Google Hor

advertisement

Tech News

Instacart agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit for $4.6 million

Instacart agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit for $4.6 million

On the heels of a

...

Theranos is offering investors Elizabeth Holmes’ shares if they promise not to sue

Theranos is offering investors Elizabeth Holmes’ shares if they promise not to sue

One way Theranos is hoping to stay afloat is by offering double the shares — including some of founder Elizabeth Holmes’ own shares — to investors if they promise not to sue.

...

Apple says recent Wikileaks CIA docs detail old, fixed iPhone and Mac exploits

Apple says recent Wikileaks CIA docs detail old, fixed iPhone and Mac exploits

Apple says that its preliminary assessments of the Wikileaks documents released today indicate that the vulnerabilities it details for iPhone and Mac were fixed years ago. The documents, which originated with the CIA,

...

CREDO and Cloudflare argue against national security letter gag orders

CREDO and Cloudflare argue against national security letter gag orders

Earlier this week, the FBI finally allowed Cloudflare and CREDO Mobile to identify themselves as recipients of national security letters, which allow the agency to secretly order tech companies to hand over customer data. (The FBI initially allowed Cloudflare and CREDO to disclose some but not all of their NSLs; TechCrunch reported in January the two companies had received additional NSLs and were  gagged from discussing them .)

This means CREDO and Cloudflare can admit for the first time that they are the companies behind one of the longest-running legal challenges against NSL gag orders. Their case, which was argued at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, is officially renamed “CREDO & Cloudflare v. Jefferson Sessions” rather than “Under Seal v. Jefferson Sessions” and if Cloudflare and CREDO prevail, it could have a massive impact on the FBI’s use of the secret orders and the gag orders that accompany them.

But even though the companies can now admit they received these secret requests, Cloudflare and CREDO are still arguing in the 9th Circuit that the years-long gag orders preventing them from discussing the NSLs violate their right to free speech. The claim is a bit threadbare now that the gag orders are mostly lifted — Judge Sandra Ikuta opened yesterday’s hearing by asking if the entire case is now moot — but the two firms say the case must continue because they’re still gagged from discussing some of the details of the NSLs, like the identity of the subscriber whose data was requested.

The FBI, on the other hand, says that most companies are perfectly happy to keep the NSLs they receive secret. “Most of the entities that receive NSLs do not have this interest in publicly speaking,” Justice Department senior counsel Lewis Yelin said.

This claim seems bananas to me. Set aside the ideological contortions that go into arguing that someone doesn’t enjoy free speech protections because other people don’t want to discuss the same topic, and you still have to confront the fact that every major tech company publishes a transparency report detailing the kinds of requests they receive from law enforcement. Even Slack put out a transparency report, although they only had one government request to disclose.

When the FBI does allow companies to discuss their NSLs, the companies often go back and add them in to previous transparency reports. All of this transparency reporting seems to indicate that companies very much want to talk about the NSLs they receive.

Here’s some stuff that major tech firms have said about NSLs recently:

  • Yahoo : “We believe there is value in making these documents available to the public to promote an informed discussion about the legal authorities available to law enforcement.”
  • Google : “We have fought for the right to be transparent about our receipt of NSLs. This includes working with the government to publish  statistics about NSLs we’ve received, successfully fighting NSL gag provisions in court, and leading the effort to ensure that Internet companies can be more transparent with users
...

Tour and activities marketplace Zozi lays off 30% of staff

Tour and activities marketplace Zozi lays off 30% of staff

Zozi , a startup that describes itself as an OpenTable for tours and activities, and  which raised $30 million from Richard Branson and others back in 2015, has laid off 30 percent of staff, TechCrunch learned and Zozi confirmed. The company says the restructuring will allow Zozi to focus on its core B2B software platform, Zozi Advance, going forward.

The company has 119 employees listed on LinkedIn , as of the time of writing, but Zozi says this number has never been accurate. Zozi’s own website says there are 83 employees. The company tells us it has roughly 60 employees today.

Founded in 2007, Zozi has been around for some time, though never quite reached the same mainstream awareness of others in the travel space, like Airbnb, for example. The company originally followed the Groupon model of daily deals, before pivoting to focus instead on its marketplace for getaways, adventures and tours.

This saw Zozi competing in the same space as Groupon again – this time with its travel business, Groupon Getaways. However, Zozi’s aim was to capture more of the millennials’ interest, given the generation’s penchant for wanting to having “experiences,” rather than owning things.

Tour and activities marketplace Zozi lays off 30% of staff

Two years ago, the company raised an additional $30 million in Series C funding in a round led by Pritzker Vlock Ventures. Sir Richard Branson, Par Capital Ventures, 500 Startups, Dolby Family Ventures and Bridge Bank also participated, bringing Zozi’s total raise to date to $45 million.

However, competition in the travel space is tough, with many players offering access to trips and activities. One of Zozi’s larger rivals, Viator, was acquired by TripAdvisor for $200 million  in 2014. Kayak and Expedia also now offer online reservations for tours and activities, and Airbnb more recently entered the space, too, with Airbnb Experiences , following its acquisition of travel activities marketplace Trip4real .

There are a number of startups playing in this market as well, including Peek , Triposo , GetYourGuide , and others .

Zozi, to its credit, well understood the challenges in developing a standalone consumer-facing brand, which is why it also developed another side to its business: Zozi Advance , an online bookings and payments platform.

That system had grown to support several thousand businesses in nearly 90 countries as of last year, when founder and CEO T.J. Sassani said in an interview that the company was seeing around a billion dollars flowing through the Advance platform. A spokesperson for Zozi did not offer to update these figures, but rather said that “March has been a record month for us in terms of new businesses added.”

“Our business nearly grew 3x in revenue in 2016, and is on pace to grow 2x this year on our more efficient operating model,” the spokesperson also said.

As of January 2016, Zozi said 5 million people had used its service to book their activities.

Tour and activities marketplace Zozi lays off 30% of staff

This side of the business has its competition as well, such as FareHarbor , Xola , Rezdy , or Zaui . And now, instead of competing with Viator, Zozi is  integrating  with it.

...