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Tag Archives: computer-science

For Madrona Venture Group, four IPOs in 20 months and a brand-new fund

Madrona Venture Group typically flies under the radar of Silicon Valley reporters, partly because it’s in Seattle. But the 23-year-old, early-stage venture firm has been having a pretty good run of late — success it just used to close its seventh fund with $300 million, the same amount it raised for its sixth fund in 2015. Among its investors: Bezos Expeditions, Vulcan Capital, and billionaire John Stanton, who is the chairman of the board of Trilogy International Partners (as well as the majority owner of the Major League Baseball team the Seattle Mariners). Madrona’s momentum didn’t build overnight. Four Madrona portfolio companies that have IPO’d over the last 20 months — the cloud software companies Smartsheet, Apptio, the real estate site Redfin, and the RFID chip maker Impinj —  took on average 12 years to get into the hands of public market investors. Madrona, the firm is quick to note, was there from the start, writing seed and Series A checks that today range from $200,000 to upwards of $5 million to $7 million. (The firm has, on rare occasion, invested upwards of  $30 million in a single company over the life of its investment.) Yet those four now-public companies share another trait in common; they’re all based in the Pacific Northwest, which includes greater Seattle but also cities like Portland, Ore.; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Spokane, Wa. That’s no accident. About 90 percent of Madrona’s deals are local, where the startup scene has seemingly expanded dramatically in recent years. In addition to Madrona and other local venture shops, Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Snowflake Computing have each opened engineering offices. Meanwhile, the University of Washington Computer Science Department — last year renamed the Allen School — is finishing another major building to expand its ability to graduate more CSE students.

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Meet the judges for the TC Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech

VivaTech is right around the corner, and I’m excited to introduce you to the third batch of judges that will come to Paris for TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Europe . If you haven’t been to TechCrunch Disrupt, the Startup Battlefield is arguably the most interesting part of the show. Before everybody started doing a startup competition, there was the Startup Battlefield. Companies like Dropbox, Fitbit, N26 and Yammer all launched on the TechCrunch stage. And we’re bringing talented investors and founders to judge the startups. Here’s the third round of judges (see part 1 and part 2 ). Rob Moffat, Partner, Balderton Capital Rob joined Balderton Capital in 2009 and was promoted to partner in 2015. He is currently a board director or observer with five portfolio companies: Carwow, Wooga, Nutmeg, Prodigy Finance, and Patients Know Best. Other investments he has worked with at Balderton include Qubit, Citymapper, Housetrip, Scoot and Archify. Rob’s focus sector is fintech, in particular insurance and retail financial services. Marketing is a particular area of interest, and Rob is responsible for best practice sharing in marketing across the portfolio. Prior to joining Balderton, Rob worked for Google in London, as a Manager in the European Strategy and Operations team. He started his career with five years in strategy consulting with Bain, and holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Masters in Statistics from Cambridge.

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Meet Alchemist Accelerator’s latest demo day cohort

An IoT-enabled lab for cannabis farmers, a system for catching drones mid-flight and the Internet of Cows are a few of the 17 startups exhibiting today at Alchemist Accelerator’s 18th demo day. The event, which will be streamed live here , focuses on big data and AI startups with an enterprise bent. The startups are showing their stuff at Juniper’s Aspiration Dome in Sunnyvale, California at 3pm today, but you can catch the whole event online if you want to see just what computers and cows have in common. Here are the startups pitching onstage. Tarsier  – Tarsier has built AI computer vision to detect drones. The founders discovered the need while getting their MBAs at Stanford, after one had completed a PhD in aeronautics. Drones are proliferating. And getting into places they shouldn’t — prisons, R&D centers, public spaces. Securing these spaces today requires antiquated military gear that’s clunky and expensive. Tarsier is all software. And cheap, allowing them to serve markets the others can’t touch. Lightbox  – Retail 3D is sexy — think virtual try-ons, VR immersion, ARKit stores. But creating these experiences means creating 3D models of thousands of products. Today, artists slog through this process, outputting a few models per day. Lightbox wants to eliminate the humans

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OpenClassrooms raises another $60 million

French startup OpenClassrooms is raising $60 million from General Atlantic, with existing investors Citizen Capital, Alven and Bpifrance also participating. OpenClassrooms is the most popular massive open online course platform in France. But the startup has evolved beyond on-demand courses to provide full-fledged degrees. You can now get a degree certified by the French state by studying full time on OpenClassrooms. Every month, 3 million users access OpenClassrooms. Many of them just want to learn something and maybe get a certification. But more and more people are following one of the 30 bachelor and master degrees. You can study many things from web and mobile development to data management and marketing. But OpenClassrooms isn’t just leaving you with a big pile of courses to study. The company has created a community of mentors who will regularly check with you to see how you’re doing. There are 600 mentors working for OpenClassrooms.

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New research shows successful founders are far older than the Valley stereotype

There is a classic stereotype of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur: often a computer science nerd, almost certainly male, ambitious and, most importantly, young — very young. Founders who have been covered extensively by the media, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, started their companies still glimpsing their teenage years, and that reputation has spread widely across the industry. Now, a group of economics researchers have conducted a comprehensive investigation of the starting age of founders of high-growth startups — and found that that stereotype just doesn’t match the data. In a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper , Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin Jones, J. Daniel Kim and Javier Miranda connected a variety of administrative data sets to investigate the age of founders of new businesses, and particularly the age of founders of high-performance startups. Administrative data sets are the “gold standard” of data, because unlike surveys or other statistical sampling methods, they represent the entire population under consideration. What they found is that the average age of a startup founder is about 41.9 years of age among all startups that hire at least one employee, and among the top 0.1 percent of highest-growth startups, that average age moves up to 45 years old. Those ages are taken from the time of the founding of the company. The researchers broke down the population of founders along a number of lines, including geography and industry. They found little difference in their results between subcategories, and, in many cases, the subcategory definition actually increased the average age. For instance, industries like oil and gas can have average founder ages as high as 51.4 years old.

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A Hippocratic Oath for artificial intelligence practitioners

Oren Etzioni Contributor Share on Twitter Oren Etzioni is CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and has been a professor at the University of Washington’s Computer Science department since 1991. He has also founded or co-founded several companies, including Farecast (sold to Microsoft in 2008) and Decide (sold to eBay in 2013), and …

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Coursera teams with 5 universities to expand its full masters and bachelors degree programs

 With traditional university programs getting more expensive and competitive, we’re seeing a boom in the number of alternative programs that are taking advantage of the internet and more flexible teaching and learning formats to fill the gap in the market. The latest development comes from Coursera. Today, the online education startup with 31 million students and some 2,700 courses is… Read More

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Snoopy is your latest coding teacher

Snoopy is taking a break from lying on his doghouse and staring at the sky to help kids learn about computers and coding. As part of Computer Science Education Week (December 4-10), codeSpark Academy and the Peanuts brand are teaming up to release ho...

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MIT makes it easy for beginners to design robots

It's not easy building robots if you don't have the education and the training. A team of researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), however, have developed a tool that allows even beginners to design mach...

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