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Showing posts from June, 2019

A Look At SpinLaunch

A depiction of a SpinLaunch orbital vehicle placed in an electric kinetic launcher image: SpinLaunch There are several big name space companies -- to name a few; SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Boeing -- that deliver payloads and satellites to space. Each of the aforementioned companies take different but quite similar approaches to launch payloads into space, the similarity being the use of vertical rockets. But there's one company -- named SpinLaunch -- working on a different way, this time looking to send objects to space using a catapult, yes you read that right. Just how legit you may ask?,...as legit as being able to secure $40 million in funding from investors including Airbus, Kleiner Perkins and Alphabet, and also being able to secure a contract with the U.S. military . The contract recently secured from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is SpinLaunch's first ever. SpinLaunch, by early next year, aims to begin the first tests of firing catapults containing payloa

WhatsApp Said To Poach Top Executive From WorldRemit

image: WhatsApp Facebook's WhatsApp has hired a top executive from WorldRemit, a U.K. money transfer startup valued at more than $900 million , with nearly $400 million in total funding. Reuters reported the hire, citing three persons 'familiar with the matter'. The top executive in particular is Alice Newton-Rex, WorldRemit's chief product officer, which Reuters reports will join WhatsApp's product team later this year. According to one cited person familiar with the matter, Newton-Rex will not work on Facebook's recently unveiled digital currency, Libra , but will work on the main WhatsApp messaging service. WhatsApp - one of the world's largest messaging apps, with over 1 billion users -- has been expanding its team in Europe, including in London. image: WhatsApp According to Newton-Rex's LinkedIn profile , she's been at WorldRemit for nearly five years, initially serving in two product roles before becoming chief product officer

Microsoft Makes Bank On Adaptive's IPO

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella image: Microsoft Adaptive Biotechnologies -- a commercial-stage life sciences company that's aiming to leverage the human immune system to diagnose and fight diseases -- recently debuted on the public markets, soaring roughly 140% from an initial $20 per share to $48.30 per share (as of writing). Prior to its IPO, Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies raised roughly $400 million in funding according to Crunchbase data . One big winner from the company's IPO was Microsoft, which previously invested $45 million in the company at $10.67 a share. Now at $48 a pop, the value of Microsoft's stake in the company has grown nearly five fold. Microsoft invested in Adaptive Biotechnologies as part of a cloud partnership. Adaptive's S-1 filing  indicated $500,000 in R&D spend on Microsoft Azure in 2018, with a commitment to spend $12 million over a seven-year period. Adaptive Biotechnologies CFO Chad Cohen image: Adaptive Biotechno

Theranos' Holmes To Face Trial Next Year

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Elizabeth Holmes -- the founder and former CEO of Theranos, a now defunct but once $9 billion valued company known for its claims to have revolutionized blood testing and now accused of being fraudulent  -- has been ordered to stand trial next year on fraud charges along with former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani. At a hearing in a San Jose, California federal court, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ordered jury selection to begin in the trial of the two former top Theranos executives, with a set date on the 28th of July, 2020. Holmes and Balwani were previously indicted on 11 counts of conspiracy and wire fraud and both pleaded not guilty. The two ex-Theranos leaders are accused of leveraging advertising and solicitations to urge doctors and patients to use the company's testing laboratory services even though they knew it didn't yield accurate and reliable results. Prosecuto

Apple Said To Allot $100 Million Lifeline For Japan Display

image: Apple Japan Display -- a struggling liquid-crystal display (LCD) manufacturing joint venture set up by Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba -- has announced that a customer will invest $100 million as part of a bailout led by a Chinese investment firm. According to a piece from Reuters , that customer is Apple, which accounted for 60.6% of Japan Display's revenue in its last fiscal year. Reuters says an investment group led by China’s Harvest Group is investing up to 80 billion yen ($743 million) in Japan Display. As Apple shifts away from the use of liquid-crystal displays, with the iPhone XR being the only LCD model in the company's 2018 lineup, Japan Display has struggled with funding. According to Bloomberg , Japan Display was in line for a $1.1 billion bailout from Taiwan’s TPK Holding before the smartphone touch panel manufacturer pulled out from a rescue deal. Inside an Apple store in Taiwan image: Apple Japan Display has a big $900 million debt to Apple fo

