Changes are afoot at European VC Atomico, with news breaking that long-time partner Mattias Ljungman is leaving to raise his own seed fund.
TechCrunch understands that staff at the London-headquartered firm, which he co-founded in 2006 with Skype founder Niklas Zennström before becoming a partner two years later, were informed of his decision to part ways earlier today, although he won’t be leaving immediately. Instead, I’m told Ljungman will be transitioning out over the next six months to ensure as little disruption as possible.
Atomico is also thought to be on the verge of closing a new fund, so arguably the timing is well-aligned, too. ‘In between’ funds is the best time for a founding partner to leave a VC firm, if there ever is one.
In the meantime, Ljungman will be carrying on with existing portfolio responsibilities and gradually handing over his board seats to other Atomico team members. He currently sits on the boards of Peakon, Teatime Games, Bossa Studios, and Lendinvest, to name a few.
Ljungman’s seed firm is to be called Moonfire Ventures and my understanding is that Atomico will invest in the new venture and become one of its first LPs (the ‘Series A and beyond’ VC is an LP in a sprawling number of seed funds, something that it tends to keep quite quiet).
Meanwhile, Ljungman’s thinking is that while European seed stage investing has blossomed recently, the European early-stage ecosystem remains “too fragmented, immature and definitely underfunded”. He believes that there are some excellent seed funds in Europe, but more are needed and especially ones that can think on a pan-European basis and have global ambition.
“My hope is to assemble a team of investors who can light a fire within seed stage investing in Europe to help entrepreneurs grow their boundless ambition …Read More
Google and its flagship search portal opened the door to the possibilities of how to build a business empire on the back of organising and navigating the world’s information, as found on the internet. Now, a startup that’s built a search engine tailored to the needs of enterprises and their own quests for information has raised a round of funding to see if it can do the same for the B2B world.
AlphaSense, which provides a way for companies to quickly amass market intelligence around specific trends, industries and more to help them make business decisions, has closed a $50 million round of funding, a Series B that it’s planning to use to continue enhancing its product and expanding to more verticals.
Today, the company today counts some 1,000 clients on its books, with a heavy emphasis on investment banks and related financial services companies. That’s in part because of how the company got its start: Finnish co-founder and CEO Jaakko (Jack) Kokko he had been an analyst at Morgan Stanley in a past life and understood the labor and time pain points of doing market research, and decided to build a platform to help shorted a good part of the information gathering process.
“My experience as an analyst on Wall Street showed me just how fragmented information really was,” he said in an interview, citing as one example how complex sites like those of the FDA are not easy to navigate to look for new information an updates — the kind of thing that a computer would be much more adept at monitoring and flagging. “Even with the best tools and services, it still was really hard to manually get the work done, in part because of market volatility and the many factors that cause it. We can …Read More
Tomorrow is World Emoji Day. Why is there a World Emoji Day? No idea! But it’s tomorrow!
To recognize the day, Apple and Google have both shed some light on their plans regarding new emoji coming to their operating systems in the coming months. Both companies are adding around 60 new emoji in all, from cutesie stuff like sloths and otters to important icons of representation.
First up, both companies are overhauling their handholding couple emojis so that your emoji people can hold hands with whomever you please, regardless of gender or skin tone.
Google also notes that, as of Android Q, any Emoji that doesn’t have a gender specified in its Unicode documentation — emoji like “police officer” or “person getting haircut” and 51 others — will now default to a “gender ambiguous design.” You’ll be able to press-and-hold an emoji to select a “male” or “female” presentation, if you’d prefer.
Both platforms will also be getting a ton of new accessibility-focused emoji. Apple proposed these early last year, with the Unicode Consortium (the group that determines the official emoji set) giving its stamp of approval in February of this year.
There’s a service dog:
People using two different kinds of wheelchairs:
A prosthetic arm and prosthetic leg:
Ear with hearing aid, and the ASL sign for “deaf”:
And a person with a white cane:
There’s also a ton of other new stuff being added in, from animals to axes. There are sloths:
And orangutans, otters and skunks:
There’s a bunch of new clothing, including saris, swim shorts and safety vests:
And, finally, an emoji that I am honestly kinda shocked wasn’t already in there: the yawning smiley.
