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Showing posts from July, 2021

Antitrust: Amazon Fined $900M By EU For Privacy Violations

Tech behemoth Amazon is for the nth time in the crosshairs of the European Union (EU). The latest saga in that arena is that Amazon has been fined a record-breaking amount for alleged privacy violations, according to an SEC filing from the company. Amazon has been fined the sum of €746 million ($888mn) by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) for not complying with data privacy laws. It's the largest fine imposed under Europe's data protection law.  The fine originates from the CNPD accusing Amazon of processing customers' personal data in violation of the EU's famous-cum-infamous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.  In June, it was reported ( WSJ )  that the Luxembourg data protection agency had sanctioned Amazon's privacy practices and proposed a fine topping $425mn to the EU's other two-dozen or so national data protection authorities. Now, it appears that the final fine is much larger than that.  Before now, the bigges

Deal: Iliad CEO Xavier Niel Bids To Take Firm Private

The CEO of French telecoms giant  Iliad S.A. has made a bid to take the company private by buying out the shares he doesn't own. Xavier Niel by name, he already controls the majority of the company's shares and has sought out to buy the minority he doesn't own. Niel himself owns roughly 71% of Iliad's share capital. Additionally, a few other shareholders owning roughly 4% of the company have agreed to tender their shares in Niel's offer. It means he just has to pony up the cash for the remaining 25% , and he's made an offer with a high premium. Niel has bid to  pay 182 euros per share for the rest of the shares of Iliad S.A. The bid represents a 61% premium to the company's closing share price the day before it was announced and a 53% premium to the company's average share price over the past month, it said.  Moving to take his telecoms empire private represents a major change of strategy for Niel, who started it about two decades ago and took it pub

Markets: US SEC Takes Aim At Chinese IPOs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken a swipe at Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) after regulatory hiccups in China have affected many Chinese stocks listed on US markets and American stockholders holding them. The SEC has issued new guidance on Chinese companies seeking to list shares in the US, requiring them to make certain disclosures to investors or otherwise refrain from listing in the US markets. First of all, usually, Chinese companies listing in the US don't actually sell shares of the operating companies but that of shell companies with contractual relationships with the operating companies. These shell shares, known as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) , are used to circumvent restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese shares imposed by the country's government. Now, the SEC in a statement has made it clear that Chinese companies seeking to list in the US must provide clear descriptions of the shell operations involved in such listing

Deal: Qualtrics Buys CX Startup Clarabridge For $1.1B

Months after getting spun out of SAP into a separate public company, Qualtrics , a major provider of online survey software, has made a major acquisition. It's agreed to buy Clarabridge , a startup that does similar work to Qualtrics in the field fondly referred to as "customer experience (CX)". Qualtrics will pay $1.1bn all with shares to buy Clarabridge. The acquisition is a major strategic play for the company, pairing Qualtrics' customer survey business with Clarabridge's similar business of measuring customer sentiment from various sources like social media posts and customer support calls. Basically, Qualtrics is in the business of weighing customer surveys directly and Clarabridge in the business of doing so indirectly . Pairing both businesses represents a major strategic play for Qualtrics. In an investor presentation, Qualtrics said that Clarabridge has $100mn in annual revenue, implying an 11x multiple that it's paying to buy the company. That&#

Alert: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted On Fraud Charges

The founder of embattled electric car startup Nikola Corp. has been formally indicted on fraud charges by the US Justice Department months after resigning from the company. Trevor Milton by name, he's been accused of securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud and mislead investors. Milton is accused of misleading investors by making false statements regarding Nikola's products and capabilities. Notably, most of the investors allegedly misled were on the retail side. The DOJ alleges that Milton made false claims regarding "nearly all aspects" of Nikola's business. Milton founded Nikola in 2014 and led it through a public listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year. The DOJ threw an apparent jab at SPACs in his indictment, asserting that he made 'many' of his false and misleading claims  during a period where he would not have been allowed to do so under rules that govern traditional IPOs were he

Earnings: Shopify Beats Estimates, Reaches Major Milestone

In this season of earnings results and we at The Techee  reporting on them, we're here with a beat on Shopify , which has released its earnings statement for the second quarter (April-June) of this year. In Q2, Shopify beat revenue expectations from analysts and as well achieved a major financial milestone by crossing $1bn in quarterly revenue for the first time. Shopify had $1.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 57% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $897mn , most of which was due to a $778mn gain in equity investments, likely from Shopify's stake in Affirm , a major 'buy now, pay later' lender. As usual, most of Shopify's sales ( $785mn ) came from "Merchant Solutions", which groups additional services the company offers atop recurring subscriptions charged to online retailers. Sales from subscriptions came at $334mn in the quarter. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), representing the total worth of transactions made on the Shopify platform,

