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Showing posts from March, 2021

FTC Opposes Illumina's $8B Purchase Of Cancer Detection Startup Grail

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued to block the $8 billion purchase of cancer detection startup Grail  by Illumina, a publicly-traded genetic sequencing company.  Illumina has sought to acquire Grail, which's working on blood-based cancer detection tests, for $3.5 billion in cash and $4.5 billion in stock net of the 12% stake it already owns as an investor in Grail. To note, Grail was itself spun out of Illumina. With a legal case in the brews, the FTC argues that Illumina's planned purchase of Grail will "diminish innovation in the U.S. market" for multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests, given that the blood-based early cancer detection test that Grail is developing depends on a type of DNA sequencing that only Illumina provides. On its end, the FTC is challenging Illumina's planned Grail purchase as one that'll give it an unfair edge in the MCED test market and has thus sued to block the purchase. A trial for the case will begin on Aug. 24, 2

NBA Top Shot Parent Dapper Labs Raises $305M, Valued At $2.6B

Dapper Labs, the company behind digital collectibles sensation  NBA Top Shot and Ethereum collectibles game  CryptoKitties , has raised a big new round of funding from what's apparently a large party of sports stars, Hollywood heavyweights, and investment firms. Dapper has raised a $305 million round led by Coatue, a tech-focused investment powerhouse. Coatue was joined by others including NBA legend Michael Jordan and current stars like Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala; musician Shawn Mendes; Hollywood stars Will Smith and Ashton Kutcher; and investment firms a16z, The Chernin Group, USV, and Venrock. Indeed many people and firms chipped into Dapper's funding round and we listed just some of them. Per reports , the round values Dapper at $2.6 billion, not bad for a company at the forefront of the recent NFT craze. Dapper's NBA Top Shot offers video highlights of NBA scenes that users can trade in the form of verifiable digital collectibles known as non-fungible tokens (NF

IPO Chatter: Proptech Startup Knock

Knock, a fairly popular prop-tech startup offering people a way to buy and sell homes, is the latest company to get drawn to the center of rumors of a planned IPO. It's recruited investment bank Goldman Sachs to advise it on a bid to go public, according to a Bloomberg News report . Quoting the report, Knock is considering a plan to raise between $400 million to $500 million through an initial public offering. The prop-tech startup is also weighing a direct listing, or of course, the hot way to go public now which's a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). In an interview with Bloomberg, Knock's CEO Sean Black confirmed that his startup hired Goldman Sachs to advise it on its consideration to go public. Per chatters, Knock is aiming for a valuation in the ballpark of $2 billion on the public markets. Knock is a homebuying startup with its major offering known as Knock Home Swap, entailing lending money to customers to buy a new home while helping them sh

Market Moves: Tencent Music Kicks Off $1B Share Buyback

Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the NYSE-listed music streaming service of Chinese tech giant Tencent, has embarked on its biggest share buyback program yet with an announcement that it's been authorized to repurchase up to $1 billion worth of shares in a twelve-month period commencing March 29, 2021. Tencent Music's fresh $1 billion share buyback is more than double the company's last share buyback program of $400 million . Tencent Music began trading on the NYSE after an IPO in 2018 and has undertaken just one share buyback program since then before this one marking the second. The $1 billion share buyback announcement by Tencent Music notably comes just after the company was caught up in a massive share selloff of over $20 billion  that was triggered by a group of major banks, and the share selloff triggered significant short-term slumps in the share prices of affected companies like itself. A share buyback is basically the re-acquisition by a company of its own shar

UK Online Used-Car Dealer Cazoo Rides Into $7B SPAC Merger Deal

Cazoo, an online used-car sales startup operating in the UK, has reached an agreement to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) founded by American billionaire investor Dan Och in a deal valuing it at $ 7 billion. Cazoo, a barely three-year-old startup, is merging with AJAX I, a SPAC listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: AJAX). Through the merger, Cazoo is getting $805 million of cash held in trust by AJAX I, plus an $800 million PIPE round coming from investors including BlackRock, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), Fidelity, and Mubadala Capital. A barely three-year-old startup sealing an exit with a valuation of $7 billion on the public markets wildly signals booming times for the stock markets. Though it's existed for a relatively short time, Cazoo is a fast-growing startup that says it expects revenue in 2021 to approach $1 billion. Though with rapidly rising revenues, Cazoo doesn't seem to be currently profitable and hasn't disclosed whethe

