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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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Alert: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted On Fraud Charges

The founder of embattled electric car startup Nikola Corp. has been formally indicted on fraud charges by the US Justice Department months after resigning from the company. Trevor Milton by name, he's been accused of securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud and mislead investors. Milton is accused of misleading investors by making false statements regarding Nikola's products and capabilities. Notably, most of the investors allegedly misled were on the retail side. The DOJ alleges that Milton made false claims regarding "nearly all aspects" of Nikola's business. Milton founded Nikola in 2014 and led it through a public listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year. The DOJ threw an apparent jab at SPACs in his indictment, asserting that he made 'many' of his false and misleading claims  during a period where he would not have been allowed to do so under rules that govern traditional IPOs were he

Earnings: AMD Doubles Revenue, Triples Profit

In this earnings season, companies all over are dropping their latest quarterly results and we're here equally reporting on them. We've touched on social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , electric carmaker Tesla , and iPhone maker Apple . Now, the next is chipmaker AMD Inc . AMD has dropped its earnings for the second quarter of 2021, showing strong prospects as revenue doubled year-over-year and net income more than tripled.   Details AMD posted $3.9bn in revenue in Q2, up 99% year-over-year and 12% from the preceding quarter. For the same period, the company's net income was $710mn , up 352% year-over-year and 28% from the preceding quarter. Doubling its revenue and nearly quadrupling net income indicates AMD has a strong yet fast-growing business. It's bound to grow even more as the company is set to complete its acquisition of rival chipmaker Xilinx . AMD makes money selling high-performance chipsets used in computers, consoles, data centers, and the likes

Antitrust: Amazon Fined $900M By EU For Privacy Violations

Tech behemoth Amazon is for the nth time in the crosshairs of the European Union (EU). The latest saga in that arena is that Amazon has been fined a record-breaking amount for alleged privacy violations, according to an SEC filing from the company. Amazon has been fined the sum of €746 million ($888mn) by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) for not complying with data privacy laws. It's the largest fine imposed under Europe's data protection law.  The fine originates from the CNPD accusing Amazon of processing customers' personal data in violation of the EU's famous-cum-infamous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.  In June, it was reported ( WSJ )  that the Luxembourg data protection agency had sanctioned Amazon's privacy practices and proposed a fine topping $425mn to the EU's other two-dozen or so national data protection authorities. Now, it appears that the final fine is much larger than that.  Before now, the bigges

Deal: Qualtrics Buys CX Startup Clarabridge For $1.1B

Months after getting spun out of SAP into a separate public company, Qualtrics , a major provider of online survey software, has made a major acquisition. It's agreed to buy Clarabridge , a startup that does similar work to Qualtrics in the field fondly referred to as "customer experience (CX)". Qualtrics will pay $1.1bn all with shares to buy Clarabridge. The acquisition is a major strategic play for the company, pairing Qualtrics' customer survey business with Clarabridge's similar business of measuring customer sentiment from various sources like social media posts and customer support calls. Basically, Qualtrics is in the business of weighing customer surveys directly and Clarabridge in the business of doing so indirectly . Pairing both businesses represents a major strategic play for Qualtrics. In an investor presentation, Qualtrics said that Clarabridge has $100mn in annual revenue, implying an 11x multiple that it's paying to buy the company. That&#

Deal: Amgen Buys Biotech Startup Teneobio In $2.5B Deal

It appears that this Covid era has led to a boom for companies that work on  antibodies , which are protective proteins produced by the human immune system to tackle foreign substances, usually viruses. Antibodies are very useful in the research and treatment of viruses such as Covid. There are companies that specialize in antibodies and one of them, BioLegend , was recently bought for a whopping $5.3bn . Now, another such company, Teneobio , is getting bought for a big amount. Teneobio has agreed to be acquired by Amgen , an American biotech giant. Amgen is paying $900mn upfront for the company, then an additional $1.6bn in cash contingent on the company hitting certain milestones. It sums up to a $2.5bn deal . Teneobio is a clinical-stage biotech startup working on antibodies aimed at treating cancer, autoimmunity, and other infectious diseases. As it's still in the clinical trial stage with no viable product yet, it appears that Amgen is betting big on Teneobio's trials b

