Miami Tech & Startup News

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Magic Leap ownership news plus reports from  Endeavor Miami, Venture Miami, eMerge, LatinX VC, ShipMonk and more

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Magic Leap ownership news plus reports from  Endeavor Miami, Venture Miami, eMerge, LatinX VC, ShipMonk and more


Saudi Arabia takes controlling stake in Magic Leap

In case you missed it over the holidays (as I did), Magic Leap has a new majority owner.

In the increasingly hot augmented reality field,  Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, also known as PIF, has taken a controlling stake in Magic Leap, according to the Wall Street Journal.

PIF has been an investor in Magic Leap since at least early 2018 and its stake has surpassed 50%, according to a regulatory filing made public in the U.K. earlier last month. The filing says the investor has secured the right to appoint four of the eight board members.

Magic Leap, based in Plantation, told the WSJ it cannot comment on individual investors and declined to say whether the Saudi fund has added any members to the board. PIF also did not comment.

A pioneer in augmented reality, Magic Leap was founded more than a decade ago in Rony Abovitz’s garage. The company raised over $3.5 billion in venture capital over the years and at one point had a valuation over $6 billion. The company released its Magic Leap 2 in September, geared mainly to the enterprise market of corporations, hospitals, universities and government for uses in workplace training, healthcare and more, to positive reviews.

“I do think at some point we’ll look back and say, ;remember when we used to get surgeries without augmentation?’,” said CEO Peggy Johnson at a luncheon event at the University of Miami in November. “This is the beginning of a new medium,” she said, adding that Apple, Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook) and others are all pursuing AR and related fields.


EndeavorLAB cohort for LatinX founders opens for applications

Endeavor Miami’s EndeavorLAB, a cohort-based initiative to support underrepresented founders in Florida in building a foundation for scale, has announced it is accepting applications for  a new seven-week cohort for startups led by Latinx founders that will be powered by VensureHR. Scholarships covering the costs are provided to participants. Learn more and apply here by Feb. 5h.

In 2022, 34 startups participated in EndeavorLAB programs and 15 companies took part in its ScaleUp cohorts. In total 125 companies have taken part in Endeavor Miami’s cohorts since the launch of that program in 2018. Together they have employed 1,590 people and generated $131 million in annual revenues, according to Endeavor Miami’s just-released annual Impact Report.  Download the annual report here.


Venture Miami, eMerge Americas, SVB to hold $40K pitch contest for Black founders

On Feb. 7, Venture Miami is hosting a pitch competition in partnership with eMerge and Silicon Valley Bank to celebrate Black History Month by giving eight startups the opportunity to showcase their businesses to a panel of judges, receive feedback, and win cash prizes. The live event, free and open to the public, will be at 5:30 pm Feb. 7 at Bayshore Club, 3391 Pan American Drive.

Each start-up will have 3 minutes to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges from Venture Miami, eMerge, and Silicon Valley Bank. The grand prize is $15,000, the second-place prize is $10,000, the third prize is $5,000, and the remaining five participants will each receive $2,000.  All prize money will be awarded through Silicon Valley Bank’s, founder-focused, no-fee, Startup Banking accounts that are designed to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses. The top two companies will also get fast-tracked into the 2023 eMerge Americas Startup Showcase for the opportunity to win $420,000 in investment into their company.

Join the competition using this link: Register as a guest here.


Pool of LatinX investors in Miami grows

 LatinxVC, a non-profit group led by experienced venture investors focused on growing and supporting the Latino/a venture capital ecosystem, released its second annual State of Latinx VCs report. The headline: Although the Latino/a population comprises 19% of the US population, Latino/a investment professionals make up only 2% of total venture capital investment professionals and 2% of partner-level venture capital investment professionals at institutional[1] VC firms.

Another key finding of the report: As the Bay Area lost Latino/a investors, New York and Miami gained.In 2021, the Bay Area had 50% of all Latino/a VCs, but in 2022, that dropped to 39%. The biggest increases have been on the East Coast. New York’s share of Latino/a VCs increased from 16% to 20%, driven by strong growth at institutional firms. Miami’s share rose from 7% to 10%. For the share of institutional investors, New York went from 13% to 24% in 2022 and has surpassed the Bay Area in total Latino/a non-partner investors.


On the move: ShipMonk expands again

ShipMonk, the Fort Lauderdale-based leader in tech-driven commerce fulfillment, has opened its 11th fully-integrated fulfillment center in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Expanding our global operation creates greater opportunities for ecommerce business owners to lower shipping costs and shorten delivery times. By distributing inventory across multiple facilities and leveraging ShipMonk’s Virtual Carrier Network, our clients are in the best possible situation to save on costs and dominate shipping timeframes,” says Founder and CEO Jan Bednar.

Founded in 2014, ShipMonk  helps ecommerce brands scale through technology-driven fulfillment solutions that enable entrepreneurs to devote more time to what matters most in their businesses. ShipMonk employs 2,000+ team members across 11 facilities in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, and is the US’s fastest-growing third-party logistics provider for DTC, B2B, and retail fulfillment across all verticals.

Bednar was one of 12 national EY Entrepreneur of the Year award winners in 2022.


Opportunity knocks

  • BrainStation is providing 50 full scholarships for its software engineering and UX/UI design bootcamps through its new Impact Miami program. In addition to the classes, the bootcamps include career and placement support into high-paying tech industry roles. “The overarching goal is to create this inclusive pathway toward building a more diverse Miami tech,” Brainstation VP Johanna Mikkola says. Apply here for Impact Miami’s February cohorts
  • Deadline approaching: Founders have the chance to win $420,000 in investments at eMerge Americas’ Global Startup Showcase at the Miami Beach Convention Center. 100 startups – a mix of university, early-stage and later-stage ventures — will be selected to showcase their company at the two-day event April 20-21. Learn more and apply here by Jan. 6 (deadline extended)
  • Deadline extended: Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, is calling for growth stage companies to apply to present at the 2023 Florida Venture Capital Conference, taking place at the J.W. Marriott on Brickell Avenue in Miami on February 8-9, 2023. The Conference, now in its 32nd year, attracts 500+ attendees, including 200+ active venture investors. Apply to present here. Final application deadline is Jan. 13.
  • Seaworthy Collective, a Miami-based BlueTech community and venture studio, is opening applications for its flagship Venture Studio program, with cohort 3 launching in March 2023. The venture studio hosts 12-week cohorts that consist of two types of program participants: aspiring founders co-creating new startups and current founders growing existing startups. Apply here.
  • Atlanta-based Founders and Funders of Color will be hosting an event at MDC’s The Idea Center Jan. 30-Feb. 1. With a mission to provide capital and support for Black and Latina/o entrepreneurs, their agenda focuses on startups looking to raise their first round or having just done so and looking for revenue impact strategies. To register, go here.


Got news? Email Nancy Dahlberg at and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg and LinkedIN.

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