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Showing posts from May, 2018

Virgin Galactic Completes Second Powered Flight Test of Spaceplane

Virgin Galactic this week conducted the second powered flight test of its VSS Unity spaceplane. The supersonic ship sailed over the Mojave Desert on Tuesday—54 days after igniting its engine for the first […]The post Virgin Galactic Completes Second Powered Flight Test of Spaceplane appeared first on Geek.com.

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New York VC Steve Schlafman has a new gig with Primary Venture Partners

Steve Schlafman has been an East Coast investor for roughly a decade — scouring deals for the Kraft Group ahead of joining Lerer Hippeau as an early employee, then spending more than four years as a principal with RRE Ventures before announcing on Twitter, to the surprise of some, that he was leaving the New York firm.Many guessed that Schalfman, like a growing number of people right now, was setting off to create his own venture outfit. Today, Schlafman say it was a consideration and that he did a bit of research toward this end, but that as an identical twin, he’s not really programmed to work on his own. Enter Primary Venture Partners, a seed-stage firm in New York that was previously known as High Peaks Venture Partners and has backed numerous high-profile startups —  Jet.com and Coupang among them — even while flying low itself.Schlafman had been friends for years with cofounders Ben Sun and Brad Svrluga, coinvesting with them in the civic app startup PublicStuff (acquired in 201…

Alcatel’s $100 Android Go phone hits the U.S. next week

At MWC, ZTE promised that its Tempo Go would be the first device to bring Android Oreo (Go Edition) to the States. But, well, stuff happened, and the company’s had a lot bigger things to deal with the intervening months. Alcatel, however, is on the case with the 1X. TCL announced this morning that the budget device will be hitting Amazon some time next, priced at an extremely affordable $100, unlocked. It will also be arriving at Best Buy and Walmart soon after, no doubt taking advantage of the fact that it’s the only Android Go handset available in the U.S. for the time being.The specs are unsurprisingly uninspiring. There’s a 960 x 480 5.3-inch screen, a MediaTek chip and 1GB or RAM. The good news, however, is that the new, lightweight version of Google’s mobile operating system is built for exactly those hardware restraints, which means you ought to get a much smoother Android experience than you would on a similarly-speced handset running the full OS.While the operating system is …

Neighborhood Goods raises $5.75M to reinvent the department store

Neighborhood Goods, a startup rethinking the traditional department store experience, is announcing that it has raised $5.75 million in seed funding.Co-founder and CEO Matt Alexander told me via email that while the largely static layout and offerings of a department store provide a degree “consistency and reliability,” they’re also “dull and unchanging,” as well as “fairly transactional with little more to provide.”So instead, Neighborhood Goods will allow around 15 brands to create their own “activations,” each highlighting the aesthetic and products that the brands choose. (Bulletin is another startup looking to bring a pop up approach to traditional retail.) The store will also have a restaurant and bar, and communal spaces that could be used for things like speaking events or art installations.“At Neighborhood Goods, we’re creating something more social and communal around an ever-changing landscape of products,” Alexander said, later adding, “Neighborhood Goods ostensibly takes …

The queer dating app Her expands with curated community spaces

After carving out a niche as the first dating app by and for queer women, Her is broadening its mission. Today, the app formerly known as Dattch is launching a Communities feature — kind of like a set of mini queer subreddits — to let people connect around interests and identity as a group.“We spent the past three years bringing people together in one on one conversations and introductions — communities is about taking it beyond the one on one,” Her founder Robyn Exton told TechCrunch.“We started paying attention to the number of queer spaces that are closing,” Exton said, noting that women’s centers, lesbian bars, queer bookshops and other queer IRL spaces are closing in record numbers in recent years. “We actually think they’re needed more than ever.”Her’s new Communities feature aims to create a digital version of those collective queer spaces, letting users connect with interest and identity-based groups, with message boards custom built for Her’s unique user base. Users can post …

Orange and Google form new partnership to invest in and buy EMEA startups

Google, more recently by way of parent company Alphabet, has been a prolific investor in startups across the globe by way of entities like GV and CapitalG. Today, it announced its newest effort in this area, specifically outside of the US. The search and Android giant is partnering with Orange Digital Ventures, the corporate venture fund of the French carrier Orange, on a new effort to find, fund, and potentially acquire startups in the EMEA region, and specifically in the areas of the internet of things, cybersecurity, cloud services, AI, fintech and connectivity solutions.The two are not disclosing a specific fund size, nor are they talking about any financial terms in this deal at this point, except to note that the investments could potentially be made at any stage, from seed to growth, depending on the startup in question.The two expect the first investments to be announced later this year.“Our goal is to join forces in financing the most promising digital startups,” said Marc Re…

