SoftBank cautions startup winter may last longer if unicorn founders don’t accept lower valuations

Masayoshi Son, the chief executive of SoftBank Group, which reported a quarterly loss of over $23 billion, is worried that the funding winter for startups may linger in the immediate future. The 64-year-old executive, whose Vision Funds have backed over 470 startups globally in the past six years, said on Monday that some unicorn founders are unwilling to accept lower valuations in fresh funding deliberations, a fact that has led him to believe that the “winter maybe longer” for unlisted companies. “Unicorn companies’ leaders still believe in their valuations and they wouldn’t accept that they may have to see their valuations [go] lower than they think,” he said, according to company’s official translator. “So until the multiple of listed companies is lower than those of unlisted companies, we should wait,” said Son, referring to a popular way investors assign value to firms. He said the winter for publicly listed companies is still continuing, but a similar downturn for startups “m

Baidu to operate fully driverless commercial robotaxi in Wuhan and Chongqing

Chinese internet giant Baidu has secured permits to offer a fully driverless commercial robotaxi service, with no human driver present, in Chongqing and Wuhan via the company’s autonomous ride-hailing unit, Apollo Go. Baidu’s wins in Wuhan and Chongqing come a few months after the company scored a permit to provide driverless ride-hailing services to the public on open roads in Beijing . The difference here is the service in Beijing is still not a commercial service — Baidu is offering free driverless rides in the name of R&D and public acceptance — and Beijing’s permit still requires a human operator in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. When Baidu launches in Wuhan and Chongqing, it’ll be the first time an autonomous vehicle company is able to offer a fully driverless ride-hailing service in China, Baidu claimed. Meanwhile in the U.S., Cruise recently began offering a driverless commercial service in San Francisco , and Waymo has been offering one in Arizona since 2020 .

There’s always another nightmarish crypto hack around the corner

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. Last week, we looked at the near-term future for crypto gaming as VCs zero in on where to place consumer bets. This week, we’re looking at hardware wallets and the endless journey towards feeling safe in the crypto world. To get this in your inbox every Thursday, you can subscribe on TechCrunch’s newsletter page. nowhere to hide A weekly dispatch from the desk of TechCrunch crypto editor Lucas Matney : The world of crypto can be a cruel and unforgiving place, and while VCs and crypto hedge funds have been happy to bail out institutions, sometimes consumers dabbling in the space find themselves left out in the cold. This week, a couple of pretty high profile hacks cost crypto investors millions, but it was the smaller, more mysterious one that likely left newbie buyers clutching their private keys and praying for the best. Putting money anywhere is an exercise of trust, which sometimes makes it funny that the the word “trustless” has been a leadin

The cybersecurity funding bubble hasn’t burst — but it’s starting to deflate

Last year was record-breaking for the cybersecurity market . Data from Momentum Cyber, a financial advisory firm for the security industry, showed that cybersecurity startups raised a “record-shattering” $29.5 billion in venture capital in 2021, more than doubling the $12 billion raised in 2020, while a record number — including Dragos and Noname Security — were minted as unicorns. The past few months have started to paint a different picture for the industry, which has managed to successfully navigate the pandemic, geopolitical conflict, and — so far — the looming economic storm. source

Why not all VCs are ready to embrace AI-powered investment tools

AI’s strength lies in its predictive prowess. Fed enough data, the conventional thinking goes, a machine learning algorithm can predict just about anything — for example, which word will appear next in a sentence. Given that potential, it’s not surprising that enterprising investment firms have looked to leverage AI to inform their decision-making. There’s certainly plenty of data that one might use to train an AI-powered due diligence or investment recommendation tool, including sources like LinkedIn, PitchBook, Crunchbase, Owler and other third-party data marketplaces. With it, AI-driven financial research platforms claim to be able to predict the ability of a startup to attract investments, and there might be some truth to this. One study of hedge fund performance found that AI-driven funds generated higher average monthly returns over a 15-year period than their human-guided counterparts. source

Q3 outlook forecasts cloudy days ahead for fintech M&A

Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up  here  so you can receive it directly in the future. Every week, I’ll take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to an analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or phenomenon. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay on top of it — and make sense of it — so you can stay in the know. —  Mary Ann Last week, Paystand — a blockchain-enabled B2B payments startup — announced it had acquired Mexican fintech Yaydoo — creating a new unicorn in the resulting new entity. Execs from the two startups say the combined company will have processed over $5 billion in payments and built a network of over 500,000 connected businesses by creating B2B DeFi payment networks in both the U.S. and Mexico. In ann

Amazon buys Roomba’s maker, Bolt vanishes, and YC slims down

Hello again! Welcome back to Week in Review, the newsletter where we quickly recap the top stories to cross TechCrunch dot-com over the past seven days. Want it in your inbox? Get it here. The most read story this week is kind of a wild one: Bolt Mobility, an on-demand bike/scooter rental company co-founded by Usain Bolt, kinda just…vanished. “The departure has been abrupt,” writes Rebecca, “leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails, and lots of questions.” other stuff Amazon buys iRobot : Bezos wants all the things. Whole Foods! One Medical! And now…Roomba? In this latest in a series of seemingly sudden and somewhat surprising acquisitions, Amazon is dropping $1.7 billion for the company best known for its robo vacuums. Facebook shuts down live shopping : If you use Facebook’s “live shopping” feature to sell things via stream, it might be time to find a new platform. While live streaming isn’t going away, the dedicated shopping-focused features will go

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