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Markets: Richard Branson Sells $300M Of Virgin Galactic Stock

It appears that shortly after a successful trip to the edges of outer space, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is continuing to have more fun on earth by selling shares of his aerospace company. He just converted a large chunk of his shares into cash, possibly to finance his many other ventures or maybe just chill on a boat.  Branson sold roughly $300mn worth of Virgin Galactic stock from Tuesday, the 10th of August, to Thursday the 12th, a filing with the SEC shows. He sold in 11 successive blocks ranging from $25mn to $34mn each.  The shares Branson sold represented 4% of Virgin Galactic's market cap and reduced his stake through a firm he controls (Virgin Investments) to 18% . Before now, Branson's last major stock sale was $150mn  worth of shares that he offloaded this April and before that a $505mn sale in May 2020. Branson took Virgin Galactic public through a SPAC merger in 2019, raising needed money to fund its expensive space tourism R&D. The company re

Deal: Adidas Sells Reebok Brand For $2.5B

It's a notable day in the industry of sports apparel as one of the major brands in the sector has changed ownership. The brand is Reebok , which has been sold to Authentic Brands Group , a retail and brand licensing conglomerate that recently filed for an IPO . Authentic Brands will pay up to 2.1 billion euros ($2.5bn) to buy Reebok from its German parent firm Adidas . The way the deal is structured, Authentic will pay the majority of the sum in cash at the close of the deal, and then the minority remainder on conditional targets. The exact breakdown of the payment wasn't made known. Adidas bought Reebok back in 2006 for $3.8bn, with hopes of taking on rival Nike in the sports footwear market. But, the Reebok brand has struggled over the years even as Adidas's own business grew and became a thorn in the company's flesh, making investors pressure Adidas to sell the brand. Now, Adidas investors have gotten what they want, with the sale of the struggling Reebok brand to

Antitrust: UK Objects To Facebook's $400M Giphy Acquisition

Facebook's acquisition of Giphy , the popular website for sharing GIFs, has hit a roadblock in the form of an objection from the UK's antitrust agency. The country's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has challenged the deal , saying it will "negatively impact competition between social media platforms." Facebook acquired Giphy last year in a deal reportedly worth $400mn . It was a strategic acquisition for the company, giving it a social sharing tool that's used across many social platforms including those that are major Facebook rivals. Now, the UK's antitrust agency is asserting that Facebook's ownership of Giphy gives it an unfair advantage over its rivals given that Giphy is one out of just two GIF sharing platforms used majorly on the web. The other is Google-owned Tenor . The UK is voicing concerns that Facebook could decide to deny rival platforms access to Giphy's GIFs or require them to give up more user data to maintain their acce

Soccer Star Lionel Messi Hops On Crypto Train

If you're the type that follows sports news, you'll know that the soccer world is rambling now with the transfer of superstar player Lionel Messi from his longtime club, FC Barcelona , to  Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG) . A soccer transfer won't usually make news here on The Techee , but it is this time as it comes with an interesting angle that relates to technology, particularly cryptocurrency. Messi took part of his signing bonus to PSG in cryptocurrency, particularly a fan digital token tied to the club. Messi was given  $PSG Fan Tokens in his welcome package to the club. Those fan tokens were created by PSG in partnership in , a website specialized in trading such fan tokens. They were created as a marketing gimmick to tie some monetary interest of PSG fans to the French soccer club. PSG said Messi received a "large number" of fan tokens but didn't specify the amount. The entire signing bonus was a reported $30mn, and the tokens likely make

Cybersecurity Firms Avast, NortonLifeLock To Merge In $8B Deal

Two heavyweights in the cybersecurity industry are merging in a landmark deal for the industry. It's  NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec), the Nasdaq-listed American cyber giant, and Avast , the Czechia-based cyber giant listed on the London Stock Exchange. NortonLifeLock will merge with Avast in a deal that's worth between $8.1bn to $8.6bn depending on its final terms and closing period. As it's structured, NortonLifeLock is the party initiating the merger and will pay cash and shares to Avast shareholders to complete it. For payment, Avast shareholders are provided two options by NortonLifeLock; 31% in cash and 69% in shares or 90% in cash and 10% in shares. It's a choice for those that want immediate liquidity or those that want to hold on to shares that could later appreciate in value, probably the true believers in the merger. NortonLifeLock and Avast are two big names in the cybersecurity sector, with products used by hundreds of millions worldwide, so this merge