New York State Launches "Vaccine Passport" App

The state of New York led by Governor Andrew Cuomo has moved to launch a "vaccine passport" offering an easy way for residents to share their Covid-19 vaccination or negative test status in accordance with state guidelines. The aim of the app, named Excelsior Pass , is to provide an easy way for organizers of mass gatherings to verify the status of their attendees in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Excelsior Pass was developed by New York state in partnership with IBM, whose blockchain platform forms the basis of the app. It works by having a secure QR code which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to get proof of vaccination or Covid-19 negative test results to permit entry for customers. The Excelsior Pass isn't that complex, being similar to a mobile airline boarding pass. Just as in the case of a boarding pass, New York state residents can either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior P

Autonomous Delivery Startup Nuro Adds Toyota, Chipotle As Investors

Nuro, a well-funded self-driving startup launched by ex-Google veterans, has said that it's raised new funding from investors including restaurant chain Chipotle and Woven Capital, a growth-stage fund launched by a subsidiary of Japanese automaker Toyota. The new investments in Nuro came as part of a $500 million Series C  that the company embarked on last year. It adds Chipotle as a strategic investor in Nuro and means we could see food from Chipotle getting delivered by Nuro's self-driving robots sometime in the future. With backing from an offshoot of Toyota, Nuro also has a new strategic investor in the Japanese automaker.  Nuro's new investments came on the heels of the company securing a commercial deployment permit for its autonomous delivery robots in the state of California. The permit has allowed Nuro to operate commercially in two countries near its headquarters in the California Bay Area and the company says it'll soon start delivering there with a yet-unn

TikTok Owner ByteDance Makes Big Gaming Purchase, Hires CFO

ByteDance Technologies, the high-flying Chinese technology startup that owns a suite of apps including the popular TikTok, has made a major gaming acquisition that is the company's biggest acquisition yet, paying a reported $4 billion to buy mobile game developer Moonton. Moonton is a Chinese mobile game studio that's best known for its multiplayer online battle arena game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang . It was founded just seven years ago and now has seen a big exit with a sale to ByteDance. Per publicly-known information, Moonton is known to have raised just a small amount of venture funding, making its reported $4 billion sale price very lucrative for its shareholders. Its sale signals ByteDance having big ambitions venturing into the gaming world. As it made a big gaming acquisition, ByteDance also announced the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer poached from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Shou Zi Chew, who served as Xiaomi's CFO from 2015 to 2020 will become B

Crypto Firms, Chainalysis Raise Mega Rounds

Two of the latest companies in the crypto-sphere to raise a big round of funding are two well-known names, blockchain analysis company Chainalysis and cryptocurrency exchange and wallet . Chainalysis has announced that it's raised a new funding round of $100 million valuing it at $2 billion, while has raised a new round of $300 million valuing it at $5.2 billion. Both funding rounds add to the crypto funding frenzy that's been seen in the past year. Chainalysis's $100 million round was led by Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm launched by Coinbase co-founder Fred Erhrsam. Other participants in the round included Lee Fixel's Addition and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff via his firm TIME Ventures. The $100 million round for Chainalysis came barely four months after the company closed a previous round of the same exact amount. The company says it's seen exceptional growth over the past year and increased its annual recurring revenue

IPO: Romanian Software Company UiPath Unveils S-1

After filing confidentially for an initial public offering (IPO) in December, UiPath, the high-flying robotic process automation (RPA) startup, has now unveiled its S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), giving a peek into its financials with information not publicly known before. With its S-1 filing made, UiPath is set to begin trading soon on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "PATH". As to financials, UiPath's S-1 filing shows $608 million revenue for its most recent fiscal year ending January 31, 2021. In the previous year, the company made $336 million in revenue. UiPath isn't profitable, showing net losses of $92 million and a much higher $520 million in its most recent fiscal year and the one before that respectively. Most of UiPath's revenue comes from its 'Licenses' segment, that is selling licenses for the use of its software to corporations. The second-highest segment after that is grouped as "Maintenan

Official: WeWork To Go Public With $9B SPAC Deal

Pertaining true to recent rumors , SoftBank-owned office leasing company WeWork has sealed a deal to become publicly-traded through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It's announced that it's merging with BowX Acquisition Corp in a deal valuing it at $9 billion. BowX Acquisition Corp is a SPAC sponsored by investment firm Bow Capital Management and is advised by retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. It raised $420 million from its IPO in August last year. With its merger, WeWork is getting $483 million of cash held in trust by BowX plus an extra $800 million PIPE round committed by investors including Fidelity, BlackRock, Starwood Capital Group, and Insight Partners. Totally, it'll get $1.3 billion of cash proceeds from its merger. WeWork's past has definitely not been forgotten, being the poster child for excessive startup exuberance  under the leadership of its former CEO Adam Neumann who was then ousted by the company's board led by

