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Amazon shows off a new $180 Ring ‘Stick Up Cam’

Among the slew of devices Amazon announced this morning at its event in Seattle is a new Ring Stick Up Cam – stick up, because it’s designed to go anywhere. (And is not, apparently, a reference to being robbed at gunpoint?) The camera comes in two versions – one that’s battery-powered and could be more easily used outdoors, as well as one that’s wired, which may make more sense indoors. The device also supports power over internet, so if your house is wired for that specifically, you’ll have another option to power the device, Amazon says. The company didn’t detail many specs for this device – we’ll add those later, as they become available. These devices, which come in both black and white, will be available later this year. They’ll cost $179.99 and be available in the UK, US, France, Germany, Australia and a number of other countries around the world. Check out our full coverage from the event here .

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SparkLabs is launching a cybersecurity and blockchain accelerator program in the US

Investment firm SparkLabs has run accelerator programs across APAC, now it has announced its first that’ll be based on U.S. soil and it’s a cybersecurity and blockchain program that’ll be located in Washington, D.C. from next year. The program will be led by former Startup Grind COO Brian Park and Mike Bott, who is ex-managing director of  The Brandery accelerator. Advisors signed on to work with the batch of companies includes top names like Microsoft’s former chief software architect Ray Ozzie, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, LinkedIn co-founder Eric Ly and Rich DeMillo, who was the first CTO of HP. Named “SparkLabs Cybersecurity + Blockchain,” the program will kick off with an inaugural batch of companies in March next year, with applications opening accepted from January. SparkLabs co-founder and partner Bernard Moon told TechCrunch in an interview that the plan is to run the program for four months with two intakes per year. It’ll use SparkLabs’ standard investment approach that sees selected companies offered $50,000 for up to six percent equity. That’s variable on a case-by-case basis — for example for those that have raised significant early funding at a large valuation — but Moon said that the priority for the security and blockchain program is to seek out companies that are bootstrapped or at least have not raised much. Moon said that the general focus is not on cryptocurrency but instead enterprise-led technologies. So, on the blockchain side, that might mean protocols and other infrastructure layer plays, although Moon said he does believe that there is scope for more consumer companies, too. SparkLabs has a dedicated blockchain fund — SparkChain Capital — but neither that fund nor its principal, Stellar founder Joyce Kim, is directly involved in the accelerator. That’s very deliberate, Moon said, because SparkLabs wants to grow its network in the blockchain space outside of SparkChain, although he did explain that the program will be “a vetted deal source” for the fund, so graduates could potentially look it to when they want follow-on funding.

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Ola raises $50M at a $4.3B valuation from two Chinese funds

Ola , the arch-rival of Uber in India, has raised $50 million at a valuation of about $4.3 billion from Sailing Capital, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm, and the China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund (CEECF), a state-backed Chinese fund. The funding was disclosed in regulatory documents sourced by Paper.vc and reviewed by Indian financial publication Mint . According to Mint, Sailing Capital and CEECF will hold a combined stake of more than 1% in Ola . An Ola spokesperson said the company has no comment. Ola’s last funding announcement was in October , when it raised $1.1 billion (its largest funding round to date) from Tencent and returning investor SoftBank Group. Ola also said it planned to raise an additional $1 billion from other investors that would take the round’s final amount to about $2.1 billion. At the time, a source with knowledge of the deal told TechCrunch that Ola was headed toward a post-money valuation of $7 billion once the $2.1 bllion raise was finalized. So while the funding from Sailing Capital and CEECF brings it closer to its funding goal, the latest valuation of $4.3 billion is still lower than the projected amount. Ola needs plenty of cash to fuel its ambitious expansion both within and outside of India. In addition to ride hailing, Ola got back into the food delivery game at the end of last year by acquiring Foodpanda’s Indian operations to compete with UberEats, Swiggy, Zomato and Google’s Areo.

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Loot boxes face scrutiny from an international coalition of gambling authorities

The world of online gaming is changing so quickly that players, developers, publishers and regulators are all scrambling to keep up with each other. Case in point: loot boxes, randomized in-game rewards that may or may not have monetary value or be purchasable with real money, are after years of deployment only now being scrutinized globally for being what amounts to thinly veiled gambling. A suggestive new study from British researchers and a just-announced coalition of governments are the latest indicators that the loot box phenomenon and its derivatives likely won’t continue to be the wild west they’ve been for the last few years. Many factors have led games to resemble services or channels more than pieces of entertainment with a start and end. And that in turn has changed how these games are monetized. As an alternative to a $60 up-front cost or a $10/month subscription, a game may be released for free but supported with in-game purchases of various kinds, including loot boxes. Loot boxes usually contain a random reward, such as a new item for your in-game character. They can be earned by playing the game (usually a lot), but often can also be bought. Not only this, but the items have a sort of black market value and are traded among players and indeed gambled in a highly unregulated economy that reports put on the order of billions of dollars. Although gaming companies compare it to collecting baseball cards or getting a toy in a box of cereal, the reality is plainly more complex than that, and the idea has led to extreme versions where players are constantly urged to buy in-game currencies and rewards. There’s no doubt that companies like EA and Tencent have made enormous amounts of money by luring players into purchases in “free to play” games. EA response to ‘Battlefront II’ complaint is the most downvoted comment in Reddit history The report, instigated earlier this year by an Australian parliamentary committee, was conducted by David Zendle and Paul Cairns, of York St. John University

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Apple Responds To Claims Over Deleted iTunes Purchases – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Apple Responds To Claims Over Deleted iTunes Purchases Ubergizmo Recently a tweet regarding Apple and iTunes movie purchases has gone viral, in which a certain Dr. Anders Gonçalves da Silva is claiming that Apple has deleted some movies he purchased via iTunes from his library. This has since resulted in people ... and more »

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