Equity podcast: Theranos’s reckoning, BroadQualm’s stunning conclusion and Lyft’s platform ambitions
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week Katie Roof and I were joined by Mayfield Fund’s Navin Chaddha, an investor with early connections with Lyft to talk about, well, Lyft — as well as two bombshell news events in the form of an SEC fine for […]
March 16, 2018
As we watch major tech platforms evolve over time, it’s clear that companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon (among others) have created businesses that are having a huge impact on humanity — sometimes positive and other times not so much. That suggests that these platforms have to understand how people are using them and […]
March 16, 2018
Hootsuite nabs $50M in growth capital for its social media management platform, passes 16M customers
Over the last several years, social media has become a critical and central way for businesses to communicate, and market to, their customers. Now, one of the startups that helped spearhead this trend has raised a round of growth funding to expand its horizons. Hootsuite, the Vacouver-based social media management company that counts some 16 […]
March 15, 2018
Another massive financing round for an AI chip company is coming in today, this time for SambaNova Systems — a startup founded by a pair of Stanford professors and a longtime chip company executive — to build out the next generation of hardware to supercharge AI-centric operations. SambaNova joins an already quite large class of […]
March 15, 2018
Seattle-based Strix Leviathan, an enterprise trading and management platform for crypto assets founded by startup vet Jesse Proudman, today announced that it has raised a $1.625 million seed round led by Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures (yes, that Joe Montana). Other investors include Founders’ Co-op, Future\Perfect Ventures and 9Mile Labs, as well as angel investors like Chris […]
March 15, 2018
A massive company probably has plenty of engineers on staff and the resources to build a complex backbone of interconnected information that can contain tons of data and make acting on it easy — but for smaller companies, and for those that aren’t technical, those tools aren’t very accessible. That’s what convinced Howie Liu to […]
March 15, 2018
TypingDNA has a new approach to verifying your identity based on how you type. The startup, which is part of the current class at Techstars NYC, is pitching this as an alternative to two-factor authentication — namely, the security feature that sends unique codes to a separate device (usually your phone) to make sure someone […]
March 15, 2018
March 14, 2018
It doesn’t matter if you are an established company or a new startup; IT projects will always pile up at every stage of the business.You would have to consider deadlines to meet, businesses to execute, among other demands. How will you be able to handle your business plans and at the same time finish your […]
July 30, 2017
From shopping to calling a taxicab, mobile apps are progressively turning into a huge piece of our every day lives. As indicated by a BI Intelligence report, buys made through mobile gadgets expanded 48 percent year-over-year to around $8 billion in the second quarter of 2014. Another comScore report recommends that more than 60 percent […]
December 23, 2015
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
This week Katie Roof and I were joined by Mayfield Fund’s Navin Chaddha, an investor with early connections with Lyft to talk about, well, Lyft — as well as two bombshell news events in the form of an SEC fine for Theranos and Broadcom’s hostile takeover efforts for Qualcomm hitting the brakes. Alex Wilhelm was not present this week but will join us again soon (we assume he was tending to his Slayer shirt collection).
Starting off with Lyft, there was quite a bit of activity for Uber’s biggest competitor in North America. The ride-sharing startup (can we still call it a startup?) said it would be partnering with Magna to “co-develop” an autonomous driving system. Chaddha talks a bit about how Lyft’s ambitions aren’t to be a vertical business like Uber, but serve as a platform for anyone to plug into. We’ve definitely seen this play out before — just look at what happened with Apple (the closed platform) and Android (the open platform). We dive in to see if Lyft’s ambitions are actually going to pan out as planned. Also, it got $200 million out of the deal.
Next up is Theranos, where the SEC investigation finally came to a head with founder Elizabeth Holmes and former president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were formally charged by the SEC for fraud. The SEC says the two raised more than $700 million from investors through an “elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.” You can find the full story by TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos here, and we got a chance to dig into the implications of what it might mean for how investors scope out potential founders going forward. (Hint: Chaddha says they need to be more careful.)
Finally, BroadQualm is over. After months of hand-wringing over whether or not Broadcom would buy — and then commit a hostile takeover — of the U.S. semiconductor giant, the Trump administration blocked the deal. A cascading series of events associated with the CFIUS, a government body, got it to the point where Broadcom’s aggressive dealmaker Hock Tan dropped plans to go after Qualcomm altogether. The largest deal of all time in tech will, indeed, not be happening (for now), and it has potentially pretty big implications for M&A going forward.
That’s all for this week, we’ll catch you guys next week. Happy March Madness, and may fortune favor* your brackets.
* assuming you have Duke losing before the elite 8.
