Buy Several Months’ Worth of Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap For Just $5

Best Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.   

Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Hand Soap Refill, Basil, 33 fl oz | $5 | Amazon

Mrs. Meyer’s plant-based soap is normally priced at a premium, but with today’s deal on Amazon, it’s priced just right. Get a 33 ounce tub of the basil-scented hand soap for just $5, or about $1 less than usual. It’ll last you a long time, but hopefully not too long. Wash your hands, is what I’m saying.


What Huawei didn’t say in its ‘robust’ half-year results

The media has largely bought into Huawei’s ‘strong’ half-year results today, but there’s a major catch in the report: the company’s quarter-by-quarter smartphone growth was zero.

The telecom equipment and smartphone giant announced on Tuesday that its revenue grew 22.3% to reach 401.3 billion yuan ($58.31 million) in the first half of 2019 despite all the trade restrictions the U.S. slapped on it. Huawei’s smartphone shipments recorded 118 million units in H1, up 24% year-over-year.

What about quarterly growth? Huawei didn’t say but some quick math can uncover what it’s hiding. The company clocked a strong 39% in revenue growth in the first quarter, implying that its overall H1 momentum was dragged down by Q2 performance.

The firm shipped 59 million smartphones in the first quarter, which means the figure was also 59 million units in the second quarter. As tech journalist Alex Barredo pointed out in a tweet, Huawei’s Q2 smartphone shipments were historically stronger than Q1.

And although Huawei sold more handset units in China during Q2 (37.3 million) than Q1 (29.9 million) according to data from market research firm Canalys, the domestic increase was apparently not large enough to offset the decline in international markets. Indeed, Huawei’s founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei himself predicted in June that the company’s overseas smartphone shipments would drop as much as 40%.

The causes are multi-layered, as the Chinese tech firm has been forced to extract a raft of core technologies developed by its American partners. Google stopped providing certain portions of Android services such as software updates to Huawei in compliance with U.S. trade rules. Chip designer ARM also severed business ties with Huawei. To mitigate the effect of trade bans, Huawei said it’s developing its own operating system (although it later claimed the OS is primarily for industrial use) and core chips, but these backup promises may take some time to materialize.

Consumer products are just one slice of the behemoth’s business. Huawei’s enterprise segment is under attack, too, as small-town U.S. carriers look to cut ties with Huawei. The Trump administration has also been lobbying its western allies to stop purchasing Huawei’s 5G networking equipment.

In other words, being on the U.S.’s entity list — a ban that prevents American companies from doing business with Huawei — is putting a real squeeze on the Chinese firm. Washington has given Huawei a reprieve that allows American entities to resume buying from and selling to Huawei, but the damage has been done. Ren said last month that all told, the U.S. ban would cost his company a staggering $30 billion loss in revenue.

Huawei chairman Liang Hua (pictured above) acknowledged the firm faces “difficulties ahead” but said the company is “fully confident in what the future holds,” he said today in a statement. “We will continue investing as planned – including a total of CNY120 billion in R&D this year. We’ll get through these challenges, and we’re confident that Huawei will enter a new stage of growth after the worst of this is behind us.”

Conflura snags $9M Series A to help stop cyber attacks in real time

Just yesterday, we experienced yet another major breach when Capital One announced it had been hacked and years of credit card  application information had been stolen. Another day, another hack, but the question is how can companies protect themselves in the face of an onslaught of attacks. Conflura, a Palo Alto startup wants to help with a new tool that purports to stop these kinds of attacks in real time.

Today the company, which launched last year, announced a $9 million Series A investment led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. It also has the backing of several influential technology execs including John W. Thompson, who is chairman of Microsoft and former CEO at Symantec, Frank Slootman, CEO at Snowflake and formerly CEO at ServiceNow and Lane Bess, former CEO of Palo Alto Networks.

What has attracted this interest is the company’s approach to cyber security. “Conflura is a real-time cyber security company. We are delivering the industry’s first platform to deterministically stop cyber attacks in real time,” company co-founder and CEO Abhijit Ghosh told TechCrunch.

To do that Ghosh says, his company’s solution watches across the customer’s infrastructure, finds issues and recommends ways to mitigate the attack. “We see the problem that there are too many solutions which have been used. What is required is a platform that has visibility across the infrastructure, and uses security information from multiple sources to make that determination of where the attacker currently is and how to mitigate that,” he explained.

Microsoft chairman John Thompson, who is also an investor, says this is more than just real-time detection or real-time remediation. “It’s not just the audit trail and telling them what to do. It’s more importantly blocking the attack in real time. And that’s the unique nature of this platform, that you’re able to use the insight that comes from the science of the data to really block the attacks in real time,” Thompson said.

