Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

Over 131 Startups Now Valued at $1 Billion, Says CB Insights

Two years ago, venture investor Aileen Lee coined the term “unicorn” for what was then a fairly rare commodity: a startup company that investors valued at $1 billion. In the current market, at least 131 startups are valued at a total of $485 billion, says research firm CB Insights, making the designation “unicorn” — a mythical beast — less accurate. Apparently, unicorns not only exist, but only half of the current crop hail from their birthplace in Silicon Valley. And they now focus on a wide variety of industries. Continue reading Over 131 Startups Now Valued at $1 Billion, Says CB Insights

Interest in Acquiring Flipboard Heats Up with Tech Companies

Reports recently surfaced that Twitter has been in talks this year to purchase Flipboard, in a deal that would value the company at more than $1 billion. The acquisition would bring an experienced product team to Twitter as well as an heir apparent to CEO Dick Costolo in Flipboard co-founder Mike McCue. However, updates to the news have suggested that talks between the two companies have stalled, and other companies, including Google and Yahoo have since had discussions about possibly acquiring the newsreader app. Continue reading Interest in Acquiring Flipboard Heats Up with Tech Companies

BetterWorks Designed to Track and Improve Work Efficiency

Palo Alto-based BetterWorks, a company with funding and public support from venture capitalist John Doerr, has developed software that not only measures worker performance but also helps employees set individual goals to become more efficient in the workplace. The company’s software makes use of tactics and practices found in social media, fitness trackers and video games to encourage employees to set and accomplish goals in a process that is transparent to bosses and co-workers. Continue reading BetterWorks Designed to Track and Improve Work Efficiency

Advertising May Result From $10 Billion Snapchat Investment

Snapchat is expecting a $10 billion investment from VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Even though the startup does not have a clear business model, its valuation has increased dramatically from last year’s $2 billion. The investment could help Snapchat advance into the advertising world, a move that is expected this year. Snapchat, which is the third-most used app among millennials, may become a viable platform for generating revenue from the age group through advertising. Continue reading Advertising May Result From $10 Billion Snapchat Investment

Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

It’s that time of year again. Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her annual report on Internet trends at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on Wednesday. Meeker noted that growth in Internet usage was slowing, but overall mobile data consumption (pushed by video) is up 81 percent, due to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. While mobile accounted for 14 percent of Web usage last year, it is up to 25 percent today. Continue reading Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

Los Angeles Mayor Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced the city’s Entrepreneur In Residence Program, an initiative sponsored by Ernst & Young. Garcetti has appointed two notable entrepreneurs — Krisztina “Z” Holly and Amir Tehrani — to help create jobs and develop ideas for boosting L.A.’s economy. In addition to developing new business policies, Holly and Tehrani will coordinate with non-profits, educational institutions and businesses to foster entrepreneurship. Continue reading Los Angeles Mayor Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program

Facebook to Acquire Mobile Messaging Service for $19 Billion

Facebook has agreed to purchase mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $19 billion, in what marks the largest-ever acquisition of a company backed by venture capital. The deal, which comes in the wake of Facebook’s failed attempt to acquire messaging service Snapchat, includes $3 billion in restricted stock, $4 billion in cash, and $12 billion in Facebook shares. The deal easily outranks other notable startup acquisitions, including Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram, and Microsoft’s $8.5 billion Skype deal. Continue reading Facebook to Acquire Mobile Messaging Service for $19 Billion

Disney Partners with Techstars to Launch Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company has announced a partnership with Techstars to launch an accelerator program that will help 10 startups get off the ground, while potentially providing the media giant insight into new innovation and creativity. Disney Accelerator plans to invest $120,000 in each startup, and provide them with the opportunity to work with Disney for three months starting in June (the application deadline is April 16). At the end of the program, Disney and Techstars may take a stake in one or more of the startups. Continue reading Disney Partners with Techstars to Launch Accelerator Program

Whisper and Secret: New Messaging Apps Offer Users Anonymity

A new trend in social apps has arrived, allowing users to post anonymously, giving them a feeling of freedom without consequences for their actions on the Web. New messaging apps Whisper and Secret, for example, offer a way to share anonymous posts about anything. Popular apps such as Snapchat, Telegram and Frankly revolve around messages that self-destruct after they are read. These anonymous approaches may pose a significant threat to other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Continue reading Whisper and Secret: New Messaging Apps Offer Users Anonymity

NBCUniversal Opens Tech Center with Focus on Collaboration

NBCUniversal announced the launch of its 63,000-square-foot NBCUniversal Technology Center in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The $17 million facility will serve as the new center for the company’s core technology team and home for its new Media Labs operation, which plans to work with academic research groups, startups and venture capital firms. The facility’s Technology Show Lab will provide the opportunity for employees and outside partners to collaborate on new products and technology innovation. Continue reading NBCUniversal Opens Tech Center with Focus on Collaboration

Matter Labs: New Software Brings 3D Printing to E-Commerce

While large brands often generate business by enabling consumers to customize products online, smaller companies do not always have the resources to do the same, something that will likely change with 3D printing technology and services. Massachusetts-based startup Matter Labs has developed a plug-and-play API called Matter Remix and software called Matter.io to help e-commerce merchants leverage 3D printing and add product customization features to online stores. Continue reading Matter Labs: New Software Brings 3D Printing to E-Commerce

Pinterest CEO Unveils Revenue Growth Plan for the New Year

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has quickly transformed from a quirky website into a social media base used by one-fifth of American adults. To continue nurturing this growth, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has announced a new business model that will finally start to generate revenue. Pinterest plans to charge advertisers for promoting their products on the site. An analyst at Wedbush Securities believes this has the potential to earn Pinterest more than $500 million in 2016.  Continue reading Pinterest CEO Unveils Revenue Growth Plan for the New Year

VR News: Oculus Rift Secures $75 Million in Venture Funding

Virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, which began as a Kickstarter project seeking $250,000 (and eventually generated $2.4 million), is expected to transition from prototype to available product, thanks to $75 million in Series B venture funding led by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. Oculus VR also announced that Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of the individuals behind Mosaic and Netscape, will join the company’s board of directors. Continue reading VR News: Oculus Rift Secures $75 Million in Venture Funding

Smule Nation: Aspiring Stars Turn to Social Music-Making Apps

San Francisco-based startup Smule has 125 million members worldwide who use its 18 social music-making apps. Users are able to record and share covers and originals, and even sing duets with people halfway across the globe. The apps have spawned online communities featuring music that ranges in quality from YouTube amateurs to artists on the radio. Earlier this month, the company unveiled Smule Nation, a revamped website that makes select performances accessible online by anyone. Continue reading Smule Nation: Aspiring Stars Turn to Social Music-Making Apps

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