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RadiumOne Issues Not-Quite-Apology For Ousting CEO Who Pled Guilty To Domestic Violence


Ad platform RadiumOne and its former CEO Gurbaksh Chahal have issued a joint statement that is intended to “bring an end to all disputes they have had.” RadiumOne removed Chahal in April following media criticism of his guilty plea for charges of misdemeanor battery and domestic violence battery.

“The Board did not intend to hurt Gurbaksh,” the statement reads. The words “sorry” or “apologize” weren’t used, but the joint statement says the two parties have resolved their dispute.

Though it’s not explicitly stated here, the language suggests that this could be connected to some undisclosed settlement behind the scenes, such as RadiumOne agreeing to compensate Chahal for his termination.

“This statement released today reflects an agreement between RadiumOne and Gurbaksh Chahal to bring an end to all disputes they have had,” the statement begins.

The announcement could draw criticism to RadiumOne; many supported its decision to banish Chahal after police said they had a security video of him hitting his girlfriend 117 times on August 5, 2013 (the video was thrown out of court).

The Board had always intended Gurbaksh to lead the company, and recognizes the enormous contributions he has made to RadiumOne. The Board knows that many people, including Gurbaksh and his family, have suffered tremendously. The Board did not intend to hurt Gurbaksh or his family by its decision, and recognizes that Gurbaksh’s termination made an already difficult situation for Gurbaksh and his family worse.

The company also notes: “From its inception in 2009, RadiumOne grew tremendously, and quickly became profitable and valuable, under the leadership of its founder and last CEO, Gurbaksh Chahal.”

This contradicts the internal memo from RadiumOne attained by Re/code after Chahal was fired. That memo said: “Given recent developments, it became clear that Gurbaksh’s ability to lead the company had been severely compromised by the legal proceedings and ensuing developments.”

After being fired, Chahal vowed that he would seek vengeance against RadiumOne, explaining “You have left me with no other options but to seek legal recourse. And, now will have to face severe legal consequences individually for this in the court of law.” Today’s statement indicates he’s no longer suing. That could mean that RadiumOne agreed to settle with Chahal. With the company trying to go public, it may have thought it was better to remove uncertainty and quash the legal attack with a cash or stock settlement rather than letting it loom over the IPO.

Chahal is now working on launching a new startup called Gravity4, which is a marketing platform for handling all sorts of programmatic and real-time bid advertising plus analytics from one piece of software. Unfortunately, the sullied reputation of its founder may make it tough to get off the ground.

The full joint statement is below:

The statement released today reflects an agreement between RadiumOne and Gurbaksh Chahal to bring an end to all disputes they have had. It is in everyone’s best interests to move on from this difficult period of time to focus on building their respective businesses and prioritizing the needs of employees and customers.

From its inception in 2009, RadiumOne grew tremendously, and quickly became profitable and valuable, under the leadership of its founder and last CEO, Gurbaksh Chahal. The business priority last year was to continue to build a great company and prepare it for a potential IPO. When allegations were brought against Gurbaksh in August 2013, the Board maintained full support of an expedited closure of the legal process. RadiumOne board members along with many others supported Gurbaksh’s decision to accept a misdemeanor plea instead of continuing the long court process for full acquittal for the sake of the company, its employees, and its customers.

The Board had always intended Gurbaksh to lead the company, and recognizes the enormous contributions he has made to RadiumOne. The Board knows that many people, including Gurbaksh and his family, have suffered tremendously. The Board did not intend to hurt Gurbaksh or his family by its decision, and recognizes that Gurbaksh’s termination made an already difficult situation for Gurbaksh and his family worse.

Gurbaksh accepts the Board’s statement. To the Board and the hardworking, dedicated employees that have helped RadiumOne become the force that it is today, Gurbaksh extends his best.

Both the Board and Gurbaksh are thankful to have had this opportunity to resolve their disputes. Gurbaksh wishes the company the continued success that he knows is possible, and RadiumOne wishes Gurbaksh success in his pursuit of new opportunities.

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Latest iOS 8 Beta Update Includes Tips, An App That Shows Features You Might Miss


Announced last month at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 8 slightly refines the look debuted last year while adding a bunch of new features like the ability to interact with notifications, smoothly transition between working on your phone and laptop, and new ways to message people.

Since its announcement, Apple has steadily rolled out these new features and apps in periodic beta releases. As 9to5Mac and other Apple blogs picked up this morning, the latest release includes a new Tips app pointing out features and shortcuts that aren’t immediately apparent, as well as the steps necessary to turn them on or off in settings.

In addition to the app, the company has also launched a web page dedicated to showing off tricks for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Both the app and site currently show the same tips, like how to respond to an iMessage directly from a notification in iOS 8 or how to use Siri without pushing any buttons.

Both methods of accessing tips also let users leave feedback. The iOS app in the current beta lets you “Like” a tip, while the web page has buttons for “Helpful” or “Not helpful” under each trick.

While there are only six tricks shown at the moment, Apple says that it’ll be adding one per week. At that rate, it should have all of the major new features in iOS 8 covered — assuming the Tips app makes it to the final consumer release this fall.


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Airbnb Drops Homejoy From Cleaning Trial, Handybook Remains On In Three Test Markets


Earlier this year, Airbnb began testing a cleaning service for hosts that would be offered at a slight discount to traditional maid services they’d book themselves. The idea was to improve the quality of the guest experience while offering a perk to hosts who frequently make their homes available to strangers.

On the flip side, it had the potential to drive incremental volume to a couple of cleaning startups that it had partnered with for the trial. Last week, however, it notified hosts that one of the two startups it had partnered with for the trial would no longer be available for booking.

The partner being left behind is Homejoy, while Handybook will remain on as part of the trial.

The cleaning trial began in Airbnb’s home market of San Francisco, and over time expanded to New York and Los Angeles. Those were three markets that both Homejoy and Handybook operated in.

Late last year it hired a new head of hospitality, Chip Conley, to improve its quality of service and has been gradually looking to standardize expectations for homes that are listed on the platform. While Airbnb has been careful to message the service as a test it could make more widely available to hosts in the future, cleaning is an obvious differentiator as the company is trying to position itself as a global hospitality brand.

An earlier FAQ for hosts mentions both Homejoy and Handybook as partners for the trial, but last week Airbnb emailed hosts to tell them that Handybook would be the company’s partner for cleanings going forward.

For Handybook, the change could mean a small increase in volume in a few of the markets it operates in. Having Airbnb as a partner could also help drive adoption in other markets, if the company decides to make cleaning services available in other cities.

A representative from Homejoy confirmed that it was no longer working with Airbnb on the trial with the following statement:

After careful consideration we decided to end our partnership together with Airbnb. Though we enjoyed collaborating with Airbnb, our focus remains on growing our core business globally and bringing happy homes to our community and improving the lives of our home service professionals.

Here’s the email sent to Airbnb hosts:

Hi [XXXX],

We have an important update to share with you! Airbnb Cleaning is now partnering with Handybook in San Francisco.

Hosts like you have told us that reliability and quality are paramount when it comes to a great cleaning service. We’ve built a successful product with Handybook in New York that focuses on these top priorities:

1) Reliability
Handybook guarantees service for any cleanings scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. In case of emergency, Handybook has a response team that ensures your guests arrive to a clean listing.

2) Quality
Handybook selects their top-rated cleaners for Airbnb hosts. These cleaners receive special Airbnb training so they understand what’s most important to hosts and guests.

To make this transition seamless, Handybook will use the same cleaning preferences you’ve already set. If Homejoy has your keys, we’ll reach out to you about transferring them to Handybook or returning them to you. Take a look at Handybook’s pricing, below, which varies slightly from Homejoy’s.

We’re excited to introduce you to Handybook’s cleaning service! Our goal is to make hosting easier for you, so if you have any questions simply reply to this email and we’ll get back to you right away.

The Airbnb Cleaning Team

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National Geographic Experiments With Storehouse


Six months after its launch, award-winning iPad app Storehouse has formed a strong community of storytellers, including the likes of GQ Germany, RTÉ, and its most recent participant — National Geographic.

Storehouse is a visual storytelling app that lets you import photos and videos from your camera roll, Instagram, Dropbox or Flickr and create a free-form layout with or without text to tell a story.

Just a few hours ago, National Geographic posted its first story about its Your Shot meet up. Your Shot is a program from National Geographic that brings photographers together to share their photos and get feedback from the editors at the magazine.

