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Nvidia’s T4 GPUs are now available in beta on Google Cloud

Google Cloud today announced that Nvidia’s Turing-based Tesla T4 data center GPUs are now available in beta in its data centers in Brazil, India, Netherlands, Singapore, Tokyo and the United States. Google first announced a private test of these cards in November, but that was a very limited alpha test. All developers can now take these new T4 GPUs for a spin through Google’s Compute Engine service.
The T4, which essentially uses the same processor architecture as Nvidia’s RTX cards for consumers, slots in-between the existing Nvidia V100 and P4 GPUs on the Google Cloud Platform . While the V100 is optimized for machine learning, though, the T4 (as its P4 predecessor) is more of a general-purpose GPU that also turns out to be great for training models and inferencing.
In terms of machine and deep learning performance, the 16GB T4 is significantly slower than the V100, though if you are mostly running inference on the cards, you may actually see a speed boost. Unsurprisingly, using the T4 is also cheaper than the V100, starting at $0.95 per hour compared to $2.48 per hour for the V100, with another discount for using preemptible VMs and Google’s usual sustained use discounts.

Google says that the card’s 16GB memory should easily handle large machine learning models and the ability to run multiple smaller models at the same time. The standard PCI Express 3.0 card also comes with support for Nvidia’s Tensor Cores to accelerate deep learning and Nvidia’s new RTX ray-tracing cores. Performance tops out at 260 TOPS and developers can connect up to four T4 GPUs to a virtual machine.
It’s worth stressing that this is also the first GPU in the Google Cloud lineup that supports Nvidia’s ray-tracing technology. There isn’t a lot of software on the market yet that actually makes use of this technique, which allows you to render more lifelike images in real time, but if you need a virtual workstation with a powerful next-generation graphics card, that’s now an option.
With today’s beta launch of the T4, Google Cloud now offers quite a variety of Nvidia GPUs, including the K80, P4, P100 and V100, all at different price points and with different performance characteristics.

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Tinder is testing the ability to share Spotify music clips in chat

Tinder has already developed a fairly robust chat platform within its dating app, with support for sharing things like Bitmoji and GIFs, and the ability to “like” messages by tapping a heart icon. Now, the company is testing a new integration — sharing music via Spotify. Tinder confirmed with TechCrunch it’s trying out a new way to connect users, by allowing them to share music within their chats.
The test is currently taking place across global markets, and Spotify is the only music service involved.
The new feature was first spotted by the blog MSPoweruser, which speculated the addition could be an experiment on Tinder’s part, ahead of a public launch. That does seem to be the case, as it turns out.
According to screenshots the site posted, a green music icon has been swapped in for the Bitmoji icon. Clicking this allows you to enter a query into a search box and see matching results displayed above. You’re not able to share the full song, however — only a 30-second clip.

Above: Tinder music test with Spotify; credits: MSPoweruser
Tinder, like its rival Bumble, has offered integration with Spotify’s streaming music service since 2016.
Both apps allow users to connect their Spotify accounts in order to showcase their top artists on their profile. As Tinder explained at the time of launch, music can be a powerful signal in terms of attraction, and plays an important role in terms of getting to know a new connection, as well.
The company even launched its own profile on Spotify, with playlists focused on dating, love and romance as a part of its collaboration with the music service.

The Spotify integration has paid off for Tinder in terms of user engagement within its app, the company tells us.
“Users love connecting over shared tastes in music,” a Tinder spokesperson explained. “In fact, users who update their ‘Anthem’ are most likely to start a conversation via Feed. With this in mind, we’re testing the ability to share music with a match while chatting on Tinder,” they added.
The “Anthem” is a feature that lets you pick a favorite song or one that’s representative of your tastes or personality. This is then highlighted in a special section on your Tinder profile.
Tinder did not offer any details as to when it expects the test to wrap or when it would launch music sharing more broadly.

