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    Startups Weekly: Understanding Uber’s latest fintech play

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Saturday, 2 November - 12:00

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about how SoftBank is screwing up . Before that, I noted All Raise’s expansion, Uber the TV show and the unicorn from down under.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets . If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here .


Uber Head of Payments Peter Hazlehurst addresses the audience during an Uber products launch event in San Francisco, California, on September 26, 2019. (Photo by Philip Pacheco / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images)

The sheer number of startup players moving into banking services is staggering,” writes my Crunchbase News friends in a piece titled “ Why Is Every Startup A Bank These Days .”

I’ve been asking myself the same question this year, as financial services business like Brex, Chime, Robinhood, Wealthfront, Betterment and more raise big rounds to build upstart digital banks. North of $13 billion venture capital dollars have been invested in U.S. fintech companies so far in 2019, up from $12 billion invested in 2018.

This week, one of the largest companies to ever emerge from the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem, Uber, introduced its team focused on developing new financial products and technologies . In a vacuum, a multibillion-dollar public company with more than 22,000 employees launching one new team is not big news. Considering investment and innovation in fintech this year, Uber’s now well-documented struggles to reach profitability and the company’s hiring efforts in New York, a hotbed for financial aficionados, the “Uber Money” team could indicate much larger fintech ambitions for the ride-hailing giant.

As it stands, the Uber Money team will be focused on developing real-time earnings for drivers accessed through the Uber debit account and debit card, which will itself see new features, like 3% or more cash back on gas. Uber Wallet, a digital wallet where drivers can more easily track their earnings, will launch in the coming weeks too, writes Peter Hazlehurst , the head of Uber Money.

This is hardly Uber’s first major foray into financial services. The company’s greatest feature has always been its frictionless payments capabilities that encourage riders and eaters to make purchases without thinking. Uber’s even launched its own consumer credit card to get riders cash back on rides. It’s no secret the company has larger goals in the fintech sphere, and with 100 million “monthly active platform consumers” via Uber, Uber Eats and more, a dedicated path toward new and better financial products may not only lead to happier, more loyal drivers but a company that’s actually, one day, able to post a profit.


VC deals


Meet me in Berlin

The TechCrunch team is heading to Berlin again this year for our annual event, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, which brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe. We announced the agenda this week, with leading founders including Away’s Jen Rubio and UiPath’s Daniel Dines. Take a look at the full agenda .

I will be there to interview a bunch of venture capitalists, who will give tips on how to raise your first euros . Buy tickets to the event here .


Listen to Equity

This week on Equity, I was in studio while Alex was remote. We talked about a number of companies and deals, including a new startup taking on Slack, Wag’s woes and a small upstart disrupting the $8 billion nail services industry. Listen to the episode here .

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on iTunes , Overcast and all the casts.

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    Tourlane cofounder Julian Stiefel to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin this December

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Friday, 4 October - 08:10

Back in May , Tourlane raised $47 million in its ongoing mission to address the complex problems that still exist today around booking group travel. Tourlane has become a major player in this sector.

We’re excited to announce that co-founder/co-CEO Julian Stiefel will be speaking at Disrupt Berlin in December !

Tourlane works directly with service providers and offers customers flights, accommodations, tours, activities and transfer options in one place, thus saving time when coordinating multiple bookings from different vendors or working with offline travel agents. The platform provides real-time pricing, availability, instant trip visualization and drag-and-drop adjustments to make multi-day trip planning easier.

Prior to Tourlane, Stiefel took on a key role in Airbnb’s marketing team after the company acquired his travel startup back in 2011.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.

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    Jobpal pockets $2.7M for its enterprise recruitment chatbot

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Tuesday, 1 October - 06:00

Berlin-based recruitment chatbot startup Jobpal has closed a €2.5 million (~$2.7M) seed round of funding from InReach Ventures and Acadian Ventures .

The company, which was founded back in 2016, has built a cross-platform chatbot to automate candidate support and increase efficiency around hiring by applying machine learning and natural language processing for what it dubs “talent interaction”.

The target customers are large enterprises with Jobpal offering the product as a managed service.

For these employers the pitch is increased efficiency by being able to rapidly respond to and engage potential job applicants whenever they’re reaching out for more info via an always-on channel (i.e. the chatbot) which is primed to respond to common questions.

Candidates can also apply for vacancies via the Jobpal chatbot by answering a series of questions in the familiar messaging thread format. Jobpal says its chatbot can also be used to screen applicants’ CVs and recommend the most promising candidates.