It’s early days for Conflura as it has 19 employees and 3 customers using the platform so far. For starters, it will be officially launching next week at Black Hat. After that, it has to continue building out the product and prove that it can work as described to stop the types of attacks we see on a regular basis from happening.

‘The Operators’: Experts from WeWork and Brex talk marketing – Getting the most bang for your buck

Welcome to this transcribed edition of The Operators. TechCrunch is beginning to publish podcasts from industry experts, with transcriptions available for Extra Crunch members so you can read the conversation wherever you are.

The Operators features insiders from companies like AirBnB, Brex, Docsend, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Carta, Slack, Uber, and WeWork sharing their stories and tips on how to break into fields like marketing and product management. They also share best practices for entrepreneurs on how to hire and manage experts from domains outside their own.

This week’s edition features Christiana Rattazzi, Head of Technology Marketing at WeWork, the leading coworking company that has raised over $8 billion and has a valuation of $47 billion and a rumored IPO impending. Also joining the show is Elinitsa Staykova, VP of Marketing at Brex, another fast-growing unicorn, recently valued at over $2 billion, that is the leading provider of credit cards to startups and tech companies.

In this episode, Christiana and Elinitsa explain how marketing works, how to get into and succeed in the field of marketing, and how founders should think about hiring and managing the marketing function. With their experiences at two of tech’s biggest and most innovative marketers, WeWork and Brex, this episode is packed with broad perspectives and deep insights.

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Image via The Operators

Neil Devani and Tim Hsia created The Operators after seeing and hearing too many heady, philosophical podcasts about the future of tech, and not enough attention on the practical day-to-day work that makes it all happen.

Tim is the CEO & Founder of Media Mobilize, a media company and ad network, and a Venture Partner at Digital Garage. Tim is an early-stage investor in Workflow (acquired by Apple), Lime, FabFitFun, Oh My Green, Morning Brew, Girls Night In, The Hustle, Bright Cellars, and others.

Neil is an early-stage investor based in San Francisco with a focus on companies building stuff people need, solutions to very hard problems. Companies he’s invested in include Andela, Clearbit, Kudi, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, Solugen, and Vicarious Surgical.

If you’re interested in starting or accelerating your marketing career, or how to hire and manage this function, you can’t miss this episode!

The show:

The Operators brings experts with experience at companies like AirBnB, Brex, Docsend, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Carta, Slack, Uber, WeWork, etc. to share insider tips on how to break into fields like marketing and product management. They also share best practices for entrepreneurs on how to hire and manage experts from domains outside their own.

In this episode:

In Episode 4, we’re talking about marketing. Neil interviews Christiana Rattazzi, Head of Technology Marketing at WeWork, and Elinitsa Staykova, VP of Marketing at Brex.


Neil Devani: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Operators, where we learn from the people building the companies of tomorrow. We publish every other Monday and you can find us online at www.operators.co. I’m your host, Neil Devani, and we’re coming to you today from Digital Garage here in downtown San Francisco.

Joining me is Eli Staykova, Vice President of Marketing at Brex. Brex is the corporate credit card for start-ups, one of the fastest companies to reach a billion dollar evaluation, having launched barely two years ago, and its customers include Y Combinator, Flexport, SoFi, and many, many other startups.

Also joining us is Christiana Rattazzi, the head of enterprise technology marketing at WeWork. WeWork, with almost 10 billion dollars in financing to date, also counts major corporations and startups among its hundreds of thousands of customers. The firm is reportedly the largest leaseholder in New York, London, and Washington DC and has a footprint in almost a hundred other countries.

Eli and Christiana, thank you for joining us. Just to start, if you can share with our listeners about yourselves, a little bit about where you’re from and how you got into marketing, that’d be great.

Christiana Rattazzi: Happy to lead off. I’m actually from the Bay Area, go Warriors and I was pre-med through college and really thought I was going to go to med school and as I started studying for the MCAT, really discovered that that was what the path was going to be like.

One where you spend a lot of time in the library and maybe you weren’t up for it later and I wasn’t sure I wanted to sign up for that but I wanted to be at a company and being able to speak about a product that I was passionate about. And so that got me into cleantech, as I started my career, actually in cleantech, in marketing because I really loved to write and I love to tell stories.

So that was the beginning of my career and it’s been a great ride since then.

Devani: And what about yourself?

Eli Staykova: I came to the Bay Area in 2006 so I’ve been living here for the past thirteen years, it’s been quite the ride. I came here for the business school at the GSB, Stanford, and I started my career in finance, so I worked for IFC, International Finance Corporation, then for UBS in their LBO group, and I thought that you know after that I would stay in finance.