Deal: Amgen Buys Biotech Startup Teneobio In $2.5B Deal

It appears that this Covid era has led to a boom for companies that work on  antibodies , which are protective proteins produced by the human immune system to tackle foreign substances, usually viruses. Antibodies are very useful in the research and treatment of viruses such as Covid. There are companies that specialize in antibodies and one of them, BioLegend , was recently bought for a whopping $5.3bn . Now, another such company, Teneobio , is getting bought for a big amount. Teneobio has agreed to be acquired by Amgen , an American biotech giant. Amgen is paying $900mn upfront for the company, then an additional $1.6bn in cash contingent on the company hitting certain milestones. It sums up to a $2.5bn deal . Teneobio is a clinical-stage biotech startup working on antibodies aimed at treating cancer, autoimmunity, and other infectious diseases. As it's still in the clinical trial stage with no viable product yet, it appears that Amgen is betting big on Teneobio's trials b

Earnings: AMD Doubles Revenue, Triples Profit

In this earnings season, companies all over are dropping their latest quarterly results and we're here equally reporting on them. We've touched on social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , electric carmaker Tesla , and iPhone maker Apple . Now, the next is chipmaker AMD Inc . AMD has dropped its earnings for the second quarter of 2021, showing strong prospects as revenue doubled year-over-year and net income more than tripled.   Details AMD posted $3.9bn in revenue in Q2, up 99% year-over-year and 12% from the preceding quarter. For the same period, the company's net income was $710mn , up 352% year-over-year and 28% from the preceding quarter. Doubling its revenue and nearly quadrupling net income indicates AMD has a strong yet fast-growing business. It's bound to grow even more as the company is set to complete its acquisition of rival chipmaker Xilinx . AMD makes money selling high-performance chipsets used in computers, consoles, data centers, and the likes

Earnings: Apple Yet Again Crushes Expectations

In this season of earnings results, many companies have begun dropping their latest quarterly earnings report and we've covered some. First was social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , then electric carmaker Tesla  and for some reason, these three delivered very positive earnings reports. Now, the latest to join the spree of delivering positivity to investors with their earnings is iPhone maker Apple . It's dropped its earnings report for the quarter ended June 26, 2021, showing strong sales as revenue from its Services segment reached an all-time high. Details Apple reported $81.4bn in sales in the quarter, up 36% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $21.7bn , nearly double year-over-year. As always, the iPhone contributed the most to Apple's revenue out of all the company's products. iPhone sales in the quarter came at $39.6bn , up 50% year-over-year. Revenue from Apple's Services segment has hit a quarterly record of $17.5bn . The segment in

EVs: Lordstown Motors Finds Much-Needed Money

Lordstown Motors , an embattled electric car startup, seems to be finding hope in the current markets. It's secured a funding lifeline after running into major cash woes in its operations. To recall, Lordstown  warned last month that it didn't have sufficient capital to fund the commercial production of its electric truck and thus risked jeopardy of its efforts. But now, the company appears to have secured a $400mn funding commitment, regulatory filings show.  According to the filing, a New Jersey-based hedge fund named  Yorkville Advisors has committed to purchase up to $400mn of Lordstown stock over the next three years, as the publicly traded electric-car startup would get the money to fund its operations. Lordstown and Yorkville have entered into a binding equity purchase agreement for the latter to buy Class A common stock of Lordstown for at least $7.48 a share on the public markets over the next three years. Lordstown stock (NASDAQ: RIDE) currently trades for under $

Earnings: Tesla Reports Most Profitable Quarter Yet

It's the earnings season and companies here and there are dropping their latest quarterly earnings report. In that vein, Tesla , the famous electric carmaker, has dropped its, showing its most profitable quarter yet as a company. Tesla reported   $12bn in revenue in Q2, nearly double year-over-year. Net profit in the quarter was $1.1bn, the highest on record for Tesla. Tesla is selling more vehicles than ever to customers and thus making more money. The Model 3 and Y vehicles make up the larger part of its sales, as they are of lower cost compared to the more premium Model S  and X  cars. As it posted very positive earnings, Tesla though had some not-too-positive news, especially the delay of the launch of its Semi truck from this year to 2022. The company blamed the delay on limited battery availability. For the Cybertruck , Tesla vaguely said it's "making progress on the industrialization". After unveiling the truck in 2019, the company said it would make it to

