South Korea aims for startup gold

Back in 2011, when South Korea won its longshot bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, the country wasn’t widely recognized as a destination for ski and snow lovers. It wasn’t considered much of a tech startup hub either. Fast forward seven years and a lot has changed. For the next 10 days, the eyes of the world will be on the snowy slopes of PyeongChang. Meanwhile, a couple of…

Digital nomads are hiring and firing their governments

The nation state has survived wars, plagues, and upheaval, but it won’t survive digital nomads, not if people like Karoli Hindriks have something to say about it. Hindriks is the founder of Jobbatical, a platform that allows digital nomads to find work in other countries and helps with the logistics of getting there. The company also embodies a new world of highly-skilled, global migratory workers who work wherever they please….

Sqreen wants to become the IFTTT of web app security

French startup Sqreen recently launched a Security Hub with dozens of plugins to put you in control of the security of your web app. In many ways, it feels like enabling tasks on popular automation service IFTTT. Sqreen participated in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield and Y Combinator’s current batch. The vision of the product hasn’t changed. Sqreen lets you protect your web service with little effort from your side. Big companies…

Montana-based mapping startup onXmaps raises a round of funding fit for Big Sky Country

A mapping startup based in Missoula, Mont., which allows users to download sophisticated offline topographic maps outlining public and private lands and a number of other features geared towards hunting, fishing and camping, has pulled in its first major outside funding. onXmaps has closed a $20.3 million Series A round led by Summit Partners. Bessemer Venture Partners, Millennium Technology Value Partners, Next Frontier Capital and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke also participated in the…

H-E-B acquires Texas-based on-demand company Favor

H-E-B has acquired Favor, the on-demand delivery service out of Texas. Favor will continue to operate as an independent wholly owned subsidiary of the grocery chain. The company first in 2013, bringing a Texas-tailored approach to on-demand delivery. While many on-demand services, such as Postmates, focus on high-density areas like NYC and San Francisco, Favor built a product that serves the sprawling cities of Texas. Users could order food from…

Online estate agency Home Made raises £850K seed at £4.3M post-money valuation

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the online estate agency market was a done deal in the U.K., evidenced by a plethora of proptech startups and more established companies that help you sell your home or help you list and manage it for rent. But apparently not, if one London startup and its new backers are to be believed. Home Made, which is focused exclusively on London lettings for properties…

Uber is reportedly preparing to sell its Southeast Asian business to Grab

Uber is preparing to sell its Southeast Asian business to Grab in exchange for a stake in the Singaporean ride-sharing company that has a big presence in that region, according to a new report from CNBC. This wouldn’t be an unfamiliar story for Uber, which was handily beaten by Didi in China before eventually caving and selling the company to the dominant ride-sharing startup in China. Uber sold its Chinese…

Assur.com is an insurance aggregator without all the clutter

French startup Assur.com lets you find and compare all sorts of insurance products without having to enter all your personal information. While insurance aggregators are nothing new, they usually ask you for your email address, phone number and more. And chances are those companies are going to spam you with offers. But Assur.com has a different approach as you don’t have to enter any information in a text field. It’s…

Streaming service Fandor has a new COO and a new Chief Product Engineering Officer

Fandor has expanded its executive team, promoting General Counsel and Chief Distribution Officer Felice Oper to the role of COO, and appointing TS Ramakrishnan as its Chief Product Engineering Officer. Oper joined the company in 2015, around the same time that Larry Aidem took over as CEO. Aidem, who previously worked with Oper at HBO, said that her role at Fandor has expanded organically, where she wasn’t just handling the…

CommonSense Robotics raises $20M for robotics tech for online grocery fulfilment

CommonSense Robotics, an Israel-based startup developing AI and robotics tech to help online grocery retailers speed up fulfilment and delivery, has raised $20 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Playground Global, with participation from previous investors Aleph VC and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. It brings the company’s total funding to $26 million. ‘The funds will be used to scale up CommonSense Robotics’ facility deployment rate, develop…

Miso scores $10 million to bring its hamburger-flipping robot to more restaurants

Pasadena-based hardware startup Miso Robotics just got a big vote of confidence from investors, in the form of a $10 million Series B. This latest windfall led by Acacia Research Corporation brings the company’s total disclosed funding to $14 million and arrives as it ramps up production and gets ready to deliver its hamburger-cooking robot Flippy to 50 CaliBurger locations. “We’re super stoked to use this funding to develop and…

The Rise of the Rest seed fund announces its first group of investments

The Rise of the Rest seed fund’s first round of startup investments cover eight states that are usually overlooked by tech investors, including Kentucky, South Carolina and Ohio. The $150 million fund was launched in December by Steve Case and J.D. Vance, with backing from many of America’s most influential businesspeople, to support tech ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley, New York City and other major hubs. The Rise of the…

Need a post on Harvard.edu about your ICO? $500, please

In the endless hunt to gain credibility for token products, founders are resorting to some shady – and ridiculous – tactics. After researching the weird world of pay-for-play recently and taking part in this expose on the space, I stumbled on another corner of the Internet that is a bit disturbing. It seems the habit of trying to bribe writers for big sites and providing access to those sites to…

betaworks Studios is a membership club for builders

betaworks, the 10-year-old startup studio out of NYC, is today introducing a brand new business in the form of betaworks Studios. Think of betaworks Studios as a membership club for builders, offering entrepreneurs, artists, enginneers/developers, and creatives the space to work on their projects and get to know one another. Builders is the word that betaworks uses to describe its core demographic for Studios. The premise for betaworks Studios is…

Beyond the BS of Singularity U’s $32M raise to teach trendspotting

Twenty minutes into my interview with CEO Rob Nail, and I still couldn’t cut through the buzzwords about his online and in-person education startup. So I asked him straight up, “with as little BS as possible, what does Singularity University do?” He told me “You learn to read the news differently and how to identify which of all the crazy breakthroughs might be relevant to you. The most powerful thing we…

Unsplash raises $7.25M to bring cryptocurrency to its free, curated photo platform

Unsplash is rethinking the way photography gets distributed and monetized, and today it’s announcing a $7.25 million Series A to fund those efforts. The site actually started as a side project for freelance marketplace Crew, but eventually the founders decided to focus on Unsplash and sold Crew to Dribbble. While the Unsplash photo library contains only 400,000 photos (compared to the 150 million on Shutterstock), CEO Mikael Cho explained that…

Swiss pharma company Roche is buying Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion

Roche, the global pharmaceutical company from Switzerland, today announced it will scoop up Flatiron Health, a startup analyzing real-time oncology data to help cancer patients and doctors, in a $1.9 billion deal. Flatiron has also confirmed the deal to TechCrunch. Two years ago, Roche led a $175 million deal in the startup at a $1.2 billion valuation. At the time of the deal, Roche agreed to buy several of Flatiron’s subscription-based software…

As tech automates, Blinkist keeps its book summary service very human

When I first heard of Blinkist, a service that breaks down recent nonfiction books to easily digestible snippets and audio, I was afraid it would turn out to be some machine-learning-driven auto-summary thing. But in talking to co-founder Niklas Jansen at Blinkist’s headquarters in Berlin, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the company is still very much people-powered — and in fact, that may be the root of its…

The plague of rationalization | TechCrunch

There are many reasons startups fail. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time and ran out of money. Unfortunately, the customers just didn’t care enough about our offering. Unfortunately, the channel just wasn’t economically efficient. Unfortunately, I had the wrong person running engineering (or marketing, sales, finance etc.). Unfortunately, we were screwed anyway so we just decided to throw a Hail Mary pass. Unfortunately, I thought layoffs would ruin morale,…

Lydia raises $16.1 million to become the PayPal of mobile payments

French startup Lydia is raising a $16.1 million round (€13 million) led by CNP Assurances with existing investors XAnge, New Alpha AM, Oddo BHF and Groupe Duval also participating. Lydia isn’t the first startup that wants to replace PayPal, and also probably not the last one. But it’s clear that the company is slowly becoming mainstream in France. The company first focused on Venmo-like peer-to-peer payments but is now branching…