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Showing posts from April, 2021

Coinbase Insiders Cash Out Big On Market Debut

After its recent debut on the public markets, several major shareholders of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase have apparently seen fit to cash out big sums of their stakes collectively amounting to billions of dollars. Among such insiders include Coinbase's founder and CEO Brian Armstrong and early VC investors Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures (USV). Brian Armstrong, Coinbase's CEO, sold around 750,000 shares in three separate transactions and netted $292 million from the sales, as indicated by an SEC filing . The sale represents less than 2% of his total holdings in the company. Just like Armstrong, Coinbase's other co-founder Fred Ehrsam sold 298,789 Class A shares at a weighted-average price of $374.72 and netted $112 million. He sold shares on Coinbase's Wednesday debut at prices ranging from $318.67 to $422.76. Coinbase's CFO Allesia Hass sold 255,500 shares at a price of $388.73 and netted roughly $99 million. It represents roughly 15% of her h

IPO: Drug Discovery Firm Recursion Pharma Debuts On Markets

Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a company using machine learning to hunt for new drugs and therapies for ailments, has raised $436 million from an initial public offering (IPO) and begun trading on the public markets. It sold roughly 24.2 million shares for $18 each to raise that amount. Recursion Pharma filed for an IPO last month in March. Debuting at $18 per share on the markets, it closed trading on Friday up more than 70% at $31.34, giving it a market value of over $5 billion. A seven-year-old company, Recursion is part of a group of companies that emerged in the past few years to harness the rapid development and improvement in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in recent years and apply them to drug discovery. Recursion uses AI and machine learning to help discover new drugs. Its customers are primarily pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer, which has a collaborative agreement with it to seek new drugs for fibrotic diseases. Bayer bought a $50 million stake i

China's Luckin Coffee Gets $250M Investment After Fraud Fallout

Luckin Coffee, the once high-flying Chinese coffee chain startup that came crashing down on the heels of a major accounting fraud wherein it admitted faking revenue to the tune of over $300 million , appears to be attempting to bounce back even after its hefty troubles.  Luckin has said that it's secured a $250 million investment commitment from two Chinese private equity firms, Centurium Capital and Joy Capital, both of whom were existing shareholders of the company before committing the funding. Under their set terms, they'll purchase preferred shares of Luckin Coffee, which was delisted from the Nasdaq stock market last year and now trades over-the-counter. Centurium Capital will invest $240 million while Joy Capital is ponying up a much smaller $10 million. The new capital for Luckin is akin to a bailout that the company hopes to use to rebound its business.  Unsurprisingly, Luckin says that it'll use the new capital it just secured to help pay a hefty $180 million fin

Market Moves: Squarespace Unveils S-1 For Direct Listing

Squarespace, the popular web building and hosting company, has unveiled its S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company had before now  filed confidentially for a public listing  this January and raised funding valuing it at $10 billion in March. As usual, the S-1 filing gives a peek into Squarespace's business and financials with information not publicly known before. In Squarespace's case, it paints a picture of a rapidly growing company with a history of profitability, the latter of which's a rarity among the recent crop of public listings from the startup world. Squarespace has been profitable for the past three years even as it grew rapidly. From 2018 to 2020, the company's annual revenue grew from $390 million to $621 million while it maintained profitability in the tens of millions. In 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively, Squarespace reported a profit of $43 million, $58 mi

BlackRock, Temasek Team To Launch $600M Climate-Focused Fund

BlackRock and Temasek, two investment giants of which the former is American and the latter is a sovereign fund of the Government of Singapore, have teamed up to form a big investment fund that'll focus on climate change-centric and green investments. The new fund is named Decarbonization Partners and just like its name suggests will seek out deals for companies working on carbon reduction cum sustainability technologies.  Initially, BlackRock and Temasek have committed $600M to Decarbonization Partners, and the firm as a separate entity has a target to raise $1 billion for its first fund including capital from its anchors BlackRock and Temasek. With the focus on sustainability and climate change growing day by day, it's usual that institutional investors with big loads of capital have turned their ever-deal-seeking eyes towards the sector.  BlackRock's longtime CEO Larry Fink is one of the fore-running business executives pressing for action on climate change globally. Ear

