Ultimate Software is acquiring PeopleDoc for $300 million

Public company Ultimate Software is acquiring French startup PeopleDoc for $300 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. These two companies both make HR solutions. Ultimate Software has been around for a while. It went public in 1998 and switched to a software-as-a-service solution in 2002 — this solution is called UltiPro. It lets you manage all things HR, from payroll to benefits, time management, onboarding, performance management and more. PeopleDoc is a younger French startup that has raised over $50 million. As the name suggests, PeopleDoc lets you centralized all HR documents related to you in a single location. They can come from multiple sources and systems, they’ll all be there. The startup has also worked on an onboarding solution and other tools to automate HR processes as much as possible. For instance, you can use PeopleDoc to communicate
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It’s official: Brexit campaign broke the law — with social media’s help

The UK’s Electoral Commission has published the results of a near nine-month-long investigation into Brexit referendum spending and has found that the official Vote Leave campaign broke the law by breaching election campaign spending limits. Vote Leave broke the law including by channeling money to a Canadian data firm, AggregateIQ, to use for targeting political advertising on Facebook’s platform, via undeclared joint working with another Brexit campaign, BeLeave, it found. Aggregate IQ remains the subject of a separate joint investigation by privacy watchdogs in Canada and British Columbia. The Electoral Commission’s investigation found evidence that BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with AggregateIQ under a common arrangement with Vote Leave. Yet the two campaigns had failed to disclose on their referendum spending returns that they had a common plan. As the designated lead leave campaign, Vote Leave had a £7M spending limit under UK law. But via its joint spending with BeLeave
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Mention Me, the referral marketing platform, raises $7M led by Eight Roads Ventures

Mention Me, the London-headquartered referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in further funding. The round is led by Eight Roads Ventures and is the first time the five and a half year old company has raised venture capital, having only ever done a small angel round in 2015. That’s noteworthy given the company’s two founders: Andy Cockburn and Tim Boughton, who met at Homeaway where they were U.K. MD and European CTO respectively before its $3 billion IPO on the Nasdaq. Counting over 300 customers — including FarFetch, Ovo Energy, Ted Baker and ZipCar — Mention Me offers a marketing platform to make it easy and effective for companies to conduct referral marketing. The platform supports referral programs in 16 languages, but its biggest draw is the ability to A/B test, iterate and measure campaigns so that they work best for the cohort they target. Another feature that
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Klang gets $8.95M for an MMO sim sitting atop Improbable’s dev platform

Berlin-based games studio Klang, which is building a massive multiplayer online simulation called Seed utilizing Improbable’s virtual world builder platform, has just bagged $8.95M in Series A funding to support development of the forthcoming title. The funding is led by veteran European VC firm Northzone. It follows a seed raise for Seed, finalized in March 2018, and led by Makers Fund, with participation by firstminute capital, Neoteny, Mosaic Ventures, and Novator — bringing the total funding raised for the project to $13.95M. The studio was founded in 2013, and originally based in Reykjavík, Iceland, before relocating to Berlin. Klang’s original backers include Greylock Partners, Joi Ito, and David Helgason, as well as original investors London Venture Partners. The latest tranche of funding will be used to expand its dev team and for continued production on Seed which is in pre-alpha at this stage — with no release date announced yet. Nor
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Undo gets $14M to scale to meet the software accountability challenge

Undo, a long time player in the debugging tools space, offering its program execution capture and replay technology to help others diagnose software failures, has closed a $14 million Series B round led by Cambridge Innovation Capital, the Cambridge, UK-based builder of tech and healthcare companies. The 2005 founded startup — initially bootstrapped (out of founder Greg Law’s garden shed) — has come a long way, and now has more than 30 paying customers for what it describes as its “record, rewind and replay” debugging technology, including the likes of SAP HANA, Mentor Graphics, Cadence and Micro Focus. A quick potted history: In 2012, Law quit his job to go full time on Undo, raising a small amount of angel funding and then a $1.25M from seed investment in 2014, followed by $3.3M in a series A funding in 2016. New investors in the Series B round
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Proportunity offers ‘help to buy’ loans based on predicting future house prices

Proportunity, a London-based startup and Entrepreneur First alumni, wants to help first time buyers get on the property ladder earlier or purchase a home more to their liking. The company, which recently became an FCA authorised mortgage lender, claims to use machine learning to accurately forecast future house prices and the areas of London that will see the highest growth in the next few years. Based on confidence in this modelling, it will soon begin offering equity loans to boost your deposit when buying a first home. Specifically, once Proportunity has used its technology to help identify a property for sale that both fits your needs and offers good house price growth prospects, the startup will offer an equity loan of up to 15 percent of the property’s price. You then combine this loan with the money you have already saved for a deposit so that you can apply
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Criteo creates an AI lab in Paris

