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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Behind the turnaround that netted Vinted €50 million

It was May 2016 when Thomas Plantenga got the call.

He was living in New York and working on projects with Fabrice Grinda — the co-founder of classified juggernaut OLX, and the founder of FJ Labs. Plantenga had worked with Grinda on expanding OLX and was ready for the next challenge — which came in the form of the used clothing marketplace, Vinted.

The invitation came from Insight Venture Partners and it was an offer to help work with one of their portfolio companies — a former high flyer that had fallen on hard times.

“They sold me on the story,” said Plantenga on a call from Vilnius, Lithuania, where he moved to take the reins at the used clothing startup.

“The business was completely burning down and I was hanging out with them,” said Plantenga. “In those five weeks I connected with both the co-founders and wrote a very aggressive plan of how to completely change things and really change the direction… I said fuck it. If you’re going to be betting everything and everyone on this… let’s stick around.” 

Plantenga proposed severe austerity measures for the used clothing exchange. The company shuttered its offices in San Francisco, London, Munich and Paris, and slashed headcount from 240 to 150 and automated the processes of content moderation.

There was a strategic shift in product development, as well. The company focused on trust and safety between buyers and sellers and concentrated on two core markets: Germany and France. And, as Milda Mitkute, the company’s co-founder, told Forbes in an article earlier this year, the company shifted from a mandatory sales fee to a free product with additional paid services (like promotional marketing on the platform for sellers). Between January and December 2017, Vinted processed $360 million in sales.

The turnaround not only saved the company but had investors come knocking at the door. Last week, Sprints Capital led the EUR50 million financing that also included Burda Media and Insight Venture Partners (along with Grinda’s FJ Labs).

“Insight and Accel had the investment written-off to zero and did not expect it to come back,” said Plantenga. What came next was the biggest investment round ever for a Lithuanian startup.

“We started this whole turnaround with something like $14 million in bank account and we closed the round when we had $10 million of cash,” Plantenga said. Before the weekend the company saw $2 million in sales ina . single day. “It was close to zero a little more than two years ago,” said Plantenga.

As a sign of the faith the company has in management, Plantenga said that even though the ownership stake of the founders and executive team has fallen below 50 percent, they still maintain control over the company and the board.

Used clothes may not sound like much of a business, but in Europe, Vinted thinks that roughly $500 billion worth of clothing changes hands across the continent every year.

With so much money on the table, it’s little wonder that Vinted has attracted competition. Companies like Depop, which raised $20 million in January to pursue its own expansion plans for global domination of the used clothing market, are putting their own spin on the marketplace for used clothes.

And the two companies have very different approaches to their market.

“Depop is very smart in branding and positioning themselves as a cool brand that sells cool clothing,” said Plantenga. “And we’re just selling everybody’s clothes. We don’t care whether it’s cool. We just want people to sell their clothes.”

But both companies are on the edge of what Plantenga sees as a massive shift in consumer behavior.

“If we see the super trends of people wanting not to waste and being careful of how they pressure the environment, and all these super trends are becoming a thing,” said Plantenga. “We are hooking in on those super trends. I came from the classified space where you build a horizontal and you monetize cars and real estate, and fashion was a thing that was kind of nice to have. I stuck around because of my own belief that this is something really big.”


Source: TechCrunch

The Pansar Augmented watch hides it smarts behind an analog face

The Pansar Augmented is a Swedish smart watch that looks like a standard three-handed wristwatch. However, with the tap of a button, you can view multiple data points including weather, notifications, and even sales data from your CRM.

Pansar is a Swedish watch company that uses Swiss movements and hand assembled components to add a dash of luxury to your standard workhorse watch.

The watch is fully funded on Kickstarter. It costs $645 for early birds.

The watch mostly displays the time but when the data system is activated the hands move to show any data you’d like.

The world is full of interesting data: be it the quest for information on the perfect wave, keeping track on your stock value, or the number of followers you’ve acquired since yesterday. Pansar Augmented collects the data that matters to you and streams it conveniently to the hands of your watch. This is made possible because of the unique dual directional Swiss movement combined with the Pansar Augmented app.

The watch comes in three models: the Ocean Edition that shows “relevant data on weather, wind, and swell amongst others,” the Accelerator Edition that shows website visits or Instagram views, and the Quantifier Edition for the “analytical mind” that wants to track sales numbers.

It’s definitely a clever twist on the traditional smart watch vision and, thanks to some nice styling, these could be some nice pieces for folks who don’t want the distractions of a normal Apple Watch or Android Wear device.


