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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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Climate tech start-ups have raised a record $32 billion globally so far in 2021

Technology companies working on combating climate change have raised a record breaking $32 billion so far this year, according to a report published Tuesday.

The amount of venture capital money flowing into climate tech this year has already exceeded the whole of 2020, the report by venture capital analysis firm Dealroom and promotional agency London & Partners said.

Meanwhile, investment in climate tech has more than quadrupled since 2016, when investors backed start-ups in the in the sector with just $6.6 billion.

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Big-name U.S. tech investors are moving in on Europe in increasing numbers

 A growing number of renowned U.S. tech investors are moving to Europe to capitalize on the continent’s start-ups.

It comes after several European tech companies saw their valuations sky-rocket during the coronavirus pandemic. Online events platform Hopin saw its valuation soar to $7.75 billion within two years of its incorporation, while buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna was most recently valued at $46 billion.

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Startups enter uncharted waters—with help from VCs

Investors believe that precision maps made with far-flung sensors can turn profits, as climate threats call for novel ways to monitor a changing planet.

  • Ocean data startup Saildrone has raised a $100 million Series C led by Bond Capital, with XNStandard InvestmentsEmerson Collective and Crowley Maritime also participating.
  • The California startup made waves recently when one of its solar- and wind-powered drones captured video from inside Hurricane Sam and survived the voyage. The company’s data is used for defense applications, climate and weather forecasting, and monitoring of fisheries and wind farms.
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German food delivery giant Delivery Hero leads $1 billion investment in grocery start-up Gorillas

German food delivery firm Delivery Hero has invested $235 million in Gorillas, an online grocery start-up, as part of a $1 billion funding round.

Gorillas was founded in May 2020 but has grown at a rapid clip as demand for its service, which ships groceries to people’s doors in as little as 10 minutes, took off during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s one of several European start-ups competing in an increasingly crowded space. Rivals include Turkish company Getir, British firm Zapp and German peer Flink.

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SoftBank leads $640 million investment in Klarna, valuing buy-now-pay-later firm at $46 billion

Swedish fintech firm Klarna said Thursday that it raised $639 million in a new funding round led by SoftBank, valuing the company at $45.6 billion. Klarna is one of the largest providers of “buy-now-pay-later” services, which let people finance their shopping purchases interest-free over a period of monthly instalments. These services have become particularly popular since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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