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Amazon, which has invested more than $6 billion in India’s growing internet market, just invested a little more as it moves to expand its presence in the country’s brick and mortar space that drives much of the sales in the nation. The U.S. e-commerce giant is acquiring a 49% stake in Future Coupons, a group entity owned by India’s second largest retail chain, Future Retail, the latter said in a regulatory filing Thursday evening (local time).
An Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch the investment would “enhance Amazon’s existing portfolio of investments in the payments landscape in India.” The spokesperson added, “Amazon has agreed to invest in Future Coupons Limited, which is engaged in developing innovative value-added payment products and solutions such as corporate gift cards, loyalty cards, and reward cards primarily for corporate and institutional customers.”
Future Coupons owned about a 7.3% stake in Future Retail as of early this year, according to past regulatory filings. This means that today’s deal would give Amazon a 3.58% stake in Future Retail. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though based on Future Retail’s current market cap — about $2.9 billion — a 3.58% stake in the company would cost about $104 million.
“Pursuant to these agreements, Amazon has agreed to make an equity investment in Future Coupons Limited for acquiring a 49% stake comprising both voting and non-voting shares. As part of the agreement, Amazon has been granted a call option,” Future Retail said in a filing (PDF) to the local stock exchange.
As part of the agreement, Amazon will have the right of first refusal to purchase more stake in Future Retail both directly as well as via entities.
“The Promoters have also agreed to certain share transfer restrictions on their shares in the Company for same tenure, …Read More
After months of rumors, Verizon finally sold off Tumblr for a reported $3 million — a fraction of what Yahoo paid for the once mighty blogging service back in 2013.
The media conglomerate (which also owns TechCrunch) was clearly never quite sure what to do with the property after gobbling it up as part of its 2016 Yahoo acquisition. All parties have since come to the conclusion that Tumblr simply wasn’t a good fit under either the Verizon or Yahoo umbrella, amounting to a $1.1 billion mistake.
For Tumblr, however, the story may still have a happy ending. By all accounts, its new home at Automattic is a far better fit. The service joins a portfolio that includes popular blogging service WordPress.com, spam filtering service Akismet and long-form storytelling platform, Longreads.
In an interview this week, Automattic founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg discussed Tumblr’s history and the impact of the poorly received adult content restrictions. He also shed some light on where Tumblr goes from here, including a potential increased focused on multimedia such as podcasting.
Brian Heater: I’m curious how [your meetings with Tumblr staff] went. What’s the feeling on the team right now? What are the concerns? How are people feeling about the transition?
By the end of 2019, the global gaming market is estimated to be worth $152 billion, with 45% of that, $68.5 billion, coming directly from mobile games. With this tremendous growth (10.2% YoY to be precise) has come a flurry of investments and acquisitions, everyone wanting a cut of the pie. In fact, over the last 18 months, the global gaming industry has seen $9.6 billion in investments and if investments continue at this current pace, the amount of investment generated in 2018-19 will be higher than the eight previous years combined.
What’s interesting is why everyone is talking about games, and who in the market is responding to this — and how.
Today, mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app. It’s predicted that in 2019, 2.4 billion people will play mobile games around the world — that’s almost one-third of the global population. In fact, 50% of mobile app users play games, making this app category as popular as music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, and second only to social media and communications apps in terms of time spent.
In the U.S., time spent on mobile devices has also officially outpaced that of television — with users spending eight more minutes per day on their mobile devices. By 2021, this number is predicted to increase to more than 30 minutes. Apps are the new prime time, and games have grabbed the lion’s share.
Accessibility is the highest it’s ever been as barriers to entry are virtually non-existent. From casual games to the recent rise of the …Read More
Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and nowhere is that more true than on college campuses. Students are ditching boring office jobs to seek out their own opportunities, whether that is launching a bootstrapped app, contributing to an open-source project, or building a venture-scalable startup.
Here at Extra Crunch, our mission is to go behind the headlines that cross our desks here at TechCrunch every day to ask how founders build great startups. How did they get started? How did they raise funding? How did they hire, and how did they handle the immigration processes often associated with new hires? How did they build out marketing channels? And when all of those parts work out, how do they exit? We work relentlessly to bring that expert knowledge to our members every single day.
