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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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Deal: Mindbody Buys Fitness Startup ClassPass

Mindbody , a leading maker of software for managing gyms and fitness studios, is buying one of the hot startups in its industry. It's buying ClassPass , a popular subscription platform for widespread gym access and online fitness classes. Mindbody will buy Classpass for an undisclosed amount . The company, owned by private equity firm Vista, also announced a strategic $500mn investment along with its ClassPass deal. The acquisition was all with privately held shares, Mindbody said. ClassPass is a celebrated startup in the fitness space. It began as a simple website to book fitness classes with registered studios but morphed into a subscription platform for access to such studios and their fitness classes, with many users paying recurring fees as a steady revenue source.  ClassPass was valued at $1bn from a funding round last year. Given the acquisition's pricing terms weren't disclosed, we can't say for sure if it was higher or lower than the $1bn mark, but for a hint,

Tether Fined $41M For Lying About Fiat Reserves

Tether Limited , the organization behind the eponymous Tether (USDT) stablecoin, has been fined a substantial sum for lying about the fiat reserves backing its stablecoin. It was fined $41mn by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the CFTC's press release , Tether lied to customers that it had sufficient dollar reserves to back every issued USDT token whereas it did not for a long period of time. Over a 26-month sample period from 2016 through 2018, the CFTC said Tether only had sufficient dollar reserves for all its tokens 28% of the time, whereas it lied that it was "fully-backed" all the time. Also, the CFTC said Tether failed to disclose to customers that it had unsecured receivables and non-fiat assets in its supposed cash reserves. The organization further lied to customers that it would undergo routine, professional audits of its reserves but has failed to do any, the CFTC said. For its violations, the CFTC fined ordered Tether to pay a

Deal: Scopely Buys Sony's GSN Games For $1B

Scopely , a top-ranking mobile gaming startup, is expanding its business with a new major acquisition. It's buying GSN Games , a mobile gaming division of entertainment giant Sony, for the sum of $1bn. GSN Games makes popular social casino games such as Bingo Bash and  Solitaire TriPeaks . Social casino games are a genre where gaming studios can extract much revenue if they do it right, and GSN is one of the top contenders in the genre. Scopely will pay $1bn for GSN Games, half of it with cash and the other half with its shares, making Sony a minority shareholder in the mobile gaming company. It's said that Scopely's valuation has climbed to $5.4bn taking into account the shares it'll hand over to Sony as payment. That compares to a $3.3bn valuation when the company raised funding last year.  With GSN, Scopely is stepping up its business substantially by the way of a strategic acquisition. It's a strategy the mobile gaming startup is used to, having made 5 acqui

Microsoft CEO, Other Execs Bag Annual Pay Raises

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has raised the annual pay package of its Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella , the company's latest proxy statement reveals. Nadella enjoyed a substantial pay raise along with several other Microsoft executives. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, Nadella's compensation was $50mn , up 13% compared to the previous year. The lucrative pay package was split into a $2.5mn base salary, $33mn of stock awards, a $14mn cash bonus, and $110k in "other" compensation. Nadella's pay raise was in line with other Microsoft executives, including President Brad Smith and CFO Amy Hood. They each got annual pay raises in the 20% ballpark compared to 2020. The reported pay packages of Microsoft's top executives for the fiscal year is as follows; Satya Nadella (CEO) - $50mn. Amy Hood (CFO) - $23.5mn Brad Smith (President and Chief Legal Officer) - $20.5mn Jean-Philippe Courtois (Executive Vice President) - $17mn Christopher Young (Executive Vice

Deal: Instacart Pays $350M For A Smart Grocery Cart Startup

In a bid to expand, grocery delivery giant Instacart is making its biggest acquisition yet. It'll buy   Caper AI , a New York-based startup that makes smart grocery carts and cashier-less payments tech that complement them. Instacart will pay $350mn for the startup in a combination of cash and shares. Caper AI is a startup working on exciting stuff; smart shopping carts to make the grocery buying process at brick-and-mortar stores easier and faster. Its smart carts can recognize items placed in them with the help of cameras and weight sensors, then calculate their total cost without the need for barcodes as used in most grocery stores. Payment at the counter is then made quickly with Caper's own payments platform. Caper's "AI Cart". credit: Caper Also, Caper sells what's called a "Caper Counter," a checkout system for convenience stores that uses cameras and weight-based sensors instead of barcodes to sum the total cost of items. Caper Counter. cre

