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Cowboy launches the Cowboy 4 e-bike, with a step-through version and built-in phone charger

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E-bike startup Cowboy has launched the Cowboy 4, its newest generation of urban electric bikes. The bike will come in two different frames, a traditional frame, and a step-through.
The C4 is basically an upgrade on the previous version 3, while the ‘C4 ST’ is a step-through model which the company is predicting will appeal to young people used to city bikes.

The C4 and C4 ST are both priced at £2,290/€2,490 inclusive of mudguards and are available for pre-order with a €100/£100 deposit starting from today cowboy.com, with deliveries starting in September 2021.

Cowboy has raised $46.1M in venture capital and largely extent competes with VanMoof (which raised $61.1M) and Furo Systems (£750K) to a lesser extent. The basic differences between the three are that Cowboy is moving closer to leverage the cloud and apps as its main differentiation, VanMoof tends to built things (like a screen) into the bike (and has an app), and Furo is more about ease of maintenance, and weight.

Cowboy says both bikes feature 50% more torque via their automatic transmission. There are no gears to change, with the engine kicking in as you turn the cranks. The removable battery weighs 2.4kg, giving the bike a range of up to 70km.

The heaviest version of the bikes is 19.2 kg including battery and both will hit 25 km/h (15 mph).

Adrien Roose, Cowboy Co-Founder and CEO said in a statement: “The Cowboy 4 completely redefines life in and around cities. By designing two frame types featuring our first-ever step-through model, an integrated cockpit, and a new app, we are now able to address a much larger audience and cater to many more riders to move freely in and around cities,” he added. “Our mission is to help city dwellers move in a faster, safer and more enjoyable way than any other mode of urban transportation. Be it wandering through the city or staying fit, it’s a reconnection with your senses and a rediscovery of the simple thrill of riding a bike.”

The step-through model is optimized to suit riders 160-190cm in height, while the normal C4 will accommodates riders 170-195cm tall.

Mike Butcher meets Cowboy's Adrien Roose

Mike Butcher meets Cowboy’s Adrien Roose

Doing a very quick test of the new bikes in a London basketball court and around local streets, I found both bikes to be very nippy on the off and a pleasure to ride. Cowboy is probably right – the step-through version is likely to appeal to a wide variety of riders.

Roose said the bike has been custom-designed. Only the saddle and the carbon belt are made by third-party companies Selle Royal and Gates, respectively. The brake cables are now integrated into the handlebars and stem, brakes and pedals have new angles, and the rear wheel has a ‘dropout’ design.
Cowboy will offer a custom-designed series of accessories starting with a rear rack and kickstand. The C4 and C4 ST will come in Absolute Black, Peyote Green, and Sand Dune, and are available to pre-order now, with deliveries beginning in September. Both models will feature pre-fitted mudguards.

The bikes also now feature a wireless charging mont on the stem featuring a built-in Quad Lock mount to hold the rider’s smartphone and wirelessly charge it via the bike’s internal battery.

Tanguy Goretti, Co-Founder, and VP Software added: “The new Cowboy app [will show] remaining battery range, air quality en route and a wide range of live fitness stats.”

The app also has a new navigation screen, 3D map rendering layout, turn-by-turn directions, air quality index for routes, live fitness data, leaderboard rankings; a new community feature offering the ability to join curated group rides across capital cities in Europe.

Cowboy is also offering a free repair network across Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria and Luxembourg; 6 days a week customer support; and a subscription plan operated in partnership with Qover which includes theft detection, theft insurance throughout Europe.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/08/cowboy-launches-the-cowboy-4-e-bike-with-a-step-through-version-and-built-in-phone-charger/

Fintech

Visa to acquire open banking platform Tink for more than $2 billion

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Visa has announced plans to acquire Tink for €1.8 billion, or $2.15 billion at today’s exchange rate. Tink has been a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interface (API).

Today’s move comes a few months after Visa abandoned its acquisition of Plaid, another popular open banking startup. Originally, Visa planned to spend $5.3 billion to acquire the American startup. But the company had to call off the acquisition after running into a regulatory wall.

Tink offers a single API so that customers can connect to bank accounts from their own apps and services. For instance, you can leverage Tink’s API to access account statements, initiate payments, fetch banking information and refresh this data regularly.