However, after Stanford I decided to work and live here in San Francisco and it’s so hard to be in the Bay Area not working in tech so I eventually joined the tech world. I work for Apple in their corporate finance team and I recently made the switch back in February at the new company Brex.

Devani: Very cool. These are two very exciting companies, two companies that do a lot of marketing, probably have very sophisticated marketing operations at least that’s what I would assume from the outside.

For the folks who are listening, who maybe don’t know much about marketing, can you help us understand at a very high level, the marking operation in your company. What are the different departments or roles, the different things that are just the nuts and bolts of how it works?

Skip the Dish Soap and Use These Products to Wash and Wax Your Car, Please

SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? [Email her.](mailto:joliekerr@gmail.com)  

Please, I am begging you: Stop washing your car with dish soap.

Dish soap is wonderful! It does a great many things beyond cleaning dishes! I am a big fan of dish soap, in general! But I absolutely hate it for the purpose of washing a car and here is why: Dish soap will strip the wax off a car, and the wax is important to protecting the car’s clear coat—the clear layer that protects the car’s paint. If the clear coat erodes, you’re going to have alllllllll sorts of problems that I promise you do not want! Also, a new clear coat job costs $300-$900. A bottle of car wash soap that will last, like, a lifetime costs under $10. Spring for the car wash soap, oh please please.

So, treat yourself to car wash soap and then go outside and wash your car because spending a bit of time washing a car outside on a nice day is one of life’s singular joys.

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If you’ve never hand washed a car, you should! Even if you have, you may not know the best practices, and so I shall now tell you what they are:

  • Hose the car off, which will loosen debris, making sure to hose off the wheel wells, where a lot of grit and grime builds up;
  • The car should be cool to the touch, and should be parked in a shady area to prevent suds from drying out as you wash;
  • Work from the top down and in sections, soaping the car with a car sponge and then hosing the soap off;

Now, if you want to have some real fun — and here I must acknowledge that your idea of real fun and my idea of real fun may vary quite wildly — you could follow the washing of the car with a waxing of the car.

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Waxing a car is easy, and not even terribly labor intensive; it’s, hmm, maybe a 30-minute job? I’ve done it! And I do not own or even drive a car!

Here are the things you need: Car wax (duh). Microfiber cloths OR an orbital buffer. That’s all! Now then, having waxed a car using both microfiber cloths, i.e., manually, and using an orbital buffer, i.e. throwing machinery at the job, I would say there’s actually not much of a difference in time- and labor-savings to be found in the use of the buffer. The quality of the wax job, however, is higher with the buffer, also the buffer is cool and not terribly expensive, as far as power tool investments go. (And, I use the buffer for all kinds of other cleaning jobs like scrubbing the tile walls of my shower, but that is another post for another day.)

Quick note on wax options! There are options! A brief primer: Don’t even bother to learn about spray and colored waxes. The two biggies to know about are paste and liquid wax. Paste wax comes in two formulas, natural and synthetic. Natural, i.e. carnauba wax, yields a shinier shine than synthetic waxes, but doesn’t last as long as synthetic wax does. Synthetic wax, on the other hand, lasts much longer and therefore provides more paint protection than natural wax, though it doesn’t give you as much shine. If you’re willing to wax your car three times a year, go for carnauba, if you only want to perform the job once a year, opt for synthetic.

Liquid wax is easier to apply than paste wax, which is less pliable, but also doesn’t offer as much shine power. It is, however, a better choice for use with an orbital buffer.

Waxing a car is a lot like washing a car, as far as instructions go: The car should be cool to the touch, so avoid parking in direct sunlight. However, the way you’ll work in sections is different from the way you do with washing, because the wax needs to dry for about 10-15 minutes before it’s time to buff it. So! Apply a thin layer of wax to the entire car, which will conveniently take about 10-15 minutes, but take note of where you started and work in some sort of section system that you will remember. Because! Once you’ve applied a thin layer of wax to the car, you’ll then go back to the area you started with and buff the wax away. If you’re using an orbital buffer for the job, it will do the thing for you but if you’re using microfiber cloths, do the buffing in a circular (or orbital!) motion. That’s all! Congratulations, you have waxed a car.


How Your Monthly Cycle Affects Your Workouts

Anyone who’s ever had a period knows that the accompanying mood swings, fatigue, and cramps can be rough. Of course, everyone is different, and your mileage may vary, but if you do suffer from severe symptoms, it can be hard to drag yourself off the couch for literally any reason – including your workout.

