Anime as a genre is always expanding, and with the streaming market growing just as quickly, it can be a hassle to find an anime streaming service that works for you. Whether you want to watch newer anime titles like “Chainsaw Man,” “Blood of Zeus” and “Bleach” or classics like “One Piece,” “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” and “Cowboy Bebop,” here is a roundup of streaming services that you can check out as we begin the new year.
Top Anime Streaming Service: Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll is a no-brainer for all anime lovers, whether you’re a die-hard fan or newbie.
Free to all users, popular shows on the platform include “One-Punch Man,” “Attack on Titan,” “My Hero Academia” “Death Note,” “Dr. Stone” and newer titles like “Spy X Family.” Plus, Crunchyroll recently added Funimation content, so subscribers have access to a vast anime library of over 40,000 episodes and more than 16,000 hours of content.
However, the Crunchyroll free ad-supported version has its downsides, such as limited access to titles that are only available in 480p resolution.
Fortunately, there are also three premium ad-free tiers, which give subscribers unlimited access to Crunchyroll’s content library (in HD), access to new episodes of series one hour after they air in Japan, as well as digital versions of manga. Each premium plan comes with a 14-day trial.
The cheapest premium tier is called “Fan” and costs $7.99 per month. The plan allows subscribers to stream on one device at a time. “Fan” subscribers don’t get offline viewing, nor do they get the same perks as “Mega Fan” and “Ultimate Fan.”
“Mega Fan” is $9.99 per month and allows subscribers to stream on 4 devices at once. It also offers offline viewing as well as perks like first access to Crunchyroll Expo events/lotteries and Crunchyroll Store discounts. Every 3 months, “Mega Fan” customers get $15 off $100 purchases in the Crunchyroll Store.
The most expensive plan is “Ultimate Fan” for $14.99 per month. Subscribers of this tier get the most perks, which include the ability to stream on 6 devices at one time, offline viewing, first access to Crunchyroll Expo events/lotteries, $25 off $100 purchases in the Crunchyroll Store every 3 months, and goodies like an annual “swag bag.”
Next Best Thing: Netflix
If you’re looking for the next best anime streaming option, it’s Netflix.
Most of you probably already have a Netflix subscription, since it has a whopping 223.09 million subscriber base, so you’re likely aware of all the anime content it has to offer. In 2021 alone, nearly 90% of its viewers watched Netflix anime titles, the company reported in March 2022.
The streaming giant has a ton of popular series to binge, including “Hunter x Hunter,” “Naruto,” “Castlevania,” “The Seven Deadly Sins,” “Neo Genesis Evangelion” and “The Promised Neverland.” From originals to fan favorites, there’s a lot for subscribers to explore.
While Netflix in general tends to be more expensive than Crunchyroll, the streamer recently launched a cheaper ad-supported version for only $6.99 per month. Meanwhile, its basic ad-free version is $9.99 per month, whereas the “Standard” plan is $15.49/month and the “Premium” plan is $19.99/month.
Another Great Alternative: Hulu
With over 300 anime titles, Hulu is probably the third-best option for fans. The streaming service has the majority of the same hits as Crunchyroll and Netflix offer, including “Attack on Titan,” “One-Punch Man,” “Naruto” and “Cowboy Bebop,” among others. It also offers “Sailor Moon,” “Tokyo Ghoul,” “Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba,” “The Rising of the Shield Hero” and more.
Plus, Hulu has a dedicated anime hub, which organizes content into categories such as the most popular titles, new releases, classics, recent simulcasts, and an alphabetical directory.
It’s important to note that Hulu raised its prices in October 2022. The ad-free plan is now $14.99 per month, and the ad-supported tier is $7.99 per month. On the plus side, Hulu offers a 1-month free trial. The streamer has a wide variety of content for everyone to watch, including comedy, drama, and reality TV, so it’s still a pretty good deal regardless of whether you’re an anime fan.
Most Affordable Anime Streaming Service: Hidive
At only $4.99/month, Hidive is a great inexpensive option for viewers. It also offers a 7-day free trial.
If you’re a hardcore anime buff, we recommend using Hidive to expose yourself to various anime that you may not find on other streaming services. While the content library is definitely more niche, it still has 500 titles for fans to discover.
