OpenAI, the AI research company cofounded by Elon Musk, has made an AI tool which can generate fake text.The company isn't open-sourcing the system because it fears it could be misused, for example to infinitely generating negative or positive reviews.AI research nonprofit OpenAI has created a system that can generate fake text from a single line — and it's not open-sourcing the code for fear of misuse.OpenAI was cofounded by tech mogul Elon Musk, and its sponsors include Silicon Valley heavy-hitters such as Peter Thiel and Amazon Web Services.Last year it gained the praise of Bill Gates after it built a team of five neural networks capable of beating human players in the computer game "Dota 2."Read more: Bill Gates hails "huge milestone" for AI as bots work in a team to destroy humans at video game "Dota 2"
Recent contributions like Google’s BERT, a framework that can train state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP) models in a few hours on a single graphics card, and Facebook’s PyText, which produces over a billion daily predictions for the social network’s apps and services, have nudged the needle forward.Over the course of its roughly four-year history, the San Francisco-based nonprofit has investigated autonomous systems that can achieve superhuman performance in Pong and Montezuma’s Revenge and defeat professional Dota players — not to mention imbuing mechanical hands with humanlike dexterity.The pioneering models build on OpenAI’s prior research, which suggests that unsupervised learning — an AI training technique in which machine learning algorithms learn patterns from unclassified, unannotated data — can be used to orient generic models to specific language tasks.These neurons are connected with “synapses” that transmit signals to other neurons, and they’re arranged in layers.Groupings of neurons transmit signals at different rates than others, and they route the signals to subsequent layers somewhat intelligently.This architectural tweak — combined with a 40GB corpus of 8 million internet reviews, social media posts, and articles equivalent to about 10 billion words — enables OpenAI’s models to query past learnings for relevant information, like the names of the people mentioned in a story or objects in a room.
The New York-based company said this week it raised $25 million in Series B round, led by Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures.Jetty offers low-cost insurance for renters.It competes with insurtech startups like Lemonade and insurance giants like State Farm and Geico.Last year, US based insurtech companies raised $2 billion, a record year, according to Pitchbook.2019 is starting off equally hot.Kholsa partner Keith Rabois, a co-founder of Paypal and an early employee of LinkedIn, is also joining Jetty's board.
Cluno, the Munich startup providing what it calls a “car subscription” service, has raised $28 million in Series B funding.The round is led by Valar Ventures, the U.S.-based venture capital firm founded by Peter Thiel.Acton Capital Partners and Atlantic Labs, which both backed the company’s Series A round, also participated.Founded in 2017 by the same team behind easyautosale (which exited to Autoscout24 in 2015), Cluno offers an alternative to car ownership or a more restrictive lease by enabling you to subscribe to a car for an all-inclusive monthly fee.Available in Germany only, you book your car online or via the Cluno app, with the monthly fee covering all costs except fuel.This sees bookings, as well as credit checks and signatures, all carried out paperlessly via the Cluno app.
Bryan Goldberg, founder and CEO of Bustle Digital Group, has made an offer on the remaining Gizmodo Media Group blogs, according to the New York Post.While the plan was to relaunch this month, the company faced backlash after its two reporters abruptly quit last week.Gizmodo Media Group, which includes blogs like Jezebel and Deadspin, is up for sale by Univision, which bought the assets for $135 million in 2016.A Gizmodo Media Group reunion could soon be in order.Bryan Goldberg, founder and CEO of Bustle Digital Group, is looking to buy up the remaining the blogs of the former Gawker Media empire, according to the New York Post.Last week, Goldberg's company Bustle Digital Group sent an offer between $30 million and $40 million to Morgan Stanley, the bank working with Gizmodo's parent company Univision, according to the report.
As a business, Petal is certainly an interesting one.Although this idea is not necessarily mainstream, the concept is not new.Orange is another example of a company which is taking an alternative approach in finance.For example, the ability to consistently pay mobile phone or broadband bills on time and in full, could contribute to understanding the risk associated with an individual applying for a personal loan.Of course, an idea is only good as its success, and Petal has had a strong start in the FinTech world.With the new cash Petal’s CEO Jason Gross hopes to expand the customer base, hire new talent and bring new features to the product.
Petal, a fintech startup that offers credit cards to people without credit scores, has raised $30 million in a series B round of funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with participation from a host of other investors, including Greyhound Capital, Third Prime Capital, RiverPark Ventures, the Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Afore Capital, Rosecliff Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, New Ground Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Ride Ventures, Story Ventures, and the Gramercy Fund.This latest round is the company’s third institutional cash injection in the space of a year, following its $13 million series A round last January and a $34 million debt-infused financing in October.Petal launched its credit card as part of a pilot way back in September 2017, though it didn’t fully launch to the public until October of the following year.Founded out of New York in 2016, Petal offers an alternative credit card that meshes “data and common sense” to qualify applicants.It’s worth noting that Petal doesn’t charge fees, as such; instead it makes money from merchant transaction fees and from consumer interest payments if they don’t pay their full balance when it’s due.Additionally, the Petal app doesn’t highlight interest rates — instead it displays all the numbers in dollar amounts.
The prospects are improving for turning psychedelics into approved medical treatments.Speaking this week at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, a leading neuroscientist said drugs like magic mushrooms and MDMA are moving closer to regulatory approval.If given the green light, the drugs could be used to treat a variety of mental health indications, including depression and PTSD.In a handful of people diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease, a single dose of magic mushrooms appeared to quell their anxiety about death.There, a leading British scientist who studies the impact of psychedelics on the brain said things are looking up for psychedelics turning into approved treatments.The drugs appear to have a unique ability to treat conditions that fail to respond to even the best current treatments.
Valar Ventures, one of the three venture funds co-founded by Peter Thiel, has filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $350 million across two new funds.The PayPal co-founder and billionaire investor in Facebook and SpaceX is also behind Founders Fund and Mithril Capital Management.Valar, a New York-based firm, plans to raise $150 million for its fifth flagship venture fund and an additional $200 million for its first opportunity fund, presumably for follow-on investments in its most high-growth investments, according to the documents.Led by general partners Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald, Valar tends to invest in financial services companies.Its portfolio includes fintech startups N26, which recently raised a $300 million round at a $2.6 billion valuation, banking application Even and peer-to-peer currency exchange TransferWise.Valar closed its debut fund on $32 million in 2014 and has since set its sights on larger pools of capital.
There’s an app for everything, a vendor for everything, so why isn’t everything perfect yet?The most overlooked economist of the 20th century, Ronald Coase, focused on friction.What results from usage costs is a ruthless competition to out-use technology, that forces everyone to work harder and harder to extract the most utility from these tools.The Greeks had a word, dynamis: the potential that exists within things.Every year, the dynamis of technology increases, but our usage only captures a small fraction of that expanding potential.Even though technology is limited by science, progress continues because, so far, technology has only captured a small fraction of the dynamis of science — it is already hundreds of years behind, so there’s room to catch up.
N26, a German fintech startup backed by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, raised $300 million in a series D funding round.The financing comes just 10 months after N26's last funding round and will be used to facilitate the company's expansion into the US market.N26, a German digital banking company backed by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, is now the most valuable fintech in Europe.The company on Thursday said it had raised $300 million in a series D funding round that values it $2.7 billion.That's more than red hot $1.7 billion UK-based fintech Revolut.Venture firm Insight Venture Partner is leading the latest funding round alongside Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC.
Germany-headquartered mobile banking startup N26 has raised a whopping $300 million in a series D round of funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and a handful of existing investors.This raise officially elevates N26 into the much-coveted unicorn club, bestowing upon it a valuation of $2.7 billion.Founded in 2013 as Number26, the Berlin-based fintech startup rebranded as N26 in 2016 just as it obtained its own banking license.The underlying pitch behind N26 is one of speed and efficiency — it’s available only on mobile and the web, and it promises that anyone can open an account within minutes of applying.N26 launched originally in Germany and Austria, but it has been gradually expanding across the Europe and now claims more than 2 million customers in 24 European markets.Notably, N26 announced way back in 2017 that it was gearing up to launch in the U.S., its first non-European market, however that never quite materialized — it revealed a few months ago that it was instead pushing its U.S. launch date back to the first quarter of 2019.
But in 2010, 32 different investors bought a chunk of the company for much less.If Uber goes public as planned in 2019, nine years and billions of dollars worth of investments will be returned to investors smart enough — or lucky enough — to have made a bet on the company's success.Investors in its most recent round, a $1.25 billion Series G1 led by SoftBank, bought their shares at a $68.33 billion valuation.But it was just nine years ago that Uber raised a $1.57 million seed funding round, which valued the company at $3.86 million.There were 32 investors in Uber's seed funding round, which was led by First Round Capital, with participation from venture capital firms Founder Collective, Lowercase Capital, and Kapor Capital.But that total also included dozens of individuals who made the history-altering decision to participate in Uber's earliest raise, according to data compiled from PitchBook.
Despite some notable names like Dropbox and Spotify, 2018 turned out just to be a so-so year for tech IPOs.That trend softened even further in the fourth quarter thanks to global economic concerns, political uncertainty, and stock market volatility.Which means conditions heading into 2019 are not exactly ripe.That said, the top 8 companies on the cusp of or considering going public this coming year could, and big emphasis on could, make it a blockbuster year.1) Uber: CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been pointing to next year almost since he came aboard, and now the company has reportedly hired Morgan Stanley as its banker.The company is one of the world’s most valuable private companies, but loses huge amounts of cash.
A year ago, crypto was reaching ever new highs, and I was talking about whether ICOs would supplant the VC funding round and warning about Kim Jong Un’s crypto trading operations.Crypto prices are near rock-bottom prices, with Bitcoin hanging around $4,000 and Ethereum around $113, down from their highs earlier this year of around $16,600 and $1,400, respectively.While that has put a dampener on the enthusiasm of a lot of cryptocurrency retail investors, the bigger question is how do institutional players work through this market?What’s the strategy for finding value in this technology sector long-term?He’s the founder of Layer1, which announced a $2.1 million fundraise this week from Peter Thiel, Digital Currency Group and Jeffrey Tarrant.Liegl saw a huge challenge in the blockchain and cryptocurrency spaces: too many good ideas and not enough developers working on product development work.
Uber employees are most likely start the next class of hot, new startups, according to First Round Capital's "2018 State of Startups" report.The survey found that 23% of respondents believed Uber employees were the most likely to become the next generation of notable founders within the next five years.Around 16% thought Slack employees had the best shot, and around 15% thought they would come from Stripe.The most infamous group of alumni was the "PayPal Mafia," the group of PayPal founders and early executives that included the likes of Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and Elon Musk.Uber employees are most likely start the next class of hot, new startups.That's according to First Round Capital's "2018 State of Startups" report that was released on Thursday.
In testimony to Congress about the causes of that crisis, Ben Bernanke said: “The propensity for excessive risk-taking by … interconnected firms must be greatly reduced.”We’re seeing that kind of dangerous interconnectedness again — this time in the startup sector.Slack, WeWork, even giants like Amazon are seeking to make more money faster off of other startups that are rich with cash and known for profligate spending.Startups are encouraged to go after other startups as customers, thanks to a cocktail of strategies like Lean and land-and-expand, making for an interconnected ecosystem where much of the risk is hidden.Even more so, investment money that was once fearful of business models built selling to “SMBs” (small and medium sized businesses) — in saner times referred to as “The startup death zone” — now chases those dollars as the land of endlessly promised “growth.”Like banking in 2007, easy money has bloated the technology sector, leading to riskier investments.
Asana, the business productivity platform cofounded by Facebook co-creator Dustin Moskovitz, has raised $50 million in a series E round of funding led by Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment firm cofounded by Al Gore.Participants in the round included 8VC, Benchmark Capital, Founders Fund, Lead Edge Capital, and World Innovation Lab.With its $75 million cash injection back in January, the San Francisco-based company has now raised a total of $125 million in 2018 — giving it a $1.5 billion valuation, up from $900 million at its last round.Asana is a team-based task-management app founded by Moskovitz and software engineer Justin Rosenstein, who is credited with developing such early Google products as Gmail chat and who helped develop the original Facebook “Like” button.The duo left Facebook in 2008 to kickstart Asana, though the product didn’t launch to the public for another four years.Asana has managed to lure some notable financial backers, including Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and Peter Thiel.
Datasets are the lifeblood of artificial intelligence (AI) — they’re what make models tick, so to speak.But data without corresponding annotations is, depending on the type of algorithm at play (i.e., supervised versus unsupervised), more or less useless.That’s why sample-labeling startups like Scale have raised tens of millions of dollars and attracted clients like Uber and General Motors.And it’s why Kevin Guo and Dmitriy Karpman cofounded Hive, a startup which uses annotated data supplied by hundreds of thousands of volunteers to train domain-specific AI models.Hive, which employs nearly 100 people, launched its flagship trio of products — Hive Data, Hive Predict, and Hive Enterprise — shortly before raising over $30 million in venture capital from PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and others.“We built [Hive] because we felt that while there’s a lot of excitement around AI and deep learning, we didn’t see many practical applications being built,” Guo told VentureBeat in a phone interview.