Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Social media giant Facebook recently unveiled Bulletin, a near-clone of the newsletter platform Substack. Despite its complicated relationship with journalists, Facebook thinks it can succeed by offering them better terms; whereas Substack takes a 10 percent cut of writers’ revenue, Bulletin will take nothing — at least for now. Best-selling authors Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom will be among the first Bulletin writers. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the goal is to “support millions of people doing creative work.” Continue reading Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund focused on blockchain and digital asset startups. The venture capital firm’s first crypto-focused fund was introduced three years ago, during the last bear market dubbed “crypto winter,” when cryptocurrency’s value plummeted 80 percent from a 2017 high. Andreessen Horowitz partners Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, who run the company’s cryptocurrency group, stated that they “believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto.” Continue reading Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Bitcoin is touted as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct financial transactions, one reason why cybercriminals use it or some other cryptocurrency when conducting illegal business, whether it’s drug trafficking or ransomware. But this week the Justice Department revealed that it traced and recovered 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins ($2.3 million of the total $4.3 million) that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom to release its computer systems. The feds declined to detail how they recouped the Bitcoin. Meanwhile, El Salvador has become the first nation to formally adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Continue reading Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Roblox, valued last month at $29.5 billion, told prospective investors it is trying to lure older users onto its gaming, concerts and educational platform. Chief executive David Baszucki said the company is counting on older adults not just to join the platform but to buy its stock when it goes public next month. The Apple and Google application has been a top earner during the pandemic, with 2020 revenue jumping 82 percent to $923.9 million and number of hours spent on the platform more than doubling to 30.6 billion. Continue reading Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Community-based social site Reddit raised $250+ million in a new round of funding, doubling its valuation to $6 billion from the $3 billion it was valued after a February 2019 round. Led by Vy Capital, the latest funding included Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings, all previous investors. The social media company, launched in 2005, hosts topic-based message boards, including WallStreetBets, the message board that recently encouraged amateur investors to drive up the stock price of companies shorted by Wall Street investors. Continue reading Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

San Francisco-based startup Abnormal Security is moving its AI-driven email security software to Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, in exchange for Microsoft’s promise to sell Abnormal’s services to its enterprise clients. This is the first such deal for Microsoft, which is battling Amazon for cloud computing dominance. Amazon has already inked similar deals; in a January agreement, cloud-cost management software company Apptio expanded its use of Amazon Web Services in exchange for Amazon’s help to sell Apptio’s services to its clients. Continue reading Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

Marc Andreessen and other Silicon Valley venture capitalists are behind Clubhouse, an audio-based social media app that allows them to meet virtually. Still in beta, the invite-only app counts celebrity MC Hammer and activist DeRay Mckesson among its first members. According to sources, Andreessen Horowitz also beat out other venture firms to invest in Clubhouse, agreeing to infuse $10 million and pay $2 million to buy shares from the app’s existing shareholders. With the financing, Clubhouse is now valued at almost $100 million. Continue reading Clubhouse Becoming Elite Silicon Valley Virtual Meeting App

Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

With an initial focus on the Indian market, Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency aimed for use on its WhatsApp messaging app. More specifically, sources said the company is developing a so-called stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar to reduce volatility. The company is, however, still working on its strategy, meaning that debut of the coin is still some time off. In 2014, Facebook hired former PayPal president David Marcus to run Messenger, fueling belief the company was going to engage in financial services. Continue reading Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

Onshape App for Magic Leap Powers 3D Engineering Design

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Onshape, a cloud-based CAD (computer-aided design) manufacturer, has created an application for use with Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses to let engineers collaborate in designing products. Shown as a technology demonstration at the L.E.A.P. conference, Onshape’s tool was one of the few applications that was not entertainment-related and proved the concept of spatial computing’s power touted by Magic Leap chief exec Rony Abovitz. Onshape’s leadership includes the original creators of SolidWorks, a popular CAD tool. Continue reading Onshape App for Magic Leap Powers 3D Engineering Design

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

After top Google and Facebook executives met with French president Emmanuel Macron, the tech companies vowed to invest artificial intelligence resources in that country’s capital. Google will create a Paris-based AI lab focused on research into automatic learning, language and computer vision. Facebook, which already has created an AI lab in Paris, plans to double its 50-person team there by 2022 and spend 10 million euros ($12.2 million). Both companies also pledge to train that country’s citizens on digital tools. Continue reading Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses

Cloud computing startup DigitalOcean, based in New York City, is taking on industry leaders Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud by targeting smaller developers and startups. According to CEO and co-founder Ben Uretsky, DigitalOcean is offering simple and flexible solutions for smaller companies that may not necessarily need the same business-class services as larger companies. While it is not currently planning an IPO, DigitalOcean indicates it is on a $175 million annualized run rate (ARR) for this year. Continue reading DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses