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Showing posts from July, 2019

Samsung Debuts The Galaxy Tab S6

Galaxy Tab S6 image: Samsung Samsung has unveiled a new tablet: the Galaxy Tab S6, a new device that seems like a jab to the iPad Pro. The new tablet is Samsung's first that features an on-screen fingerprint scanner. It has a 10.5-inch display and a 5.7mm slim body. Other of its features include: 8MP camera [front]/13MP + 5MP dual cameras [rear] 6GB/8GB memory options 128GB/256GB storage options MicroSD support (up to 1TB) 4 speakers 123-degree wide angle lens 420g (weight) A 7,040mAh battery A magnetic strip for the Samsung S Pen to attach to the tablet Samsung Knox [security platform] A new-and-improved version of Samsung DeX [desktop-like functionality] image: Samsung The new tab comes in gray, blue, and blush colors. It'll be available, starting in select markets, as from late August. The Galaxy Tab S6 is an addition to several other products Samsung has unveiled this year. The company has been on quite a spree, with debuts of several new prod

Cloudflare Reportedly Eyeing September IPO

Cloudflare co-founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women According to a new report from Business Insider [paywall] , Cloudflare, a well known San Francisco-based company that powers nearly 10% of all internet requests, is eyeing an IPO in September, not long after raising $150 million  at a reported $3.2 billion valuation. Cloudflare was previously reported to have hired Goldman Sachs for an IPO, but did not file with the SEC until this summer, according to Business Insider. The valuation being targeted for the IPO is not certain, but for a hint, the San Francisco-based company was previously reported to be targeting a valuation of over $3.5 billion . Cloudflare is widely known for its content delivery network (CDN) that powers more than 18 million internet properties. For a hint into how big a role Cloudflare's network plays in the internet, a recent 30 minute outage  took thousands of other popular services, including Discor

DigitalOcean Appoints New CEO And CFO

DigitalOcean's outgoing CEO, Mark Templeton image: DigitalOcean DigitalOcean, a well-known New York-based cloud infrastructure startup, has appointed a new CEO and CFO. DigitalOcean's new CEO is Yancey Spruill, who previously served as COO and CFO at SendGrid. Spruill, who began his career as an engineer, guided SendGrid through a $150 million IPO in 2017 and a recent sale to Twilio in a $3 billion all-stock deal. DigitalOcean's new CFO is Bill Sorenson, who previously served as CFO at Enernoc and Qlik. Sorenson guided Qlik through an IPO in 2010. Qlik was later acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $3 billion. Sorenson also guided Enernoc through a $250 million sale to the Enel Group in 2017. A meeting room at DigitalOcean's NYC office image: DigitalOcean Spruill, the new CEO, is replacing Mark Templeton, who announced his decision to step down in May. Templeton has spent just a little more than one year as DigitalOcean's CEO. He

Ford Acquires Quantum Signal AI

Ford CEO Jim Hackett image: Ford Ford has acquired Quantum Signal AI, a two decade old Saline, Michigan-based firm that has worked on robotics solutions for several clients, including the U.S. military. Quantum Signal has helped the U.S. military develop software that let it remotely control robotic vehicles located thousands of miles away. It also set up a simulation environment for the military that's capable of testing autonomous vehicle designs. That simulation software is still in use today. Perhaps, Quantum Signal's work with military tech explains why it has operated in relative obscurity for 20 years running. Ford is acquiring Quantum Signal AI to bolster its self-driving efforts. Quantum's expertise will support Ford in several areas, including software development and hardware prototyping, as the automaker develops self-driving vehicles. If you recall, Argo AI, Ford's self-driving unit, recently secured a $2.6 billion investment from Volkswagen.

