January 17, 2021


LONDON (Reuters) – Former London Stock Exchange boss Xavier Rolet has joined a newly-launched “blank check” company that is hunting for technology deals across Europe under the leadership of ex Barclays banker Makram Azar.

FILE PHOTO: Xavier Rolet in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The special purpose acquisition company, named Golden Falcon Acquisition Corp, will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a fundraising goal of $250 million (187 million pounds), a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed.

So-called blank check companies are shell vehicles that raise cash on the stock market and hunt for a private company to take public.

Rolet, who left the LSE in 2017, will serve as an independent director of the new vehicle, the SEC filing showed.

Lebanese-born Azar – a 53-year old former KKR managing director who spent a decade at Barclays in senior executive roles – will serve as chief executive of Golden Falcon, while former Investcorp Europe CEO Scott Freidheim will become the company’s chairman.

Golden Falcon will focus primarily on companies in Europe providing a wide spectrum of technology expertise.

“While we may pursue an initial business combination with any target business and in any sector or geographical location, we intend to focus our search on companies operating in the technology, media, telecommunications and fintech sectors,” the filing said.

Azar has been eyeing technology investments since he left Barclays in 2019, where he was chairman of banking for EMEA and also leading Barclays Bank PLC in the Middle East and North Africa.

Last year he launched his own private investment and advisory group, Full Circle Capital.

Other directors who joined Golden Falcon’s board include Eutelsat Communications chairman Dominique D’Hinnin and Mikael Breuer-Weil who co-founded investment management boutique Marylebone Partners in 2013.

The special purpose acquisition company is offering up to 28.7 million units – inclusive of a greenshoe option – at $10 apiece. Each unit consists of one share of common stock and half a warrant, exercisable at $11.50.

UBS, Moelis and EarlyBirdCapital Inc are working on the deal.

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia. Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter

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Get in, loser, we’re doing Big Data.


It’s tough to get around the fact that Big Data has its claws in just about everything, up to and including your personal vehicle. That’s about to become even truer thanks to the Tuesday announcement of a partnership between Amazon Web Services and BlackBerry.

The partnership involves BlackBerry’s in-car data integration and monitoring platform, IVY. What does this mean for you, the consumer? On a surface level, nothing. But for automakers, it’s a different story. IVY will let them collect sensor data and offer up insights based on that data.

Those insights could be used to improve safety tech in cars, speed up self-driving car development or possibly even warn drivers about hazards on their route. IVY will also allow vehicle developers to more easily integrate features like over-the-air updates into platforms without having to create their own systems from scratch.

“This software platform promises to bring an era of invention to the in-vehicle experience and help create new applications, services and opportunities without compromising safety, security or customer privacy. We are pleased to expand our relationship with AWS to execute this vision and deliver BlackBerry IVY,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement.

This partnership’s announcement has boosted BlackBerry’s stock prices, with share pricing leaping by over 52% at the time of publication.

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In the latest management shakeup under new CEO Jim Farley, Ford announced the hiring of a global chief marketing officer from eBay and the retiring of the automaker’s director of quality and new model launch program.

A few questions with Kumar Galhotra



In addition, the man hired to be the new chief software and information officer left his new role at Ford after lasting less than one work week.

Farley, who assumed the top job on Oct. 1 at the 117-year-old carmaker, has been very outspoken about the need to move aggressively and quickly to get things in order after a rough 2019 and challenging 2020.

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He replaced the company’s relatively new chief financial officer on Day 1 while telling industry analysts that he’s assembling a top team to take the iconic company into a future filled with technology that includes electrification.

Suzy Deering smiling for the camera: Ford Motor Company announces Suzy Deering as the new global chief marketing officer.

© Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Company announces Suzy Deering as the new global chief marketing officer.

Suzy Deering

Suzy Deering, 51, will begin her role as global chief marketing officer on Jan. 4 after more than five years as worldwide and North America CMO at eBay, Ford said Tuesday.

She will succeed Joy Falotico, who will dedicate herself solely to being president of the Lincoln luxury brand. Falotico has managed both global marketing and Lincoln for the past three years.

