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Flipdish raises €4.8M Series A to wean restaurants off takeout aggregators like Just Eat

16:51 | 6 December

Flipdish, the online ordering and loyalty platform for takeaways and restaurants, has closed a €4.8 million in Series A funding. The round is led by Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, with participation by existing investor Elkstone.

Founded in 2015, Flipdish enables restaurants to directly accept online orders and manage their online presence and operations, in a bid to help wean them off over reliance (or order hijacking) by takeout marketplaces and aggregators, such as Just Eat or Deliveroo.

Specifically, the Irish startup enables individual restaurants and restaurant chains to compete with takeout aggregators by accepting online orders directly from customers with “lower costs and a higher control over the customer experience”. The proposition is similar to a crop of new startups that are helping hotels secure more direct bookings online rather than perpetually giving away a large part of their margins to the likes of Booking.com.

“In the last 10 years there’s been a sudden shift in the importance of technology: people who used to phone takaways to place orders, now will only order online,” Flipdish CEO Conor McCarthy tells me.

“The largest food companies are able to facilitate this by putting huge resources into development, but small and medium businesses aren’t able to put millions of euro into developing their own software. We are levelling the playing field by making this technology available to all sized businesses and giving them the tools to compete and win online.

Flipdish Phone Ordering

Those tools include an online loyalty system and ordering platform, which comes with automated re-marketing and retention features. “Ensuring that this is all automated means the restaurants and takeaways can focus on creating great food and we will take care of their online presence,’ adds McCarthy.

Noteworthy is that Flipdish isn’t generating revenue through a subscription-based offering. Instead, it charges a fee for each order placed through the platform. The idea is that the success of restaurants offering direct online ordering is tied to Flipdish’s own success

“If they don’t receive online orders, then we don’t make any money,” quips the Flipdish CEO. “I think this structure sets us apart from our competitors. Companies who charge a flat fee are incentivised to do as much as possible to sign up customers but have little incentive to help them receive orders. Like gyms are incentivised to sign up as many customers as possible but don’t actually want them use the gym”.

On that note, McCarthy argues that Flipdish’s biggest competitor is still the telephone line, as a significant portion of takeaways aren’t aware yet that there are affordable online ordering platforms out there and so rely on customers phoning them. In the software space, Olo and ChowNow are also well-funded direct competitors.

Meanwhile, Flipdish says the latest funding round comes on the back of “outstanding growth” this year with revenue up more than 3x compared to 2017, although without breaking out the numbers this is pretty meaningless. With that said, the company is disclosing that it currently powers over one thousand restaurants across Europe and has enabled more than €25 million in online orders to date.

To that end, Flipdish says the new funding will be used to help accelerate growth by building out its product line and delivering greater service to its expanding worldwide customer base.

 


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Japan’s Sansan raises $26.5M to help Southeast Asia get more from business cards

07:03 | 6 December

The humble business card is a target for disruption in Southeast Asia after Japanese contacts management startup Sansan raised JPY 3 billion ($26.5 million) to expand its business into the region.

Founded way back in 2007, Sansan helps bring business intelligence to companies through a system that helps build connections between users and both internal employees and external contacts using, among other things, business cards.

“Our purpose is to use tech to enhance the utility and value of business cards,” Sansan co-founder and CEO Chikahiro Terada told TechCrunch in an interview. “They are customary for business in most parts of the world, esJapanlly japan, but there’s no easy way to digitize them.”

This new round will bring that focus to Southeast Asia, where Sansan already has an office in Singapore. The capital — which is a Series E round — was provided Japan Post Capital, T. Rowe Price, SBI Investment and DCM Ventures, and it takes Sansan to around $100 million raised to date.

Sansan claims that 7,000 corporations use its core product — also called Sansan — which helps build and organize networks. At its core, users scan another person’s business card which is then digitized, uploaded to the cloud and made part of their database. The Sansan system then allows interactions, such as meetings, calls, notes and more to be added to the entry to help track interactions. The resources are held within companies, rather than employees themselves, which means strategies around sales, marketing and more can be kept organized and centralized.

In addition, Sansan operates a LinkedIn -like service called Eight which is available for free and is linked to the core product, allowing users to update their job, company, etc without having to provide a new business card. Eight has some two million users today, according to Sansan.

Unlike LinkedIn, however, which is commonly used for finding jobs, Terada suggested that Eight and Sansan help maintain networks and increase communication and engagement.

Sansan CEO Chikahiro Terada started the business in 2006 alongside fellow co-founders Kei Tomioka, Joraku Satoru, Kenji Shiomi and Motohisa Tsunokawa

Terada — who previously worked for Oracle in Thailand — said that he sees much potential for the services in Southeast Asia, where the region’s digital economy is expected to triple by 2025, albeit with a greater focus on SMEs rather than Japan-style mega corporations.

Already, Sansan has picked up some 100 or so clients in the region — mostly by targeting Japanese corporations in Singapore — while Eight has reached 100,000 registered users across Southeast Asia since a soft launch in October 2017.

“We want to expand to globally and Singapore is our first step,” said Terada, indicating that there are future plans to look at business in India, Europe and potentially the U.S. further down the line. Elsewhere, the firm is hiring data scientists as it aims to bring additional smarts to its services.

The proposition is interesting — personally speaking I have multiple stacks of business cards sitting idle — but it remains to be seen how open businesses in Southeast Asia will be to paying for the service, even with clear benefits. Saas as a model is still establishing its roots among SMEs while there are already popular options. LinkedIn is, of course, the de facto professional social network while Facebook, which has been ramping up its efforts in that space lately, is also a popular option.

 


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Neuron Mobility raises $3.7M to bring e-scooters to Southeast Asia’s cities

03:00 | 6 December

Despite the rise in electric scooters in the U.S, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Asia — the region where bike-sharing foreshadowed the rise of e-scooters — has been left off the party. But e-scooters have quietly been in the region for some time and now they are beginning to ramp up their plans.

Singapore-based Neuron Mobility is one such riser, and the company announced today that it has raised a SG$5 million ($3.7 million) seed round to explore overseas growth opportunities. The money comes from a collection of investors that include SeedPlus, 500 Startups, SEEDS Capital, ACE Capital, undisclosed angels and family offices.

Founded in 2016, Neuron has offered electric scooters in Singapore since last year. That fleet is currently downsized, CEO Zachary Wang told TechCrunch in an interview, because the startup is awaiting new regulation from the Singapore government. He expects that to take another one or two months. At its peak, Wang said, Neuron was Singapore’s latest provider with around 1,000 e-scooters on the island nation, although the number is down to “a few hundred” right now.

Scooters from Neuron and other rivals have been impounded in Singapore in recent times because they have been parked in illegal areas. Singapore currently prohibits scooters from being left in public places, such as subway stations, but pre-defined adjacent spaces are ok. As such, Neuron charges users a $5 fee when they leave their ride in the wrong place. That’s detected by geo-fencing tech and the charge covers the cost of sending a staffer to move it, Wang explained.

Despite it forcing the startup to slim down its operations, Wang is supportive of the Singapore government’s moves. Admitting that on-demand bikes and scooters can pile up “like rubbish on the streets in many cities,” the Neuron CEO said that “multi-use of sidewalk pavements [from scooters and other services] is here to stay and regulation brings rights to operate, which is a good thing.”

[Left to right] Neuron Mobility founders Harry Yu and Zachary Wang started the Singapore-based company in 2016

While it is liaising with the Singapore government, Neuron is also taking its first steps overseas. That’s seen it deploy scooters in Thailand — capital Bangkok and northern city Chiang Mai — with an expansion to Malaysia set to happen before the end of this year.

It has trodden carefully, however. In Bangkok, Neuron is working with real estate giant Sansiri to offer last mile options around one of the developer’s main sites that includes retail, residential and education facilities in close proximity. In Chiang Mai, it is offering transportation in the old part of the city, which is popular with Chinese tourists and where bike-sharing services like Mobike are popular.

When pressed on safety, Wang said that keeping the focus on specific parts of the city is important. Indeed, Asia’s mega cities are frankly dangerous for even seasoned motorcycle or bike drivers, let alone part-time electric scooter riders, while a number of people in the U.S. have died following collisions with e-scooters. With that in mind, Neuron said it is also planning a ‘ride responsibility’ campaign.

Looking beyond Malaysia, Wang said that Neuron aspires to be in other parts of Southeast Asia — which houses over 650 million people — as well as cities that are comparable to Singapore, such as those in Australia. Those expansions, however, won’t happen until the startup raises another round of funding, that’s something that he anticipates could come in the first half of 2019, although Wang is coy on details at this point.

