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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Corporate travel startup TripActions raises $154M at $1B valuation

TripActions, one of the most well-capitalized travel startups in Silicon Valley, has raised yet another round of capital valuing the corporate travel manager at more than $1 billion.

Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitz will join TripActions’ board of directors as part of the startup’s $154 million in Series C funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners, Zeev Ventures and SGVC also participated in the round.

Co-founders Ariel Cohen and Ilan Twig said TripActions’ $236 million raised to date, as well as its new “unicorn” valuation, is justified by its 700 percent annual growth rate and more than 1,000 customers.

“We mean it when we say our solution is so good we want to make sure we are bringing it to as many companies, as many employees as possible,” TripActions’ CEO Cohen told TechCrunch. “The main reason to raise more money is just to continue to go for that as fast as we can.”

Cohen and Twig previously co-founded StreamOnce, business collaboration software that was acquired by Jive Software for an estimated $10 million in 2013. They founded TripActions in 2015.

The Palo Alto-based company provides a corporate travel platform that integrates with company HR and expense systems. Using TripActions, business travelers can arrange flights, hotels and transportation, with 24/7 global support from the startup’s staff. Dropbox, Lyft, Twilio, Allbirds and Tuft & Needle are among its customers.

The company has expanded its platform by adding TripActions Luxe, a VIP program for executive travelers; TripActions’ in-house Meetings & Event solution for group travel; and TripActions’ Guest Invite Portal, designed for HR and recruiting teams. It also recently opened its European headquarters, an engineering and data science hub in Amsterdam, and plans to double down on R&D, AI and machine learning with the fresh investment.

Travel companies have been raking in capital this year in what Cohen sees as a big moment for tech startups in the space. The global travel and tourism industry is, after all, one of the most valuable industries, worth some $7 trillion. The online travel market, in particular, is expected to grow to $817 billion by 2020.

“Something is really happening in the industry; something bigger than us,” Cohen said. “Different startups are identifying the opportunity here and the fact that companies want to make sure their employees are happy while they are on the go, that’s why you see investments in companies like Brex and like TripActions.”

“It’s about time that employees really feel great while they are booking their trip, while they are on the go and while they are doing their expenses at the end.”


Source: TechCrunch

2019 Maserati Levante GTS review: Heart of gold – Roadshow

Maserati’s stylish Levante SUV gets some much-needed V8 power.
Source: CNET

Tesla picks telco executive Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as chairman

Elon Musk’s replacement as the chair of Tesla has been named and it is Robyn Denholm, an Australian executive who has been a director with the electric vehicle firm since 2014.

Denholm is currently CFO of Australia-based telco Telstra and she’ll step into the breach once a six-month notice period is served, Tesla said in an announcement released late Wednesday evening U.S. time.

There’s been plenty of speculation as to who will replace Musk — the figurehead of Tesla’s business — after he announced in September that he would step down as the firm’s chairman. Musk’s resignation was part of a settlement with the SEC, which found Tesla guilty of failing to require disclosure controls and procedures relating to a tweet from Musk about taking the company private. Tesla later confirmed it would remain a public entity despite Musk’s tweets.

The SEC deal included a $20 million fine for Musk who retained his position as CEO and the confidence of the board.

Denholm was extensive experience in the automotive industry beyond her time with Tesla. Her career includes a seven-year stint with Toyota Australia, and she has also worked for tech giants Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney, where she studied economics, and holds a Master’s degree in Commerce from the University of New South Wales.

Robyn Denholm has been a Tesla director since 2014

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” Denholm said in a statement.

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company. I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk added.


