Group of employees calls for end to Microsoft’s $480M HoloLens military contract


This post is by Lucas Matney from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




More than 100 Microsoft employees have signed a letter sent to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith criticizing the company’s plans to build HoloLens AR tech for the military, the organizing group said Friday. The development is part of a $480 million military contract that Microsoft won this past November.

The group’s letter demands that the company cancel their work on the contract and cease development of weapons technologies. “We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” the letter further states.

Microsoft has been focusing its augmented reality efforts on enterprise customers but had aggressively pursued the military contract, beating out other applicants including billions-backed startup Magic Leap. The contract is essentially a pilot program to begin outfitting the U.S. military with augmented reality visors

Continue reading “Group of employees calls for end to Microsoft’s $480M HoloLens military contract”

Airbnb, Automattic and Pinterest top rank of most acquisitive unicorns


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




It takes a lot more than a good idea and the right timing to build a billion-dollar company. Talent, focus, operational effectiveness and a healthy dose of luck are all components of a successful tech startup. Many of the most successful (or, at least, highest-valued) tech unicorns today didn’t get there alone.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can be a major growth vector for rapidly scaling, highly valued technology companies. It’s a topic that we’ve covered off and on since the very first post on Crunchbase News in March 2017. Nearly two years later, we wanted to revisit that first post because things move quickly, and there is a new crop of

Continue reading “Airbnb, Automattic and Pinterest top rank of most acquisitive unicorns”

Startups Weekly: Flexport, Clutter and SoftBank’s blood money


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Wall Street Journal published a thought-provoking story this week, highlighting limited partners’ concerns with the SoftBank Vision Fund’s investment strategy. The fund’s “decision-making process is chaotic,” it’s over-paying for equity in top tech startups and it’s encouraging inflated valuations, sources told the WSJ.

The report emerged during a particularly busy time for the Vision Fund, which this week led two notable VC deals in Clutter and Flexport, as well as participated in DoorDash’s $400 million round; more on all those below. So given all this SoftBank news, let us remind you that given its $45 billion commitment, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the Vision Fund’s largest investor. Saudi Arabia is responsible for the planned killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Here’s what I’m wondering this week: Do CEOs of companies like Flexport and Clutter have a responsibility to address the source of their capital? Should they be

Continue reading “Startups Weekly: Flexport, Clutter and SoftBank’s blood money”

YouTube demonetizes anti-vaccination videos


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




YouTube will demonetize channels that promote anti-vaccination views, after a report by BuzzFeed News found ads, including from health companies, running before anti-vax videos. The platform will also place a new information panel that links to the Wikipedia entry on “vaccine hesitancy” before anti-vax videos. Information panels (part of YouTube’s efforts to combat misinformation) about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine had already appeared in front of anti-vaccination videos that mentioned it.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a YouTube spokesperson said “we have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content are a violation of those policies. We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them, we immediately take action and remove ads.”

This is the second issue this week that has prompted YouTube advertisers to suspend their ads BuzzFeed News’

Continue reading “YouTube demonetizes anti-vaccination videos”

Briq, the next building block in tech’s reconstruction of the construction business, raises $3 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Bassem Hamdy has been in the construction business for a long time.

He spent the last few years at the construction software business Procore, now a $3 billion company developing technology for the construction industry, and now Hamdy is ready to unveil his next act as chief executive and co-founder of Briq, a new software service for the industry.

Hamdy started Briq with his own cash, amassed through secondary sales as Procore climbed the ranks of startups to reach its status as a construction industry unicorn. And the company has just raised $3 million in financing to fund its expansion.

“With enough secondaries you can afford to make your own decisions,” Hamdy says. 

His experience in construction dates back to his earliest days. Hailing from a family of construction engineers, Hamdy describes himself as

Continue reading “Briq, the next building block in tech’s reconstruction of the construction business, raises $3 million”

Latchel wants to make maintenance easier for landlords and property managers


This post is by Megan Rose Dickey from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Relationships between landlords and their tenants don’t need to be fraught ones. With Y Combinator -backed Latchel, landlords and property managers can access a 24/7 maintenance service that takes requests from tenants and deploys the right professional to fix the things that need fixing.

