THE NEWS WRAP: YouTube launches new platform for children and families

2:24PM | Monday, 23 February

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.

Do men need help buying gifts for the women in their lives? HappyWife thinks so

2:23AM | Thursday, 19 February

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 — 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.”

Are we likely to see insurance for crowdfunding in Australia?

2:48AM | Thursday, 19 February

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.

THE NEWS WRAP: Reddit to give more than $82,000 to charity

2:31PM | Wednesday, 18 February

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.

THE NEWS WRAP: Labor accuses Tony Abbott of politicising metadata laws

2:37PM | Monday, 16 February

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has expressed his disappointment with the way the Coalition government has politicised the debate surrounding data retention legislation and suggested Labor’s bipartisan support may be withdrawn.   Fairfax reports Shorten has sent a strongly-worded letter to Tony Abbott, urging his government to consider a number of concerns relating to the proposed data retention laws – including cost, press freedom and civil liberties.   The news follows a report on StartupSmart’s sister website Crikey, which revealed Labor was poised to back the government’s mass surveillance scheme.   The proposed legislation would currently require Australian phone and internet companies to store customer data so that intelligence agencies can access it without a warrant. Just Eat acquires Mexican food delivery startup Takeaway ordering and delivery startup Just Eat has announced the acquisition of Mexican ordering service SinDelantal in a bid to strengthen its presence in Latin America.   Chief executive of Just Eat, David Buttress, said in a statement the acquisition will secure the startup’s long-term strategy.   “We are delighted to be entering the thriving Mexican market, which offers exciting growth opportunities and strengthens our international portfolio,” he said.   “An increased stake in IF-JE further supports our commitment to building on our strategy to develop market leading positions and offer more consumers the benefits of a great online takeaway experience with JUST EAT.”   Just Eat is operating in 13 counties and in 2013 its revenue grew by 58% to more than $A190 million. Automated graphic design startup raises $1.1 million Automated logo design startup Tailor Brands has raised $US1.1 million ($A1.4m) in seed funding in a bid to scale its business.   TechCrunch reports the funding round was led by Disruptive Ventures and various angel investors.   The startup aims to help businesses create logos and other branded items quickly and easily by using algorithms and a series of questions instead of hiring a graphic designer.   Tailor Brands is operating in 35 countries following its launch last year. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.26%, rising 46.97 points to 18,019.35. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 77.75 US cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Why crowdsourced equity funding may not be what Australia’s startup ecosystem really needs

