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.

The Saturday night before CES seems like a less than ideal time to drop some big smartphone news — but it appears Samsung’s hand was forced on this one. Granted, the smartphone giant has never been great about keeping big news under wraps, but this morning’s early release of a promo video through its official Vimeo channel was no doubt all the motivation it needed.

The company has just made the February 11 date officially official for the launch of its upcoming flagship. As for what the flagship will be called, well, that (among other things) leaves some room for speculation. Rumors have pointed to both the more traditional S11, along with the more fascinating jump to the S20.

I’ve collated a bunch of the rumors into an earlier post. The TLDR is even larger screens across the board, coupled with a bunch of camera upgrades and a healthy battery increase. The invite art, which matches the earlier the video, appears to confirm the existence of two separate devices, with different dimensions. That could well point to the reported followup to the Galaxy Fold. In additional to better reinforced folding (a follow up to last year’s issues), the device reportedly adopts a clamshell form factor, more akin to the newly announced Motorola Razr.

More info (and rumors) to come. As ever, we’ll be there (San Francisco) as the news breaks.


TechCrunch

Over the past year, startup banks have proven that they have a shot at disrupting retail banking. These challengers have amassed a war chest of funding, announced some ambitious international expansion plans and attracted millions of customers.

And yet, building a bank has proven to be even harder than building a startup in general. Retail banks aren’t willing to sit back and watch startups eat their lunch. Here’s a look back at the biggest moves of the year from challenger banks, some trends you should keep an eye on and the upcoming challenges for those startups.

A year of aggressive growth

Due to the regulatory framework and the size of the market, it is much easier to launch a challenger bank in Europe compared to anywhere else in the world. That’s why challenger banks have been thriving in Europe.

When a company gets a full banking license from the central bank of a EU country, the startup can passport its license across all EU countries and operate across the continent.

N26 raised a ton of money in 2019: last January, the Berlin-based startup announced a $ 300 million funding round, raising another $ 170 million in July. The company is now valued at $ 3.5 billion.

With more than 3.5 million customers in Europe, N26 announced some ambitious expansion plans. N26 is now live in the U.S. and is already planning a launch in Brazil.

Revolut has also been aggressively expanding in order to beat its competitors to new markets. In addition to its home market in the U.K., Revolut is available across Europe. In 2019, the company expanded to Singapore and Australia and currently has at least 8 million users.

While Revolut announced that it should launch in the U.S. and Canada by the end of last year, the clock ran out on that prediction. The startup has been very transparent about its expansion plans, even though it sometimes means that you have to wait months or even years before a full rollout.

For instance, Revolut announced in September 2018 that it would launch in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan “in the coming months.” It later became “early 2019,” then “2019.” India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and the UAE have also all been mentioned at some point. In other words: launching a banking product in a new country is hard.

The U.S. is a tedious market as you have to get a license in all 50 states to operate across the country

Monzo has been doing well at home in the U.K. It has attracted 3 million customers and raised £113 million (~$ 144m) in funding last year from Y Combinator’s Continuity fund. It is expanding to the U.S., but the rollout has been slow.

Nubank is another well-funded challenger bank. Backed by Tencent, the startup has raised a $ 400 million Series F round from TCV. According to the WSJ, the startup has a valuation above $ 10 billion.

Originally from Brazil, Nubank expanded to Mexico and has plans to expand to Argentina.

Chime is increasingly looking like the bigger player in the U.S., recently raising a $ 500 million funding round and reached a valuation of $ 5.8 billion. It only operates in the U.S.

Starling Bank and Atom Bank only operate in the U.K. Bunq is based in Amsterdam with a product tailor-made for the Netherlands, but it accepts customers across Europe.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list as it’s becoming increasingly hard to cover all challenger banks.

Subscription-based business model

There are a few basic features that separate challenger banks from legacy retail banks. Signing up is extremely simple and only requires a mobile app. The mobile app itself is usually much more polished than traditional banking apps.

Users receive a Mastercard or Visa debit card that communicates with the company’s server for each transaction. This way, users can receive instant notifications, block and unblock their cards and turn off some features, such as foreign payments, ATM withdrawals and online transactions.

Challenger banks usually customers promise no markup fees on transactions in foreign currencies, but there are sometimes some limits on this feature.

So how do these companies make money? When you pay with your card, banks generate a tiny, tiny interchange fee of money on each transaction. It’s really small, but it could become serious revenue at scale with tens of millions or hundreds of millions of users.

