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Daily Crunch: Google I/O will return virtually next month – TechCrunch

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Google announces its I/O plans, Facebook tests an audio Q&A feature and Patreon triples its valuation. This is your Daily Crunch for April 7, 2021.

The big story: Google I/O will return virtually next month

Google canceled its giant developer conference last year during the pandemic. This year, the show will return in virtual form, from May 18 to May 20. It will be free and open to all.

Google is following the lead of companies like Apple (which is holding a virtual WWDC in June) and Microsoft (which will hold a virtual Build from May 25 to 27).

The tech giants

Facebook tests Hotline, a Q&A product that’s a mashup of Clubhouse and Instagram Live — Unlike Clubhouse, creators can opt to turn their cameras on for the event, instead of being audio-only.

Twitch expands its rules against hate and abuse to include behavior off the platform — The news comes as Twitch continues to grapple with reports of abusive behavior and sexual harassment, both on the platform and within the company itself.

E-bikes and earbuds among the first third-party hardware to support Apple’s Find My tracking — VanMoof’s S3 and X3 e-bikes will sport tracking functionality, along with a “Locate with Apple Find My” logo located on the bottom side of the crossbar.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Patreon triples valuation to $4 billion in new raise — This was in a $155 million funding round led by Tiger Global.

Plaid raises $425M Series D from Altimeter as it charts a post-Visa future — After its $5.3 billion sale to Visa fell through this January, it became clear that Plaid would chart its own future.

Authentic Artists is building virtual, AI-powered musicians — These musicians will perform their own concerts, initially in Twitch, and can respond to audience requests.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How to kick the 10 worst startup habits with Fuel Capital’s Leah Solivan — Solivan has ample experience on both sides of the fence, as she founded TaskRabbit and led it to exit through an acquisition by Ikea in 2017.

The do’s and don’ts of bug bounty programs with Katie Moussouris — In the rush to launch, cybersecurity doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, and yet it’s one of the first things that can go wrong for startups.

Building and leading an early-stage sales team with Zoom CRO Ryan Azus — Before his role at Zoom, Azus built RingCentral’s North American sales organization from the ground up.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Saying hello to TechCrunch’s newest podcast: Found — The Equity team sits down with the hosts of TechCrunch’s new podcast Found.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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New blast at St. Vincent volcano; cruise ship helps evacuees

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La Soufriere volcano has shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash and a cruise ship has arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island by a week of violent eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — La Soufriere volcano shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash on Friday as a cruise ship arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island coated in ash from a week of violent eruptions.

The explosions that began on April 9 forced some 20,000 to flee the northern end of the eastern Caribbean island for shelters and contaminated water supplies across the island.

Friday morning’s blast “wasn’t a big explosion compared to the ones that we last weekend, but it was big enough to punch a hole through the clouds,” said Richard Robertson, lead scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, in an interview with local NBC radio. “Probably got up to 8,000 meters (26,000 feet).”

During a comparable eruption cycle in 1902, explosive eruptions continued to shake the island for months after an initial burst killed some 1,700 people, though the new eruptions so far have caused no reported deaths among a population that had received official warning a day earlier that danger was imminent.

Meanwhile, British, U.S. and Canadian nationals were being evacuated aboard Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection from the harbor in the Kingstown, capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The ship was due to arrive Saturday in Dutch Sint Maarten.

Dozens of foreigners toting luggage descended from tour buses and cars at the port terminal in Kingstown and patiently waited in a line that began in the parking lot and reached deep into the terminal.

They included students from the Trinity School of Medicine along with stranded tourists, including families with young children in arms.

“As of right now, we are being evacuated for our safety and to keep the island as safe as possible,” said LLeah Ransai, a Canadian student at Trinity. “Between the school, the government and the embassies of the US and Canada, we’re being evacuated now.”

The U.S. Embassy said those aboard would have to make their own travel arrangements home.

It also noted in an official statement that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended against travel on cruise ships because the chance of getting COVID-19 and said people who had been in close contact with suspected COVID-19 cases were barred from the trip. All aboard were supposed to have a negative rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of boarding.

Meanwhile, thousands of locals were stuck n emergency shelters with no idea when they might be able to return home.