2:02AM | Friday, 13 February

I've been internally debating the merits of crowdsourced equity funding (CSEF) for a while now, but ended up jumping into a Twitter discussion the other day with Rose Powell and Ed Husic.   It didn't go too well. Admittedly, 140 characters is not necessarily the right way to go about debating such an important topic.   Husic, to his credit, is vehemently pushing the startup agenda in government and while I’m not supportive of his party, I do believe the issues facing startups in Australia need a bipartisan solution.   In the end, both parties should be pro jobs and pro economic growth, and startups are a huge catalyst for both. Most countries get this, why don't we?   To add a little more context to my comments on the topic of CSEF, my reservations are as follows:   1. As an early stage investor, I believe there are two types of capital — smart capital and dumb capital.   In a startup’s earliest stages, they need the former. Smart capital comes from angel investors who provide capital plus support to entrepreneurs — whether it be in the form of domain expertise, startup experience or access to networks there is a lot more value provided than just the capital. In a CSEF situation, the entrepreneurs don't get this level of support. All they get is a bunch of minority shareholders (even though this may or may not be pooled into a single syndicate, I still question how the entrepreneur gets the most out of this arrangement).   2. Australia’s startup ecosystem may be too immature to support CSEF.   Startups in Australia have really taken off in the past few years but as an investor I still see a lot of immaturity in how founders view and pitch their companies. For example, according to the Startup Muster survey, only 30% of founders are targeting markets bigger than $1 billion. This is a problem for investors who want to see more Australian startups aiming for the moon and are willing to accept a higher risk for higher reward (like us).   Right now there are a lot of first-time founders in the Australian ecosystem, many with great ideas that just need a bit of coaching, but CSEF doesn't provide that, and hence in an immature market, it could actually do more harm than good. To boost the amount of venture capital in the ecosystem, all we really need are runs on the board — successful exits where investors make good returns.   Traditionally, the resources and property sectors (and apparently the Melbourne Cup) have provided the returns and risk factors that investors were looking for and so the flow of capital into these sectors has increased over time. If, however, CSEF investments don’t live up to the hype, the entire sector will be tarnished.   I do understand why so many people see CSEF as a solution. The general consensus is that a lack of capital is holding us back, yet from my observations, many of Australia’s startups are just not ready or suitable for venture capital and the ones that are, are being funded. (Startup Muster results suggest only 18% of startups in Australian tried and failed to raise capital and that 14% successfully raised, which is not a bad ratio and in fact probably better than many other locations).   A startup ecosystem is really very similar to any two-sided marketplace, so of course we have a chicken and egg situation. Up until now most people have pointed the finger at government for making things harder than they need to be and VCs for being too risk averse. However, my (admittedly biased) opinion is that Australian investors are willing to take a lot of risk on a solid founding team, and many funds and angels have capital ready to invest in the right opportunities.   In this “TechCrunch” era it is easy to think that anyone can raise capital, but there are plenty of Silicon Valley startups that can’t get funding either for various reasons. Even Airbnb was rejected something like 13 times before they found their first investors — the key to their success being perseverance — and so Australia is not unique in being a tough environment to raise venture capital.   It’s not dire and it’s not at risk of disappearing. There is capital for the right opportunities. Could there be more? Yes, of course. Is CSEF the answer? No. Could government be better focused on what startups really need? YES!   Some will argue that we are getting left behind by the US, UK and Israel by not implementing CSEF quickly enough. The truth is that these countries are already so far ahead (decades, in fact) that we still have foundational issues in our ecosystem that need to resolved first.   What we really need is a startup ecosystem roadmap, and I’d be happy for Ed Husic to lead that effort. Previous policies have been a mile wide and an inch deep, but this roadmap should be focused solely on technology startups. Focus is the key; startups need to be decoupled from “small business” and all initiatives should be funded on the basis that they provide long-term positive economic impact.   These are things I’d like to see on that roadmap:   Greater support for entrepreneurialism as a career path — government funded awareness campaigns showing tech entrepreneurship as a viable career path.   Entrepreneurial visas that allow people to come to Australia to start their startup, pre-investment. A great way to build an ecosystem quickly is to import talent, but these visas should be competitive, and like being accepting into an accelerator program, applications should be reviewed by a panel of investors, not a government department.   Tax breaks for angel investors, which have proven to be very successful; particularly in the UK.   Tax breaks for limited partners in all investment funds and trusts that invest in startups. The ESVCLP program is a good start but the requirements are way too bureaucratic.   A globally competitive employee share plan for startups. This goes without saying really. To attract the best talent, startups need to pay in equity. Again this is where initiatives need to be decoupled from small and even large enterprises.   Greater support for STEM subjects in schools and universities, including entrepreneurship classes like those that are taught at most US universities.   My biggest hope is that one day Australia will see a government that gets startups and the economic impact that they have the potential to make. While I've previously blogged that entrepreneurs should forget about government support, I’m still of the opinion that government has a role to play in the long-term viability of the Australian startup ecosystem.   James McKinnon is managing partner of Mirin Capital — an Australian Venture Capital firm based in Sydney and Melbourne. You can reach him at or on Twitter @jrmck.   This post originally appeared on Medium.

THE NEWS WRAP: Twitter introduces group messages and video editing features

1:31PM | Tuesday, 27 January

Twitter has announced it is rolling out a range of new features aimed at boosting public conversations on the platform.   Group messaging will now be available for the private message function, including for people who do not necessarily follow each other.   New! Use Direct Messages to speak privately with a group of up to 20 people. Share Tweets, show emoji & be yourself. — Twitter (@twitter) January 27, 2015   Users will also be able to capture, edit and share videos directly from the Twitter app in the same way that they can upload photos. Videos can be up to 30 seconds in length.   The new features will be available to users in the coming weeks.   Snapchat introduces news and entertainment service   Snapchat has launched a new feature aimed at selling ads and sharing content from news organisations such as Vice and CNN.   “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams,” the company said in a blog post.   “It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first.”   Snapchat is currently valued at around $10 billion.   Fintech startup raises $1 million in seed funding   Credit card startup Final has raised $1 million in seed funding ahead of its 2015 pilot program.   TechCrunch reports the round was led by Ludlow Ventures, T5 Capital Partners, Y Combinator and other angel investors.   Founded a year ago, Final aims to give credit card users more transparency about their spending and eliminate the friction around having to cancel a card due to fraud or theft.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.62%, falling 287.22 points to 17,391.48. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US79 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook testing basic app for low-end Android devices

