Food delivery startup DoorDash announced this afternoon that it has raised $250 million, just five months since the company announced a $535 million round.
Why raise more money so soon? CEO Tony Xu told Axios that he wasn’t actively looking for additional investment, but was open to investor interest because it could help the company expand more quickly. (Maybe he’ll have more to say about those plans at Disrupt SF next month.)
The new funding was led by Coatue Management and DST Global. It sounds like the terms were pretty appealing too, with the valuation growing from $1.4 billion to $4 billion.
In a blog post, the company said it’s had a good 2018, with deliveries increasing 250 percent year-over-year, restaurant chains like Chipotle and IHOP signing up and last week’s launch of the DashPass subscription service, where you can pay $9.99 per month to get unlimited free deliveries.
“As we grow, we will stay true to our values and our mission of connecting people with possibility — and, trust us, we’re just getting started,” DoorDash wrote.
The abusive scripts were found on 434 of the top 1 million websites including cloud database provider MongoDB. That’s according to Steven Englehardt and his colleagues at Freedom To Tinker, which is hosted by Princeton’s Center For Information Technology Policy.
Meanwhile, concert site BandsInTown was found to be passing Login With Facebook user data to embedded scripts on sites that install its Amplified advertising product. An invisible BandsInTown iframe would load on these sites, pulling in user data that was then accessible to embedded scripts. That let any malicious site using BandsInTown learn the identity of visitors. BandsInTown has now fixed this vulnerability.
TechCrunch is still awaiting a formal statement from Facebook beyond “We will look into this and get back to you.” After TechCrunch brough the issue to MongoDB’s attention this morning, it investigated and just provided this statement “We were unaware that a third-party technology was using a tracking script that collects parts of Facebook user data. We have identified the source of the script and shut it down.”
BandsInTown tells me “Bandsintown does not disclose unauthorized data to third parties and upon receiving an email from a researcher presenting a potential vulnerability in a script running on our ad platform, we quickly took the appropriate actions to resolve the issue in full.” Fiverr did not respond before press time. [Correction: Two companies listed by the researchers have confirmed via fraud prevention service Forter that they did not host any exploitative trackers, or that their trackers did not have access to Facebook data. They’ve been removed from the research paper and subsequently from this article.]
The discovery of these data security flaws comes at a vulnerable time for Facebook. The company is trying to recover from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, CEO Mark Zuckerberg just testified before congress, and today it unveiled privacy updates to comply with Europe’s GDPR law. But Facebook’s recent API changes designed to safeguard user data didn’t prevent these exploits. And the situation shines more light on the little-understood ways Facebook users are tracked around the Internet, not just on its site.
“When a user grants a website access to their social media profile, they are not only trusting that website, but also third parties embedded on that site” writes Englehardt. This chart shows that what some trackers are pulling from users. Freedom To Tinker warned OnAudience about another security issue recently, leading it to stop collecting user info.
Facebook could have identified these trackers and prevented these exploits with sufficient API auditing. It’s currently ramping up API auditing as it hunts down other developers that might have improperly shared, sold, or used data like how Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s app’s user data ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. Facebook could also change its systems to prevent developers from taking an app-specific user ID and employing it to discover that person’s permanent overarching Facebook user ID.
Revelations like this are likely to beckon a bigger data backlash. Over the years, the public had became complacent about the ways their data was exploited without consent around the web. While it’s Facebook in the hot seat, other tech giants like Google rely on user data and operate developer platforms that can be tough to police. And news publishers, desperate to earn enough from ads to survive, often fall in with sketchy ad networks and trackers.
Zuckerberg makes an easy target because the Facebook founder is still the CEO, allowing critics and regulators to blame him for the social network’s failings. But any company playing fast and loose with user data should be sweating.
