Technology Now The business and culture of our digital lives
Selfie app Shots raises $8.5 million in funding, adds video feature

The selfie has become big business. 

The photo sharing app Shots recently raised $8.5 million in funding from numerous backers, including Major League Baseball, said John Shahidi, the company's chief executive.

Additional investors in the San Francisco-based company -- founded by Shahidi and his brother Sam -- are WI Harper Group, Launch Fund, Upfront Ventures, Manven Ventures and software guru Dennis Phelps, Shahidi said. 

"Each investor believes in our vision of a positive community. The lead investor is WI Harper, who is also helping us build Shots in Asia," Shahidi said in an email.

The app is just over a year old but already has 5 million users, including investors Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Justin Bieber. More than half the users are on the app daily, Shahidi said.

"This is a huge milestone for us since we’ve yet to spend any money on marketing Shots," Shahidi said. "The user and engagement growth has all been built by the community that we’re proud of."

Mayweather announced the much-anticipated...

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Starbucks fixes nationwide register glitch
L.A. prosecutors to use Nextdoor app to strengthen ties with residents

Los Angeles city prosecutors will use a highly valued social media app to post about their efforts to combat polluters, school violence and illegal medical dispensaries and to field grievances.

But it's not Snapchat or Facebook that they'll be using. Instead, City Atty. Mike Feuer announced Friday that his crew of 22 neighborhood prosecutors would become regulars on Nextdoor, a social networking app that last month announced that it had raised $110 million in funding.

The transaction valued the 5-year-old San Francisco start-up at $1.1 billion, according to a source familiar with the matter, putting it in a select class of young companies.

Nextdoor serves as a private online discussion forum for people living in a community-defined neighborhood. There are more than 860 of them in Los Angeles. Addresses of users are verified through snail mail, Social Security records or other means.

People post about crime, garage sales or cool new shops while 770 government agencies in 575 cities also...

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Sondors E-Bike, a big crowdfunded project, tangled in legal wrangling

The second-most successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in history is headed to court.

Entrepreneur Storm Sondors and his Sondors E-Bike have been sued by Agency 2.0, the PR firm that mounted the crowdfunding campaign.

The effort began with the aim of gaining investment in an affordable electric bicycle and raising $75,000. When the campaign ended, Sondors and Agency 2.0 had raised almost $5.5 million -- largely by peddling pre-sales of the E-Bike.

But Agency 2.0 has filed a Los Angeles Superior Court complaint alleging fraud, breach of contract, misrepresentation and more. Its chief operating officer said the agency hasn't received any of its share of the money raised.

"Storm knows what he owes us, but he refuses to pay," said Agency 2.0 COO Jonathan Chaupin.

The suit alleges that Sondors and his e-bike company wrote bad checks totaling $160,000, and failed to share any of the $524,000 Agency 2.0 claims it is due.

Agency 2.0, in the complaint, is asking to be paid "no less than $444,713.000...

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Can't wait for Apple Watch? The time is now, but only at Melrose boutique

If you had to have an Apple Watch on Friday, a West Hollywood boutique was the only place in the U.S. to get one.

About 150 Apple Watch early adopters lined up overnight to be first in the door at Maxfield on trendy Melrose Avenue. Second in line was Brandon Robinson, 31, who said he arrived at the store at 8 a.m. Thursday. Twenty-five hours later, he emerged with a small black bag containing his stainless steel smartwatch.

“I'm definitely excited,” he said as he showed off his $699 purchase. “It's worth it.”

New iPhones draw hordes of customers to Apple's stores on the first day they go on sale, but the company has positioned its first smartwatch as a fashion item rather than just a cool gadget that makes life a bit easier.

In keeping with the approach, Apple provided the watch to just five high-end boutiques around the world for sale on Friday. Maxfield was joined by stores in Tokyo, London, Paris and Berlin.

“This technology, you really want it first,” said J.R. Oliney, 36, who sat...

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Apple Watch buyers start to line up at West Hollywood store Maxfield

Want to walk away with an Apple Watch from a store on Friday? Better get moving.

More than a dozen people had begun lining up Thursday afternoon to buy the new gadget from a high-end fashion boutique in West Hollywood, which is one of only a handful of retailers worldwide set to have it available for sale. 

A manager at Maxfield, located on Melrose Avenue, confirmed that the store would begin selling the Apple Watch at 9 a.m. Friday on a first-come, first-served basis. Crowds had begun to gather at least 15 hours before. One man said on Twitter that he had been there since about noon Thursday. He brought along a fold-up chair. The store manager declined to say whether any extra security measures were being put in place.

Maxfield, along with boutiques in Paris, London, Tokyo and Berlin, is one of the few places where customers can walk out with a watch on Friday. The websites for the boutiques, which include Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, the Corner in Berlin and Colette in Paris,...

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