As traditional enterprise companies like IBM, Oracle and SAP try to transform into more modern cloud companies, they are finding that making that transition, while absolutely necessary, could require difficult adjustments along the way. Just this morning, SAP announced that it was restructuring in order to save between $750 million and 800 million euro (between approximately $856 million an $914 million).
While the company tried to put as positive a spin on the announcement as possible, it could involve up to 4000 job cuts as SAP shifts into more modern technologies. “We are going to move our people and our focus to the areas where the new economy needs SAP the most: artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, IoT, blockchain and quantum computing,” CEO Bill McDermott told a post-earnings press conference.
If that sounds familiar, it should. It is precisely the areas that IBM has been trying to concentrate on its transformation over the last several years. IBM has struggled to make this change and has also framed workforce reduction as moving to modern skill sets. It’s worth pointing out that SAP’s financial picture has been more positive than IBM’s.
CFO Luca Mucic tried to stress this was not about cost cutting, so much as ensuring the long-term health of the company, but did admit it did involve job cuts. These could include early retirement and other incentives to leave the company voluntarily. “We still expect that there will be a number probably slightly higher than what we saw in the 2015 program where we had around 3000 employees leave the company, where at the end of this process will leave SAP,” he said.
The company believes that in spite of these cuts, it will actually have more employees by this time next year than it has now, but they will be shifted to these new technology areas. “This is a growth company move, not a cost cutting move every dollar that we gain from a restructuring initiative will be invested back into headcount and more jobs,” McDermott said. SAP kept stressing that cloud revenue will reach $35 billion in revenue by 2023.
Holger Mueller, an analyst who watches enterprise companies like SAP for Constellation Research, says the company is doing what it has to do in terms of transformation. “SAP is in the midst of upgrading its product portfolio to the 21st century demands of its customer base,” Mueller told TechCrunch. He added that this is not easy to pull off, and it requires new skill sets to build, operate and sell the new technologies.
McDermott stressed that the company would be offering a generous severance package to any employee leaving the company as a result of today’s announcement.
Today’s announcement comes after the company made two multi-billion dollar acquisitions to help in this transition in 2018, paying $8 billion for Qualtrics and $2.4 billion for CallidusCloud.
SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8B in cash, just before the survey software company’s IPO
E3 news is officially coming fast and furious, a day ahead of the show’s official launch.
Following a fairly disappointing showing from Square Enix, Ubisoft brought out the big guns, including Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy titles and a cameo by a beaming Shigeru Miyamoto.
Here are the biggest announcement’s from today’s event.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Set in ancient Greece, the latest addition to the hugely popular title got a gorgeous new trailer, complete with Socrates — because what action-adventure title would be complete with out one of history’s great philosophers? The title is due out October 5 — refreshingly fast for a show full of “pre-alpha” demos.
Beyond Good and Evil 2
The followup to the 2003 critical darling kicked off the show with an extended trailer and a touch of gameplay. The prequel is built around open-world action Star Wars-style space adventures. Currently in pre-alpha, the game is soliciting contributions from fans through Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord startup.
The BMX sequel got some high-intensity gameplay footage at today’s event. Currently available in beta, the title will arrive on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch next February.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Quite possibly the only game trailer with an Abraham Lincoln in the middle, the new Tom Clancy title is set in the nation’s capital following a zombie-style plague. The title will launch in March 2019.
Skull & Bones
Pirate games? This E3’s got ’em. Based on the naval battles from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the new title features large-scale tactical open-seas action.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle — Donkey Kong Adventure
Another familiar face joins the Ubisoft/Nintendo crossover. The downloadable add-on arrives June 26 for the Nintendo, with Donkey Kong in tow.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
Speaking of Nintendo, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto was on-hand at the event to help introduce Fox McCloud and other Star Fox characters as exclusive add-on content for the action-adventure space title. Starlink is due out October 18.
As Disney gets closer to launching a shiny new video service and continues to ramp up efforts in other new streaming areas like gaming, it looks like it might be winding down one of its more legacy bets. Babble, a parenting blog that Disney acquired reportedly for about $40 million to help it target hipster parents, quietly ceased publishing in the middle of December, TechCrunch has learned.
