Leading Satellite-to-Phone Company Lynk Global signs letter of intent to merge with Slam Corp. Nasdaq: SLAM

Connecting everyone, everywhere

The world’s only patented, proven & commercially licensed satellite-direct-to-standard-phone system

Lynk has proven two-way sat2phone connectivity on all seven continents, including SMS, emergency
alerts, voice calls, and data, and is scaling to provide coverage everywhere on Earth at broadband
speeds

Combined company expected to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LYNK” in the second half of 2024

Lynk Global, the world’s leading satellite-direct-to-standard-phone (“sat2phone”) telecoms provider, and Slam Corp. (NASDAQ: SLAM), a special purpose acquisition company (“Slam”), today announced that they have signed a non-binding letter of intent (“LOI”)
for a potential business combination. Under the terms of the LOI, the combined company (the "Combined
Company") would operate as Lynk Global, Inc. and its common stock and warrants are expected to be
listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LYNK” and “LYNKW,” respectively.

Lynk was founded in 2017 by Charles Miller, President and CEO; Margo Deckard, COO; and Tyghe
Speidel, CTO. Lynk’s proprietary technology created the sat2phone category, which encompasses
products and services that leverage mobile phones. It designs, builds, and operates proprietary “cell
tower-in-space” satellites that provide direct-to-standard-phone connectivity and global coverage. Lynk
believes it is the world’s only patented, proven, and commercially licensed sat2phone system. Lynk has
proven two-way sat2phone connectivity on all seven continents, including SMS, emergency alerts, voice
calls, and data and is scaling to provide ubiquitous service at broadband speeds. Lynk partners with
wireless providers and mobile network operators (“MNOs”) to deliver connectivity to their customers
through their existing mobile devices.

"Lynk was created with the mission to connect everyone, everywhere by providing affordable connectivity
to billions globally using the phones already in their pockets," stated Lynk CEO, Charles Miller. "In effect,
we’ve created a new category, and our operational technology requires no change to consumers’ phones
while delivering services with immense lifesaving implications. As a public company, we will have access
to greater capital to take advantage of the satellite-direct-to-device opportunity, bringing these services to
even more people and truly ending the era of the disconnected."

Alex Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer of Slam, said "Lynk has built a truly global platform that is set to
revolutionize the satellite-direct-to-phone sector. Since Slam's listing, we have sought to partner with a
company beyond providing capital, through operational support, commercial network expansion, and
brand amplification. Lynk is a perfect fit for our investment criteria. We are impressed by its innovative
technology and proven ability to scale. The Combined Company is positioned to make a tremendous
global impact, potentially providing broadband access to billions of people currently underserved by a
lack of mobile connectivity."

Lynk and Slam intend to finalize their definitive business combination agreement (the “Business
Combination”) in the coming weeks and will announce additional details at that time. Based on the LOI,
the Combined Company is expected to be valued at no less than $800 million upon listing, subject to
current market conditions. There can be no assurance that a definitive agreement will be entered into or
that the proposed transaction will be consummated on the terms or timeframe currently contemplated, or
at all.

Lynk Investment Highlights
Patented and Proven Technology

• Lynk believes it is the world's only patented, proven, and commercially licensed satellite-direct-to
standard-phone system.
• Lynk technology is compatible with any unmodified cellular device from 2G to 5G, and is positioned for
compatibility with future generations of devices.
• Successfully launched three commercial satellite cell towers in space and has begun operations in four
countries.
• Lynk’s technology has been tested and proven in over 25 countries and on all seven continents.
• Lynk has signed 35 commercial contracts to provide coverage in approximately 50 countries.
Attractive Satellite Communications Market Opportunity
• Satellite communications represent approximately $14 billion of the broader global connectivity market
valued at more than $1 trillion annually, growing at a 12% CAGR through 2030 to approximately $35
valued
• Satellite-direct-to-device is a new category within satellite communications that analysts estimate could
Satellitedirecttodevice is a new category within satellite com
• Approximately 750 million of the 5.4 billion existing mobile phone users are not connected on average at
any point in time due to being in "coverage black spots."
• Traditional mobile cell coverage is limited by the economics of building and operating traditional ground
based cell towers, making it cost-prohibitive to expand mobile cell coverage into remote areas lacking
coverage.
• Satellite cell towers are approximately four orders of magnitude lower in operating expense per square
mile than traditional ground-based cell towers. This allows satellite cell towers to affordably fill in black
spots and lower the pricing of ground-based cell towers.
Clear Growth Trajectory with MNOs
• Lynk partners with MNOs around the world to offer 100% geographic coverage in their territory by
integrating seamlessly with their existing network.
• Lynk believes sat2phone services could drive 40% top-line growth in the mobile wireless market from
today’s $1 trillion per year to $1.4 trillion annually.
• These estimates represent $150 billion annually from “everywhere connectivity” for the 5.4 billion existing
mobile customers, and approximately $250 billion annually from new customers who buy their first mobile
device once guaranteed coverage is in place.

Experienced and Proven Management
• Lynk leadership represents the best of the space, telecoms, and satellite industries.
• Average of 32 years of experience in the space and telecoms industries, in both the public and private
sectors.
• Three Lynk co-founders lead the c-suite.
• Proprietary network of advisors with deep expertise and experience across satellite, telecoms, and
technology industries.

