Tech

Cinematic train wreck, “The Room”, is now on YouTube in its entirety

The Room has been ranked with Plan 9 From Outer Space as a strong contender for the “best” worst movie ever made — and it’s now available in its entirety on YouTube. Written, directed, and starring Tommy Wiseau, The Room belongs in the same category as Plan 9, and Coven (which was immortalized in the 1999 documentary American Movie) as a paean to moviemaking by people who have no idea how to make a movie. The combination of passion and ineptitude is what made The Room a cult classic after its release, and what made The Disaster Artist — the James Franco film it inspired so compelling (Ed Wood, the biopic from Tim Burton about the director behind Plan 9 is also amazing). Writer, actor, and director Tommy Wiseau in a still from “The Room” In “T...

Corporate venture investment climbs higher throughout 2018

Jason Rowley Contributor Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News. More posts by this contributor In VC fund creation, have we passed the peak? Supergiant VC rounds aren’t just raised in China Many corporations are pinning their futures on their venture investment portfolios. If you can’t beat startups at the innovation game, go into business with them as financial partners. Though many technology companies have robust venture investment initiatives—Alphabet’s venture funding universe and Intel Capital’s prolific approach to startup investment come to mind—other corporations are just now doubling down on venture investments. Over the past several months, several big corporations committed additional capital to corporate investments. For example, defense...

Singapore is the crypto sandbox that Asia needs

Singapore Blockchain Week happened this past week. While there have been a few announcements from companies, some of the most interesting updates have come from regulators, and specifically, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The financial regulator openly discussed its views on cryptocurrency and plans to develop blockchain technology locally. For those who are unfamiliar, Singapore historically has been a financial hub in Southeast Asia, but now has also gradually become the crypto hub of Asia. Compared to the rest of Asia and the rest of the world, the regulators in Singapore are well-informed and more transparent about their views on blockchain and cryptocurrency. While regulatory uncertainties still loom over Korea and Japan, in Southeast Asia, the MAS has already released its...

Seven reasons not to trust Facebook to play cupid

This week Facebook has launched a major new product play, slotting an algorithmic dating service inside its walled garden as if that’s perfectly normal behavior for an ageing social network. Insert your [dad dancing GIF of choice] right here. Facebook getting into dating looks very much like a mid-life crisis — as a veteran social network desperately seeks a new strategy to stay relevant in an age when app users have largely moved on from social network ‘lifecasting’ to more bounded forms of sharing, via private messaging and/or friend groups inside dedicated messaging and sharing apps. The erstwhile Facebook status update has long been usurped by the Snapchat (and now Instagram) Story as the social currency of choice for younger app users. Of course Facebook owns t...

Understanding Renaud Laplanche’s next Upgraded act

Renaud Laplanche spent ten years building LendingClub. In the process, he created an industry from scratch. Circumventing conventional banking channels for consumer credit began in 1996 when Chris Larsen started E-LOAN, which ultimately led to Prosper Marketplace. But LendingClub, which Laplanche founded in 2007, was and remains the poster child for the business of marketplace lending. The industry’s short history has been volatile, characterized by both triumphant hype and utter lack of confidence. History of the Marketplace Lending Industry, CB Insights While LendingClub has struggled in the public markets since their late 2014 IPO, they have managed to propel their industry into significance, while rapidly expanding their share of the personal loan market to 10%. After his well-publiciz...

A Lime scooter rider died this morning in Washington, D.C., marking the second fatality this month

Lime, the 18-month-old, San Francisco-based company whose bright green bicycles and scooters now dot cities throughout the U.S., launched a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington, today, but that tiny victory might have felt short-lived. The reason: on the opposite side of the country, a Lime rider was killed today by an SUV while tooling around Washington D.C.’s DuPont neighborhood. The local fire department shared video of the rescue, which shows that the victim, an adult male, had to be pulled from the undercarriage of the vehicle. It’s the second known fatality for the company following a death earlier this month in Dallas, when a 24-year-old Texas man fell off the scooter he was riding and died from blunt force injuries to his head. On the one hand, the developments, while un...