It takes care of the logistical legwork of scheduling interview appointments — leaving HR departments with more time to spend on more meaningful portions of the recruitment process.

Co-founder and CEO Luc Dudler tells TechCrunch it has more than 30 enterprise clients at this stage, generating “thousands of conversations” per day. Customers he name checks include the likes of Airbus, Deutsche Telekom and McDonald’s.

The software works on popular messaging platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and SMS, and is available in 15+ languages — though Jobpal confirms the German market remains its largest so far.

“The sheer volume of interest and number of questions enterprises receive from prospective talent is often difficult to deal with, which results in a suboptimal experience and frustrated candidates. Conversational interfaces and Natural Language Processing enable us to deliver a candidate-centric experience and increase the efficiency of the recruiting function,” says Dudler, arguing that the recruitment landscape has become “candidate first” — putting the onus on enterprises to get the “candidate experience” right.

“This technology allows employers to engage with candidates when they want and on the platforms they use, such as WhatsApp. This gives control to the candidates, meaning they can get answers in a matter of seconds, instead of days or weeks. For Internal HR teams, they can spend time more time finding the best talent, as jobpal automates tedious and time-consuming tasks, allowing recruitment teams to focus on more value-add tasks.”

“We focus mainly on communication and engagement, and our customers only do in-house recruitment. We don’t work with agencies,” he adds.

Jobpal points to increased engagement from use of its chatbot — claiming companies are seeing more queries from jobseekers than they used to receive emails, as well as arguing the “low-friction” approach is accessible and convenient and leads to increased conversion rates.

With any automated process there could be a risk of biased and unequitable outcomes — depending on the criteria the chatbot is using to sift candidates. Although Jobpal says it’s not using algorithms to take recruitment decisions, so the biggest bias risk looks to be in the hands of the employers setting the criteria.

Misinterpretation of candidates’ queries based on the technology failing to understand what’s being asked could potentially lead to responses that disproportionately disadvantage certain applicants. Though Jobpal says queries that are too complex are routed to a human to deal with.

“We get a lot of queries about the application process/deadline/evaluation, qualifications needed, supporting documents, working hours, growth options and salary that Jobpal is designed to deal with,” says Dudler, of Jobpal candidate users. “Our chatbots don’t answer questions that are too personal, too obscure or anything non-recruitment related such as customer service queries.”

“Jobpal stores the query data but it’s de-associated from the candidate data. This data is used to train AI models which supports general communication as well as company-specific chatbots. We don’t mine or sell candidate profiles, and we don’t do algorithmic decision making in the recruitment process,” he adds.

The software integrates with a number of enterprise Human Capital Management suites at this point, including SAP SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle (formerly Taleo), Avature and Smartrecruiters.

The seed round follows what Dudler couches as “a huge increase in demand” — with the team spying an opportunity for further growth.

“We’ll be investing in product development and tripling our headcount in the next 12 months. Specifically, we are looking to recruit a VP of marketing,” he tells us.

Chatbots still strike many consumers as robotic — and even irritating — but the technology has nonetheless been flourishing in the customer support and recruitment space for several years now. Business areas where there’s no shortage of repetitive tasks for automating. And where being able to offer some level of service 24/7 is a major plus.

On the hiring front, the power imbalance between employer and job applicant might even make interfacing with a bot more appealing for a candidate than the pressure of talking to an actual human who already works at the target employer.

For certain types of jobs employee churn can also be incredibly high — making hiring essentially a neverending task. Again, chatbots are a natural fit in such a scenario; being scalable, they take the strain out of repeat and formulaic conversations — with the promise of a smooth pipeline of candidate conversions.

Given all that there’s now no shortage of recruitment chatbots touting automated support for HR departments. At the same time there’s unlikely to ever be a one-size fits all approach to the hiring problem. It’s a multifaceted, multi-dimensional challenge on account of the spectrum of work that exists and jobs to be filled, and indeed the human variety of jobseekers.

This is why there are so many different ‘flavors’ and ‘styles’ of chatbots offering to assist, some with algorithmic matching, and/or targeting different types of employers and/or jobs/industry (or indeed jobseekers; passive vs active) — others just super basic tools (such as the Jobo bot which alerts jobseekers to vacancies matching criteria they’ve specified).

