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Showing posts from October, 2020

Lion Electric Eyes Reverse Listing

  Photo credit: Lion Electric Lion Electric, a maker of electric trucks that's secured customers including e-commerce giant Amazon, is in talks to go public by the way of a reverse merger with blank-check firm Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp, according to a report [paywalled] by Bloomberg . Northern Genesis is a newly-formed blank-check firm that raised $300 million from its market debut just in August and is now targeting to raise an additional $500 million to fund a Lion Electric merger, Bloomberg reports. Lion Electric is a Canadian company that makes heavy electric vehicles such as trucks and school buses. In September, it reached an agreement to supply 10 electric trucks to e-commerce giant Amazon, which is increasingly adopting the use of emission-free vehicles for its outsized logistical operations. Still private, Lion Electric is controlled by Power Sustainable Capital, a subsidiary of financial services firm Power Corp. of Canada. It seems Lion Electric is seeking a re

Nestlé Buys Freshly

  Paul Bulcke, Chairman, Nestlé. Photo credit:  World Economic Forum ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Food and beverages giant Nestlé has announced that it's acquired Freshly, a New York-based meal delivery startup, taking control in a $1.5 billion deal split into an upfront value of $950 million and potential earnouts of up to $550 million. The acquisition marks a big win for Freshly, which was founded only five years ago and took $107 million in outside funding. Before the acquisition, Nestlé was already an investor in Freshly, having led a $77 million round for the company that gave it a 16% stake in 2017. Other investors in Freshly who scored significant wins from its acquisition include the likes of Insight Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and Blue Ivy Ventures. Freshly is a prepared meal delivery company that caters to healthy eating for its customers. The company works on a weekly subscription model whereby fresh, chef-cooked meals that can be heated and served in as

Air Street Capital Debuts $17M Fund

  David Hegalson, Co-Founder of gaming company Unity, chipped into Air Street's new fund. Photo credit:  TeodorB ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Air Street Capital, a UK-based venture capital firm that's focused on backing startups applying artificial intelligence to various industries, has announced that it's closed a new $17 million fund from a group of investors including Unity co-founder David Helgason, Supercell co-founder Ilkka Paananen, Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean, Basecamp co-founders Robin and Saul Klein, and social media company Twitter.  Air Street's new fundraising follows a notable win when one of its portfolio companies, Mapillary, got acquired by Facebook for an undisclosed amount in June this year. Already, the venture firm has made eight investments from the newly announced fund, among them Mission Barns, a maker of plant-based meat, and drug discovery startups Anagenex and LabGenius. Out of the new fund, Air Street plans to make between 20 and 2

Conductor Nabs $150M Round

  Conductor, a Brazilian payments startup, has raised $150 million in a new round led by hedge fund Viking Global Investors, with additional participation from Sunley House Capital, a subsidiary of private equity juggernaut Advent International. The two new institutional investors join existing shareholders in Conductor including  venture capital firm Riverwood Capital and payments giant Visa. With the new round, Riverwood Capital remains a controlling shareholder in Conductor. The venture capital firm purchased the company in its entirety in 2014 and has since guided it through significant expansion. Now, Conductor is targeting a possible public listing on a US stock exchange, as noted by the company's chief executive, Antonio Soares. Conductor is a payments firm that provides banking infrastructure for other banks and fintech companies. It's itself a platform that serves as a backend for other fintech apps and services, currently powering over 85 million accounts that process

Under Armour Sells MyFitnessPal

  Photo credit: Under Armour Athletic apparel maker Under Armour has announced that it's reached a deal to sell the MyFitnessPal fitness app that it acquired in 2015 to private equity firm Francisco Partners, which is ponying up $345 million split into an upfront payment and additional potential earn-out payments to acquire the app, entailing Under Armour is taking a significant loss given it paid $475 million to acquire MyFitnessPal in 2015. Under Armour is selling MyFitnessPal as part of plans to trim its business and focus majorly on apparel sales, terming it as a deal that "affords us investment flexibility to drive greater return and value to our shareholders over the long-run." In conjunction with its sale of MyFitnessPal, Under Armour has said it'll shut down  Endomondo , a social fitness app that it acquired for $85 million the same time it bought MyFitnessPal. The sale of MyFitnessPal is expected to completed before the end of this year. Apparently, Under Arm