At first we thought of doing a high-tech property management system,” Latchel founder Ethan Lieber told TechCrunch. “As we looked more into it and talked to other property management companies, maintenance kept coming up as a problem. So we decided to focus on maintenance.”

Latchel has a bunch of handypeople — all vetted and with at least two years of experience — in its network that it relies on for work inside buildings. In some cases, however, larger property management groups already have people they like to work with. At that point, Latchel simply takes over the relationship and coordinates between the handypeople and

Continue reading “Latchel wants to make maintenance easier for landlords and property managers”

Report: Zoom, the video conferencing company, may be a public company as early as April


This post is by Connie Loizos from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The video conferencing company Zoom is aiming to file a public S-1 by the end of March, according to a new report in Business Insider that adds the company could go public as soon as April.

Business Insider reported last month that Zoom had filed confidentially with the SEC to go public, just months after Reuters reported that the San Jose, Calif.-based company had chosen investment bank Morgan Stanley to lead its eventual IPO.

We’ve reached out to the company for comment.

Zoom was valued at $1 billion when it raised its last funding in 2017 in the form of a $100 million check from Sequoia Capital. Reuters sources have said they expect the company to be valued at several billion dollars at the IPO.

The company, founded in 2011, has raised $145 million altogether, including from Emergence Capital and Horizons Ventures. Its earliest backers include Qualcomm Ventures, Yahoo

Continue reading “Report: Zoom, the video conferencing company, may be a public company as early as April”

Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool


This post is by Jordan Crook from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Epic Games, maker of the ultra popular Battle Royale game Fortnite, is putting up another $100 million in prize cash for competitive tournaments in 2019.

The company made waves in the esports world last year, announcing a $100 million prize pool for the 2018 competitive year, dwarfing every other competitive title in one fell swoop.

This year, a significant portion of the $100 million will be awarded to participants of the first-ever Fortnite World Cup. Each of the 200 players who qualify and compete will walk away with at least $50,000, with the winner taking home $3 million.

The Fortnite World Cup will take place July 26 – 28 in New York City, offering $30 million total in prizes. One hundred of the top solo players will be invited, along with the top 50 duos teams.

So how do you get in on this?

Fortnite is holding weekly open online

Continue reading “Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool”

Sebastian Thrun initiates aggressive plan to transform Udacity


This post is by Kirsten Korosec from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




“I’m a fighter. I believe in our people, I believe in our mission, and I believe that it should exist and must exist.”

Sebastian Thrun is talking animatedly about Udacity, the $1 billion online education startup that he co-founded nearly eight years ago. His tone is buoyant and hopeful. He’s encouraged, he says over an occasionally crackly phone call, about the progress the company has made in such a short time. There’s even a new interim COO, former HP and GE executive Lalit Singh, who joined just days ago to help Thrun execute this newly formed strategy.

That wasn’t the case four weeks ago.

In a lengthy email, obtained by TechCrunch, Thrun lobbed an impassioned missive to the entire company, which specializes in “nanodegrees” on a range of technical subjects that include AI, deep learning, digital marketing, VR and computer vision.

It was, at times, raw, personal and

Continue reading “Sebastian Thrun initiates aggressive plan to transform Udacity”

Verified Expert Lawyer: José Ancer


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




José Ancer is first of all a startup lawyer, with a client portfolio of startups of various stages based around Texas and other similar ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley. He’s also the CTO of Egan Nelson LLP, a boutique firm, where he actively is also building automation software to help the firm compete against larger firms. He also writes on his blog “Silicon Hills Lawyer” publicly and pointedly about his profession — and often takes shots at certain practices common among startup law firms, including Silicon Valley firms. You can get a sense of what’s in the full interview via these excerpts.