Some more sophisticated chatbot examples include MeetFrank (passive job matching); Mya (for recruiting agencies and massive enterprises, including for shift filling); Vahan (low skilled, blue-collar job-matching for high attrition delivery jobs); and AllyO (conversational AI for “end-to-end HR management”).

While a few recruitment chatbots that are closer to what Jobpal is offering include the likes of Ideal , Brazen and Xor , to name three.

With so much chatbot competition pledging to ‘streamline recruitment’ by applying automation to the hiring task, employers might be forgiven for thinking they have a fresh choice headache on their hands.

But for startups applying AI technology to ‘fix recruitment’ by making talk cheap (and structured), the patchwork of players and approaches still in play suggests there’s ongoing opportunity to grab a slice of a truly massive market.

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    European early-stage VC firm ‘Project A’ on Europe’s startup scene taking the next step

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Monday, 30 September - 19:48

Project A , the Berlin-based VC, just raised a new $200 million fund (€180 million) to continue backing European startups at Seed and Series A stage.

In addition, the firm — whose investments include WorldRemit, Catawiki, Voi and Uberall — announced it will now have a presence in London and Stockholm in order to put people on the ground in what it says are “two of its favorite ecosystems.”

What better time, therefore, to catch up with the team at Project A, where we talked investment thesis, why Stockholm and London, and the increasing interest in Europe from U.S. LPs and VCs. Other subjects we touched on include diversity in venture, and, of course, Brexit!

TechCrunch: You last raised a fund in 2016, totaling €140 million, what changes have you noticed since then with regards to the types of companies you are seeing and the European ecosystem as a whole?

Uwe Horstmann: Entrepreneurs definitely matured a lot over the last few years. We see more and more of serial founders who combine drive with experience delivering great results. We also noticed an increase in more tech / product-centric and in B2B models.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as the market for consumer-oriented models started developing much earlier and is now reaching its limits after a few years. Many entrepreneurs gained experience in the Old Economy or have been consulting companies for a few years, learned about the struggle with products and processes first-hand and developed solutions specifically tailored to the industry’s needs.

We also notice a rise in professionalism in company setups and a higher ambition level in founding teams. This is probably also due to a more professional angel and micro fund scene that has developed in Europe.

TC: I note that you have U.S. LPs in the new fund, which I think is a first for Project A, and more broadly we are seeing a lot more interest from U.S. VCs in Europe these days. Why do you think that is, and how does this change the competitive landscape for deal-flow and the ambition of European founders?

Thies Sander: Having our first U.S. LPs on board makes us proud. LPs have noticed that European VC returns have really picked up during recent fund cohorts.

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    The XMPP meetup for everyone

    debacle – pubsub.movim.eu / berlin-xmpp-meetup – Saturday, 28 September - 11:44 edit

This week in the meetup: Sprint, Kaidan, MUC...

Change of plans: We will talk about a planned XMPP sprint next year in Berlin, probably about Kaidan on Purism Librem 5, and maybe about MUCs and why they need to be replaced by something better. Let's see.

When? Wednesday, 2019-10-09 18:00 CEST (always 2ⁿᵈ Wednesday of every month)

Where?xHain hack+makespace, Grünberger Str. 16, 10243 Berlin (as always)

The original topic aenigma - the XMPP server for everyone is postponed to the next month, i.e. 2019-11-13, same time, same place.

Nicolas North of openspace, a hackerspace in Milano, Italy, will present aenigma, the | state-of-the-art | secure-by-default | one-touch-deployed | XMPP server for everyone.

See you then!

Or join our non-physical room!

#berlin #xmpp #meetup #community #xhain #federation #chat #freesoftware #ænigma #aenigma #selfhosting #security #privacy #anonymity #openspace #sprint #kaidan #librem5 #muc

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    7 October error

    # Language Acquisition with XMPP -- Research Proposal in Progress

    This year we will submit a research proposal to the German Research Foundation (DFG) including an XMPP based architecture. In the proposal we sketch a language learning app which makes video content accessible for language learning via semantic enrichment. We present our proposal at the XMPP meetup.

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    Terminal raises $17M led by 8VC to source and build remote teams of engineers

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Thursday, 26 September - 15:49

As LinkedIn announces the next stage of its own ambitions in the world of recruitment by bringing in more big data insights, another one of the startups indirectly chipping away at its position among knowledge workers by providing a way of hiring and building entire teams in remote locations is announcing another round of funding.

