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Newsletter: Tech jobs soar + Sweeter berries

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  • 400% hiring boom at OurCrowd companies
  • Driscoll’s calls in SCiO to rate berries
  • SPACs become main event for Israeli startups
  • BioCatch gets US patent for user credential verification
  • NBA’s Russell Westbrook leads Varo Bank to $63M raise
  • mPrest joins Microsoft Azure for energy companies
  • Superpedestrian readies for New York rollout
  • Introductions
  • Jobs

400% hiring boom at OurCrowd companies


“Startups backed by influential Israel-based equity crowdfunding group OurCrowd are looking to hire in greater numbers, despite the lingering COVID-19 pandemic,” Red Herring reports on the release of the first Quarterly OurCrowd Jobs Index this week. “Pandemic or not, the Israeli tech industry continued its rapid growth in 2020,” says Gil Press in Forbes, noting that the number of open positions listed by OurCrowd’s portfolio companies rose from 350 in June 2020 to 912 in December 2020. “Startups surveyed by OurCrowd predict that job growth would continue through 2021,” he adds. The Index shows the number of job openings in Israel rose by 400% during the same period, advertised by 100 of OurCrowd’s portfolio companies and funds. “Despite the lingering pandemic and fears that the economy would take a long time to recover, many of the startups backed by OurCrowd are already emerging strongly from the downturn,” Laly David, OurCrowd’s Business Development Partner tells Crowdfund Insider, while The Times of Israel notes that most CEOs surveyed expect to maintain a mix of in-person and remote working. “Only 14% of OurCrowd companies are expecting to return to the office full-time,” reports Calcalist’s CTech. To read the full OurCrowd Jobs Index Q4 2020, click here.

Driscoll’s calls in SCiO to rate berries


US fresh berry market leader Driscoll’s is partnering with OurCrowd portfolio company Consumer Physics to use its SCiO technology to innovate quality measurement of its produce. Driscoll’s will rely exclusively on the SCiO Cup device for Brix (sugar content) measurements for some 2 million quality inspections it conducts every year in North America. The Near Infrared technology and breakthrough design offered through the SCiO Cup will allow Driscoll’s to measure the Brix of its berries more effectively. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the flavor of our berries,” Brie Reiter Smith, Driscoll’s Director of Quality Systems Design and Technology, Supply Chain, tells Fresh Fruit Portal. “Partnering with Consumer Physics was an easy decision. Their impressive and novel brix measurement device allows us to reward the independent growers across our network who provide the ripest and best tasting berries.”

SPACs became the main event for Israeli startups 
Otonomo, a startup in the Maniv Mobility portfolio, plans to enter the Nasdaq through a SPAC merger, listing at an implied value of $1.4 billion. They follow OurCrowd portfolio company Innoviz and several more could be coming. In the US, there are almost 300 SPACS waiting to find a company and they raised almost $90 billion in 2020, a sixfold increase over 2019,  told The Times of Israel. SPACs have become a huge part of the public market. Where before it was a small sideshow, now it is one of the main events.

Top Tech News

BioCatch gets US patent for user credential verification
BioCatch, which uses behavioral biometrics to spot financial crimes that escape notice with more traditional security tools, acquired a US patent for the method it uses to verify a user’s identity and for detecting fraud, Crowdfund Insider reports. The verification process is based on the manner in which the user holds and accesses their mobile device.The company expanded its headcount and global footprint in 2020 by establishing a business office in Singapore and extending its operations in India. BioCatch now maintains an active presence on five continents and serves more than 40 clients, many of them leading financial institutions. It maintains a database of more than 200 million individual behavioral profiles and analyzes over 2 billion digital sessions every month. OurCrowd was an early investor in BioCatch in 2014 and invested in the recent $168M lead by Bain Capital.

NBA’s Russell Westbrook leads Varo Bank to $63M raise
A year after becoming the first US neobank to be granted a national bank charter, Varo Bank raised $63M in new funding led by NBA star Russell Westbrook, who will also join the startup as an advisor, TechCrunch reports. Westbrook will advise on the direction of Varo Bank’s programs aimed at underserved communities, including communities of color. Westbrook’s investment came through Russell Westbrook Enterprises. Existing Varo Bank investors include Warburg Pincus, The Rise Fund, Gallatin Point Capital, HarbourVest Partners and funds managed by BlackRock. Varo Bank last year raised $241 million in Series D funding. With the additional funds, Varo Bank’s total raise to date is now $482.4 million.

mPrest joins Microsoft Azure for energy companies
mPrest has joined forces with Microsoft to bring its energy software solutions to Microsoft Azure for the energy industry, supporting the goal of zero emissions and sustainability, AIthority reports. mPrest, which serves major utility companies worldwide, joins Microsoft’s global independent software vendor partner ecosystem which includes sales and go-to-market support. The collaboration will leverage the flexibility of cloud capabilities and the power of SaaS to deliver mPrest’s orchestration and optimization platform on Azure to leading energy companies. “We are pleased to work with mPrest to help advance and support the industry’s commitment to sustainability and a goal of zero emissions,” says Darryl Willis, vice president of Energy at Microsoft Corp.‎ “Offering mPrest’s DERMS on Microsoft Azure will accelerate the digital transformation across energy markets.”

