The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2019-09-01, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2019-09-01 →


Chicago-based, tech-driven home insurance company Kin raises $47M from the UChicago Startup Investment Program and others; the round will enable the company, which previously operated as a managing general agent, to become a licensed carrier in FL; Kin plans to open an office in the state . link

Patient engagement solutions company Luma Health raises $16M Series B led by PeakSpan Capital; serves 300-plus US health care organizations representing ~7.5M patients; the cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant platform enables scheduling, referrals, feedback, more; raised $26M to date . link

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announces the country will exempt Tesla vehicles from a ten-percent purchase tax; Tesla said the move would save customers up to $14k on some models; China didn't disclose the reason for the exemption, but Elon Musk has visited the country to meet with officials, including Vice President Wang Qishan . link

BC-based ePact, which operates an emergency-preparedness and communications network, raises ~$3.4M led by Disruption Ventures and Yaletown Partners (Disruption MP Elaine Kunda joins board); the peer-to-peer network contains digitized information on patients' emergency contacts, medical issues, allergies, immunizations, special needs, more; raised $9M-plus to date . link

Austin-based Quansight Futures launches an early-stage investment fund called Initiate; the firm targets a $20M close; will focus on startups using open-source solutions to address IoT, education, data science and management, machine learning, and AI . link

FL-based Dynasty Sports & Entertainment, which automates live event ticketing, acquires CA-based The Ticket Group, which provides a ticket yield management and distribution platform; terms undisclosed; The Ticket Group also offers analytics and has relationships with sports teams and venues . link

Google's Project Zero details five iPhone exploit chains through which hacked sites installed monitoring software on visitors' devices over a period of at least two years; Google's Threat Analysis Group discovered 14 iOS vulnerabilities (seven in the browser, five in the kernel, and two sandbox escapes) used across the five chains .Update: TechCrunch sources say the attacks were state-sponsored, most likely by China, and that they targeted Uyghur Muslims living in the Chinese state of Xinjiang; a United Nations human rights committee reported that Beijing had detained 1M-plus Uyghurs in internment camps over the past year . link

Juniper Networks to pay $11.7M to settle SEC charges related to alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; the SEC claimed the company's Russian and Chinese subsidiaries falsified travel expenses and funded leisure trips for government officials in a bribery scheme; Juniper said last year the Department of Justice had closed a parallel investigation . link

Paris is testing a Bruitparif-made noise detection system that works in conjunction with CCTV systems to identify vehicles causing noise pollution; the city plans to automate ticketing; Paris has deployed ~40 systems so far, primarily near bars and entertainment venues . link

Tesla announces the Model 3 interior is now 100 percent leather-free; Elon Musk previously said Models 3 and Y would be vegan by 2020, and that changing the leather steering wheel would be the most challenging part of the transition; he wasn't sure about the timeline for Models S and X . link

Google's Project Zero details five iPhone exploit chains through which hacked sites installed monitoring software on visitors' devices over a period of at least two years; Google's Threat Analysis Group discovered 14 iOS vulnerabilities (seven in the browser, five in the kernel, and two sandbox escapes) used across the five chains .Update: TechCrunch sources say the attacks were state-sponsored, most likely by China, and that they targeted Uyghur Muslims living in the Chinese state of Xinjiang; a United Nations human rights committee reported that Beijing had detained 1M-plus Uyghurs in internment camps over the past year . link

Ontario-based customer communications and engagement company Doxim acquires MI-based competitor Utilitec; terms undisclosed; Doxim focuses on regulated markets; Utilitec targets the metered services industry, offering data processing, e-presentment, bill payment, more . link

Redwood City-based Bear Robotics, which develops AI-powered robotic waiters for restaurants, has raised $10.2M of a planned $35.8M round, according to SEC filings; the company plans to offer its robot, link

Digital life insurance company Ethos raises $60M Series C led by GV; licensed in 49 states, Ethos aims to simplify the policy process and provide lower rates; the new funding will facilitate new offices in Austin and Singapore; raised $107M to date .Watch Jason speak with CEO Peter Colis on This Week in Startups: link

Autonomous transport company Local Motors unveils Olli 2.0, the second-generation Level 4, 3D-printed vehicle designed for low-speed services on college campuses, military bases, more; the new version is more customizable and features external displays and a PA system for alerting pedestrians; travels 100 miles per charge . link

Hackers exploit numerous WordPress plugin vulnerabilities to create admin accounts and back doors; initially, the campaign focused on adding pop-ups and redirects to unpatched sites to generate revenue; last month, the hacking group switched tactic to gain a deeper foothold in each site . link

Hackers who took over Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's account to tweet racist slurs and promotions for their Discord channel convinced Dorsey's mobile carrier to assign his number to a phone in the hackers' control; they then used text-to-tweet via the Twitter-acquired Cloudhopper service . link

New 15-percent tariff on $112B of Chinese goods goes into effect on Sunday; Apple is among the tech companies impacted; AirPods, Watch, and HomePod fall under the current round of tariffs; iPhone could be impacted by tariffs going into effect on Dec 15; Apple has not disclosed whether it will increase prices . link

Activist investors are pushing Groupon ($1.4B market cap) for a stock buyback, strategic partnership, or sale, The Wall Street Journal reports; shares, now at $2.48, are down 22 percent for the year; the stock hit a high of $26.19 in November 2011; one source said Groupon management had rejected offers to take the company private over the past two years . link

IL-based Tidal Commerce, which provides cloud payment processing and other merchant services, emerges with $4M from Super G Capital; targets SMBs, credit unions, and community banks; offers fraud detection, underwriting, and CRM features; currently employs 20 . link

This Week in Startups episode 969: News Roundtable with Crunchbase News Editor in Chief Alex Wilhelm and Molly Wood, host of the Marketplace Tech radio show; the conversation covers the WeWork IPO, the Long Term Stock Exchange, TikTok's American data mining, Jeffrey Epstein, more . link

Baze, which provides an at-home blood-testing device for detecting vitamin deficiencies, raises $6M strategic investment from supplement company Nature’s Way; customers use the MIT-manufactured device to collect a sample from the arm, then send it to a Baze-contracted lab; Baze charges $100 for each test and offers vitamin subscription plans . link

The download for 2019-11-15 →


TikTok begins testing URL links within user bios; the firm is also letting some users add e-commerce links to their videos; similar to Instagram, the links open within an in-app browser; it’s unknown if or when the features will roll out to more users . link

Apple is removing all vaping apps from its App Store, reports Axios; follows a CDC report that indicates 42 people in the US have died from lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes; Apple has never allowed apps for purchasing vape cartridges, but has approved apps for controlling devices and more . link

Singapore-based Grab is set to launch a cab-hailing service in Japan next week, reports Nikkei Asian Review; Grab is partnering with JapanTaxi, which operates 70k cabs across Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo, Nagoya, and Okinawa; terms of the deal unknown .Update: Grab denies the report, saying it has no plans to launch such a service . link

JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee posits Apple could increase its annual ad revenues to $11B by 2025; Chatterjee says the company has the potential to better leverage its various digital products which include the App Store, Safari, Apple TV+, and Apple News+; Apple does not disclose its ad revenue but it’s currently estimated to be ~$2B per year . link

Alibaba’s upcoming IPO is contributing to reduced available rates in Hong Kong, reports Reuters; investors are holding cash as they wait for Alibaba’s share offering; the liquidity issue comes amid local protests, which are thought to have triggered an estimated $4B worth of capital transfers from Hong Kong to Singapore between June and August . link

Ford says its upcoming all-electric SUV will be known as the Mustang Mach-E; the company is set to officially unveil the EV at an event in Los Angeles this weekend; pre-orders for the Mustang Mach-E open on Nov 17; pricing and ship date to be revealed . link

Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos suggests the company has not been distracted by the launch of Disney+; speaking at an event in New York City, Sarandos noted Netflix would likely have to rely more on its catalog of content as additional competitors emerge . link

SoftBank did not directly finance a $1B strategic investment in German fintech firm Wirecard as previously indicated, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Wirecard announced the deal last April, noting SoftBank was investing via convertible bonds; the backing actually came from the personal accounts of some SoftBank employees and an unnamed third-party; reasons for the arrangement unclear, but Wirecard said it has clarified the details with its shareholders . link

SoftBank is delaying a $3B payment to The We Company, according to sources for The Real Deal; reasons for the holdup unclear, but the money is part of a larger $9.5B rescue package; SoftBank had signaled to The We Company stakeholders it would make the payment by Nov 5; an unnamed individual suggests the remittance will be made once certain technicalities are resolved .Update: an unnamed investor has told Reuters the funding issue will likely be resolved, but notes there is “lots of anxiety”; comes as The We Company’s junk bond yield falls to a record 15 percent, and its spread reaches 13.4 percent . link

Uber-owned Jump is seeking a hearing with Los Angeles officials after the city suspended its scooter-sharing scheme; authorities had requested real-time data for ~40k scooters spread across Los Angeles; Uber has refused to comply, citing user privacy concerns; all other dockless scooter operators in the city provide such data . link

Google says it will stop sharing some data with advertisers; starting in Feb 2020, the company will no longer pass along website descriptions during ad auctions; they will still see URLs, user locations, and more; some critics say the change does not go far enough to protect user data . link

Fintech firm Compound raises $25M Series A from Andreessen Horowitz; the company offers a cryptocurrency-based automated lending service; Compound currently has ~$150M worth of assets on its platform . link

UK political party Labour says it could offer every British home and business free fiber broadband by 2030 if it gains power in next month’s general election; Labour says it would nationalise part of telco BT, and also introduce a tax on big tech firms to help pay for the scheme; Labour estimates the plan would cost £20B (~$25B) .Update: BT CEO Philip Jansen says Labour’s plan would likely cost £100B (~$128B); speaking with the BBC, Jansen suggests any plan to ensure all properties have access to fiber broadband would be complex . link

Alibaba issues a partial guide price for its upcoming Hong Kong IPO, indicating it plans to raise at least $12B; the firm will offer 12.5M shares at HK$188 (~$24) each; Alibaba says it may price the remaining $500M shares even higher; the listing is expected next week . link

US Attorney General William Barr says Huawei and ZTE “cannot be trusted”; Barr made the comments in a letter to the FCC, where he also said the firms are a “threat to our collective security”; the FCC is set to vote on a measure that would block federal agencies from using tech from either company . link

Amazon confirms it has filed a notice with the US Court of Federal Claims over the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft the $10B Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract; the company says the decision process contained “clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias” .Update: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he’s confident the JEDI decision was not affected by any outside influence; follows suggestions from AWS CEO Andy Jassy that President Trump’s public comments about Amazon likely influenced the Department of Defense’s choice . link

Lyft suspends scooter-sharing services in six cities including Nashville and Atlanta; the company is also cutting 20 staff, and will no longer use the services of multiple contractors who charge and redeploy scooters; Lyft says it is transferring resources to other markets . link

Amazon files to protest the Defense Department awarding Microsoft the $10B Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract, Federal Times reports; AWS CEO Andy Jassy said at a Nov 14 company meeting that the White House interfered in contract proceedings and that Amazon would pressure the government to disclose what happened . link

Facebook is testing an Instagram-like feature called Popular Photos, which displays algorithmically selected pictures from friends in an endless feed; the feature appears in the full-screen view when a user opens an image from News Feed . link

Microsoft to launch game streaming service xCloud next year, initially to Xbox, then to Windows 10; Corporate VP of Cloud Gaming Kareem Choudhry hinted the service could offer PC titles; Microsoft plans an Android release and is working with Apple for iOS and iPad support; also plans support for non-Xbox controllers . link

Apple acquired 200k-plus News+ subscribers in the 48 hours following the product's March launch but has struggled to grow its base, according to CNBC sources; the $10-per-month service provides access to ~300 publications; Bloomberg sources indicated Apple might bundle News+ with Music and TV+ . link

State attorneys general to expand Google antitrust investigation into Android and search, according to CNBC sources; to date, the TX-led probe, which includes 50 attorneys general, has focused on Google's advertising business; in September Google SVP of Global Affairs said the company would cooperate with government investigations . link

Data journalist Ben Casselman, who covers business and economics for The New York Times, speaks about the power of programming language R and why the human element is the most critical of any story; he also says that while coding isn't a requirement for quality reporting, journalists should achieve fluency in the language of statistics . link

Pornhub announces PayPal has dropped support for payments on the platform, says the change affects 100k-plus performers who depend on the site for their livelihoods; Pornhub said staffers would work around the clock to ensure rapid payouts via other methods; the site enables creators to sell exclusive content and offers multiple monetization options . link

Google's ad exchange will stop revealing users' browsing categories to advertisers for contextual marketing; European data-protection authorities have argued the company's real-time ad auctions violate the EU's GDPR; advertisers will still see visited URLs, but won't be able to select broad categories for ad placement . link

Google launches an experimental feature in mobile search that uses AI to analyze and critique the user's pronunciation; when the user searches for pronunciation guidance for a given word, Google prompts the user to speak it; then offers audio of the word pronounced correctly and explains any user mispronunciation . link

