Johannes Reck from GetYourGuide to talk about reaching unicorn status at Disrupt Berlin

Earlier this year, GetYourGuide raised a gigantic $484 million funding round with SoftBank’s Vision Fund leading the round. Now that the German startup has reached a valuation well over the $1 billion mark, it’s time to look back at the company’s impressive trajectory. That’s why I’m excited to announce that GetYourGuide co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

At first, people started booking flights and train tickets on online platforms. Then, they started booking hotel rooms and Airbnb apartments. But going somewhere is just step one. You also need to figure out what you’re going to do when you arrive in a city you don’t know.

GetYourGuide lets you book experiences, from sightseeing tours to tickets for attractions and others. Behind the scene, the company operates a marketplace that matches third parties with travelers.

But the startup now wants to go one step further and build a catalog of “Originals” tour experiences, such as a ‘GetYourGuide Instagram Tour of Bali’, which is probably a lot more appealing to young travelers compared to traditional travel agencies.

GetYourGuide’s metrics are mindboggling. Back in May, the company offered 50,000 experiences and had sold 25 million tickets in total. And I’m sure those numbers are even higher today.

The startup has a shot at becoming a cultural phenomenon and influence the way we travel — just like Airbnb did with its peer-to-peer rental platform. And I can’t wait to hear Johannes Reck tell us how to grow such a big marketplace with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.

Johannes Reck is the Chief Executive Officer at GetYourGuide. He leads the company’s long-term vision and strategy.

Johannes co-founded GetYourGuide in 2009 while attending the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and has grown the company into the leading booking platform for incredible travel experiences.

Under Johannes’ leadership, over 30 million tickets have been booked to date via the GetYourGuide website, mobile app, and partnership network. GetYourGuide has raised over $650M from investors such as the SoftBank Vision Fund, Battery Ventures and KKR. Johannes leads GetYourGuide’s 550-person global team from its headquarters in Berlin, Germany.

Johannes originally hails from Cologne, Germany and holds an M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Yahoo Japan and Line are reportedly going to merge

According to Nikkei, messaging app Line and Yahoo Japan are about to merge and form a single tech company. Despite the name, Yahoo Japan is currently 100% owned by Z Holdings, a company that is controlled by Japanese telecom company SoftBank (Yahoo Japan isn’t related with TechCrunch’s parent company Verizon Media). Line Corporation is owned by Naver Corporation, a South Korean internet giant.

The two companies are still discussing terms of the deal according to Nikkei. But you could imagine Z Holdings becoming a a 50-50 joint venture between SoftBank and Naver, with Z Holdings owning both Yahoo Japan and Line.

Line operates one of the most popular messaging apps in Japan. In addition to conversations, the company operates Line Pay, Line Taxi and other services. But competition has been fierce in the messaging space.

Yahoo Japan was originally formed by Yahoo and SoftBank in the later 1990s. When Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2017, Verizon didn’t acquire Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo created a spin-out company called Altaba to hold those stakes.

Altaba first sold its stake in Yahoo Japan. In July 2018, SoftBank acquired part of Altaba’s stake in Yahoo Japan in order to increase its ownership of Yahoo Japan. Altaba later sold its remaining Yahoo Japan shares, its Alibaba shares and shut down. In 2019, SoftBank received additional shares to become Yahoo Japan’s parent company.

Yahoo Japan is a household name and a big internet conglomerate in Japan. It has an online advertising business, an e-commerce business, finance services and more. Yahoo Japan and Line probably hope to reach more users and boost engagement with the merger.

We’ve reached out to Line Corporation and Z Holdings and will update if we hear back.

The Garage is a new blockchain-focused incubator based in Paris

Meet The Garage, a new incubator in Paris that is all about blockchain projects. Co-founded by Cyril Paglino from Starchain Capital, Fabrice Le Fessant from Dune Network and Oussama Ammar from The Family, the company will support blockchain startups, help big companies launch blockchain projects and educate engineers about blockchain development.

The Garage is a sort of puzzle made out of multiple pieces. First, it wants to create a community of startups and support those startups in different ways.

“We copy and paste The Family’s model, which means that it’s built on trust. We take 5% of equity after six months if the startup and The Garage are happy,” The Garage director Damien Daübe said during a small press conference yesterday.

In exchange for 5%, startups that are part of The Garage community get some help when it comes to product, engineering, press relations, marketing, etc. Eventually, The Garage wants to tap its network of investors to make some introductions and help them get some funding and traction.

There are already five startups participating in the program, such as Ipocamp, Ticket721 and Elite Chain. Eventually, The Garage wants to help 25 startups per year. The Family receives a lot of applications. You could imagine that The Family might recommend The Garage to some of them.

