Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Google”

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Alumni Ventures Group is the most active venture fund you’ve never heard of

Alumni Ventures Group’s (AVG) limited partners aren’t endowment or pension funds. Its typical LP is a heart surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa. The firm has both an unorthodox model of fundraising and dealmaking. Across 25 micro funds, AVG is raising and investing upwards of $200 million per year for and in tech startups. Tucked away in Boston, far from the limelight of Silicon Valley, few seem to be paying attention to AVG. There are a few reasons why, and those seem to be working to the firm’s advantage. Today, AVG is announcing a close of roughly $30 million for three additional funds: Green D Ventures, Chestnut Street Ventures and Purple Arch Ventures, which represent capital committed by Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern alums, respectively. “People don’t really know what to make of us” AVG walks and talks like a venture fund, but a peek under the hood reveals its unconventional fundraising mechanisms. Rather than collecting $5 million minimum investments from institutional LPs, AVG takes $50,000 directly from individual alums of prestigious universities. The firm pools the capital and creates university-specific venture funds for graduates of Duke, Stanford, Harvard, MIT and several other colleges.  “People don’t really know what to make of us because we’re so different,” said Michael Collins, AVG’s founder and chief executive officer. Collins started AVG to make venture capital more accessible to individual people. He’s been a VC since 1986, formerly of TA Associates, and had grown tired of the hubris that runs rampant in the industry. In 2014, he started a $1.5 million fund for alums of his alma mater, Dartmouth. Since then, AVG has grown into 25 funds, each of which fundraise annually and are seeing substantial growth over their previous raises. “What we observed is VC is a really good asset class but it’s really designed for institutional investors,” Collins (pictured below) said. “It’s really hard for individual people to put together a smart, simple portfolio unless they do it themselves. That’s why we created AVG.” AVG and its team of 40 investment professionals make 150 to 200 investments per year of roughly $1 million each…

Google-incubated AdLingo uses chatbot integration to create conversational ads

“Conversational marketing” is a phrase that I hear a lot, but when the team at AdLingo uses it, they mean something specific — namely, bringing chatbots and other conversational assistants into online advertising. The startup is part of Google’s Area 120 incubator, and co-founder and general manager Vic Fatnani said he’s worked on advertising at Google for more than a decade. “One of the things we saw happening was this paradigm shift with users and consumers going towards more of a conversational medium,” he said. “Everything is becoming more conversational, whether it’s through devices such as your phone, your speaker and eventually your car … We asked ourselves, ‘Hey if this shift is happening, why can’t marketing be more conversational?’” You may be wondering whether consumers are really clamoring to interact with ads, but Fatnani said he and his co-founder Dario Rapisardi were determined not to build “a solution that needs a problem,” so they spent months talking to marketers and chatbot developers. Apparently, when they asked about what challenges everyone was facing, the big answer was “discovery.” As Fatnani put it, “Hey, I have this amazing conversational assistant, but it’s really hard for me to bring this in front of an audience.” General Manager Vic Fatnani, Head of Partnerships Stephanie Lyras, Head of Engineering Dario Rapisardi In his view, advertising provides the perfect medium to solve this problem. Instead of building a chatbot and just letting consumers find it on their own website or app, brands can integrate it into their advertising, allowing people who see the ad to ask questions and provide feedback. “Imagine you want to launch a new soda drink in Brazil, a market that you’ve never entered before,” he said. “Imagine you can now run a conversational display ad and actually have people vote to say what kind of flavor would you like to drink.” Or for a real example, there’s the Allstar Kia experience that you can see at the top of this post. The company’s director of internet marketing Chris Ferrall said in a statement that “AdLingo lets our customers browse inventory, determine car…

