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Investor momentum builds for construction tech – TechCrunch

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Although it’s not the sexiest of industries, the hefty construction sector in 2018 attracted not only the attention but, more importantly, the dollars of investors.

Historically, the multi-trillion-dollar sector has been slow to adopt new technologies, as builders rely on a variety of disparate systems to manage projects, traditional building methods to construct homes and non-smart materials.

But a wave of startups is looking to capitalize on opportunities within the sector. Companies that have developed software solutions aimed at streamlining processes and increasing efficiencies are increasingly common. Prefab construction has evolved thanks to innovation in that space, and 3D printing technology can create homes in a matter of days.

Investors are taking notice. Funding in U.S.-based construction technology startups surged by 324 percent, to nearly $3.1 billion in 2018 compared with $731 million in 2017, according to Crunchbase data. While the 2018 numbers are impressive, it’s important to note that a few large rounds did take place last year and thus skewed the results. One startup alone, Menlo Park-based Katerra, brought in $865 million from SoftBank Vision Fund, RiverPark Ventures and Four Score Capital in a Series D round last January. And, smart glass company View closed a $1.1 billion Series H in November. Also, Procore, a (unicorn) provider of cloud-based construction management applications, in December raised a $75 million Series H round from Tiger Global Management.

Without those two rounds, the construction tech sector saw just $1.135 billion in funding in 2018, up a more modest 55 percent over 2017’s totals.

The industry continues to see M&A activity. Larger software companies are recognizing that it makes more sense to acquire companies in this space rather than try to reinvent the wheel from within. For example, in the fourth quarter of last year, 3D design software provider Autodesk announced plans to acquire two cloud-based software startups in the space: PlanGrid for $875 million and BuildingConnected for $275 million. Publicly traded software developer Trimble in July acquired construction management software startup Viewpoint for $1.2 billion.

Jerry Chen, partner at Greylock Partners, is bullish on the sector and expects 2019 will only see more funding and acquisitions. His firm invested in San Francisco-based Rhumbix, which has raised $28.6 million to grow its mobile platform designed for the construction craft workforce. That company, he says, had a “record year” in terms of customers and users.

“2018 was an inflection point for the construction tech industry,” Chen told Crunchbase News. “Major venture investing and strategic M&A by incumbent players continued… and I think you will see other major enterprise software companies begin to invest more in construction in 2019.”

One construction tech startup founder, Nick Carter of Chicago-based IngeniousIO, believes that despite the big numbers, the industry has a ways to go in terms of true startup growth. Part of that is simply due to one thing: tech founders and some investors are intimidated by the space.

“A lot of people don’t understand it,” he said. “There’s a massive learning curve. Companies have been building buildings the same way for hundreds of years and not everyone understand its complexities.”

The fact that construction is a largely unregulated industry is also a factor, Carter believes.

“Eventually money will flow into the sector because of the pure size of the market,” he told Crunchbase News. “The money is there. There are VCs at every angle wanting to get into this space, but they’re looking for the right opportunities. There just aren’t a ton of startups in the space.”

Construction is also a very cyclical business, and one has to wonder if a potential economic downturn would give investors pause. But to Carter, a downturn would only create more need for products like the one his company is working to build. IngeniousIO’s platform uses artificial intelligence to redefine the process of construction projects by creating what Carter describes as “a unifying, data-driven approach.”

“Tighter budgets are where a company like ours can do very well,” he said. “Companies wouldn’t have the overhead of outdated apps that take a significant amount of support to manage, scale and implement.”

The construction sector may not have the cache of other more Twitter-friendly markets, but it does have the sheer size and potential to provide ripe soil for investors willing to break ground on new opportunities.

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The iPhone Battery Percentage Is Back Where It Should Be In iOS 16 Beta 5

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The iPhone battery percentage icon in the status bar has returned with the new release of iOS 16 beta 5. All iPhones leading up to the X display battery percentage in the status bar, but Apple sacrificed the convenience of the icon in favor of the then-groundbreaking notch design, which left little room for status bar data. Now, it looks like the company has figured out a way to do both.

On the models prior to the iPhone X, the battery percentage was displayed next to the battery icon. With the new design, the percentage is housed inside the battery icon, leaving space for other status bar data like Wi-Fi and cell signal information. Users no longer have to go through the hassle of opening the Control Center to check their battery level. When an iPhone running the latest iOS 16 beta is in Low Power Mode, the battery icon changes to yellow while still displaying the percentage. When charging, the battery icon turns green and shows a small charging icon next to the percentage.

The new indicator is available for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, excluding the ‌iPhone 12‌ and iPhone 13 mini, as well as on the iPhone X and the ‌iPhone‌ XS models. If you have an eligible model and you are already running iOS 16 beta, first update to beta 5, then go into Settings, Battery, and then Battery Percentage to enable the feature. According to CNBC, Apple hasn’t said whether the new feature will make it to the final cut of iOS 16, but our fingers are crossed hoping it does.

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Can Your iPad Get A Virus From Safari? Here’s What We Know

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As with any other source of access to the internet, it’s possible to get viruses depending on which websites you visit and what you do on them. There are many websites out there with less than good intentions, and from these, there is a potential for harm. Apple isn’t wrong about the extent of its security measures, though, when it comes to its devices. The iPhone, like the iPad, does have a layer of security already built in, with iOS keeping each app separated from the others. This makes it harder for viruses to infect the device and spread (via Apple.)

However, you do still need to be careful about what you do when you’re using the internet on your iPad. Although viruses are unlikely to happen, malware (or malicious software) is still possible. If you visit suspicious sites promising things too good to be true, don’t appear legitimate, and/or that prompt you to download files to your iPad, you’ll want to be very wary of the site and refrain from completing any download. If you have jailbroken your iPad, you’ll want to be even more careful, as this opens it up to security issues. In general, if a site is asking you to give up sensitive information such as bank information or your credit card, you’ll want to be extra careful. Only buy things from sources you trust. 

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DJI Avata Leak Teases A Drone You Can Fly Indoors

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Leaks suggest that the Avata will rely on three-inch propellors with a ducted design, while the mounted camera’s movements will be limited to a single axis of rotation. Alleged images of the package also appear to confirm the DJI Avata branding. The leak also mentions the ability to shoot stabilized videos at 4K resolution, a built-in propellor guard, low-latency transmission for high-resolution visuals, and a palm-sized build.

If the leaked retail box imagery is to believed, the next DJI offering will come bundled with accessories such as the Goggle 2, the new Motion Controller, flight battery, headband, spare propellors, USB-C cables, lanyard, screen protector, an eyeglasses frame, and a dual-band antenna to name a few. However, it must be noted that wearing the Goggles 2 will put the small drone out of the line of sight, which means you will need a spotter. It might also be a legal headache in some regions with strict drone regulations.

For folks only intending to use it for indoor video capture (or, perhaps, to participate in drone racing), the restrictions might be a tad easier. Unfortunately, DJI hasn’t shared any official details about the Avata FPV drone’s release. However, given the recent FCC appearance of the DJI Avata alongside the Goggles 2, it is quite evident that an official debut is likely just around the corner.

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