Superpedestrian readies for New York rollout
Superpedestrian, whose smart LINK escooters last longer and return profits in markets where others cannot compete, is getting ready to roll in New York City. A pilot program in the spring will test escooter share systems for at least a year in an 18-square-mile section of the East Bronx. “In a lot of ways it’s the perfect place to use scooters to improve transit equity,” Paul Steely White, director of public affairs at Superpedestrian, which applied to participate in the program, tells the Wall Street Journal. White noted that the area, home to 570,000 people, is popular with many essential workers who struggle with some of the city’s longest commutes because of poor mass-transit connections.

Introductions

Your portfolio gets stronger when the OurCrowd network gets involved. Visit our Introductions page to see which of our companies are looking for connections that you may be able to help with.

Job Vacancies

Read the OurCrowd Quarterly Jobs Index here.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there are hundreds of open positions at our global portfolio companies. See some opportunities below:

Search and filter through Portfolio Jobs to find your next challenge.

The post Newsletter: Tech jobs soar + Sweeter berries appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

Source: https://blog.ourcrowd.com/tech-jobs-soar-sweeter-berries/

Artificial Intelligence

Google Meet gets a refreshed UI, multi-pinning, autozoom and more

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Google today announced a major update to Meet, its video-meeting service, which brings several user interface tweaks for desktop users, as well as quite a bit of new functionality, including multi-pinning so that you can highlight multiple feeds instead of just one, as well as new AI-driven video capabilities for light adjustments, autozoom, and a new Data Saver feature that limits data usage on slower mobile networks.

If you’re anything like me, you’re increasingly tired of video meetings (to the point where I often just keep the camera off). But the reality is that this style of meetings will be with us for the foreseeable future, whether we like them or not.

Image Credits: Google

Google notes that today’s release is meant to make meetings “more immersive, inclusive, and productive.” The new UI doesn’t look to be a radical change, but it puts more of the controls and features right at your fingertips instead of hiding them in a menu. It also consolidates them in the bottom row instead of the current system that spreads out features between the main menu bar and an additional small menu at the top.

For presenters who don’t want to see themselves on the screen, Meet now also lets you minimize or completely hide your own video feed — and if you really want to glance into your own eyes, you can also pin your feed to the rest of the grid. Google says it also plans to soon let you turn off your self-feed across all Meet calls.

Image Credits: Google

Talking about pinning, one feature that seems especially useful is the ability to highlight multiple feeds. This new multi-pinning capability will make it easier to focus on the participants in a chat that are most active, for example. This feature will roll out in the coming months.

And coming in a few months, some of those highlighted feeds may look a bit more interesting (or annoying, depending on your point of view) because one new feature Google has planned — but isn’t ready to roll out yet — is video background replacement. For now, Google will only offer three scenes: a classroom, a party and a forest. The company says more will follow, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to bring your own videos to this feature anytime soon.

Image Credits: Google

Other new features in this release include Meet’s capability to automatically spruce up your video feed a bit to make sure you’re more visible in a dark environment and enhance your video when you are sitting in front of a bright background. This will roll out in the coming weeks. There’s also autozoom, which uses AI to automatically zoom in on you and put you in the middle of your frame. That’s coming to paid Google Workspace subscribers in the coming months.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/21/google-meet-gets-a-refreshed-ui-multi-pinning-autozoom-and-more/

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Tribal Credit, which provides credit cards to startups in emerging markets, raises $34.3M

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The B2B payments space has seen an explosion in demand, and investor interest, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses try to figure out how to pay each other digitally. The challenges become even more complex when dealing with cross-border payments.

Startups that were formed before the pandemic stand to benefit from the shift. One such startup, Tribal Credit, launched its beta in late 2019 to provide payment products for startups and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in emerging markets.

Today, Tribal Credit announced it has raised $34.3 million in a combined Series A and debt round led by QED Investors and Partners for Growth (PFG). Existing backers BECO Capital, Global Ventures, OTG Ventures and Endure Capital also participated in the round, along with new investor Endeavor Catalyst. The raise follows “10x” year-over-year growth, according to CEO and co-founder Amr Shady.

As part of the investment, Tribal received $3 million from the Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the development and growth of the open-source Stellar blockchain network. 

