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Tag Archives: latin-america

24 hours left to apply to Startup Battlefield Latin America

The clock is ticking: only 24 hours left to submit your application to compete in the first TechCrunch  Startup Battlefield Latin America  on November 8, 2018, in São Paulo, Brazil. Is your startup one of Latin America’s best? If so, don’t waste another minute.  Apply right here, right now  before the 24-hour clock runs out. Don’t miss your chance to launch your early-stage startup on a global stage.  Apply  no later than August 13, 2018, at 5 p.m. PST . The winning founders receive a $25,000 non-equity cash prize and a trip for two to the next TechCrunch Disrupt. While there, they can exhibit free of charge in the Startup Alley. All Startup Battlefield competitors — win or lose — reap the benefits of broad exposure to the media outlets and investors sitting in the audience. Plus, we video all the Startup Battlefield sessions and post them on TechCrunch.com. That exposure lives on long after the competition ends. All competing teams also become part of our Startup Battlefield alumni community. Since 2007, more than 750 companies have competed in Startup Battlefield. Those companies — including Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, Fitbit, Getaround and Cloudflare — have collectively raised more than $8 billion in funding and produced more than 100 exits. Here’s how the competition works. TechCrunch editors will evaluate every eligible application and select 15 founders to compete in the Battlefield, which takes place at São Paulo’s Tomie Ohtake Institute.

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AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall

TaskUs , the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group . It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment from its two co-founders, and the new deal, which values the decade-old company at $500 million before the money even comes in, is proof of how much has changed for the service in the years since it was founded. The Santa Monica-based company, which began as a browser-based virtual assistant company — “You send us a task and we get the task done,” recalled TaskUs chief executive Bryce Maddock — is now one of the main providers in the growing field of content moderation for social networks and content annotation for training the algorithms that power artificial intelligence services around the world. “What I can tell you is we do content moderation for almost every major social network and it’s the fastest growing part of our business today,” Maddock said. From a network of offices spanning the globe from Mexico to Taiwan and the Philippines to the U.S., the thirty two year-old co-founders Maddock and Jaspar Weir have created a business that’s largest growth stems from snuffing out the distribution of snuff films; child pornography; inappropriate political content and the trails of human trafficking from the user and advertiser generated content on some of the world’s largest social networks. (For a glimpse into how horrific that process can be, take a look at  this article from  Wired ,  which looked at content moderation for the anonymous messaging service, Whisper.) Maddock estimates that while the vast majority of the business was outsourcing business process services in the company’s early days (whether that was transcribing voice mails to texts for the messaging service PhoneTag, or providing customer service and support for companies like HotelTonight) now about 40% of the business comes from content moderation. Image courtesy of Getty Images Indeed, it was the growth in new technology services that attracted Blackstone to the business, according to Amit Dixit, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone. “The growth in ride sharing, social media, online food delivery, e-commerce and autonomous driving is creating an enormous need for enabling business services,” said Dixit in a statement. “TaskUs has established a leadership position in this domain with its base of marquee customers, unique culture, and relentless focus on customer delivery.” While the back office business processing services remain the majority of the company’s revenue, Maddock knows that the future belongs to an increasing automation of the company’s core services. That’s why part of the money is going to be invested in a new technology integration and consulting business that advises tech companies on which new automation tools to deploy, along with shoring up the company’s position as perhaps the best employer to work for in the world of content moderation and algorithm training services. It’s been a long five year journey to get to the place it’s in now, with glowing reviews from employees on Glassdoor and social networks like Facebook, Maddock said. The company pays well above minimum wage in the market it operates in (Maddock estimates at least a 50% premium); and provides a generous package of benefits for what Maddock calls the “frontline” teammates.

