Tech

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies at 65

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates, has died. He was 65. Allen’s company Vulcan Inc. said in a statement…

Facebook Hackers Accessed Personal Data From 29M Accounts

Facebook says hackers accessed a wide swath of information — ranging from emails and phone numbers to more personal details like sites visited and…

Facebook Wants People to Invite Its Cameras Into Their Homes

Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more…

Forerunner Ventures just closed a $360 million fund, tripling the size of its last effort

Last year, retail e-commerce sales worldwide reached $2.3 trillion, a 24.8 percent increase over the previous year, according to eMarketer. A growing percentage of that spend was being captured by startups with strong online identities that are savvy about collecting and analyzing their customer data. Involved with many of them, from the eyewear company Warby Parker to the cosmetics startup Glossier to the athleisure brand Outside Voices, is Forerunner Ventures, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm that has built its own name around expertise in e-commerce — and which sees a giant opportunity to fund many more brands. Forerunner suddenly has much more capital to chase those opportunities, too, having just closed its fourth fund with $360 million in capital commitments. ...

Echo Show 2 review

With the original Echo Show, Amazon added a new dimension to the smart speaker. To critics, the device was little more than a station tablet. For Amazon, however, the product unlocked a new vertical in the rapidly expanding category. The day to usefulness wasn’t always clear, but the potential certainly was, as Amazon and the competition looked to corner the smart home market. Like most of the company’s first generation products, however, the hardware wasn’t great. The first Show was big and clunky. It looked dated before it even arrived in living rooms and kitchens. But it got the job done. While the company hasn’t released sales figures for the product, the first gen clearly sold briskly in its early days, according to rankings. The numbers were ultimately hobbled by a war with Google th...

RankScience closes $1.8M seed — and now only wants to replace human SEO staff if you don’t have any

A couple of years ago YC-backed RankScience, which offers AI-enhanced SEO split-testing, put a few SEO experts’ noses out of joint when the fledgling startup brashly talked about replacing human expertise with automation. Two years on its pitch has mellowed, with the team saying their self-service platform is “augmenting human SEO ability rather than replacing them”. The startup has also — finally — closed a seed round, announcing $1.8M led by Initialized Capital, along with Adam D’Angelo, Michael Seibel, BoxGroup, Liquid2 Ventures, FundersClub, and Jenny 8 Lee participating. The new roster of investors join a list of prior backers that includes Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Christina Cacioppo, and Jack Groetzinger. So what took them so long? Founder Ryan Bednar...

Taxify and Via drive to Disrupt Berlin

After years of impressive growth, Uber has been showing signs of weakness and had to give up on some markets. Maybe Uber isn’t going to be the market leader in every country. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Taxify and Via Transportation co-founders and CEOs are going to talk about challenging Uber at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. Markus Villig started working on Taxify years ago. But things started to take off quite dramatically in the past twelve months. The company now works with hundreds of thousands of drivers to serve millions of customers. Taxify now operates in 25 European and African countries and is carefully avoiding the U.S. That strategy could pay off. Via is interesting for another reason. As Daniel Ramot will tell you, Via is attacking the ride-sharing market from a diff...

Watch SpaceX attempt its first West Coast ground landing

In a little over an hour, SpaceX will be attempting the launch of a used Falcon 9 rocket and subsequently looking to pull off an upright landing on the California coast. This time will interestingly be the first West Coast landing that’s taking place on solid California ground as opposed to the drone barges that SpaceX has used in the past. This hasn’t been a matter of preference for SpaceX which has been trying to build its own land launch pad in the West Coast, but hasn’t gotten clearance yet, The Verge notes. The purpose of the flight is the launch of the SAOCOM 1A, a satellite operated by Argentina’s Space Agency which in conjunction with another identical satellite will help gather soil and moisture information, according to SpaceX. The launch is scheduled to h...

The accessibility of the iPhone XS Max

Steven Aquino Contributor Share on Twitter Steven Aquino is a freelance tech writer and iOS accessibility expert. More posts by this contributor At Apple’s WWDC 2018, accessibility pervades all  AirPods to get Live Listen feature in iOS 12 I’ve heard it said many times recently by hosts of various Apple-focused podcasts that adapting to the new iPhone XS Max has felt like “coming home.” For these members of the so-called “Plus Club” — the whimsical name referring to the group of users who have chosen Plus models in the past — the return to a device with such a massive display felt instantly familiar, comfortable even. After a year with the smaller, 5.8-inch iPhone X, I, too, have experienced these feelings of comfort and familiarity. I’ve been testing an iPhone XS Max, a review unit ...

U.S. government sides with Apple and Amazon, effectively denying Bloomberg ‘spy chip’ report

Homeland Security has said it has “no reason to doubt” statements by Apple, Amazon and Supermicro denying allegations made in a Bloomberg report published earlier this week. It’s the first statement so far from the U.S. government on the report, casting doubt on the findings. Homeland Security’s statement echos near-identical comments from the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center. Bloomberg said, citing more than a dozen sources, that China installed tiny chips on motherboards built by Supermicro, which companies across the U.S. tech industry — including Amazon and Apple — have used to power servers in their datacenters. The chip can reportedly compromise data on the server, allowing China to spy on some of the world’s most wealthy and powerful companies. App...

Marshall’s Kilburn II is a ruggedly handsome bluetooth speaker

Marshall hasn’t been been shy about capitalizing on its legacy. The legendary English amplifier company has plastered its name on cans of beer and a line of refrigerators. It’s not the most crass branding we’ve seen, but it’s pretty damn silly. At first glance, the same can be said for its line of bluetooth speakers and headphones, save for one important thing: they’re actually quite good. It’s been several years since the company branched out into consumer electronics, and along the way, it’s been remarkably consistent with the products that bear its iconic cursive logo. Announced this summer at IFA, the Kilburn II doesn’t stray far from the familiar Marshall amplifier style. In fact, you’d be forgiven if you mistook the thing for a practice amp. Instead, it’s just a solidly built b...

This is the Google Pixel Slate

Maybe there will be some surprises at next week’s Google event. At this rate, however, we’re not entirely optimistic at the prospect. Just as the Pixel 3 got the full hands-on treatment in Hong Kong, a new contender has emerged. Like a number of recent leaks, these new renders of the Pixel Slate come courtesy of My Smart Home Hub. As previous leaks have suggested, the device appears to be a tablet companion piece to the company’s well-designed Pixel Book. That is to say, it’s a premium take on the Chrome OS hardware market. While the Pixel Book is a convertible via a swiveling keyboard, the Slate does dual-duty by way of a detachable keyboard case. The case features round, typewriter-style keys, which look to be a bit more substantial than those found on other detachables at first glance. ...