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Showing posts from June, 2021

Crypto: Cathie Wood's ARK Invest To Co-Launch Bitcoin ETF

Ark Invest, the famous 'contrarian' investment firm founded by Cathie Wood, has proposed to co-launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). The proposal was made known with a recent filing to the US SEC. Ark Invest is teaming up with  21Shares , a Swiss-based crypto company, to launch an ETF that will track the performance of Bitcoin. As it's structured, 21Shares is the one launching the ETF while Ark is assisting with marketing and validation.  To note, the US SEC hasn't approved any Bitcoin ETF despite 8 filings to it before Ark's own. It's uncertain if Ark's own will get approval. The new ETF proposed by Ark and 21Shares is named "ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF". As an exchange-traded fund, it won't be buying or selling any bitcoin directly but will make investments in assets tied to the performance of the cryptocurrency, such as Coinbase and the  Grayscale Bitcoin Trust which are two of Ark's current major holdings. Ark's Cathie Wood i

Ed: Music Mogul David Geffen Gives $150M To Yale University

A multi-billionaire who made his fortune starting as a music mogul has made a hefty donation to an Ivy League college that was already very rich to start with. He's David Geffen , who made his fortune selling his eponymous Geffen Records for $550mn in the 1990s and multiplied it with a string of savvy bets. David Geffen has donated $150mn to Yale University's School of Drama. It's one of the largest donations in the college's history, a college whose endowment already stood at $31bn  before the donation. With Geffen's donation, the sought-after Yale School of Drama will now be 100% tuition-free beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, the college says. As a caveat for the big donation, that particular School of Drama will now be called David Geffen School of Drama . This donation seems to be Geffen's second-biggest to higher ed after the $400mn+ he's given to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Geffen, a college dropout, infamously faked ha

Alert: Trading App Robinhood Fined $70M By Regulators

Robinhood, the popular stock trading app, will pay a record-setting $70mn fine levied by regulators against a stockbroker. The company has been fined that amount by the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for systemwide outages during crucial trading periods and misleading communication and trading practices. Robinhood will pay $57mn as an upfront penalty and make $13mn in restitution to some customers who lost money due to systemwide outages at some points. If you remember, Robinhood caught a lot of flak for serial outages at certain points of high trading activity on the markets. Also, Robinhood was accused by FINRA of providing false and misleading communication to customers regarding how they could trade, such as the risk of loss they faced when trading options, how much cash they had in their accounts, and if they faced margin calls. A case FINRA singled out was that of a Robinhood user who committed suicide  last year after seeing a large negative net balance on

Markets: Clickbait Giant Outbrain Files For IPO

Do you remember those bizarre ads you see below articles at many news sites you visit? that's if you don't use ad-blocking software anyways. For those that remember, we have news for you, one of the major peddlers of those ads will soon start trading on the public markets. The clickbait giant Outbrain , one of the two major ad-tech networks serving those bizarre ads (the other is Taboola), has filed for an IPO. It'll soon list on the Nasdaq stock exchange. If you think there isn't much money to be made peddling clickbait, you may be in for a surprise. Outbrain's S-1 filing shows the company made $767mn as revenue in 2020, and $687mn in 2019. In just the three months ended March 31, 2021, it made $228mn . On a net basis, Outbrain is currently profitable. It reported a $10.7mn net income in the three months ended March and $4.4mn in 2020. Surely, clickbait ads are a good business, notwithstanding our collective annoyance with them. With net profitability, Outbrain

Markets: Language Learning App Duolingo Files For IPO

Duolingo , that popular app for learning languages that trails you with ads everywhere you go on YouTube, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO). The company has unveiled an S-1 filing with the US SEC showing its intent to list on the Nasdaq stock market. Duolingo filed for an IPO after wrapping up a year that was very favorable to its business. It happens that the pandemic of 2020 drove people more towards mobile apps and Duolingo, a mix of learning and gaming, was a major beneficiary of it. From its S-1 filing, Duolingo shows that its annual sales rose from $71mn in 2019 to $162mn in 2020. That 129% jump is a testament to the recent year being a very good one for the company. On a net basis, Duolingo isn't profitable, though its net losses are usually small relative to its revenue. The company reported a net loss of $15.8mn in 2020, compared to $13.6mn in 2019. Duolingo reports having 39.9 million monthly active users and 9.5 million daily active users at the end of Marc

Alert: Facebook Notches $1T Market Cap For First Time

On the markets today, there's been a major event. It's that social media giant Facebook Inc has crossed a $1 trillion market cap for the first time ever, just after a US judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the company. Shortly after the dismissal, Facebook shares rose up nearly 5% to surpass a market cap of $1 trillion for the first time ever. It's a testament to frothy markets favoring Facebook, whose business has continued to soar despite major regulatory scrutiny the company is grappling with. For reference, Facebook reported  $26.2bn in revenue in the three months ended March 31, 2021. This was up 48% from the same period in 2020. The company stayed put on bringing in wads of cash from advertising on its Facebook and Instagram properties, which make up the vast majority of its sales.  Joining the $1 trillion club, Facebook can congratulate itself for being in an exclusive club. Only a few other companies have crossed th

Crypto Exchange Binance Restricted From Operating In UK

Regulators in the UK have warned that Binance, the popular crypto exchange, isn't allowed to legally operate in the country, shortly after regulators in Japan did the same. The warning came from the country's  Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which contests that Binance isn't permitted to undertake any regulated activities in the country. According to the FCA's statement , Binance is offering UK users trading services via its Binance.com website despite not being permitted to undertake any regulated activities in the country without the agency's approval. The FCA said that no entity as part of the wider Binance Group  holds any form of authorisation, registration or licence to conduct business in the country. This implies that Binance is operating in a regulatory grey area there, with users bearing all the risk if anything goes wrong. On Friday, a day before the UK's FCA issued its warning, a similar agency in Japan issued the same warning. The country's

Law: J&J To Pay $230M To Settle Opioid Case

Johnson & Johnson is a name that's largely recognizable to many people. The medical products and pharmaceuticals company has its name directly branded on many consumer-facing products and some not so directly.  While Johnson & Johnson has been famous for its medical products, it's also been infamous for certain controversies in there, such as a $2.2bn fine levied for false marketing of its products in 2013 and another $4.7bn penalty  in 2018 for claims of its talcum powder products causing cancer. Now, J&J is back with another settlement, this time for opioid products. The company has agreed to pay $230mn to settle a case in New York concerning its role in the opioid epidemic. It'll pay that sum over the course of nine years to the state of New York. The settlement stems from a case filed by New York's Attorney General Letitia James against several opioid manufacturers and their distributors in 2019. Among those sued in that case were J&J and the inf

EVs: VW To Stop Selling ICE Cars In Europe By 2035

German automaker Volkswagen has said it'll stop selling combustion engine cars in the whole of Europe by 2035 as it turns its attention towards electric vehicles. The statement came from a board member of the company speaking to the local  Muenchner Merkur newspaper. The board member in person was  Klaus Zellmer , previously the head of Porsche Cars North America. He said Volkswagen will stop selling combustion-engine vehicles in Europe between 2033 and 2035, with the US and China to come "a little later". The stated plan falls in line with European countries working hard to phase out the sale of combustion-engine vehicles to meet climate targets. Some like the UK have banned the sale of gasoline cars by 2030. This is not the first time we'll hear commitments towards electrification from Volkswagen. The German carmaker has said it plans to launch around 70 all-electric car models by 2030, backed up by tens of billions of dollars of investment. Volkswagen has its e

Alert: PE Firm KKR Gets Into The Single-Family Rentals Game

It seems that asset management firms with wads of cash have set their sights on buying up rental properties to the dismay of local and individual landlords. Just recently, it was Blackstone with its $6bn purchase of a major single-family home landlord, and now it's fellow private equity firm KKR , which is forming a new single-family landlord backed by its wads of cash. KKR has formed My Community Homes , a Miami-based firm that plans to buy and manage rental houses across the US. The PE firm will provide cash to My Community Homes from its real estate and private credit funds, Bloomberg reports . KKR has already been a major player in the US real estate market, but not usually in the arena of rental homes. In fact, the firm's real estate division has $28bn in assets under management. Over the past year, asset management firms like KKR have been flush with cash from a bull market and sought new ways to deploy it. It seems real estate, rental homes at that, has been a new fron