Instagram is expanding its test in hiding Like counts to a subset of users globally; affects a small percentage of users in every country where the app is live; affected users can see like counts for their own posts, but cannot see like counts on posts by other people who are part of the test . link

Salesforce to transition its Marketing Cloud to Microsoft's Azure infrastructure, apparently marking the end of the companies' rivalry; Salesforce uses AWS for online services and announced in 2017 it would use also Google Cloud; Microsoft has announced large cloud agreements this year, including a deal with AT&T and a Pentagon contract that could be worth $10B . link

Google is rolling out Rich Communication Services (RCS) support in the Android Messages app to all US users; adds Wi-Fi-based messaging, typing indicators, read receipts, more . link

Rep David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, says Google's move to acquire Fitbit for $2.1B while under state and federal antitrust investigations demonstrates astonishing hubris; watchdog groups urged the FTC to block the deal, saying Google knows more about the population than any other company, and should not be allowed to gather more data . link

Toronto-based password management company 1Password raises $200M Series A led by Accel with participation from Slack Fund, WndrCo, and others; before this round, the company had bootstrapped since its 2005 founding; claimed profitability in its first year; serves 1M-plus consumers and businesses with password generation and autofill . link

Apple is funding, promoting, and facilitating large-scale medical studies that track hundreds of thousands of participants; the company's new Research app removes friction for enrollment and monitoring, reducing the need for in-person visits; Apple could influence how academic researchers treat subjects' data, as the app provides participants granular control over what they share . link

Norwest Venture Partners closes its 15th and largest fund to date at $2B; the firm closed its last fund at $1.5B at the beginning of last year; now claims $9.5B under management; invests in a broad selection of sectors and stages; portfolio includes Button, HoneyBook, and SmartSign; exits include Polycom, Ravello, and Apigee . link

The download for 2019-11-14 →


Apple is considering a subscription bundle that would include Apple TV+, News+, Apple Music, and more, according to Bloomberg sources; the firm is weighing whether to launch such a package next year; it’s unclear if the company will move forward with its plan, but it’s expected consumers would pay less than if they subscribe to each product individually . link

Indonesia-based proptech firm Travelio raises $18M Series B led by Pavilion Capital and Gobi Partners; the company offers a platform to connect residential property owners with short-term tenants; has raised $24M to date . link

DJI announces an app that promises to let users monitor and identify nearby drones; using just a Wi-Fi signal, users will be able to see a UAV’s location, altitude, speed, direction, and registered ID number; DJI says the app is subject to regulatory approval but hopes to launch it in 2020 . link

AMP Robotics, a CO-based firm that develops robots for the recycling industry, raises $16M Series A from Sequoia Capital, Closed Loop Partners, and others; the firm provides AI-powered robots that are able to identify and sort recyclables; has raised ~$20M to date . link

UK-based document analysis firm Eigen Technologies raises $37M Series B led by Lakestar and Dawn Capital with participation from Temasek and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity; the company offers enterprise tools for extracting and inspecting data from contracts and other complex docs; has raised more than $53M to date . link

Alibaba aims to raise $13.4B in its IPO, according to Reuters sources; it will also be Hong Kong’s first paperless public listing, breaking with the tradition of having investors line up in banks to purchase shares; comes amid protests in the streets of Hong Kong, which have previously been blamed for the IPOs delay . link

Disney is set to launch Disney+ programming in India and parts of Southeast Asia next year, according to TechCrunch sources; starting in the second half of 2020, Disney intends to add some of its Disney+ content to its popular India-based streaming service Hotstar; it then plans to expand Hotstar to several other countries including Indonesia and Malaysia . link

UK-based social app Peanut raises $5M led by Index Ventures with participation from Dropbox, Facebook, and Glossier; the company offers a platform aimed at mothers and those hoping to conceive, allowing them to discuss issues one-on-one or in broader groups . link

Activist investor Carl Icahn voices support for a proposed Xerox-HP merger; speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Icahn called the pairing a “no-brainer,” suggesting there could be good synergies between the companies; Icahn holds a 10.6 percent stake in Xerox, and a 4.2 percent stake in HP . link

Chinese audio platform Ximalaya seeks to raise $350M on a $3.5B valuation, according to Bloomberg sources; the company is in talks with numerous potential investors including private equity firms and pension funds; Ximalaya offers an online portal with access to a range of audio books, podcasts, radio shows, and more; claims 600M users . link

Apple exec Phil Schiller suggests children who use Chromebooks are “not going to succeed”; the comments come in an interview with CNET where Schiller says Chromebooks are only popular because they are “cheap” and required for classroom testing; he made the remarks during a conversation about the new 16-inch MacBook Pro . link

Messaging app Wire has raised $8.2M from Morpheus Ventures and others, reports TechCrunch; Wire offers end-to-end messaging tools for enterprise customers; the company has drawn scrutiny for moving its HQ from Luxembourg to the US, which some critics say leaves it open to search by US agencies . link

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is set to meet with execs from The We Company today to discuss potential layoffs and more, according to sources for The Information; they will also look at a financial plan for the company which is expected to be presented for board approval in the coming weeks; follows reports T-Mobile CEO John Legere is being considered as a possible leader for The We Company . link

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees to new rules that will place limits on Huawei’s access to the country’s 5G network, according to Bloomberg sources; the security measures will block Huawei from accessing core parts of the network; follows reports the German government would not put restrictions on the firm . link

China-based co-working firm Ucommune plans to launch an IPO next month, according to Bloomberg sources; it is expected to raise ~$100M, though the firm is yet to settle on a target figure; Ucommune operates spaces in 44 cities including Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore . link

China’s central bank denies reports it has issued a digital currency; the People’s Bank of China also says it has not authorized any asset trading platforms; officials confirm they are still testing a blockchain-based currency, but say they are yet to commit to a rollout . link

Motorola announces $1.5k Razr with a 6.2-inch folding plastic OLED display; the clamshell device also has a 2.7-inch Quick View screen on the outside; runs Android 9 Pie; features Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage; pre-orders start Dec 26 and ships January 2020 .CNET profiles the development of the new Motorola Razr; Motorola started considering a foldable smartphone in 2015, and collaborated with its parent firm Lenovo to build on ideas used for the Yoga line of convertible laptops; the Razr utilizes a hinge that moves the display when folded, thereby limiting any visible crease . link

Oculus CTO John Carmack announces he is transitioning to a “consulting CTO” position; Carmack says he will still have a say in Oculus’ product development, but notes he intends to spend most of his time away from the company working on artificial general intelligence; Carmack joined Oculus in 2013, before it was acquired by Facebook . link

The We Company informs investors it lost $1.2B in Q3, up 150 percent year-on-year, reports CNBC; it had revenues of $984M, up 48 percent year-on-year; WeWork has residency rates of 79 percent; it added 115k desks in the quarter . link

Enterprise SaaS company Freshworks raises $150M Series H at a $3.5B valuation from Sequoia Capital, CapitalG, and Accel; the new Customer-for-Life Cloud platform integrates tools for marketing, sales, support, more; raised $400M to date . link

AI systems trained on volumes of digitized text learn biases that manifest in unpredictable ways, The New York Times reports; AI can associate some activities, like programming, with men; can also assign negative sentiment to any content about Donald Trump; a Google spokesperson said mitigating bias in AI was a top priority; Amazon noted a significant commitment of resources to the issue . link

Interagency conflicts have resulted in delays for 5G spectrum allocation, threatening the US' potential to lead in deployment, The Wall Street Journal reports; the FCC and the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Energy, and Education have fought over spectrum; the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration should mediate, but head David Redl resigned in the spring . link

Yahoo Japan to merge with Line, according to Nikkei sources; Yahoo Japan parent Z Holdings (of which SoftBank owns 45 percent) and Line majority owner Naver reportedly are in the final stage of negotiations and expect a deal by the end of the month; together, the businesses represent 100M users across e-commerce, financial services, more . link

Docker raises $35M from Benchmark Capital and Insight Partners; also announced CPO Scott Johnston is taking over as CEO; he replaces Rob Bearden, who took over when Steve Singh stepped down in May; the announcement follows the sale of Docker's Enterprise business to Mirantis . link

John Gruber provides first impressions of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, focusing heavily on the new keyboard; Apple returned to a scissor-switch mechanism, but unlike older models, keys fall flat regardless of the press point; larger key gaps make for fewer errors; the t-design arrow key layout improves touch-typing; the speakers are radically improved, and a three-mic array improves audio input . link

The Wall Street Journal examines how the lack of broadband internet affects rural Americans; some rely on community resources, such as library Wi-Fi, while others work on phones with slow data; having no high-speed internet access limits the ability to study for school, seek work, grow a business, more . link

Disney ($269B market cap) reports 10M subscribers for streaming service Disney+, which launched on Tuesday with connectivity problems the company attributed to unexpected demand; comparatively, Hulu most recently claimed 28M users and Netflix claimed 60M domestic; Disney's stock jumped seven percent on the news . link

Facebook removed 3.2B fake accounts between April and September, according to the company's latest content moderation report; up from 1.55B fake accounts over the same period last year; during the third quarter, the company removed 11.6M Facebook items and 754k Instagram items depicting child exploitation or nudity . link

GitHub launches its first native mobile app; also launched Actions and Packages in general availability; a new pre-release program lets users test in-development features; an expanded Sponsors program enables anyone to contribute funds to a project . link

Popular UK health websites are sharing sensitive data with advertising firms, data brokers, and others, Financial Times reports; of the sites investigated, 79 percent deployed tracking cookies on user systems without the notice or consent required by UK law; shared data includes medical symptoms and diagnoses, prescribed medications, more . link

Microsoft EVP of AI and Research Harry Shum is leaving the company in February; effective immediately, CTO Kevin Scott is taking on Shum's responsibilities in addition to his CTO role; Shum has not disclosed plans for the future; he will remain an advisor to CEO Satya Nadella and Founder Bill Gates . link

Kubernetes-as-a-service company Mirantis acquires Docker's Enterprise business and team; financial terms undisclosed; the deal includes all associated IP; Mirantis will continue to operate Docker Enterprise without changing branding; Docker the company will continue to offer developer tools; Mirantis has raised $200M to date; Docker has raised $273M . link

DoorDash raises $100M Series G from T Rowe Price accounts, according to a Bloomberg source; DoorDash announced the round in May when the total was at $600M; investors valued the company at $12.6B at that time; raised ~$2B to date . link

Brave browser launches in general availability for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android; the privacy-focused browser blocks ads and trackers by default and rewards users with crypto-tokens for opting into Brave Ads; users can cash tokens out, exchange them for gift cards and vouchers, or use them to support content creators . link

Google to launch consumer checking accounts next year in partnership with Citigroup and a Stanford University credit union; accounts will bear financial institution branding, and partner banks will handle compliance, infrastructure, etc; will work with Google Pay . link

The download for 2019-11-13 →


Apple will begin shipping its new Mac Pro next month, though exact date unknown; the previously announced device starts at $6k; Apple is also launching Pro Display XDR, which starts at $5k . link

Apple announces 16-inch MacBook Pro, starts at $2.4k; features a scissor switch keyboard, rather than the butterfly-style variant on other MacBook Pros; base model features 2.6GHz 6-core 9th gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage; replaces previous 15-inch model; available now for pre-order, ships later this week . link

Adidas says it will stop using robots to manufacture shoes in the US and Germany by the end of next year; the company opened its first so-called Speedfactory in Ansbach, Germany in 2016, followed by an Atlanta facility in 2017; the automated tech will continue to be used at locations in Vietnam and China; follows reports the robots were only able to produce a limited range of sneakers . link

Seattle-based logistics firm Convoy raises $400M Series D on a $2.7B post-money valuation led by Generation Investment Management and T Rowe Price with participation from Baillie Gifford and others; Convoy provides a platform to pairs truck firms with shippers for specific runs; has raised $668M to date . link

Media firms Axios and The Athletic are both raising new backing, according to sources for The Information; Axios is seeking an unknown amount; it has previously raised $30M, $20M of which it still has on hand; sports website The Athletic is raising $50M on a valuation of more than $500M; it has previously raised $90M . link

A federal court in Seattle strikes down a 2018 settlement between the Department of State and 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed (DD); Judge Robert Lasnik says the agency did not provide sufficient explanation for removing an Obama-era rule that prevented TX-based DD from publishing CAD files that could be used to make guns; DD says it will appeal the decision . link

Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) writes to US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, urging the agency to not use TikTok as a recruiting platform; Schumer cites possible national security risks because TikTok’s parent firm ByteDance is based in China; the US military has started using social media platforms to help meet its recruitment goals . link

Apple adds hardware security key support for mobile Safari with iOS/iPadOS 13.3 beta; supports keys that interface via NFC, USB, and Lightning; it’s unknown when the update will roll out fully . link

Fintech firm PalmPay raises $40M seed led by Transsion-owned Tecno with participation from NetEase and MediaTek; the startup offers digital payments services via a mobile app; PalmPay has launched its first product in Nigeria, where it will come preinstalled on devices from Tecno, Infinix, and Itel . link

