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Ouster raises $60 million to increase lidar production

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Ouster, a San Francisco-based lidar startup that started from stealth at December 2017, today announced that it has raised an extra $60 million in financing after a $27 million series A. This latest round — that was directed by Runway Growth Capital, together with donations from Silicon Valley Bank, Cox Enterprises, Constellation Tech Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Carthona Capital, along with many others — brings the organization’s total increased to $90 million.

The new capital will be utilized to finance the growth of Ouster’s production centers, according to co-founder and CEO Angus Pacala, such as its recently opened Bay Area quality assurance testing and detector calibration centre. He anticipates that it will have the ability to assemble and send”several million” detectors per month prior to the tail end of 2019 (upward from”countless” now ), which Ouster will approximately double its headcount in the coming months to approximately 200 full-time workers across technology, operations, business development, and promotion.

“The momentum we’re seeing in our business is driven by the demand we’re seeing in the market for customers wanting to push the performance frontier,” said Pacala. “The company has maintained a low profile for over two years — staying heads-down and focusing on getting [products] ready to ship. I’m incredibly proud of our team for their hard work to produce the most advanced, practical, and scalable … the sensor on the market, and we’re very excited about the impact our product will have in autonomous vehicles and other applications in robotics.”

Lidar — detectors that measure the space to goal objects by illuminating them with laser lighting and measuring the reflected pulses — is in the crux of a range of autonomous automobile systems, such as those in Waymo, Uber, and GM’s Cruise, however, its own usage instances extend beyond automotive. It has been exploited for obstacle detection and prevention in mining vehicles, atmospheric research for distance, forestry direction, end farm optimization, speed limit enforcement, as well as video games.

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Ouster makes four versions from two product lines: the OS-1 and OS-2. Sensors from the OS-1 household, which are made for short- and – medium-range programs, have 150-meter ranges, settlements from 16 to 128 channels, and weigh in at approximately 380 g — the lightest of any like detectors available on the current market, Ouster maintains. The only long-range OS-2 detector, meanwhile, includes a 64-beam resolution, a range of over 200 meters, along with a 22.5-degree vertical field of view.

The lidar marketplace is estimated to be worth $1.8 billion in just five decades, and it is a crowded area. Israeli startup Innoviz Technologies increased $65 million in September 2017 because of its lidar technology, following on the heels of financing rounds by Oryx and TetraVue. Luminar, that claims to have grown lidars with a selection of over 250 meters along with a 120-degree area of opinion, recently announced a strategic partnership with Volvo, also in January, lidar startup Baraja increased $32 million to its revolutionary prism-like design. That is not to mention far-infrared pioneer AdaSky, ground-penetrating radar startup WaveSense, also velocity-measuring sensor firm Aeva, all which attempt to build technologies which complement conventional vision-based autonomous automobile perception systems.

However, Ouster asserts its 2-3 week lead occasions — and its own detectors’ little, compact form variables and transparent pricing — also have assisted it to get forward. The OS-1 models begin at $3,500, about $500 less expensive than incumbent lidar supplier Velodyne’s VLP-16, and its own OS-2 prices $24,000. (Ouster extends reductions on OS-1 SKUs up to $6,000 to nonprofits.)

Pacala says its client base now includes over 400 companies representing businesses from autonomous vehicles into industrial robotics, agriculture, mapping, protection, and drones. “It’s amazing that just a year ago we could count our customers on one hand, and [now] … engineering teams around the world are using Ouster’s sensors to build new industries and reshape old ones,” he said. “It’s humbling to know that this demand exists — it motivates us every day to deliver for our customers.”

Ouster also now announced that Susan Heystee will join its board of supervisors. She most recently served as senior vice president of Verizon’s automotive department, and formerly had been executive vice president of sales in the vehicle and connected distress company Telogis.

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“I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my expertise and skills with the leading lidar company poised for growth and one highly focused on bringing 3D sensing to the masses,” said Heystee, in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with Ouster’s talented management team to extend the company’s market leadership.”

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Boomplay, Africa’s leading music streaming platform raises $20M to compete with global rivals

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Boomplay, the audio streaming business that has enlarged rapidly because it was initially introduced in 2015, has received a significant shot in the arm since it doubles on dominating the continent.

The streaming agency has raised $20 million in a Series A round led by Maison Capital with participation from Capital. The business claims that the funding will be geared toward funding its growth strategies with”a focus on material acquisition, merchandise optimization [and] recruiting”

Boomplay is possessed by Transsion Holdings, the China-based leading mobile manufacturer in Africa, and NetEase, a Chinese online firm that has built an audio streaming service at China boasting 400 million consumers. It runs on the”freemium” version that permits user access an ad-supported variant of the service at no cost in addition to a paid ad-free, superior variant priced at between $2 and $4.

A lot of Boomplay’s expansion is powered by coming pre-installed on Transsion tablets –the best selling in the continent–and can also be available through downloads other mobiles. The plan has seen it attain 44 million”active” users.

Information of Boomplay’s funding around comes after it lately consented to license deals with Universal Music and Warner Music, enlarging its catalogue to permit users to access a huge library of songs from global celebrities –and nullifying the benefit held by international streaming solutions such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.

Boomplay is hoping to have to compete with these international services at the long run, says Phil Choi, the organization’s head of global content acquisition. Spotify and YouTube Music have launched services in South Africa.

But, Choi insists international services coming to Africa might need to surmount big hurdles, as Boomplay has.

“In Europe or elsewhere in the world, Spotify or Apple music can sign with Universal and they’ll have access to a lot of their artists. But in Africa, a lot of artists work on their own or with labels that have just one or two artists,” he informed Quartz. “So at the moment there isn’t a big label [structure] that represents a lot of artists so for Spotify or Apple Music to have the kind of African catalog that we have, they will need to go for a long period of time through discussing agreements with many individual artists.”

Choi unintentionally hints in Boomplay’s long-game strategy as he states the fastest alternative for Spotify or even Apple to create a huge African catalogue in a brief period “is an acquisition”.

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However, for any future aspirations to be attained, there’s still work to be done in order to repair principles of neighborhood markets. The powerful hold of piracy festers since customers are reluctant to pay high dollar for songs. Subsequently, that’s artists struggle to earn gains from real music revenue. Therefore, artists frequently use pirates to advertise their music via priced CDs and free downloads online whilst relying on live display earnings and manufacturer endorsement deals for earnings.

Choi admits to “the concerns of piracy” and states Boomplay is “holding conferences with music experts” aimed at teaching musicians and music industry players “about why we need to clap down on piracy.”

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Zaver raises $1.2M in seed funding to expand its peer-to-peer payments platform

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Zaver, a Swedish fintech which has assembled a payments stage to ease peer-to-peer transactions and much more, has raised up just over $1.2 million in seed financing. Backing the burgeoning startup are VC companies Inventure and Inbox Capital, in addition to a lot of comparatively well-established angel investors.

They comprise Joen Bonnier (spouse at Atomico), Tom Dinkelspiel, Pontus Hagnö, Fabian Hielte (proprietor of Ernström & C:o and also a previous investor in Spotify and iZettle), Bo Mattsson (creator of Cint) and Fredrik Österberg (founder of Evolution Gambling ).

Attempting to disrupt the marketplace for P2P payment options, Zaver is growing a SaaS and accompanying programs to bring together buyers, sellers, and retailers with the guarantee of”secure obligations in your conditions.” The fintech startup intends to facilitate transactions between peers by allowing the utilization of flexible payment methods like direct obligations,”buy now, pay later” and payments.

To encourage this, Zaver’s system asserts to embed”smart fraud detection” calculations in tandem with all the automated production of”confirmed digital arrangements” between transacting parties.

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“The Zaver app is the first platform-independent checkout solution for P2P transactions,” says Amir Marandi, that co-founded Zaver along with Linus Malmén — both former technology students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

“With Zaver’s intelligent fraud prevention, automated and immediate credit decisions and cryptographically signed digital receipts, peers can do safe payments on their own terms with people they really don’t know that well,” he says. “We try to make P2P trades as safe as possible for all parties involved and offer flexible payment options, without compromising on the user experience.”

