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Tag Archives: middle-east

Get your tickets to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018

Calling all entrepreneurs, techies, aspiring startup founders and anyone else who loves the thrill and excitement that comes from seeing innovative startups compete head-to-head. TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 , our premier startup pitch competition, takes place October 3 in Beirut, Lebanon. Come and watch as 15 of the region’s top early-stage startup founders vie for the title of the Middle East and North Africa’s best startup. Tickets to this event — our first in this part of the world — cost $29 (including VAT), and you can buy your tickets right here . If you’ve never seen one of our Startup Battlefield competitions, this the perfect opportunity to learn what it’s all about and experience it up close and personal. Who knows? It might even inspire you to apply for the next Startup Battlefield. Here’s what you can expect to see onstage. During three preliminary rounds, 15 teams — five startups per round — have only six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of expert technologists and VC investors. After each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with tough questions. Thanks to the free pitch coaching they received from TechCrunch editors, the founders will be ready to handle anything that comes their way. Next, the judges confer, thin the herd and allow only five teams to move on to the next round — a new panel of judges, another pitch and more Q&A.

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A private Tesla backed by Saudi Arabia might not be as far-fetched as you think

This week the business and tech world was stunned when Elon Musk hinted on August 7, via Twitter of course, that he wanted to take Tesla private. The estimated price tag for such a move is commonly put at up to $72 billion. Shortly after that no ‘ white knights ’ appeared and Tesla’s shares plummeted. But today, Bloomberg came out with a new report which might well fan the flames of speculation on Monday. Its story has sources which say that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund (called the Public Investment Fund or PIF) was already in talks with Tesla to become a significant investor before Musk’s tweets. The timing of this revelation is important, because the PIF has already built up a stake — valued at about $2 billion — just short of 5 percent in Tesla in recent months. One could easily surmise that the world’s biggest crude oil producer might well be considering a stake in the world’s most iconic electric car company to hedge against oil. Indeed, that is exactly what Bloomberg’s sources are telling them. Now, part of the reasons the PIF might be talking to Tesla is that the car maker is alleged to have already had limited talks with SoftBank, of which PIF is a major baker. What makes these rumours so interesting is that Saudi Arabia’s government is planning to supercharge the PIF into a $2 trillion fund. And a major (let me repeat that) major focus of the PIF is technology. Why? The Saudis are extremely keen to diversify the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy and it needs a war-chest and technology assets to do that. This policy is being driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the next in line to the thrown and dubbed ‘MBS’ by everyone in Saudi. Since he was named heir-apparent last year he’s been on a tear, restricting the powers of the religious police, removing the ban on female drivers and various other cultural reforms

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