Cure Hydration raises $2.6M for its healthy sports drink alternative

Cure Hydration is announcing that it has raised $2.6 million in seed funding as it brings a healthier approach to the sports beverage market.

Founder and CEO Lauren Picasso, whose past roles include serving as director of marketing at Jet.com, told me that she became interested in the market after training for a triathlon; she’d often feel dehydrated even after drinking lots of water. (This is also something I struggled with while training for a marathon last year — and yes, I’m only mentioning this because I really want you to know that I ran a marathon.)

The obvious solution was to drink Gatorade or something similar to replenish her electrolytes, but Picasso said, “When I started looking for electrolyte products that were healthy and effective, I realized everything on the market still uses a base of sugar.” In fact the average sports drink contains 36 grams of sugar.

So Picasso and the Cure team developed a new beverage based on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution, which Picasso said is “primarily used to help people suffering from diseases like cholera,” and which has saved “millions of lives and is proven to hydrate as effectively as an IV drip.”

Cure uses the ORS as a foundation to create a range of flavored beverages (it’s adding the new flavors Ruby Riot Grapefruit and Laser Focus Matcha). The core ingredients include coconut water and pink Himalayan salt, while everything is organic and vegan, with no added sugars.

Cure Hydration

Image Credits: Cure Hydration

The startup sells these drinks in the form of powders that you mix with water. On its website, they cost $24.99 for a pack of 14, or $19.99 of you subscribe. (The company donates 1% of proceeds to the women’s sports nonprofit SheIS.) Picasso said early customers have tended to be amateur athletes and people who need help staying hydrated due to chronic illnesses and other health conditions.

The product is also rolling out in stores like CVS, Walmart and Whole Foods. Picasso said that one of her goals with the funding is to bring Cure to 4,200 retail locations across the United States.

She also plans to develop new products beyond hydration, though she said they will stay true to the company’s “guiding principles” that all its products are “backed by science” and “taste delicious.” The company has a medical advisory board that includes Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist; Dr. Dana Cohen, the author of “Quench”; and nutritionist Brooke Alpert, author of “The Sugar Detox.”

The round was led by Lerer Hippeau, with participation from M3 Ventures, Litani Ventures, Andy Roddick, Nas, Matthew Dellavedova, Casper CEO Philip Krim, mParticle CEO Michael Katz, Thrive Market CEO Nick Green and others.

“Now, more than ever, consumers are prioritizing health in their daily lives and looking for products that are not only effective, but better-for-you,” said Lerer Hippeau Principal Caitlin Strandberg in a statement. “Lauren is an exceptional operator and we’ve been impressed with her ability to bring a WHO-approved formulation to market without compromising on product quality or efficacy. With this cash infusion and retail expansion, we’re excited to see Cure get into even more hands.”

LA-based Boulevard raises $27 million for its spa management software

Boulevard, a spa management and payment platform, has raised $27 million in a new round of funding despite a business slowdown caused by the COVID0-19 pandemic.

Founded four years ago by Matt Danna and Sean Stavropoulos, Boulevard was inspired by Stavropoulos’ inability to book a haircut and Danna’s hunch that the inability of salons and spas to cater to customers like the busy programmer could be indicative of a bigger problem.

The two spent months pounding the pavement in Los Angeles pretending to be college students doing research on the industry. They spoke with salon owners in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and other trendy neighborhoods trying to get a sense of where software and services were falling short.

Through those months of interviews the two developed the booking management and payment platform that would become Boulevard. The inspiration was one part Shopify and one part ServiceTitan, Danna said.

The idea was that the Boulevard could build a pretty large business catering to the needs of a niche industry that hadn’t traditionally been exposed to a purpose-built toolkit for its vertical.

Investors including Index Ventures, Toba Capital, VMG Partners, Bonfire Ventures, Ludlow Ventures and BoxGroup agreed.

That could be because of the size of the industry. There’s over $250 billion spent per year across roughly 3 million businesses in the salon and spa category, according to data provided by the company. By comparison, fitness attracts roughly $34 billion in annual spending from 150,000 businesses.

“With limited access to the professionals that help us look and feel our best, I think the world has realized something that our team has always recognized: salons and spas are more than a luxury, they are essential to our well-being,” said Danna, in a statement. “We are humbled that so many businesses are placing their trust in us during such a turbulent time. This new capital will help accelerate our mission and deliver value to salons and spas that they never imagined was possible from technology.”

