All posts in “Europe”

Coup launches new electric scooter service in Paris and faces off with Cityscoot


Coup is launching its second city for its electronic scooter-sharing service. You can now find hundreds of Coup scooters in Paris. The company is going to compete with Cityscoot, a similar service that has been around for a while.

While the city’s bike-sharing service has been around for a decade in Paris, scooter-sharing is something new. Coup has acquired around 600 electronic scooters from Gogoro to expand beyond Berlin. Anybody with a driver’s license can now sign up.

When you open the Coup app, you see a map with available scooters around you. You can then book and walk toward your scooter to unlock it using your smartphone. There’s a helmet in the storage space under the seat. After putting the helmet on, you’re good to go.

When you’re done, you don’t have to look for a dedicated parking space for Coup scooters. You can just park your scooter with other regular scooters and lock it for the next user.

Coup can keep an eye on the fleet of scooters as they’re all connected. When the battery level is low, the company can swap the battery for a brand new one. Coup costs €4 for the first 30 minutes and then €1 every ten minutes.

Cityscoot works more or less the same way but costs €0.20 per minute of usage if you buy a pre-paid package. It’s a different pricing strategy. Cityscoot currently has more scooters as well.

But these two services feel somewhat similar. You hunt around your neighborhood to find a scooter, you ride around the city on a silent, electric scooter and then you park it wherever you want when you’re done.

Maybe there’s enough room for two companies on this market. Uber and Chauffeur-Privé seem to be both doing well in Paris for instance. It’s always better to have more options to move around your city, so people living in Paris now have yet another transportation system.

Codacy, a platform that helps developers check the quality of their code, raises $5.1M


Codacy, a startup based in Lisbon, Portugal that offers what it calls an “automated code review platform,” has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding. EQT Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Faber, Caixa Capital, Join Capital, and Seedcamp.

Launched in 2014, Codacy says it has been used by hundreds of companies, name-checking Paypal, Adobe, Qlik, Cancer Research UK, and Deliveroo as customers. The software can be installed on-premise or accessed in the cloud and is used by developers to check the quality of code, and implement code quality standards.

“Code review has become an essential part of any development workflow and developers now spend more than 20 per cent of their time reviewing code to catch bugs as early as possible and ensure quality,” says Codacy co-founder Jaime Jorge. “With Codacy, we estimate that we help developers optimise around 30 per cent of their code review time”.

This, claims Jorge, sees engineering teams be more efficient by 6 per cent. Or, put in more tangible terms, can correspond to delivering software two weeks ahead of plan.

“More than code reviews, our mission is to achieve developer productivity through quality at scale. We do this by centralizing the most meaningful problems, alerts and metrics and completely integrating them into your workflow,” he says.

“As an example, as you are creating a pull request we can tell you that we’ve found a security vulnerability as well as tell you that your test coverage is almost at your team’s defined objective. We’re continually developing our product to ensure it’s best-in-class at helping developers understand their code quality and make great engineering decisions”.

Codacy customers range from small digital consultancy shops to large multinational corporations, and span multiple industries and geographies.

Direct competitors are cited as Code Climate, and Sonarqube, but Jorge claims customers choose Codacy because of the way it is integrated into their workflow, to the point of automatically syncing with their favorite tools such as Github Enterprise. “This is particularly useful for our very large customers,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the new round of funding will be used to further build out the team to enable Codacy to expand its offering to a broader base of customers. The company currently employs 13 people and says it is hiring in the areas of software engineering, customer success, sales and marketing.

Android newbie HMD’s Nokia 8 flagship lets you livestream ‘frontbacks’


Rebooting the venerable Nokia smartphone brand has not been a rush job for HMD Global, the Foxconn-backed company set up for the purpose of licensing the Nokia name to try to revive the brand’s fortunes on smartphones.

But after starting with basic and mid-tier smartphones, it’s finally outted a flagship Android handset, called the Nokia 8, which it will be hoping can put some dents in Samsung’s high end. And/or pull consumers away from Huawei’s flagships handsets — or indeed the swathe of Chinese OEMs surging up the smartphone market share ranks.

With the Nokia 8, HMD is putting its flagship focus on content creators wanting to livestream video for their social feeds.

Competition in the Android OEM space has been fierce for years and there’s no signs of any slack appearing so HDM faces a steep challenge to make any kind of dent here. But at least it now has an iron in the fire. As analyst CCS Insight notes, the handset will be “hugely important in getting Nokia-branded smartphones back on the mobile phone map”.

