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microsoft confirms plans for a new flagship store in regent street opposite apple

shopping may be turning into an increasingly virtual exercise, with people buying goods online and through apps, but there is no denying the power of a physical in-store experience — a lesson that microsoft is taking to heart. today the company announced it will be opening a new flagship store in london in regent street near oxford circus — just a stone’s (or an iphone’s) throw from the apple flagship store that saw a huge revamp a year ago.the area around oxford circus, which is at the intersection of oxford street and regent street, is one of the most high-profile shopping precincts in the world, so having a presence there underscores microsoft’s strategy to double down on retail.“we couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central london at oxford circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet,” said cindy rose, head of microsoft in the u.k. “we know our customers and fans, whether they are from london, the broader u.k. or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space. this will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”the announcement comes after a day of speculation about the new store, but also after what has seemed li...





walmart partners with smart lock maker august to test in-home delivery of packages and groceries

walmart announced today it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with august smart home devices, like the august doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep. this test will also include online grocery orders, which won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate.the retailer says it will soon start this test in the silicon valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service.the customers will utilize an august smart lock to allow delivery drivers a one-time entry into their home. by using these smart home devices, the customer can see the entire delivery process from start to end, beginning with a notification sent to their mobile device.the deliveries themselves are being handled by deliv – a service that walmart-owned sam’s club began testing last year for last mile deliveries in miami.the deliv driver will use a one-time passcode to enter the customer’s home with the package or grocery order, then put the cold and frozen groceries away, if need be.while august is the first smart home partner that walmart is working with on this effort, presumably, if the tests were successful, walmart would add other smart home device makers to the list of supported device in the future.the company didn’t say what this new service would cost, instead noting that pricing is something that the e...





baidu announces $1.5b fund to back self-driving car startups

baidu is putting some serious cash behind its self-driving car push after it announced a $1.5 billion fund that’s focused on backing autonomous driving tech companies.the chinese giant, best known for its internet search service and ai technology, has prioritized autonomous vehicles in a major way in recent years, so this comes as little surprise. baidu made its apollo self-driving car platform freely available to the auto industry earlier this year. that quickly picked up partners and it currently claims around 70, including hyundai, bosch, continental, nvidia, microsoft cloud, velodyne, tomtom, ucar and grab.now baidu — which is testing autonomous vehicles in both china and the u.s. — is doubling down with capital via this new fund, which it said will aim to support around 100 companies over the next three years.baidu also shipped a major update to apollo this week, which added five core capabilities to its platform: obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, high-definition (hd) maps and end-to-end deep learning.this is the second large-scale investment firm baidu has launched in recent times. last month, it uncorked a $1.5 billion fund in partnership with china life insurance group targeted at late-stage deals with companies with “significant association” with china.





database provider mongodb has filed to go public

mongodb, a database software company based in new york, has filed to go public with the securities and exchange commission as it continues to burn a ton of cash despite its revenue almost doubling year-over-year.the company, which provides open-source database software that became very attractive among early-stage startups, is one of a myriad of companies that have sought to go public by building a business around selling sophisticated tools for that software. the hope is that mongodb would be able to offer a superior experience for its open-source software and reduce the overall workload for companies that want to deploy its technology. cloudera also went public earlier this year.the company brought in $101.4 million in revenue in the most recent year ending january 31, and around $68 million in the first six months ending july 31 this year. in that same period, mongodb burned through $86.7 million in the year ending january 31 and $45.8 million in the first six months ending july 31. mongodb’s revenue is growing, and while its losses seem to be stable, they aren’t shrinking either.here’s the full revenue breakdown:in 2015, the company brought in $65.3 million in revenue on losses of $73.5 million. last year’s loss is a step up, but it isn’t a significant one — nor is it the same kind of accelerating burn that you’d see in a company looking to ramp up as it sets itself up to go public. the company’s losses in the first six months of this year are about the s...





east ventures closes new $30m fund to continue investing in indonesia

east ventures is back at it again with another new fund to invest in early-stage companies in indonesia, southeast asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country.this new $30 million fund is the firm’s sixth to date in southeast asia, and remarkably its second in 2017 alone. a $27.5 million fund announced in january was fully deployed in less than a year as outside interest in southeast asia blew up in 2017, with indonesia the focal point for investors like chinese web giants alibaba and tencent.east ventures is one of the region’s longest-serving seed investors, having been active since 2010, and it is one of the few to have actually returned funds — the ultimate factor that defines success in vc land.the data is certainly impressive.east ventures says 70 percent of series a-funded startups in indonesia bagged seed funding from the firm, while 83 percent of its 116 portfolio companies remain in business today.then there are some big gets. the firm has equity in four of the five unicorns in southeast asia:traveloka, which raised $350 million from expediatokopedia, which raised $1.1 billion led by alibabagrab, which acquired east ventures portfolio company kudo in januarygo-jek, which acquired east ventures portfolio company loket in augustthe plan is very much to continue with the investment focus on indonesia, although the firm said it may entertain deals in other countries in southeast asia further down the line.“from day one, indonesia...





zenefits tries a rebrand and hands off insurance brokerage

zenefits co-founder parker conrad was shown the door in february last year, paving the way for then-coo david sacks to take over the company and try to turn it around. after about a year of working on that, sacks stepped back and brought in jay fulcher as its new ceo, the former ceo of ooyala and agile software.since then, fulcher has been taking a heat test on the company and the brand, trying to re-orient it into something that’s seen as compliant and business-friendly — and away from the chaotic culture that it had under conrad. after taking a deep look into the guts of the company, fulcher and the company have come out today with two big announcements: first, the name isn’t going anywhere while the brand gets a makeover; and second, that it’s getting out of the insurance brokerage business and leaving that up to new partners. by doing that, zenefits hopes to become an all-in-one hr tool for small businesses while leaving insurance brokerage deals to partners.“we realized that digital brokerage in an online fashion and not in person is somewhat resonant with really small companies, but as you begin to go beyond that the digital brokerage value prop is not nearly as useful as having local, embedded brokers,”  fulcher said. “they can offer the consulting and expertise to walk them through a lot of complexity. at the end of the day, i think all the meetings we’re having, we were trying to wrestle with how do we [ramp up] a product we know is ready for prime t...





facebook and twitter play bigger role in congressional election-hacking probe

as congressional investigations into russia’s role in manipulating the election for u.s. president deepens, tech companies are assuming a more central role in the inquiries. both twitter and facebook are stepping up their efforts to cooperate with congressional investigations into russian interference with last year’s presidential election.for twitter, that means agreeing to a briefing with the senate intelligence committee chaired by virginia democrat mark warner next wednesday on the role foreign agents operating on the company’s social network may have played in influencing the election.meanwhile, facebook has agreed to release the 3,000 ads it had identified as having been purchased by accounts associated with a russian organization called the internet research agency (and which might have played a role in shaping results of the election).the moves are significant for several reasons. they underscore not just the central role these social media sites have played in political events, but also they highlight how that role may have been in part a negative and illegal one, rather than the exclusively positive and educative one that the sites would have you think.the moves also highlight the tensions that continue to exist — and will not soon disappear — between data privacy and proprietary platforms, and producing information when mandated by authorities and to what end those are justifiable requests.in a statement posted to facebook’s site, company general counse...





thoughts on facebook’s 9 plans to curb election interference

election meddling is facebook’s next adversary, and it’s got a plan to attack it just like it did with fake news. solutions to both these scourges come too late to prevent tampering that may have aided donald trump winning the presidency — but at least facebook is owning up to the problem, working with the government and starting to self-regulate. here’s the nine-point plan zuckerberg has devised to combat election interference, plus our commentary on each strategy’s potential.one: providing russian-bought ads to congress – “we are actively working with the us government on its ongoing investigations into russian interference. we have been investigating this for many months, and for a while we had found no evidence of fake accounts linked to russia running ads. when we recently uncovered this activity, we provided that information to the special counsel. we also briefed congress — and this morning i directed our team to provide the ads we’ve found to congress as well. as a general rule, we are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly. but we support congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete.”tc – facebook initially shared more information with special counsel robert mueller than congress, but after checking to make sure it won’t violat...





microsoft confirms plans for a new flagship store in regent street opposite apple

shopping may be turning into an increasingly virtual experience, with people buying goods online and through apps, but there is no denying the power of a physical in-store experience — a lesson that microsoft is taking to heart. today the company announced it will be opening a new flagship store in london in regent street near oxford circus — just a stone’s (or an iphone’s) throw from the apple flagship store that saw a huge revamp a year ago.the area around oxford circus, which is at the intersection of oxford street and regent street, is one of the most high-profile shopping precincts in the world, so having a presence there underscores microsoft’s strategy to double down on retail.“we couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central london at oxford circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet,” said cindy rose, head of microsoft in the u.k. “we know our customers and fans, whether they are from london, the broader u.k. or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space. this will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”the announcement comes after a day of speculation about the new store, but also after what has seemed ...





