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Money Talks and VCs Listen: A Billion-Dollar Chorus of Acquisitions and Funding Rounds
Friday, April 7th, 2023
Amazon Billion Dollar Attempt to Suck Up The Competition
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is scrutinizing Amazon's $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot, a robotic vacuum maker company with an insanely cliché name, while EU regulators are preparing to investigate the deal on privacy grounds. Those pesky Roombas are always causing quite the commotion! The CMA is concerned about whether Amazon's purchase of the robot vacuum maker would result in a "substantial lessening of competition". An Amazon spokesperson assured that they are “working cooperatively with the relevant regulators in their review of the merger,” adding that consumers “have many options to choose from when they buy a vacuum.” Who needs Netflix when you can watch a battle for monopolistic control of a stupid vacuum cleaner?
AI Startup Claims "Claude-Next" Will Change Everything, But We Just Want Our Printers To Work
Anthropic, an AI research startup, is aiming to raise up to $5 billion in the next two years to compete with OpenAI and build a “frontier model” called “Claude-Next”. That’s great for them and all, but we’re slightly disappointed they didn't go with a more intimidating and less “friend of your grandparents” name. Maybe they could have called it something more interesting like “The Terminator's Revenge” or "Robo-pocalypse Now”. Anyway, they claim it will be 10 times more capable than today’s most powerful AI, and could be used to build virtual assistants that can answer emails, perform research and generate art. But can Claude-Next also forgive crippling student debt? Pitch that to Anthropic, otherwise, we don’t want it.
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Honeycomb Secures $50 Million in Funding, Despite No One Really Understanding What They Do
Honeycomb, an “observability software” company that helps companies monitor their computer systems to diagnose and resolve problems, has secured $50 million in funding from Headline, Insight Partners and Scale Ventures. This brings its total valuation to almost $150 million. Co-founders Christine Yen and Charity Majors created an observability tool for making computer systems run smoother with faster and more flexible monitoring software, or as we like to call it: black magic. With over 600 worldwide customers and a net revenue retention rate of 160% (a.k.a. customers not only stick around, but spend more), Honeycomb proves that even the least sexy software can be lucrative!
Canaan Laughs in the Face of Economic Downturn, Secures $850 Million in Funds
Canaan, an early-stage venture capital firm, has closed two new funds with a combined $850 million in capital commitments. Canaan's total assets under management have now reached $6.8 billion with the closure of two new funds - the 13th flagship fund worth $650 million and a separate $200 million fund to support breakaway portfolio firms. As they say in the world of venture capital, it's all about ‘spray and pray’. Areas of focus for the funds include cybersecurity, healthcare, immunology, neurobiology, and cardio… because clearly, Canaan has experts in all of those fields and isn't just throwing money at anything and everything.
Aftermath of Italy’s ChatGPT Ban: ‘OpenAI’ or ‘Openly Sharing Your Personal Information AI’?
Earlier this week, we reported that Italy’s data protection authority, Garante, blocked San Francisco-based OpenAI's chatbot, known as ChatGPT, from operating within the country. We have now learned that Italy enacted the ban after users' private messages and payment information were exposed to others via OpenAI’s chatbot. Just credit card information, no big deal! In response, OpenAI publicly promised to remove personal information from training data where feasible, ensure their chatbot rejects requests for personal information of private individuals, and act on requests to delete personal information from its systems. We’ll repeat what we said last time - why weren’t these things done preemptively? It’s worth noting that they now face increased scrutiny as other European regulators have also started paying more attention after Italy's swift action. Way to be a trendsetter, Italy!