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Showing posts from December, 2020

Ticketmaster Pays $10M Fine For Hacking Rival

The ticket sales and distribution company Ticketmaster has agreed to pay a $10 million fine to resolve charges of hacking the computer systems of a rival online ticketing service. The company is paying the fine to settle and avoid prosecution for a five-count charge encompassing computer intrusion and fraud offenses, a statement from the US Department of Justice (DOJ)  indicates. The fine originates from allegations of Ticketmaster gaining illegal access to the systems and inner workings of one of its rivals, CrowdSurge (which had merged with a similar company named Songkick and later took up its name).  The US Justice Department indicted Ticketmaster for accessing CrowdSurge's computers using stolen passwords in order to get access to proprietary information, and also sifting out for restricted CrowdSurge webpages to gain access to proprietary information on its customers and then working to poach them. CrowdSurge was an online ticketing seller that focused on presale tickets and

Peloton Rival Icon Said To Eye 2021 IPO

The fitness equipment company Icon Health, best known for its NordicTrack brand of exercise equipment, is aiming for initial public offering (IPO) next year and has asked banks to pitch for roles in its offering, Business Insider reports , citing two unnamed sources. Icon Health is a well-established privately-held company so it wouldn't be surprising that it's aiming for an exit on the public markets. The Utah-based company, owning well-known brands such as NordicTrack, ProForm, and iFit, posted over $1 billion in revenue in the 12 months through September 2020, the company says. Icon Health was valued at $7 billion after a $200 million investment led by the private equity firm L Catterton this October. Altogether, the company has raised about $400 million in outside funding. An IPO for Icon Health would definetly be iconic, given that Icon has been a private company in its over 4 decades of existence. The Utah-based company is one of the biggest fitness equipment makers bot

Amazon Buys Podcast Network Wondery

Corroborating a recent report of the e-commerce and tech giant Amazon looking to acquire the podcast network Wondery, the company has confirmed that it's reached a deal to buy Wondery to join its Amazon Music brand. The price Amazon is paying for Wondery isn't disclosed but previous rumors had placed it at up to $300 million. With Wondery, Amazon aims to strengthen its nascent podcast service that it just launched on Amazon Music this September. Wondery produces dozens of popular podcasts listened to by millions of persons such as “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “Business Wars”. Even after being acquired by Amazon, Wondery's podcasts will continue to be published on other platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcast, and the company's own app Wondery+. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal , Wondery's CEO, Hernan Lopez, will step down and hand over his role to COO Jen Sargent  after Amazon completes its purchase of the company. The move seems related to Lo

Ree Automotive Shoots For SPAC Deal: Report

Ree Automotive, an Israeli startup developing modular platforms for electric vehicles, has commenced negotiations to list on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the Israeli news site  Calcalist Tech reports . According to Calcalist Tech, Ree Automotive, widely referred to as Ree, has held ongoing merger talks for the past three months with an unnamed SPAC. Although not confirmed, it wouldn't be surprising if Ree reaches a deal to list on the Nasdaq through a merger with a SPAC given that many electric vehicle startups of its kind have sought that route. The EV company is said to be targeting a valuation of between $3 billion to $4 billion on the public markets. Ree is a Tel Aviv-based company that's developing modular base platforms for electric vehicles, such as the one pictured at the beginning of this article. The company has secured production partnerships with a handful of automotive companies such as Iochpe-Maxion

SimilarWeb Aiming For 2021 IPO: Report

The web analytics company SimilarWeb is aiming for a public listing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange next year, joining a handful of Israeli technology companies of its kind that are aiming for imminent IPOs, the Israel-focused news site   CTech reports , citing an unnamed source. According to CTech, the investment bank JP Morgan is expected to lead a public offering for SimilarWeb at a targeted valuation of $2 billion. SimilarWeb is one of the biggest and best-known Israeli technology companies. It's a popular web analytics service that's adopted by businesses, providing key traffic and demographics stats on both clients' and their competitors' web properties. Founded in 2007 by the entrepreneur Or Offer, SimilarWeb has over the years raised some $235 million in venture funding from investors including Prosus & Naspers, Saban Ventures, Viola Growth, and ION Crossover Partners. With reports of SimilarWeb aiming for an IPO next year, it's seemingly joined a handful

