How students are founding, funding and joining startups


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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There has never been a better time to start, join, or fund a startup as a student. 

Young founders who want to start companies while still in school have an increasing number of resources to tap into that exist just for them. Students that want to learn how to build companies can apply to an increasing number of fast-track programs that allow them to gain valuable early stage operating experience. The energy around student entrepreneurship today is incredible. I’ve been immersed in this community as an investor and adviser for some time now, and to say the least, I’m continually blown away by what the next generation of innovators are dreaming up (from Analytical Space’s global data relay service for satellites to Brooklinen’s reinvention of the luxury bed).

Amazon and Flipkart pull 100,000s of products to comply with new Indian law


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Amazon has been forced to pull an estimated 400,000 products in India after new regulation limiting e-commerce businesses went into force in the country today.

First announced at the end of 2018, the new regulation imposes a ban on exclusive sales, prevents retailers from selling products on platforms they count as investors, and it applies restrictions on discounts and cashback promotions.

That’s hugely problematic for Amazon and Flipkart, its rival that’s owned by Walmart following a $16 billion investment last year. After a 2016 ruling prevented it from owning inventory, Amazon restricted its system so that its own products were offered by entities that it jointly owned with local partners. However, the newest regulation forbids it from working with organizations that it has ownership of, hence it is estimated to have pulled as many as 400,000 products from sale in India, according to a New York Times report.

The

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Partech is doubling the size of its African venture fund to $143 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Partech has doubled its Africa VC fund to $143 million and opened a Nairobi office to complement its Dakar practice.

The Partech Africa Fund plans to make 20 to 25 investments across roughly 10 countries over the next several years, according to General Partner Tidjane Deme. The fund has added Ceasar Nyagha as Investment Officer for the Kenya office to expand its East Africa reach.

Partech Africa will primarily target Series A and B investments and some pre-series rounds at higher dollar amounts. “We will consider seed-funding—what we call seed-plus—tickets in the $500,000 range,” Deme told TechCrunch on a call from Dakar.

“In terms

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How business-to-business startups reduce inequality


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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When considering the structural impact of technology companies on our economy and society, we tend to focus on questions of scale and monopoly.

It’s true that the FAANG companies and more recent winners (Airbnb, Uber) have surfed a combination of network effects, preferential access to capital and classic efficiencies of scale to generate tremendous value for their shareholders—to the detriment of new entrants who attempt to unseat them.

At their high water mark in mid-2018, FAANG alone made up 11% of the total market cap of the S&P 500 and 38% of the

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FabFitFun raises $80 million for its growing lifestyle brand


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Nine years after launching its online magazine, and three years after diversifying into the subscription box business, FabFitFun has raised $80 million in a growth round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from its previous investors Upfront Ventures and NEA. 

The Los Angeles-based company has steadily expanded its retail and lifestyle empire through subscription boxes, video… and even an augmented reality app.

Last year the company crossed $200 million in revenue and managed to net over 1 million subscribers for the service.

In a statement the company said the new financing would be used to expand FabFitFun membership offerings and consolidate its position as a marketing partner and platform for brands.

As a result of the investment, Kleiner Perkins general partners Mood Rowghani and Mary Meeker will join as board members and observers, respectively.

It’s

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Entrepreneur First eyes further Asia growth to build its global network of founders


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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British startup venture builder Entrepreneur First is eying additional expansion in Asia, where its operation is now as large as it is in Europe, as it expands its reach in 2019. But, despite serving a varied mixture of markets, the company said its founders are a fairly unified breed.

The Entrepreneur First program is billed as a “talent investor.” It matches prospective founders and, through an accelerator program, it encourages them to start and build companies which it backs with financing. The organization started out in London in 2011, and today it is also present in Paris and Berlin in Europe and, in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and (soon) Bangalore. To date, it says it has graduated over 1,200 founders who have created more than 200 companies, estimated at a cumulative $1.5 billion on paper.

Those six cities cover a spread of unique cultures — both in general life and

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WhatsApp Business app adds customer service features to its desktop and web apps


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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A year ago, Facebook-owned WhatsApp officially introduced its standalone app aimed at small business customers. Today, the WhatsApp Business app has grown to reach 5 million business customers, the company says. And now it’s making the app easier to use on the desktop and the web by porting over several of the most popular features that were previously available only on mobile.

These include tools to organize and filter chats, as well as to quickly reply to customer inquiries.

Quick Replies, as the latter feature is called, lets businesses respond to common questions from customers with pre-written replies. It’s similar to a feature Facebook introduced several years ago, then called “Saved Replies,” that allowed business owners with Facebook Pages to respond to customers with canned messages.

On WhatsApp Business, you can trigger the quick replies by press the “/” button on your keyboard.

