Pluot raises $2.5 million to bring video conferencing to the masses

Pluot raises .5 million to bring video conferencing to the masses

For those who think that Google Hangouts, Slack, or Skype aren’t enough to meet their business needs, please allow me to introduce you to Pluot.

The company just raised $2.5 million from a slew of investors including TenOneTen Ventures, Root Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures, Haystack and Gokul Rajaram.

Founded by Kwindla Kramer and Doug Brunton, Pluot combines a hardware and software system to give small businesses access to the same quality of video-conferencing services that companies could expect to see in the board rooms of Fortune 500 companies, according to the founders.

The service is accessible via desktop or mobile, and in a conference room, companies can install Pluot hardware (it’s free!) to start video chat-chat-chatting their way through the day.

Pluot (a YC alum) began with the notion that Kramer and Brunton had about the growth of distributed teams in the tech world.

As more employees began working from home (or cafes, or bars, or restaurants) the need for face-time became more pressing and the demand for remote services that could provide conferencing became more urgent.

Both men had previously worked at video conferencing companies before and new the market intimately. Using some fairly off-the-shelf components (thanks to the significant drop in pricing for cameras, speakers, and compute power) the company was able to build a device that it could give away for free and sell its services for just $50 per-month.

The two men have known each other for nearly 20 years working on an open source project for AllAfrica.com in the early part of the new millennium. Then they built the first major online presence for the Democratic National Committee.

Kramer went on to launch Oblong Industries, which developed gestural recognition and video conferencing technologies. It was, in fact, Kramer’s experience that Oblong that convinced the two to launch Pluot.

Both men believe that the popularity of distributed workplaces will only continue to grow and estimate that roughly 100 million rooms could be equipped with video conferencing and screen sharing equipment.

Source: TechCrunch

Mobile payment app PaidEasy buys Happy, first winner of the Make It In Brooklyn pitch competition

Mobile payment app PaidEasy buys Happy, first winner of the Make It In Brooklyn pitch competition

Just over a year after it won the inaugural Make It In Brooklyn pitch competition (and the attendant $50,000 cash prize that went with it) the Brooklyn-based startup Happy has been acquired by PaidEasy, a New York-based mobile payment app for restaurants.

For PaidEasy, which is lining up big restaurants in Miami, New York, and expanding into other cities in North America, the Happy acquisition adds an element of discovery to its chief executive Gregg Jackowitz.

Specific terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but the deal was a combination of cash and stock.

The restaurant payments space has become a tightly contested one, but no clear winner has yet to emerge.

Cover, which was acquired by the UK-based mobile reservations, discovery, and payments app, Velocity, had some early traction, while OpenTable competitor Reserve acquired the payment processor Dash in its bid to gobble up payment real-estate and TabbedOut is doing the same. Meanwhile startups like Salido attack payments from the restaurant table.

Long story short, it’s a competitive landscape for mobile payments in restaurants and bars. However, the combined strengths of the two companies mean that there’s a better chance for the new and improved PaidEasy to make a splash in the market.

Source: TechCrunch

Understanding Hillary Clinton’s innovation plan

Understanding Hillary Clinton’s innovation plan

It’s been an all-Hillary week. But in her Philadelphia acceptance speech, she said next-to-nothing about innovation and absolutely nothing at all about digital policy. So what will a Clinton presidency mean to Silicon Valley? And does she actually have a plan on innovation and technology?

Yes, she does. Last month, she released her Initiative on Technology and Innovation plan. And last week, the policy guru and best-selling writer Larry Downes published a “Brief Review” of this plan in Harvard Business Review. Downes says — surprise, surprise — that there’s a “lot of both good and bad” in the plan.

It’s good on its commitment to supporting visas for high-tech overseas workers, he suggests. But less good, he argues, on Network Neutrality, where she continues Obama’s support for Chapter II and the idea of the Internet as a public utility.

So what role does Downes expect tech and the Internet to play between now and the November election? The big surprise, he suspects, will be that polls don’t work anymore. In spite – or perhaps because of – the explosion of social media, pollsters are finding it harder and harder to determine how people are going to vote.

Perhaps this is because nobody has landlines anymore – so pollsters can no longer reach us. Or maybe it’s because we don’t trust pollsters anymore than we trust Wall Street bankers or politicians, so we no longer tell them the truth.

As always, many thanks to the folks at CALinnovates for their support in the production of this interview.

Source: TechCrunch

Shipt raises $20 million to challenge Instacart and plants a flag for Alabama’s startup ecosystem

Shipt raises million to challenge Instacart and plants a flag for Alabama’s startup ecosystem

Nestled in a valley between the two tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills, the southern city of Birmingham, Ala. seems an unlikely base of operations for a rival to San Francisco’s multi-billion dollar food delivery behemoth Instacart.

But the two-year-old startup Shipt is doing exactly that, tackling not only its far better funded San Francisco-based rival, but the twin juggernauts of Amazon and Google in the fresh food delivery market.

Financing Shipt’s latest $20 million round, which will help the company expand in the food delivery space, are Greycroft Partnerse.ventures, and the company’s seed investor Harbert Venture Partners.

Founded (and initially backed) by serial entrepreneur Bill Smith, Shipt launched in November 2014 with a 1,000 person pre-launch enrollment opportunity in Smith’s hometown of Birmingham.

The father of two, with a newborn just arriving in the house in 2014, Smith said the idea for Shipt came to him while he and his wife were dealing with the increasingly cumbersome logistics of their own household.

Smith says he hadn’t heard of Instacart when he launched his own fledgling service.

Smith, who never went to college, started his first business selling handsets as an authorized T-Mobile agent after high school. From there he graduated to a number of ventures, most recently selling a prepaid card services business (Insight Card Services) to GreenDot in 2014.

That money gave Smith the flexibility to finance his nascent food delivery business.

From its 1,000-person roots, growing initially through word-of-mouth, the company has expanded to service 27 metro areas in nine states.

It was word-of-mouth that first brought Shipt to the attention of Ian Sigalow, the co-founder and partner at Greylock.

“I’m on the board of a company in Tampa… and we went to a board dinner… and the wife of the CEO was raving about this company,” Sigalow told me. That rave review piqued his interest and Greycroft started the due diligence process.

Initially, Greycroft held back, because while the company was “scaling through the roof”, according to Sigalow, the unit economics were not great. As time progressed, those numbers improved to the point where not only was Greycroft willing to invest, the venture capital firm was willing to cut a check to lead the largest series A venture investment in Alabama’s history.

Indeed, Alabama, and Birmingham specifically, is an integral part of Shipt’s unique growth story.

Home to a burgeoning startup scene (yes…. y’all read that correctly) — and part of a broader technology renaissance across the southeast — Shipt’s Birmingham base allowed the company to scale both quickly and (more critically) cheaply.

Furthermore, the kinds of on-demand services that are on offer in big urban hubs like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are no less desirable for the upper middle class denizens of the southeast (I’m setting aside the issue of the digital divide for now) and Shipt was uniquely positioned to capture their business.

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At first the company started selling in places where Instacart and other big entrants into the food delivery market weren’t.

Now Shipt’s service area covers most of the Southeast including: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as Texas, Arizona, and Ohio. That means going head-to-head with Instacart and Amazon in markets like Atlanta, Miami, Houston and Austin.

Unlike Instacart, which has big partnerships with national grocery chains like Whole Foods; media outlets like Food Network; and startups like PlateJoy; Shipt counts HEB and the Florida liquor distributor ABC Fine Wine and Spirits as its largest corporate partners to date.

What the company does have going for it is a growth trajectory that’s flying in the face of what fellow TechCruncher Josh Constine called an “on-demand apocalypse” earlier this year.

Writing about the death of delivery service SpoonRocket and attrition across other “conveniencetech” startups, Constine scribbled:

Many conveniencetech startups have suffered hard times since a public and late-stage market correction hit this year: India’s Ola shut down its on-demand food delivery service; Zirx is moving away from on-demand valet; and other services, like Good Eggs grocery delivery, have been forced to implement layoffs and scale back from new markets.

While it’s tempting to think everything you buy or do could be made easier with an app, the economics are a lot tougher than many would assume. It’s difficult to find a price point that’s still attractive to consumers but pays for the goods and services, delivery and startup overhead.

According to Smith, Shipt is profitable in most of its markets. The company’s revenues are based entirely on a membership model. It charges $99 for a year of delivery service or $14 per month and there’s about a 15% markup on items where there’s no retail partnership (which is most places it delivers).

Shoppers for Shipt get paid per-order and Smith says an average shopper for the service will be paid about $17 per-shop. Typically it’s a base fee of $5 plus 7.5% of the order and whatever tips they get on delivery.

Smith said that the rates are comparable to what others are paying in the industry.

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Beyond the money that shoppers are making, and the convenience for customers that hadn’t had access to these on-demand services previously, Shipt is also a boon for local grocers who’re looking nervously over their shoulders at Amazon’s delivery business.

“I think grocery is a very slow-moving industry and has not historically innovated incredibly fast,” said Sigalow.

Delivery is tricky for stores to manage, because labor costs are a huge component. Shoppers need to be trained in food handling and customer service, a capital-intensive prospect for businesses that already have huge overheads.

Meanwhile, Amazon is coming in with its own integrated supply chain and services and grocery stores need to compete.

“They’re looking at [Amazon] and saying, ‘Well, they’re coming right at me.. in order to survive I have to figure out some way to get delivery to my customers,’” Sigalow said. “It’s going to be really challenging which is why they’re partnering with Instacart and Shipt.”

Finally, the market is a huge one that should support multiple players, contends Sigalow. “There’s 38,000 grocery stores in the U.S. that do over $2 million each in revenue,” he said. “There are more grocery stores than there are gas stations.”

Source: TechCrunch

Did Russian government hackers leak the DNC emails?

Did Russian government hackers leak the DNC emails?

By now, it’s pretty clear that Russian hackers are responsible for breaches of the Democratic National Committee networks that occurred last summer and in April of this year — several forensic security firms have found evidence that traces the breach back to Russia. Now that DNC emails harvested during the breaches are starting to appear on Wikileaks, pundits are speculating that Russia leaked the emails in a bid to land Donald Trump in the Oval Office. But is the email leak also attributable to hackers on Russia’s government payroll?

A new analysis released by security consulting firm ThreatConnect has marshaled more evidence to prove that hackers linked to the Russian government communicated with journalists about the leaked documents.

A hacker set up a website and Twitter account to take credit for the DNC breach soon after it was initially reported, calling himself Guccifer 2.0 (a moniker modeled after a Romanian hacker who is recently pleaded guilty to hacking American political operatives). That claim shed doubt on initial reports from The Washington Post and others that laid the responsibility for the breach squarely at the feet of organizations with ties to the Russian government and its president, Vladimir Putin. But ThreatConnect’s research suggests that Guccifer 2.0 is simply an invention of the Russian government to deflect attention from its involvement in the breach.

The idea that a non-governmental actor pursuing a personal political agenda could hack the DNC and potentially sway an election is bad enough, an act of cyberwarfare by a foreign state is arguably much worse.

“Guccifer 2.0 has been part of a Russian denial and deception program,” said Toni Gidwani, director of research operations at ThreatConnect on a conference call today. Gidwani believes that the Russian hack may have initially been intended for low-level intel that could be used to support Russian narratives about the U.S., but morphed into an attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election.

At the outset, the Guccifer 2.0 releases were following that pattern. Gidwani characterized the information leaked had very little impact on the U.S. news cycle, but became great agit-prop tools in Russia, whose state-affiliated news agencies picked up on each morsel as yet another example of the cornucopia of electoral corruption in the decadent West.

It’s not just the technical nature of the leaks themselves that have some outlets saying Russia’s fingerprints were all over this hack.

An investigative report from Yahoo released yesterday indicates that one of the hack’s earliest targets was DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa, who was conducting opposition research on Donald Trump’s campaign adviser Paul Manafort, who allegedly made millions working as a campaign adviser for the now-ousted former Ukrainian president (and ostrich lover), Viktor Yanukovych.

Quoting  an email Chalupa sent to the DNC — released as part of the Wikileaks data dump — Yahoo reports that Chalupa began receiving security notices informing her that her email account was being targeted by state actors:

“Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily oc­­­­currence on my Yahoo account despite changing my p­­a­ssword often,” [Chalupa] wrote in a May 3 email to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director, which included an attached screengrab of the image of the Yahoo security warning.

Why is Russia so involved? The theory among some Democrats and left-leaning news outlets is that Russian President Vladimir Putin would (unsurprisingly) prefer to deal with an isolationist-minded President Trump than a more hawkish (and much less friendly) President Clinton and is using cybercrime as a way to influence the U.S. election. The New York Times also raised the specter of Russian involvement.

“What happened over the weekend started to move us toward this middle course of action. … This game-changer scenario of Russia trying to influence the results of a U.S. election,” said Gidwani of the Wikileaks release, the resulting resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the attendant chaos that resulted over the weekend and on a divisive first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

But other security experts say that a sloppy email leak, filled with evidence of Russian involvement, would be uncharacteristic for the country’s sophisticated spy agencies.

“There’s the breach and then there’s someone leaking emails to Wikileaks. Those two things don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other,” said Oren Falkowitz, CEO of the security firm Area 1 and a former NSA analyst. “The most salacious emails go back to a different time in the campaign. To release them at the beginning of the [general election] campaign isn’t consistent with a nation state’s objective to change the outcome.”

The most contentious DNC emails released so far trashed Bernie Sanders’ campaign as “a mess,” and Falkowitz points out these messages could have had a stronger impact if released during the primary race.

“They probably would have released it when it was really tight between Hillary and Bernie,” he said, adding, “To think the [Russian security service] FSB would not recognize the difference in impact of timing there is ridiculous. It’s spurious to say they’re trying to influence the election, and if they are, they are doing a really shitty job. You’re talking about one of the premier intelligence organizations in the world.”

However, if Russia is behind the email leak, this wouldn’t be the first time the country has used hacking in an attempt to disrupt another nation’s election. During the Ukrainian elections in 2015, an organization called CyberBerkut wreaked havoc on the election. A Wall Street Journal piece published in the aftermath called the country “Cyberwar’s Hottest Front“.

In a ridiculously good tick-tock account of the DNC hack and its aftermath, Motherboard reporter Thomas Rid lays out the case for Russia’s involvement in no uncertain terms.

Rid writes:

The forensic evidence linking the DNC breach to known Russian operations is very strong. On June 20, two competing cybersecurity companies, Mandiant (part of FireEye) and Fidelis, confirmed CrowdStrike’s initial findings that Russian intelligence indeed hacked the DNC. The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys. For example: in late March the attackers registered a domain with a typo—misdepatrment[.]com—to look suspiciously like the company hired by the DNC to manage its network, MIS Department. They then linked this deceptive domain to a long-known APT 28 so-called X-Tunnel command-and-control IP address, 45.32.129[.]185.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence linking GRU to the DNC hack is the equivalent of identical fingerprints found in two burglarized buildings: a reused command-and-control address—176.31.112[.]10—that was hard coded in a piece of malware found both in the German parliament as well as on the DNC’s servers. Russian military intelligence was identified by the German domestic security agency BfV as the actor responsible for the Bundestag breach. The infrastructure behind the fake MIS Department domain was also linked to the Berlin intrusion through at least one other element, a shared SSL certificate.

If the allegations are true (and the evidence amassed is somewhat persuasive), then the ramifications of the hack and their subsequent release are enormous.

Dr. Anup Ghosh, CEO of the security company Invincea and a former DARPA scientist, noted that the leaked emails may not have originated from the hack of the DNC itself, since the DNC used a third party email service.

“We know that the DNC used an outside service for email. What isn’t clear is if the emails compromised from a user’s account to this cloud-based service, versus was the email compromised from the compromise on the enterprise network?” Ghosh explained.

He also questioned the motives that would drive the Russian government to dump DNC emails on Wikileaks. “From a Russian intelligence point of view, it seems sloppy; it seems traceable. I get that people think the Russians want Donald Trump to be president, but there’s a lot of history between the Clintons and the Russians, and most of the time, countries work with whatever administration is in place. Trump doesn’t strike me as a predictable guy. I don’t think the Russians would want Trump as much as they would want to know what Clinton is thinking,” Ghosh said. In other words, why leak emails when you can quietly snoop on high-profile politicians instead?

While snatching politically sensitive documents as part of an espionage plot might be part of statecraft and intelligence efforts (rightly or wrongly), Motherboard’s Rid points out that leaking those documents (and potentially manipulated ones) to a global audience represents an unprecedented and dangerous attempt by a foreign government that is openly hostile to U.S. policies and interests.

Still, not everyone is convinced that Russia is indeed behind the hack. But one group might know for sure — Edward Snowden took to Twitter with claims that the NSA could clear up any confusion around who was behind the DNC security breaches.

Source: TechCrunch

Yahoo’s board reportedly agrees to $4.8 billion Verizon bid

Yahoo’s board reportedly agrees to .8 billion Verizon bid

According to reports that are starting to trickle in, Yahoo’s board has accepted the terms of the Verizon offer we reported last week.

The core assets of the company that started life in Jerry Yang and David Filo’s 1994 Stanford dorm room as “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web” — and at one point was one of the highest valued properties on the internet — will now join another former high-flyer of the internet’s earliest days, Aol (full disclosure: the owner of TechCrunch), in the Verizon stable.

It’s hard to overstate how dominant a player Yahoo once was. The company, which now holds most of its value in its Alibaba investment, was once a $125 billion behemoth that dominated internet search and commanded one of the highest valuations of any online business — it was Google before Google was Google.

Like Aol, Yahoo was never able to fully recover from the dot-com crash. The advent of Google (and then Facebook) pushed both early Internet portals further toward irrelevance as one Google’s search algorithm prevailed and Facebook a new method for browsing online — replacing monolithic portals with personalized feeds tailored to the tastes of social networking peers.

And in the age of mobile browsing and apps, the company’s relevance eroded even further.

Yahoo grew up with the early Internet and for a time it was the site for nearly everything. From an online directory, the site ballooned to include email providers (Four11), web hosting services (Geocities), and video and radio simulcasting through the $5.7 billion acquisition of Mark Cuban’s Broadcast.com.

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The acquisition strategy that brought the company success in the late-90s foundered in the wake of the dot com crash. Marquee deals for companies like Tumblr have failed to produce much value.

Still, it looks like Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer will be able to enjoy a comfortable landing, whatever becomes of her after the Verizon deal.

The New York Times is speculating that she could receive a severance package worth about $57 million, after raking in cash and stock worth $218 million during her time at the top of the faltering giant.

The terms of the sale aren’t official, but The Times (among others) is reporting that the $41 billion worth of Alibaba shares that Yahoo holds will remain in the hands of its current shareholders (along with Yahoo Japan and some patents).

Featured Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Source: TechCrunch

Verizon is launching virtual network services

Verizon is launching virtual network services

My corporate overlords at Verizon (which owns AOL, which owns TechCrunch) have launched a new service today that they hope aims to take the pain out of networking for business.

Called “Virtual Network Solutions” and announced in a press release filled with so much corporate jargon it’s barely understandable, the idea is that spinning up, monitoring, managing, protecting, and tweaking networks is hard for businesses dealing with private and public clouds (unless you’re Goldman Sachs, the CIA, or Verizon itself) so why not let a big ole network do it for you?

The company’s basically providing a bundle of services from companies including Cisco, Fortinent, Juniper, Riverbed and Viptela, and managing those services for companies (and maybe governments) large and small under its own brand.

This is all happening against a backdrop of a huge fight among networks and hosted services providers for businesses’ business and the ongoing move away from proprietary networking gear to commodity hardware.

On one level you’ve got Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet pitching public clouds that will, eventually look for their piece of the networking pie over the long term. And other networks (here’s looking at you AT&T) are offering similar services already.

For big telecom companies, and Verizon is nothing if a not a big telecom company, the problem si clear. These companies have invested billions in building out networks that are now taken for granted by consumers. The key play is to build services on top of the network that can generate more cash for the companies that run them.

A great piece in FastCompany illustrates how Verizon’s strategy is playing out on the content side (with a special focus on my direct bosses at Aol). With this new networking play, Verizon is making its bid to dig deeper into business services as well.

Here’s Ainsley O’Connell quoting Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam:

“The network will always be the foundation, but if you just do that you’re going to be relegated to being a commodity,” he says. “You’ve got to really build on that foundation in order to be relevant going forward.”

These tectonic shifts in the telecom business are mirrored in the ways in which the actual networks are changing.

“The way in which network services are delivered is going through an unprecedented shift—the biggest we’ve seen since the broad adoption of MPLS,” said Shawn Hakl, vice president of networking and innovation, Verizon. “Today the network is transitioning to a virtualized model using similar technology that drove the disruption in the data center market.”

 Translation: the same changes that happening with data centers and computing thanks to Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft are happening in the network too… and telecoms have to keep pace.

Featured Image: Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock
Source: TechCrunch

Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin on Unilever Acquisition

Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin on Unilever Acquisition

As an early investor in Dollar Shave Club, I spoke with CEO Michael Dubin about the company’s acquisition by Unilever and the journey to this point on the latest episode of Venrock’s podcast, Running Through Walls.

Many people remember the humorous viral video that first launched the company. “I was freaked out that maybe we wouldn’t recover from our success,” says Dubin, after the site crashed thanks to the video’s unanticipated popularity.

The company did recover, and Dubin went on to build one of the most recognizable brands in men’s grooming. He knew he had a hit when he visited a distribution center and saw the volume of packages on the conveyer belt, bringing to life how many people interact with the company daily. He says, “Three percent of Americans wake up and engage with Dollar Shave Club.”

