Technology Now The business and culture of our digital lives
Cash pours into start-ups, but investors are turning cautious

Vadim Tarasov is getting pickier.

The managing director of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Altpoint Ventures, Tasarov has begun rejecting start-up deals he would have jumped on earlier. Prices are just too high.

"Everything has stepped up," he said. "You need to pick your battles much more carefully."

The total amount of cash pouring into start-up companies continues to rise as later-stage start-ups remain popular with investors. But smaller early stage start-ups are finding fewer investors ready to pay the high prices they're asking for company shares. If that trend continues, it could indicate that the current cycle of venture capital funding has hit a peak.

It's "way more tough to invest in good companies," Tarasov said.

Investors and start-up founders dicker on deal terms, like any buyers and sellers who try to arrive at a price. Entrepreneurs want top dollar while surrendering as few shares as possible in their young companies; venture capitalists and other financiers, naturally,...

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'Lip Sync Battle' clips to appear on Samsung's Milk VR app

One of television’s biggest surprise hits, Spike TV’s “Lip Sync Battle,” is getting the virtual reality treatment, giving the burgeoning technology a needed shot of name brand entertainment to expand its user base.

Clips taken from 10 episodes of the star-studded show will debut exclusively on Samsung’s Milk VR app, a quickly growing database of virtual reality content built for Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

Since it premiered this month, “Lip Sync Battle” has become a viral sensation. The game show, hosted by LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen, pits celebrities against each other in a karaoke-style battle before a live studio audience. Theatrics are part of the gamesmanship.

British comedian Stephen Merchant performed a memorable version of Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” by sashaying out of a cage flanked by dancers and wearing leather chaps.

Actress Anne Hathaway swung on a wrecking ball in an elaborate rendition of the Miley Cyrus hit “Wrecking Ball” that has garnered millions of views on YouTube.


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Google employee killed in avalanche was 'adventure activist,' friends say

Dan Fredinburg's friends described him as superhuman. Standing 6-foot-4, the athletic adventurer scaled mountains, swam with sharks and, after conquering Mt. Everest, had plans to kite surf across Antarctica.

At Google, where he was an executive on the tech giant’s privacy team, the 33-year-old was a high achiever who, according to his best friend Dr. Mike North, was “screaming to the top.”

When news broke that he was among at least 17 people killed in Nepal after an avalanche devastated the region on Saturday, few could believe it.

“Everyone’s reaction was, ‘No, not Dan,'” said North, who was among the first to learn of the incident and also co-founded with Fredinburg Save The Ice, an “adventure activism” organization that aims to raise awareness of climate change through expeditions. “There was nothing that could stop this man.”

Fredinburg had been climbing Mt. Everest with a team that included fellow Google employees Michele Battelli and Flo Nagl. The climbing team was close-knit, according...

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Apple defies tech trends, posts record 2nd quarter

Apple Inc.'s message to shareholders: We're “bucking the tide.”

In the U.S., in China and across the world, the world's most valuable public company is outpacing peers. Apple generated $13.6 billion in profit during the first three months of the year, its best corporate second quarter ever, the company announced Monday. That was a 33% jump from $10.2 billion in the same period last year.

Strong demand for the iPhone 6 and its much larger screen than its predecessors drove the big gain, especially in China, where Lunar New Year's celebrations produced a burst of gift-giving and a 70% year-over-year jump in iPhone sales.

“The China numbers were probably the most important numbers we saw in the overall results,” said Angelo Zino, a stock analyst at S&P Capital IQ. “Consumers in China love the larger phones.”

Apple sold about 192,000 more iPhones each day from January through March of this year compared with a year earlier, resulting in $40.3 billion in revenue.

The 61.2 million iPhones sold was...

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Snapchat hires CNN political reporter Peter Hamby for news operation

CNN national political reporter Peter Hamby is joining Snapchat Inc. as head of news.

Hamby, who joined CNN nearly a decade ago, becomes the most notable hire for Snapchat’s months-old media-partnerships operation. The Venice start-up’s app introduced a section in January for its mostly young users to get a pinch of news from sources such as CNN, National Geographic and People. It added to Snapchat’s core functionality: Sharing photos and videos to friends or even to all users. The fast-rising company has already brought in executives and advisers who were once at Amazon, Google, Credit Suisse and Apple.

CNN described Hamby as an early adopter of social media. On a fellowship at Harvard University two years ago, Hamby wrote a paper — “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus” — on the role the social media service played in the 2012 presidential election. He’ll remain a contributor to CNN Digital on contract through 2016.

“CNN is proud to be one of the first news organizations to partner with...

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Discover cards to support Apple Pay

Apple Pay now supports all four major credit and debit card issuers.

Discover Financial Services, the last holdout, announced Monday that it had reached an agreement with Apple allowing its U.S. cardholders to make purchases by passing their iPhone or Apple Watch by a payment terminal.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express already support Apple Pay, which the technology giant touts is a more secure way to pay than traditional card-swiping. Apple doesn’t store any card data; instead a unique code is held on the iPhone or other device and a separate one-time code is shared with the store during checkout.

Security is the No. 1 feature on people’s minds when considering using some new form of payments, according to a survey released last week by 451 Research. And more people are starting to buy into the idea of using their smartphones as a payment mechanism. In a notable increase from last year, about 24% of those surveyed said they believe mobile payments are more secure than traditional...

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