Tag Archives: Mobile Trends

BMW-backed car rental startup raises $10 million in Series A round

Skurt

Skurt, a Los Angeles-based on-demand car rental company, secured $10 million in funding in its Series A round announced on Tuesday.

Upfront Ventures led the round, with BMW making what Skurt called a strategic investment in the platform.

Founded in 2015, Skurt gives iOS and Android users the ability to rent a car and have it delivered within an hour, the company said in a press release.

The company says it has delivered tens of thousands of cars so far and has expanded its services to San Diego and Miami.

Audi, a BMW rival, made a similar strategic investment in the on-demand rental app Silvercar last year, pouring $28 million into the company. Silvercar rents only silver Audi A4s. It is not yet clear whether BMW will similarly provide vehicles to Skurt, though both Audi and BMW are close rivals and are deeply invested in broadening their reach in the consumer market.

SEE ALSO: Snapchat has a huge problem with Android, and it’s causing investors to worry

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NOW WATCH: Apple was supposed to move into its new $5 billion campus in January — here’s what it looks like right now


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Ad tech company Rubicon Project's president Greg Raifman is leaving along with 6 other top execs (RUBI)

greg raifman

Rubicon Project’s president Greg Raifman is leaving the company as part of a leadership team restructuring that will see six other executives leave the ad tech company.

In an email to employees, seen by Business Insider, Rubicon Project CEO Frank Addante explained that the reorganization finalized a streamlining process that the company announced on November 2, when it said it was reducing 19% of its total headcount — affecting around 125 people.

Raifman, who has been part of the company’s leadership team since 2013, will remain on Rubicon Project’s board of directors.

A spokesman for the company declined to confirm the names of the other departing members of the senior leadership team or comment any further on the reasons for the restructuring.

Sale speculation

Addante said in the email: “Our business is strong and I am confident that this organizational structure will enable the company to be more agile, and allow us to benefit from greater scale and collaboration with our customers. These changes will allow us to better focus our efforts and I’m looking forward to the year ahead. I’ll follow up shortly with more information on the new go-forward leadership structure.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported in January that Rubicon Project had appointed investment bank Morgan Stanley to explore the company’s strategic options, including a potential sale. The news was confirmed by Business Insider sources, although Rubicon Project has declined to comment on the appointment.

The departure of so many senior members of the Rubicon Project leadership team could signal that the company is lining itself up for a sale.

Perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), Rubicon Project also recently updated the “leadership team” section of its website to only include its board directors, and removing most members of the day-to-day management team, aside from Raifman and Addante.

The strong rumor currently swirling the ad tech community is that Rubicon Project is in talks to be acquired by a private equity company and taken off the public markets that have been so harsh to ad tech companies. Often, after companies sell to private equity firms, the majority of the senior management team leave the business.

Rubicon Project declined to comment on these rumors.

The company is due to report its fourth-quarter earnings in the next couple of weeks, although it has yet to confirm the exact date of the announcement. Public companies tend to coincide big announcements with their earnings reports. Sources told Business Insider the earnings announcement will come on February 28, although that was not confirmed by the company.

In Rubicon Project’s third quarter, the company reported a 2% increase in revenue to $65.8 million, beating analysts’ expectations of $62.9 million. Earnings-per-share, however, came below analysts’ estimates — at $0.07, versus expectations of $0.09.

The company also lowered its guidance for the fourth quarter, blaming a “challenging” ad market and admitting it had been slow to adopt header bidding, a popular new advertising technology that is boosting revenue for publishers.

The ad tech firm has had a tumultuous few months. In January, Rubicon Project said it was closing down the division it created following its $122 million acquisition of “intent marketing” company Chango in 2015, after its performance did not meet expectations. Separately, Business Insider also confirmed Rubicon Project had shut down a product associated with its 2014 acquisition of ShinyAds, a deal reported to be worth around $5 million.

Rubicon Project has also lost several key executives in the last few months including chief technology officer Neal RichterSVP of marketplace development Jay Sears, and its senior vice president of global technology partnerships Adam Chandler

Rubicon Project CEO Frank Addante’s email to employees in full:

“Team,
For the last 10 years, Rubicon Project has been singularly focused on automating, optimizing and monetizing the advertising market. In that time, we have built a technology platform that includes buyers and sellers of advertising for desktop display, mobile, video, digital out of home, audio, and more. What we have created is a Global Exchange Marketplace – one that allows publishers, application developers and advertisers to benefit from massive scale, increased demand from new markets and the opportunity to reach the more than one billion consumers through the Rubicon Project Exchange.

