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Tag Archives: middle

The Morning After: VAR and Roborace

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous. You've made it to the middle of the week. We have just enough time to discuss the future of Nest and how VAR impacted the World Cup, along with a significant promise for the future of AI.

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Scale Venture Partners has a new $400 million fund to invest in enterprise companies

Scale Venture Partners, an 18-year-old, early-stage venture firm that focuses on software companies, has closed its sixth fund with $400 million, up slightly from the $335 million the firm raised in early 2016. Among its biggest hits: the e-signature company DocuSign, which went public in April; the online data storage company Box, which went public in 2015; and the marketing software company HubSpot, which went public in 2014. We talked late last week with firm co-founder Rory O’Driscoll, who runs the firm with a handful of longtime colleagues, to learn where the team plans to invest their newest dollars. Our conversation has been lightly edited here for length. TC: Congrats on your new fund. The size isn’t so afield from your last fund. Are there any dramatic changes from a staffing standpoint? RO: No dramatic changes. The investing partners are myself, Stacey Bishop, Andy Vitus and Arial Tseitlin, all of whom were partners in fund five. Alex Niehenke was a principal and now he’s a partner in fund six. Firm co-founder Kate Mitchell stepped back in the middle of the last fund; she’s now a partner emeritus and advisor. TC: You’ve had a fair number of IPOs.

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“Everyone is talking to everyone” — rideshare investor bypasses Uber-Careem rumor

Ride-hailing giant Uber is in talks over a possible merger with Middle East rival Careem , according to  Bloomberg  — citing three people familiar with the matter. The report suggests various deal structures have been discussed, although it also says that no deal has been reached — nor may ever be reached, as discussions are ongoing and may not come to anything. Bloomberg’s sources told it that Uber has said it would need to own more than half of the combined company, if not buy Careem outright. Among the possible arrangements that have been discussed are for Careem’s current leaders to manage a new combined business, day to day, with potentially both brands being retained in local markets. Another proposal would have Uber outright acquire Careem. Bloomberg also reports that Dubai-based Careem is in talks with investors to raise $500 million, which it says could value the ride-hailing company at  about $1.5BN . Careem is said to have held early talks with banks about a potential IPO in January. Neither company has publicly confirmed any talks. An Uber spokesman declined to comment when asked to confirm or deny talks with Careem. While a Careem spokeswoman, Maha Abouelenein, told us: “We do not comment on rumors. Our focus remains to build the leading internet platform for the region, from the region. That means expanding to new markets and doubling down on our existing markets by adding new products and services to the platform.

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Review: The V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless headphones look and sound beautiful

Damn. These are good looking headphones. The V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless could be the best looking headphones available. Better yet, they sound good, too. As the name suggests, this is the second generation of this series of headphones from V-Moda. The drivers are different and the company improved on the build quality. The originals were already one of my favorite headphones and the followup is even better. gallery ids="1667954,1667951,1667952,1667950,1667953,1667955,1667956" Here’s what I like: The build quality of these headphones is superb. The V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless headphones feel like they’ll last a lifetime. I have headphones from Bose, Definitive, Denon, Shinola, Audeze and more and none look or feel as good as these. They’re comfortable. Even on my large head, they fit nicely and I’m able to wear them for hours at a time without issue. The headphones sound great, too.

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Startup Battlefield is coming to the Middle East and North Africa, apply today

TechCrunch is hosting its first startup competition for entrepreneurs across the Middle East and North Africa! We’ve wanted to bring TechCrunch to the region for a long time, and now thanks to our sponsor Facebook , TechCrunch is bringing the Startup Battlefield competition to Beirut on October 3 this year, hosted at the Beirut Digital District (BDD), in the heart of the Lebanese startup scene. We’re looking for the Middle East and North Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs to participate in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 . Startups of all kinds shooting for an exit or IPO should apply. TechCrunch will host the event at BDD in Beirut in front of a live audience and top judges, and the show will be covered on TechCrunch. The judges will choose a winner, “The Middle East’s Most Promising Startup,” whose founders will win US$25,000 in no-equity cash plus a paid trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time). If you want to throw your hat in the ring  apply today . Science, technology and innovation have deep roots in the Middle East and North Africa, where the world’s first university was founded in Morocco in 859, and the world’s first medical center was founded in Cairo in 972. The startup world is increasingly focused on applications for artificial intelligence, whose algebraic roots date back to ancient Syria and Iraq. Past and present, the region is known for rich cultures producing great works of art, culture and scientific discovery. Today, venture investment and startup ecosystem development are on the rise across the region. Careem, a Middle East unicorn and ride-hailing app, is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, while training female drivers in Saudi Arabia. Last summer, Amazon acquired Souq.com for $580 million, while regional investors poured a billion dollars into a local competitor, Noon. TechCrunch is eager to take part in covering the Middle East and North Africa’s burgeoning tech sector more fully.

