Mindstrong Health hires leadership team with all-star tech product experience

Mindstrong Health is tackling one one of the most difficult challenges in healthcare: Severe mental illness, commonly referred to as SMI in the healthcare industry. The startup, founded in 2013 by Paul Dagum, Richard Klausner and Thomas Insel, recently brought on former Uber VP of Product Daniel Graf as CEO, and is now announcing a number of new hires to its senior product leadership team as it moves to turn the technology and research it’s developed over the past six years into an even more compelling and user-friendly product.

As mentioned, Graf was Mindstrong Health‘s first high-profile hire this year, when the former Uber, Twitter and Google product leader joined in October. Graf’s turn as the company’s chief executive is his return to the operational side after spending some time away from building product as an investor. He and Mindstrong have brought in four new c-suite execs to lead the company, including a new CPO, COO and CTO, as well as a new VP of Data Science and new VP of Marketing.

The CPO role is the only one Mindstrong can’t yet disclose, bu the incoming person has been a product leader at large tech companies, Graf told me in an interview. Meanwhile, the company is revealing that Brandon Trew (ex Uber, Google) will join as COO, Erik Albair (ex Google Maps, DeepMind) will join as CTO, Kane Sweeney (ex Uber, StubHub) comes in as VP of Data Science and Dena Olyaie (ex Facebook, Oscar Health) joins as VP of Marketing.

“The inflection point we’re going through now is really building out the whole foundation,” Graf told me. “If you look at our [current] app, it’s not an app, I would us as a consumer and from an experience point of view – it’s a science app. We basically have to build this whole foundation and platform, so for a technology person for a product person for a data scientist, for a marketing person, it’s kind of a dream. When you look at the planning stage, you look at the mission, with amazing investors, we don’t really have to worry about investments, and we can build this now. We can build this amazing platform and that’s why all these folks are joining.”

Mindstrong Health’s primary product is a platform that provides remote care on-demand for patients dealing with SMI. This group in particular faces challenges with current health care options, because they often face long wait times for appointments with qualified medical professionals, but their issues are pressing, hard to predict and often immediate in nature. Traditional care is also very expensive, and Mindstrong’s model has been shown to drive better results for patients, and to lower cost for insurance companies and other payers. Backed by ARCH Venture Partners, General Catalyst, Bezos Expeditions and more, the company has a number of ongoing trials with healthcare providers and patients, and based on the positive outcomes they’ve seen from this work the goal now is to refine and prepare the product for commercial use.

Graf’s new leadership team also shares a lot of experience building products that benefit from optimization based on interpretation of large data sets, and that’s also not a coincidence. Part of Mindstrong’s unique approach has been developing a way to quantify SMI issues in a way that makes it possible to anticipate problems based on signals from how a user is interacting with the app, including typing speed an other cues, as compared to an established personal baseline. It’s a big data problem, but instead of solving something like routing on-demand transportation, it’s tackling the issue of delivering reliable, quality care to individuals who are most in need.

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Google’s Pixels get a ‘feature drop’ with call screen and camera enhancements

Google this morning announced the arrival of its first “feature drop.” The new offering will continue the company’s regular feature enhancements, now arriving every month, like clockwork. This first one brings a whole bunch of upgrades, including a few already noted by some eagle eye views.

The call screen update is probably the biggest of the bunch. This one drops for Pixel 4 users in the U.S. to start, giving users screen unknown callers, filtering our robocalls in the process. When it’s not spam, users will get a notification shortly after featuring a transcript of the message. Google notes that all of that info is kept private to the the user, per the below gif. 

The Photos app gets a handy update, making it possible to add a background faux-bokeh blur to portrait photos, for the those times you forget to turn the feature on while shooting.

The Pixel 4 gets some key Duo improvements, as well, including auto framing, which keeps one or two people centered The feature appears to look similar to the more sophisticated versions found on the Nest Home Max (and Facebook’s Portal before it), zooming in and out to get people in frame.

Duo calls on the Pixel 2-4 also get a bokeh effect to blur out the background during calls, along with Smooth Display, which should offer better playback on spotty connections.

Also of note is the recently announced arrival of the extremely handy Recorder app on older Pixel models, along with the addition of Live Caption for the Pixel 3 and 3a. Users in UK, Canada, Ireland, Singapore and Australia, meanwhile, will be getting the updated version of Google Assistant soon, as well. 

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Guest View: Mainframers versus digital transformation engineers

Contrary to popular belief, the world is not full of start-ups. There’s a reason the world’s top X companies lists exist – these well-established powerhouses have been around for decades.

