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The Climb #3 - Facial recognition, VR, challenger banks and more 🔥

Hi all! Here’s the third issue of The Climb, a bi-monthly roundup of what’s going on in the French te
The Climb #3 - Facial recognition, VR, challenger banks and more 🔥
By Ghislain de Buchet • Issue #3 • View online
Hi all! Here’s the third issue of The Climb, a bi-monthly roundup of what’s going on in the French tech ecosystem and beyond. I enjoy receiving your feedback: make sure to hit reply or DM me to express your opinion!
In this issue, we’ll discuss facial recognition, VR and challenger banks among other buoyant topics. 🔥

🥖 Major funding rounds in France
> B2B telecom startup Sewan Communications raised a €75m round led by Kartesia. The capital will be used for recruitment and strategic acquisitions.
> Biotech Tissium closed a €39m Series B. The startup explores the potential of polymers designed to fit around and integrate with human tissue.
> Biolog-id grabbed a €30m round led by Xerys. The company that markets identification and traceability solutions for the healthcare industry targets €200m in revenues in 2023.
> Grenoble-based creator of an artificial pancreas Diabelooop raised a new round of €22m plus €9m in debt.
> raised a $14m round led by Prime Ventures with participation from Index Ventures to compete with Airbnb on short-term online apartment rentals.
> Cybersecurity platform GitGuardian grabbed €10.8m in a round led by Balderton Capital.
> Data visualization provider Toucan Toco raised a €8m Series A led by UK-based Balderton Capital plus €4m in debt.
> Other funding rounds include cybersecurity players Acklio and Egerie, car parking facilitator Be Park, food media brand Chefclub, AI-based nutrition startup Foodvisor, back-office interface Forest Admin, HRtech Moodwork, specialist in household appliance repairs Murfy, legaltech Predictice, designer of an indoor vegetable garden Prêt à Pousser, promising proptech Virgil and adtech startup Woô among others.
⚡ Other hot moves in France
> American sound system company Sonos acquired French voice assistant startup Snips in a $37m cash deal. The acquired company develops an AI-based solution that can operate primary locally rather than relying on cloud data. In that sense, Snips could help Sonos set up a voice control option that protects client confidentiality.
> Also in the sound industry, French premium hi-fi company Devialet partnered with Huawei on a $300 smart speaker for China.
> One more victim of the brutal micro-mobility war: startup Coup announced it will leave permanently Paris, Berlin and Madrid due to difficulties in achieving financial profitability.
🌍 European champions
> Second-hand clothing marketplace Vinted becomes a unicorn! The company raised €128m at a €1bn+ valuation in a round led by Lightspeed VP, with previous backers Sprints Capital, IVP, Accel and Burda also participating.
> Challenger banks eye the untapped teenage market: Revolut announced the launch of Revolut Youth for under-18s while Paris-based startup Kard targets teens with a promising product. French pocket-money focused Pixpay just revealed its payment card dedicated to 10yo+.
> N26 entered the British market last October but the company is struggling to acquire users. Among British fintechs, N26 ranks 19th by MAUs, according to data from iOS and Android users.
> German micro-mobility startup Tier announced its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2020 with the implementation of vehicles equipped with swappable batteries.
> Dutch online supermarket Picnic bagged a €250m Series C (o/w €50m in debt).
> Israeli startup Vayyar Imaging, that builds radar-imaging chips and sensors, as well as the software that reads and interprets the resulting images, raised a $109m Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies.
🤝 Fellow backers
> Kepler Chevreux partners with Move Capital to launch a €300m growth fund dedicated to B2B “solutions and services” companies.
> Luxembourg-based fintech-focused MiddleGame Ventures held a first close on a €150m fund target. The investment firm will take part to post-seed, Series A, and Series B investments in Europe and North America.
> Swedish Blq invest launched a new fund to back 10 to 15 early-stage startups with €1-3m each.
> More news about Jeremy Uzan and Raffi Kamber, the two Partners that left Alven Capital last October: they should launch their own fund called Singular. More info soon.
🔥 What's up in the East (brief and short)
> Alibaba raised more than $11bn in Hong-Kong secondary IPO, marking the biggest equity offering in the territory since 2010 and the biggest IPO of 2019 globally.