As we watch major tech platforms evolve over time, it’s clear that companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon (among others) have created businesses that are having a huge impact on humanity — sometimes positive and other times not so much.
That suggests that these platforms have to understand how people are using them and when they are trying to manipulate them or use them for nefarious purposes — or the companies themselves are. We can apply that same responsibility filter to individual technologies like artificial intelligence and indeed any advanced technologies and the impact they could possibly have on society over time.
This was a running theme this week at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
The AI debate rages on
While the platform plays are clearly on the front lines of this discussion, tech icon Elon Musk repeated his concerns about AI running amok in a Q&A at South by Southwest. He worries that it won’t be long before we graduate from the narrow (and not terribly smart) AI we have today to a more generalized AI. He is particularly concerned that a strong AI could develop and evolve over time to the point it eventually matches the intellectual capabilities of humans. Of course, as TechCrunch’s Jon Shieber wrote, Musk sees his stable of companies as a kind of hedge against such a possible apocalypse.
“Narrow AI is not a species-level risk. It will result in dislocation… lost jobs… better weaponry and that sort of thing. It is not a fundamental, species-level risk, but digital super-intelligence is,” he told the South by Southwest audience.
He went so far as to suggest it could be more of a threat than nuclear warheads in terms of the kind of impact it could have on humanity.
Whether you agree with that assessment or not, or even if you think he is being somewhat self-serving with his warnings to promote his companies, he could be touching upon something important about corporate responsibility around the technology that startups and established companies alike are should heed.
It was certainly on the mind of Apple’s Eddy Cue, who was interviewed on stage at SXSW by CNN’s Dylan Byers this week. “Tech is a great thing and makes humans more capable, but in of itself is not for good. People who make it, have to make it for good,” Cue said.
We can be sure that Twitter’s creators never imagined a world where bots would be launched to influence an election when they created the company more than a decade ago. Over time though, it becomes crystal clear that Twitter, and indeed all large platforms, can be used for a variety of motivations, and the platforms have to react when they think there are certain parties who are using their networks to manipulate parts of the populace.
Cue dodged any of Byers’ questions about competing platforms, saying he could only speak to what Apple was doing because he didn’t have an inside view of companies like Facebook and Google (which he didn’t ever actually mention by name). “I think our company is different than what you’re talking about. Our customers’ privacy is of utmost importance to us,” he said. That includes, he said, limiting the amount of data they collect because they are not worrying about having enough to serve more meaningful ads. “We don’t care where you shop or what you buy,” he added.
Andy O’Connell from Facebook’s Global Policy Development team, speaking on a panel on the challenges of using AI to filter “fake news” said, that Facebook recognizes it can and should play a role if it sees people manipulating the platform. “This is a whole society issue, but there are technical things we are doing and things we can invest in [to help lessen the impact of fake news],” he said. He added that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed it as challenge to the company to make the platform more secure and that includes reducing the amount of false or misleading news that makes it onto the platform.
Recognizing tech’s limitations
As O’Connell put forth, this is not just a Facebook problem or a general technology problem. It’s a social problem and society as a whole needs to address it. Sometimes tech can help, but, we can’t always look to tech to solve every problem. The trouble is that we can never really anticipate how a given piece of technology will behave or how people use it once we put it out there.
All of this suggests that none of these problems, some of which we never could have never have even imagined, are easy to solve. For every action and reaction, there can be another set of unintended consequences, even with the best of intentions.
But it’s up to the companies who are developing the tech to recognize the responsibility that comes with great economic success or simply the impact of whatever they are creating could have on society. “Everyone has a responsibility [to draw clear lines]. It is something we do and how we want to run our company. In today’s world people have to take responsibility and we intend to do that,” Cue said.
It’s got to be more than lip service though. It requires thought and care and reacting when things do run amok, while continually assessing the impact of every decision.
Over the last several years, social media has become a critical and central way for businesses to communicate, and market to, their customers. Now, one of the startups that helped spearhead this trend has raised a round of growth funding to expand its horizons. Hootsuite, the Vacouver-based social media management company that counts some 16 million businesses as customers, said today that it has raised $50 million in growth capital — specifically through a credit financing agreement — from CIBC Innovation Banking.
We asked Ryan Holmes, the co-founder and CEO, for details about its valuation and funding, and said that it will be used for more acquisitions in the near future, and with it the valuation is unchanged.
“We opted for to go with non-dilutive credit at this point and found a great partner and terms in CIBC,” he wrote in an email. “The company is cash flow positive and the facility will primarily be reserved for M&A purposes. There is no associated valuation, however our latest 409a is up from last year and growth is very strong.”
