French e-grocery app Jow raises $7M additional funding – TechCrunch

Jow, the French e-grocery app — which combines recipes, recommendations and online grocery ordering — has raised $7 million in new funding.

The round is led by Stride.VC, alongside Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström from Yes VC, and Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Zola. Previous seed backers, DST global partners and eVentures, also participated.

Launched in 2018 and now supporting five of France’s leading grocery retailers (Monoprix, Carrefour, Auchan, Chronodrive, and E.Leclerc), Jow’s app claims to let you complete your weekly online food shop in as little as a minute (once you’ve been on-boarded, of course).

It does this by creating customised menus, tailored to each user and household, and then automatically fills your online shopping cart with the required ingredients. The idea is to answer the question: “what’s for dinner tonight?” while providing a more cost-effective alternative to recipe kits such as Blue Apron or Hellofresh, and less reliance on take-outs from the likes of Deliveroo or Uber Eats.

“Doing your weekly shopping online can take you up to one hour,” says Jow co-founder and CEO Jacques-Edouard Sabatier. “You waste a lot of time looking for the right product category, sub category, scrolling through hundreds of references, you finally find your product, put it in your cart, and repeat this process up to 40 times (the number of items in your cart)! It’s a horrendous experience, with no added value at all for the customer”.

That’s in contrast to brick ‘n’ mortar grocery shopping, argues Sabatier, where there is an opportunity to “feel, taste and smell the products”. He says it’s the terrible user experience of grocery shopping online that has limited its e-grocery growth. Jow aims to change that.

“Jow creates a customised menu, just for you, with simple and delicious recipes,” explains Sabatier. “Our food recommendation engine considers your tastes, your kitchen appliances, whether or not you have children and checks the availability of the ingredients in your supermarket. Jow then automatically fills your cart with all the ingredients you need to cook the meals”.

In addition, Jow offers a customised list of your repeat purchases, and its recommendation engine claims to help you choose the exact quantities needed to avoid waste. You can also check out with a single click, and the app will synchronise with your chosen supermarket delivery or pick up service.

Noteworthy is that the app’s recipe to cart feature represents on average 75% of the products Jow users add to their cart. Staple products such as toilet paper, beverages, toothpaste etc. make up the remaining 25%.

The app is free for end users, seeing the Paris and New York-based startup generate affiliate revenue from supermarkets that want to use the service to acquire younger, mobile-first customers. The business model is asset light, too, since Jow is largely built on top of the existing infrastructure and capabilities of larger supermarkets.

“Apart from the 50x improvement on the e-grocery funnel, it’s unbelievable to see that to date, in a world where you have tailored and recommended experiences around music, video etc., you have no strong recommendation engine or experiences around food,” adds Sabatier.

In addition, the startup believes that more broadly it has created a mobile e-grocery experience that actually works. “E-grocery is one of the only e-commerce segments where desktop still prevails,” says Sabatier. “[Bucking this trend], 90% of Jow’s customers shop using their mobile devices, the experience is so smooth and fast that you can do your weekly shopping in just one minute on the subway or the bus”.

Source link

Snapchat Cameo edits your face into videos – TechCrunch

Snapchat is preparing to launch a big new feature that uses your selfies to replace the faces of people in videos you can then share. It’s essentially a simplified way to Deepfake you into GIFs. Cameos are an alternative to Bitmoji for quickly conveying an emotion, reaction, or silly situation in Snapchat messages.

Some French users received a test version of the feature today, as spotted by Snap enthusiast @Mtatsis.

Snapchat Cameo makes you the star of videos

TechCrunch reached out to Snap, which confirmed Cameo’s existence, and that it’s currently testing in limited availability in some international markets. The company provided this statement: “Cameos aren’t ready to take the stage yet, but stay tuned for their global debut soon!”

With Cameo, you’ll take a selfie to teach Snapchat what you look like. Then you choose if you want a vaguely male or female body type (no purposefully androgenous option).

Cameo then lives inside the Bitmoji button in the Snapchat messaging keyboard. Snapchat has made a bunch of short looping video clips with sound that you can choose from. Snapchat will then stretch and move your selfie to create different facial reactions that Cameo can apply to actors’ heads in the videos. You just pick one of these videos that now star you and send it to the chat.

