The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2019-11-26, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2019-11-26 →

The CA DMV is generating ~$50M per year by selling personal data including names, home addresses, and more, reports Motherboard; docs (provided via public records requests) shows the agency sells driver info to numerous companies including data broker LexisNexis and credit reporting firm Experian; Motherboard notes the practice is widespread and happens in states across the country . link

Search Engine Land surveys 1k consumers and finds 77 percent use Google Maps to source info on local businesses; the study also found 38 percent use Facebook, while 35 percent use Yelp; 81 percent of respondents use smartphones for such searches, 9 percent use tablets . link, a Paris-based short-term rentals platform, discloses a $14M seed round which closed in January; the investment was led by Prime Ventures; lets travelers list their apartment or room on the platform and receive payment before they go; properties are managed by local hosts . link

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola says it plans to launch in London in the coming weeks; Business Insider reports the service is expected in Jan 2020; Ola secured an operating license earlier this year; it was initially set to launch in September; comes as Transport for London revokes Uber’s permit . link

Intel is looking to sell off its connected home unit, according to Bloomberg sources; the firm has hired a financial adviser to court potential buyers; the division generates sales of ~$450M annually; Intel reported overall IoT revenue of $1B in its last quarterly earnings . link

Palo Alto Networks acquires cybersecurity firm Aporeto for $150M cash; Aporeto provides security tools for cloud-based apps; raised $34.5M to date; the deal is expected to close during Palo Alto Networks’ FQ2 . link

Germany-based SaaS Pricefx raises €23M (~$25.3M) Series B (second tranche) led by Digital+ Partners and Bain & Company with participation from Talis Capital; the company offers cloud-based pricing tools to enterprise customers; has raised ~$65M to date . link

Bloomberg profiles SoftBank’s investment strategy; notes the company tends to invest at one valuation, then follow up with a higher amount, thereby increasing the value of its initial stake; Patriarch Organization CEO Eric Schiffer suggests SoftBank uses the increased assessments to raise more money from investors; SoftBank says it uses strict internal processes to set valuations . link

Google previews Ambient Mode for Android devices; the previously announced feature uses Google Assistant to populate the screen with weather, photos, events, and reminders when the device is on charge; also includes options for adjusting smart lights, alarms, and more; unknown when it will launch or which devices it will work with . link

Some of SoftBank’s investors have privately criticized the company for how it has handled its portfolio, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Capital Group, Tiger Global, and others have complained that the firm’s ~$100B Vision Fund is losing money; they also oppose SoftBank lending billions of dollars to founder Masayoshi Son and other execs so they can then put it into a second Vision Fund . link

Cat Rock Capital encourages fellow Just Eat shareholders to back a merger with; the boards of both companies have approved the deal, but Just Eat has since become the target of a ~$6.3B hostile takeover by Prosus; Cat Rock says the Prosus offer undervalues the food delivery firm; the Just Eat-Takeaway agreement is estimated to be worth $10B . link

Logistics firm DHL says it plans to roll out EV delivery vehicles in the US in Sept 2020; its StreetScooter Work L delivery van will initially go into operation in two markets (exact locations undisclosed), with full deployment starting in 2022; DHL currently has 10k Work L vans operating in parts of the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany . link

WeWork is in talks to sell off its Chinese operations to local competitor Kr Space, according to a source for Tech in Asia; terms unknown, but WeWork is considering selling all 100 of its active co-working spaces, as well as 48 that are yet to open . link

Hong Kong-based analytics firm Cloudbreakr raises ~$1.3M seed led by Hong Kong X Technology Fund with participation from Beyond Ventures and others; the company offers AI-powered media monitoring tools to identify trends; Cloudbreakr says it plans to build services for better analyzing social media . link

Nigeria-based edtech firm uLesson raises $3.1M seed led by TLcom Capital; the company has developed an app-based education kit designed to be used at home; lessons are provided via the internet and an SD card; uLesson was founded by Sim Shagaya, who previously established e-commerce company Konga and ad service E-Motion . link

Alibaba’s Hong Kong shares close 6.6 percent up on the first day of trading; ~$1.8B worth of shares were traded; Alibaba’s IPO saw it raise at least $11.3B, though it’s expected to be as much as $12.9B if the firm opts to exercise a greenshoe option . link

India-based bike-sharing service Yulu raises $8M Series A from automaker Bajaj; as part of the deal, Bajaj will work with Yulu on the design and manufacturing of their e-bikes; Yulu has raised $18.5M to date . link

A collection of more than 1k musicians have elected to pull their music from Amazon in protest over the company’s work with US Immigration And Customs Enforcement and other agencies; collecting under the banner No Music For ICE, they are also calling on Amazon-owned Ring to end its contracts with local law enforcement . link

Argentina-based fintech firm Ualá raises $150M Series C led by Tencent and SoftBank’s Innovation Fund; the company offers mobile banking tools via a mobile app; has raised $194M to date . link

Taipei-based marketing tools firm Appier raises $80M Series D from TGVest Capital, HOPU-Arm Innovation Fund, Pavilion Capital, and others; the company offers AI-powered software for optimizing ads; has raised $162M to date . link

Netflix leases New York City's recently shuttered Paris Theater and will use the location for original screenings and special events; the theater shut down in August and Netflix reopened it for a run of link

TX drops its suit to block T-Mobile's merger with Sprint as part of a settlement with the combined entity; New T-Mobile promised to serve 5G to all of the state's most populous areas and most of the state's rural areas over the next three years; New T-Mobile also promised similar employment to workers in the state following deal closure .NV drops its suit in exchange for the promise of early 5G deployment in the state, 450 new jobs over six years, and a $30M donation to help women and minorities . link

Google fires four over data-security violations; Rebecca Rivers, one of two employees recently placed on administrative leave, announced her termination on Monday; ~200 Google employees protested the company's investigation of Rivers and Laurence Berland, claiming Google was trying to silence activism; Google said it found evidence of accessing and sharing other employees' personal information . link

Swiss ticket reseller Viagogo to acquire ticket marketplace StubHub from eBay for $4.05B in cash; Viagogo CEO Eric Baker co-founded StubHub in 2000 and sold it to eBay in 2007 for $310M; two activist investors began urging eBay in January to exit non-core businesses; StubHub represented ~14 percent of eBay's revenue in the third quarter of this year . link

Leaked documents classified by the Chinese government reveal how police use an AI-powered data analysis system to select Xinjiang residents for detention, more; the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the China Cables, which also include instructions for operating detention camps, covering indoctrination, preventing escapes, more . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Alex Mather, co-founder and CEO of premium sports journalism company The Athletic; the conversation covers attracting investors to a seemingly dying industry, managing 500-plus remote writers, more .Click here to listen to the full episode link

TX drops its suit to block T-Mobile's merger with Sprint as part of a settlement with the combined entity; New T-Mobile promised to serve 5G to all of the state's most populous areas and most of the state's rural areas over the next three years; New T-Mobile also promised similar employment to workers in the state following deal closure .NV drops its suit in exchange for the promise of early 5G deployment in the state, 450 new jobs over six years, and a $30M donation to help women and minorities . link

Amazon announces Alexa Voice Service Integration for AWS IoT Core; enables manufacturers to create Alexa built-in devices with modest resources: a Cortex-M processor and 1MB of RAM; previously required a Cortex-A processor and 100MB of RAM; the service offloads media retrieval, decoding, and more to the cloud . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Wealthfront Co-Founder and CEO Andy Rachleff about insights on product-building in the 80s vs now, the best investor attributes, hitting escape velocity at Wealthfront, pioneering link

Amazon announces AWS customers will have the ability to train models for computer vision system Rekognition with as few as ten images; traditionally, object identification models require extensive collections of images; beginning Dec 3, AWS will use transfer learning to simplify the process, enabling customers to create custom labels and detection systems . link

WeChat is shutting down the accounts of Chinese American users voicing support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, which saw its candidates win a landslide victory yesterday; WeChat is a popular China-based platform for news, payments, and social interaction; as The Verge notes, the Communist Party of China is using WeChat to censor people in the US . link

Storage and rental marketplace Omni shuts down; on-demand storage company Clutter acquired Omni's storage business in May; Omni reportedly then began developing a white-label rental platform for merchants; ~10 engineers are joining Coinbase; previously raised $35M . link

Weekend Fund launches $10M second fund targeting startups addressing link

Amazon's JFK8 Staten Island fulfillment center sees an unusually high number of injuries, according to leaked OSHA documents; the facility's injury and illness rate is three times the US warehouse average; using OSHA's incident calculator, the location scored 15.19 in 2018; compares to a 6.1 average for sawmills and a 10.23 average for steel foundries . link

Facebook launches Viewpoints, a market research app that rewards users to take surveys, perform tasks, more; Facebook will use collected data to inform the development of its social networks, Oculus products, etc; users earn points that convert to money payments at certain thresholds; Facebook pays out via PayPal; initially limited to the US . link

Contractors for voice-to-text transcription services company Rev say they regularly see and hear disturbing content without warning, including audio descriptions of abuse and video of violent crime victims; Rev recently made news for allocating more revenue to workers claiming more challenging tasks; some workers say the pay for easier jobs isn't worth the stress . link

The download for 2020-06-05 →

GM-controlled Cruise is trying to attract engineers away from rival driverless tech firm Zoox, reports Reuters; Cruise founder Kyle Vogt has sent an email to some Zoox personnel, encouraging them to move over; follows a report Amazon is in talks to acquire Zoox . link

The German government says it will mandate all gas stations add EV charging points; as part of a €130B (~$146B) economic recovery plan; the scheme includes higher taxes for gas-powered SUVs and plans for a €6k (~$6.7k) maximum subsidy for those purchasing EVs . link

SaaS firm Ethena raises $2M seed led by GSV with participation from Homebrew, Village Global, and others; the startup offers workplace harassment training services to enterprise customers . link

Broadcom indicates Apple’s upcoming iPhone lineup may be delayed, reports Bloomberg; Broadcom, which supplies chips to Apple, has warned analysts of a “major product cycle delay” for an undisclosed phonemaker; follows reports Apple will launch its 2020 iPhones beyond its usual mid- to- late September timeframe . link

Instagram confirms its embedding tool does not include a license to share users’ posts to external websites; the company says third-parties should obtain permission from the relevant image copyright holder when sharing posts via its embed API; follows a legal dispute between Newsweek and photographer Elliot McGucken after the publication reshared on of his Instagram photos . link

China-based TikTok-owner ByteDance shuts down its news aggregation service TopBuzz; ByteDance launched TopBuzz in 2015, positioning it as a global version of its popular Chinese-language app Jinri Toutiao . link

GM-controlled Cruise is trying to attract engineers away from rival driverless tech firm Zoox, reports Reuters; Cruise founder Kyle Vogt has sent an email to some Zoox personnel, encouraging them to move over; follows a report Amazon is in talks to acquire Zoox . link

An Australian court fines Sony ~$2.4M for not refunding some customers for faulty PlayStation games; the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued the company, claiming it violated local consumer laws; Sony has admitted liability . link

Dropbox is testing a passwords manager app; known as Dropbox Passwords, it’s currently available via an invite-only beta for iOS and Android; similar to Dashlane and LastPass, the app promises to securely store user passwords; unknown if or when it will launch fully . link

Google reorganizes some of its exec roles and responsibilities; Prabhakar Raghavan now leads several units including Search and Assistant; Ben Gomes goes from heading Search to Education; Jen Fitzpatrick transitions from Maps and Local to heading up Core and Corporate Engineering; Jerry Dischler has been named head of Ads . link

Facebook let Congressional candidate Paul Broun (R) run a video ad in which he suggests looters should be shot; in the video Broun fires an AR-15 rifle, which he refers to as a “liberty machine”; the ad has since been removed, but it was shown at least 50k times in GA . link

