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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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Alert: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted On Fraud Charges

The founder of embattled electric car startup Nikola Corp. has been formally indicted on fraud charges by the US Justice Department months after resigning from the company. Trevor Milton by name, he's been accused of securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud and mislead investors. Milton is accused of misleading investors by making false statements regarding Nikola's products and capabilities. Notably, most of the investors allegedly misled were on the retail side. The DOJ alleges that Milton made false claims regarding "nearly all aspects" of Nikola's business. Milton founded Nikola in 2014 and led it through a public listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year. The DOJ threw an apparent jab at SPACs in his indictment, asserting that he made 'many' of his false and misleading claims  during a period where he would not have been allowed to do so under rules that govern traditional IPOs were he

Earnings: AMD Doubles Revenue, Triples Profit

In this earnings season, companies all over are dropping their latest quarterly results and we're here equally reporting on them. We've touched on social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , electric carmaker Tesla , and iPhone maker Apple . Now, the next is chipmaker AMD Inc . AMD has dropped its earnings for the second quarter of 2021, showing strong prospects as revenue doubled year-over-year and net income more than tripled.   Details AMD posted $3.9bn in revenue in Q2, up 99% year-over-year and 12% from the preceding quarter. For the same period, the company's net income was $710mn , up 352% year-over-year and 28% from the preceding quarter. Doubling its revenue and nearly quadrupling net income indicates AMD has a strong yet fast-growing business. It's bound to grow even more as the company is set to complete its acquisition of rival chipmaker Xilinx . AMD makes money selling high-performance chipsets used in computers, consoles, data centers, and the likes

Antitrust: Amazon Fined $900M By EU For Privacy Violations

Tech behemoth Amazon is for the nth time in the crosshairs of the European Union (EU). The latest saga in that arena is that Amazon has been fined a record-breaking amount for alleged privacy violations, according to an SEC filing from the company. Amazon has been fined the sum of €746 million ($888mn) by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) for not complying with data privacy laws. It's the largest fine imposed under Europe's data protection law.  The fine originates from the CNPD accusing Amazon of processing customers' personal data in violation of the EU's famous-cum-infamous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.  In June, it was reported ( WSJ )  that the Luxembourg data protection agency had sanctioned Amazon's privacy practices and proposed a fine topping $425mn to the EU's other two-dozen or so national data protection authorities. Now, it appears that the final fine is much larger than that.  Before now, the bigges

Deal: Qualtrics Buys CX Startup Clarabridge For $1.1B

Months after getting spun out of SAP into a separate public company, Qualtrics , a major provider of online survey software, has made a major acquisition. It's agreed to buy Clarabridge , a startup that does similar work to Qualtrics in the field fondly referred to as "customer experience (CX)". Qualtrics will pay $1.1bn all with shares to buy Clarabridge. The acquisition is a major strategic play for the company, pairing Qualtrics' customer survey business with Clarabridge's similar business of measuring customer sentiment from various sources like social media posts and customer support calls. Basically, Qualtrics is in the business of weighing customer surveys directly and Clarabridge in the business of doing so indirectly . Pairing both businesses represents a major strategic play for Qualtrics. In an investor presentation, Qualtrics said that Clarabridge has $100mn in annual revenue, implying an 11x multiple that it's paying to buy the company. That&#

Deal: Amgen Buys Biotech Startup Teneobio In $2.5B Deal

It appears that this Covid era has led to a boom for companies that work on  antibodies , which are protective proteins produced by the human immune system to tackle foreign substances, usually viruses. Antibodies are very useful in the research and treatment of viruses such as Covid. There are companies that specialize in antibodies and one of them, BioLegend , was recently bought for a whopping $5.3bn . Now, another such company, Teneobio , is getting bought for a big amount. Teneobio has agreed to be acquired by Amgen , an American biotech giant. Amgen is paying $900mn upfront for the company, then an additional $1.6bn in cash contingent on the company hitting certain milestones. It sums up to a $2.5bn deal . Teneobio is a clinical-stage biotech startup working on antibodies aimed at treating cancer, autoimmunity, and other infectious diseases. As it's still in the clinical trial stage with no viable product yet, it appears that Amgen is betting big on Teneobio's trials b

