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    Expense management software provider Certify is beefing up its artillery against rival Concur with the acquisition of Abacus, which enables companies to deal with expenses in real time. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. The addition of Abacus will help Certify, which includes other expense management solutions like Nexonia and ExpenseWatch under one umbrella, become a stronger rival to SAP-owned Concur by reaching new customer segments.

    Founded by Omar Qari, Josh Halickman and Ted Power, Abacus says it was the first real-time expense reporting solution on the market when it launched in 2013. The Y Combinator alum, whose investors included General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, currently counts 1,000 customers. Its team will join Certify and the Abacus product will continue to be independent.

    Expenses are a bane for everyone involved: the employees who need to turn in receipts, the managers who have to approve them and everyone in the finance department who needs to reconcile corporate credit cards and make sure company policy is followed. Abacus eases their pain with features like automatic expense suggestions and Slack integration for employees.

    For companies, it lets them set prompts to enforce spending limits and make sure details, like client names, are filled in correctly. If expenses need to be approved by specific managers or departments, Abacus routes them to the right person. Real-time analytics also help companies make quick budget decisions.

    Abacus’ clients include Betterment, Dropbox, GLG and North American Substation Services. In an email, Qari, the CEO of Abacus, told TechCrunch that Abacus is a good fit for “companies that need out-of-the-box flexibility in approval flows, spending controls and ERP sync.”

    For example, he said North American Substation Services, which provides installation, repair and maintenance work for high-voltage stations, uses Abacus to speed up its account receivables by billing back expenses closer to when they actually happened, while Dropbox chose Abacus to reimburse interview candidates more quickly.

    Certify was acquired by K1 Investment Management last year and combined with expense management software providers Nexonia, ExpenseWatch and Tallie to serve a total of 10,000 businesses. Certify says this makes it the largest competitor to Concur.

    Each brand operates independently, serving its own niche, like Abacus will. Qari said that “in a prospect overlap analysis, we found hardly any opportunities are common across the portfolio, highlighting how unique each brand’s segment is. The expense management industry’s typical customer profile is fairly fragmented, so it’s going to take multiple solutions approaching the space from multiple angles to fully satisfy market demand.”

    Certify acquires real-time expense management startup and YC alum Abacus

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1674693
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/yK_gfrtHIys/

    Expense management software provider Certify is beefing up its artillery against rival Concur with the acquisition of Abacus, which enables companies to deal with expenses in real time. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. The addition of Abacus will help Certify, which includes other expense management solutions like Nexonia and ExpenseWatch under one umbrella, […]

    Tue, 17 Jul 2018 11:55:54 +0000

    Dialpad announced a $50 million Series D investment today, giving the company plenty of capital to keep expanding its business communications platform.

    The round was led by Iconiq Capital with help from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Amasia, Scale Ventures, Section 32 and Work-Bench. With today’s round, the company has now raised $120 million.

    As technology like artificial intelligence and internet of things advances, it’s giving the company an opportunity to expand its platform. Dialpad products include UberConference conferencing software and VoiceAI for voice transcription applications.

    The company is competing in a crowded market that includes giants like Google and Cisco and a host of smaller companies like GoToMeeting (owned by LogMeIn), Zoom and BlueJeans. All of these companies are working to provide cloud-based meeting and communications services.

    Increasingly, that involves artificial intelligence like natural language processing (NLP) to provide on the fly transcription services. While none of these services is perfect yet, they are growing increasingly accurate.

    VoiceAI was launched shortly after Dialpad acquired TalkIQ in May to take this idea a step further by applying sentiment analysis and analytics to voice transcripts. The company plans to use the cash infusion to continue investing in artificial intelligence on the Dialpad platform.

    Post call transcript generated by VoiceAI. Screenshot: Dialpad

    CEO Craig Walker certainly sees the potential of artificial intelligence for the company moving forward. “Smart CIOs know AI isn’t just another trendy tech tool, it’s the future of work. By arming sales and support teams, and frankly everybody in the organization, with VoiceAI’s real-time artificial intelligence and insights, businesses can dramatically improve customer satisfaction and ultimately their bottom line,” Walker said in a statement.

    Dialpad is also working with voice-driven devices like the Amazon Alexa and it announced Alexa integration with Dialpad in April. This allows Alexa users to make calls by saying something like, “Alexa, call Liz Green with Dialpad” and the Echo will make the phone call on your behalf using Dialpad software.

    According to the company website, it has over 50,000 customers including WeWork, Stitch Fix, Uber and Reddit. The company says it has added over 10,000 new customers since its last funding round in September, 2017.

    Dialpad dials up $50M Series D led by Iconiq

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1674072
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/KuPJjwEyHGs/

    Dialpad announced a $50 million Series D investment today, giving the company plenty of capital to keep expanding its business communications platform. The round was led by Iconiq Capital with help from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Amasia, Scale Ventures, Section 32 and Work-Bench. With today’s round, the company has now raised $120 million. As technology […]

    Tue, 17 Jul 2018 11:30:42 +0000

    Mention Me, the London-headquartered referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in further funding. The round is led by Eight Roads Ventures and is the first time the five and a half year old company has raised venture capital, having only ever done a small angel round in 2015.

    That’s noteworthy given the company’s two founders: Andy Cockburn and Tim Boughton, who met at Homeaway where they were U.K. MD and European CTO respectively before its $3 billion IPO on the Nasdaq.

    Counting over 300 customers — including FarFetch, Ovo Energy, Ted Baker and ZipCar — Mention Me offers a marketing platform to make it easy and effective for companies to conduct referral marketing. The platform supports referral programs in 16 languages, but its biggest draw is the ability to A/B test, iterate and measure campaigns so that they work best for the cohort they target.

    Another feature that stands out is Mention Me’s refer by name functionality. This sees the marketing platform let you refer customers simply by having enter your full name into the referral box instead of relying on a unique referral code or URL. This, Mention Me co-founder Cockburn says, is designed to mimic the way referrals are naturally made in conversation with friends i.e. ‘go to this store and mention my name’.

