Luka, with $4.42 million in Series A, releases AI-powered chat bots

By Jordan Crook Just in time for the chat bot craze, Disrupt London alum Luka is enhancing its AI-powered messaging service with a variety of smart bots to help users get whatever they desire. Luka originally launched as a Yelp competitor, all done over text. Users could ask Luka, via chat, about where they should…

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Hands on with Reddit’s new smartphone app

By Anthony Ha “Finally” is one of those words that gets overused in tech news stories, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s taken a pretty long time for Reddit to release its first official, native apps for iOS and Android. Until now, the company has made do with Alien Blue, which started…

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Mashable cuts staff as it shifts focus from politics and world news

By Anthony Ha Mashable founder and CEO Pete Cashmore (pictured above) announced layoffs today in a company-wide email that he also posted on LinkedIn. As part of the cuts, Executive Editor Jim Roberts and Chief Revenue Officer Seth Robin will be leaving the company. Politico reports that the layoffs affected about 30 staffers, including its…

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The Sacramento Kings just held the NBA’s first startup pitch competition

By Fitz Tepper At a game on Tuesday night, the Sacramento Kings held the National Basketball League’s first ever pitch competition. Four local companies (which were already narrowed down from 32 semi-finalists, and about 100 applicants) pitched to the entire stadium, which voted on Twitter for the winner. QuickLegal, an on-demand legal advice service, won…

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Litsy is a book-focused social network that goes beyond reviews

By Anthony Ha If you’re a book lover, Litsy might be the social app for you. The startup was founded by Todd Lawton and Jeff LeBlanc, who previously launched the book-themed clothing company Out of Print. Lawton told me the idea for Litsy came from connecting with Out of Print fans at events like book…

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Chatty fiction app Hooked gets an update where readers can write stories, too

By Anthony Ha Fiction app Hooked launched last fall, aiming to reinvent fiction with short stories modeled on text message conversations. Next up: Letting readers write their own stories. That arrives today with the launch of Hooked 2.0. Any Hooked reader can now create characters and then write their story one message at a time.…

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Restaurant waitlisting app NoWait rolls out mobile payments

By Sarah Perez Restaurant waitlisting service NoWait is known best by consumers for its mobile app that lets you virtually “get in line” at nearby restaurants like Chili’s and others, where formal reservations may not be accepted. This helps speed up the time it takes to grab a meal, as you don’t have to waste…

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E-commerce search startup Twiggle scores $12.5M Series A led by Naspers

By Catherine Shu Search engines on large e-commerce sites often spit up a lot of results, which is great if you want to browse, but otherwise annoying. Twiggle thinks it has the solution. Internet conglomerate Naspers agrees, because it has led the Tel Aviv-based startup’s $12.5 million Series A. Yahoo Japan, State of Mind Ventures…

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Karamba Security raises $2.5 million to keep hackers out of connected cars

By Lora Kolodny GPS navigation. Entertainment systems that offer streaming music. Bluetooth door locks. As vehicles are increasingly connected to the internet, they also become vulnerable to hacker attacks. Now, a Tel Aviv-based startup called Karamba Security has raised $2.5 million in seed funding to bring cybersecurity solutions to the automotive industry. According to Karamba…

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Clutter on-demand storage services packs up $20 million from Sequoia

By Jordan Crook Clutter, the on-demand storage space looking to take on the likes of MakeSpace, has today announced the close of a $20 million Series B round led by Sequoia Capital. Sequoia also led a $9 million Series A for Clutter back in October. The premise behind Clutter is simple. Almost everyone that lives…

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