Google Plus to Shut Down: What Small Businesses Need to Know

Google is shutting down Google+ as a social network, effective August 31, 2019. Google made the announcement on October 8, the same day as a Wall Street Journal story outlining that the data of a half million users was exposed.  Google knew about the security issue back in March 2018, but elected not to disclose it to users. Within hours of the story, Google came out with an announcement acknowledging the issue, but defending its actions.  In the same announcement it said it was closing Google+ down in 10 months’ time. Google Vice President Ben Smith said in a statement that the data was exposed through an API used by third party apps.  An API is a technical means of transferring data from one software program to another. About the Google+ Security Breach Google downplayed the impact of the security breach, stating it was due to a software bug. Here are key points: It says the security bug was limited to a small number of Google+ profile fields marked non-public. Those fields include name, email address, occupation, gender and age. The breach “does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content,” according to Smith.  G Suite content, of course, refers to G Suite users’ email, calendar, and stored files. Many small businesses use G Suite (formerly called Google Apps for Business). So it’s good to know your company’s sensitive communications were not affected. Google says it disovered and patched the bug back in March. Google can’t tell which users were affected, because it claims to keep log data for only two weeks. However, it estimates that 500,000 users using 438 different apps were affected. Google Plus to Shut Down: What Small Businesses Need to Know Google+ will remain open until August 31, 2019. However, you might want to consider leaving sooner rather than later if you use it for marketing purposes. Smith revealed how the network has shrunk, admitting it has “low usage.” Over 90% of its sessions are less than…

The Infatuation raises $30M from Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo to bring Zagat into the digital age

WndrCo, the consumer tech investment and holding company founded by longtime Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, has invested $30 million in The Infatuation, a restaurant discovery platform. The Infatuation made waves earlier this year when it purchased Zagat from Google, which had paid $151 million for the 40-year-old company in 2011. Despite efforts to makeover the Zagat app, the search giant ultimately decided to unload the perennial restaurant review and recommendation service and focus on expanding its database of restaurant recommendations organically. New York-based The Infatuation was founded by music industry vets Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal in 2009. It has previously raised $3.5 million for its mobile app, events, newsletter and personalized SMS-based recommendation tool. Stang told TechCrunch this morning that they plan to use a good chunk of the funds to develop the new Zagat platform, which will be kept separate from The Infatuation. “The first thing we want to do before we build anything is spend a lot of time researching how people have used Zagat in the past, how they want to use it in the future, what a community-driven platform could look like and how to apply community reviews and ratings to the brand,” said Stang, The Infatuation’s chief executive officer. “Zagat’s roots are in user-generated content. … What we are doing now is thinking through what that looks like with new tech applied to it. What it looks like in the digital age. How [we can] take our domain expertise and that legendary brand and make something new with it.” The Infatuation will also expand to new cities beginning this fall with launches in Boston and Philadelphia. It’s already active in a dozen or so U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. The startup’s first and only international location is London. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s NewTV closes a billion-dollar round, says report Katzenberg, who began his Hollywood career at Paramount Pictures, began raising up to $2 billion for WndrCo about a year ago. Since then, he’s unveiled WndrCo’s new mobile video startup NewTV, which has raised $1 billion and hired Meg Whitman, the former president and CEO of Hewlett Packard, as…

Committed to privacy, Snips founder wants to take on Alexa and Google, with blockchain

Earlier this year we saw the headlines of how the users of popular voice assistants like Alexa and Siri and continue to face issues when their private data is compromised, or even sent to random people. In May it was reported that Amazon’s Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact. Amazon insists its Echo devices aren’t always recording, but it did confirm the audio was sent. The story could be a harbinger of things to come when voice becomes more and more ubiquitous. After all, Amazon announced the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, its Alexa system for hotels, in June. News stories like this simply reinforce the idea that voice control is seeping into our daily lives. The French startup Snips thinks it might have an answer to the issue of security and data privacy. Its built its software to run 100% on-device, independently from the cloud. As a result, user data is processed on the device itself, acting as a potentially stronger guarantor of privacy. Unlike centralized assistants like Alexa and Google, Snips knows nothing about its users. Its approach is convincing investors. To date, Snips has raised €22 million in funding from investors like Korelya Capital, MAIF Avenir, BPI France and Eniac Ventures. Created in 2013 by 3 PhDs, and now employing more than 60 people in Paris and New York, Snips offers its voice assistant technology as a white-labelled solution for enterprise device manufacturers. It’s tested its theories about voice by releasing the result of a consumer poll. The survey of 410 people found that 66% of respondents said they would be apprehensive of using a voice assistant in a hotel room, because of concerns over privacy, 90% said they would like to control the ways corporations use their data, even if it meant sacrificing convenience. “Сonsumers are increasingly aware of the privacy concerns with voice assistants that rely on cloud storage — and that these concerns will actually impact their usage,” says Dr Rand Hindi, co-founder and CEO at Snips. “However, emerging technologies like blockchain are helping us to create safer…

