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As it adds Jeremy Milken to the partnership, Watertower Ventures nears $50 million close for its new fund

Derek Norton and Jeremy Milken have known each other for twenty years. Over their longtime personal and professional relationship, the two Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneurs have invested in each other’s companies and investment firms, but never worked together until now. Milken is taking the plunge into institutional investing, joining Norton as a partner in Watertower […]

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Derek Norton and Jeremy Milken have known each other for twenty years. Over their longtime personal and professional relationship, the two Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneurs have invested in each other’s companies and investment firms, but never worked together until now.

Milken is taking the plunge into institutional investing, joining Norton as a partner in Watertower Ventures just as the firm prepares to close on a $50 million new fund.

It’s an auspicious time for both Los Angeles-based businessmen, as the LA venture community sees a wave of technology talent relocating from New York and San Francisco in the newly remote work culture created by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I see two things happen. One people look at the effects of where the market’s going. We’re seeing a lot more companies that are starting up now as a result of a [the pandemic],” said Norton. “New company formation is happening faster than before covid. [And] a lot of venture capitalists that have relocated to LA. They’ve moved down to LA for lifestyle reasons and they’re saying that they don’t need to go back to San Francisco.”

For Milken, the opportunity to get into venture now is a function of the company creation and acceleration of digital adoption that Norton referenced. “The pandemic is accelerating change in the marketplace. Things that might have taken a decade are taking two years now,” Milken said.

These opportunities are creating an opening for Watertower Ventures in markets far beyond the Hollywood hills. The firm, whose original thesis focused on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, is now cutting checks on investments in Texas and Utah, and spending much less time looking for companies in the Bay Area.

Derek Norton, founder, Watertower Ventures: Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

Norton’s latest fund is the only the most recent act in a career that has seen the investor traverse the financial services digital media and the early days of the internet. Norton built Digital Boardwalk, a pioneering internet service provider and the second commercial partner for the trailblazing browser service, Netscape.

Later, at Jeffries Technologies, and the $120 million Entertainment Media Ventures seed and early stage venture capital fund, Norton was intimately involved in bringing tech to market and focusing on early stage investments. With that in mind, the Watertower Ventures group, which launched in 2017 with a small, $5 million fund, is a return to those roots.

The plan, even at the time, was always to raise a larger fund. After founding and running the boutique investment banking business at Watertower Group, Norton knew he had to raise a starter fund to prove the thesis he was working on.

That thesis was to provide a bridge between early stage companies and large technology companies using the network that Norton has built in the Southern California tech and entertainment community over decades.

“We want to take our contacts at Google, Apple, Facebook, Disney, Microsoft, Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other companies we believe should have a relationship with our portfolio companies, and help the CEOs and management teams more effectively do business development,” Norton told SoCal Tech when he closed his first fund in 2017. “We want to connect them to the right person at those companies to create a commercial relationship. That has a really large impact on early stage companies, who typically don’t have a deep network of relationships, and the ability to get to those type of people. It’s because of our advisory business that we have those relationships, and that’s also why those relationships stay fresh and active, versus people who aren’t in those businesses. It’s almost a full time job to maintain that, and that’s where our value-add is.”

Milken, who has spent his professional career in entrepreneurship, was ready to try investing, and was intimately familiar with Watertower and its portfolio, as an investor in the firm’s first $5 million fund.

“Two years ago we started having those conversations,” said Norton in an interview. “As Jeremy exited his business in September it created the opportunity to go out and raise together as the evolution of our partnership.”

Jeremy Milken, general partner, Watertower Ventures. Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

With the new capital coming in, Norton expects to back some 30 to 35 companies, he said. And, in a testament to the first fund’s performance, which has it in the top decile of venture funds for its vintage, Norton said he was able to raise the capital amidst the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 70 percent of the existing portfolio has been marked up, according to Norton.

Even though limited partners, the investors who back venture funds, were reluctant to commit capital to new firms in March and April, fundraising returned with a vengeance in June and July, according to Norton. The paper performance likely was enough to woo additional limited partners and individual investors including TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer, the former head of streaming at Disney.

Mayer’s presence in the firm’s investor base is a testament to the firm’s pitch to founders. “We view fundraising as a massive distraction for these early stage companies from their business. We try to deliver that network that’s ours to those founders,” said Norton.

