Microsoft enters “final phase” of disabling SMB1 file-sharing in Windows 11

Microsoft is disabling SMB1 in newer Windows 11 Home builds.

Enlarge / Microsoft is disabling SMB1 in newer Windows 11 Home builds. (credit: Microsoft)

Most Windows 11 preview builds focus on adding features, but sometimes Microsoft uses them to remove things. Users installing the latest Windows 11 Home Insider builds will find that support for version 1.0 of the venerable SMB file-sharing protocol is now disabled by default, something that may break file-sharing for older networked storage equipment. A post by Microsoft program manager Ned Pyle details the reasoning behind the change and how it will affect users.

Microsoft had already disabled SMB1 by default in other editions of Windows. The SMB1 server service was removed from all Windows versions starting in 2017, and the client service was disabled in Windows 10 Pro editions starting in 2018. Lyle writes that the client in the Home editions of Windows came last since it will “cause consumer pain among folks who are still running very old equipment, a group that’s the least likely to understand why their new Windows 11 laptop can’t connect to their old networked hard drive.”

SMB1 has long since been replaced with newer and more secure versions of the protocol; SMB2 was introduced in 2007, and version 3.1.1 was added to Windows 10 in 2016. But the original is still occasionally used by old servers and equipment—and if a machine is old enough to rely on SMB1, it’s probably old enough that no one is interested in maintaining or upgrading it.

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#smb, #tech

JumpCloud raises $159M on $2.56B valuation for cloud directory tool

JumpCloud, the late-stage startup that is modernizing the notion of corporate directories in a cloud context, announced a $159 million Series F investment on a healthy $2.56 billion valuation today.

Sapphire Ventures led the round with new investors participating including Owl Rock, Whale Rock Capital, Sands Capital and Endeavor Catalyst along with existing investors General Atlantic, BlackRock and H.I.G. Growth Partners. The company has now raised almost $356 million with $259 million coming over the most recent two rounds.

JumpCloud CEO Rajat Bhargava says that investor interest in the company is driven by his belief that the directory structure is the center of an IT organization, especially as it relates to identity, and that includes mobile device management, single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, privileged access management and identity governance. He sees all these approaches coming together in the directory structure.

“We believe that those are all part of one core directory platform. So when you think of a directory very holistically and broadly, it is really about securely and frictionlessly connecting users and their identities to whatever they may need to access,” Bhargava told me.

They do this by going after SMBs and mid-market companies with a cloud product that simplifies the management of these complex systems. Jai Das, who is managing director at lead investor Sapphire Ventures, believes that this part of the market was being mostly left out of directory services because of that complexity before JumpCloud and others attempted to fill the void.

“Large enterprises have put in place various directory and security solutions to solve these problems, but with large investments in tech outlays and IT support teams. SMBs and mid-sized enterprises don’t have the big budgets or large staff to replicate the large enterprise model,” Das said. He adds that developing for this market is a huge challenge because it requires “building a product with all of the features large enterprises require, plus it has to be easy to use, easy to deploy and not [be] terribly expensive.”

While the company is not revealing any revenue metrics, Bhargava did say that they have added 2000 customers since we last spoke in November for a total of 5000, and he said that the company should double head count by the end of the year from the 300 last November.

He also said that he has been making progress at building a diverse company, and one way he does that is just asking every hiring manager if they interviewed historically underrepresented candidates.

“The simple act of just asking that question makes such a massive difference inside of an organization. We’ve encouraged all of our hiring managers to interview diverse candidates but we also when there’s an offer about to be made, or when they’re in the [interview] process, we are asking them did you talk to [diverse] candidates. And then if you didn’t, we’re going to ask you to go, search for those folks [before making a hiring decision],” he said.

Bhargava didn’t want to talk about and IPO when we spoke last year, and not much changed this time around. “We’ll see. It’s just not part of what we’re worried about or focused on,” he said.

He did indicate however, that with such a substantial amount of money on the balance sheet, he would consider some strategic acquisitions. “We will focus on M&A and where it makes sense will integrate different components and teams into our business,” he said. With a tight labor market, that could be about adding engineering, as well as adding functionality to the platform, he said.

