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(TNS) — General Motors said Thursday it will bring self-driving technology in the form of ride sharing to consumers by next year.
It said the vehicles would be introduced in the United States, but did not say in which cities it planned to roll out the service.
To hasten that goal, the automaker has partnered with technology investor SoftBank Vision Fund to invest in GM Cruise technology, the automaker said Thursday.
SoftBank, a large technology investment company with stakes in such companies as Uber, will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, and GM will invest $1.1 billion in GM Cruise, its self-driving arm, when the transaction closes at the end of June, the company said.
“This would be one of the largest scaled or the largest scaled effort in the space,” Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, told the media.
“There is a lot of interest in the space. This is as big as it gets.”
While GM has not yet had discussions with government agencies on approval to put self-driving cars on the roads, Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said she’s confident they will be supportive because, “This technology is going to improve safety on our roadways.”
The company did not say whether it planned to launch its own ride service or partner with another company.
GM leaders said the automaker was prepared on its own to fund GM’s long-stated goal of launching commercial autonomous vehicles at scale beginning in 2019.
But in discussions with SoftBank over the past few months, GM found the two shared the same vision to bring autonomous vehicle technology to market.
GM has a $500 million investment in ride sharing company Lyft, which it made in 2016.
“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” Barra said in a news release.
“Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”
The SoftBank Vision Fund investment will be made in two pieces.
Vision Fund will invest the first slice of $900 million.
When the Cruise autonomous vehicles are ready for commercial deployment, the Vision Fund will make the second investment of $1.35 billion, “subject to regulatory approval,” GM said. SoftBank Vision Fund will own 19.6% equity in GM Cruise and GM will own the balance.
This investment process will give GM flexibility with respect to capital allocation, GM said.
“The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stake gives it a unique competitive advantage,” said Ronen.
“We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”
“We’ve been in discussion for quite some time.
We’re very aligned as to what this technology can bring to the world,” Ammann said.
“The capital we’re raising and announcing today is very significant and will carry us to full deployment.”
“This feels like the right time.
There’s still work to do between now and next year to make this work,” Ronen said.
“We have invested significant amounts of capital in ridesharing globally.
We’ve made other investments in technology that relates to automotive including artificial intelligence.
Frankly, we’re also at the beginning of that investment strategy as it relates to automotive and there’ll be plenty of opportunities” to do more, Ronen said.
There is exclusivity between GM and SoftBank.
The two have agreed to a 7-year term before either can change their arrangement.
Both companies said that time frame will provide enough time to significantly grow technology.
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The 2018 state of data management: A public sector benchmark report
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Welcome to the age of “airdrops,” where entrepreneurs disperse crypto coins to prospective users for no cost.
The tactic has come to be seen as the most viable way for blockchain projects to get off the ground.
They’re like the Initial Coin Offerings that were all the rage last year but, instead of selling digital tokens, the project’s masterminds simply give them away.
In addition to Dfinity, there are murmurs the journalism-on-a-blockchain project Civil and Everipedia, a would-be competitor to Wikipedia, will soon conduct airdrops of their own.
It’s not hard to see the strategy here.
In the wake of the fraud-a-palooza that accompanied many of last year’s ICOs, regulators are set to pounce on any outfit that starts selling tokens to the good people of the Internet.
That’s why just giving the tokens away feels like a safer strategy.
While it doesn’t bring the same cash windfall, it creates an opportunity to sell reserve tokens on the secondary market.
Of equal importance, airdrops offer a way for blockchain projects to distribute tokens far and wide, and build up the network effects that are essential for success.
A harder question is whether the airdrops are legal.
The answer, according to attorneys familiar with securities law, can be summed up as “not really.”
Under the first prong of the legal test for determining whether something is a security (and must be registered with the SEC), regulators will look at whether there has been an investment of money—a term that is much broader than just cash.
“There’s a line of cases saying it’s not limited to money.
It can be something of value, or goods or services. From the SEC’s perspective, the [token recipient] might be giving the issuer something of value by becoming part of network,” said Sam Waldon, an attorney with the firm Proskauer.
And according to Blake Estes of Alston & Bird, the SEC has frowned in the past on companies’ attempts to juice investor interest through giveaways.
In 1999, for instance, the agency cracked down on firms offering “free stock” as a way to attract investors to Internet ventures.
The SEC itself hasn’t specifically addressed airdrops but, based on recent comments from the agency’s Chairman Jay Clayton, any U.S. venture dabbling in tokens had better tread carefully.
But excluding Americans may not be a viable option for the likes of Civil, whose blockchain journalism project is focused squarely on U.S. towns and cities.
The project now faces a dilemma: Tokens are essential to its success and, for now, the group has no easy way to distribute those tokens to its target audience.
The upshot is the SEC’s recent crackdown is helping to shield gullible investors from token scams, but it could also hurt U.S. blockchain innovation if legitimate projects have no way of getting off the ground.
Here’s hoping the agency’s gnomes are hard at work creating a safe harbor of sorts that will let U.S. companies and consumers join the age of airdrops.
Or else that precious cargo will only end up in foreign hands.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend. Memes, mumbles and more directly below.
Electronics Maker Asus Unveils Crypto-Specific Motherboard by Monica Rodriguez
Bitcoin Could be the “Napster of Digital Assets” says Ripple CEO by Polina Marinova
Crypto Hackers Are Stealing from EOS’s $4 Billion ICO Using This Sneaky Scam by Jen Wieczner
‘Uber of China’ Founder Plans to Create Blockchain-based Ride-Hailing App by Lucinda Shen
Frank Abagnale of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Fame Says Blockchain is the Future by Polina Marinova
What AI Will Do to the Financial System by Jeff John Roberts
.…Rekt: Bitcoin Gold is reeling from a 51% attack and the hacker could come back for more.
Scammers gonna scam, scam, scam—”maybe it is time to create a CryptoCop“.
Another $100 million up in ICO smoke. Poloniex alarms investors (again). SEC charges “Blockchain Evangelist”.
Wired made $100,000 on a Bitcoin miner review device—and lost the private key.
UK man who threw away a hard drive with Bitcoin millions in 2010 is still talking to the press about it.
Ben & Jerry’s scoops up blockchain to make you feel better about eating their Cherry Garcia ice cream.
Amber Baldet, former blockchain lead for J.P. Morgan Chase, stopped by Balancing The Ledger to talk about her new startup Clovyr, EOS’s $4 billion ICO, and why the current state of blockchain development resembles the early days of the Internet.
If you’ve got an empirical insight on Bitcoin, it’s a safe bet you’ll end up on CNBC.
Here is Robert Sluymer—head of technical strategy at Fundstrat Global Advisors—explaining why he believes Bitcoin has bottomed out. Key numbers per Sluymer:
Mumble: You knew this would happen sooner or later.
A one-time token CEO, not content to treat crypto as like a religion, wants to make it an actual religion:
Called 0xΩ, the religion, [is] inspired by the way blockchain helps groups reach consensus … To jumpstart that process, [Matt] Liston last week handed out 40 hard copies of what he calls a “flame paper” describing both how the religion governance model might work.
Meme: Ripple (and many others in the crypto community) were quick to seize on an image of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star LeBron James berating teammate JR Smith for a foul-up that likely cost the Cavs the first game of the NBA finals.
Expect to see this meme over and over:
Don’t miss out: The team behind the blockchain protocol EOS is poised to raise a mind-boggling $4 billion.
EOS doesn’t have a product yet and, for now, the biggest beneficiaries include scammers who are making out like bandits.
The Ledger co-editor Jen Wieczner has a nice look at one of the more sophisticated hustles:
The ruse is easy to fall for, and often takes the form of a sophisticated-looking email, four of which were sent directly to my Fortune inbox […]
The button takes you to a website that is identical in color, background, font and other design elements to the EOS homepage.
The only problem is the scam site’s web address is “eȯs.com,” a nearly imperceptible dot above the o—a diacritic mark only found in the dead language of Livonian, once spoken in parts of Latvia.