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British Fintech TransferWise Rebrands As Wise, Ahead Of IPO

The British fintech company TransferWise has carried out a major rebrand, announcing that it'll now adopt only the second suffix of its name, Wise . TransferWise has launched a new homepage, Wise.com, and says that it'll roll over all its current customers into the domain name by next month March. TransferWise's rebrand as just Wise comes as the company has been reported to be pursuing a soon public offering. Just last month, a report from Sky News said that TransferWise had picked two major wall street banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to serve as lead book-runners for a planned public offering, and it's expected that the company will list in its home base of London. That TransferWise is reported to be eyeing a soon public offering shouldn't be surprising.  Founded in 2010 as a mere money transfer service, the company has expanded rapidly into one of Europe's premier fintech companies with other services including digital bank accounts for individuals a

Stock Trading App Public.com Raises $220M, Valued At $1.2B

In an era of heightened stock trading from retail investors, it seems that the companies really doing good in this era are those selling shovels in a gold rush. This very month, the popular stock trading app Robinhood raised a single funding round of $3.4 billion  after reeling from the GameStop short squeeze saga . Now, another stock trading app has followed Robinhood's lead to raise a big new round. Public.com, a stock trading app for retail investors that launched only eighteen months ago, has announced that it's raised a new $220 million Series D round that values it at $1.2 billion. The round comes just two months after the company raised a $65 million Series C round and on the heels of it hitting a milestone of 1 million users according to its stats. A mix of big-name investors chipped into the $220 million round, including Tiger Global, electronic duo The Chainsmokers’ Mantis VC, superstar actor Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, Inspired Capital, Aglae Ventures, and YouTube sta

'Buy Now, Pay Later' Firm Affirm Posts First Earnings Report

After going public with a blockbuster listing last month, the 'buy now, pay later' company Affirm (NASDAQ:AFRM) has reported its first quarterly earnings as a public company and posted strong revenues in its fiscal year 2021 second quarter. Affirm posted total revenues of $204 million in its fiscal 2021 second quarter, a 57% increase over the year. The company boosted its gross merchandise volume (GMV) up by 55% over the year to $2.1 billion in the quarter.  Affirm isn't profitable, with a net loss of $31.6 million in its fiscal 2021 second quarter. This is slightly unchanged from a $31 million net loss that it posted in the same quarter last year. Affirm is fresh off an initial public offering that raised $1.3 billion before expenses for the company, and with that, it has enough cash to withstand losses as it works to expand. During the recent quarter which marked its first quarter as a public company, the company completed a major acquisition, purchasing the Canadian 

Mike Cagney's Figure Files For $250M SPAC

Figure, a blockchain lending startup founded by Mike Cagney of SoFi fame, is the latest company to form and launch its own special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It's filed with the US SEC to raise $250 million for an eponymous SPAC named  Figure Acquisition Corp. I . The SPAC formed by Figure and Mike Cagney hasn't yet indicated any areas of industry where it's seeking a merger target, but for a hint, being formed by a company rather than investment firms and individuals like most SPACs are formed, it's likely that Figure's SPAC will merge with a company with its industry, fintech and blockchain. Figure is a digital mortgage lending platform that says it adopts blockchain technology to make the lending process easier. Founded in 2018, the company has already raised over $200 million in venture funding and was valued at $1.2 billion from its most recent fundraising round. Before founding Figure, Mike Cagney founded the fintech giant SoFi first as a student lo

Payments Company Payoneer Joins SPAC Boom

As this new year and the previous have marked themselves as the years of the most mergers of technology companies with special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), the latest company to join the SPAC boom by sealing a merger deal is Payoneer, an American digital payments provider that allows people to send and money receive money worldwide. Payoneer has announced a merger agreement with FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:FTOCU), a SPAC formed by the veteran female banker Betsy Cohen. Payoneer will merge with FTAC Olympus in a deal that values the company at $3.3 billion. From its merger, Payoneer is expected to receive $563 million in cash including a $300 million cash infusion committed by institutional investors like Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Millenium Management, T. Rowe Price, and the Dragoneer Investment Group. As usual, the rest of the money will come from that held in trust by the SPAC that Payoneer is merging with, FTAC Olympus in its case. Payoneer is looking to go p

