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    Lookiero closes $19M led by MMC Ventures to be the Stitch Fix for Europe / TechCrunch – 2 days ago - 14:28

Lookiero , the online personal shopping service for clothes and accessories, has closed a $19 million funding round led by London-based VC MMC Ventures with support from existing investor All Iron Ventures, and new investors Bonsai Partners, 10x and Santander Smart. The company will use the backing to expand in its main markets of Spain, France and the UK. In June last year it closed a funding round of €4 million led by All Iron Ventures.

The startup applies algorithms to a database of personal stylists and customer profiles to thus provide a personalized online shopping experience to its customers. It then delivers a selection of five pieces of clothing or accessories curated by a personal shopper to fit the customer’s individual size, style, and preferences. Customers then decide which items to keep or return (at no additional cost), allowing Lookiero to learn more about the customer’s tase before starting the whole process again.

By generating look-a-like profiles and analyzing previous customer interactions with each item, Lookiero says it can predict how likely a user is going to keep a certain item from a range of more than 150 European brands from a warehousing system that will ship more than 3 million items of clothing this year to seven European countries.

It’s not unlike the well—worn Birchbox model. Lookiero’s main competitor is Stitch Fix (US), which has upwards of $1.5bn in annual revenues and IPO’d November 2017.

Founded in 2015 by Spanish entrepreneur Oier Urrutia , the company says it now has over 1 million registered users and has grown revenue by over 200% from 2017 to 2018.

In a statement Urrutia said: “This investment round provides us with the necessary capital to further increase the accuracy of our technology, which is really exciting. It will allow us to offer the best possible experience for our users and to continue expanding across Europe.”

Simon Menashy, Partner, MMC Ventures, said: “The migration of fashion brands online has improved consumers’ access to clothing, and there is now an almost overwhelming amount of choice. At the same time, it can still be really hard to find exactly what is right for you, especially with high street retail stores in decline. Lookiero provides the best of both worlds, giving every customer a hand-picked selection from their personal stylist.”

Ander Michelena, co-founding partner of All Iron Ventures, said: “Even if what Oier and his team have achieved to date is remarkable, we believe that Lookiero still has great potential to continue expanding internationally and to become a player of reference in a market segment where there is still a lot to do in terms of innovation and user satisfaction”.

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    Private search engine Qwant’s new CEO is Mozilla Europe veteran Tristan Nitot / TechCrunch – 3 days ago - 06:00

French startup Qwant , whose non-tracking search engine has been gaining traction in its home market as a privacy-respecting alternative to Google, has made a change to its senior leadership team as it gears up for the next phase of growth.

Former Mozilla Europe president, Tristan Nitot, who joined Qwant last year as VP of advocacy, has been promoted to chief executive, taking over from François Messager — who also joined in 2018 but is now leaving the business. Qwant co-founder, Eric Leandri, meanwhile, continues in the same role as president.

Nitot, an Internet veteran who worked at Netscape and helped to found Mozilla Europe in 1998, where he later served as president and stayed until 2015 before leaving to write a book on surveillance, brings a wealth of experience in product and comms roles, as well as open source.

Most recently he spent several years working for personal cloud startup, Cozy Cloud .

“I’m basically here to help [Leandri] grow the company and structure the company,” Nitot tells TechCrunch, describing Qwant’s founder as an “amazing entrepreneur, audacious and visionary”.

Market headwinds have been improving for the privacy-focused Google rival in recent years as concern about foreign data-mining tech giants has stepped up in Europe.

Last year the French government announced it would be switching its search default from Google to Qwant. Buying homegrown digital tech now apparently seen as a savvy product choice as well as good politics.

Meanwhile antitrust attention on dominant search giant Google, both at home and abroad , has led to policy shifts that directly benefit search rivals — such as an update of the default lists baked into its chromium engine which was quietly put out earlier this year .

That behind the scenes change saw Qwant added as an option for users in the French market for the first time. (On hearing the news a sardonic Leandri thanked Google — but suggested Qwant users choose Firefox or the Brave browser for a less creepy web browsing experience.)