Terminal , a San Francisco-based startup and platform that lets companies build out remote engineering teams in international locations, and then helping with the wider practicalities that include finding workspace and sorting out benefits, is today announcing that it has raised $17 million in funding. Terminal’s hubs are currently in Guadalajara, Mexico and Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, and Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada, and the company is going to use some of the funding to expand to 10 other cities globally over the next two years.

The round is being led by 8VC — the venture firm founded by Joe Lonsdale, who also happens to be a co-founder of Terminal (seems like co-founding while also funding is a pattern for Lonsdale, a prolific investor who also famous for being a co-founder of Palantir Technologies).

Others participating include Atomic (where two co-founders, Jack Abraham and Dylan Serota, also co-founders), Cathay Innovation, Cherubic Ventures (where another co-founder, Andrew Dudum, is a partner that also double times also at Atomic), Craft Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and other unnamed investors.

Despite four of the five co-founders (the last is Luke Finney, who seems to be full-time just on Terminal) being from the VC world, the startup has raised relatively little funding since being founded two years ago : prior to this it had only disclosed one raise, totalling $10 million, according to PitchBook data.

LinkedIn has carved out a big swathe of the online recruitment market specifically in the area of knowledge workers, who also use the platform to provide public profiles of themselves, to brush up their skills, and to network with other folk in their various industries. That business has racked up 4 million hires this year already, CEO Jeff Weiner noted earlier today at a company event.

But within that, there are a lot of more specific use cases where the LinkedIn model is not a perfect fit, and that’s opened the door for a lot of other kinds of businesses to establish themselves and thrive.

Terminal is an example of one of these. Its particular pain point has to do with the dearth of engineers in major tech centers, and beyond, with typically five job openings for every one engineer in the U.S. alone.

While the technology world has coalesced around several key geographical areas — Silicon Valley at the epicentre and several major metropolitan areas like New York, London, Berlin and so on complementing that — the fact remains that the demand for engineers in those places, where the companies are based, still outstrips supply. On top of that, the biggest cities are overcrowded and expensive, and that turns off many people from wanting to live in them.

Terminal’s solution is to source suitable engineers in other locales and use its platform to help a company build a team from them. This is not just about building a team ‘in the cloud’ — although the idea is that, yes, the cloud is basically what makes all of this possible — but also covering office space, payroll and other HR specifics and more.

“Terminal is taking aim at the biggest problem holding back innovation: access to top technical talent.” said Joe Lonsdale, partner at 8VC, in a statement. “The best engineers are no longer concentrated in the Bay Area. They exist all over the world. Terminal helps startups access these engineers. Many of our fast-growing companies at 8VC rely on Terminal to help them scale.” Customers currently include Bungalow, Chime, Dialpad, Earnin, Gusto, Hims/Hers, and KeepTruckin.

Other startups have emerged to redress the imbalance of talent in specific locations while also helping to support new ecosystems to emerge: Andala is taking a somewhat similar approach, but it focuses on emerging markets to source talent, and engineers on its platform tend to work as contractors, not full-time employees.

While Andala is tapping into a big swing in the direction of contact-based talent sourcing, it’s interesting to see Terminal taking the bet on the fact that it can successfully create teams remotely that might just remain for the long term.

“We’re providing life-changing opportunities for engineers,” said Terminal CEO, Clay Kellogg, in a statement. “Developers and programmers love building their careers in an engineer-centric community working on world-changing products. We’re offering them a vibrant community with all of the HR resources, benefits and perks that they can get if they worked in Silicon Valley — without having to leave their hometown. This funding means we can provide exciting growth opportunities to even more engineers around the world.”

The push to more flexible working environments — including allowing people to work from home, as well as work more flexible hours — has really disrupted the traditional idea of 9-5 and everyone working together in a big (or small) building in order to get things done. At best, the consequences of that have sometimes led to more productivity and employee satisfaction, but challenges also remain. Terminal’s aim at building whole full-time teams in remote locations is interesting in that it will once again put a new spin on the idea of workplace culture, but for many businesses, especially startups, it’s a leap that is worth taking.

“KeepTruckin has built a modern technology platform to usher the fragmented trucking industry into the digital age, and our engineers have been at the center of creating a customer-centric experience since day one,” said Shoaib Makani, CEO and co-founder, KeepTruckin, in a statement. “As a fast-growing company, being able to attract and retain top tech talent is critical to our success. Terminal has been a key partner in helping us build our engineering team in Vancouver and tapping into Terminal’s extensive network has reduced the time it takes to scale our team.”

