United Kingdom

Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra. Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful! Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar. The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device,...

UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content. The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk. They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms. They are argue independent oversight is necessary to ensure “accountability and transparency” over those...

Panasonic to move its European HQ out of the UK because Brexit

Chalk up yet another Brexit deficit: Japanese electronics firm Panasonic will be moving its European headquarters from the UK to Amsterdam in October because it’s worried about the tax implications if it stays, the Nikkei Asian Review reports. The company is concerned it could face tax liabilities if the UK shifts its corporate tax regime as a result of Brexit. Laurent Abadie, CEO of Panasonic Europe, told the publication Japan could treat the U.K. as a tax haven if the country lowers its corporate rate — as the government has indeed suggested it will to try to make itself a more attractive destination for businesses once it’s outside the European Union’s trading bloc. In November 2016 the UK Prime Minister announced a review of the country’s corporate tax rate — saying the government coul...

Xiaomi backs Indian consumer lending startup ZestMoney in $13.4M deal

Xiaomi has continued its investment in India after it led a $13.4 million round for fintech startup ZestMoney. The newly-public Chinese firm previously said it would invest up to $1 billion in India and Indian startups over a five-year period, and this deal follows its maiden India fintech investment in lending platform KrazyBee. The new capital is an extension to ZestMoney’s recently closed $6.5 million Series A, and it takes the company to $22 million raised to date. Existing backers PayU, Ribbit Capital and Omidyar Network joined Xiaomi in this ‘Series A2’ round. ZestMoney was founded in 2015 by British entrepreneur Lizzie Chapman, who moved to India in 2011 to head up payday loan startup Wonga’s division in the country. Wonga — which is reportedly close to shutting down — didn’t ultima...

Kencko wants to help you eat more fruit and vegetables

People don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, that’s despite an embarrassment of options today that include fast grocery delivery and takeout services with a focus on health. A study from the U.S-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last November found that just one in ten adults in America “meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations” each day. The bar isn’t that high. The recommendation is just 1.5-2 cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day, but failing to meet it can put people at risk of chronic diseases, the CDC said. The problem is universal the world over, but perhaps most acute in the U.S, where finding healthy food is easier than ever. Amazon’s same-day grocery deliveries, make-it-at-home services like Blue Apron and various healt...

Femtech hardware startup Elvie inks strategic partnership with UK’s NHS

Elvie, a femtech hardware startup whose first product is a sleek smart pelvic floor exerciser, has inked a strategic partnership with the UK’s National Health Service that will make the device available nationwide through the country’s free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare service so at no direct cost to the patient. It’s a major win for the startup that was co-founded in 2013 by CEO Tania Boler and Jawbone founder, Alexander Asseily, with the aim of building smart technology that focuses on women’s issues — an overlooked and underserved category in the gadget space. Boler’s background before starting Elvie (née Chiaro) including working for the U.N. on global sex education curriculums. But her interest in pelvic floor health, and the inspiration for starting Elvie, began after she had a bab...

AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall

TaskUs, the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group. It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment from its two co-founders, and the new deal, which values the decade-old company at $500 million before the money even comes in, is proof of how much has changed for the service in the years since it was founded. The Santa Monica-based company, which began as a browser-based virtual assistant company — “You send us a task and we get the task done,” recalled TaskUs chief executive Bryce Maddock — is now one of the main pr...

India’s Uber rival Ola is headed to Europe with ride-hailing launch in the UK

The UK is getting a new alternative to Uber after India-based ride-hailing company Ola announced plans to expand to the country, which will become its first market in Europe. Ola was founded in 2010 and it covers over 110 cities in India where it offers licensed taxis, private hire cars and rickshaws through a network of over one million drivers. The company has raised around $3 billion from investors that include SoftBank, Chinese duo Tencent and Didi Chuxing and DST Global . It was last valued at $7 billion. Ola ventured overseas for the first time when it launched in Australia earlier this year — it is now in seven cities there — and its move into the UK signals a further expansion into Europe. Ola’s UK service isn’t live right now, but the company said it will begin offering licensed t...

Wonga investors inject £10M so cash-strapped payday lender can fund claims

If you were at Disrupt London four years ago you may remember more than a little awkwardness during an investor panel when two VCs that had invested in European payday loans firm Wonga declined to comment on what had gone wrong at their portfolio company in the wake of a £220M write down. Yesterday Sky News reported that those same two, Accel Partners and Balderton Capital, are among a group of Wonga investors that have agreed to inject a further £10M (~$13M) into the business to help fund compensation claims related to its past censured practices. We’ve reached out to Accel and Balderton for comment. Prior to the latest emergency funding, Wonga had raised a total of around £145.5M, according to Crunchbase. Its 2011 Series C round was backed by investors including Accel, Oak Investment, Me...

UK report highlights changing gadget habits — and our need for an online fix

A look back at the past decade of consumer technology use in the UK has shone a light on changing gadget habits, underlining how Brits have gone from being smartphone dabblers back in 2008 when a top-of-the-range smartphone cost ~£500 to true addicts in today’s £1k+ premium smartphone era. The report also highlights what seems to be, at times, a conflicted relationship between Brits and the Internet. While nine in ten people in the UK have home access to the Internet, here in 2018, some web users report feeling being online is a time-sink or a constraint on their freedom. But even more said they feel lost or bored without it. Over the past decade the Internet looks to have consolidated its grip on the spacetime that boredom occupied for the less connected generations that came before. The ...

The dramatic rise and fall of online P2P lending in China

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on TechNode, an editorial partner of TechCrunch based in China. When Emily Zhang was interning with a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending firm in the Summer of 2016, her main task was to carry out research on other P2P lending firms. She found the rates of return tempting and some underlying assets reliable, so she decided to invest in the market herself. Until now, none of her investments have matured, but she worries about whether she can actually withdraw her profits, much less get back the principal. Even so, Zhang considers herself lucky that the companies that sold her the assets are still in business while many other P2P companies have collapsed, leaving their investors in despair. Stories have been circulating across Chinese social networks about...

What can we learn from the Dixons data breach that blew up after disclosure

European consumer electronics retailer Dixons Carphone’s apologetic admission yesterday that a 2017 data breach was in fact considerably worse than it first reported suggests disclosures of major breaches could get a bit more messy — at least under the early reign of the region’s tough new data protection framework, GDPR — as organizations scramble to comply with requirements to communicate serious breaches “without undue delay”. Although, to be clear, it’s not the regulation that’s the problem. Dixons’ handling of this particular security incident has come in for sharp criticism — and is most certainly not a textbook example of how to proceed. Dixons Carphone disclosed a breach of 5.9M payment cards and 1.2M customer records in mid June, saying it had discovered the unauthorized access to...

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