San Francisco

Review: iPhone XS, XS Max and the power of long-term thinking

The iPhone XS proves one thing definitively: that the iPhone X was probably one of the most ambitious product bets of all time. When Apple told me in 2017 that they put aside plans for the iterative upgrade that they were going to ship and went all in on the iPhone X because they thought they could jump ahead a year, they were not blustering. That the iPhone XS feels, at least on the surface, like one of Apple’s most “S” models ever is a testament to how aggressive the iPhone X timeline was. I think there will be plenty of people who will see this as a weakness of the iPhone XS, and I can understand their point of view. There are about a half-dozen definitive improvements in the XS over the iPhone X, but none of them has quite the buzzword-worthy effectiveness of a marquee upgrade like 64-...

African experiments with drone technologies could leapfrog decades of infrastructure neglect

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor Harley-Davidson is opening a Silicon Valley R&D center to power EV production With a $10 million round, Nigeria’s Paga plans global expansion Samantha Stein Contributor More posts by this contributor Only 48 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 Announcing Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2018 A drone revolution is coming to sub-Saharan Africa. Countries across the continent are experimenting with this 21st century technology as a way to leapfrog decades of neglect of 20th century infrastructure. Over the last two years, San Francisco-based startup Zipline launched a national UAV delivery program in East Africa; South Africa...

Google Street View cars will be roaming around the planet to check our air quality with these sensors

Aclima, a San Francisco-based startup building Internet-connected air quality sensors has announced plans to integrate its mobile sensing platform into Google’s global fleet of Street View vehicles. Google uses the Street View cars to map the land for Google Maps. Starting with 50 cars in Houston, Mexico City and Sydney, Aclima will capture air quality data by generating snapshots of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and particulate matter (PM2.5)while the Google cars roam the streets. The idea is to ascertain where there may be too much pollution and other breathing issues on a hyper local level in each metropolitan area. The data will then be made available as a public dataset on Google BigQuery. Aclima has had a close rela...

With a $10 million round, Nigeria’s Paga plans global expansion

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor South Africa’s Yoco raises $16 million to boost digital services to small businesses African tech leaders Fope Adelowo, Ken Njoroge, Tayo Oviosu to speak at Disrupt SF Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for an international expansion with $10 million in funding let by the Global Innovation Fund.  The company is planning to release its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch at Disrupt San Francisco. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom’s M-Pesa, according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete wi...

SynapseFI raises $17M to develop its fintech and banking platform

SynapseFI, a startup that helps banks and fintech companies work together to develop technology, has announced that it raised a $17 million Series A funding round. The funding actually closed at the back end of last year, but CEO Sankaet Pathak said the company has been so busy developing new products, hiring and more than that it is only getting around to disclosing the deal now. The investment was led by Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital, with participation from other unnamed backers. The San Francisco-based startup has sat under the radar for a while now despite starting up in 2014. Its core product is a platform that helps banks and developers work together. That involves developer-facing APIs that allow companies to connect with banks to offer services, and also bank-facing...

FirstMark Capital’s Catherine Ulrich is joining us at TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR

One of the underlying trends of VR/AR investment in 2018 is that money has become harder to come by for startups which may have had no trouble pulling together a round in 2016. Who better to chat with about why this is happening than a partner at one of the leading early stage venture capital firms. Catherine Ulrich of FirstMark Capital will be joining us onstage at TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR in LA on October 18th where we’ll get a chance to chat with her about investor perceptions surrounding augmented and virtual reality startups and where she thinks the real opportunities lie in the short and long term.  Before joining FirstMark as a managing partner this past year, Ulrich served as the Chief Product Officer at Shutterstock and previously held a number of executive roles at Weight Watch...

