posted 6 days ago on techcrunch
To secure U.S. election systems from the very real threat of targeted cyberattacks, states might need to reframe their security practices to look more like they would in a tightly-controlled corporate environment. To that end, Centrify, an enterprise cloud-based identity management company, is extending its security offerings to help states cover their bases as part of a “Secure the Vote” initiative. The company is encouraging state and local election boards to employ its services for basic security measures like multi-factor authentication and user privilege management — two easy steps that could thwart potential attacks. To coordinate with states, Centrify is working with the Department of Homeland Security on the budget and procurement processes as states begin to work more closely with the agency on the challenge of election security. In a conversation with TechCrunch, Centrify CEO Tom Kemp emphasized that states could bolster election security considerably by even undertaking the most basic safety measures. “There’s some low-hanging fruit that can be done relatively quickly,” Kemp told TechCrunch, noting that this level of precaution would only take “a couple weeks of implementation work.” As Kemp notes, the hackers targeting state election systems generally try to compromise admin-level accounts with broad system access. Multi-factor authentication requires an external confirmation of user identity in order to log into a system and is widely considered one of the more basic and most robust cybersecurity precautions for individuals and organizations alike. Centrify eschews the “trust but verify” approach, opting instead for a zero-trust security model that verifies user identity at all levels. State and local election boards can work with Centrify to get free access to the company’s services for eight months, though they’ll need to sign up for an annual plan to get the deal. The company will work with those groups to deploy its services, with discounted on-site rates. Because the company is already registered in the federal procurement system, states have one less hurdle to overcome if they choose to work with Centrify while taking advantage of federal assistance seeking to bolster state election security. According to a federal contractor search, Centrify’s federal contracts have included work with the U.S. Navy and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “In order to secure the vote, Election Boards need to protect their election systems, and more importantly, sensitive voter registration information against bad actors,” Kemp said of the announcement. “That starts with adopting a new mindset that compromised credentials are the main attack vector.”

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As the messaging app Telegram continues to try to evade Russian authorities by switching up its IP addresses, Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has continued its game of whack-a-mole to try to lock it down by knocking out complete swathes of IP address. The resulting chase how now ballooned to nearly 19 million IP addresses at the time of writing, as tracked by unofficial RKN observer RKNSHOWTIME (updated on a Telegram channel with stats accessible on the web via Phil Kulin’s site). As a result, there have been a number of high-profile services also knocked oput in the crossfire, with people in Russia reporting dozens of sites affected including Twitch, Slack, Soundcloud, Viber, Spotify, Fifa, Nintendo, as well as Amazon and Google. (A full list of nearly forty addresses is listed below.) What’s notable is that Google and Amazon themselves seem still not to be buckling under pressure. As we reported earlier this week, a similar — but far smaller — instance happened in the case of Zello, which had also devised a technique to hop around IP addresses when its own IP addresses were shut down by Russian regulators. Zello’s circumventing lasted for nearly a year, until it seemed the regulator started to use a more blanket approach of blocking entire subnets — a move that ultimately led to Google and Amazon asking Zello to cease its activities. After that, Zello’s main access point for its Russian users was via VPN proxies — one of the key ways that users in one country can effectively appear as if they are in another, allowing them to circumvent geoblocking and geofencing, either by the companies themselves, or those that have been banned by a state. It’s important to note that the domain fronting that Google is in the process of shutting down is not the same as IP hopping — although, more generally, it will mean that there is now one less route for those globally whose traffic is getting blocked through censorship to wiggle around that. The IP hopping that has led to 19 million addresses getting blocked in Russia is another kind of circumvention. (I’m pointing this out because several people I’ve spoken to assumed they were the same.) Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, has made several public calls on Telegram and also third-party sites like Twitter to praise how steadfast the big internet companies have been. And others like the ACLU have also waded into the story to call on Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft to hold strong and continue to allow Telegram to IP hop. But what could happen next? I’ve contacted Google, Amazon and Telegram now several times to ask this question and for more details on what is going on. As of yet I’ve had no replies. However, Alexey Gavrilov, the CTO and founder of Zello, provided a little more potential insight: He said that ultimately they might ask Telegram to stop — something that might become increasingly hard not to do as more services get affected — and if that doesn’t work they can suspend Telegram’s account. “Each cloud provider has provisions, which let them do it if your use interferes with other customers using their service,” Gavrilov notes. “The interpretation of this rule may be not trivial in case when the harm is caused by third party (i.e RKN in this case) so I think there are some legal risks for Amazon / Google. Plus that would likely cause a PR issue for them.” Another question is whether there are bigger fish to fry in this story. Some have floated the idea that just as Zello preceded Telegram, RKN’s battles with the latter might lead to how it negotiates with Facebook. As we have reported before, Facebook notably has never moved to house Russian Facebook data in Russia. Local hosting has been one of the key requirements that the regulator has enforced against a number of other companies as part of its “data protection” rules, and over the last couple of years while some high-profile companies have run afoul of the these regulations, others (including Apple and Google) have reportedly complied. Regardless, there’s been one ironic silver lining in this story. Since RKN shifted its focus to waging a war on Telegram, Gavrilov tells me that Zello service has been restored in Russia. Here’s to weathering the storm.  We’ll update this post as and when we get responses from the big players. A more complete list of sites that people have reported as affected by the 19 million address block is below, via Telegram channel Нецифровая экономика (“Non-digital economy”). Some of these have been disputed, so take this with a grain of salt: 1. Sberbank (disputed) 2. Alfa Bank (disputed) 3. VTB 4. Mastercard 5. Some Microsoft services 6. Video agency RT Ruptly 7. Games like Fortnite, PUBG, Guild Wars 2, Vainglory, Guns of Boom, World of Warships Blitz, Lineage 2 Mobile and Total War: Arena 8. Twitch 9. Google 10. Amazon 11. Russian food retailer Dixy (disupted) 12. Odnoklassniki (the social network, ok,ru) 13. Viber 14. Дилеры Volvo 15. Gett Taxi 16. BattleNet 17. SoundCloud 18. DevianArt 19. Coursera 20. Realtimeboard 21. Trello 22. Slack 23. Evernote 24. Skyeng (online English language school) 25. Part of the Playstation Network 26. Ivideon 27. ResearchGate 28. Gitter 29. eLama 30. Behance 31. Nintendo 32. Codeacademy 33. Lifehacker 34. Spotify 35. FIFA 36. And it seems like some of RKN’s site itself