Antitrust: UK Probes Facebook's $1B Kustomer Acquisition

The UK's antitrust agency has launched a probe into Facebook's latest acquisition, that of chatbot platform Kustomer Inc , which Facebook agreed to buy last November for a reported $1bn. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday, the 30th of July, released a statement  indicating it had opened an inquiry into Facebook's purchase of Kustomer, regarding if it'll result in "a substantial lessening of competition" within the market Kustomer operates in. Such probes aren't out of the norm and are routine for big acquisitions. For Facebook, it speaks to the fact that antitrust agencies are watching the company's moves, especially regarding acquisitions. To note, two of Facebook Inc's biggest products outside the main Facebook platform, Instagram and WhatsApp , were acquisitions. In fact, it's primarily acquisitions that have propelled the company's growth. As with such probes, the UK will first seek comments from the public

Hollywood: Reese Witherspoon's Media Co. Sold In $900M Deal

A media company founded by superstar actress Reese Witherspoon has sold for a large amount to a company still in its infancy that hasn't even been named yet. That company is Hello Sunshine , a media company that produces content distributed across various platforms; movies, TV shows, podcasts, et al. Hello Sunshine has been sold to a newly-formed media venture t hat's backed by investment capital from Blackstone , the private equity giant.  The venture is led by ex Disney honchos Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs .  As it is, the Blackstone-funded venture is acquiring a majority stake in Hello Sunshine from a group of external investors while anchor shareholders like Witherspoon and her founding partners will roll over and retain their equity stakes in the newly-formed venture. Officially, the deal's financial terms weren't disclosed, but a report from The Wall Street Journal says it's a $900mn deal. According to the report, the Blackstone-funded venture will pay $500mn

Earnings: Shopify Beats Estimates, Reaches Major Milestone

In this season of earnings results and we at The Techee  reporting on them, we're here with a beat on Shopify , which has released its earnings statement for the second quarter (April-June) of this year. In Q2, Shopify beat revenue expectations from analysts and as well achieved a major financial milestone by crossing $1bn in quarterly revenue for the first time. Shopify had $1.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 57% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $897mn , most of which was due to a $778mn gain in equity investments, likely from Shopify's stake in Affirm , a major 'buy now, pay later' lender. As usual, most of Shopify's sales ( $785mn ) came from "Merchant Solutions", which groups additional services the company offers atop recurring subscriptions charged to online retailers. Sales from subscriptions came at $334mn in the quarter. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), representing the total worth of transactions made on the Shopify platform,

Alert: Square Buys Australia's Afterpay For $29B

It's a big day in the fintech world. There's been a major acquisition with a major American fintech company, Square , buying Australia's foremost fintech startup, Afterpay , a 'buy now, pay later' lender. Square has reached an agreement to buy Afterpay for a whopping $29bn , marking one of Australia's biggest buyouts. It's a big deal that a startup founded barely seven years ago is selling for $29bn.  Square will pay the $29bn all with shares. It means that shares of Afterpay, which are traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, will be exchanged for Square stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Afterpay is Australia's foremost 'buy now, pay later (BNPL)' lender in online retail. For the uninitiated, the 'buy now, pay later' business is a relatively young one providing alternatives to credit cards for consumers to shop online. It provides loans for consumers to shop online and then pay back in installments. Usually, credi

Markets: US SEC Takes Aim At Chinese IPOs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken a swipe at Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) after regulatory hiccups in China have affected many Chinese stocks listed on US markets and American stockholders holding them. The SEC has issued new guidance on Chinese companies seeking to list shares in the US, requiring them to make certain disclosures to investors or otherwise refrain from listing in the US markets. First of all, usually, Chinese companies listing in the US don't actually sell shares of the operating companies but that of shell companies with contractual relationships with the operating companies. These shell shares, known as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) , are used to circumvent restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese shares imposed by the country's government. Now, the SEC in a statement has made it clear that Chinese companies seeking to list in the US must provide clear descriptions of the shell operations involved in such listing