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Showing posts from January, 2021

Amazon Has A Video Game Problem

You should know Amazon as the tech giant that has its hands dipped in figuratively everything. With a major and mammoth e-commerce business, the company also has big operations in other areas such as movie streaming (Prime Video), game streaming (Twitch), online pharmacy (PillPack), grocery delivery (Amazon Fresh), autonomous driving (Zoox) and the likes. Amazon is a stand-out business for the fact that it's seen success in many areas. The company constantly pours billions of dollars into expansion efforts and has seen its bets reap good fruits over the years. Even with success in many areas, it appears that there's one place Amazon has had much trouble in - the development of video games. A recent report from Bloomberg  shed light on the company's troubles in the video game sector, despite spending up to roughly $500 million annually on its gaming efforts. To develop games, Amazon has spent big and hired a handful of stars in the game development sector. Its dedicated divi

2021 Q1: Blowout Quarter For Apple

This week, Apple posted its financial results for its fiscal 2021 first quarter  ended December 26, 2020. The company posted record revenues and earnings, recording over $100 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time in its history. For the  fiscal 2021 first quarter , Apple posted a record  $111.4 billion in sales, compared to $91.8 billion in the same period of the previous year. The company's sales were boosted by markets outside the US, most especially China, where it grew its sales from $13.6 billion to $21.3 billion over the year. As usual, iPhone sales accounted for the majority of Apple's revenue in the quarter, coming at $65.6 billion, compared to $55.9 billion in the same quarter of the previous year. Mac sales came at $8.7 billion, iPad sales at $8.4 billion, Wearables, Home and Accessories at roughly $13 billion, and Services at $15.8 billion. Northern and Southern America accounted for the highest of Apple's sales, followed by Europe, Greater China, and

Founder Ryan Smith Makes Bank From Qualtrics IPO

You may know Ryan Smith as the tech entrepreneur who sealed a deal to purchase the NBA sports team Utah Jazz  in October. Smith led a group of his allies to pay $1.66 billion for the Utah Jazz, a group that includes other notable names like Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Co-CEO of Atlassian; and Ryan Sweeney, an Accel partner and longtime ally of Smith. To buy an NBA team, Smith obviously has a lot of dough. He did very well for himself when he sold Qualtrics, the survey software company he had co-founded with a few family members, for $8 billion to SAP. Then, two years later, he made the splashy Utah Jazz purchase, becoming one of the youngest ever owners of an NBA team. As it looks, Smith may have sold Qualtrics for a huge amount but still remains loyal to the company both managerially and financially. Being the company's CEO, Smith spearheaded a plan by SAP to decide to take Qualtrics public just two years after it acquired it.  Having already sold out to SAP, Smith's financial s

Universal Music Pondering 2021 IPO: Report

You may know Universal Music Group (UMG) as one of the 'big four' record labels globally, along with Warner Music, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI. If you don't, you likely know several music artists that have deals with Universal, to name a few: Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, and Billie Eilish. Universal Music is majority-owned by the French media conglomerate Vivendi, with the Chinese tech giant Tencent having a minority stake. Just in December, an investment group led by Tencent exercised its call option to buy a further 10% stake in Universal for a price of  €3bn ($3.6bn)  after having previously acquired 10% of the company. Now, it looks like Universal Music Group may soon be heading for the public markets, as the Financial Times reports that the record label and music powerhouse is looking to hasten up its plans for a public listing and considering listing this year, 2021, rather than in 2022 as originally planned. Reportedly, the company is making t

January 2021: Record Month For SPAC Listings

2020 saw the proliferation of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which are companies with no commercial operations that are formed strictly to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) for the purpose of acquiring an existing company.  SPACs made a killing last year, with over 200 of them debuting on the global stock markets and raising tens of billions of dollars collectively. In 2020, technology companies were the main targets for SPAC mergers, with a slew of electric carmakers, enterprise software companies, fintech companies, and the likes sealing big SPAC deals in the year. Now, in January 2021, SPACs have continued their record run and raised nearly $26 billion collectively, according to Bloomberg data . That amount surpasses the previous monthly record set in October 2020 and helped fuel a record $63 billion worth of IPO share sales in this January. As SPACs caught up in 2020, lots of firms and individuals moved to launch theirs and have now gotten into

GM Pledges Carbon Neutrality By 2040

The American automaker General Motors is the latest big automaker to make a big carbon neutrality pledge, announcing a plan to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040. Most of GM's carbon neutrality plan will come from the production of all-electric vehicles. The company says it plans to have 30 all-electric models in production by 2025 and have 40% of its American cars be battery-electric by the same year. As part of its plan, GM says that it'll source 100% renewable energy to power its US sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035. The company says it's already the 10th largest purchaser of renewable energy in the world. GM has said that it'll invest $27 billion in developing electric and autonomous vehicles from 2020 through 2025. The company apparently has its eyes set on a future that'll see the increased adoption of electric vehicles. “General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, gr

Xiaomi Sues US After Investment Blacklist

Just a short while after the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi was placed on a blacklist by the former Trump administration that sought to bar US investors from buying shares of the publicly-traded company, Xiaomi has now filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Defense and Treasury department, challenging and seeking to reverse the US government's order. In its suit , the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are named as defendants, the two of them being freshly appointed by the Biden administration with less than two weeks on the job. Xiaomi is challenging the Trump-issued executive order against the company, arguing that requiring US investors to divest all their Xiaomi shares by the 14th of January, 2022 as stipulated will hurt the company by cutting off its access to US capital markets and also American investors with big Xiaomi stakes like BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and State Street Corp. Xiaomi was placed on a blacklist by the Trump administration ove

Salesforce Bets On OwnBackup, Company Valued At $1.4B

Salesforce Ventures, the constantly deal-making corporate venture arm of the software giant Salesforce, has done its latest big deal, this time by co-leading a $167.5 Million funding round for OwnBackup, a five-year-old startup that's developed a data protection and backup platform built on the Salesforce stack. As known, Salesforce regularly backs companies whose businesses are built on its platform and sometimes even acquires them outright. Its corporate venture arm co-led the OwnBackup round along with Insight Partners and Sapphire Ventures, with participation from existing backers Innovation Endeavors, Vertex Ventures, and Oryzn Capital. It was only six months ago that OwnBackup closed a funding round of $50 million. Now, six months later, it's raised a splashy $167.5 million round and a valuation of $1.4 billion from the round to match. Now, OwnBackup has raised a total of $267.5 million in venture funding in its five years of existence. OwnBackup has built a strong busin

Edtech Company Nerdy To Go Public Via SPAC Merger

Nerdy, an ed-tech company that operates the popular Varsity Tutors  online tutoring marketplace, is the latest technology company to head for a public listing through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The company has announced that it's sealed a deal to merge with TPG Pace Tech Opportunities (NYSE: PACE), a SPAC affiliated with the private equity juggernaut TPG. From its merger, Nerdy will be handed up to $750 million in cash, consisting of $450 million held in trust by TPG Pace, forward purchase agreements of $150 million, and another $150 million from a fully committed private-investment-in-public-equity (PIPE) round. The PIPE round includes investors such as Koch Industries, Learn Capital, and Franklin Templeton. Nerdy's merger will value the company at $1.7 billion post-money. It's expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021. Nerdy is a company that's over a decade old whose online learning platform, Varsity Tutors, offers acces

New SPAC Merger: Electric Carmaker Faraday Future

Faraday Future is the latest electric carmaker to seal a deal to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The company has reached an agreement to merge with the SPAC Property Solutions Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ: PSAC) and raise roughly $1 billion from the deal, money that'll be used to fund its operations.  You may remember Faraday Future as the once seemingly high-flying electric carmaker that got its wings clipped by severe financial issues . The company had debuted a few concept vehicles in 2015 and planned to launch a production vehicle in 2017 but got plagued by financial and operational issues. Now restructured and under new leadership, Faraday Future is apparently betting that it can succeed with its plan to produce electric vehicles and has garnered enough investment interest to the tune of a billion dollars on the public markets.  With its merger, the company will get $230 million in cash held in trust by  Property Solutions Acquisition Corp

UK Probes Uber's Autocab Acquisition

The UK's antitrust agency is back again with another probe into an American tech company looking to tie up with one of its own, this time Uber's acquisition of Autocab, a startup that develops booking and dispatch software for taxi operators. Uber reached a deal to buy Autocab in August 2020 for an undisclosed sum. Now, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said that it's investigating Uber's proposed acquisition of Autocab to see if it'll result in "substantial lessening of competition" in the UK transport market. Given that Autocab is based in the UK, opposition from the country's antitrust agency could sour Uber's proposed acquisition. As it works, the UK's antitrust agency has begun the first phase of its investigation into Uber's Autocab deal. It'll then conduct its probes and decide if it'll proceed into a second and final phase of its investigation. Under stipulated laws, a company facing the first phase o

