Author: Jonathan Shieber

Breaking down France’s new $76M Africa startup fund

TECHCRUNCH Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Breaking down France’s new $76M Africa startup fund Africa Roundup: African startup investments turn to fintech this winter season Weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a $76M African startup fund at VivaTech 2018, TechCrunch paid a visit to the French Development Agency (AFD) — who will administer the new fund — to get more details on how le noveau fonds will work. The $76M (or €65M) will divvy up into three parts, according to AFD Digital Task Team Leader Christine Ha. “There are €10M [$11.7M] for technical assistance to support the African ecosystem… €5M will be available as interest free loans to high potential, pre seed startups…and…€50M [$58M] will be for equity-based investments in series A to C startups,” explained Ha during a meeting in Paris. The technical assistance will distribute in the form of grants to accelerators, hubs, incubators, and coding programs. The pre-seed startup loans will issue in amounts up to $100K “as early, early funding to allow entrepreneurs to prototype, launch, and experiment,” said Ha. The $58M in VC startup funding will be administered through Proparco, a development finance institution—or DFI—partially owned by the AFD. The money will come “from Proparco’s balance sheet”…and a portion “will be invested in VC funds active on the continent,” said Ha. Proparco already invests in Africa focused funds such as TLcom Capital and Partech Ventures. “Proparco will take equity stakes, and will be...

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Blockchain technology could be the great equalizer for American cities

TECHCRUNCH Brooks Rainwater Contributor More posts by this contributor Do cities still want a sharing economy? As tech startups surge in cities, inclusive economic growth must be a priority The city of Austin is currently piloting a program in which its 2,000 homeless residents will be given a unique identifier that’s safely and securely recorded on the blockchain. This identifier will help individuals consolidate their records and seek out crucial services. Service providers will also be able to access the information. If successful, we’ll have a new, more efficient way to communicate and ensure that the right people are at the...

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After twenty years of Salesforce, what Marc Benioff got right and wrong about the cloud

TECHCRUNCH Grant Miller Contributor As we enter the 20th year of Salesforce, there’s an interesting opportunity to reflect back on the change that Marc Benioff created with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for enterprise software with his launch of Salesforce.com. This model has been validated by the annual revenue stream of SaaS companies, which is fast approaching $100 billion by most estimates, and it will likely continue to transform many slower-moving industries for years to come. However, for the cornerstone market in IT — large enterprise-software deals — SaaS represents less than 25 percent of total revenue, according to most...

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SEC says Ether isn’t a security, but tokens based on Ether can be

TECHCRUNCH “In cases where there is no… central enterprise being invested in or where the digital asset is sold only to be used to purchase a good or service available through the network on which it was created,” that digital asset is “out of the purview of U.S. securities laws”, according to William Hinman, the director of the division of corporation finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This (edited) statement from Hinman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto will likely be seen as the starting gun on a crypto free-for-all in the United States. Hinman’s comments were...

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Telemundo, Universal and TreasureHunt are launching a shootout game in time for the World Cup

TECHCRUNCH Just in time for the World Cup, Telemundo Deportes, Universal Brand Development and the startup TreasureHunt, have launched a shootout game for the Instant Games platform on Facebook and Messenger. Telemundo Deportes is putting out the game in conjunction with its Spanish-language coverage of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. GOAL! SHOOTOUT (WHICH IS CLEARLY VERY EXCITING) lets players vie for the title of penalty kick all star so they can all bend it like the virtual Beckhams that they are. “The World Cup provides us with the opportunity to tap into the passion of soccer and engage with our viewers...

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Celebrity funds from Jay Z, Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr. are backing a life insurance startup

TECHCRUNCH Ethos, the company that bills itself as making life insurance accessible, affordable and simple, has officially come out of stealth with an $11.5 million investment led by on of the world’s top venture firms, Sequoia Capital, and additional participation from the family offices of Hollywood’s biggest stars and an NBA all-star. Jay Z’s Roc Nation, the family funds of Kevin Durant, Robert Downey Jr. and Will Smith all participated in the new round for Ethos, and Sequoia Partner Roelof Botha is taking a seat on the company’s board. Because nothing says star power like a life insurance startup....

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Playmaji is looking to bring its retro-gaming, modular console to market

TECHCRUNCH Tucked away in a far corner of the West Pavilion of the Los Angeles Convention center among the independent game developers showcased by IndieCade  during E3, is a small booth demonstrating the latest Polymega hardware, a device that’s billing itself as the NES Classic for every old school game released on every old school gaming platform. The company that’s making the device first debuted last year as Retroblox, and while its name has changed (it’s now called Playmaji) and its hardware has gotten more refined, the vision remains very much the same. Playmaji debuted the new system and its user interface last year at E3 and it’s back again this year to tout its new pricing, and drum up support for pre-order campaign even as it tries to raise money to license games from publishers. [embedded content] Last year, Playmaji eschewed going down the crowdfunding route and instead raised $500,000 from undisclosed angel investors, according to chief executive and co-founder Bryan Bernal. This year, Bernal said his company would look to launch a pre-order campaign within the next three months and begin shipping systems by the end of the year. While there are plenty of consoles (like the Retroengine; or Hyperkin’s SNES clone; or Analogue’s SuperNT) that tout similar capabilities to play retro arcade and console games from gaming’s golden age, Playmaji’s grand designs to provide an all in one networked...

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YugaByte’s new database software rakes in $16 million so developers can move to any cloud

TECHCRUNCH Looking to expand the footprint of its toolkit giving developers a unified database software that can work for both relational and post-relational databases, YugaByte has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. For company co-founder, Kannan Muthukkaruppan, the new database software liberates developers from the risk of lock-in with any provider of cloud compute as the leading providers at Amazon, Microsoft and Google jockey for the pole position among software developers and reduces programming complexity. “YugaByte DB makes it possible for organizations to standardize on a single, distributed database to support a multitude of workloads requiring...

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