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React Native Vs. Flutter: The Ultimate Comparison

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The aim of this article is to provide the readers with complete information on the two cross-platform frameworks for mobile app development – React Native and Flutter.

These technologies have proved to be the most popular among developers, as reflected in the diagram provided by Statista. In the article, React Native and Flutter are compared on criteria called to simplify the choice of the best tool for developing your next digital product.

This debate is extremely relevant nowadays as the popularity of mobile applications is growing day after day opening more and more prospects for businesses and their owners. 

Source: Statista

If you want your business to stay competitive in the market, you will definitely need an app or a couple of apps. The more platforms your app is available on, the higher the chances of your success are. That is why app development using cross-platform technologies is so much in demand. They provide the opportunities to kill two birds with one stone making your app available on multiple platforms and allowing more people to know about your business.

Why the comparison between Flutter and React Native?

Frankly speaking, the issue of which one is better: Flutter or React Native is not new. This topic has already been discussed for quite a while, but the solution hasn’t been found yet.

That is why the question “which tool is better” can hardly have a definite answer. Both frameworks have their pros and cons, as well as their own community of followers. But we hope that after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of Flutter and React Native and break down the nuances of these hybrid technologies. And perhaps be more likely to choose your favorite tool.

A few words about Flutter

Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform SDK (software development kit) created by Google. Although it is a quite new framework (it was released in 2017), Flutter managed to gain popularity among developers very quickly.

Flutter uses the Dart programming language, which was also developed by Google. One of the most outstanding features of Flutter is its abundance of versatile widgets, which help to build apps with impressive UI. A detailed description of all useful features and functionalities of Flutter was described in this article.

A few words about React Native 

React Native is an open-source framework that helps to create sophisticated mobile applications for various platforms simultaneously.

React Native was developed by Facebook, which is why most of the apps from the Facebook family-like Skype, Instagram have been created using this tool. The programming languages used by React Native are JavaScript and React.js, which is a great advantage for software engineers since they don’t have to master new tools from scratch. 

Compared to Flutter, React Native has seen the world a little longer as it was released in 2015. The major benefits of React Native are vast libraries along with a great number of training guides.

So now, let’s have a closer look at these cross-platform frameworks and highlight their pros and cons as well as the aspects they have in common. In this article, we are going to compare each of the frameworks according to 8 criteria:

  1. UI Components
  2. Development process
  3. Architecture
  4. Performance
  5. Documentation
  6. Community
  7. Testing

UI Components

The support of native-like components is extremely important for the development of a cross-platform mobile app, as, without it, the app won’t feel like a native one. Flutter is bundled with a real army of highly customizable widgets, which help to create as much of an app as you can imagine. Moreover, Flutter is armed with a rich number of elements such as UI rendering components, device API access, navigation, testing, and loads of libraries.

On the other hand, React Native framework provides only UI rendering and device access APIs. React Native relies greatly on third-party libraries when access to native modules is needed. So because of this, it is inferior to Flutter. Of course, React Native is able to use lots of components and UI elements from third-party libraries but without access to them, React Native is characterized by a smaller number of elements than Flutter.

Development process

It is impossible to predict how long it will take to build an application. This period can vary from several months to a couple of years. The choice of the platform does not really influence the release speed. However, working with simple Flutter applications can be more profitable and faster due to a large number of components out of the box. Flutter also allows using native code so your application can seem native. 

The development process for React Native apps is also fast since the framework uses native components, which are ready to use.  These components help to speed up the process of mobile app development, eliciting many pains.  

But the most valuable feature of both frameworks is the Hot Reload function, which allows developers to introduce changes to an existing state of the app without having to recompile all of the code from the start, which improves efficiency and accelerates the whole process. 

So we can conclude that in terms of development speed both frameworks are great.

Architecture

React Native provides the use of two main patterns when building applications – Flux and Redux. While the former is created by Facebook, the latter is more popular with developers. Both of these structures follow a unidirectional pattern of data flow during development and provide the storage of application state in a central “store”, making app components stateless.

