Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

The head of what is arguably private equity’s most successful technology investment firm — Vista Equity Partners — made a rare appearance on Meet The Press to discuss the steps that the country needs to take to help minority-owned businesses recover from the economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Robert F. Smith is one of the worlds wealthiest private equity investors, a noted philanthropist, and the richest African American in the U.S.  Days after announcing a $ 1.5 billion investment into the Indian telecommunications technology developer Jio Platforms, Smith turned his attention to the U.S. and the growing economic crisis that’s devastating minority businesses and financial institutions even as the COVID-19 epidemic ravages the health of minority communities.

Calling the COVID-19 “a pandemic on top of a series of epidemics”, Smith said that the next round of stimulus needs to support the small businesses that still remain underserved by traditional financial institutions — and that new financial technology software and services can help.

“We need to continue to rally as Americans to come with real, lasting, scalable solutions to enable the communities that are getting hit first, hardest, and probably will take the longest to recover with solutions that will help these communities thrive again,” Smith told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Smith called for an infusion of cash into community development financial institutions and for a new wave of technology tools to support transparency and facilitate operations among these urban rural communities that aren’t served by large banking institutions. 

In all, the first round of the Congressional stimulus package poured $ 6 trillion into the U.S. economy through authorizations for the Treasury to issue $ 4 trillion in credit and $ 2 billion in cash payouts to various industries. The average size of those initial loans was just under $ 240,000, according to a post-mortem assessment of the Payroll Protection Program written by Lendio chief executive Brock Blake for Forbes

Blake’s assessment of the shortcomings of the PPP echoes Smith’s own criticism of the program. “Many of these small communities — urban, rural — aren’t being banked by the large institutions,” Smith said. Instead they’re working with community development financial institutions that in many instances weren’t approved lenders under the Small Business Administration and so were not able to distribute PPP money and make loans to their customers.

“We have to take this opportunity to reinvest in our business infrastructure in these small to medium businesses. In our banking infrastructure so that we can actually emerge out of this even stronger,” Smith said. “We have to invest in technology and software so that these ‘capillary banking systems’ are more efficient and they have more access to capital so they can engage with these businesses that are underbanked.”

In many instances this would amount to the construction of an entirely new financial infrastructure to support the small businesses that were only just beginning to emerge in minority communities after the 2008 recession.

“We need to get this average loan size to $ 25,000 and $ 15,000,” said Smith. To do that, community banks and development finance institutions are going to need to be able to access new fintech solutions that accelerate their ability to assess the creditworthiness of their customers and think differently about how to allocate capital and make loans. 

In some ways, Smith is echoing the call that fintech executives have been making since the PPP stimulus first started making its way through the financial system and banks began issuing loans.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t take a significant portion of capital to reinvest in the infrastructure of delivering capital back into those businesses and frankly reinvest in those businesses and give them technology and capability so there’s more transparency and visibility so there’s an opportunity to grow [and] scale,” said Smith. “I don’t want to see us go back to the same position where we were so we have these banking deserts.”

The head of Vista Equity Partners has even tasked his own portfolio companies to come up with solutions. As Barron’s reported last week, Smith told the Vista Equity portfolio company Finastra to develop technology that could help small lenders process Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses in underserved communities.

“In the process, it became apparent how unbanked these most vulnerable communities are, and we felt it was imperative to help build out permanent infrastructure in those banks so that they can build long-term relationships with the U.S. Small Business Administration beyond PPP,” Smith told Barrons.

As of last week, 800 lenders had processed 75,000 loans using the software that London-based Finastra developed for U.S. small lenders. Those loans generated $ 2.2 million in processing fees for the fintech company, proving that there’s money to be made in the small ticket lending market. And even as Finastra is reaping the rewards of its push into small business lending services, Vista Equity and Smith are donating the same amount to local food banks, according to a spokeswoman for the private equity firm, Barron’s reported.


TechCrunch

Acast, a podcast monetization and distribution platform, announced a new partnership with JioSaavn, one of the largest streaming audio services in India. The agreement mean JioSaavn will distribute content from Acast and have access to its technology for podcasters.

JioSaavn, which claims 104 million monthly active users, is the second-largest streaming audio service in India after Gaana, and holds about 24% market share, according to an OTT Audience Measurement Insights report.

Podcasts from Acast’s network will be added to JioSaavn’s streaming app over the next two months. Based in Sweden, Acast focuses on developing ways to help podcasters monetize, including subscription paywalls and dynamic ads. Publishers on Acast’s network include the Guardian, BBC, the Financial Times and PBS NewsHour.

JioSaavn launched original programming in 2016, including JioSaavn podcasts, which it says now has more than 200 hours of original content.

In a press statement, Ishani Dasgupta, JioSaavn’s lead of podcast partnerships, said, “Podcasting is still largely nascent to consumers in the Indian market, with momentum growing quickly. The ability to grow and build new audiences, new shows and establish pathways for brands to access both is really just beginning for our 1.3 billion potential consumer market.”


TechCrunch

Silicon Valley investor Ronny Conway is raising his third early-stage venture fund, shows a new SEC filing that states the fund’s target is $ 140 million and that the first sale has yet to occur.

The now six-year-old firm, A.Capital, focuses on both consumer and enterprise tech, and has offices in Menlo Park and San Francisco.

Among the many brand-name companies in its portfolio are Coinbase, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Reddit. (You can find its other investments here.)

Conway led the seed-stage program of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) for roughly four years in its earliest days and left in 2013 to raise his debut fund, which closed with $ 51 million in capital commitments. He also raised two, smaller parallel funds at the time.

According to SEC filings, he sought out $ 140 million for his second fund, though he never announced its close.

