Plus-sized clothing startup Dia&Co gets another $70M from Sequoia, USV

The retail industry has and continues to fail the growing number of American women size 14 or larger, says Nadia Boujarwah, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Dia&Co, a personal styling service for plus-sized women.

According to Plunkett Research, nearly 70 percent of women in the U.S. are plus-sized; Dia&Co wants to expand the options available to that growing demographic. Today, the New York-based startup is announcing that it’s brought in another $70 million in venture capital funding from existing backers Sequoia Capital and Union Square Ventures (USV). “I’ve been a plus-sized woman my whole life and no one can convince me that this isn’t a failure of retail,” Boujarwah told TechCrunch. “The current state of the plus size market is in no way reflective of how [it] should look going forward. There is so much work ahead of us.”

Lies, damn lies, and HQ2

There are few things certain in our world except for the uplifting tendencies of technology. I’ve spent the past few years trying to prove this to myself, at least, by interviewing hundreds of thinkers on the topic. I’ve come to a singular conclusion: when tech moves into a city, be it an iOS dev shop or a robotic facility for making widgets, things change primarily for the better. Given the recent rush to gain 25,000 or so jobs from Amazon’s HQ2 and the subsequent grumbling by cities passed over, it is difficult to refute this, but I’d like explore it.

Many cities have gained from tech, both historically and recently. Pittsburgh, for example, had a plan to become a tech city back in the early 1990s after seeing the value coming out of Carnegie Mellon and the other universities in town. Anecdotally, Pittsburgh remained a fairly depressed steel town until
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New York politicians push back on Amazon HQ2 plans

Amazon’s HQ2 process was bound to polarize (though I do enjoy a good dueling op-ed on these pages) no matter how it landed. But the decision to set up shop in New York City is likely ruffling more feathers than just about any other possible outcome.

As a resident of neighboring Astoria, Queens, the less I say about the matter the better — I’m going to assume you didn’t click on this story to read five paragraphs of me complaining about the N train and my rent.I will say I haven’t spoken to too many fellow NYC residents who are excited about the personal impact Amazon’s move will have on quality of life.

A number of local and state representatives are also finally starting to weigh in on the matter, and many of the comments don’t reflect the sort of capitalist cheerleading one anticipates from elected officials. Senator Kirsten

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Government denies Oracle’s protest of $10B Pentagon JEDI cloud RFP

When Oracle filed a protest in August with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI RFP process was unfair, it probably had little chance of succeeding. Today, the GAO turned away the protest.

The JEDI contract has been set up as a winner-take-all affair. With $10 billion on the table, there has been much teeth-gnashing and complaining that the deck has been stacked to favor one vendor, Amazon. The Pentagon has firmly denied this, but it hasn’t stopped Oracle and IBM from complaining loudly from the get-go that there were problems with the way the RFP was set up. At least with the Oracle complaint, the GAO put that idea firmly to rest today. For starters, the GAO made it clear that the winner-take-all approach was just fine, stating “…the Defense Department’s decision to pursue a single-award approach to obtain these cloud services is consistent with
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Amazon did exactly what it should have with its HQ2 process

I love my colleague Jon Shieber, he’s a great guy. But his arguments against Amazon’s HQ2 process are just wrong, and are part of an increasingly poisonous atmosphere around employment growth and prosperity in America.

Our normally-scheduled analysis of AI and semiconductors will (hopefully) restart tomorrow. We are experimenting with new content forms at TechCrunch. This is a rough draft of something new – provide your feedback directly to the author at danny@techcrunch.com if you like or hate something here.

A tale of three arguments

Shieber’s pointed argument yesterday falls in line with the wider debate about gentrification and the steep inequality of today’s digital economy. “Amazon played everyone involved in the process: the governments that pandered to it and the media that covered it (including us),” he wrote. “Now it looks like the residents of these communities that will have to live with their new corporate neighbor
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Amazon’s Fire TV Recast is a decent DVR for antenna users

Amazon’s Fire TV companion DVR, the Fire TV Recast, is available today to the public, after previously having been only offered for pre-order. The new device offers a way for Fire TV owners to easily access free, over-the-air broadcast television directly from the Fire TV’s software. Starting at $229, this cord cutters’ DVR is something of a modern-day TiVo, as it combines access to live TV, recordings, and on-demand programming all in one interface. But while the Fire TV Recast works as advertised, channel reception in your area can hinder your experience.

The Fire TV Recast was one of many products Amazon introduced at its over-stuffed Alexa event this September. The device is designed to work with your existing Fire TV Edition television, Fire TV, or Fire TV Stick and a digital antenna, allowing you to watch live television directly in the Fire TV interface, as well as record
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We tried Amazon’s bizarre Alexa microwave and weren’t convinced

I’m a fan of Alexa and of voice computing in general. But when Amazon said it was putting Alexa into a microwave, I wasn’t so sure. The value in voice computing is being able to get to news, information, music hands-free, as well as perform simple tasks, including those for the smart home – like changing the thermostat from downstairs, or taking a peek at your security camera video from your Echo Show. But a microwave? Really?

Microwaves, after all, are one of the most common kitchen appliances. And, unlike conventional ovens, they’re dead simple to use. Amazon, however, would disagree. The company believes consumers aren’t taking full advantage of their microwave’s more advanced settings, which are overly complicated. That’s where Alexa could help, the company says. “Most people don’t use them for all the features that they’re able to do – like presets and ways you can do
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The great Amazon swindle

Amazon has confirmed that it will open two massive new offices in New York City and Crystal City, Va., to complement its already massive headquarters in Seattle. And the verdict on the company’s decision is disgust.

Amazon played everyone involved in the process: the governments that pandered to it and the media that covered it (including us). Now it looks like the residents of these communities that will have to live with their new corporate neighbor are going to be left to pay for it. In its search for a new office location or two, Amazon perverted the standard request-for-proposal process designed to provide transparency into how governments spend money on big projects. Either by design or happenstance, Amazon shat all over the process and the inherent transparency by which civic decisions are made. That Amazon felt comfortable enough to flip the script and instead have cities bid for
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Open sourcing analysis, plus US, China and HQ2

The big news today is that — finally — we have Amazon’s selection of cities for its dual second headquarters (Northern Virginia and NYC). Then some notes on China. But first, semiconductors and open sourcing analysis.

We are experimenting with new content forms at TechCrunch. This is a rough draft of something new – provide your feedback directly to the authors: Danny at danny@techcrunch.com or Arman at Arman.Tabatabai@techcrunch.com if you like or hate something here.

Pivot: Future of semiconductors, chips, AI, etc.

Last week, I focused on SoftBank’s debt and Form D filings by startups. On Friday, I asked what I should start to analyze next. There were several feedback hotspots, but the one that popped out to me was around next-generation chips and the battle for dominance at the hardware layer. As a software engineer, I know almost nothing about silicon (the beauty of abstraction). But
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Fintonic users offered 0% interest on Amazon.es purchases

Personal finance management app maker Fintonic has teamed up with ecommerce behemoth Amazon to offer users in Spain interest free purchases on the local Amazon .es marketplace.

The 0% finance offer is being timed to coincide with the annual Black Friday shopping fest that kicks off later this month. Qualifying Fintonic users can apply for Amazon Gift cards ranging from €200 to €1,000 via the app — and be able to defer payments for up to four months. The balance of the offered gift cards has a shelf life of ten years before expiry. Fintonic is asking interested users to sign up to a guest list in time for the offer to launch on November 23. The Madrid-based fintech startup offers a free app for consumers to manage their money, focusing on Spanish speaking markets. It pairs a financial assistant app with a brokering business model that’s based on taking a
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Amazon’s Alexa Fund invests in on-demand parking service, ParkWhiz

ParkWhiz, a startup that’s something of an Open Table for available parking spots, is adding $5 million in new equity to its recently announced Series D round. The new funds come from strategic investors Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Alate Partners, Chaifetz Group and Purple Arch Ventures. Combined with the earlier round led by NewSpring Capital, the total raise was $25 million.

The parking service has expanded over the past couple of years across the U.S. and Canada, and now counts 40 million customers to date who have used ParkWhiz to find parking in garages and lots. The service today powers transactional parking services for hundreds of partners, including sports teams and venues, events, travel providers, airlines, hotels, automotive OEMs, and navigation systems within their own apps and sites, it says. For Amazon, the value in partnering with ParkWhiz has to do with its adoption of voice-based computing. Using Amazon’s Alexa
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Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal resigns over allegations of ‘serious personal misconduct’

Flipkart, the India-based e-commerce firm owned by Walmart, has lost its Group CEO Binny Bansal after he resigned from the company following an investigation into “serious personal misconduct.”

Bansal founded Flipkart in 2007 with Sachin Bansal (no relation) and he had served as its CEO since 2016, before going on to become CEO of the Flipkart Group — which spans its core e-commerce, fashion and payments divisions — one year later. Walmart said in a statement that Bansal denied the allegation and that an investigation into it “did not find evidence to corroborate the complainant’s assertions.” However, the retailer did uncover “other lapses in judgement, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how Binny responded to the situation” which is why it has accepted his resignation. Walmart, Flipkart and Bansal aren’t providing details on exactly what happened, but Walmart cautioned that “recent events risked becoming a distraction.”

Report: NYC and Arlington, VA win the contest for Amazon’s split East Coast headquarters

New York City and Arlington, Virginia have reportedly won Amazon’s lengthy and highly-publicized pageant for the locations of its new headquarters, beating out 238 other contestants. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, an official announcement may come as early as Tuesday.

