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Showing posts from June, 2021

SPAC: Online Grocer Boxed To Go Public In $900M Deal

Boxed , an online wholesaler of groceries and related products, is the latest tech startup going public through a SPAC merger. It's agreed to merge with  Seven Oaks Acquisition Corp. [Nasdaq: SVOK] to become a public company. Details The merger deal values Boxed at approximately $900mn, precisely $887mn. It's a solid valuation for a startup that reportedly rebuffed a $500mn acquisition offer (from grocery chain Kroger) in 2018. From its merger, Boxed will get $259mn of cash held in trust by Seven Oaks and then a $120mn PIPE round from a group of asset managers. The PIPE round includes the sale of equity ($32mn) as well as convertible bonds ($88mn).  All in, Boxed will emerge with $334mn of net cash proceeds from its merger. That's even more than the $244mn of venture funding it's raised in total as a privately-held startup. Boxed is a "big box" grocery e-tailer, that is corporate-speak for wholesales. Its platform is focused on bulk-sized shopping, whereby

Covid-19: Novavax Says Vaccine 90% Effective

An American biotech firm working on a vaccine for Covid-19 has announced very positive results from its trials. That firm is Novavax , a reputed vaccine maker that began working on a Covid vaccine late last year. Novavax said its vaccine demonstrated 90.4% efficacy against Covid-19 from a sample of nearly 30k participants in the US and Mexico. At that, it plans to file for authorization with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year. Novavax seems late to the game after successful Covid vaccines for the US have already been developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It's yet to receive authorization at a time when hundreds of millions of Pfizer and Moderna doses have already been sold in the US and abroad. Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, Novavax's Covid vaccine is protein-based rather than the mRNA technology the two companies decided to work with. The use of proteins is a long-established way of making vaccines compared to the mRNA which is new to mass production. There ap

Space: Rocket Trip With Jeff Bezos Sells For $28M

A seat on a planned short space trip by Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has been auctioned off for a large amount - $28mn . That emerged as the winning bid from a group of 7,600 people across 159 countries. The $28mn bid was won by a yet-to-be-identified person, who will take a short trip to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. He/she will tag along with Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos on the trip to the edge of space. It'll be a short 11-minute trip to suborbital space and back as the first crewed mission undertaken by Blue Origin. It's a critical first space trip with humans aboard since Blue Origin was founded in 2000. The ride aboard Blue Origin's rocket is scheduled for July 20, barely two weeks after Bezos will step down as Amazon's CEO and become Chairman. It seems he has been waiting all this while to relinquish his CEO duties and take a trip to space. Blue Origin's first crewed mission is a thing of p

Markets: Patrick Drahi Invests $3B In UK Carrier BT

A certain shrewd telecom investor has made his latest big bet by buying a big stake in a UK carrier. That investor is Swiss-based billionaire Patrick Drahi , who has bought a £2.2bn ($3.1bn) stake in the BT Group , the largest provider of broadband and mobile services in the UK. Drahi invested in BT via  Altice UK , a newly incorporated entity wholly owned by him.  Altice is the name of the telecom giant he founded and built up with a series of big, highly-leveraged buyouts of telecom outfits globally. BT appears to be the latest leveraged bet in that regard. Drahi's investment in BT gives him a minority (12.1%) stake in the publicly-traded company, unlike his usual deals where he buys majority control of telecom firms. At that, he's pledged not to launch a takeover bid for the company within six months, with some exceptions . While we aren't in Drahi's head, we can speculate that he sees the rise of 5G technology in the UK as a major catalyst that'll boost BT'

Fintech: Sweden's Klarna Raises $640M, Valued At $46B

  Klarna, Europe's premier "buy now, pay later" financing startup has closed a big new round of funding. It's confirmed a $639mn financing round valuing it a whopping $45.6bn. The financing round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, a new investor in the company. Other existing investors including Adit Ventures and WestCap Group also chipped into the round. With a $46bn valuation, Klarna has taken the top spot as the most valuable privately-held tech startup in Europe, according to CB Insights data . Globally, it's the second-most valuable, only beaten by American payments processor  Stripe . A company based out of Sweden, Klarna has built itself into the leading "buy now, pay later" provider globally, beating out Afterpay in Australia and Affirm in America. The company reported $1.1bn in net revenue on a gross merchandise volume of $53bn in 2020. After conquering many markets in Europe, Klarna's major focus is now in the US, where it launched i

