The startup community must defend merit based immigration

The Trump Administration just moved to kill a key tool to support immigrant entrepreneurs, and the startup community must make our voice heard to save it. Supported by Republicans and Democrats, the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) operates like a startup visa and allows foreign-born founders to launch new businesses in the U.S., rather than overseas. IER is in place after the National Venture Capital Association (which I lead) successfully sued the Department of Homeland Security when it unlawfully delayed the program last year. But now, the administration is taking new steps to end the rule
Continue reading "The startup community must defend merit based immigration"

To become a public company, start operating like one early on

After their long post-financial-crisis slump, European tech IPOs are starting to rebound. Tech companies raised more money on European public markets between 2015-17 (€5.3 billion) than in the previous seven years combined. With venture capital having boomed in that time, that trend is set to continue: There is a generation of well-funded, fast-growing technology companies now eyeing the public markets as the platform for continued rapid growth. The pipeline is healthy. But what needs to be done to get ready for an IPO and, crucially, what comes next?

Money raised and market opportunity alone do not make for a public-company-in-waiting. You do not transform from a scrappy growth business into a tightly governed, transparent public company overnight. It has to be a gradual evolution, one which requires the right people, structures and mindset to be in place. Companies need to ask themselves not just if they want to pursue

Continue reading "To become a public company, start operating like one early on"

Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product

Seeking to tap into Africa’s informal savings groups the Nigerian investment startup Piggybank.ng closed $1.1M in seed funding and announced a new product — Smart Target, which offers a more secure and higher return option for Esusu or Ajo group savings clubs common across West Africa.

The financing was led with a $1 million commitment from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform contributing $50,000 each.

Founded in 2016, Piggybank.ng offers online savings plans — primarily to low and middle income Nigerians — for deposits of small amounts on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual

Continue reading "Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product"

Latin America’s Movile is quietly building a mobile empire

By 2020, Brazilian mobile giant, Movile, wants to improve the lives of more than one billion people through its apps. The company began its mission in 1998 selling gaming, news and SMS messaging services to mobile operators in Brazil. After receiving its first investment from South African-based global investor Naspers 10 years ago, Movile grew into one of the largest and most successful mobile companies in Latin America, with more than 150 million monthly active users of its apps and estimated revenues over $240 million.
Movile’s app, PlayKids, propelled the company to the global stage. A platform that offers educational products and content for children, PlayKids in 2014 reached more than 6 million downloads within a year of launching, and 5 million active users per month. From there, Movile turned its attention to an unprecedented strategy of mergers and acquisitions in Latin America. The company’s expansion strategy included
Continue reading "Latin America’s Movile is quietly building a mobile empire"

To truly protect citizens, lawmakers need to restructure their regulatory oversight of big tech

If members of the European Parliament thought they could bring Mark Zuckerberg to heel with his recent appearance, they underestimated the enormous gulf between 21st century companies and their last-century regulators. Zuckerberg himself reiterated that regulation is necessary, provided it is the “right regulation.” But anyone who thinks that our existing regulatory tools can reign in our digital behemoths is engaging in magical thinking. Getting to “right regulation” will require us to think very differently. The challenge goes far beyond Facebook and other social media: the use and abuse of data
Continue reading "To truly protect citizens, lawmakers need to restructure their regulatory oversight of big tech"

Desperate for jobs, Venezuelan immigrants turn to ride-hailing services across Latin America

One month ago, Yonathan Segovia, a Cabify driver originally from Venezuela, was allegedly attacked by a mob of taxi drivers on the streets of Quito in Ecuador. In the video that documents the aftermath of his alleged assault, a short-of-breath Segovia narrates to his cell phone what happened. Behind him stand a few traffic police and a contingent of semi-formally dressed taxi drivers donning sunglasses and gesticulating to the police. Segovia directs the camera to the broken windshield and claims that he and his vehicle were attacked by xenophobic taxi drivers yelling fuera Cabify (get out Cabify) and regresa a tu país venezolanos (go back to your country, Venezuelans). Though incidents of violence against drivers of ride-sharing apps are rare in Ecuador,
Continue reading "Desperate for jobs, Venezuelan immigrants turn to ride-hailing services across Latin America"

The well-funded startups driven to own the autonomous vehicle stack

At some point in the future, while riding along in a car, a kid may ask their parent about a distant time in the past when people used steering wheels and pedals to control an automobile. Of course, the full realization of the “auto” part of the word — in the form of fully autonomous automobiles — is a long way off, but there are nonetheless companies trying to build that future today. However, changing the face of transportation is a costly business, one that typically requires corporate backing or a lot of venture funding to realize such an ambitious goal. A recent funding round, some $128 million raised in a Series A round by Shenzhen-based Roadstar.ai, got us at Crunchbase News asking a question: Just how many independent, well-funded autonomous vehicles startups are out there? In short, not as many as you’d think. To investigate further, we
Continue reading "The well-funded startups driven to own the autonomous vehicle stack"

Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school

CEOs of funded startups tend to be a well-educated bunch, at least when it comes to university degrees. Yes, it’s true college dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates can still do well. But Crunchbase data shows that most startup chief executives have an advanced degree, commonly from a well-known and prestigious university. Earlier this month, Crunchbase News looked at U.S. universities with strong track records for graduating future CEOs of funded companies. This unearthed some findings that, while interesting, were not especially surprising. Stanford and Harvard topped the list, and graduates of top-ranked business schools were particularly well-represented. In this next installment of our CEO series, we narrowed the data set. Specifically, we looked at CEOs of U.S. companies funded in the past three years that have raised at least $100 million in total venture financing. Our intent was to see whether educational backgrounds of unicorn and
Continue reading "Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school"

What President Trump Doesn’t Know About ZTE

After meeting with Chinese Vice Premiere Liu He this week, President Trump is still considering easing penalties on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE over its violation of sanctions against Iran and North Korea. But what Mr. Trump may not realize is that ZTE is also one of the world’s most notorious intellectual property thieves — perhaps even the most notorious of all.

Since stopping Chinese theft of U.S intellectual property is one of the President’s most important trade objectives, Mr. Trump should refuse to ease sanctions against ZTE until it stops its high-tech banditry and starts playing by the rules in intellectual property (IP) matters.

To get a sense of just how egregious ZTE’s behavior

Continue reading "What President Trump Doesn’t Know About ZTE"

The AI in your non-autonomous car

Sorry. Your next car probably won’t be autonomous. But, it will still have artificial intelligence (AI). While most of the attention has been on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving, AI will penetrate far deeper into the car. These overlooked areas offer fertile ground for incumbents and startups alike. Where is the fertile ground for these features? And where is the opportunity for startups?

Inside the cabin

Inward-facing AI cameras can be used to prevent accidents before they occur. These are currently widely deployed in commercial vehicles and trucks to monitor drivers to detect inebriation, distraction, drowsiness and fatigue to alert the driver. ADAS, inward-facing cameras and coaching have shown to drastically decrease insurance costs for commercial vehicle fleets. The same technology is beginning to penetrate personal vehicles to monitor driver-related behavior for safety purposes. AI-powered cameras also can identify when children and pets are left in the
Continue reading "The AI in your non-autonomous car"

Navigating the risks of artificial intelligence and machine learning in low-income countries

On a recent work trip, I found myself in a swanky-but-still-hip office of a private tech firm. I was drinking a freshly frothed cappuccino, eyeing a mini-fridge stocked with local beer, and standing amidst a group of hoodie-clad software developers typing away diligently at their laptops against a backdrop of Star Wars and xkcd comic wallpaper.

I wasn’t in Silicon Valley: I was in Johannesburg, South Africa, meeting with a firm that is designing machine learning (ML) tools for a local project backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Around the world, tech startups are partnering with NGOs to bring machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to bear on problems that the international aid sector has wrestled with for decades. ML is uncovering new

Continue reading "Navigating the risks of artificial intelligence and machine learning in low-income countries"

How [and why] I invest in startups

A lot of people ask me how I choose to invest in startups. Stage? Revenue metrics? Sector? I’m not proactively funding at different stages. I’m proactively funding brilliant people trying to solve hard problems. Focusing on this simple goal of identifying and enabling amazing entrepreneurs to create a better tomorrow is the crux of my investment strategy.

My startup investment “formula”

A lot of venture funds try to optimize for returns. They run complex ratio economic models to determine what their diluted value will be at the end of the life cycle of the optimal and non-optimal case of every given company. I don’t do that. I just try to fund the best and brightest. I love working with the smartest and brightest people in the world on some of
Continue reading "How [and why] I invest in startups"

Gaming monitors, headsets and peripherals for a winning desktop setup

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch earn affiliate commissions. New and serious gamers know that it takes a significant amount of time sharpen skills, and to strategize ways to capture high scores. Staying ahead of player 2 is easier when you have the right gaming peripherals. A monitor with a crisp display, a responsive gaming mouse, a comfortable headset—or all of these items combined—are what you need to take your PC gaming experience to the next level. We can’t promise that new equipment will keep you at the top of the board, but the best gear with accommodating features is essential to a great setup, and to helping you try.
Continue reading "Gaming monitors, headsets and peripherals for a winning desktop setup"

The birth of the Universal Digital Profile

It is a well-known fact that Europeans are generally more concerned about privacy than some other countries. Indeed, we’ve had a history of major privacy breaches that had such catastrophic consequences that it is now part of our culture that personal data should be treated as highly sensitive — something the U.S. is now catching up to in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. The culmination of this is the new EU-wide privacy regulation, the GDPR, which will come into effect on May 25, 2018, and was a hot topic during the recent Zuckerberg testimony.

