Connect with us

Uncategorized

Capchase nabs $60M in credit to help founders avoid dilution

Published

on

No one likes dilution, and that’s why every founder is looking for alternatives to traditional equity investing by venture capitalists. Financial entrepreneurs have launched a number of products, from SaaS securitization to debt-based financing, to help founders avoid that dilution, particularly when they have recurring revenues clocked on the books.

Capchase is one of this new crop of startup-focused fintech companies. It allows startups to receive their future recurring revenue today in the form of debt, allowing founders to spend future money earlier and potentially avoid at least some of those expensive, dilutive rounds of venture capital, particularly when they are just getting started. I profiled the Boston-based company a few months ago, when they had raised a $4.6 million seed led by Caffeinated Capital.

Now, the company is swimming in new funds, and it’s ready to start lending out to even more startups. This morning, the company announced that it has raised $60 million in an “asset-backed credit facility” from i80 Group. That should allow Capchase to expand the number of startups it works with, as well as the amount of revenue prepayment it could potentially extend to each startup as well.

i80 itself has built an investment firm based around credit underwriting just these sorts of projects for startups. In addition to this facility for Capchase and similar fintech underwriting, the group also backs real estate underwriting projects like for Properly, where it co-led a $100 million facility with Silicon Valley Bank.

Capchase, which was founded in early 2020, claims that its initial customers have delayed fundraises by an average of 8 months and saved about 16% in overall dilution. Of course, those number will vary widely depending on the startup, its growth, its recurring revenues and other variables.

Capchase’s goal isn’t just to extend revenue prepayment to startups, but to do it fast, sometimes in just days or even hours depending on the complexity of the recurring revenues of its clients. With $60 million more, it’s hungry to lend even faster.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

Continue Reading
Comments

Uncategorized

Blackberry and Baidu deepen autonomous, connected car partnership

Published

on

Blackberry and Chinese search engine giant Baidu have agreed to expand a partnership that aims to give automakers the tools they need to launch next-generation connected and autonomous vehicles in China.

Under the deal, Baidu’s high-definition maps will be integrated into Blackberry’s QNX Neutrino Real-Time Operating System. The embedded system will be mass produced in the upcoming GAC New Energy Aion models from the electric vehicle arm of GAC Group, one of the country’s top three automakers that produces more 2 million vehicles a year.

The aim of this new, expanded partnership is to “provide car manufacturers with a clear and fast path to the production of autonomous vehicles, with safety and security as the top priority,” according to a statement from Wang Yunpeng, senior director of the technology department of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group.

The partnership between Baidu and Blackberry is notable because it inserts a foreign operating system into Chinese-made vehicles even as the government there has called for native tech.

Blackberry’s QNX software handles the functional safety, network security and reliability pieces, while Baidu has invested in the development of artificial intelligence and deep learning.

“Together, we can help car manufacturers quickly produce safe autonomous vehicles and promote the development collaboratively of the intelligent networked automobile industry,” Yunpeng said.

Blackberry, once the dominate force in the smart phone industry, has found success getting its QNX technology into vehicles. Today, the software is used in the advanced driver assistance, digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems of more than 175 million vehicles.

The agreement builds on the two companies January 2018 agreement to make BlackBerry QNX’s operating system the foundation for Baidu’s ‘Apollo’ autonomous driving open platform.

The deal with Baidu also helps Blackberry continue to carve out market share in China, where it’s a more recent entrant. Last year, Blackberry announced QNX would be integrated into Tesla rival Xpeng’s electric vehicles in China.

“With BlackBerry QNX’s embedded software as its foundation, Baidu has made significant progress as part of its Apollo platform in establishing a commercial ecosystem for innovative technologies that OEMs can leverage for their next generation vehicles,” Dhiraj Handa, vice president of channel, partners and APAC, BlackBerry Technology Solutions, said in a statement.

Baidu’s autonomous driving program, known as Apollo, has been described as the “an Android for smart driving.” The Apollo program has landed more than hundred manufacturing and supplier partners. Baidu has also been busy testing autonomous driving and launch a robotaxi fleet in September.

