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Balderton Capital gearing up to invest in Swedish e-scooter startup VOI – TechCrunch

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We already knew that the electronic scooter space in Europe was heating up, with Berlin’s Tier announcing today it has raised €25 million in a round led by Northzone, and rumours circulating that Delivery Hero founder Lukasz Gadowski has ventured into the space — all within the context of U.S. companies Bird and Lime recently expanding to Europe. However, now it seems that Balderton Capital could be about to make its move by investing in Sweden’s VOI Technology, another e-scooter rental play with pan-European ambitions.

According to multiple sources, the London-based venture capital firm is gearing up to lead a round in Stockholm-based VOI. Two sources say the amount being invested is $15 million at a pre-money valuation of between $35-40 million, while another source said it could be as much as $25 million. Separately, I’m hearing that with multiple term sheets on the table and the pace at which the company is growing, VOI is actually considering increasing the round to $50 million.

Other VC firms thought to be participating are Berlin’s Project A, and Netherland-based Prime Ventures.

To date, VOI has raised around just shy of $3 million in seed funding from Vostok New Ventures.

I contacted Balderton Capital earlier today, but haven’t heard back. A spokesperson for Project also declined to comment. Neither Prime Ventures or VOI could be reached at the time of publication.

What is particularly noteworthy about Balderton’s entrance into the e-scooter market is that three of the other “big four” London VC firms have already made U.S. investments in the space. Index and Accel have backed Bird, and Atomico has backed Lime.

As I noted in my earlier Tier funding story — which marked the biggest financial backing for a European company in the space to date — this isn’t stopping a number of European investors getting busy trying to create the “Bird or Lime of Europe,” even if it is far from clear that Bird or Lime won’t take that title for themselves (which is obviously the bet being made by Index, Accel and Atomico). The general sentiment of European VCs steadfastly trying to nurture a European born competitor is that they don’t want to see the e-scooter rental market be rolled over by the U.S. in the same way that Uber rode in and knocked out many local players.

With that said, the worse case scenario in the eyes of many of those same VCs (and those VCs standing on the sidelines not participating) is that Bird or Lime will eventually acquire the most promising European e-scooter company or companies. In other words, the downside is mitigated somewhat, failing an outright home run.

Meanwhile, Tier, VOI and Gadowski’s Go Flash aren’t the only European born e-scooter startups with pan-European ambitions. There’s also Coup, an e-scooter subsidiary owned by Bosch and backed by BCG Digital Ventures that operates in Berlin, Paris and Madrid. And just two month’s ago Taxify announced its intention to do e-scooter rentals under the brand Bolt, first launched in Paris but also planning to be pan-European, including Germany.

Not that everyone is convinced. Two early-stage European VCs I spoke to today said they hated the space. “I just don’t understand, isn’t it going to be a massive bloodbath?” said one of the VCs, before questioning the total number of rides we could see in Europe annually. “I just don’t see how Europe is going to produce multiple multibillion dollar businesses in this space. I think the market size caps it”.

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Today’s Wordle Answer #537 – December 8, 2022 Solution And Hints

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The solution to today’s Wordle puzzle (#537 – December 8, 2022) is infer. It’s from Middle French “inferer,” itself from Latin inferre, which literally means “to carry or bring into” (via Merriam-Webster).

Like yesterday, we were lucky enough to solve the puzzle in only three tries today. Our opening guess, banjo, beat down the number of possible answers from the standard 2,315 to 174. The next guess, inked, further shrunk the pool to just six possible answers, and after that, we made a lucky third guess.

WordleBot solved the puzzle in just as many tries, although its approach was slightly different: as usual, its first guess was the recommended starting word, slate. It followed that with the word diner, and then it hit the home run on the third try. We hope you have even better luck, but if you don’t find this article early enough to solve the puzzle on time, here are other games like Wordle to try.

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Amazon Sued Over Allegedly Stealing Tips From Delivery Drivers

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Per AG Racine, in 2016 Amazon instituted a new payment strategy whereby, rather than adding customer tips to a Flex driver’s overall compensation, the company used it to pay wages the driver had already earned. That allowed Amazon, in effect, to pocket the difference, treating the tips as company profits and using them to drive down costs rather than giving workers what they’d earned.

That’s only the prosecutorial side of the story, of course. At the same time, Amazon definitely has a difficult position going into the case – they quietly reimbursed drivers for tips stolen in this manner as part of a settlement with the FTC (via FTC). AG Racine’s allegation, therefore, is less whether Amazon did or did not stiff its Flex drivers – as a matter of record, they did. The issue is whether they have unlawfully escaped punishment for doing so.

That said, past failings do not equal present wrongdoing. The question of what penalties the world’s largest retailer should suffer for its failures and who is entitled to enforce them depends on the legal system, and the legal system has not yet rendered a verdict.

For now, Amazon itself has remained silent on AG Racine’s accusation, as it generally has in cases where the facts are not absolutely damning. As the case proceeds, Amazon’s legal team will no doubt have a great deal to say.

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A Beautiful But Shallow Next-Gen Racer

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While “Heat” took place in a coastal Miami-like city, “Unbound” moves to Lakeshore, an obvious proxy for Chicago. The downtown area of the map looks gorgeous, especially at night. Lit skyscrapers make up your horizon, and painted lanterns add characteristic flavor to the Chinatown area. 

Occasionally, you’ll catch a beautiful sunset over Lakeshore’s harbor. It all blends perfectly with the Frostbite engine’s advanced lighting, and the presentation is wonderful. Forested areas, rock quarries, and driveable rain gutters add some more variety to the city’s outskirts.

In a gameplay context, the Lakeshore map isn’t very large, and this isn’t necessarily a problem. For instance, Criterion’s own “Burnout Paradise” crams a ton of action into its Paradise City map which would be considered tiny nowadays. However, Lakeshore doesn’t live up to that standard. Despite being small, it lacks variance in gameplay, and fairly recent titles like “The Crew 2” manage to outclass it in both map size and density.

There’s very little verticality while driving. I would’ve liked to see some under-construction skyscrapers that allow the player to drive up and through them, plus more opportunities for jumps. The rain gutter areas are some of the only places it felt like the designers really got creative. The environment in Unbound is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, but the gameplay underneath is actually quite bland and by the numbers. It’s like cutting into an expensive multi-tiered cake only to realize that the batter underneath is dry and unflavored.

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