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Skelter Labs raises $9M to help put Korea on the global AI map

13:21 | 21 February

China and the U.S. are the two countries most closely associated with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, but a startup in Korea is out to add its nation to mix after it raised more than $9 million from some big-name investors.

Skelter Labs, which was founded in 2015 by Google’s former chief technical officer in Korea, announced today that it has raised KRW 10 billion ($9.3 million). Korean internet and messaging giant Kakao is a major backer, investing in the round via both its ‘KakaoBrain’ AI unit and its K-Cube VC firm, both of which are existing investors. Stonebridge Ventures and Lotte Homeshopping, the TV and internet shopping business owned by multi-billion dollar retail giant Lotte, also participated.

(Kakao Group CEO Jimmy Rim arrived at Kakao via its acquisition of K-Cube in 2015, before going on to take the top job later that year — so it is a pretty strategic asset.)

Skelter Labs started out as an app development house when it was initially founded by CEO Ted Cho, the former engineering site director at Google Korea, with products that include a flight booking app, chatbot network and point-of-sale software, but, over the past year, it began to focus on AI.

It now works with a range of enterprises and businesses in Korea to bring its artificial intelligence and machine-learning smarts into play. In particular, the company specializes in conversational AI, deep learning — speech recognition and image recognition — and context recognition.

Like many AI startups, which collaborative with third parties on services, the exact scope of its work is fairly secretive. A representative from Skelter Labs declined to name specific customers, but they told TechCrunch that the startup is planning to expand its services overseas following this funding.

While it is working with large enterprise and third parties to refine its core technology, a representative explained that the wider vision is to bring its machine-learning technology to daily life and schedules. That, Skelter Labs explained, could take the form of “intelligent virtual assistant technology that can be widely applied to various areas including smart speakers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles and wearable devices.”

The startup has more than 50 staff at its office in Seoul, with experience from companies like Google, Samsung, LG and science and technology research university KAIST’s AI division.

Korea is undoubtedly a hotbed for tech talent — with the likes of Samsung and LG employing huge numbers of people — but that is yet to translate a huge number of tech startups, although the progress is promising.

In the AI space, Korea hasn’t received anything like the global attention of China or the U.S.. Indeed, a recent CB Insights report concluded that China took 48 percent of the $5 billion-plus raised by AI startups in 2017. Overtaken by China for the first time, the U.S. placed second on 38 percent, but startups located in ‘the rest of the world’ accounted for only the remaining 14 percent.

Clearly, there’s potential to grow that tiny share. A $9 million round doesn’t move the investment needle on a global basis, but it is a significant sum for a Korean startup and it gives Skelter Labs the potential to accelerate its business.



Anyfin bags €4.8M Series A to let you refinance your existing loans by taking a photo

11:00 | 21 February

Anyfin, a startup based in Sweden that easily enables you to refinance your existing loans, including by taking a photo, has picked up €4.8 million in Series A investment. The round is co-led by Accel, and Northzone, with participation from Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, and a number of unnamed angel investors from the consumer finance and fintech space.

Launched in November 2017, and currently only available in its home country despite harbouring wider European ambitions, Anyfin wants to make it easier to competitively refinance (or consolidate) loans and credit cards and therefore not get ripped off with high interest rates or compound interest.

It claims to do this with a combination of AI and publicly available consumer data, and with additional information garnered through talking a photo of your existing loan statement, including your repayment history. This, it says, gives Anyfin a more complete picture than your credit score alone, which is likely the main data point used by the original lender.

“Working in the consumer finance sector for so long we all realised that although consumer finance brings a lot of value to people, it also has this huge downside to it,” says Anyfin co-founder and CEO Mikael Hussain, who spent seven years working at Klarna where he headed up credit risk and decision science.

