Top startup news for today, Monday, March 11, 2019
Good morning! Here are some of the top technology startup news stories for today, Monday, March 11.
Sam Altman to step aside as president of startup incubator Y Combinator to become chairman and work more with AI research group. Sam Altman is stepping aside as president of Y Combinator, the most popular Silicon Valley accelerator that has spawned some 1,900 startup companies. In a blog post on Friday, Y Combinator said, “Sam is transitioning to Chairman of YC and has shifted his operational responsibilities at YC to other partners.” The change will allow Sam to spend more time focusing on OpenAI while still being responsible, along with the rest of the partnership, for the long-term social and economic success of YC.
Tesla backtracks on its plans to close store, will raise car prices in push for profitability. Last week, we told you about Tesla’s plan to close all of its retail stores in the United States and provide only-online sales option. Now, Tesla is walking back on its plan to close all of its stores in the United States. The company said on Sunday as it raises prices in a push to generate before the end of the year. In a blog post titled: “Update on Tesla Stores and Pricing,” Tesla said, it would now be closing only about half as many stores than initially planned as the company continues to evaluate them over the course of several months.
Israeli startup Brodmann17 raises $11 million Series A to provide revolutionary deep-learning vision software for embedded devices. Brodmann17 has raised a $11 million Series A funding to expand partnerships, accelerate integration of its deep learning solution hardware-agnostic computer vision software to prevent road collisions, and continue its mission to put efficient, powerful automated driving capabilities in every vehicle. The backers for the latest round include both new and existing investors, including OurCrowd, who led the round, Maniv Mobility, AI Alliance, LLC, UL Ventures, Samsung NEXT, lool ventures, and Sony Innovation Fund. With the funding, Brodmann17 will expand partnerships, accelerate integration of its deep learning solution with customers, and continue its mission to put efficient, powerful automated driving capabilities in every vehicle.
Nvidia to buy Israel’s Mellanox for $6.8 billion in a move to expand into data center business. Nvidia, a global chipmaker company is buying Israeli chip designer Mellanox Technologies for $6.8 billion in cash. The deal, which is Nvidia’s biggest-ever acquisition, will help the company to boost its data center business. In a competitive bid, Nvidia was able to outbid its rivaval, Intel. Founded in 1999, the Israel and the United States-based Mellanox is a semiconductor that makes chips and other hardware for data center servers that power cloud computing.
Linius to demonstrate world’s first virtual video blockchain prototype in live webinar. Linius, a blockchain cloud-based startup that transforms static video into hyper-personalized video experiences with its patented Video Virtualization Engine, is showcasing the world’s first virtual video blockchain in a live webinar, on Wednesday, March 20. Founded in 2011, Linius has invented & patented the Video Virtualization Engine (VVE). It’s the first company to develop technology to expose data that makes up the video file, and control the content within.
Fintech startup Knox Financial raises $1.4 million in Seed funding. Knox Financial, a Boston, MA-based fintech company focused on making investment property ownership accessible, raised $1.4m in seed funding to continue to expand its business reach. The names of the investors were not disclosed. Co-founded by CEO, David Friedman, and Spencer Taylor (COO), Knox Financial is offering an investment alternative for Boston-area homeowners who would typically sell their home when they move, allowing them to continue to build wealth and generate income from their properties without taking on the burdens of being a landlord. Knox provides a smart and frictionless way to turn current home into an investment property delivering passive income while empowering lifestyle freedom and superior wealth creation.
Appen to acquire Figure Eight, for around $300 million. Appen, an Australia-based AI startup for human-annotated datasets for machine learning and AI, is acquiring Figure Eight (previously known as CrowdFlower), a San Francisco, CA-based machine learning software platform which uses highly automated tools to transform unlabeled text, image, audio, and video data into high-quality AI training data. As part of the deal, Appen will pay USD $175M up-front and an additional payment of up to $125M in 2020 based on 2019 performance. Founded in in 2007 by Lukas Biewald, Figure Eight combines human and machine intelligence to provide high-quality annotated training data that powers innovative machine learning and business solutions.
Google is offering in-app rewards to users to help app developers monetize non-paying users. As part of its plan to help Android app developers monetize their non-paying users, last week, Google announced a plan to offer in-app rewards. As part of the plan, Google will reward users for a monetizable action, like watching a video, with in-game currency or other benefits. It is a win-win plan in that the in-app reward also gives users more choice in how they experience the app or game, and has been an effective way to monetize non-paying users.
Emotional fitness app startup Fika lands about $1 million in funding to accelerate expansion. Fika, an healthtech startup on a mission to mainstream Emotional Fitness by bringing the positive healthy habit of emotional exercise to the world, has raised about $1 million for its app to fuel expansion. Founded in 2018 by Nick Bennett and Gareth Fryer, the London-based Fika was the app-based “emotional fitness tool” that combines cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with positive psychology to provide users with goal-focused objectives and five-minute exercises to improve mental well being.
Microsoft launches AI Business School aimed at helping business leaders. The era of artificial intelligence is upon us. Today, Microsoft announced the launch of its AI Business School. According to its website, the school is designed as a master class series with case studies and free instructional videos aimed at business leaders to successfully implement an AI strategy within their organization and get results from AI. The Microsoft AI Business School is culmination of a three-year conversations with customers.
Mastercard to acquire money transfer network company Transfast for an undisclosed amount. Mastercard, the global payment technology company, is acquiring Transfast, a NYC-based provider of a cross-border account-to-account money transfer network for undisclosed amount. The acquisition – which is anticipated to close in the second half of 2019, is subject to customary closing conditions – will allow Mastercard to advance cross-border capabilities. Transfast will complement Mastercard’s wide range of payment solutions by increasing worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account space, enhancing compliance capabilities and offering foreign exchange tools.