#cloud, #directory-services, #funding, #jai-das, #jumpcloud, #midmarket, #recent-funding, #sapphire-ventures, #smb, #startups

Nuula raises $120M to build out a financial services ‘superapp’ aimed at SMBs

A Canadian startup called Nuula that is aiming to build a superapp to provide a range of financial services to small and medium businesses has closed $120 million of funding, money that it will use to fuel the launch of its app and first product, a line of credit for its users.

The money is coming in the form of $20 million in equity from Edison Partners, and a $100 million credit facility from funds managed by the Credit Group of Ares Management Corporation.

The Nuula app has been in a limited beta since June of this year. The plan is to open it up to general availability soon, while also gradually bringing in more services, some built directly by Nuula itself and but many others following an embedded finance strategy: business banking, for example, will be a service provided by a third party and integrated closely into the Nuula app to be launched early in 2022; and alongside that, the startup will also be making liberal use of APIs to bring in other white-label services such as B2B and customer-focused payment services, starting first in the U.S. and then expanding to Canada and the U.K. before further countries across Europe.

Current products include cash flow forecasting, personal and business credit score monitoring, and customer sentiment tracking; and monitoring of other critical metrics including financial, payments and eCommerce data are all on the roadmap.

“We’re building tools to work in a complementary fashion in the app,” CEO Mark Ruddock said in an interview. “Today, businesses can project if they are likely to run out of money, and monitor their credit scores. We keep an eye on customers and what they are saying in real time. We think it’s necessary to surface for SMBs the metrics that they might have needed to get from multiple apps, all in one place.”

Nuula was originally a side-project at BFS, a company that focused on small business lending, where the company started to look at the idea of how to better leverage data to build out a wider set of services addressing the same segment of the market. BFS grew to be a substantial business in its own right (and it had raised its own money to that end, to the tune of $184 million from Edison and Honeywell).  Over time, it became apparent to management that the data aspect, and this concept of a super app, would be key to how to grow the business, and so it pivoted and rebranded earlier this year, launching the beta of the app after that.

Nuula’s ambitions fall within a bigger trend in the market. Small and medium enterprises have shaped up to be a huge business opportunity in the world of fintech in the last several years. Long ignored in favor of building solutions either for the giant consumer market, or the lucrative large enterprise sector, SMBs have proven that they want and are willing to invest in better and newer technology to run their businesses, and that’s leading to a rush of startups and bigger tech companies bringing services to the market to cater to that.

Super apps are also a big area of interest in the world of fintech, although up to now a lot of what we’ve heard about in that area has been aimed at consumers — just the kind of innovation rut that Nuula is trying to get moving.

“Despite the growth in services addressing the SMB sector, overall it still lacks innovation compared to consumer or enterprise services,” Ruddock said. “We thought there was some opportunity to bring new thinking to the space. We see this as the app that SMBs will want to use everyday, because we’ll provide useful tools, insights and capital to power their businesses.”

Nuula’s priority to build the data services that connect all of this together is very much in keeping with how a lot of neobanks are also developing services and investing in what they see as their unique selling point. The theory goes like this: banking services are, at the end of the day, the same everywhere you go, and therefore commoditized, and so the more unique value-added for companies will come from innovating with more interesting algorithms and other data-based insights and analytics to give more power to their users to make the best use of what they have at their disposal.

It will not be alone in addressing that market. Others building fintech for SMBs include Selina, ANNA, Amex’s Kabbage (an early mover in using big data to help loan money to SMBs and build other financial services for them), Novo, Atom Bank, Xepelin, and Liberis, biggies like Stripe, Square and PayPal, and many others.

The credit product that Nuula has built so far is a taster of how it hopes to be a useful tool for SMBs, not just another place to get money or manage it. It’s not a direct loaning service, but rather something that is closely linked to monitoring a customers’ incomings and outgoings and only prompts a credit line (which directly links into the users’ account, wherever it is) when it appears that it might be needed.

