IPS Black brings impressive contrast and vivid colors to Dell’s UltraSharp U2723QE

Dell UltraSharp U2723QE front-facing

Enlarge / Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 4K USB-C monitor. (credit: Scharon Harding)

Specs at a glance: Dell UltraSharp U2723QE
Panel size 27 inches
Resolution 3840×2160
Refresh rate 60 Hz
Panel type and backlight IPS Black, LED
Ports 2x USB-C upstream, 1x USB-C downstream, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 out, 5x USB-A, 1x RJ45, 1x 3.5 mm jack
Size 24.07×7.28×15.16-21.07 inches with stand
(611.4×185×353.01 mm)
Weight 14.64 lbs (6.64 kg) with stand
9.88 lbs (4.48 kg) without stand
Warranty  3 years
Price (MSRP) $655

Apple’s Studio Display, a 27-inch 5K IPS panel that offers USB-C connectivity, a polished finish, and some Apple-style perks, is a solid display. But what if you’re a Mac owner who doesn’t need 5K, or what if you don’t want to spend $1,600 on a monitor? What if you need to work across operating systems and want a stylish display with a unique boost in image quality?

Enter the Dell UltraSharp U2723QE ($655 MSRP as of writing). Dell’s USB-C-equipped UltraSharp line is a popular option for Mac and Windows users, though the U2723QE comes at a premium over other displays in the lineup because it introduces LG Display’s IPS Black technology, which aims to deliver twice as much contrast as the average IPS screen. You might not be able to tell 5K from 4K, but it’s easy to see the rich contrast the U2723QE delivers over standard IPS monitors, including the Studio Display.

For those seeking a 27-incher with enough extra oomph to make a difference but not completely break the bank, the U2723QE presents an attractive combination of good looks, superior image quality, and enough connectivity to drive a seriously productive setup.

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Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 becomes a Microsoft Surface-like detachable

Dell XPS 2-in-1

Enlarge / Dell XPS 2-in-1. (credit: Dell)

Dell revealed the last pieces of its 2022 XPS 13 lineup today. After releasing the XPS 13 Plus earlier this year, Dell has announced the more traditional, lower-priced XPS 13 clamshell refresh. Dell also overhauled the XPS 13 2-in-1‘s design, transforming it from a portable ultralight with a 360-degree hinge to a tablet with an optional detachable keyboard cover sold separately.

XPS 13 2-in-1 specs

Available this summer, the XPS 13 2-in-1 (model 9315) at its base configuration is basically a tablet running on up to an Intel Core i7-1250U (two performance cores at 1.1-4.7 GHz, eight efficiency cores at 0.8–3.5 GHz, 12 threads). For comparison, the similarly designed Microsoft Surface Pro 8 detachable has up to an i7-1185G7 (four cores, eight threads, up to 4.8 GHz).

Dell’s detachable will also be configurable with up to 16GB of soldered LPDDR4x-4266 RAM and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD.

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Same price, different niche: New Dell UltraSharp matches Studio Display at $1,600

A large computer monitor with a bulky webcam

Enlarge / We checked out the Dell UltraSharp U3223QZ in person in January. (credit: Scharon Harding)

On Tuesday, Dell listed the UltraSharp U3223QZ monitor for $1,600. The display would like to justify its price with a generously sized 32-inch IPS panel that claims twice the contrast as typical IPS monitors, an integrated 4K webcam, and 4K resolution. The four-figure asking price, along with the built-in camera, USB-C connectivity, and sleek finish put it in company with Apple’s 27-inch, 5K Studio Display. Both monitors provide unique options for people with larger budgets seeking elevated image quality, particularly Mac owners. But despite identical price tags, their best audiences significantly differ.

Dell UltraSharp U3223QZ vs. Apple Studio Display specs

While appealing to Windows users with ultralight PCs with USB-C power connections, Dell’s UltraSharp monitor line is also popular among Mac owners due to USB-C power delivery (PD), a stylish silver color, and thin bezels that complement the Apple aesthetic.

But a quick overview of the two monitors’ specs already provides insight into the different experiences you can expect from the $1,600 displays (note that all specs are manufacturer claims):

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#apple, #dell, #monitors, #tech

Dell’s thinnest Latitude brings video call control to the touchpad

Dell Latitude 9330 touchpad

Enlarge (credit: Dell)

Dell really wants to make video calls easier. Like many tech vendors enamored with tackling the obstacles associated with remote and hybrid working, the company has been playing with different ways to simplify web calls: from a 4K monitor with a built-in 4K webcam to a magnetic wireless webcam concept that can dock in the middle of a monitor or elsewhere. Dell’s latest foray sees it increasing what you can do with the touchpad, à la Asus’ ScreenPad and NumberPad features.

The Dell Latitude 9330 announced Tuesday has a glass touchpad that offers one-touch access to Zoom’s microphone mute, video on/off, screen share, and chat options.

Asus has long been offering enhanced input control via laptop touchpads. Its latest ScreenPad technology turns the touchpad into a 2160×1080-resolution LCD touchscreen with the ability to launch different apps, app-specific menus, and apps made specifically for the tiny screen. The ScreenPad is also much more colorful.

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New Dell workstation laptops fit 128GB of DDR5 RAM on a single module

Dell's 17-inch Precision 7770.

Enlarge / Dell’s 17-inch Precision 7770. (credit: Dell)

There’s no denying the convenience of a thinner, lighter laptop. But power users requiring workstation-level performance often end up sacrificing portability for power. The Dell Precision 7670 and 7770 mobile workstations announced Tuesday debut new ways to deliver RAM and chassis options to those who want heavy-duty power but not necessarily a heavy-duty machine.

According to Dell, the Precision 7670 and 7770 will be its most powerful laptops upon release, which should be by the end of July. To achieve a 0.98-inch thinness for the 16-inch 7670 and 1.13 inches for the 17-inch 7700, the laptops’ DDR5 memory uses a design Dell hasn’t shown before, Compression Attached Memory Module (CAMM).

According to a blog post from Dell, the non-error correction code (non-ECC) module that Dell patented allows for “a thinner chassis design without sacrificing performance,” since there’s only one module, rather than multiple stacked ones. The RAM’s memory connector layout also purportedly makes the RAM “more accessible for field repair.”

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Explaining IPS Black, the display tech in Dell’s new UltraSharp 4K monitors

Dell's UltraSharp U3223QE is a 31.5-inch IPS Black monitor.

Enlarge / Dell’s UltraSharp U3223QE is a 31.5-inch IPS Black monitor. (credit: Dell)

Dell announced two new models in its popular UltraSharp monitor lineup on Thursday. The displays have been a favorite of office workers, creatives, and—because of their USB-C connectivity—Mac users. Now, LG Display is introducing what it’s calling “IPS Black,” which will come to Dell’s lineup in the UltraSharp 32 (U3223QE) and 27 (U2723QE) 4K USB-C Hub Monitors.

What is IPS Black, and should we expect it to give the monitors an edge over the competition?

First, what is IPS?

To understand IPS Black, a new type of IPS panel, it helps to have a basic understanding of IPS, or in-plane switching. IPS is one of the three types of LED panels in PC monitors and TVs, alongside VA (vertical alignment) and TN (twisted nematic).

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#dell, #monitors, #tech

Dell’s new dock wirelessly charges your phone while supporting two 4K monitors

Dell Dual Charge Dock with smartphone charging

Enlarge / Dell’s Dual Charge Dock. (credit: Dell)

When it comes to the ultimate computer setup, we often want more features but less clutter. We need more pixels, more screens, more peripherals (looking at you, USB webcam that suddenly became imperative), and more ways to power all that tech. At the same time, we seek cleaner setups and fewer cables as many laptops cut ports in favor of slimmer designs. Like any dock, the Dell Dual Charge Dock (HD22Q) announced Thursday neatly adds more ports, but its wireless charging pad brings an added feature.

Dell said the upcoming product is the first laptop docking station with Qi wireless charging (which works with supporting smartphones and wireless earbuds) that can also support two 4K monitors simultaneously. If less is more, the dock is a way to provide extra desk space for a wireless charging station.

Qi charging occurs through a “slightly angled fabric stand,” according to Dell’s press materials. You can charge your phone both horizontally and vertically at up to 12 W, which is close to Qi’s maximum charging speed of 15 W.

