Roblox nabs $92 million to power its massive social gaming platform for kids

Roblox has spent the greater part of the millennium creating a cool place for kids to play a diverse collection of games inside a single cross-platform world for its huge audience of tens of millions of monthly active youngsters.

The company announced Tuesday that it has closed a massive $92 million funding round led by Meritech Capital Partners and Index Ventures. The company has now raised just over $102 million in total funding to date.

Things have been moving rather quickly as of late for the social gaming startup founded in 2005. The company recently announced it has more than 48 million monthly active users on the site, with about half of that traffic coming from U.S. users. The company announced in December that user growth was at 30 million MAUs, so growth has been fervent in 2017 so far.

“Roblox’s growth over the past two years has been one of the best-kept secrets in the industry,” Meritech managing director Craig Sherman said in a statement. “They’re experiencing engagement and audience numbers that rival some of the world’s biggest gaming and entertainment companies and we see the trajectory continuing to accelerate. This is an exciting time to come on board.”

 Roblox is pretty unique in just how young its large user base is, with children between the ages of 6-16 composing the largest chunk of the site’s users. Roblox is available across a wide swath of platforms, including desktops, smartphones, consoles and a variety of virtual reality platforms.

If you’re first thought from this headline is that this is a hell of a lot of money, you’re not wrong. Roblox may have visual fidelity that’s about as basic as Minecraft, but it’s the game platform’s customizability through creative tools that is allowing developers to go wild in building cool content for users.

Roblox Studio is a bit like a more simplistic version of Unity, though the more than 22 million games that have been created using the service have to be accessed directly through the Roblox portal. This isn’t just some toy though; developers are making serious money capitalizing on the young and dedicated user base. Roblox just had to rework its pay structure to allow some of its most popular developers to earn up to $140,000 per month from the company.

As the company looks to become more of a household name, they’re expanding into a line of retail toys featuring their LEGO-like characters, which you can buy right now at places like Toys “R” Us.

Evrythng, the Internet of Things platform for ‘smart products,’ scores $24.8M Series B

Evrythng, the Internet of Things (IoT) smart products platform that gives any physical object a so-called “digital identity,” has closed a $24.8 million Series B funding.

The round was led by San Francisco-based Sway Ventures, and also included Toronto-based Generation Ventures and London-based Bloc Ventures. They join existing backers such as Cisco Investments, Samsung, BHLP, Atomico, Dawn Capital and Advance Vixeid Partners.

Founded all the way back in 2011, Evrythng offers an enterprise-focused IoT platform for managing what it calls “intelligent software identities” for products that have been made smart via anything from smart tags like QR codes, to NFC, BLE, RFID, or which are directly connected to the internet. In other words, it’s the data layer needed by companies that want to go all in on the IoT trend as part of their digital transformation strategy.

In a call, Evrythng co-founder and CEO Niall Murphy told me that the company’s customers and use case broadly falls into three camps: tracking products through the supply chain, direct-to-consumer applications through smart packaging that can be the trigger for new types of experiences, and directly connected smart home products (i.e. what consumers might traditionally think of as IoT).

In a sign of how far the company has come since its upstart beginnings, over the past 12 months, Evrythng has announced partnerships with leading global packaging companies Avery Dennison Retail Branding, Information Solutions (RBIS), Crown Holdings and WestRock.

 Avery Dennison, for example, is a major player in apparel labeling, branding and packaging solutions, and counts leading retailers, apparel and footwear brands as customers. Likewise, Crown Holdings and WestRock are described as market leaders in the consumer packaged goods market, packaging tens of billions of food, beverage and home goods products for global brands.

But why, you may ask, does a product’s packaging need to be smart or tentatively connected to the internet? The upside is that, since it has a digital identity via the Evrythng platform, it can be properly tracked throughout the supply chain, including its whereabouts, authenticity and product recalls, for example.

On the consumer side, these digital identities can also be connected to an app to enable things like further product information and various digital experiences, or something as simple as re-ordering a very specific product SKU.

Meanwhile, I’m told the new Series B funding will support Evrythng’s growth through additional partnerships, the expansion of its team and further development of its platform.

