Uber launches a Jump e-bike pilot in London, one year on from winning taxi license appeal


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After admitting it had to modify some of its Jump electric bikes to fix braking issues — the same problem that had halted Lyft’s e-bike business — Uber is getting back on its bike, so to speak. Almost one year after nearly getting driven off London’s streets completely by losing its taxi operating license, Uber today announced the launch of Jump e-bikes in London. The service is kicking off with a pilot of 350 bikes in the borough of Islington, with plans to expand to more areas of the city in the coming months.

If you are in the catchment, Jump Bikes will now appear as an option in your Uber app alongside UberPool, UberX and public transportation data — which was added three weeks ago.

Pricing for the dockless Jump bikes is modelled on how Jump works in the US: it costs £1 to unlock a bike, and then

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Shopify quietly acquired Handshake, an e-commerce platform for B2B wholesale purchasing


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E-commerce platform Shopify has quietly made an acquisition to continue its expansion of the services and products that merchants can sell and purchase through its platform. It has acquired Handshake, a New York startup offers a commerce platform for businesses that sell wholesale goods.

Shopify has confirmed the deal in a short statement:

Handshake is now a part of Shopify. We consider acquisitions in the normal course of business as we focus on making commerce better for everyone.” It hasn’t disclosed the value but a source tells us it was under $100 million.

We also received an emailed tip that noted that the acquisition was announced to staff earlier this month, and that the team, is operating as part of Shopify’s extended service tier, Shopify Plus, headed by David Moellenkamp. Indeed, Handshake’s profile on LinkedIn now indicates that it was acquired by Shopify, and Glen Coates,

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KaiOS raises $50M, hits 100M handsets powered by its feature phone OS


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While Android and iOS have locked up the market for smartphone operating systems, a feature phone platform that has the distinction of being the world’s third biggest mobile OS is announcing a hefty round of funding to continue its expansion. KaiOS, which makes the OS that powers devices like Nokia’s feature phones and Jio’s devices out of India, has raised $50 million from Cathay Innovation (which led the round) and previous investors Google and TCL Holdings.

The funding takes the total raised by KaiOS — which has now shipped 100 million devices across 100 countries — to $72 million. It comes less than a year after Google invested $22 million in the business — a strategic round that also marked KaiOS beginning the process of creating native integrations of different Google services like Maps and (more recently) Assistant into the platform.

KaiOS is not disclosing its valuation, but

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People.ai, the predictive sales startup, raises $60M at around $500M valuation


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The best salespeople like to pride themselves on having both a sixth sense when it comes to closing a deal, and a healthy amount of persuasive magic to get a sale over the line. Now, a startup that says it can help any salesperson be like those top people, and help those top people be even better, has raised a large round of funding to to take its own company to the next level.

People.ai, which has built a platform to ingest all the data that salespeople generate in the course of their work, and then use it to provide guidance to them to help source and close more deals, is today announcing that it has raised another $60 million in funding, which it will use to continue growing the business and building partnerships with new channels such as system integrators to target bigger enterprises.

Alongside this, it is

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Payment card startup Marqeta confirms $260M round at close to $2B valuation


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Startups that are disrupting and unlocking the lucrative world of financial services continue to unlock big fund funding rounds for themselves.

Today, Marqeta — which helps third parties like Square, Affirm, DoorDash, Kabbage and Instacart build and offer card services to their customers — announced that it has raised a Series E of $260 million led by Coatue Management.

Marqeta plans to use this growth round to to continue building out its platform with an emphasis on global expansion, founder and CEO Jason Gardner said in an interview. He added that the funding values the startup at close to $2 billion.

While the company is not yet profitable, it’s growing fast: Gardner said Marqeta has doubled revenues each year for the last three years, and he expects that the next step for the 9 year-old company is likely an IPO in the next 18 months.

