Candlelites

Everything from Everywhere

TechCrunch

Latest headline news from TechCrunch with momentary update to provide the online news, world news, sports news, family news, health news, video news, national news, food news and politics news from TechCrunch.



altschool wants to change how kids learn, but fears have surfaced that it’s failing students

business insider recently reported that numerous families have grown frustrated with the education their children are receiving at altschool, an ambitious san francisco-based edtech company that four years ago began opening physical grade schools and promising a personalized learning approach that would far surpass the standardized education most kids receive.it’s not just parents who have growing concerns about altschool, however. educators also question whether altschool is the next best thing in education, or whether instead the for-profit company could hamper the prospects of the children with whom it works, and those it might impact down the road.seemingly, exasperation with altschool has been building over the last year. it was then that the company — which had originally touted plans to expand its network of schools and classrooms —  publicly switched gears, announcing it would instead license its nascent program to other schools that want to embrace more individualized techniques.frustration has more recently reached a boiling point, with one mother comparing her children to “guinea pigs” in conversation with bi.the term echoes conversations that we’ve also had with a handful of altschool families in recent months. at a september birthday party attended by numerous parents, one mother told us she’d pulled two children out of the program and placed them in a neighborhood public school; the rest of the parents in attendance said they were actively worki...





indian home healthcare platform portea medical raises $26m series c

portea medical founder and ceo meena ganeshportea medical, one of india’s biggest platforms for home healthcare visits, has raised $26 million in series c funding to expand its service range. the round was led by sabre partners and memg cdc, with participation from returning investors accel (which led portea’s series b two years ago), the world bank group’s international finance corporation and qualcomm ventures.portea has now raised a total of about $72.5 million. in a press statement, sabre partners founder and managing partner rajiv maliwal said portea medical “has played a key role in establishing the concept of consumer-led healthcare and we look forward to working with them as they continue to transform healthcare services in india beyond the hospital space.”the demand for home healthcare is growing quickly in india, thanks to factors like an aging population and social changes that means fewer working-age adults are able to serve as full-time caretakers for elderly relatives. some of portea medical’s main competitors include nightingales home health services, healthcare at home and care24.one of portea’s specialities is an eldercare plan that is billed annually, since assisted living communities are a relatively new concept in india. since its launch, it’s expanded its core offerings into three other segments: primary care, chronic disease management and post-operative care.portea partners with healthcare providers, including 50 hospitals, to enable hom...





aws ramps up in ai with new consultancy services and rekognition features

ahead of amazon’s big aws division re:invent conference next week, the company has announced two developments in the area of artificial intelligence. aws is opening a machine learning lab, ml solutions lab, to pair amazon machine learning experts with customers looking to build solutions using the ai tech. and it’s releasing new features within amazon rekognition, amazon’s deep learning-based image recognition platform: real-time face recognition and the ability to recognize text in images.the new lab and the enhancements to its image recognition platform underscore the push that amazon and aws are giving to ai at the company, both internally and as a potential area to grow its b2b business in this area. they come about a month after aws announced it would be collaborating with microsoft on gluon, a deep learning interface designed for developers to build and run machine learning models for their apps and other services.the fact that these two announcements were made today, a day before thanksgiving, makes me wonder if aws is laying groundwork for more ai news at re:invent, or if they are indicating that this will not be a focus as it has been in previous years. it was last year that amazon used re:invent to announce amazon ai, which is the division that will oversee the solutions lab.the ml solutions lab — which amazon said is available to any aws business support customer — is an interesting development because it points to amazon ramping up not just in ai, but i...





crunch report | uber’s data breach and apple’s self-driving cars

you are about to activate our facebook messenger news bot. once subscribed, the bot will send you a digest of trending stories once a day. you can also customize the types of stories it sends you. click on the button below to subscribe and wait for a new facebook message from the tc messenger news bot. thanks,tc team





facebook will show which russian election troll accounts you followed

facebook is building out a tool to show which facebook pages or instagram accounts associated with russia’s internet research agency election troll farm you liked or followed. launching by the end of the year as part of the facebook help center, the tool will show a list of all the ira accounts you followed.the ira is a group based in st. petersburg, russia with ties to the kremlin. it’s been exposed as an office organizing purposeful disinformation campaigns to disrupt the 2016 u.s. presidential election by sowing division in the country. facebook is now on a mission to thwart future election meddling, and be as transparent as possible about previous election interference.however, this tool will not show whether you saw ads or organic posts from the russian troll accounts. that’s important, because paid reach and reshared posts by other users are how many of the 146 million facebook and instagram users encountered election interference content. facebook has said 29 million americans saw russian troll content directly shared to their feeds, but 126 million total saw posts including reshares, with 10 million seeing ads. twenty million americans saw a combination of russian troll ads and direct posts on instagram.providing a list of all the individual russian interference posts a user saw or interacted with could be more useful. at the very least, this new tool could list accounts whose content users saw or clicked, even if they didn’t follow the account that created it...





altschool wants to change how kids learn, but fears have surfaced that it’s failing students

business insider recently reported that numerous families have grown frustrated with the education their children are receiving at altschool, an ambitious san francisco-based edtech company that four years ago began opening physical grade schools and promising a personalized learning approach that would far surpass the standardized education most kids receive.it’s not just parents who have growing concerns about altschool, however. educators also question whether altschool is the next best thing in education, or whether instead the for-profit company could hamper the prospects of the children with whom it works, and those it might impact down the road.seemingly, exasperation with altschool has been building over the last year. it was then that the company — which had originally touted plans to expand its network of schools and classrooms —  publicly switched gears, announcing it would instead license its nascent program to other schools that want to embrace more individualized techniques.frustration has more recently reached a boiling point, with one mother comparing her children to “guinea pigs” in conversation with bi.you got the right to be madthe term echoes conversations that we’ve also had with a handful of altschool families in recent months. at a september birthday party attended by numerous parents, one mother told us she’d pulled two children out of the program and placed them in a neighborhood public school; the rest of the parents in attendance sa...





the rise of spacs | techcrunch

david goldencontributordavid golden is a managing partner at revolution ventures. every few years efforts to redefine the ipo emerge, and as night follows day, investors get hurt and calls for tighter regulatory reform echo in legislative chambers and cable tv studios. the last significant “re-invention” emerged in the height of the dot-com boom when online brokers started selling newly issued shares directly to retail customers. we all know how that ended.flash forward one generation: a newly formed company called social capital hedosophia holdings recently sold $600 million of stock to a trusting public and heralded their achievement, which it trademarked no less, as “ipo 2.0.” their pitch is that young companies — even the current class of “unicorns” valued over $1 billion — have a very difficult time going public. instead, the argument goes, it is easier for them to become public by merging into an entity that is already public and, voila, the young company has become a public company without the headache of actually engaging in an ipo. perhaps a better moniker would have been “ipo 2.0-no.”social capital hedosophia is a “blank-check company.” that is, a corporation that has no specific business plan or purpose — other than to find a business and acquire it. given the press around the offering (and the “2.0” branding), one would have thought there was actually something new here. hardly.blank-check companies have been around for decades. ...





youtube tightens rules on kid-related content

youtube, that strange stew of the best and worst content on the web, is cracking down on abuse and error relating to kid-focused video. jokers and questionably ethical creators who targeted kids or used them in their videos will have a harder time getting viewers and getting money.the tendency of kids to watch a series of algorithmically suggested videos led some youtubers to attempt to slip their content into the designated kid-friendly streams. putting peppa pig in their video, for example, to get it recognized as featuring that friendly critter, then having peppa pig visit a slaughterhouse or something. funny if you’re a bored teen, but not if you’re youtube’s ad department.content with kids in it but not for kids has also been a problem. i don’t know why 150 million people want to watch a little girl cry through a blood-filled mouth for two minutes, and i don’t want to know. but it’s probably not the kind of thing you want queued up for the little ones.in order to combat this “growing trend,” google is battening down the hatches around kid-friendly content in a handful of ways:stricter content control. now on warning: “content featuring minors that may be endangering a child, even if that was not the uploader’s intent” (that would be the mouthful of blood people) and “content with family entertainment characters but containing mature themes or adult humor.”demonetizing shady kid stuff. peppa pig goes to the ham factory won’t be getting any ad d...





aws ramps up in ai with new consultancy services and rekognition features

ahead of amazon’s aws division big re:invent conference next week, the company has announced two developments in the area of artificial intelligence. aws is opening a machine learning lab, ml solutions lab, to pair amazon machine learning experts with customers looking to build solutions using the ai tech. and it’s releasing news feature within amazon rekognition, amazon’s deep-learning-based image recognition platform: real-time face recognition and the ability to recognise text in images.the new lab and the enhancements to its image recognition platform underscore the push that amazon and aws are giving to ai at the company, both internally and as a potential area to grow its b2b business in this area. they come about a month after aws announced it would be collaborating with microsoft on gluon, a deep learning interface designed for developers to build and run machine learning models for their apps and other services.the fact that these two announcements were made today, a day before thanksgiving, makes me wonder if aws is laying groundwork for more ai news at re:invent, or if they are indicating that this will not be a focus as it has been in previous years. it was actually last year that amazon used re:invent to announce amazon ai, which is the division that will oversee the solutions lab.the solutions lab — which amazon said is available to any aws business support customer — is an interesting development because it points to amazon ramping up not just in ai,...





minted rolls out an on-demand photography service for around $100 per session

when you go through a big life event — say a milestone birthday for a parent or a wedding — there are probably going to be a lot of mini-events that happen before and after the big one. but you might not think to hire a professional photographer for them and stick with a couple phone cameras because it can be tough to find those photographers.so minted, a company that’s been around for quite a while and traditionally known for cards and stationery, is now launching a service to streamline that process and make it easy to summon a skilled photographer to document events like those. though the process might be tied closely with, say, family portraits, it’s pretty easy to see how getting a photographer quickly ahead of a life event that there’s a good chance has a higher level of skill than you with your iphone could convince people to pull out their wallets.minted users can pay around $100 to book a 30-minute session with a photographer on minted’s platform, which vets its photographers to make sure they can deliver a certain level of quality. the photographers more or less have some creative freedom, but the important thing the company stresses is that they fit what the customers want. users go through a short quiz or survey to ask what they might want as part of their photos — like what kinds of poses, or the photo effects at the end — and then it goes from there. after that, they’ll get retouched photos within a few days, as well as suggestions for things l...





facebook will show which russian election troll accounts you followed

facebook is building out a tool to show which facebook pages or instagram accounts associated with russia’s internet research agency election troll farm you liked or followed. launching by the end of the year as part of the facebook help center, the tool will show a list of all the ira accounts you followed.the ira is a group based in st. petersburg, russia with ties to the kremlin. it’s been exposed as an office organizing purposeful disinformation campaigns to disrupt the us 2016 presidential election by sowing division in the country. facebook is now on a mission to thwart future election meddling, and be as transparent as possible about previous election interferencehowever, this tool will not show whether you saw ads or organic posts from the russian troll accounts. that’s important because paid reach and reshared posts by other users are how many of the 146 million facebook and instagram users encountered election interference content. facebook has said 29 million americans saw russian troll content directly shared to their feeds, but 126 million total saw posts including reshares, with 10 million seeing ads. 20 million americans saw a combination of russian troll ads and direct posts on instagram.providing a list of all the individual russian interference posts a user saw or interacted with could be more useful. at the very least, this new tool could list accounts whose content users saw or clicked, even if they didn’t follow the account that created it. but fa...





fcc releases final draft of ‘restoring internet freedom,’ which would not do that

the fcc yesterday announced a december 14 vote on “restoring internet freedom,” an order that, far from restoring freedom to the internet, which is already free, would allow it to be restricted in new and harmful ways. actually, when you think of it as restoring internet freedom to isps and cable companies, it makes a lot more sense. at any rate the commission has released the text of the order ahead of the vote, as promised.it was just put out half an hour ago and it’s about 200 pages long, so it’ll take some time for me and others to sift through it and find out what kind of changes have been made since the draft circulated in late summer.although an fcc representative yesterday said that “we addressed all the serious comments,” that can’t quite be true, since the core of the order is still intact: remove broadband’s telecommunications designation, removing the statutory authority for the 2015 rules (title ii of the communications act), and returning to a “light touch” regulatory framework under which isps will be permitted within reason to throttle and prioritize traffic. lots of other little presents for the telecoms in there, too.there will be some new information in this revised draft, however: the wording of its highly questionable definition of broadband as an information service could figure into its legal future, for instance, as would any indication of plans to preempt state regulations, which those states may not agree with.any substantive chan...