As an industry leader, we believe in always keeping our eyes firmly focused on what truly matters – our team and our customers. We are focusing on our core business strengths and mission which has resulted in a profitable business, with almost $200 million in cash on hand, and continued market share growth and success of the company for the past 10 years. As part of positioning ourselves for continued success we will be announcing the final step in our restructuring initiative—originally announced on November 2, 2016—which will further streamline operations, facilitate faster decision-making and enable the company to be more agile with innovation.

Today, we are announcing a management restructuring that involves the departure of seven executives from the company, including Greg Raifman who will be transitioning out of his operational role as president, but remaining on the Board of Directors.

Greg has been a vital member of the Rubicon Project leadership team since 2013 and has helped guide us to where we are today. Greg and I have been friends for nearly 20 years, and I look forward to continuing that personal relationship. Please join me in thanking Greg and the other departing executives for their many contributions.

Our business is strong and I am confident that this organizational structure will enable the company to be more agile, and allow us to benefit from greater scale and collaboration with our customers. These changes will allow us to better focus our efforts and I’m looking forward to the year ahead. I’ll follow up shortly with more information on the new go-forward leadership structure.

We remain confident that the strength of our premium technology platform and our Global Exchange Marketplace uniquely position us to win in the market and we expect these strengths to propel our business to stronger long term growth in 2017.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions that you may have.

Thank you,
Frank
#Focus”

SEE ALSO: Private equity firms keep gobbling up ad tech companies — and the trend shows no sign of slowing

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NOW WATCH: Watch Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad — it makes a strong statement on immigration

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Sneaky airline fees are getting worse, but this popular travel app wants to help you avoid them

Fair bear hopper

Travel app Hopper,which tells you when to book your flight to maximize savings, has rolled out a new feature to help you avoid getting smacked with hidden fees.

The basic premise of Hopper is that you set up what days you want to fly, and then Hopper sends you push notifications telling you how prices are changing, and recommending when you should buy. Then you can buy your flight directly in the app.

It’s been my go-to travel app for over a year, and I recently used it to book a one-way flight from San Francisco to New York for only $131.60 — cheap!

But my main gripe with Hopper has been that it’s not always clear which tickets are going to have potential fees associated with them. Now Hopper is trying to change that with a new feature, which will give you “an overview of all the restrictions and fees related to cancellations, changes, carry-on baggage, checked baggage, and seat selection.”

And as airlines continue to cut the base fares on flights by adding in sneaky fees, this will likely become more useful over time.

In conjunction with the new feature, Hopper also released a new report on the state of fees in the airline industry. Here’s a few of the things Hopper found: 

  • Big re-booking fees. “Cancellations are almost never allowed (99%) for domestic trips, but tickets can almost always (98.8%) be changed for a fee, which will cost you $287 on average.”
  • You’ll pay extra for bags. “Bags are no longer included and it’ll cost an average of $25 to bring one piece of luggage, or $59 for two pieces. As more airlines roll out basic fares, you’ll be expected to pay for your carry-on too. Frontier and Spirit both charge an average of $35 for carry-ons.”
  • International is a bit less crazy. “About two-thirds of international flights included at least one free bag, so that a trip with one piece of luggage adds only $9 with two pieces coming it at $55.”
  • But still. “About 10% of [international] itineraries offering cancellation for a fee which will cost you about $300. And, almost all (97.5%) international itineraries offer changes for about $250.”

Download the app on iTunes or Google Play.

SEE ALSO: Travel app Hopper is booking $1 million in flights per day

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NOW WATCH: Trump denounces wave of anti-Semitism as ‘horrible’ and ‘painful’

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Uber engineer responds to sexism scandal: 'This is everyone's problem'

Travis Kalanick

A sexism scandal has rocked Uber for the last two days after a former engineer published a lengthy blog post about her year at Uber. 

