The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2019-09-03, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2019-09-03 →


Huawei has offered to make its software source code available to the Japanese government, according to local news outlet Kyodo; the move is described as an attempt to alleviate Japanese concerns over Huawei tech; it’s unclear whether Japanese authorities will take Huawei up on the offer . link

European esports firm ESL signs a strategic partnership with China-based streaming platform Huya; Huya will acquire $30M worth of shares in ESL’s majority owner MTG; together they will form a joint-venture, hosting esports events in China; the deal values ESL at $425M . link

Xiaomi announces a ~$1.5B share buyback scheme; the company says the move will demonstrate the firm's confidence in its own business; Xiaomi’s stock Rose as much as 6.8 percent following the news . link

Apple is set to add a sleep-tracking feature to Apple Watch, according to sources for 9to5Mac; it’s expected to track the quality of a user’s sleep while wearing their watch in bed; the feature will not require special hardware; expected to be announced at an event on Sept 10 . link

India-based hotel platform Oyo acquires Danish data science company Danamica; terms undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source puts the figure at $10M; Danamica offers dynamic pricing tools for rental property firms . link

YouTube changes its rules for community translations in an effort to prevent trolling and other such misinformation; channel owners will now have to manually approve text translations from the YouTube community . link

Samsung announces 6.7-inch Galaxy A90 5G, a 5G smartphone with three back cameras including a 48MP lens; also features a 32MP front camera and a Snapdragon 855 processor; launches in South Korea on Sept 4, with an international release set to follow (date unknown); price undisclosed . link

Samsung is developing a 6.7-inch smartphone that folds down to a smaller square form, according to Bloomberg sources; Samsung is working with US designer Thom Browne, and the device is described as being reminiscent of a flip-phone; it’s also expected to be thinner and more affordable than the company’s first foldable, the delayed Galaxy Fold . link

Huawei accuses the US of launching cyberattacks against its network; the company has issued a press release that also claims US authorities have instructed law enforcement to “threaten, menace, coerce, entice and incite” current and former employees in an effort to get them to turn against the firm; Huawei also denies claims it has stolen camera tech from Portuguese inventor Rui Oliveira . link

China has been using Twitter for misinformation campaigns for several years, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; the report indicates Chinese officials have spread coordinated disinformation to undermine political opponents; Twitter recently accused the Chinese government of using its platform to sow discord over Hong Kong protests . link

Android 10 is expected to launch for Pixel devices today, reports 9to5Google; the details come from support pages for Canadian carriers Rogers and Telus (Rogers later pulled the info); it’s unclear whether Sept 3 will be the launch date for Pixel smartphones in other countries . link

The central bank of the Netherlands will start regulating cryptocurrency exchanges from Jan 10 2020; De Nederlandsche Bank says firms that offer crypto exchange services and/or offer digital wallets will have to register if they want to operate in the country; the rule will apply to new and existing companies . link

Code in the iOS 13 developer beta indicates Apple may soon announce AR glasses, according to multiple reports; iOS 13 includes a hidden app for testing a head-mounted device; the code also references AR-enabled apps; Apple is rumored to be launching AR glasses in 2020 . link

Self-driving startup Pronto says it will deliver its first product this year despite co-founder Anthony Levandowski facing charges over alleged IP theft from Google/Waymo; Pronto exec Robbie Miller says the company is focused on meeting its deadlines for CoPilot, a Level 2 driver-assist system for commercial trucks; Pronto initially planned to launch CoPilot in early 2019 . link

European Central Bank board member Yves Mersch says the Libra digital currency could undermine the agency’s ability to set EU monetary policies; Mersch also warns national banks should be skeptical of promises made by the Libra Association and its members; Mersch notes Libra is founded by Facebook, the same company that’s faced questions from multiple governments over its handling of user data . link

Facebook is considering hiding Likes on posts; app researcher Jane Manchun Wong has uncovered code in Facebook’s Android app that shows the firm is looking at concealing Like counts from a follower’s friends; users will still be able to see the number of Likes on their posts; Facebook confirms it may test such a feature, but says it’s not rolled anything out yet . link

Huawei says it will launch its Mate 30 smartphone lineup on Sept 19; at least one device is expected to have an over-edge “waterfall” display and a quad-camera module on the rear; it’s unclear what OS will run on the device; follows confirmation from Google that the device is not authorized to carry its build of Android because of US trade restrictions . link

Greece-based online used car dealership Spotawheel raises €5M ($5.5M) led by Venture Friends with participation from Velocity Partners and others; the company provides a platform that lets users find vehicles from authorized dealers; Spotawheel also helps coordinate deliveries and test drives; has raised $7.7M to date . link

Apple launches a display replacement program for some defective Apple Watches; the company says aluminum Series 2 and Series 3 models can develop a small crack along the screen’s rounded edge; affected users can have their watches repaired free of charge . link

Critics of popular China-based deep-fake app Zao raise concerns over its user policy; the AI-powered app lets users superimpose their own image onto clips and photos of celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Marilyn Monroe; Zao’s terms of use say the resulting content can be used for marketing purposes and that users surrender all rights to their image; Zao says it will address concerns .Update: WeChat restricts Zao citing “security risks”; links to the app are blocked within WeChat, though users can still upload content; Zao has also removed language that claims ownership over users' content . link

The download for 2019-09-17 →


Data pertaining to 20M Ecuadorian residents leaks; includes names, addresses, national ID numbers, and more; covers data for 6.7M children; Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is among those affected as he’d previously sought asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London . link

NBCUniversal announces its upcoming streaming service will be called Peacock; the firm says the service will carry a library shows and movies from its back catalog; it has also announced several new shows including a reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” from “Mr Robot” creator Sam Esmail; set to launch April 2020, price unknown . link

Apple awards $250M to supplier Corning; terms undisclosed; Apple established a $1B fund for US-based manufacturers in 2017, later increasing it to $5B; the glass company has now received a total of $450M from the fund . link

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, a European Central Bank board member, says stablecoins will likely face close scrutiny; Villeroy also says firms that offer want to offer banking services will also have to get a banking license in each market they operate in; Facebook has said it will apply for a Swiss banking license . link

China-based driverless truck firm TuSimple raises $120M Series D (second tranche) led by Weibo owner Sina with participation from CDH Investments and others; the company is developing Level 4 self-driving tech; has raised ~$300M to date . link

Facebook exec David Marcus says the existence of the Libra cryptocurrency doesn’t give it inherent value; in a series of tweets Marcus claims Libra is intended to be a better payments system that is backed by sovereign currencies; he indicates Facebook believes in regulation of the Libra Association to ensure Libra follows a 1:1 currency ratio . link

Google plans to add its Stadia gaming service to Android TV, reports XDA Developers; full details unclear, but the report cites a slide shared at a trade event which lays out a product roadmap through 2021; also indicates Android TV will soon roll out a revamped Google Play store, device makers will be able to customize the Assistant wake word, and more . link

Facebook removes 600 fake accounts, pages, and groups with links to the Ukraine and Iraq; Facebook says Ukranian PR firm Pragmatico spent $1.6M on Facebook and Instagram ads, many of which directed users to websites posing as news outlets; activity linked to Iraq was used to spread info relating to political and social issues . link

Construction industry software firm Fieldwire raises $33.5M Series C led by Menlo Ventures with participation from Brick & Mortar Ventures, Hilti Group, and Formation 8; the company offers task management tools for construction crews; has raised $40.4M to date . link

Germany-based vacation rentals service Holidu raises €40M (~$44M) Series C led by Prime Ventures with participation from MairDuMont Ventures and others; the company offers a search platform that scours hundreds of websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com, cross-referencing prices and letting users book directly; has raised ~$50M to date . link

Nilay Patel reviews iPhone 11 for The Verge; cites great cameras and good night mode; also notes improved battery life, but says iOS 13 is buggy; Patel suggests iPhone 11 is best for most consumers and that users should only go for iPhone 11 Pro if they care about features such as a better display . link

Amazon has changed its algorithms to show products that generate more profit despite concerns from some staff, reports The Wall Street Journal; the company initially planned to directly highlight house-brand items and other more profitable goods, but Amazon’s lawyers pushed back because of antitrust concerns; the firm instead changed its ranking methods to select for factors that correlate with higher profits; Amazon says the report is wrong and denies it optimizes results for profits . link

Google plans to add its Stadia gaming service to Android TV, reports XDA Developers; full details unclear, but the report cites a slide shared at a trade event which lays out a product roadmap through 2021; also indicates Android TV will soon roll out a revamped Google Play store, device makers will be able to customize the Assistant wake word, and more . link

Google sends out media invites to a hardware event in New York City on Oct 15 where it’s expected to announce new Pixel devices; the company has already previewed its upcoming Pixel 4, confirming at least three sensors on the rear; it’s also rumored to be unveiling a Pixelbook 2 and new Home speakers . link

French pay-TV firm Canal+ says it will offer a Netflix bundle from Oct 15; users who pay €20 (~$22) per month can add a €15 (~$16.50) package that includes Netflix and additional movies; Canal+ notes the price will likely increase at a later date . link

Starting today, Uber drivers in New York City will be locked out of the service during quiet periods and in areas of low activity; the move brings Uber into line with local regulations aimed at improving congestion in an around Manhattan; Lyft has been doing the same since June, opting to show drivers areas of high demand in an effort to keep them on the service; Uber says there is no evidence such a move will help to improve traffic . link

Richard Stallman, a computer scientist and proponent of free software, steps down from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory following comments made about Jeffrey Epstein; Stallman has also departed his role as president of the Free Software Foundation; follows the publication of an email chain in which Stallman made reference to Epstein’s underage victims and definitions of rape . link

Apple launches Apple Arcade for iOS 13 and iPadOS beta users; offers access to multiple games including “Frogger in Toy Town,” and “LEGO Brawls”; users get their first month free, and the service costs $5 per month thereafter; Arcade rolls out fully on Sept 19 . link

The We Company (aka WeWork) is likely to delay its IPO until at least October, according to Bloomberg sources; follows pressure from majority investor SoftBank amid doubts over the firm’s valuation; the company has reportedly also limited CEO Adam Neumann’s control .Update 1: WeWork postpones its IPO, reports The Guardian; the company says it expects to list by the end of the year; the firm was reportedly set to launch its roadshow this week, with plans to go public next week; reports indicate WeWork was looking at a market valuation as low as $10B, far below the $47B it reached in private financing .Update 2: WeWork had concerns not enough investors would participate in its IPO, according to Reuters sources; SoftBank had considered supporting the listing by acquiring $750M to $1B worth of shares, but WeWork was worried it would still fall short of a $3B target which it needs to unlock a $6B credit line . link

Qualcomm ($95B market cap) acquires TDK's interest in RF360 Holdings for $3.1B; the deal will enable Qualcomm to consolidate mobile data components and move all development in-house; the deal includes RF360 engineers and IP . link

Amazon altered its search algorithm to increase the ranking of products most profitable to the company, according to people who worked on the project speaking with The Wall Street Journal; the company reportedly used product metrics other than profitability in the algorithm to avoid antitrust scrutiny, but the effect remains the same; Amazon denies the report . link

Santa Monica-based March Capital Partners files to raise $410M for Fund III; the firm's last fund closed at $300M in January; primarily targets Series A to C investments in enterprise software, cloud infrastructure, and consumer products; portfolio includes Branch and Earnin; exits include CrowdStrike and VeloCloud . link

Unprotected Elasticsearch database exposes personal information for most of the population of Ecuador; features data from government and private sources, including names, family tree information, financial records, vehicle registration information, more; the exposure is the latest in a string of leaks attributed to misconfigured Elasticsearch databases . link

The Wi-Fi Alliance launches its Wi-Fi 6 certification program; manufactures can apply and, once approved, advertise products supporting the new standard; Wi-Fi 6 is designed to improve performance for crowded home networks and increases the theoretical maximum speed from 3.5 Gbps to 9.6 Gbps . link

Dublin-based exam preparation tolls startup Studytracks raises ~$1.1M seed led by OneRagtime and Leansquare; the company produces music with lyrics covering curricula for ~45 subjects, promising improved retention and recollection; has published ~1.5k songs to date; claims 100 client schools representing ~400k downloads . link

Startups to represent 15 percent of global payments revenue by 2025, Accenture reports; the category includes overseas wire transfers, credit card transactions, etc; currently a $1.5T business, Accenture expects it to reach $2T in 2025, and that startups will represent $280B of that revenue . link

Amenitiz, which provides tools enabling hospitality providers to manage digital identities and services, raises ~$680k seed led by Otium Capital; the Barcelona-based startup offers a website builder, SEO optimization tools, a booking engine, more; serves hotels and rental owners . link

Germany-based Game Seer Venture Partners, which focuses exclusively on video games, raises ~$11M; the fund targets PC and console titles and began deploying funds in July; the firm is co-funding party RPG link

German malware detection and analysis platform VMRay raises $10M Series B led by Digital+ Partners; serves enterprise and government clients, providing real-time identification of new and evasive malware; opened an office in Boston last year and plans to use the funding to expand its US team; raised ~$13M to date . link

Beekeeper, a communications platform for non-desk workers, raises ~$45M Series B led by Thayer Ventures and Swisscanto Invest; primarily targets companies at which at least 50 percent of the workforce is disconnected from traditional business communications tools; clients include Heathrow Airport and Hyatt Hotels . link

