Sphero lays off dozens as it shifts focus to education

 Sphero was ready to conquer the world last year. The company quintupled its product release schedule, flying high with the help of a Disney licensing deal that gave the world several Star Wars droids and talking Spider-Man and Lightning McQueen robots. But following a holiday season that failed to live up to expectations, the company recently laid off 45 staff members globally, TechCrunch… Read More

Mike Moritz and the declining America worker

 Storied Sequoia investor Mike Moritz threw fire into the tech Twitter gumbo with his observations of hard-working Chinese workers and slothful Silicon Valley engineers. Moritz, a billionaire, clearly needs page views to fund his retirement. The major money quote about Silicon Valley is this: “In recent months, there have been complaints about the political sensibilities of speakers… Read More

Women’s March embraces collaborative social app Crunchet

 Today’s nationwide Women’s March attendees will advocate for voter registration through every conceivable social network, so one of its planning organizations has allied with a new app that lets you combine posts from across apps. Crunchet will help the Women’s March Alliance and Chicago march create collages of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Spotify, and… Read More

French VC firm Ring Capital raises $170 million fund

 Meet Ring Capital, a brand new VC firm based in Paris. The firm just raised a new $170 million fund (€140 million) and might still be raising another $10 million or so for this fund. Many new VC firms tend to focus on seed rounds at first. Ring Capital thinks there’s a Series A and Series B gap in France. That’s why Ring Capital plans to invest around €5 to €10 million ($6 to… Read More

AI voice assistant developer Rokid raises $100M Series B extension to build its US presence

 Rokid, a Chinese startup that makes an AI voice assistant and smart devices, just raised a Series B extension round led by Temasek Holdings, with participation from Credit Suisse, IDG Capital and CDIB Capital. The size of the round was not released, but a source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch that it is $100 million. Read More

Airbnb now lets users pay less up front for bookings

 Airbnb has today announced a new feature that will help users manage their payments on the platform. The feature, aptly albeit unimaginatively named Pay Less Up Front, lets users pay for a part of their trip upon booking and the rest near the time of check-in. Before now, Airbnb users had to pay 100 percent of their booking up front. For weekend trips, that wasn’t such a big deal. But… Read More

AI researcher Monty Barlow teaches a computer to figure out American accents

 Monty Barlow is a researcher at Cambridge Consultants and his recent work involves teaching a computer to discern between British and American accents. The project, which Barlow sees as part of a suite of machine-learning solutions that will grow to encompass “true” AI, appeared at CES last week. Barlow said that AI revolutions tended to come and go, appearing on the horizon and… Read More

Brit + Co had a round of layoffs this month as part of a ‘reorganization’

 Brit + Co laid off some employees earlier this month as part of a reorganization, TechCrunch has learned. Brit + Co declined to comment on the number laid off, but the women’s lifestyle and digital media company’s employee base went from 92 people in September 2017 to just 78 today, according to its team page. “It’s been a very unpredictable time in the media industry,… Read More

The secret to avoiding CES cynicism is never really going

 I’ve been going to CES for almost ten years now, and it amazes me that really, nothing has changed. The same people are saying the same things on the same stages, selling the same people the same junk with… well, slightly different numbers attached. But this year I had a great time and found some amazing companies — because I avoided at all costs actually stepping foot on… Read More