Singapore's micromobility startup Beam raises $26 million

Singapore's micromobility startup Beam raises $  26 millionBeam, a Singapore-headquartered micromobility firm that offers shared e-scooters, has raised $ 26 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its footprint in Korea, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Sequoia India and Hana Ventures led the two-and-a-half-year-old startup’s Series A financing round, while several more investors from Asia Pacific region including RTP Global, AppWorks, Right Click, Cherubic and RedBadge Pacific participated, Beam said. The startup has raised $ 32.4 million to date, a spokesperson told TechCrunch.



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Africa Roundup: DHL invests in MallforAfrica, Zipline launches in US, Novastar raises $200M

Africa Roundup: DHL invests in MallforAfrica, Zipline launches in US, Novastar raises $  200MMallforAfrica and Zipline — were tapped by international interests. DHL acquired a minority stake in Link Commerce, a turn-key e-commerce company that grew out of MallforAfrica.com — a Nigerian digital-retail startup. Link Commerce offers a white-label solution for doing online-sales in emerging markets.



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David Guetta Raises Over $450K During NYC’s Largest At-Home Dance Party for Coronavirus Relief

David GuettaDavid Guetta just brought New York City’s largest dance party from the Top of the Rock directly into fans’ homes through his #UnitedAtHomeNYC livestream.
In an a collaborative…

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Trump drug hydroxychloroquine raises death risk in Covid patients, study says

Coronavirus hospital patients given hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die, medical journal study says.
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Magic Leap raises $350 million and puts layoffs on hold

Magic Leap raises $  350 million and puts layoffs on holdMagic Leap has been struggling for quite a while now, but the past year has been especially difficult due to poor sales and the coronavirus pandemic.



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India's Khatabook raises $60 million to help merchants digitize bookkeeping and accept payments online

India's Khatabook raises $  60 million to help merchants digitize bookkeeping and accept payments onlineKhatabook, a startup that is helping small businesses in India record financial transactions digitally and accept payments online with an app, has raised $ 60 million in a new financing round as it looks to gain more ground in the world’s second most populous nation. The new financing round, Series B, was led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital. A range of other new and existing investors, including Sequoia India, Partners of DST Global, Tencent, GGV Capital, RTP Global, Hummingbird Ventures, Falcon Edge Capital, Rocketship.vc and Unilever Ventures, also participated in the round, as did Facebook’s Kevin Weil, Calm’s Alexander Will, CRED’s Kunal Shah and Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.



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Elon Musk: Tesla raises cost of ‘self-driving’ cars

Elon Musk hikes the price of Tesla’s “self-driving” option by $ 1,000 and says it will continue to rise.
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Robin Hood Raises Over $115 Million Toward COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Efforts

Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, and iHeartMedia came together Monday night to air a citywide “virtual telethon” to raise awareness and funds to help New Yorkers whose lives have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
Hosted by Tina Fey, “Rise Up New York!” featured appearances by Awkwafina, Barbra Streisand, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Robert De Niro, Jessica Chastain, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Spike Lee. Musical performances included Alicia Keys, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Ben Platt, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Cynthia Erivo, Sting, Mariah Carey and Bon Jovi.
To date, Robin Hood has raised more than $ 115 million toward relief and recovery efforts since the onset of the pandemic in New York City. In addition to Monday night’s telethon, more than $ 44 million of the funds were already raised through the Robin Hood Relief Fund and more than $ 1.5 million has been raised through Robin Hood’s “Relief Corps,” which includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Karlie Koss and Katie Couric.
Rise Up New York! aired across local New York City broadcast TV stations; Cheddar, News 12, RSN SportsNet NewYork/SNY; Spectrum News NY1, and YES Network, along with iHeartMedia and Entercom broadcast radio stations, Sirius XM and CNBC.

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JobHopin, a startup that wants to make job hunting in Southeast Asia easier, raises $2.45 million Series A

JobHopin, a startup that wants to make job hunting in Southeast Asia easier, raises $  2.45 million Series AJobHopin, a Vietnam-based startup building an automated job-recruitment platform for Southeast Asia, announced today that it has closed a $ 2.45 million Series A. This brings JobHopin’s total raised so far to more than $ 3 million, from investors including SEMA Translink, KK Fund, Mynavi Corporation, Edulab Capital Partners, NKC Asia and Canaan Capital. Founded in 2017 by CEO Kevin Tung Nguyen, JobHopin’s matching platform, called Bunny, uses machine learning to pair candidates with jobs. The company says there are about 60 million knowledge economy workers in Southeast Asia, and about 108 million job placements a year, but many positions take more than a month to fill on average, because many companies still do pre-screening work manually.



