The Russian Startup for Trading Stocks and Gold With Cryptocurrency Has Stopped Accepting U.S. Investors

In the world of startups, there’s never a dull moment. Just when you think you’re cruising along with incredible momentum, a curveball out of your control can cause you to adjust in mid-stride and navigate macro-headwinds.

Valentin Preobrazhensky had a simple and brilliant idea in December 2013. He wanted to develop a peer-to-peer marketplace to increase the transparency and lower the deal costs of home loans in emerging markets so that more investors could enter, and banks could more efficiently sell loans off of their balance sheets at a fair market value.

With a background in hedge funds and marketplace software development, he launched AIBanks, rebranded to LA Token earlier this year, which has become one of the most interesting cryptocurrency startups. By 2016 he had built real traction around the platform. 25 investors and seven banks had successfully completed over 1,000 transactions through the platform.

And just when it seems that nothing can slow this entrepreneur and his team down the industry gets a dose of regulatory reality that forces them to make some on the fly adjustments in the last 24 hours as the SEC uncovered two major unrelated frauds that sent yet another ripple through the cryptocurrency markets.

Preobrazhensky and his fans now face some notable skeptics like the Financial Times and plenty of other real-time decisions to navigate as LA Token announced today that it will no longer sell tokens to U.S. investors on the heels of the breaking news overnight and fraud cases filed against two other ICOs by the SEC.

The drama leading up to the announcement

LA Token, which stands for “Liquid Asset Token Protocol,” was explained to me as a mechanism that makes sure that the link between a token and underlying asset is legally and technically enforceable. It enables a peer-to-peer contractual rights transfer between the two parties.

The first trade of tokenized Apple stock occurred on the platform this past August 19, and spawned the opening of the company’s ICO a week later. In just three days, the company attracted over $ 10 million from approximately 3,000 contributors. The money is being used, according to Preobrazhensky, to fund the full platform trading development to allow global real estate assets to be tokenized and traded through the platform.

The second and third rounds of LA Token’s ICO attracted an additional $ 7 million in the last 30 days to allow for the development of the debt and commodities exchanges. They were poised to close out the final round of their ICO in the coming week with a hard cap of $ 40 million.

This would allow them to fund the development of the full release of complimentary exchanges for trading rare works of art and other more illiquid hard assets without a middleman.

In a video chat via Whatsapp this week, a spokesperson told me, “We have a solid core business, team, and value proposition. We believe we can capture up to $ 400 billion of the total trading volume in the market by 2020 and over $ 1.2 trillion of the trading volume by 2025 through our platform.”

Several big names also believe him and are on the board or advisory team, including Cecilia Mueller Chen (former COO of UBS, chief compliance officer at China Construction Bank and chief regulatory officer at Deutsche Borse), Mike Jones (former CEO, MySpace), and Anish Mohamed (Hyperloop and HSBC advisor).

Why this story matters

LA Token is interesting because it’s setting out to build a bridge between “the crypto economy and real economies” according to the company’s website. It does this by providing a decentralized exchange that enables investors to trade non-bank and non-digital (hard) assets, from Apple or Tesla stock to rare works of art, using cryptocurrencies.

The fascinating innovation is that in the very complicated and volatile world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies, LA Token seems to have zeroed in on a trillion-dollar niche. They aim to become a bridge to merge the two worlds of centralized banking and Wall Street trading with the wild west of decentralized cryptocurrency investors for a potential healthy marriage of opposites.

This is definitely a story to watch in the coming weeks. As entrepreneurs, we can all relate to the roller coaster ride and highs and lows–and I look forward to watching seeing how Preobrazhensky stays level-headed with his team to navigate stormy waters.

A disclosure: I don’t own any LAT in my portfolio. I am not a registered investment advisor or qualified in any way to provide investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies is highly risky and volatile.

Tech

Indonesian e-commerce startup Kioson shares jump 50 percent on debut

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Shares of Indonesian e-commerce startup PT Kioson Komersial Indonesia Tbk surged 50 percent on its trading debut on Thursday.

The company sold 150 million shares at 300 rupiah each in its initial public offering to raise 45 billion rupiah ($ 3.3 million), it said in a statement.