Atlanta-based financial literacy company Greenlight raises $54M Series B led by Drive Capital; provides a pre-loaded debit card for kids aged 13-plus; cardholders and guardians manage accounts via mobile app; kids can monitor spending habits, request more funds, etc; guardians can set category-based spending limits, more; raised $82M to date . link

Content monetization company Coil partners with Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons to launch the $100M Grant for the Web; the five-year program targets the development of alternative and open online business models that will honor privacy, eschew targeted ads, and offer opportunities to marginalized and disadvantaged groups . link

Open-source license management platform FOSSA raises $8.5M Series A led by Bain Capital Ventures; launched in 2017 as a tool for developers, tracking open-source tech within applications; now serves enterprises, ensuring license compliance; raised ~$11M to date . link

Password manager LastPass issues fix for bug that could have enabled malicious sites to steal user credentials for other sites; a Google Project Zero researcher discovered the vulnerability and notified LastPass; there is no evidence the bug was exploited in the wild, but LastPass urges users to ensure their software is up to date . link

Tel Aviv-based Trigo, which develops cashier-free shopping tech, raises $22M led by Red Dot Capital; currently serves stores up to 5k square feet; the funding will enable expansion to larger locations; Israeli grocery chain Shufersal plans to deploy Trigo's tech in 280 stores over five years; Trigo also plans to expand partnerships in the US and Europe; raised $29M to date . link

Construction field management software company Fieldwire raises $33.5M Series C led by Menlo Ventures; cross-platform solution offers issue tracking, task management, scheduling, reporting, instant messaging, more; claims 500k projects globally; raised ~$41M to date . link

The download for 2019-09-16 →


China-based smartphone firm Vivo announces Nex 3 5G featuring an over-edge display and 64MP rear camera; has a 6.9-inch OLED display (dubbed Waterfall FullView) and virtual side buttons with haptic feedback; powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 Plus processor; available in 4G and 5G variants; price, release date, and markets undisclosed . link

Digital remittance services are expected to generate as much as $280B in revenue by 2025, according to a report from Accenture; the global payments market overall will be worth $2T by then, up from $1.5T this year . link

The Wi-Fi Alliance announces Wi-Fi 6 certification program; the new standard promises improved speeds and better coverage on crowded networks; some Wi-Fi 6 products are already on the market; Apple's new iPhones are among upcoming Wi-Fi 6 certified devices . link

NY Gov Andrew Cuomo announces executive action to ban the sale of e-cigarette flavors; Cuomo says vape firms and stores are “intentionally and recklessly” attempting to attract younger users; Cuomo has also announced plans for undercover investigations to find retailers serving underage customers, and says he plans to tackle deceptive marketing that targets children . link

New York City-based online pharmacy firm Capsule raises $200M Series C led by TCV with participation from Thrive Capital and others; the company offers prescription medicine deliveries; has raised $270M to date . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro pre-orders are stronger than Apple expected; Kuo notes shipping times for midnight green iPhone 11 Pro, green iPhone 11, and purple iPhone 11 are at least two weeks or longer; Kuo says glass for the midnight green models is facing production problems, which is likely contributing to the delay; Apple opened pre-orders on Sept 13, with devices set to ship from Sept 20 . link

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta signs partnerships with Tokopedia, Go-Jek, Grab, and others as part of a smart city initiative; Tokopedia will train local SMEs to better compete in the digital economy, while Go-Jek and Grab are working with the city’s government on mobility improvements; Jakarta is also partnering with AI firm Nodeflux to implement a scheme to read drivers’ license plates and identify those who owe taxes . link

New York City-based foodtech firm Crisp emerges from stealth, raises $14.2M led by FirstMark Capital; the company offers analytics tools to food manufacturers, promising to help them predict how much to produce . link

Germany-based lighting firm Osram advises its shareholders to accept a €4.3B (~$4.8B) takeover bid from Austrian sensor company AMS; some on Osram’s advisory board had reservations as AMS’ is taking on debt to finance the deal; follows a bidding war with Bain Capital and partner Carlyle Group . link

Several execs from Israel-based hacking tool firm Ability have been arrested, according to local media; Israeli police also raided the offices of its subsidiaries Ability Computer & Software and Ability Security Systems; Israel's Ministry of Defense's Security Export Division previously blocked Ability from selling its mobile interception tools to overseas firms, but reports suggest it has continued to do so . link

Researchers raise questions about the autonomy of China-based social video platform TikTok; comes as posts supportive of Hong Kong protests spread on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but not on TikTok; Yaqiu Wang of Human Rights Watch says the Chinese government forces such platforms to share state-approved content, while tamping down on dissenting opinions . link

Evan Blass shares purported images of Huawei’s upcoming Mate 30 lineup; top-of-the-line Mate 30 Pro has an over-edge display and four rear image sensors; Mate 30 seemingly has a smaller front display; Mate 30 Lite is supposedly based on Huawei’s previously announced Nova 5i Pro; Huawei is expected to announce the devices on Sept 19 .Purported Mate 30 Pro: link

Google acknowledges Huawei approached it about working on a smart speaker but says it chose not to form a partnership, reports The Information; Google says any suggestion of an ongoing collaboration is incorrect; the details are included in a letter to Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR); follows reports Google and Huawei were developing a Google Assistant-powered device until the Commerce Department introduced a US trade ban . link

Lenovo-owned Motorola partners with Flipkart to launch a line of Android TV-powered TVs in India; the lineup includes a 32-inch HD TV (~$200) and a 65-inch 4K set (~$900); the devices are also manufactured locally; it’s unknown if or when Motorola will launch smart TVs in other markets . link

SoftBank is set to double its stake in Brazilian fintech firm Banco Inter to ~16 percent, according to a source for Deal Street Asia; full details unclear, but SoftBank initially acquired 8.1 percent of the company in July for R$ 760M (~$185M); Banco Inter operates a challenger bank offering online consumer and business financial services; the company’s share price has increased more than 500 percent since it went public in April 2018 . link

Stanford University discloses a $50k gift from Jeffrey Epstein in 2004, four years before he pled guilty to sex crimes involving minors; Stanford says the university’s physics department received the donation and that it is not aware of any other gifts; follows reports MIT’s Media Lab received contributions from and directed by Epstein after he was convicted . link

Barcelona-based fintech firm Mitto raises €2M (~$2.2M) seed from InnoCells, Athos Capital, and others; the startup offers a prepaid debit card aimed at teenagers; lets parents add money to their card, monitor spending, and more; Mitto plans to expand into Europe and Latin America . link

Google is set to launch its job search app Kormo in India, reports the Economic Times; the Android app lets users search and apply for roles based on location and interest; first launched in Bangladesh last year, it has since rolled out to Indonesia . link

The EU will pursue a so-called “web tax” with or without international consensus, says the bloc’s Commissioner-designate for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni; speaking with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Gentiloni says the EU is aiming to sign an accord on global taxes for large tech firms by 2020; he notes if unsuccessful, he will push for an EU mandated solution; follows calls from multiple governments to close tax loopholes . link

Representatives from the Libra Foundation will meet with 26 central banks in Basel, Switzerland today, reports the Financial Times; the meeting will be chaired by Benoît Coeuré of the European Central Bank, and is expected to include officials from the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and more; follows concerns from multiple governments about the potential impact of Libra on national currencies . link

The download for 2019-09-15 →


Smart city tech company CIMCON raises $33M Series C led by Digital Alpha; the brand is an acronym for link

SC Johnson acquires Chicago-based men's skincare and hygiene company Oars + Alps, Chicago Inno reports; sources indicated a price of ~$20M; produces deodorant, moisturizer, and other products with natural, non-toxic ingredients; previously raised $1.3M . link

WI-based bicycle company Trek unveils the Allant+ line of electric city bikes; includes 10 models priced from $3.6k to $6k; each feature two pedal-assisted Bosch motors; top speeds range from 20 mph to 28 mph; the top-of-the-line model comes with a 625Wh battery, and accepts an optional additional battery on the down tube . link

LinkedIn Founder and VC Reid Hoffman publicly apologizes for participating in MIT fundraising in which Jeffrey Epstein was involved; Hoffman said former MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito (who resigned over the controversy) told him MIT had vetted and cleared Epstein; Hoffman invited Epstein to a dinner in 2015, but said he did so at Ito's behest . link

Motorola Solutions announces the opening of an innovation center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Research Park; it is Motorola's first such college campus center; will work with undergrad and graduate students to develop products, applications, and services; the center will work with interns and offer some full-time employment . link

iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are capable of charging other Apple devices wirelessly but the feature is disabled in iOS, according to leaker Sonny Dickson; prior to Apple's unveiling of the products, rumors indicated the new iPhones would charge AirPods and Watch; Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo both reported that Apple cancelled the feature . link

The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute launches Amii Innovates, a program that aims to work with local businesses to improve AI adoption; the program has announced its first cohort of companies, selected based on their potential to commercialize machine intelligence integrations; the program helps with road mapping and validation, and provides mentorship and advisory assistance . link

Apple to reopen multiple stores (some at new locations) on Sept 20, the day of the iPhone 11 launch; in addition to opening its redesigned flagship store on 5th Ave in New York, the company will reopen an expanded location in Bridgewater, NJ; Apple has moved its Mall of America store to a larger space; the shop in Houston, TX's Highland Village features an upgraded design . link

3D-printed rocket company Relativity Space enters agreement with satellite transportation company Momentus; Relativity will launch Momentus satellite payloads, and Momentus will then transfer those units into orbit; Relativity previously signed a commercial agreement with satellite operator Telesat . link

Boulder-based PopSocket, maker of the popular mobile phone grip device of the same name, expands into beverage grips; the retractable devices function the same as the phone models and start at $15; PopSocket, which also offers mobile device car mounts and other accessories, saw $90M in profit last year . link

AdaptiveMobile Security researchers reveal Simjacker technique, used in the wild to track phone owners for at least two years; the attack involves sending an SMS containing SIM toolkit instructions to a target device; the target's S@T Browser, which exists on the SIM card, gathers location and other data and sends it via SMS to the attackers, without alerting the user . link

Tech startup spending accounted for 10 percent of large tech firms' revenue last year and ~0.4 percent of global economic activity, according to research by hedge fund Bridgewater; tech startups spent $44B last year on advertising and cloud computing services from Facebook, Amazon, and Google alone . link

YouTube announces it will no longer calculate paid views or ad-originated views when calculating placements on YouTube Music Charts; chart ranks are now based on organic views only; previously, pre-roll music video ads counted toward chart rankings if consumers watched for a certain amount of time or interacted with an ad . link

Uber-owned bike- and scooter-share business JUMP announces it will stop operations in most of San Diego on Sept 19 (will continue to serve two naval bases); JUMP expressed agreement with local officials who say the city needs new regulations to deal with scooter- and bike-share companies . link

Copenhagen-based game studio BetaDwarf raises $6.6M led by Makers Fund; known for titles link

Sweden's Norrsken Foundation, which operates a co-working space for entrepreneurs, a seed fund, and more, raises $34M from Norrsken Founder Niklas Adalberth, who also founded fintech company Klarna; Norrsken targets high-risk, high-impact investments . link

House of Representatives panel demands internal emails from executives at Apple, Google, and other companies as part of an antitrust probe; the panel specifically seeks communications from the past ten years regarding acquisitions; the companies have until Oct 14 to respond . link

This Week in Startups episode 975: Jason speaks with Kristen Dumont, CEO of mobile gaming company Machine Zone; the conversation covers iterating to the best business model, scaling a unicorn to reach a global market, attracting celebrity talent, more . link

Disney CEO Bob Iger resigned from Apple's board on Sept 10, the same day Apple announced it would launch the $5-per-month video streaming service Apple TV+ on Nov 1; Disney previously announced it would launch $7-per-month video streaming service Disney+ on Nov 12 . link

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) files to double damages in its suit against connected exercise equipment company Peloton; the NPA alleges Peloton used ~1k unlicensed songs in its workout videos; Peloton removed some songs after learning of the suit; the NMPA now seeks $300M in damages, up from the original $150M . link

Spotify acquires Brooklyn-based SoundBetter, a marketplace for music production services and track licensing; terms undisclosed; Spotify will integrate SoundBetter features into its Spotify for Artists product; SoundBetter claims 180k registered users and pays out an average of $1M per month to artists . link

Logistics and supply chain management startup CMDTY raises $10M from Venrock and Rucker Park; founded by AppNexus Founder Brian O'Kelley (who sold that company to AT&T for ~$1.6B) and former Goldman Sachs VP of Operations Andrea Aranguren; O'Kelley likened CMDTY's software to an ad server for commodity trading companies . link

The download for 2019-09-14 →


Patreon sells social shopping business Kit, which features influencer-curated product collections, to Geniuslink, a localized affiliate linking service; terms undisclosed; Patreon acquired Kit in June of last year; Geniuslink said it planned new monetization tools for Kit influencers . link

MoviePass, which offers a subscription service for theater films, to shut down on Sept 14; parent Helios and Matheson Analytics has established a strategic review committee to explore the sale of some or all MoviePass assets; the company saw its subscriber base fall from 3M to 225k (as of April) . link

Arlington-based cybersecurity company Shift5, which develops hardware and machine learning-powered software for protecting weapons systems, commercial transportation, and more, raises $2.5M seed led by Squadra Ventures . link

Data management platform Trifacta raises $100M Series E from Energy Impact Partners, Greylock, Accel, others; the company's Wrangler workbench uses machine learning to identify (and optionally execute automatically) optimal changes for data preparation; raised $224M to date . link

