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E-moto startup Alta Motors reportedly powers down

Brisbane, California based e-motorcycle startup Alta Motors has ceased operations, TechCrunch has confirmed.  Earlier today Asphalt and Rubber — and several subsequent outlets — reported the company stopped operating this morning, fired its staff, and may be looking for a buyer. Alta has yet to comment on the situation. “As of this morning I no longer represent Alta Motors so I’m not in a position to speak on it,” a former Alta Motors spokesperson told TechCrunch on background when asked about the shutdown. “I forwarded your request for more info to the board, and they’ll have to comment,” said the former comms rep. Alta’s head office has not respond to requests for comment. The EV company specializes in producing dual-sport and high performance electric powered off-road motorcycles. The s...

African experiments with drone technologies could leapfrog decades of infrastructure neglect

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Harley-Davidson is opening a Silicon Valley R&D center to power EV production With a $10 million round, Nigeria’s Paga plans global expansion Samantha Stein Contributor More posts by this contributor Only 48 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 Announcing Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2018 A drone revolution is coming to sub-Saharan Africa. Countries across the continent are experimenting with this 21st century technology as a way to leapfrog decades of neglect of 20th century infrastructure. Over the last two years, San Francisco-based startup Zipline launched a national UAV delivery program in East Africa; South Africa passed commercial drone legislation to train and license pilots; and Malawi even opened a...

Google will struggle if it re-enters China, says its former country head

The odds are stacked against Google if the reports are true and the company is trying to bring its services back to China, according to the former head of Google China. News reports last month uncovered details of internal plans to introduce a search product and a news app in China, moves that would mark a re-entry to the consumer market which Google left in 2010. The plans, which follow a noticeable increase in activity in China from Google, were widely criticized by activists and also raised concern internally from Google employees. Kaifu Lee left the search giant nine years following a four-year stint, and today he’s best-known as one of the world’s leading thinkers on AI and the founding partner of Chinese VC Sinovation Ventures. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco this week, ...

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 dives deep into artificial intelligence and machine learning

As fields of research, machine learning and artificial intelligence both date back to the 50s. More than half a century later, the disciplines have graduated from the theoretical to practical, real world applications. We’ll have some of the top minds in both categories to discuss the latest advances and future of AI and ML on stage and Disrupt San Francisco in early September. For the first time, Disrupt SF will be held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. It’s a huge space, which meant we could dramatically increase the amount of programming offered to attendees. And we did. Here’s the agenda. Tickets are still available even though the show is less than two weeks away. Grab one here. The show features the themes currently facing the technology world including artificial intelligence and ma...

How did Thumbtack win the on-demand services market?

Earlier today, the services marketplace Thumbtack held a small conference for 300 of its best gig economy workers at an event space in San Francisco. For the nearly ten-year-old company the event was designed to introduce some new features and a redesign of its brand that had softly launched earlier in the week. On hand, in addition to the services professionals who’d paid their way from locations across the U.S. were the company’s top executives. It’s the latest step in the long journey that Thumbtack took to become one of the last companies standing with a consumer facing marketplace for services. Back in 2008, as the global financial crisis was only just beginning to tear at the fabric of the U.S. economy, entrepreneurs at companies like Thumbtack andTaskRabbit were already hard at work...

Lessons from cybersecurity exits

Dear F0und3r: What a month this has been for cybersecurity! One unicorn IPO and two nice acquisitions – Zscaler’s great debut on wall street,  a $300 million acquisition of Evident.io by Palo Alto Networks and a $350 million acquisition of Phantom Cyber by Splunk has gotten all of us excited. Word on the street is that in each of those exits, the founders took home ~30% to 40% of the proceeds. Which is not bad for ~ 4 /5 years of work. They can finally afford to buy two bedroom homes in Silicon Valley. Evident.IO Investment Rounds and Return estimates Date Select Investors Round Size Pre Post Dilution Estimated Returns / Multiple of Invested Capital Sep 2013 True Ventures $1.5m $5.25m $6.75 m 22% 44X Nov 2014 Bain Capital $9.8 m $18.1m $28.0 m 35% 10.7X Apr 2016 Venrock $15.7 m $35.0 m $50...

Amazon isn’t to blame for the Postal Service’s woes, but it will need to innovate to survive

At the heart of our current President’s criticism is a claim that Amazon is making a mint and leaving a *failing* U.S. Postal Service holding the bag. It’s not a new critique from the Twitterer-in-Chief, but it is one that’s worth unpacking given the crippling effect technologies have had on the USPS — where email is even more reliable than a carrier undeterred by “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.“ Is it failing? “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” This infantile question was posed by President Trump on Twitter in December 2017. While it’s not clear what exactly prompted Trump’s criticism,  the tweet...