Technology

Top 5 Black Friday laptop deals

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Dell XPS13 (Dell)

Dell XPS13 (Dell)

Black Friday laptop deals are everywhere but here are some of the best.

Many deals start on Nov. 23 but some are already live. Early deals are showing discounts now while Black Friday deals won’t appear until the 23rd.

The $99 laptop is here: The 11-inch Samsung Chromebook will be discounted to $99 from $179 on Black Friday at Best Buy. Chromebooks use the efficient Google Chrome operating system – a snappy OS even on less-expensive hardware. And because it runs in the cloud, Chrome doesn’t have large hard drive requirements. The 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook comes with an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB of storage.

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HP laptop deals: Hewlett-Packard is a force to be reckoned with on Black Friday as it has historically been the largest PC maker in the world.

HP Pavilion 15-cc563st 15.6-inch on sale at Staples for $499. Previously, it sold for around $800. This sports a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 chip, 1TB hard drive, 12GB of DDR4 memory, and Windows 10.

HP Spectre x360 13t touch-screen laptop will get cut to $899.99 from $1149.99.

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This a new HP laptop and comes with Intel’s latest quad-core 8th Gen Core i5 chip.

HP Spectre x360 15.6-inch (15-BL112DX) for $1,199.99, $400 off the regular price of $1,599.99 at Best Buy. Like its 13-inch cousin above, this is a premium HP laptop and boasts a 4K touch-screen display. It has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and a large 512GB solid state drive.

Apple MacBook Pro: The MacBook Pro is Apple’s most powerful laptop line. The 15.4-inch MBP with Touch Bar (space gray, late 2016, MLH32LL/A) is reduced to $1,799 from $2,399 at B&H Photo.

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Dell’s newest XPS 13: The latest 13-inch XPS 13 model is on salefor $999, discounted from $1,299. This comes with Intel’s brand-new quad-core 8th generation processor, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB solid state drive. This is a premium laptop line from Dell built around a compact, ultra-thin chassis.

Microsoft Surface bundle: The Surface Pro is seeing some Black Friday action direct from Microsoft. On sale for $899 discounted from the regular price of $1,129. This includes an Intel Core i5, 128GB of storage, 4GB of memory, and black Surface Pro Type Cover. The Type Cover is usually sold separately.

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PacketZoom lands $5M Series A investment to speed up mobile apps

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PacketZoom, a startup that helps app developers speed up and optimize app delivery on mobile devices, announced a $5M Series A today.

The round was led by Baseline Ventures with participation from First Round Capital, Tandem Capital and Arafura Ventures. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $9M, according to Crunchbase.

The company combines a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up performance with an application performance management tool to identify performance issues in a single package. Instead of making content faster from a web delivery standpoint, it’s finding ways to speed up app performance on your mobile device. In fact, research has shown that users have very little patience when it comes to apps that are buggy or have performance issues.

Unlike a Web CDN, which cannot see what’s happening on end user devices, PacketZoom has insight into activity on the device and inside the cellular networks, company CEO Shlomi Gian explained. He says that they offer an SDK for free to developers, which gives developers analytics about the app along with network-related performance issue alerts. This is information that also helps PacketZoom understand the vagaries of the device/network connection and the kinds of problems that occur as the app interacts with the network.

The company has a second product, Mobile Expresslane from which it earns revenue. It promises to optimize the app delivery and downloads content 2-3 times faster, while reducing network errors. Developers pay-per-volume pricing for this product.

One way they do this, Gian says, is by eliminating a lot of the errors related to network timeouts. The TCP network protocol was designed to slow down traffic when it saw congestion on the network, a perfectly logical approach when it was created, but not so much in a mobile context. “On wireless, you always lose packets, so we let the server know it didn’t receive a packet and it will do it on the next round,” Gian explained.

He says this helps eliminate a lot of the network errors related to timeouts, which can happen frequently on mobile as you switch from WiFi to cellular or move between mobile networks.

