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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

July sets a record for number of $100M+ venture capital rounds

In July 2018, the tech sector’s leisure class — venture capitalists — kicked investments into overdrive, at least when it comes to financing supergiant venture rounds of $100 million or more (in native or as-converted USD values).

With 55 deals accounting for just over $15 billion at time of writing, July likely set an all-time record for the number of huge venture deals struck in a single month.

The table below has just the top 10 largest rounds from the month. (A full list of all the supergiant venture rounds can be found here.)

It’s certainly a record high for the past decade. Earlier this month, we set out to find when the current mega-round trend began. We found that, prior to the tail end of 2013, supergiant VC rounds were relatively rare. In a given month between 2007 and the start of the supergiant round era, a $100 million round would be announced every few weeks, on average. And many months had no such deals come across the wires.

Of course, that hasn’t been the case recently.

Why is this happening? As with most things in entrepreneurial finance, context matters.

There are some obvious factors to consider. At the later-stage end of the spectrum, the market is currently awash in money. Billions of dollars in dry powder is in the offing as venture investors continue to raise new and ever-larger venture funds. All that capital has to be put to work somewhere.

But there’s another, and perhaps less obvious, cog in the machine: the changing part VCs play in a company’s life cycle. The current climate presents a stark contrast to the last time the market was this active (in the late 1990s). Back then, companies looking to raise nine and 10-figure sums would typically have to turn to private equity firms or boutique late-stage tech investors, or raise from the public market via an IPO.

Now some venture capital firms are able to provide financial and strategic support from the first investment check a private company cashes to when it goes public or gets acquired. On the one hand, this prolongs the time it takes for companies to exit. But on the other, some venture firms get to double, triple and quadruple down on their best bets.

But as in Newtonian physics, a market that goes up will also come down. The pace of supergiant funding announcements will have to slow at some point. What are some of the potential catalysts for such a slowdown? Keep an eye out for one or more of the following:

  • U.S. monetary policy could change. As stultifyingly boring as Federal Reserve interest rate policy is, very low interest rates are a major contributor to the state of the market today. With money so cheap, other interest rate-pegged investment vehicles like bonds perform relatively poorly, which drives institutional limited partners to seek high returns in greener pastures. Venture capital presents that greenfield opportunity today, but that can change if interest rates rise again.
  • A sustained public market downtrend for tech companies. While everything was coming up Milhouse in the private market, a few publicly traded tech giants got cut down to size. Facebook, Twitter and Netflix all reported slower than expected growth, leading to a downward repricing of their shares. So far, most of the steepest declines are isolated to consumer-facing companies. But if we start to see disappointing earnings from more enterprise-focused companies, or if asset prices remain depressed for more than just a couple of months, this could slow the pace of large rounds and lower valuations.
  • Narrowing or vanishing paths to liquidity. For the past several quarters, the count of venture-backed companies that get acquired has slowly but consistently declined, a trend Crunchbase News has documented in its quarterly reporting. At the same time, though, the IPO market has mostly thawed for venture-backed tech companies. Even companies with ugly financials can make a public market debut these days. But if IPO pipeline flow slows, or if otherwise healthy companies fail to thrive when they do go public, that could spell bad news for investors in need of liquidity.

All this being said, there’s little sign that the market is slowing down. Crunchbase has already recorded four rounds north of $100 million in the first two days of August. Most notably, ride-hailing company Grab snagged another $1 billion in funding (after gulping down $1 billion last month) at a post-money valuation of $11 billion.

If you believe the stereotypes, venture investors are either already on vacation or packing their bags for late summer jaunts to exotic locales at this time of year. But, as it turns out, raising money is always in season. So even though the dog days of summer are upon us, August could end up being just as wild as July.


Source: TechCrunch

'Snapchat dysmorphia' has social media users seeking plastic surgery – CNET

People want to look like their Snapchat-filtered selves, doctors say.
Source: CNET

Original Content podcast: The end is in sight on ‘Orange is the New Black’

Orange is the New Black is back for a sixth season, dealing with the fallout from season five and shifting the location to the maximum security wing of Litchfield Prison.

On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Megan Rose Dickey to discuss the latest developments on one of Netflix’s longest-running shows. Some of us are more on-board with the show than others, but we’re all impressed by the show’s balance between drama and comedy.

We also speculate about whether the story may be winding down, and whether OITNB‘s seventh season might be its last.

Before our review, we recap the week’s streaming and entertainment news, including Netflix’s acquisition of an Andy Serkis-directed version of Animal Farm, its plans for a show about African-American pioneer Madam C.J, Walker starring Octavia Spencer and MoviePass’ ongoing difficulties.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You also can send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)


Source: TechCrunch

Who do you trust?

Another week, another high-profile hack. This week it was (checks notes) Reddit. What makes this one marginally more interesting is that the victims were using two-factor authentication, i.e. SMS codes texted to them to verify their identities when their accounts were accessed — which turned out to be little more than a speed bump for the attackers.

