Category: ceo

June 7, 2019 Off

Why identity startup Auth0’s founder still codes: It makes him a better boss

By Jill T Frey

If you ask Eugenio Pace to describe himself, “engineer” would be fairly high on the list.

“Being a CEO is pretty busy,” he told TechCrunch in a call last week. “But I’m an engineer in my heart — I am a problem solver,” he said.

Pace, an Argentinan immigrant to the U.S., founded identity management company Auth0 in 2013 after more than a decade at Microsoft. Auth0, pronounced “auth-zero,” has been described as like Stripe for payments or Twilio for messaging. App developers can add a few lines of code and it immediately gives their users access to the company’s identity management service.

That means the user can securely log in to the app without building a homebrew username and password system that’s invariably going to break. Any enterprise paying for Auth0 can also use its service to securely logon to the company’s internal network.

“Nobody cares about authentication, but … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Jeff Bezos wants to build the infrastructure for space startups

By Jill T Frey

At its re:Mars conference, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage today to be “interviewed” by Jenny Freshwater, Amazon’s director of forecasting. As any AWS machine learning tool could have forecasted, having an employee interview her boss didn’t lead to any challenging questions or especially illuminating answers, but Bezos did get a chance to talk about a variety of topics, ranging from business advice to his plans for Blue Origin.

We can safely ignore the business advice, given that Amazon’s principle of “disagree and commit” is about as well known as it could be, but his comments about Blue Origin, his plans for moon exploration and its relationship to startups were quite interesting.

He noted that we now know so much more about the moon than ever before, including that it does provide a number of resources that make it a good base for further space exploration. “The reason … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

EV Growth closes $200M fund to cover Southeast Asia’s Series B funding gap

By Jill T Frey

East Ventures has long been known as one of Indonesia’s longest-serving and most active seed-stage investors, but now it has officially moved up the food chain after it announced a final close of its growth fund at $200 million.

Called EV Growth, the fund is a joint venture between East Ventures, SMDV — the VC arm of Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas — and YJ Capital, which is associated with Yahoo Japan. The fund was first announced last year with a target of $150 million, but this final close has already surpassed that thanks to contributions from LPs that include SoftBank Group, Pavilion CapitaI and Indies Capital.

EV Growth is already active, with 40% of the fund deployed to date, according to East Ventures’ founding partner Willson Cuaca, who serves as partner for the new fund alongside Roderick Purwana from SMDV and  YJ Capital’s Shinichiro Hori.

“We thought ‘There’s a gap … Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

SoundCloud buys artist distribution platform Repost Network

By Jill T Frey

The past year has seen Spotify embark on a series of acquisitions to beef up its service, particularly on podcast content. Now it is the turn of SoundCloud, another European music startup — albeit one that had lost its way in recent years — to go deal-making: the Berlin-based company has picked up Repost Network, a service that helps artists get the most out of SoundCloud.

The deal is undisclosed and it actually was announced last week, although it was not widely reported — perhaps an anecdotal sign of SoundCloud’s position as a relative outsider in today’s streaming market.

Once a pioneer of online distribution for artists, it has watched Sweden-headquartered Spotify takes its service global with a total audience of over 200 million monthly listeners. The competition includes services from Apple and Google as well as the likes of Pandora, Deezer and Jay-Z-owned Tidal.

Soundcloud had its … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Uber’s first employee Ryan Graves resigns from board

By Jill T Frey

Ryan Graves, a longtime Uber employee and former chief executive officer, has resigned from the company’s board of directors, effective Monday.

The newly-public company announced the departure on Friday afternoon. Ron Sugar, the company’s independent chairperson of the board, wrote in the filing that Graves was key in shaping what Uber is today. 

“As a thoughtful and engaged director, Ryan has continued to add value to Uber, offering insights and judgments that have helped us navigate the ups and downs of the business as we have grown over the past decade,” Sugar wrote. “While this is a bittersweet moment, we accept his personal decision that this is the right time for him to step down. Dara and I are grateful for his contributions to Uber’s success and wish him all the best going forward.”

Graves, who currently leads the investment firm Saltwater Capital, joined Uber in 2010 after co-founder and … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Crypto exchange Binance prepares to add margin trading ‘soon’

By Jill T Frey

Binance, the world’s most prominent crypto exchange, says it is close to adding a much-anticipated margin-trading feature to its service following weeks of speculation.

The company tweeted confirmation of the upcoming feature in a screenshot that subtly teases the imminent arrival of margin-trading options. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (pictured above) first revealed the feature was headed to Binance during a live stream following a hack earlier this month that saw Binance lose around $40 million in Bitcoin.

TechCrunch understands that margin trading has been beta tested among select users. A Binance representative declined to comment on the specifics, but did confirm that margin trading will be available on Binance.com “soon.”

Margin trading, which lets traders use their balance as collateral to super-size their buying power, is seen by many as an important growth vector for … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Ikea invests in Livspace, a one-stop platform for interior design based in India

By Jill T Frey

Fresh from raising $70 million last year via big names including Goldman Sachs and TPG Growth, Livspace, an India-based startup that offers a one-stop-shop for interior design, has lured yet another marquee investor: Ikea.

The startup said today it has taken an undisclosed investment from Ingka Investments, the VC arm of Ikea parent Ingka Group, which operates 90 percent of Ikea’s retail footprint. Livspace CEO and co-founder Anuj Srivastava declined to provide a figure for the deal, but he told TechCrunch that the stake involved is a minor one while there is no plan to bolt a larger round on to this investment. Deal Street Asia first reported news of the deal.

“There is strong strategic and commercial potential,” Srivastava, a former Googler who started Livspace in 2015, said of the new investor. “This is an opportunity to create the best possible omnichannel experience for consumers.”

India is a … Read the rest

May 16, 2019 Off

YouTrip, a challenger bank in Southeast Asia, raises $25.5M for expansion

By Jill T Frey

Singapore-based startup YouTrip thinks consumers of Southeast Asia deserve a taste of the challenger bank revolution happening in the U.S. and Europe, and it has raised $25.5 million in new funding to bring its app-and-debit-card service to more parts in the region.

Challenger banks have sprung up in Europe in recent years. Unicorns Monzo, Revolut and N26 are among those that offer their customers a debit card linked to an app and various levels of banking services, including savings and overdrafts. Brex — another billion-dollar-valued startup — is bringing that approach across the pond to the U.S. market.

But what about Southeast Asia?

All the signs indicate this is a region where digital services can thrive. The number of internet users across its six main countries is larger the entire U.S. population, and online spending is tipped to triple to $240 billion by 2025. Already, the region has mega … Read the rest

May 15, 2019 Off

Alibaba returns to growth with revenue up 51% to $13.9 billion

By Jill T Frey

It’s business as usual for Alibaba after the Chinese e-commerce giant bounced back from a lackluster Q3 — which saw its slowest growth for three years. For Q4, the company saw revenue surge 51 percent year-on-year to reach 93.5 billion RMB, or $13.9 billion.

That revenue beat analyst expectations of 91.5 billion RMB, according to Barons, and net income came in at 23.38 billion RMB, or $3.48 billion.

Alibaba positions itself as the gateway to Chinese consumers, and it continues to grow. The company said its mobile monthly users — a metric it uses to measure shoppers — reached 721 million in March, an increase of 22 million in three months and 104 million over the last year. Annual active users were up 18 percent to 654 million and the company’s Chinese marketplaces saw GMV — the value of total goods sold — rise by 19 percent year-on-year … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks WWDC student program, coding initiatives and SAP

By Jill T Frey

For the past few years, Apple has been inviting student developers to attend its WWDC conference, which centers on development topics and software. A few students from this year’s batch are getting some more personal attention from Apple as it tries to raise awareness of the program and coding literacy via its Swift Playgrounds and other resources for students and teachers.

Most of those students, though, won’t get a surprise personal visit from CEO Tim Cook, which is what happened this week when Lyman High School student Liam Rosenfeld got to the Millenia Mall Apple Store in Orlando, Fla. Liam was there to participate, he thought, in an interview with myself and a local journalist from the Orlando Sentinel about his admission to the program.

As a surprise, and fresh off an appearance at the SAP Sapphire conference to announce an expanded partnership, Cook came to visit the store to … Read the rest