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The company called Blockchain raises $40 million

Tesla said to be in talks to create its own streaming music service

Tesla said to be in talks to create its own streaming music service

Tesla might be a music service operator soon, in addition to a maker of electric cars and solar energy products. That’s according to a new

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Africa’s “Shark Tank” for startups is Rwanda’s new show “Face The Gorillas”

Africa’s “Shark Tank” for startups is Rwanda’s new show “Face The Gorillas”

African startups can now score capital commitments real time―so long as they convince a venture capitalist to give it to them in front of a live audience.

That’s the format for Face The Gorillas , a Rwandan IT pitch series that runs several times a year on local TV, YouTube, and at select events.

The competition was originally conceived in 2013 by Yariv Cohen and wife Angela Homsi ―who became engaged in Rwanda’s tech scene through impact investment firm Kaenaat and the Ignite Power Solar initiative.

“We were supporting the ICT sector, brought a group…to invest in startups, then turned that into a show,” Cohen told TechCrunch in his Kigali office. “The idea was to provide Rwandan startups business pitching tools and an understanding of what investors are looking for,” he said.

Face The Gorillas has since teamed up with Rwanda’s ICT Chamber and partners such as kLab to produce the series several times a year. Since 2013 it has run 8 instalments, financed 8 startups, and had 3 deals rejected, according to Cohen. Ventures can gain up to $200,000 in investment, including accelerator type partnerships.

Africa’s “Shark Tank” for startups is Rwanda’s new show “Face The Gorillas”

In 2015 Rwandan fintech venture VugaPay , founded by college age brothers Patrick Muhire and Cedrick Muhoza, received mentorship and $20,000 for 10 percent equity from two VC gorillas. The exposure led them to a subsequent investment from Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper .

According to Cohen, Face The Gorillas is open to startups across the continent. Once a date and venue are set, “We put out requests for proposals to all the ICT hubs. Select the ones we think are investible―coach them, train them―then they come and pitch,” he said.

While the series’ on the spot equity deal-making is similar to America’s Shark Tank , there are a few distinct differences. Face The Gorillas is only open to tech startups. The show takes a more constructive tone: “we select VCs who focus more on help and mentorship than just the investment itself,” said Cohen. Face The Gorillas also customarily gives investors in the crowd a chance to make competing offers to the VC panel. “The last three shows have had deals from the audience,” according to Cohen.

Rwanda’s Transform Africa Summit has become one of Face The Gorillas’ more visible venues. At the May 2017 event, young startup founders such VugaTV entrepreneur Ines Muhoza, gave 5 minute pitches to Cohen and the investor panel before navigating questions toward possible offers. While the CEO of the content streaming app  didn’t receive a deal, she was positive about facing the gorillas. “The resource I got today was knowledge…to come up with convincing factors so investors will invest in me next time,” she said.

Africa’s “Shark Tank” for startups is Rwanda’s new show “Face The Gorillas”

One investor who offered Muhoza counsel was Eugene Nyagahene , a Rwandan media executive and entrepreneur with a $500,000 fund. As a VC gorilla, he said he looks “first for the entrepreneur’s passion for their business, then their figures. If one of these two does not work, I don’t invest,” he said.

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After three days, Skype’s outage is resolved

After three days, Skype’s outage is resolved

After three days of connectivity issues that prevented some Skype users from being able to log in, make calls or send and receive messages, the company says it has now fully resolved the problem. What it isn’t saying — at least not yet — is what exactly happened.

Microsoft’s decision to stay silent on an incident of this duration and scale — the outage impacted users across Europe and elsewhere — lends further credence to reports that a hacker group may be to blame.

Generally speaking, when the issue is technical in nature — like Starbucks’  buggy update , Instapaper’s  database failure,  a web services outage  with rippling effects or some other technical problem  — companies today tend to just admit it. Sometimes they even publish a post-mortem in order to reassure their users that whatever had caused the outage was now understood and being addressed, so it won’t be an issue in the future.