“This financing is a testament to the strong fundamentals behind Hootsuite and our ongoing commitment to innovation and growth as the clear leader in social media management,” said Greg Twinney, CFO of Hootsuite, in a statement. “The additional capital will help us scale even faster to bring the most innovative products and partnerships to market globally and help our customers strategically build their brands, businesses and customer relationships with social.”
The funding, according to the release, will also be used to expand its business in Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America. It also plans to add in more tools to serve the needs of specific verticals like financial services, government and healthcare.
You may not know the name Hootsuite but you might recognise its mascot — an owl — and more specifically its corresponding shortened link — it starts with ‘ow.ly’ — that is used a lot on Twitter, the social network that gave Hootsuite its first customers and ubiquity.
Things have moved along quite a bit since those early days, when Hootsuite first started as a side project for Holmes, who himself was running a marketing and advertising agency when he started it.
Social media is now the fastest-growing category for marketing spend — partly because of the popularity of social networking services like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter; and partly because “eyeballs” can be better tracked and quantified on these networks over more legacy channels like print and outdoor ads. At the same time, presenting yourself as a business on a social network is getting harder and harder. Sites like Facebook are focused on trying to improve engagement, and that is leading it to rethink how it shares and emphasizes posts that are not organically created by normal people. On the other side, we’re seeing a new wave of privacy and data protection regulation come in that will change how data can be used across and within these sites.
All of this means that Hootsuite, and others that it competes with, need to get a lot smarter about what it offers to its customers, and how it offers it.
Starting as a modest tool that plugged into Twitter, Hootsuite itself now integrates with just about all of the major social platforms, most recently finally adding Instagram earlier this month. Its customers use a dashboard to both monitor a variety of social media platforms to track how their companies are being discussed, and also to send out messages to the world. And they now use that dashboard and Hootsuite for a growing array of other purposes, from placing ads to content marketing to analytics across an increasing number of platforms — a range of services that Hootsuite has developed both in-house and by way of acquisition.
One challenge that Hootsuite has had over the years has been the company’s focus on the freemium model, and how to convert its initially non-paying users into paying tiers with more premium offerings. Some of that expansion into new services appears to have helped tip the balance.
“In the past year, Hootsuite has seen tremendous growth from acquisitions like AdEspresso, to strategic partnerships with market leaders such as Adobe, to recognitions such as being named a leader in the Forrester Wave and G2 Crowd,” said Holmes in a statement. “This financing allows Hootsuite in continuing to create strong value for customers looking to unlock the power of social.”
Another challenge has been the fundamental fact that Hootsuite relies on third parties to essentially “complete” its offering: Hootsuite offers analytics and tools for marketing, but still needs to connect into social networks and their data pools in order to do that.
This makes the company somewhat dependent on the whims of those third parties. So, for example, if Twitter decides to either increase the fees it charges to Hootsuite, or tries to offer its own analytics and thereby cuts off some of Hootsuite’s access, this impacts the company.
One solution to this is to continue to integrate as many other platforms as possible, to create a position where its stronger because of the sum of its parts. Unsurprisingly, Hootsuite also says that some of the funding will be used to increase its partnerships and integrations.
More generally, we are seeing a trend of consolidation in the area of social media management, as several smaller, and more focused solutions are brought together under one umbrella to improve economies of scale, and also to build out that “hub” strategy, becoming more indispensable, by virtue of providing so much utility in one place.
Another massive financing round for an AI chip company is coming in today, this time for SambaNova Systems — a startup founded by a pair of Stanford professors and a longtime chip company executive — to build out the next generation of hardware to supercharge AI-centric operations.
SambaNova joins an already quite large class of startups looking to attack the problem of making AI operations much more efficient and faster by rethinking the actual substrate where the computations happen. While the GPU has become increasingly popular among developers for its ability to handle the kinds of lightweight mathematics in very speedy fashion necessary for AI operations. Startups like SambaNova look to create a new platform from scratch, all the way down to the hardware, that is optimized exactly for those operations. The hope is that by doing that, it will be able to outclass a GPU in terms of speed, power usage, and even potentially the actual size of the chip. SambaNova today said it has raised a massive $56 million series A financing round led by GV, with participation from Redline Capital and Atlantic Bridge Ventures.
