Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: AR/VR in LA on October 18

TechCrunch is heading to UCLA on October 18 and we’ve assembled some of the AR/VR industry’s most prescient founders, investors and executives to chat about the startups and trends driving virtual and augmented reality in 2018. The world’s top tech companies have heavily invested in AR/VR and are persistent in broadcasting the technologies’ potential to blur the lines of how consumers interact with the digital world. Beyond the tech titans, it’s the small startups that are dialing into what’s missing in the ecosystem right now. Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies for virtual worlds. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR
UCLA,
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And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2018 is… Forethought

At the very beginning, there were 21 startups. After three days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner.

Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $100,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup. After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: CB Therapeutics, Forethought, Mira, Origami Labs and Unbound. These startups made their way to the finale to demo in front of our final panel of judges, which included: Cyan Banister (Founders Fund), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), Jeff Clavier (Uncork Capital), Kirsten Green (Forerunner Ventures), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures) and Matthew Panzarino (TechCrunch). And now, meet the Startup Battlefield winner of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018.

Winner: Forethought

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One Medical raises $350 million from Carlyle Group to help double up offices and offerings

One Medical has confirmed to TechCrunch it has closed on funding from the Carlyle Group for a new cash infusion worth $350 million. This announcement follows an earlier report this week One Medical was seeking to close a $200 million deal, on top of a possible $100 million in stock for the financing firm. However, we have since learned the deal is a tad higher, including $220 toward the primary equity investment and another $130 million in a secondary investment. CEO Amir Rubin tells TechCrunch the new funds will go toward a serious expansion for the company, including doubling it’s 72 offices throughout the seven states One Medical is currently serving and expanding into new markets. Rubin was coy about where those new markets might be for now but said we’d know soon enough. One Medical is a members-only technology platform offering an array of concierge medical services, including same-day
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Y Combinator is launching a startup program in China

U.S. accelerator Y Combinator is expanding to China after it announced the hiring of former Microsoft and Baidu executive Qi Lu who will develop a standalone startup program that runs on Chinese soil. Shanghai-born Lu spent 11 years with Yahoo and eight years with Microsoft before a short spell with Baidu, where he was COO and head of the firm’s AI research division. Now he becomes founding CEO of YC China while he’s also stepping into the role of Head of YC Research. YC will also expand its research team with an office in Seattle, where Lu has plenty of links. There’s no immediate timeframe for when YC will launch its China program, which represents its first global expansion, but YC President Sam Altman told TechCrunch in an interview that the program will be based in Beijing once it is up and running. Altman said Lu will use his network
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New unicorn Klook raises $200M to expand its travel activities platform worldwide

Klook, a Hong Kong-based startup developing a travel activities platform, has pulled in $200 million in new capital to fuel a major expansion into the U.S. and Europe. A spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the round values the company at more than $1 billion, although the company didn’t provide an exact figure. Klook sets out to make booking travel activities as easy as arranging flights and hotels. That could mean visits to adventure parks, scuba diving, more localized tours or basics such as train travel, food or airport transfers, all of which can be found, paid for and taken using Klook’s platform. The company claims to offer more than 50,000 activities and services from 5,000 partners in over 200 destinations across the world. The startup claims its platform is on track to gross $1 billion in bookings — which is not take home revenue — for this year. That
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MallforAfrica goes global, Kobo360 and Sokowatch raise VC, France explains its $76M fund

B2B e-commerce company Sokowatch closed a $2 million seed investment led by 4DX Ventures. Others to join the round were Village Global, Lynett Capital, Golden Palm Investments, and Outlierz  Ventures. The Kenya based company aims to shake up the supply chain market for Africa’s informal retailers. Sokowatch’s platform connects Africa’s informal retail stores directly to local and multi-national suppliers—such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble—by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit margins. “With both manufacturers and the small shops, we’re becoming the connective layer between them, where previously you had multiple layers of middle-men from distributors, sub-distributors,
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In Argentina, venture capital surges even as the broader economy stutters

Even as the Argentine government was announcing the biggest slide in the country’s economic output in nearly a decade, technology investors in the nation’s capital are all gearing up for record fundraising years. Three of the country’s biggest firms (which are still small by international standards) are raising new, exponentially larger, funds in a sign that technology companies are showing promise despite the bleak picture painted by the broader economy in Latin America. Leading the pack is NXTP Labs, the early stage investor that’s developing a regional network of accelerators and seed investment funds through partnerships that extend from Mexico City to Montevideo and Sao Paulo up to San Francisco. Despite its regional reach, home for NXTP is Buenos Aires and it’s there that the firm began accelerating and investing in early stage companies back in 2011. NXTP has already had 13 exits, according to Crunchbase, and is perhaps
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Aline Sara, founder of Natakallam, to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin

TechCrunch is coming back to Berlin to talk with the best and brightest people in tech from Europe and the rest of the world. In addition to fireside chats and panels, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the coveted cup. Grab your ticket to Disrupt Berlin before August 1st as prices will increase after that. The conference will take place on November 29-30. We are busy collecting some of the most awesome speakers in the world, and not least among them is Aline Sara, founder of Natakallam, the innovative startup which gave refugees hope. https://natakallam.com In the summer of 2014 Aline had just completed her masters in International Affairs at Colombia University and was looking for an affordable way to practice her Arabic—specifically, her native Lebanese regional dialect—from New York City. It was also at that time that Syrians, fleeing the violence from the
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Access TechCrunch’s exclusive San Francisco hotel discounts

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful, diverse cities in the world. If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco this September during Labor Day week, maybe for some sightseeing, maybe for TechCrunch Disrupt SF, then you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of these killer hotel deals TechCrunch has negotiated. These discounts are not only cheaper than publicly offered rates but you’ll also get some free bells and whistles* at many of the hotels, such as:
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary access to the fitness center
  • 20 percent discount on food and beverage outlets inside the hotel
  • Complimentary use of bicycles
    *Concessions vary from hotel to hotel
All these hotels are within easy walking distance of public transportation and major SF sights. You can check out the complete list of hotels right here. You do not need to be registered for Disrupt SF 2018 to take advantage
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Announcing TechCrunch meetups in Buenos Aires and Santiago next week

TechCrunch is heading to Latin America for the first time and staging its first ever Startup Battlefield Latin America on Nov. 8 in São Paulo to find the next wave of early stage startups tackling big ideas! To spread the word, TechCrunch’s Jon Shieber and Anna Escher will visit Buenos Aires and Santiago next week to meet with the startup community and hold meetups for anyone interested in learning more about the Startup Battlefield. They’ll also spend time explaining how to apply. Tickets to the meetups are free, but they will go fast so sign up now. Here are the details:

Buenos Aires

Tuesday, July 24th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Innovation Lab Buenos Aires from Facebook @ Av. Cnel. Niceto Vega 4866, C1414BEF C1414BEF, Buenos Aires, Argentina Register here.

Santiago

Thursday, July 27th, 5:00pm – 7:00pm Startup Chile @ Monjitas 565, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile Register Here. At the meetup, Founders
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TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is coming soon to Beirut, São Paolo and Lagos

Everyone knows there are thriving startup communities outside of obvious hubs, like San Francisco, Berlin, Bangalore and Beijing, but they don’t always get the support they deserve. Last year, TechCrunch took a major page from its playbook, the Startup Battlefield competition, and staged the event in Nairobi, Kenya to find the best early stage startup in Sub-Saharan Africa, and also to Sydney, Australia, to find the same for Australia and New Zealand. Both were successes, thanks to talented founders and the hard traveling TechCrunch team. And now we’re pleased to announce that we’re stepping up our commitment to emerging ecosystems. TechCrunch is once again teaming up with Facebook, our partner for last year’s Nairobi event, to bring the Startup Battlefield to three major cities representing regions with vital, emerging startup communities. In Beirut, TechCrunch’s editors will strive to find the best early stage startup in the Middle East
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GitHub’s epic exit, Domo’s dicey math, and Dataminr’s big raise

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This time ’round we had Connie and Alex on hand with Brian Ascher, a longtime partner with Venrock down in Palo Alto, Ca. It was a surprisingly busy week, so we had our work cut out us. Without further ado:

It turns out TechCrunch writers have really strong opinions about Apple’s new Walkie-Talkie feature

Apple today said it is rolling out a walkie-talkie like feature for the Apple Watch, which is something that seems a really long time coming but just never made it until 2018 when the Apple Watch was out for many years and is on its third iteration. The new watch has a cellular connection, which seems like a good enough time to add walkie talkie features (or maybe they were waiting for that red dial to make it feel cool). You talk into your watch inspector gadget style, which seems like a final actualization of our childhood dreams and ignite a hope that the future may finally be here. Or not. But what was actually a little more surprising was the alarmingly lively discussion that took place following the announcement, as well as the very strong opinions some TechCrunch writers have about the walkie talkie app and its storied
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Equity podcast: More funding for scooters, Cruise gets a boost, and Chinese IPOs

