.

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Zuckerberg Georgetown Wideshot

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Still, Zuckerberg argues, “Banning political ads favors incumbents and whoever the media chooses to cover.” He did not address who spends the most or how Facebook could still offer free expression of candidates to their own followers even if it banned political ads. He essentially drew no distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of reach aka paid amplification through ads. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri echoed this sentiment, equating ads and speech, tweeting “I believe that people deserve to hear what politicians are saying and make up their own minds.” After some discussion, though, Mosseri admitted u201cI often wish we couldu201d ban political ads, but said it would be complex to define what did and didnu2019t qualify as one.

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Relying on favoring incumbents argument ignores how President Trump has spent $4.9 million on Facebook ads this year compared to $9.6 million spent by the 23 Democratic candidates combined, and that Trump had outspent them all put together as of March. Banning political ads wouldn’t prevent candidates from saying what they want and being judged, but it would stop richer candidates’ speech from having more weight.

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trump 2020 facebook ads 1558042973182 facebookJumbo v10

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Overall, Zuckerberg sounded more passionate and empathetic than in his recent testimonies on Capitol Hill. He seemed to take on some of the cadence and tone of former President Barack Obama, pitching up his voice to stress the urgency of challenges facing democracy. However, the speech format allowed Zuckerberg to avoid immediate pushback on his points, such as why political advertising favors challengers if it’s incumbents with the most money to spend. Zuckerberg did hold a Q&A after his speech, but the stream of that wasn’t broadcast from his Page like the prepared remarks, and he mostly reiterated points from the speech.

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Zuckerberg drove home one important theme threaded throughout the talk, though. He attempted to link the idea of U.S. companies potentially policing free expression to protect safety and elections with how China censors speech. And while other companies like the NBA and Blizzard that do significant business with the country try to downplay its influence, Zuckerberg spoke up about how the tentacles of China’s values are choking off speech far beyond its borders.

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China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued today in a speech at Georgetown University. He criticized how American companies that do business with China were becoming influenced by the country’s values. […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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I would say that FB is also censoring quite heavily.
nAlso, political ads have ALWAYS been iffy. Come on folks!

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i get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,…… http://www.Your70.Com

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/17/zuckerberg-speech/#comment-676520","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/12aa618ae252ece5352dc0711469b61e?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/12aa618ae252ece5352dc0711469b61e?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/12aa618ae252ece5352dc0711469b61e?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"NOW474YLR3IF6AEZUR573IOZ7Y"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/676520"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1899153"}]}},{"id":676505,"parent":676500,"author":0,"author_name":"Rashaverick Overlord","author_url":"","date":"2019-10-17T13:31:52","content":{"rendered":"

Here’s an honest way to fix all this, at 161 times faster, at lower cost than print or image or video or film, independenrly reviewed online on August 6th, 2019 at cmsvoice.com, from award winning and in global use SPEECH MORPHING “Eradicating Illiteracy(TM), that is safe and secure of high quality automation of any VOICE, in any dialects or languages, wifi, in real time on any platfotm or equipment, croas languages, cross families of languages, voice restoration, music and lyrics, etc. Online FOR FREE download TALKMONDO.COM “The World at the Tip of Your Tongue(TM)”.

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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Mark Zuckerberg Georgetown

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Nvidia Shield Android TV streaming device leaks via Amazon listing"},"content":{"rendered":"

The fact that Nvidia is updating its Shield TV hardware has already been telegraphed via an FCC filing, but a leak earlier today paints much more of a detailed picture. An Amazon listing for a new Nvidia Shield Pro set-top streaming device went live briefly before being taken down, showing a familiar hardware design and a new remote control and listing some of the forthcoming feature updates new to this generation of hardware.

n

The listing, captured by the eagle-eyed Android TV Rumors and shared via Twitter, includes a $199.99 price point, specs that include 3GB of RAM, 2x USB ports, a new Nvidia Tegra X1+ chip and 16GB of on-board storage. In addition to the price, the Amazon listing had a release date for the new hardware of October 28.

