Atomico Raises $765 Million Fund

Niklas Zennstrom

Atomico concluded its fourth round of raising funds with $765 million.

Atomico has revealed that it has closed its fourth round of raising funds after managing to gather $765 million, which is among the highest venture capital funds in Europe. The company initially started its latest round almost one year ago, revealed through its SEC filings.

The $765 fund is a significant increase over its third fund round which only managed to raise $476 million back in 2013. What is particularly interesting with its very successful fundraising round is that it highlights a key difference between European companies and those in the US, where limited partnership firms are often pressured in committing to top funds.

Atomico’s successful round of funding was due to the stakes the company has in a number of prominent endeavors and other firms, which appealed to a lot of investors it seems. Atomico has shares in Rovio, the Finnish game developer which produced Angry Birds, Klarna, a payments company, as well as GoEuro, a travel site.

The company further benefited from a major transaction back in 2013, when Monsanto acquired Climate Corp. for around $1 billion. The following years was quite successful for Atomico again, when Supercell managed to sell a majority stake to Tencent, China, for $8.6 billion.

Mattias Ljungman, a general partner at Atomico, stated that unlike the U.S. which has a long tradition of investing in various venture capital firms, Europe is only now starting to see the appeal. However, once the benefits of investing in these firms became evident, it led to a large amount of capital being deployed, that even surpassed the US.

Atomico, which was originally founded by the co-founder of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom, has now become of the best-funded firms in Europe. The company has its central office in London but has a lot of people on the ground in major cities across the world such as New York, Beijing, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and Stockholm.

Atomico offers an extensive list of service to its portfolio companies, such as an in-house value creation team. This team includes around seven partners who mainly advise on marketing, communications, and other domains of interest. Atomico hopes to see that Europe’s venture capital reach the same breakout speed as in the US.

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Women Tend to Skip Mammograms After False Positive Results

Nurse perfoming a mammogram

False positive mammograms leads to greater delays for the next test.

A new study has found that women suspected of having breast cancer tend to delay future mammograms after their first test was a false positive. Furthermore, some women do not even show up for their next screening, which decreases the chance of an early future diagnosis.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, was conducted on more than 261,000 women from the greater Chicago area. The study reveals that false positives have several unintended consequences which can alter the behavior of women regarding mammogram tests.

Researchers found that in the situations where women were recommended to have a test every year, those who received an initial false positive tended to delay their next test by up to 13 months, while women who had a direct negative result scheduled their next test between three to six months.

This delay could lead to reduced chances of survival if the breast cancer is subsequently diagnosed. Scientists revealed that the women who did not receive a false positive test result had a 0.3 percent of being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer tumor. However, for women with false positive tests, the chances increased to 0.4 percent.

Throughout their study, the researchers also found that some of the women never showed for their next mammogram at all. However, it is unclear whether they gave up on being tested for breast cancer or if they just received the test somewhere else.

The lead author of the study, Firas Dabbous working at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Illinois, revealed the delicate balance that is required in breast cancer diagnosis. While early detection offers the best chances of successful treatment, they also don’t want to bother women with increased number of false positive results followed by painful and expensive tests like biopsies.

In this regard, a debate has arisen whether or not the benefit of breast cancer screening outweighs the possible emotional and financial costs of the tests. A mammogram has a one in ten chance of producing a false positive result. Furthermore, an estimated 7 to 17 percent of all false positive women will end up having a biopsy.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

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Scientists Unveil Blueprint for Modular Quantum Computer

quantum computer

Scientists unveil blueprint for modular quantum computer

Quantum computing has long been considered to be the future of technology, but scientists were not able to reach that goal as of yet. However, an international team of researchers has unveiled their plans on how to build a large-scale quantum computer.

The team of researchers was led by scientists from the University of Sussex, who designed a blueprint for a modular quantum computer, which has the potential to be more powerful than any other system currently available. More specifically, scientists believe that quantum computing is capable of calculating processes millions of times faster than current computer technology.

However, before anyone starts building the modular quantum computer, the blueprint will be analyzed by various specialists in order to determine whether it is viable or not. If so, then we could see the development of the first quantum computer in the coming decade. The scientists published their findings and the actual blueprint in the journal Science Advances.

To compile and design the blueprint, researchers from the UK, Denmark, Japan, Germany and the US have combined their efforts and resources. The result is an actual plan to create a modular quantum computer on a large, something that once was thought of as impossible.