US Fines Crypto Exchange BitMex $100M For Unlawful Operation

BitMex , an infamous cryptocurrency exchange that's battling the US legal system, has been fined a significant sum to settle one of its regulatory headaches. It's agreed to pay a $100mn civil penalty as part of a settlement with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). BitMex is accused by US authorities of violating the Bank Secrecy Act , which requires financial institutions to assist US government agencies in tackling money laundering, and enabling illegal trades on its exchange. That US authorities went after BitMex with charges is sort of a slippery slope, as the company itself is actually based in another country - Seychelles . But, BitMex has many customers in the US where it's accused of violating anti-money laundering laws. Two of the exchange's founders are also US citizens. Founded in 2014, BitMex made a name for itself as a peer-to-peer exchange where traders around the globe bought and sold

Deal: Bill Ackman's Hedge Fund Invests $2.8B In Universal Music

It appears that hedge fund tycoon Bill Ackman has a love for Universal Music Group (UMG) , a "big three" record label. He's still pursuing an investment in the company via his hedge fund, Pershing Square , after a similar deal with his special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) fell through.  Pershing Square and some affiliates have acquired a 7.1% stake in Universal Music Group and then the rights to purchase an additional 2.9%, summing up to 10%. The hedge fund paid $2.8bn for the 7.1% stake, valuing the record label giant at 33 billion euros ($38.8bn) . Before now, Ackman's SPAC named Pershing Square Tontine Holdings had signed an agreement to buy a 10% stake in UMG as the latter neared its debut on the public markets. But that deal was called off after discussions with regulators, Ackman said. It happened that the earlier deal to purchase a 10% stake was quite complex, with Ackman obliging to buy the stake with $4.1bn out of $5.6bn his SPAC had and then spin

Deal: Delivery Hero Buys 5% Stake In Rival Deliveroo

Delivery Hero , the German food delivery giant, appears to have a monetary interest in one of its main European delivery rivals; Deliveroo . Filings show that the German company has purchased a stake of 5.09% in its UK-based counterpart, a stake worth about  £342mn ($474mn) at current prices. The monetary interest of Delivery Hero in Deliveroo drew positive sentiment from the latter's investors, such that Deliveroo shares rose as much as 10% on Monday when the purchase was notified to the public. Delivery Hero isn't new to building valuable stakes in other delivery counterparts of its kind. It also has shareholdings in Europe's largest food delivery firm,  Just Eat , as well as startups Glovo (Spain) and Rappi (Latin America).  Building stakes in other counterparts are common ways that companies secure strategic partnerships or even future acquisitions. For Deliveroo, it's unclear what Delivery Hero's intention is, but it screams of importance when t

Tobacco Giant Philip Morris Lifts Bid For Asthma Drugmaker Vectura

In what definitely looks like a weird twist of events, the world's largest maker of tobacco products is vying to purchase a company that makes drugs tackling asthma. The tobacco giant is Philip Morris International and the asthma drugmaker is UK-based Vectura . Philip Morris has raised its cash bid to buy Vectura after its previous bid was topped by Carlyle Group , a US-based private equity firm. It's offering 165 pence per Vectura share, summing up to £1.02bn ($1.4bn) . Philip Morris and Carlyle Group have been battling to nab Vectura, with several bids against each other. Carlyle was the first (in May) to submit a bid of 136 pence per share, then got topped by Philip Morris' offer of 150 pence in July. Then, Carlyle countered with a 155 pence offer this month and got topped by a 165 pence offer from Philip Morris barely 2 days later. To settle the battle, the UK's Takeover Panel said the deal could enter a head-to-head auction if Philip Morris and Carlyle don't

Spotlight: BioNTech Guns For mRNA Tech To Fight Other Diseases

BioNTech , the German biotech outfit that made the Covid vaccine distributed by Pfizer , is pushing into more vaccine development for other diseases with the clout and money it made from its shine during the Covid pandemic. After seeing success with an mRNA-based Covid vaccine, BioNTech is hoping and working to apply the relatively new mRNA tech to produce other vaccines in relatively short spans. In June, the company began Phase 2 clinical trials for one of its vaccine candidates targeting Advanced Melanoma which is a type of cancer and in turn an area where many companies before it have long sought breakthrougs. For context, there are currently only 2 vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to tackle certain types of cancer. Many companies are lurking in this area with big R&D spend but have faced difficulties creating viable products. BioNTech, a moonshot in its right, is hoping to break ground in the area just like it did with Covid, though fighting Covid