The News Lens raises Series B to challenge Asia’s traditional media companies

The News Lens, an online journalism startup that aims to be the voice of reason in Asia’s raucous media landscape, will focus on creating more original video content after landing a Series B round. The startup hasn’t disclosed the exact amount, but says it is in the range of $2 million to $3 million.

Founded in 2013 as an antidote to the country’s scandal-obsessed tabloids, The News Lens has since grown to include separate editions for Hong Kong and international readers.

Its Series B was led by Wiskey Capital and includes returning investor North Base Media, a fund created by former Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli and Media Development Loan Fund founder Sasa Vucinic to support independent media startups.

Other investment firms and angel investors that took part were Walden International, Trinity Investment, Angelvest, Dorcas Investments, Vic Chen,  Ogilvy PR Taiwan managing director Wei Shang, Irene Chen, board director of the Foundation for Excellent Journalism, Camp Mobile Taiwan general manager Edgar Chiu and Alice Sun, co-founder and COO of Knock Know.

Chung says that when The News Lens announced its Series A in May 2015, it had about 3 million to 4 million monthly unique visitors. That metric has now increased to 5 million to 6 million, and the company’s goal is to add another million monthly unique visitors to its sites by the end of this year.

The News Lens currently has a staff of about 70 and offices in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Its Series B will be used to create more video content and live streams with The News Lens’ new global news anchor, Jennifer Shen, one of Taiwan’s most prolific and recognizable TV journalists.

The addition of Shen is a big step because it shows that the site—which started as a Facebook page—now has the power to compete with established media organizations not only for eyeballs, but also for talent.

 “It’s the first time in Taiwan history where someone of her caliber from traditional TV has come over to join new media, so it’s like a milestone, where a new media startup in Taiwan has finally grown up and we finally meet in the middle,” says Chung. “It really symbolizes that it’s a major player and can attract high-caliber talent—the number one anchor from the number one TV channel—to our company.”

The News Lens is one of the most prominent digital media startups based in Asia or created for Asian readers that have gained traction through social media, such as YouTube channel 88Rising, lifestyle magazine Juksy, and travel site Black Buddha. Like The News Lens, these companies are targeted to younger, educated audiences who are disillusioned by traditional media outlets.

Another signal that The News Lens is becoming a bona fide competitor to mainstream publications (in Taiwan, these include the Apple Daily, the Liberty Times and the United Daily) is its new content partnership with Time Inc., which allows it to translate and publish articles from Time and Fortune. Content licensing to textbook publishers and other sites is also a growing revenue stream.

Chung says that over the next couple of years, The News Lens plans to create three or four new sites that will focus on business, women’s issues, lifestyle and travel. Its first lifestyle site, called Every Little D (which stands for “details”), launched in January and Chung hopes it will create new opportunities for targeted advertising by attracting readers who usually skip headline news. Politically neutral soft news may also help The News Lens break through mainland China’s Great Firewall.

“There’s no reason why a piece on bespoke custom suit can’t be taken across platforms in Greater China and in English editions. We want to experiment with this for the Chinese market,” says Chung. “Lifestyle might be the one that’s not blocked in China.”

Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

It’s World Water Day. Time to wake up and take shorter showers. That is, if we’re fortunate enough to have them. Water scarcity and pollution are persistent global problems. According to End Water Poverty, some 663 million people around the world have absolutely no reliable access to clean, safe water year-round. And two-thirds of the world population faces water scarcity for at least one month every year.

In the wealthy US, we’re facing a different kind of water crisis largely of our own making. In 2016 only 9 states reported safe lead levels in their schools’ water supply. Lead and copper contamination can come from irresponsible industry, aging pipes, ineffectual water treatment plants and too little investment in our public water infrastructure.

Droughts and natural disasters can cut off access to potable and sanitary water anywhere in the world, too. Haiti is known as a “pipeless nation,” still recovering from 2010’s catastrophic earthquake and consequent natural disasters. In Haiti, only one-quarter of residents have access to toilets, according to the World Bank. And it’s hard to believe it, but giant freshwater sources in North America like Lake Mead in Arizona or the Colorado River may not be able to keep pumping to residents’ homes and businesses much longer thanks to drought and pollution.

Our daily consumption of water affects future supply, of course. Right now, according to research by WWF, wasteful irrigation systems on farms consume about 70% of the world’s freshwater, over double that of any other industry. By contrast, municipal water represents a mere 8% of global use. Bad irrigation practices in farming can hurt our water in other ways, washing pollutants into rivers, streams or other freshwater ecosystems.

At TechCrunch, we’re lucky to see the hopeful ways that startups, investors and other organizations are working to solve huge problems plaguing humanity with tech, including the global water crisis. Here are 12 to watch:

1. Water Is Life

The nonprofit Water is Life makes and distributes portable water filters that look like big straws. The components inside the straws are “membranes, iodized crystals and active carbon,” which eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses including typhoid, cholera, E. coli, and reduce other harmful particles so people can drink safely wherever they go. Water is Life also creates educational campaigns, and even a VR game, to teach kids why and how they should clean or filter water before they drink from a potentially unsafe source.

2. charity: water

Charity: water is focused on helping people get access to clean water. Founder Scott Harrison has gotten support from the tech community throughout the years, with entrepreneurs like Sean Parker and Michael Birch involved with the organization.

3. The Human Utility: Detroit Water Project 

Backed by Y Combinator, TeeSpring and the Shuttleworth Foundation, The Human Utility is helping low-income families get help paying for their water bills so their taps won’t be turned off by utilities leaving them thirsty in their own homes.

4. WaterSmart

WaterSmart’s software helps the water industry understand what’s happening to every last drop of H2O. It aggregates and analyzes information from millions of water meters, predicts demand, and helps utilities communicate with customers about everything from leaks at home to service or rate changes. WaterSmart is making moves with a recent $7 million raise at a $21 million pre-money valuation.

5. Valor Water

Backed by Y Combinator, Valor Water helps utilities understand who is wasting and who is conserving water among their customers. With that data, they can target rate hikes at water pigs, and cut conservationists a good deal to incentivize responsible water use. The company previously competed in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in San Francisco.

6. TOTO

TOTO manufactures high-efficiency toilets and has been named a Water Efficiency Leader by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which lauded its sustainable manufacturing and advocacy efforts. The company’s toilets clean themselves with electrolyzed water after every use. TOTO invited TechCrunch to test-drive their latest bidet-and-toilet model at CES this year, but our reporter declined since he was doing the story on camera.

7. Pluto AI

This company, which was one of our favorites from 500 Startups’ 19th class, is developing an application of deep learning for water management. Pluto.ai uses data and machine learning to predict infrastructure failures and to monitor water usage. The company is striving to reduce operating costs at two of the 10 largest water companies in the world who it counts among its partners today.

8. ImagineH20

Imagine H2O is a water-focused accelerator and fund providing water entrepreneurs with “the resources, insight and visibility to launch and scale successful businesses.” The company’s annual water innovation prize rallies entrepreneurs to focus on solving different water-related problems with their technology. This year’s winner, Utilis, uses satellite imagery and big data analytics to find leaks in underground water supplies to large, urban markets so that cities can stop them and save that water for residential use.

9. XPV Water Partners

A Toronto-based venture firm called XPV Water Partners has developed a specialization around startups in the water industry, one of the most regulated sectors in every nation. Its portfolio includes microbial monitoring tech startup LuminUltra, water reclamation and reuse venture Natural Systems Utilities, and Shenandoah Growers, a grower of organic herbs that uses 90% less water than required with traditional farming methods, but no photo-sharing or dating apps.

10. Planet Water Foundation

This nonprofit installs water filtration systems in rural communities and at schools around the world so they can have clean, safe drinking water. The systems, called Aqua Towers, trap harmful particles, and kill bacteria and viruses, providing 1,000 people with 10,000 liters of clean water per unit daily.

11. RWL Water 

New York-based RWL Water builds desalination plants and wastewater treatment systems around the world.  The company works to provide a power supply to customers who are in geographically remote areas but need water to power their communities and businesses. Most recently, RWL acquired a water plant in São Paulo, Brazil, a market that has been struggling to keep its residents and businesses in clean water after a two year, El Niño drought.

12. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a tour de force supporting tech to solve problems that plague humanity. The foundation’s Water & Sanitation Hygiene Challenge, and Reinvent the Toilet fair award grants to organizations that improve sanitation in the developing world. According to the foundation’s own research, “Better sanitation contributes to economic development, delivering up to $5 in social and economic benefits for every $1 invested through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and prevention of illness, disability, and early death.”

Singapore’s Homage, a service for in-home care for the elderly, raises $1.2M

Homage, a Singapore-based startup that connects caregivers with elderly people seeking assistance, has closed a $1.2 million seed round. The money comes from 500 Startups’ Southeast Asia fund, Golden Gate Ventures, and SeedPlus, a fund affiliated with Jungle Ventures.

Launched in May 2016, Homage was founded by Gillian Tee, a Singaporean who has spent time working in the U.S. where, among other things, she started Rocketrip, a startup backed by Y Combinator that has raised nearly $20 million. Tee said she decided to return home to Southeast Asia after 15 years overseas because she wanted to be closer to family and saw the potential for startups.

“More information [about the tech scene] was flowing into the U.S.. I was very curious and spent a year deciding whether I would come back,” she told TechCrunch in an interview. “It really is the right time because there is almost that tipping point about what it means to start tech companies. It’s a smaller ecosystem for sure, but the potential is enormous.”

Tee initially looked into opportunities in healthcare tech and job portals but, after finding both verticals fairly saturated in terms of options, she decided to combine the two and create Homage, which uses the asset light platform model to match supply with demand for care for seniors. Teaming up with healthcare industry exec Lily Phang and former banker Tong Duong, the service went live in Singapore last year.

The primary goal, Tee said, is to widen the pool of healthcare workers to match increasing demand. Homage actively recruits and vets caregivers, who must hold relevant qualifications to even be considered for the platform. Users can book different kinds of services, whether it be on-demand for an hour, or regular scheduled sessions through the Homage service. Homage itself assigns the right kind of caregiver based on the demand of seniors themselves, or their families.

 While the concept of the gig economy is seen as borderline exploitive to many due to slim margins and low pay, Homage aims to improve the conditions that many caregivers face when working with employment agencies to get jobs.

“Many healthcare workers are employed on fixed and rigid schedules first of all, then they get paid terribly,” Tee explained. “In the same way that Uber empowers and widens the number of drivers, we’re thinking we can do similar.’

Homage is initially sticking to Singapore, but the startup is keeping an eye on opportunities to venture overseas to different parts of Southeast Asia. That makes a lot of sense because Singapore, while westernized in many ways, has a limited pool of just over five million residents, while Southeast Asia as a whole houses more than 600 million consumers.

“We’re not in a rush,” Tee said. “We want to make sure the need is really met in Singapore. We’re thinking to expand to one country in the next two years.”

Netflix is replacing five-star ratings with thumbs up or down

Netflix announced today that it would ditch its standard five-star rating scheme in favor of a much more simple thumbs up or down option.

The streaming service said it had been testing thumbs up and down ratings “with hundreds of thousands of members” in 2016 – and it led to 200% more ratings being given.

This makes sense – giving a five-star rating takes some thought, especially for something like a movie or TV show.

A binary “yes or no” option is much easier for viewers to commit to, especially in a world where we’ve been trained to nonchalantly throw likes around on Instagram and Facebook. So this change should mean that Netflix viewers will rate more shows more often – resulting in more data for Netflix.

 Netflix also announced that some of this data will be used for a new percent-match feature – designed to indicate how good of a match a show or movie is for you. So if Netflix thinks you’ll really like a show you could see a 95% or even 100% match. It’s almost like a Rotten Tomatoes rating customized for your liking.

The company also shared some interesting stats surrounding ratings –  at one point more than 50% of all members had rated more than 50 different titles on Netflix, including over 10 billion total 5-star ratings.

The changes will roll out within the next month or so for users globally.

