Robinhood stock trading app valued at $1.3 billion with big raise from DST

Zero-fee stock trading app Robinhood is completing a huge fund raise to fuel its attack on old brokerage firms that charge around $7 to $10 per trade. According to sources, the round is led by Yuri Milner investment vehicle DST Global and values the company at $1.3 billion. Robinhood declined to comment. Robinhood got its start in 2013 by offering a way for younger, less-wealthy users to start investing. It provides an easy-to-use app for free tracking and trading of stocks. Robinhood replaces the traditional brokerages like Scottrade and E*Trade which charge…

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On-demand dog walking startup Wag quietly raised funding from General Catalyst and Sherpa Ventures

Earlier this week we wrote about how two big players in the pet-care business, Rover and DogVacay, decided to merge. Well, sources tell us that over the past two years Wag, another player in the dog-walking space, raised two rounds of funding to support expansion into new markets. While it’s easy to lump Wag, DogVacay and Rover together, there are some key differences in the way they operate. DogVacay and Rover operate on more of a marketplace model, where pet sitters or dog walkers connect directly with pet owners prior to a pet changing hands. In contrast, Wag offers more…

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Cloudera posts long-awaited IPO filing

Cloudera, the enterprise big data company that’s received significant backing from Intel, has unveiled its much-anticipated IPO filing. In the S-1, we get a glance at their financials. Revenue is growing, bringing in $261 million for the fiscal year ending in January and $166 million for the same period last year. Losses were $186.32 million, down from $203 million year-over-year. We “expect to continue to incur net losses for the foreseeable future,” said the “risk factors” section of the filing. Cloudera acknowledges that it faces a range of competition. HP, IBM,…

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NASA tests robotic tools to crack the surface of icy moons

While the Mars rovers are assiduously searching the red planet for water over the next decade, there are whole moons full of the stuff just waiting for us to come visit. At least, that’s the theory. But missions to Europa and Titan are still hypothetical, so in the meantime NASA is toying with ideas about how a robotic lander would get through the miles of ice that lie on top of these extraterrestrial oceans. From their limited observations of Europa, scientists estimate that the ice is somewhere between 6 and…

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How Stories Search makes Snapchat a real-time YouTube

Snapchat is shifting from a social network limited to content shared by people you follow to an ephemeral, real-time database of what’s going on now everywhere. Today Snapchat launched Search for Stories submitted to its public Our Stories. It makes Snapchat as deep as whatever the world is sharing, creating near-infinite rabbit holes to go down, and a stronger competitor for YouTube and Twitter. That aligns exactly with Snap IPO strategy following the slow-down of user growth after the removal of auto-advance and the launch of Instagram Stories and Facebook’s…

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Amazon quietly launches its own social media influencer program into beta

Social media influencers – like Instagram stars or YouTube celebs – often promote products they like, either as part of a brand relationship or as means of generating income through affiliate sales. Now, Amazon is looking to get in on this action as well. The company has quietly launched the “Amazon Influencer Program,” which is currently in beta testing as of a couple of days ago. Similar to the Amazon Affiliate program, the new program will offer influencers commission on products sold, but is not open to the public. One of…

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Twitter is getting rid of the egg avatar (because that will totally fix the abuse problem)

Everyone knows that Twitter has a harassment problem. And while the service has tried things like banning abusive users (both on a temporary and permanent basis) it hasn’t really fixed the problem. Today, they’re announcing another sweeping change that fails to address the real problem: they’re cracking the egg. In a long-winded post the service announced they are replacing the default egg with a unisex profile picture resembling a head and shoulders silhouette. Beginning in 2010, all new accounts started with their default profile picture as an egg. Since then it has…

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Snapchat now lets you search across over 1 million Stories

Snapchat has opened up search across over 1 million curated public Stories, with a new feature release that could be a very helpful tool not only for users, but for advertisers, too. The search feature allows users to find Stories relevant to their interest by keyword, from a large number shared publicly by users and brands. The Stories search is built on new tech behind the scenes that uses machine learning to identify what’s happening in Stories submitted to the network’s Our Story feature, and to organize it by keyword…

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Apple releases new colorful Apple Watch ad

Apple just released a new video ad on its YouTube channel for the Apple Watch Series 2. There are two interesting things about this ad. It’s a colorful, cheerful clip that wants to turn the Apple Watch into a pop culture symbol. And it focuses on the fitness features of the Apple Watch, proving that Apple thinks about the device as an activity tracking device first and foremost. Apple chose Beyoncé’s “Freedom” as the soundtrack. The ad shows many different Apple Watch users practicing their favorite sport in a world…

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