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Google To Bring 200 WiFi Hotspots To Nigeria By 2020 – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Google To Bring 200 WiFi Hotspots To Nigeria By 2020 Ubergizmo Bringing internet to the entire world is something that Google has always been interested in. Project Loon is one of Google's efforts in which they have brought internet to certain parts of the world where internet access isn't as readily available ... and more »

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Announcing TechCrunch meetups in Buenos Aires and Santiago next week

TechCrunch is heading to Latin America for the first time and staging its first ever Startup Battlefield Latin America on Nov. 8 in São Paulo to find the next wave of early stage startups tackling big ideas! To spread the word, TechCrunch’s Jon Shieber and Anna Escher will visit Buenos Aires and Santiago next week to meet with the startup community and hold meetups for anyone interested in learning more about the Startup Battlefield. They’ll also spend time explaining how to apply . Tickets to the meetups are free, but they will go fast so sign up now. Here are the details: Buenos Aires Tuesday, July 24th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm Innovation Lab Buenos Aires from Facebook @ Av. Cnel. Niceto Vega 4866, C1414BEF C1414BEF, Buenos Aires, Argentina Register here. Santiago Thursday, July 27th, 5:00pm – 7:00pm Startup Chile @ Monjitas 565, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile Register Here. At the meetup, Founders will learn how to apply for Battlefield and investors will learn how to refer companies in their portfolio. TechCrunch will provide a brief presentation on Startup Battlefield and answer questions. Application close next month, and when they do, our editors will choose 15 companies to compete, and one will win $25,000 and a free trip to the next Disrupt SF.  All the companies, however, will receive global exposure, winners or not, because video from their pitches on stage in front of top tier judges will be posted on TechCrunch. (And in case you missed it , TechCrunch COO Ned Desmond is in São Paulo and Mexico City this week hosting meetups and briefings for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Latin America.) Startup Battlefield is the world’s premier startup launch competition

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Glovo gets $134M to beef up its on-demand delivery business

Spanish startup Glovo , whose platform lets app users summon a gig economy worker to shop on their behalf, be it for a takeaway burger or a multi-bag supermarket shop, has bagged a €115 million (~$134M) Series C round of funding.  Spanish press are reporting the round values Glovo’s business at more than €300M. The lead investors in the Series C are Rakuten, Seaya and Cathay, which had also invested in its Series B. Also investing is AmRest — a publicly listed restaurant operator in Central Europe — as well as European funds Idinvest Partners and GR Capital, plus some other minor investments. AmRest controls more than 1,650 restaurants in more than 16 countries — with brands such as KFC, La Tagliatella, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Burger King, Blue Frog and KABB under its belt. So the strategic opportunities it’s spying to ply fast food fans with on-demand food at the tap of an app button are clear. Glovo raised a €30M Series B last October . The startup was founded in Barcelona in 2015, and its delivery riders — with the distinctive yellow box bags strapped to their backs — are a common sight around the city, often to be spotted clustering in expectant groups at the entrance to McDonald’s and other fast food outlets. The startup says the new funding will be put towards optimizing its platform and tech resources to improve the service to riders, users and associated stores. Specifically, it’s planning to increase its tech team by adding more than 100 engineers in the coming months — saying it wants to become what it dubs “the most relevant technology hub in Southern Europe”. It also plans to use the funds to fuel its momentum, noting it’s opened up six countries and 20 cities around the world in just three months. Its regions of focus are Latin America and EMEA areas (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), and its app is available in 61 cities in 17 countries in all at this stage

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Moto E5 Play Android Go Edition Launched – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Moto E5 Play Android Go Edition Launched Ubergizmo The Moto E5 Play is a cheaper version of the Moto E5 and there are minor differences in the specs. Motorola has now announced another iteration of the handset called the Moto E5 Play Android Go Edition. As the name suggests, this device is part of ... and more »

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Announcing TechCrunch Meetups in São Paulo and Mexico City next week

We announced recently that TechCrunch is staging its first ever Startup Battlefield Latin America on Nov. 8 in São Paulo to find the best early stage startup in Latin America.  To spread the word, TechCrunch staff will visit São Paulo and Mexico City next week and Bueno Aires and Santiago the following one to meet with the startup community and hold meetups for anyone interested in learning more about the Startup Battlefield and how to apply . Tickets to the meetups are free, but they will go fast so sign up now. Here are the details: São Paulo Tuesday,  July 17th,  7:00pm – 9:00pm Hack Station Sao Paulo  –  Avenida Paulista, 1374, Bela Vista, Sao Paulo Register here.  Mexico City Thursday, July  19th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm MassChallenge Mexico,   23 The Gold, Mexico City Register Here. At the meetup, we will provide a brief presentation on Startup Battlefield and answer questions. Our goal is to encourage founders to apply to Startup Battlefield because, who doesn’t want a shot at startup stardom? After applications close next month, the editors will choose 15 companies to compete, and one will win $25,000 and a free trip to the next Disrupt SF.  All the companies, however, will receive global exposure, winners or not, because video from their pitches on stage in front of top tier judges will be posted on TechCrunch. Startup Battlefield is the world’s premier startup launch competition. To date, the Startup Battlefield alumni community comprises almost 750 companies that have raised over $8 billion USD, and produced over 100 successful exits and IPOs.

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Apply to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Latin America

The TechCrunch crew is practically giddy to be heading to São Paulo, Brazil to host the inaugural Startup Battlefield Latin America  on November 8, 2018. This is the first time we’ve hosted an event in Latin America, and we’re stoked to cover and support the region’s fast-growing startup scene. We’re looking for 15 of Latin America’s best pre-Series A startups to go head-to-head in our premier startup pitch competition. The application deadline is August 6 at 5 p.m. PST, but if your company fits our description, why wait? Apply now to participate in Startup Battlefield . Here’s how it all works. You must meet certain eligibility requirements — see that info listed below. Our crack team of TechCrunch editors (seriously, they have mad skills when it comes to spotting potential-laden startups) review every eligible application and will select 15 companies to join us onstage at São Paulo’s Tomie Ohtake Institute. Each team receives free pitch-coaching from TechCrunch editors, so they’ll be primed and ready to do their best come the big day. The competition begins with three preliminary rounds — five startups per round will each have just six minutes to pitch their company and present their product demo to top-tier VC judges in front of a live audience of 500 people. The judges have six minutes following each pitch to ask the team probing questions. Of the 15 startups, a fortunate five will be chosen to move on to the finals and pitch again — this time to a fresh set of judges. And from those five finalists comes one shining startup to be named champion of the first Startup Battlefield Latin America. The winning founders receive US$25,000, plus a trip for two to the next TechCrunch Disrupt, where they can exhibit for free in Startup Alley.

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Spain’s Cabify ‘categorically denies’ that it is in negotiations for a full or partial sale to Lyft

Transportation-on-demand service Lyft , now valued at over $15 billion after raising another $600 million in June , is on the hunt to scale its business. One move it might not be making soon, however, is to expand operations into Spain and Latin America by way of an acquisition of one of the leading players in the region. Cabify says it “categorically denies” that it is in conversations with Lyft for a full or partial acquisition: the two were reported by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial  (and subsequently reblogged by others ) to be in negotiations, with Lyft preparing to pay up to $3 billion for the company, although the two might partner in future to provide services to each other’s customers in their respective footprints. “We categorically deny the rumors about alleged conversations in relation to the sale of the company,” the company said in a written statement (in Spanish originally… see Spanish statement at the bottom of this post). “Cabify has not been meeting with managers of this or other companies to negotiate a possible partial or full sale of Cabify. The company is in an unbeatable state of financial health and sustainable growth, and continues to establish itself in a leading position in the markets in which it operates. “As we have previously said, the company remains committed to a plan for an IPO in Spain, potentially in the next 12 to 24 months.” The company was last valued at $1.4 billion after a fundraise of $160 million earlier this year . Cabify’s spokesperson further said that the two companies have not been meeting for any kind of negotiation, and would not comment on whether the two might work together on any kind of ridesharing partnership, whereby customers of Lyft, for example, could use the Cabify app when travelling in the 38 cities in Latin America, Spain and Portugal where it operates. “We have nothing to state about that either,” she said. “If we have news in the future, I will for sure let you know.” A partnership between the two makes some sense, but might also be complicated, in equal measure.

