LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Marqeta, a U.S. financial technology startup that helps young companies including digital-only banks issue payment cards, has expanded into Europe, the company said on Sunday.
The company will service the region from London, where it has hired at team of five and signed up new clients, it said.
Backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Visa Inc, Marqeta has developed a platform that it says makes payment card issuing and processing simpler and more efficient for businesses.
It is expanding in Europe through its partnership with Visa.
Marqeta’s U.S. clients include some of the most well-known new entrants in finance such as Square Inc, the payments company founded by Twitter Inc CEO Jack Dorsey, and Affirm, the lending startup led by PayPal Holdings Inc co-founder Max Levchin. It also works with Alipay, the payments business spun out of China-based technology company Alibaba Group Holding.
Britain and the rest of Europe are a promising market because of the growing cohort of young digital-only banks and fintech startups based there, Marqeta’s founder and CEO Jason Gardner said in an interview at an industry conference in Las Vegas.
“We have invested an enormous amount of resources in tech and operations, and have been quietly building a presence there,” Gardner said.
While the company plans to open another office somewhere else in the region, Gardner said the UK’s decision to leave the European Union had not been a concern when picking its first base in Europe.
New entrants in the banking and payments market, such as financial technology startups and challenger banks, have acquired a larger share of industry revenues in the UK than their counterparts in the U.S. and the rest of Europe, according to a report by Accenture.
In the UK new entrants have secured 14 percent of the total €206 billion ($ 238.45 billion)in industry revenues, compared to the 3.5 percent the total $ 1.04 trillion captured in the U.S., according to the report.
Founded in 2010, Marqeta has raised a total of $ 116 million in venture capital, most recently in a round led by Iconiq Capital with participation from Goldman Sachs.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Activists in Amsterdam on Wednesday launched the ‘Datavakbond’ or “data labor union”, which hopes to elect leaders to negotiate directly with Facebook and Google over what they do with users’ data.
FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
Possible demands could include payment for the data users supply to the companies, more information about how the data is used, and a direct channel for communicating grievances.
“Right now, we work for Google and Facebook producing data, and we’re getting feathers and beads in exchange,” said Paul Tang, a member of European Parliament from the Dutch Labour party, at the union’s establishment in Amsterdam.
“What we want…is to get across the table from Google and Facebook to talk about reasonable compensation, or at least better working conditions.”
Tang said that although governments have a role in regulating the internet giants, users should also organize themselves and seek to influence the companies directly.
The Union’s founding chairman Bas van der Gaag, a high school maths teacher, said that although it is based in the Netherlands, it hopes to win members internationally.
Membership is free, and those that join will be encouraged to help craft the organization. Later they may vote on specific demands, for instance for the company to provide a paid, but advertising-free, version of Facebook. Within the first hour of its launch, 250 people joined.
Van der Gaag said volunteers are working on tools to make it possible for the union to organize a ‘strike’, which would involve temporarily depriving the companies of some of the most valuable information they sell to advertisers, such as location data.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in European Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about how political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly got hold of the personal data of 87 million Facebook users, including up to 2.7 million in the EU.
Facebook did not immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment on the establishment of the union.
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alexandra Hudson
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) on Monday launched a spinoff of its Android operating system for home appliances and other machines, following mixed results with Android offshoots for cars, smartwatches and televisions.
FILE PHOTO: A man walks through light rain in front of the Hey Google booth under construction at the Las Vegas Convention Center in preparation for the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo
‘Android Things’, which arrives as Google opens its annual conference for developers, could bring its Google Assistant virtual helper to refrigerators and robots and familiar designs to cash registers and vending machines.
“The goal is to enable them to be built faster, cheaper and more secure,” said Venkat Rapaka, a product management director at Google.
Android derivatives aim to provide users with a consistent interface across devices, while Google and its business partners benefit from a standard way to distribute their applications.
Though Google does not charge hardware manufacturers for Android, it expects to generate a return as consumers use new gadgets to use search, watch videos on YouTube and buy content from its Play Store.
The Android operating system powers many of the world’s smartphones and drives consumers to Google’s cash-minting apps.
But Google has struggled to extend Android’s dominance into other areas over the last four years, technology and financial analysts said.
“If you’re charitable, you say it’s early,” said Richard Kramer of Arete Research. “If you’re not, you say Android is irrelevant outside phones.”
Android Automotive is not yet deeply embedded in any cars. Shipments of smartwatches with Google’s Wear OS were outnumbered five-to-one by rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) devices last year, according to research firm IDC. Four times as many smart TV shipments last year had Samsung’s (005930.KS) operating system as Android TV, according to IHS Markit.
In each category, Google’s Android system posted less market share last year than manufacturer-customized Android variants, which are less fruitful for Google because they typically are not pre-loaded or compatible with its apps.
Android variants thrive in China, where Google does not operate.