baidu announces $1.5b fund to back self-driving car startups

baidu is putting some serious cash behind its self-driving car push after it announced a $1.5 billion fund that’s focused on backing autonomous driving tech companies.the chinese giant, best known for its internet search service and ai technology, has prioritized autonomous vehicles in a major way in recent years so this comes as little surprise. baidu made its apollo self-driving car platform freely available to the auto industry earlier this year. that quickly picked up partners and it currently claims around 70, including hyundai, bosch, continental, nvidia, microsoft cloud, velodyne, tomtom, ucar and grab.now baidu — which is testing autonomous vehicles in both china and the u.s. — is doubling down with capital via this new fund, which it said will aim to support around 100 companies over the next three years.baidu also shipped a major update to apollo this week which added five additional core capabilities to its platform. those include obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, high-definition (hd) maps and end-to-end deep learning.this is the second large scale investment firm baidu has launched in recent times. last month, it uncorked a $1.5 billion fund in partnership with china life insurance group targeted at late-stage deals with companies with “significant association” with china.





database provider mongodb has filed to go public

mongodb, a database software company based in new york, has filed to go public with the securities and exchange commission as it continues to burn a ton of cash despite its revenue almost doubling year-over-year.the company, which provides open-source database software that became very attractive among early-stage startups, is one of a myriad of companies that have sought to go public by building a business around selling sophisticated tools for that software. the hope is that mongodb would be able to offer a superior experience for its open-source software and reduce the overall workload for companies that want to deploy its technology. cloudera also went public earlier this year.the company brought in $101.4 million in revenue in the most recent year ending january 31, and around $68 million in the first six months ending july 31 this year. in that same period, mongodb burned through $86.7 million in the year ending january 31 and $45.8 million in the first six months ending july 31. mongodb’s revenue is growing, and while its losses seem to be stable, they aren’t shrinking either.here’s the full revenue breakdown:[infogram id=”2f2ec422-57ce-48f2-ba55-794020063b30″ prefix=”zzs” format=”interactive” title=”mongodb”]in 2015, the company brought in $65.3 million in revenue on losses of $73.5 million. last year’s loss is a step up, but it isn’t a significant one — nor is it the same kind of accelerating burn that you’d see in a company looking to ...





east ventures closes new $30m fund to continue investing in indonesia

east ventures is back at it again with another new fund to invest in early-stage companies in indonesia, southeast asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country.this new $30 million fund is the firm’s sixth to date in southeast asia, and remarkably its second in 2017 alone. a $27.5 million fund announced in january was fully deployed in less than a year as outside interest in southeast asia blew up in 2017, with indonesia the focal point for investors like chinese web giants alibaba and tencent.east ventures is one of the region’s longest serving seed investors, having been active since 2010, and it is one of the few to have actually returned funds. the ultimate factor that defines success in vc land.the data is certainly impressive.east ventures says 70 percent of series a funded startups in indonesia bagged seed funding from the firm, while 83 percent of its 116 portfolio companies remain in business today.then there are some big gets.the firm has equity in four of the five unicorns in southeast asia:traveloka, which raised $350 million from expediatokopedia, which raised $1.1 billion led by alibabagrab, which acquired east ventures portfolio company kudo in januarygo-jek, which acquired east ventures portfolio company loket in augustthe plan is very much to continue with the investment focus on indonesia, although the firm said it may entertain deals in other countries in southeast asia further down the line.“from day one, indonesia is t...





