Monday, July 27, 2015

Meet the French startup set to revolutionize the Internet of things

This fall a new kind of wireless network will launch in a metropolis near you. This network won’t connect to phones or tablets. Instead it will provide the wireless links necessary to connect devices, appliances and sensors that make up the Internet of things (IoT).
The company building the network is called Sigfox, and it’s based in Europe (Toulouse, France, to be exact) where it’s already set up networks in France, Spain, the U.K., and five other countries. Sigfox-powered sensors are being slapped on fire hydrants (to monitor water pressure), embedded in home alarms (to alert the authorities when they’re tripped), and even buried in the dirt (to monitor the soil density of farmland). This year, however, it’s moving to its largest country to date, the U.S., where it plans to build networks covering the ten largest cities.
Wireless connectivity that covers a wide swath of land is nothing new for the IoT. In fact, the Internet of things got its start in industrial machine-to-machine communications using mobile operators’ 2G networks to track vehicle fleets and monitor remote equipment. What Sigfox offers, however, is a much cheaper and more efficient alternative to cellular networks, said Thomas Nicholls, EVP of communications for Sigfox. It’s a platform that will make long-range wireless connectivity accessible for any company, device or application.
Cellular networks were never designed for the Internet of things. They were built first to connect phone calls and then to supply high-speed links to the Internet. Consequently cellular links are expensive to deploy and expensive to maintain, Nicholls said.
Embedding a cellular module in a device can cost upwards of $10, and keeping its data connection active requires a monthly subscription fee, just like your phone. Finally, cellular radios consume a lot of power, as they’re constantly communicating with the network.
Meanwhile, it costs about $2 to embed a Sigfox radio into a device, and right now Sigfox’s European customers are paying between 5 to 8 Euros a year to keep an individual device active. But as companies scale, connecting hundred of thousands of IoT devices to the network, Sigfox can offer rates as low as $1 a year, Nicholls said.
Sigfox has optimized its networks specifically for the needs of most IoT devices. Instead of using mobile phone frequencies it taps a chunk of spectrum called the Industrial Scientific and Medical band that can transmit at great distances at low power. The trade off is that network has extremely low bandwidth. Instead of establishing a constant data connection, Sigfox’s network transmits short messages each of which can carry a 12-byte payload, Nicholls said.
Twelve bytes is miniscule, but it’s more than enough to send a set of GPS coordinates from a tracking device, a reading from a remote sensor or an alert or simple diagnostic data from a malfunctioning home appliance. Sigfox is never going to provide the Internet link for a connected car or stream video to Google Glass, but the vast majority of IoT devices won’t need that kind of bandwidth. They’re only sending tiny amounts of information, and they’re only sending it intermittently.
Sigfox’s network is also extremely power efficient, using its radio only when it has data to communicate. “The device stays asleep,” Nicholls said. “It wakes up whenever it sends a message, and then it goes back to sleep.” Sigfox is working with partners to design company sensors that can remain in the field up to 20 years before their batteries run dry.
If companies bring down the cost connectivity low enough, it will allow users to add smart sensors to more everyday objects. For instance, French company Nigiloc is using Sigfox’s network to connect bicycles. Installed inside the bicycle, a GPS tracker sends out intermittent updates on the bike’s location, helping you find it when lost or stolen. In the U.S., startup Whistle has also signed up to use Sigfox’s network for location, but instead of bikes, it’s tracking canines with a connected dog tag.
“The Internet of things doesn’t need its own separate Internet,” Nicholls said. “What it needs is a way to bring all of the objects in the physical world around us to the Internet.”
 Citation from Fortune :

Nasscom warehouse powers Kolkata's startup push

KOLKATA: The startup buzz is catching up in Kolkata. Taking a cue from their counterparts in Bengaluru and Pune, techies in the city are turning into entrepreneurs and developing apps that will help you in various ways, from monitoring your parents' health on a real-time basis to guiding you to the hottest deal at your unacquainted departmental store as soon as you step inside it. 

Software body Nasscom is aiding the process. It has set up a startup warehouse --a co-working space that offers space and other infrastructure to the budding entrepreneurs at a nominal cost--at the Salt Lake area of the city in association with the West Bengal government. 

