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Two Jurors On Opposite Sides Share Their Pao Vs. Kleiner Perspectives

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It’s been a very suspenseful day for all of those involved in the Pao vs. KPCB trial (well, maybe not “Sleeping Guy”). We had a verdict, and then suddenly we didn’t, because a juror had changed his mind on the walk up from the jury room to room 608. When the final verdict did come in, again, many were stunned and many, especially those on the KPCB side, were relieved. It’s been a long, winding four weeks.

And then it was over. While most jurors left through the back entrance to avoid the mobs, two jurors actually wanted to talk to the press. Steve Sammut, a 62-year-old Caucasian machinist and juror #1, had sided against Ellen Pao on all four claims. Marshallette Ramsey, a BART manager and juror #2, had sided with Ellen on all four claims.

In an impromptu interview with the press hoards (video above), Sammut explained why the presiding judge, Harold E. Kahn, sent the jury back to re-deliberate at around 2:20 p.m. today, when he realized there was a count of 8-4 against in the courtroom and 9-3 against in the jury room for the fourth claim: “Were Pao’s conversations in December 2011 and/or her January 4th 2012 memo and/or her filing of this lawsuit a substantial motivating reason for Kleiner Perkins’ decision to terminate Pao’s employment in October 2012?”

Sammut explained that a juror had changed his mind on the way back up to the first verdict, and then changed his mind again in the second deliberation. Sammut also insisted there was no pressure put on that juror once it was discovered that he was the one responsible for the two different vote counts.

Sammut held that he made his decision based on “What [he] was seeing in terms of the performance reviews.” “Evidence is evidence,” he said, though he admitted that KPCB’s lead lawyer Lynne Hermle was stronger on the whole than Ellen Pao’s lead lawyer Alan Exelrod.

He described Pao as “intelligent” and “driven,” and when asked why he thought an intelligent and driven woman wouldn’t succeed in VC, he said, “I can’t answer that. I’m not a part of that world, but based on the testimony we heard, it was based on her sales ability, her ability to get along with people, and her personality. A lot of people can be very analytically driven, and it sounds like that’s what she was.”

Marshallette Ramsey, juror #2, an African-American woman who is a BART Manager, also said she made her decision based on the performance reviews, but she was “on the smaller end of those [10-2] numbers.” (Five men and five women had voted against Pao.)

She felt that Pao had both been discriminated against based on gender, and retaliated against after she complained about sexual harassment in 2012.

“The performance reviews were huge,” she articulated. “I felt that there were interpersonal skills or personality traits that were cited in those evaluations on both sides, but depending on how it was worded it could either propel you to promotion or hold you back. It just seemed that the men, with the same character flaws that Ellen was cited with, were able to propel and continue. [And] I definitely felt there was a correlation between the timing of the lawsuit and the subsequent termination.”

Ramsey was the most eloquent of the two jurors, “There is a responsibility that as a juror you take on in your connection to the outcome of the case. We didn’t rush to judgment because we wanted to go home today.”

She said that she would try to take the lessons that she learned in the trial to heart in her own workplace. “Putting everyone on the same accord, and being part of that same accord, acknowledging or recognizing when something is inappropriate … Ellen Pao opened our eyes to all of that today.”

When asked whether she was ever shocked by the sheer amount of money involved in the case, whether it be the Kleiner partner salaries or how much the expert witnesses were being paid, she joked: “Jurors should make more than $15 dollars a day.” And then said, “I don’t think the salaries played into it. People do all different things for all different amounts of money.”

Ramsey said she realized this was a huge case in the media during Ellen Pao’s testimony, when the courtroom became standing-room-only. “Every bathroom break there were cameras at the end of the hallway. Before this I had never heard of it, never seen it. I had no idea why you guys were all here.”

Before this, she had little contact with the tech industry and had no idea what Kleiner Perkins was. When asked by another reporter whether she had friends in the tech industry, she replied, “Not that I know of. Not [any] who have admitted it.”

Ramsey, who found the guy snoring throughout the trial to be the most absurd thing about this case, also said that the jury never considered the broader impact of this trial on the tech community. “There was no discussion about the broader impact. We had to just consider this case.”

But Ramsey, who was in the jury minority with her pro-Pao votes, did have some broader thoughts. “By no means do I [hope Pao’s loss] sends a message to any other women who feel they’ve been wronged to not [speak up] or that it’s not worth it,” she said. “Even with what the 12 of us have gone through, it’s been worth it,” she said, echoing Pao’s statements. “If you feel it’s been done to you, stand up for yourself.”

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/SpupYizqXhY/


Facebook Is Down For Many Users Right Now (Update: It’s Back!)

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Update: Service is now fully restored according to Facebook.

