Industry Archives: Technology

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Auto technology startup Bright Box secures $1.5 million from Leta Capital

East-West Digital News

Leta Capital, the venture arm of Russian IT security solution provider Leta Group, has invested $1.5 million in Bright Box, a Russian company specialized in developing tech solutions for the auto industry.
Bright Box’s solution, chistened Remoto, allows clients to remotely control vehicle functions such as climate control and locks via their mobile phone and to receive information such as the vehicle’s location. Remoto also analyzes motorists’ driving style, providing tips on how to improve.
Bright Box took off in 2012 with the launch of Dealer Mobility, a mobile app facilitating interaction between car dealers and their clients. This was followed by Remoto, which the company began working on in mid-2013.
Kia Motors is already offering the product in Russia as an optional accessory with its cars.
“For the mass automobile sector, there is practically no other affordable technology like Remoto out there, so we took the decision to focus on it,” claims Bright Box Chairman of the Board Innokenty Belotsky.
Bright Box had been backed at the seed stage by Clould4auto, a specialized fund launched in 2012.
Leta’s capital injection will allow the startup to develop Remoto further and promote it abroad. “We are currently evaluating the Chinese and Indian markets, which have the most promising growth potential. We announced the launch of Remoto in China in October during the Connected Vehicles Conference,” Belotskiy told East-West Digital News.

This story first appeared in East-West Digital News, a leading online resource on Russian digital industries.

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Key Russian companies to take part in LeWeb 2014 next month in Paris

East-West Digital News

LeWeb is among the biggest international conference for digital and technological innovations, as well as market investors. Its next edition will take place in Paris on Dec. 9-11.
In 2014, Russia, as an official guest of LeWeb, will present the Russian market within the “European track” business program. The leading company representatives will talk about new achievements and trends, key projects and development tendencies, and will also answer LeWeb visitors’ questions.
Participating Russian companies at LeWeb 2014:

  • Almaz  Capital  Group
  • Mail.ru Group
  • Runa Capital
  • RVC
  • Qiwi
  • Skolkovo
  • Yandex

The event brings together more than 3,500 delegates with projects, startups, investment funds and technological companies from all over the world in order to showcase their achievements, speak about investment possibilities and future development trends.
To register, please click here. For more information about LeWeb’s Russia panel and any partnership suggestion, please contact Mr. Jérôme Piegay at jerome (at) expoexperts (dot) ru

This story first appeared in East-West Digital News, a leading online resource on Russian digital industries.

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Investment Banking 2.0 Says “Hello World!?”

TechCrunch
David Gelles wrote in the New York Times this weekend about how large tech corporations have been conducting more M&A deals with less input from traditional investment banks. Because of my company’s insight into buy and sell-side M&A interest, I wanted to provide some additional insight into how we see the M&A world changing.

But first, a little history to explain this evolution: Investment banking is a 300-year-old industry; the first transaction on record was the British East Indies Trading Company merging with its largest competitor in 1708. Since that day, investment banking has been entirely conducted under human power. These people are arbiters of information, connecting people within a particular sector of expertise or geography.

In an analog world, this worked, as finding the most strategically relevant business has been difficult. But we’re in the digital age. Businesses can achieve awareness and distribution far easier than in the past, enabling strategic acquirers to identify them earlier, without the need for human subject-matter experts.
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RVC and Skolkovo inject $1.2 million in micro-sized antenna maker

East-West Digital News July 1, 2014
S-Group Capital Management, an affiliate of the fund of funds RVC, has teamed up with Skolkovo’s nuclear technology cluster to inject 40 million rubles (approximately $1.2 million) in Bisant, a Moscow-based high tech antenna manufacturer.
A resident company of Skolkovo, the international tech hub under construction on the outskirts of Moscow, Bisant describes its micro antenna devices as “a powerful means for the reception and transfer of radio waves in various wireless communication systems,” including mobile phones, tablets, netbooks and TV sets.
The materials used by Bisant generate physical effects at the micro and nano levels, which are said to provide the antennas with advanced wireless transmission capacities and electromagnetic signal concentrations.
Bisant already secured an initial investment from S-Group three years ago.
RVC is a state-owned fund of funds aiming at developing innovative projects and infrastructure in Russia.
This story first appeared in East-West Digital News, a leading online resource on Russian digital industries.

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Banking and Finance

Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten Launches $100M Global Investment Fund

TechCrunch June 30, 2014
June is barely over, but Rakuten has already had a busy year. In addition to purchasing messaging app Viber for $900 million, the Japanese consumer Internet conglomerate also made investments in several companies based in Southeast Asia or Japan, including Carousell, Visenze, Coda Payments, and Send Anywhere, from its $10 million fund dedicated to the region. Now Rakuten is eyeing companies in the rest of the world with the launch of its new $100 million global investment fund, which will focus on startups in Israel, the U.S., and the Asia Pacific region.

The new fund, which is based in Singapore and will be run by Rakuten Ventures managing partner Saemin Ahn, supports “Rakuten Ventures’ broader goal of long-term investments with startups that have the technology and potential to enable better user experience and facilitation,” says Ahn. “Over time, this will include an increased focus on growing the ecosystem, technology, membership, and financial returns.”

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Integrated System for eMoney and Mobile Payments from Italy

This Italian based Company has developed a unique, integrated digital multi-function platform for the mobile payment, e-money and money transfer accessible by PC, tablet, smartphone and GSM mobile. It offers these new features:
1. Can be used by PC, tablet, smartphone or simple GSM;
2. Offers services that are available through website, APP, SMS, NFC and QR-code;
3. Can be integrated with phone bills of telephone companies from around the world.

The platform incorporates existing services offered by international competitors but integrates them with new and strategic functions. The technology may be operational from the get-go; consumers and merchants can utilize it without any new technological means since it is based upon simple GSM!

The Company aims to become a global system that encourages and enables customers to make electronic payments easily and safely, and with greater speed. The platform could be adopted in major international markets within 1 or 2 years.

Solutions:
For the Consumer:
– Open a bank account in virtual real-time via the web, APP and SMS;
– Manage money by web, APP, texting, email, credit cards, NFC, QR-code;
– Receive salary and compensation payments;
– Receive or send money anywhere;
– Make payments at any shop or e-commerce site;
– Unify credit card, bank account, and mobile phone number.

For the Merchant:
– Open a bank account in virtual real-time by web, APP and SMS;
– Process payments and cash withdrawals;
– Make payments for business, nationally and internationally;
– Pay utility bills and taxes;
– Unify credit card, bank account, and mobile phone number;
– Associate a “virtual pos”, “mobile pos” and “pos contactless”;
– Integrate with any e-commerce and mobile commerce application.

Market Overview:
Research indicates that mobile payment market is expected to be worth 721 billion dollars with over 450 million users in 2017, up from 245 million users today.

Transaction:
Company plans to raise up to EUR 80 million (with a minimum of EUR 7 million) to reach global markets (Europe, Americas and Asia). Additional details will be provided upon execution of a NDA.

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The France that innovates is thirty years younger than those who direct us

LePoint.fr June 3, 2014
From June 12 to 14, more than 500 start-ups open their doors to the public. This is the idea of ​​Marc-Arthur Gauthey toput an end to the fear of innovation.
Startup Assembly is an initiative to democratize the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its founder, Marc-Arthur Gauthey, 28, is an entrepreneur and member of the collective Ouishare. It would be a shame to miss it.
“All around me, I see people for whom the world is changing too fast, taking with its change the values, norms and principles that have hitherto been the glue of our society. That is why isolationism and nationalism seduce so many of our citizens who feel left out, and fear a time they do not understand.
Outside a small world of digital players and new technologists, who are mostly young graduates, male, urban and open to the world, a new divide is emerging: the entrepreneurial divide. It is both social, territorial, sectoral and generational.”
Read the article (French)

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Google Confirms Purchase Of Satellite Startup Skybox Imaging For $500M

TechCrunch June 10, 2014
Google is today confirming that it has purchased Skybox Imaging, the satellite startup that we reported it was close to acquiring last month. The price is somewhat lower than we had heard it would be: $500 million rather than close to the $1 billion our sources had told us.

