DoorDash is about to make a huge move into grocery delivery, but instead of going all out as a delivery service on its own, it’s instead going to be working behind the scenes to power delivery networks for larger companies — with Walmart as its first big partner.
While Instacart looks to control the end-to-end customer experience for grocery delivery, and Amazon is off doing Amazon-y things with its Whole Foods delivery system, DoorDash is hoping it can build a network that any company that needs some delivery network can tap without giving up its direct relationship with their customers. DoorDash is rolling out grocery delivery with Walmart in Atlanta in the first of what may be a major move to become a back-end platform for companies like Walmart, which want a delivery button on their website but don’t want to build the entire network themselves. By doing that, it offers DoorDash a potentially nice neutral niche as grocery delivery heats up.
“You can use the term white label, but our drivers still will often wear the DoorDash shirt and have the DoorDash bag,” DoorDash COO Christopher Payne said. “But if you go to Walmart.com, and order from Walmart in Atlanta, you’ll have no idea it’s from DoorDash. We’re very supportive of that scenario, that’s the DoorDash Drive scenario. We’re excited to build a business with them and provide this capability.”
Payne said he hopes this will be one of the first of a major expansion of that DoorDash Drive initiative to become a tool that businesses can start tapping for local delivery. And while DoorDash may partly be giving up that direct relationship with users, it can start getting a lot more data when it comes to deliveries. That data then helps it become more and more efficient, ensuring that it can get deliveries done in the best matter and attract more customers, leading to the need for more drivers, and so on.
DoorDash also basically started the whole last-mile delivery business on hard mode with restaurant delivery, Payne said. What DoorDash loses in that direct user experience is paid back in data, Payne says, and that’s more than valuable enough. Walmart is also running a similar program with Postmates as it looks to get further into grocery delivery.
“It turns out restaurant delivery is probably one fo the hardest delivery use cases you have — you have to get a pizza somewhere in 20 or 30 minutes or it won’t be crisp, and you have to get an ice cream cone somewhere before it melts. Grocery delivery tends to be delivered earlier in the day, which is before dinner or before you go to work,” he said. “That works out perfectly for us, actually, because our drivers aren’t busy or are less busy than they would be otherwise. It’s a delivery window, as opposed to one that’s getting something to you at an exact moment and time. That’s actually much easier and less demanding than a real-time delivery.
It’s still a significant step beyond its core competency, which is restaurant delivery. But while that has the potential to be a big business, it’s also going to top out at some point. GrubHub, for example, has a market cap of nearly $9 billion — but Amazon, the backbone of how many consumers engage with physical goods through the Internet, is a $700 billion-plus company. If DoorDash is going to continue to grow, it has to start expanding into new lines of revenue, and figuring out how to take all the data and tools it’s built and bring them to new businesses is going to be critical.
Amazon changed the calculus of last-mile grocery delivery, and it pretty much did it overnight — or at least over the span of a few months, which is the equivalent of overnight for a $700 billion company. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, and all of its locations in major metropolitan areas, for $13.7 billion and very quickly began offering two-hour delivery for prime customers for Whole Foods. On top of that, the company quickly started offering a credit card with an absurdly good reward system that’s tied directly to Prime purchases and Whole Foods (assuming you stay within the Prime ecosystem).
That’s meant that larger companies find themselves trying to figure out how to make such an agile move, and do it as soon as possible. For Walmart, getting this partnership with DoorDash allows it to just add a small segment to its typical customer flow without having to build out a full-on logistics delivery system. The opportunity to expand that to other businesses is pretty natural, and that’s the theme behind the Drive platform, and in theory offers businesses a way to quickly ramp up a delivery network without having to hand off the customer relationship to DoorDash. That may, in the end, be much more palatable for businesses.
“One of the other advantages of partnering with a company like Walmart isn’t just that they’re a leading grocer in the US,” Payne said. “They’re in a lot of other lines of businesses. As they want to expand and deliver more to their customers, they have physical assets to do that, so it provides a nice solution for us to test other items in the future. I would say grocery delivery is very much in its early days, it’s roughly equivalent to where food delivery was four years ago. We’re all going to be learning together, and it also means there’s gonna be a lot of other competition as there is in food delivery. But we believe our merchant operational excellence and quality of delivery will set us apart, and that’ll be proven in time.”
