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Voyage open-sources autonomous driving safety practices

Voyage, the self-driving car spinout from Udacity, is open-sourcing its approach to autonomous driving safety. This comes at a time when autonomous driving programs are under intense scrutiny following two fatal crashes — one involving Tesla’s Autopilot and the other one involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona . Meanwhile, Voyage has already successfully deployed five Level 4 self-driving vehicles in retirement communities in California and Florida . Dubbed Open Autonomous Safety , the initiative aims to help autonomous driving startups implement better safety testing practices. Companies looking to access the documents, safety procedures and test code can do so via a GitHub repository. “Each and every autonomous vehicle startup today has to define their own safety programs, and we think that is dangerous,” Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron tweeted earlier today. Version one includes scenario testing, functional safety, autonomy assessment and a testing toolkit. Later this year, OAS will release driver training material, additional scenarios and fault injection code and tests. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the above currently entails: Scenario testing : Looks at fundamental questions, like how self-driving cars behave around pedestrians and when cars back out of driveways. Functional safety : Helps to ensure safety without a driver present. Autonomy assessment : Validates whether or not car is moving in the right direction “and how we know that we are solving the right problems,” Cameron wrote in a blog post. Testing toolkit : A library of traffic, roadway and vehicle assets

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Popular crypto wallet MEW hit by DNS attack that drained some users’ accounts

There is concern, tears and lost money in the world of crypto once again after MyEtherWallet (MEW), one of the most popular wallets on the internet, was hit by a DNS hack that saw some users lose their cryptocurrency. MEW said in a statement that “a couple of Domain Name System registration servers were hijacked around 12PM UTC 24 April to redirect users to a phishing site.” Not all visitors to the site during the hijack were impacted, but MEW said that “a majority” of those who were had been using Google’s DNS. “We are currently in the process of verifying which servers were targeted to help resolve this issue as soon possible,” the company added, confirming that it has since secured its website. The company recommends those who had used Google DNS to switch to Cloudflare’s . Wikipedia, country-specific versions of Microsoft, Google and PayPal and even banks have been hit by similar attacks before. An incident like this doesn’t compromise the site directly, but, in the case of MEW, it led some users of the service to insecure websites that aren’t MEW. From there, those who entered private key information without realizing they had been phished risked having their data snagged by the attackers on the other side. With that information, the attackers could gain access to their account and drain its contents. (Note: this is a very good reason why people are advised to never enter private keys manually, and why secure hardware is highly recommended.) It’s hard to quantify the impact of an attack like this because MEW is such a well-used and trusted service, while MEW said it is still gathering information on exactly what happened. Coindesk reports that $150,000, or 216 Ether, was taken, but the figure is likely higher.  One fraud tracker  identified two wallets ( here and here ) used in the attack, and they lead to what looks like a holding wallet ( here ) that collected over 520 Ether today. That would be around $365,000 at today’s price of $700 per ETH. The actual amount taken could be higher still. The holding wallet leads to a larger wallet which has a balance of over $17 million in Ether and a constant stream of incoming transactions.

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Instagram launches “Data Download” tool to let you leave

Two weeks ago TechCrunch called on Instagram to build an equivalent to Facebook’s “Download Your Information feature so if you wanted to leave for another photo sharing network, you could. The next day it announced this tool would be coming and now TechCrunch has spotted it rolling out to users. Instagram’s “Data Download” feature can be accessed here or through the app’s privacy settings. It lets users export their photos, videos, archived Stories, profile, info, comments, and non-ephemeral messages, though it can take a few hours to days for your download to be ready. An Instagram spokesperson now confirms to TechCrunch that “the Data Download tool is currently accessible to everyone on the web, but access via iOS and Android is still rolling out.” We’ll have more details on exactly what’s inside once my download is ready. The tool’s launch is necessary for Instagram to comply with the data portability rule in European Union’s GDPR privacy law that goes into effect on May 25th. But it’s also a reasonable concession. Instagram has become the dominant image sharing social network with over 800 million users. It shouldn’t need to lock up users’ data in order to keep them around. Instagram traps data without a Download Your Information tool Instagram hasn’t been afraid to attack competitors and fight dirty. Most famously, it copied Snapchat’s Stories in August 2016, which now has over 300 million daily users — eclipsing the original. But it also cut off GIF-making app Phhhoto from its Find Friends feature, then swiftly cloned its core feature to launch Instagram Boomerang. Within a few years, Phhhoto had shut down its app. If Instagram is going to ruthlessly clone and box out its competitors, it should also let users choose which they want to use.