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JobHopin, a startup that wants to make job hunting in Southeast Asia easier, raises $2.45 million Series A

JobHopin, a startup that wants to make job hunting in Southeast Asia easier, raises $  2.45 million Series AJobHopin, a Vietnam-based startup building an automated job-recruitment platform for Southeast Asia, announced today that it has closed a $ 2.45 million Series A. This brings JobHopin’s total raised so far to more than $ 3 million, from investors including SEMA Translink, KK Fund, Mynavi Corporation, Edulab Capital Partners, NKC Asia and Canaan Capital. Founded in 2017 by CEO Kevin Tung Nguyen, JobHopin’s matching platform, called Bunny, uses machine learning to pair candidates with jobs. The company says there are about 60 million knowledge economy workers in Southeast Asia, and about 108 million job placements a year, but many positions take more than a month to fill on average, because many companies still do pre-screening work manually.



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Guy Fieri Raises More Than $20 Million for Restaurant Workers Affected by Coronavirus

The Mayor of Flavortown is giving back to restaurant workers around the country. Guy Fieri has helped raise more than $ 20 million by partnering with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, he announced in an interview with TMZ. He and the organization have been sending restaurant workers $ 500 grants through the newly created Restaurant Employee […]

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Gollum star Andy Serkis raises £280,000 after mammoth ‘Hobbitathon’ reading

Andy Serkis has raised more than £280,000 for charity after completing a live, continuous reading of The Hobbit.
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Nigeria’s Helium Health raises $10M Series A for Africa expansion

Nigeria’s Helium Health raises $  10M Series A for Africa expansionNigerian startup Helium Health sits in a good position during a difficult period, according to its co-founder. The Lagos based healthtech venture is in the black, has batted away acquisition offers, and just raised a $ 10 million Series A round, CEO Adegoke Olubusi told TechCrunch. The startup offers a product suit that digitizes data, formalizes monetization and enables telemedicine for health care systems in Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana.



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Nigeria’s Helium Health raises $10M Series A for Africa expansion

Nigeria’s Helium Health raises $  10M Series A for Africa expansionNigerian startup Helium Health sits in a good position during a difficult period, according to its co-founder. The Lagos based healthtech venture is in the black, has batted away acquisition offers, and just raised a $ 10 million Series A round, CEO Adegoke Olubusi told TechCrunch. The startup offers a product suit that digitizes data, formalizes monetization and enables telemedicine for health care systems in Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana.



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LetsGetChecked raises $71 million as COVID-19 epidemic makes home-testing increasingly vital

LetsGetChecked raises $  71 million as COVID-19 epidemic makes home-testing increasingly vitalAs the country wrestles with the COVID-19 epidemic, home health testing, checkups and diagnostics have never been more important and companies like LetsGetChecked are filling a void left in a U.S. healthcare system consumed by the outbreak. The surge in demand for the company’s services has led to an equal surge in investor interest, and LetsGetChecked is one of many home health and remote diagnostics companies to raise new capital during the pandemic. The company’s new $ 71 million financing isn’t just about the services the company can provide during the COVID-19 epidemic.



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Singapore's logistics startup Ninja Van raises $279M

Singapore's logistics startup Ninja Van raises $  279MNinja Van, a Singapore-based logistics startup, has secured an additional $ 279 million in fresh funding as it works to scale its operations to keep up with the surge in e-commerce deliveries in six Southeast Asian countries. Europe’s GeoPost, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Carmenta, Golden Gate Ventures Growth Fund, Intouch Holding, Grab, and two sovereign wealth funds put money in the six-year old startup’s Series D financing round. The startup, which has raised about $ 400 million to date, did not disclose its valuation — but an analysis of an early tranche of this round coupled with today’s announcement suggests that Ninja Van is now valued at about $ 750 million.



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Vietnamese online pharmaceutical marketplace BuyMed raises $2.5 million

Vietnamese online pharmaceutical marketplace BuyMed raises $  2.5 millionBuyMed, a Vietnamese startup that wants to fix Southeast Asia’s complex pharmaceutical distribution networks, announced today it has raised $ 2.5 million in pre-Series A funding. Investors include Sequoia Capital India’s Surge early-stage accelerator program, and Genesia Ventures. Returning investor Cocoon Capital also participated.