n

If this Amazon page is accurate (and it looks indeed like an official product page that one would expect from Nvidia), the new Shield TV’s processor will be “up to 25% faster than the previous generation,” and will offer “next-generation AI upscaling” for improving the quality of HD video on 4K-capable displays.

n

It’ll offer support for Dolby Vision HDR, plus surround sound with Dolby Atmos support, and provide “the most 4K HDR content of any streaming media player.” There’s also built-in Google Assistant support, which was offered on the existing hardware, and it’ll work with Alexa for hands-free control.

n
n n

n

The feature photos for the listing show a new remote control, which has a pyramid-like design, as well as a lot more dedicated buttons on the face. There’s backlighting, and an IR blaster for TV control, as well as a “built-in lost remote locator” according to the now-removed Amazon page.

n

This Amazon page certainly paints a comprehensive picture of what to expect, and it looks like a compelling update to be sure. The listing is gone now, however, so stay tuned to find out if this is indeed the real thing, and if this updated streamer will indeed be available soon.

n

UPDATE:u00a0Yet another Nvidia leak followed the first, this time through retailer Newegg (via The Verge). This is different, however, and features a Shield TV device (no “Pro” in the name) that has almost all the same specs, but a much smaller design that includes a microSD card, and seems to have half the amount of on-board storage (8GB versus 16GB) and a retail price of around $150.

n

nvidia.0

n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

The fact that Nvidia is updating its Shield TV hardware has already been telegraphed via an FCC filing, but a leak earlier today paints much more of a detailed picture. An Amazon listing for a new Nvidia Shield Pro set-top streaming device went live briefly before being taken down, showing a familiar hardware design and […]

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WeWork problem"},"content":{"rendered":"

Airbnb may be another overvalued “unicorn,” but it’s no WeWork.

n

The Information this morning reported new Airbnb financials u2014 indicating a massive increase in operating losses u2014 that immediately call Airbnb’s future into question. Precisely, Airbnb lost $306 million on operations on $839 million in revenue, namely as a result of marketing spend, in the first quarter of 2019. In total, Airbnb invested $367 million in sales and marketing, representing a 58% increase year-over-year, in Q1. The company is gearing up for a major liquidity event next year and is making a concerted effort to rake in new customers, as any soon-to-be-public business would.

n

Given WeWork’s sudden demise, coupled with Uber and Lyft’s lukewarm performances on the stock markets, many have wondered how Wall Street will respond to Airbnb’s eventual IPO prospectus. Will money managers have an appetite for another over-valued Silicon Valley darling? Or will the market compete like mad for shares in the massive home-sharing marketplace?

n

But Airbnb, again, is no WeWork, and I wager Wall Street will have a much friendlier approach to its offering. For one, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Chesky isn’t dropping $60 million on private jets u2014 I don’t think. CEO behaviors aside, Airbnb has more capital in the bank than it has raised in its entire 11-year history, which is a whole lot of money. This is all according to a source who is familiar with Airbnbu2019s financials and shared this detail with TechCrunch following The Information’s Thursday morning report. As for Airbnb, the company told TechCrunch, “we canu2019t comment on the figures, but 2019 is a big investment year in support of our hosts and guests.”

n

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014

n

Airbnb has attracted more than $3.5 billion in equity funding at a $31 billion valuation and has even more locked away in its bank account. Additionally, Airbnb has an untouched $1 billion credit line, the source said. Presumably, the referenced credit line is the 2016 $1 billion debt financing from JPMorgan, CitiGroup, Morgan Stanley and others.

n

Moreover, Airbnb has been u201ccumulativelyu201d free cash flow positive for some time, meaning that it’s seen more money coming in than going out during recent quarters, according to our source. It has been reported that Airbnb surpassed $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2019 and in the third quarter of 2018, but we’re guessing the business did not top $1 billion in Q4 of 2018 or Q1 of 2019 because it if had, that information would probably have been “leaked.”

n

Finally, Airbnb has been profitable on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis for two consecutive years, the company announced in January. Gross bookings, meanwhile, are growing, as is Airbnb’s business offering and its experiences product.

n

Why does any of this matter, you ask?

n

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Airbnb may be another overvalued ‘unicorn,’ but it’s no WeWork.u00a0

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Kate Clark is a reporter at TechCrunch covering startups and venture capital. She's interested in diversity & inclusion, consumer technology, mobility and more.