Moreover, Zaver for Business permits retailers to use the platform to boost conversion and reduce transaction costs. “Our mission on this item is to decrease the requirement of a physical card reader,” adds Marandi.

Zaver’s average user is called a young pupil who would like to market their iPhone to a classified website in a safe manner, or a plumber who wishes to purchase a secondhand VW Golf now and pay afterwards. The normal client of Zaver for Business is a business with omni-channel earnings, selling products/services offline and online.

“Our main competitors are not the kind of business you might expect,” explains Marandi. “It’s not the banks, but rather upcoming startups wanting to innovate the payment industry. The most direct competitor today I would say is the credit card industry.”

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To this end, Zaver earns cash from your transaction fees it charges retailers (which it states are around 70 percent less costly than traditional payment solutions ), and on interest charged whenever someone chooses to pay through payments.

Adds Marandi: “Using automated systems for the entire customer journey we are able to offer individualized interest rates at the point of sale. The system automatically chooses an interest rate for you, based on your creditworthiness.”

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Online Catering service provider ezCater raises $150M during funding round

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In 2007, Stefania Mallett and Briscoe Rodgers conceived of ezCater, an internet market for company catering, and started building the business at Mallet’s Boston house, largely in her kitchen table.

Lately, sitting in the exact same table, Mallett negotiated with Brad Twohig of Lightspeed Venture Partners the last terms and conditions of a $150 million Series D-1 in a $1.25 billion evaluation. Lightspeed, together with GIC, co-led the round, with involvement from Light Street Capital, Wellington Management, ICONIQ Capital and Quadrille Capital.

“Raising money or getting to unicorn status, it’s all nice validation but that’s not the purpose, the purpose of being in business is to grow a very successful company with happy customers and happy employees,” Mallett, ezCater’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “We are going to have cupcakes with unicorns on them. That will take us about a half hour, then we will get back to work.”

Mallett contrasts ezCater into Expedia. The travel business does not own and run hotels, nor do they produce them. EzCater, additionally, it functions with 60,500 restaurants and caterers around the U.S. to meet requests, but at no time do they operate directly with meals nor create any deliveries themselves.

Since its beginning, the ezCater market has increased substantially, expanding 100 percent yearly for the previous eight decades, Mallett informs us. Though, like most unicorns, ezCater is not profitable yet.

The two Mallett and Rodgers are software industry pros, establishing engineering professions before tackling company catering. The set bootstrapped the company till 2011 when they procured a little Series A expense of $2.7 million. That exact same year, U.S. foodtech startups increased $176 million, per PitchBook. EzCater goes on to increase over $300 million in equity financing, including its most recent round, also VC interest in food tech would burst. Already this season, U.S. foodtech startups have earned $626 million after pulling into a whopping $5 billion in 2018.

EzCater has benefited from this boom. The business increased a $100 million Series D only 10 weeks ago.

“We really didn’t need the money, we have quite a lot of money in the bank from the last round,” Mallett said. “There was so much talk of a funding winter and a recession coming so we said maybe we should try to raise money and then people jumped on it so we thought OK, why not? If there is a funding winter, we’re set; if not, well, we are still set.”

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The investment comes hot off the heels of ezCater’s purchase of Monkey Group, a cloud platform for take-out, catering and delivery. Mallett declined to disclose details of the agreement but said the venture creates ezCater the indisputable market leader in catering management program. The business will use its newly expanded war chest to accelerate its global expansion and, possibly, keep its M&A chain. In terms of the long run, an initial public offering is one of the options.

“We certainly are considering it,” Mallett said. “As we’ve grown, we’ve become more sophisticated and mature; that puts us in a good position to continue operating as a successful standalone company or be acquired by a public company or go public if we see an opportunity to do that. We are not wedded to any of these outcomes.”

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