Education non-profit Edraak ignored a student data leak for two months

Edraak, an online education non-profit, exposed the private information of thousands of students after uploading student data to an unprotected cloud storage server, apparently by mistake.

The non-profit, founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania and headquartered in the kingdom’s capital, was set up in 2013 to promote education across the Arab region. The organization works with several partners, including the British Council and edX, a consortium set up by Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.

In February, researchers at U.K. cybersecurity firm TurgenSec found one of Edraak’s cloud storage servers containing at least tens of thousands of students’ data, including spreadsheets with students’ names, email addresses, gender, birth year, country of nationality, and some class grades.

TurgenSec, which runs Breaches.UK, a site for disclosing security incidents, alerted Edraak to the security lapse. A week later, their email was acknowledged by the organization but the data continued to spill. Emails seen by TechCrunch show the researchers tried to alert others who worked at the organization via LinkedIn requests, and its partners, including the British Council.

Two months passed and the server remained open. At its request, TechCrunch contacted Edraak, which closed the servers a few hours later.

In an email this week, Edraak chief executive Sherif Halawa told TechCrunch that the storage server was “meant to be publicly accessible, and to host public course content assets, such as course images, videos, and educational files,” but that “student data is never intentionally placed in this bucket.”

“Due to an unfortunate configuration bug, however, some academic data and student information exports were accidentally placed in the bucket,” Halawa confirmed.

“Unfortunately our initial scan did not locate the misplaced data that made it there accidentally. We attributed the elements in the Breaches.UK email to regular student uploads. We have now located these misplaced reports today and addressed the issue,” Halawa said.

The server is now closed off to public access.

It’s not clear why Edraak ignored the researchers’ initial email, which disclosed the location of the unprotected server, or why the organization’s response was not to ask for more details. When reached, British Council spokesperson Catherine Bowden said the organization received an email from TurgenSec but mistook it for a phishing email.

Edraak’s CEO Halawa said that the organization had already begun notifying affected students about the incident, and put out a blog post on Thursday.

Last year, TurgenSec found an unencrypted customer database belonging to U.K. internet provider Virgin Media that was left online by mistake, containing records linking some customers to adult and explicit websites.

More from TechCrunch:


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#articles, #british-council, #ceo, #computing, #cyberspace, #education, #edx, #email, #harvard, #jordan, #linkedin, #mit, #online-education, #phishing, #security, #server, #spamming, #spokesperson, #stanford, #united-kingdom, #virgin-media, #web-server

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Nonobvious acquisitions are on my 2021 bingo board

At the end of 2020, I argued that edtech needs to think bigger in order to stay relevant after the pandemic. I urged founders to think less about how to bundle and unbundle lecture experience, and more about how to replace outdated systems and methods with new, tech-powered solutions. In other words, don’t simply put engaging content on a screen, but innovate on what that screen looks like, tracks and offers.

A few months into 2021, the exit environment in edtech…feels like it’s doing exactly that. The same startups that hit billion and multi-billion valuations during the pandemic are scooping up new talent to broaden their service offerings.

Ruben Harris, the founder of Career Karma, a platform that matches aspiring coding professionals to bootcamps, put together a massive report recently with his team to talk about the pandemic’s impact on the bootcamp market.

James Gallagher, the author of the report, tells me:

It is important to note that the full potential of bootcamps has not yet been realised. We are now seeing more exploration of niches like technology sales which provide gateways into new careers in tech for people who otherwise may not have been able to acquire training. To scale such models, new businesses will need venture capital.

He went on to explain how a notable acquisition from 2020 was K12 scooping up Galvanize, “which would give K12 exposure into corporate training and the coding bootcamp space, a market outside of K12’s focus at the moment.”

To me this report signal two things: the financial interest in boot camps isn’t simply stemming from other bootcamps (although that is happening), but it’s surprising partnerships. Leaving this subsector, we see creative acquisitions such as a Roblox for edtech buying a language learning tool, and a startup known for flashcards scooping up a tech tutoring service.

Readers should know by this point that I love a nonobvious acquisition (except when this almost happened), so if you have any more tips on coming deals in edtech, please Signal me or direct message me on Twitter.

I’ll end with this: Successful startup founders are innately ambitious, finding opportunity in moonshots and convincing others that the odds are in their favor. However, the ceiling for what defines ambition heightens almost everyday. What used to be a win is now a nonnegotiable, and a feat is only a feat until your competitor hits the exact same milestone.

Acquisitions are one way to scoop up competition and synergistic talent, but it’s what happens next that matters the most.

In the rest of this newsletter, we will talk about Clubhouse competitors, how a homegrown experiment became one of the fastest growing companies in fitness tech and a cool-down in public markets (?!). As always, you can get this newsletter in your inbox each Saturday morning, so subscribe here to join the cool kids.

Clubhouse might create billions in value, but could capture none of it

Remember when everyone was buzzing around about building Stories? That’s so pre-pandemic. A number of companies recently announced plans to build their own versions of Clubhouse, after the buzzy app unearthed the consumer love for audio.

Here’s what to know: It might be easier to start guessing who isn’t building a Clubhouse clone at this point. Our predictions are already starting, but jokes aside, the rise in clones could mean that Clubhouse might have to make a run for its pre-monetized money (cough, cough, Twitter spaces). It doesn’t matter if a startup is first in unlocking a key insight, all that matters is who executes that key insight the best.

Image Credits: Getty Images

A strong unicorn, literally

Tonal, a fitness tech startup, became a unicorn this week after raising a new tranche of capital.

Here’s what to know: The new status underscores market growth for at-home fitness solutions. And while we don’t have a Tonal S-1 yet, we do have a Tonal EC-1. EC-1’s are TechCrunch’s riff on an S-1, and are essentially a deep dive into a company.

Reporter JP Mangalindan wrote thousands and thousands of words about Tonal, from its origin story to business model, its focus on communities and its biggest hurdles ahead.

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Initial public o….no

You’ve probably had a better week than Compass, Deliveroo and Kaltura. The three companies all had different events that illustrate a potential damper on the part that has been the public markets.

Here’s what to know: Compass cut its shares and lowered pricing of said shares, Deliveroo had a rough debut as a delivery company on the public markets, and Kaltura postponed its IPO after valuation demand didn’t hit expectations.

In other news, though:

Photo Taken In Arizona, United States. Image Credits: Jure Batagelj / 500px / Getty Images

Around TechCrunch

Thanks to everyone who tuned in to TechCrunch Early Stage! If you enjoyed the event (or missed it), don’t worry: Disrupt is almost here.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

How startups can go passwordless, thanks to zero trust

Tips for founders thinking about doing a remote accelerator

US iPhone users spent an average of $138 on apps in 2020, will grow to $180 in 2021

Niantic CEO shares teaser image of AR glasses device

The Weeknd will sell an unreleased song and visual art via NFT auction

Seen on Extra Crunch

Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace

5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox

E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods

How our SaaS startup improved net revenue retention by more than 30 points in two quarters

#clubhouse, #compass, #coursera, #deliveroo, #discord, #edtech, #education, #ipo, #linkedin, #spotify, #startups, #startups-weekly, #swell, #tc

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Clubhouse will create billions in value and capture none of it

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

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. It was a busy week on the IPO front, Danny was buried in getting the Tonal EC-1 out, and Natasha took some time off. But the host trio managed to prep and record a show that was honestly a kick to record, and we think, a pleasure to listen to!

So, for your morning walk, here’s what we have for you:

It was a mix of laughs, ‘aha’ moments, and honest conversations about how complex ambition in startups should be. One listener the other day mentioned to us that the pandemic made it harder to carve out time for podcasts, since listening was often reserved for commutes. We get it, and in true scrappy fashion, we’re curious how you’ve adapted to remote work and podcasts. Let us know how you tune into Equity via Twitter and remember that we’re thankful for your ears!

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

#cameo, #clubhouse, #discord, #equity, #equity-podcast, #funding, #fundings-exits, #harlem-capital, #linkedin, #mac-venture-capital, #media, #miami, #microsoft-excel, #pipe, #podcasts, #spotify, #startups, #substack

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LinkedIn confirms it’s working on a Clubhouse rival, too

Clubhouse’s list of competitors is growing. LinkedIn has now confirmed it’s also testing a social audio experience in its app which would allow creators on its network to connect with their community. Unlike the Clubhouse rivals being built by Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn believes its audio networking feature will be differentiated because it will be connected with users’ professional identity, not just a social profile. In addition, the company has already built out a platform that serves the creator community, which today has access to tools like Stories, LinkedIn Live video broadcasting, newsletters and more.

And just today, LinkedIn formalized some of its efforts in this area with the launch a new “Creator” mode that lets anyone set their profile as one that can be followed for updates, like Stories and LinkedIn Live videos, for example.

This focus on creators puts LinkedIn on competitive footing in terms of expanding its own Clubhouse rival, compared with other efforts by Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, or Discord — all of which have their own audio-based networking features in various stages development at this time.

Though Twitter’s Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, is already live in beta testing, its full set of creator tools have yet to arrive. In fact, it was only last month that Twitter announced its plans for a larger creator subscription platform via a new “Super Follow” feature, for instance. And it only this year entered the newsletter space via an acquisition. Facebook, meanwhile, has historically offered a number of creator-focused features, but has just recently gotten invested in tools like newsletters.

LinkedIn says its development of an audio-based networking feature came about because its members and creatives have been asking for more ways to communicate on its platform.

“We’re seeing nearly 50% growth in conversations on LinkedIn reflected in stories, video shares, and posts on the platform,” a LinkedIn spokesperson said, when confirming its audio feature’s development. “We’re doing some early tests to create a unique audio experience connected to your professional identity. And, we’re looking at how we can bring audio to other parts of LinkedIn such as events and groups, to give our members even more ways to connect to their community,” they said.

As a result of creators’ interest in this space, the company moved quickly to develop its own Clubhouse-like feature, where there’s a stage showcasing the room’s speakers and a set of listeners below. There are also tools to join and leave the room, react to comments, and request to speak, according to screenshots of the interface first discovered in the LinkedIn Android app by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi.

