In this installment of our ongoing series around making the most of your at-home video setup, we’re going to focus on one of the most important, but least well-understood or implemented parts of the equation: Lighting. While it isn’t actually something that requires a lot of training, expertise or even equipment to get right, it’s probably the number-one culprit for subpar video quality on most conference calls — and it can mean the difference between looking like someone who knows what they talk about, and someone who might not inspire too much confidence on seminars, speaking gigs and remote broadcast appearances.

Basics

You can make a very big improvement in your lighting with just a little work, and without spending any money. The secret is all in being aware of your surroundings and optimizing your camera placement relative to any light sources that might be present. Consider not only any ceiling lights or lamps in your room, but also natural light sources like windows.

Ideally, you should position yourself so that the source of brightest light is positioned behind your camera (and above it, if possible). You should also make sure that there aren’t any strong competing light sources behind you that might blow out the image. If you have a large window and it’s daytime, face the window with your back to a wall, for instance. And if you have a movable light or an overhead lamp, either move it so it’s behind and above your computer facing you, or move yourself if possible to achieve the same effect with a fixed-position light fixture, like a ceiling pendant.

Ideally, any bright light source should be positioned behind and slightly above your camera for best results

Even if the light seems aggressively bright to you, it should make for an even, clear image on your webcam. Even though most webcams have auto-balancing software features that attempt to produce the best results regardless of lighting, they can only do so much, and especially lower-end camera hardware, like the webcam built into MacBooks, will benefit greatly from some physical lighting position optimization.

This is an example of what not to do: Having a bright light source behind you will make your face hard to see, and the background blown out

Simple ways to level-up

The best way to step up beyond the basics is to learn some of the fundamentals of good video lighting. Again, this doesn’t necessarily require any purchases — it could be as simple as taking what you already have and using it in creative ways.

Beyond just the above advice about putting your strongest light source behind your camera pointed toward your face, you can get a little more sophisticated by adopting the principles of two- and three-point lighting. You don’t need special lights to make this work — you just need to use what you have available and place them for optimal effect.

A very basic, but effective video lighting setup involves positioning not just one, but two lights pointed toward your face behind, or parallel with your camera. Instead of putting them directly in line with your face; however, for maximum effect you can place them to either side, and angle them in toward you.

A simple representation of how to position lights for a proper two-point video lighting setup

Note that if you can, it’s best to make one of these two lights brighter than the other. This will provide a subtle bit of shadow and depth to the lighting on your face, resulting in a more pleasing and professional look. As mentioned, it doesn’t really matter what kind of light you use, but it’s best to try to make sure that both are the same temperature (for ordinary household bulbs, how “soft,” “bright” or “warm” they are), and if your lights are less powerful, try to position them closer in.

Similar to two-point lighting, but with a third light added positioned somewhere behind you. This extra light is used in broadcast interview lighting setups to provide a slight halo effect on the subject, which further helps separate you from the background, and provides a bit more depth and professional look. Ideally, you’d place this out of frame of your camera (you don’t want a big, bright light shining right into the lens) and off to the side, as indicated in the diagram below.

In a three-point lighting setup, you add a third light behind you to provide a bit more subject separation and pop

If you’re looking to improve the flexibility of this kind of setup, a simple way to do that is by using light sources with Philips Hue bulbs. They can let you tune the temperature and brightness of your lights, together or individually, to get the most out of this kind of arrangement. Modern Hue bulbs might produce some weird flickering effects on your video depending on what framerate you’re using, but if you output your video at 30fps, that should address any problems there.

Go pro

All lights can be used to improve your video lighting setup, but dedicated video lights will provide the best results. If you really plan on doing a bunch of video calls, virtual talks and streaming, you should consider investing in some purpose-built hardware to get even better results.

At the entry level, there are plenty of offerings on Amazon that work well and offer good value, including full lighting kits like this one from Neewer that offers everything you need for a two-point lighting setup in one package. These might seem intimidating if you’re new to lighting, but they’re extremely easy to set up, and really only require that you learn a bit about light temperature (as measured in kelvins) and how that affects the image output on your video capture device.

If you’re willing to invest a bit more money, you can get some better quality lights that include additional features, including Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control. The best all-around video lights for home studio use that I’ve found are Elgato’s Key Lights. These come in two variants, Key Light and Key Light Air, which retail for $199.99 and $129.99, respectively. The Key Light is larger, offers brighter maximum output, and comes with a sturdier, heavy-duty clamp mount for attaching to tables and desks. The Key Light Air is smaller, more portable, puts out less light at max settings and comes with a tabletop stand with a weighted base.

Both versions of the Key Light offer light that you can tune form very warm white (2900K) to bright white (7000K) and connect to your Wi-Fi network for remote control, either from your computer or your mobile device. They easily work together with Elgato’s Stream Deck for hardware controls, too, and have highly adjustable brightness and plenty of mounting options — especially with extra accessories like the Multi-Mount extension kit.

With plenty of standard tripod mounts on each Key Light, high-quality durable construction and connected control features, these lights are the easiest to make work in whatever space you have available. The quality of the light they put out is also excellent, and they’re great for lighting pros and newbies alike as it’s very easy to tune them as needed to produce the effect you want.

Accent your space

Beyond subject lighting, you can look at different kinds of accent lighting to make your overall home studio more visually interesting or appealing. Again, there are a number of options here, but if you’re looking for something that also complements your home furnishings and won’t make your house look too much like a studio set, check out some of the more advanced versions of Hue’s connected lighting system.

The Hue Play light bar is a great accent light, for instance. You can pick up a two-pack, which includes two of the full-color connected RGB lights. You’ll need a Hue hub for these to work, but you can also get a starter pack that includes two lights and the hub if you don’t have one yet. I like these because you can easily hide them behind cushions, chairs or other furniture. They provide awesome uplight effects on light-colored walls, especially if you get rid of other ambient light (beyond your main video lights).

To really amplify the effect, consider pairing these with something one the Philips Hue Signe floor or table lamps. The Signe series is a long LED light mounted to a weighted base that provides strong, even accent light with any color you choose. You can sync these with other Hue lights for a consistent look, or mix and max colors for different dynamic effects.

