Why 2021 was a breakout year for Latin America’s VC ecosystem

In 2018, Marcelo Claure, COO of SoftBank Group and a native of Bolivia, realized something peculiar. The Vision Fund, SoftBank’s nearly $100 billion vehicle, was making investments in China, Southeast Asia and India, but there were no Latin America-based companies in the Japanese conglomerate’s portfolio.

“We were puzzled,” said Shu Nyatta, a managing partner at SoftBank who now co-leads the Latin America Fund. “Latin America has a population of 650 million people. It’s the same size, but twice the GDP of Southeast Asia, but the Southeast Asia venture ecosystem was light-years ahead then.”

‘Vague and weak’ policies mean Scotland could miss emission targets

There is an “acute risk” that Scotland will miss its targets to heavily cut carbon emissions because government policies are too vague and weak, an influential advisory body has warned.

The Climate Change Committee, which advises all the UK’s governments on climate policies, said the Scottish government was currently unable to prove how it would hit its ambitious promise to cut CO2 emissions by 75% by the end of the decade.

In an unusually critical statement, Lord Deben, the CCC’s chair, said “the credibility of the Scottish climate framework is in jeopardy.”

Revealed: Current Health was sold for $400m

Scottish health technology company Current Health was sold last month for $400 million, it has been revealed.

Financial terms were not disclosed when the sale to US-based consumer electronics retailer Best Buy was announced in mid-October.

The size of the deal, which emerged yesterday in an earnings call, makes it one of the biggest exits of a Scottish startup in recent times and Europe’s second-largest digital health exit.

It will represent a big payday for founders Chris McCann and Stewart Whiting who set up the care-at-home technology platform in 2015. Edinburgh-based angel syndicate Par Equity can also expect a huge return after it invested in the business over six rounds.

ASU student startup AirGarage gets $12.5M from venture capitalists

AirGarage, the company born out of parking frustration by three Arizona State University students, just received a $12.5 million infusion of cash from Silicon Valley investors.

Their plans for the money?

Keep building the best possible parking operator in the world.

“How do we keep making ourselves an obvious option for any real estate owners that own parking lots or parking garages to work with us versus sort of the old-school default — competitors of ours?” said co-founder and CEO Jonathon Barkl. “A lot of that entails growing our team and continuing to develop our product and our service to improve it and make sure that it’s the best possible option out there for everyone.”

LaunchNevada student startup awards

Amount: Up to $500 Awards 

Who qualifies: Any full-time UNR student / student team with a business concept. In their application, the student / team must explain the proposed use(s) for the expenditure to advance their business concept. Business concept must include, at a minimum: 

  1. description of product and/or service, 
  2. value proposition, 
  3. description of product-market fit, and 
  4. estimate of the size of the potential market. 

Women working from home risk being caught in a ‘she-cession’

Women who work mostly from home risk hurting their careers and getting caught in a “she-cession” as more men return to office working post-pandemic, a Bank of England policymaker has warned.

Catherine Mann, a member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, said that virtual working methods, such as video conferencing, were unable to replicate spontaneous office conversations that are important to career advancement.

“Virtual platforms are way better than they were even five years ago,” Mann said, speaking at an event for women in finance hosted by the newspaper Financial News. “But the extemporaneous, spontaneity – those are hard to replicate in a virtual setting.”

Women aren’t returning to work to the same extent as men, and when they are working, they are more likely to be working from home. Issues include difficulty accessing childcare, and disruption to schooling because of the pandemic has led to more women continuing to work remotely.

“There is the potential for two tracks,” she said. “There’s the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on the physical track. And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately.”

Vincent Keaveny, the lord mayor of London, said that increasing numbers of City staff were returning to the office in the UK’s financial centre.

“The City is coming back to life,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “It is a really important thing for younger members of the sector to get the training they need, the creativity, the collegiality that the office brings.”

Apple’s Tim Cook admits investing in crypto assets

The boss of Apple has revealed that he has invested in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin but that the iPhone maker will not be following suit.

Tim Cook, chief executive of the technology group, told an industry event that he had been interested in digital coins “for a while”.

Cook believes that bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, and ethereum, the second, are “reasonable to own” as part of a diversified investment portfolio, he told the online DealBook conference, organised by The New York Times, adding: “I’m not giving anyone investment advice, by the way.”

However, Apple is unlikely to do the same because Cook said that its shareholders were not interested in using their investment to gain direct exposure to such digital coins. “I wouldn’t go invest in crypto, not because I wouldn’t invest my own money but because I don’t think people buy Apple stock to get exposure to crypto,” he said.

Northern Gritstone on track to raising £500m fund for northern universities

Fund has found backing for its first £100m with another £300m in discussion, enabling it to back two dozen northern university spinouts a year

Northern Gritstone, the spinout fund created for northern university science innovation, is well on its way to raising £500m.

The fund, which was only launched in September, has already had £100m pledged by pension and life assurance funds, with another £300m to close soon.

If it hits its half-billion-pound target, Northern Gritstone plans to back 100 science spinouts and spin-ins from and to the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Spotify expands into audiobooks with acquisition of Findaway

In an effort to expand beyond music, Spotify has been investing hundreds of millions to build out its podcasts business. Now the company has set its sights on another form of audio, with today’s acquisition of digital audiobook distributor Findaway.

Spotify declined to share the financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory review and approval.

Founded in 2004, Findaway’s core focus has been on bringing more audiobooks to listeners worldwide.

Is the President of Honduras a Narco-Trafficker?

Outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, in lower Manhattan, police stood watchfully behind yellow “Do Not Cross” tape. An agitated crowd had gathered: people chanting, jostling, shouting into megaphones. Some waved blue-and-white Honduran flags. Others held up signs in English and Spanish: “No Clemency for Narcopolitics.”

It was March 30, 2021: sentencing day for Juan Antonio (Tony) Hernández, a former Honduran congressman who had been arrested in Miami in 2018, on suspicion of drug trafficking. After a trial in the Southern District of New York, Hernández had been found guilty of taking part in the smuggling of at least a hundred and eighty-five thousand kilos of cocaine into the U.S.—enough to supply five doses to everyone living in America.