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Celonis brings intelligent process automation software to cloud

Celonis has been helping companies analyze and improve their internal processes using machine learning. Today the company announced it was providing that same solution as a cloud service with a few nifty improvements you won’t find on prem. The new approach, called Celonis Intelligent Business Cloud, allows customers to analyze a workflow, find inefficiencies and offer improvements very quickly. Companies typically follow a workflow that has developed over time and very rarely think about why it developed the way it did, or how to fix it. If they do, it usually involves bringing in consultants to help. Celonis puts software and machine learning to bear on the problem. Co-founder and CEO Alexander Rinke says that his company deals with massive volumes of data and moving all of that to the cloud makes sense. “With Intelligent Business Cloud, we will unlock that on prem data, bring it to the cloud in a very efficient infrastructure and provide much more value on top of it,” he told TechCrunch. The idea is to speed up the whole ingestion process, allowing a company to see the inefficiencies in their business processes very quickly. Rinke says it starts with ingesting data from sources such as Salesforce or SAP and then creating a visual view of the process flow. There may be hundreds of variants from the main process workflow, but you can see which ones would give you the most value to change, based on the number of times the variation occurs. Screenshot: Celonis By packaging the Celonis tools as a cloud service, they are reducing the complexity of running and managing it. They are also introducing an app store with over 300 pre-packaged options for popular products like Salesforce and ServiceNow and popular process like order to cash.

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Did you score tickets to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018?

In just about two months, the TechCrunch crew will head to Lagos, Nigeria to host the day-long, action-packed Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 . Come join us and watch the founders of Africa’s best early-stage tech startups compete for the glory, cash and investor love that only Startup Battlefield provides. We have a limited number of spectator tickets available for the December 11 event, so don’t waste time — buy your ticket here today. We’re not kidding when we call this an action-packed day. While the Battlefield pitch competition is the crown jewel, we’re also creating a slate of outstanding speakers who will hold forth on vital topics affecting the region. Topics like venture capital investing, something that Kola Aina , CEO and founder of Lagos-based Ventures Platform, will be on hand to discuss. And if blockchain is your bag, you won’t want to miss hearing IIyinoluwa Aboyeji ’s take on that subject. He’s the founder and CEO of Flutterwave, a Lagos-based payment solution startup designed to transfer funds between Africa and abroad. If you haven’t heard, we recently announced that Omobola Johnson , a senior partner at TLcom Capital, and Lexi Novitske , the principal investment officer for Singularity Investments, will take part in a panel discussion. Keep an eye on TechCrunch, because we’ll be announcing even more speakers in the coming weeks. Okay, let’s talk about the main event. Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with up to five startups in each round. Each startup team gets six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of judges consisting of top tech founders and VCs. Those judges then have six minutes to question each team thoroughly. No more than five teams move to the finals for another round of pitches and more probing inquisition.

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It’s official: London-based Stride.VC raises £50M seed fund

Stride.VC , the new VC fund from Fred Destin, formerly a partner at Accel, and Harry Stebbings, producer of the “The Twenty Minute VC” podcast and ex-Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Atomico, is being officially unveiled today, confirming most of the details of my earlier report . The fund has closed at just over its £50 million target and will be used to do seed investments exclusively in U.K. startups (at least for now). The team has been bolstered, too, with Arj Soysa, ex-Atomico and most recently head of finance for LGT Impact, joining as operating partner. The firm also disclosed its first investment earlier this month, backing healthcare messaging app Forward Health . In a call with Destin last week and followed up over subsequent emails with the pair, I got further details on Stride.VC’s LPs and how Destin and Stebbings plan to approach seed investing. Kicking off, I asked if perhaps there was already enough money in the U.K. (and elsewhere in Europe) chasing seed-stage startups. “We don’t think there is too much seed money at work in Europe,” says Destin. “We think tech startups are impacting more and more industries and sectors so the importance and impact of great founders is growing.

