ESO Fund's top 10 events affecting the private markets for the month of October 2023.
October's Top Ten:
- Databricks acquired data startup Arcion for $100 million. Arcion, an enterprise data company, is Databricks’ first acquisition since acquiring MosaicML, an AI infrastructure startup specializing in training large language models.
- Simpplr, a Redwood City, CA-based employee experience platform, is to acquire Socrates.ai, a generative AI-powered virtual employee assistant. The acquisition will enable Simpplr to expand its strategic presence. Socrates.ai will become an integral part of Simpplr’s portfolio of top-tier digital workplace solutions. The amount of the deal was not disclosed
- The FTX scandal is coming to a close, with SBF being found guilty on all seven counts of fraud and conspiracy.
- AI has made it to the White House, with Biden issuing the US’s first AI executive order, requiring safety assessments, civil rights guidance, and research on labor market impact. It’s the U.S. government’s first action of its kind, requiring new safety assessments, equity and civil rights guidance and research on AI’s impact on the labor market.
- Google has committed to invest $2 billion in Anthropic, an OpenAI competitor. Anthropic was valued earlier this year at $4.1 billion.
- Speaking of OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman recently announced that the company is generating revenue at a pace of $1.3 billion a year. Altman’s remark implies the company is generating more than $100 million per month, up 30% from this summer
- Freight firm Convoy has shut down after laying off about 20% of their workforce a week prior. The company had raised $260 million at a $3.8 billion valuation just 18 months ago.
- ShieldAI raised $200M at a $2.7B valuation to scale military autonomous flying technology. The round was co-led by the U.S. Innovation Technology Fund (USIT) and Riot Ventures, both previous investors in ShieldAI.
- ByteDance, the TikTok parent company, held a tender offer for employees during October. The company was buying shares at $160 per share, implying a $223.5 billion overall valuation. This is down 26% from a similar buyback offer a year ago.
- Chip design startup SiFive has laid off roughly 20% of its workforce, or about 130 people. It’s a sign of strain within the semiconductor sector even as intense demand for artificial intelligence chips buoys Nvidia and others.
Why this matters: M&A activity is still high, and deals are happening as we move into the last 2 months of the year. However, as seen by the recent news of Convoy shutdowns, as well as the shutdown of healthtech company Olive AI, startup companies are still contending with difficulties with fundraising and money being more expensive.
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