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Showing posts from January, 2020

SoftBank Leads Alto Pharmacy Investment At A $1 Billion+ Valuation

image: Alto SoftBank's second Vision Fund has led a new funding round for San Francisco-based drug delivery startup Alto Pharmacy, according to a Reuters report .  Reuters says the new round totaled $250 million and valued Alto Pharmacy (formerly known as ScriptDash) at more than $1 billion. Other existing investors such as Jackson Square Ventures and Greenoaks Capital also participated in the new funding, according to Reuters . The investment comes at a stormy time for SoftBank, which has seen some of its portfolio companies struggle and recourse to job cuts to stay stable. The most notable of that cohort is WeWork, which pulled out of a planned initial public offering last year and needed a $9.5 billion bailout  from SoftBank to stay afloat. Alto is among a cohort of tech startups challenging traditional pharmacy chains by taking the drug delivery process online. The company was founded in 2015 as ScriptDash and rebranded itself as Alto in 2017 after a $23 million inv

Tony Fadell Backs New Orleans Battery Startup

Tony Fadell. Photograph by Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under  CC BY-ND 2.0 license Tony Fadell, the co-founder of smart thermostat maker Nest and acclaimed co-inventor of the iPod, was among the investors in an $18.5 million Series A funding just announced by Advano, a silicon battery startup based out of New Orleans. He invested alongside the likes of Peter Thiel's Thiel Capital, Y Combinator, DCVC, and Japanese battery materials giant Mitsui Kinzoku. As part of his investment, Fadell has been appointed as a board observer at Advano. Mitsui Kinzoku, which co-led the Series A, has also formed a strategic partnership with Advano that involves it providing its knowledge of manufacturing and access to its distribution channels to the silicon battery startup. Advano, a 2017 graduate of famed accelerator Y Combinator, is building battery components to enable more powerful, smaller, and longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries. It's already known that adding s

Brief: GM To Invest $2.2 Billion To Create First Dedicated EV Plant

General Motors CEO Mary Barra. image: General Motors General Motors (GM) has announced it's investing $2.2 billion in its Detroit- Hamtramck assembly plant to utilize it as a facility that'll produce all-electric vehicles alongside its recently unveiled Origin self-driving vehicle. The Detroit, Michigan-based automaker will also invest an additional $800 million in supplier tooling and other projects related to the launch of new electric vehicles. GM says its investment will create more than 2,200 U.S. manufacturing jobs. The Detroit- Hamtramck plant will serve as the automaker's first fully-dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant. GM plans to begin rolling out its first all-electric truck by late 2021, with the 'Origin' self-driving vehicle to follow suit. The company is betting big on the  Detroit- Hamtramck facility to help facilitate that. “Through this investment, GM is taking a big step forward in making our vision of an all-electric future a

Brief: Monzo In Funding Talks With SoftBank

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch, via  CC BY 2.0 license British fintech Monzo is in funding talks with SoftBank according to a report from British newspaper  The Telegraph . The Telegraph says Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield has twice met with senior executives from the SoftBank Vision Fund, citing unidentified sources. The report comes shortly after Monzo, which has already raised more than $400 million in funding, was reported to be readying additional funding. Monzo's last raise was a £113 million (roughly $148 million) investment led by Y Combinator Continuity in June last year. That investment valued the five-year-old British fintech at £2 billion ($2.5 billion) post-money. Monzo's last raise coincided with a limited launch in the U.S., where it's looking to as the next frontier for its digital banking service after amassing more than 3.7 million users in the U.K. Its U.S. launch was limited, with only a few thousand sl

Bird Said To Be In Talks To Acquire Rival Circ

Circ founder Lukasz Gadowski. image: Adam Tinworth on Flickr, via  CC BY-ND 2.0 license According to a report from the Financial Times , Santa Monica-based e-scooter sharing startup Bird is in talks to acquire Circ, a European rival founded by Lukasz Gadowski, an entrepreneur who also co-founded food delivery giant Delivery Hero. However, such a deal may not be on flashy terms, as the Financial Times reports Circ has been seeking a buyer after struggling to court investments required to further its expansion. Circ (formerly called Flash), which raised  €55 million in Series A funding a year ago, had a round of layoffs just two months ago. The layoffs, which the startup attributed to a focus on “efficiency and ops excellence”, is said to have affected around 50 persons. Purchasing a struggling Circ could be a way for Bird to zoom in on its main rival, Lime, which is widely seen as leading in the European e-scooter sharing market. Bird wouldn't be new to such an acquis

