Tag Archives: recent funding

AllTrails gets $75M to keep hikers happy

The app for hiking enthusiasts just secured a big round of capital that will help it map more trails worldwide. AllTrails  has raised $75 million, led by Spectrum Equity, which has taken a majority stake in the company in the process. Founded in 2010, AllTrails raised a small amount of capital years ago from investors, including 2020 Ventures and 500 Startups. It was also part of  AngelPad’s inaugural  accelerator class. This is its first sizeable round of equity financing. AllTrails provides what it calls an “outdoors platform” that includes crowdsourced reviews of trails from its community of 9 million avid hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners in more than 100 countries. It also provides detailed trail maps and other content tailor-made for outdoorsy folk. The company says its app has been downloaded more than 12 million times. Gear for making outdoor fitness more enjoyable AllTrails was founded by Russell Cook , who has since left to launch another fitness tech startup called FitOn. The company is now led by  Jade Van Doren , who joined as CEO in September 2015. “I grew up camping in the Sierras with my grandfather and backpacking up there,” Cook told TechCrunch. “I looked around the space and it felt like there was a lot of room to build something meaningful that would help people find places to get outdoors and feel safe once they are out there.” “I got really excited about doing that and we’ve made a lot of progress toward those goals,” he added.

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Coord, a Sidewalk Labs spin-out, raises $5 million to help mobility services better integrate into cities

Coord, the mobility data startup that spun out of Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, has raised a $5 million Series A round led by Alliance Ventures, with participation from Trucks, Urban.Us and DB Digital Ventures. The plan with the funding is to continue to enhance Coord’s APIs and geographic coverage, as well as “build a bridge between the private and public sectors,” Coord co-founder and CEO Stephen Smyth wrote on Medium . Coord offers a few products for its customers, which includes companies like Zipcar, Mozio and Google’s Maps product. There’s the Tolls API, which keeps tabs on toll roads, bridges and tunnels to determine the costs of trips; the Curbs API that is designed to help drivers easily figure out the parking and passenger loading rules (think ride-hailing drivers) in the area, meter prices and so forth; as well as a Routing API that uses real-time information to surface the best multi-modal routes. And as bike-sharing and scooter-sharing continue to expand across the world, Coord also offers a Shared Vehicle API to enable its customers to integrate the real-time availability, prices and locations of both bikes and scooters. “Our goal is to help the public and private sectors speak the same language when it comes to urban transportation,” Smyth wrote. “While many private companies are not well integrated into existing transportation systems of today, we believe that end users will ultimately demand interoperability across all of the systems in a city. To that end, we are driving standardization of transportation-related data across cities.” Coord will get you there one way or another with its new APIs

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RDMD attacks rare diseases with data mined from health records

You wouldn’t expect a medical app to get its start as a Snapchat competitor. Neither did video chat startup TapTalk’s founder Onno Faber. But four years ago he was diagnosed with a rare disease called  neurofibromatosis type 2 that caused tumors, leading Onno to lose hearing in one ear. He’s amongst the one in 10 people with an uncommon health condition suffering from the lack of data designed to invent treatments for their ails. And he’s now the co-founder of RDMD. Emerging from stealth today, RDMD aggregates and analyzes medical records and sells the de-identified data to pharmaceutical companies to help them develop medicines. In exchange for access to the data, patients gets their fragmented medical records organized into an app they can use to track their treatment and get second opinions. It’s like Flatiron Health, the Google-backed cancer data startup that just got bought for $2 billion, but for rare diseases. Now RDMD is announcing it’s raised a $3 million seed round led by Lux Capital and joined by Village Global , Shasta , Garuda, First Round’s Healthcare Coop and a ton of top healthtech angels, including Flatiron investors and board members. The cash will help RDMD expand to build out its product and address more rare diseases. RDMD founders (from left): Nancy Yu and Onno Faber “ We believe that the traditional way rare disease R&D is done needs to change,” RDMD CEO Nancy Yu tells TechCrunch. The former head of corp dev at 23andMe explains that, “ There are over 7,000 rare diseases and growing, yet

