Author: Jon Russell

Facebook purges more ‘bad actors’ in Myanmar but it still won’t commit to a local office

TECHCRUNCH As Facebook continues to grasp the severity of the situation in Myanmar, where the UN has concluded that its social network plays “determining role” in inciting genocide, the U.S. tech giant has completed a third sweep in recent months to remove bad actors from its platform. Facebook said late Tuesday U.S. time that it has removed a total of 135 Facebook accounts, 425 Pages, 17 Groups and an additional 15 Instagram accounts with this latest piece of action. Facebook has around 20 million users in Myanmar — that’s nearly all of the country’s internet users and nearly 40...

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Moglix raises $23M to digitize India’s manufacturing supply chain

TECHCRUNCH We hear a lot about India’s e-commerce battle between Walmart, which bought Flipkart for $17 billion, and Amazon. But over in the B2B space, Moglix — an e-commerce service for buying manufacturing products that’s been making strides — today it announced a $23 million Series C round ahead of a bigger round and impending global expansion. This new round was led by some impressive names that Moglix counts as existing investors: Accel Partners, Jungle Ventures and World Bank-affiliated IFC. Other returning backers that partook include Venture Highway, ex-Twitter VP Shailesh Rao and InnoVen Capital, a venture debt fund...

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Ola, Uber’s India rival, invests $100M in scooter rental startup Vogo

TECHCRUNCH We’re familiar with Uber cozying up to scooter startups — it has bought one and invested in another — but over in India, the U.S. firm’s key rival is hatching a major alliance of its own it invested $100 million in scooter rental startup Vogo. Ola first invested back in August when Vogo raised an undisclosed Series A round from Ola, Matrix Partners and other investors, but now Ola is doubling down with this follow-on deal. It isn’t saying how much equity it has captured with this investment, nor the valuation that it gives Vogo but you can well imagine it is high for a company that has only just done its Series A. As you’d expect, this is a strategic investment and it’ll mean that Vogo scooters will appear within the Ola app, from where they can be booked by the company’s 150 million registered users, “soon.” Bangalore and Hyderabad are the two cities where Vogo operates, but you’d imagine that it will lean on Ola to expand into other parts of tier-one India where Ola already has a strong presence. Ola’s money is going directly into supply, with Vogo planning to buy 100,000 more scooters for its platform. The company’s scooters, for those who don’t know them, are unlocked using a one-time password generated from the company’s Android app. Scooter are either dropped off at a designated station, or the...

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Google is spending $1 billion to build a massive, new campus in New York

TECHCRUNCH Days after Apple announced a major expansion to its operations in the U.S. — including a new $1 billion campus in Austin — fellow tech giant Google has announced that it too will invest $1 billion as it sets up a new campus at Hudson Square in New York. Google already has 7,000 staff located in New York and this strategy is aimed at doubling that headcount over the next ten years. Hudson Square will be a 1.7 million square-foot campus that’ll serve as “the primary location” for Google’s ‘Global Business Organization.’ Google expects two Hudson Square buildings to be operational...

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Byju’s targets global expansion for its digital education service after raising $540M

TECHCRUNCH India-based educational startup Byju’s was widely reported to have raised a massive $400 million round and now the company is making things official. The ten-year-old company revealed today it has pulled in a total of $540 million from investors to go after international opportunities. The round is led by Naspers, the investment firm famous for backing Tencent that also includes educational firms Udemy, Codecademy and Brainly among its portfolio. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) provided “a significant portion” of the round, according to an announcement which also revealed that the deal included some secondary share sales....

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Jack Dorsey and Twitter ignored opportunity to meet with civic group on Myanmar issues

TECHCRUNCH Responding to criticism from his recent trip to Myanmar, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he’s keen to learn about the country’s racial tension and human rights atrocities, but it has emerged that both he and Twitter’s public policy team ignored an opportunity to connect with a key civic group in the country. A loose group of six companies in Myanmar has engaged with Facebook in a bid to help improve the situation around usage of its services in the country — often with frustrating results — and key members of that alliance, including Omidyar-backed accelerator firm Phandeeyar, contacted Dorsey via...

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Netflix is testing a new feature that lets you instantly replay scenes (for some reason)

TECHCRUNCH Netflix loves to test new ideas, and its latest experiment is an odd new feature that lets viewers watch a scene again. A selection of Netflix subscribers noticed the new addition, which serves a pop-up asking if they want to “watch this scene again” after certain ‘highlight’ scenes in a show. The streaming giant confirmed the pilot to the Los Angeles Times, adding: We’re trying out a feature which gives Netflix members the ability to rewatch favorite scenes and memorable moments with the click of a button. Right now we’re just looking to learn from it and may...

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LemonBox, which brings US vitamins to Chinese consumers, raises $2M

TECHCRUNCH LemonBox, a Chinese e-commerce startup that imports vitamins and health products from the US, has raised $2 million to develop its business. The company graduated from Y Combinator’s most recent program in the U.S. and, fuelled by the demo day, it has pulled in the new capital from 10 investors which include Partech, Tekton Ventures, Cathexis Ventures, Scrum Ventures and 122 West Ventures. LemonBox started when co-founder and CEO Derek Weng, a former employee at Walmart in the U.S, saw an opportunity to organize the common practice of bringing health products back in China. Any Mainland Chinese person who has lived or even just visited the U.S. will be familiar with such requests from family and friends, and LemonBox aims to make it possible for anyone in China to get U.S-quality products without relying on a mule. The service is primarily a WeChat app — which taps into China’s ubiquitous messaging platform — and a website, although Weng told TechCrunch in an interview this week that the company is contemplating a standalone app of its own. The benefit of that, beyond a potentially more engaging customer experience, could be to broaden LemoonBox’s product selection and use data to offer a more customized selection of products. Related to that, LemonBox said it hopes to work with health and fitness-related services in the future to gather data, with permission, to...

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