Soft Robotics Nabs $23 Million "Oversubscribed" Series B

Soft Robotics CEO Carl Vause. Image by World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary, via  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. Soft Robotics, a Bedford, Massachusetts-based robotics startup, has announced $23 million in Series B funding. The funding round, which Soft Robotics termed as "oversubscribed", a description entailing a great deal of interest from investors, was co-led by Calibrate Ventures and Material Impact, with participation from Yamaha, Tekfen Ventures, Honeywell, Scale, Hyperplane and FANUC, a well-known maker of industrial robots. Soft's new funding follows a similarly-sized $20 million round closed in May 2018, a round it also termed as oversubscribed. Not coincidentally, all the participants in Soft's Series B round except FANUC also participated in that previous round. FANUC, a leading manufacturer of industrial robots, happens to be a strategic investor, having partnered with Soft Robotics to create a product that was unveiled in Japan in Decembe

Joby Aviation Secures $590 Million Series C

image: Joby Aviation Joby Aviation, a Santa Cruz, California-based startup that develops electric air taxis, has announced $590 million in Series C funding led by Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota, with participation from new investors Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx alongside existing investors Intel Capital, AME Cloud Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, and SPARX Group. The new funding brings the total amount raised by Joby to $720 million. According to a Bloomberg report , Toyota is providing $394 million of the $590 million total. The automaker isn't just bringing money to the table but says it'll also share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of Joby's electric aircraft. Over the past ten years, Joby has assembled a team of engineers and physicists that have developed a quiet all-electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. The aircraft is developed in an

Casper Files To Go Public

Casper CEO Philip Krim. Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch Not long after a previous report of online mattress retailer Casper working with banks on an initial public offering (IPO), the company has filed an S-1 registration document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to do exactly that. Its S-1 document was made public just a few hours before this writeup. Casper's S-1 indicates $312 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2019, up from $260 million in the same period of the previous year. However, the company is not profitable, with losses of $67 million and $64 million in those periods respectively. For the full year 2018, Casper recorded $358 million in revenue but with a $92 million loss. A substantial portion of Casper's loss stems from high sales and marketing spend after gross profit is accounted for. Sales and marketing make up its highest expense, even surpassing general and administrative expenses in the ye

Uber And Hyundai Debut Flying Taxi Concept

Hyundai's "S-A1" air taxi concept. image: Hyundai At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai and Uber unveiled a flying car concept that's aimed for use in the "Uber Elevate" initiative, an initiative that's targeted at aerial ridesharing with custom air taxis made by partners to enable that. Hyundai is the first automaker to join Uber Elevate, whose previous partners were all electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturers. Uber aims to launch an aerial ridesharing network by 2023, and has already partnered with seven aircraft makers to enable that. Hyundai's new concept air taxi vehicle is dubbed "S-A1" and has specifications similar to that of previous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft unveiled by other Uber Elevate partners. It'll be 100% electric, be piloted initially but with plans to later make them autonomous, and is designed with fou

Coupang Said To Be Eyeing 2021 IPO

Coupang CEO Bom Kim. image: Coupang Coupang, a SoftBank-backed South Korean e-commerce startup, is eyeing a 2021 initial public offering (IPO) according to a Bloomberg report .  Bloomberg says the company, founded in 2010 and said to be valued at $9 billion, has embarked on tax structuring among other changes as it aims for a public listing next year. Another sign Coupang may be eyeing a soon IPO is its appointment of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)  in December last year. The CFO in case was Alberto Fornaro, a seasoned executive who has held senior financial roles for more than two decades at Korean firms. Coupang's IPO could be a test of the waters for the SoftBank Vision Fund, which has seen some of its portfolio companies struggle and collectively lay off thousands. Coupang appears to be doing good, with 2018 revenues said to have approached $5 billion.  Bloomberg  also reports the company had more than $10 billion in gross merchandise value as of December 31 and th