The feature joins several other customer

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Fresh tickets and New VC partners for the TechCrunch Winter Party


This post is by Emma Comeau from TechCrunch


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We’ve got a double dose of exciting news for you, startup fans. First, we’re thrilled to announce that investment firms August Capital, SV Angel and Uncork Capital have partnered with us for the 2nd Annual TechCrunch Winter Party at Galvanize on February 8. And second, today we released into the wild another fresh, though limited, batch of tickets.

If you haven’t snagged a ticket to this Silicon Valley shindig, take heed. This is the fourth week we’ve released tickets, and they’ve been flying off the proverbial shelf. They’re strictly first-come-first-serve, so do yourself a favor: Buy your ticket today and avoid a severe case of FOMO — fear of missing out.

Our Winter Party is the perfect time to kick back and connect with your people in a relaxed fashion while enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres and creative cocktails. It’s a celebration of the early-stage startup community, which, we might

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Startups Weekly: Squad’s screen-shares and Slack’s swastika


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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We’re three weeks into January. We’ve recovered from our CES hangover and, hopefully, from the CES flu. We’ve started writing the correct year, 2019, not 2018.

Venture capitalists have gone full steam ahead with fundraising efforts, several startups have closed multi-hundred million dollar rounds, a virtual influencer raised equity funding and yet, all anyone wants to talk about is Slack’s new logo… As part of its public listing prep, Slack announced some changes to its branding this week, including a vaguely different looking logo. Considering the flack the $7 billion startup received instantaneously and accusations that the negative space in the logo resembled a swastika — Slack would’ve been better off leaving its original logo alone; alas…

On to more important matters.

Rubrik more than doubled its valuation

The data management startup raised a $261 million Series E funding at a $3.3 billion valuation, an increase from

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Reserve your demo table today for the TechCrunch Winter Party at Galvanize


This post is by Emma Comeau from TechCrunch


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There are just three short weeks until Silicon Valley’s startup community takes a night off to relax, connect and get down at the 2nd Annual TechCrunch Winter Party at Galvanize. It’s not just an opportunity to have a great time — although you will. It’s also the chance for promising early-stage startups to strut their stuff. We have a handful of demo tables available, but they won’t last long. Why not book a demo table today? You never know who might attend the party and facilitate your big break.

Here’s one legendary example. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington used to hold these parties in his back yard. And that’s where Box founders Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith met one of their first investors, DFJ. Demo your early-stage startup at our Winter Party, and you just might start your own legend.

What can you expect at our Winter fete? Great food, delicious

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Backing Culture Genesis, T.I. launches Tech Cypha, an investment syndicate for tech deals


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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With an inaugural investment into the Los Angeles-based entertainment startup Culture Genesis, Clifford Harris Jr., who’s better known as “T.I.”, has launched a new syndicated investment vehicle called Tech Cypha.

Launched by the music and cultural impresario with more hustle than hustle and his business partner Jason Geter, the new collaborative investment strategy focused on tech startups will allow high-net-worth individuals to participate in deals.

The strategy has evolved since Geter and Harris made their first investment 12 years ago into a company called Streetcred.com, a site that allowed fans to go online and share opinions about street culture. While that first deal didn’t work out, Geter and Harris both remained interested in the technology and startup scene and saw a new opportunity to leverage their networks and promote new businesses.

“We learned a

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US will reportedly seek criminal case against Huawei for stealing tech secrets


This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch


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According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, U.S. federal prosecutors are preparing a criminal indictment against Huawei for stealing trade secrets. The report, which cites sources with knowledge of the indictment, specifically mentions Huawei’s actions surrounding a T-Mobile smartphone testing tool known as “Tappy.” The report notes that the current investigation is far enough along that an indictment may come soon.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Tappy. In 2014, T-Mobile sued Huawei for allegedly gaining access to a company lab outside of Seattle and photographing and attempting to steal parts of the robotic smartphone testing device. In May 2017, T-Mobile won $4.8 million against Huawei, only a fraction of the $500 million the U.S. mobile carrier sought. The current federal criminal investigation reportedly arose from that civil suit.

The Chinese phone maker has faced increased scrutiny, escalating to open

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Flaws in Amadeus’ airline booking system made it easy to change passenger records


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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You might not know Amadeus by name, but hundreds of millions of travelers use it each year.

Whether you’re traveling for work or vacation, most consumers book their flights through one of a handful of bespoke reservation systems used across the commercial aviation industry. Amadeus is one of the largest reservation systems, serving customers of Air France, British Airways, Icelandair, and Qantas and more. And each reservation system has to be able to talk to each other through the global distribution system backchannel.

Without these interconnected systems, most governments have no idea who’s coming and going.

Even in this day and age of passwords for everything and facial recognition at the departure gate, all that sits between you and someone rebooking a flight is a passenger’s surname and the booking reference on your ticket, known as the passenger name record — or PNR.

But these outdated and archaic passenger

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Investors and entrepreneurs need to address the mental health crisis in startups


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Colin Kroll, was the co-founder of Vine and HQ Trivia, both consumer sensations that brought joy to millions; Anthony Bourdain, had been a chef, journalist and philosopher, who brought understanding and connectedness to millions of lives; while Robin Williams built a career as a brilliant comedian and actor.