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In the most 2018 thing of the year so far, Reuters and The New York Times are both reporting that Cambridge Analytica was talking to crytpocurrency experts in preparation for the launch of its own initial coin offering. Of course, things may have gotten a bit off-track when the company was revealed to have obtained the data of as many as 87 million Facebook users. Life, as they say, comes at you fast. According to Reuters sources, the embattled firm was looking to issue its own digital currency in an effort to raise upwards of $30 million. Understandable, perhaps — startups reportedly raised $5.6 billion through ICOs in 2017 alone. Surely Cambridge Analytica was well positioned to get in on that action.  The company wouldn’t confirm whether it was still looking toward digital currency as a fundraising method moving forward, though it did tell the news agency that  using blockchain for security purposes is still very much on the table. “Prior to the Facebook controversy, we were developing a suite of technologies to help individuals reclaim their personal data from corporate entities and to have full transparency and control over how their personal data are used,” a spokesperson said. “We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetize their personal data, including blockchain technology.” The Times also confirms via leaked emails that CA’s work with another digital currency, Dragon Coin, “associated the firm” with a gangster know as Broken Tooth. Though Dragon Coin’s founder denies any connection with Mr. Tooth.

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Reddit, one of the internet’s largest hubs for both traffic and controversy, announced today that it has hired former Time Inc. President of Digital Jen Wong to take on the role of COO. She will be tasked with managing Reddit’s business strategy, working out of the company’s New York office. Wong left Time Inc. earlier this year when the company was acquired by Meredith Corp for $1.84 billion. In a blog post, the company detailed the scope of her role as COO. A major focus will be building the company’s advertising strategy. Her goals as COO will align closely with her past experience at Time, PopSugar, and AOL: using her media, publisher, advertising, and operations expertise to help us build out our offerings for users, advertisers, and partners; applying her experience building successful digital advertising offerings for internet media giants to our own ads platform; and, through it all, working to grow our business while staying true to the things that make Reddit unique. Despite claiming 330 million monthly active users, Reddit is still a relatively small operation by Silicon Valley standards. A major part of that is that they’ve been slow to build out a sophisticated advertising product, though in recent months they’ve begun rolling out native ads in the company’s mobile apps. “Jen is a seasoned digital veteran and successful executive at some of the biggest media companies in the world, her experience and vision will help carry Reddit’s momentum forward in the years to come,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a statement.

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If you’ve worked through the amazing selection of games provided by the NES and SNES Classic Editions, you may be in luck: SNK, the legendary arcade game creator behind the likes of Metal Slug and Samurai Shodown, is teasing what looks like its own tiny arcade cabinet. Teased as part of the company’s 40th anniversary, the shrouded gadget definitely doesn’t look like a NEO-GEO, or even a NEO-GEO Pocket. Gizmodo notes that the description mentions a “new game machine,” but no details beyond that. The tall, boxy outline suggests a small arcade cabinet, and the slab in front of it looks a lot like an arcade controller. It wouldn’t be a particularly original creation — there are dozens of tiny arcade cabinets with built-in games, but the truth is none of them is particularly good. They’re novelties, perfectly fun for a laugh, but the hardware – compared with the impressive solidity of real arcade controllers and the NEO-GEO’s itself – just isn’t there. If I had to guess, I’d say this is an arcade cabinet-style console with improved internals, a decent screen to accommodate games newer than 1996, and a separate, perhaps even wireless arcade controller. Price… I’d put it at $200 or $250. Extra controller (and you’ll want it), my guess is $60. I could easily be way off, though. Maybe they’d even let us plug in our old Tanksticks? An original NEO-GEO controller. You can feel the sturdiness from where you sit. Inside, you’ll probably find a generous helping of SNK classics, likely limited to arcade and NEO-GEO titles. Even without SNK’s classic games for home consoles like the NES. My eyes were watering as I scrolled down the list of games the company has put out and which may end up on this device. King of the Monsters 2? Last Resort? Twinkle Star Sprites? King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, and all the other fighters? Not to mention Metal Slug and its sequels. The amount of quarters I’ve sunk into these fantastic, beautiful games is uncountable. If SNK is smart, they’ll make it possible to add new games to the system, too. There are plenty to choose from, as the company catered to a number of niches. Having them available for a few bucks each would be a dream — and anyway, if this isn’t a possibility, people will just hack new ROMs onto the system. Whatever the case is, you can be sure I’m already jockeying for position to review the thing. I’ll let you know the second I hear anything.

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A class-action lawsuit led by a number of Lyft drivers against Uber regarding the alleged “Hell” spying program is moving forward in an amended way. The lawsuit, brought by Lyft driver Michael Gonzales on behalf of other Lyft drivers, alleges Uber wrongfully intercepted the communications and whereabouts of Lyft drivers, and resulted in the loss of revenue. Uber reportedly used Hell to track Lyft drivers to see how many were available to give rides and what their prices were. Hell could allegedly also determine if people were driving for both Uber and Lyft. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley dismissed most of the lawsuit yesterday, but is allowing Lyft drivers to file an amended complaint that pertains to monetary losses as a result of unfair competition. In Judge Corley’s ruling, she determined the plaintiff did not sufficiently argue Uber’s violation of the Wiretap Act via interception of communications. Judge Corley also dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that Uber violated the Stored Communications Act and the California Invasion of Privacy Act. Additionally, Judge Corley dismissed the claim that Uber violated the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act with leave to amend “to the extent Plaintiff can allege facts that plausibly suggest Uber violated a particular subsection of the Act.” While Judge Corley dismissed the majority of the plaintiff’s claims, Gonzales can file an amended complaint specifically pertaining to unfair competition. From the ruling: Plaintiff alleges that by encouraging drivers to use the Uber platform exclusively, and not also drive for Lyft, that reduced the supply of Lyft drivers thereby increasing wait times and causing Lyft drivers to experience decreased earnings; in particular, the longer wait time would cause a passenger to cancel the Lyft request and request a new ride from Uber. (FAC ¶ 9, 101, 102.) These factual allegations, which the Court must accept as true, are sufficient to satisfy the lost money or property requirement of UCL standing. Judge Corley went on to say that Gonzales sufficiently argued he lost revenue as a result of Uber’s attempts to decrease the supply of Lyft drivers. “Whether Plaintiff will be able to prove that allegation is a question for another day,” Judge Corley wrote. This comes after Judge Corley dismissed Gonzales’ original complaint with leave to amend in August. Gonzales then filed an amended complaint seeking similar relief with two additional claims. The added claims alleged Uber violated the Federal Stored Communication Act and the California Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In response, Uber filed a motion to dismiss. I’ve reached out to Uber and will update this story if I hear back.

