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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    Peter Thiel Casual

    Peter Thiel is one of the most successful VC investors in the world.

    He's most famous for his early investment in Facebook, but he also owns a stake in many startups worth billions of dollars, like Palantir, Stripe, and SoFi.

    How does Thiel seem to find fast-growing startups so easily?

    One good rule of thumb: look for startups that can't be articulated in the right words.

    Thiel shared his thinking in an interview with Keith Rabois at this year's KV CEO Summit, hosted by VC firm Khosla Ventures. The event took place in July but the video of the interview was posted earlier this week.

    "I think in some ways the really good companies often couldn’t even be articulated...we didn’t quite have the right words. Or maybe they were articulated but were articulated in terms of categories that were actually misleading," Thiel said.

    That means the startup's idea has to be so new that it's not easily understood by everybody. For example, Thiel said most people called Google just another search engine, when in fact, it was the "first machine-powered" search engine. Even Facebook, he says, was called just another social network, when it was actually a company that "cracked real identity" online.

    Thiel added the same thinking goes the other way: avoid startups that use too many buzzwords.

    So if a startup describes itself with trendy words like big data, cloud computing, or software-as-a-service, it's time to run away.

    “I’d often said when you hear those words, you need to think fraud and run away as fast as you can," Thiel said. "It’s like a tell that you’re bluffing, that there’s nothing unique about the business."

    You can watch the full interview below:

     

    SEE ALSO: This 23-person startup raised $10 million using these 21 slides

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Gerard Grech, Tech City UK CEO

    A visa that allows overseas tech workers to move to the UK has gained in popularity since the EU referendum, The Telegraph reports.

    The tech immigration visa, which is specifically for non-EU tech workers and managed by government quango Tech City UK, was announced in 2013 in a bid to attract more of the world's best engineers and coders to move the UK.

    It got off to a slow start with just seven people applying for the 200 available spots in the first year, but things seem to be changing.

    More than 200 people have reportedly applied for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for Digital Technology since April, up from 20 during the same period in the year before.

    A record number of people applied in November and Tech City UK is now expecting all 200 visas to be given out in the year leading up to April 2017. Tech City UK says the visa is most popular with tech workers in the USA, India, and Nigeria.

    Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, told The Telegraph he now wants to increase the cap on the number of visas that the UK gives out to overseas tech workers.

    "It’s an encouraging set of results," said Grech. "It’s one of those situations where we’re in ongoing conversations with the government, and we’re keeping an eye on it. We’ll have more conversations when we get closer to the limit. They know that tech talent is a growing part of the economy. They also understand that tech talent is a scarce resource."

    While the figures are promising, they come as thousands of European tech workers remain uncertain about their future in the UK post-Brexit. Indeed, if a "hard-Brexit" does happen then many of these workers may have to return home or apply for new work permits.

    Tech City UK, which was backed with £4.2 million of taxpayer money for 2015/2016, relaxed the visa rules last November, allowing groups of tech workers to apply together. The move was hailed by "revolutionary" by immigration campaigner Josephine Goube.

    Hiring talent is a big issue for UK tech companies

    Immigration is a big issue for UK startups, with many of them struggling to find candidates in the UK or Europe with the skills they require. PwC's 2015 Global Digital IQ Survey found 78% of UK companies consider a skills shortage in digital expertise as one of their main barriers to progress.

    The "Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa" was introduced by the Home Office in June 2011 as a means of fast-tracking the 1,000 skilled workers from outside Europe into the UK. In order to bring in these talented workers, the Home Office tasks a number of institutions — including Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society — with finding and endorsing exceptional talent outside Europe.

    As part of an effort to get more internationally recognised technical people to come to the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron announced in December 2013 that the government was going to allow Tech City UK to endorse 200 out of the 1,000 Tier 1 visa slots.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    hotel erwin venice

    Though not everyone is on board with the term "Silicon Beach," it's hard to deny that Los Angeles' tech scene is growing to rival its northern neighbors in Silicon Valley.

    Communities like Santa Monica, Venice, and West Hollywood — where many startups have set up shop — are known for their proximity to the beach and laid-back lifestyle.

    But Los Angeles is much more than sun and sand — there's a huge food and drink scene to enjoy there as well. Startup execs can sample top-notch cuisine from a large variety of restaurants, many of which place a priority on locally sourced ingredients and innovative construction. 

    We've asked some of our friends working in Silicon Beach startups where they like to eat and drink in their neighborhood. Their suggestions covered quite a bit of ground, from coffee shops in Hollywood to vegan establishments in Venice. Whether it's for a quick power lunch or after-work drinks, the focus is on fresh, high-quality ingredients they can enjoy on the go. 

    SEE ALSO: 14 science-backed answers to your biggest questions about wine

    DON'T MISS: Here's the favorite drink of every US president

    Groundwork Coffee

    671 Rose Avenue, Venice

    3 Westminster Avenue, Venice

    Other locations in Downtown LA, Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Hawthorne, and Portland

    This Venice-born organic coffee shop, which has grown to include several other locations in Los Angeles and Portland, is a favorite morning stop for many Silicon Beach-based entrepreneurs. Christopher Gavigan, The Honest Company's cofounder and chief purpose officer, and Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute, both listed it among their favorites.

    "While the coffee at this Venice staple is the perfect morning pick-me-up, it's the avocado toast that keeps me coming back," Kaye told Business Insider. 

    The avocado toast comes topped with corn, sweet chili sauce, queso fresco, and a soft-boiled egg. Kaye's direct-to-consumer bedding and home goods startup recently opened a one-room hotel in the neighborhood.



    Café Gratitude

    512 Rose Avenue, Venice

    Other locations in Downtown LA, Larchmont, and San Diego

    Cafe Gratitude offers a 100% plant-based menu and an uplifting message. You'll spot the words "What are you grateful for?" on the plates and positive affirmations on the menu. 

    Said Gunnar Lovelace, cofounder and co-CEO at the organic-food site Thrive Market: "Great food, shared values, and their chocolate cake is addictive!"