Robotics firm OTTO Motors raises $29M Series C led by Kensington Private Equity Fund with participation from Bank of Montreal Capital Partners and others; OTTO offers autonomous robots for use within factories; has raised $70M to date . link

Fitbit unveils Flow, a $5k ventilator for which the FDA provided Emergency Use Authorization for use during the pandemic; Fitbit expects to begin production this month; the company says the device is intended as a fallback for when more expensive systems are unavailable . link

Amazon and Slack announce a new partnership under which Slack will integrate AWS' Chime video-calling tech, and Amazon will license Slack for all of tis employees; Slack has relied upon AWS infrastructure since its 2014 launch; the new deal is separate from Slack's cloud contract with Amazon; Slack will replace its video- and audio-calling tech, which it gained through the 2015 acquisition of Screenhero, with Chime . link

Business contact information provider Zoominfo closes up 62 percent in Nasdaq debut; the company priced shares at $21 each on Wednesday night, after increasing its range to $19-$20; Zoominfo raised ~$900M with the offering; the company's tech integrates with products from Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, more, simplifying outreach for sales and marketing professionals . link

Germany announces it will require all gas stations in the country to offer electric vehicle charging stations; the initiative is part of a broader $146B stimulus plan that includes tax penalties for owners of polluting SUVs and subsidies for EV purchases; the stimulus provides ~$2.8B for battery cell production and charging infrastructure . link

Personal aviation company Kitty Hawk cancels its Flyer VTOL project, reportedly will lay off most of that 70-member team; the company is focusing its efforts on the autonomous air vehicle Heaviside, and will transition some employees from Flyer to Heaviside; the company will provide laid-off workers with health coverage through the end of the year, annual bonuses, and job placement assistance . link

VMWare ($62B market cap) acquires network security company Lastline; terms undisclosed; a TechCrunch source indicated VMWare planned to cut 40 percent of Lastline's workforce: ~50 people; the companies expect the deal to close by the end of July, pending regulatory approval; Lastline previously raised $52M . link

This Week in Startups: The Power of Accelerators E7Jason speaks with Alchemist Accelerator Managing Director Ravi Belani about why the best entrepreneurs love the process, sourcing and investing in at DFJ, risk-taking, more . link

London-based fintech company Revolut is pushing workers to quit or be terminated, according to current and former employees speaking with Wired; Revolut said it had cut some employees due to poor performance, but the sources said the threat of termination was used to force people to quit after the company announced cost-cutting measures; some said Revolute hired them to work in foreign countries and then left them stranded . link

Medium launches Newsletters, an expansion of the company's Letters product; a publication can create a newsletter with a name and description and share a sign-up link; reader replies to newsletter emails go to publisher inboxes, initiating one-on-one conversations; each newsletter email is replicated on the publisher's Medium page . link

Apple plans a bundle subscription that includes Music and TV+, according to code in iOS 13.5.5; Financial Times reported in March that Apple had signed record label deals for Apple Music that did not include language regarding a bundle option; 9to5Mac notes the code was not in previous versions of iOS, but the recent inclusion might not indicate a pending launch . link

Facebook to prohibit state-controlled media companies from running ads in the US, starting this summer; the company said hadn't seen foreign governments use Facebook ads to promote manipulative content in the US, but took the step in an abundance of caution ahead of the presidential election; the company is now rolling out a set of labels to inform users when posts and ads come from state-controlled outlets . link

Tim Cook publishes an open letter on racism in the US, noting that the outrage sparked by George Floyd's death is rooted in a long history of racism that persists today; Cook emphasized Apple's commitment to delivering technology and resources to underserved school systems, pushing for inclusion and diversity, and donating to fight racial injustice and mass incarceration . link

The download for 2020-06-04 →

Healthtech firm Nanox raises $20M Series B (extension) from SK Telecom; the company had developed a digital imaging system that serves as an alternative to traditional X-rays; has raised $80M to date . link

Messaging service Signal announces a blurring feature for its iOS and Android apps; users who share photos via the app will be able to quickly blur the identities of those featured; they can also blur out other details by manually selecting an area of the image . link

Google has started highlighting results within relevant pages for some Search items; clicking on Search results that show a snippet will take users through to the page where they’ll see the info highlighted . link

Email security firm Inky raises $20M Series B led by Insight Partners; the company offers cloud-based anti-phishing tools for services such as G-Suite, Office 365, and Exchange; has raised $31.6M to date . link

Twitch removes an emote known as TwitchCop from its platform to prevent misuse; the illustration showed a cop blowing a whistle; Twitch has not clarified the reasons for pulling the graphic, but The Verge suggests it could be linked to ongoing US protests relating to police brutality . link

Amazon is considering a $2B stake in India-based telco Bharti Airtel, according to Reuters sources; Amazon is in talks to acquire 5 percent of the company, though it was initially interested in as much as 8 to 10 percent; the report notes discussions are at an early stage . link

GM-controlled driverless tech firm Cruise has acquired Germany-based radar company Astyx, reports The Information; terms unknown; Astyx was spun out of Daimler’s aerospace unit in 1997; the company produces sensors that can recognize moving and stationary objects . link

Germany-based automation platform Bryter raises $16M Series A led by Accel and Dawn Capital with participation from Notion Capital and Chalfen Ventures; the startup offers no-code IFTTT-like tools for enterprise customers; has raised ~$25M to date . link

Hybrid data firm NetApp acquires Israel-based optimization service Spot; terms undisclosed, but the deal is reportedly worth $450M; Spot (formerly Spotinst) offers tools for managing AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure deployments; Spot raised more than $52M to date . link

Amazon leases 12 converted Boeing 767-300 jets for its Amazon Air cargo unit; one plane has been delivered, with the rest being added through next year; including the new aircraft, Amazon Air has 82 jets; DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Development predicts that figure will grow to 200 over the next seven to eight years . link

Andreessen Horowitz launches Talent x Opportunity (TxO), a $2.2M fund aimed at seed-stage startups; A16z says the fund is focused on founders from underserved communities who have products that are showing some promise; the company notes TxO is designed to expand in size over time . link

Research firm IDC predicts global smartphone shipments will shrink 11.9 percent this year; if correct, it would represent the largest-ever annual contraction; IDC anticipates 1.2B shipments for 2020, down from 1.4B last year . link

ZoomInfo, a B2B contact provider, aims to raise as much as $1B via its upcoming IPO, according to CNBC sources; ZoomInfo set a target range of $19 to $20 per share earlier this week, but is now considering $21 apiece; it will list under the symbol ZI . link

South Korean prosecutors file an arrest warrant for Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee and two former company execs; follows an investigation into a controversial merger and suspected accounting fraud; Lee met with authorities last month to answer questions; he was previously jailed following a bribery scandal . link

Document automation startup Anvil raises $5M seed led by Gradient Ventures; the company offers dynamic forms tools to enterprise customers, allowing them to easily create pre-filled PDFs . link

Blockchain-based ID platform Magic emerges from stealth, raises $4M; the startup offers an SDK that offers decentralized authentication for third-party services . link

San Vicente Acquisition, which gained approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to acquire gay dating app Grindr for $620M, has personal and financial ties to the app's current owner, Beijing Kunlun, Reuters reports; sources also said Kunlun provided financial support to San Vicente that it didn't provide to other bidders; last year the CFIUS ordered Kunlun to divest itself of Grindr over data-privacy concerns . link

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says ride requests are increasing as lockdown restrictions are relaxed or lifted around the world, though bookings are down 70 percent year-over-year; Lyft reported similar figures; Khosrowshahi indicated week-over-week growth in trip bookings; he said the lockdown-related surge in orders that Uber Eats saw in the first quarter showed no signs of slowing in May . link

Lyft says it has seen trip demand increase week-over-week since the week ending April 12, though it remains down year-over-year; bookings were down 70 percent year-over-year in May; Lyft announced in April it would reduce its workforce by 17 percent, furlough some employees, and reduce pay; the company expects a loss of no more than $325M (EBITDA) for the second quarter . link

Changes in US app download behaviors reveal which products people are using to follow news, organize protests, and remain safe, Recode reports; Apptopia data indicates police radio scanner apps, police-alerts app Citizen, and secure messaging app Signal have seen a significant increase in downloads and app store rankings since George Floyd's death; Twitter outpaced Facebook and Instagram in downloads this week . link

The Wall Street Journal examines how pandemic-related lockdowns have increased demand and competition in the video-conferencing space, and why Microsoft's aggressive push to acquire Teams customers has reminded rivals of the company's business tactics in previous eras; Microsoft has copied competitors' features, provided special support for prominent users, more . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Initialized Capital Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian about Reddit's crypto origins, turning VC into a team sport, improving as an investor, fatherhood, more . link

Ellen Pao accuses Reddit of nurturing and monetizing supremacy and hate; the Project Include CEO, who previously served as Reddit's interim CEO, made the comment in response to a statement from Reddit's current CEO, Steve Huffman, denouncing racism and violence; Pao said Reddit should have shut down the subreddit the_donald, which the company quarantined to make it less visible . link

Microsoft rolls out the Chromium version of Edge browser to all Windows 10 users; the company is pushing the Windows Update automatically; previously, users had to download and install the Chromium browser manually; going forward, Microsoft will not bundle Edge with Windows, but push it via Windows Update; will provide enterprises the ability to block it . link

Compilation videos featuring violent police behavior at protests around the country are going viral on social platforms, with one Twitter video garnering ~50M views over the past several days . link

Snap announces it will no longer promote President Trump's Snapchat account, noting its potential to incite violence; Snapchat previously featured the account on its Discover page; Snap made the decision after Trump tweeted about the possibility of using vicious dogs and link

The download for 2020-06-03 →

Brazil-based mobility firm Tembici raises $47M Series B led by Valor Capital and Redpoint Ventures with participation from the International Finance Corporation and others; Tembici operates bike-sharing services across Latin America . link

French VC firm C4 Ventures raises €80M (~$88M) for its second fund; described as a post-Series A vehicle, it has already invested in homeware marketplace Trouva, electric bike-sharing service Zoov, and more . link

Warehouse robots firm Locus Robotics raises $40M Series D led by Zebra Ventures with participation from Scale Venture Partners and others; the firm’s LocusBots are designed to operate alongside humans; has raised $105M to date . link

Germany-based healthtech startup Vara (formerly Merantix Healthcare) raises $7M Series A led by Omers Ventures with participation from Think.Health and others; the company is developing an AI-powered system for detecting breast cancer; has raised $10.5M to date . link

Google is facing a lawsuit that alleges the company’s Chrome browser tracks users when they’re in Incognito mode; the plaintiffs are seeking $5B in damages, and are asking for class-action status; Google denies the claims; the case has been filed with the Northern CA District Court . link

Facebook signs a global licensing deal with Indian music label Saregama; terms undisclosed; the agreement allows Facebook to use Saragama’s tracks in videos and more across its platforms . link

Canada-based SaaS firm Poka raises an undisclosed sum from Schneider Electric; the company provides workforce training tools to enterprise customers; has raised more than $23M to date . link

The BBC launches the first beta of its Beeb voice assistant; available to UK-based testers via the Windows Insider Program, Beeb is being designed to understand a broad array of accents; it will eventually be integrated into the BBC’s various digital offerings including its streaming platform iPlayer . link

Google pulls a mobile app that lets users remove China-built apps from their Android devices; known as Remove China Apps, the app was available via the Google Play store in India; it had accrued more than 5M downloads; its popularity climbed amid border tensions between India and China . link

Indonesia-based ride-hailing and payments firm Gojek raises undisclosed sums from Facebook and PayPal; the investments are part of Gojek’s ongoing Series F; has raised more than $3B to date . link