Specs wise, the Nokia 8 runs the latest version of Android (Nougat 7.1.1) — which HMD is touting as a “pure Android experience”, akin to Google’s Pixel handsets. (There’s a not-so-gentle irony there, given Nokia’s history in smartphones. But clearly HMD is going full in on Android.)

On the hardware front, there’s a top end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, plus 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory (expandable thanks to a MicroSD card slot). While the 5.3 inch ultra HD resolution display puts it on the verge of phablet territory — and squarely within the current smartphone screen size sweet spot.

Also on board: dual rear cameras, both 13MP (one color, one B&W), and a 13MP front facing lens — all with f/2.0; using Zeiss optics; and with support for 4K video.

The flagship camera feature — and really phone feature too — is the ability to livestream video from both front and back cameras simultaneously.

HMD is trying to coin a hashtaggable word to describe this: “bothie” (as opposed to a selfie)…

This split screen camera feature can also be used for photos — so they’ve basically reinvented Frontback. Well done.

“Content creators can natively broadcast their unique #Bothie stories to social media through the Dual-Sight functionality located within the camera app. Fans can also enjoy unlimited photo [<16MB in size] and video uploads to Google Photos,” HMD writes.

This could prove a sticky feature for social media lovers — perhaps especially the dual video option, which lets people share twin perspective video direct to Facebook and YouTube via the camera app.

Or it could prove a passing fad, like Frontback. Time will tell. CCS Insight describes it as an “interesting approach” but also cautions on whether consumers will take to it.

Commenting on the feature in a statement, HMD’s Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer, said: “We know that fans are creating and sharing live content more than ever before, with millions of photos and videos shared every minute on social media. People are inspired by the content they consume and are looking for new ways to create their own. It’s these people who have inspired us.”

Elsewhere on the device, there’s a spatial surround sound recording tech that uses three microphones and is apparently drawing on Nokia’s Ozo 360 camera division, plus USB type C charging port; a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a non-removable 3090 mAh battery.

The handset, which is clad in an aluminium unibody casing and has a fingerprint reader on the front for device unlocking and authentication, is described as splashproof rather than waterproof.

Global RRP for the Nokia 8 is €599, with a rollout due to start in September. The handset comes in a choice of four colors: Polished Blue, Polished Copper, Tempered Blue and Steel.

Digi.me and Personal merge to put you in control of the nascent ‘personal data ecosystem’


Digi.me and Personal, two companies that broadly play in the personal data space by offering apps to securely store and share various data about yourself, are announcing a merger. Terms of deal remain undisclosed, although I’m told that the combined entity will operate under the Digi.me brand and give the company a 60-person headcount who will operate out of a global HQ near London in the U.K. and a U.S. operation based in Washington, DC.

Personal’s enterprise solution TeamData will be spun off as a separate information security and productivity solution for businesses, while the broader and hugely ambitious vision for the resulting Digi.me remains to become a major player in what founder and Chair Julian Ranger calls the emerging ‘personal data ecosystem’.

The premise, Ranger told me during a call late last week, is that consumers are being enticed to hand over more and more personal data in return for better products and services, but what is still needed is a platform to put you in control of how and who that data is shared with. This needs to be done in a transparent way, and the resulting platform on which companies can build apps on top of should adhere to the principal of informed consent.

Better still, what if your data doesn’t unnecessarily leave your own device or personal cloud storage but can still be shared with businesses on a per use case basis? Nearly 7 years in the making, this is the promise of Digi.me and now combined with Personal.

The way Digi.me works is that the mobile or desktop app asks where in your personal cloud you want your data stored — currently that means Dropbox, with the other usual suspects supported soon — and then it asks you to connect the app to various personal data-points. Right now this means social (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc.), with financial and health data currently in various testing phases, including a country-wide ‘living lab’ project with Iceland.

When needed, data stored in your personal cloud is securely processed via your own temporary virtual machine instance sitting on Microsoft’s Azure cloud so that it is normalised and kept up to date, with the local Digi.me app essentially acting as the front end, gatekeeper (including the holder of the needed keys), and distributor for that data.

Then when a third-party app needs access to a particular subset of your data, say your transactions for the last 24 months to do a more accurate credit score, it authenticates via the Digi.me app — meaning that you have to explicitly agree to the specific data request — and the Digi.me app pulls the data from your personal cloud and grants the third-party app access to it.

“Companies and developers can… use Digi.me’s APIs to request access to integrated data sets to provide better data-driven experiences, services, and rewards, and to provide other benefits like rich personal analytics. Health, wearable and music data will also be available soon after the merger,” explains the new joint company.

