Destiny fans want better matchmaking, so they’re making it themselves

The FTW app promises to connect like-minded online gamers looking for a group.

Beerock Studios’ founder Brock Busby and resident adviser Mark Norris can easily recall some of their worst online matchmaking experiences.

For Norris, it was a recent Call of Duty match. “The guy who won … his emblem was all White Supremacist stuff,” Norris told GamesBeat in a recent interview. “And so it was a horrible experience at the end of the game.”

The desire to avoid those kinds of situations led Busby to create a community site for Bungie’s popular online shooter Destiny called “LFG” is an acronym often used in MMORPGs that stands for “looking for group.” If the game lacks matchmaking tools, typing “LFG” into chat is often the only way to connect with players looking to do the same activity, but the resulting group’s quality is often sketchy at best.

Busby recalled an incident from his days playing Blizzard Entertainment’s massively multiplayer

FTW will support games like Destiny and The Division at launch.
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Mobile user acquisition fraud: Rovio and others share how to fight it (webinar)


How do you combat user acquisition scams that are increasingly slick and nearly undetectable? Find out from the front line how pros are successfully combating mobile fraud.

Access the webinar on demand right here.

You’re spending up to $25 per high-quality user — but how many of them are real? User acquisition fraud has doubled since 2015. Unreliable install and conversion rates threaten your rank in the Google and Apple stores and squander a significant chunk of your already tight marketing budget.

Is there any hope for mobile app developers? To find out, VentureBeat gathered pros from the front line who have diagnosed, identified, and successfully combated fraud: Eric Seufert, VP of user acquisition at Rovio Entertainment — the company that blew up the mobile gaming industry with Angry Birds; Yevgeny Peres, VP of Growth at Supersonic by ironSource; and Paul H. Müller, CTO at adjust.

It’s an

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YapJobs raises $1.4 million to match job seekers with hospitality roles

YapJobs screen shot

YapJobs, an app which seeks to match jobseekers and employers in the hospitality sector in real-time, has raised £1 million (about $1.4 million) in funding.

Investors in the round included Ziad Tassabehji, who invested in an angel capacity, and various other private investors.

Shahzad Ali, CEO of YapJobs, spoke about the raise: “I grew up in the heat of a restaurant and know that the people employed are the lifeblood of the service industry, but I also know how the wrong environment can make it a very difficult place to work which has an impact on staff retention.

“That’s why I launched YapJobs, to help the best people find work quickly in the places that they really want to work. We want to use technology to help drive a real change in the industry, ensuring that people are also matched to company culture which will help promote a better working

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3 key ways to improve your subscriber value (webinar)


Guaranteed residual revenue through subscription models is hugely attractive and highly scalable — but missteps could lead to costly attrition and churn. Join Netflix Head of Payments Luis Vargas to learn how payment models factor into success and how to turn subscribers into the profitable customers you hanker for.

Register here for free.

Back in the day, a subscription service meant a membership to the gym, not a way to binge on online videos during the weekend. Those days are long gone. Subscription models popularized by Netflix and the like have changed the way consumers buy and consume content and products. The affordability, accessibility, and variety associated with subscription services have led to big profits and happy customers. Just look at 75 million subscribers Netflix has under its belt. Or, the 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million active users on Spotify. Or services like the beauty box subscription company Birchbox and grocery

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Calling all entrepreneurs: France wants your help to build a strong economic future…and its wallet is open


This sponsored post is produced in association with BPIFrance.

Investing in companies these days can be pretty easy. You do some research into firms with a good potential for revenue and profit — maybe get a hot tip from a friend or relative — then find a broker and give them a few bucks to stake your investment. From there, you can just sit back and hope for a good return.

France has decided it wants to invest some major money into its future, but it’s taking a much more pro-active approach with its investment method. So, it’s created its own version of a startup jam to seek out and incubate entrepreneurial thinking, then turn those projects into actual companies that are doing business in the country.