SambaNova is the product of technology from Kunle Olukotun and Chris Ré, two professors at Stanford, and led by former SVP of development Rodrigo Liang, who was also a VP at Sun for almost 8 years. When looking at the landscape, the team at SambaNova looked to work their way backwards, first identifying what operations need to happen more efficiently and then figuring out what kind of hardware needs to be in place in order to make that happen. That boils down to a lot of calculations stemming from a field of mathematics called linear algebra done very, very quickly, but it’s something that existing CPUs aren’t exactly tuned to do. And a common criticism from most of the founders in this space is that Nvidia GPUs, while much more powerful than CPUs when it comes to these operations, are still ripe for disruption.
“You’ve got these huge [computational] demands, but you have the slowing down of Moore’s law,” Olukotun said. “The question is, how do you meet these demands while Moore’s law slows. Fundamentally you have to develop computing that’s more efficient. If you look at the current approaches to improve these applications based on multiple big cores or many small, or even FPGA or GPU, we fundamentally don’t think you can get to the efficiencies you need. You need an approach that’s different in the algorithms you use and the underlying hardware that’s also required. You need a combination of the two in order to achieve the performance and flexibility levels you need in order to move forward.”
While a $56 million funding round for a series A might sound massive, it’s becoming a pretty standard number for startups looking to attack this space, which has an opportunity to beat massive chipmakers and create a new generation of hardware that will be omnipresent among any device that is built around artificial intelligence — whether that’s a chip sitting on an autonomous vehicle doing rapid image processing to potentially even a server within a healthcare organization training models for complex medical problems. Graphcore, another chip startup, got $50 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, while Cerebras Systems also received significant funding from Benchmark Capital.
Olukotun and Liang wouldn’t go into the specifics of the architecture, but they are looking to redo the operational hardware to optimize for the AI-centric frameworks that have become increasingly popular in fields like image and speech recognition. At its core, that involves a lot of rethinking of how interaction with memory occurs and what happens with heat dissipation for the hardware, among other complex problems. Apple, Google with its TPU, and reportedly Amazon have taken an intense interest in this space to design their own hardware that’s optimized for products like Siri or Alexa, which makes sense because dropping that latency to as close to zero as possible with as much accuracy in the end improves the user experience. A great user experience leads to more lock-in for those platforms, and while the larger players may end up making their own hardware, GV’s Dave Munichiello — who is joining the company’s board — says this is basically a validation that everyone else is going to need the technology soon enough.
“Large companies see a need for specialized hardware and infrastructure,” he said. “AI and large-scale data analytics are so essential to providing services the largest companies provide that they’re willing to invest in their own infrastructure, and that tells us more more investment is coming. What Amazon and Google and Microsoft and Apple are doing today will be what the rest of the Fortune 100 are investing in in 5 years. I think it just creates a really interesting market and an opportunity to sell a unique product. It just means the market is really large, if you believe in your company’s technical differentiation, you welcome competition.”
There is certainly going to be a lot of competition in this area, and not just from those startups. While SambaNova wants to create a true platform, there are a lot of different interpretations of where it should go — such as whether it should be two separate pieces of hardware that handle either inference or machine training. Intel, too, is betting on an array of products, as well as a technology called Field Programmable Gate Arrays (or FPGA), which would allow for a more modular approach in building hardware specified for AI and are designed to be flexible and change over time. Both Munichiello’s and Olukotun’s arguments are that these require developers who have a special expertise of FPGA, which a sort of niche-within-a-niche that most organizations will probably not have readily available.
Nvidia has been a massive benefactor in the explosion of AI systems, but it clearly exposed a ton of interest in investing in a new breed of silicon. There’s certainly an argument for developer lock-in on Nvidia’s platforms like Cuda. But there are a lot of new frameworks, like TensorFlow, that are creating a layer of abstraction that are increasingly popular with developers. That, too represents an opportunity for both SambaNova and other startups, who can just work to plug into those popular frameworks, Olukotun said. Cerebras Systems CEO Andrew Feldman actually also addressed some of this on stage at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference last month.
“Nvidia has spent a long time building an ecosystem around their GPUs, and for the most part, with the combination of TensorFlow, Google has killed most of its value,” Feldman said at the conference. “What TensorFlow does is, it says to researchers and AI professionals, you don’t have to get into the guts of the hardware. You can write at the upper layers and you can write in Python, you can use scripts, you don’t have to worry about what’s happening underneath. Then you can compile it very simply and directly to a CPU, TPU, GPU, to many different hardwares, including ours. If in order to do work you have to be the type of engineer that can do hand-tuned assembly or can live deep in the guts of hardware there will be no adoption… We’ll just take in their TensorFlow, we don’t have to worry about anything else.”
(As an aside, I was once told that Cuda and those other lower-level platforms are really used by AI wonks like Yann LeCun building weird AI stuff in the corners of the Internet.)
