Technology

Technology

Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso just raised venture funding for her new company

Sophia Amoruso famously founded the retailer Nasty Gal, growing it from an Ebay store that sold vintage items to a darling of the fashion world that was seeing more than $300 million in sales at one point. Somewhere along the way, however, Nasty Gal lost its way. After raising $65 million over its ten years of operation — including from Index Ventures and renowned retail executive Ron Johnson — the company last November filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Central District of California, in part to address “immediate liquidity issues.” The company was ultimately acquired for $20 million in February. In the meantime, Amoruso, who’d stepped away as CEO of Nasty Gal in January of 2016 but had remained on as executive chairman, is on to a new business, and now it’s venture-backed....

Pepsi one-ups Budweiser brewer by ordering 100 Tesla electric semi trucks

PepsiCo is the latest company to reveal that it’s placed orders for Tesla’s forthcoming electric semi-truck – and also the company with the largest order so far. The beverage company has ordered 100 of the trucks per Reuters, meaning it’s placed at least a $20,000 deposit for each of those since Tesla rose the downpayment amount for its original $5,000 starting point. PepsiCo is actually the second large beverage concern this week to announce its intent to purchase some of Tesla’s all-electric Class 8 heavy duty towing vehicles; Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch revealed earlier that it has put down money for 40 Tesla Semis. Tesla is seeing a lot of pre-order interest already, from major fleet operators including Walmart, Canadian grocery chain Loblaws and many more. The amounts are, however...

Geminids meteor shower could be the year’s best, scientists say

Skywatchers are in for a dazzling show tonight. The annual Geminid meteor shower that will streak across the night sky will be one of the best of the year, scientists say. The Geminid meteors are expected to peak overnight. With good weather conditions, the cosmic display can be seen between 7:30 p.m. and dawn local time. The largest number of meteors will be visible between midnight and 4 a.m. local time, according to NASA. “With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The thin, waning crescent Moon won’t spoil the show.” Considered one of the year’s most reliable meteor showers, the Geminids occur every December when Earth pas...

Payments startup iZettle raises $47M at a $950M valuation

iZettle — the payments startup based out of Stockholm that competes against companies like Square, Paypal and SumUp to provide card transactions using smartphones and tablets as well as related accounting services — has raised another €40 million ($47 million), money that CEO and co-founder Jacob de Geer told TechCrunch would be used to expand into more markets beyond the 12 where it currently operates in Europe and Latin America. The company declined to disclose its valuation, which last was at €500 million (about $584 million) in its Series D. “It’s absolutely an upround,” De Geer said in an interview. “We tend to have an internal saying that the valuation of the company is the sum of all the problems that we solved, and we’ve solved millions of those so the valuation should be in line w...

Here’s what people were Googling in 2017

There are few metrics in the world that offer as much insight into our society as Google’s annual “Year in Search.” More than any of the other year-end download and streaming roundups, Google’s offers a clear snapshot of the things that captured our imaginations and baffled us during what felt like a particularly turbulent year. Here in the U.S., the top overall searches cover a pretty wide range of the human experience, running the gamut from natural phenomenon, to sports, to human tragedy, to the sexual misconduct allegations that have been echoing across a wide range of industries in recent months. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey took the first and eighth spots in the Top 10, and August’s much-hyped solar eclipse came in at No. 7. The October shooting in Las Vegas that ended in 59 deaths was...

Uber doubles down on Indonesia after hiring its first country president

As part of its new approach to Asia, Uber has announced a first president for its business in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country. Monika Rudijono will take up the role in January, joining from advertising and marketing firm Grey where she had been presidential director. She’ll report directly to Brooks Entwistle, who joined Uber in August to lead its Asia Pacific business minus India. Uber previously opted for a presidential management structure in India, which is run separate to the rest of its Asian operations. Indonesia is an interesting market for Uber for a number of reasons. A report from Google and Temasek estimates that Indonesia will account for more than 40 percent of Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing industry, which is forecast t...

