Inside the rise and reign of supergiant venture capital rounds

There was a time not so long ago when nine-figure venture capital rounds weren’t a near-daily feature of tech business news. But now funding rounds of $100 million or more cross the wires with stunning frequency. The era of supergiant rounds is now the new normal. This is attributable, in part, to billions of dollars flowing into new venture capital funds — the largest of which are raised by the oldest, most entrenched firms — and competition from relative newcomers, like SoftBank. Q2 2018 may have set new records for worldwide VC deal and dollar volume in this post-dot com cycle, but that belies an important fact: Investors are dumping the bulk of capital into a relatively small number of companies. The rise of supergiant rounds wound up in a “takeover” of the market. The chart below shows the proportion of capital raised in rounds of $100 million or more,
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Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

Snapcash ended up as a way to pay adult performers for private content over Snapchat, not just a way to split bills with friends. But Snapchat will abandon the peer-to-peer payment space on August 30th. Code buried in Snapchat’s Android app includes a “Snapcash deprecation message” that displays “Snapcash will no longer be available after %s [date]”. Shutting down the feature will bring an end to Snapchat’s four-year partnership with Square to power the feature for sending people money. Snapcash may have become more of a liability than a utility. With apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and Square Cash itself, there were plenty of other ways to pay back friends for drinks or Ubers, so Snapcash may have seen low legitimate usage. Meanwhile, a quick Twitter search for “Snapcash” surfaced plenty of offers of erotic content in exchange for payments through the feature. It may have been safer for Snapchat
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Here are some of the movie and TV trailers to come out of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

Over the course of a weekend we got a glimpse at some of the coming seasons and movies for various sci-fi, superhero, and other types of highly-anticipated fan-favorite franchises from the San Diego Comic-Con this year. Here’s a quick selection of some of the ones shown over the weekend:

Aquaman

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Godzilla: King of Monsters

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Disenchantment

Arrow: Season 7

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2

Doctor Who

Nightflyers

Titans

The Walking Dead: Season 9

Black Lightning

Young Justice

Legacies

Star Trek: Discovery — Season 2

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

The Flash

Supergirl

Glass

Shazam

The Gifted

Legacies

Trill Project aims to be a safe community for people to express their true selves

Trill Project, founded by three high school girls, recently launched out of private beta to help people safely express themselves online. For those unfamiliar with the word “trill,” it’s a combination of “true” and “real.” An investor described it to me as a positive Yik Yak . Trill Project began as a community for teenagers, especially for transgender teens who felt like they didn’t have a safe space to be themselves. It has since expanded it to a platform for everyone to express anything from their struggles with addiction, mental illnesses to workplace issues. “We’re reinventing the narrative of social networking and we kind of elevate social media by being private and anonymous,” Trill Project co-founder Georgia Messinger told TechCrunch over the phone. On Trill Project, everything is anonymous (there are no usernames) and monitored by 50 moderators around the clock. Trill Project also has machine learning algorithms as work
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The blockchain begins finding its way in the enterprise

The blockchain is in the middle of a major hype cycle at the moment, and that makes it hard for many people to take it seriously, but if you look at the core digital ledger technology, there is tremendous potential to change the way we think about trust in business. Yet these are still extremely early days and there are a number of missing pieces that need to be in place for the blockchain to really take off in the enterprise. Suffice it to say that it has caught the fancy of major enterprise vendors with the likes of SAP, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon all looking at providing some level of Blockchain as a service for customers. While the level of interest in blockchain remains fluid, a July 2017 survey of 400 large companies by UK firm Juniper Research found 6 in 10 respondents were “either actively considering, or
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Information wants to be siloed

