The Orbital 2 is like a Surface Dial that works with Mac

This little peripheral is one of the more interesting new pieces of hardware floating around the halls of TC Tokyo this week. The product, created by local startup Brain Magic, is best described as a more feature-packed take on the Microsoft Dial — one that, as it happens, also works with Mac.

It’s a nice addition to the MacOS ecosystem, particularly given Apple’s recent re-focus on creative pros. The peripheral is targeted at videographers, illustrators and other artists, with a design that more closely resembles a gaming joystick than the Dial. Control is based on three primary actions: dial, toggle and button, allowing for a wide range of different controls.

All are created in the interested of expecting different actions and okey functions in creative applications like Adobe Creative Suite, Avid, Clip Studio Paint and MediBang Paint. There’s also blue glowing ring around the bottom, to help you better spot it in a dark room, while giving the controller a bit of a Tron vibe.

The build quality is nice. It feels comfortable in the hand and moves smoothly, augmented by haptic feedback. I could easily see the thing being implemented for some sort of gaming functionality. Unlike the Surface Dial, however, it’s not wireless, which means it’s a bit more of a pain to use it mounted atop a screen.

The Orbital 2 is a Kickstarter success story set to start shipping early next year, with an early bird price of ~$274.

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Hong Kong is adding QR code payments to its subway stations

A new dispatch from our ‘QR Codes Are Very Much Alive In Asia’ reporting program: Hong Kong’s subway system will soon allow its commuters to pay by scanning QR codes thanks to a deal with Alibaba that was announced this week.

The partnership — which is with Alibaba’s Ant Financial affiliate — will see scan-to-pay enabled at 91 MTR metro stations starting in mid-2020. Commuters will simply use Ant’s Alipay app to scan a code at the turnstile and then go on with their trip as usual. They’ll be able to top up their balance inside the app, as well as through traditional methods.

MTR also covers rail, buses and more but it isn’t clear if and when this payment option will be extended beyond subways.

Hong Kong already offers convenient cash-free payments using its Octopus card system, which has branched out from covering rides and can be used for purchases offline among many things. Octopus says that there are some 35 million active cards in circulation today — covering 99 percent of the seven million population — and the program is widely admired by other countries in Asia which are trying to replicate it.

There are said to be around 35 million Octopus cards in circulation in Hong Kong

The Alipay solution does also have its own merits, though. For one, QR code scans will work in places where internet connections are slow or inconsistent, plus the system could (should?) mean that visitors from Mainland China and other countries who already use Alipay can tap right into it.

For now, Alipay is best known in China — where it claims over 500 million users — but Ant Financial is aggressively building out its presence across Southeast Asia, Korea and other markets. It seems likely it’ll be keen to link those systems with this Hong Kong program.

There’s also likely to be a lot more beyond subway rides.

Ant Financial operates a joint venture — APSHK — in Hong Kong with telecom giant Hutchison which is aimed at bringing its tech and services to the city. It already covers offline payments and has support for taxis, but you can bet that, like Octopus, this MTR rollout will be a base to expand its services in Hong Kong to much broader areas, perhaps mirroring China where Alipay is a ‘swiss army knife’ app that goes well beyond payments.

“Not only is this a recognition in AlipayHK’s technological stability, we feel confident QR Code transit technology will be successfully expanded into more aspects. Aside from gradually merging with Hong Kong’s public transports, we will also be exploring smart mobility in outbound travels by entering the most popular travel destinations of Hong Kong people, driving smart mobility across Hong Kong,” said Jennifer Tan, CEO of APSHK.

So while there are sophisticated solutions for cash-less transportation like Apple Pay, which works on Tokyo’s public transport system, don’t discount more basic-looking options like QR codes.

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Alibaba and Amazon move over, we visited JD.com connected grocery store in China

The arms race to build the future of grocery stores is heating up in China. To no one’s surprise, the main contestants are the country’s ecommerce titans Alibaba and JD.com, which are turning offline for growth.

Online retail has flourished in China, but it still accounts for less than 20 percent of the nation’s overall consumption, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The goal of internet players is not to steal business from the offline counterparts, but to digitize old-fashioned merchants.