Daimler Bets On Luminar

  Austin Russell, CEO, Luminar. Photo credit: Collision Conf, licensed under CC BY 2.0 The Trucks division of German auto giant Daimler has announced that it's entered into a strategic partnership with Luminar, a lidar startup that's on the cusp of a public market debut via the way of a blank-check merger, and has acquired a minority stake in the company under the terms of its partnership. The exact amount Daimler invested in Luminar isn't disclosed. Under their new partnership, Daimler will work together with Luminar to develop lidar sensing and perception systems for Daimler's commercial trucks, with a goal of enabling Level 4 autonomous driving for the trucks. Daimler will initially focus on autonomous highway transit for its commercial trucks. Along with technology, Daimler and Luminar will also collaborate on autonomous driving safety standards and operating practices. Daimler's tie-up with Luminar comes just on the heels of the German automaker partnering wit

Rovio Posts Profit Jump

  Kati Levoranta, CEO, Rovio. Photo credit:  Friends of Europe ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Rovio, the Finnish video game developer best known for its Angry Birds franchise, has reported a 138% year-over-year jump third-quarter adjusted operating profit, coming at €12.8 million ($15.1 million) from €5.4 million ($6.3 million) a year earlier. Rovio was buoyed by lower marketing costs and stable revenue during the quarter. Rovio has updated its full-year outlook, stating that it expects its adjusted operating profit margin to “improve significantly” from last year’s 6.3%. Revenue for the year is expected to be slightly lower than last year’s €289.1 million ($337.5 million). Rovio continues to be held up by its most popular franchise, with revenue from the company's biggest game  Angry Birds 2 growing annually.  Small Town Murders , its newest game which was released in June this year is gaining momentum and has been localized to 10 new languages. This year would mark the last

Ant IPO Draws $3T Demand

  Jack Ma, Founder, Ant Group. Photo credit:  World Economic Forum ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 The imminent initial public offering of Chinese fintech giant Ant Group has drawn a record of roughly $3 trillion in retail investor demand, the majority of that amount, $2.8 trillion, coming from China while $168 billion came from Hong Kong. In contrast, Ant is seeking to raise $34.4 billion split between Shanghai's STAR Market and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, meaning investors are vying for multiple times the amount of shares available in Ant's IPO.  Ahead of its IPO, Ant has allocated the majority of its available shares to strategic investors while leaving relatively little space for retail investors to fight it out. In figures, retail investors are bidding for 872 times the number of shares earmarked for them in Shanghai, as indicated by a filing from Ant.  Ant, best known for its Alipay mobile payments app, is the biggest fintech company in China and has a very strong bu

Intel Buys SigOpt

Bob Swan, CEO, Intel. Photo credit: Stuart Isett for Fortune Magazine, licensed under Creative Commons Chip giant Intel has announced that it's acquiring SigOpt, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence startup whose platform is used to test and optimize AI software models. Intel plans to integrate SigOpt's software into its AI hardware products following completion of the acquisition, as noted in a press statement. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. SigOpt was founded in 2014 by the duo of Scott Clark, who built up the framework for the company while working at Yelp, and Patrick Hayes, a software engineer who had previous stints at BlackBerry, Bloomberg, Facebook, and Foursquare. Clark began working on what would become SigOpt's product after completing a Ph.D. at Cornell University and holding a job at Yelp. SigOpt raised a total of $8.7 million in known outside funding. The company's backers include major names like Y Combinator, Andreess