Cameo could help Snapchat keep messaging interesting, which is critical since that remains its most popular and differentiated feature. With Instagram and WhatsApp having copied its Stories to great success, it must stay ahead in chat. Though in this case, Snap could be accused of copying Chinese social app Zao which let users more realistically Deepfake their faces into videos. Then again, JibJab popularized this kind of effect many years ago to stick your face on dancing Christmas elves.

Snap is only starting to monetize the messaging wing of its app with ads inside social games. Snap might potentially sell sponsored, branded Cameo clips to advertisers similar to how the company offers sponsored augmented reality lenses.

Cameo could put a more fun spin on technology for grafting faces into videos. Deepfakes can be used as powerful weapons of misinformation or abuse. But by offering only innocuous clips rather than statements from politicians or pornography, Snapchat could turn the tech into a comedic medium.

[Image Credit: Jeff Higgins]



Source link

RaySecur, a mailroom security startup, raises $3M in seed funding – TechCrunch

Raysecur says at least ten times a day someone sends a suspicious package containing powder, liquid, or some other kind of hazard.

The Boston, Mass.-based startup says its desktop-sized 3D real-time scanning technology, dubbed MailSecur, can intercept and detect threats in the mailroom before they ever make it onto the office floor.

Mailroom security may not seem fancy or interesting, but they’re a common gateway into a corporate environment. They’re a huge attack vector for attackers — both physical and cyber. Earlier this year we wrote about warshipping, a “Trojan horse”-type attack that can be used as a way for hackers to ship hardware exploits into a business, break the Wi-Fi, and pivot onto the corporate network to steal data.

Now, the company has raised $3 million in seed-round funding led by One Way Ventures, with participation from Junson Capital, Launchpad Venture Group, and also Dreamit Ventures, a Philadelphia-based early stage investor and accelerator, which last year announced it would move into the early-stage security space.

Raysecur’s proprietary millimeter-wave scanner, MailSecur. (Image: supplied)

Raysecur uses millimeter-wave technology — similar to the scanners you find at airport security — to examine suspicious letters, flat envelopes, and small parcels. Its technology can detect powders as small as 2% of a teaspoon or a single drop of liquid, the company claims.

The startup said the funding will help expand its customer base. Although still in its infancy, the company has about ten Fortune 500 customers using its MailSecur scanner.

Since it was founded in 2018, the company has scanned more than 9.2 million packages.

Semyon Dukach, managing partner at One Way Ventures, said the funding will help “bring this compelling technology to an even broader market.”

Source link

Black Friday’s boost, security news and the year’s biggest apps – TechCrunch

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all. What are developers talking about? What do app publishers and marketers need to know? How are politics impacting the App Store and app businesses? And which apps are everyone using?

This week we look at how the Black Friday weekend played out on mobile (including which non-shopping category that saw a boost in revenue!), as well as a few security-related stories, TikTok’s latest bad press, plus Apple and Google’s best and most downloaded apps of 2019, and more.

Headlines

80% of Android apps are encrypting traffic by default

Google gave an update on Android security this week, noting that 80% of Android applications were encrypting traffic by default, and that percentage was higher for apps targeting Android 9 or higher, with 90% of them encrypting traffic by default. Android protects the traffic entering or leaving the devices with TLS (Transport Layer Security). Its new statistics are related to Android 7’s introduction of the Network Security Configuration in 2016, which allows app developers to configure the network security policy for their app through a declarative configuration file. Apps targeting Android 9 (API level 28) or higher automatically have a policy set by default that prevents unencrypted traffic for every domain. And since Nov. 1, 2019, all apps (including app updates) must target at least Android 9, Google says. That means the percentages will improve as more apps roll out their next updates.

Black Friday boosted mobile game revenue to a record $70M

U.S. sales holiday Black Friday wasn’t just good for online shoppers, who spent a record $7.4 billion in sales, $2.9 billion from smartphones. It also boosted iOS and Android mobile game revenue to a single-day record of $69.7 million in the U.S., according to Sensor Tower. This was the most revenue ever generated in a single day for the category, and it represents a 25% increase over 2018. Marvel Contest of Champions from Kabam led the day with approximately $2.7 million in player spending. Two titles from Playrix — Gardenscapes and Homescapes — also won big, with $1 million and $969,000 in revenue, respectively.