Long before Amazon bought out Whole Foods for $13.7 billion last year, Alibaba was making offline forays by forging partnerships with a department store operator, an electronics retail heavyweight, and more recently, a prolific hypermarket chain.

The purest manifestation of Alibaba’s physical push came in July 2017 when it rolled out Hema, a supermarket store that features cashierless checkouts and a robotic restaurant at one branch.

Since opening, Hema has been rapidly expanding and now operates in 80 locations across China’s megacities, with the help of a few franchises.

Meanwhile, JD is trailing closely through a flurry of deals with key brick-and-mortar players like supermarket group Yonghui and the American giant Walmart.

7fresh jd

Entrance to 7Fresh, which stands for “fresh seven days a week” / Credit: TechCrunch

JD, of course, conjured up its own digital-first grocery store called 7Fresh. The supermarket opened this January and has since added three more locations, though JD’s founder and CEO Richard Liu had an ambition for 30 by the end of 2018. I recently visited one of them in Beijing and, as it turned out, it shares a lot of similarities with its opponent but also diverges in some aspects.

Unlike most supermarkets in China, the 7Fresh store I visited sits in a low-density community away from lively residential neighborhoods. You will need to drive or hail a taxi there, or do what JD.com wants you to — order online.

Upon arrival, you will immediately notice some of the Whole Foods rustic chic. An array of fruits, vegetables, fishes, meats, artisan bread, imported drinks lie graciously on wooden shelves, punctuated by 7Fresh’s dark green brand color.

Well, perhaps slightly more futuristic than its American counterpart.

The a-ha moment comes when you get to the fruit section, which lets you scan barcodes on meticulously wrapped items. Details of the fruit then pop up on a screen above your head, showing where it comes from, how sweet it is, and et cetera.

jd 7fresh

Scan to get details on your fruits. / Credit: TechCrunch

It says this particular pear I have comes from China’s northeastern Liaoning province, with a sugar level at 8 to 12 percent, and is recommended by 99 percent of the customers who bought and reviewed it on the 7Fresh app.

Yes, to shop at 7Fresh, you must download its app and register an account. Hema exercises the same mandate. The implication is that shoppers will help themselves at checkouts, although there is still human staff on hand to assist the less digital savvy. The drill won’t be new to most Chinese people as millions of them already shop online and pay offline with their smartphones every day.

When done with scanning products, you pay with JD’s digital wallet or the more popular WeChat Pay, the payment solution linked to Tencent, a major shareholder in JD.

jd 7fresh

Human staff assist the less digital savvy at self-checkouts. / Credit: TechCrunch

The 7Fresh app, of course, also lets you buy what’s in-store remotely. Customers who are less than three kilometers away can buy online with 30-minute delivery. In other words, the supermarkets are not stuck with store visit conversions.

“Customer conversions now take place anywhere within the three-kilometer range on people’s handsets. It’s all happening invisibly,” Zhao Heshan, a Shanghai-based farm produce supplier for several major Chinese ecommerce platforms, told TechCrunch.

Like Hema, 7Fresh doubles as a warehouse and distribution hub, and so is larger than the old-fashioned grocers, which focus on capturing in-store traffic.

The most forward-looking device in the store is arguably its ceiling conveyor belt – though it still requires human help. Once a customer places an order online, an in-store fulfillment staff packs it up in a bag and loads it onto the conveyor belt. The item then zooms across the store over your head to a nearby delivery center, a system that also powers Hema.

jd

7Fresh’s ceiling conveyor belt. / Credit: TechCrunch

As such, Hema and 7Fresh are going after users online and trying to digitize those who used to shop at brick-and-mortars. As of September, online sales account for more than 60 percent for Hema stores that are 1.5 years or older, Alibaba says.

With the addition of physical footprints, ecommerce players gain a deeper understanding of how people shop and can thus optimize logistics efficiency.

“Consumers in different regions behave differently, so 7Fresh uses that as a foundation and customizes inventory at each store accordingly,” said president of 7Fresh Wang Xiaosong to press when the first store opened.

Jack Ma came up with the catchphrase “new retail” to describe this online-and-offline retailing integration, and Richard Liu’s equivalent is “borderless retail.”

alibaba hema

Ceiling conveyor belt at Alibaba Hema. / Credit: Alibaba

Besides the much-coveted customer insights, Alibaba and JD are going offline for cheaper user acquisition. “The golden age of cheap internet traffic is gone. Now it’s the opposite. Customer acquisition is much cheaper offline,” suggested Zhao.