Google also has been slowed by resistance from carmakers to hand over a key interface, smartwatches from consumer electronics brands that failed to attract mass appeal and TV software that manufacturers found too rigid, analysts said.
Google officials said the spinoffs have momentum. Activations of Wear OS devices rose 70 percent late last year compared to the year-earlier period. Android TV activations doubled last year compared to the year before, while vehicles with Android embedded should arrive next year, company officials told Reuters.
South Asia and Latin America are bright spots, they said. Android TV had “tremendous traction over the last year” from Asian cable and satellite operators seeking it for set-top boxes, said Google product management director Shalini Govil-Pai.
Android Automotive was gaining attention from Indian automakers and from Brazil, said Patrick Brady, a Google engineering vice president.
Android Things competes with Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Greengrass system and Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Windows IoT.
Google says it will guarantee three years of free security patches to hardware makers and paid extended options. It is also considering automated security scans of device makers’ apps.
Health technology startup Byteflies, an Android Things tester, said it viewed the system’s optional integration with Google’s cloud computing service and the large Android developer community as big advantages.
Reporting by Paresh Dave, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, launched its core brand on Alibaba’s giant online marketplace Tmall on Wednesday to try to keep up with competition in China.
FILE PHOTO: People walk past a H&M fashion chain store at Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district in Hong Kong, China August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
It is the first time that H&M, which also has seven newer add-on labels, has sold its main budget apparel brand through a third party. By moving on to Tmall, it is playing catch-up with some of its major rivals.
Market leader Inditex’s main brand Zara opened an online store on Tmall in 2014, joining western brands such as Gap and ASOS , while Amazon joined in 2015, alongside its own online store in the country.
Sweden’s H&M launched its own independent online store in China in 2014, after entering the country around a decade ago, but China’s e-commerce market is dominated by virtual shopping centers such as Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao.
Magnus Olsson, H&M’s China country manager, said in an interview in Shanghai that H&M needs to be on the platforms where most of the customers are, adding that pricing and offering on Tmall would differ little from that on hm.com in China.
The H&M group has seen sales growth stall and shares dive in recent years as it has struggled to adapt to the shift online. It sees future growth mainly in new markets such as China although the bulk of business is still in Europe.
Last year the group generated around 11 billion Swedish crowns ($ 1.3 billion) of its total 200 billion in revenues in China where it has around 500 of its 4,700 stores.
FILE PHOTO: An employee works at a Tmall logistic centre in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Olsson said competition was getting tougher in China amid a major shift online that was boosting rivals and increasing price transparency, and H&M was now adapting its ranges more in the country to meet regional demand.
“Something we’re really focusing on is trying to understand where consumer behavior, and especially here, the fashion sense of the consumer is heading,” he said. “We create more and more Asia specific or China specific collections.”
H&M, which had already launched its Monki brand on Tmall, plans to launch its other brands too on the platform.
Olsson expects the Tmall partnership to help pave the way for store expansion in smaller Chinese cities where brand recognition is still slim.
“There are also other advantages with the Tmall tie-up and that is that in most of the tier 3 or 4 cities where we’re not present, H&M might not be as well known, but Tmall is, so they find H&M through that platform until we come with a store,” he said.
($ 1 = 8.2115 Swedish crowns)
Reporting by Adam Jourdan, writing by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, editing by Keith Weir
The launch company Rocket Lab has amusing names for its missions. The first, in May, was called “It’s a Test” (it was). When the staff debated what to call the second launch of their diminutive Electron rocket, so sized (and priced) specifically to carry small satellites to space, they said, “Well, we’re still testing, aren’t we?”
They were. And so “Still Testing” became the name of Rocket Lab’s second launch, which took place on January 20, at around 8:45 pm Eastern Standard Time. In December, the company canceled multiple attempts before rescheduling the launch window for 2018. The livestreamed rocket lifted off from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, headed for someplace with an even better view.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the launch (or any test launch, for that matter), the rocket was carrying real payloads for real customers: three small satellites, one for a company that images Earth and two for one that monitors weather and ship traffic. But why on Earth would a satellite company choose a rocket-in-progress when there are so many reliable launchers out there? After all, evenestablishedrockets blow up sometimes.
The short answer is that smallsats—which the Electron was built to transport, exclusively—are by nature expendable. Smallsat makers like Planet and Spire, the two clients on this mission, have ever-growing, genetically similar populations of orbiters. So losing one or two in a less-than-successful test flight? Probably worth the risk. Smallsat companies are willing to put their hardware on this particular liftoff line because the Electron is poised to be the first commercially bookable rocket built specifically for small payloads, which typically have to piggyback on big, expensive rockets with big, expensive payloads that don’t launch often enough and aren’t always headed to their orbit of choice. In the next decade, 3,483 small satellites (between 1 and 100 kilograms) will go to space, generating just over $ 2 billion of launch revenue, according to the Small Satellite Markets, 4th edition report, which research and consulting firm Northern Sky Research released last month. In this future world where thousands more smallsats provide environmental, economic, and even political intelligence, as well as Earth-covering internet, the test-steps necessary to get on up to space quickly, cheaply, and precisely seem worth the risk not just to Planet and Spire but, perhaps, to you and me.