Speaking more broadly about the expansion of e-scooter startups like Bird and Lime, which have moved into Europe and most recently Asia, Wang — the Neuron CEO — stressed the importance of local players.

“The Southeast Asia game must be played by Southeast Asia players because the region is so fragmented,” he said. “Traditionally, it is very difficult to penetrate markets so the hyper-local approach becomes all important.”

Beyond working with regulators, Wang said another example of its local approach is that it is developing its own bespoke scooters, rather than going with off-the-shelf products from the likes of Xiaomi -owned NineBot, which is outfitting most U.S. startups. Neuron’s ‘next-gen’ scooter will “come to market pretty soon,” he said.

Neuron has occupied a unique position since it has been around since before bike-sharing startups flooded Southeast Asia last year following the trend in China. Unlike Ofo, oBike and countless others who expanded and then fled Southeast Asian markets, Wang believes that e-scooters are more sustainable as a business because the unit economics are healthier.

“Our rides can be benchmarked against taxi rides,” he explained. While, more generally, e-scooters are “priced between public transportation and taxis” rather than being cheaper than both, as is the case for dockless cycles.

 


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Seized cache of Facebook docs raise competition and consent questions

20:07 | 5 December

A UK parliamentary committee has published the cache of Facebook documents it dramatically seized last week.

The documents were obtained by a legal discovery process by a startup that’s suing the social network in a California court in a case related to Facebook changing data access permissions back in 2014/15.

The court had sealed the documents but the DCMS committee used rarely deployed parliamentary powers to obtain them from the Six4Three founder, during a business trip to London.

You can read the redacted documents here — all 250 pages of them.

The committee has been investigating online disinformation and election interference for the best part of this year, and has been repeatedly frustrated in its attempts to extract answers from Facebook.

But it is protected by parliamentary privilege — hence it’s now published the Six4Three files, having waited a week in order to redact certain pieces of personal information.

Committee chair Damian Collins has included a summary of key issues, as the committee sees them after reviewing the documents, in which he draws attention to six issues.

Here is his summary of the key issues:

  1. White Lists Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.
  2. Value of friends data It is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the Platform 3.0 changes at Facebook. The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.
  3. Reciprocity Data reciprocity between Facebook and app developers was a central feature in the discussions about the launch of Platform 3.0.
  4. Android Facebook knew that the changes to its policies on the Android mobile phone system, which enabled the Facebook app to collect a record of calls and texts sent by the user would be controversial. To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app.
  5. Onavo Facebook used Onavo to conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers, and apparently without their knowledge. They used this data to assess not just how many people had downloaded apps, but how often they used them. This knowledge helped them to decide which companies to acquire, and which to treat as a threat.
  6. Targeting competitor Apps The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the consequence that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business

The publication of the files comes at an awkward moment for Facebook — which remains on the back foot after a string of data and security scandals, and has just announced a major policy change — ending a long-running ban on apps copying its own platform features.

Albeit the timing of Facebook’s policy shift announcement hardly looks incidental — given Collins said last week the committee would publish the files this week.

The policy in question has been used by Facebook to close down competitors in the past, such as — two years ago — when it cut off style transfer app Prisma’s access to its live-streaming Live API when the startup tried to launch a livestreaming art filter (Facebook subsequently launched its own style transfer filters for Live).

So its policy reversal now looks intended to diffuse regulatory scrutiny around potential antitrust concerns.

But emails in the Six4Three files suggest Facebook took “aggressive positions” against competing apps could spark fresh competition concerns.

In one email dated January 24, 2013, a Facebook staffer, Justin Osofsky, discusses Twitter’s launch of its short video clip app, Vine, and says Facebook’s response will be to close off its API access.

As part of their NUX, you can find friends via FB. Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision,” he writes. 

Osofsky’s email is followed by what looks like a big thumbs up from Zuckerberg, who replies: “Yup, go for it.”

Also of concern on the competition front is Facebook’s use of a VPN startup it acquired, Onavo, to gather intelligence on competing apps — either for acquisition purposes or to target as a threat to its business.

The files show various Onavo industry charts detailing reach and usage of mobile apps and social networks — with each of these graphs stamped ‘highly confidential’.

