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Extra Crunch Live: Join Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg for a live Q&A May 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT

Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, is a busy man. He’s also a business man. He’s a busy businessman, but has graciously made time to join us for an episode of Extra Crunch Live, our ongoing speaker series for Extra Crunch members.
We’re thrilled to have Vestberg as a guest on the show! The episode will air on May 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT.
Full disclosure: Verizon is the parent company to TechCrunch, which means that Vestberg is our boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.
Vestberg was previously CEO at Ericsson and joined Verizon as chief technology officer and EVP of network and technology in April of 2017. In June of 2018, the company announced that Vestberg would succeed Lowell McAdams as CEO of Verizon Communications. The promotion was made official that August.
Vestberg is unlike some of our previous guests on Extra Crunch Live — VCs like Kirsten Green, Roelof Botha and Charles Hudson and entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban. Vestberg is an operator at the helm of one of the world’s biggest corporations, and, as such, provides a unique perspective on adaptation strategies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only can attendees plan to hear about how Verizon is thinking both short and long-term about the effects of this pandemic on business, but also about how things are changing internally at the company, from re-opening offices to keeping morale high.
Vestberg leads a company with thousands of employees and can help founders understand how to manage a company at scale, particularly during a time when decisions are being made quickly and the stakes are high.
We’re also interested in talking to Vestberg about the company’s 5G rollout. 5G technology has huge implications for startups, especially as video conferencing and high-bandwidth communication formats become more popular in the midst of physical distancing.
Oh, another important thing! We’re not going to be the only ones asking questions. Extra Crunch members can also ask their questions directly in the Zoom call. So make sure you come prepared! If you’re not already a member, you can join Extra Crunch here.
Again, this episode of Extra Crunch Live with Hans Vestberg goes down on May 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT. You can find the full details below the jump.

Extra Crunch Live: Join Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg for a live Q&A May 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT

Google’s Duo video chat app gets a family mode with doodles and masks

Google today launched an update to its Duo video chat app (which you definitely shouldn’t confuse with Hangouts or Google Meet, Google’s other video, audio and text chat apps).
There are plenty of jokes to be made about Google’s plethora of chat options, but Duo is trying to be a bit different from Hangouts and Meet in that it’s mobile-first and putting the emphasis on personal conversations. In its early days, it was very much only about one-on-one conversations (hence its name), but that has obviously changed (hence why Google will surely change its name sooner or later). This update shows this emphasis with the addition of what the company calls a “family mode.”
Once you activate this mode, you can start doodling on the screen, activate a number of new effects and virtually dress up with new masks. These effects and masks are now also available for one-on-one calls.
For Mother’s Day, Google is rolling out a special new effect that is sufficiently disturbing to make sure your mother will never want to use Duo again and immediately make her want to switch to Google Meet instead.
Only last month, Duo increased the maximum number of chat participants to 12 on Android and iOS. In the next few weeks, it’s also bringing this feature to the browser, where it will work for anyone with a Google account.
Google also launched a new ad for Duo. It’s what happens when marketers work from home.

Google’s Duo video chat app gets a family mode with doodles and masks

Your iPhone will soon be able to tell 911 about your medical conditions and allergies

Got something in your medical history that first responders should know about if you call 911? Things like known drug allergies, or the medications you’re on?
The iPhone and Apple Watch will soon be able to share this information with first responders automatically (if you opt to let it do so).
When a user with this feature enabled calls 911, Apple will ping their location to determine if the local 911 dispatch supports “Enhanced Emergency Data” — a service the company first started building out a few years back to tell emergency services where you’re calling from. If it does, your Medical ID info (as set up in your Health app) will be shared with emergency services accordingly.

It’ll also work with the Apple Watch’s Fall Detection feature, which can automatically call 911 if it detects that the wearer has fallen and is now immobile.
The feature was rolled into the beta build of iOS 13.5 this morning, and Apple says it should ship to everyone in “the coming weeks.”
This is a super logical feature, and one that’ll almost certainly save lives. People are rarely in the calmest state when calling 911, and most people wouldn’t think to say “Oh, and hey by the way, I have an allergy to [medication here]” if they’re worried they’re about to pass out — and that’s something first responders really should know.

Your iPhone will soon be able to tell 911 about your medical conditions and allergies

Social network for women Peanut raises $12M Series A amid pandemic

Peanut, an app that began as a tool for finding new mom friends, has evolved into a social network now used by 1.6 million women to discuss a range of topics, from pregnancy and parenthood to marriage and menopause, and everything in between. On the heels of significant growth in online networking fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is today announcing the close of a $12 million Series A round of funding, led by EQT Ventures, a multi-stage VC firm that invests in companies across Europe and the U.S.
Index Ventures and Female Founders Fund also participated, bringing Peanut’s total raise to date to $21.8 million.
The round itself closed just weeks ago — arriving at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the startup world, often drying up venture capital for emerging companies. Some startups, as a result, have laid off employees to self-sustain, while others have sought exits or even folded.
Peanut, on the other hand, has seen rapid growth for its platform as women looked for a supportive online environment to discuss their own concerns over how COVID-19 was impacting their lives.
Many women participating in Peanut’s newer “Trying to Conceive” group, for example, worried about their canceled IVF rounds and how to plan for the future. Current moms-to-be wanted to hear from others about how COVID-19 would impact their hospital delivery plans. And others stuck working at home with kids looked for advice and coping strategies.