Polestar Seeks $500M Round

  Photo credit: Polestar Polestar, the electric carmaker controlled by Swedish automaker Volvo and China's Geely, is in talks with investors to raise at least $500 million of outside funding and is seeking a valuation of about $6 billion, according to a report [paywalled] by Bloomberg that if certain would mark the first time Polestar is seeking outside funding under the stewardship of Volvo and Geely.  Polestar began producing electric cars in 2017 and has debuted two cars since that time, the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 . The company has had relatively strong sales and has set a formal goal of reaching annual sales of 50,000+ within the next 2 to 3 years.  The Polestar 2, which is the company's first fully electric vehicle, started production at a Geely manufacturing facility in China in March this year. Just last month September, the company said it would put another car, the Polestar Precept , into production. Despite being controlled by two deep-pocketed automakers, it see

Apple Reports Lower China Sales

  Tech giant Apple has posted its financial results for the most recent quarter of this year which is the company's fourth fiscal quarter, showing record quarterly revenue of $64.7 billion and $12.7 billion in net income. Although Apple saw its sales rise in all other regions, China marked an exception, with sales in the country dropping nearly 30% year-over-year to $7.9 billion, largely driven by a drop in the demand for iPhones. Generally, iPhone sales were down year-over-year from $33.4 billion to $26.4 billion even as sales in other categories like the iPad, Mac, and Wearables grew by double-digit percentages. Apple, however, is looking to make up for the sales drop with the recently unveiled iPhone 12 which the company says has been well received. Overall, Apple seems to have fared well despite a Covid-19 pandemic that significantly affected its business and particularly in China, where the company had to shut down all of its stores for over a month in the early stages of the

Ant IPO Snags Big Wins For Backers

  Henry Kravis, Co-CEO, KKR. Photo credit:  fortuneglobalforum ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The imminent initial public offering of Chinese fintech giant Ant Group is set to clinch big profits for many of its outside backers who got a single chance to invest in the company just two years ago, among them big-names including Singapore's GIC and Temasek Holdings, Carlyle Group, Warburg Pincus, Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional, and individual investors such as Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and Henry Kravis, the Co-CEO of private equity juggernaut KKR. Since its founding, Ant only raised outside funding once when it secured $10 billion from a host of investors in 2018 at a valuation of $150 billion. Now, with Ant's targeted IPO valuation hovering at $310 billion, it seems that the company's backers could be doubling the value of their investments after just two years. In 2018 when Ant raised $10 billion, foreign backers including the sovereign wealth funds of Singapore and

Hermeus Nabs $16M Series A

  Photo credit: Hermeus Corp Hermeus, an Atlanta-based startup that's aiming to develop Mach 5 aircraft, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by venture capital firm Canaan Partners, with participation from existing investors Khosla Ventures, Bling Capital, and Steve Case's Revolution's Rise of the Rest Fund.  The fundraising follows a recent contract awarded to Hermeus by the United States Air Force to develop a possible hypersonic 'Air Force One' aircraft for presidential travel. In February this year, Hermeus successfully tested a prototype engine for its proposed hypersonic aircraft and is now looking to conduct a test for a scaled-up version of the engine. The company has a facility in the city of Atlanta that caters to light in-house manufacturing and testing. Still in a prototyping phase, Hermeus hasn't yet produced a set design for its proposed hypersonic aircraft. The company says it expects to take around a decade of development before a work

Honor Scores $140M Round

  Seth Sternberg, Co-founder and CEO of Honor. Photo credit:   loiclemeur ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Honor, a home care startup, has raised $140 million in Series D funding led by Baillie Gifford and T. Rowe Price, with participation from the likes of 8VC, Thrive Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and Prosus Ventures. The latest round of funding brings the total amount of outside investment secured by Honor since its founding in 2014 to $255 million. The valuation that came with the round wasn't disclosed. Honor says it'll use its new capital to fund expansion across the US. The new fundraising particularly comes at a time of heightened demand for home care services in the US due to the coronavirus pandemic. Honor's flagship business is what's known as the 'Honor Care Network', through which the company partners with existing home care outlets and takes over back-office hassles like recruiting, scheduling, and payroll. Honor provides a large pool of vetted home car

