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Bevy acquires community-focused networking company CMX – TechCrunch

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Bevy acquires community-focused networking company CMX – TechCrunch

Bevy announced today that it has acquired CMX, which it describes as “the world’s largest community for community professionals.”

In other words, CMX is trying to connect and support the people whose job is to build communities around their companies. To do that, it organizes the CMX Summit and also offers membership to a private network called CMX Pro.

Bevy, meanwhile, has built software for companies to manage community events. In fact, the company was created by the organizers of Startup Grind, who said they initially built Bevy because of the challenge involved in managing all the different Startup Grind events.

The company now says it works with customers including Slack, Atlassian, Asana, Gainsight and Duolingo — in fact, Duolingo uses it to host 1,000 monthly events.

In an email, Bevy CEO Derek Andersen told me, “I’ve been a  CMX community speaker, sponsor, and member for many years, and there is no better way to get educated and networked in the community industry than CMX.”

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. CMX’s co-founder and CEO David Spinks will continue to lead CMX initiatives within Bevy, and he will become the company’s vice president of community.

“People are in desperate need of meaningful community,” Spinks said in the acquisition announcement. “They’re craving more depth, and that often comes through in-person, real world connection. Derek and the Bevy team have built a great platform to help teams scale their IRL community programs. We’re thrilled to join forces and work toward a more meaningfully connected world.”

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Amazon aims to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030 – TechCrunch

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Amazon aims to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030 – TechCrunch

Perhaps hoping to distract from Greenpeace’s latest report on its “dirty cloud,” Amazon this morning announced a new environmental commitment, focused on reducing its carbon footprint. The company says it aims to reach 50 percent of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon by 2030.

The company is calling this program “Shipment Zero.” Details on this long-term project weren’t yet available, but Amazon says it plans to share its company-wide carbon footprint “along with related goals and programs,” at a later date. That seems to indicate Amazon will offer an update on the progress of its other sustainability goals, as well.

It’s important for Amazon to be transparent on these plans, as the size of its business means its impact to the environment, energy consumption and, ultimately climate change, is significant.

The company today runs programs including Frustration-Free Packaging and Ship in Own Container, and has a network of solar and wind farms, solar on its fulfillment center rooftops and investments in the circular economy the company noted in the announcement. It said it employs more than 200 scientists, engineers and product designers who are dedicated to developing new ways to leverage Amazon’s scale for the “good of the customers and the planet.”

For example, Amazon has been able to pressure suppliers to reduce their environmental impact with the frustration-free packaging and ship in own container programs.

But Amazon doesn’t have the cleanest environmental record, according to Greenpeace.

The organization dinged the internet giant only days ago for failing to deliver on its commitment to shifting to renewable energy. Its new report said Amazon’s data centers in Virginia are powered by only 12 percent renewable energy, compared with Facebook’s 37 percent and Microsoft’s 34 percent.

In-between the lines of this morning’s news, Amazon briefly addressed the Greenpeace report.

“Amazon has a long-term goal to power our global infrastructure using 100 percent renewable energy, and we are making solid progress,” its corporate blog post read.

Amazon did, however, offer a longer statement to Windpower Engineering shortly after the report’s publication, claiming Greenpeace’s data was inaccurate. In particular, it pointed out that the report had failed to highlight AWS and Amazon’s investment in solar projects in Virginia.

Amazon says it will offer more details on Shipment Zero and its other programs later this year.

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Netflix cancels ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘The Punisher,’ its last Marvel shows – TechCrunch

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Netflix cancels ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘The Punisher,’ its last Marvel shows – TechCrunch

Netflix is no longer in the Marvel superhero business, with the cancellation of “Jessica Jones” and “The Punisher.”

The writing has been on the wall since last fall, when the streaming service canceled its other three Marvel shows — “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage” and “Daredevil.” Plus, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg was already announced to leave “Jessica Jones” after the upcoming third season.

There have been conflicting reports about which company ultimately decided to pull the plug, but this does seem to be part of a broader corporate rift, with Disney ending its overall deal with Netflix and producing Marvel shows for its yet-to-launch streaming service.

