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Facebook to move UK users out of EU’s privacy jurisdiction next year, post-brexit – TechCrunch

Facebook is to follow Google’s lead and move millions of UK users out of the jurisdiction of EU privacy laws to the US (which has no such comprehensive data protection framework) next year under a looming Brexit-related change to its T&Cs, Reuters reported yesterday. Confirming the switch, Facebook told the news agency: “Like other companies, […]

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Facebook is to follow Google’s lead and move millions of UK users out of the jurisdiction of EU privacy laws to the US (which has no such comprehensive data protection framework) next year under a looming Brexit-related change to its T&Cs, Reuters reported yesterday.

Confirming the switch, Facebook told the news agency: “Like other companies, Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc.”

“There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the UK,” Facebook added, using phrasing that elides the fact that the switch from the EU to the US inevitably involves a radical downgrading in legal protection for data and privacy.

Per Reuters, Facebook will inform users of the switch within the next six months — giving them the ‘option’ to stop using Facebook’s services (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) if they’re unhappy with the legal switch.

As we reported in February when Google announced a similar legal migration for UK users, shifting them from its EU subsidiary to the US, the move is a consequence of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union — which moves it away from EU standards, including its long-standing data protection framework.

Now, with just days before the end of the brexit transition period, it’s still not clear whether the UK will get a trade deal with the EU or leave with no deal — the latter ramping up the possibility the UK will also not get a data adequacy agreement from the EU, arguably making future divergence on data protection standards more likely (since there will be no ‘carrot’ of continued friction-free EU-UK data flows to encourage continued alignment).

The UK has also signalled it wants a data-fuelled levelling up of the economic, publishing a National Data Strategy in September that talks about making pandemic levels of data-sharing the new normal.

The document threw shade at the entire concept of data protection — saying the government plans to “promote domestic best practice and work with international partners to ensure data is not inappropriately constrained by national borders and fragmented regulatory regimes so that it can be used to its full potential”.

Since then privacy experts have expressed concern that clauses in a UK-Japan (post-brexit) trade deal are weakening the UK’s existing data protection regime (which is, for now, based on transposed EU standards) — and could allow for flows of citizens’ data to nations with “weak or voluntary data protection arrangements”, as the Open Rights Group warned last month.

The US is one such nation that lacks a comprehensive framework for data protection. Though California has passed its own consumer privacy law and residents voted in November to strengthen the regime. But at the federal level there’s no GDPR equivalent — yet.

With so much uncertainty on where exactly the UK is headed on standards post-brexit, it’s little wonder tech giants like Google and Facebook are taking the opportunity to shrink their liability under EU privacy rules — by removing the 45M+ UK users from its Dublin subsidiary’s jurisdiction, in Facebook’s case.

The recent Schrems II judgement by Europe’s top court has also ramped up legal risk and uncertainty over EU to US transfers of personal data, giving Facebook another potential reason to rework its UK T&Cs.

Of course it’s not so great for UK users, given the privacy protections they’re losing.

But this time that’s more on brexit than big tech. And in this case brexit means that from next year UK users are going to have to hope their own government doesn’t decide to junk national privacy standards in its bid to ink trade deals with countries like the US, while trusting that Facebook (er!) will look out for their privacy interests.

Yes UK data protection law will continue to apply. (Though good luck getting the ICO to stand up for your rights.)

But the overarching guarantee of standards provided for by EU law is going in 2021.

The US Cloud Act, which was passed in 2018, already makes it easier for data on Internet services users to be passed between UK and US agencies for investigative purposes, for example.

While the UK government has a worrying record on mass surveillance and attacks on encryption.

Its new ‘child-safety-focused‘ plan to regulate Internet services also looks set to apply pressure on digital services not to use strong encryption to allow for mandatory content monitoring and other types of identity checks.

So, tl;dr, brexit is shaping up to mean the opposite of taking back control in the data sphere — with less privacy and reduce online freedom speeding down the pipe for Brits.

As we reported in February when Google announced a similar legal migration for UK users, shifting them from its EU subsidiary to the US, the move is a consequence of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union — which moves it away from EU standards, including its long-standing data protection framework.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/16/facebook-to-move-uk-users-out-of-eus-privacy-jurisdiction-next-year-post-brexit/

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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin auctions off seat on first human spaceflight for $28M – TechCrunch

Blue Origin has its winning bidder for its first ever human spaceflight, and the winner will pay $28 million for the privilege of flying aboard the company’s debut private astronaut mission. The winning bid came in today during a live auction, which saw 7,600 registered bidders, from 159 countries compete for the spot. This was […]

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Blue Origin has its winning bidder for its first ever human spaceflight, and the winner will pay $28 million for the privilege of flying aboard the company’s debut private astronaut mission. The winning bid came in today during a live auction, which saw 7,600 registered bidders, from 159 countries compete for the spot.

