middle east

Aline Sara, founder of Natakallam, to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin

TechCrunch is coming back to Berlin to talk with the best and brightest people in tech from Europe and the rest of the world. In addition to fireside chats and panels, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the coveted cup. Grab your ticket to Disrupt Berlin before August 1st as prices will increase after that. The conference will take place on November 29-30. We are busy collecting some of the most awesome speakers in the world, and not least among them is Aline Sara, founder of Natakallam, the innovative startup which gave refugees hope. https://natakallam.com In the summer of 2014 Aline had just completed her masters in International Affairs at Colombia University and was looking for an affordable way to practice her Arabic—specifically, her native Lebane...

“Everyone is talking to everyone” — rideshare investor bypasses Uber-Careem rumor

Ride-hailing giant Uber is in talks over a possible merger with Middle East rival Careem, according to Bloomberg — citing three people familiar with the matter. The report suggests various deal structures have been discussed, although it also says that no deal has been reached — nor may ever be reached, as discussions are ongoing and may not come to anything. Bloomberg’s sources told it that Uber has said it would need to own more than half of the combined company, if not buy Careem outright. Among the possible arrangements that have been discussed are for Careem’s current leaders to manage a new combined business, day to day, with potentially both brands being retained in local markets. Another proposal would have Uber outright acquire Careem. Bloomberg also reports that Dubai-based Caree...

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is coming soon to Beirut, São Paolo and Lagos

Everyone knows there are thriving startup communities outside of obvious hubs, like San Francisco, Berlin, Bangalore and Beijing, but they don’t always get the support they deserve. Last year, TechCrunch took a major page from its playbook, the Startup Battlefield competition, and staged the event in Nairobi, Kenya to find the best early stage startup in Sub-Saharan Africa, and also to Sydney, Australia, to find the same for Australia and New Zealand. Both were successes, thanks to talented founders and the hard traveling TechCrunch team. And now we’re pleased to announce that we’re stepping up our commitment to emerging ecosystems. TechCrunch is once again teaming up with Facebook, our partner for last year’s Nairobi event, to bring the Startup Battlefield to three major cities representi...

Uber’s European rival Taxify raises $175M led by Daimler at a $1B valuation

There’s a new unicorn in the global ride-hailing space after Taxify, a startup born in Estonia that does battle with Uber across Europe and Africa, closed $175 million in new funding that takes it valuation to the $1 billion mark. Daimler, the German automotive giant which owns Mercedes-Benz among other things, led the round. The investment also featured participation from new backers Europe-based Korelya Capital and Taavet Hinrikus, founder of billion-dollar Estonian fintech startup Transferwise. Taxify said that China’s Didi Chuxing was among the returning investors to join. The company said it plans to deploy the capital to develop its technology and make further expansions in Europe and Asia. Beyond its automotive business, Daimler has taken a role in ride-hailing already. Its investme...

Russia starts blocking Telegram for failing to turn over encryption keys

The Russian state telecommunication regulator has began blocking Telegram as expected. This comes after the messaging company refused to give Russian security services encryption keys. The service is expected to be blocked within the coming hours. According to several reports Telegram is still operational in the country though several service providers have started blocking the company’s website. Ran by its Russian founder Pavel Durov, Telegram has over 200 million users and is a top-ten messaging service made popular by its strong stance on privacy. Telegram is recognized as an operator of information dissemination in Russia and therefore the company is required by Russian to provide keys to its encryption service to the Federal Security Service. This is so the FSS can reportedly read the...