Facebook bought Onavo back in October 2013. Shortly after it shelled out $19BN to acquire rival messaging app WhatsApp — which one Onavo chart in the cache indicates was beasting Facebook on mobile, accounting for well over double the daily message sends at that time.

The files also spotlight several issues of concern relating to privacy and data protection law, with internal documents raising fresh questions over how or even whether (in the case of Facebook’s whitelisting agreements with certain developers) it obtained consent from users to process their personal data.

The company is already facing a number of privacy complaints under the EU’s GDPR framework over its use of ‘forced consent‘, given that it does not offer users an opt-out from targeted advertising.

But the Six4Three files look set to pour fresh fuel on the consent fire.

Collins’ fourth line item — related to an Android upgrade — also speaks loudly to consent complaints.

Earlier this year Facebook was forced to deny that it collects calls and SMS data from users of its Android apps without permission. But, as we wrote at the time, it had used privacy-hostile design tricks to sneak expansive data-gobbling permissions past users. So, put simple, people clicked ‘agree’ without knowing exactly what they were agreeing to.

The Six4Three files back up the notion that Facebook was intentionally trying to mislead users.

In one email dated November 15, 2013, from Matt Scutari, manager privacy and public policy, suggests ways to prevent users from choosing to set a higher level of privacy protection, writing: “Matt is providing policy feedback on a Mark Z request that Product explore the possibility of making the Only Me audience setting unsticky. The goal of this change would be to help users avoid inadvertently posting to the Only Me audience. We are encouraging Product to explore other alternatives, such as more aggressive user education or removing stickiness for all audience settings.”

Another awkward trust issue for Facebook which the documents could stir up afresh relates to its repeat claim — including under questions from lawmakers — that it does not sell user data.

In one email from the cache — sent by Mark Zuckerberg, dated October 7, 2012 — the Facebook founder appears to be entertaining the idea of charging developers for “reading anything, including friends”.

Yet earlier this year, when he was asked by a US lawmaker how Facebook makes money, Zuckerberg replied: “Senator, we sell ads.”

He did not include a caveat that he had apparently personally entertained the idea of liberally selling access to user data.

Responding to the publication of the Six4Three documents, a Facebook spokesperson told us:

As we’ve said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context. We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.

Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused to testify in person to the DCMS committee.

At its last public hearing — which was held in the form of a grand committee comprising representatives from nine international parliaments, all with burning questions for Facebook — the company sent its policy VP, Richard Allan, leaving an empty chair where Zuckerberg’s bum should be.

 


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Union’s human rights challenge to Deliveroo dismissed by UK High Court

14:23 | 5 December

A UK union that has been fighting to win collective bargaining rights for gig economy riders who provide delivery services via Deliveroo’s platform has had its claim for a judicial review of an earlier blocking decision dismissed by the High Court today.

Six months ago the IWGB Union was granted permission to challenge Deliveroo’s opposition to collective bargaining for couriers on human rights grounds.

The union had already lost a challenge to Deliveroo’s employment classification for couriers last year. Then the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled that Deliveroo riders could not be considered workers because they had a genuine right to find a substitute to do their job for them.

The union disputes that finding but so far the courts have accepted Deliveroo’s assertion that riders are independent contractors — an employment classification that does not support forming a collective bargaining unit.

Even so, the union sought to pursue a case for collective bargaining on one ground related to Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of assembly and association.

But the High Court has now dismissed its argument, blocking its claim for a judicial review.

Writing in today’s judgement, Mr Justice Supperstone concludes: “I do not consider that, on the findings made by the CAC, the Riders have the right for which the Union contends under Article 11(1). Neither domestic nor Strasbourg case law supports this contention. Article 11(1) is not engaged in this case.”

Commenting in a statement, IWGB general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today’s judgement is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said. “Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions.”

The union has vowed to appeal the decision.

Deliveroo, meanwhile, described the ruling as a “victory for riders”. It also argues that the judgement is consistent with previous decisions reached across Europe — including in France and the Netherlands.

“We are pleased that today’s judgment upholds the earlier decisions of the High Court and the CAC that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, providing them the flexibility they want,” said Dan Warne, UK MD, in a statement. “In addition to emphatically confirming this under UK national law, the Court also carefully examined the question under European law and concluded riders are self-employed.