Xiaomi and Ant Financial are two of a cluster of major tech names being linked with IPOs in Hong Kong. But, despite a burst of upcoming tech listings and new measures that are tipped to encourage more, the country still has some way to go to match the U.S. as a destination for startup exits, according to one of its star graduates.
Gaming hardware firm Razer raised over $500 million when it went public on the HKSE last November, but its CEO Min-Liang Tan has warned that the country’s investor base needs education on how tech companies perform and develop.
“[Going public] was an exciting time for us, but [now] our focus is getting the Hong Kong investment public to be more educated on tech companies,” Tan told TechCrunch in an interview this week. “The U.S. [public markets] are probably more cognizant of tech companies.”
Razer, which is backed by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Ching among other investors, saw an 18 percent pop on IPO day, but its share price has steadily decreased since then. It is trading up six percent today — after the company bought $100 million-valued payment provider MOL yesterday — but its price of HK$2.59 is down on its initial list price of HK$3.88.
The company isn’t alone.
China Literature, the e-publishing unit of Tencent, is another lauded IPO darling that has struggled to find its feet since going public.
Its listing was the most profitable Hong Kong debut in a decade with shares leaping 86 percent in value on the first day of trading as China Literature raised $1 billion. But today the price of HK$68.10 is down substantially on a debut figure of HK$102.5.
Going back further, shares of selfie app and smartphone-maker Meitu — which led the tech rally with an HKSE listing in late 2016 — have stayed flat.
The share price closed today at HK$8.48, down slightly on a HK$8.50 valuation at the close of trading on its December 15 2016 debut.
Those three stories should offer some caution to Ant Financial, the Alibaba fintech affiliate reported valued up to $150 billion by private investors, and Chinese smartphone star Xiaomi, which is reportedly close to listing in Hong Kong at a valuation that could reach $100 million.
We’ve written before that Hong Kong’s unique positioning bridging China and the international market gives it appeal as a crossway for Chinese brands to go international, and global firms to enter Mainland China. Added to that, there markets like India and Southeast Asia are incubating billion-dollar tech firms that will need destinations for exits perhaps beyond the scope of what the location options can offer. However, with facts like higher burn rates, iterative product development, large R&D budgets and varying business models, many tech companies don’t function like more traditional enterprises or industries.
Hong Kong is showing promise as a destination for tech IPOs
In Razer’s case, the company sells gaming laptops and accessories for gamers such as specialist mice, keyboards, headsets and gaming pads. It recently branched out into mobile with its first smartphone and Tan teased the potential for other new product launches this year.
The challenge of educating investors is acuter for Razer than most tech companies since the company focuses on emerging industries such as gaming and e-sports. Case in point, that space is so nascent and under-the-radar that Razer had to commission its own surveys and research from third-parties ahead of its IPO to get market and competition data for its prospectus.
Still, Tan said things are going well for the business.
“We out-performed our expectations quite a bit in 2017 and there’s a lot of excitement around gaming and e-sports,” he told TechCrunch.
“The phone has done very well for us,” he added. “With games like PUBG and Fortnite coming to mobile, it’s probably the best timing ever for us to be first movers in this space. Now with virtual credits [from the MOL acquisition], we see a way to help games companies in various areas… we’re building an entire ecosystem for our games partners.”
Tan declined to comment when asked if Razer would consider additional listings in other markets, although he said there’s “a lot of interest in the work we do.”
Cowboy, the startup that’s building a new, smarter electronic bicycle, quietly launched in its home country of Belgium this past week, whilst simultaneously disclosing it has raised $3 million in seed funding.
Notably, the round is led by Index Ventures. The London and San Francisco-based VC appears to be particularly bullish on electric-powered mobility, recently backing electric scooter startup Bird.
France’s Hardware Club, and Kima Ventures also participated in Cowboy’s seed round, along with individual investors Thibaud Elziere (eFounders), Bertrand Jelensperger (LaFourchette), Harold Mechelynck (Ogone), Frederic Potter (Netatmo) and Francis Nappez (BlaBlaCar).
Founded by Adrien Roose and Karim Slaoui, who both previously co-founded Take East Easy, an early Deliveroo competitor, and Tanguy Goretti, who was previously co-founder ride-sharing startup Djump, Cowboy has set out to build and sell a better designed e-bike that it claims addresses issues that have historically held back the category’s mass appeal. This includes a more elegant design than many existing models currently on the market, making the bike ‘smart’ by being connected to a mobile phone and ‘over the air’ through cellular and GPS networks, and better affordability than comparative offerings.