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was fun. Back in the studio, Connie Loizos, Matthew Lynley, your humble servant, and Ramneek Gupta, managing director of Citi Ventures was with us to provide the venture perspective. As you can probably guess, we got a bit stuck in Bird’s nest, trying to vet why the young company is hoping to punch its unicorn card in nigh-record time. The firm’s potential new $150 million round may make it a unicorn, but Lime is in the chase, and the firm’s economics are still not fully understood. What did we agree on in the end? Scooters are fun, and Lynley said a swear. Moving ahead, SoftBank’s Vision Fund is cutting another check, this time to General Motors. Yes, the galactic slushfund is dropping up to
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Equity podcast: Circle raises $110, VCs hunt liquidity, and the Vision Fund’s possible twin

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Today Matthew Lynley, Connie Loizos and I were joined by Semil Shah, the founder of seed-stage fund Haystack and venture partner at Lightspeed. This week, we stuck to our roots: big rounds, venture capital liquidity thirst, one IPO, two Vision Funds, and three scooter jokes. Maybe more than three, but who is counting. First up we took on Circle’s new $110 million round, working to understand why the firm is raising new capital at such a huge valuation (~$3 billion!). Also in play: Circle’s new lead investor isn’t a venture capital shop, making the monetary infusion all the more interesting. (Oh, and here’s more on the Basis stable coin we brought up.) Next, we chatted through NEA’s plan to raise a fresh $1 billion to buy
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Ariella Grinberg from General Motors joins un in Tel Aviv

This year’s TechCrunch event in Tel Aviv is all about mobility and everything around it, from autonomous vehicles, to sensors, drones and security. And that’s including traditional car manufacturers in our agenda was important. I’m happy to announce that Ariella Grinberg from General Motors is going to join us at our event. Ariella Grinberg in Innovation Manager for GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Israel. She’s the proof that car manufacturers have to work with talented Israeli teams when it comes to smart mobility. General Motors has been working hard on autonomous vehicles, electric and connected cars, as well as cybersecurity issues. This radical shift is arguably GM’s biggest challenge to date. Newcomers and small startups have the potential to disrupt the car industry and generate more value than established companies like GM. It’s going to be interesting to hear Ariella Grinberg detail her work at GM and the company’s overall strategy
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Everledger’s Kemp and Omise’s Hasegawa join TC Blockchain

Blockchain technology and the decentralizing effects of distributed ledgers have enormous amounts of potential and may mean the Internet will never be the same again. The fact that one could eventually run vast applications without any servers is equally transformational. But it’s still very much a wild west out there in terms of ascertaining who is working on ‘the real deal’. The blockchain world is currently weighed down with the expectations of dubious crypto-currency speculators and sky-high ICOs and hacks that are interfering with a frank conversation about the future. Which is why TechCrunch has decided to throw its hat into the ring and try to bring together the leading players in the space for a frank discussion and inquiry into this next phase in Zug, Switzerland, this July. At TC Sessions: Blockchain 2018, TechCrunch’s editors will bring together top figures in the blockchain technology world to discuss how and
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Welcome to the new TechCrunch

It’s been five years since we last refreshed our site, during which time the web has evolved considerably. And we have too, so much so that we outgrew our site. As a high traffic outlet supporting editorial efforts, events, networking and resources with a three-person engineering team, we did our best to build on what […]

Need a post on Harvard.edu about your ICO? $500, please

 In the endless hunt to gain credibility for token products, founders are resorting to some shady – and ridiculous – tactics. After researching the weird world of pay-for-play recently and taking part in this expose on the space, I stumbled on another corner of the Internet that is a bit disturbing. It seems the habit of trying to bribe writers for big sites and providing access… Read More

Final round of tickets released for TechCrunch’s Winter Party

 We’re just about a week away from hosting our inaugural Winter Party at Galvanize. If you haven’t been able to grab a ticket yet, today is your lucky day. We’ve released our final round of tickets to TechCrunch’s first-ever Winter Party, so do yourself a solid and pick yours up so you can join in the fun on Friday, February 23. Read More