Source: TechCrunch

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint unlimited plans comparison – CNET

The four major US carriers offer more than a dozen unlimited data plans. We compare them all and help you navigate the fine print.
Source: CNET

Cosby Show actor responds to viral photo of his Trader Joe's job – CNET

“No one has to feel sorry for me, I’m doing fine,” says Geoffrey Owens, who was photographed working as a cashier in New Jersey.
Source: CNET

House of Cards final season on Netflix: How and when to watch – CNET

Hail to the Chief. Netflix’s presidential drama will return, with Claire Underwood steering the ship of state.
Source: CNET

What is a smart display?

What is a Smart Display? Learn about this popular new smart device and the role it plays in the smart home. We’ll talk about what makes smart displays different, the top models, and where this new trend is headed in the future.

The post What is a smart display? appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

OnePlus 6T may have an in-display fingerprint sensor, according to box leak – CNET

Also, the OnePlus 6T may have a super small notch.
Source: CNET

How to use Find My iPhone

Finding a lost cell phone used to take hours upon hours of searching. Thankfully, you can now locate your device in a matter of minutes using Find My iPhone, one of the most convenient features of iOS.

The post How to use Find My iPhone appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Three former Social Capital partners are reportedly raising a $200M fund

Tribe Capital, the venture capital firm launched by Arjun Sethi, Jonathan Hsu and Ted Maidenber, a trio of former Social Capital partners, is reportedly raising $200 million for its first flagship venture capital fund. 

This story is developing. We’ve reached out to the firm for comment.

Tribe was said to be focusing on cryptocurrency and blockchain startups, recently leading the $22.7 million round for crypto trading platform SFOX. Though the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that capital from the fund will be deployed across multiple industries.

The news is a kick in the gut for former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya‘s venture capital firm Social Capital, which has been bleeding partners as of late—so much so that the firm has removed the page on its website that listed its team.

Last week, we highlighted two notable exits in Ashley Mayer, a partner and VP of marketing since 2015, and Mike Ghaffary, a partner since August 2017, who said he was leaving to focus on his angel investing career.

Since then, Axios is reporting Social Capital associate Tejinder Gill has been hired by Collaborative Fund as a principal and that Alex Chee, who headed up product development, is leaving too—whereabouts unknown. It’s quite possible he’s joining Tribe. The firm, after all, is made up of three former Social Capital investors, and the only other person to list Tribe Capital as their employer on LinkedIn is Georgia Kinne, who’s in charge of operations at the firm and was previously an executive assistant at Social Capital.

Other high-level Social Capital employees to head out the door this year include growth equity chief Tony Bates and vice chairman Marc Mezvinsky.

 


Source: TechCrunch

MIT researchers teach a neural network to recognize depression

A new technology by MIT researchers can sense depression by analyzing the written and spoken responses by a patient. The system, pioneered by MIT’s CSAIL group, uses “a neural-network model that can be unleashed on raw text and audio data from interviews to discover speech patterns indicative of depression.”

“Given a new subject, it can accurately predict if the individual is depressed, without needing any other information about the questions and answers,” the researchers write.

The most important part of the system is that it is context-free. This means that it doesn’t require specific questions or types of responses. It simply uses day-to-day interactions as the source data.

“We call it ‘context-free,’ because you’re not putting any constraints into the types of questions you’re looking for and the type of responses to those questions,” said researcher Tuka Alhanai.

“Every patient will talk differently, and if the model sees changes maybe it will be a flag to the doctors,” said study co-author James Glass. “This is a step forward in seeing if we can do something assistive to help clinicians.”

From the release:

The researchers trained and tested their model on a dataset of 142 interactions from the Distress Analysis Interview Corpus that contains audio, text, and video interviews of patients with mental-health issues and virtual agents controlled by humans. Each subject is rated in terms of depression on a scale between 0 to 27, using the Personal Health Questionnaire. Scores above a cutoff between moderate (10 to 14) and moderately severe (15 to 19) are considered depressed, while all others below that threshold are considered not depressed. Out of all the subjects in the dataset, 28 (20 percent) are labeled as depressed.

In experiments, the model was evaluated using metrics of precision and recall. Precision measures which of the depressed subjects identified by the model were diagnosed as depressed. Recall measures the accuracy of the model in detecting all subjects who were diagnosed as depressed in the entire dataset. In precision, the model scored 71 percent and, on recall, scored 83 percent. The averaged combined score for those metrics, considering any errors, was 77 percent. In the majority of tests, the researchers’ model outperformed nearly all other models.

Obviously detection is only part of the process but this robo-therapist could help real therapists find and isolate issues automatically versus the long process of analysis. It’s a fascinating step forward in mental health.


Source: TechCrunch

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