“A lot of companies and institutions have decided and have realized basically that they’ve been using a search engine which is not European. Which collects data. Massively. And that makes them uncomfortable,” says Nitot. “They haven’t made a conscious decision about that. Because they bring in a computer which has a browser which has a search engine in it set by default — and in the end you just don’t get to choose which search engine your people use, right.

“And so they’re making a conscious decision to switch to Qwant. And we’ve been spending a lot of time and energy on that — and it’s paying off big time.”

As well as the French administration’s circa 3M desktops being switched by default to Qwant (which it expects will be done this quarter), the pro-privacy search engine has been getting traction from other government departments and regional government, as well as large banks and schools, according to Nitot.

He credits a focus on search products for schoolkids with generating momentum, such as Qwant Junior, which is designed for kids aged 6-12, and excludes sex and violence from search results as well as being ad free. (It’s set to get an update in the next few weeks.) It has also just been supplemented by Qwant School: A school search product aimed at 13-17 year olds.

“All of that creates more users — the kids talk to their parents about Qwant Junior, and the parents install for them. So there’s a lot of momentum creating that growth,” Nitot suggests.

Qwant says it handled more than 18 billion search requests in 2018.

A growing business needs money to fuel it of course. So fundraising efforts involving convertible bonds is one area Nitot says he’ll be focused on in the new role. “We are raising money,” he confirms.

Increasing efficiency — especially on the engineering front — is another key focus for the new CEO.

“The rest will be a focus on the organization, per se, how we structure the organization. How we evolve the company culture. To enable or to improve delivery of the engineering team, for example,” he says. “It’s not that it’s bad it’s just that we need to make sure every dollar or every euro we invest gives as much as possible in return.”

Product wise, Nitot’s attention in the near term will be directed towards shipping a new version of Qwant’s search engine that will involve reengineering core tech to improve the quality of results.

“What we want to do [with v2] is to improve the quality of the results,” he says of the core search product. “You won’t be able to notice any difference, in terms of quality, with the other really good search engines that you may use — except that you know that your privacy is respected by Qwant.

“[As we raise more funding] we will be able to have a lot more infrastructure to run better and more powerful algorithms. And so we plan to improve that internationally… Every language will benefit from the new search engine. It’s also a matter of money and infrastructure to make this work on a web scale. Because the web is huge and it’s growing.

“The new version includes NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology… for understanding language, for understanding intentions — for example do you want to buy something or are you looking for a reference… or a place or a thing. That’s the kind of thing we’re putting in place but it’s going to improve a lot for every language involved.”

Western Europe will be the focus for v2 of the search engine, starting with French, German, Italian, Spanish and English — with a plan to “go beyond that later on”.

Nitot also says there will also be staggered rollouts (starting with France), with Qwant planning to run old and new versions in parallel to quality check the new version before finally switching users over.

“Shipping is hard as we used to say at Mozilla,” he remarks, refusing to be fixed to a launch date for v2 (beyond saying it’ll arrive in “less than a year”). “It’s a universal rule; shipping a new product is hard, and that’s what we want to do with version 2… I’ve been writing software since 1980 and so I know how predictions are when it comes to software release dates. So I’m very careful not to make promises.”

Developing more of its own advertising technologies is another focus for Qwant. On this front the aim is to improve margins by leaning less on partners like Microsoft .

“We’ve been working with partners until now, especially on the search engine result pages,” says Nitot. “We put Microsoft advertising on it. And our goal is to ramp up advertising technologies so that we rely on our own technologies — something that we control. And that hopefully will bring a better return.”

Like Google, Qwant monetizes searches by serving ads alongside results. But unlike Google these are contextual ads, meaning they are based on general location plus the substance of the search itself; rather than targeted ads which entail persistent tracking and profiling of Internet users in order to inform the choice of ad (hence feeling like ads are stalking you around the Internet).

Serving contextual ads is a choice that lets Qwant offer a credible privacy pledge that Mountain View simply can’t match.