I fully expect to see that last one used sarcastically across Slack and Twitter at least…Read More
A Swiss regulatory agency that Facebook executive David Marcus said in congressional testimony would be responsible for overseeing data and privacy protections for the company’s newly launched cryptocurrency, Libra, has not been contacted by Facebook, according to a report.
CNBC is reporting that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, who Marcus said would oversee data protections for its cryptocurrency in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, has yet to hear from the company which is depending on it for oversight.
We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra… We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate.
Facebook’s attempted end-run around national monetary policy already has been criticized by lawmakers in the U.S. and around the world.
“With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users… Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, in a statement on the day Facebook announced its …Read More
If you’ve been waiting to check out Minecraft Earth (Mojang’s Pokémon GO-style augmented reality reimagining of its hugely popular game, Minecraft), good news: it’s starting to roll out to some people now.
The catch? It’s only available to a slice-of-a-slice of the world, at first.
After opening a registration system for its closed beta just a few days ago, the company says that it sent out the first batch of beta invites this afternoon.
The beta is being rolled out on a region-by-region basis, with randomly picked players in Seattle and London getting access at first. Mojang says more cities should go live in “the next few days,” but doesn’t get any more specific than that.
It’s also worth noting that the beta is iOS only for now; Android support is on the way, but it won’t land until later this summer.
Our own Devin Coldewey went hands-on with an early build of Minecraft Earth a few months ago — check out his first impressions here.Read More
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, Palantir and Founders Fund, made the comments in an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, where he described most of the Democratic presidential field as “equally unimpressive” and called Warren “the dangerous one.”
“I’m most scared by Elizabeth Warren,” he said. “I think she’s the one who’s actually talking about the economy, which is the only thing — the thing that I think matters by far the most.”
Thiel is a high-profile backer of libertarian causes and a Trump supporter — a fact that’s made him a controversial figure in Silicon Valley — so it’s hard to imagine that many Democratic primary voters will be following his recommendations. Indeed, to some, Thiel’s criticism could be seen as an endorsement.
During the same interview, Thiel — who sits on Facebook’s board — repeated points made in an earlier speech where he accused Google of “seemingly treasonous” conduct and said the government should investigate the search giant’s ties with China. (China being the main target in Trump’s trade war.)
Warren, who’s been gaining in some recent polls, has some thoughts on tech policy as well, having called for the breakup of Google, Amazon and Facebook and also proposed an equity fund for underrepresented entrepreneurs.Read More
Toyota will work with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on a fuel cell Moon rover vehicle, with a target launch date of a Moon mission currently set for 2029. The two previously announced their collaboration, but on Tuesday they signed a formal agreement, which defines a three-year joint research agreement to co-develop pressurized lunar rover prototypes.
Each year will see the partnership focus on a different phase of the prototype’s development, with 2019 all about identifying technical requirements and drawing up spec docs; next year, the goal will be to build test parts and then actually put together a rover prototype; finally, in fiscal 2021, the partners will test both the rover parts and rover prototype in order to evaluate the results for potential full production.
The pressurized rover will be able to transport astronauts over 10,000 km using its onboard fuel cells and solar recharging mechanism, according to a press release detailing the concept from March, prior to today’s development partnership agreement. It would have a total seating capacity of two people, with the option to carry as many as four if there’s an emergency need to do so.
It’s about the size of two microbuses, according to Toyota, which means about 20 feet long, by 17 feet wide and 12.5 feet tall. The six-wheeled concept also features deployable solar panels for recharging, ample communications equipment and a front winch for getting itself out of jams and other potential applications.
JAXA intends to continue its series of lunar missions, which included 2007’s Selene (or ‘Kayuga’) that sent an orbiter and a pair of communication satellites to lunar orbit. Ultimately, JAXA’s goal is to host a series of uncrewed and human missions under a broader Lunar Exploration Program, with the ultimate aim of establishing a presence for Japanese astronauts …Read More
Round sizes are up. Valuations are up. There are more investors than ever hunting unicorns around the globe. But for all the talk about the abundance of venture funding, there is a lot less being said about what it all means for entrepreneurs raising their early funding rounds.
