The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2020-10-19, fan podcast based on @launchticker

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 2020-11-27 →


The download for 2020-11-26 →


European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton says tech companies that breach new EU rules could face fines, orders to change business practices, or forced breakups of their European operations; Breton expects to present drafts of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in two weeks; the rules impose transparency requirements regarding algorithm functionality, more . link

Elon Musk says SpaceX plans a 15-km high-altitude test flight for its SN8 Starship prototype as soon as next week; the company conducted a successful static fire test on Nov 24 . link

UK government commits ~$330M to diversify 5G equipment sources; Britain has banned Huawei from supplying for 5G networks, effective 2027; that will leave carriers with only Nokia and Ericsson as suppliers; Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has launched a task force to increase options and fight price hikes; officials said in July that US sanctions had made it impossible to verify the security of Huawei's supply chain . link

European Parliament votes in favor of a right-to-repair resolution calling for manufacturers to display labels on product packaging indicating expected lifespan and repairability information; right-to-repair advocates have called for an EU-wide repairability scoring system for all electronic devices . link

The Trump administration extends the deadline for ByteDance to divest of TikTok US by another seven days; on Aug 14, President Trump directed ByteDance to sell within 90 days; the administration then extended the deadline to this Friday; ByteDance now has until Dec 4; a Reuters source indicated the company revised its proposal for a new US company with Walmart and Oracle holding significant stakes . link

Remote repositioning tech company Tortoise partners with grocery e-commerce platform Self Point to launch remote-controlled grocery delivery carts in Los Angeles; currently serves three customers, each leasing two or three carts; clients handle storage, charging, loading orders, etc; Tortoise previously developed tech to automatically reposition electric shared scooters . link

Tesla recalls ~9.5k vehicles due to manufacturing issues regarding roof trim and control arm bolts; affects ~9.1k Model Xs from 2016 and ~400 Model Ys from 2020; the Model X issue could cause cosmetic roof trim to separate from the vehicle while driving; the Model Y issue, improperly tightened bolts connecting the front upper control arm to the steering knuckle, could cause the control arm to detach . link

This Week in Startups: Rising Stars of SaaS 7Jason speaks with Meratas CEO Darius Goldman about the impact of the student loan crisis, how Darius first encountered income share agreements (ISAs), a brief history of ISAs, why the most recent iteration of ISAs works well for skills-based training, bundling ISAs, starting an ISA crowdfunding platform, more . link

France’s finance ministry notifies tech companies it will collect digital services tax payments in December; the ministry suspended the tax early this year as 140 countries negotiated new international tax rules at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; those talks will continue to mid-year; France's three-percent levy impacts digital service providers generating revenues of €25M-plus per year in France and €750M-plus globally . link

Facebook to pay $650M to settle an IL class-action suit that alleged the company collected biometric image data via its photo-tagging feature without subjects' consent; the judge in the case initially questioned whether a settlement of less than $1B would be fair; ~one-quarter of eligible IL residents will see a payment of ~$300 each; ~one-third of the settlement fund will go to attorneys and administrative costs . link

Tesla plans to begin manufacturing EV chargers in China next year, according to a document the company submitted to Shanghai authorities; Tesla plans to spend $6.4M to build a new facility, with the capacity to produce 10k chargers per year, next to its existing plant in Shanghai; the company expects to complete construction in February . link

Coinbase announces it will suspend margin trading on Nov 25, citing March guidance from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; the company will disable new margin trades and cancel existing open limit orders at 2 pm Pacific; after all open positions expire next month, Coinbase will disable the feature entirely . link

Amazon Web Services suffers significant outage affecting its Eastern US region; numerous companies have reported downtime for products, product features, and services; Amazon said it was recording increased error rates for its Kinesis Data Streams, and that it was working on the problem . link

Square to acquire Credit Karma's tax-filing service for $50M, fold the business into the Cash App unit; the deal will add do-it-yourself tax filing to Cash App's services, which include money transfers, payments, as well as stock and Bitcoin trading; the Justice Department required the sale of Credit Karma Tax as a condition for Intuit's $7.1B acquisition of Credit Karma, as Intuit operates Credit Karma Tax competitor TurboTax . link

Salesforce ($231B market cap) has recently held talks to acquire Slack ($20.9B market cap), according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; some sources said talks could end and Salesforce could select another target .Slack stock jumps 32 percent on the news; Salesforce stock falls ~four percent .The Wall Street Journal now reports the talks are advanced and the companies could announce a deal soon, citing sources; Salesforce will report its quarterly earnings on Tuesday; some sources said an announcement could come first . link

The download for 2020-11-25 →


UK-based e-bike company FuroSystems raises £750k (~$1M) from TSP Ventures, ClearlySo, and others; the startup offers regular e-bikes, as well as folding models; the removable batteries promise a range of ~34 miles . link

The Verge’s Nilay Patel speaks with Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s VP of gaming; the pair discuss Microsoft’s decision to launch Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X at the same time, the rise of popularity of gaming during the pandemic, payments to developers, and more . link

The FCC upholds its classification of China-based ZTE as a national security threat; the FCC informed carriers in June that equipment from ZTE and Huawei pose serious risks; ZTE subsequently appealed the designation, but it has been rejected; the situation means US telcos cannot access an $8.3B fund to service existing tech from the firms . link

IBM plans to cut ~10k jobs across Europe, according to Bloomberg sources; the layoffs will impact ~20 percent of the company’s regional workforce; most of the job losses will be in the UK in Germany, though there will also be cuts in Poland, Slovakia, Italy, and Belgium; IBM has already briefed local labor unions; the layoffs will affect workers in its legacy services unit, which IBM is set to spin out . link

DoorDash reaches a $2.5M settlement with Washington DC; DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against DoorDash in Nov 2019, alleging it misled customers over its former tipping policy; as part of the settlement, DoorDash will have to ensure all tips go directly to workers, without negatively impacting their base pay; the resolution comes about two weeks after DoorDash disclosed its IPO plans . link

Netflix pulls “The Chappelle Show” following a direct request from Dave Chappelle; the comedian reached out to Netflix because ViacomCBS, which owns the rights to the show, is licensing it without his consent; Netflix, which has a long-standing deal with Chappelle, began running the show at the start of November . link

Foxconn will invest $270M to expand its manufacturing operations in Vietnam, according to Nikkei; the Taiwan-based company plans to establish a new entity in Vietnam soon, which Nikkei speculates will produce PC components; Foxconn recently began manufacturing LCDs in Vietnam . link

New Zealand-based 2Up Games raises $2.8M from fellow games company Supercell; 2Up is developing its first cooperative play title; Supercell is known for its “Clash of Clans” and “Clash Royale” mobile games . link

WeGift, a UK-based incentives marketing firm, raises $8M Series A (extension) led by AlbionVC with participation from Stride.vc, SAP.iO, and Unilever Ventures; Ed Lascelles of AlbionVC joins the board; WeGift powers e-rewards schemes for enterprise customers; has raised ~$16M to date . link

British publishing company Future (~$2.3B market cap) acquires price comparison website GoCompare (AKA GoCo) for £594M (~$794M); represents a 23.6 percent premium on GoCo’s Nov 24 closing price; GoCo shareholders will hold a ~19 percent stake in the combined firm; UK-based GoCo lets users compare prices for insurance, broadband packages, and more . link

Southeast Asia-based SaaS platform Pulsifi raises $1.8M from Kairous Capital and others; the startup offers AI-powered enterprise tools to monitor and track employee performance; claims to be able to predict best methods for improving output; has raised $4M to date . link

The Indian government blacklists several Alibaba-owned apps, including Aliexpress and Taobao Live; represents the country’s latest action against China-based apps; India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology claims the bans are integral to the security of the nation .India has banned 43 apps in its latest round of action; the country has now blocked over 210 apps with ties to China . link

Fintech firm Stripe is looking to raise new funds at a valuation of $70B to $100B, according to Bloomberg sources; the payments company was last valued at $36B; the report notes Stripe is well capitalized and may not move forward with the funding round . link

YouTube temporarily suspends One America News Network (OANN) for posting fake information about a COVID-19 cure; the right-wing news network is not allowed to upload new content for a week; it has also been removed from the YouTube Partner Program, thereby preventing it from generating ad revenue; YouTube operates a three strikes policy before permanently banning accounts; this is OANN's first such violation . link

VMWare ($63B market cap) Q3 beats: $2.86B revenue, up eight percent year-over-year ($2.81B expected); $1.66 EPS (non-GAAP, $1.43 expected); $676M subscription and SaaS revenue, up 44 percent; the company raised its full-year outlook for fiscal 2021 to $11.7B . link