    "The Parachute team practically runs on their matcha lattes," Parachute founder and CEO Ariel Kaye said. "We need a tab."



    Back on the Beach

    445 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica

    When it comes to happy hour, Back on the Beach offers an experience you're unlikely to find in most other cities. 

    "It's the only restaurant where you eat with your feet in the sand, literally on the beach," Sam Polk, cofounder and CEO of Everytable, said to Business Insider. "I go there on Friday evenings after a long week to decompress, and also meet friends and family there every Sunday for beach volleyball and brunch. It also helps that my brother, Daniel Polk, is the head chef!"

    Egg sandwiches, huevos rancheros, and an ahi tuna salad are menu highlights at Back on the Beach. Everytable is a new healthy fast-food chain that has different prices based on the median income of residents living in surrounding neighborhoods.

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Siraj Khaliq, Partner Atomico

    Silicon Valley has long had a reputation for being the world's technology capital but an increasing number of cities in Europe are starting to give the Californian tech cluster a run for its money, according to a report from venture capital firm Atomico and event organiser Slush.

    Deep technology companies — generally considered to be businesses that are focusing on developing new intellectual property (IP) — are thriving across the continent and not just in the traditional technology hubs of London, Berlin, and Stockholm, the "State of European Tech Report" found.

    Published on Wednesday for the second year running, the report suggests that Munich, Zurich, Lisbon, Madrid, and Copenhagen will be cities to watch over the coming years.

    Tom Wehmeier, principal and head of research at Atomico, told Business Insider: "We believe the future of technology is happening here in Europe. Increasingly some of the most important services with billions of users are being created and built here from Europe."

    The report, which draws on a number of sources and covers a five year and nine month period starting in 2011, highlights the successes of dozens of European tech companies. 

    Produced by two companies who have a vested interest in championing the European tech scene, the report refers to independent companies like Spotify and King, while also mentioning some of the businesses that have been acquired by tech giants, such as ARM, which was acquired by Japan's SoftBank for $32 billion (£27 billion) in June, and NXP Semiconductors, which was sold to Silicon Valley chipmaker Qualcomm for $47 billion (£38 billion) in October.

    Other companies mentioned in the report include London-based DeepMind, which was acquired by Google for £400 million, and Cambridge-based Evi which was acquired by Amazon for a reported $26 million (£21 million).

    Atomico report

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook — the top five US tech titans — have acquired 52 European tech companies since 2011, according to the report. 36 of those acquisitions have been made since January 1 2014, meaning there was roughly one deal per month on average to September 2016.

    Deep tech companies include those working on AI, machine learning, speech recognition, data mining, big data, deep learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. It also includes virtual reality and augmented reality startups, as well as those working on new hardware for drones, robotics, radar, 3D printing, nanosatellites, and space. Wearables, smart home, and smart city startups also fit the bill.

    While Europe is producing an increasing number of deep tech companies, they're not being backed with as much capital as their rivals in the US, according to the report.

    Europe's deep tech companies have received $2.3 billion (£1.8 billion) since the start of 2015, the report claims, adding that over $1 billion (£800 million) should have flowed into Europe's deep tech firms by the end of 2016.

    Atomico reportDeep tech companies in the UK have raised more than deep tech companies in any other European country, according to the report. Some $1.3 billion (£1 billion) has been invested into the UK's deep tech companies, compared to just $582 million (£465 million) in France and $480 million (£384 million) in Germany.

    Siraj Khaliq, a partner on the investment team at Atomico, said that Europe's tech scene has changed considerably since the 1990s when he left for the Valley. He believes that today, Europe's tech scene is not only keeping up with Silicon Valley but that it is also excelling it in some areas, particularly artificial intelligence.

    Khaliq, a Brit who built his own one $1 billion dollar farming software business in California, called The Climate Corp, said that Europe has always been "good at the academics" but commercialising has never been one of our strong points.

    The Cambridge computer science graduate added that many of his classmates simply went into investment banking or hedge funds when they finished studying because they could earn £150,000 to £200,000, as well as a large bonus.

    However, now they're increasingly looking to start their own company. Khaliq thinks people's ambitions have changed over the last couple of decades and so has the support network in Europe for entrepreneurs.

    The full report can be read here.

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    HF Classic Box New Logo

    Companies that deliver recipe kits straight to people's front doors are gaining traction among UK consumers, according to a report published this week by analytics firm Cardlytics.

    Cardlytics found that spending on meal kit services, such as HelloFresh and Gousto, grew by 64.6% in the first half of 2016, compared to the same period last year.

    According to the study, which is based on the spending behaviour of more than 5.8 million UK bank customers, the volume of orders placed with meal kit delivery companies increased by 47.6%.

    Recipe kit startups are building online platforms that allow consumers to choose several meals that they'd like to cook and eat at home. A box of food containing pre-portioned ingredients and printed recipes will then be assembled in a warehouse and delivered to the customer's home on a specified date.

    Cardlytics says that demand for healthy meal kit deliveries has taken a "small, yet notable bite out of supermarket sales."

    While overall spending on groceries continues to rise, albeit at a considerably slower pace since 2014, grocery spending among meal kit users fell by 2.8% in the first six months of 2016, compared to the same time period last year.

    Although meal kit users appear to be spending less in supermarkets, overall, UK consumers will still be spending considerably more at traditional grocery retailers than with these newer companies. Cardlytics could not provide the exact spending figures due to the contracts it has in place with its customers.

    Market research company Packaged Facts says the entire US meal kit delivery kit services market will generate $1.5 billion in sales in 2016. There was no equivalent Packaged Facts data for the UK, but given its smaller population, it's reasonable to assume the UK meal kit sector is smaller too. The UK's biggest supermarket Tesco reported group sales of £48.4 billion in the year to February 27, 2016. So while meal kit services may be making a dent in supermarket sales, it's probably quite a small one.

    timo boldt CEO goustoThe Cardlytics data also shows that customers using meal kit delivery services spent 2.2% less on eating out in the first six months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

    Peter Gleason, president of international operations at Cardlytics, said in a statement: "It’s clear that today’s consumers are increasingly concerned about the freshness of food, ingredients and labels. But, above all, people are craving convenience.

