Stripe moves into brick-and-mortar payments with Terminal

Stripe is expanding beyond online payments with the launch of a new product for in-person payments at brick-and-mortar stores, called Terminal. The company said Terminal has three main components — there’s hardware, namely card readers built by Stripe partners BBPOS and Verifone, but also SDKs and APIs for customizing checkout experiences, as well as software for managing connected devices. Stripe’s co-founder and president John Collison discussed the launch at the Code Commerce conference today. Interviewer Jason Del Rey brought up Square, which seems like the obvious point of comparison, and Collison acknowledged there will probably be areas where the companies will compete. However, he argued that Stripe and Square are largely targeting different customers — where Square built a card reader for businesses like coffee shops and restaurants, Stripe is aimed at more tech-savvy businesses. Its initial Terminal customers include Warby Parker and Glossier, and it’s also being used by
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Boom’s chief test pilot on the thrill and challenge of going supersonic (again)

“There’s nothing like it out there,” says Commander Bill “Doc” Shoemaker (Ret.), chief test pilot for Boom Supersonic, the startup aiming to make a passenger airliner for transoceanic flights at speeds (as you might guess from the name) faster than sound. Shoemaker, a former Navy aviator, fighter pilot and aeronautics engineer, will have the daunting privilege of being the first to fly the company’s proof of concept single-seater during tests next year. That there’s nothing like Boom is not exactly a controversial opinion — there aren’t a lot of companies out there trying to resurrect supersonic flight. The Concorde is, after all, so well known a cautionary tale of engineering ambition exceeding the constraints of reality that it verges on hackneyed. But Shoemaker isn’t a Silicon Valley startup commentator, he’s a test pilot, and his perspective is that of someone who has worked on and flown dozens of
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Blippar picks up $37 million hoping to become profitable in the next year

Blippar, the AR startup that launched in 2011, has today announced the close of a $37 million financing led by Candy Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures. The company started out by offering AR experiences for brand marketers through publishers and other real-world products, letting users unlock AR content by scanning a tag called a “Blipp”. Blippar then transitioned to a number of different AR products, but took a particular focus on computer vision, launching a consumer-facing visual search engine that would let users identify cars, plants, and other real-world objects. Most recently, Blippar has introduced an indoor positioning system that lets commercial real estate owners implement AR mapping and other content from within their buildings. The AR industry has been in a state of evolution for the past few years, and Blippar has constantly reshifted and re-positioned to try and take advantage of the blossoming market. Unfortunately, several pivots have
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Zortrax launches a new high-speed, high-resolution printer, the Inkspire

Zortrax has launched a new printer, the Inkspire, that prints using an LCD to create objects in high-quality resin in minutes. The printer – essentially an upgrade to traditional stereolithography (SLA) printers – uses a single frame of light to create layers of 25 microns. Most SLA printers use a laser or DLP to shine a pattern on the resin. The light hardens the resin instantly, creating a layer of material that the printer then pulls up and out as the object grows. The UV LCD in the $2,699 Inkspire throws an entire layer at a time and is nine times more precise than standard SLA systems. It can print 20 to 36 millimeters per hour and the system can print objects in serial, allowing you to to print hundreds of thousands of small objects per month. “The printer is also perfect for rapid prototyping of tiny yet incredibly detailed
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Logistics startup Freightos raises $44.4M Series C led by Singapore Exchange

Freightos, a marketplace for logistics providers, announced today that it has raised a $44.4 million Series C led by Singapore Exchange. Returning investors including General Electric Ventures (the lead investor of Freightos’ Series B extension last year), ICV and Aleph also participated in the round, which brings Freightos’ total funding so far to $94.4 million. Launched in 2016 as a price comparison service for freight forwarders—the agents that organize shipments from a supplier or manufacturer to their final destination—Freightos now also lets users book, manage and track shipments with more than 1,200 logistics providers. In an email, founder and CEO Zvi Schreiber said its online freight marketplace will continue to be Freightos’ flagship product, but the company also wants to find ways to make the industry more efficient by building a global digital infrastructure. The company claims to process more than one million instant freight quote requests
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Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars

If the whole map is red and it’s a short ride, maybe you’d prefer taking an Uber JUMP Bike instead of an UberX. Or at least if you do end up stuck bumper-to-bumper, the warning could make you less likely to get mad mid-ride and take it out on the driver’s rating. This week TechCrunch spotted Uber overlaying blue, yellow, and red traffic condition bars on your route map before you hail. Responding to TechCrunch’s inquiry, Uber confirmed that traffic estimates have been quietly testing for riders on Android over the past few months and the pilot program recently expanded to a subset of iOS users. It’s already live for all drivers. The congestion indicators are based on Uber’s own traffic information pulled from its historic trip data about 10 billion rides plus real-time data from its drivers’ phones, rather than estimates from Google that already power Uber’s maps. If traffic
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In Bad Blood, a pedestrian tale of heuristics and lies

In a world where thousands and thousands of startups are started in the Bay Area every year, becoming a name that everyone recognizes is no small feat. Theranos reached that summit, and it all came crashing down. The story of the fraudulent rise and precipitous fall of the company and its entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes, is also the singular story of the journalist who chronicled the company. John Carreyrou’s tenacious and intrepid reporting at the Wall Street Journal would ultimately expose one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated in Silicon Valley. Bad Blood is the culmination of that investigative reporting. The swift decline of Theranos and its protective legal apparatus has done this story a lot of good: many of the anonymous sources that underpinned Carreyrou’s WSJ coverage are now public and visible, allowing the author to weave together the various articles he published into a holistic and complete story. And
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Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra. Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful! Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar. The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device, filled up with air, cost 50 cents
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3DHubs, once a community 3D printing service, is now sourcing all 3D prints internally

3D Hubs, like MakeXYZ, was a community-based 3D printing service that let anyone with a printer sell their prints online. Founded in the heyday of the 3D printing revolution, the service let thousands of makers gather a little cash for making and mailing prints on their home 3D printers. Now, however, the company has moved to a model in which its high-end partners will be manufacturing plastic, metal, and injection molded parts for customers willing to pay extra for a professional print. “Indeed, more focus on high end printers run by professional companies,” said founder Brian Garret. “So a smaller pool of manufacturing locations (still hundreds around the world), but with more control on standardized quality and repeatability. Our software takes care of the sourcing, so companies order with 3D Hubs directly.” Not everyone is happy with the decision. 3DPrint.come editor Joris Peels saw the value
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Crypto’s second bubble, Juul has 60 days and three Chinese IPOs

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. After a long run of having guests climb aboard each week, we took a pause on that front, bringing together three of our regular hosts instead: Connie Loizos, Danny Chrichton, and myself. Despite the fact that there were just three of us instead of the usual four, we got through a mountain of stuff. Which was good as it was a surprisingly busy week, and we didn’t want to leave too much behind. Up top we dug into the latest in the land of crypto, which Danny had politely summarized for us in an article. The gist of his argument is that the analogies relating crypto as an industry to the Internet may work, but most people have their timelines wrong: Crypto isn’t like the Internet in the 90s,
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The funding mirage: How to secure international investment from emerging markets

Looking for funding as a startup in Latin America is a lot like looking for a watering hole in the middle of the desert. You know it’s out there, but finding it in time is a life or death situation. Granted, venture capital investment in the region is at an all-time high, with leading firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners having made inaugural investments in markets like Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, respectively. But, at the same time, while startup founders might be tantalized by the news of big investments happening around them, as many of them get closer to the funding stage themselves, they often realize it’s nothing but a mirage. And this isn’t just a problem in Latin
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It’s the end of crypto as we know it and I feel fine

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period of trading whose milestones including the launch of Coinbase and the growth of a vibrant (if often shady) professional ecosystem is over. Crypto still runs on hype. Gemini announcing a stablecoin, the World Economic Forum saying something hopeful, someone else saying something less hopeful – all of these things and more are helping define the current market. However, something else is happening behind the scenes that is far more important. As I’ve written before, the socialization and general acceptance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial pursuits is a very recent thing. In the old days –
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Microsoft acquires Lobe, a drag-and-drop AI tool

Microsoft today announced that is has acquired Lobe, a startup that lets you build machine learning models with the help of a simple drag-and-drop interface. Microsoft plans to use Lobe, which only launched into beta earlier this year, to build upon its own efforts to make building AI models easier, though, for the time being, Lobe will operate as before. “As part of Microsoft, Lobe will be able to leverage world-class AI research, global infrastructure, and decades of experience building developer tools,” the team writes. “We plan to continue developing Lobe as a standalone service, supporting open source standards and multiple platforms.” Lobe was co-founded by Mike Matas, who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad, as well as Facebook’s Paper and Instant Articles products. The other co-founders are Adam Menges and Markus Beissinger. In addition to Lobe, Microsoft also recently bought Bonsai.ai, a deep
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Online used car startup Shift raises $140 million

Shift Technologies, an online marketplace for used cars, has closed a Series D financing round of more than $140 million in equity and debt.

The round, which consists of about $70 million in debt and $71 million in equity, was led by automotive retailer Lithia Motors. Bryan DeBoer, CEO and president of Lithia, will join Shift’s board of directors.

Previous investors Alliance Ventures, BMW iVentures, DCM, DFJ, G2VP, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Highland Capital also participated. This new capital brings Shift’s total financing of equity and debt to $265 million.