    “Most businesses are sitting on a huge asset: the trust and good will of their customers,” he says. “If those customers are out telling their friends about the brand and how they feel about it, it should become the most valuable marketing channel the business has. A channel that brings in the best friends of your best customers is close to the holy grail of marketing. And some of the biggest successes of recent years – Uber, AirbnB, Dropbox – have realised this to great effect”.

    However, the challenge, argues Cockburn, is that it’s not as easy as just putting a share button on a site. That’s because human psychology kicks in.

    “When a brand asks us to share we start to evaluate the impact of that action on our friendships? Will I look good in front of my friend for sharing it? Will they judge me negatively for sharing? The way we solve this problem is by putting all of our resources – our technology and team – to focussing on solving the psychological challenge”.

    This includes understanding that people aren’t all the same, hence Mention Me offers segmentation and A/B testing by cohort so that brands can work out which offers and messaging resonate with different customer groups.

    “We let people share in the most natural way, in real world conversations, by telling friends to just go to the site and give their name, to make sharing feel natural. And we have a team of referral experts that actively works in partnership with clients to help them solve this challenge,” says Cockburn.

    That partnership is reflected in Mention Me’s revenue model, too. Instead of charging a monthly subscription as most SaaS do, after an initial set-up fee, the company gets paid by referral, in the form of commission on a new customer’s first order. This makes it similar to affiliate marketing in the sense that the interests of Mention Me and its customers are aligned.

    Meanwhile, the Mention Me founder believes that as marketing continues to evolve over the next five years, trust will be at the heart of its evolution. And when you get trust right, all of the dynamics of a business become easier.

    “Customers come to you without you needing to sell to them, they’re generally happier and they stick around longer,” he says. “Over the next couple of years we’ll be building out a Trust Marketing platform to help businesses grow, manage, measure and harness trust. Our ultimate goal is to change how the world does marketing”.

    Mention Me, the referral marketing platform, raises $7M led by Eight Roads Ventures

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673430
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/pNulUK8zlQc/

    Mention Me, the London-headquartered referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in further funding. The round is led by Eight Roads Ventures and is the first time the five and a half year old company has raised venture capital, having only ever done a small angel round in 2015. That’s noteworthy given the company’s two […]

    Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:00:29 +0000

    Unacademy founders Roman Saini, Gaurav Munjal and Hemesh Singh

    Bangalore-based Unacademy will add more educators to its online learning platform, which claims to be India’s largest, after closing a $21 million Series C. The funding comes from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures (all four firms are returning from Unacademy’s Series B last year).

    Originally a YouTube channel created in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy was officially launched as a startup in 2015 by founders Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. It has now raised $38.6 million in total.

    While Unacademy offers a wide range of courses, its most popular offerings include preparation for important exams in India. Its platform includes two apps: one that lets educators create lessons and another that allows users to access them. Unacademy says it has 10,000 registered educators and three million users. Last month, the startup claims 3,000 educators were active on the platform and lessons were watched more than 40 million times.

    Munjal, who serves as Unacademy’s CEO, tells TechCrunch its new funding will be used to grow its monthly active educators from 3,000 to 10,000, improve its live streaming technology and increase its presence in Indonesia, where it currently has more than 30 educators.

    Many lessons are available for free, though last year Unacademy launched a paid service called Plus that gives users access to features like private discussion forums and live video classes for a per-course fee. Unacademy claims it has achieved six times growth in monthly revenue since launching Plus. The premium classes also help it differentiate from other online learning platforms like Mrunal, a popular site that provides free test preparation for Indian students.

    In addition to bringing on more teachers, Unacademy will use its new funding to expand key categories like pre-med, the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and the Common Admission Test (CAT), which are required by many post-graduate programs.

    In a media statement, SAIF partner Alok Goel said “Unacademy has demonstrated tremendous progress towards their goal of delivering personalized learning by connecting great quality educators and students on their platform. The company has diversified across several new domains and has achieved amazing word of mouth among learners.”

    Online learning platform Unacademy gets $21M Series C from Sequoia India, SAIF and Nexus

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1674585
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/wSeHB8-3WSI/

    Bangalore-based Unacademy will add more educators to its online learning platform, which claims to be India’s largest, after closing a $21 million Series C. The funding comes from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures (all four firms are returning from Unacademy’s Series B last year). Originally a YouTube […]

    Tue, 17 Jul 2018 04:48:09 +0000

    Centralized crypto exchanges like Coinbase are easy but expensive because they introduce a middleman. Not-for-profit project 0x allows any developer to quickly build their own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange and decide their own fees. It acts like Craigslist, connecting traders without ever holding the tokens itself. And instead of having to bootstrap their way to enough users trading tokens on their app alone so that there’s liquidity, 0x offers cross-platform liquidity between users on the different projects it powers.

    The problem is the user experience of decentralized apps is often crappy compared to the consumer apps we’re used to across the rest of tech. From sign-in to recovering accounts to conducting transactions, it’s a lot more complicated than Facebook Login, PayPal, or Shopify. Bitcoin and Ethereum prices remain well below half their peaks because it’s difficult to do much with cryptocurrency right now. Until the decentralized infrastructure improves, the dreams of how blockchains can improve the world remain distant.

    0x is trying to fix that by ensuring developers all don’t have to reinvent the exchange wheel.

    It began as a for-profit exchange before the team recognized the massive usability gap. So instead it became a decentralized exchange protocol, and raised $24 million in an ICO for its ZRX token. That’s how relayers — the apps who use it to build exchanges for ERC20 tokens atop the Ethereum blockchain — can charge fees. It also gives those who collect the most a say in the governance of the protocol.

    Some of the top projects on 0x like Augur and Dydx are going strong. Last week Coinbase announced it was exploring whether it might list ZRX and several other currencies for trade on its exchange, helping perk up the price after declines since the new year.

     

    0x’s ZRX token price, via CoinMarketCap

    Now 0x is putting some of its $24 million to work. It just hired former Facebook designer Chris Kalani to help it improve the usability of its APIs and the products built on top of them. His skills helped Facebook embrace mobile around its 2012 IPO. He then built Wake, raising $3.8 million for the design prototype sharing tool that let teams get instant feedback on their works-in-progress. Kalani sold Wake to design platform InVision in April, and after a few months assisting the transition, he’s joined 0x.

