The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2020-09-25, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2020-09-25 →


Twitter outlines changes to its security processes following a mass hack earlier this year; the company has distributed security keys to staff who have access to user accounts; new employees are receiving enhanced security, privacy, and data protection training; Twitter also says its improving its internal monitoring and detection systems . link

China-based eSiM firm Showmac Tech raises ~$15M Series A+ led by Addor Capital with participation from GGV Capital and Hongtai Aplus; the company provides non-removable SIM tech for IoT products; claims to have provided eSIMS for more than 10M devices, a third of which are made by Xiaomi . link

TikTok says it will allow the Australian government to examine its source code and algorithm; in a letter to the Australian Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media, TikTok says officials will be able to review the tech at sites in Los Angeles and Washington DC: speaking with the committee remotely, TikTok’s Global Chief Security Officer Roland Cloutier says the platform’s code is not the same as its Chinese counterpart Douyin . link

English soccer club Manchester City has signed a two-year content deal with ByteDance-owned Douyin; financial terms undisclosed; the agreement gives the Chinese TikTok counterpart exclusive rights to game highlights, interviews, documentaries, and more; Douyin also has partnerships with German team FC Bayern Munich, and Spanish soccer league La Liga . link

Indonesia-based cloud kitchen firm Yummy raises $12M Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia with participation from Intudo Ventures and others; the startup operates Yummykitchen, a network of kitchens that fulfill orders for food delivery firms; has raised $19.5M to date . link

Facebook establishes new employee rules for its internal communications platform Workplace; the company’s staff must only use an image of themselves or their initials for their profile picture; Facebook is also expanding its definition of harassment, noting it will not tolerate comments or posts that could create a hostile work environment for individuals in a protected class; follows intervention from Mark Zuckerberg after comments on Workplace led to outrage among workers . link

Chip design startup Nuvia raises $240M from Mithril Capital, BlackRock, and others; founded in Feb 2019, the firm is developing Arm-based server processors for data centers; has raised $293M to date . link

Fintech firm Ant Group launches Trusple, a blockchain-based cross-border contracts service for SMEs; the open platform lets partners establish a digital agreement by uploading a trading order; the smart contract auto-updates as the parties work together . link

Multiple Google services have suffered a temporary outage; US users of Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and more reported issues starting around 5:50 pm PST on Sept 24; the problems were seemingly resolved by 7 pm PST; Google has not provided an explanation but says it is investigating . link

Facebook has removed more than 200 fake accounts and 35 pages linked to Russia; the company says the actors were connected to the Russian military and the Internet Research Agency, noting they worked together to amplify misleading content on the platform . link

Epic, Spotify, and Match Group establish the Coalition for App Fairness; the pressure group, based in Washington DC, claims app stores collect excessive fees from developers; Epic has filed lawsuits against Apple and Google over their commissions for in-app payments . link

Apple confirms it has acquired podcast app Scout FM; terms undisclosed; Scout FM was shut down after it was purchased earlier this year; the app used to recommend shows based on listening history . link

Ring says it will offer customers end-to-end encryption for video feeds by the end of this year; enabling the feature will restrict other options including the ability to access videos via Echo Show; Ring will also let users disable the Neighbors feature . link

Customer engagement platform Airship acquires SMS commerce company ReplyBuy; terms undisclosed; ReplyBuy's entire seven-member team will join Airship; ReplyBuy CEO Brandon O’Halloran will serve as general manager of commerce; Airship will integrate some ReplyBuy features, but maintain ReplyBuy as a standalone product; ReplyBuy previously raised $4M . link

EV charging network ChargePoint to go public via merger with SPAC Switchback Energy Acquisition Corporation at a $2.4B market valuation; the merged entity, ChargePoint Holdings, will trade on the NYSE; Pasquale Romano will continue to lead as president and CEO, and the rest of the management team will remain in place; ChargePoint previously raised ~$660M . link

The European Commission proposes a regulatory framework for stablecoins and crypto assets; the proposal addresses assets not covered by existing financial services legislation, and specifically mentions the likelihood of stablecoins seeing broad adoption; the commission also proposed a regulatory sandbox enabling companies to test blockchain tech . link

Tesla files suit against the Trump administration in the Court of International Trade, seeking to block tariffs on products the company imports from China, including the computers and displays used in Tesla vehicles; Tesla requested an exemption from the 25-percent tariffs last year; the company also seeks a refund, with interest, for the tariffs paid to date . link

Amazon announces Guard Plus, a $50-per-year service that gives Echo devices enhanced security features; like the free Guard service, Guard Plus can detect the sounds of smoke alarms and more and notify users away from home; the Plus tier, which also works with third-party products, adds a helpline to connect with emergency services, and intruder warning sounds, like barking dogs . link

Ring announces the Always Home Cam, a drone that enables the owner to remotely issue commands to check various rooms and live-stream footage; the device can also automatically respond to Ring security alerts; it returns to its base automatically, and the camera is not useable while docked; the company expects to launch the Always Home Cam for ~$250 next year .Teaser: link

Amazon unveils the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6 mesh networking routers; both support Wi-Fi 6; the base, dual-band model (for connections up to 500Mbps) runs $129, with a two-pack priced at $200 and a three-pack at $280; the triband Pro (for gigabit connections) is $230, with a two-pack priced at $400 and a three-pack at $600; the company sells extenders for $90 each; Amazon acquired Eero early last year . link

Ring unveils Car Cam, Car Alarm, and Car Connect; the dash-mountable $200 Car Cam can record video inside the car and through the windshield; it detects break-ins, accidents, and more, and sends alerts; can also contact first responders in case of serious crashes; the $60 OBD-II device Car Alarm offers similar detection features; Connect enables existing vehicle camera systems, including Tesla's, to integrate with Ring . link

Judge rules the Commerce Department must defend or delay a ban prohibiting US app stores from offering TikTok for download; TikTok requested an injunction to stop the ban, originally slated to take effect on Sept 20 but delayed by one week so the company could negotiate a sale/restructuring; the judge gave the administration until Friday to postpone the ban date or to file legal papers justifying the ban . link

Amazon announces cloud gaming service Luna and the Luna Controller; launch date undisclosed; the service runs $6 per month during early access, and the controller is $50; will feature publisher channels for premium subscriptions; initially coming to PC, Mac, Fire TV, and iOS/iPadOS; Amazon plans an Android app sometime after the official launch; integrates with Twitch . link

Amazon announces the new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite, priced at $40 and $30, respectively; both devices will ship with a new UI, which will roll out to earlier Fire TV devices in the first quarter; supports up to six user profiles and promises a less cluttered design that simplifies finding free content and more; also offers improved support for security cameras and expanded Alexa interactions; pre-orders are now open; available Sept 30 . link

Amazon unveils the fourth-generation Echo, featuring a spherical design and local speech recognition processing via the AZ1 Neural Edge module; the device sends commands to the cloud post-processing, promising faster responses; functions as a Zigbee smart home hub, and works with Amazon's Sidewalk mesh networking system; the $100 device will be available in Charcoal, Chalk, and Steel Blue . link

This Week in Startups: Next Unicorns E19Jason speaks with Joe Thomas, co-founder and CEO of work video messaging company Loom; the conversation covers Loom's culture, creating new behaviors in the workplace, transitioning to remote work, viral marketing, the importance of having a best-in-class product, raising funds from Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, more . link

Telepath, an interest-based social network focused on civilized interactions and verified content, launches in private beta; users follow conversation networks; for example, #Deadpool focuses on failing companies; the company prioritizes moderation, inclusion, kindness, and safety; Co-Founder Marc Bodnick, who co-founded Elevation Partners and led Business & Community at Quora, serves as chairman . link

The download for 2020-10-23 →


Recode explores the email scheme attributed to Iran that sought to interfere with the US election; notes spoofed emails claiming to be from right wing group Proud Boys were sent to voters in FL and AK; it’s unclear how the email addresses were obtained, but FL makes some voter info public . link

China-based fintech firm Lufax plans to raise as much as ~$2.4B via a US IPO; Lufax, which offers a suite of financial services including wealth management and loans, is offering 175M in American depositary shares; they have a guide price of $11.50 to $13.50 apiece; it’s scheduled to list on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct 29 . link

Huawei reports ~$100.7B revenue for the first three quarters of 2020, up 9.9 percent year-on-year; it had a profit margin of 8 percent; by comparison, the company reported growth of 24.4 percent and an 8.7 percent profit margin for the same period last year; Huawei notes US sanctions have affected its business, but notes the full impact will not be realized for some time . link

Walmart-controlled Flipkart acquires a 7.8 percent holding in fellow India-based retailer Aditya Birla for ~$204M; Aditya Birla is a multinational conglomerate that owns and operates numerous fashion and retail brands; as part of the arrangement, Flipkart will sell and distribute products from Aditya Birla companies . link

Denmark-based fintech firm Lunar raises €40M (~$47M) Series C from existing backers (exact investors undisclosed); Lunar offers a banking app to SMEs across several Nordic countries; has raised ~$123M to date . link

An appeals court in CA says ride-hailing firms must abide by a state law and reclassify contract drivers as employees; CA introduced the law - known as AB5 - earlier this year; Uber and Lyft say they are considering their legal options; both companies have backed a ballot measure to repeal AB5 which state residents can vote on this Nov 3 . link

TikTok says it will let users know which policy they have violated when it removes a video; users will still be able to appeal takedowns; TikTok says it has been testing the advisory notices for several months and has seen a 14 percent drop in appeals . link

Google Fi offers Google Pixel 4a for $216 via a 24-month subscription plan; the device typically costs $350 if paid for upfront; users who sign up for the deal will pay $9 per month for the smartphone, plus the cost of a Google Fi Unlimited or Flexible plan; the company is also offering device protection for an additional $6 per month . link

China has surpassed its goal of installing 500k 5G base stations across the country before the end of 2020; there are ~690k in operation, up 70 percent from June; The Chinese government says it will continue to invest in 5G infrastructure and usage . link

Quibi says it will shut down on or around Dec 1; the firm notes it does not know what will happen to its library of shows; content partners were reportedly not informed of the company’s decision to shutter before it was announced . link

PayPal is considering purchasing several cryptocurrency firms, according to Bloomberg sources; the company has held talks with Bitgo, a crypto asset holding business, and others; BitGo was last valued at $170M; PayPal says it plans to introduce crypto features next year . link

Russian hacker group Energetic Bear breached US government networks and stole data, according to CISA and FBI; officials said the group had targeted various US governments and aviation companies beginning in February at the latest; Energetic Bear exfiltrated data from at least two servers . link

