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Many Microsoft Azure services in northern Europe have been down for hours; Microsoft says it has identified the cause and is working to mitigate…

Chris Williams / The Register : Many Microsoft Azure services in northern Europe have been down for hours; Microsoft says it has identified the cause and is working to mitigate   —  We're three hours and counting into outage  —  Microsoft Azure has tumbled over in northern Europe, and services have effectively stayed …

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Startup Grind founders raise $6.4M for community event platform Bevy

The founders of entrepreneurial community Startup Grind have a startup of their own — Bevy , which announced today that it has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. The funding comes from Upfront Ventures, author Steve Blank, Qualtrics founders Ryan Smith and Jared Smith, and Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard. CEO Derek Andersen (who founded and runs both Bevy and Startup Grind with CTO Joel Fernandes) said that the product was created to deal with Startup Grind’s challenges as the team tried to organize events using a mix of Eventbrite, Meetup and Mailchimp, “It worked fine at first, but a few years later, we looked up and we had hundreds of cities, and we had maybe 500 people that were working on it, and it was too much,” Andersen said. “For the first time in many years, we started to get smaller instead of bigger. We were spending all of this time just running triage and maintenance on the platform.” So in early 2016, the team built its own event management software, with what Andersen said was “no intention of anyone else using it.” But eventually, he realized that other companies were facing similar problems, so he launched Bevy as a separate startup to further develop and commercialize the product. “We really focus on the smaller, community events,” Andersen added. “If you just do a conference, Eventbrite is great — I’ve hosted thousands of events on Eventbirte. But if you want to host five or 10 events a month or jack that number up anywhere above that, and you don’t want to hire 10 people, then that’s really what we’re perfect to do.” Usually, these are events where community members play a big role, or are even doing most of the organizing themselves. So beyond supporting tasks like creating event listings, sending out promotional emails and managing sponsorships, Andersen said one of Bevy’s big differentiators is the ability to precisely control which users are authorized to perform different roles at different events. In addition, Andersen said that with Bevy, companies can create fully branded experiences and get full access to the customer data around their events. Customers include Atlassian, Duolingo, Docker, Evernote and Asana. Andersen also suggested that the company is taking advantage of a broader shift in marketing, where company’s relying more on their own customers and communities. “All the best companies do it today,” he said

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Sources: Snap held talks to buy AR startup Blippar before Blippar closed its California office; SAP also considered acquiring Blippar’s computer…

Shona Ghosh / INSIDER : Sources: Snap held talks to buy AR startup Blippar before Blippar closed its California office; SAP also considered acquiring Blippar's computer vision team   —  - Snap held talks to buy Blippar just months before the augmented-reality startup shut down its Californian office in an urgent bid to cut costs.

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PayPal is shelling out $400 million in cash for this 18-year-old company that helps gig workers get paid

PayPal announced today that it’s paying $400 million in cash for Hyperwallet , an 18-year-old, Bay Area-based company that helps people and small businesses receive payments for products and services that they sell, including through the vacation rental platform HomeAway and Rodan & Fields, the multi-level marketing company that specializes in skincare products and employs an army of consultants to sell toners and the like. Hyperwallet interlinks cash networks, card schemes, and mobile money services with domestic ACH networks around the world to enable what it characterizes as “disruptively priced” and, as crucially, compliant mass payments. It isn’t clear as of this writing how much money Hyperwallet had raised over the years, though the WSJ notes that Primus Capital, the private equity firm, is a major shareholder. According to Crunchbase, the company has also received funding from the financial services company Raymond James. Hyperwallet was founded by Lisa Shields, an MIT-trained engineer who originally launched the company in Vancouver, where she last year founded a second company called FI.SPAN , which is an API management platform that aims to allow banks to quickly deploy new business banking products. Shields seemingly keeps a low profile compared with many founders. When she was presented with an Entrepreneur of the Year award by EY in 2015, she said, “I am honored and humbled, not to mention surprised.” (Hyperwallet has been led since 2015 by CEO Brent Warrington, who previously served as CEO of a company called SecureNet Payment Systems that was acquired.) As for why PayPal acquired it, it says it enhances its ability to provide payment solutions to e-commerce platforms and marketplaces around the world, noting in a release about the deal that marketplace sales accounted for more than 50 percent of global online retail sales last year. The acquisition is just the latest in a long string of companies that PayPal has acquired over the years. Just last month, it shelled out a whopping $2.2 billion to acquire the European payments company iZettle in an all-cash deal that’s believed to be PayPal’s biggest.

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Sources: AT&T in talks to acquire AppNexus, which operates one of the largest independent ad exchanges; source says AppNexus won’t sell for less than…

Alex Heath / Cheddar : Sources: AT&T in talks to acquire AppNexus, which operates one of the largest independent ad exchanges; source says AppNexus won't sell for less than $2B   —  AT&T is in talks to acquire the advertising company AppNexus, Cheddar has learned.  —  Privately-held AppNexus operates …

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VW Group and Ford Motor in early talks to develop commercial vehicles together

German automaker Volkswagen AG and Big Three U.S. automaker Ford Motor are considering teaming up on a range of projects, including jointly developing commercial vehicles, that would help them better compete in a global market that’s demanding better tech and more efficient, lower-emission vehicles. The two companies announced Tuesday they had signed an agreement to explore a strategic alliance.  Any alliance between VW and Ford will not involve the companies taking ownership stakes, Ford said in an announcement Tuesday. News of this possible alliance followed Ford’s announcement to build an electric and autonomous vehicle campus in one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods. The two automakers contend this potential strategic alliance will make them more competitive and better serve customers globally. Executives from VW and Ford are focused on an alliance to develop commercial vehicles, not necessarily cars and trucks built for consumers. Thomas Sedran, who heads up VW Group’s strategy division, noted that the companies have “strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already.” “To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances,” Sedran said in a statement. “This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025. The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness of both companies globally.” By commercial, this means vehicles in fleets, delivery vehicles and those used for commercial applications. The details end there. It’s unclear, for example, if this commercial vehicle alliance — if they come to agreement — would involve autonomous shuttles. This deal will most likely center on finding ways to efficiently build and sell commercial vans that must meet increasingly strict environmental rules. A number of cities such as London and Paris are tightening regulations for delivery vans and other commercial vehicles.

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