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Monthly Archives: November 2019

As a sequel to the most over-analyzed comic in history, HBOs Watchmen is predictably full of Easter eggs. Some are callbacks to the original canon, some are sneaky little worldbuilding details, and others will remain a mystery until later episodes (hopefully) explain whats up. A list of every Easter egg would probably fill a book, so weve narrowed it down to the most satisfying examplesthe clever details that will deepen your appreciation of the show once you understand what they mean.

This post includes spoilers up to episode 4.

Watchmen Easter eggs

Nite Owls legacy

So far, the only crossover characters between the comic and the show are Laurie Blake (aka Silk Spectre) and Adrian Veidt (aka Ozymandias), with Dr. Manhattan lurking offscreen on Mars. However, there are still plenty of other comic-TV connections, like the Seventh Kavalrys Rorschach masks. Nite Owl is a particularly interesting example because hes actually still alive, although according to Peteypedia (HBOs site of supplementary files), hes currently in federal custody. He and Laurie Blake were arrested for illegal vigilantism in 1995, but while Blake joined the FBI, he stayed in jail.

Nite Owl (specifically the second Nite Owl,Daniel Dreiberg) was a central character in the comic and is roughly analogous to Blue Beetle or Batman: a vigilante who relies on self-made gadgets. His signature vehicle is a flying ship with windows resembling an owls eyes, and we see something very similar in the shows first episode. (Thanks to Peteypedia, we now know that Dreibergs company Merlincorp directly supplies the police with Owlships.) Later we see Angela Abar wearing a familiar pair of night-vision goggles, and there are a couple of background references to Nite Owls impact on pop culture,like Angela drinking from an owl mug, or one of her kids wearing an owl costume.

The most eye-opening Nite Owl revelation is that he designed Laurie Blakes now-infamous blue dildo. In a (very funny) interrogation transcript from Blake and Dreibergs arrest, she says,Dan was convinced I was still holding a candle for my ex, so he made me a big blue dildo as a f###-you. Literally. The ex is, of course, Dr. Manhattan.

Sons of Pale Horse

Pale Horse was a (fictional) death metal band in the 1980s, beloved by a youth subculture known as knot tops, roughly akin to skinheads. Theyre a recurring background detail in the comic until their final concert in Madison Square Garden, where they live up to their apocalyptic name by dying in Adrian Veidts alien squid attack. HBOsWatchmen pays tribute to them with a 1990s band called Sons of Pale Horse, who became popular among the Rorschach crowd. In fact, when you order the first volume of the shows soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, it arrives in the form of a Sons of the Pale Horse re-release called The Book of Rorschach.

In the vinyl LP edition, the albums liner notes reveal a whole backstory for the band and its cultural impact. Apparently, their music was intended to satirize the idea of worshipping toxic vigilantes like the conspiracy-obsessed Rorschach, and the band was shocked to learn their audience was full of people like the Seventh Kavalry. In other words, Sons of Pale Horse are a direct reference to the way characters like Rorschach attract an unwanted fanbase in real life. The bands in-universe role even extends to a fake review published inRevolver magazine,which incidentally reveals that hero rock became a popular subgenre in the Watchmen timeline, with David Bowie dressing as the Silk Spectre, and Iron Maiden releasing a vigilante concept album.

Elsewhere in the show, we see more obvious Pale Horse imagery, like Adrian Veidts white horse, and Chief Crawfords Comanche Horsemanship painting.

Real-world crossover characters

Much like how Sons of Pale Horse was inspired by Nine Inch Nails (ie. the real band who recorded that fake album),Watchmen is littered with real-world references highlighting differences and similarities with our own timeline. President Robert Redford is the most obvious example, but there are plenty of others with more subtle roles. Ezra Klein (in real life a political journalist who co-foundedVox) is a Redford administration spokesman. Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. has an onscreen cameo as theTreasury Secretary, acting as the face of Redfords reparations campaign for survivors of racist violence. And Elvis Presley is apparently still alive, resurfacing in a Hanoi nightclub in the 90s, tying intoWatchmens ongoing fascination with conspiracy theories.

Laurie Blakes twisted sense of humor

Episode 3 uses a long and bizarre phone call as a framing device, cutting between the main action and Laurie Blake having a one-sided conversation with Dr. Manhattan on Mars. She tells a series of elaborate and rather unpleasant jokes about god, mortality, and superheroes, while Dr. Manhattan (if hes even listening) fails to reply. The scene works perfectly well on its own, but it makes a little more sense if you know two facts about Lauries backstory: her father was the vigilante known as the Comedian, and (as we learn from Peteypedia) Laurie later adopted the superhero moniker Comedienne, after retiring the Silk Spectre pseudonym she inherited from her mother.

That last part is a rather puzzling choice fromWatchmens writers because its unclear why Laurie chose to follow in her fathers footstepsboth by taking his surnameand by continuing his legacy as the Comedian. Edward Blake raped Lauries mother when they were both in the Minutemen superhero team, and in later years we see him shoot a pregnant woman, and generally behave like a colossal asshole who represents everything bad about vigilantism and American imperial power. Hes a cross between the Punisher and the more conservative iterations of Captain America, with a sadistic streak and no moral code. So, why did Laurie decide to acknowledge him in later life, even adopting the name Blake?

TheNew Frontiersman newspaper

TheNew Frontiersman is a far-right tabloid in the comic, prone to printing conspiracy theories and stirring up trouble. At the end of the comic, we see Rorschachs journal in their office, leaving things open for his notes to be published, revealing the truth of what happened with Adrian Veidt and the vigilante murders Rorschach was investigating. HBOsWatchmen makes it clear that the journal was indeed published, which is why characters like the Seventh Kavalry are so dedicated to Rorschachs memory.