Mine, which enables consumers to discover and manage their data on the web, raises $9.5M Series A led by Gradient Ventures; the company is preparing to launch in the US after going live in Israel and Europe earlier this year; claims 100k users have used to the app to request reclamation of their data from 150k companies; raised $12.5M to date . link

Lili, which provides banking services for freelancers, raises $15M Series A led by Group 11; offers automatic allocation for taxes, early access to direct deposits, more; the company only generates revenue from card processing fees; claims ~100k new accounts since the start of 2019; raised $25M to date . link

Twitter and the White House deny Dutch reports that a security researcher accessed President Trump's Twitter account by guessing his password as “maga2020!,” and that two-factor authentication was not enabled; the reports suggest the researcher could have been responsible for a tweet in which Trump appeared to accept as fact a satirical news item indicating Twitter caused an outage to stop the spread of negative stories about Joe Biden . link

Intel ($229B market cap) FQ3 mixed: $18.33B revenue, down four percent ($18.25B expected); $1.11 EPS, adjusted, as expected; $9.85B Client Computing Group revenue, up one percent ($9.09B expected); $5.91B Data Center Group revenue, down seven percent ($6.21B expected); cloud revenue grew 15 percent; revenue from enterprises and governments fell 47 percent . link

CA-based Uber drivers sue the company, alleging it violated workers' rights by regularly sending them messages urging them to support Proposition 22, which seeks to exempt some firms from a law requiring ride-share and delivery drivers be classified as employees; the plaintiffs seek $260M in penalties . link

Applied Intuition, which provides software infrastructure for developing, testing, and deploying autonomous vehicles, raises $125M Series C led by Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and General Catalyst; Forbes sources indicated a $1.25B post-valuation; raised $176.5M to date . link

WhatsApp announces it will let businesses store, manage, and analyze their customer communications on Facebook servers; business users currently must store and manage that data on their own servers; the hosting service will also offer marketing tools; launch date undisclosed .WhatsApp also plans to expand in-app shopping features; for example, a customer could initiate a chat with a business; the business could send a link from their product catalog, and the customer could purchase the item without leaving the app . link

Apple expands its Express retail store format to more locations ahead of iPhone 12 sales; the company takes orders online and customers pick their items up at outdoor sales counters with plexiglass barriers; the company currently operates 20 Express locations across the US and Europe and plans to launch 30 more by year's end . link

Product Hunt names Mino Games Co-Founder Josh Buckley as CEO; Buckley also served as chairman at Clearbit and continues to serve as an investor and advisor at Startup Helper; Product Hunt Founder Ryan Hoover said in his announcement regarding the CEO position that his platform had facilitated 200k-plus product launches . link

The manager overseeing the construction of Tesla's Berlin Gigafactory has left the company, according to a Reuters source and German broadcaster RBB; Evan Horetsky's LinkedIn profile still indicates he's working as Tesla's director of engineering, procurement, and construction at the location; the facility represents Tesla's fourth Gigafactory and its first in Europe . link

The Central Bank of the Bahamas launches the Sand Dollar, the 1:1 digital version of the Bahamian dollar, which is linked to the USD; banks and credit unions are currently establishing compliance checks for consumer and enterprise wallets . link

Facebook's independent Oversight Board begins accepting cases for review; the board will make final decisions regarding the removal of content and other issues in cases where users have exhausted Facebook's appeals process and remain unsatisfied; Facebook said cases related to this year's presidential election would likely be excluded . link

The download for 2020-10-22 →


Germany-based meetings service Acapela emerges from stealth, raises €2.5M (~$3M) led by Visionaries Club; Acapela offers an enterprise platform for hosting asynchronous meetings; lets users contribute to conversations on a more flexible schedule; currently available to early-access users . link

Quibi spent $63M on ads in the six months since it launched, according to data from MediaRadar; includes a Super Bowl ad and a large media spend around its launch . link

SaaS firm Tekion raises $150M Series C on a $1B+ valuation led by Advent International with participation from Index Ventures and others; Advent’s Eric Wei joins the board; Tekion offers cloud-based sales and management tools to vehicle dealerships; established by former Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan; has raised $185M to date . link

Google Play Music (GPM) has started to shut down, reports Android Police; some users no longer have access to the web app, while those who use the Android app are being actively pushed to YouTube Music (YTM); users have been able to transfer their GPM libraries to YTM for some time . link

Germany-based e-bike subscription service Dance raises €15M (~$17.8M) Series A led by Holtzbrinck Ventures; the startup was established by Jimdo co-founder Christian Springub along with SoundCloud founders Alexander Ljung and Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss; for a monthly fee Dance customers get an e-bike as well as ongoing maintenance and anti-theft services . link

Netherlands-based fintech firm Silverflow emerges from stealth, raises €2.6M (~$3M) seed from Crane Venture Partners with participation from Inkef Capital and others; founded by several former Adyen execs, Silverflow is developing a cloud-based credit card processing system; set to launch in 2021; has raised ~$3.5M to date . link

Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee appears in a South Korean court as his trial for alleged financial crimes begins; Lee is accused of accounting fraud and stock manipulation in relation to the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates; 10 other individuals with connections to the company have also been indicted . link

Facebook launches its dating feature in Europe; already available in the US, Facebook Dating allows users to connect with others who share common interests, including activities related to events and groups; users dating profiles are separate from their main one and only viewable by other Facebook Dating users . link

Cybersecurity firm McAfee has raised $740M as it returns to the public markets; the company’s IPO values it at ~$8.6B; it will list today on the Nasdaq under the symbol MCFE; McAfee has been privately traded for about a decade .Reuters says McAfee has raised $620M; the company sold shares at $20 apiece; several banks including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are underwriting the IPO . link

Twitch has removed hundreds of videos from game streamers for featuring copyrighted music; the company contacted account holders, informing them their content had received at least one DMCA takedown notice; Twitch has not given streamers the option to modify their videos or file a counter notice . link

Dieter Bohn of The Verge reviews the latest iPad Air; says the processor is fast and notes its compatible with iPad Pro accessories; says Touch ID implementation takes time to get used to; flags the price increase over last year’s model as a negative; also cites $150 cost to go from 64GB version to 256GB model . link

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman confirm Quibi is shutting down; in an open letter to staff and investors, Katzenberg and Whitman say they’ve “considered and exhausted every option” to try and make the service work; they say Quibi has failed either because the idea is not strong enough or their timing was off; the firm will return cash to its backers; unclear what will happen to Quibi’s content and other assets .Quibi has generated $3.3M in subscription revenue since it launched in April, according to analytics firm Apptopia; it raised more than $1.7B from investors .Katzenberg and Whitman decided to shutter the company rather than risk even more money, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Quibi plans to return ~$350M to its backers . link

Airbnb signs a multi-year partnership with Jony Ive and his company LoveForm; terms undisclosed; Airbnb says Ive will help design new products and services; LoveForm also has a partnership with Apple . link

US security officials say Iran has carried out an election interference campaign targeting voters in FL; some Democratic voters received emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys; the falsified comms were intended to sow discord; national security director John Ratcliffe notes Russia has also gotten access to some US voter data; FL makes voter info publicly available . link

More than 2k US law enforcement agencies representing all 50 states have tools to access locked and encrypted mobile devices, according to a report from nonprofit Upturn; at least 49 of the 50 largest police departments in the country have the tools; records viewed by The New York Times indicated police had used the tech while investigating shoplifting, drug cases, rapes, and homicides . link

Handshake, a diversity-centric professional network for college students and recent grads, raises $80M Series D led by GGV; valuation undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source indicated more than double the $275M valuation of the company's last round, a $40M Series C in October of last year; claims 17M job seekers from 1k learning institutions and ~500k employers; raised $154M to date . link

Cap table management platform Pulley raises $10M Series A led by Stripe; the product maintains accurate ownership records and provides equity information for employees and investors; Yin Wu, who founded the startup in January, said that as companies increasingly choose to stay private longer, and as workforces become more remote and international, equity management becomes more complex; raised $10.2M to date . link

The China Securities Regulatory Commission authorizes Ant Group to list on the Nasdaq-like STAR Market in Hong Kong as part of a dual-listing that will also see the company trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange; represents the final regulatory hurdle for the expected $35B IPO, which could set a world record by surpassing Saudi Aramco’s $29.4B December debut; Ant plans to set Shanghai pricing on Oct 27 . link

Customs and Border Protection entered a contract to use Google Cloud technology to facilitate AI-powered surveillance of the US-Mexico border, according to documents viewed by The Intercept; the agency will use Google's tech alongside tech from Palmer Luckey's Anduril Industries to establish a virtual border wall; the agency secured the Google deal through third-party contracting firm Thundercat Technologies . link

Tesla ($394B market cap) Q3 beats with $8.77B revenue ($8.36B expected); $0.76 EPS (adjusted - $0.57 expected); $331M net income (GAAP); $579M energy storage sales; $581M services revenue; represents Tesla's fifth consecutive profitable quarter; the company delivered 139.3k vehicles; Tesla expects to deliver a total 500k vehicles in 2020 . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Capital Allocators Podcast Host Ted Seides about the origin of capital allocation, how endowments work, how they've become so large, how endowments evaluate new fund managers, how endowment managers view illiquidity, current extremes in the public markets, response to the pandemic and remote investing, more . link

Mobile-focused video-streaming service Quibi to shut down six-and-a-half months after launch, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal, who said Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors to inform them; the company, led by Meg Whitman, raised ~$1.75B pre-launch to produce original content that adapted to the screen orientations of mobile devices; the shutdown report follows reported pitches to sell content and the company; Katzenberg previously blamed the pandemic for Quibi's lackluster performance . link

Boston Dynamics will begin selling robotic arms for its dog-like Spot robot next year; the company had planned to launch the add-on this fall; the arm, currently in prototype, offers six degrees of freedom; will ship with a UI for remote or supervised autonomous control, and with basic abilities like opening doors and lifting items; Founder Marc Raibert said in June the company ultimately planned to sell a consumer version of Spot . link

Hewlett Packard Enterprise wins $160M award to build the LUMI supercomputer in Finland; the funding comes from the European Joint Undertaking EuroHPC, a supercomputing-focused collaboration between the European Union and federal governments; HPE expects 550 petaflops theoretical peak performance, which would set a new record . link

