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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Los Angeles-based SureSale is developing an independent certification service for used cars

Donny Hall, the chief executive and co-founder of the used car certification service, SureSale, knows used cars. The serial entrepreneur built and sold a previous business, CarSure, which was an insurance plan for vehicle repairs.

After selling that business in 2017 to Innovative Aftermarket Systems, Hall decided that his next venture would be to take on the used car industry’s dominant source for historical information about a vehicle — Carfax .

His Santa Monica, Calif.-based SureSale has raised $7 million in financing from the LA-based investment firm Upfront Ventures to create a national used car certification service that dealers and car shoppers around the country can turn to for an unbiased assessment of a vehicle and its problems, according to Hall.

“66 percent of consumer want to buy cars that are certified and only 7 percent do,” says Hall. “Independents don’t have any national [certification] program and dealers don’t have national programs.”

The company integrates background checks, insurance, and provides a limited warranty and five-day exchange options for vehicles assessed through its program.

To launch the business, Hall partnered with Jeffrey Schwartz, the co-founder of the used car marketplace and review platform, Autobytel.

Used car dealerships are hurting in the ecommerce age just like other traditional retailers. SureSale is betting that its value-added services and better reporting standards can give dealers a competitive advantages versus online services like Carmax.

Dealerships pay for the service, but in return their customers get a full inspection, a title and a background check alongside the five month warranty.

“Even though there have been a number of recent startups that have seen massive exits in this category like Carvana ($13BN market cap) and Carmax ($16BN market cap), given that each company has less than 2% market share, any market this large is always ripe for continued efficiency gains,” wrote UpFront Ventures partner and SureSale director, Kobie Fuller, in a blog post.


Source: TechCrunch

'The Witcher' and 'Little Women' Share a Time-Tested Secret

Both are told out of chronological order—and the reason why is a lesson for our times.
Source: Wired

ViewSonic Elite XG270QG

ViewSonic’s Elite XG270QG gaming monitor delivers everything that 1440p gamers could want, and a bunch more. It’s a premium panel that, despite the price, still packs tremendous value for serious high-speed play.
Source: PC MAG

Prezi

Prezi frees your presentations from the sequential slide deck format. You can use it to make interactive presentations, talking head videos, and more.
Source: PC MAG

Colop e-mark

The Colop emark, though a bit pricey, is a well-designed, unique “digital rubber stamp” and imprinting device that prints your text or designs on a whole host of surfaces and materials.
Source: PC MAG

How to Watch Tonight's New Hampshire Primary Debate

Fresh off the caucus debacle in Iowa, seven candidates take the stage in tonight’s debate.
Source: Wired

White House reportedly aims to double AI research budget to $2B

The White House is pushing to dedicate an additional billion dollars to fund artificial intelligence research, effectively doubling the budget for that purpose outside of Defense Department spending, Reuters reported today, citing people briefed on the plan. Investment in quantum computing would also receive a major boost.

The 2021 budget proposal would reportedly increase AI R&D funding to nearly $2 billion, and quantum to about $860 million, over the next two years.

The U.S. is engaged in what some describe as a “race” with China in the field of AI, though unlike most races this one has no real finish line. Instead, any serious lead means opportunities in business and military applications that may grow to become the next globe-spanning monopoly, a la Google or Facebook — which themselves, as quasi-sovereign powers, invest heavily in the field for their own purposes.

Simply doubling the budget isn’t a magic bullet to take the lead, if anyone can be said to have it, but deploying AI to new fields is not without cost and an increase in grants and other direct funding will almost certainly enable the technology to be applied more widely. Machine learning has proven to be useful for a huge variety of purposes and for many researchers and labs is a natural next step — but expertise and processing power cost money.

It’s not clear how the funds would be disbursed; It’s possible existing programs like federal Small Business Innovation Research awards could be expanded with this topic in mind, or direct funding to research centers like the National Labs could be increased.

Research into quantum computing and related fields is likewise costly. Google’s milestone last fall of achieving “quantum superiority,” or so the claim goes, is only the beginning for the science and neither the hardware nor software involved have much in the way of precedents.

Furthermore quantum computers as they exist today and for the foreseeable future have very few valuable applications, meaning pursuing them is only an investment in the most optimistic sense. However, government funding via SBIR and grants like those are intended to de-risk exactly this kind of research.

The proposed budget for NASA is also expected to receive a large increase in order to accelerate and reinforce various efforts within the Artemis Moon landing program. It was not immediately clear how these funds would be raised or from where they would be reallocated.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple extends Chinese store closures due to coronavirus – CNET

Some are listed as remaining closed through Feb. 14.
Source: CNET

The most delicious Valentine's Day food gifts under $50 – CNET

Sweet (and spicy) treats that won’t break your budget.
Source: CNET

As its fundraising lags, SoftBank’s second Vision Fund could be near-sighted

SoftBank, the technology conglomerate that transformed the venture capital industry and made waves in the technology world with its $100 billion Vision Fund, may not be able to repeat the performance or sustain its revolutionary approach to tech investing, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Journal, SoftBank may only be able to raise half of the $108 billion target it had set for its sequel to the Vision Fund — with most of that money coming from the Japanese company itself.

Big backers like the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund (which helps support the financial stability of a regime responsible for assassinating journalists), and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. both balked at SoftBank’s attempts to set up Vision Fund II, telling SoftBank that it would have to use capital from the profits made off of previous investments to finance the second firm.

Those profits reportedly amount to roughly $10 billion.

While the Vision Fund launched with much fanfare and no small amount of jealous grumbling from investors, analysts and media amazed at the size of capital SoftBank’s founder and enigmatic chief executive Masayoshi Son was able to raise, the results have not managed to keep pace with the hype.

Part of the problem has been the disastrous investment SoftBank made in the co-working company WeWork. SoftBank wrote down its $4.4 billion investment in the company by roughly $3.5 billion.

WeWork’s woes may just be the tip of the iceberg for SoftBank, which has significantly curtailed its capital commitments to other portfolio companies. Those companies have recently slashed staff to reduce spending sending ripples through the broader tech industry and hinting at a potentially broader slowdown.

The Japanese conglomerate’s investment arm is also shedding staff. Earlier this week, the company lost one of its top managers, Michael Ronen, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs and was instrumental in SoftBank’s investments in companies like ParkJockey, Nuro and GM Cruise.

Ronen isn’t the only big departure. The company’s chief people officer, Michelle Horn and another U.S.-based managing director, David Thevenon, have also left the company in the past five months.


Source: TechCrunch

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