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Written by Anthony Ha

YC-backed Stoic is a journaling app with a focus on understanding your feelings

The process of using the Stoic journaling app is simple: You open the app in the morning and the evening, when you’ll prompted to answer a couple questions and perform a few simple exercises.

For example, this evening the app asked me to rate my current level of fulfillment and to identify what made me smile today, while also pointing me to guided exercises like journaling and breathing.

Stoic is part of the current batch of startups at Y Combinator (it’s taking the stage today at Demo Day). Founder Maciej Lobodzinski told me that his goal is to help users understand the different factors influencing their mental and emotional state.

“The core of the app is: We have this insight and we see what influences your mood and what you feel,” Lobodzinski said. He suggested that this is very different from the “super transactional” idea embedded in my other mental health and wellness apps, where “you pay for my app and you feel better.” In his view, “You should feel how you feel. It’s okay, how you feel, but you should know why you are feeling this way.”

So once there are a couple weeks of data in the app, you should be able to look back and see how you were feeling on a certain day, and if there were activities that made you feel more or less fulfilled. Over time, Lobodzinski hopes to add more insights about “what influenced you, why you feel this way, why you are productive.”

Stoic screen shots

As the name implies, Stoic is inspired by Lobodzinski’s interest in classical Stoic philosophy (he’s not the first to suggest that the approach has direct applications in the tech industry), and the app even includes quotes from Stoic philosophers.

“It’s an extremely practical framework,” he said. “When I talk to users, there are entrepreneurs, investors, traders — people who found out about the app because they were looking for how to deal with their stress …
If you are stressed with your everyday life and you can get the advice of the emperor of Rome, who dealt with much more serious things, it’s amazing how much better you can feel after that.”

At the same time, users have the option to receive quotes from different schools of thought — not just Stoicism but also Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism. For some users, their app experience won’t be explicitly focused on Stoicism, but Lobodzinski said that even then, it forms the “spine” of the app’s approach.

The basic app is free, but Stoic charges $27.99 per year for a premium version that includes iCloud syncing and additional content.

Daily Crunch: Apple Card launches in the U.S.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Apple Card launches today for all US customers, adds 3% cash back for Uber and Uber Eats

Customers can apply for Apple Card through the Wallet app on their iPhones, then start using it via Apple Pay before the physical card arrives in the mail.

Why use the card? One benefit is the ability to track your purchases in an app. Plus, there’s cash back — 2% for Apple Pay purchases, 1% for non-Apple Pay purchases and 3% for purchases on Uber and Uber Eats.

2. Twitter blocks state-controlled media outlets from advertising on its social network

The new policy was announced just hours after the company identified hundreds of accounts linked to China as part of an effort to “sow political discord” around protests in Hong Kong.

3. All 84 startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

There are 197 companies (!) in the summer YC batch, and TechCrunch wrote up all 84 of the ones that presented yesterday.

Starship Technologies delivery robots go to work for Postmates in Washington D.C.

4. Starship Technologies raises $40M, crosses 100K deliveries and plans to expand to 100 new universities

Starship Technologies invented the category of rolling autonomous sidewalk delivery robots.

5. Facebook unveils new tools to control how websites share your data for ad-targeting

Just to be clear: Facebook isn’t deleting the data that a third party might have collected about your behavior. Instead, it’s removing the connection between that data and your personal information on the social network.

6. Without evidence, Trump accuses Google of manipulating millions of votes

The president’s accusation appears to be based on little more than supposition in an old paper reheated by months-old congressional testimony.

7. Revenue-based investing: A new option for founders who care about control

There’s a new wave of investors who use creative deal structures with some of the upside of traditional VC, but some of the downside protection of debt. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

Facebook unveils new tools to control how websites share your data for ad-targeting

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be creating a “Clear History” feature that deletes the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook. Today, the company is actually launching feature in select geographies.

It’s gotten a new name in the meantime: Off-Facebook Activity. David Baser, the director of product management leading Facebook’s privacy and data use team, told me that the name should make it clear to everyone “exactly what kind of data” is being revealed here.

In a demo video, Baser showed me how a user could bring up a list of everyone sending data to Facebook, and then tap on specific app or website to learn what data is being shared. If you decide that you don’t like this data-sharing, you can block it, either on a website and app level, or across-the-board.

Facebook has of course been facing greater scrutiny over data-sharing over the past couple years, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This, along with concerns about misinformation spreading on the platform, has led the company to launch a number of new transparency tools around advertising and content.

In this case, Facebook isn’t deleting the data that a third party might have collected about your behavior. Instead, it’s removing the connection between that data and your personal information on Facebook (any old data associated with an account is deleted as well).

Baser said that disconnecting your off-Facebook activity will have the immediate effect of logging you out of any website or app where you used your Facebook login. More broadly, he argued that maintaining this connection benefits both consumers and businesses, because it leads to more relevant advertising — if you were looking at a specific type of shoe on a retailer’s website, Facebook could then show you ads for those shoes.

Still, Baser said, “We at Facebook want people to know this is happening.” So it’s not hiding these options away deep within a hidden menu, but making them accessible from the main settings page.

He also suggested that no other company has tried to create this kind of “comprehensive surface” for letting users control their data, so Facebook to figure out the right approach that wouldn’t overhwhelm or confuse users. For example, he said, “Every single aspect of this product follows the principle of progressive disclosure” — so you get with a high-level overview at first, but can see more information as you move deeper into the tools.

Facebook says it worked with privacy experts to develop this feature — and behind the scenes, it had to change the way it stores this data to make it viewable and controllable by users.

I asked about whether Facebook might eventually add tools to control certain types of data, like purchase history or location data, but Baser said the company found that “very few people understood the data enough” to want something like that.

“I agree with your instinct, but that’s not the feedback we got,” he said, adding that if there’s significant user demand, “Of course, we’d consider it.”

The Off-Facebook Activity tool is rolling out initially in Ireland, South Korea and Spain before expanding to additional countries.