The deal also comes on the heels of Baidu’s push beyond automotive software and into the production of vehicles. Baidu announced earlier this month that it plans to set up a new company to produce electric vehicles with the help of Chinese automaker Geely. Baidu will provide so-called smart driving technologies while Geely handles will the design, engineering and manufacturing of the vehicles.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

President Joe Biden commits to replacing entire federal fleet with electric vehicles

Published

on

President Joe Biden said Monday the U.S. government would replace the entire federal fleet of cars, trucks and SUVs with electric vehicles manufactured in the United States, a commitment tied to a broader campaign promise to create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry and supply chains.

The commitment, if it bears out, could give a boost to U.S. automakers, particularly those that have diverse portfolios that include passenger cars, commercial vans and light trucks.

Biden made the comments prior to signing the Made in America executive order, which places stricter rules on the federal government’s procurement practices. The government has existing “buy American” rules, which states that a certain amount of a product must be made in the U.S. for a purchase to qualify for a federal contract.

Biden said this order closes loopholes and aims to increase purchases of products made in the United States. The executive order increases that product threshold and the price preference for domestic goods — meaning the difference in price from which the government can buy a product for a non-U.S. supplier. It also updates the process for how the government decides if a product was sufficiently made in America.

In the midst of his speech, Biden said the buy American directive would extend to the federal government’s massive fleet of vehicles.

“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America, by American workers, creating millions of jobs — a million auto worker jobs.”

The opportunity is a large one. The U.S. government had more than 645,000 vehicles in its fleet in 2019, the most recent data available from the General Services Agency. Of those, about 224,000 are passenger vehicles and more than 412,000 are trucks.

“GSA is committed to exploring opportunities to leverage the purchasing and leasing power of the federal government to address the climate crisis, including greening the federal fleet,” a GSA spokesperson told TechCrunch in an emailed statement. “GSA currently manages over 224,000 passenger vehicles in its fleet to support the Federal Government’s mission. By leveraging clean energy vehicle technologies, GSA will support the President’s climate goals, while working with the American automotive manufacturing industry to ensure that these next generation vehicles are built in America by American workers.”

The directive won’t be easy to fulfill. Many of these federal vehicles are leased, which could slow the transition depending on the contract lengths. There are other obstacles, including charging infrastructure and supply. And while it doesn’t appear to be a requirement, Biden has publicly stated numerous times — including Monday — that he supports union automotive jobs.

Tesla is considered the dominant U.S. manufacturer of electric vehicles. However, the company’s lack of union workers and the higher cost of its vehicles — even the less expensive Model 3 — could be a barrier.

Ford and GM might not have a vast supply of electric vehicles at the moment, but they do have union shops and both automakers are investing heavily to expand their EV offerings.

GM launched a new business unit earlier this month to offer commercial customers an ecosystem of electric and connected products as part of the company’s $27 billion bid to become a leading electric automaker. The new business, called BrightDrop, will begin with two main products: an electric van called the EV600 with an estimate range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric pallet dubbed EP1.

GM has said it plans to bring 30 new electric vehicles to a global market through 2025. More than two-thirds of those launches will be available in North America and every one of GM’s brands, including Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick, will be represented, according to the automaker.

Meanwhile, Ford revealed in November a configurable all-electric cargo van called the E-Transit as part of its $11.5 billion investment in electrification. Ford has largely focused its electrification efforts on the consumer market, notably the Mustang Mach-E. The E-Transit, which will be built at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, is aimed at the commercial sector.

There are a growing number of newer EV entrants as well, including Rivian, Lordstown Motors and Fisker. Rivian is expected to begin producing and delivering its electric pickup truck in July, followed by its all-electric SUV. Rivian is also developing and assembling electric vans for Amazon.