> Uber is looking to sell its Indian food delivery business for around $500m. Local leading player Zomato has emerged as the potential acquirer.
> Indian payment leading player Paytm announced a $1bn Series G led by T Rowe Price at a $16bn valuation, which makes it India’s highest-valuation private tech company.
> Indonesian ecommerce specialist Tokopedia could be raising a $1.5bn round, probably the last one before going public according to people familiar with the matter.
> After Facebook announcement last September, it is Tencent’s time to launch its own dating app named Qingliao.
> Y Combinator cancelled its plans to expand to China following “general changes in strategy”. But it’s hard not to speculate over the current US-China tech war and the challenge of being relevant in China as a US VC.
> Ant Financial will raise a $1bn fund to back startups in Southeast Asia and India.
🕵 Facial recognition
Despite concerns over data privacy, the use of facial recognition for diverse applications is going live. While San Francisco was the first US city to ban the use of the technology by local agencies or for law enforcement, China is taking the global lead. Last updates:
> The CNIL (French National Commission on IT) issued a report on facial recognition. The organization recommends the establishment of a strict legal framework for the technology. It also committed to conducting large-scale tests and experiments to better understand the challenges associated with facial recognition.
> While Chinese consumers have generally been thought to be more accepting of trading privacy for security, it appears that some Chinese residents become more and more nervous about the on-going massive face data collection in the country. This emerging anxiety comes along with the introduction by the Government a law that requires all people in China to have their faces scanned when registering new mobile phone services.
> The air-travel industry is heavily adopting facial-recognition based technologies to improve overall passenger user-experience and collect previous data. Recently, Iberia has launched a facial recognition pilot project at Madrid airport for customer identification. States around the world are also pushing in this direction: Singapore chose faster immigration clearance as one of the five key national AI projects and the US Department of Homeland Security is to expand airport face recognition in 20 main US cities by 2021 for both foreigners and US citizens.
Airport rushes will soon be a thing of the past: the air-travel industry is embracing facial recognition to transform the overall travel experience
Airport rushes will soon be a thing of the past: the air-travel industry is embracing facial recognition to transform the overall travel experience
📦 Misc
> TouchVR: 2 Russian researchers have developed a VR glove. Although they are not the first ones to explore that field, they promise a much lighter device and a focus on reproducing entirely the complex sense of touch. This move is a further proof that VR is currently in an emulation phase leading to greater immersion. Also in the VR world, Facebook announced the acquisition of the leading Prague-based VR studio Beat Games.
> Uber lost its license to operate in London for the second time after repeated safety failures. The company appeals the decision and announced it will continue to operate anyway. Meanwhile, Indian ride-hailing giant Ola is preparing to launch into the British capital (with a license).
🧮 By the numberz
> $34bn is the record amount raised by European startups this year. A 40% increase compared to 2018.
> c. 50% of funding rounds (operations above €2.5m and excluding refinancing) in France in 2018 were intermediated by a financial advisor vs. 41% in 2016. The proportion of intermediated deals keeps increasing.
> 1% of the wood worldwide is used by IKEA every year.
💡 Essential content
> Atomico just released its 2019 State of European Tech report.
> Here are the 13 French startups with the fastest growing teams according to a study carried out by Sifted.
> Having someone in your team that knows the ins and outs of PR is crucial for your branding.
That's it for this issue.
Thanks for reading The Climb!
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✉ Feel free to reach out to me for any feedback, recommendation or just to send kind words.

-See you in two weeks-
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Ghislain de Buchet

Talking about tech & VC every second Wednesday

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