In her reflections, former engineer Susan Fowler said she was sexually harassed by her manager, ignored by HR, and was threatened by her manager for even reporting the alleged incidents. Uber’s CEO was swift to pledge an urgent investigation and reportedly issued a teary apology to his employees.

Now a female engineer at the company has spoken out as well — not to negate Fowler’s claims, but to remind everyone paying attention to the scandal unfold that this is a much bigger problem than just Uber.

I think this is disgusting and appalling and horrifying and yet I am not surprised at all,” wrote Aimee Lucido in a personal blog. “In fact, I’m most surprised at how surprised everyone else seems to be.”

Lucido said a large part of her didn’t want to go into work, knowing Fowler’s claims are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet, her post is a reminder that it’s not just Uber that needs work.

“This is everyone’s problem,” she said.

Lucido pointed to a survey called “Elephant in the Valley” that found that 60% of women in Silicon Valley reported unwanted sexual advances — 65% of those women receiving them specifically from a superior. 

“If people only take from this the fact that Uber’s HR department needs work, and the managers are assholes, and Uber needs to release its diversity statistics, then we are missing the point,” Lucido said. 

Instead, Lucido asks people to continue to spread Fowler’s story and listen to their colleagues. If they see something, they should say something.

“Without a doubt, this is a bad situation, and Uber has a lot to clean up. But this was a problem last week, and no matter how much we shouted about it, no one was listening,” Lucido said. “As you’re sitting there, reading this post, thanking your lucky stars that your company isn’t like this, remember that the contents of Susan’s post were surprising specifically because Uber employees didn’t think that it was a problem.”

SEE ALSO: Uber CEO launches ‘urgent investigation’ and sends company-wide memo after former engineer alleges sexual harassment

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NOW WATCH: Watch this Uber driver go through 236 consecutive green lights in NYC without stopping

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Hanging out at Snap’s unremarkable IPO roadshow

snapchat-bull One of the remarkable things about the roadshow presentations for hotly-anticipated IPOs — where they’ll make a pitch to investors and answer questions — is that they are often unremarkable.
That seemed about the same case for Snap, which was presenting to potential investors at the Mandarin Hotel in New York this afternoon. Over lunch, a packed ballroom 30 stories up at… Read More

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Users spent more on apps in 2016, with games and entertainment apps leading the way

revenue-per-iphone-2016-hero The amount of money U.S. users are spending on iPhone apps is steadily climbing, but one category in particular saw significant growth last year: Entertainment apps. The category – home to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO NOW – saw consumers’ average spending increase by 130 percent year-over-year, according to a new report from app intelligence firm Sensor… Read More

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INSIDE THE ROADSHOW: Snapchat just met with investors in New York and faced a tough set of questions

Snap Snapchat Logo

Snapchat executives in New York on Tuesday were peppered with questions about competition from Facebook, user growth for the disappearing-message app, and accessibility in less developed markets as they pitched investors on the company’s shares.

Snap Inc., as Snapchat’s parent company is known, is looking to raise as much as $3.2 billion in a much-anticipated initial public offering. The executives are traveling from London to San Francisco as they try and drum up interest in the sale. 

Tuesday’s meeting, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City’s Columbus Circle, drew a standing room only crowd that one investor described as “the entire hedge fund mafia.”

They ate sandwiches while Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, chief strategy officer Imran Khan, and CFO Drew Vollero answered questions from the crowd, according to people who attended the event.

The meeting lasted less than an hour and consisted entirely of a question and answer session. The company had already released an introductory video online on Friday. 

“There are 2.5 billion snaps created every day on our service,” Spiegel said, according to one investor present. “We have an interesting perspective on the world based on what people are seeing, and that’s where I’m spending most of my time today.”

Snap is seeking a valuation of between $19.5 and $22 billion. It aims to begin trading on March 2.

The questions were tough, according to one investor present. Here are the main takeaways from a handful of money managers who attended the roadshow. They all asked not to be identified.

