europe

iBanFirst raises $17 million to help companies move money around the world

French startup iBanFirst is raising another $17 million (€15 million) from Serena Capital and Breega Capital, with existing investor Xavier Niel putting in more money, as well. iBanFirst solves a very specific problem. If you operate a company that works with suppliers all over the world, chances are you waste a ton of money exchanging and sending money. iBanFirst wants to make currency conversion as easy as transferring money from your savings account to your current account. You first send money from your corporate bank account to your iBanFirst account. You can then convert and hold money in 28 currencies. iBanFirst shows you the interbank exchange rate and how many fees you’ll pay. But you’ll likely pay way less than using your traditional bank account. With 100 employees and 2,000 cli...

UK watchdog has eyes on Google-DeepMind’s health app hand-off

The shock news yesterday that Google is taking over a health app rolled out to UK hospitals over the past few years by its AI division, DeepMind, has caught the eye of the country’s data protection watchdog — which said today that it’s monitoring developments. An ICO spokesperson told us: “An ICO investigation and an independent audit into the use of Google Deepmind’s Streams service by the Royal Free both highlighted the importance of clear and effective governance when NHS bodies use third parties to provide digital services, particularly to ensure the original purpose for processing personal data is respected. “We expect all the measures set out in our undertaking, and in the audit, should remain in place even if the identity of the third party changes. We are continuing to monitor the ...

Discover the next messaging giant at Disrupt Berlin

Truecaller may already be a familiar name, but many of you probably don’t know that it’s slowly becoming a significant messaging app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Truecaller co-founder and CEO Alan Mamedi will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Truecaller first started as a call screening app. Some countries are more affected than others. But it’s clear that text and call spam is the most intrusive form of spam. The Swedish company then leveraged this user base to quietly turn the app into a full-fledged messaging app with one focus in particular — India. With the acquisition of Chillr, the company shows that it wants to recreate a sort of WeChat for India. The company launched payment features — Truecaller Pay lets you pay other Truecaller users as well as pay your bills. Ev...

Anorak raises £5M Series A for its life insurance advice platform

Anorak Technologies, the U.K. startup building a life insurance advice platform, has raised £5 million in Series A funding. Notably, the round is led by previous backer Kamet Ventures, the tech incubator funded by insurance giant AXA. It brings the total raised by Anorak to £9 million. In a call, co-founder and CEO David Vanek told me the startup’s mission is to build the world’s “smartest” automated life insurance advice platform. It wants to offer insurance advice at the most appropriate time and place in a person’s life, such as when buying a house or starting a family, and in turn open up life insurance cover to many more people. As it stands, life insurance, such as accidental death cover, tends to be sold through financial advisors or brokers targeting high net worth individuals. Tha...

BlaBlaCar to acquire Ouibus and offer bus service

French startup BlaBlaCar is announcing plans to acquire Ouibus, the bus division of France’s national railway company SNCF. For the first time, BlaBlaCar is moving beyond carpooling and plans to offer both long-distance carpooling rides and bus rides. BlaBlaCar already ran a test with Ouibus for the past six months on popular corridors. It looks like both companies are happy with this test as SNCF is willing to let BlaBlaCar run Ouibus from now on. As part of this deal, BlaBlaCar is announcing a new $114 million investment (€101 million) from SNCF and existing BlaBlaCar investors. I’d guess that this isn’t just cash but probably cash and shares as part of the move with SNCF. Yes, you read that correctly, SNCF is now an investor in BlaBlaCar. Ouibus has transported over 12 million passenger...

Framer, the interactive design platform, scores $24M Series B led by Atomico

Framer, the Amsterdam-based startup behind interactive design platform Framer X, has raised $24 million in Series B investment. The round is led by European VC firm Atomico, with participation from Accel, and AngelList. The startup says it will use the new capital to continue building out its platform for designers and product teams. It brings the total raised to date by Framer to $33 million. Founded by ex-Facebookers Koen Bok and Jorn van Dijk, Framer has set out to ride (and power) a trend that is seeing every company having to become a digital business and often a product-first company, as consumers become accustomed to high quality apps and other desirable digital experiences. This means that better tools are required to prototype news apps or features, and therefore help shorten the ...

SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8B in cash, just before the survey software company’s IPO

Ryan Smith of Qualtrics speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 Enterprise software giant SAP announced today that it has agreed to acquire Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash, just before the survey and research software company was set to go public. The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. Qualtrics last round of venture capital funding in 2016 raised $180 million at a $2.5 billion valuation. This is the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016. In a conference call, SAP CEO Bill McDermott said Qualtrics’ IPO was already oversubscribed and that the two companies began discussions a few months ago. SAP claims its software touches 77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue, while Qualtric...

Bubble lets you create web applications with no coding experience

Meet Bubble a bootstrapped startup that has been building a powerful service that lets you create a web application even if you don’t know how to code. Many small and big companies rely on Bubble for their website. I have to say I was quite skeptical when I first heard about Bubble. Many startups have already tried to make coding as easy as playing with Lego bricks. But it’s always frustratingly limited. Bubble is more powerful than your average website building service. It recreates all the major pillars of web programming in a visual interface. It starts with a design tab. You start with a blank canvas and you can create web pages by dragging and dropping visual elements on the screen. You can put elements wherever you want, resize maps, text boxes, images and more. You can click on the ...

Nested, the online estate agent that makes home sellers ‘chain-free’, raises further £120M

Nested, the London-based “data-driven” estate agency that provides a cash advance to help you buy a new home before you’ve sold your old one, has raised a further £120 million in funding. The new round is a mixture of equity and debt: £20 million and £100 million, respectively. Leading the equity round is Northzone, and Balderton Capital, while the debt finance comes from an unnamed institutional investor. It is noteworthy that Balderton has only just invested in Nested several rounds into the company’s existence, considering that the London-based venture capital firm typically invests earlier at Series A. Balderton is also a backer of GoCardless, the payments company previously co-founded by Nested founder Matt Robinson. That said, Balderton General Partner Tim Bunting did invest in Neste...

David Attenborough to voice Netflix’s nature conservation series, Our Planet

Netflix has persuaded everyone’s favorite naturalist, David Attenborough, to voice its forthcoming original nature documentary series, Our Planet, which is slated to put conservation squarely in the frame, not just offer glorious animal eye-candy. It’s a timely moment to focus on conservation with climate change posing existential threats to global biodiversity — unless humans act to limit temperature rises. Since the 1970s Attenborough has voiced and fronted myriad major BBC nature documentaries, including the recent critically acclaimed Blue Planet series. Some of his output has been available to stream on Netflix. But now the on-demand video platform has signed the 92-year-old to voice an eight-part original nature series it’s been creating in collaboration with Silverback Films — whose...

Facebook is facing an EU data probe over fake ads

The UK’s privacy watchdog has asked Facebook’s lead EU regulator to look into ongoing data protection concerns about its ad platform — including how its platform is being used to target and spread fake adverts to try to manipulate voters. Facebook’s international HQ is in Ireland so the regulator in play here is the Irish Data Protection Commission. The ICO noted the action in a 113-page report to parliament yesterday giving an update on its long-running investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns — writing: We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook’s targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals’ browsing habits, interactions and behaviour across the internet and different devices to the to the IDPC. Under the GDPR, the IDPC is ...

Portify raises £1.3M to help gig economy workers improve their financial wellbeing

Portify, a London fintech startup that offers an app and various financial products to help gig economy workers better manage their finances and in turn improve financial wellbeing, has raised £1.3 million in seed investment. The round is led by Kindred Capital, and company builder and investor Entrepreneur First (EF), with participation from various unnamed angel investors. Founded in May last year by EF alumni Sho Sugihara (CEO) and Chris Butcher (CTO), Portify is setting out to address the financial volatility many flexible or so-called gig economy workers face. The startup offers a number of tailored financial products, accessible via its mobile app, to help flexible workers get insights into their current financial status and income, as well as do short and long-term financial plannin...