Is this what an early-stage slowdown looks like?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Today we’re exploring some fascinating data from Silicon Valley Bank markets report for Q1 2020. We’re digging into two charts that deal with the early-stage funding market, and after we unpack what the local Iron Bank of Braavos has to share, we’ll bring in some other data and see if we can back up our conclusions.

To avoid keeping you waiting, it appears that global early-stage deal counts could be slipping. But is this is a real early-stage slowdown?

For founders hoping to get their company out of their minds and into the world, it’s a key question. Without ample early-stage funding, the startup and venture pipeline begins to constrict, eventually limiting late-stage activity after crimping its early-stage sibling.

So let’s dig in and parse out what we can. To the charts!

A global slowdown

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Tangerine’s pretty self-care app combines habit and mood tracking

Millennials’ interest in self-care has helped to fuel an entirely new market for mobile apps focused on health and wellness. Last year alone, the top 10 meditation apps pulled in $195 million — a 52% increase from 2018, for example. A newcomer to the self-care app market is Tangerine, an app that focuses on habit and mood tracking with the goal of offering users a way to better organize their routines and achieve personal goals.

According to Tangerine’s creator Pedro Marques, he and fellow co-founder Raphael Cruzeiro built the app in their free time over the past seven months or so.

“We realized that people, in general, tend to feel better and happier when they actually have a healthier, organized routine. So building an app that would combine habit and mood tracking seemed like something that could work out,” explains Marques, of how they got started. “At the end of the day, we not only want to help people be more productive, but also more conscious, grateful and reflective of their life.”

Mood tracking apps are already commonplace across today’s App Store, thanks to the self-care app boom. However, many apps focus mainly only on allowing users to record their moods, often with a simple emoji. The app would then derive certain insights from the user’s emotional state history over time. Tangerine, on the other hand, aims to better connect how someone’s daily routine impacts how they’ve been feeling.

Your goal may be to exercise more, eat healthier, or meditate daily, perhaps. Or you may want to learn something new — like a new language or how to code. Or perhaps your aim is to improve your relationships with family, friends and loved ones. But making a commitment to change your behavior or to fit new activities into your day’s routine can be difficult. While alerts and reminders can help you to remember you’re supposed to do a certain activity, they don’t help to motivate you to do so.

Tangerine aims to be the extra push of encouragement you need and gives you the ability to reflect on your day, which the team believes is in itself a powerful motivator. The end result is an app that combines habit tracking, journaling, and mood tracking to offer an improved set of insights over mood tracking alone.

For example, Tangerine may be able to tell you things like “When your days were awesome, you completed X habits per day on average.” You can also see your completion rate broken down over time, your current streak, longest streak, a mood graph, and more.

Soon, the app plans to add integration with the iOS Health app so you’ll be able to tie these insights with other health data — like your exercise schedule or sleep cycle. That way you’ll see if completing your habits helped you sleep better, or you had a better work week when you made time to exercise, among other things.

But what makes Tangerine stand out isn’t just its feature set alone. The app’s design is compelling, as well. It’s simple, but polished in a way that you don’t always see from a scrappy side project built by a team of two.

Tangerine launched in mid-January and under a month has seen around 15,000 downloads and 2,000 daily active users. The app is currently bootstrapped and monetizes through subscriptions for premium features ($4.99/mo or $29.99/year). Because the app is still new, most subscribers are still on free trials for now. Over time, Tangerine aims to expand the premium feature set to make subscription conversions more compelling.

The self-care app market today is led by meditation apps, like Calm and Headspace, but many other top apps also offer mood tracking, mindfulness, journaling, and other self-care activities. For example, the No. 10 most-downloaded self-care app of 2019, Sanity & Self, offers audio programs, reminders, and journaling, and No. 8 app Aura includes a mood tracker, life coaching service, and community features.

As the market continues to grow, there’s room for more variety than just apps focused on meditation alone.

Tangerine is available today for iOS, but an Android version is planned for later this year.



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Amazon wants to depose president and Secretary of Defense as part of JEDI protest

Today, AWS made public its Motion to Supplement the Record in its protest of the JEDI contract decision. As part of that process, the company has announced it wants to depose President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

When Amazon announced at the end of last year, that it was protesting the DoD’s decision to award the $10 billion, decade long JEDI contract to Microsoft, the company made clear that it was not happy with the decision. The company believes that the president steered the contract away from Amazon because of personal political differences with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions – including federal procurements – to advance his personal agenda. The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of President Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.’ The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement.

This is consistent with public statements the company has been making since the DoD made the surprise decision in October to go with Microsoft. It had been widely believed that Amazon would win the contract, and there was much wrangling and complaining throughout the procurement process that the contract had been designed to favor Amazon, something that the DoD repeatedly denied.

At AWS re:Invent at the end last year, AWS CEO Andy Jassy made it clear he was unhappy with the decision and that he believed the president showed bias. “I think that we ended up with a situation where there was political interference. When you have a sitting president, who has shared openly his disdain for a company, and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal,” Jassy said last year.

Sources say that the DoD gave Amazon a written debriefing after the decision to award the contract to Microsoft, but the company is particularly upset that the department has failed to respond in a timely fashion to requests for additional information and questions, as required by law.

