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Showing posts from March, 2020

Palo Alto Networks Scoops Up CloudGenix

Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora. Photo by World Economic Forum / Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary, under Creative Commons license Cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks has taken its acquisition spree one step further, this time, announcing  it has reached a deal to acquire CloudGenix, a San Jose-based provider of software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) services. Palo Alto Networks will pay $420 million in cash to acquire CloudGenix, a price that seems like a good win given CloudGenix raised around $100 million in total funding. CloudGenix's last known funding was a $65 million Series C closed in April last year. The company's investors include well-known venture capital firms like Intel Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Charles River Ventures. Palo Alto's new acquisition is expected to close during the company's fiscal fourth quarter. As is usually the case, the acquisition deal is subject to the satisfaction of regulatory conditions. Cloud

Via Valued At $2.3 Billion With New Funding

Via CEO Daniel Ramot. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license On-demand transportation startup Via has been valued at more than $2 billion after an investment from Exor, a Netherlands holdings company controlled by the Agnelli family, a famed Italian business dynasty. Exor has announced  an agreement to invest $200 million in Via in exchange for an 8.87% stake on a fully-diluted basis. This implies a valuation of around $2.3 billion, a laudable feat for Via, whose last known funding came in 2017. Under the terms of Exor's investment, the holdings company is getting a board seat at Via which will be occupied by one of its executives, Noam Ohana. Ohana leads Exor Seeds, the early-stage investment arm of Exor. The new investment included, Via has now raised around $600 million in total funding. The company's last known funding was a $250 million investment led by automaker Daimler in late 2017. Via has also raised funding from t

Kabbage Furloughs Majority Of Employees For A Month

Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein. image: Web Summit | Flickr , under Creative Commons license Atlanta-based small business lending startup Kabbage has furloughed the majority of its employees for a month, according to a source familiar with the matter. The company also happens to have laid off all employees in its Bangalore office without severance packages, the source says. Kabbage is one of several tech companies that now happens to have laid off or furloughed employees amid a business slowdown stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. Being a small business lender, Kabbage with no doubt has been affected by the resulting lockdown from the outbreak. Small businesses around the U.S. have been hit hard and won't likely be tapping more loans to facilitate day-to-day business at a time when they're hardly generating revenue. According to our source, the furloughs were announced by way of a video conference call, being a time when the entire company is currently working remote

Tech-Tainment Luminaries To Note

Rapper Snoop Dogg. Best known for his music, he's however, an investor in several startups. Photo by: Man Alive! | Flickr , under Creative Commons license Technology and entertainment are undoubtedly intertwined. Without tech, there likely won't be entertainment and without entertainment, tech may as well be boring. The entertainment industry is very large, being one that's worth more than $700 billion in the U.S. alone. Such entertainment encompasses many fields, including movies, TV subscriptions, theater revenues, ticketing, and the likes. There's also the field of gaming, which is itself worth tens of billions of dollars on a global scale. With the entertainment industry being so large, it's no surprise that it has produced many storied luminaries ranging from movie directors and producers to the actors/actresses who star in their movies, game developers, music label owners, video streaming companies and the likes. In this article, we'

15 Adroit VCs Who Should Be On Your Radar

First Round Capital founder Josh Kopelman. Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Venture capital is really a game and just like every game, there's always wins and on the other end fails. Making a venture investment means knowingly taking a risk, albeit calculated, with money in hopes of reaping sizeable gains in future time. This hope usually fares along with a potential downside that a venture fails and all the money invested in a company reaps little or no returns. As is widely known, the majority of venture-backed companies don't fare well, in precise words, they fail. Both small and large companies aren't immune to failure as we've witnessed so many examples from both sides. Like every game, some persons, however, have acquired an eye for grabbing good wins even though some failures may abound. In the venture capital world, they're many like that. The names Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, John Doerr, Art

Microsoft To Acquire Affirmed Networks

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. image: Microsoft Just a day ago, Microsoft announced it has sealed an agreement to acquire Affirmed Networks, a Massachusetts-based venture-backed company that develops cloud-based 5G software. The announcement came just a day after Affirmed Networks announced a CEO change. According to Bloomberg , Microsoft's acquisition deal values Affirmed Networks at $1.35 billion, which if certain, will be Microsoft's biggest known acquisition since it bought out GitHub for $7.5 billion in 2018. Bloomberg reports Affirmed Networks raised funding at a $1.35 billion valuation just last month, so Microsoft paying that exact amount for the company doesn't seem far-fetched. According to Pitchbook data, Affirmed Networks has raised more than $200 million in funding since its inception in 2010. Investors in the company include Deutsche Telekom, CRV, Matrix Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Vodafone Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. With 5G on

TuSimple And ZF Partner To Develop Self-Driving Tech

TuSimple co-founder and CTO Xiaodi Hou. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Web Summit via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license TuSimple, a San Diego-based self-driving trucking company, and ZF, a German car parts giant, have announced a partnership to develop and commercialize technology for driverless trucks. The partnership is set to begin by next month, April, and is expected to cover large automotive markets including Europe, China and countries in North America. TuSimple and ZF say they'll co-develop production-quality parts such as cameras and radars that'll be adopted for driverless rides. Under the terms of the deal, ZF will ultimately serve as the default supplier for TuSimple's self-driving system, which will be marketed to commercial vehicle operators. As part of their partnership, ZF will also contribute engineering support to validate and integrate TuSimple's self-driving system into vehicles. The partnership marks a significant point for TuSimple,

OfferUp And Letgo To Merge

OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license OfferUp and Letgo, two leading U.S. mobile marketplaces, have announced  an intention to merge their US businesses. The merger announcement comes alongside an announcement of $120 million in new funding led by OLX Group, with participation from existing investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Warburg Pincus. OLX Group, an offshoot of South African internet giant Naspers and an investor in both OfferUp and Letgo, will own 40% of the combined company following the merger. The merger is subject to regulatory approval. The combined business will operate under the OfferUp brand. Letgo's business outside North America will continue to be separately owned and operated by OLX Group as has been the case. Under the terms of the merger, Letgo co-founder and President Alec Oxenford will be joining the combined company's board while OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar will continue

15 Adept Entrepreneurs We Don't Often Hear About

Razer co-founder Min-Liang Tan. image: RISE Conference | Flickr, under Creative Commons license In the tech world, we often hear about the Zuckerbergs, the Gates, the Musks, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos and the likes. They often dominate the news circles, with one happening or the other. If Bezos isn't winning, or getting bashed for Amazon's warehouse practices, then Musk is tweeting, Gates is pursuing philanthropy or Dorsey is doing stuff only Dorsey does. However, there exist several other entrepreneurs with big successes whom we often don't hear about. Some of these guys get a little of the limelight while some don't at all. Some are a bit popular but mostly in tech circles. Outside the core tech scene, these names might not ring a bell just like a name like Gates will. These entrepreneurs have made strides in fields ranging from gaming to fintech to cybersecurity, chip-making, real estate tech, driverless cars and several other areas. They are many, hundreds

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Deal: Mindbody Buys Fitness Startup ClassPass

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

Tether Fined $41M For Lying About Fiat Reserves

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

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

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

Microsoft CEO, Other Execs Bag Annual Pay Raises

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

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

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

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pros, AirPods

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

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

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

Fast Fashion E-Tailer Lulu's Files For IPO

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

Antitrust: Facebook Fined $70M Over Giphy Takeover Probe

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

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

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