Skype, however, has said nothing all week — even as reports surfaced that a hacking group has claimed responsibility for the matter. As the BBC and others have noted, a group called CyberTeam has taken credit for the outage in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/ CyberTeam /status/876912510883872769

Whether that’s true or not, though, can still not be confirmed.

There has also been chatter that a DDoS  attack could have caused this. That seems possible, given the delay to mitigate the issues, along with the fact that Skype tweeted the problems were fixed, only to quickly discover they were not.

But Microsoft is still not offering details or comments on the matter.

When asked for any information — whether that’s confirming the exact time frame of the outage, how it was fixed or asking for comment on the hacking group’s claims — Microsoft only refers us to the Skype Heartbeat page for information, saying “we have nothing further to share at the moment.”

The Skype Heartbeat page, meanwhile, only offers brief updates along the lines of “we are aware of an incident,” “we’re seeing improvements,” “we have made some configuration corrections” and so on. It doesn’t say what happened, why or how, specifically, Skype has resolved the matter.

After three days, Skype’s outage is resolved

Skype’s outage largely impacted European users, according to traffic-monitoring service DownDetector . But users in other regions may have felt the effects, as well.

The outage began on Monday, June 19th, which also is when it was first acknowledged by Microsoft on its website . The issue wasn’t marked as fully resolved until Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 18:00 GMT.

For a service as large as Skype, with some 300 million users, and a plan to reinvent itself for the social age, users are frustrated with the lack of an explanation.

As many rightly point out, Skype isn’t just a “fun” app — it’s a service they rely on for work, for connecting with clients and colleagues and for communication. They want to know if Skype screwed up, or if it was hacked or attacked. And they have a right

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HEBI is trying to make building custom robots as easy as playing with LEGO

HEBI is trying to make building custom robots as easy as playing with LEGO

The X-Series Actuator doesn’t look like much. Actually, if I’m being honest, it kind of looks like a red metal scotch tape dispenser with ribbed sides and a couple of ethernet ports. The product is scattered all over HEBI’s one-room Pittsburgh office in various states of disarray. The palm-sized metal component is the startup’s primary product — its entire reason for existing, really. The actuator’s unassuming profile hides a lot of impressive technology that has helped make the three-year-old company a rising star in the city’s bustling robotics startup community.

Its capabilities come into clearer focus as you look around the room at a number of wildly diverse robots that use the little red actuator as a sort of connective tissue — a sort of robotic knee or elbow joint. There’s a grasping arm, a milling machine and a few other half-concocted builds that look like robotic rejects from the Island of Misfit Toys.

Co-founder Dave Rollinson introduces us to Igor, a strange and skinny robot that balances on two wheels like a Segway. On top of its square frame are a pair of long arms that arc down in an L-shape, each with a circular paddle for hands. With very light controls, the robot can clasp and pick up objects. It’s not the most graceful robot we’ve seen on our three-day trip to the City of Bridges, but it’s a perfect example of how the company’s product can be used to quickly piece together a complex robotic prototype. It’s kind of like an Erector Set for grownups with computer science degrees.

“A lot people think that it’s just motors and gears,” says Rollinson. “But there’s a lot more required to do it. There are a lot of sensors and a lot of embedded control to make the joint go where you want it to. The key thing that we build into all of our parts is the ability to control force.”

The company, like most of Pittsburgh’s thriving robotics community, began life at nearby Carnegie Mellon. The actuator has its origins in CMU’s snake robot, a modular mechanical serpent that’s proven to be one of the school’s most enduring projects. In fact, we first looked at the ‘bot back in 2008 , when it was still in its earliest stages.

HEBI is trying to make building custom robots as easy as playing with LEGO

Since then, it’s proven a diverse and robust project — though, even with the university’s aggressive approach to spinning off startups, it hasn’t been easy to monetize. The nascent company flirted with the idea of positioning it as a search and rescue robot, touting its ability to squeeze into pipes and other tight spaces. Ultimately, however, it was the snake’s parts that gave rise to HEBI.

“We were making these snakes that were made up of a bunch of different modules that were chained up together,” says Rollinson, who, along with the rest of the founding team was a member of the school’s Biorobotics lab.   “We realized what we had was the building blocks of a custom system.

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