Hedge Fund Perceptive Forms 5th SPAC To Raise $130M

Perceptive Advisors, a major hedge fund focused on life sciences investments, has launched what is its 5th special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in succession to raise $130mn from an IPO. The fifth SPAC,  ARYA Sciences Acquisition V , recently unveiled an S-1 filing for an IPO. It's seeking to raise $130mn by selling 13 million shares for $10 apiece. ARYA Sciences Acquisition is the umbrella under which Perceptive has launched its SPACs since it got into the game in 2018, two years before the SPAC boom of 2020. Its SPACs have raised hundreds of millions and merged with biotech outfits including  Cerevel Therapeutics , a company treating neurotic diseases, and  Nautilus , a human proteomics company. The size of Perceptive's SPACs has usually been $100mn-$200mn and this fifth one is no exception with $130mn, or $150mn if an over-allotment option is fully exercised.  Like all of its SPACs, this fifth one will seek a life sciences company as a merger target. Perceptive is one

Earnings: Nike Crushes Estimates In Recent Quarter

Athletic apparel giant Nike has released its earnings report for its most recent fiscal quarter ended May 31, 2021. The report shows Nike beating analyst estimates by a large margin, with sales up 96% year-over-year. Nike brought in $12.3bn in sales in the quarter. Net income was $1.5bn , compared to a $790mn loss in the same quarter of the previous year. For the fiscal year leading up to May 31, Nike reported $44.5bn in sales , compared to $37.4bn in the previous year. From its $12.3bn quarterly revenue, the majority as usual came from Nike brand sales ($11.8bn) and a minority from Converse ($596mn). The earnings report shows that Nike has largely recovered from an earnings slump caused by the Covid pandemic last year. The company was a victim of widespread physical retail shutters that brought down sales amid the pandemic. In light of its recovery, Nike used its profits to pay dividends as well as resume a share buyback program. The company paid $1.6bn in dividends and bought bac

Markets: Mortgage Startup Blend Labs Files For IPO

One of the hottest fintech startups in the current markets is headed for a public listing soon. That startup is Blend Labs , a company that provides tools used by financial institutions to automate the process of issuing mortgage loans. Blend closed a funding round that valued it at $3.3bn early this year. Now, some months later, the company has unveiled an S-1 filing for an IPO with the US SEC. The final size of its share offering hasn't yet been set. As usual, we'll dig into Blend's S-1 filing for some important bits on its business, particularly on revenue figures. Details Blend brought in $96mn in revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020. That revenue was up 89% from the previous year. On a net basis, Blend isn't profitable, reporting a $75mn net loss in 2020 and $81mn in the year before that. But at least, it has high revenue growth rates to rationalize those losses. Blend's business model is based on charging customers, usually financial institutions, fo

Markets: Panasonic Sells Off Tesla Stake Worth $3.6B

One of the major manufacturing partners of electric carmaker Tesla has sold its large stake in the company. That partner is Japan-based Panasonic , which sold its stake for about 400 billion yen ($3.6bn), the company has confirmed . Panasonic has been a strategic partner and early investor in Tesla for a long time. It bought shares worth $30mn back in 2010, the very year Tesla debuted on the public markets. That stake alone was worth $730mn at the end of March 2020. After investing $30mn in 2010, Panasonic bought more shares in Tesla over time. Now as it's sold all of them for $3.6bn, that's a very high return-on-investment, like many have made on Tesla. Panasonic says the sale of its stake won't affect its partnership with Tesla. The electronics conglomerate is a major supplier of battery cells present in Tesla's cars. Tesla itself has been seeking to diversify its supply chain to not rely majorly on a single supplier like Panasonic. At that, the company has added new

