Home / Tag Archives: creator

Tag Archives: creator

Amazon to launch a new app store with tools for its two million sellers

Amazon is launching new app store with tools created specifically to help its sellers manage their inventory and orders. Called the Marketplace Appstore, it will feature apps made using Amazon Marketplace Web Service (Amazon MWS) by Amazon and third-party developers screened by the company. According to a report by CNET, the Marketplace Appstore launches to sellers today. There are now about two million sellers on Amazon , including more than a million small to medium-sized businesses in the United States. Amazon MWS is an integrated web service API that allows sellers to share data about their inventory, orders and logistics with Amazon in order to automate more tasks. It also enables sellers to build apps for their own accounts and other sellers. The company told CNET that “many developers have innovated and created applications that complement our tools and integrate with our services. We created the Marketplace Appstore to help businesses more easily discover these applications, streamline their business operations and ultimately create a better experience for our customers.” The Marketplace Appstore is free for developers to join and use, but they are currently required to submit an application  to Amazon and undergo a business and practices review.

Read More »

Comcast’s mesh Wi-Fi system, xFi Pods, launches nationwide

Comcast today is officially launching its own Wi-Fi extender devices called xFi Pods that help to address problems with weak Wi-Fi signals in parts of a customer’s home due to things like the use of building materials that disrupt signals, or even just the home’s design. The launch follows Comcast’s announcement last year that it was investing  in the mesh router maker Plume, which offers plug-in “pods” that help extend Wi-Fi signals. The company said that it would launch its own xFi pods that pair with Comcast’s gateways to its own customers as a result of that deal. Those pods were initially available in select markets, including Boston, Chicago and Denver, ahead of today’s nationwide launch. The pods themselves are hexagon-shopped devices that plug in to any electrical outlet in the home, and then pair with Comcast’s xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Gateway to help Wi-Fi signals extend to the hard-to-reach areas of the home. The pods work with the Comcast Gateways to continuously monitor and optimize the Wi-Fi connections, Comcast explains, while its cloud-based management service evaluates the home’s Wi-Fi environment to make sure all the connected devices are using the best signal bands and Wi-Fi channels. Plus, the devices are smart enough to self-monitor their own performance, diagnose issues and “heal” themselves, as needed, says Comcast. However, early reviews of Plume’s pods were mixed. CNET said the system was slow and the pods were too expensive, for example. But Engadget found the system had the lowest latency, compared with competitors, and helped devices roam more easily and accurately.

Read More »

Epic Games will pump $100 million into Fortnite eSports competitions

Epic Games doesn’t want the party to stop. The gaming company announced today that it plans to funnel $100 million into Fortnite eSports competitions for the “2018-2019 season,” a move which will undoubtedly drive talent and enthusiasm to the battle royale title. The company announced the investment in a short blog post : In the 2018 – 2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions. We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different – we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game. Fortnite has had an explosive period of growth over the past several months since the release of its battle royale flavor following the popularity of PUBG, but Epic Games seems to be doubling down on ensuring the continued popularity of the recent multiplayer gameplay trend. Unlike a lot of popular eSports titles, Fortnite is available across a pretty wide variety of platforms beyond just the PC, with console and mobile flavors also available. Epic hasn’t released much in the way of usage numbers lately, but the game hit 2 million concurrent players in January and it has undoubtedly surged in popularity since then. Whether the young title can continue to draw attention and crowds in the face of fresher talent  moving forward will depend heavily on streamers and eSports leagues continuing to show interest, but $100 million in investment in prize pools will almost certainly prove to be quite helpful.