Note that Paluzzi populated the user interface with his own profile icon, shown in the image he tweeted. That is not part of the LinkedIn mockup. Instead, LinkedIn shared its own conceptual UX mockup of its in-room experiences with TechCrunch, which shows a more fleshed out example of how the feature may look at launch.

Image Credits: LinkedIn

LinkedIn believes that because the audio experience will be connected with users’ professional identities, they’ll feel comfortable speaking, commenting and otherwise engaging with the content, the company told TechCrunch. It will also be able to leverage its existing investment in moderation tools built for other features — like LinkedIn Live — to help to address any concerns over inappropriate or harmful discussions, like those that have already plagued Clubhouse.

“Our priority is to build a trusted community where people feel safe and can be productive,” a spokesperson noted. “Our members come to LinkedIn to have respectful and constructive conversations with real people and we’re focused on ensuring they have a safe environment to do just that,” they said.

Plus, LinkedIn says that audio networking makes for a natural extension of other areas, like Groups and Events — areas for networking that have continued to grow, and particularly during the pandemic.

In 2020, some 21 million people attended an event on LinkedIn, and overall LinkedIn sessions increased by 30% year-over-year. The company’s 740 million global members also last year built community, had conversations, and shared knowledge, with 4.8 billion connections made.

Like many companies which saw a pandemic boost, LinkedIn believes the pandemic only accelerated the natural progression towards online networking, remote work, and virtual events, which were already in place before lockdowns. For example, LinkedIn says that more than 60% of its members were working remotely by the end of 2020, versus 8% before the pandemic. LinkedIn believes the shift will stick, as more than half the world’s workforce is expected to continue working from home at least some of the time, even after the pandemic comes to an end.

That leaves room for new forms of online networking to grow, as well, including audio experiences.

LinkedIn doesn’t yet have an exact timeframe for its launch of the audio networking feature, but says it will begin beta testing soon.

#audio, #audio-networking, #clubhouse, #linkedin, #microsoft, #tc

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Will moving, ‘spacial video’ start to eat into square-box Zoom calls? SpatialChat thinks so

With most of us locked into a square video box on platforms like Zoom, the desire to break away and perhaps wander around a virtual space is strong. These new ways of presenting people – as small circles of videos placed in a virtual space where they can move around – has appeared in various forms, like ‘virtual bars’ for the last few months during global pandemic lockdowns. Hey, I even went to a few virtual bars myself! Although the drinks from my fridge could have been better…

The advantage of this spatial approach is it gives a lot more ‘agency’ to the user. You feel, at least, a bit more in control, as you can make a ‘physical’ choice as to where you go, even if it is only still a virtual experience.

Now SpatialChat, one of the first startups with that approach which launched on ProductHunt in April last year, is upping the game with a new design and the feature of persistent chats. The product debuted on ProductHunt on April 20, 2020, and rose to No. 3 app of the day. The web-based platform has been bootstrapped the founders with their own resources.

SpatialChat now adding a special tier and features for teams running town hall meetings and virtual offices, and says it now has more than 3,000 organizations as paying customers, with more than 200,000 total monthly active users.

The startup is part of a virtual networking space being populating by products such as
Teamflow, Gather, and Remo. Although it began as a online networking events service, its now trying to re-position as a forum for multi-group discussions, all the way up from simple stand-up meetings to online conferences.

SpatialChat uses a mix of ‘proximity’ video chats, screen sharing, and rooms for up to 50 people. It’s now putting in pricing plans for regular, weekly, and one-time use cases. It says it’s seen employees at Sony, Panasonic, Sega, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and McKinsey, as well as educators and staff at 108 American universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and MIT, use the platform.

Almas Abulkhairov, CEO and Co-founder of SpatialChat says: “Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams represent a virtual office for many teams but most of our customers say these apps aren’t a good fit for that. They don’t provide the same serendipity of thought you get working shoulder to shoulder and “Zoom fatigue” became a term for a reason. We want to bring the best from offline work.”

Konstantin Krasov, CPO at DataSouls, who used the platform, said: “We had 2500 people in attendance during a 2-day event that we hosted for our community of 50,000 Data Scientists. SpatialChat enabled us to make a cool networking event, Q/A and AMA with thought leaders in data science.”

#computing, #europe, #harvard, #linkedin, #mckinsey, #microsoft, #microsoft-teams, #mit, #panasonic, #salesforce, #software, #sony, #stanford, #tc, #web-conferencing, #workplace, #yale, #zoom

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Bessemer Venture Partners closes on $3.3 billion across two funds

Another major VC firm has closed two major rounds, underscoring the long-term confidence investors continue to have for backing privately-held companies in the tech sector.

Early-stage VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners announced Thursday the close of two new funds totaling $3.3 billion that it will be using both to back early-stage startups as well as growth rounds for more mature companies.

The Redwood City-based firm closed BVP XI with $2.475 billion and BVP Century II with $825 million in total commitments.

With BVP XI, it plans to focus on early-stage companies spanning across enterprise, consumer, healthcare, and frontier technologies. 

Its Century II fund is aimed at backing growth-stage companies that Bessemer believes “will define the next century,” and will include both follow-on rounds for existing portfolio companies or investments in new ones.

BVP XI marks Bessemer’s largest fund in its 110-year history. In October 2018, the firm brought in $1.85 billion for its tenth flagship VC fund. This latest fund is its fifth consecutive billion-dollar fund, based on PitchBook data. 

Despite being founded more than 100 years ago, Bessemer didn’t actually enter the venture business until 1965. It’s known for its investments in LinkedIn, Blue Apron and many others, with a current portfolio that includes PagerDuty, Shippo, Electric and DocuSign. Exits include Twitch and Shopify, among many others.

With more money than ever before available for backing startups, the challenge now for VCs is to see how and if they can find (and invest in) whatever will define the next generation of tech. 

“As venture capitalists, we pay too much attention to pattern recognition and matching when in reality, the biggest opportunities exist where those patterns break,” the firm wrote in a blog post today. “Our job is to make perceptive bets on the future, especially those that others will dismiss and ridicule. We are fundamental optimists and strong believers in the power of innovation; our life’s work is putting our reputation, time, and money to help entrepreneurs realize a different future. They’re the ones pioneering something entirely new and obscure – a technology, a business model, a category.

In addition to announcing the new funds, Bessemer also revealed today that it’s brought on five new partners including Jeff Blackburn, who joins after a 22-year career at Amazon, alongside the promotion of existing investors Mary D’Onofrio, Mike Droesch, Tess Hatch, and Andrew Hedin.

Most recently at Amazon, Blackburn served as senior vice president of worldwide business development where he oversaw dozens of Amazon’s minority investments and more than 100 acquisitions across all business lines – including retail, Kindle, Echo, Alexa, FireTV, advertising, music, streaming audio & video, and Amazon Web Services.  

“Having been part of Amazon for more than two decades, I’m excited to begin a new chapter helping customer-focused founders build breakthrough companies,” said Blackburn in a written statement.  “I’ve known the Bessemer team for many years and have long admired their strategic vision and success backing early-stage ventures.” 

With the latest changes, Bessemer now has 21 partners and over 45 investors, advisors, and platform “team members” located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, London, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, and Beijing. 

“At Bessemer, there’s no corner office or consensus; every partner has the choice, independently, to pen a check. This kind of accountability and autonomy means a founder is teaming up with a partner and board director who thoroughly understands your business and can respond quickly and decisively,” the firm’s blog post read.

Bessemer’s task is all the more difficult because there is more competition than ever before to get into the best deals.

TCV closed on a record $4 billion fund to invest in e-commerce, fintech, edtech, travel and more in late January.

Last November, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)  closed a pair of funds totaling $4.5 billion. The firm raised $1.3 billion for an early-stage fund focused on consumer, enterprise and fintech; and closed a $3.2 billion growth-stage fund for later-stage investments.

And, last April, Insight, the firm that has backed the likes of Twitter and Shopify and invests across a range of consumer and enterprise startups, announced it had closed a fund of $9.5 billion, money it said it would be using to support startups and “scale-ups” (larger and older startups that are still private) in the coming months.

Although BVP is one of the older firms in the valley, there have been a new wave of investors, some like SoftBank with very deep pockets, and others will less money but a lot of credibility, so it will be interesting to see how these next two funds play out for the firm.

#bessemer, #bessemer-venture-partners, #bvp, #healthcare, #linkedin, #mary-donofrio, #mike-droesch, #money, #pagerduty, #redwood-city, #shopify, #tess-hatch, #venture-capital

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With a reported deal in the wings for Joby Aviation, electric aircraft soars to $10B business

One year after nabbing $590 million from investors led by Toyota, and a few months after picking up Uber’s flying taxi businessJoby Aviation is reportedly in talks to go public in a SPAC deal that would value the electric plane manufacturer at nearly $5.7 billion.

News of a potential deal comes on the heels of another big SPAC transaction in electric planes, for Archer Aviation. If the Financial Times‘ reporting is accurate, then that would mean that the two will soon be publicly traded at a total value approaching $10 billion.

It’s a heady time for startups making vehicles powered by anything other than hydrocarbons, and the SPAC wave has hit it hard.

Electric car companies Arrival, Canoo, ChargePoint, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, Proterra and The Lion Electric Company are some of the companies that have merged with SPACs — or announced plans to — in the past year.

Now it appears that any company that has anything to do with the electrification of any mode of transportation is going to get waved onto the runway for a public listing through a special purpose acquisition company vehicle — a wildly popular route at the moment for companies that might find traditional IPO listings more challenging to carry out but would rather not stay in startup mode when it comes to fundraising.

The investment group reportedly taking Joby to the moon! out to public markets is led by the billionaire tech entrepreneurs and investors Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, and Mark Pincus, who launched the casual gaming company, Zynga.

Together the two men had formed Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company, earlier in 2020. The shell company went public and raised $690 million to make a deal.

