India’s Times Internet isn’t ceding ground to US rivals Facebook and Google


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


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The aggressive push by Silicon Valley companies and Chinese firms to win India, one of the last great growth markets, has decimated many local businesses in recent years. With each passing day, Amazon is closing in on Walmart-owned Flipkart’s lead on the e-commerce space. Uber is fighting with Ola for the tentpole position of the ride-hailing market; and Google and Facebook dominate the ads business, to name a few. But a handful of companies in India have not only survived the growing competition, but they have built businesses that are positively thriving.

Media conglomerate Times Internet, one such company, says that its properties now reach 110 million users each day and 450 million users each month. To put this in context: Facebook and Google have about 300 million monthly active users in India. Facebook, which is mired in controversy over the spread of misinformation on WhatsApp in

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Apple Pay is coming to New York City’s MTA transit system this summer


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It’s been nearly two years since we wrote that New York City would finally be upgrading its transit system to take “tap-to-pay” contactless payments, but Apple’s Tim Cook says it’s finally coming true — on the company’s Q2 earnings call today, the CEO told investors that Apple Pay will begin rolling out to New York City’s MTA transit system starting in “early summer” of this year, letting you tap a phone or watch to pay instantly.

But it probably won’t just be Apple Pay, because a few quick web searches show that NYC has actually already announced a specific date for a contactless payment system that should support other phone-based wallets (perhaps rival Android Pay?) and even contactless credit cards.

It’s called OMNY (you know, like…

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AWS opens up its managed blockchain as a service to everybody


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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After announcing that they were launching a managed blockchain service late last year, Amazon Web Services is now opening that service up for general availability.

It was only about five months ago that AWS chief executive Andy Jassy announced that the company was reversing course on its previous dismissal of blockchain technologies and laid out a new service it would develop on top of open source frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum.

“Customers want to use blockchain frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum to create blockchain networks so they can conduct business quickly, with an immutable record of transactions, but without the need for a centralized authority. However, they find these frameworks difficult to install, configure, and manage,” said Rahul Pathak, General Manager, Amazon Managed Blockchain at AWS, in a statement. “Amazon Managed Blockchain takes care of provisioning nodes, setting up the network, managing

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Game of Thrones cinematographer: it’s not me, it’s your TV settings


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Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3, “The Long Night.”

Perhaps you, like countless other that have sounded off on social media in the past few days, had trouble viewing the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, in which the living faced off against the dead in the dark of night. There was plenty of fire to go around, but for the most part, the episode was a flurry of hard-to-see action taking place in poorly lit environments. Even diehard fans were complaining en masse.

Know that the decision to film the episode in such a fashion was a purposeful one, according to cinematographer Fabian Wagner, and that he blames your TV settings or the quality of your screen if you had trouble making out what was…

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SoftBank Vision Fund says its team will balloon to a whopping 800 people by late next year


This post is by Connie Loizos from TechCrunch


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SoftBank Vision Fund has its pedal to the metal in more ways than one. On stage at the Milken Institute Global Conference yesterday, the CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisors, Rajeev Misra, reportedly disclosed plans to double the size of the investment arm from 400 employees to 800 employees over the next 18 months.

That’s a lot of people  — especially when considering that last September, one of SoftBank Vision Fund’s managing directors, Jeffrey Housenbold, told this editor that the organization employed 86 people across across offices in Tokyo, London, and San Carlos, Ca.

Then again, much has happened in the seven months since that sit-down. For one thing, SoftBank — which had been flying its managing directors back and forth to China to kick the tires on potential deals — decided to start assembling an investment team to be based in China and managed by Eric Chen, a former Hong

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SoftBank makes a huge bet on Latin America


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Rappi represents a new era for Latin American technology startups.

Based in Bogotá, Colombia, the on-demand delivery startup has taken the region by storm, attracting a record amount of venture capital funding in mere months. Today marks the beginning of a new round of explosive growth as SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant and prolific Silicon Valley tech investor, has confirmed a $1 billion investment in the business.

The king-sized financing comes two months after SoftBank announced its Innovation Fund, a new pool of capital committed to spending billions on the growing tech ecosystem in Central and South America.

VC funding in Latin America catapulted to new heights in 2018. Startups located across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and more have secured nearly $2.5 billion since the beginning of 2018, according to PitchBook, up from less than $1 billion invested in 2017.

SoftBank plans to transfer the Rappi investment to

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YouTube sets a goal of having half of trending videos coming from its own site


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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YouTube wants to have half of the featured videos in its trending tab come from streams originating on the company’s own site going forward, according to the latest quarterly letter from chief executive Susan Wojcicki.

The letter, directed to YouTube’s users, is meant to help ease concerns the site’s biggest stars have over copyright challenges, advertising policies and video monetization — along with their shrinking presence on the site’s trending feature.