Smart thermostat maker Ecobee just wrapped up a $61 million Series C, bringing the Toronto-based company’s total funding to $146 million. This latest round features investments from Energy Impact Partners, Thomvest, Relay Ventures and, most notably, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, which has taken a particularly interest in the company’s products of late. No surprise, really. Ecobee has… Read More
It’s most likely not going to be out until October, but we’ve already seen a lot of Google’s Pixel 3. A lot, a lot. And here’s a lot more.
The umpteenth leak of the upcoming smartphone details just about every nook and cranny you could even want to see of the thing. In fact, there are actually competing leaks of the device this morning , one of which actually took the handset’s camera for a spin, publishing a number of those photos.
It’s tough to say how much of this is controlled leaking is intentional. Ultimately, these leaks keep the product on the radar well ahead of launch, even if they do remove most or all of the surprise. Whatever the case, this thing is all over the place.
In the case of the Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL, reaction seems to be reasonably positive to everything but that massive notch up top. Of course, Google’s really leaning in on the notch front, having added that functionality with the recent release of Android Pie.
The new photos comport with just about everything we’ve see so far, including the single camera on the rear and the inclusion of what appears to be a wired version of the Pixelbuds, which require the included USB-C dongle/adapter.
There’s a reported 2960 × 1440 pixel display on the 3 XL, beating out the 2 XL’s 2880×1440. That’s due in part to the fact that the new phone has a downright massive 6.7-inch display, per rumors. That towers over even the Note 9’s 6.4 inches.
By all accounts there’s a Snapdragon 845 here, which certainly makes sense. And, of course, the handset will be running Android Pie.
Oh yeah, and then there’s this.
Microsoft closed out today’s big HoloLens 2 debut with a surprise appearance by Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney. The gaming exec was clearly impressed by the technology’s future for both developement and consumer augmented reality.
“I believe that AR is going to be the primary platform of the future for both work and entertainment,” he told the crowd at the event.
The Fortnite creator is kicking things off on the development side, announcing that Unreal Engine 4 support will be coming to the headset. The move is part of a larger strategy for Microsoft to open the system up, as it looks to grow its key foray into the world of mixed reality.
For Epic, meanwhile, it’s part of a larger embrace of both Microsoft’s solution and all things AR. Sweeney noted that the company is not ready to announce any kind of consumer-facing AR offering, that they’re certainly on the way, and the company “will support HoloLens in all of our endeavors.”
Responding to criticism from his recent trip to Myanmar, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he’s keen to learn about the country’s racial tension and human rights atrocities, but it has emerged that both he and Twitter’s public policy team ignored an opportunity to connect with a key civic group in the country.
A loose group of six companies in Myanmar has engaged with Facebook in a bid to help improve the situation around usage of its services in the country — often with frustrating results — and key members of that alliance, including Omidyar-backed accelerator firm Phandeeyar, contacted Dorsey via Twitter DM and emailed the company’s public policy contacts when they learned that the CEO was visiting Myanmar.
The plan was to arrange a forum to discuss the social media concerns in Myanmar to help Dorsey gain an understanding of life on the ground in one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets.
“The Myanmar tech community was all excited, and wondering where he was going,” Jes Kaliebe Petersen, the Phandeeyar CEO, told TechCrunch in an interview. “We wondered: ‘Can we get him in a room, maybe at a public event, and talk about technology in Myanmar or social media, whatever he is happy with?'”
The DMs went unread. In a response to the email, a Twitter staff member told the group that Dorsey was visiting the country strictly on personal time with no plans for business. The Myanmar-based group responded with an offer to set up a remote, phone-based briefing for Twitter’s public policy team with the ultimate goal of getting information to Dorsey and key executives, but that email went unanswered.
When we contacted Twitter, a spokesperson initially pointed us to a tweet from Dorsey in which he said: “I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip.”
We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region. I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip. We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve.
— jack (@jack) December 11, 2018
However, within two hours of our inquiry, a member of Twitter’s team responded to the group’s email in an effort to restart the conversation and set up a phone meeting in January.
“We’ve been in discussions with the group prior to your outreach,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch in a subsequent email exchange.