Shows and movies on the service include “I’m Quitting Heroing,” “Gate,” “Call of the Night,” “Pantheon,” “Joshiraku,” “Vinland Saga,” “Alice in Borderland,” “Made in Abyss” and more.
Best Free Options: Tubi and RetroCrush
Completely free to viewers, Tubi has a solid number of well-known Japanese animation titles in its collection, such as “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” “Fairy Tail,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Lupin the 3rd” and “Dante’s Inferno.”
On the other hand, if you want to watch older titles then we suggest RetroCrush. The free streaming service is centered around vintage anime and has a smaller content library than other services. For instance, RetroCrush has titles like “Blue Seed,” “The Princess and the Pilot,” “City Hunter,” “The Twelve Kingdoms,” “Requiem from the Darkness” and “Demon City Shinjuku.”
RetroCrush also has an ad-free premium subscription for $4.99/month after the 14-day free trial. The premium plan includes exclusives such as “Wicked City,” “Goku Midnight Eye,” “Puppet Princess,” “Angel Cop,” “House of Five Leaves” and “Persia, The Magic Fairy.”
Tesla more than tripled its Austin gigafactory workforce in 2022
Tesla’s 2,500-acre manufacturing hub in Austin, Texas tripled its workforce last year, according to the company’s annual compliance report filed with county officials. Bloomberg first reported on the news.
The report filed with Travis County’s Economic Development Program shows that Tesla increased its Austin workforce from just 3,523 contingent and permanent employees in 2021 to 12,277 by the end of 2022. Bloomberg reports that just over half of Tesla’s workers reside in the county, with the average full-time employee earning a salary of at least $47,147. Outside of Tesla’s factory, the average salary of an Austin worker is $68,060, according to data from ZipRecruiter.
TechCrunch was unable to acquire a copy of the report, so it’s not clear if those workers are all full-time. If they are, Tesla has hired a far cry more full-time employees than it is contracted to do. According to the agreement between Tesla and Travis County, the company is obligated to create 5,001 new full-time jobs over the next four years.
The contract also states that Tesla must invest about $1.1 billion in the county over the next five years. Tesla’s compliance report shows that the automaker last year invested $5.81 billion in Gigafactory Texas, which officially launched a year ago at a “Cyber Rodeo” event. In January, Tesla notified regulators that it plans to invest another $770 million into an expansion of the factory to include a battery cell testing site and cathode and drive unit manufacturing site. With that investment will come more jobs.
Tesla’s choice to move its headquarters to Texas and build a gigafactory there has helped the state lead the nation in job growth. The automaker builds its Model Y crossover there and plans to build its Cybertruck in Texas, as well. Giga Texas will also be a model for sustainable manufacturing, CEO Elon Musk has said. Last year, Tesla completed the first phase of what will become “the largest rooftop solar installation in the world,” according to the report, per Bloomberg. Tesla has begun on the second phase of installation, but already there are reports of being able to see the rooftop from space. The goal is to generate 27 megawatts of power.
Musk has also promised to turn the site into an “ecological paradise,” complete with a boardwalk and a hiking/biking trail that will open to the public. There haven’t been many updates on that front, and locals have been concerned that the site is actually more of an environmental nightmare that has led to noise and water pollution. The site, located at the intersection of State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road, east of Austin, is along the Colorado River and could create a climate catastrophe if the river overflows.
The site of Tesla’s gigafactory has also historically been the home of low-income households and has a large population of Spanish-speaking residents. It’s not clear if the jobs at the factory reflect the demographic population of the community in which it resides.
Launch startup Stoke Space rolls out software tool for complex hardware development
Stoke Space, a company that’s developing a fully reusable rocket, has unveiled a new tool to let hardware companies track the design, testing and integration of parts. The new tool, Fusion, is targeting an unsexy but essential aspect of the hardware workflow.
It’s a solution born out of “ubiquitous pain in the industry,” Stoke CEO Andy Lapsa said in a recent interview. The current parts tracking status quo is marked by cumbersome, balkanized solutions built on piles of paperwork and spreadsheets. Many of the existing tools are not optimized “for boots on the ground,” but for finance or procurement teams, or even the C-suite, Lapsa explained.
