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Why Vonage Stock Just Popped 15%

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 19 - 4:07am
Shares of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) telephony provider Vonage Holdings (NASDAQ: VG) leapt out of the gate as trading resumed ...
Categories: VoIP News

Secret’s founder returns with anti-loneliness app Ikaria

Startup News - 2020, February 19 - 3:31am

“I don’t feel good about that. That sucks,” Chrys Bader-Wechseler reflects when asked about the bullying that went down on the anonymous app Secret he co-founded in 2013. After $35 million raised, 15 million users and a spectacular flame out two years later, the startup was dead. “Since I left Secret I feel alive and aligned with my values and my purpose again.” 

But there was one bright side to Secret letting you post without a name or consequences. People opened up, got vulnerable and felt less alone when comments revealed they weren’t the only person dealing with a certain struggle. What Bader learned from watching Secret’s users “do this in the dark” was the realization that “actually, we need to learn to do this in the light, to have that same kind of dialogue, but do it openly with each other.”

So began the journey to Bader’s new startup Ikaria that’s exclusively revealing itself to the world today on TechCrunch. It’s a different kind of chat app, named after the Greek island where a close-knit community helps extend people’s lifespans. The six-person Santa Monica team is funded by a $1.5 million seed round led by Initialized Capital and Fuel Capital. People can sign up for early beta access here.

During a long interview about the startup, Bader and his co-founder Sean Dadashi were cagey about exactly how Ikaria works, as it’s still in development. Amidst all the philosophical context about the app’s intention, I was able to pull out a few details about what the product will actually look like.

“Basically, since 2004, technology has created this monumental shift in the human social experience. We’re more connected than ever technically but all the studies show we’re lonelier than ever,” Bader explains. “It’s like eating McDonald’s to get healthy. It’s not the right source of nutrition for our social well-being because true connection requires a level of vulnerability, presence, self-disclosure and reciprocity that you don’t really get on these platforms.”

Ikaria isn’t another feed. It’s a safe space where you can chat with close friends and family, or people going through similar life challenges. Members of these group chats will optionally go through guided experiences that help them reflect on and discuss what’s going on in their hearts and minds. This could become a whole new media format where outside creators or mental health professionals could produce and contribute their own guided experiences.

“Part of the reason we’re announcing this is that . . . it’s a call to action to involve all these practitioners and people who are doing these types of things and giving them a platform to allow them to facilitate these kind of group bonding experiences through a platform where they can extend their practices into the digital world,” Bader tells me. What Calm and Headspace did for making meditation more mainstream and accessible, Ikaria wants to do for mental health through online togetherness.

Ikaria already has a sizable closed beta going, which the startup plans to continue until it finds product fit, and it hopes to know its official release timeline by the end of the year. “We’re not going to launch this until we know 40% of people would be disappointed if they couldn’t use it.”

Rather than monetizing by exploiting people’s attention, Ikaria plans to develop a “customer relationship” with users, which could mean subscription access or in-app payments for buying content. Perhaps one user could act as the sponsor and purchase an experience for their whole group chat. Until then, it’s got its seed funding from Initialized, Fuel Capital, F7 Ventures, Ryan Hoover’s Weekend Fund, Backend Capital, Day One Ventures, Shrug, Todd Goldberg and Superhuman’s Rahul Vohra.

“The hope is that eventually this would be an app you use instead of iMessage, to increase your sense of presence,” Bader explains, revealing its grand ambitions. Why would we need to replace our core chat apps? Well for one thing, they don’t understand who really matters to you. If an app understood who your mom is, it could give her messages special prevalence or remind you to contact her.

Bader met Dadashi through an offline men’s group for discussing life, love and everything in the wake of Secret’s collapse and a rough romantic breakup. After just a few weeks of these meetups, they say they felt closer to each other than to most of their friends. Only later did Bader, a designer by trade, discover that Dadashi was a coder who’d been CTO of electronics company MHD Enterprises before starting a travel and lifestyle startup for mental wellness, called Somatic Studios. They tried working together on an app for sharing quotes from your friends but scrapped it.

Together, the pair went on to research the rapid rise of other vulnerability-focused meetup organizations like the one where they met, including EvrymanManKind ProjectQuiltAuthentic RelatingCircling, and T-Groups. Though they knew that to have a chance at impact at scale, they’d need to build a mobile app familiar enough to get people over the hurdle of starting a mindfulness practice. They laid out a few principles to build by: a focus on relationships instead of Likes and followers, conscious design that won’t exploit people’s attention or weaknesses, no ads, and keeping all data private and in control of the user.

