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HumanForest suspends London e-bike sharing service, cuts jobs after customer accident – TechCrunch

UK-based startup HumanForest has suspended its nascent ‘free’ e-bike service in London this week, after experiencing “mechanical” issues and after a user had an accident on one of its bikes, TechCrunch has learned. The suspension has also seen the company make a number of layoffs with plans to re-launch next spring using a different e-bike. The service suspension comes only a few months after HumanForest started the trial in North London — and just a couple of weeks after announcing a $2.3M seed round of funding backed by the founders of Cabify and others. We were tipped to the closure by an anonymous source who said they were employed by the startup. They told us the company’s e-bike had been found to have a defect and there had been an accident involving a user, after which the service was suspended. They also told us HumanForest fired a bunch of staff this week with little warning and minimal severance. Asked about the source’s allegations, HumanForest confirmed it had suspended its service in London following a “minor accident” on Sunday, saying also that it had identified “problems of a similar nature” prior to the accident but had put down those down to “tampering or minor mechanical issues”. Here’s its statement in full: “We were not aware that the bike was defective. There had been problems of a similar nature which were suspected to be tampering or minor mechanical issues. We undertook extra mechanical checks which we believed had resolved the issue and informed…Continue readingHumanForest suspends London e-bike sharing service, cuts jobs after customer accident – TechCrunch

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European Commission to appeal decision that reversed Apple’s $15B State Aid tax bill in Ireland – TechCrunch

It’s not over until it’s over for Apple and its ongoing tax headache in Europe. Today the European Commission announced that it plans to appeal the July 2020 ruling that overturned the original $15 billion fine that it leveled against Apple and Ireland over State Aid and taxes, as it believes the General Court “made a number of errors of law” when it decided to overturn the original August 2016 ruling. It is, in other words, appealing the appeal. In a statement, Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner, noted that the Commission is making the move because it believes that offering tax breaks to one company and not its rivals “harms fair competition in the European Union in breach of State aid rules.” The case, if it proceeds, will be heard in the European Court Of Justice, Europe’s equivalent of the Supreme Court. (Appeals of the General Court, which used to be called the “Court of First Instance”, are heard there.) The full statement is below. Apple has already responded with its own statement, saying it will review the appeal but also that it (unsurprisingly) sees the July 2020 decision as final. “The General Court categorically annulled the Commission’s case in July and the facts have not changed since then. This case has never been about how much tax we pay, rather where we are required to pay it,” a spokesperson said. “We will review the Commission’s appeal when we receive it, however it will not alter the factual conclusions of…Continue readingEuropean Commission to appeal decision that reversed Apple’s $15B State Aid tax bill in Ireland – TechCrunch

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Cambridge Analytica’s former boss gets 7-year ban on being a business director – TechCrunch

The former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the disgraced data company that worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and shut down in 2018 over a voter manipulation scandal involving masses of Facebook data — has been banned from running limited companies for seven years. Alexander Nix signed a disqualification undertaking earlier this month which the UK government said yesterday it had accepted. The ban commences on October 5. “Within the undertaking, Alexander Nix did not dispute that he caused or permitted SCL Elections Ltd or associated companies to market themselves as offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients; demonstrating a lack of commercial probity,” the UK insolvency service wrote in a press release. Nix was suspended as CEO of Cambridge Analytica at the peak of the Facebook data scandal after footage emerged of him, filmed by undercover reporters, boasting of spreading disinformation and entrapping politicians to meet clients’ needs. Cambridge Analytica was a subsidiary of the SCL Group, which included the division SCL Elections, while Nix was one of the key people in the group — being a director for SCL Group Ltd, SCL Social Ltd, SCL Analytics Ltd, SCL Commercial Ltd, SCL Elections and Cambridge Analytica (UK) Ltd. All six companies entered into administration in May 2018, going into compulsory liquidation in April 2019. The “potentially unethical” activities that Nix does not dispute the companies offered, per the undertaking, are: bribery stings and honey trap stings designed to uncover corruption voter disengagement campaigns the obtaining of information to discredit political…Continue readingCambridge Analytica’s former boss gets 7-year ban on being a business director – TechCrunch

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Indonesian cloud kitchen startup Yummy gets $12 million Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia – TechCrunch