UK Approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine

The UK government has issued emergency use authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and researchers from Oxford University, two institutions notably based right there in the UK. The approval was announced by AstraZeneca on Wednesday. The approval for AstraZeneca's vaccine makes it the third pharmaceutical company to gain authorization from the UK government to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, after the American companies Pfizer and Moderna. With AstraZeneca and Oxford University both based in the UK, the country will likely benefit more from their Covid-19 vaccine thanks to proximity, wherein AstraZeneca has committed to supply up to 100 million doses in the country.  AstraZeneca conducted trials for its vaccine and posted an efficacy rate of 70% from its trials last month. The company has now been authorized to distribute vaccines to be administered on individuals 18 years or older, with a recommended two-shot dosage to be a

VMware Sues Ex-COO Who's Now Nutanix's CEO

The cloud software giant VMware has filed a lawsuit against Rajiv Ramaswami, its former Chief Operating Officer (COO) who took up the job of CEO at a competing cloud company, Nutanix, just this December. VMware has filed a suit in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara, against Ramaswami, alleging "material and ongoing breaches of his legal and contractual duties and obligations to VMware." VMware claims that Ramaswami secretly met with executives and board members of Nutanix in preparations to take up the job of CEO for "at least two months" before he left VMware and at the same period wherein he worked to shape VMware's strategic direction. VMware says that Ramaswami didn't disclose his meeting with Nutanix executives and board members which posed a conflict of interest given that Nutanix is a rival to VMware. "Mr. Ramaswami demonstrated poor judgement and had a clear and extended period of conflict of interest," VMw

DNA Testing Startup 23andMe Nabs $83M Round

The DNA testing startup 23andMe has closed $82.5 million in a new fundraise, as indicated by filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company sought out to close an $85 million round and has already check-marked $82.5 million out of that amount, with only $2.5 million remaining. Reports indicate that the new funding was led by the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and NewView Capital. Sequoia was already a significant investor in 23andMe prior to the new round, having led a $250 million round of funding for the company three years ago. 23andMe offers genetic testing kits to consumers who spit into a tube, send the kits back to the company and then get and get data concerning their ancestry and health background. In recent years, precisely circa 2018, 23andMe enjoyed peak sales from the sale of DNA testing kits to consumers and reportedly generated $475 million in revenue in 2018. Circa 2020, however, the sales of consumer test kits have slowed and led 23an

NFL Star Takes Salary In Bitcoin

Russell Okung, an American football player for the NFL team Carolina Panthers, has become the first major athlete in the US to take payments in Bitcoin, with half of his $13 million annual haul now agreed to be paid with the cryptocurrency, as revealed by NFL sportswriter Ian Rapoport and then confirmed by Okung himself. Half of Okung's $13 million annual pay translates to $6.5 million and will be converted to bitcoin with Strike, a crypto payments app made by a startup named Zap.  Okung has for quite long been a promoter of cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, with tweets dating back months ago in support of the digital currency. Now, he's becoming the first major sports athlete known to take payments with the currency.  Okung's move to begin accepting payments in bitcoin adds to a series of achievements and promotions for the cryptocurrency, which has this year surged more than 270% and now trades at an all-time high of over $28,000 for a bitcoin. Okung signed a $53 mi

AI Chipmaker Graphcore Nabs $222M Round

Graphcore, a British startup that develops artificial intelligence chips, has raised $222 million in a Series E funding round that values the company at $2.77 billion post-money.  The new funding round boosts the total amount of funding raised by Graphcore to over $710 million and boosts its valuation from $2 billion when it raised funding in February this year now to roughly $2.8 billion. The new round was led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, with participation from Fidelity, Schroders, Draper Esprit, and Baillie Gifford. With the new round, Graphcore says it expects to have over $440 million of cash on hand to support its future growth. Developing a new type of microprocessor specifically designed to support artificial intelligence workloads, Graphcore is aiming for global expansion and bigger investments in research and development. Graphcore was notably founded by two serial entrepreneurs, Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles, who sold their previous chip company, Icera, to

Pluralsight Investor Fights Vista Takeover

An investor in the online education company Pluralsight is fighting the proposed $3.5 billion takeover of the company by the tech-focused private equity firm Vista Equity Partners and also urging other shareholders to do so. Akaris Global Partners, a New York-based investment firm with a 1% stake in Pluralsight, is asserting that Vista's $3.5 billion price for Pluralsight "significantly undervalues" the company. It's sent a public letter to Pluralsight's board informing the company of its opposition and says it intends to vote against Vista's acquisition offer. With only a 1% stake, Akaris's opposition to Pluralsight's takeover doesn't pull much weight and isn't enough to block the deal. To that, the investment firm is seeking other shareholders to join in its opposition. Vista's proposal to buy Pluralsight has already been approved by the shareholders with the majority of voting rights, but it requires further approval from the majority

Mytheresa Files For IPO

Following the submission of a confidential filing last month, the German online luxury retailer Mytheresa has filed for a public listing in the US, with a public S-1 filing made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As it's based outside the US, Mytheresa will offer American Depositary Shares to US-based investors, with the size of its public offering yet to be determined. Mytheresa is owned by the American luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, which went through whirlwinds this year as the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected retail businesses. The retail chain went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy but emerged with one of the biggest restructurings ever witnessed in the American retail industry. Neiman Marcus bought Mytheresa in 2014 for over $250 million and is apparently now looking to cash in on its investment, said to be targeting a valuation of up to $1.5 billion from Mytheresa's IPO. Mytheresa's S-1 filing shows a net income of 9.6 million euros ($11

China's Zhangmen Eyes US IPO

Zhangmen, an online education company based in China, is considering a public listing in the US that'll raise up to $300 million and has held talks with potential advisers on a share sale, Bloomberg reports . Zhangmen is a popular online tutoring service in China that has more than 60 million registered members, the company says. It started in 2005 with a focus on afterschool learning in classrooms but in 2014 shifted focus to online one-on-one tutoring for Chinese students from as young as elementary to as old as high school students.  Zhangmen is well-funded, backed by over $500 million in venture funding from investors including the likes of Shunwei Capital, Fortune Venture Capital, Genesis Capital, and the American private equity firm Warburg Pincus. With a host of venture backers and over half-a-billion dollars in funding, it's not startling that Zhangmen is reportedly heading towards an exit on the public markets. Zhangmen is one of the biggest online education companie

Coinbase Suspends XRP Trading

The popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has said that it'll suspend trading of the XRP digital currency following a lawsuit brought against its parent company, Ripple , by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  Coinbase has limited XRP trading for its users beginning on Monday, the 28th of December 2020, and will fully suspend its trading on the 19th of January, 2020. The company says the trading suspension won't affect customers' access to XRP wallets and custodian services, whereby only trading of the currency between parties will be halted. The company behind XRP, Ripple, is facing a lawsuit from the SEC that asserts that XRP is a security rather than a digital currency and alleges that the company along with its two top executives, CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Chairman Chris Larsen, sold nearly $2 billion worth of XRP without adhering to required securities laws. The lawsuit from the SEC centers on if XRP is to be treated as a security rather than a digita

Qualtrics Files To Go Public

Qualtrics, the survey software company that SAP purchased for $8 billion in 2018 and announced its intention to take public earlier this year, has now filed for a public listing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Notably, Qualtrics is seeking to complete a milestone that was previously on the verge of completion before SAP swooped in to acquire the company. Qualtrics was looking to go public and had already filed for a listing before SAP brought in an unbeatable acquisition offer and successfully purchased the company. Now, just two years after buying Qualtrics, SAP is looking to take the company public, selling shares to outside investors while it retains majority control. As Qualtrics is set to go public, its co-founder and current CEO Ryan Smith as well as the tech-focused private equity firm Silver Lake will buy significant stakes in the company and be the anchor shareholders alongside SAP. Qualtrics' S-1 filing  shows $430 million in revenue in all of 2019

China's Zuoyebang Scores $1.6B Round

Zuoyebang, a Chinese online education startup, has raised a fresh $1.6 billion funding round led by the e-commerce giant Alibaba and the American investment firm Tiger Global. The round tops up a $750 million round that Zuoyebang closed just in June this year. With the new funding round, Zuoyebang has now raised a total of around $3.4 billion in funding since its inception. The valuation that came with the new round isn't disclosed, but for a tip, Zuoyebang was valued at $15.5 billion from a funding round it closed earlier this year. Zuoyebang is a widely-used online education and tutoring app in China and has seen a large usage surge as a Covid-19 pandemic this year led to unprecedented demand for online education services. As such, Zuoyebang has taken advantage of the booming market to raise more funding for its expansion. Zuoyebang is notably a spinoff of the Chinese search engine giant Baidu. It was founded five years ago and has since then soared to have over 170 million month

Delivery Hero To Sell South Korean Unit

The European food delivery giant Delivery Hero has agreed to sell its food delivery unit in South Korea under the terms of its agreement with the country's antitrust agency to complete its $4 billion deal to acquire Woowa, the biggest food delivery app in South Korea. South Korea's antitrust watchdog has ordered Delivery Hero to sell its own South Korean unit, which is the second-largest food delivery app in the country after Woowa, in order to complete its proposed acquisition of Woowa. Obviously, the order is in line with antitrust action, with South Korean regulators apparently not wanting Delivery Hero to excessively dominate its food delivery industry. If Korean regulators hadn't demanded Delivery Hero to sell its Korean unit, the company would have gotten hold of Woowa, which is the biggest player in the country's food delivery market, plus its own big delivery operations in the country and largely dominated the market. In a blog post , Delivery Hero has said tha

China Urges Ant Group To Refocus Business

After halting its planned public offering  last month, Chinese authorities have requested that the local fintech giant Ant Group refocuses its business back to its roots as a provider of online payments services, a request that threatens Ant's growth in its most lucrative areas of consumer lending and wealth management.  The requests to refocus and "rectify" its business was revealed in a statement by the central People’s Bank of China on Sunday. It's apparent that Chinese authorities are requesting that Ant returns and refocuses on its roots as an online payments provider, an area in which it started in and dominated before branching out into other areas such as consumer lending, wealth management, and insurance. Ant's expansion into other areas saw the company grow very big and dominate the Chinese market, wherein it was poised to hold what would have marked the world's biggest IPO this year before Chinese authorities swooped in with antitrust action and hal

Facebook Moves Billions Of Dollars Back To The US

The social media giant Facebook has moved back billions of euros in profits from its international Irish holding company back to the US after a dispute with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a report from the  Times of London notes. Facebook usually holds billions of dollars in profits made outside the US and away from the country's taxation reach in its European headquarters in Ireland.  The company, like several others of its kind, makes use of a financial arrangement that involves having its Irish headquarters hold intellectual property that's then licensed for a fee from other Facebook subsidiaries outside the US, the end result being moving most of its international profits to a country with a low corporate taxation rate. Going by public account statements, Facebook paid $101 million in taxes to Irish authorities out of more than $15 billion in profits declared to the country in 2018. Theoretically, if Facebook brought back its international profits to the

US Holiday Online Sales Up 49% YoY; Mastercard

The payments company MasterCard has issued its  SpendingPulse report for this year's holiday sales, stating that online sales for the holiday season grew 49% compared to last year, a big jump that's not surprising given a pandemic that widely accelerated online shopping. According to Mastercard's report, holiday online sales accounted for 19.7% of total retail sales this year, wherein the adoption of e-commerce options such as in-store pickup and contactless deliveries played a key role in the growth of online sales for retailers. As online sales soared high, normal retail sales during the holiday season rose by a relatively paltry 3% but nonetheless made up the majority of sales for the period.  Other noteworthy bits from Mastercard's SpendingPulse report include; Retail sales of home furniture and furnishings up 16.2% (31% online) Retail sales of electronics and appliances rose 6% Apparel sales down 19.1% over the year Online jewelry sales up 44.6% over the year Bla