There are other startups hoping to address the sad state of mental health from different angles. Talkspace offers a mobile connection to licensed therapists, though it can be pricey at $65 to $99 per week. 7 Cups and TalkLife makes peer-to-peer counseling from volunteers free, though these aren’t professionals. There are also plenty of journaling products, gratitude practice apps and wellness podcasts out there. But Ikaria’s approach, combining mental health content with group chats of people you trust, feels unique.

Having known Bader since the Secret days, it’s obvious that working with Dadashi has made him happier and more centered. Ikaria is an app he can wake up feeling good about each day. “You know, I don’t like to speak ill of David [Byttow, Secret’s CEO who sources say was verbally abusive to employees], but that relationship was very, very toxic and taxing for me. And this time around with Sean, as I’m sure you can tell, is the polar opposite.”

If Ikaria can help people develop the open and honest relationships with friends or peers like building it has done for Bader and Dadashi, it could be a beacon amidst a sea of time unwell spent.

Categories: Business News

InVideo raises $2.5M and launches an automated assistant to make your videos better

Startup News - 2020, February 19 - 2:33am

Video editing startup InVideo has new funding and a new product.

The San Francisco-headquartered company bills itself as the easiest way for anyone to create professional-quality videos, using a drag-and-drop interface along with a library of templates and stock photos and videos. The resulting videos can then be optimized for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms.

InVideo’s new assistant does even more to help with the process. As demonstrated for me by co-founder and CEO Sanket Shah, as you create a video, it automatically makes suggestions for how the video could be improved — he compared it to Grammarly, but for video.

Shah said the assistant currently focuses on two areas, both text-related. First, it’s making sure that all the text on the screen is readable — so that, for example, you don’t have light-colored text on a light background. Second, it’s making sure the text is “comprehensible” — so that there’s not too much text on the screen, or it’s not flashing by too quickly.

“We all think that design is very creative, but there’s a lot of science in it as well,” he said.

Shah told me InVideo’s founders first worked together on a startup aiming to create 10-minute video summaries of nonfiction books. That’s when they discovered “video creation is a very painful process, it’s just not scalable.” So they launched the current startup hoping to solve this problem.

The company says it now has 100,000 customers — including AT&T, Sony Music, Reuters, CNN and CNBC — in 150 countries.

It might seem surprising for a large media company to need to use a tool like this, but Shah explained, “The users who use us [at those large companies] today are not video editors. If you want to constantly create videos about the U.S. elections, it’s not a video editor who’s doing it, it’s very likely a news producer” with limited or nonexistent editing experience.

Pricing for the editor starts at $10 per month, though there’s also a free version if you don’t mind watermarks.

InVideo is also announcing that it has raised an additional $2.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, along with angel investors Anand Chandrasekaran and Gokul Rajaram. It has now raised a total of $3.2 million.

“InVideo has truly captured the imagination of our users with their super user-friendly online video editor and great customer support,” said Ayman Al-Abdullah, CEO and president of software deals website AppSumo, in a statement. “In fact, it has gone on to become the most sold product in AppSumo history.”

Trash uses AI to edit your footage into a fun, short videos

Categories: Business News

Aisera, an AI tool to help with customer service and internal operations, exits stealth with $50M

Startup News - 2020, February 19 - 2:10am

Robotic process automation — the ability to automate certain repetitive software-based tasks to free up people to focus on work that computers cannot do — has become a major growth area in the world of IT. Today, a startup called Aisera that is coming out of stealth has taken this idea and supercharged it by using artificial intelligence to help not just workers with internal tasks, but in customer-facing environments, too.

Quietly operating under the radar since 2017, Aisera has picked up a significant list of customers, including Autodesk, Ciena, Unisys and McAfee — covering a range of use cases from “computer geeks with very complicated questions through to people who didn’t grow up in the computer generation,” says CEO Muddu Sudhakar, the serial entrepreneur (three previous startups, Kazeon, Cetas and Caspida, were respectively acquired by EMC, VMware and Splunk) who is Aisera’s co-founder.

With growth of 350% year-on-year, the company is also announcing today that it has raised $50 million to date, including most recently a $20 million Series B led by Norwest Venture Partners with Menlo Ventures, True Ventures, Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Ram Shriram and Maynard Webb Investments also participating.

(No valuation is being disclosed, said Sudhakar.)

The crux of the problem that Aisera has set out to solve is that, while RPA has identified that there is a degree of repetition in certain back-office tasks — which, if that work can be automated, can reduce operational costs and be more efficient for an organization — the same can be said for a wide array of IT processes that cover sales, HR, customer care and more.

There have been some efforts made to apply AI to solving different aspects of these particular use cases, but one of the issues has been that there are few solutions that sit above an organization’s software stack to work across everything that the organization uses, and does so in an “unsupervised” way — that is, uses AI to “learn” processes without having an army of engineers alongside the program training it.

Aisera aims to be that platform, integrating with the most popular software packages (for example in service desk apps, it integrates with Salesforce, ServiceNow, Atlassian and BMC), providing tools to automatically resolve queries and complete tasks. Aisera is looking to add more categories as it grows: Sudhakar mentioned legal, finance and facilities management as three other areas it’s planning to target.

Matt Howard, the partner at Norwest that led its investment in Aisera, said one of the other things that stands out for him about the company is that its tools work across multiple channels, including email, voice-based calls and messaging, and can operate at scale, something that can’t be said in actual fact for a lot of AI implementations.

“I think a lot of companies have overstated when they implement machine learning. A lot of times it’s actually big data and predictive analytics. We have mislabeled a lot of this,” he said in an interview. “AI as a rule is hard to maintain if it’s unsupervised. It can work every well in a narrow use case, but it becomes a management nightmare when handling the stress that comes with 15 million or 20 million queries.” Currently Aisera said that it handles about 10 million people on its platform. With this round, Howard and Jon Callaghan of True Ventures are both joining the board.

There is always a paradox of sorts in the world of AI, and in particular as it sits around and behind processes that have previously been done by humans. It is that AI-based assistants, as they get better, run the risk of ultimately making obsolete the workers they’re meant to help.

While that might be a long-term question that we will have to address as a society, for now, the reward/risk balance seems to tip more in the favour of reward for Aisera’s customers. “At Ciena, we want our employees to be productive,” said Craig Williams, CIO at Ciena, in a statement. “This means they shouldn’t be trying to figure out how a ticketing tool works, nor should they be waiting around for a tech to fix their issues. We believe that 75 percent of all incidents can be resolved through Aisera’s technology, and we believe we can apply Aisera across multiple platforms. Aisera doesn’t just make great AI technology, they understand our problems and partner with us closely to achieve our mission.”

And Sudhakar — similar to the founders of startups that are would-be competitors like UiPath when asked the same kind of question — doesn’t feel that obsolescence is the end game, either.

“There are billions of people in call centres today,” he said in an interview. “If I can automate [repetitive] functions they can focus on higher-level work, and that’s what we wanted to do. Those trying to solve simple requests shouldn’t. It’s one example where AI can be put to good use. Help desk employees want to work and become programmers, they don’t want to do mundane tasks. They want to move up in their careers, and this can help give them the roadmap to do it.”

Categories: Business News

New Early Stage speakers to talk fundraising strategies, growth marketing and PR

Startup News - 2020, February 19 - 1:44am

TC Early Stage SF goes down on April 28, and we are getting pretty damn excited about it!

The show will bring together 50+ experts across startup core competencies, such as fundraising, operations and marketing. We’ll hear from VCs on how to create the perfect pitch deck and how to identify the right investors for you. We’ll hear from lawyers on how to navigate the immigration process when hiring, and how to negotiate the cap table. And we’ll hear from growth hackers on how to build a high-performance SEO engine, and PR experts on how to tell your brand’s story.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, I’m pleased to announce four more breakout sessions.

Lo Toney

Toney is the founding managing partner of Plexo Capital, which was incubated and spun out from GV. Before Plexo, Toney was a partner with Comcast Ventures, where he led the Catalyst Fund, and then moved to GV where he focused on marketplace, mobile and consumer products. Toney also has operational experience, having served as the GM of Zynga Poker, the company’s largest franchise at the time.

Think Like a PM for VC Pitch Success

Your pitchdeck is not just a reflection of your business, it’s a product unto itself. Your startup’s success, and avoiding the end of your runway, depends on the conversion rate of that product. Hear from Plexo Capital founding partner Lo Toney about how thinking like a PM when crafting your pitch deck can produce outstanding results.