And as we see during a scene at a newspaper stand, the New Frontiersman is still going strong. Peteypedia reveals that the paper is owned by Roger Ailes, who once attempted to sue Veidt Enterprises for harassing him because he published Rorschachs journals. (In public, Veidt was politely dismissive of Rorschachs accusations, and most people were satisfied to believe Veidts words over the ramblings of a dead weirdo in a mask.)

Senator Joe Keene Jr.

The Keene Act was the first law outlawing masked vigilantism in 1977, and HBOsWatchmen continues its legacy withJoe Keene Jr., an up-and-coming GOP senator whose father introduced the original Keene Act.

Joe Jr. is the man behind the Defence of Police Act (DOPA), making Tulsa cops wear masks and hide their identities. On the surface, this might feel like a weird reversal of his fathers ideology, until you realize thatboth policies are designed to benefit the police. The Keene Act was introduced in response to police strikes over vigilantes taking their jobs, while DOPA (which supposedly protects police from reprisals) gives the Tulsa PD an alarming amount of freedom to be as violent and aggressive as they want. The Keene family also has a history with the KKK, which we examined in detail here.


There are plenty of recurring motifs inWatchmen, including smiley faces, clocks, eggs, and pirates. InWatchmens timeline, superhero media is limited to things like Sons of Pale Horse and that corny-lookingAmerican Hero Story TV show. Superheroes are real, so theyre not really suitable for the kind of blockbuster escapist entertainment we enjoy from Marvel and DC. Instead, people in theWatchmen universeseem to prefer swashbuckling stories about pirates and cowboys, harking back to the pre-superhero days of American comics.

The comics best-known example is the serialized pirate horror storyTales of the Black Freighter, which the show references on a couple of occasions: a Black Freighter Inn in Tulsa, and the egg farmer in episode 3 reading the novelFogdancingby Max Shea, who wroteTales of theBlack Freighter. We also see Angela Abars kids playing dress-up as a pirate and an owl, and one of Angelas coworkers uses the pseudonym Pirate Jenny, named aftera song fromThe Threepenny Opera.Episode 1s Bass Reeves cameo illustrates where the superhero/swashbuckler timelines diverged, depicting him as the kind of Zorro-esque masked vigilante who would become real and commonplace in later years.

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Say what you want about 2019it was a breakthrough year in media for Black artists, musicians, and activists. This year brought Jordan Peeles and saw the filmmaker named the host of a Twilight Zone revamp. From Regina Kings Golden Globes speech to Spike Lees first Oscar win, Black actors and filmmakers continued fighting diversity in the film industrydespite the setback of a Best Picture win for Greenbook. This year bookends a decade that saw Rihannas Anti and Beyoncs Lemonade, and were entering 2020 amid a Black creative renaissance not to be dismissed as a trend. Any moment of recognition and boundary-pushing is important, especially as Black artists fight to create media that exists outside of the white gaze and speaks to hard truths. Thats why the Daily Dot is reflecting on seven of the most notable moments in Black media across television, film, literature, and music in 2019.

7 Black media breakthroughs in 2019

1) Watchmen, white supremacy, and Black Wall Street on screen

One of the most illuminating media moments this year was the HBO premiere of the TV adaptation of Watchmen. Based on the 1986 comic book series by Alan Moore, the shows first episode depicted the 1921 race riots in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In its opening moments, it follows a Black couple running through the massacre of Black citizens in Black Wall Street, a prominent Black neighborhood, at the hands of white residents and helping their young son flee the chaos. The show jumps to an alternative 2019 America where law enforcement must wear masks for protection against a racist, domestic terrorist group, and descendants of racial violence receive compensation from the U.S. government known as Redfordations.

Not only are the shows opening scenes one of the only depictions of what many say is the single worst incident of racial violence in the United States history. It is also a bold choice amid the 2020 presidential election campaign season, amid which the topic of reparations has surfaced numerous times. Watchmen showed audiences how to challenge the often white-washed version of American history.

Stream Watchmen on .

2) The triumph and controversy of Tyler Perry Studios

Tyler Perrya prominent Black playwright, screenwriter, and actoropened the 300-acre Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, in October. The $280 million studio is now among the largest in the country and made history as the first studio to be fully owned by an African-American. It boasts stages named after other prominent Black media figures, like Denzel Washington and Halley Berry, and hosted a Democratic presidential candidate debate on Nov. 22.

Although a great feat for the Black film industry, especially considering Perrys plans to build a shelter on the property for disadvantaged women and children, Perrys studios have been accused of playing a role in Atlantas ongoing gentrification. In an interview on the podcast Groundings, Taiza Troutman, an Atlanta organizer and researcher, spoke to how the studio could have done so much more for the local community if it had involved meaningful community input. The entire development of that space is a classic example of how celebrity, black, wealthy, private, development regimes work hand in hand with the ambitions and goals of a neoliberal city that is trying to become a glocal city, Troutman said.

3) Nonames Book Club pushes radical thought

Chicago rapper NoName has long been known for her independent, d0-it-yourself roots in the rap world. This year, she embarked on a new project called Nonames Book Club. The rapper said she was inspired after reading Jackson Rising: the Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson Mississippi, which explores the struggles of the Mississippi city where Black residents established their own autonomous community. A few tweets and an Instagram account later, NoName is sharing and discussing radical literature with tens of thousands of followers on social media. For many die-hards of hip-hop and rap, the rappers book club is a nod to an often overlooked and radical roots of the genres, and how political education can spread through media.

Follow @nonamebooks on Twitter and @nonamereads on Instagram.

4) The Black lens of Horror Noire

The documentary Horror Noire explores the good, bad, and complex representations of Black people through the horror film genre. Through interviews with prominent Black actors and media figures including Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead, Get Outs Jordan Peele, and Rachel True of The Craft, the documentary dives deep into how Black bodies are represented in film and how that relates to the frequent displays of Black bodies brutalized by police in America today.