UK Clamps Down On 'Buy Now, Pay Later' Apps

The UK government has said that it'll place a close watch on the rising 'buy now, pay later' industry that provides a way for consumers to make steep purchases on credit and then pay back in installments to the lender.  The UK Treasury has said that buy-now-pay-later companies operating in the UK would now fall under the supervision of the country's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will stipulate regulations like affordability checks before loans are made to consumers. The placement of buy-now-pay-later firms under closer regulatory watch follows concerns from consumer groups of customers, particularly young ones, getting lured into debt traps with the use of such services. These apps usually work like a credit card by providing loans to users to make purchases but without the steeper regulatory standards that credit card companies are held to. Providing easy-to-access loans, the main concern is that buy-now-pay-later products could encourage people to spend mor

Brazilian Digital Bank Nubank Raises $400M, Valued At $25B

Nubank, a digital banking company based in Brazil that's made its mark as one of the biggest in the Latin American market, has raised a new Series G funding round of $400 million that values it at a whopping $25 billion.  The Series G round came from a mix of new and existing investors including Singapore's GIC, Invesco, Ribbit Capital, Dragoneer, and Sequoia Capital. With it, Nubank has now raised a total of $1.2 billion in venture funding since it was founded. With a $25 billion valuation, Nubank appears to now be the highest-valued digital banking startup worldwide, speeding past American and European peers such as Revolut, Chime, and N26. It's very notable that the highest-valued digital banking company globally emerged from Latin America, a region that's not known to house a technology industry as big as that of other regions such as North America and Europe. Nubank has succeeded very well as a digital banking service since it was launched seven years ago. It's

Tastytrade Sells For $1B; 2nd Big Exit For Founder

Tastytrade is a popular platform that provides financial media and content for investors and traders as well as provides a platform for its users to trade options and derivatives. Now, it's the latest fintech startup to head for a big exit with a $1 billion sale to the British electronic trading company IGN Group. Tastytrade will be joining IGN in a deal valued at $1 billion net of cash held by Tastytrade. The price is split into $300 million in cash and the remainder with IGN stock. It represents a lucrative exit for Tastytrade which is backed by some $47 million in venture funding. Apparently, IGN, a British company that provides options and derivatives trading and brokerage services for professional investors, is betting that the appeal of retail investors that Tastytrade targets will boost its business. It's agreed to pay a big $1 billion for a company with more than 105,000 active trading accounts that'll then fall under its control. Tastytrade's $1 billion sale r

Digital Lending Startup Blend Raises $300M, Valued At $3.3B

Blend, a startup that makes software for mortgage and digital lending providers, has closed a $300 million Series G round that doubled its valuation to $3.3 billion compared to five months ago. The round was led by the investment firms Coatue and Tiger Global. It was only five months ago that Blend raised $75 million in a funding round that valued it at $1.7 billion. Now, five months later, that valuation has roughly doubled, hinting at very good business prospects for Blend. 2020 was a very good year for the mortgage and consumer lending markets and saw the US mortgage market volume top a record $4 trillion . In the same year, consumer debt hit a record of $14.3 trillion .  Obviously, Blend has benefitted from the lending market surge given it provides software used by the lenders. The company's software is used by over 285 financial institutions in the US including Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, claiming to process over $4 billion in mortgages and loans each day. With its new funding

Bond Trading Platform Trumid Nabs $50M Top-Up Round

After closing a $200 million round in August 2020, the online bond trading platform Trumid has topped up its coffers with a new $50 million round co-led by new investor DST Global and existing backer Dragoneer Investment Group.  The $50 million round is a secondary round, all being used to buy stakes from current existing shareholders and not going to the company. It values Trumid at $1.4 billion, compared to $1 billion when it closed the $200 million round last year. The $50 million round comes at a time of very good fortunes for Trumid, with the company stating that its Market Center trading platform has experienced 374% year-over-year volume growth. Trumid has boosted its client network to 530 institutions and the number of traders on its platform by 129% over the year. This month, Trumid entered into a strategic partnership with the banking giant Goldman Sachs to provide trading services to Goldman's clients. With the new round co-led by DST Global and Dragoneer, Trumid has no