Ethereum wallet imToken raises $10M Series A from IDG to expand in the U.S., Asia and Africa

imToken, which claims to be the world’s largest Ethereum wallet, will focus on expanding in Asia and the United States after raising a $10 million Series A from IDG Capital, it announced today. The capital will also be used to add new features, including support for Bitcoin, EOS and other blockchains.imToken is the latest addition to IDG Capital’s cryptocurrency investments, which include Coinbase and Circle. In a press statement, global chairman Hugo Shong said “imToken has developed its product into one of the top crypto asset wallets in the world with such a sound reputation. We believe it will become a significant infrastructure for the tokenization manifesto, benefitting both the crypto economy and blockchain technology. We’re excited to back imToken.”Founded in 2016 by chief executive officer Ben He and based in Hangzhou, imToken’s core market is currently China. The company supports 30,000 tokens, claims more than 4 million monthly active users and says it handled $35 million i…

Intel Announces New Optane DC Persistent Memory

Intel has unveiled a new tier of Optane storage -- one designed to bridge the gap between volatile and non-volatile memory and create a new class of "Persistent" memory in the process.The post Intel Announces New Optane DC Persistent Memory appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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PayPal and Singapore’s Temasek invest $125M in Indian payment startup Pine Labs

Fresh from agreeing its largest acquisition to date with a deal to buy European payment firm iZettle for $2.2 billion, PayPal is on the investment hunt once again after it backed India’s Pine Labs with a $125 million round.The financing jointly comes from PayPal and Temasek, the sovereign investment fund from the Singaporean government with over $200 billion in assets. Both will take undisclosed “minority shares” in Pine Labs. Sequoia made a seed investment in 2009 and it remains the startup’s largest-single investor, the VC firm said.The new deal takes New Delhi-based Pine Labs to $208 million raised from investors to date. It previously closed an $82 million investment from PE funds Actis and Altimeter Capital in March of this year at a reported valuation of $900 million. Recent reports speculated on the Temasek investment (but not PayPal) which would give Pine Labs a valuation of over $1 billion, thus vaulting it into the global ‘unicorn’ club. A spokesperson declined to give a con…

Trilogy Education gets $50M to build a market-driven bootcamp program for universities

While coding bootcamps may be in the middle of a shakeout, technology companies around the world are still going to be struggling to fill slots with people equipped with the skills to tackle real-world problems right from the get-go — and Dan Sommer hopes the answer is through universities.That’s the premise behind Trilogy Education, which today said it is raising another $50 million round after raising $30 million last year. This round is led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from new investorsDan Sommer and Macquarie Group. The company works with around 35 universities to identify skills gaps that they can fill with programs — such as through continuing education — that can get students ready to work at a variety of technology companies right away. Throughout all this, the startup works to collect data and feedback on each course and tune it as workforce needs change over time.“The mission of these institutions through these programs is to open access to new types of …

Hello Alfred raises $40M to bring hotel-style hospitality to more households

New York-based chore wizard Hello Alfred is about expand its mission to make life easier, one to-do list at a time. The company commands a small army of thoroughly trained home helpers who take care of domestic tasks like sorting mail, taking out the trash and picking up groceries. Those helpers pop by on a weekly basis, and subscribers pay a monthly subscription fee to free their lives of little things that tend to add up to more than the sum of their parts.Now, with a new $40 million Series B round, Hello Alfred is set to scale. The round was led by investors including real estate developers Divco West and Invesco. Spark Capital and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) also participated in the $40 million round after previously investing in the company. The company won our Startup Battlefield at Disrupt in 2014, back when it was just “Alfred.”With its Series B, Hello Alfred will execute its plan to expand from serving 10,000 homes (some in Alfred partnered apartment buildings) to serving…

Nokia closes digital health sale to Withings founder Eric Carreel, who plans relaunch by EOY

Nokia has closed the books on its unlucky foray into digital health devices and services, and with it, a business is marking its return to the world of startups. Today, the Finnish telecoms giant announced that it has closed the sale of its digital health division, along with 200 employees, to Eric Carreel, the former chairman and co-founder of Withings. Now Carreel plans to relaunch the business once again under the Withings brand by the end of this year, with products focused on preventive health.Withings had formed the core of Nokia’s digital health business after it acquired the company, famous for its smart scales, in 2016 for €170 million. Nokia later rebranded the business as Nokia Digital Health.“I am delighted to start working again with the brilliant teams that made the brand such a great success” said Carreel in a statement. “We have an exciting challenge ahead of us as we continue to push the boundaries of connected health.”The deal comes less than a month after Nokia anno…

Why Self-Driving Cars Keep Running Into Things

We're enthralled by the idea of cars that can whisk us anywhere without us lifting a finger, but in the meantime some of the early efforts are making what seems like a rookie mistake and plowing into parked vehicles. We look at why.The post Why Self-Driving Cars Keep Running Into Things appeared first on ExtremeTech.