“Consumers are getting ripped off and paying way too much for their financing, whether that’s credit cards, loans or instalment financing – with no good alternatives. Often consumers are charged in excess of 25 percent annually on part payments and credit cards, even those with good credit scores. In many cases this is due to old and rigid processes that don’t consider the individual consumer’s situation”.

To remedy this, Hussain says Anyfin wants to make refinance “as easy as taking a selfie”. Where there was previously paperwork, the fintech startup has digitised the process, and where there were long forms to fill out, it claims to use AI to capture much of the data it needs.

“All the consumer has to do to save a bunch of money is to snap a picture of the credit card bill or loan statement and we do the rest. When a customer sends us their picture we use OCR to get the data we need, run that through our risk algorithms and, based on that, give the consumer an individual price. Typically, we’re able to cut the cost of financing by more than half,” he says.

Meanwhile, competitors are cited as credit card providers, point-of-sale financing companies, and traditional and neo banks (although I think fintech startups like the U.K.’s Pariti are worth mentioning, too). “In reality consumer credit is everywhere,” says the Anyfin co-founder. “You can barely go into a store where they don’t offer you a financing option, and practically everyone has at least one credit card”.

To that end, the Swedish fintech startup claims to be able to keep costs and rates low by automating its processes, including credit scoring, and cutting out middle companies. The latter sees it operate as a balance sheet lender, meaning that it borrows money from banking partners to finance the loans it sells at a higher interest rate.



StatusToday scores nearly $4M to grow its AI-powered ’employee insights’ service

10:00 | 21 February

StatusToday, a London startup that is building out AI tech that it claims can help companies better understand their employees and in turn improve productivity, is disclosing $3.91 million in seed investment. The round is led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Notion Capital and Firstminute capital.

Founded in 2015 after graduating from company builder Entrepreneur First, StatusToday originally set out to use AI for cyber security, specifically by analysing a company’s internal online comms and other network activity to spot rogue employees or human lapses in security. However, the nascent company has since broadened out its offering, which launched in beta in the middle of last year, to be a more comprehensive employee insights service powered by AI.

Based on the premise that “most companies and managers do not understand their employees,” StatusToday currently plugs into various online company tools, such as those from Microsoft or Google. It then uses meta-data pulled in from these systems and artificial intelligence to analyse employee actions, thus enabling companies to gain better visibility of how their workforce is operating and to make improvements accordingly.

“Our mission is to help employers and employees understand each other. Most managers do not understand their employees,” StatusToday co-founder and CEO Ankur Modi tells me. “They don’t know what makes them inefficient, when they make mistakes or what incentivizes them. This causes a severe loss of productivity, mismanagement and an increase in risks, such as misconduct, regulatory failures and so on. We want to solve that problem by helping companies better understand their employees using artificial intelligence and data. By analyzing employee activity, we are able to determine when employees are more productive, identify looming risks and help companies to plan more effectively”.

In addition, Modi claims that StatusToday adds transparency for employees, too, by redefining the meaning of work in a way that is “transparent, rather than hierarchical and subjective”. “In time we should be able to use data to shed light on issues such as workplace discrimination and bullying,” he says.

When you plug Microsoft 365 or Google Gsuite into StatusToday, the service creates connectors to map out comms, content and activity on a real-time basis for all future events. This allows StatusToday to collect metadata and audit information for all essential activity performed by any employee in the system.

“Due to the nature and source of this data, we are able to create a company graph that consolidates baseline activity, times, locations for groups without getting actual contents or confidential info,” explains Modi.

Behind the scenes, StatusToday is currently running 22 AI modules (multiple patent-pending) that crunch this activity and create behavior models that adapt in real time to the individual, company and any relevant groups (e.g. roles, departments, managers or the London office). “This allows us to measure normal and abnormal hours, influence, mistakes and areas of low visibility,” says the StatusToday CEO.

Asked how this might be useful in practice, Modi cites a recent example of how one manager using the platform discovered the real volume of weekend work going on in his company, which far exceeded his pre-conceived expectations of work-life balance. Other recent reports generated by StatusToday include “out of band use of cloud storage”, impersonation of senior management, benchmarking contractor performance, and dedicated views for newcomers and leavers.

