Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘venture capital

A Deal’s a Deal

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Happy Monday…err, Tuesday. 

If you’re here in the U.S., here’s hoping you had a nice, long holiday weekend, and that you took a few moments to remember the memory of the service men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They really are our nation’s heroes.

Now, even though it’s a Tuesday and not a Monday, there are some tech deals already looming and/or happening this week.

Reuters is reporting that Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial has raised $10 billion, valuing the company at $140 billion.

In this round, Reuters reports that a number of global sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms joined the fundraising as main investors, including funding from Carlyle Group LP and VC firm Sequoia Capital.

Ant is controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma. As Reuters reports, it was spun off from Alibaba when the group went public, and has diversified over the years into credit services, asset management, and online banking, as well as owning the Alipay payment platform.

In a deal closer to home, private equity firm KKR has said it will acquire BMC Software from an investment group that includes Bain Capital, Golden Gate Capital, and others.

According to a report from ZDNet, BMC has pivoted from mainframe software to being more of an IT service management play and cloud management and application optimization provider.

BMC Software had gone private in 2013 in a deal worth $6.9 billion.

And not to be outdone, the city of London has introduced a contactless payment scheme for buskers that will allow passers-by to use card readers to show their support for the city’s street performers. 

The BBC report indicates that the organization Busk in London is working with iZettle on the scheme and would be made available to buskers in all the capital’s boroughs over the coming months.

Written by turbotodd

May 29, 2018 at 9:29 am

Posted in 2018, payment systems

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AI Funding and Talent

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I was too busy to blog yesterday, but a couple of stories about AI funding did hit my radar that I wanted to mention.

TechCrunch reported first that a startup out of London, BenevolventAI, announced that it had raised $115 million “to continue developer its core ‘AI brain’ as well as different arms of the company that are using it specifically to break new ground in drug development and more.”

That round values the company at $2.1 billion. 

Some background:

The core of BenevolentAI’s business is focused around what Mulvaney describes as a “brain” built by a team of scientists — some of whom are disclosed, and some of whom are not, for competitive reasons; Mulvaney said: There are 155 people working at the startup in all, with 300 projected by the end of this year. The brain has been created to ingest and compute billions of data points in specific areas such as health and material science, to help scientists better determine combinations that might finally solve persistently difficult problems in fields like medicine.

The crux of the issue in a field like drug development, for example, is that even as scientists identify the many permutations and strains of, say, a particular kind of cancer, each of these strains can mutate, and that is before you consider that each mutation might behave completely differently depending on which person develops the mutation.

This is precisely the kind of issue that AI, which is massive computational power and “learning” from previous computations, can help address. (And BenevolventAI is not the only one taking this approach. Specifically in cancer, others include Grail and Paige.AI.)

Another one that caught my attention was Eightfold.ai, “a new technology service aimed at solving nothing less than the problem of how to provide professional meaning in the modern world.”

Founded by former Googler and IBM researcher Ashutosh Garg (who is a search and personalization expert), the company “…boasts an executive team that has a combined 80 patents and more than 6,000 citations for their research.

What’s more interesting to me is their mission: “To bring the analytical rigor for which their former employers are famous to the question of how best to help employees find fulfillment in the workforce.”

Lightspeed Ventures and Foundation Capital are among those backing the venture to the tune of $24 million.

How it works:

“We have crawled the web for millions of profiles… including data from Wikipedia,” says Garg. “From there we have gotten data round how people have moved in organizations. We use all of this data to see who has performed well in an organization or not. Now what we do… we build models over this data to see who is capable of doing what.”

There are two important functions at play, according to Garg. The first is developing a talent network of a business — “the talent graph of a company,” he calls it. “On top of that we map how people have gone from one function to another in their career.”

Using those tools, Garg says Eightfold.ai’s services can predict the best path for each employee to reach their full potential.

Did you get that? “Building models for the talent graph of a company and how people have gone from one function to another in their career. I’m calling it a Maslowe AI play!

As for how hot the war for AI talent is, check out this New York Time’s article.  It reveals that AI specialists with little or no industry experience can make between $300K and $500K a year in salary and stock. 

Might be time to go back to school!

Written by turbotodd

April 20, 2018 at 12:47 pm

IBM Global SmartCamp Finals: Next Week In NYC

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IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals are slated to be held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on February 7th.

The SmartCamp initiative was launched in 2010 with the goal of identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that would align with the IBM Smarter Planet vision, and give them the visibility, mentoring, and resources that only a large company like IBM can provide.

On the 7th, eight startups from around the world will compete in New York City for the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.”

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finals will bring together leading venture capitalists, industry experts, press, analysts, entrepreneurial organizations and academics to network and celebrate entrepreneurship.

The Global Finals will feature eight startup finalists from around the world, from Kenya to France to Singapore. The eight finalists not only come from all walks of life, but they offer a broad range of innovative solutions that all have the potential to make the planet a whole lot smarter.

Finalist HistoIndex, a startup from Singapore, has an imaging solution which will allow for earlier detection and better treatment of fibrosis.

GetWay, a big data startup from Brazil, enables any industry to precisely monitor real-time sales data in retailers spread all over a territory.

And QuintessenceLabs, from Australia, has harnessed the properties of nature as described by quantum science to fortify the protection of data in-transit, at-rest and in-use.

You can be a part of the excitement on February 7th at the SmartCamp Global Finals, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with innovators, business leaders, and experts from around the world, hear the startup finalists’ presentations, and witness the naming of a new IBM Entrepreneur of the Year.

Go here to learn more and to register to attend the event. As an FYI, I had the great privilege of helping cover the event last year in San Francisco, and recorded a video with Scott Laningham (embedded in this blog post) where I summarized what I learned.

Happy Float, Facebook

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Happy IPO day, Facebook.