Yet up until 2006 Google also served contextual ads, as Nitot points out, before its slide into privacy-hostile microtargeting. “It’s a good old idea,” he argues of contextual ads. “We’re using it. We think it really is a valuable idea.”

Qwant is also working on privacy-sensitive ad tech. One area of current work there is personalization. It’s developing a client-side, browser-based encrypted data store, called Masq, that’s intended to store and retrieve application data through a WebSocket connection. (Here’s the project Masq Github page .)

“Because we do not know the person that’s using the product it’s hard to make personalization of course. So we plan to do personalization of the product on the client side,” he explains. “Which means the server side will have no more details than we currently do, but on the client side we are producing something which is open source, which stores data locally on your device — whether that’s a laptop or smartphone — in the browser, it is encrypted so that nobody can reuse it unless you decide that you want that to happen.

“And it’s open source so that it’s transparent and can be audited and so that people can trust the technology because it runs on their own device, it stores on their device.”

“Right now it’s at alpha stage,” Nitot adds of Masq, declining to specify when exactly it might be ready for a wider launch.

The new CEO’s ultimate goal for Qwant is to become the search engine for Europe — a hugely ambitious target that remains far out of reach for now, with Google still commanding in excess of 90% regional marketshare. (A dominance that has got its business embroiled in antitrust hot water in Europe.)

Yet the Internet of today is not the same as the Internet of yesterday when Netscape was a browsing staple — until Internet Explorer knocked it off its perch after Microsoft bundled its rival upstart as the default browser on Windows. And the rest, as they say, is Internet history.

Much has changed and much is changing. But abuses of market power are an old story. And as regulators act against today’s self-interested defaults there are savvy alternatives like Qwant primed and waiting to offer consumers a different kind of value.

“Qwant is created in Europe for the European citizens with European values,” says Nitot. “Privacy being one of these values that are central to our mission. It is not random that the CNIL — the French data protection authority — was created in France in 1978. It was the first time that something like that was created. And then GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] was created in Europe. It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a matter of values and the way people see their life and things around them, politics and all that. We have a very deep concern about privacy in France. It’s written in the European declaration of human rights.

“We build a product that reflects those values — so it’s appealing to European users.”

  • Jo chevron_right

    Plus de 2.6 millions d’images médicales en accès libre (ou presque) sur Internet en France / JournalDuGeek – 4 days ago - 15:20

Crédits Jarmoluk via Pixabay CC

Après Facebook, Instagram ou encore Amazon, c’est au tour d’une nouvelle fuite de données massive et tout aussi inquiétante d’être pointée du doigt. Une récente étude de vulnérabilité repérée par 01net a en effet détecté, il y a peu, plus de 500 serveurs médicaux accessibles sans aucune protection, et donnant accès à des centaines de millions d’images médicales. Qu’il s’agisse de radiographies, d’échographies ou encore d’IRM, ce type de documents est évidemment confidentiel et soumis au secret médical. Il semblerait pourtant que ces derniers soient excessivement mal (voir pas du tout) protégés, du moins sur certains serveurs. En tout, révèle l’analyse de Greenbone Networks , plus de 389 millions de clichés seraient concernés dans le monde , accessibles depuis près de 24 millions de dossiers parents. Des contenus d’autant plus sensibles, qu’ils s’accompagnent généralement de nombreuses informations personnelles, comme l’identité complète et les coordonnées du patient, ainsi que le nom de la clinique ou de l’hôpital, la date de soin, ou encore le nom du médecin ayant effectué l’examen.

Un problème d’ampleur mondiale révèle l’étude, qui touche particulièrement les États-Unis, l’Inde et la Turquie, avec respectivement 187, 96 et 36 serveurs non sécurisés. De son côté, la France est loin de faire office d’exemple, avec 7 serveurs pointés du doigt, et plus de 2,6 millions d’images accessibles (quasiment) librement sur Internet. Si le bilan de l’étude fait froid dans le dos, il reste à espérer que la situation pousse les acteurs de santé concernés à rapidement revoir à la hausse le système de chiffrement de leurs protocoles de sécurité.

