PitchBook now offers users suggested companies when they search

This one’s for all the due diligence fiends and competitive landscape mapping mavens out there. PitchBook, the data and analytics service for private equity and public markets, is rolling out an automated suggestions feature for premium users when they’re doing searches on companies for market intelligence. The new service is based on machine learning technology that scours PitchBook’s financially focused information and data set. Each word in a description is represented in 300 dimensional space using the global vectors for word representation software lifted from researchers at Google and Stanford, and those vectors are then applied to companies to determine their various relationships. “The differentiator for why the output of this is going to be high quality. When we look up a company is because we have this proprietary set of financial related news and information,” says Tyler Martinez, the director of software engineering and data science at PitchBook.
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PUBG juggernaut hits 400 million users, and for a limited time, players can get the PC version for $19.99

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, the progenitor and once-reigning champion of last-player-standing battle royale gaming that’s swept the video game world by storm, has hit over 400 million players globally across all platforms. As a perk and potential sop to bring new players to its personal computing platform, PUBG is offering the full version of its full throttle game for $19.99 — a 33.33% cut from the game’s regular price. The offer includes classic maps Erangel and Miramar and the all-new Sanhok, launching on June 22, according to a statement from the company. PUBG has already moved 50 million units of its game across PC and Xbox One consoles and has hit 87 million daily players. Roughly 227 million players engage in PUBG’s particular murder-death-kill competition every month. “We are genuinely humbled by the ongoing success and growth of PUBG,” said CH Kim, CEO, PUBG Corp. “We are not
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Investment advisory software developer SigFig raises $50 million

SigFig, the developer of an automated wealth management toolkit, has raised $50 million in a new round of funding.

The company said the new money would be used to continue its research and development.

The new funding was led by General Atlantic and included participation from existing investors like Bain Capital Ventures, DCM Ventures, Eaton Vance, New York Live, Nyca Partners, UBS and Union Square Ventures.

Unlike other tech-enabled advisory services firms like Betterment and WealthFront, which have primarily taken a direct to consumer approach, SigFig sells its tools primarily to financial services firms like Wells Fargo, UBS, and Citizens Bank.

SigFig also has a small direct to consumer business, which the company uses to test new products and services before bringing them to their main, business, customers.

SigFig’s chief executive and co-founder, Mike Sha, says that the blended approach of working with wealth managers actually allows his company

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Pondering an IPO, cyber security company CrowdStrike raises $200 million at over $3 billion valuation

CrowdStrike, the developer of a security technology that looks at changes in user behavior on networked devices and uses that information to identify potential cyber threats, has reached a $3 billion valuation on the back of a new $200 million round of funding.

The company’s hosted endpoint security technology has seen tremendous adoption worldwide and its popularity was able to win the attention of General Atlantic, Accel, and IVP which co-led the company’s latest round. Previous investors March Capital and CapitalG both participated in the company’s new financing.

For companies seeing the number of devices that are accessing their corporate networks proliferate rapidly, the CrowdStrike hosted security technology is one of several potential fixes to what’s becoming a significant problem.

For CrowdStrike that’s meant doubling revenues and headcount and winnin contracts with over 16% of the Fortune 1000 companies and 20% of companies in the Fortune 500.

The company
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U.S. Armed Forces is getting a Space Force (over the objections of the Secretary of Defense)

President Donald J. Trump intends to create a new Space Force within the U.S. Armed Forces. The surprise announcement came today at the third meeting of the White House’s newly reconvened Space Council. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important,” the president said. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis voiced opposition to the creation of new branch of the military last year when the idea was first proposed by Congress. Congressional leadership first floated the creation of sixth branch of the armed forces focused on space combat (sadly, not against invading alien insects though) last year… and Mattis promptly blasted the idea. In a letter to Ohio Representative Mike Turner, one of the leaders of the Space Force initiative in Congress, Mattis wrote:
At a time
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Breaking down France’s new $76M Africa startup fund

Weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a $76M African startup fund at VivaTech 2018, TechCrunch paid a visit to the French Development Agency (AFD) — who will administer the new fund — to get more details on how le noveau fonds will work.

The $76M (or €65M) will divvy up into three parts, according to AFD Digital Task Team Leader Christine Ha.

“There are €10M [$11.7M] for technical assistance to support the African ecosystem… €5M will be available as interest free loans to high potential, pre seed startups…and…€50M [$58M] will be for equity-based investments in series A to C startups,” explained Ha

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Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities

The city of Austin is currently piloting a program in which its 2,000 homeless residents will be given a unique identifier that’s safely and securely recorded on the blockchain. This identifier will help individuals consolidate their records and seek out crucial services. Service providers will also be able to access the information. If successful, we’ll have a new, more efficient way to communicate and ensure that the right people are at the table to help the homeless. in Austin and around the country, it seems that blockchain technology is opening a range of opportunities for city service delivery and operations. At its
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After twenty years of Salesforce, what Marc Benioff got right and wrong about the cloud