However, it’s well-known that exercise can actually improve those annoying cramps you get during your period. But if you’re sitting there thinking, “HIIT class? No thanks!” hear me out: The key to both feeling a little better and optimizing your workout may simply be paying attention to your cycle—and making a few strategic tweaks to the way you exercise during certain weeks.

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Bio 101: what’s happening during your cycle

Every month, your body starts prepping for the baby it thinks you’re going to have by developing a new uterine lining for the fertilized egg to hang out in. In the end, if you’re not pregnant, your body has to get rid of that lining.

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Day one of your cycle begins with your period, when your hormones “abruptly drop” and your body starts secreting prostaglandins, a substance that makes your uterus contract, Heather Bartos, an ob-gyn based in Texas, explains. At this point, your “estrogen and progesterone levels are next to nothing,” and your uterus is busy sloughing off its lining, she adds. Common symptoms at this point include fatigue, cramps, headaches, bloating, and for some, a general feeling of malaise.

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Next is the follicular phase. According to Healthline, there’s some overlap between this phase and your period, because it actually starts on the first day of your period and ends when you ovulate—which is the next phase.

Ovulation varies from person to person, but if you have a 28-day cycle, ovulation generally takes place around day 14.

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Lastly, we’ve got the luteal phase. This takes place after ovulation (it ends the first day of your period and can be anywhere from 10 to 17 days). You can thank your body’s rise in progesterone for any bloating, breast tenderness, or constipation you feel that week, according to Dr. Bartos.

Should you adjust your workouts?

Why does all this matter? Because being aware of how you feel throughout your cycle can tune you in to when you’re feeling your best and might want to go a little harder on your normal sweat sesh—or conversely, when you might want to swap your normal CrossFit for a more gentle yoga class (or even whether you want to skip your workout entirely).

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The best workouts for every stage of your cycle

The week of your period

Thanks to your low levels of hormones, you may feel sapped of energy those first couple of days of your period, but medical experts agree that there’s no reason to skip your workout; in fact, most encourage it, because of the aforementioned benefits. Still, you may want to focus on maintaining your normal routine, not going HAM. Cramps so bad you just can’t focus? Try yoga or Pilates, which can mitigate symptoms, suggests Dr. Tanuj Palvia, M.D., a spine and sports medicine specialist at Brooklyn-based wellness center Physio Logic.

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The follicular phase 

This is the time to amp up your workout: Because your hormone levels, including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, are climbing back up, you’ll probably feel great—energetic, horny, super focused and clear-eyed, and ready to get shit done. This is the perfect time to hit the heavy weights, CrossFit, high-intensity interval training, or simply go an extra couple of miles in your normal running or cycling routine.

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“I have a lot of friends who do ballet, and they always say that the best time for them to be en-pointe, when they had the best balance, is the first two weeks of their cycle,” Dr. Bartos says.

A small 2016 study from Umea University, in Sweden supports that assertion: Researchers divided 59 women into two groups. The first did resistance training five days a week during the first two weeks of their cycle; the second group underwent the same workout but in the last two weeks of their cycle. The results? The first group could jump higher and saw larger muscle mass gains than the second one. A 2014 study found similar results.

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The week or two before your period

Dr. Palvia says he often recommends to patients who suffer from severe PMS that they “back off anything strenuous” they’re doing during the luteal phase: “You might have a loss of energy, a mood decline, increased fatigue, and an increased appetite.” Your body temperature also rises during that time, he adds, because it’s prepping for another period.

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Of course, a low-key workout may look one way for you and another for your roommate. Dr. Palvia works with a lot of athletes for whom running five or 10 miles a day may still be doable even when they don’t feel at their best. “Everyone is different,” he says. “You know what your normal intensity levels are.”

If you’re someone who works out pretty intensely every day but start to feel like a towel that’s been wrung out too many times by the time the week before your period starts (just me?), yoga may be a good option. Even the more demanding yoga practices, such as Ashtanga or Bikram, emphasize turning inward and focusing on your mind and body, meaning you’ll not only work up a good sweat, but probably end the class feeling a little more relaxed and rejuvenated than when you came in.

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If you’re new to exercise or don’t work out every day, you might benefit from a brisk walk or a more gentle, restorative yoga class. And if you want to take a complete break from your workout because you’re feeling a little off-balance, cranky, bloated, or tired? Go for it.

What if you’re on birth control?

Great question! The answer is complicated. Non-hormonal forms of BC shouldn’t impact your cycle in the long run. However, birth control of any kind can throw your body a little out of whack for the first few months as you adjust—it’s not uncommon for women who switch from the pill to the copper Paragard to experience heavy bleeding for the first three to six months, for example, and that could certainly have an impact on whether you want to work out and what kinds of workouts you feel like doing.