Monday.com Raises $150 Million At A $1.9 Billion Valuation

Monday.com co-founders Roy Mann (left) and Eran Zinman (right) image: Monday.com Monday.com, an Israeli founded workplace collaboration startup, has announced  $150 million in Series D funding that TechCrunch reports  values it at $1.9 billion, nearly four times a $500 million valuation last year. Sapphire Ventures led the funding, with participation from Hamilton Lane, ION Crossover Partners, Vintage Investment Partners, and HarbourVest Partners. The funding brings the total raised by Monday.com to $234 million. A $1.9 billion valuation is really impressive for a startup that launched five years ago. What's more impressive is a near-quadruple in valuation in a one-year span. Monday.com's growth should justify that, with more than 80,000 customers currenctly compared to 35,000 a year ago. Monday.com's customers include well-known names like WeWork, Hulu, Glossier, Phillips, Zippo, and hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. Its customers are spread across 140 countri

Qualcomm And Tecent Collaborate On Gaming, 5G

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf Photograph by Stuart Isett for Fortune Magazine Qualcomm and Tencent have announced they'll collaborate on projects that could include joint work on mobile gaming devices equipped with Qualcomm chips, game content and performance optimizations, cloud gaming, AR/VR, 5G gaming use, and "additional relevant technologies". Both companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for co-operation in the aforementioned fields although the agreement is non-binding, meaning neither of both parties are actually obligated to the partnership. A non-binding agreement entails there's a probability both companies may not actually progress on the partnership, but it makes for an interesting one. Qualcomm and Tencent will collaborate on projects that could include making Tencent's video games better play on devices equipped with Qualcomm chips, and making a 5G version of Tencent-backed gaming phone. The gaming phone, created by Tenc

Uber Reportedly Cutting One-Third Of Marketing Department

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Photo by Michael Bloomberg on Flickr A new report from Bloomberg  says Uber is dismissing up to 400 employees [or one-third] from its marketing department globally. Bloomberg reports Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi made this known in an e-mail sent to employees this Monday. “Today, there’s a general sense that while we’ve grown fast, we’ve slowed down,” Khosrowshahi is said to have stated in the email reviewed by Bloomberg. “This happens naturally as companies get bigger, but it is something we need to address, and quickly.” 400 employees represents roughly 1.6% of Uber's global headcount. Such layoff would count as the first major reorganization of Uber's marketing and communications division since Jill Hazelbaker, a longtime Uber executive, took over. Hazelbaker took over after the recent departure  of former chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina. Messina stepped down along with former COO Barney Harford. Hazelbaker is a long-time comm

Microsoft Acquires BlueTalon

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood Photograph by Fortune Most Powerful Women Microsoft has announced it has acquired BlueTalon, a Redwood City-based startup that helps companies set and enforce policies on how their employees can access their data. Financial details of the deal are not disclosed. BlueTalon had raised more than $25 million in funding, from investors including Bloomberg Beta, the Stanford-StartX Fund, Data Collective, Divergent Ventures, Maverick Ventures and more. The BlueTalon team will become part of Azure Data , where it'll work on data privacy and governance solutions. Microsoft happens to be getting key intellectual property and talent with its acquisition. "This acquisition is a huge force multiplier on BlueTalon’s mission to make data easily and safely accessible across the enterprise by providing high quality data governance and compliance solutions." BlueTalon CEO Eric Tilenius said in a blog post . "With the BlueTalon team now part of Micro

Jumia To Set Up Pickup Points At Petrol Stations

A Jumia Food rider image: Jumia African e-commerce company Jumia has partnered with Vivo Energy, an operator of more than 2,100 Shell and Engen branded service [petrol] stations across the African continent, to use its stations as pick-up and drop off points that'll allow customers collect or return online orders made on Jumia. Jumia's customers will also be able to place and pay for orders at some service stations. Jumia and Vivo say there are also other initiatives being explored that'll combine Vivo's physical service stations with Jumia's e-commerce services. Vivo has service stations in 23 African countries, more than enough to cover the 14 countries Jumia operates in. In addition to selling vehicle fuels and other petrol-related products at its service stations, Vivo also has shops, restaurants, card services spots, and other non-fuel related businesses operating at its stations. Jumia executives celebrate at the company's recent IPO on the