Zoom confirms its upcoming end-to-end encryption feature will be available to premium customers only; CEO Eric Yuan says it wants to keep full encryption away from free users so law enforcement has access in situations of misuse . link

Zoom ($58.7B market cap) Q1 beats: $328.2M revenue, up 169 percent year-on-year ($202.7M expected); $0.20 EPS ($0.09 expected); reports 265.4M customers that have more than 10 staff, up 354 percent year-on-year; Zoom does not disclose full user numbers . link

Bird shuts down its Circ scooter-sharing operations in the Middle East; Bird acquired the firm in January; TechCrunch sources say 100 Circ workers have been let go; as many as 10k scooters will also be scrapped . link

EV startup Rivian lays off ~40 staff, ~2 percent of its workforce, reports The Verge; the company has also hired Rod Copes, who replaces Jim Morgan as COO; Copes previously spent 19 years at Harley-Davidson; the company has also brought in Matt Horton to oversee its charging division . link

Twitter names Inovia Capital GP and former Google CFO Patrick Pichette as chairman; Pichette served as lead independent director for Twitter's board starting at the end of 2018; investor Elliott Management previously sought to push Jack Dorsey out of the CEO position but came to an agreement with the company in March that allowed Dorsey to stay - with the addition of three new directors . link

Used car marketplace Vroom sets IPO price range at $15 to $17 per share, seeking a valuation of $1.69B to $1.91B; the company expects to sell 18.75M shares, generating up to ~$319M; private investors last valued the company at ~$1.5B for a $254M Series H in December; raised ~$720M to date . link

Samsung launches its rotating 4K QLED TV, Sero, in the US and UK for $2k; previously launched in South Korea; a user with a compatible smartphone can tap that device to the TV to pair for screen mirroring; the display rotates to accommodate the orientation of the content: landscape or portrait . link

AT&T (which owns HBO parent WarnerMedia) will not count data used for HBO Max toward data caps, but will count data for competing services like Netflix; AT&T counts HBO Max's data use as sponsored, and any company can pay AT&T to ignore data caps for their services; The Verge previously reported the only services using AT&T's sponsored data program were AT&T-owned . link

Global PC shipments to fall seven percent year-over-year in 2020, according to Canalys data; the report noted that the industry is largely passed the worst of the pandemic as Chinese suppliers resume operations; however, Canalys expects the recession will continue to impact demand . link

Civil, a blockchain-powered journalism network, is shutting down; Founder and CEO Matthew Iles and his seven-member tech team will fold into blockchain studio ConsenSys, Civil's primary investor; ConsenSys, after several rounds of layoffs, cut funding to Civil, and Civil was unable to raise a substitute round . link

Purported leaked marketing material appears to show Google's rumored Android TV-powered streaming dongle, reportedly codenamed Sabrina, a remote, and the UI; previous reports indicated Google would launch the device under the Nest brand, and that it would come with a remote control and a new UI designed to highlight movies and shows . link

Shanghai-based chip manufacturer Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), which is publicly listed in Hong Kong, plans to raise ~$2.8B with a Shanghai listing; in its prospectus, SMIC mentioned US restrictions on Chinese chip makers as a risk; the company announced last month it had raised $2.2B from state investors for one of its plants . link

Apple's iOS 13.5.5 beta includes code for the previously reported News Plus Audio feature: spoken-word versions of long-form news articles; 9to5Mac reports the Audio tab isn't available for use in the beta, but the site was able to access it; Apple reportedly has sought publishers' permission to produce and publish audio content under the same revenue-split terms it uses for written articles . link

India's tech minister announces the launch of a $6.7B initiative to foster domestic electronics manufacturing; will initially select five global smartphone makers for incentives to establish or expand Indian production; the government will pay those companies an additional four to six percent of their domestic sales over five years; the program, and others, will also apply to Indian companies . link

The download for 2020-06-02 →

France rolls out its coronavirus contact-tracing app; known as StopCovid, the app notifies a user if have spent 15 mins or more in the within a meter of someone with COVID-19 . link

Switzerland-based fintech firm Appway raises $37M from Summit Partners; founded in 2003, the investment represents its first-ever funding round; the company offers a suite of customer engagement tools to financial services institutions . link

Apple Music joins the Black Out Tuesday campaign, aimed at raising awareness of issues affecting black lives; Beats 1 has suspended its regular programming, and is instead focusing on celebrating black music; Apple Music’s For You playlists have been swapped out for a single playlist titled For Us, By Us .Update: Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Music pledge support for Black Out Tuesday; the companies are adding special playlists, moments of silence, and more . link

Amtrak discloses a data breach that may have exposed customers’ personally identifiable info; Amtrak says it discovered on April 16 that hackers had accessed its Guest Rewards service; the firm says some user data was viewable, but it has not disclosed what that was or how many customers were impacted; Amtrak is notifying those affected . link

Cisco postpones its Cisco Live online event amid ongoing protests; Cisco Live was supposed to start today; it’s unclear when it will now happen; follows moves by Sony and Google to delay their own product announcements and rollouts . link

China-based robotics firm Fourier Intelligence acquires healthcare provider Zhuhai RHK; terms undisclosed; Fourier produces smart exoskeletons, designed to help people with physical disabilities resulting from neurological impairment; Fourier plans to introduce its tech at Zhuhai RHK facilities . link

UK-based wellness platform Tictrac raises £6M (~$7.5M) led by Puma Private Equity; TicTrac operates a SaaS service with tips and insight to encourage health-focused activities; has raised ~$17M to date . link

Tai Jeng-wu, CEO of Sharp, steps down from the board of parent company Foxconn; Tai says he wants to focus on Sharp and further developing its global market; Tai took up his post at Sharp when Foxconn took control of the firm in 2016 . link

Personal styling platform Stitch Fix will cut 1.4k jobs in CA, equal to ~18 percent of its staff; the San Francisco-based will terminate stylist roles in September; those affected will have the option to relocate to other parts of the US, where the company says it plans to hire 2k stylists at a lower cost . link

Volkswagen closes a $2.6B investment in Pittsburgh-based self-driving startup Argo AI; follows a $1B investment from Ford in 2017; under the terms of the deal, VW and Ford will share development costs for Argo’s autonomous driving tech, though the two carmakers will not collaborate directly .Update: VentureBeat says the deal values Argo at $7.2B; $1B of VW’s investment is capital, while $1.6B comes from merging its Munich-based subsidiary AID with Argo to serve as its European HQ . link

Twitter suspends hundreds of accounts for spreading false claims about comms blackouts in Washington, DC; Twitter says it took action following the spread of a #dcblackout hashtag; the tag was initially tweeted by an account with three followers, but was spread ~500k in roughly nine hours . link

DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft suspend operations in some US cities amid protests against police violence; a full list of affected locations is unclear, but Uber has paused services in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles . link

Twitter adds an advisory notice to a tweet from Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL), noting it glorifies violence; Gaetz questioned wether the US government could “hunt down” anti-fascist activists . link

Australian court rules news outlets that publish content on Facebook are liable for defamatory comments other users leave in response to those posts; New South Wales' highest court found that media companies encourage and facilitate comments, and should be considered the publishers of those comments; the defendants in the suit are considering an appeal . link

Bipartisan group of legislators led by Sen Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to unveil the Exposure Notification Privacy Act, which would regulate contact-tracing and exposure-notification apps to ensure users' privacy; would protect people from unwanted tracking and prohibit the commercial use of collected data . link

Amazon takes unspecified action against someone who associated images containing racist content with listings for Apple AirPods and other wireless headphones; shoppers at Amazon's UK site saw the images, which included multiple instances of the N-word, on the first page of results for popular search terms; the company has removed the images . link

The Wall Street Journal examines social media's role in making the world aware of George Floyd's death, mobilizing protesters, and shaping the story around the actions of protesters and law enforcement; Alex Stamos, director of Stanford's Internet Observatory, noted that coverage of Floyd's death might have been limited to local media, had it occurred 20 years ago . link

Apple releases updates for iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, HomePod, and Apple TV, addressing security issues; the update inhibits a jailbreaking tool recently released by cracking group Unc0ver . link

Google to update Android with new tools for Bedtime mode, previously known as Wind Down; the feature turns on Do Not Disturb, fades the display to grayscale, more; the Digital Wellbeing update enables the user to create a Quick Settings option for activating Bedtime and set Bedtime to take effect whenever the device is plugged into a charger; now rolling out to Pixel devices, will come to other devices this summer . link

Sony postpones June 4 PlayStation 5 event, citing nationwide protests; Sony had planned to unveil in-development titles for the PS5 over a one-hour presentation; the company has not yet rescheduled; follows similar moves by Google and EA (Madden NFL 21 event) . link

Google rolls out the Pixel 4's Personal Safety app to all Pixel devices; enables first responders to get a user's medical information; provides emergency contact features and the ability to share location information; Pixel 3 and 4 can detect a vehicle accident and notify authorities via the app; new Safety Check tool enables the user to set a check-in time and notify emergency contacts if the user doesn't check in . link

Pax Labs launches web app for its connected marijuana vaporizers six months after Apple banned Pax's mobile software from the App Store as part of a broader initiative to address vape-related lung injuries; the Android version remains available via Google Play; the web app does not support mobile browsers . link

Book publisher group files copyright infringement suit against Internet Archive, alleging the site made digital copies of ~1.3M books without permission and made them available to the general public without compensating publishers and authors; the Internet Archive then expanded its book-lending program and established the National Emergency Library, citing displaced learners during the health crisis . link

Google placed ads on 84 percent of 49 sites promoting coronavirus conspiracy theories or COVID-19 misinformation, according to research group Global Disinformation Index; the group estimated the sites collectively earned $135k per month, with most of the revenue coming from Google-placed ads . link

Google updates its Advanced Protection Program with support for Nest devices; the program limits access to account data, protects against malware, supports physical security keys, more; primarily serves users at high risk for attack, such as politicians; Google said the change was a top user request . link

Samsung launches Access: a subscription upgrade plan available to customers purchasing the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, or S20 Ultra; starts at $37 per month and includes a premium Microsoft 365 subscription, 1TB of OneDrive storage, more; enables a customer to trade in a device every nine months (or sooner, for a $100 fee), rolling any remaining balance to a new device . link

The download for 2020-06-01 →

CO-based employee rewards firm Bonusly raises $9M Series A led by Access Venture Partners with participation from Next Frontier Capital and others; Bonusly lets companies recognize workers with cash awards, gift cards, and more; has raised ~$14M to date . link

Apple plans to reopen its Japanese stores this week; the company has 10 locations across the country, all of which are set to be open by midweek; Apple has been reopening stores across the world including in Australia, Germany, and South Korea . link

Q1 global smartphone shipments fell 20.2 percent when compared with the previous year, according to Gartner data; Samsung dropped 22.7 percent, Huawei 27.3 percent, Oppo 19.1 percent, and Apple 8.2 percent; Xiaomi grew its market share by 1.4 percent . link

Apple has temporarily closed some of its US stores amid protests across the country; some locations will remain shuttered following extensive damage; Apple had recently started to reopen stores following coronavirus lockdowns . link

China-based games company NetEase plans to raise $2B to $3B via a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to Reuters sources; the company is starting the bookbuild process today, with the retail offering set to run through the end of the week; NetEase is already listed on the Nasdaq . link

Trade group Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) plans to lobby for $37B in federal funding on behalf of US chipmakers, reports The Wall Street Journal; SIA has drafted plans that will push for subsidies for new chip facilities and R&D projects; includes calls for $15B to attract chipmakers to various states . link

Malaysia-based insurtech firm PolicyStreet raises $1.8M Series A led by KK Fund with participation from Spiral Ventures; the startup operates an online insurance portal; has raised $3.6M to date . link