The Trump administration is finalizing AI regulation guidance for federal agencies, according to US CTO Michael Kratsios; the administration released a draft of ten principles for regulating AI in January; Kratsios noted an active public commenting period; President Trump created the American AI Initiative via executive order last year; the administration favors light-touch regulation to ensure US leadership in the space . link

ThredUp, a marketplace for secondhand clothing, confidentially files for IPO; the company has not yet determined the number of shares on offer or target pricing; Bloomberg previously reported ThredUp planned to debut early next year and raise $200M to $300M; PitchBook data indicates private investors last valued the company at $670M; raised $306M to date . link

The download for 2020-10-21 →


Synthetaic, a platform for creating datasets used in AI training, raises $3.5M seed led by Lupa Systems with participation from Betaworks Ventures and TitletownTech; the company offers tools to generate images for AI modeling; has raised $4.5M to date . link

VC firm Amplify Partners raises $375M for two funds; includes a $275M fund aimed at early-stage startups, and a $100M fund for growth-stage firms; portfolio companies include Primer.ai and Covariant . link

Quibi rolls out support for Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV; the short video service is available as an app on each platform; Quibi added AirPlay and Chromecast support shortly after it launched earlier this year . link

PayPal will add crypto coin support next year; the company will let users store bitcoin and other crypto tokens in a digital wallet; it will also allow customers and merchants to buy and sell goods in multiple cryptocurrencies; it’s unclear just which tokens will be supported but PayPal says its in consultation with several central banks . link

Montreal-based robotics startup YPC Technologies raises $1.8M seed led by Hike Ventures and Real Ventures with participation from Toyota AI Ventures and Uphill Capital; the company is developing robots for use in kitchens . link

TikTok updates its community guidelines, explicitly tackling white nationalism, male supremacy, and more; follows criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which has cited issues of white supremacists and using coded language on the platform; TikTok also says it will step up its efforts to remove anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic content . link

Facebook is working on a Nextdoor-like feature to connect users in local communities, reports Bloomberg; screenshots shared by Grigg Digital show the feature will be known as Neighborhood and will allow users to interact with their neighbors; Facebook has confirmed its testing Neighborhood in Calgary, Canada; unknown if or when it will roll out wider . link

China-based smartphone firm Vivo announces an expansion in Europe; the company is launching its flagship X51 5G (~$1k) in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain; it will also offer lower end Y70, Y20s, and Y11s . link

Esports content firm Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN) raises $26M Series A led by BITKRAFT Ventures and Nexstar Media Group; Nexstar will take a board seat; VENN offers a variety of video game content; as part of the arrangement it will broadcast some of its programming via Nexstar’s TV stations . link

Low-code app creation platform Retool (YC-W17) raises $50M on a $925M post-money valuation led by Sequoia Capital; the company offers drag-and-drop programming tools; has raised $76M to date . link

The US has offered financial support to Brazilian telcos so they can purchase 5G tech from Huawei’s competitors; the offer was made during a visit to Brazil by officials from the US National Security Council, the Development Finance Corporation, and US EXIM bank; in response, China suggests the US is trying to establish monopoly power over global comms networks; the US has cited Huawel as a national security concern . link

The Verge’s Dieter Bohn reviews iPhone 12; cites OLED display and great camera performance; notes MagSafe is promising; says 5G is not a reason to upgrade . link

Nilay Patel of The Verge reviews iPhone 12 Pro; cites a great camera and says Dolby Vision looks good; notes battery performance is not as good as iPhone 11 and suggests it’s only a marginal upgrade over last year’s model . link

Gowalla to relaunch as a gamified social AR app; once considered a Foursquare competitor, Gowalla sold to Facebook (acqui-hire) for $3M in 2011; Gowalla Founder Josh Williams has reacquired the brand and partnered with Co-Founder Patrick Piemonte, who previously founded an AR startup and worked as an interface designer at Apple . link

French TV networks TF1, France Télévisions, and M6 partner to launch streaming service Salto; provides 19 live stations and ad-free catch-up episodes; promises pre-air viewings, exclusive content, a dedicated kids section, more; starts at ~$8 per month . link

Microsoft says it has disabled 90 percent of systems working for the Trickbot botnet, which has targeted local government networks with ransomware and more; Microsoft recently obtained a court order enabling the company to take control of servers contributing to the botnet; Microsoft said the Russian-speaking gang behind the botnet could seek to disrupt the presidential election . link

Apple deploys HomePod Software v 14.1, adding support for intercom functionality between multiple HomePods, improved Siri support, the ability to send search results to an iPhone, more; Apple also released iOS 14.1 today, providing bug fixes and preparing for the launch of iPhone 12 . link

Snap ($41.8B market cap) Q3 beats: $679M revenue ($556M expected); $0.01 EPS (adjusted, -$0.05 expected); 249M daily active users (244M expected); $200M net loss, down from $227M net loss for the year-earlier period; for the fourth quarter, the company expects to reach 257M daily active users and 47 to 50 percent revenue growth, year-over-year . link

Netflix ($232B market cap) Q3 mixed: $6.44B revenue ($6.38 billion expected); $1.74 EPS ($2.14 expected); 2.2M net new subscribers compared to 6.8M in the year-earlier period (3.57M expected); the company expects 6M net new customers in the forth quarter . link

Sweden prohibits China's Huawei and ZTE from contributing to new installations for 5G networks, based on recommendations from the country’s military and security services; Sweden's telecom regulator gave companies until 2025 to remove Huawei and ZTE tech serving core network functions; Klas Friberg, who leads security service Säpo, said China posed one of Sweden's greatest threats by gathering intelligence and stealing tech . link

Google partners with Parallels to bring Windows apps to Chromebooks for enterprise customers; Google announced earlier this year Chrome OS would support running a full version of Windows within a virtual machine; the Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise app runs $70 per user; does not yet support full OS integrations, meaning the customer must use Windows apps within the virtual machine window . link

Amazon launches Shopper Panel (iOS, Android), a program through which consumers sell data on their purchases outside Amazon; participants must send photos of at least ten receipts per month to Amazon and answer questions about ads, brands, and experiences; Amazon will provide cash and other rewards; currently invite-only and limited to the US . link

Amazon opens early access for its Luna game-streaming service, which will run $6 per month during the program; the company has not disclosed the launch price; the service features publisher channels to which users can subscribe for additional fees, much like Prime Video Channels; Amazon said it had granted access to a small group out of the hundreds of thousands who applied and will continue sending invites on a rolling basis . link

Microsoft researchers develop a device-agnostic gaze-tracking system that works with off-the-shelf webcams, more; they plan to create custom neural network architectures to improve performance; with Windows 10, Microsoft launched Eye Control, enabling users to control a cursor and on-screen keyboard with their eyes; the researchers said neural network predictions would likely enable eye-based control of virtually any computing device . link

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the company will change how it does business in CA if Proposition 22 doesn't pass on Election Day; the ballot measure, backed by Lyft, Doordash, and other companies that rely on gig workers, would exempt some firms from a law that seeks to reclassify such drivers as employees, ensuring minimum wage, more; Khosrowshahi said he didn't know where Uber would operate in the state or at what scale . link

The Department of Justice files an antitrust suit against Google, accusing the company of engaging in anticompetitive practices to maintain monopolies in search and search advertising; the department alleged Google used exclusionary business agreements (default search contracts with phone makers, browsers, etc) to keep competitors from gaining traction; the complaint also cites exclusivity deals for pre-installed search apps; 11 state attorneys general have joined the case . link

The download for 2020-10-20 →


Data analytics company Splunk ($33.2B market cap) has acquired app monitoring service Plumbr and UX firm Rigor; terms undisclosed; Splunk has added Plumbr and Rigor to its Observability Suite offering, which launches today . link

Ireland-based edtech firm LearnUpon raises $56M from Summit Partners; Antony Clavel of Summit joins the board; the company offers workplace learning tools to enterprise customers; has raised $57.5M to date . link

Boston-based e-commerce company Perch raises $123.5M led by Spark Capital with participation from Tectonic Ventures and Boston Seed; Perch acquires and operates D2C companies that sell via Amazon; has raised $130M to date . link

China-based ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing plans to launch an IPO in 2021, according to Reuters sources; the firm will list on the Hong Kong stock exchange and seek a valuation of more than $60B; it’s in talks with several investment banks about the listing; Didi is also considering another investment round ahead of the IPO .Update: Didi says the Reuters report is incorrect; the firm notes it has not set a schedule for an IPO . link

Nokia is seeking an injunction against the sale of certain Lenovo products in Germany; Nokia wants to block the sale of various PCs, laptops, and more after a Munich court upheld its control of H.264 compression tech; Lenovo has said Nokia has violated its obligation to license H.264 under fair terms . link

ShopUp, a Bangladesh e-commerce service, raises $22.5M Series A led by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures with participation from Veon Ventures, Speedinvest, and Lonsdale Capital; the company offers a B2B procurement platform for distributors, wholesalers, and merchants; has raised $27.4M to date . link

Chipmaker SK Hynix acquires Intel’s NAND memory unit for $9B; Intel says the proceeds from the sale will be used to invest in 5G tech, AI, and edge computing; regulatory approval is expected by late 2021, with full divestment of assets and IP to complete by 2025 . link

LG’s 65-inch OLED R rollable TV launches for $87k; represents the company’s first rolling TV; the tech was initially showcased at CES in 2018; OLED R is available at seven electronics stores in South Korea . link

Google discontinues Nest Secure alarm system; the home security setup launched in 2017, initially priced at $500 (later dropped to $400); Google says it will continue to support devices . link

iPhone 12 models will initially not support 5G while operating in Dual SIM mode, reports MacRumors; Apple plans to add full 5G support later this year . link

Google Cloud launches preview for its first service dedicated to the mortgage industry: Lending Doc AI, based on Document AI; uses machine learning to automate document reviews and speed up the mortgage process; supports regulatory and compliance requirements . link

Google updates Assistant for displays, including third-party products, with a new home screen, an automatic dark mode, support for multiple calendars, more; Google is bringing auto-framing and other Google Meet features to more displays (previously limited to Duo on the Nest Hub Max) . link

IBM ($112B market cap) Q3 meets with $17.6B in revenue, down 2.65 percent year-over-year; $2.58 EPS (non-GAAP); the company recently revealed it would focus on its hybrid cloud business; IBM's cloud and cognitive software unit generated $5.6B, up seven percent; business services generated $4B, down five percent; tech services saw $6.5B, down four percent; systems generated $1.3B, down 15 percent . link