This was the culmination of Blue Origin’s three part bidding process for the ticket, which included a blind auction first, followed by an open, asynchronous auction with the highest bid posted to the company’s website whenever it changed. This last live auction greatly ramped up the value of the winning bid, which was at just under $5 million prior to the event.

This first seat up for sale went for a lot more than what an actual, commercial spot is likely to cost on Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which flies to suborbital space and only spends a few minutes there before returning to Earth. Estimates put the cost of a typical launch at someone under $1 million, likely closer to $500,000 or so. But this is the first, which is obviously a special distinction, and it’s also a trip that will allow the winning bidder to pretty much literally rub elbows with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who is going to be on the flight as well, along with his brother Mark, and a fourth passenger that Blue Origin says it will be announcing sometime in the coming “weeks,” ahead of the July 20 target flight date.

As for who won the auction, we’ll also have to wait to find that out, since the winner’s identity is also going to be “released in the weeks following” the end of today’s live bidding. And in case you thought that $28 million might represent a big revenue windfall for Blue Origin, which has spent years developing its human spaceflight capability, think again: The company is donating it to its Club for the Future non-profit foundation, which is focused on encouraging kids to pursue careers in STEM in a long-term bid to help Bezos’ larger goals of making humanity a spacefaring civilization.

You can re-watch the entire live bidding portion of the auction via the stream below.

As for who won the auction, we’ll also have to wait to find that out, since the winner’s identity is also going to be “released in the weeks following” the end of today’s live bidding. And in case you thought that $28 million might represent a big revenue windfall for Blue Origin, which has spent years developing its human spaceflight capability, think again: The company is donating it to its Club for the Future non-profit foundation, which is focused on encouraging kids to pursue careers in STEM in a long-term bid to help Bezos’ larger goals of making humanity a spacefaring civilization.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/12/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-auctions-off-seat-on-first-human-spaceflight-for-28m/

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UBS investment makes Byju’s the most valuable startup in India – TechCrunch

Edtech giant Byju’s has become the most valuable startup in India after raising about $350 million in a new tranche of investment from UBS Group and Zoom founder Eric Yuan, Blackstone and others that valued the Bangalore-based firm at $16.5 billion (post-money). In a new filing, Byju’s revealed that scores of investors including Abu Dhabi […]

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Edtech giant Byju’s has become the most valuable startup in India after raising about $350 million in a new tranche of investment from UBS Group and Zoom founder Eric Yuan, Blackstone and others that valued the Bangalore-based firm at $16.5 billion (post-money).

In a new filing, Byju’s revealed that scores of investors including Abu Dhabi government fund ADQ and Phoenix Rising had together invested about $350 million in the startup. The new valuation helps Byju’s surpass Paytm, which was last valued at $16 billion, for the crown position in the Indian startup ecosystem. (Paytm is currently working on exploring the public markets and eyeing to raise as much as $3 billion and eyeing a valuation of up to $30 billion.)

The new tranche of investment is part of a larger round that Byju’s kickstarted earlier this year and is looking to secure over $1.5 billion. Some of its recent investors also include B Capital Group and hedge fund XN. The startup was valued at $11 billion late last year, and $5.75 billion in July 2019.

The startup plans to use the fresh capital, in part, to acquire more startups. Byju’s, which acquired Indian physical coaching institute Aakash for nearly $1 billion earlier this year, is conducting due diligence to buy and online learning startup Toppr and has also engaged with U.S.-based Epic, TechCrunch reported earlier this year.

Byju’s prepares students pursuing undergraduate and graduate-level courses, and in recent years it has also expanded its catalog to serve all school-going students. Tutors on the Byju’s app tackle complex subjects using real-life objects such as pizza and cake.

The pandemic, which prompted New Delhi to enforce a months-long nationwide lockdown and close schools, accelerated its growth, and those of several other online learning startups including Unacademy and Vedantu.

As of early this year, Byju’s said it had amassed over 80 million users, 5.5 million of whom are paying subscribers. Byju’s, which is profitable, generated revenue of over $100 million in the U.S. last year, Deborah Quazzo, managing partner of GSV Ventures (which has backed the Indian startup), said at a session in March held by Indian venture fund Blume Ventures.