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Etleap scores $1.5 million seed to transform how we ingest data

Etleap is a play on words for a common set of data practices: extract, transform and load. The startup is trying to place these activities in a modern context, automating what they can and in general speeding up what has been a tedious and highly technical practice. Today, they announced a $1.5 million seed round. Investors include First Round Capital, SV Angel, Liquid2, BoxGroup and other unnamed investors. The startup launched five years ago as a Y Combinator company. It spent a good 2.5 years building out the product, says CEO and founder Christian Romming. They haven’t required additional funding until now because they have been working with actual customers . Those include Okta, PagerDuty and Mode, among others. Romming started out at adtech startup VigLink and while there he encountered a problem that was hard to solve. “Our analysts and scientists were frustrated. Integration of the data sources wasn’t always a priority and when something broke, they couldn’t get it fixed until a developer looked at it.” That lack of control slowed things down and made it hard to keep the data warehouse up-to-date. He saw an opportunity in solving that problem and started Etleap . While there were (and continue to be) legacy solutions like Informatica, Talend and Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services, he said when he studied these at a deeply technical level, he found they required a great deal of help to implement.

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Trello gets a newsfeed and improved notifications

Trello , the popular card-based project management service owned by Atlassian, is getting a bit of a revamp today. Traditionally, Trello was always about its cards and boards — and nothing else. But that also meant that power users often had to wade through a number of boards to figure out what they should focus on next. Now, Trello is getting a personalized newsfeed that will highlight activity from your Trello teams. “ By displaying a newsfeed of activity from your Trello teams, home surfaces the information you need, when you need it,” the Trello team writes today. “Let the information come to you and browse at your own pace. See what everyone on your team is working on without having to dig through every individual board.” The newsfeed will include sections like “Up Next” and “Highlights” to give you a better overview of what’s happening inside your projects. The company tells me that the home feed is organized by due dates, card activities that may need your immediate attention and “everything that has happened across boards you watch while you were gone.” You can also filter this feeds by team. Also new in Trello are improved notifications . You’ll now be able to change due dates and stop notifications from any given card right from the notifications. In addition, you can also mark alerts are “read” or “unread.”

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Uber’s first diversity report under new CEO shows slight progress

Under the leadership of Travis Kalanick, Uber was late to the game in producing its first diversity report . Now, under the leadership of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, things are starting to look a bit different at Uber. Uber has not only brought on a chief diversity officer but also continues to make progress in terms of representation of black and brown people in leadership roles in the U.S., as well as the overall number of women in its workforce. But regarding black and brown people in tech leadership roles, Uber has none. Here’s a quick overview of what Uber’s workforce looks like today: Compared to last year, Uber has increased the percentage of women from 36.1 to 38 percent. While Uber’s black representation has gone down a bit, Latinx representation increased from 5.6 to 6.1 percent. Uber’s data is based on an in-house survey, rather than an EEO-1 report. Instead, Uber pulled the gender and race numbers from Workday, where employees are able to self-identify. Uber says the gender data has about 99 percent participation while the race/ethnicity data represents more than 75 percent of the company. Regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer representation, Uber reported 15 percent of those who opted into that survey identified as such. In total, only a little over a third of Uber employees participated in the survey worldwide

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Meet the quantum blockchain that works like a time machine

A new — and theoretical — system for blockchain-based data storage could ensure that hackers will not be able to crack cryptocurrencies once the quantum era starts. The idea, proposed by researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, would secure cryptocurrency futures for decades using a blockchain technology that is like a time machine. You can check out their findings here . To understand what’s going on here we have to define some terms. A blockchain stores every transaction in a system on what amounts to an immutable record of events. The work necessary for maintaining and confirming this immutable record is what is commonly known as mining. But this technology — which the paper’s co-author Del Rajan claims will make up “10 percent of global GDP… by 2027” — will become insecure in an era of quantum computers. Therefore the solution to store a blockchain in a quantum era requires a quantum blockchain using a series of entangled photons. Further, Spectrum writes: “Essentially, current records in a quantum blockchain are not merely linked to a record of the past, but rather a record in the past, one that does not exist anymore.” Yeah, it’s weird. From the paper intro: Our method involves encoding the blockchain into a temporal GHZ (Greenberger–Horne–Zeilinger) state of photons that do not simultaneously coexist. It is shown that the entanglement in time, as opposed to an entanglement in space, provides the crucial quantum advantage

