Top tech startup news for Monday, February 6, 2023: Cohere, Dell, Microsoft, Oracle, Peer, and ShiftMed
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for today, Monday, February 6, 2023.
Tech giants to invest more than $9 billion in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom tries to pivot from Big Oil to Big Tech
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has scooped up several billion dollars in investments from major tech companies as the country attempts to pivot from oil to technology.
According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia has attracted more than $9 billion in investments in future technologies, from U.S. tech giants including Microsoft and Oracle, which are building cloud regions in the kingdom, Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said on Monday at LEAP, an international technology conference that began today in Riyadh.
For example, both Microsoft and Oracle are pouring billions of dollars into the country, with Oracle investing $1.5 billion, Microsoft forking over $2.1 billion and Huawei, a Chinese tech company, also reportedly investing $400 million in cloud infrastructure for its services in Saudi Arabia and another cloud region in partnership with oil giant Aramco
“The investments… will enhance the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa,” Alswaha said at the LEAP Conference.
While Alswaha didn’t give a timeframe for the investments, Oracle told Reuters the investment will be made over several years. Saudi’s request to tech giants to invest in the country finally paid off. Saudi officials have been asking international companies to invest in the country and move their regional headquarters to Riyadh in order to benefit from government contracts.
HealthTech startup ShiftMed raises $200 million in funding to connect hospitals & nursing facilities to licensed nurses
The demand for healthcare workers continues to rise with no signs of slowing down. As Americans live longer and Baby Boomers get older, more doctors and nurses will be needed to care for these groups. According to America Hospital Association, America will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2033 and will need to hire at least 200,000 nurses per year to meet increased demand and to replace retiring nurses.”
This rising demand has led to healthcare providers continuing to struggle to gain access to credentialed workers. Now, one health-tech startup is on a mission to address this problem.
Enter ShiftMed, an healthcare workforce management marketplace that connects providers with qualified healthcare professionals. ShiftMed provides access to a local marketplace with more than 350,000 credentialed W-2 healthcare workers and an automated workforce management platform that uniquely enables acute, post-acute, and in-home providers to manage their resources dynamically.
To further expand its footprint in the healthcare labor marketplace, ShiftMed announced today it has raised $200 million in funding led by healthcare investors, Panoramic Ventures with participation from Blue Heron Capital and Audacious Capital. Funds will be used to expand ShiftMed’s national footprint across all segments of the Healthcare market.
“Healthcare providers continue to struggle with access to credentialed workers as patient needs and volume continues to rise,” said Todd Walrath, CEO of ShiftMed. “ShiftMed is positioned to provide health systems with a regulatory compliant W-2 solution that leverages local and part-time resources.”
Founded in 2019 by Todd Walrath, ShiftMed is a next-generation workforce management platform that connects hospitals, assisted living providers, and skilled nursing facilities to the highest quantity and quality of licensed nurses (CNAs, LPNs, and RNs). ShiftMed is currently the #1 nursing jobs mobile app on the App Store with over 350,000 nursing professionals.
Peer, a 3D social network startup, has hired an elite team of engineers popularly known in the tech circle as “Wonka.” The team was responsible for developing Zenly’s Innovative 3D social maps, a platform that has grown to more than 160 million downloads, with more than 35 million daily active users in 2022.
The new engineers will complement the existing Peer team credited with developing the technical innovations behind hardware, software, and services at some of the world’s largest and most future-forward companies.
Commenting on the hiring, Tony Tran, Founder & CEO of Peer Inc, said: “Zenly users adored its polished and delightful features. We’re huge fans as well, and we look forward to working with the Wonka team to recreate that magic and take it to the next level.”
The acquisition will enable Peer to quickly fast-track the development of its gamified social network, “Peer.” The highly anticipated app will be available on both iOS and Android in Q2 2023.
Founded by former engineers from Meta, Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Zenly, Magic Leap, Intel, Industrial Light, and Magic, CafePress, and Snap, Peer is a 3D social network that lets you create your own world. In a statement on the company’s website, Tony noted that he created Peer with a single aim—”to move the world forward. He envisions a future where the internet is a seamlessly integrated presence in our environment that enhances and enriches our daily lives.”
AI startup Cohere in talks to raise funding at $6 billion-plus valuation as race for regenerative AI heats up
Cohere, an AI foundation model tech startup and OpenAI competitor, is in talks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in a funding round that could push the Toronto-based tech startup to more than $6 billion, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the ongoing talks.
The announcement comes following the sudden success of ChatGPT, an OpenAI dialogue-based AI chatbot that reached 100 million monthly active users in January just two months after launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history.
Cohere was founded in 2019 by former Google Alphabet researchers Aidan Gomez, Ivan Zhang, and Nick Frosst to harness the power of language understanding to generate, categorize and organize text at a scale that was previously unimaginable. According to investors, the startup has quickly risen through the AI startup ranks given its intensive research background and close ties to Google.
In an interview with Reuters, CEO Aidan Gomez said that the company is planning to introduce its own dialogue model that would resemble ChatGPT to let corporate users generate text and engage with the model to refine the output. However, unlike ChatGPT, Cohere’s AI technology will mainly be accessible to developers and businesses.
Dell becomes the latest company to lay off thousands of employees. Today, the computer maker announced it is cutting about 6,650 jobs, or 5% of its global workforce amid what it describes as amid ‘uncertain market future.’ The company has been struggling in recent months due to a slump in the personal computer (PC) market caused by the global economic slowdown and a looming recession.
Dell had introduced several cut-cutting measures including a hiring freeze and limits on travel as the company dealt with a post-pandemic collapse in PC sales, which account for more than half of its revenue.
In a memo to employees, co-Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke said that these measures are “no longer enough.” He also added: “What we know is market conditions continue to erode with an uncertain future.”
Commenting on Dell’s layoff report, Susannah Streeter, a markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “It was only a matter of time before the wave of tech layoffs reached Dell’s shores, given how sensitive the company is to both consumer and corporate confidence.”
Dell now joins a list of other tech companies that have announced layoffs in recent weeks including Autodesk, PayPal, and Salesforce. In January, Microsoft also said it would lay off 10,000 jobs instead of the 11,000 reported by major news outlets. In addition to the layoff, the Redmond-based company also said that it would take a $1.2-billion charge as its cloud-computing customers dissect their spending and the company braces for a potential recession. The layoff is far larger than the 1,000 job cuts the company announced back in October 2020.