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Showing posts from June, 2020

Bozoma Saint John Heads To Netflix

Bozoma Saint John. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Famed marketing executive Bozoma Saint John has been appointed as the new chief marketing officer (CMO) of streaming giant Netflix, replacing current executive Jackie Lee-Joe who took on Netflix's CMO role in July of last year. She's apparently leaving after barely a year on the job, to be replaced by Bozoma Saint John who is joining from entertainment conglomerate Endeavor. At Endeavor, she currently holds the role of chief marketing officer. Before Endeavor, she had stints at Apple and Uber. “I’m thrilled to join Netflix, especially at a time when storytelling is critical to our global, societal well-being. I feel honored to contribute my experience to an already dynamic legacy, and to continue driving engagement in the future.” Bozoma Saint John said in a statement that announced her appointment. She's notably joining Netflix after a two-year stint at

Discord Nabs $100 Million In New Funding

Jason Citron. Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Popular chat app Discord has raised $100 million in new funding at a valuation of $3.5 billion, as first reported by Forbes . The fundraise coincides with Discord's plan to pivot away from a gaming-centric chat app into day-to-day communication. Discord aims to be a go-to solution for online communication in general rather than focus on games which it traces its roots to. That potentially puts it in competition with the likes of Slack, Monday.com, and Microsoft Teams. Discord says it currently has more than 100 million monthly active users. With this new funding, Discord has now raised about $380 million in total funding since its inception. The new funding came from venture capital firm Index Ventures, an existing investor in the company. Before this funding, Discord was valued at $2 billion by investors. Index Ventures partner Danny Rimer is notably the driving force b

Byton Halts Operations For Six Months

Byton CEO Daniel Kirchert. Photo credit: Stephen McCarthy/RISE via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license Chinese electric vehicle upstart Byton has announced has said it's suspending all of its domestic operations for a six-month period amid business struggles stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The six-month halt is scheduled to run through the months of July to December and notably comes on the heels of reports of Byton delaying salary payments for some of its staff. Byton as a private company is known to have secured some $1.2 billion in financing since its inception. The company, which was founded in 2017, has long showcased flashy concepts but hasn't yet delivered a production vehicle. Byton originally planned to release a production vehicle in the third quarter of last year but later delayed its plan. The company cited financing and production challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind its suspension. Byton is looking to ins

Uber Reaches To Buy Postmates: Report

Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann. Photo credit: Picture Alliance for DLD, under Creative Commons license Uber is in talks to acquire food-delivery competitor Postmates in a $2.6 billion deal, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal , which notes that a deal could be announced by next week or even sooner. Postmates has been said to be targeting an initial public offering but while also shopping itself around to potential buyers. Uber is notably fresh off an attempt to acquire Grubhub, another food delivery competitor which was, however, sold to British food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com. Postmates has raised about $900 million in funding so far, valued at $2.4 billion as of its last funding round. The company had confidentially filed for a public listing in February of last year but didn't follow up with a public filing. In the past, Postmates is said to have shopped itself to companies including Walmart and food-delivery competitor DoorDash. Postmate

Lululemon Snaps Up Mirror

Mirror founder and CEO Brynn Putnam. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Lululemon, the popular apparel company, has announced  it's reached a deal to acquire Mirror, the home-fitness startup that's famed for its mirror-like interactive home gym, for $500 million. The acquisition notably comes in the midst of increased sales of Mirror's interactive mirrors as the coronavirus pandemic has widely driven people away from public gyms to home fitness. As a private company, Mirror has raised about $75 million in funding, making a $500 million purchase price seem like a very sweet deal for the company. Among Mirror's investors as a private company happens to be Lululemon. The likes of Lerer Hippeau, Spark Capital, Point72 Ventures, and supermodel Karlie Kloss are also backers. Lululemon expects to fund Mirror's acquisition with its primary sources of liquidity, which include its cash pile alongside revolving c

Personal Capital Sells For $1 Billion

Personal Capital CEO Jay Shah. Photo credit: Personal Capital Personal Capital, a Redwood City, California-based wealth management startup, has been sold to retirement plan provider Empower Retirement in a deal that adds up to $1 billion. Empower Retirement has reached a deal to acquire Personal Capital for an upfront payment of $825 million in cash plus $175 million in potential "planned growth" incentives. The acquisition seems like a win for Personal Capital, which has raised $265 million in funding as a private company. According to PitchBook data, Personal Capital was valued at $950 million as of its last fundraising in February of last year. Personal Capital was founded in 2008. The company provides digital-based money management services, similar to the likes of Wealthfront, Betterment, and Acorns. Currently, Personal Capital manages a cumulative $12 billion in assets for some 2.5 million users. Personal Capital has offices in the cities of San Francisco,

Amazon Hands Bonuses To Frontline Workers

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo credit: Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, under Creative Commons license The coronavirus pandemic largely boosted the need for e-commerce and, in turn, the fortunes of Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon. It's such that Amazon hired 175,000 additional people to keep up with increased demand. Now, Amazon has announced it's doling out $500 million in combined bonuses to its frontline workers, who were employed at the company throughout the month of June. The bonus is divided into various grades, including $500 for full-time warehouse workers, $250 for part-time warehouse workers, $1,000 for warehouse leads, $3,000 for delivery service partners, and $150 for each Amazon Flex driver who drove more than 10 hours in June. The bonuses for warehouse workers also covers Whole Foods employees. The bonus dole-out was announced by Dave Clark, Amazon's famed logistics chief, who has been instrumental in setting up and o

Facebook Ad Boycott Push To Go Global

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo credit: Anthony Quintano on Flickr, under Creative Commons license After pushing for a Facebook advertisement boycott that has attracted, among other brands, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Dashlane, Starbucks, and Unilever, the organizers have said they'll begin calling on companies outside the U.S., first in Europe, to join the boycott. The boycott expansion plans were made known by Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, one of the organizers of the “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott campaign, in an interview with news agency Reuters . “The next frontier is global pressure,” Steyer said in an interview. The advertisement boycott campaign centers on Facebook's ways of moderating content on its platform, an issue that has already drawn numerous controversies for the company. Most of the boycotts so far have come from US-based brands, many of which are only stopping advertisements targeted at U.S. citizens. It seems the “S

DoJ Indicts VC Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg. Photo credit: Insider Images/Andrew Kelly, under Creative Commons license The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an indictment of investor Michael Rothenberg, a once high-flying venture capitalist whose wings seemingly got clipped after the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) accused him of misappropriating $19 million  of investors' funds. Rothenberg was slapped with more than $31 million in fines from the SEC as a result, but it appears authorities are still pushing for more, as the Justice Department has filed charges of fraud against him. The DoJ alleges Mike Rothenberg "orchestrated multiple schemes to defraud his victims", victims, in this case, being investors in Rothenberg Ventures, the eponymous venture capital firm Rothenberg founded. The Justice Department accuses Rothenberg of bank fraud and defrauding investors. As for bank fraud, it's alleged that Rothenberg made false statements about his wealth to his

Xpeng Begins P7 Deliveries

Xpeng P7 . Photo credit: Xpeng Just a short while after unveiling a new electric sports sedan named the P7 , Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has begun making deliveries, notably a few weeks after the company formally opened a new factory  to produce the new vehicle. Production has apparently begun at the newly opened plant and Xpeng says it aims to produce 100,000 P7 sedans annually. Xpeng surely moves fast, being a company founded only six years ago. The China-based company launched and begun making deliveries of its first vehicle, the G3 SUV, in 2018, four years after its launch. The P7 sports sedan is the company's second-ever vehicle. A picture below gives an encouraging look of a large number of P7 sedans awaiting delivery into customers' hands; Photo credit: Xpeng Motors The Xpeng P7 costs anywhere between $32,000-$49,000 "post-subsidies", quoting Xpeng. It's available in 3 versions and 8 configurations. The vehicle's best feature hap

Tencent Preps Twitch Rival

Tencent CEO Pony Ma. Photograph by Vivek Prakash/Fortune, under Creative Commons license Chinese tech and gaming giant Tencent is currently rolling out a live-streaming service for the U.S. market that'll rival Twitch, the Amazon-owned game streaming service that currently dominates the U.S. streaming market. The new rival is named Trovo Live and was formerly called Madcat . Thanks to Tencent's deep pockets, Trovo is launching with a $30 million partnership program intended to reward content creators beginning from next month, July. Trovo is still in beta testing and seems to have largely gone unnoticed outside the gaming community. Currently, Trovo's live-streams only draw viewers in the hundreds even though its Discord chat channel currently boasts more than 5,000 members. The new game-streaming service has courted some creators from the likes of Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Microsoft's soon-to-be-closed Mixer platform. Tencent leads the gaming market in

Velodyne Aims For Reverse Public Listing

A Velodyne lidar fitted on a Ford vehicle. Photo credit: Ford Velodyne, the lidar manufacturer backed by among others Ford and Chinese search giant Baidu, is in talks for a reverse listing with Graf Industrial Corp in order to debut on the public markets, according to a source familiar with the matter. Graf is working with an adviser on a possible merger with Velodyne, according to our source. Last year, Velodyne was reported  to have hired bankers to spearhead a possible public listing but it seems the company has decided to take the "backdoor" method of going public by merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (SPAC). SPACs, in this case, are corporate entities taken public for the sole purpose of merging with another private company. As a private company, Velodyne has raised some $225 million in funding. The company's last-known private funding gave it a valuation of $1.8 billion, a valuation Velodyne may be seeking to surpass on the publi

TuSimple Seeks New Funding

TuSimple co-founder and CTO Xiaodi Hou. Photo credit: Harry Murphy/Web Summit via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is seeking up to $250 million in new funding and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to help it raise that amount, as first reported by TechCrunch . Morgan Stanley is said to have sent out informational packets to potential investors in a bid to seek funding for TuSimple. Already, TuSimple has raised about $300 million in total funding but happens to be seeking more. The San Diego-based company last raised funding in September of last year. TuSimple was founded in 2015, at a time when most of the self-driving industry was focused on passenger cars rather than big trucks. The company has managed to secure significant funding and attention since then, with backers including UPS, CDH Investments, and China's Sina Corp. Although based out of San Diego, TuSimple currently tests on public roads in the state

Oscar Health Nabs $225 Million Round

Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser. Photo credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license New York-based health insurance startup Oscar Health has announced it's raised $225 million in new funding from a host of investors, including Alphabet, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, all existing investors in Oscar, alongside new investors Baillie Gifford and Coatue. The new funding adds up the total amount of funding that Oscar has raised since its inception to $1.5 billion. The valuation that came with this round isn't known. Oscar, meanwhile, says it's on track for $2 billion in annual sales. Oscar Health, which was founded in 2012, sizeably expanded this year. The company, which offers health insurance products, now has more than 420,000 insured members. Oscar is currently available in 15 states across the U.S.

Intuit Advances $2 Billion Bond Sale

Intuit Chairman Brad Smith. Photo credit: JD Lasica on Flickr, under Creative Commons license Financial software company Intuit has forged ahead with a bond offering that's intended to raise $2 billion, possibly to help fund the company's $7.1 billion cash and stock acquisition of personal finance company Credit Karma. Intuit has priced its offering for $2 billion worth of bonds and expects to close the bond sale on the 29th of June, 2020. Intuit intends to use the bond proceeds for general corporate purposes but says it could tap into it to fund its acquisition of Credit Karma. As of April end, Intuit reported having $4 billion in cash and equivalents so the company isn't really hurting for cash. Intuit's $2 billion bond sale consists of four $500 million tranches due by the years 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2030. The 2023-due bonds carry the least interest rate of 0.650% while the 2030-due bonds carry the highest interest rate of 1.650%. Investment banks inc

Salesforce Backs Tanium

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico, under Creative Commons license Cybersecurity company Tanium has announced  it's raised funding from Salesforce Ventures, the venture capital arm of tech giant Salesforce. Salesforce is investing in the company as part of a strategic partnership. Salesforce's investment, reported being about $100 million, values Tanium at $9 billion, a sizeable boost from the company's last private valuation of $6.5 billion. With Salesforce's investment, Tanium will now have raised about $900 million in total funding since its inception. Salesforce is partnering with Tanium to develop a cybersecurity software suite targeted at enterprises. The software suite will include a help desk to submit, track, and resolve cybersecurity issues; a service dashboard for IT employees; and the ability to build cybersecurity-related workflows on the Salesforce platform. Tanium marks the latest inve

Amazon To Pay $1 Billion+ For Zoox

Zoox CEO Aicha Evans. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license A few weeks ago, we reported that Amazon was in negotiations to buy self-driving startup Zoox. Now, word has it that the e-commerce giant will pay more than $1 billion to acquire Zoox, as first reported by The Information [paywall] . Zoox itself has raised nearly $1 billion in funding as a private company so it doesn't look like investors are looking forward to juicy returns from the sale. The majority of Zoox's investors are, however, expected to get their money back, with a few even making a positive return, The Information reports. Investors in Zoox include DFJ, Blackbird Ventures, Lux Capital, Atlassian co-founder Michael Cannon-Brooks, and Hollywood mogul Thomas Tull. Amazon is expected to announce a final deal soon. Snapping up Zoox will give the e-commerce giant control over a self-driving startup with about 1,000 employees. Amazon's exact intent

Volvo Teams Up With Waymo

Photo credit: Volvo Swedish automaker Volvo has teamed up with Alphabet's Waymo for the development of self-driving technology. Waymo is now the exclusive L4 partner for Volvo, with both companies working together to implement Waymo's self-driving tech on Volvo cars. Both companies made the partnership known via a recent press release . The press statement didn't actually divulge many details about the partnership, primarily noting that Waymo is now the exclusive Level 4 self-driving tech partner for Volvo. Volvo intends to use self-driving tech from Waymo to power an all-electric fleet of robotaxis. The Swedish automaker aims to debut an autonomous ride-hailing service in future time and has apparently seen Waymo as its best partner for that. Volvo isn't the first automaker to see Waymo as a viable partner, with the Alphabet subsidiary having already partnered with other automakers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler. Waymo is known to be the global lea

Ruth Porat Joins Blackstone's Board

Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat. Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Faruk Pinjo, under Creative Commons license Private equity giant Blackstone has added a new board member by the name of Ruth Porat, who is best known for being the chief financial officer of Google-parent Alphabet. Porat has a notable relationship with Blackstone going back to her days as an executive at investment banking firm Morgan Stanley. At Morgan Stanley, where she eventually became CFO, Porat helped take Blackstone public. She spent 27 years at Morgan Stanley before joining Google as CFO in May 2015. Following the creation of Google-parent Alphabet, she was appointed as the chief financial officer of the entity. “I first worked closely with Ruth during Blackstone’s IPO and greatly admire her talent and judgment. She possesses a deep understanding of the financial services industry from her years on Wall Street and has had a front row seat in Silicon Valley to the technological revolution that is swee

Tencent Scoops Up Iflix

Tencent CEO Pony Ma. Photo credit: Techcrunch on Flickr , under Creative Commons license Chinese tech giant Tencent has reached a deal to acquire Iflix, a Malaysia-based video streaming company that primarily serves the Southeast Asian markets. According to reports, Tencent will continue the Iflix brand name for at least 6-12 months after the acquisition and is expected to retain the majority of the company's staff. Although having raised about $350 million in funding, Iflix has lost money heavily and recently saw the departure of two of its co-founders from the company entirely. In April, when both co-founders resigned, Iflix laid off more than 50 of its employees. Iflix is said to have been targeting an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange to raise more funding before the coronavirus outbreak struck and halted its plans. Under Tencent, Iflix can presumably further its cause, even though its sale to the company seems more like a fire sale than an

AT&T Trims Weighty Debt Load

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Photo credit: Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Telecoms giant AT&T has announced  early repayment terms for $5.3 billion in outstanding bonds as the company seeks to trim its behemoth ($151 billion as of 2019 end) debt load. The Dallas-based telecoms giant insists its future near-term debt requirements are "very manageable" and has committed to cutting down debt while still paying dividends to shareholders and investing in growth areas. AT&T says it anticipates future strong cash flow, in turn, bolstering its ability to pay down debt. A sizeable part of AT&T's debt originated from its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. Since then, the company has worked on trimming its debt. AT&T is set to release its financial results for the second quarter of this year on the 23rd of July, 2020.

Sonos Cuts 12% Of Workforce

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. Photo credit: Stephen McCarthy/Collision via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license As indicated by a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), audio equipment maker Sonos is laying off 12% of its total workforce and also closing its New York retail store. As part of the layoffs, the company is shutting down six of its satellite offices. Sonos blames reduced sales due to the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the layoffs. The company expects to incur between $9 million to $11 million in employee severance and benefits costs and between $16 million to $19 million primarily as a result of its office closures. As part of cost-cutting efforts, Sonos's CEO alongside its main executive officers have agreed to a 20% base salary cut from the months of July through September. All of the company's board members have also agreed to forgo their annual cash retainer from the months of July through December. Sonos is aim

Apple Acquires MDM Startup Fleetsmith

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo credit: Apple Apple has reached a deal to acquire Fleetsmith, a San Francisco-based mobile device management (MDM) startup that's backed by the likes of Menlo Ventures, Tiger Global, and Index Ventures. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Fleetsmith is known to have raised more than $40 million in funding since its inception. The company, which develops software that helps enterprises manage their Apple devices, formally launched in 2016. Apple has a burgeoning 'Services' business and is apparently acquiring Fleetsmith to help facilitate the budge. In 2019, Apple posted a whopping $46 billion in revenues from services alone. That figure was double revenues from the segment three years before. In the first quarter of this year, Apple's services revenue reached an all-time high of $13.3 billion. Fleetsmith is known to have about 30 employees in total. Although the price Apple is paying for Fleetsmith isn't

Dell Explores VMware Stake Spin-Off

Dell CEO Michael Dell.  Photograph by Jordan Curet/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Tech giant Dell Technologies is considering among other options spinning off its roughly $50 billion stake in cloud computing company VMware in order to help bolster its share price, the Wall Street Journal [paywall] reports. According to the Journal, Dell recently kicked off a process to examine the possibility of unloading its VMware's stake or taking other steps that could include purchasing the rest of VMware shares that it doesn't own. Dell and VMware are currently working with advisers on a possible deal. Dell got hold of its huge stake in VMware after taking over storage hardware maker EMC in 2016. The company tapped significant debt to fund a $67 billion acquisition of EMC and having paid down some of it currently has a debt load of $48 billion. A VMware stake spin-off could be structured to reduce that debt load. Dell currently has a market value

Palantir Adds New Board Members

Alexander Moore, a new Palantir board member. Photo credit: Alex Dunne on Flickr , under Creative Commons license En route to a public listing , Palantir has added three new board directors by the names of Spencer Rascoff, best-known for co-founding Zillow; Alexander Moore, an early Palantir employee and current partner at venture capital firm 8VC; and Alexandra Wolfe Schiff, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal. To facilitate the appointment, Schiff is stepping down from her role at the Wall Street Journal in order to be a Palantir board member. These appointments bring the total count of Palantir's board to seven. Adding three new board members surely seems like Palantir looking to get ready for a public listing.  By California law, public companies headquartered in the state must have at least one woman on their boards, and Palantir just appointed its first female board member. Atop that, the company recently raised $500 million in funding from Japanese insuranc

Amazon Debuts $2 Billion Clean Energy Fund

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo credit: Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, under Creative Commons license Amazon has announced  a pledge to invest $2 billion in clean energy companies "whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy." The company is setting up a dedicated venture investment program with an initial backing of $2 billion to specifically invest in clean energy companies. The new venture fund builds on previous climate change efforts by Amazon, which include a $100 million climate venture fund, renewable energy projects, and an overall plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025. In September of last year, Amazon committed to ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, an electric vehicle upstart it's also invested in. The $2 billion fund, the Climate Pledge Fund as it's named, will invest in multiple industries, including energy generation, manufacturing and materials, foo

Mastercard Scoops Up Finicity

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga. Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary, under Creative Commons license Payments giant Mastercard has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Finicity, a Utah-based financial data company that was founded two decades ago. Finicity has been a private company since its founding and has raised some $80 million in funding since its inception, its last funding round being in 2018. Mastercard is paying $825 million upfront to acquire Finicity, plus an additional potential earnout of $160 million set in place. Mastercard's acquisition comes on the heels of the acquisition of another Utah-based financial data startup, Galileo, by SoFi . SoFi, a private fintech, coughed up $1.2 billion in cash and stock for Galileo. Finicity is a financial data aggregation and insights platform whose product is adopted by fintech and financial services companies to facilitate their banking services. It's basically a connector between consumer

NYSE Seeks Permit For More Direct Listings

Photo credit: Billie Grace Ward on Flickr , under Creative Commons license The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has filed an amendment with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to allow for more direct public listings on its stock exchange, direct listings, in this case, being a relatively new way for companies to go public 'directly' rather than taking the traditional path of raising capital from investors by adopting the services of underwriters. Direct listings can be basically pictured as a direct move of shares from the private markets to the public markets. Direct listings have been tested by only two companies so far, Spotify and Slack, which listed in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Seeing the success, other tech companies like Airbnb and DoorDash are said to be eyeing a similar path. In December of last year, the NYSE filed a proposal with the SEC to allow for more direct listings but got rebuffed without public comment. The stock exchange has now filed an am

Apple Debuts iOS 14

Photo credit: Apple At this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) which kickstarted on Monday, the 22nd of June, Apple has debuted iOS 14 , the 14th iteration of the company's popular smartphone operating system. The iOS 14 brings along new changes, among them a new way to discover and use apps ("App Clips"), new updates to the Messages app (users can now pin conversations to the top of their message list, keep up with group threads through mentions and inline replies, e.t.c), enhanced privacy features, and the likes. Other notable updates include the use of "digital car keys", seamless switching of the AirPods between Apple devices, third-party device support for the Find My app, audio messages for Siri, and an updated Health app. So far, Apple has unveiled the iPadOS 14 , the watch OS 7 , and a new macOS version. A live-stream of the WWDC can be accessed via this link [YouTube] .

Canva Valued At $6 Billion With New Funding

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins. Photo credit: Melanie Perkins on Flickr , under Creative Commons license Design software company Canva has raised $60 million in new funding that sets its valuation at $6 billion, nearly double the company's last valuation of $3.2 billion. The new funding was led by venture capital firms Blackbird and Sequoia China, with participation from General Catalyst, Felicis, and Bond. Canva says the new funding will help it expand its collaboration tools and launch a new office in the U.S. state of Texas. The new office is intended to serve as Canva's U.S. enterprise hub. With the new funding, Canva has now raised about $300 million in total funding since its inception. All of the new funding happened to come from already existing investors in Canva. Canva says it's currently profitable and is doubling its paying user base, which now stands at 500,000 organizations and 1.5 million paid subscribers. Canva was founded in and has been based out

Coatue Leads New Funding For Checkout.com

Coatue Management Founder Phillippe Laffont. Photo credit: Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Coatue Management, a tech-focused hedge fund, has led $150 million in new funding for Checkout.com, a London-based payments company. The funding values Checkout.com at $5.5 billion, a triple of the company's last-known valuation. Checkout says online transactions on its platform have grown 250% year-on-year, sort of explaining the sizeable valuation increase. The coronavirus pandemic, in general, seems to have boosted business for payment providers. Alongside Coatue, participants in the new funding for Checkout.com include venture capital firms DST Global, Insight Partners, and Blossom Capital. Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, also participated. The new funding is a Series B, the second round of funding Checkout.com has closed since its inception. Impressively, Checkout.com says it's been profitable since 2012 and is raising th

HSBC Invests $7 Million In Privitar

HSBC CEO Noel Quinn. Photo credit: HSBC Banking multinational HSBC has made a sizeable investment in Privitar, a London-based data privacy startup. As made known by a formal press release , HSBC invested $7 million in the company as an extension of its Series C round, adding up the Series C funding for Privitar to $87 million. HSBC is apparently a strategic investor and has also been a Privitar customer for four years running. Privitar develops tools to help enterprises secure and protect sensitive data from malicious activity. The London-based startup was founded in 2014. HSBC's investment included, Privitar has now raised about $150 million in total funding since its inception. Privitar has raised funding from a host of investors including well-known names like Accel, Citi, Salesforce Ventures, Accel, Partech, and Warburg Pincus. The company maintains regional offices in Boston and Singapore in addition to its headquarters in London.

Mubadala Plans For More Tech Bets

Mubadala Chief Executive Officer Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Photo credit: Mubadala Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, is planning to make more tech investments on the heels of investing $1.2 billion investment in Indian telecom outfit Reliance Jio, as made known by its Chief Executive Officer Khaldoon Al Mubarak in a virtual interview with Bloomberg . “We need to be much more exposed to technology in all its facets. We’re on the right track.” Al Mubarak said in a statement. He touted technology as “the place to go” for further investments. According to Al Mubarak, Mubadala is scouting India, China, and Southeast Asia for potential investments. Mubadala is one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, with more than $200 billion under management, enough cash to make some big technology investments. Mubadala invests money on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi. This month, Mubadala joined a host of other tech-focused investors, private equity firms, and sovere

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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

Ed-Tech Company Coursera Files To Go Public

Every new week or so brings new IPOs and a very notable company that has just hopped aboard the IPO train is Coursera, the popular massive open online course provider founded out of Stanford University.  Coursera has filed an S-1 document for an IPO with the SEC, giving a peek into its financials and business operations with information not publicly known before. By the stats: Coursera reported a record $294 million revenue in 2020, compared to $184 million in the previous year, 2019. 2020 was definitely a good year for the company as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic spurred an upsized demand for online education services. Coursera isn't profitable, reporting respective net losses of $67 million and $47 million in 2020 and 2019. The company has a high Gross Profit rate, coming at nearly 50% in both 2020 and 2019 but has high expenses making it record net losses. Its highest expense for the past two years has been attributed to sales and marketing endeavors. Coursera had 387 pa