Home / Tag Archives: publisher

Tag Archives: publisher

Tempow’s Bluetooth stack can improve your TV setup

French startup Tempow has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol at a low level to make it more versatile. The company is introducing a new audio profile for your TV or set-top box. TV and set-top box manufacturers can license Tempow’s software and integrate new features in their devices. It works with regular Bluetooth chips, but it opens up new possibilities. In particular, Tempow has been working on a one-to-many pairing model. You can pair multiple Bluetooth speakers with your TV to create a wireless surround system using good old Bluetooth speakers. The reason why soundbars slowly replaced 5.1 systems is that you don’t have to run cables on the floor to the back speakers. Tempow solves that, and Bluetooth speakers are much cheaper than a bunch of Sonos speakers. With Tempow’s stack, you can also stream different audio tracks to different devices. In other words, you could pair multiple headphones with your TV and watch a movie in different languages. If your kid is too young to read subtitles, you no longer need to make compromises. You can also configure each speaker individually so that you can reproduce the same sound profile across the board, even if you’re using speakers from different brands. The startup first worked on an audio profile for smartphones

Read More »

Sinemia drops prices for its movie ticket subscriptions, which now start a $3.99 per month

MoviePass competitor Sinemia is lowering prices on the already low-cost movie ticket subscription plans that it introduced earlier this year . Its monthly prices are being cut by $1 across-the-board. The cheapest plan now costs $3.99 per month, which gets you one standard movie ticket for that month. The priciest one, which covers three tickets (and includes 3D, 4D and IMAX screens), now costs $13.99 per month. Sinemia says it’s also offering discounts on its family plans , and on plans in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. You might think that this summer promotion (which ends on September 3) seems timed to take advantage of the negative publicity around MoviePass’ new “peak pricing” for popular movies , and Sinemia’s press release doesn’t exactly deny it — the release literally begins: “At a time when MoviePass is running surge pricing …” Sinemia subscribers also benefit from being able to purchase tickets in advance. And unlike AMC’s Stubs A-List program , Sinemia isn’t limited to a specific theater chain. One caveat is that these plans are billed annually, so you’ll be making a bigger commitment upfront. On the bright side, this presumably locks in the lower price for a full year. “With the release of highly-anticipated summer blockbusters, and with seasonal temperatures hitting record highs, we want to provide moviegoers a more affordable way to see must-watch films and get a break from the heat,” said Sinemia founder and CEO Rifat Oguz in the release.

Read More »

Self-driving car startup Zoox is raising $500 million at a $3.2 billion valuation

Zoox , a once-secretive self-driving car startup, is closing a $500 million at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation, Bloomberg Businessweek reports . Prior to the deal, Zoox was valued at $2.7 billion, Zoox confirmed to TechCrunch. The round, led by Mike Cannon-Brookes of Grok Ventures, brings its total amount of funding to $800 million. Zoox’s plan, according to Bloomberg, is to publicly deploy autonomous vehicles by 2020 in the form of its own ride-hailing service. The cars themselves will be all-electric and fully autonomous. Meanwhile, ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft are also working on autonomous vehicles, as well as a number of other large players in the space. Zoox, which turned four years old this month, is a 500-person company founded by Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson. In the meantime, head over to Bloomberg for the full rundown.

Read More »

House Rep suggests converting Facebook into a public utility

Amidst vague and uninformed questions during today’s House Judiciary hearing with Facebook, Google, and Twitter on social media filtering practices, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) dropped a bombshell. “What about converting the large behemoth organizations we’re talking about here into public utilities?” King’s suggestion followed his inquiries about right-wing outlet Gateway Pundit losing reach on social media and how Facebook’s algorithm worked. The insinuation was that these companies cannot properly maintain fair platforms for discourse. The Representative also suggested that there may be need for “review” of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that protects interactive computer services from being treated as the publisher of content users post on their platforms. If that rule was changed, social media companies could be held responsible for illegal content from copyright infringement or child pornography appearing on their platform. That would potentially cripple the social media industry, requiring extensive pre-vetting of any content they display. The share prices of the tech giants did not see significant declines upon the Representative’s comments, indicating the markets don’t necessarily fear that overbearing regulation of this nature is likely. This story is developing