“This a victory for riders who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo. We will continue to seek to offer riders more security and make the case that Government should end the trade off in Britain between flexibility and security.”

Despite not having collective bargaining rights, in recent years UK gig economy workers have carried out a number of wildcat strikes — often related to changes to pricing policies.

Two years ago Deliveroo couriers in the UK staged a number of protests after the company trialed a new pricing structure.

While, in recent months, UberEats couriers in a number of UK cities have protested over pay.

UK Uber drivers have also organized to protest pay and conditions this year.

The UK government revealed a package of labor market reforms early this year that it said were intended to bolster workers rights, including for those in the gig economy.

Although it also announced it would be carrying out a number of consultations — leaving the full details of the reform tbc.

 


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Looking back at Readdle’s journey from zero to hero

18:08 | 29 November

Readdle launched its first app on the App Store ten years ago and recently celebrated 100 million downloads. Readdle’s

came to TechCrunch Disrupt to look back at the past ten years.

“I think it's about timing. Back in 2007 when the iPhone was launched for the first time, there was no app or no App Store,” Zhadanov said. “And then we got a call from Apple that said: ‘Hey guys, we're launching the App Store.’”

One of the reasons why Readdle ended up on Apple’s radar is that they started working on a solution to read books and documents even before the App Store. It was a web app and it was already listed on Apple’s website.

This web app alone attracted 60,000 users — again, that was before the App Store and with a small iPhone install base.

Today, Readdle has eight productivity apps. If you have an iPhone, chances are you’re using some of them, such as Scanner Pro, Documents, PDF Expert and Spark.

And it says a lot about Readdle’s skills. When you’re building productivity apps, you’re competing with built-in apps. There’s already a calendar app and an email app on your iPhone when you first set it up.

“The way we look at this, if our work can inspire one of the biggest companies to move into this area, we're doing something right,” Zhadanov said. “But we have to be very fast and move and run faster because there is no way you can compete with giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft.”

What’s next for Readdle now? The company has received acquisition offers in the past. “We've had offers from different partners but we never discuss and disclose publicly either these talks or our revenues because we're still private,” Zhadanov said.

But it doesn’t mean that Readdle is standing still. When Readdle released Spark four years ago, it was a free app from day one. Spark now has 500,000 daily active users.

“Now we're at this stage where we are trying to accomplish a much bigger challenge than ever before, which is reinventing email,” Zhadanov said.

You can now use Spark to share inboxes with your team. It lets you comment on an email thread, assign emails to team members and more. If you want to unlock all the collaborative features, you need to pay a premium subscription.

It’s still the very beginning of the team product. “I think we have thousands of teams but only tens or hundreds are paying,” Zhadanov said.

Eventually, Readdle could end up raising money to iterate faster — maybe, maybe not. “I'm not saying we need [to raise money ]. I'm saying we might raise money next year to scale faster,” Zhadanov said.

Being a bootstrapped company has some great advantages for now. Readdle doesn’t feel any pressure from investors saying that they need to launch something now. The company can spend more time refining products.

Finally, TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden asked about the political climate in Ukraine. A few days ago, a presidential decree introduced martial law in some parts of Ukraine due to tensions with Russia.

“We're trying not to comment on political issues as well. But, right now, we're not affected as a company, as a business,” Zhadanov said. "I think the perception from outside might be affected.”

According to him, Readdle has already thought about “plan B and plan C” in case it gets worse.

 


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Polyteia launches to help European city governments put their data to work

15:50 | 29 November

Local governments collect a lot of data, but they aren’t always great at organizing and using it efficiently. Instead of letting useful municipal insights sit around in disparate databases, some not even digital, Berlin-based Polyteia proposes a platform that would allow city leaders to unify and analyze the data that represents the constituents that they serve.

TechCrunch spoke with Polyteia co-founders Faruk Tuncer and Taisia Antonova (CEO and CPO, respectively) at Disrupt Berlin 2018, where they are competing in the Startup Battlefield, and heard a bit more about the platform, who it’s designed for and why. The company was also created with the help of a third co-founder, lead Polyteia architect Lukas Rambold. For the project, Tuncer will bring his experience working in city governments to bear, while Antonova provides expertise on the product side. Antonova is a TechCrunch Battlefield veteran, having pitched IO onstage in London back in 2014.

