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Uber Eats launches a TikTok-like video feed to boost discovery | TechCrunch

Uber Eats is launching a TikTok-like short-form video feed to boost discovery and help restaurants showcase their dishes. Uber Eats’ senior director of Product, Awaneesh Verma, told TechCrunch exclusively in an interview that the new feed is being tested in New York, San Francisco and Toronto. The company plans to launch the feed worldwide in the future.

With this launch, Uber Eats now joins numerous other popular apps that have launched their own short-form video feeds following TikTok’s rise in popularity, including Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Netflix to name a few. TechCrunch also recently learned that LinkedIn has started experimenting with its own TikTok-like feed.

The new Uber Eats short-form videos are visible in carousels placed across the app, including the homescreen. Once you click on a video preview, you will enter into a vertical feed of short-form content that you can swipe through. You will only see content from restaurants that are close enough to deliver to you.

Verma says the feed is designed to replicate the experience of being in a restaurant in person and seeing people preparing food and being inspired to try something new. As you swipe through the feed, you may come across a video of an ice cream shop preparing a Nutella milkshake, or a video of an Indian restaurant packing rice separately from curry so it doesn’t get soggy by the time it gets delivered to your house.

“The early data shows people are much more confident trying new dishes and trying things that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Verma said. “Even little things like being able to see texture, and the details of what a portion size looks like, or what’s in a dish, has been really inspiring for our users.”

Image Credits: Uber Eats

Uber Eats notes that the videos aren’t ads, as the company isn’t charging merchants for the content placements.

Many restaurants run social media accounts on apps like Instagram and TikTok to reach new customers and showcase their food using short-form videos. By allowing merchants to share short-form videos directly in the Uber Eats app, the company is helping restaurants reach customers directly as they decide what to order. As for consumers, many people already use social media to discover new places and dishes to try, so Uber Eats likely hopes that its new feed will encourage users to try to find inspiration directly within its own app.

Some users might not see the launch as a welcome addition to the app, as they may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different short-form video feeds in popular apps. While it may make sense to have short-form video feeds in entertainment and social media apps, the introduction of one in a food-delivery app may not be a favorable choice for some.

Verma also shared that in order to further support merchants, the company has revamped its Uber Eats Manager software and added personalized growth recommendations. The software is now capable of encouraging restaurants to grow their business by doing things like running a promotion on a certain dish or adding photos to menu listings.

In addition, the company is going to launch an entirely new app for restaurant managers this summer that is designed to make it easier for restaurants to be more proactive on the go. For instance, the app could alert a restaurant manager that their store is having issues or that they may want to boost sales with new ads.

Uber Eats announced on Monday that it now has more than 1 million merchants around the world on its platform, across 11,000 cities in six continents.

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Isomorphic inks deals with Eli Lilly and Novartis for drug discovery | TechCrunch

Isomorphic Labs, the London-based, drug discovery-focused spin-out of Google AI R&D division DeepMind, today announced that it’s entered into strategic partnerships with two pharmaceutical giants, Eli Lilly and Novartis, to apply AI to discover new medications to treat diseases.

The deals have a combined value of around $3 billion. Isomorphic will receive $45 million upfront from Eli Lilly and potentially up to $1.7 billion based on performance milestones, excluding royalties. Novartis, meanwhile, will pay $37.5 million upfront in addition to funding “select” research costs and as much as $1.2 billion (once again excluding royalties) in performance incentives over time.

“We’re thrilled to embark on this partnership and apply our proprietary technology platform,” DeepMind co-founder and Isomorphic CEO Demis Hassabis was quote as saying in a press release. “The focus we share on advancing groundbreaking drug design approaches and appreciation of state-of-the-art science makes [these] partnership[s] particularly compelling.”

Fiona Marshall, president of biomedical research at Novartis, added in a statement: “Cutting-edge AI technologies … hold the potential to transform how we discover new drugs and accelerate our ability to deliver life-changing medicines for patients. This collaboration harnesses our companies’ unique strengths, from AI and data science to medicinal chemistry and deep disease area expertise, to realize new possibilities in AI-driven drug discovery.”

Isomorphic, which Hassabis launched in 2021 under DeepMind parent company Alphabet, draws on DeepMind’s AlphaFold 2 AI technology that can be used to predict the structure of proteins in the human body. By uncovering these structures, researchers can identify new target pathways to deliver drugs for fighting disease.

Researchers recently used AlphaFold to design and synthesize a potential drug to treat hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of primary liver cancer. And DeepMind is collaborating with Geneva-based Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, a nonprofit pharmaceutical organization that aims to tackle some of the most deadly diseases in the developing world, to apply AlphaFold to formulating therapeutics for Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis.

The latest version of AlphaFold can generate predictions for nearly all molecules in the Protein Data Bank, the world’s largest open access database of biological molecules, DeepMind announced in late October. The model can also accurately predict the structures of ligands — molecules that bind to “receptor” proteins and cause changes in how cells communicate — as well as nucleic acids (molecules that contain key genetic information) and post-translational modifications (chemical changes that occur after a protein’s created).

Already, Isomorphic is applying the new AlphaFold model, which it co-designed with DeepMind, to therapeutic drug design, helping to characterize different types of molecular structures important for treating disease.

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