Venture Capitals / Blockchain / China / VR
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Weekly VC Overview
Global funding last quarter hit an all-time high, marking the first single quarter to reach above $100 billion, according to Crunchbase data. In the first quarter of 2021, global venture investments reached $125 billion, a 50 percent increase quarter over quarter and a whopping 94 percent increase year over year, Crunchbase data shows.
Reston, Virginia-based ThreatQuotient closed a new $22.5 million round of funding as it looks to grow more than 50 percent this year while adding new products to its offerings. The investment — a combination of equity and debt financing — comes from a group that includes New Enterprise Associates, Adams Street Partners, Escalate Capital, Blu Ventures, Cisco Investments and Gaingels.
Atlanta-based Genius Guild has come out of stealth with more than $5 million in investments to help grow the ecosystem of Black-founded companies. The new firm is the brainchild of tech entrepreneur and investor Kathryn Finney and takes a multifaceted approach to helping Black entrepreneurs — offering investment through its Greenhouse Fund to tech-enabled companies, while also offering a lab and studio to help Black founders build a community and receive business help and advise.
Tiger Global just closed one of the biggest venture funds ever, with $6.7 billion. Just this week alone, half a dozen companies have announced rounds that the New York-based investing giant has led, co-led or written follow-on checks into, including HighRadius, a company whose $300 million Series C round it co-led with D1 Capital; Cityblock Health, whose $192 million in extended Series C funding Tiger Global led; and 6sense, which received a follow-on check from Tiger Global as part of a $125 million Series D round. The firm is also reportedly in talks to co-lead a $300 million round in a five-year-old, AI chipmaker called Groq.
Wonder Dynamics raises $2.5M seed to equip indie filmmakers with AI-powered VFX. Practically every film production these days needs some kind of visual effects work, but independent creators often lack the cash or expertise to get that top-shelf CG. Wonder Dynamics, founded by VFX engineer Nikola Todorovic and actor Tye Sheridan, aims to use AI to make some of these processes more accessible for filmmakers with budgets on the tight side, and they’ve just raised $2.5 million to make it happen.
The New York startup Realworld raises $3.4M to help Gen Z navigate adulthood. The startup has created more than 90 step-by-step playbooks, covering everything from budgeting to moving to salary negotiation. Founder and CEO Genevieve Ryan Bellaire said these are designed for members of Gen Z who are just leaving college and entering the workforce.
Microsoft has reportedly been awarded a ten year contract worth close to US$22 billion, to provide 120,000 military-grade augmented reality (AR) headsets to the US Army. The AR interface commissioned by the US military is referred to as an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” (IVAS). It will use Microsoft’s HoloLens headset technology as its base hardware. Features will supposedly include thermal sensors, machine learning (to create realistic training simulations) and a digital heads up display to enhance soldiers’ “situational awareness”.
The HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition, an enhanced version of the company’s new VR headset designed for professional use, is launching next month, starting at $1,249. The G2 Omnicept Edition takes the existing headset and adds sensors to track pupil size and eye movement, the user’s heart rate and even facial expressions with a unit mounted to the bottom of the device. The sensory data, HP says, can be used to enhance the effectiveness of VR training solutions, measuring how users respond to certain situations.
Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 63- June 26) – HYE TECH MINDS
- Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 63- June 26)
- Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 57- April 16)
- Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 56- April 9)
- Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 55- March 12)
- Startup Monday: Latest tech trends & news happening in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 54- March 5)
The cryptocurrency industry is steaming hot. The total market value of cryptocurrencies is approaching $2 trillion – that’s bigger than the market caps of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Bitcoin has been trading above $50,000 since March 8 and has a market value of $1.12 trillion, almost as much as all the silver in the world. FOMO-ed institutions keep pouring into the space. Tesla will start accepting payments for its electric vehicles in bitcoin, adding the cryptocurrency to its $2.5 billion bitcoin trove. One of the oldest banks in America, BNY Mellon, has launched a digital assets unit, Goldman Sachs has relaunched its crypto trading operations, JPMorgan has introduced a structured note offering tied to a basket of stocks with exposure to bitcoin, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have become the first major U.S. banks to offer their wealthy clients direct access to bitcoin.
Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is considering going public through a direct listing in 2022, after seeing record trading volumes and new clients amid a surge in the price of bitcoin. Founded in 2011, Kraken is one the world’s biggest crypto exchanges. It has more than 6 million clients and is the fourth-largest exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Bitcoin mining company Riot Blockchain Inc announced a milestone purchase for $138.5 million worth of mining equipment yesterday. The company purchased 42,000 S19j Antminers from Bitmain Technologies Limited as part of a strategic initiative to increase its Bitcoin mining hash rate. Riot Blockchain estimates that once the Antminers are fully deployed, its hash rate will reach 7.7 exhash per second (EH/s). According to the company, this growth represents a 93% increase over its previously estimated hash capacity of 4.0 EH/s by October 2021.
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Startups in Europe
The 2021 Forbes Under 30 Europe Social Impact list highlights Hellermark and 29 other up-and-coming superstars running purpose-driven companies. From reimagining education to fighting climate change, the Social Impact honorees are proof that the future is bright.On the forefront of that effort is Joel Hellermark’s Stockholm-based Sana Labs. Education has been standardized for mass production, but that has left it unengaging and ineffective. So Hellermark has raised over $20 million for its AI-powered personalized workforce education platform that adapts to the needs of each individual.
