Top tech startup news for today Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Coinbase, Hypercraft, Sasol, Soylent, and Twitter
Good evening! It’s a super light news day so we’re not going to cover much ground today. With that, below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Tuesday, February 21, 2023.
Starco Brands acquires controversial meal-replacement startup Soylent
Starco Brands has acquired meal-replacement startup Soylent Nutrition, according to Form 8-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As part of the acquisition agreement, Soylent Nutrition will operate as a separate unit under its current CEO Demir Vangelov.
“On the Closing Date, Starco, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Starco Merger Sub I, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Merger Sub”), completed its acquisition of Soylent Nutrition, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Soylent”) through the merger of Merger Sub with and into Soylent (the “Merger”),” Starco Brands said in the SEC filing.
We covered Solent five years ago after its founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart stepped down from the company. His departure came after the decade-old Los Angeles-based startup was plagued with a series of problems. In October 2017, Soylent meal replacement was banned in Canada after regulators said it was not a real meal. The also company halted its flagship liquid meal replacement powder product after less than a dozen customers reported stomach-related symptoms.
Founded in 2013 in San Francisco by Rob Rhinehart, Soylent is focused on what it calls “complete nutrition” as a ready-to-drink meal replacement drink filled with proteins and nutrients. Its line of shakes products is popular with millennials and techies looking for quick, nutrient-packed food. The company was able to overcome past challenges and its products are now sold in at least 28,000 stores, including Publix, Target, Walmart, and Target. In 2021, the company added Walgreens.
Utah-based EV startup Hypercraft lands $6.5 million to electrify racing vehicles, watercraft, and more
Hypercraft is a Utah-based EV startup that builds and sells complete electric drive systems to a variety of B2C and B2B buyers, including customers in the on-road, off-road recreation, racing, resto-mod, fleet, and marine industries. Founded just four years ago, Hypercraft has quickly grown to become one of the industry’s first and leading providers of complete and turn-key electric drive systems for vehicle manufacturers to meet today’s e-mobility demands.
To further grow its operations, Hypercraft announced today it has closed $6.5 million in seed funding at a post-money valuation of $51.5 million. The round was led by RevRoad Capital, with participation from individual investors and early customer angels.
In an email, Hypercraft told TechStartups that it plans to use the fresh capital infusion to hire additional engineering staff, EV battery research and development, and capital expenditures to support scaled manufacturing. The company is also collaborating with 17 unique vehicle manufacturers across multiple transportation segments, including marine, automotive, government, racing, and commercial.
The raise will also be used to support its founding mission of advancing the electrification of transportation, with a focus on the high-performance capabilities of EVs.
In a statement, David Mann, managing director at RevRoad Capital said: “Hypercraft is a high-growth company that we’ve had our eye on for over a year now. Their leadership team combines innovative manufacturing experience and real-world business ingenuity to provide vehicle manufacturing with a path to electrification. We’re thrilled to partner with Hypercraft, as it disrupts the rapidly growing EV sector in a variety of industries.”
Founded in 2019 by CEO Jake Hawksworth, Eric Ream, and Jon Miller, Hypercraft’s team combines decades of experience in product development and marketing — with specific industry experience relating to high-performance vehicles.
South Africa-based Sasol launches venture fund with €50M in initial funding to invest in sustainable startups
One of the many ways to reduce climate change is through decarbonization, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through the use of low-carbon power sources, and the conversion to an economic system that sustainably reduces and compensates for the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂). It’s against this backdrop that South Africa-based chemicals and energy giant Sasol has decided to launch a venture capital fund to advance decarbonization efforts.
Today, South Africa-based Sasol announced the launch of Sasol Ventures, a venture fund to advance its decarbonization and 2050 net zero ambitions through venture capital. As part of the fund, Sasol will invest €50 million in initial capital over the next five years, making it the largest chemicals and industry venture capital fund in South Africa.
As part of this fund, Sasol has also partnered with Emerald Technology Ventures, a specialized global venture capital firm to enable Sasol Ventures to source and evaluate opportunities with the objective of growing a portfolio for the fund. Through this partnership, Sasol has also directly invested in Emerald’s global energy transformation fund to maximize its innovation opportunities. It will complement Sasol’s existing Research and Technology capabilities in sourcing and evaluating technologies and solutions.
The fund will pursue investments in start-up and early-stage technologies that will enable Sasol to meet the need for sustainable chemicals and energy solutions to decarbonize its business, communities, and markets it serves globally.