11:00AM | Wednesday, 30 November

Facebook is testing a new standalone app designed for low-end Android devices in emerging markets.   TechCrunch reports the app quietly launched in a number of countries in Asia and Africa over the weekend – including Vietnam, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.   The app is believed to be aimed at fast-growing markets in Africa and Southeast Asia, and has been built to accommodate Android devices of 252 KB in size and those on poor internet connections. Oculus turns to making virtual reality movies Oculus has announced it is exploring “VR cinema”, with an internal team focusing on the potential of virtual reality storytelling.   The internal team, known as Oculus Story Studio, will aim to make the cinema experience even more compelling, according to The Verge.   The news comes as the group’s first movie, Lost, debuts this week. Pluralsight acquires online learning startup Code School for $36 million Online technology training platform Pluralsight has acquired Florida-based startup Code School for $36 million.   The acquisition is Pluralsight’s sixth in the past 18 months and part of an aggressive expansion into the online learning space.   Founder and chief executive of Pluralsight, Aaron Skonnard, said in a statement the acquisition will allow the company to reach developers at all stages of their careers – including those with limited coding experience.   “Together we will continue to help professionals remain relevant and ensure businesses stay on top of the latest trends and technologies,” he said. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.07%, falling 12.68 points to 17,659.92. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US0.79 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Facebook launches pilot trials of Facebook at Work

1:55AM | Thursday, 15 January

Facebook has begun trials of its Facebook at Work service, a cloud-based platform that allows business to create social networks for staff, with the project led by an engineer who launched one of Sydney’s most successful startups.   Development on the project is being led by Lars Rasmussen, who was the cofounder of a Sydney-based mapping startup called Where 2 Technologies that was subsequently acquired by Google and rebranded as Google Maps.   After his success with Google Maps, Rasmussen went on to lead the development of Google’s ill-fated Google Wave project, which was intended as a real-time collaborative document editing platform.   TechCrunch reports an app for Facebook at Work has appeared on the iTunes app store, with an Android version set to go live shortly and another version accessible through the Facebook’s website. News of the service first leaked in November last year.   Facebook at Work will also give employees the option of either using a single login for both their work and personal accounts, or the ability to keep both separate.   Facebook at Work is set to compete against collaboration platforms such as Microsoft’s Yammer. Microsoft announced it is combining its business-focused Lync video conferencing and instant messaging app with Skype to create a new package called Skype for Business late last year.   This story originally appeared on SmartCompany.

THE NEWS WRAP: Founder of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter says site made five-figures in sales within 24 hours

1:08PM | Wednesday, 14 January

The founder of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter, an Australian startup that took the internet by storm yesterday, says his website is for sale after turning over five figures in less than a day.   Mathew Carpenter – who also founded the Bye Rupert web browser extension – took to Twitter to say he was willing to sell his website which allows people to send enemies glitter in the mail for $10.   Everyone from The New York Times to Mashable ran stories on the startup after the website was featured on Product Hunt and Reddit.   Carpenter claims the website received one million visits, 270,000 shares on social media and made six figures from glitter sales within one hour. ShipYourEnemiesGlitter with 1m visits, 270k social shares, $xx,xxx in sales, tonnes of people wanting to order. 24 hours old. For sale. — Mathew Carpenter (@matcarpenter) January 14, 2015 Facebook unveils Facebook At Work Facebook is making the leap into the enterprise market with the launch of its new Facebook At Work product.   TechCrunch reports the platform will allow businesses to create their own social networks among employees in a manner that looks and operates just like standard Facebook.   Facebook At Work is available on the iTunes and Google Play stores, and will also be accessible through the company’s main site. Employees can create separate accounts for the work accounts; however, they can then link this to their personal profile. Online education company Lynda raises $186 million Online education company has announced a $186 million capitals raise to accelerate acquisitions and new content initiatives.   The capital raise was led by global investment firm TOG along with existing investors Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech.   Chief executive of Lynda, Eric Robison, said in a statement the investment was a “tremendous vote of confidence” in the company’s ability to empower people through learning. offers thousands of online classes and video tutorials to its users in English, French, German and Spanish. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 172.43 points, falling 0.98% to 17,441.25. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US82 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Uber offers its data to help build better cities

