Softbank

Light raises $121M led by SoftBank as it prepares to bring its camera tech to smartphones

Camera technology company Light is the latest to do the money dance with SoftBank’s massive Vision Fund after it raised a $121 million Series D round. The funding round was led by Vision Fund, the near-$100 billion fund anchored by SoftBank, with participation from consumer camera giant Leica Camera AG. Today’s announcement takes Light to around $186 million raised from investors to date. Light is best known for its futuristic camera technology and shooters. The company first introduced the $1,950 L16 camera back in 2015, which then began shipping in 2017. The camera uses 16 lenses to capture 52 megapixel imagery which produces impressive results. Perhaps most notably, the L16 is tiny which makes it hugely portable and convenient. Given the small form factor and the rise of mobile photogra...

Tiger Global reportedly pours more than $1B into SoftBank, saying its shares are “undervalued”

Tiger Global has poured more than $1 billion into SoftBank Group, according to the Financial Times. The newspaper reports that the firm told investors SoftBank’s shares are “meaningfully undervalued.” In response to a request for comment, SoftBank sent the same statement to TechCrunch as other media outlets: “We continue to believe the market significantly undervalues our stock and we welcome the support from a sophisticated institutional investor like Tiger Global.” Tiger Global and SoftBank share several investments in common, including Alibaba, Flipkart and Uber. According to a quarterly investor letter obtained by the Financial Times, Tiger Global wrote that “the combination of a world-class set of assets trading at a record discount to net asset value strikes us as an odd anomaly that...

Baidu just made its 100th autonomous bus ahead of commercial launch in China

Baidu is preparing to launch a driverless service in China — and elsewhere — with another update to its Apollo autonomous driving platform and the mass production of Apolong, an autonomous mini bus that seats up to 14 people. Baidu made the announcements at Baidu Create 2018, the company’s annual AI developer conference. Baidu has started volume production of the autonomous mini buses in partnership with Chinese manufacturer King Long. The buses are being produced at King Long’s manufacturing facility in Xiamen, in southeastern China’s Fujian province. Baidu’s Chairman and CEO Robin Li introduced the milestone while livestreaming the 100th bus rolling off of the production line to more than 6,000 attendees at Baidu Create 2018 in Beijing. Baidu plans to launch the autonomous bus service in...

Baidu and Softbank’s SB Drive are bringing an autonomous bus service to Japan

Chinese search engine giant Baidu have partnered with Softbank subsidiary SB Drive and manufacturer King Long to deploy a self-driving mini bus service to Japan early next year. The agreement was announced at Create Baidu, the company’s annual AI developer conference in Beijing. Under the agreement, a version of Baidu’s Apolong autonomous mini bus will be exported to Japan from China in early 2019. This agreement, which for now includes an order of 10 buses, marks the first time autonomous vehicles will be exported from China. Apolong, co-developed with King Long, is outfitted with Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving system, which is capable of Level 4 operations, a designation by automotive engineering association SAE International that means the vehicles take over all driving in certain co...

China’s Didi Chuxing continues its international expansion with Australia launch

Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, is continuing its international expansion after it announced plans to launch in Australia this month. The company — which bought Uber’s China business in 2016 — said it will begin serving customers in Melbourne from June 25 following a month-long trial period in Geelong, a neighboring city that’s 75km away. The business will be run by a Didi subsidiary in Australia and it plans to offer “a series of welcome packages to both drivers and riders” — aka discounts and promotions, no doubt. It began signing up drivers on June 1, the company added. The Australia launch will again put Didi in direct competition with Uber, but that is becoming increasingly common, and also Ola and Didi which both count Didi as an investor — more on that below. Th...

US startups off to a strong M&A run in 2018

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school With Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub this week, we can now decisively declare a trend: 2018 is shaping up as a darn good year for U.S. venture-backed M&A. So far this year, acquirers have spent just over $20 billion in disclosed-price purchases of U.S. VC-funded companies, according to Crunchbase data. That’s about 80 percent of the 2017 full-year total, which is pretty impressive, considering we’re barely five months into 2018. If one included unreported purchase prices, the totals would be quite a bit higher. Fewer than 20 percent of acquisitions in our data set came with reported prices.1 ...

Why SoftBank invested $2.25 billion in Cruise

Earlier today, General Motors’ Cruise received a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Once that deal closes, GM will invest another $1.1 billion. SoftBank landed on Cruise because it’s one of “a handful that in our view have a meaningful opportunity in front of them,” SoftBank Vision Fund Managing Partner Michael Ronen told TechCrunch. Cruise’s integrated play of hardware and software attracted SoftBank, Ronen said, as well as the fact that Cruise’s spirit, creativity and energy “has not been diminished at all.” These investments are expected to enable Cruise to deploy commercially starting next year. But what’s most important about this investment to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, he told TechCrunch, is the fact that Cruise — which sold to GM for more than $1 billion in 2016 — now...

Lyft is considering entering Japan’s challenging ride-hailing market for some reason

Lyft, Uber’s chief nemesis in the U.S., is thinking of entering the fiercely competitive Japanese ride-hailing space, according to comments from one of its founders. “We would love to be in Japan, and we also will be looking at that possibility,” John Zimmer, Lyft co-founder and president, said at the New Economy Summit 2018 in Tokyo. “I think the regulatory framework here will play an even larger role than it likely had in other regions,” he added, according to a report from Japan Times. Lyft made its first global expansion when it entered Canada last December so it is natural that the firm is eyeing overseas opportunities. Japan is one that springs to mind since it has counted Rakuten, the country’s dominant e-commerce service, as an investor since 2015, while the taxi market is one of t...

Alibaba is preparing to invest in Grab

Fresh from announcing a deal to buy out Uber in Southeast Asia, Grab looks set to gain further firepower with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba preparing to invest in the ride-hailing firm. Alibaba is in the early stages of making an investment in Grab, two sources with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch. Isn’t yet clear what size that might be or at what valuation for Grab, which was last valued by investors at $6 billion. In addition, the timing is unclear due to current anti-trust investigations into the Grab-Uber deal. The Competition Commission of Singapore has said there are grounds to believe the merger may violate the law, while other countries are looking into its implications. But still, there is intent from both sides and key investor SoftBank to make the deal. Grab decline...

Uber CEO says there will be no more global exit deals

Uber has exited three global markets by selling to rivals, but enough is enough after its deal with Grab so says CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Following today’s announcement with Grab which sees Uber leave Southeast Asia hot on the heels of exits in China (2016) and Russia (2017), Khosrowshahi told employees that there will be no more repeats under his leadership. It is fair to ask whether consolidation is now the strategy of the day, given this is the third deal of its kind, from China to Russia and now Southeast Asia. The answer is no. One of the potential dangers of our global strategy is that we take on too many battles across too many fronts and with too many competitors. This transaction now puts us in a position to compete with real focus and weight in the core markets where we operate, wh...

Africa Roundup: Uber says it’s staying, Konga could be epic startup fail

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor: Despite exit rumors and quitting Morocco, Uber is staying in Africa, according to its General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits. Speculation Uber could leave the continent surfaced late last year when a board member of its biggest investor, Softbank, encouraged the company to focus on markets such as the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. “It really was an…article after that set off the rumors,” Lits told TechCrunch. “We’re fully committed. We’ve got a successful and growing business across Sub-Saharan Africa…we’ll continue to grow that and hopefully add some further expansion,” he said. Lits also referenced a recent interview with Uber CEO ...

China’s Didi partners with SoftBank to launch taxi-hailing services in Japan

China’s Didi Chuxing is preparing yet another market expansion after it inked an agreement with SoftBank, Uber’s largest shareholder, to introduce taxi-hailing services in Japan this year. Didi dominates the Chinese market — thanks in no small amount to its acquisition of second-placed Uber China — but this year it has expanded to Brazil via an acquisition and Taiwan via a franchise model, and also moved into bike-sharing and vehicle rentals. Didi has raised nearly $20 billion including a $4 billion round for global expansion which closed in December. Right now, Didi and SoftBank say they are exploring opportunities. The two companies expect to launch a joint venture in Japan soon with plans to start pilot programs in Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Tokyo and other locations this year. “Didi and So...

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