Italy’s tech scene has not quite taken off in recent years in the same way as other parts of Europe. Just $447m in VC money was invested into Italian startups last year, which was actually down from 2019 and a tenth of the investment that went into either France or Germany. Sifted spoke to three Italian VC funds to find out the most promising Italian startups.
Dublin-based Tines closed a $26 million Series B at a $300 million valuation, as the no-code automation company looks to double down on growth in North America. The new round was led by Addition and included investment from Accel and Blossom Capital, as well as strategic investment from the CrowdStrike Falcon Fund and Silicon Valley CISO Investments. The company says it has now raised a total of $41.1 million.
Startups around the world
Cairo-based venture capital firm Algebra Ventures has announced the launch of its second fund worth $90-million. The fund is dedicated to investing in startups in Egypt and the MEA region. The VC is reportedly targeting its first closing in the third quarter of 2021 and the fund is focused on investing in the following sectors; fintech, logistics, healthtech, and agritech.
Dunzo, India’s Google-backed delivery startup, plans to double the amount of capital it has raised to expand across the country and become a $1 billion revenue business over the next two years, Bloomberg reported on Friday (April 9). Dunzo, which is based in Bengaluru, has reportedly raised $140 million and hopes to get another $150 million in investments this year.
Mexican used-car platform Kavak has reached a $4 billion valuation after raising $485 million in new funding, it told Reuters this week, making the fast-expanding company one of the most highly valued startups in Latin America. Kavak, which was founded in 2016 and is backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, became Mexico’s first tech “unicorn” last October when it reported a valuation of more than $1 billion. The new capital injection will help Kavak, an online platform for buying and selling secondhand cars operating in Mexico and Argentina, launch in Brazil in the next couple of months, Chief Executive Carlos Garcia said.
Glints, a Singapore-based online recruitment startup, said on Tuesday it had raised $22.5 million from a group of investors led by Tokyo-listed staffing company Persol Holdings. Glints plans to expand its cross-border recruitment service amid growing demand for remote working following the COVID-19 outbreak. Persol Holdings — one of Japan’s largest temporary staffing companies — has been expanding across Asia through acquisitions. Persol said its strong corporate network combined with Glints’ technology can help solve the talent crunch in Southeast Asia.
Nvidia recently held its China annual CPU technology conference online, and its chief scientist Bill Dally introduced how Nvidia’s AI-accelerated processor technology can empower industries such as healthcare, driverless cars and robotics. According to Dally, Nvidia is considering building a research and development lab in China. He said that China had excellent universities and talent reserves, and they hoped to conduct technology research and development locally to serve the application in the local market.
According to information from the British official website of Samsung, the company has reached cooperation with TikTok, the overseas version of Douyin, and the two parties will launch an application for Samsung smart TV in Europe. It is said that the new application is specially developed for family watching experience, which allows users to watch contents they followed as well as popular stuff on TikTok.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, from January to October 2020, China’s software industry realized business revenue of CNY6.554 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 11.7%. The growth rate is 3.5 percentage points lower than that of the same period last year, and 0.4 percentage point higher than that of the first nine months of 2020.
Chinese VC firm Source Code Capital raises $1b for growth-stage investments. The amount would increase the firm’s capital under management to US$2.5 billion of US dollar-denominated funds and 8.8 billion yuan (US$1.34 billion) across its yuan-denominated investment vehicles, the company said. Source Code will continue making early- and growth-stage investments into B2B and B2C industries.
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group may allocate as much as 40% of its US$1.9 billion global fund to China as it begins investing there,” Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s new head for the country Daisy Cai. Cai, who previously served as partner for SoftBank Vision Fund, is set to run a team of roughly 10 professionals from Hong Kong to search for opportunities in health, fintech, and transportation, among others. The report comes less than a week after B Capital announced the close of its US$415 million fund, which aims to provide follow-on capital to its later-stage portfolio companies.
Startups in Israel
WhiteSource closed a $75 million Series D as the company looks to expand its product offering and at possible acquisition targets. The round was led by Pitango Growth, with participation from existing investors M12, Susquehanna Growth Equity and 83North. The Tel Aviv-based company — which has U.S. headquarters in Boston — now has raised a total $121.2 million in funding since being founded in 2011.
Israeli digital intelligence and forensics firm Cellebrite announced late last week that it entered into a definitive agreement with San Francisco-based SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) TWC Tech Holdings II Corp to go public on the Nasdaq at a valuation of approximately $2.4 billion post-merger. The company will trade under the new ticker symbol “CLBT.”
Israeli startup Talon Cyber Security, founded just this year, announced on Sunday that it secured $26 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Team8, serial entrepreneur Zohar Zisapel, and leading cybersecurity angel investors. Talon is developing cybersecurity solutions for a distributed workforce and the new category of threats posed by workforce flexibility. Seed funding rounds are typically finalized for much lower amounts, attesting to the unique solution Talon is offering and the strong belief in the founding entrepreneurial team, former service members in the IDF’s military tech intelligence unit 8200.
Israeli startup Trax, a computer vision-based firm transforming retail, has secured a $640 million Series E funding round, the company announced on Wednesday. The round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and technology-focused funds managed by existing investor BlackRock, Inc. This round of primary and secondary capital also saw participation from new investors including OMERS, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans, and Sony Innovation Fund by IGV.
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