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Showing posts from February, 2019

BMW's Two-Man Bobsled Prototype Passes Test Rides

image : BMW A two-man bobsled being developed by BMW in preparation for the 2019/2020 Bobsleigh World Cup has hit past test rides, with "promising results" as stated by BMW. It says the sled concept - one it's not particularly known for, being focused on the automobile market - developed using computer simulations and tested at the BMW Aerodynamic and Research Center has proven successful. Its development phase lasted ten months, with double bobsled Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich, world champion Johannes Lochner and junior world champion Christoph Hafer on the steering handles. According to BMW, a measuring system provided by its Motorsport division and modified for bobsleds was responsible for the tests. image : BMW While many of us might not be familiar with bobsledding, it's a really interesting sport to catch fun with. Bobsledding is very much present at the Winter Olympic Games that holds every four years from its last interval. The next Winter

Uber, Lyft Reportedly Plan To Offer Drivers Shares In IPOs

image : Lyft According to the Wall Street Journal , Uber and Lyft are planning to offer some drivers cash bonuses to purchase stock in their upcoming initial public offerings, a move that'll enable access to two of the hottest IPOs expected to take place this year. The paper says the companies' longest-serving drivers will be getting cash awards, with an option to put it towards purchase of shares in the IPOs. It says Uber is planning bonuses for a “significant” portion of its 3 million drivers, while Lyft plans to issue $1,000 bonuses to drivers who have completed at least 10,000 rides on its platform, and as much as $10,000 to those who have done 20,000 rides. Such statistics indicates that only a minority of Lyft drivers would be eligible for the bonuses. Lyft co-founder andd president John Zimmer Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile In the past, Uber has been reported to be mulling issuing shares to its driver, while being met with resistance

Fitbit Health Unit To Hit $100 Million In 2019 Revenue

image : Fitbit At a recent earnings conference call, James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit - the popular wearables brand that recently launched a new tracker available via corporate plans - said that the company's Health Solutions division, which focuses on healthcare providers and enterprises, will deliver $100 million in 2019 revenue. This is just two years after the division was launched to tap into a new market amid falling sales of consumer devices. Fitbit also says it plans to add more software and services and launch a paid premium service later this year. "We believe there is a significant opportunity to leverage investments that we make in our consumer-facing business to drive B2B revenue to our Fitbit Health Solutions business..." CEO James Park said. Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune "...We are steadily building momentum in our FHS (Fitbit Health Solutions) business. More than 6.8 million Fitbit u

Mike Cagney's Figure Raises $65 Million Series B Round

Figure co-founder and CEO Mike Cagney Photograph by Jordan Curet/Fortune Brainstorm Tech Figure - a startup led by Mike Cagney, a co-founder and former CEO of $4.3 billion valued  online lender SoFi - has raised $65 million in Series B funding, boosting its total raised to $120 million in just 2 years of operation. This round values the company at $365 million - according to Bloomberg , about double its previous valuation. RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global led the round, with participation from the likes of Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek, DCM, DCG and Ribbit Capital. With Mike Cagney continuing in the online lending industry, Figure makes home equity loans, which it says it does in as little as five days via blockchain technology. DST Global founder Yuri Milner. Partners at DST Global co-led this Series B round for Figure. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch The company says other lenders plan to make use of its in-house blockchain tech to beg

Samsung Kicks Off Mass Production Of 512GB Storage Chip

image : Samsung Samsung has announced that it has begun mass production of a 512-gigabyte (GB) embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) 3.0 chip for mobile devices, one it says delivers twice the speed of the preceding eUFS 2.1 version. The company says the new storage solution is 20 times faster than a conventional microSD card, with: Sequential read speed of 2100 MB/s Sequential write speed of 410MB/s Random Read Speed of 63,000 IOPS and Random write speed of 68,000 IOPS image : Samsung For example, Samsung says it successfully transferred a 3.7GB full HD movie file from a mobile device to a PC - using the 512GB eUFS 3.0 - in just three seconds, a non-conventional speed. The Korean tech giant also plans to debut a 128 GB version of the storage chip in soon time, with 1TB and 256GB versions to come in the second half of this year. In recent times, Samsung has also caught the eyes of many with the debut of its 1 terabyte (TB) storage chip - a storage capacity previo