  • Investors were concerned about how Snap would generate revenue (or monetize) its user based, and investors debated the issue, according to one source. Snap sold its first ad at the end of 2014, and grew revenues from $58.7 million in 2015 to $404.5 million in 2016. The company’s costs also came up. 
  • Many of the questions focused on the deceleration in the Snapchat app’s user growth in recent quarters.
  • In the fourth quarter, for example, Snap says it had 48% more users than a year earlier. That’s the slowest growth rate for any of the 12 quarters for which it reported numbers.
  • Investors were concerned about the story feature built by the Facebook-owned Instagram to compete with Snapchat’s stories, which is a way for users to post images or videos for up to 24 hours. Investors wanted to be sure that Instagram stories won’t affect Snap’s growth. 
  • Snap’s leadership team said they’re confident Facebook won’t affect its business. They also attributed slow growth in the fourth quarter to problems accessing the app from Android phones. They said Snap will develop Android at the same time as iOS to help alleviate issues with the app on Android phones.
  • Spiegel emphasized Snapchat’s high user engagement, pointing out that the 20-year-old cohort spends about 30 minutes a day on Snapchat, and that at the end of the day advertisers are concerned about that demographic.
  • Another questioner, however, raised concerns about the app’s young user base and how to expand beyond that cohort.
  • One concern arose regarding problems with the Snapchat app only working on 4G networks. The company says it is focused on expanding more in developed markets, like Norway, for example.
  • One fund manager in attendance said he was disappointed not to hear any discussion of the company’s corporate governance structure — specifically the issue of voting rights. 
  • The public shares Snap will be offering at IPO have no voting power — an unusual structure that could test the commitment of investors. The fund manager said that although this was his main concern going into the meeting, it wasn’t addressed.

One hedge fund investor told Business Insider that despite concerns raised, he is still looking to buy Snap shares. This investor said the valuation is a fair price. 

“It’s not that crazy when you think about the total adjustable market they’re trying to go after,” this person said, referring to the digital advertising market taking share from traditional broadcasters. 

SEE ALSO: Here’s why Snap is playing it safe with investors

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NOW WATCH: Grey Gardens — the famous subject of a documentary, HBO film, and Broadway musical — is on sale for nearly $20 million

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Hot travel app Hopper has a new way to help you avoid hidden airline fees

Fair bear hopper

Travel app Hopper,which tells you when to book your flight to maximize savings, has rolled out a new feature to help you avoid getting smacked with hidden fees.

The basic premise of Hopper is that you set up what days you want to fly, and then Hopper sends you push notifications telling you how prices are changing, and recommending when you should buy. Then you can buy your flight directly in the app.

It’s been my go-to travel app for over a year, and I recently used it to book a one-way flight from San Francisco to New York for only $131.60 — cheap!

But my main gripe with Hopper has been that it’s not always clear which tickets are going to have potential fees associated with them. Now Hopper is trying to change that with a new feature, which will give you “an overview of all the restrictions and fees related to cancellations, changes, carry-on baggage, checked baggage, and seat selection.”

And as airlines continue to cut the base fares on flights by adding in sneaky fees, this will likely become more useful over time.

In conjunction with the new feature, Hopper also released a new report on the state of fees in the airline industry. Here’s a few of the things Hopper found: 

  • Big re-booking fees. “Cancellations are almost never allowed (99%) for domestic trips, but tickets can almost always (98.8%) be changed for a fee, which will cost you $287 on average.”
  • You’ll pay extra for bags. “Bags are no longer included and it’ll cost an average of $25 to bring one piece of luggage, or $59 for two pieces. As more airlines roll out basic fares, you’ll be expected to pay for your carry-on too. Frontier and Spirit both charge an average of $35 for carry-ons.”
  • International is a bit less crazy. “About two-thirds of international flights included at least one free bag, so that a trip with one piece of luggage adds only $9 with two pieces coming it at $55.”
  • But still. “About 10% of [international] itineraries offering cancellation for a fee which will cost you about $300. And, almost all (97.5%) international itineraries offer changes for about $250.”

Download the app on iTunes or Google Play.

SEE ALSO: Travel app Hopper is booking $1 million in flights per day

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Trump denounces wave of anti-Semitism as ‘horrible’ and ‘painful’

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Internships aren't just for college kids anymore — companies from Goldman Sachs to General Motors are hiring interns mid-career

commuter hurry rush businessman

In 2008, Goldman Sachs launched a mid-career internship program: the “returnship.”

Since then, other major financial companies like MetLife, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, along with technology and engineering companies such as IBM and General Motors, have embraced the concept of the return internship.

