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Cooper raises $2M to build a professional network centered on introductions – TechCrunch

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In a period of social distancing, making new professional connections feels harder than ever. So Amsterdam-based Cooper is building a network that’s all about making and receiving introductions.

“Everything that happens in the network is based on on the foundation of introductions,” CEO Robert Gaal told me. “You should never get an unwanted message, and there’s no such thing as a connection request, because it’s not necessary if you have an introduction.”

The startup is launching internationally today and announcing that it has raised $2 million in seed funding.

Gaal (who co-founded the company with CTO Emiel van Liere) described Cooper as “a private professional network that’s not about how many connections do I have, it’s about bringing the people that you already trust into a circle.”

That’s in contrast with existing professional networking sites, which are most useful as “directories” of online résumés, and usually emphasize the quantity of connections, rather than the quality. (I’ll admit that on LinkedIn, I’m connected to a bunch of people who I barely know at all.)

So Cooper tries to take the opposite approach, limiting users’ connections to people they really know. To do this, it can pull data from a user’s online calendar, and it also provides them with a personal invite code that they can share with their professional contacts.

Image Credits: Cooper

Users then post requests or opportunities, which are viewable by their connections and by friends of friends, who can offer to make useful introductions via email or in Cooper itself.

In fact, Gaal said that during the initial beta test, multiple people have successfully used Cooper to find new jobs — sometimes after pandemic-related layoffs, which they’re comfortable sharing with their inner circle but don’t want to broadcast to the world at large.

“There’s more discovery, more trust and you can reinvent other things on top of that — what the résumé is, what mentorship is — if you get trust right first,” he said.

Of course, simply sharing a calendar invite with someone doesn’t really mean you trust them or know them well. Cooper could eventually start looking at other measures that indicate your “connectivity” with someone, like how often you email with them, Gaal said — but the first step is simply recreating the professional circle in which you feel comfortable saying, “Oh, you’re looking for a job? My friend is hiring.”

Yes, those kinds of conversations are already happening offline, but he noted that most of us can only remember “a handful of people” at once. Cooper is making that “marketplace” much more visible and easy to track.

The startup doesn’t sell ads or user data. Instead, Gaal hopes to make money by charging membership fees for features like customizing your profile or promoting your request more broadly.

The startup’s seed funding was led by Comcast Ventures, with participation from LocalGlobe and 468 Capital.

“At a time when the ability to connect is limited, Cooper is building a professional network fostering meaningful and substantive connections, “said Daniel Gulati, founding partner at Forecast Fund and former managing director at Comcast Ventures, in a statement. “We are excited to support the team on their journey ahead.”

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Ivanti has acquired security firms MobileIron and Pulse Secure – TechCrunch

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IT security software company Ivanti has acquired two security companies: enterprise mobile security firm MobileIron, and corporate virtual network provider Pulse Secure.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ivanti said it bought MobileIron for $872 million in stock, with 91% of the shareholders voting in favor of the deal; and acquired Pulse Secure from its parent company Siris Capital Group, but did not disclose the buying price.

The deals have now closed.

Ivanti was founded in 2017 after Clearlake Capital, which owned Heat Software, bought Landesk from private equity firm Thoma Bravo, and merged the two companies to form Ivanti. The combined company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, focuses largely on enterprise IT security, including endpoint, asset, and supply chain management. Since its founding, Ivanti went on to acquire several other companies, including U.K.-based Concorde Solutions and RES Software.

If MobileIron and Pulse Secure seem familiar, both companies have faced their fair share of headlines this year after hackers began exploiting vulnerabilities found in their technologies.

Just last month, the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Center published an alert that warned of a remotely executable bug in MobileIron, patched in June, allowing hackers to break into enterprise networks. U.S. Homeland Security’s cybersecurity advisory unit CISA said that the bug was being actively used by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, typically associated with state-backed hackers.

Meanwhile, CISA also warned that Pulse Secure was one of several corporate VPN providers with vulnerabilities that have since become a favorite among hackers, particularly ransomware actors, who abuse the bugs to gain access to a network and deploy the file-encrypting ransomware.

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Google launches Android Enterprise Essentials, a mobile device management service for small businesses – TechCrunch

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Google today introduced a new mobile management and security solution, Android Enterprise Essentials, which, despite its name, is actually aimed at small to medium-sized businesses. The company explains this solution leverages Google’s experience in building Android Enterprise device management and security tools for larger organizations in order to come up with a simpler solution for those businesses with smaller budgets.

