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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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Okta Buys Cloud Security Startup Auth0 For $6.5B

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

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

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

Peter Thiel Cashes Out Big From Palantir

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

New SPAC Deal: Bitcoin Mining Startup Cipher

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

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

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

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

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

Carmaker Volvo To Go Fully Electric By 2030

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

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

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

Smart TV Maker Vizio Files To Go Public

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

New SPAC Deal: Home Insurance Startup Hippo

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