Read More »

The Rising STAR robot can run, flip, and crawl

A clever little robot made by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can roll around, flip itself over, and even crawl like a turtle through rough terrain. The robot uses wheels, a set of star-shaped rollers, and cleverly articulated arms to ride along at various speeds. The robot, called Rising STAR , uses wheels and spoked “whegs” to roll around at about one meter per second and it can fold itself flat and pull itself forward when it finds mud or sand. It can also make itself very skinny to ride through tight spots and can even flip itself over if it falls. A weighted “head” can keep the robot balanced as it tools along, allowing it to climb up and over steep surfaces and, the researchers say, even sneak through pipes or between tight walls. Rising STAR is an updated version of the university’s Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot that it displayed in 2013. This new version is far more capable and, thanks to its “whegs” and turtle-gait, far cooler.

Read More »

Meero raises $45 million for its on-demand photography service

Have you ever wondered why photos on Airbnb, UberEats and your favorite hotel platform always look so good? French startup Meero has been working on a marketplace and AI-powered technology to make it easy to get good photos of products and places. The company has raised a new $45 million round led by Alven Capital and Idinvest. Eight months ago, Meero already raised $15 million from Global Founders Capital, Aglaé Ventures, Alven Capital and White Star Capital. “We focused on this idea because we wanted to make the web beautiful,” co-founder and CEO Thomas Rebaud told me last year. “We realized that we are all on Instagram and that photos are beautiful. But then, you go on a marketplace and photos aren’t great.” The company first looked at the real estate market and partnered with real estate companies to optimize the photography process as much as possible. It starts with finding a photographer. Instead of working with hundreds of photographers in hundreds of cities, Meero lets you find a photographer in over a hundred countries. Prices, contracts and processes are all standardized in order to avoid any surprise. Meero takes a cut on every transaction. After the shooting, photographers usually have to spend hours selecting and editing the best photos.

Read More »

Tiger Global reportedly pours more than $1B into SoftBank, saying its shares are “undervalued”

Tiger Global has poured more than $1 billion into SoftBank Group, according to the Financial Times . The newspaper reports that the firm told investors SoftBank’s shares are “meaningfully undervalued.” In response to a request for comment, SoftBank sent the same statement to TechCrunch as other media outlets: “We continue to believe the market significantly undervalues our stock and we welcome the support from a sophisticated institutional investor like Tiger Global.” Tiger Global and SoftBank share several investments in common, including Alibaba, Flipkart and Uber. According to a quarterly investor letter obtained by the Financial Times, Tiger Global wrote that “the combination of a world-class set of assets trading at a record discount to net asset value strikes us as an odd anomaly that is unlikely to exist forever.” It also said that “in our view, the opportunity to buy the shares cheaply exists today because SoftBank’s stock has not appreciated in nearly five years, even though the value of its Alibaba stake has increased by over $90 billion, more than SoftBank’s entire market capitalization.” The Financial Times reports that Tiger Global believes SoftBank can create an additional $73 billion of value before tax if its $100 billion Vision Fund returns 2.5 times its original investment over the next seven years. Other growth prospects it cited include the upcoming initial public offering of SoftBank Mobile , its Japanese telecoms unit, and the potential merger of Sprint, which SoftBank holds a majority stake in, and T-Mobile, pending regulatory approval.

Read More »

Pinterest is adding a way for users to collaborate on boards

Pinterest is trying to further tap its popularity as a place to plan events, this time adding ways for users to collaborate across boards that are baked directly into the app. Group boards will have their own designated feed, where users will be able to communicate with others collaborating on that board and also get updates on new member additions or added pins. There are also the other typical social structures you’d expect on an app these days, including @-mentions or liking comments. It’s another step to get people onto Pinterest and sticking around as they look to plan events, and create more ways to make the platform more and more sticky. It’s also another quality-of-life improvement that Pinterest seems to have needed for quite some time. It’s those kinds of events — weddings, parties and others — that propelled Pinterest initially to become one of the larger social networks in the early 2010s. The company late last year said it had more than 200 million monthly active users , which while small compared to the likes of Instagram or Facebook, serves as a hub for a different kind of user behavior than you might find on those other platforms. The majority of the content on Pinterest is high-resolution products from businesses, where people will search for or save those products as they look to plan future life events. Pinterest has tried to position itself as one of the best ways to discover new ideas, whether that’s stumbling upon something in a primary feed or finding something through searching. Over time, it’s added more and more tools to try to get people to come back more regularly, and if it continues to improve those recommendation engines, it can continue to run that feedback loop and keep users more and more attached to the platform. Adding a sort of light social pressure from friends that are sharing ideas and looking for feedback is one way to do that, in addition to it generally being useful. All that is good for its pitch to advertisers as well. Pinterest, in addition to trying to cater to that unique kind of user behavior, is also trying to sell itself to advertisers as a platform where they can reach potential customers through ways they wouldn’t be able to with primary advertising channels like Facebook or Google. By making the platform more sticky, it can go back to those advertisers and offer them better engagement metrics and show that users stick around and are paying closer attention to content on Pinterest, which can in turn drive that additional value to advertisers.

Read More »

Aurora Labs raises $8.4 million to bring its self-healing software to cars

Aurora Labs, a company that has created predictive tools that will automatically fix problems with software in cars, has raised $8.4 million in a Series A round of financing led by Fraser McCombs Capital. Previous investor MizMaa Ventures also joined the round. The Tel Aviv-based company, which just came out of stealth a few months ago, developed Aurora Labs  plans to use the additional funds it expand its presence beyond its new offices in Munich, Germany and Tel Aviv headquarters. The company has 17 employees and plans to add a handful more by the end of year as well as open sales offices in Detroit and San Francisco, CEO and Co-founder of Aurora Labs Zohar Fox told TechCrunch. Vehicles today have millions of lines of code. As the automotive industry becomes increasingly reliant on software, the risk of glitches impacting the operation of vehicles grows. And it’s already proving to be a costly problem for automakers. Some 15 million vehicles globally were recalled in 2017 for software flaws, according to Aurora Labs. Aurora Labs developed a platform designed to detect (and even predict) problems and then fix any issues on the fly. It can also provide over-the-air software updates to allow automakers the ability to make swift changes to electronic control unit software. The company already has a few takers in its tech. Aurora Labs has locked in three unnamed automakers as customers and pilots are underway. The company’s tech might be useful for today’s connected cars.

Read More »

Instagram continues to promote Stories interactivity with new Q&A widget

Instagram is still exploring what types of more traditional (feed-based) social interactions in can inject into the Stories format. The company has integrated some of these experimentations into Stories pretty seamlessly so far, mainly because they haven’t been all that jarringly text-heavy. They’ve introduced a slider and polling widget that accompany questions users can slap onto photos or videos they’ve taken, but for the most part it’s all been pretty simplistic. Instagram is wading deeper into the waters of a feed/stories hybrid as it seeks to foster greater interaction out of a medium that has always seemed to be at its best when it comes to passively sucking up content. A new “Questions Sticker,” which the company is introducing today, gives users a way to ask their followers for questions that they can then selectively share and reply to publicly inside their Stories feed. This functionality could be a major boon to “influencers” on the platform who have plenty of curious fans who are interested in finding out more about them in a way that’s a little less aggressive than sending a DM. The way the original poster can see all the various responses while others cannot is certainly a bit unique compared to the typical commenting situation on an Instagram post, and while it might not give all users an eye into a conversation, there’s a lot less potential for things going wrong. Instagram seems to be treading pretty carefully on the privacy front these days, you won’t even be able to see the handle of the person who asked a question to a user, this whole process is about the outward projection rather than the conversation which is a unique evolution for an interaction between two users on Instagram. Whether these new updates are just tests or signs of an ideological shift is likely just dependent on how popular they grow to become. Instagram Stories is a copied feature that has become core to the app, but it’s clear that Instagram is looking to evolve the medium and put their own spin on it that builds out more interactions between users.