“I think we’re in a unique position starting with a fresh fund here,” says Norton. “Uncertainty creates opportunity and people are bringing solutions. We haven’t noticed any slowdown whatsoever, we’re working with twenty five companies per week. Since the inception of the fund, we haven’t seen deal flow at this level.”

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/16/as-it-adds-jeremy-milken-to-the-partnership-watertower-ventures-nears-50-million-close-for-its-new-fund/

Private Equity

Ordermark Funded $120M to Expand its Virtual Business

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Ordermark is based in Los Angeles, CA, one of the leading online ordering management solutions for restaurants and virtual restaurant concepts.

Ordermark was funded $120 million series C round funding. The funding was led by prominent technology investor SoftBank Vision Fund and joined by returning investor Act One Ventures. The grant will use to help more restaurants transition to online ordering during the pandemic and beyond.

The company’s software consolidates incoming orders from multiple platforms and sends them to a single printer. Ordermark also operates a company

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The post Ordermark Funded $120M to Expand its Virtual Business appeared first on Funded.com.

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Ordermark is based in Los Angeles, CA, one of the leading online ordering management solutions for restaurants and virtual restaurant concepts.

Ordermark was funded $120 million series C round funding. The funding was led by prominent technology investor SoftBank Vision Fund and joined by returning investor Act One Ventures. The grant will use to help more restaurants transition to online ordering during the pandemic and beyond.

The company’s software consolidates incoming orders from multiple platforms and sends them to a single printer. Ordermark also operates a company called Nextbite, a portfolio of 15 readymade virtual brands such as CraveBurger, Firebelly Wings, and HotBox by Wiz, a collaboration with rapper Wiz Khalifa. Restaurants can offer these delivery-only brands out of existing kitchens, opening up additional revenue streams.

Jeff Housenbold, the Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said. They believe Ordermark is a leading technology platform and innovative virtual restaurant concepts transform the restaurant industry. And they are excited to support their mission to help independent restaurants optimize online ordering and generate incremental revenue from under-utilized kitchens.

The rise of ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants, often referred to as the 3rd wave of food delivery, have paved the way for a broader addressable market for online food delivery.

The statement of Alex Canter, the chief executive officer behind Ordermark 2020, has been a tough year for restaurants. That’s why they are focus on providing products and services to help keep their doors open. This funding allows them to offer more restaurants with innovative ways to reach more consumers.

By: K. Tagura

Author statement:

Funded.com is the leading platform for accredited investors network worldwide. We monitor and provide updates on important funding events. Angel Investors and Venture Funding can be a key growth for a startup or existing business. Whether it is a first, second or third round financing having a strategic alliance with an Angel Investor or Venture Capital financing can propel a business to the next level and give the competitive edge.

Source: https://www.funded.com/blog/2020/10/ordermark-funded-120m-to-expand-its-virtual-business/

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Private Equity

Alternative Investments/ESG: Amundi Launches Sustainable ETF With Exposure To Japanese Stocks

The Amundi Index MSCI Japan SRI UCITS ETF offers exposure to large and mid-cap companies with outstanding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings in the Japanese market. The new ETF is an extension of Amundi’s range of sustainable ETFs.

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Alternative Investments/ESG: Amundi Launches Sustainable ETF With Exposure To Japanese Stocks

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Amundi’s new ESG ETF invests in large and mid-cap Japanese stocks.

The Amundi Index MSCI Japan SRI UCITS ETF offers exposure to large and mid-cap companies with outstanding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings in the Japanese market.

The new ETF is an extension of Amundi’s range of sustainable ETFs. (ETF Stream)

Amundi Index MSCI Japan SRI UCITS ETF

The ETF tracks the performance of the MSCI Japan SRI Filtered ex Fossil Fuels Index, which in turn is an equity index based on the MSCI Japan Index (the parent index). The index is representative of the large and midcap stocks of the Japanese market.

It excludes issuers involved in Nuclear, Tobacco, Thermal Coal, Alcohol, Gambling, Controversial Weapons, Conventional Weapons, Civilian Firearms, Oil & Gas, Fossil Fuels, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), and Adult Entertainment.