Deal: Blackstone Buys Data Center Operator QTS For $10B

Private equity giant Blackstone has once again made a big bet in the tech industry, this time on a major operator of data centers within North America and Europe. That operator is  QTS Realty Trust , a publicly-traded company. Blackstone has agreed to pay $10bn in cash to buy all outstanding shares of QTS on the public markets, effectively taking control of the company. It'll pay $78 per common stock of QTS, a 21% premium to the company's share price on the day it announced the deal. Blackstone's acquisition agreement with QTS includes a 40-day “go-shop” period where the data center company can seek competing bids rivaling Blackstone's offer. That window closes on the 17th of July, 2021. The $10bn price tag of Blackstone's bid sums up to 19x QTS's revenue of $539mn and several hundred times its net income of $15mn in 2020. At that high multiple, it's obvious Blackstone really wants the company. QTS was founded in 2003. It's a leading data center operato

SPAC: Self-Driving Startup Plus To Go Public In $3.3B Deal

An autonomous driving startup with its major operations in the US and China is the latest tech company that's set to hit the public markets through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). That startup is Plus (formerly Plus.ai), one focused on automated trucking. Plus has agreed to a deal to merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC) and become a public company. The terms of the merger value the self-driving startup at $3.3bn. From its merger, Plus will get $345mn of cash held in trust by HCIC and then a $150mn PIPE round from investors including BlackRock and the D. E. Shaw Group. That sums up to a cool $495mn for the company to fund its operations. The cash from its SPAC merger is crucial for Plus, as a company that plans to kick off mass production of its product this year.  Plus sells a stack of hardware and complementary software to enable automated driving for trucks. Its main customer base is truck manufacturers, such as China's F

Markets: Zoom, Salesforce Invest In Monday.com's IPO

The stock market devotees of the tech world should be aware of Monday.com, an Israeli software company that filed for a US IPO last month May. After filing, Monday.com recently had a successful market debut, with two big names chipping in cash to invest. The two big names are Zoom , the popular video-conferencing software company, and CRM software giant Salesforce . They each bought Monday.com shares worth $75mn at its IPO price and got a modest paper profit as the company soared 15% on its first trading day. Soaring 15%, the $75mn of shares each bought by Salesforce and Zoom produced a one-day gain of $11.6mn. It's a benefit of being a strategic investor whereas it got to purchase shares at the floor IPO price like the bankers underwriting the listing. Though, the shares purchased by Zoom and Salesforce are subject to lock-up restrictions and can't be sold for a period of 180 days. It means the profit is only on paper for now and could get reversed at the whims of the market.

Chinese Rideshare Giant Didi Files For US IPO

It's a landmark time for the business world, as one of the biggest tech giants from China has filed for an IPO on the US markets. That giant is Didi Chuxing , China's biggest ride-hailing company just like Uber in the US. As one of the biggest privately-held tech companies in China that's only surpassed by TikTok owner ByteDance, Didi's IPO has been long-awaited. Now, the filing for that has dropped upon us like a quiet bomb. As usual, we'll be dissecting some important information from Didi's F-1 filing , especially its revenue figures. The F-1 provides long-awaited insight into the business of Didi as China's premier on-demand transportation company. Figures Didi reported $21.6bn in revenue in 2020, up 11% from the previous year. It wasn't profitable on a net basis for that year, reporting a $1.6bn net loss. However, in the first quarter of 2021, Didi declared a net income of $837mn (before certain shareholder payouts) on $6.4bn in revenue. Meanwhile,

