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MyBuddy.ai, a virtual tutor for kids learning English, raises $1 million seed round

Startup News - 5 hours 35 min ago

MyBuddy.ai, a startup that develops virtual tools to help kids learn English, announced today that it has raised $1 million in seed funding from LETA Capital. The capital will be used to expand into new markets and develop new features including mini-classes about health.

The San Francisco-based company’s app features a AI-based virtual tutor called Buddy who coaches kids through a series of exercises. According to MyBuddy.ai, there are 500 million children around the world who want to learn English, but don’t have someone to practice the language with. It claims that its app has been downloaded more than one million times since launching two years ago.

In a press statement, MyBuddy.ai co-founder and CEO Ivan Crewkov said, “The demand for online education is rising sharply due to the pandemic. This has exacerbated the chronic shortage of qualified English language teachers needed for half a billion kids struggling to learn English as a second language. Our AI-powered tutor Buddy can handle the mundane part of their work. He provides unlimited practice of spoken English, can scale to millions of students and is always available.”

Last month, MyBuddy.ai merged with Edwin, an edtech startup that also focuses on learning English for non-native speakers and whose investors include General Catalyst, Y Combinator and Google Assistant Investments Program. Edwin’s products included a chatbot based on adaptive learning and natural language understanding AI, and an on-demand tutoring service. The combined company kept the name MyBuddy.ai and is focused on integrating technology from both startups into the Buddy app.

Categories: Business News

Business <b>VoIP</b> Market 2020 Size By Product Types, End-Users, Regional Outlook, Growth Potential ...

Google News - VoIP - 8 hours 55 min ago
Dataintelo offers a latest published report on Global Business VoIP Market industry analysis and forecast 2019–2025 delivering key insights and ...
Categories: VoIP News

Business <b>VoIP</b> Services Market Trends, Top Manufactures, Business <b>VoIP</b> Services Market ...

Google News - VoIP - 10 hours 59 min ago
The Business VoIP Services market report provides a detailed analysis of this business space. The market is analyzed in terms of production as well ...
Categories: VoIP News

Hong Kong startup Neat raises $11 million Series A to give small companies more financial services

Startup News - 11 hours 6 min ago

Neat, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup, announced today that it has raised a $11 million Series A to help small businesses do cross-border trade. The round was led by Pacific Century Group, with participation from Visa and MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia, and returning investors Dymon Asia Ventures, Linear Capital and Sagamore Investments.

Neat also announced a strategic partnership with Visa, which means that in the next few months Neat will start issuing Visa credit cards to SMEs and startups.

This brings Neat’s total funding to $16.5 million, including its seed round announced at the end of 2018.

Like San Francisco-based Brex, which achieved a $2.6 billion valuation last year, Neat focuses on giving startups and small businesses a more efficient, online alternative to traditional banking.

Its services allow them to open business accounts for multiple currencies online, send and receive payments from different countries and apply for corporate credit cards. Neat’s new funding will be used for expansion, with a focus on Southeast Asian customers that do trade with European companies. Last year it opened a Shenzhen office to serve Chinese export businesses, as well as an office in London for Western European companies that trade in China.

Neat co-founder and CEO David Rosa told TechCrunch that businesses are still looking to digitize more of their operations despite the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Neat is serving entrepreneurs around the world that trade with Asia. Before they may have fitted visits to the bank into their business trips to Hong Kong, this is no longer an option,” he said.

Neat is a challenger bank for early-stage startups and SMEs

Corporate credit cards can be difficult for startups and SMEs to get because they typically need about three years of audited financials to qualify even for low spending limits, Rosa said. Employees often cannot get a corporate card because their managers do not have the tools to control their spending limits, making reimbursement more difficult. Neat’s partnership with Visa aims to solve many of the problems they encounter (it also offers a Neat Mastercard). In the future, Neat will launch tools for automated payroll, accounting and logistics.

In a statement, MassMutual Ventures managing director Ryan Collins said, “We’re proud to support Neat in the company’s vision to support entrepreneurs. There is a clear demand for better financial products for SMEs, especially when it comes to cross-border payments and trade, and we’re confident that Neat’s passionate and innovative team will deliver.”

