Autobutler Raises €5.8M To Vet Garages For European Car-Owners

Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of startups appear that would like to bring the market power of the Internet to bear on a traditionally tough market: car repairs. We’re all too aware of the obvious issues to be solved: the lack of consistency and transparency, and the difficulty of vetting both the work of the garage and its customer service before you entrust your vehicle to them.

RepairPal has been around since 2007 and has raised $21.3M to date. Last year OpenBay launched its auto repair marketplace to connect car owners with local mechanics. YourMechanic wants to be the Uber of mechanics, sending you one on call. And BodyShopBids won funding for a site that allows consumers to solicit custom auto repair estimates by uploading a photo.

Now Autobutler, an online platform for car maintenance and servicing, has raised €5.8m in a round led by Index Ventures. Index lead the round with participation from existing investors including Dawn Capital and Nordic venture capital firm Creandum. The funds will be used to expand across Europe, starting with Germany and the UK.

The site claims 140,000 customers have used it to find a garage to repair or service their car, chosen from 3,300 garage chains or independent workshops.

A user selects their make and model of car on the site, the work that needs to be done, a location, and the job goes out to 24 hour tender. Within 24 hours, the car-owner receives up to three offers from vetted local garages, and can read customer reviews before making their choice.

Autobutler’s Global CEO and Partner Christian Legêne believes its killer feature is its CRM tool for individual mechanics and larger chains where they can get deeper insight on how to improve their business and at the same time making it easy for them to find customers online.

With so many US startups concentrating on their home market, it looks like Autobutler has a pretty good window of opportunity here.

More here: Autobutler Raises €5.8M To Vet Garages For European Car-Owners

The Fate of The 98-Year-Old At The Heart of SF’s Anti-Eviction, Tech Protests Is Still In Doubt

Mary Elizabeth Phillips, the 98-year-old woman who has been at the heart of San Francisco’s ongoing anti-eviction and tech protests, still faces an uncertain future.

After living just a few blocks from Dolores Park for a half-century in the Mission District, the epicenter of the city’s tech gentrification and Google Bus wars, she has been fighting an ongoing eviction battle for more than a year.

“Young lady, I’m 98 years old,” she told me when I visited over the weekend. “I’m in fair shape for an old lady of my vintage, but I’m not going anywhere. They’ll have to take me out of here feet first.”

Phillips doesn’t have children, so it’s not clear where she would go after living in San Francisco since 1937. And if the other remaining tenant, public school teacher Sarah Brant, is evicted, Phillips will basically be left alone inside an otherwise empty building. All the other residents have either been evicted or bought out.

Her story became a rallying cry for activists, who say a tech-fueled economic boom is fueling rent increases and evictions across the city. In particular, they focused on a legal loophole from a two decade-old law called the Ellis Act.

That law was explicitly created to give property owners the leeway to go out of business as landlords. But instead, anti-eviction activists pointed out that certain landlords were abusing the Ellis Act, to do no-fault evictions of longstanding tenants and then resell the empty individual units as tenancies-in-common. (I mentioned Phillips’ case in a long story on the housing crisis back in April, so this is an update on her situation.)

A very broad coalition of activists, policy makers and the tech community came together to change the Ellis Act at the state level. State Senator Mark Leno introduced a bill that would have required property buyers to own a building for at least five years before they could invoke the law. (Phillips’ landlord Urban Green had owned her building for less than a year before it started eviction proceedings against the tenants in the building.)

In an urgent push to get the bill passed, Phillips and Mayor Ed Lee testified in Sacramento, while longtime angel investor Ron Conway also asked tech companies to write in letters of support for the act.

But the effort failed three weeks ago.

Leno couldn’t secure a couple of key votes from Southern California representatives in time. The real estate lobby was simply too powerful.

So Phillips’ fate is still in doubt.

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Last Friday, Business Insider and a few other publications reported that her landlord Urban Green Investments, was going to allow her to stay for free through the end of her life.