Facebook has been down for at least an hour for some users, according to reports on social media and downrightnow. The outage has affected some but not all users of the platform, with an informal survey of TechCrunch staffers revealing that those outside the U.S. and attempting to connect via the desktop site are most likely to encounter errors, though reports from U.S. users are indicating errors, too.

Facebook is showing an error message on its login page that says the site is down for “required maintenance,” and that it should be back “within a few minutes.” They provide a link to an article that reassures users that despite the inability to access their account, their actual profile and stored information won’t be affected and service will resume shortly.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for an ETA on full service restoration and will update when we hear back. Update: FB provided the following statement:

Some people are currently having trouble signing into Facebook. We’re working to restore access as quickly as possible for those affected, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/pvzkqixW6yM/


SEC Greenlights Equity Crowdfunding, So Anyone Can Invest In Startups

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Editor’s Note: Chris Tyrrell is the chief executive of OfferBoard Group, and Chair of the industry trade association CFIRA.  

Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a new set of rules implementing Title IV of the JOBS Act.

These changes affect Regulation A small public offerings, and are colloquially referred to as “Reg A+”.

The release of these final rules further advances one of the core principles and goals of the 2012 law: to create an environment where emerging enterprises can raise public capital efficiently.

The rules approved by SEC commissioners on Wednesday lift the ceiling on the amount of capital a business can raise in a Regulation A offering from $5 million to $50 million, split into two “Tiers” — up to $20 million in 12 months (Tier 1) and up to $50 million in 12 months (Tier 2).  Companies raising less than $20 million will have a choice between Tier 1 and Tier 2.

These are public offerings, much like a traditional IPO, but the regulatory burden on the company making the offering is lower, both when the shares are being sold and afterwards.

Certain Regulation A+ companies, which meet shareholder limits or revenue and public float caps, will avoid the SEC’s standard reporting regime – Forms 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K and proxy statements, and such companies are also exempt from many onerous “public company” rules, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and more esoteric burdens such as rules relating to disclosure of the use of “conflict minerals”.

Every investor, whether accredited or unaccredited, will be able to participate in these offerings.

This is welcome news to small and medium sized enterprises striving to raise capital, but which lack access to high net worth investors or institutions. Reg A will open many more offerings in growing companies to everyone, which will increase capital formation and grow jobs and the economy.

One of the most controversial and important provisions of the new Reg A rules is federal preemption of state review of these offerings, under state rules known as “Blue Sky” laws.

Previously, each company had to individually register their Reg A offerings in every state where their securities were offered. This administrative burden was in addition to required registration with the SEC, and resulted in very few Reg A offerings ever being made. Now, under Tier 2 of Reg A, only SEC review is required, significantly reducing this administrative burden for businesses.

During the drafting process, the SEC has been concerned with how the new rules will protect investors – particularly unaccredited investors –- while remaining simple and streamlined enough to encourage capital formation.

Some have attributed the delay in JOBS Act rule-making to the difficult task of resolving these potentially countervailing interests.  The final rules struck a balance here, requiring companies to file their Reg A offerings with the SEC several weeks before the first sale.   This gives state regulators time to utilize the filings to identify potential problems.

Reg A offerings are not new — this small offering exemption has been available since the Securities Act of 1933 first became law. But the number of offerings qualified by the SEC dwindled in recent years, from 57 in 1998 to only 1 in 2011.

This week’s changes are intended to blow off the dust that had gathered on this sparsely used capital formation tool, and get it out of the  regulatory muck.  On May 25, the rules will become effective and emerging growth companies around the country will have a new “A+” tool in their capital arsenal.

Below is a table comparing some of the provisions of Tier I and Tier II under Reg A:

Comparison Of Tier I And Tier II Regulations

* The content of any solicitation must fit within the “test-the-water” requirements or be in the form of a Preliminary Offering Circular.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/SOER8cayOpw/


The Live Stream Goes Mainstream

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In early 2011, Skype bought a mobile video startup called Qik, which had developed an app that let mobile users record and stream videos in real-time which others could be alerted to and then view. If that description sounds similar to the newly hot live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope, it’s because the overall concept introduced then is not all that far off from what’s happening today on these new platforms. But what’s different this time around are these apps’ potential to reach the mainstream.

Welcome to the era of the live stream.

When Qik was acquired, the company had grown its user base to 5 million – not a bad showing in the early days of mobile, where still apps catered to a largely more technical crowd and hadn’t yet found their ways in the hands of grandmas and teenagers and everyone in between. As with today’s live-streaming apps, Qik offered a way for users to instantly share their world with others, but like many things that bubble up in this industry, it was a concept that arrived too soon.

