Not far from Tel Aviv a drone flies low over a gritty landscape of warehouses and broken pavement. It slowly approaches its home – a refrigerator-sized box inside a mesh fence, and hovers, preparing to dock. It descends like some giant bug, whining all the way, and disappears into its base where it will be cleaned, recharged, and sent back out into the air. This drone is doing the nearly impossible: it’s flying and landing autonomously and can fly again and again without human intervention and it’s doing it all inside a self-contained unit that is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.
The company that makes the drone, Airobotics, invited us into their headquarters to see their products in action. In this video we talk with the company about how the drones work, how their clients use the drones for mapping and surveillance in hard-to-reach parts of the world, and the future of drone autonomy. It’s a fascinating look into technology that will soon be appearing in jungles, deserts, and war zones near you.
French startup Ledger has been working for a while on a brand new app to manage your crypto assets on your computer. The company is designing and manufacturing one of the most secure hardware wallets out there.
While it’s clear that security has always been the first focus of the company, the user experience has been lacking, especially on the software front. The company launched a new app called Ledger Live to handle everything you used to do with Chrome apps before.
That’s right, before today, the company relied on Google Chrome for its desktop apps. You had to install the browser first, and then install a new app for each cryptocurrency. There was also a main app to update the firmware. It could quickly become a mess.
Now, everything is centralized in a single app. After downloading and installing the app on Windows, macOS or Linux, you can either configure the app with an existing Ledger device or configure a new Ledger wallet.
The app first checks the integrity of your device and then lets you manage the device. You can upgrade the firmware and install apps on your Ledger Nano S or Ledger Blue from the “Manager” tab.
More interestingly, you can now add all your wallets to the Ledger Live app. You won’t have to switch from one app to another to view your wallets. When you click the add button, the app will try and retrieve existing wallets on your device. You can also generate a new set of keys (and a new wallet) from there.
Once you’ve added all your wallets, you can get an overview of your entire portfolio. The app gets historical pricing information from popular exchanges, such as Kraken and Bitfinex. You can also click on individual accounts to see how a specific cryptocurrency has evolved over time.
The portfolio interface looks like a Coinbase account. It’s well-designed and it’s a great way to get a quick look of your accounts.
Many Ledger users have been using tracker websites and apps. These services let you enter a cryptocurrency and the amount you own to get an overview of everything you own independently of the wallet.
Ledger’s new app partially replace tracker services. If you don’t need to check your balance from your phone, you can get enough information with the Ledger app. You can see your balance without having to plug your Ledger device.
The company is already working on new features. You’ll be able to view and manager ERC20 tokens in the future. So if you invested in a bunch of obscure ICOs, your tokens will be there too.
Ledger also told me that you could imagine an integration with decentralized exchanges eventually. This way, you would be able to send tokens to an address and get another set of tokens back on another Ledger-generated address. It would be a great way to exchange cryptocurrencies without signing up to a centralized exchange and leaving the Ledger app.
Folks riding the OnePlus bandwagon will be pleased to learn that the phone maker today introduced a red version of the OnePlus 6.
The company is calling the phone the OnePlus 6 Red, and the new model follows on the success of the OnePlus 5T Lava Red.
Here’s what OnePlus CEO Pete Lau had to say in a statement:
Deciding on this color was not without its challenges. We see individual colors as a way to express certain feelings or ideas. To us, red exudes enthusiasm and personality. It also represents an inner confidence and courage. There is a kind of power in red, which the OnePlus logo has always tried to articulate. We hope you feel similarly empowered when you hold the OnePlus 6 Red this summer.
The OnePlus 6 debuted in May with a starting price of $529. Specs include a 6.28-inch display at a 19:9 aspect ratio, a Snapdragon 845 chip, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and Oxygen OS on the front end.
And there we have it: Bird, one of the emerging massively hyped Scooter startups, has roped in its next pile of funding by picking up another $300 million in a round led by Sequoia Capital.
The company announced the long-anticipated round this morning, with Sequoia’s Roelof Botha joining the company’s board of directors. This is the second round of funding that Bird has raised over the span of a few months, sending it from a reported $1 billion valuation in May to a $2 billion valuation by the end of June. In March, the company had a $300 million valuation, but the Scooter hype train has officially hit a pretty impressive inflection point as investors pile on to get money into what many consider to be the next iteration of resolving transportation at an even more granular level than cars or bikes. New investors in the round include Accel, B Capital, CRV, Sound Ventures, Greycroft and e.ventures; previous investors Craft Ventures, Index Ventures, Valor, Goldcrest, Tusk Ventures and Upfront Ventures are also in the round. (So, basically everyone else who isn’t in competitor Lime.)