Since Flutter is relatively new to the world of cross-platform application development, most developers find it hard to figure out what architecture is the best option to implement in an application. Flutter offers a number of architectural patterns; each is highly reliable and convenient to work with. The most popular solution is BLoC (Business Logic Component). At the same time, Flutter makes it possible to use Flux or Redux if you find these architecture samples more convenient.

Performance

The React Native architecture consists of two main parts: the JavaScript language and the native language. In the beginning, it only uses JS. But for the interpretation and rendering of UI components, it must use the JavaScript bridge as it helps to convert the variables to native ones.  So, yes, React Native is powerful, but the necessity of using a bridge makes the performance slower and influences the animations’ speed. 

Flutter, on the other hand, goes a bit behind and the main reason for that is the use of the Dart programming language. Flutter compiles the whole code to the native machine code and avoids any special connection between the interface and the code. This makes rendering incredibly fast and results in better and quicker performance

Let’s look at the operational principles of Flutter and React Native frameworks on the scheme below.

Documentation

Well-structured documentation and a user-friendly set of tools are essential for software developers. In terms of documentation, Flutter surpasses React Native as it is supplied by sophisticated and thought-out documentation by Google. Flutter developers can find any information in seconds. Although it is a relatively new framework, Flutter is quite easy to switch because Dart is similar to Java and Kotlin programming languages.

So it’s not a big deal for a Java developer for instance to start using Flutter for the development of mobile apps. 

What concerns React Native? It would be reasonable to state that it doesn’t provide such thorough and full-scale documentation as Flutter in spite of the fact that React Native is “older”. Nevertheless, React Native can boast a vast community of users and loads of useful guides, which provide opportunities to find necessary solutions in no time.

Community

One of the essential issues influencing the reliability of a framework is the community making fundamental contributions to the overall framework advancement. As React Native was released earlier, it is not surprising that it has got a much bigger community of followers, who can share the knowledge on some new technologies with less experienced developers as well as offer help in solving various problems. Since its release in 2015, the React Native community has significantly expanded, and the interest in this framework only keeps growing.

As a younger framework, Flutter (released in 2017) can’t boast such a vast community but from the very beginning, it was actively supported by Google software engineers. At the moment, Flutter has got quite a big fan base, and since the release of a new stable version, the popularity of Flutter is sure to increase at a blazing speed.

Testing

React Native and Flutter are cross-platform technologies, which means that the testing time is cut in half. It also makes the QA team easier to work with because they only need to test one application. But surely, if these are different applications on different platforms, they have to be tested. 

Developers have all JavaScript frameworks available for testing React Native apps at the unit level. However, when it comes to UI testing and automation, the situation is not as good.

Flutter is a new framework, and when it comes to testing a new framework, it can be a bit tricky. But Flutter uses Dart, which offers a great unit testing framework to use. So Flutter provides great options for developers to test widgets offline, at unit testing speeds.

Conclusion

When approaching the issue of choosing a platform for hybrid app development, you need to analyze a lot of factors such as the budget, time, app size, platforms, and so on. This means that choosing the best solution for mobile development will mostly depend on the specific task. However, many experts agree that the expanding interest in Flutter, its use, and support from Google will eventually end up in its leadership. On the other hand, the strong support of the React Native community, its stability, and reliability also make this platform very popular and actively used.

To sum let’s briefly go through the most important features of both technologies:

So, for the time being, neither Flutter nor React Native can boast of superiority since both technologies have their strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, React Native is a more robust cross-platform tool using one of the most popular programming languages, JavaScript. However, Flutter is developing faster, perfectly adapting to the needs of today’s technology world, and is becoming more and more popular with software developers every day.

Hopefully, now that you know enough about each platform, you can make an informed decision and choose the one that best suits your needs and expectations.

Also published on https://linkupst.com/blog/react-native-vs-flutter-is-there-a-winner-in-the-app-development-competition.

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CNBC

China is kicking out more than half the world’s bitcoin miners – and a whole lot of them could be headed to Texas

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Technicians make repairs to bitcoin mining machines at a mining facility operated by Bitmain in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China, on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

China has long been home to more than half the world’s bitcoin miners, but now, Beijing wants them out ASAP. 

In May, the government called for a severe crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, setting off what’s being dubbed in crypto circles as “the great mining migration.” This exodus is underway now, and it could be a game changer for Texas.

Mining is the energy-intensive process which both creates new coins and maintains a log of all transactions of existing digital tokens. 

Despite a lack of reserves that caused dayslong blackouts last winter, Texas often has some of the world’s lowest energy prices, and its share of renewables is growing over time, with 20% of its power coming from wind as of 2019. It has a deregulated power grid that lets customers choose between power providers, and crucially, its political leaders are very pro-crypto – dream conditions for a miner looking for a kind welcome and cheap energy sources.

“You are going to see a dramatic shift over the next few months,” said Brandon Arvanaghi, previously a security engineer at crypto exchange Gemini. “We have governors like Greg Abbott in Texas who are promoting mining. It is going to become a real industry in the United States, which is going to be incredible.”

China’s mining dominance

2021 data for the global distribution of mining power is not yet available, but past estimates have shown that 65% to 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining happened in China – mostly in four Chinese provinces: Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan and Yunnan. Sichuan and Yunnan’s hydropower make them renewable energy meccas, while Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are home to many of China’s coal plants. 

The drawdown in miners has already begun in Inner Mongolia. After failing to meet Beijing’s climate targets, province leaders decided to give bitcoin miners two months to clear out, explicitly blaming its energy misses on crypto mines. 

Castle Island Ventures founding partner Nic Carter says that while it’s not totally clear how China will handle next steps, a phased rollout is likely. “It seems like we’re going from policy statement to actual implementation in relatively short order,” he said.

The way this exodus is measured is by looking at hashrate, an industry term used to describe the computing power of all miners in the bitcoin network.

“Given the drop in hashrate, it appears likely that installations are being turned off throughout the country,” continued Carter, who also thinks that probably 50 to 60% of bitcoin’s entire hashrate will ultimately leave China. 

Although China’s announcement hasn’t been cemented in policy, that isn’t stopping miners like Alejandro De La Torre from cutting their losses and making an exit.

“We do not want to face every single year, some sort of new ban coming in China,” said De La Torre, vice president of Hong Kong-headquartered mining pool, Poolin. “So we’re trying to diversify our global mining hashrate, and that’s why we are moving to the United States and to Canada.”

One of bitcoin’s greatest features is that it is totally location agnostic. Miners only require an internet connection, unlike other industries that must be relatively close to their end users. 

“The cool thing about bitcoin that is under appreciated by a lot of the naysayers is that it’s a portable market; you can bring it right to the source of energy,” explained Steve Barbour, founder of Upstream Data, a company that manufactures and supplies portable mining solutions for oil and gas facilities.

That said, the exodus won’t be instantaneous, in part, because it will take miners some time to either move their machines out of China or liquidate their assets and set up shop elsewhere. 

Where they’re going

Because miners at scale compete in a low-margin industry, where their only variable cost is typically energy, they are incentivized to migrate to the world’s cheapest sources of power. 

“Every Western mining host I know has had their phones ringing off the hook,” said Carter. “Chinese miners or miners that were domiciled in China are looking to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Northern Europe.”

One likely destination is China’s next-door neighbor, Kazakhstan. The country’s coal mines provide a cheap and abundant energy supply. It also helps that Kazakhstan has a more lax attitude to building, which bodes well for miners who need to construct physical installations in a short period of time. 

Didar Bekbauov runs Xive, a company that provides hosting services to international miners. Xive also sells the specialized equipment needed for mining. 

Bekbauov says that he’s stopped counting the number of Chinese miners who have called him to ask about relocation options, ranging from operations with 15 rigs to thousands. 

“One miner told us that only government electricity plants have restricted mining and private ones will continue to service miners,” Bekbauov told CNBC. 