The issue is that in this competitive, start-up environment, even well-established companies are now required to be as nimble as start-ups, and, if they don’t, they risk going out of business.

It’s time for them to take a hard look at their technology stacks, ensuring their future success by making mainframes relevant as the decades change. They need to adopt Agile and continuous development, while maintaining their existing environments – where the company’s most valuable data is located on a stable, long-operating legacy mainframe system.

RELATED CONTENT: Legacy app modernization is not a slash and burn process

Therefore, these organizations end up with two camps, both charged with meeting the increasing digital requirements of Millennial and Gen Z customers, but with a very different perspective on resources.

The camps are delineated by responsibilities, budget, people, and focus.

Us v. them – The mainframers
Most of the analysts and programmers benefit from having the largest chunk of the budget, about 70 percent, because they run the core enterprise software and need to ensure stability within the legacy systems. They have a certain degree of power because of longevity and because no one understands exactly what they do.

The mainframers fondly remember the time when they were exactly where the digital transformation engineers are now. These mainframe analysts and programmers did amazing things with a technology that was new, constantly changing, and misunderstood. Their applications became a critical part of the corporate DNA – which they are responsible for maintaining to this day. They are used to being the guardians of the “crown jewels,” so they are focused on ensuring the jewels’ safety and longevity. Of course, it has been more than 20 years now.

In the context of this exact role and time frame, others within the organization feel that they are difficult to deal with. The perception is that these “old timers” are very guarded, conservative, and extremely territorial.

Us v. them – The digital transformers
On the other side of the wall are the “innovative” people — architects and developers. The innovation people are all about “new demand,” addressing the new market and new customer needs, all the cutting-edge exciting stuff.

Stuck in the middle
The chief architect (CA) is the human “middleware” between teams, working with the mainframers to help overcome the challenges, finding the best path by which to connect the new technologies with the legacy systems.

Technically, the CA struggles with the limitations of ESB and SOA and handling the stack of middleware. On the personal side, the CA must overcome the resistance from the camps of “Do nothing,” “Change nothing, and “That’s how it’s always been done.”

Creating an atmosphere of cooperation
The goal: staff buy in. The best-case scenario is where the CA creates a solid architectural plan that clearly outlines the challenges faced by each side with specific technologies and action items based on best practices that can overcome the issues.

With a very clearly defined plan, the process of adopting and integrating new technologies into the legacy system will be simpler. This reduces the mystery, context, and complexity of the legacy application – making the integration much more efficient.

It will also assuage fears that the process will lead to job or role elimination. The well-structured plan will simply communicate that the architects are simply taking the fantastic, high performing, secure, bulletproof legacy system and allowing new visitors via the existing doors into the system. New technology platforms, such as microservice-based API integration, makes adoption much easier.

Members of both camps should work hand-in-glove to facilitate cooperation. Complete transparency to strengthen ties and make the “them” into “us,” will get the job done.

The post Guest View: Mainframers versus digital transformation engineers appeared first on SD Times.

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Volocopter awarded key designation by European aviation safety regulator

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft maker Volocotper has received a Design Organization Approval (DOA) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This is basically a recognition by the EU that the processes Volocopter has in place in developing and building its aircraft are of a high enough standard that it can expedite the process of deploying its eVTOLs for commercial use.

That’s a big advantage for Volocopter as it moves forward with its commercialization plans. The German company announced plans this year to produce a cargo version of its vehicle designed for hauling goods, and also revealed it’ll be doing pilot of that vehicle in partnership with John Deere focused on testing its using in agriculture. Meanwhile, it’s also moving ahead with its plans for an ‘air taxi’ version that’s meant to transport people in urban environments.

Volocopter has flown its personal transport with passengers on board in Singapore and Stuttgart so far, in tests designed to help demonstrate its feasibility ahead of a true commercial launch. The company announced a €50 million euro (around $55 million USD) funding round earlier this year, and it hopes to launch its service for the public in around two to three years’ time.

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Apple TV+ picks up first Golden Globe nominations, while Netflix leads across film and TV

Netflix and Apple TV+ have good news to report following this morning’s release of the Golden Globe nominations. Netflix landed on top with 34 nominations across film and TV, while Apple TV+ earned its first nods only weeks after the service’s launch.

Despite lukewarm reviews from critics, Apple TV+ received multiple Golden Globe nominations for its flagship series “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Whitherspoon, and Steve Carell. The show was nominated for best drama series and its two female stars, Aniston and Whitherspoon, were both nominated for lead actress in a drama series.

