Month: May 2019

May 31, 2019 Off

Touring Factory Berlin, Europe’s ‘largest club for startups’

By Jill T Frey

According to the startups at Factory Berlin, it’s not just another co-working space. After all, the company took its name from Andy Warhol’s famous factory in New York City, and it describes itself as “Europe’s largest club for startups.”

Late last year, we toured Factory Berlin’s five-story, 14,000-square-meter location in Görlitzer Park. Yes, it’s a building where startups can rent workspace, but as part of the tour, we had a chance to talk to several entrepreneurs, and everyone described it as a real community.

“Being part of the community, to us, means not isolating ourselves from the outer world,” said Code University founder Tom Bachem. “Or especially in Berlin, from the great startup ecosystem that we have — but instead, really deeply integrating into it.”

Similarly, Neel Popat of Donut pointed to the Factory’s blockchain events and showcases as a major benefit, while Kip Carter of New School said … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

NYC’s contactless subway turnstiles open today with Apple, Google, Samsung and Fitbit Pay support

By Jill T Frey

After weeks of sporting “Coming Soon” screens, the New York City MTA’s OMNY pilot finally launched today. The system augments the city’s MetroCard swipes with new contactless screens that work with contactless prepaid credit and debit cards and a variety of different smart devices.

We’ve highlighted the latter already. For starters, the system will work with Apple, Google, Samsung and Fitbit Pay, which means it will be open to a large range of smartphones and wearables.

Contactless cards are those with NFC chips sporting a four-bar wave symbol that are already available from a number of big banks and credit card companies. Per the MTA’s site, the list of partners includes Chase, Visa, Mastercard and American Express, which should cover a majority of card holders, one way or another.

That’s a big no for Diners Club, Japan Credit Bureau and China UnionPay. Also, PIN-protected cards don’t currently work, nor … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Security startup Bugcrowd on crowdsourcing bug bounties: ‘Cybersecurity is a people problem’

By Jill T Frey

For a cybersecurity company, Bugcrowd relies much more on people than it does on technology.

For as long as humans are writing software, developers and programmers are going to make mistakes, said Casey Ellis, the company’s founder and chief technology officer in an interview TechCrunch from his San Francisco headquarters.

“Cybersecurity is fundamentally a people problem,” he said. “Humans are actually the root of the problem,” he said. And when humans made coding mistakes that turn into bugs or vulnerabilities that be exploited, that’s where Bugcrowd comes in — by trying to mitigate the fallout before they can be maliciously exploited.

Founded in 2011, Bugcrowd is one of the largest bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure companies on the internet today. The company relies on bug finders, hackers, and security researchers to find and privately report security flaws that could damage systems or putting user data at risk.

Bugcrowd acts as … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Spotify is building shared-queue Social Listening

By Jill T Frey

Want to rock out together even when you’re apart? Spotify has prototyped an unreleased feature called “Social Listening” that lets multiple people add songs to a queue they can all listen to. You just all scan one friend’s QR-style Spotify Social Listening code, and then anyone can add songs to the real-time playlist. Spotify could potentially expand the feature to synchronize playback so you’d actually hear the same notes at the same time, but for now it’s a just a shared queue.

Social Listening could give Spotify a new viral growth channel, as users could urge friends to download the app to sync up. The intimate experience of co-listening might lead to longer sessions with Spotify, boosting ad plays or subscription retention. Plus, it could differentiate Spotify from Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal and other competing streaming services.

A Spotify spokesperson tells TechCrunch that “We’re always testing new products and … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Tinder launches a new à la carte option, Super Boost, only for subscribers

By Jill T Frey

Tinder this morning announced a second, more premium version of its most popular à la carte purchase, Boost, with the launch of Super Boost — an upgrade only offered to Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold premium subscribers. The idea with the new product is to extract additional revenues out of those users who have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for the dating app, while also offering others another incentive to upgrade to a paid Tinder subscription.

