FabFitFun surpasses $200 million in revenue as it hits million-customer milestone

At least one million people will be receiving the next FabFitFun box as the Los Angeles company surpasses $200 million in revenue and continues its run as one of the startups to watch in the Los Angeles tech community. 

As it renews its focus on media — doubling down on new programming in a bid to reach further into repeatable revenue through subscriptions that encompass more than just retail — the company is trying to frame itself as more than just makeup and accessories in a box. “When we think of the potential behind the business … there are a few businesses in the world for whom membership is a no brainer. Netflix is, Spotify is and we think FabFitFun is a no brainer,” said Daniel Broukhim co-founder and co-chief executive of FabFitFun. 

The company’s

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Peak Theory lines up media partners and funding as Cubcoats becomes a phenomenon

With a planned cartoon series coming up, partnerships in place with Major League Baseball, NBCUniversal, and other media companies of heroic proportions, the founders creating the kids clothing phenomenon, Cubcoats, are on a roll.

Peak Theory, launched by longtime friends Zac Park (who’s 29) and the 35 year-old Spencer Markel, is the company behind Cubcoats, a hoodie that transforms into a puppet (or a puppet that transforms into a hoodie?). With their first product, the two founders have achieved the kind of viral success in its first year that most companies only dream of. Markel, a former mergers and acquisitions lawyer with DLA Piper, and Park, a product director at the design agency AKQA, first met in San Francisco through a mutual friend and almost immediately began planning their escape from the corporate world.

Peak Theory founders Zac Park and Spencer Markel

“We thought to ourselves, what
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Shopify opens its first brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles

Shopify, the provider of payment and logistics management software and services for retailers, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles.

The first brick and mortar location for the Toronto-based company, is nestled in a warren of downtown Los Angeles boutique shops in a complex known as the Row DTLA. For Shopify, Los Angeles is the ideal place to debut a physical storefront showing off the company’s new line of hardware products and the array of services it provides to businesses ranging from newly opened startups to $900 million juggernauts like the Kylie Cosmetics brand. The city is one of the most dense conglomerations of Shopify customers with over 10,000 merchants using the company’s technologies in the greater Los Angeles area. 400 of those retailers have each earned over $1 million in gross merchandise volume. In the Los Angeles space, which looks similar to an Apple store, patrons
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Salesforce acquires Rebel, maker of ‘interactive’ email services, to expand its Marketing Cloud

Salesforce’s Marketing and Commerce Cloud is the company’s smallest division today, so to help beef it up, the company is making an acquisition to add in more features. Salesforce has acquired Rebel, a startup that develops interactive email services for businesses to enhance their direct marketing services: recipients of interactive emails can write reviews, shop and take other actions without leaving the messages to do so. In an announcement on Rebel’s site, the startup said it will be joining Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud operation, which will integrate Rebel’s API-based services into its platform. “With Rebel’s Mail and API solutions, brands, including Dollar Shave Club, L’Oreal and HelloFresh, turn emails into an extension of their website or app – collecting data, removing friction from the conversion process, and enhancing the customer experience. Rebel will enhance the power of Salesforce Marketing Clod and fundamentally change the way people interact with email,” the founders
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Hear from investors at General Catalyst, FirstMark, Shasta at TC Sessions: AR/VR

The worlds of augmented reality and VR theoretically represent a boundless expanse for startups looking to create a new digital future. Realizing that future is the tough part and doing so while Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple all look to plant their flags is even harder. While plenty of investors have taken a look at AR/VR companies in the years following Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, for many, the prospect of buying in at a stage where the consumer interest is so uncertain has proven a bit too risky. At TechCrunch’s one-day Sessions AR/VR event on October 18 at UCLA, we’ll chat with investors from top venture capital firms about where they’re seeing potential in the market and how they are approaching investments in AR/VR in 2018. We’ll be joined by Niko Bonatsos from General Catalyst, Catherine Ulrich from FirstMark Capital and Jacob Mullins from Shasta Ventures on a
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Where to watch tonight’s Emmy Awards online

It’s the biggest night for television and streaming media services tonight as the stars are gathering to celebrate themselves at the 70th annual Emmy Awards. Tonight’s event at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles promises to be a big one for streaming media services like Netflix (with 122 nominations), Hulu (with 20 — thanks mainly to the amazing The Handmaid’s Tale), and Amazon (which nabbed 22 nominations, mainly on the strength of the marvelous The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).  Netflix’s dominance at the awards show marks the ascent of streaming as the biggest thing in new media — but the traditional networks, premium and basic cable, aren’t giving up without a fight. Emceeing tonight’s festivities are Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost. The two are coming off an incredibly popular run which saw both comedians continuing the tradition of being one of the consistent
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Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: AR/VR in LA on October 18

