This ride-hailing PR pitch shows platforms and digital campaign ‘dark arts’ want democracy to be pay to play

A UK PR firm pitching to run an account for Ola has proposed running a campaign to politicize ride-hailing as a tactic to shift regulations in its favor. The approach suggests that, despite the appearance of ride-hailing platforms taking a more conciliatory position with regulators that are now wise to earlier startup tactics in this…

Backed by Serena Williams and Usain Bolt, Let’s Do This raises $15M from EQT

Back in September, endurance events marketplace Let’s Do This (a YC alumni) raised a $5m seed round from a number of US investors, including Olypmic star Usain Bolt and tennis star Serena Williams. As much as I’d like to get excited, this is slightly par for the course for a lot of sports-oriented startups which…

Ex-Facebook CPO Chris Cox now advises on climate & campaign tech

Chris Cox’s motivational speeches were at the heart of Facebook’s new employee orientation. But after 14 years at the social network, the Chief Product Officer left in March amidst an executive shake-up and Facebook’s new plan to prioritize privacy by moving to encrypt its messaging apps. No details on his next projects were revealed. Now…

Sinclair leads $10.3M investment in rideshare advertising startup Octopus

Octopus Interactive, a startup bringing an interactive TV and ad experience into Uber and Lyft rides, has raised a $10.3 million funding round led by Sinclair Digital Group. Backseat TVs mixing show snippets and commercials have become a common part of the taxi experience in New York City and elsewhere. Octopus is offering something a…

Salesforce names Adam Blitzer as the new CEO of Marketing Cloud

Salesforce is announcing that it has appointed Adam Blitzer as the new CEO of Marketing Cloud. Marketing Cloud is Salesforce’s suite of digital marketing tools, built around the company’s acquisition of ExactTarget back in 2013. That acquisition is what brought Blitzer to Salesforce — he co-founded marketing automation startup Pardot, which was acquired by ExactTarget…

Uber is entering the ads business

Uber will become an ad platform, selling space inside its Eats app to restaurants hoping to lure in more food delivery orders. A recent Uber job listing spotted by TechCrunch seeks an Uber Eats Ads Lead “to lead the team and efforts responsible for creating a new ads business that enables eaters to discover new…

Amperity acquires Custora to improve its customer data platform

Amperity announced today that it’s acquiring another company in the customer data business, Custora. Amperity co-founder and CEO Kabir Shahani told me that Custora’s technology complements what Amperity is already offering. To illustrate this point, he said that customer data tools fall into three big buckets: “The first is know your customer, the second is…

Shopping Ads come to YouTube’s home feed and search results

There’s a new kind of ad coming to YouTube. Google announced today the launch of Shopping ads on YouTube, which lets brands advertise their products and services right in the YouTube home feed and search results. For example, if a user searches for “Puma shoes review,” a Shopping ad may offer a row of suggested…

Seismic acquires Percolate to expand its marketing tools

Seismic is announcing that it’s acquiring Percolate in a deal that it says is combining “two essential pillars of the marketing technology stack.” It sounds like the two companies aren’t direct competitors, but they offer related tools: Seismic helps companies create and manage the content they use in sales and marketing, while Percolate expanded from…

Twitter’s political ads ban is a distraction from the real problem with platforms

Sometimes it feels as if Internet platforms are turning everything upside down, from politics to publishing, culture to commerce, and of course swapping truth for lies. This week’s bizarro reversal was the vista of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, a tech CEO famed for being entirely behind the moral curve of understanding what his product is platforming…