Brazilian Digital Bank Nubank Raises $400M, Valued At $25B

Nubank, a digital banking company based in Brazil that's made its mark as one of the biggest in the Latin American market, has raised a new Series G funding round of $400 million that values it at a whopping $25 billion.  The Series G round came from a mix of new and existing investors including Singapore's GIC, Invesco, Ribbit Capital, Dragoneer, and Sequoia Capital. With it, Nubank has now raised a total of $1.2 billion in venture funding since it was founded. With a $25 billion valuation, Nubank appears to now be the highest-valued digital banking startup worldwide, speeding past American and European peers such as Revolut, Chime, and N26. It's very notable that the highest-valued digital banking company globally emerged from Latin America, a region that's not known to house a technology industry as big as that of other regions such as North America and Europe. Nubank has succeeded very well as a digital banking service since it was launched seven years ago. It's

Coinbase To Hold Direct Listing

In December, the popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase confirmed that it had confidentially filed for a public listing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Now in a new announcement , the company has said that it'll hold a direct listing, meaning it'll sell shares directly to the public without getting help from intermediary banks. Coinbase's move to hold a direct listing comes just a few weeks after the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) approved a plan to let companies raise capital through direct listings . As of now, only a few tech companies have taken the path of direct listings, such as Palantir, Slack, and Spotify. Coinbase is one of the most prominent tech IPOs expected this year. Founded in 2012, it's made its mark as the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the US and one of the biggest globally. With a confidential filing already submitted, it's expected that a public S-1 filing will be released soon that'll give a deeper peek into Coi

Next SPAC Merger: WeWork?

WeWork is the famous et infamous office leasing company that was once seemingly high-flying but saw its wings got clipped once it attempted to hold a public listing. Having faced funding and operational issues, WeWork got bailed out by its biggest investor, SoftBank, which took control of the company and installed a new leadership team with hopes of turning things around. Now under a new CEO, Sandeep Mathrani, it seems that WeWork may be looking to test the public markets once again, this time through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  WeWork has fielded merger talks from a few SPACs including BowX Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:BOWX) and another unnamed suitor, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal .  BowX Acquisition is a SPAC affiliated with the investment firm  Bow Capital Management and has the basketball star Shaquille O’Neal as an adviser . According to the Journal, deals being fielded by WeWork could value the company at $10 billion. Although th

Workday Buys Danish Startup Peakon For $700M

Workday, the publicly-traded HR software company, has reached a deal to buy Peakon, an employee feedback platform. The company will pay $700 million in cash for Peakon, a press statement notes. A $700 million exit marks a big one for Peakon, a startup that's backed by $68 million in venture funding. It represents the second-biggest acquisition that Workday has ever made in its history. Obviously, a software platform for employee feedback fits very well into Workday's market of HR software. Since its inception, Workday has expanded significantly with acquisitions, more than a dozen of them. The company's biggest purchase was when it paid $1.55 billion for Adaptive Insights in 2018. Peakon is notably a European company based in Denmark. As such, a $700 million exit is one of the biggest startup exits to emerge from Denmark. Peakon is mainly backed by European investors such as Atomico, EQT Ventures, and Balderton Capital. Workday's purchase of Peakon is expected to be c

SAP Buys Signavio, Reportedly For $1.2B

The German software giant SAP has made its first acquisition of 2021, Signavio, a German enterprise software company. The price of the acquisition wasn't formally disclosed, but a Bloomberg report  pegged it at up to 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion). Signavio makes process management software for companies to keep track of their daily workflows. It's a decade-old company, backed by $230 million in venture funding. Its backers include DTCP, Apax Digital, and Summit Partners. Signavio is the first acquisition by SAP this year and a big one given its reported price of $1.2 billion. It's acquisition comes just as SAP is spinning off one of its biggest acquisitions, Qualtrics, into a separate publicly-traded company. SAP paid $8 billion for Qualtrics in 2019 and has seen fit to take it public two years later. Notably, Qualtrics was already on its way to a public offering before SAP acquired it. SAP's Signavio purchase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

Squarespace Confidentially Files For An IPO

Just a few months after appointing its first Chief Financial Officer , the website building and hosting company Squarespace has said that it's filed confidentially for an initial public offering (IPO). The company has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement for an IPO to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). With a confidential filing made, a public filing should be expected soon and then a final debut on the public markets. Squarespace is assumedly going to debut on the public markets this year 2021, after a few years of rumors of the company looking to go public. Squarespace was launched in its current form in 2004 and has remained in private hands ever since. Over the years, the company has raised  nearly $300 million in venture funding, with most of that coming from a single $200 million secondary round that the company closed in 2017. That round came entirely from General Atlantic. Squarespace is set to go public at a time when investor sentiment t