In a call last week, Roose gave me a brief run down of the Cowboy’s features and a little of the product’s back story, including how Index got interested. He says he first became aware of e-bikes (or “ped-elec” bikes that combine a manual pedal and electric motor) after being puzzled that they weren’t more widely used by Take Eat Easy’s bicycle couriers. Riders that did use an e-bike tended to be older, suggesting that current e-bikes didn’t appeal to a younger demographic.
After researching the market a lot deeper, Cowboy’s eventual founders also noticed that most e-bikes use entirely off the shelf components, which not only constrains differentiation, but also price, since most of the margin goes to parts suppliers and retailers. By designing a completely new e-bike, where the body and brain is bespoke — namely, the chassis/battery, and printed circuit board (PCB) — and where the product is sold direct online, the team believed there was an opportunity to re-define the e-bike category entirely.
The resulting Cowboy e-bike is pitched as a better ride, powered by “intuitive and automatic motor assistance”. This uses built-in sensor technology that measures speed and torque, and adjusts to pedalling style and force to deliver an added boost of motor-assisted speed at key moments e.g. when you start pedalling, when you accelerate, or go uphill.
In addition, the Cowboy it attempting to be more secure thanks to its connectivity. You unlock the bike via the Cowboy smart phone app, which also supports on-board navigation and a data dashboard that tracks speed and other useful stats.
It is also worth noting that this is definitely a vertical platform in the longer-run. That IoT-styled SIM card and GPS have been added to the e-bike for a reason. Initially it will be used for diagnostics and ‘find my bike’ in case of theft, but one can easily imagine other premium services being offered on top, such as bike insurance perhaps.
The battery is said to be good to go for around 50km, and takes 2.5 hours to fully charge. As part of the bespoke design, it is integrated into the frame under the saddle and is easily removable. The Cowboy claims to be one of the lightest urban electric bikes on the market, too (the bike and battery together weigh 16kg).
However, as with any product where it’s ultimately about the ride, you probably need to try a Cowboy before truly appreciating it — which, as a powered wheelchair user with limited muscle strength, I’m never going to be able to do. Instead, I’ll note that a pre-production model — which Roose admits still had many remaining issues to iron out — won the prestigious EuroBike trade fair in July 2017.
He also echoes this sentiment when I ask him to tell the story of how the Cowboy team first got the attention of Index Ventures. He says that the startup weren’t originally planning to raise a large seed round, having already got a commitment from Cowboy’s original backers for enough follow-on investment to do a production run and small launch in Belgium. However, knowing that hardware is, well, hard, and that costs can easily overshoot, the company was advised by Hardware Club (who he says has been instrumental in making Cowboy a reality) to find a larger VC backer to mitigate this risk. Index Partner Martin Mignot, who led the round, was immediately interested and then convinced after actually trying the e-bike, but Roose says that it took a lot more to persuade the rest of the Index team to back Cowboy when he subsequently pitched the startup over a video call.
Which brings us to Cowboy’s go-to-market strategy. If you really need to touch the device to truly appreciate it, how will the startup sell directly online? In Brussels, Roose says the startup is experimenting with recruiting product ambassadors — people who already have a Cowboy in their possession — who will be able to bring the device to a prospective buyer to try beforehand. This isn’t as scalable as a pure digital marketing effort, but is still likely a lot cheaper than selling to physical retailers, which in turn would push up the €1,790 price. Meanwhile, the company is only delivering to Belgium for now, but with capital in the bank it plans to launch more widely in Europe next year.
Last week, I was sitting in the office, waiting for an Amazon package to be delivered to my house. Typically, the driver would just leave the package at the door, where anybody could steal it. But this time around, the process was a bit different because the driver arrived, used his phone to unlock the car in my driveway, put the package into the trunk and then locked the car again. That’s thanks to the latest feature of Amazon Key — free in-car delivery for Prime members — which is launching today.
In-car delivery is an extension of the existing Amazon Key service, which allows you to give the delivery drivers access to your house with the help of a compatible keypad on your door and a smart security camera. It’s worth pointing out from the outset that Amazon’s delivery drivers won’t track you down wherever you are and deliver to your car. This is about delivering to your stationary car in your driveway or an office parking lot.