Affirm Pops On IPO Day

The 'buy now, pay later' company Affirm has finally gone public, doing so to great investor sentiment that pushed its share price up over 100%. Affirm sold shares at $49 apiece and saw its shares rise to $99 during trading on Wednesday. The company raised $1.2 billion from its IPO. Affirm initially priced its shares at between $33 to $38, then $41 to $44, and later settled at $49. Even with the increased share price target, Affirm still popped high on its market debut, indicating great interest and sentiment from investors. Affirm was meant to hold a public offering in December 2020 but postponed its planned offering to adjust its pricing strategy after witnessing the IPO pops of DoorDash and Airbnb. Even after adjusting its pricing strategy, Affirm still couldn't hold off a high pop on the stock market and theoretically left money on the table by selling shares at a price significantly lower than could be tolerated by investors. Affirm filed to go public in November and

UK Fintech Rapyd Valued At $2.5B With New Funding Round

The UK-based payments startup Rapyd has raised a new funding round of $300 million that values it at $2.5 billion. The Series D round was led by the American investment firm Coatue Management, with participation from other new and existing investors including Spark Capital, Tiger Global, Durable Capital, FJ Labs, and Latitude. With the new round, Rapyd's $2.5 billion valuation doubled the $1.2 billion valuation that it got from a previous funding round. Now, the London-based payments startup has raised a total of over $400 million in venture funding. Rapyd is a payments platform that enables enterprises and businesses to handle local and cross-border transactions easily. It bills itself as a "Fintech-as-a-Service" platform, one that brings together 900-plus payment methods in over 100 countries on one platform to help businesses handle online payments with ease. With its new funding, Rapyd will work to expand its reach by doubling its engineering and product teams. The co

Visa Cancels $5.3B Plaid Buy After DOJ Pushback

The payments company Visa has withdrawn from its proposed $5 billion acquisition of the fintech startup Plaid after opposition from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over antitrust concerns, a statement from the DOJ candidates. Visa has apparently pulled out from what would have been one of the biggest acquisitions in fintech history after the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the company that alleged it sought to acquire Plaid to kill off potential competition. As a lawsuit against Visa was brought, the case was scheduled to begin court proceedings on the 28th of June, 2021, but now with the acquisition canceled, the DOJ has filed to dismiss the case. The canceling of an agreed $5.3 billion acquisition seems like a very big blow for Plaid, which was on the cusp of one of the biggest exits from the fintech industry. The San Francisco-based startup whose platform enables businesses to link to their customers' bank accounts reached a definitive agreement for an acquisition in January 202

UK Fintech Checkout.com Valued At $15B With New Funding Round

Checkout.com, a fintech startup based in the UK, has announced  that it's raised a $450 million Series C round that values it at $15 billion, a valuation that makes Checkout.com now the most valuable startup in Europe.  The $450 million round was led by the US-based investment firm Tiger Global, with participation from Greenoaks Capital and other existing investors including DST Global, Coatue Management, Endeavor Catalyst, and Insight Partners. With its new funding, Checkout.com says it'll open new offices in New York and Denver to further expand in the US. The new offices will make Checkout.com have three offices in the US, the third being one in San Francisco that it opened a few years ago. Checkout.com is on an expansion spree and says that it'll hire an additional 700 people in 2021. The company has raised $830 million in venture funding within the last two years and plans to put that money towards significant expansion. Checkout.com offers a platform for enterprises t

Fintech Company SoFi To Go Public

The fintech company Social Finance "SoFi" has sealed a deal to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), it announced on Thursday. SoFi will merge with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. V, the fifth succession of SPACs launched by the venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya. SoFi's SPAC merger is expected to hand it over $2.4 billion in cash proceeds and value it at $8.65 billion at market debut. The $2.4 billion includes money held in trust by  Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. V and more money committed by other investors  including BlackRock, Altimeter Capital, Durable Capital Partners, and Baron Capital Group. SoFi is a fintech company that offers digital financial services including lending, investing, wealth management, and expense management. The company also operates a platform named Galileo that's built for banks and financial firms to connect with their digital users (SoFi paid $1.2 billion to buy Galileo l