Categories: Business News

<b>VoIP</b>-Pal targets Apple&#39;s FaceTime, iMessage in renewed patent infringement battle

Google News - VoIP - 11 hours 44 min ago
VoIP-Pal, which brandishes a portfolio of voice over IP-related patents, on Tuesday filed a new lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company's ...
Categories: VoIP News

<b>VoIP</b> Provider Services Market Worldwide Industry Share, Size, Gross Margin, Trend, Future ...

Google News - VoIP - 12 hours 21 min ago
The VoIP Provider Services market report is a detailed evaluation of this industry sphere. According to the report, the industry will garner modest ...
Categories: VoIP News

Tyto Care raises $50 million as it looks to buy and build new services during COVID-19 demand surge

Startup News - 13 hours 6 min ago

Tyto Care, the provider of a home health diagnostic device and telemedicine consultation app, said it has raised $50 million in a new round of funding.

The round was led by Insight Partners, Olive Tree Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures, according to a statement, and brings the startup’s total capital raised to more than $105 million.

The funding comes just as Tyto has seen a dramatic surge in demand brought on by the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyto Care’s toolkit is being used as a telehealth diagnostic solution that was already seeing three times sales growth in 2019 alone.

Last year, the company inked a deal with Best Buy and works with most of the major telemedicine providers, including American Well, Teladoc and others.

Previous investors Orbimed, Echo Health, Qure, Teuza and others also participated in the new financing, the company said in a statement.

With the financing, Tyto Care is well-positioned to both buy and build new tools based on its existing diagnostics platform, as well as expand its home health testing kit into new areas.

Companies like Scanwell Health are providing at-home diagnostic tests for things like urinary tract infections, and Tyto Care chief executive Dedi Gilad definitely sees options for new products around different kinds of at-home tests, the Tyto Care founder said in an interview.

All of this new capital comes with surging demand where Tyto Care’s telehealth technology is being used by every hospital in Israel to provide remote examinations of quarantined and isolated patients infected with COVID-19. Other hospital networks are also turning to the company’s diagnostics tools for similar applications, the company said.

The remote medical exams can protect health providers from exposure to SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and enables uninfected patients to get an examination of their basic health remotely, without needing to go to a medical facility.

“Over the past two years, Tyto Care has increased momentum faster than ever before and is playing a leading role in changing how people receive healthcare. Telehealth is heeding the call of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are proud that our unique solution is aiding health systems and consumers around the world in the fight against the virus,” said Gilad, in a statement. “This new funding comes at a pivotal moment in the evolution of telehealth and will enable us to continue to transform the global healthcare industry with the best virtual care solutions.”

Categories: Business News

Restaurant management platform Toast cuts 50% of staff

Startup News - 13 hours 15 min ago

Last valued at $5 billion, restaurant management platform Toast has joined the sweep of startups laying off employees due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toast reduced the size of its staff by 50% through layoffs and furloughs, according to a blog post from Toast’s CEO, Chris Comparato. It also reduced executive pay across the board, froze hiring, halted bonuses and pulled back offers.

The company’s flagship product helps restaurants process payments and handle orders through a mix of hardware and software. Think handheld ordering pads, self-service kiosks and display systems for kitchens. It also connects businesses to food delivery services like Grubhub.

Toast sits on the bridge between two industries in the spotlight, for better or worse, right now: restaurants and fintech. But restaurants have been hit hard as eateries were forced to close down due to state mandates, or to simply promote social distancing. As a result, fintech companies that help restaurants work better and depend on foot traffic are seeing less transaction volume.

Comparato, in the blog post, cited how restaurant revenue broadly took a huge hit in March, which naturally trickled down to Toast’s operations.

“With limited visibility into how quickly the industry may recover, and facing slower than anticipated growth, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of reducing our headcount,” he wrote. He noted that before the pandemic hit, Toast revenue grew 109% in 2019. In an interview with Crunchbase News in February, chief financial officer Tim Barash said that the company’s goal in the next few years is to go public.

The Toast employees laid off were offered a “severance package, benefits coverage, mental health support, and an extended window during which they can purchase vested stock options,” the blog post detailed. Toast is also developing a program to help those laid off or furloughed look for new roles, a move that mimics other efforts we’ve seen across the startup world.

Investors in Toast include TCV, Tiger Global Management, Bessemer Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates.

Categories: Business News

<b>VOIP</b>-Pal Sues Facebook For Patent Infringement Over WhatsApp

Google News - VoIP - 14 hours 44 min ago
VOIP-Pal has filed a complaint against Facebook, et al. for patent infringement. They claim that they have improved IP communication through its ...
Categories: VoIP News

New email service, OnMail, will let recipients control who can send them mail

Startup News - 15 hours 14 min ago

A number of startups over the years have promised to re-invent email only to have fallen short. Even Google’s radical re-imagining, the Inbox app, finally closed up shop last year. Today, another company is announcing its plans to build a better inbox. Edison Software is preparing to launch OnMail, a new email service that lets you control who enters your inbox. This is handled through a new blocking feature called Permission Control. The service is also introducing a number of other enhancements, like automatic read receipt and tracker blocking, large attachment support, fast delivery, and more.

Edison is already home to the popular third-party email app, Edison Mail.

Edison Mail is designed to work with your existing email, like your Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, or iCloud email, for example, among others. OnMail, however, is a new email service where users will be assigned their own email account at @onmail.com when the product debuts later this summer.

At launch, the web version of OnMail will work in a number of browsers. It will also work in the existing Edison Mail apps for Mac, iOS, and Android.

 

The biggest idea behind OnMail is to create a better spam and blocking system.

Though Gmail, Outlook.com, and others today do a fairly decent job at automatically filtering out obvious spam and phishing attempts, our inboxes still remain clogged with invasive messages — newsletters, promotions, shopping catalogs, and so on. We may have even signed up for these at some point. We may have even tried to unsubscribe, but can’t get the messages to stop.

In other cases, there are people with our email address who we’d rather cut off.

The last time Gmail took on this “clogged inbox” problem was in 2013 when it unveiled a redesigned inbox that separated promotions, updates, and emails from your social media sites into separate tabs. OnMail’s premise is that we should be able to just ban these emails entirely from our inbox, not just relocate them.

OnMail’s “Permission Control” feature allows users to accept or decline a specific email address from being able to place mail in your inbox. This is a stronger feature than Edison Mail’s “Block Sender” or “Unsubscribe” as a declined sender’s future emails will never hit your inbox — well, at least not in a way that’s visible to you.

In technical terms, declined senders are being routed to a folder called “Blocked.” But this folder isn’t displayed anywhere in the user interface. The blocked emails won’t get pulled up in Search, either. It really feels like the unwanted mail is gone. This is all done without any notification to the sender — whether that’s a human or an automated mailing list.

If you ever want to receive emails from the blocked senders again, the only way to do so will be by reviewing a list of those senders you’ve banned from within your Contacts section and make the change. You can’t just dig into a spam folder to resurface them.

In another update that puts the needs of the receiver above those of the sender, OnMail will remove all information sent from any invisible tracking pixels.

Today, most savvy email users know to disable images in their Gmail or other mail apps that allow it, so their email opens are not tracked. But OnMail promises to remove this tracking without the need to disable the images.

“We view pixel tracking as this horrific invasion of privacy and this is why we block all read receipts,” noted Edison Co-Founder and CEO, Mikael Berner. “The sender will never know that you opened their email,” he says.

Other promised features include an improved Search experience with easy filtering tools, support for large attachments, enhanced speed of delivery, and more.

Edison says it’s been working to develop OnMail for over two years, after realizing how broken email remains.

Today, U.S. adults still spend over 5 hours per day in our inboxes and feel like they’ve lost control. Tracking pixels and targeted ads are now common to the email experience. And searching for anything specific requires complicated syntax. (Google only recently addressed this too, by adding filters to Gmail search — but just for G Suite users for now.)

It may be hard for people who have set up shop for 10 or 20 years in the same inbox to make a switch. But there’s always a new generation of email users to target — just like Gmail once did.

And now that Gmail has won the market with over 1.5 billion active users, its innovations have slowed. Every now and then Gmail throws a bone — as with 2018’s debut of Smart Compose, for example — but it largely considered the email problem solved. A little fresh competition is just the thing it needs.

“We’ve invested years as a company working to bring back happiness to the inbox,” said Berner, in a statement. “OnMail is built from the ground up to change mail. Nobody should fear giving out their address or have to create multiple accounts to escape an overcrowded mailbox,” he said.

OnMail’s premise sounds interesting. However, its software is not yet live so none of its claims can be tested at this time. But based on Edison’s history with its Edison Mail app, it has a good handle on design and understanding what features email users need.

Currently, OnMail is open only to sign-ups for those who want to claim their spot on its platform first. Like Gmail once did, OnMail will send out invites when the service becomes available. Unlike Gmail, OnMail won’t be ad-supported, but will eventually offer free and paid versions of its service.

 

Categories: Business News

Dear Sophie: Is unemployment considered a public benefit?

Startup News - 16 hours 16 min ago
Sophie Alcorn Contributor Share on Twitter Sophie Alcorn is the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley and 2019 Global Law Experts Awards’ “Law Firm of the Year in California for Entrepreneur Immigration Services.” She connects people with the businesses and opportunities that expand their lives. More posts by this contributor

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie: I have an H-4 visa and work authorization. I currently have a job that’s considered nonessential during the coronavirus emergency. If I get laid off, I would need unemployment assistance while I look for another job.

Would getting unemployment benefits hurt my or my spouse’s green card petition under the new public charge rule?

— Nonessential in NorCal

Dear Nonessential:

Thanks for your timely question. The short answer is no, getting unemployment benefits alone right now won’t jeopardize your or your spouse’s green card. This is because receiving unemployment benefits, getting tested for coronavirus and seeking emergency medical treatment (even if it’s covered by Medicaid) are all exempt from consideration as government benefits under the new public charge rule.

Immigration officials have long had the authority to deny individuals a visa or green card if they are likely to be dependent on public benefits. The new public charge rule, which went into effect on February 24, expands the factors immigration officials will consider. An additional form seeking health and financial information must now be submitted with most visa and green card applications. Immigration officials will use that information to determine whether applicants are or are likely to become dependent on government benefits.

If you have received a public benefit in the past, your application won’t necessarily be denied, but given what’s at stake, it’s important to consult an experienced immigration attorney.

Individuals who will be subjected to the increased scrutiny of the expanded public charge rule are:

Categories: Business News

Dallas Schools Seeks STEM and CTE Curricula; Pennsylvania District Buying <b>VoIP</b> System

Google News - VoIP - 16 hours 25 min ago
The Dallas ISD is purchasing STEM and CTE curricula. The Katy ISD in Texas seeks software products, and a Pennsylvania district is buying school ...
Categories: VoIP News

Meeting the challenge of keeping in touch

Google News - VoIP - 16 hours 59 min ago
... voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) service to teachers, students, healthcare providers, news and media, public sector and nonprofit organizations.
Categories: VoIP News

Relativity Space’s focus on 3D printing and cloud-based software helps it weather the COVID-19 storm

Startup News - 17 hours 17 min ago

Just like in almost every other industry, there’s been a rash of layoffs among newer space startups and companies amid the novel coronavirus crisis. But Relativity Space has managed to avoid layoffs — and is even hiring, despite the global pandemic. Relativity CEO and founder Tim Ellis cites the company’s focus on large-scale 3D printing and its adoption of cloud-based tools and technologies as big reasons why his startup hasn’t felt the pinch.

