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HipChat founders launch Swoot, a social podcast app

Pete Curley and Garret Heaton, who previously co-founded team chat app HipChat and sold it to Atlassian, are officially launching their new product Swoot today. The app makes it easy for users to recommend podcasts and see what their friends are listening to. This might seem like a big leap from selling enterprise software — and indeed, Curley said the company was initially focused to creating another set of team collaboration tools. What they realized, however, was that HipChat is “actually a consumer product that the company just happens to pay for because the employees demand it” — and he said they weren’t terribly interested in trying to build a business around a more traditional “top-down sales process.” Meanwhile, Curley said he’d injured his back ...

Y Combinator grad Fuzzbuzz lands $2.7M seed round to deliver fuzzing as service

Fuzzbuzz, a graduate of the most recent Y Combinator class, got the kind of news every early-stage startup wants to hear when it landed a $2.7 million seed round to help deliver a special class of automated software testing known as fuzzing in the form of a cloud service. Fuel Capital led the round. Homebrew and Susa Ventures also participated, along with various angel investors, including Docker co-founder Solomon Hykes, Mesosphere co-founder Florian Leibert and Looker co-founder Ben Porterfield. What Fuzzbuzz does specifically is automate fuzzing at scale, says co-founder and CEO Andrei Serban. “It’s a type of automated software testing that can perform thousands of tests per second,” he explained. Fuzzbuzz is also taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine...

VCs bet on cannabis vaping, ED meds and mobile fertility clinics

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was a bit of a reunion with Kate and Alex on as usual, with the addition of Extra Crunch denizen extraordinaire Danny Crichton. Danny, you may recall, has been a semi-regular Equity co-host over the past year. As Kate explains up front, Equity is out a day early this week due to the Big TechCrunch Robotics Affair in Berkeley today. We’ll be back on Friday with IPO news regarding Zoom and Pinterest and we can’t wait. Ok, all that sorted, what did we talk about? Alex wanted to talk about some market signals that he reads as bullish. Whatever went wrong at the end of 2018 has healed over he thinks because there have been a whole lot of supergi...

Astroscreen raises $1M to detect social media manipulation with machine learning

In an era of social media manipulation and disinformation, we could sure use some help from innovative entrepreneurs. Social networks are now critical to how the public consumes and shares the news. But these networks were never built for an informed debate about the news. They were built to reward virality. That means they are open to manipulation for commercial and political gain. Fake social media accounts – bots (automated) and ‘sock-puppets’ (human-run) – can be used in a highly organized way to spread and amplify minor controversies or fabricated and misleading content, eventually influencing other influencers and even news organizations. And brands are hugely open to this threat. The use of such disinformation to discredit brands has the potential for very co...

Marketing platform startup Adverity raises $12.4M in round led by Felix Capital

Marketers get a lot of incoming from the data they have to deal with, bound up in hundreds of spreadsheets and reports, making it time consuming and tricky to get value out of. Tech companies like Datorama and Funnel.io have appeared to try and lighten this load. Adverity is a data intelligence platform also playing in this space by applying AI to produce actionable insights in real-time. Founded in 2015, it’s a cloud agnostic SaaS platform compatible with Amazon, Google and Microsoft which provides data to destinations such as SQL databases, Snowflake, AWS Redshift, SAP HANA. Its business model is based on yearly subscription fees. It’s now closed an €11 million ($12.4 million) Series B funding round, bringing the total amount raised to date to €15 million ($17 million). The investment is...

Weengs, the UK logistics startup for online retailers, collects £6.5M Series A

Weengs, the U.K. logistics startup for e-commerce businesses that need a more convenient way of getting online orders to customers, has raised £6.5 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is venture capital firm Oxford Capital, with Weeng’s seed investors, including Local Globe, Cherry Ventures and VentureFriends, following on. Founded by Alex Christodolou and Greg Zontanos, provides small and medium-sized online stores of various kinds, including eBay and Amazon power sellers and brick ‘n’ mortar stores with an e-commerce component, with a “ship-from-store” logistics solution that handles collection, packing and delivery. The basic premise is that time costs money, which can make e-commerce quite prohibitive. By outsourcing time-consuming and labour intensiv...

