The ‘Unicorn’ Club


SAN FRANCISCO — One hallmark of the current technology boom is a generation of start-ups valued at $1 billion or more by investors. Now meet the start-ups-in-waiting that may be next to reach that mark, if the white-hot market continues.

The $1 billion valuation metric was popularized two years ago by the venture investor Aileen Lee. She found that many of the start-ups that reaped the hugest riches for venture capital investors — Facebook and LinkedIn, for example — often reached a valuation of $1 billion or more while they were privately held. Because of their rarity, Ms. Lee called those companies “unicorns,” after the mythical creatures.

Since then, numerous start-ups have attained the $1 billion distinction — and topped it. With investors rushing to bet on the next big thing, the ride-hailing service Uber received a valuation of around $51 billion, while Airbnb, the online room-rental service, is pegged at about $24 billion. And every month, more companies are jumping into the unicorn echelon.

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PayPal makes its first acquisition


The digital payments giant makes a move in this suddenly hot of e-commerce area.

PayPal has bought mobile commerce startup Modest, marking the digital payment giant’s first acquisition since spinning out of eBay last month.

Modest, which premiered publicly earlier this year, helps merchants create mobile apps for their stores.

“Mobile commerce sucks, and we wanted to change that,” said Modest co-founder Harper Reed in an interview withFortune.

Reed was formerly the chief technology officer for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Modest’s other co-founder, Dylan Richard, was the lead engineer for the campaign.

Modest will be part of PayPal’s PYPL -2.11% Braintree business, which manages and processes payments for companies like ride sharing giant Uber. Both companies declined to reveal the financial terms of the acquisition.

One of the things that drew PayPal to buy Modest’s business was its bet on buy buttons, which let people buy items directly from apps without having the leave to another web page. Modest lets retailers embed buy buttons within their own apps, and other areas, including emails. Many social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are embedding buy buttons on their sites that let people to buy items they see on the networks. Braintreerecently partnered with Pinterest to help process payments for the site’s buy button.

Modest’s technology will also bring additional commerce expertise to PayPal beyond just payments, including shipping and inventory management.

This isn’t PayPal’s first acquisition this summer. In July, prior to splitting from eBay, the payments giant bought money transfer company Xoom for $890 million. As outgoing eBay CEO John Donahoe had previously explained, the once-symbiotic relationship between eBay and PayPal was not as tight as it used to be and that they could do better alone while focusing on their respective businesses.

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Hackers release full data dump from Ashley Madison, extramarital dating site

by’s owner said Tuesday it is examining a large batch of data posted online by hackers who breached the website last month.

A group calling itself Impact Team initially posted a sample of the data online on July 19, giving the site’s owner, Avid Life Media, a month to shut down and another site,

The group in part contested the moral position of Ashley Madison, which caters to people seeking extramarital affairs.

Avid Life Media, based in Toronto, said in a statement that it is “actively monitoring and investigating this situation to determine the validity of any information posted online.”

“This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality,” the company said.

Avid Life Media has hired independent forensic investigators and is working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Toronto Police Services and the FBI.

In a note on Pastebin, Impact Team claimed it had exposed the fraud, deceit and stupidity of Avid Life Media, including links to the files posted on the sharing service Mega and a torrent file.

The file posted on Mega appears to be 8.68 GB and is titled ashleymadison_db_dump. The links to the files on Mega, however, were quickly disabled late Tuesday.

When a 40 MB sample of the data was released in July, Avid Life Media said it used Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests to get the material removed from online services, and it appears to be taking the same tact this time around.

The sample data consisted of customer records, including email addresses, and sales and marketing data.

At the time, Impact Team claimed it found the paid-for feature to delete account registrations with Ashley Madison didn’t in fact work.

The website had charged $19 to scrub data. Avid Life Media contested that assertion the feature didn’t fully delete information but subsequently stopped charging for it.

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