Scooter mania has captured the hearts of Silicon Valley and investors in general — including Paige Craig, who actually jumped from VC to join Bird as its VP of business — with a large amount of capital flowing into the area about as quickly as it possibly can. These sort of revolving-door fundraising processes are not entirely uncommon, especially for very hot areas of investment, though the scooter scene has exploded considerably faster than most. Bird’s round comes amid reports of a mega-round for Lime, one of its competitors, with the company reportedly raising another $250 million led by GV, and Skip also raising $25 million.
“We have met with over 20 companies focused on the last-mile problem over the years and feel this is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that can have a big impact in the world,” CRV’s Saar Gur, who did the deal for the firm, said. “We have a ton of conviction that this team has original product thought (they created the space) and the execution chops to build something extremely valuable here. And we have been long-term focused, not short-term focused, in making the investment. The ‘hype’ in our decision (the non-zero answer) is that Bird has built the best product in the market and while we kept meeting with more startups wanting to invest in the space — we kept coming back to Bird as the best company. So in that sense, the hype from consumers is real and was a part of the decision. On unit economics: We view the first product as an MVP (as the company is less than a year old) — and while the unit economics are encouraging, they played a part of the investment decision but we know it is not even the first inning in this market.”
There’s certainly an argument to be made for Bird, whose scooters you’ll see pretty much all over the place in cities like Los Angeles. For trips that are just a few miles down wide roads or sidewalks, where you aren’t likely to run into anyone, a quick scan of a code and a hop on a Bird may be worth the few bucks in order to save a few minutes crossing those considerably long blocks. Users can grab a bird that they see and start going right away if they are running late, and it does potentially alleviate the pressure of calling a car for short distances in traffic, where a scooter may actually make more sense physically to get from point A to point B than a car.
Devices like smartphones ought to help people feel safer, but if you’re in real danger the last thing you want to do is pull out your phone, go to your recent contacts and type out a message asking a friend for help. The Women’s Safety XPRIZE just awarded its $1 million prize to one of dozens of companies attempting to make a safety wearable that’s simple and affordable.
The official challenge was to create a device costing less than $40 that can “autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert while transmitting information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds.”
Anu and Naveen Jain, the entrepreneurs who funded the competition, emphasized the international and very present danger of sexual assault in particular.
“Women’s safety is not just a third world problem; we face it every day in our own country and on our college campuses,” said Naveen Jain in the press release announcing the winner. “It’s not a red state problem or a blue state problem but a national problem.”
“Safety is a fundamental human right and shouldn’t be considered a luxury for women. It is the foundation in achieving gender equality,” added Anu Jain.
Out of dozens of teams that entered, five finalists were chosen in April: Artemis, Leaf Wearables, Nimb & SafeTrek, Saffron and Soterra. All had some variation on a device that either detected or was manually activated during an attack or stressful situation, alerting friends to one’s location.
The winner was Leaf, which had the advantage of having already shipped a product along these lines, the Safer pendant. Like any other Bluetooth accessory, it keeps in touch with your smartphone wirelessly and when you press the button twice your emergency contacts are alerted to your location and need for help. It also records audio, possibly providing evidence later or a deterrent to harassers who might fear being identified.
“These devices were tested in many conditions by the judges to ensure that they will work in real-life cases where women face dangers today. They were tested in no-connectivity areas, on public transit, in basements of buildings, among other environments,” explained Anu Jain to TechCrunch. “Having the capability to record audio after sending the alert was one of the main differentiators for Leaf Wearables. Their chip design and software was also easy to be integrated into other accessories.”
Hopefully the million dollars and the visibility from winning the prize will help Leaf get its product out to people who need it. The runners-up don’t seem likely to give up on the problem, either. And it seems like the devices will only get better and cheaper — not that this will change the world on its own.
“Prices will come down as the sensor prices drop. In many countries it will require community support to be built,” continued Jain. “These technologies can act as a deterrent but in the long term culture of violence again women must change.”
CEO David Mandelbrot is in Shenzhen, China this week to announce the program, which is designed to help Chinese entrepreneurs reach a global audience. In an email, he told me:
The China Pilot Program is officially out of pilot phase — today, we are officially launching the Indiegogo Global Fast Track. During the pilot phase, the team experimented with different ways to help service Chinese brands and manufacturers who were looking to launch products overseas. After helping companies raise over $100 million and launch over 3,000 China-based projects over two years time, the team has finalized its new suite of services.
Those services include guidance around crowdfunding and marketing in the United States and other countries, access to a network of more than 65 service providers (including retailers and marketing firms, as well as Indiegogo’s manufacturing partner Arrow Electronics and shipping partner Ingram Micro) and Chinese-to-English consultation with bilingual staff.
Even while in the pilot phase, Indiegogo has had some success stories in helping Chinese companies launch globally. For example, Bluetooth headphone company crazybaby raised more than $4 million across three campaigns.
