Top tech startup news for Tuesday, February 7, 2023: Breef, Coinbase, eBay, Microsoft, MindsDB, and Wisor
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for today, Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
eBay to lay off 500 employees or about 4% of its total workforce
E-commerce giant eBay announced Tuesday it will lay off 500 employees globally, or about 4% of its total workforce. The announcement is the latest in a series of job cuts in the tech industry. Today, Zoom announced it plans lay off 15% of its workforce, or about 1,300 employees.
Yesterday Dell announced plans to lay off 6,650 workers. In January, Google also said it plans to lay off more than 12,000 workers, while Microsoft revealed it plans to cut 10,000 employees and Salesforce announced plans to lay off 7,000 workers.
“This shift gives us additional space to invest and create new roles in high-potential areas – new technologies, customer innovations, and key markets,” said Jamie Iannone, Chief Executive Officer of eBay in a message to employees.
With just four weeks into 2023, more than 312 tech companies have laid off 97,020 tech workers, according to Layoffs.FYI, a site that has been tracking all tech layoffs using data compiled from public reports.
MindsDB raises $16.5M in funding to make machine learning and AI accessible to companies as the AI race heats up
MindsDB announced today it has raised a $16.5M Series A investment from Benchmark to grow its open-source applied machine learning (ML) platform. MindsDB makes it easier for developers to use neural networks to gain predictive insights that allow companies to make better business decisions.
In just four years after its inception, MindsDB has become one of the fastest-growing developer platforms. The startup now has more than 13,000 GitHub Stars and 70+ technology and data integrations.
MindsDB was founded in 2017 by CEO Jorge Torres and COO Adam Carrigan and is backed with over $24 million in total funding from Benchmark, Walden Catalyst Ventures, YCombinator, OpenOcean, the venture fund launched by the creators of MySQL and MariaDB, SpeedInvest, and the University of California Berkeley SkyDeck fund. We covered MindsDB back in 2020 after it was named as one of the startups funded by Berkeley SkyDeck.
With Hugging Face, developers can access pre-trained NLP models and apply them to their own data for use cases such as advanced text classification, sentiment analysis, emotion detection, translation, and more. With the OpenAI integration, developers can customize to their data with the power of cutting-edge generative AI models including GPT-3, Codex, and DALL·E.
Ex-Coinbase manager pleads guilty to the first case of cryptocurrency insider trading
A former product manager at crypto exchange Coinbase pleaded guilty on Tuesday in what U.S. federal prosecutors have called the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrency, Reuters reported.
Ishan Wahi, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after initially pleading not guilty last year, his defense lawyer said in a court hearing. According to the prosecutors, Wahi shared confidential information with his brother Nikhil and their friend Sameer Ramani about upcoming announcements of new digital assets that Coinbase would let users trade.
Between June 2021 and April 2022, Wahi and Ramani were charged with using Ethereum blockchain wallets to acquire digital assets and trading at least 14 times before Coinbase announcements. Prosecutors said such announcements typically caused the value of the assets to rise and generated at least $1.5 million in illicit gains.
Wahi later pleaded guilty in September 2022 to a wire fraud conspiracy charge, and in January was sentenced to 10 months in prison while Ramani still remains at large.
The news comes just a month after Coinbase Global reached a $100 million deal to settle with US regulators over anti-money-laundering law violations. Coinbase agreed to “pay a $50 million fine after financial regulators found that it let customers open accounts without conducting sufficient background checks.” The settlement closes the regulator’s investigation into the firm’s compliance with requirements to prevent money laundering.
Israeli fintech startup Wisor AI bags $8M Seed funding to transform the $23 trillion global supply chain market
The world is more global than ever. An estimated 80% of global goods are transported via ocean freight while air freight represents more than 35% of global trade by value, but less than 1% of trade by volume. Today there are roughly 300,000 freight forwarders globally, including 100,000 in the US alone, handling $23.3 trillion in goods delivered to consumers.
