Author: Jon Russell

Netflix is playing down the significance of its first major distribution deal in China

TECHCRUNCH Netflix has played down the significance of its first major licensing deal in China, news of which was announced this week. The company’s share price surged nearly six percent after it announced that it had agreed to a distribution deal with iQiyi, one of China’s largest video portals which was started by internet giant Baidu. The news was first revealed at the APOS 2017 event in Bali, where executives briefed selected entertainment media, but, rather interestingly, the partnership was officially announced today with a fairly major caveat. Netflix said in a statement that “expectations of our deal are modest in...

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TransferWise moves into Asia Pacific with opening of regional HQ in Singapore

TECHCRUNCH TransferWise, the billion-dollar valued startup that reduces the cost of cross-border payments, has taken a big step to globalizing its service after it opened an Asia Pacific office in Singapore. The UK-based service was started in 2010 by Estonian entrepreneurs Kristo Kaarmann and Taavet Hinrikus, its CEO, as a method for sending money from country to country more efficiently. It banishes hidden fees — which banks typically disguise with sub-market exchange rates — and offers near-market rates coupled with a transaction fee. The firm has raised $117 million from investors to date, and was last valued at $1.1 billion. It claims that...

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Samsung posts 48% profit jump — but it’s all down to components not smartphones

TECHCRUNCH Despite the Galaxy Note 7 saga and the arrest of its defacto head on bribery charges, Samsung’s business has bounced back. The company just announced its first quarter financial results, and they are as impressive as it had forecast earlier this month. Operating profit for the quarter rose by 48 percent year-on-year to reach 9.9 trillion KRW, or approximately $8.7 billion. That makes the period its second most profitable quarter ever, and its most profit Q1 in history. Total revenue for the three-month period was 50.55 trillion KRW, around $44.5 billion, which represented a more modest two percent increase over a year previous....

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China’s Didi Chuxing is raising up to $6 billion at a valuation of over $50 billion

TECHCRUNCH Didi Chuxing, the on-demand giant that drove Uber out of China, is set to become the world’s second-highest valued tech startup. Beijing-based Didi is in the process of raising a round that could reach as high as $6 billion at a valuation that would exceed $50 billion, a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch. That’s not far from Uber itself, which is said to be valued at over $60 billion. Bloomberg originally reported the raise, rumors of which first began circulating last month. Didi declined to comment. The new deal would represent a significant hike on the company’s most recent $28 billion...

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Paktor, a major rival to Tinder in Asia, moves into live-streaming via merger deal

TECHCRUNCH Dating app Paktor, often dubbed ‘The Tinder of Southeast Asia,’ just sealed up its move into live-streaming and media content after it announced a merger deal with Taiwanese startup 17 Media. Under the deal, a new company called M17 Entertainment has been created with shares from both Paktor and 17 Media, company representatives confirmed. They didn’t, however, reveal a valuation for the transaction, although M17 claims to be Asia’s “largest social entertainment company.” The deal makes plenty of sense in many ways. Paktor CEO Joseph Pua spoke of his desire to expand into social entertainment when his company raised...

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Dropbox is shuttering Hackpad, the collaborative document service it bought in 2014

TECHCRUNCH Cloud sharing giant Dropbox announced this week it will shutter document collaboration service Hackpad, which it acquired way back in 2014, next month. Unlike the usual (and inevitable) demise of a promising software startup following a corporate acquisition — ahem Microsoft; on at least two occasions — Dropbox deserves credit for letting Hackpad live on. Not only did it open source the service in 2015, allowing its community to build on top of it, but Hackpad (and its team) is the driving force behind the recently launched Dropbox Paper app. “I’m so grateful for all the enthusiasm and feedback from the Hackpad community...

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Funding for the Tor Project reached a record $3.3 million in 2015

TECHCRUNCH Last year was a challenging one for the Tor Project, the non-profit organization beyond the anonymous global network. Prominent developer Jacob Applebaum stood down following allegations of sexual mistreatment, an ugly saga that resulted in the appointment of a new board of directors and the introduction of policies aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future. Despite those goings-on, the Tor Project’s business is better funded than ever. The organization, which operates an anonymous web browser and instant messaging client among other software, just revealed its latest financial figures (for 2015) which show that it raked in nearly $3.3 million. That’s...

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SeedPlus closes $18M early-stage fund backed by Cisco, Eight Roads and others

TECHCRUNCH SeedPlus, the early-stage investment firm backed by Singapore’s Jungle Ventures, has closed its debut fund at a total of SG$25 million, or approximately $18 million. The firm also announced that Cisco and Eight Roads Ventures, the investment arm of Fidelty, have joined IFC and Indian business magnate Ratan Tata among the fund’s LPs. The firm is seeking five to six deals per year, with a check size of SG$500,00 to SG$1 million (US$360,000-$725,000) per deal. Beyond investments, it plays a more hands-on role with its companies that is conventional, while it has connections with Series A+ investors since Jungle Ventures and Accel are...

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