When serial entrepreneur Ilya Pozin and his co-founder Tom Ryan launched Pluto TV in 2014, the idea went against the grain. The future of online entertainment looked like it would be mostly on-demand, subscription-based, and ad-free--à la Netflix or Hulu. Meanwhile, Pluto TV would stream over 100 channels of live cable TV for free--no sign-up required--and use ads to make money. (The startup later added on-demand content.) Five years later, Pozin and Ryan's bet is paying off. In January, Viacom agreed to acquire Los Angeles-based Pluto TV for $340 million in cash. Having mainly operated in the U.S., the acquisition will give Pluto TV access to Viacom's massive library of content and the opportunity to expand faster internationally, chief growth officer Pozin told Inc. Viacom, composed of networks like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, has more than 700 million subscribers and operates in over 160 countries. Going global while maintaining a lead in the U.S. is not easy, as it requires more resources and unique content, Pozin admits. Pluto TV had raised $50 million in funding to date and has 12 million monthly active users.
This Entrepreneur Started a Streaming Service So He Could Find Decent Shows for His 2-Year-Old. Five Years Later, Viacom Bought It for $340 Million
Allbirds Is Headed to China with a Partnership with Alibaba
Allbirds Inc., the wool shoe startup that’s become a staple of Silicon Valley fashion, is opening its first stores in China, aiming to replicate its viral success in the world’s second-largest economy. San Francisco-based Allbirds plans to announce this week that it will open a brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in the coming months. By the end of the year, it plans to have stores in Beijing and Chengdu. It will also be rolling out its goods on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall online shopping website as well as building its presence on Chinese social media services including WeChat and Weibo.
The $95 Sneakers Barack Obama Wore to the Duke-UNC Game
One of the things about being a president of the United States is that everyone cares about everything you do for the rest of your life. Wherever you go, whomever you talk to, whatever you're wearing—the people need to know. Take former president Barack Obama, for example, who went to the Duke-UNC game this week. The internet damn near lost its mind at the sight of his very stylish Rag & Bone bomber, which was embroidered with a custom "44" to flex on his leader-of-the-free-world experience. Who needs a letterman jacket, you know? But the bomber wasn't the only thing of note Obama was wearing. He was also wearing a pair of knit Allbirds sneakers.
Why Acorns is one of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2019
“Don’t make people do the math,” says Noah Kerner, CEO of digital-investment pioneer Acorns, which is on a mission to help people squirrel away money as effortlessly as possible. The company launched in 2014 with a product that rounds up users’ daily purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically puts the difference into investment accounts; a growing stable of brand partners (320 and counting) offer further contributions for qualifying purchases. Last year, Acorns began offering its 4.2 million users the ability to open an IRA, along with a checking account and debit card that link to the company’s investment products. It also redesigned its app to help users better visualize the impact of all those saved dollars and cents.
Affinity raises $26.5 million to manage relationships with machine learning
Relationships are a tricky thing — and particularly fraught in the enterprise world, where the right connection or second-degree contact can make the difference in a high-stakes deal. That’s why almost five years ago, Stanford grads Ray Zhou and Shubham Goel cofounded Affinity, a San Francisco startup developing what they describe as a “relationship intelligence” platform. Unlike some relationship management products on the market, Affinity is entirely automatic — it dispenses with manual data entry in favor of an AI-driven, automated approach. Toward that end, Goel and Zhou say it’s helped to identify over three million “warm introductions” in networks and auto-populated over 300 million data fields with relevant contact information. And it’s just getting started.
Amazon is acquiring home Wi-Fi start-up Eero
Amazon said on Monday that it's acquiring Eero, a developer of internet routers that can be easily connected in the home. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. It's Amazon's latest push into the smart home, following the acquisition of video doorbell maker Ring last year for $1 billion. Amazon's primary home device is its own Echo smart speaker, powered by Alexa. In the router market, Google has a competing product called Google Wifi. Apple discontinued AirPort home routers last year, and Cisco sold Linksys to Belkin in 2013. Netgear stock was down as much as 5 percent after hours following the announcement.