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Cheddar isn’t done making deals with the over-the-top streaming TV providers. Only yesterday, news came out that Cheddar was the first digital-only network to launch a channel on YouTube’s streaming TV service, YouTube TV. Today, the company is announcing a similar deal with Hulu, which will bring its programming to Hulu’s href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/09/hulu-17m-subscribers/"> more than 17 million subscribers. The new distribution agreement will see Hulu adding Cheddar’s live linear network, plus exclusive morning and afternoon news briefs, key highlights and a selection of Cheddar Originals. This combination of live and on-demand programming will be available to Hulu’s Live TV subscribers, while the daily news briefs and select other content will be made available to Hulu’s on-demand viewers. The on-air channel will launch to Live TV viewers later this month. This is a slightly different deal than the one Cheddar cut with YouTube TV, which was focused more on making Cheddar’s linear programming available to the service’s users. In addition, YouTube TV didn’t only add Cheddar’s flagship business news network, it also added Cheddar’s new general news channel, Cheddar Big News. However, YouTube TV is catering to a younger demographic who may be more familiar with the Cheddar brand, and more attracted to digital networks in general, rather than their cable TV counterparts. That fits well with Cheddar’s own viewership demographics — 1 in 5 millennials (ages 18 through 24) know of Cheddar, and they’re “decades” younger than those who watch traditional news networks, the company notes. For Hulu, the new addition means it’s gaining a network that could make its service more appealing to “cord nevers” — the (often young) group of consumers who are choosing never to sign up for a pay TV subscription in the first place. These users still want access to TV news, though, says Hulu. “Our live TV viewers watched more than 24 million hours of news in the first quarter of 2018, so clearly they are hungry for news content,” said Tim Connolly, SVP, Head of Partnerships and Distribution at Hulu, in a statement about the deal with Cheddar. “We’re happy to partner with a post-cable millennial-focused network like Cheddar to pack even more value into our live offering and give our younger viewers access to a greater, more diverse selection of live news options,” he said. Cheddar has shifted away from consumer-facing subscriptions and is now an ad-supported network. Around 95 percent of revenue comes from ads and sponsorships. The company may be sharing a portion of ad revenue with streamers as part of these deals. Live TV services are only one way Cheddar is being distributed. The company has a number of deals across the web and mobile devices, including on Sling TV, YouTube TV, Philo, Comcast X1, Altice One, Pluto, Molotov in Europe, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, Amazon and elsewhere. This month, it will also launch a show on Snapchat. Thanks to this wide distribution on tech platforms, Cheddar is seeing hundreds of thousands of daily live viewers and hundreds of millions of video views a month on social platforms.

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Meet Daisy. Apple’s latest recycling robot was revealed, not coincidentally, a few days before Earth Day, in a press announcement summing up the company’s recent environmental accomplishments. The new ‘bot is an update to Liam, the recycling robot the company announced back in 2016. Daisy was developed in-house by Apple engineers, using some of Liam’s parts — a recycling of sorts. The industrial robot is able to disassemble nine different versions of the iPhone, sorting all of their reusable components in the process. In all, Daisy is capable of taking apart a full 200 iPhones in a given hour, proving a solid alternative to traditional methods that can destroy valuable components in the process. Any connection to HAL 3000, however, is surely coincidental.  Along with Daisy, Apple’s also using the occasion to announce GiveBack, an addition to its recycling program. For every device customers turn in or trade from now until April 30, the company will make a donation to Conservation International, a Virginia-based environmental nonprofit. Eligible devices will still qualify for an in-store or gift card credit.  For good measure, there’s also a new Apple Watch challenge coming for Earth Day, encouraging people to get outside on Sunday and enjoy the planet. The announcements come a week after Apple announced that it had achieved its goal of powering its global facilities with 100 percent renewable energy.

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We’re less than a month out from TC Sessions: Robotics, and we’ve still got some key names to share with you for the big event. We’ve already announced some of the top names in robotics, including Playground’s Andy Rubin, Boston Dynamics’ Marc Raibert, Ayanna Howard of Zyrobotics, Chris Urmson of Google and U.C. Berkeley professor and SuitX founder, Homayoon Kazerooni. Today we’re excited to add Laura Tyson to the list. Tyson is the Faculty Director, Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley’s Haas Business and Public Policy Group. She has previously served as the Director of the National Economic Council and the Chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers, under President Bill Clinton. Tyson will be joining us to discuss the impact of AI and automation on economics and the human workforce, along with Fetch Robotics CEO, Melonee Wise and more, in a panel moderated by Ars Technica Editor-At-Large and author of Autonomous, Annalee Newitz. In addition to all of our great human speakers, we’ve also got some really exciting robotic demos. U.C. Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg will be bringing along Dex-Net. The system utilizes an off-the-shelf industrial robotic gripper designed by ABB. Trained using a deep neural network and 6.7 million data points, the system is able to perform extremely dextrous pick and place functions — a major hurdle in the world of industrial robotics. Dex-Net will be joined by the some of the industry’s most cutting-edge robots, including Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini and Agility Robotics’ bipedal Cassie. Click here to see the full agenda, workshop schedule, and check out more speakers. Buy your ticket today. Student tickets are just $45 – you can book those here. We’re always on the lookout for great sponsors, connect with us here about sponsorship opportunities for this landmark event.  