Deal: Visa Buys Swedish Banking Startup Tink For $2.1B

A fintech startup from Sweden has made a big landmark for the country's startup scene, with an exit by way of acquisition. That startup is Tink , which is getting acquired by payments company Visa for a big sum.  Visa has agreed to buy Tink for a sum of 1.8 billion Euros ($2.1bn). It's buying the open banking platform after US regulators prevented its $5.3bn acquisition of Plaid , a company offering a similar service to Tink but in the American markets. Tink provides APIs that enable customers to link to different online banking services. It's a crucial tool serving the industry of digital banking. Currently, Tink is integrated with over 3,400 banks and financial institutions. Tink was founded in 2012. It has raised $308mn in venture funding and was valued at more than $800mn  from its last financing round. At that, a $2.1bn acquisition is a very big win for the company and its investors, as it's nearly 3x its last valuation. Tink's pricey sale to Visa strengthens

SPAC: BuzzFeed To Go Public In $1.5B Deal

In the world of SPACs, there's a new merger that isn't the usual type we're accustomed to. Usually, companies merging with SPACs are high-growth tech startups with big ambitions or more established traditional businesses. But, in this case, the new merger is BuzzFeed , yes that "click farm" BuzzFeed you know. BuzzFeed has agreed to merge with  890 Fifth Avenue Partners Inc. (Nasdaq: ENFA) and become a public company. The merger terms value the media company at $1.5bn. From its merger, BuzzFeed will get $288mn of cash held in trust by the SPAC and then a $150mn PIPE round from a group of asset managers, summing up to $438mn. A sizeable portion of the merger proceeds will finance a new BuzzFeed acquisition of Complex Networks , a media brand focused on 'youth culture'. BuzzFeed is paying $200mn in cash and $100mn in equity for the media brand. The merger is scheduled for completion in Q4 2021, upon which BuzzFeed will start trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

IPO: UK Fintech Startup Wise Set For Direct Listing In London

One of the foremost fintech startups from the UK has officially announced plans to hold a direct public listing in the country. That startup is Wise (formerly TransferWise), mainly a cross-border payments service. Wise has said it plans to hold a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). It did so with a regulatory filing . At that, it'll be the first major company to hold a direct listing on the London markets.  In a direct listing, a company doesn't raise fresh capital from investors and existing shareholders can immediately sell their shares on the open markets, without the usual lockup period limitations of a traditional IPO. Direct listings are fairly new globally, only tested by a few companies in the US. In the UK, it's even unheard-of, with Wise being the first to muddle those waters. As expected with direct listings, Wise's trading debut will be based on an auction, with investors, rather than with bank underwriters in a traditional IPO. The company&#

Deal: EA Buys Warner Bros. Games' Playdemic For $1.4B

Gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts (EA) has added another digit to its string of weighty acquisitions over the past year. It's agreed to buy Playdemic , a mobile gaming unit of Warner Bros. Games' that's best known for the game Golf Clash . EA will pay $1.4bn in cash to buy Playdemic. The deal comes just months after the company paid $2.1bn for Glu Mobile , another mobile game developer. Apparently, EA is going the way of acquisitions to build up a strong mobile gaming business, outside its major expertise of console gaming. This marks the third time that Playdemic is getting acquired in a decade. It was first sold in 2011 to RockYou  and then bought back by its founders that same year, who then sold the company to Warner Bros. Games in 2017. 2017 was the year when Playdemic released Golf Clash , the game it's best known for. It's a multiplayer golf game with over 80 million downloads globally.  Playdemic is getting sold just as the parent firm of its owner, WarnerM

Alert: John McAfee Dies In Spanish Custody

John McAfee , a controversial tech entrepreneur and crypto promoter who was facing criminal charges in the US, has been found dead in a Spanish jail cell where he was held, according to local reports . His death is being investigated as a suicide, as it's reported he was found hanging in his cell. McAfee's death came shortly after Spanish authorities ruled that he could be extracted to the US to face criminal charges. He was indicted in the US with charges of tax evasion and running a "pump and dump" crypto scheme where he promoted certain cryptocurrencies in exchange for undisclosed payments. McAfee was facing multiple criminal charges and got arrested at a Spanish airport last October. Since then, he's been in detention in the country awaiting extradition proceedings, which were given a greenlight just this Wednesday. McAfee died in the  Brians 2 prison in Barcelona. His lawyer confirmed he hanged himself, pointing at suicide. It's possible that the eccent