That statement is incorrect.
Still, on the bright side, it appears that the group may get an opportunity to brief Twitter on its concerns on social media usage in the country after all.
The micro-blogging service isn’t as well-used in Myanmar as Facebook, which has some 20 million monthly users and is practically the de facto internet, but there have been concerns in Myanmar. For one thing, there has been the development of a somewhat sinister bot army in Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia, while it remains a key platform for influencers and thought-leaders.
“[Dorsey is] the head of a social media company and, given the massive issues here in Myanmar, I think it’s irresponsible of him to not address that,” Petersen told TechCrunch.
“Twitter isn’t as widely used as Facebook but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have concerns happening with it,” he added. “As we’d tell Facebook or any large tech company with a prominent presence in Myanmar, it’s important to spend time on the ground like they’d do in any other market where they have a substantial presence.”
The UN has concluded that Facebook plays a “determining” role in accelerating ethnic violence in Myanmar. While Facebook has tried to address the issues, it hasn’t committed to opening an office in the country and it released a key report on the situation on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections, a strategy that appeared designed to deflect attention from the findings. All of which suggests that it isn’t really serious about Myanmar.
Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have already held their big fall events — and now it’s Google’s turn. Over the past couple of years, the October event has become an increasingly important platform, as the company continues to press into various hardware categories. And really, it’s Google’s last chance to make a big splash ahead of the holidays.
The Pixel 3 will no doubt be the centerpiece of the show. Google’s made no bones about that fact — and between officially sanctioned previews and Niagara Falls-sized leaks, it seems clear we’ve seen what the phone has to offer. Of course, these days, the event is about much more than the Pixel. This time last year, the company rolled out a bunch of additions to its Home line of smart speakers, including the Home Mini and Max. I’d anticipate seeing a fair amount of news on that front, as well this time out.
The event kicks off October 9 in New York City. We’ll be there, of course. In the meantime, here’s what we think we’ll see, starting with the most obvious.
Hopefully there will be some surprises on the phone front, but I wouldn’t count on it. We’ve already seen both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL from every conceivable angle, both in still images and video. In fact, Google’s given Samsung a run for its money on the leak front, this time out.
The Pixel 3 XL will embrace Android’s notch love with one of the largest cutouts we’ve seen to date. The Pixel 3, on the other hand, may skip the notch altogether. A new color is apparently in the works, as well — Aqua, to match the recently announced Google Home Minty.
The phones are said to be sticking with a single rear-facing camera configuration, which has served the line well in the past, but some new AR tricks are apparently in the works, to help show off ARCore’s latest additions. The squeeze interface introduced by HTC has also been confirmed via a truly adorable official video from Google Japan. A pair of wired, Pixel Bud-esque headphones are expected be in the box, as well.The new phone should also be getting its very own charging stand — similar to one recently rolled out by Samsung (or, for that matter, AirPower). The stand, interestingly, is designed to essentially turn the Pixel into a makeshift smart display — similar to what Amazon’s done with its Fire tablets via Show Mode.
On that note, Google appears ready to put more skin in the smart display game, after partnering with a number of third parties earlier this year. The Home Hub has already shown its face in a couple of leaks and FCC approvals, with Google finally taking on the Echo Show head on. We know that the Home Mini likely won’t be getting a full refresh, given the recent color addition, but the first-gen Home does seem overdue to get a facelift that will hopefully make it look less like a Glade air freshener.
Like the Hub, a new Chromecast has also made the FCC rounds, though information on new features seems scarce. Given the lukewarm reception of the original Pixel Buds, hopefully we’ll see an update on that front. A new Pixelbook seems entirely plausible as well, along with the rumored addition of a convertible Pixel Slate tablet, adding another premium device to its Chrome OS offerings.
Google today announced an update to its Cloud Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech APIs that introduces a few new features that should be especially interesting to enterprise users, as well as improved language support and a price cut.
