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Top News in the A.M.
More bad news for daily fantasy sports startups. The Massachusetts’ attorney general wants to ban anyone younger than 21 from playing daily and to impose a host of regulations on the industry.
Cognoa, Which Promises Parents Faster Answers. Looks to Series B
There’s a lot of talk these days about computational medicine, which uses massive amounts of data to train a machine to understand even more than experts or, at least, to identify health-related problems more quickly.
Cognoa, a consumer-focused healthcare outfit, is among the developing field’s biggest proponents. The two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company claims it can dramatically speed up the time that it takes parents to identity whether their child has developmental issues, and it can do so by assessing far fewer data points than have been traditionally employed toward the same end.
The company’s story centers on the work of Dennis Wall, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Stanford who began looking into the complexity of diagnosing Autism while an associate professor of pathology at Harvard several years ago. Specifically, he learned that the process of better understanding whether a child’s development is on track typically means hours of behavioral examinations by certified practitioners who’ve been trained to perform interview-based analyses with parents or with children directly.
As you might imagine, appointments are hard to get as a result. In fact, the process is so slow, says Wall, that the average age of a child being seen by one of these practitioners is 4.5 years old. That’s not good. By that age, a kid has missed a window of brain plasticity when an intervention can have the biggest impact.
Work by researchers at The New England Center for Children — which studied 83 toddlers diagnosed with autism in the school’s Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention program —underscores the problem. According to their findings, there’s an alarming gulf between the impact that 20 to 30 hours of weekly one-on-one therapy can have on a child who’s under age 2 and one who is 2.5 years old or older. While fully 90 percent of the toddlers in their study aged 2 or younger made “significant gains” in social and communication skills, just 30 percent of children who entered therapy at age 2.5 or older made “significant gains.”
Cognoa says it can get children in front of doctors faster with its deceptively simple app, one that asks parents to answer 15 questions that address a minimum viable set of behaviors that indicate whether their child is at risk of Autism.
How can it boil down the process so drastically? The company says much of its power is rooted in the information that Wall has culled over the years, including from research repositories like the Autism Genetic Research Exchange, Cure Autism Now (later subsumed into Autism Speaks), the Autism Consortium, and the National Database for Autism Research, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Collectively, the repositories feature observations about 10,000 children. It’s always been possible to request access to that information, says Wall, but he claims no one before had tried to combine, synthesize, and analyze the data using machine learning.
Avenida, a two-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based e-commerce giant, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by earlier investor Naspers, with participation from another earlier backer, Tiger Global Management. TechCrunch has more here.
Hover, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based app that lets residents and contractors easily create 3-D models of houses from a handful of photos, has raised $6 million in funding led by Alsop Louie Partners. Earlier backers Almaz Capital and Maverick Investments also joined the round. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Nuzzel, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based social, real-time platform that allows users to see the news that their friends share, has raised its third round of $1.7 million in funding (a coincidence, apparently), from investors that include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and SoftBank Vice President Nikesh Arora. TechCrunch has more here.
OpenHouse, a five-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based real-estate agent recommendation service, has raised $13.5 million in Series A funding led by Triangle Peak Partners and March Capital Partners, with participation from other, undisclosed investors. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Travo, a year-old, L.A.-based travel reservations platform tailored for professionals who book their own business trips, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding from investors that include Great Oaks Ventures, Baroda Ventures, Valence Ventures, TYLT Lab and individual angels.
Tubi TV, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company offering a free alternative to paid subscription video services like Netflix, has raised $6 million in Series B funding led by Cota Capital, with participation from Hollywood studios MGM and Lionsgate. Earlier backer Foundation Capital also joined the round. The company has now raised $10 million altogether. TechCrunch hasmore here.
WaHome, a six-month-old, Seoul-based on-demand home cleaning service, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Sparklabs Global Ventures, Mashup Angels, Fast Track Asia, and several individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Lerer Hippeau Ventures in New York has raised a new $113 million fund. That’s almost twice the size of the firm’s fourth fund, closed in early 2014 with $62 million.
Razer, the high-end gaming hardware firm that entered the billion dollar unicorn club last year courtesy of an undisclosed investment from Intel, is planning to create a corporate venture capital fund that is slated to launch next year. TechCrunch has the story here.
Square, the payments technology company, saw its share rise 45 percent in their first first day of trading (though the stock was priced at $9, below its expected range).
Shares of Match Group, which owns dating site Match.com and mobile app Tinder, jumped 23 percent in their market debut.
Cisco announced today it plans to buy the U.K.-based video conferencing firm Acano. The widely reported price: $700 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Watch out, Amazon? Veteran entrepreneur and technologist Diane Greene has been appointed to head up Google’s cloud business that caters to companies.
Jawbone yesterday laid off around 60 employees, or 15 percent of staff in a global round of layoffs that affects all areas of the business. It’s the second round of layoffs at Jawbone since this summer. TechCrunch has the skinny here.
This is not a good development for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Facebook debuts new digital break-up tools.
You can now use bitcoin anywhere that Visa is accepted.
The Finnish mobile devices and OS maker Jolla is reportedly in big trouble.
Thirteen tech IPOs compared: How much a $10,000 investment would be worth today.
Sturdy legs could mean healthy brains.
Tesla Model S owners in Hong Kong have suddenly found their autopilot features disabled.
The real-life villain’s lair from “Spectre”. Price: $4 million.