    “There are very few designers involved in the [blockchain] space” Kalani tells me. “There’s not a lot of people who had worked on anything at a large-scale or from the consumer perspective. We’re focused on making crypto more approachable.”

    Sustaining a crypto not-for-profit

    After talking to four leaders in different parts of the blockchain industry, the consensus was that 0x was an elegant protocol for spawning decentralized exchanges. But the question kept coming up about whether the project will be sustainable. The company doesn’t have to earn enormous amounts of revenue, but concerns about its longevity could scare away developers. One, who asked to remain anonymous, described 0x saying, “the best analogy is trying to monetize Linux.”

    0x is open source, so it could be forked so developers can sidestep ZRX. 0x hopes that the shared liquidity feature will keep developers in line. It only works with the unforked version, and is now being used by 0x-powered projects, including Radar Relay, ERC dEX, Shark Relay, Bamboo Relay and LedgerDex.

    While some centralized exchanges have suffered security troubles and hacks, those with stronger records like Coinbase continue to thrive while banking off high fees. That in turn lets them offer better liquidity and invest more in the user experience, widening the gap versus decentralized apps. “People trust Coinbase with large amounts of capital but they wouldn’t trust themselves,” Kalani admits. But he thinks it’s early in the game, and as users become more knowledgeable and comfortable with holding their own tokens for use on decentralized exchanges, 0x and ZRX will thrive.

    There’s also competition within the decentralized exchange space from Kyber’s liquidity network, and AirSwap’s peer-to-peer exchange marketplace. But for any of these to thrive, the mainstream crypto owner will have to get better educated. That could fall to 0x.

    One alternative path for the not-for-profit would be selling developer services and consulting to those building on top of it. Or it could always do another ICO. But for now, there are a lot of projects out there that don’t want to foot the upfront cost to build their own secure and compliant exchange from scratch. Kalani concludes, “The way Stripe allowed developers and businesses to build on top of it, and not have to worry about regulatory issues and all the infrastructure necessary to take payments, I think 0x is going to do something similar with exchanges for crypto.”

    0x lets any app be the Craigslist of cryptocurrency

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1674069
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/y4sa7TPxhe0/

    Centralized crypto exchanges like Coinbase are easy but expensive because they introduce a middleman. Not-for-profit project 0x allows any developer to quickly build their own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange and decide their own fees. It acts like Craigslist, connecting traders without ever holding the tokens itself. And instead of having to bootstrap their way to enough […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 20:06:15 +0000

    It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, visitors are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page.

    Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too.

    This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It’s not a good look for the world’s largest retailer even though the retailer saw glitches last year, too.

    Other retailers jumped on Amazon’s bandwagon and are running big sales around Prime Day. As of this post’s publication, both Walmart and Target are not suffering site outages and probably love Amazon’s outage.

    Also, this.

    Updating…

    3:30pm EDT: It’s 30 minutes past the launch of Prime Day and the landing page and deal navigation page is still down.

    Prime Down: Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1674272
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/gUTechP9XPc/

    Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use smile.amazon.com. TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works. It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, visitors are sent to an error […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 19:15:53 +0000

    Not far from Tel Aviv a drone flies low over a gritty landscape of warehouses and broken pavement. It slowly approaches its home — a refrigerator-sized box inside a mesh fence, and hovers, preparing to dock. It descends like some giant bug, whining all the way, and disappears into its base where it will be cleaned, recharged and sent back out into the air. This drone is doing the nearly impossible: it’s flying and landing autonomously and can fly again and again without human intervention — and it’s doing it all inside a self-contained unit that is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.

    The company that makes the drone, Airobotics, invited us into their headquarters to see their products in action. In this video we talk with the company about how the drones work, how their clients use the drones for mapping and surveillance in hard-to-reach parts of the world and the future of drone autonomy. It’s a fascinating look into technology that will soon be appearing in jungles, deserts and war zones near you.

    Airobotics makes autonomous drones in a box

    https://techcrunch.com/?post_type=tc_river_video&p=1673256
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/mCYBA6-S9dE/

    Not far from Tel Aviv a drone flies low over a gritty landscape of warehouses and broken pavement. It slowly approaches its home — a refrigerator-sized box inside a mesh fence, and hovers, preparing to dock. It descends like some giant bug, whining all the way, and disappears into its base where it will be […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:34:43 +0000

    Need to resize a video for IGTV? Add subtitles for Twitter? Throw in sound effects for YouTube? Or collage it with other clips for the Instagram feed? Kapwing lets you do all that and more for free from a mobile browser or website. This scrappy new startup is building the vertical video era’s creative suite full of editing tools for every occasion.

    Pronounced “Ka-pwing,” like the sound of a ricocheted bullet, the company was founded by two former Google Image Search staffers. Now after six months of quiet bootstrapping, it’s announcing a $1.7 million seed round led by Kleiner Perkins.

    Kapwing hopes to rapidly adapt to shifting memescape and its fragmented media formats, seizing on opportunities like creators needing to turn their long-form landscape videos vertical for Instagram’s recently launched IGTV. The free version slaps a Kapwing.com watermark on all its exports for virality, but users can pay $20 a month to remove it.

    While sites like Imgur and Imgflip offer lightweight tools for static memes and GIFs, “the tools and community for doing that for video are kinda inaccessible,” says co-founder and CEO Julia Enthoven. “You have something you install on your computer with fancy hardware. You should able to create and riff off of people,” even if you just have your phone, she tells me. Indeed, 100,000 users are already getting crafty with Kapwing.

    “We want to make these really relevant trending formats so anyone can jump in,” Enthoven declares. “Down the line, we want to make a destination for consuming that content.”

    Kapwing co-founders Eric Lu and Julia Enthoven

    Enthoven and Eric Lu both worked at Google Image Search in the lauded Associate Product Manager (APM) program that’s minted many future founders for companies like Quip, Asana and Polyvore. But after two years, they noticed a big gap in the creative ecosystem. Enthoven explains that “The idea came from using outdated tools for making the types of videos people want to make for social media — short-form, snackable video you record with your phone. It’s so difficult to make those kinds of videos in today’s editors.”

