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Microsoft acquires conversational AI startup Semantic Machines to help bots sound more lifelike

Microsoft announced today that it has acquired Semantic Machines, a Berkeley-based startup that wants to solve one of the biggest challenges in conversational AI: making chatbots sound more human and less like, well, bots. In a blog post, Microsoft AI Research chief technology officer David Ku wrote that “with the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI ... Read More »

Bail reform has a complex relationship with tech

On any given day in the United States, more than 450,000 people are behind bars awaiting their constitutionally mandated fair trial. None of them have been convicted of a crime — they’ve been accused of committing a crime, but no formal ruling of guilt or innocence has been made. That means these hundreds of thousands of people are incarcerated simply ... Read More »

WARD is an app for placing fantasy predictions on esports games

Prediction markets, such as those that exist in the realm of fantasy sports, have taken off amongst consumers in the last few years. But fantasy sports have yet to make much of a play in one of the hottest areas online right now, namely esports. And it’s a big market. Fantasy esports have been thriving across international markets. In 2017, ... Read More »

Job search engine Adzuna raises £8M Series C from Smedvig Capital

Adzuna, the meta-search engine for jobs, has raised £8 million in Series C funding from Smedvig Capital. The U.K. company’s previous backers include Index Ventures, Passion Capital, LocalGlobe and more than 400 Crowdcube investors. It takes total funding to £12 million. Founded by the team behind Gumtree, Zoopla and Qype, Adzuna essentially aggregates job listings across the web to offer ... Read More »

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank, finally rolls out Apple Pay

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank, has finally added Apple Pay to its mobile-only current account. The just over three year-old fintech says it has been one of the most requested features for its banking app, with over 2,000 mentions of Apple Pay on Monzo’s forum, whilst its customer support team have been asked about the functionality more than 13,000 times. ... Read More »

This jolly little robot gets goosebumps

Cornell researchers have made a little robot that can express its emotions through touch, sending out little spikes when it’s scared or even getting goosebumps to express delight or excitement. The prototype, a cute smiling creature with rubber skin, is designed to test touch as an I/O system for robotic projects. The robot mimics the skin of octopi which can ... Read More »

MemSQL raises $30M Series D round for its real-time database

MemSQL, a company best known for the real-time capabilities of its eponymous in-memory database, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series D round, bringing the company’s overall funding to $110 million. The round was led by GV (the firm you probably still refer to as Google Ventures) and Glynn Capital. Existing investors Accell, Caffeinated Capital, Data Collective ... Read More »

‘Welcome to the Jungle’ raises another $8.4 million

French startup Welcome to the Jungle is raising a funding round of $8.4 million (€7 million) from XAnge, Bpifrance and Kima Ventures, as well as existing investors Jean-Paul Guisset and Michael Benabou. Welcome to the Jungle is taking a different approach to job recruitment. The startup isn’t going to find employees for you. Instead, Welcome to the Jungle wants to ... Read More »

Cleveland offered $120 million in freebies lure Amazon to the city

A Cleveland.com article detailed the lengths the small midwestern city would go to lure Amazon’s in 50,000-person HQ2. In a document obtained by reporter Mark Naymik, we learn that Cleveland was ready to give over $120 million in free services to Amazon including considerably reduced fares on Cleveland-area trains and buses. The document, available here, focuses on the Northeast Ohio ... Read More »

Wes Blackwell joins Scout Ventures to invest in early-stage, veteran-led startups

We haven’t written much about Scout Ventures, but the New York City-based firm has built up a big portfolio over nearly a decade of investing, with exits like Olapic (acquired by Monotype for $130 million) and Kanvas (acquired by TechCrunch’s parent company AOL). And, it’s done all of this with just one full-time partner, Bradley C. Harrison — until recently, ... Read More »

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