Facebook’s Kustomer buy could face EU probe after merger referral

The European Union may investigate Facebook’s $1BN acquisition of customer service platform Kustomer after concerns were referred to it under EU merger rules.

A spokeswoman for the Commission confirmed it received a request to refer the proposed acquisition from Austria under Article 22 of the EU’s Merger Regulation — a mechanism which allows Member States to flag a proposed transaction that’s not notifiable under national filing thresholds (e.g. because the turnover of one of the companies is too low for a formal notification).

The Commission spokeswoman said the case was notified in Austria on March 31.

“Following the receipt of an Article 22 request for referral, the Commission has to transmit the request for referral to other Member States without delay, who will have the right to join the original referral request within 15 working days of being informed by the Commission of the original request,” she told us, adding: “Following the expiry of the deadline for other Member States to join the referral, the Commission will have 10 working days to decide whether to accept or reject the referral.”

We’ll know in a few weeks whether or not the European Commission will take a look at the acquisition — an option that could see the transaction stalled for months, delaying Facebook’s plans for integrating Kustomer’s platform into its empire.

Facebook and Kustomer have been contacted for comment on the development.

The tech giant’s planned purchase of the customer relations management platform was announced last November and quickly raised concerns over what Facebook might do with any personal data held by Kustomer — which could include sensitive information, given sectors served by the platform include healthcare, government and financial services, among others.

Back in February, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) wrote to the Commission and national and EU data protection agencies to raise concerns about the proposed acquisition — urging scrutiny of the “data processing consequences”, and highlighting how Kustomer’s terms allow it to process user data for very wide-ranging purposes.

“Facebook is acquiring this company. The scope of ‘improving our Services’ [in Kustomer’s terms] is already broad, but is likely to grow broader after Kustomer is acquired,” the ICCL warned. “‘Our Services’ may, for example, be taken to mean any Facebook services or systems or projects.”

“The settled caselaw of the European Court of Justice, and the European data protection board, that ‘improving our services’ and similarly vague statements do not qualify as a ‘processing purpose’,” it added.

The ICCL also said it had written to Facebook asking for confirmation of the post-acquisition processing purposes for which people’s data will be used.

Johnny Ryan, senior fellow at the ICCL, confirmed to TechCrunch it has not had any response from Facebook to those questions.

We’ve also asked Facebook to confirm what it will do with any personal data held on users by Kustomer once it owns the company — and will update this report with any response.

In a separate (recent) episode — involving Google — its acquisition of wearable maker Fitbit went through months of competition scrutiny in the EU and was only cleared by regional regulators after the tech giant made a number of concessions, including committing not to use Fitbit data for ads for ten years.

Until now Facebook’s acquisitions have generally flown under regulators’ radar, including, around a decade ago, when it was sewing up the social space by buying up rivals Instagram and WhatsApp.

Several years later it was forced to pay a fine in the EU over a ‘misleading’ filing — after it combined WhatsApp and Facebook data, despite having told regulators it could not do so.

With so many data scandals now inextricably attached to Facebook, the tech giant is saddled with customer mistrust by default and faces far greater scrutiny of how it operates — which is now threatening to inject friction into its plans to expand its b2b offering by acquiring a CRM player. So after ‘move fast and break things’ Facebook is having to move slower because of its reputation for breaking stuff.

 

#austria, #crm, #data-protection, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #facebook, #fitbit, #fundings-exits, #google, #healthcare, #johnny-ryan, #kustomer, #merger, #privacy, #social-media

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He Led Hitler’s Secret Police in Austria. Then He Spied for the West.

Franz Josef Huber, responsible for deporting tens of thousands of Jews, escaped punishment with U.S. backing and went on to work for West German intelligence, newly disclosed records reveal.

#austria, #central-intelligence-agency, #cold-war-era, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #germany, #holocaust-and-the-nazi-era, #huber-franz-josef, #politics-and-government, #united-states, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity, #world-war-ii-1939-45

0

Put your city on the TC map — TechCrunch’s European Cities Survey 2021

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey European founders and investors in cities outside the larger European capitals.

Over the next few weeks, we will ask entrepreneurs in these cities to talk about their ecosystems, in their own words.

This is your chance to put your city on the Techcrunch Map!

This is the follow-up to the huge survey of investors (see also below) we’ve done over the last 6 or more months, largely in capital cities.

These formed part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing regularly for ExtraCrunch, our subscription service which unpacks key issues for startups and investors.

In the first wave of surveys (as you can see below) the cities we wrote about were largely capitals.

This time, we will be surveying founders and investors in Europe’s other cities to capture how European hubs are growing, from the perspective of the people on the ground.

We’d like to know how your city’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and generally how your city will evolve.

We leave submissions mostly un-edited, and generally looking for at least one or two paragraphs in answers to the questions.

So if you are tech startup founder or investor in one of these cities please fill out our survey form here.

Austria: Graz, Linz
Belgium: Antwerp
Croatia: Zagreb, Osjek
Czech Republic: Brno, Ostrava, Plzen
England: Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester
Estonia: Tartu
France: Toulouse, Lyon, Lille
Germany: Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Bielefeld, Frankfurt
Greece: Thessaloniki
Ireland: Cork
Israel: Jerusalem
Italy: Trieste, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Milan
Netherlands: Delft, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Utrecht
Northern Ireland: Belfast, Derry
Poland: Gdańsk, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan
Portugal: Porto, Braga
Romania: Cluj, Lasi, Timisoara, Oradea, Brasov
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow
Spain: Valencia
Sweden: Malmo
Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com and/or reply on Twitter to @mikebutcher

Here are the cities that previously participated in The Great TechCrunch Survey of Europe’s VCs:

Amsterdam/Netherlands

Athens/Greece

Berlin/Germany

Brussels/Belgium

Bucharest/Romania

Copenhagen/Denmark

Dublin/Ireland

Helsinki/Finland

Lisbon/Portugal

London/UK

Madrid & Barcelona/Spain (Part 1 & Part 2)

Oslo/Norway

Paris/France

Prague/Czech Republic

Rome, Milan/Italy

Stockholm/Sweden

Tel Aviv/Israel

Vienna/Austria

Warsaw/Poland (Part 1 & Part 2)

Zurich/Switzerland

#articles, #austria, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cologne, #economy, #edinburgh, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #florence, #hamburg, #munich, #oxford, #startup-company, #tc, #techcrunch, #trieste, #verizon-media

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Testing platform Tricentis acquires performance testing service Neotys

If you develop software for a large enterprise company, chances are you’ve heard of Tricentis. If you don’t develop software for a large enterprise company, chances are you haven’t. The software testing company with a focus on modern cloud and enterprise applications was founded in Austria in 2007 and grew from a small consulting firm to a major player in this field, with customers like Allianz, BMW, Starbucks, Deutsche Bank, Toyota and UBS. In 2017, the company raised a $165 million Series B round led by Insight Venture Partners.

Today, Tricentis announced that it has acquired Neotys, a popular performance testing service with a focus on modern enterprise applications and a tests-as-code philosophy. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition. France-based Neotys launched in 2005 and raised about €3 million before the acquisition. Today, it has about 600 customers for its NeoLoad platform. These include BNP Paribas, Dell, Lufthansa, McKesson and TechCrunch’s own corporate parent, Verizon.

