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Showing posts from July, 2020

Microsoft Reportedly Looking To Buy TikTok

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary, under Creative Commons license Software giant Microsoft is in talks to buy popular social app TikTok, according to a report [paywall] from the New York Times . According to the Times, it's however unclear how advanced the talks between both companies on a possible acquisition are. As of late, TikTok has been the center of scrutiny from U.S. regulators, with U.S. President Trump even stating of looking into a possible ban of the app in the US. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a private Chinese technology company valued at above $100 billion by investors. A US-based company like Microsoft swooping in to buy TikTok would likely lessen scrutiny from U.S. regulators, who right now seem to be primarily concerned over the app's Chinese ties. In all, ByteDance seems to be looking to quickly divest TikTok in order to stave off increasing regulatory scrutiny. Only a few days ago, the co

Brief: Argo AI Now Valued At $7.5 Billion

Argo AI CEO Brian Salesky. Photo credit: Argo AI Following the finalization of a $2.6 billion investment from German automaker Volkswagen, Argo AI, the self-driving affiliate of U.S. automaker Ford, is now valued at $7.5 billion as confirmed on Thursday. The valuation was bestowed primarily by Volkswagen's investment, which gave the automaker a 40% stake in Argo AI. Ford also holds an equal 40% stake in the company, with the rest held by employees and Argo's founders. Ford had been Argo's primary funder before Volkswagen's $2.6 billion investment, which actually consists of $1 billion in cash as well as Volkswagen's own self-driving unit, itself valued at $1.6 billion. It's such that Ford posted a $1.1 billion investment gain during the second quarter of this year thanks to Volkswagen's investment in Argo AI. The automaker itself is facing business struggles amid a coronavirus pandemic that has generally weakened automobile sales across the US.

GM Taps EVgo For EV Charging Network

Photo credit: General Motors Automaker General Motors (GM) has formulated a partnership with electric vehicle charging station provider EVgo to add more than 2,700 public EV charging stations across the U.S. over the next five years. Under the partnership, both companies will add fast-charging stations to cities and suburbs in order to better serve GM's electric car owners in the US. Many electric vehicle owners typically rent their homes or live in multi-unit homes and may have hard times or even be barred from installing their personal chargers. These set of people usually rely on public charging stations, which aren't always readily available or are usually time-constrained due to high demand. As the adoption of electric cars grows in the US, it's usual that automakers are looking to set up larger charging networks. Already, EVgo has more than 800 public charging stations across the US. The new charging stations it'll further add in partnership with GM wi

Brief: Xpeng Raises Extra $300 Million

Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng. Photo credit: Shawn Koh/Fortune, under Creative Commons license Just after securing $500 million in funding , Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has been reported to have raised an additional $300 million from investors including the sovereign wealth fund of the state of Qatar. Reports note of Xpeng securing the funding in preparation for a public listing possibly in the U.S. and that the company may further raise even more funding. With the new reported funding, Xpeng has now raised some $2.5 billion in total funding since its inception. Xpeng's new fundraise notably comes on the heels of Li Auto, another Chinese electric vehicle upstart, closing an initial public offering in the U.S. that raised $1.1 billion for its operations.

Brief: Pinterest's Q2 Results

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann. Photo credit: Eóin Noonan/Web Summit via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license Pinterest has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $272 million in revenues, up 4% year-over-year, and losses of $101 million. During the quarter, the number of monthly active users of its service grew 39% year-over-year to 416 million. Pinterest's quarterly loss grew 91% year-over-year, buoyed by the coronavirus pandemic which has led to widespread advertising cuts by companies. Out of the $272 million in revenue, $232 million came from the U.S. while the rest came from foreign countries. “By all accounts, this was a challenging quarter as COVID-19 continued to spread. I’m pleased with the way we responded and remained engaged with our advertising partners,” Todd Morgenfeld, Pinterest's CFO, said in a press statement. “It has been encouraging to see the recovery in our business over the past few months, but t

Nvidia In "Advanced" Talks For Arm

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. Photo credit: Nvidia Corporation Chipmaker Nvidia, which was recently reported to be of interest in acquiring famed chip designer Arm, has now been reported [paywall] to be in "advanced" talks to acquire the company by Bloomberg . According to Bloomberg , Nvidia has initiated formal talks with Arm's Japanese owner, SoftBank, and aims to reach a final deal in the "next few weeks". SoftBank coughed up $32 billion to acquire Arm in 2016 and will be presumably seeking a sizeable profit on its investment. This implies that an Nvidia deal for Arm would likely be one of the largest acquisitions, if not the largest ever, to be witnessed in the semiconductor industry. Nvidia looking to acquire Arm would also likely stir up regulatory scrutiny and probably opposition from hardware companies that utilize Arm's technology. SoftBank, Arm's owner, has been offloading some prized assets as of recent as it seeks to pay down its size

