News from around the World – June 18

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

China’s Uber rival raises $7bn from Apple and other investors
CHINA’s rival to car-hailing pioneer Uber has raised more than $7bn from investors and lenders, capping off a month of unprecedented fundraising for car-booking apps. The fundraising by Didi Chuxing was made up of $4.5bn from investors, including $1bn from Apple, and an additional $2.8bn in debt, according to a person close to the deal. It values the company at more than $25bn and it will have more than $10bn in its war chest with the new funding. Didi’s move comes just two weeks after Uber itself raised $3.5bn from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and as the company is in the middle of a debt deal that could raise as much as $2bn in leveraged loans. Uber’s fundraising has valued the company at $62.5bn, making it the world’s most valuable startup.

Australian startup Booking Boss joins Amadeus Next community
BANGKOK, Thailand – Transforming the travel activity sector globally is the main aim of Australian startup Booking Boss, and to help achieve this goal, the online booking system has joined the Amadeus Next community. The initiative, from global travel technology leader Amadeus, aims to foster the growth and development of Asia Pacific’s travel technology startup scene. The idea is to enable startups to excel and scale by giving them access to Amadeus’ technology, customer network and insights from their experts. Other benefits of joining the exclusive programme include connections to funding opportunities, and assistance to expand global reach. The Amadeus Next community currently has more than 20 startups and 30 partners on board.

Microsoft Becomes the First Big Tech Company to Get Into the Legal Weed Industry
Tech giant Microsoft announced Thursday it is partnering with a cannabis industry-focused software company called Kind Financial. The company provides “seed to sale” services for cannabis growers, allowing them to track inventory, navigate laws, and handle transactions all through Kind’s software systems. The partnership marks the first major tech company to attach its name to the burgeoning industry of legal marijuana. While most big tech companies have been shy to get involved, tech startups have been flocking to the up-and-coming pot trade, which is fully legal for both recreational and medical purposes in five states. The weed industry’s specific needs for data tracking to optimize plant growth and other logistics, as well as its booming market potential, make it well-suited for tech partnerships. “Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will,” said Matthew Karnes, the founder of marijuana data company Green Wave Advisors, to The New York Times. “It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business.”

Ahead of ‘Terrible’ Brexit Vote, Tech Founders Call for Single EU Start-Up Market
Leading European entrepreneurs, including the founders of Skype and Lastminute.com, have called for a “single start-up market” to help technology firms in the region build the next Facebook or Google. Currently the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, is trying to build the so-called Digital Single Market – a set of harmonized rules across all 28 member states in areas including copyright law and e-commerce. The Commission claims this could 415 billion euros ($465 billion) per year to the EU’s economy.  But Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com and chairman of Founders Forum, a network of the world’s tech entrepreneurs and a backer behind the call for a “single startup market,” said the EU’s plans risk favoring larger business, but not helping growing ones. A special corporate regime accessible to qualified startups would facilitate a unique, simple and competitive legal framework for corporate, labor, tax/fiscal incentives, stock options, bankruptcy matters,” Founders Forum said in a press release.

3 Things Tech Startups Can Learn From Craft Food Products
With so many tech startups crowding the market today, it takes something special to stand out. That’s why companies trying to take a new approach to developing and marketing their tech businesses look far and wide for the most creative ideas – but in fact, the strategies that could benefit them may already exist in a different corner of the market: artisanal food. One of the most irksome things about tech startups is that they tend to emphasize a high level of automation, simplification, and solutions that cut out the human element. And while there’s a certain appeal to automating something like office scheduling or order processing, a lot of today’s customers have gotten tired of interacting solely with computers. They want a human touch.

Why most of London’s tech sector believes Brexit will prove a disaster
In London’s tech and startup sector, however, few such divisions apparently exist. Many in the industry were quick to coalesce around vocal opposition to “Brexit.” A survey for Tech London Advocates, a campaign group, found that 87 percent of the 320 members it polled believe that EU membership benefits the U.K. economy, while 72 percent of those questioned in Silicon Valley Bank’s Startups Outlook report said that if the UK were to quit the EU, it would have a negative effect upon their business. According to Gary Stewart, the U.K. director of WAYRA, a leading startup accelerator, many entrepreneurs come to the U.K. because it’s widely seen as the best place in Europe to start a company. A key factor in London’s success is the (relative) availability of top-tier talent, which Mutaz Qubbaj, CEO of Squirrel — a fintech startup which is part of WAYRA’s 2016 cohort — argues will almost certainly be, at least temporarily, impeded by Brexit.

Tech Five: Samsung acquires cloud company
Airbnb signed a $1 billion debt facility deal in effort to expand globally, while Microsoft and Samsung made major acquisitions.  Those deals are among five major tech companies worth watching Thursday:Airbnb. The private room-sharing company signed a $1 billion debt facility deal with a group of large U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, Bloomberg reported. The funds would allow Airbnb  to spend on global growth strategies and expand beyond home-sharing, persons familiar with the situation told Bloomberg.  Airbnb remains one of the most valuable startups at a $25 billion valuation, but recently came under fire for discriminating against transgender and African-American tenants and homeowners. Samsung acquired cloud company Joyent for an undisclosed amount on Thursday. The San Francisco, Calif.-based company will still operate as a standalone company, but Joyent CEO Scott Hammond and other executives will work with Samsung on cloud computing and Internet of Things development.

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