Because Relativity’s forthcoming launch vehicle is almost entirely made up of 3D-printed parts, from the engines to the fuselage and everything in between, the company has been able to continue producing its prototypes essentially uninterrupted. Relativity has been classified an essential business, as have most companies operating in anything related to aerospace or defense, but Ellis said that they took steps very early to address the potential threat of COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of their staff. As early as March 9, when the disease was really first starting to show up in the U.S. and before any formal restrictions or shelter-in-place orders were in effect, Relativity was recommending that employees work from home where possible.

“We’re able to do that, partially because with our automated printing technology we were able to have very, very few people in the factory and still keep printers running,” Ellis said in an interview. “We actually even have just one person now running several printers that are still actually printing — it’s literally a single person operating, while a lot of the company has been able to make progress working from home for the last couple of weeks.”

Being able to run an entire production factory floor with just one person on-site is a tremendous competitive advantage in the current situation, and a way to ensure you’re also respecting employee health and safety. Ellis added that the company has already been operating between multiple locations, including teams at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as well as at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and at its headquarters in LA. Relativity also had a further distributed workforce with a few employees working remotely from locations across the U.S, and it focused early on ensuring that its design and development processes could work without requiring everyone to be centrally based.

“We’ve developed our own custom software tools to just streamline those workflows, that really helped,” Ellis said. “Also, just being more of a cloud-enabled company, while still complying with ITAR and security protocols, has been really, really advantageous as well.”

In addition to their focus on in-house software and cloud-based tools, Ellis credits the timing of their most recent round — a $140 million investment closed last October — as a reason they’re well-situated for enduring the COVID-19 crisis. He says that Relativity not only managed to avoid any layoffs, while sending out new offers, but they’re also still paying all employees, including hourly workers, their full regular wage. All of this stems from a business model that in retrospect, seems prescient, but that Ellis says actually just has significant advantages in today’s global business climate by virtue of chance. Still, he does believe that some of Relativity’s resilience thus far signals some of the biggest lasting changes that will result from the coronavirus pandemic.

“What it’s really going to change […] is the approach to global supply chain,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a big push to have more things made in America, and then less dependence on heavy globalization across supply chain. That’s one you thing we’ve always had with 3D printing — not only is it an automated technology, where we can have very few operators still making progress even during times like like this and printing some of the first-stage structures of our rocket — but on the supply chain side, just having simpler supply chains with fewer vendors and different types of manufacturing processes means it’s much less likely that we’ll see very significant supplier and supply chain interruptions.”

Meanwhile, while Ellis says that ultimately they can’t predict how the coronavirus crisis will impact their overall schedule in terms of planned launch activities, which includes flying their first 3D-printed vehicle in 2021, they anticipate being able to make plenty of progress through remote work and a production line that can easily comply with social isolation guidelines. Partner facility shutdowns, including the rocket engine test stand at Stennis, will definitely have an impact, but Relativity’s resilience could prove a model for manufacturing businesses of all stripes to emulate once this moment has passed.

Categories: Business News

COVID-19: Unblock Voice Over IP Platforms in Gulf

Google News - VoIP - 17 hours 55 min ago
However, popular VoIP apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime remain blocked despite persistent calls from citizens and residents living in the ...
Categories: VoIP News

Mobile website builder Universe raises $10M from GV as it ventures into commerce

Startup News - 18 hours 38 min ago

A startup that has framed itself as an Instagram for websites is now squaring up against Shopify as it nabs new funding from Google’s venture capital arm.

Brooklyn-based Universe has just closed a $10 million Series A from GV. The funding round was well in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold stateside; nevertheless, CEO Joseph Cohen definitely sounded relieved to have everything signed.

“Hopefully, it’ll take some weight off their shoulders that may have been there otherwise,” said GV general partner M.G. Siegler, who led the deal and is taking a seat on their board.

Universe, an Instagram for building mobile websites, nabs funding from YC

When the team launched out of YC two years ago, the initial aim was to be the go-to short link for young people and creatives to stick in their Instagram bios. The mobile app allowed users to create very basic landing pages, allowing them to type up some text, toss up photos and arrange their creation across a couple of web pages.

As the startup matures and looks to home in on a more robust business model, they’re now looking to build an incredibly low-friction commerce platform. Users can add a shopping “block” to their site, add a photo, description and price and then start accepting orders.

