Postmates cuts losses in Q2 as it heads towards tie-up with Uber

Popular food delivery service Postmates is in the process of merging with Uber in a blockbuster $2.65 billion deal that would see it join forces with its food delivery competitor, Uber Eats. The deal remains under antitrust scrutiny, and has not yet been approved for closing. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021.
However, a new SEC filing posted after hours this Friday gives us a glimpse into how Postmates is faring in the new world of global pandemics and sit-in dining closures across the United States.
Postmates posted a loss of just $32.2 million in Q2, compared to a loss of $73 million in Q1, nearly cutting its cash burning in half. That compares to Uber Eats’ results, which showed a loss of $286 million in the first quarter of 2020 and a loss of $232 million in the second quarter — an improvement of roughly 20%, according to Uber’s most recent financial reports.

Altogether, Postmates lost $105.2 million in the first half of 2020, compared to a loss of $239 million in the same period of 2019.
Uber through its filing today also disclosed the cap table for Postmates in full detail for the first time. On a fully diluted basis, the largest shareholder in Postmates is Tiger Global, which owns 27.2% of the company. Following up is Founders Fund with 11.4%, Spark Capital with 6.9% and GPI Capital with 5.3%. At Uber’s $2.65 billion all-stock deal, that nets Tiger Global roughly $720 million and Founders Fund roughly $302 million, not including some stock preferences and dividends that certain owners of the company hold.
While Postmates and Uber continue to go through the antitrust review process at the federal level, the companies also face legal pressure in their own backyards. Uber noted in its filing today that it and Postmates face headwinds due to California’s AB 5 bill, which is designed to give additional employment protections to freelance workers. However, the company notes that such litigation “may not, in and of itself, give rise to a right of either party to terminate the transaction.”

Postmates cuts losses in Q2 as it heads towards tie-up with Uber

Launch Center Pro lets you build custom icons to customize your iOS 14 home screen

Launch Center Pro, an iOS utility that offered widgets and custom icons long before they were allowed on the iPhone’s home screen, is bringing its design tools to iOS 14. The app aims to capitalize on the recent trend toward home screen personalization by offering a set of over 7,000 glyphs and emoji that can be used to create custom icons for use with Apple’s Shortcuts app.
In addition, the app offers over 13 icon background styles with 15 colors each, along with other tools to build a customized experience like glyph styling and badges, for example. In total, it has the capability of producing 13 trillion possible icons using its built-in tools — and even more if you choose to use your own photos when creating your icons.

Image Credits: Contrast/Launch Center Pro

Much of the work to make this possible had already been done last year for iOS 13, says Launch Center Pro’s developer David Barnard. But iPhone home screen customization never really took off until this month, thanks to the launch of iOS 14. With the OS update, developers have finally been able to ship widgets of different sizes alongside their apps to offer a more engaging experience directly on users’ home screens.
While the original intention was focused on bringing informational updates from existing apps to the home screen, a handful of developers leveraged the new capabilities to build specialized widget design tools. These widget-making apps have allowed users to create widgets of many sorts and sizes, using a variety of colors and styles. Widgetsmith, for example, has been topping the App Store charts as users began to customize their home screens.
In addition, a number of users figured out how to use Apple’s Shortcuts to replace the icons associated with their favorite apps in order to create entirely unique, themed home screen experiences. Tutorials popped up on TikTok and the hashtag #iOS14homescreen began trending on Twitter as people shared the end results of their iPhone makeovers.
But one obstacle to redesigning the home screen was that you either needed to find a set of custom icons to use or design your own using an app like PicsArt or Photoshop, for example. And this could be challenging for those who don’t regularly work with creative tools. That’s where Launch Center Pro comes in:

@launchcenterproBuild your own custom icons for iOs 14! More tips to come! ##ios14homescreen ##ios14 ##homescreen♬ original sound – Launch Center Pro

The app offers simple tools that let you build your own icons without needing to be a design expert. Instead, you simply pick the icon shape, the color and the glyph, then optionally add a frame or badge. Apple’s Shortcuts app offers a similar set of tools, but with far fewer options.
The icons you make can then either be used with the Shortcuts app by exporting the icon to your Camera Roll or they can be used inside Launch Center Pro’s classic Today View widgets. These widgets can include not just favorite apps, but specific actions or tasks — like messaging a favorite friend, getting directions or anything else you commonly do on your phone.

Spent like an hour creating this layout using @_DavidSmith’s excellent Widgetsmith and @LaunchCenterPro for the icons. #ios14homescreen pic.twitter.com/ZL6hBKY8MZ
— Alex Crocker (@crockerbytes) September 24, 2020

Unfortunately, Launch Center Pro hasn’t yet released iOS 14-compatible home screen widgets at this time.
However, the team expects to have those ready later this fall, along with other big updates. In the meantime, the company hopes its icon designer will come in handy in these early days of iOS 14 customizations. They also plan on releasing smaller updates focused on improving the icon design experience in the weeks ahead.
Launch Center Pro is available as a free download on the App Store.

Launch Center Pro lets you build custom icons to customize your iOS 14 home screen

Top 20 iOS homescreen customization apps reach 5.7M installs after iOS 14 release

The iOS 14 home screen customization trend is driving a new set of apps to the top of the App Store charts, and delivering record downloads for sources of inspiration, like Pinterest. According to new data from app store market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, installs of the top 20 home screen customization apps reached 5.7 million total downloads worldwide in the first four days following the release of iOS 14 on September 16.
Remarkably, the three most-downloaded apps — Widgetsmith, Color Widgets and Photo Widget — account for 95% of these 5.7 million downloads. That indicates that the rest of the app customization market today is much smaller. But this could still change over time if more apps embrace the trend and expand to include innovative and unique features.
Sensor Tower’s study on the home screen customization market only focused on those apps that were used to create home screen widgets or existed primarily to service them, like calendars, clocks, memos and others.

To determine if the app offered home screen customization tools, Sensor Tower analyzed the app metadata of all the apps that ranked at any point on the App Store after September 16, then manually reviewed those apps to confirm their functionality was home-screen-customization related.
The report’s focus was also more on widget apps, rather than apps that helped users make custom icons or existing apps that added widget functionality, as Sensor Tower decided it wouldn’t be able to determine how many had done so based on their metadata. It’s also difficult to determine, in some cases, if an app with a larger purpose beyond widgets is moving up the charts simply because it has now added widgets.
The top 20 list, in order, includes the following:
Widgetsmith, Color Widgets, Photo Widget, Photobox Widget, MemoWidget, Home Photo Widget, Motivation Widget, Ermine, Date Today, Hey Weather, TimeDeck, Widgeridoo, Glimpse 2, Widget Wizard, Widget Web, Locket, ItemMemo, OMDZ, Clock Widget for Home Screen and Photo Widgets.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Combined, the group has generated a collective $400,000 in consumer spending in four days — from September 17 through September 20. Widgetsmith dominated the group, accounting for $370,000 of that total, followed by an app called Date Today with close to $20,000, per Sensor Tower estimates. (We should note Widgetsmith’s figure comes in a bit lower than some of the other estimates that were floating around.)
Though Sensor Tower’s study had a narrower focus, there are signals that plenty of apps have benefitted from the customization craze beyond the widget makers themselves.
Design inspiration resource Pinterest, as noted above, saw record daily downloads. TuneTrack, now the No. 18 free (nongame) app on the U.S. App Store appears to be gathering steam in the absence of an official Spotify widget. Its app offers both Apple Music and Spotify widgets for showing off favorite music on your home screen.
Sensor Tower says TuneTrack saw 552,000 installs between Sept. 17 and 20, for example — a figure up 1,840% from the prior week (9/10-9/13). The Motivation widget saw 431,000 installs, up 798%.
Meanwhile, design tool Procreate Pocket is now the No. 2 paid (nongame) app in the U.S., and PicsArt is the No. 31 free app. An app that simplifies icon changing, Icon Changer+, is No. 40 on the Top Free Apps charts in the U.S., followed by an app called Shortcuts, which is not the same Shortcuts app from Apple. (And surprisingly being allowed to use the same name!)

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Because there’s not a specific category for home screen customization tools, some of the new apps can be found in the Productivity category, while others categorized themselves as Utility apps or something else entirely. This makes it more difficult for a consumer who wants to compare the rankings of all top apps offering home screen customization functionality in one place.
Given that iOS 14 has effectively created an entire new category of apps, it’s possible that Apple would consider adding a customization category to the App Store in the future, if the trend continues long term.
For now, however, Apple is addressing the discoverability issues with new App Store editorial content. A featured story on the App Store’s “Today” page, for example, is titled “How to Set Up Widgets,” and recommends a number of apps that have added widgets — like Todoist, Carrot Weather, Timepage, Apollo, Spark Mail and others, in addition to Widgetsmith.
There are new widgets still arriving, as well, as developers roll out their iOS 14 updates. Fantastical, for example, just launched 12 home screen widgets today.
What’s unfortunate is that Apple didn’t give its developer community enough time to prepare for launch day. The company announced iOS 14’s release with less than 24 hours’ notice and without the final version of Xcode available to developers. As a result, when users began to customize their home screens, they may not have found all the widgets they would have wanted.
 