Affirm Preps For Public Listing

Affirm CEO Max Levchin. Photo credit: picture alliance für DLD, under Creative Commons license Affirm, the 'buy now, pay later' service, is laying the groundwork and working with investment bank Goldman Sachs on a potential public listing, as first reported [paywall] by the Wall Street Journal . According to the Journal, Affirm, which was valued at $2.9 billion by investors as of its last financing round, is targeting a value of between $5 billion-$10 billion for a public listing. Affirm was founded in 2012 by tech veteran Max Levchin, who's famously known for being a co-founder of payments service PayPal. He founded Affirm eight years ago and has overseen the company's rise to having 5.6 million shoppers and working with more than 6,000 merchants across the US. Along the way, Affirm has secured some $1 billion in equity and debt funding. Investors in the company include the likes of Founders Fund, Baillie Gifford, Ribbit Capital, and Wellington Manageme

Ford Bronco Eclipses 150,000 Reservations

2021 Ford Bronco. Photo credit: Ford Over 150,000 customers have made reservations for the 2021 Ford Bronco SUV, as revealed by Ford CEO Jim Hackett in an earnings call. The high number of reservations notably comes just two weeks after the 2021 SUV's debut, implying exceptional customer interest in the vehicle. Each person who reserved had to put down $100 as payment for that. Already, Ford has reportedly racked up an 18-month-long waitlist for the new SUV. The 2021 Ford Bronco was unveiled on the 13th of July, marking a revival of the SUV make for the first time in 25 years. It's set to begin arriving in car dealerships later this year.

Brief: Apple's Quarterly Results

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo credit: Austin Community College, under Creative Commons license Apple has announced its financial results for the year's most recent quarter, indicating roughly $60 billion in revenues, up 11% year-over-year, with sales outside the U.S. accounting for 60% of the quarter's revenue. Out of the $60 billion, $46.5 billion came from product sales while $13.2 billion came from Services. Net income for the quarter came at $11.3 billion, up 13% year-over-year. For the quarter, Apple has declared a cash dividend of $0.82 per share for its shareholders. The company has also approved a four-for-one stock split for its shares "to make the stock more accessible to a broader base of investors." Due to that, each Apple shareholder will receive three additional shares for each share held after a split on the 24th of August, 2020.

Google Cloud Reports Record Revenue

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. Photo credit: Oracle PR on Flickr , under Creative Commons license Tech giant Google has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $38.3 billion in revenue, down a bit from $38.9 billion in the same quarter of last year. It's actually the first time in its entirety that Google is reporting lower quarterly revenues when compared year-over-year. Notably, in the quarter, revenue from Google Cloud boosted 43% year-over-year to $3 billion, up from $2.1 billion a year prior and $2.8 billion in the previous quarter. The 43% growth rate from Google Cloud surpassed that of any other segment at the company. Google Cloud has been on a growth spree for years, buoyed by the appointment of former Oracle veteran Thomas Kurian to head its operations. Kurian joined the cloud division as chief executive in 2018, when it had a roughly $6 billion annual revenue run rate, and has spearheaded its boost to a $10 billion

Brief: Facebook's Q2 Results

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo credit: Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women, under Creative Commons license Social media giant Facebook has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $18.3 billion in revenues, up 10% year-over-year, and $5.2 billion in net income, up 98% year-over-year. During the quarter, the number of Facebook's daily active users boosted 12% year-over-year to 1.79 billion while the number of monthly active users boosted 12% year-over-year to 2.7 billion. As people sheltered at homes globally, they apparently resorted to using social media more frequently, and hence, Facebook's significant user number boost. During the second quarter, Facebook faced a sizeable advertisement boycott but that didn't appear to hurt its business much. About 1,100 companies in total joined the advertisement boycott.

Boom Supersonic Courts Rolls-Royce Engines

Overture. Photo credit: Boom Supersonic Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based startup aiming to revive the world of commercial supersonic travel, has announced that it's reached a deal with Rolls-Royce, the famed airplane engine manufacturer, to explore the pairing of a Rolls-Royce engine with a supersonic aircraft being made by Boom. The aircraft, in particular, is named Overture  and has already had purchase commitments from a sizeable number of airline companies. By concept, Overture is a Mach 2.2., 55-passenger aircraft with 8,300 kilometers of range, and with Boom's newly announced partnership, the company is apparently looking to possibly use Rolls-Royce propulsion systems in it. In that market, Rolls-Royce is already the manufacturer of choice for many aircraft companies. Under the partnership, respective teams from Boom and Rolls-Royce will investigate whether an already existing Rolls-Royce engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight. This will give

Brief: Qualcomm's Quarterly Results

Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf. Photo credit: Jordan Curet/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Semiconductor company Qualcomm has announced its financial results for its most recent quarter of this year, indicating $4.9 billion in revenues and $845 million in net income. During the quarter, the San Diego-based company returned $843 million to shareholders via cash dividends and share repurchases. Also during the quarter, Qualcomm notably reached a cross-licensing patent deal with Chinese telecom giant Huawei that it predicts will add an estimated $1.8 billion in revenues for itself in the next quarter. For the next quarter, Qualcomm is now forecasting between $7.3 billion-$8.1 billion in revenues. “As 5G continues to roll out, we are realizing the benefits of the investments we have made in building the most extensive licensing program in mobile and are turning the technical challenges of 5G into leadership opportunities and commercial wins,” Qualcomm

Humana Invests $100 Million In Heal

Humana CEO Bruce Broussard. Photo credit: Stuart Isett for Fortune, under Creative Commons license Health insurance giant Humana has announced it's invested $100 million in Heal, a Los Angeles-based telehealth startup, as part of a broader partnership between both companies. Heal is a telehealth startup that offers its services to patients across the U.S. states of New York, California, Georgia, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Thanks to the partnership with Humana, the Los Angeles-based startup will now expand to new markets including Chicago, Charlotte, and Houston. Humana's investment in Heal notably comes amid a pandemic that has largely driven up telehealth activity and with Heal a major beneficiary. With Humana's investment, Heal has now raised $171 million in total funding since its inception. Previous investors in the company include the likes of former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs (who serves as its executive chairman), ven

Triller On Verge Of New Funding

Photo credit: Triller Triller, the popular music video app and TikTok competitor, is on the verge of securing at least $200 million in new funding, according to a report from Fox Business, which states that the Los Angeles-based company has commitments of between $200 million to $300 million in new funding from investors. According to the report, Farvahar Partners, a boutique investment bank, is arranging the fundraising efforts for Triller. The news of Triller raising new funding notably comes on the heels of reports of Chinese technology company ByteDance looking to divest its popular TikTok app at a valuation of up to $50 billion. TikTok is facing ever-increasing scrutiny from U.S. regulators that's traceable to its Chinese origins. This has made the app's developer, ByteDance Technologies, to consider relinquishing its sole control. Just this month, Triller announced it hit 50 million monthly active users, a 600% year-over-year increase. The social app has appare

Brief: Spotify's Q2 Results

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. Photo credit: Spotify Music streaming company Spotify has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in revenues, up 13% year-over-year. Out of the €1.9 billion, €131 million ($154 million) came from advertising while the rest came from subscriptions. Despite increasing revenues, Spotify, however, recorded a sizeable loss of €356 million ($419 million) during the quarter. During the second quarter, the number of Spotify's monthly active users boosted 29% year-over-year to 299 million. Photo credit: Spotify

Brief: Remitly Nabs $85 Million Round

Remitly CEO Matt Oppenheimer. Photo credit: RISE, under Creative Commons license Remitly, a Seattle-based fintech company, has announced it's raised $85 million in new funding led by payments company PayU, already a previous investor in the company, with participation from other investors including Stripes, Threshold Ventures, Owl Rock Capital, DN Capital, and Generation Investment Management. Remitly says it'll use the new funding to expand its suite of digital financial services products. With the new funding, Remitly has now raised a total of $505 million in known funding since its inception. The new investment valued Remitly at $1.5 billion.