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#dell, #dock, #tech

Dell Latitude, Precision PCs claim 30% lower latency with dual-network connection

Promotional image of cutting-edge laptop in multiple setups.

Enlarge / Dell Latitude 9430. (credit: Dell)

Dell announced its new lineup of Latitude business laptops and Precision mobile workstations today. In addition to sporting trimmer builds and Intel’s latest 12th Gen mobile CPUs, the new clamshells and two-in-ones also carry updated AI software for improved network latency and to help boost privacy and battery life.

Dell Optimizer software adds fresh features

Dell’s Optimizer AI-based optimization software will be preloaded on its new Latitude and Precision laptops. But unlike with earlier laptops in these lines, users and IT managers will actually be able to pick the features they want and ditch the rest.

Among features up for selection is ExpressConnect. Dell updated ExpressConnect to allow the new laptops, which offer Wi-Fi 6E, to utilize a Wi-Fi network and either a second Wi-Fi network or a wired connection simultaneously to send and receive data traffic. Some laptops will require a USB adapter to connect to a second Wi-Fi network, Dell says.

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#dell, #laptops, #software, #tech

Dell’s XPS 17 and 15 laptops now sold with 12th-gen Intel CPUs

Dell XPS 17

Enlarge / Dell XPS 17. (credit: Dell)

Dell updated its largest XPS clamshells on Thursday to include the latest mobile chips from Intel. Now, 12th-gen “Alder Lake” chips are available in the 17- and 15.6-inch versions of the XPS.

Both the XPS 17 and 15 now have options for an Intel Core i5-12500H or i7-12700H. The former has four performance cores (P-cores), eight efficiency cores (E-cores), and a turbo clock speed of up to 4.5 GHz, while the latter has six P-Cores and eight E-cores and can hit up to 4.7 GHz. To get Intel’s highest-end i9-12900HK, which has six P-cores and eight E-cores and can hit 5 GHz, you’ll have to get the smaller-screened XPS 15.

Based on press materials, Dell seems to be planning to put the i9-12900HK in the XPS 17, too, which would make sense, as it’s the largest, more expensive XPS. We’ll update this story if we hear back about when that model will be available.

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#dell, #laptops, #tech

Dell says Microsoft’s Pluton security chip isn’t right for its business PCs

Dell says Microsoft’s Pluton security chip isn’t right for its business PCs

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Dell, one of the top three PC makers, will not be using Microsoft’s Pluton chip in “most” commercial PCs, The Register reported on Wednesday. A Dell representative told the publication that the security processor “does not align with Dell’s approach to hardware security and our most secure commercial PC requirements.”

Microsoft first announced the Pluton security processor in 2020. At that point, the chip had already been used in microcontrollers in the Xbox One and Azure Sphere to prevent hardware hacks.

In PCs, Pluton is meant to prevent hacks that could result from an attacker having physical access to the PC. Such physical hacks could result in malware installation or stolen data. By living on the main CPU’s die, Pluton can store protected data in an area that is isolated from the PC’s other components. According to Microsoft, that data can’t be removed no matter what.

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#dell, #lenovo, #microsoft, #tech

Dell’s new UltraSharp 4K monitor has a monstrous 4K webcam built in

Dell’s UltraSharp monitors have a long-standing reputation for being strong picks for office professionals and creatives, and the USB-C variants have proven to be some of the most popular Mac monitors. Dell’s latest 32-inch UltraSharp was announced during the Consumer Electronics Show this week, and it doubles down on that legacy.

The monitor hits the standard bullet points: it has a USB-C port and a 3840 x 2160 screen resolution. It can act as a USB hub with its five 10Gbps USB-A ports. But what really sets the monitor apart is its 4K webcam.

As noted, these monitors are made to appeal to professionals like designers, marketing folks, and so on, so a color-accurate 4K screen is important. But these days, those workers will be spending a fair amount of time on video calls, so it seems Dell is trying to make the product a more comprehensive package for remote-working pros.

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#4k, #dell, #dell-ultrasharp, #ips, #lcd, #led, #monitor, #tech, #usb-c

Dell’s XPS 13 Plus brings a MacBook Touch Bar-like experience

Dell XPS 13 Plus in its platinum color.

Enlarge / Dell XPS 13 Plus in its platinum color. (credit: Scharon Harding)

Dell today unveiled the latest in its long line of XPS laptops. Previous updates have ranged from minor CPU refreshes to moderate redesigns with larger screen-to-body ratios, smaller dimensions, and critical changes, like the removal of the up-the-nose webcam. But the latest XPS 13 is one of the most unusual-looking in years. And with a design built to host a more power-hungry CPU, Dell is calling it the XPS 13 Plus.

Announced to coincide with CES 2022 this week, the XPS 13 Plus (9320) will be available globally this spring with Windows 11 or Ubuntu 20.04 (XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition). Dell hasn’t settled on a starting price yet but told the press it’s “targeting” $1,199.99 in the US. That’s a notable bump from the current non-Plus XPS, which starts at $850 (that configuration was out of stock on Dell’s website as of writing. The next cheapest available SKU starts at $950). Dell said it will confirm the XPS 13 Plus’ price closer to the shipping date.

One look at the XPS 13 Plus and you can tell that it offers a different experience than the prior XPS 13. The machine’s keyboard stretches across the entire deck with no space between individual keys. The touchpad isn’t outlined with a border or completed with left- and right-click keys. Instead, the entire deck is the touchpad, which responds with haptic feedback. And rather than topping the keyboard with a row of function keys, the XPS 13 Plus has an Apple Touch Bar-like capacitive touch strip that you can toggle to show function-row inputs or media functions.

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#ces-2022, #dell, #dell-xps, #dell-xps-13, #laptops, #tech

Dell’s magnetic wireless webcam might help you forget about that infamous nose cam

A small camera is attached directly to a computer monitor.

Enlarge / The webcam can stick onto a screen so you can place it at eye level, or wherever else you’d want. (credit: Scharon Harding)

If you asked me to guess a company revamping webcam positioning, I wouldn’t name Dell. That’s because I still remember the Dell XPS’s infamous up-the-nose webcam, an unfortunately placed shooter that provided an in-nostril view of countless XPS users for years. But Dell wants there to be a different, more positive reason you associate it with funky webcams, and, ironically, the company is all about getting webcams in the most ideal spot possible.

Dell demoed Concept Pari to the press last week (at the same event where it showed off its Concept Luna repairable PC). It’s a 1080p webcam that can depart its holster with a simple pluck, to be placed anywhere magnets work. The idea is that the camera will continue to send video to a connected PC through Wi-Fi, even from a couple of feet away. The most obvious use case for Concept Pari is sticking it in directly on your computer’s display rather than on its bezel. This makes for a more personal-feeling conversation with your long-distance interlocutors by bringing their view of you to eye level. 

“It can be placed directly—anywhere—on compatible displays, in a charging dock, on a stand, or even held in the hand,” Dell Technologies’ CTO of the Client Solutions Group, Glen Robson, explained in a blog post today.

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#dell, #dell-xps, #tech, #webcam

Dell’s Concept Luna PC disassembles easily so you can reuse its parts

Dell's Concept Luna laptop.

Enlarge / Dell’s Concept Luna laptop.

What do you do when your laptop screen breaks or the keyboard gives out? After some troubleshooting, you probably toss out the machine and upgrade. But what if some of your laptop’s components could be harvested and put in another computer, like some Frankenstein creation? That’s what Dell has in mind with its Concept Luna laptop project.

Concept Luna

According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, only 17.4 percent of the 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste created in 2019 was recycled. One of the sustainability goals Dell wants to achieve by 2030 is to reuse or recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys, with over 50 percent of product content being composed of recycled or renewable materials. And how will it get all those recyclable materials? Partially from Dell customers.

Last week, I got to check out Concept Luna. Announced today, it’s a laptop aimed at helping Dell achieve its environmental goals by offering parts that are easier to repair, reuse, and recycle. The machine is built to open up easily, so you can harvest its motherboard or other parts to use in future systems. Through this process, Dell hopes that a motherboard will be able to be used in two to three machines.

