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Blockchain Week Bull Run

Unlike last year’s NYC Blockchain Week, which was more form over substance (anyone recall Lambos parked in front of the Hilton?), this year’s conferences focused on the progress that had been made over the past year and the future promise Read more…

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Unlike last year’s NYC Blockchain Week, which was more form over substance (anyone recall Lambos parked in front of the Hilton?), this year’s conferences focused on the progress that had been made over the past year and the future promise of the sector as institutions prepare their entries.
While bitcoin’s price experienced a significant price hike from May 8 through the end of the week (albeit at one point retreating back to $7K before reaching $8K again), there was other noteworthy news.
Amazon Web Services, used by many tech startups and larger companies for their cloud infrastructures, announced the expansion of its Blockchain as a Service offering. Microsoft announced the first decentralized identity infrastructure implementation by a major tech company built directly on the bitcoin blockchain (most have built on top of ethereum or private blockchains). While Microsoft continues to work with the ethereum blockchain for other projects, I found it telling that they chose to use the more proven bitcoin blockchain for such a key implementation. FPV portfolio company Blockstream announced the release of its new Liquid Securities platform, a user-friendly solution for businesses issuing security tokens on its bitcoin based Liquid Network: “With the launch of the Liquid Securities platform, businesses can issue security tokens with the click of a button, and establish sophisticated rulesets to conform with their regulatory requirements with no software engineering experience required…Thanks to this unique architecture, token rules do not have to be written at the smart contract level–as is the case with other blockchain platforms–and can be easily adjusted via the Liquid Securities control panel to allow issuers to adapt to fast-evolving digital asset regulations.”
On the crypto side, Binance resumed trading services after its $40M hack. I was on a panel with Pascal Gauthier, CEO of hardware wallet Ledger, who noted that their sales doubled the day of the Binance hack. Off exchange custody continues to be an area of growth, as even the most well capitalized exchanges have been subject to significant security breaches. I’ll be watching this space in the coming months.

Source: http://thebarefootvc.com/2019/05/20/blockchain-week-bull-run/

Private Equity

Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures). It uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

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Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

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Benson Hill uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

The company said other strategic and ESG focused investors also participated. These included Argonautic Ventures, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Emart, GS Group, Louis Dreyfus Company, iSelect Fund, Fall Line Capital, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, S2G Ventures, and additional strategic and family office investors.  (FOOD navigator-USA.com)

Benson Hill technology

Benson Hill uses biotechnology, data science, and AI to enhance the nutritional qualities, flavor, and sustainability of crops and vegetables.

The firm’s “Cloud Biology” is the fusion of data, machine learning, and AI techniques with biology. Its “CropOS” is a proprietary platform that facilitates the accessibility and actionability of Cloud Biology.

The CropOs platform uses plant phenotyping, predictive breeding, and environmental modeling algorithms to better control the plant breeding process and realize these advantages:

  • Produces plants that are highly productive, highly nutritious, and better tasting
  • Better texture
  • Reduce the number of processing steps
  • Reduce the need for additives
  • Grow plants that “do more with less,” thus boosting sustainability

The company’s work so far has been concentrated around soybeans.

Its new, ultra-high-protein (UHP) soy products spiked the interest of investors. They come from a highly productive non-GMO soybean that is rich in oleic oil content.

Use of funds

Benson Hill plans the commercial launch of the first Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties in 2021, among other product launches.

It also plans to expand its team by adding top talent and continue the development of Cloud Biology and CropOS.

“As a society, we’re at a crossroads made more evident as the pandemic has revealed strengths and vulnerabilities in our food system,” said Matt Crisp, Benson Hill CEO. “Food choices that create enjoyment, make us stronger, and help preserve our environment need to be accessible to everyone, and the power of plant diversity and technology innovation can help fuel that evolution.

Related Story:   Smart Farm Technology To Take The Drudge Out of Plant Breeding

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/agtech-startup-benson-hill-lands-150m/

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Private Equity

FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock. The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) products.

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FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

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Alliance Data will pay in cash and stock for the acquisition.

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock.

The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including BNPL products. BNPL is a major trend now that consumers have embraced the interest-free, zero-fee facility to pay in installments. Alliance is a provider of data-driven marketing, loyalty, and payment solutions. (Alliance)

Digital BNPL is particularly popular with millennials and the younger set. They prefer not to run up credit card debt and like the speed and convenience. The technology and products acquired from Bread will address this segment of the population.

Bread already has tie-ups with merchants such as online jewelry seller Noémie, the luxury watch seller Hublot and Newton Baby, the crib mattress provider.

BNPL customer experience

“Bread’s flexible, easily-integrated payment solutions, coupled with Alliance Data’s Enhanced Digital Suite, will improve the digital customer experience and support increased acquisition and checkout rates, offering the best payment product to the right consumer at pivotal moments in the customer’s online shopping journey,” Alliance said in a statement.

Alliance intends to leverage Bread’s solutions along with its own existing private label, general-purpose and commercial products.

COVID-19

Its brand partners will therefore get another advantage in the eCommerce channel, with online businesses already getting a boost from COVID-19.

“With the timing of the holiday season upon us, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, and perhaps nowhere as significantly as in financial services and payments,” said Val Greer, chief commercial officer, Alliance Data.

BNPL is now crowded with cash-rich players

Payments giant PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) announced in August that it would begin offering BNPL services, recognizing that COVID-19 had triggered a dramatic increase in their popularity.

Other players in the BNPL field include Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay, and Quadpay.

In a recent study, Tech Crunch found that PayPal had the highest retailer coverage with a presence of 65% retailers. Afterpay was a distant second at 10%, then Affirm 6%, Klarna 5%, and QuadPay 2%.

The study concluded that PayPal was primed to dominate the BNPL wars.

Related Story:   PayPal Challenges Klarna In U.K. BNPL Tussle                                                

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/alliance-data-buys-bnpl-fintech-bread-for-450m/

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Private Equity

Morgan Stanley Capital Partners completes investment into US Healthconnect

Morgan Stanley Capital Partners has completed an investment into US HealthConnect, a digital education strategies and engagement data solutions provider for the healthcare industry.

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 Morgan Stanley Capital Partners has completed an investment into US HealthConnect, a digital education strategies and

Source: https://www.altassets.net/private-equity-news/by-news-type/deal-news/morgan-stanley-capital-partners-completes-investment-into-us-healthconnect.html

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