Take for instance Seed-stage dilution. Since 2014, enterprise-focused tech companies have given up significantly more ownership during Seed rounds. What gives?
Scale is an investor in early-in-revenue enterprise technology companies, so we wanted to better understand how this trend in Seed-stage dilution impacts companies raising Series A and Series B rounds.
Using our Scale Studio dataset of performance metrics on nearly 800 cloud and SaaS companies as well as Pitchbook fundraising records covering B2B software startups, we started connecting the dots between trends in valuations, round sizes, and winner-take-all markets.
Bottom line for founders: Don’t let all the capital in venture mislead you. There’s an important connection between higher Seed-stage dilution and increased investor expectations during Series A and Series B rounds.
These days, successful startups are growing up faster than ever.
At first glance launching a new social app may seem as sensible a startup idea as plunging headfirst into shark-infested waters. But with even infamous curtain-ripper Facebook now making grand claims about a ‘pivot to privacy’ it’s clear something is shifting in the commercial shipping channels that contain our digital chatter.
Whisper it: Feeds are tiring. Follows are tedious. Attention is expiring. There’s also, of course, the damage that personal digital baggage left out in the open can wreak long after the fact of a blown fuse or fleeting snap.
Public feeds have become vehicles of self-promotion; carefully and heavily curated — which of course brings its own peer pressures to keep up with friends’ lux exploits and the influencer ‘gram aesthetic that pretends life looks like a magazine spread.
Yet for a brief time, in the gritty early years of social media, there was something akin to spontaneous, confessional reality on show online. People do like to share. That’s mostly been swapped for the polish of aspirational faking it on apps like Facebook-owned Instagram. While genuine friend chatter has moved behind the quasi-closed doors of group messaging apps, like Facebook-owned WhatsApp (or rival Telegram).
If you want to chat more freely online without being defined by your existing social graph the options are less mainstream friendly to say the least.
Twitter is genuinely great if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to find interesting strangers. But its user growth problem shows most consumers just aren’t willing (or able) to do that. Telegram groups also require time and effort to track down.
Also relevant in interest-based chat: Veteran forum Reddit, and game chat platform Discord — both pretty popular, though not in a way that really cuts across the mainstream, tending to cater to more niche and/or …Read More
Uber Air, the transportation company’s upcoming flying taxi service, needs vehicle partners in order to make it a reality. Karem Aircraft, which Uber partnered with last year, has just raised a $25 million Series A round for its new air taxi spin-off. The round was led by Korean industrial conglomerate Hanwha Systems.
“Karem’s technology for making safe, quiet, and efficient air taxi vehicles excites all of us,” Uber Elevate head Eric Allison said in a statement. “Hanwha’s Series A investment in Karem’s new air taxi entity accelerates efforts to bring the Butterfly to market, and we look forward to flying riders in places like Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne in the near future.”
Uber is aiming to start testing these aircraft next year, and wants to commercially deploy Uber Air in Los Angeles, Calif., Dallas-Fort Worth/Frisco, Texas and Melbourne, Australia in 2023.
Karem’s new venture is designed to focus solely on electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, specifically its Butterfly air taxi vehicle.
The Butterfly (rendered above) is a quad tiltrotor with four large rotors mounted on the wings and tail. The idea is to combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft. The Butterfly is also designed to be more efficient as a result of its rotors with variable RPM.
“The new company will be able to focus exclusively on bringing Butterfly to market, leveraging Karem’s optimum speed rotor technology, Hanwha’s industrial scale, and Uber’s ridesharing network,” Ben Tigner, CEO of the new venture, said in a statement. “We look forward to the day when riders will be able to commute to work by flying above the traffic in one of our vehicles. Karem Aircraft will continue to serve the needs of its military customers; we are confident that …Read More