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Anchor says it’s ‘powering’ 40 percent of new podcasts

Podcasting’s greatest asset has always been its accessibility — for consumer and creator alike. But even the simplest medium requires a little know-how, and Anchor’s overarching goal has long been to further lower the barrier of entry for those looking to take the leap.
It’s not perfect, and it’s not for everyone, but the service has done a pretty decent job leveling the playing field for many users. In fact, if Anchor’s self-reported numbers are to be believed, it’s been a major driving force for new podcasts.
The company tells TechCrunch it believes it’s currently “powering” 40 percent of new podcasts. That’s up from the around 33 percent it reported over the summer. The service also believes that it’s effectively doubled the number of podcasts running ads since launching its new monetization platform back in November.
The service isn’t disclosing specific numbers here, but says those estimates come through Magellan, a podcasting analytic service that works with some big names like WNYC and Gimlet. In November (just ahead of Anchor’s ad platform launch), the service reported that in the neighborhood of 7,000 podcasts were running ads.
The number seems low, but Magellan notes that expectations have been altered by uneven ad distribution. If you listen exclusively to popular podcasts, that number probably seems a lot closer to 100.
It ought to be noted that podcast analytics are far from an exact science. It’s a very fractured landscape, and while services like iTunes and Spotify are doing a better job serving up information to show hosts, aggregating data is still imperfect.
“In total, we estimate that 6,954 podcasts have ads,” Magellan notes. “Since we were only sampling podcasts, we could still be wrong — but we can say that with 90 percent confidence that between 5,914 and 7,994 podcasts have ads.”
Magellan’s analytics suggested that around 1 percent of podcasts were actually running ads at the time. Anchor’s apparently effectively doubled that number, implying that it’s brought advertisements to somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 podcasts, excluding redundancies.
Anchor’s goal of making the medium more accessible to users also finds the company launching a second New York City studio this week. From the looks of it, the lab revolves around Rode’s terrific new podcasting mixing board.

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Byju’s buys Osmo for $120M to add blended learning to its $4B digital education business

Weeks after it raised a massive $540 million funding round, Indian education unicorn Byju’s is on the M&A path. The company announced today it has snapped up U.S.-based Osmo, a startup that develops apps for kids that use offline input, in a deal worth $120 million.
Osmo has raised more than $30 million from investors that include Mattel, Sesame Workshop, Upfront Ventures, K9 Ventures and Accel. They were offered a cash option but elected for an all-stock payout, Osmo CEO Pramod Sharma told TechCrunch in an interview. That, he added, is a “validation of the level of confidence” that they have in Osmo combining its resources with Byju’s, which is valued at nearly $4 billion from that recent funding round that featured Naspers, Tencent and others.
Founded by former Googlers Sharma and Jerome Scholler, the Osmo service was launched at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in 2013, when it was initially called Tangible Play. The company combines the benefits of digital and offline learning using a dozen or so apps that tie into customized hardware, that’s a base designed for iPads or Amazon Kindle Fire tables alongside a red reflector and game pieces — as pictured above.
The result is “blended learning” apps that integrate offline activities, varying from drawing to math, spelling and even making pizza, to help children aged between 5 and 12 learn. Currently, Sharma said, it is used in around 20,000 schools and it has reached around a million families, 90 percent of which are in the U.S.
That puts it squarely into the bracket of companies that Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran told TechCrunch his company was seeking to snap up using its newly acquired war chest.
In an interview announcing the fund last month, Raveendran said he wanted “product-based acquisitions that will be value-adds on top of our core product.”
Byju Raveendran founded Byju’s as an offline learning center business in 2008; today it is worth nearly $4 billion thanks to a thriving digital education business with over a million paying customers. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
In that respect, Osmo is an ideal complement to Byju’s existing business, which covers educational courses for grades 4-12 using a combination of videos, games and other materials and counts. It currently counts 30 million registered students to date and 1.3 million paying users, with a specific focus on India. But, with its new funding in the bank, it is preparing a new service that will offer a number of courses in English for children aged 3-8 based across the world.
Raveendran and Sharma said the immediate plan post-acquisition will see a huge increase in content for the Osmo platform, while the price of the hardware — which currently ranges from $99-$189 — may also be reduced to help grow the audience beyond its current base.
“For us to grow, we need to invest in content,” Sharma said. “We have a lot of ideas [and] have proven a set of interactions, [but] a lot can be expanded with more content and levels. We’ve proven this is a compelling platform for learning, and we are nowhere close to scaling it… our goal is to get it to every child.”
Osmo offers three different packages to customers wishing to buy its equipment for children.
Echoing those comments, Raveendran said Osmo can “reach its maximum potential” with more content, while he stressed that there is plenty of cross-pollination potential between the two companies.
“We’re asking: ‘How can we bring some of the offline learning kids do, is there a way to capture that back onto the app and personalize the learning experiences further?'” he said. “There’s overlap between Osmo users and the products we are building [so] how we can use that for multiple education use scenarios, even possibility for higher grades?”
Ten-year-old Byju’s started out in offline learning before moving into digital courses in 2015. Its push online has seen it do a number of deals; Osmo represents its fourth acquisition. But beyond being its most expensive, Raveendran hailed the acquisition as his company’s “most important” deal to date.
“We have video as a format, games as a format, and we think of Osmo like a format… we could have thousands of supported apps,” he told TechCrunch by phone. “Education is not purely an online experience, especially for younger kids [so] the potential is huge if there’s a clear online-to-offline application.”

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Niantic finalizes its Series C at $245M with a valuation of nearly $4B

We’ve known since around December that Niantic (the company behind Pokémon GO and the soon to be released Harry Potter Wizards Unite) was in the middle of raising a ton of money for its Series C round. At the time, it looked like it’d come in around $200 million.
The company has just officially announced the round, disclosing the final amount: $245 million.
Niantic says that the round was led by IVP, and backed by aXiomatic Gaming, Battery Ventures, Causeway Media Partners, CRV and Samsung Ventures. They also confirmed that the company’s current valuation is “nearly” $4 billion, as rumored when word of the round was first floating around.
This raise comes just as Niantic is plotting its next steps, post overwhelming Pokémon success. It’s just about to launch another game based on massively nostalgic IP with Wizards Unite, all while working on slowly opening up its armory of AR frameworks (and its massive database of locational points of interest) for third-party developers to build upon.

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Get a TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics + AI demo table while you can

Innovation’s leading-edge lives at the intersection of robotics and AI. What could possibly be more exciting than attending TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics + AI on April 18 — where you’ll spend a full day immersed in these world-changing technologies?
Well, you could showcase your early-stage startup to nearly 1,000 of the best minds in robotics and AI. Yeah, that’s pretty awesome, too. All you need to do is buy a demo table before they sell out, so don’t delay. Oh, and the $1,500 price tag also includes three attendee tickets, so you can bring your tribe.
We’re not hyperbolizing about the titanic talent at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI. Speakers at our previous events at Berkeley and MIT have included technologists, founders and investors, including the likes of Ayanna Howard (Georgia Tech), Rob Coneybeer (Shasta Ventures), Helen Greiner (CyPhyWorks), Tye Brady (Amazon Robotics), Ken Goldberg (UC Berkeley) and so many others.
These are just some of the doers, movers and shakers that can make an early-stage startup founder’s dream come true. This event provides an exceptional opportunity to demo your product in front of a very smart, very large and very targeted audience. This year’s lineup (a work in progress) will not disappoint.
Here’s what else you can expect at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI. TechCrunch editors will host a full day of interviews and demos (like this one) on the main stage. And we’ll have workshops and other demos running in parallel. Want to know more? Check out the full coverage from last year. And, as always, there will be plenty of opportunity for world-class networking.
Here are essential housekeeping details you need to know. TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics + AI takes place at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on April 18, 2019. Right now, early-bird tickets cost $249, and if you’re a student, you get in for $45.
Don’t miss a spectacular day-long event focused exclusively on robotics and AI. Come learn, teach, demo and network. And buy your tickets and a demo table now before it’s too late. We can’t wait to see you there!

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Infor lands $1.5 billion investment ahead of IPO