Qik faced a number of challenges during its day, not only in growing its user base, but it also had to overcome technical hurdles, as well. For example, Apple even once blocked all apps that were doing live video recording, if you can believe that, because they initially had to take advantage of a restricted screen capture API in order to function. Meanwhile, the mobile networks themselves were unprepared for the massive use of data that the iPhone was delivering, which sometimes led to the degradation of the shared streams.

Technology advances have solved most of the challenges with regard to the roadblocks involved with recording and sharing live video with a touch of a button. We’ve seen the results already, as people raised their phones during events like the Occupy Protests or Arab Spring.

But these new live-streaming services push things forward yet again.

And they won’t only succeed because the tech now works better.

We’re Comfortable Living In Public

More importantly, our cultural mindset has changed to the point where we’re ready to embrace this sort of public performance. Meanwhile, as viewers, the smartphone’s ubiquity means we all have an easy way to tap into these ongoing streams from anywhere.

To the former point, social media has trained us over the years to not be able to see something of interest without feeling motivated to share it.

Whether that’s a beautiful sunset or a raging fire, like the one that ravaged a building in New York on Periscope’s launch day, many people’s first instinct is to whip out their smartphone. It’s not just the Facebook and Instagram “likes,” or the tweets and retweets that have led to this psychological reconditioning, though they’ve certainly contributed to this behavior. It’s that these apps have made us feel less alone in the world – by sharing our lives we feel better connected to others. And some would argue that seeking connection is a cornerstone of the human condition.

One could also argue that the motivation can turn chilling at times – we pull out our phones and record when we should be offering help. We broadcast what we see as bystanders, cameras pointed outward, while entirely self-focused in the process. Live streaming’s move to become a mainstream activity could make that problem worse than it is today, of course, and we as a society should remain vigilant to combat our narcissistic tendencies.

But the potential for these new apps, Periscope and Meerkat and others like them, goes beyond our immediate desire to record and share. We have other means for that, after all, including apps like YouTube, Vine, or Instagram, for example, as well as Twitter itself and Facebook.

The Live Broadcast, Reimagined

With live streaming, there’s also a sense of being able to pick up a phone to instantly fight back against the existing establishments, whether that’s the brutality and militarization of the police, or even just the traditional news outlets who these days turn tragic events into sensationalized stories. Their need to provide 24/7 coverage has turned once trusted news sources into platforms for punditry, talking heads and misinformation.

The younger generation, especially, is poised to embrace alternative means of accessing the news in ways that stretch far beyond simply tuning into the “evening broadcast.” Live streaming is but one example. They’re reading stories in their social feeds – digesting content told in bite-sized format via services like NowThisNews or Snapchat Discover. And the newly announced HBO-VICE deal, which will bring a daily news cast to HBO’s channel (which is also now breaking free of its ties to cable TV), is all about the destruction of the anchor desk.

We’re ready for the new news, and that’s the promise that Periscope, Meerkat and whatever else comes next delivers. News told as first-hand streams: this is what I’m seeing, you can see it too. And with the traditional news journalist removed from the action. It’s the next logical step beyond the tweet, or the tweeted photo. It’s the hundreds of potential cameras live on the scene before the media truck arrives. It’s the citizens’ right to record materialized.

Software Needs Improvement Ahead Of Mainstream Adoption

That said, today’s platforms are far from perfect as it stands now. There’s no good way to find the important streams among those which feature someone recording their lunch – Twitter’s often-cited reputation for banality and self-involvement again rearing its ugly head. The streams on Meerkat offer no replay button. You can’t tweet links to streams. Periscope’s web view only points people to an app download. You can’t search streams by keyword. Streams don’t have their own “trends” section to help you find what’s catching flame. Push notifications are overwhelming and impossible.

In other words, while the live-streaming apps of the earlier era had to fight to make their services work while facing often-hardware based technological challenges, today’s apps have to make their systems work at the software level. They need better user interfaces, expanded but simplified feature sets, and their content needs to be accessible from any platform, both as the live stream it began as, and the recorded video that came after.

These technical and design challenges, however, are all that stand in the way of live streaming being used only by the early adopter, highly mobile crowd, and being a mainstream activity, as commonplace as a status update and just as simple to produce. And these days, change happens quickly.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/V4yG_moih1s/


Tech Titans Blast New Anti-Gay Law In Indiana

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It’s hard to believe, after how far the gay rights movement has come, that we’re still doing this. But here we are.

Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a bill that allows private businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian consumers, according to CNN. The “Restoration of Religious Freedom Act” is meant to allow businesses and corporations to cite “religious beliefs” as a defense, should they be sued by a private party for discrimination.

This of course means that Gov. Pence and the state of Indiana are prioritizing the religious beliefs of a company or corporation (after all, corporations are people!) over the basic human rights of a gay person.