As Tricentis CEO Sandeep Johri noted, testing tools were traditionally script-based, which also meant they were very fragile whenever an application changed. Early on, Tricentis introduced a low-code tool that made the automation process both easier and resilient. Now, as even traditional enterprises move to DevOps and release code at a faster speed than ever before, testing is becoming both more important and harder for these companies to implement.

“You have to have automation and you cannot have it be fragile, where it breaks, because then you spend as much time fixing the automation as you do testing the software,” Johri said. “Our core differentiator was the fact that we were a low-code, model-based automation engine. That’s what allowed us to go from $6 million in recurring revenue eight years ago to $200 million this year.”

Tricentis, he added, wants to be the testing platform of choice for large enterprises. “We want to make sure we do everything that a customer would need, from a testing perspective, end to end. Automation, test management, test data, test case design,” he said.

The acquisition of Neotys allows the company to expand this portfolio by adding load and performance testing as well. It’s one thing to do the standard kind of functional testing that Tricentis already did before launching an update, but once an application goes into production, load and performance testing becomes critical as well.

“Before you put it into production — or before you deploy it — you need to make sure that your application not only works as you expect it, you need to make sure that it can handle the workload and that it has acceptable performance,” Johri noted. “That’s where load and performance testing comes in and that’s why we acquired Neotys. We have some capability there, but that was primarily focused on the developers. But we needed something that would allow us to do end-to-end performance testing and load testing.”

The two companies already had an existing partnership and had integrated their tools before the acquisition — and many of its customers were already using both tools, too.

“We are looking forward to joining Tricentis, the industry leader in continuous testing,” said Thibaud Bussière, president and co-founder at Neotys. “Today’s Agile and DevOps teams are looking for ways to be more strategic and eliminate manual tasks and implement automated solutions to work more efficiently and effectively. As part of Tricentis, we’ll be able to eliminate laborious testing tasks to allow teams to focus on high-value analysis and performance engineering.”

NeoLoad will continue to exist as a stand-alone product, but users will likely see deeper integrations with Tricentis’ existing tools over time, include Tricentis Analytics, for example.

Johri tells me that he considers Tricentis one of the “best kept secrets in Silicon Valley” because the company not only started out in Europe (even though its headquarters is now in Silicon Valley) but also because it hasn’t raised a lot of venture rounds over the years. But that’s very much in line with Johri’s philosophy of building a company.

“A lot of Silicon Valley tends to pay attention only when you raise money,” he told me. “I actually think every time you raise money, you’re diluting yourself and everybody else. So if you can succeed without raising too much money, that’s the best thing. We feel pretty good that we have been very capital efficient and now we’re recognized as a leader in the category — which is a huge category with $30 billion spend in the category. So we’re feeling pretty good about it.”

#allianz, #austria, #bnp-paribas, #computing, #dell, #deutsche-bank, #developer, #devops, #enterprise, #insight-venture-partners, #lufthansa, #ma, #neotys, #software-engineering, #software-testing, #starbucks, #toyota, #tricentis, #ubs, #verizon

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This Y Combinator startup is taking lab grown meat upscale with elk, lamb, and wagyu beef cell lines

Last week a select group of 20 employees and guests gathered at an event space on the San Francisco Bay, and, while looking out at the Bay Bridge dined on a selection of choice elk sausages, wagyu meatloaf, and lamb burgers — all of which were grown from a petrie dish.

The dinner was a coming out party for Orbillion Bio, a new startup pitching today in Y Combinator’s latest demo day, that’s looking to take lab-grown meats from the supermarket to high end, bespoke butcher shops.

Instead of focusing on pork, chicken and beef, Orbillion is going after so-called heritage meats — the aforementioned elk, lamb, and wagyu beef to start.

By focusing on more expensive end products, Orbillion doesn’t have as much pressure to slash costs as dramatically as other companies in the cellular meat market, the thinking goes.

But there’s more to the technology than its bourgie beef, elite elk, and luscious lamb meat.

“Orbillion uses a unique accelerated development process producing thousands of tiny tissue samples, constantly iterating to find the best tissue and media combinations,” according to Holly Jacobus, whose firm, Joyance Partners, is an early investor in Orbillion. “This is much less expensive and more efficient than traditional methods and will enable them to respond quickly to the impressive demand they’re already experiencing.”

The company runs its multiple cell lines through a system of small bioreactors. Orbillion couples that with a high throughput screening and machine learning software system to build out a database of optimized tissue and media combinations. “The key to making lab grown meat work scalably is choosing the right cells cultured in the most efficient way possible,” Jacobus wrote.

Co-founded by a deeply technical and highly experienced team of executives that’s led by Patricia Bubner, a former researcher at the German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim. Joining Bubner is Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay, a former director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, who was a post-doc at Berkeley with Bubner and serves as the company’s chief technology officer. Rounding out the senior leadership is Samet Yildirim, the chief operating officer at Orbillion and a veteran executive of Boehringer Ingelheim (he actually served as Bubner’s boss).

Orbillion Bio co-founders Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay, CTO, Patricia Bubner, CEO, and Samet Yildirim, COO. Image Credit: Orbillion Bio

For Bubner, the focus on heritage meats is as much a function of her background growing up in rural Austria as it is about economics. A longtime, self-described foodie and a nerd, Bubner went into chemistry because she ultimately wanted to apply science to the food business. And she wants Orbillion to make not just meat, but the most delicious meats.

It’s an aim that fits with how many other companies have approached the market when they’re looking to commercialize a novel technology. Higher end products, or products with unique flavor profiles that are unique to the production technologies available are more likely to be commercially viable sooner than those competing with commodity products. Why focus on angus beef when you focus on a much more delicious breed of animal?

For Bubner, it’s not just about making a pork replacement, it’s about making the tastiest pork replacement.

“I’m just fascinated and can see the future in us being able to further change the way we produce food to be more efficient,” she said. “We’re at this inflection point. I’m a nerd, i’m a foodie and I really wanted to use my skills to make a change. I wanted to be part of that group of people that can really have an impact on the way we eat. For me there’s no doubt that a large percentage of our food will be from alternative proteins — plant based, fermentation, and lab-grown meat.”

Joining Boehringer Ingelheim was a way for Bubner to become grounded in the world of big bioprocessing. It was preparation for her foray into lab grown meat, she said.

“We are a product company. Our goal is to make the most flavorful steaks. Our first product will not be whole cuts of steak. The first product is going to be a Wagyu beef product that we plan on putting out in 2023,” Bubner said. “It’s a product that’s going to be based on more of a minced product. Think Wagyu sashimi.”

To get to market, Bubner sees the need not just for a new approach to cultivating choice meats, but a new way of growing other inputs as well, from the tissue scaffolding needed to make larger cuts that resemble traditional cuts of meat, or the fats that will need to be combined with the meat cells to give flavor.

That means there are still opportunities for companies like Future Fields, Matrix Meats, and Turtle Tree Scientific to provide inputs that are integrated into the final, branded product.

