Displaying items by tag: startup

Uber’s growth slows as it prepares for IPO

Written on Sunday, 17 February 2019 13:37

US ride-hailing colossus Uber disclosed its financial earnings for the final quarter of 2018 which showed its revenue growth has slowed ahead of its much anticipated stock market debut.

The financial figures released by Uber indicated that for the final three months of the year its loss amounted to $865 million, compared with $1.1 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The San Francisco-based firm reported revenue of $3 billion, which represented a 25 percent increase from a year earlier. Uber remains a private company, but routinely discloses some earnings information.

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has managed to guide Uber through choppy waters since assuming the CEO role from Travis Kalanick.

He is also being tasked with the responsibility of steering the high-value startup to a stock market debut this year, and has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader that has been hit by a wave of misconduct scandals and has become embroiled in a series of legal battles regarding its services, particularly in Europe.

Revenue for the full year rose 43 percent to $11.3 billion, with Uber's annual loss shrinking 15 percent to $1.8 billion, according to an official statement from the startup.

Uber operates its’ rideshare business in dozens of countries and has expanded to new areas including food delivery, electric scooters and bikes. The company is recognized as the largest of the venture-backed startups with a presumed valuation of some $70 billion.

Uber CFO Nelson Chai expressed his satisfaction with Uber’s financial results and said, “Last year was our strongest yet, and Q4 set another record for engagement on our platform. Our ridesharing business maintained category leadership in all regions we serve, Uber Freight gained exciting traction in the US, JUMP e-bikes and e-scooters are on the road in over a dozen cities."

Based on gross bookings, Uber Eats has apparently become the largest online food delivery business outside of China.

Published in Apps

Go Ignite, an alliance of the world’s leading telcos including Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Singtel and Telefonica, announced the winners on Sept. 11 of the second global search for startups that offer the most innovative solutions for three key technologies including Consumer Experience Artificial Intelligence, Connected Homes, and Internet of Things (IoT) Cyber Security.

Consumer Experience AI refers to the use of new technology to provide personalized or new forms of customer support. Connected Homes are solutions that use software and/or hardware to automate and remotely control home appliances with ease, while IoT Security leverages new technologies to keep smart vehicles, homes and cities safe.  

The winners include Sparkcognition and NanoLock Security for IoT Cyber Security; Cujo and Vayyar Imaging for Connected Homes, and SafeToNet for Consumer Experience AI. The startups will have the opportunity to form business partnerships with the four telcos and tap into the alliance partners’ collective mobile subscriber base of over 1.2 billion mobile phone subscribers across five continents.

Axel Menneking, managing director of Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum, said the telco alliance received “numerous applications from strong teams.” The five winners, he said, were able to “convince us with their ideas on artificial intelligence and security issues. The topics range from helping to protect children from bullying, protect critical infrastructure, and secure management platforms. I'm sure these teams will be doing good pilots with us and the other three telecom companies.”

The winners are attending a two-day workshop in Madrid to help them refine their solutions and sharpen their business strategies. In addition, each start-up will receive support including access to mentoring and expertise, co-working space and invitations to community events and networking opportunities.

“For us and our partners we have a firm belief that working collectively and in an open manner with the start-up community is critical to accelerate our innovation in these three key areas,” said Bertrand Rojat, Deputy Director of Orange’s Technocentre. “These are exciting times and we are delighted to be working with these ‘scale-ups’ to jointly deliver something truly remarkable to our customers.”

Go Ignite is an alliance aimed at connecting the start-up ecosystems across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The Go Ignite global call for start-ups encourages teams world-wide to enter their projects into any one of the categories identified by the alliance to be of strategic interest.  

“This marks the continuation of our strong support in working with startups and other telcos to find and grow the next disruptive idea,” said Mrs. Ana Segurado, Global General Director, Telefónica Open Future. “It´s open innovation initiatives built with partners such as Go Ignite that truly creates the right framework to develop the business of the startups.”

An Estonian taxi startup company has announced its bold ambition to take on global ride-hailing colossus Uber in both London and Paris. Taxify announced that it will initially launch its services in London after it signed up 3,000 private hire taxi drivers following an intensive recruitment process which was needed to meet UK licensing and regulatory requirements.

Its expansion into the UK serves to indicate that Taxify is confident it can replicate the success it has enjoyed in other markets. The Estonian company have already benefited from the uncertainty and scandal that has plagued Uber in the last six months - by stealing a march on them in Eastern Europe and Africa.

London is a saturated market when it comes to taxi services. The English capital is home to the world-famous black cabs and private hire firm Addison Lee, who compete with other ride-hailing apps such as GETT and HAILO, which is now incorporated in Daimler’s MyTaxi.

Uber has a large slice of the market share in London, it boasts over 40,000 drivers and has 3 million London users, with the Silicon Valley based company claiming that users make over 1 million trips a week.

Taxify operates in 25 countries which is in stark contrast to that of Uber, who rollout its services in 600 cities across the world. However, its USP is that it allows passengers to pay marked-down fares which in turn lets drivers retain a bigger share of the profits, whilst it’s run on a much lower cost business model that Uber.

Taxify is directly targeting Uber’s customer base by offering a 15% commission on rides booked through the online platform. Uber charges between 20-25% in London. In addition to this, Taxify will accept cash as well as electronic payments unlike Uber.

The CEO and founder of the Estonian startup Markus Villig insisted its policy is that it will always be cheaper than Uber. Uber has just appointed a new CEO in order to bring much needed stability to the organization. It has endured a hugely difficult year, it has been embroiled in sexual harassment cases, legal disputes over the legality of the services it provides, and co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as CEO.

Uber’s new boss is former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and he has vowed to take the company public in the next few years, and said the company had to change in order for it to continue to expand. Taxify has enjoyed incredible success since its inception and will be confident it can penetrate the UK market.

It’s based in the Baltics and it first staked out in major cities all across Eastern and Central Europe, before expanding operations in Africa. Its CEO has declared that he believes they will overtake Uber by the end of this year. The taxi company has been boosted by investment from China’s rife-hailing firm Chuxing DiDi and aim to expand into Paris before the end of 2017.

Published in Apps

Home-sharing startup Airbnb now valued at $31 billion

Written on Tuesday, 14 March 2017 06:54

Home-sharing startup Airbnb founded in 2008 raised over a billion dollars in a fresh funding round that valued the company at $31 billion. According to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Airbnb added $448 million to the $555 million in funding it took last year.

Airbnb became profitable at during the second half of 2016 before accounting interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a source explained to AFP. The new funding valued the company at $31 billion, and will give it "operation flexibility", according to AFP's source, adding that Airbnb has no plans to go public "anytime soon".

Last year Airbnb began expanding beyond home-sharing to allowing travelers to dive into local happenings, enhancing security measures in the process. The company partnered with a restaurant booking platform with the intention of adding an option to book tables using the Airbnb platform. In addition, Airbnb added the ability to host events for guests to get together and socialize.

"Airbnb's vision is to ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip," said the company, which stands as one of the largest venture-backed startups, second to Uber, which has an estimated value of $68 billion.

Published in Finance

A French start-up company has agreed a deal with a leading Iranian network provider as they announced plans to roll-out IoT services across the country. Some of the services that will be made available to residents in Iran; include the introduction of Intelligent Transportation and gas meters you can monitor from your smartphone.

French start-up, Sig-Fox operates a wireless IoT network which connects a range of IoT applications which enables users to control and monitor everything from fridges to city-wide metro systems by connecting remote sensors with computers, mobile phones and smart watches. Sig-Fox penned a deal with Iranian internet provider Parsnet to deploy its services nationwide in Iran by June, 2017. The organization, feel the collaboration and introduction of IoT services will significantly improve the country’s economy.

Head of Parsnet, Ahmad Jafarabadi, confirmed that Iran will be the 31st country to deploy Sig-Fox’s network. In a statement released by the company, he said: “The arrival of this global connectivity solution opens the door to new economically competitive and energy-efficient services for Iranian businesses.”

Parsnet’s parent company is Pars-Online and is recognized as one of the country’s biggest internet providers. Iran has a population of 80 million – 30 of which use smartphones, with local media reporting that a third of the nation has access to the internet.

Sig-Fox is headquartered in France’s ‘IoT Valley’ which is located close to Toulouse, this announcement comes over a year after an accord came into effect between Iran and other world powers in relation to removing economic sanctions in exchange for limits on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Published in Internet of Things

A Canadian robo-adviser start-up has received a significant investment in a bid to boost its chances of successfully penetrating the already saturated U.S. market. Wealthsimple announced the investment of $20 million from Power Financial Corp and formally launched its operations in the US.

The robo-adviser market is dominated by large investments firms, and it was established that in order for the Wealthsimple to become a success, it required a large investment – which was provided by fellow Canadian company Power Financial Corporation. Its decision to enter the US market means it will be the first foreign entity to do.

Robo-advisers, that give automated financial advice, is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners.

Industry analysts have been pessimistic in their assessment of Wealthsimple’s chances of being successful – pointing to the presence of established firms like Charles Schwab and Vanguard as an indicator of the challenges in the sector.

However, founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, Mike Katchen declared that it was too soon to set targets in the US market, and was confident the decision to upscale would prove to be successful.

"People are absolutely right, this business is absolutely about scale, when Vanguard or Schwab launch a product, that's not a question people have, but we are confident.”

Katchen added that Power Financial's long-term backing gives it an edge. Power and its subsidiaries have put in a total of C$50 million in Wealthsimple since first investing in the start-up back in 2015.