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Rare Bits wants to be eBay for the blockchain, where you buy, sell, and trade non-fungible crypto-goods. After CryptoKitties raised $12 million from Andreessen Horowitz last month for its digital collectibles game, there’s been an explosion of interest in the space. But without a popular marketplace, it’s hard to find the goods you want at the right price. Now a team of former Zynga staffers is building out the Rare Bits crypto-collectible auction and commerce site with a $6 million round led by Nabeel Hyatt at Spark Capital, and joined by First Round Capital, David Sacks’ Craft Ventures, and SVAngel. “Because of the Ethereum ledger, for the first time, users can truly own their digital items” says co-founder Amitt Mahajan. “Previously in mobile or social games, virtual items earned through play or by spending money were actually owned by the company operating the game. If they shut down their servers, the items would go away and users would be out of luck. We believe this new asset class represents a paradigm shift in digital property whereby centralized assets will be moved onto decentralized systems” For now, Rare Bits isn’t slapping any extra fees on its marketplace, compared to paying 1 percent to 4 percent on other marketplaces like Open Sea and Wyvern Exchange. Instead, if a crypto-item developer charges a fee on secondary sales, say 5 percent, they’ll split that with Rare Bits for arranging the transaction. Rare Bits lists over 500,000 items from a dozen games, including CryptoPunks, Ether Tulips, CryptoBots, CryptoFighters, Mythereum, and CryptoCelebrities. Users get the benefit of having all their crypto-collectibles in a single wallet. They can see historical pricing before they buy anything thanks to the transparency of the Ethereum ledger, whether they want to “Buy Now” or win an auction. They collectors can also see related items rather than transacting in a vacuum. One item sold for over $10,000, and sales in the 5-10ETH range ($555 each today) aren’t uncommon. Rare Bits founders from left: Danny Lee, Payom Dousti, Dave Pekar, and Amitt Mahajan. Mahajan, Danny Le, and Dave Pekar all met after selling their gaming startups to Zynga. [Disclosure: I know Pekar from college] Their fourth co-founder Payom Dousti worked at crypto VC fund 1/0 Capital and sold his sports analytics startup numberFire to FanDuel. With experience across the gaming, virtual good, and crypto space, Mahajan tells me “We thought long and hard about potentially building blockchain-based games ourselves but ultimately decided that there was a larger opportunity in focusing on crypto-based property as a whole.” The Rare Bits exchange launched in February and did over $100,000 in transactions in its first month. With some CryptoKitties selling elsewhere for as much as $200,000, investors liked the idea of taking a cut of everyone’s transactions rather than just launching another digital trading card. That led Rare Bits to raise a $1 million seed from Macro Ventures and angels like Steve Jang and Robin Chan. As scaling issues threaten to prevent the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains from supporting micropayments and mainstream commerce, new use cases like crypto-collectibles are taking the spotlight. Now with the $6 million Series A, Rare Bits is bringing in some heavyweight angels from the world of gaming. That includes Emmet Shear and Justin Kan, the co-founders of Twitch. Former Dropbox execs and married couple Ruchi Sanghvi and Aditya Agrawal are also in the round, alongside Greenoaks Captial MD Neil Mehta and Channel Factory CEO Tony Chen. The team hopes the runway will help it secure partnerships with developers and creatives to publish new collectibles for the blockchain that have a home on Rare Bits. “While today most of these items are items from games and collectibles, we envision that we will see licenses, tickets, rights, even tokenized physical goods represented as digital assets” Mahajan tells us. “People are viewing these items as assets that can be invested in instead of liabilities that are one way transfers of value towards the developer, it’s one of the major changes in this ecosystem versus traditional virtual items.” Rare Bits will have to deal with the inherent scaling troubles of the Ethereum blockchain it operates on. For now, it’s refunding users the “gas” it costs to execute purchases and sales on its marketplace in a timely manner. Thos range from a few cents to a few dollars depending on network congestion. But Rare Bits could be looking at a steep bill or be forced to push those fees onto users if it gets popular enough. There’s always the danger that CryptoKitties and the like are just the new Beanie Babies — valued today, but worthless when the fad dies. Rare Bits benefits from getting to follow the trend to whatever crypto-collectible is in vogue, and just has to hope the whole concept doesn’t fade. “Our ultimate goal is to convince millions of new people to begin owning and transacting crypto-based property” says Mahajan. But the founders will probably be okay regardless. “Like anyone crazy enough to start a crypto app company this early, we started buying and HODLing BTC and ETH years ago.”

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Walmart announced on Thursday it’s beginning to test new technology that arms store staff with mobile devices for checking out customers from the floor. The devices will first be put into use in Walmart’s “Lawn & Garden Centers” in over 350 U.S. stores, where there’s the most need for a mobile checkout experience like this. Before, customers shopping for items like mulch, soil or flowers may have had to go inside the physical store to pay for their Lawn & Garden purchases, which was often challenging due to the size and weight of these items. Now, th aey’ll be able to pay on the spot with store staff’s help. The new service, which Walmart is calling “Check Out With Me,” involves store employees wearing a small carrying case equipped with a Bluetooth receipt printer. Their cellular device works as the barcode scanner and the credit card swiper for the transactions. Staff assists the customers by scanning large items – like bags of mulch – while it’s still on the shelf, so customers don’t have to load heavy carts and push them through the store. They can just carry them straight to their car parked nearby. This isn’t the first time Walmart has used mobile technology to speed up checkouts. The company also offers Walmart Pay for in-store checkout, which involves scanning a barcode on customers’ phones to pay at the register. And its Sam’s Club warehouse club offers Scan & Go, which lets customers skip the checkout line by scanning items as they shop, then showing their e-receipt at the door on their way out. Upgrades that make checkout quicker are especially important to retailers today in light of increased competition from Amazon, which has now established a physical presence through Whole Foods, its own bookstores, and its new Amazon Go stores. In the latter, customers don’t have to check out at all – cameras, A.I. systems, and sensor technology let them simply grab items and leave. The idea is to offer a faster way for consumers to buy items, while also tying their day-to-day purchases to their Amazon account to get a more holistic view of the shoppers’ habits. Other companies are offering similar systems for other retailers, like AiFi, IMAGR, and Standard Cognition. And Walmart has been said to be testing checkout-free technology as well. In the meantime, Check Out With Me is available in over 350 U.S. stores, starting today.