    "As new entrants invest heavily in strengthening on-demand propositions, it’s evident they are beginning to establish themselves as serious contenders to supermarkets and restaurants across the country. This presents a huge opportunity, both for established food retailers and new entrants that recognise the importance of adapting to their customers’ habits to build loyalty."

    Investors are putting tens of millions of pounds into recipe kit delivery startups. Berlin headquartered HelloFresh has raised over £220 million and is valued at over £2 billion, while London and Lincolnshire based Gousto has raised over £20 million and currently distributes almost 100,000 meals a week.

    Rory Stirling, an investor at BGF Ventures who has backed Lincolnshire-based Gousto, told Business Insider earlier this year: "The reason we invested in [CEO] Timo [Boldt] and Gousto is because we believe he can build the best business longer term. We’re willing to take that really patient approach.

    "We believe there’s a fundamental shift in the way people buy and consume food at home over the next 10 year period. Timo’s vision for that very much aligns with ours and we think he’s got the executional ability to do it. He may not necessarily have the most hype in the market but we believe he’s doing it right long term."

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    men working laptops startup

    Last year, startups were filled with fear that Silicon Valley was in a bubble about to burst. Now that it's approaching the end of 2016, startups aren't quite as concerned as they used to be — and 9 out of 10 founders think the time is better than ever to a start a new company.

    Given all of the fear and loathing startups were feeling in 2015, top venture capital firm, First Round, did another poll of its network of more than 700 founders and CEOs to see what it's like to have a startup in 2016. Times have certainly changed, and we've published with First Round's permission their entire results of the 2016 state of startups.

    Here's how startups are feeling about everything from overhyped industries (still bitcoin), to which company startups hope to be acquired by, to whether they've had to layoff people in the last year (nearly 20% of companies):

    SEE ALSO: The top 9 most popular restaurants in New York City, according to Uber







    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    20161119_UnreasonableImpact_CK2_2741Altaeros Energies is using tethered, airborne platforms to bring power generation, telecommunications, and technology services to the world's most rural and isolated communities. 

    Bitty foods uses crickets to create water-efficient, protein rich food with the potential to lift millions out of poverty and hunger.

    These environmentally and socially focused high-growth start-ups, along with eleven others, are part of Unreasonable Impact, a partnership between Barclays Investment Bank and environmentally-focused accelerator Unreasonable Group. 

    According to founder and director of Barclays Social Innovation Facility Mark Thain, it's all about job creation and social impact. "The green economy is one of the fastest growing sectors in job creation," he said to Business Insider.   "Jobs are being created by entrepreneurs and not established players."

    As part of the program, 13 startups focused on solving environmental and social issues went to a two-week immersive retreat at Cedar Lakes in upstate New York, where CEOs interacted with serial entrepreneurs, funders, global experts, and senior Barclays executives. 

    The days were filled with one-on-one mentoring sessions, issue-based deep-dives, feedback sessions, and workshops on design thinking and rapid prototyping, and the evenings with fireside chats and family dinners.  

    20161118_UnreasonableImpact_CK2_2515Mentors lived and worked closely with the CEOs at the retreat, discussing everything from business models to management to social media. Seven managing directors from Barclays were onsite, including Will Bowmer, who leads the firm's banking team that manages relationships with the venture capital community, and Steven Berkenfeld, co-head of the firm's cleantech initiative and emerging industrial technology companies. 

    Non-Barclays mentors included serial entrepreneur Jigar Shah who founded solar services company SunEdison, serial entrepreneur and Priceline.com founder Jeff Hoffman, and Tom Chi, one of the founders of Google Glass, Google X and Google's self-driving car. 

    The program culminated with a "Braintrust" event at the Rise co-working space in New York, where the companies presented their ventures to the Barclays network. 35 Barclays MDs, including Barclays Americas CEO Joe McGrath and Head of Loan Capital Markets Claire O’Connor, spent the afternoon in problem solving breakout sessions with the entrepreneurs. 

    This is the third year Barclays has partnered with Unreasonable Group with the goal of helping scale high-growth ventures addressing key global challenges with the aim of creating jobs. The first program took place in the UK with successive programmes in New York and Asia. 

    SEE ALSO: I listened to 82 finance startup pitches — here's what I learned about where Wall Street is heading

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    maple

    If you live in a big city like New York, you have more than a few options when it comes to enjoying a quality meal: you can try one of the dozens of restaurants in your neighborhood (and the hundreds outside of it), order takeout, or attempt to cook up something yourself. 

    But with each of those options, you're likely sacrificing at least one element you value, whether that's time, effort, or quality of food. 

    That is, at least, the idea behind Maple, a food startup that launched delivery to select neighborhoods of Manhattan in April 2015. It's different from other food-centric companies, though, in that it makes its own meals in a restaurant kitchen that's not actually attached to a physical restaurant. 

    "The entire city is our dining room. Think of it as building out blocks and blocks of seating," cofounder and COO Akshay Navle said. "The reason delivery makes sense is that we can reimagine what this restaurant looks like, and we can make use of all of this free real estate: your house."

    Maple has a preset menu for lunch and dinner every day of the week, excluding Saturdays. Meals can be ordered on Seamless, Maple's homepage, or on Maple's app, which is available on both iOS and Android. Each meal is whipped up by line cooks in one of the startup's five kitchens before being handed over to a delivery person who brings it to its destination. 

    The emphasis is on high-quality ingredients sourced from farmers and other suppliers that Maple can independently verify are trustworthy. It sources tomatoes from a local New Jersey farm, cheese and apples from upstate New York, and salmon that's tracked from the moment it was caught. Most lunches cost $12, including delivery, though the sushi, sashimi, and poke bowls cost more. Dinners are priced in the $15 to $17 range, also including delivery.