Infor, a NYC-based enterprise software company, announced a massive $1.5 billion investment today that could be the precursor to an IPO in the next 12-24 months. One analyst is estimating that the valuation could be at least $60 billion.
The investment is being led by Koch Industries’ investment arm, Koch Equity Development, and Golden Gate Capital. Today’s investment comes on top of a $2 billion+ cash infusion from Koch in 2017, bringing the total raised to at least more than $3.5 billion along with a hefty $6.1 billion in debt. That’s a lot of cash.
In fact, the company plans to use a large portion of today’s investment to pay down part of that debt, including $500 million in senior secured notes due in 2020, which it plans to pay off next month, and $750 million in HoldCo senior contingent cash pay notes due in 2021, which it plans to pay off in May. The thinking is that the company wants to reduce its debt load ahead of its IPO.
“We expect this paydown, in combination with cash flows and estimated IPO proceeds, will provide Infor with leverage levels consistent with other successful IPOs over the past few years,” Infor CFO Kevin Samuelson explained during an investor call today.
The company wouldn’t rule out additional investments before going public, but it was looking firmly toward an IPO. “We’ve spoken for some time about the many advantages that we believe Infor will receive if the company goes public, including improved brand recognition, a broader employee equity program, additional currency for M&A and more financial clarity for our customers and prospects,” Samuelson said.
Infor may be the largest company you never heard of, with more than 17,000 employees and 68,000 customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. All of those customers generated $3 billion in revenue in 2018. That’s a significant presence.
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, told TechCrunch that based on that revenue, he believes the valuation could be in the neighborhood of $60 billion. He based that on $3 billion in revenue, while using Oracle and SAP as similar industry comparisons. These companies have a 20X price/earnings ratio. He adds, that would make it the largest tech IPO ever for a NYC tech company if that comes to pass. Infor would not confirm this number with a spokesperson telling TechCrunch, “We cannot comment on value at this time.”
What does this company do to achieve this size and scope? It’s not unlike many other large enterprise companies, says Wang. It produces cloud software solutions around typical enterprise needs such as CRM, ERP and supply chain asset management.
Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, says that Infor has grown rapidly through a series of acquisitions and an unusual approach to enterprise software. “What makes its approach to enterprise software unique is that rather than building software and then attempting to customize it for the unique [customer] needs, Infor takes an industry-based approach that incorporates both subtle and material capabilities to address specific industry needs that more generic ERP tools aren’t capable of out of the box,” Newman told TechCrunch.
He adds that this difference is attractive to many companies seeking ERP and enterprise asset management tools that are built with their business in mind, rather than completely customizing a software designed for any business in any industry.
As it turns out, Koch isn’t just an investor, it’s an Infor customer. “Koch was a customer of Infor before we became an investor in the company, and Koch Industries’ companies continue to move their most mission critical applications to Infor CloudSuites,” Jim Hannan, executive vice president and CEO for Enterprises at Koch Industries said in a statement.
The company, which was founded way back in 2002, has been shifting to the cloud over the last five years. It reports that more than 70 percent of its revenue is now derived from cloud products, fueled in part by an aggressive acquisition strategy.

Special Report: New York’s enterprise infrastructure ecosystem

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Infor lands $1.5 billion investment ahead of possible IPO

Infor, a NYC-based enterprise software company, announced a massive $1.5 billion investment today that could be the precursor to an IPO down the road. One analyst is estimating that the valuation could be at least $60 billion.
The investment is being led by Koch Industries’ investment arm, Koch Equity Development, and Golden Gate Capital. Today’s investment comes on top of a $2 billion+ cash infusion from Koch in 2017, bringing the total raised to at least more than $3.5 billion. That’s a lot of cash.
Infor may be the largest company you never heard of with over 17,000 employees and over 9500 customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. All of those customers generated $3 billion in revenue in 2018. That’s a significant presence.
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, told TechCrunch that based on that revenue, he believes the valuation could be in the neighborhood of $60 billion. He based that on $3 billion in revenue, while using Oracle and SAP as similar industry comparisons. These companies have 20X price/earnings ratio. He adds, that would make it the largest tech IPO ever for NYC tech company if that comes to pass. Infor would not confirm this number with a spokesperson telling TechCrunch, “We cannot comment on value at this time.”
What does this company do to achieve this size and scope? It’s not unlike many other large enterprise companies, says Wang. It produces cloud software solutions around typical enterprise needs such CRM, ERP and Supply Chain Asset Management.
Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research says that Infor, has grown rapidly through a series of acquisitions and an unusual approach to enterprise software. “What makes its approach to enterprise software unique is that rather than building software and then attempting to customize it for the unique [customer] needs, Infor takes an industry-based approach that incorporates both subtle and material capabilities to address specific industry needs that more generic ERP tools aren’t capable of out of the box,” Newman told TechCrunch.
He adds that this difference is attractive to many companies seeking ERP and Enterprise Asset Management tools that are built with their business in mind rather than completely customizing a software designed for any business in any industry.
As it turns out, Koch isn’t just an investor, it’s an Infor customer. “Koch was a customer of Infor before we became an investor in the company, and Koch Industries’ companies continue to move their most mission critical applications to Infor CloudSuites,” Jim Hannan, Executive Vice President and CEO for Enterprises at Koch Industries said in a statement.
The company, which was founded way back in 2002, has been shifting to the cloud over the last five years. It reports that over 70 percent of its revenue is now derived from cloud products, fueled in part by an aggressive acquisition strategy.
Note: There is an investor call shortly. We will update the story with any pertinent information after the call.