Data platform company Splunk acquires network observability startup Flowmill; terms undisclosed; Splunk's cloud-centric platform offers automation, monitoring, analytics, more; Flowmill enables users to identify network performance issues and measure traffic to control costs; Splunk has raised $40M to date . link

Amazon defeats suit in which eBay claimed the former directed its employees to sign up for eBay under false pretenses to lure sellers to the Amazon marketplace; eBay did convince an arbitration panel that Amazon violated eBay's user contract, but not that Amazon successfully conducted a poaching campaign or harmed eBay . link

This Week in Startups: Startup Legal Basics: Negotiating a Term SheetJason speaks with Wilson Sonsini Partner Becki DeGraw about the details of term sheets and why they matter, term sheet due diligence, deal-killers, which terms are worth fighting for, more . (See Episode 1 here) link

Company Six, Sphero's Public Safety Division that spun out in May to target military and law enforcement/emergency response markets, unveils ReadySight: a throwable, one-pound robot that streams video; features rubber wheels, an infrared emitter, a motion detector, more; applications include accident investigation, crime scene sentry, more; the company expects to ship in the third quarter of 2021 . link

Insurtech company Metromile, which charges customers on a per-mile basis, to go public via merger with SPAC Insu Acquisition Corp II for an equity value of $1.3B, pro-forma; the company issues vehicle sensors to charge a per-mile rate on top of a monthly base rate; also offers online claims, an app that issues parking alerts, more; raised $293M to date . link

In the days after the presidential election, as misinformation about compromised voting went viral on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg agreed to a News Feed algorithm change that increased the ranking weight of the company's internal news ecosystem quality (NEQ) scores, which Facebook devised to help identify quality journalism; it resulted in more prominent placement for sites like CNN and NPR; some employees asked for the change to be permanent . link

WA-based electric jet company Zunum Aero sues investor Boeing, alleging fraud, tech theft, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of contract; Zunum, which ran out of cash in 2018 and laid off staff after failing to raise additional funds, accuses Boeing of colluding with other aerospace manufacturers and funders to sabotage Zunum's fundraising efforts, and attempting to poach engineers during the process . link

Insurtech company Hippo raises $350M Series F from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company; Hippo, which offers homeowners insurance at a discounted rate with sensor-based home monitoring, expects to cover 95 percent of the US population within the next year; raised ~$700M to date . link

Discord is raising funds at a $7B valuation, according to TechCrunch sources; the company raised $100M at a $3.5B reported valuation in June; as the pandemic has driven usage, Discord has expanded its voice and video capacity by 200 percent, added features to simplify server creation and video communication, and a Safety Center to combat hate speech and more; raised $380M to date . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Indie Hackers Founder Courtland Allen about the company's origins and evolution, software and online business as the new American Dream, why it's easier than ever the achieve financial freedom, multiculturalism in tech, how building your product publicly is free organic marketing, selling Indie Hackers to Stripe, more . link

The SEC proposes rules that would enable public and private companies to compensate gig workers with stock; the commission is now seeking public comments from platform workers; this month, CA voters passed Prop 22, ensuring gig workers could remain classified as contractors, rather than employees, in the state; the measure also established requirements for companies using gig workers, such as healthcare stipends .Watch Jason discuss Prop 22 on CNBC: link

Twitter to launch a new verification system early next year with new guidelines; the company has published a draft policy and seeks feedback; under the proposed rules, different types of eligible accounts would see different requirements, such as a media outlet profile for a public figure; the company will also allow non-verified users to specify account types, add labels, more . link

NY-based challenger bank Current raises $131M Series C for a $740M valuation led by Tiger Global Management; the company began offering a guardian-managed debit card for teens; last year it launched personal checking accounts and this year started a rewards program; claims 2M members; revenue is up 500 percent year-over-year; raised $182M to date . link

HuffPost shuts down its Brazil and India sites after announcing its sale to BuzzFeed; in an apparent internal message, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said his company couldn't legally maintain operations in India and Brazil post-deal; BuzzFeed and HuffPost will work together on advertising and content syndication . link

The download for 2020-11-24 →


India-based enterprise payments system Cashfree (YC S17) raises $35.3M Series B led by Apis Partners with participation from Y Combinator and Smilegate Investments; Cashfree offers a suite of tools for accepting online payments, handling payroll, and more; has raised $42M to date . link

App analytics firm AppsFlyer raises an undisclosed sum from Salesforce on a $2B post-money valuation; the company tracks mobile ad spending; has raised more than $300M to date . link

Israel-based UAV firm Percepto raises $45M Series B led by Koch Disruptive Technologies with participation from State of Mind Ventures, Atento Capital, and others; the company produces enterprise drones; Percepto says its Sparrow UAVs now work with Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot; has raised $72.5M to date . link

JD.com is considering taking its logistics division public, according to a Bloomberg source; JD Logistics is eyeing a valuation of $40B, and would likely IPO in Hong Kong; follows reports JD.com plans to raise $3B for its health via a public listing . link

Los Angeles-based customer management startup Boulevard raises $27M from Index Ventures, Toba Capital, VMG Partners, and others; the company offers booking tools to salons and spas; has raised $38M to date . link

Bitcoin passes $19k for the first time in almost three years; the cryptocurrency has climbed ~160 percent this year, and is up almost 40 percent in November alone; Bitcoin’s highest valuation to date was $19.6k in late 2017 . link

Kea, a service that handles incoming calls for restaurants, raises $10M Series A led by Marbruck with participation from Streamlined Ventures, Xfund, and others; the startup provides an automated system that handles customers’ food orders; it is currently live in 250 restaurants with plans to reach 1k by the end of 2021 . link

Germany-based e-commerce firm Mytheresa Group confidentially files for a US IPO; Mytheresa says it will determine the scale of the offering once the SEC has finished its review process; a Bloomberg source says the company is aiming for a valuation of $1B to $1.5B; Mytheresa offers luxury brands, operating across more than 140 countries . link

The Washington Post looks at how some high-profile Parler users are still more active on Twitter; Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo committed to using Twitter to only promote shows, but she has posted there more frequently than on Parler; political commentator Dan Bongino, an investor in Parler, posted on the platform 51 times on Nov 11, which compares with 90 times to Twitter on the same day . link

Norwegian edtech firm Kahoot acquires language-learning app Drops for up to $50M; Kahoot is paying $31M upfront, plus another $19M based on performance; Estonia-based Drops helps users learn new languages by showing them visual items and associated words; Drops claims 25M users . link

Intel has shut down its dedicated AR/VR studio space in Los Angeles, reports Protocol; Intel Studios, which opened in early 2018, was a 10k square foot space specifically designed for capturing immersive content; when active the site had over 100 8K cameras spread throughout the volumetric studio . link

The Atlantic profiles the impact of President Trump’s election loss across right-wing social media; notes many have turned to apps such as Parler where they openly discuss unproven claims of election fraud and denounce outlets such as Fox News; the report highlights many high-profile Parler users are those who have been suspended from Twitter . link

Twitter starts displaying a notification when users attempt to like a labeled tweet; Twitter is applying such prompts to election-related tweets that dispute results, COVID-19 misinformation, and more; the company already shows similar info when users try to retweet such posts; Twitter says the notices have been effective in reducing misleading Quote Tweets by 29 percent . link

Apple’s head of global security Thomas Moyer has been indicted on bribery charges; prosecutors in CA allege Moyer tried to bribe the Santa Clara County sheriff's office with 200 iPads as part of a scheme to secure firearms licenses for Apple staff; Moyer denies the charges . link

Netflix plans to expand ABQ Studios in NM by 300 acres, making it one of the largest American film facilities; the company expects to create ~1.5k construction jobs for the project and ~1k new production jobs over the next ten years; Netflix also committed $1B to production spend at ABQ Studios . link

Leaked internal Amazon reports, obtained by Motherboard, reveal the company extensively monitors unionization efforts and social and environmental movements in Europe; Amazon confirmed it had contracted operatives from Pinkerton to gather intelligence on warehouse workers; internal emails to Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center include detailed reports about labor organization activities at Amazon facilities . link

Career marketplace Vettery acquires recruitment platform Hired; terms undisclosed; Vettery CEO Josh Brenner will continue to lead the combined entity; Brenner said the platforms have a five-percent overlap in customer bases and that the services are complementary; The Information reported last week, citing sources, that Hired was shutting down after failing to find a buyer; Vettery has raised ~$12M to date; Hired previously raised ~$133M . link

Apple extends deadline for apps offering events and classes to use Apple's in-app payments system; previously, the company set a December deadline; developers now have until June 30; Apple cited the pandemic and the widespread transition to online events and learning when announcing the decision; the company also recently announced a reduced App Store commission for most developers . link

Amazon is rolling out fitness-tracking features to Echo Buds; Buds can monitor steps, speed, distance, workout duration, estimated calories burned, more; stats accessible in the Workouts section of the Alexa app; users can begin, pause, and end workouts with voice commands . link

SME marketing platform Metigy raises ~$14.6M Series B led by Cygnet Capital; uses AI and deep learning for real-time insights to improve reach and conversion; the platform makes suggestions regarding hashtags, posting schedules, more; claims 26k business clients and has channel partnerships with Google and Optus . link

The New York Times examines how US tech companies enable the Chinese surveillance state; Intel and Nvidia chips have powered China's Urumqi Cloud Computing Center since its 2016 launch; the AI-powered system monitors phones and uses facial and license plate recognition to track people - including Muslim minorities in Xinjiang; Intel and Nvidia told the Times they were unaware their tech was misused in that way . link

Norwegian electricity supplier Tibber raises $65M Series B led by Eight Roads Ventures and Balderton Capital; the company uses AI to analyze and predict household energy use and automates purchasing from electricity producers; currently serves Norway, Germany, and Sweden; plans to launch in the Netherlands next year; raised $82M to date . link

Google plans a new fiber-optic network linking India to Europe, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; reportedly will connect Saudi Arabia and Israel for the first time; sources say Google targets financial support from telecom partners for the submarine cable project, which is named Blue Raman after Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman . link

Jersey City-based AvePoint, which provides governance tools for the Microsoft cloud, to go public via reverse merger with SPAC Apex Technology Acquisition Corp; the combined entity will have a ~$2B market value, pro forma; existing AvePoint shareholders will own ~72 percent of the new company, which will retain the AvePoint brand and trade on the Nasdaq under symbol AVPT; AvePoint previously raised $290M . link

Snapchat launches Spotlight: a TikTok-like scrollable feed of short, vertical videos; Snap has committed to disburse $1M-plus every day to top Spotlight creators through the end of the year; Spotlight takes into account engagement and more for algorithmic feed personalization; Snapchat also introduced additional guidelines specifically for Spotlight . link

The download for 2020-11-23 →


Autonomous logistics startup Gatik raises $22.5M Series A led by Wittington Ventures and Innovation Endeavors with participation from FM Capital, Intact Ventures, and Fontinalis Partners; the company is developing Level 4 vans for B2B deliveries; Gatik has also signed a partnership with Canadian retailer Loblaws; has raised $27M to date . link

Germany-based freight-forwarding company Forto raises $50M led by Inven Capital with participation from Iris Capital, Rider Global, and others; the firm offers cloud based supply chain management tools to enterprise customers; has raised $103M to date . link

Google begins testing a crowdsource tasks app in India; Task Mate, which is currently available as a limited beta, lets users complete simple tasks for cash rewards; includes checking specific details at a nearby store, transcribing sentences, and recording a phrase . link

iOS 15 will not support the original iPhone SE or the iPhone 6S lineup, according to Hebrew-language The Verifier; the first-generation iPhone SE launched in March 2016, and the iPhone 6S in Sept 2015; iOS 15 is expected next year . link

Foxconn will use its plant in WI to assemble components for Google servers, according to Bloomberg sources; the facility will start mass-production in Q1 2021; Foxconn initially said the site would be used for display manufacturing and promised to hire 13k people, but it has since run into numerous issues . link

Google Assistant adds the ability to turn on smart lights and other connected devices at specific times; lets users set schedules for device actions or make requests such as “Start smart vacuum in five minutes” . link

China is set to launch an unmanned Moon probe this week; dubbed Chang’e-5, it will gather lunar rocks to bring back to Earth; represents the first such mission since the 1970s; Chang’e-5 will focus on a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum . link

CoStar Group ($35.2B market cap) acquires fellow proptech firm Homesnap for $250M; Homesnap provides apps and relevant property data to realtors and brokers; raised $32M to date . link

Indonesian cloud kitchen startup Hangry aims to raise $10M to $15M in its Series A round; co-founder and CEO Abraham Viktor notes the Jakarta-based firm is yet to find traction, but says it will expand to more cities; the round is due to close in January; has raised ~$3M to date . link

The download for 2020-11-22 →


Transfr, which uses VR to simulate factories and warehouses for training purposes, raises $12M Series A led by Firework Ventures; the company will use the funding to expand its course catalog; Transfr licenses its software, which runs on an Oculus Quest headset with Oculus for Business; Founder Bharani Rajakumar said the company could achieve profitability now at the cost of decreased growth . link

Singapore-based consumer behavior intelligence platform Near acquires French location intelligence platform Teemo; terms undisclosed; Teemo was the first company certified by the French Data Protection Officer as GDPR compliant; Teemo Founder and CEO Benoit Grouchko will serve as chief privacy officer at Near; Near has raised $134M to date; Teemo previously raised $18M . link

3D avatar company Genies raises $3M from Bandai Namco, plans Tokyo office; the company launched to provide 2D avatars of celebrities for advertisements, virtual events, etc; has since expanded to 3D avatars and the consumer market; Genies also has an investment arm called Humans that invests in companies that use the avatars; provides an SDK and ultimately plans cross-platform avatar portability . link

AllRight, which offers online English language classes for kids, raises $5M Series A led by Genesis Investments; the Ukraine-based startup targets emerging markets and areas with little online education penetration; features AI-controlled lessons with an AI-powered tutor and uses a voice interface; raised $7.8M to date . link

Fourteen states and DC recently integrated Google and Apple's exposure notification tech in contact-tracing apps; CA is currently testing such an app; VA was the first state to launch an exposure notification app, and within three months ~one-tenth of the population had downloaded it; within a month of DC's app launch, -one-third of the population, commuters included, had installed it . link

Stockholm-based FirstVet, which provides a telehealth platform for pets, raises $35M led by Mubadala Capital; the round financed the company's first US presence in NY with 14 staffers; serves all 50 states and offers 24/7 availability; FirstVet supports a variety of animals, including horses and reptiles; raised $65M to date . link

TechCrunch examines the state of virtual headquarters as remote work becomes the norm; unlike Slack, startups including Branch, Gather, and Huddle are creating entire virtual offices with hallways, meeting rooms, and in some cases, close-able doors; the platforms allow for spontaneous encounters, chats at the water cooler, gamification features, more . link

Health and wellness rewards platform Paceline, currently in beta, raises $5M seed led by Montage Ventures and Propel Venture Partners; monitors physical activity through wearables and financial activity via account-connected credit card; Paceline uses the data to build financial products; the company plans credit, banking, and insurance products . link

Microsoft is working with Apple to bring Xbox Series X and Series S controller support to iPhone and iPad; Apple Insider recently reported that iOS 14.3 beta appears to include support for the Playstation 5 DualSense controller; Nvidia recently launched a progressive web app to bring its GeForce now game-streaming service to iPhone; Google plans to launch one for Stadia . link

The Verge reviews Stadia's first year of availability, noting that while some cloud-gaming issues remain (audio-sync problems, intermittent latency hiccups over Wi-Fi), Google has switched to a free membership, expanded its catalog, improved Stadia Controller functionality, and more; Nick Statt argues that blockbuster titles like link

Broadband satellite company OneWeb emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, now owned by the UK government and Bharti Global, and with Neil Masterson as CEO; Masterson previously served at Thompson Reuters for 20 years; former CEO Adrián Steckel will remain a board advisor; the company, which ultimately plans a 650-satellite constellation, has scheduled a launch for Dec 17; OneWeb currently has 74 satellites in orbit . link

Forbes profiles Better.com Founder and CEO Vishal Garg, whose past entities face allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds, as his mortgage origination business achieves a $4B valuation; previous Better investor Goldman Sachs dropped legal claims in October but did not participate in Better's most recent round; PIMCO remains active in that suit; current and former Better employees speaking with Forbes said Garg's outbursts caused people to quit . link

Twitter and Facebook prepare to transfer official White House accounts to Joe Biden's team on Jan 20; Twitter works with the National Archives and Records Administration on such transfers, and archives each account (@whitehouse, @VP, @FLOTUS, etc); Barack Obama's archived presidential account is available at @POTUS44; Donald Trump will retain his personal, primary account at @realDonaldTrump after the transition . link

Credit Key, which provides a point-of-sale financing option for e-commerce B2B sales, raises ~$34M Series A from Greycroft, Bonfire Ventures, others; the company services loans and assumes credit risk; raised ~$36M to date . link

Freight and logistics platform Loadsmart raises $90M Series C led by BlackRock-managed funds and Chromo Invest; the company will work with strategic investor TFI International to expand its end-to-end logistics services; Loadsmart has increased revenues by 250 percent this year without increasing expenses; raised $146M to date . link