“For everything there is a season, and after more than a decade of serving as a community and resource for parents, Babble will be saying goodbye,” reads a post from the site’s editors. “To all the moms, dads, family, friends, writers, and readers who supported us – thank you. We are so grateful for the time spent sharing your stories and your lives, through all the ups and downs of raising tiny humans.”
When Disney acquired Babble — originally spun out from a (now-defunct) dating website called Nerve.com — in 2011, it was part of a bigger push at the media giant to built up a stock of content properties to target younger parents, the kind that turn to online media for parenting advice and inspiration.
The idea was that Disney would populate the site with lots of evergreen content aimed at savvy middle class parents — recent articles included a post on soft-serve pickle-flavored ice cream and kids nailing 80s-style Halloween costumes — to help it build a connection to these consumers that would lead, over time, to trusting and using and exposing kids to other Disney products as they grew up.
But times have changed. The Disney Interactive Media Group that housed Babble doesn’t exist as such anymore — and Babble’s two founders, Rufus Griscom and Alicia Volkman, moved on years ago from Disney.
And while (I’ve been told) hipster parents definitely still do turn to digital media to answer questions, get inspiration, or just waste time under the guise of doing something constructive, I don’t think that their focus has consolidated on a single destination to do that, but rather a plethora of sources that include other parenting-focused blogs, BuzzFeed-style viral sites that source stories from whatever is trending on social media, YouTube, apps like Pinterest and Facebook and more.
Sometimes, parents even meet other parents in real life, and talk and listen to each other that way.
It’s also not clear how much Disney had been investing in building out the Babble brand and site over the years. When it was acquired, it was on a growth tear, expanding 100 percent year over year with 4 million uniques. However, it hasn’t had much buzz or evolution since.
We’ve reached out to Disney to ask for more details, but in any case, this is far from being one of the biggest acquisitions to get shuttered by the company after things fizzled out. Club Penguin, a kids-focused gaming platform Disney acquired for around $700 million, shut down its main site in 2017, and its remaining app last year.
Update: It’s as I suspected at the top. The choice to shut this down coincided with Disney’s upcoming Disney+ launch. From a spokesperson:
“As Disney Digital Network evolves to support the launch of Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+, Babble.com ceased to update editorial content as of December 14, 2018. For fresh Disney-themed family crafts, recipes and activities, visit Disney Family at disney.com/family. For authentic parenting news, stories and videos, visit GoodMorningAmerica.com/Family.”
Out with the old, in with the new!
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:
1. Facebook shares shoot up after strong Q4 earnings despite data breach
Facebook managed to beat Wall Street’s estimates in its Q4 earnings despite a seemingly constant beatdown in the press.
The company said it hit 2.32 billion monthly users, up 2.2 percent from 2.27 billion last quarter, speeding up its growth rate. And it earned $16.91 billion off all those users, with $2.38 in GAAP earnings per share.
2. Robert Swan named Intel CEO
Half a year after being named interim CEO, Bob Swan is taking the job full-time. He stepped into the interim role as word emerged of then-CEO Brian Krzanich’s “past consensual relationship” with an employee.
3. New York cracks down on companies that sell fake followers
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has reached a settlement with Devumi, a company that made millions selling fake followers to unsuspecting customers. The state of New York found that Devumi had engaged in illegal deception and illegal impersonation in the course of fluffing up social media profiles with its automated accounts.
Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch
4. Google will stop peddling a data collector through Apple’s back door
It looks like Facebook wasn’t the only one abusing Apple’s system for distributing employee-only apps to sidestep the App Store and collect extensive data on users.
5. Google+ for consumers will shut down on April 2nd
Speaking of Google: It’s no secret that the company planned to pull life support from the consumer version of Google+ in April. Until now, though, we didn’t know the exact date.
6. Cheap Internet of Things gadgets betray you even after you toss them in the trash
It’s not just while they’re plugged in that these slapdash gadgets are a security risk — even from the garbage can, they can still compromise your network.
7. Hulu announces a new ad unit that appears when you pause
Yes, Hulu is introducing an ad unit that will show up when you pause a video. But no, the ad won’t be a video.
It was May 2016 when Thomas Plantenga got the call.
He was living in New York and working on projects with Fabrice Grinda — the co-founder of classified juggernaut OLX and the founder of FJ Labs. Plantenga had worked with Grinda on expanding OLX and was ready for the next challenge — which came in the form of the used clothing marketplace, Vinted.
The invitation came from Insight Venture Partners and it was an offer to help work with one of their portfolio companies — a former high flyer that had fallen on hard times.
“They sold me on the story,” said Plantenga on a call from Vilnius, Lithuania, where he moved to take the reins at the used clothing startup.
“The business was completely burning down and I was hanging out with them,” said Plantenga. “In those five weeks I connected with both the co-founders and wrote a very aggressive plan of how to completely change things and really change the direction… I said ‘fuck it.’ If you’re going to be betting everything and everyone on this… let’s stick around.”
Plantenga proposed severe austerity measures for the used clothing exchange. The company shuttered its offices in San Francisco, London, Munich and Paris, and slashed headcount from 240 to 150 and automated the processes of content moderation.
There was a strategic shift in product development, as well. The company focused on trust and safety between buyers and sellers and concentrated on two core markets: Germany and France. And, as Milda Mitkute, the company’s co-founder, told Forbes in an article earlier this year, the company shifted from a mandatory sales fee to a free product with additional paid services (like promotional marketing on the platform for sellers). Between January and December 2017, Vinted processed $360 million in sales.
The turnaround not only saved the company but had investors come knocking at the door. Last week, Sprints Capital led the €50 million financing that also included Burda Media and Insight Venture Partners (along with Grinda’s FJ Labs).
“Insight and Accel had the investment written-off to zero and did not expect it to come back,” said Plantenga. What came next was the biggest investment round ever for a Lithuanian startup.
“We started this whole turnaround with something like $14 million in the bank account and we closed the round when we had $10 million of cash,” Plantenga said. Before the weekend the company saw $2 million in sales in a single day. “It was close to zero a little more than two years ago,” said Plantenga.
As a sign of the faith the company has in management, Plantenga said that even though the ownership stake of the founders and executive team has fallen below 50 percent, they still maintain control over the company and the board.
Used clothes may not sound like much of a business, but in Europe, Vinted thinks that roughly $500 billion worth of clothing changes hands across the continent every year.
With so much money on the table, it’s little wonder that Vinted has attracted competition. Companies like Depop, which raised $20 million in January to pursue its own expansion plans for global domination of the used clothing market, are putting their own spin on the marketplace for used clothes.
And the two companies have very different approaches to their market.
“Depop is very smart in branding and positioning themselves as a cool brand that sells cool clothing,” said Plantenga. “And we’re just selling everybody’s clothes. We don’t care whether it’s cool. We just want people to sell their clothes.”
But both companies are on the edge of what Plantenga sees as a massive shift in consumer behavior.
“If we see the super trends of people wanting not to waste and being careful of how they pressure the environment, and all these super trends are becoming a thing,” said Plantenga. “We are hooking in on those super trends. I came from the classified space where you build a horizontal and you monetize cars and real estate, and fashion was a thing that was kind of nice to have. I stuck around because of my own belief that this is something really big.”
Just how big are drones? According to Gartner, industry revenue topped $6 billion last year and is on track to hit $11.2 billion by 2020. Unmanned aerial vehicles are a huge industry with a broad swath of applications, from hobbyists to agriculture to the military.
At Disrupt SF in September, we’ll be bringing together executives from some of the biggest names in the industry, including enterprise drone software maker 3D Robotics, startup Skydio and the industry leader in commercial and consumer drones, DJI.
Chris Anderson is the CEO of 3DR, the creator of drone analytics enterprise software platform Site Scan. Prior to cofounding the company as a resource for drone hobbyists, Anderson was the long-time editor-in-chief of Wired. 3DR was an early entrant into the consumer drone space but recently left the market and started building software for commercial drone use.
Adam Bry is the found and CEO of Skydio, a Bay Area-based startup that has generated considerable excitement — and funding — with a drone that sports impressive motional tracking for action shots. Bry is a graduate of MIT’s CSAIL program, who previous worked on Google’s Project Wing fixed-wing drone program.
Arnaud Thiercelin is the head of U.S. R&D for DJI. DJI overwhelming dominates making and selling drones and Thiercelin leads teams tasked with implementing technology for developers and enterprise.
We’re excited to have these industry leaders speak at Disrupt. There are countless opportunities in the drone space right now and these leaders are best positioned to discuss to the challenges facing founders entering the market.