Despite JEDI loss, AWS retains dominant market position

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Students: Score $50 tickets to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020

Are you a student enthralled by robots and the AI that powers them? Do you live within striking distance of UC Berkeley? Ready to learn from the greatest minds and makers in the field? Then we want you at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 on March 3 at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

We’re investing in the next generation of makers by making our day-long conference super-affordable. Buy your $50 student pass right here.

If you’re not familiar with our Robotics/AI session, listen up. It’s a full day of interviews, panel discussions, Q&As, workshops and demos. And it’s all dedicated to these two world-changing technologies. Last year, we hosted 1,500 attendees. We’re talking the industries’ top leaders, founders, investors, technologists, executives and engineering students.

As a student, you’ll rub elbows with the greats. You’ll have ample time to learn and network. Who knows? You might impress the pants off the right person and land an internship, a prime job — or find the co-founder of your dreams.

If networking feels like a chore, never fear. CrunchMatch, our free business matching platform, removes the pain and adds efficiency. Win-win!

You’ll hear from our great slate of speakers, including VCs Eric Migicovsky (Y Combinator), Kelly Chen (DCVC) and Dror Berman (Innovation Endeavors). You’ll also hear from plenty of founders, including experts focused on agricultural, construction and human assistive robotics. And that’s just for starters.

Here are a few more examples of presentations you’ll find in our program agenda:

  • Fostering the Next Generation of Robotics Startups: Robotics and AI are the future of many or most industries, but the barrier of entry is still difficult to surmount for many startups. Joshua Wilson (co-founder & CEO, Freedom Robotics) and Scott Phoenix (co-founder & CEO, Vicarious) will discuss the challenges of serving robotics startups and companies that require robotics labor, from bootstrapped startups to large-scale enterprises.
  • Live Demo from the Stanford Robotics Club: It just wouldn’t be a robotics conference without the opportunity to see robots in action. We’ve got you covered.
  • Pitch Night Pitch-off Finalists: Early-stage companies, hand-picked by TechCrunch editors, will take the stage and have five minutes to present their wares.
  • Saving Humanity from AI: UC Berkeley’s Stuart Russell argues in his acclaimed new book, “Human Compatible,” that AI will doom humanity unless technologists fundamentally reform how they build AI algorithms.

TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 takes place on March 3. We’re making the event affordable for students, because there’s no future tech without them. Invest $50 in your tomorrow — buy your student ticket today, and join us in Berkeley!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Max Q: A SpaceX spin-out sounds great

Max Q is a new weekly newsletter all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox.

Two rocket launches were set to take off Sunday, including one from Wallops Island in Virginia and another from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The first is a relatively standard (but still exciting – we are talking about rockets here, very little is ‘standard’) ISS resupply mission, and the second is a major scientific mission from NASA and the ESA called the ‘Solar Orbiter.’

Unfortunately, a technical issue meant the ISS resupply mission is rescheduled for Thursday – but the Solar Orbiter launched as planned, with as clean a delivery by the ULA Atlas V rocket that launched it as you can ask for.

Boeing Starliner encountered two potentially catastrophic issues

Starliner, the crew spacecraft developed by Boeing for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, encountered not one, but two major software flaws during its most recent demonstration mission that would’ve been very bad had they not been corrected.

The second one was only revealed in detail this week, and was discovered and patched only because the first software issue caused the ground team on the mission to go back over all the software relating to the capsule’s re-entry and check for potential errors. Otherwise, the mission team says it would not have been caught. No word yet on what this means definitively for Boeing’s crew program, but we’ll find out at the end of this month according to NASA officials.

Trump administration asks for $3B NASA budget boost

NASA could get significantly more funding than it did in 2020 for its fiscal 2021 operating year, with the bulk of a proposed $3 billion increase earmarked for development of human landers to be used in the Artemis program. Trump will still have to make that official during his budget presentation on February 10 (that’s today), but it looks like a strong endorsement of the agency’s plans by the current administration.

NASA seeks industry input on rovers

NASA may be looking to lock its Lander plans this coming year, but it’s also asking industry to provide concepts and input on lunar rovers, including robotic designs and ideas for human-carrying Moon buggies. This will likely lead to some kind of formal RFP for commercial rover partners down the road.

OneWeb launches 34 more satellites for its constellation

Meanwhile, Starlink competitor OneWeb launched its second batch of satellites, a group of 34 spacecraft. The company says this is just the beginning of its plans that include launching a group of at least 30 satellites per month until its constellation reaches its goal of 650, though it did also note that its going to pause the campaign in April to incorporate a satellite redesign.

SpaceX launches online rocket rideshare booking tool

SpaceX has launched a new online booking portal for its rideshare rocket service, which actually lets anyone with a credit card book a rocket launch starting at $1 million with a $5,000 downpayment. Don’t do this unless you actually plan to launch something and have your ducks in a row, however – unless you really want to just donate $5,000 to SpaceX .

Inside Astra’s unique new launch offering

Astra is a new launch startup that’s been developing its rocket for at least three years, but that only recently broke cover. I spoke to CEO and founder Chris Kemp about the company’s business model – and found out it’s not like anything else currently in the market, by design. ExtraCrunch subscription required.

Register for TC Sessions: Space 2020

Our very own dedicated space event is coming up on June 25 in Los Angeles, and you can get your tickets now. It’s sure to be a packed day of quality programming from the companies mentioned above and more, so go ahead and sign up while Early Bird pricing applies.

Plus, if you have a space startup of your own, you can apply now to participate in our pre-event pitch-off, happening June 24.

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