Postmates Adds Google's Kristin Reinke To Board

Kristin Reinke image: Postmates Not long after hiring a long-time Apple engineer to work on its delivery robot, Postmates has announced the addition of Kristin Reinke, Google's vice president of finance, to its board. Reinke will join Postmates as an independent director. Her appointment signals preparations by Postmates in anticipation of an IPO . Reinke has been on Google's finance team since 2005. She previously worked at Oracle, where she headed Global Business Practices for its Alliances & Channels division. Reinke is joining a board that includes Postmates' founders and representatives from investors Founders Fund, Spark Capital and Tiger Global. "As Postmates continues to innovate and shape the on-demand delivery category, Kristin brings a wide range of financial expertise and experience to our board of directors," Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann said in a statement. "Given her impressive track record at Google and Oracle, I am confi

New Balance Debuts New Shoes With 3D-Printed Soles

New Balance 990 Sport image: New Balance New Balance has launched two new pairs of sneakers -- the  990 Sport and the FuelCell Echo -- that comes with soles 3D-printed by Formlabs, a Massachusetts-based 3D printing startup valued at $1 billion  after an investment from blue-chip VC New Enterprise Associates last year. The two sneakers are crafted atop a uniform 3D-printed sole dubbed TripleCell . The TripleCell sole is made with a new proprietary photopolymer resin dubbed  Rebound Resin . Formlabs put together this resin as part of a partnership -- first announced in 2017 -- with New Balance. New Balance says the new Resin is "designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures with the durability, reliability, and longevity expected from an injection molded thermoplastic." New Balance 990 Sport image: New Balance New Balance's new sneakers are manufactured in the U.S. The 990 Sport and the FuelCell Echo will hit stores on the 28th of June and

Apple Reportedly Shifts Mac Pro Production To China

Architecture of the new Apple Mac Pro image: Apple According to a report from the Wall Street Journal , Apple is manufacturing the new Mac Pro in China, shifting production of what had stood as its only major device manufactured in the U.S. outside the country. According to the WSJ, Apple has tapped Chinese contractor Quanta Computer to manufacture the $6,000 high-end desktop computer and is boosting production at a factory near Shanghai. The paper says Quanta's facility being close to other Apple suppliers in Asia makes it possible for Apple to lower shipping costs compared to shipping Mac Pro components to the U.S. Apple's previous Mac Pro model -- released in 2013 -- was assembled in the U.S. by manufacturing contractor Flex Ltd, made possible by a $100 million investment from Apple for a plant located in Austin, Texas. The new Mac Pro's cooling system image: Apple Although manufacturing has reportedly been shifted to China, a spokesman for Apple t

Livongo Files For IPO

Livongo President, Dr. Jennifer Schneider image: Livongo Livongo -- a Mountain View, California-based digital health company that sells hardware-software interlinked personal health platforms -- has filed for an IPO with the SEC. Livongo is one the first companies to file for a public offering in the digital health sector. Although the sector is filled with several companies -- to name a few; Zocdoc, Proteus, Butterfly, Tempus and 23andMe -- that have collectively raised billions in funding, most of them still remain private. Going by Livongo's S-1 filing, the company recorded $68.4 million revenue in 2018, up 122% from $30.8 million in 2017. But Livongo isn't profitable, with $33.4 million in 2018 losses, up nearly 100% from $16.9 million the year before. Other key takes from Livongo's IPO filing include: $32 million Q1 2019 revenue, compared to $12.46 million in Q1 2018. Roughly $15 million Q1 2019 loss, compared to $4.2 million in Q1 2018.  $54.9 million

Apple's Jony Ive Leaves To Form Own Design Company

Apple's chief design officer, Jony Ive image: Apple Apple has announced that its chief design officer and nearly three decade old veteran Jony Ive is leaving the company later this year to form an independent design company that'll count Apple as a primary client. Ive will continue to work on projects with Apple at his own design firm and will also be able to work with other clients. Apple's design team will now be led by Evans Hankey, its vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design. They'll both report to Apple COO Jeff Williams. Apple's newly appointed senior vice president of Operations, Sabih Khan. Khan has been at Apple for more than two decades. image: Apple Along with Ive's departure, Apple has also announced a new addition to its executive team. Sabih Khan, a 24-year Apple veteran, has been named as Apple's senior vice president of Operations. In his new position, Khan will head Ap