Reuters examines Airbnb's 12-year path to a public listing, which the company expects to complete next month at a ~$30B valuation; investment bankers reportedly told CEO Brian Chesky Airbnb could have achieved a $50B valuation if it listed two years ago; Chesky resisted calls from investors and employees to go public as he sought to expand Airbnb's sphere to include experience packages, more . link

SpaceX launches the first of two satellites for a NASA-European project to monitor sea levels; the satellites will beam radar to the water 830 miles below to measure sea levels, over time, to within half an inch; the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base was SpaceX's 22nd Falcon 9 flight this year and its 103rd ever . link

This Week in Startups: Emergency Pod!Jason analyzes Airbnb, Affirm, Robinhood, and Roblox, all of which recently filed for IPOs; he ranks the companies according to their potential for long-term profitability; Jason explains why Airbnb and Robinhood are transcendent companies and reveals his top pick . link

Intel-owned autonomous driving tech company Mobileye enters agreement with Lidar company Luminar, which will provide sensors for the former's self-driving system; terms undisclosed; Mobileye is not taking a stake in Luminar; Luminar now claims future orders representing up to $1.3B; Mobileye has to date relied primarily upon cameras for visual data; Luminar recently entered a partnership with Daimler as well . link

Cybercriminals tricked GoDaddy employees into altering records belonging to crypto-related sites; the attackers used access to reset passwords, change DNS records, more; trading platform Liquid said the attackers accessed document storage; trading and mining platform NiceHash found no evidence of theft but said GoDaddy was unavailable to assist in mitigating the attack; KrebsOnSecurity found evidence the hackers targeted other sites . link

The download for 2020-11-21 →


Apple and AT&T seek to designate some data in the Justice Department's antitrust suit against Google as link

A16Z closes two new funds totaling $4.5B: a $1.3B early-stage fund and a $3.2B growth-stage fund; brings the 11-year-old firm's total assets under management to $16.5B; its portfolio includes Affirm, Airbnb, and Roblox, all of which have filed to go public; the firm reportedly saw $1B from Microsoft's $7.5B acquisition of portfolio company GitHub in 2018 . link

West of Hudson Group, which operates social influencer houses, goes public via reverse merger with Las Vegas-based Tongji Healthcare Group; a Chinese hospital incorporated Tongji in 2006 but the entity held no assets until the end of last year; West of Hudson's controlling investors acquired Tongji before the merger; West of Hudson generally provides content makers free rent in exchange for a cut of profits . link

Chainalysis expects to close $100M Series C at a $1B valuation led by Addition as soon as next week; the company provides blockchain analysis services for government agencies, financial institutions, and exchanges; Chainalysis plans to ~double its 200-member workforce over the next year and expand its presence internationally and in DC; raised ~$67M to date . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with CircleUp Founder Ryan Caldbeck about why he published a redacted version of an email to a reportedly difficult board member, CircleUp's cap table and timing, filling supply and demand for the fundraising marketplace, pivoting to raise a fund, why Ryan stepped down as CEO, more . link

Walmart ($426B market cap) acquires select assets from local delivery/group buying app JoyRun; terms undisclosed; JoyRun enables a link

The Trump administration, refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden's presidential election victory, has withheld federal cybersecurity resources from Biden's transition team, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; typically, the General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security work with transition teams to establish and protect email accounts; team Biden reportedly relies on Google Workspace with upgraded security . link

This Week in Startups: Startup Legal Basics E1Jason speaks with Wilson Sonsini Partner Becki DeGraw about the differences between C-Corps and LLCs, why VCs prefer C-Corps, reasons to start as an LLC then convert to a C-Corp, preemptively avoiding co-founder legal issues, more . link

Apple is lobbying to weaken a bill that seeks to prevent companies from using forced labor in China, according to congressional staffers speaking with The Washington Post; the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require US companies guarantee they won't use imprisoned or coerced workers in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has put ~1M Muslims in internment camps; sources didn't detail Apple's desired changes . link

Robinhood Co-Founder Baiju Bhatt steps down from co-CEO role, potentially ahead of a public debut; Co-Founder Vlad Tenev, who has served as co-CEO alongside Bhatt since the company's 2013 launch, will serve as the sole CEO; Bhatt will remain on the board; investors last valued the firm at $11.7B in September; Bloomberg recently reported a potential first-quarter listing . link

Amazon partners with Singapore Exchange and London-based Aquis Exchange to pilot a cloud-based stock-trading system; all of the world's major exchanges rely on expensive on-premises physical servers and backup systems; AWS and other cloud providers could reduce and mitigate outages; Amazon has developed the multicasting capabilities required by all major exchanges . link

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) seeks US import ban on SUVs from multiple Volkswagen-owned brands, alleging infringement of patents related to JLR's Terrain Response; the system uses computer control over the engine, transmission, and brakes to ensure traction on various surfaces; JLR seeks to block sales of Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Tiguan, and other models . link

E-commerce marketplace Wish files for IPO; claims 100M monthly active users; generated $1.75B in revenue for the first nine months of 2020, up 32 percent year-over-year; the company holds $1.1B in cash, equivalents, and marketable securities; raised ~$2B to date . link

Snap ($65B market cap) acquires UK-based social songwriting and musical performance app Voisey, Bloomberg and TechCrunch report; Voisey lets users record videos of themselves singing over instrument tracks submitted by other users; offers real-time voice effects such as pitch correction; previously raised ~$2M . link

T-Mobile activates the 988 number for emergency mental health services; the FCC voted in July to make 988 the short number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and set a carrier compliance deadline for July 2022; T-Mobile is the first carrier to comply; FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted at the time of the vote that 988's inability to receive text messages was problematic, as voice isn't native for most young people . link

The download for 2020-11-20 →


Microsoft Teams adds free video calling for up to 300 users via a desktop browser; calls can last up to 24 hours; supports up to 49 profiles in gallery view at any one time; guests do not need a Microsoft account to join calls . link

Samsung adds Google Assistant support to its 2020 line of TVs in the UK, France, Germany, and Italy; the company says functionality will be enabled in 12 countries by the end of the year; Samsung added Assistant support to US TVs last month . link

Reddit names Paula Price to its board; represents the company’s second Black board member after Michael Seibel’s appointment earlier this year; Price has served on the boards of several companies including Accenture and Deutsche Bank . link

Space company Rocket Lab successfully returns a rocket to Earth using a parachute system; the rocket gently landed in the ocean, from where it will be collected and then tested; the company, which carries satellites into orbit, is developing a process to catch rockets in mid-air so that they can be reused . link

Twitch co-founder and former COO Kevin Lin announces his departure from the company; Lin started the streaming service with Justin Kan, Kyle Vogt, Michael Seibel, and Emmett Shear, who currently serves as CEO; Shear is now the only one still at Twitch; Lin has not disclosed future plans . link

VC firm Astanor Ventures launches a $325M fund aimed at agritech and foodtech startups; portfolio includes French bug farm company Ynsect and Germany-based vertical farming business Infarm . link

Apple hires Barbara Whye as head of inclusion and diversity; Whye will join the company early next year; she previously served in a similar role at Intel, where she spent 25 years; Whye replaces Christie Smith, who left Apple in June . link

Boston-based quantum computing firm Zapata raises $38M Series B led by Comcast Ventures with participation from Pitango, Prelude Ventures, and others; the company offers Orquestra, a software tool to help enterprise customers identify appropriate uses for quantum computing; has raised ~$64M to date . link

FireEye ($3.2B market cap) acquires fellow cybersecurity firm Respond Software for $186M; Respond provides tools for investigating cyberattacks after they’ve occurred; raised $32M to date; FireEye has also announced a $400M investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and ClearSky . link

Facebook claims Apple is using its market dominance for its own data gathering practices; Facebook made the comments in response to Apple's suggestion that it is focused on collecting as much data as possible; Facebook says Apple is making it “nearly impossible link

VC firm Revolution is raising $500M for its fourth fund; established by AOL co-founder Steve Case, Revolution counts DraftKings, proptech platform Orchard, and others among its investments . link

Apple and Verizon announce Fleet Swap, enabling businesses to trade in phone fleets for iPhone 12 units, regardless of current carrier; businesses will pay no upfront costs and either pay monthly for the iPhone 12 or no cost for the iPhone 12 Mini; Verizon also announced two indoor 5G ultra wide-band services, with GM and Honeywell as the first customers . link

Roblox, a platform for creating, playing, and sharing video games, publicly releases its IPO paperwork after filing confidentially in October; Roblox has not disclosed the number of shares on offer or target valuation; previous reports indicated a likely $8B valuation at debut; private investors last valued the company at $4B in February . link

