Author: Lucas Matney

Snap’s exec team continues to shrink as more reports of internal drama surface

Days after Snap announced the departure of its CFO, reports have emerged that the company’s HR chief was asked to leave following an internal investigation late last year that had led to the firing of its global security head. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Snap fired global security head Francis Racioppi late last year after an investigation uncovered that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with an outside contractor he had hired. After the relationship had ended, Racioppi terminated the woman’s contract, the report says. Racioppi denied any wrongdoing in a comment to the Journal. A report from...

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Wine-by-the-glass subscription service Vinebox raises $5.9 million

One SF startup wants you to get home from a day at work and polish off a bottle of wine by yourself. Vinebox isn’t really trying to get you wasted though, these bottles are cute and tiny. The small startup is hoping that they can get consumers into the idea of buying premium quality wine-by-the-glass and they’ve convinced investors there’s something behind this concept as well. The team has just closed a $5.9 million round of funding led by Harbinger Ventures. Co-founders Rachel Vodofsky and Matt Dukes were both corporate lawyers several years ago with a taste for good wine, but when Dukes decided to move to France and dig deeper into his burgeoning interest in wineries, the founders set off to see how they could start a consumer business with wine discovery at its heart. The Y Combinator-backed company began their mission with a quarterly and annual subscription service that set people up with new types of single-serve wine on a rolling basis (as well as a wonderful-sounding wine advent calendar) with the ultimate goal of exposing wine lovers to small-lot wineries they wouldn’t have otherwise come across. The 100ml bottles look more like something you would find in a laboratory than a liquor store. A quarterly subscription is $78 per quarter and includes 9 wine samples with $15 off purchases of full-sized bottle. A big drive of the...

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Facebook poaches Google’s AR/VR engineering lead to take over Portal team

Facebook is bringing on the engineering lead for Google’s entire AR/VR team to tackle Portal hardware. Ryan Cairns comes aboard after 12 years at Google where he was most recently the engineering lead for a team of over 500 people tackling AR/VR at the big G, including Daydream, Lens and ARCore, according to his LinkedIn. Excited to announce that I’ll be leading Hardware for AR/VR at @facebook…and would like to welcome Ryan Cairns, who will now lead Portal. Launching @portalfacebook with the team was an amazing experience and I look forward to launching @Oculus Quest and more — Rafa Camargo...

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Ubiquity6 acquires AR music startup Wavy

Today, Ubiquity6 has announced that it is acquiring Wavy, a small AR music startup founded last year. In a blog post, the Wavy team confirmed that they’ll be joining the Ubiquity6 team and won’t be continuing their work on the Wavy app. “When we met the team at Ubiquity6, it became apparent that joining the team there would be a leap forward towards our shared mission of enabling creators to edit reality,” the post reads. Wavy’s app had sought to give musicians an outlet to bring concerts into phone-based AR users’ living rooms. The tight team of 3 joins Ubiquity6 after what was generally a rough year for the consumer-focused AR industry. While the number of supported devices climbed, the actual user base didn’t see much growth. A lot of the progress came in the platform tools such as Ubiquity6, the startup closed a $27 million Series B led by Benchmark and Index Ventures in August. The company now has just shy of 40 employees. The Wavy app shares some essential DNA with what Ubiquity6 is looking to build. The app allows people to drop 3D objects into spaces and upload videos of the “music experiences” unfolding in front of them. It’s very fundamental stuff but at its base level asks questions about how 3D content can interact with spaces and people and how those new environments change the...

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Twitter’s de-algorithmizing ‘sparkle button’ rolls out on Android

After launching on iOS, Twitter is giving Android users the ability to easily switch between seeing the reverse-chronological “latest tweets” and the algorithmic “top tweets” feeds on their home page. The company announced the rollout at a media event in New York. The “sparkle button” is a way for Twitter to appease long-time power tweeters while also shifting more of its user base to the algorithmic feed which the company says has served to increase the number of conversations happening on the platform. You can read more about the company’s algorithmic feed...

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Computer vision startup AnyVision pulls in new funding from Lightspeed

While there have been a few massive surveillance startups in China that have raised funds on the back of computer vision advances, there’s seemed to be less fervor outside of that market. Tel Aviv-based AnyVision is aiming to leverage its computer vision chops in tracking people and objects to create some pretty clear utility for the enterprise world. After announcing a $27 million Series A in mid-2018, the computer vision startup is bringing Lightspeed Venture Partners into the raise, closing out the round at $43 million. “When you have a company with the technology AnyVision has, and the market need...

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Improbable urges Unity to unsuspend their license, to rectify ‘farcical’ situation for developers

Improbable may be pissed at Unity, but they still desperately want them back. In a blog post titled “A final statement on SpatialOS and Unity,” the team at the cloud gaming startup aimed to tell their side of the story and implored Unity to “clarify their terms or unsuspend our licenses.” Unity is a game engine that developers use to create, among other things, games. Improbable offers a cloud solution to developers that basically enables large multiplayer online gameplay by rendering the game worlds across multiple servers on its SpatialOS platform. Yesterday, Improbable announced that Unity had terminated their...

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Improbable and Epic Games establish $25M fund to help devs move to ‘more open engines’ after Unity debacle

Improbable is taking a daring step after announcing earlier today that Unity had revoked its license to operate on the popular game development engine. The UK-based cloud gaming startup has inked a late-night press release with Unity rival Epic Games, which operates the Unreal Engine and is the creator of Fortnite, establishing a $25 million fund designed to help game developers move to “more open engines.” An incoming blog post penned by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable CEO Herman Narula reads, in part: To assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service...

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