  • Te chevron_right

    Macron announces €5 billion late-stage investment pledge from institutional investors / TechCrunch – 5 days ago - 18:52

French president Emmanuel Macron announced in a speech ahead of France Digitale Day that the French government has convinced institutional investors to invest more heavily in late-stage VC funds and asset managers in one way or another. Institutional investors have committed to investing $5.5 billion (€5 billion).

“We’ll have €2 billion that will go in so-called late-stage funds and €3 billion for funds managed by asset managers specialized in tech,” Macron said.

In addition to that financial pledge, the French government wants to break down any hurdle that prevents French startups from raising $100 million+ funding round in France, becoming a unicorn and eventually going public.

A couple of years ago, Macron gave a speech at Viva Technology in Paris. It was the first time he addressed the startup community after his election. At the time, I wrote : “Macron wanted to send a message to the startup community — he still cares about technology very much, thank you for asking.”

Since then, the French tech ecosystem has thrived, but without any radical policy change to shake things up. But today marks a departure as it’s all about startups, startups and startups.

“I’m talking about the jobs of tomorrow” Emmanuel Macron

It’s clear that Macron believes that startups represent a huge opportunity when it comes to job creation, competitiveness and reshaping the economic landscape in France. In other words, according to him, if you help startups thrive, it’s going to trickle down all the way and have positive impacts on your neighbor who has never used a computer in her life.

Some will applaud such a move, others will say that it divides society.

“When I talk about startup funding, I talk about the ability to help those startups succeed,” Macron said. “I’m talking about the jobs of tomorrow. And I’m saying that for many French citizens who think that those are only financial numbers.”

Financing hypergrowth

So here’s Macron’s plan. First, French VC funds have been good when it comes to funding startups at the seed, Series A and sometimes Series B level. But many startups then look for international investors for late-stage rounds. For instance, just last week, Akeneo raised $46 million in a round led by Summit Partners , a Boston-based VC firm.

“Numbers show that we’re getting there, and I want to start from there,” Macron said. “The goal when it comes to technology is that we should be one of the countries that matter. Fundraising from French startups keep setting new records — we had $3.1 billion in fundraising in 2017, $4 billion in 2018 and $5.5 billion in 2019 probably.”

Following a report from Philippe Tibi , the French government has been working on a way to foster late-stage funds and investments in public tech companies in France. “We managed to rally big insurance companies, asset managers and long-term public investment funds,” a source close to Macron told me.

Private companies, such as Axa, Generali and Allianz, as well as public investors, such as EDF, Caisse des Dépôts, the pension reserve fund, are all going to invest in late-stage VC. Overall, two-thirds of them are private companies, one-third of them are public institutions, according to the source.

They’ll have three ways to invest and take part in the initiative:

  • If they have their own VC fund, they can create a new late-stage fund.
  • If they are limited partners in various VC funds, they can invest in late-stage funds managed by third-party teams.
  • If they don’t know anything about venture capital, they can invest in a special fund of funds managed by Bpifrance. Bpifrance will then select various late-stage funds and invest that money in those funds.

Eventually, the French government hopes that there will be at least 10 French VC firms with a late-stage fund above €1 billion. By pushing them to redirect some of their investments in VC, the French government thinks that they’ll invest more regularly in venture capital in the future.

When it comes to going public, the French government wants to make European stock exchanges more attractive. They're hoping the new influx of late-stage cash will convince banks and other financial institutions that manage huge positions in tech companies to create local teams in Paris.

Attracting foreign VCs too

French startups still want to become global players and the French government is well aware of that. And foreign VCs shouldn’t be at odds with French VC firms.

That’s why the French government also invited around 40 partners of venture capital firms and limited partners for a couple of days in Paris this week. They’ll meet key people in the ecosystem as well as promising startups.

I covered the first edition of this tour last year . The message was clear: Foreign VC firms should think about investing in French startups. Some are already doing it while others never thought about it. And the thing is nobody wants to be the first one to invest in something new, but nobody wants to be the last one, either.