The new service includes the basics in mobile device management, with features that allow smaller businesses to require their employees to use a lock screen and encryption to protect company data. It also prevents users from installing apps outside the Google Play Store via the Google Play Protect service, and allows businesses to remotely wipe all the company data from phones that are lost or stolen.

As Google explains, smaller companies often handle customer data on mobile devices, but many of today’s remote device management solutions are too complex for small business owners, and are often complicated to get up-and-running.

Android Enterprise Essentials attempts to make the overall setup process easier by eliminating the need to manually activate each device. And because the security policies are applied remotely, there’s nothing the employees themselves have to configure on their own phones. Instead, businesses that want to use the new solution will just buy Android devices from a reseller to hand out or ship to employees with policies already in place.

Though primarily aimed at smaller companies, Google notes the solution may work for select larger organizations that want to extend some basic protections to devices that don’t require more advanced management solutions. The new service can also help companies get started with securing their mobile device inventory, before they move up to more sophisticated solutions over time, including those from third-party vendors.

The company has been working to better position Android devices for use in workplace over the past several years, with programs like Android for Work, Android Enterprise Recommended, partnerships focused on ridding the Play Store of malware, advanced device protections for high-risk users, endpoint management solutions, and more.

Google says it will roll out Android Enterprise Essentials initially with distributors Synnex in the U.S. and Tech Data in the U.K. In the future, it will make the service available through additional resellers as it takes the solution global in early 2021. Google will also host an online launch event and demo in January for interested customers.

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U.S. shopping app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs – TechCrunch

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Many U.S. consumers spent this year’s Black Friday sales event shopping from home on mobile devices. That led to first-time installs of mobile shopping apps in the U.S. to break a new record for single-day installs on Black Friday 2020, according to a report from Sensor Tower. The firm estimates that U.S. consumers downloaded approximately 2.8 million shopping apps on November 27th — a figure that’s up by nearly 8% over last year.

However, this number doesn’t necessarily represent faster growth than in 2019, which also saw about an 8% year-over-year increase in Black Friday shopping app installs, the report noted. This could be because mobile shopping and the related app installs are now taking place throughout the month of November, though, as retailers adjusted to the pandemic and other online shopping trends by hosting earlier sales or even month-long sales events.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

The data seems to indicate this is true. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 29, U.S. consumers downloaded approximately 59.2 million shopping apps from across the App Store and Google Play — an increase of roughly 15% from the 51.7 million they downloaded in Nov. 2019. That’s a much higher figure than the 2% year-over-year growth seen during this same period in 2019.

Another shift taking place in mobile shopping is the growing adoption of app from brick-and-mortar retailers. During the first three quarters of 2020, apps from brick-and-mortar retailers grew installs 27%. This trend continued on Black Friday, when 5 out of the top 10 mobile shopping apps were those from brick-and-mortar retailers, led by Walmart.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Walmart saw the highest adoption this year, with around 131,000 Black Friday installs, followed by Amazon at 106,000, then Shopify’s Shop at 81,000. Combined, the top 10 apps saw 763,000 total new installs, or 27% of the first-time downloads in the Shopping category.

Because the firms are only looking at new app installs, they aren’t giving a full picture of the U.S. mobile shopping market, as many consumers already have these apps installed on their devices. And many more simply shop online via a desktop or laptop computer.

To give these figures some context, Shopify reported on Saturday it had seen record Black Friday sales of $2.4 billion, with 68% on mobile. And today, Amazon announced its small business sales alone topped $4.8 billion from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, a 60% year-over-year increase, but it didn’t break out the percentage that came from mobile.

Sensor Tower and rival app store analytics firm App Annie largely agreed on the top 5 shopping apps downloaded this Black Friday. They both saw Walmart again beating Amazon to become the most-downloaded U.S. shopping app on Black Friday — as it did in 2019. The two firms reported that Amazon remained No. 2 by downloads, followed by Shopify’s Shop app, then Target. However, Sensor Tower put Best Buy in 5th place, followed by Nike, while App Annie saw those positions swapped.

Image Credits: App Annie

The rest of Sensor Tower’s top 10 included SHEIN, Sam’s Club, Klarna, then Offer Up, while App Annie’s list was rounded out by SHEIN, Sam’s Club, Wish, then Offer Up.

The pandemic’s impact may not have been obvious given the growth in online shopping this year, but the recession it triggered has played a role in how U.S. consumers are paying for their purchases. “Buy Now, Pay Later” apps like Klarna were up this year, even breaking into the top 10 per Sensor Tower’s data. The firm also noted that many new shopping apps launched this year focused on discounts and deals and retailers ran longer sales this year, as well.

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