Special Report: New York’s enterprise infrastructure ecosystem

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China accounted for nearly half of app downloads in 2018, 40% of consumer spend

Global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018, up 35 percent from 2016, according to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile 2019” report released today. Consumer spending across app stores was up 75 percent to reach $101 billion. The report, which analyzes trends across iOS, Android and the third-party Android stores in China combined, follows the company’s earlier report released at year-end, which looked at downloads and spending across just iOS and Google Play.
It also shows how significant China’s role has become in terms of the global app market.
Based on data from the beginning of the year through December 15, 2018, App Annie’s earlier year-end report estimated that global app downloads in 2018 would surpass 113 billion, across iOS and Google Play, and consumer spending would surpass $76 billion.
While the addition of the third-party Android app stores boosted these numbers in the new report, China’s contribution to the app market goes far beyond just the bump those stores provided.

According to the “State of Mobile” report, China accounted for nearly 50 percent of total downloads in 2018 across iOS and the third-party stores, despite the slowdown related to a nine-month game license freeze in the country. China also accounted for nearly 40 percent of consumer spending in 2018.
Emerging markets played a role in fueling downloads, as well, accounting for three out of the top five markets for downloads (India, Brazil and Indonesia). Download growth in the U.S., meanwhile, has slowed.
Developing markets played little role in consumer spend, however. Instead, the countries contributing the most on that front were (in order): China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the U.K.

However, despite China’s outsized contributions to both downloads and spending, Chinese users don’t have the most apps installed on their phone compared with other countries. Because of the prevalence of low-cost Android devices with limited storage, users in China have just over 50 apps installed, on average. But those in the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Australia, have more than 100.

China’s influence on the market can also be seen in the 2018 year-end report released by Sensor Tower today.
It found that Chinese mobile gaming giant Tencent was the global leader for overall revenue across iOS and Android, not counting the third-party Android app stores. It was also the leader in game revenue.

Tencent topped the non-game app chart for 2018, too, with its Tencent Video app clocking in at No. 3.
Other Chinese apps made the year-end charts, too, including online video platform iQIYI, which was the No. 4 non-game app in terms of overall revenue; and ByteDance’s TikTok, which was the No. 4 non-game for 2018. Other high-ranking apps included UC Browser, QQ, Youku and Tencent’s PUBG Mobile.
TikTok is still growing rapidly, too, having had its best quarter ever in Q4 2018, where it was the No. 3 app by downloads across both iOS and Google Play, and the most-downloaded app on iOS.

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EVs and online marketplaces thrive despite slump in Chinese car sales

China’s massive auto market hit the brakes last year as trade tensions and a softening economy dampened consumer confidence, but one segment soared on account of increasing internet penetration — used car sales.
New passenger car sales fell to 23.7 million last year, representing a 4.1 year-over-year drop according to a new report by China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the country’s top auto association. That marks the very first annual decline in the world’s biggest car market since the 1990s.
A few factors were at play. For one, the tit-for-tat U.S.-China trade war has led to a slew of tariffs on U.S. car imports and weighed on consumers. The standoff prompted Tesla to cut prices for Model 3 in China and Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily close a factory after sales plummeted in the country. Internally, China is coping with a cooling economy that has undermined consumer demand across a spectrum of sectors. Regulators have also rolled back a tax-cut scheme on smaller cars that began in 2017.
Despite the overall industry slowdown, electric and hybrid vehicles continued to enjoy a healthy growth rate at 61.7 percent to clock sales of 1.26 million new units. That comes as expected as China is aiming to cut carbon footprints and lead in the global alternative energy revolution by splurging on subsidies for both consumers and manufacturers. But stumbling blocks remain for the budding industry, such as a lack of charging stations. Beijing is also mulling subsidy cuts on EVs to temper overcapacity in the long term.