Meanwhile, StatusToday says the new investment will be used to attract more companies to the service, further improve the AI and expand the multinational team. The company currently has 14 employees, based in London and the Ukraine.

Customers are typically in regulated industries, sectors with high value employees or high employee turnover, “or are simply companies that want to use cutting edge technology to be more agile”. The basic service is free and open to companies of any size. However, StatusToday expects to charge for additional services in future.

Adds Modi: “The true value comes with scale because we will be able to offer valuable industry insights as a premium feature to employees and employers. Down the line we will have services that help companies take action based on our insights which will also be charged for. Needless to say, this gives us the ability to create industry-level benchmarks. We will be able to replicate what market analysts and research firms have done for decades but with real-time data and analytics. That kind of insight can change whole industries and those will generate revenue in future”.



SoftBank’s $100B Vision Fund could get more capital from the Middle East

09:41 | 21 February

SoftBank’s Vision Fund looks set to bring on more capital from the Middle East as it bids to reach its $100 billion fundraise target.

The fund has already deployed around one-third of the $93 billion it raised in its first close, according to statements released earlier this month, and now it is on the hunt for more LPs.

The Middle East has proven to be fertile soil for the Vision Fund, with UAE-based Mubadala Investment Company and Saudi Arabia’s PID public fund signing on as two of its most prominent backers. Now, according to Reuters, there has been dialogue with Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat over joining the party.

“We’re talking to them, we haven’t made any commitment yet. I think it’s very interesting, and a lot of people have already put a lot of tickets,” Mumtalakat CEO Mahmood AlKooheji told the news firm in an interview.

Mumtalakat’s portfolio of investments is valued at over $10 billion, and it includes Bahrain-based operator Batelco.

In addition to closing the inaugural Vision Fund, SoftBank is also reported to be considering a follow-up. The fact it has already deployed a third of the capital in under a year — a feat that seemed very unlikely last year — shows the seriousness behind the project.

Apple, Foxconn and Qualcomm are among other publicly-disclosed LPs in the Vision Fund. To date, its investments have included deals with ARM, Nvidia, Uber, Improbable, and Flipkart among others.

Featured Image: Yumi Kimura/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-SA 2.0 LICENSE



Edtech company Kidaptive raises $19.1 million for its adaptive learning platform

19:19 | 20 February

Edtech startup Kidaptive, an adaptive-learning company that begin its life with a suite of curriculum-focused iPad games for kids, announced today it has closed on $19.1 million in Series C funding, in a round led by Formation 8 and Korean education company Woongjin ThinkBig. The investment follows a deal with Woongjin that will see Kidaptive powering an English language learning system Woongjin Compass wants to build; as well as deal with its parent company, a large publisher with half a million paying subscribers, to personalize their tablet experience.

The deal is one of several in the works for Kidaptive, which now styles itself as more of a “big data for learning” company, rather than maker of educational kids’ games it was known for just a few years ago. Its early apps, which involved interactive storytelling, high-quality animation, and puzzles, had helped to create educational profiles for the young players while helping young children with reading comprehension and math skills, as well as improved cognitive, emotional and social functions.

The technology powering this experience has since evolved into Kidaptive’s “Adaptive Learning Platform,” a cloud-based assessment and reporting platform that can create learner profiles with actionable insights for parents and teachers. Another important aspect to Kidaptive’s platform is that it adapts in real-time based on how well the learner is performing in order to personalize the learning experience further.

The platform can also incorporate educational activity that takes place offline to enhance those learner profiles. This is especially important at younger ages, where parental involvement – like follow-up conversations to trip to museums – could help reinforce what the child learned. In other contexts, like language learning, for example, the platform could suggest to parents supplemental materials based on the child’s performance, like additional workbooks or videos to watch.

