Customers who have pre-ordered the Apple Watch can expect to see their new gadgets at their doorsteps sooner than expected. Customers in the US who pre-ordered the device were originally told their orders would not ship until May or April. However, many have received an email notification saying their orders are “processing”. “We’re happy to be updating many customers today with the news that their Apple Watch will arrive sooner than expected,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received. We know many customers are still facing long lead times and we appreciate their patience.” Professional certification startup Simplilearn raises $US15 million Professional certification startup Simplilearn has raised $US15 million in Series C funding, according to TechCrunch. The startup specialises in online self-learning and corporate training, with analytics, project management, marketing and programming courses proving the most popular among consumers. To date the startup has raised $US27 million and plans to have one million users by the end of 2015. Facebook launches new app to identify unknown callers Facebook has launched a new Android app to identify mystery callers, Re/code reports. Called Hello, the app taps into information publically available on Facebook to identify who’s calling you – even if you aren’t friends with the person calling on Facebook. The application only works if the person calling you has shared their number publicly on the social media platform. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 88.64 points, rising 0.49% to 18,038.27. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77 US cents. Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
General wisdom among tech entrepreneurs is that the ideal number of co-founders is two or three. There is a good reason for it – an analysis of a dataset of 100,000 startups by Startup Genome shows that solo founders take 3.6x longer to reach the scale stage, compared to a founding team of two. However, taking a co-founder on board brings its own risks. Here’s a short guide to picking the right person. 1. Find someone with a complementary skillset According to serial tech entrepreneur and Stanford lecturer, Steve Blank, startups are inherently chaotic, and finding a product/market fit in that chaos requires a team with a combination of skills. The skills you need depend on the industry you’re in but, in general, co-founders should have complementary skills. In mobile and web startups, that usually means great technology skills, great business and marketing skills, great UX design and product skills. Most people are good at one or two of these, but it’s very rare to find someone competent in all areas. 2. Find someone who shares your vision and values Co-founder disputes are very common and are a frequent cause of startup failure. A lot of these disputes stem from founders having different ideas about how to run the company and where it should go. One thing is to put your vision and priorities on paper; another is to live it day by day, especially when your original idea proves wrong and you need to change direction. Likewise, the values you live by will plant a seed for what becomes a company culture. The reality is that co-founders will have different values but, together as team, you have to define a common value system. Having done so will likely play an important role in taking your startup forward. 3. Find someone with grit Once you have an idea, you need to be able to pursue it, even in the face of adversity, if you want your startup to succeed. Frankly, entrepreneurship is extremely challenging, and to persist through those challenges, you need grit. Professor Carol Dweck, of the Stanford Department of Psychology, has done extensive research on the subject of grit, which she defines as ”the disposition to pursue very long-term goals with passion and perseverance, stamina and ability to win things over the long-term and work very hard at it”. According to her research, the key to grit is having the right mindset. Dweck observed two different mindsets among people: Fixed mindset: A belief that you either are talented or not. Failure is proof of your inability. Intelligence and talent are just fixed traits. Growth mindset: A belief that abilities are developed. Setbacks and criticism are a sign that you need to improve. You learn and grow yourself and think long-term. People with a growth mindset are more resilient to challenges related to their abilities and performance than those with a fixed mindset. 4. Find someone who stands out Founder personalities are important and often popularised. Many companies end up looking like founder cults – Steve Jobs is a great example. Peter Thiel, investor and founder of two billion-dollar companies (PayPal, Palantir), believes there is a connection between being a founder and having extreme traits. According to him, the key to PayPal’s success was the eccentricity of all founders: “Four of them were born outside of the United States. Five of them were 23 or younger. Four of them built bombs when they were in high school. Two of these bomb-makers did so in communist countries: Max in the Soviet Union, Yu Pan in China. This was not what people normally did in those countries at that time.” According to his observations, if all traits distributed in the population were aggregated on a normal distribution chart with extreme traits on the right and left side of it, you will find most founders on both