On video, this helps with subject/background separation, and just looks a lot more polished than a standard background, especially when paired with defocused effects when you’re using better-quality cameras. As a side benefit, these lights can be synced to movie and video playback for when you’re consuming video, instead of producing it, for really cool home theater effects.

If you’re satisfied with your lighting setup but are still looking for other pointers, check out our original guide, as well as our deep dive on microphones for better audio quality.

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In a statement posted to Facebook late Friday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg offered up an explanation of why his company did not contextualize or remove posts from the accounts associated with President Donald Trump that appeared to incite violence against American citizens.

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“We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be.”

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Facebook’s position stands in sharp contrast to recent decisions made by Twitter, with the approval of its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, to screen a tweet from the President on Thursday night using a “public interest notice” that indicated the tweet violated its rules glorifying violence. The public interest notice replaces the substance of what Trump wrote, meaning a user has to actively click through to view the offending tweet.

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Critics excoriated Facebook and its CEO for its decision to take a hands off approach to the dissemination of misinformation and potential incitements to violence published by accounts associated with the President and the White House. Some of the criticism has even come from among the company’s employees.

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u201cI have to say I am finding the contortions we have to go through incredibly hard to stomach,u201d one employee, quoted by The Verge, wrote in a comment on Facebook’s internal message board. u201cAll this points to a very high risk of a violent escalation and civil unrest in November and if we fail the test case here, history will not judge us kindly.u201d

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Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s position saying that it would not take any action on the posts from the President because “we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”

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Facebook’s chief executive also drew a sharp contrast between Facebook’s response to the controversy and that of Twitter, which has provided a fact check for one of the President’s tweets and hidden Thursday’s tweet behind a warning label for violating its policies on violence.

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“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” wrote Zuckerberg.

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Twitter explained its decision in a statement.u00a0u201cThis Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,u201d the company said.

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Twitter Comms

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u2714@TwitterComms

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We have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1266231100780744704u00a0u2026

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Donald J. Trump

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u2714@realDonaldTrump

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Replying to @realDonaldTrump

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….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I wonu2019t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

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u201cWeu2019ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,u201d the Twitter statement continued.

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Perhaps, as Zuckerberg suggests, Facebook will have an opportunity to provide some answers to the questions around what the limits should be around allowing the state discussion of incitements to violence. For now, the company’s response only begs more questions.

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A link to the full post from Zuckerberg follows below:

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This has been an incredibly tough week after a string of tough weeks. The killing of George Floyd showed yet again that…

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, May 29, 2020

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n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

In a statement posted to Facebook late Friday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg offered up an explanation of why his company did not contextualize or remove posts from the accounts associated with President Donald Trump that appeared to incite violence against American citizens. “We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to […]

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Jonathan is an editor at TechCrunch. Previously he worked as a senior reporter for Dow Jones & Co., covering venture capital and private equity investment from New York and Shanghai. He can be reached via email at shieber@techcrunch.com.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1397186400/66d6a050b319ebf66c9f305da0d6bf2b.png”,”twitter”:”jshieber”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/59254947″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:59254947,”name”:”Jonathan Shieber”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/jonathan-shieber/”,”slug”:”jonathan-shieber”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/a81fccb1686f7db1afd1c14a019b5bc1?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/jshieber”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jonathan-shieber/0/baa/b27″,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jonathan-shieber”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Jonathan is an editor at TechCrunch. Previously he worked as a senior reporter for Dow Jones & Co., covering venture capital and private equity investment from New York and Shanghai. He can be reached via email at shieber@techcrunch.com.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1397186400/66d6a050b319ebf66c9f305da0d6bf2b.png”,”twitter”:”jshieber”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/59254947″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“id”:1993588,”date”:”2020-05-26T14:55:35″,”slug”:”president-trump-departs-white-house-for-ford-factory-in-michigan-3″,”type”:”attachment”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/president-trump-departs-white-house-for-ford-factory-in-michigan-3/”,”title”:{“rendered”:”President Trump Departs White House For Ford Factory In Michigan”},”author”:24893112,”license”:{“source_key”:”getty images”,”person”:”Alex Wong”},”authors”:[24893112],”caption”:{“rendered”:”

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 21: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departing on Marine One May 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is scheduled to visit a Ford manufacturing plant that is currently producing ventilators in Michigan. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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The global spread of COVID-19 and resulting orders to shelter in place have hit retailers hard.

n

As the pandemic drags on, temporary halts are becoming permanent closures, whether itu2019s the coffee shop next door, a historic bar or a well-known lifestyle brand.

n

But while the present is largely bleak, preparing for the future has retailers adopting technologies faster than ever. Their resilience and innovation means retail will look and fee different when the world reopens.

n

We gathered four views on the future of retail from the TechCrunch team:

n

    n

  • Natasha Mascarenhas says retailers will need to find new ways to sell aspirational products u2014 and what was once cringe-worthy might now be considered innovative.
  • n

  • Devin Coldewey sees businesses adopting a slew of creative digital services to prepare for the future and empower them without Amazonu2019s platform.
  • n

  • Greg Kumparak thinks the delivery and curbside pickup trends will move from pandemic-essentials to everyday occurrences. He thinks that retailers will need to find new ways to appeal to consumers in a u201cshopping-by-proxyu201d world.
  • n

  • Lucas Matney views a revitalized interest in technology around the checkout process, as retailers look for ways to make the purchasing experience more seamless (and less high-touch).
  • n

n

Alexa, how do I look?

n

Natasha Mascarenhas

n

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

While the present is largely bleak, preparing for the future has retailers adopting technologies faster than ever. Their resilience and innovation means retail will look and fee different when the world reopens.

