May 20, 2019 Off

Ikea invests in Livspace, a one-stop platform for interior design based in India

By Jill T Frey

Fresh from raising $70 million last year via big names including Goldman Sachs and TPG Growth, Livspace, an India-based startup that offers a one-stop-shop for interior design, has lured yet another marquee investor: Ikea.

The startup said today it has taken an undisclosed investment from Ingka Investments, the VC arm of Ikea parent Ingka Group, which operates 90 percent of Ikea’s retail footprint. Livspace CEO and co-founder Anuj Srivastava declined to provide a figure for the deal, but he told TechCrunch that the stake involved is a minor one while there is no plan to bolt a larger round on to this investment. Deal Street Asia first reported news of the deal.

“There is strong strategic and commercial potential,” Srivastava, a former Googler who started Livspace in 2015, said of the new investor. “This is an opportunity to create the best possible omnichannel experience for consumers.”

India is a … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Huawei responds to Android ban with service and security guarantees, but its future is unclear

By Jill T Frey

Huawei has finally gone on the record about a ban on its use of Android, but the company’s long-term strategy on mobile still remains unclear.

In an effort to appease its worried customer base, the embattled Chinese company said today that it will continue to provide security updates and after-sales support to its existing lineup of smartphones, but it’s what the company didn’t say that will spark concerns.

Huawei was unable to make guarantees about whether existing customers will continue to receive Android software updates, while its statement is bereft of any mention of whether future phones will ship with the current flavor of Android or something else.

The company, which is the world’s second largest smartphone vendor based on shipments, said it will continue to develop a safe software ecosystem for its customers across the globe. Huawei will also extend the support to Honor, a brand of smartphones it … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Want to save €200 on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019?

By Jill T Frey

Around here at TechCrunch we like to reward action with savings, and right now, the earlier you act the more money you save. Do we have your attention?

Here’s the deal. Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December, and you can’t buy passes until the official registration opens in June. But by taking one simple action now, you’ll save an extra €200 off the super-early-bird price for any pass. Just sign up for our mailing list before registration opens. Boom. Act now, save more. Simple.

Once you sign up, we’ll email you a discount code to use when you purchase your pass. Just think about what you’ll do with the €200 you saved — and all the cool stuff you’ll see and do at Disrupt Berlin.

Network with the more than 1,200 attendees — technologists, founders, investors, media, potential customers and possible employers. CrunchMatch, our free business match-matching … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Facebook’s latest account purge exposes Africa’s misinformation problem

By Jill T Frey

Facebook last week purged a network of hundreds of pages, groups and Instagram accounts it labeled as producing “coordinated inauthentic behavior” toward Africa.

The activity originated in Israel and was largely targeted toward Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia.

It was mostly political in nature and primarily paid for by Archemedes Group, a global political consulting firm, Facebook said.

This isn’t the first case of social media platforms used as vehicles for political manipulation in Africa. Cambridge Analytica, the controversial big-data actor employed in Brexit and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory, was active on the continent before and after both events.

On its recent Africa related deletions, Facebook said:

The people behind this network used fake accounts to run Pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement. They also represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians. The Page administrators

Read the rest
May 20, 2019 Off

Several chip companies, including Qualcomm and Intel, have reportedly stopped supplying Huawei after blacklist

By Jill T Frey

Several key suppliers are reportedly cutting off Huawei after the Trump administration added the Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone giant to a trade blacklist last week. According to Bloomberg, semiconductor companies Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom will no longer supply Huawei until further notice. This follows another report earlier today that Google has suspended some trade with Huawei, leaving it with access only to the open-source version of Android.

In addition to impacting Huawei’s business, the blacklisting has ramifications for telecom providers who are getting ready to launch 5G networks. In China, the three big telecoms (China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom), which are all heavily reliant on Huawei, may be forced to delay 5G rollout. Meanwhile, U.S. carriers, especially smaller ones, may have to spend millions of dollars replacing Huawei equipment they have already installed or looking for new suppliers.

