News

Runa Capital closes Fund III at $157M, with an added focus on quantum computing

VC fund Runa Capital was launched with $135 million in 2010, and is perhaps best known for its investment into NGINX, which powers many web sites today. In more recent years it has participated or led investments into startups such as Zipdrug ($10.8 million); Rollbar this year ($11 million); and Monedo (for €20 million).

HQ’d in San Francisco, it has now completed the final closing on its $157 million Runa Capital  Fund III, which, they say, exceeded its original target of $135 million.

The firm typically invests between $1 million and $10 million in early-stage companies, predominantly Series A rounds, and has a strong interest in cloud infrastructure, open-source software, AI and machine intelligence and B2B SaaS, in markets such as finance, education and healthcare.

Going forward the firm says it aims to concentrate much of its firepower in the realm of machine learning and quantum computing.

/Source: TechCrunch/

May 8, 2020


Moderna signs deal with Lonza to make potential Covid-19 vaccine

Moderna has signed a deal with Swiss healthcare manufacturer Lonza to expand manufacturing of its potential vaccine for Covid-19, after the Boston-based biotech received almost $500m from the US government to bolster production.

The companies will start manufacturing the vaccine candidate together in the US in July. Then they will expand production to Switzerland and later other sites around the world, as they gear up to eventually make a billion doses a year.

No financial details were disclosed for the partnership, which will last 10 years and include Moderna’s other potential vaccines for conditions including a strand of flu and Zika.

Earlier this week, Moderna said it had applied for permission to move to the next stage of human trials for the Covid-19 vaccine candidate, intending to enrol 600 healthy participants. 

/Source: Financial Times/

May 4, 2020


Portugal plans $5bn green hydrogen plant to lead Covid fightback: report

Portugal aims to build a solar-powered green hydrogen production plant that would be among the world’s largest planned so far at 1GW, according to reports.

The €5bn ($5.4bn) plant near the port of Sines could be producing hydrogen as early as 2023, with the aim of reaching full capacity by 2030, said Reuters, quoting the country’s environment minister Joao Matos Fernandes.

Fernandes told the financial newswire that the plant is a key plank of Portugal’s response to the economic collapse caused by Covid-19. "The economy cannot grow along the lines of the past and our post-coronavirus vision is to create wealth from projects that reduce carbon emissions and promote energy transition and sustainable mobility," he’s quoted saying.

National utility giant EDP and Portuguese oil & gas group Galp are both considering participating in the project, said Fernandes. Galp earlier this year trumpeted its ambitions to be “Iberia’s biggest solar player” after ...

April 30, 2020


Oil rallies more than 40% in two days as it comes back from record lows

Oil jumped nearly 20% on Thursday, accelerating its recent rally as the Street eyed continued production cuts and rising U.S.-Iranian tensions.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose 19.7%, or $2.72, to settle at $16.50 per barrel. WTI did close off the highest level of the day, however, after hitting $18.26 in mid-morning trading. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained 96 cents, or 4.7%, to settle at $21.33.

On Wednesday, WTI jumped 19.1% — one of its best days on record. In just two days, from Tuesday’s settle of $11.57 to Thursday’s settle WTI has gained 42.6%. Given oil’s more than 70% decline this year a smaller gain, of course, now accounts for a much larger percentage move.

The rise was fueled in part by President Donald Trump’s threat that the U.S. would “destroy” any Iranian gunboats that harass American ships in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, said Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets ...

April 24, 2020


Coronavirus takes toll on global M&A as $1 billion deals disappear

For the first time since September 2004, no merger and acquisition deal worth more than $1 billion was announced worldwide last week, according to data provider Refinitiv, as the new coronavirus stifles global M&A.

The dearth of mega deals comes as countries across the world have shut down large swathes of their economies as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over 2.33 million people and claimed 165,000 lives.

Worldwide merger activity so far this year is down 33% from a year ago and at $762.6 billion is the lowest year-to-date amount for dealmaking since 2013, the data showed. The number of deals also fell 20% year-on-year.

Regulators worldwide have also toughened rules for foreign investments to protect national assets. 

With big deals largely put on hold as buyers wait to gauge the true impact of the pandemic, dealmakers are seeking other, related work on companies needing rescues, restructurings and potentially nationalizations as ...

April 20, 2020


Jeff Bezos Gets $6.4 Billion Richer As Amazon Stock Hits A New Record High

Already the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos saw his net worth jump nearly 5% after Amazon’s stock hit a new all-time high on Tuesday, with the e-commerce giant experiencing unprecedented demand amid widespread coronavirus-related shutdowns.  KEY FACTS

Amazon stock surged 5.3% on Tuesday, hitting a new record close of $2,283 per share. The stock is now up over 20% so far this year, outpacing the benchmark index (the S&P 500 is down over 12%).

Amazon is the first major company to rebound from the coronavirus market selloff, which started in late February: It’s one out of only 28 stocks in the S&P 500 to do so.

The stock has soared in 2020—despite the coronavirus downturn and widespread business shutdowns, with Amazon benefiting from skyrocketing demand as consumers who are stuck at home rely on online shopping more than ever.

As the company’s stock rises to a new all-time high, that’s made CEO and founder ...

April 15, 2020


Microsoft dedicates $20M from AI for Health program to COVID-19 data analysis

Microsoft says it’s immediately putting $20 million from its AI for Health program toward analytical tools that can help researchers and public health officials get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re focusing our efforts in five specific areas where we think data, analysis and the skills of our data scientists can have the biggest impact,” John Kahan, Microsoft’s chief data analytics officer, wrote today in a blog post about the effort. Those areas are:

  • Data and insights relating to safety and economic impacts.
  • Treatment and diagnostics, enabling research to further the development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
  • Allocation of resources, including recommendations on the use of limited assets, such as hospital space and medical supplies.
  • Dissemination of accurate information to counter misinformation.
  • Scientific research to study and understand COVID-19..

Some of the money is going to support the recently announced COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, which is marshaling supercomputers and cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure ...

April 10, 2020


Xerox abandons $35B bid for rival HP amid coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has forced Xerox to abandon its $35 billion attempt at a hostile takeover of larger rival HP.

Xerox is withdrawing its cash-and-stock offer for HP because the viral pandemic has created conditions that are “not conducive” to getting the deal done, the Connecticut-based printer maker said Tuesday.

Xerox added that it still sees financial and strategic benefits to the merger, which it first proposed in November. The deal reportedly had support from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who owns stakes in both companies and argued that their combination could lead to significant cost savings.

HP, which makes printers and personal computers, firmly opposed the proposal even after Xerox raised its offer to $24 a share and nominated a slate of directors to HP’s board. The California-based firm has said Xerox’s bid undervalued HP and raised concerns about the amount of debt involved.

/Source: NEW YORK POST/

April 6, 2020


Sony will merge its phone, camera and home entertainment businesses

Sony is radically re-organizing three of its electronics divisions - Sony Mobile Communication, Imaging Products & Solutions and Home Entertainment & Sound. They will be merged into "Sony Electronics Corporation" effective April 1.

This means Sony's phone business, its consumer cameras, its TVs and home audio hardware will be under the control of one company. The goal is to better integrate the different (but related) products, optimize the internal structure of the company and become more competitive overall.

Also, the related global sales and marketing, manufacturing, logistics, procurement and engineering efforts for these divisions will be combined in an attempt to strengthen them and raise profitability. Sony Interactive Entertainment, which produces PlayStation consoles and develops games for them, is Sony's only consumer-facing electronics division to remain independent. No surprise here, SIE has been doing quite well financially.

The company's image sensor division and its professional equipment division (cameras for studios, broadcast equipment, etc.) ...

April 1, 2020


France to support start-ups with €4 billion plan amid coronavirus crisis

Investments in early stage digital companies have boomed in France in recent years, helped by tax cuts and business-friendly measures put in place by President Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to turn the country into a "start-up nation”.

"We're announcing a specific plan to support the liquidity of start-ups," O told French radio station Radio Classique. "In total it will be a plan for 4 billion (euros).”

The money injected by venture capital funds into French start-ups jumped 30% over the first three quarters of 2019 from a year earlier to 3.9 billion euros, according to Dealroom, a data provider.

The French government's liquidity plan for start-ups includes a short-term refinancing scheme (160 million euros), the early payment of some tax credits (1.5 billion), the accelerated payment of already-planned investments in the sector (150 million) and guarantees over cash flow costs (2 billion).

"Given the global economic situation, there's a risk that some investors ...

March 27, 2020