Alert: Roblox Faces Major Lawsuit Over Music Rights

Shortly after a very successful public listing, gaming platform Roblox now has a formidable obstacle to face. It's getting sued by a group of music publishers alleging exploitation by their music being used on the Roblox platform without permission or payment. The music group suing Roblox includes Universal Music Publishing, Big Machine Records, and popular DJ Deadmau5. They're represented by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and seeking at least $200mn in damages. The major allegation against Roblox is that it sells its users the option to insert virtual music players into games they create and that play copyrighted music by artists without compensating writers and copyright holders.  As such, the NMPA asserts that Roblox is enabling piracy with its user base, which skews towards young kids. “Roblox actively preys on its impressionable user base and their desire for popular music, teaching children that pirating music is perfectly acceptable,” the complaint s

Markets: Retailer Target Hikes Dividend

Mega retailer Target has moved to hike its shareholder dividend by a strong margin after a very good year financially. The retailer had strong sales of $93bn in 2020, wherein its yearly revenue growth percentage-wise was more than that of the preceding 11 years. Target has boosted its quarterly dividend by 32% to 90 cents per common share. Before that, its quarterly dividend was 68 cents per common share. Based on its new dividend, Target's implied yearly dividend yield has risen to 1.55% based on its closing share price of $231.94 on Wednesday. That's on par with some major rivals like Walmart's 1.57%. Target says its stronger cash flow is sufficient to fund its dividend hike as well as support capital investments for business growth. It's a testament to staying strong in a pandemic with the help of online sales and on-demand delivery. Though physical retail sales were greatly affected by the pandemic, retailers like Target and Walmart that have made strategic investm

Crypto: MicroStrategy Offers More Junk Bonds To Buy BTC

There's been one company at the forefront of promoting bitcoin use in the corporate world - MicroStrategy . It's bought a few billion dollars worth of bitcoin, financed by its own cash flow as well as borrowings on the bond market. Now, MicroStrategy is back again on the bond market to raise cash to buy bitcoin. This is despite its own indication of expecting to report an impairment loss of $285mn  in its next earnings report due to fluctuation in the price of bitcoin that it holds. MicroStrategy is selling $500mn worth of high-yield bonds, fondly called junk bonds, to buy bitcoin. The bonds are senior notes due by 2028, with an annual interest of 6.125%. MicroStrategy apparently is dazzled with bitcoin, such that after selling $1.6bn worth of bonds last year to buy it, it's back on the block to sell $500mn more. In fact, it originally planned to sell $400mn but topped $100mn more at the last minute. Buying bitcoin is how MicroStrategy has drawn the attention of many inves

SPAC: EV Startup Lordstown Motors Is In Trouble

You may have heard of this story before - an electric car startup launches, then makes very big promises to investors as it sought to go public through a SPAC merger. But, it later turned out that those promises were a sham. In the above short story, that was Nikola , the troubled electric car startup that was the first company to test the waters of the current SPAC boom. Now, that story is likely repeating itself with another company - Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ: RIDE) . In a recent filing to the SEC , Lordstown warned that it doesn't have sufficient capital to fund commercial-scale production of its electric truck. This is despite raising $675mn from its SPAC merger last year. With its admission of lacking capital, Lordstown is definitely in financial trouble if further investment isn't secured. The question is will investors will be willing to give it loads of cash once again? Lordstown's recent admission is just much in contrast with its sentiment at the time of its SPAC

Airport Security Company Clear Secure Files For IPO

Clear Secure, a biometric identity company serving airports, is headed for an initial public offering. It's unveiled an S-1 document filed with the SEC to that end, seeking to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Clear Secure provides biometric identities that help people get checked easily at airports and skip usual long lines and wait times. It doesn't stop at airports but is also used at other venues such as sports stadiums. Clear Secure's business model is charging the users of its biometric identity app, and it's a solid one that produced north of $200mn in sales last year. As usual, we're breaking down some of the important bits from Clear Secure's S-1 filing, mostly on its revenue figures. By the Numbers Clear brought in $231mn in revenue in 2020, compared to $192mn in the previous year.  The company isn't profitable on a net basis, with a small net loss of $9.3mn in 2020, way down from $54mn in the previous year. Highlights The Clear that we see rig