Biden’s call to transform the fleet supports statements he made throughout his campaign. Biden pledged to “use all the levers of the federal government,” including purchasing power, R&D, tax, trade, and investment policies to position the U.S. to be the global leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles and their input materials and parts.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Facebook News launches in the UK, the first international market for its curated news portal

Published

on

As the United Kingdom prepares to sharpen its focus on how it regulates big tech companies, Facebook is taking a big step up in the role it plays in presenting media to the U.K. public, and into how it works with the country’s media industry.

Today it is launching Facebook News in the U.K., Facebook’s first market outside of the U.S. for its dedicated, curated news portal — accessed, like the U.S. version, through a tab in the Android or iOS app menu.

The portal will launch with content from hundreds of local and national media organizations including Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group. The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, STV and hundreds of local news sites from Archant, Iliffe, JPI Media, Midlands News Association, and Reach, as well as “lifestyle” titles GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue and others were announced in an earlier list of partners last year.

Again, as with the U.S. version, users will be provided a list of curated top stories of the day; a list of personalized stories based on news sources you might already follow or interests you have (these might be from publications you don’t already follow); and dedicated news sections for sports, entertainment, health and science and technology. Users can indicate when they like stories, or when they want to hide them to train the algorithms better.

Facebook has confirmed to us that it will be working with a service called Upday to curate the stories that appear on News. “The product is a mix of curated, top stories and personalized links chosen by algorithm,” a spokesperson said. Upday appears to be a joint collaboration between German publisher Axel Springer and Samsung, which also runs a news service on its phones powered by it.

It is not clear what the financial terms of the deal is between Facebook and Upday, but reportedly, the licensing deals Facebook is cutting with publishers to place their content in News collectively run into the tens of millions of pounds, with the biggest publishers making millions a year from the the agreements. While those figures might pale to what Facebook makes in ad revenues globally — that reaches into the tens of billions of dollars quarterly — they represent significant sums for the beleaguered U.K. media industry.

People have long used newsfeeds on Facebook and other social sites to catch up with news while also browsing posts from friends, Groups and Pages that they follow. Facebook News aims to take that a step further, as a curated page for links and headlines from hundreds of publications in the country to provide users of its mobile apps a one-stop place to read the stories of the moment.

Social media continues to be a major source of news for consumers, but as we’ve seen, a very skewed and flawed source at that.

Within that context, Facebook says that its intention with Facebook News is to provide a more balanced and dedicated mix of news to people beyond what they might encounter in their newsfeeds, while also tailoring it to users’ interests.

It also helps that Facebook News provides yet another way for Facebook — which has made efforts in video, entertainment content, mentoring and job-hunting, Nextdoor-style community listings, peer-to-peer selling, and more — to continue diversifying away from the Newsfeed for those who have grown bored with that: now, people can come to the Facebook app to browse news, too.

Still, this international expansion has been a long time coming: Facebook News first launched as a test in the US more than a year ago, in October 2019, before rolling out to all users last June.

No word from Facebook on how many users or engagement the U.S. version of Facebook News has picked up, except that “it has grown steadily,” according to a spokesperson.

It’s not clear why there’s been such a long gap between its first efforts in the U.S. and the U.K. launch today, but Facebook has had more going on in addition to securing those licensing deals to roll out in this market.

Launching a new news portal, with the message that it’s designed to “help” publishers, takes on a new dimension when you consider that Facebook has also been in the crosshairs of regulators in Europe, who have been on a long-term mission to scrutinize the reach of big tech companies. In the UK, that is soon taking the form of a new “pro-competition” Digital Market Unit that will re-examine the role companies like Facebook and Google play in advertising, media and more. 

Whether those regulatory moves will impact how a service like Facebook News works, or what revenue cuts and usage data are shared with news partners, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, it’s full speed ahead for more scaling: Facebook confirmed plans last year that its long-term aim is for a bigger international expansion for Facebook News, with the longer list of countries including Brazil, France, Germany, and India. In a blog post today, Facebook’s director of news partnerships in Europe, Jesper Doub, confirmed France and Germany were next in line for Facebook News, although no launch dates were specified.

Continue Reading

Trending