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SquirrliT

SquirrliT is a Black Owned interactive business directory, whose mission is to deliver the latest information about Black Owned businesses within the Chicagoland community. Business owners can claim and customize their page to improve online visibility and marketability.

By adding your business profile to SquirrliT and keeping your profile up-to-date, you will be promoting your business to a large online audience and connect with customers. Once your profile has been validated, you can add your logo, images, hours of operation and much much more!

Consumers can select a service category, identify a specialization, access real-time company profiles and read reviews.

No more emailing, texting or calling friends asking for a referral or do you know someone who can install drywall or prepare taxes. You will be able to rate and review the services you choose, thereby personalizing your experience and providing useful information to others.

With a specialization in Black Owned businesses in the industry verticals of Home Services, Financial Services, Insurance, Legal, Medical and Real Estate, SquirrliT is the educational resource for the business owners and consumers. If you are a Black Owned business of any size or an agency that helps your clients’ businesses get found online, SquirrliT is the place for you.

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Daily Crunch: Alphabet shuts down Loon

Alphabet pulls the plug on its internet balloon company, Apple is reportedly developing a new MacBook Air and Google threatens to pull out of Australia. This is your Daily Crunch for January 22, 2021.

The big story: Alphabet shuts down Loon

Alphabet announced that it’s shutting down Loon, the project that used balloons to bring high-speed internet to more remote parts of the world.

Loon started out under Alphabet’s experimental projects group X, before spinning out as a separate company in 2018. Despite some successful deployments, it seems that Loon was never able to find a sustainable business model.

“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post. “Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn’t make breaking this news any easier.”

The tech giants

Apple reportedly planning thinner and lighter MacBook Air with MagSafe charging — The plan is reportedly to release the new MacBook Air as early as late 2021 or 2022.

Google threatens to close its search engine in Australia as it lobbies against digital news code — Google is dialing up its lobbying against draft legislation intended to force it to pay news publishers.

Cloudflare introduces free digital waiting rooms for any organizations distributing COVID-19 vaccines — The goal is to help health agencies and organizations tasked with rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to maintain a fair, equitable and transparent digital queue.

Startups, funding and venture capital

‘Slow dating’ app Once is acquired by Dating Group for $18M as it seeks to expand its portfolio — Once has 9 million users on its platform, with an additional 1 million users from a spin-out app called Pickable.

MotoRefi raises $10M to keep pedal on auto refinancing growth — CEO Kevin Bennett sees the opportunity to service Americans who collectively hold $1.2 trillion in auto loans.

Backed by Vint Cerf, Emortal wants to protect your digital legacy from ‘bit-rot’ —  Emortal is a startup that wants to help you organize, protect, preserve and pass on your “digital legacy” and protect it from becoming unreadable.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How VCs invested in Asia and Europe in 2020 — The unicorns are feasting.

End-to-end operators are the next generation of consumer business — VC firm Battery has tracked seismic shifts in how consumer purchasing behavior has changed over the years.

Drupal’s journey from dorm-room project to billion-dollar exit — Twenty years ago, Drupal and Acquia founder Dries Buytaert was a college student at the University of Antwerp.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

UK resumes privacy oversight of adtech, warns platform audits are coming — The U.K.’s data watchdog has restarted an investigation of adtech practices that, since 2018, have been subject to scores of complaints under GDPR.

Boston Globe will consider people’s requests to have articles about them anonymized — It’s reminiscent of the EU’s “right to be forgotten,” though potentially less controversial.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Google to add App Store privacy labels to its iOS apps as soon as this week

Contrary to reports, Google is not delaying updates to its iOS apps because it doesn’t want to comply with Apple’s recently announced App Store Privacy Labels policy. The new policy, a part of the company’s larger privacy push, requires developers to disclose how data is collected from App Store users and used to track them. TechCrunch confirmed Google is not taking a stand against the labels. It is, in fact, preparing to roll out privacy labels across its sizable iOS app catalog as soon as this week or the next.

TechCrunch looked into the situation with Google’s apps following a story by Fast Company today that speculated that Google’s slowdown on releasing iOS app updates could be because it was not ready to be transparent about the data it collects from its users. The report stated that “not a single one” of Google’s apps had been updated since December 7, 2020 — coincidentally, just one day before Apple’s new privacy label requirements went into effect on the App Store.

It went on to suggest the late November to early December time frame when many of Google’s iOS apps were updated was another indication that Google was trying to squeeze in a few last updates before the app privacy label deadline.

There are a few problems with speculation, however.

For starters, Google actually did update two of its apps after the deadline — but those updates didn’t include privacy labels.

Google Slides, the slideshow presentation app and one of Google’s more significant apps in the productivity space, was updated on December 14, 2020. And Socratic by Google, a homework helper and the No. 7 free app in the Education category, was updated on December 15. (We fact-checked this data with Sensor Tower’s assistance, as Google’s iOS catalog is nearing 100 iPhone apps!)

While it may seem Google is skirting Apple’s new rules, we must also be careful about reading too much into the update timing. A slowdown in December app updates isn’t unusual by any stretch. Nor is it suspicious to see app changes pushed out to the public in the weeks before Christmas and New Year’s because the Apple’s App Store itself shuts down over the holidays. This year, The App Store closed from December 23 through December 27, 2020 for its annual break.

And like other large companies, Google goes on a code freeze in late December through early January, so as not to cause major issues with its products and services over the holidays when staff is out.

Google also isn’t the only major app publisher that delayed an immediate embrace of app privacy labels. Amazon and Pinterest haven’t yet updated with privacy labels as of the time of writing, for example.

Of course, none of this is to say that app privacy labels aren’t a concern for Google, given its primary business is advertising. In fact, they’re being taken quite seriously — with execs attending meetings to discuss that sort of thing.

Apple may have given Google some leeway on the matter, it seems, as it allowed Google’s apps to update after the deadline without submitting the privacy label information. (That probably won’t make happy smaller developers who worked to comply with the deadline, however.)

Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the company has a plan to add privacy labels across its app catalog. They also confirmed the labels are expected to begin rolling out as soon as this week or next week, though an exact date is not yet available.

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Divvy raises $165M as the spend management space stays red-hot

Today Divvy, a Utah-based startup that focuses on corporate spend management, announced that it has closed a $165 million round at a $1.6 billion valuation. The company said that the new capital was raised from Hanaco, Schonfeld, PayPal Ventures and Whale Rock, along with a cadre of prior investors.

startupwizz.com

The new investment is not Divvy’s first megaround of private capital. The well-known startup raised $200 million in April of 2019. TechCrunch reported at the time that that round valued Divvy at around $700 million, making today’s deal a more than 2x increase in valuation for the company.

Divvy exists amongst the current generation of Utah-based tech upstarts that are keeping the state’s tech scene in the broader startup conversation. Podium fits in the same cohort, for example, while Qualtrics feels like it’s from the preceding peer group.

Divvy’s market, the corporate spend management space — broadly, corporate cards and software that helps firms manage and limit expenses — is incredibly active today as businesses look to modernize their financial infrastructure. The new capital for Divvy comes after multiple other competitors recently announced fresh funds itself, for example. Let’s take a look at who Divvy is taking on with its new round.

Competition

A few weeks back Ramp, another corporate-cards-and-software startup, announced a $30 million raise and that it had reached $100 million in spend through its service in its first 18 months of business. At the same time Divvy shared with TechCrunch that it had seen 120% customer growth and over 100% growth in platform spend in 2020, compared to 2019. At the time, Brex, which also competes in the corporate spend space, declined to share metrics.

That Divvy was able to raise so much capital given its recent growth rates is not surprising. But that so many companies in its sector are managing similarly strong-to-line expansion stands out. After covering the Ramp round in December and noting Divvy’s metrics at the same time, both Airbase (more here) and Teampay (more here) reached out with numbers of their own.

Teampay reiterated its October-era metrics: that it has seen its annual recurring revenue (ARR) grow by 320% and its total spend grow by 800% since its then year-ago Series A. Airbase noted what it described as 250% growth in ARR — up by 2.5x, in other words — and 700% growth in payment volume (annualized).

Divvy, Teampay and Airbase are therefore growing like all heck, though in slightly different fashions. Divvy and Ramp offer their corporate spend products and software for free, taking a slice of payment volume through interchange revenues. Teampay and Airbase generate incomes from interchange as well, but also charge for their software. This gives them both spend and software revenues.

Which brings us back to Divvy’s news from today. I normally avoid quoting from releases, but in today’s case a paragraph is worth sharing:

The valuation of $1.6 billion and the addition of key investors validates Divvy’s ambition to modernize financial processes by combining credit, vendor, and spend management into a single platform. With this round of funding, Divvy plans to invest heavily in product development and engineering in order to accelerate their future roadmap.