    So the pair of 25-year-olds left in September to start Kapwing. They named it after their favorite sound effect from the Calvin & Hobbes comics when the make-believe tiger would deflect toy gunshots from his best pal. “It’s an onomatopoeia, and that’s sort of cool because video is all about movement and sound.”

    After starting with a meme editor for slapping text above and below images, Kapwing saw a sudden growth spurt as creators raced to convert landscape videos for vertical IGTV. Now it has a wide range of tools, with more planned.

    The current selection includes:

    Kapwing definitely has some annoying shortcomings. There’s an 80mb limit on uploads, so don’t expect to be messing with much 4K videos or especially long clips. You can’t subtitle a GIF, and the meme maker flipped vertical photos sideways without warning. It also lacks some of the slick tools that Snapchat has developed, like a magic eraser for Photoshopping stuff out and a background changer, or the automatic themed video editing found in products like Google Photos.

    The No. 1 thing it needs is a selective cropping tool. Instead of letting you manually move the vertical frame around inside a landscape video so you always catch the action, it just grabs the center. That left me staring at blank space between myself and an interview subject when I uploaded this burger robot startup video. It’s something apps like RotateNFlip and Flixup already offer. Hopefully the funding that also comes from Shasta, Shrug Capital, Sinai, Village Global, and ZhenFund will let it tackle some of these troubles.

    Beyond meme-loving teens and semi-pro creators, Kapwing has found an audience amongst school teachers. The simplicity and onscreen instructions make it well-suited for young students, and it works on Chromebooks because there’s no need to download software.

    The paid version has found some traction with content marketers and sponsored creators who don’t want a distracting watermark included. That business model is always in danger of encroachment from free tools, though, so Kapwing hopes to also become a place to view the meme content it exports. That network model is more defensible if it gains a big enough audience, and could be monetized with ads. Though it will put it in competition with Imgur, Reddit and the big dogs like Instagram.

    “We aspire to become a hub for consumption,” Enthoven concluded. “Consume, get an idea, and share with each other.”

    Kapwing is Adobe for the meme generation

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673868
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/BCuf6dVTK8s/

    Need to resize a video for IGTV? Add subtitles for Twitter? Throw in sound effects for YouTube? Or collage it with other clips for the Instagram feed? Kapwing lets you do all that and more for free from a mobile browser or website. This scrappy new startup is building the vertical video era’s creative suite […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:06:30 +0000

    Last round before the IPO. That’s how Fastly frames its new $40 million Series F round. It means that the company has raised $219 million over the past few years.

    The funding round was led by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners with participation from Sozo Ventures, Swisscom Ventures, and existing investors.

    Fastly operates a content delivery network to speed up web requests. Let’s say you type nytimes.com in your browser. In the early days of the internet, your computer would send a request to one of The New York Times’ servers in a data center. The server would receive the request and send back the page to the reader.

    But the web has grown immensely, and this kind of architecture is no longer sustainable. The New York Times use Fastly to cache its homepage, media and articles on Fastly’s servers. This way, when somebody types nytimes.com, Fastly already has the webpage on its servers and can send it directly. For some customers, it can represent as much as 90 percent of requests.

    Scale and availability are one of the benefits of using a content delivery network. But speed is also another one. Even though the web is a digital platform, it’s very physical by nature. When you load a page on a server on the other side of the world, it’s going to take hundreds of milliseconds to get the page. Over time, this latency adds up and it feels like a sluggish experience.

    Fastly has data centers and servers all around the world so that you can load content in less than 20 or 30 milliseconds. This is particularly important for Stripe or Ticketmaster as response time can greatly influence an e-commerce purchase.

    Fastly’s platform also provides additional benefits, such as DDoS mitigation and web application firewall. One of the main challenges for the platform is being able to cache content as quickly as possible. Users upload photos and videos all the time, so it should be on Fastly’s servers within seconds.

    The company has tripled its customer base over the past three years. It had a $100 million revenue run rate in 2017. Customers now include Reddit, GitHub, Stripe, Ticketmaster and Pinterest.

    There are now 400 employees working for Fastly. It’s worth noting that women represent 42 percent of the executive team, and 65 percent of the engineering leads are women, people of color or LGBTQ (or the intersection of those categories). And if you haven’t read all the diversity reports from tech companies, those are great numbers.

    Fastly raises another $40 million before an IPO

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673022
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/7tFM8I_Oi2k/

    Last round before the IPO. That’s how Fastly frames its new $40 million Series F round. It means that the company has raised $219 million over the past few years. The funding round was led by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners with participation from Sozo Ventures, Swisscom Ventures, and existing investors. Fastly operates a content delivery […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:01:37 +0000

    Proportunity, a London-based startup and Entrepreneur First alumni, wants to help first time buyers get on the property ladder earlier or purchase a home more to their liking.

    The company, which recently became an FCA authorised mortgage lender, claims to use machine learning to accurately forecast future house prices and the areas of London that will see the highest growth in the next few years. Based on confidence in this modelling, it will soon begin offering equity loans to boost your deposit when buying a first home.

    Specifically, once Proportunity has used its technology to help identify a property for sale that both fits your needs and offers good house price growth prospects, the startup will offer an equity loan of up to 15 percent of the property’s price. You then combine this loan with the money you have already saved for a deposit so that you can apply for a mortgage with a lower loan-to-value ratio, which in turn will command a lower interest rate.

    The way it works is quite similar to the U.K. government’s “Help To Buy” scheme, except it isn’t restricted to a new build and you have to pay monthly interest on the loan from the get-go. Like Help To Buy, when you sell the house or remortgage it in five years time, you have to repay the Proportunity equity loan at 15 percent of the current market price. Therefore, if the price of the house has gone up, the amount you pay back will have also increased. In the unlikelihood that the price has gone down, the startup loses money.

    Overall, however, since a Proportunity loan is interest-only until you pay it back after five years, the company says the combined monthly repayments are less than if you took out a 95 percent mortgage to buy the same home. And unlike shared ownership schemes, you don’t have to pay rent on the 15 percent of your home funded by a Proportunity loan.

    More broadly Proportunity is attempting to solve a very London-centric problem: house prices are so high and continue to rise that by the time you save up for a 20 percent deposit to secure a mortgage you can afford, property prices in the area you want to buy will have increased enough to put it out of reach again. Or you’ll be left buying a smaller property.

    “One of the biggest societal challenges we face is getting the next generation onto the housing ladder,” explains CEO Vadim Toader, who founded Proportunity with CTO Stefan Boronea. “The biggest reason this is hard is that it’s increasingly difficult to save up for a deposit, even for buyers with qualifying salaries. But what if we could use technology to give people a leg up onto the housing ladder? It all starts with forecasting”.

    To put its machine-learning house price forecasting to the test, in July last year Proportunity worked with Post Office Money to help first time buyers identify the best areas to buy, not just in terms of affordability but also in terms of future growth. “This was insightful, as we learned that there are 200,000 fewer first time buyers per year than there used to be, and 70 percent cite deposits as their biggest issue. If we can help these people find deposits, we can reverse the tide”.

    That, of course, is where the U.K. government’s own scheme is meant to kick in. However, Help To Buy can only support around 40,000 first time buyers, says Toader, partly because it has a limited budget and partly because it only addresses new properties.

    “The interesting thing is that many of those left out have two great characteristics,” he says. “First they have a good income and excellent prospects, and secondly they want to buy in an area where we project property prices will grow significantly. The simple issue is they can not afford a 20 percent deposit. We believe our technology can help”.

    To that end, Proportunity has secured £5 million in credit to begin making equity loans. The startup itself — which is part of EF cohort 7 — has raised £2.7 million in funding to bring its equity loans to market and further develop its price forecasting technology.

    Backers include Global Founders Capital, Concrete VC (backed by Starwood Capital Group), Savills, EF, Trusted Insights, and Le Studio VC, along with angel investors Matt Robinson (Nested), Chris Mairs (EF) , Charlie Songhurst, Nicolas Berggruen, and Julian Critchlow.

    Lastly, I’m told that half of the Proportunity team, including Toader himself, is taking out a Proportunity loan. “We’re going through the process ourselves, sitting in the customer’s shoes to better understand it and fix it before releasing it to them. [I] guess it also shows we’re eating our own dog food”.

    Proportunity offers ‘help to buy’ loans based on predicting future house prices

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673355
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/yuELXQOet7U/

    Proportunity, a London-based startup and Entrepreneur First alumni, wants to help first time buyers get on the property ladder earlier or purchase a home more to their liking. The company, which recently became an FCA authorised mortgage lender, claims to use machine learning to accurately forecast future house prices and the areas of London that […]

    Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:32:42 +0000

    Startups making delivery and transport easier than ever are a hit with venture capitalists, so it’s not a surprise that young tech companies delivering home staples — living room sets, dining room tables, couches and more — are raising big dollars.

    From 2010 through 2017, venture investors have outfitted U.S.-based furniture startups with a little over $1.1 billion in funding across 96 known rounds. But that funding has not been spread equally over time, as the following chart shows:

    Total dollars funneled into U.S.-based furniture startups, according to Crunchbase, hit an all-time high of $432.7 million across 12 rounds in 2011. Wayfair, an e-commerce site dedicated to selling furniture, raised a significant $165 million Series A that year, accounting for more than a third of the total deal volume.

    But while funding hasn’t surpassed 2011 levels, from that year through 2015, round counts steadily climbed. During this period, investments into seed and early-stage startups made up more than 70 percent of known deals.

    Whether or not this cohort of seed and early-stage startups will act as fodder for late-stage investors is not yet clear. Before that happens, Stephen Kuhl thinks that there’s more work to be done.

    Kuhl, the CEO of Burrow, a company that sells furniture over the internet, told Crunchbase News that “selling traditional furniture made in China or Mexico isn’t innovative, and as such we wouldn’t expect to see a lot of venture funding.” But that doesn’t mean that venture interest in the sector is doomed. Kuhl added that “a new company has to offer a unique product, experience and brand that is altogether [10 times] better than traditional offerings. Expect the money to follow the new brands that truly shake up the status quo.”

    That may bear out. The funding data we examined tells one particular story: venture money has shown a preference for delivery and a consumer that doesn’t easily call the place they live in “home.”

    Deliver, don’t move, furniture

    For city dwellers, modular, utilitarian couches are taking hold. And it’s increasingly clear you don’t have to leave your couch to purchase one.

    Let’s return to Burrow, which has raised a total of $19.2 million, according to Crunchbase. The startup has created a modular couch built for those who live in dense urban environments and may move often.

    “Our customers are reflective of larger trends in the market. They’re more likely to be renters rather than homeowners,” Kuhl explained. “They’re likely to move multiple times over the course of a few years, and they crave thoughtful, high-quality goods.”

    To account for this new type of customer, Burrow delivers each section of the couch in distinct packages. Burrow claims on its website that its direct to consumer business model and its ability to ship parts of couches, rather than one whole couch, removes “over 70 [percent] of standard shipping costs.” The couch also includes modern amenities such as a USB charger, and Burrow has also “launched an AR app that helps customers visualize a Burrow in their home,” according to Kuhl.

    However, Burrow isn’t completely eschewing the showroom as part of its selling strategy. In a podcast interview with TotalRetail, Kuhl noted that the startup has “partner showrooms” in co-working spaces and other retail locations in more than 20 cities.

    Of course, while modular design is helpful for city dwellers, there are those who enjoy a bit more of a personal twist. Interior Define, a Chicago-based startup, has raised $27.2 million to offer direct to consumer couches and dining room sets. And, according to Interior Define’s founder Rob Royer, its appeal is being driven by a new breed of consumers who are interested in brands that have “an authentic mission, deliver on a promised experience, and offer a real value proposition (not just a lower price).”

    That said, both of these options still require that the furniture be owned — an unnecessary burden if you move often or just like fresh looks without the commitment. Through Feather, customers can subscribe to a whole living room, bedroom or dining room for as low as $35 a month. According to Crunchbase, the New York-based startup has raised $3.5 million from established venture firms such as Y Combinator and Kleiner Perkins.

