Facebook is working on a Dislike button, Zuckerberg says

"People first," the slide behind Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaims.

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that a dislike button is being worked on and Facebook will be testing it soon.

In his latest town hall Q&A session that was held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., the company’s chief executive said that his team has been hearing things and shared that it’s not a matter of downvoting people’s opinions and posts, but rather expressing empathy to moments.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” he said. “If you share something that’s sad like a refugee crisis that touches you or a family member passes away, it may not be comfortable to like that post…I do think it’s important to give people more options than liking it.”

Zuckerberg said that it’s a surprisingly complicated process, but that Facebook has an idea and they’ll be testing it out soon. If it works out well, they’ll roll it out more broadly.

It’s worth noting that this is the first of two town halls that Zuckeberg will be holding. This Saturday, he’ll be joined by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi where the two are expected to discuss social and economic challenges facing the world’s third-largest economy and how Facebook can help with those issues.

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Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding news, in one place

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Here’s a list of today’s tech funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

Real estate company Compass scores $50M to further expand in the U.S. market

Real estate company Compass announced today that it closed a $50 million expansion round lead by Institutional Venture Partners. Compass, a company that aims to enable real estate agents with technology that makes “selling and renting a home intelligent and seamless,” currently operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., and Miami.

The company has raised a total of $123 million to date, including a $40 million round last year. Compass said it will use the funds from its latest round to power expansion in other markets, including Dallas, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Sources close to the company told VB that the round sets Compass’ valuation at about $800 million (last summer it was $360 million). Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, 406 Ventures, and Condé Nast’s parent company Advance Publications, Inc. also participated in the investment.


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Uber’s India rival, Ola, is reportedly raising $500M at a $5B valuation

Uber’s main rival in India, Ola, is raising a fresh round of funding of up to or more than $500 million, according to multiple reports.

News that Ola has already secured $225 million as part of the round was first reported by Mint on Sunday. The India-based publication, however, did not comment on the new valuation — Ola was most recently valued at about $2.5 billion as of a $400 million funding round in April.

TechCrunch seems to have first reported the new $5 billion valuation, but that has since been followed by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. The three publications are each citing their own sources familiar with the deal.

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B2C marketing cloud Emarsys takes on $33M series A, primed for rapid expansion

Emarsys, an all-in-one marketing cloud for predictive marketing, personalization, analytics, and marketing automation, today is announcing a $33 million equity investment from San Francisco-based Vector Capital. Emarsys has more than 500 employees serving more than 1,300 clients in 140 countries from 16 global offices. The funding will be used to further develop the platform and allow for a full operational buildout of teams in the U.S. and Latin America. It’s the first investment in the company’s 15-year history.

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Google Capital makes a $32.5M bet on smart health insurance company Oscar

Google Capital has made a $32.5 million investment in the online health insurer and doctor finder Oscar, bringing the startup’s funding total up to $352.5 million at a valuation of $1.75 billion.

The investment comes not too long after Oscar took a monster $145 million funding round in April, at which time the company’s valuation was $1.5 billion.

Oscar does business only in New York and New Jersey, but has racked up 40,000 customers in those states, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s story on the funding announcement. The company has said it plans to offer its health plans to customers in Texas and California in early 2016.

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Disaster recovery startup Datos IO launches with $15.25M

Datos IO, a startup that builds software intended to back up data stored in distributed applications and databases, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing $15.25 million in venture capital funding.

The startup has developed disaster recovery software that lets companies go back to previous versions of the NoSQL database distributed by Cassandra. The idea is to provide similar tooling for other modern scale-out databases, such as MongoDB. The tools, including open-source “application listeners” that monitor for changes, will become available in the first quarter of next year.

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This list will be updated with breaking funding news all day. Check back for more.

 

Correction: Sources close to Compass told VB the company’s valuation hits around $800 million. A previous version stated Compass had disclosed its valuation.


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Ivee launches preorders for its cheaper Amazon Echo competitor

Ivee lifestyle_4

Voice interaction platform ivee has begun an Indiegogo campaign for those interested in purchasing its smart voice assistant, throwing its hat into the ring to do battle against the likes of Amazon Echo, Google Now, Siri, Cortana, and the like. The company is looking to raise at least $50,000 over the next 46 days.

With a retail value of $99, ivee Voice is a product that’s supposed to let you control various aspects of your home thanks to its extensive integrations. Besides telling you what the weather is, the company says it’ll let you request an Uber, play music via Spotify, alert fast-response services, and even potentially have groceries delivered. ivee also claims that its framework enables it to have seamless interactions with the likes of Hue, Nest, WeMo, Harmony, SmartThings, Wink, and others.