Most of these updates focus on the Speech-to-Text product, but Cloud Text-to-Speech is getting a major update with 31 new WaveNet and 24 new standard voices. The service now also supports seven new languages: Danish, Portuguese/Portugal, Russian, Polish, Slovakian, Ukrainian and Norwegian Bokmål. These are all in beta right now and extend the list of supported languages to 21 total.
The service now also features the ability to optimize audio playback for specific devices. That sounds like a minor thing, but it allows you to optimize a call center application for interactive voice responses and another application for use with a headset.
As for Cloud Speech-to-Text, this update focuses on making the service more usable in situations where developers have to support users on multiple channels — think a phone conference. For this, the company introduced multi-channel recognition as a beta last year; now, this feature is generally available.
Similarly, Google’s premium AI models for video and enhanced phones launched into beta last year with the promise of fewer transcription errors than Google’s other model, which mostly focuses on short queries and voice commands. This model, too, is now generally available.
In addition to the new features, Google also decided to cut the price for using the Speech-to-Text service. The company decided to cut by 33 percent the prices of the standard and premium video model for transcribing videos for those who opt-in to Google’s data-logging program. By opting in, you allow Google to use your data to help train Google’s models. The company promises that only a limited number of employees will have access to the data and that it will solely use it to train and improve its products, but chances are not everybody is going to feel comfortable opting in to this, even if it means there’s a discount.
Thankfully, the regular premium video model is now also 25 percent cheaper without having to log in to Google’s data logging. Like before, the first 60 minutes are still free.
After finally settling on a new apartment, packing your last box and rushing out to pick up your moving van for the measly three hours you could book it — have you ever taken a moment to think, “Wow, this is so easy?”
Nope, and neither has anybody else. But Shyft, a logistics platform company based in San Francisco, is hoping to change that.
Originally named Crater, the company announced today a re-brand of its name and mission to focus on helping improve the corporate relocation process for millions of movers per year. The company is bringing with it three years of experience developing software and technology to help moving companies provide better estimates and service to customers.
“We spend hours thinking about these global citizens who are moving everyday and literally shifting their lives,” Shyft CMO Rajiv Parikh told TechCrunch. “They’re moving to new communities, they’re finding new schools, they’re finding new opportunities. It’s a monumental and pivotal moment in someone’s life.”
The process works two-fold. First, Shyft is continuing its partnerships with moving companies and selling its software to them in order to help update their portals and make the process as seamless as possible for their existing customers. As part of these partnerships, Shyft is able to create a reliable network of moving companies and services that it can utilize in the second part of its service — connecting with corporate Fortune 500 companies to help their transferees easily and intuitively complete their moving process.
Through the platform, employees planning a move can fill out information like how many boxes they’re moving, what their housing needs will be and even what kind of food they like and dietary restrictions they have. With this data, Shyft will help direct them to the services they need and work to help them best integrate into their new communities.
Shyft works with corporate companies’ lump-sum funds to help employees find the best price possible for their move. And transferees can use the services for free (or be reimbursed the difference).
“A traditional moving company is focused on moving — dollars and cents — [and] they want the largest and the biggest moves out there,” Shyft CEO Alex Alpert told TechCrunch. “From our perspective, we’re agnostic to that. If it’s in someone’s best interest to sell their sofa and buy a new one, we want to help facilitate that.”
In a recent collaboration with eBay, the company says it has seen large increases in the number of employees using its portal instead of trying to figure out logistics on their own.
“We have monitored the use of Shyft in our lump sum program and have seen a marked increase in the willingness of employees to engage with Shyft to identify the best solution to their moving needs,” eBay Director of HR Global Mobility Eric Halverson said in a statement. “Shyft is helping our employees optimize their lump sum allowance with a variety of moving solutions geared to their personal needs and circumstances.”