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Investors, it seems, aren’t entirely soured on the world of 3D printing. The technology is still making progress in the enterprise sector, and Shapeways is certainly continuing to make a case for it in the world of online marketplaces. This morning, the New York-based company announced the closing of a $30 million Series E.  The round, led by  Lux Capital, puts its total funding north of $100 million. That’s no small chunk of change, particularly as 3D printing has lost much of its luster in the consumer world over the past several years. But the company has been a bit of a quiet success in 3D printing, selling the technology as a service along with an Etsy-like online marketplace, rather than attempting to convince early adopters to spend $500-$1,000 on a desktop machine. After a long search, the company appointed Gregory Kress its new CEO, back in February. At the time, he explained his vision of playing a stronger role in the world of hardware prototyping/startup incubation. “We can help them to market it and develop and sustain a small business,” said Kress. “I see Shapeways shifting from delivering one niche of that customer experience to truly helping our creators from almost a platform perspective and allowing us to become a one-stop shop.” Now flush with extra cash, Shapeways is going to take that expansion further. “The capital will be used to accelerate company growth and launch additional services to support Shapeways’ overall vision to become the complete end-to-end platform helping creators ‘design, make, and sell,’ regardless of 3D modeling experience,” the company writes in a press release tied to the funding announcement. That starts with the introduction of the new Design With Shapeways tool, which is designed to walk creators through the 3D printing process, starting with a 3D file, 2D drawing, or even just an idea. The new Spring & Wonder line, meanwhile, offers a hands-on approach to creating personalized jewelry through the service.

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Watchmaker Jaquet Droz announced its Signing Machine – a mechanical device that will sign your name for you using a series of miniature gears and springs – in 2014. Four years later, the company is ready to ship their miraculous contraction just in time for you to ink the deal you’ve made with Cybereus, lord of the digital underworld. This exquisitely baroque gadget is essentially a little cartridge full of clockwork. You wind it up, stick a pencil in its tiny retractable claw, and let it go. The gears and levers recreate your signature with a series of flowing strokes generated by the movement of the gears. Droz, a 18th century watchmaker and automaton manufacturer, was famous for his miraculous contraptions including a Draughtsman and Writer, two human-shaped robots that could draw and write, along with his beautiful singing birds that used tiny pipes and bellows to recreate birdsong. The Signing Machine is activated after you enter your four digit code into the the device and each unit is individually decorated for the owner. How much does this bit of titanium jimcrackery cost? It starts at $367,500 and goes up depending on your signature. Too much? Just remember: making deals with the cryptodemons of the digital underworld isn’t cheap. You’ll need something like this oddly tactical piece of metal to truly widen their hooded, red-shining eyes.

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Helios and Matheson Analytics is looking to push additional capital into its prime and wildly popular asset, MoviePass, by raising money in a new stock sale that appears to be giving Wall Street fits. Looking to raise additional capital, Helios and Matheson said it would sell up to $150 million in a stock sale that essentially seems geared to fund MoviePass’s expansion. Helios and Matheson is the largest shareholder of MoviePass, which is an increasingly popular service for going to watch movies. MoviePass’s parent company saw a sharp decline in its stock price today, with its value dropping around 40% as a result of the announcement. “Helios and Matheson may use the net proceeds from this offering to increase the Company’s ownership stake in MoviePass or to support the operations of MoviePass and MoviePass Ventures; to satisfy a portion or all of any amounts payable in connection with previously issued convertible notes; and for general corporate purposes and transaction expenses,” the company said in the release. “The Company may also use the proceeds to make other acquisitions.” Helios and Matheson recorded a net loss of around $150 million in 2017 (attributed to its acquisition of the majority stake in MoviePass). The company acquired a majority stake in MoviePass toward the end of last year. At the end of 2017, the company had around $25 million in cash and cash equivalents, according to their last annual report. MoviePass allows users to spend around $10 per month to get one ticket to a movie every day, albeit with some strings attached. But it offers a way for theaters to fill seats and still acquire revenue from concessions and other products while allowing viewers to actually get in the door without paying a steep ticket price that might come with that movie.

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Eventbrite has been shopping again in Europe — announcing today that it’s picked up Spanish ticketing firm, Ticketea. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The Madrid-based events discovery and ticketing platform lets people find and book tickets for a variety of live experiences — including festivals, concerts and performing arts shows. It focuses on Spanish speaking countries and small and mid-sized event organizers. Eventbrite said the acquisition will help expand its global footprint in music events, including via the Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Low Festival, and Dreambeach festivals. It also flagged Ticketea’s “robust ecosystem of third-party integrations” — selling tickets for prominent entertainment events and brands, such as The Billy Elliot Musical, Cirque du Soleil, and Museo Nacional del Prado — as another attraction. In a statement on the acquisition Julia Hartz, CEO and co-founder of Eventbrite, lauded Ticketea’s approach to solving the event industry’s challenges — saying its “robust discovery platform” was of interest, along with the company’s “strong leadership position” in the southern European market (not just Spain). “There is incredible synergy between our two companies from a business, platform, and brand perspective,” added Hartz. “We’re thrilled to welcome their talented team, who shares our core mission of bringing people together through live experiences, to the Eventbrite family.” Javier Andres, co-founder and CEO of Ticketea, is joining Eventbrite as country director for Spain and Portugal. “We have been building a significant market presence in Spain for nearly a decade. It’s exciting to be recognized by the global leader in event technology as they invest more heavily in our growing market,” he said in a supporting statement. “We look forward to extending the impact of both our team and technology far beyond country borders, to the more than 180 countries and territories where their powerful platform gives rise to millions of events today.” According to Crunchbase Ticketea has raised just $5.7M since being founded, all the way back in 2009, so its investors — which include Madrid-based VC firm Seaya Ventures — are likely to be patting themselves on the back about a nice little return on their investment. Ticketea is not the only European ticket firm that Eventbrite has bagged in recent years. Last year the billion-dollar event-management platform also acquired Ticketscript, a ticketing startup based out of Amsterdam. In 2017 it also splurged on US-based Nivite, and Ticketfly — picking the latter up from Pandora, and shelling out $200M.