ends of the curve, rarely in the middle of it. True or not, entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Larry Ellison certainly add a little substance to this. 5. Find someone with whom you have a history of working together In the case of startup ‘unicorns’: 90% co-founding teams of $1 billion+ startups comprise people who have years of history together, either from school or work; 60% have co-founders who worked together; and 46% who went to school together. Further findings reveal that teams that worked together have driven more value per company than those who went to school together. Only four teams of co-founders didn’t have common work or school experience, but all had a common thread. Two were known and introduced by the investors at founding/funding; one team were friends in the local tech scene; and one team met while working on similar ideas. The take-away? The most successful co-founder teams are the ones where the people have known each other in other contexts, prior to the company at hand. Sources: TechCrunch, Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 18 Notes, Stanford University. This piece originally appeared on Appster’s blog.
Dutch authorities have launched a criminal investigation into Uber because the company is providing an illegal taxi service that violates a court order, according to Reuters. The investigation is the latest setback for the ridesharing service in Europe. Last month a German court issued a nationwide ban on unlicensed taxi drivers with fines of up to $300,000 for violating the law. The move saw Uber bowing to pressure and agreeing to pay for transport licences for its UberX drivers. To date Dutch police have fined 23 Uber drivers more than $2000 for operating without a licence. In Australia, unregistered taxi drivers can attract fines of up to $7500. French senate supports law requiring Google to reveal its algorithm The French senate has supported a law that would require search engines to reveal their algorithms in order to ensure fair and non-discriminatory search results, according to TechCrunch. The chamber’s amendments to a draft economy bill could also see search engines forced to include a minimum of three rivals on the first page of search results. Google, which owns an overwhelming chunk of the search engine market, has always kept its search algorithm top secret. The draft legislation comes at a time when Google is coming under tough scrutiny in Europe for allegedly abusing its dominance of the internet to the detriment of competitors. The French upper house will vote on the legislation and its amendments next month before it has the opportunity to be passed into law. WhatsApp reaches 800 million users worldwide Messaging platform WhatsApp has reached 800 million monthly users. The company’s current rate of growth puts it on track to reach one billion users by the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The messaging app has grown by 100 million active monthly users every four months since August 2014. Facebook purchased WhatsApp last year for just over $28 billion. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 279.47 points, falling 1.54% to 17,826.30. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 78 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Twitter is urging celebrities to stop using rival live-streaming app Meerkat in favour of their recent acquisition Periscope, according to TechCrunch. Periscope launched in March as Twitter’s answer to Meerkat, after acquiring the startup in January last year. At the time of the launch, Periscope said it wanted to “build the closest thing to teleportation”. “While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video,” the company said. Hillary Clinton confirms she is entering the 2016 US presidential race Hillary Clinton has confirmed she is running for US president, announcing the presidential bid over Twitter after an email explaining the campaign to supporters was leaked online. The former US secretary of state is tipped to run a tech-heavy campaign after she snapped up a former Google executive last week to be her chief technology officer. Stephanie Hannon – Google’s former director of product management, civic innovation and social impact – will now oversee a team of software engineers who will manage websites and apps for Clinton’s campaign. Winter comes early for Game of Thrones fans The first four episodes of Game of Thrones season five have been leaked online, with thousands of people downloading the files from popular torrent sites within hours of the leaks appearing online. The leaked episodes appear to have originated from review or translation copies, according to Fairfax. Game of Thrones is the most-pirated television series in the world, with Australians among the top offenders. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 98.92 points, rising 0.55% % to 18,057.65. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.7 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Buy tickets to the 2015 StartupSmart Awards.