“But most of the electricity is generated by government power plants, so miners will have to move. That makes them uncertain and desperate to find other locations,” he said.

Whether Kazakhstan is a destination or simply a stopover on a longer migration west remains to be seen. 

Arvanaghi is bullish on North America and thinks the hashrate there will grow over the next few months.

“Texas not only has the cheapest electricity in the U.S. but some of the cheapest in the globe,” he said. “It’s also very easy to start up a mining company…if you have $30 million, $40 million, you can be a premier miner in the United States.”

Wyoming has also trended toward being pro-bitcoin and could be another mining destination, according to Arvanaghi.

There are, however, a few major limitations to the U.S. becoming a global mining destination.

For one, the lead time to build the actual physical infrastructure necessary to host miners is likely six to nine months, Carter told CNBC. “The U.S. probably can’t be as nimble as other countries in terms of onshoring these stray miners,” he said.

The move logistics may also prove difficult. There is a shipping container shortage, thanks to the tailwinds of the Covid pandemic. 

But perhaps the biggest question is the reliability of the Texas power grid. A storm that devastated large swaths of the state in 2020 has reignited a debate over whether Texas should winter-proof its systems, a potentially costly project that might affect taxes or other fees for those looking to tap into the state’s power grid. More recently, ERCOT, the organization that operates Texas’ grid, asked consumers to conserve energy amid what officials called an unusual number of “forced generation outages” and an upcoming heat wave.

Answering the Musk critique

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has bashed bitcoin mining, claiming that it is bad for the environment. It’s not a new criticism.

For years, skeptics have maligned the world’s most popular digital token for polluting the planet, while supporters have extolled the virtues of bitcoin and its role in accelerating the rise of renewable energy. 

It is unclear whether the China mining exodus will make or break the case for bitcoin enthusiasts in the debate around the token’s carbon footprint. The dominant narrative, to date, has been that much of the world’s bitcoin is mined with Chinese goal. 

“From a narrative perspective, it’s definitely an improvement,” said Carter. “But China also has the most abundant stranded hydro resources in the world.”

The country offers significant energy vectors from wind, solar, and especially hydropower in the south. Xinjiang’s grid, for example, is 35% powered by wind and solar energy inputs.

If all the miners do end up leaving China, it will mean less fossil fuel-powered mining, but it will also mean that the network’s share of renewable energy-powered mining will drop. This is why the question of where these migrant miners end up could prove critical to bitcoin’s future. “It’s the biggest story of the year for bitcoin,” said Carter. 

De La Torre says they’re looking to expand operations using green energy, a trend that is already years in the making. He says that hydro plants are generally cheaper than fossil fuels in most parts of the world.

“Mining is price sensitive, so as to seek out the lowest cost power and the lowest cost power tends to be renewable because if you’re burning fossil fuels…it has extraction, refinement, and transport costs,” explained Blockstream CEO Adam Back. 

Each year, investment bank Lazard releases a breakdown of energy costs by source. Its 2020 report shows that many of the most common renewable energy sources are either equal to or less expensive than conventional energy sources like coal and gas. And the cost of renewable power keeps going down.

But there are limitations to running crypto mines purely on renewable energy.

Though solar and wind are now the world’s least expensive energy sources, both power supplies face limitations at scale, so there is concern over the viability of miners turning exclusively to wind or solar energy.

Next six months

For the time being, there isn’t that much mining capacity worldwide that is ready to absorb the Chinese miner diaspora. While they scramble to find a new home, we could see hashrate go offline – and stay offline. 

In practice, that would mean all the remaining miners are more profitable for a period of time. 

Having more geographic dispersion would even out the global balance of power, and it would also reduce the ability of any one sovereign nation to co-opt or control the network.

We may also see special crypto economic zones pop up in the next few months.