Stars Pile On THC Beverage Brand

  Casey Neitstat. Photo credit:   nrkbeta ,  licensed under  CC BY-SA 2.0 Cann, a Los Angeles-based startup that makes cannabis-infused soda beverages, has drawn investments from a star-studded group that includes actresses Rebel Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ruby Rose, actor Daren Criss, pro basketballer Baron Davis, entrepreneur Casey Neistat, and musicians Tove Lo and Bre-Z. The exact amount of funding that came from the aforementioned celebrities isn't disclosed. The celebrities who provided the new funding for Cann aren't just investors but also brand partners that'll help promote the company's business. Since its launch just last year, Cann has sold over 2 million cans of cannabis-infused beverages, making it one of the fastest-growing cannabis brands in history. According to research firm BDS Analytics , Cann is the number one selling thc-infused beverage in the state of California. Cann is currently available in three states, California, Nevada, and Rhode Island. It&

GetYourGuide Scores $134M Round

  Johannes Reck, Co-founder and CEO of GetYourGuide. Photo credit:  "TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019 - Day 2"   by  TechCrunch  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0 GetYourGuide, the German travel booking platform, has announced that it's raised €114 million ($134 million) in convertible note financing led by private equity firm Searchlight Capital, with participation from a group of existing investors including Battery Ventures, KKR, SoftBank Vision Fund, and Spark Capital. Executives from the company also chipped into the funding round, which comes at a time GetYourGuide is facing business hassles due to a steep decrease in travel activity amid a pandemic. Convertible note financing entails initial debt that can later be converted into equity in a company. With the new financing, GetYourGuide has now raised a total of nearly $800 million in outside funding. The company's most recent financing before now was a $484 million Series E that raised its valuation above the $1 billi

WeWork Eyes IPO Yet Again

  Office rental company WeWork is on track to turn profitable next year and will then reconsider plans for an initial public offering, according to the company's CEO Sandeep Mathrani, who took over to stabilize WeWork's business after turmoils that led to the ouster of its founder and former chief executive Adam Neumann. Speaking to a group of reporters in India on Wednesday, Mathrani said WeWork's business is rebounding "100%" in certain Asian markets and is on track to reach profitability by 2021. “I’m a big believer in one step at a time so let’s hit profitable growth first, and we’ll then revisit the IPO plan,” he said over a Zoom video conference call from New York. In the case of an IPO, all of WeWork's units and franchises around the globe will roll into a single parent company as per existing agreements, according to Mathrani.  Mathrani, a veteran of the real estate industry, isn't new to turning around companies. In his previous role, he guided Ge

Marvell Nears Inphi Buy

  Semiconductor giant Marvell Technology is on the cusp of a deal to acquire its publicly-traded rival Inphi, according to a report [paywalled] by the Wall Street Journal . According to the Journal, Marvell is coughing up as much as $10 billion to acquire Inphi, which currently (as of writing) has a market capitalization hovering around $5.8 billion. Marvell itself has a market value of roughly $26 billion and will presumably make use of its shares to finance a significant portion of its reported Inphi acquisition. Marvell's reported bid for Inphi comes just on the heels of another chip giant, AMD clinching a $35 billion deal to acquire rival Xilinx. It seems the chip industry is in the season of mergers and acquisitions, fueled by surging demand for laptops and videogames as well as growth in data center operations as a pandemic pushes many people towards more online activity. Thanks to high demand and, in turn, higher revenues, the share prices of chip giants in the US have soa

Krafton Hires Banks For IPO

  Chang Byung-gyu, Founder and CEO, Krafton. Photo credit:  Official page of the Republic of Korea ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Krafton, the South Korean gaming company behind hit game PUBG , has said it has hired Korean investment bank Mirae Asset Daewoo to lead a public offering that's planned for next year. Along with Mirae, Krafton has also hired foreign banks Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup to help arrange a public offering that could mark South Korea's largest-ever such offering. According to local media reports, Krafton could sell up to $9 billion in stock in its IPO and could see a valuation hitting about $26 billion, based on the public trading multiples for fellow Korean gaming companies Netmarble and NCSoft. Before now, the largest IPO in South Korea was the $6 billion debut of telecoms giant KT Corp back in 1998. Krafton, backed by strong revenue from its hit title PUBG, has long been considered as an IPO candidate. Now as a private company, it&#3