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She previously covered the venture capital ecosystem for PitchBook News.

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A Seattle native, she is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she studied journalism and international studies.

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Reach Kate via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

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She previously covered the venture capital ecosystem for PitchBook News.

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A Seattle native, she is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she studied journalism and international studies.

nn

Reach Kate via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

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Unity built the worldu2019s most popular game engine"},"content":{"rendered":"

What do BMW, Tencent, Poku00e9mon Go creator Niantic, movie director Jon Favreau and construction giant Skanska have in common? Theyu2019re all using the same platform to create their products.

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Founded in a small Copenhagen apartment in 2004, Unity Technologiesu2019 makes a game engine u2014 a software platform for building video games. But the company, which was recently valued around $6 billion and could be headed toward an IPO, is becoming much more than that.

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u201cUnity wants to be the 3D operating system of the world,u201d says Sylvio Drouin, VP of the Unity Labs R&D team.

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Customers can design, buy, or import digital assets like forests, sound effects, and aliens and create the logic guiding how all these elements interact with players. Nearly half of the worldu2019s games are built with Unity, which is particularly popular among mobile game developers.u00a0

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And in the fourteen years since Unityu2019s engine launched, the size of the global gaming market has exploded from $27 billion to $135 billion, driven by the rise of mobile gaming, which now comprises the majority of the market.

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Unity is increasingly used for 3D design and simulations across other industries like film, automotive, and architecture and is now used to create 60% of all augmented and virtual reality experiences. That positions Unity u2014 as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg argued in a 2015 memo in favor of acquiring it u2014 as a key platform for the next wave of consumer technology after mobile.

n

Unityu2019s growth is a case study of Clayton Christensenu2019s theory of disruptive innovation. While other game engines targeted the big AAA game makers at the top of the console and PC markets, Unity went after independent developers with a less robust product that was better suited to their needs and budget.u00a0

n

As it gained popularity, the company captured growth in frontier market segments and also expanded upmarket to meet the needs of higher-performance game makers. Today, itu2019s making a push to become the top engine for building anything in interactive 3D.

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This article is part of my ongoing research into the future of interactive media experiences. This research has included interviews with dozens of developers, executives, and investors in gaming and other industries, including interviews with over 20 Unity executives.

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Founding

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Unity was founded in Copenhagen by Nicholas Francis, Joachim Ante, and David Helgason. Its story began on an OpenGL forum in May 2002, where Francis posted a call for collaborators on an open source shader-compiler (graphics tool) for the niche population of Mac-based game developers like himself. It was Ante, then a high school student in Berlin, who responded.u00a0

n

Ante complemented Francisu2019 focus on graphics and gameplay with an intuitive sense for back-end architecture. Because the game he was working on with another team wasnu2019t going anywhere, they collaborated on the shader part-time while each pursued their own game engine projects, but decided to combine forces upon meeting in-person. In a sprint to merge the codebases of their engines, they camped out in Helgasonu2019s apartment for several days while he was out of town. The plan was to start a game studio grounded in robust tech infrastructure that could be licensed as well.

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Helgason and Francis had worked together since high school, working on various web development ventures and even short-lived attempts at film production. Helgason dropped in and out of the University of Copenhagen while working as a freelance web developer. He provided help where he could and joined full-time after several months, selling his small stake in a web development firm to his partners.u00a0

n

According to Ante, Helgason was u201cgood with peopleu201d and more business-oriented, so he took the CEO title after the trio failed to find a more experienced person for the role. (It would be two years before Ante and Francis extended the co-founder title and a corresponding amount of equity to Helgason.)