The news today confirms our scoop about

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Generation closes $1B growth fund targeting sustainable startups


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Generation Investment Management, the firm co-founded by environmentalist and former Vice President Al Gore, was built on the premise of backing sustainable startups. Now, as the idea of sustainability starts to gain wider traction, the firm is doubling down on the concept.

Today, Generation is announcing that it has closed a $1 billion Sustainable Solutions Fund for growth investments. As the name implies, it plans to put the $1 billion to work backing later-stage startups that work on sustainability in at least one of three areas — environmental solutions; healthcare; and financial inclusion, including the future of work — and are creating financially sustainable businesses out of that focus.

Typical investments will range from $50 million to $150 million, and there have already been two made out of the fund before it closed, both indicative of the kinds of investments Generation plans to be making.

Andela — the startup

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Aaptiv, the workout app, launches a new AI-based personal trainer called Coach


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After raising at least $20 million last year from the likes of Amazon, Disney and Bose for a mobile app that offered workouts led by professional, human trainers, Aaptiv is now taking a tech turn. Today, the startup is beginning a pilot of a new service it calls Aaptiv Coach, an AI-based assistant that builds personalised fitness and lifestyle plans based on a user’s goals, current fitness levels, eating habits and data input from external devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Coach will mark a notable departure for the startup. Aaptiv built its name on human-led workouts produced by Aaptiv itself. (“We might the only people willing to acknowledge that we will not use AI to replace trainers,” founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal told TechCrunch last June. “The trainers create the classes and that will be always the same. That relationship and drive and the passion cannot be matched by

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Clutter has picked up Omni’s storage business; Omni to focus on rentals


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On the heels of Clutter announcing a large growth round of $200 million earlier this year, the storage startup is cleaning up the competitive field. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Clutter has purchased the storage business of erstwhile rival Omni.

Omni will remain an independent company, which will now instead focus on rentals of personal items. That business was originally built around renting out items that you had stored with Omni itself. In recent months, however, the company had been transitioning that model to one where you used local businesses as the hub for handing over or picking up rented items. (It’s also been dabbling in cryptocurrency, offering to pay users in XRP instead of cash for renting out items.)

The companies had been working on the acquisition for the past two months, and Ari Mir, CEO and co-founder of Clutter, told TechCrunch it closed today.

While

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MP Tom Watson wants UK competition authority to investigate Amazon’s Deliveroo stake


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European restaurant delivery giant Deliveroo this morning announced that Amazon would be gobbling up a share in the company, by leading a new $575 million round of funding in it. But it looks like the e-commerce giant may be facing a little indigestion ahead.

Tom Watson, MP and deputy leader of the Labour Party, today announced that he will be asking the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the investment, opening the door to either imposing stronger conditions on the deal, or blocking it outright.

“It’s called surveillance capitalism,” he said today of Amazon’s approach to how it uses data from customers to build and sell products. “It’s a digital dystopia, and I shall be writing to the Competition and Markets Authority demanding they launch an investigation into this ‘investment.’”

We have contacted Watson directly to elaborate on which violation(s) he would cite in the referral and

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GetYourGuide picks up $484M, passes 25M tickets sold through its tourism activity app


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As we swing into the summer tourist season, a company poised to capitalise on that has raised a huge round of funding. GetYourGuide — a Berlin startup that has built a popular marketplace for people to discover and book sightseeing tours, tickets for attractions and other experiences around the world — is today announcing that it has picked up $484 million, a Series E round of funding that will catapult its valuation above the $1 billion mark.

The funding is a milestone for a couple of reasons. GetYourGuide says it is the highest-ever round of funding for a company in the area of “travel experiences” (tours and other activities) — a market estimated to be worth $150 billion this year and rising to $183 billion in 2020. And this Series E is also one of the biggest-ever growth rounds for any European startup, period.

