The Family raises $17.4 million to support European startups

The Family has always been an ambitious startup accelerator. But it has always felt like the company never had enough money to grow as quickly as it wanted. The Family is raising a new $17.4 million funding round (€15 million). Private banking and asset management group LGT Capital Partners is leading the round, with HummingBird Venture, Project A, eVentures and others also participating. “It’s the first time an investor understands The Family’s business model. It’s the first time an investor isn’t trying to turn us into a VC fund,” The Family co-founder Oussama Ammar told me. According to him, The Family is basically going to do more of the same. Except that this funding round “makes [The Family] virtually immortal.” The Family had to double-check its bank account many, many times to make sure that there was enough money to pay all its employees. This funding
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Paysend announces global account to compete with Revolut

Meet Paysend’s global account, a new way to hold, spend and send money in multiple currencies using a mobile app and a card. It looks a lot like Revolut’s basic features. But the company is trying to provide a more focused and robust experience from day one. “We are quite different from both a technical infrastructure and consumer offering viewpoint. We own and control our own processing and this gives tremendous ability and flexibility to deliver a wide variety of services whilst controlling the entire consumer journey,” Head of Product Alex Murashko told me. “But for me an important distinction is that we have a different approach to designing the product. We believe in simplifying the consumer experience so that instead of feeling like they are bombarded with a long list of features they have available a focused group of benefits.” And it’s true that Revolut has launched
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Global M&A activity is flat so far in 2018

U.S. tech companies continue to be the most active acquirers in the world, says a new report from Crunchbase and Mind the Bridge The pair crunched data on 22,000 startup exits since 2010, recording about 4,200 so far this year. U.S. companies, though less active this year than last, have acquired approximately 2x more startups than their European counterparts. Overall, 2018 is a flat year for M&A activity, despite a record-setting 2017.  Here are a few key takeaways from the report, which you can read in full here.
  • There was a slight decrease in activity in the U.S., but Europe has really pulled back. European companies have completed 11 percent fewer M&A deals YoY. 
  • U.S. and European companies continue to make up the bulk of M&A deals. More than three-quarters of the transactions and the money spent involved startups from North America and Europe.
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Middle East investors at our Startup Battlefield, Beirut, October 3rd – Grab your tickets now

TechCrunch will soon hold it’s first ever Startup Battlefield MENA competition dedicated to the MENA region, in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 3rd. The event will showcase the launch of 15 of the hottest startups in MENA on stage for the first time. We’ll also be joined by some of the leading investments firms in MENA. If you want to be in the same room, you’d better grab your tickets now. Here, we showcase just some of the investors sending key partners to the event:

Outlierz Ventures

Outlierz Ventures, is a seed investment fund, based out of Morocco, providing smart capital to African tech enabled startups. Founded in 2017, the fund invests in tech enabled companies solving a real problem in a key sector with an innovative approach and a scalable business model (fintech, insurtech, agritech, healthtech, B2B marketplaces, logistics, etc). The firm sees “tremendous opportunities at the intersection of tech,
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Google back in court arguing against a global ‘right to be forgotten’

Google’s lawyers are in Europe’s top court today arguing against applying the region’s so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling globally domains, rather only geo-limiting delistings to European sub-domains (as it does now). The original rtbf ruling was also a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision. Back in 2014 the court ruled search engines must respect Europeans’ privacy rights, and — on request — remove erroneous, irrelevant and/or outdated information about a private citizen. Google was not at all happy with the judgement, and kicked off a major lobbying effort against it — enlisting help from free speech champions like Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales. But it also complied with the ruling, after a fashion (after all, it is EU law) — applying delistings on local domains but not across Which means there’s a trivial workaround for circumventing EU law. That has displeased European data protection agencies — who say Google
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Alibaba goes big on Russia with joint venture focused on gaming, shopping and more

Alibaba is doubling down on Russia after the Chinese e-commerce giant launched a joint venture with one of the country’s leading internet companies. Russia is said to have over 70 million internet users, around half of its population, with countless more attracted from Russian-speaking neighboring countries. The numbers are projected to rise as, like in many parts of the world, the growth of smartphones brings more people online. Now Alibaba is moving in to ensure it is well placed to take advantage., the Russia firm that offers a range of internet services including social media, email and food delivery to 100 million registered users, has teamed up with Alibaba to launch AliExpress Russia, a JV that they hope will function as a “one-stop destination” for communication, social media, shopping and games. backer MegaFon, a telecom firm, and the country’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund)
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Ravelin raises £8M Series B to use machine learning to fight e-commerce fraud

Ravelin, the London-based company using machine learning to help e-commerce companies fight and predict the risk of fraud, has raised £8 million in Series B funding. The round is led by BlackFin Capital Partners, while existing investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Passion Capital, and Playfair Capital followed on. In a call with co-founder and CEO Martin Sweeney, he told me the new funding will in part be used for Ravelin’s expansion plans. This will include opening an office in the East Coast of the U.S., where the company is seeing increasing in-bound inquiries. This, he says, won’t merely be one or two sales people, but will be staffed properly, including posting one of Ravelin’s other co-founders there. The company has also recently developed a product for Payment Service Providers, and says it will continue to invest in other capabilities complementary to its core proposition of charge back protection.
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Evaneos, the online marketplace for tailor-made travel experiences, picks up $80M Series D