Alpert says that Shyft is now focusing on growing and refining its service, and this summer was accepted to join Moderne Venture’s summer Passport Program. The seven-month industry immersion program is designed to help companies refine their go-to-market strategies and network with others working in the real estate, finance, insurance and home-services spaces.
Excited to announce that this year’s The Europas Unconference & Awards is shaping up! Our half day Unconference kicks off on 3 July, 2018 at The Brewery in the heart of London’s “Tech City” area, followed by our startup awards dinner and fantastic party and celebration of European startups!
The event is run in partnership with TechCrunch, the official media partner. Attendees, nominees and winners will get deep discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers.
What exactly is an Unconference? We’re dispensing with the lectures and going straight to the deep-dives, where you’ll get a front row seat with Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders to discuss and debate the most urgent issues, challenges and opportunities. Up close and personal! And, crucially, a few feet away from handing over a business card. The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.
We’ve confirmed 10 new speakers including:
Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital
Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp
Richard Muirhead, Fabric Ventures
Sitar Teli, Connect Ventures
Nancy Fechnay, Blockchain Technologist + Angel
George McDonaugh, KR1
Candice Lo, Blossom Capital
Scott Sage, Crane Venture Partners
Andrei Brasoveanu, Accel
Tina Baker, Jag Shaw Baker
How To Get Your Ticket For FREE
We’d love for you to ask your friends to join us at The Europas – and we’ve got a special way to thank you for sharing.
Your friend will enjoy a 15% discount off the price of their ticket with your code, and you’ll get 15% off the price of YOUR ticket.
That’s right, we will refund you 15% off the cost of your ticket automatically when your friend purchases a Europas ticket.
So you can grab tickets here.
Vote for your Favourite Startups
Public Voting is still humming along. Please remember to vote for your favourite startups!
Awards by category:
Hottest Media/Entertainment Startup
Hottest E-commerce/Retail Startup
Hottest Education Startup
Hottest Startup Accelerator
Hottest Marketing/AdTech Startup
Hottest Games Startup
Hottest Mobile Startup
Hottest FinTech Startup
Hottest Enterprise, SaaS or B2B Startup
Hottest Hardware Startup
Hottest Platform Economy / Marketplace
Hottest Health Startup
Hottest Cyber Security Startup
Hottest Travel Startup
Hottest Internet of Things Startup
Hottest Technology Innovation
Hottest FashionTech Startup
Hottest Tech For Good
Hottest A.I. Startup
Fastest Rising Startup Of The Year
Hottest GreenTech Startup of The Year
Hottest Startup Founders
Hottest CEO of the Year
Best Angel/Seed Investor of the Year
Hottest VC Investor of the Year
Hottest Blockchain/Crypto Startup Founder(s)
Hottest Blockchain Protocol Project
Hottest Blockchain DApp
Hottest Corporate Blockchain Project
Hottest Blockchain Investor
Hottest Blockchain ICO (Europe)
Hottest Financial Crypto Project
Hottest Blockchain for Good Project
Hottest Blockchain Identity Project
Hall Of Fame Award – Awarded to a long-term player in Europe
The Europas Grand Prix Award (to be decided from winners)
The Awards celebrates the most forward thinking and innovative tech & blockchain startups across over some 30+ categories.
Startups can apply for an award or be nominated by anyone, including our judges. It is free to enter or be nominated.
What is The Europas?
Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with 1,000 of the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.
• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the Speakers
• Key Founders and investors speaking; featured attendees invited to just network
• Expert speeches, discussions, and Q&A directly from the main stage
• Intimate “breakout” sessions with key players on vertical topics
• The opportunity to meet almost everyone in those small groups, super-charging your networking
• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters
• A parallel Founders-only track geared towards fund-raising and hyper-networking
• A stunning awards dinner and party which honors both the hottest startups and the leading lights in the European startup scene
• All on one day to maximise your time in London. And it’s PROBABLY sunny!