EVs: Ford Unveils New Hybrid Pickup Truck

American automaker Ford is surely committed to electric vehicles. For proof, just shortly after unveiling an all-electric version of its popular F-150 pickup truck, it's now unveiled a new hybrid truck named Maverick . The hybrid Maverick is a compact pickup powered by an electric motor in addition to a gasoline engine. Though, it isn't a plug-in hybrid so owners won't be able to charge it for extra electric-only driving range. The Maverick truck is a 2022 model with a starting price of $20k, cheap by normal truck standards. At the high-end versions, it'll sell for $30k+. Features and specs of the Ford Maverick truck include: Estimated 500 miles of range on a single tank of gas (37 miles-per-gallon) Max payload of 1,500 pounds of cargo and 2,000 pounds of tow, for the base version. Front-wheel drive engine layout, quite uncommon for a pickup Standard in-car entertainment such as Apple Carplay and Android Auto The Ford Maverick comes in three versions -  XL , XLT and

Warren Buffett Makes A Rare Startup Bet, In Brazil

Warren Buffett is a legendary investor, one known for making a huge fortune from buying and selling stakes in many companies. Via his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has led investments in many companies across many industries. Though, in his long investing career, Buffett has largely shied away from one area - tech startups and companies. Paraphrasing his own words, it's because he "didn't understand it".  As time has progressed, Buffett has somewhat become friendly with tech investments, starting with bigger names like Apple and IBM, and then Paytm , India's premier fintech startup. Now, in his latest tech bet, Buffett's Berkshire has ventured into Brazil to the country's premier fintech startup, just like it did in India.  Berkshire has bought a $500mn stake  in Nubank , a premier neobank and the largest fintech startup in Brazil and Latin America at large. The investment is part of a $750mn round for the company at a reported valuation of $30bn.  At

Markets: Legal-Tech Startup LegalZoom Refiles For IPO

LegalZoom, a foremost legal-tech startup, has sought to hit the public markets again with an initial public offering. This is the second time it's doing so after it previously filed for an IPO back in 2012 but withdrew its filing two years later. Now, nearly a decade after its first attempt, the company has filed an S-1 document for an IPO with the US SEC. It'll list on the Nasdaq stock exchange. LegalZoom is a platform that helps its customers create legal documents without having to hire lawyers at significant costs. Basically, the company provides templates for legal documents that its users can then tweak to their own legal use cases. As its business model, LegalZoom charges customers on different tiers for access to a library of legal documents for specific cases. It's a solid business model on that end. As usual, we'll break down important bits from a company's S-1 filing, mostly on revenue figures. In this case, as LegalZoom has filed an S-1 before, we'l

Alert: FDA Approves New Alzheimer's Drug From Biogen

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted a landmark approval for a new drug to treat Alzheimer's , a neurologic disorder that affects millions worldwide. It's the first medication cleared by US regulators to treat the ailment in two decades. The drug granted clearance is  Aduhelm made by Cambridge-based Biogen. It's a branded name for  Aducanumab , a medication that works by removing sticky deposits of a protein called amyloid beta found in the brains of early Alzheimer's patients, with the hopes of reducing the ailment's buildup. As a note, Aduhelm is not a cure for Alzheimer's, but a way to attack what is believed to be an underlying cause in the disease in its early stages. It can't be used to tackle Alzheimer's that has already progressed to later stages. Aduhelm will cost $56k per year to patients.  The FDA clearance for Aduhelm came despite objections from many in the scientific and medical community, where there has been a fierce