Bubner’s also thinking about the supply chain beyond her immediate potential partners in the manufacturing process. “Part of my family were farmers and construction workers and the others were civil engineers and architects. I hold farmers in high respect… and think the people who grow the food and breed the animals don’t get recognition for the work that they do.”

She envisions working in concert with farmers and breeders in a kind of licensing arrangement, potentially, where the owners of the animals that produce the cell lines can share in the rewards of their popularization and wider commercial production.

That also helps in the mission of curbing the emissions associated with big agribusiness and breeding and raising livestock on a massive scale. If you only need a few animals to make the meat, you don’t have the same environmental footprint for the farms.

“We need to make sure that we don’t make the mistakes that we did in the past that we only breed animals for yield and not for flavor,” said Bubner. 

Even though the company is still in its earliest days, it already has one letter of intent, with one of San Francisco’s most famous butchers. Guy Crims, also known as “Guy the Butcher” has signed a letter of intent to stock Orbillion Bio’s lab grown Wagyu in his butcher shop, Bubner said. “He’s very much a proponent of lab-grown meat.”

Now that the company has its initial technology proven, Orbillion is looking to scale rapidly. It will take roughly $3.5 million for the company to get a pilot plant up and running by the end of 2022 and that’s in addition to the small $1.4 million seed round the company has raised from Joyant and firms like VentureSoukh.

“The way i see an integrated model working later on is to have the farmers be the breeders of animals for cultivated meat. That can reduce the number of cows on the planet to a couple of hundred thousand,” Bubner said of her ultimate goal. “There’s a lot of talking about if you do lab grown meat you want to put me out of business. It’s not like we’re going to abolish animal agriculture tomorrow.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

#articles, #austria, #barbecue, #beef, #bio, #butcher, #ceo, #chief-operating-officer, #chief-technology-officer, #coo, #cto, #cultured-meat, #director, #executive, #food, #food-and-drink, #future-fields, #getty-images, #machine-learning, #meat, #orbillion-bio, #san-francisco, #steak, #supply-chain, #tc, #y-combinator

0

Pfizer Vaccine Will Be Tested Against Variant from South Africa

Scientists want to inoculate every adult in one Austrian district, in a real-world test of how the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine works against the variant first seen in South Africa.

#austria, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-union, #ischgl-austria, #kurz-sebastian-1986, #pfizer-inc, #politics-and-government, #south-africa, #vaccination-and-immunization, #von-der-leyen-ursula

0

20 Wines Under $20: Postcards From Around the World

In a pandemic era, when traveling is largely out of the question, these wines, good values all, can take you on a trip around the globe.

#argentina, #australia, #austria, #california, #chile, #france, #grapes, #greece, #italy, #portugal, #wines

0

Lack of Tiny Parts Disrupts Auto Factories Worldwide

Carmakers can’t buy the semiconductors they need because home electronics are taking all the supply.

#austria, #automobiles, #bayerische-motorenwerke-ag, #bosch-robert-gmbh, #china, #computer-chips, #continental-ag, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #factories-and-manufacturing, #honda-motor-co-ltd, #mexico, #nxp-semiconductors-nv, #playstation-video-game-system, #renesas-electronics-corp, #semiconductor-manufacturing-international-corporation, #shortages, #tesla-motors-inc, #toyota-motor-corp, #volkswagen-ag

0

How 8 Countries Have Tried to Keep Artists Afloat During Panemic

Governments around the world have tried to support the arts during the pandemic, some more generously than others.

#austria, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #culture-arts, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #new-zealand, #poland, #south-africa, #south-korea, #stimulus-economic, #unemployment

0

Austrian Lockdown Covers Schools and Stores, but Not Ski Hills

A sunny holiday weekend drew a crush of skiers to Austria’s slopes, with crowded lift lines and parking lots making a mockery of social distancing rules.

#alpine-skiing, #alps-mountains, #austria, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #great-britain, #quarantines, #skiing, #switzerland, #travel-and-vacations

0

Dancing by Herself: When the Waltz Went Solo

Grete Wiesenthal, a ballet-trained Viennese dancer, made the waltz modern and a vehicle for solo expression.

#austria, #classical-music, #content-type-personal-profile, #dancing, #hofburg-silvesterball, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #vienna-austria, #vienna-state-opera, #waltz, #wiesenthal-grete

0

The mikme pocket is a fantastic mobile audio solution for podcasters, reporters and creators

Portable audio recording solutions abound, and many recently released devices have done a lot to improve the convenience and quality of sound recording devices you can carry in your pocket – spurred in part by smartphones and their constant improvement in video recording capabilities. A new device from Austria’s mikme, the mikme pocket (€369.00 or just under $450 USD), offers a tremendous amount of flexibility and quality in a very portable package, delivering what might just be the ultimate pocket sound solution for reporters, podcasters, video creators and more.

The basics

mikme pocket is small – about half the size of a smartphone, but square and probably twice as thick. It’s not as compact as something like the Rode Wireless GO, but it contains onboard memory and a Bluetooth antenna, making it possible to both record locally and transmit audio directly to a connected smartphone from up to three mikme pockets at once.

The mikme pocket features a single button for control, as well as dedicated volume buttons, a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring audio, a micro-USB port for charging and for offloading files via physical connection, and Bluetooth pairing and power buttons. It has an integrated belt clip, as well as a 3/8″ thread mount for mic stands, with an adapter included for mounting to 1/4″ standard camera tripod connections.

In the box, mikme has also included a lavalier microphone with a mini XLR connector (which is the interface the pocket uses) and a clip and two windscreens for the mic. They also offer a ‘pro’ lavalier mic as a separate, add-on purchase (€149.00 or around $180 USD), which offers improved performance vs. the included lav in terms of audio quality and dynamic range.

Image Credits: mikme

The internal battery for the mikme pocket lasts up to 3.5 hours of recording time, and it can last for more than six months in standby mode between recordings, too.

Design and performance

The mikme pocket is a pretty unadorned black block, but its unassuming design is one of its strengths. It has a textured matte feel which helps with grittiness, and it’s easy to hide in dark clothing, plus the integrated belt clip works exactly as desired ensuring the pack is easy secured to anyone you’re trying to wire for sound. It features a single large button for simplified control, which also easily shows you its connectivity status using an LED backlight.

Controls for more advanced functions like Bluetooth connectivity, as well as the micro-USB port, are located on the bottom where they’re unlikely to be pressed accidentally by anyone during recording. The mini XLR interface for microphones means that once a mic is plugged it, it’s also securely locked in place and won’t be jostled out during sessions.

You can use the mikme pocket on its own, thanks to its 16GB of built-in local storage, but it really shines when used in tandem with the smartphone app. The app allows you to connect up to three pockets simultaneously, and provides a built-in video recorder so you can take full advantage of the recording capabilities of modern devices like the iPhone 12 to capture real-time synced audio while you film effortlessly. The mikme pocket and app also have a failsafe built in for filling in any gaps that might arise from any connection dropouts thanks to the local recording backup.

