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bgX Could Be A Blowout Success, And Help Uber, Too

I was in Dubai a couple of weeks ago on business for my new crypto-focused fund. It is one of my favorite cities (although the Internet blocking can be annoying), and each time I visit I receive a warm welcome from friends and friends of friends. This trip was no different.

I tweeted that the highlight of my trip was a visit to local venture capitalists Wamda Capital where I had the opportunity to meet many area entrepreneurs. However, there was another totally serendipitous meeting I had as well, that I was asked not to mention – but I’ve finally convinced the company to let me talk about it a little bit.

The company is called bgX (link will be live shortly if not already). They are a tech spinoff of a local home beauty company called Blowout&Go. I met one of the investors, an American living in Dubai, via an entrepreneur from San Diego. He invited me over to their office and I went.

I didn’t expect much. The company is aimed at the womens’ beauty market, not something I normally consider riveting. It has absolutely nothing to do with crypto-currencies, my current focus.

So I was only half listening for the first few minutes as the CEO and investor were politely walking me through the business. They provide blowouts and makeup for clients, including some of the most famous people in the world when they visit Dubai.

“I’m sorry, what is a blowout?” I asked. They explained the general idea. The company basically offers blow-dry, hair styling and makeup services.

So I’m looking for a quick way to end the conversation and get to that restaurant we were talking about trying out, because I can’t think of much I’d rather do less than talk about hair and makeup stuff.

But I kept listening. And that’s when it got interesting.

First, the company is expanding to Europe, like right now. There will be a ton of press about them soon. It’s not a Dubai startup, it’s a world startup that just happened to start in Dubai. Also the founders are a husband and wife team with a fascinating background, but that’s for another time.

Second, the logistics around the business are cool. Super cool.

Today when women want these services they generally go to a salon. The very wealthy have people come to them to do hair and makeup before events, of course.

bgX is bringing these services directly to your home or hotel. A hair person and a makeup person comes. They work on you simultaneously and apparently that’s a big deal and increases efficiency. But it’s not what I found most interesting.

No, what I love is two things. First, the people they bring are from local salons – existing businesses. This brings new customers to existing salons. bgX simply delivers these people directly to the customer instead of the customer coming to the salon.

It’s that part about delivering the service providers to the customers on demand that’s the second interesting thing. This is a really hard thing to do. bgX could hire drivers to move people around, but that’s expensive and makes expanding geographically more costly and slow. They could rely on people moving themselves around, but that would risk loss of control and these guys are laser focused on quality and process control.

What the company basically wanted was a way to engage ride hail or fleet drivers but on an API level, and invisible to the end user who just wants hair and makeup people to show up at their house. So without Uber’s permission they found a way to use the Uber service in their own app via existing but unpublished Uber APIs. Then they approached Uber for permission and to Uber’s credit were given an enthusiastic yes.

Uber of course is already using their own service as a sort of utility for things like Uber Eats and the newly announced Uber Health. This is the first time that I’ve heard about a third party using Uber as an invisible transportation utility in that third party’s service.

As an Uber investor, I LOVE THIS. Uber is great as a consumer brand and is becoming ubiquitous around the world. But having it be an invisible but super useful back end transportation utility for third party apps and services will help cement it and beat upstart competitors. When a company needs to quickly expand to big worldwide cities, instead of working with a different local Uber competitor in each city they can just work with Uber and it’ll work in each of those cities. It’s an exploitation of the network effect and one of the main ways that Uber can stay ahead of the competition.

But back to bgX. Not only is it great that they will be the first company using Uber in this way, but it also provides them with an easy way to expand to additional services if they want (think in home haircuts, massage, etc.) I’d much rather use one service for all of my home delivery needs than ten different ones, and I think there is a chance that bgX could go in that direction.

First, of course, they will need to conquer the hair and makeup markets. They are launching in Paris and London soon. Keep an eye out for press.

The Real History Of TechCrunch

Update: Keith and I have had a private email exchange and conversation about this. With his permission I’ve included his email in full below this post. I don’t agree with parts of it but we have come to a general agreement on a key issue. Keith will refer to himself as a “Founding Shareholder” in the future instead of a co-founder and will ask companies he is advising to update their websites and documents accordingly. I can live with this compromise and appreciate his willingness to figure this out.