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Dell spins off $64 billion VMware as it battles debt hangover

Dell spins off $64 billion VMware as it battles debt hangover

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images)

PC pioneer Michael Dell is set to cap his climb back to the top of the computing world on Monday with one of the largest corporate spin-offs.

Dell Technologies will shed its 81 percent stake in publicly traded VMware, creating an independent software company with a stock market value of nearly $64 billion. Dell’s remaining hardware operations have an implied value of $33 billion, based on its latest share price.

The transaction, first disclosed in April, completes an eight-year saga in which the Texan entrepreneur turned his $3.8 billion interest in an out-of-favor PC maker into a personal stake in a broader data center hardware and software empire worth $40 billion.

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#biz-it, #dell, #virtualization, #vmware

Dell’s XPS Desktop gets a new look and liquid cooling

Not to scale: Old Dell XPS Desktop (left) with new XPS Desktop (right).

Enlarge / Not to scale: Old Dell XPS Desktop (left) with new XPS Desktop (right). (credit: Dell)

Dell’s XPS Desktop is ditching the cheese-grater look in favor of something sweeter. The tower PCs announced today are 42 percent larger and have a new thermal design that flattens the previous version’s bumpy, weave-like ventilation grille into a square-filled design reminiscent of waffles. The beefier chassis—which measures 27 L, compared to its predecessor’s 19 L—makes way for Intel’s latest 12th-Gen Alder Lake CPUs and Nvidia’s and AMD’s most powerful graphics cards.

The top-line CPU option is the powerful Intel Core i9-12900K—and when we say powerful, we mean it. The chip is a 125 W, overclockable, 16-core, 30-thread CPU with 30MB of cache and a 3.2 GHz clock speed that can boost to 5.2 GHz. The prior XPS Desktop came with up to an i9-11900K, which is also 125 W but with half the cores, threads, and cache, plus lower clock speeds (3.5 / 5.3 GHz).

Options for graphics go up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 or an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. You can add up to an incredible 128GB of DDR5-3600 RAM (across four 32GB sticks), twice the memory offered by the last-gen XPS Desktop. The PC packs up to 4TB of storage, courtesy of a 2TB SSD and 2TB HDD. Fuel for all that computing horsepower comes from a 750 W power supply.

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#dell, #dell-xps, #dell-xps-desktop, #desktop-pc, #tech

With no new Apple monitors, here are the best high-res screens for your Mac

imac in blue on white background

Enlarge / No larger M1-powered iMac yet. (credit: Apple)

Apple held its fall event was today, and the stars of the show were the M1 Pro and M1 Max announced for the new MacBook Pros. We even got new AirPods and word on macOS Monterey. But all was quiet on the displays front. Hope for a larger iMac with Apple Silicon to accompany the 24-inch model announced in April was not rewarded, and the Apple Pro Display XDR is still Apple’s only standalone monitor. If you were waiting for today’s event to help you select the next screen to run macOS on, we feel your pain. We can’t force Apple to release new displays, but we can round up some non-Apple PC monitors worth considering if you need something now.

But let’s get something out of the way first. Nothing can really compete with the iMac right now in terms of display resolution and computing power. That said, every display listed below is a monitor only. There are no all-in-one PCs here.

5K alternatives

One of the greatest advantages the iMac and Pro Display XDR have is their ridiculous pixel count. The iMac has what Apple calls 4.5K resolution (4480 x 2520). And the Pro Display XDR claims 6K, or 6016 x 3384. Neither resolution is common, and 5K (5120 x 2880) options have more pixels than the iMac (14,745,600 versus 11,289,600 pixels). But pixel density, which affects how sharp the image looks, is determined by each monitor’s size.

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#5k-display, #8k, #apple, #asus, #dell, #imac, #lg, #mac, #pro-display-xdr, #tech

Dell XPS 15 9510 review: Come for the screen, stay for everything else

Most people buying a laptop these days will get by just fine with a 13- or 14-inch thin-and-light PC like the Dell XPS 13 or Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon. These laptops have reasonably powerful processors and integrated graphics that are good enough for an external monitor or two, but they prioritize a thin profile and light weight over performance.

Still, sometimes you need something larger and more powerful, whether it’s because you want a bigger screen to use away from your desk or you need extra processor cores or graphical power for editing videos or playing games. And if you want those things in a laptop that doesn’t totally disregard size and weight—and if you prefer or require Windows instead of macOS—that’s when you buy something like the XPS 15.

The latest XPS 15 (officially, model number 9510) is yet another iterative improvement for a laptop that has always looked and felt like a blown-up version of the XPS 13. But six- or eight-core Intel Tiger Lake processors and a new Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs with ray tracing capabilities make this version of the XPS 15 especially appealing for professionals and light gamers, even if updated competitors like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (and, when it’s finally released, an updated version of the 16-inch MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon) give it a run for its money.

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Tile secures $40 million to take on Apple AirTag with new products

Tile, the maker of Bluetooth-powered lost item finder beacons and, more recently, a staunch Apple critic, announced today it has raised $40 million in non-dilutive debt financing from Capital IP. The funding will be put towards investment in Tile’s finding technologies, ahead of the company’s plan to unveil a new slate of products and features that the company believes will help it to better compete with Apple’s AirTags and further expand its market.

The company has been a longtime leader in the lost item finder space, offering consumers small devices they can attach to items — like handbags, luggage, bikes, wallets, keys, and more — which can then be tracked using the Tile smartphone app for iOS or Android. When items go missing, the Tile app leverages Bluetooth to find the items and can make them play a sound. If the items are further afield, Tile taps into its broader finding network consisting of everyone who has the app installed on their phone and other access points. Through this network, Tile is able to automatically and anonymously communicate the lost item’s location back to its owner through their own Tile app.

Image Credits: Tile

Tile has also formed partnerships focused on integrating its finding network into over 40 different third-party devices, including those across audio, travel, wearables, and PC categories. Notable brand partners include HP, Dell, Fitbit, Skullcandy, Away, Xfinity, Plantronics, Sennheiser, Bose, Intel, and others. Tile says it’s seen 200% year-over-year growth on activations of these devices with its service embedded.

To date, Tile has sold over 40 million devices and has over 425,000 paying customers — a metric it’s revealing for the first time. It doesn’t disclose its total number of users, both free and paid combined, however. During the first half of 2021, Tile says revenues increased by over 50%, but didn’t provide hard numbers.

While Tile admits that the Covid-19 pandemic had some impacts on international expansions, as some markets have been slower to rebound, it has still seen strong performance outside the U.S., and considers that a continued focus.

The pandemic, however, hasn’t been Tile’s only speed bump.

When Apple announced its plans to compete with the launch of AirTags, Tile went on record to call it unfair competition. Unlike Tile devices, Apple’s products could tap into the iPhone’s U1 chip to allow for more accurate finding through the use of ultra-wideband technologies available on newer iPhone models. Tile, meanwhile, has plans for its own ultra-wideband powered device, but hadn’t been provided the same access. In other words, Apple gave its own lost item finder early, exclusive access to a feature that would allow it to differentiate itself from the competition. (Apple has since announced it’s making ultra-wideband APIs available to third-party developers, but this access wasn’t available from day one of AirTag’s arrival.)

Image Credits: Tile internal concept art

Tile has been vocal on the matter of Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, having testified in multiple Congressional hearings alongside other Apple critics, like Spotify and Match. As a result of increased regulatory pressure, Apple later opened up its Find My network to third-party devices, in an effort to placate Tile and the other rivals its AirTags would disadvantage.

But Tile doesn’t want to route its customers to Apple’s first-party app — it intends to use its own app in order to compete based on its proprietary features and services. Among other things, this includes Tile’s subscriptions. A base plan is $29.99 per year, offering features like free battery replacement, smart alerts, and location history. A $99.99 per year plan also adds insurance of sorts — it pays up to $1,000 per year for items it can’t find. (AirTag doesn’t do that.)

Despite its many differentiators, Tile faces steep competition from the ultra-wideband capable AirTags, which have the advantage of tapping into Apple’s own finding network of potentially hundreds of millions of iPhone owners.

However, Tile CEO CJ Prober — who joined the company in 2018 — claims AirTag hasn’t impacted the company’s revenue or device sales.