Horor Noire is based on the book of the same title by Robin R. Means Coleman. Stream it on Shudder or Amazon Prime.

5) Phillip Youmans makes history with Burning Cane

New Orleans native Phillip Youmans wrote, directed and shot Burning Cane while still in high school. The films cast includes Wendell Pierce (The Wire) and Emyri Crutchfield (Roots and True Detective). Youmans, who worked with his community to fundraise for the project, find filming locations, and borrow film equipment, earned impressive accolades for the films searing display of the complexities of religion in the Black community.

Youmans became the first Black director and the youngest ever to earn the Founders Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The project caught the attention of Ava Devurneys ARRAY Media and started streaming on Netflix this month.

6) How We Fight For Our Lives and the queer, Black memoir

In his 2019 debut memoir How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed Jones writes with clarity and honesty on the complexities of growing up Black and queer, whether navigating the religious and spiritual beliefs of the matriarchs in his family or confronting the intersections of self-erasure, masculinity, and violence in his sexual encounters. By exploring the hardships of racial and sexual double-consciousness that he faced while coming of age and coming out to his family, Jones showcases a Black, queer narrative of its time. The memoir joins writers like Danez Smith, Audre Lorde, and Darnell Moore in speaking truth that will continue to help generations of LGBTQ+ people to come.

How We Fight For Our Lives is available via Simon & Schuster.

7) Young M.A makes Out magazine history

Since its founding in 1993, Out magazine has only featured two rappers, Lil Kim and Nicki Minajuntil now. Its a publication known for pushing boundaries in LGBTQ+ representation, so it only makes sense that , who released her debut album Herstory in the Making earlier this year, is one of the November Out100 cover stars alongside figures including Billie Porter and playwright Jeremy O. Harris. This makes Young M.A the first out LGBTQ+ rapper to ever be on the magazines cover and places her among other queer celebrities, like Lil Nas X, who broke boundaries this year when he was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Under new leadership that includes Phillip Picardi and Raquel Willis, Out magazine has made an intentional shift since 2018 to be more diverse and gender-inclusive.

As 2019 comes to a close, it is more important than ever to celebrate the triumphs of black artists, activists, and creatives from a spectrum of backgrounds. Because if anything is apparent, Black media is and will continue to break boundaries for many years to come.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A wheelchair user crowd-surfs at California’s Outside Lands festival

For years, deaf and disabled music fans have faced huge barriers when it comes to booking concert tickets.

Whether it’s the requirement to call premium rate help lines, or having to provide evidence of their disabilities, the experience has put many fans off.

Now Ticketmaster is introducing a new system that allows gig-goers to book tickets online “like anyone else”.

BBC reporter Alex Taylor, a wheelchair user who regularly attends concerts, called the move a “huge step forward”.

Ticketmaster’s scheme allows fans to submit details of their disability online. Once validated, the information is bound to their profile, meaning they can book tickets for all future gigs without extra effort.

In participating venues, accessible seats will be clearly labelled on the seat map like any other ticket – whether that’s in the range of a hearing loop, or in a wheelchair-friendly zone, with a free companion ticket.

“It’s something we’ve been seeking to address for some time now,” Ticketmaster’s MD, Andrew Parsons, told the BBC. “Fundamentally, all fans deserve equal access to live entertainment.

“The plus side of this system is that, in the future, the fans won’t have to do anything. They will be able to buy their tickets like anyone else.”

The booking system was soft-launched in two venues, Glasgow’s SEC and Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, a fortnight ago.

“The feedback’s been really, really positive,” said Parsons. “We’re very keen to roll it out to a host of new venues now; and I’m challenging all of our teams on that.”

He said that arenas in Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle would be enrolled in the scheme by the end of the year, with more venues in more countries to follow in 2020.

“This is fantastic news for disabled music fans, and we hope other businesses will follow Ticketmaster’s lead,” said Kristina Barrick, of the disability equality charity Scope.

“Buying tickets online is not just about convenience. For disabled people whose impairments mean they can’t use a phone, this will be game-changing.”

Analysis – Alex Taylor, BBC News

Image copyright Alex Taylor
Image caption Alex Taylor recently enjoyed London’s Lovebox festival

Ticketmaster’s new system is a huge step forward for the disabled community – the end of a needless digital divide. The traditional accessible ticket line route (specialist phone numbers open at set hours), is not only laughably cumbersome and time-consuming in the digital age, but also the opposite of accessible for disabled people, especially those who may have difficulty using the phone.

Now, finally, a major player has begun to take the plunge (albeit tentatively), helping explore technology’s full potential as an accessibility tool. Of course this is not before time and could’ve happened sooner. Research by the UK charity Attitude is Everything has been vital in highlighting the issue and forcing companies to take their earplugs out. Enabling disabled customers makes financial sense: The purchasing power of the community, known as the purple pound, was estimated to be worth around £249bn to the economy in 2017.

But more work needs to be done. Launching at SEC Hydro, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff shows willing but far from a full UK-wide commitment (Birmingham, London?), although Ticketmaster promise further roll-outs.

Ultimately, this is a first-step, a warm-up to a headline act of ticketing equality that I, as a wheelchair user, have longed for my whole life. The whole point of music, and art as a whole, is that it is accessible to all – and most powerful live.

Ticketing shouldn’t be a barrier, but a route in. I’ll meet you at the front.

More than three million disabled people attend a concert every year and disabled music fans make up 11% of the live music audience, according to government statistics.

But the UK charity Attitude is Everything, recently found that 82% of deaf and disabled music lovers had faced difficulties attending live music events, while 83% had been discouraged from buying tickets because of inaccessible booking systems.