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Rylo wants people to use 360 cameras to capture everything around them, then use software to determine what exactly they want after the fact. Today, the startup is adding a new feature to the app, a new feature to the camera and a new camera effect to keep things interesting on the company’s 360 camera that’s not really a 360 camera. When it comes to functioning like an action camera, there are a few things 360 cams really aren’t suited for. For instance, when you’ve chest-mounted the camera, you can fairly expect that about half of its footage is not going to come out very well. For such situations, Rylo is building a 180-degree mode for its camera. The company said that mode will offer “increased resolution and better image quality.” 180-degree video has earned a few headlines since YouTube introduced a VR180 mode last year with the goal of making an immersive format that did more without forcing creators to reinvent all of the workflows. While Rylo’s single lens take will not be able to do so in 3D, the company’s focus is still more on punching out a traditional letterbox format rather than building content ripe for viewings on VR headsets. For the camera’s timelapse mode, Rylo is also going to be adding a cool new “motion blur” effect that seems pretty apt for creating the perfect montage. Another feature coming to the Rylo will be bluetooth remote capture. This is a fairly expected feature for a 360 camera, and will allow you to start and stop recording from your app over bluetooth. What’s more useful is that users will also be able to switch modes so they can switch to snapping photos or dive into the new 180 mode without physically tapping on the camera itself. These aren’t the biggest feature upgrades in the world, but count them as continued refinements to one of more interesting spherical cameras out there. These updates go live today on the company’s Android and iOS apps.

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Ebay is rolling out an app update designed to make it easier to list items for sale on its online marketplace. Instead of filling out detailed forms on your mobile phone’s small screen, you can now scan the barcode on the item in question or type a description, choose the item’s condition, then click “list your item” to make the listing go live on eBay’s site. After scanning or entering the description, eBay’s app will do a one-to-one match to its catalog to help to fill in the necessary information for that product. It will also offer sellers a pre-populated stock photo, eBay’s price recommendation, and its shipping recommendations, The change is meant to reduce the number of steps it takes to list to a matter of seconds. And if the process is less cumbersome, eBay hopes more people will choose to sell on eBay as opposed to the growing number of resale apps like OfferUp or LetGo, which are currently ranking higher than eBay on Apple’s App Store. Facebook’s Marketplace has also likely had some impact on eBay’s sales, especially in terms of local sales. Despite the increased competition, eBay is still seeing more than 13.4 million listings added to its site every week from the eBay mobile app alone.   The app’s newfound ability to quickly list the item uses technology like structured data and predictive analytics to pre-populate listings with the information required, instead of relying on sellers to type it in themselves. This use of technology is something the company believes is a competitive advantage over newcomers to the space, in addition to its ability to provide access to millions of shoppers around the world. “At eBay, we’re dedicated to delivering a seamless and efficient selling experience for both first-time and seasoned sellers alike,” says Kelly Vincent, eBay’s VP of Consumer Selling Product & Engineering, in a statement about the app’s revamp. “This latest update continues to leverage eBay’s structured data, which helps catalogue the 1.1+ billion items on the platform, to instantaneously populate product details, pricing and shipping information in the listing flow. Not only does the catalogue facilitate a superior listing experience, it enables buyers to easily find the great deals offered by our sellers,” she added. Vincent also noted that eBay’s use of structured data and other new technology will make its way to other products and features this year, but didn’t say what those may be. However, the focus for now seems to be enabling sellers. Ebay’s updated app with the barcode scanning feature for listings is rolling out now on both iOS and Android.

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While Facebook is still struggling to regain user trust following a data fiasco that ultimately brought Zuckerberg to testify in front of Congress, the company still has plenty to do to ready itself for GDPR and appease EU lawmakers. This includes making sure that everything is up to snuff at its virtual reality company, Oculus . The VR company announced today that it will begin rolling out changes, including a user-facing Privacy Center, an updated Terms of Service, and a new Code of Conduct to ensure that VR users operate in a safe environment. A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes The Oculus “My Privacy Center” feature will launch next month on May 20, and will allow users to take a look at the data that Oculus has on them while managing preferences. Users notably won’t be able to see anonymized data that Oculus collects, which includes the in-VR movements that users make with their headsets and controllers. Data also not available for download includes stuff that’s only stored on your device and data like your credit card info that they keep stored securely. The new Code of Conduct forbids users from accessing or promoting sexually explicit content, using hateful or racially offensive language, promoting illegal activities, or harassing other users. Here’s the full list: You may not use or promote sexually explicit, abusive or obscene content. You may not use or promote language or content that would qualify as hateful or racially offensive. We don’t allow content that attacks people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, diseases or disability. You may not harass, bully, threaten other users, or encourage other users to do so. You may not encourage, celebrate or promote real-world violence. You may not encourage or promote illegal activity. You may not impersonate an Oculus employee, partner, representative, other real person or encourage other users to do so. Today, the company posted a blog seeking to answer a few questions ahead of launching the new ToS tomorrow. On the user privacy front, few things have made Oculus users more antsy than the belief that the company was using the rich data it gathered, including data related to how users physically moved their bodes while inside VR, to help Facebook target advertisements to users. In the company’s blog post discussing these changes, they deny this outright early-on. We don’t share data with Facebook that would allow third parties to target advertisements based on your use of the Oculus Platform. While this hardly stresses a long-term commitment to carrying this out, for the time being, advertisers won’t get data related to user’s VR habits while they’re using Oculus platforms. This may not necessarily be the case with VR efforts built wholly beneath the Facebook platform like their social app Spaces. How and why Oculus collects this movement data in the first place was also addressed, with the company stressing that this data is now de-identified and can not be associated with user accounts. We collect the necessary movement and environment data required to deliver an immersive VR experience that is safe, comfortable, and seamless across apps. This could include the gestures you make with controllers or changes in your orientation, as well as the Guardian play space boundaries you provide us with. For example, in an app that lets you view 360° videos, the app needs to know which direction you’re facing in order to ensure the best possible viewing experience. Once this data is processed for its express purpose (ie: to make the app work), it’s de-identified in our systems and not associated with your account. While the value of Facebook’s user data has been abundantly clear, Oculus is far more focused on ensuring that people actually start using VR in the first place, rather than quickly building out a virtual reality ads business. As such, their updated Terms of Service is likely to be less controversial than what’s found in Facebook’s implementation of GDPR-compliant policies. Nevertheless, for a parent company that has repeatedly had to put to rest that it’s not listening to users via their device’s microphones, a platform ripe for dystopia like VR is undoubtedly going to gather more user paranoia as it grows in popularity, and thus more need for the company to transparently communicate what data it does and does not collect. And while it’s easy to see why certain permissions might be needed for an app to function, the important thing is ensuring that parties with access aren’t abusing their access. The company’s “My Privacy Center” sounds like a government-mandated step in the right direction, but as always, it’s best to be skeptical and see where it moves from here.

