#Brandneu – 7 neue Startups, die extrem spannend sind


deutsche-startups.de präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

OpenDress
OpenDress aus Konstanz entwickelt einen Algorithmus für 3D-Schnittmuster. Zum Konzept teilt die Jungfirma mit: “The algorithmic customization of sewing patterns offers an alternative approach to sustainable and inclusive fashion production – without standardised rules, size ideologies and genderification”. Gegründet wurde das Startup von Frauke Link und Verena Ziegler.

Advanced Sponsorship Insights
Advanced Sponsorship Insights entwickelt ein datenbasiertes Ökosystem rund um das Thema Sponsoringanalyse. Damit möchte das Team den “wahren Wert von Sponsorship” ermitteln. Das Startup wurde von Paulo Pinto und Rainer Schuster gegründet, die beide jeweils über ein Jahrzehnt bei adidas gearbeitet haben.

Trackbar
Das junge Fitness-Startup Trackbar analysiert und digitalisiert mit einem Sensor Kraftübungen – und zwar “vom Home-Workout bis zum Fitnessstudio”. Neben Kunden und Kundinnen sind dabei auch Trainer*innen und Fitnessstudios Zielgruppe der Jungfirma aus Wien.

EasyOP
Das junge E-Health-Startup EasyOP verspricht seinen Nutzern im Vorfeld von Operationen bzw. medizinischen Eingriffen “umfassende Informationen, ärztliche Aufklärung und persönliche Beratung. Alles aus einer Hand. Ganz bequem von zu Hause”.

Mieterio
Über Mieterio können Immobilienbesitzer ihre Wohnung vermieten. Das Startup aus Karlsruhe kümmert sich dann um die Mietersuche, alle rechtlichen Themen und auch die Nebenkosten. “Wir kümmern uns als direkter Ansprechpartner um jegliche Belange des Mieters”, teilt die Jungfirma mit.

Floox
Das Stuttgarter Startup Floox bietet Online-Kurse zu unterschiedlichen Kunstrichtungen an. Auf der Website heißt es: “Weg vom Smartphone, ran an dein Kunstwerk! In unseren Online Kursen lernst du Schritt für Schritt, wie du coole Kunstwerke selbst erstellst”.

myuterus
Das junge Koblenzer FemTech myuterus bietet eine Online-Verhütungsberatung für Frauen an. “Ein Team von Expertinnen unterstützt Frauen per Video oder Telefon bei der Suche nach dem passenden Verhütungsmittel”, teilt Gründerin Leonie Fries zum Konzept mit.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#adtech, #advanced-sponsorship-insights, #aktuell, #brandneu, #e-health, #e-learning, #easyop, #femtech, #fitness, #floox, #georgensgmund, #karlsruhe, #koblenz, #konstanz, #kunst, #mieterio, #myuterus, #opendress, #proptech, #startup-radar, #stuttgart, #telemedizin, #trackbar, #wien

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#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Hanse Ventures investiert StrollMe + Pottsalat sammelt 2 Millionen ein – Revo Foods bekommt 1,5 Millionen


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 12. April werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

StrollMe
+++ Der Hamburger Geldgeber Hanse Ventures investiert gemeinsam mit Edition.VC, also Lovoo-Gründer Björn Bak, in StrollMe. Das Münchner Startup, das 2020 von Timon Beutel und Sebastian Reichelt gegründet wurde, bietet Kinderwagen und Kinderfahrräder im Abo. an. “Das Abo wächst mit deinem Kind mit und du bist immer mit der passenden Größe unterwegs. Es ist Zeit, Besitz neu zu denken und unsere Ressourcen zu schützen”, heißt es auf der Website. Hanse Ventures hält nun 16,7 % an StrollMe. Auf Edition.VC entfallen 9,3 %. Auf die Gründer entfallen jeweils 36 %. Zudem gibt es mit dem ClimateTech tree-for-good und Peøple who Kær, einem Startup rund um Nahrungsergänzungsmittel für Hunde anbietet, zwei weitere Neuzugänge im Portfolio von Hanse Ventures. Zu guter Letzt gehört neuerdings auch pryntad, ein Marktplatz für Printanzeigen, zum Portfolio von Hanse Ventures. Das AdTech, 2019 gegründet, ist aber auch schon auf der Website des Investors gelistet. Mehr auch im aktuellen News-Podcast #EXKLUSIV

Pottsalat
+++ Die beiden BackWerk-Macher sowie Hans im Glück-Gesellschafter Hans Christian Limmer und Dirk Schneider und die Altinvestoren investieren 2 Millionen Euro in das Food-Startup Pottsalat. Das Unternehmen aus Essen, das 2016 von Ben Küstner, Pia Gerigk und Alexandra Künne gegründet wurde, beliefert derzeit den Großteil Essens sowie Teile von Mülheim an der Ruhr, Oberhausen, Gelsenkirchen und Dortmund mit Salaten. “In 2019 erreichte das Unternehmen erstmals einen Jahresumsatz von über einer Million Euro. Diese Marke knackte Pottsalat in 2021 bereits im ersten Quartal”, teilt die Food-Firma mit. Mit dem frischen Kapital möchte das Pottsalat-Team im “Ruhrgebiet und darüber hinaus im Westen wachsen”. In der Vergangenheit investieren bereits die Business Angels Johannis Hatt, Kai Seefeldt, Oliver Weimann und Matthias Willenbacher in Pottsalat. Mehr über Pottsalat: “Hier kommt das Essen mit dem Fahrrad zum Kunden“.

Anzeige
+++ In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar abonnieren und 30 Tage kostenlos testen!

Revo Foods
+++ Hazelpond Capital, friends2grow, die MKO Holding aus Österreich und eine Reihe Business Angels investieren 1,5 Millionen Euro in das Wiener Food-Startup Revo Foods, früher als Legendary Vish bekannt. Das Unternehmen entwickelt pflanzliche Fischalternativen aus dem 3D-Drucker. Das Startup wurde 2020 von Robin Simsa und Theresa Rothenbücher gegründet.

tech11 
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in das Würzburger InsurTech-Startup tech11.  Das, Unternehmen, das 2018 von Pierre Dubosq und Matthias Reining gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine digitale Plattform für die Policen- und Schadenverwaltung. “tech11 hat unter Verwendung modernster Technologie- und Industriestandards eine vollumfängliche End-to-End-Plattform für die Vertrags- und Schadenverwaltung auf der grünen Wiese gebaut”, teilt der Geldgeber mit.

Awake Mobility
+++ Synapse Partners aus dem Silicon Valley, der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) und Vireo Ventures investieren in Awake Mobility. Das Münchner Startup möchte den ÖPNV digitalisieren. Konkret geht es unter anderem darum, Bus-Ausfälle zu verhindern und Instandhaltungskosten zu reduzieren. Gelingen soll dies mit Hilfe von Künstlicher Intelligenz und ganz ganz vielen Daten. Das Startup wurde 2020 von Houssem Braham, Daniel Sattel und Daniel Tyoschitz gegründet.

Immutable Insight
+++ Daniel Hopp, der Sohn von Dietmar Hopp, und andere Familienunternehmer investieren in Immutable Insight – siehe FinanceFWD. Das Blockchain-Startup wurde 2019 von Katharina Gehra, Volker Winterer und Giyun Jeong gegründet, arbeitet dem Bericht zufolge “zusammen mit Familienunternehmen an konkreten Blockchain-Projekten”. Darunter ein 100-Millionen-Fonds.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#adtech, #aktuell, #awake-mobility, #blockchainfonds, #edition-vc, #essen, #food, #friends2grow, #hanse-ventures, #hazelpond-capital, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #immutable-insight, #insurtech, #munchen, #people-who-kaer, #pottsalat, #pryntad, #revo-foods, #ruhrgebiet, #strollme, #synapse-partners, #tech11, #tree-for-good, #venture-capital, #vireo-ventures, #wien, #wurzburg

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Spotify opens a second personalized playlist to sponsors, after ‘Discover Weekly’ in 2019

Spotify is opening up its personalized playlist, “On Repeat,” to advertising sponsorship. This playlist, launched in 2019 and featuring users’ favorite songs, is only the second personalized playlist on the music streaming service that’s being made available for sponsorship. Spotify’s flagship playlist, “Discover Weekly,” became the first in 2019.

The sponsorship is made possible through the company’s Sponsored Playlist ad product, which gives brands the ability to market to Spotify’s free users with audio, video and display ad messages across breaks, allowing the advertiser to own the experience “end-to-end,” the company says.

It also gives brands an opportunity to reach Spotify’s most engaged users.

When Spotify opened up “Discover Weekly” to sponsorship, for example, it noted that users who listened to this playlist streamed more than double those who didn’t. Similarly, “On Repeat” caters to Spotify’s more frequent users because of its focus on tracks users have played most often.

Since the launch of “On Repeat” in September 2019, Spotify says the playlist has reached 12 billion streams globally. Fans have also spent over 750 million hours listening to the playlist, where artists like Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, and Ariana Grande have topped the list for “most repeated” listens.

Though Spotify today offers its numerous owned and operated playlists for sponsorship, its personalized playlists have largely been off-limits — except for “Discover Weekly.” These are highly-valued properties, as Spotify directs users to stream collections powered by its algorithms, which Spotify organizes in its ever-expanding “Made for You” hub in its app. Here, users can jump in between “Discover Weekly,” and other collections organized by genre, artist, decade, and more — like new releases, favorites, suggestions, and more.

With the launch of sponsorship for “On Repeat,” brands across 30 global markets, including North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific will be able to own another of Spotify’s largest personalized properties for a time.

The first U.S. advertiser to take advantage of the sponsorship is TurboTax, which cited the personalization elements and user engagement with the playlist among the reasons why the ad product made sense for them.

“Like music, taxes are not one size fits all. Every tax situation is unique and every individual’s needs are different,” said Cathleen Ryan, VP of Marketing for TurboTax, in a statement about the launch. “We’re using Spotify’s deep connection to its engaged listeners to get in front of consumers and show them that with TurboTax you can get the expertise you need on your terms. With Spotify, we’re able to get both reach and unique targeting that ensures the right audiences know about the tools, guidance and expertise that TurboTax offers,” she added.

#ad-technology, #adtech, #advertising, #advertising-tech, #brands, #media, #personalization, #playlist, #spotify, #streaming-music, #turbotax

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Amid pandemic, Middle East adtech startups play essential role in business growth

The pandemic’s impact on the business world encouraged adtech startups and digital marketing agencies to collaborate more, helping brands survive the pandemic by bringing businesses closer to consumers.

Although overall spending on advertising slowed in 2020, it is expected to recover in 2021 and reach $630 billion in 2024. According to Statista, North America spends the most on advertising, with second place going to Asia and Western Europe. The rest of Europe, Africa and the Middle East lag behind.

Although overall spending on advertising slowed in 2020, it is expected to recover in 2021 and reach $630 billion in 2024.

However, the Middle East embodies great potential. According to Statista, it boasts the highest growth, with a 600% increase in digital advertising in the MENA region between 2010 and 2015. Although consumers in the region used to prefer traditional advertising channels, the internet took over in 2020, with 44.2% of the total ad expenditures, while TV dropped to 30%.

Here are several essential characteristics of digital advertising in the Middle East region:

  1. According to a PwC report, 39% of shoppers in the Middle East use social media to find inspiration for purchases, compared to the global average of 29%.
  2. Due to the existence of a shadow economy, political regulations and unofficial business, the amount of digital ad spending in the MENA region ranged from $1 billion to $1.2 billion in 2020.
  3. Paid social is the leading category in digital advertising expenditures in the MENA region. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the largest in terms of active YouTube users.
  4. There are more than 500 digital agencies listed in the region. UAE is leading in terms of big advertising agencies, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are famous for small- and medium-size agencies. Most digital marketing talent and creative resources reside in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, while most adtech startups are born in Israel, UAE and Qatar, according to digital marketing consultant Yasser Ahmad.
  5. E-commerce is driving growth, hitting $17 billion in the Middle East in 2020, according to Statista, with many online shoppers increasing the frequency of purchases during the pandemic.

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #column, #digital-marketing, #ec-consumer-applications, #ec-enterprise-applications, #ec-market-map, #middle-east, #online-advertising, #social-media, #tc

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#DealMonitor – Wellster bekommt weitere Millionen – Digital Turbine übernimmt Fyber (Bewertung: 600 Millionen)


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 23. März werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Wellster Healthtech Group
+++ SevenVentures, der Venture Capital-Ableger der ProSiebenSat.1 Group, investiert in die Wellster Healthtech Group, früher als Direct Health Service bekannt. “Das Investment im mittleren einstelligen Millionenbereich war Teil einer größeren Investorenrunde, in der unter anderem auch die Gründer von Invincible Brands und Momox sowie ein weiterer Media-Investor, German Media Pool, mitinvestiert haben”, teilt das Startup mit.  Zur Wellster Healthtech Group, die 2018 von Manuel Nothelfer und Nico Hribernik gegründet wurde, gehören Marken wie easy, easytest, mySpring und Spring. Das Startup kümmert sich um sogenannte Alltagsgesundheit und Themen wie Intimgesundheit Haarausfall. HV Capital investierte ebenfalls bereits in das Unternehmen.

