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Showing posts from October, 2021

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

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

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,

Alert: US FDA Permits First E-Cigarettes, Citing Smoker Benefits

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized its first set of electronic cigarette products, citing some benefits to their use for adult smokers trying to quit tobacco. The authorization is noteworthy for general e-cigarette products that have been tainted with scandals and controversy for their high use rate among teens.  The FDA permitted three e-cigarette products from Vuse Solo , a brand distributed by British American Tobacco (LON: BATS). Vuse is the No. 2 vaping brand in the US behind Juul, a rival currently in the FDA's crosshairs . Vuse sought permissions for 13 vape products, but 10 were denied, and only 3 were accepted. It shows the FDA's strictness in regulating vape products after locking its eyes on the sector. As it permitted its first vape products, the FDA issued strict guidelines concerning their marketing, including restricting internet, radio, and TV ads to "greatly reduce the potential for youth exposure." For a long time, vape pr

LG To Pay GM Up To $1.9B For Supplying Faulty EV Batteries

LG Group , the South Korean electronics and chemicals giant, is reimbursing a significant amount of money for supplying faulty batteries to one of its biggest customers, American automaker General Motors (GM) . It'll reimburse GM  up to $1.9bn  to cover the costs of the automaker's massive recall of its Chevy   Bolt electric cars containing LG batteries. Apparently, LG supplied faulty battery modules to GM for use in its Bolt EVs. These faulty batteries made all Bolts a significant fire risk that caused GM to organize a total recall, costing the American automaker a considerable sum. Because of the fault found with LG's batteries, the Korean company negotiated with GM and agreed to cover the majority of costs of the automaker's total recall. While the final recall costs haven't been set, GM has said  it'll offset $1.9bn of the $2bn in charges associated with the recall in its next quarterly report, implying LG could pay up to that amount. Separately, two LG Cor

AR Startup Magic Leap Is Back, With $500M In Funding

Not too long ago, there was a hot-cake startup that left VCs frothing at their mouths. This startup was building augmented reality (AR) headsets that promised to upend the industry. It was able to raise $3bn on the backs of its hype, but when it delivered its first product, people were greatly unimpressed . Problems came, its CEO stepped down, and the startup faded out of view....It was Magic Leap . However, Magic Leap has jerked back into the public sphere with a new milestone. The startup has announced   $500mn in fresh funding that'll be used to put final touches to its second-generation product. It appears that investors are still hopeful of the company delivering its promise despite its earlier woes. The investors that provided the fresh funding weren't named. Notably, it's not a funding round that warrants a celebration because it heavily diluted the stakes of earlier investors. The new funding valued Magic Leap at $2bn post-money , the company said, which is less

At KKR, Historic Private Equity Barons Step Down

Two of the godfathers of modern-day private equity investing, Henry Kravis and George Roberts  of the famous leveraged buyout firm  KKR (NYSE: KKR), have handed in the reins by stepping down as Co-CEOs from their firm. Replacements have been named for them, effectively . Henry Kravis and George Roberts, together with the late Jerome Kohlberg, pioneered America's industry of "leveraged buyouts (LBO)" where Wall Street firms bought companies using borrowed money, with the companies themselves used as collateral for debt and their future profits used to pay it down.  LBOs built a reputation as a form of "ruthless" capitalism that continues to this day, because of some strong-arming tactics by which Wall Street firms chased after them. This tainted reputation made LBO firms rebrand to what we currently call private equity firms. At KKR, Kravis and Roberts' landmark deal was acquiring RJR Nabisco , a tobacco and food giant, for $25bn , mostly borrowed money,  in

Apple Appeals Ruling Of Legal Brawl With Epic Games

Tech giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has filed an appeal against the court judgment of its legal battle with Epic Games , the studio behind hit video game Fortnite . The battle stemmed from Apple's 30% fee on in-app purchases made through its App Store that Epic tried to avoid by enabling sideloading of Fortnite on iOS, but got the game blocked from the App Store in retaliation. The legal brawl between Apple and Epic is one of the landmark events of the tech industry this year. Both companies played it out in court with a three-week trial in May before the first ruling of the case was issued this September. The ruling, by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez of California, was a compromise for both Apple and Epic rather than a solid win or loss for any party. For Apple, it was ordered to allow iOS apps to direct users to payment options other than its own. At the same time, Epic was found to breach its contract with Apple by enabling sideloading and ordered to restitute Apple's 30% cut on Fortnit

Personal Finance Startup NerdWallet Files For IPO

NerdWallet , a popular financial information website, has unveiled its S-1 paperwork filed with the US SEC for an initial public offering (IPO). It's the latest fintech startup kickstarting a journey to the public markets at a time when investor sentiment towards public fintech companies is very favorable. NerdWallet is a popular online destination for financial advice and information pertaining primarily to Americans. It makes money from promoting financial products to its users and getting commissions when purchased, a very lucrative business, as the S-1 paperwork indicates. According to the S-1, NerdWallet has a big business that's also profitable . The company posted $245mn in revenue and a small net profit of $6mn in 2020. In 2019, it posted $228mn in revenue and a $24mn net profit.  However, in the first half of 2021, NerdWallet posted a net loss $27mn, though its revenue for the same period grew 32% year-over-year to $182mn. Basically, NerdWallet is a very solid busines

EVs: Tesla Relocates HQ From California To Texas

Electric carmaker Tesla is moving its headquarters away from California to the state of Texas. The company made this known in its latest annual shareholder meeting .  That Tesla is relocating its HQ to Texas isn't much of a bombshell. It has been, in fact, major speculation for a while that was spurred by the carmaker's CEO Elon Musk relocating from California to Texas last December . California and Texas are two states where Tesla has enormous operations, though California takes the crown for seeing Tesla grow from a small startup into a carmaking giant. Tesla's California factory was the most crucial to its success, where it cranked up its manufacturing prowess at the smaller stage in preparation for bigger things to come. Though it's relocating, Tesla says it'll retain its vast manufacturing and sales operations in California and continue to expand. "To be clear we will be continuing to expand our activities in California," CEO Musk said. "Our inte

Markets: China's Meituan Fined $530M For Monopolistic Conduct

Meituan , a Chinese food delivery giant, has been levied a big fine in its home base of China. The country's State Administration for Market Regulation has fined Meituan 3.44 billion yuan ($533mn) for monopolistic conduct, amounting to 3% of the company's 2020 revenue.  Meituan is the second Chinese tech company to be levied a hefty fine as the country has toughened its regulation on its domestic tech companies. The first was Alibaba , the e-commerce giant, which was fined $2.8bn  this April. Along with the fine, Meituan was also ordered to return 1.29 billion yuan ($200mn) of deposits stemming from exclusivity agreements with restaurants signed up on its food delivery app. Such agreements barred restaurants working with Meituan from offering takeout food delivery on rival platforms and required deposits to be put in place that Meituan claimed the right to deduct from were the agreement breached. Meituan is a food delivery giant in a country that constitutes the world's l

Deal: IAC Buys Meredith's Magazine Business For $2.7B

IAC , a tech and media conglomerate run by mogul Barry Diller, is buying the magazine publishing operations of  Meredith Corp , a publicly traded media conglomerate. Meredith has a roster of popular American magazines that include  People  and Better Homes & Gardens . IAC will pay $2.7bn to buy Meredith's magazine business and merge it with its own Dotdash digital publishing business. Together, they'll form a digital-cum-print publishing giant with over $1bn in annual sales. The combined company will be named Dotdash Meredith . Though $2.7bn sounds big at face value, IAC is buying Meredith's magazine operations on the cheap, not surprising given the general decline of print media in this era. For contextual purposes, Meredith had  $3.2bn to spend  to buy Time Inc , a major magazine publisher, just three years ago, but it's now offloading its entire magazine operations for less than that amount.  For IAC's Dotdash, combining with a magazine publisher is a very s

Deal: AppLovin Buys Twitter's MoPub For $1B

AppLovin , a publicly traded ad-tech company, is buying MoPub , a mobile ad platform owned by social media giant Twitter. AppLovin will pay Twitter $1.05bn in cash for the platform in a strategic deal for both companies. For AppLovin, having MoPub would boost its business in the ad-tech space, while for Twitter, selling MoPub frees the company to focus on its core social media offerings, or at least that's the way CEO Jack Dorsey puts it .  Twitter paid $350mn to buy MoPub back in 2013 as a ramp to build its custom online ad platform. Now, it appears MoPub has delivered a good bang for the buck both by helping build Twitter's ad business and getting sold for 3x the price it was bought for eight years later. AppLovin, MoPub's acquirer, is an ad-tech platform for mobile app developers to monetize their apps. Founded just in 2012, it's built a rapidly-growing business that brought in  $1.5bn in revenue in 2020. AppLovin held an initial public offering (IPO) this April t

