In Japan, TechInAsia takes a look at two competing news apps that will soon take Western markets by storm. “The back-and-forth between SmartNews and Gunosy, Japan’s premier news apps that are taking their domestic war global, added a new chapter today,” it reports. “Only a week after Gunosy filed for a US$263 million IPO, SmartNews tells Tech in Asia that it has nabbed a US$10 million bridge round at a pre-money valuation of US$320 million.”
It’s good to be king. Illustrating that point, Fast Company’s Co.Design blog takes us inside Facebook’s new flagship building on its Menlo Park campus. “The hacker warehouse, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is a 430,000-square-foot LEED-certified building tucked into the terrain like a Bilbo Baggins hut, where it will house a little under a third of Facebook's global team,” it writes. “The design is one big room because it's meant to reflect Facebook's open culture.”
In the wake of Facebook’s decision to turn Messenger into an app platform, The Economist suggests that messaging services could challenge established operating systems like Android and iOS. “Facebook Messenger, which is itself an app for smartphones that run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, will [now] be competing with those operating systems’ services for buying apps and downloads,” it writes.
As promised, WhatsApp is rolling out free data-based calling. “Once updated, the app provides a new tab that'll let you dial friends on top of texting them,” Egadget reports. Users with Android-based phones should get access to the new service first, while iOS users will have to wait a while longer. In January, Facebook said its WhatsApp unit had more than 700 million monthly active users.
Expanding its curation abilities, Flipboard is launching Private Group Magazines. “As the name implies, these new magazines will only be visible to those members of a private group -- meaning only those invited to collaborate on the magazine will be able to view the magazine or contribute content,” TechCrunch reports. Apparently, “its ability to allow users to build their own magazines and share them with others has proven to be one of Flipboard’s more popular features.”
As Apple knows, it’s the quality of the complimentary apps that are going to make or break its Watch ambitions. As such, it’s no surprise that the tech giant is already pushing what it believes will be the gadget’s killer apps. “A select few apps selected by Apple to be available for the Apple Watch have started hitting the App Store today,” 9To5Mac reports. From The New York Times to Twitter, “Apple has clearly flipped the switch on the select apps being promoted alongside the Apple Watch.”
Surprising many tech watchers, BlackBerry actually managed to post a profit during its fiscal fourth quarter. Yet, “its revenue continues to tank as its turnaround remains a work in progress,” ZDNet reports. “For BlackBerry's fiscal 2015, the company’s revenue was $3.33 billion, down from $6.81 billion … The good news is that BlackBerry cut its losses from $5.87 billion in fiscal 2014 to $304 million in fiscal 2015.”
Confirming last week’s report, investors are telling TechCrunch that they have in fact pumped fresh capital into live-streaming service Meerkat. “Greylock has just confirmed the investment,” it writes. Yet, “Greylock isn’t talking about the financial details of the deal.” Last week, sources told TechCrunch that Meerkat had raised $12 million a $52 million at a valuation of $52 million.
Fittingly named the Azure App Service, Microsoft just debuted a new service on its Azure cloud platform that streamlines Web, mobile, and enterprise offerings for the developer community. “App Service is a new service in Azure that makes it easy for developers to build web and mobile apps in the cloud,” according to the software giant. “It lets developers integrate data from anywhere into those apps.”
Video broadcasting app Meerkat has reportedly raised $12 million led by Greylock partner Josh Elman. The Series B round values Meerkat at $52 million, sources tell TechCrunch. The start-up is generating a ton of buzz, these days, particularly since Twitter just bought rival broadcasting app Periscope. Meerkat raised about $3.5 million in seed and Series A funding, in January.