Home » What’s Up: Week of January 11th

What’s Up: Week of January 11th

Google pledges $3 million to fight vaccine misinformation

The Google News Initiative launched a global open fund to fight misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, worth up to $3 million. The goal of the new fund is to support journalistic efforts to effectively fact-check misinformation about the COVID-19 immunisation process. According to Google, some of the available research suggests that the audiences coming across misinformation and those seeking fact checks don’t necessarily overlap.

The fund will accept projects looking to expand the audience of fact-checks, particularly to groups disproportionately hit by misinformation. Applications will be reviewed by team of 14 jurors from across the academic, media, medical and non-profit sectors, as well as representatives from the World Health Organisation.

Tencent buys audiobook platform Lazy Audio for $417 million

China’s Tencent Music Entertainment acquired audiobook platform Lazy Audio, owned by Shenzhen Lanren Online Technology, for 2.7 billion yuan ($417 million). The deal will be largely paid through cash and Lazy Audio’s management team will get post-acquisition equity-settled awards, reports Reuters.

The music streaming site is looking to bolster its content library in order to put it behind a paywall and add more paid users. Lazy Audio’s platform, founded in 2012, hosts Chinese comedy, podcasts and radio shows apart from audiobooks. Its revenue comes from pay-per-title sales, subscriptions and ads. The deal is to be closed in the first half of 2021.

German transport tech startup KONUX raises $80 million  

KONUX, a Munich-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to help run railway networks, had raised $80 million from investors, and would hire 100 data scientists and software engineers to develop and expand its product portfolio. The Series C funding round was led by Sanno Capital. Existing investors also participated in the round, including DIVC and Silicon Valley-based NEA.

KONUX runs a software platform that uses smart sensors and machine learning to optimise the operation of rail networks. It counts Deutsche Bahn as a client and operates in 10 countries.

ThoughtWorks raises $720 million from Siemens and other investors

Software consultancy company ThoughtWorks raised $720 million from investors including GIC and Siemens AG, reports Reuters. It puts the enterprise value at $4.6 billion.

ThoughtWorks helps firms digitize their operations. The funds will be used to buy back equity from its current investors to expand its international footprint.  Founded in Chicago over 25 years ago, ThoughtWorks has grown to become a leading global software consultancy with more than 7,000 employees worldwide. Today, it has 46 offices in 15 countries.

Freight tech startup Sennder raises $160 million  

Digital freight startup Sennder had raised $160 million, reports TechCrunch. It puts the business valuation at more than $1 billion. The funds will be used to back its technology platform development.

The Berlin-based company has emerged as a consolidator in Europe’s freight-tech sector. It merged with France’s Everoad and bought Uber’s European freight business in 2020, aiming to move a million truckloads this year.

Sennder disintermediates the traditional freight model by connecting enterprise shippers with trucking companies directly. A full-truck loads segment accounts for nearly a third of Europe’s $350 billion freight sector and has traditionally relied on small trucking companies that work with phone, pen and paper. In addition to providing freight forwarding services to major shippers like Germany’s Siemens, Sennder plans to offer its software platform as a service so that shippers can digitise their entire logistics setup.

This “Uberisation” of its model builds on a joint venture in Italy, where Sennder handles all parcel traffic for Poste Italiane, saving its partner 6% in costs while still making a profit on the business itself.