Both Alibaba and JD have continued their old playbooks at physical stores, with the former running a marketplace model that takes a cut from merchants, and the latter staying consistent with direct sales. That holds true to how the rivals handle deliveries. While Alibaba relies on a network of third-party logistics services, JD has its own in-house fleet, which could be costly to operate.

An offline push, however, could boost revenues for the online retailer. “Richard Liu often talks about feeding JD’s one million or so delivery staff. Growing online orders from 7Fresh could help him fulfill that promise,” Zhao observed.

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Alibaba and Amazon move over, we visited JD.com connected grocery store in China

The arms race to build the future of grocery stores is heating up in China. To no one’s surprise, the main contestants are the country’s ecommerce titans Alibaba and JD.com, which are turning offline for growth.

Online retail has flourished in China, but it still accounts for less than 20 percent of the nation’s overall consumption, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The goal of internet players is not to steal business from the offline counterparts, but to digitize old-fashioned merchants.

Long before Amazon bought out Whole Foods for $13.7 billion last year, Alibaba was making offline forays by forging partnerships with a department store operator, an electronics retail heavyweight, and more recently, a prolific hypermarket chain.

The purest manifestation of Alibaba’s physical push came in July 2017 when it rolled out Hema, a supermarket store that features cashierless checkouts and a robotic restaurant at one branch.

Since opening, Hema has been rapidly expanding and now operates in 80 locations across China’s megacities, with the help of a few franchises.

Meanwhile, JD is trailing closely through a flurry of deals with key brick-and-mortar players like supermarket group Yonghui and the American giant Walmart.

7fresh jd

Entrance to 7Fresh, which stands for “fresh seven days a week” / Credit: TechCrunch

JD, of course, conjured up its own digital-first grocery store called 7Fresh. The supermarket opened this January and has since added three more locations, though JD’s founder and CEO Richard Liu had an ambition for 30 by the end of 2018. I recently visited one of them in Beijing and, as it turned out, it shares a lot of similarities with its opponent but also diverges in some aspects.

Unlike most supermarkets in China, the 7Fresh store I visited sits in a low-density community away from lively residential neighborhoods. You will need to drive or hail a taxi there, or do what JD.com wants you to — order online.

Upon arrival, you will immediately notice some of the Whole Foods rustic chic. An array of fruits, vegetables, fishes, meats, artisan bread, imported drinks lie graciously on wooden shelves, punctuated by 7Fresh’s dark green brand color.

Well, perhaps slightly more futuristic than its American counterpart.

The a-ha moment comes when you get to the fruit section, which lets you scan barcodes on meticulously wrapped items. Details of the fruit then pop up on a screen above your head, showing where it comes from, how sweet it is, and et cetera.

jd 7fresh

Scan to get details on your fruits. / Credit: TechCrunch

It says this particular pear I have comes from China’s northeastern Liaoning province, with a sugar level at 8 to 12 percent, and is recommended by 99 percent of the customers who bought and reviewed it on the 7Fresh app.

Yes, to shop at 7Fresh, you must download its app and register an account. Hema exercises the same mandate. The implication is that shoppers will help themselves at checkouts, although there is still human staff on hand to assist the less digital savvy. The drill won’t be new to most Chinese people as millions of them already shop online and pay offline with their smartphones every day.

When done with scanning products, you pay with JD’s digital wallet or the more popular WeChat Pay, the payment solution linked to Tencent, a major shareholder in JD.

jd 7fresh

Human staff assist the less digital savvy at self-checkouts. / Credit: TechCrunch

The 7Fresh app, of course, also lets you buy what’s in-store remotely. Customers who are less than three kilometers away can buy online with 30-minute delivery. In other words, the supermarkets are not stuck with store visit conversions.

“Customer conversions now take place anywhere within the three-kilometer range on people’s handsets. It’s all happening invisibly,” Zhao Heshan, a Shanghai-based farm produce supplier for several major Chinese ecommerce platforms, told TechCrunch.

Like Hema, 7Fresh doubles as a warehouse and distribution hub, and so is larger than the old-fashioned grocers, which focus on capturing in-store traffic.