SPAC: Record $40B Merger Deal Sealed By Singapore's Grab

Pertaining true to rumors, Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing giant dominating Southeast Asia, has officially agreed to a deal to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  This time, Grab isn't like other mergers as the $39.6 billion  pro forma equity value that it's negotiated makes the merger the biggest one to date. Deal Details: Grab is merging with Altimeter Growth Corp. (Nasdaq: “AGC”) and will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange with the symbol "GRAB" after the merger.  From its merger, Grab will receive roughly $4.5 billion in gross cash proceeds with most of it coming from a $4 billion PIPE round led by a $750 million commitment from Altimeter Capital, the very sponsor of the SPAC it's merging with.  Grab's merger is not just the biggest ever SPAC deal but is also expected to mark the biggest US equity offering by a company in Southeast Asia. It sets Grab on the global stage outside Southeast Asia where it doesn'

Kim Kardashian’s Shapewear Brand Skims Valued At $1.6B With VC Round

A popular shapewear brand founded by reality TV star Kim Kardashian has raised a round of venture capital funding giving it a robust valuation. Skims, the shapewear brand, has raised a $154 million round giving it a valuation of $1.6 billion. The round was led by Thrive Capital, a VC firm founded and chaired by Joshua Kushner, the husband of model Karlie Kloss and brother of former Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner. Existing investors Imaginary Ventures and Alliance Consumer Growth also participated in the round. Skims' $154 million round was a Series A round and the shapewear brand's first big outside round. It signals major success for the brand launched just two years ago by Kardashian. According to reports , the brand made $145 million in sales last year. Kardashian guided Skims to make a few hundreds of millions in sales in just two years on the backs of her fame and social media power. Skims has gained popularity with young shoppers with its shapewear and bodysuits made

Jessica Alba's Honest Company Files For IPO

A consumer goods company founded by popular actress Jessica Alba is the latest company to file for a listing on the public markets. That company is The Honest Company, which was started ten years ago by a team led by Alba. With Alba's popularity, she helped steer The Honest Company into a high sphere of popularity that has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. The company sells a variety of household products with a major pitch of being eco-friendly. The Honest Company has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering. As usual, the S-1 filing gives a strong insight into the company's business with information not publicly known before. The Honest Company made $301 million in revenue in 2020, compared to $236 million in 2019. The company isn't profitable, reporting a net loss of $14.5 million in 2020 and $31 million in 2019. The Honest Company on Friday filed to sell $100 million worth of shares on the public marke

KKR Gets Bullish On Cloud Storage Company Box, Invests $500M

Private equity giant KKR has gotten bullish on Box, the publicly traded cloud storage company, and backed up its bullishness with a big investment in the company.  KKR has agreed to invest $500 million in Box in the form of convertible preferred stock, giving hopes and much-needed backing to the company amid its struggles with activist investor Starboard Value LP which has pushed for a sale. Last month, Box was reported to be exploring selling itself amid pressure from hedge fund Starboard over its stock performance. Compared to its peers, Box's stock performance has lagged over the years, pulled down by intense competition in its turf from the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox. Under the terms of KKR's Box investment, it'll get a board seat at the company that'll be occupied by John Park, the firm's Head of Americas Technology Private Equity. Also, Box's founder and longtime Chairman and CEO Aaron Levie will give up his Chairman position but retain his

Ex Starbucks Boss Howard Schultz Invests In Cybersecurity Startup Wiz

Howard Schultz, the former chairman and chief executive officer of coffee chain giant Starbucks, has put a small part of his $5 billion+ fortune to buy a stake in a hot cybersecurity startup named Wiz. Wiz is a cloud security startup founded by serial entrepreneurs that sold their previous cybersecurity startup named Adallom to Microsoft for a reported $320 million. Just a year-old, Wiz recently closed a $130 million funding round valuing it at $1.7 billion , a round that Howard Schultz participated in according to Bloomberg . Schultz's participation in Wiz's recent funding round wasn't reported before. He joined others like Sequoia Capital, Insight Partners, and Greenoaks Capital in the round.  Schultz has previously invested in other startups like Swedish plant-based milk maker Oatly and mental health care provider Lyra Health. With a fortune of over $5 billion, he can very much afford to invest in many startups without even worrying about recouping his investments. Wiz