MediaTek Now No.1 Smartphone Chip Vendor: Report

The Taiwanese chip company MediaTek has surpassed the American chipmaker Qualcomm to become the world's number one vendor of smartphone chipsets by market share, according to a new report from the research firm Counterpoint Research . The report from Counterpoint Research places MediaTek as the one smartphone chipset vendor with a 31% market share as of Q3 2020, compared to 29% for Qualcomm which has for long known to be the biggest smartphone chip vendor worldwide. With only a small 2% gap, Qualcomm could still take back the number one position in Q4 this year, Counterpoint notes. From the report, MediaTek's market share grew from 26% last year now to 31%, propelled by growth in key regions like India and China.  Even though MediaTek is reported to be the number one smartphone chip vendor, Counterpoint's report places Qualcomm as the biggest in the burgeoning 5G smartphone sector, powering 39% of all 5G phones sold worldwide. Along with MediaTek and Qualcomm, other major

Salesforce Makes Bank From Snowflake Bet

The software giant Salesforce has profited heavily from its investment in Snowflake Computing, a data-warehousing company that went public this year in what marked the biggest software IPO ever .  Salesforce invested in Snowflake through its eponymous corporate venture arm Salesforce Ventures. It invested an undisclosed amount in Snowflake earlier as a privately-held company and put in the sum of $250 million on the cusp of the company's IPO. Although the exact total sum that Salesforce Ventures pumped into Snowflake isn't disclosed, a report from The Information pegs it at $400 million and notes that the company has made 4x its investment on paper given Snowflake's soaring share price since it debuted on the public markets this September. A 4x gain implies a current worth of $1.6 billion for Salesforce's stake in Snowflake, a figure that's correlated by filings to the SEC. For the most recent quarter, Salesforce reported a net gain of $1.04 billion from its inves

IBM Pays $24M To Settle FCC Charges

The IT giant IBM has agreed to pay $24.25 million or precisely return the sum of $24.25 million that was awarded to it by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its 'E-Rate' telecoms and internet access discount program for schools and libraries, a press release notes. IBM was found to be in violation of the FCC's rules by not complying with the bidding rules issued by the commission and also providing 'ineligible'  telecoms and internet access services to the  El Paso Independent School District in Texas using E-Rate subsidies. With that, IBM has agreed to return $24.25 million awarded to it under the E-Rate program to resolve the charges brought against it by the FCC. In addition, it's also agreed to provide training to its employees on compliance with the bidding processes and eligibility requirements for the E-Rate program instituted by the FCC. The charges which IBM has agreed to settle had been lingering for over 15 years, pursued by multiple

Bloomberg Buys Second Measure

The financial data and analytics giant Bloomberg LP has announced that it's acquired Second Measure, a venture-backed consumer data analytics company. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Second Measure fits very well into Bloomberg LP, given both companies are in overlapping industries. Whereas Bloomberg is a really large platform for financial data and analytics, Second Measure also offers proprietary analytics for daily tracking and exploration of thousands of public and private companies but not on a scale as big as Bloomberg. Second Measure serves as a strategic complement to Bloomberg's own analytics service so it's no surprise that the New York-based company led by the famous entrepreneur and politician Michael Bloomberg swooped in to acquire it. Second Measure is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and was notably incubated in the famed  Y Combinator startup accelerator. The company had raised some $25 million in venture funding from investo

Alibaba Faces China Antitrust Probe

Chinese regulators have announced an antitrust investigation of the e-commerce company Alibaba, targeting the Chinese tech giant just after having  sparred with one of its affiliates , the fintech giant Ant Group. In a statement, China's antitrust regulator said it was looking into Alibaba's practice of “choose one of two,” which requires its business partners to work exclusively with it and avoid dealing with its rivals.  In an editorial posted on China's state-owned People’s Daily, the ruling Chinese Communist Party asserted that if “monopoly is tolerated, and companies are allowed to expand in a disorderly and barbarian manner, the industry won’t develop in a healthy, and sustainable way”. With that, China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has launched a formal probe into Alibaba, a probe that could result in significant penalties if Alibaba is found to be in violation of antitrust laws. Along with its Alibaba probe, Chinese regulators have also sum

Oscar Health IPO On The Horizon

Just after closing a $140 million round , the health insurance startup Oscar Health has announced that it's confidentially submitted a draft registration statement for an initial public offering (IPO) to the SEC, making a public market debut on the horizon. Oscar Health is seeking to hit the public markets after eight years of existence, wherein it's raised over $1.6 billion in venture funding from investors including well-known names like Tiger Global, Founders Fund, Baillie Gifford, Khosla Ventures, and the tech giant Alphabet. Oscar Health is a health insurance provider whose service is run entirely digitally. It has over 420,000 people signed up on its platform across 15 states in the US.  Oscar Health began in 2012 by selling Obamacare coverage to US residents in a process done majorly online. Since then, the company has ridden the waves of Obamacare and begun integrating directly with healthcare providers, expanding its services in the process. Oscar Health sells Individ

Square Buying Jay-Z's Tidal?

The payments company Square has discussed acquiring Tidal, the music streaming service controlled by the rapper Jay-Z, as part of a push to diversity, Bloomberg reports . Jay-Z paid $56 million to buy Tidal in 2015 and using the strength of his brand and popularity began promoting the music streaming service to higher heights. In 2017, the telecoms company Sprint (now merged with T-Mobile) paid $200 million to acquire a 33% stake in Tidal, valuing the music streaming app at $600 million. Now, Square is said to be interested in buying Tidal as part of a diversification push. Notably, Square's CEO Jack Dorsey and Tidal's owner Jay-Z are known to be close friends and have been spotted hanging out together in locations including the Hamptons in New York and a beach in Hawaii . It seems that the interest to buy Tidal has been brewing from that friendship. Tidal is a popular music streaming app and claims to have over 3 million subscribers. However, it's usage is nothing comp

Nuro Buys Driverless Truck Startup Ike

Just after closing a $500 million round , the self-driving company Nuro that makes its autonomous vehicles for deliveries of goods and items has announced that it's acquired another self-driving company, one that's focused on the trucking industry named Ike Robotics . Ike and Nuro were already partners before this just-announced acquisition, wherein Nuro licensed self-driving technology developed by Ike. The company will now be getting more closer with Nuro thanks to its acquisition. Ike has been bought out after just two years of existence, wherein it raised $52 million in venture funding from investors such as Redpoint and Bain Capital Ventures. The price Nuro is paying for Ike isn't disclosed. Compared to Ike, Nuro is heavily-funded, with some $1.5 billion in venture funding and a post-money valuation of $5 billion. Under Nuro, Ike will likely have access to more resources to further its cause, making Nuro now a major player in both autonomous driving for on-demand de

Taboola Said To Hold SPAC Merger Talks

Taboola, the Israel-based content recommendation and ad tech company that's behind many of those ads, sometimes bizarre ones, that you see beneath news articles, is in talks to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports . Taboola is said to be in talks to merge with ION Acquisition Corp (NYSE:IACA), a SPAC backed by ION Group which is an Ireland-based financial software and data provider.  ION Acquisition Corp raised $259 million in its public market debut this October, money that'll be handed to Taboola in the case of a merger. The rumors of Taboola heading for the public markets comes only a few months after the company's proposed plan to merge with one of its main rivals, Outbrain, fell apart  after years in the making. Taboola was supposed to merge with Outbrain in a $2 billion deal that'll create a worthy rival to the Google-dominated advertising network market. Taboola creates widgets for online

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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,

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

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