Tesla May Sell Batteries To Other Automakers

Photo credit: Tesla Tesla's famed chief executive, Elon Musk, insinuated on Tuesday that the electric carmaker is open to licensing software and supplying batteries and powertrains to other automakers. The company isn't exactly new to doing such a thing, as it previously supplied batteries to automakers Toyota and Mercedes Benz under separate partnership deals. “Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!” Musk said in a Tuesday message on Twitter. Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors! — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2020 Batteries are usually the most expensive and important component of electric cars, implying there's possible lots of money to be made by selling them to other automakers. In a statement during a recent Tesla earnings con

Brief: Shopify's Q2 Results

Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke. Photo credit: David Fitzgerald/Collision via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license E-commerce company Shopify has released its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating revenues of $714 million, up 97% year-over-year. Gross Merchandise Volume for the quarter came at $30 billion, up 119% year-over-year. Shopify apparently performed exceedingly in the second quarter of this year, notably at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has largely driven up online e-commerce activity. New stores created on Shopify during the quarter grew 71% year-over-year. During the quarter, Shopify recorded $36 million in net income, compared to a net loss of $29 million in the same quarter last year. As at the end of the second quarter, Shopify had $4 billion in cash and cash equivalents, boosted by a share offering that brought in $1.5 billion in new cash for the company. “The strength of Shopify’s value proposition was on full display i

TransferWise Closes Big Share Sale

TransferWise founders Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. Photo credit: Siim Teller on Flickr, under Creative Commons license UK-based fintech company TransferWise is now valued at $5 billion by investors, following a secondary share sale batch that saw early employees and investors in the company cash out to the tune of $319 million. The share sale, which was announced on Wednesday, didn't add any fresh cash to TransferWise's balance sheet. Before now, TransferWise's most recent financing round valued the company at $3.5 billion.  “We’ve been funded exclusively by our customers for the last few years and we didn’t need to raise external funding for the company,” Kristo Kaarmann, TransferWise’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “This secondary round provides an opportunity for new investors to come in, alongside rewarding the investors and employees who’ve helped us succeed so far.” U.K. fintech companies including the likes of Revolut and Checkou

Brief: eBay's Q2 Results

eBay CEO Jamie Iannone. Photo by Harry Murphy/Web Summit via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license E-commerce company eBay has  announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $2.9 billion in revenue on Gross Merchandise Volume of $27.1 billion. Net income for the quarter amounted to $740 million. Out of the $2.9 billion, $2.7 billion came from marketplace sales while the remaining $201 million originated from classifieds sales. During the quarter, eBay repaid $500 million worth of previously issued debt and returned $112 million in dividends to shareholders. Recently, eBay announced it reached a deal to sell its classifieds business for a total of $9.2 billion. The business is being sold to Norwegian online marketplace giant Adevinta. eBay will receive $2.5 billion of cash and the rest of the total amount in Adevinta shares in order to complete the sale.

Brief: AMD's Q2 Results

AMD CEO Lisa Su. Photo credit: Michael Faas/Fortune, under Creative Commons license Semiconductor company AMD has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating revenues of $1.93 billion and net income of $157 million. Operating income for the quarter came at $173 million. Quarterly revenue is up 26% year-over-year while Net income is up by $122 million compared to the same quarter last year. Gross margin for the quarter was 44%, up 3 percentage points year-over-year and down 2 percentage points quarter-over-quarter. As usual, the Computing and Graphics segment accounted for the majority of AMD's revenue ($1.37 billion in this quarter). The remaining $536 million came from the 'Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom' segment. As at the end of the second quarter, AMD's cash and cash equivalents stood at $1.78 billion.

Brief: Roblox Hits 150 Million Monthly Users

Roblox CEO David Baszucki. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Roblox, the gaming platform targeted at kids, has announced that it now has over 150 million monthly active users, notably in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has largely driven up online activities and particularly those targeted at kids who remain locked out of in-person schooling activities for the moment. Roblox made the announcement at this year's installment of its annual developer conference, which was held virtually. The company also says that developers on its platform are on track to earn over $250 million in this year alone, up from $110 million last year. Currently, Roblox has about 345,000 developers whose games are monetized on its platform. Roblox only eclipsed 100 million monthly active users in August of last year but has apparently boosted that figure by tens of millions more in just about a year later.

DraftKings Stock Falls After MLB Delay

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Shares of sports betting company DraftKings closed down 6.48% on Monday after the Major League Baseball league delayed two upcoming games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the weekend, DraftKings said the MLB was the most popular sport in its sportsbook and that it recorded its second-best day since the March shutdowns began. As many leagues have postponed games, the MLB has been an exception, with ongoing sports games but without the usual swath of spectating fans. Earlier Monday, Major League Baseball delayed the Philadelphia Phillies’ game against the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins game against the Baltimore Orioles. The delay came after more than a dozen members of the Miami Marlins team tested positive for Covid-19, according to AP News . With MLB currently DraftKings' most popular sport, investors seem to be generally of the sentiment

Ro Raises Extra $200 Million

Ro CEO Zachariah Reitano. Photo credit: Ro Telemedicine startup Ro has raised $200 million in new funding led by existing investor General Catalyst. The new funding, a Series C, values the company at a reported $1.5 billion, notably just three years into its founding. With the new funding, New York-based Ro has now raised a total of $376 million in funding since its inception. The investment comes on the heels of a coronavirus pandemic that has largely driven up the demand for telemedicine services. Ro offers a collective of digital health services including general medication, smoking cessation, weight management, and an online pharmacy. Ro is one of the most capitalized startups in the burgeoning technology industry. The company is competing against other fellow upstarts such as Hims, which is itself valued at about $1 billion and is reported to be eyeing a soon public listing. Apart from General Catalyst, other participants in Ro's new financing round include existi

Brief: Ctrip Looking To Go Private

Ctrip CEO Jane Sun. Photo credit: Shawn Koh/Fortune, under Creative Commons license Chinese online travel giant Ctrip is looking to delist from the Nasdaq stock exchange by stitching together a go-private deal, as first reported by news site Reuters . According to Reuters , Ctrip has reached out to potential strategic investors including private equity firms and fellow Chinese technology companies about joining a possible buyout. Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges are facing ever-increasing scrutiny and stricter audit requirements on the heels of sizeable accounting scandals, Luckin Coffee the latest , originating from Chinese companies listed in the US. It's such that Baidu, one of China's tech giants, has also considered delisting from the U.S. Currently (as of writing), Ctrip sports a market capitalization hovering around $17 billion. This implies that a possible take-private deal would involve even higher amounts and mark one of the biggest in th

Brief: Tencent Bids For Sogou

Tencent CEO Pony Ma. Photograph by Vivek Prakash/Fortune, under Creative Commons license Tencent, the Chinese technology giant, has offered to buy out Sogou, a Chinese search engine company, in a $2.1 billion deal. Tencent, already a significant shareholder in Sogou, is bidding $9 in cash for each American depositary share that it doesn't already hold in the company. Tencent currently owns 39.2% of Sogou's shares. Sogou says it's considering Tencent's acquisition offer but with a final decision lying on a special committee composed of independent board directors. For now, there's no definitive agreement between both companies. Tencent's $2.1 billion bid represented a 57% premium price to Sogou's Friday market close.

Jim Lanzone Named Tinder CEO

Jim Lanzone. Photo credit: Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech, under Creative Commons license Match Group, the parent company of dating app Tinder, has announced the appointment of technology and media veteran Jim Lanzone as the dating app's new chief executive, a position he'll formally take over on the 3rd of August, 2020. Under the position, Lanzone will report to Match Group's CEO, Shar Dubey. He's taking the helm at Tinder on the heels of what Match Group terms as a solid quarter as regards to financial performance. "I'm very excited to welcome Jim to Match Group," Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in a press statement. "Tinder still has so much runway ahead, and as we look to integrate video, roll out new features in various regions and accelerate our growth around the world, Jim will be a formidable leader for the company." Jim Lazone is joining Tinder from Benchmark Capital, where he most recently served as an Executive-i

The Robot Dog Scanning Ford's Factory

Fluffy the robot dog. Photo credit: Ford Fluffy is the name given to a four-legged dog-like robot by its handler. The robot, in particular, is one that's stationed at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant of American automaker Ford, where they're part of a pilot program to begin using sophisticated robots to laser scan giant factories in order to collect needed data for retooling and maintenance by engineers. The aim is to be able to scan large factories cheaply and more quickly, as Ford says it currently typically costs about $300,000 and takes up to two weeks to scan one of its manufacturing facilities. Ford is leasing two robots, Fluffy and Spot (the actual name) by nicknames, from robotics company Boston Dynamics. Boston Dynamics, once a Google-owned company but now wholly owned by Japan's SoftBank, began developing robots more than two decades ago but only began commercializing them (for private customers) just this year. The company opened commercial sales

Brief: Facebook Delays Q2 Results

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo credit: Anthony Quintano on Flickr , under Creative Commons license Facebook has delayed the release of its financial results for the second quarter of this year to the 30th of July in order to give space for its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to appear for a scheduled Congressional hearing. Zuckerberg is set to testify alongside the CEOs of Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which is probing the tech giants for possible anti-competitive practices. The hearing was earlier proposed for the 27th of July but later pushed forward by two days. In the first quarter of this year, Facebook reported $17.4 billion in revenue, up 17% year-over-year. Correction : A correction was made to clarify that the Congressional hearing was pushed forward by two days, rather than a previously stated three.