Affirm Seeks To Raise $935M From IPO

The 'buy now, pay later' service Affirm is seeking to raise up to $935 million from its imminent public listing by selling 24.6 million shares for $33 to $38 each. With an over-allotment option, Affirm may sell 28.2 million shares and raise even over $1 billion as calculated from the $38 higher-end price range. Affirm was earlier expected to hold its public listing in December 2020 but postponed its IPO seemingly to adjust its pricing strategy. The company appears to have taken note of the significant first-day pops of two major IPOs that happened in December, Airbnb and DoorDash, and apparently saw both companies leave a lot of money on the table by offering shares at a significantly lower price than could be tolerated by investors. With the case of Airbnb and DoorDash, Affirm postponed its IPO to 2021 apparently to adjust its pricing strategy and target a share price that won't leave much money on the table with a high first-day pop. A 'buy now, pay later' service

China Probing Ant Group Investments?

Amid the regulatory scuffle between Chinese authorities and the local fintech giant Ant Group, regulators from China have turned towards another center of attention in Ant's probe, this time its equity investments in other companies, Reuters reports . The report says regulators are probing and considering whether to urge Ant to divest some of its investments in other firms if they violate antitrust rules with unfair market competition. Ant Group is notably one of the biggest investors in both the Chinese and foreign technology industries and has backed many companies globally, most of them in the fintech space. Its investments in other companies helps Ant to wield influence in several markets both in China and abroad and majorly in the fintech area. Among companies that Ant Group has backed include domestic fintech players like Wave Money, Xinlian Payment, and Ofo as well as foreign fintech firms like India's Paytm, Sweden's Klarna, and South Korea's Kakao Pay. Its inv

China Urges Ant Group To Refocus Business

After halting its planned public offering  last month, Chinese authorities have requested that the local fintech giant Ant Group refocuses its business back to its roots as a provider of online payments services, a request that threatens Ant's growth in its most lucrative areas of consumer lending and wealth management.  The requests to refocus and "rectify" its business was revealed in a statement by the central People’s Bank of China on Sunday. It's apparent that Chinese authorities are requesting that Ant returns and refocuses on its roots as an online payments provider, an area in which it started in and dominated before branching out into other areas such as consumer lending, wealth management, and insurance. Ant's expansion into other areas saw the company grow very big and dominate the Chinese market, wherein it was poised to hold what would have marked the world's biggest IPO this year before Chinese authorities swooped in with antitrust action and hal

Katapult Seals Blank-Check Merger

Katapult, a New York-based consumer lending startup, has announced that it's sealed a deal to become a publicly-traded company by merging with the blank-check firm FinServ Acquisition Corp.  The proposed merger will hand over $250 million in cash held by FinServ plus an additional $150 million committed by other investors to Katapult. Most of that money, precisely $325 million, will be used to purchase shares from existing shareholders while only $50 million will be added immediately to Katapult's balance sheet. The merger will place Katapult's valuation at around $1 billion. Katapult is a New York-based startup that provides financing options for consumer purchases. It's an alternative to the use of credit cards and other financing options, whereby Katapult pays in full for a product and collects the amount back, plus interest, from its customers. Katapult has a strong business that's expected to generate $250 million in revenue this year, a press statement notes

India's Pine Labs Tops $2B Valuation

Pine Labs, one of the biggest Indian fintech companies, has said that it's raised a new round of funding from the American hedge fund Lone Pine Capital at a valuation of over $2 billion. The exact size of the round wasn't disclosed but a report from the  Economic Times pegs it at between $75 million to $100 million. Before now, Pine Labs was known to have raised over $250 million in venture funding. Its valuation was placed at over $1 billion when the payments company Mastercard made a strategic investment into it earlier this year, and that valuation now appears to have doubled in the same year. Pine Labs is one of the biggest fintech companies in India and Asia at large, providing online payments solutions to over 150,000 merchants across Asia and the Middle East. The company provides point-of-sale and consumer lending solutions to merchants across Asia, mostly from India, and has carved out a high share of the region's fintech market for itself. Pine Labs is known to be