Similar to Boost, which for 30 minutes puts you on top of the stack of profiles shown to potential matches, Super Boost also lets you cut the line.

Tinder says the option will be shown to select Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold subscribers during peak activity times, and only at night. Once purchased and activated, Super Boost promises the chance to be seen by up to 100 times more potential matches. By … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Microsoft warns users to patch as exploits for ‘wormable’ BlueKeep bug appear

By Jill T Frey

Microsoft has issued its second advisory this month urging users to update their systems to prevent a re-run of attacks similar to WannaCry.

The software giant said Thursday that the recently discovered “wormable” vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services for Windows can allow attackers to remotely run code on a vulnerable computer — such as malware or ransomware. Worse, the vulnerability allows it to spread to other computers on the same network “in a similar way as the WannaCry malware,” which spread across the globe in 2017 causing billions of dollars in damage.

A patch was released earlier this month on Microsoft’s usual patch release day — its so-called Patch Tuesday. And though there are no signs of an active attack yet, “this does not mean that we’re out of the woods,” the company said.

Microsoft said it’s “confident” that an exploit exists for the vulnerability, putting at risk close to Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Goodbye BlackBerry Messenger

By Jill T Frey

Just over a month ago, Emtek announced the end of BlackBerry Messenger for consumers. The once-mighty messaging service had a good run, outstripping the popularity of its hardware namesake.

Launched in 2005, licensing rights for the service were acquired by Indonesia-based tech conglomerate Emtek 11 years later. For many years, BBM was considered BlackBerry’s (nee Research in Motion) strongest product, with some loyalists eschewing Android and iOS devices before it was finally ported over to those operating systems in 2013.

But competition ultimately proved too much. Technology and the world moved away from BBM and BlackBerry at large. The rewards, it seems, weren’t worth the resources.

“We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date,” Emtek wrote in a blog post last month. “The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Is the tech press too positive in its coverage of startups?

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

It’s our first week in the new TechCrunch podcast studio, or it was for Kate Clark and Chris Gates. Alex Wilhelm will be back in SF next week. For now, we fired up the mics and dug into what was a veritable barrage of news.

First, Paul Graham’s contentious comments. The co-founder of Y Combinator tweeted some criticism of the tech press on Thursday; naturally, Kate and Alex had a few thoughts. In summary, Graham doesn’t seem to understand what it is we tech journalists do, and that’s a problem.

Next … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Following US Huawei ban, China threatens own blacklist for foreign firms

By Jill T Frey

Odds of the U.S. and China cooling off their trade war further diminished on Friday after the world’s most populous nation said it would create a list of “unreliable” foreign firms of its own.

Gao Feng, a spokesman of China’s commerce ministry, said today that the nation will create an “entity list” that will include, in part, foreign companies that have stopped or curtailed their businesses with Chinese firms.

“Foreign enterprises, organisations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract’s spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of ‘unreliable entities’,” he was quoted as saying by state-owned local media.

The retaliation comes weeks after the U.S. Commerce Department enlisted Huawei and 68 affiliates in an entity list over national security concerns, … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Less than two weeks left: apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2019

By Jill T Frey

Would you like $100,000 to fatten the bottom line of your early-stage startup? Could your company benefit from global media coverage and investor attention? Do you have what it takes to compete against the very best early-stage startup founders?

Take your resounding “yes” and act quickly, because you have less than two weeks to apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt San Francisco 2019 on October 2-4.

Since 2007, our epic Startup Battlefield pitch competition has launched 857 companies that have raised more than $8 billion in funding and generated 109 exits. If you make the cut, you’ll follow in the footsteps of some pretty legendary companies, including Vurb, Dropbox, Mint, Yammer and more.

It won’t cost you a thing to apply to or participate in Startup Battlefield. And that includes free pitch coaching from Battlefield-tested TechCrunch editors. But first things first. Those editors will vet every application looking for roughly … Read the rest