Money Management Firms Surpass VCs in Funding Startups

In Q2 of this year, large money-management companies including hedge funds, mutual funds, pensions and sovereign-wealth groups became bigger players in Silicon Valley than venture capitalists with regard to startups. According to PitchBook Data, these nontraditional funders took part in 42 percent of startup financing deals, forming more than 75 percent of the invested capital. PitchBook added that, in the first half of 2021, investment in U.S. startups reached $150 billion, more than funding in every year prior to 2020. Continue reading Money Management Firms Surpass VCs in Funding Startups

Warrant Deals Can Result in Amazon Buying Stock in Vendors

According to corporate filings and information from sources, Amazon has inked “at least a dozen deals” in which publicly traded companies win Amazon as a client for their goods in exchange for so-called warrants, which allows the Big Tech company to buy stock at potentially below-market prices. Over the last 10 years, Amazon has struck 75+ such deals with privately held companies, said one source. Amazon’s stakes in these deals equal “billions of dollars,” in businesses that range from call centers to natural gas providers. Continue reading Warrant Deals Can Result in Amazon Buying Stock in Vendors

Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, some tech companies, investors and venture capital firms are relocating to cities with lower costs and less traffic. Oracle is pulling up stakes in Redwood City, California and heading to Austin, Texas, saying it plans to implement remote-work policies. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving its headquarters to Houston, Texas, where Elon Musk, long a Los Angeleno, has also moved. Although the reasons for leaving vary, many relocations seem to have been triggered by rising costs and the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

As part of ongoing security concerns focused on technology, the Trump administration is now re-examining investments in U.S. tech startups by Chinese and other foreign groups, even investments that are years old. Heading the investigation is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which, after gathering information, can decide whether to probe specific deals more deeply and even demand that the foreign investor divest. The probe is based on the government’s belief that the United States did not sufficiently scrutinize these investments from China and other countries. Continue reading Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

This week, big tech companies such as IBM and Intel will report quarterly earnings, followed by Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft next week. Some companies — such as Amazon, Intel, Micron Technology and Microsoft — are doing well, even growing, whereas Facebook and Alphabet deal with a dramatic plunge in advertising. Even Apple issued a “rare profit warning.” The pandemic is hitting startups particularly hard, as venture capital money dries up and they are forced to lay off staff. Continue reading Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence is increasingly embedded into devices and experiences, the problem of racial and gender bias has become apparent, in several embarrassing and disturbing incidents. The industry has paid attention to studying how bias is introduced — often via the underlying data — and how to fix it. Former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, now at MLC Strategies, led a discussion with Helloalice.com president Elizabeth Gore and Uber head of inclusive engagement Bernard Coleman on the topic. Continue reading CES Panel Examines Problem of Bias in Artificial Intelligence

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

SoftBank Group changed technology venture capital when it launched the Vision Fund in May 2017, by setting $100 million as the minimum investment. Since then, the Vision Fund, which raised almost $100 billion, has invested in Uber Technologies, Didi Chuxing Technology and other startups. Now, the Japanese company is debuting Vision Fund 2 and jumpstarting it with its own $38 billion investment. The fund, which will focus on artificial intelligence, has already drawn investment commitments from Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

A growing number of venture capital and technology executives are pushing for a code of ethics for artificial intelligence startups, as well as tools to make algorithms’ decision-making process more transparent and best practices that include open, consistent communication. At Google, chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov believes humans can fix AI problems. But the technology is still under intense scrutiny from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of San Francisco and the European Commission, among others. Continue reading Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook, Telegram and Signal plan to utilize their messaging services as platforms to launch new cryptocurrencies over the next year. Their virtual currencies will allow users to send money to contacts around the world via the messaging services. According to inside sources, Facebook has been secretly working on a coin for WhatsApp that users could “instantly” send to friends or family. Facebook’s WhatsApp project is developed to the point that the company is already in discussions with cryptocurrency exchanges. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

Shelley Zalis, chief executive of The Female Quotient, dubs herself a chief disruptor in many roles in her life, making her the ideal person to speak with a panel of like-minded innovators and disruptors at CES 2019. They included John Padgett, chief experience and innovation operator at Carnival Corporation; Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital; and Patrick Brown, founder/chief executive of Impossible Foods. They all had tales to tell about their challenging roads to success. Continue reading CES Panel: Innovators/Disruptors Discuss Paths to Success

Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

A group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists believe blockchain can be used with artificial intelligence to create an open marketplace and thus speed development of AI projects. University of California computer science professor Dawn Song and Hanson Robotics chief scientist Ben Goertzel are among the group that wager adoption of blockchain would create a wider distribution of data and algorithms. That would democratize the development of AI beyond the handful of large companies currently dominating the field. Continue reading Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

As Google and Facebook lock up their dominance over advertising dollars, smaller ad tech companies are withering. In 2015, according to CB Insights, venture capital financing for these smaller companies peaked at $2.92 billion. This year, the total dollars going to these firms is slated to be half of that number. As a result, the number of smaller independent firms is diminishing, plummeting 21 percent since 2013. LUMA Partners reported that, by Q2 2018, there were only 185 such companies left. Continue reading Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms