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AdGuard resets all user passwords after account hacks

Popular ad-blocker AdGuard has forcibly reset all of its users’ passwords after it detected hackers trying to break into accounts. The company said it “detected continuous attempts to login to AdGuard accounts from suspicious IP addresses which belong to various servers across the globe,” in what appeared to be a credential stuffing attack. That’s when hackers take lists of stolen usernames and passwords and try them on other sites. AdGuard said that the hacking attempts were slowed thanks to rate limiting — preventing the attackers from trying too many passwords in one go. But, the effort was “not enough” when the attackers know the passwords, a blog post said . “As a precautionary measure, we have reset passwords to all AdGuard accounts,” said Andrey Meshkov, AdGuard’s co-founder and chief technology officer. AdGuard has more than five million users worldwide, and is one of the most prominent ad-blockers available. Although the company said that some accounts were improperly accessed, there wasn’t a direct breach of its systems. It’s not known how many accounts were affected. An email to Meshkov went unreturned at the time of writing. It’s not clear why attackers targeted AdGuard users, but the company’s response was swift and effective. The company said it now has set stricter password requirements, and connects to Have I Been Pwned , a breach notification database set up by security expert Troy Hunt , to warn users away from previously breached passwords

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Watch how Tesla Model 3 earned NHTSA’s top safety rating

The Tesla Model 3 has had its share of struggles from CEO Elon Musk’s well-documented production hell to more recent logistic “nightmares” that have slowed deliveries to customers. There’s one area where the Tesla shines : crash safety tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the Tesla Model 3 is no exception. Check out the videos below to watch the crash tests. The rear-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model 3 earned an all-around five-star safety rating from NHTSA, the highest possible issued by the agency. These tests cover frontal, side and rollover crashes. The Model 3 received five stars in each category as well as sub categories such as side barrier and pole crashes.   Tesla’s crash rating is buoyed by the absence of an internal combustion engine. For instance, without a motor in the hood, there’s more room for a forward crumple zone. Tesla vehicles also tend to be resistant to rollovers because the battery pack is located at the bottom of the vehicle, giving it a low center of gravity. The risk of a rollover in a Tesla Model 3 is 6.6%, according to NHTSA. Tesla Model 3 is not the only vehicle to earn the highest rating. There are other 2018 model year vehicles that have earned a five-star rating from NHTSA, including the Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry four-door hybrid. It’s also worth noting, as Musk did Thursday, that five star ratings only mean the vehicle meets a certain threshold. Injury probability stats, which are expected soon, indicate by how much. . @NHTSAgov will post final safety probability stats soon. Model 3 has a shot at being safest car ever tested

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Hulu is making a new season of ‘Veronica Mars’

It’s official: Hulu is reviving the cult mystery series “Veronica Mars”. The show originally ran from 2004 to 2007 on UPN and the CW, with the titular high school sleuth played by Kristen Bell. Last month, there were reports that Hulu was in talks to bring the show back . Now it looks like a deal is in place, with Bell confirming the news on Instagram . Hulu says it’s placed a straight-to-series order for eight more episodes of the show, with Bell returning as Veronica and serving as executive producer alongside creator Rob Thomas (who’s writing the first episode) and writers Diane Ruggiero-Wright and Dan Etheridge. Apparently the story will return viewers to the Southern California town of Neptune, where spring breakers are getting murdered, fueling conflict between the town’s haves and have nots and ultimately pulling Mars Investigations onto the case. Hulu also says it’s picked up the rights to the three existing seasons of “Veronica Mars”, along with the feature film, to start streaming in summer 2019. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it — especially the first season, which offers a near perfect combination of noir-ish mystery, class conflict and personal drama. I was  less impressed by the Kickstarter-funded movie , which suffered from trying to stuff everything fans might possibly want into a two-hour runtime. Hopefully, Thomas and his team learned from the experience. Plus, these eight episodes should give them a lot more room to tell their story.