Read More »

Don’t expect Ubuntu maker Canonical to IPO this year

Canonical , the company best known for its Ubuntu Linux distribution, is on a path to an IPO. That’s something Canonical founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth has been quite open about. But don’t expect that IPO to happen this year. “We did decide as a company — and that’s not just my decision — but we did decide that we want to have a commercial focus,” Shuttleworth told me during an interview at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Canada today. “So we picked cloud and IoT as the areas to develop that. And being a public company, given that most of our customers are now global institutions, it makes for us also to be a global institution. I think it would be great for my team to be part of a public company. It would be a lot of work, but we are not shy of work.” Unsurprisingly, Shuttleworth didn’t want to talk about the exact timeline for the IPO, though. “We will do the right thing at the right time,” he said. That right time is not this year, though. “No, there is a process that you have to go through and that takes time. We know what we need to hit in terms of revenue and growth and we’re on track.” Getting the company on track was very much Shuttleworth’s focus over the course of the last year. That meant killing projects like the Ubuntu Phone (which Shuttleworth said was “painful,”) as well as the Unity desktop environment. Instead, the company’s focus is now squarely on helping enterprises stand up and manage their private clouds — no matter whether those run OpenStack, Kubernetes or a combination of those. That doesn’t mean Canonical has forgotten about the desktop, though.

Read More »

Comcast is leaking the names and passwords of customers’ wireless routers

Comcast has just been caught in a major security snafu: revealing the passwords of its customers’ Xfinity-provided wireless routers in plaintext on the web. Anyone with a subscriber’s account number and street address number will be served up the Wi-Fi name and password via the company’s Xfinity internet activation service. Security researchers Karan Saini and Ryan Stevenson reported the issue to ZDnet . The site is meant to help people setting up their internet for the first time: ideally, you put in your data, and Comcast sends back the router credentials while activating the service. The problem is threefold: You can “activate” an account that’s already active The data required to do so is minimal and it is not verified via text or email The wireless name and password are sent on the web in plaintext This means that anyone with your account number and street address number (e.g. the 1425 in “1425 Alder Ave,” no street name, city, or apartment number needed), both of which can be found on your paper bill or in an email, will instantly be given your router’s SSID and password, allowing them to log in and use it however they like or monitor its traffic. They could also rename the router’s network or change its password, locking out subscribers. This only affects people who use a router provided by Xfinity/Comcast , which comes with its own name and password built in. Though it also returns custom SSIDs and passwords, since they’re synced with your account and can be changed via app and other methods. What can you do?

Read More »

Instagram says ‘you’re all caught up’ in first time-well-spent feature

Without a chronological feed, it can be tough to tell if you’ve seen all the posts Instagram will show you. That can lead to more of the compulsive, passive, zombie browsing that research suggests is unhealthy as users endlessly scroll through stale content hoping for a hit of dopamine-inducing novelty. But with Instagram’s newest feature, at least users know when they’ve seen everything and can stop scrolling without FOMO. Instagram is showing some users a mid-feed alert after a bunch of browsing that says “You’re All Caught Up – You’ve seen all new post from the past 48 hours.” When asked about it, Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s testing this feature. It declined to give details about how it works, including whether the announcement means you’ve seen literally every post from people you follow from the last two days, or just the best ones that the algorithm has decided are worth showing you. The feature could help out Instagram completists who want to be sure they never miss a selfie, sunset or supper pic. Before Instagram rolled out its algorithm in the summer of 2016, they could just scroll to the last post they’d seen or when they knew they’d last visited. Warning them they’ve seen everything could quiet some of the backlash to the algorithm, which has centered around people missing content they wanted to see because the algorithm mixed up the chronology. But perhaps more importantly, it’s one of the app’s first publicly tested features that’s clearly designed with the “time well spent” movement in mind. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about prioritizing well-being  over profits, to the point that the network reduced the prevalence of viral videos in the feed so much that that app lost 1 million users in the U.S. and Canada in Q4 2017 . “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down

Read More »

