Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Google said on Friday it has appointed Sanjay Gupta, a former top executive with Disney India and Star, as the manager and vice president of sales and operations for its India business.

Gupta will be replacing Rajan Anandan, who left the company to serve VC fund Sequoia Capital India as a managing director in April this year.

Gupta served as a managing director at Disney India and Star (which now Disney owns) before joining the Android -maker. He helped Star make a major push in the digital consumers business through video streaming service Hotstar, where he aggressively worked on partnerships and licensing for cricket rights and other content.

Hotstar has cashed in on the popularity of cricket — during a major cricket season earlier this year, Hotstar claimed that more than 100 million users were enjoying its service each day and more than 300 million were doing so each month. (Facebook roped in Ajit Mohan, the former chief executive of Hotstar, to head its India operations late last year.) Gupta also held top executive roles at other companies including Bharti Airtel telecom network.

Sanjay Gupta, a former top executive at Disney and Star, is now the head of Google’s India business

In a statement, Gupta said, “it’s an exciting opportunity to leverage the power of technology to solve some of India’s unique challenges and make Internet an engine of economic growth for people and communities. I am happy to join the passionate teams across Google and look forward to contributing to India’s digital journey as it becomes an innovation hub for the world.”

When Anandan, a long-time influential and widely respected Google executive, left the company earlier this year, Google said Vikas Agnihotri, who is the director of sales for the firm’s India operations, would be taking over. For Google, this was the latest in a series of high profile departures in Asia. Karim Temsamani, head of Asia Pacific (APAC) at Google, also left the company earlier this year.

Even as India contributes little to Google’s bottom line, the company has grown increasingly focused on India and other Asian markets to develop products and services that solve local problems and address barriers that are hindering growth in these markets.

In a statement, Scott Beaumont, President of Google APAC, said company’s operation in India “is important and strategic for its own sake but also for the innovation which then feeds breakthroughs elsewhere in Google.”

Gupta will also have to oversee some major challenges, including the fast growth of Facebook’s advertisement business in India and an antitrust issue with the local regulator.


TechCrunch

Robotic arms can move fast enough to snatch thrown objects right out of the air… but should they? Not unless you want them to unnerve the humans they’re interacting with, according to work out of Disney Research. Roboticists there found that slowing a robot’s reaction time made it feel more normal to people.

Disney has of course been interested in robotics for decades, and the automatons in its theme parks are among the most famous robots in the world. But there are few opportunities for those robots to interact directly with people. Hence a series of research projects at its research division aimed at safe and non-weird robot-human coexistence.

In this case the question was how to make handing over an item to a robot feel natural and non-threatening. Obviously if, when you reached out with a ticket or empty cup, the robot moved like lightning and snapped it out of your hands, that could be seen as potentially dangerous, or at the very least make people nervous.

So the robot arm in this case (attached to an anthropomorphic cat torso) moves at a normal human speed. But there’s also the question of when it should reach out. After all, it takes us humans a second to realize that someone is handing something to us, then to reach out and grab it. A computer vision system might be able to track an object and send the hand after it more quickly, but it might feel strange.

The researchers set up an experiment where the robot hand reached out to take a ring from a person, under three conditions each of speed and delay.

When the hand itself moved quickly, people reported less “warmth” and more “discomfort.” The slow speed performed best on those scores. And hen the hand moved with no delay, it left people similarly uneasy. But interestingly, too long a delay had a similar effect.

Turns out there’s a happy medium that matches what people seem to expect from a hand reaching out to take something from them. Slower movement is better, to a certain point one imagines, and a reasonable but not sluggish delay makes it feel more human.

The handover system detailed in a paper published today (and video below) is robust against the usual circumstances: moving targets, unexpected forces, and so on. It’ll be a while before an Aristocats bot takes your mug from you at a Disney World cafe, but at least you can be sure it won’t snatch it faster than the eye can follow and scare everyone around you.


TechCrunch

Opportunity’s still knocking, but it’s on a very short leash. We’re T-minus 48 hours remaining on early bird prices to Disrupt Berlin 2019. And if you want to talk opportunity, you won’t find a better one than attending this two-day international conference focused on early-stage startups.

Right now, savvy startuppers can reap significant savings — up to €500 depending on which pass level you purchase. But the countdown is on. Don’t let procrastination — or any other obstacle — sideline your chance to get the best price. Buy your early bird passes to Disrupt Berlin before the clock runs out tomorrow, 8 November, at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

What kind of opportunities await you at Disrupt? Opportunities to network. Startup Alley, the pulsing heart of every Disrupt, will be home base to hundreds of early-stage startups. This is where you’ll find some of the most innovative technology — products and platforms, services and talent. No matter what part of the startup ecosystem they occupy — founders, investors, media, marketers, engineers — everyone heads to the Alley.

While you’re exploring Startup Alley, be sure to check out our TC Top Picks. We hand-picked this cohort of roughly 30-50 exemplary startups representing these tech categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education.

Disrupt Berlin packs a lot of programming into two short days. Pro tip: Use CrunchMatch, our free business match-making platform that helps you find, connect and schedule meetings with people based on mutual business goals and interests. No more wasting time or shoe leather trying to find and schedule meetings with the right people.

Now that you’re set to network with greater efficiency, don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from a terrific lineup of speakers — founders, investors and tech icons ready to address the most challenging issues facing the startup community. Check the Disrupt Berlin agenda and plan your strategy before you even pack your bags.

Startup Battlefield is an opportunity to witness the birth of tomorrow’s tech giants — potential unicorns in the making. Since 2007, Startup Battlefield pitch competitions have launched 857 tech companies — like Vurb, Dropbox, Mint, Yammer and many others — that have collectively raised $ 8.9 billion and produced 112 exits.

Watch as 15-20 impressive early-stage startups pitch and demo to a tough panel of seasoned VCs and technologists. All the fast-paced action takes place live on the Main Stage. Be there to see which startup claims the Disrupt Cup and $ 50,000 prize.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. So much untapped opportunity awaits, but your opportunity to pay early bird prices ends tomorrow, 8 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Buy your early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin today and keep the opportunities coming.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


TechCrunch

Saudi Arabian officials allegedly paid at least two employees of Twitter to access personal information on users the government there was interested in, according to recently unsealed court documents. Those users were warned of the attempt in 2015, but the full picture is only now emerging.

According to an AP report citing the federal complaint, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah were both approached by the Saudi government, which promised “a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars” if they could retrieve personal information on certain users.

Abouammo worked for Twitter in media partnerships in the Middle East, and Alzabarah was an engineer; both are charged with acting as unregistered Saudi agents — spies.

Alzabarah reportedly met with a member of the Saudi royal family in Washington, D.C. in 2015, and within a week he had begun accessing data on thousands of users, including at least 33 that Saudi Arabia had officially contacted Twitter to request information on. These users included political activists and journalists critical of the royal family and Saudi government.

This did not go unnoticed and Alzabarah, when questioned by his supervisors, reportedly said he had only done it out of curiosity. But when he was forced to leave work, he flew to Saudi Arabia with his family literally the next day, and now works for the government there.

The attempt resulted in Twitter alerting thousands of users that they were the potential targets of a state-sponsored attack, but that there was no evidence their personal data had actually been exfiltrated. Last year, the New York Times reported that this event had been prompted by a Twitter employee groomed by Saudi officials for the purpose. And now we learn there was another employee engaged in similar activity.

The cases in question are still open and as such more information will likely come to light soon. I asked Twitter for comment on the events and what specifically it had done to prevent similar attacks in the future. It did not respond directly to these queries, instead providing the following statement:

We would like to thank the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for their support with this investigation. We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service. Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees. We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work. We’re committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights.


TechCrunch

Uber will become an ad platform, selling space inside its Eats app to restaurants hoping to lure in more food delivery orders. A recent Uber job listing spotted by TechCrunch seeks an Uber Eats Ads Lead “to lead the team and efforts responsible for creating a new ads business that enables eaters to discover new foods and restaurants to grow their customer base.”

An Uber spokesperson confirmed the company would be entering the ads business, telling TechCrunch “We are exploring relevant ads in Eats.” Selling ads could help it improve margins on Eats, where it only takes 10.7% of gross bookings as adjusted net revenue since it pays out so much to restaurants and drivers.

The fresh opportunity in ads comes at a critical time when Uber is desperate to show its future potential in the face of a sagging share price that closed at $ 28.02 yesterday, down 40% from a high of $ 46.38 in June. Today, Uber’s post-IPO stock lock-up expires and early investors are able to sell their shares, putting newfound pressure on its stock.

TechCrunch was the first to discover a prototype of Eats ads in Decembe called Specials, where restaurants could get featured placement in the app in exchange for offering a discount. This demonstrated Uber’s ability to steer hungry users to order from particular restaurants.

I followed up with Uber’s senior director and head of Eats product Stephen Chau, who hinted at the company’s aspiration in the ads business. “There’s a bunch of different ways we can work with restaurants over time. If we have all the restaurants on the marketplace and we give them tools to help them grow, then this will be a very efficient marketplace. They’re going to be spending those ad dollars somewhere,” Chau told me. We’ve been checking on the company’s progress in ads ever since.