SPAC: Self-Driving Startup Embark To Go Public In $5.2B Deal

An autonomous driving startup in the US with a focus on trucks has sealed a big deal to go public via the SPAC route. You may have heard this just recently (in the case of Plus ) and wondering if we're repeating previous news, but no, it's another startup, an even bigger one by valuation. Embark Trucks, a self-driving startup founded by two University of Waterloo dropouts, has agreed to merge with a SPAC and go public with a valuation of $5.2bn. It's a pretty lavish valuation for a company still in the R&D phase and making no money. Embark will merge with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II (NYSE: NGAB). The deal will hand over to the startup $414mn of cash from the SPAC and then a $200mn PIPE round, making a total of $614mn. Investors that have committed to the $200mn PIPE round include Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, and Mubadala Capital. As part of the merger terms, Embark is getting a new board member in Elaine Chao, the former US Secretary of Transportation under

Deal: PE Firm Silver Lake Invests $1B In Splunk

Silver Lake, a major tech-focused private equity firm, has made its latest investment in Splunk Inc (NASDAQ: SPLK) , a company whose software is used for analyzing large amounts of data. Silver Lake will invest $1bn in Splunk in the form of convertible bonds. Splunk says it'll use some of the money to help expand its business and some for share buybacks. The company has authorized a new $1bn buyback program that'll be executed over time. Under the deal terms, Silver Lake will purchase convertible notes with an initial conversion price of $160 per share, a 30% premium to Splunk's volume-weighted average closing price over 10 days as of Monday. Also, Silver Lake is getting a board seat at Splunk that'll be occupied by its Managing Partner Kenneth Hao.  It seems Silver Lake spotted a good opportunity in Splunk, whose stock had sunk by 35% over the past year. The firm's investment is apparently a nice validation as Splunk's stock closed up 11% on Tuesday, the day i

Database Software Startup Couchbase Files For IPO

A database software startup with a business built on the open-source model has filed for an IPO in the US. That startup is Couchbase Inc , which provides an eponymous NoSQL cloud database used by developers.   Couchbase has unveiled an S-1 filing with the US SEC for a public listing. The listing would mark a solid exit for the startup which was founded exactly a decade ago.  Couchbase has built a business for itself providing additional services to its eponymous open-source database software package. Such a business based on open-source software has been repeated successfully many times, though it carries the risk of a downturn if that software gets out of fashion, as has also been seen many times. As usual, we'll point out some important information from Couchbase's S-1 filing, mostly on its revenue figures, right here. Details Couchbase had $103mn in revenue in its most recent fiscal year ended January 31, 2021. In the preceding year, it brought in $83mn in sales. The compan

Markets: London Hedge Fund Closes After Sour GameStop Bet

A London-based hedge fund managing a few hundred million dollars is closing its doors following a soured bet against GameStop, the "meme" stock that's been propelled way up in a frenzy led by retail investors. White Square Capital , the hedge fund, is shuttering its main fund after reviewing its investment strategy, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. The fund had managed $440mn at its peak but suffered double-digit percentage losses this year from a short position on GameStop.  White Square is one out of several hedge funds that racked up big losses from GameStop short positions after the stock was driven up in a retail trading frenzy seemingly as an act of "revenge" by the small guys against the big guys. The hedge fund at the forefront of the saga, Melvin Capital, reportedly lost 50% in January. As it looks, White Square's shut-down wasn't exactly due to its soured GameStop bet, the Financial Times reported, although the losses could have con

PE Firm Blackstone Makes $6B Bet On US Family Homes

Blackstone, a mega private equity firm that's one of the biggest real estate owners in the US, has moved to strengthen its power in the US real estate market with a big bet on family homes. It's agreed to buy a major owner of single-family rental homes in the country for a big price. Blackstone will pay $6bn to buy  Home Partners of America (HPA) , a real estate company with 17,000 single-family rental homes in its portfolio. HPA operates on a "rent-to-own" model whereby renters pay periodically to buy equity in their homes just like it is with mortgages. Blackstone's $6bn bet marks a major return for the firm into the world of single-family homes. Its first foray into that segment was with Invitation Homes , a real estate landlord it invested in earlier on but totally cashed out of in 2019. Invitation is the largest single-family rental housing owner of all time, with over 80k properties in its portfolio. Usually, Blackstone's large real estate business cent