According to data provided by the company, Boulevard is definitely giving businesses a boost. On average, businesses increase bookings by 16%, retail revenue jumps by 18%, and gratuity paid out to stylists jumps by 24% for businesses that use Boulevard, the company said. It also reduces no-shows and cancellations, and halves time spent on the phone.  

“Boulevard is revitalizing the salon and spa industry, as evidenced by the company’s sustained 300-400% revenue growth over the last three years,” said Damir Becirovic of Index Ventures, whose firm led the company’s Series A round and has doubled down with the new capital infusion. 

Customers using the company’s software include: Chris McMillan the Salon, Heyday, MèCHE Salon, Paintbox, Sassoon Salon, SEV Laser, Spoke & Weal, and TONI&GUY.

Boulevard now has 90 employees and will look to increase that number as it continues to expand across the country.

Investors have taken a run at the spa market in the past, with company’s like MindBody valued at over $1 billion for its software services. Indeed, that company was taken private two years ago in a $1.9 billion transaction by Vista Equity Partners.

As Boulevard expands, the company may look to get deeper into financial services for the salons and spas that it’s already working with. Given the company’s window into these businesses’ financing, it’s not impossible to image a new line of business providing small business loans to these companies.

It’s something that the founders would likely not rule out. And it’s a way to provide more tools to entrepreneurs that often fall outside of the traditional sweet spot for banks and other lenders, Danna said.

The Station: Lime scoots towards profitability, a framework for AVs, and another electric vehicle SPAC

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every Saturday in your inbox.

Hi folks, welcome back to The Station, a newsletter dedicated to all the present and future ways people and packages move from Point A to Point B.

Let’s get right to it. Companies tried to pack in the news before the Thanksgiving holiday, which means we have a lot to um, digest.

Email me anytime at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, offer up opinions or tips. You can also send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

the station scooter1a

COVID-19 has obliterated entire business models, while boosting others. Micromobility startups were some that suffered in the early days of the pandemic. However, there appears to be a recovery. Lime is the latest example.

Lime said this week it has moved beyond the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now largely profitable. Alex Wilhelm and I raised our eyebrows at this and asked for more detail. As you might know, there are all kinds of tricks to be able to claim profitability. What we learned from the company — and yes, reader I know, it’s a private company and therefore no public filing — was rosier than we expected.

Lime said it was both operating cash flow positive and free cash flow positive in the third quarter — a first — and is on pace to be full-year profitable, excluding certain costs (EBIT), in 2021. In general, cash flow positivity is an important threshold for a startup to reach because it implies that the company can largely self-fund from that point forward, limiting its dependency on external cash for survival.

Lime also claimed that it “reached EBIT positive at the company level over the summer.” The specifics of the phrase “EBIT positive” are important. Was the company employing strict EBIT on its math and not discounting share-based compensation, or was it measuring using adjusted EBIT as many startups do, removing the cost of share-based compensation that shows up in GAAP results? According to the company the number did exclude share-based compensation, making the news slightly smaller.

And finally, the last most bullish data point. The company said it expects to be full-year profitable in 2021. TechCrunch asked for specifics because again how one measures profitability matters. It turns out, Lime is basing this projection on EBIT, as opposed to more traditional net income. For a startup this is not a surprising decision, but before we declare Lime fully “profitable,” we’ll want some more GAAP metrics.

In other Lime news …

The company launched its fourth-generation scooter in Paris, a device designed to last more than two years. The Gen4 will roll out across Europe in early 2021. Much of the Gen4 work was done by engineers at Uber’s Jump micromobility unit. Lime did some tweaking to the Jump team’s work, specifically improving the scooter’s durability and swapped out some parts that would allow the company to reuse parts from existing Lime vehicles.

Lime also teased that a “third mode,” beyond bikes and scooters, is also in the works for the first quarter of 2021, as well as the addition of third-party companies to its platform.


I recommend that you take the time to read an article by two of TechCrunch’s European reporters Natasha Lomas and Romain Dillet. The pair examined the urban transformation that is underway in Paris, Barcelona, London and Milan, specifically policy decisions aimed reclaiming streets for feet and two wheels.

A few highlights include Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s efforts to create a “15-minute city” and Barcelona’s ambitious pedestrianization plan focused on creating ‘superilles’ or ‘superblocks.’

Grab a coffee and get comfortable for this detailed breakdown.

Oh! wait … a couple of other micromobbin’ items …

Voi, another European electric scooter startup, is equipping its devices with computer vision sensors to detect pedestrians and sidewalks. The aim, VentureBeat reports, is to help users avoid collisions and comply with local legal requirements.