Affirm Brings Its Payment Plan To Walmart

image : Walmart Affirm, the popular San Francisco based startup - valued at nearly $2 billion - known for its installment payment plans that enable consumers purchase goods at various online stores at full price, to pay later in 3, 6, or 12 monthly installments - has brought its payments option to a very notable retailer, Walmart. Partnering with the largest retailer in the U.S., shoppers will now get the option of using Affirm to pay for purchases at Walmart's nearly 4,000 retail centers in the U.S. and also Walmart.com, its Amazon competing e-commerce site. Customers will first check eligibility through Affirm's site before they head into a Walmart store or do it while they shop, using their mobile devices or desktops. Affirm founder and CEO Max Levchin image : TechCrunch / Flickr Affirm will be available as a payment option on Walmart purchases ranging from $150 to $2,000, But select items including groceries, alcohol, tobacco, personal care and pharmacy w

FedEx Unveils Self-Driving Delivery Robot

FedEx SameDay Bot image : FedEx Following the likes of Postmates and Amazon , FedEx has unveiled its own autonomous delivery robot - the FedEx SameDay Bot, one the company says is designed to help retailers make same day and last-mile deliveries. The courier delivery giant has partnered with companies like Lowe's, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, AutoZone and Walmart for autonomous deliveries via the new robot. The FedEx SameDay Bot was developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research, a firm led by Dean Kamen, an engineer popularly known for his invention of the Segway and the iBot electric wheelchair. “The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Kamen said in a press statement. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope

Facebook To Usher In 'Clear History' Tool This Year

Facebook VP of Strategic Partnerships, Ime Archibong image : Facebook Facebook will be debuting a 'clear history' tool this year, its Chief Financial Officer David Wehner told the crowd at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. CNBC first reported of Wehner's comments. Wehner noted that the tool, first promised in 2018, will impact Facebook's ability to target advertisements. "Broadly, [clear history is] going to give us some headwinds in terms of being able to target as effectively as before," He said at the conference. Facebook first announced this feature at its F8 developer conference in May 2018, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating that the feature would "be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook -- what you've clicked on, websites you've visited, and so on." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a Q&A session at the company's headquarters image : Facebook "Once we

Walmart Acquires Israeli Startup Aspectiva

American singer, actor and comedian Jamie Foxx and a Walmart employee at the 2018 Walmart Associate Meeting image : Walmart Walmart has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli startup that develops solutions that analyse consumers' product reviews to assist online shoppers in making purchase decisions. The Israeli startup will be joining Store N° 8 , an incubator set up by Walmart in 2017 to develop e-commerce solutions. It'll continue to operate from its offices in Tel Aviv while housed under Walmart. Financial terms of Walmart's acquisition were not disclosed. The U.S. retailer says Aspectiva's tech will "further enhance the (its) end-to-end shopping experience". image : Walmart This acquisition marks as Walmart's latest scheme with Israel based tech companies, having recently invested in Israeli cyber-security company Team8 and also committed $250 million  for a joint venture with Israel based interactive video content developer Eko. “Our te

Amazon Adds Ex PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi To Board

Former PepsiCo CEO and now Amazon board member Indra Nooyi Photograph by Danuta Otfinowski for Fortune Most Powerful Women Amazon has named Indra Nooyi - the former CEO of beverage giant PepsiCo who led the company for 12 years, before stepping down in October 2018 - to its board. This comes shortly after the company added  Starbucks COO and former Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer to its board. Amazon's board is now 11 member strong, including CEO Jeff Bezos. Nooyi's appointment ups the number of women on the company's board to five, almost equal to the number of male members - 6, after the Seattle based company faced criticism in the past for its male-dominated leadership. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, staying at the company for over two decades. In addition to now Amazon, she also serves on the boards of oilfield services giant Schlumberger, PepsiCo owned Sandora and non-profits Catalyst Inc and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Indra Nooyi (left