Private Club Chain Soho House Files For IPO

A unique type of company is about to hold an initial public offering (IPO) on the US markets. That company is Soho House , a private members club with locations around the globe. Membership Collective Group, the parent company of Soho House, has unveiled an S-1 filing with the SEC for an IPO. It'll be a landmark listing for a private members club founded over two decades ago. Soho House is majorly owned by American billionaire Ron Burkle. He paid £250mn  via his firm Yucaipa to buy 60% of the company in 2012. Under his ownership, the private members club has raised more funding to scale and grow. As we usually do, we'll extract some important bits from Soho House's S-1 filing, mostly on its revenue figures.  Details For its most recent fiscal year ended January 3, 2021, Soho brought in $384mn in revenue. Though that seems much, revenue went down sharply from $642mn in the previous year due to a pandemic that ravaged its in-house revenues, as many shyed away from social zo

Deal: Uber Pays $1.4B To Buy Out Online Grocer Cornershop

In a bid to shore up its online grocery business, Uber has said it'll buy full control of Cornershop , a grocery app in which it acquired a majority stake in 2019. The company is buying the remaining 47% stake it doesn't own in the grocery app, for a very big price. Uber is paying $1.4bn in shares to buy the remaining Cornershop stake from its shareholders. This is after it paid $484mn in cash and stock to buy a 53% stake last year. As it sums up, Uber will spend around $1.9bn to buy Cornershop in total. The price is a far cry from when mega-retailer Walmart sealed a deal to buy Cornershop for $225mn in 2018 but got rebuffed by regulators. Cornershop is a grocery app serving the Latin American markets and is headquartered in Mexico. It was the country's competition agency that prevented Walmart from buying the app, citing unfair competition as Walmart is already a major brick-and-mortar grocery retailer. As the Covid pandemic cratered Uber's ride-hailing business, th

SPAC: Lordstown Execs Cashed Out $8M Ahead Of Cash Woes

In the latest episode of the Lordstown Motors saga, it's been revealed that executives of the struggling electric vehicle startup cashed out a significant sum of their shares ahead of the company's reporting of its first quarterly earnings in March. Five executives at Lordstown Motors collectively sold stock worth $8mn in February, regulatory filings show. The sales were first reported by The Wall Street Journal . As filings show, Lordstown executives netted millions of dollars even as their company hadn't delivered a single vehicle. They include; John Vo, head of its propulsion division, sold $2.5mn, 99% of his vested equity. President Rich Schmidt sold $4.6mn, 39% of his vested shares. Three other execs including a finance chief who resigned last week  each sold between $250k and $400k. The stock sales were shortly before Lordstown reported its first earnings results, showing a $101mn net loss in 2020 on only $2.6mn in sales. Understandably that Lordstown is still a fledg

Hollywood: Steven Spielberg Signs Movie Deal With Netflix

Video streaming giant Netflix has added another movie honcho to its content roster, this time the famous movie producer and director Steven Spielberg . Spielberg's production company, Amblin Partners, has signed a deal to produce multiple feature films per year for the company. Though the financial terms of the deal weren't announced, it should be obvious to anyone that signing Steven Spielberg to a production deal costs big bucks. It's a testament to Netflix spending excessively on original content - $17bn for this year alone.  Amblin Partners is an entertainment company Spielberg established in 2015 along with three other partners. It's a successor to the live-action counterpart of DreamWorks , Spielberg's former company. Since its establishment in 2015, Amblin churned out movies that won three Oscars and two Golden Globes. Its best success is the British war film  1917 , which grossed $385mn on a budget of $95mn. Long before Amblin Partners, Spielberg had produ

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US Sanctions First Crypto Exchange For Alleged Ransomware Ties