In 2013, France President François Hollande called for the creation of the Innovation 2030 Committee, with plans “to confront the major challenges

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Deal meetings don’t come with subtitles, but what if they did?

pitch meeting

Raising your first round of funding can be a daunting endeavor. While you’re delivering your business plan, wouldn’t it be great to able to read the minds of angel investors and VCs? Well, that may not be possible, but I can give you a few ideas of what most investors will be pondering while listening to your pitch:

1. This entrepreneur knows the technology and market but hasn’t led a growth company before. Will a new CEO be necessary to grow this company to its fullest potential? And if that turns out to be the case, how will this entrepreneur react?

From the beginning, investors are thinking about life-after-entrepreneur. Early stage investors don’t put money in until they’ve thought through a path to get their equity back out. Usually that means scaling up operations and revenue until the company has enough customers and market share to be an interesting

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The big stay big: 35 unicorns raised $12.6 billion in Q1 2016


In the first quarter of 2016, 35 unicorns raised a total of $12.6 billion from 36 funding events. While this is roughly the same amount that was raised in the first quarter of 2015, there were 58 investments in the previous period. This means that this year’s fundings were marked by larger deal sizes.

Looking at the evolution of company valuations, we saw a surprising 11 up-rounds, 4 unchanged valuations and only 4 down-rounds. The combined value progression is a staggeringly positive $26 billion, suggesting very good health – for the moment, anyway – for companies in the Unicorn Club.

Unicorn Valauation Q1 2016

11 new unicorns in the first quarter of 2016

The Unicorn Club keeps greeting new entrants, but at a slower pace. The first quarter of 2015 saw the emergence of 23 unicorns, and the second quarter witnessed the birth of 25 unicorns. Growth slowed in the back of half of 2015: 15 in the third quarter and 13 in the

New Unicorns Q1 2016
Quarterly Unicorn Investment 2015-2016
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Tesla Model 3 preorder frenzy should have Chevy Bolt EV green with envy

Chevy Bolt EV

More than 325,000 potential buyers have put down $1,000 apiece for a Tesla Model 3 electric car that they won’t get for two years, if not considerably longer than that.

Which must frustrate the electrification team at General Motors deeply.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV with more than 200 miles of range and a starting price of $37,500 is already in pre-production, and could go on sale late this year—fully a year before Tesla’s announced delivery date for the Model 3.

Two recent articles from Detroit news outlets convey different reactions to this disparity.

“If you are an executive at a venerable automaker whose company is working on the same technology,” writes reporter Richard Truett in industry trade journal Automotive News, “seeing crowds waiting in line to lay down a deposit for a Model 3 had to have been tough to watch.”

The piece goes on to

Buyers waiting to reserve Model 3 electric car, Tesla Store, Santa Barbara, CA [photo: David Noland]
Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
President Barack Obama looks at 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car at Detroit Auto Show, Jan 2016
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
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Smarter funding: How to get the backing that best fits your startup


When going from $0-10 million in sales, most tech entrepreneurs think there’s only one path to raise growth capital for their startups: selling equity in their business. It’s a model that has been reinforced by several decades of tech companies feeding on a steady diet of equity money. This equity model creates a cycle for entrepreneurs: found, build, raise, grow, raise, grow, and then exit, hopefully at a top valuation (and without too much dilution or a down round, since that would wipe out your founder holdings).

Then after you exit, if you’re really successful, you either spend lots of time on your sailboat, dabble as an angel investor and startup guru, or you repeat the process by starting another company and going at it all over again.

But things have changed over the past decade, and entrepreneurs should adjust their mental framework about startup financing accordingly. Here are

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What downturn? 11 companies became unicorns in Q1

At the end of the rainbow, you'll find a unicorn made of solid gold.

With no IPOs taking place in the first quarter of 2016, much attention is now focused on unicorns. Will they be able to maintain their billion dollar valuations, or will they would be picked off one at a time, succumbing to valuation markdowns and volatile public markets?

Even with a healthy resetting of many tech company valuations underway, eleven firms attained unicorn status in Q1 and a combined worth of more than $21 billion, according to VB Profiles. The incoming unicorns are diverse, ranging from Anaplan,an enterprise business platform which may be eyeing an IPO, to Dada, a Chinese mobile application company that focuses on providing last mile logistics services, to Africa’s first unicorn, the Africa Internet Group, which runs Jumia, the continent’s largest ecommerce company.

