Top tech startup news stories you need to know this Friday, July 20
Good morning! Here are some of the top tech startup news stories for today, Friday, July 20.
Google’s Loon is partnering with Telkom Kenya to bring 4G to remote areas of Kenya, via balloon. Loon, a subsidiary of Google-parent company Alphabet, is partnering with Telkom Kenya to deliver internet access to Kenya. Loon is launching a pilot scheme to bring 4G access to remote areas of Kenya via a network of giant balloons. The venture is Loon’s first commercial service in Africa. Originally known as Project Loon, the technology behind the internet balloons was developed under parent company Alphabet’s experimental division, X. Project Loon balloons travel approximately 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are stratified, and each layer of wind varies in speed and direction. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction.
Self-driving car startup Voyage hires ex-Tesla, Cruise, Otto and Uber executive as CTO. Voyage, the autonomous driving startup that currently operates self-driving cars in retirement communities, has hired Drew Gray as its first CTO. In a news release on its site, the company said: “it’s easy to see why we wanted Drew to work here at Voyage. He embodies the mentality of a teacher, something absolutely crucial in a CTO. Not only did Drew lead by doing, he also made sure everyone learned something along the way.” Before joining Voyage, Gray led major engineering initiatives at places like Tesla, Cruise, Otto, and Uber ATG.
Walmart is working on launching subscription video service through Vudu in fourth quarter. Walmart is known to many as the largest retailer in the world but not for its technology startup efforts. The company has acquired a dozen of startups and its about to get into a new subscription-video streaming service through its Vudu digital-entertainment division, according to a report by Variety Magazine. Citing people familiar with the matter, the sources told Variety that the service is set to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2018. The new service will further heat up the competition between the retail giant and Amazon, if the subscription video-on-demand service happens.
AI startup AnyVision raises $28 million in funding for its body and facial recognition technology. Tel-Aviv, Israel-based AnyVision is an AI startup that has developed an authentication and onboarding software that harnesses the power of our deep learning platform. AnyVision’s object-recognition software works when deployed on most types of security cameras and does not require highly sophisticated sensors to operate, according to the company. The company announced today that it has closed a $28 million Series A funding round led by Bosch. The quickly growing company already has 130 employees and has plans to open up three new offices by the year’s end. In June, Bosch acquired a nine percent stake in the startup, which provides artificial intelligence (AI)-based person- and object-recognition technology.
Luxury vacation startup Secret Escapes raises $67 million. Secret Escapes, a flash-sales site for luxury vacation deals, has raised $67 million to expand its use of dynamic packaging by letting shoppers pick the exact flight or hotel they want from a menu rather than a pre-set bundle. The funding was led by Old Mutual Global Investors. Last October, the 9-year old Secret Escapes had a Series D and debt facility round of investment, led by Temasek, for $111 million. The startup has secured $153 million in capital since its founding in 2009. The startup claims to be profitable and has 50 million members of its free-to-join website.