london and antwerp-based hummingbird ventures closes new $95m fund

london and antwerp-based hummingbird ventures, which counts deliveroo and showpad in its portfolio, has closed a new $95 million fund to invest in tech startups at the “late seed and series a” stage.targeting europe and also further afield, having invested in more nascent ecosystems such as turkey, brazil and the continent of africa, the vc is particularly on the lookout for startups operating in the areas of marketplaces, gaming, saas and crypto. it typically invests between $500,000 and $5 million.in a post published on medium, hummingbird ventures founding partner barend vanden brande says the new fund — the vc’s third, not counting the $25 million “opportunities fund” it raised in 2014 for later-stage follow-on investments — was raised in just 40 days. its lps consist of 100+ private investors, including “entrepreneurs who built $1bn+ tech companies, strategic family offices and entrepreneurs who we once backed at seed stage”.he is also keen to point out that no tax-payer money has gone into the fund. “we did not rely on any special tax incentives or the eif’s of the world,” writes vanden brande.the hummingbird vc also reckons the fundraise could have been even larger, but that a decision was taken to cap it at $95 million. “firstly, we believe this segment looks crowded in europe, especially with u.s. funds swooping up many of the best european series b deals. but most importantly, we want to stay true to ourselves. our heart is in early stage i...





bose debuts new google assistant-optimized noise cancelling headphones

bose’s rumored qc 35 ii noise-cancelling headphones are rumored no more: bose made them official today, revealing the update to the company’s popular qc 35 premium noise-cancelling cans.google worked with bose to create the new headphones, the company explained in a new blog post, helping to “optimize” the audio accessory for assistant, google’s virtual helper software for iphone and android. the headphones have a dedicated assistant button, which users can push to call up the voice-based companion whenever they want.they don’t have assistant on board as a dedicated service, per se – instead, they integrate support for assistant-based offerings including incoming notifications, audio features like news briefings and voice commands for calling and music playback.assistant support will be available on the qc 35 ii in the u.s., australia, canada, germany, france and the uk, and the headset retails for $349 in the u.s. – the same price as the qc 35 that came before.google mentions in its blog post on the new partnership and integration that it’s been working with bose on assistant integration for headphones “starting with” the qc 35 ii, which implies that we could see this feature expand to even more of the bose line.





google cloud adds support for more powerful nvidia gpus

google cloud platform announced support for some powerful nvidia gpus on google compute engine today.for starters, the company is making nvidia k80 gpus generally available. at the same time, it’s launching support for nvidia p100 gpus in beta along with a new sustained pricing model.for companies working with machine learning workloads, having access to gpus in the cloud provides them with flexibility to pay for what they use with by the minute pricing, and the sustained pricing model means if they end up running the gpus for a sustained period of time, they get up to a 30 percent discount, depending on the usage. in other words, they don’t get whacked with a huge bill because they like the service.and google is claiming that this approach could provide bare metal kind of performance. “cloud gpus are offered in passthrough mode to provide bare-metal performance. attach up to 4 p100 or 8 k80 per vm (we offer up to 4 k80 boards, that come with 2 gpus per board),” google wrote in the blog post announcing the gpu support.what’s more, google is offering the flexibility to run gpu workloads in virtual machines or containers and they are delivering the service in four global locations.map: googlegoogle is seeing customers use this service for a variety of compute-intensive tasks such as genomics, computational finance and training and inference on machine learning models. the two different chips give teams the flexibility to choose the chips they need to optimally run the...





freight startup flexport soars from ‘unsexy’ to $800m valuation

advertisement flexport handles the boring logistics of a trillion-dollar business: the transport of shipping containers around the world. because the work of freight forwarding seemed so bland, it was long ignored by the tech world. but digitizing the paperwork let flexport speed up shipping so clients keep less inventory on hand while never running out.when you apply that optimization to how every container full of electronics, clothes or food gets from factory to store, flexport keeps getting smarter as the value piles up. that’s why just a year after raising $65 million at a valuation of $365 million, techcrunch has learned flexport has just closed a huge new round of funding, according to five sources.initially, flexport was receiving offers valuing it at over $1 billion, but turned those down in favor of a more manageable valuation. multiple sources now confirm that the startup has completed a $110 million series c at an $800 million pre-money valuation. the round is mostly filled with existing investors, including dst. flexport declined to comment for this story.what we’ve kept hearing is that flexport co-founder ryan petersen is a favorite amongst investors. “he’s a machine,” said one of techcrunch’s sources. after growing up buying scooters from china and fencing them online, he co-founded importgenius to scan and sell shipping manifest data about imports. that led him to realize how antiquated freight forwarding was, paving the way for flexport’s s...