Indeed, the concept behind in-car delivery is very much the same as for the regular Amazon Key service. Just like you can give Amazon access to your house with the Key app, quite a few cars now allow you to open their doors with the help of an app, too. Because of this, support for in-car delivery is a bit limited right now. It’s currently only available for GM cars (2015 or newer Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs) with an active OnStar subscription and Volvos (also 2015 or newer) with an active Volvo On Call account. Amazon has worked with these partners to enable its drivers to unlock their cars — assuming, of course, that you allow them to do that.
As Amazon stresses throughout the process, you remain in full control. If you want to block access to your car at any time, you can do so through the app — and you can do so for a whole day, until a specific time or forever. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable letting a driver into my house. Giving them access to my car, which doesn’t have any valuables in it anyway, feels far less intrusive to me, though that’s obviously a very personal thing.
The on-boarding flow is pretty straightforward and the Amazon Key app walks you through the process step by step. To get started, you select your car’s make, model and color and then authorize Amazon’s access to your car by going through the same kind of process you’re probably familiar with from giving a third-party email client access to your inbox. Chances are, you’ve never done this before, so it feels a bit strange, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. After that, you can also select what the driver should do if you’re not home (reattempt delivery to your car tomorrow or deliver to your building, for example).
Now, when you order on Amazon, you’ll see the option for in-car delivery. Select that and the driver will know what to do. The only limitations here are that the package can’t weigh more than 50 pounds, can’t exceed 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size and the value can’t be more than $1,300. Unsurprisingly, if the items are fulfilled by a third-party seller or require a signature, in-car delivery won’t be available either. Your car has to be in a publicly accessible place, too. If it sits in a locked parking garage at work, the driver won’t be able to get to it.
In-car delivery is available for same-day, two-day and standard shipping.
You’ll get a four-hour delivery window on the delivery day; all you have to do is park your car within two blocks of the delivery address. And that’s what I think is the most useful aspect of this: You could easily add your office address as a delivery address, for example, and Amazon will deliver the package right to your car in the office parking lot. Since every compatible car has a GPS receiver, it’s easy enough for the driver to find. The Amazon Key app actually has a handy feature that tells you whether your car is within that two-block radius, too.
I’ve tested the service over the course of the last two weeks (thanks to Amazon partner GM, which delivered a massive Chevy Tahoe to my driveway for a short loan).
Here is what happens when you get an in-car delivery: About 20 minutes before the driver arrives, you’ll get a notification on your phone. To find it, my driver used the car’s panic feature to have its alarm go off, which surely made my neighbors perk up. He then walked up to the car, verified the license plate and proceeded to open the car from his phone. After putting the package in the trunk, he locked the car again (which didn’t quite work from his phone the first time around, so he had to head for the driver’s seat and lock it manually). The whole process took maybe a minute.
From the delivery driver’s perspective, the procedure is similarly straightforward. When an in-car delivery pops up as part of the delivery schedule, the Amazon app for drivers will locate the car and give the driver directions to it. Then the driver scans the package, swipes to unlock, waits for the car to open, drops off the package and swipes again to lock the car.
The app will keep you posted as the delivery happens and you can always check when the car was unlocked and locked again, too.
To me, this feels like a useful addition to the Amazon Key portfolio. While I’m sure others will disagree, giving the delivery driver access to my car doesn’t feel all that weird to me. I’m sure my neighbors were somewhat alarmed when the delivery driver opened my car, but I guess that’ll change as more people start using this service.
Alibaba is jumping behind the wheel after it announced that Daimler, Audi and Volvo will bring its voice assistant to their vehicles.
The assistant — Tmall Genie — is scheduled to go into cars “in the near future.” When it does, Alibaba said it will enable drivers to check fuel levels, mileage, battery levels and engine status use voice controls. Beyond diagnostics, it’ll also cover door windows, air conditioning and other settings.
Tmall Genie was launched last year when Alibaba unveiled a first smart speaker in the style of Amazon’s Echo products and Google Home, although the AI also connects to third-party hardware, too. The Chinese firm said it has sold over two million of its smart devices so far, and it is working on linking them with the car-based AI to allow users to check their vehicle from their home.
This week’s Genie auto launch is one of the first moves from Alibaba’s AI Lab institution, which was announced as part of a $15 billion push into artificial intelligence, machine learning, IOT, quantum computing and other emerging technologies last year.
Uber is planning to tweak the historical pick-up and drop-off logs that drivers can see in order to slightly obscure the exact location, rather than planting an exact pin in it (as now). The idea is to provide a modicum more privacy for users while still providing drivers with what look set to be remain highly detailed trip logs.