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission lands on the surface of a distant asteroid

The coolest mission you haven’t heard of just hit a major milestone: the Japanese Hayabusa 2 probe has reached its destination, the asteroid Ryugu, and just deployed a pair of landers to its surface. Soon it will touch down itself and bring back a sample of Ryugu back to Earth! Are you kidding me? That’s amazing! Hayabusa 2 is, as you might guess, a sequel to the original Hayabusa, which like this one was an asteroid sampling mission. So this whole process isn’t without precedent, though some of you may be surprised that asteroid mining is essentially old hat now. But as you might also guess, the second mission is more advanced than the first. Emboldened by and having learned much from the first mission, Hayabusa 2 packs more equipment and plans a much longer stay at its ...

VCs say Silicon Valley isn’t the gold mine it used to be

In the days leading up to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, The Economist published the cover story, ‘Why Startups Are Leaving Silicon Valley.’ The author outlined reasons why the Valley has “peaked.” Venture capital investors are deploying capital outside the Bay Area more than ever before. High-profile entrepreneurs and investors, Peter Thiel, for example, have left. Rising rents are making it impossible for new blood to make a living, let alone build businesses. And according to a recent survey, 46 percent of Bay Area residents want to get the hell out, an increase from 34 percent two years ago. Needless to say, the future of Silicon Valley was top of mind on stage at Disrupt. “It’s hard to make a difference in San Francisco as a single entrepreneur,”...

Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla

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 Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients African experiments with drone technologies could leapfrog decades of infrastructure neglect Polestar debuted its first production EV and previewed its electric car line in New York with the CEO squarely taking aim at Tesla. The Volvo subsidiary pulled the cover off its Polestar 1, which it positioned less as a hybrid and more as a fully electric (gas optional) car to attract fence sitters to EVs. The $155,000 auto—that will hit streets in 2019—has 3 electrical motors powered by twin 34kWh battery packs and a turbo and supercharged gas V4 up front (more details here). All electric rang...

Instagram denies it’s building Regramming. Here’s why it’d be a disaster

Instagram tells me Regramming, or the ability to instantly repost someone else’s feed post to your followers like a retweet, is “not happening”, not being built, and not being tested. And that’s good news for all Instagrammers. The denial comes after it initially issued a “no comment” to The Verge’s Casey Newton, who published that he’d seen screenshots of a native Instagram resharing sent to him by a source. Regramming would be a fundamental shift in how Instagram works, not necessarily in terms of functionality, but in terms of the accepted norms of what and how to post. You could always screenshot, cite the original creator, and post. But the Instagram has always about sharing your window to the world — what you’ve lived and se...

On-demand trucking app Convoy raises $185M at $1B valuation

CapitalG, the growth equity arm of Alphabet, has led the $185 million round in Convoy, its first investment in the Seattle-based, tech-enabled trucking network. The round brings Convoy’s total raised to $265 million and values the company at $1 billion. New investors T. Rowe Price and Lone Pine Capital participated in the financing alongside existing investors. Convoy has long been backed by Greylock Partners, which led the startup’s Series A in 2015. Y Combinator is also a backer. In an unusual move last year, Y Combinator led a $62 million round in Convoy in what was the first time the accelerator deployed capital from its continuity fund into a late-stage company that was not a YC graduate. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Bezos Expeditions and former S...

Amazon makes offline retail push in India

Amazon unleashed a flurry of new products this week at a U.S. press event, but halfway across the world, it is getting deeper into physical retail in the Indian market. The U.S. e-commerce giant is buying up 49 percent of More in a deal that sees Amazon partner and PE firm Samara Capital pick up the remaining 51 percent. Amazon and Samara have created an entity called Witzig Advisory Services Private Limited which will hold the ownership stake through the deal, which is reportedly worth around $585 million according to Indian media. Regulation prevents Amazon from owning the business entirely, hence it requires a local partner to take a majority stake. The deal is significant because it represents a major move for Amazon in brick and mortar retail in India, which is one of the up-and-comin...