Fungible Raises $200 Million Softbank-Led Series C

Deep Nishar, a former Google and LinkedIn executive and now Senior Managing Partner at Softbank led the round for Fungible on behalf of the Softbank Vision Fund. Photograph by Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech Fungible, a Santa Clara-based company founded by Juniper Networks co-founder Pradeep Sindhu and ex-Apple senior vice president of software engineering Bertrand Serlet, has raised $200 million in Series C funding led by the Softbank Vision Fund, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners and other unspecified existing investors. With this funding, Fungible has now raised more than $300 million since inception. Other investors in the company include notable names like Battery Ventures and Mayfield Fund. The company builds semiconductor technology that it calls "data-centric computing". In acute terms, Fungible builds semiconductors that helps data centers keep up with increasing loads while maintaining existing hardware infrastructure. The company se

VW And Ford's Partnership Could Be Expanded

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess image: Volkswagen According to a Bloomberg report , Volkswagen's supervisory board plans to talk through and maybe agree to next steps on expanding its partnership with Ford at a meeting scheduled to hold in two weeks time. The report says a previously announced partnership  on vans and pickup trucks could be bind at the meeting scheduled on the 11th of July and that the partnership could potentially expand into development of self-driving and electric-car technology. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess previously said the German automaker was not yet committed to working on self-driving technology with Ford but this may change after the board meeting scheduled to hold soon. Both automakers were also previously reported to be in disagreement over an investment in Ford's self-driving unit. Ford was said to be seeking at least $500 million after earlier seeking a billion dollars but was met with resistance from Volkswagen. A Ford self-drivin

Instagram Explore Ads May Be $1 Billion Slot For Facebook

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch Not long after analysts from Morgan Stanley predicted India's Ola Cabs as Uber's biggest potential threat in the U.K.  despite current competition from Bolt (formerly Taxify), analysts from the same investment bank have predicted that adding advertising to the Instagram Explore tab could add $1 billion to Facebook's revenue by 2021. Instagram recently announced it'll start placing ads within the Explore tab in the Instagram app for the first time. New ads will come into sight when Instagram users tap into Explore posts and scroll further for related content, while the main grid stays ad-free. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak predicts that ads from the Explore tab could boost Facebook's total revenue by around $1.2 billion -- by 2021 -- if  monetization to the tune of $2 per user can be attained and user growth rates are maintained. But there are two potential hurdles accordin

TripActions Raises $250 Million Series D

Andreessen Horowitz co-founder and TripActions board member Ben Horowitz image: JD Lasica on Flickr Few months after Andreessen Horowitz led a $154 million round for corporate travel startup TripActions, the blue-chip VC firm has again led new funding for the company, this time a $250 million Series D that values it at $4 billion, four times its previous $1 billion valuation. A p ress release from TripActions says revenue is growing 5x annually which kind of explains why the company has quadrupled its valuation in less than a year. Along with Andreessen Horowitz, VC firms Lightspeed Venture Partners, Zeev Ventures and Group 11 (formerly SGVC) also participated in this round. TripActions -- which now has more than 700 employees spread across nine offices globally -- says it'll make use of the new funding to support global expansion, double down on partnerships, and further invest in its corporate travel platform. The Palo Alto-based company has more than 2,000 customers

StockX Raises $110 Million At A $1 Billion+ Valuation

StockX co-founder and outgoing CEO Josh Luber. Luber will be replaced as CEO by ex-Stubhub president Scott Cutler but will continue to serve on the company's executive team and board. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch Detroit-based sneakers and other fashion marketplace StockX has raised $110 million in Series C funding that values it at over $1 billion. VC firms DST Global, GGV Capital, General Atlantic, GV and Battery Ventures were investors in this round. Along with this funding, StockX has announced a new CEO by name of Scott Cutler, a longtime tech executive who previously served as president of ticket marketplace StubHub and most recently as a senior vice president at eBay. StockX's outgoing CEO and co-founder Josh Luber will continue to serve on the company's executive team and board of directors. Also as part of this investment, GGV managing partner Hans Tung is joining StockX's board of directors. StockX plans to funnel the new capital