Krystina Rubino and Lindsay Piper Shaw

Shaw and Rubino are marketing consultants for Right Side Up, a growth marketing consultancy. Prior to Right Side Up, Shaw scaled podcast campaigns for brands like quip, Lyft and Texture, and has worked with brands like McDonald’s, Honda, ampm, and Tempur Sealy. Rubino has worked with companies across all stages and sizes, including Advil, DoorDash, P&G, Lyft and Stitch Fix.

Why You Need Podcasts in Your Growth Marketing Mix

Podcast advertising is widely viewed as a nascent medium, but smart companies know it can be a powerful channel in their marketing mix. Opportunity is ripe — get in early and you can own the medium, box out competitors and catapult your growth. Krystina Rubino and Lindsay Piper Shaw have launched and scaled successful podcast ad campaigns for early-stage startups and household name brands and will be sharing their strategies for companies to succeed in this often misunderstood channel.

Jake Saper

Jake Saper, the son of serial co-founders, has been obsessed with entrepreneurialism from a young age. His origin in venture capital started at Kleiner Perkins, and he moved on to become a partner at Emergence in 2014, where he became a Kauffman Fellow. He serves on the boards of Textio, Guru, Ironclad, DroneDeploy, and Vymo, and his self-described “nerdy love” of frameworks has only grown over the years.

When It Comes to Fundraising, Timing Is Everything

There are some shockingly common timing mistakes founders make that can turn an otherwise successful fundraise into a failure. We’ll talk through how to avoid them and how to sequence efforts from the time you close your seed to ensure you find the right partner (at the right price!) for Series A and beyond.

April Conyers

Conyers has been in the communications industry for 15 years, currently serving as the senior director of Corporate Communications at Postmates . Before Postmates, Conyers served as a VP at Brew PR, working with clients like Automattic, NetSuite, Oracle, Doctor on Demand and about.me. During that time, she also found herself on BI’s “The 50 Best Public Relations People In The Tech Industry In 2014” list.

The Media Is Misunderstood, But Your Company Shouldn’t Be

With the media industry in a state of flux, navigating the process of telling your story can be confusing and overwhelming. Hear from Postmates Senior Director of Corporate Communication April Conyers on how startups should think about PR, and how to get your message across in a hectic media landscape.

Early Stage SF goes down on April 28, with more than 50 breakout sessions to choose from. However, don’t worry about missing a breakout session, because transcripts from each will be available to show attendees. And most of the folks leading the breakout sessions have agreed to hang at the show for at least half the day and participate in CrunchMatch, TechCrunch’s great app to connect founders and investors based on shared interests.

Here’s the fine print. Each of the 50+ breakout sessions is limited to around 100 attendees. We expect a lot more attendees, of course, so signups for each session are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Buy your ticket today and you can sign up for the breakouts we are announcing today, as well as those already announced. Pass holders will also receive 24-hour advance notice before we announce the next batch. (And yes, you can “drop” a breakout session in favor of a new one, in the event there is a schedule conflict.)

So get your TC Early Stage: San Francisco pass today, and get the inside track on the sessions we announced today, as well as the ones to be announced in the coming weeks.

Possible sponsor? Hit us up right here.

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Categories: Business News

Kickstarter workers vote to unionize

Startup News - 2020, February 19 - 1:26am

Kickstarter today announced that its staff has decided to unionize. The move reflects a broader movement for worker representation among tech employees. The site joins a growing list of companies whose staff and/or contractors have expressed public interest in unionizing, including Spin, Instacart and Pittsburgh-based Google technical workers, along with media outlets like BuzzFeed and Vox.

The decision, which was approved through a 46 to 37 vote, comes on the heels of pushback from Kickstarter leadership. As noted in a piece published by Vice late last year, CEO Aziz Hassan called employees’ push to unionize “inherently adversarial” in a letter to staff, adding:

That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go. We believe that in many ways it would set us back, and that the us vs. them binary already has.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch this morning, however, the executive appears to have had a change of heart.

“We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here,” Hassan writes. “We’ve worked hard over the last decade to build a different kind of company, one that measures its success by how well it achieves its mission: helping to bring creative projects to life. Our mission has been common ground for everyone here during this process, and it will continue to guide us as we enter this new phase together.”

As part of the National Labor Relations Board vote, Kickstarter United will now be recognized by management of the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding giant. This marks the first time a major tech company’s full-time, white-collar employees have unionized in such a manner.