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Penta, the German challenger bank account for SMEs, raises €7M Series A

Penta , the German fintech startup that offers a digital bank account targeting SMEs , has raised €7 million in Series A funding. Backing the company once again is Inception Capital, with total funding now at €10 million since Penta was founded in May 2016. Launched in Germany in December , and powered by Banking-as-a-Platform solarisBank (rather than holding a banking license of its own), Penta is designed to meet the banking needs of small to medium-sized businesses, including startups. The premise is that SMEs are currently underserved by incumbent banks, including account opening being cumbersome and much more difficult than it should be and exorbitant fees charged for making payments or international money exchange. Penta is also bringing some much-need innovation and features to the German business banking market. One of those is multi-card support to make it easier to manage company expenses. Dubbed ‘Team Access,’ the recently launched feature lets business owners issue multiple MasterCards to employees who need to make purchases on a company’s behalf. Each card is linked to a business’ Penta account but can have custom rules and permissions per card/employee, in terms of how much money can be spent and where. More broadly, the feature is designed to cut down the time and cost of expense management for SMEs. Notably, I’m told that the Berlin-based challenger bank, which has already grown to a team of 40 and plans to get to 100 over the next year, is seeing 68 percent of new customers switching from their existing business bank account, with the remaining 40 percent newly incorporated businesses. That suggest many German businesses aren’t satisfied with the banking status quo, even if they’ve already crossed the account opening hurdle. Specifically, I understand that multi-card support has been one of the main draw, the kind of feature that older banks with legacy software often struggle to deliver

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Entrepreneur First, the company builder backed by Greylock, lands in Bangalore

Entrepreneur First (EF), the London-HQ’d company builder that invests in individuals “pre-team, pre-idea” to enable them to found new startups, is scaling up rapidly, as it promised to so. Already running programs in Paris , Berlin, London, Singapore , and Hong Kong, the so-called talent-first investor is setting up shop in Bangalore, India. Although referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalore fits the EF bill quite well in terms of being a tech hub with latent potential, especially when measured by the small number of truly international startups it has produced. What’s also interesting — and something EF co-founder Matt Clifford noted on a brief call with me on Friday — is that India has long-been a source for tech talent generally but this has often been an export industry, spanning prominent leaders of major U.S. tech companies, right down to traditional development outsourcing. “It’s out chance to help reverse the brain drain,” is one way that Clifford framed it. With that said, EF also notes that, according to Startup Genome, Bangalore’s startup ecosystem is valued at $19 billion, with an estimated 1,800-2,300 active tech startups. “The past decade has seen it shift from a purely skill-based factory model to a more startup mindset. There is a genuine interest in tech and an ability to attract highly skilled tech workers,” says the company builder. To that end, EF will invest around $55,000 in each of the companies developed during its bi-annual Bangalore program, while also providing cohort members a monthly stipend of $2,500 as they develop their startup ideas in the first three months.

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Original Content podcast: We can’t resist the thoughtful glamour of ‘The Crown’

We weren’t expecting to like “The Crown.” Yes, there are talented actors and fancy costumes on-screen, and yes, there’s an acclaimed writer at the helm who specializes in dramatizing real history. But did we really need to watch another 20 hours of serious, scripted drama about England’s royal family? Well, we were convinced to give the show a shot after it took home multiple awards at this year’s Emmys , and we were absolutely won over. It turns out that some of the questions that made us uncertain about the concept (such as: What’s the point of a monarchy in modern society?) are exactly what the show is trying to explore. And it would be hard to overpraise those actors — not just Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, but also Matt Smith as her husband Prince Philip, Vanessa Kirby as Pricness Margaret, John Lithgow as Winston Churchill and Jared Harris as Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast , we’re joined by Catherine Shu to discuss the first two seasons of “The Crown,” and what we’re hoping to see in season three (with Foy and Smith replaced by older actors to play Elizabeth and Philip in middle age). We also discuss recently-revealed details about the upcoming Star Wars streaming series “The Mandalorian” and plans for an interactive episode of “Black Mirror.” You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts  or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You also can send us feedback directly . (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

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NASA plans ‘on schedule’ Soyuz launch despite failure of Russian rocket

The high-profile failure of a normally reliable Soyuz rocket during a crewed mission to the International Space Station earlier this week spooked the space community in more ways than one, but NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said he expects to launch a new crew in December via Soyuz anyway. Speaking to reporters at the US embassy in Moscow (as reported by the AFP ), Bridenstine observed that “not every mission that fails ends up so successful.” and indeed the malfunctioning rocket very fortunately did not cause any loss of life, as the escape system built into the launch hardware functioned as designed. Astronauts land safely after Soyuz launch fails at 20 miles up Astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin landed safely some 250 miles away from the launch site after the capsule detached about 90 seconds into launch and deployed its parachute. Although it’s too early for investigators to tell what went wrong, Bridenstine is apparently confident enough in the Soyuz system and the team at Roscosmos that he indicated a new crewed capsule could go up before the end of the year. “I fully anticipate that we will fly again on a Soyuz rocket and I have no reason to believe at this point that it will not be on schedule,” he said. That mission would be in December, meaning the current 3-person crew aboard the ISS wouldn’t have to extend their stay (as some thought they might), nor would the ISS have to fly empty for any period of time. The latter possibility made many uneasy, as the ISS is designed to be able to fly solo for a while, but it would be risky to have no one there in case of problems, and many experiments could also fail. The Soyuz launch system is the only one currently available to send humans to space. SpaceX and Boeing are working hard on changing that but their solutions are a long way from ready. If some serious flaw were to be found in the Soyuz system it would essentially maroon humanity on the Earth until a solution is found. Fortunately Soyuz has proven itself many times over and it’s more likely that it will fly again soon. Bridenstine’s confidence doesn’t launch a rocket on its own of course — the investigation of the rocket failure continues and the two space agencies will have to negotiate how to put a new crew in the station ahead of the original schedule

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SF judge denies Lime’s request to block electric scooter deployment

A judge today denied Lime’s request for a temporary restraining order that would block Skip and Scoot from deploying their electric scooters in San Francisco on Monday. This means San Franciscans will be able to use electric scooter services again first thing next week. Following the SFMTA’s decision to grant Skip and Scoot electric scooter permits,  Lime sent an appeal requesting  the agency reevaluate its application. At the time, the SFMTA said it was “confident” it picked the right companies. Just yesterday, Lime said it believed “that it has no choice but to seek emergency relief in the court” and take legal action. “We’re pleased the court denied Lime’s request for a temporary restraining order,” John Cote, communications director for City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement to TechCrunch. “The bottom line is the judge said he would not stop the permits from being issued on Monday. The SFMTA’s permit program has been both fair and transparent. Lime just didn’t like the outcome. The reality is that Lime’s application fell notably short of its competitors. That’s why it didn’t get a permit. San Franciscans deserve scooter services that are safe, equitable and accountable, which is exactly what this pilot program was designed to do.” While Lime didn’t quite get what it wanted, Lime says it still sees this as a victory. In a statement to TechCrunch, Lime Head of Communications Jack S. Song said: The Honorable Harold E

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Venmo bumps up instant transfer fee to 1 percent of the total amount

If you’re a frequent Venmo user, you might want to double-check your settings because the company just changed up their fee structure for instant transfers and it may result in more of your balance slipping away. The fee for instant transfers where a user would move their Venmo balance to their bank account via debit card used to be just $0.25, but the company shared in an email to users late Friday that the fee is increasing to 1 percent of the transferred amount with the company taking at least a $0.25 fee. So, basically, if you’re transferring any more than $25 in the future via this method, you’re going to end up paying Venmo more thanks to this new fee structure. A PayPal spokesperson tells TechCrunch, in part, that “The change reflects the value that Venmo’s services offer – providing speed and convenience for customers that want to transfer their funds to their bank accounts in 30 minutes or less.” For people using Venmo as a way to process big payments quickly or get some much needed cash into their account, this is a bummer that can result in more getting scraped away by fees. Additionally, if you were trying to avoid connecting your bank account details specifically, you now have another reason pushing you to do so. Instant transfers works for users trying to quickly move their balance to their bank account in less than a half hour via a debit card. Importantly, if you’re just using the standard bank transfer there still aren’t any fees you have to worry about, it’s still free… for now.

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At 10 trillion frames per second, this camera captures light in slow motion

Light is the fastest thing in the universe, so trying to catch it on the move is necessarily something of a challenge. We’ve had some success, but a new rig built by Caltech scientists pulls down a mind-boggling 10 trillion frames per second , meaning it can capture light as it travels along — and they have plans to make it a hundred times faster. Understanding how light moves is fundamental to many fields, so it isn’t just idle curiosity driving the efforts of Jinyang Liang and his colleagues — not that there’d be anything wrong with that either. But there are potential applications in physics, engineering, and medicine that depend heavily on the behavior of light at scales so small, and so short, that they are at the very limit of what can be measured. You may have heard about billion- and trillion-FPS cameras in the past, but those were likely “streak cameras” that do a bit of cheating to achieve those numbers. A light pulse as captured by the T-CUP system. If a pulse of light can be replicated perfectly, then you could send one every millisecond but offset the camera’s capture time by an even smaller fraction, like a handful of femtoseconds (a billion times shorter). You’d capture one pulse when it was here, the next one when it was a little further, the next one when it was even further, and so on. The end result is a movie that’s indistinguishable in many ways from if you’d captured that first pulse at high speed. This is highly effective — but you can’t always count on being able to produce a pulse of light a million times the exact same way. Perhaps you need to see what happens when it passes through a carefully engineered laser-etched lens that will be altered by the first pulse that strikes it.

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Watch this quadrotor turn into a trirotor and keep flying

In a video that similar to those videos where humans push around ATLAS , researchers at Delft University of Technology have created a system that will let a quadrotor drone keep flying even if one of the propellers is broken. The video above – which is, arguably, pretty boring – shows the drone fighting against both structural damage and wind and most definitely winning. The fact that it is able to stay airborne under such wild conditions is the real draw here and it’s a fascinating experiment in robust robotics. In other words, this drone routed around damage that would destroy a normal quadcopter. According to IEEE the system works by adding a multiple subsystems to the drone in order to manage the position and altitude. The system uses the built-in gyro and accelerometer readings to keep itself in the air and lots of processing power to keep it moving forward even as it seems to careen into the wild blue yonder. Further, the system manages motor power to ensure that the propellers aren’t “saturated.” The researchers, Sihao Sun, Leon Sijbers, Xuerui Wang, and Coen de Visser, presented their paper in Spain last week at IROS 2018.

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Facebook prototypes Unsend 6 months after Zuckerberg retracted messages

In April, TechCrunch broke the news that some of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook messages were deleted from recipients’ inboxes in what some saw as a violation of user trust and abuse of power since Facebook Messenger doesn’t have an Unsend button. The next morning, Facebook suddenly announced that it would actually build this Unsend functionality for everyone . But six months went by without a peep about the feature, furthering suspicions that the announcement that it would release an Unsend button was merely a PR driven response to the scandal, even if Facebook was just taking time to figure out the right way to build it. Facebook retracted Zuckerberg’s messages from recipients’ inboxes Late last week, TechCrunch asked Facebook about its progress on Unsend ahead of the six month mark, and the company told us “Though we have nothing to announce today, we have previously confirmed that we intend to ship a feature like this and are still planning to do so.” Now we have our first look at the feature thanks to TechCrunch’s favorite tipster Jane Manchun Wong . She’s managed to generate screenshots of a prototype Unsend button from Facebook Messenger’s Android code. Other Facebook prototypes discovered by Wong like the Your Activity screentime dashboard, Instagram’s video calling and music stickers, and more features have gone on to receive official launches. Currently, you can only delete messages from your own inbox — they still remain in the recipients’ inbox. But with this Unsend feature prototype, you’re able to remove a message from both sides of a conversation. However, the code indicates that in the current prototype there’s a “time limit”. That may mean users would only have a certain amount of time after they send a message to unsend it. That would essentially be an editing window in which users could take back what they said. In response, a spokesperson confirmed that “Facebook internally tests products and features before they ship to the public so we can ensure the quality of the experience.” The Unsend feature could be useful to people who say something stupid or inappropriate, disclose a secret they shouldn’t have, or want to erase evidence of their misdeeds.

