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Neo, a new "communal" venture fund by Ali Partovi, has closed with $80 million

  • Still, Partovi thinks he may have a special talent for identifying talent, and Neo’s investors must think he does, too, as evidenced by the fact that Neo just closed its debut fund with $80 million.
  • It’s also notably backed by Neo. But Jiang says that Partovi — with whom he had long discussions over the last year or so — didn’t talk about funding him but rather advised him as an individually.
  • Partovi says that Neo now counts roughly 30 “scholars” from across the U.S. and Canada, and that it has written 10 checks — some to people straight out of college, as with Jiang — and some to founders outside the Neo sphere of influence but who Partovi and Singer think are special in their own way — and who may eventually benefit from an introduction to someone in Neo’s world.

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Google Assistant's latest feature delivers just the 'good news'

  • The company today announced it’s testing a new Google Assistant feature called “Tell me something good” that will allow users to hear a summary of more uplifting news stories.
  • To activate the feature, Assistant users in the U.S. can say, “Hey Google, tell me something good” to kick off the daily briefing of happy stories.
  • The stories are selected and summarized by the nonpartisan nonprofit Solutions Journalism Network, an organization that helps train journalists to better cover how people are responding to problems and how those actions can have positive results.
  • The feature arrives at a time when many people are feeling overwhelmed by the news, much of which is negative and troubling.
  • A dose of good news from Google Assistant won’t solve these problems, as not everyone is aware of the cause of their stress and anxiety, nor will they seek out solutions to make themselves feel better.

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Innacurate Images of Colonial America Made by European Printmakers

  • During the 1770s and 1780s, German engravers Balthasar Friedrich Leizelt and Franz Xaver Habermann created a number of popular vues d'optique, a special kind of print designed to be viewed with an optical device called a zograscope that would make them appear three-dimensional.
  • While the majority of 18th century city views were ultimately derived from some type of manufactured source (be it a drawing, painting or print), what is peculiar about Leizelt and Habermann’s vues d’optique is that they borrow from preexisting views of European places and cities rather than views of the North American cities they were trying to represent.
  • Other vues d'optique that clearly show telltale signs of derivation include Habermann's view of a Presbyterian church on King Street in Boston and his view depicting the statue of George III being torn down in New York City.

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Citigroup, Barclays Near End of Blockchain Test Managed by IBM

  • Matthew Leising (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc and Citigroup Inc. are poised to complete a test of how blockchain technology can streamline their operations as part of a group organized by IBM and one of the world’s largest financial infrastructure providers.
  • The project, known as LedgerConnect, aims to allow banks and financial firms to share techniques for know-your-customer checks, collateral management and sanctions screening.
  • The allure of the LedgerConnect project is that it lets banks cut their technology and operations spending by allowing them to share services on a network, Ram Komarraju, head of innovation and solution delivery at CLS, said in an interview.
  • CLS’s background in connecting banks and traders in the global foreign exchange market makes it a natural fit to running a blockchain network, said Alan Marquard, chief strategy and development officer at CLS.

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How did it all go wrong for Malcolm Turnbull?

  • Former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton may not have been elected leader in Turnbull's 48-35 victory in Tuesday's meeting, but Turnbull's perennial problem, and the key figure behind this week's abortive attempt at yet another Liberal leader's political assassination, remains Abbott.
  • Christian Porter's name has been mentioned, particularly in conservative Liberal Party ranks, as a future prime minister, but up until last week the expectation was that, in the normal course of events, he would not be elevated to that position for some time.
  • Back then the list of close Turnbull business associates included Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes, although they, too, fell out over media reform when Turnbull was the Abbott government's communications minister.

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Slack's valuation tops $7.1 billion as venture investors keep piling into the messaging app

  • The San Francisco-based company said on Tuesday that it closed a $427 million funding round, padding its balance sheet as it takes on some of the world's biggest tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Cisco.
  • Slack is among the most highly valued tech start-ups, and like consumer companies Uber, Airbnb and Pinterest, it has no plans to go public until at least 2019.
  • Slack, which launched in 2014 and was valued at $5.1 billion almost a year ago, said it's bringing in more capital to go after growth.
  • Last year Slack had $200 million in annualized recurring revenue.
  • Atlassian was a competitor to Slack with its Hipchat Cloud and Stride services.
  • But in July, Atlassian sold the intellectual property for those products to Slack and took an equity stake in the company.
  • To date Slack has raised more than $1.26 billion in funding.

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Term Sheet -- Tuesday, August 21

  • Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic led the funding, along with others, including investment firm Baillie Gifford, Sands Capital, and previous investors.
  • The company last raised money in September when it said it landed $250 million, with SoftBank’s Vision Fund contributing the bulk of the capital.
  • SoftBank led the round, and was joined by investors including Toyota Motor Corporation.
  • Japan’s Aeon Co led the round and was joined by investors including Alpha Square Group, CDIB Capital, Gabriel Naouri and existing investors.
  • SoftBank, which has invested in both Slack and Getaround, poses the following question to CEOs before its investment professionals write a check from their mammoth $100 billion Vision Fund: If money was not a constraint, what would you do differently in the next five to 10 years?
  • Polina Marinova produces Term Sheet, and Lucinda Shen compiles the IPO news.

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Here are the 63 startups that launched today at Y Combinator’s S18 Demo Day 1

  • A total of 63 companies took to the stage in front of a full audience at the Computer History Museum today in Mountain View to pitch on-off switches for organisms, laundry detergent subscription services, gymless gyms, lab-grown palm oil and sugary sugar substitutes.
  • The company’s wearable device, called EVA, can be placed under any sports bra, and offers a new way to fill the gaps that current screening techniques aren’t addressing — things like early breast cancer detection in women with high breast density.
  • Sterblue is a French drone software startup aiming to get off-the-shelf drones inspecting large outdoor structures up close with automated insights that identify anomalies that need a second look.
  • Through a network of independent drivers, alongside a logistics platform recreated from the ground up, Skydrop is looking to offer shipping labels at a fraction of the cost by aggregating orders with thousands of like-minded (and like-sized) businesses.

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Costco now supports Apple Pay across all of its US stores

  • Apple has landed a big new partner for Apple Pay in the U.S. after Costco began accepting the mobile payment service across 750 stores.
  • The deal with CVS is particularly notable since the retailer had held off on supporting the Apple service, to the point that it even developed its own alternative that is based on barcodes.
  • Apple also secured a deal this summer to add Apple Pay support to eBay which gives it more breath among online retailers, too.
  • The service is operational in 30 international markets and, in the U.S., it is tipped to account for half of all contactless payments operated by an OEM by 2020, according to a recent analyst report.
  • The market for such services — which includes Samsung Pay, Google Pay and others — is tipped to reach 450 million consumers.

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Party animal venture capitalist Rothenberg accused by SEC of bilking investors

  • Mike Rothenberg, a venture capitalist who gained a reputation for throwing lavish parties, has been charged by the SEC for overcharging investors and using that money for his personal endeavors.
  • Rothenberg founded the seed-stage firm in 2012 and branded himself as a big backer of virtual reality, raising more than $64 million to invest in what he called "frontier technologies." But he spent well beyond his means and quickly got wrapped up in a number of legal affairs, including a case filed against him by his firm's former finance chief and a class action suit that related to contract workers not getting paid.
  • Rothenberg agreed to be barred from working in the brokerage and investment advisory business for five years.
  • Rothenberg's website says its investments include SpaceX, Robinhood and VR start-ups Fove and The Wave VR.

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