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Skello raises $47.3 million for its employee scheduling tool – TechCrunch

French startup Skello has raised a $47.3 million funding round (€40 million). The company has been working on a software-as-a-service tool that lets you manage the work schedule of your company. What makes it special is that Skello automatically takes into account local labor laws and collective agreements. Partech is leading today’s funding round. Existing […]

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French startup Skello has raised a $47.3 million funding round (€40 million). The company has been working on a software-as-a-service tool that lets you manage the work schedule of your company. What makes it special is that Skello automatically takes into account local labor laws and collective agreements.

Partech is leading today’s funding round. Existing investors XAnge and Aglaé Ventures are also participating. The startup had previously raised a €300,000 seed round and a €6 million Series A round in 2018.

Skello works with companies across many industries, such as retail, hospitality, pharmacies, bakeries, gyms, escape games and more. And many of them were simply using Microsoft Excel to manage their schedule.

By using Skello, you get an online service that works for both managers and employees. On the manager side, you can view who is working and when. You can assign employees to fill some gaps.

For employees, they can also connect to the platform to see their own schedule. Employees can also say when they are unavailable and request time off. And when something unexpected comes up, employees can trade shifts.

“We really want to put employees at the center of the product,” co-founder and CEO Quitterie Mathelin-Moreaux told me. “They have a mobile app and the idea is to make the work schedule as collaborative as possible in order to allocate resources as efficiently as possible and increase team retention.”

At every step of the scheduling process, Skello manages legal requirements. For instance, Skello remembers mandatory weekly rest periods. The platform knows that your employees can’t work across a long time range. And Skello can count overtime hours, holiday hours, Sunday shifts, etc.

When you’re approaching the end of the month, Skello can generate a report with everyone’s timesheet. You can integrate Skello directly with your payroll tool to make this process a bit less tedious as well.

Skello is currently used across 7,000 points of sale. Now, the company wants to expand to more European countries and increase the size of the team from 150 employees to 300 employees by 2022.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/15/skello-raises-47-3-million-for-its-employee-scheduling-tool/

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Google agrees to deeper UK oversight of Privacy Sandbox – TechCrunch

As part of an ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s Privacy Sandbox by the UK’s competition regulator, the adtech giant has agreed to an expanded set of commitments related to oversight of its planned migration away from tracking cookies, the regulator announced today. Google has also put out its own blog post on the revisions — […]

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As part of an ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s Privacy Sandbox by the UK’s competition regulator, the adtech giant has agreed to an expanded set of commitments related to oversight of its planned migration away from tracking cookies, the regulator announced today.

Google has also put out its own blog post on the revisions — which it says are intended to “underline our commitment to ensuring that the changes we make in Chrome will apply in the same way to Google’s ad tech products as to any third party, and that the Privacy Sandbox APIs will be designed, developed and implemented with regulatory oversight and input from the CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] and the ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office]”.

Google announced its intention to deprecate support for the third party tracking cookies that are used for targeting ads at individuals in its Chrome browser all the way back in 2019 — and has been working on a stack of what it claims are less intrusive alternative ad-targeting technologies (aka, the “Privacy Sandbox”) since then.

The basic idea is to shift away from ads being targeted at individuals (which is horrible for Internet users’ privacy) to targeting methods that put Internet users in interest-based buckets and serve ads to so-called “cohorts” of users (aka, FloCs) which may be less individually intrusive — however it’s important to note that Google’s proposed alternative still has plenty of critics (the EFF, for example, has suggested it could even amplify problems like discrimination and predatory ad targeting).

And many privacy advocates would argue that pure-play contextual targeting poses the least risk to Internet users’ rights while still offering advertisers the ability to reach relevant audiences and publishers to monetize their content.

Google’s Sandbox plan has attracted the loudest blow-back from advertisers and publishers, who will be directly affected by the changes. Some of whom have raised concerns that the shift away from tracking cookies will simply increase Google’s market power — hence the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opening an antitrust investigation into the plan in January.

As part of that probe, the CMA had already secured one set of commitments from Google around how it would go about the switch, including that it would agree to halt any move to deprecate cookies if the regulator was not satisfied the transition could take place in a way that respects both competition and privacy; and agreements on self-preferencing, among others.

A market consultation on the early set of commitments drew responses from more than 40 third parties — including, TechCrunch understands, input from international regulators (some of who are also investigating Google’s Sandbox, such as the European Commission, which opened its own probe of Google’s adtech in June) .

Following that, the first set of proposed commitments has been expanded and beefed up with additional requirements (see below for a summary; and here for fuller detail from the CMA’s “Notice of intent to accept the modified commitments”).

The CMA will now consult on the expanded set — with a deadline of 5pm on December 17, 2021, to take fresh feedback.

It will then make a call on whether the beefed up bundle bakes in enough checks-and-balances to ensure that Google carries out the move away from tracking cookies with the least impact on competition and the least harm to user privacy (although it will be the UK’s ICO that’s ultimately responsible for oversight of the latter piece).

If the CMA is happy with responses to the revised commitments, it would then close the investigation and move to a new phase of active oversight, as set out in the detail of what it’s proposing to agree with Google.

A potential timeline for this to happen is early 2022 — but nothing is confirmed as yet.

Commenting in a statement, CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli said:

“We have always been clear that Google’s efforts to protect user’s privacy cannot come at the cost of reduced competition.

That’s why we have worked with the Information Commissioner’s Office, the CMA’s international counterparts and parties across this sector throughout this process to secure an outcome that works for everyone.

We welcome Google’s co-operation and are grateful to all the interested parties who engaged with us during the consultation.

If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users’ privacy.”

More market reassurance

In general, the expanded commitments look intended to offer a greater level of reassurance to the market that Google will not be able to exploit loopholes in regulatory oversight of the Sandbox to undo the intended effect of addressing competition risks and privacy concerns.

Notably, Google has agreed to appoint a CMA approved monitoring trustee — as one of the additional measures it’s suggesting to improve the provisions around reporting and compliance.

It will also dial up reporting requirements, agreeing to ensure that the CMA’s role and the regulator’s ongoing process — which the CMA now suggests should continue for a period of six years — are mentioned in its “key public announcements”; and to regular (quarterly) reporting to the CMA on how it is taking account of third party views as it continues building out the tech bundle.

Transparency around testing is also being beefed up.

On that, there have been instances, in recent months, where Google staffers have not been exactly fulsome in articulating the details of feedback related to the Origin Trial of its FloCs technology to the market, for example. So it’s notable that another highlighted change requires Google to instruct its staff not to make claims to customers which contradict the commitments.

Another concern reflected in the revisions is the worry of market participants of Google removing functionality or information before the full Privacy Sandbox changes are implemented — hence it has offered to delay enforcement of its Privacy Budget proposal and offered commitments around the introduction of measures to reduce access to IP addresses.

We understand that concerns from market participants also covered Google removing other functionality — such as the user agent string — and that strengthened commitments are intended to address those wider worries too.

Self-preferencing requirements have also been dialled up. And the revised commitments include clarifications on the internal limits on the data that Google can use — and monitoring those elements will be a key focus for the trustee.

The period of active oversight by the CMA has also been extended vs the earlier plan — to six years from the date of any decision to accept Google’s modified commitments (up from around five).

This means that if the CMA agrees to the commitments next year they could be in place until 2028. And by then the UK expects to have reformed competition rules wrapping tech giant — as

In its own blog post, Google condenses the revised commitments thus:

  • Monitoring and reporting. We have offered to appoint an independent Monitoring Trustee who will have the access and technical expertise needed to ensure compliance.
  • Testing and consultation. We have offered the CMA more extensive testing commitments, along with a more transparent process to take market feedback on the Privacy Sandbox proposals.
  • Further clarity on our use of data. We are underscoring our commitment not to use Google first-party personal data to track users for targeting and measurement of ads shown on non-Google websites. Our commitments would also restrict the use of Chrome browsing history and Analytics data to do this on Google or non-Google websites.
  • As with the earlier set of pledges, it has agreed to apply the additional commitments globally — assuming the package gets accepted by the UK regulator.

    So the UK regulator continues playing a key role in shaping how key web infrastructure evolves.

    Google’s blog most also makes reference to an opinion published yesterday by the UK’s information commission — which urged the adtech industry of the need to move away from current tracking and profiling methods of ad targeting.

    “We also support the objectives set out yesterday in the ICO’s Opinion on Data protection and privacy expectations for online advertising proposals, including the importance of supporting and developing privacy-safe advertising tools that protect people’s privacy and prevent covert tracking,” Google noted.

    This summer Google announced a delay to its earlier timeline for the deprecation of tracking cookies — saying support wouldn’t start being phased out in Chrome until the second half of 2023.

    There is no suggestion from the tech giant as this point of any additional delay to that timeline — assuming it gets the regulatory greenlight to go ahead.

    The basic idea is to shift away from ads being targeted at individuals (which is horrible for Internet users’ privacy) to targeting methods that put Internet users in interest-based buckets and serve ads to so-called “cohorts” of users (aka, FloCs) which may be less individually intrusive — however it’s important to note that Google’s proposed alternative still has plenty of critics (the EFF, for example, has suggested it could even amplify problems like discrimination and predatory ad targeting).

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/26/cma-google-privacy-sandbox-revisions/

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    Make no bones about it, Fuzzy expands reach into pet care market with capital infusion – TechCrunch

    Pet item sales topped $100 billion in 2020, driven by the 48 million dogs and cats that were adopted over the past three years.

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    Pet’s are big business. Sales in this area topped $100 billion in 2020, driven by the 48 million dogs and cats that were adopted over the past three years. However, in that same period, only 5,000 new veterinarians were added, causing delays in getting appointments and added stress upon veterinarians to manage their practices.

    Today, Fuzzy announced $43 million in growth funding to expand its digital pet care network of veterinary professionals to alleviate some of the strain on the industry and make care accessible and affordable to all. The San Francisco-based company previously raised $18 million in a Series B round in March.