This surprised exactly zero (good) security people. It has long been known that your phone service can be hacked either via SS7, the ancient and insecure system used to interconnect the planet’s phone networks, or by the more old-fashioned but even more effective method of walking into a store and talking a callow undertrained clerk into transferring your number to the attacker’s phone. Phone companies are trying to remediate both of these attack vectors, but you can’t trust them to protect you; not yet, and possibly not ever.

But you have to trust someone to protect all the things you hide behind passwords. You have no real choice but to implicitly trust your network, and your phone’s manufacturer, and the manufacturer of its baseband chip, and the whole basic stack from your BIOS to your browser.

You can choose Apple over Android, or Pixel over third-party Androids. But whichever choice you make, you are basically pledging your trust in all that you hold dear to Apple or Google. It’s sad to say, in an era when the tech giants are already too powerful and growing moreso every day, but from a security perspective, that is, for most people, probably currently the right thing to do.

Google’s security team is probably the best on the block, and its Pixel phones are more secure than other Androids, partly because they get the latest updates first, partly because they’re free of possibly vulnerable or even malicious pre-installed bloatware. I don’t like Apple’s hegemonic attitude towards software, philosophically; but its security people know what they are doing, and its strict gatekeeping of its App Store has very real security benefits.

But wait: this trust in those twin giants probably needs to extend beyond your phones to your computers and your emails, too. We’ve all been told again and again: don’t open email attachments. They’re not safe. And we are all told again and again, probably on a daily basis, by our family and/or co-workers, who may or may not have just been hacked themselves: open this email attachment, it’s something important you need to deal with right now. How to deal with this conundrum? The answer is, essentially: GMail, Google Docs, and Google Drive, on an Apple device or a Chromebook.

The new new security message is: “don’t use SMS authentication.” (Mind you, most Americans have never even heard of two-factor authentication full stop, and SMS two-factor is still better than one-factor, modulo the false sense of security it may instill.) What to do instead? Well, you could buy a Yubikey or a SecurID token, which is insanely, ludicrously, non-starter inconvenient for most people. Or you could use a phone app, such as, most commonly — yep, you guessed it; Google Authenticator.

Over the last few decades the tech industry has built systems so fundamentally insecure, so rotten to their core, that we now have no real choice but to trust its largest and most powerful companies to protect us. I’m all too aware of the grim irony. (Though in fairness the telecom industry has much to answer for too.) Things weren’t supposed to be this way; things didn’t have to be this way; but here we are.


Source: TechCrunch

SSD vs. HDD

As the price of solid-state drives comes down, it’s reached a point where it’s hard to recommend a system without at least a hybrid solution. In the battle of SSD vs. HDD, a clear winner has emerged, though it depends on the use case.

The post SSD vs. HDD appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Get in a Avro Vulcan bomber at the North East Land Sea and Air Museum – CNET

Climb inside the Cold War-era Vulcan bomber and check out dozens of other vehicles at this museum.
Source: CNET

Elon Musk’s Apology, Tesla’s Quarter, Waymo’s Transit Partner, and More Car News This Week

Plus: Autopilot advances, and Sacramento goes for self-driving cars.
Source: Wired

Best Point and Shoot Cameras (2018): Canon, Sony, Olympus

Ditch the DSLR and say “sayonara, smartphone” with these awesome compact cameras.
Source: Wired

Paul Manafort's Fashion Choices Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Last week, President Trump’s former campaign chairman went to court—and the internet put his clothes on trial.
Source: Wired

Venezuela claims drones loaded with explosives used in failed attack on president

Is the dystopian future of shoestrong budget weaponized drone attacks here already? The BBC and AP are reporting claims by the Venezuela government of an assassination attempt on its president using a couple of drones carrying explosives.

President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech at a military event in Caracas which was being screened live on television when the incident occurred.

Footage of the speech on the BBC website shows the president, flanked by military generals and with his wife also standing alongside, being interrupted mid-flow by what appears to be a blast from above them.

The people in the shot react by looking startled and looking up. The audio to the video cuts out before the blast can be heard.

Footage of the incident from a different camera angle showing a panorama view of a military parade at a standstill during the speech, does include the sound of a blast. Afterwards people can be seen pushing into and then running into the frame. The soldiers break rank in panic and the sound of screams can be heard.

Venezuela authorities have reported that seven soldiers were injured in the incident and several people were later arrested. Communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said two drones loaded with explosives went off near the president’s stand.

In a national address later, Maduro said: “A flying object exploded near me, a big explosion. Seconds later there was a second explosion.”

However there has been no independent verification that explosive-carrying drones were the cause of the blast. And a report by AP cites firefighters at the scene of the blast disputing the government’s version of events.

It reports that three local authorities said there had been a gas tank explosion inside an apartment near the speech and where smoke could be seen streaming out of a window. But AP adds that they provided no further details on how they had reached that conclusion.

There has also been an unverified claim of responsibility for an attack using drones.

The BBC and AP report that a little known group called Soldiers in T-shirts has claimed on social media that it planned to fly two drones loaded with explosives at the president but that government soldiers shot them down before they reached their target.

Both news organizations say the group did not respond to attempts to contact it.

Venezuela’s president has blamed Colombia for the attack — an accusation that has been refuted by the neighboring state as “baseless”.


Source: TechCrunch

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