What these three share in common is that they were all people at the pinnacle of their industry and they all died too soon. Their premature loss is a tragedy.

The most brilliant and creative amongst us are sometimes the most troubled and nowhere is that clearer than in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With each passing unnecessary death the importance of mental health comes briefly into focus…

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Grab raises fundraising target to $5B as Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing war heats up


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab is aiming to start the new year with a bang and an awful lot of bucks. The company, which acquired Uber’s local business earlier this year, is planning to raise as much as $5 billion from its ongoing Series H round, up from an original target of $3 billion, a source with knowledge of the plan told TechCrunch.

Grab declined to comment for this story.

That Series H round has been open since June. Already, it has seen participation from the likes of Toyota, Microsoft, Booking Holdings and Yamaha Motors, which have pushed it close to the original $3 billion target. Prior to raising $150 million from Yamaha, Grab said the round stood at $2.7 billion. While it is true that the company first announced that it was “on track to raise over $3 billion by the end of 2018,” it

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New e-commerce restrictions in India just ruined Christmas for Amazon and Walmart


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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The Indian government is playing the role of festive party pooper for Walmart and Amazon after it announced new regulations that look set to impede the U.S. duo’s efforts to grow their businesses in India.

Online commerce in the country is tipped to surpass $100 billion per year by 2022 up from $35 billion today as more Indians come online, according to a report co-authored by PwC. But 2019 could be a very different year after an update to the country’s policy for foreign direct investment (FDI) appeared to end the practice of discounts, exclusive sales and more.

The three main takeaways from the new policy, which will go live on February 1, are a ban on exclusive sales, the outlawing of retailers selling products on platforms they count as investors, and restrictions on discounts and cashback.

Those first two clauses are pretty clear and will have a significant impact on Amazon

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Tencent-backed homework app jumps to $3B valuation after raising $300M


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Academic exams are a big deal in China as they determine the kind of universities, high schools and elementary schools that students get into and to a degree, the future that awaits them.

Parents are thus willing to invest generously to help their children get ahead in school. One startup capitalizing on this need is Yuanfudao, a six-year-old startup that has attracted a line of big-name investors. The company announced this week that it has raised $300 million in a funding round led by existing investor Tencent, China’s largest social networking and gaming company.

Other participants from the round include Warburg Pincus, Matrix Partners China and IDG Capital . The fresh injection raised Yuanfudao’s valuation from around $1 billion at the time it pocketed $120 million in 2017 to exceed $3 billion.

China’s exam-oriented culture has given rise to a billion-dollar tutoring market. As affordable mobile internet becomes common, a lot

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Four ways to bridge the widening valley of death for startups


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Many founders believe in the myth that the first steps of starting a business are the hardest: Attracting the first investment, the first hires, proving the technology, launching the first product and landing the first customer. Although those critical first steps are difficult, they are certainly not the most difficult on the arduous path of building an iconic company. As early and late-stage funding becomes more abundant, founders and their early VC backers need to get smarter about how to position their companies for a looming valley of death in-between. As we’ll learn below, it’s only going to get much, much harder before it gets easier.

LetsTransport raises $13.5M to digitize and improve last mile logistics in India


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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India’s B2B supply chain is slowly shifting into the digital era. Following a $23 million investment for Moglix, which helps bring business and manufacturing procurement online, LetsTransport, a startup that brings increased efficiency to logistics and business transportation, has raised $13.5 million for growth.

Founded in 2015 by IIT Kharagpur graduates Pushkar Singh, Sudarshan Ravi and Ankit Parasher, Bangalore-based LetsTransport has surface level comparisons with Uber and other on-demand services since it pairs companies with trucks to carry out their last mile distribution.

But that is really a cosmetic comparison. LetsTransport offers a range of product modules to manage fleets, including intelligent routing. Then, on the business side, its unit economic are far superior to Uber and co since the business customers it caters are not cost-motivated and will happily pay for a consistent service with guarantees.

For the truck operations, the service is designed to increase their average utility and

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Food delivery startup Swiggy raises $1 billion more from Naspers, Tencent and others


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Naspers, the South African investment giant, is back at it again in India! Days after backing educational startup Byju’s by leading a $540 million investment, it has led a $1 billion investment in food delivery company Swiggy.

The new round sees Chinese internet and Naspers ally Tencent join the party, alongside fellow new investors Hillhouse Capital and Wellington Management Company. Existing backers returning to take part in this round include DST Global, Meituan Dianping and Coatue Management.

The deal is the largest investment in a food delivery company outside of China, and it means Swiggy is one of the few in the billion-dollar-round club. Others include Flipkart, which is now owned by Walmart, fintech startup Paytm, and OYO, which raised $1 billion from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Southeast Asia’s Grab and others in September.

Swiggy was founded in 2014 and it claims to work with 50,000 restaurants in more

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