All posts in “business”

Let’s meet in New York to talk token sales


I’ve been holding a few micro meet ups over the past few years and thought I’d start it up again in honor of token/ICO mania. I’d love to hear what you all are working on in the New York area so we’ll all meet at Union Hall in Brooklyn next Wednesday at 7pm.

The event is very informal and we’ll plan the next few months of micro-meetups during the event. My goal is to do a few pitching workshops in February and March and then do a real pitch-off in the Spring in preparation for VC season. If you’re interested in talking tokens or honing your startup craft come on out. You can RSVP here.

Featured Image: Klaus Vartzbed EyeEm/Getty Images

Wizeline expands its outsourced IT services business into southeast Asia


Wizeline, a provider of outsourced programming services, is expanding its global footprint with agreements to partner with a slew of development shops across Southeast Asia.

Founded in 2014, the company has a similar vision as Andela — providing programming jobs for developers in emerging markets to unlock the local talent pool and expose a new generation and geographies to the startup world.

While Andela has focused on opportunities to employ developers in Africa, Bismarck Lepe, Wizeline’s founder and chief executive, initially focused on Latin America. The company currently employs 300 people in Guadalajara, Mexico and opened its second office a year ago in Ho Chi Minh City.

Now, the company is expanding its footprint by leveraging third-party developer shops to add additional programmers to its roster. “From our perspective, that has allowed us to scale dramatically,” said Lepe. “Our company is 400 people. We have 250 to 275 developers… With the network we’ve been able to increase it to 1,000 engineers that have been vetted.”

Lepe started looking at opportunities in Guadalajara with his first company, Ooyala. When that company was acquired by Telstra for $270 million in 2014, Lepe immediately started working on Wizeline — and returned to Guadalajara to do it.

“My parents left Mexico because it was corrupt and dangerous and there weren’t opportunities,” Lepe told me. “[Now] Mexico graduates 80,000 software engineers per year. When we started Wizeline, we started day one with our engineers in Guadalajara.”

The company builds developer toolkits to solve specific problems for its corporate clients. They range from conversational artificial intelligence, data analytics and language processing.

“They start to work with our individual consultants, then over time our footprint within an organization expands,” Lepe told me.

Wizeline is already working with customers like News Corp., Nike and Lands’ End and is on track to hit a $30 million run rate.

In addition to its product development services, the company is already beginning to work on its own products, including a chatbot SDK and other developer tools.

In August, the company raised a $10 million round led by Leap Global alongside existing investors, Sierra Ventures, A Capital, SV Angel and Lowercase Capital.

The company’s success and new funding rounds for companies across Latin America, like Creditas, point to the growing strength of the technology market across the region.

“In 2010, when we started operations in Mexico there were four funds. Now there are nearly 100 venture funds in Mexico,” Lepe said. “Mexico is becoming a lot more open and they recognize that they need to have an appreciation and understanding for what technology can do for their business.”

Beyond increasing the talent pool that’s been exposed to working for startups in other markets, Wizeline is also doing its part to launch new companies. To that end, Lepe has carved out a $5 million seed fund to invest in projects launched by Wizeline employees. The fund will invest between $25,000 and $250,000 in new businesses.

“I started a $5 million fund to invest in Wizeline employees. We have four that we’re accelerating… the Wizefund will invest from $25,000 to $250,000,” Lepe said.

“Through the Wizefund, if we can build 100 Ooyalas and 100 Wizelines that’s when you see a pretty big impact to society,” says Lepe.

Florida man hacked Uber in 2016

The hacker behind Uber's massive 2016 data breach has been  revealed.
The hacker behind Uber’s massive 2016 data breach has been  revealed.

Image: David Ramos/Getty Images

A report from Reuters finally revealed the person behind Uber’s massive 2016 data breach: a 20-year-old man from Florida. Florida Man, you might say.

A source told the publication that the man responsible for the hack — which Uber revealed in a November blog post had affected 57 million customers around the world — was reportedly “living with his mom in a small home trying to help pay the bills.” 