Larry Page's Air Taxi Startup Sues Rival Archer Aviation

An air taxi startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page has initiated legal battles with one of its main rivals. The startup, Wisk Aero, is suing rival Archer Aviation, which's on its way to the public markets through a SPAC merger . Wisk Aero, a joint venture between aerospace giant Boeing and Larry Page's air taxi startup Kitty Hawk, is accusing Archer of intellectual property theft facilitated by former employees who left Wisk to work for the company.  Wisk alleges that certain former employees that previously worked for the company before heading to Archer downloaded thousands of files related to its confidential aircraft designs, component designs, system designs, manufacturing, and test data. To make its case, Wisk has centered on an aircraft design recently unveiled by Archer which's strikingly similar to a design that it developed and submitted in a confidential patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in January 2020. It's shown in the

SoftBank Makes Big Biotech Bet On Genetic Testing Firm Invitae

Japanese investor SoftBank has made a big bet in the biotech world, this time on a publicly-traded genetic testing company named Invitae (NYSE: NVTA). SB Management, a SoftBank subsidiary, led a $1.2 billion convertible bond investment for Invitae that gives the company ample cash to further its growth initiatives. SB Management is SoftBank's asset management group that owns billions of dollars in global stocks. It's separate from SoftBank's famed $100 billion Vision Fund that also makes big bets on global companies. By leading a $1.2B investment in Invitae, SoftBank has added the company to its list of major biotech public holdings which also include Canadian antibody developer AbCellera, 4D Molecular Therapeutics Inc, and DNA-sequencing company Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. Invitae is a genetic testing company offering test services for diseases in a range of areas, including neurology, pediatric genetics, and reproductive health. The company's appeal lies in

LG Backs Out Of Smartphone Business

You can say it's a sad day for the smartphone industry, as it just lost one of its major players. That lost player is South Korea's LG Electronics, which has announced  that it's shuttering its mobile phone business worldwide to focus on other sectors. The decision from LG effectively pulls it out of the smartphone business where it worked hard and tried as much as possible to gain a foothold but is apparently not satisfied with its outcome.  Officially, LG Electronics will wound down its mobile phone business on the 31st of July, 2021, meaning no more new inventory of LG smartphones. The company says it'll continue to provide support and software updates for current LG mobile owners for a "period of time", albeit unspecified, that'll vary by region.  LG's smartphone business is known to have lost money for years, so it seems that LG got tired of bleeding cash in a business that's rife with intense competition globally. Rumors flying around is that

Pinterest Reportedly In Talks To Buy Photo App VSCO

It's been reported that Pinterest, the famous social bookmarking site, is holding talks to buy VSCO, a popular photography app with a social aspect. Pinterest has held talks to buy the popular photo app according to The New York Times . Though not confirmed, Pinterest is an ideal suitor in a case where VSCO is seeking to sell to another company. Both companies overlap very much, being in the social media space with a focus on high-quality images and videos. As to price, Pinterest can very much afford VSCO thanks to a large cash balance of nearly $700 million as of the end of 2020 and a market value of $49 billion if shares are used to finance the purchase.  VSCO, a ten-year-old startup, has raised about $90 million in funding and was valued at $550 million from its last funding round. Given that, a Pinterest acquisition would likely be priced in the hundreds of millions of dollars or even over a billion. VSCO is a very popular app with 100 million registered users. of which over tw

Scooter Braun Sells Media Firm Ithaca Holdings For $1B

Music mogul Scooter Braun has sealed a deal to sell his media company Ithaca Holdings to HYBE, a South Korean entertainment company that's home to the mega-popular boy band BTS.  HYBE will buy 100% of Braun's Ithaca Holdings through its wholly-owned subsidiary HYBE America. With its purchase, it'll take over Ithaca's two main businesses which are  SB Projects , a music management and marketing firm whose clients include Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande; and record label Big Machine Records . Braun pulled together a deal to buy Big Machine Records for $300 million in 2019. His company Ithaca Holdings financed the purchase with an investment from private equity firm Carlyle Group, which's now exiting all of its stake in the company to HYBE. Braun's deal to buy Big Machine Records famously saw him spar with pop star Taylor Swift who launched her storied career at the record label. Swift complained of Ithaca buying Big Machine Records which included the masters of h

UFC Owner Endeavor Files Again For IPO

Endeavor, an entertainment company that owns several businesses including the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC)  sports league, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) once again after abandoning an earlier effort in 2019. Endeavor has sought to go public again after it abandoned earlier efforts to do so due to unfavorable market conditions. It has made some notable changes as it's seeking an IPO for the second time, including the nomination of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to its board of directors. According to its S-1 filing , Endeavor brought in $3.48 billion in revenue for 2020, down from $4.57 billion the previous year. The revenue drop over the year isn't surprising as the 2020 pandemic negatively affected live entertainment activities, particularly the UFC live events for Endeavor. Endeavor's major businesses are the UFC sports league and talent and marketing agencies WME and IMG. Its three primary business segments are sports leagues, talent representat

Microsoft Wins $22B Deal To Supply US Army With HoloLens AR Glasses

Microsoft has won a big contract to equip the US Army with special versions of its HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headsets following a $480 million prototyping contract that was declared successful.  After successful prototyping, Microsoft's deal to equip the US Army with HoloLens AR headsets has moved into the production phase, with an order for over 120,000 units of the device. It's a supply contract potentially worth $21.9 billion over the next 10 years, Microsoft confirmed to CNBC . In its press release , the US Army confirmed its order of HoloLens AR headsets for its infantry and stated that the program is aimed "to deliver next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Close Combat Force (CCF) at the speed of relevance." It implies that the HoloLens headsets will see their use in the warfront. The program under which the US Army has sought Microsoft's HoloLens is dubbed "Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS)." I

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Market Moves: Squarespace Unveils S-1 For Direct Listing

Squarespace, the popular web building and hosting company, has unveiled its S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company had before now  filed confidentially for a public listing  this January and raised funding valuing it at $10 billion in March. As usual, the S-1 filing gives a peek into Squarespace's business and financials with information not publicly known before. In Squarespace's case, it paints a picture of a rapidly growing company with a history of profitability, the latter of which's a rarity among the recent crop of public listings from the startup world. Squarespace has been profitable for the past three years even as it grew rapidly. From 2018 to 2020, the company's annual revenue grew from $390 million to $621 million while it maintained profitability in the tens of millions. In 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively, Squarespace reported a profit of $43 million, $58 mi

BlackRock, Temasek Team To Launch $600M Climate-Focused Fund

BlackRock and Temasek, two investment giants of which the former is American and the latter is a sovereign fund of the Government of Singapore, have teamed up to form a big investment fund that'll focus on climate change-centric and green investments. The new fund is named Decarbonization Partners and just like its name suggests will seek out deals for companies working on carbon reduction cum sustainability technologies.  Initially, BlackRock and Temasek have committed $600M to Decarbonization Partners, and the firm as a separate entity has a target to raise $1 billion for its first fund including capital from its anchors BlackRock and Temasek. With the focus on sustainability and climate change growing day by day, it's usual that institutional investors with big loads of capital have turned their ever-deal-seeking eyes towards the sector.  BlackRock's longtime CEO Larry Fink is one of the fore-running business executives pressing for action on climate change globally. Ear

IPO: Drug Discovery Firm Recursion Pharma Debuts On Markets

Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a company using machine learning to hunt for new drugs and therapies for ailments, has raised $436 million from an initial public offering (IPO) and begun trading on the public markets. It sold roughly 24.2 million shares for $18 each to raise that amount. Recursion Pharma filed for an IPO last month in March. Debuting at $18 per share on the markets, it closed trading on Friday up more than 70% at $31.34, giving it a market value of over $5 billion. A seven-year-old company, Recursion is part of a group of companies that emerged in the past few years to harness the rapid development and improvement in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in recent years and apply them to drug discovery. Recursion uses AI and machine learning to help discover new drugs. Its customers are primarily pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer, which has a collaborative agreement with it to seek new drugs for fibrotic diseases. Bayer bought a $50 million stake i

Coinbase Insiders Cash Out Big On Market Debut

After its recent debut on the public markets, several major shareholders of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase have apparently seen fit to cash out big sums of their stakes collectively amounting to billions of dollars. Among such insiders include Coinbase's founder and CEO Brian Armstrong and early VC investors Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures (USV). Brian Armstrong, Coinbase's CEO, sold around 750,000 shares in three separate transactions and netted $292 million from the sales, as indicated by an SEC filing . The sale represents less than 2% of his total holdings in the company. Just like Armstrong, Coinbase's other co-founder Fred Ehrsam sold 298,789 Class A shares at a weighted-average price of $374.72 and netted $112 million. He sold shares on Coinbase's Wednesday debut at prices ranging from $318.67 to $422.76. Coinbase's CFO Allesia Hass sold 255,500 shares at a price of $388.73 and netted roughly $99 million. It represents roughly 15% of her h