“We’ve gone from a landing page builder to a full-fledged website builder,” Cohen told TechCrunch in an interview.

Universe is going after what Cohen calls “very small businesses.” This could be an artist selling prints, a yoga instructor charging for Zoom classes or one of their latest customers, a farmer selling live bait. “These are people who don’t work at desks,” Cohen says.

Shopify has been one of the biggest tech success stories of the past several years, but Cohen sees weaknesses for Universe to capitalize on. Shopify is “complex and not mobile-first,” he says. Universe not only doesn’t require a developer to implement, it doesn’t seem to require someone that’s particularly tech-savvy.

The price of simplicity for the end user is a hefty cut for Universe. At launch, the company isn’t taking a percentage for the first $1,000 of a customer’s revenue, but will take a 10% slice thereafter, a number that’s notably multiples higher than the rates of competitors.

Cohen acknowledges that if a business succeeds, this can be a significant expense for them, one that might push them to another platform. He say that he wants to figure out a model that can help his startup “grow and scale” with their customers, but he didn’t offer up any details on what that might look like.

The team is still working with free and paid “pro” tiers that offer advanced features like analytics. Commerce features will be available for both tiers.

Universe has raised $17 million to date. Other investors include Javelin Venture Partners, General Catalyst and Greylock Partners.

We chatted with GV’s M.G. Siegler about closing this deal and how his role as an investor has shifted since the current crisis took hold. You can read that interview on Extra Crunch.

GV’s M.G. Siegler on portfolio management, crisis fundraising and his latest investment

Categories: Business News

GV’s M.G. Siegler on portfolio management, crisis fundraising and his latest investment

Startup News - 18 hours 39 min ago

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed entrepreneurs and investors into unknown territory.

Google’s GV just led a $10 million investment in Universe, a low-friction website builder that’s venturing into the world of commerce.

Mobile website builder Universe raises $10M from GV as it ventures into commerce

The investment was in the works before COVID-19 hit America in force, but things were finalized for the Brooklyn startup in late March. I chatted with M.G. Siegler, the general partner at GV (and former TechCrunch writer) who led the deal, about how the crisis was affecting his investment work and how he was balancing portfolio work with sourcing new deals.

This interview has edited for length and clarity.

TechCrunch: This deal sounds like it was in the works before pandemic concerns really hit America, but when you saw this situation arise, did it change your thinking about this deal at all?

M.G. Siegler: The reality is we’re still going to be continuing to look for interesting opportunities to invest in. History has shown that even during great financial turmoil, many companies are still being built, although it’s certainly not easy for anyone, given that we’re all stuck inside and trying to make things work. I think Universe is in an interesting spot; they have a tool that can potentially help some of these struggling businesses move online quicker and create commerce opportunities that they really need to think about given the current realities.

So there’s no thought that we shouldn’t do something just because of the current macro environment if we’re really passionate about it to begin with. Obviously, there’s varying degrees of that for different sectors, but I do think that Universe had been in a great position before this situation, and it seems like they have different opportunities now.

Categories: Business News

Verizon Business keeps enterprises&#39; wheels turning in face of COVID-19

Google News - VoIP - 18 hours 51 min ago
And for VOIP just adding trunks has been massive. In fact, there was one client where we added almost 1,700 trunk groups in a day. "Typically ...
Categories: VoIP News

Comcast reports more than 30% spike in peak web traffic during coronavirus pandemic

Google News - VoIP - 19 hours 14 min ago
... and voice over the internet, known as VOIP. “In fact, our video conference and our VOIP usage is up 212% since the beginning of March,” he said.
Categories: VoIP News

Global <b>VoIP</b> Providers Market Report, Size and Forecast 2020-2026, Breakdown Data by ...

Google News - VoIP - 19 hours 39 min ago
Global VoIP Providers Market Report, Size and Forecast 2020-2026, Breakdown Data by Companies, Key Regions, Types & Application. April 7, 2020. 4 ...
Categories: VoIP News

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