“You will see jurisdictions adopting a very favorable stance and creating the equivalent of special zones to encourage miners to host locally,” said Carter. “We’re seeing it at the state level here. You’re also gonna see it at the country level, you might even see subsidized electricity for mining.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/15/chinas-bitcoin-miner-exodus-.html

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CNBC

China is kicking out more than half the world’s bitcoin miners – and a whole lot of them could be headed to Texas

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Technicians make repairs to bitcoin mining machines at a mining facility operated by Bitmain in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China, on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

China has long been home to more than half the world’s bitcoin miners, but now, Beijing wants them out ASAP. 

In May, the government called for a severe crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, setting off what’s being dubbed in crypto circles as “the great mining migration.” This exodus is underway now, and it could be a game changer for Texas.

Mining is the energy-intensive process which both creates new coins and maintains a log of all transactions of existing digital tokens. 

Despite a lack of reserves that caused dayslong blackouts last winter, Texas often has some of the world’s lowest energy prices, and its share of renewables is growing over time, with 20% of its power coming from wind as of 2019. It has a deregulated power grid that lets customers choose between power providers, and crucially, its political leaders are very pro-crypto – dream conditions for a miner looking for a kind welcome and cheap energy sources.

“You are going to see a dramatic shift over the next few months,” said Brandon Arvanaghi, previously a security engineer at crypto exchange Gemini. “We have governors like Greg Abbott in Texas who are promoting mining. It is going to become a real industry in the United States, which is going to be incredible.”

China’s mining dominance

2021 data for the global distribution of mining power is not yet available, but past estimates have shown that 65% to 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining happened in China – mostly in four Chinese provinces: Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan and Yunnan. Sichuan and Yunnan’s hydropower make them renewable energy meccas, while Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are home to many of China’s coal plants. 

The drawdown in miners has already begun in Inner Mongolia. After failing to meet Beijing’s climate targets, province leaders decided to give bitcoin miners two months to clear out, explicitly blaming its energy misses on crypto mines. 

Castle Island Ventures founding partner Nic Carter says that while it’s not totally clear how China will handle next steps, a phased rollout is likely. “It seems like we’re going from policy statement to actual implementation in relatively short order,” he said.

The way this exodus is measured is by looking at hashrate, an industry term used to describe the computing power of all miners in the bitcoin network.

“Given the drop in hashrate, it appears likely that installations are being turned off throughout the country,” continued Carter, who also thinks that probably 50 to 60% of bitcoin’s entire hashrate will ultimately leave China. 

Although China’s announcement hasn’t been cemented in policy, that isn’t stopping miners like Alejandro De La Torre from cutting their losses and making an exit.

“We do not want to face every single year, some sort of new ban coming in China,” said De La Torre, vice president of Hong Kong-headquartered mining pool, Poolin. “So we’re trying to diversify our global mining hashrate, and that’s why we are moving to the United States and to Canada.”

One of bitcoin’s greatest features is that it is totally location agnostic. Miners only require an internet connection, unlike other industries that must be relatively close to their end users. 

“The cool thing about bitcoin that is under appreciated by a lot of the naysayers is that it’s a portable market; you can bring it right to the source of energy,” explained Steve Barbour, founder of Upstream Data, a company that manufactures and supplies portable mining solutions for oil and gas facilities.

That said, the exodus won’t be instantaneous, in part, because it will take miners some time to either move their machines out of China or liquidate their assets and set up shop elsewhere. 

Where they’re going

Because miners at scale compete in a low-margin industry, where their only variable cost is typically energy, they are incentivized to migrate to the world’s cheapest sources of power. 

“Every Western mining host I know has had their phones ringing off the hook,” said Carter. “Chinese miners or miners that were domiciled in China are looking to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Northern Europe.”

One likely destination is China’s next-door neighbor, Kazakhstan. The country’s coal mines provide a cheap and abundant energy supply. It also helps that Kazakhstan has a more lax attitude to building, which bodes well for miners who need to construct physical installations in a short period of time. 

Didar Bekbauov runs Xive, a company that provides hosting services to international miners. Xive also sells the specialized equipment needed for mining. 

Bekbauov says that he’s stopped counting the number of Chinese miners who have called him to ask about relocation options, ranging from operations with 15 rigs to thousands. 