The offices will be located in Long Island City, across the East River from Manhattan, and Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington, which is a 15-20 minute drive from Washington D.C. Last week, more than a year after the Seattle-based company began asking cities to submit proposals for its second headquarters, nicknamed HQ2, reports emerged that Amazon planned to open two new locations, instead of just one, catching candidates off guard. WSJ reported that the Amazon decided to split a total of 50,000 employees between two new offices because the company believes it can recruit better candidates that way, while also avoiding the
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In venture capital, it’s still the age of the unicorn

This month marks the 5-year anniversary of Aileen Lee’s landmark article, “Welcome To The Unicorn Club”.

At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting.

But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the herd? Does this indicate an irrational exuberance where investors

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Facebook Portal needs more. At least it just added YouTube

To offset the creepiness of having Facebook’s camera and microphone in your house, its new Portal video chat gadget needs best-in-class software.  Its hardware is remarkably well done, plus Messenger and the photo frame feature work great. But its third-party app platform was pretty skimpy when the device launched this week.

Facebook is increasingly relying on its smart display competitors to boost Portal’s capabilities. It already comes with Amazon Alexa inside. And now, Google’s YouTube is part of the Portal app platform. “Yes, YouTube.com is available through an optional install in the ‘Portal Apps’ catalog” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. You can open it with a “Hey Portal” command, but there currently seems to be no way to queue up specific videos or control playback via voice.

The addition gives Portal much greater flexibility when it comes to video. Previously it could only play videos from Facebook Watch,
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Amazon expands its assortment of Apple inventory, including the latest devices

Amazon has signed a new deal with Apple that will allow the retailer to increase the selection of Apple products on its site, according to a report from CNET which Amazon also confirmed. The deal will give Apple-authorized resellers the ability to sell a wide range of devices on Amazon – including Apple’s recently launched iPad Pro, iPhone XS and XR, and Apple Watch Series 4, in addition to Beats headphones.

Previously, these products were only available through Amazon’s third-party marketplace sellers at various price points, or not available at all, CNET noted. Amazon confirmed the deal to TechCrunch in a statement.

“Amazon is constantly working to enhance the customer experience, and one of the ways we do this is by increasing selection of the products we know customers want,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We look forward to expanding our assortment of Apple and Beats products globally.”

Apple, so
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Xiaomi is opening a retail store in London as it extends its Europe push

Xiaomi’s expansion into Europe continues at speed after the Chinese smartphone maker announced plans to open its first retail store in London.

The company is best known for developing quality Android phones at affordable prices and already it has launched devices in Spain, Italy and France. Now, that foray has touched the UK where Xiaomi launched its Mi 8 Pro device at an event yesterday and revealed that it will open a store at the Westfield mall in London on November 18. That outlet will become Xiaomi’s first authorized Mi Store. Styled on Apple’s iconic stores, the Mi store will showcase a range of products, not all of which are available in the UK. Still, Xiaomi has shown a taste of what it plans to offer in the UK by introducing a number of products alongside the Mi 8 Pro this week. Those include its budget tier Redmi 6A phone and,
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Amazon launches Alexa app for Windows 10 PCs

Amazon today launched an Alexa app for Windows 10 PCs on the Microsoft Store. The voice application allows PC owners to speak to Alexa to set reminders, timers, alarms; create lists and to-dos; track their calendar appointments; get news, weather and other information; play music; listen to podcasts and audiobooks; control the smart home, and more.

The app is another way that Alexa is being unhitched from Echo speakers and other devices that generally stay in the home. Similar to the Alexa app for mobile devices, the Windows 10 app means you can use Alexa when you’re traveling for access to content and information, as well as to do things like lock your doors or check your security cameras, for example. The app also offers access to tens of thousands of Alexa skills, says Amazon. However, some features – including video, communications, Spotify and Pandora – are not supported on
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20 startups take center stage at Berkeley SkyDeck’s demo day

The largest-ever Berkeley SkyDeck demo day kicked off with a high-energy performance from the Cal marching band, setting the tone for an afternoon of presentations from none other than Berkeley faculty and students-turned-entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2012 as a modest accelerator for student-run businesses, SkyDeck has flourished since its inception. To date, the program has mentored 300 startups, which have gone on to raise $800 million via 27 funding rounds and 10 acquisition deals. Earlier this year, it raised a $24 million venture fund so it could finally seed participating startups with $100,000 in exchange for 5 percent equity. Today’s cohort is only the second to receive an investment from SkyDeck as part of the accelerator. To participate in SkyDeck’s accelerator program, startups must have at least one founding member attending any of the University of California campuses as an undergraduate or graduate student. Faculty members are also able to apply. Executive
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