Author: Jonathan Shieber

SEC cools traders’ hot plans for cryptocurrency-based exchange traded funds

TECHCRUNCH The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has serious concerns about the securities industry’s plans to create exchange traded funds around cryptocurrency. In a strongly worded letter to the heads of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Investment Company Institute, the director of the division of investment management, Dalia Blass said that there were “significant outstanding questions” around how funds that held large amounts of cryptocurrencies (and related products) would satisfy the necessary regulatory requirements. In the letter Blass identified a number of areas of concern for the regulatory agency including the valuation of underlying cryptocurrency...

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Bringing luxury perks to co-living life, Ollie raises cash to expand

TECHCRUNCH As rents continue to soar in America’s most desirable cities, companies like New York-based Ollie (no, not that one… the other one) are angling to transform the real-estate market with an updated version of an old model of co-living spaces. Once all the rage (from the 1920s through the 1960s), co-living is back again. A slew of entrants from early stage startups like Common, HubHaus, Pure House and Roam Co-living to better financed entrants like WeLive (from the multi-billion dollar shared office company, WeWork) and PMGx, are building businesses (and apartment buildings) to capitalize on the highly competitive and increasingly...

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Expanding into new markets, Namely adds former Box exec, Graham Younger, as President

TECHCRUNCH Graham Younger, a former executive vice president of Box and longtime enterprise software executive, is joining the human resources services provider Namely as its new President. The New York-based company which provides human resources management software for mid-sized companies is growing and has plans to expand its geographic footprint with offices in Los Angeles and Atlanta. And Younger is seen as key to that effort, and the company’s march toward an eventual public offering. Younger’s addition to the Namely organization, where he will handle operations from Los Angeles, indicates the city’s growing strength in a traditionally under-represented aspect of its startup technology landscape — enterprise software. Graham Younger, the new President of Namely Younger held roles at SAP SuccessFactors and Oracle before landing at Box. His work there brought him to the attention of Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation’s software subsidiary Nova, where he worked until the company was sold in 2016 and the Nova project wound down. “I’ve been impressed by Namely’s ability to give companies insight into their biggest investment: human capital. We’re in the midst of a talent war, and companies that are able to better serve and understand their talent will win,” says Younger in a statement.  With over $150 million raised from True Ventures, Matrix Partners and Sequoia Capital, Namely is certainly in a position to prep for a public offering — something...

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The state of Israel’s cybersecurity market

TECHCRUNCH Ofer Schreiber is a partner at YL Ventures. More posts by this contributor: Iren Reznikov Contributor Iren Reznikov is an analyst for YL Ventures. More posts by this contributor: The Equifax breach, WannaCry, NotPetya, the NSA leak, and many more cyber incidents – 2017 was certainly a busy year for hackers, illustrating yet again just how vital innovative cybersecurity solutions are in the fight against cyber threats. Second only to the U.S., in terms of cybersecurity investment 2017 was another excellent year for Israeli cybersecurity startups, with dozens of companies being formed, breaking fundraising records and producing solid exits. The 2017 data also suggest that the Israeli cybersecurity industry is maturing, as we see a shift in funding towards later stage companies. More Capital, Fewer Startups In 2017 we witnessed 60 newly founded cybersecurity startups emerge in Israel, a 28% decrease from the 83 companies founded in 2016. Conversely, the average 2017 seed round increased 16% YoY, growing from $2.85 million to $3.3 million. This is Israel’s fourth consecutive year of increasing round sizes at the seed stage – a trend that we are observing and contributing to as we write larger checks to invest in great cybersecurity entrepreneurs. One might think that the decrease in the number of cybersecurity startups is an alarming signal, warning of an industry in decline. Our view is that this is a...

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Larry Page-backed asteroid mining company launches cube-sat with experimental water detection tech

TECHCRUNCH Planetary Resources, the space mining company backed by Google’s Larry Page and Braintree founder Bryan Johnson, has taken another step in its quest to actually mine resources from asteroids and other planetary bodies. The company successfully launched its Akryd-6 cubesat, which is holding an experimental technology designed to detect water resources in space. Planetary Resources is already receiving telemetry from the spacecraft, and the company believes that the experimental technology is a critical stepping-stone for it to develop its next spacecraft platform the Arkyd-301. That technology is what Planetary Resources will use to launch its space resource exploration in earnest...

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Comcast Ventures is betting on blockchain technologies in 2018

TECHCRUNCH “In 2018 we’re doubling down on blockchain,” says Gil Beyda, managing director of Comcast Ventures, the investment arm of one of the world’s largest media and telecom companies. For the venture capital arm of Comcast, an investment in blockchain isn’t opportunistic, Beyda insists. “Just to be clear, if bitcoin were at $15 instead of $15,000 we would still be committing to this,” he said. Comcast Ventures has been looking at blockchain technology for a months, driven by Comcast and NBCUniversal’s long-standing interest in applications across several of the company’s business units. In fact, internal experiments are already underway around...

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Prototype Capital launches to take pre-seed student investing out of the Ivy League

TECHCRUNCH The two founders of Prototype Capital believe that pre-seed investment focused on student entrepreneurs needs to change. While existing micro-investment funds focused on young entrepreneurs spend their time at Ivy League schools and elite private institutions, Prototype Capital’s founders are betting on great opportunities coming from the same places that have driven Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” investment thesis (and his new Rise of the Rest fund). Founded in 2015 by Rajat Bhageria, the former chief executive of Third Eye Technologies, and Nandeet Mehta, the chief executive of Pyur Technologies, to create a network of student entrepreneurs...

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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi launches $1 billion corporate venture capital fund

TECHCRUNCH The world’s largest automaker, Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi, has launched a $1 billion corporate venture capital fund to focus on investments in “new mobility” including electrification, autonomous systems, network connectivity and artificial intelligence. Called Alliance Ventures, the fund has already made its first investment, taking an equity stake for an undisclosed amount in Ionic Materials — a Bill Joy-backed battery technology developer. The fund said that it will invest up to $200 million in start-ups and “open innovation partnerships” in its first year and expects to invest roughly the same amount over the next five years. As a strategic investor, the...

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