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Photo: Mmhmm

Mmhmm, the video startup from former Evernote CEO Phil Libin, is ready for prime time. The service is launching publicly today after a private beta involving tens of thousands of testers.

Why it matters: The difficult-to-pronounce startup is one of a number of efforts designed to make video conferencing more interesting than it is today.

How it works: Mmhmm provides a variety of tools that can be used in prerecorded or live video, allowing presenters to put up graphics, a la Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, among other tricks.The project began as something of a joke, Libin said, but got really serious amid the pandemic as workers started spending more and more time on Zoom and other conferencing services.

  • "There’s going to be a lot of technology that tries to make the situation not quite as bad," Libin said. While some people are born performers, Libin said, not everyone has those skills, leading to a lot of very dreary meetings over video. "We're trying to reinsert some of the charisma, some of the personality into our video lives."
  • Early users include founders seeking to raise money, teachers looking to engage remote students and even churches and synagogues looking to add flair to online worship.
  • Libin has raised more than $35 million for Mmhmm, including $5 million for his startup studio All Turtles, where the video service was incubated.

Between the lines: The goal is to augment, rather than replace, the current generation of video conferencing. But Libin says if he is successful, he would like to replace the endless slides that were the bane of pre-COVID meetings."We want to finally murder PowerPoint," he said.Libin said a lot of the ideas for Mmhmm came from his thinking on how the world will evolve once augmented-reality glasses go mainstream. It occurred to him, he said, that some of the same approaches that could work in our AR future are possible today using a traditional PC and monitor.The big picture: Hybrid and fully remote work will remain significant even after pandemic fears subside, Libin said, creating a trillion-dollar opportunity for tools that enable such work.

  • Mmhmm isn't alone in targeting video conferencing as ripe for improvement. In addition to well-known players like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Cisco's WebEx, startups are trying to find novel approaches or niche markets to corner.
  • The big players, meanwhile, are also trying to offer specialized versions for different industries. Cisco, for example, has a custom version of WebEx designed for governments, while others are targeting health care and other markets with specialized regulations and needs.

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Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.