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They recruited a rotating cast to help them for free while prototyping a wide range of ideas. The diversity of ideas they pursued resulted in an engine that could handle a broad range of use cases. Commercializing the engine became a focus, as was coming up with a hit game that would show the engine off to its best advantage; for indie developers, having to reconstruct an engine with every new game idea was a pain point that, if solved, would enable more creative output.u00a0

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Supported by their savings, a u20ac25,000 investment from Anteu2019s father, and Helgasonu2019s part-time job at a cafu00e9, they pressed on for three years, incorporating in the second year (2004) with the name Over The Edge Entertainment.

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The game they ultimately committed to launching in spring 2005, GooBall, was u201cway too hard to play,u201d says Ante and didnu2019t gain much traction. Recognizing that they were better at building development tools and prototypes than commercially-viable games, they bet their company on the goal of releasing a game engine for the small Mac-based developer community. Linking the connotations of collaboration and cross-compatibility, they named the engine Unity.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

What do BMW, Tencent, Poku00e9mon Go creator Niantic, movie director Jon Favreau and construction giant Skanska have in common? Theyu2019re all using the same platform to create their products. Founded in a small Copenhagen apartment in 2004, Unity Technologiesu2019 makes a game engine u2014 a software platform for building video games. But the company, which […]

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Over the past few years, gig economy companies and the treatment of their labor force has become a hot button issue for public and private sector debate.

n

At our recent annual Disrupt event in San Francisco, we dug into how founders, companies and the broader community can play a positive role in the gig economy, with help fromu00a0Derecka Mehrens, an executive director atu00a0Working Partnerships USAu00a0and co-founder ofu00a0Silicon Valley Rising u2014 an advocacy campaign focused on fighting for tech worker rights and creating an inclusive tech economy u2014 andu00a0Amanda de Cadenet, founder ofu00a0Girlgaze, a platform that connects advertisers with a network of 200,000 female-identifying and non-binary creatives.

n

Derecka and Amanda dove deep into where incumbent gig companies have fallen short, what they’re doing to right the ship, whether VC and hyper-growth mentalities fit into a sustainable gig economy, as well as thoughts on Uber’s new ‘Uber Works’ platform and CA AB-5. The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

n

n

Where current gig companies are failing

n

Arman Tabatabai: What was the original promise and value proposition of the gig economy? What went wrong?

n

Derecka Mehrens: The gig economy exists in a larger context, which is one in which neoliberalism is failing, trickle-down economics is proven wrong, and every day working people aren’t surviving and are looking for something more.

n

And so you have a situation in which the system we put together to create employment, to create our communities, to build our housing, to give us jobs is dysfunctional. And within that, folks are going to come up with disruptive solutions to pieces of it with a promise in mind to solve a problem. But without a larger solution, that will end up, in our view, exacerbating existing inequalities.

n

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Over the past few years, gig economy companies and the treatment of their labor force has become a hot button issue for public and private sector debate. At our recent annual Disrupt event in San Francisco, we dug into how founders, companies and the broader community can play a positive role in the gig economy, […]

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(Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

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press for your startup: the true role of communications"},"content":{"rendered":"

Welcome to this edition of The Operators, a recurring Extra Crunch column produced by insiders with executive experience at companies like AirBnB, Brex, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Slack, Square, Twitter, and Uber, sharing their stories and insights. Itu2019s made for founders who are navigating domains outside their expertise, covering topics they may be learning for the first time like enterprise sales, product management, and finance/accounting.

n

In this episode:

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    n
  1. When and how should a company seek press coverage?
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  3. The difference between marketing and communications
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  5. Building relationships with reporters
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  7. Being or identifying a great communications leader
  8. n
n

Early on, most founders and investors focus on getting positive press, but if theyu2019re unfortunate or make mistakes, mitigating bad coverage becomes a common goal. Broadly, communications consists of how and what information to share, both inside and outside of the company, touching domains like management, recruiting, marketing, and business development. Itu2019s also highly optimizable and often, mission critical u2014 the difference between dramatic success and catastrophic failure.