Verizon partners with Microsoft and Nokia to offer private 5G networks for businesses; Microsoft is running Azure services on Verizon's 5G network and using AI to analyze machine data to automate operations; the first customer under the partnership is logistics company Ice Mobility, which is using the tech to monitor packing and eliminate a QC process . link

Facebook updates its Messenger API to support management of Instagram communications; the company recently updated Messenger to support cross-communications with Instagram; the API supports photos, URL links, more . link

Facebook unveils open-source AI system for language translation, M2M-100; supports direct translation between any pair of languages out of the ~100 supported; does not use the traditional approach of translating to English as an intermediary, and therefore claims improved performance . link

Russian military intelligence planned a cyberattack to disrupt this summer's Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, according to the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, which worked in conjunction with US agencies; Russia allegedly targeted the Game's organizers and others for reconnaissance before the pandemic-related postponement of the Olympics; the Justice Department recently charged Russian intelligence officers with cyber-crimes . link

Intel ($231B market cap) in advanced talks to sell its NAND memory-chip unit to South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix for ~$10B, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; details of the assets involved are unknown, but sources said the companies could announce a deal as soon as Monday . link

Apple launches the Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers; last year, the company invited 42 women-led organizations to the Entrepreneur Camp for Female Founders and Developers, which enabled participants to learn from Apple engineers and business leaders; that program will continue this year; the company expects to begin virtual sessions for Black Founders and Developers on Feb 16 . link

Tesla reduces warranty support for used Model S and Model X vehicles, Electrek reports; the company previously offered a two- to four-year warranty but has reduced that to one year or 10k miles; Tesla also provides a new-car policy with additional protections for used versions of its more recent models; Electrek recently reported Tesla had done away with its seven-day, no-questions-asked return policy . link

Verizon acquires assets from KY-based rural provider Bluegrass Cellular; terms undisclosed; expected to close late this year or early next year, pending FCC approval; Bluegrass serves 210k customers across 34 counties in its home state; in 2012, Verizon leased spectrum to Bluegrass as part of the former's LTE in Rural America program; in September Verizon announced it would acquire Tracfone in a $6B deal . link

Apple launches Apple Music TV, a 24/7 video livestream available via Apple Music and Apple TV; features curated music videos, live shows, guests, more; the channel debuted with a countdown of Apple Music's 100 most-streamed songs of all time; the company plans to premiere new videos every Friday; initially limited to the US . link

Networking and cybersecurity company Juniper Networks ($7.4B market cap) acquires dynamic routing company 128 Technology for $450M; 128 enables routers to adapt to the needs of individual apps and services; Juniper plans to integrate 128's products into the WAN Assurance software, and to use 128's AI-powered tech to launch AIOps, self-driving networks, more; previously raised $97M . link

The download for 2020-10-19 →


Indian carrier Reliance Jio plans to launch a 5G device starting at less than ~$70, reports The Economic Times; an unnamed official says the company plans to eventually reduce the price to as low as ~$34 . link

NASA selects Nokia to help build a communications network on the moon; Nokia is partnering with TX-based space company Intuitive Machines to deliver the necessary equipment via a moon lander in 2022; the network is designed to self-configure and will offer LTE coverage in preparation for the return of humans in 2024 . link

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the nation’s scientists to speed up the development of quantum computing; in a speech, Xi said it’s important for the country to make strides in quantum tech so it can be used for communications and more . link

Purported images of Samsung’s next Galaxy S-series smartphone leak; Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka OnLeaks) has posted renders for the supposed successor to the Galaxy S20; the device features three back cameras and is estimated to have a 6.2-inch display; expected to launch in Jan 2021 .Update: Hemmerstoffer also shares images of a purported high-end Ultra device; features a curved display that is between 6.7-inches and 6.9-inches; seemingly also has four lenses on the rear .Purported Galaxy S21/S30 renders: link

Google announces its Trusted Contacts app will shut down on Dec 1; launched in late 2016, it let users set specific contacts such as family members so they could keep check of their location at any time; Google is encouraging users to implement real time location sharing via Google Maps as an alternative . link

Toshiba says it’s aiming to generate $3B from quantum key distribution (QKD) security tech by 2030; QKD promises to use the nature of quantum physics to enable cryptographic keys that are impossible to hack; the tech relies upon quantum computing, which is still at a nascent stage . link

China’s securities regulator has approved Ant Group’s $35B dual IPO, according to sources for Nikkei Asian Review; the watchdog launched a probe into a potential conflict of interest, but is allowing the listing to move forward; Ant Group has scheduled a meeting with officials from the Hong Kong stock exchange, signaling the IPO could occur as soon as this month . link

Microsoft exec Marc Brown exits the firm; Brown, who had been with the company for more than 20 years, oversaw multiple M&A deals including the acquisitions of LinkedIn, ZeniMax, and Nokia’s mobile device unit; Microsoft is yet to name his replacement . link

The download for 2020-10-18 →


Tesla discontinues seven-day return policy, according to an Electrek source; the web page for the policy is no longer active and redirects to a more general support page; previously, Tesla promoted a link

The UK's Information Commissioner’s Office to fine British Airways ~$26M for a data breach affecting 400k customers; the office had planned a fine of more than $200M, but reduced it due to the pandemic's impact on the airline's sales, as well as British Airways' efforts to address the issue . link

Data management company Cribl raises $35M led by Sequoia; the company's LogStream platform ingests data and routes it to various monitoring and analytics tools; the platform also ensures data is shaped, enriched, more; claims 60-plus customers, including Autodesk and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; raised $46M to date . link

Zora, a crypto-based marketplace for limited-edition goods, raises $2M seed led by Kindred Ventures; creators can list products, represented by tokens, and set minimum and maximum prices; other members can buy fractional interest, pre-purchase, more; creators take value from secondary sales . link

Google launches v4.1 of the Android Studio IDE; features a new database inspector, improved support for TensorFlow Lite (and on-device machine learning), the ability to run the Android Emulator within the IDE, more; the update also fixes ~2.4k bugs . link

Google is rolling out software changes to some Maps users to make way for Driving Mode, according to XDA Developers; the company announced the new feature at I/O 2019, and later said the Assistant update would replace Android Auto's on-phone mode; it isn't clear if the company is running test or preparing for a broader rollout . link

Broadvoice, a cloud-based VoIP provider serving SMBs, exposes 350M customer records including voicemail transcripts, according to Comparitech; Broadvoice serves law firms, doctors, more; Comparitech found names, dates of birth, medical information, and more by accessing an unprotected Elasticsearch database . link

Tesla deploys software update increasing the range of Model Y vehicles; the company said update 2020.40.7 improved the efficiency of the powertrain and the HVAC system; Tesla updated its website for new Model Y vehicles indicating new ranges, with the Performance model's range at 303 miles (up from 291) and the Long Range Dual Motor's range at 325 (up from 316) . link

Facebook's 2017 News Feed algorithm change, intended to reduce the number of political stories, unfairly disadvantaged liberal resources, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; policy executives, reportedly worried about how changes could impact right-leaning news outlets, instructed engineers to adjust the changes, resulting in the restriction of left-leaning sources; Facebook said it didn't intend to impact individual publishers . link

FCC asks Justice Department and other agencies if China Unicom, a state-owned telecommunications operator, poses national security risks with its US operations; the FCC authorized the company and other Chinese telecoms to operate in the US more than a decade ago, and earlier this year demanded they justify continued authorization; the FCC seeks information about how much control the Chinese government has over Unicom, more . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with founders from LAUNCH Accelerator's Cohort 18 about top lessons from the program, fundraising during a pandemic, the importance of monthly updates, more; features Fluent Forever CEO Gabe Wyner, SupportPay CEO Sheri Atwood, and v.one CEO Jeremy Redman . link

Alphabet, Facebook, and Twitter CEOs to appear virtually before the Senate Commerce Committee for a hearing about whether the companies unfairly target conservative voices on their social platforms; in an official announcement about the hearing, the committee said the hearing would examine the unintended consequences of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act . link

NBCUniversal and multiple PE firms approached Disney to acquire Hulu this year but Disney rebuffed them, according to Bloomberg sources; Disney reportedly rejected Hulu's proposal for a $4B international expansion, in part because Disney previously agreed to buy Comcast's one-third stake in Hulu in 2024 at an undetermined price of at least $5.8B; Disney executives reportedly worried such an investment would inflate the price of Comcast's shares . link

Uber to establish joint venture with South Korea's SK Telecom; the latter will spin out its T Map Mobility maps and ride-hailing unit; Uber will invest $50M in the spinoff, a service claiming 200k drivers and 750k riders per month; Uber and SK Telecom will establish a separate ride-hailing joint venture, and Uber will invest $100M for a 51-percent stake; the companies expect both businesses to launch in the first half of next year . link

The download for 2020-10-17 →


Nextdoor is considering options for a public listing with a target valuation between $4B and $5B, according to Bloomberg sources; Pitchbook data indicates private investors last valued the company at $2.2B in September 2019; the company reportedly is open to an IPO, a direct listing, or a SPAC merger; Nextdoor reportedly rejected earlier SPAC interest to pursue growth, which it has attained during the pandemic; raised $455M to date . link

Uber is considering strategic options for its Elevate business, according to Axios sources; the unit ran a helicopter service in New York City, now suspended due to the pandemic, and plans to establish a network of autonomous taxis; Uber reportedly seeks strategic partnerships for Elevate or a partial sale; Uber previously sold parts of its unprofitable freight and self-driving units . link

Los Angeles-based PearPop enables TikTok creators to sell shared screen time with fans; the software handles bidding and Stripe-based payments; the company is nearing 25k users less than a month after launch and expects to reach 100k within the next three months; PearPop plans to raise additional seed funding after hitting that milestone . link

Twitter reverses stance on sharing a New York Post article about Hunter Biden's data leak; Facebook and Twitter prohibited users from posting or sharing links to the article on Wednesday; Twitter cited the publishing of hacked information and doxxing; on Friday, Twitter lifted the ban following pressure from Republicans arguing the block was censorship . link

Hacking group APT31, allegedly linked to China's government, has used malicious code on GitHub to transmit files to and from targeted networks, Google reports; Google didn't disclose the details of any attacks, but said it had shared findings with political campaigns and the FBI; the hackers have used prompts disguised as a McAfee installer to trick users into installing malware that used Dropbox for command and control . link

All-In Podcast E10Jason, Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks, and David Friedberg discuss how Hunter Biden's computer data surfaced, Facebook and Twitter's decision to limit the spread of the story, the details of Section 230 and how it impacts the publisher vs distributor debate, CA Props 13 and 15, Trump beating COVID, Amy Coney Barrett, Biden's lead in the polls, more . link