Tribal uses a proprietary AI-driven underwriting approval process to evaluate businesses and approve them for credit lines. Those businesses can then use those credit lines to spend on Tribal’s products, Tribal Card and Tribal Pay. Tribal Card is a business Visa card that allows users to create physical and virtual multi-currency cards. Tribal Pay allows them to make payments to merchants and suppliers that don’t accept credit cards. 

The company says its value proposition lies not only in its ability to provide SMEs with virtual and physical corporate cards, but also a digital platform that allows founders and CFOs “to give access to and manage the spend of their distributed teams.”

“We’ve seen more demand for making B2B online payments amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many SMEs migrating to digital and spending more on online products and services,” Shady told TechCrunch. “Companies in this new economy are digital and global first. The need for a corporate card was accelerated. As card spend grew during the pandemic, this meant greater liability on founders’ using their personal cards, or other competing cards linked to their personal credit.” 

Tribal, he said, underwrites the company without impacting the founders’ credit. 

Another accelerator for its products was how the pandemic forced teams to work remotely. Founders and CFOs needed a way to provide access to corporate payments while maintaining control, Shady pointed out. Tribal’s platform aims to streamline financial operations for a distributed team. 

Of course, Tribal is not the only company offering credit cards for startups. Brex, which has amassed $465 million in venture capital funding to date, also markets a credit card tailored for startups. While the companies are similar, there is a distinct difference, according to Shady: “Emerging market SMEs have different pains, particularly when it comes to cross-border payments.”

Tribal’s initial efforts are focused on Latin America, in particular Mexico, which is the startup’s biggest market.

Its new capital will go toward accelerating its growth in the region, according to Shady. In particular, the equity will go toward growing Tribal’s leadership team in Mexico, while the debt will fuel the company’s customers’ growing credit lines, Shady said.

“We have invested heavily in our product over the past year,” Shady said. “We’re the first mover in our segment in LatAm with a diverse suite of SME products that includes corporate cards, wire payments and treasury services. We’re incredibly excited by the future ahead of us in Mexico and beyond.” 

Customers include Minu, Ben and Frank, Fairplay and SLM, among others.

Looking ahead, Tribal is exploring four other Latin American markets and expects to be operational in one new market by year’s end, according to Shady.

Image Credits: Tribal Credit

QED Investors partner Lauren Morton said her firm has been following payments and the lending needs of SMEs in emerging markets closely.

“Compared with everything else we’ve seen in this market, Tribal has a differentiated and superior product that meets customers’ needs in a way that no competitor can match,” she said in a written statement. 

Morton went on to note that Tribal has had strong traction in Mexico, with adoption from “fast-growing startups” across the country, including many companies within QED’s own portfolio. 

PFG is providing the debt facility for Tribal. In addition to funding from PFG’s global fund, the firm will be co-investing from its Latin America Growth Lending Fund in partnership with IDB Invest and SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank. 

Tribal Credit previously raised $7.8 million in a series of seed rounds. The latest round brings its total raised to $42.1 million. Tribal Credit also joined Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, a move that it said should accelerate its integration with Visa’s global payment network.  The company currently has 75 employees, up from 31 last year.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/21/tribal-credit-which-provides-credit-cards-to-startups-in-emerging-markets-raises-34-3m/

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European Commission Reveals Rules & Actions for AI in the European Union

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Today, the European Commission proposed new rules and actions as part of an effort to turn the European Union into a global hub for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The “first-ever” legal framework is designed to ensure trust and safety while fostering AI innovation.

In a speech by EC Executive Vice President Margarethe Vestager, five obligations were outlined for AI in Europe:

  • AI providers are required to feed their systems with high-quality data to make sure the results don’t come out biased or discriminating;
  • They also need to give detailed documentation about how their AI systems work, for authorities to assess their compliance;
  • Providers must share substantial information with users to help them understand and properly use AI systems;
  • they have to ensure an appropriate level of human oversight both in the design and implementation of Artificial Intelligence;
  • and finally, they must respect the highest standards of cybersecurity and accuracy.

Vestager said that their strategy for Europe’s digital future, is to create, “an ecosystem of trust goes together with an ecosystem of excellence.”

“For Europe to become a global leader in trustworthy AI, we need to give businesses access to the best conditions to build advanced AI systems,” said Vestager. ” This is the idea behind our revised coordinated plan on Artificial Intelligence. It coordinates the investments across Member States to ensure that money from Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programs is spent where we need it the most. For instance in high-performance computing or to create facilities to test and improve AI systems.”