SPAC: Banking App Dave To Go Public In $4B Deal

In the world of special-purpose acquisition companies, there are new mergers unveiled every day. This day, the new merger on the block is Dave , a banking app backed by investors including Mark Cuban. Dave has agreed to merge with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings III, Inc. (NYSE: VPCC) and become a public company. That's the SPAC sponsored by Victory Park Capital, an investor in Dave before now. The deal terms of Dave's merger value the banking startup at $4bn. The merger will see Dave get $254mn of cash held in trust by the VPC SPAC and then a $210mn PIPE round led by hedge fund Tiger Global.  As usual for SPAC deals, Dave's merger announcement came packaged with an investor presentation that provides strong insight into its business. It shows that the banking app, with 10 million users, made $122mn in revenue in 2020. Impressively, Dave was founded just four years ago and is now set for a $4bn exit on the public markets. Not many startups can boast of that growth and suc

Antitrust: Google Fined $270M By French Regulators

Google is once again in hot water with European regulators with monetary fines involved, this time in France. The country's competition watchdog has fined the tech giant 220mn euros ($268mn) for a charge of abusing its power in the online advertising industry. In a statement released on Monday, the French Competition Authority said Google had unfairly sent business to its own services on its own advertising platform while it discriminated against competitors.  The French authority said that Google "has not disputed the facts" of the charge brought against it and has agreed to end some of its self-preferencing practices. At that, the US tech giant has been ordered to pay a fine of 220mn euros ($268mn). Interestingly, Google agreed to pay $1bn to settle a tax dispute with French authorities in 2019. Now, just two years later, it's been hit with a $268mn fine in the same country. Alas, Google seems to have a thing for pissing off French authorities. The latest fine lev

Markets: Autodesk Pursues Takeover Of Rival Altium

Autodesk Inc, the owner of the famous go-to software for 3D design and construction, is pursuing a takeover of one of its main rivals. Autodesk has confirmed talks to buy Altium, a rival listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). It's submitted a non-binding proposal to buy Altium for A$38.50 per share, representing a 42% premium to Altium's closing share price on Friday, the 4th of June. Autodesk's proposal sums up to a price of A$5bn ($3.9bn) to buy Altium at a very strong premium to its current market cap. But still, Altium rejected the offer, saying that it "significantly undervalued" its prospects. Altium said it "rejects the proposal at the current price" and added that it would dialogue with interested parties for an appropriate valuation. It implies that the buyout rejection may not be final and could even go through, likely if Autodesk makes a higher bid. Just like Autodesk, Altium is an essential type of software used by engineers. Al

Chinese Jobs Site Boss Zhipin Sets US IPO Terms

A popular online jobs site in China is set to list on the US public markets very soon. That site is Boss Zhipin , operated by parent company  Kanzhun Ltd .  Last month May, Boss Zhipin's parent Kanzhun filed an F-1 document with the US SEC as required for foreign companies listing in the country's markets. Now, it's filed an updated F-1 document  that indicates the terms of its IPO. Kanzhun is seeking to raise as much as $912mn by selling 48 million American depositary shares at between $14 and $17 each. Each depositary share represents two ordinary shares.  At the mid-point of the set price range, Kanzhun will have a fully diluted market cap of $8.2bn. Kanzhun had $298mn in revenue in 2020, up 95% year-over-year. The company isn't profitable on a net basis, with a $144mn loss in 2020. Kanzhun's Boss Zhipin is a popular jobs site in China with 25 million monthly active users as reported in its F-1 filing. It makes money by charging companies for posting certain jobs

Deal: FireEye Sells Products Business, Name To A PE Firm

In the cybersecurity industry, there's been a unique deal that we feel is very worthy to report on. It's that of FireEye , the quite famous cybersecurity company, selling its Products division along with its brand name to a private equity firm. Simply put, FireEye has agreed to sell  its enterprise cybersecurity products division along with its brand name to a consortium led by private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG). The sale to Symphony is for a price of $1.2bn.  As the deal is structured, FireEye will shed off its Products business as well as its name to Symphony. It'll then now have its Mandiant threat intelligence business left and take on that name. Notably, Symphony bought the enterprise business of cybersecurity company McAfee this March, and it seems that the FireEye business will get merged with that. There's a bit of history between FireEye and Mandiant so let's see that. Circa-2010, FireEye was an independent company selling cybersecurity h

