Facebook reportedly hasn’t contacted the regulator it says will oversee Libra’s privacy and data security

A Swiss regulatory agency that Facebook executive David Marcus said in Congressional testimony would be responsible for overseeing data and privacy protections for the company’s newly launched cryptocurrency, Libra, has not been contacted by Facebook, according to a report.

CNBC is reporting that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, who Marcus said would oversee data protections for its cryptocurrency in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, has yet to hear from the company which is depending on it for oversight.

In a statement provided to CNBC, Hugo Wyler, who’s the head of communication at the FDPIC said:

“We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra… We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate.”

Facebook’s attempted end-run around national monetary policy already has been criticized by lawmakers in the U.S. and around the world.

“With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users… Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congres and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, in a statement on the day Facebook announced its cryptocurrency.

Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, also had harsh words for Facebook and its planned cryptocurrency. “Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability,” Powell said last week.

Even Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, normally a proponent of laissez faire approaches to private enterprise, voiced concerns about Libra that seemed to echo Powell’s.

“Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin said in a press conference yesterday.

 

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Minecraft Earth starts rolling out in beta in Seattle and London

If you’ve been waiting to check out Minecraft Earth (Mojang’s Pokemon GO-style augmented reality reimagining of its hugely popular game Minecraft) good news: it’s starting to roll out to some people now.

The catch? It’s only available to a slice-of-a-slice of the world, at first.

After opening up a registration system for its closed beta just a few days ago, the company says that it sent out the first batch of beta invites this afternoon.

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The beta is being rolled out on a region-by-region basis, with randomly picked players in Seattle and London getting access at first. Mojang says more cities should go live in “the next few days,” but doesn’t get any more specific than that.

It’s also worth noting that the beta is iOS only for now; Android support is on the way, but it won’t land until later this summer.

Our own Devin Coldewey went hands on with an early build of Minecraft Earth a few months ago – check out his first impressions here.

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Peter Thiel says Elizabeth Warren is ‘dangerous,’ Warren responds: ‘Good’

Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem too unhappy about being labeled “dangerous” by investor Peter Thiel .

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, Palantir and Founders Fund, made the comments in an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, where he described most of the Democratic presidential field as “equally unimpressive” and called Warren “the dangerous one.”

“I’m most scared by Elizabeth Warren,” he said. “I think she’s the one who’s actually talking about the economy, which is the only thing — the thing that I think matters by far the most.”

Warren tweeted a link to a Bloomberg story about Thiel’s remarks with a succinct response of her own: “Good.”

Thiel is a high-profile backer of libertarian causes and a Trump supporter — a fact that’s made him a controversial figure in Silicon Valley — so it’s hard to imagine that many Democratic primary voters will be following his recommendations. Indeed, to some, Thiel’s criticism could be seen as an endorsement.

During the same interview, Thiel — who sits on Facebook’s board — repeated points made in an earlier speech where he accused Google of “seemingly treasonous” conduct and said the government should investigate the search giant’s ties with China. (China being the main target in Trump’s trade war.)

Warren, who’s been gaining in some recent polls, has some thoughts on tech policy as well, having called for the breakup of Google, Amazon and Facebook and also proposed an equity fund for underrepresented entrepreneurs.

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Toyota sign 3-year deal to develop a fuel cell Moon rover

Toyota will work with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on a fuel cell Moon rover vehicle, with a target launch date of a Moon mission currently set for 2029. The two previously announced their collaboration, but on Tuesday they signed a formal agreement which defines a three-year joint research agreement to co-develop pressurized lunar rover prototypes.

Each year will see the partnership focus on a different phase of the prototype’s development, with 2019 all about identifying technical requirements and drawing up spec docs; next year, the goal will be to build test parts and then actually putting together a rover prototype; finally, in fiscal 2021, the partners will test both the rover parts and rover prototype in order to evaluate the results for potential full production.

The pressurized rover will be able to transport astronauts over 10,000 km using its onboard fuel cells and solar recharging mechanism, according to a press release detailing the concept from March, prior to today’s development partnership agreement. It would have a total seating capacity of two people, with the option to carry as many as four if there’s an emergency need to do so.

It’s about the size of two microbuses, according to Toyota, which means about 20 feet long, by 17 feet wide and 12.5 feet tall. The six-wheeled concept also features deployable solar panels for recharging, ample communications equipment and a front winch for getting itself out of jams another potential applications.

JAXA intends to launch a series of lunar missions, including 2007’s Selene (or ‘Kayuga’), which sent an orbiter and a pair of communication satellites to lunar orbit. Ultimately, JAXA’s goal is to host a series of uncrewed and human missions under a broader Lunar Exploration Program with the ultimate aim of establishing a presence for Japanese astronauts in a combined international lunar outpost program.

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What seed-stage dilution tells us about changing investor expectations

Round sizes are up. Valuations are up. There are more investors than ever hunting unicorns around the globe. But for all the talk about the abundance of venture funding, there is a lot less being said about what it all means for entrepreneurs raising their early funding rounds.

Take for instance Seed-stage dilution. Since 2014, enterprise-focused tech companies have given up significantly more ownership during Seed rounds. What gives?

Scale is an investor in early-in-revenue enterprise technology companies, so we wanted to better understand how this trend in Seed-stage dilution impacts companies raising Series A and Series B rounds.

Using our Scale Studio dataset of performance metrics on nearly 800 cloud and SaaS companies as well as Pitchbook fundraising records covering B2B software startups, we started connecting the dots between trends in valuations, round sizes, and winner-take-all markets.

Bottom line for founders: Don’t let all the capital in venture mislead you. There’s an important connection between higher Seed-stage dilution and increased investor expectations during Series A and Series B rounds.

These days, successful startups are growing up faster than ever.

Founders face an important trade-off decision

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