“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan”

If you’ve founded a company, or created something else in your life, you know the emotional attachment that people have to those things. It is part of who you are, part of your history. It helped define the person you are now, in large ways or small. You also understand the amount of labor and emotion people put into their creations, sometimes over years.

If someone comes and takes credit for what you’ve built, it can be painful. If they take credit for what you’ve built to enrich themselves, it can be even more painful. If they are enriching themselves in a way that hurts others, it can be too much.

What Keith Teare is doing is too much.

The backstory of TechCrunch is described here on the TechCrunch site. In June of 2005 I founded TechCrunch. At the time I was working with Keith Teare on another project called Edgeio, a company that he founded. Keith had set up a holding company for what he planned to be a number of companies. He asked me to work with him on Edgeio and possibly other companies he was to start.

I agreed and began working with him. Soon afterwards I decided to start a blog to talk about some of the amazing companies being founded in Silicon Valley and around the world. I spoke to Keith about it and asked for his help. He declined, saying it was a waste of time and suggested I focus on Edgeio. I said I was going to do it anyway, and started writing on a WordPress site that I named TechCrunch. As TechCrunch grew he quickly recognized the value of being attached to it, and started hanging out at my house and at meetups. Unfortunately though I could never get him to write anything, or help pay any bills, or do much of anything. Time went on.

After six months or so Keith claimed he owned 75% of TechCrunch because that was the equity split on Edgeio. I objected obviously, and it nearly came to litigation. Ultimately Keith knew I could just walk away from it all and TechCrunch would lose all its value, so he relented and I agreed to pay Keith 10% of any value I received in the company eventually to avoid litigation. But he never invested any time or money, or took a paycheck, and he never worked for the company in any way. He took, but he never gave.

Keith has been expanding the myth of his contributions and role at TechCrunch ever since those early days, even (repeatedly) telling people that he founded TechCrunch and hired me to write it. When he thinks I’m paying attention he just says he’s the cofounder and that we started it together. It was annoying but, whatever. Other than scamming some money out of some conferences over the years who paid him to come as the “founder of TechCrunch” not much damage was done. I pitied him, and didn’t object. I sometimes even went along with it and let him say whatever he wanted because I was too busy with my life to object. That was a mistake, as I’ve watched Keith exaggerate his contributions to TechCrunch over the years until I’m not even sure he remembers what he actually contributed – nothing of substance.

As part of that 2005 discussion with Keith, I agreed to list him as an “editor” on the site even though he never wrote anything, and also mention his holding company Archimedes Ventures. It was very important to Keith to show some connection to the company, and now Keith likes to point to this old page when disputing his relationship to TechCrunch. I find this sad. Yes I knew Keith when I started TechCrunch and yes he had every opportunity to contribute to the project, but he never did any of the hard work needed to build a company.

But more recently Keith has gotten into the cryptocurrency world, and he has been wholesale selling out to advise, from what I can tell, over a dozen companies during their token sales. Sometimes they list him as the founder of TechCrunch (as above), sometimes as the cofounder.

Nearly every week, and at an increasing rate, I’m receiving questions or comments from people asking what my connection is to some ICO I’ve never heard of. Invariably these companies list that a founder or cofounder of TechCrunch is advising. Since I am the founder of TechCrunch, people get confused and reach out to me.

This is creating significant confusion in the marketplace and these companies or projects are misleading investors, sometimes purposefully.

As we’ve all seen, the SEC is taking a long look at a lot of ICOs that happened over the last year. I’m still gathering information on all of the ones that list Keith as a founder or cofounder of TechCrunch, and my lawyer will be reaching out to all of them to ask that they correct their documents and notify token holders. I’m also asking Keith to cease stating that he founded or cofounded TechCrunch, and donate any tokens or currency he has received while saying he did so to a mutually agreeable charity.

And to Keith I’ll say this…Please stop doing this. It isn’t honest to claim that you had anything (positive) at all to do with TechCrunch. If you had helped even a tiny bit during those early days I would gladly give you credit as I do with the whole amazing team that helped build that company. But you thought it was all a stupid idea until you didn’t, and even then you just tried to take credit without ever actually helping in any material way. Please stop. You’ve done interesting things in your career. You don’t need to take the things I’ve done, claim credit and use them to prey on unwitting investors, just for a few extra dollars in advisor tokens.