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Y Combinator invests in non-invasive breast cancer screening bra EVA

According to a report by the American Cancer Society , an estimated 266,120 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and (according to a 2016 estimate) can expect to pay between $60,000 and $134,000 on average for treatment and care. But, after hundreds of thousands of dollars and non-quantifiable emotional stress for them and their families, the American Cancer Society still estimates 40,920 women will lose their battle to the disease this year. Worldwide, roughly 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to a 2012 estimate by The World Cancer Research Fund International. While these numbers are stark, they do little to fully capture just how devastating a breast cancer diagnosis is for women and their loved ones. This is a feeling that Higia Technologies ‘ co-founder and CEO Julián Ríos Cantú is unfortunately very familiar with. “My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor,” Cantú told TechCrunch. “The first time she was diagnosed I was eight years old.” Cantú says that his mother’s second diagnosis was originally missed through standard screenings because her high breast density obscured the tumors from the X-ray. As a result, she lost both of her breasts, but has since fully recovered. “At that moment I realized that if that was the case for a woman with private insurance and a prevention mindset, then for most women in developing countries, like Mexico where we’re from, the outcome could’ve not been a mastectomy but death,” said Cantú. Following his mother’s experience, Cantú resolved to develop a way to improve the value of women’s lives and support them in identifying breast abnormalities and cancers early in order to ensure the highest likelihood of survival. To do this, at the age of 18 Cantú designed EVA — a bio-sensing bra insert that uses thermal sensing and artificial intelligence to identify abnormal temperatures in the breast that can correlate to tumor growth. Cantú says that EVA is not only an easy tool for self-screening but also fills in gaps in current screening technology.

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Owl raises $10 million for two-way car dashboard camera

Owl, the two-way dash cam founded by a team of ex-Apple and Dropcam executives, has secured a $10 million Series A1 round led by Canvas Ventures. This brings Owl’s total funding to $28 million. “We’ve seen a lot of pent-up demand for car security, and Owl is tapping into that demand with a product that’s easy to install and use,” Canvas Ventures General Partner Rebecca Lynn said in a statement. “This is a testament to the team’s decades of experience building mega-hits like the iPod, iPhone, and Dropcam, and gives them a huge leg up in creating a device and service people feel excited to use every day.” The Owl camera is designed to monitor your car for break-ins, collisions and police stops. Owl also can be used to capture fun moments (see above) on the road or beautiful scenery, simply by saying, “OK, presto.” Owl launched back in February to offer an always-on , LTE security camera for your car. Because Owl is always on, it’s able to capture car crashes, break-ins and people dinging your car in the parking lot. If Owl detects a car accident, it automatically saves the video to your phone, including the 10 seconds before and after the accident. At the time of launch, it was only available for iOS, but Owl is now making it available for people with Android phones. The two-way camera plugs into your car’s on-board diagnostics port (every car built after 1996 has one), and takes just a few minutes to set up. The camera tucks right in between the dashboard and windshield. Once it’s hooked up, you can access your car’s camera anytime via the Owl mobile app. Another competitor in the market is Raven . While its first priority is security, the camera also is designed to keep you connected to your loved ones and provide peace of mind. Raven retails for $299 and includes three months of connectivity. Owl costs $349, which includes one year of instant video via LTE

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Owl raises $10 million for two-way car dashboard camera