net neutrality advocates plan protests for december 7 at verizon stores

on december 14, the fcc will vote on whether or not to roll back obama-era policies protecting a free and open internet. in fact, during yesterday’s announcement of the upcoming vote, the fcc neglected to mention the historic 22 million comments on the issue, the majority of which were opposed to its rollback.in response, protests are being held on december 7 at verizon retail stores across the country. the protests were organized by demand progress, fight for the future, and freepress action fund.here’s what the protest organizers have to say on their event page:ajit pai is clearly still working for verizon, not the public. but he still has to answer to congress. so we’re calling on our lawmakers to do their job overseeing the fcc and speak out against ajit pai’s plan to gut title ii net neutrality protections and give verizon and other giant isps everything on their holiday wishlist.if you need a quick refresher on net neutrality, check out john oliver’s explainer below or go in-depth with this post from techcrunch writer devin coldewey.the long story short on net neutrality is that it protects consumers and the internet from isps who might want to create internet ‘fast lanes’ for content or websites that they prefer or that pay them more.so why protest at verizon stores?fcc chairman ajit pai used to work for verizon as associate general counsel before landing at the federal communications commission. verizon has also been a staunch opponent to net neutrality,...





altschool wants to change how kids learn, but fears that it’s failing students are surfacing

earlier this week, business insider reported that numerous families have grown frustrated with the education their children are receiving at altschool, an ambitious san francisco-based ed tech company that four years ago began opening physical grade schools and promising a personalized learning approach that would far surpass the standardized education most kids receive.it’s not just parents who have growing concerns about altschool, however. educators also question whether altschool is the next best thing in education, or whether instead the for-profit company could hamper the prospects of the children with which it works, and those it might impact down the road.seemingly, exasperation with altschool has been building over the last year. it was then that the company — which had originally touted plans to expand its network of schools and classrooms —  publicly switched gears, announcing it would instead license its nascent program to other schools that want to embrace more individualized techniques.frustration has more recently reached a boiling point, with one mother comparing her children to “guinea pigs” in conversation with bi.you got the right to be madthe term echoes conversations that we’ve also had with a handful of altschool families in recent months. at a september birthday party attended by numerous parents, one mother told us she’d pulled two children out of the program and placed them in a neighborhood public school; the rest of the parents in a...





apple’s thanksgiving ad is mostly about the airpods

every year, apple airs a new ad in the u.s. for thanksgiving. compared to other apple ads, this is less about showing product features and more like a greeting card.this year is no different — you still see a lot of airpods. apple’s new ad is called “sway” and takes place in the streets of prague. a woman starts playing sam smith’s “palace” on her white iphone x with her airpods.she then ends up in an alternate reality where she can dance around people without getting noticed. she bumps into a man, hands him an airpod and starts dancing with him under the snow.fun fact: these two dancers are married in real life.





ten years on: seedcamp outs new £41m seed fund and says it’s ready to invest in tokens

advertisement “the maturity of founders is just exponentially better and different from when we started in ‘07,” says seedcamp co-founder and managing partner reshma sohoni. “[they are] so much more knowledgeable, so much more practiced in the art of starting up”.i’m on a conference call with sohoni, seedcamp’s other managing partner carlos espinal, and three additional members of the seecamp team. all are sounding buoyant, and perhaps with every reason to be so. the london-based vc firm recently sold its first two funds to draper esprit, and today is announcing the first close of a new £41 million fund, double the size of its last. this year the vc is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary.yes, a whole decade has passed since seedcamp launched what was then the first pan-european accelerator, at times almost singlehandedly dragging the disparate european startup community into the same room. in those ten years, the pre-seed and seed investor has backed over 250 early-stage companies, most notably transferwise, and has seen 22 exits in total. the seedcamp model has also had to iterate considerably as the ecosystem has grown up around it.“while what we were offering worked well with the ambitions of ten years ago, you have to evolve your offering to meet the ambitions of today,” says sohoni.no longer an accelerator, applications for pre-seed funding are accepted on a rolling basis. with this fourth fund, seedcamp will be writing bigger cheques, too. i...





facebook’s ad system shown failing to enforce its own anti-discriminatory policy

can facebook be trusted to abide by even its own stated standards? in the case of internet political advertising the social giant wants to be allowed to continue to self regulate — despite the scandal of russian bought socially divisive ads which (we now know) were tainting democratic discussion during the 2016 us presidential election (and beyond).‘don’t regulate us, we can regulate ourselves — honest!‘ is shaping up to be ceo mark zuckerberg’s massively moonshot new year project for 2018.but results from a new propublica investigation suggest the tech giant is failing at even simple self-policing — undermining any claims it can responsibly manage the bad and even out-and-out illegal outcomes that are being enabled via its platform, and bolstering the case for more formal regulation.case in point: a year ago facebook said it would disable ethnic affinity ad targeting for housing, employment and credit-related ads, following a propublica investigation that had suggested the platform’s ad-targeting capabilities could be used for discriminatory advertising — particularly in housing and employment, where such practices are illegal.this month propublica checked in again, to see how facebook is doing — by purchasing dozens of rental housing ads and asking that facebook’s ad platform exclude groups that are protected from discrimination under the us federal fair housing act — such as african americans and jews.its test ads promoted a fictional apartment fo...





lyft gets approval to test self-driving cars on public roads in california

lyft is the latest company to be added to the ever-growing list of those permitted to test their self-driving technology on california state public roads. the california department of motor vehicles added lyft to the list recently (via axios), following lyft’s foundation of a self-driving technology development center earlier this year, and its announcement that it would work on both its own autonomous tech and with automaker and other partners.the fact that the ride hailing provider secured an autonomous vehicle testing permit from the state dmv could suggest it’s ready to start testing its own vehicles and technology on roads very soon. the company has previously discussed pilot projects with a number of autonomous technology partners to debut self-driving vehicles working on its platform, including with fellow dmv list member drive.ai, but this would seem to suggest it’ll take a more active role in the vehicle technology itself in the near future.other permit holders include lyft rival uber, potential rival (and partner) waymo, automakers including mercedes-benz, tesla and ford, just to name a few.





senator schatz on net neutrality: “this has to be a real political movement”

following the news yesterday morning that the fcc will be voting on the proposal to kill net neutrality come december 14, officials and advocacy organizations have been issuing statements left and right decrying the impending upending of the internet as we know it. senator brian schatz (d-hi) is among them, but took a moment to talk with techcrunch about his misgivings in a bit more detail.“we’re not surprised, but we are disappointed,” he said. “i’ve spoken with the commissioner numerous times on this and i’d hoped he would take a less partisan path.”“partisan” may strike some as a strange description for an issue that is largely one concerning technical details and legal precedents, but if net neutrality was ever merely an issue of bits and bytes, it has become a politically charged one over the last few years. commissioner pai’s own repeated insistence that the 2015 rules were a plot by the obama administration confirm that he and his team consider it so, as well.“people in the tech community may not like politics because it seems less interesting or less pure than what they’re doing,” said senator schatz. “but you see the result of not caring about politics. this is no longer an abstract problem.”we can generate a lot of emails and that’s great. but the moment those emails are converted to votes, we win.it’s perhaps unfair to say that the tech world doesn’t participate in politics: most internet-reliant companies (as opposed to internet...





uk budget courts tech sector with $663m in investments in ai, 5g networks and more

with the uk government continuing to face down criticism over how it is handling plans to remove the uk from the european union, today the country’s chancellor philip hammond delivered an annual autumn budget that underscored its continuing push to win over the tech world.in a wide-ranging speech laying out proposals for investment and taxes for individuals and businesses, the government laid out its commitment to innovation, and specifically artificial intelligence (ai), immersive technology, driverless cars, life sciences and fintech. among the initiatives: a range of investments for new technologies like ai and 5g that add up to over £500 million ($663 million); wider tax breaks and other schemes to bring more investment into the sector; and laying the groundwork for making it easier to build and test new technology in the uk, such as new rules that will let companies test self-driving cars without safety operators.“a new tech business is funded every hour and i want that to be every half hour,” hammond said in his speech. “so today we invest over £500 million in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to  5g and full-fibre broadband.”the budget’s tech developments come a week after hammond and prime minister theresa may unveiled £80 million in tech programs, along with an expansion of its work visa scheme for highly-skilled people.as with that news, the uk government is aiming to reassure tech companies, those who are building them and working...