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Google refreshes its Ad Settings tool and Why this ad? feature to help users control information that is used to target ads and understand the ads…

Chris O'Brien / VentureBeat : Google refreshes its Ad Settings tool and Why this ad? feature to help users control information that is used to target ads and understand the ads that appear   —  Facing growing questions about how personal data is used to target advertising, Google today announced a series of updates …

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Marketing startup Influential raises $12M from WME and others

Influential announced today that it has raised $12 million in Series B funding. The funding came from existing investors Capital Zed, ECA Ventures, Paradigm Talent Agency, ROAR and Tech Coast Angels, as well as from Hollywood agency WME . Just a couple weeks ago, Influential said it was working with (and had raised money from) WME . The agency is the first to try out a new Influential product called Talent Pro, which gives agents access to social data around a broader pool of talent. Influential founder and CEO Ryan Detert said the product will allow WME — and, in the future, other agencies — to sweeten endorsement and promotional deals with more data and to “take an A-list celebrity… and now surround that person with 10 lookalike influencers who are not celebrities themselves.” One of Influential’s big selling points is its use of artificial intelligence (it’s a developer partner with IBM Watson) to help brands and marketers find influencers who would be a good fit for their campaigns. However, Detert acknowledged that selling access to social media influencers is starting to feel overhyped — as he put it, “People think of influencer marketing sometimes as a four-letter word.” But in Detert’s view, influencer marketing is just one “tactic” that Influential supports: “We consider ourselves more of social intelligence and activation company.” And in fact, Influential already offers a social intelligence product that helps customers get a broader understanding of things like the broader competitive landscape. Detert also said Influential is working to measure the impact of brands’ social media campaigns, so that when they pay an influencer to make a promotional post, they “can actually map back that not only the consumer saw it, but that they engaged with it to make a real-world decision — walking into a location, buying a product in a grocery store.” The company has now raised a total of $26.5 million.

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Colorado-based toy robotics startup Sphero raises $12M, with plans to raise $20M total, as it shifts focus to education after dozens of layoffs in…

Brian Heater / TechCrunch : Colorado-based toy robotics startup Sphero raises $12M, with plans to raise $20M total, as it shifts focus to education after dozens of layoffs in January   —  This year has been a rough one for Sphero.  The Colorado-based toy robotics startup kicked off the year with dozens of layoffs …

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Catch these biotech investors speaking at Disrupt SF (Sept. 5-7)

TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF (Sept. 5-7) will be one for the record books, with twice the attendees and twice the programming sessions compared to past Disrupts, which means we can tackle emerging, super exciting categories like biotech with both great speakers and a section of Start Up Alley devoted to biotech startups. (Pssst biotech founders…there is still time to win a free TC Top Picks exhibition spot in Startup Alley complete with three Founder Passes to take in all of Disrupt SF .   Apply here .) Today we’re delighted to announce a panel of three top biotech investors , who will share their perspectives on key in key trends biotech and where they are looking to make their next investments. Laura Deming is the founder and partner in the $26 million Longevity Fund,  a venture capital firm focused on biological research to reduce or reverse the effects of aging. Deming was accepted to MIT at age 14, but later dropped out to accept the $100,000 Thiel Fellowship and start a venture capital firm. Deming believes that before long we’ll retire the idea of growing old.  So far, Deming has backed  Unity Biotechnology ,  Precision Biosciences ,  Metacrine ,  Navitor , and  Alexo Therapeutics .  Nina Kjellson  is a general partner at Canaan Partners, where she  invests in biopharma and digital health companies that serve unmet needs. Kjellson serves as a mentor to Blueprint Health and Springboard Life Sciences and on the boards of Essential Access Health, and the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center. She holds a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University, and her recent investments  Annum Health , Dauntless , PACT Pharma , Tizona Therapeutics ,  and  Vineti.  Arvind Gupta is a general partner at  SOSV,  a $150 million early stage venture capital fund, where he founded IndieBio, a biotech accelerator based in San Francisco. IndieBio focuses on startups that will either touch a billion people or create a billion in value. Arvind received his B.S. in Genetic Engineering from UCSB and has invested in  like Memphis Meats, Synthex, Medel.AI and Catalog.  And that’s not all – we have a lot more coming in health and biotech, plus 23andMe’s Ann Wojcicki , whom we have already announced. Get your passes now !

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