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Monthly Archives: April 2019

Facebook is reportedly working on an Alexa rival



Facebook’s smart speaker didn’t ship with a rival to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. But the company is now working on its own digital assistant, according to a new report from CNBC.

It’s not clear exactly how the assistant will work or what it will be called, though CNBC reports it could be integrated with Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets or with the company’s Portal speakers. Right now, Portal relies on Alexa for assistant functionality, though you can control speaker functions like volume by saying “hey Portal.”

More about Tech, Facebook, Alexa, Facebook Portal, and Tech

Acting as the data integrator between hospitals and digital health apps brings Redox $33 million



Investors have forked over $33 million in a new round of funding for Redox, hoping that the company can execute on its bid to serve as the link between healthcare providers and the technology companies bringing new digital services to market.

The financing comes just two months after Redox sealed a deal with Microsoft to act as the integration partner connecting Microsoft’s Teams product to electronic health records through the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.

Redox sits at a critically important crossroads in the modern healthcare industry. It’s founder, a former employee at the electronic health record software provider Epic, knows more than most about the central position that data occupies in U.S. healthcare at the moment.

What we’re doing we’re building the platform and connector to help health systems integrate with technologies in the cloud,” says chief executive, Luke Bonney. 

Bonney served as a team lead in various divisions at Epic before launching Redox and the Madison, Wis.-based company was crafted with the challenges other vendors faced when trying to integrate with legacy systems like the health record provider.

“The fundamental problem is helping a large health system use a third party tool that they want to use,” says Bonney. And the biggest obstacle is finding a way to organize the data coming from healthcare providers into a format that application developers can work with, he said. 

Investors including RRE Ventures, Intermountain Ventures, .406 Ventures joined new investor Battery Ventures in financing the $33 million round. As part of the deal, Battery Ventures general partner Chelsea Stoner will take a seat on the company’s board.

Application developers pay for the number of integrations they have with a health system, and Redox enables them to connect through a standard application programming interface, according to the company. 

Its approach allows secure messaging across any format associated with an organization’s electronic health record (EHR), the company said. 

Redox works with over 450 healthcare providers and hundreds of application developers, the company said.

High profile healthcare networks that work with the company include AdventHealth, Atrium Health, Brigham & Women’s, Clarify Health, Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, HCA, Healthgrades, Intermountain Healthcare, Invitae, Fitbit, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Microsoft, Ochsner, OSF HealthCare, PointClickCare, R1, ResMed, Stryker, UCSF, University of Pennsylvania, and WellStar.

 

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Samsung's foldable phones haven't even shipped yet and are already breaking



The Samsung Galaxy Fold was meant to usher in a new era. Assuming we’re talking about the era of epic fucking PR disasters, it just very well may have succeeded. 

The $1,980 smartphone finally landed in the hands of tech journalists this week, ahead of it’s official April 26 sale date, and was met with decidedly lukewarm reviews. And that was before the phones started breaking — which, at least according to a few reporters with early access, they did almost immediately. 

Maybe this is why Samsung was so secretive about the whole thing? Read more…

More about Samsung, Foldable Phones, Galaxy Fold, Tech, and Smartphones

Summer movie preview: What to watch if you're with the family



The summer movie season is upon us, flooding our theaters with intriguing new releases. So here we are to help you navigate that storm, with a look ahead at some of the most exciting titles to come. 

You can’t choose your family — but with our help, maybe you can choose what movie you see with them. Whether you’re hanging with a nature-loving nephew, a mild-mannered mom, or a cranky teen cousin, we’ve got just the thing for you. Here’s what to watch if you’re with the family …

… and they freaking love Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (May 10)

More about Child S Play, Toy Story 4, Detective Pikachu, Spider Man Far From Home, and Poms

Unpacking Pinterest’s IPO expectations



For seven years, Pinterest has been considered a “unicorn,” boasting a valuation larger than $1 billion since its 2012 Series C funding round. Before that, it was considered an underdog, puzzling some investors with its “digital pinboard” and preference for “quality growth.”

Now, as the company takes its final step toward its Thursday NYSE initial public offering, it’s being called an “undercorn.”

Pinterest plans to sell shares of its stock, titled “PINS,” at $15 to $17 apiece, less than the roughly $21 per share it charged private market investors to participate in its mid-2017 Series H, its last private financing. That IPO price translates into a mid-range valuation of $10.64 billion, or nearly $2 billion under the $12.3 billion valuation it garnered after its last round, hence “undercorn.”

There are many potential causes to a down round like this. In the case of Pinterest, it’s probably less a result of newly public Lyft’s poor performance on the stock market and more a result of its own reputation for slow growth. Pinterest is a disciplined company that’s carved a clear path to profitability. It has invested a lot of time and energy into building a positive, diverse culture and a product devoid of trolls and hate speech — time some believe should have been spent focused on rapid growth and scale.

Sure, if Pinterest had tossed its values aside and blitzscaled, maybe it would debut with a larger initial market cap, but its corporate culture will be key to its long-term value, and investors are going to get rich off its IPO either way. So Pinterest is an undercorn — who cares?

