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HQ Trivia finally gets a new funding round… from Peter Thiel
The live trivia app sensation has raised $15m in a new round of financing from Founders Fund, the VC firm co-founded by Peter Thiel.
In just 5 months, HQ has surpassed 1.5m players, and with this new round of funding their value now lies just north of $100m.
Somethin’ about those founders…
While many industry folk have been skeptical of the app’s staying power, the issues that stood in the way of their funding actually go much deeper — specifically, to the app’s founders, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll.
According to Recode, many “prominent investors” pulled out of funding the startup at the last minute upon learning of Yusupov and Kroll’s alleged “bad behavior,” including allegations of sexual harassment against Kroll.
In walks Peter Thiel…
The former (rumored) teen-blood-transfuser slash Gawker-destroyer has garnered the reputation of being a heat-seeking missile for shady business ventures.
And fans of HQ aren’t happy about it: on Friday before the news broke, the hashtag #DeleteHQ began trending, with users expressing their displeasure of the trivia app’s new business partner.
That said, it’s highly unlikely this trending boycott will cause any actual damage.
In other news: what’s the deal with HQ’s host??
His name is Scott Rogowsky, his eyebrows are real, and according to AdAge, he sincerely believes HQ players shouldn’t cheat.
But aside from those details, Rogowsky has remained enigmatic, sparking imaginative debates among the HQ fanbase.
SO, we’ll leave you with a Q: Which of the following Scott Rogowsky fan-spiracies is true?
Before each trivia round, he’s caged and cattle-prodded
The founders of HQ are using the standup comic as a pawn to infiltrate showbiz
He was nearly fired for mentioning he likes Sweetgreen
D. None of the above
Chips for chicks: Pepsi CEO plans to launch “snacks for women”
Have you ever wanted a chip so badly, but were too scandalized by their loud crunching to eat them in public? Well, then you know how it feels to be a woman — at least, according to the maker of Doritos, PepsiCo.
In a recent interview, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said there are fundamental differences between the way men and women consume chips. So, they’re rolling out a new line of products to appeal to female consumers.
“FINALLY A CHIP FOR ME” — No woman ever
While market research shows that young men “lick their [Dorito] fingers with glee” and dump the crumbs into their mouths, women, Nooyi speculates, “would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers.”
Their new female product line will be low-crunch, full-taste, without the flavor finger-stick, and, according to Nooyi, it will finally answer the question, “can you put it in a purse?”
Please, no. Aside from the PR sh*tstorm they’re likely to face (at least if the “BIC for her,” fiasco is any indication), we take issue with the idea that anyone — male or female — loves getting flavor dust under their fingernails, or getting a bag half-filled with tiny broken chip pieces.
So hot take here: maybe it’s time for Pepsi to improve its core product and start making better chips for people, not just purses.
Alphabet is building a platform that aims to make city transport “smarter”
Last week, Alphabet’s “urban innovation” arm, Sidewalk Labs, announced a new side-project called Coord.
The goal: to build out a cloud-based platform that serves as the “connective tissue” for a city’s transportation services (think everything from ridesharing to bike sharing to public transit).
They’ve been toying with this for a while
Coord aims to collect an immense amount of local data on things like cities’ tolls, transit routes, parking spaces, and curb traffic, create a repository for it all, then sell it to transit-oriented companies.
In essence, they want to create a central hub to simplify transportation options in cities, and simplify the task of navigating multiple apps for public transit, ridesharing, and bike sharing.
And, it’s part of a growing trend of big-tech trying to sell cities their own data and act as “urban operating systems.”
The age of the Smart City
As Wired writes, Coord envisions turning cities into “high-tech, digital playgrounds,” where everything is connected and symbiotic.
They’re not alone in this quest: Ford is already selling its Transportation Mobility Cloud (an operating system for transport), Amazon, Siemens, and IBM all have internal “Smart City” departments, and Bill Gates has invested $80m in building a futuristic city of his own in Arizona.
In other words, they won’t rest until you can have an intelligent conversation with your parking meter.
Tesla to sell its solar products in 800 Home Depot stores
Last week, Elon Musk was hellbent on putting flamethrowers into the hands of the people. Now, he’s giving us something a little more practical: the power of the sun.
Tesla has made a deal with Home Depot to sell both their highly anticipated Powerwall battery and Tesla’s solar panels at 800 of their 2.2k locations, marking solar’s first legit test of mainstream interest.
This move to the mass market could be the solution the US has been looking for to keep from falling behind on clean energy. But the big question is, can people afford it?
The main barrier to entry for mainstream solar has always been the price, and while Tesla has brought prices down, the average cost of installation for their solar panel system is still between $10k and $25k — not to mention the additional $7k for the battery.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
To entice customers, the tech pioneer will reportedly design and build designated retail spaces at the 800 stores within the first half of this year.
The spaces will be 12 ft tall and 7 ft wide — some even coming equipped with visual demonstrations to show how the products work. Because even Tesla isn’t afraid to do a little song and dance… for the environment.
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