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Larry Ellison just spent an hour trashing Amazon's $10 billion cloud

Larry Ellison used most of his hour-long keynote session slot at this week's Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco to trash Amazon and its $10 billion Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. Amazon has emerged as an unlikely rival to Oracle, poaching loads of database customers over to Amazon Web Services. Today, Ellison fired back by detailing in great depth all the ways in which the upgraded, "second generation" Oracle Cloud, announced this week, purportedly beats Amazon Web Services. [ Business Insider ]

China Seeks to Boost Venture Capital With New Guidelines

China’s State Council has published fresh guidelines for government agencies aimed at boosting the venture capital sector across the country, while seeking to prevent investment bubbles and illegal fundraising. Institutional investors, incubators and angel investors are all welcomed so long as investors are protected, the agency said in a statement Wednesday. VC exit channels will be expanded using better regulations across jurisdictions, the agency said. “Venture capital is an important method of improving the investment structures and increasing effective investment,” the state council said, adding that it wants to “promote China’s venture capital industry to among the world’s advanced levels.”
[ Bloomberg ]

Kickstarter is breaking down assumptions about where innovation can occur

The few who still think Kickstarter can replace venture capital need not look further than a new report from Polygraph to see just how separate the world of crowdfunding is from traditional early-stage finance.While it’s easy to point to products like the Pebble Smart Watch as a sign that crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are gaining ground against traditional institutional financiers and angels, the reality is that the vast majority of projects were never in the sights of Sand Hill Road. Rather, Kickstarter is illustrating that all it takes to sustain innovation outside of Silicon Valley is the right incentives.

Across the entire United States, technology products and services make up only 3.7 percent of all Kickstarter projects. For contrast, 43 percent of projects are categorized as film or music endeavors. Not only is tech underrepresented for the country overall on the platform, it’s underrepresented in the cradle of innovation — Silicon Valley. Instead of leading by a mile, as it regularly does in venture capital, the region is neck and neck with a handful of other cities. [ Tech Crunch ]

Exclusive: Airbnb, P&G, and Unilever Are Partnering With the Clinton Foundation to Invest Over $70m in Women

The Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings initiative is launching a multi-pronged effort to invest in women, address violence against women and girls, and promote female leadership with a coalition of major companies, including Airbnb, Unilever, Sodexo, Dermalogica, and Avon. The approach, announced Tuesday by Chelsea Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York, enlists more than 20 partners from the corporate and nonprofit worlds to address the gaps in women’s economic progress, which were laid out in the No Ceilings Full Participation Report last year, and to work toward the gender equality targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The new commitment called “Girls, Women and the Global Goals” is expected to invest more than $70 million. [ Fortune ] 

President Barack Obama makes his case for self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are here, whether we’re ready or not. President Barack Obama released an op-ed trying to assure the public we will be prepared. "The quickest way to slam the brakes on innovation is for the public to lose confidence in the safety of new technologies," Obama wrote in a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where Uber deployed a fleet of self-driving a cars in August — albeit with an Uber engineer in each car — to test its new technology on a commercial platform. Obama continued, announcing the US Department of Transportation’s new policy overview for autonomous vehicles:

Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn’t an option. Automated vehicles could change their lives. …

That’s why my administration is rolling out new rules of the road for automated vehicles – guidance that the manufacturers developing self-driving cars should follow to keep us safe. And we’re asking them to sign a 15-point safety checklist showing not just the government, but every interested American, how they’re doing it.

The DOT’s comprehensive policy overview on self-driving cars, released Tuesday, presents safety guidelines for self-driving car manufacturers — from data recording to crashworthiness and cybersecurity — in addition to distinguishing federal and state government responsibilities and outlining the existing and possibly new regulatory tools necessary to monitor self-driving cars. [ VOX ]


Doppler Labs And The Quest To Build A Computer For Your Ears 

I’m trying to listen as Doppler Labs cofounder and CEO Noah Kraft walks me through his company’s new smart earbuds over the din of a crowded restaurant, but the cacophony of chattering diners and clanking silverware is overwhelming. I can’t make out a word. Then, all of a sudden, the background noise disappears. Kraft’s voice comes in loud and clear. It feels a little magical—even though we’re not actually at a restaurant. I’ve been getting a demonstration at Doppler’s San Francisco headquarters, and all of that background noise was a simulation, pumped into my ears—and then muted—via a cobbled-together tangle of earphones, microphones, circuitry, and other components that are strapped to my head and draped around my neck. (Wearing the contraption, I look a little like Frankenstein, Kraft cheerfully informs me.) [ Fast Company ]

Silicon Valley VCs Pay the Highest Rent in the U.S.

Aydin Senkut started his venture capital firm Felicis Ventures in San Francisco a decade ago. Five funds and more than $430 million later, Senkut is ready to open an office on Sand Hill Road, alongside such Silicon Valley institutions as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. But he’s going to have to pay up.Located in Facebook Inc.’s hometown of Menlo Park, California, Sand Hill Road has the most expensive office space in the U.S., even as the startup market moderates, according to data from commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. At an average of $129.91 per square foot annually, it’s up about $6 from last year and exceeds the cost of renting high-end offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and on New York’s Park Avenue. It is also far more than the $75.39 for comparable space in San Francisco’s south Financial District, which saw a price increase over the last year similar to its neighbor in the Valley, said Robert Sammons, a regional director at Cushman & Wakefield.
[ Bloomberg ]


Fauna, Inc., Raises $4.5M In Funding To Bring Industry's First Adaptive Operational Database To Market