Caesars Takes Stake In And Partners With DraftKings

DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile Caesars - the Nevada based gaming corporation known for its many casinos - has partnered with DraftKings, a legal sports betting startup valued at $1.5 billion , taking an undisclosed stake in the company and agreeing to offer market access for its online gaming products. DraftKings will now promote Caesars Entertainment as an official casino resort partner in states where the companies will collaborate in. Under the new agreement, Caesars will get a cut of DraftKings' gambling revenue in these states, while opening a new avenue for the company - a top leader in legal online sports betting - to expand reach. With this partnership, DraftKings should now be able to offer non-sports gambling like slots, roulette and online poker in states in the US that allow it. The Caesars Palace hotel in Nevada, U.S. image : Caesars Entertainment "This alliance is the latest ini

Samsung Debuts Two New Mid-Range Phones

Samsung Galaxy A50 image : Samsung Samsung has unveiled to new mid-range Galaxy A smartphones - the Galaxy A50 and A30 - with a focus on the camera, among other specs. The new debuts are two among many smartphones debuted at the on-going Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. Features of the new smartphones are shown below : Galaxy A50 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge) 4GB / 6 GB RAM 64GB / 128 GB Internal Storage Micro SD (up to 512GB) support 4,000 mAh battery Quad 2.3GHz + Quad 1.7GHz processor 25 MP main camera Fast charging technology Samsung Pay support Bixby support 3D Glasstic design On-screen fingerprint Samsung Galaxy A30 image : Samsung Samsung Galaxy A30 (back) image : Samsung Galaxy A30 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge) 3GB / 4GB RAM 32GB / 64 GB Internal Storage Micro SD (up to 512GB) support 4,000 mAh battery Dual 1.8GHz + Hexa 1.6GHz processor 16MP main camera Fast charging technology

LG Debuts A Smartphone That Can Be Unlocked By Users' Veins

LG G8 image : LG It seems facial and voice recognition and the use of fingerprint for smartphone security is not enough, If you feel it is, then LG has decided otherwise, debuting a new smartphone - the G8 - that can be unlocked via the user's veins, yes the user's veins. The G8 counts as the first known smartphone with advanced palm vein authentication, which LG says is made possible by the combination of a time-of-flight camera and infrared sensors. LG's Hand ID - as named - identifies smartphone owners by recognizing the shape, thickness and other individual characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands. The G8 also uses facial and fingerprint recognition for those who want to use it. Other features of the new smartphone include : LG G8 image : LG A Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor 6.1-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio) 6GB RAM / 128GB memory microSD (up to 2TB) support Android 9.0 Pie OS 3500mAh battery 3G / 4G LTE-A

LG Debuts First 5G Smartphone

LG V50 Thin Q image : LG At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), LG has debuted the V50 Thin Q smartphone, an updated version of the V40 released in 2018, with support for 5G network, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, a larger 4,000 mAh battery and a new heat dissipation system. In anticipation for the phone's debut, LG is partnering with 10 major carriers in markets where 5G service will launch this year, including the US, Australia, South Korea and a number of European countries. Features of the LG V50 Thin Q include : 6.4-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio) 6GB RAM / 128GB memory microSD (up to 2TB) support Android 9.0 Pie OS 3G / 4G LTE-A / 5G network support 16MP Super Wide / 12MP Standard rear camera 8MP Standard / 5MP Wide front camera 183g weight USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Compatible) / Bluetooth 5 / NFC / Wi-Fi 802.11 connectivity Water and dust resistance Google Lens / Google Assistant Face Recognition Fingerprint sensor FM Radio Fast-charging

Microsoft Debuts New Cloud-Powered Kinect Developer Kit

Azure Kinect image : Microsoft Microsoft has debuted a new PC peripheral based on the Kinect, an original Xbox 360 accessory for motion sensing so players could control games with their hands or body. The company is packaging its work on the Kinect into a new developer kit dubbed Azure Kinect  that'll let developers build AI algorithms. The new kit comes with several AI sensors - its core being a time-of-flight depth sensor developed for the new HoloLens mixed-reality headset , a high-definition RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array that'll enable development of computer vision and speech solutions with Microsoft Azure. Azure Kinect image : Microsoft Microsoft cites an example of the Azure Kinect being applied in healthcare, with health-tech company Ocuvera  building a solution to prevent patients from falling in hospitals. With the Azure Kinect, Microsoft says environmental precursors to a fall can be determined, allowing notified nurses to get to