The stock was trading at 450 rupiah as of 0208 GMT on the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Bosch partners with startup Nikola on electric long-haul truck

DETROIT (Reuters) – Bosch, the German auto components supplier, is partnering with startup Nikola Motor Co to bring two hydrogen-electric, long-haul, heavy-duty truck models to market by 2021, the companies said on Tuesday.

The market for electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks is in its infancy, but has drawn a growing crowd of competitors.

Manufacturers such as Daimler and Navistar International Corp, as well as electric car maker Tesla Inc and a host of other new entrants, are racing to overcome the challenges of substituting batteries for diesel engines as regulators crack down on carbon dioxide and soot pollution.

Bosch and Nikola will jointly develop a powertrain, which transmits drive from the engine of a vehicle to its axle, using Bosch’s eAxle technology. Bosch, which had 73.1 billion euros ($ 87 billion) in sales in 2016, has been shifting away from traditional combustion engine technologies to zero-emission vehicles.

The vehicle uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power the electric motor. Hydrogen fuel cells are easier and quicker to charge than batteries and have a longer range.

The Nikola One and Nikola Two models are both supposed to have a range of between 800 miles to 1,200 miles, an electric powertrain and zero emissions.

Bosch and Salt Lake City-based Nikola said the eAxle system will be paired with a jointly developed “custom-designed fuel cell system,” and hope the powertrain will achieve “segment-leading performance at a competitive total cost of ownership.”

High battery costs are a significant hurdle to mass adoption of electric vehicles as they limit vehicle range and size. Industry executives like Navistar Chief Executive Officer Troy Clarke say that in the short term, electric package delivery vehicles in urban areas with short, predictable routes will be the main area for competition until battery prices come down.

Last week Daimler said United Parcel Service Inc will be the first U.S. commercial customer for its new battery-powered eCanter package delivery truck. The company hopes to expand electric truck production as lower-cost, longer-range batteries become available within two to three years.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted last week that the Silicon Valley company would show off a prototype of an electric semi-trailer truck on Oct. 26.

Reuters reported last month that Tesla’s semi is expected to offer a range of 200 miles to 300 miles, far less than the 1,000 miles for some diesel-powered counterparts that U.S. long-haul truckers use.

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Salesforce plans to acquire data center optimization startup Coolan

Salesforce.com has signed a definite agreement to acquire Coolan, the developer of a platform for data center hardware analysis and optimization.

The acquisition appears to be designed to help Salesforce boost its own infrastructure for its customer relationship management software.

“Once the transaction has closed, the Coolan team will help Salesforce optimize its infrastructure as it scales to support customer growth around the world,” Amir Michael, Coolan’s cofounder and CEO wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

A Salesforce spokeswoman confirmed the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Replay’s proprietary freeD format uses high-resolution cameras and compute-intensive graphics to let viewers see and experience sporting events from any angle. (Source: Replay Technologies)

Intel has acquired the Israeli startup Replay Technologies to capitalize on its technology for creating instant replays of sports events that are viewable from all angles.

The technology is a piece of Intel’s grand plan to digitize sports, or to bring the magic of computing power, measurement, and sensors to real-world sports.

“More than ever, everything in sports is becoming digital and measurable,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, in a blog post. “This will fundamentally change everything we know about the way athletes perform — and the arenas in which they compete.”

Intel recently collaborated with Replay Technologies to create 360-degree replays of NFL football games. At the recent NBA All-Star Weekend, Intel and Replay delivered another immersive 3D viewing experience that showcased Replay’s “free dimensional” or freeD video, where a play is frozen in mid-action and then rotated so it can be viewed from multiple angles. Intel says that is just a taste of what’s to come, and it leverages Intel’s server technology. Replay created 28 ultra high-definition cameras around the basketball arena to make the video possible.

Replay Technologies CEO Oren Yogev said in a statement, “We are extremely excited with this transaction, which we believe will be a winning proposition for everyone involved. The strategic fit between our two companies is a powerful combination; the Replay team is enthusiastic about joining Intel. This transaction will allow us to accelerate Replay’s advanced technology plans, offer advanced services to our clients and provide increased opportunities to our employees.”

The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Replay was founded in 2011.

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