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Showing posts from September, 2019

Revolut To Hire 3,500 Staff For Global Expansion

Revolut founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky Photo by Stephen McCarthy/MoneyConf via Sportsfile Revolut, a British fintech startup valued at $1.7 billion , has announced it'll hire 3,500 staff to cater for expansion into 24 new markets, thanks to a new partnership with payments giant Visa. Leveraging Visa's brand, scale, and global footprint, Revolut will launch in 24 new countries, starting in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and the U.S. [by the end of this year] This would be in addition to 34 markets Revolut already operates in. In a statement to Reuters , Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky indicated the company will hire 3,500 persons to cater for its expansion. “We are around 1500 people now and by summer next year we plan to be around 5000,” he said. Revolut's global expansion on the shoulders of Visa is built atop an already existing (four-year) partnership between both companies. Revolut began in 2015, has grown at a break-neck

Apple Will Reportedly Release Originals In Theaters Before Streaming

Apple co-heads of video programming, Zack Van Amburg (left) and Jamie Erlicht, talk about the company's new streaming service at an Apple event. Amburg and Erlicht previously served as presidents at Sony Pictures Television image: Apple According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal , Apple, which recently unveiled a new streaming service featuring exclusive productions from Hollywood bigwigs like Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and J.J. Abrams, will debut its feature-length films in theaters before making them available for streaming. According to the Journal, Apple has made precursory approaches to cinema chains and also consulted with an entertainment executive as it pursues a plan to keep its originals in theaters for weeks before they're made available on AppleTV+, its recently unveiled streaming app. The Journal reports Apple is currently reaching out to theater-industry representatives, and plans to release its movies first in cinemas in order to

Docker Trying To Raise Cash Amid "Significant Challenges"

Docker CEO Rob Bearden image: Docker Docker, a one-time superhot cloud software startup that cracked a $1 billion valuation in 2015, is apparently having some struggles, with CNBC reporting  of a company-wide email that acknowledged challenges as Docker tries to raise more funding. In an email [viewed and reported by CNBC] sent to Docker employees, its CEO Rob Bearden, who took up the position in May , thanked employees for “persevering in spite of the lack of clarity we’ve had these past few weeks.” He also made mention of  “uncertainty” at Docker, that “brings with it significant challenges”. “As shared at the last All Hands, we have been engaging with investors to secure more financing to continue to execute on our strategy.” Bearden, who is Docker's fourth CEO since inception, and most recently served as CEO at Hortonworks, said. “I wanted to share a quick update on where we stand. We are currently in active negotiations with two investors and are working through

Vox Media Scoops Up New York Media

Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff image: Web Summit on Flickr Vox Media, a New York-based digital media company that's behind popular news sites like The Verge , SB Nation , Recode , and Eater , has announced it has acquired New York Media, the publisher of the popular New York Magazine, alongside other well-known brands like The Strategist ,  Vulture , Intelligencer , Grub Street , and The Cut . The acquisition price is not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reports  it was an all-stock deal valued at $105 million. According to the Journal, the acquisition would give New York Media about 12% ownership in a combined entity consisting of Vox Media's and New York Media's media properties. In simple terms, the acquisition is said to be more of a merger between both companies than an outright acquisition that'll involve one party becoming a subsidiary of the other. According to the Wall Street Journal, the all-stock acquisition valued Vox Media at $750 million, do

WeWork Has Reportedly Considered Laying Off One-Third Of Its Employees

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch According to a report from The Information , WeWork, whose CEO Adam Neumann just stepped down  amid an IPO debacle, has considered laying off as many as 5,000 employees, one-third of its workforce, to cut costs. The Information reports WeWork's executives discussed ways to reduce costs with bankers, and came up with the lay-off consideration. Other cost-cutting ideas also said to have been discussed includes slowing its expansion and shuttering side business related to education and housing. Such moves are likely aimed at restoring investor confidence after a cold reception stemming from its S-1 filing. A 5,000-person layoff doesn't sound at all good, and may count as one of the highest headcount cuts in a long time. However, with skyrocketing losses , it wouldn't be really surprising if WeWork pulls such a move. Companies looking to go public or those that have already gone public often lo

Amazon Rivals Revealed To Be Secret Funders Of Anti-Amazon Non-Profit

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos image: National Museum of American History on Flickr The  Free & Fair Markets Initiative is a non-profit group that's been behind campaigns criticizing the business practices of Amazon, with complaints ranging from hurting of small businesses to lobby dealings, working conditions and monopoly concerns, according to its own website . The Free & Fair Markets Initiative (FFMI for short), which abides by the slogan "Fighting for Competition & Protecting Consumers", launched a national campaign 18 months ago that criticized Amazon's business practices, accusing the company of stifling competition, limiting consumer choice, ravening on government subsidies, endangering warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches. FFMI claimed to have grass roots support from average citizens across the US. On the "About Us" section of its website, it describes itself as a "nonprofit watchdog committed to scr

