Tech Crunch

Amazon’s Prime Rewards Visa cardholders now get 5% back at Whole Foods if they pay for Prime

 Amazon has already rolled out price cuts for Whole Foods shoppers as a result of its acquisition of the grocery chain. It has also rolled up its Treasure Truck deals service to Whole Foods locations, and began delivering Whole Foods groceries through Prime. Now, it’s offering Prime members 5 percent back at Whole Foods when they shop using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, too. The… Read More

Facebook will verify the location of U.S. election ad buyers by mailing them postcards

 Facebook’s global director of policy programs says it will start sending postcards by snail mail to verify buyers of ads related to United States elections. Katie Harbath, who described the plan at a conference held by the National Association of Secretaries of State this weekend, didn’t reveal when the program will start, but told Reuters that it would be before the… Read More

Engineering against all odds, or how NYC’s subway will get wireless in the tunnels

 Never ask a wireless engineer working on the NYC subway system “What can go wrong?” Flooding, ice, brake dust, and power outages relentlessly attack the network components. Rats — many, many rats — can eat power and fiber optic cables and bring down the whole system. Humans are no different, as their curiosity or malice strikes a blow against wireless hardware… Read More

Telegram has raised an initial $850M for its billion-dollar ICO

 It looks like Telegram’s billion-dollar ICO has reached its first milestone after the chat app company raised an initial $850 million, according to a filing. A document submitted to the SEC earlier this week states that the money was raised “for the development of the TON Blockchain, the development and maintenance of Telegram Messenger and the other purposes.” The security… Read More

The Rise of the Rest seed fund announces its first group of investments

 The Rise of the Rest seed fund’s first round of startup investments cover eight states that are usually overlooked by tech investors, including Kentucky, South Carolina and Ohio. The $150 million fund was launched in December by Steve Case and J.D. Vance, with backing from many of America’s most influential businesspeople, to support tech ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley, New… Read More

Chat app Kakao’s games business lands $130M from Tencent and others ahead of IPO

 Korea’s dominant messaging firm Kakao is back raising funds after its games business, a standalone unit that is headed for an IPO, pulled in $130 million (140 billion KRW) from Tencent and a range of other strategic investors. The company, which owns Korea’s top mobile messaging app and one of the country’s largest internet portals, operates a sprawl of business that… Read More

Alibaba invests another $1.3 billion into its offline retail strategy

 Alibaba has furthered its physical retail footprint after it invested another billion dollars into projects to develop its so-called “new retail” strategy which combines online and offline. The Chinese firm, the dominant e-commerce player in its country, gobbled up a 15 percent stake in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing for RMB 5.45 billion, or around $867 million, and pumped $486… Read More

Here’s a video of Elon Musk watching the Falcon Heavy take off

 This past week, as we watched SpaceX launch its absolutely massive Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, many of us wondered if it would make it off the launch pad. So did Elon Musk.
National Geographic just posted some incredible behind-the-scenes footage of the launch, capturing everything from about 15 seconds prior to takeoff to his moment of realization that the mission was a huge success. Read More

Cardlytics up 3% following IPO, raised $70 million

 Atlanta-based Cardlytics made its public debut on Friday, closing the day at $13.37, just a little above the IPO price of $13. The company sold 5.4 million shares, raising $70 million. Cardlytics works with financial institutions like Bank of America and 2,000 others to run cash back programs. It partners with brands across restaurant, retail, travel, grocery and home subscription categories… Read More

Toyota invests $69M in Japanese Uber rival backed by the taxi industry

 This week isn’t turning out to be great one for Uber in Japan. Two of its investors — Didi and SoftBank — are teaming up to launch a rival service, while one of its existing competitors has just landed a big cash infusion and highly influential backer after Toyota backed JapanTaxi. The auto giant said it will invest 7.5 billion JPY ($69 billion) into JapanTaxi, an… Read More

Naspers and Meituan invest $100 million in Indian delivery business, Swiggy

 The Indian food delivery startup Swiggy has raised $100 million in its latest round of funding. Led by the global investment and media conglomerate, Naspers, with participation from the Chinese e-commerce company Meituan-Dianping, the investment is an indicator that the Indian technology market is hitting its stride. The company said that it will use the funding to introduce new products… Read More

Day One Ventures launches fund which wraps VC and PR into one

 There is a clutch of new VC funds launched in the US every year, and but when you look at the stats around new funds started by women they are pretty dismal. A cursory glance at the figures from last year reveals that out of 153 funds founded in the US last year, only four were founded by women, and only two have gone on to raise money. Furthermore, women account for only seven percent of… Read More

Badi bags $10M to build out its room rentals platform in Europe

 Barcelona-based Badi launched a marketplace for urban room rentals in September 2015 with the goal of making it easier to find flatmates. The startup has now closed a $10M Series A investment, led by Spark Capital, with the aim of ramping up its presence across Europe. Read More

Nike ramps up membership benefits with Apple Music, ClassPass and Headspace unlocks for app users

