Author: Lucas Matney

After $130M+ in funding, AR startup Blippar collapses

TECHCRUNCH While proponents swore 2018 would be the year AR moved mainstream, by year’s end it seems the biggest trend has been the movement of early startups to financial collapse. Blippar, an early augmented reality app that raised more than $130 million in venture funding from investors like Qualcomm and Candy Ventures, announced today that it is “entering into administration” and will be laying off all its employees as administrators appointed by a UK court decides what to do with its assets. The startup just closed a $37 million round in September. The company, founded in 2011, was on...

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Twitter rolls out ‘sparkle button’ to let users hide the algorithmic feed

TECHCRUNCH Twitter is giving users the ability to easily switch between seeing the latest tweets first and seeing the company’s algorithmically chosen “Top Tweets” when they open the app. The company began testing this feature a few weeks ago, but they are officially rolling it out globally to all iOS users today with Android and desktop users likely getting access to the feature sometime in January, according to the company. This is part-resolution and part extended cop-out for Twitter which has spent the better part of the past couple years figuring out how to satisfy a need for growth...

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Discord announces 90/10 revenue split for self-published titles on upcoming games store

TECHCRUNCH After gaming chat app startup Discord announced in August that they were building out a games store, today, they’ve detailed that they’ll be pursuing a very competitive 90/10 revenue split for self-published titles in 2019. In addition, the company revealed that they now have 200 million active users on their chat app, up from 130 million users in May. The announcement follows a storefront launch from Epic Games last week with an 88/12 revenue split. Valve’s Steam store had typically offered a constant 70/30 revenue split for all developers regardless of the revenues they were pulling in. The...

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Facebook restructures Building 8, separating projects into Reality Labs and Portal groups

TECHCRUNCH Facebook is restructuring its experimental hardware efforts and giving its moonshot projects a home within its AR/VR research division. The restructuring, reported by Business Insider (paywalled), didn’t result in any layoffs but did see some shifts of teams as the old Building 8 group rebranded to Portal and some projects moved to the former Oculus Research group (now, Facebook Reality Lab). A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the reorganization to Business Insider. TechCrunch has reached out to Facebook for further comment. This is misleading. We renamed the Building 8 team Portal after that device launch. The research we initially started in Building 8 continues in our Facebook Reality Labs research group. — Boz (@boztank) December 14, 2018 The Building 8 brand is dead but the big change seems to be Facebook moving its more headline-grabbing experiments further away from its nearly ready-for-production ideas. With some of the more experimental hardware projects at Facebook, like a computer brain interface, “soft” robotics, and a project to “hear” through a skin-worn device, moving to Facebook Reality Labs, it’s clear that the organization once centered around AR/VR technologies is seeing its scope expand to more distant reaching technologies that aren’t vaguely ready for consumer products yet. Meanwhile, the Portal group seems to be where some of Facebook’s more in-reach consumer hardware products are living with the newly-released video chat device serving as the foundation....

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Niantic reportedly raising $200M at $3.9B valuation

TECHCRUNCH Pokémon Go creator Niantic is raising a $200 million Series C at a valuation of $3.9 billion according to a report from Katie Roof at the WSJ. The round is expected to be led by IVP with participation from Samsung and aXiomatic Gaming. The upcoming raise would bring the company’s total funding to $425 million according to Crunchbase. Niantic’s last round was raised at a $3 billion valuation. TechCrunch has reached out to Niantic for comment. The gaming startup which has invested significantly in augmented reality technologies is also behind titles such as its recently updated Ingress title and an...

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Facebook open sources PyText NLP framework

TECHCRUNCH Facebook AI Research is open sourcing some of the conversational AI tech it is using to power its Portal video chat display and M suggestions on Facebook Messenger. The company announced today that its PyTorch-based PyText NLP framework is now available to developers. Natural language processing deals with how systems parse human language and are able to make decisions and derive insights. The PyText framework, which the company sees as a conduit for AI researchers to move more quickly between experimentation and deployment will be particularly useful for tasks like document classification, sequence tagging, semantic parsing and multitask modeling,...

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IMAX pulls the plug on its dream of VR arcades

TECHCRUNCH The company behind the biggest screens in cinema is giving up on bringing VR screens within a few inches of users’ faces. The company announced today in a SEC filing that it will be shutting down its three remaining virtual reality centers including its flagship location in Los Angeles. Via the filing: In connection with the Company’s previously-announced strategic review of its virtual reality pilot initiative, the Company has decided to close its remaining VR locations and write-off certain VR content investments. The locations in LA, Bangkok and Toronto will be shuttered in Q1 of 2019 according to...

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Facebook settles OculusVR lawsuit with ZeniMax

TECHCRUNCH Nearly five years after announcing its acquisition of OculusVR, Facebook is finally ready to put the drama surrounding its founding behind it. Gaming giant ZeniMax Media’s lawsuit against Facebook over the misuse of intellectual property related to the founding of OculusVR has finally been settled. In a statement, ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman confirmed the settlement saying, “We are pleased that a settlement has been reached and are fully satisfied by the outcome. While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties.” At the trial’s conclusion, the judge...

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