Top startup news stories of 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look back at the top tech startup news stories of 2018. From startup acquisitions and failures to top leading technologies of the year. We look at startups in artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, blockchain, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency to smart homes and smart cities. Before we dive in, we also want to use this opportunity to thank our readers and audience for their support and for being part of our journey throughout 2018. According to our data, below are the most read and top tech startup news stories of 2018.
This may come as a surprise to many of our readers. However, according to page views and social shares, this article is the most shared article in 2018. The article was shared over 200,000 times on Facebook. The NASA’s thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft did what we thought was impossible. After 37 years of inactivity, NASA just received response from spacecraft 13 billion miles away, NASA said in a statement on its website. Voyager 1 is NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft. It was launched on September 5, 1977. Having operated for 40 years, 6 months and 14 days as of March 19, 2018, the spacecraft relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth.
On January 1, January 1, 2018, we reviewed the 10 hottest startups using blockchain technology. This is the second most read article on our site apart from Bitbounce (which was published in 2017). Included in the list is Ripple, a San Francisco California-based startup that offers a global real-time payment system that enables banks and financial institutions around the world to directly transact with each other without the need for a central correspondent. Also on the list is Blockchain.com, a London-based startup that provides web-based bitcoin platform that makes using bitcoin safe, easy, and secure for all consumers and businesses worldwide. Their mission is to re-imagine how the world transacts. They build innovative software that makes using Bitcoin safe, easy, and secure for all consumers and businesses anywhere in the world. You can read the rest of the startups here.
Over the years, AI has experienced several waves of optimism but it was also followed by series of unmet expectations, slow progress and disappointment. The disappointment comes from AI hypes. You can read more about AI marketing hypes. So what is AI? AI is the process of simulating human intelligence using machines, especially computer systems. The process includes learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. AI has many applications, including expert systems, speech recognition, machine vision and cancer research. AI use cases span could be used in any areas where automation and deep learning is needed. With these applications and advances, researchers at Stanford University believe AI is still it nascent stage. In an article titled: “Stanford-led artificial intelligence index tracks emerging field,” emeritus professor Yoav Shoham said: “In many ways, we are flying blind in our discussions about artificial Intelligence and lack the data we need to credibly evaluate activity.” Professor Shoham is not alone. Raymond Perrault, a scientist at SRI International, told the New York Times, “The public thinks we know how to do far more than we do now.” Facebook’s head of AI, Yann LeCun, said, “our most advanced AI systems are dumber than a rat.”
Apollo, the world’s first graphene battery power bank created by Electjet, a Plano-based startup, is the world’s first portable power pack using graphene composite battery and USB C PD technology. It supports up to charge at 60W, which means the battery with capacity of 6000mAh can be fully charged in 20 minutes or so if using the USB-C 60W Adapter. Graphene batteries have five times the energy density of the best Li-Ion battery. By using graphene composite material, Apollo offers better conductivity and less internal resistance, making it safer and less hot. With Apollo’s Ultra-Fast Graphene Power Pack, you can quickly charge your device in a matter of minutes. The company has raised a total of $121,104 USD on IndieGogo, that is 1202% of its funding goal. Apollo supports the Power Delivery 3 protocol. You don’t need to bring a separate adapter with you, because it is compatible with USB C power adapters of Nintendo Switch, Apple MacBook, Lenovo laptop,Dell laptop or HP laptop.
On September 28, we reported that China’s news-aggregation app Bytedance was seeking to raise $3 billion from SoftBank Group Corp. and private-equity firm KKR & Co at $75 billion valuation. On October 27, Bytedance, the owner of popular karaoke video app TikTok and huge Chinese news aggregator Toutiao, announced it has secured the $3 billion round of investment making from Japan’s SoftBank, making it the world’s most valuable startup. The new fund brings ByteDance’s value to $75 billion, which takes it past Uber’s most recent figure of $72 billion. ByteDance was founded by Yiming Zhang, a serial entrepreneur. After graduating from Nankai University, Zhang joined a Chinese search engine company that focused on flights and hotels called Kuxun. Kuxun was subsequently acquired by Tripadvisor.
