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A Startup Raises $11 Million Using Zoom, A Ransomware Maker Gives Money To Charity…And Other Small Business Tech News

By October 25, 2020October 26th, 2020No Comments

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 —A Seattle fintech startup just raised $11M on Zoom.

Possible Finance—a Seattle based fintech startup—was rapidly growing and working to raise more funding when the coronavirus pandemic hit, putting a stop to their efforts. However, the startup was able to pivot and decided to raise money through Zoom conference calls and recently raised $11M using the video platform. Having raised their funding virtually, the company has also decided to buy in to remote and distributed work, converting their offices to co-working spaces while recruiting individuals from all over the world. (Source: GeekWire)

Why this is important for your business:

This is yet another amazing example of how Covid has changed the way we do business – for the better and permanently. When a small company’s executives can raise $11 million without leaving their homes you know it’s a different world.

2 — A hacker group is donating their ransoms to charities.

Darkside—a ransomware group—has been donating portions of ransoms received from companies they’ve hacked to various charities. The group —which has been operating since August of this year—typically attacks big corporations, encrypts and steals their data, then demands a large ransom costing companies millions. The group released a statement that they only focus on big, for-profit organizations, and have taken pride in giving a portion of the paid ransom to charities such as Children International to help children in poverty, among several other non-profits. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Ransomware is a billion-dollar industry and is so profitable that hacker groups, like this one, is literally paying it forward with money it has stolen from companies that paid it ransom. Unbelievable. All you can do is to step up your own security – update your operating systems, get backups, implement multi-factor authentication – so that you can choose what charities receive your money and not some hacking organization.

3 —Customer service chats are coming to Instagram DMs.

Businesses will now be able to provide live customer service agents to assist users posing frequently asked questions through Instagram. With the ability to field questions through Stories and Shops on Instagram, businesses will also be able to merge the social media platform with their CRMs, providing the ability to keep track of order and message history from customers. The most recent version of messenger is currently being tested by big brands such as Adidas, H&M, and Michael Kors—to name a few—and is not yet widely available. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

Instagram is owned by Facebook and part of Facebook’s strategy – as told to me in this interview by Rich Rao, Facebook’s Vice President of Small Business – is to expand its e-commerce capabilities. Over the next few years small businesses who sell their products on both platforms will be seeing more tools like the ones mentioned above to sell their products and provide customer service. Could Facebook, with its billions of users, be a better platform to generate revenues for your business than Amazon?

4 — Facebook’s new AI can translate languages directly into one another.

Facebook has announced that their new and improved AI will be able to more efficiently and accurately translate languages. Traditionally, their AI would translate using English as the middle step, often translating from one language, to English, to another. This process would often diminish how accurately wording was being translated. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

The newly developed AI now has the capability to translate directly from one language into the other, negating the need to use English at all. What a great tool if you’re employing people around the world who need to communicate to each other.

5— Small businesses are shifting to e-commerce and social media.

A recent survey conducted by Chase Ink asked small businesses to share the changes they have had to make in order to handle the obstacles brought on by COVID-19. 64% of participants said that the changes made in 2020 will continue into next year. The majority of changes made centered around businesses moving to digital processes and 35% of small businesses believe that the obstacles brought on by the coronavirus would have resulted in permanent closures had they not moved business online. 48% of participants said that their use of social media has become vital in their surviving the pandemic. (Source: WWD)

Why this is important for your business:

Another way the pandemic has accelerated an already increasing trend. Ecommerce sales are through the roof this year and many small businesses are finding that, with the right investment, social media platforms can provide a very profitable way to engage and sell to new customers. Do not ignore these trends as you make your marketing plans for 2021.

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