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Walmart sells 80% of its Brazilian operation to Advent Intl, will record $4.5B loss as a result

Walmart’s ongoing push to cut away unprofitable or slow-growing international operations, to shore up its resources to compete against Amazon at home and in Asia on digital fronts, had another development today. The world’s largest retailer today announced that it has finalised a deal to sell 80 percent of its business in Brazil to private equity firm Advent International, with Walmart keeping the remaining 20 percent. The deal has been in the works for months and is expected to close later this year. Walmart and Advent are not disclosing the terms of the deal (we are asking) but Walmart did note in a statement that it would record a non-cash net loss of $4.5 billion in Q2 as a result. “A significant portion of the net loss is due to the recognition of cumulative foreign currency translation losses and the final loss could fluctuate significantly due to changes in currency exchange rates up to the date of close,” noted Walmart. Although Brazil represents the biggest single market in Latin America, the company has found it a struggle to grow that business substantially and last quarter said that it would wind down its first-party e-commerce business in Brazil, too. “Walmart is committed to building strong, resilient businesses that continuously adapt to local customers’ needs in a rapidly changing world,” said Enrique Ostale, EVP and CEO of Walmart UK, Latin America and Africa, in a statement. “We will retain a stake in Walmart Brazil and continue to share our global retail expertise, giving our Brazil business the best opportunity for long-term growth, providing opportunities for associates and low prices for customers.” Advent is a prolific investor and controls a number of businesses in Brazil , including many retail companies, and the idea appears to be to use some of that to expand the operation in ways that Walmart hadn’t managed to do on its own. “We have been in Brazil for over 20 years and are excited about this partnership with one of the country’s leading retailers,” said Patrice Etlin, a Managing Partner at Advent International in Brazil, in a statement. “We believe that with our local market knowledge and retail expertise we can position the company to generate significant results and reach new levels of success in Brazil.

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YouTeam is a marketplace for offshore developer talent

While software is said to be eating the world, software developers and other technical talent remains in short supply. Not only is this seeing major tech companies compete hard to hire the best engineers, but it has also meant a rise in the use of remote working freelancers or turning to offshore agencies. The problem with either solution, however, is the same: how to ensure outsourced work will be of high quality and that the individuals working on your project will be a good fit with the rest of your team. Enter YouTeam , a U.K. startup and recent graduate of Y Combinator, which has created what it calls a marketplace for offshore talent. The company’s platform connects individual developers at agencies (and large companies that have spare developer capacity) with companies needing to add to their own development teams through outsourcing. In this way the aim is to bridge the gap between hiring an individual freelancer and the added vetting and accountability using an agency affords. “Numerous times in our former companies we were let down by our software development partners and suppliers,” YouTeam co-founder and CEO Anton Mishchenko recalls. “For starters, it’s hard to objectively identify a reliable company because there is no unified industry standard for doing so. Secondly, it is impossible to know whether a company has the right team for the project because they rarely disclose information about their engineers until the contract is signed. Thirdly, the interests of the client and the supplier can often fork in different directions and so there is often limited trust, especially in the beginning of their relationship”

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Kaspersky to move some core infrastructure out of Russia to fight for trust

Russian cybersecurity software maker  Kaspersky Labs  has announced it will be moving core infrastructure processes to Zurich, Switzerland, as part of a shift announced last year to try to win back customer trust. It also said it’s arranging for the process to be independently supervised by a Switzerland-based third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. “By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow,” it writes in a press release. “Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. “The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organization, and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.” In  October  the company unveiled what it dubbed a “comprehensive transparency initiative” as it battled suspicion  that its antivirus software had been hacked or penetrated by the Russian government and used as a route for scooping up US intelligence. Since then Kaspersky has  closed its Washington D.C. office  — after a ban on its products for U.S. government use which was signed into law by president Trump in December . Being a trusted global cybersecurity firm and operating core processes out of Russia where authorities might be able to lean on your company for access has essentially become untenable as geopolitical concern over the Kremlin’s online activities has spiked in recent years. Yesterday the Dutch government became the latest public sector customer to announce a move away from Kaspersky products (via Reuters ) — saying it was doing so as a “precautionary measure”, and advising companies operating vital services to do the same.