Data, they say, is the new oil, and open public data is the new commons. Give the people the facts, and they will use them to make informed decisions. Right? Except that’s not the bureaucratic instinct. Bureaucrats fear the free flow of information. And all too often they’ll try to quench it by intoning the magic word “security,” and if that doesn’t work, “terrorism!“, in the most idiotic ways and places possible. This is a wide and general rule: whenever some tinpot official says something painfully dumb has to be done Because Security, the odds are better than even that they’re lazy, lying, and/or incompetent. (Think of this every time e.g. your work password expires and you’re required to change it.) There are so many specific examples that it’s hard to choose just one — but, conveniently, recently an old friend of mine stumbled
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Cutting The Cord/Trashing The Dish

Last Sunday I wrote about the over the top video market and made some observations about it in light of the challenges we were having getting our satellite dish working again. In the week that passed, we had another no-show appointment by DirectTV, more success watching whatever we want on our AppleTVs, and on Friday I called up DirectTV and canceled my re-install order for our beach house once and for all and we are now officially off of traditional “cable TV” out here. After canceling our re-install order and shutting down the account we have had for twenty years, I paid for a Hulu and a YouTube TV subscription and checked out DirectTV Now. I was surprised that DirectTV Now has no incentives for existing DirectTV subscribers to purchase it. You don’t get a reduced price or free access. I decided to pass on it and see if Hulu and YouTube
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The quantum meltdown of encryption

The world stands at the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in information technology. Huge leaps forward in all fields of computer science, from data analysis to machine learning, will result from this breakthrough. But like all of man’s technological achievements, from the combustion engine to nuclear power, harnessing quantum comes with potential dangers as well. Quantum computers have created a slew of unforeseen vulnerabilities in the very infrastructure that keeps the digital sphere safe.

The underlying assumption behind nearly all encryption ciphers used today is that their complexity precludes any attempt by hackers

Digital security key concept background with binary data code
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The quantum meltdown of encryption

The world stands at the cusp of one of the greatest breakthroughs in information technology. Huge leaps forward in all fields of computer science, from data analysis to machine learning, will result from this breakthrough. But like all of man’s technological achievements, from the combustion engine to nuclear power, harnessing quantum comes with potential dangers as well. Quantum computers have created a slew of unforeseen vulnerabilities in the very infrastructure that keeps the digital sphere safe.

The underlying assumption behind nearly all encryption ciphers used today is that their complexity precludes any attempt by hackers

Digital security key concept background with binary data code
Continue reading "The quantum meltdown of encryption"

Propelling deep space flight with a new fuel source, Momentus prepares for liftoff

Mikhail Kokorich, the founder of Momentus, a new Y Combinator-backed propulsion technology developer for space flight, hadn’t always dreamed of going to the moon. A physicist who graduated from Russia’s top-ranked Novosibirsk University, Kokorich was a serial entrepreneur in who grew up in Siberia and made his name and his first fortunes in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The heart of Momentus’ technology is a new propulsion system that uses water as a propellant instead of chemicals.

Image courtesy Momentus

Using water has several benefits, Kokorich says. One, it’s a fuel source that’s abundant in outer space, and it’s ultimately better and more efficient fuel for flight beyond low earth orbit. “If you move something with a chemical booster stage to the moon. Chemical propulsion is good when you need to have a very high thrust,” according to Kokorich. Once a ship gets beyond gravity’s
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Eventbrite is reportedly going public in the second half of this year

Eventbrite, the 12-year-old, San Francisco-based event-planning company, has filed confidentially for an IPO and plans to go public later this year, according to a new report in the WSJ. The company’s lead underwriters are Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co., it says. The offering must seem a long time in coming for Eventbrite founders Julia Hartz; her husband, Kevin Hartz; and the company’s technical cofounder and CTO, Renaud Visage. Originally created for individuals wanting to host smaller events and private parties, but who faced few few options aside creating Excel spreadsheets — remember, the ticketing world formerly revolved around stadiums and major sporting events —  Eventbrite has grown steadily over the years into a corporate giant. It now powers ticketing for millions of events in more than 180 countries, and it has rung up more than $10 billion in cumulative tickets sales since its founding. According to
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Ellen Pao memoir adaptation among 7 new Shonda Rhimes projects for Netflix

When Shonda Rhimes left ABC last August for Netflix, both she and the studio kept a tight lid on their plans. We could only imagine where the twists and turns that her future stories would take us. Well, now we know. This week, Rhimes’s production company Shondaland and Netflix announced seven projects that she will make for the streaming platform with her production partner Betsy Beers who also made the move to Netflix. The projects tell stories of women of color, talented kids, important and routinely overlooked American history, fancy English relationships and pre-2017 White House doings.