Your Interest and Skill should dictate your Choice of Engineering Major

It may sound unbelievable at first, but it is solid data that more than 1.5 million engineering aspirants sat for JEE Mains entrance examination in the year gone by, thereby making it one of the largest entrance examinations in the world. Joint entrance examinations (JEE) conducted by CBSE is the most prestigious competitive engineering exams in India taken by students seeking admission in venerated Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) engineering colleges.  In addition to JEE, there are several other national, state and private level competitive engineering tests whose successful clearance can help you fulfil your dream and aspirations of becoming an engineer.

Engineering course in gurgaon_1

All these competitive engineering entrance examinations tests a candidate’s aptitude, knowledge, attitude and skills that will help him/her successfully complete her course and become a good engineering professional.

Hundreds of thousands engineering students sit for these exams as well hoping to secure a seat in an engineering institute which can help them develop both personally and professionally.   The huge number of students who are interested in pursuing this highly popular professional under graduate course attests to the popularity and the prestige associated with this course.  The popularity of this course is likely to move northwards in coming years as the desire for technological innovation and excellence will fuel the demand for qualified and skilled engineers in the marketplace.

Engineering is a highly popular course but the sheer number of engineering colleges and the stream engineering offers sometimes tend to confuse students. You are most likely to have come across engineering aspirants with a lot of queries and questions written markedly over their face.  Questions like: Which are thebestprivate engineering colleges in Delhi NCRor for that matter anywhere else in India? Which are the best streams offered by these particular institutes?Which engineering major should I opt for?  What engineering institute will help me meet my career goals and objectives? Which institute will help me get the best placements, etc. .?,are the ones that trouble students the most.

The choice of engineering major should be dictated by your career goals and preferences. Under no circumstances should you let market buzz dictate your choice of streams. Just because you keep hearing about high demand for IT professionals in the marketplace, it does not mean you should opt for software engineering despite your lack of interest in it.  Even if you ask your mentors or engineering experts about different engineering streams and career prospects in it, you will most probably be told that all engineering streams are good and pursuing any engineering major from a good engineering school can propel your career in the right direction. In the end it should be your interest, preferences, aptitude and skills which should dictate your choice of engineering major.

Another factor to consider if you are interested in studying in top B. Tech colleges in Gurgaon or for that matter top quality colleges anywhere else is the reputation of the institute. You can take the help of internet or your peers, teachers or friends to find out more about an institute and the quality of its teaching and placement. All the information about different engineering schools can be easily found on the net.

Boost your career with Xamarin training

Technology has provided everyone with ample benefits and knowledge in different field. It has made the most hectic work of learning and grabbing information easier. When a grocery store can find your place, then why not your professional trainings? There are many certifications available in computer languages, android applications, web designing, games designing, data mining and various other courses. All these are the professional courses that help a person to succeed in his career field. Apart from opening the career gateway it also makes way for startups and entrepreneurs. In the list of educational training, there is popular Xamarin training that helps in developing mobile applications.

Image result for Boost your career with Xamarin training

No wonder mobile has provided freedom to everyindividual and internet has further widened its horizons of learning and staying connected with friends and relatives. As inevery business or service, apps are the most pick by the developers and users. The app industry is going to increase in coming years, thus laying red carpets for mobile developers. Xamarin certification in Boston will help you learn all the basics in app development. If you want to make career in this field then this is the right time to get enrolled for the training as the course is grabbing popularity due to its upcoming demand in near future.

The demand of Mobile app downloads is on escalators. More and more people are downloading several apps on their phone so that they enjoy easy accessibility and hassle free move. The app provides them with all kinds of help that they need in disguise. After Xamarin training you will be able to create apps for Android, iOS and Mac. The training is based on providing maximum exposure to the platform where the student will learn how to install, configure and control the services. The training will help him get acquainted with Xamarin studio. The teaching is imparted in such a way that you get to know all the basics of app development. The knowledge wills no wonder will boost your career.

During training session expert coaches will explain the program with practical exercises where projects and practical training will help you understand the course. Through workshops, concepts are made clear so that you can easily apply your learned concepts to your work front. It will explain you the importance of Xamarin in app development. When you start developing apps for android or iOS then you will take your career to the next level.

If you possess good knowledge about the NET programming concepts and understands C# then this training is for you only. Once your Xamarin training is complete you will be able to install and implement Xamarin studio. It will provide you with complete information on how to develop an app and how to publish it. Today major businesses are governed by app. To provide maximum facility to the customers, the app is developed. The app is good for both: developers and users.