1:34PM | Tuesday, 13 January

Ride-sharing service Uber today announced it will share its data with the City of Boston in order to help improve traffic ingestion.   “The data will provide new insights to help manage urban growth, relieve traffic congestion, expand public transportation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the company’s statement reads.   Uber says it will anonymise the data it gives policymakers and city planners. This is the first time the company opened up its transportation database to government officials.   Uber is in talks with New York City and is open to sharing its data with other cities across the US, according to The Wall Street Journal.   The announcement follows a string of bad PR for the company, including a number of incidents where drivers have allegedly assaulted their passengers as well as politicians calling the service illegal.   Cricket Australia catches deal with Apple TV   Cricket Australia has become the first content provider in Australia to strike a deal with Apple’s fast-growing TV platform.   The Australian Financial Review reports the deal, to be formally announced today, will see a dedicated cricket channel on the Apple TV network.   The channel will feature match highlights, news stories, player interviews and historic matches. Its content will be produced by both Cricket Australia as well as Nine Entertainment.   Nearly one million Australians are estimated to own an Apple TV digital media player, allowing them to stream movies, video and music to their home televisions.   App Annie raises $55 million in Series D funding   App Annie, a platform that measures app downloads, revenue and rankings, has raised $55 million in Series D funding.   TechCrunch reports the latest funding round was led by Institutional Venture Partners as well as existing investors Sequoia Capital, Greycroft Partners and IDG Capital Partners.   App Annie has also announced a new product called Usage Intelligence, which aims to give app publishers, markers and investors to gain deeper insights into user retention.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 36.47 points, falling 0.21% to 17,604.37. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US82 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Nvidia hopes to drive auto market with new platforms

1:30PM | Monday, 5 January

Chipmaker Nvidia has unveiled new platforms for in-car infotainment and self-driving cars at a press conference ahead of the International CES trade show in Las Vegas.   TechCrunch reports Nvidia has unveiled an in-car entertainment system called Drive CX that can power 16.6 megapixels across multiple displays, along with an image processing platform for self-driving cars called Drive PX.   The new systems are built on the company’s new X1 processor, which can power up to four full HD screens or two 4K resolution screens, along with speech and image recognition. Netflix-approved TVs are on the way Netflix is set to rollout “Netflix Recommended” logo for selected internet-connected smart TVs, with brands including Sony, LG Electronics, Sharp, Vizio and Roku signing up for the program.   According to Re/Code, Netflix says it will grant the certification to televisions that deliver “consumer benefits including turning the TV on instantly, faster app launch and faster resume of video playback”. LG updates its G Flex phone LG has announced an upgrade of its flexible G Flex Android smartphone at its pre-CES press conference.   As with its predecessor, the banana-shaped G-Flex 2 features a self-healing coating on the back that is resistant to scratches, and flexes back to its original shape when bent.   It includes a 403 pixel-per-inch 5.5-inch OLED display, powered by a 64-bit 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, and will initially be released in South Korea later this month. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.73% to 17524.1. The Aussie dollar is up to US80.97 cents.

How this Aussie startup plans to become a leading player in the booming world of bitcoin: #2015istheyear

