May 21, 2019 Off

Biofourmis raises $35M to develop smarter treatments for chronic diseases

By Jill T Frey

Biofourmis, a Singapore-based startup pioneering a distinctly tech-based approach to the treatment of chronic conditions, has raised a $35 million Series B round for expansion.

The round was led by Sequoia India and MassMutual Ventures, the VC fund from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. Other investors who put in include EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, China-based healthcare platform Jianke and existing investors Openspace Ventures, Aviva Ventures and SGInnovate, a Singapore government initiative for deep tech startups. The round takes Biofourmis to $41.6 million raised to date, according to Crunchbase.

This isn’t your typical TechCrunch funding story.

Biofourmis CEO Kuldeep Singh Rajput moved to Singapore to start a PhD, but he dropped out to start the business with co-founder Wendou Niu in 2015 because he saw the potential to “predict disease before it happens,” he told TechCrunch in an interview.

AI-powered specialist post-discharge care

Read the rest
May 21, 2019 Off

Daily Crunch: Instagram influencer contact info exposed

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. Millions of Instagram influencers had their private contact data scraped and exposed

A massive database containing contact information for millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts was found online by a security researcher.

We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox. Shortly after we reached out, Chtrbox pulled the database offline.

2. US mitigates Huawei ban by offering temporary reprieve

Last week, the Trump administration effectively banned Huawei from importing U.S. technology, a decision that forced several American companies, including Google, to take steps to sever their relationships. Now, the Department of Commerce has announced that Huawei will receive a “90-day temporary general license” to continue to use U.S. technology … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Stein Mart embraces the enemy with installation of Amazon Lockers in nearly 200 stores

By Jill T Frey

Another brick-and-mortar retailer is turning to Amazon to help save its struggling business. Today, discount chain operator Stein Mart announced it will install Amazon Hub lockers in nearly 200 stores as soon as next month. The lockers are self-serve kiosks that allow Amazon shoppers to take advantage of in-store pickup and returns.

The deal will bring increased foot traffic to Stein Mart stores, potentially increasing its sales.

Meanwhile, Amazon gains the advantage of a brick-and-mortar presence for delivery and returns without having to invest in more real estate or making an acquisition, as it did with Whole Foods. The move also benefits Amazon’s battle with Walmart — the latter which has been quick to leverage its brick-and-mortar locations to aid its online shoppers.

Walmart stores, for example, offer self-serve pickup towers for online orders, curbside pickup for groceries and other household needs and other in-store pickup options. Last fall, … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

The Exit: Getaround’s $300M roadtrip

By Jill T Frey

In August of last year, Getaround scored $300 million from Softbank. Eight months later they handed that same amount to Drivy, a Parisian peer-to-peer car rental service that was Getaround’s ticket to tapping into European markets.

Alven Capital’s Jeremy Uzan

Both companies shared similar visions for the future of car ownership, they were about the same size, both were flirting with expanding beyond their home market, but only one had the power of the Vision Fund behind it.

The Exit is a new series at TechCrunch. It’s an exit interview of sorts with a VC who was in the right place at the right time but made the right call on an investment that paid off. [Have feedback? Shoot me an email at [email protected]

Alven Capital partner Jeremy Uzan first invested in Drivy’s seed round in 2013. Uzan joined Index Ventures co-leading a $2 million round that valued the company … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Bringing tech efficiencies to the agribusiness market, Silo harvests $3 million

By Jill T Frey

Roughly $165 billion worth of wholesale produce is bought and sold every year in the U.S. And while that number is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2025, the business of agribusiness remains unaffected by technology advancements that have reshaped almost every other industry.

Now Silo, a company that recently raised $3 million from investors led by Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital and including Semil Shah from Haystack Ventures, angel investors Kevin Mahaffey and Matt Brezina and The Penny Newman Grain Company, an international grain and feed marketplace, is looking to change that. 