Any transaction for Joby would be a win for the company’s backers including Toyota, Baillie Gifford, Intel Capital, JetBlue Technology Ventures (the investment arm of the US-based airline), and Uber, which invested $125 million into Joby.

Joby has a prototype that has already taken 600 flights, but has yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. And the success of any transaction between the company and Hoffman and Pincus’ SPAC group is far from a sure thing, as the FT noted.

The deal would require an additional capital infusion into the SPAC that the two men established, and without that extra cash, all bets are off. Indeed, that is probably one reason why anyone is reading about this now.

Alternatively powered transportation vehicles of all stripes and covering all modes of travel are the rage right now among the public investment crowd. Part of that is due to rising pressure among institutional investors to find companies with an environmental, sustainability, and good governance thesis that they can invest in, and part of that is due to tailwinds coming from government regulations pushing for the decarbonization of fleets in a bid to curb global warming.

The environmental impact is one chief reason that United chief executive Scott Kirby cited when speaking about his company’s $1 billion purchase order from the electric plane company that actually announced it would be pursuing a public offering through a SPAC earlier this week.

“By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” Kirby said. “With the right technology, we can curb the impact aircraft have on the planet, but we have to identify the next generation of companies who will make this a reality early and find ways to help them get off the ground.”

It’s also an investment in a possible new business line that could eventually shuttle United passengers to and from an airport, as TechCrunch reported earlier. United projected that a trip in one of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50% per passenger traveling between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport.

The agreement to go public and the order from United Airlines comes less than a year after Archer Aviation came out of stealth. Archer was co-founded in 2018 by Adam Goldstein and Brett Adcock, who sold their software-as-a-service company Vettery to The Adecco Group for more than $100 million. The company’s primary backer was Marc Lore, who sold his company Jet.com to Walmart in 2016 for $3.3 billion. Lore was Walmart’s e-commerce chief until January.

For any SPAC investors or venture capitalists worried that they’re now left out of the EV plane investment bonanza, take heart! There’s still the German tech developer, Lilium. And if an investor is interested in supersonic travel, there’s always Boom.

#adam-goldstein, #airline, #baillie-gifford, #canoo, #chargepoint, #co-founder, #corporate-finance, #e-commerce, #economy, #evtol, #federal-aviation-administration, #finance, #fisker, #intel-capital, #investment, #jet-com, #jetblue-technology-ventures, #joby, #joby-aviation, #lilium, #linkedin, #lordstown-motors, #marc-lore, #mark-pincus, #private-equity, #proterra, #reid-hoffman, #reinvent-technology-partners, #software-as-a-service, #spacs, #special-purpose-acquisition-company, #tc, #the-adecco-group, #the-financial-times, #toyota, #transportation, #uber, #united-airlines, #vettery, #walmart, #zynga

0

Microsoft launches Viva, its new take on the old intranet

Microsoft today launched Viva, a new “employee experience platform,” or, in non-marketing terms, its new take on the intranet sites most large companies tend to offer their employees. This includes standard features like access to internal communications built on integrations with SharePoint, Yammer and other Microsoft tools. In addition, Viva also offers access to team analytics and an integration with LinkedIn Learning and other training content providers (including the likes of SAP SuccessFactors), as well as what Microsoft calls Viva Topics for knowledge sharing within a company.

If you’re like most employees, you know that your company spends a lot of money on internal communications and its accompanying intranet offerings — and you then promptly ignore that in order to get actual work done. But Microsoft argues that times are changing, as remote work is here to stay for many companies, even after the pandemic (hopefully) ends. Even if a small percentage of a company’s workforce remains remote or opts for a hybrid approach, those workers still need to have access to the right tools and feel like they are part of the company.

Image Credits: Microsoft

“We have participated in the largest at-scale remote work experiment the world has seen and it has had a dramatic impact on the employee experience,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a pre-recorded video. “As the world recovers, there is no going back. Flexibility in when, where and how we work will be key.”

He argues that every organization will require a unified employee experience platform that supports workers from their onboarding process to collaborating with their colleagues and continuing their education within the company. Yet as employees work remotely, companies are now struggling to keep their internal culture and foster community among employees. Viva aims to fix this.

Unsurprisingly, Viva is powered by Microsoft 365 and all of the tools that come with that, as well as integrations with Microsoft Teams, the company’s flagship collaboration service, and even Yammer, the employee communication tool it acquired back in 2012 and continues to support.

There are several parts to Viva: Viva Connections for accessing company news, policies, benefits and internal communities (powered by Yammer); Viva Learning for, you guessed it, accessing learning resources; and Viva Topics, the service’s take on company-wide knowledge sharing. For the most part, that’s all standard fair in any modern intranet, whether it’s from a startup provider or an established player like Jive.

Viva Insights feels like the odd one out here, especially after Microsoft’s kerfuffle around its Productivity Score. The idea here is to give managers insights into whether their team (but not individual team members) are at risk of burnout, for example, in order to encourage them to turn off notifications or set daily priorities (a good manager, I’d hope, could do this without analytics, but here we are, in 2021). It’s also meant to help company leaders “address complex challenges and respond to change by shedding light on organizational work patterns and trends.” Sure.

Because this is Microsoft in 2021, there’s also a lot of talk about employee well-being in today’s announcement. For most employees, that means fewer meetings, more focus time and turning off notifications after work. Obviously there are technical tools to help with that, but it’s really a question of company culture and management. I’m not sure you need analytics integrated with LinkedIn’s Glint for that, but you can now have those, too.

“As the world of work changes, the next horizon of innovation will come from a focus on creativity, engagement and well-being so organizations can build cultures of resilience and ingenuity,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Microsoft 365. “Our vision is to deliver a platform for the employee experience that helps organizations create a thriving culture with engaged employees and inspiring leaders.”

#computing, #enterprise, #human-resource-management, #intranet, #linkedin, #microsoft, #microsoft-viva, #recruitment, #satya-nadella, #sharepoint, #software, #successfactors, #yammer

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Marc Lore leaves Walmart a little over four years after selling Jet.com for $3B

Marc Lore, the executive vice president, president and CEO of U.S. e-commerce for Walmart, is stepping down a little over four years after selling his e-commerce company Jet.com to the country’s largest retailer for $3 billion.

Lore’s tenure at the company was a mixed bag. Walmart instituted several new technology initiatives under Lore’s tenure, but the Jet.com service was shuttered last May and other initiatives from Lore, like an option to have customers order items via text, was also a money-loser for the Bentonville, AK-based company.

“After Mr. Lore retires on January 31, 2021, the U.S. business, including all the aspects of US retail eCommerce, will continue to report to John Furner, Executive Vice President, President and Chief Executive Officer, Walmart U.S., beginning on February 1, 2021,” Walmart said in a filing.

Walmart has continued to push ahead with a number of tech-related initiatives, including the launch of a new business that will focus on developing financial services.

That initiative is being undertaken through a strategic partnership with the fintech investment firm, Ribbit Capital and adds to a startup tech portfolio that also includes the incubator Store N⁰8, which launched in 2018.

“Reflecting on the past few years with so much pride – Walmart changed my life and the work we did together will keep changing the lives of customers for years to come. It has been an honor to be a part of the Walmart family and I look forward to providing advice and ideas in the future,” Lore said in a statement posted to Linkedin. “Looking forward, I’ll be taking some time off and plan to continue working with several startups. Excited to keep you all up to date on what’s next.”

 

 

 

#alaska, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #financial-services, #jet-com, #linkedin, #marc-lore, #retail-ecommerce, #retailers, #ribbit-capital, #tc, #united-states, #walmart

0

App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of $143 billion, led by markets that included China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.

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

The increase in time spent is a trend that’s not unique to the U.S., but can be seen across several other countries, including both developing mobile markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India, as well as places like China, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Germany, France and others.

The trend isn’t isolated to any one demographic, either, but is seen across age groups. In the U.S., for example, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18% and 30% more time in their most-used apps year-over-year, respectively. However, what those favorite apps looked like was very different.

For Gen Z in the U.S., top apps on Android phones included Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, Roblox and Spotify.

Millennials favored Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

And Gen X/Baby Boomers used Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle and ColorNote Notepad Notes.

The pandemic didn’t necessarily change how consumers were using apps in 2020, but rather accelerated mobile adoption by two to three years’ time, the report found.

Investors were also eager to fuel mobile businesses as a result, pouring $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. According to Crunchbase data, 26% of total global funding dollars in 2020 went to businesses that included a mobile solution.

From 2016 to 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the previous five years, and was led by financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping.

Mobile gaming adoption also continued to grow in 2020. Casual games dominated the market in terms of downloads (78%), but Core games accounted for 66% of games’ consumer spend and 55% of the time spent.

With many stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, mobile games that offered social interaction boomed. Among Us, for example, became a breakout game in several markets in 2020, including the U.S.

Other app categories saw sizable increases over the past year, as well.

Time spent in Finance apps in 2020 was up 45% worldwide, outside of China, and participation in the stock market grew 55% on mobile, thanks to apps like Robinhood in the U.S. and others worldwide, that democratized investing and trading.

TikTok had a big year, too.

The app saw incredible 325% year-over-year growth, despite a ban in India, and ranked in the top five apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 65% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., surpassing Facebook. TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021, App Annie forecasts.

Other video services boomed in 2020, thanks to a combination of new market entrants and a lot of time spent at home. Consumers spent 40% more hours streaming on mobile devices, with time spent in streaming apps peaking in the second quarter in the west as the pandemic forced people inside.

YouTube benefitted from this trend, as it became the No. 1 streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed except China. The time spent in YouTube is up to 6x that of the next closet app at 38 hours per month.

Of course, another big story for 2020 was the rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic. This made the past year the biggest ever for mobile shopping, with an over 30% increase in time spent in Shopping apps, as measured on Android phones outside of China.

Mobile commerce, however, looked less traditional in 2020.

Social shopping was a big trend, with global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram growing 50% and 20% year-over-year, respectively.

Livestreaming shopping grew, too, led by China. Downloads of live shopping TaoBao Live in China, Grip in South Korea and NTWRK in the U.S. grew 100%, 245% and 85%, respectively. NTWRK doubled in size last year, and now others are entering the space as well — including TikTok, to some extent.

The pandemic also prompted increased usage of mobile ordering apps. In the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Indonesia and Russia, the app grew by 60%, 65%, 70%, 80% and 105%, respectively, in Q4.

Business apps, like Zoom and Google Meet among others, grew 275% in Q4, for example, as remote work and sometimes school, continued.

The analysis additionally included lists of the top apps by downloads, spending and monthly active users (MAUs).

Although TikTok had been topping year-end charts, Facebook continued to beat it in terms of MAUs. Facebook-owned apps controlled the top charts by MAUs, with Facebook at No. 1 followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok, however, had more downloads than Facebook and ranked No. 2 by consumer spending, behind Tinder.

The full report is available only as an online interactive experience this year, not a download. The report largely uses data from both the iOS App Store and Google Play, except where otherwise noted.

#amazon, #android, #app-annie, #apps, #argentina, #brazil, #china, #computing, #e-commerce, #facebook, #financial-services, #france, #freeware, #germany, #google, #india, #indonesia, #instagram, #japan, #kindle, #linkedin, #messenger, #mobile-app, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce, #mobile-device, #mobile-devices, #mobile-technology, #operating-systems, #pandora, #paypal, #pinterest, #roblox, #russia, #snapchat, #social-media, #software, #south-korea, #spotify, #the-weather-channel, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #video-services

0

H1’s Linkedin for the healthcare industry raises $58 million

The idea sounds almost too simple. Create a version of Linkedin that’s specifically for the healthcare industry, where professionals can find out not just who has what credentials, but also learn about the research those professionals are conducting and the specialties they have.

In the middle of a global pandemic, when industry insiders are all trying to find out who is an expert in particular fields of medicine that are most impacted by a novel virus spreading like wildfire around the world, that simple idea becomes a necessity.

That’s the situation that H1, a startup which just raised $58 million in new financing, found themselves in as the pandemic hit American shores earlier this year.

The company only graduated from Y Combinator in January, and now, less than a year later is closing on over $70 million in total financing.

Doubling down on its previous investment in the company is Menlo Ventures, which along with the growth stage investment firm, IVP, co-led the new financing for the company.

 

Their rationale for investing can be attributed to H1’s explosive growth. The company now has 250 employees after launching from Y Combinator just 12 months ago. Already a player in the US, H1 is looking to expand to Europe and Asia in 2021 and counts 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies as its clients. As of its last tally, the company already had profiles on over 9 million healthcare professionals worldwide.

According to one person with knowledge of the company’s fundraising history, Menlo Ventures was so pleased with the company’s performance that it offered tens of millions of dollars in pre-emptive financing.

“We have created a platform for the healthcare ecosystem to connect in the same way Linkedin connected professional workers in the early 2000’s. There hasn’t been a global platform like H1 before that has connected industry to the right doctors the way H1 does,” said H1 co-founder and CEO Ariel Katz. “This next round of funding, with our excellent investment group, including Menlo who has been a great partner for us, will help us continue to become the largest healthcare professional platform and ultimately create a healthier future.”

Menlo Ventures certainly thinks so.

“When we started working with H1, we could already see early evidence of product-market fit, including both early ‘beachhead’ pharma deals and good logo velocity in smaller biotechs. Feedback from customers was stellar, both in terms of product value and commitment to customer success by the H1 team,” wrote Menlo Ventures partner Greg Yap and JP Sanday in a blog post. “One of our diligence intros even turned into a multi-million dollar customer and investor. But H1 was clearly still at an early stage of maturity for supporting large demanding enterprise customers. Now, at the Series B, H1 has ramped up execution, winning 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies as customers and meeting top-tier venture metrics in gross retention, net retention, and sales efficiency.”

#asia, #companies, #europe, #greg-yap, #healthcare-industry, #ivp, #linkedin, #menlo-ventures, #pharmaceutical, #recruitment, #tc, #united-states, #y-combinator

0

Bicycle Health, the virtual opioid use disorder therapy service, will soon be available in 25 states

The startup opioid use disorder therapy service Bicycle Health will soon be available to patients in half the country, just three years after its launch in 2017, according to founder Ankit Gupta.

A serial entrepreneur whose last company, Pulse News, was acquired by LinkedIn back in 2013, Gupta left the LinkedIn in 2016 (around the time of the Microsoft acquisition) to pursue something more meaningful. He settled on trying to find a better way to address the opioid addiction epidemic, which was responsible for more than 42,000 deaths the year he left LinkedIn.

By 2018 deaths from overdoses would exceed 47,000, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

And the problem isn’t going away. Bicycle Health’s statistics indicate that 92 million Americans are potentially at risk for developing opioid use disorder and 2 million Americans are already diagnosed as opioid addicts.

Initially, the company worked out of a clinic in Redwood City, Calif., but as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the US earlier this year and forced treatment facilities to undertake preventative measures to stop the spread of the disease, Bicycle Health began adopting virtual treatment methods.

Under new regulations delivered by HHS, many therapies and drug treatments that had only been available in-person were able to be distributed remotely. The change caused an explosion in remote care services and companies like Bicycle Health rushed to capitalize.

The company is currently offering treatment options in 18 states and is on track to be available in 25 states by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Backing that growth are a slew of individual and institutional investors led by the venture investment firm, Signalfire, which led Bicycle Health’s seed round. In all, the company has raised roughly $5.5 million from investors including Signalfire, Hustle Fund, Romulus Capital, and individual investors like Jeff Weiner, the former chief executive of LinkedIn; Sami Inkinen, the founder of Virta Health; Rushika Fernandopulle, the founder of Iora Health; and John Simon, the co-founder of General Catalyst through his Greenlight Fund.

Bicycle Health both prescribes buprenorphine as a medical treatment and offers a team of health coaches to address the behavioral and mental health issues attendant with detoxifying.

There are three health coaches on staff to manage the care of the company’s current roster of 2,000 patients and those coaches are bolstered by 12 clinical support specialists, Gupta said.

Treatment is delivered and managed through the company’s mobile app, and is supplemented by regular in-home diagnostic testing to monitor a patient’s progress, according to Gupta.

Working with Goodrx, the company has been able to drive down over-the-counter costs for patients who don’t have healthcare, and Gupta said that Bicycle Health would be working with local and national healthcare providers to try and defray as much of the costs as the company can. 

“We want to subsidize the costs as much as possible for our patient,” he said.  

The goal, Gupta said in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year is “making sure that this industry is making sure that they’re helping people make a change instead of keeping them stuck.”

And although Gupta comes from a software industry whose guiding principle has been to move fast and break things, he realizes that healthcare doesn’t work that way. “Move fast and break things is the wrong mindset for healthcare,” he said. “You have to build a safe space … and i don’t mean a safe space legally but a safe space where patients can be served.”

#california, #co-founder, #disease, #drugs, #founder, #general-catalyst, #goodrx, #healthcare, #hustle-fund, #iora-health, #jeff-weiner, #linkedin, #microsoft, #opioids, #pulse-news, #redwood-city, #romulus-capital, #sami-inkinen, #serial-entrepreneur, #signalfire, #tc, #united-states, #virta-health

0

#Gastbeitrag – 10 Apps, die Berliner Gründer:innen wirklich nutzen – beruflich und privat


Die Pandemie hat UnternehmerInnen auf der ganzen Welt vor neue Herausforderungen gestellt: Sicherheit der Mitarbeiter, Digitalisierung und digitale Führung, sichere Vertragsabwicklung, Home Office und mehr. Diese 10 Apps haben sich für Unternehmer als besonders hilfreich erwiesen, um den beruflichen, aber auch den privaten Alltag organisieren und gestalten.

Mit dem Anfang November beschlossenen Lockdown Light müssen Menschen vielerorts auf viele Dinge verzichten, die im Normalfall den Kontakt mit Freunden, Familie aber auch Kollegen und Partnern bedeuten würde. Führungskräfte schultern zudem noch oft den Erhalt sowie die Führung der Firma selbst. Daraus ergeben sich logischerweise Herausforderungen für die Führung von Mitarbeitern, der Begleitung von wichtigen Projekten, aber auch der Umsetzung von kleinen Prozessen wie der Unterzeichnung eines neuen Arbeitsvertrages. Doch welche Apps nutzen Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer privat, um sich abzulenken, sich zu informieren oder sogar, um sich zu schützen?

Die Entrepreneurs Organisation in Berlin, das weltweit führende Peer-to-Peer-Netzwerk vereint in Berlin über 230 verschiedene Entrepreneure aus den verschiedensten Industrien. Das Netzwerk ist in Berlin als Chapter definiert und bietet eine Plattform für den hochqualitativen, vertrauensvollen Austausch über sowohl private als auch unternehmerische Meilensteine und Hürden. Auf Nachfrage haben die Gründerinnen und Gründer ihre Top-Tools für den beruflichen und privaten Alltag verraten.

Beruflich

#5 DocuSign

Arbeitsverträge digital unterzeichnen zu lassen, spart nicht nur Mühe und Porto, sondern vor allem auch Zeit. Mit Docusign lassen sich Verträge jeder Art schnell und sicher digital freigeben, weiterleiten und unterzeichnen. Im Zuge der Bedeutung von Sicherheit in der Pandemie ist das digitale Gegenzeichnen von Verträgen sicherlich noch immenser geworden. Entrepreneure, aber auch HR-Manager, schätzen hier den einfachen Prozess.

#4 Linkedin

Als Peer-to-Peer-Netzwerk in Berlin ist den EO-Mitgliedern bewusst, wie wertvoll und wichtig nicht nur Kontakte, sondern auch der regelmäßige Austausch ist, um sich zu verbessern und sich herauszufordern. Mit dem Kontaktverbot und den wachsenden Features der Plattform ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass Linkedin einen Platz auf dieser Liste verdient hat. Durch Updates ist es leicht, sich auf dem Laufenden zu halten, weiterhin sichtbar zu sein, neue Talente für das eigene Unternehmen zu finden und mehr Anbieter wechseln auf digitale Event- und Gesprächsformate für den Austausch. Ein persönliches Gespräch ersetzt dies zwar nicht, aber eine gute Zwischenlösung ist es dennoch.