n”,”protected”:false},”author”:133574362,”featured_media”:1747096,”comment_status”:”open”,”ping_status”:”closed”,”sticky”:false,”template”:””,”format”:”standard”,”meta”:{“outcome”:””,”status”:””,”crunchbase_tag”:0,”amp_status”:””,”relegenceEntities”:[],”relegenceSubjects”:[],”carmot_uuid”:”ef00c584-bef2-3eb4-9e7e-12364508b546″},”categories”:[11160,576737633,576754162,576597428,3457,17396],”tags”:[6602,576624160,576734528,576740177,18014733,32323751,104568352,42653521,13879,80998,576598837],”crunchbase_tag”:[203386092],”tc_stories_tax”:[],”tc_event”:[],”jetpack_featured_media_url”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Inokyo-Autonomous-Retail.png”,”shortlink”:”https://tcrn.ch/2AhUMM3″,”rapidData”:{“pt”:””,”pct”:””},”featured”:true,”subtitle”:””,”fundingRound”:false,”seoTitle”:””,”seoDescription”:””,”premiumContent”:true,”premiumCutoffPercent”:0.14,”tc_cb_mapping”:[{“slug”:”amazon”,”cb_name”:”Amazon”,”cb_slug”:”amazon-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/amazon”},{“slug”:”instacart”,”cb_name”:”Instacart”,”cb_slug”:”instacart-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/instacart”},{“slug”:”devin-coldewey”,”cb_name”:”Devin Coldewey”,”cb_slug”:”devin-coldewey-person”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/person/devin-coldewey”},{“slug”:”caper”,”cb_name”:”Caper”,”cb_slug”:”caper-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/caper”},{“slug”:”instagram”,”cb_name”:”Instagram”,”cb_slug”:”instagram-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/instagram”},{“slug”:”houzz”,”cb_name”:”Houzz”,”cb_slug”:”houzz-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/houzz”},{“slug”:”instacart”,”cb_name”:”Instacart”,”cb_slug”:”instacart-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/instacart”},{“slug”:”standard-cognition”,”cb_name”:”Standard Cognition”,”cb_slug”:”standard-cognition-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/standard-cognition”},{“slug”:”houzz”,”cb_name”:”Houzz”,”cb_slug”:”houzz-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/houzz”},{“slug”:”shopify”,”cb_name”:”Shopify”,”cb_slug”:”shopify-organization”,”cb_link”:”https://crunchbase.com/organization/shopify”}],”associatedEvent”:null,”event”:null,”authors”:[133574362,12084691,5188242,89192944],”hideFeaturedImage”:false,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1995808″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts”}],”about”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/types/post”}],”replies”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?post=1995808″}],”version-history”:[{“count”:12,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1995808/revisions”}],”predecessor-version”:[{“id”:1995885,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1995808/revisions/1995885″}],”authors”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574362″},{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/12084691″},{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/5188242″},{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/89192944″}],”https://techcrunch.com/edit”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1995808&action=edit”}],”author”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574362″}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media/1747096″}],”wp:attachment”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media?parent=1995808″}],”wp:term”:[{“taxonomy”:”category”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/categories?post=1995808″},{“taxonomy”:”post_tag”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags?post=1995808″},{“taxonomy”:”_tc_cb_tag_taxonomy”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/crunchbase_tag?post=1995808″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_stories_tax”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_stories_tax?post=1995808″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_event”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_event?post=1995808″}],”curies”:[{“name”:”wp”,”href”:”https://api.w.org/{rel}”,”templated”:true}]},”_embedded”:{“authors”:[{“id”:133574362,”name”:”Natasha Mascarenhas”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/natasha-mascarenhas/”,”slug”:”natasha-mascarenhas”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/nmasc_”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/natasha-mascarenhas-734f”},”position”:null,”cbDescription”:”

Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

nn

Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/x9fberhwpqwxusvvlxfj”,”twitter”:”nmasc_”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574362″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:12084691,”name”:”Devin Coldewey”,”url”:”https://coldewey.cc”,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/devin-coldewey/”,”slug”:”devin-coldewey”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://techcrunch.com/author/tcdevin”,”twitter”:”http://twitter.com/techcrunch”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/company/techcrunch”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/devin-coldewey”},”position”:”Writer & Photographer”,”cbDescription”:”

Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. He has also written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, The Economist/GE’s Look Ahead, and others.

nn

His personal website is coldewey.cc.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1458774381/r4iwkrm6qsw3n2ximghe.jpg”,”twitter”:”techcrunch”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/12084691″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:5188242,”name”:”Greg Kumparak”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/greg-kumparak/”,”slug”:”greg-kumparak”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.kumparak.com”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/grg”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/greg-kumparak”},”position”:”Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Greg Kumparak is an editor at TechCrunch.

nn

Greg started at TechCrunch in May of 2008. He led TechCrunch’s sister site MobileCrunch as editor until AOL acquired the company in 2010, at which point the editors of TechCrunch’s four main sites (TechCrunch, CrunchGear, MobileCrunch, TechCrunch UK) merged the sites under one domain.

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Best known for his gadget coverage, Kumparak has broken hundreds of stories within the space u2014 unearthing details on everything from abandoned Samsung smartphone prototypes to new Apple devices. He’s also one of the Internet’s most prolific “live bloggers”, having reported from the scene at dozens of international events for live audiences in the hundreds of thousands.

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He was one of the earliest writers to highlight and report on a number of companies that have since become “unicorns” (reaching a valuation of $1B or more), including Zenefits and Twilio.

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Kumparak is a frequent guest on TechCrunch’s Gadget, Apple, and Android podcasts, and often appears on stage as an interviewer or judge at TechCrunch’s meetups and Disrupt conferences.

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In 2012, Greg was featured on the BBC, Wired, Mashable, Engadget and many other outlets for a side project he called the “tARdis”, or the Augmented Reality TARDIS. By combining augmented reality with a handmade physical model, Greg was able to replicate the otherwise physically impossible “bigger on the inside” visual effect that commonly appears on television’s Doctor Who series.

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Lucas Matney is a reporter at TechCrunch and has been covering emerging technologies and startups since 2015. He lives in San Francisco and can be reached via email at lucas@techcrunch.com

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/h5eslbyb5f1hwstm1wrt”,”twitter”:”lucasmtny”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/89192944″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:133574362,”name”:”Natasha Mascarenhas”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/natasha-mascarenhas/”,”slug”:”natasha-mascarenhas”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/nmasc_”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/natasha-mascarenhas-734f”},”position”:null,”cbDescription”:”

Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

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Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

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3,”date”:”2020-05-29T14:14:47″,”date_gmt”:”2020-05-29T21:14:47″,”guid”:{“rendered”:”https://techcrunch.com/?p=1995923″},”modified”:”2020-05-29T14:14:47″,”modified_gmt”:”2020-05-29T21:14:47″,”slug”:”brex-the-credit-card-for-startups-cuts-staff-amid-restructuring”,”status”:”publish”,”type”:”post”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/29/brex-the-credit-card-for-startups-cuts-staff-amid-restructuring/”,”title”:{“rendered”:”Brex, the credit card for startups, cuts staff amid restructuring”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Brex, last valued at $2.6 billion, is restructuring its credit card for startups business and cut 62 staff members, the co-founders Pedro Franceschi and Henrique Dubugras said in a blog post.

n

“Today we’re restructuring the company to better align our priorities with this new reality, while simultaneously accelerating our product vision. With that, I have some very sad news to share. 62 people will be leaving Brex today,” the post reads.

n

The cuts come as Brex’s customer base itself is struggling to stay afloat amid COVID-19: high-growth startups. The trickle-down to Brex’s core business, which depends on its customers spending money, was thus expected.

n

Brex has already cut some customer credit limits to mitigate some of the exposure risk,u00a0The Information reported, and Dubugras confirmed. Customers say the credit limit cuts came without warning or notice.

n

Additionally, the company, launched in Brazil and graduated from Y Combinator, raised $150 million recently.

n

When TechCrunch talked to Dubugras about the latest fundraise, the co-founder said the capital was offensive, rather than defensive.

n

u201cIu2019m glad this round came together, but if it hadnu2019t, we wouldu2019ve been fine,u201d he said last week. u201cThe capital is so we can play offensive while everyone else plays defensive.u201d

n

In the blog post, the co-founders wrote to former staffers.

n

“Please continue dreaming big and donu2019t lose the ambition that attracted you to Brex. Donu2019t let anything, not even a global pandemic, take that away from you. I wish we could give each one of you a hug, so instead Iu2019ll end this message like Iu2019d do it in Portuguese. Abrau00e7os, Pedro and Henrique.”

n

Those laid off will be provided with eight weeks of severance, their computer and equipment, and Brex will dedicate a part of its recruiting team to help find new opportunities for ex-staffers. Additionally, Brex is making adjustments to the equity cliff and has extended healthcare benefits through the end of 2020.

n

Brex has amassed $465 million in venture capital funding to date.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Brex, last valued at $2.6 billion, is restructuring its credit card for startups business and cut 62 staff members, the co-founders Pedro Franceschi and Henrique Dubugras said in a blog post. “Today we’re restructuring the company to better align our priorities with this new reality, while simultaneously accelerating our product vision. With that, I have […]

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Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

nn

Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

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Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

nn

Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

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screens Trump’s Minneapolis threat-tweet for glorifying violence”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

After applying a fact-checking labelu00a0Tuesday to a misleading vote-by-mail tweet made by U.S. President Donald Trump, Twitter is on a roll and has labeled another of the president’s tweets — this time screening his words from casual view with what it calls a “public interest notice” that states the tweet violated its rules about glorifying violence.u00a0

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Here’s how the tweet appears without further interaction (second tweet in the below screengrab):

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The public interest notice replaces the substance of what Trump wrote, meaning a user has to actively click through to view the offending tweet.

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Engagement options are also limited as a result by this label, meaning users can only retweet the offending tweet with a comment; they cannot like it, reply to it or vanilla retweet it.

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Twitter’s notice goes on to explain why it has not removed the offending tweet entirely — and this is where the public interest element of the policy kicks in — with the company writing: “Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”u00a0

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Twitter appears to be shrugging off the president’s decision yesterday to sign an executive order targeting the legal shield that internet companies rely on to protect them from liability for user-created content — doubling down on displeasing Trump, who has accused social media platforms generally of deliberately suppressing conservative views despite plenty of evidence that ad-targeting platform algorithms actually boost outrage-fuelled content and views — which tends, conversely, to amplify conservative viewpoints.

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In the latest clash, Trump had tweeted in reference to violent demonstrations taking place in Minneapolis sparked by the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer — with the president claiming that “THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd” before threatening to send in the “Military.”

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“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Trump added — making a bald threat to use military force against civilians.

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Twitter has wrestled with the issue of how to handle world leaders who break its content rules for years. Most often as a result of Trump, who routinely uses its platform to bully all manner of targets — from rival politicians to hated journalists, disobedient business leaders and even actors who displease him — as well as to dispense direct and sometimes violent threats.

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Since being elected, Trump has also used Twitter’s global platform as a foreign policy weapon, firing military threats at the likes of North Korea and Iran in tweet form.

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Back in 2018, for example, he teased North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with button-pushing nuclear destruction (see below tweet) — before going on to “fall in love” with the dictator when he met him in person.

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Twitter’s go-to defence for not taking offending Trump tweets down in the past has been that, as U.S. president, the substance of what the man tweets — however mad, bad and dangerous — is inherently newsworthy.

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However, more recently, the company has created a policy tool that allows it to intervene — defining terms last summer around “public interest” content on Twitter.

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It warned then (almost a full year ago, in June 2019) that it might place a public interest notice on tweets that would otherwise violate its rules (and therefore merit a takedown) — in order to “to provide additional context and clarity,” rather than removing the offensive tweet.

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Fast forward a year and the tech giant has started applying labels to Trump’s tweets — beginning with a fact-check label earlier this week, related to the forthcoming U.S. election, and following up now with a public interest notice related to Trump glorifying violence.

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So, finally, the tech giant seems to be inching toward drawing a limit-line around Trump in near real time.

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Explaining its decision to badge the U.S. president’s threat to order the military to shoot looters in Minneapolis, the company writes: “This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

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“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter goes on.