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Cluep, a Canadian startup that raised just $500k, acquired for $40M

Everyone loves a tale of a bootstrapped startup founder’s journey to an eight-figure exit. The team at Toronto-based Cluep have a good one. The founders of the adtech startup raised less than $500,000 from angel investors before selling their company to Impact Group for $40 million ($53 milllion CAD) this week. Founded in 2012, Karan Walia, Sobi Walia and Anton Mamonov were just  21, 17 and 16 years old, respectively, when they started  the digital advertising platform, which uses artificial intelligence  to help brands connect and engage with people based on what they are sharing, how they are feeling and the places they’ve been. They, being teenagers, struggled initially to get the company off the ground. At one point, the trio hacked into computers at a university in Toronto to train the neural networks on large amounts of data sets because they didn’t have enough money to buy their own tech. On a shoe-string budget, they would split meals at Popeyes to get by. “No one wanted to give us money at that time so we had to live off of my student loans,” Walia told TechCrunch . “ We did pretty much everything, whether it was programming and building the product, or going out and selling. I was our first sales rep and I was pretty bad early on but I learned.” Ultimately, Cluep was able to raise enough from angels to pay themselves a salary, hire a few engineers and sales representatives, and move into an actual office. From that point, their revenue began growing significantly YoY. 2015: $2 million CAD in revenue 2016: $6 million CAD in revenue 2017: $14.5 million CAD in revenue 2018: On track to bring in ~$30 million CAD They fielded offers from VCs toward the end of 2015 and considered raising a proper Series A round of capital, but ultimately decided staying independent would lead to the best exit. “This way allowed us to basically maintain control and exit on our terms,” Walia said. Impact Group, a Boise, Idaho-based grocery sales and marketing agency, will operate Cluep independently.

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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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Amazon updates the Echo Plus so it can control the smart home when the internet goes down

Amazon today is giving its premium smart home-ready Echo Plus device a notable update. The device, which includes a smart home hub built into the Echo, is now getting a new fabric design, and a temperature sensor. However, what’s more interesting is the addition of something Amazon calls “local voice control.” What this means is that if the internet goes down, you’ll still be able to use Alexa to control your smart home devices. As the company explained this morning at its hardware event in Seattle , a hub that works with a cloud-based system can often run into trouble when internet access becomes spotty or unavailable. So what the company did to address this is build in local voice control, a new capability that takes the best of its natural language understanding and its automatic speech recognition and runs it all locally on the device. So when the internet goes down (and Amazon says it’s starting with the smart home capabilities here, when it comes to local voice control) you can still say “Alexa, turn on the lights” or “Alexa, turn on the plug,” and it’ll work. This feature will get better over time as the devices add more local control and more capabilities, the company noted. Meanwhile, the temperature sensor feature will allow Alexa owners to add temperatures into their routines. For example, if the room gets too chilly, Alexa can tell you. The updated version of the Echo Plus will still remain $149 and it will be shipping in every country that Alexa is in today. Check out our full coverage from the event  here .

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Amazon introduces the Echo Input, its first Echo without a speaker

Amazon today introduced a new product it’s calling the Echo Input. This is a very thin, tiny version of the Echo Dot – and the first Alexa device without a speaker. The idea here is to offer a device that allows you to connect to the speaker you already own. On the back of the device is a line in and Bluetooth connection, and it sports a far field microphone array like other Echo devices. The small form factor, however, allows the device to fit in almost anywhere – you can drop them throughout the house, for example. Amazon says the product is designed also to be shipped in bundles with other speakers that people like – such as Bose, which is a first partner for this device. The Echo Input will be available later this year for $34.99 in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. more to come…

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Apple Watch fire face was made with actual fire

With the Apple Watch Series 4 , Apple introduced a new, larger display. It now has rounded edges and thinner bezels. And the company took advantage of that display to introduce new fire, water, liquid metal and vapor faces. Apple didn’t use CGI to create those faces — they shot those faces in a studio. Many companies would have rendered those effects on a computer given the size of the display. But those are actual videos shot with a camera. Cool Hunting shared a video of the actual process, and it’s insane: As you can see, Apple used a flamethrower against a transparent surface, exploded a balloon at the top of a basin of water, made a color powder explosion in a cylinder and rotated a small puddle of metallic liquid. It says a lot about Apple’s design culture — they don’t take shortcuts and they have a lot of money. Here’s the introduction video for the new Apple Watch:

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AI could help push Neo4j graph database growth

Graph databases have always been useful to help find connections across a vast data set, and it turns out that capability is quite handy in artificial intelligence and machine learning too. Today, Neo4j, the makers of the open source and commercial graph database platform, announced the release of Neo4j 3.5, which has a number of new features aimed specifically at AI and machine learning. Neo4j founder and CEO Emil Eifrem says he had recognized the connection between AI and machine learning and graph databases for awhile, but he says that it has taken some time for the market to catch up to the idea. “There has been a lot momentum around AI and graphs…Graphs are very fundamental to AI. At the same time we were seeing some early use cases, but not really broad adoption, and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” he explained. AI graph uses cases. Graphic: Neo4j To help advance AI uses cases, today’s release includes a new full text search capability, which Eifrem says has been one of the most requested features. This is important because when you are making connections between entities, you have to be able to find all of the examples regardless of how it’s worded — for example, human versus humans versus people. Part of that was building their own indexing engine to increase indexing speed, which becomes essential with ever more data to process. “Another really important piece of functionality is that we have improved our data ingestion very significantly. We have 5x end-to-end performance improvements when it comes to importing data.