Disrupt is September 5-7 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Get your tickets today.
Educational computing kit company Kano announced today that it has signed a two-year licensing deal to create Disney-branded products later this year. Details are still pretty scant on how precisely the deal with Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products will take shape, but the first product looks to be a Star Wars-themed kit due out in the second half of the year.
Kano, which is best known for its kid-centric computer kit, has already had success with third-party branding, including a Harry Potter wand kit, which was announced over the summer. Disney, too, has been more aggressive in licensing its IP to hardware startups, including, notably, STEM education companies like Littlebits, which has released both Marvel and Star Wars-themed products.
“Our goal at Kano is to take you on a journey, unlocking powers in yourself and others, through the medium of technology – from wands that really work, to computers you make yourself, and more” Kano CEO Alex Klein said in a statement, “Collaborating with Disney is a blessing. We can combine connected, creative technologies with some of the most memorable stories ever told.”
Of course, if Sphero’s struggles taught us anything, it’s that IP alone does not a successful product make. The company had an undeniable hit on its hands with the release of its BB-8 robot, but it flew a little too close to the sun when it effectively quadrupled its product output to include additional Star Wars robots and Pixar and Marvel-branded products.
Kano will also be taking a fairly ambitious approach to licensing, with several more brands already in the works.
When Apple lowered guidance on earnings earlier this month, it cited markets like China as a major factor in its disappointing numbers. Sure enough, when earnings hit today, things didn’t look great, as iPhone revenues dipped 15 percent year over year for the quarter.
In an interview with Reuters earlier today, Tim Cook noted that the company is reassessing how it sells handsets outside of the U.S. Apple has traditionally relied on the U.S. dollar to set the price, which has led to steeper costs internationally.
“When you look at foreign currencies and then particularly those markets that weakened over the last year those (iPhone price) increases were obviously more,” the CEO said. “And so as we’ve gotten into January and assessed the macroeconomic condition in some of those markets we’ve decided to go back to more commensurate with what our local prices were a year ago in hopes of helping the sales in those areas.”
There are, of course, a lot of factors at play here. For one thing, global smartphone numbers have been on the decline for the first time since analysts began recording such figures. Handsets have gotten pretty good across the board and afforded fewer killer reasons to upgrade every two or so years.
Economic factors are also at play in a major way. That certainly goes for China, where the country’s slowed growth has led to fewer large purchases. A looming trade war between the U.S. and China has had an impact as well, with tariffs and other factors, as companies like Huawei have managed to buck the trend in their home country.
Tesla, which reported its first quarterly profits in two years Wednesday, is looking to extend its earnings streak by bringing its new Model 3 to customers beyond North America. And part of that plan involves accelerating its manufacturing plans in China.
Tesla saw its revenue skyrocket to $6.8 billion in the third quarter (and a $312 million profit) thanks to sales of its new Model 3 vehicle, despite production bottlenecks and more recent issues with delivery logistics. The company was able to achieve that profitability milestone just through sales in the U.S. and Canada. That leaves two other massive markets on the table. Cue Europe and China.
Tesla said Wednesday it will start to take orders for the Model 3 in Europe and China before the end of 2018. Tesla said it will begin deliveries of the Model 3 to Europe early next year.
“The mid-sized premium sedan market in Europe is more than twice as big as the same segment in the U.S.,” Tesla said in its shareholder letter released Wednesday. “This is why we are excited to bring Model 3 to Europe early next year.”
Notably, the company is further accelerating its timeline for China and said it will bring portions of Model 3 production to the country next year.
“We are aiming to bring portions of Model 3 production to China during 2019 and to progressively increase the level of localization through local sourcing and manufacturing,” Tesla said in its earnings report. “Production in China will be designated only for local customers.”
Tesla said earlier this month it plans for as rapid build out of a factory in China. But there’s something new here. The term “portions of Model 3 production” is the important phrase. This could be referring to a term used in the manufacturing world known as a complete knock down. CKD is basically a kit of non-assembled parts of a product, like say a Model 3. It’s a strategy used to avoid tariffs when shipping to foreign countries.
Tesla has plans to build a factory in Shanghai, but construction hasn’t even begun yet.
The company secured in October rights to about 210 acres of land in Lingang, Shanghai, the site of the electric automaker’s planned factory and its first outside of the U.S.