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Here’s how to find out if your Facebook was hacked in the breach

Are you one of the 30 million users hit by Facebook’s access token breach announced two weeks ago ? Here’s how to find out. Facebook breach saw 15M users’ names & contact info accessed, 14M’s bios too Visit this Facebook Help center link while logged in:  https://www.facebook.com/help/securitynotice?ref=sec . Scroll down to the section “Is my Facebook account impacted by this security issue?” Here you’ll see a Yes or No answer to whether your account was one of the 30 million users impacted. Those affected will also receive a warning like this atop their News Feed: If Yes, you’ll be in one of three categories: A. You’re in the 15 million users’ whose name plus email and/or phone number was accessed. B. You’re in the 14 million users’ who had that data plus account bio data accessed including “username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches”. C. You’re in the 1 million users whose access token was stolen but your account was never actually accessed with it. Lucky you.   So what should you do if you were hacked? You don’t necessarily have to change your Facebook password or credit card info as there’s no evidence that data was accessed in the attack Watch out for spam or scam calls, emails, or messages as your contact info could have been sold to unscrupulous businesses Be on alert for phishing attempts that may try to email you and get you to sign in to one of your online accounts on a fake page that will steal your data.

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Facebook breach saw 15M users’ names & contact info stolen, 14M’s bios too

Facebook has now detailed what data was scraped and stolen in the breach it revealed two weeks ago . 30 million users, not 50 million as it initially estimated, had their access tokens stolen by hackers. Users can check Facebook’s Help Center to find out if their information was accessed, and Facebook will send customized alerts to those impacted detailing what was accessed from their account and what they can do to recover. It’s currently not clear if all the information accessed was necessarily scraped. Facebook’s VP of product managment Guy Rosen told reporters on a press call that “We are cooperating with the FBI on this matter” and that “the FBI have asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack” as its own investigation is ongoing. Disclosing anything about perpetrator now could cause them to cover tracks. 15 million of the 30 million users had their name plus phone number and/or email accessed. 14 million had that info plus potentially more biographical info accessed, including “username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches”. The remaining 1 million users’ information wasn’t accessed. Facebook’s other apps including Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Workplace, and Pages, as well as its features for payments, third-party apps, advertisers, and developers were not accessed. Facebook says that law enforcement has asked it not to discuss evidence regarding who committed the attack as the FBI continues its investigation. Facebook says the breach started when hackers with some access tokens exploited a combination of three bugs related to its “View As” privacy feature for seeing your profile from the perspective of someone else. This let them gain access to those accounts’ friends leading them to steal access tokens 400,000 accounts, and used a different method to then grab tokens from 30 million of their friends. Unlike most breaches, this one appears to have turned out to be less severe then initially expected. Users seem to already be forgetting about the breach after a short hiccup where they had to log back in to Facebook.

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Want to reduce fraud? Make a better password, dummy!

Researchers at Indiana University have confirmed that stringent password policies – aside from being really annoying – actually work. The research , led by Ph.D. student Jacob Abbott, IU CIO Daniel Calarco, and professor L. Jean Camp. They published their findings in a paper entitled “Factors Influencing Password Reuse: A Case Study.” “Our paper shows that passphrase requirements such as a 15-character minimum length deter the vast majority of IU users (99.98 percent) from reusing passwords or passphrases on other sites,” said Abbott. “Other universities with fewer password requirements had reuse rates potentially as high as 40 percent.” To investigate the impact of policy on password reuse, the study analyzed password policies from 22 different U.S. universities, including their home institution, IU. Next, they extracted sets of emails and passwords from two large data sets that were published online and contained over 1.3 billion email addresses and password combinations. Based on email addresses belonging to a university’s domain, passwords were compiled and compared against a university’s official password policy. The findings were clear: Stringent password rules significantly lower a university’s risk of personal data breaches. In short, requiring longer passwords and creating a truly stringent password policy reduced fraud and password reuse by almost 99%. Further, the researchers found that preventing users from adding their name or username inside passwords its also pretty helpful

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