Future, a $150-per-month subscription app that pairs users with fitness coaches for virtual sessions, raises $24M Series B led by Trustbridge Partners; CEO Rishi Mandal said the company tripled its growth rate in recent months due to the pandemic-related drop in physical gym use; aims to have 1k coaches on the platform by early next year; raised $35.5M to date . link

Instagram says it will take additional steps to ensure creators disclose when they're compensated for posts after a UK watchdog investigation found the company failed to protect consumers from being misled; Instagram will report to sponsors when it discovers inadequately labeled sponsored posts and plans to roll out relevant tools for creators over the next year . link

OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei departs after seven years with the firm, says he will take time off before pursuing his next project; Android Central speculated Pei stepped away due to a power struggle with Co-Founder Pete Lau, who also serves in an SVP role at Oppo, which, like OnePlus, is owned by BBK Group . link

EU competition enforcer extends deadline for a decision on Google's $2.1B Fitbit acquisition from Dec 23 to Jan 8; Google reportedly modified its concessions after the European Commission solicited feedback about an earlier proposal, in which Google agreed to restrict the use of Fitbit user data for ads, allow third parties to use Fitbit user data (with users' consent), and facilitate third-party wearable interaction with Android . link

Data backup company Datto sets initial IPO price range at $24 to $27 per share, implying a valuation of ~$4.3B; Vista Equity Partners acquired Datto for $1.5B in 2017; the profitable company has achieved a $500M ARR - based on its revenue during the first half of the year, which was up 16 percent from the first half of last year . link

FOSSA, which provides a platform for managing the use of open-source code at scale, raises $23.2M Series B for a $100M-plus valuation led by Bain Capital, Canvas Management, and Costanoa; automatically analyzes code for dependencies, license compliance, security issues, more; raised ~$34M to date . link

The download for 2020-10-16 →


Google announces Smart Fill for Sheets; similar to Gmail’s Smart Compose, the feature suggests data for cells based on info from elsewhere in the spreadsheet; Smart Fill can also pull publicly available data from Google’s Knowledge Graph; rolling out to Google Workspace users from Nov 5; unknown if or when it will be available to free Sheets users . link

Apple’s latest iPad Air is now available for pre-order with a shipping date of Oct 23; Apple announced the device last month but did not disclose availability; iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are also available to preorder from today, ships Oct 23 . link

China imported ~53.7B integrated circuits (ICs) last month, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs; the figure is 12 percent up on August and represents an all-time high; China brought in 387.2B ICs over the first nine months of 2020, up 23 percent on the same period of 2019; Gartner analyst Sheng Linghai says China is stockpiling chip components because of US trade sanctions and global supply chain concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic . link

Samsung adds Google Assistant support to its 2020 smart TV lineup; users will be able to activate Assistant by pressing on the TV’s remote control; the features is rolling out now as an OTA update in the US; it’s set to be available in other countries soon . link

Investor Josh Buckley is raising $150M for an early-stage fund, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Buckley Ventures, in which he serves as the solo GP, already has commitments of ~$100M; Buckley previously raised $50M for a separate fund; he co-founded Mino Games in 2011 . link

Ant Group is lifting its IPO target valuation from $250B to $280B, according to Bloomberg sources; the company has seen strong demand ahead of the dual listing which is expected to raise as much as $35B; follows reports the listing may be delayed because of a probe by China's securities watchdog . link

Foxconn announces MIH, an open platform for the development and manufacturing of EV hardware and software; Foxconn Chairman Young Liu says MIH will serve as a framework upon which vehicle manufacturers can design and build their own products; Liu says the first MIH-based cars will appear in two years; also suggests by as soon as 2025 10 percent of EVs could be MIH vehicles . link

Sony announces $5k Spatial Reality Display, a 15.6-inch 4K device for showing 3D link

Twitter adjusts its policy around the sharing of hacked materials after blocking a New York Post story; the company says it will no longer restrict such material unless it has been posted by the hackers themselves or people they’re working with; the company will also add labels to such tweets to provide additional context . link

Uber announces a ride-hailing partnership with South Korean telco SK Telecom; as part of the arrangement SK Telecom will separate its current taxi-hailing operations into a new unit known as T Map Mobility; Uber, which also operates a taxi service in the country, will invest a total of $150M in the venture, taking a 51 percent stake; SK Telecom will hold the rest; T Map is expected to launch in 2021 . link

Google Cloud signs a five-year agreement to provide the US Energy Department with a range of cloud services; terms undisclosed; Google says the arrangement will include using machine learning to identify predictive maintenance and more . link

Twitter suffers a widespread outage; many users reported issues sending tweets and refreshing their timelines; Twitter says it has not been hacked, though the cause of the issue remains unclear .Update: President Trump falsely claims Twitter shut down its platform to stop the spread of an unverified New York Post story about Hunter Biden and other negative news; Trump made the claim in a tweet that also included a link to an article from a publisher that describes itself as a satirical website .Update: Twitter says its service was down due to an inadvertent change to its backend systems; Downdetector.com shows ~55k users reported issues with accessing the platform . link

Robinhood finds ~2k accounts impacted by recent attack in which hackers stole customers' funds, according to a Bloomberg source; the company previously said the hackers compromised users' email accounts outside of the Robinhood platform, but some victims reject that explanation; others said the criminals bypassed two-factor authentication . link

Dropbox announces permanent remote work model, says it will launch Dropbox Studios, using existing offices and flexible spaces for in-person collaborations and meetings; the company said it would open studios in every city where it maintains office space . link

FCC Chair Ajit Pai says the agency will seek to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, under which internet companies enjoy protections against liability for user-generated content; the Trump administration has sought to weaken those protections, arguing that social media companies show anti-conservative bias in their moderation practices; senators plan to subpoena Jack Dorsey over a relevant dispute . link

Apple files patent application for sliding, expandable, display; the company described a flexible OLED display that folds into the device, and a similar system using a rigid display; the application details a retractable mechanism allowing the display's surface area to expand for certain applications . link

Judge who issued preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from banning WeChat from US app stores and from prohibiting US transactions with WeChat says she is unlikely to lift the injunction; she said the government hadn't provided any new evidence of threats WeChat posed to national security; she previously said the ban posed serious questions about First Amendment rights . link

Google rolls out multiple search-related updates, including improved AI-powered responses to broad and specific questions, better typo analysis, the integration of data from Open Data Commons, more advanced linking to timestamps in videos, more; Assistant can identify hummed melodies; Lens can translate and read book portions aloud, more . link

Short-terms rentals company Kasa Living raises $30M Series B led by Ribbit Capital; the company rents out vacant apartments and hotel rooms; currently lists 1k rooms across 35 cities; claims 100k bookings per year generate ~$30M in sales; raised $50M to date . link

Fivestars, which offers payments and marketing software for small businesses, raises $52.5M in debt and equity; integrates with existing POS systems; Fivestars' automated marketing system cross-promotes between client companies; raised ~$145M to date . link

This Week in Startups: Rising Stars of SaaS E1Jason speaks with Steven Raucher, CEO of integrated emergency response system RapidDeploy; the conversation covers how RapidDeploy integrates SMS and video, the current state of 911 systems, the benefits of IP-based systems, why 911 centers are perfect for SaaS disruption, the origins and inspiration for the company, the importance of passion in work, more . link

CA's DMV permits GM-owned autonomous driving tech company Cruise to test fully driverless cars on public roads; the company plans to deploy vehicles without safety drivers by year's end; Cruise is the fifth company to obtain such a permit following Waymo, Nuro, Zoox, and AutoX; 60 companies have permits to test autonomous vehicles on public CA roads with safety drivers present . link

Google to make Chat free for consumers, allow Hangouts users to migrate in the first half of next year; Google will automatically migrate conversations, contacts, and history from Hangouts to Chat; will discontinue Hangouts with Google Fi, which enables calls and message management within Hangouts, early next year; the Messages app will gain those features . link

Heavy-duty EV company Proterra raises $200M led by Cowen Sustainable Investment Advisors; the company develops electric buses, battery systems, and other relevant tech; plans to expand into charging and energy management tech for fleets; raised $482M to date . link

YouTube bans conspiracy theory content that targets individuals or seeks to justify violence; the company expanded its hate and harassment policies to address topics such as QAnon and pizzagate, both of which accuse government officials of engaging in sex trafficking and more . link

Senate Judiciary Committee plans to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey after his platform prevented users from publishing and sharing links to two New York Post articles accusing Joe Biden of corruption; Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Twitter's actions represented election interference; Dorsey said Twitter's decision to inhibit the spread of the articles without providing context was unacceptable . link

AI-powered hearing aid company Whisper emerges, announces $35M Series B led by Quiet Ventures; the company's software learns from and automatically adjusts to different audio environments, enabling wearers to only hear the voice of the person talking to them in a noisy restaurant, etc; Whisper charges a monthly subscription over three years rather than up-front payment . link

The download for 2020-10-15 →


Menlo Ventures closes its latest early-stage fund at $500M; targets Series A and Series B startups with investments of $8M to $15M; the company notes it will also consider some seed rounds; longtime Menlo managing director Mark Siegel will not be involved in the fund . link

Stripe acquires Nigeria-based fintech firm Paystack; terms undisclosed, but TechCrunch sources say the deal is worth more than $200M; the company offers payments integration tech to online and brick-and-mortar retailers; raised $11.7M to date . link

European VC firm Brighteye Ventures announces the initial close of its second fund at $54M; it expects to close the second stage next year; Brighteye targets seed and Series A edtech startups, with commitments of up to $5M; the company currently has $112M under management . link

South Korea-based audio startup Cochlear.ai raises $2M Series A led by Smilegate Investment with participation from Shinhan Capital and NAU IB Capital; the company is developing audio recognition software that aims to identify a wide range of sounds; has raised $2.7M to date . link

Los Angeles-based podcast production company Qcode raises $6.4M led by Sonos; the startup produces original scripted podcasts including “The Left Right Game” and “The Edge of Sleep” . link

India-based fintech firm Paytm has launched an app store within its own Android app; dubbed Mini App Store, it provides access to progressive web apps; Paytm, which charges partners a maximum 2 percent commission, claims to have attracted interest from 5k developers since it launched earlier this month; Paytm president Madhur Deora recently criticized Google's control of Android . link