    "Because we own the entire process, we have more margin to go around than a traditional restaurant," Maple cofounder and CEO Caleb Merkl said to Business Insider. "That means we can put that money back in the quality of food that you get."

    In the year and a half since launch, Maple has expanded its delivery zone to include five square miles of Manhattan, and it's reached a milestone of one million meals delivered. The startup's five kitchens are intentionally situated so that they each serve an area within the radius of between a mile and a mile and a half. As the company scales to open up additional kitchens, it can further expand its delivery zone.

    maple

    "We needed to be physically close enough to our customers to be able to put something in the oven in the kitchen and ... still have it be hot by the time it arrived," Merkl said.

    A main commissary kitchen in Brooklyn does a lot of the heavy prep work, like chopping thousands of pounds of carrots, to name one example. To coordinate the timing perfectly, Maple has built out a proprietary tech stack that gets smarter as it goes along.

    "It's the heartbeat of our system," CTO Dan Cowgill said. "The infrastructure is based on collecting as much data as possible: where riders are, what they're carrying, what's currently being cooked in the kitchen. And that situation is constantly changing."

    The system has now collected data about enough buildings in New York — almost 10,000 at this point — to know how to bundle orders for the most efficient delivery. Cooks and packers in Maple's kitchens interact with iPads to prioritize their work. At this point, Merkl says, the company's artificial intelligence makes these decisions at a higher level than a human could. 

    "If I know that I have 70 delivery guys out in this zone, and I know exactly how many bundles they each have, I know what the ride time to each of those buildings is, and whether or not it's a doorman building where you can just leave the meal with the concierge, you can say here's the first guy who's going to be back and the minute he'll be back, and that informs the minute the cook starts cooking," Merkl said.

    Says Navle: "What we try to do is make sure that no food is sitting around. If a delivery guy is walking in, it makes sure that there's food ready for him to take out. It decides to do something based on it knowing when the next delivery guy will show. If it knows a dish takes six and a half minutes to make, it knows it needs at least a seven-minute lead time before the next delivery guy shows up."

    A dish has to pass more than 20 steps before it can earn a spot on the rotating menu, and even after that, the culinary team is constantly refining a dish once they know how popular it is with customers. Even when something is a hit, the team will continue to develop different versions until they create what they feel is its very best iteration.  

    "At the beginning, as we discussed the menu and dishes we would include, it was kind of a free-for-all," Maple's executive chef, Soa Davies, said to Business Insider. "We looked at things as they were delivered and noticed, OK, that ingredient doesn't work, stews can't work in this packaging, that lettuce doesn't last, some foods lose temperature more quickly than others."

    maple

    Davies previously worked in research and development at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin. Though the stakes were sky-high at Le Bernardin, she found a completely different challenge at Maple, where the culinary team has now developed more than 900 meals.

    "At Le Bernardin it was all about refinement, how it looked on the dish. We could work on one dish for six months before it went on the menu," she said. "At Maple, we collaborate palettes. It's supposed to be food for everyone, and we try to be as democratic as possible."

    After you enjoy your meal, the Maple app gives you the option to rate the experience out of five stars, as well as give more concrete feedback. What the team has found is that people are really opinionated when it comes to food. 

    "They want to engage one way or the other. They'll say, 'This was the worst meal I've ever had' for all of these reasons," Merkl said. "And then we've had people write love poems to Maple." 

    Maple then uses that feedback to develop additional menu items like sushi, desserts, beer, wine, and a roster of custom salads that they're currently rolling out to delivery zones in stages. It's also planning on introducing the ability to swap out sides.

    The team tries to create a well-balanced mix of items to choose from, both healthy and less so. On any given weekday lunch menu you'll see things like a tofu and soba noodle bowl, a spiced chickpea and chicken salad, a roasted turkey sandwich, and black bean and cheese enchiladas. If a meal is less popular than expected, they'll adapt it to be more in line with what people want. 

    Some interesting trends have emerged.

    "Sandwiches are really weak on Mondays and get stronger and stronger throughout the week. By Friday they're really popular," Merkl said. "I think people — whether they're on a low-carb diet or whatever — come into Monday and it's like a mini New Years' resolution that kind of falls apart throughout the week."

    Unlike some other popular companies that specialize in on-demand services, all of Maple's workers are W2 employees, from the line cooks to the delivery people to the engineers. Everyone who works more than 30 hours a week also gets access to healthcare. 

    "Our delivery people are the one physical interaction we have with our customers. The thing with W2 employment is that you can provide training, you can provide a uniform," Merkl said. "It also just felt like providing health care was something we should do."

    Maple raised $22 million in Series A funding in March 2015. Greenoaks Capital led the round, with contributions from Thrive Capital, Primary Ventures, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn, and Momofuku founder David Chang. It had previously raised $4 million in seed funding in November 2014. 

    SEE ALSO: What it's like to eat at the $138-a-person restaurant where Trump dined with Mitt Romney

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    ryan hoover

    Three weeks before he sold his website for a reported $20 million, Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover told Business Insider he was taking the "never say never" approach when it came to a sale.

    "Founders will always say, 'We will never sell' — but it's a very contextual question," Hoover told Business Insider's Lara O'Reilly on November 10.

    "There's a number of things to think about, like times when selling to a certain acquirer can accelerate or de-risk. It's one of those things that any founder should evaluate but not get distracted by. Building a company with the intention to sell is often a bad idea."

    Hoover's response was a harbinger.

    At the time, he was already in talks about selling his three-year-old site, which had become the go-to destination for tech makers to launch their products and for Silicon Valley venture capitalists to spot new ideas. On Thursday, Hoover announced he had sold his company to AngelList, a site used by early-stage companies to attract talent and financing. Recode reported that the deal was valued at $20 million.

    The company had previously raised about $7 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz and a smattering of seed investors, including AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant. The two had kept in close contact as Product Hunt grew, but the talks changed in tenor in the past few months.