Polyteia’s platform is designed to serve the mayor’s office and city council alike, with a modular topic-specific system that lets cities (and towns) choose bits of its smart governance platform à la carte. The goal is to bring together legacy data stored in various systems into a central location. “It’s trapped in silos,” Tuncer said. “It takes a lot of time to aggregate that data.” Polyteia also offers to digitize data for clients that might still be stuck with some paper systems.

That modular design means that Polyteia plans to collect and glean insight on everything from local fire departments and housing projects to schools and childcare. The company began its pilot product, now operating, with a childcare module that allows local governments to track kindergarten needs and utilization numbers, making it possible to identify areas that might need expanded services.

[gallery ids="1752275,1752264,1752269,1752266"]

In the town of Oranienburg, Head of Central Services Department Mike Wedel is using Polyteia to figure out childcare needs and lauds how with Polyteia “reports are generated at the fingertip.” Angelika Kerstenski, treasurer of the City of Wriezen and chairwoman of the Association of Treasurers in Brandenburg, had similar praise for its work with the new platform. “Polyteia transforms financial and operational data into KPIs and provides forecasts,” Kerstenski said. “Those enable me to control effectively and strategically, without any extra effort.”

The company’s second module, which Polyteia calls a “logical next step,” will be schools. The company is in talks with two German cities about rolling out its school modules now. Polyteia’s business is subscription based, with an activation fee between €5,000 and €50,000 and an annual license fee between €10,000 and €40,000, depending on the size of the project. 

Aware of the sensitive nature of the data it will handle, Polyteia’s platform will receive only anonymized, aggregated data from its clients, complying with privacy laws and negating any potential risk. Beyond privacy concerns, Polyteia notes that many govtech companies struggle to “crack the European market” due to the fragmented nature and heterogeneous needs of different countries, but with some expertise in governance it doesn’t expect to meet the same resistance.

So far, Polyteia’s partner cities have been pleasantly surprised with a startup’s approach to their own data hassles. The company boasts three paying clients to date. “They’re quite impressed with our speed,” Antonova said.

 


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Revolut is ready to launch in Singapore and Japan

09:01 | 29 November

Fintech startup Revolut has been teasing Asian market expansions for more than a year, but it sounds like it might finally happen. The company has secured licenses to operate in Singapore and Japan. It now expects to launch its service in Q1 2019.

In Singapore, the company was granted a Remittance License by the Monetary Authority and a Stored Value Facility approval — these two things combined let Revolut users hold money as well as send and spend money. In Japan, the company has been authorized to operate by Japan’s Finance Service Agency.

According to Revolut, those approvals are enough to launch the service in those countries. But not all features will make their way to Singapore and Japan. Regulation varies from one country to another, so the company might not be able to provide the same limits and feature set everywhere.

At launch, Revolut will focus on the electronic wallet and the payment card. You won’t be able to buy cryptocurrencies, create business accounts and more. Limits should be more or less the same in local currency equivalent.

In Japan, Revolut says that it has already signed deals with Rakuten, Sompo Japan Insurance (SJNK) and Toppan. It sounds like there will be new insurance products, special card designs and more.

Revolut plans to open its APAC office in Singapore. Let’s see if Revolut ends up convincing expats to sign up or if they can have a real impact outside of Europe.

And if you’re a potential user in the U.S. or Canada, you’ll have to wait a bit more. Revolut says that there will be more news in the coming weeks.

 


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Uber’s bill for 2016 breach and cover-up rises by $1M+ on EU fines

17:22 | 28 November

The legal bill for Uber’s 2016 data breach, which affected some 57 million customers, revealing names, email address and phone numbers, has increased by more than a million dollars.

Two months ago the ride-hailing giant agreed to pay $148M to resolve legal inquiries pertaining to the breach in the U.S., with that settlement covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

However the breach also involved European users’ data. And yesterday the UK’s data protection watchdog, the ICO, announced it was fining Uber £385,000 (~$490k) under the domestic legal regime.

The Dutch data protection watchdog also issued a fine yesterday, slapping Uber with a €600k (~$670k) penalty for violating local laws.

On the EU law front, Uber has dodged a bit of bullet here as the timing of the breach falls under both country’s prior data protection regimes.

In the UK the maximum penalty was just £500k vs up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover under the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

A proportionately large fine under GDPR would likely have been considerably larger.

