Artificial intelligence has been heralded as the trend in the tech industry presently. In the latest news on that front, China’s Huawei and University of California, Berkeley are forging a research partnership focusing on basic Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. The Chinese technology company will be providing US$1 million into funding the research.
Additionally, the partnership will be between Huawei Noah’s Ark Laboratory and Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR), with the research unit being billed as “a strategic partnership into basic research” will be concentrated on the development of machine learning, AI and data mining.
As such, Huawei and UC Berkeley researches will work on the next wave of Artificial Intelligence technology, specifically catering to specific AI related domains such as deep learning, machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision and reinforcement learning.
But ultimately, the aim of the partnership is not only to advance Artificial Intelligence research but instead to find uses for the technology among the daily life of the society, that is into real-world application rather than have it confined as mere theoretical models in the laboratory.
“The two parties believe that this strategic partnership will fuel the advancement of AI technology and create completely new experiences for people, thus contributing greatly to society at large,” said Huawei.
In practicality, the advancements made at the Berkeley lab would be similar to Google with its AI assistant or Microsoft and its Cortana virtual assistance, that is adding an AI powered feature into the smartphone or tablet software.
Organization: Unicorn Media
Malaysian startup and incubator ecosystem now has a new player on the block. Next Unicorn Ventures (NUV), a Malaysia-based early-stage capital and incubator firm will invest in seed rounds of exceptional startups in the Asia Pacific region which are founded with great passion and vision that set out to disrupt the world. The board has appointed Daniel Tan as the Chief Executive Officer.
“Our goal is to make lead investment in early-to-middle stages startups, specifically focusing on their pre-Series A seed rounds. Daniel Tan is the perfect leader to drive this forward as he has very good business acumen, experienced both as an investor and growing of startups, as well as leadership in marketing and business development,” said a shareholder of Next Unicorn Ventures.
Daniel Tan, who is also serving as the CEO of MarketersMEDIA leads the company to serve more than 50,000 customers globally. Notably MarketersMEDIA has also grown to become a leading News and Press Release newswire connecting business with media outlets including CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, AssociatedPress, Reuters and more, in a mission to gather audiences for businesses. MarketersMEDIA is named the official newswire to assist PR and content marketing for Next Unicorn Ventures’ portfolio companies.
“All businesses exist because of customers,” is the motto Daniel Tan strides on. His user-first approach has gathered him more than 100 published testimonials from companies, individuals and customers. And undoubtedly, this would be a required trait to grow startups the firm seeds.
To-date, NUV has invested in 2 startups, a hotel startup running under the DoubleTree by Hilton and CitizenM brands and a gaming company positioned to run the first ever VR theme park in Malaysia, who has just won South East Asia Champion in Create@Alibaba Cloud Startup Contest recently.
“We look forward to build a portfolio of 20 to 25 companies in the next few years and at the same time to assist related players and circles to build Malaysia’s roadshow platform and incubators,” Daniel Tan added, “as we believe startups have the unique ability to move humanity forward in an unprecedented manner.”
For more information, please visit http://nextunicorn.ventures/
About Next Unicorn:
Next Unicorn is an early-stage capital and incubator seeking to invest in pre-Series A seed rounds. The company pursues, advises and invests in startups cutting across different industries. Ultimately, their goal is to identify unique companies that can deliver extraordinary practical values and make a change in the world.
Name: Vivian Foo
Organization: Unicorn Media
Uber, a non-traditional asset, has just seen the investment of RM124mil by KWAP, Kuala Lumpur’s second largest pension fund. Following in the footsteps of Khazanah Nasional’s investment in tech start-ups seems to be the fuel behind Retirement Fund, Inc. (KWAP) investment of $30 million (U.S.) into the modern car-hailing Uber app. The recent round of funding, G series, began last year.
Investing in a unique asset is expected to benefit within the low interest rate environment. KWAP sources site technology investments within the firm as a growth sector beneficial to explore.