As we enter the 20th year of Salesforce, there’s an interesting opportunity to reflect back on the change that Marc Benioff created with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for enterprise software with his launch of Salesforce.com. This model has been validated by the annual revenue stream of SaaS companies, which is fast approaching $100 billion by most estimates, and it will likely continue to transform many slower-moving industries for years to come. However, for the cornerstone market in IT — large enterprise-software deals — SaaS represents less than 25 percent of total revenue, according to most market estimates. This split is even evident in the most recent high profile “SaaS” acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft, with over 50 percent of GitHub’s revenue coming from the sale of their on-prem offering, GitHub Enterprise.   Data privacy and
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SEC says Ether isn’t a security, but tokens based on Ether can be

“In cases where there is no… central enterprise being invested in or where the digital asset is sold only to be used to purchase a good or service available through the network on which it was created,” that digital asset is “out of the purview of U.S. securities laws”, according to William Hinman, the director of the division of corporation finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This (edited) statement from Hinman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto will likely be seen as the starting gun on a crypto free-for-all in the United States. Hinman’s comments were certainly a positive signal to the market. They sent the price of Ether spiking from $469 to $516 over the course of the past hour. While the markets may view this as an unadulterated victory for cryptocurrencies of all stripes, the Securities and Exchange Commission simply looks
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Telemundo, Universal and TreasureHunt are launching a shootout game in time for the World Cup

Just in time for the World CupTelemundo Deportes, Universal Brand Development and the startup TreasureHunt have launched a shootout game for the Instant Games platform on Facebook and Messenger.

Telemundo Deportes is putting out the game in conjunction with its Spanish-language coverage of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

GOAL! SHOOTOUT (WHICH IS CLEARLY VERY EXCITING) lets players vie for the title of penalty kick all-star so they can all bend it like the virtual Beckhams that they are.

“The World Cup provides us with the opportunity to tap into the passion of soccer and engage with our viewers in different, authentic ways leading up to and throughout the tournament this summer,” said Miguel Lorenzo, director, Digital Product Development, Telemundo Deportes, in a statement. “We are excited to launch this collaborative initiative with Universal Brand Development, which is Telemundo Deportes’ first release in the games space, and we

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Celebrity funds from Jay Z, Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr. are backing a life insurance startup

Ethos, the company that bills itself as making life insurance accessible, affordable and simple, has officially come out of stealth with an $11.5 million investment led by on of the world’s top venture firms, Sequoia Capital, and additional participation from the family offices of Hollywood’s biggest stars and an NBA all-star.

Jay Z’s Roc Nation, the family funds of Kevin Durant, Robert Downey Jr. and Will Smith all participated in the new round for Ethos, and Sequoia Partner Roelof Botha is taking a seat on the company’s board. Because nothing says star power like a life insurance startup.

The life insurance market is one that’s been attracting interest from venture investors for a little over a year now. Companies like England’s Anorak, HealthIQ, Ladder, Mira Financial, France’s Alan, which is backed by Partech Investments (among others), Fabric, and Quilt, are all pitching life insurance products as well.

Ethos is

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Playmaji is looking to bring its retro-gaming, modular console to market

Tucked away in a far corner of the West Pavilion of the Los Angeles Convention center among the independent game developers showcased by IndieCade  during E3, is a small booth demonstrating the latest Polymega hardware, a device that’s billing itself as the NES Classic for every old school game released on every old school gaming platform. The company that’s making the device first debuted last year as Retroblox, and while its name has changed (it’s now called Playmaji) and its hardware has gotten more refined, the vision remains very much the same. Playmaji debuted the new system and its user interface last year at E3 and it’s back again this year to tout its new pricing, and drum up support for pre-order campaign even as it tries to raise money to license games from publishers. Last year, Playmaji eschewed going down the crowdfunding route and instead raised $500,000
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YugaByte’s new database software rakes in $16 million so developers can move to any cloud

Looking to expand the footprint of its toolkit giving developers a unified database software that can work for both relational and post-relational databases, YugaByte has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. For company co-founder, Kannan Muthukkaruppan, the new database software liberates developers from the risk of lock-in with any provider of cloud compute as the leading providers at Amazon, Microsoft and Google jockey for the pole position among software developers and reduces programming complexity. “YugaByte DB makes it possible for organizations to standardize on a single, distributed database to support a multitude of workloads requiring both SQL and NoSQL capabilities. This speeds up the development of applications while at the same time reduces operational complexity and licensing costs,” said Kannan Muthukkaruppan, co-founder and chief executive of YugaByte, in a statement.  Muthukkaruppan and his fellow co-founders know their way around database software. Alongside Karthik Ranganathan and Mikhail
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Ubisoft partners with HitRECord to crowdsource ideas for Beyond Good and Evil 2

