Home » What’s Up: Twitter, Gopuff, Riskified in the spotlight

What’s Up: Twitter, Gopuff, Riskified in the spotlight

Twitter launches competition to find biases in its image-cropping algorithm

Twitter will launch a competition for computer researchers and hackers to identify biases in its image-cropping algorithm after a group of researchers previously found the algorithm tended to exclude Black people and men, reports Reuters.  

The competition is part of a wider effort across the tech industry to ensure artificial intelligence technologies act ethically. Following criticism last year about image previews in posts excluding Black people’s faces, the company said in May a study by three of its machine learning researchers found an 8% difference from demographic parity in favor of women and a 4% favor toward white individuals.

Twitter released publicly the computer code that decides how images are cropped in the Twitter feed, and said on Friday participants are asked to find how the algorithm could cause harm, such as stereotyping or denigrating any group of people.

The winners will receive cash prizes ranging from $500 to $3,500 and will be invited to present their work at a workshop hosted by Twitter at DEF CON in August, one of the largest programmers conferences held annually in Las Vegas.

Delivery startup Gopuff valued at $15 billion after latest fundraising

U.S. delivery startup Gopuff raised $1 billion in a funding round that included Guggenheim Investments, Hedosophia, and SoftBank Vision Fund 1, valuing the company at around $15 billion, reports Reuters.

The new valuation represents a near 69% jump from the $8.9 billion that the company was valued at, after its previous fundraising in March. The startup, founded in 2013, delivers items like food, alcohol, and medicines at a $1.95 flat delivery charge and operates in more than 450 sites across North America and the UK. In May, it partnered with Uber Technologies to expand the delivery of essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since its last fundraising, the company has announced several acquisitions including those of UK-based last-mile delivery platform Fancy and fleet management startup videos.

Riskified valued at $4.3 billion in NYSE debut

Riskified, an online risk management platform backed by an affiliate of growth equity investor General Atlantic, notched a valuation of $4.3 billion after its stock market debut reports Reuters. Shares opened at $27, compared to Riskified’s initial public offering (IPO) price of $21 per share that helped raise $367.5 million.

The company, founded by Eido Gal and Assaf Feldman in 2013 to solve online payment fraud, sold 17.5 million shares in the IPO, of which existing shareholders offered about 200,000 shares.

Riskified aims to reduce risks related to online fraud for e-commerce businesses and has built a machine learning-based platform that minimizes payment risk. The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company recorded a 30% rise in revenue to $169.7 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020, a recent regulatory filing showed. However, it incurred a loss of $11.3 million in the same period.

TuSimple’s self-driving trucks to use Ryder sites as terminals

Self-driving truck technology company TuSimple Holdings announced that its trucks will use truck leasing and rental company Ryder System maintenance sites as terminals to help it expand its U.S. autonomous freight network, reports Reuters.

Under the partnership, Ryder will provide maintenance and data downloading services for TuSimple’s fleet of more than 50 self-driving trucks, which are currently operating in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. TuSimple plans to roll out a national U.S. autonomous freight network by 2024.

Self-driving technology for freight trucks has attracted investor attention as, with trucks usually running on fixed routes between predefined points, it is seen as easier and cheaper to roll out than systems for self-driving cars and robotaxis.

Current Hot Funding & Acceleration Opportunities

  1. By Aug. 28, early-stage food tech businesses involved in nutrition, food safety, robotics & innovative food branding are welcome to apply for investments and potential deals with multinational food brands;
  2. By Nov. 1, Lohmann Brightlands startup challenge is looking for startups involved in materials and processing to apply for mentorship and share of $30K per company.    

Recommended Reading of the Week

This week we dive into techniques of avoiding emotional setbacks from Olympic sportsmen at the Business Insider. 

Venture Capital Glossary

Blended Preferences. When all classes of preferred stock have equal payment rights in the event of a liquidation.

Drag-Along Rights. The right of the owners of a specified percentage of the shares of the company to require other shareholders to sell their shares or to vote their shares to approve the sale of the company. This prevents one group of shareholders from blocking the sale of the company to someone only interested in purchasing 100% ownership of the company.