The Indian government has ordered ISPs to block file-sharing service WeTransfer; reasons for the move unclear; WeTransfer says it is working to get service restored . link

Forbes profiles eBay’s $4B sale of StubHub to rival Viagogo, which closed weeks before the coronavirus pandemic caused mass lockdowns across the US; Viagogo, founded by StubHub co-founder Eric Baker, has also been forced to operate the two companies separately because of an ongoing UK antitrust probe . link

Indian regulators refuse to let Walmart-controlled Flipkart launch a food retail operation, reports TechCrunch; the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade says Flipkart’s proposal does not meet regulatory guidelines; Flipkart says it plans to re-apply . link

Zynga ($8.7B market cap) acquires Turkey-based games company Peak for $1.8B (cash and stock); represents Zynga’s largest-ever acquisition; the deal is expected to close in Q3; Peak is known for mobile titles “Toon Blast” and “Toy Blast” . link

Singapore-based mobility firm Beam raises $26M Series A led by Sequoia India and Hana Ventures with participation from RTP Global and others; the company operates an electric scooter-sharing service across several markets including Australia and Malaysia; has raised $32.4M to date . link

Facebook commits $10M to organizations focused on racial justice; announcing the pledge on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg says the company needs to do more to ensure it doesn’t amplify bias . link

Tim Cook writes to Apple employees about the issue of racial justice following the death of George Floyd; Cook says the company will donate to multiple groups including the Equal Justice Initiative; Apple will also match staff donations to such organizations through June . link

The Kenyan government plans to introduce a 1.5 percent tax on digital transactions, reports Bloomberg; the levy will apply to streaming platforms, ride-hailing firms, and more; the country’s revenue agency has proposed the levy, but it’s unclear if or when it will be introduced . link

YouTuber Jake Paul denies being involved in looting and vandalism at a mall in AZ; Paul was filmed at the mall in Scottsdale, but says he and his team were only there to document what was happening; several other YouTubers and influencers have criticized Paul, with some suggesting he was trying to exploit the situation . link

UK-based digital freight forwarding startup Beacon raises $15M Series A from Jeff Bezos and others; Beacon offers real-time cargo delivery data, access to global shipping costs, and more; previous investors include Travis Kalanick, Eric Schmidt, and others . link

Mark Zuckerberg has told President Trump some of his posts are putting the company in a difficult position, according to an Axios source; follows the refusal by Facebook to remove a post in which Trump said “...when the looting starts, the shooting starts” .Update: Several senior Facebook employees criticize the company over its inaction in relation to Trump’s posts; product design director Ryan Freitas posted on Twitter, claiming “Mark is wrong,” noting he is still working to change Zuckerberg’s mind; design manager Jason Stirman has also voiced discomfort with Zuckerberg’s stance . link

YouTube pledges $1M to non-profit the Center for Policing Equity; the organization works with police departments to tackle discriminatory practices . link

The download for 2020-05-31 →

NASA and Caltech select eight US companies to manufacture the NASA-designed COVID-19 ventilator for which the FDA provided Emergency Use Authorization; Caltech manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and offered to license the design for free during the pandemic, drawing ~100 applications; JPL is currently evaluating international manufacturers and will provide fee-free licensing for selected companies during the pandemic . link

TechCrunch recaps Huawei's defeats over the past week, including the UK's reversal of stance on allowing the company to participate in UK 5G networks, Britain's reported efforts to establish a coalition of Democratic nations in pursuit of an alternative source of the equipment Huawei provides, and a Canadian court's ruling that the US met the legal standard to request extradition of CFO Meng Wanzhou . link

The New York Times examines Twitter's decision to place an interstitial warning on one of President Trump's tweets (the first such decision regarding a public figure), the internal and public debates that led to it, Twitter's development of the infrastructure and policy that enabled it, and the broader circumstances surrounding the decision . link

Huawei has stockpiled ~two years' supply of US chips to mitigate the impact of Washington's restrictions on the company's business, according to Nikkei Asian Review sources; Huawei reportedly has focused on chips from Intel and Xilinx, which largely power the company's base station and cloud businesses; Huawei reportedly began to accumulate chips shortly after the Canadian arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou, who faces US charges . link

SpaceX livestream shows NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley - the first astronauts launched into space via privately-owned rocket - controlling the Crew Dragon craft via touchscreens; Crew Dragon is mostly autonomous, but SpaceX had the astronauts test the control system's functionality; SpaceX recently launched an online simulator featuring a similar UI . link

TikTok clone Zynn (iOS) rose through App Store ranks by promising to pay users for watching videos; developer Kuaishou operates the second-largest video app in China, and used a similar tactic to gain attention in that market, The Information reported; China's top video app, Douyin, is ByteDance's Chinese-market version of TikTok; Kuaishou recently raised $2B from Tencent . link

Facebook's Oversight Board, a recently launched body that will make final decisions about content on the platform, tweets that it expects to begin operations later this year; the tweet acknowledged significant issues people want the board to address; follows Mark Zuckerberg stating that Facebook would not take action against tweets President Trump cross-posted to Twitter, which Twitter tagged as potentially misleading and glorifying violence . link

Apple pays $100k bug bounty to Indian researcher Bhavuk Jain, who discovered a vulnerability in the link

SpaceX launches NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from Kennedy Space Center aboard the Crew Dragon capsule; the company will deliver the astronauts to the International Space Station following a 19-hour flight; NASA last used the same launch pad in 2011, when Doug Hurley piloted the final space shuttle flight; NASA astronauts have launched via Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft since then . link

This Week in Startups: AMA with Ben NarasinNEA Venture Partner Ben Narasin answers live questions from the This Week in Startups founder community on Slack, covering the most important content in a pitch deck, COVID's impact on dealmaking, founder traits he looks for, more . link

The Tech industry has cut 40k jobs since the start of the pandemic, according to Bloomberg analysis of data; travel and transportation companies have seen the worst cuts, with a combined total of ~14K; the retail, food, and fitness category is second with ~9k cuts; Bloomberg noted the pandemic reversed the trend of private tech companies dramatically outperforming their public counterparts on the Nasdaq 100 Index . link

Brex, which provides credit cards for startups, cuts 62 jobs, citing the need to align priorities with a new reality and to accelerate product; will provide affected workers with eight weeks of severance, their computers and equipment, and job placement assistance; that company has adjusted equity cliffs and extended health care coverage through the end of the year; Brex recently reduced customer credit limits to reduce risk . link

Microsoft lays off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at MSN and Microsoft News as part of a broader push into using AI for content curation; the company said the cuts were not a result of the pandemic; when Microsoft News launched ~two years ago, the company claimed ~800 editors; current reports indicated the cuts affected 50 US jobs and 27 in the UK . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Initialized Capital Co-Founder and Managing Partner Garry Tan about dealing with downstream investors as a seed-stage firm, software companies acting as governments, the possibility of building IPO-level companies while fully distributed, more . link

Waymo plans to return its fleet of autonomous minivans to Bay Area roads to make deliveries for two non-profits starting June 8; the company pulled its fleet from service in early March due to stay-at-home orders; its deliveries qualify as an essential service; will serve #DrawTogether, which provides art kits for children, and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Waymo has also resumed testing in Phoenix . link

Former Lyft driver sues the company, alleging it failed to provide paid sick days to drivers in Washington, DC during the pandemic; the suit seeks unspecified damages and class-action status; the plaintiff based the case on the belief that drivers qualify as employees . link

Video conferencing company Zoom announces plan to offer upgraded encryption for paying customers; Alex Stamos, who works as a security consultant for the company, said the plan remains fluid and the company might offer the feature for free to nonprofits, political dissidents, others; Zoom has seen rapid adoption due to stay-at-home orders but faced criticism for security design issues and insufficient encryption practices . link

Amazon marketplace sellers are labeling products as collectible, apparently to circumvent the platform's automated price-gouging detection, The Verge reports; the article lists numerous products with no collectible value marked as collectible and priced at ~five times their pre-pandemic prices; sellers said the loophole existed before the pandemic, but merchants only used it when Amazon's vaguely understood price ceilings were problematic . link

Google cancels online event, Android 11: The Beta Launch Show, originally scheduled for June 3; the company cited protests across the country, indicating it wasn't a good time for celebration; Google had planned to stream talks originally slated for the physical I/O conference, which the company canceled due to the pandemic; Google still plans to release Android 11 in the third quarter . link

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will not take any action regarding a tweet President Trump cross-posted to Facebook in which he indicated the military could take control of Minneapolis, using the phrase link

The download for 2020-05-30 →

Facebook employees press executives to remove tweets President Trump cross-posted to the platform after VP of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert said the tweets (tagged by Twitter as potentially misleading) did not violate Facebook policy, according to leaked comments from the internal post; Trump then cross-posted a tweet threatening violence in Minneapolis; Facebook employees asked if policy addressed such a tweet . link

Chile's antitrust regulator approves Uber's acquisition of grocery delivery company Cornershop without condition; Uber plans to expand the service, which currently operates in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru; Uber also needs Mexico's antitrust approval for the deal . link

Audi establishes Artemis, a new business unit dedicated to bringing EVs with autonomous and connected tech to market more quickly; Artemis expects to design and build a pioneering model as soon as 2024; CEO of Volkswagen Autonomy Alex Hitzinger is leading the unit; he previously served as head of product design under Apple's Special Projects Group . link

SpaceX loses Starship SN4 prototype in static-fire test explosion; it was SpaceX's fourth static-fire test of the Raptor engine in the craft, an early version of the design the company expects will replace Falcon and Falcon Heavy; this week the FAA approved SpaceX to conduct short suborbital test flights using SN4 . link

Four senators urge the FTC to investigate TikTok over children's privacy issues; the group said the platform failed to remove videos published by kids under the age of 13, which the company agreed to do under a 2019 consent agreement with the commission; the senators also said TikTok failed to provide guardians with direct notice of its data practices before collecting children's data, and did not link to its privacy policy from its home page . link

Volkswagen to increase its stake in an existing EV joint venture with China's JAC Motors; Volkswagen will pay $1.1B to acquire half of JAC's parent, the state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, and increase its stake in the venture from 50 percent to 75 percent; Volkswagen separately invested $1.1B in EV battery producer Gotion High-Tech to become its largest shareholder with 26 percent . link

Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) urges the Departments of Justice and Treasury to launch investigations to determine if Twitter is violating US sanctions against Iran by allowing that nation's leaders to maintain accounts on the platform; FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other conservatives have questioned why Twitter has flagged President Trump's tweets but hasn't done the same for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei . link

Britain has approached Washington about establishing D10, a group of 10 Democratic nations (G7, Australia, India, and South Korea) cooperating on 5G strategy, The Times reports; the group would funnel investments to technology companies within its member states to ready alternative 5G equipment suppliers and reduce reliance on Chinese firms . link

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approves the $620M sale of gay dating app Grindr to San Vicente Acquisition, according to current owner Beijing Kunlun; the CFIUS ordered Kunlun to divest itself of the business last year due to concerns regarding the safety and privacy of user data, including members' HIV statuses . link

The National Security Agency urges users of the Exim mail transfer agent to update to the latest version, which contains a patch for a vulnerability that Russian military threat actor Sandworm Team has exploited since August; the flaw enables an attacker to gain root access to a server after sending a malicious email . link

Reddit and Twitter jointly file an amicus brief supporting a suit by Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute that challenges a State Department rule requiring visa applicants to disclose social media account handles, and rules regarding the retention and dissemination of those records . link

Uber to launch hourly rates in select US cities on June 2; the company previously trialed the Hourly feature in other countries; enables a customer to book a ride with multiple stops for $50 per hour, plus mileage overages, which vary by market; the Hourly feature promises newer, roomier vehicles, like Uber Comfort . link

