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IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help businesses in countries with weak banking systems

IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help farmers and other small businesses in underdeveloped countries participate in global trade.  IBM announced the project on Monday, in partnership with fintech startups Stellar.org and KlickEx Group. The companies will use IBM’s blockchain technology to process financial transactions across borders and currencies — a process which is often prohibitively slow and costly for small business owners, especially when they are in developing regions with smaller banking infrastructures. The project is focused on what Stellar calls “underdeveloped payment corridors” — countries like Samoa and Fiji,…

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Founder of $110 million startup CrowdFlower: I’m forever grateful to Travis Kalanick

If you’ve bought something on eBay, searched a home improvement store’s website, listened to music on Spotify, or watched a video on YouTube, you’ve come in contact with CrowdFlower. “People don’t realize it, but you touch CrowdFlower every day,” says founder and chief data scientist Lukas Biewald with more than a little pride. Today CrowdFlower employs more than 100 people, has “tens of thousands of users and thousands of customers,” including Autodesk, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Cisco, Github, Mozilla, VMware and others. CrowdFlower has raised $58 million and is valued at $110 million by…

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THE INSURTECH REPORT: How financial technology firms are helping — and disrupting — the nearly $5 trillion insurance industry

The global insurance industry is worth nearly $5 trillion, and insurance companies are at risk of losing a share of this valuable market to new entrants. That’s because these legacy players have been even slower to modernize than their counterparts in other financial services industries.  This has created an opportunity for a group of firms known as insurtechs. These startups are leveraging new technology and a better understanding of consumer expectations to increase efficiencies in the insurance industry. Some are helping incumbents deliver better end products, while others are directly competing with legacy…

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While Amazon and Microsoft battle in the cloud wars, this startup quietly built a $175 million business by picking up their slack (AMZN, MSFT, GOOG, GOOGL)

DigitalOcean is a cloud computing startup based in New York, competing with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure by focusing on smaller developers and startups. The company exclusively reveals to BI that it’s on a $175 million annualized run rate (ARR) for 2017. An IPO isn’t necessarily in the cards, but the company says it’s well-positioned should it choose to do so. There’s a war raging in the cloud as the leader, Amazon Web Services, defends its $16 billion business from the rise of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The battleground:…

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This addictive free paperclip game is also a terrifying lesson in how artificial intelligence will make us unnecessary

I haven’t gotten anything done since lunchtime today because of “Paperclips,” a silly free game you can play right in your browser. “Paperclips” casts you as the overlord behind a paperclips business. It starts as a weirdly compelling time-waster — but it’s not long before the subtle, postmodern horror of the whole thing sets in.  At first, it’s all very hands-on. Every time you click the button, you make a paperclip. Your goal is to make paperclips as fast as you can, and price them at a level so that demand doesn’t wildly outstrip…

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Finance News 

How to generate 20 potential business ideas in 10 minutes

If you’re looking for a business idea, here’s some reassuring advice: It doesn’t have to be revolutionary. You don’t have to think up the next Amazon or Paypal or LinkedIn. In fact, the best place to start is with the things you already know. That’s according to GrowthLab and I Will Teach You to Be Rich CEO Ramit Sethi. “I know it’s difficult to imagine that you might have profitable skills already — but you do,” he writes on his site. In his words, here are the four questions you’ll…

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Microsoft is holding a $3.5 million competition to find the next great garage startup — ‘like American Idol’ (MSFT)

Microsoft, suffice it to say, is a very big company. But even with its vast resources, it can’t go out and talk to every developer working on the next big thing. “There are many great companies pushing the boundary of [artificial intelligence] that we can’t reach, even with our efforts,” Microsoft Ventures head Nagraj Kashyap tells Business Insider. That brings us to today, as Microsoft announces Innovate.AI, a global contest to find the small startup with the biggest idea for how artificial intelligence can solve a real problem. In total, this…

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