Anzeige
+++ In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar abonnieren und 30 Tage kostenlos testen!

Getsteps 
+++ Der Kölner Geldgeber STS Ventures, also Onvista-Gründer Stephan Schubert, investierte bereits im vergangenen Jahr in Getsteps – siehe Gründerszene. Die Jungfirma, das von Vincent Hoursch und Annik Wolf gegründet wurde, will in den kommenden Jahren zum Online-Marktführer für Fußgesundheit aufsteigen. GetSteps funktioniert dabei mit einem Abdruckset, das die Nutzer nach ihrer ersten Bestellung nach Hause geschickt bekommen. Home24-Gründer Felix Jahn und Helpling-Gründer Benedikt Franke investierten zuvor bereits in GetSteps. Insgeamt flossen bereits 1,7 Millionen Euro in die Jungfirma, die gerade erst in der Vox-Show “Die Höhle der Löwen” um Investoren kämpfte.

credX
+++ Dominik Schiener beteiligt sich mit knapp 10 % am Fintech credX. “Der Gründer der Kryptowährung IOTA und Chairman der IOTA Foundation wird künftig die strategische Entwicklung der credX AG, dem digitalen Marktplatz für großvolumige Finanzierungen, insbesondere gewerbliche Immobilienfinanzierungen, aktiv mitgestalten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Joachim Schoss und Wolfgang Reitzle waren zuvor schon an credX beteiligt.

EXITS

Fyber
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen Digital Turbine übernimmt mehr als 90 % am AdTech Fyber. Die Bewertung (100 %) liegt bei 600 Millionen US-Dollar. “400 Millionen US-Dollar zahlbar in Aktien von Digital Turbine und 150 Millionen US-Dollar in bar, zusätzliche Earn-Out Zahlung von bis zu 50 Millionen US-Dollar zahlbar in Aktien von Digital Turbine”, teilen die Unternehmen mit. Die Mehrheit an Fyber, einem Monetarisierungsdienst für App Publisherm hält derzeit die Tennor Holding. Die Investmentgruppe von Hertha BSC-Investor Lars Windhorst stieg 2014 unter dem Namen RNTS Media bei Fyber ein und zahlte dafür 160 Millionen Euro. Danach übernahm das Unternehmen RNTS Media  noch weitere Firmen und firmierte dann 2017 zu Fyber um. “The changes reflect the group’s transformation which, since 2014, has acquired multiple advertising technology companies. Fyber GmbH has been the centerpiece, defining the group’s exclusive focus on advertising technology for digital publishers and app developers, with the subsequent acquisitions of Falk Realtime, Heyzap, and Inneractive complementing and strengthening its core offering”, teilt das Unternehmen damals mit. Fyber erwirtschaftete 2020 einen Umsatz in Höhe von 210 Millionen Euro. Fyber ist im Prime Standard der Frankfurter Börse notiert.

DIE HÖHLE DER LÖWEN

Beneto Foods
+++ In der ersten Folge der neunten Staffel investierte GreenTech-Löwe Nico Rosberg 80.000 Euro in Beneto Foods und sicherte sich dabei 7,5 % am Unternehmen. Das Food-Startup, das von Lara Schuhwerk gegründet wurde, setzt auf Pasta aus Insektenmehl. Ursprünglich wollte die Gründerin 80.000 Euro einsammeln und 15 % ihrer Firmenanteile abgeben.

Compasstrainer
+++ In der ersten Folge der neunten Staffel investierte Pharma-Löwe Nils Glagau 150.000 Euro in Compasstrainer und sicherte sich dabei 30 % am Unternehmen. Das Unternehmen, das von Devran Sezek gegründet wurde, entwickelt einen Lernball und Schuh-Sticker, mit denen Kindern das Fußballspielen besser lernen sollen. Ursprünglich wollte der Gründer 150.000 Euro einsammeln und 20 % seiner Firmenanteile abgeben.

bideo
+++ In der ersten Folge der neunten Staffel investierte Regal-Löwe Ralf Dümmel 100.000 Euro in bideo und sicherte sich dabei 20 % am Unternehmen. Gründer Thorsten Homma beschriebt seine Erfindung als “eine Alternative zu vorgefeuchtetem Toilettenpapier”. Ursprünglich wollte der Gründer 100.000 Euro einsammeln und 20 % seiner Firmenanteile abgeben.

PODCAST

Insider #98
+++ Schon die neue Insider-Ausgabe mit Sven Schmidt gehört? In der aktuellen Folge geht es um: Amazd, Pitch, Planet A Ventures, Dance, Blok, likeminded, GraphCMS, Klaus Hommels, Fit Analytics, Patient 21, Enpal, Babbel, Volocopter, Lampenwelt, About You und Mister Spex.

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#adtech, #aktuell, #beneto-foods, #berlin, #bideo, #compasstrainer, #credx, #direct-health-service, #easy, #easytest, #fintech, #fyber, #getsteps, #koln, #myspring, #spring, #sts-ventures, #venture-capital, #wellster-healthtech-group

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#Brandneu – 7 neue Startups, die auf dem Sprung nach oben sind


deutsche-startups.de präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

TwoReach
Das junge Kölner AdTech-Unternehmen TwoReach, das von Hannes Eitel und Sebastian Zach geführte Unternehmen entwickelt ein Self-Service Plattform, die Streamer mit werbenden Unternehmen verbindet. Die Werbetreibenden haben so “Zugang zu skalierbarem Influencer Marketing auf wie Twitch und YouTube”.

keepist
Das junge Startup keepist kämpft gegen der Online-Retouren. Das Unternehmen positioniert sich als “Belohnungssystem, das Online-Shopper belohnt, wenn diese ein besonders retourenarmes Verhalten an den Tag legen. Ergänzt wird das Belohnungssystem durch KI-basierte Datenanalysen”.

BaaS
Mit BaaS, einem Projekt von Informatikern der Universität Ulm, lassen sich cloud-basierte Datenbanklösungen, die zu den eigenen Herausforderungen passen finden. Das Benchmarking-as-a-Service-Projekt wird von Daniel Seybold, Jörg Domaschka und Jan Ocker geführt.

Cortea
Bei der jungen Frankfurter Firma Cortea dreht sich alles um “Interaktiven Lese- und Lernspaß für Kinder”. Das Startup, das von Philipp Luik und Viviane Moors gegründet wurde, bietet unter anderem auch Kinderliederbücher an, die Musik, Text und Noten vereinen.

Pipeforce
Der Münchner Dienst Pipeforce, hinter dem das Unternehmen Logabit steckt, setzt auf die Verknüpfung von Systemen über ein skalierbares Cloud-Native-Produkt. “Mit unserer Lösung bringen wir auch mittelständische Unternehmen, die nur über knappe IT-Ressourcen verfügen, in die Welt der Hyperautomatisierung”.

amberoad
ambeRoad betreibt mit ambeRise eine Unternehmenssuchmaschine, die Mitarbeitern helfen soll, “relevante Daten und Informationen schnell und vollständig zu finden”. Die Aachener teilen dazu mit: “Wir nutzen künstliche Intelligenz, um die Dokument zu analysieren und dem Nutzer bestmögliche Ergebnisse anzuzeigen”.

etalytics
etalytics, ein Spin-off der TU Darmstadt, kümmert sich im weitesten Sinne um Energiedatenmanagement. Das Unternehmen schreibt dazu: “The core of our products is the etalytics energy intelligence hub which is a highly performant IoT platform for real-time streaming and batch analytics with open API”.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aachen, #adtech, #aktuell, #amberoad, #baas, #brandneu, #cortea, #dusseldorf, #etalytics, #frankfurt-am-main, #keepist, #koln, #medien, #munchen, #pipeforce, #startup-radar, #tworeach, #ulm

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With $62.5M in debt financing, Road Runner Media puts digital ads behind commercial vehicles

If Southern California-based Road Runner Media succeeds, you’ll start seeing a lot more ads while you’re driving.

That’s because the startup is placing digital screens on the back of technicians’ vans, delivery vehicles, buses and other commercial vehicles. Those screens can show both ads and serve as a brake light — according to founder and chairman Randall Lanham, the brake light functionality is required if you’re putting a sign on the back of a vehicle.

“The way we look at it, we are a digital brake light,” Lanham said. Yes, the brake light is showing ads, but “the driver touching the brakes interrupts the ad.” (The sign can also indicate turns, reversing and emergency flashers. You can see a mock-up ad in the image above, and real footage in the video below.)

To pursue this idea, Lanham (who described himself as a “recovering attorney”) enlisted Chris Riley as CEO — Riley’s experience includes several years as CEO of PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand. And the company announced this week that it has secured $62.5 million in debt financing from Baseline Growth Capital.

The idea of putting ads on moving vehicles isn’t new. There are, of course, ads on the tops of taxis, and startups like Firefly are also putting digital signage on top of Ubers and Lyfts. But Riley said Road Runner’s ruggedized, high-resolution LCD screens are very different, due to their size, quality and placement.

“[Taxi-top ads] don’t have the color, the brilliance, the clarity,” he said. “We can run a true video ad on the screen.”

Riley also said the ads can be targeted based on GPS and time of day, and that the company eventually plans to add sensors to collect data on who’s actually seeing the ads.

As for concerns that these big, bright screens might distract drivers, Lanham argued they’re actually attracting driver’s eyes to exactly where they should be, and creating a brake light that’s much harder to ignore.

“Your eyes are affixed on the horizon, which is what the [Department of Transportation] wants — as opposed to on the floor or the radio or directly off to the left or right,” he said. “That’s where your safest driving occurs, when your eyes are up above the dashboard.”

In fact, Lanham said he’s “very passionate” about the company’s mission, which in his view will make roads safer, and is creating a platform that could also be used to spread public service messages.

“We have the ability to retrofit any vehicle and make it safer on the highways,” he added. “I really, truly believe that we will save lives, if we already haven’t.”

The company says it already has 150 screens live in Atlanta, Boulder, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, with plans to launch screens in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in March.

 

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #baseline-growth-capital, #funding, #fundings-exits, #recent-funding, #road-runner-media, #startups, #tc

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Rokk3r acquires AdMobilize and Matrix Labs for $19.5M

Miami-based AdMobilize and its spin-off, Matrix Labs, announced this morning that they are being acquired for $19.5 million. The buyer is Rokk3r, a Miami-based holding company that invests in creating, acquiring and integrating companies.

AdMobilize quantifies digital advertising in the physical world, so marketers can better reach their target audiences.

“If you’re walking on 5th Avenue and you pass by a bus shelter that has a digital screen, AdMobilize analyzes [peoples’] age, gender, emotion and even how long the person was looking at the ad. We created a platform that mimics the click-through rate. So we kind of created Google Analytics for the outside world,” said Rodolfo Saccoman, CEO and founder of AdMobilize.

The company, which has raised $13 million since its launch in 2012, also has offices in Saccoman’s native Brazil, as well as Colombia and London. 

AdMobilize operates as a SaaS with an average monthly subscription fee of $50 per screen or billboard. 

“Our tech is 95% accurate, and it’s based on undeniable computer vision data,” Saccoman said. If a digital ad screen doesn’t have a camera built-in, AdMobilize can provide one. But Saccoman made it very clear that the company doesn’t do any facial recognition and really is only interested in the data in a broader sense.

Matrix Labs, on the other hand, is a hardware company with products that look similar to Raspberry Pi, but with a lot more oomph.

“Our Matrix Labs development boards give the Raspberry Pi superpowers. It transforms the Pi to be AI-ready for computer vision, sensor fusion, voice recognition and more. It democratizes AI at the edge by removing barriers to entry, shortening the learning curve, and increases adaptability,” Saccoman said.

Rodolfo Saccoman Image Credits: Saccoman

The company offers two boards. One is called the Matrix Creator and sells for $99, while the other is the Matrix Voice which goes for $75.

“It [Matrix boards] enables people to not spend millions of dollars making a piece of hardware,” Saccoman said. In fact, it levels the playing field for developers, he added. “It allows them to create solutions in the physical world with inexpensive edge AI hardware.”

Rokk3r was an early investor in AdMobilize, along with Azoic Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital, VAS Ventures and Axel Springer.