Former US secretary of state Hilary Clinton, who is tipped to announce her presidential candidacy in coming weeks, has snapped up a Google executive to be her chief technology officer. Clinton has hired Stephanie Hannon – Google’s director of product management, civic innovation and social impact – in order to develop new ways to engage voters through technology, according to The Washington Post. Hannon will oversee a team of software engineers and developers who will build websites and apps for the campaign. The move comes after a string of technology hires in US politics. Last month the Obama administration brought on Silicon Valley veteran Jason Goldman as the White House’s first chief digital officer. YouTube confirms plans to launch an ad-free subscription service YouTube has today confirmed it will be launching an ad-free subscription service for users in exchange for a monthly fee, according to TechCrunch. In an email to YouTube partners, the company said it would be creating “a new paid offering” following the success of its Music Key service and YouTube Kids app. “We’re excited to build on this momentum by taking another big step in favour of choice: offering fans an ads-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee,” the email reads. “By creating a new paid offering, we’ll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast-growing advertising revenue.” Twitter drops discover stream in favour of trends Twitter is dropping its “Discover” stream in favour of a “Trend” section in order to give users a better understanding of what people are talking about on the social media platform. The new stream will have brief descriptions of trending hashtags, along with other details such as how many tweets have been sent about a particular topic. The updates are being rolled out on Twitter for iOS and Android. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 5.43 points, falling 0.03% to 17,875.42. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.4 US cents.
Domain registration and website hosting company GoDaddy raised $US460 million ($A605m) today as it listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s stock is currently 30% above the opening price of $US26.15 – resulting in a market cap of $US6.3 billion, according to TechCrunch. GoDaddy is planning to issue 23 million shares at $US20 each. The company has more than 12 million customers worldwide. America introduces new sanctions on overseas hackers President Barack Obama has signed an executive order launching new sanctions on perpetrators of cyber-attacks outside of the US, labelling cybercrime a “national emergency”. The sanctions will allow the US government to freeze the assets of individuals or groups launching cyber-attacks on organisations or businesses on American soil, according to Fairfax. The new measures follow the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment late last year. Cybercrime is estimated to cost the global economy more than $US400 billion a year. Twitter is bringing promoted tweets to user profiles Twitter is bringing advertisements to user profiles as a way to boost revenue. “We’re experimenting with this feature, as we do with all our ad features, in order to create great experiences for our users, advertisers and partners,” a spokesperson told Re/Code. Promoted tweets currently appear in a user’s timeline. Startups and small businesses in Australia have been able to use Twitter’s advertising service since October 2014. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 77.94 points, falling 0.44% to 17,698.18. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A US startup that specialises in helping major brands handle their social media presence has closed a $US46 million ($A60m) funding round. Sprinklr’s latest raise means the company is now valued at more than $US1 billion. The round was led by existing investors Batter Ventures, Intel Capital and Iconiq Capital. Founder and chief executive Ragy Thomas said in a statement Sprinklr is helping large brands “deliver enhanced customer experiences” across social media channels. “Global businesses are expanding from channel-centric and function-centric thinking in response to the increasingly connected customer,” he said. “Neither point solutions nor disconnected cloud services will allow them to consistently deliver valuable customer experiences at every social touch point.” To date the startup has raised $US123.5 million. Twitter launches curation tool for publishers Twitter has launched a new platform to allow publishers to search, filter and curate Twitter content. Curator is free and aimed at news organisations, broadcasters, production companies and local governments. “Curator enables publishers to create complex keyword and hashtag queries to easily uncover streams of high quality Tweets,” Twitter said in a statement. “Queries can be further refined by follower counts, location, languages and more to create collections of the most relevant Tweets pertaining to that topic. Together with our partners, our goal is to make it easy and seamless for publishers to incorporate powerful conversations, interactivity and engagement into their programming.” Etsy shares to sell from around $US14 a share at IPO Online marketplace Etsy is planning to jump onto the NASDAQ with its IPO price expected to be between $US14 ($A18) and $US16 ($A21) a share, according to TechCrunch. The company, which was launched in 2005 and specialises in selling handmade and vintage products and shipping them around the world, hopes to raise $US100 million from the float. The startup will begin a roadshow to woo potential stock buyers tomorrow. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 200.19 points, falling 1.11% to 17,776.12. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has slammed so-called “religious freedom” laws in the US that allow employers to discriminate against their employees on the basis of personal beliefs. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Cook said that America’s business community recognised a long time ago that discrimination in all its forms is not just morally wrong but bad for business. “Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open,” he says. “Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.” Phhhoto now has more than 1 million users Camera app Phhhoto has broken the 1 million user mark. The startup launched an app last year that allows users to record GIFs and upload them to a public feed. Co-founder Omar Elsayed told TechCrunch the next stage for the app is to improve the user experience. “The product has gotten to a point where the Phhhoto media type is something that our users are enthusiastic about, so now it’s about how we can loop that into new ways of communicating, and perhaps even new content types,” he says. To date the startup has raised $US225,000 ($A294m) in seed funding. Drifty announces $US2.6 million capital injection Software startup Drifty has raised $2.6 million in order to fund its product development, TechCrunch reports. The round was led by Chicago-based firm Lightbank with participation from Founder Collective and previous investor Arthur Ventures. Drifty is a graduate of the TechStars Cloud 2013 incubator. Last year the startup raised $1 million in seed funding. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 263.65 points, rising 1.49% to 17,976.31. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Taxi-hailing service Uber has bowed down to regulators in Germany and will instead pay for the transport licences of its UberX drivers, according to Reuters. The move follows a decision by a German court earlier this month to issue a nationwide ban on unlicensed UberX drivers. Drivers operating in Germany without proper accreditation can face fines of more than $300,000 per violation of the law. The country is Europe’s largest economy. Pebble Time wraps up record-breaking $US20 million Kickstarter campaign Pebble Time, the smartwatch with up to seven days of battery life, has wrapped up its record-breaking crowdfunding campaign overnight – scooping up $US20,338,986 in funding from more than 78,000 backers. The campaign is the most-funded Kickstarter project of all time. Pebble Technology’s founders said in a joint statement on their Kickstarter page that the past month had been an “amazing” experience. “We will be spending the coming months hard at work polishing every last detail of Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel, finishing Pebble timeline, and ramping up the production process,” they said. “Expect updates as we progress.” Mobile payments platform raises $US5 million Mobile payments startup MyCheck has raised $5 million in Series B funding in order to spearhead its growth into Europe and America. The round was led by existing investors as well as the Spanish venture capital fund Santander Innoventures. The chief executive of MyCheck, Shlomit Kugler, told TechCrunch the investment will help with marketing as well as hiring business development professionals in key growth markets. “Merchants today are struggling to succeed and are looking for higher tickets, more traffic, cut expenses, and more effectively market themselves,” he said. “Customers are looking for an ‘Uber-like experience’ – to use their smartphone to receive great offers, be able to pay and leave at will whilst leaving their wallet at home.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 34.43 points, rising 0.19% to 17,712.66. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77.4 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Amazon will launch its new on-demand services marketplace on Monday in order to compete with US-based crowdsourcing startups such as Angie’s List. TechCrunch reports the platform, which has been rebranded from ‘Amazon Local Services’ to ‘Amazon Home Services’, has recently expanded its service categories as well as the cities it will be available in. The new platform will offer services including lawn mowing, gardening, automotive services and one-on-one lessons. IoT startup raises $US38 million in Series B funding August, a startup which produces smart door locks, has raised $US38 million ($A48m) in Series B funding in order to launch new products and expand its San Francisco-based team. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and brings the startup’s total funding to date to $US50 million. Co-founder Jason Johnson said in a statement the latest capital injection will allow for a runway much larger than he ever anticipated. “With this new financing, our team will define a new product category in the smart home, aiming to solve what we call the ‘last five foot problem’,” he says. “With our smart lock, mobile apps, and cloud-based access control, we offer homeowners, property managers, and guests a sophisticated and trusted way to control home access, bridging the gap between service providers and homeowners.” Facebook launches new service for marketers Facebook has announced a new tool that will allow marketers to analyse how successful their campaigns are based on aggregated social data. The service – called Analytics for Apps – will allow users to see how their marketing campaigns performed across different demographics such as age groups or gender, according to TechCrunch. Previously, marketers using Facebook to analyse their marketing efforts could only view who clicked on an ad instead of being able to see which demographics they could best target. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 292.60 points, falling 1.62% overnight to 17,718.54. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 78.4 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A German court has issued a nationwide ban on Uber which will prevent unlicensed taxi drivers from competing with licensed operators. Should Uber continue to operate in Germany with unlicensed drivers it will face fines of more than $300,000 per violation of the law. “We will not give up on the German market: our UberBlack and UberTaxi services remain unaffected by today’s judgment,” an Uber spokesperson told Re/code. In Australia, unregistered UberX drivers can attract fines of up to $7500. Facebook sued for alleged discrimination and unfair dismissal A former Facebook employee is suing the social media giant for unfair dismissal as well as alleged sexual harassment and discrimination based on race. Chia Hong has made 11 separate legal claims against the company after being fired in October 2013. She alleges that after she raised issues about being harassed and discriminated against the treatment became worse before her employment was terminated. “We work extremely hard on issues related to diversity, gender and equality, and we believe we’ve made progress,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “In this case we have substantive disagreements on the facts, and we believe the record shows the employee was treated fairly.” Fantasy sports app Draft raises $3.5 million Fantasy sports app Draft has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding in order to accelerate the startup’s growth and monetisation strategy. The round was led by Upfront Ventures and founders Jeremy Levine and Nicolo Giorgi are now looking to grow their team from four to nine employees, according to TechCrunch. The mobile app allows users to draft their own sporting team and play against other users for real money. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 227.11 points, rising 1.27% overnight to 18,076.19. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77.80 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Facebook is adding a new feature to its Messenger service that allows its users in the United States to send money to one another. Users need to add a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a US bank to their Facebook accounts; they can then create a PIN which provides security for the payments system. They are then able to transfer money between one another directly from the Messenger app on iOS, Android and Desktop. The service will roll out in the US in the coming months. There’s no word if it will become available in Australia. Nintendo entering mobile games After years of forgoing mobile gaming, Nintendo has announced an alliance with Japanese mobile gaming firm DeNA, TechCrunch reports. The deal will see the two companies jointly develop games for “smart devices”. In addition, a service will be developed that will let users play games across a variety of devices, including mobile devices, PCs and Nintendo consoles. That service is expected to launch later this year. Tweet analysis startup raises $130 million Dataminr Inc, a startup which analyses tweets and information streams, has raised $130 million led by Fidelity Investments, The Wall Street Journal reports. The startup’s software identifies patterns in hundreds of millions of daily tweets, web postings, traffic data, news wires and similar streams of data. The deal values the New York-based startup at about $700 million. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 128.34 to 17,849.08. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US76 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Facebook has attempted to clarify its community standards and approach to government requests following criticism of the way it censors content and has discriminated against users who are not using their legal name online. Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert said in a statement the social media giant’s updated community standards are designed to “create an environment where people feel motivated and empowered to treat each other with empathy and respect”. “It’s a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community,” she said. “For one thing, people from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what’s appropriate to share – a video posted as a joke by one person might be upsetting to someone else, but it may not violate our standards.” Facebook’s updated community standards, which clarify how and when the social network removes content online, can be viewed here. Yik Yak founders say their app has “very little” cyberbullying The founders of anonymous messaging app Yik Yak have defended their startup following criticism around cyberbullying on the location-based platform. Speaking at the South by Southwest conference, co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington said it was a misconception their app was a melting pot of threats and cyberbullying, according to TechCrunch. “Both of those are not what we see on a daily basis,” says Droll. In November last year Yik Yak raised $US62 million in funding, bringing the startup’s valuation to between around $US300 million and $US400 million. Aussie kids are spending almost a day each week on their phones Children in Australia are spending almost an entire day each week on their smartphones, according to research published by Telstra. While the average age of smartphone ownership for children is 12, the study found 10-year-olds spend on average 14.7 hours a week glued to their phones. Meanwhile 17-year-olds spend on average 26.3 hours each week on their smartphones. Family researcher Justin Coulson told Fairfax children shouldn’t be given a phone until they are at least 12 or 13, and even then there should be rules surrounding the phone’s usage. “Smart parents give their kids dumb phones,” he said. “You don’t give them too much too soon… kids don’t need smartphones.