Challenger banks also offer other financial services like insurance products, foreign exchange or consumer credit. Some challenger banks develop those features in house, but many of those features are actually managed by external fintech partners. Challenger banks generate a commission on those products.

But the most promising product is premium subscriptions. While challenger banks started with free accounts and low, transparent fees, they have been selling premium subscriptions for a fixed monthly fee.

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component

For example, Revolut offers premium accounts for €7.99 per month with higher limits, some insurance benefits that you’d expect from a premium card and access to advanced features, such as cryptocurrencies and disposable virtual cards. There’s a super premium product for €13.99 called Metal with a metal card design, cashback on card payments and access to a concierge feature.

This seems a bit counterintuitive, but premium subscriptions have been performing well, according to discussions with people working in the industry. You pay a lot in subscription fees in order to avoid small transactional fees. (And you also get a cool card.)

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component. It leads to a premium positioning and high expectations from customers.

Revolut’s fees top out at €13.99/month.

Upcoming challenges


TechCrunch

One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care startup with tech-infused, concierge services filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

Internal medicine doctor Tom Lee founded the startup, now valued at well-over $ 1 billion dollars, in 2007. Lee exited his company in 2017, leaving it in the hands of former UnitedHealth group executive Amir Rubin.

The startup currently operates 72 health clinics in nine major cities throughout the U.S., with three more markets expected to open in 2020 and has raised just over $ 500 in venture capital from it’s biggest investor, the Carlyle Group (which owns just over a quarter of shares), Alphabet’s GV, J.P. Morgan and others. Google also incorporates One Medical into its campuses and accounts for about 10% of the company revenue, according to the SEC filing. The filing also mentions the company, which is officially incorporated as 1Life Healthcare Inc. ONEM, now plans to raise about $ 100 million.

Presumably, this money will help the company improve upon its technology and expand to more markets. We’ve reached out to One Medical for more and so far have only been referred to its wire statement.

According to that statement, One Medical has applied for a listing as ticker symbol, ONEM under its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. We’ll be sure to update you if and when we hear more.

 


TechCrunch

TypingDNA, a four-year-old startup that was founded in Bucharest, Romania and more recently moved its headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, looks to be raising $ 7 million in funding for something interesting: AI-driven technology that it says can recognize people based on the way they type, both on their laptops and mobile devices.

A new SEC filing that says the company — which graduated from Techstars NYC in late 2018 and early last year closed on €1.3 million in seed funding — has so far raised $ 5.25 million toward that goal.

Typing biometrics — the detailed timing information that describes exactly when each key is pressed and released as way to identify the unique person at the keyboard — is apparently not brand new. A two-year-old, PCWorld article says research in the field dates back 20 years. It also says that inaccuracies have kept the technology from being used as a widespread way to authenticate individuals. TypingDNA meanwhile asserts that the typing pattern recognition technology it has developed has an accuracy rate of between 99% and upwards of 99.9%.

The company’s previous backers include GapMinder Venture Partners, a venture outfit based in Amsterdam. We’ve reached out to cofounder and CEO Raul Popa to learn more, but judging by the filing, the fund backing this new round is Gradient Ventures, which is Google’s nearly three-year-old, AI-focused venture group.

When TypingDNA raised its seed round roughly 11 months ago, it said it planned to use the money to improve its tech and expand its presence in both the financial and enterprise sectors, where it’s been trying to strike partnerships with more companies that are focused on identity and fraud prevention.

According to the startup’s site, it has also been working with educational organizations to help ensure they’re giving the right students credit for the work they receive.


TechCrunch

Trussle, the online mortgage broker backed by the likes of Goldman Sachs, LocalGlobe, Finch Capital and Seedcamp, has lost its founding CEO.

Ishaan Malhi, who co-founded the fintech startup five years ago, has resigned with “immediate effect,” according to a rather brief press release issued by Trussle this morning.

The company is now searching for Malhi’s replacement and in the interim says it will be led by Chairman Simon Williams and others in the senior leadership team. “Williams will be supported by co-founder Jonathan Galore who helped establish Trussle in 2015 and remains closely involved in the business,” reads the press release.

Williams joined Trussle’s board in April 2019, and has had a long stint in financial services. He spent nine years at Citigroup, heading up its International Retail Bank, and more recently served as head of HSBC’s Wealth Management group until 2014.

Meanwhile, the departure of Malhi seems rather abrupt, not least as he doesn’t appear to be involved in the recruitment of his successor. As well as resigning from the role of CEO, the Trussle co-founder has resigned from the startup’s board.