Ten Robotics Startups To Watch This Year

Skydio co-founder and CEO Adam Bry Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch Robotics is a wide field with several use cases, including healthcare, warehouse and inventory management, security, bionics, industrial ops, agriculture, education and more. Startups in this industry collectively  raised $2.7 billion in VC funding in 2017, signalling solid investor confidence in the industry. Between 2018 and so far this year, several robotics startups have collectively raised hundreds of millions in funding, a recent example being Fetch Robotics, which is fresh off $46 million in Series C funding . A big acquisition also happened this year; Johnson & Johnson's purchase of Auris Health for $3.4 billion , with additional payments of up to $2.35 billion tied to certain milestones. Auris develops surgical robots used for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the human lung. Activities like the aforementioned indicate the robotics field is a very promising one. Tha

Vice Media Reportedly In Talks To Acquire Refinery29

Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch According to a report from the Wall Street Journal  [paywall], Vice Media is in talks to acquire Refinery29, a popular digital media outlet last  valued at $500 million . The Journal says talks are still on-going, with a possibility that an offer may not be made. If such acquisition occurs, it would mark a combination of two of the largest venture-backed media companies in the US. Refinery29 and Vice Media are among a wave of several digital media outlets that have raised huge funding at big valuations. Other of its kind include Buzzfeed and Vox Media, two other well known digital media outlets. The Wall Street Journal reports Refinery29 has drastically lessened its losses  and grown its revenue this year by diversifying its revenue sources. Other digital media companies have also made moves to cut losses, with layoffs regularly part of such moves. Vice Media did so by cutting 10% of its staff

Gatik Begins Autonomous Deliveries For Walmart

Gatik's autonomous light truck image: Gatik Gatik -- a Palo Alto based self-driving vehicle startup that recently launched out of stealth with $4.5 million in funding -- has kicked off a pilot to deliver goods for Walmart in Arkansas. This is possible thanks to a legislation passed in March that permitted self-driving vehicles to operate in the state. Gatik introduced Walmart as a partner when launched out of stealth last month. The Palo Alto-based startup focuses on business to business (B2B) short-haul deliveries, a significant market given business logistics is a very large industry. Gatik claims its solution cuts delivery costs by up to 50%, while improving metrics like safety and efficiency, and reducing congestion and emissions. Gatik is led by Gautam Narang (CEO) and Arjun Narang (CTO) -- two brothers with more than a decade of experience in the fields of robotics, AI and machine learning -- alongside a third co-founder, Apeksha Kumavat. The trio previously had

Founders Fund Reportedly Backing Scale At Unicorn Valuation

Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch According to a report from The Information , Scale -- a supplier of software to the self-driving vehicle industry -- is raising new funding that values it around $1 billion, a big jump from a previous $90 million valuation [according to Pitchbook data]. The report says Founders Fund is expected to invest around $50 million into the San Francisco-based startup. The Information reports says Scale's annual recurring revenue [customer commitments to purchase its software over the next 12 months] has risen to $40 million from $4 million last year, indicating some good growth at the company. Although many self-driving vehicle makers, being in early testing stages, are yet to generate revenue, Scale which supplies software used by them is on a good side of business. Its customers include well known companies like Nuro, GM Cruise, Waymo, Lyft, Toyota, Zoox, Embark and more. Scale has raise

Uber In Grocery Delivery Talks With European Chains

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune As confirmed by Uber in a statement to Bloomberg , the ride-hailing company is in talks with European supermarket chains to roll out a grocery delivery service as rivals like Deliveroo and Just Eat make moves to better compete in the market. “We’re currently speaking with a number of the major supermarkets around Europe,” an Uber spokesperson said in an e-mail. The talks come shortly after Deliveroo raised $575 million in funding led by Amazon, which the delivery startup said would be used to expand its presence. According to Bloomberg, Uber has held talks with the U.K.’s second-biggest grocer, J Sainsbury, even as the supermarket chain  recently partnered with Deliveroo to deliver pizza to customers' homes. A partnership between Uber and a U.K. supermarket chain may put pressure on online grocer Ocado, which holds a significant share of the online grocery market in U.K. Ocado -- which recorded  £1.6 billi

DOJ Clears T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

T-Mobile CEO John Legere image: T-Mobile The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced  it has reached a settlement with T-Mobile and Sprint regarding their proposed merger. The settlement is hinged on certain terms that both companies must fulfill, including a substantial sale of some assets to create space for another competitor. That new competitor is Dish, which has agreed to pay $1.4 billion for Sprint’s prepaid mobile business and another $3.6 billion for its 800 MHz spectrum assets. In the event of a merger, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to provide Dish's wireless customers access to its network for seven years [while Dish builds out its own network], and offer transition services for a period of up to 3 years. Dish will also have an option to lease certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by T-Mobile and Sprint in the event of a merger. T-Mobile CEO John Legere (left) and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure image: T-Mobile A T-Mobil

Bond Leads $100 Million Series D For Hippo

Bond -- a VC firm led by famed investor Mary Meeker -- has led $100 million in Series D funding for Hippo, a Palo-Alto based home insurance startup that launched in 2017. Alongside Bond, participants in this funding include Comcast Ventures, Iconiq Capital, Fifth Wall, Lennar, Hillhouse Capital, Horizons Ventures, Felicis Ventures and more. This round included, Hippo has now raised $209 million in total funding. According to a piece from Fortune , the Series D values Hippo at $1 billion, marking another entrant into the unicorn club just after Turo, a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace, hit the mark . Bond co-founder Mary Meeker Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women Hippo will use the funding to fuel its expansion to more than 80% of the U.S. homeowner population by year end. The Palo Alto-based startup will also deepen its direct-to-consumer product portfolio and grow its distribution network of insurance partners. In the past 12 months, Hippo says

Unity Doubles Valuation To $6 Billion

Unity CEO John Riccitiello Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch Unity has announced  it has signed investment agreements that doubles its valuation to $6 billion. The investment agreement consist of a $525 million secondary round [selling of shares by existing holders] atop $150 million in funding for Unity itself. Investors that entered agreements with Unity are Sequoia Capital, Silver Lake Partners, D1 Capital Partners, Light Street Capital, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). "We selected these investors because their vision of the future is very much aligned with ours. We are pleased to provide the opportunity for some liquidity to our dedicated employees who have worked so hard to make Unity the company that it is today," Unity CFO Kim Jabal said in a statement. The $525 million secondary offering is open to all common shareholders, the majority of whom are current and former employees. Such offering signifies Unity might not

Ford's Spin Debuts New Electric Scooter

Spin’s latest generation scooters image: Spin Spin -- the e-scooter startup acquired by Ford late last year -- has unveiled a new electric scooter model that'll support its growth and demand in new and existing markets. Beginning next month, the new e-scooter model will be made available in the cities of Portland, Denver, Memphis, Kansas City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. Spin plans to expand into other U.S. cities [apart from the aforementioned] with this new scooter model. The new edition scooter is heavier than previous models, with a larger frame, strengthened mechanical structure, and a wider and longer platform. Other of its features include: Bigger (10-inch) tubeless tires. This provides better shock absorption over rough terrain and conditions. Custom security screws to prevent tampering and vandalism Extended battery life (up to 37.5 miles at full charge) A more responsive bike-handle braking system Improved acceleration and uphill perfo

Apple Scoops Up Intel's Smartphone Modem Business

Intel CEO Bob Swan Photograph by Stuart Isett for Fortune Magazine Apple has announced it's acquiring 'the majority' of Intel's smartphone modem business in a deal worth $1 billion. Apple is getting 2,200 employees and various wireless technology patents as part of its purchase. Combined with the patents Apple will acquire from Intel, the iPhone maker will hold over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation. Even as Intel sells its smartphone modem business, it'll still be able to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, like self-driving vehicles, PCs, and IoT devices. Intel CEO Bob Swan says the deal will let the chip maker focus on developing other 5G technologies. Apple CEO Tim Cook Photography by Stuart Isett/Fortune Apple's acquisition indicates it has good ground to begin producing its own 5G smartphone modems, a significant deal given its fallo

Toyota Bets $600 Million On Didi Chuxing

Didi Chuxing co-founder and CTO, Bob Zhang Photo by Seb Daly / RISE via Sportsfile Toyota has announced it's investing $600 million in Didi Chuxing, not long after the automaker was reported to be considering a 60 billion yen ($550 million) bet on the Chinese ride-hailing company. Toyota's now announced investment indicates the report was legit, although the amount invested is $50 million higher than as reported. Toyota's investment will go towards Didi Chuxing and a separate joint venture that'll provide vehicle-related services for Didi drivers. Didi and Toyota first unveiled the joint venture early last year. The JV provides vehicle-related services, including vehicle leasing, maintenance, insurance, financing and more to Didi drivers. Toyota's investment would enable both companies move towards full-scale implementation of services they have developed under the joint venture. [From left to right] Stephen Zhu, Senior Vice President of Didi Chuxin

Anduril Got $13.5 Million Deal To Monitor US Marine Bases

Anduril co-founder Palmer Luckey Photo by David Fitzgerald/Collision via Sportsfile As first reported by The Verge , government documents reveal that Anduril -- a  defense technology startup co-founded by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey -- recently got a $13.5 million contract to set up autonomous surveillance systems at four U.S. Marine Corps bases. The contract runs for one year, with an option to extend to a second year. As per contract terms, Anduril must perform system maintenance, including onsite support on surveillance systems it sets up at Marine bases. The bases where it'll set up its systems are spread across four locations; two in Japan, one in Hawaii, and another in Arizona. The contract was officially awarded on the 15th of July. Further documents published by Latinx activism organization Mijente [under the Freedom of Information Act] shows Anduril got two other contracts with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol -- a $4.8 million contract for “border surveill

Postmates To Use Ouster Lidars For Delivery Robot

Postmates' delivery robot, Serve, equipped with the Ouster OS1 lidar sensor image: Postmates Not long ago, Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann was accompanied by a cute little delivery robot  to a Fortune Brainstorm Tech event. The robot - called 'Serve' -- was first unveiled last year. It currently roams on sidewalks in Los Angeles, making short distance on-demand deliveries. As conventionally known, autonomous robots make use of various sensors including lidars to navigate. These sensors enable robots to measure distance to a target and move towards that target. Velodyne lidars are the most used in self-driving vehicles and robots, although there's much competition from other lidar makers like Luminar, Quanergy, Blackmore, and more. If observed closely, Postmates' initially unveiled robot spotted a lidar different from that of the robot which recently accompanied its CEO Lehmann to the Fortune event. One could get curious as to which lidar the company decid

Freenome Closes $160 Million Series B

Freenome co-founder and CEO Gabe Otte image: Freenome Freenome -- a San Francisco-based startup working on cancer detection through blood tests -- has closed $160 million in Series B funding led by RA Capital Management and Polaris Partners, with participation from new and existing investors including Roche, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Alphabet's Verily, Andreessen Horowitz, the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Ventures and more. This funding brings the total raised by Freenome to $238 million. Freenome will use the funding to further develop its blood-based cancer test. It plans to conduct a pivotal study to detect colon cancer using blood tests for at least 10,000 patients, and then submit an application under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). For Freenome to officially begin tests, the FDA has to give approval, while the Medicare agency gets to decide if it'll cover the cost of i

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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,

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

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