“One miner told us that only government electricity plants have restricted mining and private ones will continue to service miners,” Bekbauov told CNBC. 

“But most of the electricity is generated by government power plants, so miners will have to move. That makes them uncertain and desperate to find other locations,” he said.

Whether Kazakhstan is a destination or simply a stopover on a longer migration west remains to be seen. 

Arvanaghi is bullish on North America and thinks the hashrate there will grow over the next few months.

“Texas not only has the cheapest electricity in the U.S. but some of the cheapest in the globe,” he said. “It’s also very easy to start up a mining company…if you have $30 million, $40 million, you can be a premier miner in the United States.”

Wyoming has also trended toward being pro-bitcoin and could be another mining destination, according to Arvanaghi.

There are, however, a few major limitations to the U.S. becoming a global mining destination.

For one, the lead time to build the actual physical infrastructure necessary to host miners is likely six to nine months, Carter told CNBC. “The U.S. probably can’t be as nimble as other countries in terms of onshoring these stray miners,” he said.

The move logistics may also prove difficult. There is a shipping container shortage, thanks to the tailwinds of the Covid pandemic. 

But perhaps the biggest question is the reliability of the Texas power grid. A storm that devastated large swaths of the state in 2020 has reignited a debate over whether Texas should winter-proof its systems, a potentially costly project that might affect taxes or other fees for those looking to tap into the state’s power grid. More recently, ERCOT, the organization that operates Texas’ grid, asked consumers to conserve energy amid what officials called an unusual number of “forced generation outages” and an upcoming heat wave.

Answering the Musk critique

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has bashed bitcoin mining, claiming that it is bad for the environment. It’s not a new criticism.

For years, skeptics have maligned the world’s most popular digital token for polluting the planet, while supporters have extolled the virtues of bitcoin and its role in accelerating the rise of renewable energy. 

It is unclear whether the China mining exodus will make or break the case for bitcoin enthusiasts in the debate around the token’s carbon footprint. The dominant narrative, to date, has been that much of the world’s bitcoin is mined with Chinese goal. 

“From a narrative perspective, it’s definitely an improvement,” said Carter. “But China also has the most abundant stranded hydro resources in the world.”

The country offers significant energy vectors from wind, solar, and especially hydropower in the south. Xinjiang’s grid, for example, is 35% powered by wind and solar energy inputs.

If all the miners do end up leaving China, it will mean less fossil fuel-powered mining, but it will also mean that the network’s share of renewable energy-powered mining will drop. This is why the question of where these migrant miners end up could prove critical to bitcoin’s future. “It’s the biggest story of the year for bitcoin,” said Carter. 

De La Torre says they’re looking to expand operations using green energy, a trend that is already years in the making. He says that hydro plants are generally cheaper than fossil fuels in most parts of the world.

“Mining is price sensitive, so as to seek out the lowest cost power and the lowest cost power tends to be renewable because if you’re burning fossil fuels…it has extraction, refinement, and transport costs,” explained Blockstream CEO Adam Back. 

Each year, investment bank Lazard releases a breakdown of energy costs by source. Its 2020 report shows that many of the most common renewable energy sources are either equal to or less expensive than conventional energy sources like coal and gas. And the cost of renewable power keeps going down.

But there are limitations to running crypto mines purely on renewable energy.

Though solar and wind are now the world’s least expensive energy sources, both power supplies face limitations at scale, so there is concern over the viability of miners turning exclusively to wind or solar energy.

Next six months

For the time being, there isn’t that much mining capacity worldwide that is ready to absorb the Chinese miner diaspora. While they scramble to find a new home, we could see hashrate go offline – and stay offline. 

In practice, that would mean all the remaining miners are more profitable for a period of time. 

Having more geographic dispersion would even out the global balance of power, and it would also reduce the ability of any one sovereign nation to co-opt or control the network.

We may also see special crypto economic zones pop up in the next few months.

