Day: June 4, 2019

June 4, 2019 Off

VCs bet $12M on Troops, a Slackbot for sales teams

By Jill T Frey

Slack wants to be the new operating system for teams, something it has made clear on more than one occasion, including in its recent S-1 filing. To accomplish that goal, it put together an in-house $80 million venture fund in 2015 to invest in third-party developers building on top of its platform.

Weeks ahead of its direct listing on The New York Stock Exchange, it continues to put that money to work.

Troops is the latest to land additional capital from the enterprise giant. The New York-based startup helps sales teams communicate with a customer relationship management tool plugged directly into Slack. In short, it automates routine sales management activities and creates visibility into important deals through integrations with employee emails and Salesforce.

Troops founder and chief executive officer Dan Reich, who previously co-founded TULA Skincare, told TechCrunch he opted to build a Slackbot rather than create an independent … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Dilution: The good, the bad and the ugly

By Jill T Frey

Since 2013, SparkLabs Group has invested in more than 230 companies, and my general advice to our founders and portfolio companies hasn’t changed: I always tell them not to overthink valuation, know what they need in terms of capital for their seed round and how there is “good dilution” and “bad dilution.” Whether your dilution ends up being good or bad (or ugly) generally depends on how well you execute.

To solidify my advice, I sometimes go through the math of possible seed rounds and how future rounds can play out. To keep the discussion simple and focus on my core points, I keep the amount of investment the same and assume … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Sequoia-backed Whole Biome wants to heal your gut with medical-grade probiotics

By Jill T Frey

Whole Biome has pulled in $35 million in Series B financing from a list of investing titans, including Sequoia, Khosla, True Ventures, the Mayo Foundation and AME Ventues — just to name a few. The goal? To heal what ails you using microscopic bugs.

Medical science has caught on in the last few years about the importance of gut health using these bugs (also known as probiotics). Now startups are pitching in using venture money to come up with new and novel ideas.

“We’re at a unique point in time as the field of microbiome biology converges with enabling cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatics that will open up a whole new world of innovative health products,” said Colleen Cutcliffe, Whole Biome’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Cutliffe, who hails from DNA sequencing company Pacific Biosciences, along with her partners Jim Bullard and John Eid, built a platform able to compute information … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

How Kubernetes came to rule the world

By Jill T Frey

Open source has become the de facto standard for building the software that underpins the complex infrastructure that runs everything from your favorite mobile apps to your company’s barely usable expense tool. Over the course of the last few years, a lot of new software is being deployed on top of Kubernetes, the tool for managing large server clusters running containers that Google open-sourced five years ago.

Today, Kubernetes is the fastest growing open-source project, and earlier this month, the bi-annual KubeCon+CloudNativeCon conference attracted almost 8,000 developers to sunny Barcelona, Spain, making the event the largest open-source conference in Europe yet.

To talk about how Kubernetes came to be, I sat down with Craig McLuckie, one of the co-founders of Kubernetes at Google (who then went on to his own startup, Heptio, which he sold to VMware); Tim Hockin, another Googler who was an early member on … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Apple’s new Health feature tracks unsafe headphone volumes

By Jill T Frey

According to recent numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly half of people aged 12-35 are at risk for hearing loss. That’s due in no small part to the explosive growth in “personal listening devices” like smartphones. Young people are cranking up the volume on their headphones and could be doing irreparable damage to their hearing in the process.

One of the health features Apple didn’t get around to discussing onstage yesterday tracks headphone volume levels over time. The feature, which is available as part of the Health app, is able to track listening levels on calibrated and MFi headphones (including AirPods, Beats and the like). That information will be logged as either “OK” or “Loud” based on guidance from the WHO. 

The feature joins the new Noise app, which uses the Apple Watch’s built-in microphones to measure ambient noise. That app will send notifications if sound levels reach Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

KLM Airlines wants to help build a more efficient jet with in-wing seating

By Jill T Frey

Air travel accounts for a significant chunk of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, and the amount of air travel has risen steadily over the past few decades, with emissions from aviation predicted to grow significantly through 2020 and beyond. Electric passenger planes are in the works, but unlikely to replace our workhorse passenger jets any time soon — which is why efforts like a new type of conventional-fuel aircraft are being backed by KLM Airlines.

The new aircraft design was conceived by designer Justus Benad and is being further realized by a team of researchers at the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology, per CNN. The look of the aircraft is clearly different from the start, ditching the typical cylindrical tube main fuselage for a “squat slice of pizza” look that extends the body through the wings of the plane.

This beefed-up core holds passengers, fuel and cargo, … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Time is running out on the biggest Disrupt SF 2019 savings

By Jill T Frey

Here’s an important reminder to all the shoe-string startups, frugal founders, budget-minded makers and, well, anyone else who loves to save a buck. You have two weeks left to reap the biggest savings on passes to Disrupt San Francisco 2019.

We offer passes to suit every budget and, depending on the type of pass you buy, the super early-bird pricing can save you up to $1,800. But that opportunity to save big disappears on June 21 at precisely 11:59 p.m. (PT). Procrastination is not your friend. Be a super early bird, buy your pass today and save yourself some serious dough. Plus, you can lock in this super-low price but spread your payments for the event over time by selecting the payment plan option during checkout.

Now get ready to experience all the opportunity, innovation and inspiration that TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt event offers. We expect more than 10,000 attendees … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

With antitrust investigations looming, Apple reverses course on bans of parental control apps

By Jill T Frey

With congressional probes and greater scrutiny from federal regulators on the horizon, Apple has abruptly reversed course on its bans of parental control apps available in its app store.

As reported by The New York Times, Apple quietly updated its App Store guidelines to reverse its decision to ban certain parental control apps.

The battle between Apple and certain app developers dates back to last year when the iPhone maker first put companies on notice that it would cut their access to the app store if they didn’t make changes to their monitoring technologies.

The heart of the issue is the use of mobile device management (MDM) technologies in the parental control apps that Apple has removed from the App Store, Apple said in a statement earlier this year.

These device management tools give to a third party control … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Daily Crunch: Everything Apple announced at WWDC

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. Here’s everything Apple just announced at the 2019 WWDC Keynote

The keynote was an epic two-and-a-half hours long, but unlike TC’s editorial staff, you don’t have to sit through the whole thing — we’ve got a comprehensive rundown for you right here.

The announcements include a dark mode in iOS 13, an iPad-specific version of iOS and the end of iTunes (which is being split into Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV).

2. Apple is now the privacy-as-a-service company

In addition to the announcements mentioned above, Apple also unveiled a unified ID platform, illustrating how the company’s approach to privacy will mesh with its ongoing transformation into a services company.

3. Fitness startup Mirror Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Verified Expert Growth Marketing Agency: Bell Curve

By Jill T Frey

Bell Curve founder Julian Shapiro describes his team as talented growth marketers who have a long tail expertise of various channels and who aren’t afraid to play part-time therapists. As an agency, they’re comfortable grounding founder expectations by explaining “No, virality isn’t a dependable growth strategy,” but “Hey, we can come up with a better strategy together.”

Bell Curve, the agency, also runs Demand Curve, a remote growth marketing training program that teaches students (and marketing professionals) the ins and outs of performance marketing.

For a glimpse of how Bell Curve thinks about growth marketing, check out Julian’s guest posts about how startups can actually get content marketing to work and how founders can hire a great growth marketer.

What makes Bell Curve different:

“Bell Curve runs a growth bootcamp which we took in February. It radically improved our growth rate, gave us access to enough data to experiment

Read the rest