    There are also startups looking to simply help brands sell more furniture by using artificial intelligence and augmented reality. One such startup, Grokstyle, has raised $2.5 million for an app that identifies furniture by image as well as style and pricing preferences.

    In general, streets, kitchens and even front doors are being claimed by venture-backed startups. What you sit on might as well be paid for, in part, by venture capitalists, too.

    Furniture startups skip the showroom and go straight to your door

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673090
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/A0JkawA4in8/

    Startups making delivery and transport easier than ever are a hit with venture capitalists, so it’s not a surprise that young tech companies delivering home staples — living room sets, dining room tables, couches and more — are raising big dollars.

    Sat, 14 Jul 2018 18:00:24 +0000

    Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million.

    The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others.

    Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow.

    In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

    Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1673135
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/CCHDmkUg_Kw/

    Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million. The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:24:25 +0000

    Even for the long-standing giants of the tech industry, quantum computing is one of the most complicated subjects to tackle. So how does a five-year old startup compete?

    Chad Rigetti, the namesake founder of Rigetti Computing, will join us at Disrupt SF 2018 to help us break it all down.

    Rigetti’s approach to quantum computing is two-fold: on one front, the company is working on the design and fabrication of its own quantum chips; on the other, the company is opening up access to its early quantum computers for researchers and developers by way of its cloud computing platform, Forest.

    Rigetti Computing has raised nearly $70 million to date according to Crunchbase, with investment from some of the biggest names around. Meanwhile, labs around the country are already using Forest to explore the possibilities ahead.

    What’s the current state of quantum computing? How do we separate hype from reality? Which fields might quantum computing impact first — and how can those interested in quantum technology make an impact? We’ll talk all this and more at Disrupt SF 2018.

    Passes to Disrupt SF are available at the Early Bird rate until July 25 here.

    Chad Rigetti to talk quantum computing at Disrupt SF

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672860
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/6eahq7bdnN0/

    Even for the long-standing giants of the tech industry, quantum computing is one of the most complicated subjects to tackle. So how does a five-year old startup compete? Chad Rigetti, the namesake founder of Rigetti Computing, will join us at Disrupt SF 2018 to help us break it all down. Rigetti’s approach to quantum computing […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 16:41:59 +0000

    For any company looking to spin up some kind of operation in a new region, one of the first steps may be finding contractors in the area that can actually get the work started — but, especially as companies drift farther from cities, that can increasingly become a nightmare that’s quite familiar to Matt Velker.

    That led to he and his co-founder Vignesh Venkataraman starting Emptor, a network to connect companies with local contractors in order to get those local projects off the ground effectively. That can range from actual construction to janitorial work or landscaping. A platform like Emptor seeks to take a lot of the ambiguity or guesswork out of finding a set of local companies to work with in order to get construction projects off the ground. It also adds a robust audit trail — ratings or otherwise — to ensure that the best contractors surface and that everyone knows which ones they should skip. The company is coming out of Y Combinator.

    “Every time you’re building [projects in new regions you have to find an entirely new set of suppliers,” Velker said. “Often in rural areas when there isn’t a saturation of contractors like there is in a large metro, that discovery process within a reasonable time frame was the biggest challenge. Especially within the construction industry, there’s a huge deviation in terms of the quality of the companies you work with. We definitely had a lot of pains with unreliable contractors who weren’t getting the job done to spec or on time, or things that came close to fraud. It comes with the territory when you work with that volume of companies in a short period of time.”

    Companies first go to Emptor and describe the projects they want and what kinds of pricing structure they are offering. Then, kind of like Thumbtack or other marketplaces, Emptor matches those projects with qualified contractors and then compares those bids in order to select the best offer. It aims to be a replacement for the time spent searching around Yelp or Google, where there may be listings and pages but not a high volume of ratings — or ones that are even accurate to begin. Even after the search, getting the whole process started can take weeks, another period Emptor hopes to shrink by streamlining that process.

    Right now Emptor mainly focuses on facilities and maintenance, though should something like this take off it could add other elements of contract work that companies need. The approach also aims to be more granular, giving companies more ways to identify the needs of the project that might not necessarily just be quantitative. After all, better data about a company’s actual needs that flows into some algorithm can produce better matching, and that can also go down to the actual way compensation would work on that project.

    “Having just one number for what a project will cost is convenient from the supplier and buyer perspective, but it’s missing out on the ability to build structured data that you can analyze,” Velker said. “The companies are deciding, ‘what do I need to know, how many years have you done in business.’ You want to be explicit about how are we going to make this decision. If price is a factor, how much of a factor is it, so they can spec things out and there’s transparency to the buyers.”

    But while it’s an attempt to try to bridge that gap between the company and a service provider, it’s one that many companies have tried to fill before. There are tools like Angie’s List and others for finding contractors, though Velker says those are primarily geared toward consumers — and some end up bending the apps in order to fill the needs they have for contractors without some kind of formal platform to use. Velker acknowledges the theory behind all these tools is pretty similar, though he hopes Emptor will be able to tackle the specific needs companies might have that he’s experienced himself.

    Emptor looks to help companies more easily find contractors in the area

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672686
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/e32GizRaRrA/

    For any company looking to spin up some kind of operation in a new region, one of the first steps may be finding contractors in the area that can actually get the work started — but, especially as companies drift farther from cities, that can increasingly become a nightmare that’s quite familiar to Matt Velker. […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 15:00:55 +0000

    Instacart has tapped Postmates to offer better delivery services during peak hours in a San Francisco pilot.

    While Instacart will still handle all the shopping for its customers, it will hand off some deliveries to Postmates at times when there is high demand on the Instacart platform.

    Postmates, obviously, has offered delivery-as-a-service for merchants and brands since its inception, and some of those brands, such as Walmart, offer their own delivery services. But this marks the first time that Postmates has offered delivery-as-a-service to a business that itself is already a delivery service.

    This comes at a time when the grocery space is at an inflection point. Amazon’s nearly $14 billion acquisition of Whole Foods has spurred a race to offer quick and convenient grocery delivery from a number of the bigger players, such as Target and Walmart. On top of that, the grocery industry is highly fragmented, offering a huge opportunity for the catch-all of Instacart’s service.