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Hormonal birth control is a little trickier. Anecdotally, some people have reported that they have a harder time gaining muscle on the pill, and a 2009 study made headlines when it suggested that oral contraceptives can, in fact, impair muscle gains in women. However, it was criticized for its small sample size, and ABC pointed out at the time that the study showed no impact on workout performance. So, for example, while it’s possible you may not gain as much muscle mass during your follicular phase as someone who’s not on hormonal birth control, there’s just not enough research to say definitively one way or the other whether birth control impacts your workout.

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On the flip side, because the pill prevents ovulation, it also stops your hormones from dipping so dramatically, which is why many people take the pill to combat severe PMS. Not experiencing PMS may make it easier for you to push through your workout than for someone who’s not on BC.

The bottom line

Ultimately, it comes down to knowing yourself, something that both Dr. Bartos and Dr. Palvia stress. You know your body best! If you’re just not feeling your workout at any point, or you’re worried about injuring yourself, don’t be afraid to give yourself a break. As Dr. Bartos says, “Don’t push past what your body needs.”

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The Fortnite World Cup Was A Kids’ Paradise

The people who filled Queens, New York’s Arthur Ashe tennis stadium for this weekend’s Fortnite World Cup were people who love Fortnite, or at least those people and their parents. The bulk of the attendees I saw were young kids, swimming in soccer shorts and baggy Fortnite t-shirts. They performed the game’s emote dances. They played miniature golf holes designed after in-game icons like the Durr Burger mascot and the Battle Bus. They competed in Fortnite trivia contests, demonstrating so much knowledge of the game that one young contestant even corrected the host on a prior day’s question. The World Cup, like Fortnite itself, felt like a kids’ world.

As an adult—and as a reporter—I have to be attuned to the cracks: the cheating competitors, developer Epic’s penchant for stealing dances from real-life artists, the V-bucks scams that proliferate on Twitter and YouTube, the in-game bullying a teacher friend once told me goes on among his students. I’m inherently suspicious of the money swirling around the World Cup, with its $30 million prize pool, and the juggernaut of Fortnite and the estimated $3 billion Epic has profited off the game. But I’m also, frankly, afraid to love anything with the openness of Fortnite’s fans.

A father with their child at the World Cup fan festivalPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

What I saw in Queens, however, wasn’t a slavish devotion to an astonishingly popular game. The times the stadium announcer referred to “making history,” one of Epic’s well-worn phrases, felt crassly commercial. There was the drummed-up exclusivity and the carefully-controlled branding of any major event. But the purest moments of excitement I saw weren’t about things that came from Epic. They were about people—fans, players, self-made stars—sharing their passion with each other.


The Fortnite World Cup Finals were the culmination of months of worldwide qualifying matches, hype by Epic Games, and awe at the millions of dollars on the line for winners. The three-day event brought together hundreds of competitors in solo and duos finals, as well as a competition in various creative modes and a Pro-Am featuring celebrities like streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, wrestler Austin “Xavier Woods” Creed, and boy band NSYNC alum Joey Fatone.

The Fortnite World Cup standsPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

According to Epic, the event sold out, but I saw an unexpected amount of empty seats and closed sections in the approximately 23,700-seat stadium. Lines for the accompanying outdoor fan festival were long, with some attractions having posted wait times of over an hour, but the event felt mobbed to me only once: before a concert of electronic DJ Marshmello, for which an event security person told me fans had lined up two hours ahead of time to score some of the limited Marshmello bucket masks, cardboard signs, and noisemakers promised to the earliest attendees. The crowd surged forward the moment the arena doors opened, and the security person told me he’d stopped several people from trying to sneak in before opening time.

The stadium itself was a wall of sound (Epic provided attendees with Fortnite-purple earplugs.). Players sat on a multi-story stage fenced with images of Fortnite’s wood and metal building materials, with overflow on the ground. The stage was topped with giant monitors and ringed with screens showing match details. Players’ face cameras appeared in front of their seats; when they were eliminated, the virtual fences replaced their images. The acoustics were terrible, and the casters’ voices echoed unintelligibly. I watched Saturday’s duos finals from home, where Epic’s website featuring match stats, player profiles, and multiple streams gave me insight into the proceedings that I and other viewers had longed for during the 10 weeks of qualifiers. In the arena, only the main cast was available, and without being able to comprehend the casters, much of the game was just swirling colors and headache-inducing noise.