Google announces that in the spring it will stop using pages' AMP status as a primary search ranking signal for placement in the top stories carousel; Google launched the special placement four years ago, in part to incentivize the adoption of AMP; a spokesperson said the company remained committed to the tech; Google didn't comment about the timing of the announcement as it faces an antitrust suit from the Justice Department . link

Go SMS Pro, an Android app with 100M-plus installs, uploads files shared during user conversations to the web and makes them accessible via sequential URLs; Trustwave notified the app's maker in August and went public after the customary 90 days with no response from the developer; TechCrunch tested access and found a screenshot of a bank transfer, an arrest record, explicit photos, more . link

PayPal launches Generosity Network, a crowdfunding platform enabling users to raise funds for themselves, others in need, charitable organizations, etc; initially limited to the US with a maximum target of $20k and campaign length of 30 days; PayPal's earlier fundraising platform, Giving Fund, focuses on charities; Generosity network features campaigns for funerals and memorials, medical bills, pet food, more . link

Facebook sues Turkish national Ensar Sahinturk, alleging he used an automated scraping system to cull data from 100k Instagram users' accounts without permission, then used that data to populate multiple Instagram clone sites; Facebook said the sites, with titles hinting at the Instagram brand, generated significant traffic; the company did not disclose metrics . link

Canvas, which uses machine learning and robotics to automate drywall installation, emerges with $19M; the company retrofits JLG lifts with robotic arms and sensors; trained workers from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades operate the machines; Canvas focuses on large commercial construction sites; plans to expand into automated spray insulation and paint . link

This Week in Startups: Rising Stars of SaaS 6Jason Speaks with Dishcraft Robotics CEO Linda Pouliot about the thought process behind robotic dishwashing as a service, why she focuses on large enterprise clients, robots' impact on cleanliness and sustainability, the challenges of raising funds for a robotics company, how the declining costs for robotics will change society, more . link

Google announces global availability of RCS messaging via the Messages app for Android; an upgrade from SMS, Rich Communications Services adds Wi-Fi messaging, typing indicators, read receipts, improved media quality, more; Google plans to begin beta testing end-to-end encryption for one-on-one RCS conversations this month . link

Amazon launches $250 smart glasses product, the Alexa-powered Echo Frames, in general availability; the company held an invite-only, limited batch launch sale last year for the Day One edition, which ran $180; the production model adjusts volume based on environment, offers improved battery life, and features a new auto-off function; Echo Frames support prescription lenses; pre-orders now open, ships by Dec 10 . link

SpaceX requests FCC permission to test Starlink's satellite internet service for in-flight Wi-Fi on up to five private jets; in September, SpaceX sought authorization to test the service on the autonomous drone ships it uses for landing rockets; that request remains pending; Starlink opened a public beta in October . link

General Motors commits $27B to electric and autonomous vehicles over five years, up from the $20M plan the company announced before the pandemic; GM expects to launch 30 new EVs around the world, ~two-thirds of them in North America, by 2025; the company previously said it planned 20 new EVs by 2023, most in China; GM also raised the estimated range for its Ultium batteries from 400 miles to 450 . link

The download for 2020-11-19 →


Austin-based healthtech firm ClosedLoop.ai (formerly Deep Health Technologies) raises $11M Series A led by Greycroft and .406 Ventures with participation from Silicon Valley Bank and Meridian Street Capital; the company provides data management tools to healthcare organizations; has raised $15M to date . link

ZenBusiness, an Austin-based business formation service, raises $55M Series B led by Cathay Innovation with participation from GreatPoint Ventures, Breyer Capital, and others; the company offers online tools for incorporating new firms; has raised $74.5M to date . link

Germany-based e-commerce business SellerX raises €100M (~$118M) seed led by Cherry Ventures, Felix Capital, and TriplePoint Capital with participation from Village Global and others; the company acquires and builds Amazon Marketplace brands . link

Fintech startup Chipper Cash raises $30M Series B led by Ribbit Capital with participation from Bezos Expeditions; the company offers mobile-centric peer-to-peer payment across seven African nations including Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria; has raised $52.2M to date . link

Portugal-based VC firm Faber raises €20.5M (~$24.3M) for its second fund; Faber is aiming to raise €30M (~$35.6M) in total; targets early-stage startups in southern Europe with a focus on AI and ML companies; previous investments include healthtech firm SWORD Health and data science platform YData . link

Sweden-based fintech startup Juni raises €2.1M (~$2.5M) seed led by Cherry Ventures; set to launch in 2021, Juni will offer a suite of financial services to SMEs . link

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the company could partner with other driverless tech firms in the future; speaking at the RBC Capital Markets conference, Khosrowshahi noted Uber could work with robotaxi firms, giving them access to a large customer base; follows reports Uber may sell its Advanced Technologies Group to Aurora . link

Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun appears in front of German lawmakers today to discuss the company’s collapse; Braun, who is currently in jail on fraud and embezzlement charges, is facing the parliamentary committee in person; Braun was CEO of the digital payments firm when a $2.1B accounting discrepancy was uncovered . link

UK-based EV company Arrival announces a deal to go public via a SPAC arrangement with US outfit CIIG Merger Corp; the combined firm is expected to raise $660M on a $5.4B valuation; Arrival was last valued at ~$3.5B; the merger is expected to close in early 2021; Arrival produces all-electric buses and vans . link

Twitter says it's slowing down the full rollout out of its Fleets product because of technical issues; follows complaints by some users that that the ephemeral feature is suffering performance lags . link

YouTube begins advertising on some videos from non-Partner accounts without sharing revenue; previously, the company only ran ads on non-Partner accounts under specific circumstances, such as a music video monetized following a copyright claim; YouTube said it would not run ads on non-Partner videos dealing with sensitive subjects, such as addiction and religion . link

Nvidia ($332B market cap) FQ4 beats: $4.73B revenue, up 57 percent year-over-year ($4.41B expected); $2.91 EPS (adjusted, $2.57 expected); $2.79B graphics revenue, up 25 percent; $1.94B compute and networking revenue, up 146 percent; Nvidia expects $4.8B in revenue during its fourth fiscal quarter . link

Educational course marketplace Udemy told investors in its Series F round the company might go public next year, according to Bloomberg sources; Udemy has disclosed raising $50M in the round, which valued the firm at $3.25B; CEO Gregg Coccari publicly said Udemy had no timeline for a public debut, but noted inbound interest from multiple SPACs . link

Integrated circuit company Richtek, a subsidiary of fabless semiconductor company MediaTek, to acquire power management solutions company Enpirion from Intel for $85M; Intel obtained Enpirion through the $16.7B acquisition of Altera in 2015; the sale includes all team members and IP . link

Virtual events platform Welcome (YC W20) raises $12M Series A led by Kleiner Perkins, officially launches its platform; Welcome targets a high-end, polished experience for webinars, charity galas, product launches, award shows, more; enables hosts to mix live and pre-recorded content, invite and prepare guests through a green room feature, launch breakout rooms, more . link

Heyday, which buys and launches Amazon merchant businesses, emerges with $175M from Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, others; the company began operations in stealth this year and has acquired and launched several businesses in home appliances, beauty, more; expects $20M in annualized revenue by year's end and $200M by the end of next year . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with California Labs Founder and CEO Brian Gannon about Loop v2 and its new features, lessons learned between versions 1.0 and 2.0, the secret to growing a premium hardware company, Amazon Basics and other competitors, more; then, Jason answers viewer questions about selling shares in secondary markets, how the new accreditation laws will impact startups, more . link

Google updates Chrome browser, promising a 25-percent faster launch, page loads up to seven percent faster, as well as reductions in memory and processor usage; new Chrome Actions enable users to type commands, such as link

Google announces family-oriented updates for Assistant and Fi; the Assistant updates, mostly focused on smart displays, include Family Notes, educational activities for kids, and interactive stories; the new Fi features include data budgeting and parental controls . link

Google redesigns Pay, adds support for more merchants (including restaurants, gas stations, more); the new homepage displays the businesses and people with which the user most frequently transacts; transactions are organized the same way; the new Insights section connects with multiple bank and credit accounts to help users understand money flow, see payment reminders, more . link

Sunshine, previously known by placeholder name Lumi Labs, emerges with contact management app Sunshine Contacts; invite-only for iOS, coming to Android; Co-Founders Marissa Mayer and Enrique Muñoz Torres serve as CEO and president, respectively; the pair began discussing apps in 2017 while working at Yahoo! (post-Verizon deal), and set their ideas aside for a new company; initially bootstrapped, has since raised $20M . link