Currently, KWAP is handling RM123 billion funds and is reviewing its portfolio to include riskier investments as well as doubling investment allocations in private equity firms as well. Presently, 90 percent of KWAP investments are found in traditional assets including fixed income and equity, while 10 percent is invested in alternative investments.
KWAP seems to be following the trends of other conservative managers globally who are seeking to enhance performance in today’s challenging market and technology is particularly appealing.
KWAP joins Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, who invested $3.5 billion (U.S.) in the recent Uber fund-raising round. Uber is among one of the most funded start-ups globally with its lightning fast expansion into 70 countries worldwide.
Since its original launch in 2013 in Malaysia, Uber has successfully completed nine rounds of funding valued at $12.9 billion (U.S.). Presently Uber reports $13 billion (U.S.) in cash and credit available with losses of $1.2 billion (U.S.) in the first half of this year.
The Khazanah investment was performed via private equity funding, along with hundreds of millions of other start-ups including Fractal Analytics and Garena.
Palo Alto based Sapphire Ventures, owned by SAP, secures $1 Billion to invest in a new $700 Million growth fund and a $300 Million tech fund.
Following on the heels of a large group of venture groups – including Lightspeed Ventures Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Founders Fund, and Andreessen Horowitz – Sapphire Ventures joins the circle raising $1 Billion plus in 2016.
Like Wells Fargo and Norwest, Sapphire, along with limited partner SAP do not consider themselves corporate venture, but rather classic venture firms who do not invest by funding companies that can be sold to their partners.
Sapphire became an independent unit in 2011, and has subsequently funded 14 companies which have already moved from private to public and includes familiar names like Apigee, Box, and Square. In addition, Sapphire funded 33 acquisitions including the wildly popular LinkedIn.
Sapphire targets companies with a minimum of $5 million in revenue and invests in startups providing funds of up to $25 million.
Razer is a company that has been making gaming peripherals and hardware for almost twenty years now. Razer recently caused considerable excitement by entering the software market, and this looks as if it could be the start of an exponential broadening of their horizons.
The company has now created zVentures, a venture capitalist funding group designed with the future of tech in mind. They are looking to fund ambitious new projects covering the Internet of Things, Gaming and Virtual Reality.
Out Of Many, One
The company already had a $5 million fund for an open source compatible VR headset and another to push the boundaries of Android gaming. These will now be part of zVentures, enabling a broader strategic overview on where all the money is going, and making smarter connections across the company’s networks and touchpoints.
Much More Than Money
What will be exciting for developers is that a successful bid will not only give them access to the funding they need to develop their idea, but also the infrastructure and expertise of the company, their hardware and software development capabilities and more, including retail distribution on a global scale.
A Model That Works
Razer aren’t the first company to do this. HTC have made big waves by getting into the VR game with the Vive, which looks like it may pay dividends. Intel Capital and Slack Fund are both branches of conventional IT businesses that aim to attract and develop potential business partners. Razer are not to be sniffed at however, with access to 20 million active product users.
Back End Funds
The company aren’t only looking for their next flashy tech innovation – they’re also looking at funding back end optimization tools including supply chain management, sales and marketing approaches, and more. They are aware they have to continually evolve their own business practice, not just their products, to stay ahead.
A Connected World
While VR and Gaming seem obvious, the choice to invest innovations around the Internet of Things is a fascinating and exciting development, and one that takes this new to the next level. Installing everyday devices with network connectivity and ‘smart’ functions that send and receive data will allow more customizable environments and interactions than ever before. The applications of this to VR and augmented reality are only just beginning to be explored, but Razer clearly want to get ahead of the curve.
A Start Up With Titan Backing
If asked to name the one titan of the computing hardware industry, you’d probably say Intel. Well good news! Intel is on board, and even raised a round of investment for Razer which included Accel, IDG, LianLuo and more. With international investment in Razer, and many of the same investors chipping into the zVentures pot, the reach of any product successfully funded by the project increases exponentially.
Companies that join Razer will therefore be able to pick up best practices from a company that itself used to be a start-up.