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Tag Archives: europe

Bubblz lets you collaborate on painful processes

Meet Bubblz , a French startup that wants to optimize all the boring processes that slow you down. If you’re trying to hire someone, if you need to collect information from many people, if you regularly put together marketing campaigns, you can use Bubblz to automate all the steps and collaborate with your coworkers. Many people use Trello or another kanban-based tool to manage potential new hires and all sorts of processes that require multiple steps. Bubblz uses the same metaphor but with a few extra tricks. Setting up a process is going to take some thinking and a bit of time. But the idea is that you’ll save a lot of time once you have created a process in Bubblz. Each step is represented as a column. You can then configure some actions based on each step. For instance, if you’re trying to hire someone, your first step could be an online form to collect information and upload files. After that, you can review each application and configure multiple buttons. If you click yes, it can move the application to the next column. If you click no, it can send a rejection email and archive the application. If you decide to hire someone, you can track that the person has signed their contract or automatically send an email to the IT department to make them aware of the new hire. You can define a short todo list for each step

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Revue, the newsletter publishing tool, now lets you charge subscribers

Dutch startup Revue , which is now positioning itself as an “editorial newsletter platform,” is adding the option to charge subscribers. This means that newsletters can be monetized directly, rather than relying on sponsorship or ads. The new feature requires signing up for a Stripe account, which you connect to Revue . You then write a description of why people should become a paying member and set a monthly fee. Initially, Revue is encouraging its newsletter publishers to run both a free and paid version simultaneously so that subscribers can choose to become a paying member or stay at just the free version of the newsletter. “Over the last three years we’ve been building Revue to help people create their editorial newsletters and reach their audience in a meaningful way,” explains co-founder and CEO Martijn de Kuijper. “In those three years we’ve seen writers and publishers moving away from purely ad-based business models, so we wanted to help them monetize their newsletters. Since there’s no all-in-one solution out there, we believed it was the right time to introduce this”. Kuijper gave me a heads-up on the paid subscriptions feature a few months before it was released, since I run my own newsletter called ‘Steve’s ITK’ on the Revue platform , but for the time being I’ve declined to begin charging for access. That’s partly because my subscriber count is still quite modest but also my publishing schedule is a little erratic to warrant monetization, even if writing a decent newsletter takes quite a lot of time.

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Cambridge University hits back at Zuckerberg’s shade

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to the House yesterday was a mostly bland performance, punctuated by frequent claims not to know  or remember certain fundamental aspects of his own business. But he gave a curiously specific and aggressive response to a question from congressman Eliot Engel. Starting from the premise that Facebook had been “deceived” by other players in the data misuse scandal it’s embroiled in, the congressman wondered whether Facebook intends to sue Cambridge Analytica, professor Aleksandr Kogan and Cambridge University — perhaps for unauthorized access to computer networks or breach of contract? “It’s something that we’re looking into,” replied Zuckerberg. “We already took action by banning Kogan from the platform and we’re going to be doing a full audit to make sure he gets rid of all the data that he has as well.” But the Facebook founder also seized on the opportunity to indulge in a little suggestive shade throwing which looked very much like an attempt to blame-shift responsibility for the massive data scandal embroiling his company onto, of all things, one of the UK’s most prestigious universities. (Which, full disclosure, is my own alma mater.) “To your point about Cambridge University what we’ve found now is that there’s a whole program associated with Cambridge University where a number of researchers — not just Aleksandr Kogan, although to our current knowledge he’s the only one who sold the data to Cambridge Analytica — there are a number of the researchers who are building similar apps,” said Zuckerberg. “So we do need to understand whether there is something bad going on at Cambridge University overall that will require a stronger action from us.” What’s curious about this response is that Zuckerberg elides to mention how Facebook’s own staff have worked with the program he’s suggesting his company “found now” — as if it had only discovered the existence of the Cambridge University Psychometrics Centre , whose researchers have in fact been working with Facebook data since at least 2007, since the Cambridge Analytica story snowballed into a major public scandal last month. A Facebook data-related project that the center is involved with, called the myPersonality Project  — which started as a student side project of the now deputy director of the Psychometrics Centre, David Stillwell — was essentially the accidental inspiration for Kogan’s thisismydigitallife quiz app, according to testimony given to the UK parliament by former Cambridge Analytica employee Chris Wylie last month. Here’s how the project is described on the Centre’s website : myPersonality was a popular Facebook application that allowed users to take real psychometric tests, and allowed us to record (with  consent !) their psychological and Facebook profiles. Currently, our database contains more than  6,000,000 test results , together with more than  4,000,000 individual Facebook profiles . Our respondents come from various age groups, backgrounds, and cultures. They are highly motivated to answer honestly and carefully, as the only gratification that they receive for their participation is feedback on their results. The center itself has been active within Cambridge University since 2005, conducting research, teaching and product development in pure and applied psychological assessment — and claiming to have seen “significant growth in the past twelve years as a consequence of the explosion of activity in online communication and social networks”

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Cluno, the Munich-based ‘car subscription’ service, raises €7M Series A

Cluno , a startup operating out of Munich that offers what it calls a “car subscription” service, has raised €7 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Acton Capital Partners, with participation from previous investor Atlantic Labs. Founded in 2017 by the same team behind easyautosale, which exited to Autoscout24 in 2015, Cluno lets you subscribe to a car for a fixed and all-inclusive monthly fee as an alternative to car ownership or a more restrictive lease. It’s a similar proposition to Drover, the London startup that raised £5.5 million ‘seed’ funding last month . “Our vision is to give people smarter access to unrestricted, personalised mobility,” says Cluno co-founder Nico Polleti. “We still see a lot of people who want to have their car in front of their home every day. But in a smarter way than today! Carsharing is not the answer for the mass market. That’s why car subscription or smart ownership solutions will completely change the way people get access to everyday mobility”. The Cluno service works as follows: You visit the Cluno website and choose the vehicle you want to subscribe to for a minimum period of six months. You then pay a setup fee, and a fixed monthly fee dependent on the model you have chosen, which covers the vehicle, insurance, breakdown cover, tax, and maintenance. The idea is that the only cost you are left with is fuel. You are also free to upgrade or downgrade your car after six months or can pause/cancel the subscription altogether. “Why do customers have to buy, finance or lease a car for several years?” asks Polleti rhetorically. “People’s lives and needs change and so should their cars

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Zuckerberg won’t give a straight answer on data downloads

What does Facebook know about you? Clearly a whole lot more than it’s comfortable letting on. Today, during testimony in front of the House Energy & Commerce committee, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was pressed by congressman Jerry McNerney on whether Facebook lets users download all their information — and he ended up appearing to contract its own  cookies policy , which — if you go and actually read it — states pretty clearly that Facebook harvests users’ browsing data. See, for e.g.: We use cookies if you have a Facebook account, use the  Facebook Products , including our website and apps, or visit other websites and apps that use the Facebook Products (including the Like button or other Facebook Technologies). Cookies enable Facebook to offer the Facebook Products to you and to understand the information we receive about you, including information about your use of other websites and apps, whether or not you are registered or logged in. Yet you won’t find your browsing data included in the copy of the information you can request from Facebook. Nor will you find a complete list of all the advertisers that have told Facebook they can target you with ads. Nor will you find lots of other pieces of personal information like images that Facebook knows you’re in but which were uploaded by other users, or a phone number you declined to share with it but which was uploaded anyway because one of your friends synced their contacts with its apps, thereby handing your digits over without your say so. And that’s just to name a few of the missing pieces of information that Facebook knows and holds about you — won’t tell you about if you ask it for a copy of “your information”. Here’s the key exchange — which is worth reading in full to see how carefully Zuckerberg worded his replies: McNerney: “Is there currently a place that I can download all of the Facebook information about me including the websites that I have visited?” Zuckerberg: “Yes congressman. We have a download your information tool, we’ve had it for years, you can go to it in your settings and download all of the content that you have on Facebook.” McNerney: “Well my staff, just this morning, downloaded their information and their browsing history is not in it. So are you saying that Facebook does not have browsing history?” Zuckerberg: “Congressman that would be correct. If we don’t have content in there then that means that you don’t have it on Facebook. Or you haven’t put it there.” McNerney: “I’m not quite on board with this.