First buses, now Shenzhen has turned its taxis electric in green push

As consumers tighten their purse strings amid the economic downturn, cheaper secondhand cars become more appealing. China’s Automobile Dealers Association shows that secondhand car sales reached 12.6 million for the first 11 months of 2018, marking a 13 percent growth.
The sector is only half the size of new cars, but a string of e-commerce channels are fueling the industry in a country where in-person transactions were still the norm just a few years ago. For one thing, online marketplaces inject honesty to the car-buying process by claiming to provide more price transparency for customers. A major turning point came in 2017 when China lifted constraints on cross-provincial used car deals, which means customers in less developed regions — many of whom never owned a car before — now have access to a greater variety of models compared to what’s available in their hinterland homelands.
Some of the top players in the space include Didi Chuxing-backed Renrenche, Tencent-backed Guazi and Uxin, which floated on the Nasdaq last year and recently entered a strategic partnership with Alibaba. In 2017, e-commerce transactions accounted for 17.6 percent of overall car sales in the country, a study from Uxin’s research institute found.
“Over the past few years, consumers have become increasingly receptive to buying used cars as a cost-effective alternative to new vehicles. This is particularly the case for consumers in lower-tier cities,” said Kun Dai, founder and chief executive officer of Uxin . “With extremely limited used car selection in most cities, there is a rapidly growing demand for an online platform that expands access to used cars from across the country.”

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HyperScience, the machine learning startup tackling data entry, raises $30 million Series B

HyperScience, the machine learning company that turns human readable data into machine readable data, has today announced the close of a $30 million Series B funding round led by Stripes Group, with participation from existing investors FirstMark Capital and Felicis Ventures, as well as new investors Battery Ventures, Global Founders Capital, TD Ameritrade and QBE.
HyperScience launched out of stealth in 2016 with a suite of enterprise products focused on the healthcare, insurance, finance and government industries. The original products were HSForms (which handled data-entry by converting hand-written forms to digital), HSFreeForm (which did a similar function for hand-written emails or other non-form content) and HSEvaluate (which could parse through complex data on a form to help insurance companies approve or deny claims by pulling out all the relevant info).
Now, the company has combined all three of those products into a single product called HyperScience. The product is meant to help companies and organizations reduce their data-entry backlog and better serve their customers, saving money and resources.
The idea is that many of the forms we use in life or in the workplace are in an arbitrary format. My bank statements don’t look the same as your bank statements, and invoices from your company might look different than invoices from my company.
HyperScience is able to take those forms and pipe them into the system quickly and easily, without help from humans.
Instead of charging by seat, HyperScience charges by documents, as the mere use of HyperScience should mean that fewer humans are actually “using” the product.
The latest round brings HyperScience’s total funding to $50 million, and the company plans to use a good deal of that funding to grow the team.
“We have a product that works and a phenomenally good product market fit,” said CEO Peter Brodsky. “What will determine our success is our ability to build and scale the team.”

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Techstars will build and launch startups with new venture studio

Similar to Y Combinator, early-stage technology startup accelerator Techstars has spent much of the last decade supporting and seeding innovative projects, including Plated, ClassPass, SendGrid and PillPack. Now, it wants to take its service a step further.
Today, Techstars is announcing the launch of Techstars Studio, a new venture that will have the accelerator developing and launching venture-scale businesses with the support of several corporate partners. Leveraging its large network of entrepreneurs, Techstars has invited large companies to co-create startups targeting specific challenges within their industry. Techstars says it has signed on 25 corporate partners so far, each of which will pay an annual membership fee to access an early look at the Techstars Studio projects, as well as updates from the team, as concepts transition into prototypes then to full-fledged companies.
Techstars Studio plans to complete four full spin-outs per year and will identify talent from within its network to lead each venture. The companies will be seeded with a varying amount of capital depending on the business’s needs.

12 years in, Techstars doubles down on corporate relationships

The news is the latest in a series of developments from within Techstars that illustrate the accelerator’s bid to marry corporations and the startup ecosystem. On top of the startup studio, Techstars announced in September a Network Engagement Program, which offers concierge-style connections for corporations looking to build relationships with startups and a 54-hour Innovation Bootcamp, which teaches corporate employees “to rapidly identify and validate solutions for critical business problems.”
“We think of ourselves as the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed — this will help entrepreneurs in our world be successful,” Techstars co-founder and co-chief executive officer David Cohen told TechCrunch. “We have the history and the talent to do it but this is new for us, so we have to build that muscle.”
Cohen will lead the studio along with portfolio co-founder Isaac Saldana, who will serve as chief technology officer. Saldana co-founded Techstars-backed SendGrid, an email platform acquired by Twilio for $2 billion in October. Mike Rowan, SendGrid’s former vice president, and Sabrina Kelly, Techstars VP of talent, have also joined the new effort.
A slew of Techstars-backed founders have also signed on to advise the projects, including the founders of Remitly, Sphero and DataRobot.
Founded in 2006, Techstars now operates 44 programs in 14 countries with more than 1,600 companies in its portfolio.

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