Solar Financing Company Loanpal Raises $800M+

Loanpal, a San Francisco-based company that provides financing and point-of-sale payment solutions for residential solar installations, is the latest company in the solar energy industry to raise a big round. It's announced that it's raised its first external funding round of over $800 million led by NEA and WestCap Group, with participation from the likes of Brookfield Asset Management and Riverstone Holdings. As part of the terms of the funding, Loanpal has gotten two new board members - Laurence Tosi of WestCap Group and Scott Sandell of NEA. Loanpal, formerly Paramount Equity, is a major solar lender in the US. As reported by the company, it dishes out $200 million in loans for residential solar projects each month and claims to be responsible for over 30% of all new residential solar loans in the US. The loans facilitated by Loanpal comes from a consortium of banks and financial institutions. Since it rebranded as Loanpal in 2018, the company says that it's funded rou

The First Private ISS Mission Seems Near

The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit that's famous across the globe. Every day, it travels around the globe, able to circle the whole Earth in the span of roughly 93 minutes. The ISS is governed by intergovernmental treaties and agreements, with the US at the forefront. Dozens of astronauts and cosmonauts as well as a few space tourists have gone to the ISS since it was launched in its current form in 1998. All of the missions to the ISS have been governmental and organized by the space agencies of various countries like the US, Russia, Japan, and Canada. Now, it appears that the first private mission to space is near, with the aerospace company Axiom Space having just announced  its private crew of four people that'll man the first private mission proposed to fly to the ISS.  The four people include an American, a Canadian, and a former Israeli Air Force pilot as passengers, and the fourth being Michael López-Alegría, a Spanish-Am

EV Battery Startup Sila Nano Raises $590M

Sila Nano, a startup that's working on batteries for electric cars, has raised a fresh funding round of $590 million led by the investment firm Coatue. Other participants included existing backers 8VC, Sutter Hill Ventures, T. Rowe Price, Bessemer Venture Partners, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The new round values Sila Nano at $3.3 billion post-money and adds up the total amount of venture funding the company has raised to nearly $900 million.  With its new funds, Sila Nano says it'll kick off the development of a new North American 100 GWh plant to produce silicon-based anode materials for batteries for its automotive customers.  With partnerships with automakers like BMW and Daimler, Sila Nano aims to start production at the plant in 2024 and have its batteries running in cars by 2025. Sila Nano has set its sights on developing batteries for electric cars that are better than the ones we currently have. As known, battery technology is very crucial to the adop

Shell Buys UK EV Charging Network Ubitricity

The British-Dutch oil giant Shell has announced that it's reached a definitive agreement to buy Ubitricity, the largest public electric vehicle charging network in the UK with over 2,700 charge points. The company is paying an undisclosed price to buy Ubitricity in its entirety. As it seems, even oil giants like Shell have seen the writing on the wall that renewable energy leads the future. The company, famous for pumping nearly 4 million barrels of oil each day, has moved to buy a major  electric vehicle charging network to strengthen its position in the renewables market. Shell already operates a large network of petrol filling stations for automobiles in the UK and abroad. With the rise of electric vehicles, it's apparent that the need for public charging stations will continue to rise to fill in the gap for petrol filling stations. Shell has apparently adjusted its strategy towards that and now moved to acquie a major  electric vehicle charging network in Europe. Ubitricit

Vimeo Raises $300M, Valued At $5B+ Ahead Of Spinoff

After raising a $150 million funding round in November 2020, Vimeo, the popular video site owned by IAC, has raised another equity round of  $300 million  that values it at over $5 billion. The new round comes roughly a month after IAC announced its intention to spin off Vimeo as a separate publicly-traded company. As it seems, the new $300 million round is a verge round for Vimeo before it spins off from IAC and becomes an independent publicly-traded company. The investment comes from two firms; T. Rowe Price and Oberndorf Enterprises. It's split into two tranches: a $200 million investment at a $5.2 billion pre-money valuation and another $100 million at a $5.7 billion valuation. Before now, the $150 million round that Vimeo had announced came from two investment firms; GIC, the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund; and Thrive Capital, a well-known venture capital firm. These investors have apparently seen fit to buy into Vimeo before the video site spins off from IAC and hits the