One key article is the right to personal data portability. In a nutshell, it states that users of a service can request their personal data to be transferred to another provider, without hindrance (read: in the format the other provider requests). This means that if you are no longer happy using

Continue reading "The birth of the Universal Digital Profile"

Are algorithms hacking our thoughts?

As Facebook shapes our access to information, Twitter dictates public opinion, and Tinder influences our dating decisions, the algorithms we’ve developed to help us navigate choice are now actively driving every aspect of our lives.

But as we increasingly rely on them for everything from how we seek out news to how we relate to the people around us, have we automated the way we

Continue reading "Are algorithms hacking our thoughts?"

A simple solution to end the encryption debate

Criminals and terrorists, like millions of others, rely on smartphone encryption to protect the information on their mobile devices. But unlike most of us, the data on their phones could endanger lives and pose a great threat to national security.

The challenge for law enforcement, and for us as a society, is how to reconcile the advantages of gaining access to the plans of dangerous individuals with the cost of opening a door to the lives of everyone else. It is the modern manifestation of the age-old conflict between privacy versus security, playing out in our pockets and palms.

One-size-fits all technological solutions, like a manufacturer-built universal backdoor tool for smartphones, likely create

Continue reading "A simple solution to end the encryption debate"

Shared housing startups are taking off

When young adults leave the parental nest, they often follow a predictable pattern. First, move in with roommates. Then graduate to a single or couple’s pad. After that comes the big purchase of a single-family home. A lawnmower might be next. Looking at the new home construction industry, one would have good reason to presume those norms were holding steady. About two-thirds of new homes being built in the U.S. this year are single-family dwellings, complete with tidy yards and plentiful parking. In startup-land, however, the presumptions about where housing demand is going looks a bit different. Home sharing is on the rise, along with more temporary lease options, high-touch service and smaller spaces in sought-after urban locations.

Seeking roommates and venture capital

Crunchbase News analysis of residential-focused real estate startups uncovered a raft of companies with a shared and temporary housing focus that have raised funding in
Continue reading "Shared housing startups are taking off"

For Apple, this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about education

Following Apple’s education event in Chicago in March, I wrote about what the company’s announcements might mean for accessibility. After sitting in the audience covering the event, the big takeaway I had was Apple could “make serious inroads in furthering special education as well.” As I wrote, despite how well-designed the Classroom and Schoolwork apps seemingly are, Apple should do more to tailor their new tools to better serve students and educators in special education settings. After all, accessibility and special education are inextricably tied. It turns out, Apple has, unsurprisingly, considered this. “In many ways, education and accessibility beautifully overlap,” Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Senior Director of Global
Continue reading "For Apple, this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about education"

Technology innovation on the second half of the chessboard

EarthNow recently announced a $1 billion investment, perhaps the largest-ever Series A financing round, to build a global constellation of satellites. Ant Financial announced plans to raise $9 billion at an expected $150 billion valuation, making it the most highly valued privately held company. Last year, SoftBank embarked on a $100 billion investment fund, 30 times larger than any prior venture fund. The venture industry is scrambling to respond. Several established funds, including Sequoia, Khosla, Norwest and Battery, have recently announced by far their largest funds raised to date. Valuations and round sizes have doubled on average in the past five years. The speed and magnitude with which technology innovation is moving is mind-boggling, even for those of us who have worked at the center of it for decades. Staid industries for which technology seemed irrelevant are transforming themselves or being disrupted by the Connected World, innovation made
Continue reading "Technology innovation on the second half of the chessboard"

Food delivery’s untapped opportunity

Investors may have already placed their orders in the consumer food delivery space, but there’s still a missing recipe for solving the over $250 billion business-to-business foodservice distribution problem that’s begging for venture firms to put more cooks in the kitchen.  Stock prices for Sysco and US Foods, the two largest food distributors, are up by over 20% since last summer when Amazon bought Whole Foods. But, these companies haven’t made any material changes to their business model to counteract the threat of Amazon. I know a thing or two about the food services industry and the need for a B2B marketplace in an industry ripe with all of our favorite buzz words: fragmentation, last mile logistics and a lack of pricing transparency.

The business-to-business food
Continue reading "Food delivery’s untapped opportunity"