As we predicted, now instead of just a quid pro quo where Uber exchanges added visibility to restaurants willing to offer discounts that could keep users loyal to Uber Eats, it plans to formally sell ads.

“As this is a brand new space for Uber” the Toronto-based Eats Ads Lead “will be responsible for defining the vision for this new product area and determining where to start building.”

The job listing also notes whoever takes the role will “Help formulate our business, product and go-to-market strategy for ads” and “Creatively experiment and quickly iterate on early tests”. Signaling global ambitions for Eats ads, the Lead will “Customize and scale this offering across the world.”

The effort is separate from Uber’s own marketing efforts that see it spend over $ 1 billion per year to recruit riders, drivers, and Eats customers. Uber will start selling the ads, not just buying them.

The potential for Eats ads stems from Uber’s place as a destination for choosing what to eat, not just ordering it. Wherever there is discovery, there are opportunities for paid discovery. And as Uber focuses on cross-promoting Eats inside its main ride hailing app, it could suck in more users that are open to suggestions that restaurants pay to provide.

We don’t have details on exactly how Uber’s ads will look. However, you could imagine them appearing on the home page, the browse section, or even in search results for certain cuisines or restaurants. Restaurants hoping to boost orders could pay to appear to users who are hungry but don’t know what they want to eat, or to appear before competitors in the same food style.

Amazon successfully navigated a similar expansion from marketplace to ad platform. eMarketer expects Amazon’s US ads business will grow 33% this year to reach $ 9.85 billion, and claim 7.6% of the total US ad market which makes it the biggest search ad player behind Google.

Uber could use any revenue it can get. This quarter the company lost $ 1 billion, with $ 316 million of that loss coming from Eats. But Eats’ revenue grew 64% year-over-year, showing it’s increasingly popular, and could command enough user attention to make advertising lucrative.

Ads could also serve as a wedge for Uber to move deeper into business intelligence services for restaurants. It could apply its data on food delivery demand to help kitchens to optimize prices, allocate staff, and improve menus.

To save its share price, Uber’s best bet is to find new streams of cash it doesn’t have to share with drivers or restaurants. It may still be years until self-driving vehicles arrive to rescue Uber from its tremendous costs.


TechCrunch

Chargify, the payment management service owned by Scaleworks, has added revenue forecasting tools to its software as a service offering.

The company’s new revenue forecasting tools uses historical data and month-over-month performance pulled from a company’s billing platform.

The company says its new tool can cut forecasting down from two months to as little as two minutes.

With a suite of billing and revenue management tools, Chargify already has a good window into previous performance. And the company hopes those forecasting tools can help businesses benchmark their revenue progress.

Using the new forecasting tool, companies can pull baseline metrics from historical growth and churn data looking at three, six or 12-month averages to understand how historical trends could affect businesses, the company said.

Beyond forecasting, the toolkit from San Antonio-based Chargify will save the projections and automatically trigger benchmark tracking to actual performance alongside the baseline forecast.


TechCrunch

There are more seed funds than ever helping business get off the ground but the Series A financing continues to be one of the toughest deals to close.

Not only will we welcome early-stage investors to teach entrepreneurs how to raise their first round of venture capital, we will have a group of investors intimately familiar with the Series A on deck at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin this December to offer their best tips and tricks.

Joining us on stage is Blossom Capital partner Louise Samet and Penta founder Jessica Holzbach.

Samet, for her part, joined Blossom Capital, a new European venture capital fund focused on leading Series A investments, earlier this year. Based in Stockholm, Samet’s career includes years of angel investig with standout bets including LendingHome, Bloomcredit and Stravito. Blossom portfolio companies include Duffel, Frontify, Fat Llama, Sqreen and Checkout.com. Before Blossom, Samet was the director of technical sales at Klarna, a high profile European fintech startup.

Finally, Holzbach, who leads the digital only banking platform for SMEs, Penta, has spent her career founding startups and working as a management consultant, supervising various CRM projects for financial institutions and insurance companies. Penta, where she is currently CCO, has raised millions in venture capital funding, including a €7 million Series A last year. She can speak to the process of securing funding and the challenges she faced as a founder.

Join us at Disrupt Berlin, running December 11 and December 12, to hear more from these experts on how to secure one of the most influential funding rounds in a company’s lifespan. Tickets to the show are available here!


TechCrunch

Created by R the Company. Powered by SiteMuze.