Owl, the two-way dash cam founded by a team of ex-Apple and Dropcam executives, has secured a $10 million Series A1 round led by Canvas Ventures. This brings Owl’s total funding to $28 million. “We’ve seen a lot of pent-up demand for car security, and Owl is tapping into that demand with a product that’s easy to install and use,” Canvas Ventures General Partner Rebecca Lynn said in a statement. “This is a testament to the team’s decades of experience building mega-hits like the iPod, iPhone, and Dropcam, and gives them a huge leg up in creating a device and service people feel excited to use every day.” The Owl camera is designed to monitor your car for break-ins, collisions and police stops. Owl also can be used to capture fun moments (see above) on the road or beautiful scenery, simply by saying, “OK, presto.” Owl launched back in February to offer an always-on , LTE security camera for your car. Because Owl is always on, it’s able to capture car crashes, break-ins and people dinging your car in the parking lot. If Owl detects a car accident, it automatically saves the video to your phone, including the 10 seconds before and after the accident. At the time of launch, it was only available for iOS, but Owl is now making it available for people with Android phones. The two-way camera plugs into your car’s on-board diagnostics port (every car built after 1996 has one), and takes just a few minutes to set up. The camera tucks right in between the dashboard and windshield. Once it’s hooked up, you can access your car’s camera anytime via the Owl mobile app. Another competitor in the market is Raven . While its first priority is security, the camera also is designed to keep you connected to your loved ones and provide peace of mind. Raven retails for $299 and includes three months of connectivity. Owl costs $349, which includes one year of instant video via LTE. You can learn more about Owl in my review below

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Wonderschool raises $20M to help people start in-home preschools

Educators already don’t get paid enough, and those that work in preschools or daycares often make 48% less. Meanwhile, parents struggle to find great early education programs where kids receive enough attention and there’s space, but they don’t need special connections or to pass grueling admissions interviews to get in. Any time there’s a lousy experience people have an emotional connection to and spend a lot of money on, there’s an opportunity for a startup. Enter ‘ Wonderschool ‘, a company that lets licensed educators and caretakers launch in-home preschools or daycares. Wonderschool helps candidates get credentialed, set up their programs, launch their websites, boost enrollment, and take payments in exchange for a 10 percent cut of tuition. The startup is now helping run 140 schools in the SF Bay, LA, and NYC where parents are happy to pay to give their kids an advantage. That chance to fill a lucrative gap in the education market has attracted a new $20 million Series A for Wonderschool led by Andreessen Horowitz. The round brings the startup to $24.1 million in total funding just two years after launch. With the cash and Andreessen partner Jeff Jordan joining its board, Wonderschool is looking to build powerful lead generation and management software to turn teachers into savvy entrepreneurs. “ Finding good childcare has become one of the most difficult experiences for families. I’ve seen parents who are making a livable wage in urban cities like San Francisco and New York still struggle to find and afford quality childcare” says co-founder and CEO Chris Bennett. “We wanted to deliver a solution for parents that also had the potential to create jobs and empower the caregiver — that’s Wonderschool.” By spawning and uniting programs across the country, Wonderschool could scale as the way software eats preschool. But without vigorous oversight of each educator, Wonderschool is also at risk of a safety mishap at one of its franchises ruining the brand for them all. Airbnb For Schooling Wonderschool started when co-founder Arrel Gray was having trouble finding childcare for his daughter close to home. “My little sister went to an in-home preschool, so I suggested he check them out” says Bennett

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Spark Neuro raises $13.5M to measure your emotional response to ads and movies

I’m not immune to compliments, and Spencer Gerrol, founder and CEO of Spark Neuro, offered a real winner as he demonstrated his technology. “I love your brain,” he told me. This was after the startup’s vice president of research Ryan McGarry had strapped sensors to my fingers and head, then showed me an intense movie clip, with my attention level and emotional response displayed on a screen for all to see. That, in miniature, is what Spark Neuro does: It helps companies study the audience response to things like ads, movies and trailers. The goal is to replace things like focus groups and surveys, which Gerrol said are subject to a variety of biases, including group pressure and the desire to give the answer that you think the researcher wants to hear. For example, he showed me a Mr. Clean ad that had performed poorly among men in focus groups. Spark Neuro, in contrast, found that it actually had “beautiful performance” among both men and women, and it ended up being one of the best-received ads at last year’s Super Bowl. (Apparently the guys just didn’t want to admit that they enjoyed watching a seductive cartoon man.) We’ve also written about startups that try to measure ad effectiveness using technology like eye tracking and studying facial expressions . Gerrol said those are valuable data points, and indeed, they’re part of Spark Neuro’s research. But they have their limitations, which is why the company also looks at brain and electrodermal activity. Gerrol highlighted the EEG data (i.e.

