Author: Jon Russell

China’s Didi beefs up its newly-independent car services business with an acquisition

TECHCRUNCH A week after spinning out its driver services business and giving it $1 billion in investment capital, Didi Chuxing has added to it through an acquisition. Xiaoju Automobile Solutions (XAS), which the Didi spinout is called, announced today it has bought Hiservice, a three-year-old company that provides after-service care for car owners using a digital platform. The deal was undisclosed, but XAS said that Hiservice will be combined with its maintenance and repair division to form a new unit that’s focused on car-owner services such as maintenance, parts and components. That’ll be called Xiaoju Auto Care (小桔养车) for those of...

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Tim Draper has a song about Bitcoin for you

TECHCRUNCH Down in the dumps while the cryptos are getting rekt? Quirky billionaire and long-time Bitcoin bull Tim Draper is here for you with what is apparently called a rap song. The song you have all been waiting for by Kelley James and me #bitcoin #bitcoinhustle. Free to share. #freedom https://t.co/VbPM5iM7yh https://t.co/VbPM5iM7yh — Tim Draper (@TimDraper) August 9, 2018 Draper performed a version of this thing at The Next Web’s event earlier this year… yes, I had to listen to both. Anyhow, we wish it had ended there. It didn’t. [Blame @drew for making us aware of this] Note: The author owns a...

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WeWork China rival Ucommune raises $43.5M more at a $1.8B valuation

TECHCRUNCH Barely weeks after WeWork China raised $500 million, one of its main rivals is refueling its tanks too. Ucommune — the company formerly known as UrWork until a WeWork lawsuit forced a rebrand — announced its $43.5 million Series C round. Beijing-based Ucommune’s new round was led by real estate-focused investment firms Prosperity Holdings and RK Properties. The company said the deal gives its business a $1.8 billion post-money valuation. to date, it has raised around $450 million from investors, according to Crunchbase data. For comparison, WeWork China has pulled in $1 billion overall since being spun out of WeWork’s global...

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Observe.AI raises $8M to use artificial intelligence to improve call centers

TECHCRUNCH Being stuck on the phone with call centers is painful. We all know this. Observe.AI is one company that wants to make the experience more bearable, and it’s raised $8 million to develop an artificial intelligence system that it believes will do just that. The funding round was led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from MGV, Liquid 2 Ventures and Hack VC. Existing investors Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator also took part — Observe.AI was part of the YC’s winter 2018 batch. The India-U.S. startup was founded last year with the goal of solving a very personal problem for founders Swapnil Jain (CEO),...

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India’s budget hotel network OYO moves into wedding banquet services

TECHCRUNCH OYO Rooms, the India-based budget hotel network that’s backed by SoftBank’s Vision fund, has prioritized expansion into China this year but that’s not all it’s up to. Back home in India, it just moved into the event hosting space through the acquisition of a wedding banquet company. Today, OYO said it has acquired Weddingz.in, a three-year-old company that claims to be India’s largest wedding planner with 4,000 venues across 15 cities. The company had raised over $1 million from investors, and it says that it handles 1,500 weddings per quarter. The deal is undisclosed and it is OYO’s third acquisition to date,...

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Three Indonesian tech unicorns unite to back digital insurance startup

TECHCRUNCH It’s almost unheard of to see three unicorns join forces to fund a startup, but that’s exactly what has happened in Indonesia. Ride-hailing company Go-Jek, e-commerce firm Tokopedia and travel booking startup Traveloka — each of which is valued in the billions of U.S. dollars — have come together to provide a Series A funding round for PasarPolis, a digital insurance startup in Indonesia aiming to tap Southeast Asia’s growing internet economy. PasarPolis started out as an insurance comparison site but today it offers micro- and modular-insurance online. Go-Jek, Tokopedia and Traveloka are three of its major clients through which...

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Grab-Uber deal wins Philippines approval but ‘virtual monopolist’ concern remains

TECHCRUNCH Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia business in May has been embroiled in regulatory scrutiny, but the ride-hailing firm has some positive news after the Philippines’ regulator gave the deal the all-clear. It did so, however, whilst laying out terms to prevent the company from becoming overly dominant. Singapore’s watchdog said in July that competition concerns may see it unwind the deal, which saw Grab pick up and then shutter Uber’s ride-hailing and food delivery business while the U.S. got a 27.5 percent stake in its recent. Competition is also a concern in the Philippines, but the Philippine Competition...

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Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures announces a $10M fund for crypto deals

TECHCRUNCH VCs around the world are trying to wrap their head around crypto, and the new investment paradigm it brings. Some have made one-off deals but a few have jumped in off the deep end with dedicated crypto funds, with A16z in the U.S. the most prominent example. Now Singapore has its first from the traditional world after prominent firm Golden Gate Ventures announced a spinoff fund called LuneX Ventures. The fund is focused on crypto and it is targeting a $10 million raise. Its announcement comes weeks after we reported the first close for Golden Gate’s new $100 million...

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