Postmates raises another $300M, reportedly valued at $1.2B

On-demand delivery service Postmates announced this morning that it has raised $300 million in additional funding led by Tiger Global Management. While the company’s press release doesn’t mention this, Fortune reports that the deal valued Postmates at $1.2 billion. Tiger’s Scott Schleifer is joining the board of directors. Postmates does say that it’s completing “millions” of deliveries every month and is profitable in 90 percent of its markets, and that over the past four years, gross margins have “improved dramatically to nearly 50%.” Over the past few months, Postmates expanded into more than 100 new cities (it’s now available in more than 400 U.S. cities, as well as Mexico City) and also announced partnerships with companies like Instacart and Walmart. Postmates previously raised a $140 million round at a $600 million valuation in 2016. More broadly, it looks like VCs aren’t backing away from the on-demand delivery
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Marketing data startup Singular raises $30M

Singular, a startup working to unify data for marketers, is announcing that it has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The company was founded by former Onavo executives, including Gadi Eliashiv, Eran Friedman and Susan Kuo — who now serve, respectively, as Singular’s CEO, CTO and COO. Eliashiv explained that Singular was created in response to “this trend of data explosion in the marketing stack,” which require marketers to pull data from hundreds or thousands of different systems. “Essentially what we see is the creation of this new category of marketing intelligence, where the complexity of the marketing stack has created the need for this layer that sits on top,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you use a marketing cloud like Adobe that’s bundling five products together — at the end of the day, you need a layer on top on making sense of it, helping
Singular Dashboard
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Amazon’s ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ wins big at the Emmys

Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” dominated the comedy categories at tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards, winning for outstanding comedy series, supporting actress in a comedy series (Alex Borstein), lead actress in a comedy series (Rachel Brosnahan), writing in a drama series (Amy Sherman-Palladino) and directing in a comedy series (Amy Sherman-Palladino). It’s an impressive showing for a freshman show, but long overdue recognition for Sherman-Palladino — who somehow was never nominated for “Gilmore Girls.” As of tonight, she’s the first woman to win the combination of best comedy writing and directing. It’s also amusing to see Amazon do so well at the awards after CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly decreed that the streaming service shift its focus from critically acclaimed shows with a niche audience to big budget blockbusters like its “Lord of the Rings” prequel. (And yes, it’s embarrassing that I co-host a podcast that’s all about streaming shows and
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Stripe moves into brick-and-mortar payments with Terminal

Stripe is expanding beyond online payments with the launch of a new product for in-person payments at brick-and-mortar stores, called Terminal. The company said Terminal has three main components — there’s hardware, namely card readers built by Stripe partners BBPOS and Verifone, but also SDKs and APIs for customizing checkout experiences, as well as software for managing connected devices. Stripe’s co-founder and president John Collison discussed the launch at the Code Commerce conference today. Interviewer Jason Del Rey brought up Square, which seems like the obvious point of comparison, and Collison acknowledged there will probably be areas where the companies will compete. However, he argued that Stripe and Square are largely targeting different customers — where Square built a card reader for businesses like coffee shops and restaurants, Stripe is aimed at more tech-savvy businesses. Its initial Terminal customers include Warby Parker and Glossier, and it’s also being used by
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Daily Burn plans a new line of fitness apps, starting with HIIT Workouts

Daily Burn, the online fitness brand owned by IAC, launched a new iPhone app today devoted to the popular workout style known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Daily Burn already offers a general training app, but the company says it’s planning a whole series of vertical workout apps, starting with HIIT Workouts. They are “bringing personalized workout training to every member tailored to their interests.” If you’re wondering exactly what HIIT is, the individual exercises may be familiar, but as a Daily Burn article puts it, it’s all combined into “quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.” There’s no shortage of HIIT workout apps, or HIIT workouts in broader fitness apps (for example, I’ve tried out several through my Fitbit Coach subscription). But Daily Burn points to the combination of guided video workouts (so you’re less likely to mess things
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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Insatiable’ is even worse than you’ve heard

“Insatiable,” the Netflix comedy about an overweight high school girl who suddenly becomes slim and beautiful thanks to having her jaw wired shut for a summer, has been drawing controversy ever since its first trailer went online. The reviews for the show were almost uniformly negative, yet they didn’t quite prepare me for the terribleness of the initial episodes, which alternate between feeble attempts to mine humor from hot-button issues like sexual assault and suicide, and even feebler attempts to treat those issues seriously. To help me figure out just what makes this show so bad, I was joined by Original Content‘s original co-host, Darrell Etherington. Our ultimate question: Is this the worst thing we’ve watched for the podcast? (Yes.) We also discuss the fact that Henry Cavill has been cast as the lead in Netflix’s adaptation of the “Witcher” video game franchise. This episode was actually
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iHeartMedia is acquiring HowStuffWorks

iHeartMedia has agreed to acquire Stuff Media, the company that owns the HowStuffWorks podcasting business. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but both the Wall Street Journal and Variety are reporting that the acquisition price was $55 million. According to the announcement, Stuff Media podcasts will retain their branding and the organization will remain headquartered in Atlanta, while President and CEO Conal Byrne joins iHeartMedia as the head of its podcasting division. HowStuffWorks was originally founded in 1998 and had a number of owners before spinning out as an independent company and raising a $15 million Series A last year. In recent years, its focus has shifted from explainer articles and videos to podcasts, and in fact, it says those podcasts receive more than 61 million downloads and streams each month, with Stuff You Should Know surpassing 500 million downloads this year. iHeartMedia,
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Meet the five Startup Battlefield finalists at Disrupt SF 2018