SPAC: UK's Babylon Health To Go Public In $4.2B Deal

Another tech startup from the UK has agreed to go public in the US by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). This time, it's Babylon Health , a telehealth app providing access to doctors and medical services. Babylon Health has agreed to merge with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: KURI) and become a public company. The merger terms value Babylon Health at $4.2bn. From the merger, Babylon will get $345mn of cash held in trust by Alkuri, then a $230mn PIPE round adding it up to $575mn. The PIPE round includes a strategic investor - data analytics company Palantir. From its investor presentation , it's indicated that Babylon Health made $79mn in revenue in 2020. In tune with the excessive projections we've become accustomed to in SPAC deals, the company then projects to have $710mn in annual sales by 2022.  Babylon makes money both from recurring subscriptions to its telehealth app as well as one-off fees for doctor consultations. On that end, it&#

Deal: Medical Supplier Medline Sells To PE Firms For $30B

Medline, a family-owned medical products business, is getting bought out by a group of private equity firms in what marks one of the biggest leveraged buyout deals since the 2008 financial crisis. Medline has agreed to sell a majority stake in its business to a partnership formed by Blackstone, Carlyle, and Hellman & Friedman. These are three private equity firms with hundreds of billions of assets under management between them. Though the deal terms weren't formally announced, reports peg it as valuing Medline around $30bn. Particularly, The Wall Street Journal  pegs it as valuing Medline at $34bn including debt and $30bn excluding debt.  At the reported $30bn net value and with the private equity firms buying a majority stake, it implies they're paying at least $15bn to the family that owns Medline, the Mills family .  A $30bn price isn't out of range for a company that reported $17.5bn in revenue in 2020. Then at that price, it marks one of the  biggest leveraged bu

Alert: Palantir Goes On SPAC Investing Spree

In our constant quest of tracing signals on the stock markets, we've picked up one subtle signal in the world of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), and it involves Palantir , the publicly traded data analytics company and a hot stock in its right. It happens that Palantir has gotten keen on investing in SPAC deals, at least six in less than three months. The latest deal was the merger of British telehealth startup Babylon Health which Palantir committed to invest in as part of a PIPE round. Before Babylon Health, Palantir had agreed to invest in the SPAC deals of Wejo , a British automotive data startup;  Lilium , a German air taxi company; Sarcos Robotics , a maker of industrial robots;  Celularity , a clinical-stage biotech company; and drugmaker Roivant Sciences . Palantir's focus on SPAC deals is unique among strategic investors, mainly for the fact that it's betting on more established companies that are often already valued in the billions of dollars. Pa

Cybersecurity Startup SentinelOne Files For IPO

If you've been in the news lately, you've likely been reminded of the eminent importance of cybersecurity given the numerous ransomware attacks in vogue right now. With many operations usually done offline now moving online, the need to protect data is now much more prominent, and cybersecurity has been strengthened as a hot industry at that. Now, one of the hottest startups in the hot cybersecurity industry has filed for an IPO. That startup is SentinelOne , part of a crop of startups to infuse artificial intelligence in the cybersecurity process.  SentinelOne has unveiled an S-1 filing for an IPO with the SEC. The filing shows its plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange. As usual, SentinelOne's S-1 filing provides great insight into the company's business with information publicly disclosed for the first time. Here, we're breaking down some of that information, mostly on its revenue stats. By the Numbers In the three months ending April 30, 2021, SentinelOn

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Warren Buffett Makes A Rare Startup Bet, In Brazil

Warren Buffett is a legendary investor, one known for making a huge fortune from buying and selling stakes in many companies. Via his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has led investments in many companies across many industries. Though, in his long investing career, Buffett has largely shied away from one area - tech startups and companies. Paraphrasing his own words, it's because he "didn't understand it".  As time has progressed, Buffett has somewhat become friendly with tech investments, starting with bigger names like Apple and IBM, and then Paytm , India's premier fintech startup. Now, in his latest tech bet, Buffett's Berkshire has ventured into Brazil to the country's premier fintech startup, just like it did in India.  Berkshire has bought a $500mn stake  in Nubank , a premier neobank and the largest fintech startup in Brazil and Latin America at large. The investment is part of a $750mn round for the company at a reported valuation of $30bn.  At