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 228.11 points, rising 1.29% overnight to 17,977.42. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.41 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Ashton Kutcher and his business partner Guy Oseary are launching a new venture capital fund called Sound Ventures. TechCrunch reports the fund will be stage-agnostic, allowing the pair to invest in later-stage startups. Kutcher has previously invested in companies such as Uber, Spotify and Airbnb through his first fund A-Grade Investments. The actor and tech investor was in Australia last month for the Tech My Way conference, where he speculated that virtual and augmented reality, biotechnology and artificial intelligence were the next big things in tech. Controversial app developer slams critics An Aussie app developer who promised to give thousands of dollars to charity and was exposed for not handing over the money has hit back in a rambling Facebook post. Belle Gibson, the founder of The Whole Pantry, solicited donations from around 200,000 people for various causes and said she would give away a quarter of her company’s profits – however, an investigation by The Age found no such contributions were ever made. Now the entrepreneur has hit back, according to Fairfax, writing in a Facebook post that those who were speaking to the media about her were bullying “myself and my family”. “I know the work my company and it’s [sic] contents did changed [sic] hundreds of thousands for the better,” she said. YouTube could be considering a subscription model for premium content YouTube could soon have its own paid video on demand service, according to The Verge. The company is exploring the concept as a means to improve its bottom line and allow popular content producers to access a higher percentage of ad revenue. The rumours come from an unnamed executive at a company that partners with YouTube to produce video content. Competition between streaming providers has heated up in the past 12 months, with Netflix confirming it is launching in Australia on March 24 and taking on local companies Quickflix and EzyFlix. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 145.91 points, falling 0.82% overnight to 17,749.31. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.23 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Apple is donating $US50 million ($A65m) to organisations that strive to improve diversity in the tech sector. Apple’s head of human resources Denise Young Smith has told Fortune the company was partnering with several not-for-profits in order to increase the workplace participation of women, people of colour, and people with diverse sexualities and genders. “We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” she said. “There is a tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.” The news follows Apple’s announcement that the Apple Watch will launch worldwide on April 24. What’s happened to Yik Yak? Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak has quietly disappeared from the Google Play charts. An investigation by TechCrunch found the startup was delisted from Google Play in October 2014, suggesting Google has taken action against the platform. The company has previously come under fire for publishing “demeaning” and “sexually explicit” language and imagery. Yik Yak brought on $US62 million in capital late last year in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital – valuing the startup at between $US300 million and $US400 million. Google’s CFO to retire Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pichette has announced he is retiring in order to spend more time with his family. In a post on his Google+ page, Pichette said he will hand over the role in the coming months after the company finds a suitable replacement. “Life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade-offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community,” he said. “And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 332.78 points, falling 1.85% overnight to 17,662.94. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.26 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Uber is close to making its first public acquisition, eyeing off San Jose-based mapping startup deCarta. A spokesperson for the ride-sharing service told TechCrunch the acquisition will help improve the company’s mapping services. “A lot of the functionality that makes the Uber app so reliable, affordable and seamless is based on mapping technologies,” they said. “With the acquisition of deCarta, we will continue to fine-tune our products and services that rely on maps – for example UberPOOL, the way we compute ETAs, and others – and make the Uber experience even better for our users.” Uber is currently valued at around $40 billion. Social network Nextdoor raises $US110 million Nextdoor, the US-based social network for neighbourhoods, has announced $US110 million in funding in order to accelerate its growth. The round was led by Redpoint Ventures and Insight Venture Partners, bringing the startup to a valuation of more than $US1 billion, according to The New York Times. Chief executive of Nextdoor, Nirav Tolia, said in a statement more than 35% of US neighbourhoods rely on the service and the investment represents a significant milestone for the company. “Every year at Nextdoor has been better than the last, and we are just getting started,” he said. “Whether it’s finding a great babysitter, selling a used couch, or coming together in times of crisis – we are honoured that Nextdoor has become an essential lifeline to the neighbourhood.” Instagram launches click-through links for sponsored posts Instagram will start introducing click-through links for the first time in a bid to woo more advertisers to the platform. TechCrunch reports the click-through ads are aimed at e-commerce companies after it initially launched advertisements on the platform in 2013. The links will be part the social network’s new ‘Carousel ads’ feature, which allows people to view a number of sponsored images. “Carousel ads give brands more flexibility in telling their stories by allowing people who view their ads to swipe left to see additional images and link to a website of the brand’s choice,” Instagram said in a statement. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 110.90 points, falling 0.61% overnight to 18,092.47. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 78.22 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
YouTube has launched a platform for children with the aim of making it safer and easier for pre-schoolers to find fun and educational videos online. The family-focused app, which is currently available on the Google Play and Apple stores in the US, also allows parents to limit their kids’ screen time and search settings. YouTube’s kids group product manager, Shimrit Ben-Yair, said in a statement the new app will allow children to search for everything from maths tutorials to how to build a model volcano. “For years, families have come to YouTube, watching countless hours of videos on all kinds of topics,” she said. “Now, parents can rest a little easier knowing that videos in the YouTube Kids app are narrowed down to content appropriate for kids.” Microsoft allows third-party developers for its fitness wearable Microsoft today announced updates to its Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health apps, meaning third party developers are now able to create apps for the company’s fitness wearable. Matt Barlow, general manager of new devices marketing at Microsoft, said in a statement the updates were made in response to customer feedback. “This feedback is at the heart of the decisions we make, and today we’re pleased to take our first steps in launching new features and functionality for Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health that address what we’re hearing,” he said. The update was released today and will roll out on Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices in the coming days. Facebook data protection practices questioned: report Facebook’s data protection practices have come under fire in a report commissioned by Belgium’s data protection authority. The report examines Facebook’s privacy policies and, in particular, slam’s the social network’s approach to “freely-given”, “informed” and “unambiguous consent” when it comes to customer data. “Given the limited information Facebook provides and the absence of meaningful choice with regard to certain processing operations, it is highly questionable whether Facebook’s current approach satisfies these requirements,” the report reads. A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch the company recently updated its terms and policies to make them “more clear and concise” in order to reflect new product features. “We’re confident the updates comply with applicable laws,” they said. “As a company with international headquarters in Dublin, we routinely review product and policy updates including this one with our regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who oversees our compliance with the EU Data Protection Directive as implemented under Irish law.” The report comes as the European Union is in the process of updating its data protection directive, which was made in 1995. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.14%, rising 25.01 points to 18,115.43. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at 78.03 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Melbourne startup that helps men purchase gifts for women has been crowned the winner of this month’s TechCrunch Radio Pitch-off. HappyWife, which launched in November last year, is a smartphone app that reminds users when a significant date is coming up – such as a birthday or wedding anniversary. The app then recommends a number of items to purchase and can have them gift-wrapped and sent straight to the user’s door. Founder Tommy McCubbin told StartupSmart the thing that made him stand out in the 60-second pitching competition was the personal narrative and a good understanding of his audience. “The secret was the story and my personal experience and how HappyWife solves a problem for me personally,” he says. The best idea I've seen in a long time. Men, be smart this Valentine's Day. Download the