Adobe to acquire Magento for $1.68B

Adobe announced today that it was acquiring Magento for $1.68 billion . The purchase gives Adobe a missing e-commerce platform piece that works in B2B and B2C contexts and should fit nicely in the company’s Experience Cloud. It should also help Adobe compete with Salesforce, which offers its own marketing, sales and service offerings in the cloud and which  bought Demandware for more than $2 billion in 2016 to provide a similar set of functionality. Brent Leary, who owns CRM Essentials and keeps a close eye on the intersection between marketing and CRM, says this fills an obvious hole in Adobe’s Experience Cloud . “Now they have an offering that allows them to close the loop with consumers, who are able to finalize a digital transaction that started online with digital marketing tools Adobe already offered,” Leary explained. Leary also sees this deal bringing Microsoft and Adobe, who have already announced partnerships in the past, closer together. “But maybe even more interesting may be how this may further the relationship Adobe has with Microsoft. As they also are missing an e-commerce piece to their customer engagement platform as well,” he pointed out. Leary speculates this could lead to an even deeper relationship between the two companies as they are each battling Salesforce. Salesforce is the 10,000-pound gorilla in this space with revenue across its various clouds reaching more than $8 billion last year. The company is  on a run rate to exceed $10 billion in 2018

Read More »

Google Photos adds likes and favorites with hearts and stars

Twitter swapped out its Favorite star icon for an appreciation-focused heart icon instead, but Google Photos is embracing both icons with an update rolling out now. The company announced this afternoon it’s adding a new star-shaped Favorites button to its photo-sharing service starting today, which will be followed by a heart-shaped “Like” button next week. The two will have different functionality, however. The Favorite (star) button will only appear on photos in your own library, allowing you to mark an individual item as a favorite which, in turn, will automatically populate a new photo album with just your favorite photos. This is a feature that most other photo services already offer, including Apple’s and previously, Google’s own Picasa, so it’s a bit of an obvious catch-up addition on Google’s part. Meanwhile, the heart icon is Google Photos’ version of the “like.” This will appear only on those photos that have been shared with you from your family and friends. You can also like a full shared album, but not any photos or albums that aren’t shared, says Google. If you want to save one of these shared photos to your own Favorites album, you have to copy it to your own library first. Though seemingly minor additions, the implementation of a proper favoriting system is actually a big design decision for a social platform. When Twitter switched from stars to hearts, for example, there was quite the user backlash . And some people continue to upset over the change years later. Even Facebook had to acquiesce to users’ demands for an alternative to its “Like” button by offering different ways to react to a post. It would have been fun to see Google Photos do something similar – perhaps a shocked emoji, or laughing with tears – in addition the simple heart. After all, we know not all the photos we take are beloved – some are just ridiculous, goofy, crazy, weird, and so on

Read More »

Barack and Michelle Obama sign production deal with Netflix

Another (very) big deal for Netflix: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have reached an agreement to produce films and series for the streaming service. The New York Times first reported in March that the Obamas were in “advanced negotiations” with Netflix. The goal, supposedly, was less about criticizing the Trump administration or promoting any specific political message and more about highlighting inspirational stories. Netflix’s official announcement makes it sound like that continues to be what the Obamas have in mind, with Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos describing them as “uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.” The Obamas have formed a company called Higher Ground Productions to create this content. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Netflix has deep pockets  and has shown a willingness to write very large checks . It says the Obamas might produce “scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features” — so basically any kind of audiovisual content. In a statement, Mr. Obama said: One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world. Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming is scheduled for publication in November , while Barack Obama is expected to release a new memoir under the same deal. He’s kept a relatively low profile since leaving office, but he did make a recent appearance as the first guest on David Letterman’s Netflix interview show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction .

Read More »

TheSkimm closes its $12M Series C with big names Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks on board

