Author Archives: Ravi

Here’s a sneak peek at HBO’s Elizabeth Holmes documentary, The Inventor

The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos has inspired quite a bit of content, including a NYT Best Seller, an ABC podcast, a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and now an HBO documentary directed by “Going Clear” director, Alex Gibney. The documentary is called “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.” The tech world was shocked when the WSJ broke the news that Theranos, the biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, wasn’t what it appeared to be. Promising to revolutionize healthcare, Theranos wanted to accomplish the impossible […]

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Foursquare’s Hypertrending helps you spy on the coolest local happenings

Ten years after the launch of Foursquare at SXSW, the company is laying its technology bare with a futuristic version of its old app that doesn’t require a check-in at all. The godfather of location apps is returning to the launchpad with Hypertrending, but this time it hopes to learn what developers might do with real-time info about where people are and where they aren’t. Hypertrending uses Foursquare’s Pilgrim technology, which is baked into Foursquare’s apps and offered as a third-party enterprise tool, to show where phones […]

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Digital publisher Serial Box raises $4.5M

Serial Box, a startup bringing back the tradition of serialized fiction, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. The company actually disclosed the funding last week, when announcing a partnership to produce stories about Marvel characters, but it’s sharing more details about the round — namely, the fact that it was led by Boat Rocker Media, with participation from Forerunner Ventures, 2929 Entertainment co-founder Todd Wagner and Japanese business intelligence and media firm Uzabase. “We carefully chose trusted partners for this round of investment,” said co-founder and […]

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HealthJoy raises $12.5M Series B to help employees make the most of their healthcare benefits

Healthcare in the United States is so complicated that even employees with good benefits might have a hard time navigating their options. HealthJoy wants to help with a health benefits platform that uses AI to answer questions. The Chicago-based startup announced today that it has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding led by U.S. Venture Partners, with participation from Epic Ventures and returning investors Chicago Ventures, Sidekick Ventures and its co-founders. This brings HealthJoy’s total funding, including a $3 million Series A announced in August 2017, […]

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Okta to acquire workflow automation startup Azuqua for $52.5M

During its earnings report yesterday afternoon, Okta announced it intends to acquire Azuqua, a Bellevue, Washington workflow automation startup for $52.5 million. In a blog post announcing the news, Okta co-founder and COO Frederic Kerrest saw the combining of the two companies as a way to move smoothly between applications in a complex workflow without having to constantly present your credentials. “With Okta and Azuqua, IT teams will be able to use pre-built connectors and logic to create streamlined identity processes and increase operational speed. And, product […]

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Changes at YC, $1.5B more for ride hailing, and Airbnb buys HotelTonight

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We’re back to basics this week with Kate Clark at the helm, Alex Wilhelm in the sidecar, and a stack of venture capital news and happenings to get through. And to make everyone feel included, we kicked off the episode with a roll-call of new VC funds. Then, of course, we dug into the recent news out of Y Combinator . The famed accelerator is shopping around for a San […]

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PolyAI scores $12M Series A to put its ‘conversational AI agents’ in contact centres

PolyAI, a London startup founded by experts in the field of “conversational AI” — including CEO Nikola Mrkšić, who was previously the first engineer at Apple-acquired VocalIQ — has raised $12 million in Series A funding to deploy its tech in customer support contact centres. The round was led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from Sands Capital Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners, Passion Capital and Entrepreneur First (EF). PolyAI’s founders are graduates of EF, although they didn’t meet during the company building program but already knew each other […]

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YC’s latest moonshot bet is a startup building a $380K ‘flying motorcycle’

David Mayman has a vision for personal aviation that he’s spent the past dozen years and millions of his personal fortune chasing. He hasn’t accepted the convention that jetpacks were just a misguided fantasy for the future; his company, Jetpack Aviation, has been building them and he’s been zooming around in publicity-grabbing stunts in a plea to the public that there’s room to dream when it comes to human flight. And while an eight-person startup aiming to build out a fleet of $380,000 “flying motorcycles” might seem […]

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WellSaid aims to make natural-sounding synthetic speech a credible alternative to real humans

Many things are better said than read, but the best voice tech out there seems to be reserved for virtual assistants, not screen readers or automatically generated audiobooks. WellSaid wants to enable any creator to use quality synthetic speech instead of a human voice — perhaps even a synthetic version of themselves. There’s been a series of major advances in voice synthesis over the last couple of years as neural network technology improves on the old highly manual approach. But Google, Apple and Amazon seem unwilling to […]

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Camelot lets Twitch and YouTube audiences pay for what they want to see

As the streaming world continues to grow, startups are looking to take advantage of the opportunity and grab a slice of the pie, and indeed create new revenue models around it entirely.  Camelot, a YC-backed startup, is one of them. Camelot allows viewers to place bounties on their favorite streamers, putting a monetary value on the things they want to see on stream. This could include in-game challenges like “win with no armor,” as well as stream bounties like “Play Apex” or “add a heartbeat monitor to […]

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