Sharks Wash Up on Beaches, Stabbed by Swordfish

The discovery of impaled sharks on Mediterranean shores backs up old fishermen’s tales of the marine predators dueling with swordfish.

#fish-and-other-marine-life, #ichthyological-research-journal, #libya, #mediterranean-sea, #research, #sharks, #spain, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science


Turning 100, a Former Spanish Soldier Laments the Curse of His Birth Year

Andreu Canet is one of the last survivors of the “baby bottle conscription.” Born in 1920, they were drafted as teenagers in an ill-fated bid to stop Franco from winning Spain’s civil war.

#canet-andreu-1920, #content-type-personal-profile, #defense-and-military-forces, #draft-and-recruitment-military, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #spain, #spanish-civil-war-1936-39


Spanish Judge Releases a Fugitive Italian Mafia Suspect

A court spokesman said the judge had not been aware of accusations linking the fugitive to organized crime.

#ndrangheta, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #fugitives, #italy, #organized-crime, #spain


Using a Law It Hates, Far Right in Spain Takes Aim at Franco’s Rivals

Vox, an ultranationalist party in Madrid, is working to remove memorials to Socialist figures of the 1930s, calling the effort a warning that a “law of historical memory” should be abolished.

#franco-francisco, #largo-caballero-francisco, #madrid-spain, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #politics-and-government, #sanchez-perez-castejon-pedro-1972, #spain, #spanish-civil-war-1936-39, #vox-spanish-political-party


Nvidia will power world’s fastest AI supercomputer, to be located in Europe

Nvidia is is going to be powering the world’s fastest AI supercomputer, a new system dubbed ‘Leonardo’ that’s being built by the Italian multi-university consortium CINECA, a global supercomutin leader. The Leonardo system will offer as much as 10 exaflops of FP16 AI performance capabilities, and be made up of more than 14,000 Nvidia Ampere-based GPUS once completed.

Leonardo will be one of four new supercomputers supported by a cross-European effort to advance high-performance computing capabilities in the region, that will eventually offer advanced AI capabilities for processing applications across both science and industry. Nvidia will also be supplying its Mellanox HDR InfiniBand networks to the project in order to enable performance across the clusters with low-latency broadband connections.

The other computes in the cluster include MeluXina in Luxembourg and Vega in Solvevnia, as well as a new supercooling coming online in the Czech Republic. The pan-European consortium also plans four more Supercomputers for Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal and Spain, though those will follow later and specifics around their performance and locations aren’t yet available.

Some applications that CINECA and the other supercomputers will be used for include analyzing genomes and discovering new therapeutic pathways; tackling data from multiple different sources for space exploration and extraterrestrial planetary research; and modelling weather patterns, including extreme weather events.

#artificial-intelligence, #broadband, #bulgaria, #computing, #czech-republic, #europe, #finland, #flops, #gpu, #luxembourg, #mellanox, #nvidia, #portugal, #science, #spain, #supercomputers, #tc


Spain’s Savana Medica raises $15 million to bring its AI toolkit turning clinical notes into care insights to the US

Savana, a machine learning-based service that turns clinical notes into structured patient information for physicians and pharmacists, has raised $15 million to take its technology from Spain to the U.S., the company said.

The investment was led by Cathay Innovation with participation from the Spanish investment firm Seaya Ventures, which led the company’s previous round, and new investors like MACSF, a French insurance provider for doctors. 

The company has already processed 400 million electronic medical records in English, Spanish, German, and French.

Founded in Madrid in 2014, the company is relocating to New York and is already working with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and over 100 healthcare facilities.

“Our mission is to predict the occurrence of disease at the patient level. This focuses our resources on discovering new ways of providing medical knowledge almost in real time — which is more urgent than ever in the context of the pandemic,” said Savana chief executive Jorge Tello. “Healthcare challenges are increasingly global, and we know that the application of AI across health data at scale is essential to accelerate health science.”

Company co-founder and chief medical officer, Dr. Ignacio Hernandez Medrano, also emphasized that while the company is collecting hundreds of millions of electronic records, it’s doing its best to keep that information private.

“One of our main value propositions is that the information remains controlled by the hospital, with privacy guaranteed by the de-identification of patient data before we process it,” he said. 


#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #disease, #electronic-health-records, #health, #machine-learning, #madrid, #new-york, #pharmaceutical, #pharmacy, #seaya-ventures, #spain, #tc, #united-states


John McAfee Arrested in Spain, and U.S. Seeks Extradition

The U.S. authorities accused the former antivirus impresario of evading taxes and said his extradition to American soil was pending.

#fugitives, #john-mcafee, #justice-department, #mcafee-inc, #spain, #tax-evasion, #united-states


John McAfee arrested after DOJ indicts crypto millionaire for tax evasion

Cybersecurity entrepreneur and crypto personality John McAfee’s wild ride could be coming to an end after he was arrested in Spain today, now facing extradition to the US over charges spanning tax evasion and fraud.

The SEC accuses McAfee of being paid more than $23.1 million worth of cryptocurrency assets for promoting a number of ICO token sales without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. Furthermore the DOJ has levied a number of counts of tax evasion against McAfee, saying that he “willfully attempted to evade” payment of income taxes owed to the federal government.

In a brief announcing the arrest and unsealing of indictment documents, the DOJ also details that the charges are confined to McAfee the individual and that they did not find any connection with the “anti-virus company bearing his name.”

The DOJ’s charges against McAfee are a bit dry but detail 10 counts against the entrepreneur. McAfee faced 5 counts of tax evasion, which each carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, as well as 5 counts of “willful failure to file a tax return,” each carrying a maximum penalty of 1 year in prison.

The SEC filing is a much more interesting read, with 55 pages detailing a lengthy investigation into McAfee’s alleged fraudulent activity promoting a number of ICOs throughout 2017 and 2018. The report specifically notes that McAfee allegedly received more than $11.6 million worth of BTC and ETH tokens worth for promoting seven ICOs. Unfortunately, those offerings were not named in the suit. He additionally received $11.5 million worth of the promoted tokens, the suit alleges.

We have reached out to John McAfee for comment.

#articles, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #doj, #entrepreneur, #federal-government, #initial-coin-offering, #john-mcafee, #mcafee, #spain, #tax-evasion, #tc, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission, #united-states


Spain’s startup ecosystem: 9 investors on remote work, green shoots and 2020 trends

As reported in the first half of our Spain-focused VC survey, the nation’s startup ecosystem continues to grow and is keeping pace with ecosystems in more developed European countries such as U.K., France, Sweden and Germany.

While main hubs Madrid and Barcelona bump heads politically, tech ecosystems in each city have been developing with local support. According to this regional investor database, Spain is home to 62 angels, 84 seed funds and 19 Series A and beyond institutional funds.

As the capital and financial center, Madrid enjoys proximity to political power and multinational companies, which is likely why it’s home to a larger proportion of fintech startups. According to Dealroom, between 2015 and 2019, Madrid’s emerging companies raised €1.5 billion. In recent years, its Arganzuela district has become known as a startup hub, but Barcelona’s Districte de la innovació is also home to a growing number of established and upcoming technology companies.

May of 2020 saw a resumption of VC activity with €70.89 million invested in startups. Wallabox, the Barcelona-based electric charger company, closed the second part of €12 million from a Series A investment. Also in May, Belvo raised €9.09 million, Accure Therapeutics €7.6 million and Cubiq Foods €4 million.

Notable companies and data points:

  • Voovio Technologies — raised €15 million from Moira Capital.
  • MOVO — €13 million from Delivery Hero, Seaya Ventures and others.
  • Lana — $12.5 million from Base10, Cathay Innovation and other investors.
  • ProntoPiso — €1.6 million from existing shareholders.
  • Colvin — raised €14 million.
  • U.S./Spanish insurtech startup CoverWallet was sold to AON for $330 million.
  • MediQuo — raised €4 million.
  • Factorial — raised a €15 million in a Series A round led by CRV.
  • Holded — €6 million Series A round in 2019 led by Lakestar.

Here are the investors who shared their thoughts with us for the conclusion of our Spain VC survey:

Lourdes Álvarez de Toledo, partner, JME Ventures

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
SaaS. B2B.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
Subscription B2C app for managing kids from 0 to 18 years.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
Too much competition: travel. Interesting areas: quantum computing.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
More than 50% in Spain.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
Industries: cybersecurity. Companies: Lingokids, Devo, Genially, Glovo.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Spain has no Series B investors, so there are many opportunities for foreign Series B funds.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
At least in Spain, I think remote work will be only temporary. If you are freelance it is still important to work near the main cities.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19?
Retail, fashion, travel.

What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
Don’t take debt if it is not extremely necessary, try to be cash flow positive — although you have to sacrifice faster growth.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
Yes! In Genially: awesome growth.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
Schools opening again (four kids already).

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
Spain will be very harmed the next year, and so will the startup ecosystem.

Javier González-Soria y Moreno de la Santa, managing partner, Top Seeds Lab

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?

#barcelona, #covid-19, #europe, #fintech, #madrid, #spain, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital


Brands building for scale should look to hypercultural Latinx consumers

As two female investors who themselves identify as hypercultural (HC) Latinx, we see much potential for brands and startups that invest in this demographic.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on 13-to-25-year-old individuals who can trace their heritage to a Latin American country who have spent the majority of their lifetime in the U.S. Whether they were born in the U.S. doesn’t matter as much as how much time they have spent immersed in mainstream American culture. This is important to note because this demographic is largely defined by always having one foot in their parents’ native country and another in the United States.

In simplest terms: A Latinx person has origins from a country in Latin America, like Mexico or Brazil, while a Hispanic person has origins from a country where Spanish is the dominant language, such as Mexico or Spain. A Pew Research study found that one in four people who describe themselves as Hispanic or Latino have heard of the non-gendered “Latinx,” but only 3% of them use the term in everyday life.

So what makes the hypercultural Latinx so unique and worthy of pursuit? It’s not a secret that they have massive purchasing power behind them (a collective $1.9 trillion to be exact). However, they are also different from their mostly white counterparts in the way they vigorously engage with technology, their obsession with being online at all times and their unique shopping habits.

Hypercultural Latinx consumers are accustomed to being early adopters of new technology: 81% of them say they like to learn about the latest technology (overindexing their white counterparts by 36%). Latino households are filled with the latest gadgets and smart tech toys. Although we assume most Gen Zers and young millennials love technology, HC Latinx love tech at astronomical rates and shell out more dollars than their white, mostly monocultural counterparts.

This makes sense given that 60% of HC Latinx grew up in the internet age versus only 40% of their white counterparts. Across levels of HC Latinx income (or their parents’), there is always a budget for technology. In my own Mexican household (Ilse), I grew up prioritizing tech over other (sometimes more important) categories like books or vacations.

The online lives of the HC Latinx can be summed up by one statistic: 24% spend three hours or more on social media per day. compared to only 13% of their white counterparts. So much time is spent online by this Latinx youth that they are able to create a digital comunidad where they thrive socially and intellectually. This comunidad has so much influence in how the HC Latinx thinks about what they purchase and how loyal they are to the brands they buy from.

#brazil, #column, #diversity, #latin-america, #latinx, #mexico, #social, #spain, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #whatsapp


9 VCs in Madrid and Barcelona discuss the COVID-19 era and look to the future

Spain’s startup ecosystem has two main hubs: Madrid and Barcelona.

Most observers place Barcelona first and Madrid second, but the gap appears to close every year. Barcelona has benefitted from attracting expats in search of sun, beach and lifestyle who tend to produce more internationally minded startups.

Madrid’s startups have predominantly been Spain or Latin America-focused, but have become increasingly international in nature. Although not part of this survey, we expect Valencia to join next year, as city authorities have been going all-out to attract entrepreneurs and investors.

The overall Spanish ecosystem is generally less mature than those in the U.K., France, Sweden and Germany, but it has been improving at a fast clip. More recently, entrepreneurs in Spain have moved away from emulating success in pursuit of innovative technologies.

Following the financial crisis, the Spanish government supported the creation of startups with the launch of FOND-ICO GLOBAL, a €1.5 billion fund-of-funds in 2017, which put €800 million into the market that year. Three years later, the fastest-moving sector is tech. In 2018, Spain counted 4,115 active startups, reported 150sec. Barcelona has seen a boom in startups and support systems, with companies based there raising €2.7 billion between 2015 and 2019, almost doubling Madrid’s figure (according to Dealroom).

In the first half of a two-part survey that asks 18 Spain-based startup investors about the trends they’re tracking, we reached out to the following VCs:

Marta-Gaia Zanchi, managing partner, Nina Capital

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Infrastructural needs of the healthcare industry.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
We see opportunities in data liquidity, in silico trials, biotech manufacturing … for which enabling technologies may already exist from the information technology and semiconductor industry.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
What we always do: Great unmet need, deep understanding of healthcare stakeholder ecosystem, the right technology solution, a team we love to work with.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Local ecosystem: 10% Rest of the world: 90%.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
We only invest in healthtech. So, the answer is: healthtech 🙂

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
They all think we have a wonderful climate. After all, it’s Barcelona. Regarding the investment climate in particular, I believe too few international investors appreciate the full spectrum and significance of the opportunities that this city affords for starting and scaling a company.

Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Not really. I think most companies will continue to have HQs in the major hubs, but their teams are going to be more distributed. And hubs that were traditionally at disadvantage over the usual suspects will find themselves less so.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
We are specialized healthtech investors. All our investments to date are B2B companies selling to healthcare organizations.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
We decided to increase our reserves, to have more capital to support our portfolio companies in follow-on rounds. For more, see here.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
My team is amazing. With them by my side, I never lost hope.

Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
I know 2020 is a tragedy but … Isn’t it something to see everyone finally engaged in the conversations that matter (healthcare, science, public health, politics, equality, diversity).

#barcelona, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #europe, #madrid, #spain, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital


Vilified Early Over Lax Virus Strategy, Sweden Seems to Have Scourge Controlled

After having weathered high death rates when it resisted a lockdown in the spring, Sweden now has one of Europe’s lowest rates of daily new cases. Whether that is an aberration remains to be seen.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #great-britain, #netherlands, #spain, #stockholm-sweden, #world-health-organization


Crypto exchange Bitpanda closes $52M Series A from Valar Ventures, backed by Peter Thiel

Bitpanda, a crypto assets platform, has closed a $52 million Series A funding round form Valar Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by Peter Thiel. Vienna-based VC Speedinvest also participated, alongside other unnamed investors. Claiming 1.3 million users, Bitpanda has previously been trading digital assets and tokenizing precious metals.