Silo’s chief executive, Ashton Braun, spent years working in commodities marketplaces as a coffee trader in Singapore and moved to California after business school. As part of the founding team at Kite with Adam Smith, Braun worked on getting off the ground Kite’s software to automate computer programming, but he’d … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Select Bose smart speakers get Google Assistant

By Jill T Frey

A week after Sonos added long-promised Google Assistant integration to a pair of speakers, Bose is following suit. The company’s bringing the popular smart home AI to a trio of existing models, the Home Speaker 500 and Soundbar 500 and 700. The forthcoming, pint-sized Home Speaker 300 will be hitting the market with the feature built-in.

Like Sonos, you’ll get your standard array of Assistant queries, including music playback, Chromecast TV control and the ability to control connected home features like smart lighting. All of that will be accessible through the built-in speaker array. Like Sonos, the aforementioned speakers are also compatible with Alexa.

It’s clearly in the best interest of these third-party manufacturers not to have to play sides. For Google and Amazon, it means bringing their respective smart home ecosystems to a pair of well-regarded brands. Also like Sonos, setup happens in the company’s music app, which … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

As meal-kit melee stretches on, Sun Basket whips up $30M Series E

By Jill T Frey

Sun Basket, a provider of a healthy meal kit delivery service, has raised another $30 million in venture capital funding. The round, led by PivotNorth Capital, brings the company’s total raised to $125 million.

The Series E funding delays Sun Basket’s expected initial public offering once again. There’s been unsubstantiated talk of a Sun Basket float for quite some time; in fact, before Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, a pair of fellow meal-kit delivery businesses, completed IPOs, Sun Basket was the subject of exit rumors. Alas, we will have to wait a while longer before the company makes the big leap.

After all, Blue Apron has performed very poorly since going public on the New York Stock Exchange two years ago. Sun Basket chief executive Adam Zbar has been honest about the difficulties of running a meal-kit startup in a post-Blue Apron IPO universe, telling PitchBook his company’s Series … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

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

By Jill T Frey

Apple is updating its 15” MacBook Pro with new 8-core and 6-core processors and its 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar with 8th-gen quad-core processors. Apple says that these boosts mean the 15” MacBook Pro will run at double the speed of the previous quad-core models and hit 40% improvements over the 6-core MacBook Pro model.

Apple says this is its fastest Mac notebook ever.

Oh, and there is that keyboard update.

Speed bump

The $2,399 config of the 15″ MacBook Pro is getting a 2.6GHz 6-core i7 that boosts to 4.5ghz, a 400 MHz increase in turbo speed. The top end $2,799 config is now standard with an 8-core i9, two more cores and a 500 MHz increase over the current 6-core config.

The 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar gets boosted 2.4GHz quad-core processors, standard, which will turbo boost to speeds up to 4.7GHz. The configure-your-own option gets … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Backed by LG, AmazeVR is hoping to resurrect virtual reality’s consumer dreams

By Jill T Frey

For more than 100 years, entrepreneurs have come to Hollywood to try their luck in the dream factory and build an empire in the business of storytelling.

Propelled by new technologies, new businessmen have been landing in Los Angeles since the invention of the nickelodeon to create a studio that would dominate popular entertainment. Over the past five years, virtual reality was the latest new thing to make or break fortunes, and the founding team behind the Korean company AmazeVR are the latest would-be dream-makers to take their turn spinning the wheel for Hollywood fortunes.

Despite billions of dollars in investment, and a sustained marketing push from some of the biggest names in the technology industry, virtual reality still doesn’t register with most regular consumers.

But technology companies keep pushing it, driven in part by a belief that maybe this time the next advancement in hardware and services will convince … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Lyft adds more safety features including in-app emergency assistance, reminders to check the plate

By Jill T Frey

Earlier this spring, both Uber and Lyft introduced new safety features and policies following the death of a university student who was kidnapped and murdered after getting into a vehicle she believed to be her Uber ride. Today, Lyft is announcing an expanded set of safety features and programs, including those that help riders find and identify their ride, alert emergency services if they believe they are in danger, and communicate ride issues back to Lyft support and drivers.

It’s also introducing a new driver and rider education program.

In April, Lyft had begun the process of making its app and service safer with the implementation of continuous background checks for drivers — something Uber had in place since 2018. It also said it was enhancing its identity verification process for drivers to prevent driver identity fraud on its platform.

Uber, meanwhile, had last month introduced new system banners … Read the rest