Continue Your Path to the Stars – TechCrunch


Hello friends, and welcome to Week in Review!

Just back from a few really fun, rehab weeks away from my phone, my Twitter account, and the news cycle. Having said that, I really missed writing this newsletter, and while Greg did a fantastic job while I was gone, I won’t be handing over the reins anytime soon. A lot has happened this week and I struggled to focus on just one topic to talk about, but in the end I chose to focus on Bezos’ Blue Origin suing NASA.

If you are reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get it in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

The big thing

I was going to write on OnlyFans for the newsletter this week and their rather shocking decision to ban sexually explicit content from their site in an effort to remain friendly with payment processors, but alas, I couldn’t get over it. prevent it and I wrote an article for ole TechCrunch dot com instead. Here is a link if you are curious.

Now, I should also note that while on vacation, I missed the whole conversation about Apple’s incredibly controversial child pornography detection software, which really seems to compromise the perceived integrity of personal devices. I’m not the only one who finds this to be quite a worrying development despite Apple’s intention to avoid a worse alternative. Hopefully one of these weeks I’ll have time to talk with some folks in the decentralized IT space about how our monolithic dependence on a few tech companies operating with valuable consumer input is. very bad. In the meantime, I’m going to point you to a few reports from TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker on the topic that you should browse as I’m sure this will be a topic I will revisit here in the future.

Now! On the subject at hand.

Federal government agencies generally do not inspire much worship. While great things have been accomplished at the request of plentiful federal funding and the tireless work of public servants, most agencies are treated as bureaucratic overload and generally not seen as something worth defending with. passion. Among the public and technologists in particular, NASA occupies a little more of a sacred space. American space agency has generally been a source of bipartisan enthusiasm, as has its goal of bringing astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.

Which brings us to some news this week. While so much digital ink has been spilled over Jeff Bezos’ little jaunt to the edge of space, cowboy hat, champagne and all, there has been less fanfare surrounding his space startup’s lawsuit against NASA, which, we have now learned, will delay the development of one new lunar lander per month, potentially casting doubt on NASA’s goal of getting astronauts back to the moon’s surface on time.

Bezos newcomer Blue Origin protests they didn’t get a government contract while Elon Musk’s SpaceX won a $ 2.89 billion contract to build a lunar lander. This contract was not awarded recently either, SpaceX recovered it in April and Blue Origin had already filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office. This happened before Bezos wrote an open letter promising a $ 2 billion rebate to NASA, which had seen budget cuts from Congress rushing in its hopes of awarding multiple contracts. None of these maneuvers proved convincing enough to the folks at NASA, prompting Bezos’ space startup to sue the agency.

This little feud prompted long-time-minded Twitter users to unearth this gem of a 2019 Bezos speech – as transcribed by Gizmodo – underscoring Bezos’ own disgust for the way bureaucracy and greed hampered NASA’s ability to reach the stars:

“As long as the big NASA programs become considered employment programs and they have to be distributed to the right states where the right senators live, and so on. This will change the goal. Now your goal is not, you know, whatever it is, to get a man to the moon or a woman to the moon, but rather to get a woman to the moon while keeping X jobs in my world. district. He is a complexifier, and not a healthy one …[…]

Today there would be, you know, three protests, and the losers would sue the federal government for not winning. It’s interesting, but what slows it down is procurement. It has become the biggest bottleneck in technology, which I know for a fact for all the well-meaning folks at NASA is frustrating.

A spokesperson for Blue Origin called the prosecution “an attempt to remedy flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s human landing system.” But the lawsuit really seems to highlight just how disastrous this deal is for Blue Origin’s ability to lock in top talent. Whether the startup can handle the reputational risk of suing NASA and delaying America’s return to the moon seems like a question worth asking.

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, south of Los Angeles, California, December 18, 2018.

Photo: ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images

Other things

Here is the TechCrunch news that particularly caught my attention this week:

OnlyFans prohibits “sexually explicit content”
A lot of people have had pretty visceral reactions to OnlyFans killing off what appears to be a fairly large part of its business, banning “sexually explicit content” on the platform. It seems that the decision was made following the support of banking and payment partners on the company.

Musk “unveils” the “Tesla Bot”
I really have a hard time calling this news, but I would be remiss if I did not point out how Elon Musk had a guy dress up in a spandex outfit and walk around doing the robot and spawned hundreds of stories about his. new “Tesla Bot”. While there could certainly be a product opportunity here for Tesla at some point, I would bet every dogecoin in the world that its “coming next year” prototype will never arrive or hilariously respond to expectations.

Facebook launches VR meeting simulator
This week, Facebook released one of its best VR apps, a workplace app designed to help people organize virtual reality meetings. To be clear, no one has really asked for this, but the company has created a full PR press for the app that will help headphone owners simulate the perfect experience of sitting in a conference room.

Social platforms fight against Taliban presence on platforms
Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, social media platforms are being pushed to clarify their policies regarding accounts managed by identified Taliban members. This put some platforms in a sticky situation.

Facebook publishes content transparency report
This week, Facebook released its first-ever content transparency report, highlighting which data on the site had the most impact over a given time period, in this case a three-month period. Compared to lists highlighting the posts that get the most engagement on the platform, lists typically populated mostly with right-wing influencers and news sources, the list of posts with the most reach appears to be quite benign. .

Safety regulators open investigation into Tesla Autopilot
As Musk talks about building a branded humanoid robot, US safety regulators wonder why Tesla vehicles on autopilot crash into so many parked emergency response vehicles.

Image credits: Nigel sussman

Additional things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

The Nuro EC-1
“..Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu aren’t the only Google Self-Driving Project employees launching an AV startup, but they are perhaps the most underrated. their business, Nuro, is valued at $ 5 billion and has leading partnerships with leaders in retail, logistics and food, including FedEx, Domino’s and Walmart. And, they seem to have come through the regulatory obstacle course successfully – at least so far… ”

A VC shares 5 keys to launch VCs
“The success of a fundraiser process depends entirely on how an entrepreneur can handle it. At this point, it’s important that the founders are honest, straightforward, and recognize the value that meeting with venture capitalists and investors can bring beyond the monetary aspect.

A crash course in business development
“… If you’re going to be acquired, there’s a good chance you’ll spend a lot of time with the business development teams. With a hot stock market, mountains of cash, and cheap debt floating around, the environment for acquisitions is extremely rich. “

Thanks for reading! Until next week…

Lucas M.


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