Double Robotics (YC S12) takes preorders for Charging Dock—now telepresence robots can charge themselves

From the Double Robotics Blog:

Double Robotics, Inc. today announced at the 2014 International CES that the charging dock accessory for the Double telepresence robot is now available for pre-order through www.doublerobotics.com

“The charging dock has been the most requested accessory for Double,” said David Cann, CEO and Co-founder of Double Robotics, Inc.  “We’re excited to provide our customers with an accessory that makes it even easier to connect remotely.  Our ambitious engineers designed Double to be future-compatible with the charging dock, so that even our earliest customers can take advantage of this powerful upgrade.  The dock is designed around a single beautifully sculpted block of aluminum, so customers can proudly park their Double in the office.”

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A new iPad mount that supports iPad charging will be standard on all new units and included with a dock purchase free for customers with legacy iPad mounts.  The docking station is sold for $299 and will begin shipping in February 2014.

Zidisha (YC W14) Launches A Kickstarter-Style Micro-Lending Platform For Low-Income Entrepreneurs In Developing Countries

When it comes to lending and borrowing money, banks have long been at the center of the equation. However, with the proliferation of new information technologies, mobile devices and the good old Web, new methods of borrowing and lending have emerged that are slowly toppling the bank-centric model. The best and most promising example is peer-to-peer lending, which leverages technology to directly match those who need money with those who have money to invest, while cutting out the middle man.

By enabling the efficient flow of capital across international boundaries and wealth divisions, and by allowing lenders to connect with and send money directly to borrowers, peer-to-peer micro-lending has the ability to have an enormous impact — on a global scale. However, while a handful of organizations and institutions have attempted it, direct P2P lending across international wealth divides has never been done before at scale, says Julia Kurnia.

So Kurnia decided to change that. In 2009, she founded Zidisha, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing direct, P2P lending to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries. Without much of a roadmap to follow, Zidisha has spent the intervening years plotting its course, slowing developing a micro-finance model that could work at scale — through good old-fashioned trial and error.

If the Immunity Project (YC W14) crowdfunds this synthetic AIDS vaccine, they'll offer it free to everyone

What happens when you combine Microsoft e-Science machine learning, Harvard thinking, and a new medical device to tackle HIV-AIDS? The Immunity Project, a not-for-profit company developing the first ever synthetic HIV vaccine.

The Immunity project’s work is based on the discovery that there are people born with a natural immunity to HIV. After identifying these "HIV controllers" in the population, the team applied machine learning to reverse-engineer the biological processes HIV controllers use to defeat the virus, mimicking natural immunity.

They’ve developed a vaccine prototype and completed preliminary laboratory testing. And today, they went live with a crowdfunding campaign to support a demonstration aimed to prove the vaccine can successfully immunize human blood. It's the last step before they begin Phase 1 human clinical trials with the FDA. Their goal is to give the vaccine away to the world, for free.

Payments Startup Stripe (YC S09) Joins the Billion Dollar Club

In the crowded field of online payments, venture capitalists are betting Stripe Inc. is a standout worth more than a billion dollars.

The payments startup has raised about $80 million in new funding this week from venture-capital investors including Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Founders Fund, said brothers John and Patrick Collison, the company's co-founders, in an interview. Stripe, at just over four years old, is now valued at $1.75 billion.

Zenefits (YC W13) raises $15M Series A from Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick, and Venrock

The thought of managing HR, benefits and payroll is enough to make most entrepreneurs grimace. However, time consuming and frustrating as it may be, it’s a part of the job description and something every startup and small business has to address sooner or later.

Having dealt with the paperwork and administrative headaches at startups before, Parker Conrad and Laks Srini launched Zenefits last year to take the pain of HR management out of the hands of founders and move it to the cloud. Beginning with a service that sought to automate the process of setting up and managing group health coverage and payroll, Zenefits enabled small businesses to transfer administration online, for free, and removed the need to dip into hiring budgets to hire a dedicated HR person.