Apple TV+ launched on November 1 with only a handful of shows, including fan-favorite “Dickinson,” space race drama “For All Mankind,” and dystopian drama “See,” among others. However, “The Morning Show” which deals with the aftermath of a sexual misconduct scandal in the world of morning TV, is easily the best Apple TV+ series thanks to its star power. Even reviewers who dinged the show for its sometimes overwrought dialogue admitted that Jennifer Aniston’s performance has been fantastic. 

Following the launch of Apple TV+, many viewers found themselves at odds with the critics’ take, as they were actually enjoying many of the service’s shows. “The Morning Show” executive producers, Mimi Leder and Kerry Ehrin, later said they believed all the bad reviews were aimed more at Apple than at the shows themselves.

The nominations are Apple’s first for the Golden Globes, though the company had dabbled in TV before the streaming service’s launch with shows like “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps.” But neither of those were award show-worthy, to say the least.

While Apple TV+ was having a breakout moment, Netflix was having an even bigger year.

Netflix this year landed 34 nominations across film and TV, including six for Noah Baumach’s drama “Marriage Story,” five for Martin Scorses’s  “The Irishman,” and four each for its original series “The Crown” and “Unbelievable.” Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method and “The Politician” were also nominated for best TV series, musical or comedy and its film “The Two Popes” was nominated for best motion picture.

“Marriage Story’s” nods included best picture, actor, actress and screenplay, while “The Irishman” snagged nominations for best director, best-supporting actors (Joe Pesci and Al Pacino) and best screenplay.

In total, Netflix led all programmers with 17 Golden Globe TV nominations to HBO’s 15.

HBO’s “Chernobyl,” “Barry,” “Succession” and “Big Little Lies,” also earned nods, as did Amazon’s “Fleabag.”

Netflix and HBO were followed by Hulu (5), Prime Video (5) and Apple TV+ (3). Outside digital, FX scored 4 TV noms, followed by Showtime (3), BBC America (2) and USA Network (1).

On the film side, Netflix landed 17 nominations, more than double the next nearest competitor Sony Pictures Releasing (8). Amazon Studios also scored 3.


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The first trailer for the NEW new Ghostbusters is here

It’s been nearly a year since a teaser trailer revealed a world weary Ecto-1 beneath a tarp in some mysterious barn. Now, a few days after getting its official name, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has its first full trailer.

The forthcoming film is helmed by Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan (who is on board as producer). Afterlife, of course, is not to be confused with the 2016 reboot, Answer the Call, which was met with a lukewarm critical response and was generally consider a box office bomb (and then there’s the whole matter of the extremely angry, extremely online dudes, who were even less kind).

The new film ignores the events of the McCarthy/Wiig/Jones/McKinnon film, instead serving as a continuation of the 1989 sequel to the original. Most of the primary original cast is back, including Bill Murray (whose voice can be heard toward the end), Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts. Harold Ramis passed away in 2014 (though one of the leads does appear to be Egon Spangler’s grand daughter) and Rick Moranis has been mostly retired for a couple of decades.

Possible real life vampire Paul Rudd features heavily in the new trailer alongside a ghost trap. He plays a teacher of a group of students who bring some serious Stranger Things energy (including, fittingly, cast member Finn Wolfhard), thus completing the pop culture ouroboros. The nostalgia is going to be thick with this one. 

The third film has had a fairly rocky path to existence in the 30 years since its predecessor, but it’s scheduled to finally arrive in theaters July 10.

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Video of Cybertruck driving on California highway reveals more questions

Video of Cybertruck driving on California highway reveals more questions

A video just surfaced showing the Tesla Cybertruck driving around LA. Elon Musk is purportedly driving, but it’s not confirmed that he was behind the wheel while this video was filmed. However the video reveals several things.

One, there’s no mirrors yet.

According to US regulations, passenger vehicles need to have a mirror inside and one on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The Cybertruck in this video does not have a driver’s side mirror.

When Musk unveiled the Cybertruck, he stated that the vehicle used a video camera for the rear-view camera, which is something other automakers are trying as well. Cadillac has done this for years. It works.

The lack mirror on the driver’s side is a bigger question. The vehicle used in the unveiling was missing exterior mirrors and the one in this video also lacks them too. It’s possible it uses a camera for the side mirrors though it’s yet to be announced. Other automakers including Audi have turned to cameras for European-spec’d vehicles as US-based vehicles must have a physical mirror.

Two, there’s a lot of body roll.

The video shows the driver taking a wide turn onto the street. In doing so, the Cybertruck appears to experience a large amount of body roll. A surprising amount, too.