On not being “owned” by VCs and repeat players

<div class="article-block block--pullout block--right">
    <blockquote>
         “José has a depth of expertise in startup/company formation/funding issues and is very founder-friendly. He was able to guide us through our seed stage while staying efficient and keeping the billing reasonable.”                           <cite>Mary Haskett, Austin, <div class="post-limited-image"><img class="aligncenter vertical wp-image-1787535" src="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png" alt="" width="729" height="864" srcset="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png 2200w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=127,150 127w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=253,300 253w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=768,910 768w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=574,680 574w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=42,50 42w" sizes="(max-width: 729px) 100vw, 729px" /></div>

Continue reading “Verified Expert Lawyer: José Ancer”

Update regulations on medical AI, experts plead


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The field of medicine is, like other industries and disciplines, in the process of incorporating AI as a standard tool, and it stands to be immensely useful — if it’s properly regulated, argue researchers. Without meaningful and standardized rules, it will be difficult to quantify benefits or prevent disasters issuing from systematic bias or poor implementation.

AI tools, or to be precise, machine learning agents trained to sift through medical data, are popping up in every room in the hospital, from the x-ray machine to the ICU. A well-trained model may spot an anomaly on a lung scan, or hear arrhythmia in a resting patient, faster or more reliably than a nurse or doctor.

At least that’s the theory; and while there’s no reason to doubt that an AI could be very helpful and even save lives, these models amount to medical treatments and must be documented and tested with

Continue reading “Update regulations on medical AI, experts plead”

Daily Crunch: Pinterest files to go public


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Pinterest files confidentially to go public

The business has confidentially submitted paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering slated for later this year, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier reports indicated the company was planning to debut on the stock market in April. In late January, Pinterest took its first official step toward a 2019 IPO, hiring Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as lead underwriters for its offering.

2. Google ends forced arbitration for employees

This is a direct response to a group of outspoken Google employees protesting the company’s arbitration practices. Forced arbitration ensures that workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right

Continue reading “Daily Crunch: Pinterest files to go public”

TechStyle hits 5 million members for its retail empire


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




TechStyle Fashion Group, the company behind Kate Hudson’s Fabletics; the children’s brand FabKids; Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty; and the shoe retailer Shoedazzle, has amassed 5 million members for its discount retail program.

Those members were a large driver behind the $750 million in transactions the company saw for 2018, according to co-chief executive Adam Goldenberg. “We were profitable in 2018,” Goldenberg says. “We can grow now, profitably [and] we can grow both top line and bottom line.”

Numbers like those should give the company a powerful position to head out to public markets, but Goldenberg says the company is taking a wait-and-see approach. “At some point we do need to think about public markets to bring liquidity to our investors and employees,” he says. “We don’t have a set timeline in mind there.”

Designed to make the company’s wares even more attractive for style-

Continue reading “TechStyle hits 5 million members for its retail empire”

Image recognition startup ViSenze raises $20M Series C


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




ViSenze, a startup that provides visual search tools for online retailers like Rakuten and ASOS, announced today that it has raised a $20 million Series C. The round was co-led by Gobi Ventures and Sonae IM, with participation from other backers including returning investors Rakuten and WI Harper.

Founded in 2012, ViSenze has now raised a total of $34.5 million (its last round was a Series B announced in September 2016). The Singapore-based company, whose clients also include Urban Outfitters, Zalora, and Uniqlo, bills its software portfolio as a “personal shopping concierge” that allows shoppers to find or discover new products based on visual search, automatic photo tagging, and recommendations based on their browsing history. ViSenze’s verticals include fashion, jewelry, furniture, and intellectual property.

ViSenze’s latest funding will be used to develop its software through partnerships with smartphone makers including Samsung, LG, and Huawei. The company has

Continue reading “Image recognition startup ViSenze raises $20M Series C”

Netflix says new episodes of “Arrested Development” will debut on March 15


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




It’s time for another hit off the juice box. Netflix announced today that it will release the remaining eight episodes of “Arrested Development’s” fifth season on March 5, ten months after the first half premiered. In the intervening time, however, the show has dealt with several controversies revolving around accusations of abusive behavior from star Jeffrey Tambor, who plays family patriarch George Bluth.