While individual photographers such as Jim Richardson from National Geographic have been using the iPad app for a while, the magazine joining Storehouse shows that it sees a potential in the storytelling app.

Mark Kawano, CEO and co-founder of Storehouse, said print publications like National Geographic are inspirations for what started Storehouse.

“This story is really just the story of a meet up they had in Brooklyn … they said they’ve been experimenting with this platform for a whole bunch of different stories,” he said.

Kawano said since the launch, the most interesting aspect of seeing Storehouse kick off is seeing how people use it. Some people see it as a great business tool, while others use it to share recipes or restaurant reviews.

Last week, the company redesigned the website from a static page describing the app to actually showcase stories created by community members.

If Storehouse moves to a another platform, Kawano said it will come to the iPhone, and said that the company doesn’t have plans at the moment to move to Android.



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A Microsoft Surface Revenue Bet


After the introduction of the Surface Pro 3, I tweeted that I thought it would do pretty well in the market. I should have clarified that I meant that in the context of prior Surface sales, but I can’t edit tweets after the fact, so here we are.

Valleywag’s Sam Biddle didn’t agree, and so we made a friendly wager on the matter.

Microsoft reports its earnings tomorrow, and will provide a fresh Surface revenue number as part of that release. I’ve confirmed with the company that the specific Surface figure will be broken out, as per usual.

It seems, however, that I somewhat borked myself in the bet. As it turns out, the $500 million figure was rounded. Surface revenue in the last quarter was actually $494 million (this is why you should never 8-K when you can 10-Q). So I skewed the threshold north by depending on a rounded statistic.

Even more, I presumed that all pre-ordered Surface Pro 3s would see their revenue tallied in the fiscal period. Not so. Only revenue from Surface Pro 3s running Intel Core i5 chips will be counted, as systems running i3 and i7 chips shipped after the end of the quarter, and thus their top line will land in Microsoft’s fiscal first quarter (the current calendar quarter). So a large chunk of revenue that I thought existed the quarter we bet on doesn’t. Oops.

So if I could take out a re-bet, I’d lower my Surface revenue forecasts by 25 to 30 percent. Though, when I’m wrong, I like to do it at full speed.

Please accept this post as an oblation for being quite probably overly optimistic.


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Ambi Climate Wants To Make Summers In Asia More Bearable 


Created by a Hong Kong startup, Ambi Climate is the latest entrant in the smart air conditioner market. The smartphone-controlled device is designed to work with split-unit air conditioners that have an infrared sensor and use machine learning to keep your home at a comfortable temperature while reducing energy consumption. Ambi Climate’s first target markets are in Asia, but it plans to roll out in other countries as well. It started raising funds on Crowdtivate, an Asia-focused crowdfunding site, today.

Ambi Climate is the first product from Ambi Labs, which was founded by Julian Lee, Paul Sykes, and Timothy Chang. Lee first became interested in adding a smartphone-controlled interface to his home air conditioner to keep his 12-year-old husky comfortable during the summer when Lee wasn’t at home.

The device uses machine learning to take in information about your home, temperature preferences, and local weather patterns. Over the past two years, Ambi Labs surveyed 4,000 consumers in 10 Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong). The startup found that many users keep their air conditioner unit set to the lowest temperature and then switch it off when it gets too cold.

“The resulting ‘yo yo-ing’ in temperature, as some of our research participants called it, is both uncomfortable and a waste of energy. They have also complained about needing to adjust their ACs as much as every 30 minutes, and some habitually wake up in the middle of the night to adjust the settings,” Ambi Labs’ communication strategist, Liz Choi, told TechCrunch in an email.

Ambi Climate seeks to solve “yo yo-ing” by using machine learning to predict how conditions in a room will change.

“Before you even feel uncomfortable, Ambi Climate will preemptively make changes to your AC settings to maintain your comfort. Ambi Climate achieves this by learning about your home (how it heats up and cools down), your local weather (e.g. if you have a west or east facing window), and by learning your preferences (e.g. what conditions you like at different times of the day). Based on results from our alpha testers, we can save up to 30% of AC energy consumption.”

Ambi Labs is first targeting nine markets in Asia (Japan, Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong) because of “their high propensity to adopt new technology, and a high penetration rate of smartphone ownership and air conditioner usage,” says Choi. In total, these seven countries have a total of about 95 million households and a 78 percent air conditioner unit penetration rate, compared to 37 percent in Asia overall, with most being infrared split units.

