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Our second round of judges for the TC Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield will be held at VivaTech in Paris on May 24th. We want to find the best early-stage startup from across continental Europe, ahead of TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. The best way to do that is to bring some fantastic investors and founders along to judge the startups. Here’s our second round of judges to be announced, and there’s more to come!

Ophelia Brown, Founder, Blossom Capital
Ophelia is the founder of Blossom Capital, an early stage venture fund that brings a wholly differentiated approach to investing. Blossom makes a small number of high conviction investments each year, which allows the team to work closely with their companies, helping them achieve their ambitious goals. Fascinated by user behaviour and design, Ophelia loves worked with founders with strong product DNA and design-oriented teams. Ophelia is also the founder of ALT “Ambitious Ladies in Tech” – a mentor programme that matches junior women in technology start-ups with senior functional leaders to provide them with valuable coaching, skills development and networking. The network includes executives from some of the world’s leading tech companies like Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Uber and many more. Previously Ophelia was a GP at LocalGlobe and a principal at Index Ventures where she led investments into a number of outstanding companies like Typeform and Robinhood.


Alexis Houssou, President & Co-founder, Hardware Club
Former entrepreneur and financier, Alexis started Hardware Club in 2015 with a mission to support the best hardware startups worldwide using collaboration and network effects. Through its unique $30M community-based fund, Hardware Club invests in hardware startups in Europe and in the US at seed stage. Alexis took part in launching several novel initiatives like the Hello Tomorrow Summit and the accelerator The Family. He also sits on the boards of companies including Remedee Labs, Reach Robotics, Aryballe and Keecker. Passionate about how tech can create impact on communities, Alexis regularly mentors startups in various programs including Techstars and StartupBootCamp. He is a graduate of EM Lyon Business School.


Raffi Kamber, Partner, Alvin Capital
Raffi joined Alven in 2011. He started his career as an engineer, joining Bouygues Telecom where he worked on core data networks. Priorto joining Alven, he was part of the venture capital team of the Parisian office of Gimv, a pan-European fund where he focused on tech investments. He graduated from Ensimag and holds an MBA from Insead.


Sébastien Groyer, Partner, Seventure Partners
Biotech engineer, Phd in philosophy on capitalism, Sébastien started his career as a VC more than 15 years ago at CDC-Entreprises. He co-founded the venture arm of Masseran Gestion (Groupe Caisses d’Epargne) in 2008, managing FCPIs and investing in the life sciences sector. Masseran Gestion merged which Seventure Partners in 2012. He then became a Partner in life sciences at Seventure. Sébastien has invested in more than 30 companies and is currently board member of Balyo, Global Bioenergies, Eligo, Domain Therapeutics, Skinjay.


Francesca Warner, Venture Advisor and CEO & Co-founder, Seraphim Capital
Francesca (known as Check) is a Venture Advisor at Seraphim Capital, the only Global Space Tech fund, investing £3-5m in the Space Ecosystem, including in companies like Spire and IceEye. Prior to joining Seraphim Capital, Check spent two and a half years at Downing Ventures, investing in over 30 early-stage technology businesses, with a focus on consumer health and deep technology. Before moving into Venture, Check worked for the global agency, AMV BBDO. She graduated from Corpus Christi, Cambridge, with a first class degree in 2012. Check is the co-founder and CEO of Diversity VC, the world’s first non-profit dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in Venture Capital. In May 2017, Diversity VC produced the first ever study on the number of women in VC, in partnership with the BVCA. Diversity VC’s work was highlighted in the UK Government’s November 2017 budget.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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Delhi

58-year-old NRI masturbates sitting beside woman on board flight, held at Delhi airport

The security control room at the IGI Airport was informed in the early hours today that there was an “unruly passenger” on board a Turkish Airlines flight approaching Delhi.

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After tens of thousands of pre-orders, 3D audio headphones startup Ossic disappears

After taking tens of thousands of crowd-funding pre-orders for a high-end pair of “3D sound” headphones, audio startup Ossic announced this weekend that it is shutting down the company and backers will not be receiving refunds.

The company raised $2.7 million on Kickstarter and $3.2 million on Indiegogo for their Ossic X headphones which they pitched as a pair of high-end head-tracking headphones that would be perfect for listening to 3D audio, especially in a VR environment. While the company also raised a “substantial seed investment,” in a letter on the Ossic website, the company blamed the slow adoption of virtual reality alongside their crowdfunding campaign stretch goals which bogged down their R&D team.