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It also links to its policy against tweets that glorify violence — which states unequivocally [in bold]: “You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”

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Back in June, when Twitter announced the “abusive behavior” label, it also warned that tweets that get screened with a public interest notice will not benefit from any algorithmic acceleration, writing: “Weu2019ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability and reducing the potential harm caused by these Tweets.”

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However the newsworthiness of Twitter’s decision to finally apply its own rules vis-a-vis Trump will ensure there’s plenty of non-algorithmic amplification (and no little irony).

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We reached out to the company with questions about its decision to apply a public interest screen on Trump’s latest tweet but at the time of writing it had not responded.

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On Wednesday night, Twitter CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, put out a series of tweets defending its decision to apply a fact-check label to Trump’s earlier misleading tweets about vote-by-mail.

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“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth,’” wrote Dorsey. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”

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Dorsey’s remarks followed pointed comments made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Fox News, seeking to contrast Facebook’s claimed “neutrality” when policing its platform with Twitteru2019s policy of taking a stance on issues such as political advertising (which Twitter does not allow).

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u201cI just believe strongly that Facebook shouldnu2019t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,u201d Zuckerberg told the conservative news station. u201cPrivate companies u2026 especially these platform companies, shouldnu2019t be in the position of doing that.u201d

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It’s notable that Dorsey used Zuckerberg’s exact turn of phrase — u201carbiter of truthu201d — to reject Facebook’s attack on Twitter’s policy as a straw man argument.

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Update I, Trump reacts: In early reaction to Twitter’s move the Trump administration has now quote-retweeted the offending tweet from the official White House Twitter account — reamplifying the president’s violent threat.

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Trump has also reiterated his threat to regulate social media by revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in a new series of tweets this morning — accusing Twitter of ignoring “lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party.”

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Update II, Whack-a-mole: Twitter has now screened the quote-tweeted copy of Trump’s tweet that the administration sent from the White House Twitter account.

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Natasha is a senior reporter for TechCrunch, joining September 2012, based in Europe. She joined TC after a stint reviewing smartphones for CNET UK and, prior to that, more than five years covering business technology for silicon.com (now folded into TechRepublic), where she focused on mobile and wireless, telecoms & networking, and IT skills issues. She has also freelanced for organisations including The Guardian and the BBC. Natasha holds a First Class degree in English from Cambridge University, and an MA in journalism from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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Natasha is a senior reporter for TechCrunch, joining September 2012, based in Europe. She joined TC after a stint reviewing smartphones for CNET UK and, prior to that, more than five years covering business technology for silicon.com (now folded into TechRepublic), where she focused on mobile and wireless, telecoms & networking, and IT skills issues. She has also freelanced for organisations including The Guardian and the BBC. Natasha holds a First Class degree in English from Cambridge University, and an MA in journalism from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 30: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the beginning of a meeting with small business people in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. During the meeting, Trump said he will announce his ‘unbelievably highly respected’ pick to replace the late Supreme Court Antonin Scalia on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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SpaceX had just conducted yet another static fire test of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday when the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. This was the fourth static fire test of this engine on this prototype, so it’s unclear what went wrong versus other static fire attempts.

n

This was a test in the development of Starship, a new spacecraft that SpaceX has been developing in Boca Chica. Eventually, the company hopes to use it to replace its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket, but Starship is still very early in its development phase, whereas those vehicles are flight-proven, multiple times over.

n

SpaceX had just secured FAA approval to fly its Starship prototype for short, suborbital test flights. The goal was to fly this SN4 prototype for short distances following static fire testing, but that clearly won’t be possible now, as the vehicle appears to have been completely destroyed in the explosion following Friday’s test, as you can see below in the stream from NASASpaceflight.com.

n

n

The explosion occurred around 1:49 PM local time in Texas, roughly two minutes after it had completed its engine test fire. We’ve reached out to SpaceX to find out more about the cause of today’s incident, and whether anyone was hurt in the explosion. SpaceX typically takes plenty of safety precautions when running these tests, including ensuring the area is well clear of any personnel or other individuals.

n

This isn’t the first time one of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes has met a catastrophic end; a couple of previous test vehicles succumbed to pressure testing while being put through their paces. This is why space companies test frequently and stress test vehicles during development — to ensure that the final operational vehicles are incredibly safe and reliable when they need to be.

n

SpaceX is already working on additional prototypes, including assembling SN5 nearby in Boca Chica, so it’s likely to resume its testing program quickly once it can clear the test stand and move in the newest prototype. This is a completely separate endeavor from SpaceX’s work on the Commercial Crew program, so that historic first test launch with astronauts on board should proceed either Saturday or Sunday as planned, depending on weather.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

SpaceX had just conducted yet another static fire test of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday when the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. This was the fourth static fire test of this engine on this prototype, so it’s unclear what went wrong versus […]

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Darrell Etherington is a Writer at TechCrunch, focused on science, space and health tech startups. Darrell used to work for Apple and Shopify in their respective PR departments, but he does not currently hold any stock in either company.

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best investment every digital brand can make during the COVID-19 pandemic”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Intuitively, stores that sell online should be making a killing during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, everyone is stuck at home u2014 and understandably more willing to shop online instead of at a traditional retailer to avoid putting themselves and others at medical risk. But the truth is, most smaller online stores have seen better days.

n

The primary challenge is that smaller shops often donu2019t have the logistics networks that companies like Amazon do. Consequently, theyu2019re seeing substantially delayed delivery timelines, especially if they ship internationally. Customers obviously arenu2019t thrilled about that reality. And in many cases, theyu2019re requesting refunds at a staggering rate.

n

I saw this play out firsthand in April. At that point, my stores were down 20% or in some cases even 30% in revenue. Needless to say, my team was freaking out. But thereu2019s one thing we did that helped us increase our revenue over 200% since the pandemic, decrease refund requests and even strengthen our existing customer relationships.

n

We implemented a 24-hour live chat in all of our stores. Hereu2019s why it worked for us and why every digital brand should be doing it too.

n

Avoid the common u2018unreachabilityu2019 frustration

n

When I started my first online store in 2006, challenges that bogged my team down often meant that my teamu2019s first priority became resolving those challenges so that we could serve our customers faster. But admittedly, when these challenges came up, it became more difficult to balance communicating with our customers and resolving the issues that prevented us from fulfilling their orders quickly.