Yummy Corporation, which claims to be the largest cloud kitchen management company in Indonesia, has raised $12 million in Series B funding, led by SoftBank Ventures Asia. Co-founder and chief executive officer Mario Suntanu told TechCrunch that the capital will be used to expand into more major cities and on developing its tech platform, including data analytics. Other participants in the round included returning investors Intudo Ventures and Sovereign’s Capital, and new backers Vectr Ventures, AppWorks, Quest Ventures, Coca Cola Amatil X and Palm Drive Capital. The Series B brings Yummy Corporation’s total raised so far to $19.5 million. Launched in June 2019, Yummy Corporation’s network of cloud kitchens, called Yummykitchen, now includes more than 70 HACCP-certified facilities in Jakarta, Bandung and Medan. It partners with more than 50 food and beverage (F&B) companies, including major brands like Ismaya Group and Sour Sally Group. During COVID-19 movement restrictions, Suntanu said Yummykitchen’s business showed “healthy growth” as people, confined mostly to their homes, ordered food for delivery. Funding will be used to get more partners, especially brands that want to digitize their operations and expand deliveries to cope with the continuing impact of COVID-19. The number of cloud kitchens in Southeast Asia has grown quickly over the past year, driven by demand for food deliveries that began increasing even before the pandemic. But for F&B brands that rely on deliveries for a good part of their revenue, running their own kitchens and staff can be cost-prohibitive. Sharing cloud kitchens with other…Continue readingIndonesian cloud kitchen startup Yummy gets $12 million Series B led by SoftBank Ventures Asia – TechCrunch

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“Are they even on the same team as us?” – TechCrunch

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, America’s roughly 640 billionaires have seen their fortunes soar by $845 billion in combined assets or 29% collectively, widening the already yawning gap between the very richest and the rest of U.S. Many of those billions were made by tech founders, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, whose companies have soared in value and, in tandem, their net worth. In fact, so much has been made so fast and by so few relatively, that it’s easy to wonder if greater equality is now forever out of reach. To talk about the question, we reached out earlier this week to Ananad Giridharadas, a former New York Times correspondent whose 2018 book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” became a best-seller Giridharadas’s message at the time was largely that the generosity of the global elite is somewhat laughable — that many of the same players who say they want to help society are creating its most intractable problems. (Think, for example of Bezos, whose company paid zero in federal tax in 2017 and 2018 and who is now on the cusp of opening a tuition-free preschool called the Bezos Academy for underserved children.) Given the aggressive escalation over the last six months of the same trends Giridharadas has tracked for years, we wondered how he views the current situation. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity. TC: You have a weekly newsletter where you make the point…Continue reading“Are they even on the same team as us?” – TechCrunch

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5 fails and how to fix them – TechCrunch

Digital currency exchange Coinbase has probably done more than most to push cryptocurrencies closer to the mainstream, earning an $8 billion valuation by private investors along the way. The company is reportedly eyeing a public listing next year, and is inarguably doing a lot of things right. However, that doesn’t mean its product experience is perfect. In fact, far from it. In our latest UX teardown, with the help of Built for Mars founder and UX expert Peter Ramsey, we highlight some of Coinbase’s biggest user experience failings and offer ways to fix them. Many of these lessons can be applied to other existing digital products or ones you are currently building, including the need to avoid the “Get Started” trap, the importance of providing feedback, why familiarity often wins and other principles. The ‘Get Started’ trap Only use CTAs like “get started” or “learn more” if you’re actually teaching users something. The fail: Coinbase doesn’t actually have any onboarding — but it looks like it does. It has a very prominent “get started” CTA, which actually just puts bitcoins in your basket. This isn’t helping you get started, it’s nothing more than an onboarding Trojan horse. The fix: It’s simple: Don’t lie in your CTAs. You wouldn’t have “Email Support” as a CTA, and then just show the user a bunch of FAQs. Steve O’Hear: This feels like another classic “bait and switch” and reeks of dark pattern design. However, what if it actually works to get users over…Continue reading5 fails and how to fix them – TechCrunch

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The first rule of BookClub? No boring book clubs. – TechCrunch

Book clubs can be magical. Bring together a group of friends, tear apart a book and all of a sudden the words have a second, paperless, life. But what if the author could join in the banter? Imagine riffing with Roxane Gay, debating with Ta-Nehisi Coates and eavesdropping on Jhumpa Lahiri. The experience would resemble that of an epilogue, but one reserved exclusively for your friend group. For those intrigued, a new Salt Lake City startup wants to talk. BookClub launched today to bring author-led book clubs to readers. The platform will allow authors to join personal book groups, share exclusive video-based interviews and engage in questions you might have (including cliffhanger complaints). The startup is founded by some familiar names: Degreed co-founders David Blake and Eric Sharp, as well as early product leader at Degreed, Emily Campbell. “When you think of Instagram Stories and TikTok, the mainstream social media movement is mostly video-based,” Blake said. “But the book world has not yet caught up. If you think of Goodreads, it’s kind of like the internet, circa 2010.” BookClub, he hopes, will lead to more modern experiences with authors that are, at the same time, easily scalable. To better picture the experience, see how BookClub produced a video based on the novel “The Suspect,” by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen. Image Credits: David Blake Readers can also request an author to join their club. Image Credits: BookClub BookClub is taking a MasterClass approach to education and entertainment. MasterClass, which raised…Continue readingThe first rule of BookClub? No boring book clubs. – TechCrunch

