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Insight launches a customizable iOS browser with support for extensions

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A new startup called Insight is bringing web browser extensions to the iPhone, with the goal of delivering a better web browsing experience by blocking ads and trackers, flagging fake reviews on Amazon, offering SEO-free search experiences, or even calling out media bias and misinformation, among other things.

These features are made available by way of Insight’s extensions, some of which are suggested during the app’s first launch. Others, meanwhile, can be browsed inside the app, where they’re organized into categories like Search, Shopping, Cooking & Dining, News, Health, and Reading. The browser can also make suggestions of extensions to try, based on your browsing behavior, if you opt into that experience.

One extension, for example, can block ads on Google, Amazon and in your social media feeds, like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Another works with ReviewMeta to detect fake reviews on Amazon.com and lets you set price alerts with help from CamelCamelCamel’s price tracker. Others let you do things like enable dark mode experiences on sites that don’t offer the feature, check for bias in news via Media Bias Fact Check, or watch videos in picture-in-picture mode on YouTube and other video sites.

Image Credits: Insight

In total, the company has around one hundred extensions already created, but it offers tools that allow anyone — even non-developers — to create their own, too.

Using a simple interface similar to something like the iOS Shortcuts app, users can define the conditions for their extension using basic “if, then” logic. For example, “if I’m is on a page that matches this URL” or “is on this list of domains,” “then also show this other page.”

To make these sorts of features work on mobile took some creativity. Apple restricts what developers are able to do with WKWebView — which means a mobile browser can’t offer the same sort of extensions as you can find on the desktop web.

To work around this problem, Insight created a sort of “sub-tab” workflow where you navigate using swiping gestures. For example, when online shopping, you could view the product you’re interested in, then swipe over to see the available coupons, the trusted product reviews, or to comparison shop across other sites.

When looking for a recipe, you could limit searches to only a list of your favorite food blogs. And because you can use extensions together, you could also block the ads on the food blogs and then swipe over to view the site in a “reader mode.”

Image Credits: Insight

How this all works is up to you. It’s dependent on what extensions you have installed and enabled, and how they’re configured.

The idea for Insight actually arose from an earlier effort from a startup focused on building a custom search engine for doctors. The team had participated in Y Combinator’s winter 2019 session, where they developed a search engine that would filter out the junk medical content and other pages aimed at consumers from the web, in order to direct doctors to sources they could trust.

But things changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“A lot of the users we had been working with, up to that point, were medical students. And when the pandemic came to the U.S., medical students and medical schools were shut down and a lot of the students were sent home,” explains Insight co-founder and CEO Archa Jain. “Our user base disappeared overnight,” she said.

The team decided to refocus their efforts on another idea they had been tossing around internally for some time.

“We realized that the problem we were solving isn’t medicine-specific. The fundamental problem was that the internet is just not one-size-fits-all. So we thought, what if everyone could have this lability to customize their browser experience the way we’re doing for this one population? They could really mould their browser their own needs,” Jain said.

That’s how Insight came to life.

Insight was built by a small team, including Jain, whose engineering background includes time at Google, Uber and Calico, and fellow co-founders Abhinav Sharma, previously of Quora, Mozilla Labs, and Facebook, and Shubhi Nigam, previously a PM at Newgen Software.

The company is backed by a seed round of $1.5 million from Y Combinator, Heartcore Capital and Altair Capital.

Longer-term, Insight intends to layer on a pro version of the service on top of the existing offering available today. It also aims to bring the browser to the desktop, where it will work as an extension itself.

Since launching into beta testing in December 2020, the app’s top 10% most active users have been averaging over 1,000 pageviews on Insight per day, which indicates some loyal customers have perhaps shifted to using the app as their preferred mobile browser. Pre-launch, the app had also become the No. 1 most popular download for a time on Airport, an app store for beta products.

Insight is available today as a free download on the App Store.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Donald Trump is one of 15,000 Gab users whose account just got hacked

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Promotional image for social media site Gab says

Enlarge (credit: Gab.com)

The founder of the far-right social media platform Gab said that the private account of former President Donald Trump was among the data stolen and publicly released by hackers who recently breached the site.

In a statement on Sunday, founder Andrew Torba used a transphobic slur to refer to Emma Best, the co-founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets. The statement confirmed claims the WikiLeaks-style group made on Monday that it obtained 70GB of passwords, private posts, and more from Gab and was making them available to select researchers and journalists. The data, Best said, was provided by an unidentified hacker who breached Gab by exploiting a SQL-injection vulnerability in its code.

“My account and Trump’s account were compromised, of course as Trump is about to go on stage and speak,” Torba wrote on Sunday as Trump was about to speak at the CPAC conference in Florida. “The entire company is all hands investigating what happened and working to trace and patch the problem.”

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Kaltura files to go public on the back of accelerating revenue growth, rising losses

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Kaltura, a software company focused on providing video technology to other concerns, has filed to go public.

The Kaltura S-1 filing only partially surprised. TechCrunch previously covered the company as part of our ongoing $100 million ARR series focusing on private companies that have reached material scale. (TechCrunch has also covered its product life to a moderate degree.)

The company’s IPO documentation details a business that did more than merely accelerate its growth in 2020, and more specifically, during the COVID-19 era. Seeing a company that powers video tooling do well when much of the world has transitioned to remote work and education is not a bolt from the blue. What is notable, however, is that the company’s revenue growth has accelerated yearly since at least 2018 and its final quarter of 2020 placed the company at a new growth rate maximum.

Public investors, hungry for growth, may find such a progression compelling.

Kaltura also has an interesting profitability profile: As its GAAP net losses scaled in the last year, its adjusted profitability improved. Depending on your stance regarding adjusted metrics, Kaltura’s bottom line will either irk or delight you.

This afternoon, let’s rip into the company’s S-1 and yank out what we need to know. It is IPO season, with SPACs galore and other private companies taking more traditional routes to the public markets, including Coupang announcing a price range for its traditional debut today and Coinbase’s impending direct listing.

For now we’ll focus on Kaltura. Let’s get into it.

Inside Kaltura’s IPO filing

When TechCrunch last covered Kaltura’s financial results, we noted that the company founded in 2006 had raised just north of $166 million, crossed the $100 million ARR mark, and was, per its own reporting, “profitable on an EBITDA.” Kaltura also told TechCrunch that it had margins in the 60% range and was growing at around 25% year over year. That was just over a year ago.

Do those figures hold up? In the Q1 2020 period Kaltura recorded $25.9 million in revenue, software margins of around 78% and blended gross margins of 59.8%. And the company had grown 16.6% from the year-ago quarter. In Kaltura’s defense, the company’s growth accelerated to 24% in the year, so its self-reported numbers were mostly fair. Better than, I think, most numbers we get from private companies.

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Square’s bank arm launches as fintech aims ‘to operate more nimbly’

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Known for its innovations in the payments sector, Square is now officially a bank.

Nearly one year after receiving conditional approval, Square said Monday afternoon that its industrial bank, Square Financial Services, has begun operationsSquare Financial Services completed the charter approval process with the FDIC and Utah Department of Financial Institutions, meaning its ready for business.

The bank, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, will offer business loan and deposit products, starting with underwriting, and originating business loans for Square Capital’s existing lending product.

Historically, Square has been known for its card reader and point-of-sale payment system, used largely by small businesses – but it has also begun facilitating credit for the entrepreneurs and smalls businesses who use its products in recent years.

Moving forward, Square said its bank will be the “primary provider of financing for Square sellers across the U.S.”

In a statement, Square CFO and executive chairman for Square Financial Services, Amrita Ahuja said that bringing banking capability in house will allow the fintech to “operate more nimbly.”

Square Financial Services will continue to sell loans to third-party investors and limit balance sheet exposure. The company said it does not expect the bank to have a material impact on its consolidated balance sheet, total net revenue, gross profit, or adjusted EBITDA in 2021.

Opening the bank “deepens Square’s unique ability to expand access to loans and banking tools to underserved populations,” the company said.

Lewis Goodwin had been tapped to serve as the bank’s CEO, and Brandon Soto its CFO. With today’s announcement, Square also announced the following new appointments:

  • Sharad Bhasker, Chief Risk Officer
  • Samantha Ku, Chief Operating Officer
  • Homam Maalouf, Chief Credit Officer
  • David Grodsky, Chief Compliance Officer
  • Jessica Jiang, Capital Markets and Investor Relations Lead

The trend of fintechs becoming bank continues. In February, TechCrunch reported on the fact that Brex had applied for a bank charter.

The fast-growing company, which sells a credit card tailored for startups with Emigrant Bank currently acting as the issuer, said that it had submitted an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions (UDFI) to establish Brex Bank.

A number of fintech companies, or those with fintech services, have spun up products typically offered by banks, including deposit and chequings accounts as well as credit offerings. Often, these are designed to provide capital to customers who might not be able to get funding on favorable terms from traditional banking institutions, but who might qualify for business-building loans from a provider who knows their company, like Square, inside and out.

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