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Web.com website builder review

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Website Builders can be found all over the internet, promising to simplify the creation of webpages so you can get on with managing your business. Many fulfil that promise, while others fall far short. Web.com is a new service. It’s got the perfect name, but how does its features hold up?

First off, web.com doesn’t offer a free trial, nor does there seem to be a money back guarantee. You have to commit to at least four weeks, but on the plus side, that first payment is only $1.95. You’re then offered to choose a domain name. There’s a complimentary offer of a free URL (some restrictions apply), which remains free as long as you renew your website builder service. If you already own one, you can use it instead.

This could put off a few people, but as the focus of this service is on businesses, the initial outlay is tiny for what you’re being offered.

Getting started

Having bought your first month and hooked up your account to a domain name, the next stage is to choose the template you’d like to work with. Even though this is a new service, there are already 125 to choose from, all broken down by categories such as “Business”, “Services”, “Health”, and “Portfolio”, among others. ‘Blank’ is also available should you prefer to start from scratch.

Each template is then further divided based on whether you need to create a single or multi-page website.

Once you’ve chosen your template, you’re then introduced to the website builder proper, with a few handy tool tips. You have the option of switching between Desktop, Tablet and Mobile thanks to icons at the top of the page, to see what your creation looks like on various devices.

The whole concept of web.com’s website creation process is centred around dragging and dropping ‘features’ or ‘blocks’. The Features’ titles are pretty self explanatory: Heading, Text, Button, Icon, Slider, etc. Just drag them onto the page, as the right section turns red, release the mouse button to insert that feature there.

Blocks behave in the same way, but come more pre-assembled, with placeholder text and images in various location. This is a great and easy way to add what could be seen as more complex parts of a website – like a navigation menu – in seconds. It’s also great to quickly generate sections which you can easily customise, such as Testimonials, a Call to Action, Galleries, etc. 

Media

Whether you use Features or Blocks, inserting photos and images is essentially the same: once the placeholder has been added to a page, click on it to choose what to replace it with. Options are pretty straightforward: drag and drop them from your computer, access your photos from your Facebook, Dropbox, Box.com, or Flickr accounts, or browse through thousands of royalty free images, courtesy of Unsplash. 

We quite liked the ‘My Photos’ section, which displays all the images you’ve uploaded to web.com and are using in one of your websites. It’s a great way to not have to constantly re-upload the same image over and over again.

We noticed a glitch when embedding a video from YouTube, Dailymotion or Vimeo onto a Video Block: be aware that its thumbnail isn’t automatically displayed, and you’re stuck with the placeholder image until you manually remove it yourself. This doesn’t happen when using the Video Feature.

When it comes to text editing, you have over 60 fonts to choose from, including the option of setting a different font for your headings and for your text, should you want to do that, and of course you have control over colour, style, positions, everything you’d expect from such an editor.

Other noteworthy features include being able to add links and share options to social media, inserting custom forms, and embedding Google Maps. All great options to make your pages more interactive.

Settings

The Settings options in the Sidebar are where you can access various features such as Google site verification and Google Analytics. It’s also the place to set up Pinterest pin buttons, and your site’s Favicon, essentially, anything that affects your website as a whole can be located here.

It’s all subdivided into categories, from General (which includes options for image optimisation – which is on by default), Domains (to manage all URLs connected to your account), Marketing (the place for analytics, tag manager and site verification), Legal (to toggle banner to warn visitors that cookies are collected – a legal requirement in many countries), and Advanced (where you can choose and customise a layout for your 404 page, for instance, and turn on the ability to use your own custom blocks across all your websites).

Blogging

You’d be forgiven for thinking web.com doesn’t support blogging, but that’s because this feature is hidden by default – possibly because it’s still in beta. To reveal it, go to Settings in the Sidebar, select Blog and click on ‘Enable Blog’. A new Blog icon will then appear in the sidebar and a ‘Blog’ page will have been added to your site (which you’re free to rename of course).

Blogging itself is pretty straightforward. You add a title, write your piece, and pepper it with images. We can add an image above or below a section of text, but can’t apparently get the text to wrap around the image.

We also couldn’t find a way to schedule a post’s publication, add a featured image, or even tags. Although simple and trouble-free, blogging with web.com feels pretty bare bones and definitely earns its ‘beta’ monicker.

