Microsoft’s new Lumia 530 is its cheapest Windows Phone yet

Wednesday 23 July 2014 @ 5:12 am
Microsoft’s new Lumia 530 is its cheapest Windows Phone yet
Image Credit: Microsoft

Only a few days after killing off Nokia’s experimental Android phones, Microsoft has unveiled its low-end alternative.

The company today unveiled the Lumia 530, a new budget Windows Phone with a 4-inch screen and a low price tag of around $115 (without taxes). It’s Microsoft’s cheapest Lumia device yet, but it’s mainly aimed at the European market where Windows Phone has managed to carve out a decent niche.

The Lumia 530 packs in a 1.2 gigahertz Qualcomm processor, a 5 megapixel camera, and it will also run Windows Phone 8.1, the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS. You’ll also be able to expand its storage capabilities up to 128GB with an additional SD card, and the phone comes with 15GB of OneDrive cloud storage. It’ll come in dual-SIM and single SIM variations (practically a requirement for new phones in Europe) and will be available next month.

For the most part, it looks like Lumia 530 packs in everything you’d want in an entry-level smartphone. It has a colorful design, competitive specs, and a decent price. But there’s little that truly differentiates it from other cheap smartphones, which seems to be Microsoft’s perennial problem with Windows Phone.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.53.56 AMOur upcoming GrowthBeat event — August 5-6 in San Francisco — is exploring the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the scoop here, and grab your tickets before they're gone!  

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Glow Raises $7M Series A From Notion Capital And White Star

Wednesday 23 July 2014 @ 5:07 am
Partner-Categories-Image It was only in January last year that UK startup Glow Digital Media, a social advertising platform that sells services to Facebook advertisers to grow their marketing ROI, closed a $1.3 million seed funding round. Investors in the round include Germany’s Project A Ventures and the UK’s Avonmore Developments. It’s Glow Platform product gives advertises tools to create and… Read More

The 6 most important questions to ask about raising capital for your startup

Wednesday 23 July 2014 @ 3:00 am


The 6 most important questions to ask about raising capital for your startup
Image Credit: Shutterstock

This sponsored post is produced  by Lighter Capital. 

At Lighter Capital we spend a lot of time talking to early stage technology entrepreneurs about what kind of funding makes the most sense for them at their current growth stage.

With the proliferation of cloud-hosting platforms, the funding pinch points have changed considerably.

In the past, Series A venture rounds were considered critical for developing and launching products. But today, most companies are launching viable products after seed rounds or simply post-bootstrapping. As a result, moving from launch and initial traction to growth has become the most challenging part of the funding question.

Making the right funding choices when you are starting to grow greatly affects the future trajectory of your company. What’s important — from launch to sustainable growth — is to make sure you are aware of all the funding options and figure out what is right for you.

For example, if you start by only asking how to raise money from VCs, you’ll miss the fundamental step of asking whether venture capital is actually the best fit for your business.

Starting with your long-term goals for the business, ask yourself these critical questions:

  1. What do you want the business to look like in 1, 5, and 10 years? (Is your motto “go big or go home” or “built to last”?)
  2. Who do you want as partners, beyond your co-founders? These are the people who will be owning and controlling the business with you. (Who controls the big decisions, the co-founders or the investors?)
  3. What do you want your role to be? (Will co-founders run the business for the long haul, or will “professional” management be brought in before long?)
  4. How much capital do you need to take advantage of the opportunity in front of you?
  5. What are you willing to give up for that capital?
  6. Can you convince investors your company will have enough value for the investor meet their desired return? For example, if you’re willing to sell 25 percent of your company to VCs for $5 million, and they want a 10X return ($50 million), the VCs need to believe you can sell the business for at least $250 million or they can’t meet their investing goal.

Only after answering these six questions should you then examine your financing options:

  1. What financing fits your goals?
  2. What’s realistically available to you now? What funding sources will help you through future stages of company development?
  3. How long and how much distraction will raising funds be? Can the business survive having the CEO focused only on raising funds for several months?

All forms of funding have consequences and will impact the future shape of your business and your personal wealth — including how much control or equity you will retain, what types of capital you can raise in the future, and ultimately the value you will extract from it.

So don’t be hasty, don’t see raising funds as the final goal, and make sure you’ve researched all the options and understand different investors’ goals and desires.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact [email protected].

At Lighter Capital, we're breaking down barriers to small business growth funding. Our revenue-based finance model exchanges growth capital for a fixed percentage of the company's revenues. This structure is more flexible, easier, and ... read more »

Airbnb host: A guest is squatting in my condo and I can’t get him to leave

Wednesday 23 July 2014 @ 1:00 am
Airbnb host: A guest is squatting in my condo and I can’t get him to leave

Airbnb is a hugely popular way for people to rent their homes to thrifty travelers, but there are times when things go terribly wrong.

We’ve shared stories of hosts coming home to find their homes trashed, and a story of an inebriated host using his keys to enter the property at night while the guests (a Business Insider employee and his girlfriend) were sleeping.

Here’s a new one: A woman rented her small, 600-square-foot Palm Springs, Calif., condo to someone for a little over a month, and now she says the guy won’t leave and is threatening to sue her.

Airbnb Customer service email squatterShe’s had to hire a lawyer and go through the entire eviction process, which could take three to six months, the same as if he were a long-term tenant.

It’s “been a nightmare,” the host, Cory Tschogl, told Business Insider.

Business Insider logo

Tschogl is a rehabilitation therapist, helping people with vision problems, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She got “priced out” of buying a home in the Valley, so she invested in a vacation rental condo in Palm Springs. For the past year or so, she had been renting it on Airbnb and Flipkey, a vacation rental site owned by TripAdvisor, making enough money on it to help her make ends meet with the higher rents in San Francisco.

She was really happy with Airbnb until a man who goes by the name Maksym contacted her through Airbnb, asking to rent her Palm Springs condo for longer than a month. He told her he needed accommodations for an extended business trip, Tschogl said.

He didn’t have any reviews on Airbnb, which in retrospect should have been a warning sign, she said.

But his initial interactions with her seemed OK, and she agreed to let him rent the condo from May 25 through July 8, a total of 44 days.

For long-term reservations, Airbnb bills on a monthly basis. Tschogl said she received advance payment for 30 days.

On day one, after the guest checked in, he called her and complained about two odd things, Tschogl said. He didn’t like the tap water (he complained it was cloudy), and he didn’t like the gated entry to the condo complex. He asked for a full refund, according to Tschogl. She had a bad gut feeling about him, she said, so she agreed to a refund.

She said she had difficulty getting ahold of Airbnb right away to make the refund happen. After sending multiple emails and making phone calls, Airbnb responded two days later. In that email, on May 27, Airbnb told her it asked the guest to leave. The company also told her since Maksym had stayed in the condo for two days, she was entitled to keep an appropriate portion of the money he paid.

However, Maksym stayed in the condo, said Tschogl. “It became a confusing situation. Both I and Airbnb told the guest to leave, but he would not,” Tschogl told us.

After a number of antagonistic texts with the guest, Tschogl said she decided that perhaps the best course of action would be just to let him stay for the duration of his reservation.

Then came the second hiccup. On June 25, when payment for the last part of his reservation was due, Airbnb couldn’t collect the money. Airbnb warned Tschogl in an email, she said.

Both Airbnb and Tschogl contacted him and warned him to pay or leave, Tschogl said.

Two days later, on June 27, he was still in the condo, she said.

On the last day of his reservation, still unpaid, Tschogl said she sent him a text message telling him if he didn’t vacate the property, she would have the utilities shut off.

Airbnb squatter threatsHe apparently responded with a threat of his own (see right). “It almost sounded like blackmail. He threatened to sue me, saying his brother was there and got an ulcer due to the tap water. He said he was legally occupying my domicile and he has rights,” Tschogl said.

It turns out Maksym wasn’t totally wrong. Tschogl researched the situation on a real estate investing social network called Bigger Pockets and was advised by other landlords to “lawyer up.”

She hired a lawyer and discovered that in California, once someone rents a property for 30 days, that person is considered a tenant on a month-to-month lease.

Getting the tenant out would require the whole eviction shebang, which could take three to six months and up to $5,000 in legal fees. She couldn’t just ask the police to haul the guy out.