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Dubin took improv classes early in his career, and humor has long played a role in the culture of DSC. He’s even adapted some lessons from improv to the role of CEO: “When you’re on stage with no script, it teaches you to live in a scary moment and still perform, which is great training for a young company.”

Following the acquisition, Dubin will stay on as CEO, and it will be “business as usual” at DSC with a focus on launching new products and expanding internationally. Dubin cites “Unilever’s position as one of the most progressive and innovative CPG companies in the world” as the reason the company is a good fit for DSC.

Dubin hopes that five years down the road, “We’ve been able to meaningfully change the way people think about shopping on the internet.”

Source: TechCrunch

Movile’s Latin American delivery business, Rappido, is now picking up in Mexico

Movile’s Latin American delivery business, Rappido, is now picking up in Mexico

The Brazilian-based mobile application and services developer Movile is continuing its push to dominate the Latin American market with the expansion of its on demand delivery and distribution service, Rappido into the Mexican market.

The move follows a merger with Rappido’s Brazilian competitor 99Motos earlier this year and shows how quickly Movile is hoping to consolidate its position in the online, on-demand delivery market in Latin America.

In Mexico, Movile is partnering with the country’s logistics giant, Grupo ampm in a joint venture to launch Rappido MX, the company’s local subsidiary. It’s a similar strategy to the company’s roll-out in other countries in Latin America. Last year, Rappido took a position in the Colombian delivery service Mensajeros Urbanos to gain a foothold in that country’s expanding delivery market.

Movile estimates that the total delivery market for Latin America could be as high as $8 billion this year alone. And there’s no dominant player in the delivery field at the moment, according to the company.

In Mexico, Rappido intends to pursue the meal delivery and e-commerce markets, which have grown over 30% per year, according to the Asociaciøn Mexicana de Internet.

Rappido’s rapid expansion is set against a backdrop of increasing e-commerce activity and mobile phone penetration across Latin America. Nowhere is this more true than in Mexico, where there’s now 76.4 million devices in use, or roughly one device for every seven out of 10 Mexicans.

Furthermore, most of these devices are smartphones, not feature phones. By the end of 2016, smartphones will account for 81.5% of all the lines in the country, according to data provided by Movile.

Backed in part by cash from the South African media giant, Naspers (which also owns a large chunk of one of China’s most successful technology companies — Tencent), Movile has global aspirations of its own for its delivery business.

The company has studied the rise and fall of the delivery model in the U.S. and thinks consolidation and a focus on e-commerce are its way out of the margin trap that has bedeviled Rappido’s North American counterparts.

“We are looking at what is happening in the American on-demand startup market where valuations have fallen, and some startups have closed their operations,” said Guilherme Bonifacio, Rappido’s chief executive in a statement earlier this year. “Our strategy, however, includes not only B2C offer but also enabling e-commerce and business, with very high frequency of use, generating much better economics – we are excited about our growth and the long term opportunities.”

Movile has been flourishing in spite of the economic crisis that has set in across Brazil. Indeed, the company expects its Rapiddo subsidiary to grow revenue by 30-40 percent, month over month, in 2016.

“Following the expansion of sectors such as taxis, private transportation, and food delivery, we know that the next market to grow is the fast-delivery application market,” Bonifacio has said.

Source: TechCrunch

How to change the world… one bot at a time

How to change the world… one bot at a time

How should young innovators try to change the world? Joshua Browder is a 19 year-old undergraduate at Stanford and the creator of the DoNotPay app, the “world’s first robot lawyer”.

Having accumulated multiple parking tickets in London, the then 18 year-old Browder created a bot to challenge these tickets which has now successfully fought over 160,000 tickets and saved people $4 million of fines.

Browder has also created a Blockchain based app which enables HIV positive people to prove that they disclosed their status to their partners. Browder is a reminder that public spirited innovation is very much alive in Silicon Valley. And he’s living proof that not all teenagers are selfie-obsessed narcissists.

Politics runs in Browder’s family. His great grandfather was Earl Browder, the long time General Secretary of the American Communist party. And his father is the fund manager Bill Browder the outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

But Joshua Browder is less impressed with politics, believing that innovation is usually harmful to innovation and arguing that the 2016 Presidential election is a “complete disgrace”. But while he’s certainly not enthusiastic about the prospect of a President Trump or Clinton, he would be excited by a President Elon Musk – a vision, I suspect, that many other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs would share.

As always, thanks to the folks at CALinnovates for their support in the production of this interview.

Source: TechCrunch