Review: Nomad leather AirPod Rugged Case Technology 

Review: Nomad leather AirPod Rugged Case

In my never-ending quest to wrap everything in brown leather, I’m pleased with this AirPod case from Nomad. It’s simple: just a plastic case covered with brown (or black) leather. But I like it.

This will be short.

The Nomad AirPod Rugged Case adds a little character to the sterile AirPod housing. Instead of medical-grade white, the case covers the AirPods in pleasant leather.

The case does two things. One, it makes your AirPod case stand out from the rest, ensuring a friend doesn’t mistake your AirPods for their AirPods. Two, the leather adds nice texture to the case making it a bit easier to grasp.

That’s it. Short. For $29.99, the Nomad AirPod Rugged Case is a lovely upgrade for the AirPods.

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Let’s talk hardware in Vegas Technology 

Let’s talk hardware in Vegas

Hello, Las Vegas! We are all heading to LV for CES next month and instead of spending all our cash on a booth we’ll be wandering the halls and want to meet you as far away from the Convention Center as possible without ending up in the Grand Canyon.

And we need your help.

While I have some ideas, I’d love it if someone could recommend a nice place to host about 150 people with drinks, food, and other goodies. We’ll have beer, exhibitors, and some good times.

If you have any ideas or would like to take part as a sponsor or exhibitor, please drop me a line at john@techcrunch.com. I’m thinking something nice out in Old Las Vegas or somewhere off the strip where we don’t have to push through crowds of people in lanyards. This event will be open to all of you so get your blue suede dancing shoes ready.

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See you in Poland next week Technology 

See you in Poland next week

I’m heading back to Europe to hang out in Wroclaw and Warsaw, Poland. Are you ready?

I’ll be at a Wroclaw event, called In-Ference, which is happening on December 17 and you can submit to pitch here. The team will notify you if you have been chosen. The winner will receive a table at TC Disrupt in San Francisco.

The Warsaw event, here, is on the 19th at WeWork in Warsaw. You can sign up to pitch here. I’ll notify the folks I’ve chosen and the winner gets a table as well.

Special thanks to WeWork Labs in Warsaw for supplying some beer and pizza for the event and, as always, special thanks to Dermot Corr and Ahmad Piraiee for putting these things together. See you soon!

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Review: Amazon Echo Input is the easiest way to stream media to speakers Technology 

Review: Amazon Echo Input is the easiest way to stream media to speakers

This is the Echo I’ve been waiting for.

Throughout my house, I have Amazon Echo Dots connected to stereo systems. In my office, I have a Dot connected to an Onkyo receiver and amp. In my basement, I have one hooked up to a small bookshelf system. Outside on the deck, a Dot serves audio to a small amp that powers outside speakers. There’s more, but the point is made. The Dot is a great device to add voice services to existing speakers. But with its built-in speaker, I’m paying for features I’m not using.

That’s why Amazon made the Echo Input.

The premise is simple: The Input is a Dot without a speaker. It has a mic, two buttons, and most importantly, a 3.5mm output. This output lets the Input serve media to amps and powered speakers — just like I’m doing so with a Dot.

Since the Input doesn’t have a speaker, it’s much smaller. It’s only a half an inch thick. It’s a tiny thing, and I found it does the job as well as a Dot

Plug it in, set it up, and the Input adds voice services to s..

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Audi names interim chief Bram Schot CEO Technology 

Audi names interim chief Bram Schot CEO

Audi has a new CEO. Bram Schot was just named the car company’s chief executive after serving in that role on an interim basis since June. He was appointed to the spot after then-CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested in Germany on charges surrounding the emissions scandal.

The CEO appointment takes effect on January 1, 2019.

Schot was previously on the Board of Management Member for Sales and Marketing for Audi. He joined the Volkswagen Group in 2011 as an overseer of strategic procjects in Group Sales, later taking charge of the Marketing and Sales division of VW Commercial Vehicles.

Schot takes the helm at a pivotal time for Audi. The German automaker is shaking off fallout from its parent company, VW, emission scandal and is looking to the future where electric cars make up a sizable chunk of the industry. The car company is preparing the release of its first EV in 2019, which will quickly be followed up by three more. Competitors are gearing up to do the same, but as it sits right now..