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The device is just 5 inches tall and weighs just over a pound. It utilizes a high-end ARM-based processor and uses Wi-Fi B/G/N. It’s also supposed to listen for commands as far away as 15 feet thanks to its 360-degree omnidirectional far-field microphones.

Started in 2011, ivee has made it a point to develop new products that leverage the power of the voice. The 500 Startups-backed company has previously produced an alarm clock that was billed as being the connected hub for your smart home (we’ve heard this before). Now ivee Voice looks to be a whole new product that is wholly centered on listening to your wants and needs and helping you around the house.

The entry of ivee Voice also comes as more voice-powered assistants have emerged in the marketplace, namely Amazon Echo. In comparison, ivee’s device is cheaper than Amazon’s ($99 versus $179.99). Both have 360-degree omnidirectional sound and are compatible with many different smart Home services.

ivee Voice can be controlled by a iOS or Android application, which will enable you to not only configure it to your heart’s content, but also create custom “scenes”, basically setting the mood in a room for whatever you want, such as movie time or…other things.

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All orders are scheduled to be shipped in June 2016.










Alphabet Hires Director Of The National Institute of Mental Health For Its Life Sciences Team

Google Alphabet blocks Alphabet has hired the (soon to be) former Director for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), Thomas Insel for its Life Sciences group, according to a statement from the agency. Insel held the role for 13 years and will be stepping down officially on November 1st. This is a move that signals Alphabet’s interest in mental illness, a problem that is extremely underserved all… Read More

Catholic Church launches app ahead of pope s visit

A week before Pope Francis arrives in the United States for his first visit since becoming pope, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a new app for smartphones and tablets, for both Android and Apple devices. The Catholic Church Mobile App aims to provide details to users about the pope's visit, as well as other information about the Catholic faith.

China doesn’t want your games

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Forget about the Chinese gaming market. Really.

Most of you reading this post do not need me to tell you that the Chinese game market is worth around $15 billion and year-over-year growth is at an astonishing rate of 100 percent (iresearch Q1, 2015). It is, without doubt, one of the most tempting and uncharted territory by Western game makers (with exceptions for the likes Blizzard and Valve). Take League of Legends: This multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) has around 16M daily active users and brings in revenues equal to what it generates in the rest of the world combined.

Therefore, for anyone with a normal IQ and logical thinking — big market size and great growth rate is a market worth dying for.


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Many have tried, but few have conquered. …

I would leave out the console ban 15 years ago and focus on the last few years of online and mobile games. (I still don’t believe consoles will be big in China even with the ban being lifted; who’s gonna play a console that’s region-locked, plain vanilla, violence-free, and no Grand Theft Auto or Battlefield?)

The reality is actually pretty simple, if you look at the top 100 grossing chart of the Chinese iOS app store (App Annie). There are only around 10 non-Chinese games there. And this is the iOS app store – supposed no BS channel. Even games like Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clan, and Game of War are not performing as they do in almost every other county in the world.

And then, you take a look at the 100-plus Android markets in China (Google Play is banned), and you would hardly find any foreign games there — correction: non-cracked, pirated ones.

Many would argue that this is due to lack of localization or culturalization. That may be true to some extent, but what Yodo1 and iDreamsky did to Subway Surfers, Temple Run, and Fruit Ninja were pretty successful. But ask yourself this: Shouldn’t the core game be universal? League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and World of Tanks do not compromise for anything when it comes to core game design, art-style, and UI/UX. Live operation maybe, but not the core. Localization should be considered the cherry on top instead of a game-changer.

One of the reasons is a third-party publishing partner is required as foreign companies are legally prohibited from publishing games in China.. Games on iOS get away from Chinese laws because Apple pays the tribute for you and is a major contributor to the Chinese economy, however, if you want your games to be published on the Chinese Android markets, you would need a Chinese local entity to help you with all the paperwork. Otherwise you would risk of getting pulled from store at any time.

Despite the high ARPU on iOS devices, Android markets are where the money is. Research shows that Chinese Android markets contribute to around 55 percent of the total revenue. And here is a fun fact: Chinese Android markets, at least the big ones (360, Baidu, Xiaomi, etc.), take 50 percent of gross revenue as a channel fee. Any Chinese third-party publisher must give 50 percent to channels, 30 percent minimal as revenue share to the developer, and 5 percent server cost, plus other marketing, operation, and other costs. You can do the math how much profit a third-party publisher really makes at the end of the day.

This is part of the reason why Tencent dropped the ball on Monster Strike and Candy Crush. Kunlun’s Boom Beach is  just doing so-so, as well as many other games licensed by Chinese publishers. They would rather promote the games they developed themselves and make almost the same if not more profit.