    "This was somewhere around two to three months ago when some of those conversations talked about the future, and what we're looking towards," Hoover said. "When we think about what makes sense in long term, it helps accelerate those goals."

    As Hoover forecast in his remarks to Business Insider in early November, he had started looking for acquirers who could "accelerate" or "de-risk" the business. Product Hunt had focused only on building its community of makers for the past three years and was exploring how to create a revenue source for the company. The only trickle of money into the company had been through affiliate links, but that wasn't really seen as revenue because it was so small, Hoover said.

    Faced with building products from scratch to make money, Hoover realized the company would end up going head-to-head with AngelList to build things like job boards to connect creators and marketers with startups. Instead of going the DIY route, Hoover came to realize it would make more sense to connect the companies and accelerate their plans.

    For sure, the acquisition relieves some of the pressure from Product Hunt to become a moneymaker, and in the short term, Hoover said, the company gets to remain focused on expanding its network.

    "AngelList is not buying Product Hunt to start monetizing," Hoover said. "It's to help build the community."

    To commemorate the acquisition, the company is inviting that community to a party in January to celebrate the occasion.

    Signing the paperwork wasn't as ceremonious as he had expected. "The lawyers sent a Docusign over and it had a bunch of signatures. You click 'Sign, Sign, Sign,'" Hoover said with a laugh about the experience. Instead, the real fun and part of the early magic of Product Hunt will be when the followers of the site get to celebrate together.

    SEE ALSO: A top VC firm just put together a striking presentation on what it was like for startups in 2016

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    huel rob price

    You don't realise just how good food is until you lose it.

    Earlier this year, I stopped eating for a week. I wasn't fasting, or on hunger strike — I was trying out Huel, a far-out food-replacement drink that promises to give you all the nutrients and vitamins you need to stay alive.

    You don't need to stop eating food to drink Huel, and many users use it to supplement existing diets when they can't be bothered to cook, or don't have the time to.

    But some customers swear by a more extreme 100%, Huel-only diet— so I wanted to put it to the test.

    The rules were simple: No food, ever. (Other drinks were okay though, occasionally.) No additives not made by Huel. I could have as much Huel as I wanted, or needed. One week. That's it.

    Read on to see how I fared, but here's a spoiler: It really wasn't fun.

    (If you want a condensed version, you can also watch a video about my Huel-only week here.)

    Huel is developed by a UK company of the same name. It's pretty similar to Soylent, a buzzy Silicon Valley startup that also makes a meal-replacement drink.



    It promises to offer you everything you need in a drink. Protein, vitamins, carbs, minerals, fibre — it's all in there. A typical serving is about 500 calories.



    It comes as a dry powder that you then mix with water, much like a protein shake. You can also bake it into fancy recipes, and add all sorts of extra ingredients, with Huel enthusiasts sharing recipes online. But I wanted the hardcore, "pure" Huel experience.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Matthew Gertner CEO Corkscrew

    Picking the perfect wine to go with your meal isn't easy.

    Now a London startup has developed an app that aims to help you find the ideal red to combine with a steak or the perfect white to go with your lobster.

    The app, known as Corkscrew, draws on two databases — one for wine and one for food — before recommending some potential matches.

    "We’re able to actually generate a percentage compatibility between any arbitrary dish and any arbitrary wine," said founder and CEO Matt Gertner.

    Gertner told Business Insider this week that he came up with Corkscrew partly to eliminate the feeling of dread that wine amateurs feel when faced with a restaurant wine list.

    "The idea for the app really came from a pain point for me personally because I like good meals and I like good wine but I didn’t know very much about them," said Gertner.

    The app, which is available to download for free on iOS and Android, can be used in restaurants or at home.

    In order to get restaurant wine recommendations, users must first find and select the restaurant that they're in before selecting the food that they intend to eat. That could be a slight issue at present as the Corkscrew app currently only features a few dozen restaurants in London, but it does include the likes of Duck & Waffle and Caravan. The company also plans to start adding menus from restaurants across the city, the UK, and the rest of the world over the coming months.Corkscrew

    After the user has selected the dish (or dishes) they want to eat, they must then tap a button that reads "Give me the best wine." A couple of seconds later, the app will bring up a number of wines that are available for purchase in the restaurant and tell you how well they go with the food you intend to eat. A number of filters can be applied to narrow down your results based on price, colour, and volume.

    The app can also be used at home by describing the dish that you intend to eat. This can be done by tapping on labels such as "fish,""pasta," and "cheese."

    How the app decides which wine to pair with dishes

    In order to help the app decide which wine to pair with which dishes, Corkscrew has hired Matt Day — who has been working in the wine industry for 20 years — as its chief wine officer.

    He ranks each of the wines on the app based on their acidity, sweetness, alcohol level, fruitiness, and body, before assigning them a particular "flavour." Certain wine flavours are then assigned to certain dishes and given a compatibility ranking, which is stored in the app and shown to users as a percentage.

    Corkscrew has been backed by investors with close to £1 million. It currently employs a small team of five people and has been downloaded by a handful of investors and journalists that have been shown the app over the last couple of months.

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    Silicon Valley

    On Thursday, First Round, a leading early-stage venture firm, released the results of its annual state of startups report.

    And to no one's surprise, lack of diversity is still a big problem.

    First Round polled more than 700 founders (including companies outside its portfolio) to get their thoughts on everything from over-hyped industries to what time employees came into work. For starters, of the 700+ founders polled, 83% of the group were men, compared to 17% of women. 

    As you might expect, the prominence of male founders also meant a predominance of all-male or mostly-male companies.

    Simply put, tech companies don't make diversity a priority. 

