Startup Monday: 10 news to follow this week in the global startup ecosystem (Issue 42–30 May 2021)


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Ten news to follow this week in the global startup ecosystem

1. Goldman Sachs leads $45M investment into auto fintech startup MotoRefi.

MotoRefi has raised another $45 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs just five months after investors poured $10 million into the fintech startup to help turbocharge its auto refinancing business.

The startup developed an auto refinancing platform that handles the entire loan process, including finding the best rates, paying off the old lender and re-titling the vehicle. MotoRefi says using its platform saves consumers an average of $100 a month on their car payments, a goal achieved partly because it works directly with lending institutions. The company’s refinancing tools had seen steady growth until the COVID-19 pandemic popped into in higher gear. CEO Kevin Bennett said MotoRefi is on track to issue $1 billion in loans by the end of the year, a fivefold increase from the same period last year.

2. Cryptocurrency startup Circle has raised $440 million in new funding, the company said Friday, adding to the list of crypto-focused businesses that have benefited from a bull run by investors.

Participants in the latest financing included financial giant Fidelity and the fast-rising cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Digital Currency Group, which owns Grayscale Investments, maintainer of a popular Bitcoin investment trust, and also owns the crypto blog Coindesk, contributed too.

The latest funding comes amid a huge appetite for crypto companies, led by the market debut of Coinbase, America’s biggest crypto exchange. Today, it has a $50 billion market capitalization with its stock trading at $237 per share, down from its opening day reference price of $250 per share.

3. Brazilian proptech startup QuintoAndar lands $300M at a $4B valuation

Fintech and proptech are two sectors that are seeing exploding growth in Latin America, as financial services and real estate are two categories in particular dire need of innovation in a region.

Brazil’s QuintoAndar, which has developed a real estate marketplace focused on rentals and sales, has seen impressive growth in recent years. Last week, the São Paulo-based proptech has announced it has closed on $300 million in a Series E round of funding that values it at an impressive $4 billion.

4. OpenAI Launches $100M AI Startup Fund to Propel New Ideas in AI 

OpenAI, the research company behind the GPT-3 natural language generator, has unveiled a $100 million AI startup fund that will provide investment money to startups that are driving intriguing AI technologies.

The fund, which was announced May 26 (Wednesday) at the Microsoft Build virtual developers conference, includes investment money from Microsoft, which already has a deep relationship with OpenAI, and from other partners, the company said in a statement.

The $100 million fund is slated to help a small number of early-stage startups in fields where artificial intelligence can have a transformative effect, including healthcare, climate change, education and in areas where AI tools can empower people by helping them be more productive using personal assistants and semantic search, the company said.

5. Tesla aspires to become a robotics firm in Artificial Intelligence

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that the company is no longer just a manufacturer of electric cars, but that they are currently dabbling in artificial intelligence with the development of one of the strongest hardware and software AI teams in the world. world .

“The software that existed to solve the problem of autonomous driving was really quite primitive, so we built a team from scratch and have been developing what we believe is probably the most advanced artificial intelligence in the real world,” revealed the Tech leader to analysts during the call to release Tesla’s financial status for the first quarter of 2021.

6. AI analog chip startup Mythic raises $70 Million

Mythic, a startup making artificial intelligence chips for use in gadgets such as smart home devices or security cameras, on Tuesday said it raised $70 million in its latest round of funding.

The Redwood City, California-based chip maker started in 2012, uses analog technology for its chips rather than digital. Digital chips store and process data in 1s and 0s, while analog chips can process wave forms such as speech or video and are used to digitize speech and video into 1s and 0s.

“What it really does is allows us to get essentially GPU levels of performance — those big book sized cards burning one hundred watts and costing $4,000 dollars,” said Mike Henry, co-founder and CEO of Mythic.

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7. Indian startups raised $7.8 billion in first four months of 2021

Risk investors continue to pump in record funds into new-age emerging businesses in the country even as the overall macroeconomic activity has taken a hit amid a severe second wave of Covid-19.

Indian startups raised total investments of $7.8 billion in the first four months of this calendar year, which is almost 70% of the overall corpus of $12.1 billion raised in entire 2020 and more than 50% of $14.2 billion raised in 2019, data from US-based research firm PitchBook shows.

With market leaders now considering public listing either through initial public offerings (IPOs) or special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), investors are getting attractive exit routes, which in turn is attracting even more investors both local and global.

Zomato, PolicyBazaar, CarTrade, Nykaa, Flipkart, and Delhivery are among startups headed for listing.

8. Startups are struggling to overcome EU bureaucracy: Digital Future for Europe

A recent survey conducted by the members of Digital Future for Europe found that new online businesses are already struggling to overcome layers of EU bureaucracy. The survey also reveals the impact of Covid and other challenges faced by these businesses.

Digital Future for Europe is a coalition of more than 100 startups, scaleups, and tech associations from across the “Digital 9” nations that have come together to embed a positive, ambitious, and innovative digital agenda for the whole of Europe. The “Digital 9” countries include the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Ireland, and the UK.

9. Moglix, an industrial business-to-business marketplace in India, announce last week it has raised $120 million in a new financing round at $1 billion valuation, becoming the 13th firm from the world’s second largest market to attain the unicorn status this year.

“We started six years ago with a firm belief in the untapped potential of the Indian manufacturing sector. We had the trust of stalwarts like Ratan Tata, and a mission to enable the creation of a $1 trillion manufacturing economy in India. Today, as we enter the next stage of our evolution, we feel this financing milestone is a testimony to our journey of innovation and disruption,” said Rahul Garg, founder and chief executive of Moglix, in a statement.

10. BMW Startup Garage China opens Joint Innovation Base with Alibaba Cloud in Shanghai

The Joint Innovation Base (officially named “Alibaba Cloud Innovation Center – BMW Startup Garage Joint Innovation Base”) started operations yesterday in the Shanghai Jinqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone. With this project, BMW and Alibaba will harness their respective strengths and resources in order to empower Chinese tech startups for scaling up their innovations. The focus of the startups in the Joint Innovation Base will be on innovative products, solutions and services bridging between internet, internet of things (IoT) and the automotive industry.

Jochen Goller, President and CEO of BMW Group Region China, said: “Having become a global innovation power house, China is providing an ever expanding playing field for start-up companies especially in science and technology. In this context, BMW Group is also scaling up its digital footprint in China as well as accelerating our transformation towards electrification. We will continue to deepen our collaboration with both established Chinese tech players as well as skilled new talents to foster their respective strength on innovation.”

In three years the Joint Innovation Base will provide no less than 300 companies with advanced cloud computing infrastructure from Alibaba, access to BMW experts and BMW business units via the BMW Startup Garage. The BMW Startup Garage aims to scout high-potential startups to match their innovative solutions with the BMW Group’s needs. It is positioned as the gateway for startups to the auto industry linking the BMW Group with cutting-edge outside-in technologies.

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