    The company, founded in 2016, provides 24/7 live chat and telehealth, ship-to-home prescriptions, vet-curated items in its e-commerce marketplace and educational content and programs. Its digitally-native approach can save pet parents up to $750 a year on healthcare expenses, Zubin Bhettay, co-founder and CEO of Fuzzy, told TechCrunch.

    “The big story in 2020 was that everyone needed telehealth services for themselves, and we saw that transfer to pets and then exacerbated by the industry,” he added. “The surge in people getting pets caused emergency room waits to grow to up to 10 hours, while it started taking four to six weeks to get a vet appointment.”

    By leading the shift to more telehealth services, Fuzzy hopes to encourage pet parents to consider the health of their pet on a more regular basis to aid in their longevity. The company has facilitated more than 1 million consultations to date and with it, amassed data and operation expertise to be able to expand delivery care at scale.

    Bhettay wasn’t planning to raise additional funds so soon after the Series B, but said accelerated growth in the business enabled the company to hire more, check off more of the to-do list items over the past eight months and provided a unique opportunity to lean in on partnerships and expand financial plans.

    He expects 2021 revenue growth to be five times over 2020, while Fuzzy memberships, which start for free and then a monthly subscription of $24.99 or annual subscription for $99.99, have increased through partnerships with retailers and vet groups. Bhettay did not reveal the company’s valuation, but did say it was more than a three-time uptick from the Series B round.

    The round was led by Icon Ventures, with existing investors Greycroft, Matrix and Crosscut participating, with additional backing from veterinary clinic groups and individuals, including former Chewy chairman Mark Vadon and Clearlake Group founder Jose Feliciano. In addition, 25% of the capital was raised from underrepresented communities, Bhettay said.

    Fuzzy app

    Fuzzy live chat via its app. Image Credits: Fuzzy

    In addition to expanding the vet network — Fuzzy is operational in 25 locations — his plans for the new funding include the development and launch of new product offerings, additional educational content and new member growth.

    “We want to see pet care go from once a year to anytime, anywhere,” Bhettay added. “As we think about our vision of becoming the first place where everyone comes to, there are some features and products that we can bring into the business to accelerate that path, as well as acquisitions in the next six to 12 months.”

    There are a number of startups tapping into this major trend of pets to capture that household spend in the areas of healthcare, insurance and food. Bhettay is also seeing the larger incumbents focus here, as well as marketing dollars, which he considers validation that the market is shifting to the digitalization of pet care.

    Tom Mawhinney, general partner at Icon Ventures, has four dogs himself and felt the pains of having to wait weeks to get them in to see a veterinarian, including having to take one dog to the emergency vet.

    He called Bhettay “an energetic and smart entrepreneur” who is building a strong team to go after a space that is ripe for disruption.

    “The problems are more exacerbated the more pets that are added to the system, which has not grown in a way to support that,” Mawhinney added. “There needs to be new means for providing care to pets, and Fuzzy is putting in place a bespoke wellness plan that is encouraging interaction to become more frequent and make the overall lives of pets better.”

    “The big story in 2020 was that everyone needed telehealth services for themselves, and we saw that transfer to pets and then exacerbated by the industry,” he added. “The surge in people getting pets caused emergency room waits to grow to up to 10 hours, while it started taking four to six weeks to get a vet appointment.”

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/22/fuzzy-pet-care/

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    Starlink’s new rectangular satellite broadband dish is smaller and lighter than before – TechCrunch

    Starlink has introduced a new user terminal customers can get with their starter kit. The company now offers a rectangular option that’s smaller and lighter than its original circular one.

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    Mariella Moon Contributor

    Mariella Moon is an associate editor at Engadget.

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    Starlink has introduced a new user terminal customers can get with their starter kit. As first reported by The Verge, the company now offers a rectangular option (PDF) that’s smaller and lighter than its original circular one. Users have to install that antenna on their rooftop or anywhere high up with a clear view of the sky to be able to access its satellite internet.

    The original version is a standard dish that’s 23-inch wide, but the rectangular version is only 12 inches wide and 19 inches long. It’s also only 9.2 pounds, which is almost half the weight of its circular counterpart. The new terminal’s smaller form factor could give users more options when it comes to potential locations where they can install it. In addition, the rectangular terminal comes with more accessory options, including a long pole users can simply stick in the ground so they no longer have to mount the antenna on their rooftop.

    SpaceX launched Starlink as a beta service in late 2020 and offered customers access to its satellite internet for $99 a month. Users would have to pay $499 on top of that for its hardware kit, though, which includes the antenna, its stand, power supply and a WiFi router. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in August that the original dish cost $3,000 to produce, and while the company was able to get that down to $1,300, it was still selling the kit at a loss.

    Shotwell also said at the time that the terminal it’s releasing this year “will cost roughly half” of what its current user terminals cost and that the company may be able to cut that in half again. The Verge notes, however, that the hardware kit is still being sold for $499 even with the rectangular antenna, and SpaceX has yet to reveal whether it will be sold at a lower price in the future. Potential new customers who don’t mind paying the same price for it can get the rectangular terminal when they order a kit, so long as they’re in the US.

    Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/12/starlinks-new-rectangular-satellite-broadband-dish-is-smaller-and-lighter-than-before/

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