“Urban Green Investments and 55 Dolores Street, LLC have offered Mary Phillips the opportunity to remain in her home for the rest of her life with no cost to Mary. This offer was first communicated to Ms. Phillips’ lawyer in March 2014, and has been the topic of negotiation ever since then.”

(Urban Green has not replied to any of my requests for comment, and Phillips hadn’t heard of the offer when I talked to her on Saturday.)

The issue is that even if she is allowed to stay, she’ll be alone. While the rest of the building has been emptied out, there is one other tenant still there. It’s a friend and public school teacher at Balboa High named Sarah Brant, who sometimes helps out with Phillips’ needs and has lived in the building since 1998.

While Phillips’ case was filed, it was not served.

In contrast, Brant’s case is being actively litigated.

“It’s an illusory offer,” said Joseph Barber, who has been working on the case through the non-profit Tenderloin Housing Clinic. “It’s not really feasible for her to continue living there without Sarah.”

I’ve followed the case for the last few months. When I spoke to Brant’s lawyer back in April, the clinic was actively working on a half-dozen other cases involving Urban Green. At the time, Urban Green was also in the process of evicting a severely disabled Chinese-American woman and her son nearby.

“This is their business practice. This is their modus operandi. They purchase buildings with senior and disabled tenants and serve them with eviction notices,” said Tenderloin Housing Clinic attorney Matt McFarland back in April. “This is not even an isolated event.”

Brant, who can no longer speak to the press because she is in active litigation, told me back in April:

“It’s heart-breaking. Our dominant culture in the United States doesn’t show a lot of love to elders. Elders can really be isolated,” she said. “Mary wakes up every morning. She knows where she is. She knows where her things are. She has 50 years worth of memories and pictures here.”

Aside from the costs of legal representation, the filing fees alone are more than Brant earns in a single month as a public school teacher (and you can see what San Francisco teachers make here).

McFarland estimated back in April that Brant would be facing at least $6,500 in legal costs, although that figure is higher now. The clinic didn’t have a hard figure when I spoke to them today. There is a crowdfunding campaign from the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project to cover their legal fees here. Anything extra raised will go toward legal defenses for senior tenants.

Phillips moved to San Francisco in 1937, when her first husband was in the Navy. She worked as an accountant and moved into the building at least 50 years ago. She remembers going to dance at the Fairmont, and sunbathing in an open field nearby.

“I feel that I’ve lived a good life,” she said. She was married and widowed three times. “All happy,” she added.

Before Urban Green evicted all the other tenants aside from Brant and Phillips, there were several other families living there. There was a couple who worked in a restaurant and their baby, a special education teacher, a nurse at San Francisco’s General Hospital and their partner.

“Everyone was really happy living in our building,” Brant told me back in April. “We got along really well.” The toddler would go and watch TV with Phillips at night.

But in the last few months as the building has fallen into disrepair, homeless people have clambered in from the construction site next door to sleep in the building’s walkways. They were cleared out in the last week or two. There’s also been one break-in.

“Most of my friends are all gone,” Phillips said, flipping through an album on her coffee table full of photos of old friends who had long passed away. “Thank God Sarah is still here.”

More here: The Fate of The 98-Year-Old At The Heart of SF’s Anti-Eviction, Tech Protests Is Still In Doubt

Nosto Bags $5.5M To Help Smaller Online Stores Fight Ecommerce’s Amazons

Nosto, a customer recommendation marketing engine designed to help the smaller fish in the ecommerce pool make a bigger splash by improving their online stores with more tailored product recommendations and customer outreach, has closed a $5.5 million Series A funding round, led by European VC firm Wellington Partners.

The Finnish startup took in a $2.8 million seed round back in April 2013, with backing from Open Ocean CapitalSanomaVentures and a number of undisclosed angel investors. Open Ocean Capital and SanomaVentures also participated in its new round, along with Tekes, the Finnish government-backed Funding Agency for Innovation.