Tschogl contacted Business Insider and the San Francisco Chronicle to tell her story. Shortly after, Airbnb said it would make sure she was paid for the full 44-day reservation. An Airbnb spokesperson told Business Insider:

Our initial response to this inquiry didn’t meet the standards we set for ourselves, and we’ve apologized to this host. In the last week, officials from our team have been in incredibly close contact with this host, and she has been paid the full cost of the reservation, and we’re working with her to provide additional support as we move forward.

But she was still on her own to get the guy out.

When Business Insider pressed Airbnb to address her complaints that Airbnb took too long to respond to her (a complaint we’ve heard from a few other Airbnb users), this is what the company told us:

15 million guests have traveled on AIRBNB and while the overwhelming majority of guests and hosts have a safe and positive experience we are constantly working to make our platform even stronger.

As for helping hosts get rid of squatters, Airbnb said it warns hosts that it is their responsibility to know the laws of their state.

Tschogl agreed. She doesn’t blame Airbnb for the whole situation, but she does say the company could do more to warn hosts, respond faster when problems arise, and, perhaps, insure them.

She said hosts should know: “Collecting guest fees for 30-plus-day stays for only 30 days at a time equals no guarantee to the host of payment in full.”

Ideally, she’d like to see Airbnb expand its $1 million “host guarantee” to cover rental and legal expenses when a guest doesn’t pay and refuses to leave.

“Thousands of vacation rental owners are vulnerable, and they don’t know it. The public needs to know, lawmakers need to know, and sites like Airbnb need to know and improve upon their policies, procedures and protections,” she said.

We emailed “Maksym” for comment, but he didn’t answer. We called and texted his phone number, but got a “phone not available” message.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.53.56 AMOur upcoming GrowthBeat event — August 5-6 in San Francisco — is exploring the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the scoop here, and grab your tickets before they're gone!  

Can’t Manage A Standing Desk? Meet Cubii, The Sitting Exerciser

Wednesday 23 July 2014 @ 12:47 am
Cubii Sitting down — and the sedentary lifestyle it encourages — is killing you, slowly but surely. The problem is, standing desks aren’t for everyone. Making the switch is a big deal. I love mine but it took a week of pain and suffering to go from seat to feet, and it still feels pretty tough on calves and soles after a full day-long standing stretch. So here’s a third… Read More

Protecting intellectual property

Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 11:46 pm

As the Rainbow Loom business takes off, owner Cheong Choon Ng is facing competitors who try to knock-off his product.

Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 11:26 pm

Cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 StubHub customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events through the online ticket reseller, a law enforcement official and the company said Tuesday.

Apple’s newest legal trouble: A class-action lawsuit over meal breaks

Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 10:00 pm

A California judge has granted class action status to an employment-law case against Apple, giving the tech giant just one more thing to worry about.

The Hon. Ronald Prager of the San Diego Superior Court yesterday ruled in favor of onetime Apple employees’ request for class action in their lawsuit against the company. That means lawyers are no longer representing four people but actually 20,000 or 21,000 — current and former non-exempt (read: hourly) Apple workers in California. The case says Apple intentionally violated state wage and hour law and didn’t compensate employees for missed breaks, among other charges.

Now Apple has seven attorneys handling the suit, attorney Tyler Belong of Hogue & Belong said today in an interview with VentureBeat.

“I think they’re taking it very seriously,” Belong said.

Apple did not immediately respond to VentureBeat’s request for comment.

The case is the latest legal headache for the 38-year-old seller of laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and software.

Apple has recently settled lawsuits involving iPhone warranties, employee poaching, and e-book price fixing.

A settlement could come in this case, too. Belong and his team, who have previously taken on Morgan Stanley and Scripps, want a trial.

The case got its start three years ago, Belong said, when his firm received a call from a couple of their clients, “basically saying, ‘I’m not getting my meal periods till very late in the day. Is that legal?’”

Now the case looks more serious.

Read the lawyers’ most recent complaint here. And find the judge’s ruling here.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.53.56 AMOur upcoming GrowthBeat event — August 5-6 in San Francisco — is exploring the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the scoop here, and grab your tickets before they're gone!  

