Meet Smash Ventures, the low-flying outfit that has quietly funded Epic Games among others

When in 2018, Smash Ventures showed up as an investor in a $1.25 billion round for Epic Games — reportedly the largest ever investment in a video game company at the time — it was the first time many had heard of the investing outfit.

When the brand showed up again last summer in an even bigger round for Epic —  last August, the games giant announced $1.78 billion in fresh funding at a post-money equity valuation of $17.3 billion — a diner near Epic’s Cary, North Carolina headquarters that sells “smash waffles” started getting calls from reporters, says Eric Garland, who used to lead venture and growth deals for The Walt Disney Company after selling his company, BigChampagne, to Live Nation in 2011.

“Some reporters really turned over rocks,” he says.

Garland knows this, he says, because he cofounded Smash Ventures with Evan Richter, a former member of … Read more

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Kleeen raises $3.8M to make front-end design for business applications easy

Building a front-end for business applications is often a matter of reinventing the wheel, but because every business’ needs are slightly different, it’s also hard to automate. Kleeen is the latest startup to attempt this, with a focus on building the user interface and experience for today’s data-centric applications. The service, which was founded by a team that previously ran a UI/UX studio in the Bay Area, uses a wizard-like interface to build the routine elements of the app and frees a company’s designers and developers to focus on the more custom elements of an application.

The company today announced that it has raised a $3.8 million seed round led by First Ray Venture Partners. Leslie Ventures, Silicon Valley Data Capital, WestWave Capital, Neotribe Ventures, AI Fund and a group of angel investors also participated in the round. Neotribe also led Kleeen’s $1.6 million pre-seed round, bringing the company’s total … Read more

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Android’s spring feature rollout includes a Google Maps dark mode

Credit: Google
  • Google is officially rolling out a series of Android feature updates for spring 2021.
  • The highlights are a dark mode for Google Maps as well as better hands-free Assistant commands.
  • Scheduled messages, accessibility features and a system-wide password checkup are on the way.

Your Android phone is about to get a welcome refresh as the weather warms up in many parts of the world. Google is officially rolling out a string of Android feature updates for spring 2021, headlined by a dark mode in Maps.

While Google Maps had a quasi dark mode when you enabled navigation at night, the long-teased upgrade makes that available no matter what you’re doing inside the app — helpful if you’re looking for a late-night food delivery. When it’s available, you can enable the low-light option by choosing “Always in Dark Theme” in the app’s settings.

Related: Here’s why you might want … Read more

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LA’s Splice gets $55 million for its software bringing beats from bedrooms to bandstands

Splice, the LA-based, AI-infused, beat-making software service for music producers created by the founder of GroupMe, has managed to sample another $55 million in financing from investors for its wildly popular service.

The github for music producers ranging from Hook N SlingMr Hudson, SLY, and Steve Solomon to TechCrunch’s own Megan Rose Dickey, Splice gained a following for its ability to help electronic dance music creators save, share, collaborate and remix music.

The company’s popularity has made it from bedroom djs to the Goldman Sachs boardroom as the financial services giant joined MUSIC, a joint venture between the music executive Matt Pincus and boutique financial services firm, Liontree, in leading the company’s latest $55 million round.  The company’s previous investors include USV, True Ventures, DFJ Growth, and Flybridge.

“The music creation process is going through a digital transformation. Artists are flocking to solutions that offer Read more

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Bain’s Matt Harris and Justworks’ Isaac Oates to talk through the Series B deal that brought them together

It’s been almost 10 years since Justworks launched. The platform, founded by Isaac Oates, was yet another example of software eating the world; in this particular instance, it was the world of HR. Since, the company has raised nearly $150 million in funding.

All the way back in 2016, Bain Capital Ventures caught a whiff of Justworks’ potential for success. Partner Matt Harris led the company’s $13 million Series B round back when Justworks hadn’t even hit $1 million in annual revenue.

On the next episode of Extra Crunch Live, we’ll sit down with Oates and Harris to discuss how they met, how the deal went down, and how they’ve managed their board member/founder relationship over the last five years.

As with any episode of ECL, Oates and Harris will also give live feedback on audience-submitted pitch decks during the Pitch Deck Teardown.

Extra Crunch Live is a members-only … Read more

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For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

 

Early this winter, I took a long walk in the Salt Lake City park in which I had been arrested for bathing in a river when I was homeless.

About 30 minutes into that walk, I stood across from the park’s granite meditation temple, thinking: Three and a half years ago, I slept under that building’s awning.

I can still feel how hard that temple’s cold stone floor was; I remember how people strolled by my bed of cardboard and clothes and stared with what struck me as a combination of concern, contempt, and pity. Now I see that these are also the lenses through which I have often judged my own progress in my new, not-yet-middle-class life.