The ICO notes that the records of almost 82,000 drivers based in the UK — including details of journeys made and how much they were paid — were taken during the breach incident which took place in October and November 2016 but which Uber only publicly disclosed a year ago.

While in the Netherlands the regulator notes that the breach affected 174,000 Dutch citizens.

GDPR has also brought in pan-EU breach disclosure requirements, which mean data controllers must now notify relevant authorities within 72 hours of a major breach affecting European citizens’ personal data. And data controllers can be fined for delaying a breach notification.

The UK watchdog said its investigation of the 2016 Uber breach found ‘credential stuffing’ was used to gain access to Uber’s data storage — referring to a process by which compromised username and password pairs are injected into websites until they are matched to an existing account.

However the watchdog also makes a point of underlining Uber’s problematic handling of the incident, couching this as “inadequate decision-making”, not merely censuring Uber’s also “inadequate” security.

Instead of disclosing the breach in a timely fashion Uber chose to pay $100,000 to hackers who had obtained the cache of personal data, asking them to destroy it, and routing this payment through a third party that administers its bug bounty program.

The ICO describes this cover-up as “inappropriate”, pointing out that the hackers acted maliciously, as they sought to exploit a vulnerability to illegally gain access to data — so were not at all “legitimate bug bounty recipients”.

Commenting in a statement, ICO director of investigations, Steve Eckersley, said: “Paying the attackers and then keeping quiet about it afterwards was not, in our view, an appropriate response to the cyber attack. Although there was no legal duty to report data breaches under the old legislation, Uber’s poor data protection practices and subsequent decisions and conduct were likely to have compounded the distress of those affected.”

“This was not only a serious failure of data security on Uber’s part, but a complete disregard for the customers and drivers whose personal information was stolen. At the time, no steps were taken to inform anyone affected by the breach, or to offer help and support. That left them vulnerable,” he added.

In the full decision text detailing the reasons for the monetary penalty the ICO also writes that its intent is to “deter further contraventions of this kind, both by Uber and by others”.

The Dutch watchdog also flags Uber’s failure to promptly disclose the breach as grounds for its fine.

We reached out to Uber for comment and a spokesman emailed us the following statement:

We’re pleased to close this chapter on the data incident from 2016. As we shared with European authorities during their investigations, we’ve made a number of technical improvements to the security of our systems both in the immediate wake of the incident as well as in the years since. We’ve also made significant changes in leadership to ensure proper transparency with regulators and customers moving forward. Earlier this year we hired our first chief privacy officer, data protection officer, and a new chief trust and security officer. We learn from our mistakes and continue our commitment to earn the trust of our users every day.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment on the ICO’s description of its cover-up as “inappropriate”.

 


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Second Home closing in on new £20M funding round to bring its ‘creative workspace’ to more locations

14:07 | 28 November

Second Home, the “creative workspace” company co-founded by Rohan Silva, a policy advisor for then British Prime Minister David Cameron, is closing in on a new funding round, TechCrunch has learned.

According to sources, the London startup has secured £20 million in investment from Boston-based investor Gerald Chan, who owns Hang Lung Group with his brother Ronnie Chan. Both were also the first investors in Xiaomi, and Gerald Chan recently gave the biggest ever philanthropic gift to Harvard University, totalling a hefty $350m million.

Second Home’s existing investors include: Yuri Milner, Index Ventures, Atomico, Talis Capital, Tencent founder Martin Lau, and former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill.

I understand that the injection of capital will be used to expand to L.A. in the U.S., and possibly another 5 locations, as Second Home continues to scale up its operations and the number of physical locations it has under management. The funding could be announced as soon as next week.

Second Home’s original East London site opened in November 2014. The company opened Second Home Lisbon in 2016, and added another London space in Holland Park this year. A third London Second Home in Clerkenwell Green will open its doors next month.

I’m told that all three are fully occupied, and Silva has previously said that 97 percent of new customers come via referrals and other “organic channels”.

Meanwhile, the companies, charities and teams based at Second Home across various sites include energy upstart Bulb (which employs 280 people located at Spitalfields), Threads Styling, Help Refugees, Kickstarter, TaskRabbit, Vice Media, Spotify, Volkswagen, Taylor Wessing, Ermenegildo Zegna, and others.

Silva couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication. I’ll update this article if and when I hear back.

 


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