Fauna, Inc., a startup building the next-generation adaptive operational database, today announced the close of $4.5M in Series Seed funding. The oversubscribed round was led by Charles River Ventures, with participation from existing investors Data Collective, Quest VP, the Webb Investment Network, and Ulu Ventures. A number of angel investors, including industry pioneers Scott McNealy, founder of SUN Microsystems, and Olivier Pomel, founder of DataDog, also joined the round. Founded in 2012 by early Twitter engineers, Fauna has developed the first adaptive operational database. FaunaDB lets digital businesses comprehensively address the requirements of modern applications, without sacrificing agility. It combines global distribution with an innovative multi-tenant architecture that allocates resource consumption by business priority. With a secure, developer-friendly query language and forthcoming ACID-compliant strong consistency, FaunaDB enables IT organizations to achieve a balance between operational efficiency and ease of developing modern, business-critical applications.
[ PR Newswire ]

China's Tesla killer just raised $1 billion for its electric car project — here's everything we know about it

Chinese company LeEco is making serious moves to compete with Tesla.LeEco just raised $1.08 billion to develop its electric car, Bloomberg reported. The news comes about a month after LeEco invested $1.8 billion to build an electric-car plant in eastern China with eventual annual production capacity of 400,000 cars.The company originally revealed its electric concept car, called the LeSee, in April. [ Business Insider ]


Professional services marketplace StarOfService raises $10 million

StarOfService, a French startup that offers a marketplace for local services, has closed a $10 million Series A round led by Andrea Piccioni and Silvio Pagliani — cofounders of Real Web SA and founders of, ENERN Investments, and Point Nine Capital — with participation from a number of angel investors. Founded out of Paris in 2012, StarOfService connects professional service providers with buyers and includes everything from plumbing and tutoring to photography. The platform is currently operational in a number of markets, including France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the U.K., Poland, Canada, and India. Prior to its latest cash injection, StarOfService had raised around $2 million across two seed rounds, but now it will look to expand its platform globally. [ Venture Beat ]

Vroom Brings In $50 Million to Expand Its Online Used-Car Business

Vroom, an online used-car sales startup, has raised $50 million in its latest funding round as the company prepares to push into new markets, as well as expand inventory and staff. The Series E round included new investors Altimeter Capital and Foxhaven Asset Management. Previous investors L Catterton, General Catalyst Partners, Allen & Co., and T. Rowe Price Associates also participated. Vroom has raised a total of $218 million since it was founded in 2013. [ Fortune ]


Vlocity Raises $50 Million in Funding

 Vlocity Inc., a leading industry cloud company, today announced that it raised $50 million in a funding round led by Sutter Hill Ventures. The round includes participation from strategic investors including Salesforce Ventures, Accenture, New York Life, Kennet Partners, TDF Ventures, and Wildcat Venture Partners. Tweet this: .@vlocity Raises $50 Million from @shv & @SalesforceVC. Get the details: #IndustryCloud Vlocity empowers companies to deliver unified, industry-specific customer experiences in customer-centric industries, including Communications and Media, Insurance, Health Insurance and the Public Sector. Leading customers deploying Vlocity industry cloud applications include Sky Italia, Cellcom, Fastweb, New York Life and the City of Toronto. [ Market Wired ]


French online restaurant FoodChéri raises €6M Series A

French food delivery startup FoodChéri, which operates an online only restaurant along the lines of EatFirst in the UK or Munchery’s original model in the US, has raised €6 million in Series A funding led by 360 Capital Partners, and Breega Capital.Spanish VC Samaipata Ventures (a fund managed by the founders of online takeout ordering marketplace La Nevera Roja) also participated, along with food and beverage “growth fund” Ambrosia Investments. Also noteworthy is that Samaipata Ventures is alreadyan investor in Jinn, the Europe same-hour delivery startup, which counts food delivery as one of its most popular categories. [ Tech Crunch ]



Etsy buys Blackbird Technologies to bring AI to its search

It’s not just gigantic search engines that are looking to acquire tech and talent around emerging areas like speech recognition. Even design and craft marketplaces can use a little machine learning and artificial intelligence to make their wheels turn a little better. Today, the popular handmade-goods site Etsy announced it has acquired a startup calledBlackbird Technologies, which developed algorithms for natural language processing, image recognition and analytics — similar to those used by Amazon and Google for product and other searches — and then “democratized” them to be used by any company of any size. At Etsy, the tech will be used to improve its own search features.
[ Tech Crunch ]


Spectrum 28 Closes First $170 Million Fund

Veteran investors from Harbor Pacific Capital LLC and Lightspeed Venture Partners have teamed up to launch a new venture firm called Spectrum 28 Capital LLC. Spectrum 28 on Tuesday said it closed a $170 million fund, which will focus on finance, genomics, digital health, real estate and construction. Founders Kent Ho and Lyon Wongsaid the firm has differentiated itself from others by selectively raising funding from limited partners with connections in these sectors that could benefit its portfolio-company founders. [ WSJ ]


Dundee Venture Capital raises $20M to fund startups across the Midwest

A venture fund in the Midwest just closed a $20 million round in hopes of fueling the region’s burgeoning tech ecosystems. Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital announced its Fund III on Tuesday, which will be used to bolster seed and early-stage tech companies in the e-commerce, B2B SaaS and consumer network industries. Dundee also announced a new strategic partnership with Chicago’sLakewest Venture Partners to help extend the potential reach and value of the fund. As part of the partnership, Lakewest co-founder and principal David Mann has joined Dundee as a partner.
[ Built in Chicago ]

Venture Pulse

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