While banks and financial institutions now all have to offer open banking interfaces due to EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD2, there’s no single standard. Tink integrates with 3,400 banks and financial institutions.

App developers can use the same API call to interact with bank accounts across various financial institutions. As you may have guessed, it greatly simplifies the adoption of open banking features.

300 banks and fintech startups use Tink’s API to access third-party bank information — clients include PayPal, BNP Paribas, American Express and Lydia. Overall, Tink covers 250 million bank customers across Europe.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Tink operations should continue as usual after the acquisition. Visa plans to retain the brand and management team.

According to Crunchbase data, Tink has raised over $300 million from Dawn Capital, Eurazeo, HMI Capital, Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Creades, Heartcore Capital and others.

“For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement. “We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/visa-to-acquire-open-banking-platform-tink-for-more-than-2-billion/

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Techcrunch

Taptap Send gets $13.4M for a no-fee money transfer service aimed at price-conscious emerging market users

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Remittances — specifically when people in developed countries send money to family or friends in emerging markets — continues to be a huge lever to help those in more challenging economies survive and improve their lot. Today, a startup that has built a remittance platform that it believes is the most economically sympathetic and useful to the people who use those services the most is announcing some funding to continue growing.

Taptap Send, which provides a “free” mobile money transfer service from eight countries to 15 others, has raised $13.4 million, money that it will be using to continue expanding its scope and the services that it provides to its customers.

The 15 receiver countries include some of the poorest countries in the world that are the hardest to service, plus emerging markets with some of the poorest populations — DR Congo, Mali, and Madagascar among them — while the eight originator countries include some of the most common places to which people from these countries emigrate — United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, France and Italy among them.

The Series A was co-led by Canaan Partners and Reid Hoffman, with other unnamed investors also participating.

There is a reason that a lot of companies launch and build services in countries like the U.S. or regions like Western Europe: there is a lot of money there, and specifically consumers and businesses with the kind of income that allows them to invest in new technologies and simply to do more. Of course, that doesn’t mean that other, less wealthy demographics don’t exist, or don’t also need new technology; but building for them is usually less lucrative and more risky.

Taptap Send is among the startups that is trying to approach the promise of tech with this in mind, and with a view to bucking that trend. The company’s business model works by way of charging no commission or any other fees for transfers, instead making a cut on foreign exchange. It has built its whole tech stack from the ground up and says that this lets it pass on lower exchange rates to its customers, typically lower than others that might be serving the same markets. On top of this, there is an economy of scale principle at play here: having better rates will drive more users, which in turn might not mean better margins but a higher volume of transacting and more returns overall.

The startup is the third entrepreneurial outing for Michael Faye, a development economist who previously worked for the United Nations. Before Taptap Send, Fay founded GiveDirectly and Segovia. In each business, he’s tried to take the same approach: building financial technology to improve the lot of people living in emerging markets. GiveDirectly (still going strong) did this for philanthropic donations — it’s an NGO that sets up donation campaigns where individuals and big businesses can contribute, and people in receiving countries can directly get the funding via mobile money transfers. Segovia (acquired by Crown Agents Bank) did this for B2B use cases — it built a mobile-money-transfer-as-a-service, which other money transfer companies could use to power their businesses, by way of an API.

Taptap Send can be thought of as Faye’s hat trick in the space, taking the bigger concept of remittances used to help people, and building it as a C2C business: aimed at individuals who are sending people “back home” money to live on.

“Taptap Send is taking advantage of this structural change in mobile money and other distribution networks to offer what we hope is the fastest and best price service to customers,” he told TechCrunch in an interview.

Taken together, cross-border remittances is a massive market, worth some $540 billion annually when you consider the established channels, with more “informal” methods (which can be as analogue as passing money via a person making a trip from one country to the other) estimated to be of nearly the same size. They are also, in fact, more valuable even than foreign direct investment: the World Bank has tracked that remittances overtook the money donated by states in 2019.

Mobile technology has played a big part in that, making it easier both to send and receive money, but it’s also opened the door to a lot of potential exploitation by bad actors, preying on people who might use a service for convenience and not be fully clear on how the actual pricing breaks down.