As a final note, I want to add that if anyone was a “cofounder” of TechCrunch it was Heather Harde. She joined in 2007 but she was in the trenches with the team until the very end, working 20 hour days, sacrificing her personal life and giving everything she had to make the company what it was. Heather never sells herself like Keith does, but she should. Unlike Keith, she helped build that company, and gave way more value than she ever took.


Dear Mike

I read your uncrunched piece today with a mixture of sadness and shock, and like you, probably a bit of anger.

I want to respond to you privately here and if you wish you can publish it and comment.

But first I want to say that my goal in doing that is to act like a friend who cares about preserving long held relationships.

I clearly have a different understanding than you of both the course of events and also my motivations. I know that isn’t a surprise, but actually if you peel away the anger we are actually quite close in our understanding.

Why do I say that?

Firstly – I give you all of the credit for TechCrunch. As the history bellow will show, I did not build it and even suggested you should not do it. I did help you – a lot. But you have always given credit for that, just not in this piece of writing.

Secondly – I do not, and would not, seek to claim credit for your work at TechCrunch. My linkedin – which I wrote a long time ago – is clear on that point.

“I co-founded TechCrunch through my friendship and business partnership with Michael Arrington. We started edgeio and TechCrunch simultaneously whilst cooperating through Archimedes Ventures LLC. I can’t claim a lot of credit for TechCrunch … I’m the one who advised him not to do it :-). I hope I helped Mike get to the point where he wanted to do it, and was able to help him be successful.” (

Finally, I do not want any of my activities related to ICOs to be based on any false credit for TechCrunch.

So the only thing we actually disagree on is the history. I say I was the co-founder of TechCrunch. You say not. That may be just words. If you are saying I didn’t build TechCrunch you are 100% right. If you say I was not a founding shareholder I have to disagree. It may be a small difference.

Possibly if I say “Founding shareholder” and not “co-founder” that would settle a very hurtful episode. I certainly want to be accurate, and I certainly do not wish to harm you. I’d like to believe we can put this behind us.

That said, why do I think co-founder is the right term? What was the history as I see it?

We formed Archimedes Ventures LLC in 2005 after completing a stint consulting at VeriSign together (we had known each other for about 8 years by then). Archimedes was an LLC with a Web 2.0 goal.

At that time we were partners in an LLC. As you say in your piece we were 75-25.

At the time you were quite insistent that we could not do anything independently. In other words, you would get 25% of everything we did. I agreed happily. I loved working with you and it seemed fair.

Shortly afterwards you started as a blog – you called me from LA and were pretty excited about it. I tried to talk you out of it but you were insistent and so it went ahead and I backed you despite thinking there were bigger fish to fry. As the web site from 2005 says, it became part of Archimedes Ventures LLC.

TechCrunch started small, and at the time I definitely believed it was too small to be taking all of your time. Despite that I was very supportive. I spoke with you about it often, and attended every Meetup, including the first, second, third etc, often to flip burgers for the attendees.

A little later we started edgeio. This is the first blog post about edgeio – And this is when we sold it – where you describe it as:

“Edgeio, a company I co-founded in 2005”

Edgeio got funded and you and I were co-founders, me with 75% of the founders stock and you with 25%, reflecting our agreement in Archimedes. TechCrunch was not funded, and was not formed as a corporation at that point, but we both understood it to have the same ownership.

As TechCrunch grew, due to your efforts, you clearly felt that my ownership position was inappropriate. You made the point that you could always start something else. I don’t recall any legal threats at all. At that time we met and we agreed we should fix the ownership. I was more than willing to do so as TechCrunch was clearly mainly benefitting from your effort. The 75-25 made no sense given the situation. We eventually shook hands on 90%-10% of shares in your favor. You kept your 25% in edgeio and you were always credited with being co-founder.

That is my thoughts Mike.

If we can agree to use a term to explain my relationship to TechCrunch that does not take away the enormous credit you get for building it I would be happy to try and correct that. Maybe “founding shareholder”. I do think we should remove hurtful Tweets and put this behind us. Friendship is not the same as the unconditional love one gives a child, but it is pretty unconditional in our case. I would like to remain a friend and have you be mine too.

