A Tech-Forward Insurer Gets a $265 Million Boost from Allstate and Allianz
In the commercial-insurance marketplace, Next Insurance is something of a pioneer. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based insurance startup employs digital technology to market a wide variety of insurance lines to small-business owners, a cohort that has long been served by insurers who take a more traditional manual approach to marketing to clients.
Last week, two insurance giants, Allstate and Allianz, gave a clear vote of confidence to Next’s technological disruption of the commercial real-estate market. The two insurers announced a combined $265 million investment in Next, representing the largest single funding round in the company’s seven-year history.
As part of the deal, Next will provide its products to Allstate customers, expanding its footprint to additional small businesses nationwide. And both Next and Allstate will co-develop a new set of commercial automobile insurance products. The deal also deepens Next’s relationship with Allianz, which acts as a reinsurer to the startup.
Founded in 2016, Next uses proprietary machine learning algorithms to quickly generate premium quotes for customers. Its latest valuation, based on Allstate and Allianz’ investment of last week, comes to $2.5 billion.
Databricks Provided “Moneyball” Styled Analysis to 2023 World Series Champ
Databricks have morphed into one of the highest-valued startups in the U.S. by providing a wide range of data analytics to thousands of companies throughout the world.
Few of the company’s efforts, however, can compare with the Gee-whiz factor of providing player-performance analytics to the Texas Rangers, which handily defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks two weeks ago to win Major League Baseball’s World Series.
In an interview on CNBC last week, Databricks CEO and co-founder Ali Ghodsi described how his company used artificial intelligence and data analytics to help the Rangers’ on-field performance. According to Ghodsi, Databricks collected data from the team by connecting sensors to players and creating an image of their skeletons to watch them play in real time. The company then used its AI model to analyze the data and was able to make recommendations regarding player behavior.
“It’s kind of like Moneyball 2.0 in some sense,” Ghodsi told CNBC, a reference to a best-selling book by author Michael Lewis which detailed how former Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane employed cutting-edge analytics to improve his team’s performance two decades ago.
Founded in 2013, Databricks, which is based in San Francisco, received a $43 billion valuation in September 2023 following a $500 million funding round.
An “Air Taxi” Maker Initiates Major Test Flight Effort
Volocopter has an ambitious mission: the development of all-electric helicopter-like vehicles that will transport passengers between key hubs like train stations and airports around the world.
Last week, trade publication AviationSource News reported that the German company has taken an additional step toward that mission with a “historic first,” a flight test of an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle in “an operation and large international airport in the United States.”
The flight-testing regimen recently occurred at Tampa International Airport and involved a crewed Volocopter 2X eVTOL aircraft.
According to Volocopter, the design of the company’s copters provide for more stability in air and lower maintenance costs than a traditional helicopter. The vehicles have been called “flying Ubers” and “air taxis” because of their potential to make flight between transportation hubs routine. In March 2022, the company was given a post-money valuation of $1.87 billion, according to TechCrunch.