Right on queue, tech industry titans have swooped in to decry the move, led by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Benioff tweeted yesterday that Salesforce would be canceling all programs that require customers or employees to travel to Indiana. Currently, Salesforce employs around 3,000 people in Indiana and holds conferences in the state that see upwards of 8,000 attendees, the removal of which will undoubtedly have an impact on Indiana’s economy.

In an interview with Re/code, Benioff said this:

We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation.

But Benioff was just the beginning.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman voiced his opinion in an open letter posted to the Yelp! blog. In it, he says that “it is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large.”

Serial entrepreneur, PayPal founder and Yelp investor Max Levchin also blasted the bill on social media.

This isn’t the first time that this type of legislation has gone through state governments, nor will it be the last. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill last year, but the same fate has not played out in Indiana, where Governor Mike Pence is said to be considering a presidential bid for the 2016 election. Meanwhile, other states (like Arkansas) are lining up to enact similar laws.

The tech world has long been a proponent of the gay rights movement, from its infancy in San Francisco, where both gay rights and Silicon Valley grew up together. But it’s not only the tech world that is reacting.

Star Trek actor and LGBT activist George Takei tweeted out the #BoycottIndiana hashtag yesterday upon hearing the news.

What’s interesting is that it’s not just the CEOs of technology companies that fight for gay rights, but the technology itself that allows these debates to be had in real-time, across the globe, with millions of participants’ voices being heard.

Update: Tim Cook has weighed in on the matter with this tweet:

Featured Image: NYC Pride

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/5-53ooCWHCc/


Meerkat Strikes Back At Periscope With New Ways To Follow

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With Twitter’s much more polished live-streaming app Periscope now on the market, Meerkat needs to strengthen its own social graph to keep users from straying to its new competitor. So today Meerkat for iOS was updated with recommendations of people to follow, a way to follow people from inside streams, and ways to discover streams your friends like. It’s also trying to neutralize some Periscope talking points like Meerkat being too publicly chatty by letting users opt out of syndicating their comments to Twitter.

Meerkat founder Ben Rubin tells me the features are designed “to overcome the fact that we don’t have access to users’ Twitter social graph. This is just the first step. :)

Periscope and Meerkat have some distinct differences, like Periscope’s optional replays and private streams versus Meerkat’s always-public forced ephemerality. Still, they’re definitely fighting for a similar audience.

Screenshots from Periscope show me live-streaming the Omnibang from F8 on the left, and Vine star Rudy Mancuso getting flooded with hearts and comments while Periscoping with Shots founder John Shahidi on the right,

Periscope is largely thought to be a better product, with design flourishes and extra features. But as we saw with Facebook’s attempt to clone Snapchat with the more full-featured Poke, it’s a lot easier to build functionality than community.

Periscope could have run away with the live-streaming race if it had only launched a month ago. Instead, Meerkat burst on the scene and built an early user base of techies, plus some web stars and legitimate celebrities. It quickly became synonymous with real-time, mobile live streaming.

Yet Periscope was building community, too, just more stealthily. It was in beta testing for months with top Silicon Valley founders and investors before launching yesterday. Thanks to its acquisition by Twitter, it got access to a prestigious network of early adopters.

Periscope also got help from Twitter’s VIP relations team. I’ve heard that the same squad tasked with getting top celebrities to tweet incessantly was also helping get Periscope into the right hands. And the rumor according to one source is that Twitter was actively telling celebrities not to use Meerkat and wait for Periscope to come out over the last few weeks.

Yahoo reports that stars like Sophia Bush, Mark Cuban, Al Roker and iJustine were all on the beta. Already, a ton of social media stars like John Shahidi, Rudy Mancuso, King Bach, and Lele Pons are appearing in Periscopes. Whichever app recruits these new media celebrities with massive followings could in turn sign up their legions of fans.

Here’s a video demo of how Periscope works

Now, Meerkat is scrambling to rebuild itself as an app separate from Twitter. Originally, Meerkat relied entirely on Twitter for its identity, link distribution and communication systems. Then, two weeks ago, Twitter cut off Meerkat’s ability to let users auto-follow everyone they follow on Twitter.

Before, Meerkat could just piggyback on Twitter’s discovery features, but now it needs its own way for people to find who to follow, hence today’s update.

The question is whether Meerkat has built a stable and loyal enough social graph that it can survive competition from a more refined live-streaming app backed by Twitter. Periscope has made remarkable gains in terms of community over the last 36 hours. At this rate, Periscope could run wild while caging Meerkat as just an app for Twitter-haters.

Each day, the momentum behind mobile live streaming as a new creation canvas builds. While plenty called Meerkat a fad when it first launched, the ability to instantly peer through someone else’s eyes seems to have enduring value. The fate of this re-emerging medium could be decided in the coming weeks.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/V1S0hpdr_aE/


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