Barnes and Noble says it has suffered a data breach and acknowledges some customer info may have been stolen; the company notes the hackers did not get access to financial data; Barnes and Noble temporarily took its servers offline to try to mitigate against the issue; the move has meant customers have been unable to download ebooks; the system has since been partially restored . link

TikTok has asked a US judge to block the second planned stage of the Trump administration’s ban against the app; in a court filing, TikTok says President Trump’s edict is unconstitutional; Trump’s order was set to roll out in two phases, first preventing downloads of TikTok from app stores, and then stopping US-based firms from transacting with the company; the first stage was temporarily blocked last month . link

The We Company plans to revert to its former name WeWork, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters; the firm, under former CEO Adam Neumann, rebranded as The We Company in Jan 2019, but continued using the WeWork brand for its office space business . link

YouTube starts blocking content that contains misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines; the platform says it will take action against videos that contradict advice from local health authorities or the World Health Organization; YouTube already removes content that makes unproven claims about the spread of the virus, promotes unproven treatments, and other such falsehoods . link

Khosla Ventures plans to raise $1.1B for its next fund, according to SEC filings; portfolio companies include Affirm, DoorDash, Impossible Foods, and others . link

Beamable, which offers Unity-based tools enabling game developers to integrate social and e-commerce features, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; CEO Jon Radoff said the company would not shut down or dismiss workers; in its filing, Beamable claimed $3.4M in liabilities and $638k in assets . link

London-based EV company Arrival, which manufactures zero-emission city buses and commercial vans, raises $118M from BlackRock-managed funds; a source for The Wall Street Journal said the deal valued Arrival at $3.5B; the company claims its vehicles travel 300 miles per charge; it currently has a deal with UPS to deliver 10k vans in the US and Europe by the end of 2024 . link

Amazon warehouse workers who are suing the company say Amazon has reinstated pre-pandemic productivity quotas despite promising the court it wouldn't punish employees for taking extra time to wash their hands and socially distance; Amazon did stop providing productivity feedback in March, but, the workers say, reversed its stance in the lead up to Prime Day . link

Zoom launches its OnZoom events platform and marketplace in general availability; enables hosts to operate one-time or repeating events and sell tickets via the marketplace; the company plans to add the ability to collect donations through events via partner Pledgeling; Zoom also launched Zapps, enabling third-party app integrations; launch partners include Atlassian, SurveyMonkey, and Zendesk . link

This Week in Startups: Emergency Pod on iPhone 12 EventJason reacts to Apple's iPhone 12 unveiling, says this is the first year he won't be buying the latest model; he questions why Apple would stop including earphones and a power adaptor with the iPhone, but not switch from Lightning to the standard USB-C port; Jason says the design is uninspired, but likes the new MagSafe feature; he also notes the iPhone's use of LiDAR will drive down the cost of sensors . link

Twitter follows Facebook in banning content denying the Holocaust; the company's policy doesn't specifically address the denial of violent events, but a spokeswoman said attempts to deny or diminish violent events violate Twitter's hateful conduct policy; the company also noted it wouldn't tolerate content that glorified or praised historical acts of violence and genocide . link

Vivun, which develops AI-powered pre-sales platform Hero, raises $18M Series A led by Accel; provides a funnel feature for managing deals, personalized alerts designed to move deals forward, team analytics, more; integrates with Slack, Zendesk, others; Vivun's workforce grew from 10 to 30 over the past year; raised $21M to date . link

State Department submits proposal to add China-based Ant Group to the Entity List, according to Reuters sources; would prohibit US transactions with the company; some in the Trump administration fear allowing US investors to participate in Ant's coming dual IPO (reportedly delayed due to a Chinese watchdog investigation) could expose them to fraud, or their banking data to China's government . link

Brazil-based communications platform Take Blip raises $100M Series A from Warburg Pincus; the company enables its business clients to communicate with customers via multiple messaging apps; also provides chatbot tools; Take Blip plans M&A and will expand operations in the US, Europe, and Mexico; expects $40M in revenue this year . link

M1 Finance, which provides an app for investing, borrowing, and spending money, raises $45M Series C led by Left Lane Capital, which also led M1's $33M Series B in June; the company has gone from $1B to $2B in assets under management since February; M1 previously said it planned to generate revenue representing one percent of its assets under management; raised $98M to date . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Running Tide CEO Marty Odlin about how his company is addressing the climate crisis by sequestering carbon, the company's roadmap, how to fund at-scale carbon removal, consumer behavior shifts in response to climate change, lessons from the pandemic, thoughts on nuclear energy, more . link

NASA announces link

NY's State Department of Financial Services (DFS) publishes report on July 15 Twitter hack, recommends social platforms be designated as systemically important and have a dedicated regulator; authorities have charged three people for their alleged roles in the attack, which saw high-profile accounts hijacked and used to urge users to send cryptocurrency to the perpetrators . link

Zoom announces it will start rolling out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) next week, initially as a technical preview; hosts need to activate E2EE in their account settings and opt-in at the start of each meeting; participants can't join an E2EE-protected meeting until they activate the feature in their account settings; during the first phase of the launch, hosting and joining an E2EE call will disable some features, like breakout rooms . link

The download for 2020-10-14 →


Edtech startup Engageli emerges from stealth, raises $14.5M seed from Benchmark and others; the company is offering a video chat platform aimed at higher education; co-founded by Dan Avida, Serge Plotkin, Daphne Koller, and Jamie Nacht Farrell . link

Japanese space firm Astroscale Holdings raises $51M Series E led by AStart; the company is developing tech to remove human-made debris that is orbiting Earth; Astroscale has raised $191M to date . link

Cloud infrastructure firm Accurics raises $20M seed and Series A from ClearSky, Intel Capital, and others; provides software tools for handling data center misconfigurations and more . link

Toronto-based fintech firm Wealthsimple raises ~$87M on a ~$1B post-money valuation led by TCV with participation from Greylock, Meritech, and others; the company offers a wealth management app with investment tools and more; has raised ~$313M to date . link

Apple will offer three months of free Apple Arcade access to those who purchase a new device after Oct 22; applies to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV; unclear whether it is available to those who previously took advantage of the 30-day free trial; Apple Arcade costs $5 per month as a standalone subscription . link

Malaysia-based online classified ads company Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV) raises $67M from Adevinta; the company will use the money to finance three takeovers; FDV is acquiring proptech business Fincaraiz, along with classifieds firms Avito and Tayara; FDV trades on the Australian Securities Exchange . link

Twitter starts taking down dozens of accounts falsely claiming to be Black people who support President Trump; some of the accounts had more than 10k followers; they had collectively amassed 265k retweets and mentions; many of the accounts were registered in 2017, but only recently became more active . link

iPhone 12 models will only support mmWave 5G in the US; models sold in other countries will only have access to sub-6GHz 5G networks; sub-6GHz is often slower than mmWave, but it can travel further . link

SoftBank bought back ~$380M worth of shares last month, according to a regulatory filing; the company has repurchased stock worth ~$9.5B this year; the company previously laid out plans to buy back another ~$14B worth of shares, but it may not complete the move before the end of March, the close of its fiscal year . link

Huawei is in talks to sell parts of its Honor smartphone unit for up to ~$3.7B, according to Reuters sources; the firm is looking to sell the Honor name, R&D operations, and supply chain business; it is in talks with distributor Digital China, TCL, and Xiaomi; Huawei is shifting focus to its eponymous smartphone brand as it adjusts to US trade sanctions that have made it harder to procure chips . link

Cybersecurity firm McAfee plans to raise as much as $814M via a return to the public markets; the company is offering 6M shares at $19 to $22 apiece; the offering will value the company at up to $9.5B . link

Dropbox says it will make remote working standard across the company; the firm notes it will eventually establish so-called Dropbox Studios in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Dublin for teams to connect in person; comes as the firm extends its mandatory work-from-home order through June 2021 . link

Netflix stops offering 30-day free trials to new subscribers across all its markets; the firm ended free trials in select markets in March 2019; Netflix notes users can still cancel at at any time . link

Facebook updates Messenger with Instagram cross-communications, more; new visual features include chat themes and custom reactions; soon, the company will add selfie stickers and a new vanish mode, which causes chats to disappear . link

Google prohibits employees from speaking about antitrust issues and conducts compliance courses to ensure workers know what they can discuss and how, according to sources for The New York Times; the company reportedly adds its legal department to potentially dangerous email conversations to establish attorney-client privilege - to prevent regulators from obtaining such communications . link

AMC Theaters ($387M market cap) warns investors that, without an increase in ticket sales, the company could run out of money by year's end; with many major releases delayed until next year and theaters operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing, AMC is considering selling assets, starting joint ventures, and renegotiating theater leases . link

In some locations, solar is the cheapest source of electricity in history, according to the International Energy Agency's latest World Energy Outlook report; this year's report is the first, when calculating solar costs, to take into consideration government policies that reduce the costs of solar installations; in most of the world, solar farms are more affordable than new coal and gas plants . link

Snap says Snapchat will be one of the first apps to use the LiDAR scanner in the coming iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max for AR; the phones also use the scanner for better low-light photography, more; Apple displayed a LiDAR-powered Snapchat Lens during its iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max unveiling (screenshot below) . link

Insight Partners-owned supply chain orchestration platform E2open nears deal to list publicly through SPAC CC Neuberger Principal Holdings I, according to Reuters sources; the deal reportedly values E2open at $2.5B, debt included; the SPAC raised $414M with an April IPO, and said it would seek acquisition targets in the fintech and business services sectors . link

Apiiro, which provides a Code Risk Platform that identifies and resolves code security issues during the development process, raises $35M Series A from Kleiner Perkins and Greylock; the platform also analyzes developer behaviors to identify risks . link

Apple will ship models from its iPhone 12 lineup without earphones or power adapters; all will include a Lightning-to-USB-C cable; the company attributed the decision to reduced environmental impact; Apple will no longer ship earphones or power adapters with iPhone 11, XR, or SE . link

Facebook bans anti-vaccination ads; follows the company's banning of Holocaust denial content; Facebook previously took a laissez-faire stance on both issues in terms of moderation, but did ban misinformation regarding coronavirus; the new anti-vaccination policy prohibits ads that discourage people from getting vaccinations or portray vaccines as unsafe or useless . link

Apple announces the $99 Home Pod Mini; the 3.3-inch-tall device features one main driver, two passive radiators, and an acoustic waveguide; the S5 chip analyzes audio for processing 180 times per second; will support third-party streaming services including Pandora, Amazon Music, and iHeartRadio, but not Spotify; the company also announced a new Intercom feature for homes with multiple Home Pods; displays messages in text on other Apple products . link