IBM ($106B market cap) to acquire Chicago-based Instana, which provides app performance monitoring for micro-services; terms undisclosed; the observability platform automatically discovers and maps infrastructure, interdependencies, more; IBM announced in October it would spin off its legacy tech services business and focus on cloud computing and management; Instana previously raised $57M . link

The download for 2020-11-18 →


ActivTrak, a provider of cloud-based activity monitoring tools, raises $50M Series B from Sapphire Ventures; the company, based in Austin, offers device-monitoring software to enterprise customers, allowing firms to monitor and track employee output; has raised $70M to date . link

Headway, a service that connects users with therapists, raises $26M led by Thrive and GV with participation from Accel and IA Ventures; Headway works with therapists who accept insurance; has raised $33M to date . link

Austria-based edtech startup GoStudent raises €5M (~$6M) Series A (extension) led by Left Lane Capital and DN Capital; the company operates platform that connects students with tutors; has raised ~$19M to date . link

The British government confirms it will ban combustion-engine vehicles from 2030; sales of hybrid cars will be outlawed in 2035; the UK initially set a deadline of 2040 for ending the sale of gas-powered vehicles .The UK’s 2030 target is too late to effectively help the country hit its own climate goals, according to a report from thinktank New Automotive; the group says the government should be aiming for 2026; alternatively, it calls for Britain to introduce limits on the use of gas-powered cars alongside the 2030 sales ban . link

Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo says it plans to raise new funds via a share sale and bond offering; the company has not disclosed how much it’s looking to raise; Pinduoduo says it will use the money to invest in its infrastructure and expand its operations; it notes it will also explore M&A deals . link

Sweden-based games company Embracer Group acquires 10 game studios; includes Canada-based Thinking Ape Entertainment, Argentinian firm Nimble Giant Entertainment, and Silent Games in the UK; Embracer has also purchased Sandbox Strategies, a NY-based PR firm; terms of the deals undisclosed, but Embracer has added ~1k staff to its payroll; the company says its currently working on 135 titles . link

China-based biotech firm D3 Bio raises ~$200M Series A from Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners China, and others; additionally, WuXi AppTec has acquired a $21M stake in the company via a share sale; D3 Bio is developing treatments in the areas of oncology and immunology . link

TikTok announces expanded parental control features; adds the ability for parents and guardians to set a teenager’s account to private, to restrict access to in-app search, and more; TikTok previously allowed parents to oversee direct messaging and screen time . link

NY-based online therapy app Talkspace is exploring a sale, according to Bloomberg sources; the firm has attracted interest from several special acquisition companies (SPACs), and could be valued at as much as $1B; Talkspace CEO Oren Frank says takeover interest has grown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic . link

Google will roll out a version of Chrome that runs natively on Apple’s M1-based Macs; the company had started to make it available, but paused it because of possible device crashes; once fully rolled out, users will be given the option to download Chrome for Intel or Arm-based Macs . link

Bitcoin’s valuation passes $18k, its highest rate since Dec 2017; the rally follows PayPal’s support for it and other cryptocurrencies; bitcoin’s worth has increased 160 percent this year . link

Nigeria-based used car marketplace Autochek raises $3.4M seed led by TLcom Capital and 4DX; Autocheck provides a platform for buying and selling vehicles; the company plans to expand across Africa . link

South Korea-based fintech startup True Balance raises $28M Series D from SoftBank Ventures Asia, Naver, BonAngels, and others; the firm offers a financial services app in India; has raised ~$90M to date . link

Nikkei explores the collapse of Ant Group's $34B-plus dual-IPO; notes long-held concerns by the Chinese government at how big Ant had become; state-owned banks have been lobbying regulators to reign in Ant Group for some time; the report also says comments by Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma upset senior officials at China’s national bank . link

President Trump has fired cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs; in a tweet, Trump claims a statement from Krebs, saying the recent presidential election was the most secure in US history, was incorrect; Trump has made multiple unproven claims about the election; Krebs reportedly said he expected to be fired for not deleting info that casts doubt on Trump’s allegations . link

Bandcamp launches Live, enabling artists to schedule live-streaming sessions and sell tickets; the streamer can set up a virtual merch table with t-shirts, albums, etc; viewers can purchase items through their Bandcamp accounts; each stream also features a chat; artists set ticket prices, Bandcamp takes 10 percent . link

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The Verge's Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel review Apple's new M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, respectively; both were impressed with the performance of apps written for Intel Macs, translated by Rosetta 2; both found impressive battery life; both agreed the 720p webcams are terrible, especially as so many people are working and learning from home; Bohn says it's time for a Mac with touchscreen; Patel says it's time to kill the Touch Bar . link

Twitter begins rolling out Fleets to all users; enables users to start ephemeral conversations containing retweets, videos, photos, etc; Fleets disappear 24 hours after initiation; Twitter is also testing new audio spaces with a small group of users; Staff Product Designer Maya Gold Patterson said the company would test with people who are disproportionately impacted by abuse on the platform to evaluate moderation challenges . link

Short-term rentals company Domio plans to shut down and sell its assets, The Information reports; Domio laid off most staff this month after failing to raise $10M; the company raised $100M in debt and equity last year and obtained a loan through the Paycheck Protection program in April; at that time, then-CEO Jay Roberts said the company like had enough cash to last through 2021; he and Co-Founder Adrian Lam left the company in September . link

Robinhood seeks advisor to go public as soon as the first quarter, according to Bloomberg sources; the company raised $460M in September, bringing its valuation to $11.7B; claims 13M user accounts, targets younger and first-time investors; in the first six months of this year, consumer protection agencies saw ~four times as many complaints regarding Robinhood than each of its competitors . link

Epic Games acquires Hyprsense, which develops facial motion capture technology for real-time animation; terms undisclosed; founded in 2015 as Binary VR, the company initially focused on using VR headset cameras to capture facial movement data; now, Hyprsense uses a mobile phone camera to track the user's face and generates an animated 3D avatar in real time . link

EV charging network ChargePoint partners with Apple to give CarPlay access to charger location and status, as well as other information like charge speed and pricing; the change will simplify navigating to the nearest charger, more . link

Beijing-based PingCAP, which develops the NewSQL TiDB, raises $270M Series D led by GGV Capital, Access Technology Ventures, others; the open-source platform, which handles hybrid transactional and analytical processing, targets high-growth companies and claims Square, Shopee, and Dailymotion as users; raised $342M to date . link

Bitcoin's market cap reaches ~$330B, a new all-time high; the previous record, set in December 2017, was ~$329B; the price of one bitcoin passed $17k for the first time since January 2018 on Tuesday . link

SoftBank Founder Masayoshi Son says the conglomerate has $80B cash on hand after selling assets and repurchasing shares, reportedly under pressure from shareholder Elliott Management; speaking at a Dealbook conference, Son also addressed the likelihood of pandemic-related failure for significant businesses, the TikTok conflict, and Adam Neumann's potential for future success . link

Boston-based marketing automation and communications platform Klaviyo raises $200M Series C at a $4.15B valuation led by Accel; the platform takes a holistic approach to customer data and uses machine learning to drive growth, generate insights, more; clients retain data ownership; claims 50k businesses as customers; 500 employees, plans 1k by the end of 2021; raised ~$360M to date . link

Home Depot commits $1B to employee pay increases; the company has spent $1.7B on temporary pay and benefits for those working through the pandemic and will make some of those increases permanent; Home Depot has seen increased demand since pandemic lockdowns began as consumers have spent more time on home projects; the company reported a third-quarter beat with $33.54B revenue; its stock is up 28 percent for the year . link

The download for 2020-11-17 →


UK-based proptech firm Giraffe360 raises $4.5M from LAUNCHub Ventures and Hoxton Ventures with participation from HCVC and Change Ventures; the company offers a subscription service to realtors that includes access to a robotic camera for capturing high-res property images and videos; has raised ~$6.3M to date . link

Enterprise comms startup OpenPhone (YC S18) raises $14M Series A led by Craft Ventures with participation from Y Combinator, Slow Ventures, and others; lets SMEs add a second line to an existing device via an app; has raised $16.1M to date . link

Adobe launches a beta version of Photoshop designed for Arm-based Macs and Windows PCs; the software promises to run faster than emulated versions; unknown when Adobe will release a full build . link

Indonesia-based superapp Gojek raises $150M from regional carrier Telkomsel; Gojek started out as a ride-hailing platform, but now also offers food delivery, financial services, and more; has raised ~$5B and is valued at more than $10B . link

Turtlemint, an India-based insurtech service, raises $30M Series D led by GGV Capital with participation from American Family Ventures, and others; Turtlemint’s platform connects insurance companies with third-party agents, who in turn sell policies to customers; has raised $61M to date . link

