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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

DoJ Charges North Korean Hacker for Sony, WannaCry, and More

The Department of Justice has taken its first legal action against North Korea’s cybercrimes, in a massive complaint made public Thursday.
Source: Wired

Benchmark and Tiger double down on going public

In an ecosystem enthralled with private capital and delayed public debuts, Bill Gurley has been something of a maverick. The former dot-com equity analyst and long-time partner at Benchmark has pushed hard for companies to go public and “grow up,” including at his portfolio company Uber, where he was formerly a board member.

Earlier this year, he noted that “it’s cool to go public again,” and now we are starting to see the fruits of Benchmark’s labors. Over the past 24 hours, two companies – Elastic and Upwork – have submitted their S-1 registration statements to the SEC, and Benchmark is the largest shareholder in both. That follows last year’s IPO for Stitch Fix, where Gurley was the lead investor.

The story of these two public aspirants are certainly divergent. Upwork is the rebranded merger of two companies, Elance and oDesk, which merged in 2013. Benchmark got involved through oDesk, leading a Series B round of investment in the company in 2006, with founding partner Kevin Harvey joining the board. Considering oDesk was founded in 2003, and Elance in 1999, it has certainly been a circuitous route to the public markets for the company.

Elastic, on the other hand, is a relatively rare case of a company going public quite early in its evolution. The startup was founded just a few years ago in 2012 according to Crunchbase, and Benchmark’s Peter Fenton led a $10m series A into the company that same year. Only six years later, the company is heading to the public markets, with a projected unicorn valuation.

While Upwork has certainly been a journey, it’s Elastic that best exemplifies the startup trajectory that I think Gurley has been advocating for the past few years. Given its rapid revenue growth and key ownership of the search engine market, it is doubtful the company would have struggled to raise additional capital from the private markets. Indeed, six years from founding to IPO is more reminiscent of the 1990s, when the IPO was a key early milestone in the development of a startup since private investment was just not available.

The other interesting dynamic here is around capital efficiency. Elastic raised just $162 million in venture capital according to Crunchbase, a surprisingly low number considering its revenues, growth, and valuation. Enterprise startups have been raising more capital over time as sales and marketing costs have soared and the standards required to publicly debut have become more exacting. That capital efficiency is mirrored on the consumer side by Stitch Fix, which had raised just $42 million in venture capital before its IPO.

These are early data points, but it is clear that Gurley’s and Benchmark’s words around capital efficiency and public markets are influencing their advice to their startup boards and leading to very different actions from these founders. It’s a contrast to companies like Palantir and SpaceX, which have seemed to have committed to staying private for as long as possible.

Tiger Global and other crossover hedge funds are also pushing IPOs

Benchmark is not the only company that has had some good S-1 news this week. The lead investor in the other two prominent tech IPOs so far this season — Eventbrite and SurveyMonkey — is Tiger Global, the quiet but prolific crossover hedge fund. The fund owns 21.3% of Eventbrite and 29.3% of SurveyMonkey.

The rise of these crossover funds is driving renewed interest in early public liquidity. Unlike traditional venture firms, which typically have a decade investment horizon (plus frequent multi-year extensions), these hedge funds face greater pressure to get returns on a compressed timeline.

That’s indicative here with Tiger Global. It’s investments in Eventbrite and SurveyMonkey took place in 2013, so it is just roughly five years from investment to IPO. Certainly, the hedge fund targets growth-stage opportunities which have shorter liquidity times in general, yet, the speed of liquidity is still notable even for growth investors.

For an ecosystem that has in many ways avoided the public markets, these changing norms will not just increase the pressure to go public, but may also present challenges for boards where discordant voices may be simultaneously pushing the exec team to stay private or go public. It’s a dynamic that founders are going to have to increasingly think through as they select investors through each of their venture rounds, in order to ensure that every investor is on the same page regarding the timeline for the public markets.


Source: TechCrunch

U.S. set to charge North Korean spy with Sony hack and WannaCry cyberattack

The US government wants to bring the hacker behind WannaCry to justice. The Justice Department is set to announce charges against the North Korean spy responsible for the malware and an earlier hack that crippled Sony.

The post U.S. set to charge North Korean spy with Sony hack and WannaCry cyberattack appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

How a Master Domino Artist Builds 15,000-Piece Creations

Lily Hevesh sets ’em up to knock ’em down—in breathtakingly complicated arrangements.
Source: Wired

BMW launches a personal voice assistant for its cars

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, BMW today premiered its digital personal assistant for its cars, the aptly named BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. But you won’t have to say “Hey, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant” to wake it up. You can give it any name you want.

The announcement comes only a few weeks after BMW also launched its integration with Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s worth stressing that these are complementary technologies. BMW’s own assistant is all about your car, while its partnerships with Amazon and also Microsoft enables other functions that aren’t directly related to your driving experience.

“BMW’s Personal Assistant gets to know you over time with each of your voice commands and by using your car,” BMW’s senior vice president Digital Products and Services, Dieter May, said. “It gets better and better every single day.”

Sticking with the precedents of Microsoft’s, Google’s and Amazon’s assistants, the voice of BMW’s assistant is female (though BMW often uses male names and pronouns in its press materials). Over time, it’ll surely get more voices.

So what can the BMW assistant do? Once you are in a compatible car, you’ll be able to control all of the standard in-car features by voice. Think navigation and climate control (“Hey John, I’m cold”), or check the tire pressure, oil level and other engine settings.

You also can have some more casual conversations (“Hey Charlie, what’s the meaning of life?”), but what’s maybe more important is that the assistant will continuously learn more about you. Right now, the assistant can remember your preferred settings, but over time, it’ll learn more and even proactively suggest changes. “For example, driving outside the city at night, the personal assistant could suggest you the BMW High Beam Assist,” May noted.

In addition, you’ll also be able to use the assistant to learn more about your car’s features, something that’s getting increasingly hard as cars become computers on wheels with ever-increasing complexity.

BMW built the assistant on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and conversational technologies. Azure has long been BMW’s preferred public cloud and the two companies have had a close relationship for years now. BMW has, after all, also integrated some support for accessing Office 365 files and using Skype for Business in its cars, with support for Cortana likely coming soon, too.

That all sounds a bit confusing, though. Why have three assistants in the car, after all. All that “Hey Alexa,” “Hey Charlie,” “Hey Cortana” is going to get a bit confusing after all. But BMW argues that each one has a specialty. For Alexa that may be shopping while Cortana is all about getting work done and the BMW is all about your car. And if everything else fails, BMW’s existing concierge service is still there and lets you talk to a human.

The assistant feature will be available in a basic version with support for 23 languages and markets, starting March 2019. In the U.S., Germany, U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil and Japan, the service will feature more features like support for weather search, point of interest search and access to music in March 2019. In those markets, the assistant will also feature a more natural voice. In China, this expanded version will go live a bit later and is currently scheduled for May 2019. In those markets, it’ll roll out to cars that support the BMW Operating System 7.0 as part of the company’s Live Cockpit Professional program.

If you order a BMW 3 Series, starting in November, the assistant will be available to you right away and included for the first three years of your ownership. For new X5, Z4 and 8 Series models, BMW Assistant support will arrive in the form of an over-the-air software upgrade starting in March 2019.


Source: TechCrunch

Can't afford a sexbot? Now you can cam with one and tell it to twerk – CNET

Live-camming site CamSoda is letting users talk dirty with an AI sex robot that shimmies and twerks.
Source: CNET

This game has me obsessed with rattan ottomans and watercolor whales – CNET

Commentary: Home-decorating simulation Design Home has sucked me into its vortex. Teak or mahogany side chair? The difference keeps me up at night.
Source: CNET

Justice Department to announce hacking charges tied to North Korea – CNET

The indictment stems from at least two incidents in recent years: the WannaCry ransomware attacks and the hack of Sony Pictures.
Source: CNET

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet gets small upgrades for same low price – CNET

Along with a better front-facing camera and increased memory expansion, you can also issue Alexa voice commands even with your screen on standby.
Source: CNET

Live from Disrupt SF 2018 day two!

Yesterday was a blast, but there’s no reason to rest on our laurels. Disrupt SF 2018 Day 2 holds plenty in store for us.

We’ll hear from Priscilla Chan, Dara Khosrowshahi, Reid Hoffman, Doug Leone and many more.

First up, Dieter May from BMW with a global product announcement.

Then, this afternoon, we’ll check out the rest of the Startup Battlefield companies.

The full agenda is right here.

Enjoy!


Source: TechCrunch

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