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A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...

Didi will resume late night Hitch rides, but only allow drivers to pick up passengers of the same sex

Didi Chuxing’s inter-city carpooling service will resume night operations on a limited basis about a month after a female passenger was allegedly murdered by an unregistered driver who accessed the platform using his father’s account. Called Didi Hitch, the service will return on June 15 with new safety measures, including one that only allows drivers to serve passengers of the same sex during late night hours. Didi Hitch will also began piloting a new feature later this month called “guardian mode” (not “escort mode” as reported by some publications) that automatically shares ride details with a passenger’s emergency contacts. The company says Didi Hitch will resume partial nighttime service between the hours of 10PM to 12AM and 5AM to 6AM on June 15, but with what Didi says is a “tentati...

China’s SenseTime, the world’s highest-valued AI startup, closes $620M follow-on round

SenseTime, the world’s highest-valued AI company with a valuation of over $4.5 billion, is back in the money again. The company raised $600 million in an Alibaba-led financing round announced last month, and now it has added a further $620 million to that with a “Series C+” round announced today. Alibaba led the previous deal, and this time around the investors include more traditional names such as Fidelity International, Hopu Capital, Silver Lake and Tiger Global. Qualcomm, which previously backed the firm, was also in this round, SenseTime confirmed. The new money takes SenseTime to $1.6 billion from investors to date. The valuation has remained “over” $4.5 billion across both of these recent rounds, according to the company. It was previously valued at $1.5 billion when it raised a $41...

Desperate for jobs, Venezuelan immigrants turn to ride-hailing services across Latin America

Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo Contributor Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo is a former Google and Twitter Manager and current CEO of Céntrico Digital, a Latin American based digital agency. One month ago, Yonathan Segovia, a Cabify driver originally from Venezuela, was allegedly attacked by a mob of taxi drivers on the streets of Quito in Ecuador. In the video that documents the aftermath of his alleged assault, a short-of-breath Segovia narrates to his cell phone what happened. Behind him stand a few traffic police and a contingent of semi-formally dressed taxi drivers donning sunglasses and gesticulating to the police. Segovia directs the camera to the broken windshield and claims that he and his vehicle were attacked by xenophobic taxi drivers yelling fuera Cabify (get out Cabify) and regresa a tu...

Didi has a brilliant plan to contain the threat of China’s bike-sharing services

China’s Didi Chuxing unveiled its bike-sharing platform today and, as expected, it looks like a very aggressive move to protect its position. When Didi first announced its plans to offer rides from Ofo and Bluegogo inside its app, I argued that this was far from a positive gesture since the ultimate goal is control. By introducing its own service inside its own app to its own (massive) userbase, Didi aims to tame the two companies. It wants them to exist as features inside its app, rather develop popular and independent services that could challenge Didi’s dominance. Offering their services unbranded inside the Didi app gives users less reason to open, or even install, any bike-sharing app. That’s exactly what has happened, as this screenshot tweeted by Tech In Asia reporter Eva Xiao illus...

Didi Chuxing declares war on China’s bike-sharing startups

Fresh from its first international expansion following the acquisition of Brazil’s 99 last week, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing announced another significant move by revealing plans for its own bike-sharing platform. The platform will integrate Ofo — the company that counts Didi as an investor — as well as financially stricken service Bluegogo — which Didi has been linked with — and other “potential partners” further down the line. Importantly, Didi will roll out its own bike-sharing service — but there’s no timeframe on that. That’s quite a lot to digest, but in reality the signs of something brewing have been on display. Last year Didi’s app integrated rides from Ofo — which competes with Ofo as the world’s largest bike-sharing companies — but Chinese media reports suggested tha...