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Customers donu2019t just forget about the companies that treated them well u2014 and post-crisis, theyu2019ll be more likely to return to the vendors who gave them a good experience.

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GettyImages 512136509

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startups can leverage elastic services for cost optimization”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Due to COVID-19, business continuity has been put to the test for many companies in the manufacturing, agriculture, transport, hospitality, energy and retail sectors. Cost reduction is the primary focus of companies in these sectors due to massive losses in revenue caused by this pandemic. The other side of the crisis is, however, significantly different.

n

Companies in industries such as medical, government and financial services, as well as cloud-native tech startups that are providing essential services, have experienced a considerable increase in their operational demands — leading to rising operational costs. Irrespective of the industry your company belongs to, and whether your company is experiencing reduced or increased operations, cost optimization is a reality for all companies to ensure a sustained existence.

n

One of the most reliable measures for cost optimization at this stage is to leverage elastic services designed to grow or shrink according to demand, such as cloud and managed services. A modern product with a cloud-native architecture can auto-scale cloud consumption to mitigate lost operational demand. What may not have been obvious to startup leaders is a strategy often employed by incumbent, mature enterprises — achieving cost optimization by leveraging managed services providers (MSPs). MSPs enable organizations to repurpose full-time staff members from impacted operations to more strategic product lines or initiatives.

n

Why companies need cost optimization in the long run

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

The landscape shifts quickly, but managed services providers enable organizations to repurpose full-time staff members from impacted operations to more strategic product lines or initiatives.

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is giving hardware new life”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Aluminum and iconography are no longer enough for a product to get noticed in the marketplace. Today, great products need to be useful and deliver an almost magical experience, something that becomes an extension of life. Tiny Machine Learning (TinyML) is the latest embedded software technology that moves hardware into that almost magical realm, where machines can automatically learn and grow through use, like a primitive human brain.

n

Until now building machine learning (ML) algorithms for hardware meant complex mathematical modesu00a0based on sample data, known as “training data,u201d in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to do so. And if this sounds complex and expensive to build, it is. On top of that, traditionally ML-related tasks were translated to the cloud, creating latency, consuming scarce power and putting machines at the mercy of connection speeds. Combined, these constraints made computing at the edge slower, more expensive and less predictable.

n

But thanks to recent advances, companies are turning to TinyML as the latest trend in building product intelligence. Arduino, the company best known for open-source hardware is making TinyML available for millions of developers. Together with Edge Impulse, they are turning the ubiquitous Arduino board into a powerful embedded ML platform, like the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense and other 32-bit boards. With this partnership you can run powerful learning models based on artificial neural networks (ANN) reaching and sampling tiny sensors along with low-powered microcontrollers.

n

Over the past year great strides were made in making deep learning models smaller, faster and runnable on embedded hardware through projects like TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers, uTensor and Armu2019s CMSIS-NN. But building a quality dataset, extracting the right features, training and deploying these models is still complicated. TinyML was the missing link between edge hardware and device intelligence now coming to fruition.

n

Tiny devices with not-so-tiny brains

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Today and going forward, billions of tiny devices will act as an extension of our brains, feelings and emotions as a natural extension of everyday life.

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views on the future of retail and the shopping experience”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

The global spread of COVID-19 and resulting orders to shelter in place have hit retailers hard.

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As the pandemic drags on, temporary halts are becoming permanent closures, whether itu2019s the coffee shop next door, a historic bar or a well-known lifestyle brand.

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But while the present is largely bleak, preparing for the future has retailers adopting technologies faster than ever. Their resilience and innovation means retail will look and fee different when the world reopens.

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We gathered four views on the future of retail from the TechCrunch team:

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  • Natasha Mascarenhas says retailers will need to find new ways to sell aspirational products u2014 and what was once cringe-worthy might now be considered innovative.
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  • Devin Coldewey sees businesses adopting a slew of creative digital services to prepare for the future and empower them without Amazonu2019s platform.
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  • Greg Kumparak thinks the delivery and curbside pickup trends will move from pandemic-essentials to everyday occurrences. He thinks that retailers will need to find new ways to appeal to consumers in a u201cshopping-by-proxyu201d world.
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  • Lucas Matney views a revitalized interest in technology around the checkout process, as retailers look for ways to make the purchasing experience more seamless (and less high-touch).
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Alexa, how do I look?

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Natasha Mascarenhas

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“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

While the present is largely bleak, preparing for the future has retailers adopting technologies faster than ever. Their resilience and innovation means retail will look and fee different when the world reopens.

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Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

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Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/x9fberhwpqwxusvvlxfj”,”twitter”:”nmasc_”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/133574362″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:12084691,”name”:”Devin Coldewey”,”url”:”https://coldewey.cc”,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/devin-coldewey/”,”slug”:”devin-coldewey”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/69fae9a8a3933fa91e81c086b8eee14a?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://techcrunch.com/author/tcdevin”,”twitter”:”http://twitter.com/techcrunch”,”linkedin”:”http://www.linkedin.com/company/techcrunch”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/devin-coldewey”},”position”:”Writer & Photographer”,”cbDescription”:”

Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. He has also written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, The Economist/GE’s Look Ahead, and others.

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His personal website is coldewey.cc.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1458774381/r4iwkrm6qsw3n2ximghe.jpg”,”twitter”:”techcrunch”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/12084691″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:5188242,”name”:”Greg Kumparak”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/greg-kumparak/”,”slug”:”greg-kumparak”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/9b107c9f9a43a21d8c93fcdefcc97dcd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.kumparak.com”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/grg”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/greg-kumparak”},”position”:”Editor”,”cbDescription”:”

Greg Kumparak is an editor at TechCrunch.

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Greg started at TechCrunch in May of 2008. He led TechCrunch’s sister site MobileCrunch as editor until AOL acquired the company in 2010, at which point the editors of TechCrunch’s four main sites (TechCrunch, CrunchGear, MobileCrunch, TechCrunch UK) merged the sites under one domain.