Tesla warned in its production and delivery report in early October that tariffs, combined with the cost of shipping its vehicles via ocean carrier and the lack of access to cash incentives available to locally produced electric vehicles, has put the company at a disadvantage in China. Tesla reiterated those cost constraints in its third-quarter earnings report.
Tesla reached a deal in July with the Shanghai government to build a factory that it says will be capable of producing 500,000 electric vehicles a year. Once construction begins, it will take about two years until Tesla can produce vehicles. It will be another “two to three years before the factory is fully ramped up to produce around 500,000 vehicles per year for Chinese customers,” a Tesla spokesman said at the time.
Scalar Capital is a San Francisco-based hedge fund company specializing in crypto assets. In fact, it is one of roughly 300 crypto-focused funds that have sprung up in the last year or so.
That kind of market zaniness makes it difficult to carve out a niche, but Scalar has a bit an edge on this front, thanks to its founders’ backgrounds. Linda Xie, who studied economics at UC San Diego, spent a couple of years out of college as a portfolio risk analyst with the insurance giant AIG before joining Coinbase as a product manager, a role she held for more than three years before leaving last fall to start Scalar.
Her cofounder, Jordan Clifford, has a computer science degree from Carnegie Mellon and spent a few years as a business analyst with Capital One before bouncing around a couple of startups and landing at Coinbase, where he worked as a software engineer for roughly 18 months, meeting Xie in the process.
Though it’s far too early to say whether Scalar can, well, scale, a source close to the firm says the duo has already raised $20 million from investors that include VC and crypto enthusiast Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase cofounder Fred Ehrsam, and angel investor Elad Gil, among others. We spoke with Xie recently to learn more. Our chat has been edited lightly for length.
TC: When did you first become interested in crypto assets?
LX: I first came across bitcoin in 2011. At the time, I was working (first as an intern) at AIG, which was hiring a lot of risk analysts after the financial implosion. And I saw a lot of what went wrong and became very interested in decentralized systems. When Coinbase came along and I saw they were working with [retailer] Overstock, [helping enable bitcoin as a form a payment for its customers], and working with regulators to take bitcoin mainstream, I wrote to them, and they brought me on.
TC: What were you doing there exactly?
LX: Initially, I was working with law enforcement to help them catch criminals. It’s how I became interested in Monero [a privacy coin that launched in 2014 with privacy features meant to give users a degree of anonymity]. Then I later became a product manager at Coinbase, building internal tools, which is when I met Jordan. He was an engineer on the same team, and we were educating people internally about different cryptocurrencies and really enjoyed that and realized we wanted to spend our time investing in this. So we decided to leave last year and start this fund together.
TC: How is Scalar unique in what it’s doing?
LX: It’s a very volatile space, but we’ve already been able to see what it takes to succeed through our work at Coinbase. I’ve also advised Ox [a decentralized exchange on Ethereum] and through that work seen what it takes to build a successful crypto project from creating a white paper to building community. Full disclosure: the cofounder is my husband. But over two years, I helped set up its structure, connected it with advisors and investors, and helped make sure its tokens are distributed, and I’m taking what I learned and applying it to other projects. Even if it’s a liquid asset that we’re getting involved in, we try to be as helpful as possible, both on a technical level, as well when it comes to strategy and recruiting.
Our fund is focused on crypto assets with a core focus right now on privacy coins, which we think are undervalued. But we’re also investing in different smart contracts platforms and scaling solutions — different technologies that we think are going to be a big deal.
TC: The latter two don’t sound very liquid. As a hedge fund, aren’t your investors expecting returns fairly quickly? Or do you sell the projects’ tokens right away on the secondary market?
LX: I don’t think anyone can promise exact returns. It’s going to take a few years to [start to see] some of the winners in this industry. But we’ve made it really clear to our investors that this industry is [in the very early innings]. We’re still figuring out the technology and how it gets to scale, but we believe that by getting in early, we’ll be able to capture massive amounts of value.
TC: How many different coins have you invested in so far, and how do you think about company or project “stages” and whether and when it makes sense to invest?
LX: We’ve invested in over a dozen privacy coins. For the early-stage ones, where there’s no product or code available, we’re very dependent on background of the team. But even at that idea phase, we’re thinking through the token economics.
