Home / Tag Archives: imageobject

Tag Archives: imageobject

Eventbrite’s IPO should encourage tech companies to get out while they still can

Eventbrite is having one hell of a debut on the New York Stock Exchange this morning. Shares of the ticketing startup, founded back in 2006, have shot up over 50% in trading on the NYSE. After pricing its shares at $23 in its initial offering, investors have bid up the stock to a whopping $37, putting the company’s valuation at nearly $3 billion. $EB prices $23, opens $36 pic.twitter.com/cYgCuqbmh8 — (@hunterwalk) September 20, 2018 That’s well above where the ticketing company had hoped to be when it initially set terms for the public offering earlier this month. Eventbrite sets IPO range of $19 to $21, valuing it at $1.8B The company started trading priced above its share price and nearly doubled its valuation. And if Eventbrite can do it, really almost any later stage startup should be thinking about the public markets right now. Performance for the San Francisco ticketing company has been… somewhat lackluster. As we noted when wrote about the company’s offering: Eventbrite is not profitable and has been losing money since 2016. According to the documents, it posted losses of $40.4 million in 2016 and $38.5 million in 2017. In the first six months of 2018, the company has posted a net loss of $15.6 million. The company is making changes to make up for some of those losses — at the end of August, it announced a  new pricing scheme for its customers using the “Essentials” package. Its revenue is rising though, increasing from $133 million in 2016 to $201 million last year. Since the beginning of the year tech public offerings have been on a tear

Read More »

Delta to start scanning faces at airport check-in

Delta will later this year roll out facial recognition at its terminal at Atlanta International Airport for anyone traveling on an international flight. The airline said the biometric facial scanning is optional — a move that will shave off a few minutes off each flight — but will help border and pre-flight security authorities before jetting out of the US. It’s the latest roll-out of facial recognition trials at Detroit Metropolitan and New York John F. Kennedy airports. What might be convenient to some, to others it’s a privacy violation — and some argue that without approval from Congress, it could be illegal . Facial recognition at airports is a controversial move, one that’s been decried over the past year since it first rolled out last year. Six major US airports completed trials as part of a wider rollout — aimed to be completed by today. CBP relies on airlines to collect facial recognition data, something Delta doesn’t shy away from. The airline said facial recognition “is a natural next step following CBP and Delta’s optional facial recognition boarding tests” at Atlanta. Customs and Border Protection has previously said that the move was to crack down on those who overstay their visas, but privacy advocates said that it steps on privacy rights. Delta said that travelers who don’t want their faces will be given several opportunities to opt-out, Delta spokesperson Kathryn Steele told TechCrunch, and can continue to “proceed normally” through security. CBP spokesperson Jennifer Gabris said that only US citizens can opt out, and will have their documents checked manually. Homeland Security, which oversees border security, struck a different tone when last year it said that  anyone who wanted to opt out of having their faces scanned should “refrain from traveling.” Biometric data collected by Delta is stored by the government for two weeks, but exit records on citizens and green card holders are held for 15 years, and 75 years for non-immigrant visitors. If that makes you uneasy, don’t expect the rollout to slow any time soon

Read More »

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.

Read More »

Amazon’s Alexa can now act on ‘hunches’ about your behavior

Amazon’s big hardware event isn’t all about hardware — although there is plenty of that, too. Amazon also talked about how it’s making its virtual assistant Alexa smarter and more intuitive about human behavior, particularly when there are lots of connected smart home devices to tap into. Amazon announced at the event Thursday a feature called Alexa Hunches, a new feature that allows the virtual assistant to follow cues about a user’s behavior and make suggestions. This all starts with a deep neural network that allows Amazon to understand and learn behavior. For now, “Hunches” is focused on the smart home because connected devices like smart lights or security cameras give Alexa the data it needs to make the kind of judgment calls the human brain is capable of. For instance, a user might say “Good night, Alexa” or “Alexa, set an alarm.” And Alexa, which has heard these commands daily, will tap into all that behavioral data and follow a hunch. Alexa might respond with something like, “Hey, I think that you left the porch light on, would you like me to turn it off?” Amazon has been testing hunches in the lab and expects to roll out the feature later this year. The hunches feature will learn and improve over time.