One crucial point here, however, and what makes the Digi.me proposition different from other approaches to personal data sharing is that the platform has been designed so that in many instances a third-party app can also process the data locally, meaning that it doesn’t need to leave your device. Instead, sticking to the example of a credit score checking app, it only transmits and stores the resulting credit score on its own servers, not the personal financial data it was based on.

That, says Ranger, changes the game completely and should in time mean consumers become comfortable sharing more data in return for new kinds of products and services. “Do more, privately,” is the company’s mantra.

“It isn’t about privacy or sharing, but both privacy and sharing when the point of integration and ownership is the individual,” he says, arguing that this opens up individuals to sharing data that they don’t today such as health, finance, and more.

Likewise, and where Digi.me sees a potentially very large business (since it charges on a per access basis, capped at $3 per user), is that the platform allows any company to have what he quite convincingly argues can be better data than Google et al because it can be wider and deeper and should remain a lot more accurate.

However, for this to become a reality, Ranger concedes it needs two things: Users to find enough utility in Digi.me to download the app and connect it to an increasing number of personal data points, and businesses wanting to develop on the platform, who, in turn, want access to enough users to make it worth their while. The classic platform chicken and egg, you might say.

To address this, Ranger says the app has been designed to be useful first and foremost on an individual and private basis as a way for you to search and get better insights into your own personal data, which benefits from being stored in a single place not multiple silos.

And for businesses who might not see Digi.me as delivering enough users yet — it counts around 400,000 — it has signed a number of partnerships to have those businesses also become a distribution channel for Digi.me. The logic being that a business could offer new functionality in its own app or service that requires a customer to start using Digi.me.

Meanwhile, today’s merger is all about Digi.me having a foothold in North America. As part of that it sees Shane Green, co-founder and CEO of Personal, become CEO of Digi.me’s U.S. operation.

Digi.me and Personal have raised over $40 million combined. Investors include Omidyar Network (the self-styled “philanthropic investment firm” co-founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidya), SwissRe, Planetary Holdings, TCS Capital Management, Allen & Company, Revolution Ventures, Ted Leonsis, and Esther Dyson.

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Moneytis is like a travel fare aggregator, but for sending money abroad


If you don’t care too much about loyalty programs, chances are that you’ve been relying on platforms like Booking.com and Expedia to find the cheapest flights and hotel rooms. Moneytis wants to do the exact same thing, but for foreign exchange services.

TransferWise is arguably the biggest consumer brand in international transfers. Instead of telling your bank to send money to your bank account, you send money to TransferWise first. The startup then converts the amount and transfers your money to the other account abroad.

It’s been an eye-opening experience for many consumers who realized that they’re getting screwed by banks, Western Union, Moneygram, etc.

But TransferWise is just one player in this space. For instance, while the startup is usually quite competitive when you want to convert GBP into EUR, it’s not as competitive when you want to send money from the U.S. to Europe. Other services, such as CurrencyFair let you keep more money at the end of your transfer.

That’s why Moneytis is applying the Booking.com model to international transfers. The experience is quite straightforward as you just have to put two different currencies and how much money you plan on sending.

“I was an expat in China and Etienne [Tatur] was in Europe. And I was shocked by hidden fees every time I wanted to send money,” co-founder and CFO Christophe Lassuyt told me. “That’s when we listed and compared all solutions out there. Friends quickly asked us to see the list. We ended up launching a comparison tool. We then understood that users wanted to compare, but also transfer easily. That’s the service we’re launching.”

Moneytis then compares many services and displays the fastest service, the cheapest one, the most popular one, etc. You don’t have to sign up to other services as you can send your money directly on Moneytis.

The startup doesn’t add any fee. Instead, Moneytis takes a small cut from third-party services as it is generating leads for those foreign exchange services. On average, clients are sending $2,000 — Moneytis takes 0.3 percent (representing $6) and it’s transparent for the user.

There’s no clear winner in the foreign exchange space as big players like TransferWise only cover some currencies. Exchange rate volatility also means that some services are going to be cheaper one day and more expensive the next day. Finally, some services will be able to get better deals for particular routes.

Moneytis is clearly a volume play as the startup will need thousands of transfers per day to scale. It could build an API so that big clients can automate transfers and always use the cheapest service out there. This way, the service could become an essential tool for companies doing business in many different countries.

Featured Image: Dennis Skley/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-ND 2.0 LICENSE