    While the topic has been given a lot of lip service over the last year, most companies are still ignoring it. Here's some proof in the numbers from the First Round survey:

    • 61% of companies are either all-male or mostly-male. Only 8% are either mostly female or all-female. Nearly a third say they're split 50-50 between men and women. 
    • That diversity drops off when it comes to boards. 61% of the organizations' board of directors are entirely male. An additional 23% (or 84% in total) are mostly male.
    • Only 14% of startups have a formal plan to promote diversity and inclusion in their companies. The majority, 54%, said they have a strategy but nothing formal in place. Even Facebook, with its best-laid plans, has struggled with promoting diversity and inclusion in its ranks. Startups who think they have a strategy but don't have anything formal in place to hold themselves accountable or measure themselves by are deluding themselves.
    • Nearly a quarter of startups have no plans to promote diversity and inclusion and no plans in the works. Let me repeat that: Nearly 1 in 4 of the startups surveyed — despite the widespread recognition of the diversity problem in the industry — have zero plans to address it. 
    • 30% of startups say they haven't even talked about diversity and inclusion inside their company. While the majority of startups have acknowledged it in some talks internally or externally, nearly one in three companies hasn't addressed it at all.

    While those statistics reflect the well-known problem, the most startling chart from the results is the difference in how men and women view the cause of tech's diversity problem in the first place. Nearly half of all men surveyed pointed to the classic pipeline excuse: There simply aren't as many women or members of certain minorities qualified to do the jobs tech companies need done. 

    If you ask the same question to women, they come up with a different root cause: Women in tech largely attributed the industry's diversity problem to unconscious bias in hiring or promotions followed by a lack of female role models in the industry. 

    It's not a problem in itself that men and women splintered on the topic — after all, multiple points of view is exactly what diversity is all about and what startups need.

    Yet it's proof that men can't continue just talking to men and hiring men and agreeing amongst men that the problem is the lack of qualified women.

    First Round State of Startups 2016 Deck to BI.010

    SEE ALSO: 20 women Silicon Valley tech companies should be adding to their boards

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    20161119_UnreasonableImpact_CK2_2741Altaeros Energies is using tethered, airborne platforms to bring power generation, telecommunications, and technology services to the world's most rural and isolated communities. 

    Bitty foods uses crickets to create water-efficient, protein rich food with the potential to lift millions out of poverty and hunger.

    These environmentally and socially focused high-growth start-ups, along with eleven others, are part of Unreasonable Impact, a partnership between Barclays Investment Bank and environmentally-focused accelerator Unreasonable Group. 

    According to founder and director of Barclays Social Innovation Facility Mark Thain, it's all about job creation and social impact. "The green economy is one of the fastest growing sectors in job creation," he said to Business Insider.   "Jobs are being created by entrepreneurs and not established players."

    As part of the program, 13 startups focused on solving environmental and social issues went to a two-week immersive retreat at Cedar Lakes in upstate New York, where CEOs interacted with serial entrepreneurs, funders, global experts, and senior Barclays executives. 

    The days were filled with one-on-one mentoring sessions, issue-based deep-dives, feedback sessions, and workshops on design thinking and rapid prototyping, and the evenings with fireside chats and family dinners.  

    20161118_UnreasonableImpact_CK2_2515Mentors lived and worked closely with the CEOs at the retreat, discussing everything from business models to management to social media. Seven managing directors from Barclays were onsite, including Will Bowmer, who leads the firm's banking team that manages relationships with the venture capital community, and Steven Berkenfeld, co-head of the firm's cleantech initiative and emerging industrial technology companies. 

    Non-Barclays mentors included serial entrepreneur Jigar Shah who founded solar services company SunEdison, serial entrepreneur and Priceline.com founder Jeff Hoffman, and Tom Chi, one of the founders of Google Glass, Google X and Google's self-driving car. 

    The program culminated with a "Braintrust" event at the Rise co-working space in New York, where the companies presented their ventures to the Barclays network. 35 Barclays MDs, including Barclays Americas CEO Joe McGrath and Head of Loan Capital Markets Claire O’Connor, spent the afternoon in problem solving breakout sessions with the entrepreneurs. 

    This is the third year Barclays has partnered with Unreasonable Group with the goal of helping scale high-growth ventures addressing key global challenges with the aim of creating jobs. The first program took place in the UK with successive programmes in New York and Asia. 

    SEE ALSO: I listened to 82 finance startup pitches — here's what I learned about where Wall Street is heading

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    Facebook employee

    Europe's technology industry is gaining momentum and companies of all shapes and sizes are hiring developers across the continent, according to a report from venture capital firm Balderton Capital.

    The London-based technology investor released a report on Monday outlining where Europe's tech talent is, who they are, and what they're earning.

    Expensive Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway appear high on the list but developers can also command high salaries in countries like Ireland and the UK.

    Using data provided by Stack Overflow, an online community for programmers, Balderton found that salaries range from $22,549 (£17,674) at the bottom end right up to $90,524 (£70,958) at the top, meaning it's possible for developers to earn almost four times as much in some European countries as they can in others.

    15. Portugal ($22,549; £17,674)



    14. Greece ($24,805; £19,440)



    13. Spain ($34,229; £26,826)



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Zalando founder Robert Gentz

    German fashion startup Zalando is planning to go on an aggressive hiring spree in 2017, according to a leaked memo seen by Business Insider.

    The Berlin-headquartered company, Europe's largest online fashion retailer, intends to hire 1,000 engineers throughout the course of next year, the memo states.

    That's a major increase on the 1,600 staff that Zalando currently has on its technology team.

    Zalando had around 11,200 employees globally, with offices in Berlin and six other locations, at the end of September. It is in the process of building a new HQ in Berlin that will be able to house up to 5,000 employees when it opens in 2018.

    Terry Swann, Zalando's global head of talent, outlined the company's hiring plans in a Slack channel that boasts around 400 talent managers and recruitment execs from technology companies across Europe.

    In the Slack message, Swann, who used to hire engineers at Google, said that he's looking for five technical recruiters to help him hire 1,000 engineers in 2017.

    The comment from Swann caused "quite a lot of discussion" in the Slack channel, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous.