FreightHub, a European ‘digital freight forwarder’, scores $20M Series A

FreightHub, a Berlin and Hamburg-based startup that claims to be Europe’s first fully digital freight forwarder, has raised a $20 million Series A round, just 1.5 years since launch. The round is led by VC firm Northzone, with participation from existing investors. The latter includes Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital (GFC), Cherry Ventures, Cavalry Ventures, and La Famiglia. Operating in the freight industry, a market that is ripe for digitalisation and as a result has attracted a plethora of well-funded startups, FreightHub is setting out to compete with and replace traditional freight forwarding companies who typically rely on legacy IT systems and cumbersome and manual processes. This, the company claims, leads to price opacity and inefficiencies, something it is aiming to erad...

Line adds unsend for recalling missent messages

Messaging platform Line has added the ability for users to retrieve messages they’ve sent in error. The unsend feature, which has been added via an update out today, gives users a 24 hour window for unsending missives — so it’s considerably more generous than the unsend option rival platform WhatsApp added in October (which offers a mere seven minutes for users to realize their regrets). Line doesn’t cite WhatsApp in its explainer for launching the unsend feature — claiming instead that it wants to give users “peace of mind” and expand their “communication choices”. Line’s unsend feature can be used across chat types — in one-to-one conversations, multi-user and groups chats. It will also work whether a message has been read or not. Message types that can be deleted within 24 hours of bein...

Apple invests $390 million in TrueDepth component maker Finisar

Apple announced a substantial investment in Finisar. Apple is giving Finisar $390 million to build a new 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas. Finisar is going to hire 500 people to work on the laser sensor in the TrueDepth camera in the iPhone X. Today’s investment is part of Apple’s commitment to invest $1 billion in U.S.-based companies with its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. Apple says that Finisar is going to work on both research & development and high-volume production of optical communications components. The most complicated components are the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) used in the iPhone X for Face ID, Animoji, Portrait mode and other face-mapping technologies. But Finisar also works on proximity sensors including the ones in the AirPo...

Betting consumers are tired of bad bank behavior, Aspiration raises $47 million for its alternative

[embedded content] A who’s who of celebrities, investors and celebrity investors have come together to invest $47 million into Aspiration, the company launched by a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton to challenge the traditional banking industry. For Andrei Cherny, Aspiration’s founder and chief executive, the company’s business is an inversion of the business model of the typical modern bank. “The problem with how banks make money off of most people is that often times banks make money when the consumer fails,” says Cherny. Everything from overdraft fees to late payment fines to ATM fees are the cash cows for retail banks, says Cherny. “Those moments when the customer is feeling pain is when the banks make their money,” he says. But they also make money off of selling products...

HotelTonight is revamping their rewards program with infinite levels

Last year HotelTonight launched HT Perks, their own twist on a hotel loyalty program. The program is level-based, meaning user “level up” as they meet certain tiers of lifetime spend in the app. It was generally well received but maybe a little under ambitious – it maxed out at level 4 – which granted a user as much as 20% off in extra savings after spending a lifetime total of $5,000 in the app. So today they are updating the program and expanding these four tiers to an infinite amount. In the new program users get a discount off of base rates once they hit level 2 at $250 in lifetime spend, and that discount doubles at level 3 for $1k lifetime spend, triples at level 4 for $2k lifetime spend. and quadruples at level 8 for $6k in lifetime spend. After hitting level 4 for $2k lifetime spen...

New York City moves to establish algorithm-monitoring task force

New York City may soon gain a task force dedicated to monitoring the fairness of algorithms used by municipal agencies. Formed from experts in automated systems and representatives of groups affected by those systems, it would be responsible for closely examining algorithms in use by the city and making recommendations on how to improve accountability and avoid bias. The bill, which doesn’t have a fancy name, has been approved by the city council and is on the Mayor’s desk for signing. The New York division of the ACLU has argued in favor of it. Say, for instance, an “automated decision system” (as the law calls them) determines to a certain extent who’s eligible for bail. It may be that biases inherent to the training data that produced this system tend to result in one group being unjust...