Silexica, which optimises how disparate applications work together on autonomous cars, raises $18M

As we inch closer to building increasingly autonomous cars, the complexities that these vehicles will present as programmable hardware are increasing, with some 250 applications ranging from cameras to navigation controls to weather sensors running on a typical high performance system today. Now, a startup that is building a system to help optimise that and let all of those vendors work together in a neutral way is announcing some funding to continue its growth. Silexica, a startup based out of Cologne, Germany, that has developed a set of tools to help map and optimise a wide range of applications across multicore processors — specifically the kinds of applications and computers that power self-driving cars — has raised $18 million. The Series B is led by EQT Ventures, the newish firm that sits under the PE firm EQT Partners, based out of Stockholm. Existing investors Merus Capital, Paua Ventures, Seed Fonds
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GoFundMe now allows team fundraising, where multiple people collaborate to raise money for causes

GoFundMe, the popular service for raising money for causes with some $5 billion raised to date, is expanding its platform to serve more community efforts: today the company is launching GoFundMe Team Fundraising, which lets groups of people collectively raise money for a single effort. The idea is that it will make it possible for schools, churches, sports teams, and other groups to set up fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe.

In many cases, groups have traditionally relied on people to use offline methods to raise money for a single cause, or if people have used digital platforms, harnessing those individual campaigns has not been straightforward.

The idea with GoFundMe’s team product is that the organization that is raising the money can create the main repository, and then link up individuals to that anchor so that they can collect contributions directly. Then those contributions can all feed into the main

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Atul Gawande, the doctor and writer, named CEO of Amazon’s employee healthcare JV

Amazon, BerkshireHathaway and JPMorgan Chase have not been especially public about their plans for how they plan to take on employee healthcare in the US with their new joint venture, but now they have announced a big move that could see all of that change. The trio have announced that Dr Atul Gawande, the noted writer, doctor and researcher, will be the first CEO of the as-yet unnamed company. The business will be based in Boston, where Gawande is already based, and it will operate as an independent entity, “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” Gawande will take on the role starting July 9. “I’m thrilled to be named CEO of this healthcare initiative,” said Gawande in a statement. “I have devoted my public health career to building scalable solutions for better healthcare delivery that are saving lives, reducing suffering, and eliminating wasteful spending both in the US and
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Blinkist raises $18.8M for its condensed reading platform for non-fiction books

We are living in the information age, but that doesn’t mean that we have all the time in the world to ingest everything that we want. A startup that is aiming to help with that has raised a round of funding to grow its business. Blinkist, a Berlin-based startup that presents condensed versions of non-fiction literature — each title can be read or listened to in about 15 minutes — has raised $18.8 million in funding led by Insight Venture Partners (a firm that is leading no less than three investments on this very day: see here and here). Holger Seim, the company’s co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that the funding will be used to continue to expand the product. That will include localising content into more languages beyond English and German; adding more titles — there are now 2,500 titles with a rate of about 40 being
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Facebook launches Workplace for Good, a free version of its enterprise product for non-profits

Workplace is making a push into the non-profit segment. Today the enterprise communications app from Facebook is launching a new tier of the product called Workplace for Good, which will let non-profits use the product for no fee. To be completely clear, Facebook has never charged non-profits to use Workplace, and it’s already used by over 2,500 of them out of the 30,000 or so organisations using Workplace. The ranks include Oxfam, Save the Children, and many educational institutions, who use it to link up their employees, contractors, students with teachers, stakeholders in their groups and more. There is even a Workplace group started by non-profits for all the nonprofits to access to swap stories, advice and so on. But, as of today, Facebook is going to be making a bigger push to open the product up to charities, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations, regardless of their size. (Pricing for
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Aaptiv raises $22M from Amazon, Disney and more for its “Netflix for fitness”, now valued over $200M

Health and wellness has been one of the biggest categories for development in the tech industry, with huge range of wearable devices and connected equipment being built to track how we are moving and helping us stay fit. Now, a startup whose app offers users a selection of audio-based, personal-trainer-led workouts that also monitors users as they progress through them, has closed a major round of funding that underscores how software — and specifically apps — are also capitalising on that trend. Aaptiv, which makes what its founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal described to me as “the Netflix of fitness” — providing streams of music-based fitness training on demand — has raised $22 million in funding. (It’s not the only big wellness software app that’s announcing funding today: Calm, the meditation app, announced a $27 million round of funding today, too.) The Series C round brings the total raised
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BBVA and Repsol to build blockchain finance apps, BBVA issues record €325M credit line on its blockchain network

Spanish banking giant BBVA has an early adopter when it comes to exploring and using blockchain in its legacy business, being the first global bank to use its blockchain network, built with distributed ledger architecture, to issue a corporate loan earlier this year. Now it is taking the next step: BBVA has inked a partnership with Repsol, the Spanish energy giant, to build blockchain-based corporate finance solutions, and as first step BBVA has transferred a credit facility of €325 million ($375 million) using its blockchain network. BBVA says that this is the first time that distributed ledger technology has been used to issue a credit facility, and as with the loan it issued, the incentive for doing so is to reduce the time it takes to do this: the process takes “a matter of hours rather than days in a fully transparent operation that allowed the tracking and
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Google teams with the CIJ in the UK for free workshops for journalists on investigative journalism