Disney has also announced a slate of animated Marvel series on Hulu (where Disney will become the majority owner, post-Fox acquisition), following a similar structure to the Netflix shows — four separate series followed by a big crossover.

Netflix, meanwhile, just released the first season of “The Umbrella Academy,” an offbeat superhero series based on the comics by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá.

In a statement, Netflix said:

Marvel’s The Punisher will not return for a third season on Netflix. Showrunner Steve Lightfoot, the terrific crew, and exceptional cast including star Jon Bernthal, delivered an acclaimed and compelling series for fans, and we are proud to showcase their work on Netflix for years to come.

In addition, in reviewing our Marvel programming, we have decided that the upcoming third season will also be the final season for Marvel’s Jessica Jones . We are grateful to showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, star Krysten Ritter and the entire cast and crew, for three incredible seasons of this groundbreaking series, which was recognized by the Peabody Awards among many others. We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning.

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Google Assistant Actions up 2.5x in 2018 to reach 4,253 in the US – TechCrunch

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Google Assistant Actions up 2.5x in 2018 to reach 4,253 in the US – TechCrunch

In addition to competing for smart speaker market share, Google and Amazon are also competing for developer mindshare in the voice app ecosystem. On this front, Amazon has soared ahead — the number of available voice skills for Alexa devices has grown to top 80,000 the company recently announced. According to a new third-party analysis from Voicebot, Google is trailing that by a wide margin with its own voice apps, called Google Assistant Actions, which total 4,253 in the U.S. as of January 2019.

For comparison, 56,750 of Amazon Alexa’s total 80,000 skills are offered in the U.S.

The report notes that the number of Google Assistant Actions have grown 2.5 times over the past year — which is slightly faster growth than seen on Amazon Alexa, whose skill count grew 2.2 times during the same period. But the total is a much smaller number, so growth percentages may not be as relevant here.

In January 2018, there were 1,719 total Google Assistant Actions in the U.S., the report said. In 2017, the number was in the low hundreds in the beginning of the year, and reached 724 by October 2017.

Voicebot also examined which categories of voice apps were popular on Google Assistant platforms.

It found that three of the 18 categories accounted for more than one-third of all Google Assistant Actions: Education & Reference; Games & Fun; and Kids & Family.

The Education category topped the list with more than 15 percent of all Actions, while Games & Fun was 11.07 percent and Kids & Family was 9.29 percent.

Local and Weather were the least popular.

On Alexa, the top categories differ slightly. Though Games & Fun is popular on Google, its Alexa equivalent — Games & Trivia — is the No. 1 most popular category, accounting for 21 percent of all skills. Education was second most popular at around 14 percent.

It’s interesting that these two top drivers for voice apps are reversed on the two platforms.

That could indicate that Alexa is seen to be the more “fun” platform, or one that’s more oriented toward use by families and gaming. Amazon certainly became aware of the trend toward voice gaming, and fanned the flames by making games the first category it paid developers to work on by way of direct payments. That likely encouraged more developers to enter the space, and subsequently helped boost the number of games — and types of gaming experiences — available for Alexa.

Voicebot’s report rightly raises the question as to whether or not the raw skill count even matters, though.

After all, many of the Alexa skills offered today are of low quality, or more experimental attempts from developers testing out the platform. Others are just fairly basic — the voice app equivalent of third-party flashlight apps for iPhone before Apple built that feature into iOS. For example, there now are a handful of skills that turn on the light on Echo speakers so you can have a nightlight by way of the speaker’s blue ring.

But even if these early efforts sometimes fall short, it does matter that Alexa is the platform developers are thinking about, as it’s an indication of platform commitment and an investment on developers’ part. Google, on the other hand, is powering a lot of its Assistant’s capabilities itself, leaning heavily on its Knowledge Base to answer users’ questions, while also leveraging its ability to integrate with Google’s larger suite of apps and services, as well as its other platforms, like Android.

In time, Google Assistant may challenge Alexa further by capitalizing on geographic expansions, but for the time being, Alexa is ahead on smart speakers as well as, it now seems, on content.

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