The Fortnite World Cup stagePhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

The crowd’s energy focused things. Friday’s creative finals and Pro-Am were the least attended. More showed up for Saturday’s duos and Sunday’s solos, which were six matches each. People didn’t trickle in and out much, even when ultimate solos winner Bugha headed into game six with a nearly-untouchable 15-point lead. One of the strengths and weaknesses of the World Cup has been the sheer amount of unknowns, with most of the big-name Fortnite streamers failing to qualify. While this could make it hard to have a favorite, it also gave the event a communal feel. It felt like a scrum of people who all play Fortnite, with some being better than others. I saw a few signs in the stadium for particular players or teams, but it felt like attendees were happy to cheer (and sometimes boo) just about anyone who showed up on the big screens. It seemed like many people didn’t care too much who won. They just wanted to watch each other play.


On Friday, I was sitting in the grass outside the stadium trying to surreptitiously vape without kids noticing. (This futile task continued throughout the weekend.) A short, blue-haired kid milled nearby, looking like every other dyed-hair kid I’d seen in the crowd. I watched a young person approach him and ask cautiously, “Are you Sceptic?” It was in fact the 15-year-old duos player. In the finals, he’d jump in childish alarm when smoke cannons went off during the pre-show, triggering all of my uncle instincts even through my computer screen. In competition, he braggadociously flashed the “take the L” emote during the finals and then almost immediately got killed by player Mongraal, a moment that spread widely on social media.

On Friday, he wasn’t that person yet. He graciously took a picture with the fan who spotted him. The telltale selfie pose attracted others, who recognized that he was a player even if some of them might not have known which one. Sceptic was polite and well-spoken in the way grownups praise kids for being. Adults hovered in the background, a protective audience to a crowd that was, in many ways, peers. Sceptic is a professional esports player, but he’s also a streamer with over 1.3 million YouTube subscribers, someone kids can spend virtual time with whenever they want.

Kids dance during a music set of in-game skin DJ YonderPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Many of the World Cup qualifiers have made their fame on Twitch and YouTube, and while they all made more money in a weekend than most adults at the event—every competitor was guaranteed to take home at least $50,000—they didn’t feel as inaccessible as traditional sports or television stars. Security was tight at the finals, but there was a collegial air to most of the event, a lack of separation between players and fans.

Fans held up signs with their creator codes, a name Fortnite players can enter in the game’s shop to fiscally support their favorite streamers or themselves. More than one person introduced themselves with their creator code during the trivia contests. I was surprised not to find the promotion cringe-worthy, though I might be numb to it from too much Fortnite on Reddit and YouTube. These self-promoters, especially the younger ones, seemed at home in their moments in the spotlight, like they’d come to expect it from Fortnite’s world of clip-sharing and fan art. The World Cup’s “anyone can win” ethos, certainly a big part of what drove its hype, felt repurposed in their hands.


The youngest player to qualify for the World Cup was 13, the minimum required age, and the oldest was 24. Bugha, who won the solos finals and took home $3 million, is 16. Fortnite is a young person’s game.

Fortnite’s adults also skew young. Popular player Tfue is 21; superstar streamer Ninja is 28. During Friday’s celebrity Pro-Am, content creator CouRageJD took a potshot at the age of player and caster DrLupo in a joke announcement for a “Geriatric Gamer Foundation.” Lupo is 32, five years younger than me.

Ninja during the World Cup preview dayPhoto: Epic Games

Fortnite’s adults don’t quite feel like adults. Ninja wears brightly-colored clothes and dyes his hair to match. Tfue spent most of his finals matches in a leopard-print vest. I find Lupo preternaturally fresh-faced. Over the weekend, fans hung off the stadium railings trying to get these adults’ attention, shouting “Lupo!” and “Ninja!” even though they were much too far away to interact in any meaningful way. These shouts didn’t feel needy or full of awe. They sounded more like people hollering to their friends. At the end of the tournament, I overheard some teenagers trying to sneak into a restricted part of the arena. “I’m meeting someone,” one said, and the event staff member appeared to almost believe them before refusing.

The adults’ accessibility is a brand, obviously. Ninja wore a yellow World Cup hoodie when he cast some of Saturday’s matches, and the next day I saw dozens of kids in it despite the heat. The game’s adults need to portray the family-friendly image that encourages parents to let their kids play and brings in the money that keeps the machine running. They aren’t perfect: Ninja rapped a slur last year and later apologized. I don’t know if Fortnite’s adults need to be role models, or if that’s just my own expectation as an adult who second-guesses my every word when I squad up with kids. A 24-year-old and a 13-year old aren’t peers, even if they’re competing in the same game. The day before the World Cup kicked off, Sceptic tweeted a selfie with Ninja, their arms around each other. He captioned it “Finally met my Dad.” Ninja retweeted it.