Best Regards

Keith Teare
Chat with me instantly at

The Venture Capitalists Behind Superfish

Lots of people are talking about the Superfish malware debacle. People are starting to understand just how bad this situation is.

What I haven’t seen so far why venture capitalists would have backed such a startup.

Superfish investors, board members and advisors include Andrea Stavopouslos (Draper Fisher Jurvestson), Abe Finkelstein (Vintage Investment Partners), Anat Segal (Xenia Venture Capital), Shai Saul (DFJ again) and others.

The company has raised a total of nearly $20 million in venture capital, from people I interact with all the time.

Superfish tells the world they’re a simple visual search startup.

Did these VCs and other individuals, who are on the board of directors and board of advisors, know the truth about Superfish?

If they did, it’s bad. If they didn’t, it’s also bad.

Other startups that use the same SSL intercept module from Komodia include Lavasoft (a free antivirus provider) (now you know why the antivirus is free).

I’d like to see the tech press dig into this. And the venture capitalists involved, particularly the board members, should talk about what they knew and didn’t know.

We Deserve A Better Bitcoin Experience Than Circle

I finally got around to trying out Circle today. Boy it’s bad. Particularly for a company that has raised $26 million.

This is a space we’re interested in at CrunchFund, and are looking for who might be the breakout winners.

Circle is supposed to be a dead simple Bitcoin wallet and money transfer service. But here’s my experience:

1. I created an account and tried to add my bank account and credit card to deposit money into the system (as Bitcoin). I had to give a lot of personal information. And I had to take a photo of my drivers license. And then I had to take a selfie.

2. I don’t have a huge problem with that since these kinds of services are a huge fraud magnet. But Circle said they needed time to review the information. and here’s the problem, they basically (kind of) shut down my account while they were doing that.

3. This is a bad idea. Why? Because they didn’t actually tell me they were suspending my account. A helpful feature showed me how to receive Bitcoin and so I copied the wallet address and sent myself a Bitcoin from another wallet. I thought, hey, I can still use the service while they figure out my banking situation.

4. The Bitcoin transfer went through and was confirmed in the blockchain. But over at Circle I showed no pending transactions and no confirmed transactions…for hours. No messages that my account was suspended, or why fraud prevention would require them to accept a bitcoin transfer to the address they supplied me but not to tell me about it, even as pending.

5. Then things got weird. When I logged into the mobile app (remember, after I had a confirmed Bitcoin transaction) I saw this:


No sign of the Bitcoin received, either pending or confirmed. But also no suggestion that the account is suspended.

So I logged in from my laptop. And I see this:


Circle actually kicked me out completely with the message “Additional Review Needed”.

But what about that Bitcoin I transferred to the account? It’s clear from the message above that something is very wrong with my account, but that Bitcoin is gone? Where is that Bitcoin? Maybe they shouldn’t have supplied me with a wallet address before they knew if they wanted me as a customer?

6. Meanwhile my friend Nik Cubrilovic tried to send me Bitcoin through Circle and had his own terrible experience, which you can see here. Here’s the tl;dr of that experience:


On the upside Circle wouldn’t let him transfer money into the black hole that is my account. But it was certainly an awful user experience, and an unnecessary one. Just because my selfie wasn’t well lighted enough isn’t a good reason to stop a bitcoin-bitcoin transaction. The account verification stuff is to stop me from moving $ into their network fraudulently, which isn’t happening here.

7. So I go to dinner. Two hours and a bit of Twitter bitching later my account has been un-suspended and I can add my credit card to purchase my weekly limit of $100 worth of Bitcoin. So I do that, and make the purchase. And then I get this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.25.29 PM

Overall, I rate Circle zero stars.

Update: Visa has now shut down the credit card I used with Circle. So mare hassle.

I’d like a combined ebook/audio book product

Just finished reading about a fairly stupid new book scanning product from Amazon and it reminded me of a product I’d actually really like to have – books that comes in both ebook (text) and audio formats, with tracking and the ability to switch back and forth at will.

I read most of my books on my iPhone 6 plus now. Before that was an iPad. I also listen to audio books in the car and on walks. But sometimes it takes me months to finish a book in the car @ 13-20 hours of audio, and whatever book I’m listening to there in the car is of course a different book than the one I’m reading on my iPhone.

