Author: Catherine Shu

Facebook says birthday fundraisers have raised more than $300 million over the past year

TECHCRUNCH Facebook marked the first anniversary of its birthday fundraisers by revealing that more than $300 million in donations have been raised through the feature, which lets users mark their birthdays by creating a donation drive for an organization of their choice. About 750,000 non-profits currently have access to Facebook’s fundraising tools (but not every user, since they haven’t rolled out to all countries). The company also said that it is adding several new features based on feedback. These include allowing Pages to create and donate to fundraisers, as well as the ability to add matching donations and co-organizers to fundraisers. Donors will also be able to choose if they want to set up a recurring monthly contribution. For people who want to create a birthday fundraiser but don’t have an organization in mind already, Facebook plans to include more information about charities in the feature’s selection tool. The company said its fundraising feature’s top beneficiaries include St. Jude, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, Share Our Strength—No Kid Hungry and the ASPCA. Last November, Facebook removed its 5% fee on donations, which means all money goes to non-profits. For many charities, Facebook fundraisers are now the most frictionless way to raise donations, including from people who might otherwise never visit the charity’s own donation links. Facebook fundraisers are a notable example of how social media activism can...

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Tweetbot loses several key features ahead of Twitter’s API change

TECHCRUNCH Twitter’s API changes won’t come out until tomorrow, but its ramifications are already being felt. Tapbots released an update today to Tweetbot for iOS that loses many of the Twitter client’s most popular or essential features. It also removed its Apple Watch app. In Tweetbot’s App Store release notes, Tapbots explained “on August 16th Twitter will disable parts of their public interface that we use in Tweetbot. Because Twitter has chosen not to provide alternatives to these interfaces we have been forced to disable or degrade certain features. We are sorry about this, but unfortunately this is totally...

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Shelf Engine uses machine learning to stop food waste from eating into store margins

TECHCRUNCH Shelf Engine’s team While running Molly’s, the Seattle-based ready meal wholesaler he founded, Stefan Kalb was upset about its 28% food wastage rate. Feeling that the amount was “astronomical,” he began researching how to lower it—and was shocked to discovered Molly’s was actually outperforming the industry average. Confronted by the sheer amount of food wasted by American retailers, Kalb and Bede Jordan, then a Microsoft engineer, began working on an order prediction engine. The project quickly brought Molly’s percentage of wasted food down to the mid-teens. “It was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my career,” Kalb told TechCrunch in an interview. Driven by its success, Kalb and Jordan launched Shelf Engine in 2016 to make the technology available to other companies. Currently participating in Y Combinator, the startup has already raised $800,000 in seed funding from Initialized Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Alexis Ohanian and Gerry Tan, and is now used at over 180 retail points by clients including WeWork, Bartell Drugs, Natural Grocers and StockBox. Shelf Engine’s order prediction engine analyzes historical order and sales data and makes recommendations about how much retailers should order to minimize waste and increase margins. The more retailers use Shelf Engine, the more accurate its machine learning model becomes. The system also helps suppliers, because many operate on guaranteed sales, or scan-based trading, which...

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New defense bill bans the U.S. government from using Huawei and ZTE tech

TECHCRUNCH U.S. government agencies will be forbidden from using certain components or services from several Chinese tech firms, including Huawei and ZTE. The ban was signed into law today by President Trump as part of the Defense Authorization Act and will go into effect over the next two years. The bill covers anything that is a “substantial or essential component of any system,” as well as tech that is used to route or view user data. So even though it doesn’t mandate an outright ban on Huawei and ZTE products, it still means many government workers or contractors, or...

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The DNC’s lawyers subpoena WikiLeaks with a tweet

TECHCRUNCH In a very unusual move, WikiLeaks has been subpoenaed via Twitter. In a tweet on Friday, a law firm representing the Democratic National Convention in its civil lawsuit against WikiLeaks and other defendants served legal documents formally notifying the non-profit that it is being sued. The lawsuit also names a long list of other people and organizations, including the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, that the DNC claims worked together to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. @wikileaks By Court order, you are being served with the following legal documents: https://t.co/ICg8qWnsUy, https://t.co/ZP2tTPJ4pb, https://t.co/RKue30s4hM, https://t.co/q5g0G1rQpQ.All of...

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Taiwan startup FunNow gets $5M Series A to help locals in Asian cities find last-minute things to do

TECHCRUNCH “Instant booking” apps that let tourists sign up for activities on very short notice have been in the news a lot lately, partly because of Klook’s new unicorn status, but also because of the proliferation of startups in the space, especially in Asia. With so many instant booking apps, are there any niches left to fill? FunNow thinks so. Instead of targeting tourists, FunNow serves locals who want to find new things to do in their cities. The Taipei, Taiwan-based startup announced today that it has raised a $5 million Series A led by the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund,...

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Amazon is working with the FTC’s fraud investigation against Sellers Playbook

TECHCRUNCH Amazon said today it is working with the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into consumer fraud allegedly committed by Sellers Playbook, a Minnesota-based business that claimed to help Amazon sellers make more money. FTC and the state of Minnesota announced today that they have charged Sellers Playbook and its owner Jessie Tieva and CEO Matthew Tieva, a married couple who are not affiliated with Amazon.com, with running a large business opportunity scheme. Specifically, the FTC and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office allege Sellers Playbook deceived consumers with a “get rich scheme,” marketing a system that it claimed could enable...

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Now even YouPorn has banned Alex Jones, but he’s still on Twitter

TECHCRUNCH Streaming adult video site YouPorn, announced today that it has banned Alex Jones from its platform, following actions against the conspiracy-monger by tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify—but notably, not Twitter. Before you go “wtf,” there were indeed (non-porn) Alex Jones videos on YouPorn, because people often take advantage of lax copyright policies on porn sites to upload non-pornographic content. YouPorn said it’s also removed spoof videos of Jones and will not allow him to host any content on the platform moving forward. So naturally the next question is…is there lots of Alex Jones content on...

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