The company has now sold 25

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Instagram is killing Direct, its standalone Snapchat clone app, in the next several weeks


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As Facebook pushes ahead with its strategy to consolidate more of the backend of its various apps on to a single platform, it’s also doing a little simplifying and housekeeping. In the coming month, it will shut down Direct, the standalone Instagram direct messaging app that it was testing to rival Snapchat, on iOS and Android. Instead, Facebook and its Instagram team will channel all developments and activity into the direct messaging feature of the main Instagram app.

We first saw a message about the app closing down by way of a tweet from Direct user Matt Navarra: “In the coming month, we’ll no longer be supporting the Direct app,” Instagram notes in the app itself. “Your conversations will automatically move over to Instagram, so you don’t need to do anything.”

The details were then confirmed to us by Instagram itself:

“We’re rolling back the test of the

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Accel closes $575M fund to double down on European and Israeli Series A deals


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On the heels of Romanian-founded enterprise startup UiPath raising at a $7 billion valuation, the startup’s biggest investor is announcing a new fund to double down on making more investments in Europe. VC firm Accel has closed a $575 million fund — money that it plans to use to back startups in Europe and Israel, investing primarily at the Series A stage in a range of between $5 million and $15 million.

At $575 million, this makes the fund one of the largest in the region, and it brings the total managed by Accel in Europe to $3 billion.

Accel has been behind some of the biggest startups to have come of age in Europe in recent years, including Avito, BlaBlaCar, Celonis, Check24, Deliveroo, Doctolib, DocuSign, Funding Circle, Spotify and Supercell, alongside UiPath. Some — like Spotify — have become leaders in their respective segments (in Spotify’s case, music

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Tealium, a big data platform for structuring disparate customer information, raises $55M led by Silver Lake


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The average enterprise today uses about 90 different software packages, with between 30-40 of them touching customers directly or indirectly. The data that comes out of those systems can prove to be very useful — to help other systems and employees work more intelligently, to help companies make better business decisions — but only if it’s put in order: now, a startup called Tealium, which has built a system precisely to do just that and works with the likes of Facebook and IBM to help manage their customer data, has raised a big round of funding to continue building out the services it provides.

Today, it is announcing a $55 million round of funding — a Series F led by Silver Lake Waterman, the firm’s late-stage capital growth fund; with ABN AMRO, Bain Capital, Declaration Partners, Georgian Partners, Industry Ventures, Parkwood, and Presidio Ventures also participating.

Jeff Lunsford, Tealium’s

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Karat nabs $28M led by Tiger Global to grow its human-powered online interview platform for engineering jobs


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A high demand for engineering talent in our digital world has driven companies that need to make these technical hires to cast their nets wider in the search for good people. Now, a company that has built a platform that it says helps companies do this in a more accurate and efficient way has raised a round of growth funding.

Karat — which takes on the process of technical interviewing on behalf of clients like Citrix, Roblox, InVision and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative by connecting already-sourced candidates with live engineers to interview, test and evaluate the candidates for the next step of the recruitment process — has raised $28 million in funding, a growth round that is being led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from previous backers Norwest Venture Partners and Joe Lonsdale’s firm 8VC.

The company is not disclosing its valuation but this latest round brings the total

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In travel tech, 4 rivals merge in Europe to form Altido for property management of Airbnb-style homes


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The growth of Airbnb and other big travel startups has given a fillip to the wider travel industry, and today several smaller startups in the short-term property sector are announcing that they have merged to tackle the opportunity with more scale.

The UK’s BnbBuddy and The London Residents Club, along with both Hintown from Italy and RentExperience from Portugal — all companies that help manage properties that are listed on platforms like Airbnb — have combined to form a new startup called Altido.

Going into the merger, all four were profitable, having all been boostrapped from day one. But Michael Allen, the MD of the BnbBuddy, said that now the combined entity is using its scale and raising outside funding to grow the business. Altido is looking to raise a Series A in the tens of millions of dollars. It is not disclosing its valuation currently although the fact that

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Adobe ties up with Amazon to build D2C stores powered by Amazon’s commerce and fulfillment tools


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E-commerce giant Amazon was built on the concept of a large marketplace that could be the home for all online shopping, whether it was for items and services it was selling itself or those sold by third parties. Now — capitalising on the new trend for direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling, it is partnering with Adobe to step up its efforts to play a role in even transactions beyond the Amazon.com web.

