Startups – TechCrunch 30 January 2018

Mammoth Media, the startup behind chat fiction app Yarn, raises $13M

 Mammoth Media has raised a $13 million Series A funding to create what it calls “entertainment experiences for the mobile-first generation.” Mammoth isn’t not the first startup to pitch itself as reinventing entertainment for smartphones, but for the most part, that message has come from gaming companies. Co-founder and CEO Benoit Vatere said he wanted to take the… Read More

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Warby Parker launches pilot program for kids’ frames

 Warby Parker has been around for seven years, but today the company is finally unveiling a new product category. In a 12-week pilot program, Warby Parker is now offering kids’ frames to folks in the NYC area. The company is pulling from some of its most popular frames, shrinking them down to fit kids 8 years and up (Jr.) and kids ages 4-7 (Jr. Jr.). But why not go big with the launch… Read More

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Andrew Ng officially launches his $175M AI Fund

 As the founder of the Google Brain deep learning project and co-founder of Coursera, Andrew Ng was one of the most recognizable names in the machine learning community when he became Baidu’s chief scientist in 2014. He left there in early 2017 and launched a number of new AI projects. What he was really working on, though, was his AI Fund. Read More

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Virtual travel assistant Mezi acquired by American Express

 American Express announced today that it has acquired Mezi, the AI-based virtual travel assistant, for an undisclosed amount. After the deal closes, Mezi will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Express. Its technology is already powering AskAmex, a personal concierge app for cardholders that launched its pilot program last year. Read More

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BlaBlaCar is optimizing its service for small cities and has a new visual identity

 When you reach BlaBlaCar’s scale, you need to find customers who are hard to reach — literally. The French company announced an effort to optimize its ride-sharing for long-distance rides for people who don’t live in major hubs. BlaBlaCar now has 60 million users. When you list a ride on BlaBlaCar, you tell the service where you’re coming from and where you’re going. Read More

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France’s Digital Minister Mounir Mahjoubi on upcoming digital policies

 Mahjoubi joined Emmanuel Macron’s team as the person in charge of all things digital while Macron was campaigning to become France’s President. He joined the French government immediately after the 2017 election and has been in charge of Digital Affairs. In addition to being the go-to policymaker for the tech industry in general, he’s also working on digital initiatives… Read More

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Spendesk raises $9.9 million to build your next corporate card

 French startup Spendesk just raised $9.9 million (€8 million) from Index Ventures with Michael Benabou, Laurent Asscher and Showpad cofounders Louis Jonckheere and Pieterjan Bouten also participating. Spendesk is a service that combines prepaid cards with an expense report solution. After signing up, each employee receives a personal card. Companies can top up their global Spendesk account… Read More

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