Ankorstore raises $29.9 million for its wholesale marketplace

French startup Ankorstore has raised a $29.9 million Series A round (€25 million) with Index Ventures leading the round. Existing investors GFC, Alven and Aglaé are also participating.

Ankorstore is building a wholesale marketplace that connects independent shop owners with brands selling household supplies, maple syrup, headbands, bath salts, stationery items and a lot more. That list alone should remind you of neighborhood stores that sell a ton of cutesy stuff that you don’t necessarily need but that tend to be popular.

The company works with 2,000 brands and 15,000 shops. And the startup isn’t just connecting buyers and sellers as it has a clear set of rules. For instance, the minimum first order is €100, which means that you can try out new products without ordering hundreds of items at once.

By default, Ankorstore withdraws the money 60 days after placing an order. Brands get paid upon delivery. And of course, buying from several brands through Ankorstore should simplify your admin tasks.

Ankorstore is currently live in eight countries — France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Luxembourg. France is the biggest market followed by Germany. Up next, the startup plans to launch in the U.K. in 2021.

In many ways, Ankorstore reminds me of Faire, the wholesale marketplace that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the U.S.

“There are a number of different retail marketplaces connecting retailers with makers and brands. Where we believe we differ is in our clear focus on the independent shop owner, offering the tools and the terms that make it really easy and cost-effective to discover and access some of the most desirable up-and-coming brands,” Ankorstore co-founder Pierre-Louis Lacoste said.

Given that the startup is working with small suppliers, chances are they’re only selling their products in Europe. So there should be enough room for a European leader in that space that I would describe as wholesale Etsy-style marketplaces with a strong focus on curation.

Image Credits: Ankorstore

#ankorstore, #ecommerce, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups

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Dozens of tech companies sign ‘Tech for Good Call’ following French initiative

A couple of years ago, French President Emmanuel Macron initiated the Tech for Good Summit by inviting 50 tech CEOs to discuss the challenges in the tech industry and make some announcements.

Usually, tech CEOs meet ahead of Viva Technology, a tech event in Paris. This year, Viva Technology had to be canceled, which means that tech CEOs couldn’t get together, take a group photo and say that they want to make the world a better place.

In the meantime, dozens of tech CEOs have chosen to sign a common pledge. Despite the positive impact of some technological breakthroughs, they collectively recognize that everything is not perfect with the tech industry.

“Recognizing that such progress may be hindered by negative externalities, including unfair competition such as abuse of dominant or systemic position, and fragmentation of the internet; that, without appropriate safeguards, technology can also be used to threaten fundamental freedoms and human rights or weaken democracy; that, unless we implement appropriate measures to combat it, some individuals and organizations inevitably use it for criminal purposes, including in the context of conflicts,” the pledge says.

Among other things, companies that sign the pledge agree to cooperate when it comes to fighting toxic content, such as child sexual abuse material and terrorist content. They promise to “responsibly address hate speech, disinformation and opinion manipulation.”

Interestingly, they also agree that they should “contribute fairly to the taxes in countries where [they] operate.” This has been an ongoing issue between the French government and the U.S. government. The OECD and the European Union have also discussed implementing a tax on tech giants so that they report to tax authorities in each country where they operate.

Other commitments mention privacy, social inclusiveness, diversity and equity, fighting all sorts of discriminations and more. As the name suggests, the pledge revolves around using technology for good things.

Now let’s talk about who signed the pledge. There are some well-known names, such as Sundar Pichai from Alphabet (Google), Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Brad Smith from Microsoft, Evan Spiegel from Snap and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square. Other companies include Cisco, Deliveroo, Doctolib, IBM, OpenClassrooms, Uber, etc.

Some nonprofit organizations also signed the pledge, such as the Mozilla Foundation, Simplon, Tech for Good France, etc.

But it’s more interesting to see who’s not on the list. Amazon and Apple have chosen not to sign the pledge. There have been discussions with Apple but the company eventually chose not to participate.

“Amazon didn’t want to sign it and I invite you to ask them directly,” a source close to the French president said. The French government is clearly finger-pointing in Amazon’s case.

This is an odd move as it’s a non-binding pledge. You can say that you want to “contribute fairly to taxes” and then argue that you’re paying everything that you owe — tax optimization is not tax evasion, after all. Worse, you can say that you’re building products with “privacy by design” in mind while you’re actually building entire companies based on personalized ads and micro-targeting.

In other words, the Tech for Good summit was created for photo opportunities (like this photo from 2018 below). Tech CEOs want to be treated like heads of state, while Macron wants to position himself as a tech-savvy president. It’s a win-win for them, and a waste of time for everyone else.

Some nonprofit organizations and governance groups are actually working hard to build digital commons. But big tech companies are using the same lexicon with these greenwashing-style campaigns.

In 2018, hundreds of organizations signed the Paris Call. In 2019, the biggest social media companies signed the Christchurch Call. And now, we have the Tech for Good Call. Those calls can’t replace proper regulation.

Image Credits: Charles Platiau / AFP / Getty Images

#emmanuel-macron, #europe, #france-newsletter, #policy, #startups, #tech-for-good, #tech-for-good-call, #tech-for-good-summit

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Yubo could be the next big social app as it raises $47.5 million

French startup Yubo is the biggest social media app you’ve never heard of — unless you’re a teen. With a focus on young people under 25, the company has managed to attract 40 million users. A fraction of them hang out every day in live-streaming rooms, meet new people and spend money for more features.

That’s right, the company isn’t betting on ads. You can pay to unlock items or subscribe to the app. Yubo expects to generate $20 million in revenue this year — that’s twice as much revenue than it generated in 2019.

Yubo recently closed a Series C funding round of $47.5 million. Existing investors Idinvest Partners, Iris Capital, Alven and Sweet Capital are investing once again. Gaia Capital Partners is joining the round as a new investor. Jerry Murdock from Insight Partners isn’t investing in the company but he’s joining the company’s board.

So what is Yubo exactly? It’s a social media app that wants to reverse the current trend of social networks — you can’t follow other users, you can’t like content.

As we’ve seen many, many times in the past, once you introduce a following feature, the ability to like and algorithmic recommendations, your social network becomes a virtual stage. A tiny portion of your user base performs on that stage, the vast majority consumes content. Influencers emerge and monopolize your attention. We’ve seen that trend with Vine, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and even LinkedIn.

Yubo isn’t looking for performers. The company wants to help you meet other people, play games, hang out and create new friendships. In many ways, it feels like a way to hang out with teens that don’t attend your high school.

Image Credits: Yubo

When you open the app, you get a list of rooms that you can join. Users can live stream from their phone and chat with other users. You join rooms depending on what you’re looking for — local people, people talking about politics, people playing games, etc.

Once again, the idea isn’t to create giant room with a handful of performers and tens of thousands of viewers. There’s no tipping mechanism so it’s not like Twitch.

“In 95% of rooms, there are only streamers. Rooms have between 5 and 10 people on average,” co-founder and CEO Sacha Lazimi told me.

You can add people as friends and chat with them in the app. In addition to rooms, you can find new friends by swiping left and right on profile pages — an interaction borrowed from Tinder.

“We had 25 million registered users in December. Today, we have more than 40 million users,” Lazimi said. Most users are based in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and France.

And engagement has been going up as well. The number of hours spent in live rooms is up 400% year-over-year.

With in-app purchases and subscriptions, you get additional features. For instance, you can boost your live stream, promote your profile on the Swipe page or feature your profile at the top of the online section. It’s a way to get more people in your room, receive messages from more users and have more interactions in general.

“We think it’s the future of monetization for social platforms. If you focus on ads, you’re competing with Facebook, TikTok and Snap,” Lazimi said.

With such a young audience, moderation is extremely important. The company has been investing heavily on real-time moderation processes and it tries to enforce strict rules. When you sign up, Yubo checks your identity to put you in the right age group.

“We analyze all content both semantically and visually,” Lazimi said. The company is currently working on alert popups to tell users that they’re doing something inappropriate while it’s happening.

Yubo has in-house safety experts and also works with contractors — it can connect its users with local helplines as well. One-third of the company’s investments are focused on safety. It currently covers 36 languages.

With today’s funding round, Yubo will expand its team. There are currently 30 employees in Paris, London and Jacksonville, which is small when you think about the reach of the app. Yubo will open an office in New York.

On the product front, Yubo is working on recommendation algorithms. The company is also going to build a YouTube integration to consume YouTube content from a room directly. Yubo is also partnering with Snap to integrate Camera Kit. This way, Yubo will be able to build is own AR lenses for its users.

#apps, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #mobile, #social, #yubo

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Scaleway launches cloud instances that cost $2.10 per month

French cloud hosting company Scaleway originally started with very cheap cloud instances. Over the years, the company has expanded its offering and added more premium services, such as managed Kubernetes, object storage, block storage, managed databases, load balancers and GPU instances. But Scaleway is now launching another cheap cloud instance that costs €0.0025 per hour — around $0.0039 per hour.

Obviously, you’re not getting incredible performance for that price. But it’s a good way to try out new things and build an application just for you. If you’re the only user, those specifications might be enough.

Called Stardust, the virtual compute instance comes with 1 vCPU, 1GB of RAM, an IP address (IPv4), 10GB of local storage and up to 100Mbps of bandwidth. There’s no restriction on bandwidth usage.

Billed by the hour, you end up paying €1.80 per month ($2.10). The company isn’t going to generate a ton of revenue from such a cheap product. That’s why supply is limited. Scaleway will release a limited batch of cloud instances every month — first come, first served.

There are also some limits as you can’t spin up a ton of Stardust and build your own infrastructure. Each account can have up to one Stardust instance in Paris and another one in Amsterdam.