“Among our geographical target markets, we perceive that there are 37 million households which have both split-unit ACs and smartphone usage. Considering that the average Asian household contains 1.7 ACs and our retail price of US$150, we project a long-term potential market size of over US$9.5 billion,” Choi adds.

Ambi Climate’s main competitors include Tado, which makes controllers for heating and air conditioning units; air conditioner controller Sensibo; and smart thermostat Nest.

Tado predicts when people will be at home and turns their ACs on and off accordingly, which Ambi Climate does not do because it found that most of its potential users in Asia turn on their units as soon as they get home.

Like Sensibo, Ambi Climate focuses on maintaining a comfortable temperature, but Choi says Ambi Climate differentiates by also predicting the thermal environment and using Humidex instead of the PMV comfort rating system, which Sensibo uses. While Nest controls central AC’s, Ambi Climate works with infrared controlled units.

The company is currently building 500 beta test units and plans to go into mass production in the first quarter of 2015 after Ambi Labs gathers beta tester feedback. After rolling out in Asia, Ambi Labs will target other markets where split-unit air conditioners are popular, including China, the Middle East and North Africa, and Southern Europe.

For more information, check out Ambi Climate’s Crowdtivate page.

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Surprise! Xiaomi’s New Metal-Edged Flagship Looks Like An iPhone. But Its $13 Wearable Is Novel


Fast growing Chinese Android smartphone startup Xiaomi, which earlier this month reported that it had shifted ~26 million handsets in the first half of this year, has unveiled a new flagship device which it will be hoping powers it over its sales target of 60 million smartphones in full year 2014.

Also today the company took the wraps off its first wearable — a fitness and security bangle called the Mi Band, which costs a throwaway $13.

Mi 4

Xiaomi’s new flagship handset, called the Mi 4, is a premium smartphone that competes at the top of the market — lining up against Samsung’s flagship, the Galaxy S5, and of course Apple’s iPhone 5s. And, on the latter note, the Mi 4 looks to have taken some design cues from Apple with distinctly iPhone-esque metal bands running around its edges.

Specs wise Reuters notes that the Mi 4 has a 5-inch 1080p display, much like its prequel — the M3. The processor has been beefed up from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz though, with a Snapdragon 801 chip inside the M4. It also reportedly comes with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, a high capacity 3,080mAh battery, and a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing lens.

The biggest change is evidently to the design, though – it’s out with the Mi 3′s rounded plastic sides, and in with a flat metal wrapper that has a distinctly iPhone look. According to Reuters, at its unveiling, at the National Convention Center in Beijing earlier today, the Mi 4′s design draw murmurs of “iPhone” from the crowd.

Back in May, Xiaomi unveiled its first tablet device which also appeared to take design inspiration from Apple — being an iPad mini size combined with the colourful, plastic-backed appearance of the iPhone 5c.

The addition of a little ribbon of metal to Xiaomi’s new flagship may not sound like much, but it offers a trump card over Samsung, which has continued to stick with plastic for its flagship devices. In China Xiaomi’s mid-tier RedMi handset has been wooing former Samsung owners from the lower end of the product range. The company is presumably hoping a flashy premium handset can squeeze Sammy at the top end too.

Xiaomi has ambitious market expansion plans — with a big global push planned for this year that will take its devices to 14 global regions in total: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico.

Demand in India for Xiaomi’s Mi 3 handset – its prior flagship, which only went on sale in the country today — apparently crashed Flipkart, according to a BGR India report. The ecommerce site had taken in some 100,000 pre-orders for the Mi 3 in India.

Mi Band

In addition to a new smartphone, Xiaomi unboxed its first wearable today: the Mi Band. As well as tracking health metrics such as steps and sleep, the bangle can be used as an identity authenticator to unlock a Xiaomi smartphone, i.e. rather than having to type in a password. It also includes a sleep-cycle alarm clock. So Xiaomi is bundling fitness and security features in one wearable to increase the utility.

At such a low price (79 renminbi), the company has a big chance to drive serious scale with the Mi Band, as analyst Ben Wood notes below.

The company is also evidently designing the bangle to encourage users to stay within a Xiaomi ecosystem of devices — which spans wi-fi dongles, set-top boxes, phones, tablets and now wearables.

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