Advisors
Jones Trading is serving as financial advisor and BTIG, LLC is serving as capital markets advisor to Lynk
Global, Inc. Goodwin Procter LLP is serving as legal counsel to Lynk Global, Inc. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is
serving as legal counsel to Slam Corp.

About Lynk
Lynk believes it is the world’s only patented, proven, and commercially-licensed satellite-direct-to
standard-mobile-phone system. Today, Lynk allows commercial subscribers to send and receive text
messages to and from space, via standard unmodified mobile devices. Lynk’s service has been
demonstrated in over 25 countries and is currently being deployed commercially, based on 35 MNO
commercial service contracts covering approximately 50 countries. Lynk is currently providing cell
broadcast (emergency) alerts, and two-way SMS messaging, and intends to launch voice and mobile
broadband services in the future. By partnering with Lynk via a simple roaming agreement, a mobile
network operator opens the door to new revenue in untapped markets, gives subscribers peace of mind
with ubiquitous connectivity, and may possibly provide a pathway to economic prosperity for billions. For
more information, visit www.lynk.world or follow @lynktheworld.

About Slam Corp.
Slam Corp. (Nasdaq: SLAM) is a special purpose acquisition company established by baseball legend,
investor and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of A-Rod Corp., Alex Rodriguez, and Founder,
Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Antara Capital LP, Himanshu Gulati. Slam Corp. intends
to pursue investment opportunities with companies that have large and growing addressable markets,
significant revenue growth, defensible business models and superior market share.


Photonics startup Neurophos Raises $7.2 Million to build super-fast, energy efficient Metamaterial-based optical AI chips for data centers

The Neurophos Advantage = Ai compute at the speed of light

Neurophos' mission is to deliver AI computation solutions that are not just faster, but denser and more efficient. Our unique approach combines the best of optical metasurfaces and silicon photonics, offering an AI inference acceleration solution that is poised to reshape the AI landscape. 

Neurophos has raised a $7.2M USD seed round to productize a breakthrough in metamaterials and optical AI inference chips. Neurophos has joined the Silicon Catalyst incubator program to accelerate product development.

Neurophos, a spinout from Duke University and Metacept Inc., has raised a $7.2M USD seed round to productize a breakthrough in both metamaterials and optical AI inference chips.

The company has been funded in a round led by Gates Frontier and supported by MetaVC, Mana Ventures, Gaingels, Trajectory Ventures and others. The seed funding will enable the production of a proprietary metasurface that serves as a tensor core processor enabled by its advanced optical properties. The company will also hire a team of engineers in Austin, Texas, a major silicon engineering hub.

Says David Smith, Duke University: "Neurophos' metamaterial is a ground-up breakthrough enabling an extraordinarily dense computing chip for next-generation AI applications."

While GPUs have had massive success in accelerating AI workloads, digital approaches are typically limited by power consumption. On the other hand, proponents of optical computing techniques claim that photonics can vastly reduce power consumption and therefore accelerate compute speeds far beyond the bounds of what is possible with modern GPUs.

Unfortunately, despite vast amounts of capital having recently been invested in optical compute for AI, the success of the field has been limited, largely because existing optical devices are too large and bulky to scale. However, metamaterials enable new paradigms for controlling the flow of light. The discovery of metamaterials has unleashed an enormous burst of creativity, leading to demonstrations of invisibility cloaks, negative refractive index materials, and many other exotic products.

Neurophos' optical metasurfaces are designed for use in data centers and their approach is already shattering world records in computational energy efficiency. Neurophos plans to use high-speed silicon photonics to drive a metasurface in-memory processor capable of fast, efficient, AI compute.

The estimated global data center electricity consumption in 2022 was 240-340 TWh(1), or around 1-1.3% of global electricity demand, and the exponential growth of AI inference workloads is threatening to push this demand to unsustainable levels. Neurophos' technology will provide way more compute per dollar spent on CAPEX and OPEX, at the same energy consumption, and reduce the total cost of ownership of AI accelerator chips and data centers.

Says Patrick Bowen, Neurophos CEO: "The most important factor in optical processors is scaling. Optical processors become both exponentially faster and more energy efficient on a per-operation basis as you make them larger. This means that in a finite chip area, the most important factor is how small you can build the optical devices that compose your processor. By leveraging metamaterials in a standard CMOS process, we have figured out how to shrink an optical processor by 8000X, which will give us orders of magnitude improvement over GPUs today."

Alexander Hayes, co-founder Metacept Inc., says: "Leaving the speed and energy use bottlenecks behind by deviating far from the Von Neumann architecture represents one of the most exciting and potentially important metamaterial and photonic applications we've ever considered."

MetaVC Partners provided Neurophos' initial funding and an exclusive license to the fund's metamaterials IP portfolio for optical computing. Neurophos was spun out of Metacept, an incubator led by David R. Smith, James B. Duke Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, focused on creating metamaterials-based companies and collaborating with Professor Smith's research group at Duke University. Neurophos CTO Tom Driscoll previously founded metamaterials-based radar company Echodyne.

Says David Smith, Duke University: "The Neurophos team has realized that the really fundamental problems of analog inference processing require a breakthrough at the level of the fundamental physics of the optical modulators. Their metamaterial is a ground-up breakthrough enabling an extraordinarily dense computing chip for next-generation AI applications."

Neurophos AI chips can be fabricated using standard CMOS processes. This gives easy access to volume manufacturing.

The company is also joining Silicon Catalyst, the world's only incubator + accelerator focused on semiconductor solutions, (including Photonics, MEMS, sensors, IP, materials & Life Sciences) to accelerate startups from idea through prototype, and onto a path to volume production. Silicon Catalyst has developed an unparalleled support ecosystem for its semiconductor start-ups, providing a strong network of financiers, business advisors, and industry professionals who help companies to launch and scale in the market. In addition, the incubator provides privileged access to services, expertise, and intellectual property that can empower their companies' technological innovation.

Paul Pickering, Managing Partner, Silicon Catalyst says: "Neurophos represents much-needed progress in analog optical computing, bringing the performance of silicon photonics to the existing manufacturing infrastructure of CMOS foundries. We are confident that they will be one of the leaders of the next generation of AI hardware. This is how you get to tomorrow quickly and without wasted capital. We are thrilled to have them in the program."

Neurophos Breakthroughs In Depth

Neurophos' advancements will decrease the size and energy needs of silicon photonic optical chips, making them more suitable for running artificial intelligence platforms such as LLM (Large Language Models).

Neurophos' metamaterial-based optical modulators are more than 1000 times smaller than those from a standard foundry PDK (Process Design Kit). This enables a technology roadmap to deliver over 1 million TOPS (Trillions of Operations Per Second) of performance. For comparison, an Nvidia H100 SMX5 today delivers at most 4000 TOPS of DNN (Deep Neural Network) performance.

Optical chips have the potential to increase processor speed while reducing power massively. Neurophos will enable this technology to be used in AI data centers. That market, which is dominated by Intel and Nvidia, currently uses traditional silicon semiconductors that create enormous amounts of heat and are struggling to scale to the performance demands of LLM for AI.

Neurophos combines two breakthroughs. The first is an optical metasurface that enables silicon photonic computing capable of ultra-fast AI inference that outstrips the density and performance of both traditional silicon computing and silicon photonics.

The second is a Compute-In-Memory (CIM) processor architecture which is fed by high-speed silicon photonics to deliver fast, efficient matrix-matrix multiplication, which make up the overwhelming majority of all operations when running, for instance, a neural net.

The metasurface-enabled optical CIM elements are thousands of times smaller than traditional silicon photonics modulators, enabling the processing of vastly larger matrices on-chip. This results in an unprecedented increase in the computational density. In optical computing, energy efficiency is proportional to array size, so Neurophos' processor is hundreds of times more energy efficient than alternatives.

Editors Notes

(1): Source, IEA analysis based on Masanet et al. (2020), Malmodin (2020), Hintemann & Hinterholzer (2022), and reported energy use data from large data center operators.

About Neurophos

Neurophos' mission is to deliver AI computation solutions that are not just faster, but more efficient and denser. Its unique approach combines the best of optical metasurfaces and silicon photonics, offering an AI inference acceleration solution that is poised to reshape the AI landscape. Neurophos will light the way to the future of AI. See: www.neurophos.com

Contact:

David Harold
press@neurophos.com
+44(0)7889658527


Lightmatter CEO Nicholas Harris talks about the future of artificial intelligence and thier rapid rise to unicorn

WATCH-> Boston-based Lightmatter CEO on their rapid growth - The developer of photonic chips specialized for AI made headlines again for closing an additional $155 million in new funding and revealing its new valuation of $1.2 billion — making Lightmatter a “unicorn” startup.


Kapital raises $40M Series B and $125M debt to scale AI driven fintech platform for LATAM SMEs

Global bank and tech platform Kapital announced they have closed an oversubscribed $40 million Series B equity financing round and $125 million debt raise. Tribe Capital led the Series B, with participation from Cervin Ventures, Tru Arrow, MS&AD Ventures, Alumni Ventures among others.

ALSO READ:
Thriving in a desert: Kapital’s evolution building fintech in a capital-scarce world - Tribe Capital

Since announcing a $23 million Series A funding round and $45 million debt facility in May 2023, Kapital has continued to grow rapidly, fueled by its acquisition of Banco Autofin Mexico S.A. in September 2023. With these developments, Kapital is building a vertically integrated tech platform stretching beyond its current reach of loans, credit cards, invoicing and expense management – into payroll and benefits services, as well as treasury accounts.

Kapital leverages data and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide SMEs with sophisticated enterprise technology that rivals what is typically only available for large corporations via ERPs. With a Kapital account, SMEs can see and manage their business cash flows in real-time dashboards.

Kapital will use the funds to invest further in its R&D and tech platform to strengthen its cross-border offering and grow its product suite to provide insights for its customers. For example, it is using predictive analytics to benchmark how these businesses can improve margins by selecting different vendors. Kapital already uses AI to underwrite loans to SMEs. SMEs represent 90% of businesses worldwide per the World Bank1, yet in Mexico they represent only 10.5% of the total bank credit available for businesses (OECD2).

"Our recent funding round will propel us forward as we embark on an exciting expansion across Latin America and beyond. Over 80,000 customers already entrust us with the financial health of their businesses, and we are introducing more AI-driven products while pushing into new markets," said Rene Saul, Kapital's CEO and Co-Founder. "We are grateful for the confidence our customers and our investors have shown in us, and we are excited for Kapital's bright future ahead."

"Kapital is punching way above its weight," said Arjun Sethi, Chairman and CIO at Tribe Capital. "So many financial platforms raise billions before achieving this level of success: They've not only achieved venture-scale growth in a fraction of the time, but they've also done so profitably. And they're just getting started: Kapital is in Latin America today, but the potential of the platform and the company's growth aspirations are very much global. I can't wait to see them grow from $100 million run rate revenue to $1 billion of revenue over the coming years."

About Kapital
Kapital is a global bank and tech platform that is leveraging AI to disrupt the way that small and medium size enterprises operate. Today it serves 80,000 clients in MexicoColombia and Peru, bringing them best-in-class enterprise tech that is typically available only to large companies, at a fraction of the cost. Kapital's vertically-integrated platform gives SMEs real-time visibility into their business operations and cash flows, while empowering seamless management of loans, payroll, benefits and invoicing. Learn more at https://www.kapital.mx/

1 World Bank SME Finance
2 30. Mexico | Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2022 : An OECD Scoreboard | OECD iLibrary (oecd-ilibrary.org)


Lightmatter raises $155M at $1.2B valuation to accelerate growth and expand photonic chip deployments

The photonic chip leader extends Series C round to meet the increasing demand of AI and high-performance computing

“To keep growing in the AI space, fundamental new technologies are needed - that’s what we’re doing at Lightmatter” - Lightmatter, CEO Nick Harris

ALSO READ:
Photonic Computing Startup Lightmatter Hits $1.2 Billion Valuation - Bloomberg

Announces new Toronto office, Danner Stodolskyas Vice President of Data Center Architecture, and Colin Sturt as General Counsel

Lightmatter, the leader in photonics, announced today it has raised a $155M Series C-2 led by GV (Google Ventures) and Viking Global Investors, with participation from others. With this round, Lightmatter has raised over $420 million to date and is now valued at over $1.2B. This new financing allows the company to expedite growth to meet the increasing demand for high-performance computing (HPC) from AI innovators. Lightmatter plans to expand its world-class team and office footprint while accelerating its ability to provide customers increased performance on the most advanced AI workloads.

“Lightmatter is positioned to be a key driver in powering the next generation of computing systems that will further enable AI innovation. Through photonic technologies, Lightmatter is ensuring the steady progress in computing performance continues, despite growing power consumption challenges and slowing progress with transistor scaling”

Post this

Lightmatter is developing photonic technologies that reconstruct how chips calculate and communicate, which can be leveraged by the biggest cloud providers, semiconductor companies, and enterprises for their computing needs. The company provides a full stack of photonics-enabled hardware and software solutions that simultaneously reduce power consumption and increase performance. This is essential for highly compute-intensive workloads such as AI, which have grown rapidly to affect every critical industry.

“Lightmatter is positioned to be a key driver in powering the next generation of computing systems that will further enable AI innovation. Through photonic technologies, Lightmatter is ensuring the steady progress in computing performance continues, despite growing power consumption challenges and slowing progress with transistor scaling,” said Lightmatter co-founder and CEO, Nick Harris. “We are thankful for the support of our investors, each of whom share our vision of Lightmatter playing an integral role in the future of computing. By increasing speed, lowering cost, and reducing environmental impact, our technologies can continue to push the limits of what’s possible, fueling greater AI adoption and innovation.”

“In the rapidly evolving landscape of generative AI, the demand for new compute and chip communication solutions is unprecedented,” said Erik Nordlander, General Partner at GV. “Lightmatter is harnessing the power of silicon photonics to meet this challenge, unlocking performance bottlenecks, increasing bandwidth, and allowing AI models to increase in size and scale.”

Since the company’s last funding announcement in May 2023, Lightmatter has grown its headcount more than 50% to meet client demand and product milestones. As a result of this expansion, Lightmatter plans to open a Toronto office in 2024. The company has also bolstered its leadership team, hiring Danner Stodolsky as Vice President of Data Center Architecture and Colin Sturt as General Counsel. Danner will lead the design, simulation and evaluation of large-scale systems based on Lightmatter's technology. Danner was previously Senior Vice President of Cloud at SambaNova and a Vice President of Engineering at Google. Colin will lead the legal and compliance functions to support Lightmatter’s growth, IP portfolio, and expansion of contractual relationships. He brings over 20 years of semiconductor industry experience to Lightmatter and was most recently Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Dialog Semiconductor.

About Lightmatter

Lightmatter is leading the revolution of computing, reducing impact on our planet, and enabling the next giant leaps in human progress. With the company’s photonics-enabled technologies, Lightmatter has reinvented how chips communicate and calculate. Its photonic interconnect and compute products simultaneously reduce the power consumption and increase the performance of silicon running the most advanced AI and HPC workloads.

Contacts

Media Contact:
John O’Brien
lightmatter@sbscomms.com


Fintech infrastructure platform Synctera launches embedded banking in Canada

Synctera's embedded banking platform launch comes nine months after the company landed a $15 million financing from the National Bank of Canada.

READ MORE:
Synctera raises $15M to help companies launch embedded banking products in Canada - Techcrunch

After getting its start in the United States, banking as a service (BaaS) platform Synctera has launched in Canada.

The platform allows organizations of various sizes, from small FinTech startups to major brands, to develop FinTech apps and embedded banking products — including bank accounts, card programs and lending — that are compliant with Canadian payments and banking regulations.

According to Synctera’s Drew Olanoff, the startup is now closing deals with an average annual contract value of $500,000 USD.

The Canadian platform will launch with bank account, card, and electronic fund transfer functionalities, with more features like bill payment planned for the future.

“We’ve had this aspiration for a really long time, effectively since we started the company,” Kris Hansen, Synctera’s co-founder and chief technology officer, told BetaKit in an interview.

Synctera was founded in 2020 by Peter Hazlehurst, former lead of Google Wallet and Uber Money, Hansen, former chief technology officer of Koho and Portag3 Ventures, and Dominik Weisserth.

Despite its Canadian-majority engineering team, the company initially launched its two-way marketplace in the US in 2021. Hansen said it was partly due to the country’s size and ultra-competitive banking industry, which has thousands of regional and community banks in addition to major financial institutions, and partly due to the regulatory complexity for Canadian FinTechs.

Fifty companies use Synctera in the U.S., including TipHaus, Float, Firstcard, Exo Freight, Waya and BTG, Latin America’s largest investment bank, and the company said it is launching between two to four more into production every month. Drew Olanoff, Synctera’s head of communications, said the company is now closing deals with an average annual contract value of $500,000 USD, and its biggest deals between $2 million and $3 million USD.

The company first revealed plans to expand to Canada in March, when it announced National Bank as its banking partner in Canada and a $15-million funding round from the bank’s corporate venture arm, NAventures, with participation from The Banc Funds, Veritex Community Bank, Midland States Bank and Emigrant Bank.

Hansen said Synctera began plotting its expansion after its Canadian employees saw the unique offerings being launched through the platform and weren’t able to try them out themselves.

“Friends in the engineering team and I would talk about solutions launching in the U.S. and a lot were really cool — ‘oh, I’d use that, that would be fun, boy I’d like to test that,’” he said. “We just started wondering what it would take to do this, and we had people imploring us to come to Canada.”

Hansen admitted the move was “daunting” to contemplate given the regulatory landscape Canadian FinTech startups need to navigate to launch compliant products.

Lisa Durnford, Synctera’s head of compliance in Canada, said the company sees itself as a “compliance starter pack” for FinTech customers, with embedded compliance solutions for navigating know-your-client, know-your-business, fraud and anti-money laundering requirements. It was the result of “collaborative conversations” with National Bank’s compliance teams to find ways to address common regulatory hurdles.

“It’s a known challenge in Canada that once you’re regulated as a money service business, or soon a payment service provider, it’s almost seen as a downside or a challenge, or often it’s so prohibitive that companies start to build in Canada and launch in the U.S. first,” said Durnford, who joined Synctera from Wealthsimple, where she was the company’s director of compliance and product risk.

“For a long time I found that to be so frustrating,” she said. “Businesses have great ideas and launch awesome products here and have a vision for what they want to build, but face challenges accessing banking, and the regulatory requirements are an upfront hurdle.”

Money service businesses (MSBs) are regulated by FINTRAC. She said it’s a broad category under anti-money laundering legislation that covers a wide variety of businesses. Because some types of money movement are considered high risk, there’s a perception that all such regulated businesses are risky. Synctera itself is regulated as an MSB.

“The most frustrating response, when you’re looking to build something and need a partner, is that it feels too risky and they’re not able to support it,” she said. “There’s something exciting about being able to embrace the money service business category and dig into what the risks are, how to manage them effectively and build a seamless path forward.”

Elena Litani, Synctera’s product lead for Canada, said that without a platform like Synctera’s, FinTechs often have to “piecemeal” a solution when building a new product for customers — finding a banking partner, establishing a relationship with a credit card provider, and figuring out the compliance process on their own. Litani said she struggled with that very problem when she co-founded FinTech startup Pillar, which shut down in April.

“It’s chilling for small businesses,” she said. “It’s very difficult to find partners — some have parts of [what you need] but none of them have everything.”

The platform is the same in both the U.S. and Canada, Hansen said, just with different back-end banking partners — creating a “relatively straightforward path” for U.S. companies to expand to Canada.

Synctera’s first Canadian customer, Toronto-based card program provider Yariex, is set to launch in the coming weeks. Yariex focuses on specialized cards for niche markets, including white-label cards and cards for non-governmental organizations. It is also working on a card program specifically for parents to give their children allowances. The company’s card programs allow the purchaser to put restrictions on the use of the card, as well as access to analytics on how money is being spent.

FinTech startups need to have a bank sponsor in order to issue cards. Vahid Abolhassani, co-founder and chief operating officer of Yariex, told BetaKit in an interview that with the National Bank partnership through Synctera, Yariex may be the first FinTech to be sponsored by one of the big six banks.

Yariex’s first offering — prepaid cards for Food Banks Canada that the charitable organization can distribute to its members to take the pressure off their grocery bills — is rolling out in January.

Abolhassani said Synctera did “a lot of the heavy lifting” to help the company navigate the bank’s compliance requirements and tailor them to the specialized nature of the card program, as well as with product testing to ensure the cards work once they’re out in the world.

Hansen said as Synctera has grown in the U.S., it’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the solutions that customers have created with its API “building blocks.” While he said the company’s target use case when it launched was supporting retail-focused FinTechs and challenger banks, he said customers have started to build commercial applications — including commercial banking solutions for purchasing buildings, supply chain finance and manufacturing companies creating account structures to help customers buy, move and distribute their products.

More open infrastructure in the U.S., and in particular the launch of the FedNow real-time rails over the summer, has allowed Synctera to build its offerings to those specifications, and for its customers to rethink their business dynamics, Hansen said.

In its fall economic statement, the federal government announced plans to introduce long-awaited legislation to implement consumer-directed finance — also known as open banking — in Budget 2024, and committed to amend the Canadian Payments Act to expand membership eligibility for Payments Canada, which is charged with delivering the real-time rail.