Facebook tried to acquire Musical.ly before it was purchased by ByteDance in 2017, according to sources for BuzzFeed News; Mark Zuckerberg actively pursued the lip-sync app by inviting co-founder Alex Zhu to Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ for talks in August 2016; the following month a Facebook team flew to visit with Musical.ly at their offices in Shanghai, but a deal did not emerge; ByteDance subsequently bought Musical.ly for ~$800M and rolled it into TikTok .Update: Facebook elected to not purchase Musical.ly because of its young user base and concerns over Chinese ownership, according to a Bloomberg source; Facebook pondered whether Musical.ly might face difficulties because of US data-handling laws for those under 13; Facebook says it decided to not pursue Musical.ly, but did not disclose a reason . link

CA-based wireless power startup GuRu (formerly Auspion) raises $15M Series A led by Kairos Ventures and BOLD Capital Partners; the company is developing millimeter-wave (mmWave) tech that promises to charge devices without making physical contact . link

UK-based fintech firm Plum raises $3M from EBRB, VentureFriends, and LendInvest CEO Christian Faes; Plum offers automated tools to help consumers manage their savings and investments; has raised $9.3M to date . link

Nike says it will no longer sell products directly on Amazon; the company started selling its apparel on the marketplace in 2017; Nike says it now wants to focus on “more direct, personal relationships”; the firm notes it will still use AWS to power its apps and websites . link

A federal investigation has been opened into Google's link

Alibaba has received approval for its Hong Kong IPO, aims to raise as much as $15B, reports South China Morning Post; Alibaba is expected to launch a roadshow this week, with plans to go public next week; the company will continue to operate its US listing which raised $25B in 2014 .Update 1: Reuters sources say Alibaba may still delay its IPO because of ongoing protests in Hong Kong; the company initially planned to launch its listing in August but delayed it because of the political activism .Update 2: CNBC says Alibaba plans to raise $13B; the firm will issue 500M ordinary shares and 75M greenshoe options . link

Disney+ acknowledges connection issues on its launch day were due to higher-than-expected consumer demand; outages tracker Downdetector registered 8.5k instances of connection problems by 6 am PT yesterday . link

Google says it has fired a staff member for leaking employee names and other details to the media; it has also placed two others on leave for alleged violations of company policy; the workers were reportedly involved in activism within the company; some employees claim Google is taking retaliatory action against those who’ve stood up to management . link

China-based EV firm Xpeng Motors raises $400M Series C from Xiaomi and others; the company is developing an all-electric sedan that it expects to launch in spring 2020; has raised $1.7B to date . link

Apple to debut the 16-inch MacBook Pro as soon as Wednesday, according to Bloomberg sources; represents the first redesign for the MacBook Pro in three years; reportedly features larger and brighter screen than the current largest model; also reportedly features a redesigned keyboard . link

Tim Cook to take Donald Trump on a tour of Apple's TX manufacturing facilities as soon as next week, according to Reuters sources; in September Apple announced it would build the new Mac Pro in Austin; Apple has emphasized its US jobs while pressing for relief from tariffs on Chinese products and components . link

Apple is in late-stage talks with former HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler for an exclusive production deal, according to multiple reports; HBO appointed Plepler as co-president in 2007; he and Co-President Michael Lombardo saw the release of link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with ROOM Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chen about the company's soundproof phone booths for offices, insights on optimizing open floor plans, partnering with Calm, maintaining capital efficiency as a hardware startup, more .Click here to listen to the full episode link

Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urges the Army to stop using China-owned social platforms for recruiting, citing laws that compel Chinese companies to share data with the Communist Party for intelligence purposes; an Army official said the branch uses TikTok for outreach but doesn't collect personal information before switching to a more traditional method of contact . link

Federal judge rules US border agents must have reasonable suspicion to conduct warrantless searches on digital devices; the ruling sets a higher standard for border agents than Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement; those agencies can apply to conduct routine searches . link

SoftBank's early Vision Fund strategy, which urged portfolio companies to grow fast through exclusivity agreements, has resulted in an effective bait-and-switch scenario for partners, The New York Times reports; SoftBank's overcapitalization and lack of oversight led to inflated valuations for unprofitable firms; the use of contracted workforces has resulted in unrest and protests . link

Intel repeatedly delayed public disclosure of chip security flaws and misled the public regarding the efficacy of security patches, according to Dutch researchers who made the company aware of critical vulnerabilities that could have allowed hackers to extract encryption keys and more from servers, personal computers, and workstations . link

Elon Musk announces Tesla will build Gigafactory 4 in the Berlin area, near the new airport; also plans a design and engineering center in Berlin; earlier this summer Musk said he expected the European Gigafactory would be operational by the end of 2021 . link

Automattic partners with Stripe for recurring payments across WordPress.com premium sites and third-party-hosted WordPress installations using Jetpack; enables weekly and monthly subscriptions, recurring donations, etc . link

Hackers target Britain’s Labour Party with two DDoS attacks in the lead up to the general election, Reuters reports; the party said the first attack was sophisticated and large scale, but ultimately failed; the party hasn't confirmed a second attack; sources say there is no evidence linking the attacks to a foreign state . link

Twitch launches live stream broadcasting software Studio in open beta; previously limited to select users; targets new streamers with plug-and-play, template-based operation . link

Purdue University and University of Iowa researchers discover 11 5G vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to track users' locations, spoof emergency alerts, more; attackers could use a malicious radio base station to execute exploits on 5G and 4G networks . link

Facebook launches Pay, a new payments system that works across Facebook properties; supports shopping, peer-to-peer payments, more; Pay is not connected with the Calibra crypto wallet or the Libra crypto network . link

Cherlynn Low reviews Snap's Spectacles 3 video recording glasses: the $380 product is more expensive than previous iterations; features a sleeker design and dual cameras for depth effects; for instance, Spectacles can shoot video of a scene and superimpose flowers falling and interacting with objects; Low views the product as a limited experiment in the potential of consumer AR . link

Facebook is investigating an apparent bug in the Facebook app for iOS after users reported rear camera activation while browsing content and feeds; many say the bug is most obvious when switching from portrait to landscape or vice versa; the camera interface appears behind active content; users expressed security and privacy concerns . link

The download for 2019-11-12 →


E-cigarette firm Juul is set to cut ~650 jobs, equal to 16 percent of its workforce; Juul had added staff at a rate of ~300 a month this year, though it implemented a hiring freeze in September; the cuts are part of a broader plan to save ~$1B across the business next year . link

CoachHub, a Germany-based digital coaching platform, raises €10M (~$11M) from Holtzbrinck Ventures, Partech, Speedinvest, and RTP Global; the firm offers a suite of management coaching tools to enterprise customers; has raised ~$17.5M to date . link

Google says it’s developing a “speed badging” system to provide users info on why a website is likely slow to load; Google says the badges will be used to identify sites authored in a way that makes them sluggish; the company says it may expand the badging to include slow networks or possible device issues . link

A court in the Netherlands says Facebook must pre-emptively filter out fake ads that use images of famous people without their permission; the ruling relates to Dutch celebrity John de Mol, whose image has featured in multiple crypto scam ads without his consent; Facebook has five days to comply with the order; follows a similar case in the UK relating to MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis . link

Huawei will pay out a total of 2B yuan (~$290M) in staff bonuses to those helping the company weather a US trade ban; Reuters speculates the payments will go to R&D and supply chain teams; Huawei’s 190k staff will also receive double pay this month in recognition of their efforts . link

UK political party Labour says it has been targeted in a large-scale cyberattack ahead of national elections; Labour says its digital platforms were targeted on Nov 11 but says it’s confident no data was stolen; it’s unclear what form the attack took or who orchestrated it . link

Apple is developing a 3D sensor for use in a range of new devices including AR and VR headsets, according to Bloomberg sources; the tech promises to let users create 3D representations of objects, spaces, and people; the company plans to launch a new iPad Pro and iPhone featuring the sensor as early as next year; Apple will then launch AR/VR devices featuring the tech in 2021; The Information previously reported Apple's plans for AR headsets . link

Nigeria-based fintech firm Interswitch raises an undisclosed sum from Visa on a $1B post-money valuation; Sky News sources say Visa has invested $200M for a 20 percent stake in the company; Interswitch offers a suite of digital payment services for consumers and SMEs; the firm is expected to launch an IPO next year . link

VC firm Angular Ventures emerges from stealth, closes its first fund at $41M; founded by ex-DFJ Esprit partner Gil Dibner, the company is targeting startups in Israel and Europe; Angular has already invested in 12 startups including nanotech security firm Dust Identity and supply chain optimization business Trellis; typical investments range from $250k to $1.5M . link

Travis Kalanick sold more than $500M worth of Uber stock after the company’s post-IPO lockup expired last week; Kalanick sold ~20M shares over a three-day period; the former Uber CEO still owns more than 75M shares . link

Disney+ streaming service goes live; Disney aims to attract 90M subscribers to the $7 per month service over the next five years .Update: Disney+ suffers connection issues; some customers report seeing an “unable to connect” error; reasons for the issue unclear . link

Facebook exec and former journalist Campbell Brown responds to scrutiny of her role on the board of nonprofit policy website The 74; the site has run a number of pieces covering presidential candidate Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), criticizing her ideas and policy plans; Judd Legum’s Popular Information newsletter brought attention to Brown’s connection to The 74; Facebook notes The 74 is not included in Facebook News . link

Twitter will likely allow political ads that spread awareness on issues of national significance, according to a source for BuzzFeed News; ads for a specific candidate or legislation will not be allowed; Twitter recently announced it will not carry political marketing, though it's yet to reveal specifics . link

Instagram is testing Scenes, a TikTok-like video editing tool for Stories, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong; lets users adjust playback speed, add music, and AR effects .Update: Instagram launches Reels, a short video tool for Stories users in Brazil; known locally as Cenas (Scenes in English), it lets users compose videos up to 15 seconds long and set them to music or any other audio; users can adjust speed, add effects, and more; unknown if or when it will roll out wider . link

London-based Balderton Capital raises $400M for its latest fund; targets European Series A startups; unclear what the VC firm will focus on, but previous targets have included fintech and healthtech . link

Microsoft says it intends to honor a new CA privacy law and expand the main principles to cover the rest of the US; under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), firms must inform users of the personal info that it collects and whether that data is sold; consumers can also opt out and ask to have their data deleted; CCPA is set to go into effect on Jan 1 2020 . link

Japan-based fintech firm WealthNavi raises $37.6M Series D from Sony Financial Ventures, Global Brain, and others; the company provides a suite of wealth-management tools; has raised more than $98M to date . link

Apple TV exec Kim Rozenfeld is officially leaving the company; Rozenfeld serves as head of scripted programming and documentary and unscripted content; he will continue to work with Apple as a producer, and has signed a first-look deal through his own company, Half Full Productions . link

ASP.NET hosting company SmarterASP.NET announces encryption attack on company and customer data; the site went down on Saturday, returning Sunday with a message indicating the team was working with security experts to decrypt user data and to prevent recurrence; affects consumer-facing sites and back-end services; claims ~440k customers . link

MIT spinout iSee, which develops predictive AI for self-driving trucks, raises $15M Series A from Founders Fund; Partner Scott Nolan said the firm was investing in the team and tech, rather than the automated logistics trend; iSee uses computer vision and deep learning to emulate common sense; raised $17.7M to date . link

SpaceX successfully launches its second 60-unit batch of Starlink satellites; the first batch launched in May; Monday's launch represented the company's first reuse of a fairing protection shield, and its first time using a booster rocket for the fourth time; SpaceX applied to launch a total of 42k Starlink satellites to provide global broadband coverage . link

Google is working with health system Ascension to collect personal health data on millions of people across 21 states, according to documents viewed by and sources speaking with The Wall Street Journal; “Project Nightingale link

Princeton and University of Chicago researchers find link

Apple removes Like Patrol from the App Store after Instagram sent the creators a cease-and-desist letter; the premium app enabled users to track others' social media activities and specifically targeted people in romantic relationships who wanted alerts about their partner's likes, follows, etc; Like Patrol's founder plans to fight the decision . link

Facebook launches Shortcuts Bar Settings, enabling users to customize the navigation bar; users can remove tabs (Groups, Marketplace, etc), silence notifications dots, more; the feature is rolling out to all users . link

EU antitrust regulator Margrethe Vestager is using a cease-and-desist rule to prevent large tech companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior while under investigation, as lawyers use stalling tactics that enable large firms to push plaintiffs out of the market; she also proposed shifting burden of proof, requiring tech companies demonstrate benefits to consumers . link

Alibaba set a new sales record for the 24-hour Singles Day shopping event, reporting ~$38.3B in gross merchandise value (GMV); up ~26 percent from last year's $30.5B (which was up 27 percent over the previous year); Alibaba used live streaming and heavy discounts to promote products across its properties for the 11th annual event . link

Google is working with health system Ascension to collect personal health data on millions of people across 21 states, according to documents viewed by and sources speaking with The Wall Street Journal; “Project Nightingale link

