(Fred Hutch Photo / Robert Hood) A public-private partnership called Operation Warp Speed is aiming to get multiple vaccines approved by the end of the year to protect against COVID-19 — but two veterans of the vaccine development process say there’s a long road ahead, with no wormholes in sight to reduce the travel time. Such treatments should work hand-in-glove with vaccine development programs, to ensure that even if a vaccine doesn’t work, there’ll be ways to help the participants in clinical trials fight off the infection. “Part of the system that has to be developed is not just to evaluate the vaccine, but essentially shorten the time to manufacturing and definitely shorten the time to distribution.” It’s way too early to determine how the vaccination process will work, or whether people will have to get a yearly shot, as is the case with flu vaccines.
In one of the biggest funding rounds this week, Reliance Jio continued its funding spree with new funding announcements from existing investor private equity firm Silver Lake and Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala). DocsApp: $10.5 Mn BankBazaar: $6 Mn WoodenStreet: $3 Mn Crofarm: $1 Mn Timios: Undisclosed Axys: Undisclosed Vahak: Undisclosed Credgenics: Undisclosed Jaipur-based online custom furniture platform WoodenStreet raised $3 Mn in Series A funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN) fund and Rajasthan Venture Capital Funds (RVCF).
The company first announced that Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, will invest INR 9,093.60 Cr in Jio Platforms for a 1.85% equity stake. With INR 4546.80 Cr committed in its latest round, the total funding from Silver Lake Partners in Reliance Jio Platforms reached INR 10,202.55 Cr, with the private equity firm bagging 2.08% stake in Jio Platforms. Zomato Market will continue to operate and service users who need on-demand delivery of essentials.” Ola Pledges Funds For Safety Initiative Further, cab-hailing company Ola has committed INR 500 Cr over the next year towards various initiatives globally, to enhance safety in mobility amid Covid-19.
With this investment, Silver Lake’s investment in Jio Platforms has increased to INR 10,202.55 Cr, acquiring a 2.08% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis. Earlier in the day, RIL had announced that Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, will invest INR 9,093.60 Cr in Jio Platforms for a 1.85% equity stake. Jio Platforms is RIL’s umbrella company which brings platforms like Reliance Jio, Jio Fiber, MyJio, JioTV, JioCinema, Jio Mart JioNews and JioSaavn under one banner.
(LinkedIn Photo) LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky — just days into his new role — apologized to staff after employees made offensive comments during a town hall event. More than 9,000 employees from across the globe participated, including some who used an anonymous question feature to make what Roslansky described as “appalling comments.” The Daily Beast reported that the comments questioned the protests and called out LinkedIn’s diversity hiring initiatives. “I said it in the Company Group yesterday, and I will say it again, we are not and will not be a company or platform where racism or hateful speech is allowed.” Roslansky said the company will track comments in real-time more closely for future events.
The suits allege that companies in Georgia, Michigan and Texas wrongly used Amazon’s branding in spam campaigns designed to sendtraffic to fake Amazon-branded surveys run by online marketers. The company filed a similar lawsuit last year against an Illinois-based affiliate marketing company, First Impression Interactive, and won prohibitions against use of the Amazon brand by that company. Separately, Amazon says it has stopped a series of fake Amazon-branded email campaigns from companies and people in Colorado and California, with the people involved agreeing to stop using the company’s trademarks or brands The affiliate marketing schemes are different than recent phishing scams that caught police attention last month, using purported Amazon branding to trick recipients into divulging personal information.
(Observa Photo) Observa, a Seattle-based startup that uses AI to provide analytics on brick-and-mortar sales, has closed a $725,000 financing round. The funding comes from some well-known investors, including longtime entrepreneur Paul Mikesell, a co-founder of Isilon Systems, which was acquired by EMC for $2.25 billion; Bill Bryant, a general partner at Threshold Ventures whose involvement with startups include Remitly, Chef, Qpass and Visio; and angel investor Drew Bradley. “Prior to Observa, brands have had had no way to measure the real-time sales impact of the $70 billion spent in in-store promotion and merchandising.” Observa was featured in GeekWire’s Startup Spotlight after winning first place at the Bend Venure Conference in October.
(NASA Illustration) The bad news is that an asteroid of city-killing proportions is heading in our direction, but the good news is that it’ll miss us on Saturday night by 3.2 million miles. The asteroid has been described as being as big as the Empire State Building, but Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait points out that one study estimates it as being even larger, with a diameter of 735 meters (2,400 feet). That’s why NASA and other space agencies are planning missions such as Hera and the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, to see what it would take to divert a threatening asteroid.
Earlier this week, TechCrunch covered a grip of earnings reports showing that some companies helping other businesses move to modern software solutions are seeing accelerated growth. “The way that we think about digital transformation is that much of the world has a whole bunch of processes and ways of working — ways of communicating and ways of collaborating where if those business processes or that way we worked were able to be done in digital forms or in the cloud, you’d actually be more productive, more secure and you’d be able to serve your customers better. Earnings results Lots of SaaS companies reported earnings this week, but two sets of returns stuck out as we reviewed the results, those from Slack and Smartsheet.