Spanish bank Santander acquires certain assets from bankrupt digital payments firm Wirecard; terms undisclosed; Santander, which operates in multiple global markets, will incorporate Wirecard tech into its merchant-services division; ~500 Wirecard staff will move over to Santander . link

Amazon launches a prescription medication and fulfillment service; Amazon Pharmacy lets users add add their insurance info via a secure portal; also provides the option to speak with a pharmacist, as well as offering self-service tools; Amazon acquired online pharmacist Pillpack for ~$1B in 2018 . link

Oppo showcases a concept smartphone with a rollable display; known as the Oppo X 2021, it has a 6.7-inch screen that expands to 7.4-inches; the firm says it has developed a proprietary drivetrain and laminate to ensure responsiveness and durability; Oppo has also announced an update to its AR glasses concept; the company claims they’re 75 percent lighter than the previous incarnation; unknown if or when either product will be available to consumers . link

CVS adds support for PayPal and Venmo QR payments at checkout; represents the first national retailer to offer QR payments for PayPal; the process uses a customers’ PayPal or Venmo balance to pay for goods, or the primary linked credit card . link

Squarespace rolls out a feature that lets website owners charge for exclusive content; known as Member Areas, it allows sites to charge a one-time fee or a subscription to access certain pages; Member Areas can also be used to create visitor accounts, even if all content is freely accessible . link

Zoom introduces a feature that automatically advises hosts of vulnerable meeting links; known as At-Risk Meeting Notifier, it informs hosts of Zoom links posted to publicly viewable webpages, and therefore potential targets for “zoombombing” (meetings invaded by trolls) . link

Barack Obama says online disinformation is “the single biggest threat to our democracy”; speaking with The Atlantic, Obama suggests President Trump is a result of such an ecosystem, noting he “may be an accelerant of it”: Obama also says he doesn’t wholly blame social media platforms, but posits they have “turbocharged it”; he dismisses the idea such companies are more similar to utilities than publishers . link

Microsoft anticipates shortages for its recently launched Xbox Series X and Series S consoles until at least April; Xbox CFO Tim Stuart noted the supply shortages during the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference; Stuart says the company is trying to keep pace with demand . link

Beijing-based Baidu ($50B market cap) to acquire livestream business YY.com from Guangzhou-based JOYY ($7.7B market cap) for $3.6B in cash; YY claims 4M paid users; platform influencers often sell goods via the app; YY also owns a ~$1.45B stake in Singapore-based Bigo, which operates two streaming apps outside China; the deal only includes YY's Chinese business . link

Airbnb makes IPO prospectus public, revealing $219M net income on $1.34B revenue in the third quarter; year-to-date, the company has seen a $697M net loss on $2.52B revenue; for all of last year, the company saw a $674M net loss on $4.81B revenue; Airbnb listed COVID-19 as a risk factor in its paperwork; previous reports indicated a December debut . link

WarnerMedia to launch an HBO Max app for Fire TV and Fire tablets on Nov 27; Amazon reportedly will remove HBO from its Channels as part of the arrangement; HBO Max will enable WarnerMedia to gather users' data and eventually offer targeted marketing for an ad-supported tier; Fire TV alone claims 40M users; WarnerMedia has not negotiated an HBO Max deal with Roku, which claims ~46M users . link

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration upgrades its safety probe into touchscreen failures in Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles; the regulator opened a preliminary evaluation in June and has now begun an engineering analysis; the problem, potentially impacting 160k units, can reduce reverse visibility, impact defogging and audible system cues, more . link

Game company WildWorks discloses security breach and theft of data belonging to 46M players of the popular title link

Twitter hires Peiter Zatko, known by the hacker moniker Mudge, for the company's new head of security role; Zatko, who will report directly to CEO Jack Dorsey, will evaluate platform integrity, physical security, and more to recommend changes in structure and practices; Zatko previously led security at Stripe, served as deputy director at Google's ATAP, and dispersed cybersecurity-related grants at DARPA . link

Hulu increases its Live TV subscription price by $10 per month, from $55 to $65, effective December 18; the company last raised the price on the same date last year, from $45 per month to $55; the service claims 4M-plus customers, compared to YouTube TV's 3M; Hulu with Live TV saw a 40-percent increase in subscribers over the past year . link

Apple announces an embeddable player for Apple Podcasts, enabling anyone (content owners, fans, and critics) to generate embed codes for any of the ~1.5M shows on the platform using the tool found on Apple Podcasts Preview pages and on the Apple Podcasts Marketing Tools website; the player features show information with thumbnail, links to the show and episode, more . link

EV charging network Electrify America launches Plug & Charge, which automatically processes payment when a customer plugs in a compatible vehicle; the feature is now live at all of Electrify America's 500-plus charging stations in the US, which represent 2.2k-plus chargers; the first vehicles to support Plug & Charge are the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, Lucid Air, and Porsche Taycan . link

Strava, a fitness tracking platform for runners and cyclists, raises $110M Series F led by TCV and Sequoia; enables goal tracking, virtual competitions, more; the company claims it added 2M users during each month of 2020, bringing its total to 70M users; raised $152M to date . link

Jeff Bezos reveals the first beneficiaries of his $10B climate fund: 16 environmental organizations that will collectively see $791M; Bezos did not disclose how much each organization would get; the group includes the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council . link

GitHub reinstates YouTube-DL after removing the project in response to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown request from the Recording Industry Association of America; the original request cited law regarding methods for circumventing digital rights management; GitHub determined YouTube-DL did not violate the relevant statute; GitHub also said it would establish a $1M developer defense fund to fight unwarranted takedown requests . link

NASA and the Energy Department to request proposals to build nuclear plants for the moon and Mars to power outposts; the agencies hope to have a flight system, lander, and nuclear reactor ready for launch by 2026, and to demonstrate a 10-kilowatt class fission system on the moon, for one year, by the late 2020s . link

Microsoft launches Teams apps for meetings in general availability; the company announced 21 new apps including Asana, Monday.com, and SurveyMonkey; Microsoft also launched low-code solutions including Power Apps for Teams and the Power Automate app; Teams previously offered app integrations for chats and channels . link

The Justice Department approves Mastercard's ($334B market cap) ~$825M acquisition of UT-based open-banking API company Finicity; Finicity's APIs enables end users to choose how their financial information is shared, and to allow third parties (such as financial advisors and investment firms) to make decisions on their behalf; Finicity previously raised $80M . link

The download for 2020-11-16 →


Japan-based games company Capcom says info for up to 350k people may have been taken in a ransomware attack; the company notes some of its own financial data was also stolen; the Ragnar Locker hacker collective has encrypted some of Capcom’s servers and is demanding a payment to unlock them . link

US-based drug company Moderna says preliminary results show its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective; follows Pfizer’s disclosure that its vaccine is seemingly 90 percent effective; both drugs use messenger RNA techniques; neither drug has been peer reviewed yet, but both are expected to seek emergency authorization from the FDA; it’s projected the US could have as many as 60M doses ready by the end of this year . link

UK-based data exchange platform Harbr raises $38.5M Series A led by Dawn Capital and Tiger Global Management with participation from Boldstart Ventures and others; the startup provides enterprise tools for accessing internal and external datasets; has raised $51.6M to date . link

MindTickle, a sales enablement service, raises $100M debt and equity led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Accel Partners, and others; MindTickle offers a suite of enterprise tools for training and coaching sales teams; has raised more than $180M to date . link

India-based Reliance Retail acquires direct-to-consumer firm Urban Ladder for ~$24M; Bangalore-based Urban Ladder sells home furnishing products online; raised ~$115M to date from Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners, and others . link

China-based drone company XAG (formerly XAircraft) raises ~$181.6M led by Baidu Capital and SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 with participation from Sinovation Ventures and others; the company offers drones aimed at the agricultural sector . link

Snap’s UK division reports $653M revenue for F19, up 61.7 percent year-on-year; the unit recorded $435M in losses; it also warns the COVID-19 pandemic could have a serious impact on its business; Snap UK will borrow as much as $500M from its parent firm over the next five years . link

Specs of the rumored Galaxy S21 lineup seemingly leak; Galaxy S21 wil have a 6.2-inch display, 4,000 mAh battery, and three back cameras; Galaxy S21+ will have a 6.7-inch display, 4,800 mAh battery, and three back cameras; will Galaxy S21 Ultra have a 6.8-inch display, 5,000 mAh, and four back cameras; expected to launch in January . link

Many owners of older MacBook Pros are reporting issues after installing macOS 11 Big Sur, reports MacRumors; anecdotal reports indicate issues for users of late 2013 and mid 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro; machines are getting stuck during the upgrade process, rendering them unusable; the cause of the problem is unclear . link