For that reason, the UN has set a goal for remittance pricing and commissions to be no higher for any company than 3% of the total sent — one way to ensure that players focus more on volume and less on margins. Taptap send says that it’s the only company in the space that has publicly committed to that goal (it has yet to hit it, it seems).

The company is not yet disclosing many numbers on its size or customers served but Faye tells me business overall grew 5x in the last year, and is posting a gross profit. “Even with everything happening you did see this massive increase in digitization,” he said of Covid-19 and its impact on business. He’s also undeterred by the vast amounts of competition in the space, which includes not just companies like Western Union and Money Gram but lots and lots of smaller remittance startups like Remitly, World Remit, and many more without the word “remit” in their names. “It’s easy to look at remittance and say it’s crowded, but so was video conferencing before Zoom or social networking before Facebook,” he said.

This is also why investors are interested.

“The company has a nuanced, yet powerful strategy that Michael has put into place to allow [it] to be the lowest-cost provider in every market they enter. As the world rapidly shifts toward digital wallets and e-money, it creates an opportunity for remittance companies to create an even more magical experience by sending funds directly to those wallets,” noted Brendan Dickinson, a general partner at Canaan. “Taptap Send gives as much of cost savings as possible to the customer, and as a result, is almost always the cheapest player in the market. All of that makes it economically viable to send smaller remittances – and in doing so, expands the total market and volume of remittances sent. This approach is strongly resonating with customers, as Taptap Send’s massive growth has been 90+% organic.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/taptap-send-gets-13-4m-for-a-no-fee-money-transfer-service-aimed-at-price-conscious-emerging-market-users/

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Blockchain

Andreessen Horowitz triples down on blockchain startups with massive $2.2 billion Crypto Fund III

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While the cryptocurrency market’s most recent hype wave seems to be dying down after a spectacular rise, Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto arm is reaffirming its commitment to startups building blockchain projects with a hulking new $2.2 billion crypto fund.

It’s the firm’s largest vertical-specific fund ever — by quite a bit.

Andreessen Horowitz’s 2018 crypto fund ushered in $300 million of LP commitments and its second fund, which it closed in April of last year, clocked in at $515 million. The new multi-billion dollar fund not only showcases how institutional backers are growing more comfortable with cryptocurrencies, but also how Andreessen Horowitz’s assets under management have been quickly swelling to compete with other deep-pocketed firms including the ever-prolific Tiger Global.

With this announcement, Andreessen now has some $18.8 billion assets under management.

LPs are likely far less wary to take a chance on crypto after Andreessen Horowitz’s stake in Coinbase equated to some $11.2 billion at the time of the direct listing’s first trades, though the stock has slid back some 30% in recent months as the crypto market has shrunk.

Some of the firm’s other major crypto bets include NBA Top Shot maker Dapper Labs which hit a $7.5 billion valuation this spring. Blockchain infrastructure startup Dfinity raised at a $9.5 billion valuation this past September. Last year, the firm led the Series A of Uniswap, which is poised to be a major player in the Ethereum ecosystem. In addition to equity investments, a16z has also made major bets on the currencies themselves.

An earlier report from Newcomer last month reported a16z was targeting a $2 billion crypto fund and that they had already unloaded some of their crypto holdings before most cryptocurrencies took a major dive in recent weeks.

Crypto Fund III will continue to be managed by GPs Chris Dixon and Katie Haun, but the firm has also begun spinning out a more robust management team around the crypto vertical.

Anthony Albanese, who joined the firm last year from the NYSE, has been appointed COO of the division. Tomicah Tillemann, who previously served as a senior advisor to now-President Joe Biden and as chairman of the Global Blockchain Business Council, will be a16z Crypto’s Global Head of Policy. Rachael Horwitz is also coming aboard as an Operating Partner leading marketing and communications for a16z crypto; leaving Google after a stint as Coinbase’s first VP of Communications as well.

A couple other folks are also coming on in advisory capacity, including entrepreneur Alex Price and a couple others who will likely be a tad helpful in regulatory maneuverings including Bill Hinman, formerly of the SEC, and Brent McIntosh, who recently served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/andreessen-horowitz-triples-down-on-blockchain-startups-with-massive-2-2-billion-crypto-fund-iii/

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Big Data

Firebolt raises $127M more for its new approach to cheaper and more efficient big data analytics

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Snowflake changed the conversation for many companies when it comes to the potentials of data warehousing. Now one of the startups that’s hoping to disrupt the disruptor is announcing a big round of funding to expand its own business.