Eight weband mobile-based app developers operate out of this facility . Nasscom is second in the country as part of its 10,000 Startup initiative to scale up the startup ecosystem. 

Om Agarwal, a final year BA LLB student at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, is one of them and his Easy Coach app is going live in 45 days. The platform, which will be available as desktop and mobile apps, will help students seeking admission at leading educational institutions around the world to take personalised guidance from the alumni and current students of the institutes, Agarwal said. Those offering guidance will get a fee, but only after the student seeking advice is fully satisfied with it. 

Until then, the money will be kept with Easy Coach. "Access is the most important support we get from Nasscom. If we want to get in touch with any institute in the world, Nasscom helps us connect," Agarwal said. 

Supported by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Kotak Mahindra Bank, these eight startups have also started acquiring funding from private investors.For instance, Mahesh Bhupati's Changer Mints has raised Rs 1 crore from a Hyderabad-based investor to expand operations. 

Another app going live in a month is Sudip Roy's Tickto. It is targeted at enhancing and personalising in-store shopping experience of consumers. The app en ables retailers to place real-time product promotion directly on in-store shoppers' smart phones, on a location aware, context-aware fashion for increasing sales. 

Roy expects Kolkata, with its low cost and large talent pool, and now with the Nasscom initiative, to see big success in the startup space. "Attrition in other startup cities like Bangalore and Pune is between 30% and 40%, while in Kolkata it's almost nil," he said. 

At the Nasscom warehouse, startups are charged a subsidised rent of Rs 2,500 for each seat, which also comes with a startup kit comprising value-added services and credits worth $25,000 (nearly Rs 16 lakh) from the partners. 

Debjit Kar, a 34-year-old with eight years of IT experience, decided to become his own boss with Pixo and jumped to start the brand powered by Nasscom's aid. "I spend only something to the tune of Rs 10,000 for the state-of-the-art facility. If I ran a similar office at a similar location, I would pay 60% of this cost only as Internet charges," said Kar. Pixo is a cloudbased photo and video storage platform that saves photo and videos as well as classifies and identifies them using features like face identification.

Citation from Economictimes :

Tech business week: Start-up map and financial results revealed

Start-up map of Ireland goes online

A very useful, living and breathing online map has been produced by Start-up Ireland that takes into account the entire start-up ecosystem in Ireland, including start-ups, accelerators co-working spaces and more.
Produced ahead of the Start-up Gathering this October, the map will always be a work in progress.  For anyone trying to get a grasp of the start-ups of today, access incubators, investors, co-working spaces, accelerators and lots more, it is a fine, detailed piece of work.

Apple reports US$49.6bn quarter, says little about Apple Watch

Apple has been circumspect about the performance of its Apple Watch wearable except to say it got off to a ‘great’ start. The company reported a US$10.7bn profit on third quarter sales of US$49.6bn.
Apple reported third-quarter growth was fuelled by record numbers of iPhone and Mac products and strong revenue from services.
“We had an amazing quarter, with iPhone revenue up 59pc over last year, strong sales of Mac, all-time record revenue from services, driven by the App Store, and a great start for Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Microsoft posts US$2bn loss on US$22.1bn in Q4 revenues

Software giant Microsoft has incurred losses of US$2.05bn on fourth quarter revenues of US$22bn, which the company attributed to the costs associated with the US$7.5bn writedown for its acquisition of Nokia Devices as well as restructuring charges of US$780m.
Microsoft also blamed its poor fourth quarter results on the strengthening of the US dollar.
There was also a further charge of US$160m associated with the company’s restructuring.

ChangeX raises €400k seed round

ChangeX, a not-for-profit start-up, has raised €400,000 from a coterie of investors including Storyful founder Mark Little, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield, prominent Irish financier Dermot Desmond and some high-profile Silicon Valley investors.
The investors also include: John O’Farrell, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz; Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures; Realex founder Colm Lyon; Brian Caulfield from DFJ Espri and Bil McKiernan from WMC Capital.
“I’m a long-time supporter of and believe in the power of grassroots movements and ChangeX has the potential to really accelerate their growth and impact and that’s important for the world,” Greenfield said. “I’ve known Paul for a few years now, I like his work and I’m just delighted to support him and the team in getting ChangeX to fly.”
ChangeX, which was our Boole Start-up of the Week in recent weeks, connects people with the best ideas and like-minded people so they can work on causes that they are passionate about.