“It makes sense to split the jobs,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader.com. “That was an awful lot for one person.”

Farley has said he is emphasizing the need to add technology skill to the team, and Deering has experience using technology, data and analytics to anticipate customer needs and tailor strategy to respond.

She will modernize marketing, drive brand strategy and best practices while running all marketing operations in North America. Ford emphasized the importance of this role, as North America generates more than 70% of Ford’s automotive revenue, including customer intelligence and product and consumer marketing.

Data analytics is an increasingly lucrative area for companies, including automotive.

“We’re putting more decision-making in the hands of our people who are closest to customers,” Kumar Galhotra, president, Ford Americas and International Markets Group, said in a news release. “That makes marketing more important than ever and Suzy’s world-class background will be vital to modernizing our approach, dialing-up our understanding of customer ambitions and redefining our brands to help us grow.”

Galhotra will supervise Deering.

“Technology will be a powerful part of Ford’s transformation and how we enhance and release the huge value of our iconic brands,” Deering said in a statement. “My team will be involved from end-to-end on behalf of customers — better connecting with them, using data to foresee and deliver what they need, and earning and keeping their trust.”

At eBay, Deering helped “revive the global e-commerce company’s brand and enable a sharp increase in revenue over the past two years,” Ford


SAN DIEGO, Nov. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — SmartDrive Systems, a leader in video-based safety and transportation intelligence and part of Omnitracs, has been named the inaugural winner of AutoTech Breakthrough’s Overall Transportation Tech of the Year Award. SmartDrive was recognized for its innovation, hard work and success in helping commercial fleets reduce risk, improve safety and enhance operational efficiency.

“We are honored to have been selected by the AutoTech Breakthrough Awards and proud of this prestigious third-party confirmation of our long-term industry leadership,” said Steve Mitgang, SmartDrive CEO. “Ensuring the safety of often unsung heroes — our nation’s truck drivers — has long been SmartDrive’s core objective. It’s what drives our continued commitment to product innovation.”

For more than 15 years, SmartDrive has worked diligently to transform the commercial transportation industry through best-in-class video-based safety and transportation intelligence solutions. By providing fleets and drivers with a fully managed program – combined with video event recording technology, patented vehicle data, predictive analysis, telematics, computer vision and machine learning – the system works to improve driving skills, reduce collision frequency and lower operating costs. The company has garnered 60 patents, recorded more than 25 billion driving miles, and has the world’s largest storehouse of over 310 million analyzed risky-driving events.

SmartDrive offers the industry’s first video-based solution capable of true data convergence and has partnered with several prominent companies. With the introduction of the SmartDrive Transportation Intelligence Platform and SR4 hardware, the platform delivers breakthrough driving performance insights and analytics-based intelligence by fusing data from all systems, sensors and the operating environment.

AutoTech Breakthrough is part of the Tech Breakthrough organization, which specializes in conducting market research and recognition programs in today’s most competitive technology sectors, including IoT, Cybersecurity, Mobile/Wireless, Digital Health, FinTech, and now the AutoTech sector. Organizations across the world submitted more than 1,250 nominations for the first-ever AutoTech Breakthrough Awards.

About SmartDrive Systems

SmartDrive Systems, now part of Omnitracs, gives fleets and drivers unprecedented driving performance insight and analysis, helping save fuel, expenses and lives. Its video safety, predictive analytics, telematics, compliance and personalized performance program help fleets improve driving skills, lower operating costs and deliver significant ROI. With an easy-to-use managed service, fleets and drivers can access and self-manage driving performance anytime, anywhere. The company, which is ranked as one of the fastest growing companies by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™ for six consecutive years, has recorded over 25 billion miles and compiled the world’s largest storehouse of more than 310 million analyzed risky-driving events. SmartDrive Systems is based in San Diego, Calif., and employs over 725 people worldwide.

For more information on SmartDrive Systems and Omnitracs, please visit www.smartdrive.net and www.omnitracs.com.