Comcast spins off TV ad-targeting unit Blockgraph, sells one-third to Charter Communications and one-third to ViacomCBS; financial terms undisclosed; Blockgraph enables advertisers to match purchased ad-targeting data sets (people looking for a new car, for example) with pay-TV account addresses, then purchase ads for those markets . link

Sony has begun manufacturing PlayStation 5, says the console is on track for a global launch this year; the company's hardware engineers have used cameras to remotely develop prototypes and oversee production; Sony plans to unveil first- and third-party titles in development for PS5 on June 4 . link

Location tag company Tile urges the European Commission to investigate Apple's business practices; in a letter to European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, Tile alleged that Apple selectively changed iOS features to inhibit the capabilities of Tile's app ahead of the launch of Apple's own tracking tags . link

Facebook's NPE team launches Venue, a mobile app serving as a second screen for live events; will provide celebrity and expert commentary and enable fans to engage with content and one another; the app will debut with a June 1 NASCAR race . link

Google rescinds offers to temporary and contract workers, according to a notice the company sent to multiple contracting agencies viewed by The New York Times; sources said the move impacted 2k-plus people around the globe who had signed offers but hadn't yet on-boarded; CFO Ruth Porat said last month the company was cutting expenses by scaling back hiring plans; she did not mention contract workers at that time . link

The download for 2020-05-29 →

Uber launches Work Hub in the UK, a service to connect drivers with gig economy roles; available via the driver app, Work Hub lists jobs from third party providers; Uber introduced a similar feature in the US earlier this year . link

SoftBank has doubled the compensation for Rajeev Misra, CEO of its Investment Advisers unit, to $15M; Misra heads the Vision Fund, which lost ~$18B last year; Misra’s remuneration is second only to that of SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure who earned $19.5M . link

Fintech firm Marqeta raises $150M on a $4.3B post-money valuation from an undisclosed investor; the company offers digital payment infrastructure tools to enterprise customers; has raised more than $500M to date . link

China’s foreign ministry claims Canada is an accomplice of the US government in its efforts to take down Huawei; the remarks follow a Canadian court ruling that found the US has met the correct legal standard in its efforts to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou; Canada detained Wanzhou in late 2018; she faces charges of IP theft and sanctions violations in the US . link

CVS partners with Nuro to start testing driverless medical prescription deliveries in parts of Houston; starting next month, customers will be able to choose the autonomous delivery method when ordering from CVS’s website or app; Nuro will initially use Toyota Prius cars with a safety driver, rather than its unmanned R2 vehicles . link

Fintech firm Belvo (YC W20) raises $10M led by Founders Fund and Kaszek; the startup offers an API to connect apps with financial service providers across Latin America; has raised $13M to date . link

ACLU files a lawsuit against facial recognition firm Clearview AI in IL; ACLU accuses the company of capturing and storing data on IL residents without their consent, which contravenes the states privacy laws; Clearview AI previously said it would stop offering its services in IL . link

Didi Chuxing’s driverless unit raises more than $500M led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund; represents the largest ever funding deal within the Chinese self-driving industry; Didi spun out the division in 2019 . link

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo criticizes Facebook, saying the platform “largely determines whether [people are] happy, sad, angry”; Costolo made the comments on Twitter, citing a poll that showed 50 percent of Fox News viewers believe an unproven conspiracy about Bill Gates . link

Twitter rolls out the ability to schedule tweets from its web app; the feature is available via a calendar icon at the bottom of the compose window; users can also save drafts, though they do not sync across Twitter’s mobile apps . link

The New York Times posits President Trump’s executive order could see social media firms take more aggressive action against his posts; the report notes that legal protections provided by Section 230 have allowed tech firms to not take action against posts that can be viewed as misleading, inflammatory, or harassing . link

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz announces he will step down; he will remain in the role until his replacement is found; Abovitz says he will continue to offer “strategy and vision” as a board member . link

Twitter flags a tweet from President Trump in which he references protests in Minneapolis, stating “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”; Twitter says the post violates its rules about glorifying violence, but notes it’s leaving the tweet in place because it could be in the public interest .Update: Trump criticizes Twitter, claiming the platform is not taking action against China or the Democratic party; he says the platform is targeting himself, Republicans, and conservatives; Trump also says Congress should revoke Section 230 . link

Tesla approves the first tranche of Elon Musk’s multi-million-dollar performance-related compensation package; the arrangement allows Musk to purchase ~1.7M Tesla shares at $350 apiece; Tesla's shares are trading publicly at $805 each . link

President Trump's executive order targeting Section 230 protections for online platforms is based on a previously unused order, reports Protocol; the order requires the Department of Commerce to call on the FCC to review Section 230; a former FCC official says it's uncertain if the agency has jurisdiction .Update 1: Trump’s executive order is likely unenforceable, according to several legal experts; Kate Klonick, professor of internet law at St John’s University, says the order is “political theater” .Update 2: Twitter responds to Trump's executive order, saying it is “reactionary and politicized”; in a tweet from Twitter's public policy handle the company says attempts to undermine Section 230 threaten online speech .Update 3: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki responds to Trump’s executive order, saying the company has worked hard to ensure all its link

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook and other social networks should not fact check posts from politicians; speaking with CNBC, Zuckerberg says “people should be able to see what politicians say”; Zuckerberg notes politicians are not allowed to use the platform to stoke violence or harm against others . link

Salesforce ($163B market cap) FQ1 beats: $4.87B revenue, up 30 percent year-over-year ($4.85B expected); guidance for Q2: $4.89B to $4.9B revenue ($5.03B expected); full-year guidance: $20B in revenue, up 17 percent year-over-year ($20.73B expected); the company noted it had provided temporary financial flexibility for customers heavily impacted by the pandemic . link

VMWare ($60B market cap) FQ1 beats: $2.73B revenue, up 12 percent year-over-year ($2.64B expected); $1.23B subscription, SaaS, and license revenue, up 17 percent year-over-year; $418M GAAP operating income . link

Cisco ($1.93B market cap) acquires digital experience monitoring and analytics company ThousandEyes; terms undisclosed but Bloomberg sources indicated a deal worth ~$1B; Cisco said the deal would give its customers an end-to-end view into app and service delivery; ThousandEyes previously raised $111M . link

Update: President Trump signs executive order targeting the perceived bias of social-media companies, acknowledging the order will likely be contested in court; speaking at the signing, Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice would draft legislation to reduce liability protections for social-media companies .Earlier post: A draft executive order viewed by The Wall Street Journal details how President Trump plans to address perceived political bias on social media; would call for state attorneys general to investigate complaints of such bias; would call for a proceeding to determine the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and would call for the removal of its protections for companies under some circumstances . link

Tencent raises $6B via dollar bond sale; represents the largest dollar bond sale by a Chinese company this year; a banker involved in the deal told Financial Times there was significant participation from US investors, despite the Trump administration declaring on Wednesday that it no longer viewed Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China; that announcement could indicate increased trade tension with China . link

Qualcomm announces its first chips supporting Wi-Fi 6E, which promises faster, more reliable connectivity than current-generation Wi-Fi; the chips utilize 6GHz spectrum, which the FCC cleared for unlicensed use last month; routers featuring the new chips are launching now; the company expects phones with the tech will launch in the second half of the year . link

Twitter applies fact-checking labels to hundreds of tweets; the company recently tagged two of President Trump's tweets about mail-in ballots as potentially misleading; Trump then threatened to regulate or shut down social platforms to address perceived anti-Conservative bias (later signed a relevant executive order); Twitter applied the same criteria to China's Foreign Ministry spokesman and others . link

Facebook to verify the identities of people operating accounts displaying patterns of inauthentic behavior and posts going viral in the US: if a user provides ID that doesn't match the name on their account, or if the user refuses to provide ID, Facebook will limit the reach of their posts; the company will also block them from publishing to Pages they administer until they complete the Page Publisher Authorization process . link

This Week in Startups: The Power of Accelerators E6Jason speaks with TechStars Co-Founder and CEO David Brown about leading the virtual accelerator trend, the benefits of going global, the temporary vs sustained changes brought on by COVID-19, more . link

YouTube is rolling out its chapters feature to all users across desktop and mobile; enables an uploader to create timestamps within a given video and display a title for each stamp in the video description; a viewer can click a given chapter name to jump to the start of the chapter in the video . link

Hulu begins testing Launch Party, a social feature, currently limited to a few titles at, that enables users to virtually watch shows and movies together remotely; requires an ad-free subscription; a user can initiate a group session by clicking the Launch Party icon and copying a link for sending to up to seven others; the playback window features a chat section to the right of the content . link

Update: President Trump signs executive order targeting the perceived bias of social-media companies, acknowledging the order will likely be contested in court; speaking at the signing, Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice would draft legislation to reduce liability protections for social-media companies .Earlier post: A draft executive order viewed by The Wall Street Journal details how President Trump plans to address perceived political bias on social media; would call for state attorneys general to investigate complaints of such bias; would call for a proceeding to determine the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and would call for the removal of its protections for companies under some circumstances . link

Amazon plans to offer permanent jobs to ~70 percent of the 175k warehouse workers it hired since February to handle pandemic demand; will select 125k of the new hires for long-term work and notify them next month; the remaining 50k will have seasonal contracts lasting up to 11 months . link

ByteDance's hiring of Disney EVP and Chairman Kevin Mayer to serve as COO at ByteDance and CEO at TikTok was part of a broader initiative to shift company power out of China due to international tension, according to Reuters sources; the company reportedly has in recent months moved decision-making and research out of China; TikTok reportedly has hired 150 engineers in Mountain View, CA . link

Microsoft confirms Xbox Series X will, at launch, have the ability to apply machine-learning-powered HDR reconstruction and frame-rate upgrades to titles from previous Xbox consoles; the HDR upgrade will require no input from game developers; the frame-rate upgrade will convert 30 fps titles to 60 fps, and 60 fps titles to 120 fps; older titles will run natively on the Xbox Series X hardware, and will benefit from the quick resume feature . link

Google announces a pending change in Search ranking based on page experience metrics; will analyze Core Web Vitals (which provide information about page load speed, responsiveness, more) with other signals and emphasize pages that offer the best overall user experience; Google is also removing the requirement that pages must have an AMP version for Top Stories placement; Google will provide six months notice before the changes go live . link

The download for 2020-05-28 →

UK-based recycling tech firm Greyparrot raises £1.8M (~$2.2M) seed led by Speedinvest with participation from Force Over Mass; the startup has developed computer vision tools for identifying various recyclables such as glass, paper, and cans; has raised ~$3.4M to date . link

UK-based fintech firm Meniga raises €8.5M (~$9.3M) led by Groupe BPCE with participation from Grupo Crédito Agrícola and UniCredit; Meniga provides a digital banking platform to financial institutions; has raised more than $40M to date . link

Microsoft is considering a $2B investment in India-based carrier Reliance Jio Platforms (RJP), according to sources for Mint; Microsoft is looking to purchase as much as 2.5 percent of RJP; the telco has raised ~$8.5B over the last month . link

Huawei has stockpiled as much as two years worth of chips from US-based Intel and Xilinx, according to sources for Nikkei Asian Review; the company started accumulating the silicon in late 2018; recent US trade restrictions now limit such trade with Huawei; the chips are an important for the firm’s base station business . link

HBO Max launches; the $15 per month service features classic and new content including DC Universe movies, shows from HBO, Cartoon Network, and more .HBO Max is not available on Amazon Fire TV or Roku at launch; the service is supported by Chromecast, Apple TV, as well as some Samsung and Sony smart TVs . link

Google may acquire a 5 percent stake in India-based telco Vodafone Idea, reports the Financial Times; terms unknown; Google has also held talks with rival firm Reliance Jio Platforms (RJP), which has already attracted significant investment from Facebook and others . link

