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Aggretsuko’s second season introduces meddling moms and psychotic colleagues

Netflix’s Aggretsuko was a surprise breakout hit last year, considering it was a Sanrio property that got unexpectedly real about sexism in the workplace and millennial anxieties. The second season is streaming now, and it’s as hilarious and painfully relatable as ever.

While the first season introduced us to Retsuko, the 25-year-old red panda who deals with the stress of her power-tripping boss through death metal karaoke, season 2 finds her settling into her job and being given the responsibility of training a new co-worker — who turns out to be more than she can handle.

One of Aggretsuko’s many strengths comes from its character design and the stylized animation that delightfully serve as the joke itself. Facial expressions and bodies move in a way that looks like an elevated version of early internet Flash animation, but it works for the show, which celebrates all forms of exaggeration. Without giving too much away, the scenes involving her unsettling new co-worker Anai, an entitled young man unprepared to enter the workforce, are truly the highlight of the season, and gives Aggretsuko plenty to scream about.

 Netflix

Then there’s Retsuko’s mom, who shows up to stir up some drama. She sends Retsuko a frilly abomination of a dress to put on, which should rouse up some violent flashbacks for every daughter out there whose argued with her mom over clashing fashion tastes. Retsuko’s mom is determined to set up her daughter with arranged marriage prospects, including a handsome polar bear boasting the sharpest, most angled eyebrows.

The first season ended with Retsuko’s co-worker Haida confessing his feelings for her, and we saw from the Christmas special that she turned him down. You can tell from the dramatic trailer and poster below that a good old-fashioned love triangle’s about to go down.

Aggretsuko season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

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Magic for Liars blends magic school with a murder mystery

Magic school clashes with a murder mystery in Magic for Liars, the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, best known for their American Hippo short stories — but with one key twist.

That’s because while the school and the murder may be magical, Ivy Gamble, the investigator hired to solve the case, is completely ordinary. Unable to sling a spell or cast a charm, she’s a far more relatable character than most other magical detectives that dot the literary landscape.

Spoilers for the book ahead.

 Image: Tor.com

When we first meet Ivy, she’s eking out a living in Oakland tracking down cheating husbands, dodging muggers on her doorstep, and drinking her way through the local bar scene. Then she’s offered the chance to solve a murder: Sylvia Capley, the health and wellness teacher at the Osthorne Academy, was found split in two in the library, and the headmaster wants to hire Ivy to find out who did it.

There are two problems, though: that the Osthrone Academy is a Hogwarts-esque magical school full of teenagers with supernatural powers that add a whole host of possibilities to the case; and that Ivy’s estranged twin sister — who, unlike Ivy, does have magical powers and whom Ivy has spent the last few years avoiding — is a faculty member there.

Magical schools are a staple of the fantasy genre, from J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts and Lev Grossman’s Brakebills to Terry Prachett’s Unseen University. Magic for Liars introduces readers to yet another school of spellcraft: The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, set in a world very much like ours with magic just bubbling under the surface.

But Gailey’s school, more than nearly any other magical institution, feels like a high school. Students graffiti the walls, cheat on homework, and text too much in class. There are mean cliques and pregnancy scares and all the other problems that are all too often lacking in magical schools, giving it a familiar framework to relate to.

We see all this through Ivy’s eyes, who like many of the grown-up Harry Potter fans that Magic for Liars is geared towards, has spent her entire life wishing for the kind of magic abilities that her twin sister Tabitha has and that Ivy lacks. But as Magic for Liars makes clear, some problems are just fundamental to human nature, and no amount of magic can solve those on its own.

Despite the genre trappings, it’s the relationship between Ivy and Tabitha that drives the story forward. In a sense, it’s the novel’s second mystery, unraveling what went wrong between the two sisters and what (if anything) can set things right.

Gailey’s debut novel seamlessly blends two genres together, imbuing noir-like mystery with the fun of a more traditional magical adventure that’s taking place along the edges.And Gailey’s worldbuilding clearly establishes a much larger world (something that they established themselves as particularly proficient at in their American Hippo novellas.)

Ultimately, Magic for Liars is a great debut for Gailey, with fun characters, an interesting mystery to unravel, and a unique spin on the magical noir genre. And while Gailey hasn’t announced plans for a sequel, we won’t have long to wait for more from them: their next novella, Upright Women Wanted, is out in February.

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Kickstarter and XOXO have shut down their subscription platform before it launched

Last October, Kickstarter announced that it was ending its subscriber-based crowdfunding platform, Drip, but that it was planning a successor project with XOXO festival creators Andy Baio and Andy McMillan. Now, that project has been shut down, according to its creators.

Drip’s unnamed successor project was designed to provide “financial stability and transparency to independent artists.” It came out of conversations from Kickstarter founder Perry Chen and Baio, Kickstarter’s former CTO, with the intention of migrating Drip creators over to it before shutting it down later this year. Kickstarter provided seed funding for the new platform and had hired people to run it, but Baio and McMillan explained that while the concept was a good idea, they “couldn’t find a way to make the business viable.”

The issue appears to have come down to how to generate revenue in a stable and reliable way. The pair say that they explored a number of options: “voluntary subscriptions from users, premium features, increased fees,” but kept finding that “the resources required to support a high number of lower-volume creators always outpaced our revenue.”

“We were intent on running a sustainable and independent business. Even if we went the traditional route and raised venture capital, it didn’t appear likely to survive once that funding ran out. We were building this for the community we care about, and many of the artists and creators in our community are already financially insecure and vulnerable. The idea of launching something with so much uncertainty and risk felt irresponsible and unfair.”