Asian Travel Startup Klook Raises Fresh $200M

Klook, a well-known venture-backed travel startup based in Hong Kong, has raised a fresh funding round of $200 million that was led by Aspex Management, with further participation from a mix of new and existing backers including SoftBank, Sequoia Capital, Boyu Capital, and Matrix Partners China. With the new round, Klook has now raised a total of over $720 million in venture funding in its six years of existence. The valuation that came with the round wasn't disclosed, but for a hint, Klook was valued at more than $1 billion from a funding round back in 2018. Klook is a fast-growing travel startup based in Hong Kong. It's majorly a platform for people to book travels, tours, and related activities around the globe. 2020 was a year that saw global travel activity dwindle due to the Covid-19 pandemic and thus saw Klook adjust itself and began developing SaaS solutions for merchants. With Klook's Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite, merchants and retailers have an easy way to o

RuneScape Maker Jagex Sells To US Private Equity Firm

Jagex, a British gaming studio and publisher that's best known for its  RuneScape  MMORPG game, has been sold to the American private equity firm The Carlyle Group, a press statement from the firm indicates. While the price of the sale wasn't officially disclosed, a report from The Daily Telegraph pegs the deal at $530 million+. A Jagex acquisition is a landmark one for The Carlyle Group, a well-known and major private equity firm but one that isn't known for dabbling in the gaming sector. It's in fact the first gaming studio that  The Carlyle Group has ever acquired. The Carlyle Group is a major investor in technology companies globally and has thus continued its streak with the acquisition of a major British gaming studio. Jagex in this case  is a studio with a very popular game, RuneScape, which it claims has almost 300 million player accounts and has achieved over $1 billion in lifetime revenue. Jagex employs more than 450 people in the UK. Its reported acquisitio

Chamath Palihapitiya Leads PIPE Rounds For Latch, Sunlight Financial

Chamath Palihapitiya is a venture capitalist and investor that's made a name for himself in the market for special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). He leads Social Capital Hedosophia, a venture that's debuted six successive SPACs so far and raised a total of $3.7 billion. Palihapitiya has been a prolific promoter of his own SPACs and has as well bet big on some debuted by others. He just continued his streak of bets by leading new p rivate-investment-in-public equity (PIPE) deals for two companies that recently secured SPAC merger deals; Latch , a startup that makes smart locks, and Sunlight Financial , a company that provides loans to homeowners for solar installations. On Monday, Latch and Sunlight Financial announced respective deals to go public through mergers with SPACs. Latch will merge with TS Innovation Acquisitions Corp (NASDAQ: TSIA), a SPAC sponsored by the real estate operator Tishman Speyer, while Sunlight will merge with Spartan Acquisition Corp. II (NYSE:

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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

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has raised the annual pay package of its Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella , the company's latest proxy statement reveals. Nadella enjoyed a substantial pay raise along with several other Microsoft executives. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, Nadella's compensation was $50mn , up 13% compared to the previous year. The lucrative pay package was split into a $2.5mn base salary, $33mn of stock awards, a $14mn cash bonus, and $110k in "other" compensation. Nadella's pay raise was in line with other Microsoft executives, including President Brad Smith and CFO Amy Hood. They each got annual pay raises in the 20% ballpark compared to 2020. The reported pay packages of Microsoft's top executives for the fiscal year is as follows; Satya Nadella (CEO) - $50mn. Amy Hood (CFO) - $23.5mn Brad Smith (President and Chief Legal Officer) - $20.5mn Jean-Philippe Courtois (Executive Vice President) - $17mn Christopher Young (Executive Vice

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

In a bid to expand, grocery delivery giant Instacart is making its biggest acquisition yet. It'll buy   Caper AI , a New York-based startup that makes smart grocery carts and cashier-less payments tech that complement them. Instacart will pay $350mn for the startup in a combination of cash and shares. Caper AI is a startup working on exciting stuff; smart shopping carts to make the grocery buying process at brick-and-mortar stores easier and faster. Its smart carts can recognize items placed in them with the help of cameras and weight sensors, then calculate their total cost without the need for barcodes as used in most grocery stores. Payment at the counter is then made quickly with Caper's own payments platform. Caper's "AI Cart". credit: Caper Also, Caper sells what's called a "Caper Counter," a checkout system for convenience stores that uses cameras and weight-based sensors instead of barcodes to sum the total cost of items. Caper Counter. cre

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