It’s been a rough quarter for YouTube. The company had to deal with yet another child predator scandal, which prompted the company to completely shut down comment sections on most videos featuring minors. 

The Alphabet-owned video company was also forced to wrestle with its role in the spread of a global anti-vaccination campaign that has helped foster a resurgence in Measles cases around the world —

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AR will mean dystopia if we don’t act today


This post is by David Riggs from TechCrunch


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The martial arts actor Jet Li turned down a role in the Matrix and has been invisible on our screens because he does not want his fighting moves 3D-captured and owned by someone else. Soon everyone will be wearing 3D-capable cameras to support augmented reality (often referred to as mixed reality) applications. Everyone will have to deal with the sorts of digital-capture issues across every part of our life that Jet Li avoided in key roles and musicians have struggled to deal with since Napster. AR means anyone can rip, mix and burn reality itself.

Tim Cook has warned the industry about “the data industrial complex” and advocated for privacy as a human right. It doesn’t take too much

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USV closes on $450M for new funds, adds two partners


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm known for early bets in Twitter, Etsy and Tumblr, has $450 million in capital commitments to plow into the next generation of technology startups.

The capital, which comes in just above the $429 million USV filed to raise earlier this year, is divided across two new funds: $200 million for its 2019 Core Fund and $250 million for the 2019 Opportunity Fund. The two funds are larger than their predecessors, which both closed on $175 million in 2016.

USV is expanding its partnership to manage the new funds. The firm announced today the hiring of Gillian Munson as a partner. Munson was most recently the chief financial officer at XO Media, a business responsible for several brands, including wedding planning site The Knot. Additionally, USV has promoted Nick Grossman, the firm’s former general manager of special projects, to partner. Grossman focuses on cryptonetworks

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Services really are becoming a bigger part of Apple’s business


This post is by Greg Kumparak from TechCrunch


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We’ve known for a while now that Apple was going to be putting more of an emphasis on services. As the technical leaps from one iPhone/iPad/Mac generation to the next become less dramatic, product revenue has started to shrink; in response, the company is focusing on driving forward on things like the App Store, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple Music, and its soon-to-launch games and video offerings.

This shift is already playing out in the company’s financials. While product sales dipped a bit year-over-year — down from $51.3B in the quarter that ran from January to March 2018 to $46.6B in the same quarter of 2019 — revenue from the services business climbed from $9.9B to $11.5B.

In this fiscal Q2 quarter of 2018, Apple’s total revenue came in at roughly $61.1B; in the same quarter of 2019, it dipped to $58B. This works out

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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt will leave Alphabet’s board after 18 years


This post is by Jacob Kastrenakes from The Verge - All Posts


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Eric Schmidt will depart Alphabet’s board this June, after holding a seat for 18 years. His departure comes just over a year after Schmidt stepped down from his role as Alphabet’s executive chairman — it also comes as Google struggles with internal turmoil over its involvement with US military contracts, potential business in China, and reported cover-ups of sexual misconduct.

Schmidt has been a key presence at Google during his time with the company. He initially took a board seat in 2001, when he was made CEO of Google — a role he was given essentially to lend business expertise to what company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had been building. In 2011, he left the CEO position and become Google’s executive chairman. At the…

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Border officials have ‘near-unfettered’ access to electronic devices, ACLU says


This post is by Colin Lecher from The Verge - All Posts


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United States officials have largely unchecked power to search electronic devices at the border, and can share the resulting data widely, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

The organization, which is suing both Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agencies had released new information on how they conduct border searches. Civil liberties advocates have argued that officials are exercising unconstitutional powers to search devices, and the ACLU and Electronic Frontier foundation today asked a federal court to rule without trial that those searches violate the First and Fourth Amendments.

“The information we uncovered…

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Slack vocab game that gave away money for no real reason is getting shut down


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Workplace communication platform Slack says it will be deactivating a public channel dedicated to giving away $1,000 per day to anyone that can guess that day’s selected vocabulary word, citing company policies. The game, called The Word of the Day Is, was started by Gabriel Whaley last week as an experiment. It used a Slack bot to monitor entries, which were any one-word messages entered into the public channel. Winners were then sent the money via Venmo.

Whaley, the founder and CEO of a New York City-based creative agency called MSCHF Internet Studios, told The Verge at the time that he was “just trying to keep the internet a fun place and an escape.” In quick order, the game gained popularity and write-ups from major news…

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Apple, Luminary, Spotify, and the podcast wars to come


This post is by Zachary Mack from The Verge - All Posts


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The podcast wars are coming. After Luminary’s troubled launch, The Verge’s Nilay Patel and Ashley Carman sit down with podcast expert Nick Quah of Hot Pod to discuss if Luminary or anyone could be “the Netflix of podcasts” and where the industry is headed.