The startup executives said at a UBS event earlier this year that Byju’s current revenue run rate is $800 million, a figure they expect will reach $1 billion in the next 12-15 months. It has also accelerated its international expansion plans in recent months.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/12/ubs-investment-makes-byjus-the-most-valuable-startup-in-india/

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Lightspeed buys Ecwid for $500M; NuOrder for $425M in ongoing e-commerce consolidation play – TechCrunch

Lightspeed, has picked up two more companies in what is shaping up to be an acquisition spree for the Canadian point-of-sale software provider. The company today announced that it would acquire e-commerce platform Ecwid for $500 million; and NuOrder, a B2B ordering platform servicing wholesales, brands and retailers, for $425 million. Together, the two deals […]

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Lightspeed, has picked up two more companies in what is shaping up to be an acquisition spree for the Canadian point-of-sale software provider. The company today announced that it would acquire e-commerce platform Ecwid for $500 million; and NuOrder, a B2B ordering platform servicing wholesales, brands and retailers, for $425 million.

Together, the two deals underscore the long-anticipated consolidation trend swirling around the fragmented e-commerce industry, at a time when digital transactions are playing an ever more critical role in the Covid-impacted global economy, and smaller players are looking for better ways to compete against behemoths like Amazon and Stripe with a mix of tools and services addressing the various needs of merchants, brands, suppliers and everything in between.

“By joining forces with Ecwid and NuOrder, Lightspeed becomes the common thread uniting merchants, suppliers and consumers, a transformation we believe will enable innovative retailers to adapt to the new world of commerce,” said Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed, in a statement. “As economies reopen and business creation accelerates, we hope to embolden entrepreneurs with the tools they need to simplify their operations and scale their ambitions.”

Lightspeed will pay $175 million in cash and $325 million in shares for Ecwid; and it will pay $212.5 million in cash and $212.5 million in shares for NuOrder, the company said. Both deals are expected to close at the end of September, pending regulatory and other approvals.

Lightspeed is publicly traded and has a market cap of about $9.4 billion. It has been on an acquisition march in the last several months, with the bigger picture being to build a complete, end-to-end, one-stop-shop for customers beyond the basics of the point-of-sale software that helped the company make its name. That has also included acquiring Upserve in a $430 million deal in December to deepen its presence in the restaurant industry.

Ecwid itself has been around for years, initially making its name as a key partner of Facebook’s to help small businesses build commerce experiences on the social media platform, and eventually expanding to provide tools for merchants that use services like Square and Wix, as well as other third-party platforms like Instagram and Google — sometimes competing with but also potentially integrating with other e-commerce backends like Shopify.

The company — originally founded in Russia — had largely been under the venture radar until last year, when it raised $42 million from Morgan Stanley and PeakSpan Capital, to double down on growth.

And that growth has been good. It current has 130,000 paying customers across 100+ countries and Lightspeed said it had revenue of more than $20 million in the year that ended in March, with growth of 50% year-over-year.. The deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and post-closing working capital adjustment, is expected to close during the quarter ended September 30, 2021 after the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

“The distinction between online and brick-and-mortar retail has disappeared. Lightspeed and Ecwid, two best-in-class platforms, will unite to truly empower businesses. By eliminating the barriers merchants face when selling online, we will only more rapidly achieve our common vision of democratizing retail for independent businesses worldwide and enrich the communities they serve,” said Ecwid CEO, Ruslan Fazlyev, in a statement.

NuOrder, meanwhile, will help Lightspeed deepen its role in supplier relationships and transactions — an essential cornerstone in how commerce works and one where Lightspeed had already been building a business, by way of its Lightspeed Supplier Network. NuOrder has 3,000 brand and 100,000 retailer customers — some of them include Canada Goose, Converse and Arc’teryx — and Lightspeed said that some $11.5 billion in orders were made through its platform in the year that ended in March.

Like Ecwid, NuOrder also posted revenues of $20 million in that period; its growth rate was 30% year-over-year.

“At NuORDER, we have been on a journey to revolutionize retail by building a global network for brands and retailers. The coming together of Lightspeed and NuORDER accelerates that vision exponentially. The power of connected commerce comes to life now,” said NuORDER co-founders and co-CEO’s Olivia Skuza and Heath Wells in a statement. “We are thrilled to join forces with Lightspeed to unlock transformative value for brands and retailers globally. This represents an inflection point in the history of retail.”

Lightspeed will pay $175 million in cash and $325 million in shares for Ecwid; and it will pay $212.5 million in cash and $212.5 million in shares for NuOrder, the company said. Both deals are expected to close at the end of September, pending regulatory and other approvals.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/07/lightspeed-buys-ecwid-for-500m-nuorder-for-425m-in-ongoing-e-commerce-consolidation-play/

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