Google has been the target of many an investigative journalism scoop, but today in the UK it’s sitting on the other side of the table. The search giant’s Digital News Initiative — the division that was created to give millions in funding to startups and new projects that are pushing the boundaries of digital news — has announced a new partnership with the Centre for Investigative Journalism to help journalists learn how use digital tools to dig up news. The two will be jointly running 20 free workshops in the UK under the name “Access to Tools,” available both to freelancers and staff editors and writers, that will train them on some of the tricks of the trade when it comes to using digital media to find and report a story, including data analysis on spreadsheets, finding and ‘reading’ minutes from public meetings, and tracking down sources for images. Google
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CityMapper, the urban transportation app, is integrating with bike-sharing company Mobike

Hot on the heels of getting acquired for $2.7 billion by on-demand services startup Meituan-Dianping en route to its own $60 billion IPO, Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike is ramping up its international push as companies like Uber, Lyft and other standalone bike-on-demand startups take their own expansion strategies up a gear. The company will this week start integrating with Citymapper, the mapping and navigation app focused on urban areas and public transportation, in all cities where both companies operate (Citymapper is now live in 39 cities; while Mobike calls itself the world’s largest bike-sharing startup, in 200 cities in some 15 countries). This will mean that users of Citymapper will be able to select bike routes on the app, and also see where they can find a Mobike to complete those journeys, giving the bike-hire-on-demand company one more way to snag customers in what is shaping
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Yahoo Mail aims at emerging markets and casual users, launches versions for mobile web and Android Go

The days for Yahoo Messenger are now numbered, but Yahoo and its parent Oath (which also owns TC) are still counting on growth for other communications services, specifically Yahoo Mail. Today, the company announced two new versions of Yahoo Mail, optimised for mobile web and an app for Android Go, a version of Android specifically tailored for cheaper handsets. The launch comes at a time when Yahoo Mail has stagnated in its growth: the company says that it now has 227.8 million monthly active users with some 26 billion emails sent daily, but that user size is only about two million more than it had a year ago. It’s a small number also relatively speaking: as a comparison, Google’s Gmail reported 1.4 billion users this past April. In other words, one very clear aim of enhancing the mobile web and Android One experience is to try
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Sherpa, the Spanish personal assistant, launches an API for its predictive AI with Porsche as 1st customer

Sherpa, a personal assistant startup that has carved out a niche for itself by focusing on the Spanish-language market (alongside English) and predictive suggestions, is expanding. The company is launching a set of APIs called the Sherpa Platform, which will let other businesses tap into its predictive recommendations and use them in their own consumer-facing services. Sherpa — based out of Bilbao, Spain and Palo Alto — is also announcing its a customer for the service: Porsche, which plans to use the service in its connected car services in its luxury vehicles. In addition to the automotive sector, Sherpa plans to target the home and mobile segments with its Platform APIs, and it has some deals specifically with other automotive companies and telecoms carriers in the works. The expansion comes at the same time that Sherpa has passed three million downloads of its app, which currently has 800,000
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BitTorrent is selling for $140M to Justin Sun and Tron

BitTorrent, an early mover in concept of building a business around decentralised computing architecture to distribute and store data, is being sold for $140 million in cash to Justin Sun and his blockchain media startup Tron, TechCrunch has learned. Variety yesterday reported that a sale of the company to Sun closed last week, without naming a price, following rumors that circulated for at least a month that the two were in negotiations. TechCrunch understands that shareholders have now been sent the paperwork to sign off on the deal. Some are, we understand, still disputing the terms because more than one person claims to have made the introduction between Sun and BitTorrent, and the one who facilitated the deal will get an extra payout. A source says it’s unlikely that the disputes will actually kill the acquisition, given how long BitTorrent has been looking for a buyer. BitTorrent most recently
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Kustomer gets $26M to take on Zendesk with an omnichannel approach to customer support

The CRM industry is now estimated to be worth some $4 billion annually, and today a startup has announced a round of funding that it hopes will help it take on one aspect of that lucrative pie, customer support. Kustomer, a startup out of New York that integrates a number of sources to give support staff a complete picture of a customer when he or she contacts the company, has raised $26 million. The funding, a series B, was led by Redpoint Ventures (notably, an early investor in Zendesk, which Kustomer cites as a key competitor), with existing investors Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures, and Social Leverage also participating. Cisco Investments was also a part of this round as a strategic investor: Cisco (along with Avaya) is one of the world’s biggest PBX equipment vendors, and customer support is one of the biggest users of this equipment, but the segment is
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Pipedrive, a CRM and sales tool, raises $50M to take on Salesforce and Microsoft

While Salesforce and Microsoft have a dominant position in the world of sales software today, there are a number of startups nipping at their heels, and today one of the more promising of them has announced a growth round to help them in the effort. Pipedrive, a startup co-headquartered in Estonia and New York that offers tools to salespeople to help them close deals that are still in their pipeline, has picked up $50 million to expand its product, develop its business globally and potentially make acquisitions in the CRM space. The Series C round was co-led by new investor Insight Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation also from Rembrandt Venture Partners and Atomico (which itself has Estonian roots: Atomico’s founder, Niklas Zennstrom, was the co-founder of Skype, which developed and built the core IP voice and messaging product in the country). It brings the total raised by
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Dutch payments company Adyen opens at €400/share, a pop of 67%, now valued at $15B

After raising €1.1 billion in its initial offering and pricing its shares at €240 each last night, Adyen, the Dutch payments company went public today with a bang. It opened for trading this morning on Amsterdam’s Euronext exchange at €400 a share, an impressive jump of 67 percent. The share price is currently €435, giving it a market cap of €12.367 billion, or $15 billion in current currency. It’s gone as high as €440 today. We’ll update this number periodically today. This all represents a big jump on Adyen’s valuation. In a statement last night announcing its initial offer price of €240 per share, Adyen said this implied a market capitalization of €7.1 billion, based on the current number of Shares outstanding. The writing may have been on the wall for its strong performance this morning even then. Adyen said yesterday that the offering was “multiple
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Google Shopping adds new tools for physical merchants to boost interest from online shoppers

Despite the growth of Amazon and other e-commerce giants, offline commerce still accounts for around 90 percent of all retail spending. So in a bid to bridge the divide between online and in-store commerce — and potentially get itself a bigger piece of the action — Google is announcing a number of new features for Google Shopping aimed at physical and local merchants. The company today launched a new feature called “See What’s In Store,” which will let physical stores provide a list of their inventory for free both in their Knowledge Panels (the boxes that appear in the right-hand column in the search results for a particular business) as well as on Google Maps. The new feature was announced at the same time as a couple of other enhancements: Google will now provide location extensions on video campaigns on YouTube; and enhanced local catalog display ads that will let
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Workday acquires financial modelling startup Adaptive Insights for $1.55B

Workday, the cloud-based platform that offers HR and other back-office apps for businesses, is making an acquisition to expand its portfolio of services: it’s buying Adaptive Insights, a provider of cloud-based business planning and financial modelling tools, for $1.55 billion. The acquisition is notable because Adaptive Insights had filed for an IPO as recently as May 17. Workday says that the $1.55 billion price tag includes “the assumption of approximately $150 million in unvested equity issued to Adaptive Insights employees” related to that IPO. This deal is expected to close in Q3 of this year. IPO filings are known to sometimes trigger M&A. Most recently, PayPal announced it would acquire iZettle just after the latter filed to go public. Skype was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 while it was waiting to IPO after previous owner eBay said it would spin it off. Workday itself went public
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Memrise raises $15.5M as its AI-based language-learning app passes 35M users

Memrise, a UK startup whose eponymous language-learning app employs machine learning and localised content to adapt to users’ needs as they progress through their lessons, has raised another $15.5 million in funding to expand its product. The funding comes after a period of strong growth: Memrise has now passed 35 million users globally across its 20 language courses, and it tipped into profitability in Q1 of this year. Ed Cooke, who co-founded the app with Ben Whately and Greg Detre, told TechCrunch that this places it as the second-most popular language app globally in terms of both users and revenues. (Duolingo has more signups, Babbel more revenue.) This round, a Series B, was led by Octopus Ventures and Korelya Capital, along with participation from existing investors Avalon Ventures and Balderton Capital. (Previous investors have included the likes of Matt Mullenweg, Lerer Ventures and more.) Memrise is
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Airbnb will now let people register as Open Homes emergency volunteers before a crisis hits

Airbnb — the travel startup that lets individuals rent out private homes or rooms in private homes to people as an alternative to hotels — has racked up more than 17,000 nights in its Open Homes program, a voluntary effort where Airbnb hosts can offer their houses and rooms free of charge to people in cities going through an emergency such as a hurricane or flood or other critical incident, either because those people have been displaced from their homes or because they have come to an area to help family go are going through a crisis. Now, the company is piloting a new version of the program to make it even more ubiquitous: Airbnb hosts, and anyone who might be willing to put up people in emergencies, can now register so that they will be available on “standby” lists. The first city that will pilot the new system starting
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Airbnb creates $10M fund to cover cancelled reservations in Japan after regulatory shift

Airbnb has been one of the breakthrough stories in the wave of shared-economy startups that have emerged out of Silicon Valley, with a valuation of $30 billion for its travellers platform that lets people book private homes as accommodations, as well as other services. But even so, it’s not immune to the force of regulation and the impact it can have on its business. Airbnb has had to cancel a swathe of reservations in Japan, after a change in local laws required hosts to have specific licenses, but some have failed to get these ahead of the deadline set by regulators. It’s not clear how many people or hosts have been impacted — the numbers are shifting as hosts receive their licenses — but Airbnb says that it has set up a fund of $10 million to cover any travellers who might get put out as a result of
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