Categories: Business News

Voice Gateway Market in-depth Analysis & Marginal Revenue Growth 2019-2025

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 19 - 1:07am
It is utilized to associate the enterprise VoIP coordinate with the telecommunications supplier, utilizing various diverse availability strategies, such as ...
Categories: VoIP News

Virtual landlines: a guide for small businesses

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 11:37pm
When you purchase a virtual landline number, you should be able to opt to receive calls to your mobile number, landline number, or a configured VoIP ...
Categories: VoIP News

Global <b>VoIP</b> Equipment Market: Production, Sales, Supply, Demand, Analysis &amp; Forecast to 2025

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 9:45pm
The latest update of the Global “VoIP Equipment” Market study provides complete information along with industry players development activities, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Tag: <b>VoIP</b> Market Size

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 8:48pm
A New business Strategy report released by HTF MI with title Global VoIP Market Size, Status and Forecast 2019-2025 . This Global VoIP market ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voice over Internet Protocol (<b>VoIP</b>) Services Market 2020 Analysis, Growth by Top Companies ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 8:39pm
“Analytical Research Cognizance” has announced the addition of the “Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services Market” by company, by country, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Global Business <b>VoIP</b> Market 2020 Industry Analysis by Size, Share, Growth, Key players, Trends ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 8:03pm
This report studies the global IoT Service market, analyzes and researches the IoT Service development status and forecast in United States, EU, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Latest Trends In Mobile <b>VoIP</b> Market : Explore Most Recent Market Information With List Of Key ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 7:48pm
“Global Mobile VoIP Market 2020-2029” is a latest report generated by MarketResearch.biz. The Global Mobile VoIP Market report has been ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voice over Internet Protocol (<b>VoIP</b>) Services Market-Industry Outlook, Size, Share, Growth ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 6:45pm
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services Market Global Industry Report provides a detailed analysis of the market historical data, facts, regional ...
Categories: VoIP News

Mobile <b>VOIP</b> (mVOIP) Market In-Depth Overview, Growth Factors, Regional Analysis And Forecasts ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 6:45pm
The report titled on “Mobile VOIP (mVOIP) Market” report offers in-intensity analysis of the worldwide market size (Production, Value and Consumption) ...
Categories: VoIP News

Global <b>VoIP</b> Market By Type(Computer-to-Computer, Computer-to-Phone, Phone-to-Phone ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 6:40pm
The Global VoIP Market report highlights crucial dynamics and in-depth analysis of the market segment with concentrating on factual data, present ...
Categories: VoIP News

<b>VoIP</b> Services Market Future Growth, Size &amp; Revenue Projection To 2026

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 6:33pm
The report titled on “VoIP Services Market” report offers in-intensity analysis of the worldwide market size (Production, Value and Consumption), splits ...
Categories: VoIP News

Ecosmob Offers Session Border Controller Development Service

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 5:48pm
Speaking on the occasion the company's VP said, "VoIP communication grows exponentially and brings in its wake several issues of interoperability ...
Categories: VoIP News

<b>VoIP</b> Market 2020 is Booming Worldwide | Top Players: NTT, Comcast, Orange, KT, Charter, etc.

Google News - VoIP - 2020, February 18 - 4:18pm
Global VoIP Research Report 2020 includes all basic information related to the global Industry and forecast until 2026. The VoIP Market research ...
Categories: VoIP News

Gojek reportedly buys 4.3% stake in Indonesian taxi company Blue Bird

Startup News - 2020, February 18 - 4:11pm

Gojek has paid $30 million to take a minority stake in Blue Bird, one of the largest taxi operators in Indonesia, according to Bloomberg, which first reported that the deal was in progress last month.

Gojek’s stake in Blue Bird is worth $30 million. The taxi operator’s holding company disclosed in a regulatory filing earlier this month that it had sold 108 million shares of Blue Bird at 3,800 rupiahs (about 28 cents) to an undisclosed buyer. The company already offered reservations for Blue Bird taxis on its super-app, and the investment brings the two closer.

Gojek’s “super-app,” called that because it offers a wide range of services, including on-demand rides and deliveries, a payment service, streaming entertainment and services like home cleaning, competes against Grab, which announced last July that it will use $2 billion of the funding it raised from SoftBank to invest in Indonesian transportation infrastructure and businesses.

While Gojek and Grab compete in several markets, Gojek is currently the biggest player in Indonesia.

TechCrunch has contacted Gojek for comment.

SoftBank pumps $2B into Indonesia through Grab investment, putting it head to head with Gojek

Categories: Business News

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