“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re making things harder for us,” he says of Apple. “We’re a growing business. We’re winning the hearts and minds of consumers… and they’re competing unfairly.”

“When you own the platform, you shouldn’t be able to identify a category that you want to enter, disadvantage the incumbents in that category, and then advantage yourself — like they did in our case,” he adds.

Tile is preparing to announce an upcoming product refresh that may allow it to better take on the AirTag. Presumably, this will include the pre-announced ultra-wideband version of Tile, but the company says full details will be shared next week. Tile may also expand its lineup in other ways that will allow it to better compete based on look and feel, size and shape, and functionality.

Tile’s last round of funding was $45 million in growth equity in 2019. Now it’s shifted to debt. In addition to new debt financing, Tile is also refinancing some of its existing debt with this fundraise, it says.

“My philosophy is it’s always good to have a mix of debt and equity. So some amount of debt on the balance sheet is good. And it doesn’t incur dilution to our shareholders,” Prober says. “We felt this was the right mix of capital choice for us.”

The company chose to work with Capital IP, a group it’s had a relationship with over the last three years, and who Tile had considered bringing on as an investor. The group has remained interested in Tile and excited about its trajectory, Prober notes.

“We are excited to partner with the Tile team as they continue to define and lead the finding category through hardware and software-based innovations,” said Capital IP’s Managing Partner Riyad Shahjahan, in a statement. “The impressive revenue growth and fast-climbing subscriber trends underline the value proposition that Tile delivers in a platform-agnostic manner, and were a critical driver in our decision to invest. The Tile team has an ambitious roadmap ahead and we look forward to supporting their entry into new markets and applications to further cement their market leadership,” he added.

#airtag, #airtags, #android, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #bluetooth, #ceo, #computing, #dell, #find-my, #fitbit, #funding, #gadgets, #hardware, #intel, #iphone, #mobile, #plantronics, #recent-funding, #sennheiser, #skullcandy, #smartphone, #startups, #tc, #technology, #tile, #u1-chip, #ultra-wideband, #united-states

Dell’s $199 UltraSharp 4K webcam has AI on board—but no microphone

Dell’s new UltraSharp camera takes aim at Logitech’s high-end Brio with the same $199 price along with 4K resolution and Windows Hello-compatible infrared sensor. But despite sharing a price tag and many of the same specifications, the two high-end webcams diverge noticeably on features.

Hardware

The UltraSharp’s most obvious differentiator is its vague physical resemblance to the Apple iSight, a discontinued FireWire camera with a similar “shotgun” chassis orientation. As compelling as that resemblance is for some Apple fans, the similarity between UltraSharp and iSight pretty much ends there.

Under the hood, the UltraSharp features a Sony STARVIS 8.3 megapixel primary optical sensor, featuring automatic focus, automatic white balance and light correction, and full HDR. There’s also a Windows Hello-compatible IR sensor for biometric authentication—but, curiously, no microphone. UltraSharp users will need to supply their own mic—which might actually prove convenient for some high-end consumers with studio mics, who will therefore have one fewer useless input to deal with.

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A well-meaning feature leaves millions of Dell PCs vulnerable

Dell has released a patch for a set of vulnerabilities that left as many as 30 million devices exposed.

Enlarge / Dell has released a patch for a set of vulnerabilities that left as many as 30 million devices exposed. (credit: Artur Widak | Getty Images)

Researchers have known for years about security issues with the foundational computer code known as firmware. It’s often riddled with vulnerabilities, it’s difficult to update with patches, and it’s increasingly the target of real-world attacks. Now a well-intentioned mechanism to easily update the firmware of Dell computers is itself vulnerable as the result of four rudimentary bugs. And these vulnerabilities could be exploited to gain full access to target devices.

The new findings from researchers at the security firm Eclypsium affect 128 recent models of Dell computers, including desktops, laptops, and tablets. The researchers estimate that the vulnerabilities expose 30 million devices in total, and the exploits even work in models that incorporate Microsoft’s Secured-core PC protections—a system specifically built to reduce firmware vulnerability. Dell is releasing patches for the flaws today.

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#biz-it, #dell, #firmware, #pcs, #security, #windows

Ahead of Dell’s spin out, VMware appoints longtime exec Raghu Raghuram as its new CEO

Five months after it was announced that Pal Gelsinger would be stepping down as CEO of VMware to take the top job at Intel, the virtualization giant has finally appointed a permanent successor. Raghu Raghuram — a longtime employee of the company — has been appointed the new CEO. He will be taking on the new role on June 1. Until then, CFO Zane Rowe will continue in the role in the interim.

Raghuram has been with the company for 17 years in a variety of roles, most recently COO of products and cloud services. He’s also held positions at the company overseeing areas like datacenters and VMware’s server business. Putting a veteran in at the helm sends a clear message that VMware has picked someone clearly dedicated to the company and its culture. No drama here.

Indeed, the move is coming at a time when there is already a lot of other change underway and speaks to the company looking for stability and continuity to lead it through that. About a month ago, Dell confirmed long-anticipated news that it would be spinning out its stake in VMware in a deal that’s expected to bring Dell at least $9 billion — putting to an end a financial partnership that initially kicked off with an eye-watering acquisition of EMC in 2016. That partnership will not end the strategic relationship, however, which is set to continue and now Raghuram will be in charge of building and leading.

For that reason, you might look at this as a deal nodded through significantly by Dell.

“I am thrilled to have Raghu step into the role of CEO at VMware. Throughout his career, he has led with integrity and conviction, playing an instrumental role in the success of VMware,” said Michael Dell, chairman of the VMware Board of Directors, in a statement. “Raghu is now in position to architect VMware’s future, helping customers and partners accelerate their digital businesses in this multi-cloud world.”

Raghuram has not only been the person overseeing some of VMware’s biggest divisions and newer areas like software-defined networking and cloud computing, but he’s had a central role in building and driving strategy for the company’s core virtualization business, been involved with M&A and, as VMware points out, “key in driving partnerships with Dell Technologies,” among other partners.

“VMware is uniquely poised to lead the multi-cloud computing era with an end-to-end software platform spanning clouds, the data center and the edge, helping to accelerate our customers’ digital transformations,” said Raghuram in a statement. “I am honored, humbled and excited to have been chosen to lead this company to a new phase of growth. We have enormous opportunity, we have the right solutions, the right team, and we will continue to execute with focus, passion, and agility.”

The company also took the moment to update on guidance for its Q1 results, which will be coming out on May 27. Revenues are expected to come in at $2.994 billion, up 9.5% versus the same quarter a year ago. Subscription and SaaS and license revenue, meanwhile, is expected to be $1.387 billion, up 12.5%. GAAP net income per diluted share is expected to be $1.01 per diluted share, and non-GAAP net income per diluted share is expected to be $1.76 per diluted share, it said.

#dell, #enterprise, #personnel, #talent, #tc, #virtualization, #vmware

Severe vulnerabilities in Dell firmware update driver found and fixed

A computer screen filled with numbers is interrupted by a rudimentary image of a padlock.

Enlarge / At least three companies have reported the dbutil_2_3.sys security problems to Dell over the past two years. (credit: Blogtrepreneur / Flickr)

Yesterday, infosec research firm SentinelLabs revealed 12-year-old flaws in Dell’s firmware updater, DBUtil 2.3. The vulnerable firmware updater has been installed by default on hundreds of millions of Dell systems since 2009.

The five high-severity flaws SentinelLabs discovered and reported to Dell lurk in the dbutil_2_3.sys module, and they have been rounded up under a single CVE tracking number, CVE-2021-21551. There are two memory-corruption issues and two lack of input validation issues, all of which can lead to local privilege escalation and a code logic issue which could lead to a denial of service.

A hypothetical attacker abusing these vulnerabilities can escalate the privileges of another process or bypass security controls to write directly to system storage. This offers multiple routes to the ultimate goal of local kernel-level access—a step even higher than Administrator or “root” access—to the entire system.

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#biz-it, #dell, #firmware-update, #infosec, #patch, #tech, #update

Equity Monday: TechCrunch goes Yahoo while welding robots raise $56M

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

This morning was a notable one in the life of TechCrunch the publication, as our parent company’s parent company decided to sell our parent company to a different parent company. And now we’re to have to get new corporate IDs, again, as it appears that our new parent company’s parent company wants to rebrand our parent company. As Yahoo.

Cool.

Anyway, a bunch of other stuff happened as well:

We’re back Wednesday with something special. Chat then!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#apollo, #china, #cloud, #dell, #earnings, #equity-podcast, #flywire, #fundings-exits, #lyft, #path-robotics, #paypal, #square, #startups, #uber, #verizon, #wealthsimple, #yahoo

Dell dumps another big asset moving Boomi to Francisco Partners and TPG for $4B

It’s widely known that Dell has a debt problem left over from its massive acquisition of EMC in 2016, and it seems to be moving this year to eliminate part of it in multi-billion chunks. The first step was spinning out VMware as a separate company last month, a move expected to net close to $10 billion.

The second, long expected, finally dropped last night when the company announced it was selling Boomi to a couple of private equity firms for $4 billion. Francisco Partners is joining forces with TPG to make the deal to buy the integration platform.

Boomi is not unlike Mulesoft, a company that Salesforce purchased in 2018 for $6.5 billion, although a bit longer in tooth. They both help companies with integration problems by creating connections between disparate systems. With so many pieces in place from various acquisitions over the years, it seems like a highly useful asset for Dell to help pull these pieces together and make them work, but the cash is trumping that need.

Providing integration services is a growing requirement as companies look for ways to make better use of data locked in siloed systems. Boomi could help and that’s one of the primary reasons for the acquisition, according to Francisco executives.

“The ability to integrate and connect data and workflows across any combination of applications or domains is a critical business capability, and we strongly believe that Boomi is well positioned to help companies of all sizes turn data into their most valuable asset,” Francisco CEO Dipanjan Deb and partner Brian Decker said in a statement.

As you would expect, Boomi’s CEO Chris McNabb put a positive spin on the deal about how his new bosses were going to fuel growth for his company. “By partnering with two tier-one investment firms like Francisco Partners and TPG, we can accelerate our ability for our customers to use data to drive competitive advantage. In this next phase of growth, Boomi will be in a position of strength to further advance our innovation and market trajectory while delivering even more value to our customers,” McNabb said in a statement.

All of this may have some truth to it, but the company goes from being part of a large amorphous corporation to getting absorbed in the machinery of two private equity firms. What happens next is hard to say.

The company was founded in 2000, and sold to Dell in 2010. Today, it has 15,000 customer, but Dell’s debt has been well documented, and when you string together a couple of multi-billion deals as Dell has recently, pretty soon you’re talking real money. While the company has not stated it will explicitly use the proceeds of this deal to pay off debt as it did with the VMware announcement, it stands to reason that this will be the case.

The deal is expected to close later this year, although it will have to pass the typical regulatory scrutiny prior to that.

#boomi, #cloud, #dell, #enterprise, #francisco-partners, #integration, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #private-equity, #tc, #tpg

What the MasterClass effect means for edtech

MasterClass, which sells a subscription to celebrity-taught classes, sits on the cusp of entertainment and education. It offers virtual, yet aspirational learning: an online tennis class with Serena Williams, a cooking session with Gordon Ramsay. While there’s the off chance that an instructor might actually talk to you — it has happened before — the platform mostly just offers paywalled documentary-style content.

The vision has received attention. MasterClass is raising funding that would value it at $2.5 billion, as scooped by Axios and confirmed independently by a source to TechCrunch. But while MasterClass has found a sweet spot, can the success be replicated?

Investors certainly think so. Outlier, founded by MasterClass’ co-founder, closed a $30 million Series C this week, for affordable, digital college courses. The similarities between Outlier and its founder’s alma mater aren’t subtle: It’s literally trying to apply MasterClass’ high-quality videography to college classes. This comes a week after I wrote about a “MasterClass for Chess lovers” platform launched by former Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov.

Two back-to-back MasterClass copycats raising millions in venture capital makes me think about if the model can truly be verticalized and focused down into specific niches. After 2020 and the rise of Zoom University, we know edtech needs to be more engaging, but we don’t know the exact way to get there. Is it by creating micro-learning communities around shared loves? Is it about gamification? Aspirational learning has different incentives than for-credit learning. In order to be successful, Outlier needs to prove to universities it can use MasterClass magic for true outcomes that rival in-person lectures. It’s a harder, and more ambtious promise.

My riff aside, I turned to two edtech founders to understand how they see the MasterClass effect panning out, and to cross-check my gut reaction.

Taylor Nieman, the founder of language learning startup Toucan:

Although I do love how these models try to lean into this theme of “invisible learning” like we leverage with Toucan, it faces the same issues as so many other consumer products that try to steal time out of people’s very busy days. Constantly competing for time leads to terrible engagement metrics and very high churn. That leads me to question what true learning outcomes could occur from little to no usage of the product itself.

Amanda DoAmaral, the founder of Fiveable, a learning platform for high school students:

Masterclass is important for showing us why educational content should be treated more like entertainment. All of our bars for content quality is much higher now than it ever was before and I’m excited to see how that affects learning across the board.

For students, it’s about creating environments that support them holistically and giving them space to collaborate openly. It feels so obvious that these spaces should exist for young people, but we’ve lost sight of what students actually need. At my school, we built policies that assumed the worst in students. I want to flip that. Assume the best, be proactive to keep them safe, and create ways to react when we need to.

Anyways, that’s just some nuance to chew on during this fine day. In the rest of this newsletter, we will focus a lot on tactical advice for founders, from the money they raise to the peacock dance they might want to do one day. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @nmasc_ so we can talk during the week, too!

The peacock dance

You know when male peacocks fan their feathers to court a lover? That, but for startups trying to get acquired. As one of our many rabbit holes on Equity this week, we talk about Discord walking away from a Microsoft deal, and if that deal ever existed in the first place or if it was just a way to drum up investor excitement in the audio gaming platform.

Here’s what to know: Discord is reportedly pursuing an IPO after walking away from talks with multiple companies that were looking to acquire the audio gaming giant.

Discord aside, the consolidation environment continues to be hot for some sectors.

Four business people used ropes to tighten their money bags, economic austerity, reduced income, economic crisis

Image Credits: VectorInspiration / Getty Images

Even venture capital knows that the future isn’t simply venture capital

Clearbanc, a Toronto-based fintech startup that gives non-dilutive financing to businesses, has rebranded alongside a $100 million financing that valued it at $2 billion. Now rebranded as Clearco, the startup wants to be more than just a capital provider, but a services provider, too.

Here’s what to know: The startup has been on a tear of product development for the past year, launching services such as valuation calculators or runway tools. It’s a step away from what Clearbanc originally flexed: the 20-minute term sheet and rapid-fire investment. I talk about some of the levers at play in my piece:

Many of Clearco’s newest products are still in their infancy, but the potential success of the startup could nearly be tied to the general growth of startups looking for alternatives to venture capital when financing their startups. Similar to how AngelList’s growth is neatly tied to the growth of emerging fund managers, Clearco’s growth is cleanly related to the growth of founders who see financing as beyond a seed check from Y Combinator.

abstract human brain made out of dollar bills isolated on white background

Abstract human brain made out of dollar bills isolated on white background. Image Credits: Iaremenko / Getty Images

Don’t market your opportunity away

Keeping on the theme of tactical advice for founders, let’s move onto talking about marketing. Tim Parkin, president of Parkin Consulting, explained how startup founders can use marketing as a tool to stand out in the noisy environment. Differentiation has never been harder, but also more imperative.

Here’s what to know: Parkin outlines four ways that martech will shift in 2021, strapped with anecdotes and a nod to the importance of investing in influencers.

Red ball on curved light blue paper, blue background. Image Credits: PM Images / Getty Images

Around TechCrunch

Your humble yet favorite startup podcast, Equity, got nominated for a Webby! Me and the team need your help to win, so please vote for us here. Your support means a ton.

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Across the site

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Seen on Extra Crunch

Dear Sophie: How can I get my startup off the ground and visit the US?

How to pivot your startup, save cash and maintain trust with investors and customers

How startups can ensure CCPA and GDPR compliance in 2021

As UiPath closes above its final private valuation, CFO Ashim Gupta discusses his company’s path to market

European VC soars in Q1

zoom glitch

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Thanks for reading along today and everyday. Sending love to my readers in India and everyone around the world that is facing yet another deadly surge of this horrible disease. I’m rooting for you.

N

#chess, #clearbanc, #clearco, #dell, #discord, #edtech, #education, #entertainment, #funding, #fundraising, #garry-kasparov, #masterclass, #microsoft, #outlier, #startups, #startups-weekly, #tc, #unicorn

Once VMware is free from Dell, who might fancy buying it?

TechCrunch has spilled much digital ink tracking the fate of VMware since it was brought to Dell’s orbit thanks to the latter company’s epic purchase of EMC in 2016 for $58 billion. That transaction saddled the well-known Texas tech company with heavy debts. Because the deal left VMware a public company, albeit one controlled by Dell, how it might be used to pay down some of its parent company’s arrears was a constant question.

Dell made its move earlier this week, agreeing to spin out VMware in exchange for a huge one-time dividend, a five-year commercial partnership agreement, lots of stock for existing Dell shareholders and Michael Dell retaining his role as chairman of its board.

So, where does the deal leave VMware in terms of independence, and in terms of Dell influence? Dell no longer will hold formal control over VMware as part of the deal, though its shareholders will retain a large stake in the virtualization giant. And with Michael Dell staying on VMware’s board, it will retain influence.

Here’s how VMware described it to shareholders in a presentation this week. The graphic shows that under the new agreement, VMware is no longer a subsidiary of Dell and will now be an independent company.

Chart showing before and after structure of Dell spinning out VMware. In the after scenario, VMware is an independent company.

Image Credits: VMware

But with VMware tipped to become independent once again, it could become something of a takeover target. When Dell controlled VMware thanks to majority ownership, a hostile takeover felt out of the question. Now, VMware is a more possible target to the right company with the right offer — provided that the Dell spinout works as planned.

Buying VMware would be an expensive effort, however. It’s worth around $67 billion today. Presuming a large premium would be needed to take this particular technology chess piece off the competitive board, it could cost $100 billion or more to snag VMware from the public markets.

So VMware will soon be more free to pursue a transaction that might be favorable to its shareholders — which will still include every Dell shareholder, because they are receiving stock in VMware as part of its spinout — without worrying about its parent company simply saying no.

#cloud, #dell, #dell-vmware-spinout, #ec-cloud-and-enterprise-infrastructure, #ec-news-analysis, #enterprise, #finance, #tc, #vmware

Extra Crunch roundup: UiPath’s IPO filing, predicting revenue, how to pivot properly, much more

This is not a boast, but a warning: I could write a how-to article on almost any topic.

Give me enough time to do some research, and I can put together a reliable step-by-step for building a custom gaming PC, installing a hot water heater or interpreting public health data. But since I’ve never actually done those things, I would encourage you to ignore any advice I have to offer.

Trusted advice comes from experience. That’s why Ron Miller interviewed three entrepreneurs who have each built multiple companies to uncover some essential truths about achieving product-market fit:

  • Pouyan Salehi, CEO and co-founder, Scratchpad
  • Rami Essaid, CEO and founder,  Finmark
  • Melonee Wise, CEO and co-founder, Fetch Robotics

The basic tenets presented in Ron’s story will resonate with anyone who’s launched a startup.

Alex Wilhelm was particularly prolific this morning: For The Exchange, he studied UiPath’s 2020 quarterly results to get a clearer picture of its first S-1/A filing. Is the “somewhat slack news regarding UiPath’s potential IPO valuation” a harbinger of things to come?


Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members.
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription.


In a follow-up, he recapped news from the public debuts of Coinbase, UiPath, Zenvia, AppLovin and Grab, all of which “adds up to a somewhat muddled picture of the current IPO market.” It feels like we’re in a turbulent window, but it’s also possible that we’re in the calm after the storm, he suggests.

Final note: I asked TechCrunch graphic designer/illustrator Bryce Durbin to create an image to accompany this primer on raising a Series A round. He didn’t just exceed my expectations — it’s my favorite TechCrunch illustration ever. Thanks, Bryce!

I hope you got something out of reading Extra Crunch this week. Have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

 

Building the right team for a billion-dollar startup

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

From building out Facebook’s first office in Austin to putting together most of Quora’s team, Bain Capital Ventures managing director Sarah Smith has done a bit of everything when it comes to hiring.

At TechCrunch Early Stage, she spoke about how to ensure the critical early hires are the right ones to grow a business. As an investor, Smith has a broad view into the problems companies face as they search for the right candidates to spur organizational success.

She touched on a number of issues, such as who to hire and when, when to fire and how to ensure diversity from the earliest days.

So you want to raise a Series A

"So you want to raise a Series A" pamphlet in the style of "The Simpsons"

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

During a seed-funding round, a founder needs to convince a venture capital investor on a vision. But during a Series A fundraise, napkin-stage ideas don’t make the cut — a founder needs product progress, numbers and revenue (or at least a plan to eventually generate some).

In many ways, the stakes are higher for a Series A — and Bucky Moore, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, joined TechCrunch Early Stage last week to give founders tactical advice on the process of raising one.

Moore spoke about storytelling over semantics, pricing and where his firm sees itself “raising the bar” for startups.

With the right tools, predicting startup revenue is possible

For a long time, “revenue” seemed to be a taboo word in the startup world. Fortunately, things have changed with the rise of SaaS and alternative funding sources such as revenue-based investing VCs.

Still, revenue modeling remains a challenge for founders. How do you predict earnings when you’re still figuring it out?

How we dodged risks and raised millions for our open-source machine learning startup

Image Credits: erhui1979 / Getty Images

If you have a great idea within the open-core framework, expect your risks to be much lower than with a traditional business structure.

Clearly communicate this fact to venture capitalists for the best chance at securing the seed funding your organization needs.

But it takes more: Boasting a strong community around an emerging open-source product essentially serves as an “introduction letter” to venture capitalists. It highlights the founders’ ability to successfully execute their vision, as well as the mission to bring their product to a commercial reality.

Additionally, the iterative nature of open-source projects leads to fostering a sense of teamwork between the founders, their team and investors and stakeholders.

Founder and investor Melissa Bradley outlines how to nail your virtual pitch meeting

Image Credits: Ureeka

Melissa Bradley is the co-founder of a startup called Ureeka, an investor at 1863 Ventures and a professor at Georgetown’s business school. So it’s not an understatement to say that she understands the fundraising process from every angle.

She both invested and fundraised for her own startup during this last year, where the landscape has shifted drastically. At TechCrunch Early Stage, she led a session on how to nail your virtual pitch meeting.

Bradley covered how to allocate your time during the meeting, how to prepare, how to close out the meetings with a clear list of action items and what to avoid.

Scale CEO Alex Wang and Accel’s Dan Levine explain why sometimes unconventional VC deals are best

Image Credits: Eric Millette / Scale AI

Scale CEO and co-founder Alex Wang credits its success since founding — which includes raising over $277 million and achieving breakeven status in terms of revenue — to early support from investors, including Accel’s Dan Levine.

Accel haș participated in four of Scale’s financing rounds, and Levine wrote one of the company’s very first checks. So on this past week’s episode of Extra Crunch Live, we spoke with Levine and Wang about how that first deal came together, and what their working relationship has been like in the years since.

 

Ride-hailing’s profitability promise is in its final countdown

Let’s parse Uber’s latest, vet its profit promise, consider its rivals and their performance, then ask ourselves if the great ride-hailing and food-delivery booms will ever make back the money they cost to scale.

 

UiPath’s first IPO pricing could be a warning to late-stage investors

Co-founder and CEO of UiPath Daniel Dines

Image Credits: Noam Galai/Getty Images

For UiPath, its initial IPO price interval is a disappointment, though the company could see an upward revision in its valuation before it does sell shares and begins to trade.

But more to the point, the company’s private-market valuation bump followed by a quick public-market correction stands out as a counter-example to something that we’ve seen so frequently in recent months.

Is UiPath’s first IPO price interval another indicator that the IPO market is cooling?

 

How to choose and deploy industry-specific AI models

Image of flow chart on a blackboard.

Image Credits: alexsl / Getty Images

As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, previously cutting-edge — but generic — AI models are becoming commonplace, such as Google Cloud’s Vision AI or Amazon Rekognition.

While effective in some use cases, these solutions do not suit industry-specific needs right out of the box. Organizations that seek the most accurate results from their AI projects will simply have to turn to industry-specific models.

Any team looking to expand its AI capabilities should first apply its data and use cases to a generic model and assess the results.

Let’s dive into each of these approaches and how businesses can decide which one works for their distinct circumstances.

Atomico’s talent partners share 6 tips for early-stage people ops success

Photo of Talent Partners Caro Chayot and Dan Hynes

Image Credits: Atomico

In the earliest stages of building a startup, it can be hard to justify focusing on anything other than creating a great product or service and meeting the needs of customers or users.

However, there are still a number of surefire measures that any early-stage company can and should put in place to achieve “people ops” success as they begin scaling, according to venture capital firm Atomico‘s talent partners, Caro Chayot and Dan Hynes.

Long story short: You need to recruit for what you need, but you also need to think about what is coming down the line.

5 questions about Grab’s epic SPAC investor deck

grab 1

Image Credits: Roslan Rahman/Getty Images

Southeast Asian superapp Grab is going public via a SPAC.

Grab, which provides ride-hailing, payments and food delivery, will trade under the ticker symbol “GRAB” on the Nasdaq exchange when the combination is complete.

Let’s walk through several key points from Grab’s SPAC investor deck, including growth, segment profitability, aggregate costs and COVID-19, among other factors.

Expect an even hotter AI venture capital market in the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal

Microsoft’s huge purchase of health tech AI company Nuance led the technology news cycle this week. The $19.7 billion transaction is Microsoft’s second-largest to date, only beaten by its purchase of LinkedIn some years ago.

For the AI space, the sale is a coup. Nuance was already a public company, but to see Microsoft offer a firm premium over its public-market value demonstrates the value that AI technology can have to wealthy companies. For startups working in the AI space, the Nuance deal is good news; the value of AI revenue was repriced by the acquisition’s announcement — and for the better.

In light of the megadeal, The Exchange dug into the AI venture capital market. What’s happening on the startup side of the coin in the artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) space?

What’s fueling hydrogen tech?

market-maps-hydrogen-fuel-cell

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

When the word “hydrogen” is uttered today, the average non-insider’s mind likely gravitates toward transportation — cars, buses, maybe trains or 18-wheelers, all powered by the gas.

But hydrogen is, and does, a lot of things, and a better understanding of its other roles — and challenges within those roles — is necessary to its success in transportation.

Hydrogen is now capturing the attention of governments and private sector players, fueled by new tech, global green energy legislation and post-pandemic “green recovery” schemes.

5 product lessons to learn before you write a line of code

Rearview shot of a young businesswoman having a brainstorming session in a modern office

Image Credits: LaylaBird / Getty Images

Before a startup can achieve product-market fit, founders must first listen to their customers, build what they require and fashion a business plan that makes the whole enterprise worthwhile.

The numbers will tell the true story, but when it happens, you’ll feel it in your bones because sales will be good, customers will be happy and revenue will be growing.

Reaching that tipping point can be a slog, especially for first-time founders. To uncover some basic truths about building products, we spoke to three entrepreneurs who have each built more than one company.

Inside the US’ epic first-quarter venture capital results

In broad strokes, the United States had a crushing venture capital start to the new year, pandemic be damned.

That is especially true when we consider 2020’s full-year figures. Last year, venture capitalists deployed some $166 billion into U.S.-based startups across 12,546 rounds. In contrast, if the first quarter’s pace was maintained during the rest of 2021, the United States would see around 16,000 rounds worth around $280 billion.

Of course, we cannot see the future, so those projections are merely shared to underscore how active the first quarter proved to be.

Dear Sophie: How can I get an H-1B without the lottery?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie:

For the past few years, our company has put very promising candidates into the annual H-1B lottery. None of them have been selected — and none of them meet the requirements for other work visas like an O-1A.

We lost out again in this year’s H-1B lottery. Are there any other ways we can obtain H-1Bs for our team members?

— Soldiering on in Sunnyvale

 

Alexa von Tobel outlines how founders should manage personal finances

Alexa von Tobel

Image Credits: Alexa von Tobel

Few people are more knowledgeable on the topic of how founders should manage their finances than Alexa von Tobel.

She is a certified financial planner, started her own company in the midst of the recession (which happened to be a wildly successful personal finance startup that sold for hundreds of millions of dollars) and is now a VC who invests and advises founders.

At Early Stage 2021, she gave a presentation on how founders should think about managing their own wealth. Startup founders can often put all their money into their venture and end up paying more attention to the finances of their company than their own bank account.

Von Tobel outlined the various steps you can take to stay out of debt, build credit and accumulate wealth through investments to ensure you have financial peace of mind as you take on the most stressful venture of your life: Starting a company.

How to pivot your startup, save cash and maintain trust with investors and customers

Olive CEO Sean Lane

Image Credits: Olive

A few years ago, founder Sean Lane thought he’d achieved product-market fit.

Speaking to attendees at TechCrunch’s Early Stage virtual event, Lane said Queue, a secure digital check-in tablet for hospital waiting rooms that reduced wait times by uniting and correcting electronic medical records, was “selling like hotcakes.” But once Lane realized it would only ever address one piece of a much bigger market opportunity, he sold off the product, laid off two-thirds of the people affiliated with it and redirected the employees who were left.

Lane explained that what he really wanted to build is what his company — since renamed Olive — has now become, a robotic process automation (RPA) company that takes on hospital workers’ most tedious tasks so nurses and physicians can spend more time with patients.

Building customer-first relationships in a privacy-first world is critical

Concept of knowledge, data and protection. Paper human head with pad lock.

Image Credits: jayk7 (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In business today, many believe that consumer privacy and business results are mutually exclusive — to excel in one area is to lack in the other. Consumer privacy is seen by many in the technology industry as an area to be managed.

But the truth is that the companies that champion privacy will be better-positioned to win in all areas. This is especially true as the digital industry continues to undergo tectonic shifts in privacy — both in government regulation and browser updates.

For startups choosing a platform, a decision looms: Build or buy?

Blank green arrow signs pointing in both directions on top of a metal post.

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Founders shouldn’t be worried about starting companies that rely on other platforms.

Platforms exist to help startups get to users and customers faster and should be used as a means to an end, but everyone must get their piece.

Coinbase’s direct listing alters the landscape for fintech and crypto startups

Coinbase’s direct listing was a massive finance, startup and cryptocurrency event, and the transaction’s effects will be felt for some time in the public market, but also among the startups and capital that comprise the private market.

In the buildup to Coinbase’s flotation — and we’d argue especially after it released its blockbuster Q1 2021 results — there was a general expectation that the unicorn’s direct listing would provide a halo effect for other startups in the space.

The widely held perspective raised two questions: Will the success of Coinbase’s direct listing bolster private investment in crypto-focused startups, and will that success help other areas of financially focused startup work garner more investor attention?

Billion-dollar B2B: Cloud-first enterprise tech behemoths have massive potential

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The “billion-dollar B2B” paradigm refers to the forces shaping a new class of cloud-first, enterprise-tech behemoths with the potential to reach $1 billion in ARR — and achieve market capitalizations in excess of $50 billion or even $100 billion.

One of the biggest factors driving billion-dollar B2Bs is a simple but important shift in how organizations buy enterprise technology today.

How startups can ensure CCPA and GDPR compliance in 2021

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Data is the most valuable asset for any business in 2021. If your business is online and collecting customer personal information, your business is dealing in data, which means data privacy compliance regulations will apply to everyone — no matter the company’s size.

Small startups might not think the world’s strictest data privacy laws — the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — apply to them, but it’s important to enact best data management practices before a legal situation arises.

Should Dell have pursued a more aggressive debt-reduction move with VMware?

Michael Dell, founder and chief executive officer of Dell Inc., speaks during the 2015 Dell World Conference in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Dell said trimming debt for the massive deal to combine his namesake company with EMC Corp. should progress relatively quickly in the next couple of years. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Image Credits: Bloomberg / Getty Images

When Dell announced it was spinning out VMware, the move itself wasn’t surprising; there had been public speculation for some time.