In response, it launched the Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition, and worked in conjunction with Ticketmaster to design its new system.

“I’m delighted that Ticketmaster’s accessible ticket sales will go online,” said the charity’s CEO, Suzanne Bull in a statement.

“This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets”.

A similar scheme also exists for the Birmingham NEC, Birmingham Arena and Resorts World Arena, via The Ticket Factory website.

Ticketmaster stressed that their dedicated phone lines won’t be closing – with the new system simply an option for fans who prefer to go online.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email

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Venture capitalists often mutter, “I haven’t seen anything I like lately.” Founders frequently complain that “investors are back-seat drivers who won’t get their hands dirty.” A $56 million fund with a fresh approach is aiming to address both those issues.

Steve Jang and Kanyi Maqubela are two exceedingly smart and sweet guys who couldn’t help but come up with ideas for startups. Jang co-founded music apps Imeem and Soundtracking, meanwhile serving as an early Uber advisor and angel investor in Coinbase. Maqubela worked in operations at career network Doostang (acquired by Universum Global) and solar startup One Block Off the Grid (acquired by NRG) before rising to general partner at Collaborative Fund.

Today the pair officially launch Kindred Ventures to form startups as well as fund them.

“We don’t want to wait for people to come around and solve the problems we think matter,” says Jang. “We’d rather proactively assemble an amazing team to go tackle that problem,” Maqubela follows up. But Kindred Ventures will also step up and lead seed rounds, then help startups orchestrate their follow-on fundraises.

Kindred Ventures partner and co-founder Steve Jang

“The ethos is empathy — to take a very adaptive coaching and mentorship model,” Jang tells me. That means partnering with startups, not merely offering arm’s-length investing. By keeping the portfolio size low, Jang and Maqubela plan to turn concentrated conviction and outsized, hands-on effort into big stakes in tomorrow’s top companies.

“I originally wanted to call the fund Kindred Spirits, but it sounds a little too woo-woo,” Jang says with a laugh. From multiple interviews with the team and its portfolio, though, that’s really the vibe Kindred Ventures is going for — to be the first people founders call when they’re in crisis… whether they need answers or just some cheering up.


Beyond the warm smiles, Kindred already has a strong track record from its prototype phase under Jang’s solo operation since 2014. He’d made a reputation for himself as a fixer through his advising work during Uber’s scrappy early years starting in 2009. It began with Jang writing Garrett Camp a check for his side-project. As the company blossomed without full-time employees, Jang pitched in wherever he could.

After Imeem’s sale to Myspace and later Soundtracking’s acquisition by Rhapsody, Jang made about 50 angel investments of around $25,000 to $250,000 in companies like Coinbase, Blue Bottle Coffee, Postmates and Zymergen under the name Kindred Ventures. Instead of just throwing money around, “I’d help a co-founder — sit down and work with them on product, their presentation for seed funding, hiring their first employees, finding a co-founder — it was quite different from how VCs operate.” Still, he wanted to lead more investments like his favorite seed funds First Round and True Ventures while remaining a thick-or-thin squire to his startups.

But to pour that kind of sweat into the portfolio, Jang needed the help of someone who could dig deep and become an ally to founders in any vertical. He needed someone like Kanyi.

After his stints in operations, Maqubela went on to work at Collaborative Fund for seven years, rising to partner at the firm looking for the intersection of positive impact and profit. He tells me developed a thesis about “what does it mean to be a techno-optimist?: to believe that technology is amoral but can be oriented towards good.”

Maqubela’s super-power is learning. I knew him from Stanford, and now the same reputation precedes him through his portfolio of angel investments like Earnest and Buffer. He’ll immerse himself in any topic or industry, read and call people until he truly gets it and then wedge his entrepreneurial skill set into the cracks to firm up an idea. Still relatively new to venture, Maqubela was seeking someone with a well-worn process for investing and a big heart for what founders go through. He was looking for Steve.

Kindred Ventures partner and co-founder Kanyi Maqubela

The coincidental co-investors became friends, then deliberately funded startups side by side, and now are taking the leap as Kindred Ventures. Together they want to redefine “What does it mean to invest at t=0?. What do they really need?,” Maqubela says.

The plan is to fund about 25 companies through pre-seed and seed per fund, which they’ll raise every two to three years. Kindred is vertical agnostic, but it has a soft spot for the future of cities, work and living. It’s also keen on marketplaces, material science, food innovation, deep tech, enterprise SAAS and developer tools.

Jang and Maqubela are learning from each other day by day, at home and in the office. They’ve each got their own toddler son to juggle alongside Kindred. Added responsibility seems to have made both of them conscious of how each minute counts, no matter who they’re with. The result is you’ll often hear the word “nicest” whenever people describe the pair.

Get in formation

So far Kindred Ventures has funded nine startups from its $55 million initial fund. It’s helped form two companies and hopes to do four to eight per fund. But Kindred won’t be taking founder-level equity in those. Instead it just wants the opportunity to lead the seed round and own 10% to 20% by the time of the Series A.

That makes Kindred Ventures distinct from most startup studios like Atomic that aim for bigger ~30% stakes. “The Studios are creating whole platform teams, services teams, only work on their own ideas, and own a considerable amount of equity,” Jang notes. By leaving more shares for the real CEO, “We’d be able to work with a stronger profile of founders” while avoiding spending so much time per company that the model becomes unscalable. “We’re there at the formation of the company, but it’s not our company.”

Kindred’s two formations come from the disparate medicine and blockchain worlds. Maqubela became an expert in cardiology to help start Heartbeat, which does in-person and remote heart-health diagnostics. “I have a clear bullshit meter for when non-healthtech people try to get into it,” but Maqubela really figured it out, Heartbeat CEO Jeff Wessler, MD, tells me.