“Innovations in financial technology have largely democratized who can become the next big player in small business finance,” added Gary Golding, General Partner, Edison Partners. “By combining critical financial performance tools and insights into a single interface, Nuula represents a new class of financial services technology for small business, and we are excited by the potential of the firm.”

“We are excited to be working with Nuula as they build a unique financial services resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Jeffrey Kramer, Partner and Head of ABS in the Alternative Credit strategy of the Ares Credit Group, in a statement. “The evolution of financial technology continues to open opportunities for innovation and the emergence of new industry participants. We look forward to seeing Nuula’s experienced team of technologists, data scientists and financial service veterans bring a new generation of small business financial services solutions to market.”

#articles, #atom-bank, #banking, #business, #canada, #ceo, #economy, #edison-partners, #enterprise, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #fintech, #funding, #general-partner, #head, #honeywell, #innovation, #kabbage, #nuula, #paypal, #smb, #sme, #stripe, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Yelp adds tools that let businesses share their Covid policies related to vaccines

As more businesses around the U.S. are choosing to implement vaccine requirements for patrons or staff, business discovery and review site Yelp is introducing new tools that allow businesses to communicate those changes to their customers. On Thursday, Yelp will begin rolling out two profile attributes, “Proof of vaccination required” and “Staff fully vaccinated,” to help consumers to understand how a business is operating with regard to the pandemic.

While there is no federal mandate for businesses to require proof of vaccination, some cities are introducing their own policies. Recently, New York City became the first to require proof of vaccination for indoor restaurants and gyms, and, San Francisco is now exploring a similar set of mandates. Other cities may choose to follow suit in the future.

In addition, local business owners across the U.S. are implementing their own measures outside of federal or state guidance, including requiring masks or proof of vaccination for customers, or requiring their staff to be vaccinated. These choices often come at price, as the businesses risk social media backlash and bad reviews from the anti-vaccine crowd.

Yelp’s new features will represent an attempt to help mitigate that reaction, the company explains.

Image Credits: Yelp

Yelp says it will proactively leverage a combination of automated systems and human moderators to safeguard businesses from attacks from customers if a business opts to activate either of the two new options related to their Covid vaccine policies.

Though the company has long since had systems in place to address “review bombing” incidents, Yelp says the practice has gotten worse in recent months.

In the past, businesses that gained negative public attention may have had an influx of reviews from those who didn’t have a first-hand experience with the business in question, which violates Yelp’s policy. Yelp may then alert visitor to the business’s page that there’s the potential for fake reviews or that thee had been spikes in unusual activity. The company will sometimes even temporarily block users from being able to leave reviews. And in some cases, Yelp will also need to remove false reviews or those that otherwise violate its policies.

But since January 2021, Yelp says it’s had to place over 100 Unusual Activity Alerts on its pages in response to a business gaining public attention for their Covid health and safety practices. This has included if a business notified customers that vaccinations were required for its employees or for its patrons.

As a result, Yelp has had to remove nearly 4,500 reviews for violating its content guidelines.

Image Credits: Yelp

As Yelp was already handling these types of incidents, it’s now more formally introducing a way for businesses to flag their Covid policies through the new products.

The company notes it put a similar system in place when it launched our Black-owned attribute in June 2020 and again followed the same process for other identity attributes (e.g. Latinx-owned, Asian-owned, and LGBTQ-owned) by proactively monitoring business pages that activated these attributes for any hateful, racist or other harmful content that violated its content guidelines.

The company tells TechCrunch there was demand for its new Covid policy feature from business owners, as well.

Image Credits: Yelp

“Both business owners and consumers have expressed interest in Yelp releasing vaccine-related attributes,” said Noorie Malik, Yelp’s VP of User Operations. “For many months we’ve seen businesses implement vaccine requirements for both their customers and staff. As a result, we’ve also seen a rise in reviews focused on people’s stance on Covid vaccinations rather than their actual experience with the business,” Malik noted.

The businesses want to be assured that their page will be more actively monitored for false reviews when they choose to share this information.

Yelp, of course, understands that if allowed its reviews platform to become a place that veered away from customers detailing their first-hand experiences, it service overall would become less useful.