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Chinese AI startup Tianrang raises a $26M funding round, launches new project to apply ML to cities

Chinese AI startup Tianrang has raised a $26 million (RMB180 million) funding round from China’s Gaorong Capital and co-lead CMB International Capital. Other investors included Ziniu Fund and Chinese fintech company Wacai. In 2016, the company raised an angel round led by Gaorong Capital and participated in by Shanghai Jindi Investment Management Ltd. Based on deep learning and other AI technology, Tianrang provides data analysis and smart solutions for enterprises. It was founded by in 2016 by Xu Guirong, former director of Alibaba’s Ali Cloud and chief scientist at Alibaba’s cloud platform Alimama. So no slouch on the AI front. Tianrang claims to be able to automatically collect and analyze marketing trends and purchase-related information on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, allowing vendors to make better marketing decisions. Wang Hongbo, chief investment officer at CMB International Capital says: “With algorithm and AI, Tianrang lowers the requirement of complex machine decision-making and makes it accessible and scalable for commercial use.” Tianrang also plans to set up a project to apply machine learning to the urban development of cities, led by Jessie Li, a professor at the College of Information Sciences and Technology of Pennsylvania State University.

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Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics raises $40 million

In Don Burnette and Paz Eshel’s view, trucking is the killer app for self-driving technology. It’s what led Burnette to leave the Google self-driving project and co-found Otto in early 2016, along with Anthony Levandowski , Lior Ron and Claire Delaunay. And it’s what would eventually prompt Burnette to leave Uber — the company that acquired Otto  — and co-found with former venture capitalist Eshel a new driverless-trucks startup called Kodiak Robotics. “It was no secret that Uber was primarily focused on the car project and 80 to 90 percent of my time was focused on the car project,” Burnette told TechCrunch. “But I still felt that trucking was the killer app for self-driving. I still believe that. I wanted to focus 100 percent of my time on trucking.” Now he and Eshel can. Kodiak Robotics, which was founded in April, is coming out of stealth loaded up with venture capital. Kodiak Robotics announced  Tuesday  it has raised $40 million in Series A financing led by Battery Ventures. CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures also participated in the round. Itzik Parnafes, a general partner at Battery Ventures, will join Kodiak’s board. Kodiak Robotics will use the funds to expand its team and for product development. The company has about 10 employees, according to Eshel, who was a vice president at Battery Ventures, where he led the firm’s autonomous-vehicle investment project. Burnette noted the core engineering team — many of whom have experience in shipping self-driving vehicles on public roads — has been assembled. The pair weren’t ready to discuss the company’s go-to-market strategy.

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Andreessen-funded dYdX plans ‘short Ethereum’ token for haters

Crypto skeptics rejoice! A new way to short the cryptocurrency market is coming from dYdX , a decentralized financial derivatives startup. In two months it will launch its protocol for creating short and leverage positions for Ethereum and other ERC20 tokens that allow investors to amp up their bets for or against these currencies. To get the startup there, dYdX recently closed a $2 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain, and joined by Kindred and Abstract plus angels, including Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and co-founder Fred Ehrsam, and serial investor Elad Gil. “The main use for cryptocurrency so far has been trading and speculation — buying and holding. That’s not how sophisticated financial institutions trade,” says dYdX founder Antonio Juliano. “The derivatives market is usually an order of magnitude bigger than the spot trading or buy/sell market. The cryptocurrency market is probably on the order of $5 billion to $10 billion in volume, so you’d expect the derivatives market would be 10X bigger. I think there’s a really big opportunity there.” How dYdX works The idea is that you buy the short Ethereum token with ETH or a stable coin from an exchange or dYdX. The short Ethereum’s token price is inversely pegged to ETH, so it goes up in value when ETH goes down and vice versa. You can then sell the short Ethereum token for a profit if you correctly predicted an ETH price drop. On the backend, lenders earn an interest rate by providing ETH as collateral locked into smart contracts that back up the short Ethereum tokens. Only a small number of actors have to work with the smart contract to mint or close the short Tokens. Meanwhile, dYdX also offers leveraged Ethereum tokens that let investors borrow to boost their profits if ETH’s price goes up. The plan is to offer short and leveraged tokens for any ERC20 currency in the future. dYdX is building its own user-facing application for buying the tokens, but is also partnering with exchanges to offer the margin tokens “where people are already trading,” says Juliano.