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Igloo raises $8.2M to bring insurance to more people in Southeast Asia

Igloo raises $  8.2M to bring insurance to more people in Southeast AsiaSingapore-based Igloo, formerly known as Axinan, has raised $ 8.2 million as the insurance-tech startup looks to broaden its foothold in half a dozen Southeast Asian markets and Australia. InVent, a corporate venture capital arm of telecommunications firm Intouch Holdings, led Igloo’s extended Series A round, the startup told TechCrunch. Existing investors Openspace Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in Southeast Asia, and Linear Capital, a Shanghai-based early-stage venture capital firm focusing on tech-driven startups, participated in this round, which makes four-year-old Igloo’s to-date raise to $ 16 million.



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Star-studded concert raises money – and spirits – during lockdown

Stars from around the world have taken part in a global event from their homes to support front line workers tackling the coronavirus outbreak.
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Trade Republic, a German Robinhood, raises $67M led by Accel and Founders Fund

Trade Republic, a German Robinhood, raises $  67M led by Accel and Founders FundIn the US, Robinhood has led the charge in upending the stock investing model through its mobile-first, minimal-step, commission free trading platform. Now, a startup out of Germany built on a similar premise is announcing a big round of funding from some top investors to continue its growth. Trade Republic — which lets people buy and sell shares, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and derivatives by way of a mobile app, paying just €1 ($ 1.09) in fees (no commission) — is today announcing the it has closed €62 million ($ 67 million at today’s rates) in funding to expand its business into more markets in Europe and to move into adjacent business lines in the near future.



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Gousto, a UK meal-kit service, raises another $41M as business booms under lockdown

Gousto, a UK meal-kit service, raises another $  41M as business booms under lockdownFood delivery — be it ready-made restaurant meals, groceries, or anything in between — has seen a huge surge of activity in the last few weeks as people have sheltered in place to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. Today, one of the startups that’s built a business specifically in meal-kits in the UK is announcing funding to double down on its growth. Gousto, a London-based meal-kit service, has closed £33 million ($ 41 million) in funding, money that it’s going to be using to continue investing in its technology — both in the AI engine that it says customers use to get more personalised recommendations of what to cook and eat, and in the backend tech used to optimise its own logistics and other operations — and in building more capacity to meet rising demand and expanding next-day delivery in the near future (it mainly operates on a three-day turnaround between ordering and delivery currently).



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India's FarEye raises $25M to grow its logistics SaaS startup in international markets

India's FarEye raises $  25M to grow its logistics SaaS startup in international marketsMore than 150 e-commerce and delivery companies globally use an Indian logistics startup’s service to work out the optimum way before they ship items to their customers. M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, led the seven-year-old startup’s Series D financing round. Eight Roads Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, and existing investor SAIF Partners participated in the round, which pushes FarEye’s total raise-to-date to $ 40 million.



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Mighty Jaxx raises $3.2 million for MightyVerse, its platform for tech-enabled collectible figures

Mighty Jaxx raises $  3.2 million for MightyVerse, its platform for tech-enabled collectible figuresMighty Jaxx, which makes licensed collectibles, has raised 4.5 million Singapore dollars (about $ 3.2 million) in funding for MightyVerse, its platform for tech-enabled figures. Led by the investment arm of KB Financial Group, one of South Korea’s largest banks, the round also included participation from Greycroft Partners’ gaming fund GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund and returning investor SG Innovate. This brings Mighty Jaxx’s total pre-Series A funding to about $ 4.7 million, with part of the new capital also earmarked to develop products from its new licensing deals with Hasbro and Nickelodeon.



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ClimateView raises $2.5 million for its toolkit to visualize climate mitigation plans

ClimateView raises $  2.5 million for its toolkit to visualize climate mitigation plansClimateView, a Swedish software development company working on monitoring and visualization tools for greenhouse gas emissions, said it has raised $ 2.5 million in its latest round of financing. While the world is gripped by the material and economic toll of the COVID-19 epidemic, the problems society faces from longterm global climate change have not gone away. It’s against this backdrop that investors including the Norrsken Foundation, an impact investment firm established by Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth; and Nordic Makers, an angel syndicate composed of founders from Zendesk, Sitecore, and Unity Technologies, decided to invest in ClimateView.