But Hansen said he believes the lack of open infrastructure to date “in general hampers innovation. … In Canada, in general, the mood around the real-time rail is we’ll see, but no one is building to it yet. It seems a bit more precarious. For FinTech V2, there’s not as much visioning around the art of the possible.”

Durnford said the company is aiming to enable more competition and innovation in the country. “Every company building in the space will benefit from continued conversation.”


ClearBank and LemFi partner to solve international payments challenges for immigrants

ClearBank, the enabler of real-time clearing and embedded banking for financial institutions, today announced its partnership with LemFi, a leading fintech platform transforming financial services for immigrants.

After finding that a sizable segment of the immigrant population was underbanked, LemFi was established to provide financial services for this demographic. Originally focused on offering payment services for the African diaspora in North America and Europe, last year, the payments company acquired Rightcard Payment Services in the UK, which holds an EMI license, allowing it to provide its customers with e-wallets. This year, LemFi raised $33 million in a Series A funding round led by Left Lane Capital. LemFi has now expanded its mission to build the future of international payments for everyone.

ClearBank is providing LemFi with agency banking services, powering its e-wallet offering in the UK to provide African immigrants with an alternative to traditional banking. LemFi selected ClearBank as its agency banking partner due to its reputation for facilitating robust payments and advanced banking infrastructure which supports local virtual accounts and access to secure UK payment rails.

“At LemFi, our mission has always been to make financial services accessible to everyone. By partnering with ClearBank, and leveraging its technology and banking licence, we are building a proposition that improves the quality and accessibility of financial services for emerging market immigrants. We are delighted with our relationship so far and as we continue to grow, we’re looking forward to expanding the relationship even further.” said LemFi CEO, Ridwan Olalere

The partnership has gone from strength to strength, with payment volumes up to 550,000 transactions in September 2023. This is in addition to 37,000 virtual accounts held with ClearBank for its e-wallet offering, with customer numbers continuing to grow each month.

“We’re excited about enabling LemFi to deliver on its mission through flexible, secure and compliant banking infrastructure. ClearBank is dedicated to partnering with organisations which make banking services more accessible, particularly to previously underserved populations. We’re thrilled to continue and expand our work with LemFi, not just as a business venture but as an opportunity to serve markets considered hard to reach.” - Chief Customer Officer John Salter


Cyber security leader Upfort partners with Arch Insurance to expand access to Cyber Insurance

Another big step forward from Upfort as they build they leading cyber security and insurance platform for SMBs. The partnership will focus on offering businesses security tools to make cyber insurance programs more sustainable.

Upfort, a cutting-edge cyber security and insurance platform, and Arch Insurance (Arch), a global provider of specialty risk insurance solutions and leading cyber insurance underwriter, today announced a strategic partnership to transform cyber insurance programs for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), associations and risk pools.

“At Arch Insurance, we’ve been thoughtfully growing our cyber brand to meet the needs of our customer base”

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With cyber insurance premiums expected to grow by 20 percent year-over-year until 2025, more market segments need to access coverage to protect against evolving cyber risks.

“We’re excited to join forces with Arch Insurance to revolutionize how cyber insurance is bought and sold,” said Josh Riley, Managing Director of Upfort. “By integrating our technology with Arch’s industry-leading insurance solutions, we’re accelerating the world’s journey toward cyber resilience. We are proud to be the partner of choice for Arch to expand its cyber offering.”

Upfort and Arch will work with brokers to develop group programs prioritizing broad insurance coverage, competitive pricing, embedded security solutions and a seamless digital experience. This will allow insurance agents and brokers to promote cyber resiliency at scale, in addition to fostering more meaningful and productive connections with clients and prospects.

Amid changing market conditions, Upfort empowers brokers to serve organizations that have traditionally been harder to insure, particularly in recent years. Combining powerful loss control and automated underwriting with a user-friendly, low-touch process, Upfort allows Arch’s brokers to efficiently meet the needs of these businesses.

“At Arch Insurance, we’ve been thoughtfully growing our cyber brand to meet the needs of our customer base,” said Jamie Schibuk, Executive Vice President, Professional Liability and Cyber at Arch Insurance. “Partnering with Upfort equips us with the tools to deliver a sophisticated solution that combines the financial strength and experienced incident response services we provide with the powerful yet practical security solutions that Upfort has to offer. With Upfort, we’re well positioned to lead the pack in the fastest-growing commercial insurance line of business in history.”

Upfort is taking cyber resilience a step further and is the first to embed cyber security solutions within every Upfort program policy at no additional cost to the insured or broker.

Today’s partnership announcement is the latest development amid a series of company milestones for Upfort. Earlier this year, Upfort announced its transition from Paladin Cyber to Upfort and the company’s Series A funding round.

To learn more about Upfort, visit upfort.com.

To learn more about Arch Insurance’s Cyber product offerings, visit https://insurance.archgroup.com/north-america/united-states/offering/cyber/.

About Upfort

Upfort is a leading platform for cyber security and insurance that provides holistic protection from evolving cyber threats. Founded in 2017 to expand global access to cyber resilience, Upfort makes cyber risk easy to manage and simple to insure. Upfort delivers turnkey security proven to proactively mitigate risk and comprehensive cyber insurance from leading insurers. With proprietary data and intelligent automation, Upfort’s AI anticipates risk and streamlines mitigation for hassle-free underwriting. Insurers, brokers, and risk advisors partner with Upfort to offer clients resilience and peace of mind against cyber threats. In 2023, Upfort won the coveted Fortress Cybersecurity Award from Business Intelligence Group and was recognized as Top Infosec Innovator by Cyber Defense Magazine. To learn more about Upfort, visit upfort.com.

About Arch Insurance North America

Arch Insurance North America, part of Arch Capital Group Ltd., includes Arch’s insurance operations in the United States and Canada. Business in the U.S. is written by Arch Insurance Company, Arch Specialty Insurance Company, Arch Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Arch Indemnity Insurance Company. Business in Canada is written by Arch Insurance Canada Ltd.

About Arch Capital Group Ltd.

Arch Capital Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: ACGL) is a publicly listed Bermuda exempted company with approximately $18.0 billion in capital at September 30, 2023. Arch, which is part of the S&P 500 Index, provides insurance, reinsurance and mortgage insurance on a worldwide basis through its wholly owned subsidiaries.

Contacts

Media Contacts:
Christina Levin
Caliber Corporate Advisers
upfort@calibercorporate.com

Stephanie Perez
Arch Capital Services, LLC
stperez@archgroup.com


Collective Audience NASDAQ:CAUD appoints digital advertising and media executive, Elisabeth Demarse to the Board of Directors

Collective Audience which recently listed on the Nasdaq: CAUD, a leading provider of audience-based performance advertising and media solutions, has appointed Elisabeth DeMarse as an independent member of its board of directors, and Chair of the compensation committee.

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“We welcome Elisabeth’s extensive executive and board experience at both private and public companies,” stated Suen. “Her more than a decade of experience as chief marketing officer at Bloomberg as well as having served as president and CEO of TheStreet makes Elisabeth a tremendous asset to our management team. She has helped transform and grow several companies, including AppNexus which was acquired by AT&T for $1.7 billion. She joins us at an opportune time as we pursue a number of prospective acquisitions, and we look forward to her guidance and insights as we take Collective Audience to the next level.”

DeMarse commented: “The digital advertising industry is primed for great change, and I see Collective Audience as well-positioned to disrupt the market with its digital advertising platform that uniquely eliminates inefficiencies from the digital ad buyer and seller process. Now as a Nasdaq company, it can leverage this stronger position to pursue strategic accretive acquisitions that complement its leading-edge technology and accelerate its growth.”

Elisabeth DeMarse Bio11

For more than 35 years, DeMarse has served on the board and in executive positions on several digital media and technology companies. She previously served as president, CEO, and chairman of the board of TheStreet (NASDAQ: TST), where she notably diversified the company from a B2C ad supported, retail stock picking business into a global B2B M&A, data, and news organization. Founded by Martin Peretz and Jim Cramer in 1996, TheStreet distinguished itself from other financial media companies with its journalistic excellence, unbiased approach, and interactive multimedia coverage of the financial markets, economy, industry trends, investment, and financial planning.

Earlier, DeMarse was CEO and president of CreditCards.com, which she created by consolidating numerous assets around the world, and eventually selling the company to Bankrate in 2010 for $145 million.

DeMarse also transformed iLife.com into Bankrate, engineering the turnaround of the company, driving exponential growth, and creating $450 million in shareholder value.

She spent a decade as chief marketing officer for Bloomberg, working directly for the founder, Michael Bloomberg, and was instrumental in the formation of several media properties.

DeMarse serves as a limited partner of Tritium Partners, a private equity firm focused on buyouts of growth companies in the lower middle market, with a focus on internet and information services, asset-light supply chain and logistics, and differentiated financial and business services.

She is also a limited partner at Kimbark, a family limited partnership that owns and operates commercial real estate. Earlier, she served as CEO and on the board of Newser, an American news aggregation website.

  • Kubient (Nasdaq: KBNT), a cloud advertising platform.
  • AppNexus, a global technology company with a cloud-based software platform powers and optimizes the programmatic sale and purchase of programmatic advertising. She also served on its compensation committee until it was acquired by AT&T for $1.7 billion.
  • ZipRealty, a Nasdaq-traded company and provider of solutions that empower real estate experts to thrive. She also served on the company’s compensation and audit committees until it was acquired by Realogy.
  • All Star Directories, an independent, employee-owned marketing and technology company focused on helping individuals advance their careers and improve their lives through education.
  • Internet Patents Corporation, a former Nasdaq-traded company and an operator of a patent licensing business focused on its e-commerce technologies. She also served on the company’s audit and governance committees.
  • InsWeb (acquired by Bankrate), an online insurance marketplace designed to allow consumers to compare insurance products and rate quotes from a variety of providers. She also served on the company’s audit and governance committees. 
  • EDGAR-Online, a division of OTC Markets Group and a premium supplier of real-time SEC regulatory data and financial analytics. She also served on the company’s compensation and audit committees.
  • Heska (acquired by Mars), a former Nasdaq-traded company and a purpose-driven business, supporting veterinary professionals globally. She also served on the company’s audit committee. 

DeMarse previously served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Austin Ventures, where she worked together via DeMarseCo. The company’s thesis is to provide growth equity for buyouts, spinouts, recaps rollups and acquisitions in the consumer internet sector. Its acquisitions have included AllStarDirectories, ClickSuccess and Freedom Marketing.

DeMarse has received numerous awards, including Working Mother of the Year, Folio’s Top Women in Media, Dealmaker of the Year, Most Intriguing Person in Media, Girls Scouts Woman of the Year, NOW Woman of Power and Influence, Fast Company 50, Inc. 500 and ACG Award for Outstanding Corporate Growth.

DeMarse received her AB in History from Wellesley College and MBA from Harvard Business School.

About Collective Audience
Collective Audience is a U.S.-based provider of e-commerce and digital customer acquisition solutions that simplifies digital advertising. It provides data-driven, end-to-end marketing through its results solutions or access to data for activating campaigns across multiple channels.

The company’s digital marketing business includes a holistic, self-serve AdTech platform, a proprietary data-driven, AI-powered system that enables brands and agencies to advertise across thousands of the world’s leading digital media and connected TV platforms.

To learn more, visit collectiveaudience.co.

Investor Contact:
Ron Both

CMA Investor Relations
Tel (949) 432-7566
Email contact

Media Contact:
Tim Randall

CMA Media Relations
Tel (949) 432-7572
Email contact


Innovative cyber security and insurance platform Upfort closes $8m Series A to scale

We couldn't be more excited to be a part of Upforts journey and close their Series A to accelerate their platform. They have cracked the AI, data-driven code to build a highly scalable cyber security married with a cyber insurance product offering.

Upfort, a pioneering cyber security and insurance platform, has raised a substantial $8m in a recent Series A funding round. Funding propels Upfort’s efforts to empower businesses in building cyber resilience.

The round was spearheaded by SYN Ventures and saw significant contributions from Eniac Ventures and Fika Ventures. Notably, the latter two had co-led Upfort’s seed round.

Upfort, a cutting-edge cyber security and insurance platform, today announced it has raised $8 million in a Series A funding round led by SYN Ventures, with participation of Eniac Ventures and Fika Ventures, which co-led Upfort’s seed round. This investment advances Upfort’s goal to simplify the way brokers and insurers sell insurance and shield their clients from cyber threats – a trillion dollar drain on the economy, with ransomware attacks alone affecting 66% of organizations in 2022.

Upfort revolutionizes how cyber risk is assessed and managed, empowering insurers and brokers to dramatically reduce their clients’ exposure to cyber attacks. In fact, in a recent 18-month study of a leading cyber insurance program, policyholders that fully implemented Upfort Shield saw significantly fewer security breaches and claims, with the likelihood of filing a claim decreasing by 80%. Upfort allows organizations to fully address their cyber security needs–from risk management tools to insurance policies–through one easy-to-use platform.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support of all of our investors, including SYN Ventures, as we fundamentally transform the economics of cyber risk. Today’s announcement is a testament to their trust and support of our work to bolster cyber resilience for companies worldwide.”

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“Upfort was founded as a comprehensive cyber platform to safeguard businesses against evolving threats and new risks. The new investment will enable us to build on these efforts as we continue our mission of accelerating the world’s journey toward cyber resilience,” said Xing Xin, Upfort CEO and Co-Founder. “We are grateful for the ongoing support of all of our investors, including SYN Ventures, as we fundamentally transform the economics of cyber risk. Today’s announcement is a testament to their trust and support of our work to bolster cyber resilience for companies worldwide.”

Businesses can leverage the best in modern cyber protection by partnering with Upfort, and there are a myriad of benefits to them, including transforming a historically cumbersome and costly process: cyber insurance underwriting. Upfort’s proprietary cybersecurity technology streamlines the cyber insurance purchase and underwriting process for brokers, insurers and their clients. These offerings holistically protect organizations against the leading causes of cyber claims. Upfort’s AI-powered email protection, network defense, security training, and ongoing monitoring are trained on and tuned to prevent incidents causing widespread financial damage to businesses.

“At SYN Ventures, we wholeheartedly believe in the Upfort team’s vision–and ability–to transform the way businesses approach cyber security protection and resilience overall,” said Ryan Permeh, Operating Partner at SYN Ventures. “In an age of rising cybercrime, Upfort equips organizations with the tools they need to protect themselves against the threat of cyberattacks, prevent losses, and analyze risk more intelligently. We are excited to spearhead the Series A funding round for Upfort - can’t wait to see all it does next.”

The Series A fund was led by SYN Ventures, with additional participation from Eniac Ventures, Fika Ventures, Altai Ventures, Chaos Ventures, Aquila Capital Partners, Gaingels and Cyber Mentor Fund.

Today’s announcement comes amid a series of pivotal developments and company milestones for Upfort. Last month, Upfort announced its transition from Paladin Cyber to Upfort, reflecting the company’s expanded capabilities as a one-stop shop for businesses’ cyber security and insurance needs. To learn more about Upfort, visit upfort.com.

About Upfort

Upfort is a leading platform for cyber security and insurance that provides holistic protection from evolving cyber threats. Founded in 2017 to expand global access to cyber resilience, Upfort makes cyber risk easy to manage and simple to insure. Upfort delivers turnkey security proven to proactively mitigate risk and comprehensive cyber insurance from leading insurers. With proprietary data and intelligent automation, Upfort’s AI anticipates risk and streamlines mitigation for hassle-free underwriting. Insurers, brokers, and risk advisors partner with Upfort to offer clients resilience and peace of mind against cyber threats. To learn more about Upfort, visit upfort.com.

Contacts

Media Contact:
Christina Levin
Caliber Corporate Advisers
upfort@calibercorporate.com