The Indian Startup Scene In 2015

4894122585_1ffb405154_b India has now become one of the largest bases for startups in the world after the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. It is also the youngest with more than 72 percent of its startups founded by entrepreneurs younger than 35. These two trends are driving an increasingly online and mobile new internet entrepreneurial culture. Read More

Instacart increases its minimum grocery delivery fee by 50%

An Instacart grocery bag.

Instacart, a startup that delivers groceries you order through its web and mobile apps, announced today that it will start charging more for its services.

Until now, with the exception of the first time people user the service, Instacart charged $3.99 for deliveries it made within two hours or at later scheduled times in most cities where it operates. Now the fee is going up to $5.99, the startup wrote in a blog post. That’s a 50 percent increase. The cost of an annual subscription to the startup’s Instacart Express service, which entails free two-hour and scheduled deliveries and pickups for orders totaling more than $35, is also going up, from $99 to $149, starting on January 4, according to the blog post.

These price bumps are surfacing on the same day as a Re/code report citing anonymous sources that said the company had laid off several recruiters.

In January Instacart said it had raised $220 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Comcast Ventures, Dragoneer Investment Group, Thrive Capital, Valiant Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures. The funding came at a reported valuation of $2 billion. At the time Instacart said it had more than 100 employees and more than 1,000 personal shoppers who shop and deliver groceries. The company now offers its services in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, and Washington D.C. Instacart started in 2012.

The blog post cites these expansions as well as “changing market conditions” in its explanation for the pricing changes.

The startup has been compared to Webvan, a company that went public in the dot-com boom and ultimately ended up bankrupt. Sequoia backed Webvan long before investing in Instacart, and Sequoia’s Michael Moritz has repeatedly spoken about how Instacart is better than Webvan.

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Group Commerce Startup Massdrop Is Working With Its Users To Design New Products

massdrop headphones Massdrop‘s investors have argued that the group commerce site is more a community than a straightforward marketplace. Here’s one way that Massdrop is doing things differently — a new initiative called Massdrop Collabs. The startup has built specialist communities for folks such as audiophiles and mechanical keyboard fans, and it offers group-buying opportunities to those… Read More

Flaming Wreckage Of Clinkle Rebuilds As A Referral Service

Clinkle Employees Quit Clinkle imploded after employees quit en masse in May, protesting how its young CEO Lucas Duplan was mismanaging the $30 million-funded payments startup. But Duplan won’t quit. TechCrunch has attained emails showing Duplan is pivoting Clinkle away from its former ultrasound payments and loyalty debit card products. Now Clinkle is an SDK called Treats that other apps can integrate to… Read More

Facebook lawsuit against fugitive’s lawyers is thrown out

A New York state appeals court on Tuesday threw out Facebook Inc's unusual malicious prosecution lawsuit against DLA Piper and two other law firms that have represented a fugitive who claimed a 50 percent stake in the social media company. Reversing a lower court ruling, the Appellate Division in Manhattan rejected "conclusory" allegations by Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, that the firms knew or should have known that their client Paul Ceglia's case was fraudulent and based on a forged contract.

Microinsurance Is The Answer To The Insurance Industry

shutterstock_261253943 Let’s be real. The insurance industry has barely evolved since Benjamin Franklin introduced the concept in the late 1700s. You’d think after three hundred years and a market size of $1 trillion in the United States alone, insurance companies like MetLife and AIG would have nailed it. But they haven’t. Instead, they’ve left millions of Americans paying toward… Read More

Microinsurance Is The Answer To The Insurance Industry

shutterstock_261253943 Let’s be real. The insurance industry has barely evolved since Benjamin Franklin introduced the concept in the late 1700s. You’d think after three hundred years and a market size of $1 trillion in the United States alone, insurance companies like MetLife and AIG would have nailed it. But they haven’t. Instead, they’ve left millions of Americans paying toward… Read More

Google confirms next Android version won’t use Oracle’s proprietary Java APIs

android_java_logo

Google is ditching the Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android and moving to only OpenJDK, the open source version of Java. The news first came by a “mysterious Android codebase commit” from last month submitted to Hacker News. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that Android N will rely solely on OpenJDK.

“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”

Android provides certain Java API libraries to support the development of apps in the Java programming language, broken into two parts: The APIs to the libraries and the implementing code developed by Google that make said libraries work. Oracle, which develops Java, has two implementations of these libraries: the proprietary JDK version and the open source OpenJDK version. Google’s decision to “consolidate” its efforts with OpenJDK, which Android already uses in some areas, means it will be sharing its implementing code.

The code commit in question, which shows 8902 files were changed, clearly notes OpenJDK code was added to Android:

Initial import of OpenJdk files.
Create new libcore/ojluni directory with src/main/java and src/main/native subdirectiories.
Build ojluni into core-oj jar.
Use openjdk classes from java.awt.font package.
Copy all files from jdk/src/share/classes and jdk/src/solaris/classes directories in openjdk into libcore/ojluni/src/main/java.
Copy following native files from openjdk to libcore/ojluni/src/main/native: [long list of files]

Google is hoping that developers will appreciate the change because it simplifies the code on which they build apps — a common codebase for these Java API libraries, as opposed to multiple codebases. That may be true, but if that was the only reason Google made the complete switch to OpenJDK, the company would have done so years ago.

When we asked Google why now, the company pointed to to the release of Java 8 last year and the introduction of new language features such as lambdas. As such, Google wants to put more resources into OpenJDK where the team can have a bigger impact on new features and improvements. That’s the developer story Google is pitching in any case, but there’s a massive legal narrative here that can’t be forgotten.

Oracle

Hacker News users are rightly wondering whether the code commit means the legal dispute between Oracle and Google has been settled out of court, or whether Google has decided to protect itself with regards to future Android versions in the event it loses. It’s a good question, but because the Oracle lawsuit is ongoing, Google declined to comment whether this code commit is related.

After acquiring Sun in January 2010, Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement in August 2010, arguing that Android cannot use Java’s APIs without permission. Google countered by declaring that APIs can’t be copyrighted as they are essential to software development, collaboration, and innovation.

In May 2012, a jury found that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s patents, saying that Java’s APIs can’t be copyrighted. In May 2014, the Federal Circuit partially reversed the district court decision, ruling in Oracle’s favor: Java’s APIs can be copyrighted. In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case and sent it back to a lower court so Google could argue that it made fair use of Oracle’s copyrighted APIs.

Is it just a coincidence that after all the back and forth, Google has decided to completely embrace OpenJDK? Unlikely, but the end result is what matters: future versions of Android won’t be dependent on Oracle’s proprietary JDK version.

Either way, the case isn’t over (Google can’t exactly change existing Android versions), and the final decision will still be watched very closely as it could have a huge impact on software development as a whole. If Oracle wins, tech giants could hold a lot of power over developers creating new software based on existing apps and services. If Google wins, fair use laws could essentially protect the use of APIs.