House Judiciary Committee requests information from Apple as part of an antitrust probe; the committee is focused on the App Store, and seeks information regarding Apple's decision to remove parental control apps, how the App Store's search algorithm ranks results, policies regarding external payments, more . link

Stockholm-based electric motorcycle company Cake raises ~$14M led by Creandum; develops lightweight off-road bikes; the company plans to launch the commuter-focused Ösa model this fall . link

This Week in Startups episode 974: The Next Unicorns: Jason speaks with Grove Collaborative Co-Founder and CEO Stuart Landesberg about growing his household goods subscription service to $100M revenue as a B Corp, bringing natural products to underserved markets, more (the second in a 10-part mini-series) . link

Square is testing a free stock trades feature within its Cash App, according to a company video seen by Bloomberg; a source indicated employees began testing the service in recent weeks; Cash App previously launched Bitcoin trading . link

Boston-based biotech accelerator Petri launches 12-month program to help founders commercialize scientific research; in addition to funding, the accelerator will provide access to successful founders and scientists from Ginkgo Bioworks, PathAI, Asimov, others . link

Microsoft patent details liquid-filled hinge tech for devices with folding displays; the filing is attributed to Microsoft technology licensing, which indicates the company might plan on licensing the hinge design to other manufacturers . link

Los Angeles-based enterprise AR headset company DAQRI is preparing to shut down, according to TechCrunch sources; the company reportedly has closed its headquarters, laid off much of its staff, and begun selling assets; TechCrunch obtained a company email to customers indicating DAQRI would shut down its cloud platform by the end of the month . link

Cloudflare pops 20 percent in NYSE debut; the company priced shares at $15 on Thursday after increasing its range from $10-$12 per share to $12-$14; trading opened at $18; the company reported $129.2M in revenue for the first half of 2019, with $36.8M in net losses; raised $525M with the listing .Update: Cloudflare closes first day of trading at $18 per share . link

Montréal-based Element AI raises $151M Series B from Gouvernement du Québec, Data Collective, others; provides tools that enable enterprises to integrate AI without the need for hiring AI experts; for example, a natural language search tool for employees; raised $257M to date . link

Discord to discontinue the subscription games service included in its premium Nitro plan; the company will continue to offer Nitro, which adds additional Discord features for advanced users; the Nitro Games library will be available until Oct 15 . link

The download for 2019-09-13 →


British police have arrested nine environmental activists that allegedly planned to fly drones over London’s Heathrow Airport; the individuals are said to be part of Heathrow Pause, a protest group trying to stop the creation of a new runway; Heathrow Pause claims to have ~200 people willing to fly UAVs within restricted air space . link

The CA State Assembly votes to block police from using body-mounted cameras that feature facial recognition tech; the bill now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom (D); if signed into law, it will ban the tech for three years starting Jan 1 2020 . link

A former Kickstarter employee says he believes he was fired for participating in union organizing efforts; Taylor Moore claims another member of the union committee has also been dismissed and says he’s concerned others are being targeted; Kickstarter denies the allegations and says both employees were let go over performance issues; The Verge note some workers are planning a protest over the firings . link

Apple’s market cap once again passes $1T; the company’s stock has risen 17 percent since early August; comes as pre-orders open for Apple’s new iPhone lineup; Apple became the first company to reach a $1T valuation last year . link

Microsoft shares more details about its Oct 2 event in New York City; press invites indicate the company will discuss devices and experiences; ZDNet suggests Microsoft will announce Surface products and associated services; CEO Satya Nadella is rumored to appear, though he wasn’t at last year’s Surface event . link

Goldman Sachs hires Marco Argenti as co-CIO; Argenti previously served as a VP at AWS; he succeeds Elisha Wiesel, who stepped down recently; comes as Goldman Sachs also names Atte Lahtiranta as CTO; Lahtiranta joins from Verizon Media Group, where he was also CTO . link

The board of The We Company (aka WeWork) is considering reducing CEO Adam Neumann’s voting power, reports the Financial Times; Neumann’s wife Rebekah may also be stripped of her right to name a successor should he die; follows a Bloomberg report that the company may make governance changes amid concerns over its upcoming IPO . link

Singapore-based Vertex Growth Fund (part of Temasek) closes its third fund at $290M, bypassing its initial goal of $250M; targets startups that have received previous support from other Vertex Venture funds; investments include cybersecurity firm PerimeterX and fintech company Instarem . link

US officials have raised security concerns about Huawei with allies in the Gulf; Robert Strayer of the US State Department says representatives have shared a message relating to 5G infrastructure and associated risks when using Huawei tech; the US claims Huawei’s systems could provide a backdoor for state-sponsored spying, though it’s yet to provide evidence; officials in Bahrain have previously said it has no concerns about Huawei . link

Mozilla introduces Firefox Premium Support, its first paid product; the $10 per month service is aimed at enterprise customers and promises private bug submissions, fixes for critical flaws, and more; Mozilla has plans for more premium services including a desktop VPN; the company’s income has historically mostly come from a revenue-sharing partnership with Google . link

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says the EU should introduce new rules to govern cryptocurrencies; speaking at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Finland, Le Maire says the member countries should work together to establish a common framework; follows his criticism of Libra, which he says may still need some form of authorization before it can launch in Europe . link

Canada-based blockchain firm Dapper Labs raises $11.2M from Warner Music Group (WMG), Andreessen Horowitz, and others; as part of the deal, Dapper is working with WMG to develop a new blockchain known as Flow which promises to handle more transactions than ethereum; Dapper is known for its digital collectibles product CryptoKitties; has raised $26M to date . link

AT&T-owned WarnerMedia signs a five-year content deal with JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot; sources for the Hollywood Reporter say the partnership is worth $250M, though previous reports put it at $500M; Bad Robot will exclusively develop TV and film projects for WarnerMedia through 2024 . link

Google Photos launches Memories, a Stories-like feature that resurfaces images and videos on their anniversary; the content is presented at the top of a user’s photo gallery, allowing for quick access; photos and videos are algorithmically selected; rolling out now . link

Facebook has pulled a fact-check on a video that made certain claims about abortion following pressure from Republican lawmakers, reports BuzzFeed News; an independent fact-checking organization marked a video by anti-abortion group Live Action as containing inaccurate info; Live Action was notified its video was marked as false, but founder Lila Rose says doctors who fact-checked it had a bias; several lawmakers including Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) subsequently wrote to Facebook, alleging censorship . link

Google announces changes to its Search algorithm to better surface original news reporting; the company says such articles may also stay at the top of Search rankings for longer, even as more reporting appears around the subject; Google notes it has more than 10k raters around the world, which it says help to validate its algorithms . link

India-based digital bookkeeping firm OKCredit raises $67M Series B led by Lightspeed and Tiger Global; the company offers a mobile app that lets merchants keep track of daily transactions; has raised $83M to date . link

Chicago-based Valqari demonstrates its smart receptacle for drone deliveries; the company is developing a curbside solution for houses and a window installation for apartments; the box automatically opens when a drone lands on top; a motorized shelf inside lowers packages into a stack; plans compatibility with all drone delivery providers . link

Tel Aviv-based home urinalysis company Healthy.io raises $60M Series C led by Corner Ventures; provides dipsticks and a color chart; users photograph samples next to the chart using a mobile app, then upload; Healthy.io analyzes results in the cloud; the company screens for pregnancy complications, illness, infections, more; raised $90M to date . link

Consorto, a B2B marketplace for commercial real estate, raises ~$550k seed from Startup Wise Guys and others; uses AI to match buyers and sellers; also automates deal flow; listings are free; there is a fee at close; serves European markets . link

Incredible Health, a recruitment platform for medical professionals, raises $15M Series A led by A16Z; algorithmically matches nurses with permanent hospital positions; plans to build out a digital community for health care workers; raised $17M to date . link

Simbe Robotics, which produces autonomous retail inventory bots, raises $26M Series A led by Venrock; in addition, SoftBank Robotics America has agreed to help Simbe scale its Tally store robot to 1k more units over the next two years; Tally browses store isles to identify items low on stock, recognize pricing errors, etc; provides real-time analytics . link

French company Akeneo, which provides tools for product information management, raises ~$45M Series C led by Summit Partners; SaaS enables brands to manage content and assets across multiple sales channels; claims 60k live implementations; employs 180 across six countries . link

Applied Intuition, which provides a platform for developing, testing, and deploying autonomous vehicles, raises $40M Series B led by General Catalyst; provides an on-premise and cloud-based platform for running simulations, analyzing data, and sharing results; raised ~$52M to date . link

Panoramic, which provides cloud-based tools for marketing professionals, emerges with $35M from TPG Growth’s Affinity Group and others; enables users to build customized dashboards for data analysis, insights, benchmarking, more; in addition to goal tracking, Panoramic can recommend goals . link

Shape Security, which protects against automated cyberattacks on web and mobile apps, raises $51M Series F at a $1B valuation led by C5 Capital, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Norwest, others; uses AI, machine learning, and historical data to detect inauthentic behavior; raised ~$180M to date . link

Fair, which offers monthly subscription vehicle leases, to acquire competitor Canvas from Ford ($37B market cap); terms undisclosed; Fair's plans include a vehicle, maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance; claims 45k-plus users across 30 US markets; Fair has raised $1.6B to date . link

Autonomous driving tech company Voyage raises $31M Series B led by Franklin Templeton, with participation from Khosla, Jaguar Land-Rover, and Chevron; the company focuses on lower speed driving, and has served retirement communities; deploys modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, as does Waymo; the Udacity spinout has raised $52M to date . link

Amazon announces a Sept 25 hardware event in Seattle; this is the company's third such September event; last year's revealed Fire TV Recast, Amazon Echo Sub, and other first-party hardware; also included new software features, such as Skype calling via Echo Show . link

Nashville-based SmileDirectClub, which offers an at-home teeth straightening service, debuts on the Nasdaq under symbol link

Sidewalk Labs spins out Replica as a new Alphabet company; originally known as the Model Lab, Replica uses modeling to help public agencies better understand the movement of people and goods within urban environments; the company is headquartered in Kansas City and has an engineering office in San Francisco; raised an undisclosed Series A from Innovation Endeavors, Firebrand Ventures, and Rise of the Rest Seed Fund . link

Google to pay ~$1B to settle a fiscal fraud investigation in France; the probe sought to determine if Google avoided French taxes by not disclosing some activities in the country; the company will pay a ~$550M fine and ~$510M in back taxes . link

Amazon launches Alexa Answers, a crowdsourced Q&A platform for Alexa devices; the company has gathered hundreds of thousands of user answers since launching a private beta last year; the knowledge base will continue to grow as users contribute; when Alexa answers a question with a user-supplied answer, it notes “according to an Amazon customer” . link

The FBI is investigating Mithril Capital for potential financial misconduct, Recode reports; Mithril confirmed its lawyers have been in touch with authorities, but said the government had made no accusations; a spokesperson said the probe was in response to allegations by a former employee; Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan co-founded Mithril in 2012 . link

The download for 2019-09-12 →


French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says the Libra cryptocurrency must not be allowed to operate in the EU under current conditions; Le Maire cites risks to sovereignty, financial dangers, and more as reasons to be concerned about the Facebook-incubated currency . link

Israel-based analytics firm Explorium raises $19M seed and Series A from Emerge, Zeev Ventures, and others; the company offers an AI-powered data science platform aimed at enterprise customers . link

Singapore-based fintech startup Arival raises $2.3M pre-Series A equity crowdfunding via Seedinvest and Crowdcube; the startup reportedly set out to raise ~$865k; Arival is developing a challenger bank product; the firm currently works with third-parties to offer corporate expense cards, remittances, and more; has raised $3.3M to date . link

Toyota is testing a solar-powered Prius; the vehicle has thin solar panels attached to the hood, roof, rear window, and spoiler; research suggests the set-up can generate enough energy for 35 miles driving, which is more than the average 29.2 miles a US driver typically covers in a day; the study shows cloudy or extremely hot days reduce the system’s power-gathering capabilities; unknown if or when the tech will come to market . link

Waymo CEO John Krafcik says the company has plans to apply its driverless tech to the trucking industry; Krafcik made the comments during a speech at a motor show in Frankfurt, Germany, where he said Waymo could help make trucks safer; he also discussed Waymo’s testing of autonomous Class 8 trucks in the US, noting the firm is “working closely” with shippers and truck-makers . link

HTC announces its Vive Cosmos VR headset will launch Oct 3 for $700; first unveiled at CES 2019, the PC-connected device doesn’t rely on external sensors and makes use of fully tracked motion controllers; also features a modular faceplate that will allow for customization . link

Zyl, a France-based image rediscovery app, raises €1M ($1.1M) led by OneRagtime; the app scans a user's camera roll and resurfaces images that may be of interest to the user; has raised $1.2M to date . link

The Streamable rounds up Apple TV+ pricing for multiple markets; the service will cost CAD$6 ($4.50) per month in Canada, £5 ($6.15) in the UK, €5 ($5.50) across the EU, and ₹99 ($1.40) in India; Apple TV+ is set to launch more than 100 countries from Nov 1 (exact rollout unclear) . link

Jennifer Skyler, chief communications officer at The We Company (aka WeWork), is set to leave the firm for American Express this fall, reports TechCrunch; Skyler joined WeWork in 2015 as its global head of public affairs; she was promoted to her current role last year . link

Several Wall Street analysts do not expect Apple’s upcoming video streaming service to have a long term impact on Netflix’s user numbers; Apple will offer a year of free Apple TV+ to those purchasing a new device such as a MacBook or iPhone, after which it will cost $5 per month; Credit Suisse cites Netflix’s longer history in the market and breadth of content as key factors; Synovus Trust Company suggests Apple is primarily focused on selling subscriptions to other providers such as HBO and Showtime . link