A.Capital is today run by Conway, along with General Partner Ramu Arunachalam (also formerly of a16z) and Kartik Talwar, who worked previously with Conway’s brother Topher, and his famed father, Ron, at their separate venture firm, SV Angel.

Conway maintains a far lower profile than his father, who throughout his venture career has nurtured relationships not only with founders but with tech reporters and local politicians.

Though now ancient history in Silicon Valley years, Ronny Conway has been credited with introducing a16z to Instagram when it was a nascent mobile photo-sharing app.

Conway, a former Googler, met Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom in the several years when Systrom, too, worked for the search giant, beginning in 2006. It turned out to be a highly worthwhile introduction to a16z, though it could have been even lucrative. Though the firm made a seed-stage bet on Instagram, it didn’t follow up with another check because of a separate investment in a competing startup that would eventually flounder (PicPlz).

It was a sensitive issue at the time for a16z, with some noting its missed opportunity. In fact, firm cofounder Ben Horowitz felt compelled to write in a blog post that when Facebook acquired Instagram for $ 1 billion in 2012, a16z did just fine, wringing $ 78 million from its $ 250,000 seed investment in the startup.


TechCrunch

YouTube has teamed up with Universal Music Group to remaster nearly a thousand classic music videos, the companies announced today, including those from from Billy Idol, Beastie Boys, Boyz II Men, George Strait, Janet Jackson, Kiss, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Lionel Richie, Maroon 5, Meat Loaf, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, Smokey Robinson, The Killers, Tom Petty, and others.

Many of the most iconic music videos on YouTube were only available in the “outdated standards originally intended for tube televisions with mono speakers,” YouTube explained in an announcement. But today, people watch videos across a number of platforms — desktop, mobile, and TV — and they often do so in high-definition. The old videos didn’t hold up.

With the new partnership, both the video and audio quality will be updated to the highest standards, then the new videos will slide in to take the place of the existing SD versions. They’ll also retain the same URL on YouTube as well as all the view-counts and likes, instead of arriving as new content.

As of today, the companies have already updated over 100 music videos including the following:

The plan is to fully upgrade nearly 1,000 over the next year, with plans to have all 1,000 titles available before year-end 2020. More videos will arrive on a weekly basis as this program continues, YouTube says.

The videos will be available exclusively on YouTube and YouTube Music — the latter ahead of a planned merger with Google Play Music. 

You’ll be able to tell if a YouTube music video has been through the upgrading process because it will read “Remasted” in the video’s description.

“It’s really an honor to partner with Universal Music Group and change the way fans around the globe will experience viewing some of the most classic and iconic videos. The quality is truly stunning,” said Stephen Bryan, Global Head of Label Relations at YouTube, in a statement. “It’s our goal to ensure that today’s music videos — true works of art — meet the high-quality standards that artists’ works deserve and today’s music fans expect.”

“We’re excited to partner with YouTube to present these iconic music videos in the highest audio and video quality possible,” added Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG. “Our recording artists and video directors imbued these videos with so much creativity; it’s great to enable the full experience of their vision and music. These videos not only look amazing on any screen now, they will be enjoyed by music fans for decades to come.”


TechCrunch

Welcome to the robotic bedroom of the future, coming in 2020 to tiny apartments beginning in Hong Kong and Japan, but expanding around the world.

IKEA is now selling robotic furniture that can convert from a storage and seating unit into a bed and closet and back again.

The new line of furniture, based on the company’s PLATSA storage unit, is called ROGNAN and is designed to use space inside the home more efficiently, especially as housing units become smaller to accommodate the 1.5 million people who move to a city somewhere in the world every week, IKEA said in a statement.

“We have been working with developing small space living solutions for a long time, and we know that some of the biggest challenges in peoples’ homes are storage and finding the place to do all the activities that you’d want to do in your home,” said Seana Strawn, Product developer for new innovations at IKEA of Sweden, in a statement. “This is especially the case in big cities where people have to make compromises in the functions of their homes. We wanted to change that,”

Conversations between Ori Living and IKEA have been underway for the past two years and the launch of the collaboration in Hong Kong in 2020 is only the first step in their collaboration, according to Ori Living chief executive Hasier Larrea.

“People across the US have been living large in a small footprint with Ori’s robotic interiors since we introduced our first commercial product two years ago. At about the same time, we began working with IKEA to bring robotic furniture to the world,” Larrea said in a statement. “We share IKEA’s passion to enable people to make the most of their living spaces, and look forward to helping realize this as we continue to develop living spaces for the next generation.”

Born from research conducted by Larrea and MIT professor Kent Larson at the university’s famous Media Lab, Ori launched in 2015 as a way to reduce the footprint of living spaces in urban environments.

The two men were inspired by the Urban Land Institute’s blockbuster study, “The Macro View on Micro Units,” and collaborated with rockstar designer Yves Béhar, to create bed/storage/workspace units that were designed to meet the needs of folks who are trying to do more in increasingly cramped urban spaces.

The company’s first system consists of a retractable bed that can slide in or out at the push of a button from a wall mounted controller, an app on a smart phone, or by using a skill the company has programmed into Alexa.

With IKEA, Ori Systems has licensed the technology and will leave the manufacturing to IKEA and its incredibly sophisticated supply chain. “With this collaboration there is a license arrangement, which is one of the ways Ori can work with partners due to our technology’s modularity,” Larrea wrote in an email.

“With ROGNAN, small space living customers will no longer have to compromise their needs, dreams or comfort in order to achieve a multi-functional living environment. With ROGNAN the customer gets eight extra square meters of living space, using robotics to transform the solution from bedroom to walk-in closet, to work space, to living room. An all-in-one solution activated through a simple interface touchpad,” says Seana Strawn.


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