VBT Newsletter

September 20th

Good morning!

This Monday edition of the newsletter is featuring:

  • SoftBank is nearing a major office deal in Miami

  • A Miami tech crypto startup raised a Series A round

  • MINI unveiled a new WebGL-powered digital product

  • SpaceX sent four civilians into space on the first private flight

  • And AI’s negative effects can no longer be ignored

It’s September 20, 2021.

1. #MiamiTech

SoftBank nears a major office deal in Miami in the latest boost for the city's bid to become the 'Silicon Valley of the South' (Insider)

SoftBank is closing in on new office space in Miami in a deal that could give lift to the city's efforts to grow itself into a destination for the tech sector. The company is in talks to lease space at a new-development office property in Wynwood, according to people with knowledge of the deal.

The people said SoftBank was negotiating to become an anchor tenant at a 2.9-acre development site at 95 Northwest 29th St. According to public information, it will include about 200,000 square feet of offices, along with over 500 residential apartments, retail space, and parking.

The deal, if it gets done, would follow other recent leasing transactions that have bolstered the Miami office market and made the city a center point for migration by tech and finance firms, as well as tenants in other industries.

2. #MiamiTech

Crypto data startup Amberdata raises $15M Series A led by Citi (Refresh Miami)

Amberdata, a cryptocurrency data startup, has raised a $15 million Series A led by Citi. The funds will help go toward doubling the company’s headcount and expansion nationally and internationally. Amberdata analyzes over 8 million blockchain network transactions and more than $500 billion in trading activities daily.

“We are a digital assets data company powering the institutional adoption of cryptocurrency,” said Shawn Douglass, CEO and co-founder of Amberdata, who works out of The LAB Miami in Wynwood. “Partnering with the exceptional group of strategic investors gives us unprecedented insights into institutions’ roadmap and challenges.”

Founded in 2017, Amberdata delivers comprehensive data and insights into blockchain networks, crypto markets, and decentralized finance. The platform provides financial institutions with data for research, trading, risk, analytics, reporting, and compliance, according to the company. 

Franklin Templeton, Galaxy Digital, Rovida Kruptos Assets, and executives at GoldenTree Asset Management, and existing investor WEVP participated in Amerdata’s capital raise. In total, the startup has raised $17 million.

3. Digital Experience

Seeing Munich through different eyes: The ‘Map of Big Love’ presented by MINI and Google (Automotive World)

MINI is now presenting a unique new way to explore a city through the themes that users interest most: From ‘Mood Boosters’ and ‘Conscious Living’ as well as through the very personal eyes of six MINI Friends. The ‘Map of Big Love offers a multi-lense view of Munich by linking the favorite places of these MINI Friends to varied curated routes and content.

‘We are thrilled to help MINI bring their colorful and optimistic attitude to life by using Google Maps Platform’, explains Achim Rietze, Strategy Lead, Creative Works, Google. ‘Thanks to the new WebGL-powered Maps features like Cloud-based Maps Styling, users can see how different the world can be and explore new perspectives on Munich’.

It’s a great starting point for anyone who wants to see Munich in a unique way. For example, you can follow tennis pro Carina Witthoeft on her trail to the outdoor skate park at Hirschgarten. If you are interested in the stops of the British Designer Paul Smith, have a look at one of his favorite galleries.

The ‘Map of Big Love’ relies on Google Maps Platform and the Maps Javascript API. The new Maps features that use this low-level browser API were introduced in March 2021 and enable 3D map experiences. The WebGL Overlay View allows rendering 3D objects directly on the map, which opens up storytelling possibilities.

4. The Space Race

SpaceX sends civilians into space on first private flight (Bloomberg)

SpaceX launched four civilians on a three-day orbital excursion that many see as a harbinger of a new era in human spaceflight. The flight, dubbed Inspiration4, took off at 8:02 p.m. Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and reached an orbiting height of 585 kilometers.

Inside the company’s Dragon crew capsule were Jared Isaacman, a tech billionaire, and three other U.S. citizens without specialized astronaut training - Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski. The crew returned to Earth on September 18th.

In addition to serving as a proof-of-concept demonstration, the mission will also raise $200 million in charity for childhood cancer research. Beyond the undisclosed sum Isaacman is paying SpaceX for the flight -- reported as $200 million -- he also pledged $100 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

The flight set a new altitude record for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and took the foursome deeper into space than any flight since the last Hubble telescope servicing mission in May 2009. NASA played no role in the trip planning beyond some technical consultations and training assistance.

5. AI

When AI breaks bad (Axios)

A new report about AI and its effects warns that it has reached a turning point and its negative effects can no longer be ignored. The AI100 project — launched by Eric Horvitz, former Microsoft chief scientific officer, and hosted by the Stanford Institute on Human-Centered AI (HAI) — is meant to provide a longitudinal study of the technology.

The new update published on Thursday — the second in a planned century of work — gathered input from a committee of experts to examine the state of AI between 2016 and 2021. The panel found AI has exhibited remarkable progress over the past five years, especially in the area of natural language processing.

The experts concluded that "to date, the economic significance of AI has been comparatively small," but the technology has advanced to the point where it is having a "real-world impact on people, institutions, and culture."

That means AI has reached a point where its downsides in the real world are becoming increasingly difficult to miss — and increasingly difficult to stop. The most immediate concern about AI then is what will happen if it is cemented in daily life before its kinks are fully worked out.

6. Funding, IPOs, M&As

As always, please feel free to share questions, feedback, or requests for future newsletters.