Uber says drivers would remain contractors under a new CA labor bill (known as AB5) because their services are not core to its business; Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West says AB5, if passed fully, would not automatically reclassify drivers as employees; West also says the bill does not include provisions for driver benefits .Update: an unnamed former Uber exec says the company’s costs could increase by as much as 20 percent if AB5 becomes law; speaking with The Information the individual notes ride-hailing companies could use the law to their advantage, such as stopping drivers from working for other companies; drivers could also be forced to take any customer they’re matched with . link

Chinese social video app Kuaishou is raising more than $1B on a $25B valuation ahead of an IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; most of the investment is expected to come from existing backer Tencent; Kuaishou plans to go public in 2020 . link

Disney rolls out a free open pilot of its upcoming streaming service in the Netherlands; users can access Disney+ for free through November 12 when it launches in numerous markets; the available catalog includes the complete “Star Wars” franchise and numerous Marvel films including “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther”; the pilot service offers seven viewer profiles, and includes support for AirPlay and Chromecast . link

Yahoo Japan acquires a 50.1 percent stake in Japan-based online fashion retailer Zozotown for $3.7B; founder and CEO Yusaku Maezawa has stepped down; Maezawa, who owns 30 percent of the business, will continue to appear at company events; Maezawa previously made news as the first announced passenger for a journey around the Moon in SpaceX’s BFR rocket . link

Oracle announces co-CEO Mark Hurd is taking a leave of absence due to health reasons; the company has not disclosed how long he will be away; Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison and co-CEO Safra Catz will take over Hurd’s duties in his absence; in light of the news, the firm announced its FQ1 earnings a day early; Oracle shares fell after the announcements . link

Uber says drivers would remain contractors under a new CA labor bill (known as AB5) because their services are not core to its business; Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West says AB5, if passed fully, would not automatically reclassify drivers as employees; West also says the bill does not include provisions for driver benefits .Update: an unnamed former Uber exec says the company’s costs could increase by as much as 20 percent if AB5 becomes law; speaking with The Information the individual notes ride-hailing companies could use the law to their advantage, such as stopping drivers from working for other companies; drivers could also be forced to take any customer they’re matched with . link

France-based product information management firm Akeneo raises $45M Series C led by Summit Partners with participation from Alven and others; the company provides tools for maintaining inventory data; has raised $60M to date . link

Cloudflare increases its IPO price range to $12 to $14 per share after setting an initial range of $10 to $12 per share; the new range values the company between $3.5B and $4.18B (with underwriter-reserved shares included for the maximum); private investors last valued the company at $3.25B for a Series E in March .Update: Cloudflare reveals in regulatory filings it might have violated economic and trade sanctions regulations; the company determined blacklisted individuals and groups, or those supporting them, used Cloudflare products; includes those identified as terrorists and drug traffickers, as well as sanctioned governments . link

Germany-based TeamViewer, a cloud solution for remote collaboration and computer support, targets a $2.54B raise with its Sept 25 debut on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange; parent Permira set a range of €23.50 to €27.50 per share ($25.87 to $30.28); the listing will be Germany's largest tech IPO in almost 20 years . link

Palmer Luckey's Anduril Industries is raising a round at a $1B-plus valuation from Andreessen Horowitz and others, according to CNBC sources; the company develops AI-powered solutions for fighting wildfires, protecting soldiers, search and rescue missions, more; the company has deployed border protection systems in CA and TX . link

Santa Barbara-based cannabis producer Canndescent raises $27.5M Series C led by Green Acre Capital; the company grows marijuana in Canada, NV, and MA; plans further expansion into vape products and edibles; raised $57M to date . link

Brooklyn-based smart shopping cart company Caper (YC W16) raises $10M Series A led by Lux Capital; produces carts with integrated sensors and AI to enable cashier-free checkout without store infrastructure upgrades; expects to deploy 1k carts over the next year; raised $13M to date . link

Vegan cheese company New Culture raises $3.5M seed led by Evolv Ventures; the San Francisco company uses plant-based fats, sugars, and more to enable a fermentation process that produces dairy cheese with no animal involvement; the funding will facilitate a new R&D and fermentation facility . link

Industrial sensor and analytics platform Samsara raises $300M Series F at a $6.3B valuation from Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Tiger Global, and Dragoneer; sells IoT hardware and provides a SaaS solution for tracking and analysis; Co-Founders Sanjit Biswas And John Bicket previously sold cloud networking company Meraki to Cisco for $1.2B; raised $530M to date . link

Beijing-based Zhuanzhuan, an online marketplace for secondhand goods, raises $300M Series B from parent 58.com ($8.6B market cap) and Tencent; 58.com remains majority shareholder; raised $500M to date, according to Crunchbase . link

Cloudflare increases its IPO price range to $12 to $14 per share after setting an initial range of $10 to $12 per share; the new range values the company between $3.5B and $4.18B (with underwriter-reserved shares included for the maximum); private investors last valued the company at $3.25B for a Series E in March .Update: Cloudflare reveals in regulatory filings it might have violated economic and trade sanctions regulations; the company determined blacklisted individuals and groups, or those supporting them, used Cloudflare products; includes those identified as terrorists and drug traffickers, as well as sanctioned governments . link

Apple to update HomePod with hands-free radio streaming on Sept 30; other previously announced features, such as multi-user voice support, music playback handoff from iPhone, and ambient sounds, will launch later this fall . link

The FDA is preparing to issue regulatory guidance to remove flavored vaping products from the market; President Trump pushed for the ban during a Wednesday meeting after discussing the issue with officials at the FDA and Health and Human Services; follows increasing reports of a deadly illness commonly referred to as vape lung . link

Jason appears on CNBC: regarding Apple: the iPhone has been in decline since Steve Jobs passed and the company hasn't done anything truly innovative since launching AirPods; it's time for Apple to replace Tim Cook and put its $200B cash-on-hand to work with big acquisitions like Tesla, Peloton, and Spotify; regarding Google's antitrust probe, Jason says spinning out YouTube, Nest, etc is the company's best play . link

This Week in Startups episode 973: Jason speaks with Webflow Co-Founder and CEO Vlad Magdalin about scaling the no-code web design startup to $20M in revenue, raising $72M Series A, skipping rounds through massive growth, maintaining profitability while scaling, more . link

Tech investment firm Neusoft Holdings raises $200M from Baidu; Baidu CTO Wang Haifeng joins board; the pair will co-develop tech for smart cities, education, and health care; Baidu previously invested in and partnered with multiple Neusoft subsidiaries . link

Tel Aviv-based data science platform Explorium reveals it raised $19.1M over the past year: $3.6M seed led by Emerge and $15.5M Series A led by Zeev Ventures; the platform discovers and vets data for training machine learning models; searches internal data, public and premium databases, more; also has partnerships with thousands of data providers . link

The download for 2019-09-11 →


JD.com names Jason Hu as head of strategic investment; Hu previously served as a managing director for private equity firm CDH Investments; he will oversee JD.com’s new and existing investments in China and overseas . link

US Treasury says Libra will have to meet the highest standards for tackling money laundering and the financing of terrorism; Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker says all digital currencies should feature tools to tackle illegal activity . link

Alibaba founder Jack Ma officially steps away from the company; the company threw a four hour farewell event at an 80k capacity arena; Ma addressed the audience, saying “it is not easy to be a strong company, but it is more difficult to be a good company” . link

Facebook is telling curators working on its upcoming News Tab to remain impartial when it comes to news about the company itself, reports The Information; internal guidelines also say editors should prioritize reports with on-the-record sources, rather than anonymous ones; Facebook also wants the team to avoid content that’s deliberately written to polarize or provoke readers . link

Google begins rolling out Chrome 77, adding the ability to send web pages to other devices; currently available for Chrome on Windows, Android, and iOS, but seemingly not yet active on macOS; Chrome 77 also features new site loading indicators in tabs . link

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) offers £29.6B ($36.5B) for the London Stock Exchange (LSE); HKSE is seeking board approval for the cash and stock offer, calling the deal a “highly compelling strategic opportunity”; if approved, LSE shares would each earn $20.45 (~$25) and 2.5 HKSE shares; LSE shares up 12 percent following the news . link

Apple will launch macOS Catalina in October (exact date undisclosed); the updated software includes discontinues iTunes, replacing it with standalone apps Music, Podcasts, and TV; also adds native support for using an iPad as a second display, and more; it will be available as a free download via the macOS App Store . link

The We Company (aka WeWork) is considering changes to its governance structure in an effort to improve its chances of a successful IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; it’s unclear what adjustments could be made; follows concerns from underwriters JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs that WeWork may attain a market valuation of $15B, far below its private valuation of $47B .Update: WeWork may seek a valuation of $15 to $18B in its IPO, according to a Reuters source; WeWork plans to still go ahead with the listing despite concerns by main backer SoftBank about the level of investor interest; SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and vice chairman Ron Fisher had been supportive of the IPO until recently . link

Singapore-based Grab is in talks to acquire a majority stake in payments firm Dana, according to Reuters sources; Grab would then look to merge Dana with fellow Indonesia-based remittance firm OVO, in which it already owns shares; one of the sources suggests the move is designed to challenge Go-Jek; it’s unknown how much of Dana Grab wants to acquire, or at what price . link

Connected exercise firm Peloton issues a guide price of $26 to $29 per share for its upcoming IPO, aims to raise as much as $1.2B; the company would be valued at $8B if its stock sells at the top of the range; Peloton was last valued at $4.1B; it’s set to launch on the Nasdaq under the symbol PTON . link

Indonesia-based Go-Jek partners with local startup hub Digitaraya to launch an accelerator program; known as Go-Jek Xcelerate, the scheme will work with 20 Indonesian startups for six months, and feature initiatives for business model development, growth hacks, and more; also promises participation from Google Developers Launchpad, McKinsey, and UBS Bank . link

Swiss financial regulator FINMA says the Libra cryptocurrency project is formally seeking a payment system license; Geneva-based Libra Association (backed by Facebook, PayPal, and others) says it’s “seeking a feasible pathway” for its blockchain-based payment tokens to become regulated; FINMA notes Libra goes beyond a simple payments system and will likely face additional requirements . link

Dutchie, a Shopify-like platform for cannabis merchants, raises $15M Series A led by Gron Ventures with participation from Casa Verde Capital and others; the startup offers online merchant services for cannabis dispensaries; has raised $18M to date . link

Nigeria-based challenger bank Kuda raises $1.6M seed led by angel investor Haresh Aswani with support from Ragnar Meitern and others; the fintech firm has a banking license, and offers checking accounts, debit cards, and more . link

Apple announces iPadOS will launch Sept 30; includes desktop-class browsing via Safari and homescreen widgets; supports numerous models dating back several years including iPad Air 2 and fifth gen iPad . link

CA Senate passes a bill that could reclassify some gig economy workers as employees; known as AB5, the bill lays down clearer definitions of what constitutes a contractor versus a company employee; experts say many delivery and ride-hailing drivers would likely be deemed employees under the new law; the bill is set to go to the state assembly for a vote, and then Gov Gavin Newsom (D); if fully approved, it will go into effect on Jan 1 2020 .Update: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer write a joint op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, calling for a compromise to prevent drivers from being classified as employees; Khosrowshahi, Green, and Zimmer say they would be willing to offer minimum pay to cover periods between rides, benefits packages, and more . link

Angel investor and SaaS School creator Brianne Kimmel raises $5M for Work Life Ventures' debut fund; she initially sought $3M but closed $5M in two weeks; Kimmel is the sole GP; Work Life targets early-stage enterprise SaaS teams; LPs include Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, and Garry Tan; Kimmel expects to close her second fund at $25M in as little as one year . link

Parisian career guidance and job recruitment platform JobTeaser raises ~$56M led by Highland Europe; the company works with educational institutions to help students find work; the funding will facilitate an expansion of JobTeaser's network of universities and other schools in the UK and Ireland . link

Sydney-based Q-CTRL, which develops quantum computing firmware with noise and error reduction, raises $15M Series A led by Square Peg Capital; the company plans to open a Los Angeles office and double headcount from 25 to 50; clients include Accenture and Rigetti . link

CenturyLink ($13.7B market cap) acquires Paris- and New York City-based video streaming company Streamroot; terms undisclosed; Streamroot developed its peer-to-peer mesh networking tech for cost efficiency and to serve bandwidth-constrained regions; previously raised $6M . link

McDonald's ($159B market cap) acquires AI conversational agent company Apprente; terms undisclosed; McDonald's has already tested Apprente's tech at select locations, automating drive-thru orders in multiple languages; McDonald's also said the tech could power mobile and kiosk ordering; Apprente previously raised $4.8M . link

Ad-supported EV charging station company Volta raises $20M Series C from SK Innovation, Energize Ventures, others; the round has closed at $100M; the company partners with business and property owners to install stations in high-traffic areas; Volta generates revenue via digital outdoor advertising and does not charge users . link

Apple unveils a new entry-level iPad with 10.2-inch display, starting at $330; replaces the 9.7-inch model; it is the first of Apple's seventh-generation iPad lineup; supports the full-sized Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil; features a Lightning port rather than USB-C; available for pre-order now . link

Apple to launch subscription gaming service Arcade on Sept 19; the $5-per-month plan will provide access to a library of 100-plus titles, some of which will be exclusives; will feature the four-player link

Apple announces the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max, starting at $1k and $1.1k, respectively; each features a three-lens camera array for wide-angle, ultra-wide, and telephoto support; each includes an 18w fast charger; both devices launch on Sept 20 . link

Uber lays off 435: 170 from product and 265 from engineering; a TechCrunch source indicates Eats and Freight were unaffected; the source also said Uber lifted the hiring freeze for the project and engineering teams, which the company enacted in August; 85 percent of those laid off were in the US . link

Apple announces its TV+ streaming service will launch Nov 1 at $5 per month; new iPhone, iPad, and Mac buyers will get one year of service for free; up to six family members can share one account; will include original programming . link

Apple announces a Research app that will enable Watch owners to opt-in to share data from Watch sensors and the Health app; partners including the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and Harvard School of Public Health will use the anonymized data for studies; research topics include the impact of exercise on overall health and how menstrual cycles can inform osteoporosis screenings . link

Apple unveils Watch Series 5 with always-on display; the screen dims and brightens as needed, with a full charge lasting 18 hours; includes a compass for better Maps support without a paired iPhone; available in ceramic and titanium; launches Sept 20, starting at $400 . link

Apple unveils the iPhone 11, the successor to the iPhone XR; the device features a 6.1-inch display with a notch for the Face ID camera; unlike the XR's 12MP wide-angle rear camera, the 11 has a dual-lens array with ultra-wide support; available in purple, white, green, yellow, black, and red; starts at $700, launches Sept 20 . link

MI-based EV company Rivian raises $350M from Cox Automotive, parent of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader; Rivian plans to launch its first electric truck late next year; the company will explore partnership opportunities with Cox in logistics, retail, more; raised $1.75B to date . link

Neighborhood-based digital communities company Nextdoor raises $47M Series F led by Bond Capital (Mary Meeker joins board); the company has closed the round at $170M; TechCrunch reports a valuation of $2.1B, unchanged since the round's first tranche in May; the site now serves 247k neighborhoods across 10 countries; raised $455M to date . link

Germany's government commits ~$718M over two years to a quantum computing project in which IBM will partner with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft research institute; IBM will install a Q System One quantum computer and work with the institute to build a research community; IBM ultimately plans to make the system commercially available via cloud access . link

The download for 2019-09-10 →


Singapore-based proptech firm PropertyGuru plans to raise as much as AUD$400M (~$275M) via an Australian IPO, according to Reuters sources; the company is set to meet with Australia-based investors in the coming weeks; it also plans to expand talks to potential backers in Asia and the US at a later date; PropertyGuru operates an online real estate platform that connects buyers and sellers . link

Google teases its new Play Pass service; the company has not released details of the product, but follows reports it’s testing a monthly subscription service offering premium apps and games; Play Pass is expected to cost $5 per month . link

Adtech firm Glance (a subsidiary of India-based InMobi) raises $45M from Mithril Capital; the round is still open and the company expects it could add as much as $55 in the coming months; Glance offers tools for showing ad content on Android device lockscreens; claims 50M monthly users . link

Microsoft has patented a portable speaker; rumored to be aimed at the enterprise market, the device features buttons for placing calls and adjusting the volume; it’s unknown if or when the device will launch . link

Facebook’s VP of policy solutions Richard Allan is set to leave the firm; the company has cited family reasons for Allan’s departure; he has been with the Facebook for more than 10 years, overseeing its policy issues in Europe . link

New York City-based online media firm Group Nine Media raises $50M from Discovery and Axel Springer; the company now has a $600M post-money valuation, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Group Nine owns and operates several sites including the Dodo and Thrillist; has raised $190M to date . link

Indonesia-based beauty and wellness startup Base raises an undisclosed seed led by East Ventures and Skystar Capital; the company offers online skincare consultations and personalized products; the firm says it works with R&D labs in London and Seoul, and that its products are made in Indonesia . link

Brazil-based proptech firm QuintoAndar raises $250M Series D on a post-money valuation of more than $1B led by SoftBank with participation from Dragoneer and others; the company offers a marketplace for renters and property owners, allowing users to find and advertise homes; QuintoAndar also manages viewings, digital contracts, and more; has raised $335M to date . link

Google Docs adds an automatic word count feature for the desktop web; lets users activate a counter that displays the number of words as they type; clicking on the count box shows additional info including page numbers and more; rolling out now . link

Backtrack (macOS) automatically records background audio and lets users manually choose what to save from the previous 60 minutes; recordings remain local to a user’s Mac . link

China-based EV startup Byton says it's ready to start mass-production of its first vehicle, the M-Byte SUV; first announced at CES 2018, the car promises a range of 200 miles on each charge, and features a screen that spans the length of the dashboard; expected to start at ~$45k, the EV will be available in China next year; set to launch in the US and Europe in 2021 . link

China-based computer vision firm SimShine raises $8M pre-Series A led by Cheetah Mobile with participation from Skychee, Skyview Fund, and Oak Pacific Investment; the company is developing SimCam, a security camera that promises on-device image recognition; SimShine has raised $8.3M to date . link

Denmark-based online payroll firm Pento raises $2.8M seed led by Point Nine Capital and Seedcamp; the startup offers automat employee payment tools to enterprise customers; targets SMEs and charges monthly subscriptions based on staff numbers . link

Almost 1k Amazon employees have committed to a company walkout on Sept 20 in an effort to get the firm to commit to rigorous climate change efforts; a group known as Amazon Employees for Climate Justice are calling on the company to adopt a formal resolution that commits to zero emissions by 2030; they also want Amazon to not back any lobbyists or politicians who deny human-driven climate change . link

Facebook and Instagram users are able to download and share other users’ private Stories and posts via a web browser, reports BuzzFeed; by navigating to a user’s post and using browser tools to inspect a webpage’s source code, users can sift through and find a post’s image or video URL; the link can then be shared with others, and the content can also be downloaded directly; deleted content is seemingly still accessible a few days after being supposedly removed . link

Microsoft unveils its updated To Do app; the redesigned app features backgrounds, color templates, and more; the company is encouraging users to move over to To Do from Wunderlist (which it acquired in 2015), noting it integrates much of Wunderlist’s core features; Microsoft plans to discontinue Wunderlist at some point, though founder Christian Reber has asked to repurchase the app . link

SoftBank is urging The We Company (aka WeWork) to postpone its upcoming IPO, according to sources for the Financial Times; interest in WeWork’s IPO is said to be lackluster; SoftBank is the firm’s largest backer having invested ~$10B to date; follows reports the WeWork may cut its target valuation to less than $20B .Update: an unnamed WeWork exec says the company plans to rely on the junk bond market for future investment, according to a Bloomberg source; the exec outlined the firm’s credit strategy in a meeting with analysts; WeWork has lined up $6B worth of credit, but it’s contingent on it raising at least $3B when it goes public; the company is expected to launch its IPO roadshow as early as this week . link

The FDA says vape company Juul has made misleading statements about its products and may have directly marketed to schoolchildren; the agency alleges Juul has claimed its devices help wean smokers off cigarettes without providing scientific proof; it also suggests Juul’s product design and youth outreach programs might have led to increased use among children; the FDA has asked Juul to respond to questions, noting further action could be taken . link

Merchant platform Shopify acquires warehouse robotics firm 6 River Systems for $450M; the company provides mobile robots and software for managing fulfilment centers; has raised $46M to date . link

Mexico's federal government is in talks to extend sales tax to foreign online businesses; Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said the country had reached agreements with some digital platforms, and that the government was looking into the details of withholding funds; he also said the sector represented five percent of the Mexican economy . link

The FDA warns Juul it can't claim vaping products are less harmful than combustible cigarettes without the administration's approval; in a letter to Juul, the FDA cited advertisements that targeted young people and indicated Juul products were safe; Juul has 15 days to respond . link

CME Group Foundation announces ~$900k in new grants for computer science programs provided by Chicago Public Schools and local nonprofits; the foundation, which works to improve access to STEM programs, previously granted $1.2M to Chicago schools; the new round of grants will finance summer and after school programs in neighborhoods lacking resources . link

Canadian energy storage company Stash raises ~$300k from Island Capital Partners and The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation; currently produces a thermal solution for heat pumps, enabling consumers to store energy during off-peak periods to save on utility costs; also plans a home cooling solution . link

Portland pediatric urgent care clinic Brave Care (YC S19) raises $5M seed from Sesame Street (via Collaborative Fund partnership), Greycroft, and others; the company plans to develop a triage tool that will help guardians decide between urgent care and an ER visit; also plans a new electronic health records system . link

Crunchyroll, a video service offering Japanese animated content and other Asian media, acquires majority stake in Paris-based Viz Media Europe, which handles the development, marketing, and distribution of anime and manga in Europe; terms undisclosed; Crunchyroll has raised $27M to date . link

New York City-based Vic.ai, which provides an AI-powered platform for accounting firms and finance departments, raises $11.2M Series A led by GGV; automates some processes and uses data for insights and advisory services; raised $12.7M to date . link

Munich-based ProGlove, which develops wearable devices for industrial environments, raises $40M Series B led by Summit Partners; offers a connected scanner glove for logistics, manufacturing, more; customers include Audi, BMW, and Daimler; raised $49M to date . link

TX Attorney General Ken Paxton formally announces he's leading an antitrust investigation into Google's advertising business and practices; 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are participating; a separate antitrust investigation led by NY focuses on Facebook . link

NetEase Cloud Music raises $700M Series B2 from Alibaba and founder Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital; Alibaba will own 20 percent of Cloud Music; Alibaba recently confirmed it would acquire payments service Kaola from NetEase for $2B; NetEase Cloud Music offers social networking features and carries independent artists . link

Minimalist mobile phone company Light begins shipping the $350 Light Phone 2; the original Light Phone launched in the spring of 2017 with intentionally limited features; it supported calls only: no texting, no music playback, etc; it only saved 10 numbers and required computer interaction to do so; the new model supports texting and saving numbers; the team plans to add rideshare booking, music, and directions . link

Drivetime, which develops hands-free audio games for drivers, raises $11M Series A led by Makers Fund with participation from Amazon's Alexa Fund and Google Assistant Investments Program; link

OH-based Root Insurance, which uses smartphone data to analyze driver behavior and set rates, raises $350M Series E at a $3.65B valuation led by DST Global and Coatue; Axios reported the then-unconfirmed round last month; currently live in 29 US states, expects to expand to all 50 states and DC by year's end; raised $523M to date, plus $100M in debt financing . link

London-based data analysis company Adarga raises ~$6.2M Series A led by Allectus Capital; serves financial institutions, defense companies, and intelligence agencies with an AI-powered solution for detecting threats and problems before they occur; serves the UK government . link

Berlin-based DiaMonTech, which has developed a device for non-invasive blood-sugar monitoring, raises ~$7.7M Series A led by Bioventure; the company's DMT Base product, which uses a laser to measure glucose without drawing blood, targets professional users; DiaMonTech is developing a smaller device called DMT Pocket that could target consumers . link

Apple to launch new iPhones on Sept 20, according to an AppleInsider source; availability reportedly will coincide with the reopening of Apple's redesigned flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City; Apple will unveil the new lineup on Sept 10; the company typically opens orders a few days after the unveiling and ships the following week . link

The download for 2019-09-09 →


Reuters profiles Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma as he prepares to step down on Sept 10; Ma announced his departure last year, noting he is leaving on his 55th birthday; Ma will remain a part of Alibaba’s corporate governance group, which is separate from its board of directors; Alibaba is set to host a farewell party at the 80k capacity Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center stadium . link

Expense management firm AppZen raises $50M Series C led by Coatue Management with participation from Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners; TechCrunch says the firm is now valued at $500M; the company offers AI-powered auditing solutions to enterprise customers; has raised ~$100M to date . link

Carmaker Daimler starts testing Level 4 autonomous trucks on public roads in VA; each vehicle has a safety driver behind the wheel and an engineer to monitor the truck’s systems; follows the Daimler signed a partnership with BMW earlier this year to develop driverless tech . link

Healthtech firm Vim raises $24M Series B led by Optum Ventures with participation from Premera Blue Cross, Great Point Ventures, and Sequoia Capital; the company provides online tools to connect patients with healthcare providers; has raised $37M to date . link

Binny Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart, plans to launch a Singapore-based VC fund with a target of $300M to $400M, according to sources for The Times of India; the fund will primarily focus on Indian startups, but it will also consider other companies across Southeast Asia; Bansal will serve as a general partner, while current Flipkart exec Rajneesh Baweja will handle the VC firm’s finance and legal operations; it’s expected to go live later this year . link

India-based Good Capital closes its first fund at $25M; the VC firm plans to invest between $100k and $2M in early-stage companies; targets Indian startups working on solutions for new internet adopters; Good Capital was founded by Rohan Malhotra and Arjun Malhotra who previously established startup networking firm Investopad . link

Google says it has received a notice from the Department of Justice, asking for details relating to previous antitrust investigations; represents the first acknowledgement that the company is facing a federal competition probe; the DoJ previously announced a broad antitrust inquiry into large tech firms; Google notes it expects similar requests from state attorney generals . link

Huawei accuses US officials of pursuing a “selective prosecution” against a Chinese professor with links to the company; Bo Mao, an associate professor at Xiamen University and a visiting professor at the University of Texas, has been charged with trying to steal IP from an unnamed CA-based tech firm; Huawei indicates the case relates to semiconductor company CNEX and a civil lawsuit which has found Huawei misappropriated a trade secret . link