Facial recognition is transforming every aspects of daily life in China. The underlying technology behind this facial recognition applications is Face++. The technology is currently used by more than 300,000 developers in 150 countries to identify faces, as well as images, text, and various kinds of government-issued IDs. However, Face++ is not the only facial recognition technology out there. A startup not well-known in the West is also using its facial recognition technology to help over 300 companies including China Mobile Communication Co, China UnionPay, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Xiaomi Inc. and JD.com. The startup is called SenseTime. Founded in 2014 byXiaolan Xu, SenseTime develops face recognition technology that can be applied to payment and picture analysis, which could be used on bank card verification and security systems and more. China’s SenseTime joins the “unicorn startup club” and is now the most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) startup in the world with new investment of US$600 million Series C round of funding. The startup is now valued at $4.5 billion. The current funding round is led by Alibaba Group with participation from Temasek and Suning. The new funding will be used to build SenseTime’s AI platform, advancing the company’s technological innovation and opening up new business opportunities.
E-bikes are gaining popularity these days and there are so many to choose from. The challenge for a lot of ebike shoppers is finding the best and most reliable smart ebike at an affordable price. Meet Nireeka! Nireeka is the smartest carbon-framed electric mountain bike, packed with mind blowing options and all the bells and whistles at an affordable price. It is the best ebike for the budget under $1,000. Nireeka is a brainchild of Iranian-born designer, Mohammed “Max” Shojaie. Max is not new to the bike world. Back in 2o10, he developed a two-wheel-drive concept motorcycle, called Ostoure. Ostoure means “legend” in Persian. Nireeka’s team goal is to let all people enjoy riding a smart electric bicycle by offering the most affordable carbon fiber electric bicycle in the world! Nireeka team claims it’s done over 5,000 miles of testing on its prototype bikes. The pre-order, which is already sold out on IndieGogo, starts at $199. Nireeka has already $230,185 USD raised by 338 backers, that is 658% of $35,000 flexible goal.
Theranos, a privately held health technology founded in 2003 by then-19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, finally shuts down. Yesterday, Theranos announced in an email to investors that it would cease operations and release its assets and remaining cash to creditors. Most of the company’s employees worked their last days on the previous Friday, August 31, with CEO David Taylor and a few support staff remaining on payroll for a few more days. The Wall Street Journal reported that any equity investments in the company were made worthless by the shutdown. Theranos is known for its false claims to have devised blood tests that only needed very small amounts of blood. Since founded in 2003, Theranos raised more than US$700 million from venture capitalists and private investors, putting the blood testing startup at $10 billion valuation at its peak in 2013 and 2014. But what goes up must come down. Investors and the media hyped Theranos as a breakthrough in the large blood-testing market, where the US diagnostic-lab industry posts annual sales of over $70 billion. Theranos claimed its technology was revolutionary and that its tests required only about 1/100 to 1/1,000 of the amount of blood that would ordinarily be needed and cost far less than existing tests.
Say byebye to JPEG and hello to Tampermonkey AI boosts, a smarter camera, and mobile gaming. Just about a year ago, Qualcomm announced system-on-a-chip (SoC) Snapdragon 845. It has the 10-nanometer manufacturing process as other products in the 800 series but introduced a new processor architecture designed for better battery life, photography, and for use with artificial intelligence apps. Snapdragon 845 is the brain behind Qualcomm’s flagship smartphones like the Google Pixel 3, the U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy S9, OnePlus phones, and others. The Snapdragon 845 comes paired with an impressive GPU, the Adreno 630.