But Dell could have gone a number of ways in this deal, despite its choice to spin VMware out as a separate company with a constituent dividend instead of an outright sale.

It seems Dell hopes to have its cake and eat it too with this deal: It generates a large slug of cash to use for personal debt relief while securing a five-year commercial deal that should keep the two companies closely aligned.

What we all missed in UiPath’s latest IPO filing

Robotic process automation platform UiPath filed its first S-1/A this week, setting an initial price range for its shares. The numbers were impressive, if slightly disappointing because what UiPath indicated in terms of its potential IPO value was a lower valuation than it earned during its final private fundraising.

Here at The Exchange, we wondered if the somewhat slack news regarding UiPath’s potential IPO valuation was a warning to late-stage investors.

But in good news for UiPath shareholders, most everyone — ourselves included! — who discussed the company’s price range didn’t dig into the fact that the company first disclosed quarterly results to the same S-1/A filing that included its IPO valuation interval. And those numbers are very interesting, so much so that The Exchange is now generally expecting UiPath to target a higher price interval before it debuts.

But let’s dig into the company’s quarterly results to get a clearer picture of UiPath.

The IPO market is sending us mixed messages

If you only stayed up to date with the Coinbase direct listing this week, you’re forgiven. It was, after all, one heck of a flotation.

But underneath the cryptocurrency exchange’s public debut, other IPO news that matters did happen this week. And the news adds up to a somewhat muddled picture of the current IPO market.

To cap off the week, let’s run through IPO news from UiPath, Coinbase, Grab, AppLovin and Zenvia. The aggregate dataset should help you form your own perspective about where today’s IPO markets really are in terms of warmth for the often unprofitable unicorns of the world.

#applovin, #dell, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #fintech, #s-1, #startups, #tc, #uipath, #venture-capital

Should Dell have pursued a more aggressive debt-reduction move with VMware?

When Dell announced it was spinning out VMware yesterday, the move itself wasn’t surprising: there had been public speculation for some time. But Dell could have gone a number of ways in this deal, despite its choice to spin VMware out as a separate company with a constituent dividend instead of an outright sale.

The dividend route, which involves a payment to shareholders between $11.5 and $12 billion, has the advantage of being tax-free (or at least that’s what Dell hopes as it petitions the IRS). For Dell, which owns 81% of VMware, the dividend translates to somewhere between $9.3 and $9.7 billion in cash, which the company plans to use to pay down a portion of the huge debt it still holds from its $58 billion EMC purchase in 2016.

VMware was the crown jewel in that transaction, giving Dell an inroad to the cloud it had lacked prior to the deal. For context, VMware popularized the notion of the virtual machine, a concept that led to the development of cloud computing as we know it today. It has since expanded much more broadly beyond that, giving Dell a solid foothold in cloud native computing.

Dell hopes to have its cake and eat it too with this deal: it generates a large slug of cash to use for personal debt relief while securing a five-year commercial deal that should keep the two companies closely aligned. Dell CEO Michael Dell will remain chairman of the VMware board, which should help smooth the post-spinout relationship.

But could Dell have extracted more cash out of the deal?

Doing what’s best for everyone

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategies, says that beyond the cash transaction, the deal provides a way for the companies to continue working closely together with the least amount of disruption.

“In the end, this move is more about maximizing the Dell and VMware stock price [in a way that] doesn’t impact customers, ISVs or the channel. Wall Street wasn’t valuing the two companies together nearly as [strongly] as I believe it will as separate entities,” Moorhead said.

#cloud, #dell, #ec-cloud-and-enterprise-infrastructure, #ec-news-analysis, #enterprise, #finance, #tc, #vmware

Dell is spinning out VMware in a deal expected to generate over $9B for the company

Dell announced this afternoon that it’s spinning out VMware, a move that has been suspected for some time. Dell, acquired VMware as part of the massive $58 billion EMC acquisition (announced as $67 billion) in 2015.

The way that the deal work is that Dell plans to offer VMware shareholders a special dividend of between $11.5 and 12 billion. As Dell owns approximately 81% of those shares that would work out to somewhere between $9.3 and $9.7 billion coming into Dell’s coffers when the deal closes later this year.

Even when it was part of EMC, VMware had a special status in that it operates as a separate entity with its own executive team, board of directors and the stock has been sold separately as well.

“Both companies will remain important partners, providing Dell Technologies with a differentiated advantage in how we bring solutions to customers. At the same time, Dell Technologies will continue to modernize its core infrastructure and PC businesses and embrace new opportunities through an open ecosystem to grow in hybrid and private cloud, edge and telecom,” Dell CEO Michael Dell said in a statement.]

While there is a lot of CEO speak in that statement, it appears to mean that the move is mostly administrative as the companies will continue to work closely together, even after the spin off is official. Dell will remain as chairman of both companies. What’s more, the company plans to use the cash proceeds from the deal to help pay down the massive debt it still has left over from the EMC deal.

The deal is expected to close at the end of this year, but it has to clear a number of regulatory hurdles first. That includes garnering a favorable ruling from the IRS that the deal qualifies for a tax-free spin-off, which is seems to be a considerable hurdle for a deal like this.

This is a breaking story. We will have more soon.

#cloud, #dell, #enterprise, #finance, #tc, #vmware

Dell refreshes its entire Inspiron lineup with Intel Tiger Lake CPUs

The back panel on this 2021 Inspiron 16 Plus is pretty minimal.

Enlarge / The back panel on this 2021 Inspiron 16 Plus is pretty minimal. (credit: Dell)

This week, Dell is launching its 2021 Inspiron laptop line. The new lineup features refreshed models with Tiger Lake CPUs for Inspiron 13, 14, 14 2-in-1, and 15 laptops—and a brand-new Inspiron 16 Plus.

If you’re not familiar with Dell branding, Inspiron is its budget laptop lineup—but in this context, “budget” means solid laptop designs targeted to price-sensitive customers, but not bottom-of-the-barrel cheap stuff. You’ll find the same Intel i3, i5, and i7 CPUs in these Inspiron models as you’d find in more expensive Dell Latitudes, HP Probooks, and so forth.

2021 Inspiron 13

In most of the world, the Inspiron 13 is available in one color—”Platinum Silver with tonal blocking.” Chinese customers get a Peach Dust option (also with tonal blocking) as well. The Inspiron features a 13.3″ display in 1920×1200 or 2560×1600 16:10 resolution, and it comes with a choice of Intel i3-1125G4, i5-11300H, or 17-11370H CPU, and (on the i5 and i7 models) an optional Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. Weight starts at 1.25kg (2.75lb)—we’re not shown a full range of weights, but we don’t see any options that should plump things up much, either.

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#budget-laptops, #dell, #inspiron, #laptop, #tech

Dell Alienware launches its first AMD-powered gaming laptop since 2007

This time last year, we covered one of the first Ryzen 9 gaming laptops—Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14. A year later, Dell is joining the Ryzen-powered gaming laptop party with its new Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition.

Last year, the Achilles heel of Ryzen-powered gaming laptops was mediocre GPU selection—for whatever reason, most manufacturers didn’t spec RTX 3000-series GPUs along with Ryzen processors. That’s thankfully no longer the case in 2021—the new Alienware m15 pairs Ryzen 7 5800H or Ryzen 9 4900HX with up to 32GiB RAM and a choice of RTX 3060 or RTX 3070 graphics. (Asus is also offering high-end GPUs this year—we’re in the process of hands-on testing a ROG Zephyrus G15 with Ryzen 9 5900HS and RTX 3070 this week.)

You can get a quick peek at the Alienware m15 in this short hype video.

The new m15 offers three display choices—1080 p at 165 Hz or 360 Hz, or 1440 p at 240 Hz—and an optional keyboard upgrade to Cherry MX. There’s a standard 2.5Gbps wired Ethernet adapter to go with the Killer AX1650 Wi-Fi 6—and unlike the ROG Zephyrus gaming laptops, the Alienware m15 has an integrated 720 p webcam.

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#alienware, #amd-ryzen-5000, #dell, #gaming-laptop, #nvidia, #nvidia-rtx, #ryzen-5000, #ryzen-mobile, #tech

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.”