Microsoft Debuts HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2 image : Microsoft At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft has unveiled the second version of its mixed-reality headset, the HoloLens 2, coming after the release of the first version 2016. As expected the new headset comes with enhanced features like: More than double the field of view of the first HoloLens A new display system A new time-of-flight depth sensor Eye-tracking sensors Iris recognition for login A new dial-in fit system (for comfort while wearing) Improved thermal management A more balanced center of gravity, thanks to use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for putting on the device without readjusting HoloLens 2 image : Microsoft HoloLens 2 image : Microsoft HoloLens 2 image : Microsoft Features such as a holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight where maintained from the first version of the HoloLens. Coupled with mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist , Dynami

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Cashing Out: Jeff Bezos Sells $2.5B Of Amazon Stock

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EVs: Ford, BMW Co-Invest In An EV Battery Startup

It's currently of no doubt that electric vehicles represent the future for the automobile market, and many automakers have taken heed to that. Tens of billions of dollars in spending have been earmarked for the R&D and production of electric vehicles by global automakers, with efforts spanning battery development, building new factories, charging stations et al. Now, two of the world's biggest automakers, BMW and Ford, have jointly invested in a startup working on battery technology for electric vehicles. That startup is Solid Power, a Colorado-based startup developing solid-state batteries for EVs. Details: Solid Power has raised a $130 million Series B round  co-led by Ford and BMW. The two automakers were joined by green-focused venture fund Volta Energy Technologies in the round. As part of the strategic round, Ford and BMW have expanded their joint agreements with Solid Power to develop solid-state batteries for their use. In a way, the two automakers are funding and o

Is Apple Brewing A Major Digital Health Play?

That Apple has high ambitions in the digital health space isn't foreign news to anyone following the moves of the company. In fact, its CEO Tim Cook once referred to health as Apple's “greatest contribution to mankind.” Apple's main health product is the Apple Watch for which health represents a major use case and a selling point. The latest Apple Watch series has key health features including the ability to measure ECG (electrocardiogram) and oxygen saturation level in the blood. With all its grand ambitions, the reality is that Apple is progressing very well in the digital health space but yet hasn't gotten a big foothold in it like it's done in other markets. There still exists a large gap for Apple to conquer to make waves in the digital health market and the company seems much hell-bent on covering that gap. Details: A certain revelation has come out that details Apple's grand plans in the health sector, and it's that of a UK startup working on next-ge

Big Pay: AT&T Shareholders Vote Against Execs Pay

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Deal: Verizon Sells Yahoo And AOL To PE Firm For $5B

Telecoms giant Verizon has found a buyer for its Verizon Media Unit which includes veteran internet properties like Yahoo and AOL, and that buyer is a major private equity firm. To note, though Yahoo and AOL have long faded from their glory days, they aren't exactly dead properties but ones still with a great deal of users bringing in a few billion in revenue annually. Details: Verizon has struck a deal to sell 90% of Verizon Media to private equity firm Apollo which will pay $5 billion for it, while Verizon retains a  10%  minority stake in the business. The deal takes off many internet properties off Verizon's hands, including bigger ones like Yahoo and smaller ones like technology news site TechCrunch operating under the AOL umbrella. Though it's selling for a seemingly huge price of $5 billion, Verizon paid a combined $9 billion to buy the web properties making up its Verizon Media unit so it doesn't come out on top financially from the sale.  Verizon paid $4.4bn t