Bankin’ raises $22.6 million for its financial coach

French startup Bankin’ is raising a new $22.6 million funding round (€20 million). The company has managed to attract 2.9 million users in France and wants to become the only app you need to manage your money. Overall, Bankin’ has raised over $32 million (€28.4 million). Investors include Omnes Capital, Commerz Ventures, Génération New Tech, Didier Kuhn, Simon Dawlat and Franck Lheurre. Bankin’ first developed an aggregator so that you could view all your bank accounts from a single app. The company has been using a combination of APIs and scrapping to connect to nearly all French banks, 85 percent of Spanish and British banks and 65 percent of German banks. The app automatically categorizes your transactions and sends you push notifications to alert you of important changes. There’s also ...

Phantom Auto raises $13.5M to expand remote driving business to delivery bots and forklifts

Remote driving startup Phantom Auto has raised $13.5 million of financing in a Series A round led by Bessemer Venture Partners — capital used to expand a logistics business targeting sidewalks, warehouses and cargo yards, all the places where autonomy and teleoperation are being deployed today. The startup, founded in 2017, has raised about $19 million to date. Byron Deeter and Tess Hatch from Bessemer have joined Phantom’s board. The so-called “race” to deploy self-driving trucks, robotaxi services and other applications of autonomous vehicle technology on public roads has encountered a speed bump of sorts that has sent ripples throughout the nascent industry. In short: autonomous vehicles are hard and everyone seems to be waking up to that fact. As deployment timelines have m...

Spotinst, the startup enabling companies to purchase and manage excess cloud capacity, acquires StratCloud

Spotinst, the cloud automation and optimization startup founded in Tel Aviv but now with offices in San Francisco, New York, and London too, has acquired AWS partner StratCloud. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I’m hearing it combines both cash and stock and was somewhere in the region of $5 million. As part of the acquisition, StratCloud’s team of 15 people will be joining Spotinst, including founder Patrick Gartlan, who will become VP, Cloud Services at Spotinst. StratCloud hadn’t raised any venture capital but instead was bootstrapped by Gartlan, who was the former CTO of Cloud Optimization company CloudCheckr. Founded in 2015, Spotinst enables enterprises to optimize their cloud infrastructure usage by automating the process of using excess — and t...

Consumers get another digital home health offering as Tyto Care and Best Buy launch TytoHome

Best Buy is partnering with the Israeli technology company Tyto Care to become the official retailer for the company’s all-in-one digital diagnostics kit through its physical stores in California, the Dakotas, Ohio and Minnesota, and through its online store. Tyto previously sold its technology through healthcare plans, making its handheld examination device (with attachments that act as a thermometer, a stethoscope, an otoscope and a tongue depressor) available to families with insurance that wanted to reduce the cost of checkups through remote monitoring. The company’s handheld device comes with an exam camera so it can prompt users where to position the device to get the most accurate readings.   Now, through Best Buy, consumers can buy the company’s kit for $299....

PathAI raises $60 million for its computer vision-based pathogen detection technology

With a clinical version of PathAI‘s computer vision-based pathogen detection service still at least one year from coming to market, the diagnostic technology developer has snagged $60 million in its latest round of financing. The company’s tech is used by doctors to analyze cell samples taken from patients to determine the presence or absence of bacterium, viruses, cancerous cells or other disease-causing agents. These days, PathAI’s technology is used less in hospitals for patient care and more by pharmaceutical companies developing new drugs, according to the company’s co-founder and chief executive, Dr. Andy Beck. “Our biggest focus today is a research platform; we use it to examine new therapeutics for serious diseases,” Beck says. “We see that...

Pinterest prices IPO above range

Pinterest priced shares of its stock, “PINS,” above its anticipated range on Wednesday evening, CNBC reports. The company will sell 75 million shares of Class A common stock at $19 apiece in an offering that will attract $1.4 billion in new capital for the visual search engine. The NYSE-listed business had planned to sell its shares at between $15 to $17 and didn’t increase the size of its planned offering prior to Wednesday’s pricing. Valued at $12.3 billion in 2017, the initial public offering gives Pinterest an initial market cap of approximately $10 billion and cements its status as an “undercorn.” The IPO has been a long time coming for the nearly 10-year-old company led by co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Silbermann . Given Wall Street...

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