Top tech startup news for Monday, April 10, 2023: Binance, Careem, CryptoGPT, SenseTime, and Tesla
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Monday, April 10, 2023.
Tesla to open a new Megapack battery factory in Shanghai, China
Tesla announced over the weekend that it will open a new Megafactory in Shanghai that is capable of producing 10,000 Megapacks a year. In a tweet on Sunday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the new factory in China will supplement the output from the company’s factory in California.
Tesla opening Megapack factory in Shanghai to supplement output of Megapack factory in California https://t.co/hDpqoyNeOx
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2023
In a signing ceremony in Shanghai, Chinese state media outlet Xinhua also reported that Tesla is planning to start the construction of the factory during the third quarter of this year. The company is also planning to begin production around the middle of 2024.
A Megapack is a massive utility battery designed to store energy, promote power grid stability, and avert outages. These batteries allow grid operators to transfer surplus capacity between regions or states and guarantee that power generated from intermittent sources can be accumulated and utilized during times of high demand or unexpected transmission network failures.
Uber-owned ride-hailing startup Careem launches spinout with $400M investment from UAE tech holding company e&
Uber-owned ride-hailing startup Careem announced a spinout with a $400 million investment from UAE tech holding company e&, formerly Etisalat. In a statement on Monday, e& said it has signed a binding agreement with Uber Technologies to acquire a 50.03% majority stake in the spinout — which will be called Careem Technologies — with a $400 million investment.
According to the filing, the company said the Super App will be managed by Careem founders Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson. Careem’s ride-hailing business, which acquired it for $3.1 billion in 2019, still remains fully owned by Uber.
With the investment, Careem Technologies will focus on expanding the company’s “super app,” which provides dozens of services beyond ride-hailing in one app. Some of the services include Careem Quik grocery delivery in 15 minutes or less, food delivery, PCR test booking, digital payments and remittances transfers, bicycle rentals, laundry, and cleaning services, and event ticket booking.
“e& is investing $400m to become a majority shareholder in Careem’s Super App alongside Uber and all three of Careem’s co-founders,” a statement from e& said. The investment will significantly accelerate Careem’s goal to create “the first ‘everything app’ for customers across the Middle East,” the company said in a statement.
In a statement, a Careem spokesperson told CNBC: “The non-ride services that are Careem-owned and operated today will be owned and operated by Careem Technologies in the future.” In addition, the spokesperson said third-party partners, such as Washmen for laundry service or Tikety for events marketplace, will continue to operate the services they offer.
CryptoGPT raises $10M in funding for its AI-Focused blockchain platform, now valued at $250 million
CryptoGPT is the latest to join the ever-increasing list of tech companies embracing the global artificial intelligence (AI) race ignited by the popularity of ChatGPT.
Today, the Zero-knowledge (ZK) layer 2 blockchain CryptoGPT announced it has raised $10 million in funding to grow its AI-Focused blockchain platform. The Series A round, which now values the startup at a $250 million valuation, was led by market maker DWF Labs. In recent years, DWF Labs has emerged as one of the most active investors during the cryptocurrency bear market.
CryptoGPT recently rolled out Web3-focused AI assistant “Alex.” The startup is also building out its ZK rollup layer 2 blockchain and a data-to-AI engine, which collects, encrypts, and transfers data for commercial applications.
CryptoGPT was founded in July 2022 as ZK Layer-2 blockchain platform that lets you own the monetization of your AI data. The token, the website claims, wants to “turn every task of your daily life into a source of income.”
“Instead of applying ZK technology to payments, CryptoGPT integrates it for private data transfers,” CryptoGPT said in the statement on Monday. The proceeds of the new funding will be used to grow its developer team globally and build on its regional presence in the Asian markets, said Dejan Erja, co-founder and chief technology officer of the AI-focused blockchain.
CryptoGPT aims to enable users to earn money by monetizing their data in various fields, including fitness, dating, gaming, and education. Additionally, the platform plans to introduce non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that will store the user’s activity data.
Crypto exchange Bitget launches a $100 million Web3 Fund to support next-generation crypto projects in Asia
Bitget today launched its Web3 Fund with an initial investment of $100 million to support next-generation crypto projects in Asia. The company made the announcement during Hong Kong Blockchain Week. Bitget said the new fund “will focus on investing in Web3-friendly venture capital and outstanding Web3 projects, with the goal of supporting the development of the next generation of crypto projects.”