Nosto’s automated marketing system for ecommerce SMEs analyses user behaviour to tailor the experience they have with the ultimate aim of encouraging them to spend more and thus help the business compete better with ecommerce behemoths like Amazon.

The product was launched in October last year, and the startup says it now has more than 1,200 online retailer users — NB: not all of whom are paying (given that it offers retailers a free trial). It launched a self service version of its product six months ago and claims to have seen revenue grow by 500% over that period.

Nosto’s plans for the new cash injection include continued development of its core product with a focus on scalability and making it easier to use, as well as adding new features. It says it will also be spending on recruitment, with hiring in biz dev, R&D, marketing and management on the cards – to help fuel plans to develop new products and ideas to monetize.

Other areas where the money will go include marketing, partnering with other ecommerce platforms to expand its reach, and market expansion (with plans to expand into new markets and expand its overseas operations), according to CEO and founder Juha Valvanne.

How has Nosto been spending its time (and prior funding) over the past year+? “Overall we did a lot of things related to onboarding, ease of use, and decreasing go-to-live time with Nosto. Many of the new merchant features rolled out were related to give more control over the recommendation logic (how to filter/choose the products recommended) to merchants. We also rolled out the second generation of our Javascript integration with merchant sites which enables better support for JS-heavy sites,” he told TechCrunch.

“Some of the improvements were about have better support for a/b or multivariable testing and optimising sites. During the spring we did a lot of research and piloting related to new features and products that are to be rolled out later this year.”

Commenting on the funding, Eric Archambeau, Wellington Partners’ Managing Partner, said the firm sees a big opportunity for ecommerce analytics and marketing automation tools to help close the gap between the online retail behemoths and the rest of the field.

“We see a huge opportunity for a new generation of such tools to help small and medium-sized online stores level the playing field in terms of performance against e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Rakuten,” he said in a statement.

“These big companies have developed a data-driven advantage over smaller web shops that could not afford the same level of R&D in data mining and predictive modeling. The combination of deep technology and simplicity offered by Nosto made us very excited about joining forces with Nosto’s founders and existing investors.”

Follow this link: Nosto Bags $5.5M To Help Smaller Online Stores Fight Ecommerce’s Amazons

NEA Backs BetterDoctor’s Quest To Develop Tools To Find A Better Doctor

For Ari Tulla, the chief executive officer in NEA’s newest portfolio company, BetterDoctor, the decision to launch a company was a matter of more than just money.

Almost ten years ago, Tulla’s wife began treatment for a serious illness. At the time the couple was living in Europe and spent months looking for a doctor, when Tulla’s job with Nokia took him to the U.S. they had to relive the process again in the labyrinthine maze of the U.S. healthcare system.

“I became a super-user,” says Tulla of the hours he spent trolling the California peninsula looking for specialists. “We saw 40 different doctors [and] along the way I decided that this is a pain point.”

According to Tulla, some 70 million patients in the U.S. will switch their physicians or seek additional consultations or treatment, and BetterDoctor aims to make that process easier — thanks in part to $10 million in new financing led by NEA.

Tulla launched BetterDoctor three years ago in the waning days of Nokia with his partner, another Nokia employee, Tapio Tolvanen to make the process easier. Based on social media reviews, physicians’ social networks, and a host of other public and private data, BetterDoctor offers would-be patients a one stop shop for vetting, selecting, and booking appointments with doctors based on user criteria.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.16.21 AM

The company isn’t without competition, companies like ZocDoc provide online scheduling services and organizational tools for doctors’ offices, while HealthGrades, offers online services to select a physician. The company sees itself as a combination of the two, like an OpenTable and Yelp service for the buffet of medical services offered under a customers’ health care plan.