These increases indicate that consumers are looking for all kinds of deals on Black Friday, not just those related to holiday gift-giving. They’re also happy to spend on themselves in games. Mobile publishers caught on to this trend and offered special in-game deals on Black Friday which really paid off.

Did Walmart beat Amazon’s app on Black Friday?

Sensor Tower and Apptopia said it did. App Annie also said it did, but then later took it back (see update). In any event, it must have been a close race. According to Sensor Tower, Walmart’s app reached No.1 on the U.S. App Store on Black Friday with 113,000 new downloads, a year-over-year increase of 23%. Amazon had 102,000 downloads, making it No. 2.

Arguably, many Amazon shoppers already have the app installed, so this is more about Walmart’s e-commerce growth more so than some ding on Amazon.

In fact, Apptopia said that Amazon still had 162% more mobile sessions over the full holiday weekend — meaning Amazon was more shopped than Walmart.

More broadly, mobile shopping is still huge on Black Friday. The top 10 shopping apps grew their new installs by 11% over last year on Black Friday, to reach a combined 527,000 installs.

Report: Android Advanced Protection Program could prevent sideloading

Google’s Advanced Protection Program protects the accounts of those at risks of targeted attacks — like journalists, activists, business leaders, and political campaign teams. This week, 9to5Google found the program may get a new protection feature with the ability to block sideloading of apps, according to an APK breakdown. What’s not yet clear is if program members will have the option to disable the protection, but there are some indications that may be the case. Another feature the report uncovered appears to show that Play Protect will automatically scan all apps, including those from outside the Play Store. This won’t affect the majority of Android users, of course, but it is an indication of where Google believes security risks may be found: sideloaded apps.

Bug hunter suggests Security.plist standard for apps

Source link

See Atomico’s most senior VCs on stage at Disrupt Berlin – TechCrunch

Atomico is among the most widely respected venture firms in Europe, ranking right up there with friendly rivals like Accel London and Index Ventures.

It’s also just 13 years old at this point, compared with its more established peers. It’s easy to overlook this, considering the impact the firm has made on the European startup scene since Swedish billionaire Niklas Zennström — who’d previously cofounded Skype and Kazaa — first swung open its doors.

Consider that four funds and $1.5 billion dollars in asset under management later, Atomico is now among Europe’s largest early-stage funds. It also has one of the most enviable portfolios, with companies that include Klarna (valued at $5.5 billion), Graphcore (valued at $1 billion), Stripe (valued at $35 billion) and Compass (valued at $6.4 billion), as well as a growing long list of past winners, including Climate Corp., which sold to Monsanto for $1.1 billion back in 2013.

In fact,  it was through this last investment  that Atomico first met Siraj Khaliq, who is today among the most senior members of the Atomico team and who will be joining us on stage at TechCrunch Berlin next week for a wide-ranging discussion about where Atomico is shopping — and how the different geographies it covers are evolving.

Khaliq previously cofounded and served as CTO of The Climate Corp. and today leads Atomico’s “frontier” investment team. He’ll be talking with us along the firm’s other most senior members, including Niall Wass, who co-leads the firm’s consumer investment team; Sophia Bendz, who lead Atomico’s Nordic investment sourcing, as well as its angel program; and Hiro Tamura, who co-leads the firm’s consumer investment team with Wass and also leads its later-stage investing team. (Tamura is also the longest serving partner at Atomico after Zennström.)

What excites them, what concerns them, and how are they trying to prepare for 2020? We’re thrilled to be sitting down with them to talk about these questions and much more.

If you care about what’s happening on the ground in Europe, this is one conversation you won’t want to miss. Tickets to the show are still available. You can find the entire Disrupt Berlin agenda here.

 

Source link

Boeing Starliner crew capsule and Atlas V rocket complete dress rehearsal ahead of test flight – TechCrunch

Boeing and launch partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) completed a key step today in pursuit of launching U.S. astronauts aboard their commercial spacecraft. The Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew capsule was atop the ULA Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complext 41 in Florida, with the rocket fully fuelled while the combined crew all took part in a dress rehearsal called the “integrated Day of Launch Test – aka IDOLT because space people all love acronyms so much.

The rehearsal paves the way for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) that NASA, ULA and Boeing are targeting for December 20 (which just changed today from December 19), which will be exactly what the first crewed mission aboard the Starliner will be, but without the crew on board. Today’s test involved everything leading up to the actual launch, including real feeling, a launch countdown, preparing and checking the access hatch to the crew capsule and more.

This kind of practice was standard during the days of Shuttle launches, and helps ensure that everyone knows what to do and when, and that more than just knowing, they can demonstrate that it works exactly as it’s supposed in a real-world setting. The full integrated dress rehearsal is especially important, since while you can always drill teams independently, you never know exactly how things are going to work until you run them all together.

As mentioned,d next up is the crucial OFT that will set the stage for a crewed launch early next year. The current target is December 20, so Boeing and its partners should get this in just before year’s end, if all goes to plan.

Source link

No Libra style digital currencies without rules, say EU finance ministers – TechCrunch

European Union finance ministers have agreed a defacto ban on the launch in the region of so-called global ‘stablecoins’ such as Facebook’s planned Libra digital currency until the bloc has a common approach to regulation that can mitigate the risks posed by the technology.

In a joint statement the European Council and Commission write that “no global ‘stablecoin’ arrangement should begin operation in the European Union until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks have been adequately identified and addressed”.

The statement includes recognition of potential benefits of the crypto technology, such as cheaper and faster payments across borders, but says they pose “multifaceted challenges and risks related for example to consumer protection, privacy, taxation, cyber security and operational resilience, money laundering, terrorism financing, market integrity, governance and legal certainty”.

“When a ‘stablecoin’ initiative has the potential to reach a global scale, these concerns are likely to be amplified and new potential risks to monetary sovereignty, monetary policy, the safety and efficiency of payment systems, financial stability, and fair competition can arise,” they add.

All options are being left open to ensure effective regulation, per the statement, with ministers and commissioners stating this should include “any measures to prevent the creation of unmanageable risks by certain global “stablecoins”.”

The new European Commission is already working on a regulation for global stablecoins, per Reuters.

In a speech at a press conference, Commission VP Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Today the Ecofin endorsed a joint statement with the Commission on stablecoins. These are part of a much broader universe of crypto assets. If we properly address the risks, innovation around crypto assets has the potential to play a positive role for investors, consumers and the efficiency of our financial system.

“A number of Member States like France, Germany or Malta introduced national crypto asset laws, but most people agree with the advice of the European Supervisory Authorities that these markets go beyond borders and so we need a common European framework.

“We will now move to implement this advice. We will launch a public consultation very shortly, before the end of the year.”

The joint statement also hits out at the lack of legal clarity around some major global projects in this area — which looks like a tacit reference to Facebook’s Libra project (though the text does not include any named entities).

“Some recent projects of global dimension have provided insufficient information on how precisely they intend to manage risks and operate their business. This lack of adequate information makes it very difficult to reach definitive conclusions on whether and how the existing EU regulatory framework applies. Entities that intend to issue ‘stablecoins’, or carry out other activities involving ‘stablecoins’ in the EU should provide full and adequate information urgently to allow for a proper assessment against the applicable existing rules,” they warn.

Facebook’s Libra project was only announced this summer — with a slated launch of the first half of 2020 — but was quickly dealt major blows by the speedy departure of key founder members from the vehicle set up to steer the initiative, as giants including Visa, Stripe and eBay apparently took fright at the regulatory backlash. Though you’d never know it from reading the Libra Association PR.

One perhaps unintended effective of Facebook’s grand design on disrupting global financial systems is to amp up pressure on traditional payment providers to innovate and improve their offerings for consumers.

EU ministers write that the emergence of stablecoin initiatives “highlight the importance of continuous improvements to payment arrangements in order to meet market and consumer expectations for convenient, fast, efficient and inexpensive payments – especially cross-border”.

“While European payment systems have already made significant progress, European payment actors, including payment services providers, also have a key role to play in this respect,” they continue. “We note that the ECB and other central banks and national competent authorities will explore further the ongoing digital transformation of the payment system and, in particular, the consequences of initiatives such as ‘stablecoins’. We welcome that central banks in cooperation with other relevant authorities continue to assess the costs and benefits of central bank digital currencies as well as engage with European payment actors regarding the role of the private sector in meeting expectations for efficient, fast and inexpensive cross-border payments.”

Source link

Gifts for the promising podcaster – TechCrunch

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.

Spotify reportedly spent nearly $500 million on podcasts in 2019. The good news is that the rest of us can get into that world for considerably less. In fact, the low barrier of entry has always been one of podcasting’s primary selling points.

Before we go any further, I’d recommend everyone check out our on-going series “How I Podcast,” in which top podcasters give a peek behind the curtain at their podcasting rigs. The standard disclaimer applies here, as ever: there’s no one size fits all solution to any of this. One’s needs will vary greatly depending on how much you’re willing to spend and what the recording setup is (remote vs. in-person, the number of guests you usually have, etc.)

If you’re just getting started, just start. You don’t need high end mics or mixing boards — even if you’re just recording into your iPhone, it’s better to get the ball rolling than to worry about perfect fidelity right off the bat.

But for you or anyone on your list who’s looking to get a bit more serious about podcasting in 2020, this should be a good place to start. It’s easier than ever to make a show sound professional, one upgrade at a time. What follows is a selection of software and gear for anyone looking to step up their game.

(Oh, and while we’re talking about podcasts… check out my weekly interview show, RiYL)

Zencastr Subscription $20/month

There are a ton of different compelling software choices for today’s podcaster, including Spotify’s Anchor for real beginners, up to Adobe’s Premier for the pros. For remote recorders, I recommend Zencastr. Our own Original Content podcast uses the software, and I’ve had pretty good experiences with its real-time audio levels and cloud-based recording. Gone are the days of hacking something together out of Skype calls.

Rodecaster Pro $599

Introduced last year, the Rodecaster Pro is the most expensive item on the list, but it also just might be the most indispensable for anyone looking to set up an at-home studio. It’s a brilliant little multitrack board, and quite frankly, I’m surprised there isn’t more competition in this space yet. For the beginning podcaster up through everyone who’s ready to sign a contract with NPR, the Rodecaster is a terrific, user-friendly solution for recording more than two people face-to-face.

Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder $200

When my Tascam finally gave up the ghost earlier this year, I decided to try something new. I’m glad I did. While it’s true that most of these multitrack records haven’t changed much in the past decade, Zoom offers a couple of key advantages. Most notable is far better real-time level tracking. I produce my podcast on the fly as I’m recording, and the ability to quickly monitor volume at a glance is paramount. I take the H4N with me wherever I travel, along with a pair of external mics.

AKG Lyra $149

Logitech’s Blue has had the USB market cornered for some time now, but Samsung-owned AKG offers compelling alternatives at an even more compelling price. The $149 Lyra is certainly the best looking of the bunch. It’s got a USB-C input, real-time monitoring and far clearer settings for a variety of different recording methods. I’ve been playing around with the mic a bit and will offer a more thorough writeup soon, but in the meantime, I can attest that it’s a great sounding mic for remote recordings.

Blue Raspberry $149

The Lyra’s biggest drawback, however, is its size. Blue’s Raspberry can’t compete on the sound front, but it’s far more portable. More than once I’ve found myself sticking it in a backpack and a suitcase. Blue also offers up a mini-version of the Yeti at a fraction of the price, but this older Blue mic simply sounds better.

Shure SM7B $399

At about twice the price, the Shure SM7B is a bigger commitment than the previous options. But as the choice of pro-level podcasters all over, Shure’s mics are a studio gold standard. The more portable SM-57s are also a terrific (and lower cost) option for more portable rigs. You’ll get a great sounding show either way.