There are, also, two big question marks for SambaNova: first, it’s very new, having started in just November while many of these efforts for both startups and larger companies have been years in the making. Munichiello’s answer to this is that the development for those technologies did, indeed, begin a while ago — and that’s not a terrible thing as SambaNova just gets started in the current generation of AI needs. And the second, among some in the valley, is that most of the industry just might not need hardware that’s does these operations in a blazing fast manner. The latter, you might argue, could just be alleviated by the fact that so many of these companies are getting so much funding, with some already reaching close to billion-dollar valuations.
But, in the end, you can now add SambaNova to the list of AI startups that have raised enormous rounds of funding — one that stretches out to include a myriad of companies around the world like Graphcore and Cerebras Systems, as well as a lot of reported activity out of China with companies like Cambricon Technology and Horizon Robotics. This effort does, indeed, require significant investment not only because it’s hardware at its base, but it has to actually convince customers to deploy that hardware and start tapping the platforms it creates, which supporting existing frameworks hopefully alleviates.
“The challenge you see is that the industry, over the last ten years, has underinvested in semiconductor design,” Liang said. “If you look at the innovations at the startup level all the way through big companies, we really haven’t pushed the envelope on semiconductor design. It was very expensive and the returns were not quite as good. Here we are, suddenly you have a need for semiconductor design, and to do low-power design requires a different skillset. If you look at this transition to intelligent software, it’s one of the biggest transitions we’ve seen in this industry in a long time. You’re not accelerating old software, you want to create that platform that’s flexible enough [to optimize these operations] — and you want to think about all the pieces. It’s not just about machine learning.”
Seattle-based Strix Leviathan, an enterprise trading and management platform for crypto assets founded by startup vet Jesse Proudman, today announced that it has raised a $1.625 million seed round led by Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures (yes, that Joe Montana). Other investors include Founders’ Co-op, Future\Perfect Ventures and 9Mile Labs, as well as angel investors like Chris McCoy, Doug Baldwin Jr., Kirby Winfield and Steve Hall.
Prior to founding Strix Leviathan, Proudman was the founder and CEO of Blue Box, a cloud computing startup that was acquired by IBM in 2015. With this new startup, Proudman’s moving into a somewhat different space, but as he told me when the company first launched, he believes the state of crypto is similar to the state of the Internet when he launched his first startup in 1997.
Given his experience in the enterprise world, it’s maybe no surprise that Proudman opted to take an enterprise approach to crypto, too. “Many Institutional investors have struggled to figure out the best path of entry into cryptocurrency markets due to the inherent complexities of the space,” he said. “We’re squarely focused on solving trading and management of cryptocurrencies for these institutions and enterprises. Considering the thousands of individual trading pairs, the plethora of exchanges and the immaturity of cryptocurrency markets, these investors desperately need a platform to simplify their trading initiatives. The markets are ready for an offering like ours and we’re excited to bring it to them.”
To do this, the Strix Leviathan team is building three core features: a data ingestion engine for pulling in relevant data across a variety of sources, algorithmic trading strategies based on this data that others can license, and an order gateway that allows the service to execute trades across many of the popular crypto exchanges.
“I’ve seen the birth of PCs, the internet and mobile,” said Liquid 2 Ventures’ Joe Montana in a statement today. “It’s early, but I think crypto may be the next revolution. Unfortunately, it’s also full of scams. Right now the key is to find the right team that is doing something new and to trust them. We’ve known Jesse for years. He’s proven himself to be trustworthy and adaptive in fast paced markets. Strix should be huge.”
A massive company probably has plenty of engineers on staff and the resources to build a complex backbone of interconnected information that can contain tons of data and make acting on it easy — but for smaller companies, and for those that aren’t technical, those tools aren’t very accessible.
That’s what convinced Howie Liu to create Airtable, a startup that looks to turn what seems like just a normal spreadsheet into a robust database tool, hiding the complexity of what’s happening in the background while those without any programming experience create intricate systems to get their work done. Today, they’re trying to take that one step further with a new tool called Blocks, a set of mix-and-match operations like SMS and integrating maps that users can just drop into their systems. Think of it as a way to give a small business owner with a non-technical background to meticulously track all the performance activity across, say, a network of food trucks by just entering a bunch of dollar values and dropping in one of these tools.
“We really want to take this power you have in software creation and ‘consumerize’ that into a form anyone can use,” Liu said. “At the same time, from a business standpoint, we saw this bigger opportunity underneath the low-code app platforms in general. Those platforms solve the needs of heavyweight expensive use cases where you have a budget and have a lot of time. I would position Airtable making a leap toward a graphical user interface, versus a lot of products that are admin driven.”
