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Austin-based, kid-friendly streaming service Tankee sees success in pandemic as families spend more time at home
This summer doesn't look much like last summer for a lot of kids.
Camps are allowed to operate, but not all of them will; pools are up and running, but reservations and masks are required; and of course they're coming off months of at-home learning in a pandemic that is, for some, providing an excellent excuse to spend more time on their primary obsession: playing video games or watching other people play them via streaming services.
All that time at home for kids has been an opportunity for Tankee, an Austin-based streaming video platform that offers a large library of content geared toward children of all ages. That library includes lots of walkthroughs/tutorials from top gamers about Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite as well as videos from influencers with their own massive following, such as Eh Bee Family and Thinknoodles.
Before the pandemic, users typically watched about an hour per day on average, with a noticeable spike on the weekends during the school year.
"What we've seen [since the pandemic hit] is the weekend has become every day," said founder and CEO Gerald Youngblood, who cited a 500% uptick in consumption as of May.
A parent's perspective
Part of that success can be attributed to Tankee launching on Roku and Comcast's Xfinity set-top boxes. But Youngblood, who is also a parent, said it's also because the platform provides a safe place, which isn't always true of other streaming services.
"Parents tend to do one of two things. Either they tell their kids to turn up the volume in case a swear word comes up, or they're hovering behind them watching over their shoulders," he said. "But the whole time parents are doing this, they're not actually doing other things, right? They're not reading their book, washing the dishes, or [working]."
Monitoring what's being watched online can be quite a challenge for parents who are weary of inappropriate content on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. He launched the company in 2018 after recognizing many popular streaming platforms were exhausting to police for young eyes.
"With YouTube you don't know what that next video is going to be. Even if you feel comfortable about what they're watching, you don't know what the next video will be," he explained. "And it's far too easy for kids to get into things that are not just inappropriate, but damaging."
All the videos on Tankee's platform are screened by a team of curators, and about a third of its library is produced in-house.
The big questions
NEW Germ-Busting Video now on Tankee from our friends at @KUncomplicated to remind kids how to stay safe during the… https://t.co/K7NulAUUIF— Tankee - Kids Gaming Network (@Tankee - Kids Gaming Network)1585238222.0
Youngblood said he feels strongly about including content about important issues like the pandemic, and serious topics like systemic racism and the police protests happening in Austin and all around the country.
The pandemic led Tankee to produce videos that went over best practices for social distancing, hand washing, and more. It was done in an animated video so that the topic wasn't so ominous or scary for children.
Youngblood said producing content that's a good fit for the platform's young audience is the key, which meant that tackling racism required a different strategy. "Injustice and brutality is a much tougher thing for us to address on the platform," he said.
"As a Black founder, it's really important to me that we don't overwhelm kids with things that they are going to struggle to understand or make them fearful of the world. So we're taking a different approach, looking at ways to infuse more positivity with a message that they have value and to be kind to one another," he said.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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