Read More »

EA buys studio from the co-creator of ‘Halo’

EA is still covering very familiar ground with most of its games. However, it's willing to branch out a bit: the publisher has acquired Industrial Toys, the studio from former Bungie CEO and Halo co-creator Alex Seropian. His team will join EA's Wo...

Read More »

Captiv8 is making its influencer database available for free

You might think that the main selling point of an influencer marketing startup like Captiv8 is to help marketers find influencers and creators to work with. Maybe so, but that isn’t stopping the company from making its creator discovery product available for free. “We felt that we really wanted to just open up that ecosystem, to provide brands access to find and research influencers without having to pay for it,” co-founder Krishna Subramanian told me. Through the free product, marketers can look through the 1 million-plus influencers indexed on the platform — in some cases, those profiles are based entirely on public data, but influencers can also claim them and provide additional data. Marketers can then search based on filters like personality archetype, content type, location, representation and much more. Plus, Captiv8 is offering demographic and brand affinity data about an influencer’s audiences. Until now, Subramanian said that if you weren’t paying for a service like Captiv8, you could only find influencers in scattershot, ad hoc ways, like reading articles about the top influencers in various categories. On Captiv8, meanwhile, marketers are apparently spending two hours per day on creator discovery, saving them 60 percent of the time they would have spent on the process. So why make it available for free? While brands like Dr Pepper, Snapple, StubHub and Honda already use Captiv8, Subramanian said the goal is to “widen the funnel,” turning this into “the default place” where marketers go to learn about influencers. And then, of course, the company can upsell you on Captiv8’s entire “end-to-end SaaS platform,” charging for additional audience data, as well as tools like campaign management, measurement and social listening.

Read More »

YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode is live for all U.S. Android users

YouTube has confirmed that picture-in-picture mode – previously a paid-only feature – has now rolled out to all U.S. YouTube users on Android on supported devices. The feature, which works on Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher, had been slowly rolling out to non-Premium subscribers since this April we understand, and the full rollout had completed on Monday. The website  XDA Developers was the first to spot the expansion, noting earlier this week that it seemed as if picture-in-picture mode had suddenly been turned on for several more YouTube users. They suspected that this had been a gradual launch, but didn’t confirm the status with YouTube directly. Picture-in-picture mode, as you likely understand by its name, allows you to continue watching a video in a small window as you continue to browse YouTube, or even use other apps. It’s an especially helpful addition to the service, but had only been offered to YouTube Premium (previously known as YouTube Red) customers following its launch last year. The feature is an improvement over the current system of watching while browsing on iOS, as well, which instead places a floating strip at the bottom of the app where the video plays in a very small thumbnail. YouTube has not announced its plans for a related iOS update. But it would not be able to work in the same way in terms of placing a floating widget that hovers over top of the home screen or other apps – that’s something only Android users can do.

Read More »

Plum, the fintech chatbot that helps you save, adds theme-based investing

Plum , the fintech startup co-founded by early TransferWise employee Victor Trokoudes , is continuing its mission to help you manage your finances and save money. The AI-powered Messenger chatbot already offers savings functionality, including round-ups and regular savings, and today is launching an investment tool that lets you choose fund investments based on themes, such as ethical companies or technology. Similar to competitors Cleo and Chip , Plum connects to your bank accounts and its algorithm then analyses your spending patterns to work out how much you can afford to set aside. It is able to identify things like income and bills, and can take a number of actions on your behalf. This includes ‘micro-savings’ — rounding up any purchases you make — and other forms of regular saving, in which money is moved from your bank account to a segregated Plum savings account. From there you’re able to optionally put money into RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lending platform, if you wish to earn interest. However, savings is only one pillar of Plum’s three pillar strategy. The other two are investments and spotting when you are paying too much for things like credit or utilities. Investing is getting an official launch today (having been announced in wait-list form a few months ago), and Trokoudes tells me energy switching, in partnership with green energy company Octopus, has been live for a while. If Plum detects that a user could reduce their home energy bill, it sends them a message offering to initiate the switch on their behalf. Along with letting you invest at three different risk levels, Plum’s new investment tool provides theme-based investing.

Read More »