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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.

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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? While this problem is at large, it’s no good changing your password — Comcast will just provide any malicious actor the new one.

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SpaceX rocket will make a pit stop 305 miles up to deploy NASA satellites before moving on

Tuesday is the planned launch for a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying two payloads to orbit — and this launch will be an especially interesting one. A set of five communications satellites for Iridium need to get to almost 500 miles up, but a NASA mission has to pop out at the 300 mile mark. What to do? Just make a pit stop, it turns out. Now, of course it’s not a literal stop — the thing will be going thousands of miles per hour. But from the reference frame of the rocket itself, it’s not too different from pulling over to let a friend out before hitting the gas again and rolling on to the next destination. What will happen is this: The rocket’s first stage will take it up out of the atmosphere, then separate and hopefully land safely. The second stage will then ignite to take its payload up to orbit. Usually at this point it’ll burn until it reaches the altitude and attitude required, then deploy the payload. But in this case it has a bit more work to do. When the rocket has reached 305 miles up, it will dip its nose 30 degrees down and roll a bit to put NASA’s twin GRACE-FO satellites in position. One has to point toward Earth, the other toward space. Once in position, the separation system will send the two birds out, one in each direction, at a speed of about a foot per second. The one on the Earth side will be put into a slightly slower and lower orbit than the one on the space side, and after they’ve spread out to a distance of 137 miles, the lower satellite will boost itself upwards and synchronize with the other.

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Sony shrinks its Digital Paper tablet down to a more manageable 10 inches

I had a great time last year with Sony’s catchily named DPT-RP1 , an e-paper tablet that’s perfect for reading PDFs and other big documents, but one of my main issues was simply how big the thing is. Light and thin but 13 inches across, the tablet was just unwieldy. Heeding (I assume) my advice, Sony is putting out a smaller version and I can’t wait to try it out. At the time, I was comparing the RP1 with the reMarkable, a crowdfunded rival that offers fantastic writing ability but isn’t without its flaws. Watch this great video I made: The 10-inch DPT-CP1 has a couple small differences from its larger sibling. The screen has a slightly lower resolution but should be the same PPI — it’s more of a cutout of the original screen than a miniaturization. And it’s considerably lighter: 240 grams to the 13-inch version’s 350. Considering the latter already felt almost alarmingly light, this one probably feels like it’ll float out of your hands and enter orbit. More important are the software changes. There’s a new mobile app for iOS and Android that should make loading and sharing documents easier. A new screen-sharing mode sounds handy but a little cumbrous — you have to plug it into a PC and then plug the PC into a display. And PDF handling has been improved so that you can jump to pages, zoom and pan and scan through thumbnails more easily. Limited interaction (think checkboxes) is also possible. There’s nothing that addresses my main issue with both the RP1 and the reMarkable: that it’s a pain to do anything substantial on the devices, such as edit or highlight in a document, and if you do, it’s a pain to bring that work into other environments.

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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 .

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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

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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.

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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.

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Alibaba’s newest initiative aims to make Hong Kong a global AI hub

Alibaba is teaming up with SenseTime, the world’s highest-valued AI startup, to launch a not-for-profit artificial intelligence lab in Hong Kong in a bid to make the city a global hub for artificial intelligence. Alibaba, which is SenseTime’s largest single investor thanks to a recent $600 million round at a valuation of $4.5 billion , is providing financing for the “HKAI Lab” through its Hong Kong entrepreneurship fund . SenseTime said it will contribute too, although the total amount of capital backing the initiative hasn’t been revealed. The partners of the project — which also includes the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) — said the aim is to “advance the frontiers of AI,” which includes helping startups commercialize their technology, develop ideas and promote knowledge sharing in the AI field. That’s all fairly general — Alibaba has a track record of politicking through technology investment schemes in Greater China and Southeast Asia — but one tangible project is a six-month accelerator program planned for September which will welcome AI startups to the HKAI Lab. Alibaba’s Cloud business and HKSTP are among the backers that will help the program offer early-stage funding to successful applicants, while Alibaba and SenseTime will help with mentoring and development during the program. “Alibaba sees AI as a fundamental technology that will make a difference to society,” Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai said in a statement. “We envision the Hong Kong AI Lab to be an open platform where researchers, startups and industry participants can collaborate and build a culture of innovation.” China and the U.S. are the two biggest players in the global AI battle; this project alone won’t divert that, but it could stir up potential in Hong Kong. Alibaba maintains tight relationships in Hong Kong, particularly through the fund which is around $130 million in size.