AZ Attorney General Mark Brnovich files a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of “deceptive and unfair practices” relating to location data collection; Brnovich claims the firm often gathers such info without proper user knowledge or consent; Google says Brnovich is mischaracterizing its services . link

Wearables firm Siren raises $11.8M Series B led by Anathem Ventures with participation from Khosla, DCM, and others; the company is developing smart fabrics that can be used in diabetes detecting socks; has raised ~$22M to date . link

Apple has acquired the rights to old episodes of “Fraggle Rock,” reports Vulture; the company has also agreed a deal with the Jim Henson Company to produce a full reboot of the show for Apple TV+; the streaming service has recently added several “Fraggle Rock” shorts to its lineup .Update: The Verge posits Apple’s acquisition of previously aired content represents a strategy shift for Apple TV+; the report notes Tim Cook told shareholders in February the service was “about original programming,” and not old shows and movies . link

Logistics firm DHL acquires a minority stake in e-commerce business Link Commerce; exact amount and terms undisclosed; Link Commerce provides white-label tools for setting up a digital store in emerging markets; Link Commerce is headed by Chris Folayan, who previously founded MallforAfrica . link

Apple acquires the rights to Martin Scorsese’s next film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; terms unknown, but follows reports the film is set to cost ~$200M; Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star .Deadline reports the film will be an Apple Original, but Paramount Pictures will distribute it theatrically; Paramount has held the rights to the project for many years . link

Recode profiles efforts by billionaires Reid Hoffman, Eric Schmidt, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Dustin Moskovitz to support the Joe Biden and the Democratic party leading up to the 2020 US election; Hoffman has invested $18M in data-handling organization Alloy; Schmidt has established OneOne Ventures, which reportedly invests in politically-focused startups; Recode sources say Powell Jobs and Moskovitz are supporting voter-registration programs . link

Uber scraps tens of thousands of Jump e-bikes, claiming it would be too complicated to donate them; Uber says the bikes require specialist parts and knowledgeable engineers to maintain them; the company transferred its Jump division to Lime as part of an investment arrangement . link

Apple ($1.4T market cap) has acqui-hired Canada-based data science startup Inductiv; terms undisclosed; Inductiv developed ML-powered tools for automatically finding and fixing data errors; the Inductiv team are now working on Siri’s underlying tech . link

President Trump plans to sign an executive order that could remove protections for tech firms relating to content on their platforms, according to sources for The Washington Post; it would eliminate the Section 230 shield that stops companies from being held liable for content posted by users; the FTC would also handle political bias complaints . link

Twitter applies fact-check labels to tweets from China Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian; the labels note the tweets could contain “potentially misleading content”; Zhao’s tweets, posted in March, include suggestions the US Army brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, China . link

Twitter says the company's head of site integrity is not responsible for fact-checking labels applied to two of President Trump's tweets; several conservative figures have singled out Yoel Roth, citing old tweets critical of Trump; Twitter says numerous employees were behind the decision to flag Trump's posts .Update 1: Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has a different approach to Twitter when it comes to fact-checking content; speaking with Fox News, Zuckerberg says “Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online” .Update 2: Jack Dorsey says he is ultimately accountable for Twitter’s actions, asking that the company’s employees be left out of the dispute; Dorsey also says the company is not an “arbiter of truth” . link

Box ($2.96B market cap) FQ1 beats: $183.6M revenue, up 13 percent year-over-year ($182M expected); $0.10 EPS (non-GAAP, $0.05 expected); $368.3M deferred revenue as of April 30; $39.8M free cash flow; the company expects $189M to $190M revenue for FQ2 . link

Academic researchers develop the USBFuzz tool to reveal vulnerabilities in the USB driver stack used by Linux, Windows, macOS, and FreeBSD; the software-emulated USB device generates random device data to reveal flaws; the researchers found 26 total bugs; Linux had 18 bugs, 11 of which are now patched . link

India's Competition Commission is investigating a complaint that Google is abusing its market position in the country to unfairly promote Google Pay, according to Reuters sources; authorities have not revealed the identity of the complainant; the complaint alleges Google gives its mobile payments app priority placement in the Indian Android app store, affording it more visibility than competing products . link

Jeff Bezos says Amazon has taken coronavirus seriously from the beginning and that he's proud of the board and senior leadership for doing a remarkable job; Bezos made the comments during a virtual shareholder meeting after other participants raised questions about the company's response to the virus; Bezos also noted the company changed procedures in its warehouses to adapt to conditions and was building COVID-19 testing labs . link

Microsoft is rolling out the first of this year's biannual Windows updates, adding an improved Windows Subsystem for Linux, upgrades for various apps including Task Manager and Notepad, more; Cortana now supports calendar event creation, sending emails, etc; Microsoft also launched a standalone Cortana app for Windows 10 . link

SpaceX and NASA delay Demo-2 launch due to bad weather; the operation will see SpaceX, in its first crewed mission, carry two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station; President Trump was slated to attend the launch . link

Canadian judge rules the US met the legal standard to request the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, whom authorities arrested in Dec 2018 and have detained in Vancouver, BC since; Meng has filed numerous extradition challenges and could appeal Wednesday's decision, the first significant ruling in her case; the US has accused her of IP theft, fraud servicing the violations of sanctions against Iran, more . link

Recode examines how Democratic billionaires, including Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Dustin Moskovitz are spending tens of millions to ensure Joe Biden wins the presidential election; initiatives include generating partisan content, improving Biden's digital presence and impact, political science experiments, more . link

Coinbase acquires Chicago-based prime brokerage platform Tagomi; terms undisclosed; a Coindesk source indicated an all-stock deal worth significantly less than the $150M price tag reported last year; Coinbase said it would integrate Tagomi to serve as the foundation of its institutional trading business; Tagomi previously raised $28M . link

B2B company information provider ZoomInfo Technologies expects to price shares between $16 and $18 a piece for its Nasdaq debut, which would give the company a $6.89B valuation and an $801M raise (at the top of the range); the business intelligence platform is offering 44.5M class A shares . link

The European Commission proposes a $2T coronavirus response plan including $824M for recovery and a seven-year budget; if all 27 EU member states approve, the plan would represent a historic integration of finances across the bloc; bloc-wide taxes and increased member contributions to budgets would repay the commonly-issued debt beginning in 2028 . link

HBO launches its $15-per-month Max streaming service; not to be confused with Go, which provides on-demand catalog access for cable subscribers, or Now, which offers the same as a standalone service; Max offers the same content as Now, but adds exclusives and some non-HBO content; HBO is upgrading Now subscribers to Max . link

YouTube resolves moderation error that resulted in the automatic deletion of comments containing certain Chinese-language phrases critical of China's Communist Party; the company said it was relying more heavily on automated moderation due to the pandemic, but did not explain why those particular phrases were flagged; users had complained of the issue since October . link

Federal appeals judge dismisses suit from right-wing YouTuber Laura Loomer and nonprofit group Freedom Watch that claimed Alphabet, Facebook, Twitter, and other tech companies had conspired to suppress Conservative voices; the suit also argued anticompetitive practices; the court found there wasn't enough evidence to support the antitrust claims and that the First Amendment prohibits only the governmental abridgment of speech . link

Tesla institutes price cuts across most of its lineup in North America; Model 3 is down $2k for all powertrain options; the Model S Performance and Long Range Plus are down $5k each; the Model X is also down $5k; the Model Y, which recently started shipping, did not see any cuts . link

President Trump says Republicans will strongly regulate or shut down social platforms before allowing them to silence Conservative voices; follows Twitter fact-checking and tagging two of Trump's tweets about mail-in ballots as potentially misleading; Trump claimed mail-in ballots would be fraudulent and result in a rigged election; Twitter added text reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” linked to a Twitter Moment debunking the claims . link

The download for 2020-05-27 →

Biotech firm AbCellera raises $105M led by OrbiMed and DCVC Bio with participation from Founders Fund and others; AbCellera has developed antibody identification tech; the company is currently working with several partners to develop coronavirus therapies . link

EV firm Rivian has started to reopen its plant in IL; the company closed the facility in March because of the coronavirus outbreak; Rivian brought back some essential workers in mid-May, with more set to return next week; Rivian plans to launch its first SUV next year . link

Games firm Blizzard Entertainment cancels BlizzCon 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the conference traditionally happens in the fall; Blizzard notes it may still hold an online event, though it’s yet to confirm any details . link

YouTube adds YouTube Kids to Apple TV; works with fourth and fifth gen Apple TV devices; parents and guardians must still set viewer restrictions via the YouTube Kids mobile app . link

Sweden-based scooter-sharing firm Voi Technology hires Richard Corbett to oversee its operations in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; Corbett previously served as an exec at Bird where he headed its UK and Ireland business . link

Apple rolls out macOS 10.15.5 which introduces a new Battery Health Management feature for MacBooks; analyzes the battery health and usage patterns and implements charging limitations to extend the power cell’s life . link

The Indian government makes its contact-tracing app Aarogya Setu open source; the app has been downloaded more than 114M times since it was launched for Android in April; officials say they will also pay security experts up to $1.3k for each bug they uncover . link

Private equity firm KKR partners with entrepreneur Franek Sodzawiczny to establish Global Technical Realty (GTR), a new company that plans to build European data centers for tech firms; KKR is committing at least $1B to the venture; Sodzawiczny will serve as CEO of GTR . link

Ola Electric (part of ride-hailing firm Ola) acquires Dutch mobility firm Etergo; terms undisclosed; Etergo offers electric mopeds that feature swappable batteries; raised $22.2M to date . link

Switzerland starts testing SwissCovid, a coronavirus contact-tracing app that uses a Bluetooth-centric API co-developed by Apple and Google; Swiss university EPFL claims SwissCovid is the first to use the framework; it is expected to remain in the pilot phase for a few weeks before rolling out fully . link

France-based enterprise comms service Aircall raises $65M Series C led by DTCP with participation from eFounders and others; the company offers a cloud-based phone service to SMEs; has raised ~$106M to date .Bloomberg reports Aircall has a post-money valuation of $500M; Aircall will use the investment to expand to more markets . link

AI data platform DefinedCrowd raises $50.5M Series B from Semapa Next, Hermes GPE, and others; DefinedCrowd offers training data for AI systems; has raised more than $63M to date . link

Israel-based visual masking firm D-ID (YC S17) raises $13.5M led by AXA Ventures with participation from Pitango, Y Combinator, and others; the company has developed tools that promise to thwart image recognition software; has raised ~$23M to date . link

Facebook is testing CatchUp, an app for making audio calls with up to eight participants; users can indicate when they’re available for a call; works without a Facebook account; CatchUp was developed by Facebook’s NPE Team, which previously created meme app Whale . link

Singapore-based fintech firm GoBear raises $17M from Walvis Participaties and Aegon NV; the startup offers a comparison service for banking and insurance products; has raised $97M to date . link

Some of Quibi’s ad partners are seeking to defer payments, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; firms such as PepsiCo, Walmart, and others have asked for new schedules because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic or low viewing numbers for the streaming service; Quibi promised marketers it would deliver a certain amount of ad views over a specified period . link

Amazon sent video clips and scripts to multiple regional TV news stations across the US which subsequently reported the stories, seemingly verbatim; Zach Rael of KOCO 5 News in Oklahoma City flagged the PR move on Twitter; Amazon says it created the package to help news outlets who want to cover its worker health and safety program . link

Twitter labels two of President Trump’s tweets as “potentially misleading”; represents the first time the platform has taken such action on Trump's tweets; the tag was added to tweets pertaining to mail-in ballots for the 2020 election; Trump subsequently claimed Twitter is suppressing free speech . link

Amazon is in talks to acquire driverless tech firm Zoox, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the deal reportedly values Zoox at less than $3.2B, the valuation it reached in 2018; the report notes the deal may still collapse .Update: Bloomberg reports several unnamed firms have shown interest in acquiring Zoox; the report also speculates Zoox will likely not sell for less than $1B . link

Google CEO Sundar Pichai notifies employees that the company targets July 6 to begin reopening offices for employees that want to come in; will initially operate at 10 percent of capacity and ramp-up to 30 percent by September; for employees who wish to stay at home, the company will provide up to $1k for home office expenses . link

Facebook's NPE (New Product Experimentation) Team launches CatchUp, an audio group calling app supporting calls with up to eight participants; the app relies on users' contact lists and does not require Facebook membership; it displays which users are available for calls and supports groups (friends, family, etc) . link

Blizzard cancels the 2020 BlizzCon due to coronavirus, hopes to run an online substitute event early next year; the company usually runs BlizzCon in November; Blizzard is looking at options to conduct the tournaments that usually take place at BlizzCon, including contests for link

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel seeks to delay an October auction that will disburse $16B to ISPs to upgrade rural broadband access because data on service areas is flawed; ISPs, per FCC regulations, report a census block as connected if a single home within that block has access; FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has rejected Rosenworcel's objections, saying that the auction will benefit communities regardless of flawed data . link

Uber and Lyft drivers, in cooperation with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, file suit against Gov Andrew Cuomo and the NY Department of Labor, alleging the state failed to pay drivers unemployment benefits in a timely manner; the state claims an average two-to-three-week wait for most workers, but gig drivers say it can take months, if they get paid at all . link

SpaceX signs three-year R&D agreement with the US Army, which will test the company's Starlink satellite broadband service; SpaceX plans to launch Starlink commercially by year's end, delivering high-speed, low-latency connectivity around the world, specifically targeting underserved and unserved areas; the Army reportedly plans to analyze the costs of ground-station infrastructure and integrating Starlink with existing Army systems . link

Advertisers look to renegotiate terms with Quibi following the short-form video service's lackluster debut, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; PepsiCo, Taco Bell, Walmart, and others reportedly have sought to defer payments, revise billing schedules, etc; Quibi, which has raised ~$1.75B, targeted 7M users in the first year and 16M within three years; the company currently claims 1.5M unpaid users . link

Nokia announces it shut down a telecom equipment manufacturing plant in southern India last week after an undisclosed number of workers tested positive for COVID-19; a Reuters source indicated 42 cases; the company said it had already implemented social distancing at the factory in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu when it resumed limited operations after the government relaxed stay-at-home restrictions . link

Facebook executives largely disregarded internal research about the platform's divisiveness, and weakened or blocked efforts to address conclusions in its products, according to internal documents and sources for The Wall Street Journal; a 2018 presentation indicated the company's algorithms exploited the human brain's attraction to divisive issues and would, if unchecked, feed users increasingly divisive content . link

Chinese officials are updating coronavirus-tracking apps with new features, despite signs that the worst of the pandemic has passed in the country, The New York Times reports; citizens have expressed concerns about their data privacy as apps continue to collect location and other data; the Communist Party's secretary of Hangzhou reportedly said that city's app should remain an intimate health guardian that people won't live without . link

Apple announces plans to reopen ~100 US stores; will limit most locations to curbside pickup, but will offer walk-in service at some stores; the company will conduct temperature checks and maintain social distancing at walk-in service locations; will require customers at those stores to wear masks, and will provide masks; Apple will conduct regular enhanced cleanings at the walk-in service locations . link

ARM announces the Cortex-A78 CPU, promising a 20-percent increase in sustained performance compared to the Cortex-A77; the new Mali-G78 24-core GPU promises a 25-percent performance improvement over the Mali-G77; both chips target mobile devices; the company's next neural processing unit for IoT and edge devices promises a 25-percent performance boost over its predecessor . link

Apple issues fix to address an iOS and iPadOS issue that prevented some apps from opening over the weekend; users reported the error, “This app is no longer shared with you,” indicating a problem with Apple’s Family Sharing system; after the error, many users saw a flood of old app updates . link

Timothy Klausutis writes Jack Dorsey, requesting Twitter remove tweets from President Trump that support a conspiracy theory indicating former Rep Joe Scarborough murdered Klausutis' deceased wife Lori, who worked for Scarborough; Timothy Klausutis said in a letter obtained by The New York Times that his wife had a heart condition that caused her to fall and hit her head on her desk .Update: Twitter says it will not remove the tweets but is working to update relevant policy . link

YouTube is automatically deleting certain Chinese-language phrases critical of China's Communist Party, despite the platform being banned in the country; YouTube said the deletions were a result of an error in the company's enforcement systems; The Verge found complaints of the issue going back to October; Google previously canceled a censored search product for the Chinese market following public backlash . link

SpaceX announces a $346.2M raise the day before its first crewed mission, which is slated to carry two astronauts to the International Space Station in the NASA-funded initiative; President Trump is expected to attend the event at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in FL on Wednesday; CNBC reports SpaceX has raised $567M total and achieved a $36B valuation . link

Facebook rebrands its Calibra digital wallet as Novi; Facebook rebranded the subsidiary that develops the wallet as Novi Financial; Novi will enable users to store and use multiple currencies under the Libra project; Novi will launch a dedicated app and also integrate with WhatsApp and Messenger . link

The download for 2020-05-26 →

Google is testing voice-based authentication for payments made via Google Assistant; some users are seeing a setting within the system’s Voice Match feature, allowing them to use it as a verification method; the feature is currently limited to in-app purchases and restaurant orders . link

Compass Group acquires UK-based food tech firm Feedr for ~$24M; the firm partners with food suppliers to deliver daily meals to office workers; had raised ~$3.3M to date . link

Data analytics firm Palantir could go public within the next year, according to CEO Alex Karp; speaking with “Axios on HBO,” Karp says Palantir has focused on building products to demonstrate the robustness of the company; he also says being listed can be “culturally corrosive” for a firm . link

Germany-based health recruitment platform Medwing raises €28M (~$30M) Series B led by Cathay Innovation with participation from Northzone and others; Medwing offers an automated job-matching service, connecting health professionals with hospitals, nursing homes, and more . link

Switzerland-based barcode scanner firm Scandit raises $80M Series C led by G2VP with participation from Atomico, GV, and others; the company provides enterprise OCR and AR tools; has raised $123M to date . link

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is reviewing Huawei’s participation in the country’s 5G network; The Guardian reports the NCSC is likely to find US sanctions will make it impossible to use Huawei tech as planned; follows reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked officials to find a plan for revoking Huawei's involvement in Britain’s infrastructure . link

The New York Times profiles CEO Glenn Fogel and his actions leading the company during the coronavirus outbreak; Fogel, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March, says the pandemic has been worse than any natural disaster, political coup, or data breach; the company lost $699M in the first quarter of 2020, which compares with $765M profit the year before . link

China-based Tencent says it will invest ~$70B over the next five years in cloud computing, AI, IoT, cybersecurity, and more; the company’s stock price rose 2.5 percent on the news; Tencent is primarily known for its WeChat messaging service and its video games operations . link

Indonesia-based data analytics startup Bonza raises an undisclosed sum from East Ventures; Bonza is developing a big data platform; founded earlier this year by Philip Thomas and Elsa Chandra, who previously served as execs at travel company Traveloka . link

Estonia-based ride-hailing firm Bolt raises €100M (~$109M) on a €1.7B (~$1.9B) post-money valuation from Naya Capital Management; Bolt operates across numerous markets in Europe and Africa; has raised $409M to date . link

French quantum computing startup Alice&Bob raises $3.3M led by Elaia Partners and Breega; the firm is developing a system that can overcome so-called “quantum errors,” which have thus far held back quantum computers . link

Realme announces 6.6-inch €500 (~$540) Realme X3 Superzoom; features a 120Hz LCD screen with a 32MP selfie camera alongside an 8MP wide lens; the rear camera module features 64MP wide lens, an 8MP ultra-wide, a 2MP macro, and an 8MP periscope lens with 5x zoom; launching in the UK and Spain on June 4 . link

South Korean authorities question Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee as part of an investigation into alleged improprieties at the company; officials are looking into allegations of accounting fraud, suspicions over a 2015 merger, and questions about Samsung’s succession plans; Lee was previously jailed following a bribery scandal . link

TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin collectively generated the most in-app revenue globally among non-game apps during April, according to Sensor Tower; the data does not count income from ads; the ByteDance-owned companies drew $78M last month, 86.6 percent of which came via Douyin . link

Uber lays off 600 staff in India, equal to 25 percent of its regional workforce, citing the coronavirus pandemic; the cuts impact multiple parts of the business including customer and driver support, marketing, and more; Uber is providing 10 to 12 weeks of severance pay . link

VR firm XRSpace announces $600 Mova, a standalone headset it says will launch in Q3 (exact date unknown); XRSpace is founded by former HTC CEO Peter Chou; the Mova will run on a Snapdragon 845 processor and promises 5G support and hand-tracking; it will also include Manova, an expansive VR world . link

Latvia is set to be among the first countries with a coronavirus contact-tracing app built on Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API; the developers say they believe the app will see widespread adoption among the country’s population of ~2M; Latvia’s app is being designed to interface with apps for Germany, Switzerland, and Estonia . link

Telegram withdraws its appeal relating to its GRAM crypto tokens; a court previously backed the SEC in blocking the issuance of the digital coin; Telegram canceled its GRAM rollout recently . link

Virgin Orbit's first full test flight fails; the company flew a modified Boeing 747 to 35k feet, and then its LauncherOne rocket successfully detached; LauncherOne was supposed to continue into orbit, but the mission was quickly aborted; it's unclear what went wrong . link

The download for 2020-05-25 →

SaaS management platform BetterCloud raises $75M Series F led by Warburg Pincus; integrates with Dropbox, Salesforce, Zendesk, and more, enabling clients to optimize SaaS spending, configure numerous services, control security, etc; raised $187M to date . link

MasterClass, an education platform with high-profile teachers, raises $100M Series E led by Fidelity Management & Research Company; Bloomberg previously reported an $800M valuation for the round; Masterclass said the valuation was higher without disclosing details; 100 percent of the company's revenue comes from its $180 annual subscription fee; the company has produced 85 courses; raised $236M to date . link

9to5Mac details the plans Apple has for numerous products, as revealed in the code from a leaked early version of iOS 14; iOS will feature a new home screen that can filter app views; iOS will support bulk setup for the coming AirTag item trackers, which will have user-replaceable batteries; Apple Stores will support AR views for additional product information . link

White House officials expect the official unemployment rate to pass 20 percent by the end of May, according to administration economic adviser Kevin Hassett, who said the number should start to fall within a few weeks; Hassett said that without a vaccine by the end of July, we should expect unemployment to remain in the double digits until the presidential election in November . link

South Korea's ‘Smart City’ data system, designed to enable authorities to share urban planning information, serves as the foundation of the Epidemic Investigation Support System (EISS), which merges cell phone location data and credit card activity to track people exposed to COVID-19; authorities already had access to that data, but EISS digitizes and speeds up the request process; Reuters details the system's efficacy and limitations . link

Elon Musk says he does not expect the production version of Tesla's Cybertruck will be much smaller than the prototype; he previously said the final version would be ~five percent smaller, but Tesla reviewed the design and found that a three-percent reduction in size would be too drastic; he noted that the company would likely produce a different, smaller truck in the future . link

The Washington Post examines how pandemic lockdowns have driven demand for home office products while inhibiting supply chains; webcams have proven particularly popular, with online shops around the world indicating they are sold out and on backorder . link