Divvy is going to invest heavily in product? That makes sense. But to give away its software forever just seems odd. Some of its competitors are charging for theirs! Why not Divvy as well?

We’ll see, but what is clear today is that the capital that has gone into startups in Divvy’s cohort was put into a niche that has shown huge demand. So, expect to hear more from this product area in 2021.

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T-Mobile says hackers accessed some customer call records in data breach

T-Mobile, the third largest cell carrier in the U.S. after completing its recent $26 billion merger with Sprint, ended 2020 by announcing its second data breach of the year.

The cell giant said in a notice buried on its website that it recently discovered unauthorized access to some customers’ account information, including the data that T-Mobile makes and collects on its customers in order to provide cell service.

From the notice: “Our cybersecurity team recently discovered and shut down malicious, unauthorized access to some information related to your T-Mobile account. We immediately started an investigation, with assistance from leading cybersecurity forensics experts, to determine what happened and what information was involved. We also immediately reported this matter to federal law enforcement and are now in the process of notifying impacted customers.”

Known as customer proprietary network information (CPNI), this data can include call records — such as when a call was made, for how long, the caller’s phone number and the destination phone numbers for each call, and other information that might be found on the customer’s bill.

But the company said that the hackers did not access names, home or email addresses, financial data, and account passwords (or PINs).

A spokesperson for T-Mobile said the breach happened in early December, and affects about 0.2% of all T-Mobile customers — or approximately 200,000 customers.

It’s the latest security incident to hit the cell giant in recent years.

In 2018, T-Mobile said as many as two million customers may have had their personal information scraped. A year later, the company confirmed hackers accessed records on another million prepaid customers. Just months into 2020, T-Mobile admitted a breach on its email systems that saw hackers access some T-Mobile employee email accounts, exposing some customer data.

Updated with comment from T-Mobile.

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Sony to launch PlayStation 5 in India on February 2

Sony said on Friday that it will launch the PlayStation 5 in India on February 2, suggesting improvements in the supply chain network that was severely impacted last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese firm said it will begin taking pre-order requests for the new gaming console in India, the world’s second largest internet market, on January 12. The console will be available for pre-order from a number of retailers including Amazon India, Flipkart, Croma, Reliance Digital, Games the Shop, Sony Center, and Vijay Sales, the company said.

The PlayStation 5 is priced at Indian rupees 49,990 ($685), while the digital edition of the console will sell at Indian rupees 39,990 ($550). Xbox Series X, in comparison, is priced at $685 in India, and Xbox Series S sells at $480. Both the consoles launched in India in November.

However, much like elsewhere in the world, Microsoft has been struggling to meet the demand for the new Xbox consoles in India. The Xbox Series X is facing so much shortage in the country that it’s not even easy to locate its page on Amazon India.

The announcement today should allay concerns of loyal PlayStation fans, some of whom — including, of course, yours truly — secured a unit from the gray market at a premium in recent months after India was not included in the first wave of nations for the PS5. Fans have also been frustrated at Sony and its affiliated partners for not offering clarification or providing conflicting accounts about the probable launch of the new gaming console in recent months.

In November, Sony suggested that it had delayed the launch of the PS5 in India due to local import regulations. Game news site The Mako Reactor reported earlier this week that Sony is unlikely to offer warranty and after-sales support for PlayStation 5 accessories in India — as has been the case for several previous generations.

India is not yet a big market for full-fledged gaming consoles yet. According to industry estimates, Sony and Microsoft sold only a few hundred thousand units of their previous generation consoles in the country. Thanks to the proliferation of affordable Android smartphones and world’s cheapest mobile data tariffs, tens of millions of Indians have embraced mobile gaming in recent years.

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JustUdaipur

JustUdaipur is a marketplace for Udaipur based makers of unique and creative handmade goods. JustUdaipur wants to keep the artisan linkage alive! Which connects a community of sellers to turn their ideas into a successful business. JustUdaipur provides an online platform for the artists of Udaipur to showcase their work to people across the globe.

How does Our Platform work?

JustUdaipur allows sellers only from Udaipur. Sellers register with justUdaipur and create their own dedicated online store on our platform. Once we approve the seller, they get access to their seller dashboard from where they can manage the catalog and all store related information.

