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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Showing the power of startup women’s health brands, P&G buys This is L

The P&G acquisition of This is L., a startup retailer of period products and prophylactics, shows just how profitable investing in women’s healthcare brands and products can be.

A person with knowledge of the investment put the price tag at roughly $100 million — a healthy outcome for investors and company founder Talia Frankel. But just as important as the financial outcome is the deal’s implications for other mission-driven companies.

This is L launched from Y Combinator in August 2015 with a service distributing condoms in New York and San Francisco and steadily expanded into feminine hygiene products.

Frenkel, a former photojournalist who worked for the United Nations and Red Cross, started the company in 2013 — roughly three years after an assignment in Africa revealed the toll that HIV/AIDs was taking on women and girls on the continent.

“I didn’t realize the No. 1 killer of women was completely preventable and I think that really inspired me to action,” Frenkel told TechCrunch at the time of the company’s launch.

Now the company has distributed roughly 250 million products to customers around the world.

“Our strong growth has enabled us to stand in solidarity with women in more than 20 countries,” said Talia Frenkel, CEO of This Is L., in a statement following the acquisition .“Our support has ranged from partnering with organizations to send period products to Native communities in South Dakota, to supplying pad-making machines to a women-led business in Tamil Nadu. Pairing our purpose with P&G’s expertise, scale and resources provides an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a more equitable world.”

The company is available in more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. and is working with women entrepreneurs in countries from Uganda to India and beyond.

“This acquisition is a perfect complement to our Always and Tampax portfolio, with its commitment to a shared mission to advocate for girls’ confidence and serve more women,” said Jennifer Davis, President, P&G Global Feminine Care. “We feel this is a strong union and together we can be a greater force for good.”

For investors with knowledge of the company, the P&G acquisition is a harbinger of things to come. The combination of a non-technical, female founder operating in the consumer packaged goods market with a mission-driven company was an anomaly in the Silicon Valley of four years ago, but Frenkel’s success shows what kind of opportunities exist in the market.

“With this acquisition investors need to update their patterns,” said one investor with knowledge of the company.

Source: TechCrunch

PSA: Go back up your Flickr photos before they’re deleted

Do you have a Flickr account? Does it have over 1,000 photos?

Go back them up, or you might lose a bunch of them forever.

We’ve known for a few months now that Flickr was prepping to drop its storage limit for non-Pro accounts from 1TB to just 1,000 photos following its acquisition by SmugMug — and that anything over the 1,000 photo cap would be deleted, starting with the oldest.

If you kept telling yourself that you’d “back it all up later”, “later” is now. Flickr has said they’d start deleting things after February 5th… and, well, that’s today.

So how do you back it all up? You can go through and download them one by one, but that’s pretty painful. Fortunately, there’s a quicker way:

  1. Go to Flickr.com on a desktop browser
  2. Log in
  3. Tap your profile picture in the upper right, then hit “Settings”
  4. Scroll down, and look for “Your Flickr Data” in the bottom right.
  5. Double check that the email address listed is your current one. If not, change it.
  6. Hit the “Request my Flickr data” button.
  7. Wait.

Within a few hours, you should get an email with a big ol’ zip file with all of your pictures. Take those and put them somewhere else — an external hard drive, Google Photos, a spare SD card, all of the above, whatever. Just go back them up. Even photos that you don’t really care about now can end up meaning a lot in a few years.

SmugMug outlined its thinking on why the 1 terabyte limit wasn’t working (and how the new 1,000 photo limit was chosen) in a post back in November.

(Disclosure: Though Flickr is now owned by SmugMug, it was owned by Yahoo/Oath before that. Oath owns TechCrunch. I don’t think there’s a conflict there, I just like to make these things clear.)

Source: TechCrunch

Lawsuits no longer lingering, Hippo brings its service for buying discount drugs to market

The long and litigious saga of Hippo Technologies may finally be over now that the company is finally launching its service to sell discounted prescription drugs to members just three months after settling a lawsuit with its chief competitor, Blink Health.

Hippo and Blink were locked in a lawsuit for much of last year with Blink accusing the company of stealing pretty much every aspect of its business. For its part, Hippo’s chief executive and co-founder had sued Blink for wrongful termination under whistleblower protection rules after he allegedly uncovered corporate malfeasance at the discount drug membership service.

