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Month: February 2019

Orai raises $2.3M to make you a better speaker

Orai, a startup building communication coaching tools, is announcing that it’s raised $2.3 million in seed funding. CEO Danish Dhamani said that he co-founded the company with Paritosh Gupta and Aasim Sani to address a need in his own life — the fact that he was “held back personally and professionally” by lackluster “communications skills and public speaking skills.” Dhamani said he attended Toastmasters International meetings hoping to improve those skills, where he concluded that he could build an algorithm to analyze your speaking abilities and give tips for how to improve. To be clear, Orai isn’t necessarily trying to replace groups like Toastmasters, or individual speaking coaches. However, Dhamani said the “status quo” involves a ̶...

EF raises $115M new fund, aiming to create another 300-plus startups in the next three years

Entrepreneur First (EF), the London-headquartered “talent investor” that recruits and backs individuals pre-team and pre-idea to enable them to found startups, has raised a new fund of its own to continue scaling globally. The $115 million first close was led by a number of leading (mostly unnamed) institutional investors across the U.S., Europe and Asia, including new anchor LP Trusted Insight. A number of well-known European entrepreneurs also invested. They include Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise), Alex Chesterman (co-founder of Zoopla), and EF alumnus Rob Bishop (who co-founded Magic Pony Technology which was bought by Twitter for a reported $150m in 2016). This new fund — which EF says is one the largest pre-seed funds ever raised – will enable the ...

Medal.tv’s clipping service allows gamers to share the moments of their digital lives

As online gaming becomes the new social forum for living out virtual lives, a new startup called Medal.tv has raised $3.5 million for its in-game clipping service to capture and share the Kodak moments and digital memories that are increasingly happening in places like Fortnite or Apex Legends. Digital worlds like Fortnite are now far more than just a massively multiplayer gaming space. They’re places where communities form, where social conversations happen and where, increasingly, people are spending the bulk of their time online. They even host concerts — like the one from EDM artist Marshmello, which drew (according to the DJ himself) roughly 10 million players onto the platform. While several services exist to provide clips of live streams from gamers who broadcast on plat...

Slack off. Send videos instead with $11M-funded Loom

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many emails can you replace with a video? As offices fragment into remote teams, work becomes more visual, and social media makes us more comfortable on camera, it’s time for collaboration to go beyond text. That’s the idea behind Loom, a fast-rising startup that equips enterprises with instant video messaging tools. In a click, you can film yourself or narrate a screenshare to get an idea across in a more vivid, personal way. Instead of scheduling a video call, employees can asynchronously discuss projects or give ‘stand-up’ updates without massive disruptions to their workflow. In the 2.5 years since launch, Loom has signed up 1.1 million users from 18,000 companies. And that was just as a Chrome extension. Today Loom la...

IFTTT co-founder Linden Tibbets steps down as CEO, replaced by turnaround specialist Chris Kibarian

After raising $24 million in funding led by Salesforce in April 2018, the startup IFTTT — which provides an API platform so that people can create short scripts for apps to work together — has announced that its co-founder Linden Tibbets has stepped down as CEO after 10 years leading the company. Chris Kibarian, who most recently was the CEO of Monster.com owner Randstad Digital Ventures, has taken on the role, and joined the board in the process. Tibbets, meanwhile, is staying on as IFTTT’s chief design officer. Kibarian is a self-described turnaround specialist who has worked across a diverse set of businesses. In addition to restructuring Monster — a legacy from the first dot-com boom that was acquired for $429 million in 2016 — it got causes-based crowdfun...

Thumbtack now offers benefits to independent contractors

The gig economy has been under much scrutiny as of late due to the way it pays — or, skirts around paying — its independent contractors. Thumbtack, a platform for finding professionals to do anything from home maintenance do DJing a party, is now offering benefits to some of its independent contractors. “In a time where it feels like all the stories are about some tug of war between labor and a platform, I hope what this highlights is that there are opportunities for working together and to find solutions that are in service of the broad set of pros and their needs,” Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta told TechCrunch ” This is thanks to Thumbtack’s new pilot partnership with Alia, a portable benefits platform. Alia, which is a project of the National Domestic Work...