In other quantum computer-related news, researchers have revealed their plans on how to protect future quantum computers from external hacking attacks. Despite their advanced technology, even quantum computers, which hold information in multiple states, not just 0 and 1, can be hacked, according to the researchers. To showcase their claim, the researchers actually built the first high-dimensional cloning machine which was capable of intercepting a quantum message.

In analyzing the results of their experiments, the scientists found important clues which could help protect quantum networks from potential attacks. More specifically, cloning attacks inadvertently introduce specific noises in a channel. Scientists can combat external hacks by ensuring that the more information is contained in photons and monitor those observable noises as a way to strengthen the network’s resistance to external attacks.

However, the development of the large-scale modular quantum computer and securing its quantum networks will not be available anytime soon, if at all, depending on how viable the blueprint is.

Image creditWikimedia

Comcast Begins Testing Xfinity TV Beta App

Xfinity TV app fo Roku

Comcast has begun the beta test for its Xfinity TV app.

In recent years, there have been launched several TV streaming apps trying to emulate the success of Netflix. However, it seems that a large number of apps have only made it harder for new and interesting apps to stand out against more established services. Now, Comcast is trying its luck having begun its beta test for the Xfinity TV app on Roku.

Comcast has announced that anyone with a Roku set-top box released in the last two years or those who own a Roku TV, can now install the Xfinity TV app and try out its content and features in a beta test. The official version of the app will make its way to all interested consumers later this year.

The recent news comes after almost a year since Comcast announced that it’s developing the Xfinity TV app for Roku devices and Samsung TVs. This level of integration will allow consumers to watch their favorite live channels without having to pay the cost of cable or even that of a cable box.

The announcement was made by Andrew Ferrone, Roku’s Vice-president of Pay TV, who stated that Roku owners will be able to watch both live and on-demand programming from a variety of sources such as local broadcast or even their cloud DVR recordings. The content will be delivered over Comcast’s privately managed network.

If you’re interested in the Xfinity app, you can install from Roku’s channel store. The participants in the beta test will have access to the full extent of live and on-demand content. However, they won’t be able to either rent or purchase content or even be able to play previously purchased content through the app.

Furthermore, the Roku device will need to be connected to your local Wi-Fi Network in order for the Xfinity TV app to function. The app won’t work if the streaming device is connected to a different network.

Comcast has revealed that the content delivered through the app is not internet-based so you will not rack up your internet bill if you have a limited plan. Instead, the app uses  Title VI cable service provided by Comcast, and therefore it won’t count to the data usage plan.

Image source: Roku

Pet Rats Caused Seoul Virus Outbreak

a gray and white rat

Pet rats caused a Seoul virus outbreak in the US.

Humans like to keep as pet various animals, from the conventional dog or cat to more exotic creatures. However, some can more dangerous than others. A new report from the CDC has revealed that the recent Seoul virus outbreak in Wisconsin and Illinois has been caused by pet rats.

The United States is not entirely unfamiliar with the disease as previous outbreaks in the country have been caused by wild rats. However, the recent outbreak occurred due to pet rats. An outbreak with a similar caused has also occurred in Europe.

The first identified patient to come in contact with the virus was in Wisconsin. He visited a hospital with symptoms similar to that of flu. However, the doctors decided to test for hantavirus, as he was breeding rodents in his house, and the virus is often carried by rats, both wild and domesticated.

The results of the test came back in the last days of December and confirmed the fact that patient was infected with the hantavirus. The doctors decided to send the CDC a sample of the patient’s blood together with another sample from one of his family members who also worked with the pet rats.

A few days later, on January 11, the CDC reported that both individuals have been infected with the Seoul virus which is hantavirus commonly found in rats and can cause chills, fever, nausea, and abdominal pain.

The patients infected with this virus tend to develop symptoms as soon as one or two weeks after contact. However, there have been cases where the symptoms started to show even eight weeks after. Fortunately, most patients infected with the Seoul virus can recover, but there have been rare cases where patients have developed a hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This condition starts with fatigue, fever, and acute pain, and can even become fatal.

Besides the two initial patients, which made a successful recovery, doctors have also identified six other patients working at various other rat breeding facilities in Illinois. Among the six patients, only one has experienced the symptoms of the illness. Health authorities continue to investigate and will very likely find more patients infected with the Seoul virus.

What do you think about the outbreak caused by the pet rats?

Image sourcePixabay

Faraday Future FF 91 Costs an Estimated $300,000

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future investor reveals an estimated price of the company’s car.

Faraday Future decided to unveil their new FF 92 electric car at the Consumer Electronic Show 2017. By all accounts it was a night to remember for all those present, taking into account both the negatives and positives aspect of the presentation, despite being revealed amidst high expectations and serious hype.

