Say “Aloha”: A closer look at Facebook’s voice ambitions

Say “Aloha”: A closer look at Facebook’s voice ambitions

Facebook has been a bit slow to adopt the voice computing revolution. It has no voice assistant, its smart speaker is still in development, and some apps like Instagram aren’t full equipped for audio communication. But much of that is set to change judging by experiments discovered in Facebook’s code, plus new patent filings. Developing voice functionality could give people more ways to use Facebook in their home or on the go. Its forthcoming Portal smart speaker is reportedly designed for easy video chatting with distant family, including seniors and…

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Elkrem is a blockchain dev board for tinkerers

Elkrem is a blockchain dev board for tinkerers

Creators of the 1Sheeld, a tool designed to connect smartphones to Arduino boards, have created something even more interesting. Their latest product, the Elkrem, is a smart kit for creating blockchain IoT devices and they have raised $250,000 from Endure Capital and Consensys to build the project. The founders are Amr Saleh and Islam Mustafa launched the 1Sheeld at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 and sold tens of thousands of units in 120 countries. Now they’re building a new tool based entirely on blockchain. “Elkrem is a Blockchain hardware development board. It…

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Facebook is removing over 5,000 ad targeting options to prevent discriminatory ads

Facebook is removing over 5,000 ad targeting options to prevent discriminatory ads

Facebook announced this morning it’s making a change to how its ad targeting system works in order to tackle the misuse of its platform to discriminate and exclude audiences based on factors like ethnicity and religion. The company says it’s now removing over 5,000 ad targeting options that could have been misused to place discriminatory ads across its platform. The news comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a new complaint against Facebook that accuses it of helping landlords and home sellers violate the…

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Uber finally hires a CFO as it heads for an IPO

Uber finally hires a CFO as it heads for an IPO

Uber’s search for a chief financial officer—and the person who will steer the company towards an IPO—is over. The ride-hailing company said Tuesday it’s new CFO is Nelson J. Chai, the former CEO of insurance and warranty provider Warranty Group. Chai has the kind of experience Uber will need to navigate a successful IPO. Last year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said an IPO for Uber was part of his plans. He targeted 2019 for the IPO. The road to an IPO will require some financial belt tightening, a role Chai would handle as…

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TraceLink, which helps pharma companies trace drugs through the supply chain, just raised $93 million

TraceLink, which helps pharma companies trace drugs through the supply chain, just raised $93 million

TraceLink, a nine-year-old, software-as-a-service platform for tracking pharmaceuticals and trying to weed out counterfeit prescription drugs in the process, has raised $93 million in Series D funding. Most of the money — $60 million — was used to buy primary shares, with another $33 million used to buy up the shares of previous shareholders. Georgian Partners led the round round, with participation from Vulcan Capital and Willett Advisors, along with all of the company’s earlier investors. These include Goldman Sachs, whose growth equity arm had led the company’s $51.5 million Series C…

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Apple could release an updated MacBook Air

Apple could release an updated MacBook Air

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple has been working on multiple new Macs. In particular, Apple could be planning to release a new entry-level laptop to replace the aging MacBook Air. This isn’t the first rumor about a MacBook Air refresh. While Apple has released a 12-inch retina MacBook, it’s not nearly as cheap as the MacBook Air. It’s also not as versatile as it only has a single USB Type-C port. And yet, the MacBook Air is arguably Apple’s most popular laptop design in recent years. Many MacBook…

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Facebook assigns you a fake-news-flagging trustworthiness score

Facebook assigns you a fake-news-flagging trustworthiness score

A new way to attack Facebook is to fraudulently report a news story as false in hopes of reducing its visibility, either because someone wants to censor it or just doesn’t agree with it. Sometimes known as “brigading,” a concerted effort by trolls to flag a piece of content can reduce its visibility. Facebook now sends stories reported as false to third-party fact checkers, and these purposefully inaccurate reports can clog the already-overcrowded queues that fact checkers struggle to worth through. That’s why Facebook gives users a trustworthiness score ranging…

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TomboyX picks up $4.3 million Series A

TomboyX picks up $4.3 million Series A

For the past ten to fifteen years, a crop of newer brands have found themselves gobbling up marketshare via direct to consumer channels. Some offer a better value proposition on an existing product category, like Warby Parker and Casper, while others offer a reinvention of the category itself, like Outdoor Voices and Glossier. TomboyX, which just closed a $4.3 million Series A round, seems to be doing a great job of both. The company, founded by Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez, offers gender-neutral underwear for an affordable price to folks…

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Semmle, startup that makes code searchable, hauls in $21M Series B

Semmle, startup that makes code searchable, hauls in $21M Series B

Semmle, a startup that originally spun out of research at Oxford, announced a $21 million Series B investment today led by Accel Partners. It marked the second time Accel has led an investment in the company. Other investors include Work-Bench, Capital One, Credit Suisse, Google, Microsoft, NASA and Nasdaq Trust. Today’s investment brings the total to $31 million. Semmle has warranted this kind of interest by taking a unique approach to finding vulnerabilities in code. “The key idea behind our technology is to treat code as data and treat analysis problems…

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Netflix tests a bypass of iTunes billing in 33 markets

Netflix tests a bypass of iTunes billing in 33 markets

Netflix is one of the highest-grossing apps on the iOS App Store, but it looks like the video streaming giant is contemplating how it might make an even bigger margin on its iPhone and iPad users. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Netflix, in its own words, is “testing the iTunes payment method” in 33 countries. More specifically, Netflix is testing how to bypass iTunes. Until September 30, new or lapsed subscribers in selected markets across Europe, Latin America and Asia will be unable pay using iTunes. They are instead getting…

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