As I lingered at the fan festival after the Sunday crush for Marshmello’s concert had filtered inside, a new crowd appeared. Whispers of “That’s Marshmello!” went up, which attracted more people to the fast-moving cluster. Marshmello is a Fortnite mainstay, having played an in-game concert in February. His catchy beats and simple lyrics make him popular with kids: The entirety of one song’s lyrics go “I’m so alone/ nothing feels like home/ I’m so alone/ trying to find my way back home to you.” I spotted glimpses of a white bucket mask and a purple sweatshirt, the outfit Marshmello would wear during his performance. It seemed like him, but I wondered how anyone would know if it really was. It would be so easy, I thought, to pretend to be the musician for attention.

“Look, it’s Marshmello!” a mom shouted to her kids, who were busy watching a performance on the fan festival’s small stage. Their dad eventually heralded them over to the crowd, which paused by the end of a zipline ride to form a mass of waving arms and selfie sticks before mysteriously dissolving.

The mom and her family were from Orlando; her kids, ages 10 and 12, love Fortnite and were thrilled to be at the event. She told me she didn’t play but that her kids’ dad played with them. She said her kids had wanted World Cup tickets since the moment they were announced, and when I asked her how she felt about being there with them, she said, “It’s nice to see what they love.” She told me they hadn’t gotten into the stadium in time to get Marshmello souvenirs, but their dad had somehow scored a poster, though she said, with pride, that she didn’t know how.

Fortnite fans admiring a young MarshmelloPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Marshmello had vanished, but there was a new crowd. A small kid in a Marshmello mask was wandering by the line for the stage. An adult started up a call of “Hey, it’s Marshmello!” I couldn’t tell if they were related, though the adult had the friendly air of someone used to kids. “Let me know if you need a bodyguard, Marshmello,” he offered congenially. Some other kids waiting in the line asked for the miniature Marshmello’s autograph. They obliged, marching along the row with their bucket mask knocking loosely.

I expected parents to look out of place, the way I felt. But for the most part, they appeared to be having fun. I watched an adult beaming as he filmed a kid during in-game character DJ Yonder’s music set, rushing up to take the kid’s lanyard and store it around his own neck in a move that screamed “dad.” Parents held bags of goodies and food, ushered kids into the shade and waited patiently in lines. They seemed used to their kids’ excitement and by and large happy, or at least comfortable, sharing in it.

Smeef’s parentsPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Parents of the competitors beamed with pride. Heading back to the subway at the end of the weekend, I fell behind a couple wearing matching jerseys with “Smeefdad” and “Smeefmom” written on them. They confirmed to a man nearby, with his arm over a young boy in a Ninja Turtles backpack, that they were Europe competitor Smeef’s parents. Bugha’s dad danced unabashedly when his son won; Brazil powerhouse K1ng’s father embraced him as he cried after coming in fifth in solos.


The Fortnite World Cup fan festival with the iconic World’s Fair Unisphere in the backgroundPhoto: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Throughout the weekend, I was impressed with how much fun everyone was having. People were excited to be there, getting pumped not just to see the likes of Marshmello but also a kid dressed as him. They didn’t seem as excited to watch Marshmello as they were to just be excited about him with each other. The Epic-produced event of him, though enjoyable, was secondary.

That’s how the whole event felt. Whatever corporate stuff was going on was an excuse for people to gather, the same way Fortnite can function more like a hangout spot than an attraction in its own right. The impressive gameplay in the World Cup finals was a worthy draw, but I can imagine a kids’ party with Fortnite balloons having a similar energy. While only some people left with prize money, a lot more had a great time simply being around their fellow Fortnite fans.

Vymo raises $18M to help salespeople manage their leads

Vymo, a New York-headquartered startup that operates an eponymous mobile-first service to help salespeople manage their leads, has raised $18 million in a new financing round to expand its footprint in the U.S. and other markets.

The Series B round for the six-year-old startup was led by Emergence Capital, a VC firm that focuses on enterprise cloud firms. Existing investor Sequoia India also participated in the round. Vymo has raised more than $23 million to date.

Vymo serves as a CRM (customer relationship management) solution and also works with other popular CRMs such as Salesforce. The service helps salespeople automatically capture their business calls, visits, messages, emails, calendar, and the engagement levels to better track and manage their leads, Yamini Bhat, co-founder and CEO of Vymo, told TechCrunch in an interview.

The ease is crucial for salespeople. “CRMs have existed for more than a decade. But they still see under 15% to 20% day-to-day adoption,” Bhat explained. “Salespeople don’t actively log their activities into the CRM, which creates management challenges. People don’t know which deal will close and when it will close.”

