Hello Hello! We’re back with another edition of Week in Review, the newsletter where we quickly recap the best stories to hit TechCrunch over the past seven days. Want it in your inbox? Register here.
a16z backs WeWork founder’s novelty: When a company implodes hard enough to inspire a miniseries, would anyone back the founders again? That doesn’t seem to have deterred a16z, which recently put its biggest check ever into WeWork founder Adam Neumann’s next thing.
Black Girls Code founder fired by board“Kimberly Bryant is officially out of the Black Girls Code, eight months after being indefinitely suspended from the organization she founded,” write Natasha Mascarenhas and Dominic-Madori Davis. Bryant filed a lawsuit in response to the dismissal, alleging “wrongful suspension and a conflict of interest.”
Google closes IoT Core: Google’s IoT Core is a service to help device makers build internet-connected gadgets that connect to Google Cloud. This week, Google announced it was shutting it down, giving those device makers a year to find another solution.
Apple’s big security bug: It’s time to update your Apple devices! This week, the company released critical patches that resolve two (!) security issues that attackers already appear to be actively exploiting. The bugs involve Safari’s WebKit engine and can lead to an attacker having, essentially, full access to your device – so, really, go update.
HBO Max removes titles: HBO Max is merging with Discovery+, and for some reason that means a bunch of titles are getting the boot – and fast. I was going to tell everyone to fast through the amazing “Summer Camp Island” series before it’s gone, but apparently that’s already deleted. Find the full list of defunct/soon to be defunct titles here.
TC fights stalkerware: Last February, TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker lifted the curtain on a network of ‘stalkerware’ apps that were supposed to quietly gobble up private text messages, photos, browsing history, and more. of a victim. This week Zack launched a tool to help people. determine if their Android phone – and therefore their private data – has been impacted. We’ll hear more from Zack about this new tool below.
What’s new in the world of TechCrunch podcasts? This week, the Equity team explained why we need to “officially stop comparing Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes”, and Burnsy spoke to Ethena co-founder Roxanne Petraeus and Homebrew’s Hunter Walk on how to ” sell the vision, not the company”. Tech Crunch live.
What’s behind the TC+ paywall? Really great stuff! Here’s a taste:
How does venture capital work?: Seems like a basic question, but it’s one we get… quite a bit. Haje, with his rare overlapping perspective as a journalist AND a pitch coach AND a former venture capital fund manager, breaks it all down like only he can.
Thinking of using your start-up capital as collateral? Good luck: After years of hard work, you’ve managed to accumulate a ton of equity in the private company you helped build. Can you actually use it as collateral for anything? Max Brenner from Compound guides us through the challenges.
Writer Spotlight: Zack Whittaker
This week we’re experimenting with a new section where we quickly meet a TechCrunch writer to learn a bit more about them and what they’re thinking this week. The first up? The incredible, the inimitable Zack Whittaker.
Who is Zack Whittaker? What do you do at TechCrunch?
Hi, I’m the Security Editor here, aka TechCrunch’s Bearer of Bad News, and I oversee the Security Office. We uncover and report the big cybersecurity news of the day – hacks, data breaches, nation-state attacks, surveillance and national security – and how it affects you and the wider tech scene.
If you could snap your fingers and tell everyone one thing about your beat, what would it be?
Think of cybersecurity as an investment for something you hope never happens, like a breach of your personal data. Better get ahead now. These days it’s easier than ever and it’s never too late to start. Invest some time in three simple steps that make it much harder for hackers to break into your accounts or steal your data: use a password manager, set up two-factor authentication wherever you can and keep your apps and devices up-to-date.
Tell me about that anti-stalkerware tool you launched this week
Last February, TechCrunch revealed that a network of nearly identical ‘stalkerware’ apps shared the same common security bug, which spills the private phone data of hundreds of thousands of Android device owners worldwide. These rogue apps are planted by someone with access to your phone and designed to stay hidden, but silently steal data from a victim’s phone, such as messages, photos, call logs, location and more Again. Months later, we got a leaked list of every device compromised by these apps. The data did not contain enough information to allow us to identify or inform the victims. We have therefore created this search tool to allow anyone to check if their device has been compromised and how to remove the spyware, if it is safe.
Ugh. OK. So someone grabs your phone, installs one of those sketchy apps while you’re not paying attention, the app tears up your private data so the installer can snoop around… meanwhile, the app leaks a bunch of data to anyone who knows where to look. Does it look like the people behind the stalkerware apps intend to shut down?
No way. The Vietnam-based group of developers behind the stalkerware network have gone to great lengths to keep their identities hidden (but not well enough). The number of compromised devices was growing every day, but without expectation of a fix, we published our investigation to help alert victims to the dangers of this spyware. No member of civil society should be subjected to this type of invasive surveillance without their knowledge or consent.
Other than this tool (which is great!), what’s your favorite article you’ve written or done with TC?
I’ve been here four years? It’s hard ! One that I still often think about is the inside story of how two British security researchers in their early twenties helped save the internet from the fast-spreading malicious WannaCry ransomware in 2017, which spread across the around the world, locking up computers in NHS hospitals, shipping giants and transport hubs, causing billions of dollars in damage. But when one of them found and registered a certain domain name in the malware code, the attack stopped short. They’ve found the malware’s kill switch, making them “accidental” heroes overnight. But the only thing holding back another outbreak of WannaCry was keeping the kill switch domain in their hands alive, despite bad actors’ efforts to force it offline by overwhelming it with internet traffic. “Being responsible for this thing supporting the NHS? Fucking terrifying,” one of the researchers told me at the time.