HSBC Denies Having "Framed" Huawei

HSBC CEO Noel Quinn. Photo credit: HSBC HSBC, the banking giant, has denied Chinese media reports that the company had "framed" telecom giant Huawei and played a role in the arrest of the company's CFO, Meng Wanzhou. China’s official People’s Daily newspaper recently published a report that accused HSBC of being an accomplice of the U.S. and lying about Huawei in order to establish a case that led to the arrest of its CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was taken into custody in December 2018 in Canada on a warrant from the US. Meng is accused of bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei's relationship with a corporate entity operating in Iran, where U.S. sanctions laws abide. She's currently fighting requested extradition to the United States. In a statement posted to its official WeChat account, HSBC asserts that it only provided factual information in response to requests from the U.S. Department of Justice and that it has not ‘fabricated’ evidence or ‘conceal

SAP To Take Qualtrics Public

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith. Photo credit: Web Summit on Flickr, under Creative Commons license In less than two years after acquiring survey software platform Qualtrics, SAP, the German software giant, has announced its intent to spin off the company through an initial public offering in the U.S., where it's based. The company will, however, still retain a majority stake in Qualtrics. Notably, Qualtrics had filed for a public offering and was en route to one before SAP swooped in with an $8 billion offer and successfully grabbed the company in late 2018. The current markets seem favorable for technology companies so it's no surprise SAP may be looking to unlock more value from its acquisition of Qualtrics. “SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics has been a great success and has outperformed our expectations with 2019 cloud growth in excess of 40 percent, demonstrating very strong performance in the current setup,” SAP CEO Christian Klein said in a press statement. Qualtric

Brief: Revolut Raises Extra $80 Million

Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky. Photo credit: Harry Murphy/Web Summit via Sportsfile, under Creative Commons license Revolut, the U.K.-based payments company, has secured $80 million in new funding that serves as an extension to a $500 million Series D round that the company closed in February of this year. The new funding came from TSG Consumer Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity firm notably with billions of dollars of assets under management. Revolut says the new funding was secured on the heels of high customer demand and strong financial performance. With the new funding, Revolut has now raised a total of about $900 million since its inception. Revolut was founded only in 2015. The company's last known funding round gave it a valuation of $5.5 billion. Previous investors in Revolut include the likes of DST Global, Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Balderton Capital. Currently, Revolut has more than 12 million customers from 35 different countries.

Alibaba, Jack Ma, Summoned By Indian Court

Jack Ma. Photo credit: World Economic Forum/Jolanda Flubacher, under Creative Commons license An Indian court has served a summons for Chinese tech giant Alibaba and its famed founder Jack Ma to testify in a case in which a former Alibaba employee in India claims he was wrongfully terminated after pushing against what he saw as censorship and fake news on company apps. The employee of concern worked at UC Web, the Chinese web browser company that Alibaba acquired in 2014. He, Pushpandra Singh Parmar by name, alleges that Alibaba censored content seen as unfavorable to China and that its apps UC Browser and UC News showed false news “to cause social and political turmoil”. A Civil Judge in the city of Gurugram, India has issued a summons for Jack Ma, who stepped down from Alibaba last year, as well as about a dozen individuals or company units, requesting they appear in court through a lawyer on the 29th of July. The judge is also seeking written responses from the company

Brief: Verizon's Q2 Results

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. Photo credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, under Creative Commons license Telecom giant Verizon has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $30.4 billion in revenue, down 5% year-over-year primarily due to lower sales resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. During the second quarter, Verizon's total debt decreased by $4.9 billion to a current $102.2 billion. As usual, consumer sales accounted for the bulk of Verizon's revenue. "Through extraordinary circumstances, Verizon delivered a strong operational performance in the second quarter," the company's CEO, Hans Vestberg, said in a statement. "We remain focused on our strategic direction as a technology leader, quickly adapting to the new environment and providing our customers with reliable and vital connections and technology services, while working to keep our employees safe and accelerating our 5G network de

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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