When we get to later-stage projects, we’re looking at the open source code; we’re looking at the community; we’re assessing how do you create a moat. Community is definitely one of the most important pieces — are there people using it and giving their feedback or is this a purely speculative community. We’re also looking at the token itself and considering the supply and the ownership that the team has and its vesting schedule. At the end of the day, making sure the tech is sound and the code is secure and that a team is using the best coding practices and that its developers are competent is the most crucial aspect of what we do. Jordan handles a lot of [this work] but we also have technical advisors.
TC: So many tokens are being generated that Thomson Reuters just added 50 tokens to its financial data feed. Should we expect public exchanges that, instead of company shares, sell company tokens? Is that where things are heading?
LX: First, the vast majority of tokens right now are terrible. Many of them come with zero rights to company revenue or anything; they’re just used for fundraising. I do think we’ll see a trend toward security, where you can tokenize traditional securities and you’ll have 24/7, liquid markets that are accessible globally. I do eventually see many companies, but public and private, tokenizing their securities and releasing them in this form.
That’s not what truly excites me, though. That just mirrors our existing financial system. I’m much more excited about concepts where you’re disrupting something using cryptography, where a crypto asset is not seizable by any government and you can store money with it and anyone can have access to it.
TC: There are so many deals out there. How would you characterize your investment pace?
LX: There are so many terrible deals out there. The best deals are highly competitive. As for pace, it goes through cycles. We’ll fund some really compelling projects, then months will pass where there’s nothing.
TC: Who are your typical co-investors, and what size checks are you writing?
LX: We mostly find ourselves in VC rounds, with some of the investors in our management company — people who are thinking longer term and who realize that crypto is in its early days. The size of checks completely vary based on our conviction.
TC: What’s one new area of interest for you?
LX: Ethereum is right now the dominant smart projects platform, but there’ve been some issues with scaling, so we’ve been looking at some competitors in what’s becoming a smart contracts war. There are dozens, but only a handful are really good in our opinion, and a lot of them make trade-offs. You want three attributes in an ideal world: scalability, security, and decentralization. Right now, there’s this state where you can only have two. Security is paramount, so the trade-off is between scaling and decentralization. Ethereum is very focused on decentralization; other projects are more focused on scaling and they’ve made decentralization trade-offs.
Pictured above: Jordan Clifford and Linda Xie
You’re either a Chrome bag person or you’re not. And if you’re not a Chrome bag person, it might be time to give the newly Portland-based bag maker another look.
I’ve been a fan of Chrome Industries bags for a long time, but over the years I’ve only owned two: the discontinued Mini Buran, a 15L, extra-small messenger by Chrome standards, and the Niko camera pack. I still use the latter periodically but I traded the messenger away early on because, in spite of being Chrome’s smallest pack and the only one that didn’t look cartoonishly big on my 5′ 4″ frame, I could never get the weight quite right. There are two reasons for that: 1) Chrome bags are huge and designed for huge hulking men and 2) I’m just not a messenger bag person.
Chrome’s lineup of industrial-strength messenger bags has typically appealed to hardcore bike types and dudes big enough to hoist its famously burly packs, but the company is branching out with a few new offerings that should excite anyone like me who covets their designs and build quality but just can’t make most of their stuff work.
The Chrome Vega Transit Brief, part of Chrome’s new work-centric Treadwell collection, is one of those new bags. The Vega is made to appeal to professional types who maybe need to keep their look away from the “I’m a bike messenger who lives in a punk house” kind of vibe, but it’s still made of the pretty much indestructible ballistic nylon that gives Chrome bags their iconic look and feel.
At first glance, the Vega looks like any generic laptop messenger, but unlike those (boring) you can carry the Vega three different ways. The first mode lets you carry the Vega briefcase-style, with a leather hand strap. The second mode converts the bag into a messenger with a detachable strap. The third mode (my favorite) happens when you pop out two hideaway straps from the back of the bag, turn it 90 degrees and carry the Vega like a backpack. For my purposes, I switched between hand-carrying the bag and putting it on my back to carry a 13″ MacBook and other odds and ends.
Photo via Chrome Industries
At just 15L, Vega is meant to carry small, rectangular stuff — you won’t be throwing groceries on the way home from work in this thing. It’s got two main zippered compartments, one soft padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 15″ MacBook and one all-purpose-stuff pocket lined with its own sleeve and two internal zip pockets that are actually big enough to be super useful for a phone or a wallet and keys. There’s a teeny external pocket that can also hold a phone or something small, but that one is tougher to get into so I mostly didn’t use it.