Deal: Thoma Bravo To Buy Medallia For $6.4B

A certain private equity firm is on a spree making big deals in the tech industry. That firm is Thoma Bravo , which has reached a deal to buy Medallia , a publicly-traded tech company that makes survey software for enterprises. Thoma Bravo has agreed to pay $34 per share to take Medallia (NYSE: MDLA) off the public markets into its hands. That price sums up to $6.4bn and a 20% premium to Medallia's closing share price on the 10th of July, the day before rumor acquisitions of the company began swirling. Medallia debuted on the public markets in 2019 and is now being acquired barely two years later. Its $34-per-share acquisition price is about 60% higher than its IPO debut price of $21 two years ago. Under Thoma Bravo's ownership, Medallia will continue to function as usual with a growth strategy. The ultimate aim for private equity firms like Thoma is to grow its portfolio companies and flip them for a higher price in the future, either through a sale or an exit on the public m

Deal: PerkinElmer Buys Antibody Maker BioLegend For $5.3B

PerkinElmer , a publicly-traded medical devices and diagnostics company, had made its biggest acquisition yet. It's  agreed to buy   BioLegend , a privately-held company that makes antibodies and reagents for biomedical research. PerkinElmer will pay the sum of  $5.3bn  in cash and stock to buy BioLegend, marking the company's biggest acquisition in its existence. It's a major play that PerkinElmer is making, as it says BioLegend expects to have $380mn in sales in 2022, implying a multiple of about 14x to buy the company. BioLegend was founded in 2002 and has been based in the state of California for a long time. It has more than 700 employees, most of whom are based in the US. BioLegend shined during the Covid pandemic as the company provided antibodies and other tools used for biomedical research tackling the virus. Now, just about a year later, it's culminated in a big exit for the two-decade-old company. PerkinElmer has taken financing from Goldman Sachs to finance

SPAC: Game Studio Jam City Calls Off $1.2B Merger Deal

Jam City , a mobile games studio with a bevy of hits, has withdrawn its plans to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It's called off its earlier-agreed with DPCM Capital (NYSE: XPOA), a SPAC formed by ex-Uber executive Emil Michael. The reasons for calling off the merger are uncertain and unspecific. Vaguely, both firms said in a joint statement that it is "the best path forward...in light of current market conditions." Now, DPCM Capital will have to find a new merger target. Originally, DPCM and Jam City sought to combine in a deal valuing the latter at $1.2bn . As part of their combination, Jam City was supposed to use money from DPCM to finance a $175mn purchase of Canada-based mobile game publisher Ludia . Now, it's unclear if that acquisition will go through. It may be that Jam City has sought to remain privately-held, or it's found an alternative path onto the public markets. The company could seek a traditional IPO in

Earnings: Twitter Sees Pandemic Rebound, Shares Jump

It's the season of earnings results, this time for the 2nd quarter of 2021 ended last month June. In that regard, Twitter , the famous social media company, has published its earnings report, showing a strong rebound from the lows of the pandemic era. By The Numbers  In Q2, Twitter posted its strongest revenue growth since 2014, as its sales went up 74% year-over-year. In comparison, its sales in Q2 last year was down 19% over the year. Twitter posted $1.2bn in sales for the quarter and a net profit of $66mn, compared to an adjusted net loss of $127mn in Q2 last year.  As usual, most of Twitter's sales came from advertising and a minority from data licensing and other sources. Revenue from the US made up more than half of the company's quarterly sales. Twitter ended Q2 with 206 million average monetizable daily active users (mDAU), up 11% year-over-year. Forecast For the next quarter (Q3 2021), Twitter is forecasting sales of between $1.2bn and $1.3bn. That's compared

EVs: Rivian Bolsters Coffers With Fresh $2.5B

Rivian , the electric car startup backed by big money to make a dent in the EV world, has added to its cash coffers with even more money. It's raised a fresh funding round of $2.5bn led by Amazon, a previous investor and major strategic partner to the company. Amazon led and was joined by Ford, D1 Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price, Coatue, Dragoneer, Fidelity, and hedge fund Third Point. With the round, Rivian has now raised a total of $10.5bn to date. Rivian raised the fresh funds as it nears vehicle production. It originally planned to put vehicles into production in 2020 but delayed it to 2021 July, then recently delayed it again by a few more months. Obviously, taking vehicles from concept to production is really hard. This year January, Rivian raised a $2.65bn funding round from investors. Adding this new round, the company has raised over $5bn this year alone, money that'll come in handy as the company says it's planning to set up a second manufacturing facility in th

Earnings: Snap Inc Posts Strong Results, Shares Rise

Snap Inc , the company behind the famous Snapchat app, is back again posting strong earnings results, this time for the second quarter of 2021. The company's revenue for the quarter soared high over the year as it also grew its user count by a good margin. Details: Snap reported $982mn in revenue in Q2 '21, up 116% year-over-year. As revenue grew, the company's net loss went down by 53% year-over-year to $152mn. For user count, Snap reported having 293 million daily active users at the end of Q2. That figure was up 23% (+55 million) year-over-year. User growth for the Snapchat app was maintained across the globe on both the iOS and Android platforms. Recently, Snap had major milestones including the launch of Spotlight , a short-form video content feature rivaling TikTok. Dangling out $130mn to creators on Spotlight as of this May, the company says average daily content submissions more than tripled from Q1 when it launched to Q2' 21.  In Q2, Snap's biggest move f

Deal: Uber Freight Buys Shipping Planner Transplace For $2.3B

The trucking division of ride-hailing giant Uber has struck a deal to acquire a major company that makes software used to organize shipping and logistics operations. Uber Freight will buy Transplace from its current owner, private equity firm TPG Capital, for a price of $2.25bn. The price tag is split into $750mn of Uber stock (NYSE: UBER) and $1.5bn in cash. It's one of Uber's biggest acquisitions on record, shortly after the company's near-$2bn purchase of online grocer Cornershop . Uber Freight is a gem for Uber, one of its few remaining divisions outside ride-hailing after the company sold most of its non-ride-hailing businesses to outside owners. Uber Freight matches freight carriers with businesses looking to ship goods across destinations and as well provides software to help manage shipping and logistical operations. With Transplace, Uber Freight is buffing up its business with a long-established software company (founded in 2000) in a bid for profitability, the

Deal: Salesforce Completes $28B Slack Purchase

After entering a definitive agreement last December, CRM software giant Salesforce has completed its acquisition of Slack, the popular workplace communications tool, for which it paid $27.7bn  in a mix of cash and stock. Officially, Slack has been taken off the public markets and is now a privately-held division of Salesforce, which coughed up $15.6bn in cash and $12.1bn of common stock to buy the company. Slack is Salesforce's biggest acquisition on record. To show the seriousness of Salesforce's Slack purchase, the company paid a multiple of 31x Slack's revenue ($903mn) in its most recent fiscal year despite the company being unprofitable on a net basis. More so, Salesforce took a $10bn loan facility to finance the cash portion of the purchase, implying it really wanted the deal. Salesforce has historically expanded with acquisitions and is no stranger to big ones. Before Slack, it paid $16bn to buy Tableau Software in 2019, then its biggest acquisition on record that j

Alert: Crypto Exchange FTX Raises $900M, Valued At $18B

FTX , a famous online exchange for crypto derivatives, has closed a big new round of funding with a big valuation to match. The funding round is a major validation for the exchange which was founded barely two years ago and has seen huge success. FTX has raised $900mn in funding at a valuation of $18bn, the company said . The funding came from a group of many investors, including SoftBank, Coinbase Ventures, Insight Partners, Mary Meeker's Bond, and hedge fund tycoons Alan Howard and Paul Tudor Jones. Since launching in May 2019, FTX has grown rapidly as a hub for people to buy and sell derivatives based on cryptocurrency instruments. Such derivatives include stuff like futures or stock tokens, some of which are controversial and their legalities questioned in a handful of countries, including the US where FTX doesn't allow residents to trade directly on its platform. FTX says it has over 1 million registered users averaging $10bn of daily trading volume. The company serves ev

Israeli Fraud Detection Startup Riskified Files For US IPO

Riskified , a fraud detection startup serving e-commerce companies, is the latest tech company that's filed for an initial public offering (IPO). The Israeli company has unveiled an F-1 filing with the US SEC as required for foreign companies seeking to list in the US. Riskified provides fraud detection software to online retailers that use it to help curtail fraudulent transactions. The niche of fraud prevention in online retail is one that's birthed many successful companies, Riskified being one of them. In its IPO, Riskified is offering 17.3 million shares at a price point between $18 and $20, implying proceeds of between $315mn-$350mn. Additionally, the company's co-founder and current CTO Assaf Feldman is selling 200k shares in the offering to get between $3.6mn-$4mn. Riskified is targeting a valuation upwards of $3bn from its public offering. As usual, a company's IPO filing provides great insight into its business with specific information on its revenues. Let&

Deal: Zoom Buys Cloud Contact Center Firm Five9 For $15B

After wrapping up a year that sent its stock soaring absurdly high, videoconferencing company Zoom  is putting that stock into use as currency to make a splashy acquisition. It's agreed to buy Five9 , a provider of contact and call center software hosted on the cloud, for the sum of $14.7bn . Zoom is paying for Five9 entirely with shares. The $14.7bn price tag represents 14% of Zoom's current market cap of $107bn. As it is, Five9 is Zoom's first billion-dollar acquisition and a very big one at that. Five9 is a publicly-traded company that Zoom is taking into private hands. The company is paying a 13% premium to Five9's closing market cap on Friday, the last trading day before the deal was announced. Zoom's acquisition makes sense for a post-pandemic world where it's expecting the use of its videoconferencing software to drop down significantly. The Covid-19 pandemic drove many people and corporates globally to pick up Zoom and exploded the company's revenue

Xiaomi Overtakes Apple As World's No. 2 Smartphone Brand

It's a big time for Xiaomi , a Chinese electronics brand that's taken the world by storm in just about a decade of existence. The brand has overtaken Apple to become the number 2 smartphone vendor in the world, according to info published by research firm  Canalys .  Canalys is a reputed research firm whose statistics are a major standard in the smartphone business.  According to Canalys , Xiaomi accounted for 17% of global smartphone shipments in the 2nd quarter of 2021, surpassing Apple's 14% and now trailing only Samsung's 19%. More so, the annual growth of Xiaomi's smartphone shipments was 83%, surpassing that of the other brands by a wide margin. Credit: Canalys According to Canalys , the top 5 smartphone vendors are Samsung, Xiaomi, Apple, Oppo, and Vivo. Interestingly, both Oppo and Vivo seem to be offshoots of one Chinese company named BBK Electronics though the specifics around that are unclear (if wholly-owned or just affiliates), so it seems BBK could e

Markets: India's Paytm Files For $2.2B IPO

Paytm , India's foremost fintech startup, has filed for a big IPO on the country's domestic exchanges. According to draft papers filed with India's market regulator on Friday, the company is planning to raise up to 166 billion rupees ( $2.2bn ) in an initial public offering. Half of the money Paytm plans to raise from its IPO will be from selling new shares to add to the company's coffers while the other half will be from existing shareholders selling stakes.  Paytm's major shareholders include SoftBank (18.7%), China's Ant Group (30.3%), Elevation Capital (17.65%), and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. With over $4bn raised, Paytm is one of India's biggest-funded startups. It was valued at $16bn from its last funding round. Another major Paytm shareholder is founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma with a roughly 15% stake. According to the draft papers, One97 Communications, Paytm's parent firm, has a solid business bringing in solid revenues, though the

Alert: Jeff Bezos Donates $200M To Smithsonian

Just days from stepping down from his long-held position as Amazon's CEO, the famous-or-infamous Jeff Bezos has earmarked a $200mn donation to the Smithsonian Institution for its National Air and Space Museum, the organization has announced . The gift from Bezos comes a few days before his scheduled trip to the edges of outer space onboard a rocket made by Blue Origin, his aerospace company. Digging into his estimated  $210bn  net worth, a $200mn gift isn't out-of-the-blue for Bezos, especially as he sold over $12bn of Amazon shares from 2020 till now. Bezos' $200mn donation to the Smithsonian is the largest gift to the organization since its founding gift from James Smithson in 1846. From it, $70mn will be earmarked to support the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million to launch a new education center at the museum. Bezos has a past history of supporting the Smithsonian though his latest donation represents his biggest support yet for the organi

SPAC: SEC Charges Stable Road, Momentus Over False Claims

In one of the first such cases of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formally pressing charges on a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the agency opened a case against Stable Road Acquisition Company , a SPAC, and   Momentus , a spaceflight startup that is its merger target. The SEC on Monday announced charges against Stable Road and Momentus and the firms' respective CEOs for making misleading claims to investors about Momentus' technology and national security concerns surrounding  Mikhail Kokorich , the Russian founder and CEO of the space company. Last October, Momentus agreed to merge with Stable Road to become a public company. The merger terms valued Momentus at $1.2bn (later halved ), despite the company being in the pre-revenue stage. As usual with SPACs, the pitch given to investors was ambitious and overtly promising, with Momentus claiming it had “successfully tested” its spacecraft propulsion technology. But, the SEC said not so fast, objec

'Buy Now, Pay Later' Firm Affirm Has A Major Rival Brewing

The industry of 'buy now, pay later' online shopping has boomed as of late, both in the US and abroad. In the US, it's led by Klarna , a Swedish company of origin, and Affirm , a company set up by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin that went public early this year. Now, after just a few months on the public markets, it appears that Affirm is about to face a big rival with big cash coffers in the 'buy now, pay later' market. That brewing rival is none other than iPhone maker Apple , which is working with bank Goldman Sachs to launch a 'buy now, pay later' service, according to a Bloomberg report . According to the report, Apple's upcoming service is known internally as Apple Pay Later and will use Goldman Sachs as the lender for installment loans. Goldman has been Apple's sole partner for the Apple Card credit card since it launched in 2019, but it appears that the company's Pay Later service won't even be tied to the card, Bloomberg reports. Ap

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Deal: Mindbody Buys Fitness Startup ClassPass

Mindbody , a leading maker of software for managing gyms and fitness studios, is buying one of the hot startups in its industry. It's buying ClassPass , a popular subscription platform for widespread gym access and online fitness classes. Mindbody will buy Classpass for an undisclosed amount . The company, owned by private equity firm Vista, also announced a strategic $500mn investment along with its ClassPass deal. The acquisition was all with privately held shares, Mindbody said. ClassPass is a celebrated startup in the fitness space. It began as a simple website to book fitness classes with registered studios but morphed into a subscription platform for access to such studios and their fitness classes, with many users paying recurring fees as a steady revenue source.  ClassPass was valued at $1bn from a funding round last year. Given the acquisition's pricing terms weren't disclosed, we can't say for sure if it was higher or lower than the $1bn mark, but for a hint,

Tether Fined $41M For Lying About Fiat Reserves

Tether Limited , the organization behind the eponymous Tether (USDT) stablecoin, has been fined a substantial sum for lying about the fiat reserves backing its stablecoin. It was fined $41mn by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the CFTC's press release , Tether lied to customers that it had sufficient dollar reserves to back every issued USDT token whereas it did not for a long period of time. Over a 26-month sample period from 2016 through 2018, the CFTC said Tether only had sufficient dollar reserves for all its tokens 28% of the time, whereas it lied that it was "fully-backed" all the time. Also, the CFTC said Tether failed to disclose to customers that it had unsecured receivables and non-fiat assets in its supposed cash reserves. The organization further lied to customers that it would undergo routine, professional audits of its reserves but has failed to do any, the CFTC said. For its violations, the CFTC fined ordered Tether to pay a

Deal: Scopely Buys Sony's GSN Games For $1B

Scopely , a top-ranking mobile gaming startup, is expanding its business with a new major acquisition. It's buying GSN Games , a mobile gaming division of entertainment giant Sony, for the sum of $1bn. GSN Games makes popular social casino games such as Bingo Bash and  Solitaire TriPeaks . Social casino games are a genre where gaming studios can extract much revenue if they do it right, and GSN is one of the top contenders in the genre. Scopely will pay $1bn for GSN Games, half of it with cash and the other half with its shares, making Sony a minority shareholder in the mobile gaming company. It's said that Scopely's valuation has climbed to $5.4bn taking into account the shares it'll hand over to Sony as payment. That compares to a $3.3bn valuation when the company raised funding last year.  With GSN, Scopely is stepping up its business substantially by the way of a strategic acquisition. It's a strategy the mobile gaming startup is used to, having made 5 acqui