Pinterest Posts Strong Q3 Results

  Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest. Photo credit:  TechCrunch ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Social bookmarking app Pinterest has posted its financial results for the third quarter of this year, showing revenue of $442.6 million, up 58% year-over-year, as advertising spend rebounds following a steep decline in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. For comparison, Pinterest reported $274.5 million in revenue in this year's second quarter and marked a yearly growth of just 4%. During the third quarter, Pinterest incurred a net loss of $94 million, slightly down from $101 million in the preceding quarter. The company's monthly active users count grew 37% to 442 million during the quarter. Posting strong revenues, Pinterest's stock shot up 15% during extended trading on Wednesday. For the next quarter, Pinterest projects a 60% year-over-year revenue growth.

Qualtrics CEO Buys An NBA Team

  Ryan Smith, CEO, Qualtrics.  Photo credit:  Fortune Conferences ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Ryan Smith, an entrepreneur who built survey software company Qualtrics from the ground up and sold it to German software giant SAP for a steep price of $8 billion last year, has reached a deal to buy up a majority stake in the Utah Jazz, a US pro basketball team. ESPN reports the value of the acquisition deal as roughly $1.7 billion.  Smith is purchasing the Utah Jazz from the Miller family, the NBA team's long-time owners who have controlled it for more than three decades. Even before now, he has long been associated with the Utah Jazz, being a native of Utah, the state where his company Qualtrics has long been based in. Qualtrics has been a major Utah Jazz sponsor and has a current deal with the club that runs through 2023. Smith is joining a sizeable cohort of technology moguls who hold stakes in professional sports teams. That cohort includes Robert Pera of Ubiquiti Networks

Coinbase Launches US Debit Card

  Photo credit: Marco Verch, licensed under  Creative Commons Cryptocurrency company Coinbase is launching its Visa debit card in the US that'll allow its customers to use cryptocurrency for payments and purchase online and in-store as well as for ATM cash withdrawals. As to that, a US waitlist has been made available for the Coinbase Card, which before now had already rolled out to over 20 countries in Europe.  The Coinbase Card pulls funds directly from a user's Coinbase account and supports nine currencies. Already, there are a number of debit cards that allow people to spend cryptocurrency but with many of them requiring fiat funds to be loaded to the card before use. The Coinbase Card eliminates that issue by linking directly to a customer's accounts, wherein all transactions are converted to dollars before execution. In the US, Coinbase is debuting rewards programs for its crypto card. The card as expected will be linked to the Coinbase app to enable users to keep tra

DoubleVerify Lands $350M Round

  DoubleVerify, an advertising analytics company, has secured $350 million in outside funding from a group of investors led by Tiger Global, with participation from Fidelity and BlackRock. The new round is a mix of equity and secondary funding, wherein a part of it is being used to purchase shares from existing investors.  Even with the funding, DoubleVerify remains majority-owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm that purchased a majority stake in the company in 2017 for a reported $200 million. DoubleVerify is an advertisement analytics platform that's used by advertisers, brands, publishers and the likes to measure advertising effectiveness and insights. It's used by advertisers to optimize the quality and return on their digital advertising investments. DoubleVerify as a company was founded in 2008 and exited to a private equity firm nine years later. Before is majority-sale to Providence Equity Partners, the company had raised about $50 million in fundin

