Month: May 2019

May 31, 2019 Off

Teams autonomously mapping the depths take home millions in Ocean Discovery Xprize

By Jill T Frey

There’s a whole lot of ocean on this planet, and we don’t have much of an idea what’s at the bottom of most of it. That could change with the craft and techniques created during the Ocean Discovery Xprize, which had teams competing to map the sea floor quickly, precisely and autonomously. The winner just took home $4 million.

A map of the ocean would be valuable in and of itself, of course, but any technology used to do so could be applied in many other ways, and who knows what potential biological or medical discoveries hide in some nook or cranny a few thousand fathoms below the surface?

The prize, sponsored by Shell, started back in 2015. The goal was, ultimately, to create a system that could map hundreds of square kilometers of the sea floor at a five-meter resolution in less than a day — oh, … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Slack narrows losses, displays healthy revenue growth

By Jill T Frey

Workplace messaging powerhouse Slack filed an amended S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday weeks ahead of a direct listing expected June 20.

In the document, Slack included an updated look at its path to profitability, posting first-quarter revenues of $134.8 million on losses of $31.8 million. Slack’s Q1 revenues represent a 67% increase from the same period last year when the company lost $24.8 million on $80.9 million in revenue.

For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2019, the company reported losses of $138.9 million on revenue of $400.6 million. That’s compared to a loss of $140.1 million on revenue of $220.5 million the year prior.

Slack is in the process of completing the final steps necessary for its direct listing on The New York Stock Exchange, where it will trade under the ticker symbol “WORK.” A direct listing is an alternative approach to the stock … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Facial recognition startup Kairos settles lawsuits with founder and former CEO Brian Brackeen

By Jill T Frey

Facial recognition startup Kairos, founded by Brian Brackeen, has settled its lawsuit with Brackeen following his ouster from the company late last year. In addition to forcing him out of the company he founded, Kairos sued Brackeen, alleging the misappropriation of corporate funds and misleading shareholders. In response, Brackeen countersued Kairos, alleging the company and its CEO Melissa Doval intentionally destroyed his reputation through fraudulent conduct.

Now, both Kairos and Brackeen are ready to put this all behind them. Both parties have dropped their respective lawsuits and reached a settlement, which entails continuing to recognize Brackeen as the founder of Kairos.

“We are pleased to be putting this episode behind us, and the opportunity to keep the business focused on growth,” Doval said in a press release. “We thank Mr. Brackeen for working towards a resolution, and wish him the best for his future endeavors.”

Brackeen tells TechCrunch he’s … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Only 72 hours left to save an extra €200 on Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Jill T Frey

The shot clock on serious savings is running out. You have just 72 hours left to sign up for the mailing list to receive €200 off the super early-bird price on any pass to Disrupt Berlin 2019. The official registration opens in three days, and once that happens, the clock runs out. Sad!

Here’s how our pre-registration deal works. Simply sign up for the Disrupt Berlin mailing list before registration officially opens and we’ll email you a discount code to use when it’s time to buy your passes. That translates into serious savings. You can buy an Innovator pass to Disrupt Berlin for as low as €245 + VAT. Are you a founder or co-founder of a company? Then you can score a Founder pass for as low as €145 + VAT.

We’re talking less than the price of a super early-bird ticket, and it’s the easiest … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky just raised another $200 million for his newest company, Tempus

By Jill T Frey

When serial entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky grows a company, he puts the pedal to the metal. When in 2011 his last company, the Chicago-based coupons site Groupon, raised $950 million from investors, it was the largest amount raised by a startup ever. It was just over three years old at the time, and it went public later that same year.

Lefkofsky seems to be stealing a page from the same playbook for his newest company, Tempus. The Chicago-based genomic testing and data analysis company was founded a little more than three years ago, yet it has already hired nearly 700 employees and raised more than $500 million — including through a new $200 million round that values the company at $3.1 billion.

According to the Chicago Tribune, that new valuation makes it — as Groupon once was — one of Chicago’s most highly valued privately held companies.