SpaceX successfully launches its first official crewed flight (the previous one was a considered a test); dubbed; Crew-1, the flight carried three NASA astronauts and one from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to the International Space Station . link

The download for 2020-11-15 →


The New York Times examines how lack of broadband access has impacted rural students during the pandemic; the coronavirus relief package Congress passed in March provided billions of dollars to support emergency education initiatives, but did not address the digital divide; Common Sense Media found that in 2018, ~15M K-12 students lived in homes with inadequate connectivity . link

UT-based onboarding solutions company GuideCX raises $10M Series A led by Sorenson Ventures; offers a platform for inviting internal teams, third-party vendors, more; provides task automation and tracking, etc; plans improved resource management and time tracking; raised $15M to date . link

Real estate loan investment platform AlphaFlow (YC W16) raises $10M Series A led by Saluda Grade Ventures; serves institutional investors, offering professionally managed loan portfolios; works with non-bank lenders offering 6-12 month bridge loans for the fix-and-flip industry; raised $16.5M to date . link

Kyklo, which provides a white-label e-commerce solution for wholesale distributors, raises $8.5M seed led by Felicis Ventures and IA Ventures; the company focuses on electrical and automation products; CEO Remi Ducrocq noted that many such distributors still rely on PDF catalogs to sell to manufacturers and electricians; Kyklo has established a catalog of 2.5M products for ~35 distributors . link

Springtide Child Development, which plans to launch a network of autism care centers, raises $18M from Deerfield Management and Optum Ventures; currently operates one clinic in CT, offering in-person and remote services; the funding will enable new locations in the Northeast . link

Husayn Kassai, co-founder and CEO of identity verification platform company Onfido, names former Talend CEO Mike Tuchen as his successor; Tuchen took Talend public in 2016; Kassai said Onfido would go public at some point, and he preferred a CEO with that experience; timeline undisclosed; Onfido saw rapid adoption during pandemic lockdowns as more people worked remotely; raised $200M-plus to date . link

Amazon updates text extraction service Textract with handwriting recognition (currently English only) and support for new languages; printed text support now includes French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish; the AWS service can process documents featuring both handwritten and printed text, such as medical intake forms and employment applications . link

Some iPhone 12 Mini owners are reporting problems with the display's responsiveness, specifically from the lock screen; some are unable to swipe up with a thumb to unlock; owners across Reddit, Apple's forums, and MacRumors' forums say the problem goes away when the phone is plugged in and suspect a hardware problem . link

GM recalls ~68k electric Chevy Bolts following reports of LG Chem battery fires, according to The Detroit News; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating three of five reported fires; GM received two reports of injury due to smoke inhalation; impacts units manufactured from 2017 to 2019 . link

GeekWire profiles Madrona Venture Group Founder Tom Alberg, covering his participation in Amazon's seed round and joining that company's board, his influence on the Pacific Northwest's tech economy, his roles in various organizations through the decades, his lifestyle and interests at 80, more . link

Boston-based NextView Ventures closes oversubscribed Fund IV at $90M; the firm, which also has an office in New York, initially targeted $70M; NextView focuses on pre-seed and seed investments in consumer startups and enterprise SaaS teams; portfolio includes ThredUp (which filed for IPO last month) and Ellevest; exits include Letgo (acquired by OfferUp) and The Outline (acquired by Bustle) . link

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office fines Ticketmaster's UK business $1.6M over a 2018 data breach in which criminals stole full credit card information belonging to 9.4M European customers, 1.5M of which lived in the UK; the office said ~60k cards were used for fraud, and that Ticketmaster had failed to put proper security measures in place to protect its customers . link

Amazon sends the second wave of invites for early access to video game-streaming service Luna; the company began the closed test last month, charging $6 per month; Luna operates with a channel model, like Prime Video, allowing users to subscribe piecemeal to publisher's offerings; the base subscription provides access to ~100 titles; Amazon said hundreds of thousands of people requested early access . link

Facebook is using AI to prioritize content for human moderation; the company previously used machine learning to automatically moderate low-priority content; Facebook combines user reports with AI models to identify, de-duplicate, filter, and rank content most likely requiring human consideration; the system places greater weight on items that rapidly gain traction on the network . link

UK to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, according to reports from the BBC and the Financial Times; PM Boris Johnson announced in February that the ban would take effect in 2035, five years ahead of the original target; an announcement reportedly could come as soon as next week . link

Right-leaning social network Parler, which topped download charts and doubled its user base last week as Republicans sought alternative platforms due to Facebook and Twitter's efforts to curtail election-related misinformation, has raised money from hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the Mercers previously invested in Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Trump's 2016 campaign . link

The Commerce Department grants Qualcomm a license to sell 4G-related mobile tech to Huawei; the US government imposed chip-related trade restrictions in September, prohibiting sales to Huawei without special authorization; Qualcomm has other relevant license applications pending . link

Unity ($30B market cap) Q3: $201M revenue, up 53 percent year-over-year; -$0.97 EPS; $144.7M net loss, compared to $45.5M for the year-earlier period; Unity expects $200M to $204M in revenue for the fourth quarter; this was the company's first quarterly earnings report since debuting on the NYSE in September . link

C3, which helps enterprises to integrate AI into operations, files for IPO; the company used a placeholder raise target; expects to list on the NYSE under ticker symbol link

Amazon launches GameOn for Android, enabling users to record and share videos of mobile gameplay (also browsable on the web); users can record videos from 30 seconds to five minutes, edit them, add captions and commentary, more; Recall feature allows the user to capture footage from the previous few minutes even if the app wasn't record-enabled; supports ~1k titles at launch . link

The download for 2020-11-14 →


DraftKings ($16.2B market cap) Q3 beats: $133M revenue ($132M expected); -$0.57 EPS (-$0.61 expected); 1M monthly unique players, up 64 percent year-over-year; the company raised its full-fiscal-year guidance from $500M-$540M to $540M-$560M; shares closed up ~four percent following the report . link

Autonomous driving tech company Aurora is in talks to acquire Uber's self-driving unit, Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), according to TechCrunch sources; Uber reported this month that its link

The newest version of macOS prevents VPNs and other apps from disabling or circumventing Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) requests, which macOS transmits unencrypted via CDN provider Akamai to Apple; includes location information, times specific apps are launched, more; Apple allows military and federal police to access this data without warrants . link

Google plans to support connecting Chromecast to Nest audio speakers; details on compatibility and launch window undisclosed; Apple TV links with HomePod products and Amazon Echo work with Fire TV . link

Wuling, a joint venture between GM and SAIC Motor, claims the top-selling EV in China: the $4.3k Hongguang Mini; the vehicle, which launched in July, has a top speed of 62 mph and a 105-mile range; Wuling sold ~55.7k units in the three-month period ending on Halloween; Tesla sold ~35.3k Model 3s in China during the same period . link

Google to shut down the Expeditions VR app, which offers educational virtual tours; the company will remove the app from stores at the end of June and will migrate tours to the Arts & Culture app; the company noted that VR poses accessibility issues for some learners; Google will also shut down Tour Creator, which enables people to make tours for Expeditions . link

Udemy, which operates a marketplace featuring ~130k educational courses, is raising ~$100M Series F at a $3B-plus valuation, according to a DE filing; investors valued the company at $2B-plus for $50M Series E in February; claims ~400M total course enrollments to date and ~7k business clients; this round excluded, the company has raised $223M to date . link

This Week in Startups: Ask Jason!Jason answers viewer questions about how students can get involved in entrepreneurship, non-US startups targeting the US market (too early or too late?), investing in solo-founder teams, sizing angel investments, managing angel portfolios, what he would change regarding his early career, growing a podcast, the impact of Apple's M1 chip on the industry, more . link

EV company Rivian reveals pricing for its coming R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, both of which are slated to launch by summer; the 300-mile-range launch editions will run $75k and $77.5k, respectively; Rivian plans to offer 250-mile versions of each vehicle, as well as a 400-mile battery pack for the R1T; the company's Rivian Driver+ driver assist feature will offer automatic steering, lane changes, and speed adjustments on select highways . link

The Trump administration extends ByteDance's deadline to divest of TikTok from Nov 12 to Nov 27; ByteDance requested an extension after petitioning a court to review an order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US requiring the sale of some assets to US-based firms; ByteDance said the administration had been unresponsive regarding the Chinese company's efforts to establish TikTok Global . link

DoorDash makes its IPO prospectus public after filing confidentially in February; the company generated $1.92B in revenue for the first nine months of the year, up from $587M for the year-earlier period; $149M net loss, compared to a $533M net loss for the first nine months of 2019; Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Affirm, DoorDash, and Wish would make their paperwork public in coming weeks and debut by year's end . link