Scaleway lists some potential use cases for its new product, such as an internal wiki, a code repository backup, an always-on instance to set up daemons, triggers and workers, a VPN server, etc. The instance supports Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS and Fedora.

#developer, #europe, #france-newsletter, #scaleway

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France rebrands contact-tracing app in an effort to boost downloads

Don’t call it StopCovid anymore. France’s contact-tracing app has been updated and is now called TousAntiCovid, which means ‘everyone against Covid’. The French government is trying to pivot so that it’s no longer a contact-tracing app — or at least not just a contact-tracing app.

Right now, TousAntiCovid appears to be a rebranding more than a pivot. There’s a new name and some changes in the user interface. But the core feature of the app remains unchanged.

StopCovid hasn’t been a success. First, it’s still unclear whether contact-tracing apps are a useful tool to alert people who have been interacting with someone who has been diagnosed COVID-19-positive. Second, even when you take that into consideration, the app never really took off.

Back in June, the French government gave us an update on StopCovid three weeks after its launch. 1.9 million people had downloaded the app, but StopCovid only sent 14 notifications.

Four months later, StopCovid/TousAntiCovid has been downloaded and activated by close to 2.8 million people. But only 13,651 people declared themselves as COVID-19-positive in the app, which led to 823 notifications. Even if you’re tested positive, in most cases, no one is going to be notified.

Hence today’s update. If you’ve been using the app, you’ll receive TousAntiCovid with a software update — the French government is using the same App Store and Play Store listing. When you first launch the app, you go through an onboarding process focused on contact-tracing — activate notifications, activate Bluetooth, etc.

France is using its own contact-tracing protocol called ROBERT. A group of researchers and private companies have worked on a centralized architecture. The server assigns you a permanent ID (a pseudonym) and sends to your phone a list of ephemeral IDs derived from that permanent ID.

Like most contact-tracing apps, TousAntiCovid relies on Bluetooth Low Energy to build a comprehensive list of other app users you’ve interacted with for more than a few minutes. If you’re using the app, it collects the ephemeral IDs of other app users around you.

If you’re using the app and you’re diagnosed COVID-19-positive, your testing facility will hand you a QR code or a string of letters and numbers. You can choose to open the app and enter that code to share the list of ephemeral IDs of people you’ve interacted with over the past two weeks.

The server back end then flags all those ephemeral IDs as belonging to people who have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus. On the server again, each user is associated with a risk score. If it goes above a certain threshold, the user receives a notification. The app then recommends you get tested and follow official instructions.

But there are some new things in the app. You can now access some recent numbers about the pandemic in France — new cases over the past 24 hours, number of people in intensive care unit, etc. There’s a new feed of news items. Right now, it sums up what you can do and cannot do in France

And there are some new links for useful resources — the service that tells you where you can get tested and a link to the exemption certificate during the curfew. When you tap on those links, it simply launches your web browser to official websites.

Let’s see how the app evolves as the government now wants to actively iterate on TousAntiCovid to make it more attractive. If TousAntiCovid can become a central information hub for your phone, it could attract more downloads.

#contact-tracing, #coronavirus, #covid, #covid-19, #europe, #france-newsletter, #policy, #stopcovid, #tc

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Health insurance startup Alan lets you chat with a doctor

French startup Alan is building health insurance products. And 100,000 people are now covered through Alan . I caught up with the company’s co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve so that he could give us an update on the product.

Alan has obtained its own health insurance license and is a proper insurance company. It doesn’t partner with existing insurance companies. The company primarily sells its insurance product to other companies.

In France, employees are covered by both the national health care system and private insurance companies. So Alan convinces other companies to use its product for all employees.

Over the years, Alan has diversified its offering with high-end coverage, partnerships with CNP Assurances, Livi and Petit Bambou, a focus on new verticals, such as companies in the hospitality industry or retired individuals.

“We’ve kept shipping, and I even think that our pace has increased. We’ve released some exciting stuff in recent months, for our members, for companies and for us internally,” Samuelian-Werve told me.

The biggest change isn’t visible to the end user. The company has built a service that lets them generate a new insurance package on demand. It uses historical data to figure out pricing on the fly. And it opens up some market opportunities as big companies want a custom insurance product depending on their needs.

The biggest Alan customer is a company with 1,000 to 1,500 employees. But the startup is currently selling its product to bigger companies. The idea is that companies above 100 employees can get a custom insurance package.

For the customer, pricing remains transparent as Alan shows you how much it costs to cover your medical needs depending on what you’re asking for. Alan adds a membership fee on top of that to access the platform and related services.

Alan is also introducing a new messaging feature. You can start a text discussion with a doctor whenever you have a question about your health — it’s included in your insurance package. Alan doesn’t want to replace your general practitioner. But having a doctor that you can text is always helpful when you’re not sure what to do next.

On the other side of the screen, there are actual doctors answering your questions. “We’ve hired a full-time doctor and we’re working with a bit under 10 doctors on a part-time basis,” Samuelian-Werve told me.

Alan’s app has been redesigned with a bigger emphasis on your health instead of your insurance. The company shows you all your interactions with health professionals. You can add documents and notes to consolidate information in the same place.

It sounds a bit like France’s DMP, which acts as a personal repository for all your health-related documents. And Alan doesn’t want to replace the public initiative. The startup would like to take advantage of the service to upload and download data at some point down the road.

If you give your consent, Alan can also proactively nudge you about your health. For instance, given your child’s age, Alan can notify you when they’re supposed to get vaccinated. Or if you haven’t been to the dentist in a year, Alan can tell you that it’s time to get a routine checkup.

Finally, the company has improved efficiency when it comes to reimbursements. “74% of reimbursements are issued within an hour. And we’re using instant transfers to send money to your bank account,” Samuelian-Werve told me.

As you can see, Alan is releasing incremental updates. They slowly add up and change the product. In the coming years, the company plans to offer its product in multiple European countries.

#alan, #europe, #france-newsletter, #startups

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French TV networks team up to launch streaming service Salto

There’s a new streaming service in France called Salto. The companies behind the new service have been around for a while though. Salto is a joint initiative between TF1, France Télévisions and M6 — three major TV networks.

Those companies already had their own apps with live TV and ad-supported catch-up content. And of course, you can access content from these networks from your set-top box. But they’re trying something new with Salto.

For now, Salto is mostly an ad-free combination of all the individual apps from TF1, France Télévisions and M6. You can watch live TV from 19 different channels. You can play catch-up content from all three networks without any video ad.

It costs €6.99 per month. For €9.99, you can watch on two screens simultaneously. For €12.99 per month, you get four screens. Salto has released apps for Android, Android TV, iOS and tvOS. It also works in a web browser.

Such an offering probably won’t be enough to attract subscribers. That’s why Salto is slowly adding exclusive content to its platform as well. Salto is also going to be a good way to access content for kids in a dedicated section.

You can see some TV shows before they air on TV, such as an adaption from Agatha Christies’ ‘And Then There Were None’, the new season of Fargo. There are also some classic shows, such as Parks & Recreation and Seinfeld.

Who will be subscribing to Salto then? If you mostly watch live TV and you already know how to access catch-up content, Salto isn’t for you. If you already have access to premium content through a Canal+ subscription for instance, Salto isn’t for you.

But if you’re addicted to reality TV and daily soap operas, Salto could be a nice service to consume your favorite show. If you don’t pay for any streaming service, it could be a cheap service to get started and access some basic shows and movies.

Image Credits: Salto

#entertainment, #europe, #france-newsletter, #salto, #tc

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Beam is building a web browser that gathers knowledge from your web activity

Remember Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer? Those applications from the 1990s used emphatic metaphors in their names to talk about a simple task — browsing the web. Today, nobody would say that Google Chrome is a web explorer.

Browsing the web has become an effortless — and often mindless — task. You grab your phone or computer, you open a new tab and you type a few words in the address bar.

Beam, a new startup founded by Dom Leca and Sébastien Métrot, is working on a brand new app that is both a web browser and a note app. Dom Leca previously founded Sparrow, an email app for macOS and iOS that was acquired by Google in 2012. Sébastien Métrot has been working for Apple for several years.

“Everybody complains that Instagram and Facebook fry your brain and make you waste time,” Leca told me. And yet, web browsers represent infinite knowledge and infinite possibilities.

If you’re very passionate about a niche topic, chances are you can learn a ton of things by reading stuff, watching videos, interacting on forums and more. But when you close your browser window, everything disappears.

Sure, there’s a web history feature — but it’s a long list of links with no connection. Sure, you can bookmark pages or take notes in another app — but it’s a cumbersome process.

More importantly, you might not know what’s important and what’s not. Most passion projects start with meaningless search queries.

Beam’s mysterious logo. Image Credits: Beam

Beam aims to bring meaning to your web history. Every time you search for something, it creates a new note card. Beam passively follows users as they click on links, open new pages and spend time looking at stuff.

When you close the tab, you have a new card — your search query is the title of the card and you can see all links under that note. You can then add text, remove links that weren’t that relevant, etc.

By combining passive note creation with a tiny nudge when you close a tab, you get to reflect on your web activity. It’s a way to learn more about yourself and your habits. Sure, you may realize that you waste a ton of time. But you might also realize that you care more than you thought about cooking and Russian classical music.

“From a certain point of view, I’m designing this for people who don’t take notes,” Leca said.

But even if you use a note app, they interrupt you as you need to switch between multiple apps. Leca invested in Roam Research and likes it a lot. But he doesn’t think it solves that amnesia affect when you browse the web.

The startup is already thinking about ways to expand beyond that simple concept. You could imagine a way to interact with content directly from your notes — click on a YouTube link to view the video directly in your card, click on a podcast link to see an automated transcript, etc.