The most forward-looking device in the store is arguably its ceiling conveyor belt – though it still requires human help. Once a customer places an order online, an in-store fulfillment staff packs it up in a bag and loads it onto the conveyor belt. The item then zooms across the store over your head to a nearby delivery center, a system that also powers Hema.

jd

7Fresh’s ceiling conveyor belt. / Credit: TechCrunch

As such, Hema and 7Fresh are going after users online and trying to digitize those who used to shop at brick-and-mortars. As of September, online sales account for more than 60 percent for Hema stores that are 1.5 years or older, Alibaba says.

With the addition of physical footprints, ecommerce players gain a deeper understanding of how people shop and can thus optimize logistics efficiency.

“Consumers in different regions behave differently, so 7Fresh uses that as a foundation and customizes inventory at each store accordingly,” said president of 7Fresh Wang Xiaosong to press when the first store opened.

Jack Ma came up with the catchphrase “new retail” to describe this online-and-offline retailing integration, and Richard Liu’s equivalent is “borderless retail.”

alibaba hema

Ceiling conveyor belt at Alibaba Hema. / Credit: Alibaba

Besides the much-coveted customer insights, Alibaba and JD are going offline for cheaper user acquisition. “The golden age of cheap internet traffic is gone. Now it’s the opposite. Customer acquisition is much cheaper offline,” suggested Zhao.

Both Alibaba and JD have continued their old playbooks at physical stores, with the former running a marketplace model that takes a cut from merchants, and the latter staying consistent with direct sales. That holds true to how the rivals handle deliveries. While Alibaba relies on a network of third-party logistics services, JD has its own in-house fleet, which could be costly to operate.

An offline push, however, could boost revenues for the online retailer. “Richard Liu often talks about feeding JD’s one million or so delivery staff. Growing online orders from 7Fresh could help him fulfill that promise,” Zhao observed.

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The Timbuk2 Never Check sold me on the importance of a good travel backpack

For some who travels a lot, I can be downright reckless when it comes to packing sometimes. I’ve found myself hurling clothes, toiletries and assorted cables into bags on more early mornings than I care to mention.

That haphazard approach naturally extends to the bags I’m throwing my things into. I’ve always just relayed on my everyday backpack as a carry on. I mean, why not, right? It does the trick day to day, so there’s no reason it wouldn’t work on the road. Writing this piece backstage at the TC Tokyo event, however, I finally recognize the error of my ways.

Two weeks traveling around Asia for various work things was as good an excuse as any to get my stuff together when it comes to packing, and this gift guide was a good way to light a fire under my ass to actually do it. The whole thing started as a list of accessories — battery packs, plugs, cables and the like, but at a certain point it dawned on me that I would, you know, need a place to put them.

After a few hours of online research, I finally landed on the Never Check backpack. It’s right there in the name, really — and Timbuk2 makes a good bag. This much we know for certain.

A good travel backpack has to walk a delicate line — it needs to be small enough to be stashed in under the seat in front of you and expansive enough to fit all of the crap you need for a one-day trip: laptop, toiletries, clothes, running shoes. It’s a big ask for a little bag.

The Never Check performs the task better than any backpack I’ve owned to this point, courtesy, in part, of a zipper expandable main compartment. Unzip it and you give yourself an extra two inches of storage space. It’s a clever touch, similar to the compression packing cubes I also picked up for the trip.

The bag’s dimensions aren’t small, but they’re not overwhelming either. I could certainly see defaulting to it as an every day bag. It’s got deep backs and accessory holsters to spare, along with nice touches throughout, including a secret laptop pock and wax-covered zippers to keep out the rain.

The looks are nothing to write home about, really. It’s boxy and black, with bright blue lining inside — more utilitarian than flashy. It’s also more than I’ve traditionally paid for a backpack at $200. But it’s been a reliable companion for those 20 mile a day walks around Tokyo this week.

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Sheryl Sandberg claims she didn’t know Facebook hired agency behind ‘abhorrent’ anti-Soros campaign

Sheryl Sandberg has denied that she obstructed early investigations into election meddling and claimed that she was unaware Facebook was involved with an agency that ran “abhorrent” anti-Semitic campaigns that targeted George Soros among others.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network with over 2.2 billion users, spent Thursday doing its best to fight a media relations forest fire that followed an explosive New York Times article revealing a campaign to smear George Soros and other revelations.