The Vienna-based company will use the cash to expand internationally. It expanded to France, Spain and Turkey in 2020 and plans to enter additional European markets this year and next. It has 300 employees.

Essentially, Bitpanda is a crypto exchange which can support other kinds of assets in a tokenized form. To date, it’s not very well known or used in the Crypto world.

What this represents is an interesting move by a crypto exchange, effectively expanding into real-world assets. At the other end of the spectrum, platforms like eToro, Robinhood and Revolut, which came from traditional assets world, and are now adding Crypto world assets. Eventually, the two will meet, in some shape or form.

Bitpanda is a centralized exchange with its own infrastructure, and is not running on a public blockchain. Other centralized exchanges include Coinbase, Kraken, Binance, Kucoin and Huobi.

As part of the investment, Valar Ventures founding partner, Andrew McCormack, will also join Bitpanda’s board. McCormack was previously with PayPal in its early years and supported Peter Thiel during its IPO and eventual sale to eBay in 2002. Valar has previously invested in European fintechs including Transferwise and the Germany-based digital bank, N26.

#binance, #coinbase, #ebay, #etoro, #europe, #finance, #france, #kraken, #mobile-payments, #money, #n26, #online-payments, #paypal, #peter-thiel, #revolut, #spain, #tc, #transferwise, #turkey, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital, #vienna


Spanish Court Upholds Ban on Catalan Leader Quim Torra

The decision barring the separatist president of Catalonia’s regional government, Quim Torra, from holding public office confirms a ruling in December and threatens to reignite unrest.

#catalonia-spain, #decisions-and-verdicts, #politics-and-government, #secession-and-independence-movements, #spain, #torra-quim


As Virus Cases Surge in Europe, Hospitalizations Lag. But for How Long?

For now, countries are betting they can suppress hospital admissions and deaths without imposing more lockdowns, even as case numbers approach peak levels from last spring.

#belgium, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #epidemics, #europe, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #hospitals, #italy, #quarantines, #spain


Political Incompetence Can Be as Deadly as Covid-19

Spaniards did their part, staying home and wearing masks. But politicians quarreled among themselves and repeated the mistakes of the first wave of the virus.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #politics-and-government, #polls-and-public-opinion, #popular-party-spain, #spain


Spain’s top court rejects Glovo’s classification of couriers as self-employed

Glovo, a Spain-based delivery platform startup, is facing legal disruption in its home market after the country’s Supreme Court ruled against its classification of delivery couriers as ‘autonomous’ (i.e. self employed) — finding riders are instead in a laboural relationship with the platform.

It’s the latest in a string of legal rulings around the classification of Glovo riders in the country in recent years, some of which it has won. Although more recently momentum has been in the opposite direction, with a High Court decision late last year that also judged riders to be workers.

Today the country’s Supreme Court also refused to refer a preliminary question to Europe’s top court, arguing the defining characteristics of its contracts with riders concur, so it’s not clear where Glovo’s appeal can go next. A second ground for appeal was rejected for a formal compliance reason, per a judiciary press release (in Spanish).

In the PR — ahead of the release of the full judgement — the judiciary branch writes that the Plenary of the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court maintains Glovo is “not a mere intermediary in the contracting of services between businesses and distributors”.

“It is a company that provides delivery and courier services, setting the essential conditions for the provision of said service. And it is the owner of the essential assets to carry out the activity. For this, it uses delivery people who do not have their own and autonomous business organization, who provide their service inserted in the employer’s work organization,” it adds (via Google Translate). 

We’ve reached out to Glovo with questions about how it intends to respond to the ruling.

In a statement reported by El Mundo it has called for policymakers to update regulation around gig worker platforms, writing: “Glovo respects the judgment of the Supreme Court and awaits the definition of an adequate regulatory framework by the Government and Europe.”

At the EU level, the bloc’s lawmakers have signalled an awareness of concerns about conditions for gig workers.

Setting out an ‘Agenda‘ for her five year term late last year, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she would look at ways of improving the labour conditions of platform workers — although her suggested policy focus was a pretty soft one, of “skills and education”. So Europe’s courts may end up doing the heavy lifting on gig worker rights.

One key question is how viable is the ‘on-demand delivery’ model if the full cost of labor moves onto the balance sheet? It would certainly change the unit economics in markets where platforms can’t legally sidestep the costs of employing the thousands of humans they rely on to move packets around. (Hence some of these startups are shelling out on R&D to replace human riders with delivery drones/robots.)

In Glovo’s case, the company was in the news last week after it announced the sale (for $272M) of its LatAm business to German rival Delivery Hero — further concentrating its operations in the European market, after it exited the Middle East at the start of this year.

Last year it told us it was focused on trying to achieve profitability in 2021. Any such push would be complicated by requirements to reclassify large numbers of delivery riders as workers. So the Supreme Court ruling looks like it could have major implications for Glovo’s business.

#collaborative-consumption, #delivery-apps, #gig-platforms, #gig-worker-rights, #glovo, #lawsuit, #spain


Rough Play or Bad Intentions? Orca Encounters Off Iberia Baffle Experts

Nobody knows why the marine mammals have been ramming boats in waters from Gibraltar to Galicia, Spain, in recent months. Some vessels were so badly damaged that they had to be towed to port.

#galicia-spain, #sailboats-and-sailing, #spain, #whales-and-whaling


In Spain, Nightlife Is More Important Than Schools

The country needs an education revolution.

#coronavirus-reopenings, #education-k-12, #spain


A Coronavirus Second Wave Grips Spain

The coronavirus is spreading much faster in Spain than anywhere else in Europe. After a relative lull during the summer, experts fear it signals a new surge across the continent.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #malaga-spain, #politics-and-government, #quarantines, #spain


Xiaomi reports 3.1% revenue growth in Q2 despite restricted production in India

Xiaomi reported a revenue of $7.77 billion for the quarter that ended in June this year, up 3.1% since the same period last year and up 7.7% over the previous quarter as the Chinese smartphone maker sees recovery in most of its overseas markets.

The company, which appointed Alain Lam (former APAC senior executive from Credit Suisse) as its new CFO this week, said its profit in the second quarter stood at $650 million, up 129.8% year-on-year and 108% compared to Q1 2020.

Its smartphone sales, which still account for the bulk of its revenue, has recovered in most of its international markets. Excluding India, the average daily number of overseas smartphone activations reached 120% of the pre-pandemic level recorded in January 2020, it said.

India, its biggest market outside of China, is a different story. New Delhi ordered a nationwide lockdown in late March that resulted in closing of most shops across the nation. Package delivery of “non-essential” items ordered online were also restricted for weeks.

Even as India, where Xiaomi has been the top smartphone vendor for the last 12 quarters, has eased lockdown restrictions in the months since, daily number of smartphone activations were still at 72% (compared to January 2020) as of last month, Xiaomi said in its quarterly earnings presentation today.

Xiaomi said local production yields are to be blamed. “As the production capacity had not yet returned to the normal level, our sales were still limited by the production constraints,” it said.

The company has found a silver lining in Europe. In the second quarter of 2020, according to research firm Canalys, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments grew by 64.9% year-on-year in Europe, achieving a total market share of 16.8%.

