Top tech startup news for Friday, February 10, 2023: Acceldata, Google, Kraken, and Venom Blockchain
Good evening! It’s another light news Friday and as such, we’re going to make this very brief. Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Friday, February 10, 2023.
Google employees criticize CEO Sundar Pichai for ‘rushed, botched’ announcement of ChatGPT rival Bard
Google employees took to the company’s popular internal forum Memegen to criticize leadership, most notably CEO Sundar Pichai, for the way the company mishandled the handled announcement of ChatGPT’s competitor called Bard. According to messages and memes viewed by CNBC, Google employees blamed CEO Pichai for what they described as “rushed,” “botched” and “un-Googley.”
It all happened a day before Microsoft unveiled its new ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine in a challenge to Google. On Monday, the search giant tried to steal the spotlight to get ahead of the Microsoft event. But Google AI chatbot Bard got off to a rocky start on Wednesday during Google’s demo event when search executive Prabhakar Raghavan presented some slides with examples of Bard’s capabilities. Surprisingly, some Google employees were not even aware of the event.
While it’s not uncommon for Google employees to poke at the company’s quirks and missteps on Memegen, the posts after the Bard present struck a more serious tone and even went directly after the company’s CEO Pichai.
“Dear Sundar, the Bard launch and the layoffs were rushed, botched, and myopic,” read one meme that included a serious picture of Pichai. “Please return to taking a long-term outlook.” The post received many upvotes from employees.
Meanwhile, Raghavan warned against the pitfalls of artificial intelligence in chatbots in a newspaper interview published on Saturday. “This kind of artificial intelligence we’re talking about right now can sometimes lead to something we call hallucination,” Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president at Google and head of Google Search, Reuters reported, citing Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Crypto exchange Kraken to shutter its U.S. staking operation; settles with SEC for $30 million for selling unregistered securities
After a long battle with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the crypto exchange Kraken agreed to pay $30 million in fines for selling unregistered securities. In addition, Kraken also agreed to shut down its U.S. staking operation and will stop “offering or selling securities” through crypto asset staking services, the SEC said on Thursday.
The $30 million fine is a small potato compared to the alleged $147 million revenue the SEC said Kraken made from the staking operation.
The settlement brings closure to the SEC complaint that Kraken failed to register the offer and sale of the crypto asset staking-as-a-service program. The SEC also alleged that U.S. investors had crypto assets worth over $2.7 billion on Kraken’s platform, which earns Kraken around $147 million in revenue. The SEC also added that more than 135,000 unique U.S. users registered for Kraken’s staking platform.
“Today, we take another step in protecting retail investors by shutting down this unregistered crypto staking program, through which Kraken not only offered investors outsized returns untethered to any economic realities, but also retained the right to pay them no returns at all,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.
The announcement comes just a day after Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong stated that the US regulator may be aiming to “get rid of crypto staking in the US for retail customers.” “Regulation by enforcement doesn’t work. It encourages companies to operate offshore, which is what happened with FTX,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Whether it’s through staking-as-a-service, lending, or other means, crypto intermediaries, when offering investment contracts in exchange for investors’ tokens,” companies must “provide the proper disclosures and safeguards required by our securities laws,” SEC chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.
Acceldata raises $50M to help companies solve complex data challenges via its data observability platform
Acceldata, a data observability platform that helps companies solve complex data challenges to ensure the success of the huge investments being made in large-scale, complex data systems, announced this week it has raised $50 million in Series C funding. The round was led by March Capital, with additional investment from Sanabil Investments, Industry Ventures, and existing investors, Insight Partners.
To date, Acceldata has raised nearly $100 million in funding from high-profile VCs including Lightspeed, Sorenson Ventures, and Emergent Ventures since its inception. The round will be used for accelerating innovation and expanding go-to-market efforts for its Data Observability Platform.
Acceldata will also use the fresh cash infusion to support its existing partnerships with Snowflake, Databricks, and the leading data and analytics services providers including Wipro and others. Acceldata is expanding its integrations with cloud service providers and ISVs, and continues to increase awareness of data observability as a must-have enterprise investment area.
Founded in 2018 by CEO Rohit Choudhary, CTO Ashwin Rajeeva, and Gaurav Nagar, the Campbell, CA-based Acceldata has developed the world’s first enterprise data observability platform to help enterprises build and operate great data products. Acceldata’s solutions have been embraced by global customers, such as Dun & Bradstreet, Verisk, Oracle, PubMatic, PhonePe (Walmart), DBS, and many more. Acceldata investors include Insight Partners, March Capital, Industry Ventures, Lightspeed, Sorenson Ventures, Sanabil, and Emergent Ventures. Contact us to learn about the benefits of data observability.
Venom Blockchain partners with DAO Maker to incubate Web3 startups focused on delivering real-world use cases
Investments in blockchain and cryptocurrency startups have slowed down in recent months due to the global economic slowdown. But a recession is also a great time to invest in next-generation digital technologies and innovative technology startups. That’s why Venom Blockchain has joined forces with DAO Maker to incubate promising Web3 startups.
Today, Venom Foundation, the first Layer-1 blockchain licensed by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), announced it has partnered with DAO Maker, a leading blockchain growth solutions provider known for their Launchpad, to incubate promising Web3 startups focused on delivering real-world use cases.
DAO Maker will actively assist in the development of the Venom ecosystem and contribute to the success of projects within the Web3 space. With DAO Maker’s support, Venom is confident that it will enable developers to make valuable contributions to the ecosystem and accelerate the growth of its community.
Venom Foundation and DAO Maker will actively incubate new projects through the Venom Launchpad. The Venom Launchpad will give promising Web3 projects and developer teams a unique opportunity to receive resources, guidance, and exposure from some of the most prominent players in the industry. It will leverage the combined expertise of DAO Maker and Venom Foundation to support startups in a wide range of areas including strategic planning, marketing and brand building.
Peter Knez, Chair of the foundation council at Venom Foundation, commented, “At Venom, we are dedicated to pioneering innovation in the blockchain industry. Our partnership with DAO Maker is a testament to this as we incubate promising Web3 startups and bring real-world use cases to life. We are proud to be a part of this exciting collaboration and eagerly anticipate its impact on the industry.”
Google launches AI-powered video editor Dreamix for creating and editing videos, and animating images
While OpenAI ChatGPT is sucking up all the oxygen out of the 24-hour news cycle, Google has quietly unveiled a new AI model that can generate videos when given video, image, and text inputs. The new Google Dreamix AI video editor now brings generated video closer to reality.
According to the research published on GitHub, Dreamix edits the video based on a video and a text prompt. The resulting video maintains its fidelity to color, posture, object size, and camera pose, resulting in a temporally consistent video. At the moment, Dreamix cannot generate videos from just a prompt, however, it can take existing material and modify the video using text prompts.
Google uses video diffusion models for Dreamix, an approach that has been successfully applied for most of the video image editing we see in image AIs such as DALL-E2 or the open-source Stable Diffusion.
The approach involves heavily reducing the input video, adding artificial noise, and then processing it in a video diffusion model, which then uses a text prompt to generate a new video from it that retains some properties of the original video and re-renders others according to the text input.
The video diffusion model offers a promising future that may usher in a new era for working with videos.