Shift, which is based in San Francisco, serves car buyers and sellers. The company, founded in 2013, has built a software platform that lets customers shop for cars, get financing and schedule test drives. Car owners can use the platform to sell their vehicle, as well. Shift says any car it buys must pass a “rigorous” 150+

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Economist Tyler Cowen launches a fellowship and grant program for moon shot ideas

Tyler Cowen, who I interviewed here, is a fascinating economist. Part pragmatist and part dreamer, he has been researching and writing about the future for a long time in books and his blog, Marginal Revolution. Now he and his university, George Mason, are putting some money where his mouth is. Cowen and the team at GMU are working on Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program for moon shots. The goal is to give people with big ideas a little capital to help them build out their dreams. “It has long been my view that risk-takers are not sufficiently rewarded in the world of ideas and that academic incentives are too conservative,” he said. “The intellectual scene should learn something from Silicon Valley and venture capital.” Cowen is raising $4 million for the first fund. He announced the fund in a podcast on the Mercatus website. “People
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iHeartMedia is acquiring HowStuffWorks

iHeartMedia has agreed to acquire Stuff Media, the company that owns the HowStuffWorks podcasting business. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but both the Wall Street Journal and Variety are reporting that the acquisition price was $55 million. According to the announcement, Stuff Media podcasts will retain their branding and the organization will remain headquartered in Atlanta, while President and CEO Conal Byrne joins iHeartMedia as the head of its podcasting division. HowStuffWorks was originally founded in 1998 and had a number of owners before spinning out as an independent company and raising a $15 million Series A last year. In recent years, its focus has shifted from explainer articles and videos to podcasts, and in fact, it says those podcasts receive more than 61 million downloads and streams each month, with Stuff You Should Know surpassing 500 million downloads this year. iHeartMedia,
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Hacera creates directory to make blockchain projects more searchable

In the 1990s when the web was young, companies like Yahoo, created directories of web pages to help make them more discoverable. Hacera wants to bring that same idea to blockchain, and today it announced the launch of the Hacera Network Registry. CEO Jonathan Levi says that blockchains being established today risk being isolated because people simply can’t find them. If you have a project like the IBM -Maersk supply chain blockchain announced last month, how does an interested party like a supplier or customs authority find it and ask to participate? Up until the creation of this registry, there was no easy way to search for projects. Early participants include heavy hitters like Microsoft, Hitachi, Huawei, IBM, SAP and Oracle, who are linking to projects being created on their platforms. The registry supports projects based on major digital ledger communities including Hyperledger, Quorum, Cosmos, Ethereum and Corda. The
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PlayVS taps League of Legends in launch of high school esports platform

PlayVS, the startup bringing an e-sports infrastructure to the high school level, has today announced that it will partner with Riot’s League of Legends for its beta season. High school students across five states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, will be able to sign up to play for their school in Season Zero, which begins in October 2018. Around 200 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada are offering esports scholarships, but without any infrastructure around high school esports, those recruiters are left at the mercy of the publishers and a grueling tournament schedule. Meanwhile, young gamers who want to go pro are forced to gain a following via Twitch, or hit up all those tournaments and find a way to shine. PlayVS offers access to recruiters while giving high school students the chance to play competitive esports at the high school level. The
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Brazilian startup Yellow raises $63M — the largest Series A ever for a Latin American startup

After selling their ridesharing startup, 99, to Didi Chuxing for $1 billion last year, Ariel Lambrecht and Renato Freitas didn’t waste any time throwing their hats back in the ring. Months after their big exit, the pair joined forces with Eduardo Musa, who spent two decades in the bicycle industry, to start another São Paulo-based mobility startup. Yellow, a bike- and scooter-sharing service, quickly captured the attention of venture capitalists, raising a $9 million seed round in April and now, the company is announcing the close of a $63 million Series A. The round is the largest Series A financing ever for a startup in Latin America, where tech investment, especially from U.S.-based firms, has historically remained low. 2017, however, was a banner year for Latin American startups; 2018, it seems, is following suit. More than $600 million was invested in the first quarter of 2018, partly
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Discover Sono Motors’ vision of the electric car at Disrupt Berlin

New car makers have been popping up left and right. But instead of creating yet another Tesla-like company, German company Sono Motors is working on something completely new — a solar-powered car. That’s why I’m excited to announce that the company’s co-founder and CEO Laurin Hahn will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Sono Motors has been working for years on its first car — the Sion. The company now has a handful of prototypes on the road and is refining its manufacturing process to ship those cars to customers who preordered. The company is focusing on compact cars at first with the Sion. The car looks more like a Volkswagen Golf than a Mercedes E-Class. And it makes a ton of sense given that a solar car isn’t your average car. People in the automotive industry will tell you that cars remain parked for 90 percent or 95 percent
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