Liu said the company has raised an additional $52 million in financing in a round led by CRV and Caffeinated Capital, with participation from Freestyle Ventures and Slow Ventures. All this is going toward a way to build a system that is trying to abstract out even the process of programming itself, though there’s always going to be some limited scope as to how custom of a system you can actually make with what amounts to a set of logic operation legos. That being said, the goal here is to boil down all of the most common sets of operations with the long tail left to the average programmers (and larger enterprises often have these kinds of highly-customized needs).
All this is coming at a time when businesses are increasingly chasing the long tail of small- to medium-sized businesses, the ones that aren’t really on the grid but represent a massive market opportunity. Those businesses also probably don’t have the kinds of resources to hire engineers while companies like Google or Facebook are camping out on college campuses looking to snap up students graduating with technical majors. That’s part of the reason why Excel had become so popular trying to abstract out a lot of complex operations necessary to run a business, but at the same time, Liu said that kind of philosophy should be able to be taken a step further.
“If you look at cloud, you have Amazon’s [cloud infrastructure] EC2, which abstracted the hardware level and you can build on existing machine intelligence,” Liu said. “Then, you get the OS level and up. Containers, Heroku, and other tools have extracted away the operation level complexity. But you have to write the app and modal logic. Our goal is to go a big leap forward on top of that and abstract out the app code layer. You should be able to directly use our interface, and blocks, all these plug and play lego pieces that give you more dynamic functionality — whether a map view or an integration with Twilio.”
And, really, all these platforms like Twilio have tried to make themselves pretty friendly to coding beginners as-is. Twilio has a lot of really good documentation for first-time developers to learn to use their platforms. But Airtable hopes to serve as a way to interconnect all these things in a complex web, creating a relational database behind the scenes that users can operate on in a more simplistic matter that’s still accurate, fast, and reliable.
“Obviously MySQL is great if you want to use code or custom SQL queries to interface with the data,” Liu said. “But, ultimately, you’d never as a business end user consider using literally a terminal-based SQL prompt as the primary interface to and from your data. Certainly you wouldn’t put that on your designs. Clearly you would want some interface on top of the SQL level database. We basically expose the full value of a relational database like Postgres to the end user, but we also give them something equally but more important: the interface on the top that makes the data immediately visible.”
There’s been a lot of activity trying to rethink these sort of fundamental formats that the average user is used to, but are ripe for more flexibility. Coda, a startup trying to rethink the notion behind a word document, raised $60 million, and all this points towards moves to try to create a more robust toolkit for non-technical users. That also means that it’s going to be an increasingly hot space, and especially look like an opportunity for companies that are already looking to host these kinds of services online like Amazon or Microsoft and have the buy-in from those businesses.
Liu, too, said that the goal of the company was to go after all potential business cases right away by creating a what-you-see-is-what-you-get one size fits all platform — which is usually called a horizontal approach. That’s often a very risky move, and it’s probably the biggest question mark for the company as there’s an opportunity for some other startups or companies to come in and grab niches of that whole pie in specific areas (like, say, a custom GUI programming interface for healthcare). But Liu said the opportunity for Airtable was to go horizontal from day one.
“There’s this assumption that software has to involve literally writing code,” Liu said. “It’s sort of a difficult thing to extricate ourselves from because we have built so much with writing code. But when you think about what goes into a useful application, especially in the business-to-business internal tools in a company use case which forms the bulk of software that’s consumed in terms of lines of code written, most of them are primarily a relational database model, and the relational database aspect of it is not an arbitrary format.
TypingDNA has a new approach to verifying your identity based on how you type.
The startup, which is part of the current class at Techstars NYC, is pitching this as an alternative to two-factor authentication — namely, the security feature that sends unique codes to a separate device (usually your phone) to make sure someone else isn’t logging in with your password.
The problem with two factor? TypingDNA Raul Popa put it simply: “It’s a bad user experience … Nobody wants to use a different device.” (I know that TechCrunch writers have had two-factor issues of their own, like when they’re trying to log in on an airplane and can’t connect their phone.)
So TypingDNA allows users to verify their identity without having to whip out their phone. Instead, they just enter their name and password into a window, then TypingDNA will analyze their typing and confirm that it’s really them.
The startup’s business model revolves around working with partners to incorporate the technology, but it’s also launching a free Chrome extension that works as an alternative to two-factor authentication on a wide range of services, including Amazon Web Services, Coinbase and Gmail.
Popa said TypingDNA measures two key aspects of your typing: How long it takes you to reach a key and how long you keep the key pressed down. Apparently these patterns are unique; Popa showed me that the system could tell the difference between his typing and mine, and you can test it out for yourself on the TypingDNA website.