That’s just the beginning. There’s more to come…
Interested in sponsoring the Europas or hosting a table at the awards? Or purchasing a table for 10 or 12 guest or a half table for 5 guests? Get in touch with:Petra JohanssonPetra@theeuropas.comPhone: +44 (0) 20 3239 9325
Sameer Qureshi has left his role as a senior manager of Tesla Autopilot Programs and has joined Lyft, according to his LinkedIn. We first saw the news over on Electrek. Tesla declined to comment, but Lyft confirmed Qureshi joined the team this week.
At Lyft, Qureshi is now director of product for autonomous driving, specifically focused on Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving car efforts. To be clear, Level 5 is when a car requires no human to be at the wheel. In fact, Level 5 prohibits humans from intervening, even if they want to.
At Tesla, Qureshi was “responsible for the entire Autopilot software stack across all of Tesla’s cars and platforms” for more than one year, he wrote on his LinkedIn. To be clear, Qureshi was not an executive, VP or director, but one of 4,000 managers at Tesla. Prior to his most recent role at Tesla, Qureshi served as senior manager for software and firmware programs at Tesla for more than two years.
Lyft first launched its self-driving car division in July 2017. Since then, Lyft has partnered with tier-one automotive industry supplier Magna on autonomous vehicle technology. Magna also invested $200 million in Lyft in exchange for an equity stake.
Early last year, LinkedIn co-founder and prolific venture capital investor Reid Hoffman called Chris Urmson “the Henry Ford of autonomous vehicles (AV).” The vote of confidence and big check from Hoffman, coupled with a team of deeply knowledgable AV entrepreneurs, has catapulted his company, Aurora Innovation, squarely into “unicorn” territory.
Aurora, the developer of a full-stack self-driving software system for automobile manufacturers, is raising at least $500 million in equity funding at more than a $2 billion valuation in a round expected to be led by new investor Sequoia Capital, according to a Recode report. A $500 million financing would bring Aurora’s total raised to date to $596 million and would provide a 4x increase to its most recent valuation.
The company, founded in 2016, raised a $90 million Series A last February from Hoffman’s Greylock Partners and Index Ventures . Hoffman and Index general partner Mike Volpi joined Aurora’s board as part of the deal. Greylock and Index are Aurora’s only existing investors, per PitchBook data. The young business has a lean cap table often characteristic of startup’s led by experienced entrepreneurs able to secure financing deals briskly from top VCs.
Aurora’s C-suite is chock-full of veteran AV workers. Urmson, for his part, formerly headed up the self-driving vehicles program at Google, now known as Waymo. Chief technology officer Drew Bagnell was head of perception and autonomy at Uber and Sterling Anderson, Aurora’s chief product officer, directed the autopilot program at Tesla from 2015 to 2016.
“Between these three co-founders, they have been thinking and working collectively in robotics, automation automotive products for over 40 years,” Hoffman wrote in a blog post announcing Aurora’s Series A funding.
In addition to the high-caliber of the founding team, Aurora’s collaborative approach to building self-driving cars has attracted investors, too. The company has partnered with a number of automotive retailers to integrate its technology into their vehicles and make self-driving cars a “practical reality.” Currently, Aurora counts Volkswagen, Hyundai and Chinese manufacturer Byton as partners.
2018 was a banner year for VC investment in U.S. autonomous vehicle startups. In total, investors poured $1.6 billion across 58 deals, nearly doubling 2017’s high of $893 million. Around the world, AV startups secured $3.41 billion, on par with the $3.48 billion invested in 2017, per PitchBook.
Though we are just days into 2019, LiDAR technology developer AEye has completed a previously announced $40 million Series B. The Pleasanton, Calif.-headquartered company raised the funds from Taiwania Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, Airbus Ventures and Tychee Partners. And last week, Sydney-based Baraja, another LiDAR startup, brought in a $32 million Series A from Sequoia China, Main Sequence Ventures’ CSIRO Innovation Fund and Blackbird Ventures.
Lidar startup AEye raises $40M Series B led by the Taiwanese government’s investment firm