Whether you’re a lifelong entrepreneur who started your first business at five years old or just someone discovering that startups and building products can be a career onto themselves, we are here to help you every step of the way.
And now, we want to make it even easier to access that help. For back to school this year, we are offering students a special subscription rate of $50 per year (regular price: $150) with similar discounts for international members. All you have to do is send an email using your school address to [email protected] and our founder success team will get you all squared away.
And if you want to sign up your entire startup or entrepreneurship club — we are offering volume discounts as well for student groups. Reach out to Travis Bernard [email protected] if you are interested in bulk student rates, and make sure you include how many students you have in your group.
The world needs …Read More
TechCrunch has learned of a safety issue and a number of product reliability questions being raised about a modular computer made by a London edtech startup that’s intended for children to learn coding and electronics.
The product, called the pi-top 3, is a Raspberry Pi-powered laptop with a keyboard that slides out to access a rail for breadboarding electronics.
A student at a US school had to be attended by a nurse after touching a component in the device which had overheated, leaving them with redness to their finger.
A spokesperson for Cornell Tech confirmed the incident to us — which they said had happened in June. We’ve withheld the name of the school at their request.
In an internal pi-top email regarding this incident, which we’ve also reviewed, it describes the student being left with “a very nasty finger burn”.
Cornell Tech’s spokesperson told us it has stopped using the pi-top 3 — partly in response to this incident but also because of wider reliability issues with the device. They said some of their grad students will be working on a project with the K-12 team next semester with the aim of creating an alternative that’s more reliable, affordable and safe.
We have also been told of concerns about wider reliability issues with the pi-top 3 by a number of other sources.
We asked pi-top for comment on the safety incident at Cornell Tech and for details of how it responded. The company provided us with a statement in which it claims: “pi–top incorporates all possible safeguards into our products to ensure they are safe.”
“As soon as we became aware of this incident we immediately investigated what had happened,” it went on. “We discovered that the incident was a one-in-a-million occurrence. The user …Read More
Overstock announced today that CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from his role as chief executive and board member. Another board member, Jonathan Johnson, will be taking over as Overstock’s interim CEO.
This follows the company’s eyebrow-raising press release earlier this month titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” in which Byrne said he was confirming reports by journalist Sara Carter.
“Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the ‘Clinton Investigation’ and the ‘Russian Investigation’ (in fact, I am the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation),” he wrote, going on to say that this was “the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black.”
Byrne and his attorney subsequently said that these comments were tied to his “romantic” relationship with Maria Butina, and that he wanted to shed light on the way federal law enforcement investigated her. Butina has been accused of working as a Russian agent and is currently in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
Since then, the publicly traded e-commerce company has seen its stock price tumble.
Today’s announcement also takes the form of a letter from Byrne, in which he said he “came forward in as carefully and well-managed fashion” as he could, but that it still had a detrimental effect on the company.
“Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business,” Byrne said. “Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both …Read More
I liked the Lenovo Smart Clock when I reviewed it back in June. It’s a pretty minimalist take on the smart screen designed for the very specific purpose of living next to your bed. The streamlined features are very much by design — rather than the kitchen sink approach, the clock is built around a relatively limited number of Assistant functions, coupled with tailored alarm functionality.
Today, Google’s bringing a handful of new features, attempting to walk that line by adding functions without making the bedside product overly distracting. The addition of Google Photos is a no-brainer, using the app to double as a small-screen digital picture frame while it sits idle. Hey look, a Yorkie.
Google’s also bringing one of the best smart screen features to the small display, with the ability to view video from smart cameras. Not a bad feature to have next to your bed. Interestingly, while the product is clearly capable of displaying video, Google still isn’t making YouTube available here, for the aforementioned reason of “limiting distractions.”
It’s a nice sentiment, but YouTube’s always been Google’s biggest and best weapon in smart screen wars. The company really pulled the rug out from under Amazon by blocking access to the service on Echo devices. Google says it may revisit the feature later, however, depending on user feedback.