In March, the female-led media company and newsletter provider  theSkimm reported it was raising a $12 million  Series C from Google Ventures and Spanx founder Sara Blakely, along with several existing investors. Today, the company is confirming its Series C round has closed with a number of new, mostly female investors joining — including big names like Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks. Variety was the first to report the news of the new investors. The Series C’s additional investors include former TV journalist Willow Bay , now dean at the USC Anneberg School for Communication and Journalism; Jesse Draper of Halogen Ventures; Shonda Rhimes; founder and CEO of GingerBread Capital, Linnea Roberts; CEO of ELY Capital, Hope Taitz; as well as the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; and Michael Karsch of Juice Press. Earlier Series C investors included GV (formerly Google Ventures); Spanx founder Sara Blakely; plus former lead investors 21st Century Fox, RRE Ventures and Homebrew Ventures. TheSkimm began its life as an email newsletter, founded by former TV news producers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. The newsletter targets millennial women who want an easy way to keep up with the key news of the day. What makes the product so appealing is how it’s written in a conversational tone, making it accessible to a wide audience who often finds reading the news a dreary but necessary chore. Mixed in with its highlights from key U.S., political and international news are samplings of stories from pop culture and the entertainment industry, which gives the newsletter a bit of a palate cleanser — something that’s much appreciated these days. That newsletter has now grown to around 7 million subscribers, the company says. (This is the same number it reported in March.) The company has also expanded to other products since its launch, including a $2.99 per month subscription-based app for keeping up with upcoming news and televised events, a podcast, as well as original videos for YouTube and Facebook Watch via its production arm, Skimm Studios. Its video offerings include Skimm’d with…” and “Get Off the Couch” for Facebook, and digital series “Sip n’ Skimm,” which landed an interview with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by a discussion with House Speaker Paul Ryan assessing the proposed GOP tax plan.

Read More »

Lyft reportedly wants to launch electric scooter service

Because there aren’t enough electric scooters on the roads, Lyft is looking into launching its own fleet of electric scooters in San Francisco, The Information reports . Lyft would join the likes of Spin, Bird and Lime — the three startups that deployed their scooters in San Francisco, without permission, back in March. Lyft has reportedly been in talks with San Francisco city officials to discuss applying for a permit, and has drafted some prototypes of scooter designs. A Lyft spokesperson declined to comment. Earlier this month, the city of San Francisco laid out its requirements for companies seeking to obtain electric scooter permits. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to actually finalize the application and terms, but a spokesperson told me on Friday the permit applications should be ready as early as this week. The city will issue permits for no more than five companies during the 24-month pilot program. The program would grant up to 2,500 scooters to operate, but it’s not yet clear how many scooters each company would be allowed to deploy. Here’s how SF wants to regulate electric scooters Meanwhile, Uber also has its eyes on electric scooters. In April, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told me the company plans to “look at any and all options” that would help move transportation options in ways that are city-friendly. That same month, Uber acquired bike-share startup JUMP for about $200 million . As it stands now, there are four companies that have announced electric scooter sharing

Read More »

OpenStack spins out its Zuul open source CI/CD platform

There are few open source projects as complex as OpenStack , which essentially provides large companies with all the tools to run the equivalent of the core AWS services in their own data centers. To build OpenStack’s various systems the team also had to develop some of its own devops tools, and in 2012, that meant developing Zuul , an open source continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) platform. Now, with the release of Zuul v3, the team has decided to decouple Zuul from OpenStack and to run it as an independent project. It’s not quite leaving the OpenStack ecosystem, though, since it will still be hosted by the OpenStack Foundation. Now all of that may seem a bit complicated, but at this point, the OpenStack Foundation is simply the home of OpenStack and  other related infrastructure projects . The first one of those was obviously OpenStack itself, followed by the Kata Containers project late last year. Zuul is simply the third of these projects. The general concept behind Zuul is to provide developers with a system for automatically merging, building and testing new changes to a project. It’s extensible and supports a number of different development platforms, including GitHub and the Gerrit code review and project management tool. Current contributors include BMW, GitHub, GoDaddy, Huawei, Red Hat and SUSE. “The wide adoption of CI/CD in our software projects is the foundation to deliver high-quality software in time by automating every integral part of the development cycle from simple commit checks to full release processes,” said BMW software engineer Tobias Henkel.