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Okta Buys Cloud Security Startup Auth0 For $6.5B

A very big new acquisition has happened in the tech industry, with Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA), the publicly-traded cloud identity and access management software provider, announcing an agreement to buy Auth0, a fellow cloud identity software provider, for a price of $6.5 billion to be paid all with shares. A $6.5 billion exit for Auth0 marks a major win for the startup scene in Seattle, the tech hub where Auth0 is based and also a major win for the company's backers and investors. Auth0 last raised venture funding last year in July with a $120 million Series F round that valued the company at $1.9 billion. Now, it's about to sell for more than triple that amount. Auth0 has raised more than $330 million in total venture funding, with investors including the likes of Salesforce Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Telstra Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and DTCP. Salesforce Ventures led Auth0's most recent $120 million Series F round. With its acquisition of a fellow cloud identity a

Exec Pay: Coinbase CEO Earned $60M In 2020

The popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently released its S-1 filing to the SEC in preparation for a public offering that's expected to come soon, with the S-1 filing providing a peek into its financials and operational stats with information not publicly known before. The core information to have been revealed by Coinbase's S-1 filing is that the company is very profitable, posting a net income of $322 million on $1.28 billion in revenue in 2020. The popular crypto exchange swung from a $30 million loss in the previous year 2019 and grew its annual revenue from $533.7 million to $1.28 billion over the year. Among the noteworthy disclosures to have come from Coinbase's S-1 filing is that the company's founder and CEO Brian Armstrong pulled in a big compensation package of nearly $60 million in 2020, precisely $59.5 million.  Brian Armstrong's $59.5 million pay package consisted of a base salary of $1 million, stock options awards of $56.7 million, and $1.

Peter Thiel Cashes Out Big From Palantir

After taking his data analytics and mining company, Palantir, public last year, it seems that Peter Thiel is keen on cashing out significantly from his stake in the company after getting an opportunity to do so on the public markets.  Thiel founded and helped build Palantir from the ground up into a data analytics powerhouse with annual sales of over $1 billion.   Palantir stayed as a private company for 17 years before hitting the public markets. According to regulatory filings and records , Peter Thiel has sold over $780 million of Palantir shares since the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in September 2020.  Thiel's largest single sale transaction was an offloading of 20 million shares for $504.8 million on the 19th of February, 2020. His second-largest was the sale of 23 million shares in a transaction netting around $236 million on the 30th of September, 2020, which was the very day Palantir began trading on the NYSE. Altogether, Thiel has netted mor

Deal: Twilio Bets $750M On Mobile Comms Provider Syniverse

Twilio, the publicly-traded cloud communications company, has sought to strategically team up with an old-guard provider of mobile and wireless communications technology named Syniverse, with a formal business partnership just  announced between both parties that'll see Twilio invest up to $750 million for a minority stake in Syniverse under its terms. Twilio has agreed to invest up to $750 million in cash for a minority stake in Syniverse, buying the stake from the company's current owner which is the private equity firm Carlyle Group. The partnership between Twilio and Syniverse will see both companies enter into a major business partnership that entails a wholesale agreement whereby Syniverse will process, route and deliver application-to-person (A2P) messages originating and/or terminating between Twilio’s customers and mobile network operators. On Syniverse's end of the deal, the company is getting a business boost by providing services for Twilio which is one of the

American Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M, Valued At $1B+

Skydio, an American startup that makes autonomous drones, has closed a new funding round of $170 million that values it above $1 billion. The round was led by the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Next47, IVP, and Linse Capital, plus a new investor UP.Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the new Series D round for Skydio from its Growth Fund, and with it, Skydio has now raised a total of over $340 million in external funding and then with a $1 billion+ valuation that makes it the highest-valued drone startup in the US. It seems that Skydio has drawn wide investor attraction after the US government placed China's DJI on a blacklist last year. DJI made its mark as the biggest drone maker globally and the largest in the US market but got placed on a government Entity List last year that barred American companies from supplying it with components. The blacklist was instituted by the former Trump administration due to alleged ties to