Evaneos, the online marketplace for tailor-made travel experiences, has picked up $80 million in Series D funding. Leading the round is Partech, and Level Equity, with participation from Quadrille Capital, and existing backers XAnge, Serena Capital, and Bpifrance. The injection of cash is to be used to international development, including increasing headcount from the current 180 employees. It brings total funding to around $108 million since being founded in 2009. Competing primarily with traditional tour operators, Evaneos offers a marketplace for tailored travel experiences that claims to cut out the middle-person -– that is, the tour operators and major travel agencies -– by connecting travellers directly with a community of local travel agents. Through the site you can browse a range of holiday ideas, then contact a local agent living in the destination country to design a tailor-made itinerary. The draw for consumers is more personalized travel experiences, while
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Crowdcube acquires business reporting software Supdate

In what looks like an undeniably good strategic fit, U.K.-based business reporting software startup Supdate has been acquired by equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I’m told it was an all-cash acquisition. I understand that Crowdcube is essentially buying the Supdate user base and tech/IP, and that Supdate founder Duane Jackson is not joining Crowdcube but will be helping on the technical side during the handover. The idea is that Supdate will become part of part of the existing suite of “post-funding benefits” available to businesses that raise on Crowdcube, such as access to Amazon’s Launchpad Programme. Founded out of Jackson’s own frustration as an angel investor, whereby startups he’d backed didn’t always keep him updated regularly, Supdate offers SaaS for businesses to create and share company news and metrics with shareholders. The premise was that well-designed software could help streamline and
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Perlego raises $4.8M for its ‘Spotify for textbooks’

Perlego, which has been dubbed the ‘Spotify for textbooks,’ has closed $4.8 million in finding. Leading the round is ADV, with participation from existing angel investors, including Simon Franks (co-founder of Lovefilm), Alex Chesterman (founder of Zoopla), and Peter Hinssen. Founded by Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis, Perlego provides students and professionals unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of academic and professional eBook titles for £12 a month. To be able to do this, it works with 650 publishers, including big names like Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, Macmillan Higher Education, and Cengage Learning. Publishers receive 65 percent of each subscription on a consumption basis. “Textbook prices have increased more than fifteen-fold since 1970, or three times the rate of inflation,” Perlego co-founder and CEO Van Malderen tells TechCrunch. “In the U.K., the average university student spends £439 a year on textbooks. This is
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Unmortgage scores £10M seed round to offer ‘part-own, part-rental’ housing

Unmortgage enables everyone to live in the home they want to, that’s our mission,” Unmortgage co-founder and CEO Ray Rafiq-Omar tells me. “We do that by allowing people to buy as little as five percent of a home and rent the rest. So there’s no mortgage involved, hence the name Unmortgage”. The burgeoning London startup, which aims to launch next year having just closed a hefty £10 million seed round, calls its model “part-own, part-rent”. However, unlike traditional shared ownership schemes, Unmortgage doesn’t want you to have to take out a mortgage to buy the first portion of your own, and it isn’t targeting new-builds. Like a number of other fintech/proptech companies, such as Strideup and Proportunity, it is the latest attempt to solve the increasing difficulty first time buyers face trying to get on the housing ladder as rising house prices typically outstrip wages. If people rent,
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What you need to know ahead of the EU copyright vote

European Union lawmakers are facing a major vote on digital copyright reform proposals on Wednesday — a process that has set the Internet’s hair fully on fire. Here’s a run down of the issues and what’s at stake…

Article 13

The most controversial component of the proposals concerns user-generated content platforms such as YouTube, and the idea they should be made liable for copyright infringements committed by their users — instead of the current regime of takedowns after the fact (which locks rights holders into having to constantly monitor and report violations — y’know, at the same time as Alphabet’s ad business continues to roll around in dollars and eyeballs). Critics of the proposal argue that shifting the burden of rights liability onto platforms will flip them from champions to chillers of free speech, making them reconfigure their systems to accommodate the new level of business risk. More specifically they suggest
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ConsenSys details the first cohort of companies to enter its new accelerator, Tachyon

Tachyon, the accelerator of the blockchain powerhouse ConsenSys which launched earlier this year, has announced the first cohort for its 10 week accelerator program which is aimed at taking early stage blockchain projects from idea to a viable product. Sixteen companies were selected from around the world and will be brought together in San Francisco to participate in programming and accelerate their businesses. The projects are placed into one of three tracks:  Blockchain for-profit projects, open source and social impact. The program will culminate with a demo day for investors on November 17th. Kavita Gupta (Managing Partner, ConsenSys Ventures) said: “We launched Tachyon with the intention of finding extremely promising early-stage companies and providing them with hands on support from the get-go. Among this inaugural group, I feel confident that we’ve found the next crop of game-changing projects that will drive innovation across the blockchain ecosystem.”  Joe Lubin (Founder, ConsenSys) commented: “One thing that
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Kry expands its telehealth service to France — under new brand, Livi