After successful launch of Snapdragon 845, today Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform to usher the world into a new era of experiences and apps built-on 5G, AI, and XR technologies. The tech giant made the formal announcement during the second day of the annual Snapdragon Technology Summit held in Maui, Hawaii. Unlike its predecessor, the Snapdragon 8 Series Mobile Platform is the first to provide premium mobile experiences built on 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and extended reality (XR)—delivering worldwide connectivity, unimaginable performance, exceptionally powerful AI, future-forward photography, and breakthrough immersive entertainment. , and Expected to Support Premium Multi-Gigabit Smartphones in the first half of 2019.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency just unveiled the world’s first “artificial intelligence (AI) anchor” that can talk, move, and act like a real human news anchor. The “English AI Anchor” debuted Thursday at the World Internet Conference in the country’s eastern Zhejiang Province. The “AI anchor” was modeled on the agency’s Zhang Zhao presenter. It learns from live videos and is able to work 24 hours a day, reporting via social media and on the Xinhua website. “‘He’ learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor,” the company said in an online statement. In a statement posted on Twitter, the agency tweeted: “Xinhua’s first English #AI anchor makes debut at the World Internet Conference that opens in Wuzhen, China Wednesday.” In the same tweet, the agency said: “World’s first #AI news anchor debuts, jointly developed by Xinhua and Chinese search engine company http://Sogou.com . http://xhne.ws/FFF06.”
Autocad giant, Autodesk, acquired the Google and Sequoia-backed construction-startup PlanGrid for $875 million. The acquisition will enable Autodesk to offer a more comprehensive, cloud-based construction platform. The San Francisco, CA-based startup was backed by investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund and waslast valued at $419 million in a 2015 Series B. The transaction is expected to close sometime in AutoDesk’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ends Jan. 31, 2019.
PlanGrid was founded in 2011 by Kenny Stone, Ralph Gootee, Ryan Sutton-Gee, and Tracy Young. Its cloud-based construction productivity software helps owners, general contractors, subcontractors in commercial, heavy civil and other industries collaborate throughout the construction project lifecycle.
SAP acquired survey software maker startup Qualtrics for $8 billion.
SAP, the German software maker, is acquiring survey startup Qualtrics for $8 billion in an all-cash deal. The announcement came just before Qualtrics planned IPO. Qualtrics is a software maker which competes with SurveyMonkey in the survey software market. Qualtrics is a competitor of SurveyMonkey. However, Qualtrics has a much richer feature set than SurveyMonkey. Qualtrics has grown faster over the years and also more profitable. SAP said in a statement on Sunday that deal has already been approved by the boards of both companies and by Qualtrics shareholders.
Founded in 2002 by Jared Smith, Ryan Smith, and Stuart Orgill, Qualtrics is the technology platform that organizations use to collect, manage, and act on experience data, also called X-data. The Qualtrics XM Platform is a system of action, used by teams, departments, and entire organizations to manage the four core experiences of business—customer, product, employee and brand—on one platform.
Viva Republica, maker of financial services mobile app Toss and provider of the simplest P2P mobile payments platform in Korea, has raised a $80 million round of funding at a $1.2 billion valuation to become a unicorn startup. The latest round was led byKleiner Perkins, an investor in tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Twitter, and Ribbit Capital, a VC with a sole focus on fintech investments, including portfolio companies such as Coinbase, Robinhood, and Credit Karma. Other investors include: Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Ventures. The $80 million round brings the total funding raised by Viva Republica to nearly $200 million. The latest capital will be used to establish a securities brokerage business and also expand its presence across Southeast Asia.
About 40,000 people are killed in car crashes in the U.S. every year. That’s an average of 102 deaths every day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Zoox, a new Silicon Valley-based robotics startup pioneering autonomous mobility as-a-service, aims to revolutionize transportation safety with self-driving vehicles. The startup has raised an astonishing $800 million to date, including $500 million in early July at a valuation of $3.2 billion. Zoox was founded in 2014 by Tim Kentley-Klay, an Australian native, and Dr. Jesse Levinson, the coveted Stanford computer scientist, to create autonomous mobility. Operating at the intersection of design, computer science, and electro-mechanical engineering, Zoox is a multidisciplinary team working to imagine and build an advanced mobility experience that will support the future needs of urban mobility for both people and the environment.