Read More »

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere

Amazon keeps rolling out new Alexa devices this morning, with the launch of a new Alexa device – in a clock. Yes, there’s now an Echo Wall Clock available that has Alexa voice capabilities built in. That means you can ask Alexa to do things like set alarms and timers – and the lines on the clock will illuminate as the time progresses. Alarms and timers, of course, are two of the most used Echo features – and a wall clock makes sense as a place where people might like to use them, or so Amazon thinks. The Wall Clock is designed to have an easy-to-understand interface so anyone who walks into the room could use it, without a long learning curve, the company claims. The company demonstrated using the clock for setting a pasta timer, where a little LED shows up to tell you where the timer is, and then it begins to count down. Amazon also pointed out that an Alexa-connected wall clock would mean you’d no longer have to update your clock for daylight savings time. The device sort of feels like Amazon is throwing out a bunch of stuff just to see what sticks. Do people want an Alexa microwave or wall clock? The holiday shopping season will give us that answer. The Wall Clock will ship later this year for $30.

Read More »

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 .

Read More »

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…

Read More »

Amazon FreeTime for Alexa adds routines, kids’ podcasts and audiobooks

Amazon today announced it’s rolling out new features for its FreeTime service for parents and children, which recently started working with Alexa,  allowing parents to control children’s experience with the personal assistant. Now, the FreeTime service for Alexa will also support routines – the combination of voice commands that can be kicked off with a single phrase. For example, parents could say, “Alexa, it’s bedtime” to have Alexa turn off the lights, lower the shades and play lullabies. The company said it’s also adding other features for kids, as well, including podcasts and over 1,000 audiobooks for kids. See our full coverage from the event  here .

Read More »

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.

Read More »

Bird hits 10 million scooter rides

Bird just announced 10 million scooter rides since launching about one year ago. If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because Bird competitor Lime earlier today announced it surpassed 11.5 million rides across its shared bikes and scooters . Bird, which launched last September in Santa Monica, Calif., currently operates in 100 cities and has over two million unique riders, Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden told TechCrunch. But Bird’s first year of operations has been full of ups and downs. Many of the downs have been around regulatory issues. Bird faced, and overcame them, in Santa Monica but failed in San Francisco. “I think anytime you’re doing something new that the cities haven’t contemplated before, there always seems to be gray area on where you fit in in the regulatory environment,” VanderZanden said. “Cities hadn’t thought about electric scooters and electric scooter sharing. We collaborated very closely with the cities we’re in now.” Although San Francisco did not grant an operating permit to Bird — the city gave them to Scoot and Skip — VanderZanden stressed that “San Francisco is one city. We’re in 100 cities.” He also said Bird is not looking to appeal the decision in San Francisco. Lime, however, is in engaging in the appeals process. As Bird enters its second year of operations, the name of the game is to double down on its efforts with cities and building out its government tech platform. Bird is also looking into manufacturing its own scooters to provide more durability to its customers and differentiate itself from other scooters on the market. “We’ve been investing heavily in that area,” VanderZanden said. “You’ll start to see new vehicles coming from us soon.” He added, “we want to keep building vehicles that are more ruggedized but also vehicles that have new features for the riders as well.” And Bird definitely has the funds to do that

Read More »

Walmart is putting 17,000 Oculus Go headsets in its stores to help train employees in VR

Workplace training has long been considered one of the key early areas where virtual reality can make a dent in the enterprise. Walmart already made some noise when it announced it would be bringing VR hardware into its training centers , now the company is planning to send Oculus Go headsets to each of its 5,000 stores so that more of Walmart’s employees can get instruction more often. The big box giant will begin sending four headsets to each Walmart supercenter and two headsets to each Neighborhood Market in the country. That may not necessarily seem like a ton to train a store full of employees, but at Walmart’s scale that amounts to about 17,000 headsets being shipped by year’s end. The move is the evolution of an announcement that the company made last year that it was working with STRIVR Labs to bring virtual reality training to its 200 “Walmart Academy” training centers. Those training sessions were done on PC-tethered Oculus Rifts, the move to Oculus Go headsets really showcases how much more simple standalone headset hardware is to setup and operate. Just being able to send a few of these to each store and expect that people will be able to navigate them easily is a win for Oculus and Facebook as most early VR hardware has taken a healthy bit of troubleshooting in order to engage with anything. “Walmart was one of the first companies to benefit from VR’s ability to enrich employee education, and its applications will only grow from here,” Oculus business partnerships head Andy Mathis said in a press release. “What makes it so compelling is that costly, difficult, or otherwise impossible scenarios and simulations become not only possible, but immediately within reach.” Walmart is bringing VR instruction to all of its U.S. training centers Virtual reality offers a unique opportunity to gain exposure to processes and products before it’s actually go-time. For employees, the experience can be more engaging than existing options and I would imagine people are less prone to distractions or mindlessly clicking through screens. STRIVR’s instruction videos are largely 360 video-based with interactive onscreen prompts and can offer employees an opportunity to see and feel like they’re interacting with new initiatives before the infrastructure is even in place