Verizon launches 5G Nationwide, which relies on millimeter-wave small cells; the carrier's earlier 5G Ultra Wideband network, which is available in parts of 30 cities and will launch in another 30 by year's end, has a limited broadcasting range, and users can experience connectivity issues; Nationwide will provide better connectivity, but potentially slower speeds; Verizon is using existing 4G towers as 4G/5G hybrid towers for Nationwide . link

Apple announces the iPhone 12 Pro with 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display and the 12 Pro Max with 6.7-inch display; both support 5G and feature LiDAR scanners; four camera lenses: wide, ultra-wide, telephoto, and front; shoots Dolby Vision, HDR, 4K video at 60 fps; features Deep Fusion photo processing and Apple ProRAW, which combines image processing and computational photography with a RAW format; coming in silver, graphite, gold, blue; Pro starts at $1k; Pro Max starts at $1.1k . link

Apple unveils the iPhone 12 with 5G and a 6.1-inch OLED display supporting Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and HLG; runs the 5nm A14 Bionic processor; features a new MagSafe panel on the back for Qi charging and attaching other accessories, like a new magnetic wallet; a new MagSafe charger works with iPhone and Watch; iPhone 12 starts at $799; available in black, white, blue, red, and green; features flat sides .Apple also announced the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini with all the features of the iPhone 12 but a smaller form factor; it's the smallest, thinnest, and lighted 5G phone in the world; starts at $699 . link

The download for 2020-10-13 →


Vungle acquires fellow mobile adtech firm AlgoLift; terms undisclosed; Los Angeles-based AlgoLift offers marketing intelligence tools; the company’s founders and entire team will join Vungle . link

Israel-based cybersecurity firm Cyberpion raises $8.2M seed led by Team8 Capital and Hyperwise Ventures; the company offers enterprise tools to protect against DNS takeovers, code injections, and more . link

France-based commercial UAV company Delair announces plans to spin out Alteia, its AI-powered computer vision unit; starting next year, Alteia will offer image analysis tools to enterprise customers; Alteia has partnerships with Microsoft and GE Digital . link

Ad-supported streaming service Pluto acquires short-term rights to Netflix Original show “Narcos”; terms undisclosed; “Narcos” is owned by French company Gaumont, but it has been exclusive to Netflix in the US until now; Pluto, which is owned by ViacomCBS, will offer episodes free to viewers from Oct 20 through the end of Feb 2021 . link

The Trump administration is asking the Department of Defense to establish a 5G network, according to Axios sources; the DoD is exploring a plan to build a 5G infrastructure firm that could lease its airwaves to carriers; White House chief of staff Mark Meadows if reportedly pushing the DoD to move forward with the project . link

Politico surveys 1k Gen Z eligible US voters and finds 59 percent get most of their election news from YouTube; 53 percent rely on Instagram, and 43 percent Facebook; Peter Adams, SVP of education at News Literacy Project, notes political content on TikTok is becoming more frequent and suggests some entities may be starting to exploit it . link

Edtech firm Kahoot raises $215M from SoftBank; the Norway-based firm offers online learning tools for school-age children, workplaces, and more; Kahoot has raised $325M to date . link

The Washington Post explores the impact of QAnon conspiracy theories on multiple families; describes a son who says his mother has changed because of her obsession with QAnon updates; also profiles the growth of a subreddit offering support to those who have witnessed friends and family becoming entrenched in QAnon theories . link

UK-based SaaS firm Qatalog raises $15M Series A led by Atomico with participation from Salesforce Ventures and others; the startup offers a virtual workplace collaboration environment with support for third-party tools such as Slack, Google Workplace, and more; has raised $18.5M to date . link

Some Amazon staff in Germany go on strike to coincide with the company’s Prime Day sales event which starts today; trade union Verdi says workers will be out for two days as part of a dispute over pay and other conditions; Verdi notes Amazon scrapped its coronavirus bonus pay for warehouse staff in May, despite the continuation of the pandemic; Amazon claims most employees are not participating in the protest . link

Facebook’s policy banning content that denies the Holocaust does not cover other instances of genocide; the company says it will start directing users who try to share Holocaust denial posts to reputable third-party sources . link

UK-based fintech firm Revolut plans to apply for a US banking license, according to CNBC sources; the company, last valued at $5.5B, will file for a charter with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and CA’s Division of Financial Institutions; Revolut offers banking services, stock trades, and more in the UK . link

Huya acquires fellow China-based game-streaming firm DouYu; the all-share deal values DouYu at ~$6B; the combined company will be valued at $11B; Tencent, which has backed both platforms, will own 68 percent of the merged firm; the deal is expected to close in the first half of next year . link

Malaysia-based on-demand work platform GoGet raises $2M Series A led by Monk’s Hill Ventures; the startup connects SMEs with flexible workers; partners include Lazada, IKEA, and Foodpanda . link

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has exited the firm, according to TechCrunch sources; Pei was closely involved with the design of the company’s handsets; it’s unknown what Pei will do, but he’s reportedly starting a new venture .Pei left the company following a power struggle with OnePlus co-founder and current CEO Pete Lau, reports Android Central; details of their dispute are unclear; Pei oversaw development of OnePlus Nord, which is set to arrive in the US in the coming weeks; OnePlus exec Emily Dai will oversee the Nord . link

SoftBank plans SPAC, reportedly doesn't plan to acquire en existing portfolio company; Axios reports Goldman Sachs and Citigroup will manage the IPO and expects SoftBank Investment Advisors, which manages Vision Fund and Vision Fund 2, will sponsor . link

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has spent $11M supporting CA's Proposition 15, which seeks to lift property tax caps on businesses to benefit schools and housing projects; CZI is also backing four other ballot initiatives this year . link

Shopify says its Fulfillment Network, which stores, packs, and ships products for e-commerce merchants, increased fulfillment by 250 percent quarter-over-quarter in the second quarter; the service also saw an increase in merchant signups; the company earned ~$714M in revenue in the second quarter, nearly double that of the year-earlier period . link

Disney announces reorganization focused on giving its streaming business higher priority; the change will establish new content groups for film franchises, general entertainment, and sports; a new distribution arm will determine which platforms will carry given shows and movies . link

Cybercriminals have stolen $22M-plus from users of the Electrum crypto wallet, ZDNet reports; the attackers alerted users to a fake app update; once installed, the malware immediately transferred funds out of the target account; the scheme exploits Electrum's open gateway ecosystem, which allowed the thieves to establish malicious ElectrumX servers . link

Google launches the new Nest Thermostat at $130; the redesigned device does away with the ring controller in favor of a touch-sensitive edge: the user slides a finger along the side of the Thermostat to navigate menus and change values, and taps to make a selection; also recognizes gestures; controllable via the Google Home app; supports customized schedules . link

Cloudflare announces Cloudflare One: a network-as-a-service product targeting companies with remote teams operating a variety of devices and personal networks; the company's CDN network enables businesses private networks to connect to the public internet via Zero Trust service . link

Microsoft obtains court order enabling the company to take control of servers supporting the Trickbot botnet, which has targeted local government networks with ransomware and other malicious software; the US Cyber Command recently launched a mission to disrupt the botnet ahead of the presidential election; Microsoft cited copyright law protecting the Microsoft-owned code used in Trickbot .Update: Swiss security site Feodo Tracker indicates ~two dozen Trickbot control servers remain active; intelligence firm Intel 471 says completely eliminating the TOR-powered botnet would require unprecedented collaboration between countries and parties . link

Cloud cost management startup Yotascale raises $13 Series B led by Felicis Founder Aydin Senkut; provides cost allocation, optimization recommendations, more; serves Hulu, Doordash, and Zoom; raised $24.6M to date . link

Microsoft obtains court order enabling the company to take control of servers supporting the Trickbot botnet, which has targeted local government networks with ransomware and other malicious software; the US Cyber Command recently launched a mission to disrupt the botnet ahead of the presidential election; Microsoft cited copyright law protecting the Microsoft-owned code used in Trickbot .Update: Swiss security site Feodo Tracker indicates ~two dozen Trickbot control servers remain active; intelligence firm Intel 471 says completely eliminating the TOR-powered botnet would require unprecedented collaboration between countries and parties . link

Mortgage management company Snapdocs (YC W14) raises $60M Series C led by YC Continuity, with participation from DocuSign and others; valuation undisclosed; PitchBook data indicates investors valued the company at $200M for a $25M Series B last year; serves lenders, title companies, and notaries representing 1M-plus closings per year; raised $103M to date . link

Facebook bans Holocaust denial content; Mark Zuckerberg previously used such content as an example of free speech with which he disagreed, but would not censor; the new policy also impacts content that distorts views of the Holocaust; Zuckerberg said he had struggled weighing free speech against harmful content, but said considering the current state of the world, acting was the right thing to do . link

WI's Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) rejects Foxconn's request for tax subsidies because the company failed to deliver on its commitment to build a 20 million-square-foot Gen 10.5 LCD factory, The Verge reports; the WEDC also noted that Foxconn hadn't hired enough people in WI to qualify for the subsidies; Foxconn has proposed reductions in the scope of the project, but contract negotiations have failed . link

Tesla to release its Full Self-Driving (FSD) upgrade in limited beta on Oct 20; Elon Musk said Tesla would initially limit the update to expert, careful drivers; the premium upgrade adds Lane Change and Autopark; the software requires the driver's hands be on the wheel when using FSD features . link

Gaming platform Roblox confidentially files to go public; Reuters sources recently said the listing could value the company at $8B; private investors last valued the company at $4B for a $150M Series G in Feb; the number of shares on offer and other details are undisclosed; the platform enables users to play, create, and share video games; raised ~$336M to date . link

The download for 2020-10-12 →


China’s central bank says plans to roll out its digital yuan should be accelerated; writing in China Finance magazine, People’s Bank of China deputy governor Chen Yulu says the country should establish “an independent and high-quality financial infrastructure” as part of its dual-circulation efforts; China is focusing more on internal trade amid global tensions . link

Saudi Arabia-based supply chain startup Retailo raises $2.3M pre-seed led by Shorooq Partners with participation from 500 Startups, 92 Ventures, and others; the company connects grocery wholesalers with manufacturers and distributors across Saudi Arabia and Pakistan . link

The EU plans to introduce tougher regulations for large tech firms, according to sources for the Financial Times; lawmakers have drawn up a list of ~20 companies it wants to target with stricter anti-monopoly rules including Google, Facebook, and Amazon; the proposals include forcing such businesses to share data with smaller rivals and disclose more info about their operations . link