The US government has moved to blacklist a Russian crypto exchange in what seems to be the first time the government is taking such an action against a crypto exchange; The US Treasury Department has announced sanctions against a crypto exchange named  Suex  for allegations of facilitating transactions for ransomware operators based in Russia. The department therein claims that over 40% of Suex's known transaction history was associated with illicit and criminal operations. The US has faced a wave of ransomware attacks over the past year with victims including a major oil pipeline company ( Colonial Pipeline ) that paid a $5mn ransom and a major food supplier ( JBS ) that paid an $11mn ransom . Both attacks are suspected to have been carried out by Russian criminal groups, making it a major point of concern that US President Joe Biden pressed Putin to address  in a July phone call; Out of many, the most infamous ransomware group globally appears to be a Russian organization name

Law: Ex-Quant Analyst Indicted For Front-Running Employer's Trades

Insider trading is like the most common crime on Wall Street or the crime most prosecuted. Every now and then, there's always a new insider trading case pursued by the appropriate American authorities; the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Justice Department (DOJ). To the unaware, insider trading is deemed as trading a public company's stock or other types of regulated securities based on material, nonpublic information about the company. The latest insider trading saga now making the rounds is that of a former quant analyst who has just been indicted for front-running his employer's trades and making a killing to the tune of over $8mn. Sergei Polevikov , the former quant analyst, allegedly bought securities he knew his employer ordered in large blocks on behalf of clients and then profited from little price bumps of the securities that typically occurred when the large orders were executed. He's said to have done this with a brokerage account opened in his

Deal: DraftKings Bids $22B For UK Betting Giant Entain

A certain American company has been on a tear ever since going public last year. It's DraftKings , a sports betting company that's riding the high waves of increased legalization of mobile sports betting in the US and tearing its way into more business as time goes. In the US where DraftKings is based, there's been a wave of legalization of sports betting spurred by the Supreme Court striking down a federal ban on it in 2018. It's such that sports betting is now legalized in more than two dozen US states and more states are considering it. The wave has vaulted DraftKings to high growth thanks to the company being an early mover and working hard to build this growth, DraftKings has spent big money on acquisitions to expand. For example, just last month, the company bought online casino Golden Nugget in a $1.6bn all-stock deal that marked its biggest acquisition to date. Right now and shortly after making its biggest acquisition, it appears that DraftKings is even push

Antitrust: US Sues To Block JetBlue-American Airlines Alliance

American antitrust actions against big companies have been brewing under President Biden, particularly against big tech companies like Faceboo k and Google . But the latest one from the government is targeting an industry far away from tech, the airline industry; The US Justice Department (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit  seeking to block an alliance between American Airlines , a major transnational and domestic airline, and JetBlue , a low-cost domestic airline. The alliance was for JetBlue to handle domestic flights between  Boston and New York City  on behalf of American Airlines with ticket sharing between both airlines. Now, the DOJ appears to be very opposed to the alliance along with the Attorneys General of six US states plus Washington, D.C. that followed it to file the lawsuit. The suit's core allegation is that such an alliance discourages airline competition and may cause fare hikes for everyday flyers. Given its statement, the DOJ actually has a point to make as an alliance

Deal: Blackstone Buys Condor Hospitality's Hotel Assets For $305M

Blackstone , the private equity giant, is yet again adding to its massive commercial real estate portfolio with a big purchase. It's agreed to buy the hotel assets of the  Condor Hospitality Trust , a publicly traded real estate investment trust that's liquidating all its assets and winding down its business. Blackstone will pay $305mn in cash to buy Condor's entire hotel portfolio. The PE firm won't be assuming any debt from the purchase. Condor's portfolio includes 15 hotels in 8 American states, some franchised under prestigious brands like Hilton and Marriott . Hotels are the trust's only business from which it gets all its revenue, and now that it's selling them, the trust has instituted a plan to distribute the sale proceeds to shareholders and close down its operations. Notably, Condor is shutting down after a tumultuous year for hotel operators caused by the pandemic's restrictions on travel and recreation. It, in fact, saw annual sales slip f