Wealthsimple disclosed that close to 20,000 customers in Canada have signed up since its launch a little over two years ago, investing more than C$750 million in exchange traded funds. It expects to cross the C$1 billion threshold soon.

A robo-advisory expert and senior analyst for research firm Celent, feels that the Canadian start-up will have to reduce fees in order to establish itself in the industry. William Trout said: “The U.S. is such a competitive market and Wealthsimple will have to drop fees in order to get any play.”

Ii has also emerged that Wealthsimple owns a London office – and is planning to open in 2017 – but a spokeswoman for the company said that the project in relation to the UK was an ‘exploratory’ one- while Trout added that the UK robo-advisory industry was also saturated.

Wealthsimple, which offers a socially responsible investment option, said real advisers can also provide financial planning advice to clients. It also has a platform for financial advisers in Canada, but said it has no immediate plans to launch the service in the United States.

Published in Finance

Making its debut at CES 2017, at Eureka Park, the start-up pavilion at the show, a strange-looking product was showcased under the name ‘Hushme’ – dubbed the “world’s first voice mask for mobile phones”. The device can be worn as a standard neckband-style wireless headphone set, or in “masking” mode, which allows you to converse without being heard by those around you.

One of the interesting features of the headphones when using them in masking mode (which undeniably makes the user look like a futuristic villain like Star Wars’ Darth Vader), is a free app that allows you to overlay masking sounds onto your voice.

Funnily enough, Dark Vader’s voice, as well as the sounds of R2D2, Minion, rain, wind, monkeys and squirrels, are the masking sounds available in masking mode, which are distributed through an external speaker on the outside of the headphones. A reporter for CNET tried the headphones at CES, and noted that the company might run into licensing issues with some of the sounds used, and added that the demo was “pretty wacky”.

The headphones, which the CNET reporter noted will feature as a crowdfunding campaign later this year, will be priced at around $200. The company behind the unique device is based in the United States, but the engineers are from Ukraine. The biggest market for the headphones will likely be those working in office environments that seek privacy or do not want to disturb those around them with conversation.

Published in Gadget

An American start-up technology company have unveiled its highly anticipated first production vehicle at CES 2017 – and made the bold proclamation that the vehicle would represent a ‘new species’ for personal transportation.

Faraday Future, which has its headquarters in Los Angeles, has held no secret regarding its ambitions in becoming a market leader in developing intelligent electric vehicles. Management for the tech firm previously outlined their desire to overtake Tesla.

Faraday Future have been backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting (YT Jia) – and many analysts feel they are now well placed to seriously mount a challenge to overtake Tesla. The company announced at CES 2017 in Las Vegas that it would begin taking reservations for deliveries in 2018 with a $5,000 deposit for its FF91 model.

However, the electrical car start-up declined to disclose how much the vehicle would cost when it does become commercially available – but it did reveal it was building a factory outside Las Vegas. Industry analysts say it’s clear it’s taking Tesla head on – and revealed that its new vehicle outperformed Tesla on a number of key benchmarks including, battery range, power and acceleration.

One of the key benchmarks show that Faraday offers an estimated 378 miles (604km) of range before needing to be recharged. In contrast Tesla, based on US testing standards, can only offer consumers 315 miles before needing to be recharged.

Vice president of engineering Nick Sampson said it was the beginning of a new era of mobility and the emergence of a new species of vehicle. He said: “This is day one of a new era of mobility. This is the first of a new species. Because Faraday started from scratch, we don't have to follow outdated practices or retrofit existing equipment. We have to flip the auto industry on its head."

The vehicle is packed with technology: It has a semi-autonomous mode which allows for self-parking and multiple modems to connect to the internet. It personalizes settings for each driver and occupant. “Everyone in the car will have their own seat configured for them,” added Sampson.

Peter Savagian, vice president of propulsion for Faraday Future said it’s the fastest electric EV in the entire world – and revealed that the vehicle out-clocked its key rivals in relation to speed. He said: "This is the fastest production electric EV in the world. Our tests show our vehicle accelerates from zero to 60 mph (100 kph) in an eye-popping 2.39 seconds, which out-clocks all of our key rivals.”

Faraday refused to comment on speculation the company was enduring some financial difficulties – with some reports suggesting that they missed a number of payments to suppliers – and were ultimately forced to cut costs.

Those reports come amid news of a cash crunch at Jia's Chinese-based technology group LeEco, which has been rapidly expanding its products and moving into the US market.

Jia appeared at the Las Vegas event, telling the audience in halting English that ‘this car is very, very cool’. The Chinese entrepreneur said he hopes the project will help usher in a new era of mobility which is more environmentally friendly. "Once you have this you can get rid of the other cars in the garage," he said."

Published in Internet of Things