12:53PM | Thursday, 18 December

Today I’m joined by Asher Tan from CoinJar, a startup that lets you buy, sell, and manage your bitcoin. CoinJar was founded by Asher and Ryan Zhou in mid-2013 and it’s been a whirlwind ride ever since.   With something in the area of $50 million worth of transactions in their first 12 months of operations, they now have a team of 12 people and offices in Melbourne and London, as they look to become a world leading bitcoin exchange.   AN: Asher, thank you for taking the time with me today, I know you just arrived back in the country from the new office in London. How is that going for you?   Asher Tan: London is great. It’s one of the finance centres of the world. The UK have very progressive laws relating to bitcoin that make it an attractive market, and one that we will be focusing our efforts on in the coming year.   AN: Nice one. To take it back to the beginning, can you tell us what you were doing before startups?   AsherT: I was working as an analyst, writing economic forecasts for a large firm.   AN: And so what made you want to do a startup?   AsherT: I’ve always enjoyed building and creating new things. And I think I’ve always had the startup bug in me, it just took a while for me to find it! In my previous job I had a small team working with me and tried to cultivate a close bond within the team, in order to reach and surpass our targets. The thing was, we bonded so well and met all our targets easily, yet head office didn’t want us to do any more and probably viewed us as loose cannons.   AN: Was there any trigger point, any incident in particular that spurred you into action?   AsherT: Nothing specific, I was gradually getting more and more immersed in the local startup eco-system, going down to events, making friends with people actively working on startups. Reading all of Paul Graham’s essays on the subject. Seeing other people build and create great product and companies – I wanted to do it too!     AN: So how did you get the idea for CoinJar then. Were you on the bitcoin train from the early days?   AsherT: I had been working on a completely different idea for a good six months before applying to AngelCube. I met Ryan online and another partner at a networking event, and we applied to AngelCube. During the interview process, they told us that they liked the team, but not the idea, and that if we wanted to get in we should change the idea. At the time I thought it was like Dragon’s Den or The Shark Tank, and they were testing us to see our commitment. Turns out it wasn’t a test. So over the weekend we brainstormed a bunch of other ideas, and CoinJar was the one we agreed upon. Thankfully AngelCube liked the idea as well, and the rest is history!   AN: Haha, too funny! It sounds like you’ve never been short of ideas… When did you know that this was the one?   AsherT: The early signs were good, even during the first few weeks of AngelCube it was obvious that we were having early signs of success relative to the other teams. For a while things were very stressful, but one of the mentors at AngelCube reminded us that the stress was due to our product being too popular, which is a really good problem to have. It wasn’t too long into the CoinJar journey that we did our first million in transactions. From that point onwards there wasn’t a doubt in my mind.   AN: Indeed. Given how fast things have been moving with CoinJar, I’m sure you’ve hardly had time to take it all in. But to date what would you say has been the biggest lesson learnt?   AsherT: When you can't figure things out that's what your co-founder is there for. Ryan built bitcoin businesses before, and especially at the start of our journey it was him leading the charge in terms of what direction we should take, what we need to build, etc. Some of his ideas were crazy, and we spent many a night arguing over what was worthwhile and what was not. Thankfully most of his ideas were right!   AN: Excellent! And just lastly, do you have any advice for the would-be entrepreneurs out there reading along and getting inspired to be the next Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou?   AsherT: Hustle. You have to use every resource at your disposal to keep your startup alive. At the end of AngelCube all the teams went to the US as part of the program, with the goal of raising a seed round. As a group we went down to a startup trade show called TechCrunch Disrupt, the thing is, all the other startups looked very slick and professional, with banners and display monitors and everything.   As a three-month-old startup we had none of this. So what we did was go down to Best Buy and purchased the biggest screen we could get our hands on. We were careful to take very good care of it whilst in our possession and not remove any of the stickers. As a result, we were the only AngelCube team to have a display monitor in our booth, which we returned as soon as the trade show was done, so it cost us nothing”! AN: Wow, thanks a bunch, Asher. Best of luck with CoinJar in the coming year.   Amir Nissen is program manager at AngelCube   This is the part six of our #2015istheyear series.   Part one – 2015 The year for my idea.   Part two – How to validate your idea this Christmas.   Part three – How Ash Davies created his ‘YouTube for books’ startup Tablo.   Part four – Why ‘manual first’ can help you MVP quicker.   Part five – David Chung of etaskr on chucking in corporate life to chase the startup dream. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Netflix rules out offline viewing

12:32PM | Wednesday, 17 December

A Netflix executive has ruled out offering customers the ability to view popular television shows and films offline.   “It’s never going to happen,” Netflix’s director of corporate communications and technology Cliff Edwards told TechRadar.   The statement has shot down hopes the popular video streaming service would allow customers to download videos to watch offline in a similar fashion to music streaming service Spotify.   Instead, Edwards argues better Wi-Fi coverage – particularly on public transport – is a more suitable long-term solution as opposed to offline viewing.   Last month Netflix confirmed it would expand into Australia and New Zealand in March 2015. The company has more than 50 million members worldwide.   Leaked emails reveal Snapchat acquisitions   Emails leaked during the Sony Pictures hack have revealed multimillion-dollar acquisitions made by Snapchat, as well as the startup’s plans to include a music feature.   TechCrunch reports that emails leaked between Sony Entertainment chief executive Michael Lynton and Snapchat board member Mitch Lansky reveal the picture and video-sharing app acquired QR scanning startup for $14 million in cash, $3 million in restricted stock units and $33 million in Class B common Snapchat stock.   Other emails reveal Snapchat reportedly paid $10 million in cash and $20 million in stock and bonuses for startup AddLive.   Dating startup Zoosk puts IPO plans on hold   Online dating platform Zoosk has backed away from its IPO plans and will revisit its options at a later date, according to TechCrunch.   The company launched in 2007 and filed for a $100 million IPO in April.   The news comes at the same time as a leadership reshuffle, with chief financial officer Kelly Steckelberg replacing cofounder Shayan Zadeh as chief executive. Zadeh will be taking up a position on the company’s board.   According to IBIS World, the dating services market is work $113 million in Australia.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 312.33 points or 1.83% to 17,381.2. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at US81 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Video journalism startup raises $6 million

12:32PM | Tuesday, 16 December

New York-based video journalism startup NowThisMedia has raised $6 million in Series C funding lead by previous backer Oak Investment Partners, TechCrunch reports.   The capital raise follows an investment by NCB Universal News Group earlier this year.   The startup, founded by BuzzFeed chairman Kenneth Lerer and Huffington Post chief executive Eric Hippeau in 2012, aims to reinvent video journalism in the smartphone era by producing short news clips than can be distributed across mobile and social media platforms.   The company’s videos were watched around 40 million times during the month of November.   Samsung considers taking on Apple Pay Samsung is in talks with a startup that would help it unveil a wireless mobile payments system that could rival Apple Pay in 2015.   The smartphone manufacturer is in talks with mobile payments startup LoopPay and a prototype has been created, according to Recode.   The partnership could see Samsung customers pay for items by waving their phone instead of swiping their card or paying with cash.   Apple Pay was launched in September this year, using near field communication technology in the iPhone 6 to do away with credit cards and overcrowded wallets.   Jury rules Apple did not violate antitrust laws in 2006   An American jury has decided Apple did not violate antitrust laws in 2006, letting the company walk away from a case that could have seen them pay $1 billion in damages.   The Verge reports the plaintiffs in the case unsuccessfully argued Apple’s iTunes 7.0 reduced competition by making it less easy for consumers to purchase music for their iPod that wasn’t from Apple.   The eight person jury delivered a unanimous verdict that the update was a genuine product improvement and did not adversely harm consumers.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 51.18 points or 0.3% to 17,129.66. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at US82 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Instagram surpasses Twitter with 300 million active users

12:51PM | Wednesday, 10 December

Instagram has surpassed Twitter’s 284 million active users, hitting the 300 million mark nine months after recording 200 million users.   “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys,” the company said in a statement.   Instagram also announced it would be rolling out verified badges for celebrities, athletes and brands – in the same way that Facebook and Twitter has verified users.   The social network is also cracking down on spam accounts in order to “improve” the user experience. As a result, the company has warned that some users’ follower counts may change.   Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. More than 70 million photos and videos are shared on the platform each day. Apple and IBM launch their first wave of apps for enterprises Apple and IBM have launched the first apps resulting from their partnership today, in a bid to bring mobile analytics to enterprises.   The software includes apps made for companies such as Air Canada, Citi and Sprint.   Senior vice president of IBM’s Global Business Services, Bridget van Kralingen, said in a statement the new enterprises will see businesses be able to unlock big data and drive individual engagement in a mobile-first world.   “Our collaboration combines IBM’s industry expertise and unmatched position in enterprise computing, with Apple’s legendary user experience and excellence in product design to lift the performance of a new generation of business professionals,” she said. Google tells Android developers to watch this face Google has opened up watch-face creation to third-party developers for the Android Wear community, according to TechCrunch.   The tech giant has also created a dedicated section of the Google Play store so that users can download watch faces just as they do with apps.   The updates will be rolled out over the next week. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 267.7 points to 17,533.47. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US83 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The next social network your business needs to think about: Tumblr overtakes Instagram and Facebook as fastest growing social site