“Rokk3r has always believed in the potential of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and computer vision, hence it seeded and helped build AdMobilize. Where we stand today with what AdMobilize/Matrix Labs has achieved, it is clear that the technology created is critical to the future of AI/IOT/CV, and with Rokk3r’s focus on AI/IOT and IP creation, the fit was clear,” said Nabyl Charania, chairman and CEO of Rokk3r.

Saccoman is a Brazilian-born serial entrepreneur who moved to the U.S. to attend college at Cornell in 1995 and never left. He made his way down to South Florida with his first job out of college, where he was head of Digital Innovation at the ultra-lux Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. While the AdMobilize/Matrix Labs deal is his first exit, his first “venture” was when he was just 13 years old. It was called the PiPi bag. São Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil, is notorious for awful traffic. It can often take people three hours to get to the airport, and when you’re trying to catch a flight, stopping to use the restroom isn’t usually an option. As the name suggests, the Pipi bag was a handheld portable toilet of sorts for those moments when nature calls.

Years later, in 2007, Saccoman also founded a company with his brother who has a PhD in psychology. It was called MyTherapyJournal.com and was the first online journaling platform with cognitive behavior therapy. 

“It would measure your varying emotions when you answered key questions. For example, people could start to understand what would trigger their anxiety. It had early traces of AI,” Saccoman said. MyTherapyJournal closed in 2012.

Of his various ventures, he said, “My mind was always running to find problems.”

Saccoman will stay on board and lead Rokk3r’s AI and IoT division.

#admobilize, #adtech, #advertising-tech, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #rokk3r

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#Brandneu – 5 neue Startups, die Ihr euch jetzt ansehen solltet


deutsche-startups.de präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

Jentis
Jentis ist im Segment “Server-Side Tracking” unterwegs. Anders als beim konventionellen Tracking kommt bei Jentis ein einziges First-Party-JavaScript zum Einsatz. “Fehlerhafte Daten durch kompromittierende Browser-Erweiterungen lassen sich so eliminieren”, verspricht die Jungfirma.

ooohne
Das Unternehmen ooohne aus Telgte entwickelt und verkauft pulverförmiges Hand-Spülmittel. “Es ist komplett plastikfrei und in Papier verpackt. Man kann es ganz einfach mit Leitungswasser zu flüssigem Spüli anmischen”, teilt die Jungfirma, die von Jan Schütz und Carolin Mo?llenbeck gegründet wurde, mit.

bee.neo
Das junge Hamburger Startup bee.neo tritt an, um den Honigmarkt aufzumischen. Die Hanseaten teilen dazu mit: “Wir denken Honig neu und out of the box und verbinden eines der reinsten Naturprodukte mit den Erwartungen einer modernen und anspruchsvollen Zielgruppe”.

Sunvigo
Das Kölner Startup Sunvigo setzt seinen Kunden eine kostenlose Solaranlage aufs Dach. Im Gegenzug bietet Sunvigo, das von Michael Peters, Bastian Bauwens und Vigen Nikogosian gegründet wurde, seinen Kunden einen Stromvertrag an. Dabei müssen die Kunden nur den verbrauchten Strom zahlen.

Facts for Friends
Facts for Friends liefert Info-Material im Kampf gegen Fake-News. Das Hamburger Startup setzt dabei auf sogenannte FactSnacks, “kurze, prägnante Klar- und Richtigstellungen”. Diese kann jeder Nutzer schnell und einfach in seinem Social Media-Stream oder über Messenger-Dienste teilen.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#adtech, #aktuell, #bee-neo, #brandneu, #energie, #facts-for-friends, #food, #hamburg, #jentis, #koln, #medien, #ooohne, #startup-radar, #sunvigo, #telgte, #wien

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3 adtech and martech VCs see major opportunities in privacy and compliance

Between a pandemic, the emergence of new media business models and upcoming privacy changes in iOS, this might seem like a terrible time to get into digital advertising and marketing. Nevertheless, we spoke to top venture capitalists who said they still see investment opportunities.

When we surveyed adtech and martech VCs last summer, we focused on the impact of COVID-19. This time, we asked them to update us on whether deal flow has recovered (MathCapital’s Eric Franchi said the last two quarters have been some of the firm’s most active yet) and to look ahead at the possibility of additional regulation and the most promising new tools.

Regulation, they agreed, presents both a risk and an opportunity. For example, Christine Tsai of 500 Startups noted that as advertisers face more restrictions, “The easiest way for marketers to comply with these rules will likely be through software.” And of course, we asked about what they’re looking for in their next investment. You can read their full responses below.

Here’s who we surveyed:


Digital advertising spend seems well on its way to recovering from the initial downturn during the pandemic. Are you seeing the same with adtech and martech deal flow?

Eric Franchi: Absolutely. Q3 and Q4 2020 were amongst the most active we’ve had in three years in terms of new investments and follow-ons. This seems to mirror the shape of many of our portfolio companies’ 2020 commercial results.

Scott Friend: There seems to be plenty of activity in adtech and martech, particularly across the commerce ecosystem with tools that support monetization for small merchants. Attentive (one of ours) continues to be a standout. I’m also seeing what appears to be a resurgence in digital OOH activity … maybe now’s its time?

How much time are you spending looking at adtech and martech startups right now? Are you more focused on one or the other?

#500-startups, #adtech, #advertising-tech, #bain-capital-ventures, #christine-tsai, #ec-consumer-applications, #ec-investor-survey, #eric-franchi, #martech, #mathcapital, #saas, #scott-friend, #venture-capital

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#DealMonitor – AppLovin übernimmt AdJust und zahlt 1,2 Milliarden Dollar


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 4. Februar werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

EXITS

Adjust
+++ Der amerikanische Marketingdienst AppLovin übernimmt das Berliner AdTech Adjust – und zahlt dafür nach unseren Informationen rund 1,2 Milliarden US-Dollar. AppLovin legt dabei wohl rund 1 Milliarde bar auf den Tisch, der Rest wird über Anteile gezahlt. Über Adjust, das 2012 von Christian Henschel, Manuel Kniep und Paul Hanno Müller gegründet wurde, können App-Anbieter analysieren, wie ihre App-Install-Ads funktionieren, woher die App-Nutzer kommen und wie sie die App nutzen. Eurazeo Growth, Highland Europe, Morgan Stanley und Co. investierten im Sommer 2019 üppige 227 Millionen US-Dollar in das Unternehmen. Der Großteil waren allerdings Secondaries, ins AdTech flossen rund 40 Millionen. Die Bewertung lag vor nicht einmal zwei Jahren bei rund 500 Millionen. “Adjust will retain its unique brand and culture and continue to operate as an independent company” – schreibt AppLovin-Chef Adam Foroughi zum Deal. Alleine in Deutschland erwirtschaftete Adjust zuletzt einen Umsatz in Höhe von 39,6 Millionen Euro. Im Jahr zuvor waren es 25,3 Millionen. Insgesamt liegt der Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) bei Adjust nach Informationen, die uns vorliegen, bei rund 100 Millionen Dollar. AppLovin zahlt somit bei der Übernahme zwölfmal den Umsatz von Adjust. Ein fast schon niedriger Wert in der derzeitigen Exit-Hochphase. Nach Signavio (SAP) und flaschenpost.de (Dr. Oetker) ist Adjust bereits der dritte Milliarden-Deal in Deutschland innerhalb weniger Wochen. Obwohl das Modell von Adjust momentan auf festen Füßen steht, gibt es im Markt durchaus Bedenken zur weiteren Entwicklung des Unternehmens. Sollten etwa Apple und auch Google das Tracking von Apps erschweren oder gar verhindern, sieht es schlecht aus für Adjust. Adjust Gründer Henschel hielt vor dem Exit noch 9,6 % am Unternehmen. Mitstreiter Müller gehörten zuletzt ebenfalls noch 9,6 %. Mit-Gründer Kniep war noch mit 2,5 % an Bord. Was im besten Fall nun zusammen – zumindest auf dem Papier – rund 260 Millionen einbringt. Zudem war das Gründer- und Management-Team noch über ein weiteres Vehikel mit 1,6 % beteiligt. Jetzt zu den Investoren: Target Partners aus München hielt zuletzt 6,9 % an Adjust, Capnamic Ventures aus Köln war mit 3,4 % an Bord. Highland Europe wiederum hielt mindestens 25 % am AdTech.

INVESTMENTS

Storyblok
+++ Mubadala Capital sowie die Altinvestoren firstminute Capital und 3VC investieren 8,5 Millionen US-Dollar in Storyblok. capital300, firstminute Capital und Founders Factory investierten Ende 2019 bereits 2,5 Millionen US-Dollar in das österreichische Startup, Hersteller einer Headless Content Management Software. Das Unternehmen aus Linz wurde 2017 von Alexander Feiglstorfer und Dominik Angerer gegründet. “Das Geld wird für den Ausbau der CMS-Plattform und für die internationale Expansion eingesetzt”, teilt die Jungfirma mit.

Hive
+++ Alt-Investor Picus Capital sowie die Flixbus- und Forto-Gründer investieren gemeinsam mit Lesara-Gründer Roman Kirsch und Sebastian Merkhoffer (Fitvia) 1,6 Millionen Euro in Hive. Hinter Hive verbirgt sich ein junges Logistik-Startup. Das Unternehmen sieht sich als “Drittanbieter für Logistikdienstleistungen”. Die Berliner wollen Händlern helfen, “ihren Kunden einen schnellen Versand zu ermöglichen”. So soll der Versand schneller gehen. Auch um Retouren kümmert sich Hive. Das junge Unternehmen wurde von Oskar Ziegler, Franz Purucker und Leonard von Kleist gegründet. Picus Capital schob das Startup 2020 gemeinsam mit den Gründer an. Codept setzt auf ein ähnliches Konzept wie Hive. 27 Mitarbeiter wirken bereits für Hive.

Spanflug
+++ Der VDW (Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken) beteiligt sich mit einer Minderheitsbeteiligung am Münchner Unternehmen Spanflug, das 2018 gegründet wurde. Mit Spanflug wollen Adrian Lewis, Johannes Schmalz und Markus Westermeier eine Plattform etablieren, bei er es um Dreh- und Frästeile geht.

IPO

Auto1
+++ Der Berliner Gebrauchtwagenhändler Auto1 ging am Donnerstag an die Börse. Der Ausgabepreis lag bei 38 Euro, die Erstnotiz erfolgte zu 55 Euro. “In der ersten Handelsstunde hielt sich das Papier dann über 52 Euro. Damit wird der Betreiber von ‘wirkaufendeinauto.de’ mit 11,7 Milliarden Euro bewertet” – schreibt der Handelsblatt zum IPO. Auto1, 2012 gegründet,  erwirtschaftete 2019 einen Umsatz von rund 3,5 Milliarden Euro. Der Börsengang brachte rund 1 Milliarde ein.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#adjust, #adtech, #aktuell, #applovin, #auto1-com, #hive, #logistik, #picus-capital, #storyblok, #venture-capital

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This Week in Apps: GameStop madness hits trading apps, Apple privacy changes, Clubhouse becomes a unicorn

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone.

And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This week, we’re taking a look at the biggest news in the world of apps, including how the GameStop frenzy impacted trading apps, as well as how Apple’s privacy changes are taking shape in 2021, and more.

Top Stories

The internet comes for the stock market, via trading apps

illustration of robinhood feather logo spraypainted on a brick wall

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Was there really any other app news story this week, beside the GameStop short squeeze? That a group of Reddit users took on the hedge funds was the stuff of legends, even if the reality was that Wall Street likely got in on both sides of the trade. Whether you found yourself in the camp of admiring the spectacle or watching the train wreck in horror (or both), what we witnessed — at long last, I suppose — was the internet coming for the stock market. The GameStop frenzy upended the status quo; it rattled the traditional ways of doing things — much like what the internet has done to almost everything else it touches — whether that’s publishing, media, creation, politics, and more.

“This is community,” explained Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, in an interview on AOC’s Twitch channel on Thursday.

“This is something that spans platforms and the internet, especially in the last 10 years — in particular social media and smartphone ubiquity. All these things have connected us in real-time ways to organize around ideas, around concepts,” he continued. “We seek out those communities. We seek out that sense of identity. We seek out that sense of connection. And the internet supercharges it because of scale,” he said. “I think one of the byproducts of where I think it continues to go is more of a push towards decentralization and more of a push toward individuals being able to take ownership — even individuals being able to get access — to do the same things that institutions, historically, had a monopoly on,” Ohanian noted.

Trading app Robinhood and social app Reddit, home to the WallStreetBets forum driving the GameStop push, immediately benefitted from the community-driven effort to squeeze the hedge funds — and jumped to the top of the App Store.

But Robinhood’s subsequent failure to be transparent as to why it was forced to stop customers from buying the “meme” stocks, like GameStop and others (it needed more cash), quickly damaged its reputation. Some investors have now sued for their losses. Others started petitions. And even more began downranking the app with one-star reviews, which Google then removed.