Eventually, Beam could let you share cards with other users. You could browse other user profiles based on matches with your interests.

Beam is leveraging WebKit as the browser engine and is working on a Mac app for now. It’s going to take a few months before a public release, but it’s going to be an interesting company to follow.

The company raised $3.5 million (€3 million) from Spark, Alven, C4V, Amaranthine, Tiny Capital (Andrew Wilkinson), Tiny vc, Secret Fund, Antoine Martin, Simon Dawlat, Nicolas Cohen and Spetses. Loren Brichter (remember Tweetie for Mac?) and Oliver Reichenstein (iA Writer) are advising the company.

#apps, #beam, #dom-leca, #europe, #france-newsletter, #sparrow, #startups, #tc

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Koyeb raises $1.6 million for its serverless data-processing engine

French startup Koyeb has raised a $1.6 million (€1.4 million) pre-seed round. The company focuses on data-processing workflows across multiple cloud providers. It hides many complexities using a serverless model.

Jean-David Chamboredon and Juliette Mopin from ISAI are leading the round with Plug and Play Ventures, Kima Ventures, AceCap and a long list of business angels also participating, such as Zachary Smith, Justin Ziegler, Alexis Lê-Quôc, Sébastien Lucas, Marc Jalabert, Amirhossein Malekzadeh, Philippe Besnard, Eric Ouisse, Dominique Vidal and Fabrice Bernhard.

Koyeb believes that companies will take advantage of the best cloud-native APIs and storage services going forward. In order to mix-and-match those various providers, Koyeb provides the serverless glue that ties everything together.

For instance, you can store videos on an object storage managed by DigitalOcean, transcribe the audio from those video files on Google Cloud using Google’s speech-to-text API and save the results on another object storage bucket.

You can move and process data based on a fixed schedule or based on events. For instance, when there’s a new file, you can trigger Koyeb with an API call. Everything scales automatically to process your task. And once your workflow is done, you no longer get billed for runtime.

Koyeb supports many different storage providers, such as AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Wasabi, Backblaze B2 as well as object storage products from DigitalOcean, Linode, Scaleway, Vultr, etc.

The company has also been working on a feature that lets you deploy your own Docker container so that you can build your custom functions. You can also push your function from GitHub directly.

This way, you don’t have to spin up new servers and shut them down later. You don’t have to manage your cloud infrastructure using Terraform and Kubernetes as Koyeb abstracts your infrastructure for you.

Image Credits: Koyeb

#developer, #europe, #france-newsletter, #koyeb, #startups

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WizVille Local Monitor helps small shops track Google Maps ratings of competitors

French startup WizVille is launching a new product called Local Monitor to help restaurant owners, haircut places, bakeries and all kinds of small shops track their Google Maps ratings and the ratings of their competitors.

While there are plenty of ratings services to compare places around you, such as Foursquare, Yelp and Tripadvisor, Google Maps has slowly been showcasing ratings more prominently. And chances are you’re now checking ratings on Google Maps more than ever before.

“I’ve been working for ten years in customer ratings. There’s something huge happening right now — Google and Google Maps are taking over the customer relationship with small shops,” co-founder and CEO Timothée de Laitre told me

And yet, many small business owners don’t pay attention to their Google My Business rating that customers can see on Google Maps and above Google search results. WizVille thinks this is most important metric you can track. And it’s also important to know how your competitors are doing.

When you add your business to WizVille Local Monitor, the company displays other places around you that provide the same products and services. You can choose up to five competitors from that list.

After that, you receive a report with your rating, your competitors’ ratings and the evolution over time. This way, you know how you rank compared to your competitors. The service sends you a new report every month so that you can track your progress.

Google Maps ratings are really not that smart as the company is calculating the average of all your ratings to determine your overall rating. You could have opened your business ten days ago or ten years ago — all your reviews will matter.

If you have more than one shop or you need more features, you have to switch to the full-fledged WizVille customer experience management service. For that service, the startup works with bigger clients, such as Total, Etam, Naturalia and Schmidt.

Image Credits: WizVille

#europe, #france-newsletter, #startups, #wizville

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Spendesk raises another $18 million for its corporate card and expense service

French startup Spendesk has added $18 million to its Series B round. The company already raised $38.4 million as part of its Series B last year, which means that it raised $56.4 million as part of this round. Eight Roads Ventures is investing in today’s extension round.

Spendesk, as the name suggests, focuses on all things related to spend management. The company issues virtual and physical cards for employees, lets you set up an approval workflow and manages expense reimbursements. It can also centralize all your invoices and receipts on the platform.

By centralizing everything on the same platform, it lets you control your spending in real time and save time on accounting tasks. Reconciliation is easier if you combine transactions and receipts on Spendesk. Clients can also export data to Xero, Datev, Netsuite or Sage.

Image Credits: Spendesk

For big expenses, you can send a request to your manager. If they approve your request, you receive a single-use virtual card for that expense.

Similarly, if your company gives you a physical debit card, you get a pre-defined budget. Your manager can top up your card for big expenses, block ATM withdrawals, block weekend transactions and more. Employees can check their payments from the mobile app, see their card balance and add receipts.

Spendesk is a software-as-a-service product with a monthly subscription fee. While transactions have probably slowed down due to the economic crisis, the company says that its subscription revenue has doubled year-over-year. In just a year, the company grew from 100 to 200 people.

It remains focused on small and medium companies across Europe. There are 40,000 people using Spendesk through their companies. Clients include Algolia, Curve, Doctolib, Raisin and Wefox. The company has hired Joseph Smith as Chief Revenue Officer, pictured left above with the company’s CEO Rodolphe Ardant (pictured right).

Image Credits: Spendesk

#europe, #fintech, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #spendesk, #startups

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Devialet announces wireless earbuds

High-end speaker manufacturer Devialet is launching its first pair of earbuds called Devialet Gemini. The in-ear earbuds feature active noise canceling and cost £279 in the U.K. — they will be available in the coming weeks.

The Devialet Gemini are completely wireless, which means that there’s no cord between each earbud, like on Apple’s AirPods. The company has developed three new patents for the product.

They feature cascading decompression chambers, which means that they should stick in your ears and provide adequate pressure. In-ear earbuds require a good seal.

Image Credits: Devialet

There are two microphones in each earbud for the active noise cancelation feature and a dedicated microphone for calls and other voice interactions. Like on the AirPods Pro, there are multiple ANC modes. You can remove background noise altogether or activate transparency modes so that you can hear what’s happening around you.

You can choose between three levels of ANC and two levels of transparency mode. The company is releasing a mobile app so that you can control those settings. There’s also a touch button at the rear of the earbuds that you can use to control music playback, noise cancelation or voice assistants.

The earbuds automatically adjusts the audio signal when the earbud moves. It uses a microphone to detect a change in frequency. The app can also tell you if you’re using the right tip for your ear.

The company promises 8 hours of battery life without ANC and 6 hours with ANC activated. The case provides 3.5 charges and works with wireless chargers using the Qi standard or a USB-C cable.

Image Credits: Devialet

#devialet, #france-newsletter, #gadgets

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Ÿnsect, the makers of the world’s most expensive bug farm, raises another $224 million

Ÿnsect, the startup building the world’s most high tech bug colony, have added $224 million in equity and debt to an already impressive $148 million cash haul as it looks to commercialize its business.

Investors backing the company include the Los Angeles-based investment firm Upfront Ventures and the FootPrint Coalition, an investment vehicle financed by celebrity superhero Robert Downey Jr.

The financing, which includes $139 million in debt and another $65 million in equity will be used to fund the construction of the world’s largest insect farm in Amiens, France — set to open in early 2022.

Why invest a total of $372 million in equity and debt into bug farms? For Ÿnsect, it’s all about protein… and fish. Lots of fish.

See fish farming is an exploding industry even as the numbers of wild caught fish dwindle thanks to rising consumer demand and declining supplies thanks to ocean acidification and warming waters caused by climate change.

Industrial fish farming requires a lot of protein — and the sources of that protein are not good enough to keep industrial farmed fish healthy.

Ÿnsect hopes to change that by providing insect protein for things like fish food and fertilizer — and eventually pet food and (farther down the road) even food for people.

“Ÿnsect isn’t just about insect farming: With climate change and increasing populations worldwide, we need to produce more food with less available land and fewer resources, so that we’re not clearing forests and emptying our oceans. We believe Ÿnsect can play a pivotal role in this global solution,” co-founder and CEO Antoine Hubert said in a statement.

The company’s high-tech, vertical insect farms (primarily raising mealworms) are perfect proteins for the fish and can replace the limited sources of protein the industry currently relies on, according to investors like Upfront Ventures’ Yves Sisteron.

“Oceans are emptying and fish farms are taking over. We’re approaching 50 percent of fish coming from fish farms,” said Sisteron. “One of the main ingredients of fish feed comes from fish. These are from trawlers that rake the bottom of the ocean for anchovies that are combined with a protein paste that is fed to fish for fish farms. And that is basically not sustainable. The amounts in question are gigantic. Globally there’s about 44 million tons of fishfeed per year that is fed to farmed fish.”

Ÿnsect’s mealworms actually provide the fish with a lower-cost, higher quality protein, Sisteron said. “What Ÿnsect is solving is: Can we feed those fish a different kind of protein that will be scalable and also nutrient rich for the fish,” he said.

Ÿnsect transforms insects (and mealworms in particular) into proteins for animals and plants. The company is building full-stack factories that are fully automated, from insect reproduction to sterilization, sorting and packaging.

When the Amiens-based farm is open for business, the company expects to produce 100,000 tons of insect products annually. 500 people will work directly and indirectly on the project.