Microsoft CEO, Other Execs Bag Annual Pay Raises

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

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

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

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pros, AirPods

Tech giant Apple has added a new set of products to its roster, including new MacBook Pro laptops and AirPods unveiled at a Tuesday online event.  Apple also unveiled new chipsets for the new MacBook Pros, the M1 Pro and M1 Max . MacBook Pros Apple unveiled two MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and 16-inch model. Both will come with the first chipsets designed by Apple specifically for a MacBook Pro, delivering high performance, expectedly.  Apple has brought back the HDMI port and SD card reader to the new MacBook Pro, in addition to three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect peripherals. Removing the HDMI port and SD card reader in MacBooks had generated significant complaints by some Apple users, but it appears they'll be pleased again if they get the new MacBook Pros. Other shared features of the new MacBook Pros include; A 1080p front camera. MagSafe magnetic chargers. Six-speaker sound system. Fast charging - 50% charge in 30 minutes, Apple claims. Touch bar replaced by function keys. One

Deal: Australia's Aristocrat To Buy Playtech For $3.7B

The online gambling industry is hot this year, with billion-dollar deals now a frequent occurrence. The latest billion-dollar deal is Playtech , a London-listed online gambling company, selling to Aristocrat Leisure , an Australian gambling machine manufacturer. Playtech was founded in 1999 by Israeli entrepreneur Teddy Sagi . However, he sold off all his shares  in the company in 2018 and won't profit from this deal. Don't cry for him though, he made other shrewd investments that bestowed him with a net worth nearing $6bn ( Forbes estimate ). Aristocrat (ASX: ALL) has agreed to buy Playtech (LON: PTEC) in a deal worth £2.7bn ($3.7bn). The Australian firm will pay $2.9bn to buy all outstanding Playtech shares and assume $800mn of the firm's debt. It's paying 680 pence in cash per Playtech share, a 58% premium to the company's share price before the announcement. Following the announcement, Playtech's share price jerked up, expectedly. It rose 57% on Monday to

Fast Fashion E-Tailer Lulu's Files For IPO

Lulu's , an online retailer of women's apparel, is headed towards the public markets. It's filed an S-1 document for an initial public offering (IPO), showing its intent to list on the Nasdaq exchange. As expected from S-1 filings, Lulu's has provided great insights into its business, with information not publicly disclosed before. Something very noteworthy is that the online shopping boom of this year emanating from the Covid pandemic has largely favored the company. By The Numbers For its most recent fiscal quarter, the three months ended October 3, 2021, Lulu's brought in between $105mn to $106mn in revenue. Its net income for the same period was at the $3mn-$4mn mark. The estimations are because the final, audited results haven't yet been posted. For the fiscal year ended January 3, 2021, Lulu's posted $249mn in revenue and a net loss of $19mn. It shows that the company has swung from losses to profitability this year, with the net profit of between $3m

Antitrust: Facebook Fined $70M Over Giphy Takeover Probe

The UK's antitrust agency has levied a substantial fine on social media giant Facebook related to its acquisition of Giphy , the popular GIF website. It fined the company  £50.5mn ($69mn) for flouting an order requiring it to supply information related to the agency's investigation of the $400mn acquisition. The UK's  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)  launched a  formal probe  of the Giphy deal last June. The antitrust agency challenged the deal  after probing it,  arguing that it gave Facebook an unfair advantage over rivals that also used Giphy's GIF database. It appears that Facebook failed to comply with demands from the agency's investigation and has been penalized for it. Apparently, the UK's antitrust agency required Facebook to suspend integrating its operations with Giphy's as the agency was investigating the acquisition, but Facebook had failed to indicate it did so despite multiple warnings. "This should serve as a warning to any com

Deal: Walgreens Invests $5.2B In VillageMD, Now Majority Owner

Walgreens Boots Alliance , the giant American pharmacy chain, is doubling down on its investment in one of its healthcare peers; the primary care chain VillageMD . After a previous investment last year, Walgreens is investing an additional sum in VillageMD that'll make it the primary care chain's majority owner. Walgreens has agreed to invest $5.2bn in VillageMD, upping its stake from 30% to 63%. It'll become the primary care chain's majority owner and guide it under its belt to open hundreds of primary care clinics co-located with Walgreens drugstores across the US. The investment is really strategic, giving Walgreens majority ownership in the firm that'll operate most of the primary care clinics attached to its stores. We can refer to it as "full-stack healthcare", where you visit a Walgreens-owned clinic and get prescriptions to buy drugs at a Walgreens pharmacy, though we're aware not everyone is comfortable with one company having that much cont