In terms of audio quality, the sound without adjusting any settings is excellent. Like all lavalier mics, you’ll get better results the closer you can place the actually mic capsule itself to a speaker’s mouth, but the mikme pocket produced exceptional clean-sounding, high-quality audio right out of the box – in environments that weren’t particularly sound isolated or devoid of background noise.

The included mini XLR lav mic is probably good enough for the needs of most amateur and enthusiast users, while the lavalier pro is a great upgrade option for anyone looking to make the absolute most of their recordings, especially with post-processing via desktop audio editing software. The mikme app has built-in audio tweaking controls with a great visual interface that allows you to hear the effects of processing tweaks in real-time, which is great for maximizing sound quality on the go before sharing clips and videos directly from your device to social networks or publishing platforms.

Bottom line

From on-phone shotgun mics, to handheld recorders and much more, there are plenty of options out there for capturing audio on-the-go, but the mikme pocket is the one that offers the best balance of very high-quality sound that’s essentially immediately ready to publish, in a package that’s both extremely easy to carry anywhere with you, and that offers durability and user-friendliness to suit newcomers and experts alike.

#austria, #bluetooth, #computing, #darrell-etherington, #gadgets, #hardware, #iphone, #microphone, #microphones, #review, #reviews, #smartphone, #smartphones, #speaker, #tc, #technology

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Microsoft announces its first Azure data center region in Denmark

Microsoft continues to expand its global Azure data center presence at a rapid clip. After announcing new regions in Austria and Taiwan in October, the company today revealed its plans to launch a new region in Denmark.

As with many of Microsoft’s recent announcements, the company is also attaching a commitment to provide digital skills to 200,000 people in the country (in this case, by 2024).

“With this investment, we’re taking the next step in our longstanding commitment to provide Danish society and businesses with the digital tools, skills and infrastructure needed to drive sustainable growth, innovation, and job creation. We’re investing in Denmark’s digital leap into the future – all in a way that supports the country’s ambitious climate goals and economic recovery,” said Nana Bule, General Manager, Microsoft Denmark.

Azure regions

Image Credits: Microsoft

The new data center, which will be powered by 100% renewable energy and feature multiple availability zones, will feature support for what has now become the standard set of Microsoft cloud products: Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

As usual, the idea here is to provide low-latency access to Microsoft’s tools and services. It has long been Microsoft’s strategy to blanket the globe with local data centers. Europe is a prime example of this, with regions (both operational and announced) in about a dozen countries already. In the U.S., Azure currently offers 13 regions (including three exclusively for government agencies), with a new region on the West Coast coming soon.

“This is a proud day for Microsoft in Denmark,” said Brad Smith, President, Microsoft. “Building a hyper-scale datacenter in Denmark means we’ll store Danish data in Denmark, make computing more accessible at even faster speeds, secure data with our world-class security, protect data with Danish privacy laws, and do more to provide to the people of Denmark our best digital skills training. This investment reflects our deep appreciation of Denmark’s green and digital leadership globally and our commitment to its future.”

#austria, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #computing, #denmark, #developer, #europe, #microsoft, #microsoft-azure, #renewable-energy, #subscription-services, #taiwan, #united-states, #west-coast

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He Once Trafficked in Rare Birds. Now, He Tells How It’s Done.

After a chance encounter in Brazil, Johann Zillinger became one of the world’s most prolific wildlife smugglers. Three decades and two prison stints later, he says he has gone straight.

#austria, #birds, #brazil, #breeding-of-animals, #content-type-personal-profile, #convention-on-international-trade-in-endangered-species, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #parrots, #portugal, #smuggling, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #zillinger-johann

0

Ride Vision raises $7M for its AI-based motorcycle safety system

Ride Vision, an Israeli startup that is building an AI-driven safety system to prevent motorcycle collisions, today announced that it has raised a $7 million Series A round led by crowdsourcing platform OurCrowd. YL Ventures, which typically specializes in cybersecurity startups but also led the company’s $2.5 million seed round in 2018, Mobilion VC and motorcycle mirror manufacturer Metagal also participated in this round. The company has now raised a total of $10 million.

In addition to this new funding round, Ride Vision also today announced a new partnership with automotive parts manufacturer Continental .

“As motorcycle enthusiasts, we at Ride Vision are excited at the prospect of our international launch and our partnership with Continental,” Uri Lavi, CEO and co-founder of Ride Vision, said in today’s announcement. “This moment is a major milestone, as we stride toward our dream of empowering bikers to feel truly safe while they enjoy the ride.”

The general idea here is pretty straightforward and comparable with the blind-spot monitoring system in your car. Using computer vision, Ride Vision’s system, the Ride Vision 1, analyzes the traffic around a rider in real time. It provides forward collision alerts and monitors your blind spot, but it can also tell you when you’re following another rider or car too closely. It can also simply record your ride and, coming soon, it’ll be able to make emergency calls on your behalf when things go awry.

As the company argues, the number of motorcycles (and other motorized two-wheeled vehicles) has only increased during the pandemic, as people started avoiding public transport and looked for relatively affordable alternatives. In Europe, sales of two-wheeled vehicles increased by 30% during the pandemic.

The hardware on the motorcycle itself is pretty straightforward. It includes two wide-angle cameras (one each at the front and rear), as well as alert indicators on the mirrors, as well as the main computing unit. Ride Vision has patents on its human-machine warning interface and vision algorithms.

It’s worth noting that there are some blind-spot monitoring solutions for motorcycles on the market already, including those from Innovv and Senzar. Honda also has patents on similar technologies. These do not provide the kind of 360-degree view that Ride Vision is aiming for.

Ride Vision says its products will be available in Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Greece, Israel and the U.K. in early 2021, with the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, China and others following later.

#artificial-intelligence, #australia, #austria, #brazil, #canada, #china, #continental, #europe, #france, #germany, #greece, #honda, #india, #israel, #italy, #japan, #motorcycle, #ourcrowd, #recent-funding, #ride-vision, #spain, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #yl-ventures

0

Austria’s Leader Seeks Crackdown on Islamist Terrorism After Attack

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced a set of legislative proposals that would make it easier to keep terrorists behind bars, close mosques and clamp down on funding for terrorists.

#austria, #european-union, #france, #islamic-state-in-iraq-and-syria-isis, #kurz-sebastian-1986, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #muslims-and-islam, #politics-and-government, #terrorism, #vienna-austria, #vienna-austria-shooting-nov-2020

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Macron and Kurz Flex Antiterror Muscles for Domestic Audience

The context of a European-wide meeting on Tuesday was tackling the Continent’s terrorism concerns. For the leaders of France and Austria, political interests were the subtext.

#austria, #europe, #european-union, #france, #kurz-sebastian-1986, #le-pen-marine, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #merkel-angela, #politics-and-government, #terrorism

0

Vienna Reels From a Rare Terrorist Attack

The gunman, who killed four people and wounded 23, had been arrested for trying to join ISIS, raising questions about whether he should have been closely watched.

#austria, #islamic-state-in-iraq-and-syria-isis, #kurz-sebastian-1986, #muslims-and-islam, #politics-and-government, #terrorism, #vienna-austria, #vienna-austria-shooting-nov-2020

0

Vienna Shooting Attack: Live Updates

The Austrian leader described the gunmen as terrorists, but no motive has emerged. At least one attacker was still at large.