 The top line is that Nike is rolling out some membership related updates to its app for iPhone and Android today. The updates will come in the form of new unlocks with partnerships like ClassPass, Apple and Headspace. There will also be a bunch of new unlocks coming for exclusive shoes and clothing. NikePlus Unlocks, the official name for these cards that appear in the Nike+ app Members… Read More

Ripcord CEO faces allegations of improper behavior

 Perry Coneybeer, who left college at age 19 to work full-time at corporate file digitizing startup Ripcord, is alleging improper behavior by Ripcord CEO Alex Fielding. Coneybeer also alleges she was fired in retaliation for reporting a fellow employee to human resources. In a Medium post published today, Coneybeer alleges Fielding told graphic, sexual stories involving other employees. One… Read More

Kazuo Hirai is standing down as Sony CEO

 Sony is getting a new CEO after it announced that CFO Kenichiro Yoshida will replace Kazuo Hirai as the head of the Japanese firm. The move will happen April 1, with Hirai shifting to the role of Chairman. “I have dedicated myself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, and am very proud that now, in the third and final year of our current mid-range corporate plan,… Read More

Nintendo is bringing Mario Kart to mobile

 In news that will excite every Nintendo fan on the planet, the Japanese gaming giant just announced that it will bring its hugely popular Mario Kart series to mobile. Nintendo teased the upcoming development of ‘Mario Kart Tour’ which it said will be released sometime before March 2019. A long wait, indeed, and for now we have no additional details. But, for most enthusiasts,… Read More

Spotify is testing a new playlist-based music app that’s a lot like Pandora

 Spotify is testing an app that sees it move firmly into Pandora’s territory.
‘Stations’ is a new Android-only app that is being piloted by the company in Australia — it was first noticed by app analytics firm Sensor Tower on Tuesday.
This app offers a ‘lean-back’ option to listen to music based on genres and managed playlists. In the description, Spotify… Read More

Waymo orders thousands of Pacificas for 2018 self-driving fleet rollout

 Waymo has ordered thousands of new Chrysler Pacifica minivans from FCA to help populate its autonomous ride-hailing fleet, which it will open to the public in 2018, the company says. The public launch of its Pacifica-based self-driving ride hailing service is set to occur sometime later this year, after Waymo starts testing its minivans without anyone behind the wheel, achieving true Level… Read More

Google confirms investment in Indonesia’s ride-hailing leader Go-Jek

 Google has confirmed its investment in Go-Jek, the hail-railing service that rivals Uber and Grab in Indonesia. TechCrunch reported the investment last week, which was made alongside China’s Meituan-Dianping and Singaporean sovereign fund Temasek. The trio were part of a final tranche of a $1.2 billion round that Go-Jek began negotiating on last April, with commitments from the likes… Read More

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. flamethrower is real, $500 and up for pre-order

 So that flamethrower that Elon Musk teased The Boring Company would start selling after it ran out of its 50,000 hats? Yeah, it’s real – and you can pre-order one now if you want need a ridiculous way to spend $500. Musk revealed the flamethrower on Saturday, after some digging tipped its existence late last week. The Boring Company Flamethrower is functional, too, as you can see… Read More

Crunch Report | MoviePass pulls out of 10 AMC theaters

Google experiments in local news, MoviePass pulls out of AMC theaters and the Kalanick-Benchmark lawsuit has officially been dismissed. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Crunch Report | CNN shuts down Casey Neistat’s Beme

Robinhood is going to let you buy and sell crypto soon, CNN shuts down Casey Neistat’s Beme and Sotheby’s acquires Thread Genius. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Tryb Group raises $30M to develop fintech platforms for Southeast Asia

 Tryb Group, a Singapore-based organization focused on fintech services in Southeast Asia, has landed a $30 million investment from Makara Capital. The investment comes from Makara’s $770 million joint fund with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which is focused on finding valuable IP in the tech and startup space. TechCrunch understands that Tryb is talking to a… Read More

US-China biotech startup XtalPi lands $15M from Google, Tencent and Sequoia

 Google continues to increase its presence in China after it joined Sequoia China and Tencent in a $15 million investment for XtalPi, a U.S.-China biotech firm that uses artificial intelligence and computing to accelerate the development of new drugs. The search giant remains blocked in China, but that hasn’t stopped it from making a series of moves in recent months. It is opening an… Read More

Japan’s SmartHR raises $13.3M led by 500 Startups

 SmartHR, a startup helping Japanese employers run HR and staffing smarter — because that’s of course its name — has raised a JPY 1.5 billion ($13.3 million) Series B round led by 500 Startups Japan. The startup is perhaps comparable to the likes of Zenefits and Gusto in the U.S. — it aims to drag Japanese HR departments into today’s digital era. “In Japan… Read More

Selfie app Snow, once a Snapchat clone, raises $50M from SoftBank and Sequoia China

 It’s been a while since we heard from Snow, the Snapchat clone app in Asia that Facebook once tried to buy, but today the company behind it has scooped up a $50 million investment from SoftBank and Sequoia China.
Snow was started by Naver, the Korean firm behind popular messaging app Line, and it had proven popular in Japan, Korea, China and other markets in Asia thanks to a focus on… Read More