Its total expense ratio is 0.18%. No performance fees apply.

It is an accumulation fund and will be managed by Amundi Luxembourg SA, an entity that is part of the Amundi group.

The ETF is market-cap weighted and includes a 5% capping on issuer weights. It comprises 68 stocks, compared to 320 names in its parent index.

The fund’s largest holding is Nintendo with 5.6% weighting ahead of Daikin Industries with 5% and Sony with 4.7%.

It is listed on the Deutsche Boerse and Euronext Paris.

ESG ETFs continue record run

European ESG ETFs continued their strong trend and set a record for assets gathered in a month (€3.9 billion), according to the latest Money Monitor report from Lyxor ETF for September.

Related Story:  Amundi Expands ESG Range With Two New ETFs

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/alternative-investments-esg-amundi-launches-sustainable-etf-with-exposure-to-japanese-stocks/

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Private Equity

Artificial Intelligence: Intel First To Deploy AI “On Edge” In Space

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) has the distinction of launching the first onboard AI processing chip into space. Earlier this month, the European Space Agency and Intel announced the successful deployment in space of PhiSat-1, the first-ever satellite with onboard AI-processing capabilities. Launched from a rocket dispenser on September 2, the PhiSat-1 is positioned about 530 km above our heads, moving at a speed of 27,500 km per hour in a sun-synchronous orbit.

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Artificial Intelligence: Intel First To Deploy AI “On Edge” In Space

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A satellite the size of a cereal box, carrying a camera and an AI chip, is now in orbit.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) has the distinction of launching the first onboard AI processing chip into space. Earlier this month, the European Space Agency and Intel announced the successful deployment in space of PhiSat-1, the first-ever satellite with onboard AI-processing capabilities. (Business Insider)

Launched from a rocket dispenser on September 2, the PhiSat-1 is positioned about 530 km above our heads. It is moving at a speed of 27,500 km per hour in a sun-synchronous orbit.

PhiSat-1

The satellite’s objective is to monitor polar ice and soil moisture, as well as to test inter-satellite communication systems.

The satellite carries a hyperspectral-thermal camera and an Intel Movidius™ Myriad™ 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU). The latter is responsible for the AI heavy lifting operations onboard the spacecraft.

Myriad’s immediate function is to curate the huge mass of data captured by the camera.

AI at the ultimate edge – space

The big problem facing the scientists was the sheer volume of data generated by the hi-fidelity camera onboard the PhiSat-1. The camera unfortunately does not know how to differentiate between a cloudy and clear environment.

It, therefore, takes a large number of photographs that are useless because, at any given time, clouds envelop two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

The junk photos consume precious internet bandwidth to send down to earth. After all that, scientists would likely delete the unclear photos.

The scientists decided to use onboard AI (also known as “on edge” processing) to curate the photos. Myriad-2 would examine the images, trash the useless ones, and send only the good ones to earth.

By discarding the cloudy images at the source, they saved nearly 30% of bandwidth.

“Artificial intelligence at the edge came to rescue us, the cavalry in the Western movie,” says Gianluca Furano, data systems and onboard computing lead at the European Space Agency.

“Space is the ultimate edge,” says Aubrey Dunne, chief technology officer of Ubotica, the Irish startup that built and tested PhiSat-1’s AI technology. “The Myriad was absolutely designed from the ground up to have an impressive compute capability but in a very low power envelope, and that really suits space applications.”

Ubotica worked with cosine, the maker of the camera, in addition to the University of Pisa and Sinergise.

After three weeks of testing, the team could establish that Intel’s Myriad AI onboard the PhiSat-1 was working fine.

ESA then announced “the first-ever hardware-accelerated AI inference of Earth observation images on an in-orbit satellite.”

Satellite-as-a-service!

Scientists can now visualize multiple applications of AI on satellites.

For example, the satellite, during one orbit, could switch from spotting wildfires on land to rogue ships or environmental accidents at sea such as oil spills.

It could measure crops and soil moisture over farms and forests, and assess the ill effect of climate change on melting ice caps.

Related Story:   Satellites and AI Could Together Predict Wildfires Accurately

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/intel-first-to-deploy-ai-on-edge-in-space/

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