BetterDoctor pulls its information from a number of sources including Yelp, Doximity, and Federal health professional registries. The database serving information to the site’s users took nearly a year and a half to put together. That initial legwork was financed by a broad consortia of seed stage investors including Burrill & Company, Commerce Ventures, Kima Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, 500 Startups, MESA+, and SoftTech VC.

While the company’s basic service is free, there are new premium offerings on the way that will cost money for both prospective patients and for doctors. Six months ago the company allowed doctors to create and change their profiles. Soon, BetterDoctor will begin charging for premium sites for doctors that have been vetted as top-quality physicians by the service.

While Tulla does expect to see a shakeout in the industry, he’s not worried about things in the admittedly heavily invested healthcare information technology market becoming overly frothy anytime soon.

“You’re looking at a funnel here that is $800 billion a year,” he says. “There’s no one company that will own that market.”

View post: NEA Backs BetterDoctor’s Quest To Develop Tools To Find A Better Doctor

DigitalOcean Expands To London

Cloud hosting company DigitalOcean announced its third expansion into Europe today with a new data center in London. The company added two facilities in the Amsterdam region earlier this year. This new center will be located on the outskirts of London proper to meet the growing developer demand in the area.

London’s tech scene has been bubbling up for the past couple of years. A recent report from Bloomberg shows tech jobs have accounted for 30% of all new job growth in the city since 2009. According to the city now has 32 accelerators and incubators for start-up companies and more than 340 London-based tech companies have attracted investment of over £1.47 billion (or U.S. $2.9 billion). DigitalOcean estimates over 10,000 developers currently work in London.

This puts the city on the map for key user growth, but it also helps DigitalOcean with government regulations. Europeans may be a bit nervous about an American data center after revelations made by Edward Snowden about the NSA mining our data. The European Union’s Data Privacy Directive currently makes it difficult for data to be moved outside of the region. Any lag in data can cause a loss in users and potential revenue. According to this KissMetrics infographic, even a 1 second delay can result in a 7% reduction in users.

The new London location will also run IPv6 support on all “Droplets” – the company’s branded term for cloud servers. IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet. It can also be added to existing Droplets without the need for a reboot.

DigitalOcean raised $37.2 million from Andreesen Horowitz just a few months ago. Part of that money will now be used to expand to more data centers globally, including London. The European market is important to the company. According to CEO Ben Uretsky, about 20% of the company’s presence is outside the U.S. There are already two data centers in operation around Amsterdam. Headquartered in New York, DigitalOcean has data centers in San Francisco, Singapore and now in the UK as well.

Here is the original post: DigitalOcean Expands To London

Predicting A Future Free Of Dollar Bills

Editor’s note:  Simon Black is CEO at London-based Sage Pay.

Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.

Is this a realistic vision of the future, or are we only ever likely to see such scenes in science-fiction movies such as Minority Report? Predicting the future is never easy, but I believe that new technologies will prove the death knell for cash. We’re not there yet, but a cashless society is not as fanciful as it seems. Recent research suggests that many believe we will stop using notes and coins altogether in the not-too-distant future.

New payments technologies are rapidly transforming our lives. Today in the U.S., 66 percent of all point-of-sale transactions are done with plastic, while in the U.K. it’s just under half. But while a truly cashless society is some time away yet, there is raft of groundbreaking technologies that will make cash a mere supporting act in the near future.

Take contactless cards for instance. They are perfect for those small purchases. Why go to the hassle of carrying loose change when you can swipe a card to make a purchase within seconds? Thirty-one percent of us put an item back on the shelf if we aren’t carrying enough cash. Consumers want the convenience new technologies offer, and retailers are losing billions a year by not offering a range of payment options.

Contactless cards help address this problem, and although leading High Street retailers now accept them, many independent retailers don’t yet. But as we become accustomed to the convenience of contactless, we will expect it everywhere we shop. I’ve seen it happening abroad already. In Iceland, the buses don’t take cash; taxis assume you are paying by card; coffee shops expect you to wave the plastic for a simple espresso. Sweden isn’t far behind. It will happen in the U.S. and U.K., too.