Pinterest isn’t too nice

Ben Silbermann, chief executive officer of Pinterest. Photographer: Yana Paskova/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Founded in 2010, Pinterest is one of the youngest members of the newly dubbed “A-PLUS” cohort of unicorns, made up of Airbnb, Pinterest, Lyft, Uber and Slack. Compared to its peers, Pinterest has raised a modest $1.47 billion in equity funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, which holds a 13.1 percent pre-IPO stake, FirstMark Capital (9.8 percent), Andreessen Horowitz (9.6 percent), Fidelity Investments (7.1 percent) and Valiant Capital Partners (6 percent), according to the company’s IPO filing.

Today, Pinterest counts more than 250 million monthly active users, despite a company culture that many have said has slowed progress. Co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Silbermann, as The New York Times pointed out in a recent profile, is not your typical unicorn CEO. He has refused to adopt the move fast and break things mentality, and shied away from the press and focused on “quality growth” and a supportive company culture.

Even with Pinterest’s new status as an undercorn, Bessemer still owns a stake worth upwards of $1 billion. At a midpoint price, FirstMark and a16z’s shares will be worth about $700 million each. Pinterest employees may be too nice to make decisions as quick as other unicorns, as is the claim in CNBC’s recent piece on the company, but the company wouldn’t be where it is today if it completely lacked a “strategic direction.”

“Being nice and having core values and making decisions with intent is to their overall benefit,” Eric Kim, the co-founder of consumer tech investment firm Goodwater Capital, told TechCrunch. “They’ve done an amazing job at being very disciplined with a focus on top lines.”

IPO prospects

More often than not, businesses accrue value at IPO. Look at Zoom, for example; the under-the-radar video conferencing business is expected to increase its valuation nine times over in its IPO, expected tomorrow.

It’s a disappointment to late-stage investors when the opposite happens for one obvious reason: They may not see a return on their investment. If Pinterest indeed becomes an undercorn next week, the new investors that participated in its Series H may have to hold on to their stock longer than planned in hopes its value climbs over time. That, right there, is the worst thing about being an undercorn. These titles are otherwise just nonsense.

Pinterest’s valuation has long radically exceeded its revenues — a factor that surely paved the way for a down round — yet it was touted as a tech marvel, a unicorn among unicorns. In recent years, its valuation has swelled from $4.75 billion in 2014 to $10.47 billion in 2015 to, finally, $12.3 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, Pinterest posted revenues of $299 million in 2016, $473 million in 2017 and $756 million in 2018. There’s no denying the company’s clear path to profitability, as its losses are shrinking year-over-year while profits grow, but 2018’s revenues are still 16 times less than Pinterest’s “decacorn” valuation.

Silicon Valley has a tendency to over-value unprofitable consumer-facing businesses; Pinterest’s down round IPO could be a sign of Wall Street’s reckoning with Silicon Valley’s vanity metrics. Pinterest, however, isn’t the first unicorn to take a hit to its valuation at IPO. Both Box, the cloud-based content management platform, and payments company Square were undercorns when they went public, for example. Square has since thrived as a public company, while Box is currently trading around its initial share price.

“The recovery is all about execution as a public company when everything is much more transparent,” Monique Skruzny, CEO of InspIR Group, an advisory firm focused on investor relations, told TechCrunch. “The IPO is the beginning of a company’s long-term relationship with the public markets and the public markets have to make money. Going public at a valuation that may not necessarily be what some might think or consider to be the top leaves room for upside going forward.”

For Pinterest, continuing to cut losses and surpassing $1 billion in revenue this year is key. Given its history, financial metrics and the generally favorable market conditions, it looks poised to make that happen.

The bottom line is Pinterest, given its slow growth and inflated valuation, was probably always doomed to be nicknamed an undercorn. Its culture, however, shouldn’t be to blame for its new status. After all, a $10 billion IPO is something for the tech industry to be proud of, not to criticize.

In the words of former investor and Evernote co-founder Phil Libin, who joined me on the Equity podcast last week to talk IPOs: “Who would criticize a company who sacrifices growth because they have important culture? Losers, honestly.”

“If they didn’t have the culture and the people they wouldn’t have made anything,” he added.

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HBO takes on the 2017 USA Gymnastics scandal in chilling new trailer for 'At the Heart of Gold'



The survivors of the 2017 USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal are speaking out once again — this time in a feature-length documentary for HBO. 

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal takes an in-depth look at the toxic environment within the ultra-competitive world of gymnastics that allowed for hundreds of young women and girls to be sexually abused by those they trusted most.

While numerous coaches, gym owners, and support staff members were accused of abusing and mistreating the competitors they were supposed to look after, At the Heart of Gold seems primed to highlight the notorious crimes of former USA Gymnastics team doctor and serial child molester, Larry Nassar. Read more…

More about Hbo, Documentary, Larry Nassar, Usa Gymnastics Scandal, and Entertainment

Justin Timberlake happy to see *NSYNC reunited at Coachella



Justin Timberlake was excited to see his pals take to the stage during Ariana Grande’s Coachella set. *NSYNC wowed with a rendition of their 1997 classic, “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” Ariana performed her recent single, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend I’m Bored,” which samples their song, “It Makes Me Ill.” Read more…

More about Entertainment, Music, Mashable Video, Music Festival, and Coachella

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