Mobile Exits Drop Below Investments For First Time Since 2013

mobilemarket It’s been party time for mobile, with massive growth and disruption helping VCs to raise huge funds, entrepreneurs to raise massive rounds, and valuations to skyrocket. With 89 mobile Internet unicorns now worth almost $1 trillion, it’s no surprise that folks from Silicon Valley to Shanghai are asking what’s going on with return on investment. Read More

Galvanize will make you a Big Data engineer for free, but there’s a catch


Technical education company Galvanize’s curriculum is getting a new course for interested students starting this fall. Available only in San Francisco, students can enroll into the data engineering course to learn all about Big Data technologies.

But while an additional course may not sound interesting, there’s a twist: Galvanize will give students a full scholarship, but only if they work at tech firm Nvent after graduation for an unspecified period of time (that’s between the student and the company, VentureBeat is told).

For 12 weeks, students will participate in this $16,000 full-time program where they’ll learn about Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, Storm, HBase, Solr, Cloud Computing, and Lambda Architecture. Galvanize will provide data engineering experts, experts, and others for students to learn from. It all culminates with “hiring day”, an opportunity for students to demo their projects to prospective employers.

Examples of what students will learn during this three-month long immersive program include understanding advanced java, databases, and relational systems; information architecture, advanced SQL, hive/pig; real-time data and streaming; designing, modeling and planning distributed systems; and more.

Nvent, a data analytics consultancy, will provide up to eight scholarships along with a living stipend to the first batch of students. The only requirement is that you commit to working full-time at Nvent as a consultant. This wouldn’t be an internship role — eligible students will be compensated just like other full-time employees.

“We’ve been consistently impressed with the expertise and knowledge of both Galvanize instructors and graduates,” says Nvent’s director of recruiting Ben Lieberman. “This is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to launch a successful career in data engineering.”

Understanding Big Data has become increasingly important for many companies. Data provided by WANTED Analytics to Forbes indicates that the top five industries hiring for Big Data-skilled individuals include professional, scientific and technical services, information technologies, manufacturing, finance and insurance, and retail trade.

What’s more, two of the top markets for Big Data employment happen to be in Silicon Valley, which is perhaps why Galvanize opted to make its data engineering program available only in San Francisco.

Classes begin on October 26, 2015 and will wrap up January 29, 2016.

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Ashley Madison exec reportedly hacked a competitor

Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman demonstrates his website on a tablet computer during an interview in Hong Kong August 28, 2013.

A new report alleges that Ashley Madison executives may have hacked a competing site a few years ago. Ironically, the revealing emails were found within a giant cache of data leaked as a result of a cyber attack on the network for adulterers.

In a blog post, security expert Brian Krebs details a series of emails from 2012 that seem to indicate Ashley Madison founder Raja Bhatia discovered and exploited vulnerabilities in, a site that explores human sexuality and culture. At the time, Nerve was building an adult dating forum. In an email, Bhatia told his boss, Noel Biderman, CEO of Avid Life Media (Ashley Madison’s parent company), that he was able to access’s users and change account data. Here’s an excerpt from the Krebs security report:

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” Bhatia told Biderman via email, including in the message a link to a GitHub archive with a sample of the database. “Also, I can turn any non paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”

Apparently, months after Bhatia breached, Biderman met up with the company to talk about a potential partnership. It’s not clear whether Bhatia or Biderman ever disclosed the security gap to Nerve.

We have reached out to Ashley Madison and will update this post if and when it responds.

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Ashley Madison is still reeling from a July cyber attack from a group calling itself The Impact Team. With the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair,” Ashley Madison has amassed 40 million users by promising to facilitate discreet encounters — a promise it failed to deliver on.

The Impact Team has said they looted Ashley Madison’s servers because the service was not deleting users’ personal information even after those same users had paid for it to be erased.

When news of the hack first emerged, Ashley Madison executives were quick to dismiss its significance, saying that most claims by sites purporting to offer access to the leaked data were false. Since then, The Impact Team has released 30 gigabytes worth of data to the web, including user data and company information. In total, three years worth of email was leaked, running from January 2012 to July 7, 2015, according to Krebs.

The information about internal emails comes as Ashley Madison ramps up its efforts to bring the hackers that breached its site to justice. Earlier today, the company offered $380,000 for information leading to the arrest or prosecution of individuals related to the hack.

In the meantime, Ashley Madison users are shaken. Unconfirmed reports say a few people have taken their lives as a result of the hack.

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AOL acquires web development company Ashe Avenue

Ashe Avenue swag.

AOL has acquired Ashe Avenue, a company that has built web and mobile apps for AOL and other brands. Ashe Avenue cofounder and chief executive John McKinney announced the news in a letter on the company’s homepage today.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“We will be directly responsible for the innovation and engineering powering many of AOL’s largest lifestyle verticals, including (one of the top 50 most popular sites in the US, and one of the top 200 in the world),” McKinney wrote in the letter.

Other recent AOL acquisitions include predictive analytics startup Velos. But AOL itself was acquired earlier this year by telecommunications company Verizon.