Germany's SAP Fined $8M For Violating Iran Sanctions

SAP, the German software giant, has agreed to pay a fine in the US for violating sanctions imposed by the country on conducting business in Iran. It'll pay over $8 million in fines after admitting to handling thousands of exports of its software to Iran violating US law. Details: SAP admitted to exporting US-origin software to Iran beginning in 2010 up until 2017. The exports including delivering software upgrades and patches more than 20,000 times to Iranian users and offering Iranian users access to US-based cloud services. As charged, executives at SAP were aware that the company didn't have geolocation protections to block downloads of its US-origin software in Iran and turned a blind eye to the situation.  SAP was also charged with neglecting to put in place adequate export control for cloud services made by some US-based companies that it acquired and integrated into its software suite. For the charges, SAP admitted guilt and reached a  Non-Prosecution Agreement with the

IPO: Cybersecurity Startup Darktrace Debuts On UK Markets

A major cybersecurity startup from the UK has held an initial public offering (IPO) and debuted to positive investor fanfare on the domestic public markets. That startup is Darktrace, a fast-growing cybersecurity startup founded by a team of mathematicians in collaboration with British intelligence agencies in 2013. Darktrace sells cyber-defense software that's claimed to harness artificial intelligence in spotting and managing cyber threats. It listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol "DARK". By the numbers: Darktrace debuted to positive investor fanfare that saw its shares soar by 40% on its first day of trading. It raised £143 million ($198m) from the public float at a valuation of £1.7 billion ($2.3bn) which soared to almost £2.4 billion ($3.3bn) on its debut trading day. Darktrace's IPO prospectus reports $199 million in revenue in its most recent fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. This was up from $137 million in the previous year, 2019, and $79 mill

Earnings: Pfizer Rakes In Cash From COVID Vaccine

Pfizer, one of the few pharmaceutical companies worldwide to produce an approved Covid-19 vaccine, has unveiled its earnings report for the first quarter of this year. As usual, the report provides a solid peek into the company's financials and with very noteworthy nuggets this time around. One key nugget from Pfizer's earnings report is that the company brought in $3.5bn in revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine in Q1' 21. It made up nearly a fourth of the company's total $14.6bn revenue for the period. The Covid vaccine was the biggest single source of revenue for Pfizer in the quarter. It's definitely a good time for the company in that regard, as it elected to keep the profit from the sale of its vaccines unlike some of its competitors which volunteered to waive off any profit-seeking from their vaccines. Unlike some of its competitors also, Pfizer didn't take money from the US government to fund the development of its vaccine under the Trump administration'

Earnings: Covid Vaccines Deliver Big Sales, Profit For Moderna

Moderna was among the few biotech companies that saved the day with the development of an emergency-authorized vaccine to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a breakthrough for the company, which was before then a cancer-fighting moonshot with minimal revenues and no working product. Being a publicly-traded company, Moderna is mandated to release quarterly earnings reports to the public and it has done so this time around, releasing its financial results for the first quarter of this year 2021. Moderna's latest earnings report shows that of a company that saw big success from its Covid vaccines, as it reported record revenue and its first-ever net profit as a public company. By the numbers: Moderna made $1.9bn in revenue in Q1' 21, compared to a paltry $8mn for the same quarter in 2020. The revenue came wholly from Covid vaccine sales in the US and foreign markets. Moderna reported a huge net income of $1.2bn in the quarter, compared to a net loss of $124mn for the same perio

Court Docs: Fortnite Maker Epic Made $15B In 2018-2020

Fortnite maker Epic Games is having a court battle with Apple over the latter's App Store practices and that battle has led to several documents coming out of the shadows with valuable information about Epic Games not publicly known before.  Among the information revealed in court proceedings between Epic and Apple is the sheer scale of Epic's revenue largely gotten from its hit game Fortnite . Official documents indicate that Epic Games made respective annual sales of $5.6bn, $4.2bn, and $5.1bn in 2018, 2019, and 2020, summing up to just shy of $15bn. Epic's revenue in 2018 and 2019 was revealed in financial documents made public as part of its court battle with Apple while its revenue for 2020 was separately revealed in a court testimony by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The vast majority of Epic's revenue comes from Fortnite while its other products like the Unreal Engine and the Epic Games Store bring in a minority of revenues. Specifically, Fortnite brought in $5.5bn a