#3 Evernote

Ein schneller Gedanke, ein To Do auf der Liste oder ein kleiner Reminder: Evernote ist für Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer eine gewinnbringende Hilfe, wenn es darum geht, die Gedanken zu sortieren und alles auch wieder zu finden. Neue Features wie der WebClipper oder die Aufnahme von Sprachnachrichten machen das Produktivitätstool zum treuen Begleiter für neue Business-Ideen, Brainstormings und To-Dos für den Rest der Woche.

#2 Slack

Der Messengerdienst Slack zeigt sich bei EO besonders beliebt und ist eine wichtige Stütze für den täglichen Austausch unter Führungskräften und ihren Teams. Mit dem Slogan “Where work happens” bietet Slack eine gute Alternative zur statischen E-Mail, aber auch zum Telefon. In Zeiten von Corona auch ein beliebtes Tool, um Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter in gesonderten Gruppen über Sicherheits- und Hygieneupdates zu informieren oder auch generelle Updates für das Team zu sammeln. Natürlich eignet sich Slack aber auch, um den Kollegen einfach mal zu fragen, wie es ihr oder ihm derzeit geht.

#1 Trello

Kein anderes Tool wurde so oft genannt und hat damit wohl mehr Mitglieder überzeugt als das Projektmanagement-Tool Trello. Durch die Kanban-Darstellung ist das Tool bereits in der Gratisfunktion bestens ausgestattet, um mehrere Kampagnen, Prozesse oder tägliche Aufgaben mit unterschiedlichen Kolleginnen und Kollegen abzubilden. Führungskräfte können so den Status der Projekte einsehen, Engpässe nachbessern und Mitarbeitern unter die Arme greifen.

Privat

#5 Audible

Als einer der Audiopioniere bietet Audible viele Hörbücher, Hörspiele, aber auch Podcasts für den Ausklang des Tages. Neben der Möglichkeit, gleichzeitig einen Bestseller zu verschlingen und parallel dazu die Einkäufe zu erledigen, überzeugt die App auch durch die Möglichkeit, sich dank Podcasts zu informieren oder auch, sich durch top aktuelle Fachbücher weiterzubilden.

#4 Headspace

EO Berlin setzt sich von Herzen dafür ein, dass seine Mitglieder auch mal durchatmen und in einem familiären Umfeld zur Ruhe kommen können. Da gerade keine Offsides stattfinden können, muss dieses Entspannungsangebot alternativ gedacht werden. Daher begrüßen wir, dass Headspace als Meditationsapp so viel Anklang findet. In verschiedenen Übungen bietet Headspace Atem- und Meditationsübungen an, die dabei helfen, den Alltag ein wenig hinter sich zu lassen und den Überblick zu behalten. Bewusster leben heißt für uns auch, bewusster zu führen.

#3 Corona-Warn-App

Neben Abstand halten, Hände waschen und Maske tragen, ist auch die Corona-App ein wichtiger Begleiter unserer Mitglieder geworden. Viele haben ihren Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern auch proaktiv die Installation empfohlen, um weitere Infektionen im Bekannten- und Kollegenkreis schneller zu erkennen und entsprechend zu reagieren. Auch wenn der eine odere andere Kritiker an der App zweifeln mag, hat sie es bei EO Berlin in die Top 3 geschafft.

#2 Strides

Betrachtet man den Nutzen von Strides lässt sich nur noch schwer leugnen, dass Entrepreneure Effizienz schätzen. Denn Stride ist ein All-in-One-Habit-Tracker, der in der Lage ist, alle Gewohnheiten zu tracken und zu optimieren. Besonders hilfreich, wenn man merkt, dass das Privatleben zu kurz kommt, man lange keinen Sport mehr getrieben hat oder einfach generell viel zu viel gearbeitet hat. Strides bietet hier die beste Grundlage, auf sich selbst mehr zu achten und den Tag bewusster zu gestalten.

#1 Todoist

Wer ein Unternehmen leitet, hat gefühlt nach dem Office nicht mehr viel vom Tag übrig. Damit hier nichts runterfällt, hilft die App Todoist. “Die To Do Liste für mehr Organisation im Leben” ist ehemals aus dem Vorgänger Wunderlist entstanden und bietet einer, aber auch auf Wunsch mehreren Personen die Möglichkeit, die wichtigsten Aufgaben des Tages zu sammeln, abzuhaken oder auch nochmal ein wenig zu verschieben. Ein simpler, aber verdienter erster Platz.

Tipp33 bärenstarke Tools – die meisten sind kostenlos

Über den Autor
Miro Morczinek ist ehrenamtlicher Chairman Communication des Chapters Berlin der Entrepreneur Organisation (EO Berlin). Als Mitglied des Vorstandes setzt er sich gemeinsam mit den weiteren Vorstandsmitgliedern dafür ein, den Austausch und den Zusammenhalt der Mitglieder von EO Berlin zu fördern und weiterzuentwickeln. Die aktuell 230 Mitglieder sind führende Köpfe der Industrien Architektur, Consultancy, Mobility, E-Commerce bis hin zur Software und IT.

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

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #corona-warn-app, #docusign, #entrepreneurs-organisation, #evernote, #gastbeitrag, #headspace, #linkedin, #slack, #trello

0

LinkedIn’s Career Explorer helps you identify new kinds of jobs based on the skills you have

One of the key side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been how it has played out in the economy. There are currently 12.6 million people out of work in the U.S. alone, with estimates from the International Labour Organization noting that globally number some 245 million full-time jobs have been impacted.

To meet some of that challenge, today, LinkedIn is launching a new Career Explorer tool to help people find new jobs. Out in beta today in English (and adding further languages soon), this is not another job search engine. It’s a tool that matches a person’s skills with jobs that she or he might not have otherwise considered, and then provides pointers on what extra skills you might want to learn to be even more relevant.

Alongside this, LinkedIn is launching a new skills portal specifically to hone digital skills; subtle profile picture “frames” to indicate when you’re looking for work, or when you are hiring; and interview prep tools.

The Career Explorer tool is perhaps the most interesting of the new features.

Built with flexibility in mind, LinkedIn is leaning on its own trove of data to map some career paths that people have taken, combining that with data it has on jobs that are currently in higher demand, and are extrapolating that to help people get more creative about jobs they could go for.

This would be especially useful if there are none in their current field, or if they are considering using the opportunity of a job loss to rethink what they are doing (if Covid-19 hasn’t done the rethinking for them).

The example that LinkedIn gives for how this works is a notable one. It notes that a food server and a customer service specialist (an in-demand job) have a 71% skills overlap.

Neither might be strictly considered a “knowledge worker” (interesting that LinkedIn is positioning itself in that way, as it’s been a tool largely dominated by the category up to now), but both interface with customers. LinkedIn uses the Explorer to then suggest what training you could undertake (on its platform) to learn or improve the skills you might not already have.

The Career Explorer is a development on the skills assessment tool that LinkedIn launched last year, which were tests that people could take to verify what skills they had and what skills they still needed to learn for a particular role.

In the midst of a pandemic, that effort took on a more pointed recovery role, with skills training developed in partnership with Microsoft (which owns LinkedIn) specifically to address digital gaps in the employment market, which when filled could help the economy rebuild. LinkedIn said that to date, around 13 million people have used the those tools to learn new skills for the most in-demand jobs.

The idea with these new tools is that while people may be losing their jobs, there is still work out there. LinkedIn itself says it has more than 14 million positions open right now, with close to 40 million people coming to the site to search for work every week, and three people getting hired each minute. So the aim is to figure out how best to connect people with the opportunities around them.

And given that LinkedIn, now with 722 million users, has long made recruitment and job searches a central part of its business — both in terms of traffic and in terms of the revenue it makes from those services; I often think of it as the place where professionals go to network and look for work — launching these tools not only can help LinkedIn be a more useful partner in the job-search process. It helps keep that jobs business evolving at a time when it otherwise might feel somewhat stagnant. And after all, despite the activity on LinkedIn, unemployment remains high and some believe will get worse before it gets better again.

#employment, #hiring, #linkedin, #social

0

Closing on $75 million in new cash, Truepill plans at-home testing service as it nears $175 million in annual revenue

Truepill, the white-label healthcare services company that provides telehealth and pharmacy fulfillment services, is adding at-home medical testing as the third branch of its services powering the offerings of companies like Hims and Hers, Ro, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies. 

Financing this expansion of services is a new $75 million round of financing from investors led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Optum Ventures, TI Platform Management, Sound Ventures and Y Combinator.

“With the change in reimbursement for telemedicine, it changed the trajectory of the direct to consumer companies,” said Annie Lamot, the co-founder and managing director of new lead investors Oak HC/FT. “When we talked to every one of them they all seemed to be using Truepill .”

With its expansion into lab testing, Truepill can provide a full suite of services that used to be confined to the doctor’s office remotely. As more patients adjust to remote delivery of care, these kinds of options will become more attractive.

The move to telemedicine isn’t just something for new entrants either. Incumbents are also finding that they need to provide the same care as their direct to consumer competition, especially as the priority shifts to value-based care rather than fees for services on the reimbursement side — and consumers start demanding lower cost options on the direct pay side.

“I think it enables health plans to provide better care in targeted programs,” said Lamont, a longtime investor in healthcare.

Truepill’s executives certainly hope so.

The two co-founders, Umar Afridi and Sid Viswanathan met over LinkedIn where Viswanathan cold-emailed Afridi. At the time, Afridi was working as a pharmacist filling prescriptions at a Fred Meyer near Seattle).

Initially, Truepill’s growth came from acting as the pharmacist to companies like Hims, Ro, Nurx, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies focused on serving the elective health needs of people who wanted hair loss treatments, erectile dysfunction medication, and birth control.

Image Credits: Truepill

As the company has grown, so have its ambitions. By the end of the year, Truepill expects to book up to $175 million in revenue, according to Viswanathan, and that revenue will come from a more evenly distributed mix of customers among direct to consumer companies, insurance companies, and healthcare providers.

“Everything we do is white labeled from our pharmacy to the lab testing component. You can go to teladoc and use that service. What we like to think early. 80 percent of healthcare is going to happen on a digital channel.. We’re in a perfect position to build the platform company in that space,” Viswanathan said. 

At-home testing is a critical component of that platform. Expected to launch before the end of the year, Truepill is working with lab testing providers to offer hundreds of at-home tests. The company said it will focus on tests to manage chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease. Incidentally these are areas which have attracted a lot of interest from investors who are backing companies that provide direct to consumer or digital therapeutic solutions to treat or help address these conditions.

“To create a comprehensive, effective digital healthcare experience, there are three essential pillars: pharmacy with extensive insurance coverage, at-home lab testing and telehealth,” said Viswanathan, in a statement. “By adding diagnostics to our suite of solutions, we’ll be able to deliver direct-to-patient healthcare at scale through one platform – Truepill. We envision a future where 80% of healthcare is digital. With diagnostics, telehealth and pharmacy built on our foundation of API-connected infrastructure, Truepill will power that reality.” 

#articles, #birth-control, #diabetes, #erectile-dysfunction, #heal, #healthcare, #hims, #insurance, #lamont, #linkedin, #nurx, #optum-ventures, #pharmacy, #ro, #seattle, #sound-ventures, #tc, #teladoc-health, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #truepill, #y-combinator

0

Yac gets backed by Slack to bring the intimacy of voice back when remote co-workers interact

Yac, the digital voice messaging service that launched last year, has raised new money from the Slack Fund as it continues to gain ground among companies looking to give their employees new communication tools for remote working.

The Florida-based startup initially spun out of a pitch at Product Hunt’s Maker Festival. Developed by the digital agency SoFriendly, Yac’s digital voice messaging service won the startup competition at the event and attracted the interest of Boost VC and its founder, the third generation venture capitalist, Adam Draper .

Yac officially launched in March and had 900 teams sign up within the first week. The company’s product now includes one-to-many messaging, slack integration and an improved desktop app. It also managed to attract the attention of the Slack Fund.

The investment from Slack comes two years after Yac’s founder Justin Mitchell first reached out to the company, Mitchell said.

Instead of a cold call, Mitchell found himself as the object of Slack’s attention thanks to an introduction from Jim Rand, an entrepreneur whose Synervoz Communications was also working on new voice communications applications.

Rand and Mitchell had connected through LinkedIn and bonded over the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship. As they continued talking, Rand, whose company makes an api to connect audio applications to other services, asked if Mitchell wanted to talk to Slack about collaborating.

Slack reached out and Mitchell responded via the Yac app. Essentially all of the due diligence was conducted over a series of voice messages that Mitchell left responding to questions from the Slack team, Mitchell said.

The publicly traded messaging company came in with a small investment of $500,000.

Yac now has a bit over 5,000 users on its service and charges per seat, in the same way Slack does. Mitchell said he will use the funds to integrate more closely with Slack’s own messaging service. Some Yac features will automatically be integrated into Slack where users can turn their call button into a Yac button to deliver audio messages instead of doing real-time phone calls.

 

#adam-draper, #api, #entrepreneur, #florida, #linkedin, #messages, #operating-systems, #product-hunt, #slack, #slack-fund, #software, #tc, #voicemail

0

Further delay to GDPR enforcement of 2018 Twitter breach

Twitter users have to wait to longer to find out what penalties, if any, the platform faces under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for a data breach that dates back around two years.

In the meanwhile the platform has continued to suffer security failures — including, just last month, when hackers gained control of scores of verified accounts and tweeted out a crypto scam.

The tech firm’s lead regulator in the region, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), began investigating an earlier Twitter breach in November 2018 — completing the probe earlier this year and submitting a draft decision to other EU DPAs for review in May, just ahead of the second anniversary of the GDPR’s application.

In a statement on the development, Graham Doyle, the DPC’s deputy commissioner, told TechCrunch: “The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) issued a draft decision to other Concerned Supervisory Authorities (CSAs) on 22 May 2020, in relation to this inquiry into Twitter. A number of objections were raised by CSAs and the DPC engaged in a consultation process with them. However, following consultation a number of objections were maintained and the DPC has now referred the matter to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) under Article 65 of the GDPR.”

Under the regulation’s one-stop-shop mechanism, cross-border cases are handled by a lead regulator — typically where the business has established its regional base. For many tech companies that means Ireland, so the DPC has an oversized role in the regulation of Silicon Valley’s handling of people’s data.

This means it now has a huge backlog of highly anticipated complaints relating to tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and indeed Twitter. The regulator also continues to face criticism for not yet ‘getting it over the line’ in any of these complaints and investigations pertaining to big tech. So the Twitter breach case is being especially closely watched as it looks set to be the Irish DPC’s first enforcement decision in a cross-border GDPR case.

Last year commissioner Helen Dixon said the first of these decisions would be coming “early” in 2020. In the event, we’re past the halfway mark of the year with still no enforcement to show for it. Though the DPC emphasizes the need to follow due process to ensure final decisions stand up to any challenge.

The latest delay in the Twitter case is a consequence of disagreements between the DPC and other regional watchdogs which, under the rules of GDPR, have a right to raise objections on a draft decision where users in their countries are also affected.

It’s not clear what specific objections have been raised to the DPC’s draft Twitter decision, or indeed what Ireland’s regulator has decided in what should be a relatively straightforward case, given it’s a breach — not a complaint about a core element of a data-mining business model.

Far more complex complaints are still sitting on the DPC’s desk. Doyle confirmed that a complaint pertaining to WhatsApp’s legal basis for sharing user data with Facebook remains the next most progressed in the stack, for example.

So, given the DPC’s Twitter breach draft decision hasn’t been universally accepted by Europe’s data watchdogs it’s all but inevitable Facebook -WhatsApp will go through the same objections process. Ergo, expect more delays.

Article 65 of the GDPR sets out a process for handling objections on draft decisions. It allows for one month for DPAs to reach a two-thirds majority, with the possibility for a further extension of another month — which would push a decision on the Twitter case into late October.

If there’s still not enough votes in favor at that point, a further two weeks are allowed for EDPB members to reach a simple majority. If DPAs are still split the Board chair, currently Andrea Jelinek, has the deciding vote. So the body’s role in major decisions over big tech looks set to be very key.

We’ve reached out to the EDPB with questions related to the Twitter objections and will update this report with any response.

The Article 65 process exists to try to find consensus across a patchwork of national and regional data supervisors. But it won’t silence critics who argue the GDPR is not able to be applied fast enough to uphold EU citizens’ rights in the face of fast-iterating data-mining giants.

To wit: Given the latest developments, a final decision on the Twitter breach could be delayed until November — a full two years after the investigation began.

Earlier this summer a two-year review of GDPR by the European Commission, meanwhile, highlighted a lack of uniformly vigorous enforcement. Though commissioners signalled a willingness to wait and see how the one-stop-shop mechanism runs its course on cross-border cases, while admitting there’s a need to reinforce cooperation and co-ordination on cross border issues.

“We need to be sure that it’s possible for all the national authorities to work together. And in the network of national authorities it’s the case — and with the Board [EDPB] it’s possible to organize that. So we’ll continue to work on it,” justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, said in June.

“The best answer will be a decision from the Irish data protection authority about important cases,” he added then.

#andrea-jelinek, #data-protection, #europe, #european-commission, #european-data-protection-board, #european-union, #facebook, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #helen-dixon, #ireland, #linkedin, #privacy, #social, #twitter, #whatsapp

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Google launches Kormo app in India to help people find entry-level jobs

Google said on Wednesday it has expanded its jobs app, called Kormo Jobs, to India as the Search giant looks to offer a helping hand to millions looking for entry-level roles and further displace Microsoft’s LinkedIn relevance in the world’s second largest internet market.

The company first launched Kormo Jobs in Bangladesh in 2018 and expanded it to Indonesia last year. Also last year, Google made Kormo available in India under the brand Jobs as a Spot on Google Pay app.

Since making Jobs available as a Spot, Google says a number of companies including Zomato and Dunzo — a Bangalore-based startup it has invested in — have posted over 2 million verified jobs on the platform.

Google said today it is rebranding Jobs Spot on Google Pay as Kormo Jobs in India and also making its standalone Android app available in one of its key overseas markets.

In addition to helping users identify open calls for entry-level roles, Kormo Jobs app is also designed to help them learn new skills, and easily create a CV.

Bickey Russell, Regional Manager and Operations Lead at Kormo Jobs, said the company will continue to invest in bringing new features and jobs to the app in the future.

“In the wake of the pandemic, the jobs landscape stands altered, with demand shifting to new services that require different sets of skills and experience. Businesses of all sizes face the challenges of the new normal, while job seekers are having to adapt to this shift quickly,” wrote Russell in a blog.

“We are heartened to be able to play a helpful role in facilitating connections to impact lives for the better, including introducing important features like remote interviewing earlier this year to ensure social distancing,” he added.

The move further illustrates Google’s growing interest in courting a big slice of the job-related search-queries. The company launched a jobs search search engine in 2017 in the U.S., which it has expanded to several markets since. Earlier this month, it rolled out a virtual visiting card feature in India.

Google’s push into this category stands to hurt LinkedIn, which does not have a strong presence in emerging markets. In India, for instance, LinkedIn had about 24 million monthly active users on Android in the month of July, according to App Annie, up from about 22 million during the same period a year ago. Google reaches about 400 million users in India.

#apps, #asia, #bangladesh, #google, #india, #indonesia, #linkedin

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Edtech exits are increasing, but by how much?

Before the coronavirus made edtech more relevant, companies in the sector were historically likely to see slow, low exits. Despite successful IPOs by 2U, Chegg and Instructure in the United States, public markets are not crowded with edtech companies.