Ashe Avenue started in 2007 and had offices in New York and Chapel Hill, N.C.

The company has worked on AOL properties like Kitchen Daily,, and StyleList.

The company has worked with Vice, Asics, Lexus, Dell, Intel, Jansport, High Times, Red Robin, Wild Turkey, Levi’s, and Pepsi, in addition to AOL.

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Microsoft starts public test of Cortana app for Android smartphones

Microsoft now lets anyone with an Android phone try out its app that brings the virtual assistant from Windows 10 to a non-Microsoft platform; an iPhone version is expected to arrive later this year Android phone owners in the U.S. can now take Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana for a spin thanks to a new public beta test that opened today . Those interested in kicking Cortana's tires can sign up for the test and install the app from the Google Play Store.

What are they building in there? NextBit’s ex-Apple, Google, and HTC designers drop hints about mysterious new Android ‘cloud phone’

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.10.30 PM

Normally when some new phone maker startup pops its head up, we sigh and maybe feel a tinge of sympathy for another young company entering a brutally competitive business.

But NextBit has managed to drum up some real interest in media and mobile circles with its forthcoming phone, which it has called “the future of Android.”

Nobody has seen the device, which is scheduled to be unveiled September 1st. We don’t even really know if it will be shaped like a phone. It could be some kind of wearable, or come in component pieces. (I’ll be getting an early briefing on the hardware and software, but for now I know zilch.)

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Part of the reason for caring is that NextBit is founded by a couple of guys — CEO Tom Moss and CTO Mike Chan — who worked at Google on the Android team. Chan spent a few months at Apple. Product lead Scott Croyle worked at HTC. They’re pedigreed. So we assume they know what they’re doing and that they has some vision. Their idea was good enough to attract $18 million in funding from Google Ventures and Accel Partners.

In the absence of real information, NextBit has engaged in a social hint-dropping campaign to drum up and maintain interest in the product. And it’s worked. Here are some examples.

A new way of making phone calls?

A phone that learns as you use it?

They’re going to save Android?

Then there’s this little nugget tweeted by Croyles. If that’s the box the device comes in, it tells us something about the shape.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.14.46 PMNextbit launched in 2012 and started out by creating a syncing software called Baton. The software automatically backed up and synced apps and data to the cloud, and made files or application states immediately available on other registered devices. So users could continue doing on one device what they’d started on another.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.34.18 PM

  • CEO & cofounder, Tom Moss (ex Android 1.0 team, 3LM, Motorola, EIR at Accel)
  • CTO  & cofounder,  Mike Chan (ex Android 1.0 team, 3LM, Motorola, EIR at Accel)
  • Chief Product officer, Scott Croyle (ex-HTC where he headed up all of product design)

“Two years ago, we left Google because we became infatuated with the idea [of] the cloud as a foundational part of the device itself,” Moss told VentureBeat in an interview last year. He recalled that they then “hired some of our smartest colleagues” from Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, and other major tech firms.

“The device itself” will almost certainly be optimized to carry out all the sharing and syncing functions built into Baton. It may also use the cloud to store, and learn from, call and messaging data. I won’t even venture a guess on the form factor. Let’s just hope it’s something new and useful.

Check back here on September 1st for all the answers to the tantalizing questions Nextbit has raised.

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Redbooth launches a desktop app for Mac, Windows, and Linux

Redbooth's native app for Mac.

Redbooth, a company that sells software with task management, videoconferencing, and messaging features, is announcing today that it has built a new native desktop client for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now people were only able to use Redbooth in a web browser, or on iOS and Android.

Redbooth is beginning a four-week beta program for the new desktop client. The company will roll it out for all of its customers later.

The company chose to develop desktop apps to meet the needs of some of its large enterprise customers.

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“I hear from customers all the time that as we introduce more and more capabilities, like chat, workspace, and telephony, customers were saying, ‘It’s really critical when I turn on my machine in the morning, I just want it to be there,'” Redbooth chief executive Dan Schoenbaum told VentureBeat in an interview.

Slack, the growing and highly valued team communication app, has won favor for its desktop clients at a time when people are doing so much work in browser tabs. But Redbooth has more features than Slack. You can keep track of what you and your teammates need to do and hold high-definition video calls with multiple people, as well as chat with colleagues.

Of course, companies could pay for several tools — like Microsoft’s Lync and Cisco’s Jabber and WebEx — to replicate Redbooth’s functionality for their employees. But “you can save a ton of time consolidating into one,” Charles Studt, Redbooth’s vice president of marketing, told VentureBeat.

As is the case now in Redbooth’s web app, the desktop app updates in real time to show comments and messages from colleagues. And the application updates automatically — IT doesn’t need to handle that process. Desktop notifications help, too.

Plus, companies don’t need to worry about whether users’ browsers can support Redbooth, because now it can run outside of the browser.

Redbooth started in 2008 and is based in Redwood City, California. Customers include eBay, Nvidia, Spotify, and Volkswagen. The company announced an $11 million funding round last year.

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