Whoop Scores $100M Round

  Will Ahmed, Founder and CEO, Whoop.  Photo credit:  Fortunebrainstormhealth ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Whoop, a company that makes fitness tracking devices, has raised $100 million in Series E funding that places its valuation at $1.2 billion. The funding came from a group of investors including IVP, the SoftBank Vision Fund, Nextview Ventures, Accomplice, and Two Sigma Ventures as well as individual investors including sports stars Kevin Durant (NBA), Eli Manning (NFL), and golfer Rory McIlroy. IVP was the lead investor. With the new funding, Whoop has now raised over $200 million in equity financing to date. The new round follows what Whoop says was a period of 'tremendous' growth wherein it's seen its membership and sales soar. The company will use its new capital to maintain its growth, with global expansion on its sights.  Whoop makes fitness trackers that can monitor vitals such as sleep, movement, and workouts. The company's flagship fitness tracker has

Scopely Scores $340M Round

Mobile games developer Scopely has raised $340 million in Series E funding from a group of investors including well-known names like Wellington Management, BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, Revolution Growth, D1 Capital, and Battery Ventures. Altogether, 15 institutional investors chipped into the funding round, which now brings the total amount of financing raised by Scopely since its founding to about $1 billion. The new round is said to place Scopely's valuation at $3.3 billion, almost doubling a $1.7 billion valuation from the company's last funding round before now. Scopely says it'll use the new funding to bolster its business and support its pursuit of acquisitions as a strategic method of expansion. Scopely, which was founded in 2011, is a major mobile games developer, with hit titles including  The Walking Dead: Road To Survival , WWE Champions , Looney Tunes World of Mayhem , and MARVEL Strike Force . Currently, the company employs nearly 1,000 people across offices and

Outrider Lands $65M Round

  Photo credit: Outrider Outrider, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for managing autonomous vehicle fleets, has announced that it's raised $65 million in Series B funding led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, the investment arm of conglomerate Koch Industries, with participation from existing investors including Evolv Ventures, the investment arm of Kraft Heinz, and Henry Crown and Company. With the new fundraise, Outrider has now raised a total of $118 million in outside funding since its inception. The new funding for Outrider comes on the heels of the company announcing its seed and Series A financings in early this year. Backed by external funding, Outrider has expanded its customer base as of late and has grown to more than 110 employees. The company is based out of the city of Golden, Colorado. Outrider is a logistics platform that handles autonomous yard operations at logistics facilities such as warehouses, distribution centers, and rail yards. The company's platf

DOJ Probes Visa's Plaid Buy

Zach Perret, CEO & Co-founder, Plaid. Photo credit: Harry Murphy/Web Summit via Sportsfile, licensed under Creative Commons The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is scrutinizing payments giant Visa's $5.3 billion acquisition of fintech company Plaid and could decide soon whether it'll sue to block the acquisition over antitrust concerns, according to a report [paywalled] from the Wall Street Journal . According to the Journal, the US Justice Department has been making preparations for possible litigation over concerns that Visa's acquisition of Plaid could limit growing competition in the payments sector. Tied-up in potential litigation between the DOJ and Visa is the famous management consulting firm Bain & Company, which the DOJ has filed a petition against to respond to interrogations and produce documentary material related to its work on Visa's proposed acquisition of Plaid. For context, Plaid is a data transfer network that powers fintech and digi

Apple Snaps Up Vinlyx

Tim Cook, CEO, Apple.  Photo credit:  Fortune Photo , licensed under Creative Commons Technology giant Apple has acquired Vilynx, a Barcelona-based artificial intelligence and computer vision startup, coughing up $50 million for the company, according to a report [paywalled] by Bloomberg . Apple usually keeps its acquisitions tight-lipped so it's no surprise that no formal announcement was provided by the company.  Vilynx, which is headquartered in the Spanish city of Barcelona, builds software that utilizes artificial intelligence techniques to analyze video content to understand to what the video shows. Its technology is used to create tags for videos to make them easily searchable. As a result of the acquisition, around 50 engineers and data scientists from Vilynx have become Apple employees and with Vilynx's office morphing into an European research hub for Apple. The reported $50 million acquisition price marks a significant win for Vilynx, which as a privately-held start