Once the deal closes, Skybox’s employees will wear a few different hats. Mainly, they will be a part of the Access and Energy team. They will continue launching satellites and work closely with the Google’s Geo team to improve imagery in Google’s products. They will also longer term look at how satellite tech could contribute to Google’s Internet access work, alongside Google’s Loon project and Titan Aerospace.

In Skybox’s announcement, the company touts the fact that its satellites are the world’s smallest — and also that they are already actively collecting data. From Skybox’s blog:

We’ve built and launched the world’s smallest high­-resolution imaging satellite, which collects beautiful and useful images and video every day. We have built an incredible team and empowered them to push the state­-of­-the-­art in imaging to new heights. The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision.

Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code. We both believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful. And to do this, we’re both willing to tackle problems head on — whether it’s building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch.

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International forum in St. Petersburg highlights startup, tech transfer and social entrepreneurship issues

East-West Digital News
On May 13-15, scientists, businessmen and public servants met to discuss new opportunities for companies and universities at the VIII International “From science to business” Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. More than 200 participants from 50 cities and 10 countries gathered at the event. The event was co-organized by ITMO, a St Petersburg based national technical university, from which no fewer than 39 SMBs have emerged over the past few years.
Nina Yanykina, head of ITMO’s Department for Innovation Management lamented the lack of business angels and startup accelerators in Russia.
This idea was supported by John Morris, Co-founder of Tech Coast Angels — the second most active US angel network. His vision is that cooperation between business angels and universities will one day give the former an avenue to reach young researchers when they are in most need of funding. As for Russia, the process of searching for prospective projects in the regions, both by Moscow-based and foreign investors, is just now starting.
Regarding technology transfers, World Bank Innovation Policy Advisor Peter Lindholm mentioned several problems that impact startup development and commercialization in Russia. According to him, the Russian government frequently supports inefficient projects, and the domestic entrepreneurial culture is still too immature, while young businessmen don’t always have a coherent strategy.
“Interest in commercialization is like love on the Internet — it exists, but there’s no hard evidence,” says Lindholm. As an example, Facebook is equal to the 20 largest Russian IT companies (Yandex, Mail,ru, Ozon etc.). The speaker further recommended that Russia not try to copy Silicon Valley, because its model is outdated, but rather to create something new.
More practical advice about technology transfers was given by the world renowned expert Eugene Buff, Founder & President of Primary Care Innovation Consulting in the US.  Mr. Buff considers timely killed projects a success, because they free up resources to pursue other projects with better prospects. The big difference in researchers’ behavior today, compared with the situation 10 years ago, is that they are ready to collaborate – with other scientists and people from the business community. “One of the central differences between science and business is that researchers seek the best solution, but businessmen only want something that is good enough,”  says Buff.
The third day of the Forum was dedicated to social entrepreneurship. This topic is new for Russia, but there were already plenty of volunteers, fund representatives, and young entrepreneurs in attendance looking for best practices. The biggest hurdle is a deficiency of government support for this field, so very little growth is expected in this sector over the next 10 years.
In spite of this fact, Russian universities show a readiness to support student’s social projects and help to make them profitable, using their own innovation infrastructure.

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Are Tech Companies Overvalued? Top Investors Think So

TechCrunch May 15, 2014
Is Winter coming? It may already be here, according to VCs like Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and John Lilly of Greylock. We asked some of the world’s most respected investors about state of valuations at TechCrunch Disrupt NY. The consensus is that public tech company prices soared too close to the sun, and their fall is now dragging down fundraising and IPO potential for private companies.

Late 2013 and early 2014 saw companies rushing to take advantage of boom-time valuations. Uber, Pinterest, and Dropbox all raised rounds north of $200 million, stockpiling cash in case the market went sour. Twitter’s IPO was a blockbuster and Facebook’s share priced hit new heights, opening the door to the public market. Companies like King, Grubhub, Zulily, Weibo, Castlight, and Coupons.com jumped at the chance, and many had big first-day pops.

But then everything went to hell. Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other public companies saw share prices plummet. Suddenly, the IPO door slammed shut, and reports indicate Box, Square, and others may delay IPOs until things get sunnier.
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