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Outfund to loan over $870 mil to e-commerce firms globally, including Australia, this year

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Outfund to loan over $870 mil to e-commerce firms globally, including Australia, this year

Australia’s funding ecosystem has been challenging due to limited access to capital and conventional financing methods; bank loans have high compound interest rates, while VCs demand equity dilution.

Outfund, a revenue-based finance provider, provides Australian businesses with a new funding source.

Earlier, Force Over Mass, PostFinance, 1818 Venture Capital, and Tribe Capital led a Series A debt and equity round in which the company raised £115 million ($200 million AU). The additional funding will aid Outfund’s rapid expansion in Australia and internationally, as it offers SMEs a quicker, more equitable, and more cost-effective way to raise growth capital. 

With a commitment to lend £500 million ($AU870 million) to e-commerce and subscription-based businesses worldwide, including Australia, over the next 12 months, Outfund will use the funds to offer enlarged lending rounds to smaller to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Redesigning funding for Australian SMEs

By offering an alternative financing channel that enables online-based businesses to get the funds they need, when they need them, Outfund is reshaping the funding market for Australia’s SMEs. Businesses that have been in business for at least six months and have a minimum monthly turnover of $10,000 are eligible for funding between $10,000 and $10 million. 

In contrast to traditional business loans, Outfund offers flexibility for SME owners by customising the time taken to repay each business’s specific needs and an agreed revenue share starting at 1%.

Same-day access to capital

SME owners can submit an online application for financing through Outfund. Due to the technology’s and product’s proprietary nature, only quick checks are needed to access capital; business plans and extensive risk assessments are not required. 

Businesses only need to connect their revenue accounts, and Outfund will use this information to create a funding offer and distribute funds the same day. Outfund’s revenue-share percentages are calculated to ensure that each company has a sufficient cash flow for day-to-day operations; the more successful the company, the more successful Outfund. The funding balance between a company and a lender is now equal for the first time.

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Outfund achieved significant growth in 2021, expanding revenues sixfold and moving into three new countries. With its wider reach and new capital, Outfund is set to loan over $870 million in 2022 and is expected to fund over 5,000 businesses globally.

Mr Charles Grover, Outfund Country Manager, Australia, said, “What sets Outfund apart from the market is our technology and our ability to provide in-product finance solutions to almost any partner. This not only ensures rapid growth but also gives our partners the ability to provide a range of value-add financial products to their customer base”.

A data-driven approach

The pandemic has seen more Australians embrace online shopping. In 2021, more than 80% of Australian households made an online purchase, driving national year-on-year growth to 12.3% – almost double the pre-pandemic baseline.

With the “golden retail quarter” – the peak trading period between October and December fast approaching, many SMEs will need to grow and sell more on the web in order to drive continued revenue and profitability, making an increased investment into inventory and marketing a priority.

However, the funding landscape is becoming more challenging, with limited access to capital and traditional financing routes offering an unfair deal to SMEs. Bank loans offer high compound interest rates (or are entirely inaccessible outside government schemes), while venture capitalists demand equity dilution.

The Outfund model is based on future revenue projections, and this data-driven approach means significantly fairer terms for SMEs.In addition to using the latest tranche of funding to lend more capital to more businesses, Outfund also plans to invest in new products and team growth.

Outfund’s latest round of funding and ambitious growth plans have made the company the largest revenue-based finance provider in the UK, Spain, and Australia.

Outfund’s technology is also taking the bias out of lending, with analysis based solely on business revenue and performance. One-fifth (20%) of Outfund’s portfolio comprises female business founders – a testament to Outfund’s commitment to advancing the democratisation of access to capital.

Mr Grover said, “Our ambition is for Outfund to be the go-to place to grow your business, without compromising equity or wasting time fundraising. We have developed a way to make the process of securing money for growth easier, fairer and, most importantly, faster.

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“Our approach has been warmly received by Australia’s SME community, and we are now looking at how we can open the Outfund experience to more businesses – and continue to be part of their journey to success for a long time.

“The last six months have delivered continued growth for Outfund, and our team is proud of the number of entrepreneurs we have been able to support,” concluded Mr Grover.

Mr Mark Pearson, founder and managing partner of UK-based Fuel Ventures, added, “The Outfund team is pivoting the model of business funding, rebalancing the scales so that business owners don’t lose out financially while getting the capital they need to supercharge their online business’s growth. At Fuel we work with the most ambitious entrepreneurs building market leading companies. Outfund is a perfect example of this – a strong, passionate founding team creating a game-changing venture that is now a leader in its field.”

Mr Filip Coen, Partner at Force Over Mass, said: “Outfund provides SMEs with the short-term financing options they deserve: fast, flexible and on good terms. A modern, digital-first credit provider with automated credit and risk scoring, managed by an exceptional team. We are very excited to join Outfund on the journey ahead”.

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

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The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

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The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

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Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

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The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

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Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

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Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

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4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

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