Levi Lewis, 58, a retired public servant from the town of Fancy, said the eruption had left him trying to get by with practically nothing.

“I just reusing clothing cause i didn’t walk with much,” he said. “Plus water is an issue, so I’m trying to conserve it still.”

“I want to go back home, or to whatever is left of it,” he added.

A few people, however, never left, defying evacuation orders.

Raydon May, a bus conductor in his late 20s who stayed in Sandy Bay throughout the eruptions, said he had always planned to stay if the volcano erupted and was trying to protect properties in the community while making occasional trips outside the evacuation zone to pick up water and supplies.

He said so much ash had fallen that the roofs of houses were collapsing under the weight.

“One roof might get on like three truckloads of sand,” he said. “We trying to help … but we can’t help everybody.”

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Former Bachelor star Colton Underwood may get a reality show after coming out as gay: The backlash, explained

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ABC/Josh Vertucci

Colton Underwood, the former lead on popular reality series The Bachelor, came out as gay in a very public way this week in an interview with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. As the news spread, so did reports that Netflix is working with Underwood on a reality show that follows his life as an openly gay man. “I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it,” Underwood told Roberts on Wednesday. “I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Some people face considerable obstacles on their path to coming out, and Underwood shared his own. “I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time,” he told Roberts.   

The response to Underwood’s revelation has been largely supportive, with many — including Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy who is openly gay, and alumni and producers of the popular long-running dating show — applauding the 29-year-old Underwood for his honesty and sending messages of pride and solidarity. 

“I am so proud of you for finally being able to share and live your truth,” tweeted Tayshia Adams, who competed on his season of the series and went on to star in her own season of The Bachelorette, another show in ABC’s reality dating franchise.  

But Underwood’s alleged past treatment of Cassie Randolph, the woman he chose on his Bachelor season, has complicated the reactions. After the pair’s breakup in 2020, Randolph, 25, was granted a restraining order against her former boyfriend. She said he’d placed a tracking device on her car, sent her harassing texts and showed up uninvited to her LA apartment and her parent’s home. According to TMZ, she later dismissed the restraining order and asked that the police investigation be dropped. 

Following Underwood’s GMA revelation, Variety reported that Netflix is planning a reality show that looks at Underwood’s life as an openly gay man, and now a Change.org petition is circulating urging Netflix to cancel those plans. The petition has more than 10,000 signatures as of Friday morning. Online petitions have no actual power, but they do serve as a barometer of public opinion.  

“Regardless of his sexuality, Colton should not be given a platform as a result of his abusive, manipulative and dangerous behavior,” the writer of the petition says. 

Wrote one of the petition’s signers, “I’m a survivor of stalking, and it repulses me to see someone like this given a platform as though he’s done nothing wrong. I will absolutely cancel my Netflix subscription if you go through with this.”

The petition also links to a Reddit thread offering a link to documents in the Randolph-Underwood case.

Netflix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative for Underwood said the reality star had no comment.  

Here’s more on Colton Underwood and the complex reactions to his coming out and the possibility of him getting his own show.    

Who’s Colton Underwood?

Colton Underwood was born in Indianapolis and raised in Illinois, where he played college football at Illinois State University. The Bachelor hyped him as a pro football player, but if you never heard of him, there’s a reason. Underwood was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers in 2014, but waived before the season began. He briefly played for the practice squads of the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders, but never appeared in a real NFL game. 

His dating life brought him much more fame than his sports career. Even before The Bachelor, Underwood dated Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman. That relationship made headlines too, and the couple even attended the Golden Globe Awards together in 2017. They broke up later that year.

His Bachelor life

Underwood first appeared as a contestant on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette in 2018. He was eventually eliminated but showed up again in the franchise’s spinoff show, Bachelor in Paradise. By now he’d become a favorite of some fans and the show’s producers cast him in the title role of The Bachelor for the show’s 2019 season, heavily hyping him as “the virgin Bachelor.” Underwood chose California speech pathologist Cassie Randolph, but didn’t propose marriage to her in the finale. 

Police involvement post show 

Underwood and Randolph dated for a year before their May 2020 breakup. She filed for the restraining order that fall, before dismissing it and asking that the police investigation be dropped. 

