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Media giants participate in AI-powered video solution Wibbitz’s $20 million Series-C round

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US-based Wibbitz raised $20 million last week from Germany’s Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, with participation from The Weather Channel, Associated Press, TF1, and existing investors. The latest funding round brought in reputable investors’ support as video emerges to be a key component in digital content.  An eMarketer report estimates that 62% of Internet users view digital videos and the audience viewership reached two billion in 2017. With Wibbitz’s AI-based platform, publishers are able to improve audience engagement and ad monetization. The patented technology utilizes language algorithms that scan text content for a uniquely developed script, which may be combined with customizable video widgets like images, audio, and soundtrack within just minutes. Wibbitz is expecting a 400% year-on-year revenue growth in 2017 and have on-boarded huge clients like Reuters, Forbes, and Time. The funds will be used to expand into new markets, beef up manpower, and strengthen automated video features.

LimeBike dashes off with $50 million investment to ramp up bike-sharing plans

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Following its $12 million Series A round in March, LimeBike announced last week that it has raised another $50 million in Series B funding.  All things seem to be looking bright for the California-based startup.  The company has been posting an average 50% week-over-week growth with 250,000 registered users, 500,000 logged trips, and operations in 20 different markets.  What seems to click for LimeBike is its customized approach of making the dockless bike-sharing system work in the US. Aside from tailoring bike programs for long-term partnerships with its users, LimeBike also actively educates its users on parking ethics with parking incentives to address the lack of parking compliance. As the bike sharing space is becoming very competitive, with China heavyweights Ofo and Mobike now coming to the US, speed and differentiation could serve as a key to success. LimeBike looks at launching in two new US cities each week and aiming to expand overseas in 2018. 

Uber-inspired Lalamove pushes forward with $100 million Series C investment

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Following its $30 million Series B round, Lalamove sealed another $100 million last week with a valuation of almost $1 billion and Unicorn status. The Hongkong-based logistics startup, which sprang from an Uber-like concept back in 2013, seems to not be leaving any page unturned. While focusing on small to medium sized businesses, Lalamove has leveraged its mobile app technology with service order matching, real time delivery tracking, and a customers sharing system to achieve fast, simplified, and reliable fulfillment. Currently, it covers 100 cities in China and Southeast Asia, with 15 million registered users and 2 million drivers. Now, Lalamove looks to expand its reach in Hanoi, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. It’s also keen at doubling the headcount, improving average delivery time, and adding features that promise greater customer engagement. With sharp focus, lean operations, and efficient systems, Lalamove has a chance to establish itself as the leader in Southeast Asia’s logistics industry, which accounts for 15% of the region’s economy.

Amazon’s acquisition of 3D-imaging firm Body Labs takes the ecommerce race further

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Last week, Amazon acquired tech startup Body Labs at an estimated sales price of $50 million to $70 million. The New York-based company, which can generate 3D body model using single image, hails its technology from human-aware AI called SOMA. With its AI-driven software, Body Labs fits well into Amazon’s businesses. The 3D imaging system fits perfectly with apparel in bringing out customized offerings, better size recos, and reduced product returns. When matched with Amazon’s Echo Look, an AI-powered device for capturing style selfies, the 3D body modeling can enhance consumers’ online shopping towards a more personalized experience. As ecommerce outlook remains positive with global online sales seen to balloon to $4.5 trillion by 2021, more consolidating and expansionary moves similar to Amazon’s recent acquisitions may be expected in the offing. Last week also saw other major ecommerce players actively acquiring tech companies, such as Walmart’s acquisition of Parcel, and Flipkart buying eKart and PhonePe.