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Teen monitoring app TeenSafe exposes thousands of passwords

U.K.-based security researcher Robert Wiggins has found two exposed TeenSafe servers, leaking the passwords and information of some users of the monitoring service. TeenSafe is meant to protect teenagers by letting their parents monitor their texts, phone calls, web history, location and app downloads. The breach was first reported by ZDNet . According to the report, TeenSafe left two of their servers, which were hosted on AWS, exposed and viewable by anyone. Moreover, the database included information such as the parent’s email address, child’s Apple ID email address, device name, device unique identifier and plaintext passwords for the teenager’s Apple ID. So… just about everything. TeenSafe requires that teenagers abstain from using two-factor authentication so parents can keep an eye on their activity, making those teenagers even more vulnerable to malicious actors now that their personal information has been exposed. TeenSafe claims on its website that it encrypts data so that it wouldn’t be accessible in the case of the breach. According to ZDNet, the server held at least 10,200 records from the past three months containing customer data. The publication also included that some of those records were duplicates and that one of the servers appeared to store test data. That said, it’s unclear if there are other leaky servers with exposed data yet to be discovered.

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CREXi raises $11 million to bring commercial real estate out of the Dark Ages

Managing, buying and selling commercial real estate is a fairly primitive process. CREXi founder Mike DeGiorgio remembers one experience in 2014 when he was required to fax and mail details about an urgent transaction to the leasing office, a move that made him think he was back in the era of Pogs and MTV’s Real World Season 1. “There simply was no great industry solution for researching markets, finding comps, transacting, connecting with key stakeholders, purchasing or investing in properties, renting or leasing space, getting a loan, finding partners to purchase properties with, marketing yourself or the properties you own, sell or lease etc.,” he said. “I started thinking about technology solutions for the commercial real estate industry to solve many of these inefficiencies in the CRE space. I could not figure out why it hadn’t been done and set out to build CREXi to help industry stakeholders be more efficient and to make the industry more liquid, transparent and easier to access.” CREXi — the CRE stands for “commercial real estate” — has been around since 2015, but recently announced an $11 million Series A as well as some interesting user numbers. Key investors include Jackson Square Ventures, Manifest Investment Partners, Lerer Hippeau, Freestyle Capital, TenOneTen Ventures and Founder Collective. The company has managed more than 100,000 “properties brought to market” on its platform and they have 200,000 users per month. They see more than 6,000 properties listed on the site each month. The service is a suite of tools that streamlines the entire CRE processing. “We give brokers the ability to find, manage and qualify leads, market their properties with customizable emails, and communicate with interested parties through in-app messaging. Additionally, our features help brokers interact with the industry and its stakeholders; solicit, make, accept, counter and negotiate offers; run competitive bidding processes; run escrow and closing processes; research markets and sold properties etc.,” said DeGiorgio

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Tradeshift fires-up blockchain to address late payment problem

While the cryptocurrency world continues to swirl around in a daze of troughs and highs, startups are continuing to make use of the fundamental underlying strengths of blockchain technology. A new entrant in this race is Tradeshift, a leading players in supply-chain payments and marketplaces, which is today launching its new service which enables supports blockchain-based finance, or writing all transactions to a public ledger in order to create transparency and securing a record. While this doesn’t involve the use of currencies like actual Bitcoin or Ethereum, “having the transactions on a public ledger ensures full transparency and the ability for companies to prove that they have legit transactions,” says CEO and cofounder Christian Lanng. SO what this all means is that Tradeshift’s cloud platform will bring supply chain payments, supply chain finance, and blockchain-based early payments together into one unified end-to-end solution, called “Tradeshift Pay”. They are aiming at a $9 trillion problem, which is the capital trapped in “accounts receivable” as a result of old-fashioned payment practices and the disconnection between large business buyers and their suppliers. In other words, this could be a boon for small suppliers who find it hard to get paid when their invoices aren’t mapped to a ledger as strong as a blockchain. With this single unified wallet, buyers can use several payment options, including virtual card payments of invoices and purchase orders, dynamic discounting, supply chain finance through bank partners, or blockchain-based payments.

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Launch with TechCrunch in the Startup Battlefield competition at Disrupt SF 2018

Hey, this message goes out to all you early-stage startup founders with the drive and determination to take your company all the way to the land of the unicorns. Now’s the time to apply to TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield competition — the world’s best start-up pitch competition going down at  Disrupt San Francisco 2018  on September 5-7. If you require incentive, consider this: we bumped the top prize this year to a very cool $100,000. That sure would help your bottom line, now wouldn’t it? If you’re not tuned in to how Startup Battlefield works, we’ll break it down for you. Seasoned TechCrunch editors review all applications in a highly-competitive vetting process. How competitive? The acceptance rate ranges from 3 to 6 percent. Factors that influence the decision include the team, the product and the market potential. Anywhere from 15-30 pre-Series A startups will make the final cut. This is a good time to point out that competing in  Startup Battlefield doesn’t cost a thing, and that TechCrunch does not charge startups any fees or take any equity. All competing teams receive free expert pitch training from the Startup Battlefield team who, trust us, have seen it all when it comes to startup pitch competitions. You’ll be primed and ready for round one where you’ll deliver a six-minute pitch and demo to a panel of expert judges — and then answer any questions they may have. The cream of the crop — roughly five teams — will advance to round two for a repeat pitch performance in front of a fresh set of judges. Every exciting, heart-pounding minute takes place in front of a live audience numbering in the thousands, and we live-stream it to the world on TechCrunch.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

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Sign up today: 2-for-1 Innovator passes to Disrupt Berlin

TechCrunch is headed to Germany yet again to host Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. We simply love this city’s startup scene, one of the most innovative and fastest-growing in Europe. If you’re a founder, investor, hacker or tech leader, you can’t afford to miss Disrupt Berlin. You also can’t afford to miss our limited-time offer on Innovator passes: two for €695. Sign up for our newsletter , and we’ll notify you when we release them into the wild. What can you expect at Disrupt Berlin? We pack a lot of amazing programming into our two-day conference. For starters, there’s Startup Alley, the exhibition floor where, last year, more than 400 early-stage startups displayed an incredible array of tech products, services and talent. With more than 2,600 attendees passing through the Alley, you won’t find a better way to get your company in front of investors, potential partners, customers and the media. Who knows, attendees might even choose your startup as a WildCard company, which means you get to compete in the Startup Battlefield. You know Startup Battlefield , right? That’s where you go head-to-head against 15-30 pre-Series A startups and compete for the coveted Disrupt Cup, bragging rights, massive media exposure, investor attention and, oh yeah, a $50,000 equity-free grand prize.

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Progressive advocacy groups call on the FTC to “make Facebook safe for democracy”

A team of progressive advocacy groups, including MoveOn and Demand Progress, are asking the Federal Trade Commission to “make Facebook safe for democracy.” According to Axios , the campaign, called Freedom From Facebook , will launch a six-figure ad campaign on Monday that will run on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, among other platforms. The other advocacy groups behind the campaign are Citizens Against Monopoly, Content Creators Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, Mpower Change, Open Markets Institute and SumOfUs. Together they are calling on the FTC to “break up Facebook’s monopoly” by forcing it to spin off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into separate, competing companies. They also want the FTC to require interoperability so users can communicate against competing social networks and strengthen privacy regulations. Freedom From Facebook’s site also includes an online petition and privacy guide that links to FB Purity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger, browser extensions that help users streamline their Facebook ad preferences and block online trackers, respectively. The FTC recently gained a new chairman after President Donald Trump’s pick for the position Joseph Simons was sworn in early this month , along with four new commissioners also nominated by Trump. Simons is an antitrust lawyer who has represented large tech firms like Microsoft and Sony. The FTC is currently investigating whether or not Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica violated a previous legal agreement it had with the commission, but many people are wondering if it and other federal agencies are capable of regulating tech companies, especially after many lawmakers seemed confused about how social media works during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearing last month. Despite its data privacy and regulatory issues, Facebook is still doing well from a financial perspective. Its first-quarter earnings report showed strong user growth and revenue above Wall Street’s expectations. TechCrunch has contacted Freedom From Facebook and Facebook for comment.

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