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Best known for his gadget coverage, Kumparak has broken hundreds of stories within the space u2014 unearthing details on everything from abandoned Samsung smartphone prototypes to new Apple devices. He’s also one of the Internet’s most prolific “live bloggers”, having reported from the scene at dozens of international events for live audiences in the hundreds of thousands.

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He was one of the earliest writers to highlight and report on a number of companies that have since become “unicorns” (reaching a valuation of $1B or more), including Zenefits and Twilio.

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Kumparak is a frequent guest on TechCrunch’s Gadget, Apple, and Android podcasts, and often appears on stage as an interviewer or judge at TechCrunch’s meetups and Disrupt conferences.

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In 2012, Greg was featured on the BBC, Wired, Mashable, Engadget and many other outlets for a side project he called the “tARdis”, or the Augmented Reality TARDIS. By combining augmented reality with a handmade physical model, Greg was able to replicate the otherwise physically impossible “bigger on the inside” visual effect that commonly appears on television’s Doctor Who series.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1397184689/d45c9b9b954bcc0a697dae821253a36b.png”,”twitter”:”grg”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/5188242″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}},{“id”:89192944,”name”:”Lucas Matney”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/lucas-matney/”,”slug”:”lucas-matney”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ac0471089769c31246f411dc339104f8?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/lucasmtny”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucasmatney/”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/lucas-matney”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Lucas Matney is a reporter at TechCrunch and has been covering emerging technologies and startups since 2015. He lives in San Francisco and can be reached via email at lucas@techcrunch.com

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/h5eslbyb5f1hwstm1wrt”,”twitter”:”lucasmtny”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/89192944″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:133574362,”name”:”Natasha Mascarenhas”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/natasha-mascarenhas/”,”slug”:”natasha-mascarenhas”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2f10add080685bb138750d850afec5b4?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“twitter”:”https://twitter.com/nmasc_”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/natasha-mascarenhas-734f”},”position”:null,”cbDescription”:”

Natasha Mascarenhas is a reporter at TechCrunch covering early stage startups and venture capital trends. She also tracks the different networks that play into founder success, from loneliness to immigration. Before TechCrunch, Natasha reported on the same beat for Crunchbase News. She also has bylines in the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, BostInno, and is proudly from New Jersey.

nn

Reach Natasha via e-mail at natasha.m@techcrunch.com or through DM on Twitter @nmasc_.

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Box CEO Aaron Levie has been working to change the software world for 15 years, but the pandemic has accelerated the move to cloud services much faster than anyone imagined. As he pointed out yesterday in an Extra Crunch Live interview, who would have thought three months ago that businesses like yoga and cooking classes would have moved online u2014 but here we are.

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Levie says we are just beginning to see the range of what’s possible because circumstances are forcing us to move to the cloud much faster than most businesses probably would have without the pandemic acting as a change agent.

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“Overall, what we’re going to see is that anything that can become digital probably will be in a much more accelerated way than we’ve ever seen before,” Levie said.

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Fellow TechCrunch reporter Jon Shieber and I spent an hour chatting with Levie about how digital transformation is accelerating in general, how Box is coping with that internally and externally, his advice for founders in an economic crisis and what life might be like when we return to our offices.

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Our interview was broadcast on YouTube and we have included the embed below.

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Just a note that Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual speaker series for Extra Crunch members. Folks can ask their own questions live during the chat, with past and future guests like Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, GGV’s Hans Tung and Jeff Richards, Eventbrite’s Julia Hartz and many, many more. You can check out the schedule here. If you’d like to submit a question during a live chat, please join Extra Crunch.

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On digital transformation

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The way that we think about digital transformation is that much of the world has a whole bunch of processes and ways of working — ways of communicating and ways of collaborating where if those business processes or that way we worked were able to be done in digital forms or in the cloud, you’d actually be more productive, more secure and you’d be able to serve your customers better. You’d be able to automate more business processes.

n

We think we’re [in] an environment that anything that can be digitized probably will be. Certainly as this pandemic has reinforced, we have way too many manual processes in businesses. We have way too slow ways of working together and collaborating. And we know that we’re going to move more and more of that to digital platforms.

n

In some cases, it’s simple, like moving to being able to do video conferences and being able to collaborate virtually. Some of it will become more advanced. How do I begin to automate things like client onboarding processes or doing research in a life sciences organization or delivering telemedicine digitally, but overall, what we’re going to see is that anything that can become digital probably will be in a much more accelerated way than we’ve ever seen before.

n

How the pandemic is driving change faster

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

Box CEO Aaron Levie has been working to change the software world for 15 years, but the pandemic has accelerated the move to cloud services much faster than anyone imagined. As he pointed out yesterday in an Extra Crunch Live interview, who would have thought three months ago that businesses like yoga and cooking classes […]

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 02: Box Co-Founder/Chairman & CEO Aaron Levie speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 02, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

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In this installment of our ongoing series around making the most of your at-home video setup, we’re going to focus on one of the most important, but least well-understood or implemented parts of the equation: Lighting. While it isn’t actually something that requires a lot of training, expertise or even equipment to get right, it’s probably the number-one culprit for subpar video quality on most conference calls — and it can mean the difference between looking like someone who knows what they talk about, and someone who might not inspire too much confidence on seminars, speaking gigs and remote broadcast appearances.

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Basics

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You can make a very big improvement in your lighting with just a little work, and without spending any money. The secret is all in being aware of your surroundings and optimizing your camera placement relative to any light sources that might be present. Consider not only any ceiling lights or lamps in your room, but also natural light sources like windows.

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Ideally, you should position yourself so that the source of brightest light is positioned behind your camera (and above it, if possible). You should also make sure that there aren’t any strong competing light sources behind you that might blow out the image. If you have a large window and it’s daytime, face the window with your back to a wall, for instance. And if you have a movable light or an overhead lamp, either move it so it’s behind and above your computer facing you, or move yourself if possible to achieve the same effect with a fixed-position light fixture, like a ceiling pendant.