“Yelp has always served as a trusted source of information on local businesses, helping the millions of people that come to Yelp every day make informed spending decisions,” Malik said. “It’s important that consumers have a resource for relevant first-hand information when engaging with a business. You could argue this is even more important during a public health crisis, making reviews from relevant first-hand consumer experiences critical.”

The feature is rolling out now and can be found on the Yelp for Business account page.

#apps, #business, #businesses, #customer-reviews, #health, #new-york-city, #proof-of-vaccination, #reputation-management, #review-site, #smb, #software, #tc, #united-states, #vaccination, #vaccines, #yelp

ResQ raises $7.5 million to make back of the house, top of mind

Entrepreneur Kuljeev Singh has had a three-course meal in the restaurant business. He was an angel investor in ChefHero, a part-time owner in an Australian-style meat pie shop, and now, is the founder of ResQ, a startup that helps restaurants repair and service their equipment through contractor work.

Sitting at multiple seats at the table showed Singh the “unfortunate reality of what it takes to run a restaurant. Weeks into buying that meat pie shop, Singh watched tens of thousands of dollars burn due to failing equipment and contractor issues.

“I realized [that] I have so much support at the front of the house to drive revenue to the door, but I have no technology to support the back of the house,” he said. Singh soon realized that his pain point was shared by many other restaurant owners, which seeded the idea for ResQ, a startup all about optimizing the back of the house, or non-customer facing, operation for restaurants.

ResQ announced today that it has raised $7.5 million in seed funding led by Homebrew, Golden Ventures, and Inovia Capital. Participating angel investors include Nilam Ganenthiran, president at Instacart; Gokul Rajaram, Doordash executive and board member of Pinterest and Coinbase, as well as customers, including Soul Foods, a global franchisee of Yum! Brands. ResQ has now raised $9 million in known venture capital to date.

The capital will primarily help ResQ double or triple its 60-person team across engineering, sales, and operation roles. The company will also earmark money toward launching in new markets, building atop its current presence in San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Chicago, and Phoenix.

SaaS-enabled marketplace

ResQ’s business is split into two parts: a software platform and contractor marketplace.

The platform allows restaurants to request, manage, and pay for a service that they need done, from plumbing issues to electrical mishaps. ResQ claims it can save restaurants between 10-30% in annual repairs by offering competitive rates, and faster communication and hiring loops. It charges a monthly SaaS fee per rooftop to a restaurant group.

ResQ product mock-up.

The software layer sits on top of ResQ’s contractor marketplace, which is essentially a supply of geographic-specific workers with a variety of specialties that can come to do repairs or management. In exchange for providing contractors with work, ResQ takes a portion of revenue they make from each service. Singh sees the marketplace business of ResQ as a differentiator from incumbents or startup competitors such as ServiceChannel.

“You don’t just need a fancy-looking piece of software,” Singh said. “You need a product that can manage vendors, that can make sure they show up on time, that can make sure that they’re not overcharging, so that’s why we’re a SaaS enabled marketplace in the background.” By owning the supply side of the repair market, ResQ can have more precision when meeting demand and understanding its end customer.

Of course, a challenge with any marketplace is balancing and sourcing a high-quality supply. ResQ has over 700 contractors on its platform right now, but it needs to continue building them up in order to meet needs and get restaurant services on time. Singh said that a majority of its contractor supply comes from its restaurant customers bringing on preferred partners to their platform. ResQ then backfills, he said, any gaps in supply or if there are any specialties that are missing. While that process may be convenient for now, the startup could eventually scale – and sweeten the deal – by generating its own supply of contractors.

Hunter Walk, partner at Homebrew, thinks that ResQ could eventually use its positioning as a marketplace to bring on edtech and fintech services to contractors. For example, it has plans to eventually turn into a skills provider to train and place local talent. ResQ also wants to turn into a “business in a box” for these contractors, helping them grow their business through payment and billing support.

“For me that’s the difference between ‘you’re just making things more efficient’ versus ‘you’re also giving some percentage of your worker base the chance to think in new ways about the services they provide,” Walk said. “If you’re just thinking about it as an as a optimization algorithm, then you’re never really going to get into the ‘what can I do to help make these people’s lives better’ and those are where some of the upside of the economics live as well.” He noted that Singh’s experience, and ethos as a founder, will lead to ResQ solving problems more holistically and humanly.