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Coronavirus: Lady Gaga raises $35m and announces TV concert

Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Sir Elton John will perform at the concert, which will be streamed globally.
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MyBuddy.ai, a virtual tutor for kids learning English, raises $1 million seed round

MyBuddy.ai, a virtual tutor for kids learning English, raises $  1 million seed roundMyBuddy.ai, a startup that develops virtual tools to help kids learn English, announced today that it has raised $ 1 million in seed funding from LETA Capital. The San Francisco-based company’s app features a AI-based virtual tutor called Buddy who coaches kids through a series of exercises. This has exacerbated the chronic shortage of qualified English language teachers needed for half a billion kids struggling to learn English as a second language.



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Social Distancing Hat Gains Popularity, Raises Funds Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a number of fashion brands are pitching in to help with COVID-19 relief efforts, including a few new entrants that are leveraging the global crisis to do some good.
Enter Social Distancing Hat, a fund-raising initiative launched two weeks ago that’s giving a nod to the now well-known phrase experts have been using to help stop the spread of the virus. The hat, which comes in black, white and tan, sells for $ 29.99 with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to elderly people impacted by COVID-19 across the country.
“I was watching the news and reading different things on social media and things were not looking so well for the country,” said Matthew Rudin, the initiative’s creator, during a phone interview from San Francisco. “I felt kind of powerless and thought I could do something using the Internet to try to help.”

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I find hope in the darkest days, and focus on the brightest -Dalai Lama 🌼#uplifttoday #socialdistancinghat #socialdistancing
A post shared by Social Distancing Hat (@socialdistancinghat) on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:50am PDT

Rudin, who works in social media and doesn’t come from a fashion

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Sport Relief appeal raises more than £40m for charities

Some of the money will go to projects dealing with challenges caused by the coronavirus.
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iPrice, a platform for comparison shopping in Southeast Asia, raises $10 million Series B

iPrice, a platform for comparison shopping in Southeast Asia, raises $  10 million Series BThe company’s last funding announcement, from Line’s venture capital arm, was in May 2018 and its new round brings iPrice’s total funding so far to about $ 19.8 million. The company said it has more than 20 million monthly visitors and about 5 million transactions were made through its platforms in 2019.



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Dahmakan, a Malaysian "full-stack" food delivery startup, raises $18 million Series B

Dahmakan, a Malaysian "full-stack" food delivery startup, raises $  18 million Series BDahmakan, a full-stack food delivery startup based in Malaysia, announced today that it has closed a $ 18 million Series B. Investors include Rakuten Capital, White Star Capital, JAFCO Asia and GEC-KIP Fund, along with participation from South Korean food delivery app Woowa Brothers, and returning investors Partech Partners and Y Combinator. This brings Dahmakan’s total funding to about $ 28 million. Launched by former executives from FoodPanda, Dahmakan was the first Malaysian startup to participate in Y Combinator’s startup accelerator program.



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Minute Media raises $40M more for its user-generated, syndication-based sports publishing platform

Minute Media raises $  40M more for its user-generated, syndication-based sports publishing platformWhen it comes to the internet, content may be king, but in many cases, the emperor has no clothes: that is to say, the masses may click on interesting stories, video, music and other media, but building a lucrative business around that content can be a struggle, with advertising-based models often providing little in the way of margins except for the very biggest properties (and even then, it can a tough balancing act managing costs). A startup called Minute Media believes that it has found a way through that challenge with a platform that brings in user-generated content across a number of its own mostly-sports-based media properties — built organically and by way of acquisition — and it then syndicates that content also through third-party publishing partners. Today, the startup is announcing a $ 40 million round to continue its growth — specifically to continue investing in its publishing platform; to invest in properties that it already owns; and to make more acquisitions.



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Graphcore, the AI chipmaker, raises another $150M at a $1.95B valuation

Graphcore, the AI chipmaker, raises another $  150M at a $  1.95B valuationOther past backers of the startup include BMW, Microsoft, Atomico and Demis Hassabis of DeepMind. In addition, we announced availability of the DSS8440 IPU Server in partnership with Dell Technologies and the launch of the Cirrascale IPU-Bare Metal Cloud.



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Created to help employees figure out health benefits, HealthJoy raises $30 million

Created to help employees figure out health benefits, HealthJoy raises $  30 millionHealthJoy, a platform designed to make it easier for employees to use their healthcare benefits, has raised $ 30 million in Series C funding led by Health Velocity Capital. Returning investors also participated, including U.S. Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures, Epic Ventures, Brandon Cruz and Clint Jones. This brings HealthJoy’s total funding so far to $ 53 million.



