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Robot pizza maker reportedly takes $375 million investment from SoftBank

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Zume Pizza, a start-up that uses robots to make pizza, has reportedly received $375 million of backing from the tech investment firm SoftBank.

The California company announced the cash injection in a securities filing. The investor identity was not revealed in the filing, but the Wall Street Journal has been the first to report that the cash has come out of SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

The Japanese bank’s Vision Fund is worth $100 billion. It is most heavily backed by a $45 billion payment raised from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The WSJ report added that the SoftBank is expected to invest a further $375 million in the company, valuing the pizza delivery company at roughly $2.25 billion.

Zume Pizza employs a mix of robots and humans to create and deliver food. Robots squirt and spread the tomato sauce onto the uncooked pies and then transfer them into 800-degree ovens

The robots cost between $25,000 and $35,000 each and are made by ABB, a global manufacturer that typically deals with robots for large manufacturing facilities.

The company also plans to run trucks that use remote controlled ovens to fire up the pizzas enroute. Switching the ovens on from the cloud allows the company to bypass rules preventing food preparation in moving vehicles.

The company sold its first pizza in April 2016 and currently delivers to the Californian suburbs of Atherton, Cupertino, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Stanford, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Campbell.

At the time of publication, neither SoftBank nor Zume had responded to a CNBC request for comment.

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Brexit: All eyes are on Theresa May as pressure mounts within her own cabinet

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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces another test of survival this week with mounting opposition within her own close circle of senior lawmakers.

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Macron and tech giants launch ‘Paris call’ to fix internet ills

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Emmanuel Macron, France's president, looks on during a news conference in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

Lisi Niesner | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, looks on during a news conference in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

In the document, which is supported by many European countries but, crucially, not China or Russia, the signatories urge governments to beef up protections against cyber meddling in elections and prevent the theft of trade secrets.

The Paris call was initially pushed for by tech companies but was redrafted by French officials to include work done by U.N. experts in recent years.

“The internet is a space currently managed by a technical community of private players. But it’s not governed. So now that half of humanity is online, we need to find new ways to organise the internet,” an official from Macron’s office said.

“Otherwise, the internet as we know it today — free, open and secure — will be damaged by the new threats.”

By launching the initiative a day after a weekend of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of World War One, Macron hopes to promote his push for stronger global cooperation in the face of rising nationalism.

In another sign of the Trump administration’s reluctance to join international initiatives it sees as a bid to encroach on U.S. sovereignty, French officials said Washington might not become a signatory, though talks are continuing.

However, they said large U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google would sign up.

“The American ecosystem is very involved. It doesn’t mean that in the end the U.S. federal government won’t join us, talks are continuing, but the U.S. will be involved under other forms,” another French official said.

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Pivot to Europe for US economy and national security

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Hopefully, there is enough bipartisanship left in Washington to support such vitally important trade policy changes initiated by the present administration.

Meanwhile, there are things the White House can do on its own.

For example, Washington should stop Germany from repeating a Greek tragedy in Italy. Unless that is done forthwith, there is no sense for the U.S. to foot three quarters of a bill for the largest military and political alliance the world has ever known.

The U.S. economic and financial authorities know everything they need to know about the Italian budget for 2019 — an entirely appropriate counter-cyclical fiscal policy well within the euro area budget rules. But Germany, with France in tow, seems hellbent on using its own reading of that budget as a pretext for destroying the Italian economy and its democratically elected government. That is a pathetic example of how far the sinking governing elites are ready to go to fight their opponents in the elections to the European Parliament scheduled for May 2019.

Washington has been there before. In July 2015, the U.S. helped France keep Greece in the euro area, saving that long-suffering country from economic and political destruction. Working together, Washington and Paris squashed the German plan for throwing Greece out of the monetary union.

One can now see how important it was to keep Greece functioning. The Greeks are hosting huge assets of a U.S.-led alliance controlling the Eastern Mediterranean and battlefield operations in the Middle East.

Italy is equally central to U.S. national security. The country has many allied military installations, with command headquarters in Naples and a new hub in Sicily covering the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and most of the Balkans. None of that is compromised by Italy’s right-of-center government. On the contrary, Italy remains an unquestionably loyal alliance member.

Apart from the urgent task of shielding the military alliance from German mischief, the U.S. should also nudge Berlin toward a more balanced economic growth that would benefit its euro area partners and expand European markets for American goods and services.

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