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Temasek Leads Series B Round for Chinese Robo Startup Rokid

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Rokid Corporation Limited, a Chinese robotics startup that specializes in smart devices assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), announced the closing of a Series B extension round through its WeChat account on January 18, 2018. The capital-raising effort was led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, with additional contributions from Credit Suisse Group, China Development Bank’s overseas investment arm CDIB Capital International, and existing investor IDG Capital. Although Rokid did not disclose the size or terms of the deal in its announcement, the technology company reportedly secured US$ 100 million in funding.

Founded in 2014 by chief executive Mingming Zhu and chief financial officer Eric Wong, Rokid’s core products consist of its smart speakers, the Rokid Pebble and Alien, as well as the newly debuted Rokid Glass augmented reality spectacles. The company’s most exciting offering, however, is its Full Stack Open Platform, a collaborative effort made in partnership with Alibaba that gives third-party developers backdoor access Rokid’s software suite and hardware integration and will – it hopes – help give its offerings the accessibility and recognition they need to thrive outside its home market of China.

Rokid is particularly keen on bringing its products to the U.S., where it believes it can challenge Google and Amazon’s dominance in the smart home arena. Amazon makes the Amazon Echo, while Google has Google Home.

The Series B

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LAPFF Explores Direct Real Estate Investing

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The Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions (LAFPP), a smaller pension compared to its larger peers such as the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, is considering forming a direct real estate investment strategy that would be managed internally. LAPFF staff requested the pension’s real estate consultant The Townsend Group to explore the feasibility of creating an in-house real estate managed portfolio.

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Could Russian Government Opt for Some Cryptocurrencies over Treasuries?

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The problem with fiat money is that it is backed by governments and countries, subject to the whims of policymakers versus a tangible item like gold. Russia has sold nearly US$ 100 billion worth of Treasury bills, bought gold, yuan, and other non-U.S. dollar currencies, and saved a significant allocation that may be earmarked for Bitcoin. These moves are intended to help Russia evade U.S. sanctions. Vladislav Ginko, an economist at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, noted that the government is working to “protect its national interests” since fewer U.S. dollars are expected to flow into the country in exchange for oil and gas. Ginko estimates the crypto investment at US$ 10 billion. If enacted, Bitcoin could spike on the purchase. Purchases could begin at any time. The Central Bank of Russia has not yet discussed its intentions. However, six months after making any financial transactions, the bank publishes them. If Russia were to carry out the plan, it would swallow over 15 % of the world’s Bitcoin.

Financial technology companies continue to built out platforms to service institutional clients. For example, San Francisco-based Anchorage, cryptocurrency custody service, raised US$ 17 million in a Series A round that was led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by Khosla Ventures, Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal), Elad Gil, Mark McCombe of Blackrock (Senior Managing Director, Head of the Americas region), and AngelList’s Naval Ravikant.

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PSP Investments Allocates Capital to Specialty Insurance Brokerage

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Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) made an investment into Newport Beach, California-based Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. In addition, funds managed by Stone Point Capital LLC also made an investment into Alliant Insurance Services. Post-transaction, funds managed by Stone Point Capital LLC will remain Alliant’s largest institutional shareholders while the company’s management and producers will continue to own the majority of the firm.

Alliant Insurance Services provides property and casualty, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, surety, and financial products and services to clients nationwide, including public entities, tribal nations, healthcare, energy, law firms, real estate, construction, and other industry groups.

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