“This was obviously not our desired outcome. The team worked exceptionally hard and created a production-ready product that is a technological and performance breakthrough. To fail at the 5 yard-line is a tragedy. We are extremely sorry that we cannot deliver your product and want you to know that the team has done everything possible including investing our own savings and working without salary to exhaust all possibilities.”

We have reached out to the company for additional details.

Through January 2017, the San Diego company had received more than 22,000 pre-orders for their Ossic X headphones. This past January, Ossic announced that they had shipped out the first units to the 80 backers in their $999 developer tier headphones. In that same update, the company said they would enter “mass production” by late spring 2018.

In the end, after tens of thousands of pre-orders, Ossic only built 250 pairs of headphones and only shipped a few dozen to Kickstarter backers.

Crowdfunding campaign failures for hardware products are rarely shocking, but often the collapse comes from the company not being able to acquire additional funding from outside investors. Here, Ossic appears to have been misguided from the start and even with nearly $6 million in crowdfunding and seed funding, which they said nearly matched that number, they were left unable to begin large-scale manufacturing. The company said in their letter, that it would likely take more than $2 million in additional funding to deliver the existing backlog of pre-orders.

Backers are understandably quite upset about not receiving their headphones. A group of over 1,200 Facebook users have joined a recently-created page threatening a class action lawsuit against the team.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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With at least $1.3 billion invested globally in 2018, VC funding for blockchain blows past 2017 totals

Although bitcoin and blockchain technology may not take up quite as much mental bandwidth for the general public as it did just a few months ago, companies in the space continue to rake in capital from investors.

One of the latest to do so is Circle, which recently announced a $110 million Series E round led by bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain. Other participating investors include Tusk VenturesPantera CapitalIDG Capital PartnersGeneral CatalystAccel PartnersDigital Currency GroupBlockchain Capital and Breyer Capital.

This round vaults Circle into an exclusive club of crypto companies that are valued, in U.S. dollars, at $1 billion or more in their most recent venture capital round. According to Crunchbase data, Circle was valued at $2.9 billion pre-money, up from a $420 million pre-money valuation in its Series D round, which closed in May 2016. According to Crunchbase data, only Coinbase and Robinhood — a mobile-first stock-trading platform which recently made a big push into cryptocurrency trading — were in the crypto-unicorn club, which Circle has now joined.

But that’s not the only milestone for the world of venture-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

Back in February, Crunchbase News predicted that the amount of money raised in old-school venture capital rounds by blockchain and blockchain-adjacent startups in 2018 would surpass the amount raised in 2017. Well, it’s only May, and it looks like the prediction panned out.

In the chart below, you’ll find worldwide venture deal and dollar volume for blockchain and blockchain-adjacent companies. We purposely excluded ICOs, including those that had traditional VCs participate, and instead focused on venture deals: angel, seed, convertible notes, Series A, Series B and so on. The data displayed below is based on reported data in Crunchbase, which may be subject to reporting delays, and is, in some cases, incomplete.

A little more than five months into 2018, reported dollar volume invested in VC rounds raised by blockchain companies surpassed 2017’s totals. Not just that, the nearly $1.3 billion in global dollar volume is greater than the reported funding totals for the 18 months between July 1, 2016 and New Year’s Eve in 2017.

And although Circle’s Series E round certainly helped to bump up funding totals year-to-date, there were many other large funding rounds throughout 2018:

There were, of course, many other large rounds over the past five months. After all, we had to get to $1.3 billion somehow.

All of this is to say that investor interest in the blockchain space shows no immediate signs of slowing down, even as the price of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies hover at less than half of their all-time highs. Considering that regulators are still figuring out how to treat most crypto assets, massive price volatility and dubious real-world utility of the technology, it may surprise some that investors at the riskiest end of the risk capital pool invest as much as they do in blockchain.

Notes on methodology

Like in our February analysis, we first created a list of companies in Crunchbase’s bitcoin, ethereum, blockchaincryptocurrency and virtual currency categories. We added to this list any companies that use those keywords, as well as “digital currency,” “utility token” and “security token” that weren’t previously included in the above categories. After de-duplicating this list, we merged this set of companies with funding rounds data in Crunchbase.

Please note that for some entries in Crunchbase’s round data, the amount of capital raised isn’t known. And, as previously noted, Crunchbase’s data is subject to reporting delays, especially for seed-stage companies. Accordingly, actual funding totals are likely higher than reported here.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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