But taking some equity isn’t going to generate revenue from day one. The Garage is also going to work with Dune Network, the new blockchain from OCamlPro. According to The Block, OCamlPro was working with the Tezos Foundation but decided to part ways, create a fork and start a new blockchain.

The Garage is going to work with big corporate clients on some blockchain projects. This could generate some revenue much more quickly.

Finally, The Garage is also going to teach software engineers about blockchain development. The company will host with free lessons in the evening. There will be some online resources as well.

All of this is going to happen in a recently renovated building that looks like a hybrid between an Apple Store and a movie set. If you’re into concrete, metal and industrial design, it’s a beautiful place. It was mostly used for fashion week events until The Garage started renting it.

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Andreessen Horowitz launches free crypto startup school

Last month, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) general partner Chris Dixon announced at TechCrunch Disrupt that the VC firm would run a free crypto startup school. And the company is officially launching its school today. Applications are now open and you have four weeks to apply.

With this initiative, a16z wants to democratize cryptocurrencies. Dixon and the a16z team has been involved in the cryptocurrency/blockchain space for seven years, and the firm now wants to share some of its learnings with entrepreneurs.

This way, it could give a boost to the crypto community, which could create investment opportunities for a16z down the road — a16z says clearly that participating in the crypto startup school doesn’t mean you’ll receive an investment from a16z. It also positions a16z as a thoughtful investor when it comes to crypto startup investments — not just for participants of the crypto startup school but for the crypto community at large.

The a16z Crypto Startup School will be a seven-week program that starts February 21, 2020. The program is free and a16z doesn’t take any equity.

Lectures will take place in Menlo Park, so you have to be based in Silicon Valley or willing to spend a couple of months there. And because a16z knows that it can be challenging to move to another country just to attend this program, the firm will also be recording all lectures. Anyone will be able to watch videos and download curriculum materials later.

Here’s a sneak peek of the course outline:

  • What are Crypto Networks, and Why Do They Matter?
  • Blockchain Computing Primitives: Cryptography and Consensus
  • Overview of Application Development Tools
  • Applications: Today and 2025
  • Crypto Business Models
  • Cryptoeconomics
  • UX, Product Development and Security
  • Go-to-Market Strategy and Developer Relations
  • Community Participation and Governance
  • Regulatory Landscape and Considerations
  • Guide to Fundraising

As you can, it’s a mix of lectures purely focused on cryptocurrencies as well as broader startup 101 lessons (fundraising, go-to-market strategy, etc.).

The program is looking for 20 to 25 teams, which should represent approximately 40 participants. You should have prior experience when it comes to building software products, but you don’t need to be a crytpo expert. Participants can expect 12 to 15 hours of lectures, workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities per week.

At the end of the course, participants will showcase a project idea or a prototype during a demo day.

Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk to talk about late-stage bets at Disrupt Berlin

South African internet company Naspers isn’t a particularly well-known name in the startup community. And yet, the company made an early investment in a small Chinese company called… Tencent. Naspers still retains a 31% stake in Tencent that is valued at around $100 billion (with a B). That’s why I’m excited to announce that Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

It’s hard to talk about Naspers without talking about SoftBank, another company that made an early bet on Alibaba, another small Chinese company back then. But Naspers doesn’t want to be compared to SoftBank as it doesn’t have the same approach.

Naspers recently created a new holding company for its tech investments called Prosus NV. A couple of months ago, Prosus went public in Amsterdam — the holding company is currently valued at $114 billion.

This has been a huge deal for Naspers — and also a highly unusual listing. And it should open up a lot of possibilities for more late-stage investments in the future. Prosus isn’t a traditional fund with limited partners that expect returns. It means that it can hold investments for multiple decades.

Naspers has invested in online classifieds business OLX, in fintech startups with PayU and Remitly, in food delivery startups Delivery Hero, iFood and Swiggy, and in dozens of other startups across the globe.

While many venture capital firms are focused on the U.S., Naspers has investments in 90 countries. If you want to learn more about the mega-trends of the tech industry, you have to hear what Bob van Dijk has to say.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.

Subscription service for Mac apps Setapp extends to teams

Setapp, the Spotify of Mac apps, is launching a new subscription plan specifically designed for teams. It is currently available as a public beta. As a reminder, Setapp lets you download and use 160 apps for a flat subscription fee. You don’t need to pay for major updates and there’s no in-app purchase.

Anybody can sign up to a Setapp account for $9.99 per month, or $8.99 per month with annual subscriptions. There are also family plans for three users and five Macs for $19.99 per month.

As the name suggests, Setapp for teams is a new offering specifically designed for companies. It costs $8.99 per user per month. You’ll find the same app library whether you have an individual Setapp account or a business account.

The new offering makes it easier to manage software licenses. There’s a unified billing and administration panel that lets you add and remove users over time.

Apps include Ulysses, PDFpen, ForkLift, Mindnode, iStat Menus, etc. It has become a sort of mini Mac App Store without any paid download. Every time you need a new app to achieve a specific task, you can open Setapp and search the app library to see if there’s an app that can do that for you.

Shadow announces new plans for its cloud gaming platform

Blade, the French startup behind Shadow, held a press conference this morning to announce some product news as well as some corporate changes.

Shadow is a cloud computing service for gamers. For a monthly subscription fee, you can access a gaming PC in a data center near you. Compared to other cloud gaming services, Shadow provides a full Windows 10 instance. You can install anything you want, Steam, Photoshop or Word.

Right now, the company offers a single configuration for $35 per month with eight threads on an Intel Xeon 2620 processor, an Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU that performs more or less as well as an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

The startup is moving away from a single configuration to offer three different plans. On February 2020, customers will be able to chose between three plans — Boost, Ultra or Infinite.

  • Boost: Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU, 3.4GHz with 4 cores CPU, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage
  • Ultra: Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, 4GHz with 4 cores CPU, 16GB of RAM , 512GB of storage
  • Infinite: Nvidia Titan RTX GPU, 4 GHz with 6 cores CPU, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage

In the U.K., Boost costs £12.99/£14.99 per month, Ultra costs £24.99/£29.99 and Infinite costs £39.99/£49.99 per month. You get the lower price with yearly subscriptions.

In France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, plans cost €12.99/€14.99, €24.99/€29.99 and €39.99/€49.99 respectively. Plans will become more expensive after the first 50,000 customers — pre-orders start today. New plans aren’t available in the U.S. for now.

It’s worth noting that you’ll be able to add an option to get more storage with any plan. Storage plans include 256GB of SSD performance — anything above that will perform like a more traditional HDD. Shadow is using Intel Xeon W3200 CPUs on the new configurations.

cQHGO38N.jpg large

OVH founder and chairman Octave Klaba also announced a new partnership with Shadow. OVH is going to take care of Shadow’s infrastructure and become the cloud hosting partner going forward. The new servers will be rolled out in OVH data centers.

In other news, Shadow is launching a new interface specifically designed for TVs and mobile devices. The launcher now lists all your games. You can tap on a game to launch the game directly without going through the regular Windows interface. The update is available on Android TV, iOS and Android. The tvOS update should land next week.

IMG 0206

Competition is heating up

Google is about to launch Stadia on November 19th. Microsoft is working on Project xCloud. Nvidia has its own cloud gaming service. In other words, cloud gaming has become an incredibly crowded market.

Shadow has been around for a few years now. In addition to refining its streaming technology, the company emphasizes everything you can do with Shadow that you can’t do with a more limited cloud gaming service.

“We’re the only one to offer a full PC. You can stream, work, do some Photoshop, do some SolidWorks,” Shadow co-founder Emmanuel Freund said. “We’re the only one to offer 244Hz monitor support, we’re the only one to adapt to all screens.”

As a pure cloud gaming company, Shadow wants to be available on any platform. You don’t have to buy a Google Pixel phone or a PlayStation to access the service. You can launch your Shadow instance on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, tvOS and Android TV.

And now, you can even imagine using Shadow with a mobile VR headset. After installing the Android app, you can launch VR games on your Shadow instance and access demanding games without a gaming PC.

Some corporate news

Shadow has raised another $33 million in October (€30 million) — it’s unclear who invested in this round. The company also raised some money from Western Digital and Charter Communications earlier this year. Overall, the startup has now raised $111 million since launch (€100 million).

There are now 70,000 Shadow customers across 8 countries. At $35 per month, the company is generation some significant monthly recurring revenue.

And Shadow has a new CEO. Co-founder Emmanuel Freund is stepping aside as CEO — he’s now in charge of strategy. Jérôme Arnaud is taking over as CEO. The company was probably looking for a more senior business profile for the next step of the company.

Apple announces AirPods Pro with noise cancellation

Apple just announced a new device today, the AirPods Pro. The company issued a press release to announce the new device. As the name suggests, the AirPods Pro are wireless earbuds with additional features compared to the AirPods.

In particular, the AirPods Pro features active noise cancellation — this feature is particularly popular in headphones designed for airplanes, such as the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM3.

Apple has integrated two microphones in each earbud to listen to background noise and actively cancel sound around you. One of the microphones is inward-facing and listens to the sound inside your ears. The company has also integrated adaptive EQ to tune the low- and mid-fequencies in real time depending on the shape of your ears.

You can switch between active noice cancellation and something called Transparency mode in order to block background noise or let background noise go through your earbuds. You can control that from your device or squeeze the bottom of the earbuds between your fingertips.