Qualcomm to slash 15pc of workforce

Smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm — maker of the Snapdragon processor — is to slash 15pc of its workforce amidst a global slowdown in chip demand and pressure from an activist investor.
Qualcomm, a US$105bn technology powerhouse, employs 31,000 people worldwide and believes it could cut US$1.1bn a year in annual costs by cutting 4,500 workers by 2016.
Qualcomm, which operates a global R&D operation in Cork and is an investor in Dublin tech firm Cubic Telecom, has been under pressure since activist hedge fund Jana Partners acquired a US$2bn stake in the company.

9 out of 10 Irish adults bought online in the last year

The digital economy is alive and kicking in Ireland with nine out of 10 adults making purchases online in the last year. But Irish firms are missing out because 91pc of them don’t have e-commerce capabilities.
New research from Deloitte shows Irish consumers are no longer using the internet to simply source information. Engaging with businesses and other consumers, as well as sharing experiences, is becoming an increasingly important part of the purchasing decision and the majority of consumers under the age of 35 put most of their trust in anonymous online consumer reviews.
Clothing and footwear (49pc), hotel and accommodation (46pc), transport services (44pc) and books, music and games (42pc) are amongst the most popular items purchased online.
Citation from Siliconrepublic :

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Former Microsoft exec engineers merger of two fast-growing social startups

A Canadian social analytics company led by a former Microsoft bigwig has made its first notable acquisition.
The deal brings together Toronto-based Sysomos, which sells social media monitoring and analytics services, andExpion of Raleigh, North Carolina, which specializes in campaign and content management technology. Their combined account list boasts well north of 1,400 brands including Boeing, Coca-Cola, Marriott and Mondelez.
Ultimately, the companies’ respective applications will be combined into a comprehensive digital marketing platform, said Sysomos CEO Lindsay Sparks. “We have acquired a platform that is complementary to our data science initiative. This is like peanut butter across all marketing functions,” he said. “We surface insights. That science is what makes Unilever, Coke or others take actions on the data they see.”
For perspective, what Sysomos aims to pull off is akin to platforms sold by Sprinklr or what Salesforce and Adobe are building with their marketing clouds. This acquisition also sets it up to compete with Percolate, which plays up its role in orchestration or pretty much every task in marketing.
Sysomos was spun out of Marketwired, the press release distribution service, back in February, thanks to funding from OMERS Private Equity. That’s when Sparks, a Microsoft corporate vice president who pioneered its managed services business, joined as CEO.
Terms of the acquisition weren’t announced, but Sparks said Sysomos will spend $100 million over an 18-month period building out an end-to-end platform capable of ingesting virtually any type of data feed. It’s still one of the “select” companies with access to the Twitter firehose, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Chinese platforms WeChat and Weibo, and other services.
When it comes to analytics, Sparks prefers the term “preemptive” to “predictive.” His goal is to help businesses anticipate a situation before it happens and take corrective active. An example: an airline could follow passengers’ sentiments during travel delays and then deploy more personnel to gates proactively as negative comments escalate. Later, they could communicate proactively and directly with affected customers.
“Structured data is hindsight. Unstructured data is ‘current sight’ with foresight potential,” Sparks said.
Together, the companies will have a combined headcount of 500 by the end of the year, more than double the current workforce. Sysomos will also have a global footprint in 10 cities, expanding into places like Singapore and Shanghai.
Citation from Fortune :

Silicon Valley startups go farming

Agriculture tech is a hot space for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

Silicon Valley, often accused of following the herd, is doing that quite literally when it comes to startups building technology for farmers. Some of the most well known venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are now focused on bringing the latest computing technologies — data analytics, cloud computing, mobile apps — to farms.
On Wednesday, farming software startup Granular said that it has raised a new round of $18.7 million in funding from investors Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. New investors in the round, which is Granular’s second, included Tao Capital Partners, Emory Investment Management, Fall Line Capital, and H. Barton Asset Management.
Granular debuted last year from the split of another startup called Solum that was founded in 2009. Agriculture giant Monsanto acquired the half of Solum’s business that sold soil testing and data tech to farmers and folded it into the data team it acquired in 2013 from data startup Climate Corp.
Solum’s remaining technology, which is software, cloud-services, mobile apps and collaboration tools for farmers, was spun out into Granular. Now Granular’s software is helping a handful of farmers manage their farms more efficiently, using less water and less fertilizer. The tech enables them to tap into detailed data about how their farms operate in real time and, presumably, make better decisions.
For example, Ohio farmer Mark Bryant has been using Granular’s software to manage his farm’s operations, budget, and inventory tracking. Granular introduced its software last year with seven Midwestern farmers who also helped the company design the original software.

Granular is just one of dozens of startups trying to sell tech to farmers. The company is focused on the thousands of big farm owners that account for a third of U.S. farmland. These large farmers are increasingly buying up land from smaller farming operations and are looking for new tools to manage it all.
Not only has the agriculture industry been slow to adopt tech, but farmers are increasingly looking to use tech to reduce their use of water and fertilizer to save money. Water shortages from droughts are expected to become more common. As the world population hits 9 billion in 2050, farmers will have to produce more food, with less resources.
Extreme weather aggravated by climate change is also making farming more risky. Farmers are looking to use more tech to better deal with the potential weather problems.
Between 2013 and 2014, Silicon Valley’s interest in backing agriculture and food-related startups doubled in terms of deal size, according to data from the Cleantech Group. In 2014, 151 startups focused on agriculture and food (not including biofuels, but including some of the on-demand food startups) were funded to the tune of $976 million.
That funding FAST-PACE looks like it will continue this year. In May farming data startup Farmers Business Network raised $15 million from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and DBL Investors. Other farming tech startups include FarmLink, Adapt-N, Farmers Edge, FarmLogs,aWhere, Granular, Farmeron, OnFarm, Agralogics, Blue River Technology and Precision Hawk.
Citation from Fortune :

Startups Can’t Afford To Ignore Government

Last week, California threatened Uber with license suspension for failing to comply with state laws. Last month, Santa Monica banned Airbnb vacation rentals. But in spite of regulatory challenges faced by companies like Airbnb and Uber, entrepreneurs still act like government isn’t an issue. After all, startups are disruptors, and government is just a monolithic barrier to innovation, right?
Government as enemy?
 The prevailing view in Silicon Valley is that entrepreneurs are changing the world, while government is just standing in the way. And it’s exactly this mentality and media narrative of the ‘disruptors’ versus the ‘regulators’ that’s holding back our startups.
A new era in startup innovation
The truth is that government is now more critical to the success or failure of startups than ever before. Many of today’s largest and most successful private startups are playing in a public space that is highly politicized, highly regulated, or traditionally run by government.  Let’s take a look at the data.
For half of the most highly valued, venture-back private companies, interaction with government is core to their success. The top five list is even more telling – between Uber, Airbnb, and Palantir, you have the GDP of a sizeable country.  And this trend continues as you go down the “unicorn” list of billion dollar startup valuations – from employee benefits platform Zenefits, and fintech startups like Stripe and Credit Karma, to energy company Bloom Energy.
Just a few years ago, the move of startups towards highly regulated industries was unthinkable. But, with governments now cash-strapped and unable to provide all the quality-of-life services for residents, entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to step in.
And clearly, if startups can master the tight-rope act of engaging with government, they can be big winners.
Moving beyond the philosophical and into the practical
It’s time for startups to stop treating government with disdain or, even worse, ignorance. There is a clear business case for working with government. But you have to be savvy. Let’s take some lessons from entrepreneurs in the trenches.
1) Not everyone will like you just because you’re innovating
 In fact, people may hate you more because you’re disrupting highly entrenched industries. And they will actively try to run you out of town.
Take the example of Zenefits – a startup that helps small businesses manage employee benefits. The startup is disrupting the health insurance market by cutting out the middlemen, known as health care brokers. Earlier in 2015, the Zenefits business model was declared illegal by the state of Utah, on the basis that its model violated a law against rebates. While consumers love Zenefits, the insurance brokers cried foul.
Zenefits proactively engaged government and regulators to change the situation. Fortunately for Zenefits, Utah’s governor and legislature stepped in, clarifying that the Zenefits business model is legal earlier this spring. Just a few weeks later, Zenefits announced a funding round of $500 million at a $4.5 billion valuation. Clearly, it pays to engage with government.
2) Your approach matters
 You need to be tactical about when and how to engage with regulators.
Let’s take the example of Night School, a shuttle service that would use school buses to transport individuals between San Francisco and Oakland, in the evenings, when public transit was slow or nonexistent. But the startup was shut down before they could fully launch. Unfortunately for Night School, they engaged with regulators in the wrong way. They asked for permission before they had broad-based community support or validation of their service. And without a war chest of funding, they couldn’t afford to fight.
3) It takes a village
Productive engagement with government requires investment of time and human resources.
Let’s look at Airbnb. Airbnb has experienced a backlash in some cities around taxation and fears that it reduces the affordable housing supply. But the startup has taken an incredibly proactive approach to working with government. First, they speak the language of government – collecting and sharing data on housing impacts, spending, and tourism.
Second, Airbnb has a collaborative approach to lobbying – with an expansive government relations and civic partnerships team, public relations, lobbyists, and key lawyers to help navigate the complexity. It truly takes a village to work with government, and Airbnb’s village is designed to productively engage policymakers.
Uber is an exception
 Perhaps no company’s battles with regulators have been as public as Uber. The ridesharing service has grown to 300 cities across the globe, developing notoriously antagonistic relationships with many regulators along the way.
And frankly, Uber is going to be successful in spite of itself because it has the money to fight these battles. Its combative strategies have alienated a lot of regulators – and this is going make it more difficult for the new startups that come after them.  Which is why it’s important for startups to work even harder to engage with government. Because, unlike Uber, you probably don’t have the multi-billions in cash to fight.
Wake up and smell the regulation
We’ve entered a new era of startup innovation – one where government will mean life or death. It’s time for startups to get over their indifference to government. In this era, the most successful startups will see government as a partner, not a problem.
Citation from TechCrunch :

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Startup's Guide to Doing Keyword Research Like The Pros

As the owner of a new online business, one of your biggest challenges is likely cash flow. Unfortunately, the only solution to this problem (besides a generous influx of investor cash) is to start driving search engine traffic and generating revenue – fast.

And herein lies the classic catch 22: you can’t get your site ranking without hiring a professional SEO, yet you can’t afford to pay an SEO until your site begins ranking and making money.

So, what’s a startup to do?

In this post, I’ll provide you with a framework for doing your own keyword research, just like the pros. I’ll take you step by step through the process of finding relevant keywords and then analyzing the sites that rank highly for these terms. I’ll also show you exactly which tools the pros use, and explain how you can use them to find high value keywords to incorporate into your own site.

But first, let’s take a look at some important principles that will impact how you select the ideal keywords for your site.

The term sometimes brings to mind old-school SEO techniques like keyword stuffing or including hidden text on a page as a way of ranking. But when it comes down to it, keyword research – and the ensuing incorporation of those keywords into a site – is more about understanding and using the language and terminology your target market uses in search.
When you understand what words people are looking for, you can provide content that does a great job of covering these topics and themes.
Another important aspect of keyword research is competitive analysis. Analyzing the top-ranking sites for your keywords allows you to determine which keywords are actually realistic for your business. Without this critical step, you could find yourself wasting time and money targeting keywords that you never had a chance of ranking for.

Citation from Forbes :

Startup lands $100 million to challenge smartphone superpowers Apple and Google

A new startup emerged Wednesday with a new mobile operating system to challenge the dominance of Apple's iOS and Google's Android -- and it's backed with a whopping $100 million investment.
Acadine Technologies and plans for the new H5OS operating system were shrouded in secrecy since the Li Gong, the company's founder, chief executive and chairman, left his previous job as president of Firefox browser developer Mozilla at the end of March. Now his Hong Kong startup has revealed its business strategy and its funding is from an ambitious Chinese state-controlled company expanding into technology markets.
Acadine, which CNET previously reported wasinitially known by the placeholder name Gone Fishing, plans to build an operating system for smartphones, tablets, wearable devicess and the Internet of Things.
That'll be a tough challenge. But Gong believes Acadine's generous funding, fast development and international reach will mean consumers finally will see the alternative to Apple and Google that so many other companies have failed to build.
And of course that means his startup and its investors will reap the rewards. "Owning an OS is extremely important if you can do it," Gong said. "It's very profitable if you can do it."

A big challenge

Potential sources of money, Gong said, include being paid to promote services like search, storage, music streaming and e-commerce; revenue sharing from those services when customers pay to use them; and fees generated by advertising and game sales. All of those, though, depend on Acadine succeeding in finding and exploiting gaps where existing OSes are weak then expanding from there to a large user base.
The list of mobile operating systems that have struggled to compete against Android and iOS and gain that large population of users is long: Microsoft's Windows Phone, Samsung's Tizen, Jolla's Sailfish OS, Canonical's Ubuntu, Hewlett-Packard's WebOS, BlackBerry's BlackBerry OS and Mozilla's Firefox OS. This last project is the one Gong led at Mozilla until he left in April, and it's the starting point for H5OS.
Even having Firefox OS as a starting point won't make things easy. For the 334.4 million smartphones that shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2015, 78 percent of them ran Android and 18.3 percent iOS, leaving all other OSes to scrap for the remaining 3.7 percent, according to analysis firm International Data Corp.

A $100 million vote of confidence

Acadine raised the funding from Hong Kong-based Tsinghua Unigroup International, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Tsinghua Unigroup that in turn is controlled by Tsinghua Holdings. This latter organization is run by the Chinese government and funded by the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing.
"I am very excited to support Dr. Gong and the team he has assembled to establish a truly open mobile operating system," Tsinghua Unigroup Chairman Zhao Weiguo said in a statement. Zhao has led Tsinghua Unigroup's recent high-tech expansion -- its $1.8 billion acquisition of smartphone chipmaker Spreadtrum in 2013, $907 million acquisition of phone radio chipmaker RDA Microelectronics, and $2.3 billion takeover of Hewlett-Packard's enterprise computing technology business in China. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported Tsinghua Unigroup also is making a bid for US memory chipmaker Micron.
Acadine will be independent, though, Gong said, noting that he is both chairman and CEO. "We are not a China company, we are not a US company, we are an international company," Gong said.
Along with its Hong Kong headquarters, it's opened other offices in Beijing and in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, and has labs in London and Palo Alto, California.

Firefox OS ties

Firefox OS is open-source software, meaning that Acadine and anyone else is allowed to copy its underlying source code, modify it and ship it as a different product. And Acadine has more than just the code: of the company's more than 70 employees hired since its founding in March, about 40 are from Mozilla, Gong said.
At the same time, Mozilla is retooling its Firefox OS effort. CEO Chris Beard concluded Gong's strategy of aiming for very low-cost smartphones flopped and now is focusing on a product that enthusiasts can install on their unlocked Android phones.

Beard said in June that Mozilla decided it needed to change Firefox OS management. Gong said the decision to depart was mutually agreed upon.
Mozilla also has lost its chief technology officer, Andreas Gal, to a separate startup. Sources said in June that Gal had been considering working with Acadine and taking an investment from it, but Gal said he's looking investors closer to his Santa Clara, California, headquarters. "We are in the process of raising venture funding in Silicon Valley," he said.

Building on the Web

Acadine's operating system, like Mozilla's Firefox OS and Google's Chrome OS, runs Web apps -- software written with the same technologies used to build Web pages. For operating systems trying to challenge incumbents like Windows, iOS and Android, Web apps have two big advantages.
First, there lots of programmers are already familiar with foundations of Web software like HTML content, JavaScript programs and CSS formatting, and indeed many mobile-optimized websites are already available. Second, every modern operating system has a browser, so a Web app is useful on existing operating systems as well as new ones.
Firefox OS is aimed today chiefly at smartphones, though electronics manufacturer Foxconn has used it on tablets and Panasonic offers it on a 4K TV. Acadine also expects to offer its operating system on wearable devices -- smartwatches are the best example today -- and on "Internet of Things" devices -- products that are that of spreading network connectivity beyond today's computing devices.
Acadine expects to diverge from Mozilla's open-source Firefox OS project where it makes sense. Eventually, Acadine could end up with something completely different, Gong said.
"Firefox OS, for which project I was the owner and primary driver in my last job, has definitely broken fresh ground in mobile operating systems and has demonstrated the viability of a new Web-centric approach in a field dominated by Android and iOS devices," Gong said. "Nevertheless, to achieve market success we have to go much further than that. We must move and scale up at the supersonic speed of the mobile industry, be pragmatic and flexible, and look beyond Silicon Valley for inspiration."
Citation from CNET :

Monday, July 13, 2015

Govt extends underwrite to start-up investor, NZVIF, to 2022

The government is extending its underwrite of the Crown-funded start-up investor, New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, through to 2022 and allowing $12 million to be transferred to the investor's cash-constrained seed fund, but the level of support will drop from 2018.
The Crown's $100 million underwrite facility will be extended until 2018 and then reduced to $60 million until 2020, as returns to NZVIF from earlier investments become available for reinvestment. The move, along with a $470,000 increase in operational funding, allows the fund to make co-funding commitments to new venture capital funds and partnerships.
NZVIF hasn't yet called upon the underwrite, even in the depths of the global financial crisis, but chief executive Francescka Banga said it was a useful safety net that gave other investors confidence in dealing with the fund.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the NZVIF played an important role in developing the start-up and growth capital markets for New Zealand companies.
"It has been instrumental in building up New Zealand's angel and venture capital investor markets from small beginnings to the point where private and public venture capital investment since 2003 has reached $1.1 billion," Joyce said.
"The angel investment formal market has provided a further $353 million since it started in 2006."
Joyce said the government expects NZVIF to become self-sustaining over time and the extension of the underwrite guarantee gives the fund time to make that adjustment.
Banga said there had not previously been a deadline for the fund to become self-sustaining but that would now likely happen within the next four years as returns grow.
The $260 million Venture Capital Fund, which invests in start-up young growth companies through privately-managed venture capital funds, is already self-sustaining, she said.
But the $40 million Seed Capital Investment Fund, which invests in early-stage companies with angel investors, still had a way to go, she said.
Banga said it was NZVIF's idea to get government approval to transfer $12 million from one fund to the other as the SCIF, set up in 2006, was in danger of running out of money to co-invest at the levels it had been.
Many of the 115 companies the seed fund has invested in are still at an early stage - averaging four years of investment - and it takes on average seven to eight years for returns to come through.
Banga said the fund will gradually modify its level of investment as the time draws nearer for it to become self-sustaining so it could withstand the fluctuations in the market which can alter expected returns and cash flow.
Since its establishment in 2002, NZVIF has invested $147 million, alongside private investors, into 187 of New Zealand's most promising growth companies including Xero, Orion Health, PowerbyProxi, Vend and Booktrack.
It said in a report last week that it had broken even or made money on 21 per cent of its exited investments, which is said was in line with early-stage investment expectations.
The fund manager has exited 62 investments to date, of which 13 have broken even or produced a positive net return.
Eight returned between 1.0 and 1.99 times the total invested, one was between 2.0 and 3.0 times investment and another four realised more 3.0 times the total invested.
The seed fund has broken even or made money on five exits out of 26 while the Venture Investment Fund has had eight successful exits out of 26.
Banga said she was satisfied with returns to date given New Zealand is still a relatively young market for this type of investment.
"We'd always like to see more success, faster, but that's the nature of the market. It has taken time."
Citation from NZHERALD :