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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Don’t miss out on tickets to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

On December 11, just slightly more than a month away, up to 15 exceptional startups will arrive in Lagos, Nigeria to compete in Startup Battlefield Africa 2018. Don’t miss your opportunity to watch founders of Africa’s best early-stage tech startups as they launch on a global stage to vie for a cash infusion, investor attention and serious bragging rights.

We have a limited number of spectator tickets, and they’re selling fast, so be sure to grab yours while you still can. Buy your ticket here today for just $10 + VAT.

The price of admission provides a full day packed with action. We’re interspersing three rounds of Startup Battlefield competition with an amazing roster of speakers and panel discussions addressing the continent’s rapidly expanding startup scene.

You’ll hear from speakers like Marième Diop, an investor at Orange Digital Ventures Africa. Diop focuses on early-stage African startups (like a $16 million round for South African fintech startup, Yoco, and an $8.6 million round to business enterprise software startup, Africa’s Talking), and she’ll discuss venture capital in Africa.

We also have on tap Shikoh Gitau, the head of product at Safaricom’s Alpha incubator. Gitau led a Pan-African and global search for candidates to form the incubator team, and she’ll share her perspective on the talent and innovation within Africa’s expanding startup landscape. She’ll also talk about repatriating entrepreneurs.

If you haven’t ever experienced a Startup Battlefield, you’re in for a huge adrenaline rush. The competing founders have been honing their pitch skills with coaching help from seasoned TechCrunch editors, and they’ll be fired up and ready to make their case. Here’s how the Battlefield works.

Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with up to five startups in each round. Startup teams get six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of judges consisting of top tech founders and VCs. Those judges then have six minutes to question each team thoroughly.

No more than five teams move to the finals for another round of pitches and more challenging questions. Only one startup will claim the auspicious title of Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 champion.

The winning founders receive US$25,000 in no-equity cash, plus a trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield in San Francisco at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 takes place December 11 in Lagos, Nigeria, and spectator tickets are limited and going fast. Buy your tickets now and join us for an exciting day focused on the very best that Africa’s startup ecosystem has to offer.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple's Heart Study Is the Biggest Ever, But With a Catch

The study enrolled a whopping 400,000 people, but it still won’t answer researchers’ biggest question: whether mass screening does more good than harm.
Source: Wired

Amazon to open second 4-star store, bringing it to Denver area – CNET

The store, which opens Thursday, includes stuff that’s 4 stars and above, are top sellers, or are new and trending on Amazon’s website.
Source: CNET

Jaybird Tarah Pro sports headphones deliver a whopping 14 hours of battery life – CNET

The third Jaybird Bluetooth wireless sports headphone to be released in as many months, the Tarah Pro adds better battery life and some other nice new extras for $160.
Source: CNET

All the planets found by NASA's Kepler space telescope – CNET

Spoiler: There was a lot of them.
Source: CNET

Robots will deliver your mail in Norway – CNET

They move at terrifying speeds of 6 kilometres per hour.
Source: CNET

U.S. declines in internet freedom rankings, thanks to net neutrality repeal and fake news

If you need a safe haven on the internet, where the pipes are open and the freedoms are plentiful — you might want to move to Estonia or Iceland.

The latest “internet freedoms” rankings are out, courtesy of Freedom House’s annual report into the state of internet freedoms and personal liberties, based on rankings of 65 countries that represent the vast majority of the world’s internet users. Although the U.S. remains firmly in the top ten, it dropped a point on the year earlier after a recent rash of changes to internet regulation and a lack of in the realm of surveillance.

Last year, the U.S. was 21 in the global internet freedom ranking — the lower number, the better a country ranks. That was behind Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Germany and Australia. This year the U.S. is at 22 — thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and the renewal of U.S. spy powers.

The report also cited “disinformation and hyperpartisan content” — or fake news — as a “pressing concern.”

It was only in June, after a protracted battle, that the Federal Communications Commission finally pulled the plug on the Obama-era rules that guaranteed the free and fair flow of internet data. Net neutrality — which promises to treat every user’s traffic as equal and doesn’t prioritize certain internet users or services over others — was dead. That was despite months of delays and a scandal that embroiled the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai for allegedly lying to lawmakers over a falsified denial-of-service attack that he used to try to stifle criticism of his repeal plans. What did happen was an onslaught of citizens demanding that the net neutrality rules. But that was eclipsed by an astroturfing campaign that even used dead people to try to swing the decision.