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Vonage acquires cloud-based contact center startup NewVoiceMedia for $350M in cash

More consolidation is afoot in the world of cloud-based voice services. Today, Vonage — once a VoIP pioneer that today offers cloud-based unified communications and other IP services in the business market — announced that it would acquire NewVoiceMedia , a UK startup that builds cloud-based contact center solutions, for $350 million in cash. Vonage says the price represents 3.8 times NewVoiceMedia’s projected 2019 revenue. But it isn’t a stellar exit for the startup, which has been around since 1998 and was last valued at upwards of $311 million, according to Pitchbook  data. That was over two years ago, and  we’d heard the valuation was actually closer to $500 million  at the time. Its investors included Bessemer Venture Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and more. On the other hand, the deal will help Vonage increase the services it provides, and thus the margins it makes, in a wider suite of value-added IP services — which today include office phone systems, marketing automation and an existing call center solution , as well as MPLS and other IP services. Specifically, it gives it the platform to integrate also more deeply with other software providers like Salesforce, an important part of how Vonage sells its services to would be customers. “We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of NewVoiceMedia, which represents a major step forward in the realization of our strategic vision to deliver a differentiated, fully-programmable communications solution that drives more meaningful customer interactions and better outcomes for businesses,” said Vonage CEO Alan Masarek, in a statement. “This acquisition accelerates Vonage’s growth strategy and leadership position in cloud communications, strengthens our presence with global mid-market and enterprise clients, and deepens our integrations and key go-to-market relationships with CRM providers, especially Salesforce.com.” Vonage is today a $3.2 billion company traded publicly on the NYSE, and its stock is up slightly in trading today. Vonage claims NewVoiceMedia is the largest privately-owned, pure-play, cloud contact center company globally, with some 700 customers mostly in the mid- to large-enterprise range, including Adobe, Siemens, Time Inc., FundingCircle, and Rapid7. Dennis Fois, the CEO of NewVoiceMedia, will stay on and continue to lead NewVoiceMedia business, which has 400 employees today.

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GoPro kills the Session camera cube

Three years after its introduction, GoPro is killing its Session camera line. The cute little cube was dropped today after GoPro revealed its latest lineup of Hero7 cameras. GoPro shakes up its entire camera line When the Hero4 Session was first revealed in 2015, it was the action camera company’s first major redesign and signaled some dramatic ethos shifts, some that ultimately found their way to other GoPro cameras and others that it seems to be taking to the grave. It was the first GoPro to have a waterproof/shockproof casing built-in, it dropped the user replaceable battery and it significantly reduced the camera’s footprint. It was not designed to be the “cheap camera” and was initially positioned at a $399 price point near the high-end of its lineup at the time. The company ultimately failed to really differentiate the Session form factor and despite an ambitious introduction it just kind of ended up becoming the company’s low-end product that didn’t work with any of the existing GoPro accessories that were being sold. The writing was on the wall when the company neglected to refresh the hardware at its Hero6 event last year, but the Hero5 Session kept chugging along as the entry-level GoPro until the company showed off a new $199 Hero camera in March . The Hero5 Session is not alone singing its swan song, the Hero6 Black and Hero5 Black have also been officially discontinued replaced by the Hero7 White, Silver and Black editions.

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WalkMe raises $40M at a $1B+ valuation for its on-screen guidance technology