Alert: Coding Platform GitLab Files For US IPO

Catching us as a surprise late on Friday, GitLab , a popular coding platform and rival to GitHub,  has filed for an IPO in the US. GitLab is a popular code repository hosting service for software developers and is the 2nd-largest of its kind only beaten by GitHub.  While GitHub sold to Microsoft for $7.5bn three years ago, GitLab has remained independent and now is about to test the waters as a publicly-traded company. GitLab has unveiled its S-1 filing with the US SEC as is usual for companies looking to go public in the US and the S-1 document provides great insight into the GitLab's business with information not publicly disclosed before. Therefore, we'll be extracting some of the most important info from the bulky filing, mostly on its revenue stats. By the Numbers GitLab reported  $152mn in revenue in the fiscal year ended January 2021, compared to $81mn in the preceding year. In the first half of 2021, the company brought in $108mn in sales, compared to $64mn in t

Markets: Korea's Kakao Pay Delays $1.3B IPO To November

In South Korea, Kakao is one of the leading tech giants, best known for its  KakaoTalk messenger app. But like many tech companies, it's long branched out from messaging into other sectors such as gaming and fintech and made strides there. In fintech, Kakao has a separate digital bank ( KakaoBank ) and mobile payments and wallet app ( Kakao Pay ). The Korean tech giant took KakaoBank public this July with an IPO that raised $2.2bn and didn't just stop there. It then sought to take Kakao Pay public in a separate IPO but has hit some obstacles trying to do so. Just as it sought to take Kakao Pay public, the South Korean government toughened regulations on fintech apps. It made Kakao Pay suspend some services like insurance though the suspended services accounted for a minor part of its revenue. Then, Kakao Pay adjusted its IPO fundraising target to $1.3bn , 6% lower than it previously sought. But even with the hiccups, Kakao Pay still sought to go public by October this year

Markets: Covid Testing Provider Cue Health Goes Public

A diagnostics startup that found treasures amid dirt from the Covid-19 pandemic has stamped its success with a successful initial public offering (IPO). It's Cue Health , a little-known startup from San Diego that rapidly switched its focus to making Covid-19 testing kits on the onset of the pandemic and has built a big business with that. Cue Health debuted on the Nasdaq exchange on Friday, the 24th of September, raising $200mn before commissions and other underwriting expenses. Its stock climbed 25% on that day to end trading at $20, giving it a market cap of $2.9bn . Cue Health is one of the significant startup success stories to emerge from the pandemic. Before it started providing Covid testing kits, its annual sales were numbered in the low-digit millions but shot up to $23mn in 2020  on the pandemic's onset and $202mn in the first half of 2021 . Because of its fast pivot to providing Covid testing kits, Cue Health was an early mover. Thus, it got lucrative testing contr

Earnings: Nike's Sales Falter, Shares Drop 6%

Sports apparel giant Nike has dropped its latest quarterly results , showing that its earnings still stand firm despite sales challenges intensified by the Covid pandemic. But though its earnings beat analyst expectations, Nike's stock fell by a significant percentage during trading on Friday due to its sales outlook. Nike posted $12.2bn in sales in the three months ended August 31, 2021, its fiscal 2022 first quarter. Sales were up 12% year-over-year and slightly unchanged from $12.3bn in the preceding quarter. Nike's sales have dropped significantly due to the Covid pandemic that led to widespread closures of its physical retail centers. Even as the pandemic effects gradually wear off, the company is still battling supply chain disruptions caused by it. As usual, most of Nike's quarterly sales came from the  Nike brand ( $11.6bn ), while a minority was from the Converse brand ( $630mn ). For the quarter, Nike's net profit was $1.9bn , up 23% year-over-year and 27%

Deal: Hollywood Agency CAA To Buy Rival ICM

In a historic deal in the talent agency industry, two of the biggest entertainment and sports talent agencies operating in the US are about to merge to become one. It's so that Creative Artists Agency (CAA) , a powerhouse talent agency with a roster of stars, has reached a deal to buy ICM Partners , a rival powerhouse agency. CAA buying ICM is a blockbuster deal that'll see two of Hollywood's most powerful talent agencies merge into one more robust powerhouse. The combined agency would be a more formidable one for arch-rivals such as William Morris Endeavor (WME) and United Talent Agency (UTA) . Normally, CAA, ICM, WME, and UTA are considered the "big four" talent agencies in Hollywood and sports, representing the most significant share of A-list talent across both industries. Now, it appears that the "big four" would soon become the "big three."  CAA is the bigger of the two agencies, commanding a bigger roster of talent and business than IC