The global scale of this market also presents an opportunity to transform the freight forwarding market. This huge market is ripe for disruption, as it lacks the tools and technology required to bring forwarding operations into the digital era. That’s where today’s tech startup comes in.
Enter Wisor AI, an Israeli fintech startup focused on empowering freight forwarders to compete in a challenging environment suffering from high price volatility and reliance on outdated manual processes.
Founded by Raz Ronen, Co-founder & CEO, Ido Karavany, Co-founder & CTO; and Eiran Bolless, Co-founder & VP of Data & Analytics, Wisor’s innovative AI-powered technology helps move global freight in a click, with the aim to digitize the freight industry, lower costs, and increase efficiency.
Wisor’s platform also provides its global customers with a one-stop solution that organically integrates into their existing systems and workflows. By digitizing routing, pricing, and quoting, the platform would also be able to extend to additional value-added services such as payments, financing, and insurance.
Today, Wisor announced it has raised $8 million in a seed funding round led by Team8, with participation from Ocean Azul and Hico Investment Group, as well as pre-seed investors fresh.fund, Atooro Fund, The Dock, Seed IL Ventures, and Izaki Ventures. Wisor will use the fresh capital infusion to expedite its mission to digitize the global supply chain industry and empower freight forwarders to plan, price, and book a shipment in seconds instead of hours or days.
Breef lands $16 million in funding to grow its online agency marketplace
Globalization has forever changed the ways companies do business. This is especially true for brands that have to find the best agencies for their digital and creative needs. But finding vetted agencies can be a daunting task. That’s where Breef comes in. Breef is the world’s first online agency marketplace to enable brands to manage and service all agency projects.
Brief’s platform has transformed project outsourcing for global brands and emerging businesses by facilitating agency connections in under seven days – through a combination of proprietary technology and payment innovations. Since its launch four years ago, Breef marketplace has grown to over 10,000 marketing agencies across 25 countries. Breef has now passed $100 million in project value created on the platform.
To further meet the increasing demands for its service, Breef announced today it has raised $16 million in new funding led by Greycroft, with strategic investment from leading funds including BDMI (part of media powerhouse Bertelsmann), Touch Ventures, UTA.VC (United Talent Agency Ventures), The House Fund, Rackhouse Ventures, and Burst Capital. To date, Breef has raised a total of $21 million in funding.
Breef will use the new cash infusion to continue to evolve the product offering – building on the new platform experience released this month. In addition, the startup will also use funding proceeds to grow its global team. Breef recently announced its first international bases in the UK and Australia. The company will also invest further in its industry-first payment infrastructure, BreefPay, and expand upon partnerships with brands like the spend automation platform Ramp, venue rental marketplace Peerspace, and small business marketplace Newity.
Founded in 2019 by Emily Bibb and George Raptis, Breef is redefining the future of work by taking the agency online. The company’s technology is the first of its kind to streamline the agency outsourcing process and facilitate high-value, high-growth projects. Breef’s proprietary platform allows brands to manage and service all agency projects, pitches, and payments, facilitating efficiencies within today’s distributed workforce. The platform hosts more than 10,000 vetted agencies, and thousands of world-leading brands, and has now passed $100 million in project value created on the platform.
Microsoft unveils new AI-powered Bing search engine that you can chat with; a challenge to Google
Today, Microsoft just unveiled its new Bing with integration using a model more powerful than ChatGPT. The new Bing search engine comes with a homepage that features new chat capabilities.
In a press event on Tuesday, the tech giant showcased new AI-powered updates to its Bing search engine and Edge browser, in one of its biggest efforts yet to dominate the search engine space and lead a new wave of technology that helps reshape how people gather information.
“This technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told reporters at the event briefing at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
During the event, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman momentarily took the stage to confirm that Microsoft has integrated its GPT-3.5 language technologies to power some of the new software in the Bing search engine to improve its capabilities, which seems similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT AI.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for 20 years so I’m very happy it’s here,” Altman said.