The company told Gizmodo it will initially pilot the change with drivers, but intends the privacy-focused feature to become the default setting “in the coming months”.
Earlier this month Uber also announced a complete redesign of the drivers’ app — making changes it said had been informed by “months” of driver conversations and feedback. It says the pilot of location obfuscation will begin once all drivers have the new app.
The ride-hailing giant appears to be trying to find a compromise between rider safety concerns — there have been reports of Uber drivers stalking riders, for example — and drivers wanting to have precise logs so they can challenge fare disputes.
“Location data is our most sensitive information, and we are doing everything we can do to protect privacy around it,” a spokesperson told us. “The new design provides enough information for drivers to identify past trips for customer support issues or earning disputes without granting them ongoing access to rider addresses.”
In the current version of the pilot — according to screenshots obtained by Gizmodo — the location of the pin has been expanded into a circle, so it’s indicating a shaded area a few meters around a pick-up or drop-off location.
According to Uber the design may still change, as is said it intends to gather driver feedback. We’ve asked if it’s also intending to gather rider feedback on the design.
Asked whether it’s making the change as part of an FTC settlement last year — which followed an investigation into data mishandling, privacy and security complaints dating back to 2014 and 2015 — an Uber spokesman told us: “Not specifically, but user expectations are shifting and we are working to build privacy into the DNA of our products.”
Earlier this month the company agreed to a revised settlement with the FTC, including agreeing that it may be subject to civil penalties if it fails to notify the FTC of future privacy breaches — likely in light of the 2016 data breach affecting 57 million riders and drivers which the company concealed until 2017.
An incoming update to European privacy rules (called GDPR) — which beefs up fines for violations and applies extraterritorially (including, for example, if an EU citizen is using the Uber app on a trip to the U.S.) — also tightens the screw on data protection, giving individuals expanded rights to control their personal information held by a company.
A precise location log would likely be considered personal data that Uber would have to provide to any users requesting their information under GDPR, for example.
Although it’s less clear whether the relatively small amount of obfuscation it’s toying with here would be enough to ensure the location logs are no longer judged as riders’ personal data under the regulation.
Last year the company also ended a controversial feature in which its app had tracked the location of users even after their trip had ended.
Facebook has never before made public the guidelines its moderators use to decide whether to remove violence, spam, harassment, self-harm, terrorism, intellectual property theft, and hate speech from social network until now. The company hoped to avoid making it easy to game these rules, but that worry has been overridden by the public’s constant calls for clarity and protests about its decisions. Today Facebook published 25 pages of detailed criteria and examples for what is and isn’t allowed.
Facebook is effectively shifting where it will be criticized to the underlying policy instead of individual incidents of enforcement mistakes like when it took down posts of the newsworthy “Napalm Girl” historical photo because it contains child nudity before eventually restoring them. Some groups will surely find points to take issue with, but Facebook has made some significant improvements. Most notably, it no longer disqualifies minorities from shielding from hate speech because an unprotected characteristic like “children” is appended to a protected characteristic like “black”.
Nothing is technically changing about Facebook’s policies. But previously, only leaks like a copy of an internal rulebook attained by the Guardian had given the outside world a look at when Facebook actually enforces those policies. These rules will be translated into over 40 languages for the public. Facebook currently has 7500 content reviewers, up 40% from a year ago.
Facebook also plans to expand its content removal appeals process, It already let users request a review of a decision to remove their profile, Page, or Group. Now Facebook will notify users when their nudity, sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence content is removed and let them hit a button to “Request Review”, which will usually happen within 24 hours. Finally, Facebook will hold Facebook Forums: Community Standards events in Germany, France, the UK, India, Singapore, and the US to give its biggest communities a closer look at how the social network’s policy works.
Fixing the “white people are protected, black children aren’t” policy
Facebook’s VP of Global Product Management Monika Bickert who has been coordinating the release of the guidelines since September told reporters at Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ last week that “There’s been a lot of research about how when institutions put their policies out there, people change their behavior, and that’s a good thing.” She admits there’s still the concern that terrorists or hate groups will get better at developing “workarounds” to evade Facebook’s moderators, “but the benefits of being more open about what’s happening behind the scenes outweighs that.”