Why to Go for PMI PBA

While you are searching for growth within the organization or as an entrepreneur, there are some of the things that you will have to do for that. In order to ensure your growth, you will have to accept better job responsibilities. Likewise, when you are looking to grow as an entrepreneur, you will have to add some soft skills in you, so that you can increase your demand in the market. One such option is to add the ability of PMI PBA. To go for that it is essential to go through the Pmi Pba Training. Before going for the course directly, find the value that will be added to you, after you find the training.

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Increase opportunities

Organization pays more to that person, who can be hired easily by other companies. The only thing that the company cares here is your soft skill. This is something that cannot be duplicated and that is why people or employees with better soft skills are preferred by the company. In fact, soft skill is something that catches attention of anyone and companies are ready to hire anyone with such skills at high package. PMI PBA will add that soft skill to you, for which your career opportunities will maximize.

Increase earning

When you have gone through the course, company will naturally pay you more and entrust you with better responsibilities. Unless they do that, they also know that you will be looking for other jobs with better package. Thus your value is naturally increased within the company. Take care of the course and improvise your value at the company for earning more.

Professional Growth

Increase of earning is essential and increasing value of your employment to the company is also necessary, but alongside it is more important to include some of the important qualities within you. This is a competitive market and moreover, economy of the world is totally imbalanced. So, you can remain never sure about your employment and high package. While the company decides to cut short its expenses and turn back in the market, the first areas where they put their hand is the highly paid employees. So, you must be equipped enough so that you can run your own show at any point of time. The Pmi Pba Training In Paris will place you at that commanding position.

Professional recognition

It is important to be recognized as a personnel not only in your company, but in the entire market. That person or individual is marked and recognized who is unique and who is having some extra skills to turn things upside down. While you go through this course, that additional quality will naturally be added to you. There are very few professionals in this stream. Hence recognition around the market is not a tough job here. Once you have that recognition, better job offers, high package jobs and even chance to be an entrepreneur will be queuing at your gate.

Thus, this is the ideal time to go for the course and turn yourself ready and suitable for the coming market scenario. It is always important to stay one step ahead than others. This course will give you that opportunity.

Is Your Catalyst Handler Right for You?

It can be difficult to find a good catalyst handler, especially if your options are limited in your city or industry. The good news is that “difficult” doesn’t have to equal “impossible.” Whether you’re seeking, reviewing or just evaluating catalyst handlers in your area, here are a few things to keep in mind before making a final decision.

Image result for catalyst unloading system

What services do you need?

Maybe you’re preparing your reactor for hydrocracking or hydrotreating. Maybe you’re thinking about ammonia synthesis converters or physical vapor deposition. Different catalyst handling companies will have different strengths, skills and capabilities, so make sure that you’re hiring people with the right backgrounds for the specific tasks that you need performed. If you’ve ever in doubt about what a company can do, contact them directly and ask. Don’t make guesses or assumptions.

Is the company legitimate?

Have they been certified by any professional organizations? Do they come with high scores and status rankings on third-party review websites? Can you link them with any other groups, clubs, blogs or magazines within your industry? Never trust a company until you’ve vetted them first, especially since you’ll be giving them access to high-value materials and equipment. You’ll want full confidence in their brand before you extend them that kind of trust.

Do they have good reviews?

Speaking of trust, it might be worth the effort of plugging your intended company into a search engine and seeing what kind of reviews pop up. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for vacuum technology or a customized catalyst unloading system; someone out there has had a similar need, and if they’ve used that particular company to address it, you’ll want to figure out how their transaction went.

Can you afford them?

Last but certainly not least, think about the fee of your chosen catalyst handling company. While every brand will have a different method of charging you, it’s important to know these details before you make plans for reactor cleaning or product hauling. Sit down with one of the company’s financial representatives and talk about the numbers.

These are just a few things to keep in mind about catalyst handlers. As you can see, a hiring decision shouldn’t be made lightly, so don’t be afraid to take your time and consider all possibilities. You don’t want to regret your decision in the middle of transporting or cleaning!