Two SoftBank-Backed Startups Said To Lay Off Hundreds

Zume Pizza co-founder Julia Collins. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch According to reports from Business Insider and  The Information  respectively, Zume Pizza and Getaround, two SoftBank-backed startups, are collectively laying off more than 500 staff, the majority coming from Zume Pizza. Zume is said to be planning to lay off up to 400 employees representing 80% of its staff while Getaround is said to be laying off about 150 employees representing about 25% of its staff. The reported layoffs come on the heels of another SoftBank backed startup, Fair, cutting 40% of its headcount  with its CFO and CEO resigning in the process. With respect to the layoffs, Zume Pizza's case seems grimmer being just a year and two months after it snagged $375 million in funding from SoftBank. Originally a pizza-making automation startup, it later pivoted to food-supply-chain management. According to Business Insider , the layoffs are effectively a cost-cutting measure

Velodyne Appoints New CEO

Anand Gopalan, Velodyne's new CEO. image: Velodyne Velodyne, the world's biggest manufacturer of lidars for self-driving vehicles, has announced  the appointment of a new CEO by name of Anand Gopalan. Gopalan, who served as Velodyne's CTO up until this appointment, is taking over the CEO role from Velodyne's founder David Hall, who is, in turn, transitioning to a full-time role as Chairman of the Board. Under that role, Hall will "remain actively involved in directing the company’s technology, product vision and business strategy", a press statement from Velodyne said. Gopalan joined Velodyne in 2016 to form an advanced R&D team for the company. Since then, he has led technology and product development efforts at Velodyne. His appointment comes amid reports of the company making preparations for an IPO. As of late, Gopalan has been an active spokesperson for Velodyne, often promoting its lidar products to audiences around the world. Under hi

One Medical Files To Go Public

One Medical CEO Amir Rubin. image: One Medical San Francisco-based primary care startup One Medical has officially filed for an initial public offering (IPO). Its S-1 registration document  with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was filed less than 24 hours ago, indicating a placeholder amount of $100 million (that is the amount intended to be raised from the IPO albeit one that's subject to change). One Medical intends to trade under the ticker ''ONEM'' on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Investment banks J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are lead underwriters for its IPO. For context, One Medical operates several health clinics in the U.S., its specialty lying in its clinics being more tech-inclined than conventional, and with concierge services available. The company operates on a membership model, charging $200 annually both by direct-to-consumer and enterprise sales. As of September 30, 2019, One Medical had 397,000 members across nine

Snap Acquires AI Factory

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch As first reported by Ukranian publication AIN and later confirmed, Snap has acquired AI Factory, a Ukranian computer vision startup whose technology helped power Snapchat's recently debuted "Cameos" feature, a feature that lets Snapchat users create animated selfie-based videos. According to AIN, Snap paid around $166 million for AI Factory, which was founded by an entrepreneur who sold his previous company, Looksery, also to Snap. Snap is said to have paid $150 million for Looksery, also a computer vision startup whose technology powers Snapchat's widely used "Lenses" feature. After Looksery's acquisition, co-founder Victor Shaburov took up the role of director of engineering at Snap, a role he held for three years before leaving in 2018 to launch AI Factory. AI Factory is known to have offices in both Ukraine and San Francisco. According to TechCrunch , the firm h

Monzo Said To Be Raising New Funding

Monzo co-founder and CEO Tom Blomfield. image: Monzo According to Reuters , U.K. digital bank Monzo is close to raising between £50 million to £100 million ($66 million to $132 million) in new funding "within weeks" to help fund its growth.  Reuters , citing an unnamed source close to the company, said funding talks have involved both existing and new investors, and could precede a potentially bigger 'Series G' round next year. In June last year, Monzo closed  £113 million in funding  led by Y Combinator Continuity, an investment offshoot of famed startup accelerator Y Combinator. That funding came on the heels of Monzo's launch in the U.S. and valued the company at $2.5 billion post-money. Monzo looking to raise more funding hints of rapid growth and substantial investments to support that. Since its founding in 2015, Monzo has amassed more than 3.5 million users by offering a user-friendly and mobile-first app that facilitates online spending and m

Most Read Posts

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