Self-driving car startup AutoX launches the first-ever autonomous grocery delivery in Bay Area.
After two years of hard work and innovation, the self-driving car startup AutoX, is finally launching a grocery delivery and mobile store pilot in San Jose, California. Arriving in time for the autumn harvest produce season, the new amenity will be available to customers in geo-fenced areas throughout the city. With the new launch, Bay Area residents can now order and receive fresh produce and other goods, which will be delivered by AutoX’s self-driving cars. AutoX’s grocery delivery and mobile store pilot will roll out in two phases: the first pilot is in San Jose, with phase two expanding the pilot west to Mountain View and Palo Alto, with more delivery partners joining soon.
AutoX is creating a full-stack A.I. software solution for self-driving vehicles to achieve level 5 full autonomy. The company started in 2016, founded by Jianxiong Xiao, known as “Professor X”. When Dr. Xiao (Professor X) founded AutoX, he had a mission for the company to democratize autonomy (refer to our First Blog post, and the MIT TR35 speech given by Professor X).
Online pharmacy startup, PillPack, is currently in talks to be acquired by Walmart for under $1 billion, according to the latest report from CNBC, citing, two sources familiar with the matter.”We are often asked to speculate on possible acquisitions and we simply don’t comment on those types of questions,” A Walmart spokesperson told CNBC. PillPack is an online pharmacy that was founded in 2013 by Brian Hoffer, Elliot Cohen and TJ Parker. The startup has raised a total of $117.8 million based on publicly available funding data.
The startup offers a modern technology-based system that helps people take timely medication.They fill, sort, and deliver all your medications in personalized packets based on when you need to take them. Their service helps you take the right meds at the right time, every time. Their vision is to make managing medications simple.
Ubenwa is a Nigerian Artificial Intelligence (AI) health startup that is saving newborn lives by enabling quick and cost-effective diagnosis of birth asphyxia from infant cry. Birth Asphyxia, meaning lack of oxygen, is one of the top 3 causes of infant mortality in the world, causing the death of about 1.2 million infants and severe life-long disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, deafness, and paralysis) to an equal number annually. Ubenwa (means the cry of a child in Igbo language) is a response to the pressing need for affordable and effective medical tools/devices that can help tackle the high rate of neonatal morbidity and mortality globally. The United Nations said: “If newborns who have asphyxia can be detected early enough, we may be able to save their lives.” However, the current early detection methods are hardly possible due to cost of existing medical equipment and logistical issues (electricity, skill personnel, etc) peculiar to low-resource settings.
With its LaneCruise self-driving add-on kit, the Canadian startup, X-Matik will be the first company to bring self-driving technology to older cars. Founded in February of 2016, X-Matik enables everyone to enjoy hands-free highway cruising and stress free bumper-to-bumper traffic driving without the need to buy a new car. The add-on kit provides three redundant methods of disengagement which puts you in control and ensure you are always safe.
For under $3000,anyone can turn a car into a self-driving car. The beta kit takes about and hour to install and will include an LCD interface, a camera and actuators on the floor pedals. X-Matik puts driver’s safety at the fore front of their design. The add-on kit includes: dual Cam vision system that detects everything that’s important for driving.
Nommi is the world’s first mobile router that is both useful at home and abroad and doesn’t look boring! The router comes with a combination of LTE hotspot, virtual sim technology and dual wifi allows a seamless connectivity experience around the world. Nommi currently offers high quality, global connection for all travel lovers in over 100 countries. As of writing, the campaign has raised $40,443 USD raised from 434 backers on IndieGogo from 300 backers. That is 162% of $25,000 of their target goal. Nommi was co-founded by Alyona Tkachenko. She has over seven years of experience in corporate segment, with focus on eCom/digital. She works on popularizing of STEM among women. Nommi is an LTE hotspot with virtual SIM technology and dual wifi for seamless global internet access. Nommi is the world’s first mobile router that is both useful at home and abroad and doesn’t look boring!