Airbnb Employees Are Said To Be Disgruntled With IPO Delays

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks during a keynote on the 22nd of February 2018 in San Francisco. image: Airbnb On Thursday, Airbnb issued a statement  that said it plans to go public next year. The statement was brief, with just 15 words of main content, and somewhat unusual for a company. Companies usually give signs before going public but not really in a way Airbnb did so. A statement such as Airbnb's hinted of a case of "more than meets the eye", and that may just be the case, in the light of a New York Times report  that said several Airbnb employees were somewhat frustrated with the inability to cash in their shares, and pushed for an IPO to happen. Airbnb's statement was likely a way of assuring such employees that they'll have the opportunity to reap monetary gains from their holdings next year. According to The New York Times, several Airbnb employees wrote a letter to the company's founders last summer, adjuring to be able to sell their Air

Fitbit Said To Be Exploring Sale

Fitbit CEO James Park Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune According to a Reuters report , Fitbit has held discussions with Qatalyst Partners, a famed investment bank that's been involved in the sale of several tech companies, to consider if it should engage with potential acquirers. Reuters reports Qatalyst has been seeking to persuade Fitbit to explore sale options, arguing it could be of acquisition interest from Google parent Alphabet as well as private equity firms. Fitbit's stock jumped more than 20% in light of Reuters' report, and (as of writing) trades at $4.10 per share, with a market cap hovering near $1.1 billion. This is in contrast to its 2015 IPO debut  at $20 a share, with a market cap of $4.1 billion. Several earnings misses and decreasing revenue in the face of heightened competition have plunged Fitbit's stock from an all-time high of $47.60 to a current $4. Such low stock price makes Fitbit a possible acquisition target for private equity fi

Procore Has Reportedly Tapped Goldman Sachs For An IPO

According to a Bloomberg report , Procore, a provider of cloud-based construction management software that was valued at $3 billion late last year, has tapped investment bank Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO that could value it at more than $4 billion. Bloomberg reports Procore is on track to generate more than $400 million in revenue this year, making a $4 billion+ IPO valuation very plausible. Procore may even be heading for a blockbuster IPO given the positive performance of several enterprise software companies that have recently gone public. Take two examples; Cloudflare surged 20%  on its market debut, Datadog surged 39%  during its debut, and was said to have rebuffed a $7 billion+ acquisition offer from Cisco prior to going public. Generally, enterprise-focused startups have fared well on the public markets, but that hasn't been the case for several consumer-focused startups, take for example; Lyft, Uber, and SmileDirectClub, which currently trade at prices below that w

Cisco Reportedly Offered $7 Billion+ For Datadog Before IPO

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech Late last month, Datadog filed for an IPO , and just went public with a quite blockbuster IPO that saw its stock surge 39% on the Nasdaq stock exchange. New York-based Datadog closed at $37.55 after opening at a slightly higher $40.35 during its market debut on Thursday. At the end of Thursday, Datadog had a market cap of nearly $11 billion. Some few moments before Datadog went public, a Bloomberg report  said Cisco offered to acquire the company for a value significantly higher than the $7 billion valuation it had aimed for its public debut, but got rebuffed as Datadog felt it could be worth more than that as a public company over time. With Datadog now public, talks between both companies are likely no longer active. A $7 billion acquisition would have been one of the highest and most talked out tech exits this year as such acquisitions are rare and hardly seen. Such acquisition would have been si

Airbnb Plans To Go Public Next Year

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech Airbnb has announced  an intention to go public next year, putting to rest several speculations concerning a future IPO. Airbnb's press release, which announced its plan, was brief and precise, with just 15 words of main content. Not long ago, Airbnb was reported  to have recorded a 40% year-on-year revenue increase in the first quarter of this year, coupled with a 31% surge in gross bookings. The San Francisco-based company reportedly had about $3.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet as of Q1 end. Airbnb is one company investors might be drooling for, thanks to being profitable and cash flow positive , unlike many of the tech companies that have gone public this year. This year has witnessed the IPOs of top tech companies like Uber, Lyft, Cloudflare, Datadog, Zoom, Pinterest, Slack and several more. However, out of the aforementioned companies, Zoom currently stands as the only profitable one, wit

Postmates Raises $225 Million, Valued At $2.4 Billion

Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann Photograph by Fortune Magazine Following reports of Postmates having held acquisition talks  even after earlier confidentially filing  for a public offering, the San Francisco-based food delivery startup has raised $225 million in funding from private equity firm GPI Capital at a $2.4 billion valuation, up from $1.85 billion earlier this year. According to Forbes , which first carried the news of Postmates' new funding, the capital infusion comes at the 11th hour of a possible IPO by Postmates. After confidentially filing for an IPO in February, Postmates delayed a public market debut but was later reported to be planning to unveil its IPO prospectus this month. Prior to this funding, Postmates had raised nearly $700 million in total funding. An 11th hour pre-IPO financing isn't unheard of, with some companies having done that in past time. Such occurrence could signify a company needing to add more cash to its coffers or looking to b