Contact or Follow SmartDrive on:
Email – [email protected]
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/smartdrivesystemsinc
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/smartdriveinc
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/smartdrivesystemsinc
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/company/smartdrive-systems

SOURCE SmartDrive Systems

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a man standing in front of a blue car: FILE PHOTO: VW shows electric SUV "ID 4" during a photo workshop

© Reuters/Matthias Rietschel
FILE PHOTO: VW shows electric SUV “ID 4” during a photo workshop

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen announced plans to spend more on digital technology, saying on Friday it would be crucial to have a leading position in car software in the changing mobility sector.

It will spend 73 billion euros ($86 billion) on electric and hybrid cars technology and digitalization over the next five years, or around half of its total investment budget of around 150 billion euros, it said.

That is up from 60 billion, or 40% of investments, it announced in last year’s five-year plan.

“The transformation of the company and its brands as well as the strategic focus on the core mobility areas will be consistently implemented,” supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said.

Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess said last month that the company would tweak its strategy to maintain investment momentum for developing electric and autonomous cars as it tries to make up for lost revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the plan presented on Friday, Volkswagen is doubling its planned spending on digitalization to 27 billion euros, as it seeks to develop a seamless, software-based vehicle operating system, it said.

Around 35 billion euros of the money will be invested in e-mobility, and 11 billion euros have been earmarked for the development of new hybrid cars, it added.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Edward Taylor)

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On the desolate streets of Manhattan during the bleak early days of the pandemic, Rosemary Sigelbaum found that riding a bicycle to work at Lenox Hill Hospital offered a desperately needed respite from the stress of 12-hour days witnessing the worst of the coronavirus’s frightening effects.

“It was quiet, and on my way home it gave me time to decompress,” Ms. Sigelbaum said of her commute between the Upper East Side and her home on the Lower East Side.

Those empty avenues of late March have given way to the city’s usual cacophony of traffic, just as more people are discovering the advantages of cycling to work: no crowded subways, buses or shared taxis. Bicycle companies have posted out-of-stock notices for the first time in years. Sales in May skyrocketed 103 percent compared with a year earlier, according to the NPD Group, a research firm.

But as all those new bikers are discovering the joys of cycling, they’re also discovering the dangers of riding on two wheels, especially in cities.

Even before the pandemic, bicycle fatalities in New York nearly tripled last year, to 29, from 10 in 2018. This year, at least 14 people on bicycles have been killed. With more bikes plying the streets with cars, buses and trucks, there’s more pressure than ever to find ways to make the roads safer, for everyone.

The best safety measures are those that keep bicyclists and motor vehicles apart, advocates say. Many cycling advocates are trying to capitalize on the pandemic popularity of bicycles to push for more dedicated bike lanes.

It is “the primary method of addressing bicycle safety,” said Kyle Wagenschutz at People for Bikes, an advocacy group. Indeed, cities including Milan, Paris and New York have been adding miles of bike lanes this year, with more planned.

Still, bicycles and cars will have to get along, and safety researchers are increasingly looking to technology for answers.

Last fall in Turin — before that area of Italy became a pandemic epicenter — a wobbly cyclist skirted a line of parked cars on a jammed suburban street as a large sedan rapidly approached from behind. In the morning drizzle, the driver was focused on a four-way stop that was coming up. Suddenly a warning graphic flashed on a display above the dashboard, indicating that a bicyclist was directly ahead, and the driver slowed to give the rider more room.

Such encounters are part of a future vision of bicycle-to-vehicle communications that could help prevent accidents. The Turin demonstration, supported by Fiat Chrysler and the 5G Automotive Association trade group, involved a 5G wireless program meant to illustrate the advantages of high-speed communications among cars, bicycles, traffic systems and city infrastructure. (This has an alphabet soup nickname, C-V2X, for “cellular vehicle-to-everything.”)

The LINKS Foundation, a tech company, had outfitted the demo bicycle with a global navigation device to determine its precise location and a 5G transceiver to convey that information to nearby vehicles. The concept envisions a future where everything