Designing for digital interfaces has come a long way  since the first days of the web, but there remains a place for tech that can help navigate us through what are sometimes still bloated or complicated services (notwithstanding those that are  deliberately so). Today, one of the more successful startups working in this area has raised a sizeable round that speaks to the opportunity. WalkMe — the Israel-based provider of tools that companies and organizations plug into their own apps to help guide people in using them more efficiently — has closed $40 million in funding in a Series F round led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation also from previous investor Mangrove. WalkMe is not disclosing its valuation, but a source very close to the company confirmed to me that it is now over $1 billion as business continues to “grow rapidly.” WalkMe now has 2,000 customers globally, which includes more than 30 percent of the Fortune 500, including Delta, HP (CEO and co-founder Dan Adika is an alum), T-Mobile and Microsoft (no Clippy jokes , please). The money — which brings the total raised to $207.5 million — will be used to expand its business further into local markets in Europe and Asia Pacific, and also continue to build out its platform. Today, that platform includes elements of machine learning and big data analytics along with technologies to read, understand, and guide through user interfaces — a tech stack that has grown through a combination of internal development and acquisitions. When it was founded in 2011, WalkMe’s focus was primarily on providing help to website visitors, to keep them from bouncing away in frustration. Over time, it expanded to other areas. Its remit now also includes B2B, since in many cases an organization’s internal teams can be just as confused or frustrated with its tech services as external customers might be, and that impacts overall productivity. (Consider employee on-boarding, or change management, or the fact that we have multiple services, sometimes as much as 20 different systems, that we need to use daily.) WalkMe is also doing more in automation, helping fill in information and proceed through other steps to speed up usage, or as Rephael Sweary, the president and other co-founder of the company, describes it, “reducing the steps it takes to do something on a site from 10 to three.” Sweary said that WalkMe’s business is roughly split equally between B2B and B2B2C today, with 40 percent of sales to repeat customers. Perhaps the best measure of a service that helps you use other services better is if the helping service disappears into the background and becomes a bit invisible. That seems to be something of the modus operandi of WalkMe, which even as a startup lacks much of a profile, especially considering its valuation now

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Exhibit for free in Startup Alley at Disrupt Berlin 2018

Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place on 29-30 November, and we simply can’t wait to see you all there. We always get super stoked about Startup Alley, the Disrupt exhibition hall, where hundreds of innovative early-stage startups display the very latest tech products, platforms and services. Now, the only thing better than exhibiting in Startup Alley is to do it for free. Yes…free. Here’s the deal. We’re searching for founders of exceptional startups to be TC Top Picks. If you should earn that title, you’ll receive a FREE  Startup Alley Exhibitor Package . All the benefits of exhibiting in Startup Alley with none of the cost. The deadline to apply to be a TC Top Pick is 28 September, so, get ‘er done! If you’re not familiar with Startup Alley, know this: it’s a breeding ground for opportunity. Consider what Vlad Larin, co-founder of Zeroqode, had to say about his Startup Alley experience: “Startup Alley was a great networking opportunity. It was full of all the people you could possibly hope to meet at a tech conference. They spanned diverse backgrounds and industries. We talked to people looking for partnerships, investments, new ideas, collaboration and inspiration.” Here’s the first Top Pick qualification hurdle you need to clear. Your startup must fall into one of the tech categories below: AI/Machine Learning Blockchain CRM/Enterprise E-commerce Education Fintech Healthtech/Biotech Hardware, Robotics, IoT Mobility Gaming Our selection process is highly curated, and TechCrunch editors will review and vet each qualified application thoroughly.

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Lime hits 11.5 million bike and scooter rides

Bike and scooter company Lime recently hit 11.5 million rides,  a couple of months after it surpassed six million rides . This milestone comes just 14 months after Lime deployed its first bikes. Today, Lime is in more than 100 markets throughout the U.S. and Europe. Last December , Lime brought its bikes to a number of European cities and in June,  Lime brought its scooters to Paris . By the end of this year, Lime plans to launch in an additional 50 cities. The rise of shared personal electric vehicles has also led to a new type of side hustle for some people. Through Lime’s Juicer program, which enables anyone to make money from charging scooters overnight, the company has paid out millions of dollars to those workers. Lime has raised $467 million in funding, with its most recent round coming in at  $335 million. The round, led by GV, included participation from Uber .

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Meituan-Dianping’s IPO off to a good start as shares climb 7% on debut

Meituan-Dianping (3690.HK) enjoyed a strong debut today in Hong Kong, a sign that investors are confident in the Tencent-backed company’s prospects despite its cash-burning growth strategy, heavy competition and a sluggish Hong Kong stock market . During morning trading, Meituan’s shares reached a high of HKD$73.85 (about $9.41) , a 7% increase over its initial public offering price of HKD$69. When Meituan reportedly set a target valuation of $55 billion for its debut, it triggered concerns that the company, which bills itself a “one-stop super app” for everything from food delivery to ticket bookings, as overconfident. While Meituan, the owner of Mobile, is the leading online marketplace for services in China, it faces formidable competition from Alibaba’s Ele.me and operating on tight margins and heavy losses as it spends money on marketing and user acquisition costs. As it prepared for its IPO, Meituan was also under the shadow of underwhelming Hong Kong debuts by Xiaomi and China Tower . Like Xiaomi, Meituan is listed under a new dual-class share structure designed to attract tech companies by allowing them to give weighted voting rights to founders. The sponsors of Meituan’s IPO are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

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