Category Archives: Microsoft

Pro.com raises $33M for its home improvement platform

Pro.com is basically a general contractor for the age of Uber and Prime Now. While the company started out as a marketplace for hiring home improvement professionals, it has now morphed into a general contractor and serves Denver, Phoenix San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Today, Pro.com announced that it has raised a $33 million Series B round led by WestRiver Group, Goldman Sach and Redfin. Previous investors DFJ, Madrona Venture Group, Maveron and Two Sigma Ventures also participated. WestRiver founder Erik Anderson, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman […]

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Alphabet spins off moonshot project Malta with backing from Gates’s BEV fund

Malta, the renewable energy storage project born in Alphabet’s moonshot factory X, is now on its own and flush with $26 million from a Series A funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures . Concord New Energy Group and Alfa Laval also invested in the round. Project Malta launched last year in Alphabet’s X (formerly Google X) with an aim to build energy storage facilities that can support full-scale power grids. The independent company spun out of Alphabet is now called Malta Inc. Malta Inc. has developed a system designed […]

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Ada nets $19 million Series A to grow its customer service chatbot

Ada is on a mission to build chatbots powered by artificial intelligence. The company today is announcing a $19 million Series A that will go far in helping it reach that goal. The company sees the capital fueling international expansion and launching products into new verticals as well as doubling down on employees. Chatbots were a buzzword several years back. After the initial buildup and bust, the remaining players in the space are building upon the expectations set early on. Users of chatbots expect services to take […]

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Microsoft to shut down HockeyApp

Microsoft announced plans to shut down HockeyApp and replace it with Visual Studio App Center. The company acquired the startup behind HockeyApp back in 2014. And if you’re still using HockeyApp, the service will officially shut down on November 16, 2019. HockeyApp was a service that let you distribute beta versions of your app, get crash reports and analytics. There are other similar SDKs, such as Google’s Crashlytics, TestFairy, Appaloosa, DeployGate and native beta distribution channels (Apple’s TestFlight and Google Play Store’s beta feature). Microsoft hasn’t really […]

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Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi Contributor Shahin Farshchi is a partner at Lux Capital. More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy. Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize […]

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KZen raises $4 million to bring sanity to crypto wallets

KZen, a company run by former TC editor Ouriel Ohayon, has raised $4 million in seed to build a “better wallet,” obviously the elusive Holy Grail in the crypto world. Benson Oak Ventures, Samsung Next, Elron Ventures invested. Ohayon, who has worked at Internet Lab and founded TechCrunch France and Appsfire, wanted to create an easy-to-use crypto wallet that wouldn’t confound users. The company name is a play on the Japanese word kaizen or improvement and it also points to the idea of the zero-knowledge proof. Omer […]

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Microsoft acquires Lobe, a drag-and-drop AI tool

Microsoft today announced that is has acquired Lobe, a startup that lets you build machine learning models with the help of a simple drag-and-drop interface. Microsoft plans to use Lobe, which only launched into beta earlier this year, to build upon its own efforts to make building AI models easier, though, for the time being, Lobe will operate as before. “As part of Microsoft, Lobe will be able to leverage world-class AI research, global infrastructure, and decades of experience building developer tools,” the team writes. “We plan […]

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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 […]

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For Labor Day, work harder

Labor Day is a holiday that just doesn’t fit Silicon Valley. It’s 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 […]

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Tall Poppy aims to make online harassment protection an employee benefit

For the nearly 20 percent of Americans who experience severe online harassment, there’s a new company launching in the latest batch of Y Combinator called Tall Poppy that’s giving them the tools to fight back. Co-founded by Leigh Honeywell and Logan Dean, Tall Poppy grew out of the work that Honeywell, a security specialist, had been doing to hunt down trolls in online communities since at least 2008. That was the year that Honeywell first went after a particularly noxious specimen who spent his time sending death […]

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