Sports E-Tailer Fanatics Raises $320M, Doubles Valuation To $13B

Fanatics, the popular online retailer of sports merchandise, has raised a new funding round of $320 million that values it at $12.8 billion, per CNBC . The round more than doubled the company's valuation from $6.2 billion as of its last round now to nearly $13 billion. Fanatics' new round came from a mix of investors including private equity firm Silver Lake, Franklin Templeton, Fidelity Investments, Neuberger Berman, Thrive Capital, and Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball is a major sports merchandise partner of Fanatics so it's no surprise that chipped cash into the company's $320 million round. Per CNBC , Fanatics' global sales are up 30% year over year and the company expects to surpass $3 billion in sales this year. It's then ideal that the sports merchandise e-tailer has sought new funds to double down on expanding. With its new round, Fanatics has now raised a total of $2.4 billion in venture funding, and that makes it one of the highest-funded

News Corp Pays $275M To Buy Newspaper Investor's Business Daily

News Corp, the mass media giant chaired by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News fame, has moved to buy Investor's Business Daily, a fairly popular American newspaper and news website covering the global stock market and business activities.  News Corp is paying $275 million to buy Investor's Business Daily from O’Neil Capital Management, an asset management firm that's owned the paper for a long time. The firm is chaired by William J. O’Neil who's himself the founder of the paper. As part of News Corp,  Investor's Business Daily will be housed under Dow Jones, a News Corp subsidiary that also operates the famous Wall Street Journal . It's an ideal acquisition for Dow Jones which's a leading global provider of business news and information. Investor's Business Daily, IBD for short, owns business website which's a digital outlet generating the most revenue for the company. It's monetized primarily with subscriptions, subscriptions that News Cor

Zillow Co-Founder Spencer Rascoff Has A New Billion-Dollar Startup

Spencer Rascoff is a well-known serial tech entrepreneur with several successes to his name. Early in his entrepreneurial career, he founded, an internet travel startup that sold to InterActiveCorp (now IAC) for nearly $700 million. He then co-founded Zillow which grew to become the leading online real estate platform in the US. Rascoff stepped down from Zillow in April 2020 and apparently still had the entrepreneurial bug biting him hard despite his previous successes. He moved to form two new companies, tech news site dot.LA and real estate startup Pacaso , which's where it gets interesting. Barely five months after launching, Pacaso has said that it's raised a $75 million equity round  valuing it at an unprecedented $1 billion. Take note that this is a startup that's existed for only five months.  Pacaso said it closed a $75 million equity round alongside a $1 billion debt round for its business. The equity round was led by VC firms Greycroft and Global Foun

Under New CEO, Intel To Spend $20B Building Two New Chip Fabs

Shortly after recruiting Pat Gelsinger from VMware to be its new CEO , chipmaking giant Intel has announced plans  to spend $20 billion building two new semiconductor fabrication plants "fabs" in the state of Arizona.  The new fabs are aimed at boosting the company's manufacturing capacity locally in the US, whereas the US has over the past years lost a significant percentage of its chip manufacturing capacity to other countries such as China. Intel will spend $20 billion building its two new fabs over the next three years with plans for both to have become operational sometime in 2023. The company's plan puts it in major competition with Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC which's also building a semiconductor fab in Arizona. Likewise, Korea's Samsung is also building one in Texas. With its new fabs, Intel aims to boost manufacturing capacity for its own processors in the 7nm range and smaller. The company has also detailed plans to create a new division called 'Int

Big Startup Funding Rounds: Ro, GoPuff, Airwallex, And More

This year has been a spectacular one regarding big funding rounds for startups. It's a year when you just sleep for a night and lo and behold wake up to the news of big funding rounds that were announced just in the few hours you slept. Just on Monday in this new week, several $100 million+ rounds for startups were announced, with some rounds amounting to around $100 million and others going to as high as over $1 billion. In this piece, we present to you a summary of the biggest new funding rounds of this week. They include; Ro - Ro, an online pharmacy startup, has raised $500 million in Series D funding that values it at $5 billion. It's now raised a total of nearly $900 million in outside funding with the addition of the new round. GoPuff - Food, snacks, and alcohol delivery app GoPuff has raised a whopping $1.15 billion  in a new funding round valuing it at $9 billion, double its valuation from a previous round five months ago. GoPuff's new round came from a mix of ne

"Rigged Tax Code": Zoom Pays $0 Federal Income Tax On $660M Annual Profit

Zoom, the popular video-conferencing platform, was one of the major beneficiaries of the pandemic as millions around the globe became dependent on video calls to stay connected and carry out their jobs. 2020 was a wild year for Zoom, wherein its annual pre-tax profit soared from just $16 million to $664 million in the span of 12 months. For that year, the company reported $2.7 billion in revenue, over 4x its revenue in the previous year. Now, it's been revealed that Zoom only had to cough out a relatively minute sum to the US taxman despite its year of record profits. The company paid $0 in federal income taxes and only $5.7 million in total taxes to the US government in 2020, an effective tax rate of just 0.8% on its profits even though the corporate tax rate was 21% for 2020. It's not that Zoom broke the law or evaded taxes to reduce its federal income tax bill to nothing and total tax bill to $5.7 million. What the company did was take advantage of a legal loophole by compen