Adtech company Criteo is investing $23 million (€20 million) in a new artificial intelligence lab in Paris. Over the next three years, the company plans to hire researchers to work on AI-related projects. Many of their projects will lead to public presentations, open-source releases and research papers. VP of Research Suju Rajan is going to lead the lab. Many tech companies have created AI labs in Paris, including Facebook, Google, IBM and Samsung. All those companies want to hire the best AI researchers. That’s why they open multiple AI research centers around the world to attract local talent in multiple countries Criteo has been a flagship company in the French tech scene. The company specialized in ad retargeting and filed for an IPO around five years ago. But retargeting isn’t really popular right now. Some internet browsers, such as Firefox and Safari, have started offering tracking protection and enabling it
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The excitement is building for #TheEuropas, next week in London

Startups are strange beasts. Founders and investors are obviously so super-focused on building their companies that sometimes they forget to delve into the big issues behind tech and startups. Plus, do they ever know what’s going on outside their laser-focused view? Sometimes it’s good to take stock. That’s why we’ve built The Europas Awards & Unconference (July 3) in association with TechCrunch, to give you a heads-up on the big issues, time to network, and time to celebrate with peers and friends, on a great day in London. So what is The Europas? • Key Founders and investors speaking
• No secret VIP rooms, maximum Speaker interaction
• Ultra-high quality crowd, largely invited
• Convivial, relaxed atmosphere conducive to networking
• Intimate “breakout” sessions with key players
• Journalists from major tech titles
• Percentage of profits will be donated to charity
• A stunning awards dinner and party which
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Yet another massive Facebook fail: Quiz app leaked data on ~120M users for years

Facebook knows the historical app audit it’s conducting in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal is going to result in a tsunami of skeletons tumbling out of its closet. It’s already suspended around 200 apps as a result of the audit — which remains ongoing, with no formal timeline announced for when the process (and any associated investigations that flow from it) will be concluded. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the audit on March 21, writing then that the company would “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity”. But you do have to question how much the audit exercise is, first and foremost, intended to function as PR damage limitation for Facebook’s brand — given the company’s relaxed
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ProtonMail suffers DDoS attack that takes its email service down for minutes

It’s been an unexpectedly slack day for digital comms services. It’s not just workplace IM tool Slack suffering outages but end-to-end encrypted email service ProtonMail too. In the latter case, the company has blamed several hours’ worth of sporadic outages on a major DDoS attack.

In a statement on Reddit the company says the attack is “unlike the more ‘generic’ DDoS attacks that we deal with on a daily basis” — which in turn meant its upstream DDoS protection service (Radware) needed more time than usual to mitigate the attack. The longest outage has been “on the order of 10 minutes”, according to ProtonMail. Back in 2015 the then fledgling startup 

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Taster creates restaurants for Deliveroo and UberEats

French startup Taster, formerly known as Mission Food, is building restaurants around big cities specifically for Deliveroo, UberEats and Glovo. These restaurants don’t have any table, they’re all about serving food on online platforms. The startup just raised a $4 million funding round led by Sunstone Capital, with Global Founders Capital, Thierry Gillier and LocalGlobe also participating. Kima Ventures and Marc Menasé participated in the previous round. If you look at food startups, it all started with Just Eat, GrubHub and Seamless listing restaurants with delivery fleets. This way, instead of keeping a pile of flyers with phone numbers, you can find all the pizza and sushi places on one single site. But Deliveroo, UberEats, Glovo and Postmates introduced a new chunk of restaurants to deliveries. For the first time, regular restaurants could start accepting online orders. Startups could take care of the orders and deliveries. And some
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AI-fueled market intelligence firm Signal Media takes $16M to tackle more targets

Signal Media has closed a $16 million Series B funding round for an AI-fueled approach to media monitoring and b2b market intelligence. The UK startup uses machine learning techniques to filter through external information at scale — generating real-time insights for its customers, including for reputation management and decision support purposes. Its system analyzes more than 2.8M global online, print, television, radio and regulatory sources, translated in real time in over 100 languages from 200 markets — serving up a customized overview of public conversations, market movements and issues pertinent to the client.

The Series B funding round was led by GMG Ventures, an independent VC fund whose limited partner is The Scott Trust, owner of The Guardian news organisation; although MMC Ventures was the largest investor. The round also included a debt facility from Kreos Capital. Other investors include Frontline, Hearst Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures and LocalGlobe.


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IQ Capital is raising £125M to invest in deep tech startups in the UK

The rapid pace of technology innovation and applications in recent decades — you could argue that just about every kind of business is a “tech” business these days — has spawned a sea of tech startups and larger businesses that are focused on serving that market, and equally demanding consumers, on a daily basis. Today, a venture capital firm in the UK is announcing a fund aimed at helping to grow the technologies that will underpin a lot of those daily applications.

