Digital Garage teams up with Blockstream to develop blockchain financial services in Japan

The global crypto market may have tanked last year, but notable names have joined forces to develop Bitcoin and blockchain financial services in Japan, which has emerged as one of the world’s most crypto-friendly markets. Blockstream, a blockchain startup founded by Bitcoin contributors, announced this week that it has launched a joint venture in Japan […]

The global crypto market may have tanked last year, but notable names have joined forces to develop Bitcoin and blockchain financial services in Japan, which has emerged as one of the world’s most crypto-friendly markets.

Blockstream, a blockchain startup founded by Bitcoin contributors, announced this week that it has launched a joint venture in Japan alongside Digital Garage, an early-stage investor/incubator that’s backed local launches from Twitter, Square and others, and financial services firm Tokyo Tanshi.

Crypto Garage — as the new venture is called — is “is dedicated to building Bitcoin and blockchain solutions for the Japanese institutional market.” The venture was first unveiled last year, and it looks like Blockstream recently came onboard through an undisclosed investment. The startup said it is providing “technical expertise” for the effort.

That’s about all the color on the venture for now, although it has released its first product, “SETTLENET.” That is described as a platform that uses Liquid Network, Blockstream’s blockchain that is designed for exchanges and brokers with a focus on speed and security.

Settlenet — because nobody likes all-caps product names — is said to have already gotten clearance from the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA), which regulates exchanges and crypto projects, and its first launch will be a stablecoin for the Japanese Yen. The goal is very much to arm exchanges with liquidity and, as such, the stablecoin will be tradable for Bitcoin pegged to the Liquid sidechain using atomic swaps.

The companies have collaborated for some time already. An existing investor in Blockstream, Digital Garage has plowed a further $10 million into the business in what is its third investment since 2016. That deal takes Blockstream to around $110 million raised to date.

Tokyo Tanshi, meanwhile, is a brokerage firm that was founded over 100 years ago. It has worked with Digital Garage on crypto projects since last year, when the two companies first announced Crypto Garage and a broader goal to operate blockchain financial services in Japan.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

After raising $125M, Munchery fails to deliver

On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is shutting down, the startup announced in an e-mail to customers on Monday.

On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is ceasing operations effective immediately, the startup announced in an e-mail to customers on Monday.

Founded in 2010, the San Francisco-based business had raised a total of $125 million in venture capital funding, reaching a valuation of $300 million with an $87 million round in 2015, according to PitchBook. Munchery was backed by Greycroft, ACME Ventures (formerly known as Sherpa Capital), Menlo Ventures, e.Ventures, Cota Capital, M13 and more.

“Since 2010, we have been committed to bringing fresh, local, and delicious meals into your homes along with all our customers across the country,” the company wrote in today’s e-mail announcement. “We’ve been delighted to work with world-renowned chefs, experiment with diverse and unique ingredients and recipes, and be a part of your holiday feasts and traditions. We have also enjoyed giving back to our community through meal donations, volunteer service, and so much more.”

The news comes as little surprise considering Munchery laid off 257 employees, or 30 percent of its workforce, in May after shutting down its Seattle, Los Angeles and New York operations. At the time, the company said it planned to double down on its biggest market, San Francisco, which would help it “achieve profitability on the near term, and build a long-term, sustainable business.”

Munchery, however, failed to deliver on those promises. On top of the 2018 layoffs, Munchery for years struggled to navigate the challenging plains of on-demand food delivery. To stay afloat, the startup shape-shifted quite a bit from originally launching as a ready-to-eat meal delivery service to delivering meal-kits to creating an $8.95 a month subscription plan for repeat customers and finally, opening up a shop inside a San Francisco BART station in a bid to win over the commuter crowd.

Munchery is just the latest in a line of food delivery startups to shutter. Doughbies, an on-demand cookie delivery business, closed its doors in 2018. Sprig, Maple and Josephine are amongst the others to falter under the pressure of a crowded market.

After raising $125M, Munchery fails to deliver

On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is shutting down, the startup announced in an e-mail to customers on Monday.

On-demand food delivery startup Munchery is ceasing operations effective immediately, the startup announced in an e-mail to customers on Monday.

Founded in 2010, the San Francisco-based business had raised a total of $125 million in venture capital funding, reaching a valuation of $300 million with an $87 million round in 2015, according to PitchBook. Munchery was backed by Greycroft, ACME Ventures (formerly known as Sherpa Capital), Menlo Ventures, e.Ventures, Cota Capital, M13 and more.

“Since 2010, we have been committed to bringing fresh, local, and delicious meals into your homes along with all our customers across the country,” the company wrote in today’s e-mail announcement. “We’ve been delighted to work with world-renowned chefs, experiment with diverse and unique ingredients and recipes, and be a part of your holiday feasts and traditions. We have also enjoyed giving back to our community through meal donations, volunteer service, and so much more.”

The news comes as little surprise considering Munchery laid off 257 employees, or 30 percent of its workforce, in May after shutting down its Seattle, Los Angeles and New York operations. At the time, the company said it planned to double down on its biggest market, San Francisco, which would help it “achieve profitability on the near term, and build a long-term, sustainable business.”

Munchery, however, failed to deliver on those promises. On top of the 2018 layoffs, Munchery for years struggled to navigate the challenging plains of on-demand food delivery. To stay afloat, the startup shape-shifted quite a bit from originally launching as a ready-to-eat meal delivery service to delivering meal-kits to creating an $8.95 a month subscription plan for repeat customers and finally, opening up a shop inside a San Francisco BART station in a bid to win over the commuter crowd.

Munchery is just the latest in a line of food delivery startups to shutter. Doughbies, an on-demand cookie delivery business, closed its doors in 2018. Sprig, Maple and Josephine are amongst the others to falter under the pressure of a crowded market.

Apple’s “Everyone Can Create” Curriculum Now Available In Four More Languages

Apple’s Everyone Can Create curriculum has been made available in German, French, Spanish, and Italian via Apple Books, the company has announced via press release. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Apple’s Everyone Can Create curriculum has been made available in German, French, Spanish, and Italian via Apple Books, the company has announced via press release.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Original Content podcast: We conquer clutter with Marie Kondo’s new show

On the surface, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” sounds like a simple show: Over the course of eight episodes, organizing guru Marie Kondo helps a variety Los Angeles residents sort through their belongings and clean up their homes. But for some, following Kondo’s KonMari method can be a surprisingly difficult or emotional experience — after […]

On the surface, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” sounds like a simple show: Over the course of eight episodes, organizing guru Marie Kondo helps a variety Los Angeles residents sort through their belongings and clean up their homes.

But for some, following Kondo’s KonMari method can be a surprisingly difficult or emotional experience — after all, it’s really about looking at what we own and where we live. And the show has led to broader discussions around things like the value of books and how gender still plays a big role in domestic labor.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that our discussion of the new Netflix series ends up being similarly wide ranging.

In a first for the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by two guest hosts — Sarah Perez and Catherine Shu. The conversation quickly moves beyond a straightforward review into a broader conversation about Kondo’s ideas. It seems like a significant portion of the TechCrunch team has been inspired by the show to start going through their stuff and identifying what “sparks joy,” though some of us have been more systematic and successful than others.

We also discuss Hulu’s surprise release of a Fyre Festival documentary just a few days before Netflix launched a similar film — a situation that’s led the filmmakers behind both projects to point out questionable choices made by their competitors.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You also can send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

Politiscope, an app to track Congressional voting records and bills, launches on android devices

Last September, two former National Football League players launched an app called Politiscope to track the voting records of members of Congress and the bills that they were introducing — and provide non-partisan information about what those bills and votes would mean to voters. The pro-football-playing brothers, Walter Powell Jr. and Brandon Williams, launched the […]

Last September, two former National Football League players launched an app called Politiscope to track the voting records of members of Congress and the bills that they were introducing — and provide non-partisan information about what those bills and votes would mean to voters.

The pro-football-playing brothers, Walter Powell Jr. and Brandon Williams, launched the app to provide an accurate accounting of what Congressional leadership was doing — something the two felt was necessary given the political climate and the ways in which the traditional sources of education on political issues were being called into question.

“A claim of ‘Fake News’ from the current national leaders in response to unflattering news threatens this nation’s democracy and the concept that this great nation was built upon,” said Powell in a statement when the app first launched in September.

Now the two brothers are expanding Politiscope’s reach by launching the Android version of the service.

While the scope of Politiscope may be expanding, the brothers make clear that the company’s mission is still the same. To provide unbiased information sourced from places like the Congressional Budget Office, the Library of Congress, and the Pew Research Center.

Politiscope has two main features in the app.

The first is its “Today in Congress” section, which provides information on all of the proposed legislation that’s making its way through the House of Representatives and the Senate. The app summarizes the bills and gives statements from Republicans and Democrats on how they view the bill that’s been proposed.

The second feature is its profiles of elected officials. The profiles include voting records, business records and other information culled from Federal records and publicly available information to give voters a clear picture of their representatives in government based solely on data.

“Unless you’re studying the actual legislation, it’s almost impossible to find a good source of political information that isn’t at least somewhat slanted, either to the right or the left,” says Powell. “Today’s media is becoming more and more widely split along liberal and conservative lines, and political rhetoric is growing increasingly devoid of clear and objective information. Politiscope exists to eliminate bias and help people understand what’s actually going on in the world of U.S. politics.”