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Ideally, any bright light source should be positioned behind and slightly above your camera for best results

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Even if the light seems aggressively bright to you, it should make for an even, clear image on your webcam. Even though most webcams have auto-balancing software features that attempt to produce the best results regardless of lighting, they can only do so much, and especially lower-end camera hardware, like the webcam built into MacBooks, will benefit greatly from some physical lighting position optimization.

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This is an example of what not to do: Having a bright light source behind you will make your face hard to see, and the background blown out

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Simple ways to level-up

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The best way to step up beyond the basics is to learn some of the fundamentals of good video lighting. Again, this doesn’t necessarily require any purchases — it could be as simple as taking what you already have and using it in creative ways.

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Beyond just the above advice about putting your strongest light source behind your camera pointed toward your face, you can get a little more sophisticated by adopting the principles of two- and three-point lighting. You don’t need special lights to make this work — you just need to use what you have available and place them for optimal effect.

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  • Two-point lighting
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A very basic, but effective video lighting setup involves positioning not just one, but two lights pointed toward your face behind, or parallel with your camera. Instead of putting them directly in line with your face; however, for maximum effect you can place them to either side, and angle them in toward you.

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A simple representation of how to position lights for a proper two-point video lighting setup

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Note that if you can, it’s best to make one of these two lights brighter than the other. This will provide a subtle bit of shadow and depth to the lighting on your face, resulting in a more pleasing and professional look. As mentioned, it doesn’t really matter what kind of light you use, but it’s best to try to make sure that both are the same temperature (for ordinary household bulbs, how “soft,” “bright” or “warm” they are), and if your lights are less powerful, try to position them closer in.

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  • Three-point lighting
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Similar to two-point lighting, but with a third light added positioned somewhere behind you. This extra light is used in broadcast interview lighting setups to provide a slight halo effect on the subject, which further helps separate you from the background, and provides a bit more depth and professional look. Ideally, you’d place this out of frame of your camera (you don’t want a big, bright light shining right into the lens) and off to the side, as indicated in the diagram below.

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In a three-point lighting setup, you add a third light behind you to provide a bit more subject separation and pop

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If you’re looking to improve the flexibility of this kind of setup, a simple way to do that is by using light sources with Philips Hue bulbs. They can let you tune the temperature and brightness of your lights, together or individually, to get the most out of this kind of arrangement. Modern Hue bulbs might produce some weird flickering effects on your video depending on what framerate you’re using, but if you output your video at 30fps, that should address any problems there.

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Go pro

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All lights can be used to improve your video lighting setup, but dedicated video lights will provide the best results. If you really plan on doing a bunch of video calls, virtual talks and streaming, you should consider investing in some purpose-built hardware to get even better results.

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At the entry level, there are plenty of offerings on Amazon that work well and offer good value, including full lighting kits like this one from Neewer that offers everything you need for a two-point lighting setup in one package. These might seem intimidating if you’re new to lighting, but they’re extremely easy to set up, and really only require that you learn a bit about light temperature (as measured in kelvins) and how that affects the image output on your video capture device.

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If you’re willing to invest a bit more money, you can get some better quality lights that include additional features, including Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control. The best all-around video lights for home studio use that I’ve found are Elgato’s Key Lights. These come in two variants, Key Light and Key Light Air, which retail for $199.99 and $129.99, respectively. The Key Light is larger, offers brighter maximum output, and comes with a sturdier, heavy-duty clamp mount for attaching to tables and desks. The Key Light Air is smaller, more portable, puts out less light at max settings and comes with a tabletop stand with a weighted base.

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Both versions of the Key Light offer light that you can tune form very warm white (2900K) to bright white (7000K) and connect to your Wi-Fi network for remote control, either from your computer or your mobile device. They easily work together with Elgato’s Stream Deck for hardware controls, too, and have highly adjustable brightness and plenty of mounting options — especially with extra accessories like the Multi-Mount extension kit.

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With plenty of standard tripod mounts on each Key Light, high-quality durable construction and connected control features, these lights are the easiest to make work in whatever space you have available. The quality of the light they put out is also excellent, and they’re great for lighting pros and newbies alike as it’s very easy to tune them as needed to produce the effect you want.

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Accent your space

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Beyond subject lighting, you can look at different kinds of accent lighting to make your overall home studio more visually interesting or appealing. Again, there are a number of options here, but if you’re looking for something that also complements your home furnishings and won’t make your house look too much like a studio set, check out some of the more advanced versions of Hue’s connected lighting system.

n

n

The Hue Play light bar is a great accent light, for instance. You can pick up a two-pack, which includes two of the full-color connected RGB lights. You’ll need a Hue hub for these to work, but you can also get a starter pack that includes two lights and the hub if you don’t have one yet. I like these because you can easily hide them behind cushions, chairs or other furniture. They provide awesome uplight effects on light-colored walls, especially if you get rid of other ambient light (beyond your main video lights).

n

n

To really amplify the effect, consider pairing these with something one the Philips Hue Signe floor or table lamps. The Signe series is a long LED light mounted to a weighted base that provides strong, even accent light with any color you choose. You can sync these with other Hue lights for a consistent look, or mix and max colors for different dynamic effects.

n

On video, this helps with subject/background separation, and just looks a lot more polished than a standard background, especially when paired with defocused effects when you’re using better-quality cameras. As a side benefit, these lights can be synced to movie and video playback for when you’re consuming video, instead of producing it, for really cool home theater effects.

n

If you’re satisfied with your lighting setup but are still looking for other pointers, check out our original guide, as well as our deep dive on microphones for better audio quality.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

In this installment of our ongoing series around making the most of your at-home video setup, we’re going to focus on one of the most important, but least well-understood or implemented parts of the equation: Lighting. While it isn’t actually something that requires a lot of training, expertise or even equipment to get right, it’s […]

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Source: How to upgrade your at-home videoconference setup: Lighting edition – TechCrunch

By Darrell Etherington

Techylawyer and its authors do not claim to have written this article, we acknowledge the works of the original author

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