Read More »

Cryptocurrency and a stock market boom pushes TradingView to $37 million in new funding

Fueled by last year’s greed-inducing visions of a crypto-currency boom and a stock market largely untethered from classical economics , TradingView , a developer of social networking and data analysis tools for financial markets, has raised millions in new venture funding. The New York-based company just scored $37 million in funding led by the growth stage investment firm Insight Venture Partners . TradingView has developed a proprietary, JavaScript-based programming language called PineScript, which lets anyone develop their own customized financial analysis tools. The company “freemium” software as a service model let’s most users connect and exchange trading tips and tricks for free, but begins charging when customers want access to more charts, data and real-time server-side alerts. There are three payment plans beginning at $15, with a mid-tier at $30 and a high-end $60 per-month premium option. The company had previously boosted its growth by offering its charting software for free to partner websites like SeekingAlpha, Bitfinex, and the Nasdaq. That strategy helped it grow to 8 million monthly active users with around 61 percent coming from direct traffic as of March of this year. These days the company derives nearly 75 percent of its revenue from those monthly subscription plans to individual traders. TradingView’s executives think the company still has an opportunity to expand its footprint among those retail investors, but it’s also planning to make a push to serve more institutional clients with its toolkit. For the past seven years the company has enjoyed consistent growth, according to TradingView co-founder and chief operations officer, Stan Bokov. For Paul Szurek, a vice-president at Insight Venture Partners, the investment in TradingView is building off of broad consumer interest in amateur speculative trading. Looking at RobinHood, Bux, and eToro as gateways for new investors who eventually move on to more sophisticated tools, Szurek said that TradingView was often their next step into market investing.

Read More »

This top Silicon Valley venture firm just made a contrarian move with its newest fund

In Silicon Valley, venture firms with a track record of success find themselves awash in money thanks to the growing number of institutions that want to invest more of their capital in tech. In March, an SEC filing showed that General Catalyst had closed a $1.375 billion fund , the biggest vehicle in its 18-year history. Battery Ventures also closed on two funds earlier this year that are the 35-year-old firm’s biggest to date. Sequoia Capital, meanwhile, is reportedly out raising $12 billion across a series of funds, a move that’s unprecedented for the firm — or any U.S.-based venture firm, for that matter. Fifteen-year-old Emergence Capital could easily follow the same path. Emergence funds early-stage ventures that are focused on enterprise and SaaS applications, and it does this very well. Its bets include the storage company Box (now public), the social networking company Yammer (sold for $1.2 billion to Microsoft in 2012) and Veeva Systems, the company that’s generally known for its customer relations software for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries, though envious investors recognize Veeva as the company that produced a more than 300x return for Emergence when it went public in 2013. (Emergence had invested just $6.5 million in the outfit and owned 31 percent of it going into the IPO. It was also Veeva’s sole venture backer.) Still, when it came time to raise its fifth fund, Emergence did not raise a billion-dollar fund, as it surely could have. Instead, the San Mateo, Calif., firm, which closed its fourth fund with $335 million in 2015, opted to increase the fund by 30 percent, closing its new vehicle this past Friday with $435 million. We talked the other day with firm co-founder Jason Green, who is one of four general partners, about the firm’s trajectory. Specifically, we asked why — like almost every other firm in Silicon Valley — it didn’t close its newest fund with exponentially more in capital commitments than its last fund. The answer, said Green: “Our sweet spot is on early market fit, with a core team we can work around.” Because that hasn’t changed, neither has the size of the funds it raises, he said

Read More »

Last chance to get a table in Startup Alley at TC Tel Aviv 2018

Startups, TechCrunch Tel Aviv 2018 is coming for you in just 2 weeks! As you may know, we’re hosting our   first inaugural day long conference at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on 7 June. The event will feature TechCrunch’s signature stellar programming on Mobility, and we will also have new expo area called Startup Alley , where hundreds of rockstar startups from ALL verticals demo their products to attendees. Check out the current list of startups that will be at the event!  Want to be part of this awesome lineup of startups? For 1700 ILS, you’ll get one full day to exhibit, two tickets to TechCrunch Tel Aviv 2018, a demo table, wifi, power, linens, and a branded table-top sign. You can secure your exhibit spot here . Remember, TechCrunch events are the ideal place to show off your company to prospective customers, gain media attention, meet investors, and take your startup to the next level. If you’re a pre-Series A, early-age startup, we want to see you on our showcase floor. Buy yours before we run out — space is limited, and feel free to email startupalley@techcrunch.com if you have any questions. Hope to see you in a few weeks!

Read More »