Cambridge-based IQ Capital is raising £125 million ($165 million) that it will use specifically to back UK startups that are building “deep tech” — the layer of research and development, and potentially commercialised technology, that is considered foundational to how a lot of technology will work in the years and decades to come. So far, some £92 million has been secured, and partner Kerry Baldwin said that the

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FirstVet swipes $6M to expand its pet advice telehealth service

Pet services can be serious startup business. Witness the likes of dog walking startups Rover and Wag, for example. At the same time digital health is a major area of interest for entrepreneurs, thanks to reliable demand meeting tech’s disruptive potential. Well, Sweden’s FirstVet is dabbling in both — offering remote video consultations and advice for pet owners wondering if they should worry about their furry friend’s latest bout of coughing/sneezing/vomiting, or whether that chocolate bar the dog snarfed when you weren’t looking is a cause for real concern. As the name suggests, the niche FirstVet is looking to carve out is a pretty specific one — focused on first layer pet owner concerns which essential boil down to asking a qualified professional whether you really need to take Fido to the vet or not. So it’s main competitor is probably Google search. “We are a supplement to physical
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Highland Europe closes new €463M fund to invest in growth-stage tech

Highland Europe, the European “growth-stage” technology investor, has closed a new €463 million fund, the firm’s third fund in just six years. Targeting “globally ambitious” European software and internet-enabled businesses, the VC typically writes initial cheques of between €10 million and €30 million. It says that startups seeking investment need to demonstrate that they have reached sufficient scale “to confirm the validity of their business model.” That may seem quite conservative by some venture standards. However, it’s an investment criteria that Highland Europe says is working, with all of its main LPs bullish enough to return for a third bite of the apple. “Significantly oversubscribed, the fund was raised in just 12 weeks and takes the firm’s assets under management to €1.1 billion,” says the VC. On that note, Highland Europe counts 29 active companies in its portfolio, with combined revenues of €1.1 billion in
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Questions remain after the CEO of fintech VC Anthemis resigns

Anthemis Group, the fintech VC fund based in London, has lost its long-time CEO after Nadeem Shaikh handed in his resignation earlier this week. The Financial Times broke the story yesterday, quoting Shaikh citing a “shift in the company’s strategy.” However, TechCrunch understands from sources that Shaikh’s decision to leave Anthemis came after a formal complaint by another staff member at the firm and following a subsequent internal investigation. According to people with knowledge of events, an “all-hands” meeting was held at Anthemis’ offices in London on Monday, where the Anthemis team was informed of Shaikh’s resignation, although few details were given as to the reasons why. The VC firm’s co-founder and chairman Sean Park is said to have dialed in to inform staff of the news, including reading out a statement attributed to Shaikh. As conveyed by Park, Shaikh is said to have decided to resign from
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Airbnb partners with Century 21 to let Parisians sublet their homes

Airbnb needs to find new places to list in Paris to keep up with growth. That’s why the company announced a partnership with real estate company Century 21 in France, according to Les Echos and various French media. Airbnb is in an awkward position in France. It is the company’s most important market, but the Mayor’s Office has also been cracking down on illegal listings. Airbnb now needs to make sure that there’s enough supply for its userbase. Since December 2017, you have to register your apartment with the city if you want to list it on an online renting platform, such as Airbnb. This way, Paris can keep track of apartments and see if they comply with the current law. In Paris, you can’t rent an apartment for more than 120 days a year. As a renter, you also can’t sublet your apartment on Airbnb unless the landlord is
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TourRadar, the OTA for tour holidays, scores $50M Series C led by Silicon Valley’s TCV

TourRadar, the online travel agency (OTA) that targets the multi-day touring market, continues to be on a roll. The Vienna, Austria-headquartered company, which also has offices in Brisbane and Toronto, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. Consisting mostly of primary funding, the round is led by the Silicon Valley growth VC firm TCV, with participation from existing investors Cherry Ventures, Endeit Capital, Hoxton Ventures, and Speedinvest. Notably, TCV previously backed Expedia and Airbnb and so has a very decent track record in travel. Erik Blachford, a venture partner at TCV and already an angel investor in TourRadar, has joined the company’s supervisory board. Blachford was previously President and CEO of IAC Travel, managing all of IAC’s travel assets including Expedia and Hotels.com. Again, a very good fit for TourRadar as it looks to scale up going forward. In a call, TourRadar co-founder and CEO Travis
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Marketplace giants sign EU pledge to remove dangerous goods faster

Ecommerce giants Alibaba, Amazon, eBay and Rakuten have agreed to speed up the removal of dangerous goods being sold on their online marketplaces within the European Union. The EU’s executive body, the Commission, said the four companies have committed to responding to notifications on dangerous products from Member State authorities within 2 working days, and to take action on notices from customers within 5 working days. Although the pledge is not legally binding. But the Commission is clearly hoping that companies can be persuaded to self-regulate in the first instance, given the ever-present possibility of laws being drafted to more tightly legally rule their activities. In a statement welcoming the move, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, Vĕra Jourová, called on other other marketplace to join the initiative, saying: “More and more people in the EU are shopping online. E-commerce has opened up new possibilities for consumers, offering them more choice
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