On his experience with Kindred, “It’s ‘we’re there for you when you need us’ rather than ‘we’re there for you when we fund you and then we move on,’ ” Wessler says. “Very quickly this evolved into Steve and Kanyi being my absolute numbers 1 and 2.” The investors gave Wessler Entrepreneurship 101 coaching, provided Heartbeat’s first funding and helped it build a team. With their help, the first-time founder has sidestepped common pitfalls and is already turning patients into customers with its $2.5 million in funding.

Bitski, a blockchain app login platform, has quickly leveraged Kindred’s support with formation into big funding from top investors. Bitski CEO Donnie Dinch tells me, “In the early days, Steve would be in the office with us, late night jamming on ideas around the evolution of the blockchain space, fundamental products that needed to exist, early use cases etc. There’s a lot of money available for seed-stage projects, but it can be difficult to find an investor willing to grind with the team through the days of pre product-market fit.”

Bitski actually started as collaborative video production app Riff. But Jang and Maqubela’s advice helped it solidy pivot into developer tools for decentralized apps. It’s since gone on to raise $3.5 million from SV Angel, Coinbase, Galaxy Digital and the Winklevoss twins. “The collaborative tone of the relationship really stands out,” says Dinch of Kindred. “Obviously, operating with a high-touch model can take more of the partners’ time, but we haven’t noticed any drop in availability or support.”

Plenty of funds talk a lot about getting their hands dirty. Often that means hiring big teams they can assign to help founders, though, while the partners focus elsewhere. With just two support staff, Jang and Maqubela don’t have that luxury. They’re in constant contact with their investments by WhatsApp, phone and email to work through snags directly.

They’re always super responsive,” says Michael Karnjarnaprakorn, co-founder of collectibles investing startup Otis that was backed by Kindred’s prototype fund. He cites three big value-adds. Strategy: “Anytime I’m thinking through a big decision, I call them to help me think through it,” including fundraising and product launches. Network: “They have an extremely strong network and are usually one to two degrees away from anyone.” And “everything else,” from mentorship on founder psychology to company building.

Undertaking such intense involvement in their whole portfolio would likely surface concerns about a green VC. But “Steve has essentially been doing this for a decade or so not formalized, so I don’t see any reason it can’t work,” says one of Kindred’s stealth startup founders Brian Norgard. “As companies begin to scale, my sense is they will be less effective because that’s a different game that’s more on the operations side. Still, I see a lot of value that can be created in the early innings.”

Kindred had a sort of grit and passion for early-stage founders and teams that we thought would give us an edge as we started to grow quickly,” says health insurance company Catch‘s co-founder Kristen Tyrrell.” They have been genuinely interested in our mental health. Having Steve fly in to take us to dinner and tell us we’re doing OK is surprisingly meaningful when you’re fighting on every side.”

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Kanyi Maqubela of Collaborative Fund speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

But being high-touch and concerned with entrepreneurs’ well-being doesn’t mean becoming a push-over yes-man. “Founder empathy is not always founder-friendly,” says Maqubela. “It’s being able to disagree with founders, even very passionately, and still constructively working together. To be able to tell them they’re wrong but come out the other side.”

That means Kindred Ventures isn’t for every founder. Those who want their investors firmly belted in the backseat or locked in the trunk may want to look elsewhere for cash. Smart founders will take all the help they can get, and Kindred strives to give the most per dollar. Jang concludes that, “The idea may come from them or come from us, but we want to back amazing founders on a mission. It’s scratching both itches for us.”

[Image Credit: Jill Baker Photography]

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“We’re giving away money to strangers on the internet” is a pretty cavalier pitch for a new startup. But the more I learned about Placement, the smarter it sounded. In exchange for 10% of your income for 18 to 36 months, Placement will find you a much higher paying job, prep you for the interview and help you move to your new city of employment.

Actors, athletes and musicians have talent agents. Why shouldn’t office workers? That’s co-founder and CEO Sean Linehan’s vision for Placement. The former VP of product at Flexport thinks he can consistently get people a 30% raise on their cost of living-adjusted income if they’re willing to relocate from either their sleepy hometown or an overpriced metropolis.

“We think you can transform your life without becoming an engineer. You just have to be in the right place,” says Linehan. Not everyone is going to learn to code, and Placement isn’t a school. “We’re not in the business of training people to do jobs. We’re in training people to get jobs.”

Placement sits at the lucrative center of a slew of megatrends. People switching jobs more often. The desperate need to pay off crushing student loan debt. The rise of mid-size cities as rent gets out of control in San Francisco and New York. Social apps keeping people in touch from afar. The search for deeper fulfillment going mainstream.

Placement co-founder and CEO Sean Linehan

Through the normalization of income sharing agreements, Placement has found a way to powerfully monetize these societal shifts. That potential has attracted a $3 million seed round led by Founders Fund and backed by Coatue’s new seed fund, XYZ Ventures, The House Fund, plus angels like Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen, Eventbrite founders Julia and Kevin Hartz, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, 137 Ventures MD Elizabeth Weil and her husband Facebook Calibra VP of Product Kevin.

With the cash to build out its jobseeker’s software toolkit, Placement could grow far beyond the Jerry Maguire-style boutique talent agency into a scalable way to put millions on a better career track. “The number one problem that I see in the American economy right now is the lack of income mobility,” Linehan says. “There are so many services for making rich people get richer, but what about services to help low-income people to get to the middle, or help those in the middle to improve?”

“If I stayed home, there’s just no way”

The CEO’s own rise was “a tried and true American tale,” he tells me. “I grew up in a pretty low-income neighborhood in San Bernardino . . . below the poverty line.” But a chance to attend UC Berkeley brought him to Silicon Valley, and the economic powerhouse city of San Francisco (before the housing crisis made it so expensive). “I don’t think I could have been as successful if I went to another place. If I had stayed in my home town, there’s just no way.”