E-commerce

Adding an online store to your website doesn’t come with the standard plan, and is only available with the E-Commerce package (more on that later).

The main layout is very clean and simple. You’re given a choice of four layouts but they look so similar, it’s really hard to tell them apart. Other customisation options include changing the number of columns and rows to display your products, and whether or not to add specific information such as SKUs and even a ‘Buy Now’ button for each.

You’re able to sell physical and digital products, deal with taxes, handle shipping options, set up electronic payments, as you’d expect, but the store isn’t designed to handle a massive inventory as you have to add each product one at a time. We couldn’t find an option to import a file with all the info already stored on it for instance

There is however a nice Discount feature which allows you to create various coupons, set their value, limit the products which can be used with it, and set an expiry date.

Support

Tech support was friendly and responsive, and they also have a knowledgebase which contains a wealth of information about the workings of web.com’s service, broken down into short clear, and well illustrated articles, which answered most of the queries we had.

Plans and pricing

As mentioned earlier, the basic package starts at $1.95 for the first four weeks, then goes up to $10.00 every four weeks after that. You can choose to pay yearly instead, with the first year being $50, and all subsequent ones being $100.

If you want the e-commerce package, your first four weeks will cost you £3.95, followed by $20 for all subsequence four weeks. Again, you can choose to pay yearly, with $100 for the first year, and $200 after that.

Final verdict

We found web.com to be a very good website builder. Its features and blocks allow you to create a unique and visually interesting page (or series of pages) in minutes. Beefing up the blogging, and offer bulk product imports for the online store, would make it even better. It’s a simple, and affordable solution.

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Geek+ raises another $100M for its warehouse robots – TechCrunch

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Two things are for certain: 1) There continues to be a lot of excitement around warehouse robotics and 2) Geek+ is extremely good at raising money based on that fact. The Beijing-based warehouse robotics firm just raised another $100 million in funding, labeled a “Series E1,” with participation from Intel Capital, Vertex Growth and Qingyue Capital Investment.

The last time we wrote about the company was still fairly early on in the pandemic — June 2020 — when it had just raised a $200 million Series C. Meantime, the company raised an undisclosed Series D last year. Certainly there’s no lack of investor interest in the firm at the moment, with this most recent round valuing Geek+ at somewhere around $2 billion.

I’d say it’s probably a good idea to get funding while the funding’s good. While the space will almost certainly continue to grow, there’s likely to be a bit of a correction here, as investments respond to broader market trends. Meanwhile, Geek+ is posting impressive numbers, including $150 million in revenue last year, coupled with $300 million in orders. As pandemic waves continue to result in shutdowns in China and elsewhere, it’s easy to see why companies continue investing in these technologies.

Geek+ mentions “global expansion” as one of the primary motivators for its seeking additional funding. Notably, fellow Beijing-based firm, ForwardX Robotics expanded into the U.S. earlier this month, on the heels of its own Series C. In July, Geek+ announced deployments in both North and South America. The firm also has multiple partner deals in Europe.

“With the first-mover advantage, Geek+ has already developed a solid competitive advantage in global markets, bringing in a constant driving force for business development,” Geek+ founder and CEO Yong Zheng said in a release. “This, coupled with our three technology pillars of robotics, systems, and algorithms, has not only allowed Geek+ to develop a full product line, but also improve R&D efficiency while reducing R&D costs.”

Of course, stateside expansion finds the companies competing with an already crowded market of domestic warehouse robotics firms that offer a variety of both greenfield and brownfield solutions for automating the warehouse space. Geek+ produces a variety of different robotics systems, though at its core, the company offers a Kiva-style wheeled robot designed to cart around inventory shelves.

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WhatsApp is adding new privacy options, including screenshot blocking and a stealth mode – TechCrunch

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WhatsApp is introducing a small flurry of privacy-minded tweaks into the messaging app, the company announced on Tuesday. The Meta-owned globally ubiquitous messaging service says the changes aim to give users more control over their experience while introducing “added layers” to protect their private communications.

WhatsApp will introduce an option for users to privately use the app without being visibly online, something it calls “online presence control.” The feature, which rolls out to everyone this month, will let WhatsApp users curate which contacts can see their online status while hiding it from others. The list of contacts who can view your online status doesn’t have a cap and you can swap people in and out at any time. The company says that the update will come to both its desktop and mobile app offerings.