#austria, #vienna-austria

0

Vienna Terrorist Attack Leaves at Least 2 Dead and 15 Wounded

Several assailants with rifles opened fire in the historic heart of the city, and the police killed one of them. There was no official word on a motive.

#austria, #school-shootings-and-armed-attacks, #terrorism, #vienna-austria

0

Vienna Shooting Live Updates: City Center in Chaos After ‘Terrorist Attack’

Several people were reported injured in the shooting Monday night in the heart of Austria’s capital. The country’s interior minister called it a terrorist attack.

#austria, #vienna-austria

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Microsoft announces its first Azure data center region in Taiwan

After announcing its latest data center region in Austria earlier this month and an expansion of its footprint in Brazil, Microsoft today unveiled its plans to open a new region in Taiwan. This new region will augment its existing presence in East Asia, where the company already runs data centers in China (operated by 21Vianet), Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. This new region will bring Microsoft’s total presence around the world to 66 cloud regions.

Similar to its recent expansion in Brazil, Microsoft also pledged to provide digital skilling for over 200,000 people in Taiwan by 2024 and it is growing its Taiwan Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure engineering group, too. That’s in addition to investments in its IoT and AI research efforts in Taiwan and the startup accelerator it runs there.

“Our new investment in Taiwan reflects our faith in its strong heritage of hardware and software integration,” said Jean-Phillippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations. “With Taiwan’s expertise in hardware manufacturing and the new datacenter region, we look forward to greater transformation, advancing what is possible with 5G, AI and IoT capabilities spanning the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

Image Credits: Microsoft

The new region will offer access to the core Microsoft Azure services. Support for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. That’s pretty much Microsoft’s playbook for launching all of its new regions these days. Like virtually all of Microsoft’s new data center region, this one will also offer multiple availability zones.

#artificial-intelligence, #austria, #brazil, #china, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #cloud-storage, #computing, #internet-of-things, #iot, #japan, #microsoft, #microsoft-365, #microsoft-azure, #taiwan

0

Winter Sports Athletes Are Crisscrossing Europe for Races. Is That a Good Idea?

A World Cup schedule demands what medical experts have been advising against since March — large group gatherings and international travel.

#alpine-skiing, #austria, #biathlon, #central-europe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diggins-jessica-1991, #dunklee-susan-1986, #europe, #finland, #international-biathlon-union, #international-ski-federation, #world-cup-skiing

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Microsoft Azure announces its first region in Austria

Microsoft today announced its plans to launch a new data center region in Austria, its first in the country. With nearby Azure regions in Switzerland, Germany, France and a planned new region in northern Italy, this part of Europe now has its fair share of Azure coverage. Microsoft also noted that it plans to launch a new ‘Center of Digital Excellence’ to Austria to “to modernize Austria’s IT infrastructure, public governmental services and industry innovation.”

In total, Azure now features 65 cloud regions — though that number includes some that aren’t online yet. As its competitors like to point out, not all of them feature multiple availability zones yet, but the company plans to change that. Until then, the fact that there’s usually another nearby region can often make up for that.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Talking about availability zones, in addition to announcing this new data center region, Microsoft also today announced plans to expand its cloud in Brazil, with new availability zones to enable high-availability workloads launching in the existing Brazil South region in 2021. Currently, this region only supports Azure workloads but will add support for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform over the course of the next few months.

This announcement is part of a large commitment to building out its presence in Brazil. Microsoft is also partnering with the Ministry of Economy “to help job matching for up to 25 million workers and is offering free digital skilling with the capacity to train up to 5.5 million people” and to use its AI to protect the rainforest. That last part may sound a bit naive, but the specific plan here is to use AI to predict likely deforestation zones based on data from satellite images.

#artificial-intelligence, #austria, #brazil, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #computing, #europe, #france, #germany, #italy, #microsoft, #microsoft-365, #microsoft-azure, #ministry-of-economy, #subscription-services, #switzerland

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As investors and founders mature, Vienna emerges as a European startup hub

According to Austrian Startup Monitor, entrepreneurs have founded more than 2,200 startups in Austria since 2008, with the number of tech companies growing 12% per year since then, significantly faster than the 3% growth rate for traditional companies.

Home to roughly 50% of Austria’s startups, Vienna has a plethora of VC, corporate and university investors. Top VCs include 3TS Capital Partners, AC & Friends, Cudos Capital, FSP Ventures, Hansmen Group, i4g Investment, i5invest, LilO Ventures, next.march, primeCROWD, Speedinvest and Venionaire Capital, among others.

The local ecosystem benefits from several initiatives, including the Social Impact Awards, Vienna Startup Awards, Design Week, Climate KIC Stage, Innovation Incubation Center and INiTS Accelerator. The well-run Pioneers Festival contributed massively to the ecosystem for several years after a certain TechCrunch editor-at-large gave the organizers an excuse to expand on a simple TechCrunch meetup. But the festival was shuttered last year after its sale to a local accelerator meant that the event itself ran out of steam. Perhaps it was just as well, given this year’s pandemic.

State support for startups is also there. The Austrian government created a comprehensive startup program in 2016 to make the country more attractive to startups setting up there.

Standout exits include fitness app maker Runtastic, acquired by Adidas for $240 million in 2015, as well as listings marketplace Shpock, which was acquired by Norwegian publishing conglomerate Schibsted in 2015. Other notable startups originally from Vienna include mySugr, wikifolio, kompany and Codeship.

There have been jitters on the way, however. The Austrian Private Equity and Venture Capital Organization’s 2019 report found that Austria’s startups saw €237.6 million invested in 2018, but, this number fell 8.2% to €218 million in 2019; the number of deals exceeding €500,000 also dipped by 8.7%. Foreign funding also slowed in 2019 after a few years of a bull run — between 40% and 63% of deals sized €0.25-€1.99 million were significantly funded by foreign investors in 2018.

Despite the decline, local investors have started to pick up the slack, boosting the number of funding rounds over €5 million to 12 deals in 2019 from 11 in 2018. In both years, all but one of those deals drew a substantial part of the funding round from foreign investors.

We expect more to emerge from Vienna’s tech scene in the future. The Pioneers Festival (RIP) proved that Vienna is a fascinating bridge between Western European capital and entrepreneurial culture, and East European entrepreneurs and talent, which it will no doubt continue to benefit from in years to come. But — just as will happen with Lisbon this year and the loss of Web Summit — the loss of a major conference in Vienna to shine a light on the city and ecosystem, combined with the pandemic, may have cooling effects for the next couple of years.


