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‘The money is still there,’ says APX managing director Jörg Rheinboldt

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APX is an early-stage accelerator in Berlin, but it’s not quite your average accelerator — it’s essentially a joint venture between giant European publishing house Axel Springer and Porsche, the German automaker. Earlier this month, we sat down with APX managing director Jörg Rheinboldt to discuss what makes APX different and how it’s weathering the coronavirus pandemic.

Rheinboldt has quite a bit of experience as both an entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded Alando.de, which was acquired by eBay in 1999 and donation platform betterplace.org in 2007. In 2013, he became CEO of Axel Springer Plug and Play and during his time as an investor, he put money into companies like N26, Zizoo, Blogfoster and Careship.

“We started APX because Plug and Play wanted to become more of a platform for matchmaking between startups and corporates,” Rheinboldt said when I asked him about the project’s origin. “We, the team, enjoyed investing in early-stage companies a lot and Axel Springer also enjoyed investing in early-stage startups a lot. So we decided to stop investing in new companies Axel Springer Plug and Play. We had invested in 102 companies — and focus[ed] on finding interesting teams to invest in with a new company that we needed to found.”

Image Credits: Dominik Tryba

Rheinboldt took this discussion to his boss, Mathias Döpfner, the current CEO of Axel Springer, who encouraged him to find another shareholder. “If it’s only us, you might have to do what we want — and maybe you don’t want that,” he said Döpfner told him. In looking for a partner, Rheinboldt approached the Porsche family, which he had met at some of his previous investor events. The family was looking to diversify its portfolio, so after a few more meetings, including a presentation at Porsche’s leadership summit, the two companies decided to get into this business together.

One interesting thing Rheinboldt noted — and this isn’t so much about the Porsche family as a general observation — is that family offices are often resistant to getting into venture capital, at least in Germany.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/12/the-money-is-still-there-says-apx-managing-director-jorg-rheinboldt/

Blockchain

Andreessen Horowitz triples down on blockchain startups with massive $2.2 billion Crypto Fund III

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While the cryptocurrency market’s most recent hype wave seems to be dying down after a spectacular rise, Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto arm is reaffirming its commitment to startups building blockchain projects with a hulking new $2.2 billion crypto fund.

It’s the firm’s largest vertical-specific fund ever — by quite a bit.

Andreessen Horowitz’s 2018 crypto fund ushered in $300 million of LP commitments and its second fund, which it closed in April of last year, clocked in at $515 million. The new multi-billion dollar fund not only showcases how institutional backers are growing more comfortable with cryptocurrencies, but also how Andreessen Horowitz’s assets under management have been quickly swelling to compete with other deep-pocketed firms including the ever-prolific Tiger Global.

With this announcement, Andreessen now has some $18.8 billion assets under management.

LPs are likely far less wary to take a chance on crypto after Andreessen Horowitz’s stake in Coinbase equated to some $11.2 billion at the time of the direct listing’s first trades, though the stock has slid back some 30% in recent months as the crypto market has shrunk.

Some of the firm’s other major crypto bets include NBA Top Shot maker Dapper Labs which hit a $7.5 billion valuation this spring. Blockchain infrastructure startup Dfinity raised at a $9.5 billion valuation this past September. Last year, the firm led the Series A of Uniswap, which is poised to be a major player in the Ethereum ecosystem. In addition to equity investments, a16z has also made major bets on the currencies themselves.

An earlier report from Newcomer last month reported a16z was targeting a $2 billion crypto fund and that they had already unloaded some of their crypto holdings before most cryptocurrencies took a major dive in recent weeks.

Crypto Fund III will continue to be managed by GPs Chris Dixon and Katie Haun, but the firm has also begun spinning out a more robust management team around the crypto vertical.

Anthony Albanese, who joined the firm last year from the NYSE, has been appointed COO of the division. Tomicah Tillemann, who previously served as a senior advisor to now-President Joe Biden and as chairman of the Global Blockchain Business Council, will be a16z Crypto’s Global Head of Policy. Rachael Horwitz is also coming aboard as an Operating Partner leading marketing and communications for a16z crypto; leaving Google after a stint as Coinbase’s first VP of Communications as well.

A couple other folks are also coming on in advisory capacity, including entrepreneur Alex Price and a couple others who will likely be a tad helpful in regulatory maneuverings including Bill Hinman, formerly of the SEC, and Brent McIntosh, who recently served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/andreessen-horowitz-triples-down-on-blockchain-startups-with-massive-2-2-billion-crypto-fund-iii/

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Entrepreneur

$100 million… Leta Capital wants to be a friend to Russia-speaking founders everywhere

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It’s become increasingly obvious over the last few years, as Vladimir Putin has tightened his grip on his country, that Russian entrepreneurs who want to engage properly with the rest of the world have had to leave their mother country. Gone are the days when a startup in Russia might attract attention from many Western investors. The same, alas, is true of Russian-speaking Belorussians, many of whom have left the country after brutal crackdowns there. Ukraine’s economy also remains sub-par due to the ongoing Russian aggression in the East of the country. So it’s fallen to enterprising Russian-speaking investors in and outside Russia to work out the best ways to harness the obvious talent out there.

Leta Capital makes a play of investing in Russian-speaking entrepreneurs based just about anywhere. It’s now launching its third and largest fund to date and says it will invest over $100 million in UK, European, and US-based growth-stage tech companies over the next three years. Its focus will be Seed/ Round A / Round B investments. It intends to invest in the range of $2-5 million and will be focused on software, IT, and internet technologies

The new fund will to hone in on East European and Russian-speaking entrepreneurs. Particularly those operating out of international hubs such as London and New York.

Leta’s founder and former tech entrepreneur Alexander Chachava says Russian-speaking startups based abroad are often – these days – over-looked and under-valued by Western VCs and investors, and I dare say he’s right. Prejudice isn’t just about skin color, as we all know.

Chachava says his fund has invested over $45 million to date since 2012, going into 30 technology companies including Synthesis AI, Unigine, InDriver, NovaKid (which I covered last year) and 365Scores.

Exits include the sale of Bright Box HK to Zurich Insurance Group in 2017, and WeWork’s acquisition of sales and marketing platform Unomy.

Chachava said: “While we are significantly broadening our geographic focus towards key global hubs, our strategy effectively remains the same: to identify exciting, high-potential technology start-ups and entrepreneurs, and support them in realizing their international ambitions.”

Chachava says his own research suggests there are in excess of 17,000 Russian-speaking and East European tech entrepreneurs and start-ups active in the UK, Europe, and US.

“Our analysis shows they continue to be undervalued and overlooked for funding, despite often generating significant cash when it comes to ARR. These entrepreneurs are some of the most dynamic and technically skilled in the world, and for investors, they represent a massive untapped opportunity.”

He has a point. Significant businesses such as Telegram, Revolut, TradingView, PandaDoc, and Preply were all started by Russian speakers who are emigres from their respective Russian-influenced countries.

Leta says its first “evergreen” fund of $15 million was fully deployed in early 2020, delivering a gross IRR of 27% per annum to investors. Its second $50 million fund had its first closing in September 2018 and has committed about 60% of its capital, says the company.

Leta will invest out of an entity in the Cayman Islands, but doesn’t plan to have an office right now, and nor will it need it to invest.

As Chachava told me over a Zoom call: “The last two years, we have not been not traveling too much, our work has been downgraded to Zoom calls. But before that, we spent a couple of months in the US, a couple of months in Western Europe. I was a frequent visitor to London but I don’t think we need space anymore in our modern world.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/23/100-million-leta-capital-wants-to-be-a-friend-to-russia-speaking-founders-everywhere/

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AI

HPE acquires Determined AI to bolster its high-performance compute business

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Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced it has acquired Determined AI, a San Francisco, California-based startup developing an open source platform for building machine learning models. The two companies say the deal will combine Determined AI’s software with HPE’s high-performance computing (HPC) offerings. Terms of the deal weren’t publicly disclosed.