What if I don’t play with channels and instead build my own portal site so players can just download the game directly? Well, good luck with buying shady traffic or getting no traffic at all. The Chinese Internet is a dangerous place, and those who control the traffic conquers all. Players don’t have the habit of downloading anything outside of market places, unless you promote the game with big-budget branding campaign like a PC downloadable client game.

Another fun fact is that when you compare the top-grossing Android games to iOS chart, you will notice that there is a big discrepancy in titles. Some of the games in the top “grossing” Android chart have never been seen on the iOS side. This is because many “game developers” don’t make money on their games; they put money into their own games via some third-party service or so-called game guilds in China. Thus boosting their performance and revenue metrics on the channels. Once they have 60 percent D2R, 10% pay rate, 100RMB ARPU (required by channels in order to get featured: no feature=no traffic), they would run to their investors and say “hey, my game is awesome, give me more money, buyout or IPO.” As for anyone who wants to do a decent business and meet the requirements of Channels, they will have a hard time unless the quality of the game is so good that everything else doesn’t matter anymore.

Situation and complication being said, there is really no one size fits all solution. China is a “go big or go home” scenario; it’s either that you have a kick-ass game, or you develop it from the ground up to meet Chinese needs. This is the only way to draw Chinese partner’s attention. Otherwise, just stay indie, stay true to gamers, and stay self-publishing on iOS.

Pessimistic I may be, but I do want to work with you and bring your next big hit to China so that players can enjoy.

Peace out.

Yuan Zeng is a struggling business developer trying replace chopsticks with forks and knives.


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Accenture Acquires Cloud Sherpas To Ehnance Cloud Consulting Chops, Especially around Salesforce.com

Drawing of clouds with problems at one end and solutions at the other. Accenture, the worldwide consulting company, announced today it was buying Cloud Sherpas, a firm that specializes in helping companies incorporate cloud services like Salesforce.com, Google and ServiceNow into the enterprise. Accenture did not disclose the purchase price. It’s not a coincidence that this announcement came as Dreamforce, the enormous Salesforce.com customer conference,… Read More

Whiskey ads will hit your Snapchat feed soon, but only if you’re old enough

Jim Beam

Ephemeral photo-sharing service Snapchat is flexing its ad-muscles from today, with the news that it’s getting its first ever whiskey ads. Almost one year after Snapchat debuted its first ads in the U.S., the social network has nabbed bourbon-maker Jim Beam as one of its prestigious new clients.

The Kentucky-based distiller is launching branded video content in support of a new Apple-flavored Bourbon, and Snapchat users watching “Live Stories” will see the content from today. Live Stories are Snapchat’s curated feed of photos shared by users, and video ads are viewable for 10 seconds.

Snapchat Ages

Above: Snapchat Demographics

Image Credit: Snapchat

However, any concerns that the ads may show up for Snapchat’s millions of underage users have been addressed — the videos will only appear to those 21-years and older.

So-called “age-gating” is one of the few targeting options brands can use on Snapchat, but in the case of alcohol brands such as Jim Beam, it’s vital. Budweiser ran a similar campaign through Snapchat for Bud Light earlier this year.


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According to Snapchat’s own data, 63 percent of U.S.-based Snapchatters are aged between 13 and 24. That means that somewhere in the region of half of all Snapchat-users are over the legal drinking age, though it’s hard to establish an exact figure because of the way Snapchat breaks up its demographics.

Snapchat has been gradually pushing its advertising offering since the launch of the first product last October, and one of the major advantages Snapchat holds over other social networks is its popularity with millennials.

But more than that, of its 100 million (give or take) daily users, the company claims that around two-thirds upload photos. That’s a very high engagement level, and is at least partly why it’s thought Snapchat charge brands as much as $750,000 for a single day of advertising.


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Polyvore now lets you take in-app photos to help create your next outfit

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Social shopping site Polyvore has made a change to its mobile apps to now let you do more with the device’s camera. Starting today, anyone can not only snap or upload photos of any item, but can also create personalized outfits and looks with those photos. This is the first time that these things can be done right from the mobile device.

Polyvore Remix - homescreen with camera buttonPrior to today, if you wanted to share a photo to the service, you’d have to upload it from the web using Polyvore’s clipper tool. But now, just take a picture or upload one from your device’s camera roll to create a personalized outfit or import it into Polyvore’s Remix app to create an interesting style.

But what happens if you find part of your outfit on Yahoo-owned Polyvore and need to know how the whole ensemble looks? Just upload a few photos featuring items from your closet to see if you’ve created a great look. You can even upload a selfie. This mix-and-match type approach doesn’t resign you to finding attire and accessories from just the Polvyore community, but lets you personalize based on what you happen to also have in your closet.

A company spokesperson tells VentureBeat that the hardest part about shopping is learning how to style the items for our unique taste. The use of the camera within the app enables people to do just that and also helps share those outfits with Polyvore’s larger community.

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