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No-fees mobile bank Chime raises $70M Series C, valuing its business at $500M

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Chime, the San Francisco-based challenger bank known for its consumer-friendly features and lack of fees, has raised $70 million in Series C financing, led by Menlo Ventures. The round, which also included existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Cathay Innovation, Northwestern Mutual, Crosslink Capital, and Omidyar Network, brings the company to over $100 million in total funding to date and values the business at around $500 million.

The startup is one of several challenger banks gaining popularity with a younger, millennial audience who sees no need for a bank with physical branches, and who are sick of being penalized by hefty fees for things like overdrafts or dropping below a minimum balance – fees that take advantage of consumers at their most vulnerable points in their financial lives.

As Chime points out, traditional banks charged consumers over $34 billion in fees in 2017. Its service, on the other hand, drops the consumer-facing fees.

There are no monthly ..

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To become a public company, start operating like one early on

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

After their long post-financial-crisis slump, European tech IPOs are starting to rebound. Tech companies raised more money on European public markets between 2015-17 (€5.3 billion) than in the previous seven years combined. With venture capital having boomed in that time, that trend is set to continue: There is a generation of well-funded, fast-growing technology companies now eyeing the public markets as the platform for continued rapid growth. The pipeline is healthy. But what needs to be done to get ready for an IPO and, crucially, what comes next?

Money raised and market opportunity alone do not make for a public-company-in-waiting. You do not transform from a scrappy growth business into a tightly governed, transparent public company overnight. It has to be a gradual evolution, one which requires the right people, structures and mindset to be in place. Companies need to ask themselves not just if they want to pursue an IPO, but how exactly they plan to go about it, and how they w..

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Motiv’s fitness ring can help you find a lost iPhone

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

I was surprisingly impressed when I tested out Motiv’s fitness ring. Honestly, I’m not a ring wearer myself, but it’s nice to see a hardware start think outside the fitness band — and produce a surprisingly capable product in the process. The company’s also done a pretty decent job continuing to add features to the little wearable.

Back in April, the ring got Alexa functionality and Android support. This week, the company announced some additional features for Amazon’s smart assistant, along with the ability to use the device to locate a lost phone. That last bit is one of the more compelling additions to the ring since launch. If the lost iPhone is within bluetooth range, a few twists of the ring will set the handset ringing and vibrating until you find the thing.

As for Alexa functionality, users can now ask the assistant for more detailed fitness information, including active minutes, calories, sleep and steps. Motiv has also added new social functionality to the ring, in the for..

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Weights & Biases raises $5M to build development tools for machine learning

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Machine learning is one of those buzzwords that nearly every tech company likes to throw around nowadays — but according to Lukas Biewald, it represents a genuinely new approach to programming.

“Software has eaten a lot of the world, and machine learning is eating software,” Biewald said.

In his view, there are “fundamental” differences between the two approaches: “One important difference is if all you have is the code you used to train the program, you don’t really know what happened … If I had all the code that was used to train a self-driving car algorithm but I don’t have the data, I don’t know what went down.”

Along with Chris Van Pelt, Biewald previously founded CrowdFlower (now known as Figure Eight), which launched nearly a decade ago at the TechCrunch 50 conference, and which has created tools for training artificial intelligence.

Biewald (who I’ve known since college) and Van Pelt, plus former Google engineer Shawn Lewis, have now started a new company called Weights and..

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Now Russia wants Zuckerberg to testify for them, too

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Lawmakers in Russia want Mark Zuckerberg to testify before them, as well. The Moscow Timesreports that during Wednesday’s session of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, a senator proposed summoning Zuckerberg. In response, Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said that she would “issue an order,” and that they would “organize his arrival.”

Zuckerberg testified before the European Parliament two weeks ago, and before two separate Congressional committees in the US last month. The American legislators repeatedly brought up the specter of Russian influence in the 2016 election through Facebook and other social media.

Russian senators want Zuckerberg to testify on topics such as information security, privacy, and the “dissemination of…

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Microsoft’s Windows shakeup continues internally

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Microsoft announced a significant reorganization of its Windows business back in March. Windows chief Terry Myerson is departing the company in the summer, and Microsoft is slicing Windows into two teams. The new division that’s responsible for “Experiences & Devices,” is now being refined even further in more changes at Microsoft this week. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that Joe Belfiore will now be responsible for the Windows Insider testers program (led by Dona Sarkar), Microsoft’s web platform work (Edge), partner applications, and Microsoft’s design work.

The organizational changes mean that Joe Belfiore, who has been the face of Windows Phone in the past, is taking on more of the important consumer-facing…

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Alibaba made a driverless robot that runs 9 mph to deliver packages

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Alibaba has just announced a couple of tech innovations that hint at a future with even more delivery conveniences. The company showed off a driverless delivery robot that will help ship goods purchased online to customers more conveniently and a storage locker with facial recognition that promises to keep food warm.

The robot is called the G Plus, and it’s currently being road-tested at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, a major city located in eastern China. The G Plus robot can carry multiple packages of different sizes, and it has extended stamina to travel longer distances compared to its predecessors.

The G Plus’ loading box can change sizes depending on the package it needs to deliver, and Alibaba says the robot can also deliver…

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Google’s Area 120 incubator aims to improve your NYC subway commute with Pigeon

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

There’s a new app coming out of Google’s Area 120 incubator that could help New York City subway commuters navigate the ever-growing number of delays.

While the Pigeon app is already live on the Apple App store, it currently requires an invite code to access, so I wasn’t able to try it out myself.

However, the Pigeon website describes it as a way for users save their favorite routes, then get recommendations on which route to take on a given day based on delays and crowds reported by other users. It’s almost like a transit-oriented version of Google-owned navigation app Waze.

“After years of living in New York City and commuting on the subway, the Pigeon team knows first-hand that public transit can be frustratingly unpredictable,” the website says. “So when we started this project, we decided to create a product that lets subway riders help each other avoid delays, crowds, and incidents that make can make commuting so stressful.”

As a New Yorker myself, I mostly rely on Google Map..

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Roblox follows Minecraft into the education market

May 31, 2018 Alex 0

Roblox, the massively multiplayer online game favored by the under 13 crowd, is following in Minecraft’s footsteps with a move into the education market. The company this morning announced a new education initiative, Roblox Education, that will offer a free curriculum to educators, along with international summer coding camps, and a free online “Creator Challenge” in partnership with Universal Brand Development, which will see kids building Roblox games inspired by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

The gaming company has been around for many years, but only recently reached a critical mass where it was ready to talk about its numbers. Today, Roblox sees over 60 million monthly active users, and its creator community building new worlds for kids to explore has doubled to 2 million this year from the year prior, it said earlier this year.

Roblox gets kids coding by hooking them on the game itself when they’re young – around elementary school age. By middle school, users are downloading ..