China's Luckin Coffee Gets $250M Investment After Fraud Fallout

Luckin Coffee, the once high-flying Chinese coffee chain startup that came crashing down on the heels of a major accounting fraud wherein it admitted faking revenue to the tune of over $300 million , appears to be attempting to bounce back even after its hefty troubles.  Luckin has said that it's secured a $250 million investment commitment from two Chinese private equity firms, Centurium Capital and Joy Capital, both of whom were existing shareholders of the company before committing the funding. Under their set terms, they'll purchase preferred shares of Luckin Coffee, which was delisted from the Nasdaq stock market last year and now trades over-the-counter. Centurium Capital will invest $240 million while Joy Capital is ponying up a much smaller $10 million. The new capital for Luckin is akin to a bailout that the company hopes to use to rebound its business.  Unsurprisingly, Luckin says that it'll use the new capital it just secured to help pay a hefty $180 million fin

SPAC: Record $40B Merger Deal Sealed By Singapore's Grab

Pertaining true to rumors, Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing giant dominating Southeast Asia, has officially agreed to a deal to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  This time, Grab isn't like other mergers as the $39.6 billion  pro forma equity value that it's negotiated makes the merger the biggest one to date. Deal Details: Grab is merging with Altimeter Growth Corp. (Nasdaq: “AGC”) and will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange with the symbol "GRAB" after the merger.  From its merger, Grab will receive roughly $4.5 billion in gross cash proceeds with most of it coming from a $4 billion PIPE round led by a $750 million commitment from Altimeter Capital, the very sponsor of the SPAC it's merging with.  Grab's merger is not just the biggest ever SPAC deal but is also expected to mark the biggest US equity offering by a company in Southeast Asia. It sets Grab on the global stage outside Southeast Asia where it doesn'

Crypto Exchange Coinbase Fined $6.5M For False Reporting, "Wash Trading"

Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency exchange that's on its way to a blockbuster IPO , has been fined to the tune of $6.5 million by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to settle charges of "reckless false, misleading, or inaccurate reporting" and "wash trading" by the crypto exchange. Coinbase has been ordered to pay a $6.5 million civil monetary penalty and cease and desist from any further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act or CFTC regulations, as charged. Coinbase's charges of  " reckless false, misleading, or inaccurate reporting"  stems from allegations of the company failing to disclose to the CFTC as required that it was operating more than one automated trading program and trading through multiple accounts on its own GDAX trading platform (now Coinbase Pro).   The automated trading led to perceived trading and liquidity volumes that were misleading to traders and data brokers and such was illegal. For the charges of &q

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

Morgan Stanley Bets Big On Skillz

Morgan Stanley, the well-known investment bank and financial services firm, is betting big on Skillz, a mobile gaming company that recently debuted on the public markets by the way of a reverse merger with a blank-check firm.  On the 9th of December, 2020, just a few days before Skillz completed its merger with the blank-check firm Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp, Morgan Stanley submitted a filing to the SEC that indicated it held an 18.8% stake in Flying Eagle.  With Skillz having completed its merger with Flying Eagle on Friday, Morgan Stanley's stake in the blank-check firm has been converted into Skillz stock and made it a major investor in the mobile gaming company. Skillz enjoyed a stellar debut that saw it soar high on its first day of trading. Now, the company trades at $20.92 per share with a market cap of over $7 billion. It seems that Morgan Stanley has found something very attractive in Skillz and thus secured a large stake in the company ahead of its debut. Skillz is

Jessica Alba's Honest Company Files For IPO

A consumer goods company founded by popular actress Jessica Alba is the latest company to file for a listing on the public markets. That company is The Honest Company, which was started ten years ago by a team led by Alba. With Alba's popularity, she helped steer The Honest Company into a high sphere of popularity that has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. The company sells a variety of household products with a major pitch of being eco-friendly. The Honest Company has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering. As usual, the S-1 filing gives a strong insight into the company's business with information not publicly known before. The Honest Company made $301 million in revenue in 2020, compared to $236 million in 2019. The company isn't profitable, reporting a net loss of $14.5 million in 2020 and $31 million in 2019. The Honest Company on Friday filed to sell $100 million worth of shares on the public marke