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mParticle, which helps companies like Airbnb and Spotify manage their customer data, has hired four new executives — including John Sedlak, most recently a vice president at Adobe, who’s joining the company as chief revenue officer. In addition, Kiran Hebbar (formerly CFO of Social Tables) is joining as chief financial officer, Will Rogers (previously an engineer at Etsy) has been named chief information security officer and Aurélie Pols (who worked as data governance and privacy advocate at Krux Digital) is the new data protection officer. Sedlak told me that in his roles at Adobe and Oracle (which he joined through the acquisition of BlueKai), he saw how the big marketing software players are trying to build comprehensive marketing clouds, often created through multiple startup acquisitions. “They would constantly go to market and tout the benefits of the end-to-end stack, when I began to notice that there were many best-of-breed point solutions out there,” he said. “I got to see the power of standalone companies who are innovating ahead of what the big guys were doing. I’d put mParticle on that list.” In the years since I first wrote about mParticle in 2014, a handy acronym has emerged to describe what the company does — CDP, short for customer data platform. Basically, CDPs like mParticle allow companies to unify all their first party data, creating a single view of the customer. Sedlak contrasted mParticle’s approach with older data management platforms, which he said weren’t built to connect customer data across all their interactions on different devices. “They were originally built to ingest first party cookie data coupled with third party data,” he said. “They never fully contemplated the notion of a true cross-device world and I think [co-founders Michael Katz and Andrew Katz] knew that in 2013 and said, ‘You know we’re going to start solving for that now.'” As for what hiring Sedlak will do for the company, he said one of his goals is to bring on even bigger customers: “I think mParticle can drive incremental or discrete value … to Fortune 50 marketers who I personally have done business with in the past, where I see an opportunity for us to significantly augment their current investments in the marketing cloud platforms.” CEO Michael Katz, meanwhile, pointed out that that two of these hires are focused on security. With the recent Facebook scandals discussions and Europe’s adoption of GDPR protections, there’s “a really healthy conversation around the importance of data control and governance,” and he said these hires will help mParticle build the tools that allow businesses to “put customer privacy and data security at the forefront of their business practice.”

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Motorola’s phones aren’t always the flashiest, but there sure are a lot of them. And today, there are even more. The Lenovo-owned brand is launching not one, but four new handsets for your budget-phone-buying pleasure. The new handsets were launched at an event in São Paulo, Brazil. We, sadly, were not there. Instead, we played around with the things at an event in New York City, where it’s currently 40 degrees in mid-April. No one ever said this job would be easy — or involve getting a tan. The Moto E5 handsets are the flashiest of the bunch. There’s no set price on the handsets yet, but they’ll probably warrant a higher premium than the other new devices. The difference in build quality is immediately apparent right off the bat, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of a shiny Gorilla Glass 3 backing in blue, black or gray. The phone comes in two sizes — 5.2-inch for the E5 Play and 6-inch on the more premium E5 Plus. The latter will only be available here in the U.S., bringing with it a beefy 5,000mAh battery and a pair of rear-facing cameras in a circular formation that will look familiar to anyone who’s picked up a Moto Z. The dual camera configuration allows for some neat tricks, like better faux bokeh in portrait mode and the ability to create combination black and white and color images. Motorola, well, Lenovo, has also invested in a bunch of first-party camera software, including a small selection of built-in AR overlays and some Google Lens-like tricks, including the ability to scan text. The camera setup isn’t going to win any awards, but Motorola continues to bring impressive features to its budget devices. That said, no price has been announced for either version of the E5. We do, however, have prices for the Moto G6 and G6 Play. Those will run $249 and $199, respectively. The phones are still pretty chunky — no surprise there, given the price — though Motorola has adopted a few premium features here, including, notably, a move toward the 18:9 aspect ratio for their 5.7-inch displays. The G6, naturally, has the leg up here, at 1080p to the Play’s 780p. The Play actually sports the larger battery of the two, at 4,000mAh to the G6’s 3,000. Both versions also support Fast Charging, though the G6 does it through USB-C, while the Play is still holding onto microUSB for dear life. All of the above also still have their headphone jacks intact. Motorola was one of the first companies to drop it on its premium Z line, but the company is smartly keeping the port around on its budget devices. All of the above will be available later this season at “major carriers” in the U.S. and Canada. Surely it won’t be 40 degrees by then.

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Nearly 200 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada are actively recruiting for esports scholarships. But unlike other sports, there is currently no real infrastructure for high school esports. PlayVS, a Science-backed startup out of Los Angeles, is looking to change that. Founded by Delane Parnell, PlayVS has signed an exclusive contract with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS) to provide support in building the infrastructure for high school esports, allowing students to play esports on behalf of their school all the way to the state championship level. Most of us have participated in high school sports in some way, but many of us aren’t aware of all the moving parts going on behind the scenes. The NFHS, essentially the NCAA of high school sports and activities, handles those moving parts for more than 90 percent of schools in the U.S. across almost every sport. From writing the rules to referees to building out the districts and conferences to organizing the state playoff tournaments, the NFHS has almost 100 years of experience across hundreds of sports and activities handling organization. But esports represents a new challenge for the governing body, requiring more technical infrastructure than established sports. That’s where PlayVS comes in. The company has built a website that handles league organization, scheduling, leaderboards and more. Plus, PlayVS has existing relationships with the game publishers, letting the platform pull stats in real-time from each high school match. There will be two seasons each year, with students organizing their own teams at their school for a variety of games. High school teams go to the PlayVS website to see their schedule and log on for their game (which is played on the publisher client). Eight season matches will be played online, with the top teams competing in a LAN tournament in front of a live spectator audience organized by PlayVS. PlayVS is also partnering with NFHS Network, a live streaming platform for high school sports, to broadcast some of the games to spectators. As it stands now, colleges and esports organizations have to rely on relationships with publishers and tournament results to get a clear view of the top young talent. But there are surely many players slipping through the cracks. With the new high school esports league powered by PlayVS, colleges and esports orgs will be able to use the PlayVS platform to see real-time stats and player profiles. Plus, the PlayVS site allows coaches and recruiters to request an introduction to the student’s parents and/or coach to start talking scholarships. To start, the high school esports leagues will be PC only games in three genres: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, Fighting and Sports games. The first season will start in the fall.