The company hopes to compete with Tesla and its high-end electric cars. However, while the specs of the car were unveiled at CES such as having a range of 378 miles thanks to its 130-kWh lithium-ion battery. The Faraday Future FF 91 has revealed to have 1,050 horsepower allowing it to reach 60 mph in 2.4 seconds.

However, the most notable aspect of the presentation was the lack of any pricing details, which could affect a lot of people’s interest in the supposed Tesla competitor. The selling price of the vehicle, as well as its manufacturing costs, are an important detail for the future of a startup company which seeks to sell a high-end vehicle right off the bat.

In a recent interview, one of the company’s main and public backers, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, the head of LeEco, an electronics company from China, has stated that he expects the car to cost less than 2 million yuan. When converted to American dollars, this equals around $290,000.

It is unclear if the price only applies in China, considering he mentioned the price in Chinese currency. If this is the case, it’s worth remembering that China does have higher prices due to taxes, increased shipping costs, as well as import duties, if Faraday Future will build the car outside China.

In this regard, LeEco announced last year that one of its Chinese factories will build around 400,000 electric cars per year. However, it is unclear if the factory will be building the FF 91 or vehicles under the LeEco brand itself.

Nonetheless, if price estimated around $300,000 for the Faraday Future FF 91 is the actual international price of the car, this means that it will be vastly more expensive than any of Tesla’s current vehicles, or any of its other competitors. For example, the high-end Model S P100D Tesla starts at $135, 700. Other startup companies like Lucid Motors, estimates that its Air luxury electric sedan will be priced at $100,000 by 2018.

Image credit: Faraday Future

Google Ends Titan Internet Drone Project

Titan drone project

Google ends its Titan internet drone project.

Tech companies like Google and Facebook owe their success to widespread internet use in the developed parts of the world. As such, it is no surprise that both companies are planning ways to bring reliable and affordable internet to the rest of the world, in hopes of expanding their user base and their revenue streams together with it. Nonetheless, if the projects are successful it would provide an important resource to many people who desperately need it.

However, accomplishing such a task like providing internet to the rest of the world is a more daunting task than what many can imagine, especially since the people who lack internet access leave in areas without the proper infrastructure.

As such, Google thought that having solar-powered drones fly over regions of the world without the service and provide a large area wireless network could a great solution. At least, that’s what the company initially thought. Now, the Titan internet drone project has been terminated.

A statement issued by Alphabet, Google’s official corporate name, reveals that the team of engineers working on Titan was brought into the fold of the X division back in late 2015. The internet drone project was ended shortly after the transition. The statement cites Project Loon’s increased feasibility over Titan in achieving the same goal, as the reason for the termination of the internet drone project. Additionally, many members of the Titan team are already involved in other projects at Google’s X division.

Not many people are surprised by this decision, considering that during its first flight test in 2015, the drone crashed, in addition to problems regarding the transmission of 5G data and other budget issues. Furthermore, since Google’s transformation into Alphabet, it has developed a more financially stern outlook. The company isnt’ as willing as before the hemorrhage a lot of money on moonshot projects with barely any feasibility while teams face greater pressure to turn great and ambitious ideas into practical and profitable concepts.

Another recent transition from a moonshot project to a more pragmatic goal and method of achieving was Google’s plan to develop its own electric car which eventually morphed into Waymo. The company now focuses on only software development while the cars are being provided by various established automakers like Fiat Chrysler.

Image source: YouTube Images

VW Unveils Its New Electric Microbus

electric microbus and minivan

Volkswagen revealed its new electric microbus concept of the iconic minivan.

Volkswagen vehicles have integrated into certain cultures so much that you immediately associate a vehicle with a specific type of person. This the case with the automaker’s hippie-era minibus, which has now been reimagined as an electric microbus, revealed during the Detroit Auto Show.

In a somewhat strange move, the company decided to unveil the iconic vehicle at the North American Internationa Auto Show as a new electric microbus concept titled the I.D. Buzz. It’s unclear at this point whether or not the company is serious about bringing back the iconic van to markets or if it’s marketing move meant to play on the nostalgia of an older generation, as a way to tempted to purchase the new generation of autonomous, electric vehicles.

VW’s division chief Herbert Diess stated that the electric microbus is part of the company’s strategy to sell more electric cars by 2020, and deliver more than 1 million vehicles with zero-emissions annually by 2025. The company’s offering will consist in over 30 different models of electric cars, some based on existing models.