So why all … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Daily Crunch: Leap Motion waves goodbye

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. Once poised to kill the mouse and keyboard, Leap Motion plays its final hand

Leap Motion raised nearly $94 million for its mind-bending demos of hand-tracking technology, but the company was ultimately unable to find a sizable customer base. Even as it pivoted into the niche VR industry, the startup remained a problem in search of a solution.

Now the nine-year-old company is being absorbed into the younger, enterprise-focused UltraHaptics.

2. Foursquare buys Placed from Snap Inc. on the heels of $150M in new funding

Foursquare just made its very first acquisition, with Placed founder and CEO David Shim becoming president of the location data company.

3. What to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2019

The … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Targeted ads offer little extra value for online publishers, study suggests

By Jill T Frey

How much value do online publishers derive from behaviorally targeted advertising that uses privacy-hostile tracking technologies to determine which advert to show a website user?

A new piece of research suggests publishers make just 4% more vs if they were to serve a non-targeted ad.

It’s a finding that sheds suggestive light on why so many newsroom budgets are shrinking and journalists finding themselves out of work — even as adtech giants continue stuffing their coffers with massive profits.

Visit the average news website lousy with third party cookies (yes, we know, it’s true of TC too) and you’d be forgiven for thinking the publisher is also getting fat profits from the data creamed off their users as they plug into programmatic ad systems that trade info on Internet users’ browsing habits to determine the ad which gets displayed.

Yet while the online ad market is massive and growing — … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene

By Jill T Frey

Jumia may be the first startup you’ve heard of from Africa. But the e-commerce venture that recently listed on the NYSE is definitely not the first or last word in African tech.

The continent has an expansive digital innovation scene, the components of which are intersecting rapidly across Africa’s 54 countries and 1.2 billion people.

When measured by monetary values, Africa’s tech ecosystem is tiny by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards.

But when you look at volumes and year over year expansion in VC, startup formation, and tech hubs, it’s one of the fastest growing tech markets in the world. In 2017, the continent also saw the largest global increase in internet users—20 percent.

If you’re a VC or founder in London, Bangalore, or San Francisco, you’ll likely interact with some part of Africa’s tech landscape for the first time—or more—in the near future.

That’s why TechCrunch put together … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

An insider’s look into venture with Andreessen Horowitz’s Scott Kupor

By Jill T Frey

After a decade in the peculiar world of venture capital, Andreessen Horowitz managing director Scott Kupor has seen it all when it comes to the dos and don’ts for dealing with Valley VCs and company building. In his new book Secrets of Sand Hill Road (available on June 3), Scott offers up an updated guide on what VCs actually do, how they think and how founders should engage with them.

TechCrunch’s Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos will be sitting down with Scott for an exclusive conversation on Tuesday, June 4 at 11:00 am PT. Scott, Connie and Extra Crunch members will be digging into the key takeaways from Scott’s book, his experience in the Valley and the opportunities that excite him most today.

Tune in to join the conversation and for the opportunity to ask Scott and Connie any and all things venture.

To listen to this and all Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Amazon confirms acquisition of Sizmek’s ad server

By Jill T Frey

Amazon just announced that it’s acquiring Sizmek’s ad serving and dynamic content optimization businesses.

“Sizmek and Amazon Advertising have many mutual customers, so we know how valued these proven solutions are to their customer base,” Amazon said. “Sizmek has been searching for a buyer for Sizmek Ad Server and Sizmek DCO, and we are both committed to continuing serving their customers at the high standards they’ve come to expect.”

The company added that the Sizmek products will be operated separately from Amazon Advertising “for the time being.”

While Amazon’s ad revenue is tiny compared to its e-commerce business, it’s expanding quickly — the company’s “other” revenue, which is mostly advertising, grew 34% to $2.7 billion in its most recent quarter. The company is increasingly seen as the most likely challenger to Google and Facebook, the two biggest players in online advertising.

Sizmek, meanwhile, declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

BloombergRead the rest