Both companies use a mobile app and online tool to help consumers find low prices on medications. In its March 2018 suit against Hippo, Blink wanted up to $250 million and had accused the company, which was founded by former Blink employees, of obtaining trade secrets, sabotaging existing contracts and unfairly competing with Blink’s business.

There’s no doubt that bad blood exists between Blink Health’s co-founders, the brothers Geoffrey and Matthew Chaiken and Hippo co-founder Eugene Kakaulin.

A former chief financial officer at Blink, Kakaulin filed a suit in 2016 claiming that Blink had fired him in retaliation for alerting the company founders to security violations.

With most of those lawsuits now settled, Hippo is bringing its service to market. The company said that it can save patients up to 97 percent on their prescription drugs at almost any pharmacy in the country.

“People deserve to know how much they will pay for meds and get access to the lowest prices available. This is why we started Hippo” said Kakaulin, the company’s co-founder, in a statement.

Kakaulin’s co-founder Charles A. Jacoby grew up in the healthcare business watching his father work as a general practitioner and grapple with prescribing patients with drugs that they can afford.

 “Markets are only fair and efficient when people are presented with pricing options. Whether people have good insurance, bad insurance or no insurance at all, they should check the Hippo price before going to the pharmacy,” Jacoby said in a statement.

Access to low cost medicine is a significant part of what’s broken about healthcare in the U.S. today. Blink and Hippo are among a slew of companies including GoodRX, Amazon (through its PillPack acquisition), and RxSave.

Hippo and its competitors operate on a simple premise. They cut out middlemen and guide consumers to use generic drugs taking a cut of the sales from the drug manufacturers. The process saves customers money and can also generate some revenue for pharmacies that agree to work with the companies.

Pharmacy benefits managers aggregate the purchasing power of buyers through insurance networks to cut the prices that customers have to pay for their medications. But many people argue that the discounts are not significant, and most of the difference in cost just goes to line the pockets of the benefits managers themselves.

What companies like GoodRX, Hippo and Blink do is bring those benefits to anyone who signs up. Hippo gives participating pharmacies a guaranteed rate for drugs in exchange for lower prices. Sometimes the company will make money on the sale of a drug and sometimes it will lose money, but it ideally is profitable by arbitraging costs across a population.

To sign up for Hippo, potential customers can text “Hello” to Hippo (44776) on their phone or visit the company’s website to receive an individual, digital Hippo card.

Users can then compare costs between medications at local pharmacies and see which location is offering the best price. Once in the pharmacy a user just shows the pharmacist their Hippo card and can start saving.

Source: TechCrunch

Google Chrome “never-slow mode” could significantly speed up web browsing

Tired of slow web pages in Google Chrome? A new “never-slow mode” could possibly be coming in a future release and might cut down on technical elements on some web pages in order to speed up web browsing,

The post Google Chrome “never-slow mode” could significantly speed up web browsing appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

Apply to demo onstage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2019

The search is on! We’re looking for exceptional early-stage robotics or AI companies to demo their technology onstage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI on April 18 at UC Berkeley. Our day-long event takes a deep dive into these world-changing technologies, and features interviews, workshops, demos and networking with leading robotics and AI technologists, founders, investors and researchers.

Whether you’re looking for investors, recruiting tech talent or searching for like-minded collaborators, this is your opportunity to showcase your company’s technology in front of an august and influential audience. We have a limited number of demo times available, so complete this application form today. If you’re a student founder, don’t be shy. We want you to apply, too!

This is our third year hosting this event, and we’re not kidding when we talk about featuring the top minds focused on robotics and AI. We’ll be announcing plenty more speakers, panels and demos in the coming weeks, but take a gander at some of the speakers who will grace our stage on April 18:

Melonee Wise — CEO of collaborative warehouse robotics company Fetch, a 2018 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and the recipient of numerous awards, including MIT Technology Review’s TR35.

Hany Farid — Dartmouth’s Albert Bradley 1915 Third Century Professor of Computer Science focuses on human perception, image analysis and digital forensics. Farid, a recipient of the National Academy of Inventors, Alfred P. Sloan and John Simon Guggenheim fellowships, will join the UC Berkeley faculty in July.

Anca Dragan — assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department and head of the InterACT lab — part of the Berkeley AI Research Lab and the Center for Human-Compatible AI.

Peter Barrett — CTO of investment firm Playground Global, which has funded robotics startups such as Agility, Canvas, Common Sense, Skydio and Righthand Robotics.