It’s very likely that we will see an electric minivan after 2020, despite that VW previously showcased other redesigns of its iconic 1960’s minivan. For example, a conventionally-fueled and still retro-looking concept was revealed in 2001, followed by the Bulli 10 years later, which was battery-powered. Most recently, during CES 2016, VW revealed the Budd-E. All these teasers make it hard to take the electric microbus concept as a serious production vehicle.

However, until that point, the newly revealed electric microbus I.D. Buzz has some interesting features. The automaker claims that it has a range of up 270 miles on a single charge, meaning that it can offer the same range as a current Tesla vehicle. Furthermore, during the reveal of the concept, VW stated that this will be the first fully autonomous minivan.

The electric microbus is able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour. in under five seconds and it’s capable of reaching a max speed of 99 miles per hour. The vehicle benefits from having the batteries built into the floor which creates a low center of gravity and thus provides an increased stability.

What do you think about the company’s iconic vehicle?

Image credit: VW

Lenovo Unveils Alexa-Powered Smart Assistant

smart assistant speaker

Lenovo has revealed their new Smart Assistant speaker.

Smart speakers which feature a smart home assistant made waves in 2016 with the launch of Amazon’s Echo and Dot products as well as the Google Home. However, it seems that the market is set to become slightly more crowded as Lenovo, the largest PC maker in the world, has decided to build their own speaker while still using Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant.

Lenovo’s new device has a similar shape to the Amazon Echo but it seems to borrow design aspects from Google Home as well. More specifically, the speakers are covered in a fabric which comes in different colors, orange, gray and black, while the top part of the device features a black or white plastic.

Furthermore, the microphone part of the Lenovo Smart Assistant can also be found on top of the speaker, like the Echo. However, it’s slightly jutting out rather than being covered by more plastic. Lenovo has stated that the design is meant to allow more ventilation for the Intel Atom processor inside the speaker. One last difference from the Echo is that Lenovo’s new device features eight far-field microphones, compared to Amazon’s only seven such microphones.

Despite being smart speakers, it seems that both Amazon and Google focused more on the part of the smart assistant, as the devices have not been regarded as great speakers. This is where Lenovo actually improves on previous systems, by offering a special edition of their new devices which comes with a Harman Kardon speaker.

This edition of the Lenovo Smart Assistant is slightly more expensive, but could very well be worth it if you play a lot of music through the speaker and have a high standard for sound. Lenovo has stated that their speaker will include Amazon’s assistant, known as Alexa, which can also be found in the Echo or Dot devices. Users can set up the speaker using the company’s app for both Android and iOS.

The Lenovo Smart Assistant device will start shipping to customers this year, in May. Interested customers can purchase the standard edition of the speaker for $130, the same price as a Google Home but cheaper than the $180 Echo. However, if prefer a higher sound quality, the Harman Kardon edition will drive you back $180.

Image credit: Lenovo

In The State That Legalized Marijuana The Number Of Traffic Deaths Decreased

traffic deaths decline after medicinal marijuana

The report did not prove that there is a link between medicinal marijuana and the decline of traffic deaths.

Legalization of marijuana has been a debating topic for many people. A lot of them believed that only bad things can happen if is legalized. This is not the case since in some states that have legalized marijuana the number of traffic deaths has declined.

Many people believed that the legalization of marijuana is going to cause more traffic deaths but in fact, it did exactly the opposite. In the last 20 years, more than 27 states legalized medicinal marijuana. A new report shows that deaths on average have declined since 1985.

The report analyzed more than 1 million fatalities in the US between 1985 and 2014. The researchers observed that the traffic deaths decreased by more than 11 percent on average since medicinal marijuana was legalized. The decrease was particularly high (12%) when it comes to people aged between 25 and 44.

The authors of the report mentioned that this is a big number. The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health. One of the authors of the study, Benjamin Hansen, mentioned that public safety is not affected by the legalization of marijuana. He said that access to medicinal marijuana can even improve the public safety.

The authors mentioned that like alcohol, marijuana is a drug and it can affect the ability to drive. This is why people shouldn’t drive under the influence. The report did not prove that there is a link between medicinal marijuana and the decline of traffic deaths.

The authors mentioned that they can’t prove the cause and effect and that they just observed the decline of traffic deaths. The authors also mentioned that people who consume marijuana might be more aware of the fact that they shouldn’t drive after they smoked pot.

The report also shows that for every state the number of deaths caused by traffic was different. For instance, in New Mexico, the decrease was by 17% and then it increased. The authors mentioned that these are just numbers and they can’t prove the link between medicinal marijuana and the number of deaths caused by car accidents.

What is your opinion about the legalization of marijuana and traffic deaths?

Image source: Wikipedia