Today, Adobe announced that it is working with Amazon on a new program called Branded Stores for Amazon Sellers, to create what they are describing as “branded storefronts” (not described specifically as websites) aimed at smaller merchants that have already been selling through Amazon (and possibly other marketplace platforms) to build their own first-party commerce experiences — while still using some of the transaction and fulfilment tools of the Amazon ecosystem. For now, those tools don’t appear to

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LinkedIn integrates and updates jobs and hiring platforms, hits 20M job postings


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LinkedIn, the social networking platform for the working world that’s now owned by Microsoft, has leveraged its role as a repository for people’s work profiles into making itself a job hunting and recruitment powerhouse.

The company today has amassed more than 20 million job listings — up from a mere 300,000  five years ago — and sees its 600 million users collectively apply to jobs 25 million times per week. That activity also translates to big business: paid subscriptions specifically aimed at recruiters, paid tiers for average users who want to have more access to contacting people for jobs, job ads and more all contribute to LinkedIn’s bottom line, a business that is projected to hit $6.4 billion in revenues for 2019, growing 27 percent in the last quarter.

Now, LinkedIn is stepping up a gear in the operation. After a two-year effort, LinkedIn is today announcing that it

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MailChimp’s Ben Chestnut on bootstrapping a startup to $700M in revenue


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The well-known tech startup routine of coming up with an idea, raising money from VCs in increasing rounds as valuations continue to rise, and then eventually going public or getting acquired has been around for as long as the myth of Silicon Valley itself. But the evolution of MailChimp — a notable, bootstrapped outlier out of Atlanta, Georgia, that provides email and other marketing services to small businesses — tells a very different story of tech startup success.

As the company closes in on $700 million in annual revenues for 2019, it has no intention of letting up, or selling out: No outside funding, no plans for an IPO, and no to all the companies that have tried to acquire it. As it has grown, it has been profitable from day one.

This week, the company is unveiling what is probably its biggest product update since first starting to

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Mailchimp expands from email to full marketing platform, says it will make $700M in 2019


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Mailchimp, a bootstrapped startup out of Atlanta, Georgia, is known best as a popular tool for organizations to manage their customer-facing email activities — a profitable business that its CEO told TechCrunch has now grown to around 11 million customers and is on track for $700 million in revenue in 2019.

To help hit that number, Mailchimp is taking the wraps off a significant update aimed at catapulting it into the next level of business services. Beginning later this week, Mailchimp will start to offer a full marketing platform aimed at smaller organizations.

Going beyond the email that it has been offering for 20 years, the new platform will feature technology to record and track customer leads, the ability to purchase domains and build sites, ad retargeting on Facebook and Instagram, social media management and business intelligence that leverages a new move in the artificial intelligence to provide recommendations

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Uber opens at a disappointing $42 per share


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At long last, it’s lift-off for Uber. After pricing its initial public offering at $45 per share, at the bottom end of the range it set previously, to raise $8.1 billion, transportation startup began trading today on the New York Stock Exchange, and the shares opened at $42, down from the IPO price.

Ahead of Uber finally making its debut, the company had an indication price that went as low as $42 ahead of live trading. With the overall market in a slump this week over trade woes with China, it’s a challenging time to list, to say the least.

Uber had raised $28.5 billion as a private company from no less than 166 different backers, with its last valuation in the region of $75 billion. The $82.4 billion valuation that it finally settled on for the IPO (selling 180 million shares at $45/share) is

Two drivers hold up a protest sign as the Uber banner hangs on the front of the New York Stock Exchange May 10, 2019 in New York

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