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Amazon finally made its e-commerce service usable for international customers

Amazon is making a push to globalize its e-commerce service after it added a new international shipping feature  to reach more than 100 countries. The core Amazon service itself is still limited to a handful of countries — primarily the U.S., Western Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Singapore — but the new feature at least makes its mobile apps usable for those who live in other countries and want to buy items. Now, by switching to this new international shipping mode , customers in markets where Amazon doesn’t have a local presence, can see products that can be shipped to their location. The app will also calculate additions such as shipping and handling costs and import fees. Unfortunately, since this isn’t a full international launch, the actual selection of products and those additional charges — in particular the dread ‘import tax’ segment — hasn’t changed. Amazon is just made things clearer for international audiences, who previously had to scroll through products using a different Amazon country website (e.g. the U.S.) to find items that ship overseas. That was very tedious and hardly worth the effort. Now, the service will show products that Amazon can deliver to a user’s location. A small details perhaps, but it is a major step because the entire service suddenly becomes usable in over 100 countries, although the product range is limited and prices are subject to those aforementioned additional costs. For me, based in Thailand, those fees added some 75 percent to the price of some products, which, coupled with a wait for delivery, makes Amazon less attractive. But that’s offset by free delivery on large orders, although the total spend that qualifies for that appears to differ based on location. Amazon explains how to access its international shipping mode In true Amazon fashion , it isn’t saying exactly how many markets this international service reaches — other than “over a hundred countries” — but it did claim it has 45 million products that ship globally from U.S.-based sellers. The international service itself supports five languages — English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, German and Brazilian Portuguese — with payment possible in 25 different currencies

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Sophisticated APT surveillance malware comes to Google Play

Enlarge (credit: portal gda ) Hackers pushing nation-state-style surveillance malware recently scored a major coup by getting three advanced malicious applications hosted in Google's official Play marketplace , researchers said. Google removed the apps after receiving notification of their presence. The mAPTs, short for mobile advanced persistent threats, likely came from two separate groups that both target people in the Middle East, Michael Flossman, head of threat intelligence at mobile security company Lookout, told Ars. The three apps combined received about 650 to 1,250 downloads, according to Google Play figures. All three of them gave attackers considerable control over infected phones. The apps—two from a family known as ViperRat and the third from the Desert Scorpion family—represent one of the few known times mAPTs have been found in the official Google market. The attackers' success is largely the result of a modular design where malicious functionality isn’t part of the initial version first downloaded from the Play Store. Rather, the surveillance capabilities come in a second stage that's downloaded later. Previously, both hacker groups relied largely on social engineering that tricked targets into downloading apps from third-party markets. The ability to get the apps hosted in Play is considered a win because it gives targets much more assurance that the apps are legitimate. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How Facebook plans to colonize gaming

Facebook is in the middle of a public relations nightmare, caused by reports that research firm Cambridge Analytica used its site to harvest data from 50 million user profiles. But, that's not stopping the company from talking up the potential of its...

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Microsoft announces its first cloud regions in the Middle East

Microsoft today announced  its plans for a major expansion of the Microsoft Cloud with the launch of its first cloud regions in the Middle East. These new regions, which are scheduled to go online in 2019, will be located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and will host the company’s usual Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 services. “Microsoft has been present in the Middle East for more than two decades and is deeply invested in the region in many ways,” said Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf, in today’s announcement . “Driven by strong customer demand for cloud computing, local data centers were the logical next step given the enormous opportunity that the cloud presents. In areas like digital transformation, and the development of new intelligent services, our ambition is for the Microsoft Cloud to form a strategic part of the backbone for regional economic development.” The region of the Middle East is relatively late in adopting cloud computing, but that also means that it has a lot of room left to grow . Microsoft is clearly trying to get ahead of this trend. It’s worth noting that Amazon, too, has already announced its plans for a region in Bahrain which will open in about a year , while Google has not announced any plans to enter this market yet. In addition to the new Middle East regions, Microsoft also today announced its first region in Switzerland (with data centers around Geneva and Zurich), which is scheduled to go online in 2019. In Germany, the company is launching an additional cloud region and in France, the Microsoft Cloud is now generally available. In total, Microsoft now offers 50 regions around the globe, with plans for 12 new regions in the works already.

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