This year, the French government is inviting a new batch of foreign investors from Khosla Ventures, Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, etc. There are more Asian investors in the mix this time round.

But Macron said that France should control its own destiny when it comes to startup funding. “When I talk about sovereignty, I deeply believe in that concept. It’s a politically-charged word, but I think it’s at the heart of your approach. I believe in technological and economical sovereignty,” Macron said.

DSC 2041

Photo Credit: Aliocha Boi

Transforming La French Tech

The French Tech Mission, also known as La French Tech , is a government-backed initiative that promotes French startups around the world and provides a few services to help startups.

And the government is going to overhaul the French Tech Mission drastically. This is as significant as the late-stage funding news. In addition to the small core team, every French ministry and administration will have a French Tech correspondent — Urssaf, INPI, AFNOR, Banque de France, customs, etc. Eventually, there will be 150 people spread out across the entire government working in some way or another for French startups.

“We’re not alone, we get to coordinate with everyone,” French Tech Mission director Kat Borlongan told me. “The overarching announcement is that France is going all in.”

La French Tech is going to become a one-stop shop for tech startups to overcome any administrative hurdle. La French Tech is going to pick 40 (and later 120) top-performing startups and give them the label Next40 and French Tech 120 — a play on words with the CAC40 and SBF 120 stock indexes. Those companies will automatically be able to access this fast-track administrative system — every startup will get a representative for their particular needs. This special treatment proves that startups have become a center piece of France’s economic policies.

“The coolest thing is that they can ask us for anything: ‘I’m about to do bizdev in China’, ‘I’m launching a rocket and I need to test it on a space facility’ or ‘I’m hiring 50 people and I need them and all their families here’,” Borlongan told me.

All companies that are unicorns or have raised more than €100 million are automatically in the Next40. Then, the government is looking at growth rate and annual turnover to find the most promising 40 and 120 startups.

“I’ll leave you with a goal: there should be 25 [French] unicorns by 2025,” Macron said at the end of his speech.

  • Nu chevron_right

    Une app utilisée par Macron pour suivre les réformes doit-elle vraiment nous faire trembler ? / Numerama – 6 days ago - 10:28


Suivre l'avancement des réformes et autres projets gouvernementaux sur un tableau simple et efficace semble évident. Pourtant, cette « app secrète » de « surveillance » ferait « trembler les ministres ». Sensationnalisme ? [Lire la suite]

Voitures, vélos, scooters... : la mobilité de demain se lit sur Vroom !

  • Jo chevron_right

    Edward Snowden souhaite qu’Emmanuel Macron lui accorde l’asile en France / JournalDuGeek – 6 days ago - 09:50

En 2013, Edward Snowden révélait au grand public un système obscur de surveillance de masse orchestré par les services secrets américains. Le lanceur d’alerte et ancien espion a par la suite dû aller se réfugier en Russie, seul pays à lui avoir accordé le droit d’asile il y a six ans, après que les États-Unis l’ont inculpé pour espionnage et vols de secrets d’État. Pourtant, le plus célèbre des lanceurs d’alertes au monde avait bien essayé de venir en France, mais le droit d’asile lui avait été refusé à l’époque, lors du mandat de François Hollande, a-t-il révélé durant une interview sur France Inter relayée par Le Monde aujourd’hui. Pour autant, Edward Snowden ne compte pas passer sa vie en Russie, et a indiqué vouloir réitérer sa demande d’asile en France. Sur France Inter , le lanceur d’alerte s’est montré optimiste vis-à-vis du nouveau chef de l’État français et a indiqué qu’ il « aimerait beaucoup » qu’Emmanuel Macron lui accorde le droit d’asile en France.

