May 22, 2019 Off

Daily Crunch: New MacBook Pros have a keyboard fix

By Jill T Frey

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. Apple announces new MacBook Pros with a keyboard fix, oh, and more powerful processors

Apple says it’s taking three steps to remedy the keyboard situation: It will be making a materials change to the MacBook Pro keyboard mechanism, it’s covering all butterfly keyboards across its notebook line in its Keyboard Service program and it’s improving the repair process in Apple Stores to make things faster.

The new laptops have more to offer than improved keyboards: Apple says the 15-inch MacBook Pro will run at double the speed of the previous quad-core models.

2. TransferWise now valued at $3.5B following a new $292M secondary round

While this is a secondary round (so no new cash is … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Reserve your demo table for TC Sessions: Mobility 2019

By Jill T Frey

Early-stage startup ingenuity is one of the driving forces shaping the rapid, radical changes taking place in mobility and transportation. Come July 10, TechCrunch will host more than 1,000 movers, shakers and makers in San Jose for TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 for a day-long exploration of the technologies and challenges upending both industries.

Talk about a targeted audience. It’s the perfect place and opportunity to strut your startup stuff. Simply book a demo table to position your company in front of some of the most influential founders, investors, technologists and media. Networking made simple. You’re welcome.

TC Sessions: Mobility is jam-packed with speakers, workshops and demos that showcase an astounding range of topics, technologies, products and insight. We’ll dig deep into the future of transportation and mobility — including new and once-unimaginable technologies that lie ahead. We’ll cover the promises, the problems and the potential. And don’t worry, we’ll cover … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Google’s new look for mobile search results puts site owners and publishers first

By Jill T Frey

Google today unveiled a new look for its mobile search results, which gives sites a way to showcase their own branding instead of looking like every other blue link. Before, the search results were blue and the source — a publisher’s site, for example — would appear below in a smaller, green font. Now, it’s the publisher who gets top billing. With the refresh, the source for the search result appears on top and includes the site’s own icon.

The revamp is subtle, but one that will likely please publishers as it gives them a way to stand out. After all, web searchers who are already familiar with the publisher’s site may choose to click through (or rather, tap through) to their link out of a personal preference — even if it’s further down on the results page.

In addition, the website branding can help web searchers better understand where … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

DJI is adding receivers to help drones avoid plane and helicopter collisions

By Jill T Frey

At an event in Washington, D.C. today, DJI unveiled plans to help avoid potentially life-threatening drone disasters. At the top of the list is the company’s promise to add AirSense technology to all of its models weighing more than 250 grams (~half a pound), which goes into effect January 1 of next year.

The feature senses Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals, alerting the drone pilot if the system is within range of a helicopter or airplane. The technology is transmitted from aircrafts, capable of being detected miles away — well before the drone pilot on the ground. DJI says this is the largest deployment of ADS-B to date.

The addition of the ADS-B receiver follows a number of drone-related issues around airports, including January’s Heathrow closure after one was sighted near its runways. The explosion of drone ownership has left many governments scrambling to enact laws aimed at avoiding close … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Roku launches new ad tool to compare linear and streaming audiences

By Jill T Frey

Roku has been getting more serious about its ad business, and today it’s launching a new tool designed to make advertisers comfortable with moving their spending over from traditional TV.

Alison Levin, Roku’s vice president of ad sales and strategy, pointed to data from Magna Global estimating that while over-the-top viewing accounts for 29% of all TV watch time, it only represents 3% of TV ad budgets. She argued that this is a wasted opportunity for advertisers because they’re struggling to reach cord-cutters and “light TV viewers.”

Why is ad spend lagging? The problem, Levin said, is “a lack of tools to understand that shift.”

“Streaming is mainstream — brands need to shift to OTT to become whole again and find the consumers they’ve lost on linear,” she said. “Roku as a platform is really uniquely positioned to solve this problem. We do understand and know the viewership pattern of … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Zendesk acquires Smooch, doubles down on support via messaging apps like WhatsApp

By Jill T Frey

One of the bigger developments in customer services has been the impact of social media — both as a place to vent frustration or praise (mostly frustration) and — especially over messaging apps — as a place for businesses to connect with their users.

