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SoftBank Vision Fund Breaks Ground on Series D in Katerra

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Softbank’s Vision Fund, a colossal fund initiated by Masayoshi Son, is breaking new ground once again, this time in the construction technology industry.

Katerra – a Menlo Park, California-based startup that seeks to redefine a US$ 12 trillion market with its one-stop-shop building service – has announced the closing of a towering US$ 865 million Series D round led by Softbank’s US$ 93 billion vehicle of disruption. With additional contributions from new investors including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Soros Fund Management LLC (entity owned by hedge fund luminary George Soros), and construction technology-focused Navitas Capital, the construction start-up is now looking at a valuation upwards of US$ 3 billion, a massive improvement over the US$ 1.1 billion figure from its previous funding round in April 2017. Navitas Capital is based in Alameda, California.

Digging into Katerra

Founded in 2015 under the leadership of Chairman and Co-Founder Michael Marks, Katerra lured more than US$ 1.3 billion in bookings to build everything from schools, to hospitals, to residential housing. Using its proprietary software suite and vertically-integrated approach to construction, Katerra attempts to cut out the agonizing and costly process of bringing together architects, hiring construction companies, and procuring materials, by bringing the entire life-cycle of a building under its own roof.

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Hire its First Chief Investment Officer

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The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) hired its first chief investment officer. The US$ 10 billion philanthropic vehicle hired David Lee to be its CIO. The search process was conducted by New York-based recruiting firm David Barrett Partners. Lee spent the last eight years working at Princeton University’s endowment – holding the managing director position as his final station. Lee got his MBA at Yale University.

According to the CZI press release, “In this role, Lee will be responsible for managing an investment portfolio that will grow the organization’s ability to fund its efforts across its three core Initiatives – Science, Education and Justice & Opportunity. CZI is a new kind of philanthropic organization that pairs engineering with grantmaking, impact investing, policy and advocacy work, in order to help build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone.”

Lee will report to an investment committee which is led by Yale University CIO David Swensen. Other investment committee members of CZI include Lei Zhang, Founder and CEO of Hillhouse Capital; Matt Cohler, General Partner of venture capital firm Benchmark; and Carter Simonds, a former Managing Director of Blue Ridge Capital – a hedge fund investor.

Photo Credit: CZI

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Saudi Arabia Sends Second Installment of Aid to Pakistan

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On December 14, 2018, Pakistan received its second installment of the US$ 3 billion in aid promised from Saudi Arabia on October 23, 2018. The US$ 1 billion given on December 14th boosted the foreign reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan, which went from US$ 7.2 billion to US$ 8.2 billion. The first installment was given on November 23, 2018. The last installment is expected to occur in January 2019.

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White House Nominates Heath Tarbert for CFTC Chairman

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The White House announced Heath P. Tarbert will be nominated to serve as Commissioner and Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Tarbert currently serves as Assistant Secretary for International Markets at the U.S. Treasury Department. Before joining the U.S. Treasury, Tarbert was a Partner at law firm Allen & Overy. Tarbert was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his current Treasury post at 87 (yes) to 8 (no).

Upon Senate confirmation, Tarbert’s CFTC term would start on April 14, 2019 and last for five years. Tarbert is taking over from J. Christopher Giancarlo whose term ends in April 2019. Tarbert will need a U.S. Senate confirmation to take the head CFTC post.

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