The Netflix installments of the show, which began in 2013 with season 4 and marked the show’s return after running from 2003 to 2006 on Fox, have received mixed reviews and failed to achieve the iconic status of the original episodes. The controversies surrounding the show’s cast has also dampened some fans’ enthusiasm, at least for the new seasons.

Tambor will appear in the upcoming episodes despite

Continue reading “Netflix says new episodes of “Arrested Development” will debut on March 15”

Porsche Taycan production forecast may be ‘conservative’


This post is by Kirsten Korosec from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Porsche’s production forecast for its first all-electric vehicle may be too conservative, the company’s head of production said this week.

Porsche has targeted 20,000 Taycan electric vehicles for the first year of production. But interest in the vehicle could push those estimates higher, Albrecht Reimold, Porsche’s board member in charge of production, said in an internally produced Q&A.

Reimold didn’t provide a specific figure. In the interview, Reimold was asked about the company’s new factory for the Taycan that is being constructed in Zuffenhausen, Germany as well as production of the new 911. Reimold explained that there would be some production overlap with the two vehicles, such as using the same new paint shop, despite their marked differences.

“We have built lots of flexibility into production so that the 911 can also be produced in the Taycan assembly plant – though not vice versa,” he said.

And while the company has

Continue reading “Porsche Taycan production forecast may be ‘conservative’”

The SEC is looking to make it easier for any company to test the IPO waters


This post is by Connie Loizos from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Under the leadership of its newest chairman, Jay Clayton, the SEC has for the last two years made it clear that it wants more companies to go public already.

A new proposal, revealed today, may get it closer to that objective. Specifically, the agency has proposed giving any company that’s exploring a potential IPO a chance to explore its plans privately with potential investors — both institutional and accredited — before making any public pronouncements.

It would essentially widen the net to allow every company to “test the waters” before deciding whether or not to move forward with an offering, compared with the companies that are able to test the waters today, which are “emerging growth companies.”

Per the SEC’s definition, an emerging growth company is an issuer with total annual gross revenue of less than $1 billion during its most recently completed fiscal year.

The public now

Continue reading “The SEC is looking to make it easier for any company to test the IPO waters”

Invest in AI’s ethical future


This post is by David Riggs from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I spent a recent Saturday morning talking to a group of grade school kids about artificial intelligence. Many of them had never coded before, let alone heard of AI. During the session, one exercise required them to come up with ideas for how the AI they create would be used in the real world. I was struck by the kids’ genuine interest in creating AI solutions that would help people, rather than divide them. I left that classroom with renewed faith in the future of innovation — especially if industry can extend technology-focused career

Continue reading “Invest in AI’s ethical future”

FDA warning brings controversial young blood transfusion company to a halt


This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




On Tuesday, the FDA issued a warning to anyone who might be inclined to give their old bones a jolt with fresh blood harvested from the young.

The idea is pretty far from mainstream, even in Silicon Valley, where the ultra-wealthy have a keen interest in the cutting edge of life-extension science. Still, there’s apparently enough buzz around the practice that the FDA is warning consumers of “unscrupulous actors” who tout the benefits of infusing patients with plasma extracted from youthful donors while extracting literal blood money from their clients:

We have significant public health concerns about the promotion and use of plasma for these purposes. There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product.

Today, we’re alerting consumers and health care providers that treatments using

Continue reading “FDA warning brings controversial young blood transfusion company to a halt”

When surveillance meets incompetence


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Last week brought an extraordinary demonstration of the dangers of operating a surveillance state — especially a shabby one, as China’s apparently is. An unsecured database exposed millions of records of Chinese Muslims being tracked via facial recognition — an ugly trifecta of prejudice, bureaucracy, and incompetence.

The security lapse was discovered by Victor Gevers at the GDI Foundation, a security organization working in the public’s interest. Using the infamous but useful Shodan search engine, he found a MongoDB instance owned by the Chinese company SenseNets that stored an ever-increasing number of data points from a facial recognition system apparently at least partially operated by the Chinese government.

Many of the targets of this system were Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic and religious minority in China that the country has persecuted in what it considers secrecy, isolating them in remote provinces in what amount to religious gulags.

This database was

🤗

Continue reading “When surveillance meets incompetence”