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    Pan-European VC fund Target Global is opening an office in Barcelona

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Tuesday, 24 September - 22:00

Hola Barcelona. Target Global , a pan-European VC firm with €700 million under management and a broad investment canvas spanning SaaS, marketplaces, fintech, insurtech and mobility, is opening an office in the Catalan capital.

Investor director, Lina Chong, will lead the expansion into Spain, having relocated to Barcelona from the fund’s Berlin headquarters. They’re setting up in a co-working space on Avenue Diagonal in the center of the city.

Target Global backs early and growth stages startups, as well as doing some seed investing. The firms tells us it’s expecting to do between one and three deals per year out of the Barcelona office, envisaging the same mix of investments in terms of early and growth stage.

“We’ve been seeing decent deals in both stages. Definitely. Across Spain,” says Chong. “There is just more — by numbers — way more early stage seed than A. I think that’s just the maturity of the ecosystem here.”

Dialling up a local presence across Europe means Target Global can pitch founders on being able to connect talent and expertise across key regional startup hubs, while also plugging into a wider international network. (It also has offices in London, Tel Aviv and Moscow.)

From a VC perspective opening local offices is of course about deal flow. Being on the ground to take more meetings widens the pipe, increasing the chance of an early shot at the next high growth business.

That’s important because Europe’s startups have many more options for early stage funding than in years past, and founders are getting smarter about choosing their investors. Boots on the ground means more time for all important relationship building.

Target Global describes itself as something of a startup — it was founded in 2012 — which means it’s competing for deals with VCs that have more established brands and networks. Becoming a familiar face in the room looks like a solid strategy to growth hack its own network.

We are a global or a pan-European fund but for an entrepreneur here we want them to feel that we’re local; we understand the ecosystem; that we have deep rooted connections; that we’re committed; that we show up,” general partner Shmuel Chafets tells TechCrunch.

“It’s all a function of time and effort. Just being here and having breakfast with people, lunch with people and helping out even the people we don’t invest. You get more connected and then you start to see more deal flow.”

This is the second local office it’s opened in Europe this year, after adding a London base in April — making it a flattering pick for Barcelona. P lenty of other European hubs are being passed over in the city’s favor this time, be it Madrid, Lisbon, Paris or Stockholm.

Chafets says the firm looked at five or six other cities but settled on Barcelona for now, though he won’t rule out opening more offices in future. “Never say never,” he quips.

Having been a regular visitor to Barcelona for a number of years he talks enthusiastically about the creative energy motivating entrepreneurs — saying the city’s ecosystem reminds him of how Berlin felt a few years ago. “ It looks like it’s just about to happen,” he reckons.

“From what I’ve seen Barcelona is sort of strong in creative. It’s a very creative city. It’s always pretty strong in mobile, historically. It had more mobile successes… SaaS, particular smb SaaS, is pretty good here. I think it would be harder to find enterprise sales companies and companies building these very deep tech stuff right now. But definitely in the marketplace, smb SaaS space, mobile space you see great stuff here.

“That ties into the creativity, because it’s a product driven environment — not a tech driven environment. I think Berlin is a very operationally driven environment, Tel Aviv is a very tech driven environment, this is a very product driven environment — which actually complements well our other hubs.”

“There’s some pent-up energy here,” agrees Chong, who says they’ve already come across a “surprising” amount of deal flow. “Again i t’s very similar to Berlin where there’s a lot of willingness and there’s a lot of dreaming but there’s not a lot going on. So I think the younger people here they’re creating that.”

Target Global has been testing the water prior to formalizing its commitment to Barcelona, and has four local portfolio companies which it’s ploughed around €20M into over the past 12 months.

Its biggest regional investment to date is in business trip booking SaaS, TravelPerk . It’s also backed flatmate matching platform Badi ; online doctor booking platform, Doc Planner (which relocated from Warsaw, Poland after merging with local startup Doctoralia ); and medical chat app MediQuo .

From a wider perspective, Barcelona’s tech ecosystem has been gathering momentum for years, helped by the annual presence of the world’s biggest mobile tradeshow (MWC) — as well as more specific pull factors for startups such as a relatively low cost of living and an attractive Mediterranean location.

“It’s a great place to live and you can’t ignore that,” says Chafets. “In Europe if you’re a team and you’re an international team there are very few places you can live.”

