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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Gadget Lab Podcast: How Sonos Will Compete With, But Also Work With, Amazon and Google

An interview with Sonos CEO Patrick Spence, taped at WIRED’s 25th anniversary festival.
Source: Wired

Hack Brief: Someone Posted Private Facebook Messages From 81,000 Accounts

The data appears to have been stolen with malicious browser extensions, and not by exploiting an issue with Facebook’s platform.
Source: Wired

Sequoia leads $10M round for home improvement negotiator Setter

You probably don’t know how much it should cost to get your home’s windows washed, yard landscaped or countertops replaced. But Setter does. The startup pairs you with a home improvement concierge familiar with all the vendors, prices and common screwups that plague these jobs. Setter finds the best contractors across handiwork, plumbing, electrical, carpentry and more. It researches options, negotiates a bulk rate and, with its added markup, you pay a competitive price with none of the hassle.

One of the most reliable startup investing strategies is looking at where people spend a ton of money but hate the experience. That makes home improvement a prime target for disruption, and attracted a $10 million Series A round for Setter co-led by Sequoia Capital and NFX. “The main issue is that contractors and homeowners speak different languages,” Setter co-founder and CEO Guillaume Laliberté tells me, “which results in unclear scopes of work, frustrated homeowners who don’t know enough to set up the contractors for success, and frustrated contractors who have to come back multiple times.”

Setter is now available in Toronto and San Francisco, with seven-plus jobs booked per customer per year costing an average of over $500 each, with 70 percent repeat customers. With the fresh cash, it can grow into a household name in those cities, expand to new markets and hire up to build new products for clients and contractors.

I asked Laliberté why he cared to start Setter, and he told me “because human lives are made better when you can make essential human activities invisible.” Growing up, his mom wouldn’t let him buy video games or watch TV so he taught himself to code his own games and build his own toys. “I’d saved money to fix consoles and resell them, make beautiful foam swords for real live-action games, buy and resell headphones — anything that people around me wanted really!” he recalls, teaching him the value of taking the work out of other people’s lives.

Meanwhile, his co-founder David Steckel was building high-end homes for the wealthy when he discovered they often had ‘home managers’ that everyone would want but couldn’t afford. What if a startup let multiple homeowners share a manager? Laliberté says Steckel describes it as “I kid you not, the clouds parted, rays of sunlight began to shine through and angels started to sing.” Four days after getting the pitch from Steckel, Laliberté was moving to Toronto to co-found Setter.

Users fire up the app, browse a list of common services, get connected to a concierge over chat and tell them about their home maintenance needs while sending photos if necessary. The concierge then scours the best vendors and communicates the job in detail so things get done right the first time, on time. They come back in a few minutes with either a full price quote, or a diagnostic quote that gets refined after an in-home visit. Customers can schedule visits through the app, and stay in touch with their concierge to make sure everything is completed to their specifications.

The follow-through is what sets Setter apart from directory-style services like Yelp or Thumbtack . “Other companies either take your request and assign it to the next available contractor or simply share a list of available contractors and you need to complete everything yourself,” a Setter spokesperson tells me. They might start the job quicker, but you don’t always get exactly what you want. Everyone in the space will have to compete to source the best pros.

Though potentially less scalable than Thumbtack’s leaner approach, Setter is hoping for better retention as customers shift off of the Yellow Pages and random web searches. Thumbtack rocketed to a $1.2 billion valuation and had raised $273 million by 2015, some from Sequoia (presenting a curious potential conflict of interest). That same ascent may have lined up the investors behind Setter’s $2 million seed round from Sequoia, Hustle Fund and Avichal Garg last year. Today’s $10 million Series A also included Hustle Fund and Maple VC. 

The toughest challenge for Setter will be changing the status quo for how people shop for home improvement away from ruthless bargain hunting. It will have to educate users about the pitfalls and potential long-term costs of getting slapdash service. If Laliberté wants to fulfill his childhood mission, he’ll have to figure out how to make homeowners value satisfaction over the lowest sticker price.


Source: TechCrunch

Get a refurbished Apple 12-inch MacBook for $400 less than price of a new one

Amazon’s deal on Apple’s 12-inch MacBook brings the price down to just $899, making it more competitive against the new Air. The $400 discount is sizable, but Amazon’s deal is only for an Apple-certified refurbished mode.

The post Get a refurbished Apple 12-inch MacBook for $400 less than price of a new one appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Elon Musk says Tesla won’t make e-scooters, but might consider electric bikes

Tesla won’t be joining the scooter wars. But electric bikes? Yeah, maybe.

During a lengthy podcast with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Tesla CEO Elon Musk talked about everything from AI and his fights on Twitter with journalists to Saudi Arabia and Mars. Even scooters. Of course, scooters.

But don’t get your hopes up for a Tesla scooter. According to Musk, they lack dignity. Swisher’s persistence on the topic wasn’t enough to

Here’s the exchange. You can listen to the entire 80-minute session here.

Kara: Make a scooter. Make a scooter and I’ll go for it. They actually are electric, what am I talking about?

Elon: I don’t know, there was some people in the studio who wanted to make a scooter, but I was like, “Uh, no.”

Kara: I love the scooter, no, get on the scooter.

Elon: It lacks dignity.

Kara: No, it doesn’t lack dignity.

Elon: Yes, they do.

Kara: They don’t lack dignity, what are you talking about?

Elon: Have you tried driving one of those things? They —

Kara: Yes, I do it all the time, I look fantastic.

Elon: They do not, you are laboring under an illusion.

Kara: All right, well, everybody at Lime, don’t worry, Elon Musk is not coming for you.

Elon: Electric bike. I think we might do an electric bike, yeah.


Source: TechCrunch

TikTok surpassed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat & YouTube in downloads last month

Beijing-based ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of tween and teen-focused social app Musical.ly is paying off. The company this year merged Musical.ly with its own short video app TikTok as a means of entering the U.S. market. Today, the result of that merger is sitting at the top of the U.S. App Store, ahead of Facebook. More importantly, it recently surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat in monthly installs for the first time in September.

According to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, TikTok’s installs were higher than those of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in the U.S. last month.

It surpassed the four other apps in terms of daily downloads on September 29, with 29.7 percent the downloads from this cohort of apps, the firm says.

Since then, it has continued to increase its market share among this group of apps, reaching as high as 42.4 percent of downloads among the apps just days ago, on October 30.

In September, TikTok’s installs grew around 31 percent from the prior month to reach approximately 3.81 million on the App Store and Google Play combined. This beat No. 2 Facebook, which had 3.53 million first-time installs.

Year-over-year, TikTok’s U.S. installs were up 237 percent from 1.13 million in October 2017.

As floods of new users join TikTok, the app has also flirted with passing some of these leading social apps in the App Store’s Top Charts, at times, too. Today, it’s ahead of Facebook (No. 7) and Messenger (No. 5) as it sits in the No. 4 position, for example. But it’s behind YouTube (No. 1), Instagram (No. 2), and Snapchat (No. 3).

However, at other times it’s gotten as high as No. 3 in the Overall Free Apps Top Chart, according to App Annie data.

douyin tiktok musically

App researcher Apptopia reports similar findings, in terms of TikTok’s surge. However, it noted that the app’s engagement rates (the portion of monthly users who open the app daily) was still behind the rest of the group. Apptopia said TikTok had a 29 percent engagement rate, compared with Facebook’s 96%, Instagram’s 95%, Snapchat’s 95%, and YouTube’s 95%.

It also noted the app’s gains have come, in part, from increased ad spend across Facebook, Google’s mobile ad platform AdMob, in-app ad platform Vungle, and others. Other gains are attributed to the merger.

In June, TikTok (known as Douyin in China) reported reaching a global monthly active user count of 500 million across 150 countries and regions, which is around the time when Instagram reached one billion monthly actives, for comparison’s sake.


Source: TechCrunch

Game of Thrones unleashes the dragons on Donald Trump – CNET

The president lifts the HBO hit’s style and slogan for use in a tweet about Iran sanctions.
Source: CNET

New Amazon Day shipping option lets you pick the day you get deliveries – CNET

The online retailer creates a program to offer more shipping choices and predictability.
Source: CNET

Overwatch's new hero is Ashe, gunslinger and leader of the Deadlock gang – CNET

She sports a lever-action rifle, hatred for Jesse McCree and an ultimate named Bob.
Source: CNET

World of Warcraft Classic launches next summer – CNET

The original Azeroth will return in 2019, but there’s a demo launching this week.
Source: CNET

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