The company is also testing screenshot blocking for “view once” messages, which disappear after being opened a single time. WhatsApp introduced a disappearing media option a year ago, reminding users at the time that they wouldn’t be able to know if the recipient was saving any shared photos and videos as screenshots. The feature is in testing for now but the company hopes to get it out to users broadly “soon.” (It’s worth remembering that anyone can still take a photo of their screen with a different device, which should make you think twice about getting too comfy on apps with disappearing messaging.)

The last change is another small quality of life update, but a notable enough one. This month, WhatsApp will allow users to leave groups privately without sending out a mass notification that they bailed. Group admins will still get notified, but generally this change should make moving through groups on the app more fluid and less awkward. This change will also roll out to both the desktop and mobile version of the app.

WhatsApp Head of Product Ami Vora described the additions as a boost to the app’s “interlocking layers of protection,” which aim to bolster its status as a prominent encrypted messaging option.

The company has made other efforts over the years. Last fall, it closed one possible weak spot in its encrypted messaging service, adding end-to-end encryption for backups stored in the cloud.

“We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversation,” Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of the new features.

The company’s own messaging isn’t always as tight though: A confusing privacy policy update in early 2021 prompted a backlash, sending users to rival apps. That same update is still reverberating more than a year later, and the European Commission launched a formal investigation into its concerns about the app’s consumer protections earlier this year.

 

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Big funds ‘screwing with Series A market but not seed market’ says veteran VC Mike Hirshland – TechCrunch

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Mike Hirshland is enjoying 2022. Despite the market’s zigs and zags, he has spent much of his time this past summer in Rhode Island, where relatives from afar have gathered on and off for an extended family reunion. He and partner Raanan Bar-Cohen were also able to close their fifth fund with $150 million in capital commitments at winter’s end —  ahead of the stock market collapse that would follow. Indeed, the two now have around $375 million in assets under management at their 11-year-old venture firm, Resolute Ventures.

Yet another reason to feel cheery is what’s happening at their stage of the market, where after a rapid run-up, valuations are slowly but surely coming back down to earth, suggests Hirshland. He says that while Resolute’s pace has been “remarkably consistent,” leading to roughly 10 investments each year that draw initial checks from the firm in the $1 million to $1.5 million range, the “biggest departure” in its history was last year. It was then that both round sizes and valuations ballooned, prompting the firm to write bigger checks while also forcing it to walk away from “really big, really pricey seed rounds” with valuations so lofty that Hirshland feared their next round would be problematic.

That’s not to say it’s all been a walk in the park. Some of Resolute’s best-performing portfolio companies, including Opendoor and Bark & Co., have had their struggles since going public through tie-ups with special purpose acquisition companies.

Another of Resolute’s bets, Clutter — which is also backed by Sequoia Capital and SoftBank — has also found it harder to grow its business than it might have imagined earlier. The outfit merged with a rival in February to bolster its odds of succeeding, but Hirshland, who remains “quite bullish” on Clutter, admits that it isn’t always easy to profitably “move atoms.”

What is not a concern for Hirshland, he insists, is competition. He says Resolute backs founders based largely on their vision and the firm’s belief that the team can build something compelling. (“I’m essentially indifferent if it’s day 1 or day 365, when they can show me some code,” he says.) He argues that other firms, no matter their public messaging, aren’t quite as open-minded, especially not right now.

In fact, asked about later-stage firms like Tiger Global and Insight Partners that have been shifting more of their attention to younger startups, Hirshland, talking with TechCrunch over Zoom, shrugs his shoulders. “Big funds are really screwing with the Series A market,” he says, “but in the seed market, we’re not seeing these guys come that far down.”

Even if they did, adds Hirshland, it wouldn’t last long. “You always see firms announce these big seed initiatives because when things get competitive, people move earlier. But when the shit hits the fan, they go back to focusing on their bread and butter and the cycle just continues.”

Resolute has so far invested roughly $10 million in initial checks from its newest fund. Some of its more recent investments include Signl, a startup that sells business intelligence tools to investors and whose founders sold an earlier company, Bitium, to Google in 2017.

Resolute also recently invested in Nobl9, a so-called service level objective platform whose founders also sold a previous company (Orbitera) to Google.

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