Category: api

June 7, 2019 Off

Fintech platform Synapse raises $33M to build ‘the AWS of banking’

By Jill T Frey

Synapse, a San Francisco-based startup that operates a platform enabling banks and fintech companies to easily develop financial services, has closed a $33 million Series B to develop new products and go after international expansion.

The investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital . Synapse — which recently rebranded (slightly) from “SynapseFi” — announced a $17 million Series A back in September 2018, so this deal takes it to $50 million raised to date.

The startup was founded in 2014 by Bryan Keltner and India-born CEO Sankaet Pathak, who came to the U.S. to study but grew frustrated at the difficulty of opening a bank account without U.S. social security history. Inspired by his struggles, Synapse, which operated under the radar prior to that Series A deal, is focused on democratizing financial services.

Its approach to doing that is … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

When it comes to elections, Facebook moves slow, may still break things

By Jill T Frey

This week, Facebook invited a small group of journalists — which didn’t include TechCrunch — to look at the “war room” it has set up in Dublin, Ireland, to help monitor its products for election-related content that violates its policies. (“Time and space constraints” limited the numbers, a spokesperson told us when he asked why we weren’t invited.)

Facebook announced it would be setting up this Dublin hub — which will bring together data scientists, researchers, legal and community team members, and others in the organization to tackle issues like fake news, hate speech and voter suppression — back in January. The company has said it has nearly 40 teams working on elections across its family of apps, without breaking out the number of staff it has dedicated to countering political disinformation. 

We have been told that there would be “no news items” during the closed tour — which, … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Microsoft extends its Cognitive Services with personalization service, handwriting recognition APIs and more

By Jill T Frey

As part of its rather bizarre news dump before its flagship Build developer conference next week, Microsoft today announced a slew of new pre-built machine learning models for its Cognitive Services platform. These include an API for building personalization features, a form recognizer for automating data entry, a handwriting recognition API and an enhanced speech recognition service that focuses on transcribing conversations.

Maybe the most important of these new services is the Personalizer. There are few apps and web sites, after all, that aren’t looking to provide their users with personalized features. That’s difficult, in part, because it often involves building models based on data that sits in a variety of silos. With Personalizer, Microsoft is betting on reinforcement learning, a machine learning technique that doesn’t need the kind of labeled training data typically used in machine learning. Instead, the reinforcement agent constantly tries to find the best way … Read the rest

April 29, 2019 Off

Facebook accused of blocking wider efforts to study its ad platform

By Jill T Frey

Facebook has been accused of blocking the ability of independent researchers to effectively study how political disinformation flows across its ad platform.

Adverts that the social network’s business is designed to monetize have — at the very least — the potential to influence people and push voters’ buttons, as the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data misuse scandal highlighted last year.

Since that story exploded into a major global scandal for Facebook, the company has faced a chorus of calls from policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic for increased transparency and accountability.

It has responded with lashings of obfuscation, misdirection and worse.

Among Facebook’s less controversial efforts to counter the threat that disinformation poses to its business are what it bills “election security” initiatives, such as identity checks for political advertisers. Even these efforts have looked hopelessly flat-footed, patchy and piecemeal in the face of concerned attempts to … Read the rest

April 26, 2019 Off

A new era for enterprise IT

By Jill T Frey

Amidst the newly minted scooter unicorns, ebbs and flows of bitcoin investments and wagers on the price of Uber’s IPO, another trend has shaken up the tech industry: the explosion of enterprise software successes.

Bessemer notes that today there are 55 private companies valued at $1 billion or more compared to zero a decade ago. Proving this isn’t just private market hype, enterprise cloud companies have well-exceeded $500 billion in market cap and are on a path to hit $1 trillion in the next few years.

Whether it’s the masterfully executed IPOs of Zoom and PagerDuty, the imminent Slack IPO, or the mega funding rounds of companies like Asana, Airtable, Front, and many others, the insatiable demand for enterprise cloud deals shows that … Read the rest

April 22, 2019 Off

The new new web

By Jill T Frey

Over the last five years, almost everything about web development has changed. Oh, the old tech still works, your WordPress and Ruby On Rails sites still function just fine — but they’re increasingly being supplanted by radical new approaches. The contents of your browser are being sliced, diced, rendered, and processed in wholly new ways nowadays, and the state of art is currently in serious flux. What follows is a brief tour of what I like to call the New New Web:

Table of Contents

  1. Single-Page Apps
  2. Headless CMSes
  3. Static Site Generators
  4. The JAMStack
  5. Hosting and Serverlessness
  6. Summary

1. Single-Page Apps

These have become so much the norm — our web projects at HappyFunCorp are almost always single-page apps nowadays — that it’s easy to forget how new and radical they were when they first emerged, in the days of jQuery running in pages dynamically built from templates on the … Read the rest