I’d pay a big premium for a combined book format that had both text and audio and allowed me to switch back and forth while reading/listening. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

MTailor Launches on Android. Get Yourself A Perfect Shirt.

mtailorUp until now only iPad/iPhone people could use MTailor, the app that uses your mobile device to scan you more perfectly than any tailor ever could, and have shirts made to your exact measurements.

I last wrote about them in December when CrunchFund invested. Since then they’ve sold a LOT of shirts.

They haven’t started offering pants or suits yet, but once they do they’ll already have your measurements.

People on Android devices were frustrated that they couldn’t use MTailor. Now they won’t be frustrated any more. Get the Android MTailor app here. It launches today.

The Conference In Detroit


Detroit. It was once the factory of America.

No more. For most of us, Detroit has been a city in decline for much or all of our lives. The population has declined rapidly, and everyone has seen the images of abandoned buildings, drug violence and abject poverty.

In other words, Detroit is the perfect place to begin anew. There is an energy there as people begin to rebuild. A willingness to experiment. A stubbornness to succeed.

Tech startups can play a pivotal role in rebuilding, but infrastructure is needed. We are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of Detroit based startups looking for venture capital, and there are more venture funds looking to invest there (as well as a few Detroit-based funds looking to make most of their investments in the area).

But there’s more to do. People (like me) who don’t live there need to spend more time there getting to know the community. People in Detroit need to have more places to exchange ideas, and meet outsiders.

That is why I am so happy to be a part of the new reBOOT Detroit tech conference later this year (May 16-19). Other early speakers who have committed to attend include Robert Scoble, Catherine Bracy and Dave McClure. Many more will be added.

This will be a grande conference, complete with hackathon, modeled after TechCrunch Disrupt.

I hope to see you there. Buy tickets here. And I’ll be giving out a handful of free tickets soon as well.

The Ethics Of Publishing Hacked Information

Like many people I’ve been fascinated by the Sony hacks. So much interesting information (and gossip) about the inner workings of a major movie studio.

I was also waiting for Sony to start balking at the re-publication of a lot of that information by the news sites. And sure enough, they’re now calling it stolen information, and threatening publications that are sharing it with the public.

It reminds me distinctly of the situation we found ourselves in in 2009 when a hacker delivered a truckload of internal Twitter information. See In Our Inbox: Hundreds Of Confidential Twitter Documents. See the updates to that post for how it all played out.

Twitter also halfheartedly threatened to sue us over the publication of that information, although we felt that we were on pretty firm legal ground in moving forward. People were both fascinated with the information, and enraged that we would publish it. Some comments we received:

I think it is unbelievable that we are able to read this documents. This could very well be one of the most powerful internet companies since Google and Facebook and here we are reading their private company notes.

Posting any of the information is unethical. The information is stolen property of a legal company, and releasing that information to the public without the consent of said company is quite unethical. Releasing business strategies and funding information could also be the basis for unknown lawsuits due to damage caused to the company by early release of this confidential information. Its so nice to see that ethics are no longer ethical.

You are receiving stolen property, pure and simple. Now, I have a different perspective on this many others – I was an investigative reporter for many years. Many times, I had people offer me documents. However, a private company’s document are different matter. There is no “public right to know” what a private company’s plans are. The hacker stole them, pure and simple.

What you have done by posting this information is no different than “fencing” stolen merchandise of any kind. Using anything illegally obtained for personal gain is not right! Furthermore, it encourages more criminal activity (theft) and makes it “OK”.


We actually held back the personal and/or embarrassing information we had, because we thought it was the right thing to do.

In this case, the press is actually focusing on the really embarrassing stuff, the private emails that show drama between actors, directors, studio execs, etc.

Still, I don’t think there’s much of an ethical or legal question here (other than the distribution of the movies, which is a clear copyright issue). The data is out there and it’s going to be talked about. No matter how many threatening letters Sony sends.

And I see little or no public outrage over any of it.

The upside from situations like this is that companies might take security more seriously than before, and that’s a good thing.

MTailor: The Perfectly Tailored Man’s Shirt

mtailorMTailor, one of our recent investments at CrunchFund, is a really amazing company.