Antitrust: UK Probes Facebook's $1B Kustomer Acquisition

The UK's antitrust agency has launched a probe into Facebook's latest acquisition, that of chatbot platform Kustomer Inc , which Facebook agreed to buy last November for a reported $1bn. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday, the 30th of July, released a statement  indicating it had opened an inquiry into Facebook's purchase of Kustomer, regarding if it'll result in "a substantial lessening of competition" within the market Kustomer operates in. Such probes aren't out of the norm and are routine for big acquisitions. For Facebook, it speaks to the fact that antitrust agencies are watching the company's moves, especially regarding acquisitions. To note, two of Facebook Inc's biggest products outside the main Facebook platform, Instagram and WhatsApp , were acquisitions. In fact, it's primarily acquisitions that have propelled the company's growth. As with such probes, the UK will first seek comments from the public

Hollywood: Reese Witherspoon's Media Co. Sold In $900M Deal

A media company founded by superstar actress Reese Witherspoon has sold for a large amount to a company still in its infancy that hasn't even been named yet. That company is Hello Sunshine , a media company that produces content distributed across various platforms; movies, TV shows, podcasts, et al. Hello Sunshine has been sold to a newly-formed media venture t hat's backed by investment capital from Blackstone , the private equity giant.  The venture is led by ex Disney honchos Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs .  As it is, the Blackstone-funded venture is acquiring a majority stake in Hello Sunshine from a group of external investors while anchor shareholders like Witherspoon and her founding partners will roll over and retain their equity stakes in the newly-formed venture. Officially, the deal's financial terms weren't disclosed, but a report from The Wall Street Journal says it's a $900mn deal. According to the report, the Blackstone-funded venture will pay $500mn

Earnings: Shopify Beats Estimates, Reaches Major Milestone

In this season of earnings results and we at The Techee  reporting on them, we're here with a beat on Shopify , which has released its earnings statement for the second quarter (April-June) of this year. In Q2, Shopify beat revenue expectations from analysts and as well achieved a major financial milestone by crossing $1bn in quarterly revenue for the first time. Shopify had $1.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 57% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $897mn , most of which was due to a $778mn gain in equity investments, likely from Shopify's stake in Affirm , a major 'buy now, pay later' lender. As usual, most of Shopify's sales ( $785mn ) came from "Merchant Solutions", which groups additional services the company offers atop recurring subscriptions charged to online retailers. Sales from subscriptions came at $334mn in the quarter. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), representing the total worth of transactions made on the Shopify platform,

Alert: Square Buys Australia's Afterpay For $29B

It's a big day in the fintech world. There's been a major acquisition with a major American fintech company, Square , buying Australia's foremost fintech startup, Afterpay , a 'buy now, pay later' lender. Square has reached an agreement to buy Afterpay for a whopping $29bn , marking one of Australia's biggest buyouts. It's a big deal that a startup founded barely seven years ago is selling for $29bn.  Square will pay the $29bn all with shares. It means that shares of Afterpay, which are traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, will be exchanged for Square stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Afterpay is Australia's foremost 'buy now, pay later (BNPL)' lender in online retail. For the uninitiated, the 'buy now, pay later' business is a relatively young one providing alternatives to credit cards for consumers to shop online. It provides loans for consumers to shop online and then pay back in installments. Usually, credi

Markets: US SEC Takes Aim At Chinese IPOs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken a swipe at Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) after regulatory hiccups in China have affected many Chinese stocks listed on US markets and American stockholders holding them. The SEC has issued new guidance on Chinese companies seeking to list shares in the US, requiring them to make certain disclosures to investors or otherwise refrain from listing in the US markets. First of all, usually, Chinese companies listing in the US don't actually sell shares of the operating companies but that of shell companies with contractual relationships with the operating companies. These shell shares, known as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) , are used to circumvent restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese shares imposed by the country's government. Now, the SEC in a statement has made it clear that Chinese companies seeking to list in the US must provide clear descriptions of the shell operations involved in such listing