Read More »

Inside Facebook Dating, launching today first in Colombia

Does deeper data produce perfect matches? Facebook is finally ready to find out, starting today with a country-wide test in Colombia of its Dating feature. It’s centered around an algorithm-powered homescreen of Suggested romantic matches based on everything Facebook knows about you that other apps don’t. There’s no swiping and it’s not trying to look cool, but Facebook Dating is familiar and non-threatening enough to feel accessible to Facebook’s broad array of single users. Originally announced at F8 in May , Facebook has hammered out details like limiting users to expressing interest in a maximum of 100 people per day, spotlighting personal questions as well as photos, and defaulting to show you friends-of-friends as well as strangers unless you only want to see people with no mutual connections. If the test goes well, expect Facebook to roll Dating out to more countries shortly as the social network pushes its mission to create meaningful connections and the perception that it can be a force of good. “The goal of the team is to make Facebook simply the best place to start a relationship online” Facebook Dating’s product manager Nathan Sharp told me during an expansive interview about the company’s strategy and how it chose to diverge from the top dating apps. For starters, it’s not trying to compete with Tinder for where you find hookups by swiping through infinite options, but instead beat eHarmony, Hinge, and OKCupid at finding you a life partner. And it’s all about privacy, from its opt-in nature to how it’s almost entirely siloed from Facebook though lives within the same app. “We wanted to make a product that encouraged people to remember that there are people behind the profiles and the cards that they’re seeing.

Read More »

Equifax slapped with UK’s maximum penalty over 2017 data breach

Credit rating giant Equifax has been issued with the maximum possible penalty by the UK’s data protection agency for last year’s massive data breach. Albeit, the fine is only £500,000 because the loss of customer data occurred when the UK’s prior privacy regime was in force — rather than the tough new data protection law, brought in via the EU’s GDPR , which allows for maximum penalties of as much as 4% of a company’s global turnover for the most serious data failures. So, again,  Equifax has managed to dodge worse consequences  over the 2017 breach, despite the hack resulting from its own internal process failings after it failed to patch a server that was known to be vulnerable for months — thereby giving hackers a soft-spot to attack and swipe data on 147 million consumers. Personal information that was lost or compromised in the 2017 Equifax breach included names and dates of birth, addresses, passwords, driving licence and financial details. The UK data protection regulator is involved because up to 15 million UK citizens’ data was also breached in the attack. And while the hack compromised Equifax’s US systems, the UK citizens’ data was being processed in the US. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today that the UK arm of Equifax failed to take adequate steps to ensure its US parents was protecting this data. Reporting the result of its investigation , the ICO said Equifax contravened five out of eight data protection principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 — including, failure to secure personal data; poor retention practices; and lack of legal basis for international transfers of UK citizens’ data. “Equifax Ltd has received the highest fine possible under the 1998 legislation because of the number of victims, the type of data at risk and because it has no excuse for failing to adhere to its own policies and controls as well as the law,” said information commissioner Elizabeth Denham in a statement. “We are determined to look after UK citizens’ information wherever it is held.” “The loss of personal information, particularly where there is the potential for financial fraud, is not only upsetting to customers, it undermines consumer trust in digital commerce. This is compounded when the company is a global firm whose business relies on personal data,” she added. The regulator’s investigation, carried out in parallel with the UK’s financial regulator , the Financial Conduct Authority, revealed multiple failures at the credit reference agency. The ICO says it found that measures that should have been in place to manage personal information were “inadequate and ineffective”, and there were also “significant problems” with data retention, IT system patching, and audit procedures

Read More »

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.

Read More »

Jamie Burke to explain why you should still bet on the blockchain at Disrupt Berlin

Now that your cousin doesn’t ask you questions about bitcoin anymore, is it the end of all things blockchain? Maybe it just means that it’s time to think about innovating at the protocol level and come up with new use cases. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Outlier Ventures CEO and founder Jamie Burke will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin . Burke bet on the blockchain industry quite early as he set up Outlier Ventures back in 2013. The firm’s investment strategy is much more interesting than your average investment thesis. According to Burke, blockchain is key when it comes to decentralization. At some point, the web and the internet became too centralized. Most people now spend their time on social networks and other walled gardens. This isn’t the first centralization wave. Web portals and AOL’s navigator have more or less disappeared.

Read More »