TC Sessions: Robotics + AI takes place at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on April 18, just about six short weeks away. Don’t miss your chance to pitch or demo your tech onstage in front of the best robotics and AI movers, makers and shakers. Apply to demo here. If you’re not prepared to demo but want to engage with and learn from this great community, be sure to buy a ticket while you can still get the early-bird price of $249. Students — take advantage of our deeply discounted price of $45. Join us in Berkeley!


Source: TechCrunch

Talia Goldberg just became the newest partner at Bessemer Venture Partners

Talia Goldberg didn’t know what venture capital was, growing up around professionals in the medical field whose favorite dinner-time game was to describe a symptom, then ask those around the table to guess the diagnosis.

Goldberg, who half-kiddingly describes herself today as a hypochondriac, says things changed during her college career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she entered into its liberal arts program but wound up spending increasing amounts of time at the business school. “I kind of recognized that business was happening at a faster pace than ever and started getting excited about the technology” driving that momentum.

Goldberg says she became particularly fascinated with how the internet was changing behaviors, including how people communicate, “though i was approaching at the time from an e-con and marketing perspective.” It was around then that she discovered First Round Capital, the Philadelphia-based seed-stage firm, which had decided during Goldberg’s senior year in 2012 to open up an office on Penn’s campus. It was the site of the firm’s first Dorm Room fund, a $500,000 vehicle for 11 students at Penn and Drexel to invest in student-led startups, and Goldberg, one of founding partners, was soon hooked. Indeed, though she worked at Foursquare as a business development associate while still at school, she knew that if she could, she’d prefer to keep investing.

Luckily, an introduction to Bessemer Venture Partners followed, along with a job offer for to join the firm as an analyst. She signed on, assuming the gig would last two years, after which she would either join a portfolio company or perhaps launch her own company. But she fell even further in love with VC and, more specifically, “spending my time thinking about new ideas and meeting with some of the most talented entrepreneurs in the world and learning about the fields in which they operate.”

Apparently, Bessemer thought she had a knack for turning those learnings into interesting deals. She was paired with Jeremy Levine, a partner who joined Bessemer more than 17 years ago. and he closely mentored Goldberg while also encouraging her to learn her own style and approach, she says. “I was very fortunate that Jeremy was in the New York office and that he offered me the opportunity to work alongside him as an apprentice for years.

“That kind of mentorship is super rare, and that’s really where I learned the craft of VC.” (While once common, many firms now eschew the apprenticeship model, preferring to hire either seasoned investors or else successful founders as partners and seldom hiring graduates directly from MBA or undergraduate programs.)

In fact, fast-forward six years and Goldberg, who joined Bessemer in 2012, has been a principal with the firm and a vice principal and today, she becomes its newest partner, a move that owes to numerous deals that she has either sourced or spearheaded, including in the home services software giant ServiceTitan, Korea’s top payment app Toss, and the password management startup Dashlane.

Goldberg has also supported the firm’s investments in Pinterest, Collective Medical Technologies, and Wikia.

Asked what she has learned from being immersed in the world of VC, the list is long, including that price does matter, and so does having a prepared mind. She also notes that more than ever, she appreciates the importance of patience. “You always have to stretch for great companies, but the culture at Bessemer is that when there’s something that seems expensive, we’re not under pressure to act in any way that’s unnatural.”

Goldberg has also been in the business long enough at this point to watch portfolio companies go out of business. “I’ve definitely been involved in situations like that, and they’re never easy.” It underscores the importance of picking the right partner, she adds. “When things are going up and to the right, it’s easier for everyone to be nice. It’s during hard times, when things become more challenging, that you see people’s true colors and realize that not everyone is there to support you.”

How does she handle it personally? “When we need to, we give the hard feedback. Having an intellectually honest relationship is crucial, because when you see that things aren’t working, making changes sooner than might feel comfortable is almost always the right decision.”

Source: TechCrunch

Sonos unveils in-ceiling, in-wall and outdoor speakers

Sonos is partnering with Sonance for a new lineup of passive speakers. You can now pre-order in-ceiling, in-wall and outdoor Sonos speakers.

These are weird products as you still need to connect those speakers with a Sonos Amp. In other words, you can’t control those speakers from the Sonos app without the Sonos Amp.

