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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

The US Urgently Needs New Genetic Privacy Laws

The laws governing DNA data in the US are patchy and incomplete. Yet people keep putting their DNA on the internet, compromising everyone’s genetic anonymity.
Source: Wired

Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail in the UK – CNET

The WikiLeaks founder was arrested last month at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Source: CNET

BlackBuck raises $150 million to digitize freight and logistics across India

India’s trucking system has a big inefficiency problem that continues to drag the economy. BlackBuck, one of the handful logistics startups that is trying to overhaul this system, just raised $150 million in Series D round to further pursue its mission.

The new round was led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Accel at a valuation just shy of $1 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. Wellington, Sequoia Capital, B Capital, LightStreet, and existing investors Sands Capital and World Bank’s investment arm International Finance Corporation also participated in the round.

The four-year-old B2B startup, which connects businesses with truck owners and freight operators, has raised about $230 million in equity financing and another $100 million in debt financing to date, CEO Rajesh Yabaji told TechCrunch in an interview.

Yabaji said the startup will use the fresh capital to expand and improve its technology stack that enables truck drivers to find more work, and grow its fleet of driver partners. As of today, BlackBuck has 300,000 trucks on its platform and about 10,000 clients including big names such as soft drinks manufacturer Coca Cola, consumer goods giant Unilever, and automotive conglomerate Tata .

BlackBuck has developed a simplified app for truck drivers in India, who are typically not very literate, to help them easily navigate to the destination using Google Maps and accept work. On the client side, businesses can fire up a similar app to place orders. Recently it also tied up with insurance company Acko to cover all the trucks on its network.

So as things work at the moment, truck drivers in India often struggle to find any work on their way back from a drop. Yabaji says BlackBuck enables them to find 25% to 30% more work opportunities. The startup takes between 15% to 20% cut of that and this is how it makes money.

India’s logistics market, valued at $160 billion, has attracted major VC funds in recent years. Delhivery, a supply chain startup, has raised north of $670 million from SoftBank, and Tiger Global among others. Rivigo, a startup that rotates drivers to improve efficiency, has raised north of $215 million from SAIF Partners and Warburg Pincus.

It’s a capital-heavy business. BlackBuck, which employs about 2,000 people, generated $135.5 million in revenue at a loss of $17 million in fiscal year 2018, according to regulatory filings. Yabaji says the startup aims to aggressively grow its business, so profitability is not something it is hoping to go after in the immediate future.

“Given the market we are in today, in terms of private capital being available, we do not have to do IPO for a really long time. It is all about optimizing for the objective,” he said.

BlackBuck said it will also give about 200 of its employees an option to liquidate up to 25% of their vested shareholding in the company at the current price.


Source: TechCrunch

NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam – CNET

The space agency linked it to two mission failures.
Source: CNET

Airbnb-backed OYO moves into Europe, buys Leisure Group from Axel Springer for $415M

OYO, the fast-growing budget hotel startup out of India that’s backed by Airbnb, SoftBank, Grab and Didi, has made an acquisition to expand its footprint into Europe, specifically around self-catering home rentals. The company has picked up @Leisure Group from Axel Springer for about $415 million (€369.5 million).

Axel Springer had a 51 percent share of the company and said it would be receiving €180 million in the deal, including the repayment of a shareholder loan of around €60 million, and a spokesperson for OYO confirmed to TechCrunch that the full price was €369.5 million.

@Leisure (the @ is a part of its name) sees traffic and business from some 2.8 million travellers annually from across 118 countries. Its European footprint covers some 115,000 homes, and some 300,000 rooms globally

It operates through various sub-brands, including Belvilla, DanCenter, Danland and Traum-Ferienwohnungen, and last year it posted Ebitda of more than €24 million, Axel Springer said.

The German media company, which acquired @Leisure four years ago for an undisclosed sum, also said the divestment is expected to close in June 2019, and will see it focusing more on its jobs and classifieds business as a result.

The deal is the latest big move for OYO, which is now valued at $5 billion, as it continues to expand its footprint outside of its home market, after launches in Japan in recent weeks and China last year.

While companies like Airbnb have expanded into higher end homes and business services, what its investment OYO brings is diversification into another segment of the market. OYO has built its business primarily on budget offerings — and with this deal into middle-class, family travel that’s often also planned on a budget.

That’s a strategy that has appeared to pay off in spades. OYO says it is now the world’s sixth-largest chain of hotels, a place it hopes to advance on the back of raising more than $1 billion in funding since September last year, first in a tranche of $1 billion that included SoftBank’s Vision Fund, and later through a strategic investment from Airbnb, which sources tell us was between $150 million and $200 million.

OYO founder and CEO Ritesh Agrawal

“We see vacation homes as a unique opportunity with 115,000 units of homes now getting added to our already growing count of beautiful homes and we are excited to continue maintaining our global industry leadership,” OYO’s founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal (pictured above) said in a statement. “Our focus, however, will remain to be a beloved consumer brand that has the ability to create a perfect space in every place. The @Leisure Group is a great partner and we are excited to broad base their offerings. @Leisure Group has proven capabilities in helping develop Europe into a vacation rentals hotspot and we are keen to leverage their competencies towards ensuring beautiful vacation rental and urban homes experience for millions of tourists from every part of the world.”

Tobias Wann, the CEO @Leisure, is becoming CEO of Vacation Homes at OYO as part of the acquisition.

“We are delighted to join forces with OYO in its mission of creating quality and beautiful spaces,” he said in a statement. “@Leisure Group was started with a similar mission to identify and service all forms of vacation & urban home rentals, focusing on delivering a hassle-free experience to both homeowners and guests. I am delighted to share that we’ve successfully achieved that over the past few years, and now aspire to leverage our synergies to deepen our presence in Europe and look to expand globally.”

Europe’s vacation rental market will be worth some $18.6 billion this year, according to estimates, growing at between four and eight percent annually. Now that we are heading into the travel season we are seeing a number of deals emerging to capitalise on the opportunity both within the borders of the region, as well as to tap interest from international tourists coming to Europe. Earlier this week, we confirmed that GetYourGuide, a startup from Berlin that offers listings for tours and other travel experiences, is raising between €300 million and €500 million in funding at a valuation of about $1.6 billion.

Europe has also been an important type of market, in that it’s been one of the big leaders in self-catering vacation home rentals, so for OYO to break into Europe, having a network like this, ready-made rather than built from scratch, is one way to make the move quickly — a sentiment echoed by OYO itself:

“With Europe spearheading the vacation and urban home rental trend globally, @Leisure Group is uniquely positioned to capitalize on its experience and insights aided with OYO’s full stack approach towards building the world’s largest global vacation rentals business,” said OYO chief strategy officer Maninder Gulati in a statement. “If one were to look at Europe alone, there is an ever-increasing demand for vacation homes with an increasing trend of booking an entire home. Further, in such a market of largely fragmented small and independent players, and a handful of established players, of which @Leisure Group, is one of the largest, we feel travelers will be excited with what @Leisure Group can offer. Through this acquisition, the size and scale of the opportunity can be immediately unlocked for OYO’s Homes business.”

The deal will give OYO a big boost from its existing footprint, which had covered 800 cities in 24 countries, including the UK, US, India, China, Malaysia, Nepal, UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Japan. It already had 18,000 buildings and 636,000 units under management, along with  40,000-holiday homes. Other investors in it include Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Hero Enterprise, and China Lodging Group. 


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook's F8 conference underway, Google workers stage a sit-in video – CNET

Today’s major tech stories include news out of Facebook’s F8 conference, a sit-in being staged by Google employees and preorders starting for Valve’s VR headset, the Index.
Source: CNET

The best touchscreen laptops of 2019

The best touchscreen laptops aren’t locked to 2-in-1s and convertibles, but include clamshell designs too. We pick the best touchscreen clamshells you can find in 2018, ranging from Windows 10 PCs to Chromebooks.

The post The best touchscreen laptops of 2019 appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Pixel 3 phones aren't selling, and it's probably Verizon's fault – CNET

Commentary: Google’s carrier exclusive with Verizon isn’t doing Pixel sales any favors.
Source: CNET

These Super-Precise Clocks Help Weave Together Space And Time

Insanely precise atomic clocks are letting astrophysicists image black holes, steer spacecraft, and maybe one day hunt for gravitational waves.
Source: Wired

The Woman Who Saved John McAfee from an Epically Bad Deal

He was going to sell his antivirus software company to Symantec for $20 million. But Sonja Hoel had a smarter, better offer.
Source: Wired

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