Firebolt, which has built a new kind of cloud data warehouse that promises much more efficient, and cheaper, analytics around whatever is stored within it, is announcing a major Series B of $127 million on the heels of huge demand for its services.

The company, which only came out of stealth mode in December, is not disclosing its valuation with this round, which brings the total raised by the Israeli company to $164 million. New backers Dawn Capital and K5 Global are in this round, alongside previous backers Zeev Ventures, TLV Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Angular Ventures.

Nor is it disclosing many details about its customers at the moment. CEO and co-founder Eldad Farkash told me in an interview that most of them are US-based, and that the numbers have grown from the dozen or so that were using Firebolt when it was still in stealth mode (it worked quietly for a couple of years building its product and onboarding customers before finally launching six months ago). They are all migrating from existing data warehousing solutions like Snowflake or BigQuery. In other words, its customers are already cloud-native, big-data companies: it’s not trying to proselytize on the basic concept but work with those who are already in a specific place as a business.

“If you’re not using Snowflake or BigQuery already, we prefer you come back to us later,” he said. Judging by the size and quick succession of the round, that focus is paying off.

The challenge that Firebolt set out to tackle is that while data warehousing has become a key way for enterprises to analyze, update and manage their big data stores — after all, your data is only as good as the tools you have to parse it and keep it secure — typically data warehousing solutions are not efficient, and they can cost a lot of money to maintain.

The challenge was seen first-hand by the three founders of Firebolt, Farkash (CEO), Saar Bitner (COO) and Ariel Yaroshevich (CTO) when they were at a previous company, the business intelligence powerhouse Sisense, where respectively they were one of its co-founders and two members of its founding team. At Sisense, the company continually came up against an issue: When you are dealing in terabytes of data, cloud data warehouses were straining to deliver good performance to power its analytics and other tools, and the only way to potentially continue to mitigate that was by piling on more cloud capacity. And that started to become very expensive.

Firebolt set out to fix that by taking a different approach, re-architecting the concept. As Farkash sees it, while data warehousing has indeed been a big breakthrough in big data, it has started to feel like a dated solution as data troves have grown.

“Data warehouses are solving yesterday’s problem, which was, ‘How do I migrate to the cloud and deal with scale?’ ” he told me back in December. Google’s BigQuery, Amazon’s RedShift and Snowflake as fitting answers for that issue, believes, but “we see Firebolt as the new entrant in that space, with a new take on design on technology. We change the discussion from one of scale to one of speed and efficiency.”

The startup claims that its performance is up to 182 times faster than that of other data warehouses with a SQL-based system that works on academic research that had yet to be applied anywhere, around how to handle data in a lighter way, using new techniques in compression and how data is parsed. Data lakes in turn can be connected with a wider data ecosystem, and what it translates to is a much smaller requirement for cloud capacity. And lower costs.

Fast forward to today, and the company says the concept is gaining a lot of traction with engineers and developers in industries like business intelligence, customer-facing services that need to parse a lot of information to serve information to users in real-time, and back-end data applications. That is proving out what investors suspected would be a shift before the startup even launched, stealthily or otherwise.

“I’ve been an investor at Firebolt since their Series A round and before they had any paying customers,” said Oren Zeev of Zeev Ventures. “What had me invest in Firebolt is mostly the team. A group of highly experienced executives mostly from the big data space who understand the market very well, and the pain organizations are experiencing. In addition, after speaking to a few of my portfolio companies and Firebolt’s initial design partners, it was clear that Firebolt is solving a major pain, so all in all, it was a fairly easy decision. The market in which Firebolt operates is huge if you consider the valuations of Snowflake and Databricks. Even more importantly, it is growing rapidly as the migration from on-premise data warehouse platforms to the cloud is gaining momentum, and as more and more companies rely on data for their operations and are building data applications.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/firebolt-raises-127m-more-for-its-new-approach-to-cheaper-and-more-efficient-big-data-analytics/

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