Amazon has not been cooperative with public health officials in Kenosha County, WI, according to local health officer Jen Freiheit, who said she would consider shutting down Amazon's Kenosha campus if the company continued to resist officials' efforts to track coronavirus cases, inform employees at high risk, more; The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported 32 cases at the facility . link

Virgin Orbit misses Sunday launch window due to sensor problem, hopes to launch Monday afternoon; the test represents the company's first launch using a modified 747 called Cosmic Girl to carry the LauncherOne rocket to ~35k feet for release; if all goes according to plan, the rocket will take a small test payload into low orbit . link

Anti-vax conspiracy theorists repurpose a years-old hoax video, claiming it features Bill Gates pitching a vaccine against religious fundamentalism; the video, which does not feature Bill Gates, has spread across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter; though not directly related to coronavirus, those spreading it often link it conceptually to conspiracy theories about a coming COVID-19 vaccine; YouTube said the video does not violate company policy . link

Jailbreaking group Unc0ver releases a new tool that unlocks all versions of iOS from 11 to 13.5; the group claims the crack leaves all data protection and sandbox features intact and allows the user to access all Apple services; available via AltStore and Cydia . link

The download for 2020-05-24 →

Brazil's telecom regulator says the pandemic will result in additional delays for the nation's 5G spectrum auction; in early April, the regulator still hoped to conduct auctions this year, despite earlier delays; President Leonardo Euler de Morais said lockdowns had underscored the importance of digital solutions and that, in the long run, it would fuel 5G deployment and fiber expansion . link

Apple plans to update the Messages app for macOS with features from the mobile app, according to leaked iOS 14 code; 9to5Mac found references to a new macOS Messages app based on Catalyst, which enables developers to efficiently port iOS and iPadOS apps to the desktop . link

The City of New Orleans, with the help of New York City-based public safety communications platform Carbyne, upgraded its emergency systems to enable paramedics to conduct remote video assessments of callers to determine appropriate responses; in March a vast majority of calls regarded coronavirus; The New York Time examines how such upgrades have helped to improve response efficiency . link

Singaporean shopping mall operator CapitaLand to launch two e-commerce platforms on June 1, one for food delivery and one for other products, serving retailers established in its 18 malls; will also integrate existing loyalty programs; the e-commerce platform, eCapitaMall, will enable customers to try products in person before ordering online and to research products online before buying in person . link

Reliance Jio Platforms rolls out its JioMart e-commerce business in dozens of new Indian markets; previously limited to three Mumbai suburbs; the business also launched sales of perishable items; Jio Platforms has raised $10B-plus over the past month with investments from KKR, General Atlantic, Silver Lake and others; claims 388M telecom subscribers . link

Facebook's leniency regarding anti-vax misinformation conflicts with the company's policy on coronavirus misinformation, BuzzFeed News reports, and anti-vaxxers are already making false claims about a pending coronavirus vaccine; Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert said the company's policy to remove items contradicting official WHO coronavirus information was due to risk of imminent physical harm . link

London-based Blink launches an app for deskless frontline employees and raises ~$10M from Partech and angels; the app enables companies to send their workers documents, pay stubs, etc, and enables employees to interact with one another and submit company feedback; the company previously deployed the app in limited availability to 100 organizations across 14 countries . link

Google Messages to support end-to-end encryption for RCS, according to code in a leaked internal version of the app: RCS, the successor to SMS and MMS, brings iMessage-like features to Android messaging across carriers, including read receipts and typing indicators; code also indicates users will have the option to protect encrypted conversations from apps that have permission to access Messages . link

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country will ramp up COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts as provinces gradually relax stay-at-home orders; he also said the federal government was working closely with Apple and Google on an exposure notification app . link

Spencer Meyer, who initiated an antitrust suit against Uber that sought a ban on surge pricing, claims an arbiter sided with Uber in the price-fixing case due to partiality; a transcript of the arbitration indicated the arbiter, Les Weinstein, feared that he couldn't walk the streets at night if he ruled against Uber . link

VentureBeat examines how governments and organizations are using contact-tracing and smartphone data, wearables and apps, thermal scanning, facial recognition, and other tech to track the spread of coronavirus, mitigate the potential for spread, and to better understand COVID-19 . link

SpaceX's NASA-funded Demo-2 mission, which will take astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, faces one final safety review; SpaceX conducted a static fire test on Friday; assuming favorable data from that test and this weekend's dress rehearsal, the company is prepared to launch on Wednesday evening . link

New York International Auto Show organizers cancel 2020 event; the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association had planned the event to begin April 10, but rescheduled for August due to the pandemic; the next show is slated for April 2-11 of next year . link

Australian researchers achieve 44.2 Tbps data transfer over standard optical fiber using a single integrated chip; they ran the fiber between university campuses in Melbourne and Clayton, duplicating the infrastructure used by Australia’s National Broadband Network, but with the addition of a micro-comb; one of the researchers said the tech could drastically improve speeds for existing infrastructure with minimal expense . link

Amazon confirms a woman who worked in the company's Randall, OH facility has died of COVID-19; Amazon said management sent the woman home on April 30 and she tested positive on May 8; she is the eighth known Amazon employee to die of the disease; Amazon does not disclose employee infection rates but has said they are at or below that of the communities in which the company operates . link

The Wall Street Journal examines how large, dominant tech companies weather crises that damage smaller firms; companies benefiting from increased social media use, video conferencing software, and other pandemic-resistant services continue to spend on R&D, acquisitions, and customer acquisition; the Journal notes that Facebook and Google, for example, could significantly cut spending should advertising revenues dry up . link

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other American firms are providing essential web services to Chinese surveillance companies the US government has blacklisted and accused of human rights abuses, according to VPN reviewer and privacy researcher Top10VPN; US companies reportedly have provided site and email hosting, authentication services, more . link

Microsoft announces HoloLens 2 will roll out to 15 more countries this fall; will be available at the Microsoft Store this summer for $3.5k; Windows Holographic version 2004, the latest version of the software, adds a dark mode, improved hand tracking, support for new voice commands, and support for 5G via dongle . link

Venezuela’s Supreme Court orders DirecTV to restore local service after parent AT&T shut it down due to sanctions; the sanctions, intended to push President Nicolas Maduro out of office, disallow companies from contracting with state agencies; Venezuela's laws require subscription TV services carry government stations; DirecTV was the country's most popular TV provider . link

Judge approves Faraday Future Founder Jia Yueting's bankruptcy restructuring plan; much of the tycoon's $3.6B in personal debt is the result of the collapse of LeEco, and many of the people and entities to whom Jia owes money have agreed to excuse debts in exchange for stakes in Faraday Future; Jia has said Faraday would need another $850M to enter production of its FF91 EV; Faraday said the restructuring approval paves the way for fundraising . link

British PM Boris Johnson has called on officials to develop a plan to eliminate Huawei's involvement in Britain's 5G infrastructure by 2023, The Telegraph reports; Johnson has said the UK must become more self-reliant and less dependent on China for goods . link

President Trump is considering the establishment of a panel that would review complaints of politically-motivated bias and censorship by social media platforms, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Trump recently tweeted about allegedly anti-conservative deplatforming, calling the practice illegal; sources said that in addition to creating a dedicated commission, the White House might encourage relevant reviews by federal agencies . link

The download for 2020-05-23 →

A coalition of tech companies and privacy advocates calls on the House of Representatives to protect Americans' search and browsing histories from warrantless searches after the Senate rejected (by one vote) an amendment to the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act that would have provided such protection; the coalition hopes the House will adopt the amendment . link

CVKey Project launches with an app to ease the reopening of businesses; founded by Brian McClendon, who previously co-founded Keyhole, which Google acquired in 2004 and used as part of the foundation of Google Maps and Earth; CVKey allows users to self-report symptoms and use a QR code as a sort of pass to enter businesses using the app . link

Bloomberg examines China's plans to spend $1.4T over six years to deploy 5G networks, cameras and sensors, and AI-powered software for surveillance, factory automation, and autonomous driving; the country will work with local governments and private companies, including Alibaba, Huawei, and SenseTime; the government is expected to announce ~$560M in infrastructure funding this year . link

Seattle District Court judge rules the FBI cannot access a mobile device's lock screen without a warrant, calling it an unconstitutional violation of a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights; arresting police can access a device's lock screen if incidental to a lawful arrest or as part of efforts to inventory personal effects; pressing a phone's power button to wake the screen qualifies as a search . link

Reuters analyzes smartphone data from SafeGraph to determine how people in various states are responding to the relaxing of stay-at-home orders; grocery and speciality food stores saw a slight bump in traffic in mid-May; foot traffic at bars and pubs was down 60 percent from the first week of March; AL, which reopened restaurants, bars, and breweries on May 11, saw a surge in traffic at those locations; WI saw a jump in visits to state parks . link

Box CEO Aaron Levie announces employees will have the option to work remotely until at least January, and that the company will work toward a long-term office-remote hybrid model; Box is developing a remote hiring process, shifting all-hands meetings to virtual, and offering stipends to workers needing to upgrade home offices . link

This Week in Startups: AMA with Ilir SelaSlice Founder and CEO Ilir Sela answers live questions from the This Week in Startups founder community on Slack, covering tips on selling to scattered markets, CODIV-19's impact on the restaurant industry, scaling his company's $43M Series C, more . link

Shanghai-based e-commerce company Pinduoduo ($81B market cap) Q1 beats: $916M revenue, up 44 percent year-over-year ($700M expected); $580M net loss; 628M active buyers in the year ending in March, up 42 percent year-over-year; the company reported 65M daily orders as of this month . link

Wired interviews Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai about how Google was positioned to respond to coronavirus, collaborating with Apple on the exposure notification API, how the pandemic has accelerated the shift to remote work and telehealth, Alphabet's holding company model, increased antitrust scrutiny, Google's diversity initiatives, the company's attitude toward China, more . link

NetEase and plan secondary listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the second and third weeks of June, respectively, according to Reuters sources; the sources expect NetEase to raise ~$2B and to raise ~$3B; both companies are listed on the Nasdaq; follows the Senate passing legislation that would require stricter oversight for Chinese companies listing publicly in the US . link

Dutch District Court judge rules woman who refused to remove photos of her grandchildren from Facebook and Instagram violated Europe's GDPR because she didn't have the mother's (her daughter's) permission to publish them; GDPR requires guardian permission when posting images of minors under 16; the mother and grandmother hadn't been in touch after a falling out . link

Hackers and security researchers have had access to an early version of iOS 14 since at least February, Motherboard reports; Apple released a beta version of iOS 13.5 this week and isn't expected to release iOS 14 until the fall; sources from the jailbreaking community believe someone purchased a developer's iPhone 11 from a source in China and extracted the operating system, which was dated December 2019 . link

This Week in Startups: News RoundtableJason speaks with Coelius Capital MP Zach Coelius and The Hustle CEO Sam Parr about Barstool Sports vs the link

Amazon plans a summer sale to help merchants move excess inventory they haven't been able to sell due to the company's focus on essential items, The New York Times reports; the company reportedly pushed its annual Prime Day event from July to September due to strain on warehouse operations; Amazon also reportedly lifted restrictions to resume acceptance of an unlimited amount of nonessential items at its facilities . link

Urban air mobility startup Archer emerges from stealth with plans to launch an eVTOL craft that carries up to four passengers for 60 miles at up to 150 mph; Founders Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein previously founded talent marketplace Vettery, which sold for ~$100M; their team includes veterans from NASA, Airbus, more; Archer expects to begin flight tests next year . link

Amazon-owned audiobook business Audible is in talks to acquire new podcast projects, according to Bloomberg sources; the company reportedly has offered up to a few million dollars per show, surpassing offers from all competitors except Spotify; Audible reportedly has acquired shows starring comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, and is considering selling shows individually, outside of its monthly membership . link