They make tailored shirts for men, except your mobile device is the tailor. You go through a quick scanning process that involves leaning your phone or tablet against a wall and then spinning slowly in front of it. Once that’s done MTailor has your measurements, which they say are 20% better than actual tailors they used for a study.

I’ve never owned tailored shirts but I should have. I have a longer body than average and generally buy tall shirts when I can find them. That’s been harder with dress shirts over the years, and I generally just make do with what I can find. With MTailor though, it’s not an issue.

Once you have your measurements you can choose the type of shirt you want (collar, cuff, cut) and the fabric. I’ve now bought five of them (I couldn’t resist the recently added “Blue and Bronze Paisley”), and will order more soon. The great thing is that you only have to measure the first time, after that you just order the shirts you want.

The return policy is awesome. If you don’t like something about the shirt they’ll redo it for you for free. And if you’re still not happy they’ll refund your money (and you can keep the shirt). Based on my experience, though, you’ll be very happy the first time.

Get $20 off by using the code sdjoydlq. It also makes a great holiday gift.

“Time Collapse” And My Broken Brain

I was perusing the news headlines this evening and I noticed this article about Glenn Beck’s health troubles.

A few sentences early on in the article floored me, because it describes how I feel exactly:

“Doctors tell me that up until recently, I hadn’t had a real REM sleep in maybe as long as a decade,” Beck said. “I didn’t have a dream that I remember, except one in a decade. And quite honestly, this isn’t a symptom you look to fix if you have a ton to do. But the first sign of trouble I noticed was what I call a ‘time collapse.’ If we had met before, I couldn’t tell you if it was a month ago, a year ago or when we were in high school. I then began to lose names to faces and over time, entire conversations would go away.”

Beck said doctors told him it was normal for someone processing as much information as he was, and the phenomenon has been discussed by figures like Winston Churchill.

“While essential facts remained, life became fuzzy,” Beck continued.

I also had sleep issues and in 2010, six years into TechCrunch, I began having these vertigo attacks that would knock me out for up to 48 hours. I went to a sleep center and my sleep improved dramatically; the vertigo attacks stopped by mid 2012.

I also looked back at an article about my life in 2010 in Inc. Magazine tonight. By then I had had a big weight gain while overseeing TechCrunch, and I’m sure that it was all related – a cycle of stress/weight gain/sleeping disorders that fed on itself until I left TechCrunch. My body fell apart shortly after that interview for Inc.

None of that is particularly interesting, though. Stress and all the negative health issues that come with it are a common topic on Hacker News and other tech water coolers.

Time Collapse

But I keep going back to that part about Beck where he talks about memory issues, possibly caused by or related to the amount of information he was processing.

After years running TechCrunch I began to notice significant short term memory loss.

I mentioned it in the Inc. article – “But then at some point in the past year, I suddenly lost my short-term memory,”

But over time it’s become much worse. I have significant trouble putting faces with names, and my memory loss is becoming so obvious to family and coworkers that it’s become sort of a joke.

I can remember conversations, or doing things, but I often can’t recall if they happened today, or last week, or even sometimes last year. It’s near universal, and unless I make a significant effort to really put an experience into “long term memory” as it happens, it just sort of fades away.

These things tend to creep up on you and it isn’t something I’ve thought about much until tonight when I read that Beck article, but it really does seem to be getting worse. Or perhaps just not getting better.

There are lots of ways I compensate. Like taking copious notes when I never used to write any. A lot of times I just accept it for what it is.

Beck calls it a “time collapse” and that really is a good way to describe what I feel. He links the issues to “processing as much information as he was” and that feels right, too.

“While essential facts remained, life became fuzzy,” he says. This, again, describes much of the last several years of my life perfectly.

While running TechCrunch I was processing a lot of information. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before or after. I don’t think I could exaggerate this – “a lot” as in all-caps “A LOT.” Thousands of startups, many thousands of entrepreneurs and sources, and keeping all the details and interconnections straight. There’s a reason I started CrunchBase, to keep all that information organized.

Beck says that it took five years for his mind to recover. I’m about three years post-TechCrunch now. I hope that things will be getting better. Family and friends will certainly appreciate it.

PS – Beck says that Winston Churchill and others have discussed this, but a few minutes searching has turned up nothing. If anyone is familiar with “time collapse” or whatever it’s properly called, I’d love to read more.

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