Notable Vienna startups:

  • Newsadoo: Uses artificial intelligence to personalize news.
  • Cashpresso: Links customers, merchants and banks to offer consumer financing options.
  • Jobrocker: An online job search portal that connects applicants’ CVs with job openings.
  • Storyblok: A headless content management system.
  • Byrd: First-mile shipping service that allows customers to ship items hassle-free.
  • Music Traveler: A marketplace that centralizes spaces with musical instruments and equipment.
  • PAYUCA: Provides flexible access to parking spaces in private office and residential buildings.
  • Refurbed: Fast-growing marketplace for refurbished electronics, across the German-speaking world.
  • Presono: A web platform for creating, managing and showing presentations in companies.
  • Blockpit: Develops software for portfolio tracking, tax calculation and compliance reporting of transactions for cryptocurrencies and crypto assets.
  • Robo Wunderkind: A robot for kids to build and program.
  • Medicus: Converts health data with their cryptic numbers and medical language into an easy-to-understand visual experience.
  • Cybershoes: VR accessory that allows you to walk through your favorite VR games.

Here’s who we interviewed:

Eva Arh, principal, Capital 300

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
B2B software, robotics, no/low-code automation, AI-enabled vertical solutions, e-health, companies enabling others to hire and engage talent remotely.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Lokalise.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Companies that enable others to manage and automate billing even further (e.g., per API call), next-gen video conferencing, solutions guiding women through menopause, providing solutions that help companies to offer mental health services to distributed teams, bringing cloud kitchens to the next level (not running central kitchens).

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
As always, ambitious, smart, hard-working teams eager to build a category leader in a huge market.

What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
Concerned about solutions that leverage behavioral data to influence people for the sake of optimizing profit, overload of sales and marketing tech, overload of chatbot providers. [It is] hard to compete with players that have benefited from huge network effects such as food delivery.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
We focus on German-speaking areas and Central Eastern Europe. Opportunistically we would also invest outside of the region, still in Europe.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Austria — no specific industry focus within software. However, well-positioned in the biotech space, CEE — given the strong presence of IT outsourcing companies, the region is well-positioned to build solutions in the business-process automation, dev tool space. Storyblok (our portfolio). Others to watch: Anyline, Adverity, Bitpanda, PlanRadar, Refurbed.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Regarding Vienna — we are seeing the first generation of entrepreneurs building global companies. Their and their team experience will be at utmost value creating a new wave of tech companies that compete on a global level.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Yes, we already see this — exciting companies coming out of small cities in Poland, Germany, etc. and companies going remote.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
Telemedicine, online education has been accelerated. We see a shift that otherwise would have taken years, especially in the relatively conservative German-speaking area. As mentioned previously, mental health solutions, hiring and employing remotely are some of the opportunities highlighted by COVID-19. Companies that are heavily exposed are those that have been serving the long tail of companies, small merchants, and local businesses that were closed down or experienced much less traffic in past months and hence are extremely sensitive around their cost base, discontinuing services that are not 110% essential.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
We have always been very selective and focused, partnering up three to four times a year. We continue at the same pace. The companies that perform well despite COVID-19 are still in a strong position for attracting external capital. Of course, we help our portfolio to secure a runway and have a discussion how/whether the situation has impacted their offering/GTM. Some companies have to rethink their value proposition, some rethink their target groups either to make up for slower sales cycles or on the other hand to leverage and benefit from the current situation.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes, we see that Lokalise is growing heavily with the current customer base as their customers expand to new markets, likely to make up for slower revenue growth in their existing markets. We see that Nethone (fraud prevention) is able to double down on e-commerce. Online fraud and online transactions are skyrocketing as people spend much more time online. (On the other hand, their airline customers of course show a different trajectory.)

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
It is inspiring to see how founders go through the current situation, act instead of reacting, especially in those countries where there is less government support incentives in place. Personally, I am also happy to see that people use the work from home time to rethink and introduce healthier habits.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
As the world has gone online and the location matters much less, there is an opportunity to distribute the created value and wealth more evenly — be it a company founded in a “non-tech-hub” location or be it talent hired remotely.

#austria, #europe, #germany, #investor-surveys, #oliver-holle, #speedinvest, #tc, #uniqa-ventures, #vc-survey, #vc-surveys, #venture-capital

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Turkish Defector Says He Was Ordered to Kill Politician in Austria

The testimony by the man, who claimed to be an intelligence agent, offers insight into President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pursuit of foes and undermines the conviction of a U.S. Consulate employee in Istanbul.

#austria, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #gulen-fethullah, #politics-and-government, #topuz-metin, #turkey, #united-states-international-relations

0

Ski, Party, Seed a Pandemic: The Travel Rules That Let Covid-19 Take Flight

The World Health Organization said open borders would help fight disease. Experts, and a global treaty, emphatically agreed. But the scientific evidence was never behind them.

#alpine-skiing, #austria, #bars-and-nightclubs, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #disease-rates, #epidemics, #politics-and-government, #quarantines, #travel-and-vacations, #travel-warnings, #world-health-organization

0

I’m Not Alone. I Have My Cats.

The star of this short documentary calls himself ‘Catman.’

#animals, #austria, #breeding-of-animals, #cats, #documentary-films-and-programs, #loneliness, #pets, #switzerland

0

Remembering Music’s Saving Powers at Auschwitz

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who says her role as a cellist in the camp orchestra kept her alive, takes her message to the Salzburg Festival.

#anti-semitism, #austria, #concentration-camps, #holocaust-and-the-nazi-era, #lasker-wallfisch-anita, #music, #salzburg-festival, #world-war-ii-1939-45

0

In a Death, Details of More Russian Murder-for-Hire Plots

A Chechen man shot near Vienna last weekend had spoken publicly of giving Austrian and Ukrainian authorities information about contract killings. He also said there was a price on his head.

#austria, #beck-martin-d-2020, #chechnya-russia, #informers, #kadyrov-ramzan, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #politics-and-government, #russia, #targeted-killings, #ukraine

0

10 Reasons You Should Give Riesling Another Look

Critics love it, consumers not so much. But the beauty of these wines requires stubborn advocacy because they are that good. Really.

#adelaide-australia, #austria, #california, #finger-lakes-region-ny, #germany, #riesling-wine

0

EU digs in on digital tax plan, after US quits talks

The European Commission has reiterated its commitment to pushing ahead with a regional plan for taxing digital services after the US quit talks aimed at finding agreement on reforming tax rules — ramping up the prospects of a trade war.

Yesterday talks between the EU and the US on a digital services tax broke down after U.S. treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, walked out — saying they’d failed to make any progress, per Reuters.

The EU has been eyeing levying a tax of between 2% and 6% on the local revenues of platform giants.

Today the European Commission dug in in response to the US move, with commissioner Paolo Gentiloni reiterating the need for “one digital tax” to adapt to what he dubbed “the reality of the new century” — and calling for “understanding” in the global negotiation.

However he also repeated the Commission’s warning that it will push ahead alone if necessary, saying that if the US’ decision to quit talks means achieving global consensus impossible it will put “a new European proposal on the table”.

Following the break down of talks, France also warned it will go ahead with a digital tax on tech giants this year — reversing an earlier suspension that had been intended to grease the negotiations.

The New York Times reports French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, describing the US walk-out as “a provocation”, and complaining about the country “systematically threatening” allies with sanctions.

The issue of ‘fair taxes’ for platforms has been slow burning in Europe for years, with politicians grilling tech execs in public over how little they contribute to national coffers and even urging the public to boycott services like Amazon (with little success).

