Daily Crunch: Alphabet's Verily launches COVID-19 screening site

Anthony Ha

Alphabet launches a site for COVID-19 test screening, the stock market continues to fall and Microsoft Teams goes down. Here's your Daily Crunch for March 16, 2020.

1. Alphabet’s Verily launches its California COVID-19 test screening site in a limited pilot

Alphabet-owned health technology company Verily has launched the COVID-19 screening site that was first described by President Trump as a broadly focused coronavirus web-based screening and testing utility developed by Google.

After a flurry of blog posts by Google and Verily over the weekend — as well as Trump's subsequent claim that Google CEO Sundar Pichai called him to apologize — it became clear that the screening and testing site was a Verily project, limited in scope to California residents, with a specific focus on a couple of counties for now.

2. Stock markets halted for unprecedented third time due to coronavirus scare

The morning after the Federal Reserve cut its interest rates to near zero at the urging of the president, all of the indexes posted major losses. For the third time in the past two weeks, the Dow hit its emergency circuit breaker as the market opened; the S&P also halted trades.

3. Microsoft Teams goes down — just as everyone starts working from home

The technology giant left a cryptic message on Twitter, stating that it has “received reports that impact associated with TM206544 is ongoing.” Perfect timing.

4. The latest Powerbeats bring Pro-style updates to a tethered design at $149

After several weeks' worth of leaks, the latest version of Apple/Beat’s Powerbeats arrives this week. But there will be no Powerbeats 4 — not for now, at least. Instead, the company’s somewhat confusingly doing away with the numbering scheme in favor of the simpler “Powerbeats” name.

5. Startup founders are building companies on WhatsApp

VC Lisa Enckell looks at companies like shoe brand Portblue, AI e-commerce company Sorabel and Sama, an online recruitment platform for migrant workers, which all started life using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers, onboard users and raise brand awareness. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Y Combinator may go fully remote for its next cohort

Y Combinator said that it may make its Summer 2020 accelerator program entirely virtual, proving that even the world’s premier accelerator isn’t immune to having its business reshaped by the novel coronavirus spreading across the world.

7. This week's TechCrunch podcasts

The team at Equity discusses what the collapse of the public markets might mean for startups aiming to raise funding. Meanwhile, on Original Content, we review the new FX/Hulu series "Devs," a creepy techno-thriller that also provides some relief from the craziness of the real world.

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