SPAC: Self-Driving Startup Plus To Go Public In $3.3B Deal

An autonomous driving startup with its major operations in the US and China is the latest tech company that's set to hit the public markets through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). That startup is Plus (formerly Plus.ai), one focused on automated trucking. Plus has agreed to a deal to merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC) and become a public company. The terms of the merger value the self-driving startup at $3.3bn. From its merger, Plus will get $345mn of cash held in trust by HCIC and then a $150mn PIPE round from investors including BlackRock and the D. E. Shaw Group. That sums up to a cool $495mn for the company to fund its operations. The cash from its SPAC merger is crucial for Plus, as a company that plans to kick off mass production of its product this year.  Plus sells a stack of hardware and complementary software to enable automated driving for trucks. Its main customer base is truck manufacturers, such as China's F

SPAC: EV Startup Lordstown Motors Is In Trouble

You may have heard of this story before - an electric car startup launches, then makes very big promises to investors as it sought to go public through a SPAC merger. But, it later turned out that those promises were a sham. In the above short story, that was Nikola , the troubled electric car startup that was the first company to test the waters of the current SPAC boom. Now, that story is likely repeating itself with another company - Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ: RIDE) . In a recent filing to the SEC , Lordstown warned that it doesn't have sufficient capital to fund commercial-scale production of its electric truck. This is despite raising $675mn from its SPAC merger last year. With its admission of lacking capital, Lordstown is definitely in financial trouble if further investment isn't secured. The question is will investors will be willing to give it loads of cash once again? Lordstown's recent admission is just much in contrast with its sentiment at the time of its SPAC

Space: Rocket Trip With Jeff Bezos Sells For $28M

A seat on a planned short space trip by Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has been auctioned off for a large amount - $28mn . That emerged as the winning bid from a group of 7,600 people across 159 countries. The $28mn bid was won by a yet-to-be-identified person, who will take a short trip to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. He/she will tag along with Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos on the trip to the edge of space. It'll be a short 11-minute trip to suborbital space and back as the first crewed mission undertaken by Blue Origin. It's a critical first space trip with humans aboard since Blue Origin was founded in 2000. The ride aboard Blue Origin's rocket is scheduled for July 20, barely two weeks after Bezos will step down as Amazon's CEO and become Chairman. It seems he has been waiting all this while to relinquish his CEO duties and take a trip to space. Blue Origin's first crewed mission is a thing of p

Covid-19: Novavax Says Vaccine 90% Effective

An American biotech firm working on a vaccine for Covid-19 has announced very positive results from its trials. That firm is Novavax , a reputed vaccine maker that began working on a Covid vaccine late last year. Novavax said its vaccine demonstrated 90.4% efficacy against Covid-19 from a sample of nearly 30k participants in the US and Mexico. At that, it plans to file for authorization with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year. Novavax seems late to the game after successful Covid vaccines for the US have already been developed by Pfizer and Moderna. It's yet to receive authorization at a time when hundreds of millions of Pfizer and Moderna doses have already been sold in the US and abroad. Unlike Moderna and Pfizer, Novavax's Covid vaccine is protein-based rather than the mRNA technology the two companies decided to work with. The use of proteins is a long-established way of making vaccines compared to the mRNA which is new to mass production. There ap

Alert: FDA Approves New Alzheimer's Drug From Biogen

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted a landmark approval for a new drug to treat Alzheimer's , a neurologic disorder that affects millions worldwide. It's the first medication cleared by US regulators to treat the ailment in two decades. The drug granted clearance is  Aduhelm made by Cambridge-based Biogen. It's a branded name for  Aducanumab , a medication that works by removing sticky deposits of a protein called amyloid beta found in the brains of early Alzheimer's patients, with the hopes of reducing the ailment's buildup. As a note, Aduhelm is not a cure for Alzheimer's, but a way to attack what is believed to be an underlying cause in the disease in its early stages. It can't be used to tackle Alzheimer's that has already progressed to later stages. Aduhelm will cost $56k per year to patients.  The FDA clearance for Aduhelm came despite objections from many in the scientific and medical community, where there has been a fierce

Alert: Roblox Faces Major Lawsuit Over Music Rights

Shortly after a very successful public listing, gaming platform Roblox now has a formidable obstacle to face. It's getting sued by a group of music publishers alleging exploitation by their music being used on the Roblox platform without permission or payment. The music group suing Roblox includes Universal Music Publishing, Big Machine Records, and popular DJ Deadmau5. They're represented by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and seeking at least $200mn in damages. The major allegation against Roblox is that it sells its users the option to insert virtual music players into games they create and that play copyrighted music by artists without compensating writers and copyright holders.  As such, the NMPA asserts that Roblox is enabling piracy with its user base, which skews towards young kids. “Roblox actively preys on its impressionable user base and their desire for popular music, teaching children that pirating music is perfectly acceptable,” the complaint s

Fintech: Sweden's Klarna Raises $640M, Valued At $46B

  Klarna, Europe's premier "buy now, pay later" financing startup has closed a big new round of funding. It's confirmed a $639mn financing round valuing it a whopping $45.6bn. The financing round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, a new investor in the company. Other existing investors including Adit Ventures and WestCap Group also chipped into the round. With a $46bn valuation, Klarna has taken the top spot as the most valuable privately-held tech startup in Europe, according to CB Insights data . Globally, it's the second-most valuable, only beaten by American payments processor  Stripe . A company based out of Sweden, Klarna has built itself into the leading "buy now, pay later" provider globally, beating out Afterpay in Australia and Affirm in America. The company reported $1.1bn in net revenue on a gross merchandise volume of $53bn in 2020. After conquering many markets in Europe, Klarna's major focus is now in the US, where it launched i

Markets: Zoom, Salesforce Invest In Monday.com's IPO

The stock market devotees of the tech world should be aware of Monday.com, an Israeli software company that filed for a US IPO last month May. After filing, Monday.com recently had a successful market debut, with two big names chipping in cash to invest. The two big names are Zoom , the popular video-conferencing software company, and CRM software giant Salesforce . They each bought Monday.com shares worth $75mn at its IPO price and got a modest paper profit as the company soared 15% on its first trading day. Soaring 15%, the $75mn of shares each bought by Salesforce and Zoom produced a one-day gain of $11.6mn. It's a benefit of being a strategic investor whereas it got to purchase shares at the floor IPO price like the bankers underwriting the listing. Though, the shares purchased by Zoom and Salesforce are subject to lock-up restrictions and can't be sold for a period of 180 days. It means the profit is only on paper for now and could get reversed at the whims of the market.

Crypto: MicroStrategy Offers More Junk Bonds To Buy BTC

There's been one company at the forefront of promoting bitcoin use in the corporate world - MicroStrategy . It's bought a few billion dollars worth of bitcoin, financed by its own cash flow as well as borrowings on the bond market. Now, MicroStrategy is back again on the bond market to raise cash to buy bitcoin. This is despite its own indication of expecting to report an impairment loss of $285mn  in its next earnings report due to fluctuation in the price of bitcoin that it holds. MicroStrategy is selling $500mn worth of high-yield bonds, fondly called junk bonds, to buy bitcoin. The bonds are senior notes due by 2028, with an annual interest of 6.125%. MicroStrategy apparently is dazzled with bitcoin, such that after selling $1.6bn worth of bonds last year to buy it, it's back on the block to sell $500mn more. In fact, it originally planned to sell $400mn but topped $100mn more at the last minute. Buying bitcoin is how MicroStrategy has drawn the attention of many inves