Founded in 2018, Bitget currently serves more than 2 million customers in 50 countries, The startup said it aims to contribute to the adoption of decentralized finance on a global scale. Since its launch, Bitget has become the world’s largest crypto copy trading platform, through the gaining popularity of its flagship One-Click Copy Trade products. According to CoinMarketCap, Bitget was ranked third globally, in terms of its derivatives volume as of January 2022.
This year, Bitget Exchange is implementing a “Go beyond derivative” approach by introducing the Bitget Web3 Fund. The aim of this initiative is to cultivate a favorable perception of the digital currency economy and facilitate the advancement of the Web3 ecosystem.
The Bitget Web3 Fund will seek out VCs and projects globally but prioritize partners in Asia that have a clear roadmap and an experienced team, and those that offer innovative solutions to real-world problems. As of now, it has received inquiries from VCs including Foresight Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, SevenX Ventures, DAO Maker, and ABCDE Capital for potential partnerships.
Chinese AI startup SenseTime unveils “SenseChat,” a chatbot and image generator to take on ChatGPT
Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has soared since the launch of ChatGPT, a popular chatbot created by OpenAI which uses generative AI technology that learns from past data to create new text, images, or computer code.
Since its debut in November 2022, many tech companies have thrown their hats in the ring hoping to capitalize on ChatGPT’s success. The latest is Chinese AI facial recognition startup SenseTime, joining the global AI race ignited by the popularity of ChatGPT.
Today, SenseTime unveiled “SenseChat,” an AI-powered chatbot that performs tasks such as writing an email and a children’s story upon being prompted. In a live demo on Monday, SenseTime co-founder and CEO Xu Li, CEO showed a live demonstration of SenseChat writing an email and telling a story about a cat catching a fish when prompted by questions, as well as scripting computer codes.
In a statement, SenseTime’s other co-founder Wang Xiaogang said the new AI-powered products were based on the latest version of the company’s SenseNova big model, which they have been developing over the past five years
“We have been focusing on developing our big models. In addition to our powerful AI infrastructure … SenseTime has also developed the ability to deploy big models across our product line,” said SenseTime’s co-founder Wang Xiaogang, adding that SenseChat contained more than 100 billion parameters.
“We can generate a digital scene for a livestreaming room. The product creation and interactive content are all generated by AI, and the livestreaming room runs non-stop 24 hours a day,” Xu said. “In fact, you may not even be able to tell whether it is a real person doing the broadcasting at night.”
ChatGPT has grown in popularity to millions of users within just a few months of its launch. In March, OpenAI launched the latest version of its primary large language model, GPT-4, which the company claimed can beat 90% of humans on the SAT. Unlike its predecessors, OpenAI said the new GPT-4 is a large multimodal model that can solve difficult problems with greater accuracy, adding that GPT-4 is the company’s most advanced system to date, producing safer and more useful responses.
We’ve covered SenseTime extensively over the years. In October 2019, the United States put SenseTime on a trade blacklist. In 2018, SenseTime raised $600 million to become the most valuable AI startup in the world. In 2021, the company said it was planning to raise $740 million in its revised Hong Kong IPO.
SenseTime is the developer of Face++, the technology used by the Chinese government to monitor and track its over one billion citizens. Face++ is also used by more than 300,000 developers in 150 countries to identify faces, as well as images, text, and various kinds of government-issued IDs.
SenseTime is China’s largest artificial intelligence (AI) unicorn focused on computer vision and deep learning technologies. The company is behind a proprietary deep learning platform, SenseTime has become the largest algorithm supplier in the country.
Binance.US struggles to find a new banking partner following the collapse of Signature Bank
The U.S. arm of crypto exchange Binance is facing challenges in finding a new banking partner following the collapse of Signature Bank that roiled the crypto market in March, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal reported on Saturday that Binance.US is struggling to find a bank to take its customers’ cash after the failure of Signature Bank. Citing people familiar with the matter, the publication reported that Binance.US is now using at least one intermediary to store funds as a stopgap. The report also added that since the money is being held by a third party, it can slow down sending and moving of funds.
“We work with multiple U.S.-based banking and payment providers and continue to onboard new partners while upgrading our internal systems to create a more stable fiat platform and offer additional services,” a spokesperson for Binance.US told the WSJ.
The U.S. affiliate of global crypto exchange Binance has struggled to find a bank for its customers’ cash after the failure of Signature Bank left it without a key banking partner, people familiar with the matter said.
On March 12, 2023, the New York State Department of Financial Services shut down Signature Bank and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver, according to a news release by the FDIC.
In addition, according to Binance.US’s website, users’ dollar deposits were previously sent to either Signature Bank or Silvergate Capital Corp. before the collapse of the two banks, which has now left many crypto companies looking to find new banking partners.