In tweet last week from … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Google says its app store will continue to work for existing Huawei smartphone owners

By Jill T Frey

Google said today that existing users of Huawei Android devices can continue to use Google Play app store, offering some relief to tens of millions of users worldwide even as it remains unclear if the Chinese tech giant will be able to use the fully-functioning version of Android in its future phones.

Existing Huawei phone users will also be able to enjoy security protections delivered through Google Play Protect, the company said in a statement to TechCrunch. Google Play Protect is a built-in malware detector that uses machine learning to detect and weed out rogue apps. Google did not specify whether Huawei devices will receive future Android updates.

The statement comes after Reuters reported on Sunday that Google is suspending some businesses with Huawei, the world’s second largest smartphone maker that shipped over 200 million handsets last year. The report claimed, a point not addressed by Google, that future … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

TikTok owner ByteDance’s long-awaited chat app is here

By Jill T Frey

In WeChat -dominated China, there’s no shortage of challengers out there claiming to create an alternative social experience. The latest creation comes from ByteDance, the world’s most valuable startup and the operator behind TikTok, the video app that has consistently topped the iOS App Store over the last few quarters.

The new offer is called Feiliao (飞聊), or Flipchat in English, a hybrid of an instant messenger plus interest-based forums, and it’s currently available for both iOS and Android. It arrived only four months after Bytedance unveiled its video-focused chatting app Duoshan at a buzzy press event.

Screenshots of Feiliao / Image source: Feiliao

Some are already calling Feiliao a WeChat challenger, but a closer look shows it’s targeting a more niche need. WeChat, in its own right, is the go-to place for daily communication in addition to facilitating payments, car-hailing, food delivery and other forms of convenience.

Feiliao, … Read the rest

May 19, 2019 Off

These Johns Hopkins students are slashing breast cancer biopsy costs

By Jill T Frey

Over 2 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. And while the diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence for women in countries like the United States, in developing countries three times as many women die from the disease.

Breast cancer survival rates range from 80% or over in North America, Sweden and Japan to around 60% in middle-income countries and below 40% in low-income countries, according to data provided the World Health Organization.

And the WHO blames these low survival rates in less developed countries on the lack of early detection programs, which result in a higher proporation of women presenting with late-stage disease. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of adequate diagnostic technologies and treatment facilities, according to the WHO.

A group of Johns Hopkins University undergraduates believe they have found a solution. The four women, none of whom are over 21-years-old, … Read the rest

May 19, 2019 Off

Game of Thrones petition reaches 1M signatures ahead of finale

By Jill T Frey

Life is short, difficult and, most likely, ultimately meaningless. In this age of immediate fan service, it’s important to remember that you can’t always get what you want. That goes double when it comes to the final season of a beloved television series (I’m looking at you, The Wire). TV, like life, rarely has a satisfying ending.

But perhaps the internet — the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems — can fix that. Irritated Games of Thrones fans have taken to that bastion the bastion of fan annoyance (no, not that one) Change.org in a futile hope of getting a remake of the show’s eighth and final series to end thing they way they want.

As the petition has cruised past one million signatures, its creators have penned a prediction and spoiler note to let signers know where things stand. Tempering expectations for the possibility … Read the rest

May 19, 2019 Off

Google reportedly suspends select business with Huawei over U.S. ban

By Jill T Frey

The Trump administration Huawei ban is sure to have wide-ranging and long lasting effects for all parties. In the meantime, it seems, a number of those involved in the periphery are treading lightly in hope of not burning bridges on either side. Google has taken accidental center stage, in its role providing Android and a variety of apps for the embattled handset maker.

According to a new report from Reuters, the U.S. software giant has taken some steps toward disentangling itself. Word comes from unnamed sources, who say the company has suspended all businesses with Huawei, aside from those covered by open-source licenses. The list appears to include updates to Android and popular apps like Gmail.

From the sound of it, Google is still attempting to wrap its head around how to proceed with the matter. Huawei, too, is assessing its options. Given the complexity of smartphone hardware and Read the rest