In Western Europe, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments grew 115.9% year-on-year, accounting for a 12.4% market share. Similarly, according to Canalys, Xiaomi commanded the top smartphone vendor position in Spain, second in France, and 4th in Germany and Italy.

The company said shipment of its premium smartphones — those that sell at retail price of €300 ($350) or more — grew 99.2% year-on-year in international markets. “Driven by the higher proportion of sales from mid- to high-end smartphones, the average selling price of the company’s smartphones increased by 11.8% YoY and 7.5% QoQ,” it added.

The smartphone giant, which has been attempting to grow its advertisement business, said there were 343.5 million MIUI users as of June 30 this year, up 23.3% year-over-year. MIUI is Xiaomi’s custom Android operating system that runs on the vast majority of its smartphones. (Xiaomi has also launched a handful of smartphones with pure Android version.)

As the company’s smartphone install base grows, its advertising revenue is also surging. In the second quarter of 2020, its advertising revenue increased by 23.2% year-on-year to $450 million, it said.

#asia, #germany, #hardware, #india, #spain, #xiaomi


A Spanish Whistle-Blower Appeals to the E.U. for Help

Roberto Macías is invoking a new European Union law protecting whistle-blowers to argue that he should not have been convicted after exposing corruption in Spain.

#europe, #european-union, #spain, #whistle-blowers


With Coronavirus Cases Surging, Europe Braces for New Phase in Pandemic

Despite rules on masks and distancing, fears are growing that the end of the summer travel season will bring a wave of infections.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #europe, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #spain


Lana has launched in Latin America to be the one-stop shop for gig workers financial needs

Lana, a new startup based in Madrid, is looking to be the next big thing in Latin American fintech.

Founded by a serial entrepreneur Pablo Muniz, whose last business was backed by one of Spain’s largest financial services institutions, BBVA; Lana is looking to be the all-in-one financial services provider for Latin America’s gig economy workers.

Muniz’s last company, Denizen, was designed to provide expats in foreign and domestic markets with the financial services they would need as they began their new lives in a different country. While the target customer for Lana may not be the same middle to upper-middle-class international traveler that he had previously hoped to serve, the challenges gig economy workers face in Latin America are much the same.

Muniz actually had two revelations from his work at Denizen. The first — he would never try to launch a fintech company in conjunction with a big bank. And the second was that fintechs or neobanks that focus on a very niche segment will be successful — so long as they can find the right niche.

The biggest niche that Muniz saw that was underserved was actually in the gig economy space in Latin America. “I knew several people who worked at gig economy companies and I knew that their businesses were booming and the industry was growing,” he said. “[But] I was concerned about the inequalities.”

Workers in gig economy marketplaces in Latin America often don’t have bank accounts and are paid through the apps on which they list their services in siloed wallets that are exclusive to that particular app. What Lana is hoping to do is become the wallet of wallets for all of the different companies on which laborers list their services. Frequently, drivers will work for Uber or Cabify and deliver food for Rappi. Those workers have wallets for each service.

(Photo by Cris Faga/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Lana wants to unify all of those disparate wallets into a single account that would operate like a payment account. These accounts can be opened at local merchant shops and, once opened, workers will have access to a debit card that they can use at other locations.

The Lana service also has a bill pay feature that it’s rolling out to users, in the first evolution of the product into a marketplace for financial services that would appeal to gig workers, Muniz said.

“We want to become that account in which they receive funds,” he said. “We are still iterating the value proposition to gig economy companies.”

Working with companies like Cabify, and other, undisclosed companies, Lana has plans to roll out in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and eventually Colombia and Argentina.

Eventually, Lana hopes to move beyond basic banking services like deposits and payments and into credit services. Already hundreds of customers are using the company’s service, through the distribution partnership with Cabify, which ran the initial pilot to determine the viability of the company’s offering.

“The idea of creating Lana was initially tested as an internal project at Cabify,” Muniz wrote in an email. “Soon Cabify and some potential investors saw that Lana could have a greater impact as an independent company, being able to serve gig economy workers from any industry and decided to start over a new entrepreneurial project.”

Through those connections with Cabify, Lana was able to bring in other investors like the Silicon Valley-based investment firm Base 10.

“One of the things we’ve been interested in is in inclusion generally and in fintech specifically,” said Adeyemi Ajao, the firm’s co-founder. “We had gotten very close to investing in a couple of fintech companies in Latin America and that is because the opportunity is huge. There are several million people going from unbanked to banked in the region.”

Along with a few other investors Base 10 put in $12.5 million to finance the Lana as it looks to expand. It’s a market that has few real competitors. Nubank, Latin America’s biggest fintech company, is offering credit services across the continent, but most of their end users already have an established financial history.

“Most of their end users are not unbanked,” said Ajao. “With Lana it is truly gig workers… They can start by being a wallet of wallets and then give customers products that help them finance their cars or their scooters.”

The ultimate idea is to get workers paid faster and provide a window into their financial history that can give them more opportunities at other gig economy companies, said Ajao. “The vision would be that someone can pug in their financial information for services. If they’re working for Rappi and have never been an Uber driver and they want to be an Uber driver, Lana can use their financial history with Rappi to offer a loan on a car,” he said.

That financial history is completely inaccessible to a traditional bank, and those established financial services don’t care about the history built in wallets that they can’t control or track. “Today if you’ve been a gig worker and you go to a bank, that’s worth nothing,” said Ajao.

#argentina, #articles, #bank, #chile, #co-founder, #colombia, #economy, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #food, #getty-images, #gig-worker, #latin-america, #madrid, #mexico, #nubank, #peru, #serial-entrepreneur, #silicon-valley, #spain, #tc, #uber


Juan Carlos, Spain’s Former King, Is in the U.A.E.

The former monarch, Juan Carlos, said this month that he would be leaving his country amid a series of investigations related to his wealth.

#abu-dhabi-united-arab-emirates, #juan-carlos-i-king-of-spain, #spain


As Britain Climbs Out of an Economic Pit, Tough Questions Loom

The government’s aid programs are winding down, and officials are so far resisting pressure to extend them. But what if the virus resurges?

#conservative-party-great-britain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #france, #germany, #johnson-boris, #labour-party-great-britain, #politics-and-government, #spain, #sunak-rishi-1980


Where’s Juan Carlos? Exit of Scandal-Plagued Former King Grips Spain

His decision to leave Spain amid investigations related to his wealth has outraged many Spaniards and caused tensions within the country’s fragile coalition government.

#felipe-vi-king-of-spain, #juan-carlos-i-king-of-spain, #podemos-spanish-political-party, #popular-party-spain, #sanchez-perez-castejon-pedro-1972, #spain


Juan Carlos, Spain’s Former King, Quits Country Amid Multiple Investigations

The former king’s departure, which comes as he faces financial inquiries, may fuel Spain’s political and social debate over the future of the monarchy.

#felipe-vi-king-of-spain, #juan-carlos-i-king-of-spain, #money-laundering, #podemos-spanish-political-party, #politics-and-government, #royal-families, #spain


Google is building a new private subsea cable between Europe and the U.S.

Google today announced its plans to build a new subsea cable with landing points in New York in the U.S. and Bude, UK and Bilbao, Spain in Europe. The new cable, named after the pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, will join Google’s various other private subsea cables like Curie between the U.S. and South America, Dunant between the U.S. and France, and Equiano between Europe and Africa.