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Stampli raises $6.7 M in Series A funding to streamline invoice management

Stampli, an invoice management platform, announced today the closing of a $6.7 M Series A funding round  led by SignalFire, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Hillsven Capital, and UpWest Labs. If you’ve ever freelanced for a company, you’ll know that the long, instant ramen-filled days between filing an invoice and having it completed can be grueling. Brothers Eyal and Ofer Feldman launched Stampli in 2015 to help solve this problem and bridge the communication gap between accountants, related internal departments and vendors. Aimed at mid to large size companies, to date Stampli has helped a wide range of companies (from fashion to tech) manage over $4 billion in invoices through its AI driven interface. “Invoice management is like an elephant,” co-founder and CEO Eyal Feldman told TechCrunch. “One person sees the head, one person sees the tail, one person sees the legs. It’s a process that different people see different versions of but the whole picture should include everybody. The ability for all of these people to be involved is really the core of the process.” Traditional invoice management between vendors and internal departments in a company can be a tangled mess of email exchanges, lost messages and ultimately delayed payments. But, Stampli’s interface (which can be integrated directly into a company’s enterprise resource planning software like  NetSuite, Intuit QuickBooks, or SAP) allows for every step of the invoice’s journey to have a central landing page for every relevant party to collaborate on. “We found that 85 percent of our users are not accounting people,” said Feldman. “They are all the managers around and all the other people involved. What we found in our research is that when the process works for them is when accounting is happy.” This landing page not only provides easy access to pertinent information between departments, but Stampli’s built-in AI, Billy the Bot, helps invoice managers fill in relevant information by first learning the structure of the invoice and then learning through observation the user’s behavior and work flow. When Billy passes an 80 percent confidence threshold for its decision, it goes ahead and auto-fills the information

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Stampli raises $6.7M in Series A funding to streamline invoice management

Stampli , an invoice management platform, announced today the closing of a $6.7 million Series A funding round  led by SignalFire, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Hillsven Capital and UpWest Labs. If you’ve ever freelanced for a company, you know that the long, instant ramen-filled days between filing an invoice and having it completed can be grueling. Brothers Eyal and Ofer Feldman launched Stampli in 2015 to help solve this problem and bridge the communication gap between accountants, related internal departments and vendors. Aimed at mid to large-size companies, to date Stampli has helped a wide range of companies (from fashion to tech) manage more than $4 billion in invoices through its AI-driven interface. “Invoice management is like an elephant,” co-founder and CEO Eyal Feldman told TechCrunch. “One person sees the head, one person sees the tail, one person sees the legs. It’s a process that different people see different versions of but the whole picture should include everybody. The ability for all of these people to be involved is really the core of the process.” Traditional invoice management between vendors and internal departments in a company can be a tangled mess of email exchanges, lost messages and ultimately delayed payments. But, Stampli’s interface (which can be integrated directly into a company’s enterprise resource planning software like  NetSuite, Intuit QuickBooks or SAP) allows for every step of the invoice’s journey to have a central landing page on which every relevant party can collaborate. “We found that 85 percent of our users are not accounting people,” said Feldman. “They are all the managers around and all the other people involved. What we found in our research is that when the process works for them is when accounting is happy.” This landing page not only provides easy access to pertinent information between departments, but Stampli’s built-in AI, Billy the Bot, helps invoice managers fill in relevant information by first learning the structure of the invoice and then learning through observation the user’s behavior and work flow. When Billy passes an 80 percent confidence threshold for its decision, it goes ahead and auto-fills the information. But, if it’s feeling unsure about its choice, Billy will leave it as a suggestion instead to avoid introducing any errors to the paperwork. The more invoices users process through Stampli, the more Billy learns how to best streamline the process for that company.