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Oracle acquires Grapeshot, a marketing tech startup that helps ensure ‘brand safety’

In the era of fake news and controversies over how brands’ advertising — via programmatic platforms — unwittingly ends up alongside content with which they’d rather not be associated, Oracle has made an acquisition to beef up its ability to help customers with these marketing challenges. It has announced that it will acquire Grapeshot , a startup out of Cambridge, England, that has developed a platform to help ensure “brand safety”, along with solutions to help brands, agencies, publishers and ad platforms to match ads to more specific placements overall. The startup will become a part of the Oracle Data Cloud, Oracle said, working specifically in the area of Audiences and Measurement, which already provides a number of other tools to marketers, such as data for custom segmented audiences. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but we are trying to find out. According to Pitchbook, Grapeshot’s last post-money valuation was around $59 million (£42 million) in May of 2017. Crunchbase notes that the company has raised $22.4 million from investors that include IQ Capital Partners, Draper Esprit and Albion. Grapeshot, via its Contextual Intelligence Platform, says it works with some 5,000 marketers globally, covering some 38 billion programmatic ad impressions. It’s been growing at a rate of over 100 percent year-over-year, it says. It looks like it will continue to work with existing customers, who will in turn become potential targets for the cross-selling of other Oracle services. The rise of Grapeshot and its acquisition by Oracle speaks to a growing challenge in the area of adtech and corresponding marketing technology: while programmatic advertising has largely become the norm across the web, there are some unintended consequences from all that automation. For one, it’s harder to specifically match ads to content in every case — and this might potentially become even more difficult with the rise of stronger data protection and increased scrutiny on how are data is used for ad targeting

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Flipboard launches a new tech section

With recent changes,  Flipboard has been placing a big emphasis on allowing readers to go deep on their interests . Now it’s adding even more features around one particular interest, in the Technology section of the Flipboard website and app. “We want to make Flipboard definitive for tech insiders and enthusiasts,” said CEO Mike McCue . This positions Flipboard as more of a direct competitor to a tech news aggregator like Techmeme , but with more curation from partners and from readers themselves. The most immediately noticeable change is what the company describes as a “newspaper-like, high-density layout.” Basically, it moves away from the image-heavy look that Flipboard is known for, towards a layout that places a bigger emphasis on headlines and text, designed for quick scanning. While McCue said the new look is “really meant for the desktop,” Flipboard has also created a version for the mobile web, and the app will also vary between a high-density and low-density layout depending on the stories. (If it seems strange for Flipboard to be prioritizing its web experience, remember that the company has also been shifting its focus away from its own native article formats towards the mobile web .) Regardless of which layout you’re seeing, the section will also have new content. Some of it will be curated by Flipboard publishers, with The Verge creating roundups for Gadgets News and Artificial Intelligence, the Wirecutter offering Deals of the Week and the team here at TechCrunch curating our latest Features . “Flipboard has really become more of an ecosystem,” McCue said. “Publishers and curators are curating stories around all sorts of different topics. We want to provide access to that ecosystem on any platform, with or without the app.” Teams can also create their own magazines, which are basically private collections of stories. So if you’re at a startup and want all of your colleagues to be up-to-date on the latest headlines about your industry and competitors, you can curate a magazine that’s only visible to them. Flipboard will also be asking experts and influencers for book recommendations, starting with Wired Editor in Chief Nick Thompson’s roundup of “Five Books I’ve Recently Read About the Future.” And all of this will be rounded up in a daily email, which will include the latest tech headlines as well as selections from any team magazine you contribute to. On Saturday, the newsletter will focus on those book recommendations, with links to buy the titles on Amazon. McCue suggested that if all this new content is embraced by readers, we might see Flipboard start to pursue a similar strategy around other topics, with a focus on reaching professional readers

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Enterprise firm Mitel to be acquired for $2B by Rackspace investor Searchlight