Ubisoft is working with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRECord crowdsourced content network to come up with ideas for the sequel to its popular Beyond Good and Evil game. The game itself isn’t shipping for a while (probably a long while since it’s in “pre-alpha”), but as part of the rollout anyone can create art and music and submit them to the HitRECord website. The site’s own community of creative talent will then take a whack at polishing things up. Afterwards, HitRECord will make a demo to send to Ubisoft, which can then incorporate the ideas into the game. If Ubisoft uses the HitRECord content, all of the collaborators involved in its creation get paid. Content can be anything from songs, to frescoes, to street art that’s depicted in the game. “We want our community to participate in a way that’s never been done before through the Space Monkey program,” Guillaume
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Africa Roundup: African startup investments turn to fintech this winter season

Forty-seven and a half million dollars is a big commitment to African technology companies — even with the recent uptick in VC investment on the continent. But for the Kenyan-based fintech firm Cellulant, whose digital payments platform processed 7 million transactions worth $350 million across 33 African countries in the last month alone, raising that amount in a series C round led by TPG Growth’s Rise Fund just makes sense. In 2017, the company processed $2.7 billion in payments, said chief executive, Ken Njoroge. Clients include the continent’s largest banks: Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered, Standard Bank, and Ecobank. Cellulant also
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The Hybrid and Gaza Sky Geeks are helping Arab-Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs overcome adversity

Imagine trying to build a business in a country where 90% of the water is undrinkable, electricity only works four hours a day and your travel is restricted to an area four times the size of Manhattan, and where in-person meetings are impossible because your partners can’t enter your country to meet you. And imagine not having access to capital because of your ethnicity (as many POC entrepreneurs across the globe already do). That’s the situation for Arab-Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs trying to create businesses and access the enormous engine of wealth creation that has transformed Israel into “startup nation”. The billions of capital and transformational opportunity that building startups affords to economies has largely been denied entrepreneurs in Israel’s Arab community and in Palestine. However, two organizations in the country and in the violence-stricken Gaza strip are working to provide access. One is The Hybrid, an Israeli government-backed initiative
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These are the competitive pressures driving automakers to accelerate new tech adoption

The transformations that companies like Tesla, Uber and Lyft bring to the auto industry are changing more than just the ways car companies think about drivetrains and ownership, and its opening doors for new ways of thinking about the entire mobility industry. That’s the word from some of Israel’s top investors from the stage at our TechCrunch Tel Aviv event. Every aspect of the auto industry is being reshaped by technological innovation and it’s opening the traditionally closed supply chains that car makers have relied on for at least a century creating more opportunities for startup vendors in areas like sensors, software, services, and yes, even electrification. For Michael Granoff, the founder of Maniv Mobility, Chemi Peres, the founder of PItango, and Yahal Zilka, the co-founder of Magma Venture Partners, there are at least four areas of opportunity for startups (especially startups hailing from Israel’s innovation
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Israeli autonomous technology developer Innoviz is entering China’s car market

Innoviz, a developer of light detection and ranging technologies for computer vision and autonomous vehicles, is getting a toehold in China, the world’s fastest growing auto market, through a partnership with the Chinese automotive supplier HiRain Technologies. From offices in Beijing, Chicago, Detroit, Shanghai, Tianjin HiRain serves as a global supplier to some of China’s largest automakers and has already been a gateway to success for another Israeli company developing sensing technology for vehicle manufacturers — Mobileye . That company has half of its business coming from China and has won 9 of its supplier agreements with different automakers in the country through its HiRain partnership, according to people with knowledge of the company. For the three year old Innoviz, the opportunity to expand its list of suppliers to include one of China’s leaders was too good of an opportunity to pass up, said chief executive officer Omer Keilaf. “China
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Synthego’s new products give scientists access to edited genetic material

Synthego, a provider of gene editing services for genomics research and experimentation, has launched a new suite of products that give researchers access to edited genetic material to make experimenting with programmable biology easier. The company’s new service will provide researchers with genetic material that has already been edited using the CRISPR process so that scientists can test their hypotheses around new treatments for diseases or new expressions of genetic traits faster. “Gene editing technologies like CRISPR have dramatically improved how researchers make genomic modifications. As with many new biological tools, not everyone has the access, time and ability to learn and use CRISPR efficiently to get the results they want. Due to these barriers, there is significant demand for products that make CRISPR accessible to the masses so researchers can focus on experimental outcomes rather than method development,” said George Church, Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard
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Real estate property manager and developer JLL launches a $100 million tech investment fund

The multi-billion dollar real estate developer and property manager JLL is getting into the tech investment game with the launch of a new $100 million fund run by corporate subsidiary JLL Spark. Initially envisioned as a technology-focused business unit of the multinational real estate company, the firm eventually turned to the more traditional venture capital investment model as a way to get more exposure to all of the new technologies that are coming to market, according to JLL SPark’s co-chief executive Mihir Shah. For Shah and his co-founder Yishai Lerner running the real estate company’s investment firm is the first foray by either executive into the world of real estate or property technology. But both men have been working in the startup world of the Bay Area for at over a decade. In fact, the two serial entrepreneurs launched one of their first companies from the TechCrunch 50 conference way
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