Boeing Completes Parachute Testing For The Starliner

A  -- depiction of a -- Boeing Starliner space capsule as it docks to the International Space Station image: Boeing Boeing has announced it has completed the fifth and final qualification test of the parachute system of the Starliner , a new space crew capsule the aerospace giant is constructing for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program. NASA's program -- which also involves SpaceX -- is a planned mission backed by the U.S. government to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on privately operated space vehicles for the first time ever. Boeing and SpaceX have been selected for the planned mission and have both come up with unique spacecraft designs to fly selected U.S. astronauts to the ISS. NASA, last year, unveiled the first nine astronauts that'll fly on either SpaceX's Crew Dragon or Boeing's Starliner spacecrafts. For safety reasons, both spacecrafts are kit with parachute systems that'll be deployed when required. T

Boeing Partners With Kitty Hawk

Boeing airplanes image: Boeing Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has partnered with Kitty Hawk, a Mountain View, California-based flying car startup backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page and led by Udacity co-founder and former Google VP Sebastian Thrun. In a joint  press release , both companies announced they'll work on "future efforts to advance safe urban air mobility", but didn't specify what the efforts entail. But a good guess can be that both parties will work on developing flying vehicles. This partnership comes not long after Boeing completed a first test flight of its own flying vehicle. Boeing -- being one of the largest aerospace companies and top manufacturer of commercial airplanes -- likely brings much to the table for Kitty Hawk, which is still a quite small and stealth startup. A Kitty Hawk flying vehicle image: Kitty Hawk Corporation “Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future

Carbon Raises $260 Million At A $2.4 Billion Valuation

A Ford engineer works on a Carbon 3D printing machine. Ford is a major user of Carbon's 3D printers and has also partnered with the company. image: Ford In consensus with a previous report of 3D printing company Carbon raising up to $300 million in new funding, the Redwood City, California-based company has announced $260 million in new funding co-led by Madrone Capital Partners and Baillie Gifford. New investors Temasek and Arkema, along with existing investors Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity, adidas Ventures, JSR Corporation and Sequoia Capital also participated in the round. This funding values Carbon -- which has now raised more than $680 million since inception -- at north of $2.4 billion. The company plans to use the new capital to broaden R&D efforts, fuel expansion in Europe and Asia and establish its first "Advanced Development Facility", an advanced manufacturing facility [like its name suggests] that'll help Carbon's engineering teams w

Ken Lerer Steps Down As Buzzfeed Chairman

Ken Lerer Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch Ken [full name Kenneth] Lerer, a veteran media executive and venture capitalist, is stepping down from the chairman role at Buzzfeed after a decade of occupying this position. According to  Axios  which first broke the news of his departure, Lerer is leaving for “personal reasons” to focus on Lerer Hippeau Ventures, a New York-based VC firm where he serves as managing director. Under Lerer and Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti's guide, Buzzfeed has grown to become one of the biggest names with digital media, valued at $1.7 billion  in 2016. Lerer and Peretti are no new players in the digital media world, having previously co-founded the Huffington Post, a popular news website that sold to AOL for $315 million  in 2011. Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti Photograph by Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech Lerer Hippeau Ventures which Lerer founded is a top VC firm that has backed companies like Warby Parker, Allbirds,

Morgan Stanley Says Ola Is Uber's Real London Rival

Ola Cabs CEO Bhavish Aggarwal (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella image: Microsoft According to analysts from investment bank Morgan Stanley, India's Ola Cabs persists as the main potential threat to Uber's stronghold on the London ride-hailing market. This is despite the recent return of Bolt (formerly Taxify) to the London ride-hailing market, after a previous ban  from the city emanating from the lack of an operating license. According to Morgan Stanley analysts, evidence suggests Bolt's recent return to London is not having a significant impact on Uber's operations in the city. A report from the analysts said Uber's app downloads initially slid after Bolt's return but has since recovered. Bolt has raised nearly $200 million in funding according to Crunchbase data , compared to Ola's $3.8 billion in funding. Bolt CEO Markus Villig image: Bolt Reports have suggested (paywall) Ola plans to launch in London by the end of this year