In contrast, Fusion is designed to optimize simple inventory transactions and parts organization, and it will continue to track parts through their lifespan: as they are built into larger assemblies and go through testing. In an extreme example, such as hardware failures, Fusion will help teams connect anomalous data to the exact serial numbers of the parts involved.
“If you think about aerospace in general, there’s a need and a desire to be able to understand the part pedigree of every single part number and serial number that’s in an assembly,” Lapsa said. “So not only do you understand the configuration, you understand the history of all of those parts dating back to forever.”
While Lapsa clarified that Fusion is the result of an organic in-house need for better parts management – designing a fully reusable rocket is complicated, after all – turning it into a sell-able product was a decision that the Stoke team made early on. It’s a notable example of a rocket startup generating pathways for revenue while their vehicle is still under development.
Fusion offers particular relevance to startups. Many existing tools are designed for production runs – not the fast-moving research and development environment that many hardware startups find themselves, Lapsa added. In these environments, speed and accuracy are paramount.
Brent Bradbury, Stoke’s head of software, echoed these comments.
“The parts are changing, the people are changing, the processes are changing,” he said. “This lets us capture all that as it happens without a whole lot of extra work.”
Amid a boom in AI accelerators, a UC Berkeley-focused outfit, House Fund, swings open its doors
Companies at the forefront of AI would naturally like to stay at the forefront, so it’s no surprise they want to stay close to smaller startups that are putting some of their newest advancements to work.
Last month, for example, Neo, a startup accelerator founded by Silicon Valley investor Ali Partovi, announced that OpenAI and Microsoft have offered to provide free software and advice to companies in a new track focused on artificial intelligence.
Now, another Bay Area outfit — House Fund, which invests in startups with ties to UC Berkeley — says it is launching an AI accelerator and that, similarly, OpenAI, Microsoft, Databricks, and Google’s Gradient Ventures are offering participating startups free and early access to tech from their companies, along with mentorship from top AI founders and executives at these companies.
We talked with House Fund founder Jeremy Fiance over the weekend to get a bit more color about the program, which will replace a broader-based accelerator program House Fund has run and whose alums include an additive manufacturing software company, Dyndrite, and the managed app development platform Chowbotics, whose most recent round in January brought the company’s total funding to more than $60 million.
For founders interested in learning more, the new AI accelerator program runs for two months, kicking off in early July and ending in early September. Six or so companies will be accepted, with the early application deadline coming up next week on April 13th. (The final application deadline is on June 1.) As for the time commitment involved across those two months, every startup could have a different experience, says Fiance. “We’re there when you need us, and we’re good at staying out of the way.”
There will be the requisite kickoff retreat to spark the program and founders to get to know one another. Candidates who are accepted will also have access to some of UC Berkeley’s renowned AI professors, including Michael Jordan, Ion Stoica, and Trevor Darrell. And they can opt into dinners and events in collaboration with these various constituents.
As for some of the financial dynamics, every startup that goes through the program will receive a $1 million investment on a $10 million post-money SAFE note. Importantly, too, as with the House Fund’s venture dollars, its AI accelerator is seeking startups that have at least one Berkeley-affiliated founder on the co-founding team. That includes alumni, faculty, PhDs, postdocs, staff, students, dropouts, and other affiliates.
There is no demo day. Instead, says Fiance, founders will receive “directed, personal introductions” to the VCs who best fit with their startups.
Given the buzz over AI, the new program could supercharge House Fund, the venture organization, which is already growing fast. Fiance launched it in 2016 with just $6 million and it now manages $300 million in assets, including on behalf of Berkeley Endowment Management Company and the University of California.
At the same time, the competition out there is fierce and growing more so by the day.
Though OpenAI has offered to partner with House Fund, for example, the San Francisco-based company announced its own accelerator back in November. Called Converge, the cohort was to be made up of 10 or so founders who received $1 million each and admission to five weeks of office hours, workshops and other events that ended and that received their funding from the OpenAI Startup Fund.
Y Combinator, the biggest accelerator in the world, is also oozing with AI startups right now, all of them part of a winter class that will be talking directly with investors this week via demo days that are taking place tomorrow, April 5th, and on Thursday.
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