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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

Most Read Posts

Cashing Out: Jeff Bezos Sells $2.5B Of Amazon Stock

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has continued his routine selling of Amazon shares to fund his other escapades. For a few years now, he's had an arranged trading plan that sees him regularly sell Amazon stock worth billions of dollars. Jeff Bezos' latest sell-off is of 739,000 Amazon shares worth around $2.5bn, SEC filings show. Another separate filing indicated that he plans to sell as many as 2 million shares that could net him nearly $7bn at current prices. This latest share sell-off from Bezos is noteworthy as one of his last in his position as Amazon's CEO which he's handing off soon to a top lieutenant named Andy Jassy. Jassy is currently CEO of AWS, Amazon's very profitable cloud computing division. Usually, a CEO offloading large amounts of stock in a company he leads draws some displeasure from investors, but as Jeff Bezos would soon no longer be Amazon's CEO, it opens up opportunities to sell larger amounts of shares than usual if the desires. Amazon's

EVs: Ford, BMW Co-Invest In An EV Battery Startup

It's currently of no doubt that electric vehicles represent the future for the automobile market, and many automakers have taken heed to that. Tens of billions of dollars in spending have been earmarked for the R&D and production of electric vehicles by global automakers, with efforts spanning battery development, building new factories, charging stations et al. Now, two of the world's biggest automakers, BMW and Ford, have jointly invested in a startup working on battery technology for electric vehicles. That startup is Solid Power, a Colorado-based startup developing solid-state batteries for EVs. Details: Solid Power has raised a $130 million Series B round  co-led by Ford and BMW. The two automakers were joined by green-focused venture fund Volta Energy Technologies in the round. As part of the strategic round, Ford and BMW have expanded their joint agreements with Solid Power to develop solid-state batteries for their use. In a way, the two automakers are funding and o

Is Apple Brewing A Major Digital Health Play?

That Apple has high ambitions in the digital health space isn't foreign news to anyone following the moves of the company. In fact, its CEO Tim Cook once referred to health as Apple's “greatest contribution to mankind.” Apple's main health product is the Apple Watch for which health represents a major use case and a selling point. The latest Apple Watch series has key health features including the ability to measure ECG (electrocardiogram) and oxygen saturation level in the blood. With all its grand ambitions, the reality is that Apple is progressing very well in the digital health space but yet hasn't gotten a big foothold in it like it's done in other markets. There still exists a large gap for Apple to conquer to make waves in the digital health market and the company seems much hell-bent on covering that gap. Details: A certain revelation has come out that details Apple's grand plans in the health sector, and it's that of a UK startup working on next-ge

Big Pay: AT&T Shareholders Vote Against Execs Pay

To bring back one of our most favorite sayings, "America is the land of many things, including very enormous executive pay". Executives of publicly-traded companies in the US are familiar with very large compensation packages on a scale not seen in other countries, take recent examples including Palantir CEO Alex Karp landing a $1.1 billion payday  and former T-Mobile CEO John Legere getting a $137 million severance pay . But with all the large executive pay packages flying around, it appears that the shareholders of one public company are not okay with it and that company is telecoms giant AT&T.  Details: AT&T in a statement  revealed that the majority of its shareholders voted not in favor of the compensation of its executive officers in 2020. Just under 49% of votes were cast in favor of the compensation, leaving the remaining majority 51%, not in favor.  Last year, AT&T had large pay packages for its top brass including $21 million for CEO John Stankey and $52

Deal: Verizon Sells Yahoo And AOL To PE Firm For $5B

Telecoms giant Verizon has found a buyer for its Verizon Media Unit which includes veteran internet properties like Yahoo and AOL, and that buyer is a major private equity firm. To note, though Yahoo and AOL have long faded from their glory days, they aren't exactly dead properties but ones still with a great deal of users bringing in a few billion in revenue annually. Details: Verizon has struck a deal to sell 90% of Verizon Media to private equity firm Apollo which will pay $5 billion for it, while Verizon retains a  10%  minority stake in the business. The deal takes off many internet properties off Verizon's hands, including bigger ones like Yahoo and smaller ones like technology news site TechCrunch operating under the AOL umbrella. Though it's selling for a seemingly huge price of $5 billion, Verizon paid a combined $9 billion to buy the web properties making up its Verizon Media unit so it doesn't come out on top financially from the sale.  Verizon paid $4.4bn t

Germany's SAP Fined $8M For Violating Iran Sanctions

SAP, the German software giant, has agreed to pay a fine in the US for violating sanctions imposed by the country on conducting business in Iran. It'll pay over $8 million in fines after admitting to handling thousands of exports of its software to Iran violating US law. Details: SAP admitted to exporting US-origin software to Iran beginning in 2010 up until 2017. The exports including delivering software upgrades and patches more than 20,000 times to Iranian users and offering Iranian users access to US-based cloud services. As charged, executives at SAP were aware that the company didn't have geolocation protections to block downloads of its US-origin software in Iran and turned a blind eye to the situation.  SAP was also charged with neglecting to put in place adequate export control for cloud services made by some US-based companies that it acquired and integrated into its software suite. For the charges, SAP admitted guilt and reached a  Non-Prosecution Agreement with the

IPO: Cybersecurity Startup Darktrace Debuts On UK Markets

A major cybersecurity startup from the UK has held an initial public offering (IPO) and debuted to positive investor fanfare on the domestic public markets. That startup is Darktrace, a fast-growing cybersecurity startup founded by a team of mathematicians in collaboration with British intelligence agencies in 2013. Darktrace sells cyber-defense software that's claimed to harness artificial intelligence in spotting and managing cyber threats. It listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol "DARK". By the numbers: Darktrace debuted to positive investor fanfare that saw its shares soar by 40% on its first day of trading. It raised £143 million ($198m) from the public float at a valuation of £1.7 billion ($2.3bn) which soared to almost £2.4 billion ($3.3bn) on its debut trading day. Darktrace's IPO prospectus reports $199 million in revenue in its most recent fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. This was up from $137 million in the previous year, 2019, and $79 mill

Earnings: Pfizer Rakes In Cash From COVID Vaccine

Pfizer, one of the few pharmaceutical companies worldwide to produce an approved Covid-19 vaccine, has unveiled its earnings report for the first quarter of this year. As usual, the report provides a solid peek into the company's financials and with very noteworthy nuggets this time around. One key nugget from Pfizer's earnings report is that the company brought in $3.5bn in revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine in Q1' 21. It made up nearly a fourth of the company's total $14.6bn revenue for the period. The Covid vaccine was the biggest single source of revenue for Pfizer in the quarter. It's definitely a good time for the company in that regard, as it elected to keep the profit from the sale of its vaccines unlike some of its competitors which volunteered to waive off any profit-seeking from their vaccines. Unlike some of its competitors also, Pfizer didn't take money from the US government to fund the development of its vaccine under the Trump administration'

Earnings: Covid Vaccines Deliver Big Sales, Profit For Moderna

Moderna was among the few biotech companies that saved the day with the development of an emergency-authorized vaccine to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a breakthrough for the company, which was before then a cancer-fighting moonshot with minimal revenues and no working product. Being a publicly-traded company, Moderna is mandated to release quarterly earnings reports to the public and it has done so this time around, releasing its financial results for the first quarter of this year 2021. Moderna's latest earnings report shows that of a company that saw big success from its Covid vaccines, as it reported record revenue and its first-ever net profit as a public company. By the numbers: Moderna made $1.9bn in revenue in Q1' 21, compared to a paltry $8mn for the same quarter in 2020. The revenue came wholly from Covid vaccine sales in the US and foreign markets. Moderna reported a huge net income of $1.2bn in the quarter, compared to a net loss of $124mn for the same perio

Court Docs: Fortnite Maker Epic Made $15B In 2018-2020

Fortnite maker Epic Games is having a court battle with Apple over the latter's App Store practices and that battle has led to several documents coming out of the shadows with valuable information about Epic Games not publicly known before.  Among the information revealed in court proceedings between Epic and Apple is the sheer scale of Epic's revenue largely gotten from its hit game Fortnite . Official documents indicate that Epic Games made respective annual sales of $5.6bn, $4.2bn, and $5.1bn in 2018, 2019, and 2020, summing up to just shy of $15bn. Epic's revenue in 2018 and 2019 was revealed in financial documents made public as part of its court battle with Apple while its revenue for 2020 was separately revealed in a court testimony by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The vast majority of Epic's revenue comes from Fortnite while its other products like the Unreal Engine and the Epic Games Store bring in a minority of revenues. Specifically, Fortnite brought in $5.5bn a