Twilio confirms it is acquiring data infrastructure firm Segment for $3.2B; the deal is expected to close in Q4 2020; represents Twilio’s largest takeover since its $2B acquisition of SendGrid in 2018 .Watch Jason speak with Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt on This Week in Startups: link

Asa Fitch of The Wall Street Journal posits IBM’s split could pose a risk to its customer-facing operations; the firm plans to spend 12 to 14 months spinning its legacy business into a publicly-traded standalone company; a 2019 study by Boyar Research found of 246 spinoffs, just a third performed better than the S&P 500 after five years . link

Vivo showcases IFEA, a concept smartphone with a removable pop-up camera; appears from within the device and operates as a selfie lens; it can also be removed and used as a remote camera; unknown if or when Vivo will add the tech to a retail device . link

Huawei is China’s most valuable consumer electronics firm, worth ~$164B, according to a report from Hurun China; Xiaomi is second with ~$64B; Vivo is worth ~$30B, Oppo ~$25B; DJI rounds out the top five with a valuation of ~$15B . link

Australia-based design platform Canva says it’s considering M&A deals; the firm, last valued at $6B, notes its seen an increase in use as more people are working from home .Watch Jason speak with Canva CEO Melanie Perkins on This Week in Startups: link

The Verge profiles Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service (currently available as an Android-only beta); xCloud’s load times and lag are more noticeable than Google’s Stadia and it currently works with a limited range of titles; the report says it will need to add PC and iOS/iPadOS support to be competitive . link

Indonesia-based VC firm AC Ventures (ACV) announces the first close of its ACV Capital III fund at $56M; ACV is aiming for $80M overall; targets 30 Indonesian early-stage startups over the next three years; will focus on e-commerce, fintech, edtech, and more . link

Thailand-based logistics startup Flash Express raises $200M led by PTT Oil and Retail Business with participation from Durbell and Krungsri Finnovate; operates e-commerce delivery operations; has raised ~$400M to date . link

India-based fintech firm Razorpay raises $100M Series D on a ~$1B post-money valuation led by GIC and Sequoia India with participation from Ribbit Capital and others; Razorpay offers payments processing for SMEs; has raised $206.5M to date . link

TikTok rival Triller is considering going public via a SPAC deal, according to Reuters sources; the company is working with investment bank Farvahar Partners as it considers possible tie-ups; Triller is separately working to raise a $250M round led by UBS . link

Twitter labels a tweet from President Trump in which he claimed he is immune from COVID-19; Twitter has also limited some interactions; represents the latest action against Trump's tweets . link

The download for 2020-10-11 →


Boston-based cybersecurity and compliance solutions company Onapsis raises $55M Series D led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and NightDragon; the company also announced Salesforce and SuccessFactors support; raised $117M to date . link

Avail Medsystems, which provides teleconferencing software for the procedure room, raises $100M Series B led by D1 Capital Partners; enables surgeons to conduct clinical training and to collaborate with remote experts during live procedures; raised $128M to date . link

Twilio ($46B market cap) to acquire customer data infrastructure company Segment for $3.2B in cash and stock, according to Forbes sources, who said the deal had not been finalized as of Friday; investors reportedly valued Segment at $1.5B for a $175M Series D in April of last year; raised $284M to date .Watch Jason speak with Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt on This Week in Startups: link

Google updates ARCore to enable persistent AR experiences; new Cloud Anchors will allow AR developers to create worlds in which users can make changes that endure across play sessions; also facilitates evolving worlds, etc; Lowe's is developing a Persistent View feature that will allow a user to place a virtual product within a space and save the positioning for later viewings . link

The global PC market grew 12.7 percent year-over-year in the third quarter, according to Canalys data; the industry shipped 79.2M units, representing the strongest growth in ten years; notebook shipments reached 64M, almost matching the 2011 all-time record of 64.6M; Lenovo returned to the top position with ~19M and HP was in second place with 18.7M; Dell was the only top-five company to see a year-over-year decline in shipments . link

Alibaba shares hit a record high on Thursday, with its NYSE-traded American depositary receipts closing at $300.54; FactSet data indicates the stock is up 42 percent for the year; the company's market cap now exceeds $800M; The Wall Street Journal reported investors have grown more confident that the pandemic has accelerated China's shift to e-commerce . link

Huawei to unveil the Mate 40 series of devices on Oct 22; CEO Richard Yu said in August that 2020 might represent the final generation of the company's Kirin chips; in 2019, the Trump administration prohibited US tech sales to the company without a special license; in May of this year, the Commerce Department blocked semiconductor shipments - globally, impacting all products using US tech - to Huawei . link

NASA delays SpaceX Crew-1 mission, originally scheduled for Oct 31, until early- or mid-November; the launch will see SpaceX transport three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from Japan's JAXA to the International Space Station for a six-month mission; will represent SpaceX's first operational crewed mission to the station: NASA has contracted the company for five other crewed missions to the ISS . link

Apple is using its network of ~300 retail stores across the US and Canada to ship orders to consumers, according to Bloomberg sources; Apple usually ships from regional centers or directly from China; Apple reportedly told staffers the purpose was to provide faster shipping for customers who don't live near distribution centers . link

Proud Boys website and e-commerce shop go offline following efforts by civil rights advocacy group Color of Change; the group contacted Google, urging the company to take action; Google notified the Proud Boys web host, a Google Cloud customer; the host terminated the Proud Boys' site; Google noted that the Proud Boys group was not a Google Cloud customer; the site has returned with another host, but the store remains offline . link

Insurtech firm Root files for IPO, targeting a $6B valuation; private investors last valued the company at $3.7B; currently live in 29 states, the company sells auto, homeowners, and renters insurance; also offers a mobile app that tracks driving behavior; Root uses machine learning to establish risks and rates; raised $528M to date . link

Google Meet launches breakout rooms for Enterprise for Education customers, enabling teachers to break students into up to 100 groups for discussions and projects; those in groups can rejoin the primary meeting once finished; the company plans to expand the feature to other users by year's end . link

The New York Times examines how LinkedIn has become a forum for Black expression since the onset of the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd; the site, which the Times refers to as one of the more polite and dull social networks, has used editors to maintain a corporate tone; now, some users say the site is removing posts and shadow-banning Black users who discuss racial issues . link

Amazon cancels free-to-play shooter game link

Insight Partners-owned data management software company Veeam acquires Kasten, which provides data recovery for Kubernetes-native workloads; Veeam is paying $150M in cash and equity; Veeam CTO Danny Allan said his company already led the industry in protecting data in virtualized and cloud environments, and that the buy represented Act 2: a focus on cloud and containers; Veeam has raised $500M to date; Kasten previously raised $17M . link

The download for 2020-10-10 →


Och-Ziff Capital Management Founder Daniel Och is raising $750M for SPAC Ajax I; the board will include Instagram's Kevin Systrom and Square's Jim McKelvey; the vehicle will seek an acquisition target in the internet, software, fintech, or consumer industries; SPAC Research data indicates 112 SPACs raised $42.9B through IPOs in the first nine months of the year, making 2020 the strongest SPAC year on record . link

New Chinese mobile browser enables citizens to access automatically censored versions of otherwise banned foreign sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube; each user must provide a phone number to use the app, and the software warns that its operator could report users who watch or share illegal content to authorities; a subsidiary of cybersecurity company Qihoo 360 owns 70 percent of the app operator . link

Facebook launches bug bounty loyalty program Hacker Plus, offering bonuses and perks for repeat bug hunters; the company said it would regularly reevaluate hackers' cumulative scores, quantities of reports, and quality of reports; the evaluations will place each hunter into one of five leagues: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond; Facebook will pay Hackler Plus bonuses in addition to base bounties . link

Quibi made sale pitches to Apple, Facebook, and WarnerMedia, but couldn't establish a deal, according to sources for The Information, who said gaming industry companies might be interested; the mobile-first, short-form video streaming service raised ~$1.8B pre-launch and saw a lackluster debut; sources for The Wall Street Journal said last month the company was exploring strategic options . link

Apple to launch the first Mac laptop running an Apple processor, along with other hardware products, in November, Bloomberg reports; many expect the company's Oct 13 event will focus on a 5G iPhone lineup; the October event reportedly could include Apple-branded over-ear headphones and a new HomePod . link

Five Robinhood users speaking with Bloomberg say someone liquidated their accounts and withdrew funds, and that the company was slow to acknowledge the customers' requests for assistance; Robinhood said the thefts were the result of criminals compromising the victims' email accounts outside the Robinhood platform . link

PE firm LLR Partners acquires investment research tools company YCharts; terms of the reportedly all-cash deal are undisclosed; TechCrunch estimates a value between $135M and $270M, based on estimated ARR; the company expects to surpass $15M in ARR this year; the pair described the buy as a growth recapitalization targeting near-term positive EBITDA; YCharts previously raised $15.7M . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Upfront VC MP Mark Suster about his recent investment focus on computer vision and human-computer interfaces, his Density investment thesis, dealing with politics at work, what the pandemic has taught investors, how SPACs impact early investors, breaking up big tech, the geopolitical outlook, more . link

Microsoft publishes hybrid workplace guidance, which allows managers to approve permanent remote work and establishes a new policy enabling many employees to work from home for ~half the workweek; Microsoft will allow some remote workers to relocate domestically and internationally; the company will use a geo-pay scale for compensation and benefits . link

Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority (PTA) bans TikTok from operating in the country; the PTA said it previously notified TikTok of unlawful content on its platform and gave the company time to establish effective moderation mechanisms; the authority said it would review the decision after TikTok had developed such tools; India recently banned TikTok and many other China-linked apps . link

YouTube has been contacting select creators and asking them to tag products appearing in their videos using special software; the company reportedly plans to link tagged products to Google Shopping tools and cull data for analytics; Google confirmed the experiment and said creators would decide which products to display for purchase; other details undisclosed . link

Orange and Proximus select Nokia to build Belgian 5G networks; Danish telecom consultant John Strand noted that Belgium had relied entirely on Chinese radio vendors and that NATO and EU officials had been making mobile calls on potentially unsafe networks; Huawei had supplied Belgium with network equipment for more than a decade . link

Mercedes-Benz teases the Vision EQXX, an EV concept targeting a 750-mile range; the company said it would incorporate lessons from the project into its next generation of series production models; the company's Stuttgart-based team is working with the F1 HPP group in the UK to achieve various efficiency improvements . link