It’s not just our need for quick, convenient shopping with fewer queues that is driving change.  The costs to retailers to process transactions should drop dramatically in the next few years. The comparatively high cost that banks charge retailers for processing credit and debit card payments should come down. The European Union (EU) will soon cap the amount banks can charge retailers to process card payments. This should result in contactless transactions being made in most stores in Europe within the next few years.

Making payments with smartphones will also become the norm within a few years. We’ve been talking about using a mobile to make payments for at least a decade, but now the moment has arrived.

A U.K. service called Paym allows people to transfer money to retailers or friends by using a mobile banking app on their phone. Since its recent launch, 500,000 phone numbers have been registered. Some 90 percent of U.K. current account holders will be able to use it by the end of the year.

There are a number of similar apps provided by mobile phone operators, technology groups and payment specialists like PayPal. According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, the value of goods and services purchased using a mobile phone will almost triple from £4.8 billion last year to £14.2 billion in 2018.

All these developments mean we will use cash less. A further benefit for us is that it will give us peace of mind as there will be less concern over having money stolen. The technology being used to usher in a cashless age offers security benefits to its users, as it’s very easy to shut down a smartphone’s digital wallet remotely if it falls into the wrong hands. By removing cash, you reduce the chances of becoming a target of crime, while using electronic payments can provide a trail of statements that can help to manage your finances.

Even cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are moving in on the mobile payments act. Apple has recently announced that it has updated its App Store guidelines to allow software developers to include virtual currency transactions in apps. Although Apple has not specified which virtual currencies have been approved, it’s likely that bitcoin, as the world’s most widely used virtual currency, will be included. Nevertheless, the public still has to be convinced by bitcoin – 1 percent of people have used it within the last month.

Perhaps the most exciting development is the prospect of biometrics technology such as fingerprint, retina scans and voice recognition, being made available by retailers for transactions in the future. This will make it even easier for us to buy products in store and online. Biometrics offers simplicity, convenience and security. Biometrics will also make fraud virtually impossible – identification is yours and yours alone, and therefore very hard to copy.

Recent research shows that 47 percent of us think we’ll be using our fingerprints to make purchases within 10 years. So who knows? With such public expectation, perhaps using a fingerprint to buy our groceries won’t be confined to the imaginings of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

IMAGE BY Shutterstock USER tawan

The rest is here: Predicting A Future Free Of Dollar Bills

Apple responds to China’s criticism of iOS frequent location feature, says it doesn’t track users

Last Friday, Apple got into a spot of trouble in China after the country’s state broadcaster aired a news program that criticized the iPhone for tracking frequent location information. The feature is available on iOS 7, and keeps track of places you have recently been, as well as how often and when you visited them.

In an introduction of the feature, Apple notes that the data “is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent” — instead it is used for personalized services such as predictive traffic routing.

State-run China Central Television’s news program stated that there are risks involved in the frequent location tracking feature, in particular encroaching user privacy by disclosing where users have been to.

Apple responded with a statement on its Chinese site, saying that it appreciated CCTV’s effort to help educate consumers on this topic which it thinks is very important. “We want to make sure all of our customers in China are clear about what we do and we don’t do when it comes to privacy and your personal data,” the company said.

It clarifies that Apple does not track users’ locations — “Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” Instead, as customers want their iPhones to reliably determine their current locations when they search for location-related information such as finding the nearest restaurant or calculating the amount of time to get to work, Apple says it collects information at the “device level.”

Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using pre-stored WLAN hotspot and cell tower location data in combination with information about which hotspots and cell towers are currently being received by the iPhone.

In order to accomplish this goal, Apple maintains a secure crowd-sourced database containing known locations of cell towers and WLAN hotspots that Apple collects from millions of Apple devices. It’s important to point out that during this collection process, an Apple device does not transmit any data that is uniquely associated with the device or the customer.

Apple also says that ‘Frequent Locations’ are only stored on a customer’s iOS device and are encrypted and never backed up on iTunes or iCloud, and Apple does not have access to the information at any time. The feature can also be turned off via the privacy settings.

“Apple gives customers control over collection and use of location data on all our devices. Customers have to make the choice to enable Location Services, it is not a default setting. Apple does not allow any app to receive device location information without first receiving the user’s explicit consent through a simple pop-up alert. This alert is mandatory and cannot be overridden,” the company said.

This isn’t the first time Chinese state media have singled out Apple for attack — but the company is treading very carefully as the country has risen to become a crucial market for Apple in the past few years. Apple’s Q4 2013 earnings showed that for the full year, the greater China region generated $27 billion in revenue, up 14 percent year-on-year.

Headline image via Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

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Doggie-Focused Bark & Co. (BarkBox) Raises $15 Million Series B

Bark & Co., the doggie-themed technology company best known for its dog treat-delivering subscription business BarkBox, and more recently, its vet care-on-demand service BarkCare, has just closed on 15 million in Series B funding. The company raised $10 million in inside round led by previous investor, along with RRE, BoxGroupLerer VenturesBertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Slow Ventures, Daher Capital, CAA, and Vast Ventures, with the remaining in debt financing from City National Bank.

Explains co-founder Matt Meeker, the company – cash-flow positive since Q4 2013 – actually had a few options on the table. There’s was the opportunity to raise a growth round, or sell to a larger company. (Word has it a big-name pet retailer was interested in an acquisition.)

“We kind of went this middle route,” he says. “[Investors] made an offer that let us put a little bit of money in the company, and we coupled that with a line of credit. Basically, it’s cushion in case the world makes a turn on us that’s unexpected, or if other opportunities come along,” adds Meeker.


The new round increases Bark & Co.’s valuation by 10-11 times over its previous A round, from April 2013. As of February this year, the company reported a $25 million revenue run rate, and is projecting to grow that 3 or 4 times over by next year, at which point it will consider a further growth round.

Another reason it wants to hold off on a larger growth round is to give a couple of its newer businesses more time to scale – and yes, Bark & Co. has several of those. People really love their dogs, and Bark & Co. capitalizes on that through a number of different avenues.


Founded in 2011 by Meeker along with Henrik Werdelin and Carly Strife, Bark & Co. initially focused on subscription-based e-commerce via BarkBox. That service sends out a monthly box of dog treats and toys, based on your dog’s size. Today, BarkBox has 200,000 paying customers who pay anywhere from $18 to $29 per month (depending on their subscription) for a box a goodies. The company makes about $20 per box, but delivers $40 to $50 in retail value, says Meeker.

Subscribers, once they join, seem to stick around, too. 75% commit to a longer-term plan, and retention is “well north” of 90%. A few months ago, Bark & Co. even figured out how to get more money out of this enthusiastic dog-lovin’ user base by offering the option to add a toy for an additional $9 per month. And 20% of its customers signed up.


Meanwhile, Bark & Co.’s newly launched vet care service BarkCare has made hundreds house calls since its February debut in New York. Offering on-demand vet appointments for more routine matters, like puppy shots, rabies vaccines and other minor ailments, the company has since expanded to the San Francisco Bay Area and has doubled the number of visits in its second quarter over the first.


The plan now is to do the volume of a normal city vet practice – each city at around $2 million per year – before expanding the business into other markets.

The BarkPost

And if that’s not enough, Bark & Co. also runs a content portal called The BarkPost, which has grown from 1 million visits in December to now 10.5 million visits as of last month. That business, which also serves as lead gen for BarkCare and BarkBox, is only now starting to generate revenue through sponsored posts from brands like FreshPet, Roomba, 1-800 Flowers and others. The site was run by a team of one all last year, and now has a 4-person crew, including its first biz hire in April.



