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China’s SenseTime postpones $767 million Hong Kong IPO after U.S. ban

Chinese artificial intelligence start-up SenseTime Group postponed its $767 million Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) on Monday after being placed on a U.S. investment blacklist.

SenseTime said it remained committed to completing the offering and would publish a supplemental prospectus and an updated listing timetable.

Reuters first reported earlier on Monday the company’s plan to withdraw the offering and update its prospectus to include the potential impact of the U.S. investment ban, with the aim of relaunching the IPO process.

SenseTime had planned to sell 1.5 billion shares in a price range of HK$3.85 to HK$3.99, according to its regulatory filings. That would raise up to $767 million, a figure that had already been trimmed earlier this year from a $2 billion target.

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A fintech helping banks enter the cloud hits $1 billion valuation in JPMorgan-backed investment

British fintech start-up Thought Machine has raised $200 million in a fresh round of funding that lifts its valuation above the coveted $1 billion mark.

The cash injection was led by Nyca Partners, a U.S.-based venture capital firm that has previously bet on companies including Affirm and Revolut, with additional backing coming from major lenders including JPMorgan ChaseStandard Chartered and ING.

Existing investors Lloyds Banking GroupEurazeo, and SEB also increased their holdings.

Founded in 2014 by former Google engineer Paul Taylor, Thought Machine says its software helps big banks move away from legacy IT infrastructure to a modern, cloud-based platform.

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European start-up funding triples to a new record above $100 billion this year

Start-ups in the region are on track to haul in a record $121 billion in funding this year, according to a report from venture capital firm Atomico, roughly three times the $41 billion of capital raised in 2020.

It’s the first time European start-ups have raised more than $100 billion in a single year, and highlights surging interest from investors in the continent’s rapidly-growing tech industry.

“It’s been a defining year for European tech,” Tom Wehmeier, Atomico’s head of insights, told CNBC. “I think what we’ve seen in the numbers is that European tech is creating value faster than ever.”

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Didi’s US departure shifts IPO train into reverse

Ridehailing leader Didi Global is planning to pull its New York-listed shares and go public in Hong Kong as competing US-China regulatory agendas leave Chinese companies with little room to maneuver.

A recent surge in Chinese companies listing in the US came to an abrupt halt over the summer as Beijing’s tech crackdown intensified. Valued at nearly $68 billion in its IPO, Didi was the largest of a cohort that also included trucking platform Full Truck Alliance and real estate heavyweight Beike.

The SEC took a step closer to delisting Chinese firms on Thursday by finalizing rules that require foreign companies to open their books to US regulatory oversight. SEC Chair Gary Gensler wrote in a September op-ed that 270 companies in China and Hong Kong could be booted from US exchanges by early 2024 if they do not comply. 

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Nuclear fusion start-up Helion scores $375 million investment from Open AI CEO Sam Altman

Nuclear fusion is the ephemeral holy grail of climate technology. It would provide nearly limitless amounts of clean energy without the byproduct of long-lasting radioactive waste to be managed.

It’s also the biggest bet Silicon Valley luminary Sam Altman has ever made.

“This is the biggest investment I’ve ever made,” Altman told CNBC of his $375 million investment in Helion Energy, announced Friday. It’s part of a larger $500 million round that the start-up will use to complete the construction of a fusion facility near its headquarters in Everett, Washington.

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The founder of Google Brain has raised $57 million for his A.I. start-up

Artificial intelligence pioneer Andrew Ng, the founder of the Google Brain research lab and the former chief scientist of Baidu, has raised $57 million from investors for his start-up, Landing AI, at an undisclosed valuation.

Founded in Palo Alto in 2017, Landing AI is focused on bringing artificial intelligence to manufacturing companies. It has developed a computer vision tool that manufacturers can use to create their own visual inspection software.

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Clubhouse co-founder opens up on growing pains: ‘It’s been quite an 18 months’

Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison is a bundle of energy when he joins the Microsoft Teams call from his home in California.

His high spirits contrast with the popularity of his audio-only chat app. Launched in March 2020, the app went semi-viral earlier this year before it tumbled dramatically in Apple’s App Store rankings.

“It’s been quite an 18 months,” Davison told CNBC.

Clubhouse, which was initially only available on iPhone, enables users to find and listen to conversations between people. Users join “rooms,” where friends and strangers discuss everything from cryptocurrency and politics to diets and video games. Hosts can “pass the mic” to others in the room and listeners can raise their hand when they want to speak.

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Crypto exchange FTX raises $420 million from 69 investors, in meme funding round

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX says it has raised $420 million in a new round of funding, valuing the company at $25 billion.

The Bahamas-based firm said Thursday it raised the fresh cash from a total of 69 investors including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, Singapore’s Temasek, BlackRock and Sequoia.

Specifically, the company said it attracted a total of $420,690,000 in its latest round, with the numbers “420” and “69″ being an obvious nod to meme culture.

The investment is a top-up to FTX’s series B financing round in July, in which it raised $900 million at an $18 billion valuation. FTX said it also scored an additional $100 million from Temasek which was not disclosed at the time.

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Google search rival Ecosia launches $405 million VC fund to back climate tech start-ups

Ecosia, the search engine that uses its ad revenue to plant trees, has launched a 350 million euro ($405 million) venture capital fund focused on the climate crisis.

The so-called World Fund will invest in the “next generation” of founders looking to tackle the issue, Ecosia said, and will measure its success on “climate returns” as well as financial returns.

“Our goal is to solve climate change,” Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll told CNBC ahead of the launch on Tuesday, just days before the COP26 climate summit.

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