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A $500m tech fund, Google I/O, WannaCry and more in The Week in Tech

The Week in Tech
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Welcome to The Week in Tech, your roundup of the week’s top technology news. This week, we have new tech funds totalling $1.72bn, product announcements from Google, the WannaCry ransomware and more.

Investment news

Appear Here’s $12m

Appear Here, an online marketplace for short-term retail space, raised $12m in Series B funding.

The round was led by Octopus Ventures and drew support from Simon Venture Group, alongside existing backers Balderton Capital, MMC Ventures, Meyer Bergman and Playfair Capital.

Meet Angelica Anton, the ex-NASA, Oxford graduate who now heads up a $500m tech fund

The funding announcement, which follows the firm’s expansion to the US, brings Appear Here’s total raised to date to $21.4m.

YOPA’s £15m

London-based PropTech firm YOPA raised £15m in Series B funding.

The round was led by the Daily Mail and General Trust Plc and comes after the company closed a £16m Series A last year. Grosvenor Hill Ventures, Savills’ investment arm, also participated in the round.

Vivacity Labs’ £1.6m

Vivacity Labs raised £1.6m in funding from Downing Ventures, the London Co-Investment Fund and Tracsis.

The startup, which is working on developing an AI camera to eventually facilitate the regulation of traffic in real-time and seeking to pave the way for driverless cars, also received a £.17m project grant from Innovate UK.

As part of its VivaMK project, London-based Vivacity Labs will deploy 2,500 of its sensors across a 50-square-mile radius in Milton Keynes, in an attempt to monitor all major junction points and car parking spaces.

SoftBank adds $1bn to $100bn tech fund

Japanese technology giant SoftBank topped up its $100bn tech fund with an additional $1bn.

According to the FT, the additional funds were contributed by Japanese firm Sharp.

“Sharp decided to participate in the fund because … it expects to capture an opportunity to learn about the internet of things space, which will in turn enable Sharp to accelerate its business expansion as an IoT company,” Sharp said in a statement.

SILK Ventures’ $500m tech fund

UK-based SILK Ventures raised a $500m fund to invest in tech companies in Europe and the US.

The fund will provide investment to firms from Series A upwards in all tech verticals, but will have a key focus on those specialising in deep tech (AI, Robotics, Internet of Things) FinTech, deep science and HealthTech.

Some 50% of the fund has been provided by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) – a special commission of the People’s Republic of China. The SASAC will act as limited partner and strategic partner to the fund.

Notion Capital’s $220m for tech firms

London-based venture capital firm Notion Capital raised two new funds, which it will use to invest in tech companies.

The firm’s new $80m (£60m) growth equity fund is called Notion Capital Opportunities LP, and will provide later-stage follow-on capital to its portfolio companies.

Its third venture fund, Notion Capital III LP, closed at $140m and will focus on European enterprise SaaS and Cloud companies at Series A stage.

WannaCry ransomware

Companies were still feeling the impact of a strain of ransomware that tore around the globe infecting more than 120,000 computers. Called WannaCry, the ransomware encrypted files on people’s computers before demanding a ransom for the files to be decrypted.

A cybersecurity researcher, who asked to remain anonymous, but who was outed by the mainstream UK press, found a way to stop the malicious software spreading.

Check out this advice on how to make sure you and your colleagues don’t fall foul of such malicious software in the future.

Lyft and Google’s sister taker on Uber

Ride-hailing service Lyft, and Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company, have launched a self-driving vehicle partnership, to rival the activity of Uber in this area.

“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement.

Waymo is currently embroiled in a lawsuit that claims Uber is using stolen Waymo trade secrets to develop driverless-car technology.

Google unveils new projects

At the Google I/O annual developer conference, Google showed off practical applications of AI and machine learning. Most notable: Google Lens. The app uses image recognition to identify the objects you point your camera lens at. Point a smartphone at a flower and the app will tell you what kind it is. The folk over at UK augmented reality company Blippar had better watch out (their platform does exactly this).

It was also announced that new Samsung Galaxy smartphones will work with Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform and headset. Previously, Samsung devices worked only with Gear VR, a headset that ran Facebook’s Oculus VR.

Google for Jobs is in the pipeline, too, using machine learning to help people find jobs, and make it easier for companies to find talent.

Download of the Week

Our Download of the Week is Wisher, an app that aims to prevent people receiving unwanted gifts.

It enables users to select something they’d like to receive – be it an object, like a new pair of shoes; or an experience, like a diving lesson – then their friends and family members can contribute cash towards this gift.

And finally

In the latest in unattractive wearables, a startup in New York has created a breathing mask that filters out air-pollution.

The reusable clear plastic mask allows people to see the wearer’s face, and can record air quality data and collect it for analysis. The hope is that this data could help researchers develop ways to better protect people from air pollution.

A great idea, but I have a feeling it’s going to go the same way as Google Glass.

That’s all for this week’s roundup. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more tech updates.

 

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