The year of the French unicorns

In September 2019, President Emmanuel Macron was about to wrap up a speech on late-stage investment in France. According to a press briefing and some discussions with a source, everything that he was supposed to announce had been announced. But he dropped an unexpected number. “I’ll leave you with a goal: there should be 25 French unicorns by 2025,” Macron …

VCs from Accel and SoftBank talk Europe’s startup scene, what they expect in 2020, and the future of SoftBank

If you haven’t noticed, Europe’s startup scene is in full bloom, with more than $30 billion deployed in startups across the continent over the last 12 months and more than 20 countries now home to a so-called unicorn company. Investors around the globe are jumping into the pool, too. Consider that the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) is currently …

Eddy Travels closes pre-seed round led by Techstars to scale its AI travel assistant

Eddy Travels, an AI-powered travel assistant bot which can understand text and voice messages, has closed a pre-seed round of around $500,000 led by Techstars Toronto, Practica Capital and Open Circle Capital VC funds from Lithuania, with angel investors from the US, Canada, UK. Launched a year ago in November 2018, Eddy Travels claims to have over 100,000 users worldwide. …

France slaps Google with $166M antitrust fine for opaque and inconsistent ad rules

France’s competition watchdog has slapped Google with a €150 million (~$166M) fine after finding the tech giant abused its dominant position in the online search advertising market. In a decision announced today — following a lengthy investigation into the online ad sector — the competition authority sanctions Google for adopting what it describes as “opaque and difficult to understand” operating …

Uber’s ride-hailing business hit with ban in Germany

Another legal blow for Uber in Europe: A regional court in Frankfurt has banned the company from sending ride-hailing requests to rental car companies via its app — with the court finding multiple competition violations. The ruling, over Uber’s dispatching process, follows a legal challenge brought by a German taxi association. In Germany Uber’s ride-hailing business works exclusively with professional …

Airbnb is a platform not an estate agent, says Europe’s top court

Airbnb will be breathing a sigh of relief today: Europe’s top court has judged it to be an online platform which merely connects people looking for short term accommodation, rather than a full-blown estate agent. The ruling may make it harder for the ‘home sharing’ platform to be forced to comply with local property regulations — at least under current …

Mental health startup eQuoo joins UK’s NHS app library, closes in on seed round

UK-based mental health startup eQuoo has become the only game in the UK’s National Health Service App Library and is set to shortly close it’s seed funding round. The app is an emotional fitness game that aims to teach healthy psychological skills. The NHS announcement means a UK doctor can now formally refer eQuoo to their patients to improve their …

Helsinki’s Speechly raises €2M seed for its ‘natural language understanding’ API

Speechly, a startup out of Helsinki that boasts an experienced team of speech recognition and “natural language understanding” experts, has raised €2 million in seed funding to make it easier for developers to add a voice UI to their products. The round is led by Berlin’s Cherry Ventures, with participation from Seedcamp, Quantum Angels, Joyance Partners, Social Starts, Tiny.vc, Juha …

UK’s competition regulator asks for views on breaking up Google

The UK’s competition regulator has raised concerns about the market power of digital ad platform giants Google and Facebook in an interim report published today, opening up a consultation on a range of potential inventions — from breaking up platform giants, to limiting their ability to set self-serving defaults, and enforcing data sharing and/or feature interoperability to help rivals compete. Breaking …

Why CEOs should spend up to half their time recruiting

Hiring the right people may be the most important thing you do when you start a new company. But how much time should founders spend on hiring when there are so many other competing demands? Last week, we discussed team-building and several other issues during a panel on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt Berlin with Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince …

EF’s Matt Wichrowski is joining Berlin enterprise and ‘deeptech’ seed firm Fly Ventures as partner

Entrepeneur First, the London headquartered “talent investor” and company builder backed by Silicon Valley’s Greylock, is losing long-time employee Matt Wichrowski to a career in venture capital. TechCrunch has learned that Wichrowski, who is currently running EF’s “Launch” programme in Europe and is an angel investor, is joining Berlin-based Fly Ventures where he’ll be giving the enterprise and ‘deeptech’ seed …

And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019 is… Scaled Robotics

At the very beginning, there were 14 startups. After two days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner. Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $50,000 …

Be in the TechCrunch End of Year Review for Europe

TechCrunch is running an end-of-year review for the European tech startup industry. We’d love your input on the feature! We’d like to know what particular topics really resonated with you in 2019 and what your predictions are for 2020. Fill in the survey here. Please give us your thoughts in the survey below. The more ‘raw’, unfiltered or ‘blunt’ your …

Yubo raises $12.3 million for its social app for teens

French startup Yubo has raised a $12.3 million funding round led by Iris Capital and Idinvest Partners. Existing investors Alven, Sweet Capital and Village Global are also participating. The startup has managed to attract 25 million users over the years — there are currently tens of thousands of people signing up to the platform every day. Yubo is building a …

Former Uber exec Jambu Palaniappan joins Omers Ventures in Europe

Earlier this year, Omers Ventures, the venture capital arm of Canadian pension fund Omers, outed a new €300 million fund aimed at European technology startups, having recruited local VCs Harry Briggs, Tara Reeves and Henry Gladwyn. And now the firm is adding a fourth member in Europe: Jambu Palaniappan (pictured centre), the former head of Uber’s food delivery business in …

FintechOS raises $14M to help banks launch products as fast as fintech startups

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of FinTech startups like N26 and Monzo to challenge the incumbents with new products like challenger banks. But what if the big banks wanted to compete in that game themselves? This is the aim of FintechOS a Romanian startup that actually aims to help incumbents compete in this brave new, competitive, world. FintechOS allows banks and insurance companies to act …

Can a games platform tackle kids’ anxiety about having to do math?

You know that feeling when you look at your bank statements and try to figure out what on earth is going on? Or when you do your taxes? It turns out this isn’t just an insignificant feeling, but a scientifically recognized anxiety. Mathematics Anxiety (MA) is defined in research literature as feelings of concern, tension or nervousness experienced in combination …

Reddit links UK-US trade talk leak to Russian influence campaign

Reddit has linked account activity involving the leak and amplification of sensitive UK-US trade talks on its platform during the ongoing UK election campaign to a suspected Russian political influence operation. Or, to put it more plainly, the social network suspects that Russian operatives are behind the leak of sensitive trade data — likely with the intention of impacting the …

Move over Slack — Space is a new project management platform for developers

While file sharing, time tracking, email integration, Gantt Charts, and budget management are usually some of the most requested features in the average project management platform, we still have a proliferation of tools taking a multiplicity of approaches to the problem of just managing something. Most people in tech are by now familiar with Slack, Asana, Notion, Trello, Azure DevOps, …