TechCrunch is heading to UCLA on October 18 and we’ve assembled some of the AR/VR industry’s most prescient founders, investors and executives to chat about the startups and trends driving virtual and augmented reality in 2018. The world’s top tech companies have heavily invested in AR/VR and are persistent in broadcasting the technologies’ potential to blur the lines of how consumers interact with the digital world. Beyond the tech titans, it’s the small startups that are dialing into what’s missing in the ecosystem right now. Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies for virtual worlds. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR
UCLA,
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Instacart links up with Walmart Canada to expand its same-day delivery service

Instacart has teamed up with Walmart Canada to bring shoppers in Toronto and Winnipeg same-day grocery delivery. The agreement is part of a pilot program for the two companies that will allow Instacart users to order groceries from 17 different Walmart locations across the two cities. This is the first time shoppers in Winnipeg will have access to the grocery delivery service and the first time Toronto residents will have the option for same-day delivery. Interestingly, Instacart doesn’t have a partnership with Walmart in the U.S. Walmart, rather, has relationships with several other grocery delivery companies including DoorDash and Postmates. Instacart does have a deal with Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart. That partnership was announced in February and gives Sam’s Club members same-day delivery via Instacart.

Instacart initially launched in Canada in September 2017 and will continue expanding

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Branch pairs up with TUNE to create a supersized marketing and measurement platform

Branch announced today that it has acquired TUNE‘s attribution analytics team and business, a part of the SaaS platform that focuses on optimizing and accurately attributing ad spend. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  TUNE, a Seattle-based startup founded in 2009, helps ad platforms tie marketing investments to measurable outcomes.  Backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, Branch creates links between websites and mobile apps, called deep links. The deal will help the company, which supports 40,000 apps with roughly 3 billion monthly users, expand its portfolio of linking and attribution analytics tools to become the ultimate marketing and measurement platform for businesses. “TUNE has always been a steward of Branch’s core values, especially when it comes to putting user experience and privacy first,” Branch CEO Alex Austin said in a statement. “Combining TUNE’s years of learning with Branch’s innovation, raw product execution, and key
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Uppercase raises $3.5M to help e-tailers open brick-and-mortar stores

People like to say that brick-and-mortar retail is dead, but direct-to-consumer businesses continue to dabble with physical stores all the same. Why? Because brick-and-mortar retail provides businesses with benefits an online shopping platform can’t, namely consumer experiences that create and sustain shopper’s relationships with brands.  To help the next generation of digitally native stores expand into the physical world, Uppercase, formerly known as thisopenspace, is launching out of stealth with $3.5 million in venture capital funding. Lerer Hippeau has led the round, with participation from CRV and SV Angels. Uppercase works with real estate agents, architects and designers to build stores for online brands in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto. Co-founder and CEO Yashar Nejati started the company after noticing that online brands were experimenting with pop-up shops then establishing permanent storefronts. Men’s retailer Frank & Oak, which picked up a $16 million Series
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How Tech is Changing How Healthcare Must Communicate With Patients

Tech is Forcing Healthcare to Change How It Communicates to Patients

How Health Companies Must Communicate With Patients

From consumer-focused apps to groundbreaking 3d printing techniques, the healthcare industry is constantly in the process of being revolutionized by new technologies. These changes are disrupting the status quo of how business has been done for years – and they are even forcing companies to pivot in the areas of business that aren’t as traditionally driven by innovation or R&D. One such area: how companies communicate with potential and active patients.

The Pivot to Content Strategy

Today’s infographic comes to us from Publicis Health, and it shows that technology is changing the way that life sciences and pharmaceutical companies will need to market and inform consumers. For an industry in which one-way communication has traditionally been the norm, a multitude of factors are converging to make it essential for healthcare companies to pivot to a new way of doing things. Instead of
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India’s Hansel raises $4M to bring its app development platform to the US

Hansel, an India-based startup that enables more agile product development inside companies, has pulled in $4 million as it seeks to expand its business to the U.S.. The startup was founded in 2015 and it operates a real-time mobile app development platform that simplifies the process of product iteration inside companies. That’s to say that once a product is launched there’s a lot of work that is done to develop it, test new ideas and optimize but many companies overlook the process or lump it with the general engineering, which includes initial product development. Hansel argues that product development and iteration are different, and its wider aim is to enable dedicated ‘product ops’ inside companies that until now never considered the process to be distinct from app development, or perhaps don’t have the budget. “Product iteration is often neglected as people want to move to the next thing,
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MallforAfrica goes global, Kobo360 and Sokowatch raise VC, France explains its $76M fund

B2B e-commerce company Sokowatch closed a $2 million seed investment led by 4DX Ventures. Others to join the round were Village Global, Lynett Capital, Golden Palm Investments, and Outlierz  Ventures. The Kenya based company aims to shake up the supply chain market for Africa’s informal retailers. Sokowatch’s platform connects Africa’s informal retail stores directly to local and multi-national suppliers—such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble—by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit margins. “With both manufacturers and the small shops, we’re becoming the connective layer between them, where previously you had multiple layers of middle-men from distributors, sub-distributors,
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Market research firm GlobalWebIndex takes first VC with $40M Series A

Market research firm GlobalWebIndex, which provides consumer insight data for marketing purposes for customers including Google, Spotify, WPP, IPG and Omnicom Group, has closed a $40 million Series A round. The funding is its first VC raise, almost a decade after the business was founded. The investment comes from New York-based growth fund Stripes Group, along with a number of other unnamed data, software and consumer technology companies. GWI says it will be used to accelerate product development and for international expansion, including in the U.S. and Asia.  The company is based in London but has recently opened offices in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as having technology hubs in locations across Europe. With the new funding it says it’s planning to open more international offices across the Americas and Asia Pacific to support a client base which spans more than 80 countries.  

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Miles gives you reward miles for almost everything

Reward miles are nice if you fly a lot but what if you bike or take Lyfts or just like to wander around town? A new app called Miles aims to give you rewards for all of those things, bringing the concept of rewards out of the air and onto the ground. Miles, co-founded by Jigar Shah, Paresh Jain and Parin Shah, is a San Jose-based company that looked at the problem of reward miles outside of airlines as well as the problems associated with city planning and traffic data generation. The app, which is now in the iOS App Store, can see when you walk, ride a bike, take the bus, drive yourself, or even hop in a Lyft or an Uber. It then rewards you on a sliding scale depending on how eco-friendly your trip is. Biking, for example, is worth more than driving or even taking
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Southeast Asia’s Grab hit by backlash over changes to customer loyal program

Life without Uber should be simple for Grab, but a battle with regulators in Singapore could see the company’s acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia business unwound while some consumers have voiced concern around a lack of competition. Grab co-founder Hooi Ling Tan recently claimed competition remains in the market, but that hasn’t stopped another consumer backlash after the ride-hailing firm altered its loyalty program without warning. To be fair to Grab, earning loyalty points for taxi rides is something unique — Uber doesn’t offer any kind of program, for example — and the changes initiated last week seem aimed at spreading the benefit beyond taxis and into Grab’s newer ventures, which include its GrabPay payment service and food deliveries. However, in doing so, the company made two cardinal sins. The changes included the lowering of benefits for Grab’s highest tier (read: most loyal) customers — with rebates dropping from a
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SessionM customer loyalty data aggregator snags $23.8 M investment

SessionM announced a $23.8 million Series E investment led by Salesforce Ventures. A bushel of existing investors including Causeway Media Partners, CRV, General Atlantic, Highland Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers also contributed to the round. The company has now raised over $97 million. At its core, SessionM aggregates loyalty data for brands to help them understand their customer better, says company co-founder and CEO Lars Albright. “We are a customer data and engagement platform that helps companies build more loyal and profitable relationships with their consumers,” he explained. Essentially that means, they are pulling data from a variety of sources and helping brands offer customers more targeted incentives, offers and product recommendations “We give [our users] a holistic view of that customer and what motivates them,” he said.

Screenshot: SessionM (cropped)

To achieve this, SessionM takes advantage of machine learning to analyze the data stream and integrates
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Alibaba boosts its offline reach with $2B+ investment in outdoor digital marketing firm

Alibaba is investing big bucks into offline distribution. The Chinese e-commerce giant has forked out $2.23 billion in exchange for a sizeable piece of Focus Media, a Shanghai-based company that operates outdoor digital advertising screens across China, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a U.S. filing. The deal itself is broken up into a few pieces. Alibaba itself is paying $1.43 billion for a 6.62 percent share of Focus Media, which is listed in Shanghai, It is also spending $504.7 million to buy 10 percent of an entity (managed by Focus Media founder and chairman Jason Nanchun Jiang) which controls 23.34 percent of Focus Media. In addition, an Alibaba-aligned fund called ‘New Retail Strategic Opportunities’ is buying 1.37 percent of Focus Media, while Alibaba itself is planning to exercise an option to buy five percent more of the business over the next twelve months. That additional
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Prime Down: Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

  • Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use smile.amazon.com. TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works.
It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page. Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too. This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It’s not a
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Adobe could be the next $10 billion software company

Adobe reported its Q2 FY’18 earnings yesterday and the news was quite good. The company announced $2.2 billion in revenue for the quarter up 24 percent year over year. That puts them on an impressive $8.8 billion run rate, within reach of becoming the next $10 billion software company (or at least on a run rate). Revenue was up across all major business lines, but as has been the norm, the vast majority comes from the company’s bread and butter, Creative Cloud, which houses the likes of Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver, among others. In fact digital media, which includes Creative Cloud and Document Cloud accounted for $1.55 billion of the $2.2 billion in total revenue. The vast majority of that, $1.30 billion was from the creative side of the house with Document Cloud pulling in $243 million. Adobe has been mostly known as a
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