Research and advisory firm Gartner said in a report that “field representatives aren’t going to “live” in [sales force automation systems]…that ship has sailed.” In contrast, over 75% of Vymo’s registered users log in and take actions on the app every day. Vymo’s offering also looks at a salesperson’s activities to identify what is working best for them and makes recommendations for “high-value activities” to other members based on that.

Vymo, which employs about 100 people, has amassed over 40 enterprise customers including life insurance firms AIA Group and AXA in seven nations. More than 100,000 salespeople use Vymo’s service. The startup will use the fresh capital to expand its business in many parts of the world and also begin operations in the U.S. market, Bhat said.

“With its exceptionally high user adoption metrics and steadily expanding user base — 100,000 salespeople at over 40 global enterprises and counting — Vymo is delivering transformational value. It’s the kind of company we at Emergence love partnering with — one that stands to drastically improve the day-to-day work lives of millions of people,” Jake Saper, a partner with Emergence Capital, who joins Vymo’s board as part of the financing, said in a statement.

Shailesh Lakhani, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital India Advisors, said, “As early partners, we’ve seen Vymo grow rapidly across all metrics, but most importantly in avid adoption by mobile-first workers at some of the largest global enterprises. Vymo is uniquely positioned to become the standard by which sales and distribution is run in these institutions.”

Huawei is shipping a lot more phones in spite of it all

There are a lot reasons to assume Huawei’s numbers would be on the decline. Even without getting caught smack in the middle of increasing trade tensions between two superpowers, the smartphone market has been trending down for some time now. A confluence of factors, including slowed upgrade cycles and stagnate economies in both China and abroad have contributed.

The market continues to “soften” in China as early adopters await the launch of 5G before jumping on with new handset. In spite of everything, however, Huawei appears to be the one company currently bucking the trend. And not just by a little bit, either. New numbers from Canalys put the company at a 31 percent year on year grown for the second quarter — a stark contrast to the six percent global decline for the category.

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The company shipped 37.3 million handsets in China for Q2, with China accounting for 64 percent of that number. Unsurprisingly, its home market has become an increasingly important sales driver as trade blacklists and the like have barred in from sales in some overseas markets.

An interesting, if unsurprising factor in that growth is a kind of hometown pride for the embattled brand, which sported a 38 percent market share for the quarter.

“[T]he US-China trade war is also creating new opportunities. Huawei’s retail partners are rolling out advertisements to link Huawei with being the patriotic choice, to appeal to a growing demographic of Chinese consumers willing to take political factors into account when making a purchase decision,” Canalys’ Mo Jia said in a release tied to the news. “Huawei itself has also been eager to give more exposure to its founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, to enhance its brand appeal to local consumers. At the same time, Huawei’s internal chipset and modem technologies will give it an edge over its competitors as 5G is commercialized by Chinese operators.”

That last bit means that Huawei will almost certainly see more growth in the coming years as 5G begins to roll out in China, starting this fall. This is, of course, as long as a ban on the use of American software and components don’t hamper the company entirely in the meantime.

Huawei was cautiously optimistic reporting its quarterly earnings this week. “Given the foundation we laid in the first half of the year, we continue to see growth even after we were added to the entity list,” Chairman Liang Hua said on a call. “That’s not to say we don’t have difficulties ahead. We do, and they may affect the pace of our growth in the short term.”

How to Watch the Presidential Democratic Debates Tonight

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Tonight, the second round of Presidential Democratic debates kicks off in Detroit, with top-polling candidates including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren taking the stage. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris will square off in what might become another talked-about, viral moment on night two.

What can you expect from the debates? With new rules in place, anticipate fewer one-word answers, less hand-raising, and actual penalties for interruptions this time around. As for as the debate itself, we’ll witness Montana Governor Steve Bullock taking the national stage for the first time, a possible end to Sanders and Warren’s peace treaty, and Marianne Williamson saging the room in love.

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If you want to catch the debates (moderated by Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper), CNN, CNN en Espanol, and CNN International will broadcast the debates live at 8pm EDT. CNN will also live-steam the debates on Youtube.

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And below are the complete line-ups for each night of debates.

Night one

  • Steve Bullock, Montana governor
  • Pete Buttigieg, South Bend mayor
  • John Delaney, Maryland rep.
  • John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
  • Beto O’Rourke, former Texas rep.
  • Tim Ryan, Ohio rep.
  • Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
  • Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
  • Marianne Williamson, author

Night two

  • Michael Bennet, Colorado senator
  • Joe Biden, former Vice President
  • Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor
  • Cory Booker, New Jersey senator
  • Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary
  • Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii rep.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator
  • Kamala Harris, California senator
  • Jay Inslee, Washington governor
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur

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