“You will see jurisdictions adopting a very favorable stance and creating the equivalent of special zones to encourage miners to host locally,” said Carter. “We’re seeing it at the state level here. You’re also gonna see it at the country level, you might even see subsidized electricity for mining.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/15/chinas-bitcoin-miner-exodus-.html

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Ecommerce

Uberall raises $115M, acquires MomentFeed to scale up its location marketing services

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Location-based services may have had their day as a salient category for hot apps or innovative tech leveraging the arrival of smartphones, but that’s largely because they are now part of the unspoken fabric of how we interact with digital services every day: we rely on location specific information when we are on search engines, when we are using maps, or weather apps, or taking and posting photos and more.

Still, there remain a lot of gaps in how location information links up with accurate information, and so today a company that’s made it its business to address that is announcing some funding as it scales up its service.

Uberall, which works with retailers and other brick-and-mortar operators to help them update and provide more accurate information about themselves across the plethora of apps and other services that consumers use to discover them, is announcing $115 million in funding. Alongside that, the Berlin startup is making an acquisition: it’s buying MomentFeed, a location marketing company based out of Los Angeles, CA, to continue scaling its business.

The funding is being led by London-based investor Bregal Milestone, with Level Equity, United Internet and Uberall management also participating. From what we understand from sources, the funding values Uberall at around $500 million, and the deal for MomentFeed was made for between $50 million and $60 million.

The business combination is building way more scale into the platform: Uberall said that together they will manage the online presence for 1.35 million business locations, making the company the biggest in the field, with customers including the gas station operator BP, KFC, clothes and food chain Marks and Spencer, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

Florian Hübner, the CEO and co-founder of Uberall, noted in an interview that the companies have quite a lot of overlap, and in fact prior to the deal being made the companies worked together closely in the U.S. market, but all the same, MomentFeed has built some specific technology that will enrich the wider platform, such as a particularly strong tool for measuring sentiment analysis.

“Managing the online presence” is not a company’s website, nor is it its apps, but may nevertheless be its most common digital touchpoints when it comes to actually engaging with consumers online. It includes how those companies appear on local listings services like Yelp or TripAdvisor, or mapping apps like Google’s — which provide not just listings information like addresses and opening hours but also customer reviews — or social apps or location-based advertising. Altogether, when you are considering a company with multiple locations and the multiple touchpoints a consumer might use, it ends up being a complicated mess of places that need to be managed and kept up to date.

“We are the catalyst for this huge ecosystem where we enable the brands to use everything that the other tech platforms are offering in the best possible way,” Hübner told me. The tech platforms, meanwhile, are willing to work with middle-ware companies like Uberall to make the information on their services more accurate and complete by connecting with businesses when they have not manage to do so directly on their own. (And if you’ve ever been caught out by the wrong opening times on a Google Maps entry, or any other entry or piece of information elsewhere, you know this is an issue.)

And of course expecting any company with potentially hundreds of locations to provide the right details without a tool is also a non-starter. “Casually updating 100,000 profiles is super hard,” Hübner said.

It also provides services to update information about vaccine and Covid-19 testing clinics, as well as other essential services that also have to contend with the same variations in location, opening hours and customer feedback as any other business on a site like Google Maps.

Altogether, Uberall has built out a platform that essentially connects up all of those end points, so that an Uberall customer can use a dashboard to provide updates that populate automatically everywhere, and also to read and respond to reviews.

Conversely, Uberall also can look out for instances where a company is being unofficially represented, or mis-represented and locks those down. Alongside those, it has built a location-based marketing service that also serves ads for its customers. It is somewhat akin to social media management tools, which let you manage social media accounts and social media marketing campaigns, except that it’s covering a much more fragmented and disparate set of places where a company might appear online.

The bigger picture here is that just as location-based marketing is a fragmented business, so is the business of providing services to manage it. This move reduces down that field a little more and improves the efficiency of scaling such services.

“As we saw the market trending towards consolidation, we considered several potential companies to merge with. Uberall was by far our most preferred,” said MomentFeed CEO Nick Hedges in a statement. “This combination makes enormous strategic sense for our customers, who represent the who’s-who of leading U.S. omni channel brands. It helps accelerate our already rapid pace of innovation, giving customers an even greater edge in the hyper-competitive world of ’Near Me’ Marketing.” After the deal closes, Hedges will become Uberall’s chief strategy officer and EVP for North America.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Uberall team for this next phase of growth. Our strategic investment will significantly accelerate Uberall’s ambition to become the leading ‘Near Me’ Customer Experience platform worldwide. Uberall’s differentiated full-suite solution is unsurpassed by competition in terms of integration and functionality, providing customers with a real edge to reach, interact with, and convert online customers. We look forward to supporting Florian, Nick and their talented team to deliver on their exciting innovation and expansion roadmap.” said Cyrus Shey, managing partner of Bregal Milestone, in a statement.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/uberall-raises-115m-acquires-momentfeed-to-scale-up-its-location-marketing-services/

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Automotive

Chinese startup Pony.ai plans to launch a driverless robotaxi service in California in 2022

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Pony.ai, the robotaxi startup that operates in China and the United States, has started testing driverless vehicles on public roads in California ahead of plans to launch a commercial service there in 2022.

The company said the driverless vehicle testing, which means the autonomous vehicles operate without human safety drivers behind the wheel, is happening daily on public roads in Fremont and Milpitas, California. Pony.ai is also testing its driverless vehicles in Guangzhou, China.

Pony.ai said it also plans to resume a rideshare service to the public in Irvine this summer using AVs with a human safety driver. Its goal is to roll out the fully driverless service to the public in 2022.

“Going completely driverless is key to achieving full autonomy and an indispensable catalyst to realizing our ambitious vision,” said James Peng, CEO and co-founder of Pony.ai.

Pony.ai still has some regulatory hurdles to clear before it can operate commercially. Autonomous vehicle companies that want to charge the public for driverless rides need both the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission to issue deployment permits. In early June, Cruise became the first company to receive a driverless autonomous service permit from the California PUC that allows it to test transporting passengers. The final step with the DMV, which only Nuro has achieved, is a deployment permit.

Pony’s driverless testing milestone in California comes a month after the state issued the company a permit to test a fleet of six driverless vehicles in a geographic area that spans about 39 square miles. While dozens of companies — 55 in all — have active permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver, it is less common to receive permission for driverless vehicles. Pony was the eighth company to be issued a driverless testing permit in the state, a list that includes Chinese companies AutoX, Baidu and WeRide as well as U.S. businesses Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and Zoox. Only Nuro has been granted a so-called deployment permit, which allows it to operate commercially.

Pony.ai, which was founded in 2016 by former Baidu developers Peng and Lou Tiancheng, has been allowed to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2017.  The driverless permit issued in May by the California DMV expanded upon Pony’s existing activity in the state.

Pony has tested ridesharing in Fremont and Irvine, California. In 2019, a fleet of electric, autonomous Hyundai Kona crossovers equipped with a self-driving system from Pony.ai and Via’s ride-hailing platform began shuttling customers on public roads. The robotaxi service, called BotRide, wasn’t a driverless service, as there was a human safety driver behind the wheel at all times. The BotRide pilot concluded in January 2020.

The company then started operating a public robotaxi service called PonyPilot in the Irvine area. Pony shifted that robotaxi service from shuttling people to packages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pony.ai also partnered with e-commerce platform Yamibuy to provide autonomous last-mile delivery service to customers in Irvine. The delivery service was launched to provide additional capacity to address the surge of online orders triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pony.ai said at the time.

As the pandemic eases and California returns to normal operations, Pony is preparing to launch a commercial robotaxi service. It has already amassed a number of partners and more than $1 billion in funding, including $400 million from Toyota, to help it achieve that goal. Last November, the company said its valuation had reached $5.3 billion following a fresh injection of $267 million in funding. Pony has several partnerships or collaborations with automakers and suppliers, including Bosch, Hyundai and Toyota.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/chinese-startup-pony-ai-plans-to-launch-a-driverless-robotaxi-service-in-california-in-2022/

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