Since the outbreak, Peanut has seen engagement across its app increase by 30% and content consumption increase by 40%. Its total community also grew from 1 million users in December 2019 to now 1.6 million, as of April.
“We’re really lucky in that we’re growing and that we are, for the most part, untouched by what’s happening,” says Peanut founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy. “And actually, if anyone needed community more, it’s now,” she added.
Though the pandemic has sent the app’s usage skyrocketing, it has also readjusted Peanut’s priorities with regard to its roadmap.
Most notably, its friend-finding feature needs a rethink.

Peanut originally worked as a sort of “Tinder for mom friends” — an idea that arose from Kennedy’s personal experience with how difficult it was to forge female friendships after motherhood. As the former deputy CEO at dating app Badoo and an inaugural board member at Bumble, she brought her extensive experience in matchmaking apps to Peanut, which uses a similar swipe-based mechanism.
But COVID-19 has up-ended this side of Peanut’s business. Today, Peanut users are meeting in Zoom chat rooms to hangout or play games, but not in person.
Kennedy says the company will try to meet these users where they are with the development of more video networking features, potentially with technology built in-house. Other plans for the new capital include improvements to the social discovery aspects of its app, the development of a web version of Peanut, and the creation of more groups beyond those focused on fertility and motherhood, which have so far been core to the Peanut experience.

Specifically, the company soon plans to launch a new community focused on women living with menopause, an experience that will reach more than a billion women by 2025. Despite the fact that all women with ovaries will go through menopause, there are relatively few online communities dedicated to it — which Peanut sees as an untapped market.
Peanut’s real strength, however, is not in the types of communities it grows on its platform, but how they’re created.
There has not yet been a social network that focused on “building a platform for women, thinking about women’s needs and built by a women,” explains Kennedy. “So what we end up doing is using things that already exist — trying to twist them and mold them into what we need, and never getting it exactly right,” she says. “We can do better than that.”
One small example of this is the recent launch of Peanut’s “Mute Keywords” feature that allows women to remove certain types of discussions from their feeds and notifications. Some women used this to create a coronavirus-free news feed that focused on other aspects of motherhood. Others who were trying to conceive muted conversations around “pregnancy,” which they found emotionally triggering.

With the Series A’s close, Peanut says Naza Metghalchi from EQT Ventures joins the company’s majority-female board, alongside Hannah Seal from existing investor Index Ventures.
“Peanut’s user engagement metrics are a testament to the app’s ability to act as a true emotional companion throughout women’s journeys,” said Naza Metghalchi, venture lead and investment advisor at EQT Ventures, in a statement. “The EQT Ventures team is excited to partner with Michelle and continue to grow Peanut into a platform that serves all women at different life milestones, exploring topics beyond fertility and motherhood which have already seen such huge traction.”
The additional funding allows London-based Peanut to expand its business and hire more engineers to join its current team of just 16.
“I think having closed a round in this climate is great for the team,” says Kennedy. “It’s also great for the community because it means that we can grow the team, build quicker, build faster and develop the product more quickly,” she adds.

Social network for women Peanut raises $12M Series A amid pandemic

Facebook to launch ‘virtual dating’ over Messenger for Facebook Dating users

Facebook will soon allow users to go on “virtual dates,” the company announced today. The social network is planning to introduce a new video calling feature that will allow users of its Facebook Dating service to connect and video call over Messenger, as an alternative to going on a real-world date. This sort of feature is much in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced people to stay home and practice social distancing.
But for online dating apps, which aim to connect people in the real world, it’s a significant challenge for their business.
For the time being, government lockdowns have limited the places where online daters could meet up for their first date. Restaurants, malls, bars and other retail establishments are closed across regions impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. But even when those restrictions lift, many online dating app users will be wary of meeting up with strangers for those first-time, getting-to-know-you dates. Video chat offers a safer option to explore potential connections with their matches.
When the new Facebook Dating feature goes live, online daters will be able to invite a match to a virtual date. The recipient can either choose to accept or decline the offer via a pop-up that appears.

If they accept, the Facebook Dating users will be connected in a video chat powered by Facebook Messenger in order to get to know one another.
As the feature is still being developed, Facebook declined to share more specific details about how it will work, in terms of privacy and security features.
Facebook is not the first online dating service to pivot to video as a result of the pandemic. But many rival dating apps were adopting video features well before the coronavirus struck, as well.
Bumble, for example, has offered voice and video calling in its app for roughly a year. The feature there works like a normal phone call or Apple’s FaceTime. However, users don’t have to share their phone number or other private information, like an email address, which makes it safer.
The company says use of the feature has spiked over the last two months as users embrace virtual dating.
Meanwhile, Match Group has more recently rolled out video across a number of the dating apps it operates.
This month, the Match app added video chat that allows users who have already matched to connect over video calls. Match-owned Hinge also rolled out a “Dating from Home” prompt and is preparing its own live video date feature, as well, Match says. Plenty of Fish (PoF), another Match property, launched live-streaming in March, giving singles a new way to hang out with friends and potential matches.
Match Group’s flagship app Tinder has not yet embraced live video dates, but still offers a way for users to add video to their profiles. The company couldn’t comment on whether or not video dating was in the works for Tinder, but in the post-COVID era, it would be almost bizarre to not offer such feature.
Other dating apps have also launched video dating, including eHarmony and a number of lesser-known dating apps hoping to now gain traction for their video dating concepts.
Facebook says the feature will roll out in the months ahead and will be available everywhere Facebook Dating is available.

Facebook to launch ‘virtual dating’ over Messenger for Facebook Dating users