Mitel , the enterprise communications company that tried but failed to buy Polycom for $2 billion , is now being acquired for $2 billion itself. The company today announced that it has agreed to be acquired by Searchlight Capital Partners in an all-cash transaction of $2 billion, a deal that will also see the company going private. The price is a decent jump on the company’s market cap of $1.57 billion when it closed trading on Nasdaq yesterday evening, with the $11.15 per-share-deal a 24 percent premium over the average price on the stock’s 90-day average. Mitel said its board of directors has voted in favor of the deal and “will recommend that Mitel shareholders approve the arrangement”, although it also includes a 45-day “go-shop” period, “which permits Mitel’s Board of Directors and advisors to actively solicit, evaluate and potentially enter into negotiations with parties that make alternative acquisition proposals through June 7, 2018.” So there could be yet more developments in store. Mitel is a legacy player in the world of enterprise communications — it’s now 45 years old — and it is perhaps known best for its IP telephony solutions, competing with the likes of Avaya and Cisco. Mitel says it counts 70 million businesses in 100 countries as customers. But developments in the enterprise communications market — which has shifted to include things like BYO, mobile-first solutions; apps in the cloud; and massively integrated IT/comms stacks where companies are simplifying all products in single platforms (and sometimes single vendors like Microsoft), or are using upstart (and less expensive) services like Slack for all interactions, voice and text — have all served to disrupt Mitel’s business. So more recently, Mitel has been on a longer-term mission to reposition itself as a cloud-based, integrated SaaS company. As part of those efforts, last year it also  acquired ShoreTel in a $430 million deal . The deal is being described as a way to make that shift more efficiently, away from the scrutiny it might otherwise have as a publicly-listed company.

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Belgium’s Cowboy raises $3M led by Index to launch a smarter e-bike

Cowboy , the startup that’s building a new, smarter electronic bicycle, quietly launched in its home country of Belgium this past week, whilst simultaneously disclosing it has raised $3 million in seed funding. Notably, the round is led by Index Ventures. The London and San Francisco-based VC appears to be particularly bullish on electric-powered mobility, recently backing electric scooter startup Bird . France’s Hardware Club, and Kima Ventures also participated in Cowboy’s seed round, along with individual investors Thibaud Elziere (eFounders), Bertrand Jelensperger (LaFourchette), Harold Mechelynck (Ogone), Frederic Potter (Netatmo) and Francis Nappez (BlaBlaCar). Founded by Adrien Roose and Karim Slaoui, who both previously co-founded Take East Easy, an early Deliveroo competitor, and Tanguy Goretti, who was previously co-founder ride-sharing startup Djump, Cowboy has set out to build and sell a better designed e-bike that it claims addresses issues that have historically held back the category’s mass appeal. This includes a more elegant design than many existing models currently on the market, making the bike ‘smart’ by being connected to a mobile phone and ‘over the air’ through cellular and GPS networks, and better affordability than comparative offerings. In a call last week, Roose gave me a brief run down of the Cowboy’s features and a little of the product’s back story, including how Index got interested. He says he first became aware of e-bikes (or “ped-elec” bikes that combine a manual pedal and electric motor) after being puzzled that they weren’t more widely used by Take Eat Easy’s bicycle couriers. Riders that did use an e-bike tended to be older, suggesting that current e-bikes didn’t appeal to a younger demographic. After researching the market a lot deeper, Cowboy’s eventual founders also noticed that most e-bikes use entirely off the shelf components, which not only constrains differentiation, but also price, since most of the margin goes to parts suppliers and retailers. By designing a completely new e-bike, where the body and brain is bespoke — namely, the chassis/battery, and printed circuit board (PCB) — and where the product is sold direct online, the team believed there was an opportunity to re-define the e-bike category entirely. The resulting Cowboy e-bike is pitched as a better ride, powered by “intuitive and automatic motor assistance”

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You can now give Amazon the keys to your car

Last week, I was sitting in the office, waiting for an Amazon package to be delivered to my house. Typically, the driver would just leave the package at the door, where anybody could steal it. But this time around, the process was a bit different because the driver arrived, used his phone to unlock the car in my driveway, put the package into the trunk and then locked the car again. That’s thanks to the latest feature of Amazon Key — free in-car delivery for Prime members — which is launching today. In-car delivery is an extension of the existing Amazon Key service , which allows you to give the delivery drivers access to your house with the help of a compatible keypad on your door and a smart security camera. It’s worth pointing out from the outset that Amazon’s delivery drivers won’t track you down wherever you are and deliver to your car. This is about delivering to your stationary car in your driveway or an office parking lot. Indeed, the concept behind in-car delivery is very much the same as for the regular Amazon Key service. Just like you can give Amazon access to your house with the Key app, quite a few cars now allow you to open their doors with the help of an app, too. Because of this, support for in-car delivery is a bit limited right now. It’s currently only available for GM cars (2015 or newer Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs) with an active OnStar subscription and Volvos (also 2015 or newer) with an active Volvo On Call account. Amazon has worked with these partners to enable its drivers to unlock their cars — assuming, of course, that you allow them to do that. As Amazon stresses throughout the process, you remain in full control. If you want to block access to your car at any time, you can do so through the app — and you can do so for a whole day, until a specific time or forever. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable letting a driver into my house