Updating the tax system to account for digital giants is also front and center for Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission — which is responding to the widespread regional public anger over how little tech giants pay in relation to the local revenue they generate.

European Commission president von der Leyen, who took up her mandate at the back end of last year, has said “urgent” reform of the tax system is needed — warning at the start of 2020 that the European Union would be prepared to go it alone on “a fair digital tax” if no global accord was reached by the end of this year.

At the same time, a number of European countries have been pushing ahead with their own proposals to tax big tech — including the UK, which started levying a 2% digital services tax on local revenue in April; and France, which has set out a plan to tax tech giants 3% of their local revenues.

This gives the Commission another clear reason to act, given its raison d’être is to reduce fragmentation of the EU’s Single Market.

Although it faces internal challenges on achieving agreement across Member States, given some smaller economies have used low national corporate tax rates to attract inward investment, including from tech giants.

The US, meanwhile, has not been sitting on its hands as European governments move ahead to set their own platform taxes. The Trump administration has been throwing its weight around — arguing US companies are being unfairly targeted by the taxes and warning that it could retaliate with up to 100% tariffs on countries that go ahead. Though it has yet to do so.

On the digital tax reform issue the US has said it wants a multilateral agreement via the OECD on a global minimum. And a petite entente cordiale was reached between France and the US last summer when president Emmanuel Macron agreed the French tech tax would be scraped once the OECD came up with a global fix.

However with Trump’s negotiators pulling out of international tax talks with the EU the prospect of a global understanding on a very divisive issue looks further away than ever.

Though the UK said today it remains committed to a global solution, per Reuters which quotes a treasury spokesman.

Earlier this month the US also launched a formal investigation into new or proposed digital taxes in the EU, including the UK’s levy and the EU’s proposal, and plans set out by a number of other EU countries, claiming they “unfairly target” U.S. tech companies — lining up a pipeline of fresh attacks on reform plans.

#amazon, #austria, #czech-republic, #economy, #emmanuel-macron, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #france, #italy, #oecd, #president, #spain, #tax, #tax-avoidance, #tax-haven, #trump-administration, #united-kingdom, #united-states

0

Triumph releases e-bicycle but no word on e-motorcycle debut

UK motorcycle manufacturer Triumph released an e-bicycle today, the Trekker GT — with 90 miles of riding range, a 250 watt motor and a 504 watt hour battery.

With a five hour charge time, the bike weighs 52 pounds (24 kilograms) and can produce up to 60 Nm (or 29 ft-lbs) of torque. Triumph’s Trekker GT will be available for $3,750 at Triumph dealerships in the U.S. and abroad.

The question is how this connects to the ultimate debut of a Triumph e-motorcycle. The manufacturer, which is a major global supplier of gas machines, has yet to release an e-moto — but did announce an EV concept in 2019, the TE-1.

The Trekker GT appears linked to development of a production e-motorcycle by Triumph, through the company wasn’t able to provide a timeline on when that could be available.

“The launch of the Trekker GT is a unique strategy from our research into electric motorcycles,” Adam VanderVeen, Marketing Director of Triumph North America told TechCrunch .

“We’ve introduced this e-bicycle in response to the growth of the e-cycle market, while we separately continue to research motorcycle engine platforms, including electric powered.”

Image Credit: Triumph

Most of the big name motorcycle manufacturers —  Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki — have been slow to develop production e-motorcycles. That’s with the exception of Harley Davidson, which became the first of the big gas manufacturers to offer a street-legal e-motorcycle for sale in the U.S. — the $29K, 105 horsepower LiveWire in 2019.

Austria’s KTM offers an off-road production e-moto for sale in the U.S. — the Freeride E-XC. Italian high performance motorcycle manufacturer Ducati hasn’t released an e-moto concept yet, but debuted e-mountain bikes in Europe last year.

Ducati, like Triumph, appears to view an e-bicycle as a soft-pivot toward the e-motorcycle market.

Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson has already entered the EV arena with several e-moto startups that are attempting to convert gas riders to electric and attract a younger generation to motorcycling.

One of the leaders is California startup Zero Motorcycles,  with 200 dealers worldwide. Zero introduced a LiveWire competitor last year, the $19,000 SR/F, with a 161-mile city range, one-hour charge capability and a top speed of 124 mph. Italy’s Energica is expanding distribution of its high-performance e-motos in the U.S.

And Canadian startup Damon Motors debuted its 200 mph, $24,000 Hypersport this year. The e-powered machine offers proprietary safety and ergonomics tech for adjustable riding positions and blind-spot detection.

I have to admit, the release of e-bikes by major motorcycle manufacturers as a substitute for full e-motos is a bit of a yawn at this point.

We’ve been testing advanced EV models by Zero and Energica for several years now. And Harley Davidson’s electric pivot in 2019 should have served as a wake up call to manufacturers to bring full electric motorcycle concepts to market.

It’s notable that Harley-Davidson acquired a youth electric scooter maker, Stacyc, in 2019 and has committed to produce e-scooters and e-mountain bikes as part of its EV program. The strategy is to use these platforms to create a new bridge for young people to motorcycles in the on-demand mobility world.

Triumph may be following that game plan in the run up to its first full e-moto. The difference is HD has already created an e-motorcycle to offer on the other side of the bridge and has new models on the way.

#austria, #california, #ducati, #e-bikes, #e-moto, #e-motorcycle, #e-motorcycles, #e-scooters, #electric-motorcycles, #europe, #harley-davidson, #harley-davidson-livewire, #honda, #italy, #ktm, #livewire, #motorcycle, #motorcycles, #stacyc, #suzuki, #tc, #techcrunch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #zero-motorcycles

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Across Europe, Reopening Borders in Time for Summer

Countries across Europe, eyeing the summer holidays, are taking steps to begin reopening borders that had been closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

#austria, #baltic-region, #canary-islands, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #croatia, #eastern-europe, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #poland, #quarantines, #summer-season, #travel-warnings

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Google’s Android ad ID targeted in strategic GDPR tracking complaint

Now here’s an interesting GDPR complaint: Is Google illegally tracking Android users in Europe via a unique, device-assigned advertising ID?

First, what is the Android advertising ID? Per Google’s description to developers building apps for its smartphone platform it’s — [emphasis added by us]

The advertising ID is a unique, user-resettable ID for advertising, provided by Google Play services. It gives users better controls and provides developers with a simple, standard system to continue to monetize their apps. It enables users to reset their identifier or opt out of personalized ads (formerly known as interest-based ads) within Google Play apps.

Not so fast, says noyb — a European not-for-profit privacy advocacy group that campaigns to get regulators to enforce existing rules around how people’s data can be used — the problem with offering a tracking ID that can only be reset is that there’s no way for an Android user to not be tracked.

Simply put, resetting a tracker is not the same thing as being able to not be tracked at all.

noyb has now filed a formal complaint against Google under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), accusing it of tracking Android users via the ad ID without legally valid consent.

As we’ve said many, many, many times before, GDPR applies a particular standard if you’re relying on consent — as Google appears to be here, since Android users are asked to consent to its terms on device set up, yet must agree to a resettable but not disable-able advertising ID.