Discover New Hiking Trails With This App

Hiking is one of those activities where it pays to have a map of where you’re going as well as some reports for what’s happened to those who have traveled before you. Sure, there are popular, marked trails out there, but when you’re on the hunt for something a little more obscure, the hunting can sometimes be a bit… Read more...

Warner Bros. unveils the first trailers for ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam’

Today at Comic-Con, Warner Bros . gave fans a peek at the first DC Comics films post-Justice League. Warner Bros. and DC had a bumpy 2017. There was the astonishing critical and commercial success of Wonder Woman, followed by the box office disappointment of Justice League — leading to an executive shakeup and a general rethinking of its movie strategy. Will Aquaman, which stars Jason Momoa as the titular superhero and is due out on December 21, turn things around? Director James Wan told the Comic-Con audience that his goal is to create a movie that “plays more like a science-fiction fantasy film than a traditional super hero movie.” Wan (who’s best-known for horror titles like Saw and The Conjuring but also directed Furious 7) previously said there’s been a long wait for the trailer because he wanted to ensure the visual effects were ready —
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Weekly Roundup: July 21

Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, performed its most critical test to date, Prime Day had some ups and downs but ultimately broke records and major tech companies are uniting to help you move data across apps. Here’s your weekly roundup of the top stories from the tech world:  1. Blue Origin successfully lands both booster and crew capsule after test launch Blue Origin crossed a major milestone on Wednesday as it successfully executed a live separation test. This sent the rocket’s crew capsule higher than it’s ever gone before, while the rocket’s booster coasted back down to earth unscathed. The critical achievement marks a big win for Jeff Bezos’ company and the prospect of commercial space flights. 2. What Amazon lost (and made) on Prime Day  Widespread glitches on Amazon’s site during the first two hours of Prime Day are estimated to have cost the e-commerce giant $1.2
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Now is the time for Walmart to strike at Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime has been an enormous influence on e-commerce, but this online juggernaut is beginning to show cracks. Now is the time for arch-rival Walmart to swoop in with a Prime-like offering that strikes at the weaknesses Amazon has introduced into its formidable loyalty program: price, a lack of focus, and competing subscription services. Here’s the problem. Amazon has invested in its Prime program continuously, adding feature after feature in an obvious bid to make the service appear as valuable as possible. But while these additions are superfluous to many a user’s needs, everyone pays for them whether they’re used or not. That’s part of the strategy, of course — if you know your customer won’t stop paying for a subscription, you can use that to squeeze the life out of other subscriptions they might pay for, and redirect that money to yourself. Prime Video and Music, for example, are
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While tech waffles on going public, biotech IPOs boom

For people who make investment decisions based on revenues and projected earnings, biotech IPOs are kind of a non-starter. Not only are new market entrants universally unprofitable, most have zero revenue. Going public is mostly a means to raise money for clinical trials, with red ink expected for years to come. That pattern may be one reason the venture capital press, Crunchbase News included, tends to devote a disproportionately small portion of coverage to biotech IPOs. It’s more exciting to watch a big-name internet company pop in first-day trading or poke fun at an underperforming dud. But with our fixation on all things tech, we’re missing out on the big picture. There are actually a lot more biotech and healthcare startup IPOs than tech offerings. In the second quarter of this year, for instance, at least 16 U.S. venture-backed biotech and healthcare companies went public, compared to just 11 tech startups.
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