You can listen to the discussion in its entirety on The Vergecast right now. Below is a lightly edited excerpt from the interview.

Nilay Patel: I think the podcast war is coming. I think the question of “why isn’t the podcast industry more like TV” is because all of those TV companies have their own distribution. NBC owns antennas in the world, and they control a massive distribution point: cable companies they sell to other cable companies, and that’s a massive distribution point….

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The curious case of Slack’s missing $162 million


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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Slack has filed its S-1 registration statement with the SEC in preparation for its direct listing. One interesting dataset that usually comes out of these S-1s is the company’s actual fundraising history. Slack has raised eight main rounds (series A-H), and 15 rounds total when including individual tranches since it incorporated on February 25, 2009 according to Delaware records.

Now that we have data, we can ask: how did the tech press do in covering the company?

Arman and I investigated by looking at coverage of Slack’s individual rounds of capital on startup news sites and comparing those reported numbers to the data now offered in the S-1. For the most part, the tech press did decently well, except for one curious, $162 million gap.

The missing Form D

First, though, a note about Form Ds.

Spot.IM raises $25M to help publishers engage with readers


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Spot.IM announced today that it has raised $25 million in Series D funding.

We’ve written about the company’s commenting platform before, but CEO Nadav Shoval said it’s now building a broader “community platform.”

That platform goes beyond commenting and moderation to also include community pages and other ways to highlight and monetize user generated content. Its customers include Hearst, Refinery29, Fox News and our corporate siblings at Engadget and AOL.com.

Shoval argued that these tools are particularly important as digital media businesses models are struggling — regardless of whether those publishers are focused on advertising, subscriptions or other business model, the key is to focus on loyal users rather than “random users that come in and disappear.

Spot.IM can make a big difference in this area by keeping users engaged, and by providing data to help publishers understanding the behavior and value of their users. In

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YouTube CEO addresses top creator issues including copyright claims and trending section


This post is by Julia Alexander from The Verge - All Posts


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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published a blog post today addressing some of creators’ biggest concerns and frustrations, including copyright claims removing ads from their videos, the site’s trending section not showing some of the most popular uploads, and comments being removed for family vloggers.

It’s clear from Wojcicki’s blog that addressing the community’s most consistent complaints was a top priority — and chief among those is copyright claims. Copyright claims on videos, which lead to YouTubers not earning ad revenue, are a constant source of aggravation. Many of the situations that Wojcicki indirectly refers to in the blog post are from top creators, like Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, who has spoken about losing out on ad revenue…

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Apple Q2: iPads up, iPhones down


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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Today’s big story for Apple revenue was once again focused on services. That’s likely to be the tale for the foreseeable future, as the company continues to pump billions into products offerings like Apple TV+.

As predicted, hardware was more of a mixed bag for the company. The iPad, a bright spot in an otherwise stagnant tablet market also marked a key highlight the quarter, as revenue jumped 22 percent year over year. Notably, the company now offers its largest range of slates, with recent quiet refreshes to the Air and Mini following last year’s big Pro update.

Revenue for Mac dipped slightly, in spite of a recent refreshes to the MacBook Pro and iMac and last year’s milestone of 100 million Macs in use. Late last month, the company apologized for on-going woes involving its MacBook keyboards.

iPhones, meanwhile, missed expectations slightly, maintaining the recent downturn in handset sales.

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The 5 biggest announcements from Facebook’s F8 developer conference keynote


This post is by Adi Robertson from The Verge - All Posts


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Facebook’s F8 developer conference kicked off today, and the company just finished its opening keynote. Its overwhelming theme, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is that “the future is private.” After a year plagued by controversy over whether Facebook is invading its users’ privacy and encouraging social division, it’s pushing hard on helping people connect with close family and friends.

During the keynote, Facebook announced updates to Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook’s core service. We also got more news about the Oculus Quest and Rift S virtual reality headsets — and about a new dating feature that could spark some very intense interactions between you and your friends.

Facebook is being redesigned around groups and events

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Apple’s stock jumps 5 percent after beating expectations


This post is by Connie Loizos from TechCrunch


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Apple released earnings for its fiscal second quarter today, reporting revenue of $58 billion, a decline of 5 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.46, down 10 percent. International sales accounted for 61 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The market apparently approves. Apple’s shares have jumped $10 apiece since the earnings were released, putting the company in spitting distance of the $1 trillion market cap it has been flirting with since last August.

The earnings are also in line with the guidance that Apple had provided during its last earnings call. In late January, per Apple’s guidance for the second quarter, it had estimated that its revenue would fall between $55 billion and $59 billion, its gross margins between 37 and 38 percent; its operating expenses between $8.5 billion and $8.6 billion; and that it would see other income of $300

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