He also said that the company can adjust the strictness of the system, getting the rate of false positives as low as 0.1 percent. In the case of the Chrome authenticator, Popa said, “We minimize the false acceptance rate” — so you might get rejected if you’re typing in an unusual position, or if there’s some other reason you’re typing slower or faster than usual. But in that case, the authenticator will just ask you to try again.
And again, you can use the Chrome extension on a variety of sites. Most two-factor options include confirming a device using a QR code, which TypingDNA can grab. The two-factor codes are then sent to the TypingDNA extension (the codes are stored locally on your computer, not the company’s servers), and they’re revealed once you’ve verified your identity with the aforementioned typing.
You can visit TypingDNA to learn more and download the extension.
Separate fact from fiction when applying a machine learning tool to your processes.
It doesn’t matter if you are an established company or a new startup; IT projects will always pile up at every stage of the business.You would have to consider deadlines to meet, businesses to execute, among other demands. How will you be able to handle your business plans and at the same time finish your IT projects, on time? Note that without the support of experts, it will be difficult to find the right software development tools that you will need for smooth business operations.
The ANSWER is to find a reputable software development company!
There are several ways to go about choosing one, and below is a list of vital points to consider before striking a deal with any company.
When thinking of outsourcing your IT projects, it is essential that you seek for a software development company that exhibits similar values as your business.
Also, a reputable software development company should be able to present significant references and certifications, along candid answers to inquiries that you may ask.
Transparency in communication helps create the basis for mutual understanding and respect for intellectual property and confidential matters.
Scope of services
Ensure to place your IT projects within the hands of expert software developers that will guarantee that your job is thoroughly and professionally completed. It is essential to carry out due diligence in this regards before signing or agreeing on anything.
Other factors to consider
Identify what you really want: As a business owner, it is essential that you have a business model on ground. It means that you should have objectives, know your target audience, and strategies to succeed.
Understanding these basics will help you find a reputable software development company that will suit the scope of your business.
Seek for a software company that is known for good reputation. Do it by finding out such company’s relationship with clients.
If you plan on hiring the best Software development company Boca Raton, Florida, then it’s important to find out how the company deals & relates with its clients. Communication is important when building a business partnership. Find out if concrete discussions are initiated during the early phases or all through the entire development process.
Furthermore, it is vital that you find out if the software company has a workforce of highly skilled professionals. Aside skills, the company should have software developers that have the capacity to face and conquer hurdles.
A software development company should also be able to perform projects within minimal time frame, and should have reputation for not missing deadlines.
Lastly, you have to consider pricing, as this will help you stay right within budget. A reasonable software development company will offer flexible pricing options!
Choosing the right software development company requires loads of planning and research. And never forget that your choice of a company will have a long-term effect on your business; so go for one that best suits you.
DREAMTECH is a leading software development company in Boca Raton, Florida and has a workforce of highly competent software developers. Save yourself the search and work with a reputable firm that was tested by hundreds of satisfied clients!
From shopping to calling a taxicab, mobile apps are progressively turning into a huge piece of our every day lives. As indicated by a BI Intelligence report, buys made through mobile gadgets expanded 48 percent year-over-year to around $8 billion in the second quarter of 2014. Another comScore report recommends that more than 60 percent of web movement for the nine greatest US retail sites originated from mobile gadgets in July 2014 and the greater part of them began from mobile apps.
At present, mobile gadgets represent 22 percent of all retail eCommerce deals in the U.S., which is relied upon to achieve 27 percent by 2018. Actually, very nearly 33% of eCommerce deals begin from mobile gadgets and larger part of them are in-app deals.
Mobile apps are along these lines on rise and this isn’t just constrained to retail scene. From gaming and stimulation to big business apps, it is practically difficult to live today without them, making these apps the quickest developing class in contemporary versatility market.
Consider the accompanying details:
As indicated by a Flurry Analytics study, the normal US mobile shoppers burn through 86 percent of their “cell phone time” on apps. The study found that cell phone clients spend around 2 hours and 42 minutes by and large on mobile gadgets, out of which app utilization summons 2 hours and 19 minutes.
As of May 2014, mobile gadgets represent just about 60 percent of the aggregate advanced media time spent and 51 percent of that time was spoken to by app utilization.
Another Nielsen report recommends that cell phone clients spend around 89 percent of their media time in mobile apps, and the remaining 11 percent on mobile web.