2019 Fintech 50: The Future Of Payments
Here are the 12 payments companies that made the Forbes Fintech 50 in 2019: Bolt, San Francisco Its mobile-ready checkout software for ecommerce sites incorporates sales analysis and fraud prevention, topped by a guarantee to cover any fraud losses. Bolt claims the integrated functions can cut checkout times from more than one minute to 30 seconds. In the year since its early 2018 launch, it has grown from 10 to 75 employees. Funding: $20 million from Founders Fund, Great Oaks Capital and others
By Humankind picks up $4M to rid your morning routine of single-use plastic
Single-use plastics are the scourge of the environment, which is why many lawmakers are working to eliminate them. Today, a new brand is launching to try and eliminate single-use plastic in the area of personal care. With $4 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau (with participation from Red Sea Ventures, BoxGroup, SV Angel, Great Oaks, SoulCycle Co-founder Elizabeth Cutler, and CPO of Adobe, Scott Belsky, among others), By Humankind offers deodorant, shampoo and mouthwash. But unlike your typical personal care products, the By Humankind portfolio products are rethought from the ground up to eliminate single-use plastic and be kind to the environment.
This new personal care company ditches single-use plastic for refillable containers
On a trip to Thailand in 2017, serial entrepreneur Brian Bushell went diving for the first time and expected that the water would be pristine. Instead, it was filled with trash. “We were about to dive off the back of the boat, and all of the sudden we’re surrounded by junk plastic containers,” he says. That night, he went back to his hotel room and looked at the products he had sitting on the bathroom counter. “I realized that I was part of the problem.” Bushell, who had recently left Baked by Melissa, the chain of successful New York City-area cupcake bakeries he cofounded, started researching the challenge of plastic waste. “We learned that a third of all the single-use plastic products in landfills are personal care products,” he says. “So we decided that personal care was really an important nut to crack.” With cofounder Joshua Goodman, he started working on Humankind, a new line of personal care products that launched today. Each product eliminates single-use packaging.
MakerSights Raises $3.1M in Funding
MakerSights, a San Francisco, CA-based product decision platform for retail, raised $3.1m in funding. Backers included: – Steve Anderson, founder of Baseline Ventures; – Hayley Barna, partner at First Round Capital; – Bill McComb, former CEO of Kate Spade and Lucky Brand; – Elizabeth Spaulding, senior partner at Bain & Company; and – Jeff Epstein, operating partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. Led by Dan Leahy, co-founder and CEO, MakerSights provides a product decision platform for retail. Its AI-driven technology partners with product teams to support informed decision-making at every stage of the creation and go-to-market process, from ideation to line planning and sell-in.
This new credit card helps build a credit score for people who don’t have one
In his home country of Ecuador, Andres Mosquera felt pretty good about his finances. Mosquera, who has a master’s degree in business education, had two credit cards with a combined limit equal to around $20,000, and he never had any trouble paying them off. But around nine months ago, the 27-year-old moved to Long Island, New York, with his wife for a job in the insurance industry, and shortly after, they had their first child. Given his strong financial background in Ecuador, Mosquera figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to get a new credit card in the U.S. That turned out to not be the case. Like many new immigrants, Mosquera quickly learned that his financial track record in Ecuador would not help him in the U.S.; from the perspective of the banks he applied to in New York, he had no credit history. “It was like starting all over again,” he says. To start building credit, Mosquera could only qualify for secured cards, which came with limits of around $200 or $300–nowhere near enough for a flight home, should he need one.
RigUp secures $60M to fuel the growth of its marketplace
Continuing a fiery month of funding for Austin tech, local oil and gas technology startup RigUp raised a $60 million Series C on Tuesday. RigUp’s marketplace connects oil and gas contractors with on-demand jobs available in their industry. The company reported that pre-qualified oilfield laborers can land their next job within just a few days of registering on RigUp’s platform. Its technology adds value to both enterprise buyers and contractors by making the process to hire contingent labor much faster and easier. “Operators enjoy the simplicity, speed and transparency we provide — contractors enjoy the ease of finding work and getting paid quickly,” said Yong.