SPAC: Quantum Computing Startup Rigetti To Go Public In $1.5B Deal

Rigetti Computing , a startup working in the difficult space of quantum computing, will go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company in a deal valuing it at $1.5bn . Rigetti is merging with  Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II (NYSE: SNII), a SPAC formed by Spencer Rascoff, the co-founder of real estate tech giant Zillow. Rascoff has launched three serial SPACs under the Supernova name, the second of which Rigetti will merge with. From the merger, Rigetti will get $345mn of cash held in trust by the Supernova SPAC, assuming no investor redemptions, but that's a bold assumption these days where the average SPAC deal redemption is more than 50% .  Additionally, Rigetti will raise a $100mn PIPE round from investors including Palantir Technologies (NYSE: PLTR); Keysight Technologies, a maker of electronics test equipment; and In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Rigetti is a high-growth startup founded in 2013. It's

Markets: Ed-Tech Company Udemy Files For IPO

Udemy , a popular platform for online educational courses, is the latest tech company to begin the journey towards listing on the public markets. It has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, where it's based. Udemy has unveiled an S-1 filing  with the US SEC, showing its intent to list on the Nasdaq exchange. As usual, the S-1 document provides great insight into the ed-tech company's business with information not publicly disclosed before.  Udemy is a vast marketplace for online courses covering many fields. It is primarily a marketplace and doesn't employ teachers directly. It takes fees from courses sold on its platform as revenue. The marketplace business for online education is apparently a very strong one, enough to pull in $430mn of revenue for Udemy in 2020, compared to $276mn in 2019. In the first half of 2021, Udemy made $251mn in revenue, up 24% year-over-year. The pandemic of 2020 led to a boom in demand for online education, and it shows that Ud

Markets: US Chipmaker GlobalFoundries Files For IPO

GlobalFoundries , an American semiconductor manufacturer owned by Abu Dhabi-based investor Mubadala , has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the US. The filing counters rumors that Intel was in talks to buy the chipmaker for $30bn, as it's opted to remain independent but publicly traded. GlobalFoundries was previously the semiconductor manufacturing business of AMD, the now-renowned high-end chipset maker. Back in 2008, when AMD was still a lesser-known company, it spun off its semiconductor manufacturing business and sold it in a series of transactions to Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala, the last in 2012. Mubadala is a sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under its guidance, GlobalFoundries has expanded thanks to strategic acquisitions and business deals. GlobalFoundries has filed an F-1 document with the US SEC as expected for a company under foreign ownership seeking to go public. The document provides great insight into the company's business with

Deal: Qualcomm, SSW To Buy Sweden's Veoneer For $4.5B

Chipmaking giant Qualcomm has emerged as the winning bidder for Veoneer (NYSE: VNE), a Swedish company that makes hardware and software systems for automated and assisted driving. The company beat out Magna , the Canadian auto parts giant, to emerge with the winning bid. In July, Magna agreed to buy Veoneer for $3.8bn in cash . However, Qualcomm submitted a higher offer of $4.5bn a month after Magna's agreement, beating the Canadian company's price considerably.  Expectedly, Veoneer shareholders have accepted the higher offer and agreed to a sale to Qualcomm. But there's a catch, Qualcomm won't buy Veoneer solely but is partnering with a New York-based investment firm, SSW Partners , for the deal. As the deal is structured, SSW Partners will first buy Veoneer for $4.5bn including debt and then sell part of the company to Qualcomm while it retains another part. The part that'll be sold to Qualcomm is the Arriver  business, Veoneer's subsidiary working on autom

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Alert: US FDA Permits First E-Cigarettes, Citing Smoker Benefits

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized its first set of electronic cigarette products, citing some benefits to their use for adult smokers trying to quit tobacco. The authorization is noteworthy for general e-cigarette products that have been tainted with scandals and controversy for their high use rate among teens.  The FDA permitted three e-cigarette products from Vuse Solo , a brand distributed by British American Tobacco (LON: BATS). Vuse is the No. 2 vaping brand in the US behind Juul, a rival currently in the FDA's crosshairs . Vuse sought permissions for 13 vape products, but 10 were denied, and only 3 were accepted. It shows the FDA's strictness in regulating vape products after locking its eyes on the sector. As it permitted its first vape products, the FDA issued strict guidelines concerning their marketing, including restricting internet, radio, and TV ads to "greatly reduce the potential for youth exposure." For a long time, vape pr

Apple Appeals Ruling Of Legal Brawl With Epic Games

Tech giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has filed an appeal against the court judgment of its legal battle with Epic Games , the studio behind hit video game Fortnite . The battle stemmed from Apple's 30% fee on in-app purchases made through its App Store that Epic tried to avoid by enabling sideloading of Fortnite on iOS, but got the game blocked from the App Store in retaliation. The legal brawl between Apple and Epic is one of the landmark events of the tech industry this year. Both companies played it out in court with a three-week trial in May before the first ruling of the case was issued this September. The ruling, by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez of California, was a compromise for both Apple and Epic rather than a solid win or loss for any party. For Apple, it was ordered to allow iOS apps to direct users to payment options other than its own. At the same time, Epic was found to breach its contract with Apple by enabling sideloading and ordered to restitute Apple's 30% cut on Fortnit