For the Downey Jr.-backed FootPrint Coalition Ventures, Ÿnsect’s combination of sustainable protein cultivation and massive end markets represented a compelling investment opportunity and a chance to back another company doing its part to combat climate change, according to founding partner Jonathan Schulhof.

It’s the firm’s second publicly disclosed investment after the bamboo-based toilet paper company Cloud Paper.

“We find the aquaculture industry to be absolutely fascinating and we think what they’re doing in that industry is vital,” Schulhof said.

Upfront and FootPrint are joining previous investors like Astanor Ventures along with other financial backers including Happiness Capital, Supernova Invest and Armat Group.

Caisse des Dépôts, Crédit Agricole Brie Picard and Caisse d’Epargne Hauts-de-France are the top banks contributing to today’s financing by providing a credit line. Some of them are taking some equity and other banks are also participating. Overall, Ÿnsect has raised $425 million since 2011.

Companies have already committed $105 million worth of contracts. Clients include wine growing company Torres, fish feed company Skretting and plant fertilizer company Compo Group.

In the future, Ÿnsect also plans to expand to the U.S. and manufacture new products, such as wet pet food.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups, #ynsect

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eFounders unveils its next batch of enterprise SaaS startups

Since 2011, European startup studio eFounders has launched 27 companies with a focus on software-as-a-service companies trying to improve the way we work. Some of them have been quite successful, such as Front and Aircall.

And the company is working on its next batch of startups. “We're particularly inspired by the new wave of productivity tools, that is ever more collaborative and flexible,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elziere said in a statement

In exchange for financial and human resources, eFounders keeps a significant stake in its startups. Ideally, startups raise a seed round and take off on their own after a year or two.

Here’s what’s coming up from eFounders.

Canyon

Canyon is a product for legal teams that want to ditch Word, PDF documents and emails. It starts with a central hub to hold all your drafts and documents. This way, you can track progress, get the latest document version and see the context around a document. Given that it is tailored for legal teams, it should work a bit better than a shared Dropbox folder.

You can create templates to reuse them later, see related emails directly in Canyon’s interface and invite other people so that they can have a look at what you’ve been working on.

Image Credits: Canyon

Kairn

Kairn is a task manager that tries to get out of the way as much as possible. When you’re working on your computer, you can add tasks directly from the app that you’re already using.

For instance, you can imagine adding a task by starring an email conversation in Gmail, forwarding a message to a WhatsApp bot or starring a message in Slack. There’s also a quick add window that you can trigger with a keyboard shortcut.

Read my full article on Kairn:

Image Credits: Kairn

Crew

Crew is focused on new hires and job applications. Given that many companies are actively looking for interesting candidates, Crew isn’t just a way to passively collect applications.

It lets you create automated workflows and handle everything you’d expect from a recruitment platform.

Image Credits: Crew

Collective

Collective is a product for freelancers who want to work together and form groups. It should make it easier to send a contract to a client that involves multiple freelancers working on the contract. Collective will make it easier to remain legally compliant.

#efounders, #europe, #france-newsletter, #startups

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Memo Bank details its offering for its business bank accounts

French startup Memo Bank has unveiled three different plans for its new customers. The company is building a business bank for small and medium companies that generate between €2 million and €50 million in annual turnover.

Earlier this year, Memo Bank obtained licenses from the French regulator (ACPR) and the European Central Bank to become a credit institution. It can provide all the services you’d expect from a business bank, from current accounts to credit lines.

On paper, Memo Bank’s current accounts look a lot like a software-as-a-service product. There are three different plans. For €49 per month, you get one user account and each additional account costs €10 per month. You get 20 transactions in and out per month, each additional transaction costs €0.40 per transaction.

For €149 per month, you can create as many user accounts as you want and you get 200 transactions per month. Once again, additional transactions cost €0.40 per transaction.

And if you handle a lot of transactions, you get unlimited transactions for €399 per month. The mid-tier plan also lets you access an authorized overdraft.

Interestingly, companies on the top two tiers will earn interests on their deposits — 0.15% up to €100,000 and 0.30% up to €200,000 for the top two plans respectively. Memo Bank isn’t mentioning checks or payment cards for now.

Image Credits: Memo Bank

The startup is also saying that its web platform should work better than your average banking site. The search feature works as expected, you can issue grouped transfers to pay your employees and you can set up an approval workflow for big transactions.

More importantly, Memo Bank is open for business to issue loans. Companies can apply to get a €20,000 to €200,000 loan and pay back over 1 to 7 years. With this product, the startup is competing with online lending platforms, such as October.

#europe, #finance, #fintech, #france-newsletter, #memo-bank, #startups, #tc

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Exotec raises $90 million for its warehouse robots

French startup Exotec has raised a $90 million Series C round led by 83North, with existing investors Iris Capital and Breega also participating. Other existing investors include 360 Capital. The company has been working on semi-automated warehouses for e-commerce clients.

The system is based on tiny robots called Skypods. They roam the floor and go up and down racks to pick up standardized bins of products.

The company also provides logistics software to coordinate all those robots through the warehouse. As you scale, you can add more robots and more racks without any downtime.

It’s not going to replace humans altogether as you still have to pick up goods from the bin and pack stuff. But human operators can stay at a workstation while robots take care of all the roaming.

You can use a workstation to pick up goods but also to replenish bins. The idea is that you never have to enter the Exotec area. It’s a robot-only zone.

In addition to productivity gains, you can also increase your storage capacity by switching to Exotec thanks to tall racks and narrow aisles.

The company now has teams in Atlanta and Tokyo — it plans to produce 4,000 robots per year by 2021. Everything is manufactured in Lille, France in a 6,000 square-meter plant. The company currently has fourteen running systems around the world. Clients include Carrefour, Leclerc, Cdiscount and Fast Retailing (Uniqlo).

Exotec has previously raised $17.7 million in 2018 and $3.8 million (€3.3 million) in 2016.

Image Credits: Exotec

#europe, #exotec, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups

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Klaxoon launches Board, an interactive meeting product for video calls

A few weeks after teasing its new product, French startup Klaxoon is launching Board, a visual interface that lets you work together during a video call. Instead of staring at other people’s faces, you get a shared canvas that you can use for presentations and to suggest ideas.

Klaxoon is well aware that many companies have strong opinions about video conferencing services. Some companies are already using Microsoft Teams for everything, others are using Zoom or Google Meet. That’s why the company is trying to make it as easy as possible to use Board while you’re on a call using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.

Given that you’re already in Board when you’re generating a Zoom link, you can also use Klaxoon’s own video-conferencing service called Live.

“Video represents less than 10% of your screen real estate. Our goal isn’t to compete with other services when it comes to pixels, high definition or the number of thumbnails,” Klaxoon co-founder and CEO Matthieu Beucher told me.

Instead, when you use Live, you accept multiple constraints that could help you remain focused on your meeting. For instance, you can only have 15 people in your meeting. The person organizing the meeting can set a limit — it can be 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. But you can’t use Live for a meeting that lasts longer than 30 minutes.

And finally, other people on the calls are represented through tiny thumbnails on the right side of the screen. Most of the screen is filled with a sort of digital whiteboard that you can use to write text, insert images or videos. You can work on your board before starting the meeting or you can add a table from a template library.

People joining your meeting can submit ideas through digital sticky notes. You can also switch from the freeform view to a more structured column view to move ideas from one category to another.

Klaxoon has been working on interactive whiteboards and meeting tools for quite a few years now. Board combines some of the stuff that the company is already providing to its clients, but with a focus on remote meetings. The service is launching today for €9.90 per month.

Image Credits: Klaxoon

#europe, #france-newsletter, #klaxoon, #startups, #tc

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Mirakl raises $300 million for its marketplace platform

French startup Mirakl has raised a $300 million funding round at a $1.5 billion valuation — the company is now a unicorn. Mirakl helps you launch and manage a marketplace on your e-commerce website. Many customers also rely on Mirakl-powered marketplaces for B2B transactions.

Permira Advisers is leading the round, with existing investors 83North, Bain Capital Ventures, Elaia Partners and Felix Capital also participating.

“We’ve closed this round in 43 days,” co-founder and U.S. CEO Adrien Nussenbaum told me. But the due diligence process has been intense. “[Permira Advisers] made 250 calls to clients, leads, partners and former employees.”

Many e-commerce companies rely on third-party sellers to increase their offering. Instead of having one seller selling to many customers, marketplaces let you sell products from many sellers to many customers. Mirakl has built a solution to manage the marketplace of your e-commerce platform.

300 companies have been working with Mirakl for their marketplace, such as Best Buy Canada, Carrefour, Darty and Office Depot. More recently, Mirakl has been increasingly working with B2B clients as well.

These industry-specific marketplaces can be used for procurement or bulk selling of parts. In this category, clients include Airbus Helicopters, Toyota Material Handling and Accor’s Astore. 60% of Mirakl’s marketplace are still consumer-facing marketplaces, but the company is adding as many B2B and B2C marketplaces these days.

“We’ve developed a lot of features that enable platform business models that go further than simple marketplaces,” co-founder and CEO Philippe Corrot told me. “For instance, we’ve invested in services — it lets our clients develop service platforms.”

In France, Conforama can upsell customers with different services when they buy some furniture for instance. Mirakl has also launched its own catalog manager so that you can merge listings, add information, etc.

The company is using artificial intelligence to do the heavy-lifting on this front. There are other AI-enabled features, such as fraud detection.

Given that Mirakl is a marketplace expert, it’s not surprising that the company has also created a sort of marketplace of marketplaces with Mirakl Connect.

“Mirakl Connect is a platform that is going to be the single entry point for everybody in the marketplace ecosystem, from sellers to operators and partners,” Corrot said.