Resq-kuljeev-singh

ResQ founder Kuljeev Singh

The market

Even with successful operations, margins can be razor-thin in the restaurant industry. This reality puts any startup in the restaurant tech industry at risk: when costs need to be cut, SaaS tools could be the first to go. Toast, for example, initially cut 50% of its staff due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

For ResQ, the pandemic created new urgency around rebuilding tech-forward restaurants, Singh said.

“We started building a new paradigm to our product and transitioned from a transactional marketplace mobile only focused on smaller restaurants, to a fully SaaS product focused on multi-unit operators powered by a local marketplace,” Singh said. Surely enough, the company’s revenue grew 750% over the past year.

To date, ResQ has worked with over 3,000 restaurant groups including KFC, Taco Bell, and Tim Hortons. With millions in the bank, let’s hope that number grows and it continues to find ways to grow its back of the house footprint.

#early-stage, #homebrew, #hunter-walk, #restaurant, #seed, #smb, #tc

UK’s Paysend raises $125M at a $700M+ valuation to expand its all-in-one payments platform

With more people than ever before going online to pay for things and pay each other, startups that are building the infrastructure that enables these actions continue to get a lot of attention.

In the latest development, Paysend, a fintech that has built a mobile-based payments platform — which currently offers international money transfers, global accounts, and business banking and e-commerce for SMBs — has picked up some money of its own. The London-based startup has closed a round of $125 million, a sizable Series B that the company’s CEO and founder Ronnie Millar said it will be using both to continue expanding its business geographically, to hire more people, and to continue building more fintech products.

The funding is being led by One Peak, with Infravia Growth Capital, Hermès GPE, previous backer Plug and Play and others participating.

Millar said Paysend is not disclosing valuation today but described it as a “substantial kick-up” and “a great step forward in our position ahead towards unicorn status.”

From what I understand though, the company was valued at $160 million in its previous round, and its core metrics have gone up 4.5x. Doing some basic math, that gives the company a valuation of around $720 million, a figure that a source close to the company did not dispute when I brought it up.

Something that likely caught investors’ attention is that Paysend has grown to the size it is today — it currently has 3.7 million consumer customers using its transfer and global account services, and 17,000 small business customers, and is now available in 110 receiving countries — in less than four years and $50 million in funding.

There are a couple of notable things about Paysend and its position in the market today, the first being the competitive landscape.

On paper, Paysend appears to offer many of the same features as a number of other fintechs: money transfer, global payments, and banking and e-commerce services for smaller businesses are all well-trodden areas with companies like Wise (formerly “TransferWise”), PayPal, Revolut, and so many others also providing either all or a range of these services.

To me, the fact that any one company relatively off the tech radar can grow to the size that it has speaks about the opportunity in the market for more than just one or two, or maybe five, dominant players.

Considering just remittances alone, the WorldBank in April said that flows just to low- and middle-income countries stood at $540 million last year, and that was with a dip in volumes due to Covid-19. The cut that companies like Paysend make in providing services to send money is, of course, significantly smaller than that — business models include commission charges, flat fees, or making money off exchange rates; Paysend charges £1 per transfer in the UK. More than that, the overall volumes, and the opportunity to build more services for that audience, are why we’re likely to see a lot of companies with ambitions to serve that market.

Services for small businesses, and tapping into the opportunity to provide more e-commerce tools at a time when more business and sales are being conducted online, is similarly crowded but also massive.

Indeed, Paysend points out that there is still a lot of growing and evolution left to do. Citing McKinsey research, it notes that some 70% of international payments are currently still cash-to-cash, with fees averaging up to 5.2% per transaction, and timing taking up to an hour each for sender and recipient to complete transfers. (Paysend claims it can cut fees by up to 60%.)

This brings us to the second point about Paysend: how it’s built its services. The fintech world today leans heavily on APIs: companies that are knitting together a lot of complexity and packaging it into APIs that are used by others who bypass needing to build those tools themselves, instead integrating them and adding better user experience and responsive personalization around them. notes, is a little different from these, with a vertically integrated approach, having itself built everything that it uses from the ground up.