These days, I often wonder: Am I really doing as well as I should be after all this time? How did I ever allow myself to fall so far? Trying to Read more

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FGM safeguarding policies are alienating UK’s African diaspora communities

Credit: United Nations

AHEAD of tomorrow’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, by the United Nations, FORWARD, the leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls, and the University of Huddersfield have published new research that documents how the stringent, targeted, FGM safeguarding measures introduced since the 2014 Girl Summit are causing distress and mistrust amongst African diaspora communities in Bristol, and potentially across the country.

The research reveals first-hand evidence documenting how FGM safeguarding policies are leaving families feeling racially profiled, criminalised and stigmatised. To access the full study report, please follow this link: https://www.forwarduk.org.uk/forward-publications/fgm-safeguarding-bristol-study/.

Over the latter half of the last decade, the UK government intensified its response to FGM, giving FGM a ‘special’ status within national safeguarding, going far beyond the UK’s regulatory approach to other forms of child abuse.

This includes the introduction of FGM Mandatory Reporting Duty, the

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Predictive policing is still racist—whatever data it uses

It’s no secret that predictive policing tools are racially biased. A number of studies have shown that racist feedback loops can arise if algorithms are trained on police data, such as arrests. But new research shows that training predictive tools in a way claimed to lessen bias has little effect.

Arrest data biases predictive tools because police are known to arrest more people in Black and other minority neighborhoods, which leads algorithms to direct more policing to those areas, which leads to more arrests. The result is that predictive tools misallocate police patrols: some neighborhoods are unfairly designated crime hotspots; others are underpoliced.

In their defence, many developers of predictive policing tools say that they have started using victim reports to get a more accurate picture of crime rates across different neighborhoods. In theory victim reports should be less biased because they aren’t affected by police prejudice or … Read more

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Save $90 on the Pixel 4a 5G, and more of the best Google Pixel deals

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The Google Pixel family has long had a list of features that make it a go-to for die-hard fans. Whether it’s the vanilla Android experience or the powerful camera, the Pixel packs some features that set it apart from the pack. As Android nerds, we’re always on the lookout for Google Pixel deals. With the Google Pixel 5 finally here, we’re hoping that we’ll start to see bigger discounts on previous variants soon.

Here are some of the best deals on everything from the Pixel 5 to the original Pixel XL and everything in between.

Featured deal: Save $90 on the Pixel 4a 5G

Unlocked Google Pixel 4a 5G Best Buy Deal

Credit: Best Buy

The Google Pixel 4a 5G was already considered to be great value for its price point. Now a number of retailers have the Pixel 4a 5G on offer for $459 ($40 off), and Best Buy … Read more

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We asked, you told us: You don’t think Samsung should kill the Note series

Credit: Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Multiple recent reports have sounded the death knell for Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Some say Samsung will completely ditch the phablet line in 2021 while others insist there might be one last Note on its way out next year.

Based on these reports, we asked our readers what they think of Samsung merging the Galaxy Note series with the Galaxy S flagship line. We also asked our audience across YouTube, Twitter, and our website if they want Samsung to kill off the Galaxy Note series completely. Here are the results of both those polls.

Do you want Samsung to merge the Galaxy S and Note series?



Do you think Samsung should kill off the Galaxy Note series?



Results

60.4{0ab330907ab55d1d247a5e46cbfc213f668b37838ccb2fc637c3c0da5f4ad964} of the 1,238 Android Authority readers who voted in … Read more

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OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 will get Android 11…and then that’s it.

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • OnePlus confirmed that the OnePlus Nord N10 and Nord N100 will receive just one Android upgrade.
  • Since the devices ship with Android 10, that means they’ll eventually get Android 11 and then no more upgrades after that.
  • The company did also confirm that both phones will see two years of security updates.

The OnePlus Nord series is brand new in 2020. As such, we don’t have years and years of history to look at when it comes to software upgrades, security support, etc. Up until now, that info has been all up in the air.

Related: OnePlus phones: A history of the company’s entire lineup so far

However, OnePlus recently confirmed to Android Central that the two newest Nord phones — the Nord N10 and Nord N100 — will only receive one software upgrade. Both devices ship with Android 10, which logically means … Read more

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The Charlesworth Group strengthens Hindawi partnership in China

Leading open access publisher Hindawi has extended their partnership with The Charlesworth Group to include digital author marketing in China.

Credit: © The Charlesworth Group
© Hindawi Limited

The services provided by The Charlesworth Group form part of a holistic package of solutions across the entire publication journey to support Hindawi’s author engagement strategy in China. Through this partnership, The Charlesworth Group are now providing Hindawi with comprehensive digital marketing, including a new Chinese website and search marketing campaigns. Charlesworth have provided WeChat account management services and media monitoring to Hindawi since early 2018 and have recently begun offering Hindawi authors optional expert editing services through Charlesworth Author Services.

Through offering these new services, together with the existing WeChat account management service, this partnership can offer deeper author engagement in the China market at a key time for Chinese researchers as institutions begin to map out their publications policy in

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