Uizard, a Denmark-based app prototyping platform, raises $2.8M seed led by byFounders with participation from LDV Capital, av8 Ventures, and others; the startup offers an AI-powered platform that promises to convert hand-drawn concept app designs into wireframe development models; has raised $3.6M to date . link

Apple and manufacturing partner Foxconn have broken Chinese labor laws by using too many temporary staff, reports Bloomberg; advocacy group China Labor Watch says nonpermanent staff made up ~50 percent of the workforce last month at a Foxconn facility in Zhengzhou; the legal limit is 10 percent; Apple says its working with Foxconn to fix the issue .Update: Apple also confirms interns have been made to work overtime at night; the company says it has since rectified the problem; follows a report that Foxconn has hired schoolchildren under the guise of internships to assemble devices for Amazon and others; it’s unclear whether school-age workers worked on Apple products . link

Apple will stream its Sept 10 event live on YouTube, marking the first time the company has ever done so; the company traditionally streams its iPhone events via its own website, but last year expanded to also include Twitter; users can watch the event via this link, and set a reminder to be notified when its starts . link

Germany-based VTOL firm Volocopter raises €50M (~$55M) Series C led by Zhejiang Geely; the company is developing multi-occupancy aerial vehicles for use within cities; Volocopter hopes to launch an aerial taxi service by 2022; has raised more than $90M to date . link

France-based fintech firm Spendesk raises $38.4M Series B led by Index Ventures; the company provides expense management tools to enterprise customers; has raised ~$50M to date . link

VentureBeat profiles TCL’s DragonHinge, a folding-screen concept smartphone with a clamshell design; the report notes the hinge is relatively loose and that it doesn’t fully lock in place; TCL says development on the device is still in the early stages, so it’s unclear if or when such a product may launch . link

Italy-based female-focused media company Freeda raises $16M Series B led by Alven with participation from Endeavor Catalyst and others; the firm operates multiple social media accounts offering short-form interviews, videos, articles, and more; has raised $30M to date . link

Russian officials say Facebook and Google allowed political ads on Sept 8, an election day; media regulator Roskomnadzor claims both companies had been asked to block such marketing and suggests their actions could be viewed as a form of interference; it’s unknown what consequences the firms will face, if any .Update: Google says it supports responsible political ads in accordance with local laws; it has not confirmed whether it did allow such marketing to run during yesterday’s local elections . link

Switzerland-based ProtonMail is in talks with Huawei about the prospect of bundling its encrypted email app with future devices, reports Bloomberg; ProtonMail CEO Andy Yen notes a final decision is yet to be made, but says the app could also be included in Huawei’s AppGallery store; Yen says Huawei sees ProtonMail as a potential alternative to Gmail; US companies are currently restricted from working with Huawei . link

Bug bounty firm HackerOne raises $36.4M Series D led by Valor Equity Partners with participation from Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and others; the company provides a platform for running bug reporting schemes; partners include PayPal, Twitter, and the Department of Defense; has raised $110M to date . link

The download for 2019-09-08 →


Elon Musk says Tesla will most likely unveil its electric pickup truck in November; the company previously targeted an earlier event; Tesla has published one vague teaser image but hasn't disclosed details about capabilities or specs; Musk did say the design had a cyberpunk aesthetic . link

TX officials announce that no municipality paid in response to a coordinated ransomware attack that targeted 22 towns (previously reported as 23) on Aug 16; the Texas Department of Information Resources said on Sept 5 that half of the affected offices had resumed normal operations; NPR reported that the perpetrators sought a collective payment of $2.5M in bitcoin . link

Huawei subsidiary Honor unveils PocketVision, an AI-powered app for the visually impaired; the app recognizes text in the camera feed and reformats for easier reading; also reads the text aloud; users can change the background/text contrast, increase font size, etc; will be available for Huawei and Honor phones in numerous languages . link

Hustle Fund GP Elizabeth Yin shares a Google Doc in which founders share stories and tips about meeting investors; specifically targets entrepreneurs who don't have extensive networks; Yin previously published a Doc featuring questions early-stage investors are likely to ask entrepreneurs . link

Toronto-based theScore, which produces sports-related digital content, raises ~$30M private placement from Fengate Asset Management; the publicly-listed company recently launched a betting app that supports pre-game and in-game bets across numerous leagues . link

Social VR platform VRChat raises $10M Series C from Makers Fund, HTC, others; with Unity and the VRChat SDK users can create avatars and build environments for social gatherings; the company also operates a market where users can sell their creations; raised $15M to date . link

Happy Money, a marketplace for credit union debt consolidation loans, raises $70M Series D at a $495M valuation led by CMFG Ventures (the VC arm of CUNA Mutual Group); CUNA works with 95 percent of US credit unions; Happy Money claims a $65M ARR; raised $142M to date . link

Microsoft integrates TomTom's navigation tech into its Connected Vehicle Platform, which transmits diagnostic data and more to Azure to provide insights for automakers and others; the platform's location intelligence includes traffic information and HD map features, which can power navigation apps, autonomous driving systems, etc . link

Tracking tag company Tile plans to launch Google Assistant support by year's end; users of Assistant on any device will have the ability to ring a Tile tag via voice command; the company hasn't detailed the extent of functionality on devices with displays; Tile previously launched support for Alexa devices . link

Firefox to use HTTPS for DNS requests by default in the US beginning this month; encrypting requests provides additional protection against DNS hijacking campaigns and activity monitoring; failed requests will fallback to OS-specified name servers; enterprises, parental control apps, and others will have the option to override . link

Twitch launches native Apple TV app in public beta; requires Apple's TestFlight app on the tvOS device and on an iOS device (to accept the invitation to download); supports standard Twitch features, such as browsing by game, popular channels, etc; includes live chat . link

Grove Collaborative, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce company offering scheduled shipments of household and personal care products, raises $150M Series D at a $1B valuation led by General Atlantic, Lone Pine Capital, and Glynn Capital; Grove says its natural products are healthier and better for the environment than competing products; raised $212M to date . link

Ryan Hoover's VC firm, Weekend Fund, raises ~$8.7M of a $10M target for its second early-stage fund; Fund I closed at ~$3M in 2017; Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, launched Weekend shortly after AngelList acquired his company for ~$20M; Hoover did not take management fees from LPs for Fund I, but will under Fund II .Watch Jason speak with Ryan about Weekend Fund on ANGEL: link

Google open-sources two datasets for training natural language AI models; the first, Coached Conversational Preference Elicitation (CCPE), features 500 dialogs between people discussing movie preferences; researchers chose the subject due to the richness of its metadata; the second, Taskmaster-1, contains 13.2k dialog samples covering six categories of discussion . link

Denver-based smoothie startup reBLEND raises $550k led by True Wealth Ventures; the company obtains discarded produce from farmers and manufacturers; for example, cauliflower stems from a vegetable processor that doesn't use them; reBLEND produces smoothie cubes for blending with milk, juice, etc; also offers packaged shots, more . link

The Canadian federal and Quebec governments commit ~$11.4M to establish an AI center in Montréal; the federal government will invest up to ~$7.6M over five years; the remainder comes via a previously announced grant from Quebec; the center will focus on the ethical advancement of AI . link

Uber surveys some drivers about a loan product, indicates it's launching a new financial service, Recode reports; the company previously pilot-tested cash advances for drivers in CA and MI; Uber also offers a co-branded Visa credit card and works with third parties to help drivers lease cars . link

Two groups of state attorneys general announce separate antitrust investigations of tech companies; the first, led by NY with DC and seven other states, is focused on Facebook; TX announced the second investigation without specifying a target; that investigation could include up to 40 states, and some expect it will concentrate on Google . link

MIT Media Lab Director Joichi Ito resigns amidst public scrutiny regarding his financial ties to deceased billionaire and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein; Ito also resigned as a professor and employee at MIT; his resignation came less than a day after an article in The New Yorker revealed the Media Lab's efforts to conceal ties with Epstein .Watch Jason discuss Ito's ethical missteps on This Week in Startups: link

Wikimedia says a broad DDoS attack incapacitated Wikipedia across Europe and parts of the Middle East on Friday; Wikimedia said the attack was ongoing, causing intermittent downtime . link

London-based PrimaryBid, a funding platform for public companies, raises $8.6M led by Pentech and Outward VC; the regulated platform enables listed companies to issue discounted shares for retail investors; raised ~$12M to date . link

Chicago-based cannabis marketing startup Fyllo raises $16M seed led by K2 and JW Asset Management; the platform tracks marijuana legislation to ensure clients comply with laws regarding age-based advertising, more; the company plans to expand its teams in Chicago, New York City, and Israel; also plans a new office in Toronto . link

The download for 2019-09-07 →


Alphabet reveals a Department of Justice civil investigative demand regarding prior antitrust investigations; the company said it expected similar demands from state attorneys general, and that it would cooperate with federal and state regulators . link

The We Company plans to go forward with its IPO roadshow next week despite concerns about the valuation it can achieve, according to Reuters sources; the company reportedly is considering a valuation of ~$20B, less than half of its last private valuation of $47B . link

Philadelphia news anchor Karen Hepp, who works at Fox 29 News, files a $10M suit against Facebook, Reddit, Giphy and other platforms because they displayed an image of her taken by a convenience store security camera; the picture appeared in ads for dating services and erectile dysfunction; users submitted the photo to forums in some instances; she claims publicity rights violations and reputation damage . link

This Week in Startups episode 972: Jason speaks with journalist Amir Efrati of The Information about Toptal denying equity to investors and employees; the conversation covers Amir's breaking of the story, Toptal's unusual tactics, the changing landscape for investor-startup relations, more . link

Daimler-owned Smart announces it has transitioned to an EV-only brand, unveils the EQ Fortwo and EQ Forfour; the two- and four-seaters (respectively) were designed from the ground up as electric vehicles; Daimler says Smart is the first auto company to shift from gas to an exclusively electric lineup . link

Consumer rights group Truth in Advertising files a complaint with the FTC regarding YouTube channel Ryan ToysReview; the channel, run by adults, features product unboxings and reviews by a seven-year-old boy; the complaint alleges the channel fails to disclose sponsorships, and when it does disclose sponsorships, the language is too vague for children to understand . link

Music streaming services passed 60M paid subscribers in the US this year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America; total music revenue grew 18 percent to $5.4B in the first half of 2019; streaming revenues grew 26 percent over the same period to $4.3B; streaming accounted for 80 percent of all music revenues . link

Immigration and Customs Enforcement orders Google and Apple to turn over the names and other personal information of people who downloaded an app called Obsidian 4, which works as a companion to gun scopes made by American Technologies Network; ICE is investigating potential weapons export violations . link

Signia Venture Partners reveals its third early-stage fund at $85M; the fund closed late last year and has six investments to date; the firm has expanded its geographic focus from Silicon Valley to include New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City; exits include Cruise and Blue Talon . link

Sen Edward Markey (D-MA) asks Amazon to detail its partnerships with police departments regarding Ring smart doorbells; The Washington Post recently revealed that Ring has video-sharing agreements with ~400 departments; Markey wrote in a letter to Amazon that the partnerships raise serious privacy and civil liberties concerns . link

6Wunderkinder Co-Founder Christian Reber wants to repurchase task management app Wunderlist from Microsoft, which integrated the tech into its To-Do feature for Office 365; Microsoft announced it would retire the Wunderlist app, but it remains active and popular . link

Apple accuses Google of causing unnecessary consumer fear with a recent Project Zero report detailing a website-based iPhone hacking campaign; Apple didn't dispute the research, but said the report made the attacks sound more widespread than they were; TechCrunch sources indicated the attacks were state-sponsored, most likely by China, targeting Uighur Muslims living in Xinjiang; Apple confirmed the affected sites targeted Uighur Muslims . link

Medal.tv, a platform for video game highlight videos, raises $9M Series A led by Horizons Ventures; 14 months after launch, the company claims 10 to 20 percent user growth per week; gamers upload millions of clips per week; raised $12.5M to date . link

Peer-to-peer car rental platform Getaround is raising $200M-plus Series D (extension) at a $1.7B valuation, PitchBook reports; investors valued the company at $840M in August of last year; the SoftBank-backed firm, which primarily operates in the US, acquired Parisian car-sharing company Drivy for $300M in April; raised $443M to date . link

The download for 2019-09-06 →


Uber engineering VP Jörg Heilig has announced he will step down next month, reports The Information; Heilig reportedly wants to spend more time with his family, though he intends to still work for Uber part-time; the report says Heilig had been considered an eventual successor for Thuan Pham in the role of CTO . link

Alibaba subsidiary UCWeb announces plans to launch an e-commerce service in India in the coming months; full plans unclear, but UCWeb says it will not compete with Alibaba’s existing services; the company is best known for its UC Browser, a mobile browser used by ~130M people in India . link

Japanese regulators award a cryptocurrency business license to messaging platform Line; the approval means Line is clear to establish a crypto exchange in the country; Line has previously said it plans to launch LINK Chain, a proprietary blockchain which will support two crypto tokens - LINE Point (for Japan) and LINK (rest of the world) . link

Design platform Superside (formerly Konsus) raises $3.5M from Freestyle Capital with participation from High Alpha Ventures, Y Combinator, and Alliance Ventures; the company lets enterprise customers find designers to work on projects; Superside differentiates itself from its competitors by claiming to only add ~100 select designers to its platform each year . link

Huawei-owned chipmaker HiSilicon announces eight-core Kirin 990 5G; promises download speeds of up to 2.3 Gbps on 5G networks; the 7nm chip has 10.3B transistors, up from the 6.9B found on its predecessor the Kirin 980; the Kirin 990 5G is expected to be featured in Huawei’s upcoming Mate 30 lineup . link

