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Month: March 2019

Morphin instantly Deepfakes your face into GIFs

Want to star in your favorite memes and movie scenes? Upload a selfie to Morphin, choose your favorite GIF, and your face is grafted in to create a personalized copy you can share anywhere. Become Tony Stark as he suits up like Iron Man. Drop the mic like Obama, dance like Drake, or slap your mug on Fortnite characters. Now after three years in a stealth developing image mapping technology, Morphin is ready to launch its put-you-in-a-GIF maker. While it might look like just a toy, investors see real business potential. Morphin raised $1 million last summer from Betaworks, the incubator that spawned Giphy, plus Founders Fund, Precursor, Shrug Capital, and Boost.vc’s accelerator. Elon Musk as Iron Man “We believe in the future you’ll be able to be the main character in your...

Skymind raises $11.5M to bring deep learning to more enterprises

Skymind, a Y Combinator-incubated AI platform that aims to make deep learning more accessible to enterprises, today announced that it has raised an $11.5 million Series A round led by TransLink Capital, with participation from ServiceNow, Sumitomo’s Presidio Ventures, UpHonest Capital and GovTech Fund. With this, the company has now raised a total of $17.9 million in funding. The inclusion of TransLink Capital gives a hint as to how the company is planning to use the funding. One of TransLink’s specialties is helping entrepreneurs develop customers in Asia. Skymind believes that it has a major opportunity in that market, so having TransLink lead this round makes a lot of sense. Skymind also plans to use the round to build out its team in North America and fuel customer acquisit...

Music’s next big startup Splice raises $57.5M to sell samples

Tech has a bad reputation for pulling money out of musicians’ pockets, but Splice is changing that. The audio sample marketplace and music production collaboration tool has now paid out $15 million to artists since 2013, doubling in the last year. Splice lets musicians sell their sounds for royalty-free use, and songs by Eminem, Ariana Grande and Marshmello that were powered by those samples have topped the charts. Splice charges $7.99 per month for unlimited access to its array of 3 million synthesizers, drum hits, vocal flares and other sounds. Despite being designed for serious musicians, Splice’s suite of tools now has 2.5 million monthly users, up from 1.5 million a year ago. Steve Martocci “Music is going through a beautiful moment,” says Steve Martocci, Splic...

Skedulo raises $28M for its mobile workforce management service

Skedulo, a service that helps businesses manage their mobile employees, today announced that it has raised a $28 million Series B funding round led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund. Existing investors Blackbird and Castanoa Ventures also participated in this round. The company’s service offers businesses all fo the necessary tools to manage their mobile employees, including their schedules. A lot of small businesses still use basic spreadsheets and email to do this, but that’s obviously not the most efficient way to match the right employee to the right job, for example. “Workforce management has traditionally been focused on employees that are sitting at a desk for the majority of their day,” Skedulo  CEO and Co-Founder Matt Fairhurst told me. “The over...

9 Simple Approaches To Creating A Sure-Fire Startup

Image via Jisc As an advisor to startups and entrepreneurs, I often hear the myth that all new businesses must start with a great idea. I have to disagree. I believe the best entrepreneurs start by finding a large opportunity, and only then use good ideas to capitalize on that opportunity. The best opportunities are recognized from painful needs, plus a growing population of customers with money to spend. For example, technologist entrepreneurs often come up with a new device or application, just because they can, and assume everyone will want one. Social entrepreneurs pitch me their latest idea for eliminating world hunger (producing algae), but may forget that really hungry people probably don’t have any money. It takes a real selling opportunity to sustain a business idea. You will find...

Movius raises $45M for its business communications service

Atlanta-based Movius, a company that allows companies to assign a separate business number for voice calls and texting to any phone, today announced that it has raised a $45 million Series D round led by JPMorgan Chase, with participation from existing investors PointGuard Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Anschutz Investment company. With this, the company has now raised a total of $100 million. In addition to the new funding, Movius also today announced that it has brought on former Adobe and Sun executive John Loiacono as its new CEO. Loiacono was also the founding CEO of network analytics startup Jolata. “The Movius opportunity is pervasive. Almost every company on planet Earth is mobilizing their workforce but are challenged to find a way to securely interact with their cu...

Iterable lands $50M Series C investment to expand cross-channel marketing platform

Iterable, a startup that helps companies build complex marketing campaigns across channels to reduce churn and increase usage, announced a $50 million Series C round today. Investors include Blue Cloud Ventures, CRV, Harmony Partners, Index Ventures and Stereo Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $80 million. Company co-founder and CEO Justin Zhu says the Iterable platform captures a constant stream of data from consumers from a variety of sources to give marketers the ability to build segments or event triggers based on consumer behavior. “Customers are streaming real-time updates of who they are, where they’re purchasing, what they’re doing in the app, what they’re up to on the website, and we’re taking all that data and making it ava...

Erectile pharmacy app Ro launches telehealth service for women

Six months ago, Roman, the cloud pharmacy for erectile dysfunction, dropped the ‘man’ to become ‘Ro.’ At the same time, the company raised a monstrous Series A funding round of $88 million and unveiled Zero, a product meant to help people quit smoking, a root cause of ED. Now, Ro is addressing a different demographic. Today, it announces ‘Rory,’ a line of products for menopausal women. In total, Rory offers six products treating four conditions, with prices starting at $13 per month. Prescription medication and supplements for hot flashes, over-the-counter treatments for insomnia, prescription vaginal estrogen cream and an all-natural water-based lubricant for vaginal dryness, and Latisse, which helps grow eyelashes, are available for purchase and direct...

Seven Africa-focused startups present at Y Combinator’s Demo Day

The seven Africa-focused companies that presented as part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 class of 200 startups may seem like a small percentage for such a large class, but it represents the growing significance of African ventures in YC’s universe. Since 2016, the Silicon Valley accelerator — which provides seed funds and mentorship for early-stage startups — has backed 25 companies located in Africa, and another 10 with an Africa product focus, according to YC spokesperson Lindsay Amos. Past YC Africa alumns covered here at TechCrunch include payments startup Paystack, logistics firm Kobo360 and VOD startup Afrostream (now shuttered). Of the seven Africa-oriented YC class that presented at Demo Day 2019, five originated in Nigeria and one in Tanzania. Six are fintech ventures, with p...

Portworx raises $27M Series C for its cloud-native data management platform

As enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies like containers to build their applications, the next question they often have to ask themselves is how they adapt their data storage and management practices to this new reality, too. One of the companies in this business is the four-year-old Portworx, which has managed to attract customers like Lufthansa Systems, GE Digital and HPE with its cloud-native storage and data-management platform for the Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Portworx today announced that it has raised a $27 million Series C funding round led by  Sapphire Ventures and the ventures arm of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company. Existing investors Mayfield Fund and GE Ventures also participated, as well as new investors Cisco, HPE and NetApp, which clear...

Blameless emerges from stealth with $20M investment to help companies transition to SRE

Sight Reliable Engineering (SRE) is an extension of DevOps designed for more complex environments. The problem is that this type of approach is difficult to implement and has usually only been in reach of large companies, requiring custom software. Blameless, a Bay Area startup, wants to put it reach of everyone. It emerged from stealth today with an SRE platform for the masses and around $20 million in funding. For starters, the company announced two rounds of funding with $3.6 million in seed money last April and a $16.5 million Series A investment more recently in January. Investors included Accel,  Lightspeed Venture Partners and others. Company co-founder and CEO Ashar Rizqi knows first-hand just how difficult it is to implement an SRE system. He built custom systems for Box and Mules...

Tandem Bank launches ‘Autosavings’ account

Tandem Bank, the U.K. challenger bank, is launching a new savings account powered by its “Autosavings” feature designed to make it easier to save. Paying 0.5 percent interest, the Tandem Autosavings account is effectively a flexible savings bank account built on top of Tandem’s existing bank account aggregation app and the various credit cards it offers. Based on a number of rules, it will automatically put money aside based on your spending habits and what its algorithm deems you can afford. The first rule, known as “Round Ups,” will move the change from small purchases to your Tandem Autosavings account, enabling you to round-up to the next pound across spending on all of your connected bank accounts. The second rule, dubbed “Safe To Save,” claim...

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