Baio and McMillan noted that they ended up shutting the project down last month, and will be returning the remaining seed funding to Kickstarter. Drip’s shutdown appears to still be on track to happen: they say that they’re going to help the creators remaining on the platform migrate to others.

It’s a bit of a shame, because their description of what they were planning looks to be particularly appealing: a subscription platform with a focus on new and marginalized artists, human-curated discovery and recommendations, and community moderation tools.

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Getting remote work working, A16Z in LatAm, transferring H-1Bs, and Uber Air taxis

How to make remote work work

TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans has an Extra Crunch-exclusive look on what it takes to get remote work working within an organization. Evans, who has been the remote CTO of technology consulting firm HappyFunCorp for many years, finds that “you need decisive confidence, clear direction, iterative targets, independent responsibilities, asynchronous communications, and cheerful chatter” to build out a harmonious remote work culture.

Decisive confidence. Suppose Vivek in Delhi, Diego in Rio, and Miles in Berlin are all on a project. (An example I’m drawing from my real life.) It’s late your time. You have to make a decision about the direction of their work. If you sleep on it, you’re writing off multiple developer-days of productivity.

Sometimes they have enough responsibilities to have other things to work on. (More on that below.) Sometimes you don’t have to make the decision because they have enough responsibility to do so themselves. (More on that below.) But sometimes you have to make the business-level decision based on scant information. In cases like this, remember the military maxim: “Any decision is better than no decision.”

How to negotiate term sheets with strategic investors

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of hundreds of strategic investors, typically large corporates with venture wings with the mission to invest in the next wave of startups targeting their existing business lines. While many of these funds are structured at least symbolically as traditional venture capital firms, their specific concerns during deal negotiation can be quite different.

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Shyp is preparing for a comeback under new management

Fifteen months after shutting down, Shyp is getting ready to launch again. The startup tweeted today that “We are back! We’re hard at work to rebuild an unparalleled shipping experience. Before we begin operations again, we’d love to hear your feedback in this quick survey. We look forward to working with you and can’t wait to change the future of shipping!”

We are back! We’re hard at work to rebuild an unparalleled shipping experience. Before we begin operations again, we’d love to hear your feedback in this quick survey.

We look forward to working with you and can’t wait to change the future of shipping!https://t.co/VqyxGOMrIG

Shyp (@shyp) June 14, 2019

Most of the survey questions focus on online shopping returns, asking how easy or difficult it was to package the product for return, print the prepaid label, purchase postage or ship the product. The last question offers a hint about what direction the rebooted Shyp might take, asking “When returning a product, how likely would you be to use a service that picked up and shipped the product instead of having to ship it yourself?”

Shyp’s website doesn’t say when it will be back or what services it will offer, but it does mention that Shyp restarted in January 2019 under new management and backed by angel investors “with plans to disrupt the industry with what it does best: cutting-edge technology and a superior customer experience.”

Once one of the hottest on-demand startups, Shyp shut down in March 2018 after missing targets to expand to cities outside of San Francisco. When it first launched in 2014, Shyp initially offered on-demand service for almost anything customers wanted shipped, charging $5 plus postage to pick up, package and bring the item to a shipping company. Eventually it introduced a pricing tier in 2016 as it tried to find new approaches to its business model, before closing down two years later.

If the new Shyp does focus on making online returns easier, it will be bringing back one of its most popular services. The company expanded into online returns in 2015 after noticing that many customers used the app to return products they had purchased online.

TechCrunch has emailed Shyp for more information.

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Equity transcribed: Silicon Valley’s founder fetish infantilizes public companies

Welcome back to this week’s transcribed edition of Equity.

This was a big week of news that the Equity duo had to cover. Kate was at the Code Conference, Fortnite maker, Epic Games bought Houseparty, and a bit more on the Bird-Scoot deal.

Then came talk of the CrowdStrike IPO, which gave way to a heated discussion about dual-class shares.

Alex Wilhelm: I think it’s honest. I think giving the public one vote per share, and giving yourself 10 so you retain greater than 50% of voting is a sop. I think it’s ridiculous. Just fly under your own flag. If you don’t want to share any control, then don’t. If you want to have a company with a functional governance, that adheres to historical norms for how this stuff works, then have votes. This 10 versus 1 thing is a fracking farce, because I can’t swear on this show, so you can fill that in yourself. If you want to look at a historical example of a company that didn’t have this setup, it was Amazon, which historically thinks far ahead, and has done fantastically well. It’s public company growing from a, I believe, under nine-figure revenue. The idea you can’t do it is trash. The idea that it always works is wrong. To me, it’s dishonest. If you’re going to sell shares, go public, and float, share the voting power with your shareholders. Don’t treat them like children, and you like a god. You’re not.

Kate Clark: Alex is getting really worked up, but I totally agree with you. That’s why I want to-

Wilhelm: I’m not worked up, I’m angry.

Clark: That’s why I wanted to talk about it though, because I think it’s important. I think what you just said is a perfect summary of why it’s messed up. The only thing I think that will really change this, is to see whether these dual-class stocks, versus single-class stocks, perform differently on the market. As far as I know, they’re not, which means that people don’t care. Or, people don’t know, I don’t know. If a company isn’t going to lose any money doing it … If they’re not going to have any consequences whatsoever, they’re not going to be up against any negative feedback from shareholders, then of course, they’re going to keep doing it. Like I said, it’s not really talked about very much.

Want more Extra Crunch? Need to read this entire transcript? Then become a member. You can learn more and try it for free. 

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