Startup News: Universal Hydrogen achieves zero-emissions flight

Startup Universal Hydrogen has taken a big step toward realizing a future for zero-emissions aviation.

Earlier this month, the three-year-old Hawthorne, Calif.-based company, which was valued at $243 million in October 2021, announced that one of its branded planes, equipped with the largest hydrogen fuel cell ever to power an aircraft, made its maiden test flight in eastern Washington state. The 15-minute flight of a modified Dash-8 aircraft may have been short, but it showed that hydrogen could be viable as a fuel for short-hop passenger aircraft, according to an article in Techcrunch.

“If Universal Hydrogen — and others in the emerging world of hydrogen flight — can make the technical and regulatory progress needed to make it a mainstream product,” wrote Techcrunch.

Universal Hydrogen’s Kitty Hawk-like moment occurred three months after Airbus, the French jet manufacturer, announced that it is developing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine – and that it plans to test it on the largest commercial airplane ever to take to the skies, an A380 superjumbo jet. Test flights are estimated for 2026, as part of the Airbus initiative to launch a zero-emission aircraft commercially by 2035.

Salesforce Incorporates ChatGPT

Meanwhile, the technology that made OpenAI’s ChatGPT one of the most widely-discussed artificial intelligence products ever has found a new commercial application.

Salesforce, the customer relationship management (CRM) software company, recently announced that it will release software incorporating OpenAI’s famed chatbot to help salespeople, customer service agents and marketers do their jobs. Salesforce is calling the offering Einstein GPT, drawing on OpenAI’s technology that’s taken the tech industry by storm since the Microsoft-backed startup opened ChatGPT to the public in November.

According to an article posted on CNBC’s website, Salesforce has taken various steps to keep Einstein GPT’s capabilities from misinforming people. In addition to the involvement of the human agent, the company has narrowed the field of data that can influence an answer.

Wunderkind Raises Funds

Techcrunch has also reported that New York City-based Wunderkind, a platform that enables brands to target web visitors through emails, texts and other digital advertising formats, announced earlier this month that it raised $76 million in a Series C round led by Neuberger Berman, the financial services company.

Wunderkind’s newly appointed CEO, Bill Ingram, says that the tranche — which brings Wunderkind’s total raised to over $150 million — will be put toward investing in product development, hiring and ongoing market expansion.

FinTech Giant Revolut Reports First-ever Profit

Finally, according to CNBC, fintech giant Revolut recently reported that it turned its first-ever annual profit in 2021, as subscriptions to its paid packages and overall usage of its app grew sharply.

The London-based company reported revenues of £636.2 million ($767.1 million) for the year, three times what it made the previous year, and swung to a pre-tax profit of £59.1 million or $71.21 million. In 2020, Revolut recorded a pre-tax loss of £205 million or $247 million.

For 2022, Revolut gave a trading update saying it expects revenues to have grown more than 30% to £850 million. As a privately held firm, it is not required to share quarterly reports. “Revolut’s announcement is a rare positive piece of news in a fintech market that has been plagued by mass layoffs and huge valuation cuts as investors reassess the space amid worsening macroeconomic conditions,” CNBC wrote.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

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