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Media monitor Meltwater acquires social analytics player Sysomos

Meltwater, best known for coming from the media-monitoring space, has been on a tear recently, acquiring startups in the social media monitoring space and increasingly in AI. It’s now acquired Sysomos, considered one of the leaders in social analytics and engagement, and a competitor to Brandwatch, which is also well known in this area. The terms of the deal were undisclosed but Sysomos was known to have raised at least a Seed round. Sysomos is best known for enables organizations to analyze social media, news and other ‘human-generated’ content in one platform. “By joining the Meltwater team, our clients benefit from the leadership and global scale of one of the world’s first SaaS companies,” said Peter Heffring in statement, the former Sysomos CEO who will run Meltwater’s Social Analytics division. “In order to enhance the search and analytics experience in the Sysomos Platform, we will leverage the AI models and information extracted from the unstructured web by Meltwater. This will give our clients the context needed to collect more meaningful insights across their earned and owned social channels.” “All the social analytics companies look at social data in isolation, limiting the insights for brands and businesses,” said Jorn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of Meltwater. “With our acquisition of Sysomos, we can bring together news and social media under one company, giving social data context while adding social engagement to our news and media monitoring offering.” He said Sysomos would continue to run as a standalone firm. Other Meltwater acquisitons have tended to be incorporated into the main company. Sysomos will become part of the Social Analytics division.

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WeWork is planning a major expansion in Southeast Asia

China takes the limelight as the main focus for WeWork in Asia, but the company is pushing ahead with plans to grow its presence in Southeast Asia.  After launching in Singapore in January , WeWork is aiming to expand into four more countries this year, according to its head of the region. The company is kicking things off by announcing its entry into Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, with plans to go on to Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines before 2018 is out. “We’re definitely expanding across Southeast Asia,” Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, who joined WeWork when it acquired his Singapore-based startup SpaceMob last year, told TechCrunch in an interview. The next step to that is Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city and a global megacity, where WeWork today announced its first two locations: Sinarmas MSIG Tower, a location that will cater to 1,400 WeWork members across five floors, and Revenue Tower, where it has secured three floors that cover 800 people. The offices will open in Q3 2018, but already one company — b2b e-commerce startup Bizzy — has committed to renting over half of the occupancy at Revenue Tower, and WeWork expects demand to be high. “Both locations are in Jakarta’s central business district,” Fuad explained. “Each launch is planned months in advance, we’ve done due diligence to know what local companies are looking for.” In the case of MSIG Tower, the company has partnered with Indonesian conglomerate  Sinar Mas , which owns the building, on a revenue-share agreement. “We’re helping to activate the building, but the landlord is going to enjoy the membership yield that we have,” Fuad said. “This allows us to be quite flexible to work with landlords across the region; in this case, our goal is to generate incremental yield versus rental revenue alone, and bring the office space to life.” Bangkok looks to be next based on WeWork’s job site, which lists four open roles in the city. Elsewhere, the company is hiring for one person to join its team in Manila and there’s another role in Kuala Lumpur. A common area at  WeWork Beach Centre in Singapore WeWork acquired SpaceMob and it recently announced a deal to buy China-based rival Naked Hub , but it isn’t seeking to do more M&A in Southeast Asia at this point. It is also not looking to raise further capital. The company has pulled in over $6.9 billion from investors to date, a large part of which came via SoftBank’s huge $4.4 billion investment last year . WeWork allocated $500 million of that capital  for its “Asia Pacific” business — APAC minus China and Japan, where it works directly with SoftBank — and Fuad said the unit “still has a tonne of cash.” Still, if it is working with heavyweights like Sinar Mas, you’d imagine that there would be opportunities to deepen the alliance perhaps by raising strategic investment for the regional business. “There’s no comment on this just yet,” Fuad said

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