Stripe Is Raising $250 Million At A $35 Billion Valuation

Stripe co-founder and President John Collison Photo by Stephen McCarthy / RISE / Sportsfile Payments company Stripe has announced it's raising $250 million in additional financing at a pre-money valuation of $35 billion, up from $22.5 billion when it raised funding early this year. Investors in Stripe's new round include blue-chip VCs like General Catalyst, Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. The San Francisco-based company says it'll use the new capital to accelerate its growth in three key areas; international expansion, its product suite and enterprise capabilities. Stripe has invested heavily in international expansion, and just recently launched in 8 new countries . The company says it'll expand to more "in the coming months", with a target to be operational in 40 countries by year end. It also says there are "many more launches" planned for next year. With majority (5 out of 6) of  new internet users coming online from areas o

Automattic Raises $300 Million Series D From Salesforce

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg image: Web Summit on Flickr Automattic, the San Francisco-based company behind popular web publishing platform WordPress, has announced it has raised $300 million in Series D funding from Salesforce Ventures. The funding values Automattic at $3 billion post-money, up from $1.16 billion when it last raised funding in 2014. The funding will help fuel Automattic's growth, allowing it to scale its business and continue to invest in the WordPress ecosystem, according to its CEO Matt Mullenweg. Currently, WordPress powers 34% of all sites on the web, according to Automattic. Automattic's last known funding was a $160 million Series C in 2014 that catapulted it into unicorn status. Prior to that round, the company had raised relatively lesser amounts in funding. Automattic is quite unique, not only from a funding perspective, but for its corporate structure. Although it maintains an office in San Francisco, all of Automattic's employees,

AB5 Signed Into Law

California governor Gavin Newsom image: TechCrunch on Flickr Assembly Bill 5 (popularly known by its initials AB5), a bill introduced early this year in the state of California that focused on gig worker protections, has been signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. This comes shortly after the bill was approved in the California State Assembly and Senate . AB5 generated much attention, thanks in part to large gig employers like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash being involved. Such companies connect customers with on-demand services (e.g. ride-hailing and food delivery) being offered by workers, who are normally classified as independent contractors. But with AB5 signed into law, such companies would have to reclassify workers as normal employees in the state of California. Essentially, that Uber driver or DoorDash courier would be classified as a full employee that's entitled to several benefits under this law. Shortly before AB5 passed the California State Assembl

Facebook Said To Be Working With Luxottica To Make AR Glasses

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg image: Anthony Quintano on Flickr According to a report from CNBC , Facebook has partnered with Luxottica to develop augmented-reality glasses that are designed to replace smartphones. For those not familiar, Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company, that's behind several eyewear brands including the famous "Ray-Ban" collection. According to CNBC, Facebook has been working to develop AR glasses out of its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington, but faced struggles that have led it to seek help from a company like Luxottica. CNBC reports Facebook hopes a partnership with Luxottica will get its AR glasses completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025. According to CNBC, the glasses are internally codenamed "Orion", and would allow users to take calls, see information in a small display and live-stream their camera feed to social media friends and connections. CNBC previously reported of Facebo

Juul Sales Ceased In China Days After Launch

Juul co-founder and Chief Product Officer James Monsees Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch Just days after entering the Chinese market, Juul has halted sales in the country, with its products pulled from JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall, two of the biggest Chinese e-commerce marketplaces. No official reason for the halt was provided, but a statement from a Juul spokesperson hinted of regulatory issues. “While Juul products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again,” a spokeswoman for Juul said in a statement. Juul's products became available in China beginning on the 9th of September, but suddenly disappeared from Chinese e-commerce sites on Tuesday. The company's move into China happens to be at a time it's facing regulatory scrutiny in the U.S., with the Trump Administration having made plans to ban the sale of most flavo

Fair Raises $500 Million In Debt Financing

Fair founder and CEO Scott Painter Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile Fair, a Santa Monica-based car leasing startup, has announced  $500 million in debt financing led by Mizuho Bank, with participation from Softbank and other unnamed credit providers. This follows a $100 million debt facility closed over the summer, and a $50 million increase to its credit line with Silicon Valley Bank in July. Fair also has credit lines from Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, and previously raised $385 million in Series B funding led by Softbank. Fair will use the new capital to expand its Uber partnership, which involves leasing cars on flexible terms to Uber drivers. Fair's appeal is its more-flexible-than-normal car leasing model that allows its customers lease a car for as long as they want and be able to cancel any time, in contrast with the long-term commitments of conventional car-leasing services. Thanks to its partnership with Uber, drivers looking to earn money

GitLab Raising Funding At A $2.6 Billion Valuation

GitLab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij image: GitLab GitLab has authorized the issuance of $268 million worth of shares that'll value it at $2.55 billion, according to a filing reviewed by the Prime Unicorn Index . Basically, it means the company, which was valued at more than $1 billion last year, plans to raise up to $268 million in funding at a $2.55 billion valuation. However, there's no guarantee the full amount will be raised, as it's dependent on investor interest and demand. GitLab was valued at $1.1 billion after it raised $100 million in Series D funding last September. ICONIQ Capital, an investment firm known to manage money for several Silicon Valley bigwigs , led that round. If GitLab successfully raises at its targeted $2.55 billion valuation, it would mean a more than double in valuation in a single year, a very impressive feat for a startup. This is just a speculation, but GitLab may have seen a strong increase in user numbers after the acquisi

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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