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EV fleet management gets another venture-backed contender as Electriphi raises $3.5 million

EV fleet management gets another venture-backed contender as Electriphi raises $  3.5 millionElectriphi, a provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles, has joined the scrum of startups looking to provide services to the growing number of electric vehicle fleets in the U.S. The San Francisco-based company has just raised $ 3.5 million in seed funding from investors including Wireframe Ventures, the Urban Innovation Fund, and Blackhorn Ventures. Lemnos Labs and Acario Innovation also participated in the round.



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Ride-share startup HopSkipDrive raises $22 million to focus on school transportation

Ride-share startup HopSkipDrive raises $  22 million to focus on school transportationSpecifically, the now 100-plus person company has deals in place with school districts in 13 markets across eight states where it works with more than 7,000 contractors. All, says cofounder and CEO Joanna McFarland, must have at least five years of childcare experience before they are allowed to drive for the startup. Interestingly, McFarland says the school systems’ most burning need is to ensure the safe arrival of both homeless and foster children, whose numbers in the U.S. have reached an astonishing 2.5 million and 440,000, respectively.



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Africa Roundup: Trump’s Nigeria ban, Paga’s acquisition and raises — Fluterwave $35M, Sendy $20M

Africa Roundup: Trump’s Nigeria ban, Paga’s acquisition and raises — Fluterwave $  35M, Sendy $  20MThe first month of the new-year saw Africa enter the fray of U.S. politics. The Trump administration announced last week it would halt immigration from Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation with the continent’s largest economy and leading tech sector. The new policy follows the Trump’s 2017 travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries.



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Nigeria’s Rensource raises $20M to power African markets by solar

Nigeria’s Rensource raises $  20M to power African markets by solarNigerian startup Rensource Energy has raised a $ 20 million Series A round co-led by CRE Venture Capital and the Omidyar network. The renewable energy company builds and operates solar powered micro-utilities that provide electricity to commercial community structures, such as open-air trading bazaars. “We’ve pivoted away from a residential focus…and we’re building much larger systems to become essentially the utility for these large urban markets we have a lot of in Nigeria,” Rensource co-founder Ademola Adesina told TechCrunch.



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Payment startup Chipper Cash raises $6M for Southern Africa expansion

Payment startup Chipper Cash raises $  6M for Southern Africa expansionAfrican cross-border fintech startup Chipper Cash has raised a $ 6 million seed-round led by Deciens Capital. The San Francisco-based company offers mobile-based, no fee, P2P payment services in six countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya. “Southern Africa is an area we’re looking to expand to in 2020,” he told TechCrunch on a call.



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Jiji raises $21M for its Africa online classifieds business

Jiji raises $  21M for its Africa online classifieds businessPan-African digital classifieds company Jiji has raised $ 21 million in Series C and C-1 financing from six investors, led by Knuru Capital. The Nigeria based venture, co-founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Vladimir Mnogoletniy, has an East to West presence that includes Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Buyers and sellers in those markets use Jiji to transact purchases from real estate to car sales.



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PM raises possibility of scrapping TV licence fee

Boris Johnson has raised the possibility of scrapping the TV licence fee by admitting he is “certainly looking at” the issue.
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Bill Belichick’s awkward postgame handshake with Bill O’Brien raises eyebrows

After the Texans dominated the Patriots all night en route to a 28-22 victory, Bill Belichick and Bill O'Brien had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it handshake (if you can call it that) at midfield. Was the brief exchange because Belichick was annoyed at how his team had played? Or are there lingering bad feelings from last offseason, when the Texans tried to hire Nick Caserio, leading to formal tampering charges from the Patriots?

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Norwich hospital: Mother of stillborn baby raises money for suite

Jenny Whatling says being on a ward with mothers who had had successful births had been “awful”.
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Iran letter raises prospect of ‘white list’ internet clampdown

Citizens fear Iran will soon limit access to a so-called “white list” of approved foreign services.
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Indian scooter rental startup Bounce raises $150M

Indian scooter rental startup Bounce raises $  150MBounce, a Bangalore-based startup that operates over 17,000 electric and gasoline scooters in three dozen cities in India, has raised about $ 150 million as part of an ongoing financing round led by existing investors Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital and Accel Partners India, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The new financing round, dubbed Series D, values the startup “well over $ 500 million,” the people said requesting anonymity. This is a significant increase since the year-old* startup’s Series C financing round, which closed in June, when it was worth a little over $ 200 million.