Other trading apps have gained not only during the frenzy itself, but also after, as Robinhood users looked for alternative platforms after being burned by the free trading app.

As of Friday, Robinhood remained at No. 1 on the App Store, but is now being closely trailed on the Top Free iPhone apps chart by No. 2 Webull, No. 6 Fidelity, No. 7 Cash App, No. 12 TD Ameritrade and No. 15 E*TRADE, among others.

Crypto apps are also topping the charts, as users realize the potential of collective action in markets not yet dominated by the billionaires. Coinbase popped to No. 4, while Binance-run apps were at No. 9 and No. 19, Voyager was No. 23 and Kraken No. 24.

In addition, forums where traders can join communities are also continuing to do well, with Reddit at No. 3, Discord at No. 14 and Telegram at No. 28, as of the time of writing.

Google says it will add those Apple privacy labels…sometime!

Image Credits: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google failed to meet its earlier promised deadline of rolling out privacy labels to its nearly 100-some iOS apps. Its initial estimate followed suggestions (aided by Apple’s typical quiet confirmations to press), that Google had been struggling over how to handle the privacy issues the updates would reveal. This week, Google again said its labels were on the way. But now, it’s not making any specific promises about when those labels would arrive. Instead, the company just said the labels would roll out as Google updated its iOS apps with new features and bug fixes, rather than rolling out the labels to all its apps at once.

However, some Google apps have been updated, including Play Movies & TV, Google Translate, Fiber TV, Fiber, Google Stadia, Google Authenticator, Google Classroom, Smart Lock, Motion Stills, Onduo for Diabetes, Wear OS by Google and Project Baseline — but not Google’s main apps like Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail or its other productivity apps.

Apple’s IDFA changes to begin this spring

Image Credits: Apple (livestream)

Apple announced this week its tracking restrictions for iOS apps are nearing arrival. The changes had initially been pushed back to give developers more time to make updates, but will now arrive in “early spring.”

Once live, the previous opt-out model for sharing your Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) will change to an opt-in model, meaning developers will have to ask users’ permission to track them. Most users will likely say “no,” and be annoyed by the request. Users will also be able to adjust IDFA sharing in Settings on a per-app basis, or on all apps at once.

Facebook has already been warning investors of the ad revenue hit that will result from these changes, which it expects to see in the first quarter earnings. It may also be preparing a lawsuit. Google, meanwhile, said it would be adopting Apple’s SKAdNetwork framework and providing feedback to Apple about its potential improvements.

For years, Apple has been laying the groundwork to establish itself as the company that cares about consumer privacy. And it’s certainly true that no other large tech company has yet to give users this much power to fight back against being tracked around the web and inside apps.

But this is not a case of Apple being the “good guy” while everyone else is “bad” —  because the multi-billion-dollar ad industry is not that simple. With a change to its software, Apple has effectively carved out a seat at the table for its own benefit.

What many don’t realize is that Apple watches what its users do across its own platform, inside a number of its first-party apps — including in Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Books, Apple News and the App Store. It then uses that first-party data to personalize the ads it displays in Apple News, Stocks and the App Store.

So while other businesses are tracking users around the web and apps to gain data that lets them better personalize ads at scale, Apple only tracks users inside its own apps and services. (But there sure are a lot of them! And Apple keeps launching new ones, too.)

With the new limits that impact the effectiveness of ads outside of Apple’s ecosystem, advertisers who need to reach a potential customer — say, with an app recommendation — will need to throw more money into Apple-delivered advertising instead. This is because Apple’s ads will be capable of making those more targeted, personalized and, therefore, more effective recommendations.

Apple says it will play by the same rules that it’s asking other developers to abide by. Meaning, if its apps want to track you, they’ll ask. But most of its apps do not “track” using IDFA. Meanwhile, if users want to turn off personalized ads using Apple’s first-party data, that’s a different setting. (Settings –> Privacy –> scroll to bottom –> Apple Advertising –> toggle off Personalized Ads). And no, you won’t be shown a pop-up asking you if that’s a setting you want on or off.

Apple, having masterfully made its case as the privacy-focused company — because wow, isn’t adtech gross? —  is now just laying it on. Apple CEO Tim Cook this week blamed the adtech industry for the growth in online extremism, violent incitement (e.g. at the U.S. Capitol) and growing belief in conspiracies, saying companies (cough, Facebook) optimized for engagement and data collection, no matter the damage to society.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

  • Apple releases iOS 14.4 to iPhone and iPad users. The update patches three critical security vulnerabilities, adds Bluetooth audio monitoring to protect users from levels that could damage hearing, improves the ability for the camera to recognize smaller QR codes, adds a warning if the iPhone 12 has been repaired with non-Apple parts and fixes other bugs.
  • Apple reports record-breaking Q1 2021 with $111.4 billion in revenue. The company beat investor expectations on both earnings per share and revenues, with more than the expected $103.3 billion in revenues and $1.68 EPS versus the $1.41 EPS expected. Earnings were driven by new 5G iPhones and a 57% rise in China sales.
  • Apple dominates tablet market with 19.2 million iPads shipped in Q4 2020.
  • Separately, from the IDFA news, Apple announced this week that Private Click Measurement (PCM) will roll out at the same time as the IDFA changes. PCM measures app-to-web conversions, while SKAdNetwork focuses only on app-to-app conversions. This gives advertisers a way to track the performance of apps that run inside ads that send users to websites.
  • A researcher discovered a new iOS security system in iOS 14, BlastDoor, which offers a new sandbox system for processing iMessages data.
  • The Washington Post checks in on Apple’s App Store privacy labels and finds many of them were wrong.

Platforms: Google

  • Google Play Store updates its policies on gamified loyalty programs following confusion in India. Real gambling apps are still not permitted in India, but developers now will have better clarity on rules.
  • Google Play Store opened to Android Auto apps in December, but only for closed testing. This week, it expanded to open testing, meaning there’s no limit to the number of users who can download the app — the next step toward launching to all users in production.

Gaming

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

  • U.S. consumer spend in mobile simulation games up 61.8% in 2020, reports Sensor Tower. Top titles included Roblox and Township by Playrix.

Entertainment & Streaming

  • Netflix can now stream studio-quality audio on Android 9 and newer devices, specifically Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC (xHE-AAC). This codec improves sound in noisy conditions and adapts to variable cellular connections.
  • Spotify tests audiobooks. The company released a small selection of nine exclusive audiobook recordings from books in the public domain. The narrators included big names like David Dobrik, Forest Whitaker, Hilary Swank and Cynthia Erivo, to determine if there’s consumer demand for this sort of content.
  • Spotify also tests a feature that inserts “slow down” songs in playlists when users approach school zones. The feature was being tried in Australia.
  • YouTube said its TikTok rival, YouTube Shorts, was seeing 3.5 billion views per day during tests in India.

Security & Privacy

  • Apple says iOS 14.4 fixes three security bugs that may have been exploited by hackers. Details were scarce but two of the bugs were found in WebKit. Apple wouldn’t say how many users may have been impacted.
  • TikTok fixed a vulnerability that would have allowed for the theft of private user information.
  • WhatsApp added a biometric authentication to its web and desktop apps to make authentication more secure for its over 2 billion users.
  • A location broker called X-Mode was discovered to still be tracking users via Apple and Android apps, despite app store bans. The broker sold data collected in apps — like unofficial transportation app New York Subway, Video MP3 Converter and Moco — to U.S. military contractors.

Communication

Image Credits: Telegram

  • Telegram adds a new feature that would allow users to import their WhatsApp chats and others, making a switch easier. The feature appears in version 7.4, and supports WhatsApp, Line and KakaoTalk import on iOS and Android.

Social & Photos

Image Credits: Instagram

  • Instagram launches a professional dashboard for creators and small business. The new in-app destination offers centralized access to tools for tracking performance, discovering insights and trends, growing your business and staying informed through access to educational resources.
  • Facebook expands its Facebook News portal to the U.K., its first international market.
  • TikTok owner ByteDance’s revenue more than doubled in 2020, according to The Information, to about $37 billion.
  • Snapchat launched a digital literacy program aimed at educating users about data privacy and security. The program teaches users how to turn on two-factor and introduced a new filter that connects users to privacy resources.
  • Twitter launches Birdwatch, a community-based approach to handling misinformation on its platform. The system allows users to identify misleading info in tweets and write notes that provide information and context, in a sort of Wikipedia-like model. Eventually, these notes will be made visible directly on tweets for all to read, after consensus from a broad and diverse group of editors is achieved.
  • QAnon moves to a free-speech focused TikTok clone called Clapper, which is a new home to some of the Parler crowd. ToS violations coming in 3, 2, 1…
  • TikTok was found to be hosting a number of vape sellers who were clearly marketing toward minors, promising no ID checks and discreet packaging to hide vape purchases from parents.

Health & Fitness

  • Apple expands its new Apple Fitness+ service with “Time to Walk,” a feature that offers inspiring audio stories from guests like country music icon Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green, musician Shawn Mendes, Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba and others. The launch indicates Apple understands how to make the service more broadly appealing to reach beyond those who are already deeply committed to their regular exercise routines.
  • Health and Fitness app downloads grew 30% in 2020, reports App Annie, from $1.5 billion in consumer spend in 2019 to $2 billion in 2020, and from 2 billion downloads to 2.6 billion. On Android phones, time spent was up 25%.

Government & Policy

  • Italy’s data protection agency gave TikTok a deadline to respond its order to block all users whose age it can’t verify following the death of a 10-year-old girl who repeated a dangerous “challenge” on the social app.
  • Iran blocked the Signal messaging app after the WhatsApp exodus sent a flood of users to the open-source, encrypted communication service.
  • India said it will continue its ban on TikTok, UC Browser and 57 other Chinese apps that the country first banned last June, saying the responses the companies provided didn’t adequately address the cybersecurity concerns. TikTok owner ByteDance said it’s closing its India operations and laying off 1,800 employees.
  • Norway’s data protection agency notified U.S.-based dating app Grindr for violation of GDPR consent violations, which carry a fine of around $12.1 million USD.

Funding and M&A

  • Buzzy voice chat app Clubhouse raises $100 million, valuing the business at $1 billion. Despite being launched under a year ago and remaining an invite-only experience for the time being, the app has been carving out a new form of audio-based social networking. With now over 180 investors and a pandemic coming to an end — perhaps — with the vaccine rollout, Clubhouse will soon have to prove it has value in a reopened world where there’s more to do, including, once again, networking events and conferences. It will also eventually have to contend with what sort of app it becomes when it finally opens up to the public. So far, its private, insiders-only atmosphere has given it something of a protected status. Though conversations have turned toxic at times, only a few users ever heard them — and there’s no transcript. When the world piles in, however, Clubhouse could not only lose its exclusive appeal but also become host to conversations that do real harm.

  • Twitter acquires newsletter platform Revue, a Substack rival, to get its users a way to monetize their Twitter fan base. Despite only announcing this week, the company is already integrating Newsletters on its web app.
  • Edtech app ClassDojo raises $30 million led by Product Hunt CEO Josh Buckley. The app has boomed during the pandemic as schools and teachers needed a new way to communicate with families at home.
  • Scheduling startup Calendly raises $350 million for its cloud-based service that helps people set up and confirm meeting times with one another. The round values the business at $3 billion.
  • Virtual social network IMVU raises $35 million from China’s NetEase and others. The app lets users create virtual rooms and chat with strangers using custom avatars.
  • Short-form video app Clash acquires would-be TikTok rival Byte, created by a former Vine founder.
  • IAC’s Teltech, home to Robokiller, acquires encrypted messaging app Confide, in an unannounced deal. Terms were not revealed but included the app and IP, not the team.

Confide app

Image Credits: Confide

  • Opal raises $4.3 million for its digital well-being assistant for iPhone that blocks you from distracting apps and websites.
  • Finance tracking and budgeting app Brigit raises $35 million Series A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from DCM, Nyca, Canaan, DN Capital, CRV, Core, Shasta, Hummingbird, Abstract, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Secocha, NBA star Kevin Durant, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures and Flourish Ventures.
  • SoftBank-backed Travel platform Klook raises $200 million in a round led by Aspex Management. The startup, which helps users book activities in overseas destinations, had been impacted by the pandemic, so pivoted to “staycation” activities and service for local merchants.
  • Video software company Vimeo raises $300 million in equity from funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and Oberndorf Enterprises, LLC at a valuation in excess of $5 billion.
  • RuneScape publisher Jagex has been acquired by investment firm The Carlyle Group for at least $530 million. The British video game publisher creates both PC and mobile games, including a mobile version of RuneScape with 8 million installs in 2019.
  • Appointment booking app Booksy raises $70 million to acquire other salon appointment apps and expand internationally. The round was led by Cat Rock Capital with participation from Sprints Capital.
  • Fintech startup Albert raises $100 million in Series C funding led by General Atlantic. The funds will be used to expand its financial wellness service now used by over 5 million people to help save, budget and more.
  • Dating app S’More raises $2.1 million for its concept where users photos’ are initially blurred.
  • Stacker raises $1.7 million seed round for its platform that lets non-developers build apps using spreadsheets from Google Sheets or Airtable.
  • Kuaishou, ByteDance’s main rival in China, raises $5.4B in Hong Kong IPO, valuing the business at $61B

Downloads

Opal

Image Credits: Opal

Opal offers a digital well-being assistant for iPhone that allows you to block distracting websites and apps, set schedules around app usage, lock down apps for stricter and more focused quiet periods and more. The service works by way of a VPN system that limits your access to apps and sites. But unlike some VPNs on the market, Opal is committed to not collecting any personal data on its users or their private browsing data. Instead, its business model is based on paid subscriptions, not selling user data, it says. The freemium service lets you upgrade to its full feature set for $59.99/year.