Atlanta-based cryptocurrency platform Bakkt launches international custody business following licensure from NY's Department of Financial Services; will use the infrastructure of parent company Intercontinental Exchange; plans to launch a cryptocurrency app for consumers and a merchant portal next year . link

Twitter to launch a new misinformation reporting tool for Britain’s Dec 12 election; specifically targets tweets intended to mislead users regarding registration and voting processes and dates; the company also developed custom election emoji activated by hashtags such as #GE19; Twitter will ban all political advertising this month . link

Twitter solicits public feedback on a draft of a new policy addressing deepfakes and other manipulated media; specifically targets content intended to mislead; Twitter plans to add a notice to tweets including such content, and to link to resources explaining why people believe the media is synthetic or altered; will remove harmful manipulated content . link

Amazon plans to open a new grocery store in Woodland Hills, CA next year; will use traditional checkouts, not the cashier-free model of Amazon Go; job listings referred to the site as Amazon's first grocery store, possibly indicating multiple Amazon-branded stores; The Wall Street Journal previously reported plans to launch in Chicago and Philadelphia . link

The We Company is in talks with T-Mobile CEO John Legere to lead the company starting as soon as January, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; WeWork Co-Founder Adam Neumann agreed to step down from the CEO position as part of a SoftBank bailout following a failed IPO . link

Amazon's aggressive campaign to recruit Chinese manufacturers and merchants to sell to customers in other countries poses risks to consumers, The Wall Street Journal reports; China-based sellers disproportionally represent products deemed unsafe, deceptively labeled, etc by US agencies; fraudulent products often undercut established ethical merchants . link

YouTube's Dec 10 terms of service update indicates the platform is under no obligation to host or serve content; a slight change of language clarifies that YouTube can cancel accounts it deems commercially inviable; other amendments clarify rules about underaged users . link

The download for 2019-11-11 →


OLX (part of Prosus) commits to invest up to $400M in Germany-based online used vehicle marketplace Frontier Car Group; the backing will be made via equity, business shares, and secondary stock sales; OLX values Frontier at $700M post-money . link

Enterprise info management firm OpenText ($14.8B market cap) acquires cloud backup company Carbonite for $1.4B; Boston-based Carbonite says it received takeover interest from a number of parties and says the OpenText deal is best for shareholders; other interested firms reportedly include Evergreen Coast Capital, KKR, and Vector Capital . link

Google has reportedly started rolling out updated Google Assistant for Pixel 3 devices; resembles Assistant on Pixel 4 with a more condensed UI, but seemingly does not have all the same features; missing continued conversations and ability to understand screen context . link

Apple is set to launch an AR headset in 2022, according to sources for The Information; the firm plans to launch a second, sleeker model in 2023; at least one device will feature 3D scanning and advanced person detection; company execs announced the timelines to some employees during an internal presentation last month; Apple is expected to discuss its plans with developers in 2021 . link

Singapore-based fintech firm M-DAQ (formerly Summit Investment) raises an undisclosed investment from Samsung; the company says its post-money valuation is ~$370M, up from ~$180M in 2015; M-DAQ offers multi-currency trading tools for securities exchanges . link

Tencent wants to work on Nintendo titles for the US and Europe, according to a source for The Wall Street Journal; Tencent wants to develop console games that feature Nintendo characters; the two companies partnered for the launch of the Nintendo Switch in China, with Tencent localizing titles and providing cloud services . link

The Wall Street Journal profiles Ahmad Abouammo, one of two former Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia; he was reportedly approached by a Saudi official during a tour of the company’s San Francisco HQ, and later recruited to carry out a number of illicit tasks; Abouammo allegedly passed along info about two specific Twitter users who were critical of the Saudi regime, and also worked to get some accounts shut down . link

Smartphone-maker Realme now has 14.3 percent of the Indian market, up from 3.1 percent last year, according to an IDC report; the Realme brand launched in May 2018 as an off-shoot of Oppo; Oppo itself has 11.8 percent of the market; Xiaomi is the most popular phone brand in India with 27.1 percent market share, followed by Samsung (18.9), Vivo (15.2 percent), then Realme and Oppo . link

GoSun launches a Kickstarter for Flatware, a credit card-sized reusable cutlery set; the stainless steel utensils fit inside a small case which promises to slot into a wallet or purse; has raised $152k on a $2.5k goal, ends Nov 22 . link

Naspers-owned Prosus makes a £4.9B (~$6.3B) hostile cash bid for UK-based food delivery firm Just Eat; Just Eat previously approved a merger with Dutch counterpart Takeaway.com; Just Eat’s board has written to shareholders, asking them to reject Prosus’ offer . link

The Pentagon engages Lockheed Martin to fix a technical fault with the display on a $400k flight helmet; pilots flying F-35 fighter jets have found their helmets can emit a distracting green glow in low-light conditions; the defense contractor will swap out LCD panels with OLED screens . link

Wired profiles Airbnb’s unsuccessful attempts to defeat a vote on new regulations for short-term rentals in Jersey City, NJ; Airbnb spent $4.2M on a local ad campaign, encouraging residents to vote against the measure; it’s estimated voters instead supported it by ~70 percent; from Jan 2020, hosts who do not live in their listed property are capped at 60 days rental per year, and many multifamily buildings are not allowed to host short-term lets . link

South China Morning Post profiles Huawei’s business six months after it was added to a US restricted entities list; founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has taken a more hands-on approach, and the firm has upped its media engagement strategy; Huawei has focused more on the Chinese market, but is also exploring the possibility of making its 5G tech available to other companies . link

Instagram is paying some people to create videos for its IGTV platform, but insists they avoid political content, reports Bloomberg; contracts explicitly state creators must not discuss “social issues, elections or politics”; Bloomberg notes Facebook Watch creators are not necessarily subject to the same restrictions . link

Alibaba’s Singles Day shopping event passes last year’s revenue record of ~$30.5B during the afternoon; the one-day sale has generated more than $12B in sales during its first hour . link

China-based WeChat adds support for overseas credit cards; lets visitors to China use WeChat Pay, its digital payments service; WeChat Pay supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, and Discover Global Network; follows a similar move by rival service Alipay . link

The SEC asked The We Company to remove some of its prospectus details before its IPO was cancelled, reports The Wall Street Journal; the agency said The We Company’s “contribution margin” measurement could be confusing; the SEC also flagged other concerns including the logic of making calculations based on 100 percent occupancy for WeWork locations . link

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian government was “a mistake”; Khosrowshahi made the comments during an episode of “Axios on HBO” where he was questioned about the appropriateness of having a Saudi official as a board member; Khosrowshahi then compared Khashoggi’s killing to the death of a pedestrian hit by one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles; Khosrowshahi later emailed the interviewers saying he’d said something he doesn’t believe, calling the murder “reprehensible” . link

Facebook apologizes after an anonymous former employee made claims of multiple instances of racism within the company; the ex-worker’s Medium post includes allegations of targeted abuse toward 12 staffers; Facebook says it’s working to do better . link

Germany-based mobility firm Voi raises $85M Series B from Balderton Capital, Creandum, and others; the company operates scooter-sharing services across multiple European cities; has raised $136M to date . link

The download for 2019-11-10 →


Data-loss prevention company Nightfall emerges with $20.3M led by Bain Capital Ventures and Venrock; provides an AI-powered platform for managing cloud data across infrastructures; monitors customer data flow and uses machine learning to classify it (personally identifiable information, non-compliant with HIPAA or GDPR, etc); can quarantine, alert, more . link

Reonomy, which operates a property information database and market intelligence platform, raises $60M Series D led by Georgian Partners; claims 100k-plus customers in development, investing, more; crowdsources and pulls data from ~100 sources . link

The Verge consolidates information about Google's coming game streaming service Stadia; launches on Nov 19 with 30-plus titles; works with Chrome browser, the Pixel 3, and Chromecast Ultra; the $130 Premiere Edition kit includes a Chromecast Ultra for 4K streaming, a controller, and three months of service . link

Octopus Interactive, which provides ride-share drivers with tablets so they can generate additional revenue, raises $10.3M led by Sinclair Digital Group; the tablets feature sponsored games through which riders can win prizes; also provides sponsored video content covering weather, ride information, etc . link

The New York Times finds the tech industry has failed to properly address the distribution of images and video of child sex abuse; databases of predatory content are available for matching purposes, but Amazon and Apple don't analyze cloud files against them; live streaming and encrypted messaging apps pose additional challenges as companies have inconsistent and often secret methodologies . link

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies vitamin E acetate as a common factor in link

Google and Twitter approved anti-vaccination ad campaigns The Daily Beast intentionally loaded with medical information and linked to conspiracy theory sites; the ads included the text link

Video game companies expect increased digital sales this holiday season as consumers increasingly favor downloaded titles over discs; Activision Blizzard, Take-Two, and Electronic Arts all raised revenue guidance in recent quarterly reports; many companies plan special in-game events and new downloadable content for the quarter, which is traditionally the industry's strongest . link

The Commerce Department faces criticism for delaying the implementation of a law Congress passed last year to restrict sales of tech products to certain countries; critics say Russia is free to invest without scrutiny, and China is rushing to acquire tech that could have military applications; the department is working on drafting rules that properly address emerging tech . link

The Atlantic covers the rise of CRM-like apps for personal relationships; Y Combinator's summer batch featured three such startups; Dex reminds the user to stay in touch with acquaintances; Garden provides a similar service covering family, friends, and coworkers . link

YouTube joins Facebook in censoring the name of the person identified by some as the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry into President Trump; Facebook said it would continue to block the name unless it became more widely reported by mainstream media; YouTube said it would scrub the name from videos, titles, and descriptions . link

NY's Department of Financial Services announces an investigation into Goldman Sachs' credit risk algorithm after entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson reported gender bias in credit limits for Apple Card customers; Hansson said he got twenty times the limit his wife got despite her having a better credit score; he did not disclose income or debt details . link

WhatsApp says an agency or agencies within the Indian government used tools from Israeli spyware company NSO Group to target 121 people in India, including journalists and human rights activists; WhatsApp recently sued NSO Group, alleging the firm exploited WhatsApp to aid governments known to violate human rights; WhatsApp has notified 1.4k targets globally including military officials . link

Instagram to test hiding like counts in the US; the company has piloted the change in Canada, Japan, and other countries; will affect some US accounts starting next week; other social media companies have experimented with hiding engagement metrics from public view to encourage healthier content and conversations . link

Mark Zuckerberg expressed concern in January 2014 about Tinder's success as an app built on Facebook user data, internal emails reveal; Facebook later restricted access for most apps but maintained Tinder's access in exchange for a copyright sharing agreement; Facebook has data-sharing agreements with jSwipe, Bumble, others . link

Facebook issues public apology in response to an anonymous Medium article that detailed race-based bias allegedly experienced by 12 current and former employees; the writer claimed the working environment had not improved in the year since former Partnerships Manager Mark Luckie publicly released a memo he wrote on anti-Black sentiment within Facebook . link

The New York Times' Jamie Condliffe summarizes TikTok's regulatory challenges in the US, notes punitive action is likely; former employees said moderators censored videos according to Chinese policy, if only due to a chilling effect; Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently noted China might require TikTok to share data on US consumers for intelligence purposes . link

Tencent acquires a 10-percent stake in Indian insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar in a deal that values the company at $1.5B, according to a Bloomberg source; Tencent reportedly bought half of Tiger Global Management's stake; PolicyBazaar has raised $477M to date, according to Crunchbase . link

WeWork announces a 90-day plan to divest itself of non-core businesses; the list includes marketing platform Conductor, office Management brand Managed by Q, and wave pool business Wave Garden; also plans layoffs not affecting WeWork physical locations; SoftBank called for unit cuts after bailing the company out in the wake of a failed IPO . link

The Wall Street Journal examines the state of SIM-swapping attacks, through which criminals take over a target's phone to access financial accounts and materials for blackmail; Google reported that text message-based two-factor authentication fails to protect against one-third of targeted attacks; experts recommend authenticator apps, password managers, and PIN-protecting mobile accounts . link

The download for 2019-11-09 →


Facebook is removing all mentions of the name of the person some have identified as the whistleblower behind the impeachment inquiry regarding President Trump; citing its policy against coordinating harm, Facebook is removing the name from articles by news partner Breitbart, user posts and comments, etc; the name remains live on Twitter . link

Indeed.com job listings for cryptocurrency-related positions grew 26 percent (as a share of total listings) over the past year, while the share of crypto-related job searches fell 53 percent; Indeed's BeSeen notes that cryptocurrency values correlate to jobseeker interest, and that businesses' increased interest in blockchain tech has resulted in new jobs . link

The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division warns tech companies that amassing consumer data could raise regulatory concerns about anti-competitive behavior; Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the department was studying how market power influences data-centric industries and referred to private information as the oil of the digital age . link

The New York Times examines the growing movement to rethink antitrust laws: to take into account the effect market dominance has on competitors and workers, not just consumers; the Google Transparency Project raised questions about large firms influencing senators to advocate existing laws, which many argue go unenforced; some argue data regulation would resolve problems frequently viewed as antitrust issues .Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to nonprofit watchdog organization the Google Transparency Project as link

YouTube continues to run the Joe Biden attack ad that prompted Facebook and Twitter to take a stand on misleading political advertising; Twitter will ban political campaign ads; Facebook stood behind its decision to run politicians' ads that violate broader platform policies; Google reportedly is considering a policy change . link

Waymo to shut down its Austin operations and focus on growing teams in Detroit and Phoenix; the company is offering to transfer Austin workers; Waymo (then a Google unit) launched its autonomous vehicle program in Austin in 2015; the shutdown follows Ford's announcement that it plans to launch self-driving taxis in Austin in 2021 . link

Facebook employees, including some top executives, argued against company policies that limited potential competitors' access user data and ability to advertise on the platform, according to internal chats and emails from 2012 and 2013; Mark Zuckerberg and senior managers rejected arguments of ethics, saying the survival of the company was more important . link

Apple plans to address a macOS flaw that leaves text from encrypted Apple Mail emails accessible and readable on the sender's drive; macOS stores text from sent emails to inform Siri recommendations; the vulnerability affects users who haven't engaged File Vault for disk encryption on Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and Sierra . link

OneZero's Will Oremus examines the dilemma of deploying autonomous vehicles: companies anxious to gather real-world driving data and be first to market might cut corners in terms of safety; imperfect self-driving systems are likely safer than human drivers, and their deployment represents a step ultimately leading to much greater safety; cities and states face a similar dilemma: regulating tech that could lead to them becoming established hubs . link

UK-based Immersive Labs, a gamified platform for learning cybersecurity skills, raises $40M led by Summit Partners; incorporates actual zero-day vulnerabilities and real-world hacking techniques for simulated attacks; the company has an office in Boston and plans US expansion . link

Snapdocs (YC W14), which digitizes and automates mortgage processes, raises $25M Series B led by F-Prime Capital; provides white-label dashboards for agents, and a customer portal for signing documents, notary services, more; handles 750k closings per year; raised $45M to date . link

AngelList launches its fund hosting platform in India; enables angels to raise blind pools for investment over six to 12 months; AngelList takes a five-percent fee and handles all legal and regulatory issues; fund managers make 15 percent . link

Blackstone acquires controlling stake in dating app company MagicLab, which owns Bumble and Badoo; the stake comes from Badoo Founder Andrey Andreev, who is stepping away from the business; Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd is taking over as MagicLab CEO; TechCrunch reports her stake is ~19 percent; the deal values MagicLab at $3B . link

Andreessen Horowitz opens applications for the new Crypto Startup School; the seven-week program will teach entrepreneurs about blockchain technology, best practices for building businesses in the space, more; the program is free, and A16Z will not take equity; starts Feb 21 . link

The download for 2019-11-08 →


Bloomberg profiles Google’s use of temporary, vendor, and contract staff (known internally as TVCs); the report notes roughly half of Google’s workforce are TVCs, but says they do not benefit from the same perks as Google employees; the company has blocked TVCs from accessing certain planning docs, and from joining specific online groups . link

China-based digital ads agency Cue is preparing for a US IPO, aims to raise $300M to $400M, according to Reuters sources; Cue has hired Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley to work on the listing; expected to go public in early 2020 . link

Paris-based Shopinvest is in talks to acquire fellow e-commerce firm Rue du Commerce from French supermarket chain Carrefour; Carrefour has confirmed the bid, but financial terms remain undisclosed; Carrefour acquired Rue du Commerce in 2015 . link

An international committee of lawmakers calls for a pause on micro-targeting for misleading political ads; officials from several countries including the US, UK, Australia, and Finland met in Dublin to discuss the issue of online disinformation campaigns; follows criticism of Facebook’s stance that it will not take down demonstrably false ads and posts from politicians . link

Alibaba invests $3.3B in logistics unit Cainiao, upping its stake from 51 percent to 63 percent; Cainiao operates warehouses and a range of express delivery services on behalf of Alibaba; Cainiao also partners with third-party fulfilment firms . link

Elon Musk posits establishing the first sustainable city on Mars could take ~20 years; responding to a question on Twitter, Musk suggests the effort would require 1k SpaceX Starships as Earth and Mars are only in alignment every two years . link

Natalie Sojka, a former employee of The We Company, files a lawsuit against the company alleging its payments to ex-CEO Adam Neumann are unfair to minority shareholders; Sojka and other staff exercised stock options, but those privately-held shares have significantly dropped in value over recent months; The We Company says Sojka claims are baseless . link

More than 150 WeWork employees have sent a letter to company execs asking that they treat staff with respect as the firm restructures; referring to themselves as the WeWorkers Coalition, the group says those who lose their jobs should be given severance, compensation for any devalued stock, and continued health benefits . link

Cable network Discovery says it’s considering launching a streaming service; CEO David Zaslav announced the prospect during an earnings call; Zaslav says the firm would likely consolidate its US programming into a single offering, noting he doesn’t see any conflicts with the company’s existing pay-TV partnerships . link

ShiftCam launches an Indiegogo for an iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro case featuring multiple slide-over lenses; comprises a 4x telephoto, 180-degree fisheye, 10x and 20x macro lenses, and a polarizer lens; has raised $80k on a $10k goal, ends Dec 6 . link

E-cigarette firm Juul removes mint-flavored pods from sale; follows research from the Journal of the American Medical Association showing it is the most popular flavor among 10th and 12th graders; Juul previously ended sales of flavors such as mango and creme . link

Games company Zynga has $1.4B available and says it’s seeking acquisitions; speaking with The Information, CEO Frank Gibeau discusses the firm’s previous financial struggles and some of the changes made to stabilize its operations; Gibeau says Zynga is considering takeovers of various sizes . link

Alibaba plans to officially announce its Hong Kong IPO next week, aims to raise as much as $15B, according to Bloomberg sources; the company is currently preparing a listing hearing, which is a local requirement; unclear when it will list .Update: Alibaba will launch its IPO after its annual Singles Day sale event on Nov 11, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the firm is aiming to raise between $10B and $15B . link

YouTube announces a homepage redesign for desktop web; offers larger thumbnails, higher quality video, and channel icons on each video; also provides access to the “add to queue” feature on each thumbnail . link

Twitter is set to roll out a set of experiments aimed at encouraging better user behavior on its platform; the firm wants to see how changes to retweets and replies might impact how users interact; will include auto-populating quote tweets and replies with a suggested emoji; if a user swaps to a negative emoji, they will see a response asking why they disagree . link

Google names Sanjay Gupta as manager and VP of sales and operations for India; he previously served as an exec at Disney India and Star India; Gupta replaces Rajan Anandan who left Google to join Sequoia India . link

Disney CEO Bob Iger says Disney+ will be available on Amazon’s Fire TV at launch; the company previously announced support for Android, iOS, iPadOS, Apple TV, and Roku; Disney+ launches in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands on Nov 12 .Update: Disney+ will launch in Australia and New Zealand on Nov 19; the service will launch in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain on March 31 2020 . link

New York City-based agtech company Bowery Farming raises $50M Series B (extension) led by Temasek; the seed-to-store indoor farming company also opened a new location in the Baltimore-DC area; uses computer vision, machine learning, and automation to optimize growth without pesticides and minimal water; raised $173M to date . link

This Week in Startups: The Next UnicornsJason speaks with Sajith Wickramasekara, Co-Founder and CEO of life sciences R&D platform Benchling; they discuss recent innovations in the field, the ethics of gene therapy, the line between quackery and brilliance, more; the final episode in a 10-part miniseries .Click here to listen to the full episode link

MA-based consumer DNA testing company Veritas Genetics confirms data breach and theft of customer information; the company did not disclose the nature of the stolen data, but said it did not include medical information or test results; Veritas has initiated an external investigation . link

Text messaging glitch affecting all major US carriers results in November delivery of messages sent in February; senders did nothing to reattempt delivery, and recipients reported getting the messages for the first time on Nov 7; users of Canadian carriers and Google Voice report similar delays; T-Mobile attributed the problem to a third-party vendor . link

Consumer-focused seed-stage firm Starting Line emerges with $17M debut fund; Founding Partner Ezra Galston previously served as a principal at Chicago Ventures; Starting Line claims 11 investments over the past year, including Cameo: a startup enabling users to order video shoutouts from celebrities . link

Lordstown Motors, which plans to begin manufacturing electric pick-up trucks by the end of next year, acquires General Motors' shuttered plant in Lordstown, OH; Workhorse Group owns 10 percent of the new business; former Tesla Director of Manufacturing Operations Rich Schmidt serves as chief production officer . link

Protesters in Hong Kong are using numerous apps and social network groups to identify restaurants, shops, and other businesses as either pro-government (marked blue) or protester-friendly (marked yellow); green represents neutral zones; Whatsgap, with 200k downloads, displays business affiliations according to users' votes . link

Autonomous driving tech company Ghost emerges with $64M from Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, and Sutter Hill Ventures; founded and led by Pure Storage Co-Founder and former Yahoo CTO John Hayes, the startup is developing aftermarket kits to enable autonomous highway driving for popular vehicle models; expects to launch next year . link

Federal prosecutors file charges against NY-based surveillance hard and software company Aventura Technologies, alleging the import and illegal sale of Chinese products; authorities arrested six of seven current and former employees facing charges; prosecutors say the defendants marketed Chinese products as US-made beginning in 2006 . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with HubSpot CEO, MIT Senior Lecturer, and author Brian Halligan; the conversation covers insights on the origin of inbound marketing, how the Grateful Dead inspired HubSpot, the importance of the customer experience, managing employees in the Glassdoor era, more .Click here to listen to the full episode link

Google open-sources phone-powered VR system Cardboard, three weeks after discontinuing the Daydream platform and View headset; Google previously released the plans for making cardboard headsets, and has now made the source code available; Google sold ~15M Cardboard units but saw usage decline . link

Microsoft begins shipping the $3.5k HoloLens 2 to pre-order customers in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand; compared with the first HoloLens, the new model features improved ergonomics, an increased field of view, and more advanced gesture control . link

OpenAI releases the full version of AI-powered text generation system GPT-2; the nonprofit previously launched restricted versions of the AI model due to fears that it could be used to spread disinformation and spam; GPT-2, trained on 8M documents, is capable of writing articles based on headlines, completing poems, more . link

T-Mobile announces programs contingent on its merger with Sprint: 10 years of free 5G service for emergency responders, a $15-per-month phone plan, and free home broadband service for 10M low-income households with children (including a mobile hotspot and free tablet); also promised New T-Mobile's 5G would cover 200M people nationwide on Dec 6 . link

Travis Kalanick's CloudKitchens raised $400M at a ~$5B valuation from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund in January, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the company provides commissary facilities for delivery-only restaurants; also operates several restaurant brands; the fund made significant investments in Uber when Kalanick was at the helm . link

The download for 2019-11-07 →


Seattle-based on-demand vehicle maintenance firm Wrench raises $20M led by Vulcan Capital with participation from Madrona Venture Group and others; the company dispatches mechanics to fleet operators and individual customers; has raised $24M to date . link

China is set to introduce relaxed rules for public stock listings in an effort to encourage more domestic IPOs, reports The Wall Street Journal; under the new guidance, local firms will be able to list domestically and overseas; there are also adjustments in the authorized size of foreign-held assets; the new regulations will apply to the country’s STAR market which launched earlier this year; regulators are expected to announce changes soon . link

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says the company plans to continue increasing its content spending; Netflix is projected to spend $15B on original and acquired content this year, which is up from $12B in 2018; speaking at The New York Times DealBook conference Hastings notes the company has no plans to acquire film theaters, but says it will keep releasing some films theatrically . link

Digital media firm I’m Shmacked allegedly induced college students to invest their own money in creating videos for the brand, reports The New York Times; I’m Shmacked showcases footage from parties and other social activities, usually created by undergraduates who have been told they’ll be able to make money as social media influencers; the report says thousands of students have paid to be a part of the platform; some of those who complained about a lack of income say they were threatened with lawsuits . link

Chinese regulators announce new rules intended to curb online video game addiction among younger players; the General Administration of Press and Publication says individuals under the age of 18 cannot play games between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am; they are also restricted to 90 minutes of play on weekdays, or 180 minutes per day on weekends and public holidays; children aged 8 to 16 are are also only allowed to spend ~$30 per month on in-game purchases, those aged 16 to 18 can spend ~$60 . link

Finland-based mobility firm MaaS Global raises €29.5M (~$33M) from BP Ventures, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Nordic Ninja; the company operates Whim, an app that lets users purchase rides for buses, trains, and taxis; also offers bike-sharing and access to rental cars; has raised $60M to date . link

China-based EV firm NIO signs a partnership with Intel-owned self-driving tech firm Mobileye; terms undisclosed; the companies plan to develop Level 4 autonomous vehicles; NIO says it’s aiming to launch its first driverless car in 2022; NIO is licensed to test driverless vehicles in CA and Shanghai . link

WhatsApp starts rolling out a feature to let users decide who can add them to group chats; users can also enable settings that will ask for their confirmation before being added to a group; the changes are available within Settings . link

Uber says it will likely have to sign a licensing deal with Waymo or change its existing self-driving tech; follows an expert review of its software which found Uber is partially using some of Waymo’s code; the review was ordered as part of a settlement between the companies after Uber was accused of misappropriating Waymo’s trade secrets; it’s unclear when Uber will have to make a decision about its driverless tech . link

Lyft has explored the possibility of running a bike-sharing service in London; the company approached local regulator Transport for London (TfL) about the possibility of overseeing the city’s main bike rental scheme; TfL ruled out the plan; Uber-owned Jump and several other bike-sharing firms currently operate in London . link

UK-based proptech firm Immo raises €11M (~$12.2M) Series A led by Talis Capital and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures with participation from DST Global and others; the company operates an online home purchasing and letting service on behalf of buy-to-rent investors . link

Uber faces a lawsuit from drivers in NYC who say the company has not paid back deducted taxes and fees; the New York Taxi Workers Alliance claims Uber is yet to pass along sales tax and Black Car Fund surcharges to drivers; the plaintiffs are seeking class status and hope to represent almost 100k individuals who drove for Uber between 2013 and 2017 . link

Shares in Xerox and HP rise following news of a potential merger; Xerox shares were up 3.6 percent yesterday, while HP closed 6.4% up; Xerox has reportedly made an unknown cash-and-stock offer for HP, though it’s uncertain if a deal will be reached; HP has also disclosed the two firms previously discussed a merger . link

Google is open sourcing the software behind its Cardboard VR project; the company previously made the VR viewer open source; Google says it has shipped more than 15M Cardboard units since 2014, but notes usage has declined over time; the company says it plans to still contribute to the project . link

Facebook started restricting developer access in 2012 to thwart potential rivals, according to court docs seen by Reuters; execs referred to the move as the “Switcheroo Plan,” because the company was publicly presenting it as an effort to improve user privacy; the docs relate to a case involving app developer Six4Three, who launched a lawsuit against Facebook in 2015 .Update: internal Facebook communications show the company viewed messaging apps as a threat to its platform just months before acquiring WhatsApp in 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal; several execs described WhatsApp as a threat, and Mark Zuckerberg posited multiple chat apps were attempting to build their own social networks . link

Google is considering changing its political ad policies, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; full plans unclear, but the firm has been holding internal discussions about the proposed changes; Google is expected to unveil more details to staff this week; Twitter has recently chosen to stop carrying political ads, while Facebook says it will not take down misinformation from politicians . link

The Department of Justice charges two former Twitter employees with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia; Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah is accused of accessing 6k user accounts, including those critical of the kingdom’s leadership; US citizen Ahmad Abouammo allegedly looked at accounts for three users; additionally, Ahmed Almutairi is said to have served as an intermediary between the pair and Saudi officials . link

Alphabet's board is investigating how several execs dealt with allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment claims, reports CNBC; includes a probe into the way allegations against Chief Legal Officer David Drummond were handled; the board has formed a subcommittee and hired an outside law firm to assist with the investigation .Update: Alphabet’s board expects to complete its investigation by next month, according to a CA court filing; the company is being sued by several shareholder groups over its handling of misconduct claims; Alphabet is expected to officially respond to the shareholders’ complaints by Dec 13 . link

HP ($29B market cap) confirms ongoing sale talks with Xerox ($8.3B market cap); Xerox made a formal offer on Tuesday; HP did not disclose details, but The Wall Street Journal previously reported a price above $27B; Hewlett-Packard split into two companies in 2014, with HP representing printers and computers, and HPE representing enterprise software and servers . link

Dan Seifert reviews Amazon's $200 Echo Studio for The Verge: he says it's Amazon's best Echo speaker for music, and perhaps the best-sounding smart speaker he's reviewed; though, the 3D audio feature has yet to reach potential; Studio adjusts output according to environment and works with multiple streaming services, in addition to Fire TV; lacks bass response without the optional Echo Sub . link

Apple and the Department of Veterans Affairs announce that vets can now access health information via iPhone; includes immunization records, data from health-tracking apps, information from multiple medical care providers, more; non-veterans are limited to data from providers that have integrated with Apple's health records service . link

Google announces the App Defense Alliance, a partnership with antivirus and malware protection companies ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium to vet apps prior to launch on the Play Store; partners will scan app submissions for phishing scams, trojans, adware, ransomware, more . link

Twitter to launch Topics, enabling users to follow subjects within the broader categories of entertainment, sports, and gaming; the company began testing the feature on Android in August and plans a full rollout on Nov 13; will initially offer 300 topics, including news about individual sports teams . link

Canadian business intelligence company Coveo raises $172M at a ~$1.1B valuation led by Omers; provides a machine learning-powered SaaS platform for enterprise data search and insights; serves 500 enterprise customers, including Salesforce, Visa, and Honeywell . link

Elpha (YC S19), a professional network for women in tech, raises $1.1M seed from Maveron, Moxxie Ventures, others; conceived and created within Y Combinator by YC Engineering Lead Cadran Cowansage; the site conducts AMA-type sessions with women in leadership positions, provides user-generated company ratings, more . link

London-based investment platform eToro acquires Belgian cryptocurrency portfolio tracker Delta; terms undisclosed but a TechCrunch source indicates a $5M deal; eToro provides social trading across stocks, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrencies; Delta offers pricing data and more to inform crypto trades . link

3D printing tech company Desktop Metal announces Fiber, a new desktop printer supporting continuous fiber composite materials; enables the printing of high-resolution parts with industrial grade strength; applications include manufacturing automotive and aviation parts . link

The New York Times' Conor Dougherty argues that $4.5B from Apple, Google, and Facebook can't resolve CA's housing crisis, due in part to a lack of coordination with local governments and communities; in 2016 the McKinsey Global Institute estimated the state needed 3.5M new units by 2025 to eliminate the shortage; in the Bay Area, the addition of jobs has dramatically outpaced new housing . link

CA is investigating Facebook's data-sharing practices; the state demanded in a court filing that the company respond to an earlier subpoena regarding an 18-month probe into Facebook's disclosure of user data to partners including Cambridge Analytica; 47 states are investigating Facebook for anti-competitive practices and more . link

Jersey City voters approve a ballot measure to impose new rules for short-term rental companies; Airbnb spent ~$4M fighting the measure, running TV commercials and sending out mailers; the rules take effect in January and set limits on the size and number of rentals; they also require companies obtain city-issued licenses . link

Facebook limited user data access for developers the company viewed as potential competitors, according to court documents viewed by Reuters; Facebook began the practice in 2012, ostensibly to protect user privacy; internal emails revealed executives referring to the official explanation as the link

The New York Times visits Munich-based flying taxi startup Lilium; the company hopes to deploy fleets of its all-electric craft for on-demand transport in urban areas within five years; Founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand expects a trip from Manhattan to JFK Airport will cost passengers $70; ~20 startups are working in the same space, including Kitty Hawk, created by former Google autonomous car engineers . link

Uber ($45.4B market cap) shares opened at a new low of $26.05 on Wednesday as the company's post-IPO share lockup expired; Wedbush Securities estimated that 763M of Uber's 1.7B outstanding shares unlocked, and that ~25 percent of unlocked shares represent early investors and insiders likely to sell .Update: Shares closed at $26.94 . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Alex MacCaw, Co-Founder and CEO of marketing intelligence company Clearbit; the conversation covers how the company's Clearbit X product is like link

Airbnb announces new policies following a fatal shooting at a party house rental; Airbnb will verify all platform listings, establish a guarantee for listings that don't match descriptions, manually review high-risk listings, and create a 24/7 neighbor hotline; CEO Brian Chesky also hinted the company would pursue a direct listing rather than IPO . link

Tesla to unveil its electric pickup truck on Thursday, Nov 21; Elon Musk tweeted that the event would take place in Los Angeles, near the company's Hawthorne facility; the LA Auto Show begins at the Convention Center on Nov 22; last month, Musk said the truck looks more like an armored personnel carrier from the future than it does fan concept designs . link

The download for 2019-11-06 →


Apple is seemingly working on a fix for an iOS/iPadOS 13 multitasking bug, reports ZDNet; follows complaints from users that the software’s memory management is not working correctly, causing apps to lose their current state when switching between tasks; iOS/iPadOS 13.3 beta reportedly includes a partial solution, though it’s unclear if the problem will be fully resolved; unknown when the update will rollout fully . link

Huawei says it has not directly entered discussions with any US companies about licensing its 5G tech; follows comments from Huawei SVP Vincent Pang, who said the firm is engaged in early-stage talks with unidentified parties; Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei says “middlemen” do not directly represent any US firms . link

Uber is set to offer ad space to restaurants within its Uber Eats app; it's unclear when the initiative will launch, but the company is advertising for a Toronto-based Ads Lead . link

Paul Maidment steps down as editorial director of G/O Media; Maiment says he’s leaving to explore entrepreneurial opportunities; follows mass resignations at G/O Media property Deadspin; Maidment drew criticism for telling Deadspin writers to “stick to sports” . link

FirstVet, a Sweden-based online veterinary service, raises €18.5M (~$20.5M) Series B led by Omers Ventures with participation from Creandum; the startup offers video call appointments with vets; FirstVet says it plans to expand to more markets including the US, Germany, and France, has raised more than $27M to date . link

Vietnam-based digital entertainment firm Pops Worldwide raises $30M led by Eastbridge Partners and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund; the company offers streaming shows, music, and more across Southeast Asia; also produces content for other providers . link

Voters in San Francisco vote to uphold a citywide ban against e-cigarettes; the ballet measure was backed by Juul, but it was ultimately rejected by at least 78 percent of voters; following the vote, San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera said “Juul is Big Tobacco,” and suggested the company is using the tactics of the tobacco industry . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will sell 20M units of unannounced iPhone SE 2 in 2020; the device will reportedly have a 4.7-inch display and feature an A13 processor; Apple is expected to announce it in the spring . link

Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro claims a former employee sold data for as many as 120k customers to scammers; the stolen info includes names, email addresses, and more; full details unclear, but Trend Micro says it became aware of the situation when it received reports of customer calls from individuals pretending to be from the company; Trend Micro says it has informed law enforcement . link

Tesla plans to double its number of maintenance and repair facilities in China, according to Reuters sources; the company is planning to open 34 new service centers over the coming months; Tesla will also adapt some of its vehicle showrooms, adding on-site maintenance support . link

Canada-based enterprise search service Coveo raises $227M on a post-money valuation of more than $1B; the round was led by Omers Capital with participation from Evergreen Coast Capital, FSTQ, and IQ Ventures; Coveo offers customer-facing search tools for company websites; has raised $402M to date . link

Didi Chuxing plans to relaunch its Hitch carpooling service later this month; the company suspended Hitch after an unauthorized driver killed a passenger; Didi Chuxing will initially operate Hitch in seven Chinese cities, and will not offer late-night trips for female riders . link

YouTube announces personalized Shopping ads; the carousel of static ads are based on a user’s web activity and presented within the YouTube home feed and search results . link

Mark Zuckerberg is open to Facebook limiting micro-targeting for misleading ads from politicians, according to sources for NBC News; the company is considering a range of measures to restrict the spread of misinformation, but Zuckerberg reportedly has no plans to change the firm’s broader policy towards political ads . link

SoftBank takes a $4.6B write-down against its stakes in Uber, The We Company, and other investments; SoftBank lost ~$6.5B over its last quarter; follows an additional multi-billion-dollar investment in The We Company after its failed IPO .Update 1: The Vision Fund lost $8.9B over the same period .Update 2: SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son says there will be no more bailouts for its portfolio of investments, noting “WeWork is the last one”; Son says he has ordered The We Company to stop new developments and to cut unprofitable units; he also says SoftBank explored whether it could back out of a $1.5B commitment when the The We Company’s governance issues became clear . link

Xerox is considering a takeover bid for HP, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; it’s unclear how much Xerox might offer but HP has a current market cap of $27B; Xerox has a funding commitment from an unnamed bank, and would likely make a cash-and-stock offer . link

Amperity acquires fellow analytics firm Custora; terms undisclosed; Custora offers customer insight tools to enterprise users; has raised $20.3M to date . link

Facebook says as many as 100 developers may have improperly accessed user info via its Groups feature; Facebook lets admins use third-party tools to manage Groups, which in turn allows those developers limited user insight; the company introduced greater restrictions last year, but says some developers continued to see more data than they should; Facebook says it has since cut off access for the unnamed developers . link

FL detective reveals he obtained a search warrant authorizing full access to the database of consumer DNA services company GEDmatch, which claims ~1M users; GEDmatch decided in May to make inclusion in legal searches opt-in for customers; the warrant, which some legal experts say is the first of its kind, supersedes opt-in protection . link

AT&T to pay $60M to settle FTC charges related to the carrier throttling speeds for unlimited data plan users once they had passed a volume threshold; the $60M will fund partial refunds to customers who signed up for relevant plans before AT&T's throttling policy went into effect in 2011 . link

Riskfield, which provides fraud chargeback protection for e-commerce companies, raises $165M Series E at a $1B-plus valuation led by General Atlantic; uses machine learning based on data from 500k transactions per day to distinguish legitimate purchases from fraudulent; employs ~420 in Tel Aviv and New York City, plans a Shanghai office by year's end . link

Toronto-based mental health startup MindBeacon raises ~$14M Series A led by Green Shield Canada; provides a mobile solution through which therapists can track clients' progress, emotional states, etc, and tailor treatment . link

Hootsuite Founder Ryan Holmes steps down as CEO, will stay on as executive chair; he established the social media management startup in 2008 and grew the freemium service to 200k paid customers; the company explored a sale last year and reportedly laid off ~10 percent of its workforce in April . link

BC-based CTO.ai, a development and operations platform connecting CTOs with their teams, raises $7.5M seed from Tiger Global, Slack Fund, others; provides workflow management tools; users can create EasyButtons that trigger common DevOps tasks . link

Financial services company Interac acquires digital identity and cybersecurity company 2Keys; terms undisclosed; the deal includes ~100 2Keys employees; 2Keys performs 4M identity verifications per day and supports 40M total users; the companies previously collaborated on secure access to government services . link

FCC publishes order approving T-Mobile's $26B merger with Sprint; the Department of Justice approved the deal in July with requirements, including the sale of Sprint's Boost Mobile to Dish and New T-Mobile's commitment to a 5G deployment schedule; numerous states have sued to block the merger, citing decreased competition and a potential increase in prices . link

Boulder-based software development services company Techtonic raises $6M Series B led by Camden Partners; operates a paid apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor; includes classroom and on-the-job training; plans to launch apprenticeship programs in Kansas City and El Paso; raised $11M to date . link

CVS and UPS announce their first commercial UAV deliveries of prescription medications to customer homes; the Nov 1 flights included two autonomous deliveries in Cary, NC; a safety pilot was present; Alphabet's Wing recently launched a commercial drone delivery pilot in VA . link

Chicago-based Ascent, a compliance platform for financial services companies, raises $19.3M Series A led by Drive Capital; uses AI to automate compliance processes and integrate rule changes; also offers complaint tracking and management; raised $27M to date . link

Robinhood bug enables users to trade virtually unlimited borrowed funds, according to users of the /r/WallStreetBets subreddit; the link

San Diego-based marketing tools company Seismic acquires New York City-based Percolate; terms undisclosed; Percolate CEO Randy Wootton will continue to lead his team under Seismic; Seismic has raised $165M to date; investors valued the company at $1B last year; Percolate previously raised $107M . link

MA-based NeighborSchools, which operates a platform for establishing and running daycares, raises $3.5M seed led by Accomplice; the startup helps caregivers go through the licensing process, then connects parents and guardians with nearby daycares . link

Toronto-based Untether AI, which is developing an AI inference chip for edge computing, announces $20M Series A from Radical Ventures (Partner Tomi Poutanen joins board), Intel Capital, others; also named Arun Iyengar as CEO . link

Valence, a professional network for Black talent, launches with $2.5M from Upfront Ventures, Human Ventures, and others; founded by Upfront GP Kobie Fuller, La Mer Walker, and Emily Slade; aims to connect professionals with leaders for job opportunities, advice, more; plans networking events . link

The download for 2019-11-05 →


Researchers claim they are able to trigger smart devices such as Nest Home and Amazon’s Echo using laser pointers; teams from Japan’s University of Electro-Communications and the University of Michigan say the mics in variety of smart speakers and some smartphones interpret the beams as sound; they theorize hackers could modulate laser light, using it to send instructions to smart devices . link

The UK government introduces a drone registration scheme; UAVs and model aircraft that weigh between 250 grams and 44 lbs must be registered; pilots are also required to pass a theory exam; the rules will go into effect Nov 30 . link

Company management platform Parabol raises $4M from CRV, Haystack, and SlackFund; the firm provides tools to let businesses analyze goals, outcomes from meetings, and more; has raised $4.5M to date . link

Rakuten says it expects to take a ~$950M charge against its investment in Lyft; the company notes Lyft’s stock price has “fallen significantly” over the July-September quarter; Rakuten is Lyft’s largest shareholder with an 11 percent stake . link

Jim Lanzone steps down as head of CBS Interactive; he will become Executive in Residence at Benchmark Capital; Lanzone previously served as CEO of Ask.com, and also founded Clicker Media which was acquired by CBS in 2011 . link

Reverend Al Sharpton says he and several other civil rights activists have met with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to discuss Facebook’s decision to not fact-check ads and other content from politicians; the meeting took place at Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto home over a period of two hours; the activists expressed concerns that Facebook’s policy could lead to voter suppression, but Sharpton notes Zuckerberg gave no indication the firm will change its stance . link

Dropbox rolls out its file transfer tool (previously available in beta); Dropbox Transfer lets premium users send files of up to 2GB or 100GB (plan dependent); free users are capped at 100MB . link

Xerox agrees to sell its 25 percent stake in Fuji Xerox to Fujifilm for $2.3B; Xerox and Fujifilm previously agreed a $6B merger in which the Japanese firm would be the controlling partner, but the deal collapsed following pushback from activist investors; Fuji Xerox will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujifilm . link

Microsoft is set to launch a unified Office app for iOS and Android; the free app combines lightweight versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint; also includes PDF tools; it’s currently available for beta users; unclear when it will roll out fully; Microsoft already offers a combined Office app for Samsung Galaxy Note 10 customers . link

Megvii, a China-based facial recognition firm, is considering delaying its Hong Kong IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; the company is concerned it’s current $4B valuation may be under threat because it has been added to a US restricted entities list; Megvii is in talks with advisers to discuss whether to proceed with the listing, or to focus on getting itself off the entities list . link

India-based edtech firm Gradeup raises $7M Series A from Times Internet; Gradeup offers a platform for exam prep, online courses, and more; has raised $10M to date . link

SoftBank plans to implement tighter governance controls on new investments, according to the Financial Times; the firm is set to outline stricter rules for dual-class shares on Nov 6; the company’s Vision Fund is also considering adopting the new standards; comes as SoftBank is expected to announce a multi-billion-dollar write-down against its investment in The We Company . link

More than 1k Google employees sign an open letter to the company’s management, calling on eliminate its eliminate carbon footprint by 2030; the workers say they are concerned their jobs are contributing to climate change; follows similar activism by staff at Amazon . link

UK-based healthtech firm Medopad raises $25M Series B led by Bayer with participation from NWS Holdings and Healthbox; the company provides a data monitoring platform for the healthcare industry; has raised more than $50M to date . link

The Wall Street Journal profiles the state of several SoftBank Vision Fund portfolio companies in the wake of The We Company's struggles; pet services app Wag is reportedly up for sale, and car-lease app Fair.com is struggling to stay solvent; Didi Chuxing and South Korea-based e-commerce firm Coupang are both losing money; SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son personally backed a loan to OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal, who used the money to invest $2B in the hotel platform . link

Uber ($52.8B market cap) Q3 beats: $3.8B revenue, up 30 percent year-on-year ($3.7B expected); $1.2B net loss; $645M Uber Eats revenue, up 64 percent year-on-year; CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the firm is targeting EBITDA profitability by the end of 2021 .Uber’s stock fell 5.5 percent in after-hours trading . link

Facebook introduces a new logo for its parent company; the firm says the new Facebook brandmark will appear across its properties including the login screens of Instagram and WhatsApp; CMO Antonio Lucio says it’s intended to ensure users know Facebook owns those apps; the logo will not replace the traditional Facebook logo on its main social platform . link

SaaS company Workday acquires procurement platform Scout RFP for $540M; the company provides digital sourcing tools to SMEs; has raised more than $60M to date . link

Meetup, which is owned by The We Company, cuts as much as 25 percent of its workforce, reports TechCrunch; sources say most of the losses come from the engineering team; Meetup has confirmed the restructuring, but not disclosed figures . link

London-based fintech startup Pollinate launches with $77M from Mastercard, Motive Partners, and others; the platform integrates with legacy banking systems to support modern consumer and merchant solutions; Pollinate aims, in part, to simplify post-acquisition integrations . link

Amazon's Alexa Fund partners with Accelerator Centre to launch the Alexa Voice Tech Accelerator at the University of Waterloo; the accelerator will select five Canadian companies to participate in a six- to 12-month program to develop businesses that have or will integrate voice control into products or services . link

Bigfinite, a manufacturing analytics platform for regulated industries, raises $15M Series B from Uncork Capital, Crosslink Capital, others; provides an AI-powered SaaS product targeting pharmaceutical and biotech companies; addresses manufacturing optimization, quality issues, more; raised $24M to date . link

Toronto-based financial planning services company Planswell shuts down; all 57 employees have lost their jobs; the company acted as a broker, connecting users with mortgage providers, investment opportunities, more; Planswell confirmed in September that a former employee had accused Co-Founder Michael Wickware of sexual harassment; the company hasn't disclosed if the case contributed to the shutdown . link

Fintech company Deserve raises $50M Series C led by Goldman Sachs; targets young people, providing access to fair credit products; Deserve is also developing a cards-as-a-service platform to enable brands, retailers, and others to create credit products tailored to their customers . link

The New York Times Company, Adobe, and Twitter announce the Content Authenticity Initiative, a coalition of companies working toward standardized artist attribution tools; will enable third parties to determine who created an original artwork and whether copies were modified; the group also cited applications in news verification . link

Kojima Productions, the game studio behind link

Shenzhen-based Codemao, a coding education platform for kids, raises $57M Series C and announces plans to list on the STAR Market tech board; the company has hired banks to underwrite; timeline undisclosed, but CFO Zhang Wei said earlier this year Codemao expected to go public within two years . link

Enterprise cybersecurity company Proofpoint ($6.5B market cap) acquires Boston-based inside threat management company ObserveIT for $225M; the deal will enable Proofpoint to offer an integrated solution for data loss prevention across apps and devices; ObserveIT previously raised $53M . link

Minneapolis-based daily fantasy soccer company Starting 11 raises $5M from Brand Capital, the investment arm of Indian media conglomerate The Times Group; the startup plans expansion to India; previously launched in the US, UK, Canada, and Germany . link

Spain’s National Security Department discloses ransomware attacks against companies in the country; the department did not specify victims apart from the radio broadcaster Cadena SER; Reuters reports multiple media and tech companies sent employees home due to infection . link

EV battery manufacturer Sila Nanotechnologies raises $45M from the Canada Pension Investment Board; also appointed board member Kurt Kelty, who previously led battery tech for Tesla, as VP of Automotive; also hired former SunPower EVP Bill Mulligan; raised $340M to date . link

Spa and Salon management startup Boulevard raises $12M Series A led by Index Ventures; the platform-as-a-service handles booking, payments, inventory, payroll, more; also provides insights . link

Seoul-based autonomous mobility company Code42 raises $25M led by Kia Motors; the company is developing the UMOS (Urban Mobility Operating System) to connect self-driving vehicles, UAVs, and robots for delivery services; the company is also developing the UMOS Connect platform for global autonomous transportation-as-a-service . link

Distributed cloud services platform Volterra emerges with $50M from Microsoft, Samsung, Khosla, and others; has operated in stealth for two years, amassing 30 customers and 100-plus engineers; provides automated management of apps and infrastructure across clouds . link

The download for 2019-11-04 →


Pitzi, a Brazil-based insurtech firm, raises an undisclosed sum led by QED Investors with participation from Thrive Capital and others; the company offers cellphone insurance from other companies; previously raised $20M . link

The Internet Archive launches a tool to let Wikipedia editors add digital book scans to relevant citations; the process requires editors specify exact page numbers for the linking to work; to date, Wikipedia has 130k citations linking to 50k book scans . link

China-based ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is reportedly in partnership talks with Filipino counterpart UHop; full details unclear, but Didi is looking to launch operations in the Philippines under the UHop brand; Luis Singson, a Filipino politician and owner of UHop, says the focus is to break Grab’s monopoly; Grab has an estimated 90 percent of the local ride-hailing market . link

French energy company EDF acquires UK-based EV infrastructure firm Pivot Power; terms undisclosed; Pivot Power is developing battery charging tech that can be implemented at industrial sites . link

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the White House will soon make a determination on applications from US-based companies that want to trade with Huawei; Speaking with Bloomberg, Ross notes there have been 260 permission requests since the Commerce Department added Huawei to a restricted entities list . link

Indonesia-based fintech firm KoinWorks raises $1.4M Series B (second tranche) from Saison Capital; the round has now raised $13.6M; KoinWorks operates a peer-to-peer lending platform; has raised more than $42M to date . link

Apple commits $2.5B to help with the housing crisis in CA; includes $1B for an affordable housing fund and a $1B first-time homebuyer assistance fund; the company is also pledging $300M worth of Apple-owned land for affordable housing projects, and $50M to help vulnerable people . link

Santander acquires a ~50 percent stake in UK-based fintech firm Ebury for £350M (~$450M); Ebury offers cross-border payments services to SMEs; the company operates in 19 markets and processed $16.7B worth of transactions in 2018; the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020 . link