Apple AirPods Pro Expanded 102819

The design of the AirPods Pro is slightly different from the AirPods. They look like in-ear earbuds with flexible silicone ear tips. You’ll be able to swap those ear tips as there are three different sizes in the box. The AirPods Pro are also sweat and water resistant.

Behind the scene, the AirPods Pro work with an Apple-designed chip called the H1. This chip handles everything from real-time noise cancelation, audio processing, and the ability to respond to “Hey Siri” requests.

Apple says that you can expect the same battery life that you’d get with regular AirPods — four and half hours of listening time with active noise cancellation and up to 24 hours of listening time with the charging case.

The charging case also looks slightly different — it is now rectangular-shaped. It features a Lightning port and wireless charging.

The AirPods Pro will be available for $249 starting on October 30. You can order them on Apple’s website starting today. Regular AirPods remain available for the same price of $159 to $199, depending on whether you get the wireless charging case.

Apple AirPods Pro iPhone11 Pro 102819

Welcome to the Jungle raises $22.3 million to make recruitment easier

French startup Welcome to the Jungle has raised a new $22.3 million funding round (€20 million). The startup is both a media company and a tech startup that wants to empower tech companies when it comes to recruitment. It doesn’t find the right candidate for you, it helps you get exposure, track application and facilitate onboarding.

Gaia Capital Partners is leading the round with existing investors Bpifance, XAnge and Jean-Paul Guisset also participating. With today’s funding round, the company wants to expand to more countries and develop new products.

This is also Gaia Capital Partners’ first investment. The firm raised a $110 million fund (€100 million) with around 40 limited partners, such as Sycomore Asset Management, Generali Investments and Bpifrance. The growth fund headed by Alice Albizzati and Elina Berrebi is going to focus on companies that have a positive environmental or societal impact at Series B stage and above.

Welcome to the Jungle is currently available in France, Spain and Czech Republic. Up next, the company is going to open offices in Germany and the U.K.

The company works with photographers and a video crew to create high quality profiles of other companies that are actively recruiting. This way, potential candidates can browse those profiles, learn more about companies and make up their mind.

Companies pay for those profiles to improve their branding, especially when it comes to recruitment. And it seems to be working well as there are now over 2,500 clients, including 250 in Spain and 100 in Czech Republic.

More recently, Welcome to the Jungle has started to expand beyond those showcases to tackle the recruitment process at large. The startup launched Welcome Kit, an applicant tracking system to manage job offers and take care of job applications.

With Welcome Kit, you can design a career site, write job postings and create application forms. Your recruitment team then receives applications, comments and collaborates with the rest of the team, sends emails using templates and more.

4,000 companies are using Welcome Kit. Collectively, they have posted about 150,000 job offers and received 2.5 million applications.

And now, Welcome to the Jungle is about to launch Welcome Home, the startup’s take on the good old intranet. The company realized that too many people who join a company don’t feel at home right away. And some people will even quit just a couple of months after joining a company.

You will be able to create an employee directory, post company-wide announcements and get information using Welcome Home. All of this should help create a more welcoming environment for newcomers.

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Revolut launches publicly in Singapore, signs deal with Mastercard

London-based fintech startup Revolut has two pieces of news to announce this week. First, Revolut is expanding to Singapore after a long beta period. The company already has 30,000 customers there and anyone can open an account now.

Singapore residents will be able to take advantage of all of Revolut’s core features. You can open an account from your phone, get a card and start spending anywhere in the world.

Revolut supports Singapore dollar as well as 13 other currencies. You can top up your account, and send and receive money from the app.

With a free account you can convert money in the app without any markup fee on weekdays up to S$9000 per month. You can also withdraw money anywhere in the world without any fee, up to S$9000 per month.

Premium accounts cost S$9.99 per month and Metal accounts cost S$19.99 per month in Singapore. You get higher limits and a few additional features with Metal.

Revolut is currently available in the U.K., Europe and Australia. There are 7 million Revolut customers in total. The company is still working on its launch in the U.S. and Canada for later this year.

The other piece of news is that Revolut has signed a global partnership with Mastercard. Revolut has already been working with Mastercard to issue cards, so this is an expansion of the current deal.

Revolut can now issue cards that work on the Mastercard network in any market where Mastercard is accepted, which represents around 210 countries. It doesn’t mean that Revolut will launch in 210 countries. But the startup says that the first Revolut cards in the U.S. will work on Mastercard.

It also doesn’t mean that Revolut will work exclusively with Mastercard. The company also works with Visa and recently announced a partnership deal. But at least 50% of all existing and future Revolut cards in Europe will be Mastercard branded.

It shouldn’t matter much to end customers, as I have yet to see a place that accepts Mastercard but not Visa, or Visa but not Mastercard. But Revolut is clearly using market competition to its advantage.