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Image recognition startup ViSenze raises $20M Series C

ViSenze, a startup that provides visual search tools for online retailers like Rakuten and ASOS, announced today that it has raised a $20 million Series C. The round was co-led by Gobi Ventures and Sonae IM, with participation from other backers including returning investors Rakuten and WI Harper.

Founded in 2012, ViSenze has now raised a total of $34.5 million (its last round was a Series B announced in September 2016). The Singapore-based company, whose clients also include Urban Outfitters, Zalora, and Uniqlo, bills its software portfolio as a “personal shopping concierge” that allows shoppers to find or discover new products based on visual search, automatic photo tagging, and recommendations based on their browsing history. ViSenze’s verticals include fashion, jewelry, furniture, and intellectual property.

ViSenze’s latest funding will be used to develop its software through partnerships with smartphone makers including Samsung, LG, and Huawei. The company has offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States, and claims an annual revenue growth rate of more than 200 percent. Other startups in the same space include Syte.ai, Slyce, Clarifai, and Imagga.

In a statement, Rakuten Ventures partner Adit Swarup said “When we first invested in ViSenze in 2014, retailers had just started seeing the benefits of powering product recommendations with image data. Today, ViSenze not only powers recommendations for the largest brands in the world, but has helped pioneer a paradigm shift in e-commerce; helping consumers find products inside their favorite social media videos and images, as well as initiate a search directly from their camera app.”

Other participants in the round included returning investors Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Ventures, Raffles Venture Partners, Enspire Capital, and UOB Venture Management, as well as new investors Tembusu ICT Fund, 31Ventures Global Innovation Fund, and Jonathan Coon’s Impossible Ventures.

Netflix says new episodes of “Arrested Development” will debut on March 15

It’s time for another hit off the juice box. Netflix announced today that it will release the remaining eight episodes of “Arrested Development’s” fifth season on March 5, ten months after the first half premiered. In the intervening time, however, the show has dealt with several controversies revolving around accusations of abusive behavior from star Jeffrey Tambor, who plays family patriarch George Bluth.

The Netflix installments of the show, which began in 2013 with season 4 and marked the show’s return after running from 2003 to 2006 on Fox, have received mixed reviews and failed to achieve the iconic status of the original episodes. The controversies surrounding the show’s cast has also dampened some fans’ enthusiasm, at least for the new seasons.

Tambor will appear in the upcoming episodes despite being fired from Amazon Studios’ “Transparent” last year after he was accused of sexual harassment by two of his colleagues on the series. Then Tambor’s “Arrested Development” co-star Jessica Walter said he had verbally abused her during filming. In a New York Times cast interview to promote the first half of season five, Walter said she was “over it now,” but tone-deaf responses from male castmates, including Jason Bateman, underscored how warped gender dynamics and Tambor’s misbehavior might have been enabled on set (Bateman later apologized).

Tambor has denied the sexual harassment accusations, but a year and a half after the MeToo Movement began taking off, it is likely to continue casting a pall over the latest installment of “Arrested Development.” The new season picks up story lines involving the Bluth company’s involvement in building the border wall and Buster’s murder trial.

Watch someone feed a baby Porg in new Star Wars mixed reality game

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Been dreaming of raising your own little Porg family since Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

You can soon live like Luke Skywalker on the island of Ahch-To, surrounded by fluffy little Porgs, thanks to a new mixed reality project from Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division.

ILMxLAB’s Project Porg was first announced in October at Magic Leap’s L.E.A.P Conference, but on Tuesday, the team dropped a first peek at what the project will look like.

To be released for free download on Magic Leap One headsets, Project Porg lets you raise your own Tamagotchi-like version of the Star Wars character — and their family. Read more…

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5 most savage quotes from damning report on the ‘digital gangsters’ at Facebook

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The results of an 18-month investigation into Facebook are out and they’re not pretty. 

The UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) published a lengthy report filled with harsh words for the social media giant, which is accused of intentionally violating privacy laws.

In a statement, Facebook’s UK public policy manager, Karim Palant, said the company supports “effective privacy legislation that holds companies to high standards in their use of data and transparency for users,” and has already made “substantial changes” to its political advertising policies. 

Here’s a look at the most brutal takedowns of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in the report.  Read more…

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Netflix’s Mötley Crüe biopic digs into the band’s debaucherous past

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Yep, it’s another music biopic.

This time, it’s not just about any act: It’s about Mötley Crüe, one of the most debaucherous rock bands to have ever graced this Earth.

The Dirt relives the band’s highs and lows, and is based on the similarly-titled book they released in 2001. 

Founding member and drummer Tommy Lee is played by Machine Gun Kelly, with Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, while Pete Davidson takes on the role of Elektra A&R exec Tom Zutaut.

The Dirt is out on Netflix on March 22. Read more…

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