But if you’re building a house and you want to put Sonos speakers around the house, this lineup is a good way to make sure that everything will be optimized for the Sonos ecosystem.

The in-wall and in-ceiling speakers are designed to blend in with your walls. You can even paint on the grilles to make them disappear even more. They’ll start shipping on February 26 and you can pre-order them now — each pair of speakers cost $599.

Outdoor speakers also come as a pair. They aren’t available just yet, but they’ll cost $799 a pair whenever they ship. And they should resist to extreme temperatures, water and UV rays.

According to the company, you can plug three pairs of speakers to a single Sonos Amp. If you plan on building a giant house, you can still buy multiple Amps and stack them up.

Like other Sonos speakers, you can tune them using Trueplay. This process uses your iPhone or iPad microphone to analyze the size of your room and how your furniture affects your speaker. Sonos then adjusts speaker settings.

Source: TechCrunch

Alphabet's Verily is working on smart shoes to track weight and detect falls – CNET

The ultimate step tracker.
Source: CNET

Amazon invests in Hatch Baby, launches Baby Skill Activity API as it eyes up the next generation of parenting products

Amazon today is one of the biggest retailers of gear for babies and other parenting aides, and today the company is taking another two steps into that business and how it might develop in the future.

Amazon today announced that it would be launching a new Baby Skill Activity API, so that baby apps and baby care devices can get updated and checked through voice commands, by way of Alexa and Alexa-powered devices. Available initially in the US, initial skills will include the ability to track weight, sleep, diaper changes and feeding, with more to be added down the line.

Additionally, Amazon is taking an investment in Hatch Baby, the startup behind the Grow connected baby changing mat, the Rest children’s sleep-regulating light, and a service that offers Q&A with childcare professionals. Alongside Baby Connect and Wildflower Health, Hatch Baby is among the first three partners developing skills using the new Baby Skill Activity API.

Ann Crady Weiss, the co-founder and CEO of Hatch Baby, said in an interview that the funding is part of a strategic partnership between Amazon and her company that will include Hatch developing content for Amazon’s Alexa voice-based interactive service — the funding is coming from Amazon’s Alexa Fund — as well as working longer-term on hardware and other initiatives.

The financial terms of Amazon’s investment are not being disclosed — the Alexa Fund, Amazon’s $200 million-or-so corporate venture fund focused on investing in startups strategic to Amazon’s ambitions in voice services and other new areas of business, generally does not disclose stakes.

Weiss did confirm that the investment was in addition to other funding that the startup has raised to date — $18.7 million to date, with its last valuation around $36.5 million — from investors that include True Ventures (where she is a partner), Shea Ventures, Geoff Ralston and Chris Sacca (who invested in Hatch after it appeared on Shark Tank). And it has come as Hatch is working on its next round of funding.

“Amazon is clearly an incredible force when it comes to everything consumer internet… so when they came calling, we were very eager to have them participate as a strategic investor,” she said.

(Weiss herself is a partner at True, and a repeat entrepreneur, having sold her previous startup, a parenting blog called Maya’s Mom, to Johnson & Johnson-owned BabyCenter in 2007.)

For Amazon, the deal with Hatch will give it a stronger link to one of the bigger startups targeting new parents.

Hatch had already developed some content for Alexa — and now, its Alexa Skill includes the ability to track diaper changes, nursing sessions, bottle feeds, sleeps and a baby’s weight — but the investment will secure Hatch’s commitment to invest in and expand that functionality as part of a bigger push that Amazon is making into developing Skills specifically tailored to parents.

“The Alexa Fund was created to support companies embracing voice technology and exploring new and compelling uses for Alexa,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, in a statement. “We see parenting and health and wellness as two areas where voice can make customers’ lives simpler, and Hatch Baby has a clear vision of how Alexa and other Amazon services can help them better support parents. We’re excited to give them the access and resources they need to expand their skill for Alexa and explore further integrations across Amazon.”

What Amazon is hoping to build up with expanded parenting skills in Alexa is more engagement from parents.

In fact, its interest in building up parenting skills gives a glimpse into how the e-commerce giant links its voice-based activities with overall engagement and purchasing on its platform: the more that people find Amazon to be a useful platform for all things parenting — including advice and enhanced voice-based features for products people already own — the more likely they will be to use and trust Amazon for making more baby- and child-related purchases big and small. 