Zipp Mobility, the Irish micromobility startup, is now operating in two Buckinghamshire towns under a year-long pilot program. The company will launch with 25 electric scooters in each area, with plans to increase the fleet size to 300 scooters over the next two months.

Deal of the week

money the station

The summer of the SPAC has spilled over into fall and is threatening to continue into 2021. Startups aiming to produce and sell electric vehicles seem to be particularly fond of this path to becoming a public company. We have Canoo, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, Hyliion, Nikola and now Arrival.

Arrival was an unknown UK startup that operated quietly for about five years until bursting on the public scene in January with a $110 million investment from Hyundai and Kia. It soon became one of the UK’s most valuable startups with a valuation of $3.4 billion.

Arrival’s aim is to produce electric vehicles that are competitive in price with traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles and lower than other EVs. Arrival’s pitch is that its modular electric “skateboard” platform, which can be used on a range of different vehicle types, along with its use of microfactories are the key ingredients to its price competitive sauce. So far, the company has two vehicles — an electric van and bus. Production of its buses are expected to start in the fourth quarter 2021 and its vans in 2022.

OK, so the gist of the deal is this: Arrival agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company CIIG Merger Corp. with a market valuation up to $5.4 billion. Arrival raised $400 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from investors that included Fidelity Management & Research Company, Wellington Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management Energy Transition Fund and funds managed by BlackRock. Arrival will have about $660 million in cash proceeds.

On a side note, the company was founded by Denis Sverdlov, who also created Roborace.

Arrival electric bus van

Image Credits: Arrival

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Electric Last Mile Solutions, a Michigan-based electric vehicle startup founded by former Accuride and Ford executive Jason Luo, is in talks to go public through a merger with Forum Merger III Corp., Bloomberg reported. The startup aims to produce mre than 100,000 vehicles a year at a plant in Indiana. Caveat: the terms are not finalized.

Fenix, a new Abu Dhabi micromobility startup, raised $3.8 million in a seed round investment led by Israel-based venture firm Maniv Mobility. The deal is notable for a few reasons. Remember Circ? It’s the Middle East scooter company that Bird acquired and then shuttered in several cities. The founders of Circ, Jaideep Dhanoa and IQ Sayed (who were also colleagues at Careem), started Fenix. Maniv Mobility founder and managing partner Michael Granoff told me this is the first Israeli VC to invest in a UAE-based tech company. Granoff is joining the Fenix board. “Aside from more momentum toward clean and practical urban mobility, I think it heralds an amazing new age of cooperation in the Middle East,” Granoff wrote me in an email touting the deal.

Forto, a digital freight forwarder, raised $50 million in a funding round led by Inven Capital, a growth fund out of the Czech Republic. Additional investment came from Iris Capital as well as existing investors Rider Global, Northzone, Cherry Ventures, Unbound (Shravin Mittal) and the Italian venture fund H14.

Gojek, the ride-hailing firm, raised $150 million from Indonesia’s biggest telecom network Telkomsel. This is being sold as a “strategic partnership,” and seems to expand upon the companies’ existing relationship. Since 2018, Gojek and Telkomsel have maintained a deal to subsidize the cost of mobile data consumed by the ride-hailing firm’s driver partners.

Lightning EMotors, a Colorado-based fleet electrification company, is in advanced talks to go public through a merger with blank-check firm GigCapital3 Inc., Bloomberg reported. There is still some ways to go on this deal, however. GigCapital3 is trying to raise about $100 million in new equity to support a transaction that would create a combined entity worth $700 million to $1 billion, including debt.

Loadsmart, an on-demand digital freight platform, raised $90 million in a Series C funding round co-led by funds under management by BlackRock and Chromo Invest. Strategic investor TFI International, a leader in the logistics space, also participated in this round. Maersk, a global oceanic shipping leader and one of Loadsmart’s strategic backers since its Series A round, also participated.

Ride Vision, an Israeli startup building an AI-driven safety system to prevent motorcycle collisions,  raised a $7 million Series A round led by crowdsourcing platform OurCrowd. YL Ventures, Mobilion VC and motorcycle mirror manufacturer Metagal also participated in this round. The company has now raised a total of $10 million.

Strava, the activity and fitness data-tracking platform, raised $110 million in new funding, in a Series F round led by TCV and Sequoia, and including participation by Dragoneer group, Madrone Capital Partners, Jackson Square Ventures and Go4it Capital.

Election day mobility: scooters

Spin, the micromobility subsidiary of Ford, sent me an interesting graphic and some data points about its ridership on Election Day.

Now, this is just one company’s data. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and make wild presumptions. Think of this an interesting tidbit on how some people were getting around November 3 and one company’s strategy to encourage ridership to the polls.

Spin recorded a 31.45% overall increase in ridership on Election Day from the previous Tuesday. The company offered a $10 discount for riders commuting to the polls November 3 under its SpinToVote campaign, which certainly helped push those ridership numbers higher. Spin said nearly 3,000 riders used the SpintoVote discount.

Cities with the highest increases in ridership on Election Day were Chicago with a whopping 243% rise, Cleveland with 193%, San Francisco with 25% and Atlanta with a10% increase. Spin also tracked use of its “Spin to Vote” campaign. Riders in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego and Washington D.C. had the highest opt in for that discounted ride campaign.

Update: Lime sent me some of their data, which they also posted in a blog. The company said riders used the Lime to the Polls promotion code for 20% of all U.S. trips on Election Day. This is double the percentage of trips taken during the company’s first Lime to the Polls campaign for the 2018 midterm elections.

How did you get to your polling location? (for those who didn’t mail in their ballot)

spin-election day statistics

Image Credits: Spin

Notable reds and other tidbits

Seriously, folks. So.much.news.

California Public Utilities Commission approved Thursday two new programs to allow permitted companies to provide and charge for shared rides in autonomous vehicles. While the industry mostly cheered the news, some have argued that the approval process to secure one of these permits adds unnecessary bureaucracy that could delay deployments by more than two years.

General Motors had a bunch of announcements this week. First up, the company is getting back into the insurance biz, but this time more in step with the connected-car era. The service, called OnStar Insurance, aims to leverage the vast amounts of data captured through its OnStar connected car service, which today has more than 16 million members in the United States.

The U.S. automaker also upped its budget for electric vehicles and automated technology by 35%. GM said it will spend $27 billion over the next five years on EVs and AVs. GM is also accelerating its go-to-market timeline and adding more EVs to its portfolio plans. The new plan is to bring 30 new electric vehicles to a global market through 2025.

Lordstown Motors said it plans to establish an automotive R&D center in Farmington Hills with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The project is expected to create 141 jobs.

Luminar locked in a supplier deal to furnish Intel subsidiary Mobileye with lidar for its fleet of autonomous vehicles. The deal will see a rising star paired with a company that has long dominated the automotive industry. I breakdown why this is seemingly small deal is worth paying attention to.

Motional, the Aptiv-Hyundai $4 billion joint venture aimed at commercializing autonomous vehicles, received approval from the state of Nevada to test fully driverless vehicles on public roads. The company plans to begin driverless testing on public roads in Las Vegas sometime in early 2021.

National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration officials released an advance notice of proposed rule-making for automated driving. Remember last week when I said rumor had it that U.S. regulators planned to make some moves that will affect the autonomous vehicle industry? Specifically, I noted that UL 4600, a standard created by Underwriters Laboratories that offers a guide for how to build the safety case for an AV design, is rumored to be the front runner.

Welp … the framework released this week includes a whole section for UL 4600. You can view the NHSTA Framework for Automated Driving here.

NYT does a deep dive into the arms race in car stereos.

Panasonic signed a preliminary agreement with the Nordic energy company Equinor and engineering and industrial company Norsk Hydro to collaborate on building a battery business in Northern Europe. Ok, I know, it’s a “preliminary agreement.” This got my attention because of the battery supplier battle that between LG Chem and Panasonic. And as TechCrunch’s Jonathan Shieber notes: Panasonic’s push into Northern Europe alongside two big regional players in hydrocarbons and renewable energy is a sign of the potential that exists in the European market beyond automotive.

Former Sequoia Partner Amy Sun has already raised millions for her stealthy startup

Former Sequoia partner Amy Sun, who left the famed venture capital firm just months ago, has already raised $3.8 million for her new startup, Daylight Labs, SEC filings show.

Daylight Labs will be creating a solution to help gig economy workers make more money, Sun hints to TechCrunch. Still in the early product development stages, the startup began during the pandemic when Sun noticed how many industries were “completely decimated” by the crisis.

“How can you leverage technology to create new ways for people to earn to make a living,” she said. “We’re innovating on the actual format and product.”