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Brazil’s tech startups begin to expand globally

Startups in Brazil, Latin America’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem, are no longer solely focused on Brazil as their only frontier to conquer. Based on conversations with founders and in tracking the news, dozens of startups born in Brazil have realized they can compete on a global scale and expand their companies quickly by exporting their business models to other regional markets around the world, including Canada, Colombia, Europe, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. Traditionally, many Brazilian startups have been content to focus on growing their revenues and market share on the “Ilha de Santa Cruz” (Island of the True Cross, as Brazil was named by a Portuguese sea-captain in 1500). There is plenty to feast on here with a growing middle class, the citizens’ voracious appetite for social and digital media consumption and a population of nearly 211,000,000. More so than other major entrepreneurial centers, Brazil’s founders are known for bootstrapping early-stage companies and avoiding global expansion, as the capital can be costly and lead to a dilution in shares in their startups. Yet, as the country that is home to the world’s eighth largest economy slowly pulls out of a long recession with its first annual uptick in GDP last year, increasingly the “Brazilians are coming” to compete in more international markets — and more rapidly than ever before. Entrepreneurial expansion outside the country is on the rise as the startup ecosystem becomes more mature, and against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of global investment coming into Brazil from China, Japan, Europe, Silicon Valley and beyond. Indeed, international investment in LatAm startups has “ more than doubled since 2013 .” Another trend that’s providing more Brazilian companies with the capital needed to fuel their global expansion is the “flurry of equity deals” during the first part of 2018, “ahead of the presidential elections in October that are expected to prompt volatility in the markets,” according to  Bloomberg Markets . For example, NYSE’s biggest IPO since Snap earlier this year raised nearly $2.3 billion for Brazilian fintech PagSeguro (NYSE:PAGS), a payment processing company similar in business model to Jack Dorsey’s Square. It was the largest IPO of a Brazilian company since 2011. Brazil’s export of fast-growth startups is on the rise There has been a growing stream of Brazilian startups that have begun to shift focus to the U.S.

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iZettle, the ‘Square of Europe’, plans IPO to raise around $227M, valuing it at $1.1B

The strong climate for tech IPOs at the moment is leading yet more mature startups to set up their own plans to list, and the latest development on that front is coming out Sweden. iZettle , the payments and small business financial services startup that is often referred to as the “Square of Europe,” with some 413,000 business customers, today confirmed plans  to list on Nasdaq in Stockholm. The company plans to raise 2 billion Swedish kronor ($227 million at current rates), giving it an estimated valuation of about SEK10 billion ($1.1 billion). Jacob deGeer, iZettle’s co-founder and CEO, said in an interview that the plan is to use the proceeds to “execute on our ambitious growth strategy” both by continuing to serve small and medium businesses but also by turning its focus also to larger merchants and other companies in Europe and Latin America, the two markets where iZettle is currently active. The company is currently operating at a loss, but it’s growing quickly with that loss narrowing. In its prospectus, iZettle said it forecasts consolidated net revenue (gross revenue less interchange and card scheme fees) growth of at least 40 percent annually, with a profit — specifically, positive consolidated Ebitda — “by the year ended December 31, 2020.” “Our growth is driven by two factors,” DeGeer said in an email interview, “an increase in the number of active users and improved user engagement. Our strategy going forward is to grow our merchant base in existing markets as well as shift the mix towards slightly larger merchants, though our focus will continue to remain on small businesses.” iZettle notes that the listing would happen sometime in 2018 but has not yet specified an exact date. Along with the IPO announcement, iZettle has published its most up-to-date financials, which confirm that the company is still operating at a loss, but with that margin shrinking as its revenues continue to grow. In the first three months of 2018, the company reported negative earnings before tax, depreciation and amortization of SEK73 million ($8.3 million), slightly narrower than its negative Ebitda of SEK78 million ($8.8 million). More details on its financials below. iZettle’s announcement puts to rest IPO speculation that has been swirling around the company for a while now, which reached a crescendo pitch last week. It also comes less than five months after the company raised its last funding — $47 million at a $950 million valuation . A number of strong tech IPOs so far this year point to a sympathetic climate for more to list, rather than stay private and raise more growth funds that way. “We were founded eight years ago and have grown from a start-up to a mature fintech company,” DeGeer said.

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Moto g6 and e5 Smartphones Unveiled

The new moto g6 and moto e5 smartphone families are smarter than ever and focus on display, design and power. The new  moto g6  plus is picture perfect in every way. Featuring a 5.9″, 18:9 aspect ratio, its Full HD Max Vision display delivers vivid colors and all the fine details. Capture the most creative shots using its advanced software, and focus in an instant with Dual Autofocus Pixel technology. Taking great pictures even in low light just got easier, thanks to its large f/1.7 aperture and 1.4um pixel size.

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