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Test.ai nabs $11M Series A led by Google to put bots to work testing apps

For developers, the process of determining whether every new update is going to botch some core functionality can take up a lot of time and resources, and things get far more complicated when you’re managing a multitude of apps. Test.ai is building a comprehensive system for app testing that relies on bots, not human labor, to see whether an app is ready to start raking in the downloads. The startup has just closed an $11 million Series A round led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. Also participating in the round were e.ventures, Uncork Capital and Zetta Venture Partners. Test.ai, which was founded in 2015, has raised $17.6 million to date. “Every advancement in training AI systems enables an advancement in user testing, and test.ai is the leader in AI-powered testing technology. We’re excited to help them supercharge their growth as they test every app in the world,” Gradient Ventures founder Anna Patterson said in a statement. “In a couple years, AI testing will be ingrained into every company’s product flow.” The company’s technology doesn’t just leverage AI to cut down on how long it takes for an app to be tested; there are much lengthier processes it helps eliminate when it comes to developers readying lists of scenarios to be tested. Test.ai has trained their bots on “tens of thousands of apps” to help it understand what an app looks like and what interface patterns they’re typically composed of. From there, they’re able to build their own scenario list and find what works and what doesn’t. That can mean, in the case of an app like our own, tracking down a bookmark button and then deducing that there are certain process that users would go through to use its functionality. Right now, the utility is in the fact that bots scale so broadly and so quickly. While a startup working on a single app may have the flexibility to choose amongst a few options, larger enterprises with several aging products having to grapple with updated systems are in a bit more of a bind. Some of Test.ai’s larger unnamed partners that “make app stores” or devices are working at the stratospheric level having to verify tens of thousands of apps to ensure that everything is in working order. “That’s an easy sell for us, almost too easy, because they don’t have the resources to individually test ten thousand apps every time something like Android gets updated,” CEO Jason Arbon tells TechCrunch. The startup’s capabilities operate on a much more quantitative scale than human-powered competitors like UserTesting, which tend to emphasize testing for feedback that’s a bit more qualitative in nature.

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Tractable is applying AI to accident and disaster appraisal

“Happy to spend 10 minutes on our vision and the journey we’re on, but then, really, 15 minutes on what we’ve got today, what it is we’ve achieved, what it is our AI does,” says Tractable co-founder and CEO Alexandre Dalyac when I video called him a couple of weeks ago. “You can probably speed up all of that,” I quip back. The resulting conversation, lasting well over an hour, spanned all of the above and more, including what is required to build a successful AI business and why he and his team think they can help prevent another “AI winter.” Founded in 2014 by Dalyac, Adrien Cohen and Razvan Ranca after going through company builder Entrepreneur First , London-based Tractable is applying artificial intelligence to accident and disaster recovery. Specifically, through the use of deep learning to automate visual damage appraisal, and therefore help speed up insurance payouts and access to other types of financial aid. Our AI has already been trained on tens of millions of these cases, so that’s a perfect case of us already having distilled thousands of people’s work experience Alexandre Dalyac Dalyac launches into what is clearly a well-rehearsed and evidently polished pitch. “We are on a journey to help the world recover faster from accidents and disasters. Our belief is that when accidents and disasters hit, the response could be 10 times faster thanks to AI. So what we mean there is, everything from road accidents, burst piping to large-scale floods and hurricane. Whenever any of these things happen, things get damaged.” Those things, he says, broadly break down into cars, homes and crops, roughly equating to $1 trillion in damage each year. But, perhaps more importantly, livelihoods get impacted. “If a car gets damaged, mobility is reduced.

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