A return internship, or re-entry program, is a temporary, mid-career internship meant to assist people who spent significant time out of the workforce — for childcare, to pursue a personal interest, or for personal health reasons — to gain the skills they need to return to work.

For companies, it’s a way to recruit highly qualified mid-career professionals, and for workers, it is a chance to get a foot in the hiring door.

Goldman Sachs’ 10-week, paid program offers highly qualified candidates opportunities to work in a variety of divisions and in a number of locations globally. The program is increasingly popular and competitive — The Atlantic reports that Goldman receives hundreds of applications for 20 or 30 spots per year, and half of its returnship participants go on to work full-time upon completion of the program.

Credit Suisse launched its own program in 2014. “Real Returns” is paid and runs for 12 weeks, and along with networking opportunities and training, the program offers mentorship and guidance from colleagues. You’ll find similar programs at JP Morgan Chase (“ReEntry“), Morgan Stanley (“Return to Work“), and MetLife (ACT2).

“Re-entry programs are proliferating because they work,” Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of career re-entry firm iRelaunch, told Business Insider via email. iRelaunch partnered with the Society of Women Engineers in 2015 to launch the STEM Reentry Task Force, which recruits tech and engineering professionals for internships. Since 2008, iRelaunch has organized the Return to Work Conference each year, which is sponsored by companies in order to meet “high-caliber returning professionals and get educated on the best practices for hiring relaunchers.”

What’s in it for companies? Cohen said companies use these internships as a “testing ground” which “lowers the perceived risk of engaging with the return-to-work pool. Not only can the company evaluate the intern based on an actual work sample instead of a series of interviews, but the company does not have to make the permanent hiring decision until the internship period is over.”

She also said the ‘relauncher’ demographic is broadening to include men who have taken leave to provide childcare, in addition to both women and men who have taken career breaks for reasons that have nothing to do with childcare: eldercare, pursuing a personal interest, or a personal health issue.

man work computerIt’s not just Wall Street offering return internships. IBM offers “Pathways Program for Experienced Technical Women” and General Motors offers “Take-2 Career,” which received roughly 400 applicants for 10 internship spots last year, as reported by The Atlantic.

In 2016, a nonprofit organization called Path Forward, a spin-off of the software company Return Path, launched a re-entry program which works with big tech companies to recruit professionals for internships. While open to men and women, the program actively targets women to recruit them into the tech industry. “These women are passionate, motivated, and hungry to get back to work,” Tami Forman, executive director of Path Forward, told Business Insider via email. “The opportunity for companies to tap into this pool of talent is really incredible.”

Forman said women are disproportionately penalized because they are more likely to take time off work. A 2014 poll by the New York Times, CBS News, and the Kaiser Family Foundation on nonworking adults ages 25 to 54 found that 61% of women stay home due to family responsibilities, compared to only 37% of nonworking men. Many women see re-entry programs as a way to rejoin and advance in the financial services and technology sectors. “That said, we have had a former stay-at-home dad in our program and we are very open to serving men who’ve taken a break from their career to focus on caregiving,” Forman said.

Path Forward has worked with 20 companies, including PayPal, Coursera, domain registrar company GoDaddy, and customer service software company Zendesk to recruit professionals to internship programs. This year’s participants will intern at AppNexus, an ad management software provider, and Quantcast, a digital marketing company, among others. Path Forward reports that more than 50 women have graduated from its re-entry programs and of those, 80% were hired by the companies they interned for and 90% are now employed.

The rate of interns who get hired full time after completing programs at Goldman Sachs, MetLife, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley has ranged from 50% to as high as 90% depending on the program and year, reported the International Business Times. The financial sector programs continue to expand domestically, internationally and across business lines.

The return internship seems to be working.

SEE ALSO: These charts show just how white and male Wall Street really is

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NOW WATCH: These guys have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world

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Intel's Atom is underwhelming no more: New chip packs 16 cores

Intel’s Atom was mostly known as a low-end chip for mobile devices that underperformed. That may not be the case anymore.

The latest Atom C3000 chips announced on Tuesday have up to 16 cores and are more sophisticated than ever. The chips are made for storage arrays, networking equipment, and internet of things devices.

The new chips have features found mostly in server chips, including networking, virtualization, and error correction features.

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