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United Airlines is making COVID-19 tests available to passengers, powered in part by Color – TechCrunch

There’s still no clear path back to any sense of ‘business-as-usual’ as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, but United Airlines is embarking on a new pilot project to see if easy access to COVID-19 testing immediately prior to a flight can help ease freedom of mobility. The airline will offer COVID-19 tests (either rapid tests at the airport, or mail-in at home tests prior to travel) to passengers flying from SFO in San Francisco to Hawaiian airpots, beginning on October 15. United worked directly with the Hawaiian government and health regulators to meet the state’s requirements when it comes to quarantine measures, so that travellers who return a negative result with this pre-trip tests won’t have to observe the mandatory quarantine period in place upon their arrival. That’s obviously a major barrier to travel to a popular tourist destination like Hawaii, since a two-week quarantine eats up all or more of the typical period of stay for anyone coming from the mainland. The airline has partnered with two companies to provide the tests: Color for the at-home kit, which is ordered by a physician and provides results within 1-2 days of receiving the sample, and GoHealth Urgent Care, which will be provided the on-site tests at the airport using the Abbot ID NOW rapid COVID-19 test that returns results in just 15 minutes. If passengers choose the Color option, they’re advised to request the test kit at least 10 days before they fly, and then to provide their sample for testing…Continue readingUnited Airlines is making COVID-19 tests available to passengers, powered in part by Color – TechCrunch

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Ripjar, founded by GCHQ alums, raises $36.8M for AI that detects financial crime – TechCrunch

Financial crime as a wider category of cybercrime continues to be one of the most potent of online threats, covering nefarious actives as diverse as fraud, money laundering and funding terrorism. Today, one of the startups that has been building data intelligence solutions to help combat that is announcing a fundraise to continue fueling its growth. Ripjar, a UK company founded by five data scientists who previously worked together in British intelligence at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent of the NSA), has raised $36.8 million (£28 million) in a Series B, money that it plans to use to continue expanding the scope of its AI platform — which it calls Labyrinth — and scaling the business. Labyrinth, as Ripjar describes it, works with both structured and unstructured data, using natural language processing and an API-based platform that lets organizations incorporate any data source they would like to analyse and monitor for activity. Sources close to the company say that the funding values the startup in the region of £100 million, or about $127 million. Ripjar is currently profitable, the company confirmed. The funding is being led by Long Ridge Equity Partners, a specialist fintech investor, with previous investors Winton Capital Ltd and Accenture plc also participating. Accenture is a strategic partner: the consultancy/systems integrator uses Ripjar’s tech to work with a number of clients in the financial services sector. Ripjar also has government clients, where its platform is used for counterterrorism work. It declines to disclose any…Continue readingRipjar, founded by GCHQ alums, raises $36.8M for AI that detects financial crime – TechCrunch

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Mobileye signs driver-assistance deal with Geely, one of China’s largest privately-held auto makers – TechCrunch

Mobileye’s computer vision technology will be used in a new premium electric vehicle called Zero Concept from Geely Auto Group, one of China’s largest privately-held automobile manufacturers. Mobileye’s owner Intel made the announcement today at the Beijing Auto Show. Zero Concept is produced by Lynk & Co., the brand formed as a joint venture between Geely Auto and Volvo Car Group, and uses Mobileye’s SuperVision driving-assistance system. Intel also announced that Mobileye and Geely Auto have signed a long-term, high-volume agreement for advanced driver-assistance systems that means more Geely Auto vehicles will be equipped with Mobileye’s computer vision technology. In a post, Mobileye chief executive officer and Intel senior vice president Amnon Shashua wrote that the deal is the first time “Mobileye will be responsible for the full solution stack, including hardware and software, driving policy and control.” He added “it also marks the first time that an OEM has publicly noted Mobileye’s plan to provide over-the-air updates to the system after deployment. While this capacity has always been in our repertoire, Geey and Mobileye want to assure customers that we can easily scale their driving-assistance features and keep everything up to date across the car’s lifetime.” Based in Israel, Mobileye was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion. Its technology and services are used in vehicles from automakers including BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and General Motors, and includes features that warn drivers about issues like blind spots, potential lane departures, collision risks and speed limits. Geely Auto’s…Continue readingMobileye signs driver-assistance deal with Geely, one of China’s largest privately-held auto makers – TechCrunch