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Funding Societies, a Southeast Asian lending platform, gets $25M Series B led by Softbank Ventures Korea

Funding Societies co-founders Reynold Wijaya and Kelvin Teo. Funding Societies , a peer-to-peer lending platform in Southeast Asia, said today that it has raised a $25 million Series B led by Softbank Ventures Korea, the Japanese tech conglomerate’s early-stage venture capital unit. The round included returning investors Sequoia India, which led the Singapore-based startup’s Series A two years ago , Golden Gate Ventures and Alpha JWC Ventures, as well as new backers Qualgro and LINE Ventures. Funding Societies also said it has raised credit lines from banks and financial institutions to lend to small- to medium-sized businesses. Founded in 2015 by Kelvin Teo and Reynold Wijaya, the startup’s name represents its “vision of financial inclusion in Southeast Asia.” Its Series B was oversubscribed, says Funding Societies, which operates in Singapore, Indonesia, where it is called Modalku, and Malaysia. When it announced its $7.5 million Series A in August 2016, Funding Societies had disbursed $8.7 million Singaporean dollars, a number that has since grown to $145 million SGD, chief executive officer Teo tells TechCrunch. Since its launch, the startup has increased its lender base to more than 60,000 and now claims a default rate of less than 1.5%, down from about 2% to 3% two years ago, thanks to improvements in its underwriting model. In a press statement, Softbank Ventures Korea partner and managing director Sean Lee said the firm “has been actively investing across Southeast Asia. SME digital lending across Southeast Asia is where we saw huge growth potential. Among many players, we were most impressed with Funding Societies for what it has achieved in a short period of time and its potential to continue to become the number one player.” Though Teo says Funding Societies is “always exploring other markets, there is still tons of work we need to do in our current three markets.” Despite its considerable growth over the past three years, the startup’s mantra is “slow and steady,” a phrase Teo repeated often during our interview. “One of the key things we highlight is that it’s more important for us to grow slowly and steadily instead of fast and recklessly, because it’s a trust-based industry,” says Teo.

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial is reportedly raising billions more at a valuation of at least $100B

Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that looks after the firm’s hugely popular Alipay service, is reportedly gearing up for an enormous funding round that could take its valuation to $100-$150 billion. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ant is in talks to raise upwards of $9 billion at the $100 billion mark, while Bloomberg suggested that Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek is vying to lead a round of $10 billion at a valuation of $150 billion. Either round would make Ant the highest valued unicorn on the planet although it is hard to call the firm a startup considering its reliance and history with Alibaba, which it spun out of seven years ago. Alibaba declined to comment on “market rumors.” The round looks like a pre-IPO raise, with Ant tipped to go public potentially as soon as this year, although exactly where it will list remains unclear. That was the case last year, when the company raised $4.5 billion at a valuation of $60 billion , but a valuation of $100 billion plus would see Ant eclipse financial heavyweights like Goldman Sachs and PayPal. Ant is clearly a global leader based on its China business, where it offers the Alipay mobile payment service, digital banking and other financial services. All told, it claims to reach over 520 million users in China, but it is likely Ant’s overseas expansion plan, mixed with Alibaba’s phenomenal money-making, that is driving its valuation to these new levels. Ant spent 2017 making a series of investments to expand its ecosystem across Asia and beyond. That included a high-profile investment in KakaoPay, the mobile payment service from Korea’s top messenger app, deals across Southeast Asia and the $1.2 billion acquisition of remittance firm MoneyGram which was ultimately aborted after failing to gain U.S . government approval . It also doubled down on India, where it has backed local payment champ Paytm. Ant’s strategy has been simple, find local partners with existing reach who can help it get into the payment and financial services in Southeast Asia and other key markets in Asia. It is still early days for that push but that expansion focus, plus its relationship with Alibaba — which plans to take up an option to buy 33 percent of Ant’s business — appears to be pushing the valuation to these new heights.

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Should AI researchers kill people?

AI research is increasingly being used by militaries around the world for offensive and defensive applications. This past week, groups of AI researchers began to fight back against two separate programs located halfway around the world from each other, generating tough questions about just how much engineers can affect the future uses of these technologies. From Silicon Valley, The New York Times published an internal protest memo written by several thousand Google employees, which vociferously opposed Google’s work on a Defense Department-led initiative called Project Maven, which aims to use computer vision algorithms to analyze vast troves of image and video data . As the department’s news service quoted Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor last year about the initiative: “You don’t buy AI like you buy ammunition,” he added. “There’s a deliberate workflow process and what the department has given us with its rapid acquisition authorities is an opportunity for about 36 months to explore what is governmental and how best to engage industry to advantage the taxpayer and the warfighter, who wants the best algorithms that exist to augment and complement the work he does.” Google’s employees are demanding that the company step back from exactly that sort of partnership, writing in their memo : Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public’s trust. By entering into this contract, Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn’t make this any less risky for Google. Google’s unique history, its motto Don’t Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart. Meanwhile, in South Korea, there is growing outrage over a program to develop offensive robots jointly created by the country’s top engineering university KAIST — the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology — and Korean conglomerate Hanhwa, which among other product lines is one of the largest producers of munitions for the country . Dozens of AI academics around the world have initiated a protest of the collaboration , writing that: At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons. We therefore publicly declare that we will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control