The man was able compromise a hefty amount of personal data including millions of names, email addresses, and phone numbers of both drivers and riders.

After learning of the breach, Uber’s now ousted security team paid the hacker $100,000 through “bug bounty” program HackerOne — typically used to pay people who point out software flaws. The hacker agreed to delete the data and not come forward about what he had done..

Sources told Reuters that the company ensured the data had been removed by performing a “forensic analysis of the hacker’s machine,” and made him sign a nondisclosure agreement promising he won’t participate in any “further wrongdoing.”

It was also reported that the Florida hacker paid a second person to help access Uber credentials from GitHub.

Since the hack, two Uber security officials have been fired and others, including former president Jeff Jones have resigned.

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The company behind Dots is changing CEOs


Playdots, the company that lets gamers play with Dots, will soon have a new CEO as co-founder and current COO Patrick Moberg takes over for co-founder Paul Murphy. Murphy lead the company as CEO since the founding in 2013 and will stay with Playdots as a board member.

Murphy and Moberg co-founded Playdots in 2013 and in 2015 led the company to spin out of betaworks on the back of $10 million in funding from Greycroft Partners, Tencent and others.

Murphy is seemingly leaving the company in a good state of affairs, explaining in a post on Medium that the company is profitable, scaling and committed to releasing new games. He told TechCrunch that his plan to step down has been in the works for several months and the company has already been operating under the new leadership to ensure a smooth transition.

Challenges lie ahead for Playdots and its new CEO in Patrick Moberg but he’s been with the company since the start. Murphy tells TechCrunch that the two have always worked side-by-side, making decisions together. Initially Moberg focused on the game while Murphy handled the business but as the company grew, Moberg spent more time with the company strategy.

Moberg points to balancing the company’s creativity with its business as the biggest challenge ahead.

“Creativity produces risk and business aims to reduce risk,” Moberg said. ” To succeed in the short term, that dichotomy needs to be understood and calibrated against by the ‘decision makers’, but the long term goal is to lay the groundwork for a methodology where that process is a shared responsibility of every person at Dots. Communicating and maintaining such an organization is a really difficult challenge.”

As for outgoing CEO Paul Murphy, he plans on staying close to the gaming industry while spending more time investing in Europe. And staying close to the gaming industry is probably for the best. He seems to be walking away with deep insights saying the main thing he learned while at Playdots was “highly differentiated products are exponentially easier and less expensive to market” which is something most mobile game makers would be wise to remember — and there’s now an ex-CEO who believes that and is potentially on the market.

Bitcoin reaches new record high, breaks $9,000

The price of one bitcoin passed $9,000.
The price of one bitcoin passed $9,000.

Image: ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUK/GETTY images

Bitcoin is getting closer and closer to $10,000. 

The cryptocurrency hit a record high of $9,033 per bitcoin early Sunday morning. The price rose steadily over the weekend and surpassed $9,000 at around 6:40 a.m. UTC (1:40 a.m. ET), according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index. It now has a market cap of more than $150 billion. 

Another digital currency ethereum also hit an all-time high of $485.18 on Saturday but has since dropped to $461.79 on Sunday, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin had been on an incredible run in the latter half of 2017. It was valued at $1,000 at the beginning of the year and is now closer to reaching the $10,000 mark as we inch toward to 2018. Bitcoin’s value surpassed $5,000 and $6,000 in October and then rose over $7,000 and $8,000 in November. 

Price per one bitcoin

Price per one bitcoin

That said, it’s too early to tell when the price of Bitcoin will reach that $10,000 milestone because the markets act irrationally and could face a price correction, as The Merkle noted

Bitcoin was boosted by investor interest around Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping, a digital assets analyst suggested to CNBC

Indeed, Coinbase, the largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., added around 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday this week to reach a total of 13.1 million. Coinbase had 4.9 million users this time last year, according to CNBC. 

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