The Cybertruck, like every other Tesla vehicle, has a bank of batteries on the bottom. Supposedly. If that’s the case, the bulk of the weight should be at the bottom, dropping the center of gravity and giving the vehicle a stable driving experience. In the Model X, this results in amazing protection from rolling over when impacted on the side.

The Cybertruck experienced a large amount of body roll with a wider wheel base than what’s allowed. During the unveiling, it was clear the Cybertruck’s tires were wider than the fenders. This is also not allowed by US standards as tires must be covered by fenders. I assumed Tesla would correct this in the final version and did this for stage presence and to improve stability in testing. The latest video shows a Cybertruck with tires also sticking out from the fenders. It’s not clear how far the tires protrude but so much so that the driver hits a traffic cone when turning into traffic. If the Cybertruck’s stance is narrowed, will the body roll be worse?

Also, the driver runs a red light because clearly the Cybertruck is living in a post-traffic light world.

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Instacart shoppers plan a series of actions in protest of company’s wage practices

Instacart shoppers are continuing to hold the grocery startup accountable with their latest set of actions. Kicking off next Monday, Instacart shoppers plan to take one action per day, for six days in protest of Instacart.

“We’re still just trying to get this one tiny thing: double the default tip percentage,” Instacart shopper and protest organizer Sarah (pseudonym) told TechCrunch. “We’ve tried endlessly to get them to raise the base guarantee pay. But we feel like, fine, at least give us the higher default tip.”

Instacart currently suggests a default tip of 5% but workers want Instacart to increase it to 10%. Next week, Instacart shoppers plan to take a number of actions. including filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor as well as filing a wage claim.

Sarah, who has been an Instacart shopper for four years in California, says shoppers have become furious because it’s clear Instacart does not respect them.

“We’re trying to continuously show them that we do have power,” Sarah said. “I believe this protest of seven days is going to be the most powerful thing we’ve ever done because it has the ability to really fuck them up.”

The full schedule is as follows:

  • December 16: File complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, asking the department to audit Instacart’s previous practice of misappropriating tips
  • December 17: Contact federal legislators and ask them to hold Instacart accountable to minimum wage laws and more
  • December 18: File a wage claim regarding Instacart’s classification of shoppers as 1099 independent contractors
  • December 19: Hand-deliver binders, filled with a letter and personal notes from workers, to CEOs of six partner stores. Workers want partner stores to help ensure minimum standards and earnings.
  • December 20: Contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding how Instacart shoppers sometimes have to fulfill heavy orders, which can lead to injuries on the job.
  • December 21: Contact state legislators

This comes after Instacart shoppers organized a nationwide protest where they went on strike for 72 hours in demand of a better tip and fee structure. Following that protest, Instacart got rid of the $3 quality bonus.

“When we did the walk-off, that required people to take off several days from work,” Sarah said. “We don’t want people to miss out on money so we’re doing something that will take less time.”

So far, more than 300 workers have signed up to participate in the seven days of action. This upcoming action follows years’ worth of protesting. Back in 2016, Instacart removed the option to tip in favor of guaranteeing its workers higher delivery commissions. About a month later, following pressure from its workers, the company reintroduced tipping. Then, in April 2018, Instacart began suggesting a 5% default tip and reduced its service fee from a 10% waivable fee to a 5% fixed fee.

Instacart has previously said it’s committed to providing its shoppers with an earnings structure that offers upfront pay and guaranteed minimums.

“We respect the voices of all shoppers and take the feedback of our community very seriously,” an Instacart spokesperson previously said in a statement. “We will continue to listen and engage with shoppers to improve their experience.”

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Late registration savings to Disrupt Berlin ends tomorrow

Just two more days to go until Disrupt Berlin opens its doors to thousands of the top international early-stage startup founders, investors, movers and shakers. And we have good news for all you last-minute decision makers.

You can attend Disrupt — and still save money — by taking advantage of our late registration pricing. Depending on which pass you buy, you can keep up to €200 in your wallet. But don’t put off this decision any longer. The late registration ends tomorrow, 10 December at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Buy your Disrupt Berlin pass now and save.

Attending Disrupt Berlin is a terrific investment of money, time and energy. Connect with like-minded startuppers, learn about the newest tech trends and come away revitalized and inspired to take your slice of the startup world to the next level.

We’ve packed the Disrupt Berlin agenda with presentations, workshops and Q&As featuring conversations with the top players in the startup world. Here’s just a taste of what’s to come.

Investing in 2020: Nothing changes quite as rapidly as investment trends. Carolina Brochado (Softbank Investment Advisors) will offer perspective from her experience both on the ground in Europe and from 50,000 feet to talk about what 2020 has in store for startups.

The Top Three Immigration Mistakes Startups Make: Learn how to troubleshoot the many snags that can affect startups trying to bring international talent into their organizations, with top Silicon Valley immigration expert Sophie Alcorn.

Mobilizing Emerging Markets: As the mobility industry evolves rapidly, a huge opportunity lies in emerging markets. Sujay Tyle, serial entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Frontier Car Group, is looking to capitalize on that opportunity with its investments in used-car marketplaces.

Don’t miss Startup Battlefield — our epic pitch competition returns with an outstanding cadre of early-stage startup founders from around the world. They’ll deliver a high-speed pitch to expert judges and compete for the Battlefield Cup, investor and media exposure and a $50,000 cash infusion.

Kick your networking into high gear and use CrunchMatch to navigate the hundreds of early-stage startups exhibiting in Startup Alley — including the TC Top Picks. Our business-matching platform helps you find the people and startups most aligned with your business goals. You spend less time looking and more time connecting with the right people.

This year, we’re holding the TC Hackathon finals on the Extra Crunch stage. Come on over and see the products 10 dedicated teams designed and built in 24 hours. Whether you’re looking for skilled coders or just appreciate the artistry, don’t miss this event.

The countdown is on, people. Disrupt Berlin 2019 starts in just two days, and late registration pricing ends tomorrow, 10 December at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). If you want in on the action — and save up to €200 — go buy your pass before the deadline hits.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Can a games platform tackle kids’ anxiety about having to do math?

You know that feeling when you look at your bank statements and try to figure out what on earth is going on? Or when you do your taxes? It turns out this isn’t just an insignificant feeling, but a scientifically recognized anxiety. Mathematics Anxiety (MA) is defined in research literature as feelings of concern, tension or nervousness experienced in combination with math in ordinary life and in academic situations.

And it is, in fact, a widespread worldwide problem which can cause damaging effects throughout life. If your population is too scared to add up and subtract, your economy will suffer. Badly. Some 17 million adults in the UK (49% of the working-age) have a numeracy level expected from primary school children. This results in a £20 billion loss to the UK economy a year, according to one study. If that’s just the UK, imagine what the figures must be for other countries?

If people weren’t so anxious about doing math, then we’d probably also have more tech workers. More than three quarters (77%) of children with high math anxiety are – when tested – between normal to high achievers on curriculum math tests. So this anxiety prevents students from entering STEM fields when in fact they would be perfectly able to perform well in these fields.

The problem is down to the amygdala, the same part of the brain that responds to fearful situations. It shows a heightened response in children with high math anxiety (as if it’s a physical danger) and triggers a fight-or-flight response.

The origins of Math Anxiety are rooted in the prevalence of accumulated negative math learning experiences by the age around six years old. So if you could get kids comfortable with Math by age 6, then you’d boost the economy and society.

Now, to address this problem, two young math-savvy mums have co-founded a startup, Funexpected, to tackle this worldwide problem.

Their solution is a ‘multisensory’ iOS app offering a new approach to learning which has achieved significant early success. Inside the first month of its launch, Apple featured the app among its “Best of September” and “New Apps We Love” in the UK and ‘Best Apps for Kids,’ ‘Awesome Kids Apps’ categories in App Stores of more than 60 countries.

By late October this year, the startup has been selected as an edtech innovator for the EDUCATE programme led by the UCL Institute of Education,  considered by many to be the leading UK research accelerator into EdTEch. And as of last week, Apple Stores will feature the Funexpected app on the stores’ native devices among Prisma, Alterlight, Headspace and other big names.

Furthermore, next year, Dor Abrahamson, professor of cognition and development at the UC Berkeley School of Education, plans to create a game for the app.

The bootstrapped startup, founded by Natalia Pereldik (after she left Investment Banking) together with friend Alexandra Kazilo, has now seen its app downloaded more than 35,000 times in over 50 countries in four weeks after the launch.

So what does it do?

The app itself is a collection of 11 games located across the landscapes of Japan, Egypt and Greenland. Children tap, cut, slide, grab, move animated on-screen objects to propel the story forward, such as by feeding a monkey with the correct amount of juicy berries gathered from various branches or learning logic by catching the right type of fish with a net and filling a fish pond. Parents can use it with their kids as well. The app runs a subscription-based model of £3.99 a month ($5.25) or £31.99 a year ($42.10)

It’s tackling a big market. The global mobile learning market was valued at $10.93 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $179.21 billion by 2025.

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