Serial Lawbreaker: Amazon Faces 3rd Wage Theft Fine In 3 Months

  Yet again, Jeff Bezos's e-commerce giant Amazon is in hot water with regulators for messing with the wages of its workers, in this case its drivers. The company is set to pay a fresh $8.2 million penalty in a class action settlement for wage violations, as indicated by a court settlement notice  for eight former Amazon delivery driver contractors in the Seattle area in Washington state. The $8.2 million fine is yet another entry into the long list of fines that Amazon will pay as penalties for apparent wage theft, coming just a week after the state of California fined the company $6.4 million  for failing to pay overtime and and offer rest breaks to over 700 contracted delivery drivers in Southern California between 2018 and 2020. Shortly before California's fine, Amazon also agreed to pay a $62 million fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  for pocketing delivery drivers' tips. Tracing back to other years, the company has numerously landed in hot water with r

Mobile App Monetization Company ironSource To Go Public With $11B SPAC Deal

Just that moment when you start to chill after taking a break from writing about numerous SPAC merger deals, there's that new one to always pop up and crash the break, and that new one today is ironSource, a mobile app monetization company based in Israel. ironSource has announced an agreement to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. It'll merge with Thoma Bravo Advantage (NYSE: TBA) in a deal valuing it at $11.1 billion. Thoma Bravo Advantage raised $1 billion from an initial public offering (IPO) in January, money that'll now be handed over to ironSource with its merger, plus a $1.3 billion PIPE round committed to the company by a mix of investors including Tiger Global, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), Wellington Group, investment firm Fidelity, and hedge fund Baupost Group. From its merger, ironSource will get $2.3 billion of cash proceeds, marking one of the biggest SPAC deals of the past year. ironS

Newly-Public Lidar Company Luminar Heads For China's Auto Market

Luminar Technologies, a company making lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles that went public through a much-talked-about SPAC merger a few months ago, has added another major lidar supply deal to its package of contracts, this time with a Chinese automaker that's known to be the biggest in the country by the name SAIC Motor. Luminar has entered into a strategic partnership with SAIC Motor that'll see it supply lidar hardware and the accompanying autonomous driving software for a new line of SAIC electric vehicles dubbed R . The contract will kick off next year, 2022, and it's noted that targets exist for Luminar to supply lidars for SAIC's entire vehicle lineup needing it. With its partnership with SAIC, Luminar will open its first office in China in Shanghai, the same city where SAIC is based. From there, the Chinese automaker will provide local support for Luminar as it gets into a foreign market it hasn't been into before. For the new R brand electric car unveil

iBuying Startup Offerpad To Merge With Zillow Co-Founder's SPAC

Offerpad, a real estate tech startup focused on iBuying, has sealed a deal to be taken public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and not just any SPAC but one formed by a co-founder of Zillow which's one of the biggest real estate tech companies globally. Offerpad has announced an agreement to merge with Supernova Partners Acquisition Company (NYSE: SPNV) and start trading on the public markets as a result. Supernova is a SPAC formed and led by Spencer Rascoff, a serial tech entrepreneur who's the co-founder and former CEO of Zillow. Offerpad's SPAC merger agreement values the six-year-old startup at $3 billion. The merger will hand over $650 million of gross cash proceeds to the startup, split into $403 million held in trust by Supernova and $250 million in additional investment commitments from firms including national homebuilder Taylor Morrison Home Corp and asset management giant BlackRock. Offerpad will be the second iBuying startup to

Deal: TPG's Rise Fund Invests $200M In Airtel Africa's Mobile Money Arm

The Rise Fund, a $5 billion impact investment fund formed by private equity giant TPG in partnership with Irish singer Bono and tech entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, has made its latest bet with a $200 million investment in the mobile money division of Airtel Africa plc. Officially, The Rise Fund will pay $200 million for a 7.5% stake in Airtel Mobile Commerce BV, which's the holding company for Airtel Africa's mobile money operations. The investment values Airtel Africa's mobile money business at $2.65 billion on a cash and debt-free basis. Airtel Africa announced The Rise Fund's investment in its mobile money arm with a filing to the National Stock Exchange of India . Following The Rise Fund's investment, Airtel Africa will continue to retain a majority stake in its mobile money business while the fund holds a 7.5% minority stake. With that, Airtel Africa notes that it's still in discussions with other unnamed potential investors to sell up to 25% of its mobile money

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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