Sennheiser Momentum $190

Whether it’s for editing or just minimizing echoes during interviews, you’ll want a good pair of headphones. There’s no shortage of over/on-ear options, but I’m partial to these Sennheisers for their combination of sound, price and classic good looks.

Source link

Check out the prizes for TC Hackathon at Disrupt Berlin – TechCrunch

We’ve got a packed house for the TC Hackathon that kicks off at Disrupt Berlin 2019 in just six days. We may have limited the number of participants to 500 people, but there’s no limit on the skills, creativity and dogged determination of these coders. Hold up now, there’s still time to save money and buy a pass to Disrupt Berlin. Prices increase 10 December.

We can’t wait to see what this group of worthy competitors will design and build in just 24 hours. They’ve been waiting patiently, and it’s almost time to pull back the curtain and reveal our sponsors, the specific challenges and prizes.

If you’re not familiar with how the Hackathon works, here’s the Cliff Notes version. On day one, participants form teams and choose a sponsored challenge. They have 24 hours to build a working product, and we keep them fed, hydrated and pumped up on caffeine.

Judges review all completed projects and select just 10 teams to move on to the finals on day two. Finalists have two minutes to power pitch their work to the judges — on the Extra Crunch Stage in front of a live audience. A not-to-be-missed event!

Each sponsor announces its winners and awards a variety of cash and prizes. Then TechCrunch chooses one team as the creators of the best over-all hack and awards them $5,000!

Cue the drum roll please — here are the additional prizes waiting for you at the Disrupt Berlin TC Hackathon. Start reviewing your options and planning your design strategy now — and get ready to impress.

TomTom

Location technology can add so much to the services we use every day. Whether it is to locate people, track assets and vehicles, visualize location information or display routes, maps are an essential component to any web or mobile application. With TomTom’s Maps API, developers can easily integrate highly detailed and customizable maps in their application with only a few lines of code.

Your challenge, should you accept it, is to use the TomTom Maps APIs (and combine it with other services) to build an innovative on-demand service. Build the next Uber for delivering food, parcels or groceries — or for getting someone to come and fix your bike.

Prize one: Up to four Nintendo Switches for the winning team.

Prize two: Diversity Heroes Award. We’re giving a prize to the team that leverages its diversity to complete the hackathon challenge, and they’ll receive up to five Lego sets of heroes that leveraged diversity to succeed at a complex challenge.

And we will have another prize or two up our sleeve so stay tuned! The TechCrunch Hackathon takes place at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. Good luck to all the plucky participants. As for the rest of you, come join us for the thrilling competition and see what determined hackers can build in 24 hours!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source link

These new data sources are creating high-impact tools for investors – TechCrunch

Venture capitalists tout themselves as frontier technology investors, but most of us are using the same infrastructure tools we’ve used for the past 20+ years — Excel and recent college grads searching Google.

We’ve seen some modest progress in people upgrading from Excel to Google Sheets, along with the use of CRM and cloud-based storage services, but according to Sebastian Soler, who oversees data science at Lux Capital, less than 5% of American VCs have a full-time team member who’s focused on technology.

“While the arguments for adopting the latest technology are now too compelling to ignore, finding the required budget for specialized tools can often prove to be a major challenge, especially for smaller managers,” said Tim Friedman, founder of PEStack. “Comprehensive market data can cost upwards of $25k for a leading service, portfolio monitoring can be double that, add in front office tools and you’re quickly into six-figure sums. My advice is: there are now more products than ever which focus on quick implementation and offer a lot of functionality at a fraction of the cost of some of the larger legacy providers.

TotemVC* is one example of a high-quality solution that offers a powerful platform with a transparent, affordable monthly rate. One piece of advice would be to use a service like [PEStack’s] free Vendor Profiles platform to identify viable providers and build up a shortlist. We also track sample clients so that our users can see what their peers are using. I would always advise managers to talk to other professionals to get the real inside scoop on which products work well, how painful the implementation was, and how good the ongoing support is.”

Jonathan Balkin, founder of Lionpoint Group, observed that the highest-impact technology initiative for a new PE/VC fund is typically to configure and enforce usage of a CRM system. The next most impactful initiative is usually to create an easy-to-use LP portal.

Source link