The company also recently rolled out a new mobile application for dog adoption called BarkBuddy, which works sort of like a “Tinder for dogs” – meaning that you swipe left or right to indicate whether or not you love the doggie’s photo that displays. When you like a dog, you’re then pointed to the local shelter where the dog can be adopted, thanks to its integration with pet data aggregator, Pet Finder.

BarkBuddyBarkBuddy saw over 100,000 downloads in its first month, and has led to at least 100 adoptions. (Bark & Co. doesn’t have a direct means of tracking this.)

Some time later this year, BarkBuddy will start helping tie Bark & Co.’s businesses together by offering pet “test drives” where you get to take home a dog for a weekend to see if it’s a fit for you and your family. The idea is that the dog would be vetted via BarkCare vets, and you could order a bunch of starter products like leashes or bowls through Bark & Co. as part of this package deal.

“It comes from a place of trying to get more dogs into more homes,” Meeker explains. “About 40% of time, [fosters] fail – they never bring the dog back to the shelter, they just end up keeping it.”

If Bark & Co. can get people to commit for the weekend, they believe a number of people will end up falling in love with the dog and want to keep it.

More To Come, Including BarkCam

Another app just around the corner, BarkCam, will be just a bit of fun – you can dress up your doggie’s photos with filters, stickers, quotes and meme text.

The funding round doesn’t change much in terms of Bark & Co.’s plans to grow the business or its head count, notes Meeker. “The operating plans hasn’t really changed at all,” he says. “We’ll keep adding the people we need and building the businesses at the pace we grow…it’s just nice to have [the funding] for opportunities that come up.”

Today, Bark & Co. has grown to 54 employees, up from 45 at the beginning of the year, the majority based in New York. Of course, if you count the number of dogs hanging around the office on any given day, though, you can up that number by another dozen or so.

The rest is here: Doggie-Focused Bark & Co. (BarkBox) Raises $15 Million Series B

Chinese State Media Renews Anti-Apple Rhetoric, Calls The iPhone A “National Security Concern”

Apple has faced a fair amount of state-sponsored criticism in China, a market where the prevailing powers have a stated goal of promoting more home-grown network and IT solutions. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s iOS 7 poses a threat to national security because of its ‘Frequent Locations’ feature, which identifies and provides users a map of their oft-visited places, for the explicit purpose of improving various device functions.

This location information could be used to potentially sleuth out information about the state of affairs in China, including possibly “state secrets” according to Chinese researchers quoted in the report, which was broadcast on the state-run China Central Television network on Friday. CCTV has previously been critical of Apple, including when it accused the company of discriminatory practices against Chinese customers implied in its warranty policies. The People’s Daily also decried Apple’s customer service practices as “arrogant” last year, and Xinhua cited Apple as a cause behind students running up high-interest debt.

All of these campaign efforts have so far fallen on deaf ears; Apple’s consumer base in China is strong and growing stronger. Nevertheless, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown himself willing to play ball with the criticism from Chinese media, warranted or not – last year he issued an apology in the form of a letter for the complaints by CCTV about its warranty practices, and promised to amend its policies accordingly.

In most cases, the concerns of the Chinese state-sponsored media appear to be overblown, and not without agenda, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have influence. Cook clearly recognizes that and has acted in the past to make changes accordingly, but we’ll have to see if Apple formulates a response to this fresh criticism as well.

Read more from the original source: Chinese State Media Renews Anti-Apple Rhetoric, Calls The iPhone A “National Security Concern”

#8: Kaspersky Internet Security Multi-Device, 1 Year [Online Code]

Kaspersky Internet

Kaspersky Internet Security Multi-Device, 1 Year [Online Code]
by Kaspersky
Platform:   Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / XP
5.0 out of 5 stars(1)

Buy new: $99.95 $39.45

(Visit the Hot New Releases in Software list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)

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