Sony to spend $18.39 billion on strategic investments over next 3 years, including subscription push

Sony Group said on Wednesday it will spend 2 trillion yen ($18.39 billion) over the next three years on strategic investments, including a push to expand subscribers to its gaming and entertainment services.

Sony said in a statement it would accelerate investments in mobile and online services with the aim of expanding the number of consumers directly connected to its services to 1 billion people from 160 million.

As it streamlines its consumer electronic business, Sony is focusing more on movies, games and other content it sells through platforms such as its PlayStation games console.

The company is benefiting from strong demand for its PlayStation 5 launched in core markets in November. A global shortage of chips, however, means Sony is unable to keep up with demand for the games console, which it wants to use to encourage online game downloads and sign-ups for subscription services.

In the business year that started April 1, ...

June 7, 2021

Indoor vertical farming startup Bowery Farming raises $300 mln

New York-based indoor vertical farming startup Bowery Farming said it raised $300 million in its latest funding round, valuing the company at $2.3 billion as the pandemic shed light on the importance of securing local food supply.

Vertical farming grows its produce in stacked arrangements in technologically controlled environments, reducing the need for vast expanses of land and bringing mass production right in to urban areas.

While the new industry has struggled to break even in the past, the drop in technology costs, such as LED lights, is changing the economics and fueling investor interest.

According to PitchBook data, nearly $1.9 billion of global venture capital was invested in indoor farming in 2020, nearly tripling investment in 2019.

Bowery’s latest funding round, led by Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, would be the largest vertical farming deal on record, based on previous such deals listed by PitchBook.

The company’s leafy greens are sold in 850 ...

June 2, 2021

OpenAI launches $100M startup fund with Microsoft

OpenAI is launching a $100 million startup fund, which it calls the OpenAI Startup Fund, through which it and its partners will invest in early-stage AI companies tackling major problems (and productivity). Among those partners and investors in the fund is Microsoft, at whose Build conference OpenAI founder Sam Altman announced the news.

In a prerecorded video, Altman explained that “this is not a typical corporate venture fund. We plan to make big early bets on a relatively small number of companies, probably not more than 10.”

It’s not clear exactly how the $100 million will be divided or disbursed, or on what timeline, or whether this is part of a longer program. But it seems to be a limited fund, not just the 2021 round.

Altman did say that they will be looking for companies that are taking on serious issues, like healthcare, climate change and education, where AI-powered applications or approaches ...

May 28, 2021

Aurora Solar Raises $250 Million to Digitize Solar Installations

Funding Round Led by Coatue Signals Market Interest in the Growing Solar Industry

Aurora Solar, the industry’s leading software platform for solar sales and design, today announced it has closed a $250 million Series C funding round led by Coatue, with follow-on participation from existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Energize Ventures, and Fifth Wall.

In just over two years, Aurora Solar has raised more than $320M. Today’s fundraise underscores the remarkable shift to renewable energy happening in energy markets around the globe, with solar being the fastest-growing source of energy over the past decade. This growth translates into jobs—by 2030, in the United States alone, the solar industry will need to grow from 230,000 to 900,000 people in order to meet President Biden’s goal of carbon-free power by 2035, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Software is the key to making solar installations more affordable and accessible for both residential and commercial ...

May 24, 2021

Swedish fintech Klarna valued at $5.5 billion in funding round

Online payments firm Klarna, which has attracted a growing following with its “buy now, pay later” service for shoppers, said it had raised $460 million in a funding round that makes it Europe’s most valuable fintech startup.

Investors led by San Francisco-based Dragoneer Investment Group put new money into the Swedish company, giving it a valuation of $5.5 billion and additional financial firepower to expand in the United States.

Klarna, founded in 2005 by chief executive Sebastian Siemiatkowski and partners, enables consumers to buy online without having to provide payment details to the merchant they are buying from.

Instead, Klarna pays for the order, which is then dispatched. It invoices the buyer, who typically gets 14 or 30 days to settle. Its core products are interest-free in the U.S. and UK markets, with merchants paying for its services.

Joining other European fintechs like Berlin-based smartphone bank N26, Klarna said it would invest proceeds to ...

May 19, 2021

German 30-year green bond attracts record demand

Investors have been scrambling to purchase Germany’s new 30-year green bond despite the ongoing sell-off in the bond market that usually depresses demand. Previously, green bonds had only been issued with five or 10-year maturities. 

Investors hope that the rush for the bond typically used to finance green projects will serve as a reference point for other borrowers in Europe, where the focus has also been on such bonds.

The €6 billion bond was issued on Tuesday (11 May) at a low-interest rate of just 0.391%, just two basis points lower than the conventional bond to which it has been linked in order to reduce risk.

This is remarkable in that the current high supply in the bond market usually causes interest rates to rise.

Green bonds trade at lower interest rates due to the relatively limited supply. Tying, therefore, allows investors to switch between the two and reduce the risk of liquidity shortages.

Germany ...

May 14, 2021

AWS Launches Clean Energy Accelerator for Startups

Addressing climate change requires innovation across the world, across industries, and across startups and multi-national corporations. From distributed energy to storage solutions to efficiency and optimization software—clean technology investment and innovation is surging.

With this surge in demand comes a rapid proliferation of startups working to solve today’s biggest energy challenges. To help foster this innovation, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched the AWS Clean Energy Accelerator on May 6.

The AWS Clean Energy Accelerator is AWS’s first accelerator focused on fostering rapid growth of clean tech innovations. The goal of the AWS Energy Accelerator is to help startups working in clean energy accelerate their impact, access additional resources, and expand their reach. Applications are open and proposals are due by June 8, 2021. AWS is offering this opportunity in collaboration with Freshwater Advisors, a national innovation consultancy and venture catalyst.

AWS and Freshwaters Advisors are accepting applications from startups working with clean ...

May 10, 2021

Intel: $3.5 billion investment at New Mexico facility is critical to microchip future

Intel will be investing $3.5 billion in its New Mexico plant to manufacture what will fuel “a new era of innovation” and advanced computing as demands increase for the tiny microchips used in nearly all modern devices.

Intel INTC, +0.73% executives were joined by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other politicians at the plant in the Albuquerque suburb of Rio Rancho as they shared details of Intel’s global strategy as it looks to reclaim the top spot in the semiconductor sector.

Multibillion-dollar expansions also are underway at the company’s sites in Arizona, Oregon, Ireland and Israel.

Almost every aspect of life today depends on technology, and the demand for more manufacturing and advanced packaging systems for microchips is more critical than ever as more people are working from home and as many parts of education and communication have gone virtual, said Keyvan Esfarjani, the company’s senior vice president for manufacturing and operations.

Most of ...

May 5, 2021

Volkswagen plans renewable investments in CO2 reduction push

Volkswagen plans to invest about 40 million euros ($48 million) in European wind and solar projects by 2025 as part of a push to become carbon neutral, the head of the group’s namesake brand said on Thursday.

As part of the initiative, Volkswagen will team up with Germany’s top utility RWE for a solar park in 2022 that will have a capacity to supply 50,000 households with power.

/Source: Reuters/

April 30, 2021

Exxon floats $100 bln carbon storage project requiring public, private financing

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) on Monday floated a proposal for a public-private carbon storage project that would collect planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. petrochemical plants and bury them in deep under the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan would require "$100 billion or more" from companies and government agencies to store 50 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030, with capacity potentially doubling by 2040, Joe Blommaert, president of Exxon's Low Carbon Solutions business, said in an interview.
Blommaert outlined the plan on Monday, about two months after the largest U.S. oil producer appointed him to run a new Low Carbon Solutions business that could profit from selling carbon-reduction technology and services.
Houston has a large concentration of "hard-to-decarbonize" industry near the Gulf, said Blommaert.
"We could create an economy of scale where we can reduce the cost of the carbon dioxide mitigation, create jobs and reduce the emissions," he said.
Exxon, which suffered a $22.4 ...

April 26, 2021