This combination means Barcelona is now home to a growing number of high growth startups, including Target Global’s portfolio firm TravelPerk — as well as the likes of on-demand delivery platform Glovo ; and RedPoints , which sells a SaaS to brands for detecting and acting against the sale of fake goods online, to name two other notable examples.

Other local startups grabbing attention and investment in recent years include 21Buttons , Holded , Housfy , Typeform and Verse . While hyper local mobile marketplace startup Wallapop — which was on a growth tear in an earlier wave of ecoystem growth — remains the go-to classified app on every local’s phone (though it merged with a US rival back in 2015 ).

The city even has its own youthful scooter startup ( Reby ) which has refused to be put off by some tough regulations controlling rentals — and has recently been applying AI to try to make like a good citizen by automatically detect poor parking .

Mobility is a major area of focus for Target Global — which last year announced a dedicated fund (with an initial raise of $100M) for startups working to disrupt transportation. Although, when it comes to stand-up e-scooters the firm is already invested in Berlin-based Circ so will presumably be looking to spend elsewhere on that front.

“Barcelona is the perfect city for scooters,” says Chafets. “Scooters can really change the way the city works. It’s also small and has relatively good public transportation from outwards in — but they need to be regulated. You need to really make sure that [they aren’t a misused nuisance].”

He notes that European regulators have been relatively quick to spot the risks of shared mobility, and close off the antisocial expansionist playbook that played out in some US cities during the first wave of scooter startups — when people trolled Bird by hanging scooters in trees (or, well, worse) — but he sees that as good news for building a sustainable future for alternative mobility.

“It’s a great challenge and it will be a huge money maker — that’s where we want to be right, multiple trillion dollar businesses!”

Away from disruptive developments on the ground in Barcelona and the other local tech hubs that Target Global is intending to explore from its new base in Catalonia, it also views Spain as a low risk gateway to opportunities on the other side of the Atlantic.

“There’s a decent local domestic market and there is a natural second market in South America,” says Chafets. “Actually in the US too — because Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in America so when you start a company here you have that second market built in. Which is very important — you can scale it.”

“Latin America is a fascinating market right now, it’s a fascinating time,” he adds. “So in a way it’s a way for us to make a side bet on Latin America without going out of Europe and investing far.”

We’ll share a full interview with Chafets and Chong on Extra Crunch.

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    Remagine secures $35M fund backed by media giants to focus on entertainment and media tech

    news.movim.eu / TechCrunch – Tuesday, 17 September - 13:48

Remagine Ventures is a relatively new European VC fund which focuses on investments in entertainment tech, including AI, gaming, sports & eSports, AR/VR, consumer and commerce. It’s now completed $35 million in funding from a number of entertainment and media corporations, including Axel Springer and ProsiebenSat1, Japanese Adways and American Liontree LLC. Last year global media group Sky put $4 million into the fund as part of the launch of its new innovation office in Berlin.

To date, the fund has invested in six entertainment start-ups, including: Minute Media, a user-generated content platform for sports, Syte.ai a visual search startup, Novos, a gamer training platform, HourOne, which operates in the world of synthetic media, Vault-ai.com, predictive analytics for film and television and Madskil, an eSports company in stealth.

Started by investor/entrepreneurs Kevin Baxpehler and Eze Vidra, Remagine focuses on early-stage (seed and pre-seed) investments in Israel and UK, with synergies between the two territories.
Traditionally, Israel has been better know for it’s ‘deep tech’capabilities but there’s a growing ecosystem of entertainment tech and consumer startups looking to disrupt traditional traditional industries.

Vidra established Campus London, Google’s first physical hubs for startups and later expanded the Campus model internationally. He was also a general partner Google Ventures (GV), the company’s investment arm in Europe.

Baxpehler, is a former entrepreneur and investment banker from in Germany. He most recently led the investment activity of German entertainment giant ProSiebenSat.1 in Israel, investing in Dynamic Yield (which recently sold for $300 million to McDonalds) and Magisto, which was acquired by Vimeo for $200 million.

Vidra said: “We operate in a relatively new market in the Israeli ecosystem. The Entertainment-tech sector has tremendous momentum, and Israeli founders are expanding at a rapid pace in this world and we recognize huge potential in it.” Baxpehler added: “Eze and I have experience in the investment world, the entrepreneurial world and the corporate world. We want to meet startups very early, to accompany and guide them even before investing.”