Some of the largest exits in the space include LinkedIn’s scoop of Lynda for a $1.5 billion in cash and stock and TPG’s purchase of Ellucian for $3.5 billion.

But both of those deals happened in 2015. Five years later, edtech is cooler and surging — but is it seeing exits? Are Lynda and Ellucian one-off success stories?

2U’s co-founder and CEO, Chip Paucek, said he is optimistic.

“We are a rare edtech IPO,” he told TechCrunch last week. “For a long time in edtech it was either ‘sell to Pearson or not.’”

Despite the sector’s slow past, Paucek said now is a good time to start an edtech company because the sector “is finally starting to hit its stride” with more back-end infrastructure and demand for online education.

This morning, let’s use some data to paint a picture of the landscape of edtech exits and bring some balance to this stodgy stereotype.

Boot the growth

There have been approximately 225 acquisitions in edtech between 2003 and 2018, according to Crunchbase data. RS Components sent me a graph in March to contextualize this timeframe a bit more:

Edtech deals over time. Graph credit: RS Components.

#coronavirus, #covid-10, #edtech, #education, #extra-crunch, #linkedin, #lynda, #market-analysis, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #venture-capital

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Scribd acquires presentation-sharing service SlideShare from LinkedIn

SlideShare has a new owner, with LinkedIn selling the presentation-sharing service to Scribd for an undisclosed price.

According to LinkedIn, Scribd will take over operation of the SlideShare business on September 24.

Scribd CEO Trip Adler argued that the companies have very similar roots, both launching in 2006/2007 with stories on TechCrunch, and both of them focused on content and document-sharing.

“The two products always had kind of similar missions,” Adler said. “The difference was, [SlideShare] focused on more on PowerPoint presentations and business users, while we focused more on PDFs and Word docs and long-form written content, more on the more general consumer.”

Over time, the companies diverged even further, with SlideShare acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, and LinkedIn itself acquired by Microsoft in 2016.

Scribd, meanwhile, launched a Netflix-style subscription service for e-books and audiobooks, but Adler said that both the “user-generated side” and the “premium side” remain important to the business.

“We get people who come in looking for documents, then sign up for our premium content,” he said. “But they do continue to read documents, too.”

So when Microsoft and LinkedIn approached Scribd about acquiring SlideShare, Adler saw an opportunity to expand the document side of the business. Specifically, he pointed to SlideShare’s content library of 40 million presentations and its audience of 100 million monthly unique visitors.

The deal, Adler said, is fundamentally about tapping into SlideShare’s “content and audience,” though he said there may be aspects of the service’s technology that Scribd could incorporate as well. Scribd isn’t taking on any new employees as part of the deal; instead, its existing team is taking responsibility for SlideShare’s operation.

He added that SlideShare will continue to operate as a standalone service, separate from Scribd, and that he’s hopeful that it will continue to be well-integrated with LinkedIn.

“Nothing will change in the initial months,” Adler said. “We have a lot of experience with a product like this, both the technology stack and with users uploading content. We’re in a good position make SlideShare really successful.”

Meanwhile, a statement from LinkedIn Vice President of Engineering Chris Pruett highlighted the work that the company has done on SlideShare since the acquisition:

LinkedIn acquired SlideShare in May 2012 at a time when it was becoming clear that professionals were using LinkedIn for more than making professional connections. Over the last eight years, the SlideShare team, product, and community has helped shape the content experience on LinkedIn. We’ve incorporated the ability to upload, share, and discuss documents on LinkedIn.

 

#fundings-exits, #linkedin, #ma, #media, #microsoft, #scribd, #slideshare, #startups

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Google rolls out virtual business card in India

Google has rolled out a new Search feature in India that enables influencers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or anyone else who wants to be easily discovered online create a virtual visiting card in what appears to be the company’s latest attempt to bring more of LinkedIn functionalities into its search engine.

The company said it has rolled out the feature, called people cards, first in India because of the special affinity people in the world’s second largest internet market have shown toward looking up their own names on the search engine. People cards currently only supports English.

Users can create people cards about themselves by signing into their Google account and then looking up their name on Google search. This will prompt a new option called “add me to Search” or “get started”; tapping which will open a form that asks users to provide a bio (description) of themselves, their picture (by default, Google fetches the image associated with a user’s Google account), links to their website and social media profiles, and optionally, their phone number, address, work and education details, and email address.

Google said the more information a user provides, the easier it would be for others to find them on Google Search. The company said that it has put in place several measures to curb potential misuse of the new feature. One of which is limiting the number of people cards a Google account can create — it is set to one.

“We have a number of mechanisms to protect against abusive or spammy content, and if you come across low quality information or a card that you believe was created by an impersonator, you can tap the feedback link to let us know. If you no longer want your people card to appear in Search, you can delete it at any time,” wrote Lauren Clark, Product Manager for Search at Google, in a blog post.

People card appears to be Google’s latest step to bring more functionalities into Search and thereby reduce a user’s reliance on many other services. In this case, the feature is likely aimed at LinkedIn — though users can’t add other people’s profiles as connections. Two years ago, the company added jobs listing discovery feature to Search in India after unveiling it in the U.S. in 2017.

“For the millions of influencers, entrepreneurs, prospective employees, self-employed individuals, freelancers, or anyone else out there who wants to be discovered, we hope this new Search feature will help the world find them. For people in India searching on mobile phones, people cards are rolling out in English starting today,” wrote Clark.

#apps, #asia, #google, #india, #linkedin, #microsoft

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Magic Leap has a new chief executive and it’s former Microsoft exec Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson, the former executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, has been named as the new chief executive of Magic Leap, the company said in a statement.

Johnson, who will begin her new role on August 1, 2020, comes to Magic Leap after a thirty year career in the technology industry.

It’s been a tumultuous 2020 for Magic Leap. Struggling to survive amid a cash crunch and facing bankruptcy, the company laid off most of its staff in April and was casting around for a white knight investor to come in and keep the company afloat. While the Paradise, Fla.-based company found the $375 million in funding it needed, according to The New York Times, that investment came at the price of Rony Abovitz’s position as chief executive.

Abovitz, whose vision for the future of spatial computing managed to rake in over a billion dollars in funding, was a consummate hype man whose products failed to deliver on the promise they’d held.

In Johnson Magic Leap has a proven executive who joined Microsoft in 2014 from Qualcomm as an executive hire made by chief executive Satya Nadella. There, she ran business development and had a hand in a number of the company’s major acquisitions and partnerships including the $26.2 billion blockbuster acquisition of LinkedIn . The 58 year-old Johnson also launched Microsoft’s venture capital fund (known as M12).

At Magic Leap, Johnson will take the reins of a company whose direction has shifted to focus more on businesses than on consumers — a strategy that mirrors approaches taken both by Microsoft’s Hololens extended reality product and by early wearable tech progenitor Google Glass.

It’s also a company that managed to burn through nearly $3.5 billion under Abovitz’s stewardship and lose a valuation of

“Since its founding in 2011, Magic Leap has pioneered the field of spatial computing, and I have long admired the relentless efforts and accomplishments of this exceptional team. Magic Leap’s technological foundation is undeniable, and there is no question that has the potential to shape the future of XR and computing,” said Ms. Johnson.

Before joining Microsoft, Ms. Johnson spent 24 years at Qualcomm, where she held various leadership positions, and served as a member of Qualcomm’s Executive Committee.

“As a company that has been a leader in transforming what will become the next era of computing, we have been fortunate to have a number of extremely qualified candidates express interest in the position of CEO. However, as soon as Peggy raised her hand there was no question in my mind, or the Board’s, that she was absolutely the best person to lead this company into the future,” said Abovitz in a statement. “As Magic Leap drives towards commercializing spatial computing for enterprise, I can’t think of a better and more capable leader than Peggy Johnson to carry our mission forward.”

 

#linkedin, #magic-leap, #microsoft, #mixed-reality, #peggy-johnson, #qualcomm, #rony-abovitz, #satya-nadella, #tc, #the-new-york-times, #wearable-devices

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Affirming the position of tech advocates, Supreme Court overturns Trump’s termination of DACA

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that President Donald Trump’s administration unlawfully ended the federal policy providing temporary legal status for immigrants who came to the country as children.

The decision, issued Thursday, called the termination of the Obama-era policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals “arbitrary and capricious.” As a result of its ruling, nearly 640,000 people living in the United States are now temporarily protected from deportation.

While a blow to the Trump Administration, the ruling is sure to be hailed nearly unanimously by the tech industry and its leaders, who had come out strongly in favor of the policy in the days leading up to its termination by the current President and his advisors.

At the beginning of 2018, many of tech’s most prominent executives, including the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google, joined more than 100 American business leaders in signing an open letter asking Congress to take action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before it expired in March.

Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Sundar Pichai who made a full throated defense of the policy and pleaded with Congress to pass legislation ensuring that Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and were granted approval by the program, can continue to live and work in the country without risk of deportation.

At the time, those executives said the decision to end the program could potentially cost the U.S. economy as much as $215 billion.

In a 2017 tweet, Tim Cook noted that Apple employed roughly 250 of the company’s employees were “Dreamers”.

The list of tech executives who came out to support the DACA initiative is long. It included: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Brad Smith, the president and chief legal officer of Microsoft; Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman; and CEOs or other leading executives of AT&T, Dropbox, Upwork, Cisco Systems, Salesforce.com, LinkedIn, Intel, Warby Parker, Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Box, Twitter, PayPal, Code.org, Lyft, Etsy, AdRoll, eBay, StitchCrew, SurveyMonkey, DoorDash, Verizon (the parent company of Verizon Media Group, which owns TechCrunch).

At the heart of the court’s ruling is the majority view that Department of Homeland Security officials didn’t provide a strong enough reason to terminate the program in September 2017. Now, the issue of immigration status gets punted back to the White House and Congress to address.

As the Boston Globe noted in a recent article, the majority decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts did not determine whether the Obama-era policy or its revocation were correct, just that the DHS didn’t make a strong enough case to end the policy.

“We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action,” Roberts wrote. 

While the ruling from the Supreme Court is some good news for the population of “dreamers,” the question of their citizenship status in the country is far from settled. And the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has basically consisted of freezing as much of the nation’s immigration apparatus as possible.

An Executive Order in late April froze the green card process for would-be immigrants, and the administration was rumored to be considering a ban on temporary workers under H1-B visas as well.

The President has, indeed, ramped up the crackdown with strict border control policies and other measures to curb both legal and illegal immigration. 

More than 800,000 people joined the workforce as a result of the 2012 program crafted by the Obama administration. DACA allows anyone under 30 to apply for protection from deportation or legal action on their immigration cases if they were younger than 16 when they were brought to the US, had not committed a crime, and were either working or in school.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the President tweeted “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

 

 

#adroll, #advisors, #airbnb, #amazon, #apple, #att, #brad-smith, #cisco-systems, #congress, #donald-trump, #doordash, #ebay, #etsy, #facebook, #ginni-rometty, #google, #hewlett-packard-enterprise, #ibm, #immigration, #intel, #jeff-bezos, #linkedin, #lyft, #mark-zuckerberg, #meg-whitman, #microsoft, #obama, #paypal, #president, #salesforce-com, #sundar-pichai, #supreme-court, #tc, #techcrunch, #tim-cook, #trump-administration, #twitter, #u-s-government, #uber, #united-states, #upwork, #verizon-media-group, #white-house

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LinkedIn introduces new retargeting tools

LinkedIn is announcing some new features for advertisers — retargeting capabilities tied on video ads and lead generation forms, as well as new brand safety integrations for the LinkedIn Audience Network.

Abhishek Shrivastava, the senior director of product for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, told me that his team has been shifting its product plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes introducing new features focused on virtual engagement — such as live video events — as the pandemic has “accelerated that need of the market.”

Shrivastava suggested that today’s announcements are similar, because “these things matter in terms of driving your [marketing] investment further.”

On the retargeting side, that means advertisers can now create and target ads specifically to users who watched 25, 50, 75 or 100% of their video ads. They can also target ads at users who opened or submitted a Lead Gen Form.

LinkedIn ad

Image Credits: LinkedIn

Shrivastava noted that LinkedIn advertisers are generally focused on business-to-business marketing, which means that there’s usually a longer process of turning prospects into sales, so these capabilities make it easier for marketers to create a tailored “journey to carry your target audiences through.”

LinkedIn has already been testing these capabilities with a few advertisers, including TOPdesk, which says it’s increased conversions by 20% while lowering the cost per conversion by 24%.

The video retargeting capabilities also extend to the LinkedIn Audience Network, which the company launched in 2017 as a way for marketers to extend their LinkedIn ad campaigns beyond LinkedIn itself.

LinkedIn says the network now includes publishers like Flipboard, Microsoft News and MSN.com (Microsoft owns LinkedIn), and that it can now extend the reach of a Sponsored Content campaign by 25%, while adding 9x more monthly touchpoints with some LinkedIn members.

To help ensure the safety and quality of those impressions, LinkedIn says it’s integrating with Integral Ad Science as “an additional layer of brand protection and contextual brand safety for all ads,” and with Pixalate to “score and filter all publishers based on invalid traffic.”

#advertising-tech, #linkedin, #microsoft, #social

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First major GDPR decisions looming on Twitter and Facebook

The lead data regulator for much of big tech in Europe is moving inexorably towards issuing its first major cross-border GDPR decision — saying today it’s submitted a draft decision related to Twitter’s business to its fellow EU watchdogs for review.

“The draft decision focusses on whether Twitter International Company has complied with Articles 33(1) and 33(5) of the GDPR,” said the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) in a statement.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation came into application two years ago, as an update to the European Union’s long-standing data protection framework which bakes in supersized fines for compliance violations. More interestingly, regulators have the power to order that violating data processing cease. While, in many EU countries, third parties such as consumer rights groups can file complaints on behalf of individuals.

Since GDPR begun being applied, there have been thousands of complaints filed across the bloc, targeting companies large and small — alongside a rising clamour around a lack of enforcement in major cross-border cases pertaining to big tech.

So the timing of the DPC’s announcement on reaching a draft decision in its Twitter probe is likely no accident. (GDPR’s actual anniversary of application is May 25.)

The draft decision relates to an inquiry the regulator instigated itself, in November 2018, after the social network had reported a data breach — as data controllers are required to do promptly under GDPR, risking penalties should they fail to do so.

Other interested EU watchdogs (all of them in this case) will now have one month to consider the decision — and lodge “reasoned and relevant objections” should they disagree with the DPC’s reasoning, per the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism which enables EU regulators to liaise on cross-border inquiries.

In instances where there is disagreement between DPAs on a decision the regulation contains a dispute resolution mechanism (Article 65) — which loops in the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to make a final decision on a majority basis.

On the Twitter decision, the DPC told us it’s hopeful this can be finalized in July.

Commissioner Helen Dixon has previously said the first cross border decisions would be coming “early” in 2020. However the complexity of working through new processes — such as the one-stop-shop — appear to have taken EU regulators longer than hoped.

The DPC is also dealing with a massive case load at this point, with more than 20 cross border investigations related to complaints and/or inquiries still pending decisions — with active probes into the data processing habits of a large number of tech giants; including Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tinder, Verizon (TechCrunch’s parent company) and WhatsApp — in addition to its domestic caseload (operating with a budget that’s considerably less than it requested from the Irish government).

The scope of some of these major cross-border inquiries may also have bogged Ireland’s regulator down.

But — two years in — there are signs of momentum picking up, with the DPC’s deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, pointing today to developments on four additional investigations from the cross-border pile — all of which concern Facebook owned platforms.

The furthest along of these is a probe into the level of transparency the tech giant provides about how user data is shared between its WhatsApp and Facebook services.

“We have this week sent a preliminary draft decision to WhatsApp Ireland Limited for their submissions which will be taken in to account by the DPC before preparing a draft decision in that matter also for Article 60 purposes,” said Doyle in a statement on that. “The inquiry into WhatsApp Ireland examines its compliance with Articles 12 to 14 of the GDPR in terms of transparency including in relation to transparency around what information is shared with Facebook.”

The other three cases the DPC said it’s making progress on relate to GDPR consent complaints filed back in May 2018 by the EU privacy rights not-for-profit, noyb.

noyb argues that Facebook uses a strategy of “forced consent” to continue processing individuals’ personal data — when the standard required by EU law is for users to be given a free choice unless consent is strictly necessary for provision of the service. (And noyb argues that microtargeted ads are not core to the provision of a social networking service; contextual ads could instead be served, for example.)

Back in January 2019, Google was fined $57M by France’s data watchdog, CNIL, over a similar complaint.

Per its statement today, the DPC said it has now completed the investigation phase of this complaint-based inquiry which it said is focused on “Facebook Ireland’s obligations to establish a lawful basis for personal data processing”.

“This inquiry is now in the decision-making phase at the DPC,” it added.

In further related developments it said it’s sent draft inquiry reports to the complainants and companies concerned for the same set of complaints for (Facebook owned) Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Doyle declined to give any firm timeline for when any of these additional inquiries might yield final decisions. But a summer date would, presumably, be the very earliest timeframe possible.

The regulator’s hope looks to be that once the first cross-border decision has made it through the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism — and yielded something all DPAs can sign up to — it will grease the tracks for the next tranche of decisions.

That said, not all inquiries and decisions are equal clearly. And what exactly the DPC decides in such high profile probes will be key to whether or not there’s disagreement from other data protection agencies. Different EU DPAs can take a harder or softer line on applying the bloc’s rules, with some considerably more ‘business friendly‘ than others. Albeit, the GDPR was intended to try to shrink differences of application.

If there is disagreement among regulators on major cross border cases, such as the Facebook ones, the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism will require more time to work through to find consensus. So critics of the regulation are likely to have plenty of attack area still.

Some of the inquiries the DPC is leading are also likely to set standards which could have major implications for many platforms and digital businesses so there will be vested interests seeking to influence outcomes on all sides. But with GDPR hitting its second birthday — and still hardly any decision-shaped lumps taken out of big tech — the regional pressure for enforcements to get flowing is massive.

Given the blistering pace of tech developments — and the market muscle of big tech being applied to steamroller individual rights — EU regulators have to be able to close the gap between investigation and enforcement or watch their flagship framework derided as a paper tiger…

Schrems II

Summer is also shaping up to be an interesting time for privacy watchers for another reason, with a landmark decision due from Europe’s top court on July 16 on the so called ‘Schrems II’ case (named for the Austrian lawyer, privacy rights campaigner and noyb founder, Max Schrems, who lodged the original complaint) — which relates to the legality of Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC) as a mechanism for personal data transfers out of the EU.

The DPC’s statement today makes a point of flagging this looming decision, with the regulator writing: “The case concerns proceedings initiated and pursued in the Irish High Court by the DPC which raised a number of significant questions about the regulation of international data transfers under EU data protection law. The judgement from the CJEU on foot of the reference made arising from these proceedings is anticipated to bring much needed clarity to aspects of the law and to represent a milestone in the law on international transfers.”

A legal opinion issued at the end of last year by an influential advisor to the court emphasized that EU data protection authorities have an obligation to step in and suspend data transfers by SCC if they are being used to send citizens’ data to a place where their information cannot be adequately protected.

Should the court hold to that view, all EU DPAs will have an obligation to consider the legality of SCC transfers to the US “on a case-by-case basis”, per Doyle.

“It will be in every single case you’d have to go and look at the set of circumstances in every single case to make a judgement whether to instruct them to cease doing it. There won’t be just a one size fits all,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s an extremely significant ruling.”

(If you’re curious about ‘Schrems I’, read this from 2015.)

#apple, #data-protection, #data-protection-law, #dpc, #europe, #european-data-protection-board, #european-union, #facebook, #france, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #google, #helen-dixon, #instagram, #linkedin, #privacy, #schrems, #social-media, #social-network, #tc, #tinder, #united-states, #verizon, #whatsapp

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