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It might just be time for Intel admit that’s not great at this whole wearables thing. A few months after their flashy online debut, the Vaunt smart glasses are dead, the chipmaker has confirmed. Some things, it seems, are just too beautiful to live — or receive sufficient investment from their parent company. The news originally surfaced via a report from The Information, which also notes that this reportedly marks the final nail in the long, drawn out of death of the company’s New Devices Group. The department appears to have been struggling for a while now — in late 2016, the group was hit with layoffs, and ultimately some key projects in its hardware pipeline, including the latest Basis fitness tracker. This latest move is likely to result in “some layoffs” to the 200 person team, according to the source. The company confirmed the end of Vaunt (codenamed Superlight) in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market,” Intel writes. “The Superlight project is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don’t support further investment.”  It is, indeed, a tough call to make. Intel’s been pretty open about its failure to sufficiently embrace mobile the first time around, losing significant marketshare to companies like Qualcomm. Intel has certainly made its share of investments in hopes of owning a share of wearable tech, but none have really paid off, and with the category plateauing a bit over the past year, it’s probably a good time to cut its losses. The Vaunt seemed promising, but the online glimpse we got of the product of one didn’t appear to be fully thought out. Of course, companies experiment with hardware prototypes all the time — but most of these things never see the light of day.

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Commodity trading is a very old industry which focuses on raw materials, like lead or copper, that are worth hundreds of billions. These materials are constantly moving from producers to consumers in a global market worth about $80bn, but it often lacks efficiency and transparency. Meanwhile, intermediaries make a lot of money just by acting as the middlemen. That’s where blockchain could, in theory, be applied, but introducing great transparency. Open Mineral, a physical commodities trading platform, has now closed an investment round ($2.25 million) to do just that. The idea is to increase the efficiency of the market for base and precious metal raw materials using blockchain. Its digital platform, Open Mineral Exchange, will bring together sellers and buyers, mining and metals companies, allowing them to transact directly and securely, without intermediaries. It will also digitize and streamline the complicated and paper-heavy process. These newer trading platforms for physical commodities have been appearing in the last couple of years. Tradecloud, for example, addresses the refined metal market, while Metalshub focuses on ferroalloys. None of the current platforms use blockchain. The Open Mineral model will rely on a success-based fee which will depend on the value/chemical composition of the material and the volume transacted. The platform currently focuses on zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver concentrate markets, but could expand into other concentrates in the future. Open Mineral became the first startup to join Thomson Reuters Incubator based in Zug, which is famously spinning out blockchain startups. Investors include Goldcorp, Canadian gold mining company, and Xploration Capital. The company is founded by Boris Eykher and Ilya Chernilovskiy. Before co-founding Open Mineral, Eykher and Chernilovskiy both worked at Glencore, the largest commodity trading house in the world. The company is headquartered in Baar, Switzerland with operations in Beijing, Lima, and Moscow.

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Lyft, recognizing the impact of its ride-hailing platform on the environment, is making a “multi-million” dollar investment in carbon offsets. Within the first year of this effort, Lyft says it expects to be able to offset about one million metric tons of carbon. “The stark reality is that transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in a blog post. “As a growing part of the transportation ecosystem, we are holding ourselves accountable to being part of the solution.” Lyft is doing this in partnership with 3Degrees. In general, some carbon offset solutions entail capturing and destroying methane from landfills and animal manure, as well as sustainable forestry that absorbs carbon from forests. Lyft, however, is specifically putting its money toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from an automotive parts manufacturing process in Michigan, hydrodec oil recycling in Ohio and other projects. For a lot of people, Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing companies effectively act as stand-ins for public transport, biking or even walking. In New York City, the volume of people using Lyft, Uber and other ride-hailing apps tripled to 500,000 rides per day since 2015, according to a 2016 report from Schaller Consulting. That increased trip volume and mileage resulted in the addition of about 550 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent of energy consumption emissions from more than 26,000 homes in one year. Until autonomous ride-hailing networks hit the mainstream, more rides means more miles driven, which means a greater carbon footprint.

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Music and visual art creation VR startup TheWaveVR just wrapped a $6 million Series A round and when all was said and done, it seemed appropriate for the team to actually sign the term sheet with their lead investor inside virtual reality. The round, led by RRE Ventures, brings the startup’s total funding to $10 million. Upfront Ventures, KPCB, Greycroft VR Gaming Tracker Fund and The VR Fund also participated in the raise. The whole gist of the startup is that it’s one big futuristic music festival that never sleeps inside virtual reality. DJs can craft a set on stage and users can teleport around a giant “outdoor” venue while watching light shows that blow up the sky night-after-night. The Austin-based company had a huge opportunity recently at SXSW where it hosted one of the largest promo events for Stephen Spielberg’s Ready Player One film, a massive virtual reality concert straight out of the movie, filled with Warner Brothers IP and featuring a live DJ set led by the film’s star, Tye Sheridan. At a time when many VR startups are still trying to live up to the sky-high expectations that films like Ready Player One have set, TheWaveVR remains one of the few that takes on those expectations and still manages to dazzle, delivering an experience that feel distinctly futuristic while drenching users in souped-up visuals that intertwine the emotion and connectedness of social VR with music that’s actively being created within the app. The challenge for the startup will likely be growing their product in a way that stays true to the core mission while chasing a larger presence inside an already-tight, niche community. The company’s “Wave Builder” feature allows users to bring in 3D models, animations and made-in-VR content to create visual experiences that can accompany the musical performances inside the app. “We spent last year nailing down the format for these fully interactive concerts and proved people love our experience; this year we’re focused on how that content gets created and shared,” CEO Adam Arrigo said in a release. The team is maintaining a lean existence as it aims to keep enough cash on hand to weather another few years in the growth phase of VR. While the startup’s seed round came at a time where a host of virtual reality companies were seeming to get funded every other day, slower-than-expected headset sales have made investor cash a bit harder to come by in 2018. Arrigo seems optimistic that the timelines are finally starting to grow more solid, and that already-announced standalone products from companies like Oculus and HTC will begin to broaden appeal and shape VR into something more friendly and accessible. In the meantime, it’s business as usual, which for TheWaveVR means hanging out with flying cats and raving to EDM light shows.

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