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India's electric bike rental startup Yulu inks strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, raises $8M

India's electric bike rental startup Yulu inks strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, raises $  8MYulu, a Bangalore-based electric bike sharing platform that maintains a partnership with Uber, said today it has won the backing of one of the country’s largest automakers. The two-year-old startup said it has entered into a strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, which has also funded Yulu’s $ 8 million Series A financing round. As part of the partnership, Bajaj will co-design and manufacture future generation of Yulu two-wheelers, Amit Gupta, cofounder and chief executive of Yulu, told TechCrunch in an interview.



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Los Angeles-based BuildOps, subcontracting software for real estate, raises $5.8 million

Los Angeles-based BuildOps, subcontracting software for real estate, raises $  5.8 millionSoftware development companies tackling services for niche industries, like commercial real estate subcontracting, continue to find Los Angeles to be fertile ground for development. The latest company to raise funding from a clutch of investors is BuildOps, which raised $ 5.8 million in seed financing from some big names in the Los Angeles tech ecosystem. Led by Fika Ventures, with additional investments from MetaProp VC, Global Founders Capital, CrossCut Ventures, TenOneTen, IGSB, 1984 Ventures, L2 Ventures, GroundUp, NBA all-star Metta World Peace, Oberndorf Enterprises, Wolfson Group and scouts from Sequoia Capital, the new financing will be used to support the company’s continued growth.



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Gentry raises red flag after Pelicans drop to 0-4

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said the fact his team lost to Golden State by 11 points did not indicate it was in the game at any point. “And I think that’s the most disturbing thing to me,” Gentry said after the Pelicans fell to 0-4.
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True Balance raises $23M to bring its payments app to more small cities and towns in India

True Balance raises $  23M to bring its payments app to more small cities and towns in IndiaSouth Korean startup True Balance, which operates an eponymous financial services app aimed at tens of millions of users in small cities and towns in India, has closed a new financing round as it looks to court more first time users in the world’s second largest internet market. True Balance said on Tuesday that it has raised $ 23 million in its Series C financing round from seven Korean investors — NH Investment & Securities, IBK Capital, D3 Jubilee Partners, SB Partners, Shinhan Capital, and existing partners IMM Investment, and HB Investment. TechCrunch reported earlier this year that True Balance — which has raised $ 65 million to date including the $ 38 million that it closed in its previous financing round — was looking to raise as much as $ 70 million for this financing round.



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Todd Snyder Raises the Bar With His Revamp of Liquor Store Space

NEW YORK — The Liquor Store will always hold a special place in Todd Snyder’s heart. And now, it’ll finally have his name on the storefront.
Snyder was the senior vice president of men’s wear for J. Crew when he transformed the aging storefront of a former liquor store in a landmark building in TriBeCa in 2008 into a stand-alone men’s shop. The store’s heritage-heavy clubby interior not only catapulted J. Crew into the spotlight for its men’s collection — including its poplar Ludlow suit that was introduced at the store — but it also helped put Snyder on the map.
A year after it opened, the designer resigned from J. Crew to create his own label. And while he’s found success with the Todd Snyder brand, he’s never forgotten his experience at the Liquor Store.
Snyder said he first heard the store had closed over the winter when a friend walked by the location and texted him the “For Rent” sign in the window. “I called the number on the sign and went to Westchester to have breakfast with the owner,” he said, adding that the building from 1809 has been in the same family for three generations. “It’s her baby, but when

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Dara O Briain’s appeal to find son’s lost teddy raises £25,000

Comedian Dara O Briain’s plea to find his son’s lost teddy bear has unexpectedly raised more than £25,000 for a cancer charity.
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Scottish Ballet’s Erotic Streetcar Named Desire Raises Temperatures in Chicago

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Sophie Martin as Stella and Tama Barry as Stanley in Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

They almost had to hose down the audience at intermission of Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire at the Harris Theater in Chicago on Thursday night. Erik Cavallari’s Stanley had just had make-up sex with Sophie Martin’s Stella, and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s imaginative way with the erotic pas de deux had everyone hot and bothered.

In a welcome departure from the one-note depictions of sex in the male-dominated world of ballet, the tiny, sinewy Martin calls the shots in this scene. The balance of power has shifted – after her husband struck her in a drunken rage, and she fled their claustrophobic New Orleans tenement apartment. Sober and whimpering upon her return, he spins and drags and upends her, at her hungry command; she flings herself at him repeatedly, in a flying half-twist, challenging him to catch her at the peak of her jump.

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Sophie Martin as Stella and Tama Barry as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

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Erik Cavallari as Stanley and Sophie Laplane as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

This is not a relationship that is likely to end well but, for now, Stella is in control, as she is at the mournful end of this Southern gothic tragedy, when she makes the anguished decision to commit her sister Blanche to a mental asylum. The sensual Martin is magnificent throughout, a firecracker. Cavallari, stocky and ripped, plays the sexual predator with attention to the small but explosive details of body language, wisely avoiding caricature – not an easy feat when you must swagger in the footsteps of Marlon Brando.

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The Company in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

Having decided, in tandem with stage director Nancy Meckler, to flesh out Blanche DuBois’ backstory, to unravel the narrative and present it in chronological fashion, Lopez Ochoa rose to the challenge of portraying the assorted sex acts that, in Tennessee Williams’ 1947 classic, take place offstage, or are mentioned only in passing in the dialogue. She draws expertly and seamlessly from a range of dance styles, never straying far from classical ballet, in a manner that flaunts the dramatic and technical flair of this handsome company.

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Victor Zarallo as Alan and Luke Ahmet as the Lover in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche, Victor Zarallo as Alan and Luke Ahmet as the Lover in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

Sexual exploits start with the homosexual encounter between Blanche’s boyish husband Alan and a man whom he meets at their wedding dance – a variation on the Romeo and Juliet meet cute at the Capulets’ ball, that here manifests as an unaffected and moving duet. This leads to a brief threesome, full of intertwining arms and confused glances, until Blanche’s revulsion – or jealousy, or both – drives Alan to suicide. Throughout the evening, the figures of Alan, in bloodstained shirt, and his lover reappear to dance with Blanche whenever she slips into an alcoholic haze – a striking choreographic gambit that embodies her frequent hallucinations.

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Luke Ahmet as the Lover, Victor Zarallo as Alan and Kara McLaughlin as Young Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche with the Company in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

The DuBois family estate crumbles – literally, in a triumph of scenic design in which a massive backdrop, emblazoned with a hazy photographic image of a stately Southern plantation home, explodes into a mass of wooden packing crates – driving the destitute Blanche to prostitute herself in a seedy hotel. The hotel sex is impersonal, mechanistic, efficient.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche and Erik Cavallari in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

The lonely Blanche seeks comfort in seducing a young boy. In another twist on Romeo and Juliet (MacMillan’s version), the boy lies on his back as she perches on his raised shins, arching her spine into a crescent.

In the rape scene, movement and score are stripped to a stark minimum. After taunting Blanche (danced on Thursday and Friday evenings by the statuesque, mesmerizing Eve Mutso), stripping her and kicking her to the floor, Cavallari props her against the bed (assembled, like the rest of the set, from packing crates) and smashes her against it, accompanied only by what sounds like the repeated slamming of metal doors that won’t stay shut.

Even crumpled in stillness, Mutso conveys a mix of fragility and willpower. In motion, she calibrates her movement to suggest a constant sense of being slightly off-balance, on the brink of collapse, the elegant sweep of her preternaturally long arms and legs swiftly fractured by bent elbows and knees.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche with the Company in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

Lopez Ochoa’s command of the ensemble is no less compelling than her portrayals of intimacy and domestic violence. She gives the crackerjack corps de ballet a stern Graham-based vocabulary with which to drive Blanche out of her home town. Maneuvering packing crates into two tight columns, they become a seething mass of humanity on the crowded streetcar named Desire. They form two rival teams in a bowling alley, their high-octane swing routine fired up by a jukebox. In the final scene, as the doctor in a lab coat arrives to take Blanche away, the men and women of the corps appear as a menacing crowd in identical black dresses, crimson carnations sprouting from their mouths – a surreal mushrooming of the scene in the play in which a blind Mexican flower seller offers Blanche a garish bouquet of “flores para los muertos” (flowers for the dead).

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Eve Mutso as Blanche with the Company in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

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Bethany Kingsley-Garner and the Company as the Mexican Flower Sellers in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

The ballet opens and closes with the same image of Blanche reaching for a naked light bulb that descends from the ceiling. With gently fluttering hands and skittering feet, her spine arching and twisting, her head thrown back in hope and trepidation, the layered skirt of her white dress floating as she pivots indecisively, she seems to hover delicately over the floor. The gossamery manner in which she steps on and off pointe and makes swift, fine-grained changes between quarter-pointe and full pointe, belies the wondrous plasticity of her insteps, and remarkable control.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

Program notes tell us that Meckler and Lopez Ochoa were drawn to the image of a moth: Williams originally intended to title his play The Moth and makes reference in the play itself to Blanche’s “uncertain manner… that suggests a moth.”

Beyond the inventive uniting of drama, dance, score and set design to illuminate Williams’ psychological melodrama and caustic social commentary, this Streetcar brilliantly evokes the 19th century Romantic classic Giselle, in which a good-hearted peasant girl is driven to madness by the betrayal of a deceitful, two-timing aristocrat.

Ivor Guest could have had Blanche DuBois in mind when he recapped the first Act of Giselle, focusing on “the fragility of the heroine, her mind balanced between reason and madness.” Though Blanche is the aristocrat in Williams’ tale, she is twice betrayed – first by her secretly gay husband, and then by the working class Stanley, who resents her highfalutin ways, offended by the reminder that his wife comes from the same stock. The droit du seigneur exercised by the duplicitous Count Albrecht is here remodeled into the hypocrisy very much alive in 1940’s America, that allowed men to sow their wild oats and to treat their wives like possessions, while branding women who had sex outside marriage as damaged goods, outcasts, even insane.

There are thousands of papers stretching back over hundreds of years, affecting Belle Reve as, piece by piece, our improvident grandfathers and father and uncles and brothers exchanged the land for their epic fornications – to put it plainly!
– Blanche in Scene 2 of A Streetcar Named Desire remarks on the dissolution of the DuBois family estate

Upon Giselle’s death (or suicide), she is drawn into a gang of ghostly, moth-like maidens, draped in layers of white gauze, who have been similarly jilted and are bent on revenge against all men. The Wilis and their icy, shimmering, relentless choreography in the second and final Act of Giselle reflected a 19th century anxiety about growing numbers of unmarried, unmoored women whose sexual appetites could not be contained.

In the second Act of Streetcar, as Blanche’s hold on reality becomes increasingly tenuous, the ensemble women join her in her moth-like fluttering under a score of naked lightbulbs that descend from the rafters; the stage dims to resemble the eerie nights in the forest policed by the vigilante Wilis.

19th century nerves were calmed when the dead Giselle saved Albrecht from death at the hands of the Wilis – a female self-sacrifice to ensure male survival.

In Streetcar, Stella sacrifices her sister in order to uphold the patriarchy.

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Eve Mutso as Blanche and Adam Blyde as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

The image of an irresistible but unattainable, and sometimes cruel, light is further cemented by the repeated deployment of Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of Harold Arlen’s ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon,’ that at strategic moments serves to highlight Blanche’s retreat into fantasies and fictions that make life more bearable (“it wouldn’t be make-believe/ if you believed in me.”)

Peter Salem’s heady score veers from lush, decorous waltzes to a hypnotic minimalist brume, fragments of New Orleans jazz and jukebox, occasionally shattered by the shrapnel of industrial sounds.

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Adam Blyde as Mitch and Eve Mutso as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. Photograph by Andrew Ross.

Only one element seemed lacking in the ingenious and austere set design: a lighting scheme to indicate the curtains which divide the cramped space in the Kowalskis’ flat – a crucial device in the play that underscored how lack of privacy stoked tensions between its inhabitants.

The only gratuitous detail in the marvelously inventive staging was Cavallari’s roaring of “STELL-LAHHHH!” after she escaped his drunken assault. Lopez Ochoa should have trusted her choreography – and the wailing solo saxophone that accompanied it – to convey Stanley’s brutish needs. After his poker buddies shove him into the bath to cool down, Cavallari rips off his water-logged T-shirt and chews up the stage in a desperate quest to track Stella down. There was no need to translate his magnificent body language into a verbal howl. Tennessee Williams would likely have edited that out.

Catch Scottish Ballet on the rest of its American tour, through May 30th: check tour dates for San Antonio, Houston, Pittsburgh, Charleston and Washington, DC on their website.

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