For sellers, it’s quite obvious. You can create a company profile and promote products on multiple marketplaces at once. But the company is also starting to work with payment service providers, fulfillment companies, feed aggregators and other partners. The company wants to become a one-stop shop on marketplaces with those partners.

Overall, Mirakl-powered marketplaces have generated $1.2 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the first half of 2020. It represents a 111% year-over-year increase, despite the economic crisis.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand across all areas — same features, same business model, but with more resources. It plans to hire 500 engineers and scale its sales and customer success teams.

#ecommerce, #enterprise, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #marketplace, #mirakl, #startups

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PowerZ is a video game focused on education founded by Shadow founder

Meet PowerZ, a new French startup founded by Emmanuel Freund, the founder of popular cloud gaming service Shadow, as well as former Shadow employees. The company wants to develop a video game that is as engaging as Fortnite, but with a focus on education. It is both an edtech startup and a video game studio.

PowerZ has raised a $3.5 million (€3 million) seed round from Educapital, Hachette Livre and various business angels, such as Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, Michaël Benabou and Octave Klaba.

After turning Shadow into one of the most valuable French startups, Freund stepped back and took some time to think about his second act. He spent some time with his two children aged 5 and 8 years old.

“I realized that code-learning tools for children are very lacking. So I turned to math because you don’t need any support material. There are 40,000 apps but they all look like holiday workbooks,” Freund told me.

From his experience, most education apps are focused on one knowledge area in particular and are somewhat basic. According to him, education hasn’t changed that much in the past 100 years. When you walk into a classroom, it still looks like a classroom.

At the same time, when you see a kid playing on Fortnite or Minecraft, chances are they’re hooked. You tell them to come for dinner and they ask you for five more minutes of playtime.

“What if we could build a sort of Ready Player One for education. An open world in which a child could learn new things,” Freund said.

Here’s what you can expect from PowerZ. First, it’s not going to focus on one area in particular. You can learn history, geography, math, but also botanical knowledge, astronomy and poetry.

Second, content isn’t going to be gamified to motivate you to learn more to do more in the game. You’ll be able to unlock some customizations but PowerZ is taking it easy with gamification.

Third, the game will evolve depending on what you’re doing. Some children will be better at math, others will be better at grammar. Some children like to learn new things in short sessions, others can remain focused for a while. This way, parents can get reports on what their children have been doing.

PowerZ wants to develop its game with a community of parents, teachers and children. There will be an alpha test in 2021, first in France and then in English-speaking countries. It’s still the early days of the company, but it’s going to be interesting to see how it evolves over time.

Image Credits: PowerZ

#france-newsletter, #tc

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Klaxoon teases new interactive meeting product for video calls

French startup Klaxoon is currently testing a new product called Board. The company expects to launch Board at some point during the second half of September. Board is a new visual interface that connects directly with video-conferencing services, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.

If you’re not familiar with Klaxoon, the startup wants to make meetings more engaging and little bit less boring. The startup has built a suite of tools tailored for different use cases. There are voting and brainstorming modules, multiple features that let you gather feedback through questions, surveys and more. Meeting organizers can also get feedback and see analytics their meetings.

While Klaxoon already offers interactive whiteboards for your meeting rooms, chances are your team isn’t in the meeting room right now. That’s why Klaxoon started working on Board during lockdown. It is accessible from your phone, tablet and computer.

Board brings together a set of interactive tools in a video call. It adds a blank canvas that you can use to write text, insert images or videos. You can also start with a template and fill it out during the call. Other people joining the call can react using likes, votes or questions.

And here’s what it’ll look like when it launches:

Image Credits: Klaxoon

Given that Klaxoon has been working hard to replace sticky notes and other low-tech solutions used during meetings, the startup seems particularly well-positioned right now. Many companies don’t plan to reopen their offices for the foreseeable future.

Klaxoon has raised around $55 million over the years and now has a team of 240 employees. 15% of Fortune 500 companies use the service.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #klaxoon, #startups

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Facebook to pay $125 million in back taxes in France, report says

Facebook France is going to pay $125 million (€106 million) in back taxes according to business magazine Capital — Facebook confirmed the agreement to both Capital and Reuters. French tax authorities raided Facebook’s offices in Paris in 2012 and later opened an investigation on unpaid taxes covering activities between 2009 and 2018.

According to the investigation, Facebook allegedly optimized its effective tax rate in France by funneling sales to other subsidiaries in different European countries.

It’s a grey area as funneling sales to a different country is legal. But you have to prove that there wasn’t any sales person based in France selling to a French customer. Those contracts can be reclassified as French contracts.

Many tech companies have had to pay back taxes in France for the same issue. For instance, Google agreed to pay a $549 million fine and $510 million in back taxes in 2019. Similarly, Apple settled a dispute covering $572 million in back taxes.

This is a new strategy for French authorities. Companies can avoid a public fight if they settle with tax authorities directly. This way, companies avoid some public backlash and it speeds up the process. Amazon was the first company to settle in 2018.

“We take our tax obligations seriously, pay the taxes we owe in all markets where we operate,” Facebook told Reuters. As a result, the company’s revenue in France has jumped from €56 million to €389 million between 2017 and 2018, representing a nearly 600% revenue increase in 12 months.

We’ve reached out to Facebook and will update this article if we learn more.

#europe, #facebook, #france, #france-newsletter, #policy, #tax

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AB Tasty raises $40 million to optimize e-commerce user experience

AB Tasty has raised a new $40 million funding round led by Credit Mutuel Innovation with existing investors Korelya Capital, Omnes, Partech and XAnge also participating. Overall the startup has raised $64 million.

The startup is focused on improving user experience on e-commerce platforms, travel portals, fashion websites and more. It lets you customize the message and the feature set of your application depending on the person you’re interacting with.

AB Tasty started the fundraising process at the end of last year and managed to close this funding round around the end of April. “We were supposed to close the round by the end of March and then coronavirus hit, which delayed the closing a bit,” co-founder and CEO Alix de Sagazan told me. But it seems like lockdowns didn’t derail the startup.

At first, AB Tasty was a web analytics agency. In 2013, the company started working on a software-as-a-service product with a simple testing product — hence the name AB Tasty. But it evolved beyond that with a recommendation engine.

Integrating AB Tasty on your website works pretty much like integrating Google Analytics. You insert a single line of JavaScript code on every page of your site. It lets you learn a ton of information about your visitors and sort them into buckets — for European users, they’d have to give their consent in the GDPR module. You can separate engaged users from casual wanderers, you can identify customers who have been on your site for a while, etc.

After that, you can act on those segments to send personalized messages. For instance, you could give a discount to users who have a loyalty card using dynamic widgets.

More recently, AB Tasty has been trying to make it easier to roll out new features and customize an app for a specific audience. It lets you hide features behind flags and trigger them depending on multiple conditions. For instance, you could progressively roll out a new feature to 10% of your user base, then 20% of your user base, etc. You could also hide features that aren’t available in some countries.

Overall, AB Tasty is trying to increase your average basket size, upsell your customers with other products, make customers come back more often and generate more revenue.

Originally from France, AB Tasty now has teams in many different countries, such as Germany, the U.K., Spain, Singapore and the U.S. “I moved to New York in September 2018. It’s been nearly two years and we’ve had tremendous growth since I arrived in the U.S.,” Alix de Sagazan said.

Revenue in the U.S. has jumped by 480% over the past two years and 60% of the company’s revenue now comes from outside of France. The company has around 900 clients, such as Le Bon Coin, LVMH, L’Oréal, Carrefour, Leclerc, Oui.SNCF, Sephora, Disneyland Paris, etc.

#ab-tasty, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc

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Koyeb is a serverless startup that ingests, processes and stores data with multiple cloud providers

Meet Koyeb, a new French startup founded by Yann Léger, Édouard Bonlieu and Bastien Chatelard who have previously worked at Scaleway for many years. Koyeb is a serverless startup that helps you manipulate data in different ways without worrying about your server infrastructure.

Competition has become incredibly fierce between cloud service providers, and Koyeb wants to take advantage of that. You can integrate Koyeb with multiple cloud service providers and let Koyeb do the heavy lifting.

For instance, you may store a ton of videos on an object storage bucket managed by DigitalOcean. Let’s say you want to re-encode those videos to optimize them for a new device. Koyeb can import data from this bucket, re-encode those videos and upload the new files to your bucket.

But Koyeb goes one step-further by letting you mix and match services and APIs. As cloud platforms become smarter, they provide services that go beyond running servers and storing data for you.

For instance, Google Cloud’s speech-to-text API is arguably better than Amazon Transcribe. Instead of having to manually set up a multi-cloud workflow, Koyeb can take video files from an AWS S3 bucket, transcribes the audio from those video files on Google Cloud and save the result on the AWS S3 bucket.

There are many use cases for Koyeb. It ranges from copying data from an S3-compatible object storage provider to another every day for redundancy to triggering data processing with API calls. Everything scales automatically and once a workflow is done, you no longer get billed for runtime.

There are already dozens of integrations with data sources (as input and output) and ready-to-use processing APIs. Everything can be configured in the web interface with multiple processing steps, using a command-line interface or the Koyeb API.

The company is just coming out of stealth and is already working on more product updates. For instance, you’ll be able to use Docker containers and custom functions in the future, which should enable a lot more workflows. But it’s a promising start.

#developer, #europe, #france-newsletter, #koyeb, #serverless, #startups

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Lydia expands credit offering in partnership with Younited Credit

French startup Lydia is announcing a new partnership with Younited Credit, which lets you borrow anything between €500 and €3,000 and pay back within 6 to 36 months. The feature will be released in France at some point during the summer.

This isn’t the first time Lydia is playing around with credit. The company already partnered with Banque Casino to let users borrow between €100 and €1,000. But that feature was limited to short-term credit as you had to reimburse everything over three installments.

This time, you can borrow more money and you have more time to pay back your loan. Lydia will try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to interests. And there’s no fee in case or early repayment.

Compared to the first credit product, you can’t borrow money instantly. You apply for a loan in the app and get an answer within 24 hours. If you accept the offer, you have seven days to change your mind — it’s a regulatory requirement in France. You then receive money on your account.

By offering two different credit products, Lydia wants to cover more use cases. If something unexpected happens (your laptop broke down, you have to book an emergency flight, etc.), you can borrow as much as €1,000 in just a few seconds.

You receive the money on your Lydia account and you can start using it instantly using a virtual card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Lydia’s debit cards or Lydia’s peer-to-peer payments.

Fees on instant credit lines are pretty high as you pay 3.13% in interests and a one-time fee of €6.90 to €19.90 to receive the money instantly depending on how much you borrow.

If you’re planning a big purchase but you can wait a week, you can go through the new credit offering with Younited Credit . This isn’t the first time Younited Credit offers an integrated credit product with another fintech startup. For instance, N26 also offers credit lines with Younited Credit in France.

Lydia started as a peer-to-peer payment app with 3.5 million users in Europe. It recently raised a $45 million funding round led by Tencent. The startup now wants to build a marketplace of financial products. And integrating Younited Credit in the app seems in line with that strategy.

#europe, #finance, #fintech, #france-newsletter, #lydia, #startups, #younited-credit

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Portfolio companies of startup studio eFounders have raised $148 million this year

European startup studio eFounders has looked back at the first half of 2020 to share some metrics about its portfolio companies. The startup studio that is focused on building software-as-a-service enterprise startups has now launched 25 companies in total. Those startups have raised $148 million in 2020 alone.

You may remember that the portfolio of eFounders reached a total valuation of $1 billion late last year. After those new funding rounds, the consolidated valuation of eFounders companies is now at $1.5 billion.

And because we’re talking about SaaS, the monthly recurring revenue has also doubled year over year compared to the first half of 2019. Overall, those companies now generate around $10 million in monthly recurring revenue.

Of course, some companies are doing better than others. In particular, Front and Aircall have raised $59 million and $65 million respectively. Back when I wrote on those stories, Front said its valuation had quadrupled compared to its previous funding round, while Aircall said it had done more than 3x on the valuation.

Slite, Bonjour, Folk, Cycle and Equify have also raised smaller funding rounds. Yousign, an e-signature startup, has also experienced an important growth bump with demand exploding.

eFounders seems particularly well positioned for the current situation. Due to lockdowns around the world, many companies have been looking at tools that help them work remotely and work more efficiently. “We build the future of work,” eFounders writes on its website.

“The changes that were naturally, but slowly, occurring in companies for a decade have accelerated in a matter of months. We've certainly gained a few years of digitalisation in the space of a quarter,” eFounders co-founder Thibaud Elziere said in a statement.

If you’re not familiar with eFounders, the company first comes up with an idea for a new company and hires a founding team. The core team works alongside the founders for a year or two to define product-market fit — eFounders keeps a stake in those startups.

After that initial launch, portfolio companies usually raise a seed round, which helps them build a solid team. eFounders can switch their focus and start working on new startups.

#efounders, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups

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Swile raises $78.7 million for its corporate lunch card and benefits app

French startup Swile, the startup formerly known as Lunchr, raised a $78.7 million (€70 million) Series C round a few months ago. The startup wants to manage all your corporate benefits and improve team building in general.

Index Ventures is leading the round, Bpifrance and Idinvest are also participating. Index Ventures already led the company’s Series B round.

The company first launched a payment card for your lunch. In France, companies have to contribute to lunch when it’s in the middle of a workday. Some companies offer a cafeteria with cheap meals, others hand out meal vouchers.

Until recently, those meal vouchers were made out of paper. The vast majority of restaurants accept those vouchers as a payment method. Legacy meal voucher companies started offering prepaid cards that are specifically designed to work in restaurants and stores that participate in the network.

Swile took advantage of that shift to offer a card that works better than what legacy players offer. For instance, you can associate a debit card with your account so that your debit card is used if you pay for an expensive lunch above your daily limit. There are 210,000 people using Swile across 8,000 companies.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand to another popular type of benefits for French companies — gift cards. Every year, employee representatives receive a budget from the company. They can choose to support employees in different ways, including by offering gift cards before the holidays.

Swile wants to turn its card into an all-in-one payment solution for those specific use cases. You’ll be able to spend your gift card budget with your Swile card. Eventually, Swile could offer more ways to manage benefits, such as the ability for companies to pay for part of public transportation subscriptions.

In addition to those fintech services, the company is taking advantage of the fact that 100% of employees have a Swile account as it is part of the benefits package.

The startup wants to improve corporate culture with additional features in the app. For instance, you can celebrate events, create money pots, pay back your co-workers and create team building events from Swile. Those features should improve retention as Swile is expanding beyond a utility app.

Up next, the company plans to expand to Brazil starting this year. In 2021, Swile will look at other European countries for further expansions.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #lunchr, #swile

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Bellman raises $4.5 million for its property management platform

French startup Bellman has raised a $4.5 million (€4 million) seed extension round led by Lakestar with existing investors Connect Ventures and Financière Saint-James also participating. Bellman is focused on improving residential building management.

But the startup doesn’t think you can replace this job with software altogether. Instead, Bellman thinks it can greatly improve the experience by building a tech platform and hiring in-house property managers.

In France, most residential buildings are managed by private companies specialized in property management. They handle all the relationships with third-party companies, from utilities to construction work, cleaning, insurance and more.

But most of those companies rely on emails and letters to send information. If you’re looking for some details on a change in your building, you’re going to waste a ton of time looking for that info.

That’s why Bellman has built a tech platform for both property managers and landlords. The startup’s property managers use it to centralize everything, from contact info to bills, while co-owners get email updates and a central repository with everything related to their building.

Eventually, Bellman wants to automate some of the most repetitive tasks so that property managers become more efficient. They can spend more time renegotiating contracts and working on long-term issues. This isn’t about undercutting the competition, but more about improving the experience.

When I first covered Bellman, the startup was just getting started with a dozen buildings under management. It is now working with a hundred buildings, representing 2,500 people paying a monthly fee.

With today’s funding round, the company wants to do more of the same — Bellman is going to hire more in-house property managers and more people on the software development team. Right now, the startup is still focusing on the Paris area.

#bellman, #france-newsletter, #tc

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Molotov will provide infrastructure service to other OTT platforms

French startup Molotov is better known for its TV streaming service in France. The company has attracted millions of users that use it to watch live TV, record movies and TV shows in the cloud, play past TV content and access on-demand channels. The company is launching Molotov Solutions, a B2B division that will build and operate the TV platform of other companies.

Molotov is a sort of YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV for French TV — except that Molotov launched before those other services. In many ways, Molotov has been a trailblazer when it comes to over-the-top TV streaming, often featured at Apple keynotes and on Google’s Play Store.

Instead of relying on a set-top box, Molotov works more like Spotify. You download a client on your devices, connect with your login and password and access all your TV content. You can start watching on one device and finish on another. You can record something from your phone and watch it on your TV.

The company is using its technical experience in this field to help other companies build their own streaming services. Molotov Solutions plans to work with media companies as well as telecom companies.

In many ways, it reminds me of BAMTech, a spin-off company from Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). It built the streaming service of MLB.tv and then built other streaming services, such as HBO Now in 2015. In 2017, Disney acquired BAMTech and the company has been busy building ESPN+ and Disney+ since then.

Molotov Solutions offers a complete OTT platform. It can operate the backend, ingest live and on-demand video and distribute your content on many different platforms, such as iOS, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, smart TVs from Samsung and LG, desktop browsers and soon video game consoles.

“We take advantage of the excellent product that is Molotov. Except that it’s a service business this time. It’s another team and another way to work. We had to create a service company within Molotov, an internal agency,” Francois Le Pichon, who is going to head Molotov Solutions, told me.

By default, Molotov Solutions operates as a white-label service provider. When you choose Molotov Solutions for your streaming service, you get your own apps with your own logo. Molotov runs the servers, but everything is compartmentalized between each client.

The company is already working with a few clients but there’s nothing to announce just yet. There’s a telecom company with clients in multiple countries, a media company that wants to distribute its own content, some early talks with various telecom companies — those companies usually work with traditional IT consulting firms to outsource those projects.

There’s also the interesting example of a media company that runs multiple services in multiple countries. This company in particular wants to simplify its offering by switching everything over to Molotov Solutions — one streaming platform for multiple subsidiaries.

I hope Molotov is going to communicate about those partners and their names in the near future. Molotov expects clients to sign multi-year contracts. The company will provide on-going support and updates to those clients.

“Eventually, we’re thinking about spinning off this business, raising funds and expanding internationally,” Molotov co-founder and CEO Jean-David Blanc told me. And for now, it represents a good opportunity to add a revenue stream.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #media, #molotov, #molotov-solutions, #startups

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PhotoRoom automagically removes background from your photo

Meet PhotoRoom, a French startup that has been working on a utility photography mobile app. The concept is extremely simple, which is probably the reason why it has attracted a ton of downloads over the past few months.

After selecting a photo, PhotoRoom removes the background from that photo and lets you select another background. When you’re done tweaking your photo, you can save the photo and open it in another app.

“My original vision comes from my time when I was working at GoPro,” co-founder and CEO Matthieu Rouif told me. “I often had to remove the background from images and when the designer was out of office, I would spend a ton of time doing it manually.”