    But quantity means almost nothing without quality, and Instacart’s pilot with Postmates is meant to ensure that delivery times don’t lag in the late morning and early afternoon, when most Instacart orders are set to be delivered.

    Instacart’s Northwest General Manager Michelle McRae explained that there is a load balance involved in the partnership with Postmates.

    “Like many on-demand services, Instacart sees demand peaks on certain days and at certain times,” said McRae. “The pilot is a way to offer delivery during peak hours and utilize Postmates delivery staff at times where Postmates would be most underutilized. Instacart users overwhelmingly prefer mid-morning and mid-afternoon, where is different from when people want hot, prepared food.”

    McRae also stressed that the pilot would not affect current Instacart shoppers or delivery contractors, as Postmates is simply offering delivery capacity during peak demand times.

    Perhaps more interesting, Postmates sees a big opportunity to work with on-demand services in offering extra delivery either at or below the cost of hiring more delivery people.

    “We definitely see this as a bigger part of Postmates’ future,” said Postmates SVP Dan Mosher. “Most brands are moving toward a world where they want to provide quick convenient delivery but they don’t have the capabilities. As we scale, we have the delivery density to drive economics in a really cost-effective way, not only to restaurants and retailers but to other on-demand services as well.”

    He added that enterprise delivery services will never eclipse Postmates’ direct-to-consumer business.

    The pilot is currently only going down in San Francisco, but Instacart said that it is considering expanding it to other geographies and other delivery services as the pilot continues. The deal is not exclusive, as Postmates is currently working with Walmart to help deliver their groceries to customers.

    Instacart taps Postmates to help with deliveries in SF during peak demand

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672777
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/pp5lYcmi1aY/

    Instacart has tapped Postmates to offer better delivery services during peak hours in a San Francisco pilot. While Instacart will still handle all the shopping for its customers, it will hand off some deliveries to Postmates at times when there is high demand on the Instacart platform. Postmates, obviously, has offered delivery-as-a-service for merchants and […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:41:35 +0000

    It’s one thing to have a great business idea, but connecting all of the disparate pieces of information and people needed to build it can be a frustrating growing pain — and one that the internal knowledge sharing company Guru is trying to fix.

    Guru launched in 2015 as a Chrome extension to help revenue and customer service teams have easy access to all of their company’s information the moment they needed it by congregating relevant “cards” of information written by different internal teams. Since its launch, Guru has extended its company to include a web app, and Slack bot. Today, Guru unveiled a new AI, and syncing and impact analytics features aimed to improve the overall experience of the platform.

    “Customer facing teams want to be responsive to their customers and feel confident in knowing what they want to communicate to them,” Guru CEO and co-founder Rick Nucci told TechCrunch. “They want to respond quickly and they want to respond accurately. These features further reduce the time it takes for them to dig up information and by reducing that time they’re solving issues faster and helping the customer have a better experience with them.”

    With the introduction of AI Suggest to its Chrome extension, users will be able to access relevant company information without needing to search for it first. And because the extension can work wherever they work, there’s no time wasted returning to a single site. In its announcement, Guru says that this AI will learn a user’s search patterns overtime and grow to better understand their needs and improve efficiency.

    While AI Suggest is specific to Guru’s Chrome extension, its Sync feature is universal across the company’s several implementations. With Sync, users can easily congregate and access not only information created natively on Guru but also information stored in a wiki, intranet or web-based applications.

    “Companies have knowledge everywhere, and it’s not necessarily realistic that they’ll be able to move all of that into Guru,” Nucci said. “[But this allows] the team using Guru to still have one place to search.”

    To get a better picture of how companies are using their knowledge, Guru has also incorporated impact analytics into its web app to help companies see where knowledge is best being utilized and where any gaps might be.

    Nucci told TechCrunch that these new features are part a scaling plan the company is implementing with the help of a $9.3 million Series A funding round last summer with new investor Emergence Capital (as well as previous backers FirstMark Capital and MSD Capital). In addition to the new features announced today, Guru also has plans to expand its product into other areas of company knowledge management including HR and IT.

     

    Updated: 10:43 AM ET / July 13th

    Guru announces new AI and Sync features for knowledge sharing platform

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672426
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/IY0VDa9SwEI/

    It’s one thing to have a great business idea, but connecting all of the disparate pieces of information and people needed to build it can be a frustrating growing pain — and one that the internal knowledge sharing company Guru is trying to fix. Guru launched in 2015 as a Chrome extension to help revenue […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:00:35 +0000

    Imagine being in a new city with a few hours to kill, but no idea what to do. Headout is a travel app that enables tourists to book outings at very short notice, in most cases on the same day. The startup announced today that it’s raised a $10 million Series A led by returning investors Nexus Venture Partners and Version One Ventures to support its ambitious growth targets.

    Over the next 18 months, co-founder and CEO Varun Khona says the startup wants to expand from 20 cities to 100 cities in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The app recently added French, German and Spanish in select markets and aims to have all of its inventory available in 12 languages by the end of next year. Its bookings includes sightseeing tours, museum tickets and shows.

    Headout’s Series A brings its total raised to $12 million. Its seed round was announced in 2015, when TechCrunch first profiled the company. The startup claims it has grown eight times over the past 12 months and is profitable.

    As it enters new markets, however, Headout will be up against a roster of competitors that also offer experience bookings for tourists. These include Klook, TripAdvisor-owned Viator, Get Your Guide and Airbnb’s Experiences feature.

    Khona says Headout’s main edge is tailoring its inventory and technology platform for “spontaneous last-minute mobile use cases.” It’s also a managed marketplace, meaning it standardizes pricing and quality, with the hope of creating a consistent experience across all outings. The startup says this focus on combining quality with unit economics means it’s enabled customers to save an average of 18% on last-minute bookings.

    Headout lands $10M Series A to help tourists book last-minute outings

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672752
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/ieQ90rtKLmI/

    Imagine being in a new city with a few hours to kill, but no idea what to do. Headout is a travel app that enables tourists to book outings at very short notice, in most cases on the same day. The startup announced today that it’s raised a $10 million Series A led by returning […]

    Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:53:18 +0000

    The team at Octi says it’s building a crucial piece of the augmented reality puzzle — the ability to understand the human body and its movement.