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Starbucks challenger Luckin snags $200M investment on $2.2B valuation Technology 

Starbucks challenger Luckin snags $200M investment on $2.2B valuation

Luckin, a startup that vows to topple Starbucks’ dominance in China, announced on Wednesday that it’s lifted its valuation to $2.2 billion after raising $200 million in a series B funding round.

That came only five months after the coffee upstart, which soft-launched in January, picked up $200 million in investment. Luckin has been on a spending spree to open shop and burnt through $150 million within the first six months in operation, its founder said in July when the company had a cash reserve of 2 billion yuan, or roughly $290 million.

Luckin currently operates across 21 major Chinese cities, totaling more than 1,700 shops. For comparison, Starbucks’s footprint spanned 3,300 stores in China as of May, though one has to take into account that the Seattle coffee chain entered China nearly 20 years ago.

Different from Starbucks, Luckin’s brick-and-mortar facilities are a mix of sit-down cafes and pickup booths, which double as delivery hubs, and take-out kitchens that are solely for..

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Nexthink raises $85M to monitor and improve ’employee experience’ of apps Technology 

Nexthink raises $85M to monitor and improve ’employee experience’ of apps

As companies compete for talent, a startup that has built a platform to help ensure that the talent — once it’s working for you — doesn’t get bogged down by IT frustration, has raised a significant round of funding.

Lausanne, Switzerland-based Nexthink has nailed down $85 million in funding led by Index Ventures (which has a base in Geneva), with participation also from Highland Europe, Forestay Capital, Galéo Capital and TOP Funds and Olivier Pomel (co-founder and CEO of Datadog).

Nexthink’s CEO Pedro Bados said in an interview that the company will be using this round to expand its business globally and specifically in the US.

It will be doing this from a healthy base. The company already has 900 enterprise customers, covering no less than 7 million endpoints, using its platform to improve employees’ interaction and satisfaction with the IT tools that they are required to use for work. Customers include Adobe, Advocate Healthcare, BlackRock, Commerzbank, Safran, Sega HARDlight, Ti..

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Multilingual Indian video app Roposo raises $10M from Tiger Global and Bertelsmann Technology 

Multilingual Indian video app Roposo raises $10M from Tiger Global and Bertelsmann

India has 22 official languages, which often presents a challenge for businesses that want to scale across the entire country. Video-sharing app Roposo, however, uses that to its advantage by offering content in several different regional languages. Based in Gurgaon, Roposo announced today that it has raised a $10 million Series C from returning investors Tiger Global and Bertelsmann, bring its total funding so far to $31 million. Roposo will use new funding for hiring, product development, and user acquisition.

Tiger Global first invested in Roposo’s Series A round and also returned for its Series B, according to Crunchbase. After an Indian startup funding spree, Tiger Global hit pause on new investments there for a couple of years before reportedly closing a $3.75 billion fund this year to focus on India, the U.S., and China. Roposo’s funding news comes a week after facility management company Facilio, another Indian startup, announced that it also received funding from Tiger Global..

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China’s Tencent Music raises $1.1 billion in downsized US IPO Technology 

China’s Tencent Music raises $1.1 billion in downsized US IPO

Tencent Music, China’s largest streaming company, has raised $1.1 billion in a U.S. IPO after it priced its shares at $13 a piece ahead of a listing on the Nasdaq.

That makes it one of the largest tech listings of the year, but the pricing is at the bottom end of its $13-$15 range indicating that the much-anticipated IPO has felt the effects of an uncertain market. Indeed, the company is said to have paused the listing process, which it started in early October, for a time so choppy are the waters right now — and that’s not even mentioning a shareholder-led lawsuit that was filed last week.

Still, this listing gives TME — Tencent Music Entertainment, a spin-out of Tencent — an impressive $21.3 billion valuation which is just below the $30 billion that Spotify commanded when it went public earlier this year via an unconventional direct listing. TME was valued at $12 billion at the time of Spotify’s listing in Q1 of this year so this is also a big jump. (Meanwhile, Spotify’s present ma..

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