    The recruiters will be based in Berlin and paid between €35,000 (£30,000) and €60,000 (£51,000). That "goes a long way," according to Swann, who added "you can get a flat in the centre of town for less than 1000 a month."

    Zalando, which has raised over $600 million (£477 million) from investors, claims to sell Europe’s largest selection of clothing, accessories and shoes online. It mixes high street brands with high end designers and independent labels.

    Zalando

    The seven-year-old company saw its profits rise to €19.5 million (£16.4 million) in the three months leading up to September, up from a loss of €23.5 million (£20 million) in the previous year. Meanwhile, revenues rose 17% compared with last year to €835 million (£711 million).

    At the time, Rubin Ritter, one of Zalando’s co-chief executives, was reported in The Financial Times as saying the company was going "from strength to strength". He added: "We have built a strong platform for ongoing progress."

    Zalando did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. However, following the publication of this article, Matteo Bovio, of Zalando's communications team, said: "We announced in 2014 that we are changing our business model from an e-tailer to become Europe’s leading online fashion platform. In order to achieve this goal we started to accelerate the growth of the technology team.

    "Over the last year and a half, we have doubled the technology team from around 800 in 2015 to over 1,600 currently. In addition to changing our business model, we also implemented a unique culture within the technology team called Radical Agility: this has seen monthly technology applications grow from 500 to over 2,000, and allows to ensure that we are hiring only the best quality.

    "For 2017, we cannot confirm any precise numbers of potential hires, nevertheless we are constantly looking to grow our technology team to ensure our platform vision."

    The full memo reads:

    "Hi All, i'm looking for at least 5 technical recruiters of varying seniority here at Zalando in Berlin. The salary range is €35-€60, which goes a long way in Berlin (you can get a flat in the centre of town for less than 1000 a month). The task is to hire 1000 engineers in 2017, please message me directly if you're at all interested. Thanks!"

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    wayra gary stewart

    London-based startup accelerator Wayra — operated by Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica, which runs O2 — is expanding across the UK next year, with new programmes launching in Oldham, Birmingham, and Cheltenham.

    As a result of the expansion, the accelerator expects to support three times as many companies, going from 17 in 2016 to 50 in 2017.

    The new programmes in Oldham, Birmingham and Cheltenham are being referred to as pre-acceleration services. They differ from Wayra's established accelerator in London because they don't offer direct investment (Wayra backs startups in London with funds of up to £40,000 in exchange for equity).

    What the new programmes do offer, however, is mentoring, coaching, office space, and access to corporate and investor networks. There is also the possibility of bringing companies into the main programme investment once they’ve been through pre-acceleration

    In total, 24 companies will be hosted in new facilities in Oldham and Birmingham over a six month period, while six companies will join the new GCHQ Cyber Security accelerator in Cheltenham for three months.

    GCHQ

    Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future, said in a statement: "It’s become abundantly clear that not everyone feels the benefits of technology and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to democratise entrepreneurship by ensuring that people from all around the UK are able to launch their startups without being pressured to come to London.

    "Our new programmes allow us to help businesses in the Midlands and Greater Manchester much more effectively, generating jobs and economic growth, while we continue to also support London’s tech ecosystem.

    "In addition, our new accelerator with GCHQ will encourage the next generation of cyber security startups, with the ambition that people will start to see the UK as the cyber capital, just as it is the fintech capital."

    Wayra has invested in 150 startups since launching in 2012. It claims that those businesses have gone on to raise $110 million (£87 million) between them, with $20 million (£16 million) of that in 2016. Some 80 Wayra graduates have also partnered with Spain-based telco Telefónica, be it through a trial or a more official contract.

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    Onfido Husayn Kassai (25), CEO and co-founder, Ruhul Amin (27) CTO and co-founder, Eamon Jubbawy

    London startup Onfido has poached another senior Google employee.

    The company, which helps businesses like car sharing platform BlaBlaCar to verify that their customers are who they say they are, announced this week that it has hired Emma Jelley, who led Google's legal affairs for the UK and Ireland.

    Jelley, who worked at Google for almost 10 years, said in a statement that she was "drawn to Onfido's vision".

    In her new role at Onfido, Jelley will work closely with the cofounders — Husayn Kassai, Ruhul Amin, and Eamon Jubbawy — to guide the company’s expansion into new markets. Onfido said that she will focus on legal and compliance issues spanning everything from deals, to data protection and diversity.

    "We are thrilled to welcome Emma to the Onfido team," said Kassai, CEO of Onfido, in a statement. "Her expertise and experience will help us grow our presence in both the US and European markets as well as expand globally, and it’s a privilege to have such a high-calibre and accomplished individual join us on our journey."

    Jelley isn't the only senior Googler to have joined Onfido. Last September, Onfido hired Google exec Ed Ungar— Google's former head of channel partnerships in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — as its chief commercial officer (CCO).

    The company has been growing fast and today it employs more than 145 staff across offices in London, San Francisco and Lisbon.

    The growth has been fuelled by an influx of venture capital money. In April, Onfido raised $25 million (£18 million) for its background checking platform from the investors behind companies like Spotify, Deezer, Happn, and Secret Escapes. It has raised over $30 million (£23.8 million) in total from the likes of Salesforce Ventures, Idinvest Partners, and CrunchFund.

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    DeepMind Mustafa Suleyman

    Many startups flock to Silicon Valley in a bid to access talented engineers and the deep pockets of region's venture capital firms.

    But Mustafa Suleyman, cofounder of artificial intelligence lab DeepMind, told an audience at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week that being "somewhat removed" from Silicon Valley has worked in his company's favour.

    "One of the things that made us successful as a startup was being in London, and being somewhat removed, you know, [from] the sort of Valley way of doing things," he said.

    DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 for around £400 million, employs a team of around 250 people at Google's new office in King's Cross.

    The company, founded in 2010, is aiming to build self-learning AI systems that can help to address some of the world's biggest problems, including healthcare and climate change.

    So far, the company's algorithms have been successful in mastering arcade games like "Space Invaders" and "Pong" but they've also learned how to slash the amount of energy Google uses to cool its data centres.