Of note is the companies’ Funding To Valuation index, which is calculated by dividing their worth by the amount of funding prior to their unicorn valuation. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative

Funding to Valuation INdex Q 1 2016
New Unicorns Q1 2016
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The 10 biggest European tech stories this week

Europe Funding

Happy Friday! This week, tracked 11 technology M&A transactions and 76 funding deals (totalling €400 million) in Europe and Israel.

Like every week, we listed every single one of them in our free weekly newsletter, along with interesting news regarding fledgling European startups, tech investors old and new, a number of good reads published elsewhere, government and policy news, as well as an overview of interesting lists, facts and figures from a wide variety of sources.

You can subscribe to our newsletter below to receive all this information in your inbox every Friday afternoon for free, but here’s an overview of the 10 biggest European tech news items for this week:

1) Intercom, the Irish-founded customer communications platform, raised $50 million from Index Ventures. Also this week we published an interview with Intercom’s co-founder Des Traynor, where he talks about the company’s forthcoming tour of events as

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Edge Retreats gets $1 million to simplify booking of luxury villas

Image credit:

Edge Retreats, a London-based tech startup specialising in luxury villas, has closed a $1m seed funding round led by VC fund Lean Investments.

The round, which also drew support from the startup’s current investor Forward Partners, brings Edge Retreats’ total amount of funding raised to $1.4m.

Speaking about the round’s closure, McCormick said: “After getting great support from Forward Partners over the past year, we’re excited to be partnering with Lean Investments to accelerate the growth of our company. This investment will allow us to continue to build a world-class product while increasing the number of properties and countries that we feature.

“We’re pleased to be simplifying the process of finding and booking luxury villas around the world while offering a exceptional concierge service. The story so far has been incredible, and I hope this next stage in our story will be even more exciting,” continued the CEO.


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DeepstreamHub raises $1 million for real time app development platform


Berlin-based deepstreamHub, a platform for building real time apps, has closed a $1 million seed round from Blue Yard Capital to further develop its cloud platform for app developers.

This marks the first investment for Berlin’s Blue Yard Capital, a new VC fund launched in January that raised $120 million to invest in early stage startups.

Wolfram Hempel and Yasser Fadl, the founders of deepstreamHub which was launched a year, said the startup wants to be the platform of choice for developing real time apps in areas like social messaging, geolocation services, or the Internet of Things. Its real time backend as a service, based on the open source server, allows developers to integrate data with sites and services like Slack, GitHub, payment providers or IoT endpoints.

“This is not just about creating another real time data service, it’s about using the power of real time

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Email personalization: Don’t even think about improving conversion without it (webinar)


With a 3800% ROI, email is your strongest channel — but you’ve got plenty of competition. Join top marketers as they discuss the personalization strategies that can dramatically increases open rates, CTR, and, mosts importantly, conversion.

Register here for free.

With a broad range of clients from Ford and Google to Heifer International and NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Blue State Digital has unlocked some of the secrets of digital marketing.

“We’ve isolated the common thread that unites people when they care about anything, whether it’s a car brand or a legislative issue,” says Andrew Rothman, head of creative and digital.

A large portion of their ability to build brand loyalty and boost consumer engagement comes from the email marketing strategies they’ve been honing from the start. When it comes to developing an email campaign, Rothman advises, conversion must always be your key goal. In other words, throw

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Pinterest launches Promoted Pins internationally, starting with the U.K.

Pinterest: Promoted Pins

Visual bookmarking tool Pinterest is ramping up its ad business this week with the news that it’s finally expanding its Promoted Pins product internationally.

First announced back in early 2014, Promoted Pins does exactly what its name suggests by letting businesses pay to have their Pins (products) placed front-and-center in people’s feed — it can be targeted at specific demographics too depending on the desired audience.

While it has only been offered to U.S. businesses so far, the San Francisco-based company is now opening things up to other markets, starting with the U.K. Pinterest said that Promoted Pins will be opened to additional English-speaking countries later this year.