ipsy launches its beauty product e-commerce business shopper as hit hits 3m subscribers

ipsy, a subscription service that delivers a collection of products to its users every month, has spent the last six years building up a community with millions of people obsessed with beauty products. and now that the company has more than 3 million subscribers — with a $10 per month subscription cost — it’s ready to get a little bit more aggressive by getting directly into e-commerce.ceo marcelo camberos said the company is launching shopper, a way for ipsy’s customers to buy products directly from the site rather than wait for them to show up in their monthly glam bag. now, instead of just waiting for the five beauty products in the mail every month, its users will be able to buy products from a myriad of brands on the site directly — opening up a much wider swath of the beauty industry to ipsy, which last raised $100 million about two years ago.“we’ve never envisioned ourselves as a subscription service, we envisioned ourselves as a disruptive beauty community,” camberos said. “our mission is to inspire individuals around the world to express their unique beauty. everything we do is about self-expression. the glam bag and everything else has all been super personalized from the beginning. when i came up with the name for the company, the legal name, it was personalized beauty discovery inc., it was always meant to be about personalized beauty.”and this kind of move is not only inspired by the opportunity to get into e-commerce but the company’s abili...





htc says it remains committed to vive and its own smartphones after $1.1b deal with google

mario queiroz and rick osterloh of google, htc ceo cher wang and cfo peter shen at today’s press conference at htc headquarters.the $1.1 billion cooperation deal announced today between htc and google ended months of speculation, but prompted new questions. chief among them is how exactly will the agreement affect htc, which has dealt with a series of setbacks and lackluster earnings over the past few years. in a press conference today at htc’s headquarters in xindian, new taipei city, the company said it remains committed to its own products, including smartphones and vive, and will continue developing them even after 2,000 htc employees—nearly a fifth of its current staff—move to google as part of the deal.chief executive officer and chairwoman cher wang and chief financial officer peter shen represented htc at the press event, while google was repped by rick osterloh, senior vice president of hardware, and mario queiroz, vice president of product management.the deal, which is expected to close by the beginning of next year pending regulatory approval, stipulates that htc will receive $1.1 billion in cash from google. about 2,000 htc employees, many of whom had been working on the pixel smartphone, will join google. in addition, google will enter a non-exclusive licensing agreement for htc intellectual property.wang said “google is a world-class company known for respecting talent and innovation. our agreement means that powered by htc, pixel’s dna will spread o...





learning effects, network effects, and runaway leaders

advertisement nick beimcontributornick beim is a partner at venrock and an investor in machine learning startups dataminr and intent media. more posts by this contributor: there’s a new economic force at work in the machine learning revolution that is capable of generating increasing returns to scale, much as network effects did in the internet revolution.this force is automated learning, and its business impact comes in the form of learning effects: the more a product learns, the more valuable it becomes.learning effects have the potential to generate enormous economic value, as network effects do, if companies are able to close this loop and make it self-reinforcing: that is, if their products learn more because they have become more valuable.this happens when more valuable products attract more users or customers, who provide more and richer data of the kind that enables machine learning models to make these products more valuable still, which attracts more users or customers still, and so on, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.just as network effects determined who the biggest winners of the internet revolution were, learning effects will determine who the biggest winners of the machine learning revolution will be.because they enable increasing returns to scale, they will similarly give rise to a set of companies that become runaway leaders – that are capable of pulling away from their competitors and continuing to increase their leads over time.offline origi...





apttus is putting artificial intelligence to work on contract management

it seems ai and machine learning are quickly becoming a must-have for today’s software. apttus, the quote-to-cash service is putting ai to work in contract processing in an effort to speed up a highly inefficient system and close sales faster.contracts have traditionally been a bottleneck in the sales process. as apttus ceo and company founder kirk krappe explains it, there are a series of decision points in the contract workflow and companies can use ai to help decide which way to go and which of these to prioritize.“organizations that combine contract management with artificial intelligence gain an ability to explicitly trade off considerations of risk, cycle time, cost and negotiation outcomes,” krappe told techcrunch.he says that having this ability will give a company’s executives greater flexibility to manage these decisions as they relate to broader corporate goals. “some organizations may value cost reduction, while others may prioritize risk reduction or maximizing sales growth,” he explained.“for this reason, applied ai in contract management has the potential to drive future growth and enhance productivity in all types of organizations. chief legal officers and legal operations directors must not ignore this development, and can embrace it as a way of enhancing their value and the value of their departments,” he said.in other words by applying intelligence to the contract process, these companies should work more efficiently, which should move the e...