Triller owner gets a new CEO with acquisition of Amplify.AI; also acquires livestreaming service FITE TV

Would be TikTok competitor Triller, operated by parent company TrillerNet, is gaining a new CEO, the company announced today. The short-form video app said it’s acquiring an A.I.-based customer engagement platform, Amplify.AI, whose co-founder Mahi de Silva will now become TrillerNet’s CEO. Existing CEO Mike Lu will transition to president of TrillerNet and will focus […]

Facebook tests video speed dating events with ‘Sparked’

Facebook confirmed it’s testing a video speed-dating app called Sparked, after the app’s website was spotted by The Verge. Unlike dating app giants such as Tinder, Sparked users don’t swipe on people they like or direct message others. Instead, they cycle through a series of short video dates during an event to make connections with […]

Austin’s newest unicorn: The Zebra raises $150M after doubling revenue in 2020

The Zebra, an Austin-based company that operates an insurance comparison site, has raised $150 million in a Series D round that propels it into unicorn territory. Both the round size and valuation are a substantial bump from the $38.5 million Series C that Austin-based The Zebra raised in February of 2020. (The company would not […]

Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at a $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion. The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million […]

Facebook’s tardy disclosure of breach timing raises GDPR compliance questions

The question of whether Facebook will face any regulatory sanction over the latest massive historical platform privacy fail to come to light remains unclear. But the timeline of the incident looks increasingly awkward for the tech giant. While it initially sought to play down the data breach revelations published by Business Insider at the weekend by […]

Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia

Kevin Xu Contributor Kevin Xu is an early-stage investor and founder of Interconnected, a bilingual newsletter covering tech, business and U.S.-Asia relations. Mexico has been known as an up-and-coming tech hub and a gateway to the Latin American market. As an investor focused on developer-centered products, open-source startups and infrastructure technology companies with a particular […]

Facebook launches profile frames that help you encourage friends to get the COVID-19 vaccine

As COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more readily available to larger groups of the U.S. population, Facebook has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch new Facebook profile frames that allow users to share their support for getting vaccinated with their […]

Apple invests $50M into music distributor UnitedMasters alongside A16z and Alphabet

Independent music distribution platform and tool factory UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple. A16z and Alphabet are participating again in this raise. United Masters is also entering a strategic partnership with Apple alongside this investment.  If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, […]

Facebook gets a C; startup rates the ‘ethics’ of social media platforms, targets asset managers

By now you’ve probably heard of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) ratings for companies, or ratings for their carbon footprint. Well, now a U.K. company has come up with a way of rating the “ethics” of social media companies. EthicsGrade is an ESG ratings agency, focusing on AI governance. Headed up Charles Radclyffe, the former head […]

Apple Maps adds COVID-19 travel guidance for over 300 airports worldwide

Apple has updated its native Maps app with more helpful information designed to assist with travel while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Apple Maps on iPhone, iPad and Mac will now show COVID-19 health measure information for airports when searched via the app, either through a link to the airport’s own COVID-19 advisory page, or […]