Source: TechCrunch

Netflix is making Altered Carbon and Pacific Rim animes – CNET

The streamer announced a total of 17 new Originals at its See What’s Next Asia event in Singapore.
Source: CNET

Watch this creepy AI anchor talk like a real person – CNET

China’s state media, Xinhua, debuted its freaky new presenter this week.
Source: CNET

Andy Serkis' Mowgli hits Netflix on Dec. 7 – CNET

The darker interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book will growl its way to your screen next month.
Source: CNET

Klipsch Reference R-51M review: Exciting rock and roll sound dressed up retro – CNET

The Klipsch Reference R-51M combines throwback looks and thoroughly modern sound in an affordable package.
Source: CNET

Marvel's official Avengers 4 countdown clock is going forever – CNET

Only a bazillian seconds to go.
Source: CNET

Facebook starts shipping Portal, clarifies privacy/ad policy

Planning to get in early on the Portal phenomenon? Facebook announced today that it’s starting to ship the video chat device. The company’s first true piece of devoted hardware comes in two configurations: the Echo Show-like Portal and the larger Portal+ . Which run $199 and $349, respectively. There’s also a two-fer $298 bundle on the smaller unit.

The device raised some privacy red flags since it was announced early last month. The company attempted to nip some of the those issues in the bud ahead of launch — after all, 2018 hasn’t been a great year for Facebook privacy. The site also hasn’t done itself any favors by offering some murky comments around data tracking and ad targeting in subsequent weeks.

With all that in mind, Facebook is also marking the launch with a blog post further spelling out Portal’s privacy policy. Top level, the company promises not to view or listen to video calls. Calls are also encrypted and all of the AI tech is performed locally on-device — IE not sent to its servers.

In the post, Facebook also promises to treat conversations on Portal the way it does all Messenger experience. That means while it won’t view the calls, it does indeed track data usage, which it may later use to serve up cross platform ads.

“When you make a Portal video call, we process the same device usage information as other Messenger-enabled devices,” Facebook writes. “This can include volume level, number of bytes received, and frame resolution — it can also include the frequency and length of your calls. Some of this information may be used for advertising purposes. For example, we may use the fact that you make lots of video calls to inform some of the ads you see. This information does not include the contents of your Portal video calls.”

In other words, it’s not collecting personally identifying data, but it tracking information. And honestly, if you have a Facebook account, you’ve already signed up for that. The question is whether you’re comfortable introducing an extra level and bringing it into your living room or kitchen.


Source: TechCrunch

Despite a strong Q3 earnings report, Square’s Q4 forecast disappoints investors

Despite a strong third-quarter earnings report, Square’s forecast for the final quarter of this year gave investors pause, sending its share price down 6 percent in after hours trading before it gradually climbed up again.

Square’s adjusted revenue grew 68 percent year-over-year to $431 million, beating expectations from analysts polled by Refinitiv (formerly the financial and risk arm of Thomson Reuters), who had forecast $413.9 million. It also reported 13 cents in adjusted earnings per share, better than the 11 cents analysts expected.

Total third-quarter revenue was $882.1 million, a 51 percent increase from the same period last year, and Square also marked its first quarterly profit of $20 million, compared to a loss of $16 million last year. In an earnings call, CFO Sarah Friar said this was due largely to Square’s investment in Eventbrite, which held its IPO in October.

Despite beating analysts’ expectations for its third quarter and also raising its adjusted core earnings forecast for 2018 to between $250 million and $255 million, up from $240 million to $250 million, Square’s forecast for the fourth quarter missed expectations. The company expects adjusted earnings of 12 cents to 13 cents a share, lower than the 15 cents forecast by analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Investors were also worried about Square’s transaction-based revenue, which grew 29% to $655 million during the third quarter, compared to 31 percent last year, because even slightly slower growth may signal that competitors like Clover are gaining more traction. Square reported, however, that the important segment of gross payment volume (GPV) it processes from “large sellers,” or merchants who do more than $125,000 a year in GPV, grew to 52 percent, up from 48 percent a year ago.

Friars said in Square’s earnings call that this is because Square has made it easier for large retailers to integrate Square’s platform into their operations, as well as the recent launches of Square Terminal, its credit card machine, and Square Installments, which enables merchants to allow customers to make monthly payments.

Friar, who oversaw Square’s IPO in November 2015 and has served as its CFO since 2012, announced last month that she will leave the company to become the CEO of Nextdoor. CEO and founder Jack Dorsey said that the search for a new CFO is his “number one focus at the company” and will be led by independent director David Viniar and board member Roelof Botha.


Source: TechCrunch

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