There are no registration or listing fees.
In order to facilitate the ease of our sellers, justUdaipur takes care of the delivery which allows the sellers to focus on their work.

Sellers are able to reach a broader audience with the help of justUdaipur’s multi-channel marketing, both online and offline

Every piece is created by artisans who have dedicated their lives to learning the art of making beautiful goods. we’ve built long-standing relationships with our sellers, each one rooted in trust and a commitment to excellence. These artisans created many of the pieces that serve as the building blocks of our heritage, from the handcrafted goods made for buyers. Where and how the products are made is an integral part of our heritage. Every piece in our collection is made to serve as your trusted companion through a lifetime of experiences.

“Glitter Your Dreams Go Out And Make The Stars”.

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HoboTraveler Meet Friends and Explore

The best way to find new friends, then go meet them around the world. HoboTraveler.com is a social network where people discuss how to live the good life anywhere on the planet. Our “Talk Wall” is where you can talk with people from many countries – USA, France, German, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Thailand, Philippines and 100’s of other dream locations. And, because we require members to use their real names, you meet them online, become friends, then travel to exotic countries and meet them safely in real life.

Andy Lee Graham, the founder, is the ultimate work-at-home, location-independent person. He has worked remotely for 22 years, the king of Digital Nomads: the most experienced on the planet. A non-stop world traveler, he lives anywhere he wishes, the ultimate free person.

HoboTraveler Featured on:
* Nat Geo Adventure
* The New York Times
* Forbes
* TripAdvisor

Make friends with travel insiders. Live Abroad, Cheap Airfares, Budget Hotels, Car Rentals, Travel Gear, Earn Money to Travel, Car Rentals, Tours, Tourist Destinations, Paradise Locations. Live Abroad – Change Your Life Today. Join the Travel Community now, and talk with travelers about destinations, using the “Travelers’ Talk Wall”.

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DesignBro

DesignBro is an online graphic design marketplace that only allows the very best designers to join and work with clients. Of all designers that apply to work on the platform only 5% have been approved. This ensures that customers receive the top quality of design that they are looking for. The selected designers come from all over the world.
In a world where the gig economy and the platform industry will only grow, it’s easy to lose track of what matters: Quality!
This refers not only to the quality of designs and quality of the interaction, but also to the quality of life for the designers whose livelihood is completely changing in just 1 generation.
By making quality the central pillar of our vision in professional services both client-side and designer- side, we aim for a better future for both.
Fair work, fair pay – With the introduction of crowdsourcing on the internet, an unwanted side-effect of this gig economy has been a race to the bottom. We aim to bring balance to this downward spiral.

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Former YouTube star sentenced to ten years in prison for child porn

Former Youtube star Austin Jones has been sentenced to ten years in a US federal prison after pleading guilty to persuading underage girls to send him explicit videos of themselves.

Jones, who made a name for himself online singing covers of songs, was arrested and charged in 2017 with two counts of producing child pornography.

He later pled guilty to one charge of receiving child pornography — admitting in a plea agreement that in 2016 and 2017 he enticed six girls to to produce and send explicit videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan”, per Buzzfeed.

“Production and receipt of child pornography are extraordinarily serious offenses that threaten the safety of our children and communities,” it quotes assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh writing in a sentencing memo. “Jones’s actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back.”

At the height of his YouTube fame Jones had around 540,000 subscribers to his channel and more than 20M video views.

In a 2015 apology vlog, after reports emerged of Jones asking young fans to send him twerking videos, he claimed it never went further than that. “There were never any nudes, never any physical contact, it never happened,” he said then.

But in his plea agreement Jones admitted to attempting to persuade more than thirty underage fans to send him explicit photos or videos.

YouTube removed Jones’ channel after he pled guilty in February — saying it had violated its community guidelines. But the Google -owned company initially refused to shutter it, telling the BBC a few days earlier that while it does have a policy of removing content when a person is convicted of a crime “in some cases” it does so only if the content is closely related to the crime committed.

Describing her experience in a vlog also posted to YouTube, one former fan she had received messages from Jones asking her for twerking videos prior to his 2015 apology video when she was 14-years-old.

“I just don’t understand how these people can let the fame get to their heads that much that they think it’s alright to do something to people like this,” she said. “It’s so messed up. But the fact that his fanbase was these vulnerable, insecure young girls makes it so much worse than it already is… He knew that that was his fanbase and he took advantage of that.”

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