Yet after college, when friends moved away and he broke up with his girlfriend, Linehan found himself living in a bunkbed by himself with extra space. “I called a friend back home working a minimum wage job, still living at home, and said ‘Your life kinda sucks. Come crash with me!,’ ” Linehan recalls. “He was super smart — smarter than most of the people I went to Berkeley with, but he never got on the train out of town.”

In the following years, Linehan coached his friend through becoming a professional and navigating interviews. “Now he’s tripled his income on a cost of living adjusted basis. He went from minimum wage to $70,000 to $80,000.” That ignited the idea for Placement. “How do you take that process of tapping people who are special and just need economic opportunity, and bring it to more people?” But Linehan needed a co-founder who could execute on getting these up-and-comers jobs.

That’s where Katie Kent came in. Also from the product team at Flexport, Kent had helped start Zipfian Academy as the first data science bootcamp in America. The 12-week crash course had been placing 93% of graduates into full-time roles when Zipfian was acquired by Galvanize, where Kent became director of outcomes with the mandate to get students great jobs. The right idea, experience and the track record of turning Flexport into a $3.2 billion freight forwarding unicorn led investors to jump at the chance to fund Placement.

Share me the money

So how exactly do Placement’s income sharing agreements work? “They only pay us if they make more money on a cost of living adjusted basis” Linehan explains.

First, the startup recruits through targeted advertising and word of mouth referrals, which the company says 100% of clients have provided. Primarily, it’s seeking business professionals with a skill mismatched to their city, such as sales, human resources or operations in a place without companies competing to hire for those roles. They might have never left their hometown or returned after school at a mid-tier college, suppressing their earning potential. But lack of knowledge about jobseeking, fears of leaving their support network or a lack of funds to finance a move keep them stuck there.

“There are two moments when society puts a gentle hand on your shoulder saying its okay to move away: when you go to college and when you graduate college,” says Linehan. “We’re trying to engineer a third moment. We give people the permission and space to have that conversation with their family by providing that forcing function.” Placement serves the same utility the CEO did for his friend, revealing that if they seize the opportunity of moving to a growing but still affordable city like Denver, Austin, Raleigh or Seattle, “people’s lives would be so much better.”

The other demographic Placement seeks is the 10 million-plus workers who’ve gotten in over their heads in some of the country’s priciest cities. “If you’re ambitious and talented but not an engineer in SF, this is a hard life. The costs are exceeding the benefits at this point.” Placement looks for cheaper cities where their skills are still relevant and they might even earn the same or a little less, but they can fetch a huge increase in income on a cost of living-adjusted basis and they have a path to buying a house. Linehan declares that “Our controversial opinion is that more important than reskilling people is getting them to the right place where the work is happening in the first place.”

Placement then evaluates the prospective client in what is currently an extremely selective process to determine if they’re undervalued based on their skills, qualifications, shortfalls and redflags. If they’re already being adequately or overpaid, it won’t accept them. Those eligible are offered access to Placement’s research on all the optimal salary and location/hirer pairs for their role, which most people wouldn’t or couldn’t do themselves. Linehan says, “We run their job search for them. We’re kind of like a concierge.”

Once they’ve selected some targets, Placement quarterbacks their preparation process, helping them to improve their LinkedIn and resume, practice telling their story and offering mock interviews with experts in their field. As they progress through interviews Placement sets up and requires hirers offer remotely, it teaches clients to negotiate to get their best possible compensation.

“If you’re a normal person who didn’t go to an elite institution or are a couple years out of school, there’s no resources,” Linehan laments. While some top coding schools and other bootcamps place graduates, and some startups like Pathrise are also working on interview prep, most seeking a new employer end up relying on mediocre job hunting tips they find online. That’s in part because it was hard to get people to fork over significant cash in exchange for instruction that wasn’t guaranteed to help.

How Placement income sharing agreements work

The Placement income sharing agreement is designed to align incentives, though. It’s vested in getting clients not only the best job and salary, but one they’ll want to stick with. As long as the startup nets them a higher adjusted income, clients pay 10% of their earnings. That lasts for 18 months, or 36 months if they receive Placement’s $5,000 relocation stipend and human support. There are also caps on the total Placement can get paid back, and the agreement dissolves after five years so clients aren’t locked in if things don’t work out.

For example, Placement aims to help someone earning $40,000 per year pre-taxes reach $52,000 on a cost of living adjusted basis. They’d end up paying Placement $7,794 over the course of 18 months, or $433 per month. After the bill, they’d still be earning $3,900 per month, or $567 more than they used to. If they take the $5,000 relocation stipend and extra assistance, their ISA extends to 36 months and they’ll end up paying back $15,588 total, including the stipend.

Clients are likely to keep growing their compensation after their Placement ISA ends, so they’ll start reaping all the added proceeds. The startup has worked with fewer than 1,000 clients to date, but is supposedly growing quickly.

Eventually, Placement could move into working with programmers and designers, but it sees a big gap in assistance for business roles. Linehan notes that “We’re providing an option that will be available to a lot more people than a Lambda School or Galvanize coding bootcamp. Not everyone’s going to be software engineers.”

Making America anti-fragile

The biggest hurdle for Placement will be scaling what can be quite a hands-on, relationship-driven process of matching clients with the right hirers. “It’s one thing to get one person a job. It’s another to get 10,000 people a job,” Linehan admits. But he conquered the same problem at Flexport, which was moving 1,000 shipping containers across the ocean but had to figure out “how the hell do you move 1 million?”

Placement co-founders (from left): Katie Kent and Sean Linehan

That requires Placement to pour product know-how into building tools that equip clients to take more initiative to match themselves with hirers and teach themselves interview skills. It also must automate more of its marketing outreach, client screening and connections to recruiters while retaining a human element worth a four to five-figure price.

Right now, the startup’s team numbers just four, and though it will expand to seven soon, it may need to raise a bunch more to chase this dream. Some investors have been understandably skeptical about the whole “handing out $5,000” model without onerous ISAs.

For comparison, the one-year MissionU school for business and data jobs that was acquired and shut down by WeWork asked for 15% of income for three years without a relocation stipend, or $23,400 on a $52,000 per year job. ISAs for General Assembly’s tech job education cost 10% for 48 months, even if students don’t earn more than in their old job. Pathrise’s slimmer offering costs just 7% for one year. Colleges are jumping on the trend too, with some working with startup Leif to run their ISAs.

Placement has plans to cover prickly edge cases. If someone gets laid off from their new job, the startup will help them find another. “We’re on the hook to make sure they’re successful,” Linehan insists. It only won’t step in if an employee is fired for an ethical problem like sexual harassment or committing fraud. And if someone simply gets lonely in their unfamiliar city, they’re not required to stay, though moving home could hurt their earnings and Placement’s take. That’s why the startup is working to help its clients find community, even amongst each other, so they don’t feel isolated, and prefers sending workers to cities where they know someone.

Meanwhile, Placement must resist the temptation to become a hiring agency paid by employers and instead work fully on behalf of its clients. “When you’re aligned economically with the employer, you’re just chasing dollars from bigger and bigger whales of companies, and at one point you figure out you’re a recruiting firm for the Gap,” Linehan says with a shudder. The complexity of dealing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is enough hassle, so Placement doesn’t intend to work with jobseekers abroad or those that need visas, as “it’s not good for startups if you’re at the mercy of the government.”

Luckily, U.S. salaries total $8.6 trillion per year, Linehan claims, so it’s got enough of a domestic market. “The American economy is so huge that I don’t see other people tackling problems like that being competitive.” Placement does have potential to use its data to recommend and teach specific skills. “If you just make this change, if you learn Excel, you could totally get this job in a different industry that pays more and that you’ll like more,” Linehan says. He also dreams of one day improving urban planning by suggesting cities build music venues or parks that jobseekers say would soften the landing of moving there.

Zooming out, there’s also chance for Placement make the country more stable and resistant to strong-man populism promising financial security. “A two-tier society is fragile. I don’t want to live in a democracy where there’s a bunch of hay waiting for a matchstick to set it on fire,” Linehan concludes. “There doesn’t have to be a have and a have-not class, and you don’t need the government to do forced redistribution to make everything fair. You just need people that care about getting on the right track, and that to me is a worthy cause to dedicate a life to.”

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Image copyright Paul Heyes
Image caption Mark Radcliffe had a tumour removed from his tongue

Broadcaster Mark Radcliffe has launched a campaign to raise £20m to help build a new cancer research centre at Manchester’s Christie Hospital.

The Re-Write Cancer campaign aims to help meet the cost of a new £150m research facility.

It will replace the old Paterson building on Wilmslow Road, which was destroyed by fire in 2017.

Radcliffe, 61, was diagnosed with cancer last year and had a tumour removed from his tongue.

The cancer also spread to lymph nodes in his neck but following successful treatment at the hospital he returned to the airwaves in February.

The BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music presenter unveiled a bench in the grounds of the University of Manchester bearing the inscription: “Mark Radcliffe loved sitting here….and still does thanks to advances in cancer research.”

Image copyright Steve Allen
Image caption The Paterson building on Wilmslow Road was destroyed by fire in 2017

Radcliffe, from Knutsford, Cheshire, said it was “an absolute honour” to be involved in the campaign.

He said: “Facing a cancer diagnosis was extremely tough – it completely turned my life upside down and made me re-evaluate what really matters to me.

“But thousands of people are in the same boat every year and I was fortunate to receive excellent care at The Christie.

“Research into cancer is the key to changing lives now and in the future. Without it I simply wouldn’t be standing – or sitting – here today.”

The new research centre, which is due to open in early 2022, will integrate researchers and clinicians in one “world-class facility”, the hospital has said.

It will be twice the size of the Paterson, which was extensively damaged by fire in April 2017 – though much of the unit’s research work was salvaged and no-one was injured.

The unit’s research was temporarily relocated 13 miles away at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

The fundraising is a joint appeal by Cancer Research UK, the Christie Charitable Fund and the University of Manchester.

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Jean Fergusson, who played Marina in Last of the Summer Wine for 25 years, has died at the age of 74.

Fergusson played the opinionated Marina in 216 episodes of the show from 1985.

She also appeared several times in ITV soap Coronation Street, most recently playing the part of Dorothy Hoyle until 2011.

She also had a theatre career and was nominated for an Olivier award in 1998 for playing British comic, actress and music hall performer Hylda Baker.

The actress’s death comes after that of her former Last of the Summer Wine colleague Juliette Kaplan in October.

Image caption Fergusson did many scenes with Robert Fyfe in Last of the Summer Wine

Comedy actress Vicki Michelle, best known for ‘Allo ‘Allo, paid tribute to Fergusson.

Fergusson was born on 30 December 1944, and grew up in the village of Woolley near Wakefield.

“I have very fond memories of a happy childhood, and going to the village school – long closed now, of course,” she said in 2009. “We’d stretch a line across the road and make that into our ‘tennis net’. There was so little traffic back then that we rarely had to take it down.”

The family later moved to Wales, where Fergusson learned her acting craft at The Castle (the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama).

Before getting the role of Marina in Last of the Summer Wine, Fergusson had forged a successful career in theatre and was rarely out of work.

Stage origins of Marina

Her first job at the Oldham Coliseum lasted two years and saw her in a variety of roles and touring productions around the UK.

Fergusson also appeared in several television shows, including All Creatures Great & Small, Crossroads and The Practice, before taking on the role that would define her for the next two decades.

Image copyright ITV/Shutterstock
Image caption Jean Fergusson played Dorothy Hoyle in Coronation Street

Set in West Yorkshire, Last of the Summer Wine, which began in 1973 and ended in 2010, soon became the nation’s favourite comedy. At its peak it was watched by 18 million people.

Its success came from the seemingly incongruous mix of madcap capers carried out by a group of young at-heart pensioners.

Fergusson’s casting as the mini-skirt wearing, peroxide blonde Marina, was in fact first performed in a stage version of the show.

‘We battled through’

The character was such a hit that TV director Roy Clarke decided to incorporate Marina – along with the characters of Howard and Pearl – into his television series.

Hapless Howard was the love of Marina’s life and the pair would travel up hill and down dale on their bikes or scooter, when Howard managed to find time away from his domineering wife Pearl.

Image copyright Shutterstock

Marina’s outfits were characteristically skimpy and as Fergusson grew older, she admitted to having become less and less comfortable, in more ways than one.

“Funnily enough more towards the end [of the series], I was always the one in the low-cut blouse and the mini skirt or the shorts,” she said when appearing on quiz show Pointless Celebrities in 2017.

“When I got – shall we say – a little bit older, it wasn’t quite the same getting all dressed up in the morning in a pair of little mini shorts and a very low-cut blouse.

“But we battled through. We got on the bike and off we went.”

Bicycle had to be sold

While making Last of the Summer Wine in the 1990s, Fergusson was researching and writing the one-woman show She Knows, You Know! about the life and decline of Hylda Baker.

Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption Fergusson was in the comedy play Two Into One at the Menier Theatre in London in 2014

Fergusson had admired Baker since her childhood and when she took the show to London’s West End stage she found herself receiving the Olivier nomination for best entertainment show.

Fergusson’s first foray into Coronation Street came whilst she was still making Last of the Summer Wine. In 1999, she arrived to play the role of Mrs Mallett. She later returned to the soap after the end of Last of the Summer Wine to play Dorothy Hoyle from 2010 to 2011.

In 2014, Fergusson sold off the bike she was given from Last of the Summer Wine, when she moved from Yorkshire to London and realised she had no space for it. It made £500 at auction.

“If I could have kept it, I would have done,” said Fergusson, “but I’ll let some wonderful fan have the pleasure of it.”

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(CNN)Three people were trampled and hospitalized Saturday as thousands rushed to get into rapper Travis Scott’s music festival in Houston.

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Three people were sent to the hospital with leg injuries as they attempted to enter the festival that was expected to draw at least 50,000 people, the Houston Fire Department told CNN affiliate KTRK-TV.
Police tweeted at least one person was arrested at the festival for public intoxication, adding that they were successfully working together to “support Houston’s biggest music festival.” The sold-out event continued as planned Saturday.

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    Daya is one of our favorite voices! And talents!

    The young singer is featured on DJ/Producer RL Grimes‘s I Wanna Know, which reminds us a lot of The Chainsmokers (the good songs).

    She was actually featured on a huge hit from the duo? Remember that?

    Check out I Wanna Know above!

    Then CLICK HERE to listen to more music from Daya!

    And CLICK HERE to listen to more music from RL Grimes!

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    The Apollo is a documentary about the history of the legendary Apollo Theatre, but it is also a poignant celebration of Black art. Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams film shows archival footage of some of the many names that once graced the stagefrom Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder to LL Cool J, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappellewhile pondering the theaters future.

    The Apollo

    RELEASE DATE: 11/06/2019
    DIRECTOR: Roger Ross Williams
    Roger Ross Williams retells the star-studded history of the legendary Apollo Theater while celebrating decades of Black art.

    Throughout the film, music historians and Apollo employees and regulars discuss what the coming years hold for the venue. Williams explores two possibilities: The theater can serve as a historical monument or a place to celebrate current Black art. The Apollo points to the latter, following the preparations for a production of Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me, a poignant father-to-son telling of the realities of being Black in America.

    Williams has built a vibrant tribute to the Apollo. The archival footage alone makes the documentary worth the watch, featuring clips of protest music such as Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit, James Browns rendition of Say It Loud, Im Black and Im Proud, and Barack Obama singing Al Green. Paired with firsthand memories of those who were there and commentary from music historians, as well as present-day hopefuls, its easy to view the Apollo Theater as a living, growing organism. The cinematography is graceful; the footage, photographs, and documentssuch as notes about each entertainers performancespan more than 50 years, but the transitions never feel visually jarring.


    The most interesting event in the Apollos history is the weekly Amateur Night, an attraction that still exists today. In its heyday, it served as a proving ground for emerging artists because of its notoriously tough audience. A 13-year-old Lauryn Hill is seen being booed, Chappelle explains that Amateur Night audiences prepared him to face harsh criticism, and jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald talks about her first time singing in a bid to please the vicious crowd.

    Sometimes The Apollos strengths are also its weaknesses. The amount of archival footage alone is staggering, and watching the performances change over the years is engaging. The performers that have taken the Apollo stage since 1932 can and have been the subject of countless documentaries. Theres a lot of history fit into The Apollos runtime, and it can start to feel like a blur.


    With The Apollo, its clear that Williams aspired for more than a simple retelling of the Apollo Theaters history. As the documentary ends with a segment from the theaters production of Between the World and Me, its easy to see The Apollo for what it really is: a fond tribute to a venue that gave many their start when no one else would, and a triumphant celebration of Black art across genres and decades.

    Still not sure what to watch on HBO? Here are thebest movies on HBO, thebest HBO documentaries, andwhats new on HBO Gothis month.

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