Yet, under the EU data protection framework, for consent to be legally valid it must be informed, purpose limited and freely given.

Freely given means there must be a choice (which must also be free).

Thus the question arises, if an Android user can’t say no to an ad ID tracker — they can merely keep resetting it (with no user control over any previously gathered data) — where’s their free choice to not be tracked by Google?

“In essence, you buy a new Android phone, but by adding a tracking ID they ship you a tracking device,” said Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at noyb.eu, in a statement on the complaint.

noyb’s contention is that Google’s ‘choice’ is “between tracking or more tracking” — which isn’t, therefore, a genuine choice to not be tracked at all.

Google claims that users can control the processing of their data, but when put to the test Android does not allow deleting the tracking ID,” it writes. “It only allows users to generate a new tracking ID to replace the existing one. This neither deletes the data that was collected before, nor stops tracking going forward.”

“It is grotesque,” continued Rossetti. “Google claims that if you want them to stop tracking you, you have to agree to new tracking. It is like cancelling a contract only under the condition that you sign a new one. Google’s system seems to structurally deny the exercise of users’ rights.”

We reached out to Google for comment on noyb’s complaint. At the time of writing the company had not responded but we’ll update this report if it provides any remarks.

The tech giant is under active GDPR investigation related to a number of other issues — including its location tracking of users; and its use of personal data for online advertising.

The latest formal complaint over its Android ad ID has been lodged with Austria’s data protection authority on behalf of an Austrian citizen. (GDPR contains provisions that allow for third parties to file complaints on behalf of individuals.)

noyb says the complaint is partially based on a recent report by the Norwegian Consumer Council — which analyzed how popular apps are rampantly sharing user data with the behavioral ad industry.

In terms of process, it notes that the Austrian DPA may involve other European data watchdogs in the case.

This is under a ‘one-stop-shop’ mechanism in the GDPR whereby interested watchdogs liaise on cross-border investigations, with one typically taking a lead investigator role (likely to be the Irish Data Protection Commission in any complaint against Google).

Under Europe’s GDPR, data regulators have major penalty powers — with fines that can scale as high as 4% of global annual turnover, which in Google’s case could amount to up to €5BN. And the ability to order data processing is suspended or stopped. (An outcome that would likely be far more expensive to a tech giant like Google.)

However there has been a dearth of major fines since the regulation began being applied, almost two years ago (exception: France’s data watchdog hit Google with a $57M fine last year). So pressure is continuing to pile up over enforcement — especially on Ireland’s Data Protection Commission which handles many cross-border complaints but has yet to issue any decisions in a raft of cross-border cases involving a number of tech giants.

#advertising-tech, #android, #austria, #data-processing, #europe, #european-union, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #google-play, #norwegian-consumer-council, #noyb, #operating-systems, #privacy, #tc

0

Sports Begin to Reawaken in a Changed World

The rules differ among counties, states and countries, but the athletic world is beginning to creep toward competition again.

#austria, #colorado-springs-colo, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #ladies-professional-golf-assn, #united-states-olympic-and-paralympic-committee

0

Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, Heart and Stroke Patients Go Missing

Emergency physicians are seeing declines in the number of patients arriving with cardiac problems. Some say they were afraid to go to the hospital.

#austria, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #emergency-medical-treatment, #fear-emotion, #heart, #hospitals, #jaipur-india, #stroke, #united-states

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Using 25% lower bandwidth, Disney+ launches in UK, Ireland, 5 other European countries, France to come online April 7

Disney+, the streaming service from the Walt Disney Company, has been rapidly ramping up in the last several weeks. But while some of that expansion has seen some hiccups, other regions are basically on track. Today, as expected, Disney announced that it is officially launching across 7 markets in Euopre — but doing so using reduced bandwidth given the strain on broadband networks as more people are staying home because of the coronavirus pandemic. From today, it will be live in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland; and Disney also reconfirmed the delayed debut in France will be coming online on April 7.

Seven is the operative number here, it seems: it’s the largest multi-country launch so far for the service.

“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ said Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, in a statement. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently, and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”

Pricing is £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription. Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal, will follow in summer 2020.

The service being rolled out will feature 26 Disney+ Originals plus an “extensive collection” of titles (some 500 films, 26 exclusive original movies and series and thousands of TV episodes to start with) from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and other content producers owned by the entertainment giant, in what has been one of the boldest moves yet from a content company to go head-to-head with OTT streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

Caught in the crossfire of Covid-19

The expansion of Disney+ has been caught in the crossfire of world events.

The new service is launching at what has become an unprecedented time for streaming media. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of of the world is being told to stay home, and many people are turning to their televisions and other screens for diversion and information.

That means huge demand for new services to entertain or distract people who are now sheltering in place. And that has put a huge strain on broadband networks. So, to be a responsible streamer (and to make sure quality is not too impacted), Disney confirmed (as it previously said it would) that it would be launching the service with “lower overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25%.”

There are now dozens of places to get an online video fix, but Disney has a lot of valuable cards in its hand, specifically in the form of a gigantic catalog of famous, premium content, and the facilities to produce significantly more at scale, dwarfing the efforts (valiant or great as they are) from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Apple .

Titles in the mix debuting today include “The Mandalorian” live-action Star Wars series; a live-action “Lady and the Tramp,” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,”; “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” docuseries from National Geographic; “Marvel’s Hero Project,” which celebrates extraordinary kids making a difference in their communities; “Encore!,” executive produced by the multi-talented Kristen Bell; “The Imagineering Story” a 6-part documentary from Emmy and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and animated short film collections “SparkShorts” and “Forky Asks A Question” from Pixar Animation Studios.

Some 600 episodes of “The Simpsons” is also included (with the latest season 31 coming later this year).

With entire households now being told to stay together and stay inside, we’re seeing a huge amount of pressure being put on to broadband networks and a true test of the multiscreen approach that streaming services have been building over the years.

In this case, you can use all the usuals: mobile phones, streaming media players, smart TVs and gaming consoles to watch the Disney+ service (including Amazon devices, Apple devices, Google devices, LG Smart TVs with webOS, Microsoft’s Xbox Ones, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment, with the ability to use four concurrent streams per subscription, or up to 10 devices with unlimited downloads. As you would expect, there is also the ability to set up parental controls and individual profiles.

Carriers with paid-TV services that are also on board so far include Deutsche Telekom, O2 in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France when the country comes online. No BT in the UK, which is too bad for me (sniff). Sky and NOW TV are also on board.

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Closed Borders Within Europe Unleash Congestion and Chaos

Hungary became a bottleneck as angry travelers staged sit-ins on a major road, backing up truckers carrying goods and other traffic for miles.

#austria, #bulgaria, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #germany, #hungary, #orban-viktor, #poland, #roads-and-traffic, #romania, #serbia, #trucks-and-trucking

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A Big Idea and a Big Donor Bring a New Art Museum to Austria

The Albertina Modern, a satellite of the venerable Vienna institution, aims to highlight overlooked Austrian artists in a newly restored historic building.

#albertina-modern, #albertina-museum, #art, #austria, #collectors-and-collections, #haselsteiner-hans-peter, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #museums

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