    Google office St PancrasScientists and philosophers from the world's top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard, have joined DeepMind on its broader mission to "solve intelligence," as have employees from Google and Facebook.

    "It turns out that the very top tier of people can work anywhere they want in the world," said Suleyman. "They can work in finance and banking, they can work in the Valley, they can go to New York.

    "They also want to work with the very best peers, colleagues also, but they want to work on problems that really matter. I think that’s something that’s changing in the last sort of 5-10 years or so, particularly recently, people really want to make a difference in the world. So presenting the opportunity to work on those sorts of problems is something that is very core to our mission and motivation."

    Research published by venture capital firm Balderton Capital this week found that London is home to 300,345 developers, which is more than any other European city.

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    tel aviv

    Israel continues to produce an impressive number of highly successful tech startups for a country with a population of just 9 million people. 

    The Middle Eastern country is sometimes referred to as "Startup Nation" thanks to the sheer number of entrepreneurs building businesses there, particularly in the coastal city of Tel Aviv. 

    Multinational tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft all have research centres in Israel but some of the local companies are arguably more interesting, with investors keen to get behind many them. 

    The startups have been ranked based on interviews with multiple investors on the ground in Israel and what the startups have achieved over the last year.

    21. Zebra

    Founded in 2014 and backed by the likes of Salesforce billionaire Marc Benioff with $20 million (£16 million), this Tel Aviv-based company says it has taught an algorithm to identify early signs of breast cancer with the help of thousands of previous mammograms.

    That constantly improving algorithm — trained using a technique known as machine learning, which is a type of AI that equips computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed — is now better than radiologists using the best computer aided detection (CAD) methods for mammography, the company claims. 

     



    20. ParaZero

    Drone safety startup ParaZero was incorporated in 2012 in Be’er Sheva, which is in southern Israel.

    The company was founded by a group of aviation professionals, together with veteran drone operators, to help address drone safety.

    Today, ParaZero develops customised safety systems for a wide variety of manned and unmanned platforms. ParaZero says that its R&D engineers work closely with drone manufacturers to create systems that are tailor made for their specific needs and attributes.



    19. MyHeritage

    MyHeritage is a platform for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. The company gives its community access to search and matching technologies, a library of historical records, and a wide collection of family trees.

    With over 85 million users, MyHeritage is one of the largest sites in the social networking and genealogy field.

    The company recently launched MyHeritage DNA, which offers affordable DNA tests that reveal users’ ethnic origins and previously unknown relatives.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jarred Kessler

    Jarred Kessler, a 15-year Wall Street veteran and former head of US equities at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, came up with his big idea when a friend lost his job.

    His friend was in a tough spot and thought about putting his house on the market, but didn't want the associated "public scrutiny" of a "For Sale" sign on his lawn or neighbors talking.

    He wanted to keep it discreet, and he wanted to know the value of his home in case he needed to sell. He wanted to test the market without being in the market, Kessler told Business Insider. 

    Kessler realized that no other services currently on the market offered potential sellers a chance to quietly assess the value of their homes. Then, trouble with regulators at his Wall Street job pushed him to leave Cantor and create one.

    Enter EasyKnock.

    EasyKnock is a residential real estate technology startup on a mission to change the process of listing and selling one’s home. It should be up and running by February.

    "What's going on in the real estate market is what happened 35 years ago on Wall Street," Kessler told Business Insider. "People said this is how business is done, things are never going to change."

    "I think finance is in the seventh inning," he said, "and the residential real estate market is still in the first inning."

    Broker free

    People normally turn to a professional real estate broker to list their homes, and the broker's goals aren't always aligned with the seller, according to Kessler.

    "Once the pressure is on, the buyer, seller and broker will all have competing agendas, and it's hard to know if you are getting the right price, or just the 'right now' price," the EasyKnock website reads. 

    He aims to connect buyers and owners directly and create a platform that's broker-free. "We think there's a place for empowering people to do it themselves," said Kessler to Business Insider. "We don't see it as a matter of if but a matter of when. And we want to be the first to do it."

    The direct sales platform pulls in real-time market data on homes that are both listed and not yet listed.  On the site, homeowners can set a price and "test the waters," and buyers can potentially gain access to a large number of homes that are not currently on the market, "but might be if the price was right." 

    Screen Shot 2016 12 09 at 1.32.53 PM"We think because of obstacles like public scrutiny and days on the market, a lot of people would love to know if people are interested in their houses but don't want to go all into the commitment," said Kessler. "So we started with the question: what would compel you to sell your house?"

    EasyKnock takes buyers though an intent-based search, or a series of tailored questions to match them with their dream houses. If a buyer and seller connect, EasyKnock aims to streamline the process by providing third party referrals of surveyors, inspectors, mortgage advisors and lawyers. Kessler says buyers are vetted and that there is a "policing process" where bad actors are kicked out.

    Leaving Cantor

    Kessler resigned from his position as head of US equities at Cantor Fitzgerald in December 2015 after the firm faced allegations over the sale of unregistered microcap stocks. The brokerage industry's regulator, Finra, said he had failed to set up a system of properly overseeing the sales in his role there. He settled the case without admission of guilt, and was fined and subject to a principal capacity suspension. 

    Although he had come up with the idea of EasyKnock while he was still at Cantor, he doesn't know if he would have otherwise left to pursue this opportunity. Kessler previously served as an executive director in global credit strategy at Credit Suisse, head of credit focused equities at Morgan Stanley and a VP in risk and portfolio management at Goldman Sachs.

    "I left the firm because I felt like that the regulatory and technology environment was impacting the promise of business and that it's harder to make money in finance," he said. 

    Kessler and co-founder Ben Black have raised an angel round and are in the process of closing a seed round. EasyKnock will charge a transaction fee in the range of 1.5-2.5%, third party referrals fees and advertising fees. The duo aim to pilot the app in New York, starting in Long Island in June. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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