Over the past two days, 21 companies have taken the stage at the Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield. We’ve now taken the feedback from all our expert judges and chosen five teams to compete in the finals. These teams will all take the stage again tomorrow afternoon to present in front of a new set of judges and answer even more in-depth questions. Then one startup will be chosen as the winner of the Battlefield Cup — and they’ll also take home $100,000. Here are the finalists. The competition will be livestreamed on TechCrunch starting at 1:35pm on Friday.

CB Therapeutics

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CB Therapeutics is a new biotech company that aims to change the game with cannabinoids produced cleanly and cheaply in the lab, out of sugar. What it’s done is bioengineer microorganisms — specifically yeast — to manufacture cannabinoids out of plain-old sugars. Read more about CB Therapeutics here.

Forethought

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Forethought
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Kinta AI uses artificial intelligence to make factories more efficient

Kinta AI aims to make manufacturers smarter about how they deploy their equipment and other factory resources. The company, which is presenting today at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in San Francisco, was founded by a team with plenty of experience in finance, tech and AI. CEO Steven Glinert has held management and AI roles at fintech startups, CTO Rob Donnelly is studying the intersection of machine learning and economics as a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford and VP of Engineering Ben Zax has worked at both Facebook and Google. Glinert told me that when factory owners are making production decisions, they’re usually relying on “dumb software” to decide which machines should be used when, which can result in machines being deployed at the wrong time or in the wrong sequence, or sitting idle when they shouldn’t be. As a result, he said that scheduling errors account for 45 percent of late
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Salesforce research: Yep, consumers are worried about their data

Recent headlines at TechCrunch and elsewhere have been filled with news about data breaches, data misuse and other data-related scandals. But has that actually affected how consumers think about their personal data? A new report from Salesforce Reserach sheds some light on this question. In a survey of 6,723 individuals globally, Salesforce found that 59 percent of of respondents believe their personal information is vulnerable to security breach, while 54 percent believe that the companies with that data don’t have their best interests in mind. Respondents also said that these feelings will affect their choices as consumers — for example, 86 percent said that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to share their experiences, and that number goes up to 91 percent among millennials and Gen Zers. The findings seem similar to (if more general than research from Pew showing that Americans have become more cautious and and
salesforce research chart
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Kids’ gaming platform Roblox raises $150M

Roblox, which allows kids to create 3D worlds and games, has raised an additional $150 million in funding. The company didn’t disclose its valuation in the announcement, but a source with knowledge of the deal told us that it valued Roblox at more than $2.5 billion — the price that Microsoft paid to acquire Minecraft four years ago. “This is a big year for us that fortifies the dream,” said co-founder and CEO David Baszucki . Earlier this year, Roblox announced that it had become cash-flow positive, and Baszucki told me the company remains “extremely profitable.” So why raise more money? “First and foremost, the reason to fundraise is to have a war chest, to have a buffer, to have the opportunity to do acquisitions, to have a strong balance sheet as we grow internationally,” he said. In order to support that growth, Baszucki said Roblox will
Roblox Developers Conferen
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Location data platform Factual raises $42M

Factual announced this morning that it has raised $42 million in new funding. The company launched in 2009 and now provides location data to customers like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. And it’s still adding new capabilities, like the ability for advertisers to measure whether their campaigns drove in-store visits. Founder and CEO Gil Elbaz said that there’s now a big opportunity and a big threat around location data. “The opportunity is, the world is reinventing around AI and data science,” he said. “The threat is that duopoly — Google, Facebook and perhaps add an Amazon. [Other] companies are looking for the right partners to augment their first-party data. That trend started in the U.S. and now it’s aggressively moving beyond.” Factual raised the new funding, in large part, to fund that growth beyond the United States, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Elbaz said that even without
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TikTok adds video reactions to its newly-merged app

Just about a month after the merger of the short-form video apps Musical.ly and TikTok, the app is introducing a new social feature, allowing users to post their reactions to the videos that they watch. Instead of text comments, these reactions will take the form of videos that are essentially superimposed on top of existing clips. The idea of a reaction video should be familiar to anyone who’s spent some time on YouTube, but TikTok is incorporating the concept in way that looks like a pretty seamless. To post a reaction, users just need to choose the React option in the Share menu for a given video. The app will then record your audio and video as the clip plays. You can also decide where on the screen you want your reaction video to appear. If you don’t recognize the TikTok name, that’s probably because the app only
TikTok Reactions
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Original Content podcast: Going on a true crime spree with Netflix’s ‘Evil Genius’

“Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist” is a tough title to live up to, but the Netflix docuseries pulls it off. That’s because the story that “Evil Genius” retells is full of impossible-seeming details — it starts out with a botched bank robbery committed by a man with a bomb attached to his neck and gets stranger from there. In the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we talk about our reactions to the show — it tells an unforgettable story, but might have benefited from tighter editing. We also mull over the growing genre of true crime miniseries, covering “The Staircase,” plus fictionalized depictions of real-world events like “Mindhunter” and “Manhunt: Unabomber.” And we go over some recent streaming headlines, including Hulu’s rumored revival of “Veronica Mars” and Netflix picking up the U.S. rights to “The Great British Baking Show”.
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It’s Friday, so here’s a rap video about scooter startup Bird

Listen, if you’re the kind of person who wants to watch a rap video about scooters, here’s a rap video about scooters. Don’t let me stop you. Also, if you make it to the end, you might as well stick around for the credits. For one thing, you’ll learn that it was directed by Andrew Oleck, the man who created that fake Mark Zuckerberg video, “A World Without Facebook.” And then there’s the disclaimer: “This video is not an advertisement. It is comedic satire. Bayview Drive Films is not endorsed, affiliated or otherwise sponsored by Bird .” It’s the kind of message that raises more questions than it answers. Like: What’s the joke here? Is the video pro-scooter, anti-scooter, neither, both? Was I supposed to laugh? I mean, I chuckled a little at the rubber chicken, but mostly I cringed. Is that normal? Would I have gotten more
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The Village Voice will no longer publish new stories

The Village Voice is dead — at least, as a functioning journalistic organization. Starting today, the legendary alternative newspaper will no longer publish new stories. Gothamist reports that at a staff meeting, owner Peter Barbey said that about half the team would be laid off, while the other half would remain on-board for now to “wind things down” and work on creating a digital Voice archive. Barbey acquired the Voice in 2015 and took the paper online-only last year. In a statement released today, he said:
In recent years, the Voice has been subject to the increasingly harsh economic realities facing those creating journalism and written media. Like many others in publishing, we were continually optimistic that relief was around the next corner. Where stability for our business is, we do not know yet. The only thing that is clear now is that we have not reached that destination. The
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Weebly brings more e-commerce features to mobile

Weebly is part of Square now, but it continues to update as a standalone product. This week, for example, the company announced a number of new e-commerce features for the Weebly mobile app. Those features include the ability to ship and print labels, to respond to customer questions (via Facebook Messenger, which can be embedded on Weebly sites), to approve customer reviews, to create branded coupon codes and to edit every aspect of your store, including product listing and pricing — all from the app. Much of this functionality already existed on desktop, so the announcement is about moving these capabilities onto smartphones. In a blog post, the company outlined a vision for the mobile phone to become “the new back office.” Weebly CEO David Rusenko told me that as his team has been adding more features for merchants, he wants people to think of Weebly “increasingly
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Twitter announces new policy and certification process for ‘issue ads’

Twitter continues to roll out new policies aimed at increasing transparency, particularly around political advertising. Amidst ongoing concerns about Russian election interference and misinformation on social media, the company recently announced political ad guidelines and launched an Ads Transparency Center where you can find more information about advertisers. Initially, however, Twitter’s stricter standards were limited to ads for U.S. federal election candidates and campaigns. Now it’s announced a policy around the broader category of “issue ads.” In a blog post, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey and its general manager of revenue product Bruce Falck said the policy affects two categories:
* Ads that refer to an election or a clearly identified candidate, or
* Ads that advocate for legislative issues of national importance
In both cases, advertisers will need to apply for certification, which involves verifying their identity and location in the United
Twitter Issue Ads
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Netflix releases the trailer for Orson Welles’ final film

“The Other Side of the Wind” has had a long, torturous path to completion. In a way, it’s one of the final chapters in the longer saga of Orson Welles — who, after making “Citizen Kane” (often cited as the greatest film of all time) and “The Magnificent Ambersons,” spent most of the ensuing decades in Europe, piecing together the funding for projects like “Chimes at Midnight.” He shot “The Other Side of the Wind” throughout the 1970s and even managed to edit part of the film before running out of funding. Since his death in 1985, Peter Bogdanovich and other Welles supporters have tried to complete the film, but they’ve been stymied by additional legal and financial issues. Until recently, that is, when Netflix stepped in to fund the work. The streaming giant’s involvement did cause some additional issues, namely its absence from the Cannes Film Festival (
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Vernā Myers joins Netflix in new VP role focused on inclusion

Netflix has hired Vernā Myers in the newly-created role of vice president, inclusion strategy. Myers has spent the past two decades at the head of The Vernā Myers Company, where she consulted on issues around diversity and inclusion. She’s also written and spoken broadly on those topics. In the announcement, Netflix notes that it’s already worked with Myers as a consultant, and that her new job will be to “devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.” “I have been a longtime fan of the inclusive and diverse programming and talent at Netflix, and then I got a chance to meet the people behind the screen,” Myers said in a statement. “I was so impressed by their mission, their excellence, and decision to take their inclusion and diversity efforts to a higher level. I am so excited
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