The company started in 2013 and it took several years to build the product, which was released in 2016. They got their seed round in 2015 before securing the Series A they are announcing today.

In the 18 months since they launched the first product, the company has 68 paying customers including Sephora, Glu Mobile and East Side Games.

The funding round comes on the heels of Cloudflare buying Neumob, one of PacketZoom’s competitors earlier this month.

Featured Image: PeopleImages/Getty Images

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Uber data breach “raises huge concerns”, says UK watchdog

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The fallout from Uber’s disclosure yesterday of a massive data breach affecting 57 million users and drivers that it concealed for a year continues: The UK’s data protection watchdog has put out a strongly worded statement saying the company’s announcement “raises huge concerns around its data protection policies and ethics”.

It has also warned that deliberately concealing breaches from regulators and citizens “could attract higher fines”.

It’s not yet clear exactly how many UK Uber users have been directly affected by the October 2016 breach — although Uber disclosed yesterday that some international users are affected.

At the time of writing the company has not responded to requests for a more detailed breakdown of which markers are affected by the breach, including whether UK Uber users’ data was compromised.

In a blog post yesterday Uber said that “some personal information of 57 million Uber users around the world” had been in the files downloaded by hackers, including “names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers”.

“Our outside forensics experts have not seen any indication that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were downloaded,” it added.

The UK regulator’s remarks are a clear warning shot for a company that has already been censured by a US federal agency on data security and privacy grounds — agreeing in August to 20 years of privacy audits by the FTC to settle a probe into privacy and security complaints that pre-date this new and larger data breach.

The comments are also significant because Uber is currently appealing a decision this September by London’s transport regulator to strip it of its license to operate in the UK capital. (Though it can, and is, continuing to operate in the city during the appeals process.)

Among Transport for London’s cited concerns for withdrawing licensing from Uber is its approach to explaining its use of internal software, Greyball — which Uber used in the US to try to monitor and block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to its app, in an attempt to sidestep regulators and law enforcement agencies. Earlier this year the DoJ was reported to be investigating Uber’s use of Greyball.

It is also facing a string of other federal probes relating to various aspects of its business operations.

Here’s the full statement on the Uber breach from ICO deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone:

Uber’s announcement about a concealed data breach last October raises huge concerns around its data protection policies and ethics.

It’s always the company’s responsibility to identify when UK citizens have been affected as part of a data breach and take steps to reduce any harm to consumers. If UK citizens were affected then we should have been notified so that we could assess and verify the impact on people whose data was exposed.

We’ll be working with the NCSC plus other relevant authorities in the UK and overseas to determine the scale of the breach, how it has affected people in the UK and what steps need to be taken by the firm to ensure it fully complies with its data protection obligations.

Deliberately concealing breaches from regulators and citizens could attract higher fines for companies.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of the GCHQ domestic intelligence agency, has also put out a statement about the Uber breach, in which it says: “Companies should always report any cyber attacks to the NCSC immediately. The more information a company shares in a timely manner, the better able we are to support them and prevent others falling victim.”

The agency also notes that it’s working closely with the UK’s National Crime Agency and the ICO to investigate “how this breach has affected people in the UK and advise on appropriate mitigation measures”.

“Based on current information, we have not seen evidence that financial details have been compromised,” the NCSC adds.

Featured Image: TechCrunch

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Apple is using teenagers to make its most expensive iPhone

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File photo: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

File photo: Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

Apple manufacturers in China have been illegally employing high schoolers to make the company’s red-hot iPhone X.

Foxconn has brought on 3,000 students from the Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to assemble the smartphone as it works to make up ground following severe production delays, according to a Tuesday report in the Financial Times.

The students, who range in age from 17 to 19, have reportedly been required to work at the plants in order to complete a “work experience” graduation requirement. They regularly work 11-hour days, which violates Chinese labor laws for student interns.

“We are being forced by our school to work here,” one student, who was made to assemble 1,200 iPhone X cameras a day, told the FT. “This work has nothing to do with our studies.”

