Author: Ingrid Lunden

LinkedIn to relaunch Groups in the flagship app as it looks to reverse ‘ghost town’ image

TECHCRUNCH LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social networking platform for the working world with over 500 million users, is making a significant change as it continues to look for ways to make its platform more useful (and used). The company is relaunching Groups by rolling it into its main app by the end of the month after quietly pulling the standalone app earlier this year, and it will be streamlining the service by cutting out several features, including an ability for Group administrators to pre-moderate comments; and a way to email send Group posts as emails to the whole group, while...

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Carbyne raises $15M for its next-gen 911 service, as Founders Fund invests in its first Israeli startup

TECHCRUNCH 911 and other emergency numbers have been a key route for people to contact medical, police or fire services, with some 240 million calls are made for urgent help in the US alone each year. But while calling the numbers is a breeze, sometimes passing on crucial information is far from that, with most of these services built and operating on legacy infrastructure that makes pinpointing accurate locations and getting more detail about the problem (including to determine whether the call might have been in error) is a challenge. Now a company that has developed a system to improve...

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FiveAI to start a trial of its shared autonomous car fleet in London in 2019

TECHCRUNCH After raising $35 million to develop driverless car technology and a strategy to build a fleet of shared vehicles, UK startup FiveAI is announcing its first on-street trial: a service aimed at commuters in the London outer boroughs of Bromley and Croydon. Projected to begin in late 2019, it will kick off first with a 10-month “data gathering” exercise, which will see five FiveAI vehicles, with drivers, collect information about road conditions, the movement of pedestrians and various vehicles, and other variables to help train its AI platform. The new trial will be the first on-street effort from the UK startup, which has up to now been testing its technology primarily in Bedfordshire, at automotive testing centre Milbrook Proving Ground, according to Ben Peters, FiveAI’s VP of product who is also a co-founder of the company (alongside Stan Boland, Steve Allpress, John Redford and Simon Walker). The news of the London trial comes as TechCrunch has learned that FiveAI is also in the process of raising a new round of funding. While the $35 million FiveAI has raised to date is considered the highest amount of funding for an autonomous car company in Europe, it is a very modest figure when compared to startups in the US and China. Indeed, although transportation across Europe is estimated to be a $400 billion market, Peters estimates that no more than $100 million has been...

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Tencent spinoff China Literature to buy New Classics Media for $2.2B in content consolidation play

TECHCRUNCH As the consumer appetite for digital entertainment in China continues its rapid growth, two companies are combining forces to step up their game in the space. Today, China Literature — the Tencent e-publishing venture that went public with a $1 billion IPO last November — announced that it would acquire Chinese digital production company New Classics Media for about $2.2 billion (RMB15.5 billion). This is a consolidation of sorts not just in digital media, but in Tencent’s content interests: New Classics Media had been eyeing up an IPO of its own but instead picked up Tencent as an investor...

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After going public in July, Navya nabs $34M from the European Investment Bank for its self-driving bus

TECHCRUNCH While automakers and startups continue to hone the technology for self-driving cars for individuals, a second track of development in the area of autonomous buses is also taking shape. Today, Navya, a French company that has been a leader in developing autonomous shuttles, announced that it has raised an additional €30 million ($34 million) from the European Investment Bank to continue building out its business. The investment comes on the heels of another significant financial event in the life of the company. On July 24, Navya (first founded in 2014) went public on the Euronext exchange in Paris...

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Facebook launches Mentorships, matching people within Groups to help them guide each other

TECHCRUNCH Facebook — under fire for the role it has played in helping spread misinformation through its social media platform — has been turning its attention to more positive applications of its tools, such as strengthening communities, fundraising, and maybe even meeting The One. Today comes the latest in that list: the company today announced the official launch of Mentorships, a free service that will pair people who need help or guidance with those who can provide it. Mentorships will start first with a focus on mentoring opportunities within specific Groups, which is a sizeable opportunity in itself, with collectively...

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Snapchat monitors Infowars as Alex Jones promotes “Censorship” gag AR filter

TECHCRUNCH Snapchat has largely escaped scrutiny about fake news and election interference since its content quickly disappears and its publisher hub Discover is a closed platform. But now the Infowars mess that’s plagued Facebook and YouTube has landed at Snap’s feet, as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has begun tweeting to promote an augmented reality Snapchat Lens built by someone in his community that puts a piece of masking tape with the word “censorship” written over it across the mouth of the user with a “Free Infowars” logo in the screen’s corner. He’s also encouraging his followers to follow Infowars’ official...

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LetGo, the 2nd-hand shopping app, raises another $500M at over a $1.5B valuation

TECHCRUNCH LetGo, the app-based marketplace for people to sell each other second-hand goods, has nabbed a great deal of its own. Today, the startup announced that it has picked up an extra $500 million in funding from Naspers, the South African e-commerce and media giant, which it plans to use to double down on growth, both in its core second-hand goods sales as well as in newer areas such as the housing listings that it launched last month. The company is not disclosing valuation, although a source close to the business confirmed that it has definitely grown compared to...

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