There is no site or information available online about Daylight Labs, and Sun declined to comment on more specifics of the business, saying that the company is still iterating on its final product. What we do know, however, is that the company is a combination of all of Sun’s experiences in her career so far, from product management at Uber, to working on the Stories team at Facebook, to, most recently, investing in consumer companies on behalf of Sequoia Capital, which she joined in 2018.

Image Credits: Amy Sun

The Harvard grad started her career in product marketing at Microsoft, where she helped launch the Surface tablet. Sun then spent more than three years at Uber as a founding member of the ride-sharing companies growth marketing team, which included getting drivers to join the platform.

“Through that experience I got to build really strong relationships with drivers,” she said. “Seeing that you’re able to come into a city with a technology and people can start earning money, instantly — that’s really eye opening for me.” Notably, in California, the Uber and Lyft-backed Prop 22 bill passed, which allows gig workers to remain classified as independent contractors instead of full-time workers.

At Facebook, Sun worked on the company’s Stories product as a product manager. It’s unclear how her experience with consumer cameras and AR will be used within Daylight Labs, but that will definitely be interesting to track. During her tenure, users of Facebook Stories swelled from 2 million to 100 million.

Most recently, Sun worked at Sequoia Capital as the first woman on the firm’s growth stage team. Her portfolio included Noom, Aurora, Glossier, and The Wing, although she says she has transitioned “most responsibilities” from her tenure, including board seats, to the rest of the Sequoia team.

As for why leave the firm so soon after joining, Sun simply said that starting a company has “always been a dream” since the beginning of her career.

Since leaving Sequoia, Sun has lived a “nomadic lifestyle” with time in San Francisco, Boston, North Carolina, and more recently, Austin, Texas. Daylight Labs is based out of Austin, and Sun joins troves of entrepreneurs who have been moving to the area for years.

More to come on Daylight Labs when Sun is ready to share.

Amazon offers record-breaking Apple Watch 6 deals, plus $100 off iPad Pros during Black Friday week

In what are the lowest Apple Watch Series 6 prices on record, Amazon has slashed $110 off GPS + Cellular styles and $70 off GPS Only models. Plus, save $100 on Apple’s latest iPad Pros during Black Friday week.

Crazy good Apple Watch deals

Supplies may be limited at the $389.98 record low price, so if you’ve been holding out for an aggressive discount on a GPS + Cellular Apple Watch 6, the wait is over. At press time, red, blue and gold aluminum case styles are all eligible for the $110 discount. GPS only models have also just dropped to $329.98, a $70 discount off retail.

According to the AppleInsider Price Guide, these are the lowest Apple Watch Series 6 prices available with other retailers charging at least $50 more for the same styles. There are plenty of additional Apple Watch deals on even more styles, so it’s worth paying a visit to our Price Guide to track the steepest discounts on your favorite Apple products.

Apple Watch Series 6 $110 off

iPad Pro deals at Amazon

We covered Amazon’s $729.99 11-inch iPad Pro deal yesterday, which is still going strong this Monday, but another noteworthy price drop is on the robust 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is on sale for $899.99. This price represents a $100 discount on the latest 12.9-inch model with 128GB capacity and Wi-Fi functionality. It can also be paired with the Smart Keyboard Folio that’s 40% off at Amazon right now, making a fantastic gift idea for the Apple fan in your life.

Apple hardware deals

Lowest Apple prices

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running additional exclusive discounts on hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus deals on AppleCare, software and more. Here are some of the offers:

6 reasons why reporters aren’t interested in your content marketing

Digital PR is an excellent strategy to pair with content marketing, especially if your goals include increasing your brand awareness and improving your backlink portfolio.

When you create excellent content and pitch it to writers, you not only get great media coverage, but you get the link back to your project and the authority that comes with being mentioned in a trusted publication.

This earned media tactic is very effective — but it isn’t easy.

If you get any part of it wrong, your chances of success decrease dramatically. If you’ve run into roadblocks, make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes with your content or your pitching.

1. It’s not newsworthy

Sure, it’s easy to say the news only wants to cover material that is, well, news worthy.

But what does that actually mean?

For content marketers, it usually refers to three criteria: timeliness, relevance and significance.

But there’s a catch: Most content marketing programs don’t have journalists devoted to breaking news like actual media outlets do. So how can you create content that is truly newsworthy without the resources of a newsroom?

By creating and analyzing your own data.

If your brand provides a fresh data set or a new analysis of existing data, then you’re the sole owner of information, and you can offer it exclusively to publications. This makes your pitch much more interesting.

This tactic is a combination of original content marketing and digital PR.