Both Apple and Foxconn acknowledged that they were aware of the students working overtime, and said they were investigating the matter. Apple, however, insisted that “the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits.”

The iPhone X was plagued with rumors of production delays in the months leading up to its launch, and has been hard to come by in the month since.

The smartphone, which features the first-ever OLED display in an iPhone as well as facial recognition technology, is currently back-ordered by 2 to 3 weeks on Apple’s website.

This story originally appeared in the New York Post.

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Facebook’s ad system shown failing to enforce its own anti-discriminatory policy

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Can Facebook be trusted to abide by even its own stated standards? In the case of Internet political advertising the social giant wants to be allowed to continue to self regulate — despite the scandal of Russian bought socially divisive ads which (we now know) were tainting democratic discussion during the 2016 US presidential election (and beyond).

Don’t regulate us, we can regulate ourselves — honest!‘ is shaping up to be CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s massively moonshot new year project for 2018.

But results from a new ProPublica investigation suggest the tech giant is failing at even simple self-policing — undermining any claims it can responsibly manage the bad and even out-and-out illegal outcomes that are being enabled via its platform, and bolstering the case for more formal regulation.

Case in point: A year ago Facebook said it would disable ethnic affinity ad targeting for housing, employment and credit-related ads, following a ProPublica investigation that had suggested the platform’s ad-targeting capabilities could be used for discriminatory advertising — particularly in housing and employment, where such practices are illegal.

This month ProPublica checked in again, to see how Facebook is doing — by purchasing dozens of rental housing ads and asking that Facebook’s ad platform exclude groups that are protected from discrimination under the US Federal Fair Housing Act — such as African Americans and Jews.

Its test ads promoted a fictional apartment for rent, targeted at people aged 18 to 65 who were living in New York, house hunting and likely to move — with ProPublica narrowing the audience by excluding certain “Behaviors”, listed in a section Facebook now calls “Multicultural Affinity”, including “Hispanic”, “African American” and “Asian American”.

However instead of the platform blocking the potentially discriminatory ad buys, ProPublica reports that all its ads were approved by Facebook “within minutes” — including an ad that sought to exclude potential renters “interested in Islam, Sunni Islam and Shia Islam”. It says that ad took the longest to approve of all its buys (22 minutes) — but that all the rest were approved within three minutes.

It also successfully bought ads that it judged Facebook’s system should at least flag for self-certification because they were seeking to exclude other members of protected categories. But the platform just accepted housing ads blocked from being shown to categories including ‘soccer moms’, people interested in American sign language, gay men and people interested in wheelchair ramps.

Yet, back in February, Facebook announced new “stronger” anti-discriminatory ad polices, saying it was deploying machine learning tech tools to help it identify ads in the categories of concern.

“We’ve updated our policies to make our existing prohibition against discrimination even stronger. We make it clear that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition,” it wrote then.

Of the new tech tools, Facebook said: “This will allow us to more quickly provide notices and educational information to advertisers — and more quickly respond to violations of our policy.”

Explaining how the new system would work, Facebook said advertisers who attempt to show “an ad that we identify as offering a housing, employment or credit opportunity” and which “either includes or excludes our multicultural advertising segments — which consist of people interested in seeing content related to the African American, Asian American and US Hispanic communities” will find the platform disapproves the ad.

The new system would also require all advertisers that attempt to buy targeted advertising in the categories of concern to self-certify they are complying with Facebook’s anti-discrimination policies and with “applicable anti-discrimination laws”.

ProPublica says it never even encountered these self-certification screens, as well as never having any of its ad buys blocked.

“Under its own policies, Facebook should have flagged these ads, and prevented the posting of some of them. Its failure to do so revives questions about whether the company is in compliance with federal fair housing rules, as well as about its ability and commitment to police discriminatory advertising on the world’s largest social network,” it writes.

Responding to ProPublica’s findings, Facebook sent a statement attributed to Ami Vora, VP of product management, in which she concedes its system failed in this instance. “This was a failure in our enforcement and we’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments. The rental housing ads purchased by ProPublica should have but did not trigger the extra review and certifications we put in place due to a technical failure,” said Vora.

She went on to claim Facebook’s anti-discrimination system had “successfully flagged millions of ads” in the credit, employment and housing categories — but also said Facebook will now begin requiring self-certification for ads in all categories that choose to exclude an audience segment.

“Our systems continue to improve but we can do better,” she added.

The latter phrase is now a very familiar refrain from Facebook where content review and moderation is concerned. Aside from socially divisive political disinformation, it has faced growing criticism this year for enabling the spread of content such as extremist propaganda and child exploitation, as well as for multiple incidents of its tools being used to broadcast suicides and murders.

The wider question for governments and regulators is at what point will Facebook’s attempts to ‘do better’ be deemed just not good enough?

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Android phones ‘betray’ user location to Google

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Mobile phone in front of a phone mastImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Mobile phone masts transmit a unique address

A majority of Android smartphones collect location data and send it back to Google, even when location services are switched off.

News website Quartz reported Android phones gathered information about nearby mobile phone masts and shared those details with Google.

One privacy advocate described the finding as a “betrayal” of users.

Google told Quartz the information was never stored and it said Android would be updated to stop the practice.

The issue affected Android phones with Google Play Services running in the background. Google Play Services are required to access many of the search giant’s apps and the framework is pre-installed on a majority of Android smartphones targeted at consumers.

Quartz found that the smartphones were scooping up phone mast addresses – a string of data used to identify individual masts – and sending them back to Google.

The data could be used to work out a person’s position.

The phones did so even when location services were switched off in the settings menu and even when there was no Sim card in the phone.

There was no option to disable the practice.

‘Discarded’

Google said it had been collecting the tower addresses for 11 months “as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery”.

“We never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded,” it said in a statement.

Online rights group Privacy International said the finding showed people had “little control” over what smartphones did in the background.

“When we buy a smartphone, we don’t expect it to betray us,” said Millie Graham Wood, a solicitor for Privacy International.

“While Google states in this instance it will stop the practice, this raises the question of what else it is doing beyond the knowledge of the user, and why.”

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Announcing our Disrupt Berlin Hackathon judges and the third release of free hack tickets

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The third time could be the charm if you haven’t yet scored your free tickets to the Disrupt Berlin Hackathon. Today, we’ve released a third batch of tickets to the most exciting, grueling, 24-hour test of a developer’s chops. Tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis, so get your tickets now before they’re gone for good.

The Hackathon takes place on December 2-3, the weekend preceding the full Disrupt Berlin conference. Picture it; hundreds of developers and engineers throughout Europe and beyond will descend on Berlin, form teams and spend 24 hours creating, coding and hacking their way to a completely new, cool or potentially life-changing product.

Competitors get one hour to form teams, and the Hackathon kicks off at 1:30 pm on Saturday. Teams have until 9:30 the following morning to complete their project. Check out the complete Hackathon schedule (all times are CET). Finally, each team gets a mere 60 seconds on the Disrupt stage to impress a panel of judges. No pressure!

Speaking of judges here’s who you’ll need to impress:

Sabela Garcia Cuesta, Program Manager, Next Media Accelerator

Sabela Garcia Cuesta works at next media accelerator (NMA) in Hamburg providing early stage media startups a place to grow fast and scale in Europe entering first the German market. As program manager she represents NMA in Germany and abroad spreading the program’s benefits for European and Israeli startups, scouting potential applicants for the program and mingling with media executives and investors. She also guides the teams once they have come to Germany to help them reach their objectives.

Tina Egolf, CPO, Clue

Tina Egolf leads pirate ships (aka product teams). As Clue’s CPO she is currently defining the global product strategy and building the product, growth and monetisation teams for Clue, the #1 mobile app for female health worldwide. Before joining Clue, she took a detour into consulting with ThoughtWorks, worked for Podio as Senior Product Manager, founded and failed with her own startup and sold contemporary art. She also blogs about “future of work” and coordinates the Hamburg Geekettes, a network for women in the tech and startup scene.