HappyWife app. @HappyWifeCo pic.twitter.com/DlPFCTv272 — Wippa (@Wippa) February 12, 2015 Asked whether women would like receiving a gift recommended by an app, McCubbin said the app has a range of features designed to make the process as thoughtful and unique as possible. “We arm the guy with some facts about the designer or where the product has come from so when she opens the present he can say this candle was handmade in Fitzroy,” he says. “There’s a constant churn of new stuff. Ultimately, we think there’s a lot of power in the card – the card is the time where you show how thoughtful you are. If there’s a cool product and a story behind it there’s no shame in using the app.” McCubbin also says he is working on a similar app for men’s products and also one for children. “But we’re focusing on female products for the next short while as I think the biggest problem to solve is one for guys.” However, Amy Gray, columnist for The Vine and Guardian Australia, told StartupSmart the app was “stuck in the past”. “No one appreciates getting a gift which has zero thought put into it by the gift giver,” she says. “The point of a gift is that it’s not just ‘good enough’ but actually special, a token that shows how the gift giver feels about the gift recipient. If it’s a huge catastrophe that men don’t know enough about the people they’re in relationships with, they don't need an app to fix it – they need basic communication training.” Gray says more women are needed in tech – whether as developers, entrepreneurs, or investors. “Men are better than this and women deserve more, whether it’s breaking through IT’s ceiling or getting a gift that actually means a damn.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “I have four sisters, a wife, a mum, a mother and a mother-in-law. It’s perfect because I have to give a gift to a woman 26 times a year.”
Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is trialling a way for its users to receive a full refund should a project which reaches its pledge goal not go ahead. TechCrunch reports the option is called Perk Insurance and costs between 10-20% of the total pledge amount. The coverage is currently available for three projects and refunds a customer the full amount of their pledge – minus the insurance cost – should their perks not be delivered within the estimated timeframe. However, are we likely to see insurance taken up by other crowdfunding platforms? Not so, according to Pozible co-founder Rick Chen. “I can see why Indiegogo is planning to do this but from my point of view it might be a bit of a strange thing from the user point of view,” he says. “People don’t only want to buy a product – they want to give money to see it happen. So there’s a lot of emotion in it. When you put insurance into it… it doesn’t really mix well from my point of view.” All of the Indiegogo campaigns that currently offer optional insurance are tech startups, including a wearable band that helps monitor stress levels and an electric bike. Chen says while Pozible did not initially see many tech startups use the platform, that all changed when the company launched in China last year. He says making sure a startup can deliver on its promises to consumers is critical. “For all our tech projects, we need to see how your tech prototype works first,” he says. “That’s how we make sure it’s capable of delivering. And we build a whole ecosystem chain in China from early prototype, to small batch manufacturer to mass manufacturer to help project creators do the right thing. If they [Indiegogo] really want to focus on lowering the risk of fraud on the site screening will probably work better than having to pay insurance.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Reddit is asking its users to vote on which 10 charities should receive 10% of the startup’s advertising revenue for 2014. Ten charities chosen by the Reddit community will each receive $82,765.95. Ryan Merket, product manager at Reddit, said in a statement one of the things that helps everyone in the company get “out of bed every morning” is the knowledge they are helping people around the world. “For 2014 we decided to ‘decimate’ our ad revenues to support the goals and causes of the entire community,” he says. “That means for every $10 in ad revenue we received, we would be splitting $1 equally between 10 charities selected by our community. We closed the books on 2014 and our total revenue was $8,276,594.93. Meaning we are donating $827,659.49.” Indiegogo testing ways to refund money Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is working on a way for its users to receive a full refund should a project they give money to not go ahead. TechCrunch reports the option is called Per Insurance and costs between 10-20% of the pledge amount. The coverage is currently available for three projects and refunds a customer the full amount of their pledge – minus their insurance – should their perks not be delivered within the estimated timeframe. Uber expands funding by $1 billion Popular ride-sharing service Uber has expanded its Series E round by $US1 billion to $US2.8 billion. The New York Times reports the additional strategic investment was led in part by Chinese internet giant Baidu. Uber is currently valued at around $US40 billion. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.19%, rising 33.62 points to 18,013.96. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 78.24 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.