However, the team quickly found that the opportunity extended beyond health coverage and payroll, as many of its early customers used Zenefits not just for its initial functionality, but as a full-on replacement for traditional HRIS or Human Resources Information Systems. As Zenefits looks to expand its coverage and help startups and larger businesses manage all HR-affiliated tasks, the company is taking on $15 million in Series A financing from Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick and Venrock to go after larger, enterprise customers and to begin tackling international markets.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

Apptimize (YC S13) raises $2.1M for Mobile A/B testing, launches a tool for non-developers

Y Combinator-incubated Apptimize is launching a new “Visual Apptimizer” that’s aimed at making A/B testing for mobile apps faster and easier — in fact, co-founder and CEO Nancy Hua suggested that it should make this kind of testing accessible to non-developers.

The company is also announcing that it has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from a number of big-name investors.

Apptimize launched last summer, pitching itself as an A/B testing platform (i.e., a system for testing out user response to variations of different features) that’s tailored to mobile. By inserting a small snippet of code, developers should be able to include multiple experiments in an app update that can be enabled and disabled at will.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

AeroFS (YC S10) releases iOS app for private clouds

In Ars Technica:

It has been a while since we last checked in with AeroFS, but the company has been busy. For those of you who don't remember, AeroFS bills itself as a Dropbox-equivalent for the privacy-minded—it allows you to sync files between multiple computers, using the AeroFS servers for authentication only. All of your data stays on your computers and is encrypted in transit, eliminating the risk that a hacked server (or an inadequate privacy policy) will compromise your control over your data.

Since exiting beta last April, the company has launched a new business-focused product called the Private Cloud. Like the Hybrid Cloud, it lets your users share data between multiple systems without ever touching a central server, but it allows you to use private servers and directory systems for authentication, keeping the entire system behind your firewall and never touching AeroFS' servers. Today, the company is announcing an iOS app for Private Cloud users, the first step toward addressing a longstanding criticism of the service—that it just isn't available in all of the places that public cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive are.

MemSQL (YC W11) raises $35M to future-proof your company’s database

In this big-data era, the database business is hot. Companies have been willing to try out new technologies to store and analyze large data sets. Such conditions have helped companies as small as RethinkDB and as large as MongoDB pull in funding in the past year.

Companies that seek high performance but don’t want to learn a whole new query language to use a newfangled database could turn to MemSQL, among others. The company targets real-time analytics. That could mean, for example, identifying the right ads to display to consumers based on the things they click on.

The technology appears to be hitting its stride, as MemSQL today announced $35 million in new funding, with Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures signing on beside previous investors Data Collective and First Round Capital.

Docker (YC S10) raises $15M Series B from Greylock Partners, IVP, Benchmark, Trinity for cloud containers

The shift to scale out architectures and an app-centric culture has turned out well for Docker and its lightweight open-source “container” technology designed for developers to quickly move code to the cloud.

That’s evident in today’s news that the company has raised $15 million in a Series B round led by Greylock Partners, with minority participation from Insight Venture Partners and existing investors Benchmark Capital and Trinity Ventures. Also participating is Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang, who has participated in previous rounds.

Docker will use the funding to push toward the general availability of the Docker environment, develop commercial services that pair with the open-source technology and build a team to support the growing community.

Read more in TechCrunch

Apportable (YC W11) launches SpriteBuilder—game dev tool suite that lets you write for iOS, launch on Android too

Apportable is launching a new game development tool suite today that enables developers to take iOS games and apps and get them to run on Android mobile devices.

The SpriteBuilder 1.0 suite is billed as the first Objective-C cross-platform development suite. Objective-C is a programming language that Apple uses for its OS X and iOS operating systems. SpriteBuilder compiles code in Objective-C so that it runs on Android devices.

San Francisco-based Apportable says that developers who adopted SpriteBuilder will be able to rapidly build iOS and Android games with Objective-C and Xcode, an integrated development environment for Apple-related code. Apportable claims that SpriteBuilder is the only game development suite that enables a developer to run Objective-C code as a native application on Android. That means it runs faster and more efficiently than apps that are written with other cross-platform game tools.

SpriteBuilder is available now as a free download in the Mac App Store.

Read the full article on VentureBeat