Susanne Kaiser, CTO, just.social

As the CTO at Just Software, Susanne Kaiser is responsible for the software development of JUST SOCIAL – providing apps for collaboration and communication in organizations. She has a background in computer sciences and a technical and entrepreneurial expertise for more than 15 years. She is also a public speaker on international tech stages.

Diana Knodel, CEO & founder, App Camps

Diana Knodel is the founder and CEO of App Camps (appcamps.de), a non-profit that brings coding and digital skills into the classroom. With a background in computer science, psychology and educational research she worked in academia and the IT industry as a software engineer, product manager and team lead. In 2016 Diana was appointed as guest professor and lecturer at Technical University of Berlin, teaching future educators about coding and CS in the classroom. Diana is an ambassador for the Hamburg Geekettes and brings together aspiring and established female tech innovators. Edition F and D64 named her as one of the 25 leading women in Germany for the digital future.

Lisa Lang, CEO & founder, Electroculture

In now more than 10 years into her technology and media career, Lisa Lang has gained a strong reputation for being a game-changer in digital product and media innovation. She has founded ElektroCouture in 2014, a collaborative house for bespoke technologies. Lisa is a mentor to several European hardware Startups, and has been named one of the top 100 most influential people in wearable tech worldwide.

Ina Wagner, Head of student relations, CODE

There’s no shortage of reasons to participate. You’ll push and expand your skills, connect with like-minded coders from around the world and be amazed and inspired by the creativity of your coding colleagues. Need an example of what a focused group of coders can build in less than 24 hours? A team of high school juniors at the Disrupt NY ‘17 Hackathon created reVIVE, a VR tool that helps both diagnosis and treat ADHD — and they took home the grand prize.

And speaking of the grand prize, the winning team gets $5,000 (and serious bragging rights). Everyone gets the chance to win gadgets, toys and other monetary prizes. Oh, you also get to chow down on midnight pizza and beer.

Here’s yet one more great reason to get hacking; every team that scores three or more points from the judges receives two free tickets to attend the full Disrupt Berlin conference on December 4-5.

Yup, ace your presentation and you get to experience all the techie goodness that Disrupt has to offer (for free): titans of tech speaking from the main stage, Startup Battlefield, Startup Alley, Off the Record sessions, serious networking and the best after-parties anywhere.

The time is what we like to call Now O’clock. Get your tickets today and bring your creativity, your mad skills and your best ideas to the Disrupt Berlin Hackathon.

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Queen’s launches cyber-security hub

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Wi-fi security graphicImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Some of the research will focus on how we can keep hackers out of our homes

A £5m research institute to help improve hardware security is being launched at Queen’s University.

The project will tackle cyber threats in smart technology.

One focus will be on how to keep hackers out of our homes: Everything from Wi-Fi kettles to network-connected cars are potential targets for hackers.

An increase in the use of smart devices means there are now many new attack methods and surfaces for criminals and hackers to exploit.

Recent attacks against personal computers, mobile devices and smart meters have posed serious security and privacy issues.

Counterfeit devices are also an issue, which could lead to cloned hardware giving hackers opportunities to exploit security weaknesses.

The Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) at Queen’s is one of four cyber security institutes in the UK, and will be a global hub for research and innovation in hardware security over the next five years.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionRory Cellan-Jones discovers how a kettle could put you at risk from hackers

It will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

One of its aims is to bring together the UK’s hardware security community and build a network of national and international research partnerships.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionConnected toys could also put your personal security at risk

“We will also work closely with leading UK-based industry partners and stakeholders, transforming research findings into products, services and business opportunities, which will benefit the UK economy,” said RISE director Prof O’Neill.