Millar — a Scottish repeat entrepreneur (his previous company Paywizard, which has rebranded to Singula, is a specialist in pay-TV subscriber management) — notes that Paysend has built both its processing and acquiring facilities. “Because we have built everything in-house it lets us see what the consumer needs and uses, and to deliver that at a lower cost basis,” he said. “It’s much more cost efficient and we pass that savings on to the consumer. We designed our technology to be in complete control of it. It’s the most profitable approach, too, from a business point of view.”

That being said, he confirmed that Paysend itself is not yet profitable, but investors believe it’s making the right moves to get there.

“We are excited by Paysend’s enormous growth potential in a massive market, benefiting from a rapid acceleration in the adoption of digital payments,” said Humbert de Liedekerke, managing partner at One Peak Partners, in a statement. “In particular, we are seeing strong opportunities as Paysend moves beyond consumers to serve business customers and expands its international footprint to address a growing need for fast, easy and low-cost cross border digital payments. Paysend has built an exceptional payment platform by maintaining an unwavering focus on its customers and constantly innovating. We are excited to back the entire Paysend team in their next phase of explosive growth.”

#ecommerce, #enterprise, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #money-transfer, #payments, #paysend, #smb, #smbs, #smes, #transfers

Do you need a SPAC therapist?

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 yet another busy week, but that just means we had a great time putting the show together and recording it. Honestly we have a lot of fun this week, and we hope that you crack a smile while we dig through the latest as a team.

Ready? Here’s the rundown:

  • The Coinbase direct listing! Here’s our notes on its S-1, its direct listing reference price, and its results. And we even wrote about the impact that it might have on other startup verticals!
  • Grab’s impending SPAC! As it turns out Natasha loves SPACs now, and even Danny and Alex had very little to say that was rude about this one.
  • Degreed became a unicorn, proving yet again that education for the enterprise is a booming sub-sector.
  • Outschool also became an edtech unicorn, thanks to a new round led by Coatue and everyone’s rich cousin, Tiger Global. The conversation soon devolved into how Tiger Global is impacting the broader VC ecosystem, thanks to a fantastic analysis piece that you have to read here. 
  • Papa raised $60 million, also from Tiger Global. What do you call tech aimed at old folks? Don’t call it elder tech, we have a brand new phrase in store. Let’s see if it catches on.
  • AI chips! Danny talks the team through grokking Groq, so that we can talk about TPUs without losing our minds. He’s a good egg.
  • And, finally, Slice raised more money. Not from Tiger Global. We have good things to say about it.

And that is our show! We are back on Monday morning!

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!

#ai, #chips, #coinbase, #crypto, #degreed, #edtech, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #grab, #groq, #ipo, #outschool, #slice, #smb, #spac, #startups, #tc, #unicorn

Microsoft delivers emergency patch to fix wormable Windows 10 flaw

Stock photo of a beat-up pair of jeans.

Enlarge (credit: Cortney Dean / Flickr)

Microsoft on Thursday released an unscheduled fix for a critical security bug that makes it possible for attackers to remotely execute malicious code that can spread from vulnerable machine to vulnerable machine without requiring any interaction from users.

The flaw, in version 3 of Microsoft’s implementation of the Server Message block protocol, is present only in 32- and 64-bit Windows 10 versions 1903 and 1909 for clients and servers. Although the vulnerability is difficult to exploit in a reliable way, Microsoft and outside researchers consider it critical because it opens large networks to “wormable” attacks, in which the compromise of a single machine can trigger a chain reaction that causes all other Windows machines to quickly become infected. That’s the scenario that played on with the WannaCry and NotPetya in 2017.

In a bulletin accompanying Thursday’s patch, Microsoft said it has no evidence the flaw is being actively exploited, but the company went on to label the bug as “exploitation more likely.” That designation means malicious actors will probably develop and use exploits in the future.

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#biz-it, #exploits, #microsoft, #server-message-block, #smb, #vulnerabilities, #windows-10