Kidaptive had specifically targeted the Korean market a few years ago with the acquisition of Hodoo English, an MMORPG which teaches children English. The acquisition was for both the IP and the team, giving the company a foothold in Korea, and a way to expand into China.

In addition to the deal with Woongjin, Kidaptive also has projects in the works in India and China. These are still under NDA, but the deal in China, which launches at the end of this summer, involves a large brick-and-mortar retailer that sells its own educational technology products (physical goods), which it wants to enhance with parental feedback mechanisms from Kidaptive.

In India, several deals are in the works, which Kidaptive hopes to announce by Q3.

Meanwhile, Kidaptive is working with the U.S. government and PBS KIDS a part of a $100 million five-year federal grant to create a personalized learning ecosystem. Kidaptive will be providing the adaptivity and learner profile management—two central features of the grant, says Kidaptive CEO P.J. Gunsagar.

“Our ability to ask the right questions at the right time by understanding who the learner is and provide actionable insights is unique. Just like Facebook has created a social graph, and LinkedIn a professional graph, our goal is to create are learning graph,” he explains.

The company is live with one PBS KIDS app associated with digital series The Ruff Ruffman Show, but it will be rolling out in two or three more this year, and multiple apps over the next few years.

As Kidaptive becomes further integrated across this PBS KIDS ecosystem of apps, the learner profiles will take into consideration the data generated from across all the PBS KIDS app where it’s live.

However, Gunsagar stresses that parents are in control of how this data is used.

“You own the learner model, not us…this is the parents’ and the childs’ model, it stays with them to make sure we’re optimizing the experience for them the way they want,” he says. The parents will be able to control how this data is used by requesting insights or not, or by disallowing the data to be shared across apps, if they don’t want it to be.

Gunsagar says big data for learning is starting to take off, and he believes his company will achieve profitability within the next 12 months as a result of its deals. It expects to manage 10 million active learner profiles within the next four years.

With the funding, Kidaptive plans to increase its 50-person team by 20 percent in the U.S. and 20 percent in Korea. It will also hire 5 people in China and 3 in India. The product itself will be further developed as well, with the next focus on test score prediction – something that half a dozen test prep companies in India and China talking with Kidaptive are now interested in.

Featured Image: Aping Vision / STS/Getty Images



xMatters snares $40 million Series D led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing

18:00 | 20 February

When a crisis happens and your system is down, it’s easy for panic and chaos to ensue. Large companies use a range of tools to monitor system health, and finding the source of the problem and ensuring the proper personnel are involved is not always easy.

That’s where xMatters comes in. It acts as an uber monitoring tool allowing you to understand the source of your problem and getting the right people involved to fix it. Today the company announced it has closed a $40 million Series D round led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing.

The company, which launched in 2010, has raised almost $10 million in equity financing and $45 million in debt financing to-date, according to Crunchbase data. Today’s round brings the total raised in debt and equity financing to almost $95 million.

“We provide an incident management platform, that takes data and signals [from various tools] and helps [teams] to solve the incident as quickly as they can. We’ve been successfully doing that for a number of years,” xMatters CEO Troy McAlpin told TechCrunch.

The platform doesn’t stop there though. It can inform the customer that the system is down and that you are taking steps to fix the problem. What’s more, it provides a post-mortem for what happened and uses a machine learning component so that if a similar set of circumstances come together again in the future, the system can prevent it, or at least warn system admins that there could be a problem coming before it happens.

xMatters main console. Photo: xMatters

The tool uses signals from a variety of popular tools including New Relic, Dynatrace, Atlassian, Splunk and Servicenow to monitor overall system health. McAlpin says a big difference between his company’s solutions and those of competing products like PagerDuty and Everbridge, is that they move the discussion to the tools that operations teams are using like Jira and Slack, rather than moving them into their tool to resolve the issues. xMatters is simply the glue holding the incident response together among the different components. Customers work in their tools of choice to resolve it.