Content moderator jobs at various social media companies including Facebook have been described as hellish in many exposes regarding what it’s like to fight the spread of child porn, beheading videos, racism for hours a day. Bickert says Facebook’s moderators get trained to deal with this and have access to counseling and 24/7 resources, including some on-site. They can request to not look at certain kinds of content they’re sensitive to. But Bickert didn’t say Facebook imposes an hourly limit on how much offensive moderators see per day like how YouTube recently implemented a four-hour limit.
A controversial slide depicting Facebook’s now-defunct policy that disqualified subsets of protected groups from hate speech shielding. Image via ProPublica
The most useful clarification in the newly revealed guidelines explains how Facebook has ditched its poorly received policy that deemed “white people” as protected from hate speech, but not “black children”. That rule that left subsets of protected groups exposed to hate speech was blasted in a ProPublica piece in June 2017, though Facebook said it no longer applied that policy.
Now Bickert says “Black children — that would be protected. White men — that would also be protected. We consider it an attack if it’s against a person, but you can criticize an organization, a religion . . . If someone says ‘this country is evil’, that’s something that we allow. Saying ‘members of this religion are evil’ is not.” She explains that Facebook is becoming more aware of the context around who is being victimized. However, Bickert notes that if someone says “‘I’m going to kill you if you don’t come to my party’, if it’s not a credible threat we don’t want to be removing it.”
Do community standards = editorial voice?
Being upfront about its policies might give Facebook more to point to when it’s criticized for failing to prevent abuse on its platform. Activist groups say Facebook has allowed fake news and hate speech to run rampant and lead to violence in many developing countries where Facebook hasn’t had enough native speaking moderators. The Sri Lankan government temporarily blocked Facebook in hopes of ceasing calls for violence, and those on the ground say Zuckerberg overstated Facebook improvements to the problem in Myanmar that led to hate crimes against the Rohingya people.
Revealing the guidelines could at least cut down on confusion about whether hateful content is allowed on Facebook. It isn’t. Though the guidelines also raise the question of whether the Facebook value system it codifies means the social network has an editorial voice that would define it as a media company. That could mean the loss of legal immunity for what its users post. Bickert stuck to a rehearsed line that “We are not creating content and we’re not curating content”. Still, some could certainly say all of Facebook’s content filters amount to a curatorial layer.
But whether Facebook is a media company or a tech company, it’s a highly profitable company. It needs to spend some more of the billions it earns each quarter applying the policies evenly and forcefully around the world.
Facebook has never before made public the guidelines its moderators use to decide whether to remove violence, spam, harassment, self-harm, terrorism, and intellectual property theft from social network until now. The company hoped to avoid making it easy to game these rules, but that worry has been overriden by the public’s constant calls for clarity and protests about decisions. Today Facebook published 25 pages of detailed criteria and examples for what is and isn’t allowed.
Nothing is technically changing about Facebook’s policies. But previously, only leaks like a copy of an internal rulebook attained by the Guardian had given the outside world a look at when Facebook actually enforces those policies. These rules will be translated into over 40 languages. Facebook currently has 7500 content reviewers, up 40% from a year ago.
Community Standards. These reports are reviewed by our Community Operations team, who work 24/7 in over 40 languages. Right now, we have 7,500 content reviewers, over 40% more than the number at this time last year
Facebook also plans to expand its content removal appeals process, It already let users request a review of a decision to remove their profile, Page, or Group. Now Facebook will notify users when their nudity, sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence content is removed and let them check a box to request an appeal, which will usually happen within 24 hours. Finally, Facebook will hold Facebook Forums: Community Standards events in Germany, France, the UK, India, Singapore, and the US.
Meltwater, best known for coming from the media-monitoring space, has been on a tear recently, acquiring startups in the social media monitoring space and increasingly in AI. It’s now acquired Sysomos, considered one of the leaders in social analytics and engagement, and a competitor to Brandwatch, which is also well known in this area. The terms of the deal were undisclosed but Sysomos was known to have raised at least a Seed round.
Sysomos is best known for enables organizations to analyze social media, news and other ‘human-generated’ content in one platform.
“By joining the Meltwater team, our clients benefit from the leadership and global scale of oneof the world’s first SaaS companies,” said Peter Heffring in statement, the former Sysomos CEO who will run Meltwater’s Social Analytics division. “In order to enhance the search and analytics experience in the Sysomos Platform, we will leverage the AI models and information extracted from the unstructured web by Meltwater. This will give our clients the context needed to collect more meaningful insights across their earned and owned social channels.”
“All the social analytics companies look at social data in isolation, limiting the insights for brands and businesses,” said Jorn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of Meltwater. “With our acquisition of Sysomos, we can bring together news and social media under one company, giving social data context while adding social engagement to our news and media monitoring offering.”
He said Sysomos would continue to run as a standalone firm. Other Meltwater acquisitons have tended to be incorporated into the main company. Sysomos will become part of the Social Analytics division.
China takes the limelight as the main focus for WeWork in Asia, but the company is pushing ahead with plans to grow its presence in Southeast Asia. After launching in Singapore in January, WeWork is aiming to expand into four more countries this year, according to its head of the region.
The company is kicking things off by announcing its entry into Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, with plans to go on to Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines before 2018 is out.
“We’re definitely expanding across Southeast Asia,” Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, who joined WeWork when it acquired his Singapore-based startup SpaceMob last year, told TechCrunch in an interview.
The next step to that is Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city and a global megacity, where WeWork today announced its first two locations: Sinarmas MSIG Tower, a location that will cater to 1,400 WeWork members across five floors, and Revenue Tower, where it has secured three floors that cover 800 people.
The offices will open in Q3 2018, but already one company — b2b e-commerce startup Bizzy — has committed to renting over half of the occupancy at Revenue Tower, and WeWork expects demand to be high.
“Both locations are in Jakarta’s central business district,” Fuad explained. “Each launch is planned months in advance, we’ve done due diligence to know what local companies are looking for.”
In the case of MSIG Tower, the company has partnered with Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas, which owns the building, on a revenue-share agreement.
“We’re helping to activate the building, but the landlord is going to enjoy the membership yield that we have,” Fuad said. “This allows us to be quite flexible to work with landlords across the region; in this case, our goal is to generate incremental yield versus rental revenue alone, and bring [the office space] to life.”
Bangkok looks to be next based on WeWork’s job site, which lists four open roles in the city. Elsewhere, the company is hiring for one person to join its team in Manila and there’s another role in Kuala Lumpur.
A common area at WeWork Beach Centre in Singapore
WeWork acquired SpaceMob and it recently announced a deal to buy China-based rival Naked Hub, but it isn’t seeking to do more M&A in Southeast Asia at this point. It is also not looking to raise further capital.
The company has pulled in over $6.9 billion from investors to date, a large part of which came via SoftBank’s huge $4.4 billion investment last year. WeWork allocated $500 million of that capital for its “Asia Pacific” business — APAC minus China and Japan, where it works directly with SoftBank — and Fuad said the unit “still has a tonne of cash.”
Still, if it is working with heavyweights like Sinar Mas, you’d imagine that there would be opportunities to deepen the alliance perhaps by raising strategic investment for the regional business.
“There’s no comment on this just yet,” Fuad said. “[The $500 million] is a lot of money and we’ve just started out over the last six months.”
Watch this space then.
WeWork is actively engaging corporates in other ways though, mainly through its ‘Powered By We’ service that essentially enables companies to contract WeWork to redesign their office space. The U.S. firm just struck deals with Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong and Fung Group — parent of WeWork China investor Hony Capital — in China, and it is working to do the same in Southeast Asia, where Fuad said there is a “healthy pipeline.”
“We’re aggressively talking to various enterprises from banking, to retail and tech firms,” he added.
TechCrunch is coming to Tel Aviv on June 7th. We hosted two Meetup + Pitch-off events in the past, but this time we’re bringing a full-day conference with us, and today we’re excited to announce the day’s agenda.
Israel is ahead of the game in many important industries. Mobility is one of those industries, so with that in mind, we’ll be joined by some of the most esteemed people in the space, including Uri Levine of Waze, Raj Kapoor of Lyft and Chemi Peres of Pitango, discussing the hottest technologies Israel has to offer. Join us as we explore whether commercial drones are here to stay, the promise of autonomous vehicles, the potential of flying cars, investing in Israel and more.
Early-bird tickets are available for 265 ILS, and early-stage startups from all verticals are invited to exhibit in Startup Alley for 1700 ILS.
So without any further ado, we’re pleased to announce the agenda for TC Tel Aviv.
TC Sessions: Tel Aviv
Thursday, June 7, 2018 @ Tel Aviv Convention Center, Pavilion 10
9:30 AM – 9:35 AM
Opening Remarks: Jordan Crook, TechCrunch Editor
9:35 AM – 9:55 AM
Fireside Chat with Raj Kapoor (Lyft)
9:55 AM – 10:20 AM
Are Commercial Drones Here to Stay?