Today, Amazon already has a big business in baby and childcare goods. After streamlining its own storefront strategy by shutting down the less profitable Diapers.com, today Amazon sells a significant range of everyday products. That is led by its own Amazon Elements line — and when I say “led” I mean it literally: it’s the first brand Amazon shows you. Elements made its debut in 2014 with baby wipes and diapers and it now accounts for 15 percent of all baby wipes sales on the platform, outpacing Huggies at 11 percent, according to figures from market research firm 1010data.

Amazon also sells a wide range of other items that might be purchased less frequently but represent higher gross merchandise value, such as strollers and other travel gear, food-related appliances and other accessories, toys, apparel, connected scales and so on.

Alongside this — and because of that breadth — the company also runs one of the most popular baby registry services. Registries are a way for people to tag items in a wish list of what they would like to have, and for friends and family to buy all that for them. They become a very effective honeypot not just for people amassing long lists of things they would like to own without buying them, but then signalling to many others to buy on their behalf.

Getting promoted better in the baby registry was one reason Weiss said her company wanted to work more closely with Amazon. In turn, it’s providing more content to keep parents tied into using Amazon as their go-to platform for all things parenting.

“Amazon typically do a great job with shopping, but not with engagement. We are interested as a registry partner for us to get more visibility, and they are interested in us as partner to help engage moms and dads beyond the sale,” Weiss said.

But while Alexa skills may be the order of the day, this is not the only area where Amazon and Hatch might collaborate in the future.

Amazon has tapped other interesting hardware makers who first became connected to the company by way of the Alexa Fund. Perhaps most notably, it acquired smart doorbell maker Ring last year after initially investing in it.

“We believe very much will continue to create hardware,” Weiss said. “Our philosophy is to create better versions of the things people already use, and our roadmap is very consistent with that.” On the subject of how it might work with Amazon on that, all she would say is that “it is something we have engaged with Amazon on, and have been impressed about the quality of exchange with its experts.”

Source: TechCrunch

Report: Smart speaker adoption in U.S. reaches 66M units, with Amazon leading

Smart speakers had a good holiday. Amazon already said its Echo Dot outsold all other items on its site this holiday season, which hinted toward the sizable growth for the voice-powered speaker market. Today, research firm CIRP is reporting the U.S. installed base for speakers grew to 66 million units in December 2018, up from 53 million in the September 2018 quarter and just 37 million in December 2017.

However, holiday sales didn’t have much impact on the market shares for the various speaker brands, the firm found.

Amazon Echo devices still lead the U.S. market with a 70 percent share of the installed base, followed by Google Home at 24 percent, then Apple HomePod at 6 percent, the report said.

“Holiday shoppers helped the smart speaker market take off again,” said Josh Lowitz, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP, in a statement. “Relative market shares have remained fairly stable, with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod accounting for consistent shares over the past few quarters. Amazon and Google both have broad model lineups, ranging from basic to high-end, with even more variants from Amazon. Apple, of course, has only its premium-priced HomePod, and likely won’t gain significant share until it offers an entry-level product closer to Echo Dot and Home mini,” Lowitz added.

Also of interest is that some portion of those buying a smart speaker for their home already own one. According to CIRP, 35 percent of smart speaker owners now have multiple devices, as of December 2018. That’s up from 18 percent in December 2017.

This figure is key to the device markers’ larger strategies, because it means that once a company is able to get that first sale, the consumer may return to buy more devices from the same vendor.

Amazon had gained an early advantage here, initially convincing more users to buy another speaker compared with Google Home users. A year ago, almost double the number of Echo users had multiple devices, versus Google Home owners. But Google is catching up, and now about a third of Echo and Google Home users have multiple devices.

It’s worth noting that CIRP data – like much that’s produced by market research firms – isn’t always going to match up exactly with other firms’ estimates and forecasts.

For example, Strategy Analytics this fall said that Amazon’s Echo market share in the U.S. was 63 percent, to Google’s 17 percent and Apple HomePod’s 4 percent. Meanwhile, eMarketer’s 2019 U.S. forecast predicts Amazon Echo will end up with around a 63.3 percent market share this year, versus Google Home’s 31 percent, with all others like HomePod and Sonos, reaching 12 percent.

That said, the broad strokes across all reports point to the same general findings – that Amazon is leading the U.S. market by a wide margin, and while that margin may be shrinking, it’s not going away soon.

Source: TechCrunch