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pros, AirPods

Tech giant Apple has added a new set of products to its roster, including new MacBook Pro laptops and AirPods unveiled at a Tuesday online event.  Apple also unveiled new chipsets for the new MacBook Pros, the M1 Pro and M1 Max . MacBook Pros Apple unveiled two MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and 16-inch model. Both will come with the first chipsets designed by Apple specifically for a MacBook Pro, delivering high performance, expectedly.  Apple has brought back the HDMI port and SD card reader to the new MacBook Pro, in addition to three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect peripherals. Removing the HDMI port and SD card reader in MacBooks had generated significant complaints by some Apple users, but it appears they'll be pleased again if they get the new MacBook Pros. Other shared features of the new MacBook Pros include; A 1080p front camera. MagSafe magnetic chargers. Six-speaker sound system. Fast charging - 50% charge in 30 minutes, Apple claims. Touch bar replaced by function keys. One

Deal: Australia's Aristocrat To Buy Playtech For $3.7B

The online gambling industry is hot this year, with billion-dollar deals now a frequent occurrence. The latest billion-dollar deal is Playtech , a London-listed online gambling company, selling to Aristocrat Leisure , an Australian gambling machine manufacturer. Playtech was founded in 1999 by Israeli entrepreneur Teddy Sagi . However, he sold off all his shares  in the company in 2018 and won't profit from this deal. Don't cry for him though, he made other shrewd investments that bestowed him with a net worth nearing $6bn ( Forbes estimate ). Aristocrat (ASX: ALL) has agreed to buy Playtech (LON: PTEC) in a deal worth £2.7bn ($3.7bn). The Australian firm will pay $2.9bn to buy all outstanding Playtech shares and assume $800mn of the firm's debt. It's paying 680 pence in cash per Playtech share, a 58% premium to the company's share price before the announcement. Following the announcement, Playtech's share price jerked up, expectedly. It rose 57% on Monday to

Fast Fashion E-Tailer Lulu's Files For IPO

Lulu's , an online retailer of women's apparel, is headed towards the public markets. It's filed an S-1 document for an initial public offering (IPO), showing its intent to list on the Nasdaq exchange. As expected from S-1 filings, Lulu's has provided great insights into its business, with information not publicly disclosed before. Something very noteworthy is that the online shopping boom of this year emanating from the Covid pandemic has largely favored the company. By The Numbers For its most recent fiscal quarter, the three months ended October 3, 2021, Lulu's brought in between $105mn to $106mn in revenue. Its net income for the same period was at the $3mn-$4mn mark. The estimations are because the final, audited results haven't yet been posted. For the fiscal year ended January 3, 2021, Lulu's posted $249mn in revenue and a net loss of $19mn. It shows that the company has swung from losses to profitability this year, with the net profit of between $3m

Antitrust: Facebook Fined $70M Over Giphy Takeover Probe

The UK's antitrust agency has levied a substantial fine on social media giant Facebook related to its acquisition of Giphy , the popular GIF website. It fined the company  £50.5mn ($69mn) for flouting an order requiring it to supply information related to the agency's investigation of the $400mn acquisition. The UK's  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)  launched a  formal probe  of the Giphy deal last June. The antitrust agency challenged the deal  after probing it,  arguing that it gave Facebook an unfair advantage over rivals that also used Giphy's GIF database. It appears that Facebook failed to comply with demands from the agency's investigation and has been penalized for it. Apparently, the UK's antitrust agency required Facebook to suspend integrating its operations with Giphy's as the agency was investigating the acquisition, but Facebook had failed to indicate it did so despite multiple warnings. "This should serve as a warning to any com

Deal: Walgreens Invests $5.2B In VillageMD, Now Majority Owner

Walgreens Boots Alliance , the giant American pharmacy chain, is doubling down on its investment in one of its healthcare peers; the primary care chain VillageMD . After a previous investment last year, Walgreens is investing an additional sum in VillageMD that'll make it the primary care chain's majority owner. Walgreens has agreed to invest $5.2bn in VillageMD, upping its stake from 30% to 63%. It'll become the primary care chain's majority owner and guide it under its belt to open hundreds of primary care clinics co-located with Walgreens drugstores across the US. The investment is really strategic, giving Walgreens majority ownership in the firm that'll operate most of the primary care clinics attached to its stores. We can refer to it as "full-stack healthcare", where you visit a Walgreens-owned clinic and get prescriptions to buy drugs at a Walgreens pharmacy, though we're aware not everyone is comfortable with one company having that much cont