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Instabridge, the Wi-Fi sharing community, scores $3M more funding for Asia expansion

Sweden’s Instabridge , the Wi-Fi sharing community and mobile app that has proved particularly popular in Brazil and Mexico, has scored $3 million in further funding — money it’s pegged for Asia expansion, starting with India. The new round is led by Luminar Ventures (headed up by Magnus Bergman and Jacob Key), with participation from previous backers Balderton Capital, Draper Associates, Moor, and Creandum. The company had previously raised around $5 million. Originally founded in late 2012 as a way to enable you to share your home Wi-Fi with friends on Facebook, the Stockholm-based company has since pivoted to become a broader Wi-Fi sharing community, and has found traction in developing markets where cellular data remains prohibitively expensive. The Instabridge app lets you share the details of any Wi-Fi hotspot with other Instabridge users, and provides access to Wi-Fi hotspots shared by everyone else in the community. This has enabled it to build a crowdsourced database of Wi-Fi hotspots, in addition to a list of known public venues that have free Wi-Fi, such as McDonald’s or Starbucks. Instabridge says it plans to build on the traction it has seen in South America by targeting India’s population of over 1 billion people, of which it says only 400 million currently have internet access. This, Instabridge co-founder Niklas Agevik tells me, will include building out a team in India, and plays into the company’s new-found mission of expanding internet access in developing countries where internet services remain relatively expensive and yet access to the internet is a proven means of “reducing income inequality”. Meanwhile, I’m told that Instabridge is now seeing 2.3 million Monthly Active Users, and is growing at a rate of 50,000 new users per day. The Instabridge database now houses the details of 2 million Wi-Fi spots.

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Zuckerberg urges privacy carve outs to compete with China

Facebook’s founder said last month that the company is open to being regulated. But today he got asked by the US senate what sort of legislative changes he would (and wouldn’t) like to see as a fix for the problems that the Cambridge Analytica data scandal has revealed. Zuckerberg’s response on this — and on another question about his view on European privacy regulations — showed in the greatest detail yet how he’s hoping data handling and privacy rules evolve in the US, including a direct call for regulatory carve outs to — as he couched it — avoid the US falling behind Chinese competitors. Laying out “a few principles” that he said he believes would be “useful to discuss and potentially codify into law”, Zuckerberg first advocated for having “a simple and practical set of ways that you explain what you’re doing with data”, revealing an appetite to offload the problem of tricky privacy disclosures via a handy universal standard that can apply to all players. “It’s hard to say that people fully understand something when it’s only written out in a long legal document,” he added. “This stuff needs to be implemented in a way where people can actually understand it.” He then talked up the notion of “giving people complete control” over the content they share — claiming this is “the most important principle for Facebook”. “Every piece of content that you share on Facebook, you own and you have complete control over who sees it and how you share it — and you can remove it at any time,” he said, without mentioning how far from that principle the company has been at earlier times in its history . “I think that that control is something that’s important — and I think should apply to every service,” he continued, making a not-so-subtle plea for no other platforms to be able to leak data like Facebook’s platform historically has (and thus to close any competitive loopholes that might open up as a result of Facebook tightening the screw on developer access to data now in the face of a major scandal). His final and most controversial point in response to the legislative changes question was about what he dubbed “enabling innovation”. “Some of these use cases that are very sensitive, like face recognition for example,” he said carefully. “And I think that there’s a balance that’s extremely important to strike here where you obtain special consent for sensitive features like facial recognition. But don’t — but that we still need to make it so that American companies can innovate in those areas

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Uber suffers further setback from Europe’s top court

This isn’t really surprising if you’ve been following Uber’s legal woes. But the Court of Justice of the European Union has confirmed to Uber France that Uber is operating a transportation company. Member countries can prohibit or punish Uber in their own countries without involving the European Union. Over the past few years, Uber has asked to CJEU to rule in multiple cases related to UberPOP. With UberPOP, anyone could become a driver without any special professional license — it’s the equivalent of UberX in the U.S. Yes, it’s super confusing because UberX in France is the equivalent of UberBLACK in the U.S. UberPOP was banned in Brussels, the Netherlands and France. According to a French court, Uber operated an illegal transportation company . The company was fined $900,000 (€800,000). Uber France appealed the judgement and asked Europe’s top court to overrule the decision. The company said that it was an information society service. And EU member countries need to notify the European Commission about law changes when it comes to information society services. But Uber has now lost in Spain and in France

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Alan raises $28.3 million for its health insurance of the future

