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On the one hand, we could be upset that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but the sun hasn’t come out where Christine lives for several days, so she’s pretty stoked that wherever Phil lives has a ray of sunshine or two. In other news, Haje has to move house due to a flooded apartment, weather is real, and perhaps it’s time we start taking climate change seriously, y’all.
Meanwhile, for today’s Black History Month recommendation, we’re watching Angela Davis talking about how we can’t eradicate racism without eradicating racial capitalism.  — Christine and Haje
Lex, the hookup and social app that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian personal ads from the ’80s, is changing. Only, precisely how much will change is still an open question, Harri writes. Sure, the venture-backed startup behind the queer app gave it a new lick of paint last week, but in refocusing on “friends and community,” some users fear that Lex will also scrub away its beloved raunchy essence. “Keep Lex filthy,” the users are chanting.
The growing ease with which anyone can create convincing audio in someone else’s voice has a lot of people on edge, and rightly so, Devin writes. Resemble AI’s proposal for watermarking generated speech may not fix it in one go, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Here’s another bucket o’ stories for your reading joy:

Seven different drinking straws in a cup

Image Credits: Richard 0rury (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Image Credits: Richard 0rury (opens in a new window) / Getty Images
Offering a free sample in the hopes that the recipient becomes a paying customer is a core tactic at food courts, cosmetic counters, and inside software startups.
Freemium products are everywhere, but unless companies revisit and optimize their strategy, there’s no effective way to optimize conversions.
“Enabling freemium, especially for established products, can bring organizational and operational challenges even if it adds value to the business,” writes Konstantin Valiotti, product director of growth at PandaDoc.
In this article, he presents strategies for optimizing:
Optimizing freemium products: Challenges and opportunities

Three more from the TC+ team:
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Samsung, Google and Qualcomm are poised to take us in and out of reality, Ivan writes. The trio is making a mixed-reality platform that Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon described as “a new era of highly immersive digital experiences that blur the line between our physical and digital worlds. With our Snapdragon XR tech, Samsung’s amazing products, and Google experiences, we have the foundation to make this opportunity a reality.”
As a follow-up to his Apple HomePod review, Brian spoke to the company’s hardware VP, Matthew Costello, to discuss Apple’s approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
There’s going to be six more weeks of winter, so how about six more stories?

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