The Europas Unconference & Awards is back on 3 July in London and we’re excited to announce more speakers and panel sessions as the event takes shape. Crypto and Blockchain will be a major theme this year, and we’re bringing together many of the key players. TechCrunch is once again the key media partner, and if you attend The Europas you’ll be first in the queue to get offers for TC events and Disrupt Europe later in the year.
You can also potentially get your ticket for free just by sharing your own ticket link with friends and followers. See below for the details and instructions.
To recap, we’re jumping straight into our popular breakout sessions where you’ll get up close and personal with some of Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders.
The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.
Our Crypto HQ will feature two tracks of panels, one focused on investing and the other on how blockchain is disrupting everything from financial services, to gaming, to social impact to art.
We’ve lined up some of the leading blockchain VCs to talk about what trends and projects excite them most, including Outlier Ventures’ Jamie Burke, KR1’s George McDonaugh, blockchain angel Nancy Fenchay, Fabric Ventures’ Richard Muirhead and Michael Jackson of Mangrove Capital Partners.
Thinking of an ICO vs crowdfunding? Join Michael Jackson on how ICOs are disrupting venture capital and Ali Ganjavian, co-founder of Studio Banana, the creators of longtime Kickstarter darling OstrichPillow to understand the ins and outs of both.
We’ve also lined up a panel to discuss the process of an ICO – what do you need to consider, the highs, the lows, the timing and the importance of community. Linda Wang, founder and CEO of Lending Block, which recently raised $10 million in an April ICO, joins us.
We are thrilled to announce that Civil, the decentralised marketplace for sustainable journalism, will be joining to talk about the rise of fake news and Verisart’s Robert Norton will share his views on stamping out fraud in the art world with blockchain. Min Teo of ConsenSys will discuss blockchain and social impact and Jeremy Millar, head of Consensys UK, will speak on Smart Contracts.
Our Pathfounders Startup Zone is focused purely on startups. Our popular Meet the Press panel is back where some of tech’s finest reporters will tell you what makes a great tech story, and how to pitch (and NOT pitch them). For a start, TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear and Quartz’s Joon Ian Wong are joining.
You’ll also hear from angels and investors including Seedcamp’s Carlos Eduardo Espinal; Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital; Accel Partners’ Andrei Brasoveanu; Jeremy Yap; Candice Lo of Blossom Capital; Scott Sage of Crane Venture Partners; Tugce Ergul of Angel Labs; Stéphanie Hospital of OneRagtime; Connect Ventures’ Sitar Teli and Jason Ball of Qualcomm Ventures.
Sound great? You can grab your ticket here:
Early bird ticket sales end on Friday! Remember, you can end up getting your ticket for free.
All you need to do is share your personal ticket link. Your friends get 15% off, and you get 15% off again when they buy.
The more your friends buy, the more your ticket cost goes down, all the way to free!
The Public Voting in the awards ends 11 June 2018 11:59: https://theeuropas.polldaddy.com/s/theeuropas2018
We’re still looking for sponsor partners to support these editorially curated panels.
Please get in touch with Petra@theeuropas.com for more details.
SPEAKERS SO FAR:
Jamie Burke, Outlier Ventures
Jeremy Millar, ConsenSys
Linda Wang, Lending Block
Robert Norton, Verisart
George McDonaugh, KR1
Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital
Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp
Sitar Teli, Connect Ventures
Michael Jackson, Mangrove Capital Partners
Min Teo, ConsenSys
Steve O’Hear, TechCrunch
Joon Ian Wong, Quartz
Richard Muirhead, Fabric Ventures
Nancy Fechnay, Blockchain Technologist + Angel
Candice Lo, Blossom Capital
Scott Sage, Crane Venture Partners
Andrei Brasoveanu, Accel
Tina Baker, Jag Shaw Baker
Candice Lo, Blossom Capital
Tugce Ergul, Angel Labs
Stéphanie Hospital, OneRagtime
Jason Ball, Qualcomm Ventures
The Europas Awards
The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers.
Klevio, a smart home startup out of the U.K., is officially launching its first product: a smart intercom system that lets you control your front door lock via an iOS and Android app on your phone and remotely.
Dubbed “Klevio One,” the device is designed to be retrofitted to existing electric strike-enabled locks, and also interfaces with intercom systems found on the communal doors of apartment blocks. This, say its makers, means that it is better suited to flats than smart locks already on the market.
In a call with Klevio co-founder and CEO Aleš Špetič, he explained that the approach the London-based company has taken is different to smart locks that typically use a motor to turn the lock and require tearing out and replacing your existing lock. In contrast, if you already have an electric strike as part of your lock — which a lot of apartments do — the Klevio One can simply be wired to interface with it. If you don’t, a Klevio installer can fit one to your existing lock for you.
