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Australian Ethical backs Right Click Capital’s new fund

Commentary

Amidst growing calls for superannuation/pension funds to accelerate their exposure to the venture capital sector, Australia’s biggest ethical fund, Australian Ethical has recently ventured into the tech startup arena by investing in a major new fund from Right Click Capital. The institutional fund manager has $1.7 billion in funds under management and more than 30,000 investors. David Macri, Australian Ethical’s chief investment officer said, “we are excited to be able to partner with Right Click Capital. During our due diligence process we were extremely impressed with their data-driven approach and the vast global networks at their disposal. We look forward to developing this partnership and are proud to support the growing innovation industry as our ‘old-economy’ evolves.” Right Click Capital partner Benjamin Chong said the key to success in this sector is to invest selectively in early stage companies that exhibit the characteristics proven in Australia and globally to correlate with successful investor outcomes. The investment signals that Australian superannuation/pension funds have started to warm to the local venture capital sector.

Ford to invest $1 billion in Argo AI

Commentary

In a bid to catch up with rivals in the self-driving car race, Ford is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, a Pennsylvania-based startup specialising in robotics and artificial intelligence. Founded by two top engineers from Google and Uber, Argo AI will work to develop a virtual driver software platform for Ford’s fully autonomous vehicles which are scheduled to be launched in 2021. The deal is Ford’s largest investment in autonomous technology, which includes its recent acquisition of Chariot for less than $1 billion as well as a multi-million investment in Velodyne. The deal follows General Motors’ purchase of Cruise Automation, a startup developing self-driving cars and Uber’s acquisition of Otto, another self-driving startup focused on trucks.

Uptake raises $40 million at $2 billion valuation

Commentary

Chicago-based tech unicorn Uptake just raised $40 million from Revolution Growth, catapulting its valuation from $1.1 billion in 2015 to a whopping $2 billion, a rare feat for a startup not founded in the “Land of Unicorns”, aka Silicon Valley. Uptake, a software company focusing on “Outcomes as a Service”, uses predictive analysis and machine learning to solve problems for the world’s leading industries, from mining, aviation, rail, construction, agriculture, energy to retail. Using sensors, Uptake collects data from these companies and gives them real-time insights to help them improve uptime, streamline operations and identify threats as well as opportunities for growth.

Cisco acquires AppDynamics for $3.7 billion

Commentary

Just a day before its much-awaited IPO, AppDynamics, the San Francisco-based application performance management company, has called off its plans to go public in favour of being acquired by Cisco for $3.7 billion at a $3.9 billion valuation. According to analysts, the exit is a fantastic deal for AppDynamics since the IPO would have valued the company at under $2 billion. For Cisco, the acquisition is part of its strategic push to shift from traditional networking hardware to software and services. The deal is Cisco’s biggest acquisition following its purchase of Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion in 2015 and Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.