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We spoke with three communications experts to learn more:

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  • Sean Garrett was Twitter’s first VP of Communications. He previously worked for Governor Pete Wilson of California and has founded two separate communications firms, with clients including Slack, Cisco, and Disney. Heu2019s currently a Managing Partner at Pramana Collective.
  • n
  • Faryl Ury is a former reporter with experience at NPR and the Associated Press. Her communications experience also began in government, working for US Senator Jeanne Shaheen before managing comms at Square and Uber. She was then a marketing executive at Dropbox before becoming the Director of Communications at Aurora, a leading autonomous vehicle company, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Amazon, and Hyundai.
  • n
  • Adi Raval started as a journalist at ABC News and the BBC, covering 9/11, the Iraq War, and the White House. He moved into government as a diplomat for the State Department serving in Afghanistan, and later, as a spokesperson and Director of Communications at USAID. After leaving government, Adi was the top communications executive for the Bechtel Corporation, the Head of Comms and PR for TaskRabbit, and now the Head of Communications at Kodiak Robotics. Heu2019s also a term member for the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • n
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Below is a synthesized summary of our conversation; check out The Operators for the full episode.

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When and how should a company seek press coverage?

n

Investors love to see public recognition of their portfolio companies, and founders sometimes believe press coverage will solve all their problems, yielding a panacea of inbound customers, employees, and new backers. Whether itu2019s a fundraising announcement or a product launch, more exposure can only help, right? Of course, thatu2019s not always true. Being unprepared for an influx of inbound interest can lead to bad experiences and a negative reputation.

n

What’s more likely than a bad response? No response at all: reporters are constantly pitched by entrepreneurs seeking coverage who don’t have a compelling story to share, which means most of them are primed to say “no.”

n

Faryl told us that when she asks founders why they want to do press, they often answer, “our investors told us to,” or “I talked to other entrepreneurs and they do press.” Being prepared for the response means knowing what you want the response to be, which in turn means knowing what you have to say, and why anyone will listen and respond the right way. Thinking through this exercise involves asking questions, said Sean, specifically, u201cwhat is your positioning? What is your messaging? And for some organizations, that’s the right first step to figure out, at a high level, what are we even trying to accomplish here…?u201d

n

Having a clear purpose in mind before approaching reporters will also help you execute. For some startups, landing a story with trade press may be better than being written up by a generalized tech publication. On the other hand, if youu2019re spending a ton of money on Facebook and Google to advertise directly to consumers, getting coverage in the right publications may be much more efficient and impactful.u00a0

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Welcome to this edition of The Operators, a recurring Extra Crunch column produced by insiders with executive experience.

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CEO explains how the company ‘fully embraces’ streaming"},"content":{"rendered":"

Does TiVo has a future beyond the DVR?

n

Dave Shull certainly hopes so. The former Weather Channel CEO joined the company as president and CEO back in May, and when I spoke to him last month, he insisted that he’s excited and optimistic about the company’s prospects.

n

In fact, he said the DVR business “is not really TiVo” anymore. And the proliferation of streaming services is exactly what’s creating a big new opportunity for the company, one where it can help consumers navigate the seemingly overwhelming streaming landscape.

n

“Let’s embrace the chaos,” Shull told me. “The more streaming, the better.”

n

In the interview below u2014 which has been edited and condensed for clarity u2014 we discuss why he took on the job, how he plans to split TiVo into two companies and his plans for TiVo+, the company’s ad-supported streaming service (which launched earlier this week.)

n

TechCrunch: It seems like part of the goal with you coming on as CEO is this idea of reinventing the company for the world of streaming.

n

Dave Shull: We fully embrace the streaming wars at TiVo, is what I would say.

n

A little bit of context. I’ve known the company for years, because I’ve been familiar with some of the technology pieces that they had in the IP portfolio. But before I took the job, I talked to CTOs at some of the major operators around the world and said, “TiVo, right? I mean this is a company I’ve heard of, but are they still around?” And the answer consistently was, “Yeah, it’s actually the best technology out there.”

n

So I started talking to the board and eventually I get the job offer. I walk into a Best Buy and I pick up a Roku box and a TiVo box. I install the Roku box. It’s a brilliant installation process, absolutely brilliant. But then what it gives you is a bunch of different tiles for each of the apps. And so you have to figure out, okay, was that show on Netflix or Hulu?

n

The TiVo experience was a little bit u2014 it needed some more work, is the polite way to say it. But once I had it installed, it’s taken my live TV and my on-demand Prime, Netflix, Hulu and some digital content and pulled it all together. That’s pretty cool because it’s allowing me to find the entertainment that I want to watch tonight, right?

n

And so we’re betting on this chaos of applications that are out there with the streaming wars, saying people are having fatigue from subscriptions and they are desperate to find an amazing way to go back to enjoying watching their TV again. They want someone who can bring all this entertainment together u2014 on-demand, live, digital u2014 and make it fun to find, to watch TV again. So that’s our mission. Very simple.

n

I came in three months ago. The first mandate is, we’ve decided to split the company. So about half of the company is an IP portfolio, 5,000 patents. Then we have the TiVo product base u2014 and everyone thinks of TiVo as this DVR that you buy at Best Buy. That’s really not TiVo, that’s a tiny fraction of our customers. We have 22 million households around the world that use TiVo to provide exactly what I just said, which is this amazing ability to find entertainment.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Does TiVo has a future beyond the DVR? Dave Shull certainly hopes so. The former Weather Channel CEO joined the company as president and CEO back in May, and when I spoke to him last month, he insisted that he’s excited and optimistic about the company’s prospects. In fact, he said the DVR business “is […]

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Anthony Ha is a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising and co-hosts the Original Content podcast. Previously, he worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, and a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance. He lives in New York City.

","cbAvatar":"https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/vlqk5j1ukg37id0pflay","twitter":"anthonyha","_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/31035538"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users"}]}}],"author":[{"id":31035538,"name":"Anthony Ha","url":"","description":"","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/anthony-ha/","slug":"anthony-ha","avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"links":{"facebook":"https://www.facebook.com/anthonyha","twitter":"https://twitter.com/anthonyha","linkedin":"http://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonyha","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/anthony-ha"},"position":"Senior Writer","cbDescription":"

Anthony Ha is a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising and co-hosts the Original Content podcast. Previously, he worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, and a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance. He lives in New York City.

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French startup Madbox is raising a $16.5 million (u20ac15 million) Series A funding round from Alven. The company is developing mobile games and handles everything from start to finish, from game design to publishing and user acquisition.

n

Madbox is a young player in the mobile game space. The company is the result of the merger of two tiny Paris-based game studios in July 2018. After a couple of months, the startup released its first game, Dash Valley. And the game quickly ended up trending in the top 50 of top free game downloads in the App Store in the U.S.

n

The company has released a handful of games since then. At some point, Madbox had three games in the top 10 charts in the U.S. (once again, free game downloads) u2014 StickMan Hook, Sausage Flip and Idle Ball Race. Overall, Madbox has generated 100 million game downloads.

n

u201cThe core method at Madbox is that we internalize everything,u201d co-founder and CEO Jean-Nicolas Vernin told me. u201cWe try to automate as many thing as possible.u201d

n

In addition to reusing assets from one game to another, Madbox also tries to apply the same method when it comes to user acquisition and marketing. u201cPeople often tell us that we have a data-driven culture that is disproportionately developed in our company,u201d Vernin said.

n

Madbox has a careful approach when it comes to growth. The company hires slowly and doesnu2019t release dozens of games in a year.

n

With 30 to 40 employees and a business model mostly based on ads, the company is currently profitable. Madbox now wants to tackle a wider range of mobile games, from hyper casual to idle games and less casual games. The startup is also opening a second office in Barcelona.

n

u201cWe are a generation of friends who have worked for well-known casual game studios. And we all think that big game productions will have to become simpler so that people can play them like casual games u2014u00a0and vice versa,u201d Vernin said. And Madbox wants to be there when these two worlds collide.

n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

French startup Madbox is raising a $16.5 million (u20ac15 million) Series A funding round from Alven. The company is developing mobile games and handles everything from start to finish, from game design to publishing and user acquisition. Madbox is a young player in the mobile game space. The company is the result of the merger […]

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

nn

He now lives in Paris when he's not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

nn

He now lives in Paris when he's not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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