 
 
 

Top 20 iOS homescreen customization apps reach 5.7M installs after iOS 14 release

Royole returns with another foldable

I first spent time with the Royole Flexpai at a TechCrunch event in China back in 2018. The device was exciting. It was the first commercially released foldable, after all, before Samsung and Huawei offered their respective takes on the form factor. But ultimately it felt like, at best, a proof of concept. It was a shot across the bow from a little-known Shenzhen-based hardware maker, and ultimately little else.
The last two years have been — let’s say “complicated” for the category. I don’t think anyone was anticipating that $2,000 foldable phones were going to disrupt the industry right out of the gate or anything — especially in a time when more people are spending less money on their mobile devices. But to say foldables got off to a rocky start is something of an understatement. Royole has announced a few more products here and there, but the Flexpai continues to be the company’s most engaging from a consumer perspective.

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

At an event in Beijing this morning, the company announced the Flexpai 2. The device is similar in design to the first model, which is to say it folds with the screen facing outward. The design makes sense from the standpoint of offering up notifications while closed (there’s a reason the Galaxy Fold 2 got a larger front-facing screen), but now you’ve got two screens to scuff up when the big old device is in your pocket.

The device itself got a bit of screen time during the press conference, though not a ton. For now we mostly have press shots to rely on, which is going to continue to be one of the pain points of covering hardware in the COVID-19 era. Fittingly, the company spent a lot of time talking hinges here — that, after all, was a high profile point of failure for Samsung’s first-gen device.
Here’s how Royole describes it in the press material:

The structure of the hinge is stable and shockproof, providing the great protection for the screen. It has more than 200 precision components with 0.01 mm processing accuracy. The hinge technology holds around 200 patents and solved many issues seen in other foldable smartphones.

Image Credits: Royole

Having had limited time with the Flexpai, I’ll say that robustness didn’t seem like one of the primary issues with a product that had some other first-gen bugs. The thing was pretty massively thick, though — which Royole has addressed with a design here that’s around 40% thinner than the first gen. The display is a generous 7.8 inches — though no mention of whether there’s glass reinforcement, which could be an issue.
There’s 5G support, a healthy 4450mAh battery and a Snapdragon 865 processor. The company updated its waterOS, which is built on top of Android 10 to offer a more seamless foldable experience. It arrives in China this week priced at around $1,427, which is wildly expensive for a standard smartphone, but actually pretty good for a foldable.
U.S. availability is, once again, a big question mark.

Royole returns with another foldable

Daily Crunch: This TikTok deal is pretty confusing

Companies send out conflicting messages about the TikTok deal, Microsoft acquires a gaming giant and the WeChat ban is temporarily blocked. This is your Daily Crunch for September 21, 2020.
The big story: This TikTok deal is pretty confusing
This keeps getting more confusing. Apparently TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has reached a deal with Walmart and Oracle that will allow the Chinese social media app to continue operating in the United States, and the deal has been approved by Donald Trump. But it’s hard to tell exactly what this agreement entails.

ByteDance said it would retain 80% control of TikTok, while selling 20% of the company to Walmart and Oracle as “commercial partner” and “trusted technology partner,” respectively. However, Oracle released a seemingly conflicting statement, claiming that Americans will have majority ownership and “ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.”
So what’s going on here? We’re trying to figure it out.
The tech giants
Microsoft set to acquire Bethesda parent ZeniMax for $7.5B — ZeniMax owns some of the biggest publishers in gaming, including Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios.
Trump administration’s WeChat ban is blocked by US district court — More news about the Trump administration’s efforts to ban some high-profile Chinese apps: A district court judge in San Francisco has temporarily stayed the nationwide ban on WeChat.
Nikola’s chairman steps down, stock crashes following allegations of fraud — This comes in the wake of a report from a noted short-seller accusing the electric truck company of fraud.
Startups, funding and venture capital
With $100M in funding, Playco is already a mobile gaming unicorn — Playco is a new mobile gaming startup created by Game Closure co-founder Michael Carter and Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron.
Indian mobile gaming platform Mobile Premier League raises $90 million — Mobile Premier League operates a pure-play gaming platform that hosts a range of tournaments.
A meeting room of one’s own: Three VCs discuss breaking out of big firms to start their own gigs — We talked to Construct Capital’s Dayna Grayson, Renegade Partners’ Renata Quintini and Plexo Capital’s Lo Toney.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Edtech investors are panning for gold — At Disrupt, investors told us how they separate the gold from the dust.
Despite slowdowns, pandemic accelerates shifts in hardware manufacturing — China continues to be the dominant global force, but the price of labor and political uncertainty has led many companies to begin looking elsewhere.
The Peloton effect — Alex Wilhelm examines the latest VC activity in connected fitness.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
Ireland’s data watchdog slammed for letting adtech carry on ‘biggest breach of all time’ — The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is putting more pressure on the country’s data watchdog to take enforcement action.
Pandemic accelerated cord cutting, making 2020 the worst-ever year for pay TV — According to new research from eMarketer, the cable, satellite and telecom TV industry is on track to lose the most subscribers ever.
Original Content podcast: ‘Wireless’ shows off Quibi’s Turnstyle technology — I interviewed the director of the new Quibi series.
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.

Daily Crunch: This TikTok deal is pretty confusing