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82Labs raises $8M to create a better hangover recovery drink

While taking some time off to travel before his next gig, Sisun Lee spent a lot of time in Korea — where he found himself drinking alcohol pretty much every night and then getting rolling the next morning, regardless of hangover status. He also found that there were popular local herbal hangover drinks that everyone kept raving about. So he brought a bunch of them back to the U.S., handed them out to friends, and generally got interested in the drink as a thought experiment. After reaching out to scientists in academia about the herbal drinks and finding no one had really commercialized it into a product in the U.S. — and that there might  actually be something behind the idea — he decided to start 82Labs and roll out the Morning Recovery drink. The startup has also raised $8 million in new financing from Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures, Strong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. “My friends would go to work the next day and they would swear by these hangover drinks with an herbal base,” Lee said. “In many ways that was almost when I was first inspired by it. That was at the back of my head. It turned out it was a massive market, it wasn’t one major brand — all the CPG companies had their own brand. It’s like the energy drink market.

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82Labs raises $8M to create a better hangover recovery drink

While taking some time off to travel before his next gig, Sisun Lee spent a lot of time in Korea — where he found himself drinking alcohol pretty much every night and then getting rolling the next morning, regardless of hangover status. He also found that there were popular local herbal hangover drinks that everyone kept raving about. So he brought a bunch of them back to the U.S., handed them out to friends, and generally got interested in the drink as a thought experiment. After reaching out to scientists in academia about the herbal drinks and finding no one had really commercialized it into a product in the U.S. — and that there might  actually be something behind the idea — he decided to start 82Labs and roll out the Morning Recovery drink. The startup has also raised $8 million in new financing from Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures, Strong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. “My friends would go to work the next day and they would swear by these hangover drinks with an herbal base,” Lee said. “In many ways that was almost when I was first inspired by it. That was at the back of my head. It turned out it was a massive market, it wasn’t one major brand — all the CPG companies had their own brand. It’s like the energy drink market. I did some research, and people in academia might be really passionate about something, and give you this conviction that this is the next big thing, but they wouldn’t commercialize it. They didn’t know how to get going.” The drink is based on a flavonoid component of popular herbal medicines called DHM. The original concept for the drink was also based on research on DHM from USC, where Lee had gotten in touch with the scientists working on it to see if the idea was actually worth pursuing.

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82Labs raises $8M to create a better hangover recovery drink

While taking some time off to travel before his next gig, Sisun Lee spent a lot of time in Korea — where he found himself drinking alcohol pretty much every night and then getting rolling the next morning, regardless of hangover status. He also found that there were popular local herbal hangover drinks that everyone kept raving about. So he brought a bunch of them back to the U.S., handed them out to friends, and generally got interested in the drink as a thought experiment. After reaching out to scientists in academia about the herbal drinks and finding no one had really commercialized it into a product in the U.S. — and that there might  actually be something behind the idea — he decided to start 82Labs and roll out the Morning Recovery drink. The startup has also raised $8 million in new financing from Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures, Strong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. “My friends would go to work the next day and they would swear by these hangover drinks with an herbal base,” Lee said. “In many ways that was almost when I was first inspired by it. That was at the back of my head. It turned out it was a massive market, it wasn’t one major brand — all the CPG companies had their own brand.

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82Labs raises $8M to create a better hangover recovery drink

While taking some time off to travel before his next gig, Sisun Lee spent a lot of time in Korea — where he found himself drinking alcohol pretty much every night and then getting rolling the next morning, regardless of hangover status. He also found that there were popular local herbal hangover drinks that everyone kept raving about. So he brought a bunch of them back to the U.S., handed them out to friends, and generally got interested in the drink as a thought experiment. After reaching out to scientists in academia about the herbal drinks and finding no one had really commercialized it into a product in the U.S. — and that there might  actually be something behind the idea — he decided to start 82Labs and roll out the Morning Recovery drink. The startup has also raised $8 million in new financing from Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures, Strong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. “My friends would go to work the next day and they would swear by these hangover drinks with an herbal base,” Lee said. “In many ways that was almost when I was first inspired by it. That was at the back of my head. It turned out it was a massive market, it wasn’t one major brand — all the CPG companies had their own brand. It’s like the energy drink market.

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ VS iPhone X In Speed Test – Ubergizmo

Samsung Galaxy S9+ VS iPhone X In Speed Test Ubergizmo Subscribe to Ubergizmo on Youtube. Now that the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ have been launched, we're sure many are wondering if Samsung's latest flagship smartphone has what it takes to beat their rival, Apple and the iPhone X. For those wondering about ... and more »

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