Given these measurements, it is clear that mobile apps are good to go to make omnipresent vicinity in the coming days. It’s a given that you ought to utilize them further bolstering your good fortune, in the event that you haven’t as of now. What’s more, this requires you not just to stay redesigned about the most recent patterns in the mobile app development scene, additionally apprehend the future patterns well ahead of time to survive the business sector rivalry.
Here are 4 forecasts about mobile app development in 2016.
1. App Security Comes At The Fore
A Gartner report estimated that more than 75 percent of mobile apps (speaking to 3 out of each 4 applications) will fizzle essential efforts to establish safety through 2015. This issue kept the app developers on their toes every single through this year and prone to remain their prime center in 2016 too. We should take Apple for instance. The iOS 9 stage is as of now known for its top of the line security highlights and developers need to guarantee that their apps can run safely, without trading off the uprightness of the iOS stage.
The efforts to establish safety for Android app development is additionally prone to get significantly more grim as Google too is expanding their security conventions for Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It is extremely unlikely you can ignore security holes in your mobile applications on the off chance that you need to see them in the app stores.
Indeed, these strict security conventions are very reasonable, given that apps today are progressively putting away individual and exceedingly delicate data including bank points of interest and SSN of the client. Any sort of security crevices can bring about hacking and data spills, which has as of now been a noteworthy cerebral pain for app developers this year. You will consequently need to truly follow up on mobile app security in 2016.
2. App would be Cloud Driven
Cloud innovation assumed a noteworthy part in mobile app development all through 2015 and this is liable to proceed in the coming years too. The purposes for the upsurge of cloud-based applications is essentially two-fold.
To start with, developers can keep the real size of their mobile apps little, on account of cloud-backing. This further permits them to deal with the data transfer capacity and planned memory issues better. Besides, clients can adjust their apps over numerous gadgets due to cloud similarity. This is truth be told a need, considering the developing use of numerous brilliant gadgets and wearable tech.
With cloud similarity, developers can now fabricate apps that give same elements, capacities and information over different gadgets. As should be obvious, cross-usefulness between stages like iOS and OS X is as of now on rise and Android and PCs are additionally taking after the suit.
3, Venture App will Receive More Traction
There has been a sensational ascent in number of mobile apps accessible on the app stores. Starting July 2015, Google Play Store has more than 1.6 million apps, while Apple’s App Store has 1.5 million accessible apps.
Among every one of these apps, venture apps gets the most extreme footing, taking off over purchaser apps. Just about 20 percent of worldwide developers are focusing on undertakings, attributable to their financial advantages. Besides, concentrates likewise demonstrate that 43 percent of big business app developers are making over $10K in a month, though just 19 percent of customer app developers make a comparative sum. This alone clarifies developers’ “adoration” for big business apps.
This pattern is prone to proceed in the coming days too. It is assessed that very nearly 35 percent of every expansive enterpris will have their own particular mobile app development stages by 2016. Gartner even anticipated that before the end of 2017, the business sector interest for big business mobile app will beat the IT associations’ ability to convey them by five to one.
4. The Internet of Things becomes the dominant focal point
Web of Things is as of now a major thing, because of the buzz made by Google Glass, iWatch and other wearable techs. What’s more, now, it is good to go to take app development to the following stage. As per Cisco, “IoE Creates $19 Trillion of Value at Stake for Companies and Industries.” TechNavio too predicts that IOT business sector is required to grow 31.72 percent (CAGR) somewhere around 2014 and 2019.
Gartner, then again, gauges that the income era for IoT item and administration suppliers will surpass $300 billion in 2020. Also, on the off chance that you are to trust World Economic Forum, more than 5 billion individuals will be associated with one another, crosswise over 50 billion things.
So don’t let Internet of Things take a secondary lounge in your app development procedure in light of the fact that Google Glass neglected to experience the desire. Actually, wearable savvy gadgets will stay unabated. Take inspiration from the blossoming accomplishment of iWatch. Apple has put significant difficulties for WatchKit developers with their dispatch of watchOS 2 this year.
To stay in then rivalry, you won’t just need to make app augmentations for watch additionally make applications that consistently fit the usefulness of such wearable gadgets. The app-mean Apple Watch has effectively crossed 10000 and it is required to develop no less than three-fold before the end of 2016.
What Does This All Mean?
Some of these mobile app development have as of now picked up force while others are gaining a relentless ground. Be that as it may, there is most likely they are going to make critical imprints in mobile app development scene in 2016 and past. On the off chance that you are yet to attempt your hands on these patterns, ample opportunity has already past to prepare yourself to make a definitive mobile encounters for your clients. What’s more, obviously, be prepared and energized for every one of the advancements 2016 is liable to carry alongside it.