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GM’s Cruise gets $2.25b from Softbank’s Vision Fund, $1.1b from GM

General Motors today announced a large investment into its self-driving unit, Cruise. Softbank’s Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC and when the deal closes, GM will invest an additional $1.1 billion.“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers. “The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage. We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”Breaking…

Virtru secures $37 million Series B led by Iconiq

Virtru, the security startup that came out of research at the NSA, announced a $37 million Series B financing round today led by Iconiq Capital.The company also announced the formation of Virtru Labs, an entity to be led by company co-founder and CTO Will Ackerly. The Lab will act as an innovation engine for the company, while trying to make Virtru’s underlying technology, Trusted Data Format (TDF), an industry standard for exchanging data securely in a similar manner that PDF developed into a standard way of exchanging documents.CEO and co-founder John Ackerly (and brother of Will) says this has been a goal since the earliest days of the company and starting the lab is one of the reasons they wanted to raise this round. “My brother and I firmly believe you need an open framework in order to achieve the vision of true default security,” he told TechCrunch.They believe by investing time and dollars to get third parties to adopt the TDF and adopting all tiers of this data format, it cou…

Researchers create the first 3D-printed corneas

Researchers at Newcastle University have been able to 3D-print a biocompatible corneal framework using a new gel formulations that “keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer.”There is a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant, with 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder,” wrote the researchers. “In addition, almost 5 million people suffer total blindness due to corneal scarring caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion or disease.”The product uses “human corneal stromal cells” from a donor cornea mixed with alginate and collagen to create bio-ink that can turn into a living cornea. This means that one donor cornea can help multiple patients.““This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydr…

Pinterest gives advertisers a way to show promoted videos that take up the screen

Pinterest is continuing its push into video as a potential avenue for advertisers by today saying that it will offer advertisers a promoted video tool that takes up the width of the entire screen.While Pinterest normally offers users a grid that they can flip through — compressing a lot of content into a small space — taking up the full width of the screen with a promoted video would offer advertisers considerable real estate if they’re looking to get the attention of users. Pinterest pitches itself to advertisers as a strong alternative to Facebook or Google, giving marketers a way to reach an audience that behaves a little more differently than when on those other platforms and coming to Pinterest to discover new things.The company also said it’s hired Tina Pukonen as an entertainment strategist and Mike Chuthakieo as an industry sales lead. Pinterest says more than 42 million people in the U.S. come to Pinterest for entertainment ideas, and that potential tool offers an interesting…

UK puts legal limits on drone flight heights and airport no-fly zones

The UK has announced new stop-gap laws for drone operators restricting how high they can fly their craft — 400ft — and prohibiting the devices from being flown within 1km of an airport boundary. The measures will come into effect on July 30.The government says the new rules are intended to enhance safety, including the safety of passengers of aircraft — given a year-on-year increase in reports of drone incidents involving aircraft. It says there were 93 such incidents reported in the country last year, up from 71 the year before.And while the UK’s existing Drone Code (which was issued in 2016) already warns operators to restrict drone flights to 400ft — and to stay “well away” from airports and aircraft — those measures are now being baked into law, via an amendment to the 2016 Air Navigation Order (ahead of a full drone bill which was promised for Spring but still hasn’t materialized yet).UK drone users who flout the new height and airport boundary restrictions face being charged wit…

Xiaomi’s new fitness band has 20-day battery life and 50-meter water resistance

Xiaomi’s very-iPhone-X-looking Mi 8 smartphone was the highlight of its Shenzhen press event today, but the company did also unveil a number of other notable products, including an updated version of its popular fitness band.The Mi Band has always offered a solid performance at around $30 — to the point that I’ve bought two of them for myself — and the third incarnation pushes things further. Mi Band 3 includes a longer 20 days of battery life per charge, 50-meter water resistance and a new band design that Xiaomi touts as being both more comfortable and more secure on your wrist.Like the Mi Band 2, the third-gen tracker includes a pulse monitor and the usual fitness tracking. It syncs to the Xiaomi Mi Fit app, with data exportation to other services possible.The Mi Band isn’t a full blown fitness band, for example it doesn’t include GPS so it won’t help you track runs on apps like Strava, but at just 69 yuan, or around $25, it is a seriously cheap option. The Mi Band 3 will make its …

More speakers, panels at The Europas, and how to get your ticket free

The Europas Unconference & Awards is back on 3 July in London and we’re excited to announce more speakers and panel sessions as the event takes shape. Crypto and Blockchain will be a major theme this year, and we’re bringing together many of the key players. TechCrunch is once again the key media partner, and if you attend The Europas you’ll be first in the queue to get offers for TC events and Disrupt Europe later in the year.You can also potentially get your ticket for free just by sharing your own ticket link with friends and followers. See below for the details and instructions.To recap, we’re jumping straight into our popular breakout sessions where you’ll get up close and personal with some of Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders.The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.Our Crypto HQ will feature two tracks of panels, one focused on investing and the other on how bloc…

Feeling pressure from Russia, Telegram says Apple has blocked updates since mid-April, app missed GDPR deadline

Encrypted messaging app Telegram is feeling the squeeze out of Russia, where regulators are not letting up in their ongoing attempts to block the app because its publishers refuse to provide regulators with access to messages on the platform. Pavel Durov has announced that Telegram app for iOS is no longer updating after the iOS 11.4 update this week: the updates are being “prevented” by Apple after the regulator ordered Apple to remove Telegram from the App Store, and that has also meant that Telegram has not been able to issue its GDPR update to comply with the new European regulations. For now, Telegram is still in the App Store, albeit with an out-of-date, non-GDPR-compliant version of the app.The news caps off what has been a troubling week for Telegram. Days ago, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) announced that it had made a formal request to Apple to stop distributing the app in the country, and also to stop enabling push notifications for those who alread…

Xiaomi’s Mi 8 may be its most brazen iPhone copycat yet

Chinese smartphone firm Xiaomi, which is headed for IPO in Hong Kong, just announced its newest flagship smartphone and a bunch of other products at a launch event in Shenzhen today.Xiaomi has long been accused of copying Apple, but in recent years its design seemed to develop a little more independence than before. Well, that all changes with the Mi 8, which — design-wise — is a pretty clearly focused on the iPhone X.The Mi 8 is Xiaomi’s first phone to sport a notch. While it is true that many in the industry have copied Apple so mercilessly that the notch has practically become standardized, Xiaomi’s newest device bears more than a passing resemblance to the iPhone X.Xiaomi’s Mi 8 on the left, versus Apple’s iPhone X on the rightEven with its naming, Xiaomi has pulled an Apple. In the same way that Apple jumped to the iPhone X (10) to mark its tenth year as a phone-maker, so Xiaomi has gone from its previous Mi 6 mode to the Mi 8 to mark its eighth anniversary as a company.Beyond th…

ASUS announces a motherboard just for crypto-mining

Mining hardware is weird stuff. Either it’s commodity hardware used – inefficiently – for complex computation or specifically-designed, expensive boards that can be used to bring in Bitcoin and little else. Asus, a motherboard maker of some renown, is now helping bridge the gap.The H370 Mining Master is a basic motherboard that supports 20 graphics cards, the boards used for Ethereum and other less resource-intensive scripts. The cards connect via PCIe-over-USB and each port has is individually controlled and managed by on-board diagnostics. This lets you ensure that each graphics card is running properly and fully connected.From the release:Less time maintaining your machine means more time mining with it, which is why the H370 Mining Master includes a suite of diagnostic features designed to make your platform easier to manage. Chief among them is GPU State Detection, which scans the system at boot and indicates whether each riser port is empty, connected to a functional graphics ca…

Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product

Jake BrightContributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributorAfrica Roundup: Safaricom unveils Bonga, Africa’s Talking gets $8.6M, TechCrunch visits Nigeria, GhanaSafaricom rolls out Bonga social networking platform to augment M-Pesa Seeking to tap into Africa’s informal savings groups the Nigerian investment startup Piggybank.ng closed $1.1M in seed funding and announced a new product — Smart Target, which offers a more secure and higher return option for Esusu or Ajo group savings clubs common across West Africa.The financing was led with a $1 million commitment from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform contributing $50,000 each.Founded in 2016, Piggybank.ng offers online savings plans — primarily to low and middle income Nigerians — for deposits of small amounts on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. There are no upfront fees.Savers earn interest rates of between 6 to 10 per…