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Google launches CallJoy, a virtual customer service phone agent for small businesses
Google  is combining several technologies, including virtual phone numbers, audio transcriptions, automated reporting and analytics, in a new effort to help small business owners better manage their inbound phone calls. The company’s latest project from its in-house incubator is CallJoy, launching today. Aimed at the U.S.’s 30.2 million small business owners, the system offers a low-cost customer service agent that helps block spam calls, provide callers with basic business information and redirect customers to complete their requests — like appointment booking or placing a to-go order — over SMS. Any other calls or questions would be directed to the main business phone number. (Fonte: TechCrunch)

Amazon opens its platform to local retail market in Israel
E-commerce giant Amazon has reached out to Israeli retailers to enable them to sell directly to customers in Israel using its online platform. Amazon sent a letter to a select number of Israeli retailers inviting them to join its local delivery program that allows firms to use their current Amazon.com seller account to fulfill orders directly to customers in Israel, using local inventory. “This new service is a positive addition to the current Amazon shopping experience for Israeli customers, providing them with quicker and cheaper delivery, while also offering a great opportunity for local, Israeli businesses to grow their businesses on Amazon,” said a source close to Amazon on Wednesday. (Fonte: Reuters)

Madrona Venture Group launches $100M acceleration fund
Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group has long been one of the most prominent early-stage funds in the backyard of Amazon and Microsoft. Now, however, the firm is starting to look beyond the Pacific Northwest with the launch of its $100 million Acceleration Fund, which will expand its geographic reach to the entire U.S. and give it a vehicle to invest in later rounds. The new fund will see Madrona make more investments at the Series B and C stage. While Madrona has made a wide variety of investments over the years, including some into consumer services, its focus has long been on enterprise cloud companies, ranging from Apptio to Smartsheets and Heptio (which VMware recently acquired). (Fonte: TechCrunch)