In Conversation with Yariv Bash (Flytrex) and Ran Krauss (Airobotics)
10:20 AM – 10:45 AM
The Car’s Eyes and Ears
In Conversation with Omer David Kailaf (Innoviz Technologies) and Rani Wellingstein (Oryx Vision)
10:45 AM – 11:10 AM
Investing in Israel
In Conversation with Mike Granoff (Maniv Mobility), Chemi Peres (Pitango Venture Capital) and Yahal Zilka (Magma Venture Partners)
11:10 AM – 11:35 AM
The Future of Transportation
In Conversation with Uri Levine (Serial Entrepreneur) and Dave Waiser (Gett)
11:35 AM – 11:55 AM
11:55 AM – 12:40 PM
12:40 PM – 1:00 PM
Fireside Chat with Ofer Ben Noon (Argus Cybersecurity)
1:00 PM – 1:25 PM
1:25 PM – 1:45 PM
Fireside Chat with Yossi Matias (Google)
1:45 PM – 2:10 PM
Will Mobility as a Service Unlock Autonomous Cars?
In Conversation with Liad Itzhack (HERE Technologies) and Oren Shovel (Via)
2:10 PM – 2:35 PM
What Are the Next Cybersecurity Threats?
In Conversation with Yonatan Appel (Upstream Security) and Ami Dotan (Karamba Security)
2:35 PM – 3:00 PM
In Conversation with Ryan Sturgill (Gaza Sky Geeks) and Fadi Swiden (Hybrid)
3:00 PM – 3:20 PM
3:20 PM – 3:45 PM
Is LiDAR the answer to car safety?
In Conversation with Danny Atsmon (Cognata) and Eran Shir (Nexar)
3:45 PM – 4:10 PM
4:10 PM – 4:30 PM
Fireside Chat with Austin Russell (Luminar)
4:30 PM – 4:55 PM
Scaling Up and Moving Abroad
In Conversation with Mor Assia (iAngels), Shuly Galili (Upwest Labs), and Shelly Hod Moyal (iAngels)
4:55 PM – 5:20 PM
In Conversation with Jamil Mazzawi (Optima Design Automation) and Ben Volkow (Otonomo)
5:20 PM – 5:45 PM
Will Flying Cars Get Off the Ground?
In Conversation with Omer Bar-Yohay (Eviation Aircraft) and Rafi Yoelli (Urban Aeronautics)
5:45 PM – 5:50 PM
Data analytics platform Tableau today announced the launch of both a new data preparation product and a new subscription pricing plan.
Currently, Tableau offers desktop plans for users who want to analyze their data locally, a server plan for businesses that want to deploy the service on-premises or on a cloud platform, and a fully hosted online plan. Prices for these range from $35 to $70 per user and month. The new pricing plans don’t focus so much on where the data is analyzed but on the analyst’s role. The new Creator, Explorer and Viewer plans are tailored toward the different user experiences. They all include access to the new Tableau Prep data preparation tool, Tableau Desktop and new web authoring capabilities — and they are available both on premises or in the cloud.
Existing users can switch their server or desktop subscriptions to the new release today and then assign each user either a creator, explorer or viewer role. As the name indicates, the new viewer role is meant for users who mostly consume dashboards and visualizations, but don’t create their own. The explorer role is for those who need access to a pre-defined data set and the creator role is for analysts and power user who need access to all of Tableau’s capabilities.
“Organizations are facing the urgent need to empower their entire workforce to help drive more revenue, reduce costs, provide better service, increase productivity, discover the next scientific breakthrough and even save lives,” said Adam Selipsky, CEO at Tableau, in today’s announcement. “Our new offerings will help entire organizations make analytics ubiquitous, enabling them to tailor the capabilities required for every employee.”
As for the new data preparation tool, the general idea here is to give users a visual way to shape and clean their data, something that’s especially important as businesses now often pull in data from a variety of sources. Tableau Prep can automate some of this, but the most important aspect of the service is that it gives users a visual interface for creating these kind of workflows. Prep includes support for all the standard Tableau data connectors and lets users perform calculations, too.
“Our customers often tell us that they love working with Tableau, but struggle when data is in the wrong shape for analysis,” said Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau. “We believe data prep and data analysis are two sides of the same coin that should be deeply integrated and look forward to bringing fun, easy data prep to everyone regardless of technical skill set.”