But the content can’t just be timely. It also has to be relevant to the writer you’re pitching and that writer’s audience. I’ll explain more on that in #4.

Finally, significance, which refers to the impact it has on the audience. When you think of local news, this is why they report on things like traffic jams and school closures: It directly affects the daily lives of the people watching and listening.

Alternatively, your data can be significant to writers covering specific beats. For example, for our client ZenBusiness, we surveyed Americans and asked what they thought about the government’s relief packages for COVID-19.

While ZenBusiness operates in the office/work niches, this new insight into American perspective was appealing to the political publication The Hill.

Significance is tough criteria from a brand perspective, but if you’re able to offer brand-new insights, it’s certainly not impossible.

2. The significance isn’t clear

Imagine a stranger handing you a book with a blank cover and saying, “Here, you’ll find this interesting.” Would you read the whole book?

Google brings ‘The Mandalorian’ to AR in its new app

Google has teamed up with Disney and Lucasfilm to bring the Star Wars streaming series “The Mandalorian” to augmented reality. The company announced this morning the launch of a new Android AR app,  “The Mandalorian” AR Experience, which will display iconic moments from the first season of the show in AR, allowing fans to retrace the Mandalorian’s steps, find the Child, harness the Force, and more, according to the app’s Play Store description.

In the app, users will be able to follow the trail of Mando, Din Djarin and the Child, interact with the characters, and create scenes that can be shared with friends.

New AR content will be released for the app on Mondays, starting today Nov. 23 and continuing for nearly a year to wrap on Oct. 31, 2021. That makes this a longer-term promotion than some of the other Star Wars experiences Google has offered in the past.

Image Credits: Google/Lucasfilm

Meanwhile, the app itself takes advantage of Google’s developer platform for building augmented reality experiences, ARCore, in order to create scenes that interact with the user’s surroundings. This more immersive design means fans will be able to unlock additional effects based on their actions. The app also leverages Google’s new ARCore Depth API, which allows the app to enable occlusion. This makes the AR scenes blend more naturally with the environment that’s seen through the smartphone’s camera.

However, because the app is a showcase for Google’s latest AR technologies, it won’t work with all Android devices.

Google says the app will only support “compatible 5G Android devices,” which includes its 5G Google Pixel smartphones and other select 5G Android phones that have the Google Play Services for AR updated. You can check to see if your Android phone is supported on a list provided on the Google Developers website. Other phones may be supported in the future, the company also notes.

Image Credits:

While the experience requires a 5G-capable Android device, Google says that you don’t have to be on an active 5G connection to use the app. Instead, the requirement is more about the technologies these devices include and not the signal itself.

Google has teamed up with Lucasfilm many times over the past several years for promotional marketing campaigns. These are not typically considered ads, because they give both companies the opportunity to showcase their services or technologies. For example, Google allowed users to give its apps a Star Wars-themed makeover back in 2015, which benefited its own services like Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Chrome and others. It has also introduced both AR and VR experiences featuring Star Wars content over the past several years.

The  “The Mandalorian” AR Experience” is a free download on the Play Store.

Save 25% on annual Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale

The holiday season is upon us, and that means big savings on Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale. From now until November 30, TechCrunch readers can save 25% on an annual plan for Extra Crunch. 

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, get ahead at your job, and stay connected to a growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis, and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization, and other work topics. 

You can also find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletters. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off future TechCrunch events, and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase, and more.

Join our growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams at a discounted rate here.

The Green Days sale is our biggest discount of the year, so don’t snooze on the savings. The sale ends on November 30. If you have questions about the sale or Extra Crunch membership, please contact our customer support team at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Equity Monday: Good vaccine news, three rounds, and why IPOs are trending

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Thursday’s main ep, and our bonus episode that went out on Saturday.

If you like Equity, your cup runeth over.

So, what did we get into this morning? A grip of things, which I’ve listed below in order:

Please stay safe this week, America. Do something boring and unfun, so that we can keep more of us alive into next year.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Apple provides instructions to erase and restore unresponsive M1 Macs

Apple has released two sets of instructions to perform an erase and restore on an Apple Silicon Mac or MacBook, roughly a week after users encountered issues performing a similar procedure intended for Intel-based Macs.

The M1-equipped MacBook AirThe M1-equipped MacBook Air

There are occasions where a Mac may not work properly, to the level that the Mac or MacBook won’t boot up at all, such as if a power cut is performed during an upgrade of macOS. Apple has procedures in place that can enable users to revive the firmware of the Mac, to allow it to boot and function normally.

Read more…