« Accueillir quelqu’un comme moi, ce n’est pas attaquer les États-Unis »

« On ne veut pas que la France devienne comme ces pays que vous n’aimez pas. Le plus triste dans toute cette histoire, c’est que le seul endroit où un lanceur d’alerte américain a la possibilité de parler, ce n’est pas en Europe, mais c’est ici [la Russie] » , a précisé Snowden au micro de France Inter . Mais forcément, la volonté de ne pas accueillir Snowden en France n’est pas tant due au personnage et ce qu’il représente qu’à la volonté de ne pas dégrader les relations diplomatiques entre la France et les États-Unis. Un argument dont se dédouane l’ancien espion américain, qui a par la suite indiqué : « accueillir quelqu’un comme moi, ce n’est pas attaquer les États-Unis. »

Qu’adviendra-t-il de Snowden ? En France, tout n’est pas perdu, alors que le ministre de la justice déclarait dimanche dans l’émission « Grand Jury » de RTL-Le Figaro-LCI qu’il était pour accueillir le lanceur d’alerte en France. Peu après, l’Élysée s’est émancipé de la parole du ministre en indiquant qu’il s’agissait d’une prise de position personnelle et non pas d’une décision du gouvernement. Pour autant, ce lundi sur France Inter , l’eurodéputée LREM Nathalie Loiseau s’est également montrée extrêmement favorable à la venue d’Edward Snowden en France.

  • Jo chevron_right

    Emmanuel Macron suit le travail de ses ministres via… une application dédiée ! / JournalDuGeek – 6 days ago - 08:02

Selon une information exclusive d’ Europe 1 , le chef de l’État aurait accès à une application secrète sur son smartphone qui lui permettrait de garder un oeil sur l’avancement des réformes. Mise au point par le délégué à la transformation publique Thomas Cazenave et le secrétaire général de l’Élysée Alexis Kohler, cette application « secrète » ne serait pas si secrète que cela, puisqu’elle serait la bête noire des ministres qui mettraient trop de temps à faire passer une réforme, auquel cas le chef de l’État ne manquerait pas de leur faire remarquer : l’illustration du management 2.0 de la « start-up Macron » selon les mots employés par Europe 1 .

Des curseurs rouges ou verts pour manager le gouvernement

Europe 1 a pu consulter cette application qui n’est normalement disponible que pour Emmanuel Macron et une poignée de « proches collaborateurs ». L’app se veut relativement simple : on y retrouve une page par ministère, avec un curseur indiquant la progression pour chaque projet de loi. Et c’est là tout l’intérêt de celle-ci, puisque cette barre se teinterait de vert si la réforme avance rapidement, et de rouge si elle traîne à être mise en place . L’application permettrait ainsi au chef de l’État de surveiller ses ministres et de pousser les retardataires à accélérer la cadence. Selon Europe 1 , lors du séminaire gouvernemental, Emmanuel Macron aurait mentionné cette application et indiqué à ses ministres qu’il « voyait trop de rouge ».

Pour l’heure, cette application est réservée au chef de l’État et quelques proches. Les créateurs de celle-ci, Thomas Cazenave et Alexis Kohler, auraient proposé de la rendre disponible pour chaque citoyen français, mais Emmanuel Macron aurait refusé afin de ne pas « tétaniser son gouvernement » , indique Europe 1 .

  • chevron_right

    Rebellyons-nous, occupation du pont Wilson à #Lyon

    Timothée Jaussoin – 6 days ago - 07:46 edit

Le dimanche 15 septembre 2019, sous un soleil de plomb nous avons bloqué avec succès le pont Wilson en plein centre de #Lyon.

Cet évènement coup de poing, non-violent et festif nous a permis de dénoncer la gravité de la situation face aux chamboulements écologiques et climatiques que nous vivons présentement et à venir très prochainement.

Cet évènement a été relayé dans la presse par Rue89 et a fait l'ouverture du journal du soir France3 Rhône-Alpes.

De nombreuses actions de désobéissance civiles non-violentes sont à prévoir prochainement. Plus d'informations sur le site officiel de XR France et sur le site international.

#ecology #climate #france #extinctionrebellion #xr #action #movement #bridge #pont

  • Extinction Rebellion

    Nous faisons face à une urgence mondiale sans précédent. Les gouvernements ont échoué à nous protéger malgré les solutions connues et préconisées. Il est don...

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    Christine Ho , debacle