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

POP Gets $700K To Make Prototyping Apps Easy, Releases Second Version

Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 9:26 pm
POPAPP POP, an app that lets developers quickly turn paper sketches into prototypes for iOS or Android apps, has raised an angel round of $700,000 from ZPark, Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups (which POP participated in last year) , and other investors. POP, which launched for iPhone first, also released a new version that can be used to create apps for iPads, Android devices, and desktop as well. Read More

Google & IEEE launch $1M ‘Little Box’ challenge to shrink power inverters

Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 8:50 pm
Google & IEEE launch $1M ‘Little Box’ challenge to shrink power inverters

Can you imagine 2,000 watts of alternating current electrical power coming out of a device no larger than a small laptop?

For comparison’s sake, today’s 15-inch laptops consume a mere 40 – 65 watts (using an external power brick). Now Google wants something the size of laptop, hooked to a solar array, to produce up to 40 times more power in the same physical envelope.

And the company’s betting $1,000,000 it can be done in about 18 months.

Getting AC (alternating current) out of DC (direct current) is the job of a power inverter. Much of our domestic world relies on AC. And AC needs robust power distribution grids, huge power plants and either fossil fuel, nuclear power, or falling water.

It’s not difficult to envision a world where AC comes instead from solar grids generating copious amounts of DC, which is then processed by inverters to run our homes, factories, businesses, and more. It’s green thinking. But is it also blue sky thinking?

Today’s inverters take up about as much space as a good-sized picnic cooler, often larger. Why this large? Seeking answers, Google has partnered with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Power Electronics Society to mount a $1 million “Littlebox Challenge,” hopefully retiring the question with a new category of highly efficient power inverter.

“We are very pleased to present this important initiative together with Google to encourage innovation. By participating in this challenge, members of industry and academia can play a pivotal role in a technological innovation that could have a major impact on the world,” said IEEE PELS President Don Tan.The contest begins this week.

Here’s the challenge to engineers everywhere: Design and build a 1,000-watt minimum inverter with the highest power density (at least 50 watts per cubic inch). Can you do it?

“Cooler sized isn’t cool,” headlines the promotion:

Inverters are the essential boxes that take direct current from devices such as solar panels and batteries and turn it into alternating current for use in homes, businesses and cars.

The problem is household inverters are too big — roughly the size of a picnic cooler. Making them smaller would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet.

That’s where you come in: figure out how to shrink an inverter down to something smaller than a small laptop (a reduction of >10X in volume) and smaller than everyone else, and you’ll win a million dollars (and help revolutionize electricity for the next century).

VB was curious about Google’s interests. Here’s what we were told:

We believe that inverters will become increasingly important to our economy and environment as solar PV, batteries, and similar power sources continue their rapid growth. More broadly, similar forms of power electronics are everywhere: in laptops, phones, motors drives, electric vehicles, wind turbines, to give just a few examples. We expect that the innovations inspired by this prize will have wide applicability across these areas, increasing efficiency, driving down costs, and opening up new users cases that we can’t imagine today. It also doesn’t hurt that many of these improvements could make our data centers run more safely and efficiently.

Google’s partner, the IEEE, “is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity,” says the organization. The IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) has guided development and innovation in power electronics technology for over 25 years. PELS will assist in judging and overseeing the competition.

To enter, go to the website and click the Register link. Be sure to surf around, paying attention to What the Inverter Needs to Do under Technical Details. Also read the FAQ’s Here’s the contest calendar:

September 2014

  • Applicants contemplating competing in the prize must register their team by the registration deadline: September 30, 2014.
  • Eligible academics interested in pursuing grant funding must apply by the grant application deadline: September 30, 2014 by visiting the University Relations site.

July 2015

  • Registered teams must submit a technical approach and testing application by July 22, 2015.

October 2015

  • Up to 18 finalists will be notified of their selection for final testing at the testing facility. They are required to bring their inverters in person to a testing facility in United States by October 21, 2015.

January 2016

  • The grand prize winner will be announced sometime in January, 2016.

What’s next? Once the inverter challenge is solved, perhaps Google will champion the elimination of all those “wall wart” chargers that festoon our mobile lives. Or at least figure out how to turn them completely off when charging goes inactive.







Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

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