Now, customer support specialist Zendesk has made an acquisition so that it can make a bigger move into how it works within social media platforms, and specifically messaging apps: it has acquired Smooch, a startup that describes itself as an “omnichannel messaging platform,” which companies’ customer care teams can use to interact with people over messaging platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and Messenger, as well as SMS and email.

Smooch was in fact one of the first partners for the WhatsApp Business API, alongside VoiceSage, Nexmo, Infobip, Twilio, MessageBird and others already advertising their services in this area.

It had also … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Facebook found hosting masses of far right EU disinformation networks

By Jill T Frey

A multi-month hunt for political disinformation spreading on Facebook in Europe suggests there are concerted efforts to use the platform to spread bogus far right propaganda to millions of voters ahead of a key EU vote which kicks off tomorrow.

Following the independent investigation, Facebook has taken down a total of 77 pages and 230 accounts from Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Poland — which had been followed by an estimated 32 million people and generated 67 million ‘interactions’ (i.e. comments, likes, shares) in the last three months alone.

The bogus mainly far-right disinformation networks were not identified by Facebook — but had been reported to it by campaign group Avaaz — which says the fake pages had more Facebook followers and interactions than all the main EU far right and anti-EU parties combined.

“The results are overwhelming: the disinformation networks upon which Facebook acted had more interactions (13

Read the rest
May 22, 2019 Off

TransferWise now valued at $3.5B following a new $292M secondary round

By Jill T Frey

TransferWise, the London-headquartered international money transfer service, is disclosing a new $292 million secondary round that sees investors value the company at $3.5 billion. That’s more than double the valuation TransferWise achieved in late 2017 at the time of its $280 million Series E round.

The new secondly funding — with no new cash entering TransferWise’s balance sheet as a number of existing shareholders sell all or a portion of their holding — was led by growth capital investors Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine Capital and Vitruvian Partners.

Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford expanded their holdings in TransferWise, whilst investment was also provided from funds managed by BlackRock.

In a call, TransferWise co-founder and Chairman Taavet Hinrikus told me the round was oversubscribed, too. The arbitrary figure of $292 million was simply the result of how much liquidity existing shareholders were willing to make available, and nowhere … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

A young entrepreneur is building the Amazon of Bangladesh

By Jill T Frey

At just 26, Waiz Rahim is supposed to be involved in the family business, having returned home in 2016 with an engineering degree from the University of Southern California. Instead, the young entrepreneur is plotting to build the Amazon of Bangladesh.

Deligram, Rahim’s vision of what e-commerce looks like in Bangladesh, a country of nearly 180 million, is making progress, having taken inspiration from a range of established tech giants worldwide, including Amazon, Alibaba and Go-Jek in Indonesia.

It’s a far cry from the family business. That’s Rahimafrooz, a 65-year-old conglomerate that is one of the largest companies in Bangladesh. It started out focused on battery manufacturing, but over the years its businesses have branched out to span power and energy and automotive products while it operates a retail superstore called Agora.

During his time at school in the U.S., Rahim worked for the company as a tech … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Famed founder Daphne Koller tells it straight: “With most drugs, we do not understand why they work”

By Jill T Frey

Daphne Koller doesn’t mind hard work. She joined Stanford University’s computer science department in 1995, spending the next 18 years there in a full-time capacity before cofounding the online education giant Coursera, where she spent the following four years and remained co-chairman until last month. Koller then spent a little less than two years at Alphabet’s longevity lab, Calico, as its first chief computing officer.

It was there that Koller was reminded of her passion for applying machine learning to improve human health. She was also reminded of what she doesn’t like, which is wasted effort, something that the drug development industry — slow to understand the power of computational methods for analyzing biological data sets — has been plagued by for years.

In fairness, those computational methods have also gotten a whole lot better more recently. Little wonder that last year, Koller spied the opportunity to start another … Read the rest