Author: Lucas Matney

YC-backed Sterblue aims to enable smarter drone inspections

TECHCRUNCH As government regulation for commercial drone usage seems to be trending in a very positive direction for the companies involved, there is an ever-growing opportunity for drone startups to utilize artificial intelligence to deliver insights without requiring much human efforts. Sterblue, a French drone software startup that is launching out of Y Combinator’s latest class of companies, is aiming to get off-the-shelf drones inspecting large outdoor structures up close with automated insights that identify anomalies that need a second look. The startup’s software is specifically focused on enabling drones to easily inspect large power lines or wind turbines...

Read More

AR startup Ubiquity6 lands $27M Series B to build a more user-friendly augmented reality

TECHCRUNCH While nearly every tech giant has publicly proclaimed augmented reality the next frontier to conquer, product movement has been relatively slow as the companies’ aim to nail very base issues in consumer-friendly ways has proven difficult. Ubiquity6 is one of a handful of startups aiming to tackle the backlog of backend features currently missing from most AR experiences available today. The fast-growing company is looking to build tools that will essentially enable users to create a cloud-based AR copy of the physical world and enable persistent, dynamic multiplayer AR experiences as a result. Today, the startup announced that it has closed a $27 million Series B led by Benchmark and Index Ventures. The company has raised over $37 million to date with plenty of high-profile VC firms amongst its investor list including Google’s Gradient Ventures, First Round, and KPCB — where Ubiquity6’s CEO Anjney Midha previously helped run a small fund. With this raise, Benchmark GP Mitch Lasky will be joining the Ubiquity6 board. Multiplayer AR toolsets have been a trend of the year as Google, Apple and a host of other startups have looked to focus on how two or more users can sync their maps of the world in the most seamless way possible. A big focus of the Ubiquity6’s efforts have been on building 3D mesh maps of entire public areas so that that the onboarding process...

Read More

Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan to speak at TechCrunch AR/VR Sessions

TECHCRUNCH The world of VR may have already sort of figured out the basics of how VR gaming will work, but when it comes to studios building the next generation of narrative “movie” content, there are plenty of questions up in the air. Baobab Studios CEO and co-founder Maureen Fan has more answers than most. Fan’s studio has raised $31 million dollars from investors betting on their model for bringing narrative content in VR to the masses. The Emmy award-winning studio has dedicated itself to building out virtual reality content that has something to offer everyone.  We’ll chat with Fan about the economics of VR content, the difficulties of staying lean in the VR industry and the evolving relationship between Hollywood and virtual reality tech at TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR in Los Angeles on October 18. The company’s latest animated VR project, Rainbow Crow, stars John Legend and Oprah Winfrey. Fan has led the studio’s efforts to focus on storytelling and character development rather than just promoting VR tech’s bells and whistles. It seems to be working, the startup’s film Invasion! has gained substantial downloads and earned the studio an Emmy. Fan has experienced the intricacies of the gaming world and where there is room for crossover with film content. She was previously VP of Games at Zynga. Now at Baobab, she’s looking at how the interactivity enabled by VR can...

Read More

Fanatics exec chairman Michael Rubin to speak at Disrupt SF 2018

TECHCRUNCH Even as the wealth of Jeff Bezos balloons and Amazon eats everyone’s online retail lunch, there are still a few other e-commerce entrepreneurs fairing rather well. In 2011, eBay purchased GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion, at the same time divesting wholly from the sports merchandise business in Fanatics and significantly from the sites ShopRunner and Rue La La which together were set up under a new holding company named Kynetic that was put under the control of GSI CEO Michael Rubin. Seven years later, Rubin is worth an estimated $3 billion from his online shopping empire that has dialed in...

Read More

Pico nabs $24.7M to create VR hardware that challenges Facebook, Google

TECHCRUNCH While there aren’t many VR hardware startups raising cash out there these days, there are far less that are securing investments to actually build the VR headsets themselves. Even as established tech giants are having a rough go-ahead with the headset market, Beijing-based Pico Interactive is looking to give it a go with a focus on standalone VR headset hardware that can keep up with the innovations of larger firms. Pico has closed a $24.7 million Series A led by GF Qianhe and GF Xinde Investment with participation from Jufeng S&T Venture Investment and others, the company said in an announcement....

Read More

Naked Labs raises $14M Series A led by Founders Fund for its 3D body scanning mirror

TECHCRUNCH When it comes to measuring your fitness progress, there’s only so much your weight scale can tell you, actually there’s only one thing it can convey. That one metric hardly encapsulates all of the successes that active people are looking to achieve. Naked Labs believes that body shape is a more important thing to measure and they’ve begun shipping their body-scanning mirror that builds a 3D model of users and alerts them where progress is being made and where there’s potential for more work to be done. The startup also announced today that it has raised a $14 million Series A led by Founders Fund. Also participating were NEA, Lumia Capital, Venture 51, Seabed VC, among others. The company began taking pre-orders last year for its $1,395 Naked 3D Fitness Tracker. It’s already started shipping out those orders and by next quarter the startup hopes to have the devices generally available. The device consists of two parts, a scale that houses sensors and a computer and the weight scale which spins you around so that the stationary mirror can grab a body scan of a user in about 15 seconds. Soon after, you’ll get your body fat percent, lean mass and fat mass, circumferences, as well as side-by-side comparisons with earlier scans and some graphs that showcase historical data. Part of what makes this device so pricy is that the Naked 3D Fitness...

Read More

Test.ai nabs $11M Series A led by Google to put bots to work testing apps

TECHCRUNCH For developers, the process of determining whether every new update is going to botch some core functionality can take up a lot of time and resources, and things get far more complicated when you’re managing a multitude apps. Test.ai is building a comprehensive system for app testing that relies on bots, not human labor to see whether an app is ready to start raking in the downloads. The startup has just closed an $11 million Series A round led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. Also participating in the round were e.ventures, Uncork Capital, and Zetta Venture Partners....

Read More

Google snags Sony’s ‘Magic Lab’ VR guru

TECHCRUNCH Google has hired Richard Marks, Sony’s Magic Lab head who was behind much of the company’s VR efforts, to a position in its Advanced Technology and Projects group, VentureBeat reports. Google confirmed the hire to TechCrunch, sending along a statement from ATAP Head Dan Kaufman. “ATAP is at the intersection of science and application where our goal is to solve significant problems and close the gap between what if and what is. We’re super excited about Richard joining the senior team and look forward to his contributions.” According to LinkedIn, Marks spent the last 19 years at Sony including...

Read More

Right Now in Politics