Snapchat raises $175 million from Fidelity

Snapchat has raised $175 million in fresh funding from Fidelity Investments and other investors, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The investment is an extension of Snapchat’s Series F financing round, which the company began raising last year, the person told Reuters.

Snapchat, which makes a free app for sending messages and videos that disappear in seconds, raised the financing at the same $16 billion valuation it had a year ago,citing people familiar with the matter.

Fidelity bought shares of the company at $30.72 per share in February, the same price at which it bought Snapchat shares in March 2015, the newspaper reported.

The “flat round,” in which a company’s valuation does not grow despite an influx of new money, suggests Snapchat’s valuation may have grown too quickly and investors are now readjusting their expectations.

Still, at $16 billion, Snapchat is the sixth mostly highly valued venture-backed company in the world, tied with Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Kuaidi.

Fidelity’s investment comes despite the mutual fund’s own wavering about Snapchat’s valuation. Fidelity slashed its stake in the company by 25% during the third quarter last year. But last fall Fidelity marked its stake back up by about 15%.
The app provider has worked to expand its fledgling advertising business — its only real form of revenue — and last month formed a partnership with Viacom, which gave Viacom exclusive rights to sell advertising around Snapchat’s content.

Google’s Eric Schmidt to head Pentagon’s new advisory board

Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive officer of Google, will head a new Pentagon advisory board aimed at bringing Silicon Valley innovation and best practices to the US military, defense secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.

Carter unveiled the new Defense Innovation Advisory Board with Schmidt during the annual RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco, saying it would give the Pentagon access to “the brightest technical minds focused on innovation.”

Schmidt, now the executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said the board would help bridge what he called a clear gap between how the US military and the technology industry operate.

Schmidt also said he saw the group looking for ways to use new technologies to solve new and emerging problems.

The board is Carter’s latest effort to kick-start innovation across the US military by building bridges to the technology industry. The US defense chief announced the board’s creation on Wednesday during his third trip to Silicon Valley since taking office just over a year ago.

It had been 20 years since the last US defense secretary visited Silicon Valley.

“If we don’t innovate and be competitive, we’re not going to be the military that the country needs and deserves,” Carter told reporters. “We should have done it a while ago.”

Carter has argued forcefully for spending more on science and technology to maintain the US military’s competitive edge over Russia and China as they expand their militaries. Carter andSchmidt said they would choose up to l2 individuals to serve on the board, focusing on people who have led large private and public organizations, and excelled at identifying and adopting new technology concepts.

Schmidt told reporters he had a list of possible members, but had not yet contacted them. ThePentagon said a first meeting could take place as early as April.

Modeled on the Defense Business Board, which provides advice on best business practices from the private sector, the new panel is intended to help the Pentagon become more innovative and adaptive in developing technology and doing business.
Members will draw on their experience in Silicon Valley to advise on rapid prototyping, iterative product development, complex data analysis, the use of mobile and cloud applications and organizational information sharing, the Pentagon said.
“The secretary is always looking at ways to…keep the department thinking fresh, bringing in new ideas, bringing in new voices, and he sees this as another opportunity to do that,” said a senior defense official.

Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl mistaken for ‘Mr Bansal’

Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl mistaken for ‘Mr Bansal’
The startup scene may be populated by many names today, but the many Bansals of Flipkartand Snapdeal will continue to be known as the original e-commerce boys of India. The only non-Bansal of the gang, Kunal Bahl, CEO and co-founder, Snapdeal must make peace with an occasional case of wrongful identification.

Bahl tweeted recently that he was asked the “dreaded question at Mumbai airport.” The question, of course being: “Are you Mr Bansal?” Considering he said “once again”, it’s safe to assume this is a regular occurrence.

He tagged his co-founder Rohit Bansal as well as Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal in his tweet. At the time of publishing, none of the three had responded to Bahl’s tweet

Google’s Android Pay may become hands-free

Google on Wednesday said it is testing ways to let people use digital wallets without having to even take smartphones out of their pockets.

The internet colossus is dabbling with ways to make its Android Pay system for smartphones hands-free, with verification by facial recognition, Google product manager Pali Bhat said in a blog post.

“Imagine if you could rush through a drive-thru without reaching for your wallet, or pick up a hot dog at the ballpark without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier,” Bhat said.

“This prompted us to build a pilot app called Hands Free that we’re now in the early stages of testing.”

Hands-free became available for smartphones powered by Apple or Android software and was being rolled out at a small number of Silicon Valley area eateries, including McDonald’s and Papa John’s, according to Google.

The digital wallet uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections alone with location sensing capabilities in smartphones to detect when someone is near a store enabled with Hands Free payment technology.

“When you’re ready to pay, you can simply tell the cashier, ‘I’ll pay with Google,'” Bhat said.

“The cashier will ask for your initials and use the picture you added to your Hands Free profile to confirm your identity.”

At some locations, Google is experimented with using cameras in stores to recognize people with Hands Free digital wallets so they could pay without even pausing.

Since Android pay was launched in September, an average of 1.5 million accounts have been registered monthly in the United States and the number of locations accepting it has topped two million, according to Google.
“We’re busy working to bring the convenience of Android Pay to more countries and a growing list of stores and apps,” Bhat said.
Google’s mobile wallet competes with Apple Pay and others as people’s reliance on smartphones expands to using handsets to make payments in real-world shops.

Flipkart launches commerce advertising platform, goes live with 50 leading brands

Flipkart has launched its Brand Story Ads on the mobile app with over 50 leading brands on board. Brands including Yes Bank, L’Oreal, Micromax, Intel, Gillette, Datsun and Sony have already signed up on the platform to launch their ad campaigns.

Brand Story Ads is a native, interactive story format with content images and product guides that enables brands to tell their stories in a crisp and impactful manner. In the initial phase, the campaigns will focus on awareness creation with brand story and category pages. This will be extended to product listings, checkouts and other areas.

Along with brands that retail on Flipkart (first party brands), this service will also be available to other non-retailing brands (third party brands) in sectors like real estate, FMCG, BFSI, auto, and telecom etc.

With the launch of Brand Story Ads, Flipkart has ventured into Commerce Advertising. Commerce Advertising delivers a holistic view of consumer’s purchase journey post ad interactions and highlight effectiveness of the advertising campaigns.

Ravi Garikipati, senior vice president, Flipkart, said, “With Brand Story Ads — we are offering a platform where the brands can target and engage with largest qualified commerce audience in the country at the right time for the right intent. Thus, the propensity to click on the advertisement is only higher and stronger. The magnitude of consumer traffic and intelligent data insights on online shopping behavior gives Flipkart the edge to provide larger reach, impact and measurability.”
Mobile advertising in India is fast gaining momentum through increasing popularity of variousapps and mobile sites. The mobile advertising spends are expected to account for 15-20% of the overall media expenditure by 2020 according to a report by Deloitte. India is one of the leading markets worldwide in which ad spend will grow at a double-digit rate annually.
Flipkart ventured into the online advertising space last year with the introduction of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to enable sellers on the platform gain more visibility and reach a larger customer base. Now with further enhancement to its advertising portfolio, Flipkart is looking to help brands engage with customers in a much meaningful and efficient way.

Yahoo launches eSports arena to win video game fans

Yahoo launched an online arena for eSports in a challenge to venues hosted by YouTube and Amazon-owned Twitch.

Yahoo Esports will feature live tournaments, commentary, features, interviews and more tailored for the booming trend of video games as spectator sports.

“We’re approaching our coverage of eSports with the same tenacity and professionalism we always have with Yahoo Sports, News and Finance,” Yahoo Sports Media vice president Bob Condor said in an online post.

“We’ve gone out and assembled an experienced and innovative content team that will cover eSports from every angle.”

The rollout of YouTube Gaming in the middle of last year marked the public debut of an online venue where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.

An English-language website at gaming.youtube.com was rolled out in countries where YouTube is available.

The online arena for video game channels incorporates the search smarts of Google, which owns YouTube, to surface fresh or must-see content.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming in 2014.

The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon’s history — $970 million in cash for the three-year-old internet company.

Twitch Interactive streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch, and hosts gaming events.

It allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking websites, and it also sells advertising to generate income.

Yahoo getting into the eSports game came as it had a committee study “strategic alternatives,” moving closer toward a breakup or sale of the troubled internet pioneer.

The term “strategic alternatives” is often used when a company is considering a merger or sale.

Some reports have said Yahoo could sell its “core” internet business and that potential suitors may include telecom giant Verizon, which recently acquired AOL, or Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

A sale would leave Yahoo’s multibillion-dollar holdings in Chinese internet firm Alibaba in a separate entity.
Yahoo has been working on a plan to separate the two units.
Yahoo said last month that it was cutting 15% of its workforce and narrowing its focus, which will mean closing some digital media operations.

Although Yahoo is one of the best-known names on the internet and is used by around one billion people, it has fallen behind Google in internet searches and has been steadily losing ground in online advertising.

Flipkart cheated of lakhs by Punjab-based gang

Mansa police on Tuesday arrested six persons forcheating online shopping portal Flipkart by allegedly ordering costly products using mobile phone sim cards procured on fake documents.

The accused used to take out original parts and put cheap quality parts and return these to the online shopping company and to seek refund for their purchase, said police.

Police have recovered 10 mobile phones, laptops and Rs 17 lakh in cash from the arrested persons, identified as Suresh Kumar of Mansa, Gagandeep Singh of Karamgarh village, Yadwinder Singh, Sandeep Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Kuldeep Singh of Gharagna village.

Mansa superintendent of police (investigations) Vinod Kumar said, “The arrested persons used to make fake email IDs and procure mobile phone sim cards on fake names. They used to get va rious products from Flipkart and after few days used to return those by terming these as defected.”

After nearly two months, the company sensed mischief and approached police with a complaint. SP Vinod said police arrested the accused on the basis of the complaint filed by the company.

Germany, US to cooperate on IT standards to reboot industry

Germany has agreed to work with the United States to find common standards to connect to the internet as part of its plan to modernize its small and mid-sized businesses for the digital age and safeguard its industrial competitiveness.

Europe’s biggest economy owes much of its exporting prowess to its small-to-mid-sized, often family-owned manufacturers, many of which are latecomers to internet-era technology.

Officials are concerned that a failure to capitalize on the latest digital trends will leave its industrial base exposed to new competitors in the United States and Asia.

Germany, which launched its “Industrie 4.0” platform in 2013 to promote the digitisation of industry, will collaborate on common standards with the US-based Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC).

“Collaborating with other initiatives is important, especially for Germany’s export-orientated economy,” said Siegfried Russwurm, chair of Platform Industrie 4.0 and chief technology officer at Siemens. “We are highly interested to cooperate intensively with others in order to pave the way for global standards.”

AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel founded the IIC in March 2014 to accelerate the widespread adoption of everyday devices with software and analytics.
While Industrie 4.0 has focussed on manufacturing, the IIC is looking at the adoption of industrial internet technologies across industries, including healthcare, energy, transportation and the public domain.
Representatives from both organisations met in Zurich to see if they could find common ground. They agreed to set up a regular technical exchange on making sure the platforms could work together in the future and to discuss common testing initiatives.
“This will allow for much smoother international cooperation between smaller companies and larger enterprise to test out use cases and initiate standards,” said Bernd Leukert, a member of the managing board at German software maker SAP.

Motorola devices now available on Amazon

Motorola devices will also be available on Amazon.Motorola has announced that its popular smartphones will now be available on Amazon. The company has also introduced some introductory offers such as discounts and cashbacks on the Motorola devices. All the offers are available on both web and the app of the company.

The list of Motorola smartphones available on Amazon include Moto G Turbo Edition – Rs. 11,499 (Rs. 1000 off), Moto G (3rd Gen) (16 GB) – Rs. 9,999 (Rs. 1000 off), Moto G (3rd Gen) (8 GB) – Rs. 8,999 (Rs. 1000 off), Moto E (2nd Gen)4G – Rs. 5,999 (Rs. 1000 off).

Along with this, Motorola Moto 360 is also available on Amazon at a discounted price.
Motorola recently announced that its first shatterproof display smartphone Moto X Force will now be available on 400 retail stores across the country. Along with this, the customers will also be able to avail the EMO options on selected bank credit cards.
The Motorola Moto X Force is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor coupled with 3GB RAM. The internal storage of the device accounts to 32GB/64GB which can be further expanded up to 2TB via microSD card.

Google’s Australia MD Maile Carnegie quits to join ANZ

ANZ Banking Group has poachedGoogle’s Australia MD Maile Carnegie to the newly created position of digital banking chief, as the country’s No. 4 lender pushes into technology amid slowing revenues and stifling competition.
Carnegie, who starts in her new role in July, will lead the bank’s digital push including “strategic relationships” with the financial technology sector, ANZ said in a statement on Tuesday.
Australian banks are beefing up their fintech operations in response to growing competition from smaller digital rivals. According to estimates from KPMG, over a quarter of current banking industry revenue, or about A$27 billion ($19.21 billion), was at risk from “digital disruptors”.

“Maile’s appointment recognises that digital is central to driving revenue growth and to successfully competing in a changing and disrupted environment where technology and brand are key sources of differentiation,” ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said in a statement.

Maile would be asked to “shift our thinking” and bring in new technology-literate talent, he added.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has set up innovation labs to tap the thinking of tech entrepreneurs, while Westpac Banking Corp has picked equity stakes in several fintech startups including peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne.