Viva Republica, the company behind Korean financial services app Toss, has closed a $48 million Series C funding round that includes a strategic investment from payment giant PayPal. The deal is PayPal’s second investment this year — coming just days after it backed health startup Virta — but the round was led by San Mateo-based VC firm Goodwater Capital, which led Viva Republica’s Series B round and counts Korean tech giants Kakao (messaging) and Coupang (e-commerce) among its portfolio. Bessemer Venture Partners, Altos Ventures and Partech Ventures also participated in the round. The deal takes Viva Republica to $76 million raised to date. The company didn’t provide a post-money valuation, but Goodwater Capital partner Eric Kim said there’s “a clear path to it becoming one of Asia’s most significant fintech unicorns.” Viva Republica is known for Toss, a financial services platform that started out … [Read more...] about Korea’s top financial services startup lands $48M from PayPal and others
Facebook has agreed to buy leading instant messaging platform WhatsApp for a whopping $16 billion. The company made the surprise announcement in a blog post just minutes ago, detailing its reasoning for the deal as well as how it plans to go about the purchase. In short, Zuckerberg & co. are shelling out $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares to snap up WhatsApp’s technology and user base. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing. To better explain the deal Facebook highlighted some of WhatsApp’s key metrics: It’s estimated that over 450 million people are using WhatsApp worldwide today of which 70% are active, adding another million users per day and quickly approaching the entire volume of carrier-based SMS worldwide. "WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The … [Read more...] about Facebook buys WhatsApp for $16 billion, suddenly Instagram’s $1b acquisition looks like a bargain
The big picture: Twitter.com has been given a major overhaul that’s supposed to make the website faster and easier to navigate. On the front end, there is an improved layout with a left sidebar, new themes, and a new dark mode. On the back end, everything’s been rebuilt from the ground up to allow Twitter to bring new features to everyone at the same time and simplify development. Twitter has been having a problem with user growth, mostly due to its slow progress on reducing abuse on its platform, but also because it has a history of making bad design decisions that make it harder to navigate and communicate, such as fiddling with its reverse-chronological feed. Quality of life improvements such as rich content in retweets only recently made an appearance, presumably because Twitter has been working on something bigger. For the past few months, devoted users of the microblogging platform have been testing a significant redesign of Twitter.com, and today the company has … [Read more...] about Twitter’s web redesign is rolling out with easier navigation and a faster backend
A week after it accidently gave a sneak peek at its new photo and video sharing app, Facebook yesterday officially released Slingshot for iOS and Android in the US. The app lets you send photos or short duration (15 sec) videos to either an individual or a group. You can also send a shot to all your friends, a feature that Snapchat users have demanded for long. Like Snapchat, the content you share through Slingshot is ephemeral, which means that it disappears after it’s viewed, though you can auto-save what you create. The app also lets you add text right over the image or as a caption. But what truly differentiates the app from others is its reply-to-unlock feature that makes it mandatory for users to reply with a photo or video before they can unlock or see a photo or video sent by their friends. While some of us might perceive the feature as a needless hassle, Facebook sees it as a way to increase participation. "When everyone participates, there's less pressure, … [Read more...] about Facebook launches Snapchat competitor Slingshot with mandatory ‘reply to unlock’ feature
At nighttime, ominous lightning flashes above erupting volcanoes light up the sky like a living nightmare. Now, scientists are closer to understanding volcanic lightning, which stems from both ash and ice, two new studies reveal.Unraveling the origin of volcanic lightning has been difficult. In thunderstorms, the culprits are colliding ice crystals, which generate enough of an electric charge to trigger lightning. But ash clouds are less predictable and harder to study than supercells (thunderstorms), so scientists are still trying to figure out what sets off volcanic lightning. For instance, it seems absurd to blame ice for lightning in a volcanic inferno.Two new studies reveal different reasons for lightning above erupting volcanoes. One cause is static electricity, from particles rubbing together in dense ash clouds near the ground. The other source of lightning happens near the stratosphere, high above the Earth's surface, where jockeying ice crystals unleash powerful jolts. … [Read more...] about What Causes Eerie Volcanic Lightning?