French startup Alan closed a $28.3 million Series A round a few months ago. Index Ventures is leading the round, Xavier Niel is participating as well as existing investors CNP Assurances, Partech and Portag3 Ventures LP. Alan wants to make health insurance as simple as subscribing to a software-as-a-service product. It starts with clear pricing and transparent reimbursement policies. For instance, you can cover a 30-year-old employee for €55 per month. The price will be exactly the same for all types of companies. The only thing that changes is that you’ll pay a bit less for younger employees and more for older employees. Each employee can choose to cover their significant other for the same price, and their kids for an extra €40 per month. And then, Alan is following the startup playbook. The overall user experience is much nicer than the interface of a traditional health insurance. You get a modern dashboard where you can control and view all your health expenses, a mobile app and good customer support. You can also add life insurance from CNP Assurances from the same interface. This simple promise seems to be working quite well as Alan now covers 7,000 employees across 850 companies. As you can see, the startup has been focusing on small companies as it’s easier to make them switch

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Conserve the Sound is an archive of noises from old tape players, projectors, and other dying tech

All of us grew up around tech different from what we have today, and many of us look back on those devices with fondness. But can you recall the exact sound your first Casio keyboard made, or the cadence of a rotary phone’s clicks? Conserve the Sound aims to, well, conserve the sound of gadgets like these so that future generations will know what it sounded like to put a cartridge in the NES . It’s actually quite an old project at this point, having been funded first in 2013, but its collection has grown to a considerable size. The money came from German art institution Film & Medienstiftung NRW; the site was created (and is maintained) by creative house Chunderksen . The whole thing is suitably minimal, much like an actual museum: you find objects either by browsing randomly or by finding a corresponding tag, and are presented with some straightforward imagery and a player loaded with the carefully captured sound of the device being operated. Though the items themselves are banal, listening to these sounds of a bygone age is strangely addictive. They trigger memories or curiosity — was my Nintendo that squeaky? Didn’t my rotary phone click more? What kind was it anyway? I wonder if they have my old boombox… oh! A Viewmaster! The collection has grown over the years and continues to grow; it now includes interviews with experts in various subjects on the importance of saving these sounds. You can even submit your own, if you like. “We welcome suggestions in general, sound suggestions, stories, anecdotes and of course collaborations,” write the creators. I for one would love to revisit all the different modems and sounds I grew up using. 2400, 9600, 14.4, 28.8, all the way up to 56.6.

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Juro grabs $2M to take the hassle out of contracts

UK startup Juro, which is applying a “design centric approach” and machine learning tech to help businesses speed up the authoring and management of sales contracts, has closed $2m in seed funding led by Point Nine Capital. Prior investor Seedcamp also contributed to the round. Juro is announcing Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise’s co-founder) as an investor now too, as well as Michael Pennington (Gumtree co-founder) and the family office of Paul Forster (co-founder of Indeed.com). Back in January 2017 the London-based startup closed a $750,000 (£615k) seed round, though CEO and co-founder Richard Mabey tells us that was really better classed as an angel round — with Point Nine Capital only joining “late” in the day. “We actually could have strung it out to Series A,” he says of the funding that’s being announced now. “But we had multiple offers come in and there is so much of an explosion in demand for the machine learning that it made sense to do a round now rather than wait for the A. The whole legal industry is undergoing radical change and we want to be leading it.” Juro’s SaaS product is an integrated contracts workflow that combines contract creation, e-signing and commenting capabilities with AI-powered contract analytics. Its general focus is on customers that have to manage a high volume of contacts — such as marketplaces. The 2016-founded startup is not breaking out any customer numbers yet but says its client list includes the likes of Estee Lauder, Deliveroo and Nested. And Mabey adds that “most” of its demand is coming from enterprise at this point, noting it has “several tech unicorns and Fortune 500 companies in trial”. While design is clearly a major focus — with the startup deploying clean-looking templates and visual cues to offer a user-friendly ‘upgrade’ on traditional legal processes — the machine learning component is its scalable, value-added differentiator to serve the target b2b users by helping them identify recurring sticking points in contract negotiations and keep on top of contract renewals. Mabey tells TechCrunch the new funding will be used to double down on development of the machine learning component of the product. “We’re not the first to market in contract management by about 25 years,” he says with a smilie

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