Building and training machine learning models are among the most demanding stages in AI development because researchers must face challenges in HPC. These include setting up and managing parallel workloads and configuring infrastructure that spans compute, storage, fabric, and accelerators. Researchers also need to know how to program, schedule, and train their models to maximize utilization of the infrastructure they’ve set up.

Determined AI, which was cofounded in 2017 by Ameet Talwalkar, Evan Sparks, and Neil Conway, counts among its key contributors Ph.D. students and faculty from the University of California, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. The company’s platform helps set up, fine-tune, manage, and share workstations and clusters that run on-premises or in the cloud, as well as speeding up model training via capabilities like accelerator scheduling, advanced hyperparameter optimization, and neural architecture search. (Hyperparameters are variables whose values are used to control the learning process, while neural architecture search is a technique for automating the design of particular AI models.)

Determined AI claims it accelerated AI-guided drug discovery for one customer from three days to three hours. “The Determined AI team is excited to join HPE, who shares our vision to realize the potential of AI,” Sparks said. “Over the last several years, building AI applications has become extremely compute-, data-, and communication-intensive. By combining with HPE’s industry-leading HPC and AI solutions, we can accelerate our mission to build cutting-edge AI applications and significantly expand our customer reach.”

Growth in HPC

With the Determined AI purchase, HPE is chasing after an HPC market that’s becoming red hot. According to IDC, the accelerated AI server segment is expected to grow by 38% each year to reach $18 billion by 2024. And Intersect360 Research notes that the demand for HPC will increase by more than 40% to reach almost $55 billion in revenue by 2024.

In May, HPE expanded its GreenLake hybrid cloud services platform with a new data services cloud console, a suite of infrastructure management services, and HPE Alletra, cloud-native infrastructure for edge-to-cloud data workflows. In December 2020, HPE took the wraps off HPE GreenLake cloud services, a pay-per-use service providing access to fully managed, prebundled services based on HPC systems.

“As we enter the Age of Insight, our customers recognize the need to add machine learning to deliver better and faster answers from their data,” HPE SVP Justin Hotard said in a press release. “AI-powered technologies will play an increasingly critical role in turning data into readily available, actionable information to fuel this new era. Determined AI’s unique open source platform allows machine learning engineers to build models faster and deliver business value sooner without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. I am pleased to welcome the world-class Determined AI team, who share our vision to make AI more accessible for our customers and users, into the HPE family.”

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Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/06/21/hpe-acquires-determined-ai-to-bolster-its-high-performance-compute-business/

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AI

Transform 2021: Where does your enterprise stand on the AI adoption curve?

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Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


VentureBeat’s annual AI survey returns alongside Transform 2021 this July 12-16, 2021. 

Transform, the world’s leading event on applied AI for enterprise business & technology decision makers, will host thousands of executives across industries to share their AI and data technology stories. 

VentureBeat is bringing back its AI survey to sample leaders who are innovating and integrating AI and other large data projects into their workflows and product development, as well as those who are interested in learning how to get started. It takes just a few minutes, and in return, you’ll get an exclusive look at the full results. You’ll also be invited to join Transform as a VIP passholder and hear from Matt Marshall, CEO at VentureBeat, on July 16th for top learnings and trends gleaned from results. 

Attendees from across the globe will join Transform online to hear from top industry experts on strategy and technology in the main application areas of AI/ML automation technology, data, analytics, intelligent automation, conversational AI, intelligent AI assistants, AI at the edge, IoT, & computer vision. Executives from enterprises in healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, security, and technology, are invited to join vertical tracks at Transform 2021. Take the AI survey or register today to join VentureBeat for 5 days of AI and data.  

To learn more about where your company stands on the AI adoption curve, and how the market is evolving in the data-driven era, take the VB AI Survey now, and join VentureBeat at the AI and data event of the year. Responses must be completed by July 9 at 5 P.M. Pacific.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/06/17/transform-2021-where-does-your-enterprise-stand-on-the-ai-adoption-curve/

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