    Co-founder and CEO Justin Fuisz told me that most existing AR technologies (including Apple’s ARKit) tend to be “plane-based” — in other words, while they can make something cool appear against a real-world background, it’s usually on a flat surface, like a table or the floor.

    Octi, on the other hand, recognizes where people are in-camera, and it can use that understanding to apply a variety of different effects.

    For example, Fuisz and his team showed me how they could dance around their office while bright, squiggly lines overlaid their bodies — and then they erased their bodies entirely. They also showed me how effects could be tied to different gestures, like how a “make it rain” motion could result in dollar bills flying out of their hands.

    To do this, Octi says it’s built sophisticated machine learning and computer vision technology. For starters, it looks at a human being and detects key points, like eyes, nose, hips and elbows, then uses those points to construct a model of a skeleton.

    Fuisz suggested that the technology could be applied to a number of different industries, including fashion, fitness, entertainment and gaming. In fact, the company is announcing a partnership and strategic investment from the OneTeam Collective, the accelerator of the NFL Players Association. As a result, Octi plans to create and distribute avatars of more than 2,000 NFL players.

    In addition, Octi is announcing that it has raised $7.5 million in seed funding from Shasta Ventures, I2BF Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, Day One Ventures, Human Ventures, Live Nation and AB InBev, plus individuals, including former Pandora and Snap executive Tom Conrad, WeWork Chief Product Officer of Technology Shiva Rajaraman, Adobe Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky, A&E Networks Chairman Abbe Raven and Joshua Kushner.

    If you want to try this out for yourself, the startup has its own iOS app — Fuisz described the app as a technology showcase for potential partners, but he added, “The app is available to the public and is totally awesome.”

    Octi raises $7.5M to create augmented reality that understands human movement

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672535
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/aReypdlmsqY/

    The team at Octi says it’s building a crucial piece of the augmented reality puzzle — the ability to understand the human body and its movement. Co-founder and CEO Justin Fuisz told me that most existing AR technologies (including Apple’s ARKit) tend to be “plane-based” — in other words, while they can make something cool […]

    Thu, 12 Jul 2018 23:19:38 +0000

    Robinhood has gone from being a little consumer-facing fintech app to an absolutely giant consumer-facing fintech app.

    The company, which launched in 2013, has ballooned to a $5.6 billion valuation on the heels of a $363 million Series D financing round led by DST Global. The app has also grown to 5 million users, as of today, with more than $150 billion in transaction volume.

    But the app, which lets people trade stocks and options for free, is also dabbling in the wondrous world of cryptocurrencies, setting the stage for a potential transition from “fun app” to legitimate financial institution.

    That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to have Robinhood co-founder and CEO Baiju Bhatt join us on the Disrupt SF 2018 stage.

    The key to everything here is that Robinhood offered a simple consumer demand: free transactions on financial services. Unlike incumbents E*Trade and Scottrade, there are no trading fees on Robinhood, giving average consumers the chance to dip their toes in the market without any added barriers to entry.

    At Disrupt, we’ll ask Bhatt about how Robinhood Crypto is progressing and what the company has in store as we head into next year.

    Bhatt joins a wide array of big name speakers, from Dara Khosrowshahi to Reid Hoffman to Kirsten Green. It’s going to be an absolutely terrific show and we sincerely hope to see you there.

    Passes are available at the Early Bird rate until July 25 here.

    Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt to talk fintech at Disrupt SF

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672108
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/UuOYApnkwrI/

    Robinhood has gone from being a little consumer-facing fintech app to an absolutely giant consumer-facing fintech app. The company, which launched in 2013, has ballooned to a $5.6 billion valuation on the heels of a $363 million Series D financing round led by DST Global. The app has also grown to 5 million users, as […]

    Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:58:57 +0000

    A few folks have reported a new ransomware technique that preys upon corporate inability to keep passwords safe. The notes – which are usually aimed at instilling fear – are simple: the hacker says “I know that your password is X. Give me a bitcoin and I won’t blackmail you.”

    Programmer Can Duruk reported getting the email today.

    The email reads:

    I’m aware that X is your password.

    You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right?

    Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account.

    What exactly did I do?

    I made a split-screen video. First part recorded the video you were viewing (you’ve got a fine taste haha), and next part recorded your webcam (Yep! It’s you doing nasty things!).

    What should you do?

    Well, I believe, $1400 is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin to the below address (if you don’t know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google) .

    BTC Address: 1Dvd7Wb72JBTbAcfTrxSJCZZuf4tsT8V72
    (It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it)

    Important:

    You have 24 hours in order to make the payment. (I have an unique pixel within this email message, and right now I know that you have read this email). If I don’t get the payment, I will send your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will erase the video immidiately. If you want evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video recording to your 5 friends. This is a non-negotiable offer, so don’t waste my time and yours by replying to this email.

    To be clear there is very little possibility that anyone has video of you cranking it unless, of course, you video yourself cranking it. Further, this is almost always a scam. That said, the fact that the hackers are able to supply your real passwords – most probably gleaned from the multiple corporate break-ins that have happened over the past few years – is a clever change to the traditional cyber-blackmail methodology.

    Luckily, the hackers don’t have current passwords.

    “However, all three recipients said the password was close to ten years old, and that none of the passwords cited in the sextortion email they received had been used anytime on their current computers,” wrote researcher Brian Krebs. In short, the password files the hackers have are very old and outdated.

    To keep yourself safe, however, cover your webcam when not in use and change your passwords regularly. While difficult, there is nothing else that can keep you safer than you already are if you use two-factor authentication and secure logins.

    Ransomware technique uses your real passwords to trick you

    https://techcrunch.com/?p=1672453
    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/techcrunch/startups/~3/A1ltpPqcZNA/

    A few folks have reported a new ransomware technique that preys upon corporate inability to keep passwords safe. The notes – which are usually aimed at instilling fear – are simple: the hacker says “I know that your password is X. Give me a bitcoin and I won’t blackmail you.” Programmer Can Duruk reported getting […]

    Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:52:46 +0000