A leading cryptography expert at Queen’s, Prof O’Neill was selected to head the institute after a competitive call in March by EPSRC and NCSC for a new hardware security research institute.

Based at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s, Prof O’Neill will work towards increasing the nation’s academic capability in all fields of hardware security.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTechnology explained: What is the internet of things?

RISE will tackle the global problem of cyber threats through four initial projects, led by UK research partners from Queen’s University, and the universities of Cambridge, Bristol and Birmingham.

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Ten years on: Seedcamp outs new £41M seed fund and says it’s ready to invest in tokens

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“The maturity of founders is just exponentially better and different from when we started in ‘07,” says Seedcamp co-founder and Managing Partner Reshma Sohoni. “[They are] so much more knowledgeable, so much more practiced in the art of starting up”.

I’m on a conference call with Sohoni, Seedcamp’s other Managing Partner Carlos Espinal, and three additional members of the Seecamp team. All are sounding buoyant, and perhaps with every reason to be so. The London-based VC firm recently sold its first two funds to Draper Esprit, and today is announcing the first close of a new £41 million fund, double the size of its last. This year the VC is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary.

Yes, a whole decade has passed since Seedcamp launched what was then the first pan-European accelerator, at times almost singlehandedly dragging the disparate European startup community into the same room. In those ten years, the pre-seed and seed investor has backed over 250 early-stage companies, most notably TransferWise, and has seen 22 exits in total. The Seedcamp model has also had to iterate considerably as the ecosystem has grown up around it.

“While what we were offering worked well with the ambitions of ten years ago, you have to evolve your offering to meet the ambitions of today,” says Sohoni.

No longer an accelerator, applications for pre-seed funding are accepted on a rolling basis. With this fourth fund, Seedcamp will be writing bigger cheques, too. It will invest £100,000 into startups at pre-seed stage and can anchor a round of up to £250,000 as it brings in other angel investors.

At seed stage, Seedcamp will now invest up to £400,000 in rounds of up to £2 million as part of a syndicate where there is already a lead investor. A significant pot of capital is also earmarked for follow-on rounds up to Series B, as the pan-European firm looks to have a bigger stake in the game.

“Everything we’ve built up has been around getting a company from that first round of funding to that very, very strong next round,” explains Seedcamp Investment Partner Tom Wilson. “By unlocking a slightly larger cheque at the very, very earliest stage, we think it will allow the companies to get to that next round in an even stronger position”.

The maturity of the wider investor landscape has also changed over the years, notes Espinal, not least in how in how investors seek out startups right across the continent. “When Seedcamp started 10 years ago we were bringing together the community for the first time across Europe,” he says. “And over the years so much has changed. We have these huge events now — Web Summit, Slush, TechCrunch Disrupt. That means we are now tapping into more mature networks of angels and investors in all different geographies.”

That is perhaps reflected in the list of Seedcamp’s LPs for ‘Fund IV’. The U.K. government-backed British Business Bank is the anchor LP, and is joined by the likes of MassMutual Ventures, Investec, Thomas Cook Money, Index Ventures, Atomico, Idinvest Partners, ADV, Draper Esprit, SpeedInvest, and Underscore Ventures. In total, the list comprises 60 corporates, VC firms, and ‘fund of funds’.

In addition, Seecamp has seen first-hand how the infrastructure in Europe for startups has matured, including Europe’s understanding of what it takes to make a successful company. “That means we’re bringing these bits together more and more instead of having to create them ourselves. We see that even in geographies we’ve invested in. We were the first to invest in Portugal, for example, and now that’s a blossoming ecosystem. We’ve done that for Estonia. So much has changed and as a consequence we’ve evolved with it,” adds Espinal.

Of course, competition among investors has also increased exponentially, even if the number and quality of entrepreneurs has arguably kept up. I wonder out loud how Seedcamp positions itself now it is far from the only value-add European investor at the pre-seed and seed stage.