What also dropped the U.S. a point was the near-clean reauthorization of the government’s surveillance laws, which passed with little debate despite a call for change. It was the first time to reel in the government’s spying powers since the Edward Snowden revelations a half-decade ago — but lawmakers buckled to pressure from the intelligence community, despite recognizing a long history of abuse and overreach by U.S. spy agencies.

Freedom House called the law’s renewal “a blow to civil rights and privacy advocates,” who advocated for change since long before Edward Snowden had a face.

A single digit drop in ranking may not seem like much, compared to the last-place contenders — Iran and China, predictably ranking in worst, but many see the U.S. as a beacon of free speech and expression — a model that others aspire to replicate.

As the report found, that goes both ways. The U.S. has its part to blame for the decline in at least 17 countries where “fake news” has been co-opted by oppressive regimes to justify crackdowns on dissent and free speech. The rise of “fake news,” a term largely attributed to Donald Trump — then a candidate for president — which spread like wildfire — and across borders — as a way to reject reported information or factual current events that were derogatory to a person’s views. In other words, it was a verbal hand grenade, lobbed whenever a person heard something they didn’t like.

Now, other regimes are cracking down on internet freedoms under the guise of fighting fake news. Philippines and Kazakhstan were both named by Freedom House as using “fake news” to restrict the internet by removing content and stifling the spread of views in the name of fighting misinformation.

While many might not care much for a country you know little about, it’s a reminder that the U.S. is still seen in high regard and other nations will follow in its footsteps.

Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, said that the U.S. government in particular should take “a more proactive role” in stepping up their efforts to maintain a free and open internet to prevent playing into the hands of of “less democratic governments looking to increase their control of the internet.”


Source: TechCrunch

Google workers plan worldwide walkout over handling of sexual harassment cases – CNET

Employees don’t like how the search giant has dealt with claims of misconduct.
Source: CNET

Scientists confirm there's a 'supermassive black hole' at the centre of our galaxy – CNET

Scientists are calling it “mind-boggling”.
Source: CNET

China’s Youon expands into Europe as other bike startups backpedal worldwide

A little known Chinese bike company is riding into Europe as its peer Ofo has applied the brakes to its global expansion strategy in recent months.

Youon, which gets by manufacturing public bikes for city governments across China, has formed a joint venture with UK-based bike-sharing startup Cycle.land, it says in a statement. The deal allows the Chinese firm to sit back in its headquarters in eastern China while its British partner deploys its bikes and takes care of on-the-ground operation.

Youon’s fleet of 1,000 public bikes will start appearing in London next March, making the UK the fourth country in its international expansion after Russia, India, and Malaysia.

Youon’s name may not ring a bell, but its subsidiary Hellobike is increasingly turning heads as its dockless bikes win over users in China’s smaller cities where its larger rivals Ofo and Mobike lack a presence. This is in part thanks to Hellobike’s partnership with its investor Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial affiliate, which lets users skip Hellobike’s standalone app and access the service on Ant’s Alipay wallet, which has over 500 million MAUs.

While Hellobike’s mobile penetration recorded a 20 percent month-over-month increase (link in Chinese) in September, Mobike and Ofo barely saw any growth in the same period, according to data service provider Jiguang.

Away from home, Youon’s partnership approach is also noticeably different from that of Mobike and Ofo, which have chosen to run their own overseas operation. Teaming up with local players gives Youon insight into customers abroad, suggests market research firm Analysys.

“User behavior in Europe and North America is very different and it will be reckless for a [Chinese] firm to abruptly set up its own operations overseas,” Sun Naiyue, an analyst at Analysys, tells TechCrunch.

China’s Youon partnered with peer-to-peer bike-sharing startup Cycle.land to expand to the UK [Image via Youon]

Having a local ally also helps Youon avoid government protectionism and regulatory meddling in the foreign market, Sun adds. London has already greenlighted the company to place bikes in the city and the company will “follow local demand and rules to deploy bikes accordingly,” Cycle.land says of its partner.

Contrasting the prospects of Youon’s latest push is the bleak outlook of its peer. The past few months have seen Ofo retreat from its overseas markets to prioritize profitability. To date, Ofo has shut down in Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, and scaled back operation in a host of other countries.


Source: TechCrunch

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