United States

Quantum computing, not AI, will define our future

William (“Whurley”) Hurley Contributor William Hurley, commonly known as whurley, is an American entrepreneur and the founder of Chaotic Moon Studios, Honest Dollar, and Equals: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. He is currently chairing the Quantum Computing Working Group for the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), and is the founder and chief executive of Strangeworks. The word “quantum” gained currency in the late 20th century as a descriptor signifying something so significant, it defied the use of common adjectives. For example, a “quantum leap” is a dramatic advancement (also an early ’90’s television series starring Scott Bakula). At best, that is an imprecise (though entertaining) definition. When “quantum” is applied to “computing,” howeve...

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Brooks Rainwater Contributor More posts by this contributor As tasks wane, skills rise Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities Scott Andes Contributor Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program. The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.” Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like...

Pitching a $99 tax advisory service for the masses, Visor has raised $9 million

The only sure things in this life, according to Ben Franklin, are death and taxes. And a new startup called Visor has just raised $9 million in financing to make one of them as painless as possible. Unlike Nectome, Visor won’t kill anyone, but it may ring the death knell for the high end tax advisors that most Americans can’t even access to get help filing and paying their taxes.  It’s like having a personalized accountant for the cost of a high-end do-it-yourself tax-prep service. The $9 million Visor raised came from the venture capital firm, Defy, with participation from Unusual Ventures, SVB Capital and existing investors like Obvious Ventures, Fika Ventures and Boxgroup, who had put a previous $6.5 million into the company.  The idea for the company had been percolating for co-founder...

Lies, damn lies, and HQ2

There are few things certain in our world except for the uplifting tendencies of technology. I’ve spent the past few years trying to prove this to myself, at least, by interviewing hundreds of thinkers on the topic. I’ve come to a singular conclusion: when tech moves into a city, be it an iOS dev shop or a robotic facility for making widgets, things change primarily for the better. Given the recent rush to gain 25,000 or so jobs from Amazon’s HQ2 and the subsequent grumbling by cities passed over, it is difficult to refute this, but I’d like explore it. Many cities have gained from tech, both historically and recently. Pittsburgh, for example, had a plan to become a tech city back in the early 1990s after seeing the value coming out of Carnegie Mellon and the other universities in town. An...

Sweet Escape connects travelers to photographers for truly Insta-worthy holiday pics

The rise of smartphone cameras and social media in recent years has fuelled a new level of marking and sharing memories using photos, but one startup is betting that people are prepared to go the next level and spend money to hire professional photographers to make their photos even better. Focused on travel, Sweet Escape is an Indonesia-based startup that to work with over 2,000 photographers across over 400 cities in some 100 countries. The idea is simple. If you’re traveling — overseas or locally — and want high quality photos of your trip, or just part of it, you can use Sweet Escape to find and book out a local snapper for you and your group. Photo shoots last for two hours and are charged at $300, Sweet Escape founder David Soong told TechCrunch in an interview, while activities vary...

In venture capital, it’s still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu Contributor Howie Xu is the vice president of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Zscaler. He previously co-founded TrustPath and served as an entrepreneur in residence at Greylock. This month marks the 5-year anniversary of Aileen Lee’s landmark article, “Welcome To The Unicorn Club”. At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the her...

The top 10 cities for $100M VC rounds in 2018 so far

Crunchbase News recently profiled a selection of U.S. companies’ largest VC raised in 2018, and no surprise here: the 10 largest rounds all topped out well north of $100 million. A major driver of global venture dollar growth is the relatively recent phenomenon of companies raising $100 million or more in a single venture round. We’ve called these nine and 10-figure deals, which shine brightly in the media and are hefty enough to bend the curve of VC fund sizes upwards, “supergiants” after their stellar counterparts. And like stars, venture-backed companies tend to originate and co-exist in clusters, while the physical space between these groups is largely empty. We noticed that many of the companies behind these supergiant rounds are headquartered in just a few metro areas around the Unit...

Mexican venture firm ALL VP has a $73 million first close on its latest fund

Buoyed by international attention from U.S. and Chinese investors and technology companies, new financing keeps flowing into the coffers of Latin American venture capital firms. One day after the Brazilian-based pan-Latin American announced the close of its $150 million latest fund comes word from our sources that ALL VP, the Mexico City-based, early stage technology investor, has held a first close of $73 million for its latest investment vehicle. The firm launched its first $6 million investment vehicle in 2012, according to CrunchBase, just as Mexico’s former President Enrique Peña Nieto was coming to power with a pro-business platform. One which emphasized technology development as part of its strategy for encouraging economic growth. ALL VP founding partner Fernando Lelo de Larrea sai...

Grab pulls in $250M from Hyundai as ongoing round reaches $2.7B

Grab, the Singapore startup that bought Uber’s Southeast Asia business earlier this year, continues to announce strategic investors for its ongoing Series H funding round. The latest edition revealed today is Korean automotive firm Hyundai, which is investing $250 million. Hyundai first invested in Grab in January, and it joins recently announced investors Microsoft (undisclosed) and Booking Holdings ($200 million) in the round, which is aimed at reaching at least $3 billion before the end of this year. Grab first announced a $1 billion investment from Toyota in June and that was doubled to $2 billion when a range of institutional backers joined. Those include OppenheimerFunds, Ping An Capital, Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Macquarie Capital, and today...

Tink Labs, which gives free-to-use smartphones to hotel guests, is raising $300M

Tink Labs, a Hong Kong startup that develops smartphones that hotels provide to their guests for free, is raising a new round of up to $300 million to further its international footprint, TechCrunch has come to understand. The startup is in the final stages of completing the deal that could give its six-year-old business a post-money valuation of at least $1.5 billion, two sources with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch . It isn’t clear at this point which investors are part of the round, but once source said Tink Labs has made an effort to court hotels and travel firms as investors since it believes they could provide strategic value beyond simply capital. But any hoteliers would likely provide smaller checks, with more established investors picking up the bulk of the round. Tink La...

Female founders have brought in just 2.2% of US VC this year (yes, again)

Despite efforts to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs, U.S. female-founded startups have raised just 2.2 percent of venture capital investment in 2018. That statistic may sound familiar; it’s the exact same portion of capital startups founded by a solo female founder or an all-female team secured last year, too, according to PitchBook. That figure has become a sort-of rallying cry for female founders and their advocates as they try to develop solutions to a long-standing problem: female entrepreneurs raise significantly less private capital than their male counterparts. Several new efforts and entire organizations, like All Raise, for example, have cropped up to ameliorate this through mentorship and programming, but it’s clearly going to take more than one year for that incr...

A long and winding road to new copyright legislation

Dave Davis Contributor Dave Davis joined Copyright Clearance Center in 1994 and currently serves as a research analyst. He previously held directorships in both public libraries and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. More posts by this contributor How AI and copyright would work Back in May, as part of a settlement, Spotify agreed to pay more than $112 million to clean up some copyright problems. Even for a service with millions of users, that had to leave a mark. No one wants to be dragged into court all the time, not even bold, disruptive technology start-ups. On October 11th, the President signed the Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “Act”, or “MMA”). The ...