“Sasol Ventures is a new dynamic lever to our strategy to produce sustainable energy and chemicals products for a modern, thriving society. We look forward to leveraging our financial and intellectual capital through compelling and investable prospects that will create value for Sasol and our stakeholders,” added Hanré Rossouw, Group Chief Financial Officer of Sasol.
Founded in 1950, Sasol is a global chemicals and energy company. We harness our knowledge and expertise to integrate sophisticated technologies and processes into world-scale operating facilities. We strive to safely and sustainably source, produce, and market a range of high-quality products in 22 countries, preserving and creating value for stakeholders.
Coinbase posts a $557 million loss; revenue tumbles 75% in the fourth quarter as crypto investors move their digital assets out of the exchanges
Coinbase, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, reported another quarterly loss today after it posted a $557 million loss in the fourth quarter. The crypto exchange also saw revenue tumble 75% during the period as retail traders pulled back significantly. According to the earnings report, Coinbase saw its trading volume in the quarter plummet nearly 89% to $20 billion.
The news comes after a string of high-profile bankruptcies roiled the crypto industry. The overall digital assets markets suffered from sour sentiment over the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX in November 2022. The plunging value of digital assets amid rising interest rates has led to the collapse and bankruptcies of some of crypto’s biggest crypto players including BlockFi, Celsius, Core Scientific, and FTX, among others.
In a call with analysts, Coinbase founder and CEO Brian Armstrong said the development will ultimately benefit Coinbase.
“In the wake of FTX and other crypto company failures, we have seen increased regulatory scrutiny,” Armstrong added.
As crypto investors move their digital assets out of the exchanges, Coinbase trading volume plunged by 75% to $145 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $547 billion a year earlier. According to a study conducted by Bankless, more than 450,000 bitcoins were moved from crypto exchanges and hot wallets to cold wallets in 2022.
The slow demand for digital assets also forced Coinbase Global to halt its operations in Japan in January, citing volatile market conditions.
Elon Musk says he “acquired the world’s largest non-profit for $44B;” plans to open source Twitter algorithm next week
With advertisers flocking back to Twitter and Tesla’s stock more than doubled its price since January, Elon Musk seems to be having fun on Twitter after he poked fun at himself for purchasing the social media platform for $44 billion.
Calling Twitter the world’s largest non-profit, Musk said in a tweet this afternoon: “Say what you want about me, but I acquired the world’s largest non-profit for $44B lol.”
Musk was also asked to open-source the Twitter algorithm for the world to see. A Twitter user by the name of Derek Smart said:
“Right. Now open source it, then we’ll be truly impressed.”
In response, Musk said: “Prepare to be disappointed at first when our algorithm is made open source next week, but it will improve rapidly!”
The decision to open up Twitter code to the public is nothing new. Shortly after he announced he wanted to buy Twitter, Musk made a comment in his TED interview in April 2022 that he wanted to open-source Twitter’s algorithm. Below’s what Musk said:
“One of the things that I believe Twitter should do is open source the algorithm, and make any changes to people’s tweets, if they are emphasized or de-emphasized, that action should be made apparent so anyone can see that that action has been taken. So there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.”
UK-based SAE Renewables becomes the world’s first energy company to produce 50-gigawatt hours of electricity from tidal power
Tidal energy or tidal power is a form of renewable energy power produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides due to alternating sea levels. It was first used in Europe more than 1000 years ago after the Europeans used tidal energy to operate grain mills. By retaining tidewater in the storage ponds, they were able to harness the outgoing tidal movement to turn waterwheels to mill grain.
Millennium later, advances in renewable energy technology have taken the emerging tidal power sector to a whole new level. One of the leading renewable energy companies in this space is Edinburgh, UK-based SAE Renewables, a renewable energy subsidiary of SSE plc, which develops and operates onshore and offshore wind farms and hydroelectric generation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
On Monday, SAE Renewables announced that its project had achieved a world first by producing 50-gigawatt hours of electricity using tidal power. In a statement, SAE Renewables CEO Graham Reid said:
“I’m excited to announce a significant milestone for our MeyGen project, for the industry and on our net zero and energy security journey. During the early hours of this morning, and with only marine life for company, our tidal stream array off the coast of the Pentland Firth became the first tidal stream array in the world to generate 50GWh of electricity.”
“This is a significant milestone in delivering tidal stream power at scale,” Reid added.
Reid said that “Total global generation from all other tidal devices and sites is less than 50% of that amount.”
The MeyGen site has been operational since 2017. Before this major breakthrough, Reid stated that the company overcame many challenges, with reliability being an issue in the early days. “but we have learned an immense amount along the way. Our longest-deployed turbine has been in continual operation since December 2018 with an average availability of 95%,” he added.