Also new here is Continued Conversation, which keeps Assistant active for longer, in order to create a more “natural back-and-forth conversation” with the AI. The idea is to lessen the number of times the user has to use the wake word to interact with Assistant.
Those features are starting to roll out this week. The Smart Clock will also be available in additional countries soon, including India.
We’ve long known that 5G rollout wouldn’t happen overnight. But now that carriers have gotten things started, they’ve been confronted with pushback against the next-gen wireless technology’s limitations. Among the bigger issues is spotty coverage indoors — you know, that place where most of us spend most of our time?
Verizon’s looking to address the issue by partnering with Boingo — a name that ought to prove familiar for anyone who’s attempted to get on Wi-Fi at an airport. The carrier (which is, incidentally, also our parent company) says it’s teaming with the wireless provider to expand coverage in hard to reach spots, including stadiums, offices, hotels and those aforementioned airports.
“Verizon and Boingo are working together to architect a hyper-dense network designed for large and small indoor spaces as part of Verizon’s ongoing 5G network expansions,” per the carrier.
There are still plenty of questions, including how quickly and when those rollouts will start. One assumes they will begin in cities where Verizon has already begun to deliver 5G in places. That list now includes 10 cities, with greater Phoenix joining the others. The usual caveats of 5G apply here, with the tech still limited to certain areas/neighborhoods. Those are as follows:
Initially, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service will be concentrated in Downtown Phoenix around several well-known landmarks, including: Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, The Orpheum Theatre, CityScape, and Chase Field. It will also be available in Tempe, on the Arizona State University campus.
Tomorrow Verizon also adds another 5G device to its portfolio with its limited-time exclusive on the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.
SpotHero, the Chicago-based company that has developed an on-demand parking app, has raised $50 million in a Series D round led by Macquarie Capital.
Union Grove Venture Partners participated in the round, along with existing investors, including Insight Venture Partners, Global Founders Capital, OCA Ventures, AutoTech Ventures and others, according to the company. SpotHero has raised $118 million to date.
The new capital will be used to expand its reach in the 300 U.S. and Canadian cities where it is already operating, build out its digital platform and strengthen partnerships with mobility companies, CEO and co-founder Mark Lawrence told TechCrunch.
SpotHero, which has operations in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and Seattle, initially set out to develop software that connects everyday drivers to parking spots in thousands of garages across North America.
Its secret sauce is its software, which can sit on top of the 40 or so different point-of-sales systems used by parking garages. This acts as a single protocol, allowing SpotHero to bring some kind of standardization to an otherwise fragmented system. From this single protocol, SpotHero can add features that will allow for automated parking services, such as license plate recognition.
“We’ve built the pipes, so to speak, and this powers our consumer app,” Lawrence said in a recent interview. Now the company focus is on building out partnerships, features in the software and services, he added.
Capital will also be used to hire talent to support these new endeavors. SpotHero has 210 employees, and is working on hiring 50 more engineers this year.
In the eight years since its founding, SpotHero has expanded beyond its core consumer-focused competency. The company has added other services as urban density has increased and on-street parking has become more jumbled and confused thanks to an increase in traffic, …Read More
Bose’s portable speaker offerings have tended toward the cheaper end of the spectrum — bringing colorful competition for companies like JBL. With the dryly named Portable Home Speaker, however, the company looks to split the difference between portable and premium. And it’s certainly priced for the latter.
The $349 speaker looks to something of a high end take on the dearly departed Amazon Tap. It’s pretty small for the price, with a large handle up top so it can be moved from room to room, accordingly.
Bose continues to take the diplomatic approach, using built in mics for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. There’s also AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect functionality built in, covering pretty much all of its bases outside of Bixby — that means, sadly, that it might not be able to talk to your fridge.
There are a handful of physical buttons up top, as well, including the every important mic-off. The device has an IPX4 water rating, which means it will handle some splashing or light rain, but don’t dunk the thing. It’s also pretty clear from the press materials that the speaker’s not designed to live outdoors, though the occasional picnic table should be fine.
The Portable Home Speaker arrives in stores on September 19. It’s already got plenty of competition, of course, and Sonos is set to add to the list with its own bluetooth speaker rumored to be in the works.