Swedish telehealth startup Kry, which bagged a $66M Series B in June for market expansion, is executing on that plan — announcing today it will launch into the French market on September 15. This will be the fourth market for the 2014 founded European startup, after its home market of Sweden, along with Norway and Spain. When we spoke to Kry in June it also said it was eyeing a UK launch, and it says now the country is “coming up next” on its launch map. Kry’s boast for its service is it lets patients ‘see’ a healthcare professional within 15 minutes — via a remote video consultation on their smartphone or tablet. It recruits doctors locally, in each market where it operates. The French launch introduces a new brand name for the service, which will be called Livi in the market. Livi will also be Kry’s brand for all markets
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Look out US main-street banks, the Revolut is coming

Revolut, the new-generation smartphone-based bank which is blowing up Europe right now, has confirmed its intention launch in the United States and Canada later this year, taking its interesting combination of personal banking, crypto wallet and fee-free stocks trading app to main-street North America. Co-founder and CEO Nik Storonsky said the company now has a 60,000 person waiting list for U.S customers for when it launches. Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco today Storonsky, said the startup, which has already passed the ‘unicorn’ stage of a billion dollar valuation, would be launching some time between October and December this year. Revolut’s app-based checking account and debit card offers customers payment notifications, built-in budgeting controls and the ability to spend and transfer money globally using the real exchange rate, thus bypassing forex fees. In the last six months, Revolut has launched a feature allowing customers to buy, hold and
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ProtonMail names one of the attackers behind a major DDoS this summer

End-to-end encrypted email service ProtonMail has named one of the attackers behind a sustained distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) it suffered earlier this summer. The attack took its email service offline for up to several minute long stretches at a time, even with mitigation measures in place. It says the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested the teenager, George Duke-Cohan, who was a member of a criminal group called Apophis Squad, late last month. “Earlier this week, the British National Crime Agency announced the arrest of George Duke-Cohan, also known by his aliases“7R1D3N7,”“DoubleParallax,” and, more recently, “optcz1,” it writes in a blog post published today. “At ProtonMail, we unfortunately have to face off against cyberattacks on a daily basis. Over the course of this summer, no fewer than five separate groups have been conducting attacks against ProtonMail. Duke-Cohan was a key member of Apophis Squad, a criminal group which
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Playing the global game, Sequoia can cut checks for up to $1 billion

As the shadow of SoftBank (and its $100 billion fund) looms large over the investment landscape, Sequoia Capital is pushing the upper limits of the checks it’s willing to write to global growth-stage companies up to $1 billion. With a B. That’s the word from Sequoia’s global managing partner Doug Leone speaking onstage at Disrupt San Francisco. Thankfully for Leone, the firm has closed all of its U.S. and global funds, to support those unprecedently massive checks. While the firm hasn’t yet cut a check for a cool billion (Leone joked that he “doesn’t have a pacemaker yet”), the head of one of Silicon Valley’s preeminent investment funds did say that Sequoia has written $400 million checks twice already. Alas, Leone wouldn’t say whether those commitments were made to companies in the U.S. or in what is increasingly becoming Sequoia Capital’s new largest market — China. Half the
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Is China’s digital silk road going to pave over Silicon Valley?

Over the past 20 years, China has now grown into one of the largest consumer technology markets, with thousands of startups and funding rivaling Silicon Valley. In 2018, Chinese entrepreneurs are seeking to expand their businesses beyond borders, establish international operations, and become global companies by listing on exchanges including the NASDAQ and NYSE. More than ever Chinese entrepreneurs are confident in their ability to create a unicorn thanks to China’s digital transformation and its leading innovations in international markets.

Digital transformation through new native apps and services make scaling easier

Despite the talent war between China and the U.S. and large growing domestic markets, Chinese chief executives dream of successfully entering the U.S. Market. There is now global competition to attract Chinese startups to list on exchanges around the world. With a growing
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Apple’s Shazam acquisition cleared by EU regulators

European regulators have given the green light to Apple’s December 2017 acquisition of music and image recognition discovery firm Shazam. Apple Music is the second largest music streaming service in Europe, after Spotify . While Shazam offers what has been described as “a leading music recognition app” in the region (and globally). TechCrunch broke the news of the acquisition last year — reporting the price for Apple picking up the veteran UK startup to be in the region of $400 million. Apple confirmed our scoop a few days later. But two months later European Union competition regulators said they were reviewing the deal, a move triggered by concerns raised by multiple countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). Then in April the Commission stepped the review up into a full-blown investigation. Today, after carrying out its in-depth probe, the Commission says it’s satisfied the deal will not adversely affect competition
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