With the new money in hand, they plan to expand geographically including opening three R&D centers in Canada in Vancouver, Victoria and Montreal to help expand their machine learning and data science understanding. The company processes over a million responses a day and they want to learn to use that data more effectively to help their customers proactively monitor their applications and systems.

The company currently has 500 customers including Vodaphone, Box, MGM and Manpower. While McAlpin wouldn’t share revenue figures, he said the company was growing revenue 50 percent year over year.

Featured Image: Getty Images



Homie raises $4M to help London’s ‘Generation Rent’ find their next property

11:00 | 20 February

So bad is London’s housing crisis, which sees house prices make homeownership a pipe dream for many, a 2015 report by PWC reckons that by 2025 more than half of under 40 year olds will be living into rental properties.

The answer, of course, is to build more affordable and/or social housing, but that hot political potato is continually kicked to into the long grass and, even at its most optimistic, will take a generation to fix. In other words, so-called ‘Generation Rent’ is real and here to stay.

But one societal crisis is another startup’s opportunity, and we’ve already seen a number of companies crop up to serve the rental needs of Londoners and people living in other housing stock-starved cities.

These include consumer-facing apps like Acasa, which wants to make it easy to move from one houseshare to another, B2B services like the recently troubled Goodlord, which is digitising the rental process on behalf of lettings agencies, and a plethora of online estate agents, such as Open Rent, Home Made and Rentify, that help home owners rent out their property.

Another nascent proptech startup targeting ‘Generation Rent’ is London-based Homie, which might best be described as a concierge-style service that promises to save Londoner’s time, hassle and money when going in search of their next rental property. Today the company is disclosing that it has raised a further $4 million in Seed funding in a round led by Connect Ventures, with participation from Venture Friends, Seedcamp, and The Family. It brings total funding raised to date by Homie to $6 million since being founded in 2016.

Claiming to help renters “find, view and agree the homes they want in as little as three days,” the way Homie works is as follows:

You first enter your home search details and then get assigned your own Homie, a ‘personal agent’ that runs your home search and sends you a curated list of properties that matches your needs. That’s about as #Lazyweb as it comes.

Next up you’re asked to choose your favourites via the web-app and book viewings online at your preferred date and time. The Homie then schedules all viewings with multiple agencies into one tour. They then act as the your agent, accompanying you on a cab journey across London to visit your top ten properties, whilst offering “unbiased advice” on the area.

At this point you are probably wondering how all of this is viable from a unit economics point of view. Founder and CEO Alex Eid tells me Homie generates revenue by acting as a broker between renters and real-estate agents. “We make introductory fees from the agents we place the tenants in. Very much like the Deliveroo model,” he says.

Typical Homie customers are said to be students (“first time renters who don’t understand the real estate market, need to organise the logistics to move in with their friends, and need to find a solution that best fits their limited budget”), young professionals who have limited time to go house hunting, and millennial expats who need help figuring out the best place to live and navigating the market for the best value homes.

“Our direct competition are relocation agents, expensive private agents used by corporates to find accommodation for their employees moving from one city to another. An unaffordable option for most people,” says Eid.

“The main competition however is renters doing it themselves. They have no other option but to search multiple property sites and go through the hassle of contacting real estate agencies one by one to book single viewings. Homie is a first of its kind consumer brand for real estate services; provides a complete and tailored home search across the whole market, property scheduling, transportation and guidance”.



Oracle grabs Zenedge as it continues to beef up its cloud security play

22:19 | 16 February

Oracle announced yesterday that it intends to acquire Zenedge, a 4-year old hybrid security startup. They didn’t reveal a purchase price.

With Zenedge, Oracle gets a security service to add it to its growing cloud play. In this case, the company has products to protect customers whether in the cloud, on-prem or across hybrid environments.

The company offers a range of services from web application firewalls to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack mitigation, bot management, API management and malware prevention. In addition, they operate a Security Operations Center (SOC) to help customers monitor their infrastructure against attack. Their software and the SOC help keep watch on over 800,000 websites and networks across the world, according to information supplied by Oracle.

Oracle says it will continue to build out Zenedge’s product offerings. “Oracle plans to continue investing in Zenedge and Oracle’s cloud infrastructure services. We expect this will include more functionality and capabilities at a quicker pace,” Oracle wrote in an FAQ on the deal (.pdf) published on their website.

Oracle’s recent acquisition history. Source: Crunchbase

Just this week Oracle announced that it was expanding its automation capabilities on its Platform as a Service offerings from databases to a range of areas including security. Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research says the company is a good match as it also uses automation and artificial intelligence in its solution.

“Oracle is beefing up its security offerings in the cloud. They have one of the strongest cyber security platforms,” Wang told TechCrunch. “They also have a ton of automation that fits Oracle’s theme of autonomous,” he added.

Oracle is far behind cloud rivals as it came late to the game. Just this week, the company announced plans to build a dozen data centers around the world over the next two years. They are combining an aggressive acquisition strategy and rapid data center expansion in an effort to catch up with competitors like AWS, Microsoft and Google.

Zenedge launched in 2014 and has raised $13.7 million, a modest amount for a cloud-based security service. Oracle says customers and partners can continue to deal with Zenedge using their existing contacts.

Featured Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images



Online estate agency Home Made raises £850K seed at £4.3M post-money valuation

20:56 | 16 February

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the online estate agency market was a done deal in the U.K., evidenced by a plethora of proptech startups and more established companies that help you sell your home or help you list and manage it for rent. But apparently not, if one London startup and its new backers are to be believed.

Home Made, which is focused exclusively on London lettings for properties in the £500,000-plus range, has raised £850,000 in seed funding. The round is led by private equity firm Tethys Equity and is said to give the young company a £4.3 million post-money valuation.

Home Made claims to be the only estate agency in the U.K. that offers a premium service akin to a high-end traditional estate agent — including accompanied property viewings and working until 10 pm at night, on weekends and bank holidays — for a low online fee starting at £948 +VAT.

That said, competitor Rentify also occupies a more upmarket space, but charges a monthly fee and is fully-managed and provides a ‘rent guarantee’. At the lower end are startups like Open Rent and uPad that operate more of a pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap à la carte model with various services to help you rent out your property.

Founded in 2016 by Asaf Navot, a former Bain strategy consultant and INSEAD graduate, and Nick Binnington, a former British Army Captain and LBS graduate, Home Made’s proposition is based on the premise that the letting agent model is broken: “High-street agents offer average service and extortionate fees, while online agents offered low fees, but even worse service,” says the startup.

To remedy this, Home Made claims to be a new estate agency operating model, one that is driven by data analytics and technology, with better efficiencies and lower costs. A very familar pitch, you might conclude.

In terms of tech, I’m told the company has developed a proprietary online platform that allows landlords to manage their properties from marketing to move-in. This includes full control during the marketing phase – landlords can add or remove marketing photos on the portals, write or enhance existing descriptions and change the price – and visibility of progress during tenancy progression.

“Together with the support of a dedicated account manager, this provides a level of asset management not currently available in the residential letting sector,” a Home Made spokesperson tells me.

Additional tech is being built to ensure the operations side of Home Made runs smoothly. “Serving landlords throughout London from a single hub is operationally complex, increasing exponentially as property numbers increase,” says the startup. “We overcome this by giving our sales and operations teams access to a bespoke CRM as well as proprietary planning and route optimisation tools, allowing us to provide an outstanding customer experience in a highly efficient way”.

Meanwhile, Home Made says it is on track to make £1 million in revenues in 2018, with over 1,000 properties rented. Another online agency in the space that offers a full letting-introduction service is PurpleBricks, which Home Made expects to pass next month for number of new properties listed in London.



ICO startups band together to create $100M+ grant fund for Ethereum projects

18:00 | 16 February

In a first of its kind, half a dozen ICO companies have come together to collaborate on a new fund that promises to pay out more than $100 million to promising projects in the Ethereum crypto space.

The vehicle — called the Ethereum Community Fund — will be supported by crypto projects Omise Go, Cosmos, Golem, Maker, and Raiden, with Japanese VC Global Brain also in tow. The door is open for other projects and companies to join and the fund size could increase independent of that, too.

These are visible members of the crypto space: among them, OMG’s coin market cap is $1.6 billion, Golem’s is $360 million, and Maker’s is $680 million, according to Coinmarketcap.com, while Raiden and Cosmos are highly-rated from a technical standpoint.

Beyond those projects, the Ethereum Foundation, which controls the Ether token that is the base for the majority of ICO projects, is involved with founder Vitalik Buterin confirmed in an advisory role alongside a number of other industry figures.

The exact scope of the project is not fully clear at this point, but TechCrunch understands that initially more than $100 million in fiat, Ether and other tokens has been pooled for the fund, which is known as ECF. The capital will be deployed via grants — i.e. not in exchange for equity or tokens — that will be awarded to projects, services or business that are seen to “enrich” the Ethereum community.

“This program will be established as a permanent financial endowment to support and aid projects in building crucial open-source infrastructure, tooling, and applications,” reads the fund’s website.

In practical terms, the ‘Infrastructure Grant Program’ is likely to primarily focus on enabling valuable tech on the infrastructure side. For one thing, Ethereum needs to work on increasing its transaction capacity, as Buterin himself has long admitted and is working to improve. There’s also scope for grants to add value in other ways, perhaps with highly-rated technology or projects.

ECF isn’t providing grant details at this point, but sources with knowledge of the plans said grants could range from $50,000-$500,000 in size with the potential for follow-on funding (grants) to enable progress. Even still, that’s a fairly wide berth. We’re only likely to know more once the money begins to be deployed.

“Ethereum has grown beyond my expectations over the last few years, but the work is clearly not finished. Delivering value that matches the hype should be the mantra of 2018; efforts such as the ECF which help organize the development of the ecosystem are going to help to make that possible,” the Ethereum Foundation’s Buterin said in a statement.

The Ethereum Foundation itself has long run a grant program, and last month it announced its own revamped effort to dole out checks of $50,000-$1 million to projects that can help the scaling problem.

There could be more beyond the grants.

The ECF website states that the grant program is a “first step towards supporting the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem,” and we understand that there is the potential for a for-profit investment element to emerge from the organization in the future. (Naming it the Ethereum Community Fund is another hint that it may not just focus on grants.)

As I reported last month, a host of ICO companies are primed to launch investment funds that are aimed at growing their nascent ecosystems and encouraging companies to build on the platforms that they are developing.

Already, we’ve seen Ripple executives taking part in venture capital funding — after backing San Francisco-based Omni — and it stands to reason that the trend will continue given the vast amounts of capital (albeit in crypto tokens) that some of these crypto companies have pulled in via their ICOs. Even with crypto tokens dropping from all-time highs in January, a number of them remain awash with funds and keen to lure developers and other projects to their platforms.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.


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Looks like a nice cycle of a round year;)
Peter Short

AncestryDNA And Google’s Calico Team Up To Study Genetic Longevity
Peter Short
I'm still fascinated by DNA though I favour pure chemistry what could be
Offered is for future gen…
Peter Short

U.K. Push For Better Broadband For Startups
Verg Matthews
There has to an email option icon to send to the clowns in MTNL ... the govt of India's service pro…
Verg Matthews

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

An Interview With Shaquille O’Neal: Businessman, Investor And Video Game Star
Anna K
Shaquilee is a mogul! I see him the Gold bond commercials and think that he's doing something right…
Anna K