Xiaomi claims to have shipped more than 100M smartphones in India since launching there five years ago; the company says Redmi and Redmi Note devices are its most popular; Xiaomi has been the top phone brand in India for the last eight quarters . link

Singapore-based healthtech firm CXA Group is aiming to raise $50M on a $250M valuation; the company provides AI-powered health insurance products to enterprise customers; CEO Rosaline Chow Koo says CXA is aiming for profitability next year and hopes to reach unicorn status within the next three years . link

Germany’s economy ministry says several companies are discussing the formation of a new European battery cell manufacturing group; it’s unknown which firms are involved, but agreements are expected to be signed this fall; German-languaged news outlet Handelsblatt also says Germany and eight other European nations have agreed to establish a vehicle battery production and recycling consortium . link

Amazon is close to acquiring Foodpanda’s India operations from Ola, according to a source for Livemint; terms unknown; Ola purchased the business in 2017, but later suspended most of its activity; Amazon is also reportedly planning to launch its own restaurant delivery service in the country next month; the service is set to launch in Bengaluru, though the company is signing partnerships across the country . link

Huawei announces FreeBuds 3 wireless earbuds featuring noise-cancelling tech; the earbuds use Kirin A1 chip which supports Bluetooth 5.1; promises improved power consumption and lower latency; FreeBuds promise four hours battery, while the charging case offers 20 hours of power; price and availability unclear . link

Decentralized app platform Dapp.com raises $1M led by Hashed with participation from Du Capital and others; the firm offers blockchain-based app distribution and analytics; currently has ~3k apps on its platform . link

China’s central bank says its upcoming digital currency will work across WeChat and Alipay; Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments unit, says the digital yuan bears some similarities to yet-to-launch Libra, but notes the currency will still work even if users do not have an active internet connection; follows reports China may launch the currency as early as Nov 11 . link

Thousands of resumes uploaded to recruitment platform Monster have been exposed, reports TechCrunch; it’s unknown how many people are affected, but the resumes date from 2014 through 2017 and include details such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses; Monster says the affected server was operated by an unnamed third-party that it no longer works with; Monster says the server is now secure . link

Some staff at SoftBank’s Vision Fund have concerns that The We Company (aka WeWork) could be valued at below $20B upon IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; Vision Fund has put $10.6B into WeWork; the company was valued at $20B when Vision Fund first invested; the report notes compensation for Vision Fund staff is tied to WeWork’s success; follows a report WeWork may seek a valuation of $20B to $30B when it goes public . link

YouTube launches a dedicated fashion section featuring curated videos of clothing collections, suggested accounts, and more; The New York Times notes YouTube has hired former Vanity Fair contributor Derek Blasberg as its head of beauty and fashion partnerships; Blasberg is working with fashion figures such as Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham, encouraging them to create and maintain YouTube channels . link

Facebook and Microsoft partner with several universities and the Partnership on AI to establish a program designed to root out deepfake videos; known as the Deepfake Detection Challenge, the coalition will fund a series of imitation videos which will provide a database from which AI-powered tools can start to learn; Facebook will invest $10M in the endeavor; it's unclear if or how much its partners will invest . link

Facebook Dating launches in the US, its twentieth market; suggests other Facebook Dating users as potential matches; also lets users integrate select Instagram posts and Stories into their profile; Facebook Dating profiles are only viewable by other users . link

Alibaba confirms it’s acquiring China-based remittance service Kaola from NetEase for $2B; Kaola will become part of Tmall, though it will still operate under its own brand; Tmall exec Alvin Liu replaces Zhang Lei as Kaola CEO . link

Medium is developing a Paper-like tool to save articles from across the web, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong; the company's Android app includes references to a Save to Medium feature; it's unknown if or when it will go live . link

Google announces Ambient Mode for Google Assistant on Android devices; the Home Hub-like feature lets users display weather, photos, reminders, and more when docked; set to work on select devices including some Lenovo tablets and Nokia smartphones; unclear when it will roll out . link

Crowdsourced design platform Superside (previously Konsus - YC W16), raises $3.5M led by Freestyle Capital; serves enterprises, enabling companies to list design jobs for web sites, presentations, brand identity, etc; the company is working on gigs for interface design, motion graphics, more . link

Apple Music launches web player in beta; limited to subscribers; does not require iTunes or any other app; Apple says the player should work on any device with any browser; features the entire Apple Music catalog and any tracks users have synced to their libraries . link

This Week in Startups episode 971: Jason speaks with Checkr Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Yanisse about building the first API for background checks, scaling to 10k-plus customers, growth vs profitability, the future of the gig economy, more (the first of a ten-episode mini-series) . link

Code within iOS 13 references a device codenamed Garta that appears relevant to Apple's AR plans; one file references a shell for AR apps called StarBoard; an included STARTester app seems to provide headset simulation for AR app developers; the new Find My app includes an AR/VR headset icon, which might refer to the app's reported AR feature for locating devices . link

Data mining and analysis firm Palantir is in talks with overseas investors to raise a substantial round, according to Bloomberg sources; Peter Thiel, who co-founded the company in 2004, reportedly told employees this month Palantir would not go public within the next two years; previous reports indicated the company targeted a 2020 listing; raised $2B to date . link

Apple is developing in-display fingerprint scanning tech for next year's iPhones, according to Bloomberg sources; currently in testing at Apple and with suppliers, the consumer launch might be delayed until 2021; the scan reportedly will work in tandem with Apple's Face ID tech . link

Chinese manufacturer Shenzhen i365-Tech exposed 600k consumer GPS devices by shipping them with a default password; remotely entering the password link

Chicago-based VillageMD, which provides a platform for primary care providers, raises $100M Series B led by Kinnevik; provides staffing resources, data analytics to cut costs and improve quality of care, more; raised $216M to date . link

Boston-based Ori, which produces robotic furniture that automatically transforms and compacts, raises $20M Series B led by Sidewalk Labs; the company has partnered with IKEA to develop furnishings slated to debut in Asia next year; Ori's mobile app works with smart home devices for voice control; raised $27M to date . link

Stripe launches Stripe Capital, offering business loans that customers repay from sales; initially limited to the US; available for Stripe customers and customers of companies using Stripe's payment platform, Connect; TechCrunch reports the company plans other financial services, including a Brex-like credit card . link

New Wave Foods, which has developed a plant-based shrimp substitute, raises undisclosed funding from Tyson Ventures, the investment arm of Tyson Foods; Tyson previously invested in plant-based meat substitute company Beyond Meat and lab-grown meat startup Memphis Meats; New Wave's shrimp contains no shellfish allergens . link

The We Company is considering cutting its valuation to just over $20B for IPO, according to Reuters sources; a Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal indicated the company was considering a $20B valuation; investors privately valued the firm at $47B in January; one Reuters source said The We Company could begin its roadshow as soon as Monday . link

London-based Spirable, which provides a SaaS platform that generates personalized video ads, raises $7.4M Series A led by Smedvig; the software enables brands to create video templates for ads that pull data for geographic and other user-centric customizations; has served 100M ads across 75 countries . link

Professional recruitment platform RippleMatch raises $6M Series A led by G20 Ventures; targets recent college graduates and focuses on diversity; uses AI to match candidates with job and internship opportunities based on 300 data points; raised ~$11M to date . link

Lithuanian DappRadar, which provides a platform for discovering and analyzing blockchain-based decentralized apps (dapps), raises $2.3M seed led by Naspers; currently supports six blockchains representing 2.5k apps; filters inauthentic behavior to provide market intelligence . link

New York City-based data privacy protection company BigID raises $50M Series C led by Bessemer; provides enterprises with solutions for GDPR and other regulatory compliance; BigID also announced the addition of data discovery, classification, and correlation; raised $96M to date . link

The download for 2019-09-05 →


Government data analytics and visualization platform OpenGov acquires fellow SaaS firm ViewPoint; terms undisclosed; ViewPoint offers tools for filing permits and license applications . link

Sonos announces Move, a $400 portable speaker with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support; features an internal battery promising 10 hours of use; 10-inches tall and weighs 6.5 pounds; available to pre-order now, ships Sept 24 . link

India-based fintech startup FPL Technologies raises $4.5M seed from Matrix Partners India, Sequoia Capital India, and others; the company has developed OneScore, an app to let users learn their credit score; FPL is developing a mobile credit card product, but it’s unclear when that will launch . link

Insurance group Prudential ($32B market cap) acquires Seattle-based insurtech firm Assurance IQ for $2.3B, reports The Wall Street Journal; Prudential will provide and additional $1.1B if the company achieves certain growth targets; Assurance offers a range of insurance products via an online portal . link

Software automation firm Zapier names former Google exec Jonathan Rochelle as CPO; replaces Mike Knoop, who is transitioning to a role overseeing R&D; Rochelle spent 14 years at Google, leading a number of projects including Google Classroom, Drive, and Docs . link

India-based grocery delivery firm Milkbasket is in talks to raise a $50M Series C, according to TechCrunch sources; the company offers a service that delivers dairy and other fresh grocery products across several cities; has raised $26M to date . link

Singapore-based Grab says it will invest $150M in AI developments and on hiring more engineers; speaking with Bloomberg, co-founder Tan Hooi Ling says the company intends to improve its natural language processing (NLP) tools, noting Southeast Asian languages are underserved; Tan also says Grab will use AI tech to improve its fraud prevention systems . link

Netherlands-based navigation firm TomTom unveils a self-driving vehicle designed to help improve its mapping system; built in partnership with Volvo, the car is capable of Level 5 autonomy; features laser-based scanners, stereo cameras, and a radar system; TomTom says it will use the vehicle to improve its HD maps; it will initially be tested on public roads in Berlin . link

Go-Jek president Andre Soelistyo says the company is on track to raise $2B by the end of this year as part of its ongoing Series F; Soelistyo notes Indonesia-based Go-Jek is now operating in four markets including Singapore, and has plans to launch in another two soon; speaking with Bloomberg, Soelistyo says the ride-hailing, logistics, and payments firm has handled $1.5B worth of transactions outside of Indonesia . link

WhatsBlast (iOS, Android) lets users create and send personalized mass messages; the app dynamically adds recipient names; users can also create curated groups . link

Palo Alto Networks ($19.2B market cap) acquires fellow cybersecurity firm Zingbox for $75M; the company provides security tools for IoT instances; has raised $26M to date . link

A federal judge rules a database of suspected terrorists violates the rights of US citizens included in the list; known as the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), it features the names of more than 1M individuals and it’s used by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and others; overseas agencies also use it; US District Judge Anthony Trenga says the TSDB lacks “any meaningful restraint” on who can be added, and that its broad use can also lead to reputational damage . link

Weibo pulls an Instagram-like app three days after launch; full reasons unclear, but some users noted the app’s icon seemingly plagiarized a graphic used by a South Korean movie studio; known as Oasis, the app let users edit images and then share them with followers via a layout that’s similar to Instagram’s; Weibo says it intends to relaunch the app at a later date . link

We Company (aka WeWork) retrieves a $5.9M payment it made to CEO Adam Neumann for use of the We trademark; Neumann controls the We branding via We Holdings; We Company says it paid fair market value to use the We brand, but the deal drew criticism from several figures including New York University professor Scott Galloway; details of the transaction were first made public in the company’s IPO paperwork . link

Browser company Brave claims Google shares personal info with advertisers, reports the Financial Times; Brave has told Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) that Google passes along users’ details using secret web pages which are designed to bypass existing laws; Brave says Google is using a tracker that contains location details, web browsing data, and more; the DPC is the de facto regulator overseeing major tech firms in the EU; Google says it doesn’t serve personalized ads without consent . link

Representatives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook have met with US officials to discuss security issues pertaining to the 2020 election, reports The New York Times; the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence were also in attendance; they discussed potential threats, strategies for better information sharing, and more . link

Samsung confirms $2k Galaxy Fold will launch on Sept 6 in South Korea; the device includes support for 5G and Samsung is offering a Fold Advantage+ program that promises to cover 70 percent of repair costs; Samsung says Galaxy Fold will launch in the US in the coming weeks, though it’s unclear whether it will also have 5G support .Update: Samsung says Galaxy Fold will launch in the UK, France, Germany, and Singapore on Sept 18; price unknown; a US release date is still unconfirmed, but rumors indicate Sept 27 . link

Nintendo announces some SNES titles will be available via Switch Online from today; includes “Super Mario Kart,” “F-Zero,” and “Super Mario World”; the company has also announced a SNES-style controller for $30; launch date unknown . link

Singapore-based Reefknot Investments closes its first fund at $50M; targets Series A and Series B logistics and supply startups; the company plans to invest in six to eight firms . link

Berkeley-based coffee equipment firm Bellwether Coffee raises $40M Series B led by DBL Partners; the company provides bean roasting units and software to cafes, grocery stores, and more; has raised $56M to date . link

Esports company BoomTV acquires American Video Game League (AVGL), which operates college esport events, produces relevant content, more; terms undisclosed; BoomTV operates the biweekly Code Red event and community gaming events; the pair have worked together in the past, with BoomTV incorporating AVGL's collegiate play in Code Red . link

Betaworks announces Audiocamp, the latest in the firm's series of themed camps for pre-seed teams; selected groups work out of Betaworks' New York City office for three months and get investment; Audiocamp is open to teams working on synthetic audio and music generation, audio content monetization, more . link

