News from around the world – May 22

Focus is shifting towards tech startups.
 

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

 

Tech unicorns see greener pastures outside America
Have you heard? The unicorns (non-public tech companies with billion-dollar valuations) are dying. They’re falling from the fluffy funding clouds they occupy, landing on the cold, hard earth, and dying with a wheeze and a cough of fairy dust.  “Dead unicorns are on the horizon,” said CNN Money last year. Now they are here. “There are going to be lots of dead unicorns” this year, says the FT. Silicon Valley unicorns are “becoming an endangered species,” Vanity Fair says. And in a widely shared blog post last month, influential venture capitalist Bill Gurley laid out the problem clearly: “The pressures of lofty paper valuations, massive burn rates (and the subsequent need for more cash), and unprecedented low levels of IPOs and M&A, have created a complex and unique circumstance that many Unicorn CEOs and investors are ill-prepared to navigate.”

Tech and Biotech: Madison startup Chefs for Seniors is cooking in California
A Madison startup is getting some California exposure … and some West Coast funding along with it. Chefs for Seniors is part of the 500 Startups accelerator program in Mountain View, California, and one of 42 companies chosen for what the program calls Batch 17. The class includes companies from as far as Norway, Brazil and the Czech Republic. The concept of Chefs for Seniors was cooked up in 2013 by Nathan Allman, then a sophomore at UW-Madison, and his father, Barrett Allman, as an effort to help older people get proper nutrition in their homes.
Is Your Potential Cofounder Complementary, Risky Or Redundant?
Everyone in the tech startup world knows having a cofounder helps secure capital. As a result, young and eager entrepreneurs often jump into business with someone mistakenly believing that their idea alone will pull them through.  But, second to marriage, cofounders can be the biggest commitments of our lives. Most startups fail, and doomed-from-the-start partnerships are frequently the reason. “We all have good ideas,” Sunrise cofounder Jeremy Le Van summed. “Finding the right people, the right match, is what’s hard.” I interviewed the millennial cofounders of three particularly innovative tech startups: Sunrise, a sleek and modern calendar app recently acquired by Microsoft; Unroll.Me, an app that allows you to mass-unsubscribe from emails and combine remaining subscriptions into a daily email; and eLearning Mind, a creative design company that helps brands create engaging and meaningful learning experiences for their workforce

The 15 coolest fashion startups in London
Fintech isn’t the only kind of technology startup that thrives in London. The capital is also home to a collection of fashion startups that mix technology with fashion products. Some startups are focused on creating new clothing using technology, while others let people find clothes to buy online. We ranked some of London’s fashion startups, taking into account total amount raised, headcount, and originality.

Apple Increases Focus on Asia
Apple has long paid attention to the burgeoning markets of Asia. And well it should, given that the combination of Greater China, Japan, and the rest of Asia Pacific brought in more revenue than the Americas in Q2 2016 (and way more than Europe). Even so, Apple has lately been in overdrive to increase its foothold on the continent, with CEO Tim Cook touring India and China and the company making some major plays in the region.  The first move came on 13 May 2016, with Apple making a surprise $1 billion investment in Chinese car-hailing firm and Uber competitor Didi Chuxing. Apple said the deal would help further its understanding of the Chinese market, and given that the iTunes Store and iBooks Store were shut down in China recently, it’s likely that Apple hopes the investment will be seen positively by the Chinese government. The move also stoked rumors about Apple’s car development, with wilder speculation suggesting that perhaps Apple has some self-driving car plans up its sleeve. It’s more likely that Apple is interested in access to the local mapping data from Didi Chuxing.

VN startup community showcases tech solutions
HCM CITY — FPT Tech Day 2016 was held in HCM City early this week to enable Việt Nam’s startup community to showcase their solutions to local and international tech experts. The event, organised by software giant FPT, also attracted a number of young visitors seeking the latest made-in-Việt Nam apps and technologies. Among the key foreign guests were Rajan Anandan, deputy president and managing director of Google Southeast Asia and India, and Kirsten Gilbertson, public and private cloud sales lead with Microsoft in the Asia-Pacific.

Poland On Track To Becoming A Major European Tech Startup Hub
Slowly but surely Europe is gaining ground on the US through the efforts of its disruptive entrepreneurs, with many seeing Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as the region most likely to produce the next unicorn. Here, Poland is making its power play, with a rising tally of digital success stories, a well-developed startup infrastructure, and the new Google GOOGL +0.92% Campus in its capital Warsaw set to provide a catalyst for innovation throughout the CEE.

Can Halle Freyssinet, world’s largest incubator, seal France’s place in tech startup major league?
France’s tech startup scene has grown exponentially over the past few years. In 2015 more than 115 funding deals totaled €960m ($1,074m), which, according to Tech.eu, puts it in the billion-euro club along with the UK, Germany, and Israel.  Where French government-backed investment group Bpifrance financed 1,500 startups in 2013, the figure doubled to 3,000 in 2015. While it was just Criteo that raised €100m in 2013, six startups, including BlaBlaCar and Parrot, achieved this level of funding in 2015.  But what will surely cement Paris’s place on the global startup map is its launch of the world’s biggest digital incubator in 2017: Halle Freyssinet.

“Vanilla” private equity will help but not save South Africa’s tech scene
An influx of cash may soon hit the burgeoning sub-Saharan technology scene. Johannesburg-based Capital Eye Investments says it is searching for $100 million to make the move from venture capital to private equity, with an eye on companies in the technology space. “We could be the largest standalone private equity investment fund targeting the digital revolution in South Africa,” says CEO Dean Sparrow.  Sparrow describes PE as a more “vanilla” investment option, and the shift is likely to entice investors looking for reliable returns in a relatively new sector. Private equity has outperformed public listings in South Africa. While the value of PE deals in Africa fell by 70% last year, the volume of smaller deals ($250 million or less) went up.

Ed Vaizey speaks on why Europe is important to UK tech
When asked about Europe, Vaizey said the digital single market of 500 million citizens makes a difference. “We have a referendum to stay or leave Europe. The digital single market is a great opportunity for business, and access to skills and access to the market is very important for business.” Vaizey explained it is important for any government to show a lead in technology. “Government ministers are talking about technology. Digital infrastructure such as 4G and skills are important,” he said. “The UK is a great place to invest. We have a great tax environment and being part of the European Union means our companies here can draw on a great skills pool.”

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