And it turns out many people have been looking for a simple app that lets them go in and out as quickly as possible with an edited photo in their camera roll.

For instance, people selling clothes and other items on peer-to-peer e-commerce platforms have been using PhotoRoom to improve their photos. PhotoRoom is often recommended in online discussions or YouTube tutorials about optimizing your Poshmark or Depop listings.

Downloads really started to take off around February. PhotoRoom now has 300,000 monthly active users. The app is only available on iOS for now. And if you’re a professional using it regularly, you can pay for a subscription ($9.49 per month or $46.99 per year) to remove the watermark and unlock more features.

“Subscriptions are what works best on mobile for photo and video apps,” Rouif said.

Behind the scene, PhotoRoom uses machine learning models to identify objects on a photo. And the vision goes beyond removing backgrounds.

Photoshop, the clear leader in photo editing, has been designed decades ago. There’s a steep learning curve if you want to use it professionally. It’s hard to understand layers, layer masks, channels, etc.

PhotoRoom wants to build a mobile-first photo-editing app that doesn’t lazily borrow Photoshop’s metaphors and interface elements. “What would be Photoshop if you could understand what’s on the photo,” Rouif said.

While the app relies heavily on templates, you can tweak your images by adding objects, moving them around, adding some shadow and editing elements individually. Image composition is 100% up to the user.

Like VSCO, Darkroom, PicsArt, Filmic Pro and Halide, PhotoRoom belongs to a group of prosumer apps that are tackling photo and video editing from different ways. A generation of users who grew up using visual social networks are now pushing the limits of those apps — they look simple when you first use them, but they offer a ton of depth when you learn what you can do with them. And they prove that smartphones can be great computers, beyond content consumption.

Rouif was the head of product at Stupeflix, a powerful video editing app that was acquired by GoPro back in 2016. PhotoRoom is just getting started as there are only four people working on the app, including two interns.

#apps, #europe, #france-newsletter, #mobile, #photoroom, #startups, #stupeflix

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Podcast app Majelan pivots to premium audio content around personal growth

French startup Majelan is pivoting a year after launching a podcast player and service. The company, created by former Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet and Arthur Perticoz, is ditching the podcast aggregation side of its business and focusing on premium audio content going forward.

Like many podcast startups, Majelan faced some criticism shortly after its launch. Aggregating free podcasts with premium content next to them à la Luminary is a controversial topic in the podcast community. Spotify has been going down the same path, but Spotify is also an order of magnitude bigger than any other podcast startup out there.

Some podcast creators have decided to remove their podcast feeds from Majelan to protest against that business model.

Podcasts remain an open format. Creators can create a feed, users can subscribe to that feed in their favorite podcast app. You don’t have to sign up to a particular service to access a particular podcast — everything is open.

“We have decided to stop aggregating free podcasts — free podcasts mean podcasts, period. For us, podcasts are RSS feeds, it’s an open world,” Perticoz said in a podcast episode. “We need an app that is more focused on payment. We can’t aggregate free podcasts given that our strategy is paid content.”

The result is a more focused service that is going to launch on July 7th in France. After a free trial, you have to subscribe for €5 to €7 per month, depending on the length of your subscription. You can then access a library of premium audio content — Majelan rightfully doesn’t call them podcasts.

“Going forward, we’re going to focus on original content, we’re going to focus 100% on paid content,” Gallet said in the same podcast episode.

And in order to be even more specific, Majelan will focus on personal growth, such as creativity, activism, mindfulness, innovation, entrepreneurship and health. According to the co-founders, some content will be produced in house, some content will be co-produced with other companies, and the startup will also acquire existing podcasts and repackage them for Majelan.

That move has been in the works for a while. The startup pitched it to its board of investors back in December. Premium subscriptions have worked well for movies, TV and music. Now let’s see if subscriptions will also take off with spoken-word audio.

#apps, #europe, #france-newsletter, #majelan, #mobile, #podcast, #startups

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Aircall raises $65 million for its cloud-based phone system

Aircall has raised a $65 million Series C round (€60.2 million) with DTCP leading the round, Adam Street participating and existing investors eFounders, Draper Esprit, Balderton and NextWorld injecting more money in the company. Overall, Aircall has raised $106 million.

Aircall is building a software-as-a-service company around phone calls. You could use it to operate a call center and handle support requests or to improve the workflow of your sales team, for instance.

“We raised two years ago and we’ve done exactly what we wanted to do over the past two years by creating an executive team and a strong leadership,” co-founder and COO Jonathan Anguelov told me.

When it comes to product, Aircall wants to differentiate itself from traditional call center solutions thanks to integrations with third-party services. For instance, you could see your call information in your CRM to see if somebody on your team has already followed up on a lead. Or you could initiate a phone call from Zendesk if there’s an urgent support request.

More recently, the company has launched integrations with Chorus.ai and Gong for demanding customers operating call center. With those integrations, you can get transcriptions and analyze the sentiment of the conversation.

Over the past two years, Aircall has quadrupled its revenue and doubled the number of employees. While the company originally started in France, most of its revenue comes from the U.S. now. Aircall targets small and medium companies, from 10 to 1,000 people.

While the startup didn’t want to share information on its annual recurring revenue (ARR), Aircall says that its ARR is currently above the total cash burn of the past couple of years. Given that they raised $29 million and didn’t use all the money, that gives you an idea.

The company started reaching out to investors in January and ended up closing the round during the coronavirus outbreak. “We have done more than 3x on the valuation compared to the previous round,” Anguelov said

There are around 320 persons working for the company now. With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand with more developers, a bigger sales team and a new office in Australia.

#aircall, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups

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BlaBlaCar partners with scooter startup Voi to launch new BlaBla Ride app

Long-distance ride sharing startup BlaBlaCar announced that it is expanding to scooter sharing. But the company isn’t going to operate its own fleet of scooters. Instead, BlaBlaCar is partnering with Voi, a European e-scooter service that has raised $136 million over multiple rounds.

Voi operates in dozens of European cities including Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Over the next few weeks, Voi scooters will feature three different brands — Voi, BlaBlaCar and BlaBla Ride.

Existing Voi members will still be able to use the Voi app. But BlaBlaCar also plans to launch its own app, BlaBla Ride. Existing BlaBlaCar users will be able to log in with their BlaBlaCar accounts.

According to AFP, BlaBlaCar says it isn’t a financial transaction — it’s just a partnership that could benefit users of both platforms.

BlaBlaCar has launched several new services over the past couple of years. It has acquired Ouibus and rebranded it to BlaBlaBus. It operates a carpooling marketplace for daily commutes between your home and your workplace called BlaBlaLines.

Interestingly, unlike Grab, Gojek and Uber, BlaBlaCar isn’t building a super app to access several different services. BlaBlaLines is still a separate app for instance. It creates some friction for users that could be interested in multiple services.

The company thinks BlaBla Ride could be a great solution for the last mile of your ride. A bus or carpooling driver could drop you off in the city center and you could then unlock a scooter to reach your destination.

#blabla-ride, #blablacar, #europe, #france-newsletter, #startups, #voi

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France’s data protection watchdog reviews contact-tracing app StopCovid

France's data protection watchdog CNIL has released its second review of StopCovid, the contact-tracing app backed by the French government. The CNIL says there’s no major issue with the technical implementation and legal framework around StopCovid, with some caveats.

France isn’t relying on Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API. Instead, a group of research institutes and private companies have worked on a separate solution.

At the heart of StopCovid, there’s a centralized contact-tracing protocol called ROBERT. It relies on a central server to assign a permanent ID and generate ephemeral IDs attached to this permanent ID. Your phone collects the ephemeral IDs of other app users around you. When somebody is diagnosed COVID-19-positive, the server receives all the ephemeral IDs associated with people with whom they’ve interacted. If one or several of your ephemeral IDs get flagged, you receive a notification.

ROBERT has been a controversial topic as it isn’t an anonymous system — it relies on pseydonymization. It means that you have to trust your government that it isn’t collecting too much information and it doesn’t plan to put names on permanent IDs.

But the CNIL says that ROBERT focuses on exposed users instead of users who are diagnosed COVID-19-positive — it is “a choice that protects the privacy of those persons,” the agency says. The CNIL also says that ROBERT tries to minimize data collection as much as possible.

Inria released a small portion of the source code that is going to power StopCovid a couple of weeks ago. The research institute originally said that some parts wouldn’t be open-sourced. The CNIL contested this decision and Inria has now reversed its stance and the government promises that everything will be released, eventually.

The StopCovid development team is also launching a bug bounty program in partnership with YesWeHack following recommendations from France’s national cybersecurity agency (ANSSI).

On the legal front, the draft decree excludes data aggregation in general. For instance, the government won’t be able to generate a heat map based on StopCovid data — StopCovid doesn’t collect your location anyway.

The CNIL says that the government promises that there won’t be any negative consequence if you’re not using StopCovid, nor any privilege if you’re using it. The government also promises that you’ll be able to delete pseudonymized data from the server. All of this is still ‘to be confirmed’ with the final decree.

Finally, the CNIL recommends some changes when it comes to informing users about data collection and data retention — it’s hard to understand what happens with your data right now. There should be some specific wording for underage people and their parents as well.

In other news, the government has sent me some screenshots of the app. Here’s what it looks like on iOS:

France’s digital minister, Cédric O, will be in front of parliament members tomorrow to debate the pros and cons of StopCovid. It’s going to be interesting to see whether the French government has managed to convince parliament members that a contact-tracing app is useful to fight the spread of COVID-19.

#cnil, #contact-tracing, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #france-newsletter, #policy, #privacy, #stopcovid

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Headless CMS company Strapi raises another $10 million

Strapi, the company behind the popular open-source headless CMS also called Strapi, has raised a $10 million Series A round led by Index Ventures. The company previously raised a $4 million seed round led by Accel and Stride.vc in October 2019.

