THE NEXT WEB: At Facebook’s F8 conference today, it unveiled a number of big new changes to its service that transforms Messenger into a platform, expands Facebook Video even further and offers deeper integrations than ever for developers. The changes are actually really cool and great news for developers — Facebook is finally turning Messenger into the hub for everything, like LINE and WeChat already did in Asia — but they also signal something much larger. (more…)
TECHCRUNCH: The West Coast of Michigan is a haven for industrial designers and is home to the world’s most iconic furniture manufacturers: Steelcase and Herman Miller. That’s because Michigan builds things. Soon there will be a new accelerator that will help young companies do just that. The accelerator program, called Seamless, targets early-stage hardware companies and gives them access to capital and, more importantly, experience in the field. Grand Rapid’s early-stage, venture capital fund Start Garden is behind the program and has enlisted the help of the region’s biggest companies.
E27.CO: Bangalore-based Artoo IT Solutions, a startup that offers customer relationship management solution to banks and financial institutions, has secured US$500,000 in funding from seed-stage investor Accion Venture Labs and Rianta Capital Zurich’s impact investment unit Artha Initiative. The startup will use the capital to enhance its product functionality, build team and scale operations globally. (more…)
FAST COMPANY: Since 2009, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has nurtured great ideas. But once a project reaches its funding goal, it can get lost in the mix, and its Kickstarter page becomes a shell of its former self. Spotlight, launching today, is Kickstarter’s attempt to extend the life of a project beyond the funding stage. It gives the creators of successful projects a way to shape their story and image the way any company might market an important new product. (more…)
THE NEXT WEB: Pretty much everyone gets their bills by email nowadays, but what if you could pay right from your inbox too? Google is apparently working on that, according to a report by Recode. The tool is currently dubbed Pony Express. It’s likely that won’t end up being the final name, but we can hope. (more…)
FORBES: How a Russian investor Yuri Milner established his “gold-mining machine” (firm DST) and why he believes that the future belongs to Asia. China lifted Milner up from ranked 35 to 20 in the Forbes ranking of the best investors. Investments in Alibaba and smartphone vendor Xiaomi opened Yuri Milner’s way to the Forbes’ top 20 investors. In the past year the entrepreneur preferred China to the US.
RE/CODE: Google’s mission to organize the world’s information is now targeting your physical mailbox. The company is currently working on a project that will allow Gmail users to more easily receive bills in their email inbox instead of their mailbox. Called Pony Express, the service also is designed to let people pay their bills within Gmail, rather than having to go to a telecom or utility company’s website to complete a payment. (more…)
GLOBES: iAngels has developed a model for investment of small amounts in start-ups, based on experienced investors. Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich continues to invest in Israeli start-ups: through Millhouse Capital, his investment company, he has led a $2.25 million investment in iAngels, a company started by entrepreneurs Mor Assia and Shelly Hod-Moyal. They founded iAngels in early 2014, and developed a model for investment of small amounts in startups, based on experienced investors. The company raised several hundred thousand dollars in the past, with the new investment making a total of $2.6 million raised by the company to date.
FINOVATE: Online thematic investment brokerage Motif Investing has teamed up with Pacific Life to provide millennial investors with an opportunity to invest in the social causes they care most about. Four new motifs will be offered, each including stocks from major U.S. companies that have made significant contributions to charities and foundations focused on issues ranging from education and human rights to fighting poverty and cancer. (more…)
FINOVATE: Runa Capital has announced its participation in a $20.5M funding round of the American SME-lending platform Lednio. The round included participation by some large VCs, namely, Napier Park Financial Partners and Blumberg Capital. Lendio plans to use the capital to develop its SME-lending product, marketing and to expand its partnership program. According to the company’s representatives, it’s the third venture round for Lendio. The company has raised a total of $31M since 2011. Runa Capital joined the pool of its investors in 2013.
THE NEXT WEB: With Apple Pay coming out, it seems as if there is a whole new technology that has just been released. In reality, NFC payments have been around for a while, but Apple is the platform that has enough user adoption that will actually result in mass adoption. Thus far, we have seen just the start, with further tech such as the Apple Watch supplementing further growth. (more…)
THE NEXT WEB: Stripe, the payment company that’s quietly building the best way to pay people online, hastoday launched a major API update to its Connect API. The new API builds on what the company learnt from modern “platform” companies such as Instacart, Shyp and Lyft, that employ many ‘sellers’ to get their work done. (more…)
FOREXMAGNATES: Optimal Payments Plc (LSE: OPAY), the group behind the popular NETELLER payment solution, has just revealed it would buy rival Skrill Group (Sentinel Topco Ltd) for a sum of about 1.1 billion euros in order to expand its online services. Skrill is one of the largest online pre-paid cards providers in Europe with its paysafecard brand. Its shareholders include CVC Capital’s Sentinel Group Holdings SA, Investcorp Technology Partners and others. Back in August 2013, CVC acquired a controlling stake in Skrill for €600m from Bahrain-based Investcorp.
THE NEXT WEB: Square introduced Square Cash in 2013 to go against Venmo as an easy payment system anyone can use to send some money over to friends and families. Turns out companies liked the idea too, so Square has now made Cash available for businesses in the US. As with Cash for consumers, payments are deposited directly into bank accounts with an intermediary holding account. Square is charging businesses a 1.5 percent fee (value of transaction being limited to $250 per transaction and $2500 per month) for the service – just over half the 2.75 percent it charges for payments via its hardware devices. Non-business money transfers are still free. (more…)
TECHCRUNCH: The rise of companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola have put a spotlight on the e-commerce opportunity in India, where the growth of catchy businesses is being fuelled by consumer demand, improving Internet connectivity and generous VC funding. Now, a new startup called Razorpay — part of the current Y Combinator class — is hoping to ride that trend, by giving more startups and larger tech companies in the country the ability to make it easier to integrate payments into their services. (more…)
TECHCRUNCH: Online lending platform Avant has acquired ReadyForZero, a Y Combinator-backed startup that helps consumers better manage their personal debit and credit using online financial software, the companies are announcing this morning. Financial terms are not being disclosed, but Chicago-based Avant had plenty of funds to play around with, having raised$334 million in equity capital, in addition to nearly a billion in debt.
THE NEXT WEB: While Amazon has worked hard to promote its Android app store, let’s face it: if you’re not on Fire OS, you’ll use the Google Play Store almost all the time. But it looks like Amazon may have a trick up its sleeve to get users onto its marketplace instead. According to a report by TechCrunch, based off apparently leaked documents, an Amazon ‘Unlocked’ subscription will provide a range of apps and related in-app purchases free of additional charge. TechCrunch describes it as Amazon Prime for apps. (more…)
DEALSTREETASIA: Russia’s economic slump is set to boost the fledgling financial services technology (Fintech) startup ecosystem in Singapore and South East Asia. Moscow-based venture capital firm Life.SREDA, that focuses exclusively on investments in Fintech mobile and internet projects, is pivoting to Asia, and moving its corporate headquarters to Singapore, executives aware of the developments told DEALSTREETASIA. (more…)
TECHCRUNCH: Amazon’s VP and General Manager of Payments, Matt Swann, who most recently oversaw initiatives including Amazon’s Square competitor called Local Register and Amazon Wallet, has left the company, TechCrunch has confirmed. The move comes shortly after Amazon shut down its beta version of Wallet in January amid mediocre reviews, and an increasingly competitive landscape where Apple Pay and Google Wallet now dominate.