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Addison Lee and Oxbotica ink self-driving deal, will offer autonomous car services in London by 2021

After undertaking a year-long investigation with Ford and four other mobility specialists on how to build self-driving systems that integrate with London’s existing transport infrastructure, Addison Lee today is announcing the next step in its autonomous strategy. The on-demand ride company — which competes with black cabs, Uber and other car services — announced a deal with self-driving startup Oxbotica to develop autonomous vehicles, with the aim of getting them in service in London by 2021. No financial details are being revealed about the deal. Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland, in an interview, described it as “purely commercial.” Currently Addison Lee is “unfashionably profitable,” he added, and so it is working on its current self-driving efforts off its own balance sheet. It is also whol...

Super Mario Party is Nintendo Switch’s best game

When I bought the Nintendo Switch a few months ago, my friends told me to buy Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That’s precisely what I did, but none of those games were enough to get me hooked, which is probably for the best. But then came Super Mario Party, which Nintendo released earlier this month for the Switch. I grew up gaming, but somehow never played Super Mario Party. Well, it seems as if I’ve been missing out my whole life. Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch is a quick, pick-up-and-play kind of game. You set the difficulty level, tell the game how much you want to party (ten, fifteen or twenty turns) and that’s how long you’ll party. But be careful playing with your friends or significant others — because it’s bound to stir ...

Egypt and Thailand: When the military turns against free speech

Ziad Reslan Contributor More posts by this contributor Elon Musk deserves tougher love from the SEC Solve, MIT’s take on social innovation challenges, may be different enough to work Wael Abbas, a human rights activist focused on police brutality in Egypt has been under arrest since May on charges of spreading fake news and “misusing social media.” Andy Hall, a labor rights researcher, has been fighting charges under Thailand’s computer crime laws because of a report published online that identified abuses of migrant workers. You wouldn’t normally mention Egypt and Thailand in the same breath. But both countries underwent military coups within the last five years, and even among the many oppressive regimes in the world, they are going to extra lengths today to prosecute free speech.  Abbas...

Blood money

Some years ago an investor I met at a TechCrunch event invited me out for a coffee. This happens a lot; as a weekly columnist here I am deemed an official Media Influencer, and people in turn want to influence me, until they realize I’m just going to ignore them and write about whatever weird idea comes into my head instead. I accepted this invitation, though, because this guy’s job was unusually interesting, in a bad way — he represented a venture fund affiliated with the Kremlin. This was before Russia was the democracy-manipulating enemy it is today, but just after Russia passed its “anti-gay law,” so angry anti-Russian sentiment was exceptionally strong. It was fascinating to me watching this man squirm around the topic: I’m a Bay Area guy, he told me, I’m pro gay rights, pro gay marri...

Apply for free tickets to Startup Battlefield Latin America 2018

We’re just a few short weeks away from the inaugural Startup Battlefield Latin America 2018 that takes place November 8 at the Tomie Ohtake Institute in São Paulo, Brazil. That’s when up to 15 of Latin America’s exceptional early-stage startup founders will launch their companies to the world as they compete for cash, glory and investor love. It promises to be a fierce competition, and we want you to come revel in the excitement, the knowledge-sharing, the networking and the opportunities. Best of all, spectator tickets are free — simply apply right here. We’ll select people in the Latin American startup scene on a first-come-first-served basis. We’ll notify all ticket winners via email. Here’s how the Startup Battlefield format works. During three preliminary rounds, up to five startups p...

Early-bird pricing to Disrupt Berlin 2018 flies away in four days

Die uhr tickt, menschen — the clock is ticking, people. Early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2018 migrates to parts unknown in just four days. If you want to join us at the Arena Berlin on 29-30 November — and save up to €500 in the process — you need to buy your pass before the 24 October deadline. Thousands of people across Europe and beyond — founders, investors, marketers, technologists, coders, hackers — arrive ready to dive deep into the subject they love most: tech startups. Disrupt Berlin is always an exciting adventure, and we’re pumped about this year’s lineup of speakers and events. Here’s just a quick sample of the speakers who will grace the Main Stage to share their stories and perspectives: Lucas di Grassi, former F1 driver and current CEO of Roborace, will discuss...

Khashoggi’s fate shows the flip side of the surveillance state

It’s been over five years since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lifted the lid on government mass surveillance programs, revealing, in unprecedented detail, quite how deep the rabbit hole goes thanks to the spread of commercial software and connectivity enabling a bottomless intelligence-gathering philosophy of ‘bag it all’. Yet technology’s onward march has hardly broken its stride. Government spying practices are perhaps more scrutinized, as a result of awkward questions about out-of-date legal oversight regimes. Though whether the resulting legislative updates, putting an official stamp of approval on bulk and/or warrantless collection as a state spying tool, have put Snowden’s ethical concerns to bed seems doubtful — albeit, it depends on who you ask. The UK’s post-Snowden Investigato...

Early-stage SaaS VC slip snaps recovery as public software stocks soar

A few months ago, Crunchbase News reported that a longstanding period of SaaS investment stagnation had come to an end. However, the investment boom times didn’t necessarily carry over to the seed and early-stage end of the subscription software businesses. The chart below displays deal and dollar volume of seed and early-stage venture investments1 made into companies from around the world in Crunchbase’s SaaS category. Note that it is subject to historically documented reporting delays, which are most pronounced in seed and early-stage deals. As can be plainly seen that Q3 2018 took quite a turn in terms of investment into SaaS. And it’s a bit bewildering as to why. Overall, the venture market in Q3 hit record heights, and nearly every stage of investment saw more dollars and more rounds....

China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine. It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms. Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the stronges...

Free societies face emerging, existential threats from technology

Bilal Zuberi Contributor Bilal Zuberi is a partner at Lux Capital, and is on the boards of Evolv Technology, CyPhy Technologies, and Nozomi Networks, among others. Silicon Valley is currently, and correctly, under fire for the failure of leading platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to protect against the spread of disinformation, hate speech and efforts to disrupt our elections. I don’t know why these companies behaved as they did. But whatever the reason – naiveté, excessive focus on near-term profits, or simply a lack of proper attention on mind-numbingly complex problems – it’s clear they have to do a better job of making sure technology makes our world safer, freer and more stable rather than the opposite. But it’s not just these big companies that need to up their game. As v...

Lessons from building Brex into a billion-dollar startup

Henrique Dubugras Contributor Henrique Dubugras is the founder Brex, the billion-dollar corporate credit provider for startups. When I think about my experience as an immigrant and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I remember growing up in Brazil and how we saw tech founders and CEOs as kings. We imagined what it would be like to assume the throne. But these weren’t just any kings. Silicon Valley was the kingdom of nerds and underdogs. We identified with these guys, they were just like us. We were fed the myth of a Silicon Valley meritocracy, and the illusion that all you needed was ambition, determination, and a good idea to meet the right person and get funded. What we didn’t understand was that this myth was not completely rooted in reality. Not everyone has access to the American Dream, ...

Domio just raised $12 million in Series A funding to build ‘apart hotels’ across the US

Hotels can be pricey, and travelers are often forced to leave their rooms for basic things, like food that doesn’t come from the minibar. Yet Airbnb accommodations, which have become the go-to alternative for travelers, can be highly inconsistent. Domio, a two-year-old, New York-based outfit, thinks there’s a third way: apartment hotels, or “apart hotels,” as the company is calling them. The idea is to build a brand that travelers recognize as upscale yet affordable, more tech friendly than boutique hotels and features plenty of square footage, which it expects will appeal to both families as well as companies that send teams of employees to cities and want to do it more economically. Domio has a host of competitors, if you’ll forgive the pun. Marriott International earlier this year intro...