Monzo Raises £113 million In New Funding

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield image: TEDx on Flickr Fresh off  £85 million in funding last October, U.K. digital bank Monzo has announced £113 million in new funding led by Y Combinator Continuity, with participation from other existing investors. This funding values Monzo at £2 billion ($2.5 billion) post-money, double a previous £1 billion valuation from its last funding. This funding comes on the heels of Monzo's expansion into the U.S . The U.K.-based company is working with an -- FDIC-insured -- partner bank to operate in the U.S. as it doesn't yet have a banking license in the country. (Starting from left) Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky, N26 CEO Valetin Stalf and Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield. Revolut and N26 are also European fintech unicorns. Photo by XDante for TechCrunch Monzo currently has more than two million users and says 200,000 people signed up in May (last month) alone. The company's new raise comes on the heels of another fintech startup, Blend

U.S. Cedes Tariffs On Japanese Aluminium For Tesla Batteries

image: Tesla The United States Department of Commerce has agreed to do away with a 10% tariff on imported aluminium from Japan that's used by Tesla in the making of battery cells at its Nevada Gigafactory. This decision is in response to an earlier request from Tesla for a tariff exclusion on 10,000 tonnes of Japanese aluminium annually. The Japanese aluminium Tesla imports is produced by Nippon Light Metal Holdings, a Japanese multinational that's engaged in the manufacture and sale of aluminum and chemical products via several subsidiaries. In a document dated June 5 and recently put on a government website, the U.S. Department of Commerce said the -- Japanese -- aluminium “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality.” The tariff waiver on the Japanese aluminium upholds for one year.

Apple Says It Gets Fees From Less Than 1% Of Spotify Users

image: Apple In response to an antitrust complaint from Spotify, Apple has disclosed that it collects a 15% fee from roughly 680,000 out of Spotify's 100 million paying customers [and 217 million total monthly active users]. Apple -- which competes directly with Spotify with the Apple Music streaming service -- said this in response to a complaint to EU regulators from Spotify that alleges Apple's control of the App Store, including fees it charges for processing payments, has made it hard for rivals to compete for music streaming subscribers. Apple charges a 30% fee for in-app purchases made on the App Store but that drops to 15%  on subscription purchases made after a year. In exchange for the fees, Apple handles billing and payments -- for apps -- in over 100 countries. But in reaction to Spotify's complaint, The Cupertino-based iPhone maker said that only a little fraction of Spotify's users are affected by its fees. That's because Spotify used Apple

Blend Raises $130 Million Series E

Blend co-founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Blend, a San Francisco-based SaaS platform for digital lenders, has raised $130 million in Series E funding. Temasek and General Atlantic led the funding, with participation from existing backers Greylock Partners, Founders Fund, 8VC and Lightspeed Venture Partners. With this funding, Blend has now raised a total of $310 million. Although the valuation for this round is not disclosed, Fortune reports Blend is now valued at close to $1 billion, up from a previous $500 million post-money valuation [according to Pitchbook data]. The funding comes at a good time for Blend, which claims it now processes nearly $2 billion in loans per day for more than 150 lenders. The company has also recently expanded into deposit accounts and home equity, and homeowners insurance. Blend says it'll make use of the funding to continue growing its current team of nearly 400 employees and invest in new tech, grow its par

DJI Debuts Custom Drone For Government Agencies

A close-up shot of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom image: DJI Facing increased security concerns from the U.S. government, Chinese drone maker DJI has announced a new "Government Edition" drone that's made "specifically for use in high-security situations" by global government agencies. DJI says the new edition's architecture ensures that drone data like photos and videos captured during flight never leaves the drone or get shared with unauthorized parties including DJI itself. The Shenzhen-based company says the way the drone is built ensures it "meets the stringent requirements of the government sector for data management, risk mitigation, and enterprise-level data sharing control." DJI first developed the Government Edition for the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services, and is now offering it to other government organizations around the globe. The Chinese drone maker says the Government Edition drone partook in more than