IPO Chatter: Hot Cybersecurity Startup SentinelOne

The latest company to get into the center of chatters and rumors of an imminent public listing is SentinelOne , a Mountain View-based cybersecurity startup that's made a mark as one of the hottest of its kind with investor attraction. SentinelOne is preparing for a soon public listing that could value it at more than $10 billion and has begun interviewing banks for potential roles in its public listing, according to a report from Bloomberg . It's said that SentinelOne could list even as soon as this very year. SentinelOne is part of a cohort of technology startups that have brought artificial intelligence to the field of cybersecurity, using AI to detect and protect companies from cybersecurity threats and breaches. The company has roots in Israel, a major cybersecurity hub, and was founded in 2013. SentinelOne has been a hot startup for venture backers, drawing around $700 million in private funding of which a majority was raised just in the past two years. The Mountain View

Carmaker Volvo To Go Fully Electric By 2030

The latest global automaker to commit to transitioning to a fully-electric production output in the future is Swedish carmaker Volvo, which has announced plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030. By then, the company says it intends to have phased out any car in its portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids, and transition to producing fully electric cars. The announcement of Volvo's grand plan comes a year after the company launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge , around the globe, and with just one fully electric car in its product portfolio now, it's apparent that the automaker would need to put in hard work to achieve a fully-electric portfolio in nine years time. To work towards its goal, Volvo has announced that it'll roll out 'several' additional electric car models in the coming years, the word several making the number indistinct. The Swedish automaker is aiming for fully electric cars to make up half of

Velodyne Lidar's Founder Ousted, Fights Back

Velodyne Lidar, the leading maker of lidars for autonomous vehicles in the US, is in the midst of a leadership tussle that's seen its founder and biggest shareholder David Hall pushed out from his position of Chairman at the company along with his wife Marta Hall who held the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Velodyne. David and Marta Hall were pushed out from Velodyne after a board investigation that brought accusations of the couple behaving "inappropriately" and acting without "respect, honesty, integrity and candor” when interacting with other officers and directors at Velodyne as claimed by the company's board. As they were pushed out, Velodyne named a new Chairman and another new board director. In response to his ouster, Velodyne founder David Hall put out a press statement  accusing his company of staging a "boardroom ambush" to reprimand him and his wife "based on an opaque, secret investigation into baseless, unfounded claims".

2020: DraftKings Reports Strong Revenue Growth

DraftKings, a popular sports betting site in the US, has reported its earnings results for what's its first fiscal year as a publicly-traded company after going public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year. It reported $322 million in 2020 revenue, up 98% from the previous year. DraftKings' annual revenue soared high in 2020 compared to the past year as it capitalized on a stronger betting market spurred by the legalization of online sports betting in more American states for growth. The company also did well getting new customers in existing legalized sports betting markets in the US. For example, the state of Tennessee formally legalized mobile and online sports betting on the 1st of November, 2020 and saw DraftKings immediately swoop into the market. In just the first two months operating in the state, DraftKings processed over $300 million in bets, its earnings report noted. In 2021, DraftKings held successful launches in the states of

Smart TV Maker Vizio Files To Go Public

Vizio, a well-known maker of smart TVs and other complementary equipment such as soundbars, has filed an S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a public listing, seeking to do so for the second time after having previously filed to go public in 2015 but later withdrew its plan in lieu of a $2 billion sale agreement to a Chinese company that unfortunately didn't pan out. The market for technology IPOs has been very hot as of late and it seems that Vizio is coming in at the right time to capitalize on that hotness. A popular maker of smart TVs, Vizio has sold over 80 million TVs and 11 million soundbars since the company's inception, as indicated in its S-1 filing. The company sold 7.1 million TVs in 2020 alone. Vizio has strong revenues and is profitable, reporting $102 million in net income on over $2 billion in revenue in 2020. In the previous year, 2019, Vizio reported a net income of $23 million on $1.8 billion in revenue. Most of Vizio's revenue c