TikTok execs have declined a request to appear at a congressional hearing scheduled for Nov 5, according to a source for The Washington Post; Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO) has organized the hearing, which is set to discuss privacy and security concerns related to China .Update: Apple has also declined to appear at the congressional hearing; in a tweet, Hawley questioned whether TikTok and Apple have “something to hide”; it’s unclear if other companies are invited to the session . link

South Korea-based Kakao launches a 5G smartphone; Kakao, best known for its chat app, partnered with affiliate Stage Five and OEM Infomark to develop the device; known as the Stage 5G, the 6.5-inch device includes a Snapdragon 855 processor, triple rear cameras, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage; the smartphone comes pre-installed with Kakao’s suite of apps including Kakao Navi (maps) and Kakao Pay (digital wallet); costs $700, availability unclear . link

Controversial web forum 8chan relaunches as 8kun; 8chan was de-platformed in the wake of mass-shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, TX; 8chan and 8kun owner Jim Watkins says he has no plans to delete “constitutionally protected hate speech” . link

The US Committee on Foreign Investment has opened an investigation into China-based ByteDance’s ~$1B acquisition of lip-sync video app Musical.ly, according to Reuters sources; ByteDance bought Musical.ly in 2017 and subsequently rolled it into TikTok; several US lawmakers have raised concerns about China’s influence over TikTok . link

Taiwan-based social media company M17 acquires live-streaming app MeMe Live; terms undisclosed; MeMe Live, which is popular in Asia, lets users stream, chat, and make video calls; M17 says MeMe Live will continue to operate as a standalone brand . link

Samsung announces it is cutting ~300 jobs at an R&D facility in Austin, TX; the firm says it’s relocating part of its custom CPU development operations; the roles are scheduled to be axed at the end of this year; it’s unclear what the impact will be on Samsung’s custom CPU business, or where the jobs are moving to . link

Luo Yonghao, CEO and founder of China-based OEM Smartisan, is banned from taking flights, high-speed trains, and more in China because of the company's legal issues; Smartisan has reportedly not complied with recent court orders relating to contractual disputes; Chinese law allows individuals to be blocked from participating in certain social practices for a variety of reasons . link

The German government announces plans for 1M EV charging stations throughout the country by 2030; Chancellor Anglea Merkel says the auto industry will have to participate in the effort; Germany currently has 20k public charging stations . link

Facebook confirms it will not fact-check ads from UK politicians in the run-up to the country’s general election next month; the company says ads from political groups will still be subject to its fact-checking process; Facebook is facing broad criticism from around the world for allowing politicians to spread misinformation . link

SpaceX completes the 13th successful test of its Crew Dragon parachute system; the latest trial demonstrated the spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts, is capable of landing safely if only three of its four chutes deploy fully; SpaceX is working with NASA to prepare Crew Dragon for a human-crewed flight as soon as Q1 2020 . link

Russia implements a new law that may allow it to remove its networks from the rest of the internet; referred to as a “sovereign law,” the legislation is described as a measure to protect the country’s infrastructure in the event of a cyberattack; critics posit it's an attempt to block info that is critical of the Russian government . link

The download for 2019-11-03 →


St Louis-based PierianDx, which is developing a genomic sequencing SaaS, raises $27M Series B led by ATW Partners and SJW Ventures; aims to democratize sequencing and accelerate the creation of personalized treatment programs, specifically for cancer; raised $44M to date . link

NBCUniversal is considering making its Peacock streaming service free with an ad-free premium tier, according to CNBC sources; the company previously considered a free service for subscribers of cable and broadband services from parent Comcast; an ad-supported free service for non-customers would be the first offered by a major US media company . link

China-based ByteDance launches its first smartphone, the Jianguo Pro 3; the device bears the Smartisan brand, which ByteDance acquired this year; the lock screen provides direct access to ByteDance's TikTok competitor, Douyin; starts at ~$400 . link

Facebook, Cloudflare, and Mozilla announce TLS Delegated Credentials, a new specification intended to mitigate man-in-the-middle attacks against multi-server networks; the TLS extension will allow large site operators and CDNs to create temporary TLS certificates to prevent hackers from impersonating targets and intercepting traffic . link

Amazon turns Alexa recordings over to Police in FL after the department obtained a search warrant for a murder investigation; a Hallandale Beach woman died when a spear pierced her chest following an argument with her boyfriend; the defendant said the injury was accidental; no parties have commented on the content of the recordings . link

Google patches an Android vulnerability that allowed one-tap installation of apps sent via NFC beaming; the issue affected Android 8 and later, as that version updated the permissions for installing apps from unknown sources to a per-app setting; in previous versions the permission setting is global . link

China's tobacco regulator urges e-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and individual merchants to temporarily close shops selling e-cigarette products, citing the health of minors; Juul shut down its presence in China one week after launching there in September . link

An image from China's Weibo blog network reportedly shows Motorola's rumored RAZR with folding display in the wild; purported press images leaked on Friday; the company has a press event scheduled for Nov 13 . link

Product services company Jabil (design, manufacturing, etc) partners with the University of South Florida to establish the USF Jabil Innovation Institute, which will work with the university's colleges of business and engineering to help top students develop and execute ideas; Jabil donated $800k as a gift and $200k in research support . link

The Interior Department grounds its entire fleet of 800-plus drones because all were made in China or include Chinese parts, and therefore pose an espionage risk, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the department uses the UAVs for fighting forest fires, monitoring infrastructure, tracking endangered species, more . link

The Department of Defense's Innovation Board publishes draft guidelines for ethics regarding the development and deployment of AI; the guidelines call for the use of neutral data sources to reduce the chances of unintended biases, including those based on race and gender; they also reference automatic kill switches, human responsibility at every stage, more . link

London-based WeFarm, a marketplace and SMS-based Q&A network for independent farmers, raises $13M Series A led by True Ventures; claims 1.9M registered users; the marketplace, which connects farmers with local suppliers, saw $1M in sales in the first eight months of operation; raised ~$20M to date . link

Direct-to-consumer kitchenware company OurPlace raises $2.35M from FabFitFun and Dreamers VC; founded by Malala Fund Co-Founder Shiza Tehrani and her husband, Amir Tehrani; currently sources glassware from Thailand and cook/dinnerware from China; plans lines from emerging markets, including Oaxaca . link

Oculus Quest firmware includes an app package for what appears to be a digital assistant-related service; when launched, the Oculus Assistant Service requests audio permissions and displays the title Assistant Test Service . link

Google issues Chrome patch to address a zero-day vulnerability; Kaspersky had discovered active exploits in the wild; the audio memory corruption bug enabled attackers to install malware on target devices via malicious or infected websites, including a Korean-language news portal . link

Facebook will not fact-check ads by UK political parties or candidates, but will fact-check ads by other political groups; for example, pro-Brexit group Leave.EU; the same policy in the US has resulted in backlash from Congress, candidates, and Facebook employees; Twitter recently announced a pending ban on political advertising . link

Tabletop AR game company Tilt Five raises $1.76M via Kickstarter; 3.3k backers participated; the system supports solo and group play; a $300 kit provides glasses and a controller wand for one person, the games board, and multiple titles; an $880 kit supports three players; slated to ship in July . link

Airbnb prohibits party house rentals and unauthorized parties in rentals following a fatal shooting at a Halloween celebration in Orinda, CA; CEO Brian Chesky said the platform would take steps to address abusive conduct by hosts and guests, and establish a rapid response team to manually screen suspicious rentals; five people have died as a result of the Orinda shooting . link

Uber expands its Community Impact Initiative, through which it offers free rides via nonprofits, to 12 North American metro areas; previously limited to a pilot in Seattle and Portland; now works with 73 organizations across New York City, Chicago, DC, and other markets; serves those needing rides to shelters, cancer centers, more . link

Mastercard consolidates its startup programs as Accelerate, through which young fintech companies can issue cards, access Mastercard technology and security, more; Accelerate also includes Mastercard's six-month Start Path program, which provides startups with advising services and opportunities for fundraising . link

Protein design company Geltor is raising at least $50M, TechCrunch reports; the San Leandro startup recently signed a letter of intent with collagen protein supplier Gelita to commercialize its animal-free proteins for dietary supplements; sources say Geltor could raise $100M to scale manufacturing to fulfill a contract; raised $23M to date . link

Santa Monica-based BuildOPs, a SaaS platform for commercial real estate contractors, raises $5.8M seed led by Fika Ventures; supports scheduling, dispatching, inventory management, accounting, more . link

The download for 2019-11-02 →


Santa Cruz-based electric skateboard company Inboard Technology lays off all employees and hires liquidation firm; developed an electric scooter and pivoted from consumer sales following a large order from a European scooter-share operator; Founder Ryan Evans said investors pushed Inboard into liquidation despite the company meeting milestones for the order . link

Seattle-based Leafly, an information and reviews platform for marijuana products, raises $2.3M in convertible debt as part of a planned $25M round; Business Insider recently published a company memo announcing a hiring freeze and prohibition of non-essential business travel; founded in 2010; sold to PE firm Privateer Holdings in 2011 and spun back out this year . link

Field service management software company Workiz raises $5M Series A led by Magenta (GP Ran Levitzky joins board); also announced the launch of Workiz Voice, a new feature powered by Amazon's Alexa that upgrades the software with voice control; raised $7.3M to date . link

Foresite Labs, an incubator targeting startups with a data-centric approach to life sciences and health care, officially launches in San Francisco and Cambridge; co-founded by Foresite Capital MD Vik Bajaj and Foresite Capital CEO Jim Tananbaum . link

B8ta, a physical retailer that enables startups to make their products available for display and consumer testing, raises $50M Series C led by Evolution Ventures; currently operates 20 brick-and-mortar locations; also provides a retail software and analytics platform; raised $89M to date . link

German med-tech startup CUREosity raises $1.2M seed led by Rhein Invest; the startup developed a VR system for cognitive and motor rehabilitation; targets patients who have suffered brain injuries, stroke, etc, and aims to restore lost abilities . link

NY Supreme Court dismisses Uber's suit against New York City, which challenged a law limiting the number of operating licenses issued to ride-share drivers; the 12-month cap took effect in August of last year; in August 2019, New York Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to extend the cap by another year; Uber and Lyft have pending lawsuits against the city regarding drivers' ability to remain on the streets without fares . link

Cloud enterprise software company ServiceNow ($48B market cap) acquires cognitive search tech from Boston-based Attivio, which offers an AI-powered insights platform; terms undisclosed; ServiceNow will use the tech for conversational AI and search functions; Attivio previously raised $102M . link

Austin-based marketing platform LoudCrowd raises $515k pre-seed led by Active Capital; the SaaS enables brands to incentivize existing customers to create favorable and promotional content . link

The We Company files to trademark Play By We as the brand of a new esports business; the application indicates the company would conduct tournaments, exhibitions, more; a related job posting sought a manager to oversee architects and construction; The We Company has launched co-living, education, and fitness verticals . link

Shenzhen-based CassTime, which operates a marketplace for automotive parts and provides SaaS products for the auto industry, raises $80M Series C1 led by Sequoia Capital China; claims 1k-plus employees, with 200 in R&D . link

Team messaging startup Quill raises $12.5M Series A at a $62.5M valuation led by Index Ventures' Sarah Cannon, TechCrunch reports; the software aims to keep workers focused by minimizing distractions and emphasizing productive, threaded conversations; currently in beta; previously raised $2M seed led by Sam Altman . link

Seattle-based Modus, which develops software for automating various processes in real estate transactions, raises $12.5M Series A led by Felicis and NFX; handles much of the title and escrow phase; has facilitated sales representing $1B-plus; currently works with agents in WA; expects to increase headcount from 50 to 200 and to expand to the rest of the US next year . link

London-based Cervest, which develops an AI-powered platform for predicting the effects of climate change, raises $4.8M seed led by Future Positive Capital; the funding will fuel the launch of the real-time platform, which targets governments, businesses, and growers; aims to inform decisions regarding natural resources, food supply, etc; raised ~$5.8M to date . link

Google to acquire Fitbit ($1.8B market cap) for $2.1B; Google VP Sameer Samat said the companies would combine features of their respective smartwatch platforms and health apps; Google SVP Rick Osterloh indicated the deal would result in new Made by Google wearables; Google acquired undisclosed, in-development smartwatch tech from Fossil early this year; Fossil gained the IP through its 2015 Misfit acquisition .Facebook held talks to acquire Fitbit but sought to pay ~half of Google's price, according to sources for The Information . link

Google to acquire Fitbit ($1.8B market cap) for $2.1B; Google VP Sameer Samat said the companies would combine features of their respective smartwatch platforms and health apps; Google SVP Rick Osterloh indicated the deal would result in new Made by Google wearables; Google acquired undisclosed, in-development smartwatch tech from Fossil early this year; Fossil gained the IP through its 2015 Misfit acquisition .Facebook held talks to acquire Fitbit but sought to pay ~half of Google's price, according to sources for The Information . link