But boy, was there risk. While Rocket Lab’s first Electron didn’t explode and did reach space—and so gets at least an A- for its first attempt—“It’s a Test” didn’t quite get to orbit. After an investigation, Rocket Lab determined that, four minutes post-blastoff, ground equipment (provided by a third party) temporarily stopped talking to the rocket. When communication breaks down, Official Procedures demand that safety officials stop the flight. And so they did..
But the rocket itself, according to the same investigation, was sound—so the company moved on to a test delivery. “It’s really the next logical step,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder.
Beck seems uncannily logical about the risks his young company is taking. When asked about his feelings about launching actual stuff on “Still Testing,” he replied that doing so certainly involved extra actual tasks. “I’m not sure if you can become extra nervous or extra excited,” he said. That sentiment fits with the launches’ pragmatic names. And those fit with New Zealanders’ general pragmatic streak, says Beck (he cites some of the country’s names for flowing water: “River One,” “River Two,” “River Three”).
For their part, Planet and Spire are here for that no-nonsense-ness. Planet already has around 200 satellites in orbit, so adding one to its flock of so-called “Doves” would be good but not critical. Besides, says Mike Safyan, Planet’s director of launch, “we picked one we wouldn’t miss too much”: a sat named Pioneer. It’s a double meaning, says Safyan. First, it’s an homage to NASA’s old missions, on whose shoulders they stand.
Second meaning: They are pioneers. “There is this New Space wave that Planet is very much at the forefront of and Rocket Lab is very much at the forefront of,” says Safyan.
This is what the forefront looks like, by the way: You can book space on an Electron rocket online—just click the size of your smallsat!—the same basic way you’d book a bunk on Airbnb.
Spire, too, is into it. Jenny Barna met Peter Beck before she had her current job, as the director of launch at Spire, whose satellites aim to keep track of aeronautical and nautical-nautical traffic, as well as weather. Back in her days at SSL, which makes spacecraft and communications systems, a coworker invited her to a presentation Beck was giving on-site. She listened to Beck describe Rocket Lab’s technology, and his vision for a vehicle that provided frequent, affordable launches just for little guys—in an industry that caters to huge sats, and makes smallsats second-class passengers—and she was intrigued. “I remember sitting there thinking how lucky I am to be working at this industry at this time,” she says. And after she moved to Spire, she led the company to sign on as one of Rocket Lab’s first customers. It’s currently contracted for up to 12 launches.
That’s a lot! But Spire has to launch a lot. The company wants access to space every month, so they can produce their satellites in small batches, send them up, iterate, and launch the next generation. So far, counting today, Spire has launched 541 satellites. They’ve done it on the rockets of Russia (Soyuz and Dnepr), Japan (H-IIB), and India (PSLV), and the rockets of the US’s Orbital (Antares) and ULA (Atlas V). And now, they’ll ride with Rocket Lab, picking on a rocket of their own satellites’ size.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll ever only use Rocket Lab. Or Orbital. Or ULA. They plan to keep their eggs distributed—partly because even when it’s not just a test, rockets still blow up, the eggs breaking along with them. “It’s just part of the industry,” says Barna.
When Barna spoke of “Still Testing” a few days before the initial launch window, she was straight-up about the possibility that this particular rocket wouldn’t carry the eggs safely to space. “We know that a million things have to go perfectly for this to be successful,” she said. “We hope they make history.”
They did, and deployed the three-satellite payload into orbit. And pending analysis of this seemingly successful test, Rocket Lab will skip its planned third test and jump straight into official operations, in early 2018. “We’ve got a lot of customers that need to get on orbit,” says Beck.
Suggestion for the third flight’s name: “This Is Not a Test.”
1UPDATE 12:08 AM EST 1/21/2018: This story has been updated to include new satellites Rocket Lab launched recently.
FR8 Revolution is a company that was founded a year ago with the vision of bringing data-driven, cloud-based tools to the trucking market.
It can be easy to forget about this industry when you shop at your favorite store, fast food outlet or e-commerce site, but in order to ensure your purchase happens seamlessly, a huge amount of logistics has to occur. It requires a lot of planning to ensure, for example, that a McDonald’s outlet in New York City in the middle of winter has fresh lettuce and tomatoes and enough french fries for demand. Where that planning rubber literally and figuratively meets the road is in the trucking industry.
The U.S. trucking industry alone is a $ 700 billion market and employs a staggering 3.5 million drivers. And while we’ve all been told a number of times that the future of trucking is autonomous vehicles, the truth behind that somewhat cliched statement is that it’s going to take a huge amount of software to actually make that prophecy come true.