I’m not an “insider” of any sorts, so I won’t be gaining from any of the early Facebook IPO action.  I’m on the fence as to whether or not I might try to buy some “FB” shares on the open market through my Schwab account…not because I’m not interested in owning any Facebook stock, but because like a lot of investors, I want it to be a conscious, responsible investment, and one never knows what’s going to happen on IPO days.

But know this: I’m very bullish on Facebook, both its past and its future.  I’ve never seen an Internet property bring so many people together from so many different places in the world, across economic and social strata, and keep them coming back.

If you’re as bullish, but not ready to gamble on IPO day, you might give some thought to investing in the Facebook “pick and shovel” plays.

Stand back, look at the Facebook ecosystem, and rather than place all your bets on the Facebook IPO “come” line, instead spread some bets across the board and benefit from all the other players who stand to benefit from Facebook’s continued growth and adoption around the world.

The Zyngas, whose gaming ecosystem helped the Facebook tribe spread around the world.  The Dachis Corps and Buddy Medias, which are helping make the Facebook platform work well for marketers (and focusing well beyond the social graph ads that GM announced it would abandon earlier this week).

And, to be sure, hundreds of others.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a Facebook fan, and heaven knows sentiment about them can run to the extremes, if you’re a good Western capitalist, you have to be excited.

This is the classic American success story, where young kid has great idea, develops that idea in his dorm room and later small house in Silicon Valley, and eventually changes the world.

And make no mistake about that: Facebook has forever changed the world.

Just ask the folks in Egypt, or Tunisia, or Russia, or any other locale or organization that has benefited from the lower center of gravity Facebook has created that makes organizing in mass quantities as simple as a few clicks.

There is a good reason that Facebook is NOT available in China — fear of transparency and open communications.

If it were available, China would be a very different place than it is today, and it makes me thankful that the kind of open innovation and entrepreneurialism we have here in the U.S. is still alive and well.

And that, in the end, may well be the most important reason for celebrating Facebook’s entry into the public markets.

Big ideas can still have big impacts, and Silicon Valley (and, more broadly, the United States) is one of those places in the world that you can find the capital, the talent, and the political and regulatory playing field  to make those big ideas a reality.

Happy IPO day, Facebook.

TurboTech: IBM SmartCamp Video Debrief

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For you regular readers of this blog, you know I attended and blogged the IBM Global SmartCamp Finals in San Francisco week before last…wow, has it already been two weeks?

In fact, it was two weeks ago today that Profitero was announced as this year’s winner.

Although as I mention in the videocast with Scott Laningham below — in which we talk for about 15 minutes about what I saw, heard, and witnessed at the SmartCamp finals — all the participants, as well as those of we IBM bystanders, were winners when it came to hearing some of these groundbreaking business plans for helping build smarter (and more data-driven) cities around the globe.

I also enjoyed meeting my blogging counterpart, Steve Hamm, who provided extensive coverage on IBM’s Smarter Planet blog and with whom I broke bread…err, noodles…somewhere in Chinatown.  I couldn’t find my way back to that noodle shop if I had to — I’m not sure if Steve could, either.

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals…And The Winner Is…?

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If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s gotta be worth a full blog post.  Rather than drone on in words about the excitement behind the announcement of the “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year” here at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in San Francisco, I shot the following video to capture the moment.

Congratulations again to Profitero, and the other eight finalists, all of whom were celebrated in their efforts to help IBM with its mission to build a Smarter Planet and to improve the world through their even smarter entrepreneurialism!

Written by turbotodd

February 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals – Today’s The Day

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If I’ve learned anything hearing the business pitches and talking to a number of the IBM SmartCamp Global Finalists here in San Francisco these past couple of days, it’s that their enthusiasm is infectious.

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finalists enjoy a moment of levity in San Francisco just one day before the anxiously-awaited announcement as to whom the 2011 "IBM Global Enterpreneur of the Year" will be.

Great entrepreneurs generally seem to have some common characteristics: They have passion and commitment, they often have visions and the drive to change the world in some way, shape or form, and, they typically have the perseverance and wherewithal to move forward no matter how difficult the odds.

Such is how I would characterize the nine finalists in IBM’s 2011 SmartCamp Finals. Though there may not be a single common thread in the business ideas that have been brought to the table here — they are as diverse as our increasingly complex and globalized planet — the vision, drive, and eagerness to learn from one another and their Silicon Valley mentors has been a key theme of the IBM SmartCamp.

Sure, everyone would like to get fully funded and go make a gazillion dollars in the next great IPO.  But these finalists seem to realize they need to walk before they can run, and the wisdom and counsel that has been shared in the closed mentoring sessions during the last two days seems to be as distinctly valued as the opportunity to “win” the SmartCamp Global Finals.

The fact is, and it’s been said throughout the past couple of days, ALL the finalists are winners.  They wouldn’t have made it this far in the competition were they not, and no matter who gets the official “win,” it’s very clear that all the finalists have benefited tremendously from the networking and counsel shared amongst they and their peers.

As Facebook prepares to enter the public markets and offer the greatest IPO in the history of mankind, it’s probably a good time to step back and realize there are many ways that entrepreneurs can change the world.

Though much attention and focus has been generated by the consumer-facing social media applications that suck up much of the oxygen and ink, IBM SmartCamp in San Francisco this week has proven once again that the business-to-business opportunities presented by business analytics, and mobile/social/local technologies, are just as profound in the business realm, if not more so, than all the Facebooks of the world put together.

So, stay tuned to this blog and to the Twitter hashtag #ibmsmartcamp through the rest of this afternoon as we prepare to announce the “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year,” while recognizing all the finalists here at IBM SmartCamp were winners before they ever arrived, and have already changed the world in their own unique and diverse ways.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

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