JPMorgan Creates Blockchain Unit

  Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase. Photo credit:  World Economic Forum ,  licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Financial services giant JPMorgan Chase has set up a new division to house its blockchain and digital currency's business, as made known by Takis Georgakopoulos, the bank’s global head of wholesale payments. The new unit is called Onyx and is the division responsible for the operation of JPMorgan's first digital currency, JPM Coin, which is being used commercially for the first time this week by an unnamed technology client to send payments around the globe. The creation of a formal blockchain division signals JPMorgan increasingly bolstering its presence in the digital currency market. JPMorgan, once seemingly averse to the digital currency market, has turned the tides to do significant work in the market. Notably, in May, the banking giant signed up Bitcoin exchanges Coinbase and Gemini as its first digital currency customers.  In the usual financial world, JPMorgan st

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Deal: Mindbody Buys Fitness Startup ClassPass

Mindbody , a leading maker of software for managing gyms and fitness studios, is buying one of the hot startups in its industry. It's buying ClassPass , a popular subscription platform for widespread gym access and online fitness classes. Mindbody will buy Classpass for an undisclosed amount . The company, owned by private equity firm Vista, also announced a strategic $500mn investment along with its ClassPass deal. The acquisition was all with privately held shares, Mindbody said. ClassPass is a celebrated startup in the fitness space. It began as a simple website to book fitness classes with registered studios but morphed into a subscription platform for access to such studios and their fitness classes, with many users paying recurring fees as a steady revenue source.  ClassPass was valued at $1bn from a funding round last year. Given the acquisition's pricing terms weren't disclosed, we can't say for sure if it was higher or lower than the $1bn mark, but for a hint,

Tether Fined $41M For Lying About Fiat Reserves

Tether Limited , the organization behind the eponymous Tether (USDT) stablecoin, has been fined a substantial sum for lying about the fiat reserves backing its stablecoin. It was fined $41mn by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the CFTC's press release , Tether lied to customers that it had sufficient dollar reserves to back every issued USDT token whereas it did not for a long period of time. Over a 26-month sample period from 2016 through 2018, the CFTC said Tether only had sufficient dollar reserves for all its tokens 28% of the time, whereas it lied that it was "fully-backed" all the time. Also, the CFTC said Tether failed to disclose to customers that it had unsecured receivables and non-fiat assets in its supposed cash reserves. The organization further lied to customers that it would undergo routine, professional audits of its reserves but has failed to do any, the CFTC said. For its violations, the CFTC fined ordered Tether to pay a

Deal: Scopely Buys Sony's GSN Games For $1B

Scopely , a top-ranking mobile gaming startup, is expanding its business with a new major acquisition. It's buying GSN Games , a mobile gaming division of entertainment giant Sony, for the sum of $1bn. GSN Games makes popular social casino games such as Bingo Bash and  Solitaire TriPeaks . Social casino games are a genre where gaming studios can extract much revenue if they do it right, and GSN is one of the top contenders in the genre. Scopely will pay $1bn for GSN Games, half of it with cash and the other half with its shares, making Sony a minority shareholder in the mobile gaming company. It's said that Scopely's valuation has climbed to $5.4bn taking into account the shares it'll hand over to Sony as payment. That compares to a $3.3bn valuation when the company raised funding last year.  With GSN, Scopely is stepping up its business substantially by the way of a strategic acquisition. It's a strategy the mobile gaming startup is used to, having made 5 acqui

Microsoft CEO, Other Execs Bag Annual Pay Raises

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Deal: Instacart Pays $350M For A Smart Grocery Cart Startup

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Apple Unveils New MacBook Pros, AirPods

Tech giant Apple has added a new set of products to its roster, including new MacBook Pro laptops and AirPods unveiled at a Tuesday online event.  Apple also unveiled new chipsets for the new MacBook Pros, the M1 Pro and M1 Max . MacBook Pros Apple unveiled two MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and 16-inch model. Both will come with the first chipsets designed by Apple specifically for a MacBook Pro, delivering high performance, expectedly.  Apple has brought back the HDMI port and SD card reader to the new MacBook Pro, in addition to three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect peripherals. Removing the HDMI port and SD card reader in MacBooks had generated significant complaints by some Apple users, but it appears they'll be pleased again if they get the new MacBook Pros. Other shared features of the new MacBook Pros include; A 1080p front camera. MagSafe magnetic chargers. Six-speaker sound system. Fast charging - 50% charge in 30 minutes, Apple claims. Touch bar replaced by function keys. One