“The two of us were able to reach a private agreement to address any of Cassie’s concerns,” Underwood told TMZ at the time. “I do not believe Cassie did anything wrong in filing for the restraining orders and also believe she acted in good faith.”

Coming out and Cassie

Underwood told Good Morning America that Randolph didn’t know he was gay. He also said he’d like to apologize to his former girlfriend, and while he didn’t address the restraining order directly, admitted, “I made mistakes at the end of that relationship.” Following the interview, many on Reddit expressed support for Randolph and shared their own stories of being harassed by ex-partners.

Some also expressed offense at Underwood suggesting any link between past harassing behavior and confusion over his sexuality.   

“As a gay man,” wrote one Reddit user, “I find this whole thing abhorrent. I spent my fair share of time in the closet, and coming to terms with my sexuality. It’s still something I’m working on, being out and proud.

“For his behavior to be excused because he was gay is wrong. It paints this picture that somehow closeted gay men are what, unstable but cured by coming out? That his actions were excusable because he was gay? I’m confused by the narrative. I’m insulted by it.” 

If the reality show happens, a source told Variety it’ll focus on Underwood’s dating life, and on discovering his sexuality as a gay man. Us magazine reported that Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy was spotted filming with Underwood. Kenworthy came out as gay in 2015. 

Underwood’s coming-out may even ripple back to the show that made him famous. Unnamed Bachelor sources told TMZ that Underwood’s coming out has sparked internal discussion among show producers about possibly casting a gay season of the show.


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Can the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood Be Saved?

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The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

An arc light, or arc lamp, is a source of illumination created when electricity flows between two carbon electrodes. Use of arc lamps dwindled in the 20th century, edged out by incandescents, but for a long time they were a common light source for movie projectors. Mostly this little detail is just a fun fact—something interesting to bring up at parties. But this week, it’s a reminder that the history of cinema is long, even when our memories are short—and that the news of ArcLight Cinema shutting down can bring back a flood of recollections, even for people who may not know the theater chain’s namesake.

The bloodletting started on Monday, when Decurion Corporation announced that it would not be reopening the ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres locations it had to close during Covid-19. “This was not the outcome anyone wanted, but despite a huge effort that exhausted all potential options,” Decurion said in a statement, “the company does not have a viable way forward.” It was a huge blow, especially considering theaters in California, where the chains operate some 300 screens, were just starting to reopen. It was also a gut-punch to Los Angeles filmgoers who had spent their lives going to the ArcLight location in Hollywood, home to the legendary Cinerama Dome, a landmark on the Sunset Strip since the 1960s.

As the news spread, reactions quickly followed. The Old Guard director Gina Prince-Bythewood tweeted, “This is so painful. The ArcLight was my go-to … A true movie-going experience.” Lulu Wang, director of The Farewell, reminisced about meeting Quentin Tarantino in the lobby. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson lamented “this sucks,” while Moonlight helmer Barry Jenkins just tweeted a very apt “FUCK.” Film Twitter was distraught. 

Once the shock wore off, many people started looking for answers. Some suggested a movie magnate—a Christopher Nolan or the like—could swoop in to save the ArcLight. Others, noting that the so-called Paramount Consent Decrees no longer prevent studios from owning theaters, suggested the Cinerama could be a crown jewel for a streamer like Amazon, Apple, or Netflix. There’s just one problem with Netflix taking over the multiplex: It just bought Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, another iconic Los Angeles theater that also happens to be about a mile from the company’s Hollywood home base. (Amazon and Apple, meanwhile, would definitely have the cash, but neither has shown interest in physical locations the way Netflix has.)

It is possible a longtime movie mogul with deep pockets could come in and save the legendary geodesic dome, and everyone is speculating about who could pull it off. Many suggested Quentin Tarantino. When he bought the New Beverly Cinema in 2010, he said, “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there,” so he seemed like the kind of guy who could do it. Nolan, a staunch defender of large format movie projection, also seemed like a good bet. But so far, no word has come that either of them is interested. Eventually, someone started a Change.org petition stating that “we the people (cinephiles) are calling on Amazon, Walt Disney Studios, Apple, Netflix, or someone else to save the Dome.” As of this writing, nearly 10,000 people have signed.

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