The new cable is scheduled to go online in 2022 and will be built by SubCom, which Google also contracted for work on its Dunant and Curie cables.

Image Credits: Google

Google plans to launch a new Google Cloud region in Madrid in the near future, so it’s maybe no surprise that it is also looking at how it can best connect the region to its global network. The new cable marks Google’s first cable to Spain and its first private subsea cable route to the UK.

The cable will feature 16 fiber pairs, which is a pretty standard number, but as the Google team stresses, it will be the first to use a new switching architecture the company developed in cooperation with SubCom. This new system is meant to provide increased reliability and to enable the company to better move traffic around outages.

Grace Hopper will be Google’s fourth wholly-owned cable. In addition to these private cables, the company is also a member of a number of consortiums that jointly operate cables around the world. In total, Google has now announced investments in 15 subsea cables, though it is also reportedly part of the upcoming Blue-Raman Cable that will run between India and Italy via Israel. The company has yet to confirm its participation in this project, though.

#africa, #cloud, #companies, #europe, #france, #google, #grace-hopper, #india, #israel, #italy, #madrid, #new-york, #oceans, #south-america, #spain, #tc, #technology, #united-kingdom, #united-states


Slowly, Italy Is Waking From the Coronavirus Nightmare

This is a very strange, subdued summer for a country with an economy that relies heavily on tourism and merrymaking. But E.U. aid is on the way.

#abruzzo-italy, #adriatic-sea, #beaches, #bergamo-italy, #brussels-belgium, #conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deaths-fatalities, #europe, #european-council, #european-stability-mechanism, #european-union, #florence-italy, #italy, #lombardy-italy, #naples-italy, #palermo-italy, #quarantines, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #rome-italy, #shutdowns-institutional, #spain, #stimulus-economic, #summer-season, #travel-and-vacations, #turin-italy, #tuscany-italy, #veneto-italy, #venice-italy


Quarantine Order Blindsides Britons Returning From Spain

Britain’s sudden decision to make travelers from Spain self-isolate for 14 days caught many vacationers by surprise — including the transportation secretary.

#british-airways-plc, #catalonia-spain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #quarantines, #spain, #travel-and-vacations, #travel-warnings


Plum raises $10M for its ‘smart’ money management app

Plum, the London and Athens-based fintech that offers a ‘smart’ money management app to help you improve your “financial resilience,” has raised a further $10 million in funding, as it gears up for European expansion.

The new round is led by Japan’s Global Brain, and the European Bank for Research and Development, which has participated in previous Plum funding rounds.

In addition, the company has received further funding from early backer VentureFriends, matched by the U.K. taxpayer via the U.K. government’s Future Fund scheme. Plum has raised $19.3 million in total since being founded by Victor Trokoudes (an early TransferWise employee) and Alex Michaelin in 2016.

Launched in the U.K. the following year, Plum is one of a number of fintech startups that is vying to become a user’s financial hub or control centre, in a way that goes far beyond the first generation of personal finance manager apps and bank account aggregators.

You link the app to you bank account and gain access to a range of functionality including savings, investments and analysis of your utility bills to help you make better purchasing decisions. Like similar apps, Plum’s “artificial intelligence” also deems what you can afford to save by analysing your bank transactions. It then puts money away each month in the form of round-ups and/or regular savings.

You can open an ISA investment account and invest based on themes, such as only in “ethical companies” or technology. Another related feature is “Splitter,” which, as the name suggests, lets you split your automatic savings between Plum savings and investments, selecting the percentage amounts to go into each pot from 0-100%.

In a call with Trokoudes, he talked me through a spew of recent Plum updates that he says bring it much closer to fulfilling its financial control centre mission and being a candidate to replace your individual banking apps.

Crucially, you can now link all of your accounts to Plum, whereas previously Plum only let you access a single linked bank account. This gives you “full visibility” of your saving, spending and investments all in a single app.

One the roadmap is also the ability to make payments via Open Banking — and Trokoudes doesn’t rule out a Plum card in the future as a complimentary feature with additional benefits, not a core offering, unlike numerous competitors.

More immediately, Plum is launching interest for savers who use Plum to set money aside but don’t want to invest any or all of it. Paid users are being offered an interest rate of 0.6% for instant access savings and 0.75% for 95 days notice. Plum users on its free tier can earn 0.35% interest.

Trokoudes explained that there’s also the option to split a percentage of the money put aside automatically, allocating deposits between the new interest-bearing account and Plum-powered investments.

Meanwhile, armed with fresh capital, Plum plans to launch in Spain and France by the end of 2020. The company claims 1 million registered users in U.K., and now employs more than 60 people split across London, U.K. and Athens, Greece. Trokoudes tells me it will scale up further to 80 employees by the end of 2020 and is aiming for 5 million users across Europe by the end of 2021.

Adds Naoki Kamimaeda, partner and Europe office representative at Global Brain Corporation: “More users have started using fintech apps and personal financial management apps across the globe, to be more efficient and be better off. Among these fintech apps, Plum has a very unique position and very bold ambition to be a partner of individuals to save more money and manage their financial life in an easier and more effective manner”.

#artificial-intelligence, #bank, #europe, #finance, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #france, #greece, #japan, #london, #plants, #plum, #spain, #tc, #transferwise, #united-kingdom, #up


Southern Europe Opens Its Doors to Tourists. Not Many Are Coming.

Most tourist beds are empty in Spain’s Canary Islands. Bookings are down in Italy despite government incentives. And ferries to the Greek islands are carrying less than half the load they once did.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #algarve-portugal, #canary-islands, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #greece, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #italy, #quarantines, #spain, #travel-and-vacations


K Fund’s Jaime Novoa discusses early-stage firm’s focus on Spanish startups

Earlier this month, Spanish early-stage venture capital firm K Fund officially launched its second fund, which sits at €70 million, up from €50 million the first time around.

Targeting Spanish startups with an international outlook, the seed-stage firm plans to invest from €200,000 to €2 million, writing first checks in 25-30 companies. Meanwhile, a portion of the fund will also be set aside for follow-on funding for the most promising of its portfolio.

Described as business model- and sector-agnostic, K Fund currently has a mix of B2B and B2C companies in its portfolio across a wide variety of sectors, such as travel, fintech, insurtech and others. They include online travel agency Exoticca, HR software Factorial, insurtech startup Bdeo and Hubtype, a conversational messaging tech provider.

I caught up with K Fund’s Jaime Novoa to delve deeper into the firm’s investment remit, how the Spanish startup and tech ecosystem has developed over the last few years and to learn more about “K Founders,” the VC’s new pre-seed funding program.

TechCrunch: K Fund’s first fund was announced in late 2016 to back startups in Spain with an international outlook at seed and Series A. At €70 million, this second fund is €20 million larger but I gather the remit remains broadly the same. Can you be more specific with regards to cheque size, geography, sector and the types of startups you look for?

Jaime Novoa: We’re both agnostic in terms of business models and industries. Since our focus is, for the most part, Spain, we do not believe that the Spanish market is big enough to build a vertically focused fund, either in terms of business model or sector.

With our first fund we invested in 28 companies, with a slightly larger number of B2B SaaS companies than B2C ones, and across a wide variety of sectors. We do have a bit of exposure to travel and fintech/insurtech, but that’s because we’ve found several interesting companies in those spaces, not because we proactively said, “let’s invest in fintech/travel.”

In terms of check sizes, the core of the fund will be to make the same type of investments as in our first fund: first cheques from €200k to €2m and then sufficient capital for follow-on rounds. We’ll probably do a similar number of deals compared to the previous fund, but we want to have additional capital for follow-on purposes.

#barcelona, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #extra-crunch, #financial-technology, #fundraising, #k-fund, #madrid, #portugal, #private-equity, #spain, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts, #virtual-reality


European Workers Draw Paychecks. American Workers Scrounge for Food.

In the pandemic, the United States has relied on expanded unemployment benefits, while European governments have subsidized wages, avoiding a surge in joblessness.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #europe, #ireland, #labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #recession-and-depression, #shutdowns-institutional, #spain, #unemployment, #unemployment-insurance, #united-states-economy, #wages-and-salaries


A Botched Restoration of a Painting in Spain Draws Outrage

A copy of a painting of the Virgin Mary by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was disfigured after it was cleaned by a furniture restorer. Restoration experts are calling for tighter regulation of their work.

#art, #madrid-spain, #murillo-bartolome-esteban-1617-82, #restoration-and-renovation, #spain


Bullfighting, Already Ailing in Spain, Is Battered by Lockdown

A storied tradition has been weakened by animal rights concerns. With the pandemic halting bullfights, breeders and others face hard choices.

#andalusia-spain, #bullfighting-and-bull-runs, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #iglesias-turrion-pablo-1978, #pamplona-spain, #podemos-spanish-political-party, #rodriguez-uribes-jose-manuel, #sanchez-perez-castejon-pedro-1972, #spain, #valencia-spain


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EU states agree a tech spec for national coronavirus apps to work across borders

European Union countries and the Commission have agreed on a technical framework to enable regional coronavirus contacts tracing apps to work across national borders.

A number of European countries have launched contacts tracing apps at this point, with the aim of leveraging smartphone technologies in the fight against COVID-19, but none of these apps can yet work across national borders.

Last month, EU Member States agreed to a set of interoperability guidelines for tracing apps. Now they’ve settled on a technical spec for achieving cross-border working of apps. The approach has been detailed in a specification document published today by the eHealth Network.

The Commission has called the agreement on a tech spec an important step in the fight against COVID-19, while emphasizing tracing apps are only a supplement to manual contacts tracing methods.

Commenting in a statement, European commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “As we approach the travel season, it is important to ensure that Europeans can use the app from their own country wherever they are travelling in the EU. Contact tracing apps can be useful to limit the spread of coronavirus, especially as part of national strategies to lift confinement measures.”

The system will involve a Federation Gateway Service, run by the Commission, that will receive and pass on “relevant information” from national contact tracing apps and servers — in order to minimise the amount of data exchanged and reduce users’ data consumption, per a Commission press release.

From the tech spec:

The pattern preferred by the European eHealth Network is a single European Federation Gateway Service. Each national backend uploads the keys of newly infected citizens (‘diagnosis keys’) every couple of hours and downloads the diagnosis keys from the other countries participating in this scheme. That’s it. Data conversion and filtering is done in the national backends.

“The proximity information shared between apps will be exchanged in an encrypted way that prevents the identification of an individual person, in line with the strict EU guidelines on data protection for apps; no geolocation data will be used,” the Commission added.

The key caveat attached to the agreed interoperability system is that it currently only works to link up decentralized contacts tracing apps — such as the Corona-Warn-App launched today by Germany — or the national apps recently released in Italy, Latvia and Switzerland.

Centralized coronavirus contacts tracing apps — which do not store and process proximity data locally on the device but upload it to a central server for processing, such as France’s StopCovid app; the UK’s NHS COVID-19 app; or the currently suspended Norwegian Smittestopp app — will not immediately be able to plug into the interoperability architecture, as we explained in our report last month.

Apple and Google’s joint API for coronavirus exposure notifications also only supports decentralized tracing apps.

“This document presents the basic elements for interoperability for ‘COVID+ Keys driven solutions’ [i.e. decentralized tracing systems],” notes the eHealth Network. “It aims to keep data volumes to the minimum necessary for interoperability to ensure cost efficiency and trust between the participating Member States. This document is therefore addressed only to Member States implementing this type of protocol.”

The Commission has been calling for a common approach to the use of tech and data to fight COVID-19 for months. However national governments have not fallen uniformly into line — with, still, a mixture of decentralized and centralized approaches for tracing apps in play (although the former now comprise “the great majority of national approved apps”, per the Commission).

It’s also playing the diplomat — saying it “continues to support the work of Member States on extending interoperability also to centralised tracing apps”.

Although it has not provided any detail on how that might be achieved in a way that’s satisfactory for both app architecture camps, given associated privacy risks/security trade-offs of crossing opposing technical streams.

This means that citizens in European countries whose governments have chosen a centralized approach for coronavirus contacts tracing may find, on traveling elsewhere in the region, they will need to download another country’s national app to be able to receive and send coronavirus exposure notifications.

Even decentralized national apps aren’t able to exchange relevant data yet, though. The interoperability architecture’s gateway interface still needs to be deployed — and national apps launched and/or updated before all the relevant pieces can start talking. So there’s a way to go before any digital contacts tracing is working smoothly across European borders.

Meanwhile, some EU countries have already started to reopen their borders to other European countries — ahead of a wider reopening planned for the summer.

This week, for example, a few thousand German holidaymakers were allowed to travel to Spain’s Balearic Islands as part of a trial aimed at restarting tourism. So EU citizens are already flowing across borders before national apps are in a position to securely exchange data on exposure risk.

#apps, #contact-tracing, #contacts-tracing-apps, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #europe, #european-union, #france, #germany, #health, #interoperability, #italy, #privacy, #public-health, #spain, #stopcovid, #switzerland, #thierry-breton, #united-kingdom


Ukraine’s Backlog of Babies Born to Surrogates Begins to Ease

Eleven foreign couples, previously barred by coronavirus restrictions, have entered the country to meet their newborns. But births are still outpacing pickups.

#argentina, #babies-and-infants, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #kyiv-ukraine, #quarantines, #spain, #surrogate-motherhood, #travel-warnings, #ukraine


A New Weapon Against Climate Change May Float

The wind power industry sees an opportunity in allowing windmills to be pushed into deeper water.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #oceans-and-seas, #spain, #wind, #wind-power, #windfloat-atlantic, #windmills


Coronavirus Turns a Spanish Sea Delicacy Back Into Daily Fare

With high-end restaurants closed, the price of prawns has tumbled, allowing fishmongers to pick up the shellfish at a discount and offer them to a much broader clientele.

#catalonia-spain, #chefs, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #paco-perez, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #spain


Spain’s Courts, Already Strained, Face Crisis as Lockdown Lifts

A country known for litigiousness has gingerly restarted court proceedings, and lawyers are bracing for chaos.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #spain


Coronavirus Cases Fall in Europe’s Capitals, but Fears Over Reopening Linger

Although declines in the numbers of new infections and deaths have brought relief in Europe’s major cities, there is uncertainty about how much people can now relax.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #france, #germany, #great-britain, #italy, #spain


How Confinement During the Pandemic Has Affected Spain’s Children

Families everywhere can take lessons from Spain as it struggles to help children cope.

#anxiety-and-stress, #children-and-childhood, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #emotions, #mental-health-and-disorders, #parenting, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #psychology-and-psychologists, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #spain


Target Global has a €1M “super seed” fund incoming to switch on laid off tech talent in Spain during COVID-19

Target Global is backing a €1 million support fund for tech talent in Spain laid off or furloughed as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The aim is to provide pre-seed financing to help crisis-hit tech workers switch gears and build out a startup concept over the next four to six months, covering living expenses plus enough funds to get going on a business idea.

The VC firm says they’ll be cutting checks of at least €25k/€35k up to €50k for “qualified applicants” — meaning the initiative could support between 20 and 30 local tech workers who have found themselves sat at home without a job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Target Global, which has some €700M under management, will contribute €500,000 to the early stage support initiative — with a further €500,000 chipped in from local founders, including entrepreneurs behind AlienVault, TravelPerk, Job & Talent, Badi and Adyen.

“The idea is to cap it at €1M for now,” says Target Global investment director, Lina Chong . “We don’t know where the end of the tunnel is but for now let’s say we cap it at that.”

“We want to give between 20 and 30 safe notes that are really super easy to deploy… which should be enough for one or two people to cover their living costs for four to six months… It’ll also cover initial startup costs. So found an entity, work with a designer and engineer. Develop your idea or concept into an actual beta or some sort of prototype and test some of your early assumptions, and get it ready for, essentially, a pre-seed round.”

“We’re calling it super seed,” she adds. “It’s like a real first check just to get you started.”

She says the VC firm will be putting up a landing page for the initiative shortly — this week or next, per Chong — to begin taking applications for the ‘safe notes’.

In terms of requirements, applicants must be located in Spain, and will be asked to specify a few categories their concept falls into; plus whether they’ve built anything yet; whether they have users; whether they’ve incorporated yet, and so on.

“All of those things can be ‘no’ — that’s totally fine,” Chong tells TechCrunch. “We will ask for your LinkedIn because we do want to have this go towards people in tech. We want to see some minimum amount of experience in startups or in technology — but you yourself don’t have to be an engineer.

“And of course the idea has to be pretty bold and ambitious… That’s going to be the bulk of our work — filtering through candidates where we feel they have the relevant background, plus what they’re thinking about it something really relevant and big.”

“We’re not looking to fund the next sunglasses shop,” she adds. “But if you have a different way to engage with government… [or] think about even media. There’s so many things up for grabs right now. There’s going to be a host of security, identity, so many issues. And that’s the stuff we’re looking for — real, big, global problems.”

Chong confirms that some of TargetGlobal’s own portfolio startups have had to lay off or furlough staff themselves during the crisis — including flatshare finder business Badi and business travel booking platform TravelPerk. Both of which are types of businesses that are very exposed to the national population lockdowns that have been imposed over most of Europe. (The travel sector has of course been especially hard hit.)

“Every business that’s been affected by shelter in place have had to let go of staff,” adds Chong, suggesting portfolio layoffs have been up to around a third for the worst affected startups.

Local founders have therefore been keen to support the initiative, not only to help the wider tech ecosystem in Spain, but as something they can point furloughed or laid off staff to as an opportunity.

“Everyday we’re getting more sign ups,” she adds, noting that founders can also choose offer mentorship/advice as well as chipping into the fund.

Target Global dialled up its focus on Spain last year, when it opened a country office in Barcelona. Though Chong, who is normally based in Barcelona, has been spending the lockdown period in Berlin, after returning to Germany from a trip to the US in March.

“For me this [crisis] is super unfortunate because one of the reasons we made a bet so early on Spain is because of exactly this talent — Typeform and all the gaming studios, and Facebook and Amazon in Madrid . Let’s say priming the early generation workforce. And giving them the ideas how to be in a tech company, how an organization runs, how to build product, how to think of marketing — all of this stuff. So I think it’s a big shame,” she says.

“Clearly Spain has a highly entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve come out of the last crisis… with a very ‘we make our own reality’ view of the world. And I think the same will happen in this crisis so we thought why won’t we just allocate a small amount of money — for our early stage fund it’s a relatively small check — it’s a very exploratory one.”

In terms of the business opportunities that may open up as a result of the societal and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chong suggests “a new way of thinking about consumer products and service” is certainly coming down the pipe.

“I would be shocked if there isn’t a plethora of ideas coming on how to rethink brick and mortar and rethink retail or consumer goods,” she says.

“This is a clear trend that brick and mortar, as a model, is not working. In the US, around the world, you see everything from massive shopping malls to main street small shops, owner-operated shops, all shuttering doors. And I think it’s a big opportunity — whether the entrepreneur decides to tackle this opportunity from a pure digital play to maybe it’s a turn on real estate? Maybe there’s a new model of thinking about shop ownership or what to do with that space? Because consumers are pretty fickle. They’re used to entirely new experience with Amazon. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for sure. The specific form or shape of that opportunity — I leave it to the wild imaginations of entrepreneurs.”

She also points to the whole value chain around retail — from supply chains to marketing, to manufacturing to getting the goods and services into consumers hands — as ripe for rethinking right now, adding: “I’m hoping there’s going to be a lot of innovation around even the supply chain aspects.”

Entrepreneurs in the country may also do well to focus their energy on ideas around reskilling/upskilling the large numbers of people who suddenly find themselves unable to do their usual work because of the impact of social distancing on traditional businesses and ways of working. Spain’s bar culture, for example, looks set to be very heavily hit by the coronavirus.

“How do we manage ourselves? How do we manage others in a remote working environment?” posits Chong. “There’s such a huge population of people where — it’s becoming pretty clear — that if you can’t work remote, if you’re not a knowledge worker, there’s a huge question mark over your ability to maybe more into those knowledge worker/desk type roles. And that’s a lot of value that’s left on the table. That’s human brains and muscle — just so much energy and potential that’s just kind of left out there.

“I would argue that a real forward thinking entrepreneur can think of ways to help utilize and bring meaning to these people’s skill sets.”

The terms of the safe notes will be “flexible”, according to Chong, though there will be a provision for investors to get a discount on the next round, i.e. if there is one. 

“You don’t have to pay it back if there’s no financing afterwards,” she says. “So far we really do want to keep it case by case — so it’s super flexible. It’s essentially like ‘hey, we want the option not the obligation to follow on in the next round’.

“Clearly, we’ll decide on that case by case. Anything beyond that we want to make sure that terms of the next fund — it’s likely going to be seed funds that come in at that next stage of the company life — we want to be able to keep the slate relatively clean in order for those funds to feel comfortable coming on board. So there’s not too much stipulated at the moment in the safe note.”

“It’s an amount. We can help you incorporate. It’s an option to the next round. There’s going to be a minimum discount — probably pretty standard, like 20%. And that’s pretty much it,” she adds.

#adyen, #barcelona, #consumer-products, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #europe, #knowledge-worker, #lina-chong, #madrid, #real-estate, #retail, #spain, #startups, #supply-chains, #target-global, #venture-capital


Leaving Lockdown, Entering Recession: Strike in Spain Shows Workers’ Fears

Two days after Nissan reopened its main car factory in Barcelona, a walkout at a smaller plant forced production to halt. It may be a hint of what’s to come.

#barcelona-spain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #nissan-motor-co, #organized-labor, #spain, #strikes


Uber Eats exits seven markets, transfers one as part of competitive retooling

Uber Eats is pulling out of a clutch of markets — shuttering its on-demand food offering in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Ukraine.

It’s also transferring its Uber Eats business operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Careem, its wholly owned ride-hailing subsidiary that’s mostly focused on the Middle East.

“Consumers and restaurants using the Uber Eats app in the UAE will be transitioned to the Careem platform in the coming weeks, after which the Uber Eats app will no longer be available,” it writes in a regulatory filing detailing the operational shifts.

“These decisions were made as part of the Company’s ongoing strategy to be in first or second position in all Eats markets by leaning into investment in some countries while exiting others,” the filing adds.

An Uber spokesman said the changes are not related to the coronavirus pandemic but rather related to an ongoing “strategy of record” for the company to hold a first or second position in all Eats markets — which means it’s leaning into investment in some countries while exiting others.

Earlier this year, for example, Uber pulled the plug on its Eats offer in India — selling to local rival Zomato. Zomato and Swiggy hold the top two slots in the market. (As part of that deal Uber took a 9.99% stake in Zomato.)

Uber Eats rival, Glovo, also announced a series of exits at the start of this year — as part of its own competitive reconfiguration in a drive to cut losses and shoot for profitability. It too says its goal is to be the first or second platform in all markets where it operates.

The category is facing major questions about profitability — with now the added challenge of the coronavirus crisis. (Related: Another player in the space, Uk-based Deliveroo, confirmed a major round of layoffs last week.) tl;dr, on-demand unit economics don’t stack up unless you can command large enough marketshare so it looks like the competitive pack is thinning as it becomes clearer who’s winning where.

In a statement on the latest round of Eats exits, Uber said: “We have made the decision to discontinue Uber Eats in Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Uruguay, and to wind down the Eats app and transition operations to Careem in U.A.E. This continues our strategy of focusing our energy and resources on our top Eats markets around the world.”

The discontinued and transferred markets represented 1% of Eats’ Gross Bookings and 4% of Eats Adjusted EBITDA losses in Q1 2020, per Uber’s filing. 

“Consistent with our stated strategy, we will look to reinvest these savings in priority markets where we expect a better return on investment,” the filing adds. 

The Uber Eats spokesman told us that the exits do not sum to any change to the ‘more than 6,000 cities’ figure for the unit’s market footprint — which Uber reported earlier this year.

Asked which markets the company considers to be priorities going forward the spokesman did not respond. It’s also not clear whether or not Uber sought buyers for the shuttered units.

Per Uber’s filing, Eats operations will be fully discontinue in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Ukraine by June 4, 2020.

Uber Rides operations are not affected, it adds.

A source familiar with Uber also said the changes will allow the company to focus resources on new business lines — such as grocery and delivery.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the on-demand food delivery business as usual in many markets — with convenience-loving customers locked down at home so likely to be cooking more, and large numbers of restaurants closed (at least temporarily), putting a dent in the provider side of these platforms too.

At the same time there is a demand upside story in the groceries category. And last month Uber announced a tie-up with a major French supermarket, Carrefour, to expand its delivery offering nationwide. It also inked other grocery-related partnerships in Spain and Brazil.

Grocery delivery has been seeing a massive uptick as consumers look for ways to replenish their food cupboards while limiting infection risk.

While other types of deliveries — from pharmaceuticals to personal protective equipment — also potentially offer growth opportunities for on-demand logistics businesses, which is how many major food delivery platforms prefer to describe themselves.

#apps, #brazil, #careem, #czech-republic, #egypt, #europe, #food-delivery, #india, #logistics, #middle-east, #on-demand-food, #on-demand-food-delivery, #online-food-ordering, #romania, #saudi-arabia, #spain, #uber, #uber-eats, #ukraine, #united-arab-emirates, #uruguay, #zomato


KlearNow raises $16 million to bring customs clearance industry into the digital age

Customs is the sieve of international supply chains. And yet despite its critical role, clearing customs for freight brokers can be a slow and opaque process reliant on manual data entry and prone to errors.

Silicon Valley-based KlearNow has developed a platform that aims to bring customs clearance into the digital age. Now, with $16 million new funding, KlearNow aims to expand its geographic reach and to improve its product to cover increasingly complex export-import verticals and time-sensitive shipments.

The company has certification to handle any import into the U.S., no matter what the commodity is. KlearNow is close to getting certified in Canada and UK, and plans to expand to Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Germany. KlearNow has about two dozen customers.

The Series A funding round was led by GreatPoint Ventures with additional participation from Autotech Ventures, Argean Capital and Monta Vista Capital . Ashok Krishnamurthi, managing partner at GreatPoint Ventures, will join KlearNow’s board. Daniel Hoffer from Autotech Ventures joining as a board observer.

“This is a significant opportunity to transform an archaic industry that is key to global commerce,” Krishnamurthi said in a statement.

The freight ecosystem is filled with different players from the factories and port authorities to the ship liners and the last-mile delivery companies. Each of them have their own systems.

“There’s no one system that you can transmit the data to,” KlearNow founder and CEO Sam Tyagi said in a recent interview. “So everybody dumps technology down to a PDF or a PNG or some sort of format that everybody can read. The broker gets those documents, and then they print it out — so now they become non-digital.”

If you go to any customs brokers office they look like the old doctor’s office where all those folders are there with nicely arranged, really organized but very manual process,” he added. From here, Tyagi said, a broker will read off from those printed out documents and type the information into another system that is communicated to Customs and Border Patrol’s system.

“It is very manual, it’s very small, and they work in a siloed system,” Tyagi said. “There is no visibility for the customer, or the importer and it’s very costly because of the manual intervention.”

KlearNow developed a digital customs clearance platform that aims to be agnostic. This allows importers, customs brokers and freight forwarders to integrate with local customs authorities and conduct business on a single digital platform remotely and in real time. The platform automates this process to eliminate errors and reduces the time to clear customs. KlearNow says it can slash customs clearance times from hours to minutes.

The startup is also betting that its platform will find new customers in this remote work era that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Custom brokers, who might normally travel into central offices and manage physical paperwork, are now faced with completing that task from home.

“Remote work is impossible for these people,” because they often need to access large format printers, Tyagi said. 

The company said its digital platform can funnel new clients, like these newly remote workers, directly to brokers for global customs clearance.

Tyagi said the company has also added new capabilities in response to COVId-19, such as expediting their FDA module to clear much-needed medical supplies and is temporarily offering free clearance for non-profit organizations that are importing masks, hand sanitizers, and ventilators.

#autotech-ventures, #belgium, #broker, #canada, #ceo, #customs, #economy, #fda, #germany, #greatpoint-ventures, #logistics, #monta-vista-capital, #netherlands, #silicon-valley, #spain, #tc, #transportation, #united-kingdom, #united-states


What Is ‘Covid Toe’? Maybe a Strange Sign of Coronavirus Infection

Dermatologists say the lesions should prompt testing for the virus, even though many patients have no other symptoms.

#american-academy-of-dermatology, #boston-mass, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #feet, #massachusetts-general-hospital, #skin, #smell-olfaction, #spain, #university-of-california-san-francisco, #your-feed-science, #youth