It’s the end of crypto as we know it and I feel fine

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period of trading whose milestones including the launch of Coinbase and the growth of a vibrant (if often shady) professional ecosystem is over. Crypto still runs on hype. Gemini announcing a stablecoin, the World Economic Forum saying something hopeful, someone else saying something less hopeful – all of these things and more are helping define the current market. However, something else is happening behind the scenes that is far more important. As I’ve written before, the socialization and general acceptance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial pursuits is a very recent thing. In the old days – circa 2000 – building your own business was considered somehow sordid. Chancers who gave it a go were considered get-rich-quick schemers and worth of little more than derision. As the dot-com market exploded, however, building your own business wasn’t so wacky. But to do it required the imprimaturs and resources of major corporations – Microsoft, Sun, HP, Sybase, etc. – or a connection to academia – Google, Netscape, Yahoo, etc. You didn’t just quit school, buy a laptop, and start Snapchat. It took a full decade of steady change to make the revolutionary thought that school wasn’t so great and that money was available for all good ideas to take hold. And take hold it did. We owe the success of TechCrunch and Disrupt to that idea and I’ve always said that TC was career pornography for the cubicle dweller, a guilty pleasure for folks who knew there was something better out there and, with the right prodding, they knew they could achieve it. So in looking at the crypto markets currently we must look at the dot-com markets circa 1999. Massive infrastructure changes, some brought about by Y2K, had computerized nearly every industry. GenXers born in the late 70s and…

Grammarly now saves you from embarrassing mistakes in Google Docs, too

Grammarly now supports Google Docs. Over the course of the last few years, Grammarly has made a name for itself as one of the better grammar and spelling checkers on the market. As a Chrome extension, it neatly integrates with virtually every major online tool and social media site, but until now, Google Docs remained a blind spot. Because of its real-time collaboration features, the Google Docs editor isn’t just a straight-up text field, after all, so the Grammarly team had to do a bit of extra work to make its service work there. Once you have installed the extension, though, it’ll now work just like in any other web app. The feature has actually been available as a beta to paying premium users for a little while, but now everybody can give it a try. It’s interesting to see Grammarly come to Google Docs now. In July, after all, Google announced that it was bringing its own grammar checker to Google Docs, too. Google’s twist here is that it is basically using the same kind of machine learning techniques that power its translation software to check for errors in your documents. My sense is that Grammarly actually offers a more comprehensive set of tools for keeping you from embarrassing yourself with bad grammar (including help with punctuation, for example), but Google’s tool remains in private beta, so I haven’t been able to give it a try yet. Grammarly’s paid plans start at $29.95 per month, but you get a discount if you pre-pay for three months or a full year (and the company also regularly offers discounts to its free subscribers). There also is a team plan for businesses that starts at $10/month/members (with a minimum of three subscribers).

Your Clients Increasingly Use Windows 10 as an Operating System and Chrome as Their Browser

Knowing the platforms your customer use can help your business better engage with them and also help you find new potential clients. The latest figures from NetMarketShare reveal Windows is still king when it comes to desktop operating systems and Chrome is the browser to beat. The lead Windows and Chrome have over their competition seems insurmountable at the moment. The numbers for August have Windows in 88.18% of the world’s systems, while Chrome has 65.21% of the market share. Small businesses can use this data to better engage with your customers, vendors, partners and even your employees. By using the platforms your potential clients prefer, you will increase the chances of engaging with them without having to worry about compatibility issues and meeting them where they work, shop and play. The Growth of Windows 10 Market Share With the introduction of Windows 10 and the upcoming end of support of Windows 7, Microsoft was looking to bring all of its users aboard the new operating system. However, things haven’t gone as planned because Windows 7 is still thriving around the world. By 2020, Windows 7 will no longer receive support from Microsoft, which means no security updates, making it extremely vulnerable to security breaches. But this still hasn’t encouraged some users to migrate to Windows 10. According to NetMarketShare, the number of Windows 7 users for August only went down by about one percentage point to 40.27% of all personal computers. When it comes to all of the computers running Windows, almost half or over 45% are still running Windows 7. Compare this to the operating system Microsoft is currently pushing. Windows 10 runs only 37.8% of all personal computers and just 42% of the computers running on Windows. But its popularity is slowly growing as more individuals and businesses migrate away from Windows 7. From May to July, Windows 10 has increased by almost three percentage points, but Microsoft needs to do better if it wants to get all of its Windows 7 users switched over by the time it ends support in 2020. By comparison, Microsoft’s competition…

Nutrigene wants to personalize your vitamins using your genetic code

Vitamins are proving to be a lucrative industry in the United States. Just last year vitamin sales pulled in roughly $37 billion for the U.S. economy. That’s up from $28 billion in 2010. To cash in on this growing market, several startups have popped up in the last few years — including Nutrigene, a startup combining the vitamin business with another lucrative avenue of revenue in consumer DNA analysis. Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA. You get your analysis by filling out an assessment on the startup’s website, choosing a recommended package such as “essentials,” “improve performance” or “optimize gut health.” After that you can also choose to upload your DNA profile from 23andMe, then Nutrigene will send you liquid supplements built just for you. Founder Min FitzGerald launched the startup out of Singularity and later accepted a Google fellowship for the idea. Nutrigene then went on to Y Combinator’s winter 2018 class. FitzGerald’s co-founder and CTO Van Duesterberg comes from a biotech and epigenetics background and holds a PhD from Stanford. PhDs and impressive resumes aside, the vitamin and genetics industries are not without controversy. For every study showing that those who eat a balanced diet don’t benefit from supplements, there are just as many highlighting the benefits of taking your vitamins. Also, coupling vitamin therapy with your DNA seems at a glance dubious. However, Dawn Barry, former VP at Illumina and now president of Luna DNA, a biotech company powered by the blockchain, says it could have some scientific underpinnings. But, she cautioned, nutrigenetics is still an early science. Amir Trabelsi, founder of genetic analysis platform Genoox, agrees. We interviewed both Trabelsi and Barry previously when Nutrigene first came on our radar. Trabelsi pointed out these types of companies don’t need to provide any proof. “That doesn’t mean it’s completely wrong,” he told TechCrunch. “But we don’t know enough to say this person should use Vitamin A, for example… There needs to be more trials…

For Labor Day, work harder

Labor Day is a holiday that just doesn’t fit Silicon Valley. Its purported purpose is to celebrate working men and women and their — our — progress toward better working conditions and fairer workplaces. Yet, few regions in recent times have supposedly done more to “destroy” quality working conditions than the Valley, from the entire creation of the precarious 1099 economy to automation of labor itself. My colleague John Chen offered the received wisdom on this discrepancy this weekend, arguing that Valley entrepreneurs should take the traditional message of Labor Day to heart, encouraging them to create more equitable, fair, and secure workplaces not just for their own employees, but also for all the workers that power the platforms we create and operate every day. It’s a nice sentiment that I agree with, but I think he misses the mark. What Silicon Valley needs — now more than ever before — is to double down on the kind of ambitious, hard-charging, change-the-world labor that created our modern knowledge economy in the first place. We can’t and shouldn’t slow down. We need more technological progress, not less. We need more automation of labor, not less. And we need as much of this innovation to happen in the United States as possible. The tech industry may have become a dominant force by some metrics, but we are only just getting started. Entire industries like freight have little to no automation. Several billion people lack access to the internet, to say nothing of critical, basic infrastructure. Our drug pipeline is anemic, and costs for education, health care, construction, and government are continuing to skyrocket. In short, we have barely scratched the surface of what we can achieve with software, with hardware, with better business models and better automation. These aren’t table scraps, but trillions dollar opportunities lying in wait for entrepreneurs to seize them. And yet, we keep hearing persistent claims that overwork is a problem in the Valley. Discussions of work-life balance are practically de rigueur for startups these days, as are free meals and massages and unlimited vacation time. These demands…

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. More Info | Close