The Chinese think Palo Alto is dumpy

 Good news! The great Raw Water Story of 2017 is finally over. Google tells me that searches went up ten-fold over the raw water craze, but thankfully, humans seem to have filtered out any more stories or follow ups. Silicon Valley can rest easy. But wait! There is another crisis brewing, and it isn’t the animal fecal matter in your algae water. Over the past few days, we’ve seen… Read More

Coinbase acqui-hires Memo.AI technical team management tool

 Coinbase, the white-hot cryptocurrency exchange, is bringing on more engineering talent to help it continue to capitalize on the crypto boom.
The company has announced that it’s bringing on the engineering team from Memo.AI, a two-year-old startup that built a Slackbot for helping technical teams manage notes and instructions.

Excited to announce the @MemoAIHQ team is joining Coinbase! Read More

Bitconnect, which has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme, shuts down

 Bitconnect, the lending and exchange platform that was long suspected by many in the crypto community of being a Ponzi scheme, has announced it’s shutting down. In a release on its website the platform said the shutdown is attributed to “continuous bad press” surrounding the platform, two cease and desist letters from both Texas and North Carolina’s securities boards,… Read More

Twitter hits back again at claims that its employees monitor direct messages

 Twitter is pushing back against claims made by conservative activist group Project Veritas that its employees monitor private user data, including direct messages. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Twitter representative said “we do not proactively review DMs. Period. A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict… Read More

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to Hulu on April 25 (and here’s a new trailer)

 The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale has been a home run for Hulu — the series has been embraced by awards voters, and it was one of the streaming service’s most-watched dramas last year. This weekend, Hulu has been working to build up anticipation for the 13-episode second season, with the release of the first images and the announcement that the show will return sometime… Read More

Gillmor Gang: Smart Speakers

Gillmor Gang Artcard The Gillmor Gang — Doc Searls, Frank Radice, Denis Pombriant, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 12, 2018.
G3: Last Hope — Mary Hodder, Halley Suitt Tucker, Francine Hardaway, Tina Hui, and Tina Chase Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 12, 2018.
@stevegillmor, @dsearls, @fradice, @kteare, @DenisPombriant
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor… Read More

Apple says iCloud China data migration notice sent to some users in error

 Apple says that an email sent to users with Apple IDs with locations not set to China that their iCloud data was being moved to a Chinese company’s servers was done so accidentally. The Cupertino tech giant had announced Wednesday that next month it will begin the process of moving Chinese users’ iCloud data to servers hosted in China by state-owned Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) as… Read More

GM and Cruise reveal their fourth-generation, steering wheel-free Cruise AV

 GM and Cruise are making progress on their plan to deploy autonomous vehicles on roads for the public: Today, it’s showing off its fourth-generation Cruise Autonomous Vehicle (AV), which comes just a few short months after it first revealed its third-generation vehicle. The fourth generation car is production-ready, according to GM’s Dan Ammann, who discussed the new vehicle on a… Read More

Sodexo acquires majority stake in French online restaurant FoodChéri

 Sodexo, a French publicly-listed food services and facilities management company, has acquired a majority stake in Paris-based online restaurant and food delivery startup FoodChéri. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, though François Paulus of Breega Capital, which backed the company’s €6 million Series A, tells me he is “happy with the return”. Read More

China’s Kunlun completes full buyout of Grindr

 Nearly two years to the day of its majority investment in Grindr, China-based tech firm Kunlun Group has fully acquired the gay dating app. Grindr is among the, if not the, world’s most popular LBQT dating app with a claimed 3.3 million daily users. Kunlun, which is best known for games but is part of a consortium that acquired Opera’s browser business, bought 60 percent of the… Read More

Wonderschool gets $2.1M to bring its early childhood programs to New York City

 Wonderschool, a network of in-home daycare and preschools, plans to open 150 programs in New York City after raising $2.1 million in new funding. The capital comes from non-profit investment firm Omidyar Network, Be Curious Partners, Rethink Education, Edelweiss Partners and Learn Capital and brings the startup’s total raised so far to more than $4 million, including a seed round… Read More

VW taps Nvidia to build AI into its new electric microbus and beyond

 Nvidia will power artificial intelligence technology built into its future vehicles, including the new I.D. Buzz, its all-electric retro-inspired camper van concept. The partnership between the two companies also extends to the future vehicles, and will initially focus on so-called “Intelligent Co-Pilot” features, including using sensor data to make driving easier, safer and… Read More

Google has planted its flag at CES

 Google’s here, and it’s planning something big. The company’s presence is impossible to miss as you drive down Paradise Road toward the Las Vegas Convention Center. Like much the rest of the show, the company’s parking lot booth is still under construction today, but the giant, black and white “Hey Google” sign is already hanging above it, visible from… Read More

Crunch Report | GoPro Cuts 200-300 Jobs

App revenue reached $60 billion in 2017, Travis Kalanick is selling 29 percent of his Uber shares and GoPro cuts 200-300 jobs. All this on Crunch Report. Read More