Column

The future of AI relies on a code of ethics

Matthew Howard Contributor More posts by this contributor Brands, Platforms, The Live Video Labyrinth And How Everyone Can Win Facebook has recently come under intense scrutiny for sharing the data of millions of users without their knowledge. We’ve also learned that Facebook is using AI to predict users’ future behavior and selling that data to advertisers. Not surprisingly, Facebook’s business model and how it handles its users’ data has sparked a long-awaited conversation — and controversy — about data privacy. These revelations will undoubtedly force the company to evolve their data sharing and protection strategy and policy. More importantly, it’s a call to action: We need a code of ethics. As the AI revolution continues to accelerate, new technology is being developed to solve key pr...

Breaking down France’s new $76M Africa startup fund

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Africa Roundup: African startup investments turn to fintech this winter season Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product Weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a $76M African startup fund at VivaTech 2018, TechCrunch paid a visit to the French Development Agency (AFD) — who will administer the new fund — to get more details on how le noveau fonds will work. The $76M (or €65M) will divvy up into three parts, according to AFD Digital Task Team Leader Christine Ha. “There are €10M [$11.7M] for technical assistance to support the African ecosystem… €5M will be available as interest free loans to high potential, pre seed startups…and…€50M [$58M] will be for equity-based investments in series A to...

After twenty years of Salesforce, what Marc Benioff got right and wrong about the cloud

Grant Miller Contributor As we enter the 20th year of Salesforce, there’s an interesting opportunity to reflect back on the change that Marc Benioff created with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for enterprise software with his launch of Salesforce.com. This model has been validated by the annual revenue stream of SaaS companies, which is fast approaching $100 billion by most estimates, and it will likely continue to transform many slower-moving industries for years to come. However, for the cornerstone market in IT — large enterprise-software deals — SaaS represents less than 25 percent of total revenue, according to most market estimates. This split is even evident in the most recent high profile “SaaS” acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft, with over 50 percent of GitHub’s revenue co...

Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities

Brooks Rainwater Contributor More posts by this contributor Do cities still want a sharing economy? As tech startups surge in cities, inclusive economic growth must be a priority The city of Austin is currently piloting a program in which its 2,000 homeless residents will be given a unique identifier that’s safely and securely recorded on the blockchain. This identifier will help individuals consolidate their records and seek out crucial services. Service providers will also be able to access the information. If successful, we’ll have a new, more efficient way to communicate and ensure that the right people are at the table to help the homeless. in Austin and around the country, it seems that blockchain technology is opening a range of opportunities for city service delivery and operations...

VCs serve up a large helping of cash to startups disrupting food

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor US startups off to a strong M&A run in 2018 Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities Here is what your daily menu might look like if recently funded startups have their way. You’ll start the day with a nice, lightly caffeinated cup of cheese tea. Chase away your hangover with a cold bottle of liver-boosting supplement. Then slice up a few strawberries, fresh-picked from the corner shipping container. Lunch is full of options. Perhaps a tuna sandwich made with a plant-based, tuna-free fish. Or, if you’re feeling more carnivorous, grab a grilled chicken breast fresh from the lab that cultured its cells, while crunching on a side of mushroom chips. And for extra protein, how about a brownie? Dinner might be a ...

US startups off to a strong M&A run in 2018

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school With Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub this week, we can now decisively declare a trend: 2018 is shaping up as a darn good year for U.S. venture-backed M&A. So far this year, acquirers have spent just over $20 billion in disclosed-price purchases of U.S. VC-funded companies, according to Crunchbase data. That’s about 80 percent of the 2017 full-year total, which is pretty impressive, considering we’re barely five months into 2018. If one included unreported purchase prices, the totals would be quite a bit higher. Fewer than 20 percent of acquisitions in our data set came with reported prices.1 ...

At Apple’s WWDC 2018, accessibility pervades all 

Steven Aquino Contributor Steven Aquino is a freelance tech writer and iOS accessibility expert. More posts by this contributor AirPods to get Live Listen feature in iOS 12 For Apple, this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about education Accessibility has long played an integral role at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and it certainly had its presence felt in 2018. There are some constant elements of the week, such as the labs, sessions, and mid-week social that brings together members of Apple’s Accessibility group, developers and others interested in the disabled community to celebrate inclusiveness and accessible design. This year had a different vibe. After attending the keynote and speaking with numerous people at Apple during the week, one feeling that has re...

Worthwhile gadget upgrades for the tech-obsessed

Makula Dunbar Contributor More posts by this contributor Durable speakers you can buy without overspending Gear for getting better at your side gig Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch earn affiliate commissions. More than likely, there’s someone in your circle who takes great pride in knowing about and staying on top of the latest tech. While you or your gadget-obsessed acquaintance may have a broad selection of new gear, the celebrated laptop, camera, or phone might not be the one that comes with all of the bells and whistles. We’ve compiled some of our favorite upgrade picks that come with extra or special features that add to functionality, quality and ov...

The robot revolution is just beginning

Sanjit Dang Contributor Sanjit Dang is an investment director at Intel Capital. More posts by this contributor What’s holding back VR? Online Commerce Needs An Offline Experience Every year, Time magazine gets swamped with pitches from thousands of companies, all convinced their product deserves to be included in Time’s “25 Best Inventions” list. This past December, the magazine reserved its cover for a Pixar-like, 11-inch armless robot named Jibo. Jibo — a so-called “social robot” — is just the latest example of a clear phenomenon: A new generation of exponentially more intelligent and capable robots is on the way. In fact, they’re already everywhere we look: over our heads, in our cars and operating rooms, next to us on the assembly lines, in our military, and on the last mile. And the p...

Monetizing computing resources on the blockchain

Ben Dickson Contributor Ben Dickson is a software engineer and the founder of TechTalks. More posts by this contributor Unlocking the potential of eye tracking technology Can you trust crypto-token crowdfunding? A while back, a blockchain startup approached me with their pitch, a decentralized social media application in which users can earn money by simply doing what they already do on other platforms, such posting updates, photos and videos. I would have been intrigued had they sent me the message a couple of years ago. But not so much after observing the space for more several years. Several blockchain applications profess to enable users to monetize various resources, whether it’s their unused storage and CPU power, or the tons of data they generate every day. Regardless of whether the...

Will smart home tech make us care more about privacy?

Fen Zhao Contributor Fen Zhao is an early stage investor at Alpha Edison who previously developed public private partnerships at the National Science Foundation in the areas of data science and cybersecurity. For most people, the thought of a smart device sharing their intimate conversations and sending those recordings along to their acquaintances is the stuff of dystopian nightmares. And for one family in Portland, it’s a nightmare that became all too real when their Amazon Echo sent a recording of a private conversation to a random contact in their phone book. Mercifully, the recorded conversation was fairly banal — a chat about home renovations. But as smart home technology is swiftly being integrated into our daily lives and private spaces, it’s not difficult to imagine far worse scen...

Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor What does it take to be a startup that raises huge sums quickly? Not a minimalist? Startups will gladly store, manage and deliver your items America’s mayors have spent the past nine months tripping over each other to curry favor with Amazon.com in its high-profile search for a second headquarters. More quietly, however, a similar story has been playing out in startup-land. Many of the most valuable venture-backed companies are venturing outside their high-cost headquarters and setting up secondary hubs in smaller cities. Where are they going? Nashville is pretty popular. So is Phoenix. Portland and Raleigh also are seeing some jobs. A number of companies also have a high number of remote offerings, seeking candidates with coveted s...