“I think one of the main benefits with Seedcamp is our network: the fact that we’ve invested in over 250 companies over 10 years,” says Wilson. “For the founders we work with, access and tapping into that network has been hugely, hugely valuable for them as they’re sharing experiences. We feel that’s an unfair advantage which any founder gets by receiving investment from Seedcamp”.

Sohoni goes even further, arguing that Seedcamp is a “startup economy” in its own right, in which portfolio companies can find their first users and customers amongst each other. “We are literally a functioning economy… with 250 and adding another 100 companies over the next 2-3 years,” she says. “Whether on the B2C side, they’re often the first 500 or 1,000 users, or on the B2B side, the first 10 or 20 or 50 customers, and they unlock an even greater economy of startups that are in our LPs’ portfolios. Getting that privileged access to this startup economy is unrivalled”.

Seecamp isn’t standing still, however, and there are no obvious signs of complacency. As it continues to hunt Europe for the best early-stage tech entrepreneurs, it isn’t being shy of new places or ways to invest in them. This — in what is bound to grab headlines — includes getting permission from LPs to invest in crypto tokens.

“It’s clear the community is really keen on using tokens as a way of fundraising and we’re just getting ahead of the game,” says Espinal. “I think we are the only LP/GP fund that has explicit permission to invest in crypto and tokens and we want to use that as a mechanism to back the next generation of decentralised companies”.

That, I propose, sounds fraught with risk, given that we seem to be in somewhat of a crypto bubble, including a number of alleged scams, and it is far from clear what makes a successful Initial Coin Offering, either from an investment or company point of view. The Seedcamp General Partner bats away my scepticism and says it’s important to separate coin investments that are currently grabbing headlines with the investment structure itself.

“For us as investors, what we need to be mindful of is separating opportunities with structures that benefit companies. We’re going to be having a keen eye on things that match our investment criteria but we’re going to be very open to any structure that is cutting edge if it benefits the company and gives us a return,” he says.

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New York attorney general slams the FCC for ignoring net neutrality comments investigation

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If the FCC’s refusal to acknowledge the vast public outcry against its plan to gut net neutrality isn’t enough of an outrage, its total disinterest in investigating how that same comment system may have been gamed by fake users posing as real Americans adds a bit more insult to injury.

Suspicions arose earlier this year that a person or an organization of some kind was manipulating the FCC feedback system, flooding it with canned anti-net neutrality comments. While form letters around activist causes like this are nothing new, many of those comments were linked to real names, addresses and zip codes of people who denied having ever left feedback on the FCC website. In an open letter on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote that his office pursued an investigation of the incident, but that the FCC basically ignored all of its requests for cooperation.

In a Medium post, Schneiderman writes:

“Successfully investigating this sort of illegal conduct requires the participation of the agency whose system was attacked. So in June 2017, we contacted the FCC to request certain records related to its public comment system that were necessary to investigate which bad actor or actors were behind the misconduct. We made our request for logs and other records at least 9 times over 5 months: in June, July, August, September, October (three times), and November.

We reached out for assistance to multiple top FCC officials, including you, three successive acting FCC General Counsels, and the FCC’s Inspector General. We offered to keep the requested records confidential, as we had done when my office and the FCC shared information and documents as part of past investigative work.

Yet we have received no substantive response to our investigative requests. None.”

Likening the manipulation of real names and addresses to more traditional forms of identity theft, Schneiderman expresses concerns about how the fake comments could have warped the FCC’s assessment of public sentiment on net neutrality.

“In an era where foreign governments have indisputably tried to use the internet and social media to influence our elections, federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors cannot subvert our administrative agencies’ decision-making processes,” Schneiderman said.

Earlier this year, at least two journalists filed lawsuits against the FCC for its failure to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests on the same topic, one of which sought information about the FCC’s claims that a DDoS attack took its commenting system offline. While the fate of net neutrality may be something of a foregone conclusion at this point, the agency’s brazen lack of transparency around its commenting system shows just how little regard Ajit Pai’s FCC has for the concerns of the American people.

Featured Image: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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