Strapi is a headless content management system, which means that the back end and the front end operate totally separately. You can run Strapi on your own server and write content and pages for your site by connecting to Strapi’s admin interface.

After that, the front-end part of your application can fetch content from your Strapi instance using an API and display it to your customers and readers.

There are many advantages in separating the front end from the back end. First, it gives you a ton of flexibility when it comes to displaying your content. You can use a popular front-end framework, such as React, Vue and Angular, or develop your own custom front end.

When you want to update the design of your site, you can just switch from one front end to another with Strapi running like usual behind the scene.

Similarly, it offers more flexibility when it comes to server architecture. For instance, you could also leverage Strapi to build static websites and distribute them using a content delivery network, such as Cloudflare or AWS Cloudfront. You could imagine using Gatsby combined with a CDN to deploy your site on the edge. Most of your traffic will go through your CDN instead of hitting your servers directly.

Additionally, Strapi can be used to distribute content to different front ends. For instance, you could use a Strapi instance for the content of your website and your mobile app.

Strapi proves that eventually everything becomes an API. Sure, a headless CMS is probably overkill for most projects. But if you’re running a large scale application, Strapi can fit nicely in your architecture. Companies using Strapi include IBM, NASA and Walmart.

Many well-known open-source business angels have also invested in Strapi, such as Augusto Marietti and Marco Palladino from Kong, David Cramer from Sentry, Florian Douetteau from Dataiku, Solomon Hykes from Docker, Guillermo Rauch from Cloudup, Socket.io, Next.js and Zeit.co, and Eli Collins from Cloudera.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #startups, #strapi

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Algolia gets a new CEO as founder steps down

Search-as-a-service startup Algolia is announcing some changes at the helm of the startup. Co-founder and CEO Nicolas Dessaigne is transitioning to a non-operational role at the company. He’ll still be a board member, but Bernadette Nixon is joining the company to take on the CEO position.

Algolia is building a search engine API. The company doesn’t want to build the next Google. Instead, it wants to power the search box on your website or app with instant letter-by-letter search results.

The company is managing the search feature on Slack, Stripe, Under Armour, Twitch and 9,000 other companies. At its current run rate, Algolia processes 1.2 trillion searches a year. The company says it touches 1 in 6 web users each day.

“The story started right after the Series C,” Dessaigne told me. Algolia raised a $110 million Series C round at the end of 2019. “I was super excited but what was most exciting for me was the potential of the company.”

“Someone with more go-to-market experience would probably be a better person at achieving that potential,” he continued.

I asked more directly whether the decision to replace him as CEO came from the board of the company or not. “It really started on my side. The board was supportive of the decision but it didn’t come from them,” he said.

Nixon was previously the CEO of Alfresco, the company that developed an open source enterprise content-management startup that was acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2018. In the past, she held various positions as chief revenue officer, executive vice president of sales and senior vice president of corporate sales in different software companies.

As you can see, Nixon has a ton of experience when it comes to sales and operations in general. Her experience will be valuable when it comes to scaling the startup.

“I’m excited to be now part of the Algolia team and to be leading the company as of today,” Nixon told me. Accel, the VC firm that led the Series C round in Algolia, was also an investor in Alfresco.

The transition is going to take a couple of months and Dessaigne will stick around until July. He says that he doesn’t have any concrete plan about what he’s going to do next.

Over the past year, Algolia has been ramping up executive hires. Jean-Louis Baffier joined as chief revenue officer, Ashley Stirrup joined as chief marketing officer, Kristie Rodenbush joined as chief people officer and Iain Hassall joined as chief financial officer. In other words, Algolia is growing up and preparing for the next phase. Now let’s see if it leads to an IPO or an acquisition by a bigger player.

#algolia, #enterprise, #europe, #france-newsletter, #startups, #tc

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Pennylane is an accounting service that improves your financial visibility

Meet Pennylane, a new French startup that is a building a full-stack service to deal with your financial data. With Pennylane, you get a real-time view of your financial data and you don’t have to work with an accounting company — the startup hires accountants for you.

The startup just raised a $4.3 million (€4 million) seed round with Global Founders Capital, Partech and Kima Ventures. Pennylane’s founders previously worked on PriceMatch, a startup that was acquired by Booking.com in 2015.

“We invested in 25 to 30 startups — we went to see them and asked them what was missing,” Pennylane co-founder Arthur Waller told me. The team realized that there was a big discrepancy between accountants and CEOs.

Many companies work with third-party accounting companies but don’t see the direct benefits of that relationship beyond complying with the law. And yet, accountants have access to all the financial data of the company.

Usually, accountants receive data once a month in a very unstructured way. They waste a ton of time entering data in accounting software. As for companies, a CEO doesn’t know how to use accounting software and can’t take advantage of the accountant’s work to see if there’s any outstanding invoice, if clients haven’t been billed or how your company is doing financially.

That’s why many companies end up using Excel for financial projections and visibility. It’s a big waste of time as you need to connect to multiple services to download invoices, receipts, pay slips and more.

Pennylane aggregates all your financial information using APIs. You set it once and your data is automatically fetched in Pennylane. For instance, you can connect your Pennylane account with your bank account, Stripe, GoCardless, Revolut, PayFit, etc. And if you store your invoices on Google Drive, you can also connect Pennylane with your Google Drive account.

The service then tries to go through this data set on its own as much as much as possible. The company uses optical character recognition and pre-fills accounting information. The result is that companies get a clear overview of their financial data.

“Software alone isn’t going to solve that problem,” Waller said. So Pennylane has hired eight accountants who can check data, correct information if there’s anything wrong and make sure you comply with the law.

By saving time on data entry, accountants can focus on other tasks that they couldn’t handle in the past. “We want to provide a service at the same price as a traditional accounting service but that is ten times better,” Waller said.

The company started accepting customers in March and now has 117 customers, such as Luko, Liberkeys and Pricemoov. Pennylane targets medium companies, those that need to outsource their accounting because it is too complicated but don’t have an in-house accountant.

#accounting, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #saas, #startups

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E-bike startup Angell partners with SEB for manufacturing and investment

French startup Angell has signed a wide-ranging partnership with SEB, the French industrial company behind All-Clad, Krups, Moulinex, Rowenta, Tefal and others. As part of the deal, SEB will manufacture Angell’s electric bikes in a factory in Is-sur-Tille near Dijon, France.

SEB’s investment arm, SEB Alliance, is also investing in Angell . The terms of the deal are undisclosed, but Angell says it plans to raise between $7.6 and $21.7 million (between €7 and €20 million) with a group of investors that include SEB.

“We originally planned to manufacture 1,500 bikes in 2020,” Angell founder Marc Simoncini told me. “We realized that we were selling more bikes than expected. We now expect to sell 10,000 bikes.”

Angell has accepted 2,000 pre-orders over the past six months — 75% in France and 25% from the rest of the world. But pre-orders accelerated drastically with the lockdown in France. During the month of May, Angell expects to sell three times more bikes than during an average month.

Originally, Angell planned to build its own factory and assemble bikes itself. SEB is allocating 25 employees on the production line and production should start at the end of May. It should definitely make things move faster and reduce potential delays.

Angell unveiled its smart electric bike in November 2019. It has a 2.4-inch touch screen, an aluminum frame, integrated lights and a removable battery.

Like other connected bikes from Cowboy and VanMoof, it pairs with your phone using Bluetooth. This way, the Angell bike has an integrated lock and alarm system. There are also an integrated GPS chip and cellular modem to track it if it ever gets stolen.

But Angell is going one step further with the integrated display. You can select the level of assistance and display information on the screen, such as speed, calories, battery level and distance. It can also display turn-by-turn directions. Your handlebar also vibrates to indicate when you’re supposed to turn left or right.

The company is also announcing a second model this week, the Angell/S. It is a smaller, lighter version of the bike with a step-through frame. Both models feature the same battery, same motor and same electronics. They also both cost €2,690 ($2,900).

Angell now expects to deliver the first batch of bikes in July. By the end of the summer, new customers should be able to order a bike and get delivered within 10 days. Eventually, the company will also roll out a full line of accessories, such as fenders, baskets and mirrors.

#angell, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #gadgets, #marc-simoncini, #startups

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France passes law forcing online platforms to delete hate speech content within 24 hours

France’s lower chamber of the parliament has voted in favor of a controversial law against hate speech on social networks and online platforms. As I described last year, online platforms will have to remove illicit content that has been flagged within 24 hours. Otherwise, companies will have to pay hefty fines every time they infringe the law.

What do they mean by illicit content? Essentially, anything that would be considered as an offense or a crime in the offline world is now considered as illicit content when it’s an online platform. Among other things, you could think about death threats, discrimination, Holocaust denial…

For the most extreme categories, terrorist content and child pornography, online platforms have to react within an hour.

While online hate speech has been getting out of control, many fear that online platforms will censor content a bit too quickly. Companies don’t want to risk a fine so they might delete content that doesn’t infringe the law just because they’re not sure.

Essentially, online platforms have to regulate themselves. The government then checks whether they’re doing a good job or not. “It’s just like banking regulators. They check that banks have implemented systems that are efficient, and they audit those systems. I think that’s how we should think about it,” France’s digital minister Cédric O told me in an interview last year.

There are multiple levels of fines. It starts at hundreds of thousand of euros but it can reach up to 4% of the global annual revenue of the company with severe cases. The Superior Council of the Audiovisual (CSA) is the regulator in charge of those cases.

Germany has already passed similar regulation and there are ongoing discussions at the European Union level.

#europe, #france, #france-newsletter, #hate-speech, #policy

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