LG To Pay GM Up To $1.9B For Supplying Faulty EV Batteries

LG Group , the South Korean electronics and chemicals giant, is reimbursing a significant amount of money for supplying faulty batteries to one of its biggest customers, American automaker General Motors (GM) . It'll reimburse GM  up to $1.9bn  to cover the costs of the automaker's massive recall of its Chevy   Bolt electric cars containing LG batteries. Apparently, LG supplied faulty battery modules to GM for use in its Bolt EVs. These faulty batteries made all Bolts a significant fire risk that caused GM to organize a total recall, costing the American automaker a considerable sum. Because of the fault found with LG's batteries, the Korean company negotiated with GM and agreed to cover the majority of costs of the automaker's total recall. While the final recall costs haven't been set, GM has said  it'll offset $1.9bn of the $2bn in charges associated with the recall in its next quarterly report, implying LG could pay up to that amount. Separately, two LG Cor

AR Startup Magic Leap Is Back, With $500M In Funding

Not too long ago, there was a hot-cake startup that left VCs frothing at their mouths. This startup was building augmented reality (AR) headsets that promised to upend the industry. It was able to raise $3bn on the backs of its hype, but when it delivered its first product, people were greatly unimpressed . Problems came, its CEO stepped down, and the startup faded out of view....It was Magic Leap . However, Magic Leap has jerked back into the public sphere with a new milestone. The startup has announced   $500mn in fresh funding that'll be used to put final touches to its second-generation product. It appears that investors are still hopeful of the company delivering its promise despite its earlier woes. The investors that provided the fresh funding weren't named. Notably, it's not a funding round that warrants a celebration because it heavily diluted the stakes of earlier investors. The new funding valued Magic Leap at $2bn post-money , the company said, which is less

Personal Finance Startup NerdWallet Files For IPO

NerdWallet , a popular financial information website, has unveiled its S-1 paperwork filed with the US SEC for an initial public offering (IPO). It's the latest fintech startup kickstarting a journey to the public markets at a time when investor sentiment towards public fintech companies is very favorable. NerdWallet is a popular online destination for financial advice and information pertaining primarily to Americans. It makes money from promoting financial products to its users and getting commissions when purchased, a very lucrative business, as the S-1 paperwork indicates. According to the S-1, NerdWallet has a big business that's also profitable . The company posted $245mn in revenue and a small net profit of $6mn in 2020. In 2019, it posted $228mn in revenue and a $24mn net profit.  However, in the first half of 2021, NerdWallet posted a net loss $27mn, though its revenue for the same period grew 32% year-over-year to $182mn. Basically, NerdWallet is a very solid busines

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

At KKR, Historic Private Equity Barons Step Down

Two of the godfathers of modern-day private equity investing, Henry Kravis and George Roberts  of the famous leveraged buyout firm  KKR (NYSE: KKR), have handed in the reins by stepping down as Co-CEOs from their firm. Replacements have been named for them, effectively . Henry Kravis and George Roberts, together with the late Jerome Kohlberg, pioneered America's industry of "leveraged buyouts (LBO)" where Wall Street firms bought companies using borrowed money, with the companies themselves used as collateral for debt and their future profits used to pay it down.  LBOs built a reputation as a form of "ruthless" capitalism that continues to this day, because of some strong-arming tactics by which Wall Street firms chased after them. This tainted reputation made LBO firms rebrand to what we currently call private equity firms. At KKR, Kravis and Roberts' landmark deal was acquiring RJR Nabisco , a tobacco and food giant, for $25bn , mostly borrowed money,  in

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,

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

Analysis: Dissecting GitLab's S-1 Filing

This week, one startup caught us off guard with a filing for an initial public offering that was unveiled late on Friday . It was GitLab , a popular code repository hosting service that's the main rival to GitHub .  GitLab recently unveiled its S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) as is usual for companies taking the IPO route on the US markets. The S-1 filing provided great insight and detail into GitLab's business with information not publicly disclosed before, and we're here to dissect some of the most important information extracted from the bulky filing. Firstly, we'll be focusing on revenue and sales numbers which is of course the primary statistic for every business. Let's start with the fact GitLab has a solid business model bringing in solid sales and growing steadily, but the company is racking up significant losses.  Business Model : GitLab makes money by charging enterprise customers for paid features and integrations of its