The lobbying is fast and furious as gig companies seek relief from pro-labor Supreme Court ruling

Antoinette Siu Contributor More posts by this contributor California may mandate a woman in the boardroom, but businesses are fighting it For four years, Edhuar Arellano has left his house at 7 a.m. on weekdays to drive customers around the Bay Area for Lyft and Uber . Most days, he doesn’t get home to Santa Clara until 11 p.m. On weekends, he delivers pizzas to make ends meet. Like a lot of drivers plugging in to ride-hailing apps for work, he likes the flexibility the gig economy has offered. But given the choice, Arellano says he wishes he could just become an employee. That would get him paid vacation, benefits, overtime, his own health insurance and perhaps more say over his working conditions. “We need to accept whatever they want,” said the 55-year-old father of two grown children. ...

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 dives deep into artificial intelligence and machine learning

As fields of research, machine learning and artificial intelligence both date back to the 50s. More than half a century later, the disciplines have graduated from the theoretical to practical, real world applications. We’ll have some of the top minds in both categories to discuss the latest advances and future of AI and ML on stage and Disrupt San Francisco in early September. For the first time, Disrupt SF will be held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. It’s a huge space, which meant we could dramatically increase the amount of programming offered to attendees. And we did. Here’s the agenda. Tickets are still available even though the show is less than two weeks away. Grab one here. The show features the themes currently facing the technology world including artificial intelligence and ma...

RideAlong is helping police officers de-escalate 911 calls with data designed for the field

RideAlong keeps people in mind, and that’s a good thing. The company, founded by Meredith Hitchcock (COO) and Katherine Nammacher (CEO), aims to make streets safer, not with expansive surveillance systems or high-tech weaponry but with simple software focused on the people being policed. That distinction sounds small, but it’s surprisingly revelatory. Tech so often forgets the people that it’s ostensibly trying to serve, but with RideAlong they’re front and center. “The thing about law enforcement is they are interacting with individuals who have been failed by the rest of society and social support networks,” Nammacher told TechCrunch in an interview. “We want to help create a dialogue toward a more perfect future for people who are having some really rough things happen to them. Police o...

Observe.AI raises $8M to use artificial intelligence to improve call centers

Being stuck on the phone with call centers is painful. We all know this. Observe.AI is one company that wants to make the experience more bearable, and it’s raised $8 million to develop an artificial intelligence system that it believes will do just that. The funding round was led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from MGV, Liquid 2 Ventures and Hack VC. Existing investors Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator also took part — Observe.AI was part of the YC’s winter 2018 batch. The India-U.S. startup was founded last year with the goal of solving a very personal problem for founders Swapnil Jain (CEO), Akash Singh (CTO) and Sharath Keshava (CRO): making call centers better. But, unlike most AI products that offer the potential to fully replace human workforces, Observe.AI is settin...

How Airbnb went from renting air beds for $10 to a $30 billion hospitality behemoth

Happy 10th anniversary Airbnb. When we first wrote about the company a decade ago, it was a spare website cobbled together by its founders for the low low price of $20,000. In the years since, the marketplace Airbnb created has radically transformed the rental landscape in cities, created an entirely new hospitality market and surged to a valuation of roughly $31 billion. We researched the number of airbeds sold every year because that’s how big we thought Airbnb could become. — Brian Chesky (@bchesky) August 12, 2018 As it prepares for an initial public offering in 2019, it’s worth a look back on how far the company has come, and how its founders’ vision for a new type of way to monetize unused apartment space for budget travelers has become the engine driving a new kind of travel and new...

Boston-area startups are on pace to overtake NYC venture totals

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor Home run exits happen stealthily for biotech While tech waffles on going public, biotech IPOs boom Boston has regained its longstanding place as the second-largest U.S. startup funding hub. After years of trailing New York City in total annual venture investment, Massachusetts is taking the lead in 2018. Venture investment in the Boston metro area hit $5.2 billion so far this year, on track to be the highest annual total in years. The Massachusetts numbers year-to-date are about 15 percent higher than the New York City total. That puts Boston’s biotech-heavy venture haul apparently second only to Silicon Valley among domestic locales thus far this year. And for New England VCs, the latest numbers also confirm already well-ingrained ...