Deal: Australia's Aristocrat To Buy Playtech For $3.7B

The online gambling industry is hot this year, with billion-dollar deals now a frequent occurrence. The latest billion-dollar deal is Playtech , a London-listed online gambling company, selling to Aristocrat Leisure , an Australian gambling machine manufacturer. Playtech was founded in 1999 by Israeli entrepreneur Teddy Sagi . However, he sold off all his shares  in the company in 2018 and won't profit from this deal. Don't cry for him though, he made other shrewd investments that bestowed him with a net worth nearing $6bn ( Forbes estimate ). Aristocrat (ASX: ALL) has agreed to buy Playtech (LON: PTEC) in a deal worth £2.7bn ($3.7bn). The Australian firm will pay $2.9bn to buy all outstanding Playtech shares and assume $800mn of the firm's debt. It's paying 680 pence in cash per Playtech share, a 58% premium to the company's share price before the announcement. Following the announcement, Playtech's share price jerked up, expectedly. It rose 57% on Monday to

Fast Fashion E-Tailer Lulu's Files For IPO

Lulu's , an online retailer of women's apparel, is headed towards the public markets. It's filed an S-1 document for an initial public offering (IPO), showing its intent to list on the Nasdaq exchange. As expected from S-1 filings, Lulu's has provided great insights into its business, with information not publicly disclosed before. Something very noteworthy is that the online shopping boom of this year emanating from the Covid pandemic has largely favored the company. By The Numbers For its most recent fiscal quarter, the three months ended October 3, 2021, Lulu's brought in between $105mn to $106mn in revenue. Its net income for the same period was at the $3mn-$4mn mark. The estimations are because the final, audited results haven't yet been posted. For the fiscal year ended January 3, 2021, Lulu's posted $249mn in revenue and a net loss of $19mn. It shows that the company has swung from losses to profitability this year, with the net profit of between $3m

Antitrust: Facebook Fined $70M Over Giphy Takeover Probe

The UK's antitrust agency has levied a substantial fine on social media giant Facebook related to its acquisition of Giphy , the popular GIF website. It fined the company  £50.5mn ($69mn) for flouting an order requiring it to supply information related to the agency's investigation of the $400mn acquisition. The UK's  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)  launched a  formal probe  of the Giphy deal last June. The antitrust agency challenged the deal  after probing it,  arguing that it gave Facebook an unfair advantage over rivals that also used Giphy's GIF database. It appears that Facebook failed to comply with demands from the agency's investigation and has been penalized for it. Apparently, the UK's antitrust agency required Facebook to suspend integrating its operations with Giphy's as the agency was investigating the acquisition, but Facebook had failed to indicate it did so despite multiple warnings. "This should serve as a warning to any com

Deal: Walgreens Invests $5.2B In VillageMD, Now Majority Owner

Walgreens Boots Alliance , the giant American pharmacy chain, is doubling down on its investment in one of its healthcare peers; the primary care chain VillageMD . After a previous investment last year, Walgreens is investing an additional sum in VillageMD that'll make it the primary care chain's majority owner. Walgreens has agreed to invest $5.2bn in VillageMD, upping its stake from 30% to 63%. It'll become the primary care chain's majority owner and guide it under its belt to open hundreds of primary care clinics co-located with Walgreens drugstores across the US. The investment is really strategic, giving Walgreens majority ownership in the firm that'll operate most of the primary care clinics attached to its stores. We can refer to it as "full-stack healthcare", where you visit a Walgreens-owned clinic and get prescriptions to buy drugs at a Walgreens pharmacy, though we're aware not everyone is comfortable with one company having that much cont