Founded in 2009, Pinterest has emerged as a major player in the social networking realm, nabbing more than $1 billion in funding on its way to claiming 100 million users. Pinterest followed a similar path to monetizing as other social

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IoT startup Kamarq raises $3.2M to manufacture ‘smart’ tables that play music

Kamarq feature image

Kamarq Holdings is a startup to offer the high quality and connected furniture brand Kamarq. The company recently announced on Thursday that it has secured a total of about 350 million yen (about $3.2 million) from Energy & Environment Investment, Saison Ventures, iSGS Investment Works as well as angel investors. Saison Ventures is the investment arm of Japanese leading credit card company Credit Saison (TSE:8253). The funds will be used for product development, systems development or human resources.

Coinciding with this funding, the firm also announced the launch of its first product called Sound Table, and started accepting pre-orders on the Makuake crowdfunding site. The backers can receive the product before the day of general release, and can purchase it at 80% of the normal price. Sound Table is a wooden IoT (Internet of Things) table capable of playing music or environmental sounds in accordance with the weather,

Kamarq dining table
Kamarq low table
Kamarq bedside table
Kamarq power source and USB sockets on table
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Why did tech companies take a week to get behind Apple in the FBI standoff?

FBI building

In the midst of the Apple-FBI dispute over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, countless tech companies took the rare step of publicizing views in “friends of the court” briefs, statements, and interviews. The sheer number, nearly 40, filing amicus briefs — Facebook, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, as well as my own company, AVG — is telling. Though we’ve read much about the positions and the parade of horribles that could happen, this dispute provides rare insight into what compels Silicon Valley to act and why it appears to respond slowly.

Public safety, free speech, and the ability to create secure products would all seem to justify immediate action. Instead, most tech companies remained silent for several days after the facts of the case became public. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s arguments stood alone. Allies eventually emerged … a week later. Mass objection arose only with the court deadline arriving. What

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Mobile app analytics: How Grindr monetizes 6 million active users (webinar)


What does it take to monetize over 2 million daily active users in 196 countries? Join Grindr CTO Lukas Sliwka and VB analyst Jon Cifuentes in a free webinar to get an inside scoop on how mobile app analytics solutions help you powerfully leverage critical user data.

Register here for free.

Grindr, the first and largest gay dating site in the world, has 5 to 6 million monthly active users and 2.4 million daily active users. At any given time, there are over a million users active on the platform, says Lukas Sliwka, the company’s CTO.

Those users are a rich and crucial source of data as Grindr continues to grow its popularity with current clients and expand its reach globally. “From a business perspective,” Sliwka says, “It’s critical for us to know what features are working — and why — and how the app is being used in

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Machine Zone CEO was on employment benefits before founding the company behind Game of War


There’s a mythology to successful startup leaders, and part of it is that they can’t fail. We lionize successful entrepreneurs, and elevate those with multiple major successes to the status of minor deity: an Elon Musk, a Steve Jobs.

Kate Upton in Game of War: Fire Age commercial.

Above: Kate Upton in Game of War: Fire Age commercial.

Image Credit: Machine Zone

But before the rise, there’s reality. For Gabe Leydon, that was unemployment.

“I didn’t come from money,” he told me yesterday at VentureBeat’s Mobile Summit. “I started Machine Zone while I was on unemployment benefits.”

Machine Zone is, of course, one of the shining stars of the new mobile economy. The company perennially has two of the top five grossing games in the world: Game of War and Mobile Strike. Game of War alone could be grossing in excess of $1 billion annually, and VB founder Matt Marshall estimated the company’s annual advertising spend not too

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the new ad for Mobile Strike from Machine Zone.
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Startups on the cusp of success get major push at ECS


This sponsored post is produced in association with Nvidia.

In startup land, financing is getting harder. Valuation inflation is dissipating, and investors are demanding profitability, and fast. The pool of resources required to build a successful tech company is also larger than ever as the technology industry matures and the demand for vertical integration booms.

“Even if you have great technology and people, even if you’re in a big market space, sometimes you still don’t make it,” says Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia. “Getting your voice heard, getting funded, getting the attention of and partnering with companies like Nvidia is not always easy.”

Nvidia decided to tackle that challenge in their arena by adding the Emerging Companies Summit, which features the Early Stage Challenge, to their annual GPU Technology Conference.

For new startups, conferences are an essential investment, offering opportunities to network, gain insight from peers,

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