Kairos gets a $4 million lifeline for its facial recognition software

Kairos, the facial recognition startup that found itself in turmoil following the ouster of founder and then-CEO Brian Brackeen last October, has raised $4 million in funding from E. Jay Saunders, CEO of Domus Semo Sancus. This brings Kairos’s total funding to $17 million. As of November, Kairos had just enough money to get through Q1 of this year. At the time, Brackeen was looking to raise $5 million for the company and had already secured $3.5 million from Beyond Capital Markets, contingent upon Brackeen rejoining the company. Fast-forward to today and Brackeen is still out of the company and the interim CEO, Melissa Doval, has been appointed permanent CEO. The drama started back in October when New World Angels president and Kairos board chairperson Steve O’Hara sent a letter to K...

SendBird snags $52M Series B to expand messaging API tool

SendBird, a San Francisco area startup, helps developers add messaging to their apps with a couple of lines of code. It’s an idea similar to Stripe for payments or Twilio for communications. Today, the company announced a $52 million Series B investment. The round was led by Iconiq Capital. Existing investors Shasta Ventures, August Capital, Y Combinator, and Funders Club also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $70 million, according to Crunchbase. Y Combinator is contributing to this round and SendBird was actually a member of the 2016 winter class. The company gives developers the ability to add messaging to their apps without a fuss.”We are a very flexible, fully customizable, white label messaging capability. We come with a fully managed ...

Redis Labs raises a $60M Series E round

Redis Labs, a startup that offers commercial services around the Redis in-memory data store (and which counts Redis creator and lead developer Salvatore Sanfilippo among its employees), today announced that it has raised a $60 million Series E funding round led by private equity firm Francisco Partners. The firm didn’t participate in any of Redis Labs’ previous rounds, but existing investors Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, Bain Capital Ventures, Viola Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital all participated in this round. In total, Redis Labs has now raised $146 million and the company plans to use the new funding to accelerate its go-to-market strategy and continue to invest in the Redis community and product development. Current Redis Labs users include the likes of A...

Senseon raises $6.4M to tackle cybersecurity threats with an AI ‘triangulation’ approach

Darktrace helped pave the way for using artificial intelligence to combat malicious hacking and enterprise security breaches. Now a new U.K. startup founded by an ex-Darktrace executive has raised some funding to take the use of AI in cybersecurity to the next level. Senseon, which has pioneered a new model that it calls “AI triangulation” — simultaneously applying artificial intelligence algorithms to oversee, monitor and defend an organization’s network appliances, endpoints and “investigator bots” covering multiple microservices — has raised $6.4 million in seed funding. David Atkinson — the startup’s CEO and founder who had previously been the commercial director for Darktrace and before that helped pioneer new cybersecurity techniq...

Antescofo’s Metronaut adds an orchestra when you play music

Meet Metronaut, an app for smartphones and tablets that could change the way you play classical music. The startup behind the app, Antescofo, raised a $4.5 million funding round (€4 million) and has attracted 160,000 downloads. Daphni and OneRagTime are leading the round, with Nobuyuki Idei, Yann LeCun, Sophie Gasperment and Thibault Viort also participating. Metronaut lets you play a music instrument with a professional orchestra playing all the other instruments with you. It isn’t just an audio player — the app leverages your device microphone to listen to your music and adjust the tempo of the other instruments. The startup has recorded professional musicians in a studio so that you can play the flute without hearing the flute coming out of your speakers or headphones. And if you still ...

Litho is a finger-worn controller for augmented reality, IoT and other ‘spatial’ interactions

I first encountered the founders of Litho, a new hardware and software startup developing a new finger-worn controller, at London’s Pitch@Palace last April. The event sees startups pitch in front of the British royal family and other esteemed guests, and naturally the company’s young founders, 24-year-old Nat Martin (CEO) and 25-year-old Charlie Bruce (CTO), were a little overawed by the occasion, just like many of the other founders pitching that day. However, perhaps unbeknown to them, Litho was also one of the more notable companies, not least because, as the saying goes, hardware is hard. Fast forward to today and the young company is ready to show the world the first publicly available iteration of what it has been building: an innovative finger-worn device that provides c...

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