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Okta Buys Cloud Security Startup Auth0 For $6.5B

A very big new acquisition has happened in the tech industry, with Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA), the publicly-traded cloud identity and access management software provider, announcing an agreement to buy Auth0, a fellow cloud identity software provider, for a price of $6.5 billion to be paid all with shares. A $6.5 billion exit for Auth0 marks a major win for the startup scene in Seattle, the tech hub where Auth0 is based and also a major win for the company's backers and investors. Auth0 last raised venture funding last year in July with a $120 million Series F round that valued the company at $1.9 billion. Now, it's about to sell for more than triple that amount. Auth0 has raised more than $330 million in total venture funding, with investors including the likes of Salesforce Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Telstra Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and DTCP. Salesforce Ventures led Auth0's most recent $120 million Series F round. With its acquisition of a fellow cloud identity a

John McAfee Indicted For $13M Crypto "Pump And Dump" Scheme

In October last year, John McAfee who's a controversial entrepreneur best known for founding the cybersecurity powerhouse bearing his last name McAfee was indicted for tax evasion by US authorities  with accusations of earning millions of dollars from cryptocurrency schemes and failing to report income and pay taxes as required to the US government. Now, it appears that McAfee is facing even more charges from US authorities, with the District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) having just announced  further indictments of him for fraud and money laundering coming from alleged crypto "pump and dump" schemes. McAfee along with an associate, Jimmy Watson, are accused of hyping and promoting certain cryptocurrencies on social media in order to artificially inflate their prices without disclosing that McAfee owned large quantities of the promoted crypto and intended to profit from his promotion. McAfee, Watson, and other unnamed associates are alleged to have p

Peter Thiel Cashes Out Big From Palantir

After taking his data analytics and mining company, Palantir, public last year, it seems that Peter Thiel is keen on cashing out significantly from his stake in the company after getting an opportunity to do so on the public markets.  Thiel founded and helped build Palantir from the ground up into a data analytics powerhouse with annual sales of over $1 billion.   Palantir stayed as a private company for 17 years before hitting the public markets. According to regulatory filings and records , Peter Thiel has sold over $780 million of Palantir shares since the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in September 2020.  Thiel's largest single sale transaction was an offloading of 20 million shares for $504.8 million on the 19th of February, 2020. His second-largest was the sale of 23 million shares in a transaction netting around $236 million on the 30th of September, 2020, which was the very day Palantir began trading on the NYSE. Altogether, Thiel has netted mor

New SPAC Deal: Bitcoin Mining Startup Cipher

The latest technology company to join the flurry of SPAC mergers is Cipher Mining, a newly-formed US-based bitcoin mining startup that's an offshoot of Bitfury, a leading maker of bitcoin mining hardware that's based in the Netherlands. Cipher Mining Inc will merge with Good Works Acquisition Corp (Nasdaq: GWAC) in a deal valuing the bitcoin mining startup at $2 billion. The SPAC will be anchored by a $425 million PIPE round committed by investors including Fidelity, Morgan Stanley (via its subsidiary Counterpoint Global), and Cipher's parent Bitfury. Bitfury will contribute a $50 million investment to the PIPE round that's structured as purchase credits for equipment and services from it for Cipher Mining. The SPAC merger will hand over $595 million in gross proceeds to Cipher Mining, consisting of the $425 million PIPE round and $170 million of cash held in trust by Good Works Acquisition Corp. Upon completion of the SPAC merger, the investors in Cipher's PIPE rou

Deal: Twilio Bets $750M On Mobile Comms Provider Syniverse

Twilio, the publicly-traded cloud communications company, has sought to strategically team up with an old-guard provider of mobile and wireless communications technology named Syniverse, with a formal business partnership just  announced between both parties that'll see Twilio invest up to $750 million for a minority stake in Syniverse under its terms. Twilio has agreed to invest up to $750 million in cash for a minority stake in Syniverse, buying the stake from the company's current owner which is the private equity firm Carlyle Group. The partnership between Twilio and Syniverse will see both companies enter into a major business partnership that entails a wholesale agreement whereby Syniverse will process, route and deliver application-to-person (A2P) messages originating and/or terminating between Twilio’s customers and mobile network operators. On Syniverse's end of the deal, the company is getting a business boost by providing services for Twilio which is one of the

American Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M, Valued At $1B+

Skydio, an American startup that makes autonomous drones, has closed a new funding round of $170 million that values it above $1 billion. The round was led by the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Next47, IVP, and Linse Capital, plus a new investor UP.Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the new Series D round for Skydio from its Growth Fund, and with it, Skydio has now raised a total of over $340 million in external funding and then with a $1 billion+ valuation that makes it the highest-valued drone startup in the US. It seems that Skydio has drawn wide investor attraction after the US government placed China's DJI on a blacklist last year. DJI made its mark as the biggest drone maker globally and the largest in the US market but got placed on a government Entity List last year that barred American companies from supplying it with components. The blacklist was instituted by the former Trump administration due to alleged ties to

Carmaker Volvo To Go Fully Electric By 2030

The latest global automaker to commit to transitioning to a fully-electric production output in the future is Swedish carmaker Volvo, which has announced plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030. By then, the company says it intends to have phased out any car in its portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids, and transition to producing fully electric cars. The announcement of Volvo's grand plan comes a year after the company launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge , around the globe, and with just one fully electric car in its product portfolio now, it's apparent that the automaker would need to put in hard work to achieve a fully-electric portfolio in nine years time. To work towards its goal, Volvo has announced that it'll roll out 'several' additional electric car models in the coming years, the word several making the number indistinct. The Swedish automaker is aiming for fully electric cars to make up half of

Jay-Z's Tidal Sells To Payments Company Square In $300M Deal

It seems that this is the season of deals for rapper-cum-businessman Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter as just barely two weeks after he reached a deal to sell half of his premium champagne brand to luxury goods giant LVMH, he's reached yet another deal to sell one of his main business ventures, the music streaming app Tidal. Tidal has agreed to be taken over by Square, the payments company led by Jack Dorsey who's more popular for his role as the CEO of Twitter. In a statement , Square said it'll pay the sum of $297 million in a mix of cash and stock to acquire a "significant majority ownership" stake in Tidal leaving the remaining minority stake will be held by Tidal's artist shareholders. The exact percentage that Square is buying in Tidal isn't disclosed but it's definitely over 50% given it's a majority stake. With Square's statement of acquiring a "significant majority ownership", one can guess somewhere between 50%-80% of the com

Smart TV Maker Vizio Files To Go Public

Vizio, a well-known maker of smart TVs and other complementary equipment such as soundbars, has filed an S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a public listing, seeking to do so for the second time after having previously filed to go public in 2015 but later withdrew its plan in lieu of a $2 billion sale agreement to a Chinese company that unfortunately didn't pan out. The market for technology IPOs has been very hot as of late and it seems that Vizio is coming in at the right time to capitalize on that hotness. A popular maker of smart TVs, Vizio has sold over 80 million TVs and 11 million soundbars since the company's inception, as indicated in its S-1 filing. The company sold 7.1 million TVs in 2020 alone. Vizio has strong revenues and is profitable, reporting $102 million in net income on over $2 billion in revenue in 2020. In the previous year, 2019, Vizio reported a net income of $23 million on $1.8 billion in revenue. Most of Vizio's revenue c

New SPAC Deal: Home Insurance Startup Hippo

Amid a flurry of SPAC mergers as of late, the latest technology company to tap into the boom and reach a deal to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is Hippo, a home insurance startup that makes use of satellite imagery and smart home sensors to gauge and offer better home insurance policies. Hippo will merge with Reinvent Technology Partners Z (NYSE:RPTZ), a SPAC formed by the respective founders of LinkedIn and gaming company Zynga, Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus. Hippo will merge with  Reinvent Technology Partners Z in a deal that'll hand it over $230 million of cash held in trust by the SPAC, plus a $550 million PIPE round to be led by existing investors  Dragoneer, Lennar, and Ribbit Capital. The PIPE round will value Hippo at $5 billion. Following the merger's completion, Hippo expects to have $1.2 billion of cash at hand, fueled by the funds from its SPAC deal plus venture funding that it's already raised. A hot insurance startup, Hippo has raised o