Unprotected server exposes phone numbers associated with 400M-plus Facebook IDs; Facebook said someone scraped the data before the company removed a feature that enabled users to find others via phone numbers; the data, spanning multiple databases, included some records with real names, genders, and country locations . link

Austin-based Decent, which provides health insurance plans for freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors, raises $8M seed led by Menlo Ventures; claims premiums 30 to 50 percent lower than market rates . link

Twitter temporarily disables its SMS-to-tweet feature after SIM swappers used it to tweet via CEO Jack Dorsey's account, publishing racist slurs and a bomb threat; the function is essentially legacy tech, as most users now rely on the mobile app . link

Microsoft $1T market cap) acquires Bellevue-based cloud-migration company Movere; terms undisclosed; Movere provides data and insights for migration planning, and monitors and optimizes IT environments; Microsoft plans to integrate the tech into its Azure migration tools . link

Berlin-based Delivery Hero acquires Cyprus-based delivery and takeaway ordering platform Foody; terms undisclosed; Foody has partnerships with 600 restaurants and coffee shops and claims 130k orders per month; the founders and team will continue daily operations . link

Apple plans to raise $7B via bond sale, IFR reports; SEC filings indicate notes will mature over three to 30 years and finance acquisitions, debt repayments, share repurchases, capital expenditures, more . link

Amazon unveils a new Fire TV Cube and numerous Fire TV Edition products; the lineup includes the first Fire TV Edition audio product - a soundbar from Anker; also includes the first Fire TV Edition OLED TVs; the new Fire TV Cube, now available for pre-order at $120, features a hexa-core processor and offers hands-free control, with support for 4K UHD at up to 60 fps . link

Vancouver, BC-based Clio, which provides a practice management system for law firms, raises ~$250M Series D from TCV and JMI Equity; approved by 66 bar associations, the SaaS platform serves 150k clients across 100 countries . link

Soto Solar, which develops and invests in solar projects in Spain and Portugal, raises ~$110M in exchange for 50 percent equity; currently has a pipeline representing 500-plus megawatts; targets a solar capacity of two gigawatts within the next five years; founded by Dutch companies Stecc and Hartenlust . link

London-based Elliptic, which provides tools for preventing and detecting illegal cryptocurrency transactions, raises $23M Series B led by SBI Holdings (Tomoyuki Nii joins board); uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to scan blockchains for suspicious transactions; raised $35M to date . link

Neura, which analyzes real-world user behavior to inform app customization and improve engagement, raises $16M Series B led by Pitango and Liberty Technology; the platform can collect data from smartphones and watches and IoT devices like door locks; uses machine learning to understand habits and schedules; raised $26M to date . link

New York City-based fintech company Even Financial raises $25M led by Citi Ventures and MassMutual Ventures; provides APIs for financial service providers, powering acquisition, monetization, etc; plans tools for mortgages, student loans, more; raised $50M to date . link

Australian nano-satellite company Space Fleet Technologies raises $7.35M from Momenta Ventures and Horizon Ventures; the company plans to launch a global constellation of its shoebox-sized satellites for IoT applications, including tracking construction equipment and monitoring utility infrastructure; raised ~$12M to date . link

Google to pay $170M to settle FTC charges that YouTube violated COPPA by collecting data on minors without parental consent; the FTC approved the deal 3-2, with two Democrats saying the agreement didn't sufficiently punish Google; $136M will go to the FTC, making it the largest such COPPA settlement to date; $34M will go to the state of NY . link

Ginger, which provides mobile mental health services for employees, raises $35M Series C led by WP Global Partners; business clients, including CBS, Netflix, and Twilio, establish plans that give workers access to coaches, therapists, guided self-care, more; the MIT Media Lab spinout is live in 26 countries; raised $63M to date . link

The download for 2019-09-04 →


Spendesk, a French fintech company, has raised $30M to $40M led by Index Ventures, according to sources for Business Insider; Spendesk offers expense management software to enterprise customers; previously raised $22M . link

The driver of a Tesla Model S that crashed in CA last year had their hands off the wheel, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); the vehicle was in Autopilot mode when it struck a stationary fire truck on Interstate-405; the driver allegedly ignored multiple alerts to put their hands back on the steering wheel; NTSB is today expected to issue a report denoting a probable cause for the incident . link

Google and Huawei discussed a partnership to launch Google Photos in China, according to a source for The Information; the talks occurred a few years ago, though it’s unclear how far they went; Google says it never planned to work with Huawei for such a service; the report also says Huawei was unprepared to lose Google as a partner when the Trump Administration introduced trade restrictions earlier this year . link

Chinese regulators have ordered deep-fake app Zao to stop collecting certain user data, according to state-backed news outlet People’s Daily Online; the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has told app-maker Momo (which owns Zao) to conduct a review of its data collection policies; Zao must also revise its user terms; follows concerns over the company’s policies which initially claimed a right users’ image . link

A UK court rules police can use facial recognition tech to identify individuals in public spaces; follows a challenge by former politician Ed Bridges who claimed such cameras violate data protection and equality laws; the high court in Cardiff has agreed the tech can be perceived to interfere with an individual’s right to privacy, but notes police use is proportionate . link

Apple is set to launch a lower-cost iPhone next spring, according to sources for Nikkei Asian Review; full details unclear but the device is expected to have a similar form-factor to iPhone 8; the report says it will be pitched as a successor to the iPhone SE, which started at $400 . link

Samsung announces Exynos 980 chipset with support for 5G; the hexa-core chip is based on an 8nm FinFET process; promises speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps on 5G, 1 Gbps on 4G LTE; also set to offer improved on-device AI capabilities; Android Authority suggests the Exynos 980 will be aimed at mid-range devices; expected to appear in products from next year . link

UK-based crypto wallet firm Blockchain is raising a £41M ($50M) VC fund, according to sources for Yahoo Finance; Blockchain is in talks with several potential backers, and plans to invest in crypto startups and digital currencies; the effort is being led by Sam Harrison who joined the company last year from Naspers . link

Samsung’s delayed Galaxy Fold will launch on Sept 6 in South Korea, according to a Reuters source; the $2k device was initially set to launch in April but was postponed following reports of screen issues by reviewers . link

Alibaba is set to acquire China-based cross-border payments service Kaola from current owner NetEase for $2B, according to Chinese-language website 36kr; Kaola will be overseen by Alibaba’s Tmall subsidiary, but it will continue to operate as a standalone business; follows reports the deal was in jeopardy after a disagreement over the price . link

DJI increases its US prices in response to trade tariffs on Chinese imports; the company has raised prices by ~13 percent across its Mavic 2 line, which is still below the 15 percent levy set by the Trump Administration . link

Indonesian lawmakers introduce a bill to make overseas tech firms such as Google and Amazon pay more in taxes; the planned law would designate such companies as “permanent establishments,” making them liable for value added tax (VAT) even if they don't maintain an office within the country; the bill is subject to parliamentary approval; Indonesia currently imposes VAT of 10 percent on a range of goods and services . link

Delivery firm UPS rolls out a fleet of hybrid electric trucks in the UK; built by EV firm Tevva, the trucks have a gas/electric capacity of 250 miles; they also include GPS-based tech to automatically transition to battery-only mode when entering cities and designated clean-air zones . link

Amazon India says it is aiming to replace all single-use plastic in its packaging by June 2020; the firm plans to use paper cushions in place of plastics; rival Flipkart provost announced it has cut such packaging by 25 percent and plans to reduce it to zero by March 2021 . link

eBay plans to sell off its ticket marketplace StubHub for as much as $3B, according to Bloomberg sources; the company has drawn interest from several potential buyers including Silver Lake and rival Vivid Seats; eBay announced in March this year that it was reviewing its ownership of StubHub, alongside the future of its Classifieds unit . link

Elliptic, a UK-based crypto risk-management firm, raises $23M Series B led by SBI Group with participation from SignalFire and others; the company provides enterprise tools for scrutinizing crypto trades; has raised $35M to date . link

Firefox starts blocking third-party tracking tools by default in version 69; the Enhanced Tracking Protection feature has been available since last year, but users had to actively turn it on; the system operates a block-list, rather than stopping all website cookies . link

Accion Venture Lab (part of Accion) raises $23M for a seed-stage fintech fund; targets startups focusing on the under-served; Accion Venture Lab already has a portfolio of 36 fintech firms across North America, Latin America, South Asia, and more . link

UK-based fintech firm Railsbank raises £10M ($12.1M) Series A led by Moneta Capital with participation from CreditEase and others; Railsbank operates an open banking and compliance platform for enterprise customers; has raised $16.5M to date . link

Amazon is developing a biometric payment system that uses hand scans for validation, reports the New York Post; codenamed Orville, the system will be linked to default credit cards on users’ Amazon Prime accounts; the company is testing the tech via vending machines at its offices; unknown if or when it will launch fully . link

Supermicro remote management flaw leaves 47k unpatched and internet-exposed servers vulnerable to attack, according to Eclypsium security researchers; attackers could exfiltrate data, replace servers' operating systems, or render servers inoperable; the flaw allows remote hackers to connect to vulnerable systems using virtual USB drives . link

This Week in Startups episode 970: Jason speaks with Revel Co-Founder and CEO Lisa Marrone about building communities for women over 50, how curated events address loneliness, insights on inspiration and vitality, more; this episode also includes an Office Hours segment . link

Austin-based customer-powered marketing company Bazaarvoice acquires New York City-based product research and reviews platform Influenster; terms undisclosed; Bazaarvoice serves 6k brand and retailer websites, powering user-generated content and reviews; Marlin Equity Partners acquired Bazaarvoice in 2017, taking the then-public company private; Influenster previously raised $8M . link

Facebook stops scanning images for facial recognition purposes by default; the company has also opened its Face Recognition settings panel to all users; users' connections can still tag them manually, but will not see automated tag prompts; users who wish to enable face recognition must provide explicit permission . link

Personal styling platform Stitch Fix ($1.8B market cap) acquires New York City-based digital wardrobe company Finery; terms undisclosed; Finery tracks purchases so users can browse and organize their wardrobes in an app; also offers personalized fashion recommendations; previously raised $5M . link

Ottawa-based Rockport Networks, which provides a switchless networking architecture for datacenter clusters, secured ~$9M from the Canadian government's FedDev Ontario program; the company promises faster and more energy-efficient data storage and access . link

Webcomic XKCD disables its forums and prompts users to change passwords following data theft; hackers breached the 14-year-old forums and obtained usernames, hashed passwords, email addresses, and more data belonging to ~560k members . link

Faraday Future Founder Jia Yueting steps down as CEO, will continue with the company as chief product and user officer; Carsten Breitfeld, who previously served in VP roles at BMW and as CEO of ICONIQ Motors, will take over as CEO; Faraday is also seeking a global chairman . link

Melbourne-based employee survey platform Culture Amp raises $82M Series E led by Sequoia Capital China; enables client companies to collect anonymized data from employees regarding sentiment; also provides tools for performance reviews, more; Culture Amp aggregates data from multiple clients to identify effective initiatives; raised $158M to date . link

More than half of the nation's state attorneys general are preparing to investigate Google for antitrust issues, The Washington Post reports; the Department of Justice reportedly has met with some of the AG's to discuss the issue, but it's unclear if the department will take part in the probe; the Justice Department announced last month it would review large tech firms for antitrust issues . link

IL joins multi-state suit to block T-Mobile's $26B merger with Sprint; 16 states and DC argue the deal would hamper competition and result in higher prices for consumers; NY Attorney General Letitia James said the suit now represents more than half the US population; trial slated to begin Dec 9 . link

Berlin-based consumer rights platform LexFox raises undisclosed seven-figure Series A led by Target Global and Earlybird; the umbrella brand is developing products for rental, employment, and other contracts; the flagship product enforces tenant rights, ensuring rent control compliance, facilitating contract terminations, more . link

Paris-based Heuritech, which uses computer vision and machine learning to identify fashion trends online, raises ~$4.4M from Elaia, Serena, others; the company scans images and videos for brands, styles, and more to inform trend forecasting; clients, including Louis Vuitton and Dior, use the data for product development; retailers use the data for stocking and marketing insights . link

London-based Cazoo, an online used car shop that delivers, raises ~$30M from Octopus Ventures, Stride.VC, others; the raise brings Cazoo's pre-launch funding to ~$66M; Founder Alex Chesterman previously sold movie rental service LoveFilm to Amazon; he also founded property listings and realty market data site Zoopla . link

OpenGov, a data analytics and visualization SaaS for governments and civic organizations, raises $51M Series D led by Weatherford Capital and 8VC with participation from A16Z; provides tools for budgeting, performance, more; claims 2k-plus governments as customers; raised $140M to date . link

Tel Aviv-based user-acquisition platform Zoomd lists on the TSX Venture Exchange via reverse takeover with Data Miners Capital; debuted ~$0.75 per share, raising ~$7M; serves online publishers and advertisers with customized site search results and ad engagement tools . link

Atlanta-based Kabbage, a lender targeting small businesses, acquires B2B enterprise data and intelligence company Radius; terms undisclosed; Kabbage, which previously used Radius data as a customer, plans to integrate Radius tech and IP into its platform; Kabbage has raised $2.5B in debt and equity, according to Crunchbase; Radius previously raised $108M . link

Cloudflare sets initial IPO price range at $10 to $12 per share; the top of the range would value the CDN, DNS, VPN, and registry provider at $3.5B; investors last valued the company at $3.25B; including shares reserved for underwriters, Cloudflare could raise $483M at $12 per share; has raised $332M to date . link