Digital Startup new roundup – Week ending 9th April
- Microsoft launches Sprinkles, a silly camera app powered by machine learning – Microsoft is getting into the “fun camera app” game with a new iOS application called Sprinkles, which has now earned a featured spot in the “New apps we love” section of the App Store. The gist with Sprinkles, clearly aimed at a teen audience, is to offer a variety of traditional photo decorating tools like stickers, emoji and captions, but leverages Microsoft’s machine learning and A.I. capabilities to do things like detect faces, determine the photo subject’s age and emotion, figure out your celebrity look-a-like, suggest captions, and more.
Self-driving car startup Zoox takes safety road – One of the buzziest startups in Silicon Valley, Zoox Inc., says it is taking a different path in the race to build self-driving cars: It is preaching safety first. The secretive company used its first major announcement this week to tout the hiring of one of America’s foremost safety officials, Mark Rosekind. Until January, he oversaw the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an agency responsible for ensuring vehicle safety. Now he is Zoox’s chief safety innovation officer.
BMW Just Invested in This On-Demand Bus Rental Startup – BMW has invested in Bus.com, a Montreal-based startup that allows users to book charter buses online. It’s the latest example of a push by automakers to find revenue opportunities outside the traditional business of building and selling vehicles. The funding was part of Bus.com’s $5 million Series A round. Other investors include Jackson Square Ventures, Real Venture and Y Combinator. In a blog post, the company said it will use the money to scale operations, and improve the technology behind its product.
The hybrid plane that could halve the cost (and travel time) of flights: Boeing and JetBlue back hybrid-electric craft – Boeing and JetBlue have turned their sights to hybrid-electric planes. The two aviation giants revealed this week that they are investing in a little-known company called Zunum Aero, a startup developing alternative propulsion aircraft. Zunum is working to build 10-50 seat planes that ‘sip fuel only when they have to,’ and the firm claims their design could decrease door-to-door travel times by 40 percent on busy routes.
Cincinnati startup with big growth plans gets acquired – A Greater Cincinnati startup company with enormous growth potential has been acquired by a Japanese company, but it’ll keep its local operations. Sirrus Inc., a chemical maker based in Loveland, sold to Nippon Shokubai on March 30. The company had raised a $13.6 million first round of venture capital in 2013 and millions more in later rounds with Cincinnati investors Queen City Angels and CincyTech involved in several rounds of investment.
EBay Billionaire-Backed Startup Maps Transit Chaos in Slums – A London-based startup backed by the billionaire co-founder of EBay Inc. and an executive at Uber Technologies Inc. is trying to make sense of seemingly anarchic transportation networks in some of the world’s largest cities.