European, UK and US pols summon Zuck as FTC eyes probe of Facebook over data violations

The fallout from the story concerning Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, the misuse of personal data and how much Facebook knew about all this, has quickly made its way into the halls of government — and with it Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is getting a lot of invitations in his inbox. This afternoon, Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, publicly issued a call to Zuckerberg to appear before state members to answer questions about personal data on Facebook and the role it plays in swaying elections. “Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of 500 million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy,” he said. The invitation follows calls out of the UK and US for appearances from Zuck, too. Earlier today, Damian Collins, a member of parliament who is the chair of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee in the UK, issued
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Meltwater has acquired DataSift to double down on social media analytics

In a week when all eyes are on Facebook and the subject of how data about us on social media platforms gets used without us knowing, there’s been some consolidation afoot in the world of media-based big data services. DataSift, the London-based company that pulls data from conversations across social, news and blog platforms, anonymises it, and then parses it for insights for third party organizations, is being acquired by Meltwater, the company originally out of Norway but now based in San Francisco that provides business intelligence services such as media monitoring and AI analytics on internal business communications. Financial terms are not being disclosed for the deal but it includes technology, employees and DataSift’s customer base. DataSift had raised about $72 million in funding from investors that include Insight Venture Partners, Scale Ventures and Upfront Ventures and the company had never disclosed its valuation. Meltwater is bootstrapped and
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Education quiz app Kahoot raises another $17M at a $100M valuation

When we wrote about gaming startup Kahoot passing significant milestones of 70 million users on 51 million educational quizzes in January, we mentioned that the Oslo, Norway-based startup was closing another round of funding. Now, that has come to pass: Kahoot has announced that it has raised $17 million, at a valuation that sources close to the company confirm to us is $100 million. The funding comes after a change in leadership and strategic direction for the company: its American CEO Erik Harrell has stepped away from the role while remaining on the board of the company, and has been replaced by Asmund Furuseth, one of the original co-founders, after Harrell and the board disagreed on the strategic direction for the company. Harrell was keen to expand Kahoot’s business lines — in an interview with TechCrunch he described ambitions to partner with big media brands like Disney and educational publishers
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Li Ka-Shing to step down as chairman of CK Hutchison, owner of 3 and other tech holdings

A significant changing of the guard is underway in the world of telecoms and tech out of Asia. CK Hutchison, a Hong Kong conglomerate that owns the European mobile carrier 3 among other mobile and tech holdings, has announced that Li Ka-Shing is stepping down as the company’s chairman and executive director, after 46 years at the helm and 68 years since founding Cheung Kong (CK), effective May 10. Li is Hong Kong’s richest man, and he also controls Horizons Ventures, one of the bigger and more influential VC firms not just in Asia but globally. He will be succeeded by Li Tzar Kuoi, known as Victor Li, who is his son and the brother of Richard Li. We have contacted Horizons to ask how and if the firm or Li Ka-Shing’s involvement is impacted as well and will update this post as we learn more. Li, pictured here, stepping
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Hootsuite nabs $50M in growth capital for its social media management platform, passes 16M customers

Over the last several years, social media has become a critical and central way for businesses to communicate, and market to, their customers. Now, one of the startups that helped spearhead this trend has raised a round of growth funding to expand its horizons. Hootsuite, the Vacouver-based social media management company that counts some 16 million businesses as customers, said today that it has raised $50 million in growth capital — specifically through a credit financing agreement — from CIBC Innovation Banking. We asked Ryan Holmes, the co-founder and CEO, for details about its valuation and funding, and said that it will be used for more acquisitions in the near future, and with it the valuation is unchanged. “We opted for to go with non-dilutive credit at this point and found a great partner and terms in CIBC,” he wrote in an email. “The company is cash flow positive and
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Experian acquires UK’s ClearScore and its financial product matching engine for $385M

While credit-scoring behemoth Equifax continues to work through the fallout from its massive security breach, one of its big competitors is snapping up a startup in the UK to diversify its business. Experian today announced that it is acquiring ClearScore, which has built a platform that — like Experian — offers you a credit score, which it then uses it to suggest financial products like credit cards that fit the bill, so to speak. Experian is acquiring ClearScore for £275 million ($385 million), plus an unspecified earnout based on future performance. The deal is expected to close later this year. Considering that ClearScore, which has around 6 million users, had only disclosed around $15.6 million in funding, this appears to be a significant return for its investors, which included Blenheim Chalcott, Brightbridge Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, and QED, according to PitchBook.

The deal is emblematic of a trend

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Blue Vision Labs, which builds ‘collaborative’ AR, emerges from stealth with $14.5M led by GV

Blue Vision Labs, a London-based augmented reality startup co-founded by computer vision experts from Oxford and Imperial College, is emerging from stealth today with a new platform that it claims will be the first to bring ‘collaboration’ to the AR experience: with an app built on Blue Vision’s technology (via its API and SDK), multiple users will be able to see the same virtual objects, and interact with each other in that virtual space with spatial accuracy that hasn’t been seen in widely-available AR services before. Scenarios where this kind of feature could come in useful could include multi-player games, on-street navigation apps, social media applications and education. Peter Ondruska, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, tells me that Blue Vision’s tech can pinpoint people and other moving objects in a space to within centimeters of their actual location — far more accurate than typical GPS — meaning that it
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