In a statement by the Commission, high-risk AI systems were outlined:

  • Critical infrastructures (e.g. transport), that could put the life and health of citizens at risk;
  • Educational or vocational training, that may determine the access to education and professional course of someone’s life (e.g. scoring of exams);
  • Safety components of products (e.g. AI application in robot-assisted surgery);
  • Employment, workers management and access to self-employment (e.g. CV-sorting software for recruitment procedures);
  • Essential private and public services (e.g. credit scoring denying citizens opportunity to obtain a loan);
  • Law enforcement that may interfere with people’s fundamental rights (e.g. evaluation of the reliability of evidence);
  • Migration, asylum and border control management (e.g. verification of authenticity of travel documents);
  • Administration of justice and democratic processes (e.g. applying the law to a concrete set of facts).
  • High-risk AI systems will be subject to strict obligations before they can be put on the market:

Adequate risk assessment and mitigation systems;

  1. High quality of the datasets feeding the system to minimise risks and discriminatory outcomes;
  2. Logging of activity to ensure traceability of results;
  3. Detailed documentation providing all information necessary on the system and its purpose for authorities to assess its compliance;
  4. Clear and adequate information to the user;
  5. Appropriate human oversight measures to minimise risk;
  6. High level of robustness, security and accuracy.

Overall, the goal is to create “enabling conditions for AI to grow and develop. Next steps in the policy initiative include having European Parliament and the Member States adopting the Commission’s proposals on the approach for AI, as well as Machinery Products, in the legislative procedure. Once adopted, the Regulations will be directly applicable across the EU.

Of course, AI is already fairly prolific within various industries – financial services being a key benefactor from the technology.

The EU plans to dedicate €1 billion per year in AI while attracting over €20 billion in overall investment in AI – each year.

Only time will tell if this structured approach will drive greater innovation and adoption or if a more laissez-faire policy may be superior.

The new rules, as well as Q&As, are available here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/04/174467-european-commission-reveals-rules-actions-for-ai-in-the-european-union/

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Artificial Intelligence

European Commission Reveals Rules & Actions for AI in the European Union

Avatar

Published

on

Today, the European Commission proposed new rules and actions as part of an effort to turn the European Union into a global hub for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The “first-ever” legal framework is designed to ensure trust and safety while fostering AI innovation.

In a speech by EC Executive Vice President Margarethe Vestager, five obligations were outlined for AI in Europe:

  • AI providers are required to feed their systems with high-quality data to make sure the results don’t come out biased or discriminating;
  • They also need to give detailed documentation about how their AI systems work, for authorities to assess their compliance;
  • Providers must share substantial information with users to help them understand and properly use AI systems;
  • they have to ensure an appropriate level of human oversight both in the design and implementation of Artificial Intelligence;
  • and finally, they must respect the highest standards of cybersecurity and accuracy.

Vestager said that their strategy for Europe’s digital future, is to create, “an ecosystem of trust goes together with an ecosystem of excellence.”

“For Europe to become a global leader in trustworthy AI, we need to give businesses access to the best conditions to build advanced AI systems,” said Vestager. ” This is the idea behind our revised coordinated plan on Artificial Intelligence. It coordinates the investments across Member States to ensure that money from Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programs is spent where we need it the most. For instance in high-performance computing or to create facilities to test and improve AI systems.”

In a statement by the Commission, high-risk AI systems were outlined:

  • Critical infrastructures (e.g. transport), that could put the life and health of citizens at risk;
  • Educational or vocational training, that may determine the access to education and professional course of someone’s life (e.g. scoring of exams);
  • Safety components of products (e.g. AI application in robot-assisted surgery);
  • Employment, workers management and access to self-employment (e.g. CV-sorting software for recruitment procedures);
  • Essential private and public services (e.g. credit scoring denying citizens opportunity to obtain a loan);
  • Law enforcement that may interfere with people’s fundamental rights (e.g. evaluation of the reliability of evidence);
  • Migration, asylum and border control management (e.g. verification of authenticity of travel documents);
  • Administration of justice and democratic processes (e.g. applying the law to a concrete set of facts).
  • High-risk AI systems will be subject to strict obligations before they can be put on the market:

Adequate risk assessment and mitigation systems;

  1. High quality of the datasets feeding the system to minimise risks and discriminatory outcomes;
  2. Logging of activity to ensure traceability of results;
  3. Detailed documentation providing all information necessary on the system and its purpose for authorities to assess its compliance;
  4. Clear and adequate information to the user;
  5. Appropriate human oversight measures to minimise risk;
  6. High level of robustness, security and accuracy.

Overall, the goal is to create “enabling conditions for AI to grow and develop. Next steps in the policy initiative include having European Parliament and the Member States adopting the Commission’s proposals on the approach for AI, as well as Machinery Products, in the legislative procedure. Once adopted, the Regulations will be directly applicable across the EU.

Of course, AI is already fairly prolific within various industries – financial services being a key benefactor from the technology.

The EU plans to dedicate €1 billion per year in AI while attracting over €20 billion in overall investment in AI – each year.

Only time will tell if this structured approach will drive greater innovation and adoption or if a more laissez-faire policy may be superior.

The new rules, as well as Q&As, are available here.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/04/174467-european-commission-reveals-rules-actions-for-ai-in-the-european-union/

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