Companies and topics in this issue of the Bloomberg global TMT brief from Chris Lowe include MindMaze and its electronic headsets for stroke patients, IBM’s latest health tech acquisition, Snapdeal, Apple and its challenge to the FBI, Airbnb in Japan, OpenText in Brazil, startups & convertible debt, wellness and Harvard’s project to build brain-inspired artificial intelligence.
MINDMAZE: a Swiss virtual reality startup, has raised $100m at a valuation of $1.1bn. The round was led by Hinduja. MindMaze makes an electronic headset it sells to hospitals for rehabilitating patients who have undergone a stroke. The devices use virtual and augmented reality combined with sensors that track the user’s motion and display interactive digital environments through the goggles. “We’re building the software and hardware across sensory elements to eventually build up an interface that’s intuitive – that doesn’t use mice, keyboards – and is more true to what it should be.” MindMaze is exploring headsets to help with other injuries, such as amputations.
SNAPDEAL: Increasingly we may be looking east this year for mega-raises, with Snapdeal at the top of this list as it raises $200M more to fuel up for India’s ongoing e-commerce battle. “We see these investments as a continuing endorsement of Snapdeal’s strategy to build India’s most reliable and frictionless commerce ecosystem.”
APPLE: has been ordered by a court to help the FBI break into a smartphone, but it is refusing, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.
AIRBNB: is up against pressure in Japan as PM Abe released guidelines for home sharing that could make most Airbnb rentals in Japan illegal. Ota, one of 23 districts within Tokyo, became the first municipality to fully adopt Abe’s proposal last week. Osaka, the country’s third-largest city, will begin implementing the laws in April. More authorities plan to follow.
IBM: has agreed to buy Truven Health Analytics for $2.6bn, its fourth health tech acquisition in a year. More than 8,500 hospitals, insurers and government agencies use Truven to manage and analyze the reams of data generated by the health industry. After integrating Truven’s data from about 215m individuals, IBM will have amassed various kinds of health-related information from 300m patients, the company said. IBM intends to use the data from Truven, Merge Healthcare, Explorys and Phytel to focus on creating insights into value-based care, which the US has been shifting toward and allows patients to pay for health-care based on outcomes.
OPENTEXT: announces a good contract win in Brazil, where Coca-Cola Refrescos Bandeirantes, the exclusive distributor of Coca-Cola products in Brazil, has selected OpenText to manage its digital supply chain. Using OpenText B2B managed services, Refrescos Bandeirantes easily connects its retailers through the OpenText Trading Grid, a cloud-based B2B integration network, to increase its supply chain visibility and grow its business network.
Trends in focus
START UPS & CONVERTIBLE DEBT
A Bloomberg note highlights: As venture capital reaches a high not seen since the dot-com boom, more technology startups are becoming addicted to quick, cheap loans. The percentage of US venture rounds involving convertible debt has doubled since 2012, according to data from research firm Pitchbook Data. For young startups, debt has become standard because it allows them to raise small amounts of capital more frequently.
WELLNESS UPDATE: Runkeeper has been acquired by ASICS. Running shoes will now collate more data on you – click here.
AI UPDATE: Humans side by side against computers: the strengths and weaknesses of each. Harvard has awarded $28m to build brain-inspired artificial intelligence – see the Wired UK article. “”The project is not only pushing the boundaries of brain science, it is also pushing the boundaries of what is possible in computer science. We will reconstruct neural circuits at an unprecedented level from petabytes of structural and functional data. It requires us to make new advances in data management, high-performance computing, computer vision and network analysis”.
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