I mentioned it already, but it’s worth repeating that the Vega is very, very rectangular. Its primary compartment would be best suited to hold stuff like an iPad, a book or paper documents, but if you have anything with much depth it’s not going to be well-suited to this pack. Another thing worth noting is that the Vega looks like a big ol’ rectangle when it’s carried like a backpack. You’ll either like that look and think it’s kinda distinct and cool like I did or you’ll hate it. One criticism: The leather strap that lets you carry the Vega by its handle doesn’t stow, so it just sort of hangs there when you wear it like a backpack. It’s not super noticeable, but it bugged me a little because the snaps were tricky to open and close — a little flaw I imagine they might modify if they ever update this design.
The Vega isn’t Chrome’s most inspired design ever, but it isn’t supposed to be. If you want to show up to a meeting looking pro but still cool, like yeah you looked over the slides from the call but you drink shitty beer after work because you’re legit not because you can’t afford some triple-hopped bullshit, the Vega is probably for you. For anyone looking for a well-made bag that’s not too loud to carry to and from work meetings that happens to turn into a damn backpack, Chrome’s Vega Transit Brief is a great fit.
What it is: A bag that looks discreet and professional while keeping work basics close (laptop, papers and the like). Great as a no-frills carry-on bag for travel or a to-the-office-and-back kind of bag.
What it isn’t: A workhorse. With its 15L volume, you’re not going to be hauling big loads around or taking produce home from the co-op with this thing.
Read more reviews from TechCrunch Bag Week 2018 here.
After Adyen’s huge debut on the public markets in June that saw the stock go up 92 percent on its first day of trading, the company today published its first earnings as a publicly listed business. The figures underscore to how Adyen — which provides services to merchants and others to power both online and offline transactions — continues to charge ahead in its growth. In the first half of the year, Adyen made revenues of €256.4 million ($298 million), up 67.3 percent compared to a year ago, with net income of €48.2 million, up 74.6 percent.
For some context, in the year that ended December 31, 2017, Adyen generated net revenues of €218 million, up 38 percent compared to 2016. In other words, in the first half of this year, Adyen has already made more than it did in all of the year before.
The stock is currently trading at €574 per share, versus a close of €548.10 the day before.
Adyen said it processed €70 billion in transactions in the period, up 43.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. This puts it on track to grow processed volumes by about 50 percent for the full year. (Last year’s processed volume was €108 billion.)
Ebitda was €70.3 million, up 83.1 percent, with a margin of 44.9 percent. This was down slightly on last year’s margin, which Adyen ascribed to “continued investment in global team and marketing.”
As we’ve described before, Adyen’s business is predicted on the continued growth of e-commerce, and also the increasing digitisation of in-person payments that link up data between offline and online transactions.
In each of these cases, merchants or others taking payments — Adyen’s customers include the likes of Netflix, Uber, eBay and Dunkin’ Donuts — potentially have to string together a number of different pieces to not only take payments, but to process them and use the data from them to inform wider business decisions. Adeyn’s solution essentially is to handle all of that for its customers, in order to make the process of taking payments from customers more efficient.
“Through our single platform, we provide a holistic view of payments, regardless of sales channel, delivering unique shopper insights while combating fraud and improving payment authorization rates,” the company notes.
The company was built originally on solving the hurdles around digital payments — an area that still has a long way to go, considering that e-commerce is still around 10 percent or less of all transactions across many key markets. But Adyen’s more recent move into physical transactions has been a large boost to business, with point-of-sale processed volumes up 120 percent year-on-year to €6.6 billion. Nevertheless, POS payments accounted for just 9.4 percent of total processed volume, the company noted.
Adyen has been one of the most successful IPOs of the year, and is a reminder that, despite Square still yet to post a net income, there is a lot of opportunity for strong business models in financial services that disrupt existing providers. (And that goes for Square too, despite its profitability for now.) Adyen still has a long way to go before it’s the category leader. While it gave a less positive outlook for future quarters, PayPal in the last quarter alone noted $139 billion in payments processed, as well as $3.86 billion in revenue, on net income of $526 million.