The company fired PR and research firm Definers, the center of some of the story, it disputed allegations that it tried to hide details around Russian hacking and it held an hour-long call with journalists and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Now Sandberg has joined Zuckerberg and Facebook itself in distancing herself from some of the core claims of the Times report, which paints her in a particularly poor light.

“On a number of issues – including spotting and understanding the Russian interference we saw in the 2016 election – Mark and I have said many times we were too slow,” she wrote in a rebuttal posted to Facebook. “But to suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue.”

Sandberg repeated a common refrain at Facebook: the company wasn’t aware of the scale of the attacks it received until it was too late and it is now committed to “investing heavily” to prevent recurrences.

“While we will always have more work to do, I believe we’ve started to see some of that work pay off, as we saw in the recent US midterms and elections around the world where we have found and taken down further attempts at interference,” she wrote.

But perhaps the most striking part of Sandberg’s is a brief passage in which she claims that she — Facebook’s chief operating officer — was unaware of the exact scope of Definers’ work for the company, which included disinformation campaigns against Apple, Google and the George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations.

From her post:

I also want to address the issue that has been raised about a PR firm, Definers. We’re no longer working with them but at the time, they were trying to show that some of the activity against us that appeared to be grassroots also had major organizations behind them. I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros – and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.

Indeed, the claim that Sandberg didn’t even know the agency worked for Facebook flies in the face of the company’s original response, in which it wrote that its “relationship with Definers was well known by the media.”

According to those statements, the relationship was well known by the media but unknown to the company COO? Ok then.

The New York Times’ allegations are hugely serious, enough to get solicit fast and concerned responses from a multitude of politicians and prompt Facebook’s campaign PR machine to spluttered into frenzied activity – don’t expect this issue to disappear soon.

Here’s a quick recap of what you need to know so far.

If you didn’t yet do so, go read the New York Times report.

And here’s the response from Sandberg in full:

I want to address some of the claims that have been made in the last 24 hours.

On a number of issues – including spotting and understanding the Russian interference we saw in the 2016 election – Mark and I have said many times we were too slow. But to suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue. The allegations saying I personally stood in the way are also just plain wrong. This was an investigation of a foreign actor trying to interfere in our election. Nothing could be more important to me or to Facebook.

As Mark and I both told Congress, leading up to Election Day in November 2016, we detected and dealt with several threats with ties to Russia and reported what we found to law enforcement. These were known traditional cyberattacks like hacking and malware. It was not until after the election that we became aware of the widespread misinformation campaigns run by the IRA. Once we were, we began investing heavily in more people and better technology to protect our platform. While we will always have more work to do, I believe we’ve started to see some of that work pay off, as we saw in the recent US midterms and elections around the world where we have found and taken down further attempts at interference.

I also want to address the issue that has been raised about a PR firm, Definers. We’re no longer working with them but at the time, they were trying to show that some of the activity against us that appeared to be grassroots also had major organizations behind them. I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros – and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.

At Facebook, we are making the investments that we need to stamp out abuse in our system and ensure the good things people love about Facebook can keep happening. It won’t be easy. It will take time and will never be complete. This mission is critical and I am committed to seeing it through.

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Tidal arrives on the Amazon Echo

One key thing the HomePod has on the competition: streaming service synergy. It’s an important advantage at the heart of the premium smart speaker. While both Amazon and Google have their own streaming options, they pale in comparison to the top services, so third-parties are really the way to go.

Amazon’s just added another key offering to its arsenal. Tidal, the music streaming service that Jay-Z built, is now available on Echo devices courtesy of Amazon’s recently introduced Music Skill API. The move is likely to be more of a boon for Tidal than Amazon, of course, but the more options the better, naturally.

The service has been making an aggressive push to make its way to more devices, including the recent addition of a Samsung Wearable app. Tidal is clearly looking toward strategic outreach on Apple’s chief competition. The enemy of my enemy is my hardware partner and all of that good stuff.

The new skill makes it possible to set Tidal as your default Echo streaming service, so long as you’ve got a premium account.