This major upside of this approach is that Klevio isn’t re-inventing the whole wheel, but taking years old, tried and tested electric strike technology, and simply adding smart connectivity to it.
It means the Klevio One works with multiple doors and there’s no need to modify the communal area of apartment buildings when installing it, since the device is located within an individual apartment. You can also still use your old physical keys as a backup, and the company says the use of Klevio won’t be obvious to anyone outside the building.
And as you’d expect, the Klevio system is cloud-connected so that you can control your lock remotely, and issue virtual and one-time use keys. It comes in a WiFi only version, and a subscription version with added 4G.
The startup’s back story is noteworthy, too. The Klevio’s original concept and eureka moment came at Onefinestay, the ‘upscale Airbnb’ acquired by Accor in 2016. After the exit, Onefinestay co-founder Demetrios Zoppos teamed up with CubeSensors’ Aleš Špetič and Marko Mrdjenovič to start the new company, including purchasing the needed patents from Onefinestay.
In addition, Onefinestay co-founder Greg Marsh is an investor in Klevio, alongside LocalGlobe’s partner Robin Klein (who I’m told has invested in a personal capacity). To date Klevio has raised £1.2 million in funding.
Meanwhile, Špetič tells me that prior to today’s wider launch — where it can be ordered via the Klevio website — the Klevio One has been piloted with 1,000 users across London.
Disrupt SF is set to be the biggest tech conference that TechCrunch has ever hosted. So it only makes sense that we plan an agenda fit for the occasion.
That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that Ring’s Jamie Siminoff will join us on stage for a fireside chat and Jason Mars from Clinc will be demo-ing first-of-its-kind technology on the Disrupt SF stage.
Jamie Siminoff – Ring
Earlier this year, Ring became Amazon’s second largest acquisition ever, selling to the behemoth for a reported $1 billion.
But the story begins long ago, with Jamie Siminoff building a WiFi-connected video doorbell in his garage in 2011. Back then it was called DoorBot. Now, it’s called Ring, and it’s an essential piece of the overall evolution of e-commerce.
As giants like Amazon move to make purchasing and receiving goods as simple as ever, safe and reliable entry into the home becomes critical to the mission. Ring, which has made neighborhood safety and home security its main priority since inception, is a capable partner in that mission.
Of course, one doesn’t often build a successful company and sell for $1 billion on their first go. Prior to Ring, Siminoff founded PhoneTag, the world’s first voicemail-to-text company and Unsubscribe.com. Both of those companies were sold. Based on his founding portfolio alone, it’s clear that part of Siminoff’s success can be attributed to understanding what consumers need and executing on a solution.
Dr. Jason Mars – Clinc
AI has the potential to change everything, but there is a fundamental disconnect between what AI is capable of and how we interface with it. Clinc has tried to close that gap with its conversational AI, emulating human intelligence to interpret unstructured, unconstrained speech.
Clinc is currently targeting the financial market, letting users converse with their bank account using natural language without any pre-defined templates or hierarchical voice menus.
But there are far more applications for this kind of conversational tech. As voice interfaces like Alexa and Google Assistant pick up steam, there is clearly an opportunity to bring this kind of technology to all facets of our lives.
At Disrupt SF, Clinc’s founder and CEO Dr. Jason Mars plans to do just that, debuting other ways that Clinc’s conversational AI can be applied. Without ruining the surprise, let me just say that this is going to be a demo you won’t want to miss.
French startup Tempow has raised a $4 million funding round. Balderton Capital led the round, with C4 Ventures also participating. The company has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol to make it more versatile.
Smartphones, speakers and connected devices all use Bluetooth in one way or another. There are only a handful of Bluetooth chipset manufacturers in the world, such as Qualcomm and Broadcom. While Bluetooth chips have become incredibly efficient as they use much less power than they used to, it’s been stagnant on the software front.
Tempow is a software company that wants to rewrite the Bluetooth stack from scratch. The company started with an audio profile.
Thanks to Tempow’s technology, you can connect a phone to multiple Bluetooth speakers at once. This is just a software improvement — it works with standard Bluetooth chipsets and all Bluetooth audio devices out there.
Lenovo liked this idea and licensed the technology for its Moto X4 handset. More than 5 million devices with Tempow’s Bluetooth stack have been sold.
With today’s funding round, the startup wants to tackle more use cases. For instance, Tempow wants to optimize the pairing process, enhance the security of the protocol and work on battery consumption. “Maybe you could pay using Bluetooth instead of NFC,” co-founder and CEO Vincent Nallatamby told me.
At the same time, the startup is negotiating with multiple manufacturers. You can expect to see Tempow’s technology in more devices in the future.
The company currently has 7 patents pending and just got its first patent last week. Eventually, Tempow thinks it can build a team of Bluetooth experts who push the protocol forward.