Charlie

Image Credits: Charlie

Founded by a former mobile game industry vet, Charliegamifies” getting out of debt using techniques that worked in gaming, like progress bars, fun auto-save rules that can be triggered by almost any activity, celebrations with confetti and more. The app plans to expand into a fuller fintech product in time to help users refinance debt at a lower rate and bill pay directly from the app.

 

#adtech, #advertising, #android, #android-apps, #app-stores, #apple, #apps, #developers, #facebook, #gamestop, #google, #idfa, #ios, #ios-apps, #mobile, #privacy, #robinhood, #tc, #trading

0

UK resumes privacy oversight of adtech, warns platform audits are coming

The UK’s data watchdog has restarted an investigation of adtech practices that, since 2018, have been subject to scores of complaints across Europe under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The high velocity trading of Internet users’ personal data can’t possibly be compliant with GDPR’s requirement that such information is adequately secured, the complaints contend.

Other concerns attached to real-time bidding (RTB) focus on consent, questioning how this can meet the required legal standard with data being broadcast to so many companies — including sensitive information, such as health data or religious and political affiliation and sexual orientation.

Since the first complaints were filed the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has raised its own concerns over what it said are systemic problems with lawfulness in the adtech sector. But last year announced it was pausing its investigation on account of disruption to businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today it said it’s unpausing its multi-year probe to keep on prodding.

In an update on its website, ICO deputy commissioner, Simon McDougall, ICO, who takes care of “Regulatory Innovation and Technology” at the agency, writes that the eight-month freeze is over. And the audits are coming.

“We have now resumed our investigation,” he says. “Enabling transparency and protecting vulnerable citizens are priorities for the ICO. The complex system of RTB can use people’s sensitive personal data to serve adverts and requires people’s explicit consent, which is not happening right now.”

“Sharing people’s data with potentially hundreds of companies, without properly assessing and addressing the risk of these counterparties, also raises questions around the security and retention of this data,” he goes on. “Our work will continue with a series of audits focusing on digital market platforms and we will be issuing assessment notices to specific companies in the coming months. The outcome of these audits will give us a clearer picture of the state of the industry.”

It’s not clear what data the ICO still lacks to come to a decision on complaints that are approaching 2.5 years old at this point. But the ICO has committed to resume looking at adtech — including at data brokers, per McDougall, who writes that “we will be reviewing the role of data brokers in this adtech eco-system”.

“The investigation is vast and complex and, because of the sensitivity of the work, there will be times where it won’t be possible to provide regular updates. However, we are committed to publishing our final findings, once the investigation is concluded,” he goes on, managing expectations of any swift resolution to this vintage GDPR complaint.

Commenting on the ICO’s continued reluctance to take enforcement action against adtech despite mounds of evidence of rampant breaches of the law, Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties who was involved in filing the first batch of RTB GDPR complaints — and continues to be a vocal critic of EU regulatory inaction against adtech — told TechCrunch: “It seems to me that the facts are clearly set out in the ICO’s mid 2019 adtech report.

“Indeed, that report merely confirms the evidence that accompanied our complaints in September 2018 in Ireland and the UK. It is therefore unclear why the ICO requires several months further. Nor is it clear why the ICO accepted empty gestures from the IAB and Google a year ago.”

“I have since published evidence of the impact that failure to enforce has had: Including documented use of RTB data to influence an election,” he added. “As that evidence shows, the scale of the vast data breach caused by the RTB system has increased significantly in the three years since I blew the whistle to the ICO in early 2018.”

Despite plentiful data on the scale of the personal data leakage involved in RTB, and widespread concern that all sorts of tangible harms are flowing from adtech’s mass surveillance of Internet users (from discrimination and societal division to voter manipulation), the ICO is in no rush to enforce.

In fact, it quietly closed the 2018 complaint last year — telling the complainants it believed it had investigated the matter “to the extent appropriate”. It’s in the process of being sued by the complainants as a result — for, essentially, doing nothing about their complaint. (The Open Rights Group, which is involved in that legal action, is running this crowdfunder to raise money to take the ICO to court.)

So what does the ICO’s great adtech investigation unpausing mean exactly for the sector?

Not much more than gentle notice you might be the recipient of an “assessment notice” at some future point, per the latest mildly worded ICO blog post (and judging by its past performance).

Per McDougall, all organizations should be “assessing how they use personal data as a matter of urgency”.

He has also committed the ICO to publishing “final findings” at some future point. So — to follow, post-pause — yet another report. And more audits.

“We already have existing, comprehensive guidance in this area, which applies to RTB and adtech in the same way it does to other types of processing — particularly in respect of consentlegitimate interestsdata protection by design and data protection impact assessments (DPIAs),” he goes on, eschewing talk of any firmer consequences following should all that guidance continue being roundly ignored.

He ends the post with a nod to the Competition and Markets Authority’s recent investigation of Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals (to phase out support for third party cookies on Chrome) — saying the ICO is “continuing” to work the CMA on that active antitrust complaint.

You’ll have to fill in the blanks as to exactly what work it might be doing there — because, again, McDougall isn’t saying. If it’s a veiled threat to the adtech industry to finally ‘get with the ICO’s privacy program’, or risk not having it fighting adtech’s corner in that crux antitrust vs privacy complaint, it really is gossamer thin.

#adtech, #data-protection, #europe, #gdpr, #ico, #privacy, #rtb

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You’ll never believe what this email thread says about the ad-funded ‘open’ web

Among a number of claims on U.K. adtech lobby group MOW’s website is the canonical biggie that “Advertising funds the open web.”

This coalition of “marketers,” whose members are not being made public despite its sweeping claims to love web openness — lest, MOW says, Google rain down punishment upon its ranks of “top companies from across the globe” — recently complained to the U.K.’s competition regulator about the tech giant’s plan to end support for tracking cookies.

If you didn’t already guess it the “OW” in MOW’s acronym stands for “Open Web.” Aka (unknown) Marketers for an Open Web.

And today the CMA duly announced it is investigating Mountain View’s “Privacy Sandbox.” Though, as yet, no conclusions have been reached on whether Google’s plan threatens competition.

In truth, a variety of business models support open access to information on the internet.

Wikipedia, for example — surely the canonical example of the open web — relies upon reader donations to keep the lights on as a not-for-profit.

While — on the “exclusive access” side — crowdfunding sites like Patreon and the subscription platform Substack offer tools for creators to solicit regular monetary subscriptions from fans and backers to unlock gated content.

But it’s instructive to note how many online publishers have shifted, year over year, from free (ad-supported) access to content to selling subscriptions for (paywalled) content, often in addition to running ads.

Whether it’s the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Telegraph or Business Insider, the list of pay-to-access news sites keeps getting longer. Much like the consent flows that (also) pop up asking to process visitors’ information in order to target them with ads.

TechCrunch joined the ranks of subscription publications almost two years ago when we launched Extra Crunch. The main TC site continues to be free to access supported by ads and our events business. (NB: In 2021 our events are going fully virtual — which means, as a brief, bonus aside, they’ve never been so open and accessible!)

So how come all these paywalls are being thrown up if advertising funds the open web, as MOW claims?

The concise answer is that digital advertising pays publishers so poorly it can’t support producing quality content at the required scale on its own — thanks to myriad adtech intermediaries, click fraud and the big two: Google and Facebook; aka, the adtech duopoly, who take the lion’s share of revenue generated by digital advertising. 

“We have found that intermediaries (the largest of which is Google) capture at least 35% of the value of advertising bought from newspapers and other content providers in the U.K.,” the CMA reported last summer, in a major market study.

Consumers turning to ad blockers to escape creepy ads and prevent privacy-hostile trackers from keeping real-time tabs on their digital activity and systematically passing this intel to scores of unknowns in an ad auction process that the U.K.’s own data protection regulator has said isn’t very lawful, is another relevant factor here.

Online advertising certainly funds something. But is that something the open web? That looks rather debatable at this point.

I bring all this up merely to provide context for a chance detail in the MOW story that I want to share — as it illustrates some of the issues in this high stakes tug-of-war between publishers, digital marketing and adtech players and a handful of big (ad)tech versus the poor, frustrated eyeballs of the average internet user.

It’s an important power struggle.

One which threatens to keep steamrollering internet users’ right to protect their personal information from exploitation (and wider security-related risks) by, in the latest twist, co-opting competition regulators to erect barriers to pro-privacy reform. Assuming, that is, the CMA ends up naively swallowing dubious claims about what advertising does for the “open” internet — when evidence of what it actually does is but a click and a paywall/tortuously long consent to “share” your private data with hundreds of unknown firms away.

The regulator’s announcement today suggests it’s alive to the dysfunction surrounding internet users’ privacy and will take more than a superficial look at that issue — though if the ICO is the main rep in the room batting for users’ interests here that’s suboptimal, to say the least, given the latter’s storied reluctance to enforce the actual law against adtech.

But here’s the tidbit — which comes by way of a PR agency working for MOW. Earlier today it CC’d me into an email thread in which several staffers had been discussing monitoring the CMA news on behalf of its client.

I’m not naming the agency or any of the individuals involved to spare their blushes but in the thread — which begins with “FYI — The CMA are just about to announce a formal investigation into Google. We’ve drafted a comment which we will be circulating shortly” — staff can be seen asking to share logins to a number of newspaper websites and/or start a free trial in order to access newspaper copy for free, i.e., without having to pay for new subscriptions. 

“Do we have an FT login? If so, could you get hte [sic] story they’ve just written on MOW off for me?” asks one staffer.

Shortly afterward there’s a discussion about starting a free trial on the Telegraph’s website as they talk about collating relevant coverage into a single document to be able to monitor developments for MOW.

One staffer chips in to warn “you need to put credit card details in to start a trial” — before suggesting the other has a go “to see if you find a way around it.”

This person follows up by saying they’ll “let you know if I manage to find a way around it.”

So, mmm, irony much?

Redacted screengrab showing part of an email thread in which MOW’s PR agency discusses how to access newspaper sites to access copy to collate coverage on behalf of their client. Image Credits: TechCrunch.

In light of MOW’s advocacy for a “vibrant” ad-supported open web — which its website implies is aligned with the interests of publishers, marketers and adtech providers alike, i.e., not just with opaque adtech interests — it seems pretty relevant that an agency working for the industry group is uninterested, to put it politely, in paying for relevant newspaper content while being paid to lobby on adtech’s behalf.

On its website MOW argues that letting Google switch off third-party tracking cookies will be bad news for publishers because it says it will cut off marketers’ ability to measure ad campaign performance across different sites — claiming that will result in less effective ads that yield a lower return and thus less cash remitted by marketers to publishers.

However the CMA’s recent deep dive study of the digital marketing sector found an industry so opaque and riddled with black box algorithms that the regulator listed “lack of transparency” itself as a competition concern.

“Platforms with market power have the incentive and ability to increase prices, for example, or to overstate the quality and effectiveness of their advertising inventory,” it warned in the report. “They can take steps to reduce the degree of transparency in digital advertising markets, reducing other publishers’ ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of their advertising and forcing advertisers to rely on information and metrics provided by those platforms. And the lack of transparency undermines the ability of market participants to make the informed decisions necessary to drive competition. The upshot of all of these issues is that competition is weakened and trust in the market is eroded.”

Given that overarching assessment, who would take an opaque coalition of marketers’ word for it that current-gen cookie tracking of the entire internet yields irreplaceably valuable performance metrics?

Or that such privacy-hostile tracking is the only viable way to support a “vibrant open web”?

“The lack of transparency is particularly severe in the open display market where publishers and advertisers rely on intermediaries to manage the process of real-time bidding and ad serving but cannot observe directly what the intermediaries are doing or, in some cases, how much they are being charged,” the CMA goes on, sharpening its concerns about the extent of the obfuscation that cloaks the practices of adtech middlemen. “Market participants such as newspapers and advertisers typically do not have visibility of the fees charged along the entire supply chain and this limits their ability to make optimal choices on how to buy or to sell inventory, reducing competition among intermediaries.”

One thing is clear: The adtech industry needs a whole lot of disinfecting sunlight to be shone in. And that clarification process will surely demand substantial reform.

Refusing to change how things are done by claiming there’s simply no other way to preserve the web “as we know it” is as ridiculous an idea as it is anti-innovation in sentiment.

Returning to the misfired email thread, we contacted MOW’s PR agency to ask whether or not the account includes expenses for relevant newspaper subscriptions. It told us these would come out of a central agency fund. Additionally — having checked back on it — the agency said it did in fact have subscriptions to the newspaper sites in question.

The spokesperson explained that the staffers involved just hadn’t realized at the time — in the heat of the “day-to-day PR” moment (and whilst wrangling remote-working-impacted comms). And, presumably, as all those subscription login screens threw up barriers to accessing the content they needed in the heat of the moment.

This (senior) spokesperson blamed themselves for what they described as a “cock up” — including the soliciting of a “paywall workaround” — going on to take full mea culpa responsibility and emphasizing it had nothing to do with MOW or with the MOW account.

But, well, if an agency working for an adtech lobby group whose key claim is that “ads support the open internet” is unable to access the online content they need to do their job without a subscription, what does that tell us about how much of an open internet the advertising industry is actually funding right now?

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #competition, #digital-advertising, #europe, #google, #media, #paywalls

0

#DealMonitor – Global Savings Group bekommt 12 Millionen – RightNow sammelt 8,5 Millionen ein – Springer übernimmt Framen


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 16. Dezember werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Global Savings Group 
+++ Rocket Internet, HV Capital, DTCP, RTP Global und M6 investieren weitere 12 Millionen Euro in die Münchner Jungfirma Global Savings Group, die früher als Cuponation bekannt war. “Following the acquisition of iGraal in March 2020, the new funding will support one of the company’s growth pillars to consolidate through M&A”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Rocket Internet, Holtzbrinck Ventures, DTCP und RTP Global investieren zuletzt ebenfalls 12 Millionen Euro in die Global Savings Group. In den vergangenen Jahren flossen bereits über 50 Millionen Euro in den Schäppchendienstleister. Weltweit arbeiten rund 500 Mitarbeiter für die Global Savings Group, die Niederlassungen in mehreren Ländern unterhält und Plattformen in über 20 Märkten betreibt.

emmy
+++ BonVenture sowie Altinvestoren wie IBB Ventures investieren eine zweistellige Millionensumme in das Roller-Sharing-Startup emmy. “Die Finanzierungsrunde über einen zweistelligen Millionenbetrag setzt sich aus einer Eigenkapitaltranche und einer Fremdkapitalfinanzierung für die neuen Roller zusammen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das frische Kapital soll inbesondere in das “weitere Wachstum sowie für Verbesserungen des emmy-Angebots” fließen. “Darüber hinaus kann die Flotte um 1.500 Roller erweitert und somit annähernd verdoppelt werden.” Der Anbieter für Elektroroller-Sharing wurde 2015 von Valerian Seither und Alexander Meiritz  gegründet.

RightNow
+++ VR Ventures und das Family Office des Schwarzwälder Boten investieren 8,5 Millionen Euro in das Düsseldorfer LegalTech RightNow. Mit dem frischen Kapital möchte das Unternehmen “seine Produktentwicklung weiter vorantreiben und das führende Unternehmen für den Ankauf von Konsumentenforderungen aufbauen”. RightNow wurde 2017 von Torben Antretter, Phillip Eischet und Benedikt Quarch gegründet. Die Jungfirma setzt auf sogenanntes Consumer Claims Purchasing und kauft Kunden Rechtsansprüche vollumfänglich ab. Zum Unternehmen gehört unter anderem Unfallzahlung24. seed + speed, also Carsten Maschmeyer, der luxemburgische Fonds EPI und ein Schweizer Private-Equity-Fonds investieren zuletzt 25 Millionen Euro in RightNow.

mediaire
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), primeCROWD und LIFFT investieren rund 2 Millionen Euro in mediaire. Das Team hinter mediaire möchte Radiologen unter die Arme greifen. Die Software der mediaire-Macher soll sich über ein Software as a Service-Modell refinanzieren. “Die Kapitalerhöhung wird die Ausweitung der Vertriebs- und Marketingaktivitäten über die Schaffung eines kommerziellen Netzwerks in mehreren Ländern, die Weiterentwicklung der Produktpalette und das Upselling unterstützen”, teilt das Startup mit. Das Startup wurde 2018 von Andreas Lemke und Jörg Döpfert gegründet.

Doozer
+++ BitStone Capital und FMC investieren eine hohe siebenstellige Summe in das Berliner PropTech Doozer. Das Startup, das 2014 von Nicholas Neerpasch gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Online-Softwareplattform, die die Sanierung und Modernisierung im Innenausbaubereich von Wohnungen für Kapitalanleger, Verwalter und Wohnungsunternehmen zeit- und kostenminimal möglich macht”. Derzeit beschäftigt das Unternehmen 38 Mitarbeiter. Bereits 2017 investierten innogy Ventures sowie mehre Business Angels in die Jungfirma.

heyData
+++ Business Angels wie Benjamin Bauer, Felix Plog, Roman Rittweger, Tom Frank, Jan Sroka und Koko Sorger investieren eine mittlere sechsstellige Summe in das Münchner LegalTech-Startup heyData. Das frische Kapital soll “in die Weiterentwicklung der SaaS-Plattform und den Vertrieb” fließen. Das Jungunternehmen bietet einen digitalisierten Datenschutzbeauftragten für Unternehmen. “Wir helfen Unternehmen dabei schnell und einfach DSGVO konform zu werden”, versprechen die beiden Gründer Daniel Deutsch und Milos Djurdjevic.

Aucta
+++ APX und IBB Ventures investieren 510.00 Euro in das Berliner Startup Aucta. IBB Ventures investierte dabei Mittel aus dem staatlichen Coronahilfen-Paket. Das Startup, das 2019 von Elías Alonso, Daniel Seiler und Henri Huselstein gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine Software für “immersive Mitarbeitertrainings und 3D-Anleitungen für Industrieunternehmen”. Das frische Kapital soll insbesonder “in den Ausbau des Teams und die Produktentwicklung fließen”.

INVESTMENTS

Framen
+++ Das Medienhaus Axel Springer übernimmt die Mehrheit am Frankfurter Startup Framen. Das 2018 von Dimitri Gärtner gegründete Unternehmen bietet eine technologische Plattform an, die Werbung auf digitalen Außenflächen zum Beispiel in Fitness-Studios, Hotels und Einkaufszentren ermöglicht. APX, der Frühphaseninvestor von Axel Springer und Porsche investierte bereits Ende 2019 in die Jungfirma. “Axel Springer erwirbt nun die Anteile von APX und anderen Investoren und wird weiteres Wachstum von Framen über eine Kapitalerhöhung finanzieren”, teilt das AdTech-Unternehmen mit.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#adtech, #aktuell, #apx, #aucta, #berlin, #bitstone-capital, #bonventure, #doozer, #dtcp, #dusseldorf, #emmy, #framen, #frankfurt-am-main, #global-savings-group, #heydata, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #hv-capital, #ibb-ventures, #legaltech, #lifft, #m6, #mediaire, #munchen, #primecrowd, #proptech, #rightnow, #rocket-internet, #rtp-global, #venture-capital

0

Apple launches its new app privacy labels across all its App Stores

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced it would soon require developers to disclose their app’s privacy practices to customers via new, glanceable summaries that appear on their apps’ product pages on the App Store. Today, these new app privacy labels are going live across all of Apple’s App Stores, including iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS.

On the developers’ side, Apple began requiring developers to submit their privacy practices with the submission of new apps and app updates. However, it hadn’t begun to publish this information on the App Stores until today.

The new labels aim to give Apple customers an easier way to understand what sort of information an app collects across three categories: data used to track you, data linked to you and data not linked to you. Tracking, Apple explains, refers to the act of linking either user or device data collected from an app with user or device data collected from other apps, websites or even offline properties (like data aggregated from retail receipts) that’s used for targeted advertising or advertisement measurement. It can also include sharing user or device data with data brokers.

This aspect alone will expose the industry of third-party adtech and analytics SDKs (software development kits) — basically code from external vendors that developers add to their apps to boost their revenues.

Meanwhile, “data linked to you” is the personal information tied to your identity, through your user account on the app, your device or other details.

Image Credits: Apple

Broken down, there are a number of data types apps may collect on their users, including things like personal contact information (e.g. address, email, phone, etc.); health and fitness information (eg. from the Clinical Health Records API, HealthKit API, MovementDisorderAPIs or health-related human subject research); financial information (e.g. payment and credit info); location (either precise or coarse); contacts; user content (e.g. emails, audio, texts, gameplay, customer support, etc.); browsing and search histories; purchases; identifiers like user or device IDs; usage and diagnostic info; and more.

Developers are expected to understand not only what data their app may collect, but also how it’s ultimately used.

For example, if an app shares user data with a third-party partner, the developer will need to know what data that partner uses and for what purposes — like displaying targeted ads in the app, sharing location data or email lists with a data broker, using data for retargeting users in other apps or measuring ad efficiencies. And while the developer will need to disclose when they’re collecting data from Apple frameworks or services, they aren’t responsible for disclosing data collected by Apple itself.

There are a few exceptions to the new disclosure requirements, including data collected in optional feedback forms or customer service requests. But, in general, almost any data an app collects has to be disclosed. Even Apple’s own apps that aren’t offered on the App Store will have their privacy labels published on the web.

Apps will also be required to include a link to their publicly accessible privacy policy and can optionally now include a link to a page explaining their privacy choices in more detail. For example, they could link to a page where users can manage their data for the app or request deletion.

The privacy information itself is presented on a screen in the app’s product listing page in easy-to-read tabs that explain what data is collected across the different categories, starting with “data used to track you.”

Apple says it will not remove apps from the App Store if they don’t include this privacy information, but it’s no longer allowing apps to update until their privacy information is listed. That means, eventually, all apps that haven’t been abandoned will include these details.

Apple’s decision to implement privacy labels is a big win for consumer privacy and could establish a new baseline for how app stores disclose data.

However, they also arrive at a time when Apple is pushing its own adtech agenda under the banner of being a privacy-forward company. The company is forcing the adtech industry to shift from the identifier IDFA to its own SKAdNetwork — a shakeup that’s been controversial enough for Apple to delay the transition from 2020 to 2021. The decision to delay may have been, as Apple stated, to give marketers panicked about the sizable revenue hit, time to adapt. But Apple is, of course, keenly aware that regulators were weighing whether the App Store was behaving in anticompetitive ways toward third-parties.

Facebook, for example, had warned businesses they would see a 50% drop in Audience Network revenue on iOS as a result of the changes that would remove personalization from mobile app ad install campaigns.

Apple, in the meantime, took some of the regulatory heat off itself by reducing its App Store commissions to 15% for developers making less than $1 million.

As all these consumer privacy changes are underway, Apple itself continues to use its customer data to personalize ads in its own apps, including the App Store and Apple News. These settings, which are enabled by default, can be toggled off in the iPhone’s Settings. App publishers, on the other hand, will soon have to ask permission from users to track them. And Apple now runs plenty of other services it could expand ads to in the future, if it chose.

It will be interesting to see how consumers react to these new privacy labels as they go live. Apps that collect too much data may find their downloads are impacted, as wary users pass them over. Or, consumers may end up ignoring the labels — much as they do the other policies and terms they “agree” to when installing new software.

Details about Apple’s privacy practices were also published today on a new website, Apple.com/privacy, which includes not only the changes to the App Store, but lists all other areas where Apple protects consumer privacy.

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #app-stores, #app-store, #apple, #apps, #digital-rights, #iphone, #labels, #mobile, #privacy

0

Google and IAB adtech targeted with more RTB privacy complaints

Another batch of complaints has been filed with European Union data protection agencies urging enforcement action against the adtech industry’s abuse of Internet users’ information to target ads.

The complaints argue that behavioural ads are both harmful and unlawful.

Earlier complaints over the same Real-Time Bidding (RTB) programmatic advertising issue were filed across the EU in 2018 and 2019 but have yet to result in any substantive regulatory action.

Ireland did open a probe into Google’s ad exchange last year. While Belgium’s DPA has been progressing an investigation into a flagship industry tool that’s used for gathering consents to ad targeting — making a preliminary finding of non-compliance in October. But litigation to reach a final verdict on the IAB Europe’s ‘Transparency and Consent’ (TCF) framework won’t take place until next year.

(Related: The UK’s data protection agency is facing a legal challenge over its failure to act on RTB complaints, despite repeatedly expressing concern about the industry’s lawfulness problem.)

Both Google and the IAB continue to deny any problems with their adtech. Last year Google said authorised buyers that use its systems are subject to “stringent policies and standards”. While the IAB Europe rejected the Belgium DPA’s findings — saying its preliminary report “fundamental misunderstand[s]” the TCF tech.

The latest GDPR complaints target how the RTB component of programmatic advertising broadcasts Internet users’ personal data to scores of entities involved in these high speed eyeball auctions — arguing it runs counter to core security requirements in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as being horrible for people’s privacy.

A key principle of the GDPR is security by design and default — with the regulation placing legal requirements on personal data handlers to make sure people’s information is properly secured.

The complaints, which target Google and the IAB in their capacity as RTB standard setters, have been filed by civil society groups in six European countries — namely: Asociatia pentru Tehnologie si Internet (ApTi), Romania; D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais, Portugal; GONG, Croatia; Global Human Dignity Foundation, Malta; Homo Digitalis, Greece; and the Institute of Information Cyprus.

They’re being coordinated by a consortium led by the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties), the ORG (Open Rights Group) and the Panoptykon Foundation

“Real-time bidding, which is the bedrock of the online advertising industry, is an abuse of people’s right to privacy,” said Dr Orsolya Reich, senior advocacy officer at Liberties, in a supporting statement. “The GDPR has been in place since 2018 and it is there precisely to give people a greater say about what happens to their data online.

“Today, more civil society groups are saying enough with this invasive advertising model and are asking data protection authorities to stand up against the harmful and unlawful practices they use.”

The consortium is asking for a joint investigation by their respective national DPAs — and for regulators to join with ongoing adtech investigations in Ireland (into Google’s adtech) and Belgium (into the IAB Europe’s TCF framework).

It’s not clear how far the Irish DPC’s investigation of Google has progressed — but it continues to face criticism for the lack of decisions on cross-border GDPR cases, some 2.5 years after the regulation technically begun being applied.

A mechanism in the GDPR means cross-border cases (basically anything related to mainstream consumer tech) get passed to a lead agency to investigate. However other agencies also remain involved, as interested parties, and must agree with any final decision made.

The system has led to a bottleneck of cases in certain EU locations, such as Ireland, where many tech giants base their European HQ. So the concern is this one-stop-shop mechanism is adding an unworkable level of friction to GDPR investigations — delaying decisions and enforcement action so much it risks the entire framework.

The Commission has acknowledged weakness in GDPR enforcement. Most obviously because it’s working on a massive package of new digital regulations. Though its strategy for fixing the enforcement problem is less clear as EU Member States look set to remain responsible for the bulk of this additional oversight, just as they’re responsible for resourcing their own DPAs now. (And yet more complaints have been filed this year accusing European governments of a GDPR resourcing failure.)

Ireland’s DPC is slated to issue its first cross-border GDPR decision in a case that relates to a Twitter security breach very shortly. But last year its commissioner, Helen Dixon, suggested it would come with its first such decisions early in 2020 — so the gap between GDPR expectation and reality is running almost 12 months late at this point.

 

The consortium filing the latest RTB complaints writes in a press release that while some of the earlier adtech complaints were referred to lead authorities it has no knowledge of “any meaningful cooperation or joint operations between national authorities and the lead authorities”.

“This suggests that cooperation and consistency mechanisms as envisioned in the GDPR are yet to be implemented fully,” the group adds, calling for a joint investigation into the RTB issue because the technology functions in the same way across borders — and “produces the same negative effects in all EU member states”, as they put it.

However it’s not clear how extra joint working — if indeed that’s really what’s being called for — would help to speed up GDPR enforcement. Nor how referring additional complaints to Ireland and Belgium would work to speed up their current investigations.

Most likely, the intent is to keep up pressure on the regulators to act.

Asked about the call for joint working, a Liberties spokesman told us: “The problem is that Google and IAB are big players, standard-setters in the market, and they affect all Internet users. Given the geographical scope of the issues raised in the complaints, we think it’s better for supervisory authorities to act in unison, not to be working alone in their corner.  This is why national partners are inviting their national DPAs to refer this complaint to the lead supervisory authorities who are already investigating Google’s and IAB’s compliance with the GDPR.”

Commenting in another supporting statement, Mariano delli Santi, legal and policy officer at the ORG, added: “These new complaints show that the GDPR is working. Individuals are increasingly aware of their rights, and they demand change. Now, it is up to the authorities to support this process, and make sure these laws are properly and consistently enforced against the widespread abuses of the adtech industry.”

At the time of writing, the only extant example of enforcement against a tech giant under the updated regulation was a January 2019 decision to fine Google $57M by France’s CNIL. That investigation was limited to having a national scope, though, rather than being treated as a cross-border case.

Since then Google has shifted its legal base in Europe to Ireland — so now falls under the lead jurisdiction of the DPC.

This arrangement appears to suit big tech, enabling it to avoid the risk of speedier investigations conducted by single Member State agencies acting faster alone. (So it’s very interesting to see TikTok ramping up its business infrastructure and headcount in Ireland — as it’s also now on CNIL’s radar… )

 

As noted earlier, EU lawmakers have conceded GDPR enforcement has been a weakness thus far.

In a review of the two year old regulation this summer the Commission highlighted a lack of universally vigorous enforcement.

Last week the values and transparency commissioner, Vera Jourouv, also raised the problem as she set out the bloc’s plan to bolster democratic values against a range of online risks, such as algorithmically amplified or microtargeted disinformation and election interference — acknowledging GDPR alone isn’t enough to fix myriad intersecting tech-fuelled problems.

“[After the Cambridge Analytica scandal] we said that we are relieved that after GDPR came into force we are protected against this kind of practice — that people have to give consent and be aware of that — but we see that it might be a weak measure only to rely on consent or leave it for the citizens to give consent,” she said.

“Enforcement of privacy rules is not sufficient — that’s why we are coming in the European Democracy Action Plan with the vision for the next year to come with the rules for political advertising, where we are seriously considering to limit the microtargeting as a method which is used for the promotion of political powers, political parties or political individuals.”

The European Commission is in the progress of drafting an ambitious and interlocking package of digital regulations, that it wants to fuel a regional data economy and set firm online rules to engender the necessary trust — and has said it wants this major digital policymaking effort to serve Europe for decades.

But without effective enforcement of its Internet rulebook it’s not clear how the bloc’s digital strategy will deliver as intended.

 

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #behavioral-ads, #europe, #gdpr, #google, #iab, #privacy, #rtb, #tc

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Apple takes aim at adtech hysteria over iOS app tracking change

Apple has used a speech to European lawmakers and privacy regulators today to come out jabbing at what SVP Craig Federighi described as dramatic, “outlandish” and “false” claims being made by the adtech industry over a forthcoming change to iOS that will give users the ability to decline app tracking. 

The iPhone maker had been due to introduce the major privacy enhancement to the App Store this fall but delayed until early 2021 after the plan drew fire from advertising giants.

Facebook, for example, warned the move could have a major impact on app makers which rely on its in-app advertising network to monetize on iOS, as well as some impact on its own bottom line.

Since then four online advertising lobby groups have filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in France — seeking to derail the privacy changes on competition grounds.

However Apple made it clear today that it’s not backing down.

Federighi described online tracking as privacy’s “biggest” challenge — saying its forthcoming App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature represents “the front line of user privacy” as far as it’s concerned.

“Never before has the right to privacy — the right to keep personal data under your own control — been under assault like it is today. As external threats to privacy continue to evolve, our work to counter them must, too,” he said in the speech to the European Data Protection & Privacy Conference.

The aim of ATT is “to empower our users to decide when or if they want to allow an app to track them in a way that could be shared across other companies’ apps or websites”, according to Federighi.

Civic society’s objection to the adtech industry’s tracking ‘dark art’ is that it sums to hellishly opaque mass surveillance of the mainstream Internet.

While harms attached to the practice include the risk of discrimination; manipulation of vulnerable groups; and election interference, to name a few.

Federighi took clear aim in his own attack — returning to a descriptor that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook used in a speech to an earlier European privacy conference back in 2018.

“The mass centralization of data puts privacy at risk — no matter who’s collecting it and what their intentions might be,” he warned. “So we believe Apple should have as little data about our customers as possible. Now, others take the opposite approach.

“They gather, sell, and hoard as much of your personal information as they can. The result is a data-industrial complex, where shadowy actors work to infiltrate the most intimate parts of your life and exploit whatever they can find — whether to sell you something, to radicalize your views, or worse.”

Since Cook wooed EU lawmakers by denouncing the “data-industrial complex” — and simultaneously lauding Europe’s pro-privacy approach to digital regulation — scores of individual and collective complaints have been lodged against the adtech infrastructure that underpins behavioral advertising under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Yet regional regulators still haven’t taken any enforcement action over these adtech complaints. Turning the cookie-tracking tanker clearly isn’t a cake walk.

And while the adtech lobby may have been heartened by remarks made yesterday by Commission EVP and competition chief, Margrethe Vestager — who told the OECD Global Competition Forum that antitrust enforcers should be “vigilant so that privacy is not used as a shield against competition” — there was a sting in the tail as she expressed support for a ‘superprofiling’ case against Facebook in Germany, which combines the streams of privacy and competition in new and interesting ways, with Vestager dubbing the piece of regulatory innovation “inspiring and interesting”.

Federighi urged Europe’s lawmakers to screw their courage to the sticking place where privacy is concerned.

“Through GDPR and other policies — many of which have been implemented by Commissioner Jourová, Commissioner Reynders, and others here with us today — Europe has shown the world what a privacy-friendly future could look like,” he said, lathering on the kind of ‘geopolitical influencer’ praise that’s particularly cherished in Brussels.

He also reiterated Apple’s support for a GDPR-style “omnibus privacy law in the U.S.” — something Cook called for two years ago — aka: a law that “empowers consumers to minimize collection of their data; to know when and why it is being collected; to access, correct, or delete that data; and to know that it is truly secure”.

“It’s already clear that some companies are going to do everything they can to stop [ATT] — or any innovation like it — and to maintain their unfettered access to people’s data. Some have already begun to make outlandish claims, like saying that ATT — which helps users control when they’re tracked — will somehow lead to greater privacy invasions,” he went on, taking further sideswipes at Apple’s adtech detractors.

“To say that we’re skeptical of those claims would be an understatement. But that won’t stop these companies from making false arguments to get what they want. We need the world to see those arguments for what they are: a brazen attempt to maintain the privacy-invasive status quo.”

In another direct appeal to EU lawmakers, Federighi suggested ATT “reflects both the spirit and the requirements of both the ePrivacy Directive, and the planned updates in the draft ePrivacy Regulation” — displaying a keen insight into the (oftentimes fraught) process of EU policymaking. (The ePrivacy update has in fact been stalled for years — so the subtle suggestion in Apple’s appeal is its technology levers being flipped to enable greater user privacy could help unblock the EU’s bunged up policy levers.)

“ATT, like ePrivacy, is about giving people the power to make informed choices about what happens to their data. I hope that the lawmakers, regulators, and privacy advocates here today will continue to stand up for strong privacy protections like these,” he added.

Earlier in the speech Federighi also made some plainer points: Likening ATT to the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature Apple added to its Safari browser back in 2017 — pointing out that despite similar objections from adtech then the industry as a whole has posted revenue increases every year since.

“Just as with ITP, some in the ad industry are lobbying against these efforts — claiming that ATT will dramatically hurt ad-supported businesses. But we expect that the industry will adapt as it did before — providing effective advertising, but this time without invasive tracking,” he said.

“Of course, some advertisers and tech companies would prefer that ATT is never implemented at all. When invasive tracking is your business model, you tend not to welcome transparency and customer choice,” he added, taking another swipe at the industry’s motives for objecting to more choice and privacy for iOS users.

At the same time Federighi did acknowledge that the iOS switch to requiring user permission for app tracking “is a big change from the world we live in now”.

Of course it’s one that will likely bring transitionary pain to iOS developers, too.

But on this his messaging stood firm: He made it clear Apple may wield the stick at developers who don’t get with its user privacy upgrade program, warning: “Early next year, we’ll begin requiring all apps that want to do that to obtain their users’ explicit permission, and developers who fail to meet that standard can have their apps taken down from the App Store.”

It was interesting to note that the speech contained both specific appeals to regional lawmakers to stay the course in regulating to protect data and privacy; and more amorphous appeals to (unnamed) competitors — to follow Apple’s lead and innovate around privacy.

But if you’re a tech giant being accused of anti-competitive behaviour by a self-interested adtech clique, framing your desire for increased competition in the (lucrative) business of enhancing user privacy is a nice rebuttal.

“We don’t define success as standing alone. When it comes to privacy protections, we’re very happy to see our competitors copy our work, or develop innovative privacy features of their own that we can learn from,” said Federighi.

“At Apple, we are passionate advocates for privacy protections for all users. We love to see people buy our products. But we would also love to see robust competition among companies for the best, the strongest, and the most empowering privacy features.”

Of course if more iOS developers have to rely on in-app subscriptions to monetize their wares, because users refuse app tracking, it’ll mean more money passing through the pearly App Store gates and straight into Apple’s coffers. But that’s another story.

The Apple SVP also took gentle aim at any EU policymakers who may be imagining it’s a clever idea to crack open the pandora’s box of end-to-end encryption — urging them to strengthen the bloc’s commitment to robust security. Duh.

The backstory here is there’s been some recent chatter around the topic. Last monthdraft resolution made by the Council of the European Union triggered press coverage that suggested EU legislators are on the cusp of banning e2e encryption.

Although, to be fair, the only ‘b’ word the Commission has used so far is ‘balanced’ — when it said its new EU security strategy will “explore and support balanced technical, operational and legal solutions, and promote an approach which both maintains the effectiveness of encryption in protecting privacy and security of communications, while providing an effective response to serious crime and terrorism”.

“I also hope that you will strengthen Europe’s support for end-to-end encryption. Apple strongly supported the European Parliament when it EU parliament proposed a requirement that the ePrivacy Regulation support end-to-end encryption, and we will continue to do so,” Federighi added, tone set to ‘don’t disappoint’.

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #app-tracking, #apple, #apps, #craig-federighi, #europe, #gdpr, #privacy, #tc

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Is the internet advertising economy about to implode?

Advertising drives the modern digital economy. Whether it’s reading news sites like this one or perusing your social media feeds, advertising is the single most important industry that came out of the development of the web. Yet, for all the tens of billions of dollars poured into online advertising just in the United States alone, how much does that money actually do its job of changing the minds of consumers?

Tim Hwang has a contrarian stance: it doesn’t. In his new book published as a collaboration between Logic Magazine and the famed publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, he argues in “Subprime Attention Crisis” that the entire web is staring into an abyss of its own making. Advertising is overvalued due to the opaqueness of the market, and few actors are willing to point out that the advertising emperor has no clothes. Much like the subprime mortgage crisis, once people come to realize the true value of digital ads, the market could crater. I found the book provocative, and I wanted to chat further with Hwang about his thoughts on the market.

Hwang formerly worked at Google on policy and has developed many, many projects across a whole swath of tech-oriented policy issues. He’s currently a research fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

TechCrunch: Let’s dive straight into the book. How did you get started on this topic of the “subprime attention economy”?

Tim Hwang: There were two incidents where I was like, something is going on here. I was having conversations with a couple of friends who are product managers at Facebook, and I remember making the argument that that there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that this whole adtech thing is maybe just mostly garbage. The most interesting thing that they said was, “Oh, like, advertising works but we can’t really tell you how.” That’s like talking to someone from the national security establishment and they’re like, “Oh yeah, we can stop terrorists but, like, we can’t tell you exactly how that goes down.”

I think one thing that got me really interested in it was how opaque a lot of these things are. The companies make claims that data-driven programmatic advertising really is as effective as it is but then they’re kind of strangely hesitant to show evidence of that.

Second, I was doing research with a lot of people who I think you’d rightly call sort of tech critics — strong critics of the power that these platforms have. I think one of the most interesting things is that even among the strongest critics of tech, I think a lot of them have just bought this claim that advertising and particularly data-driven advertising is as powerful as industry says it is.

It’s a kind of strange situation. Tech optimists and tech pessimists don’t agree on a whole lot, but they do seem to agree on the idea that this sort of advertising works. That was what I wanted to explore in the book.

Why don’t we talk a bit about the thesis?

The thesis of the book is really quite simple, which is you look around and basically our modern experience of the web is almost entirely shaped by advertising. The way social media is constructed, for example, is largely as a platform for delivering ads. Engagement with content is really good for creating profiles and it’s really good for delivering ads. It really has been the thing that has powered the current generation of companies in the space.

As you sort of look closer though, it really starts to resemble the market bubbles that we know of and have seen in other places. So explicitly, the metaphor of the book is the subprime mortgage crisis. I think the idea though is that you have this market that is highly opaque, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the value of ads is misidentified, and you have a lot of people interested in boosting it even in spite of all that.

For the book, I wanted to look at that market and then what the internet could look like after all this. Are there other alternative business models that we want to adopt for the web going forward?

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #book-review, #digital-advertising, #facebook, #finance, #google, #online-advertising, #tim-wu

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#Brandneu – 5 neue Startups, die ihr euch sofort ansehen solltet


Jeden Tag entstehen überall in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz neue Startups. deutsche-startups.de präsentiert an dieser Stelle wieder einmal einige ganz junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Tagen, Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind sowie einige junge Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind und erstmals für Schlagzeilen gesorgt haben.

MedKitDoc
Mit MedKitDoc können Patienten sich nicht nur via Videokonferenz mit einem Arzt austauschen, sondern auch mittels ausgesuchter Geräte untersuchen lassen. “Ein durch uns geschulter Facharzt führt die Untersuchung durch. Dabei kann er zum Beispiel über das Bluetooth-Stethoskop live Ihre Herztöne abhören”. Gegründet wurde das Telemedizin-Startup von Siegfried Guterman und Benjamin Gutermann.

Audry
Audry, das von Niklas Hildebrand und Eugenio Warglien geführt wird, möchte Podcastern zu mehr Reichweite verhelfen. Hinzu kommt eine AdTech-Komponente: “At Audry we enable brands to scale podcast advertising through programmatic buying”. Das Audry-Team baute vorher Boutiq, einen Influencer-Dienst, auf.

hivr.ai
Das junge Startup hivr.ai entwickelt eine Lösung für Tagungshotels und Locations. Mit der Software werden überall dort automatisiert, wo eine manuelle Bearbeitung ineffizient ist. hivr.ai sammelt etwa Meeting-Anfragen über zahlreiche Vertriebskanäle hinweg. Gründer sind Ferdi Güllübag, Christian Graf von Kanitz-Kopsch und Michael Liebscher.

Brands United
Brands United aus Berlin und ist auf den Kauf und den Zusammenschluss von erfolgreichen Amazon-FBA-Unternehmen bzw. deren Marken spezialisiert. Ein Konzept, das Thrasio weltweit etabliert hat. In Deutschland bearbeitet die Razor Group dieses Segment ebenfalls. Gegründet wurde das Startup von Dieter Pfeffer und Marc Nußbaumer.

Weißhaus
Mit Weißhaus baut Finleap ein Startup rund um das Thema Immobilieninvestitionen auf. Zum Konzept heißt es auf der Website: “Weißhaus bietet eine Plattform, die vermögenden Privatpersonen erstklassige Anlagen von führenden Unternehmen in der Immobilienbranche und im Anlagebereich einfach zugänglich macht”. Geführt wird das FinTech von Kyros Khadjavi.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über junge, frische und brandneue Startups, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Alle diese Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der bundesweiten Startup-Szene und im besten Fall auf die Agenda von Investoren, Unternehmen und potenziellen Kooperationspartnern. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#adtech, #aktuell, #audry, #berlin, #brandneu, #brands-united, #finleap, #fintech, #hann-munden, #hivr-ai, #medkitdoc, #startup-radar, #telemedizin, #weishaus

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UK’s ICO faces legal action after closing adtech complaint with nothing to show for it

The UK’s data watchdog is facing a legal challenge after it took the decision to quietly close a complaint against the adtech industry’s high velocity background trading of personal data.

The legal challenge was reported earlier by Politico.

The original complaint — challenging the adtech industry’s compliance with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — was filed to the ICO in September 2018 by Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, and Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights at the University College London.

A series of RTB complaints have been filed with regulators across Europe over the past two+ years.

The crux of the complaints is that real-time-bidding (RTB) auction systems cannot comply with the GDPR’s requirements to provide adequate security for people’s data.

In a report last year the ICO voices its own “systemic concerns” about the adtech industry’s use of personal data in the RTB component of programmatic advertising.

Last December one of its deputy commissioners, Simon McDougall, further warned the industry of the need to reform, writing: “We have significant concerns about the lawfulness of the processing of special category data which we’ve seen in the industry, and the lack of explicit consent for that processing.”

So it’s not clear why the UK regulator has chosen to close the complaint when it still hasn’t issued a decision on the substance.

The ICO did not respond to specific questions TechCrunch put to it about this — but sent us this statement: “We are aware of this matter, which will be decided by the Tribunal in due course. Consideration of concerns we have received forms part of our work on real time bidding and the Adtech industry.”

Earlier this year the regulator said it would “pause” its ongoing investigation into RTB on account of the coronavirus pandemic. The probe appears to still be on ice — raising further questions as to why the ICO would choose a moment of self-imposed inaction to close the complaint now.

In a series of letters to the complainants’ legal team, which we’ve reviewed, the ICO writes that it believes it has investigated the matter “to the extent appropriate”, and further claims the probe has “assisted and informed the ICO’s broader regulatory approach to RTB since September 2018”.

“Please therefore consider this to be confirmation of the outcome of your client’s complaint in line with s.165(4)(b) of the Data Protection Act 2018,” it adds, reiterating its position that the complaint is now concluded.

Killock and Veale voiced concerns that the move is a tactic by the ICO to close down their ability to challenge any future action it may (or may not) take in the area of RTB.

The follow-on concern is that the regulator does not intend to take robust enforcement action against what RTB complainants have referred to as the biggest data breach of all time — and is instead seeking to clear the road of first-order objectors.

In a letter to the complainants, dated September 23, 2020, the ICO writes that it intends to “recommence our industry wide investigation into RTB in due course” — but gives no detail of when that might happen nor any hint of any ultimate outcome more than two years after the complaint was filed.

“We are taking legal action against the ICO, as we believe that data processing being too complex and illegal is more reason to uphold the law, not less. Individuals can’t currently opt out of online tracking — and the ICO shouldn’t be able to opt out of regulating,” Veale told TechCrunch.

“After the ICO produced a report in response to the complaint of Jim Killlock and myself illustrating just how illegal RTB was, they appear to have concluded the appropriate action was to hold some stakeholder meetings, use none of their powers, and claim that they have discharged their obligations to the complainants to uphold the law. RTB continues to be outrageously illegal.”

“They shut our complaint down without doing anything,” Killlock also told us. “They say they will still take action, yes, but they removed the obligation to do something by closing our complaint.”

“They think the Information Tribunal is a soft touch, and won’t listen to anyone seeking to challenge an ICO decision about a Complaint of this nature,” he added. “The Information Tribunal has in fact stated that it will only look at procedural matters relating to this kind of complaints. They are wrong to do this, and this is something we also address [in the challenge].”

The ICO has already faced months of criticizism from European privacy experts over the lack of regulatory action to enforce regional data protection standards around RTB.

And while the regulator has voiced concerns about the lawfulness of practices underpinning behavioral advertising — and urged industry reform — it’s been a bark that hasn’t been backed up with any bite.

The upshot in the UK is Internet users’ personal data continues to be processed at vast scale by the ad targeting industry with no way for people to know where their information might be ending up nor how exactly it’s being used.

Concerns about the mass surveillance of Internet users to power behavioral advertising have been stepping up for years. Personal data that’s being routinely traded for ad targeting via RTB has been shown to include highly sensitive data such as health information, sexual orientation and political affiliation.

On the flip side, government and public health websites in Europe have also been shown sharing data on users with ad trackers — as have commercial sites that offer help with sensitive issues like mental health.

Earlier this month the European Parliament called for tighter controls on microtargeting — in favor of less intrusive, contextual forms of advertising.

As well as the inherent insecurity of RTB systems broadcasting people’s information over the Internet, another objection in Europe concerns whether or not all the players in the adtech chain are obtaining legally valid consent to process people’s data for ad targeting — as they are supposed to under GDPR.

Last month preliminary findings by the Belgium data protection authority cast doubt on the legality of an industry standard tool for gathering Internet users’ consent to ad targeting — with an investigation finding that the IAB Europe’s Trust and Consent Framework (TCF) fails to comply with GDPR principles of transparency, fairness and accountability, and also the lawfulness of processing.

It also found the TCF does not provide adequate rules for the processing of so-called special category data (e.g. health information, political affiliation, sexual orientation etc) .

Data protection authorities in Ireland, meanwhile, are continue to investigate RTB — opening a probe into how Google’s online ad exchange is processing people’s data in May last year. Though Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is also under fire for regulatory inaction.

The complaint was filed there at the same time as in the UK — meaning it’s also over two years old and still no decision to show for it.

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #data-protection, #europe, #gdpr, #ico, #rtb

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