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Tinder tests ‘Swipe Surge’ in US to connect users during peak times

Tinder today announced the test of a new in-app experience it’s calling “Swipe Surge,” that will send notifications to users when there’s a spike in Tinder usage in their area. The feature is designed to allow Tinder to better capitalize on real-world events that drive increased usage – like music festivals, parties, or spring break holidays, for example.

The company says that it tested out sending push notifications to alert users about surge periods in its app back in 2016, and found that it resulted in users forming 2.5x more matches during a swipe surge.

Users also received nearly 20 percent more right swipes during these events, and they were 2.6x more likely to receive a message, Tinder noted.

Now it’s turning these push notifications into a real product with Swipe Surge.

In addition to the alerts designed to draw Tinder users into the app at the same time, the app will include “Swipe Surge” branding during the event. People who already joined the surge by responding to the push notification will then move to the front of the match queue, and Tinder will show you who’s currently active in the app.

Tinder says that activity during a surge is 15x higher overall, and increases matchmaking potential by 250%.

The company has been working to promote Tinder as a dating app for the younger demographic in recent months, with its marketing campaign focused on the “single lifestyle,” media publication “Swipe Life,” and a test expansion of Tinder U, its college student product.

The Swipe Surge test is underway now in major U.S. markets, says Tinder.

 

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Tinder tests ‘Swipe Surge’ in US to connect users during peak times

Tinder today announced the test of a new in-app experience it’s calling “Swipe Surge,” that will send notifications to users when there’s a spike in Tinder usage in their area. The feature is designed to allow Tinder to better capitalize on real-world events that drive increased usage – like music festivals, parties, or spring break holidays, for example.

The company says that it tested out sending push notifications to alert users about surge periods in its app back in 2016, and found that it resulted in users forming 2.5x more matches during a swipe surge.

Users also received nearly 20 percent more right swipes during these events, and they were 2.6x more likely to receive a message, Tinder noted.

Now it’s turning these push notifications into a real product with Swipe Surge.

In addition to the alerts designed to draw Tinder users into the app at the same time, the app will include “Swipe Surge” branding during the event. People who already joined the surge by responding to the push notification will then move to the front of the match queue, and Tinder will show you who’s currently active in the app.

Tinder says that activity during a surge is 15x higher overall, and increases matchmaking potential by 250%.

The company has been working to promote Tinder as a dating app for the younger demographic in recent months, with its marketing campaign focused on the “single lifestyle,” media publication “Swipe Life,” and a test expansion of Tinder U, its college student product.

The Swipe Surge test is underway now in major U.S. markets, says Tinder.

 

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Shyft raises $6.5M to help retail and service workers swap shifts

Anyone that has experience in the service or retail industry knows swapping shifts can be a logistical nightmare that leaves employees in trouble with management or stuck working during a friend’s birthday party. As a former Old Navy “sellebrity” myself, I can confirm there’s a huge need for an efficient tool to solve this problem.

That’s where Shyft, a Seattle-based startup that helps connect shift workers, comes in. Using Shyft, employees can message each other, pick up each other’s shifts and ultimately earn more money by picking up available slots that might have otherwise gone unstaffed.

The startup has raised a fresh round of funding — a $6.5 million Series A co-led by Ignition Partners and Madrona Venture Group — to continue developing its workforce management tool. As part of the financing, Ignition managing partner Bob Kelly and Madrona managing director S. Somasegar will join its board of directors.

Shyft co-founder and chief executive officer Brett Patrontasch got the idea for the web and mobile app for workers from his last company, called Scholars at your Service, which employed 250 students-turned house painters. The students had no way of messaging or communicating with one another aside from their personal phone lines.

“It kind of seemed obvious that enterprise social should extend to shift workers,” Patrontasch told TechCrunch. “We are trying to bring a really consumer-friendly mobile experience to the front lines. [Employees] need products that solve their problems and we are really dedicated to helping that worker.”

So far, Shyft has partnered with Gap Inc. to provide the service to workers at its fleet of retail stores, which include Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. Patrontasch says Shyft works with a “handful” of other national retailers, too.

Shyft, a Techstars accelerator graduate, has previously raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Madrona, Flying Fish Partners’ co-founder Heather Redman, former Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Russell Okung and former Major League Baseball player Edgar Martinez.

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