Trussle itself declined to provide further detail, with a spokesperson for the company advising that any questions with regards to why Malhi has resigned should be put to him. I pinged Malhi for comment but he declined to take my call having committed to spending the day with family.

However, he did give a statement to The Telegraph newspaper, telling reporter James Cook: “it was my decision to step down.”

More broadly, the story appears to be being spun as a young first-time founder growing a business to a size where more experienced leadership is needed to take it to the next stage. And it’s certainly true that the company has been staffing up in recent months, growing to 120 staff members (as of late November 2019) and bolstering the leadership team.

Along with Williams, Trussle announced in November that it had recruited ex-Wallaby Financial co-founder Todd Zino as CTO, and ex-head of Zoopla content strategy Sebastian Anthony as head of Organic Growth and Product Manager.

At the time of the announcement, Malhi said in a statement that “culture remains to be our competitive advantage” — a culture that has since seen its founding CEO depart abruptly before a replacement has been found.

Although, as one person with inside knowledge of Malhi’s departure framed it, Trussle has been attempting to diversify the startup’s leadership team for a while now and make the company “less of a one-man show.”

What’s also clear is that the online mortgage broker space is a tough one and pretty capital-intensive due to high customer acquisition costs compared to traditional brokers, where cross-selling is the norm but cost of operations is greater and less scalable. The promise of the online broker model is that once scale is achieved, lower operational costs will start to offset those higher and fiercely competitive acquisition costs.

In other words, a classic venture/digitisation bet, but one that is yet to pan out definitively.

As another reference point, one source tells me that Trussle is projected to make a £10 million loss in 2019 based on £2 million in revenue. I also understand from sources that the startup recently closed an internal funding round from existing investors — separate from its £13.6 million Series B in May 2018, and that its backers remain bullish. As always, watch this space.


TechCrunch

In his recently published book “Astounding,” the author Alec Nevala-Lee brings American science fiction’s Golden Age back into focus by following four key figures: John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard — and Isaac Asimov, who officially turned 100 today (his exact birth date was unknown).

Nevala-Lee’s warts-and-all portrait paints Asimov — known to his fans as the Good Doctor — far more sympathetically than the genre’s other founding fathers. He’s charming and self-deprecating, generous to other writers and editors, a politically progressive thinker and a tireless defender of science and rationality.

But Nevala-Lee is clear about another aspect of Asimov’s story: He was someone who unapologetically groped women.

As recounted in “Astounding,” Judith Merrill said Asimov was known in his younger days as “the man with a hundred hands.” Harlan Ellison wrote, “Whenever we walked up the stairs with a young woman, I made sure to walk behind her so Isaac wouldn’t grab her tush.” And Frederik Pohl even recalled Asimov telling him, “It’s like the old saying. You get slapped a lot, but you get laid a lot too.”

And these aren’t the words of Asimov’s critics or detractors; they’re his friends and peers. Asimov’s habits were so well-known that in 1962, the chairman of the World Science Fiction Convention invited him to give a talk on “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching.”

Foundation Hari Seldon

I’d already heard rumors about Asimov’s behavior back in 2014, when I wrote a birthday essay for BuzzFeed describing him as my favorite author. But I limited the piece to my personal relationship with his work — to the ways in which the Foundation and Robot books turned me into a lifelong science fiction fan, and how his wide-ranging nonfiction expanded my horizons.

Six years later, Asimov remains one of my favorites (alongside Ursula Le Guin, Samuel Delany and Philip K. Dick). And I’ve been happy to sing his praises when he’s in the news.

Still, it seems increasingly difficult to ignore the less admirable aspects of his personality. Fans, friends and other defenders might argue (as Ellison did) that “times were different,” that Asimov saw his behavior as “harmless” and that it’s a relatively minor blemish on his otherwise laudable career. But harassment at conventions is a serious problem, and if Asimov hadn’t died in 1992, it’s hard to imagine that he would have (or should have) escaped the #MeToo era unscathed.

Television critic Emily Nussbaum confronts some of these issues in her essay “Confessions of a Human Shield,” in which she asks, “What should we do with the art of terrible men?”

In the past, Nussbaum says she followed the conventional method of separating the art and the artist: “Decent people sometimes create bad art. Amoral people can and have created transcendent works. A cruel and selfish person — a criminal, even — might make something that was generous, life-giving, and humane.” But now, she admits that “the sociopath’s approach” no longer satisfies.

Robots of Dawn

That’s particularly true with Asimov, whose personality seems inseparable from his work. One of his strengths as a writer was his ability to be clear, conversational and personal. When you read one of his science books or essays, you come away feeling like your good friend Isaac has been explaining things to you in a way that you can finally understand. Even his science fiction is usually prefaced by autobiographical essays written in that same friendly voice.

So for me, it’s not simply a question of separating the art and the artist. It’s about acknowledging that so much of what’s admirable in Asimov’s writing seems to emanate from the man himself — and that, like or it not, he did more to shape my worldview than any other single writer, convincing me (as I put it six years ago) that “ideas matter and the universe can be explained” — while also acknowledging how indefensibly he treated women.

And in the end, it may be something simpler that poses the biggest threat to Asimov’s reputation — namely, the passage of time.

Science fiction has changed dramatically in the past decade, with a gratifyingly diverse group of writers reshaping the field. A new canon is forming, one that doesn’t center on Asimov, Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. As the writer John Scalzi put it, “Heinlein and Clarke and Asimov and etc were and are titans. But remember that the titans were overthrown by newer gods — and that those gods themselves were supplanted over time.”

Getty Images

This is probably how it should be. After all, Asimov’s work is very much of its era. Readers in 2020 and beyond will have an increasingly difficult time recognizing the future he depicted: a future without personal computers or the internet, and in which no one finds it remarkable that every single scientist, politician and person of importance is a man. (The major exception being the roboticist Susan Calvin, who’s still defined by her preeminence in a male-dominated field.)

Not that I think Asimov is about to fade into obscurity. In fact, Apple is producing a new TV+ series based on his Foundation stories, which take place over hundreds of years, depicting the efforts of a small group of scientists to rebuild civilization after the fall of the Galactic Empire.

So Asimov will probably be reentering the conversation soon. And despite my reservations, I’m glad.

Because for all the ways in which he might have missed major technological trends, and for all the ways in which his worldview was rooted in the 1930s and ’40s, Asimov still speaks to the challenges we face today. Not just in his famous Foundation and Robot stories, not just in the essays in which he defends science against religious fundamentalism, but also in “The Gods Themselves,” which I recently reread. Published back in 1972, the novel remains scarily prescient in its depiction of how humanity’s stupidity, greed and attachment to cheap energy can blind us to an existential threat.

And one of Asimov’s major subjects was the very passage of time that’s eroded his prominence in the field. His best work makes that it clear each generation will be eager to leave the last one behind, that it must face new problems with new ideas.

Despite his very real flaws as a writer and as a person, he encouraged us to search for those better ideas and work for that better future. That’s why his books will always have a place on my shelves. And that’s why I hope he’d be happy to give up some of that shelf space to writers who don’t look, think or write like him.


TechCrunch

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. The California Consumer Privacy Act officially takes effect

The CCPA is now officially the law in California, although there’s a grace period of six months before regulators penalize any tech companies that sell your personal data without your permission.

The law requires, among other things, that companies notify users of the intent to monetize their data, and give them a straightforward means of opting out of said monetization. Sounds simple, but it will probably take years before its implications for businesses and regulators are completely understood.

2. Google has little choice to be evil or not in today’s fractured internet

Danny Crichton looks at some of the bigger implications behind the resignation of Ross LaJeunesse, who was head of international relations at Google and served for more than a decade in various roles at the company.

3. Trifo raises $ 15M, announces new robot vacuum

The company’s Lucy vacuum includes a pair of cameras, which combine 1080p color images with depth sensing to provide home surveillance and mapping in light and dark settings. (Whether or not that appeals to you will depend on your views about privacy.)

4. TRACED Act signed into law, putting robocallers on notice

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, a bipartisan bit of legislation that should make life harder for the villains behind robocalls, was signed into law by the president on Tuesday.

5. Lowkey.gg is an esports tournament platform for adult gamers

The hope for Lowkey is that it can connect adult gamers with one another to get the most out of their gaming experience. Everyone playing through Lowkey must be 18 years of age or older and have a full-time job.

6. TechCrunch Include yearly report

Our editorial and events teams work hard throughout the year to ensure that we bring you the most dynamic and diverse group of speakers and judges to our event stages. And finally, at the tail end of 2019, we bring you … 2018 data.

7. These 10 enterprise M&A deals totaled over $ 40B in 2019

The top 10 enterprise M&A deals in 2019 were less than half of last year’s, totaling a mere $ 40.6 billion. (Extra Crunch membership required.)


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