11:52AM | Wednesday, 26 November

The multimedia micro-blogging website Tumblr has overtaken Instagram as the fastest growing social platform, according to research released today by the Global Web Index.   Instagram had topped the list as fastest growing social network just six months ago.   The report suggests businesses need to look outside traditional social networks to reach new users.   Facebook continues to be the world’s largest social network with 1.35 billion active monthly users, but when it comes to getting new users, it has reached a saturation point, reports TechCrunch.   Tumblr’s active user base in the last six months ballooned by 120%, while Facebook’s grew by only 2%.   Pinterest had the biggest growth in overall members, expanding 57%, while Facebook’s member base only grew by 6%.   Nearly every other social platform, including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and even Google+ grew faster than Facebook.   Snapchat, an app used largely by a millennial user base, was the fastest growing social app, growing 56% in a year.   TechCrunch suggests Facebook may look to acquire other apps, as it previously did with Instagram, or develop them in-house to fuel its growth, regardless of the slowdown trend in its core Facebook app.   Jason Mander, author of the Global Web Index report, said Facebook faced some major challenges.   “Firstly, people are growing tired of it, with 50% of members in the UK and US saying that they’re using it less frequently than they used to (rising to 64% among teens),” Mander said.   “Since the start of 2013, we’ve seen behaviours like sharing photos and messaging friends fall by around 20 percentage points.”   However, the report shows Facebook is still the most frequently visited social platform and that four in five internet users outside of China have a Facebook account.   This article was originally published at SmartCompany.   Follow SmartCompany on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

THE NEWS WRAP: Symantec researchers uncover spook malware’s reign of surveillance

11:26PM | Sunday, 23 November

Computer security researchers at Symantec say they have discovered a Trojan piece of malware likely built by a nation-state, which has spied on business and governments since 2008, Re/code reports.   While the origin of the sophisticated piece of malware, dubbed “Reign”, is unclear, a shortlist of capable countries would include the United States, Israel and China.   Researchers say Reign has an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target. It provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance and has been used in spying operations against government organisations, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers, and private individuals. Yahoo acquires photo startup Cooliris Photo app-maker Cooliris has announced that it has been acquired by Yahoo, TechCrunch reports.   Founded in 2006, the startup was originally known for creating a 3D wall for navigating photos and other media content. It also created a platform for mobile ads called Adjitsu, which it sold to Singtel’s Amobee division in 2012.   Recently the company shifted focus to a mobile app that allowed users to browse photos from across services like Facebook, Flickr, and Dropbox.   “Yahoo has a clear vision and unwavering commitment to making mobile an intuitive and effortless experience,” the company says in a statement on its website.   “This makes Yahoo the perfect partner for Cooliris, and we are excited to come together to bring indispensable products to a worldwide audience.” The secret life of passwords Passwords don’t just protect data; they reveal our hopes, dreams, secrets, fears and memories, The New York Times reports. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 91.06 to 17,810.06. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US87 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Beats Music to be bundled into iOS early next year

11:36PM | Wednesday, 19 November

As part of Apple’s revamp of Beats Music, the recently acquired music streaming service will be bundled directly into iOS.   The service will be bundled with the operating system early next year, instantly making it available on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, the Financial Times reports.   Beats will continue to be a paid service and will likely be rebranded under the iTunes umbrella. UK government funds free online startup education courses An initiative funded by the UK government and backed by the tech industry has launched, offering free online courses to those who want to learn commercial digital business skills, TechCrunch reports.   The Digital Business Academy is being overseen by Tech City, working in partnership with a host of educational institutions and tech mentorship organizations including Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London, and Founder Centric, which in turn works with tech accelerators such as Seedcamp and others. 500 Startups launches 10 million mobile collective fund Global seed fund 500 startups has launched a new micro-fund, a $US10 million ($AU11.6 million) fund it’s calling the 500 Startups Mobile Collective, TechCrunch reports.   The fund will be headed up by Edith Yeung, who joins after running marketing and business development for Sequoia-backed mobile browser Dolphin Browser. She also co-founded angel investment firm RightVentures, where she made more than 20 investments. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 2.09 to 17,685.73. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US86 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Payments provider BlueSnap raises $US50 million in latest funding round

11:23PM | Wednesday, 5 November

Global payment services provider BlueSnap has raised $US50 million ($A58 million) in growth financing, TechCrunch reports.   BlueSnap’s technology helps online companies maximise customer acquisition and retention through its global payment gateway and checkout pages.   The startup has been growing rapidly on the back of new technologies for buying and new types of shopping, which is driving the adoption of processing technologies. Stainless steel Apple Watch reportedly priced at $500, Gold version $4000+ French website is reporting that pricing for the stainless steel Apple Watch may start at $US500, while Gold Apple Watches will be available for between $US4000 and $US5000.   As MacRumors points out, the website has been a reliable source of information in the past, most recently reporting the dimensions of both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus pre-launch. Google Maps revamped Google Maps for iOS and Android has been revamped with new features including Material Design, restaurant booking through OpenTable, and Uber ride estimates. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 100.57 to 17,484.41. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US86 cents.