Deal: Cornerstone OnDemand Sells To PE Firm For $3.8B

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD), one of the biggest providers of human resources (HR) software for enterprises, is being taken off the public markets into private hands, precisely private equity hands. It's getting sold to private equity firm  Clearlake Capital in one of the biggest software deals of this year. Clearlake Capital has agreed to buy Cornerstone OnDemand in   a deal worth $5.2bn in total . The PE firm will pay $57.50 per share, a 31% premium to Cornerstone's closing price the day before the deal was notified to the public. Before now, Clearlake was already a major Cornerstone shareholder with a stake of 15.7%, so it won't be paying $5.2bn for Cornerstone but about $3.8bn when excluding the value of its stake and some $1bn in debt that Cornerstone has on its books. Clearlake has set the deal such that when it completes acquiring Cornerstone, it'll immediately sell a minority stake in the company to Vector Capital , a San Francisco-based private equit

Earnings: Zynga Gives Caution, Shares Plunge

Gaming company Zynga has dropped its earnings report for the second quarter of this year. Though the company posted solid sales, it issued a caution that people are playing its games less as the Covid restrictions are getting eased and people turn their focus towards other activities outside gaming. The caution Zynga issued apparently didn't sit well with investors whose trading activities plunged the company's shares by 18% on Friday. That's one of the highest one-day drops by Zynga's historical trading standards. Details Zynga reported $720mn in revenue in the quarter and a small net income of $28mn . The company surpassed its own previous forecast of having $675mn in sales for the quarter, and then was profitable compared to the same quarter last year when it reported a net loss of $30mn. As usual, most of Zynga's revenue (97% in Q2) now comes from mobile. It wasn't initially so as the company began as a maker of social games on the Facebook platform, but

Earnings: DraftKings Triples Revenue, User Base

Sports betting company DraftKings has reported its latest quarterly earnings results, showing very good growth as the legal sports betting market takes shape and grows in the US. It's such that the company tripled its revenue over the past year and nearly tripled its user base in the same period. DraftKings' latest earnings show $298mn in revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2021. This was up 320% year-over-year. In the same period, the company's average monthly unique player count grew to 1.1 million, up 281% year-over-year.  The average revenue per "monthly unique player" for DraftKings was $80, up 26% year-over-year.  Showing such growth isn't unexpected for DraftKings, as it's the forerunner in the legal online sports betting market in the US. The company is riding the waves of more regions in America opening up toward legal sports betting, especially on mobile where users are easily accessible. Currently, DraftKings offers online sports be

Deal: Penn National Buys Canada's theScore For $2B

Penn National Gaming , a major operator of American casinos and racetracks, ala betting, has made a big new acquisition. It's acquiring theScore , a Canadian sports betting content company that's traded on the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchanges. Penn National will pay $2bn in cash and stock to buy Score Media and Gaming Inc, the parent company of theScore. The cash and stock portions of the purchase are split into equal halves of $1bn.  Acquiring theScore is a major strategic play for Penn National to deepen its interest in the sports betting business by the way of content. Before now, the company did so by purchasing 36% of Barstool Sports , a major sports content provider, for about $160mn last year. Before 2020, Penn National was mostly focused on operating casinos and racetracks as its business, but last year picked up interest in sports betting as a growth driver. Now spending $2bn on a company in that sector signifies its interest is really high. theScore provides sports

Earnings: Uber Still Bleeding Lots Of Cash, Shares Fall

In this season of earnings results, ride-hailing giant Uber is one of the latest major tech companies to have dropped their latest quarterly results, and it shows that the company's core businesses of ride-hailing and food delivery are still losing a lot of money even as the latter is a major driver of growth for the company. Uber reported $3.9bn in revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2021. Revenue doubled year-over-year, not surprising given Uber is gradually recovering from the lows of the Covid pandemic. Uber is onto a major turn, as its food delivery business now brings in the bulk of revenue ( $2bn in the quarter) rather than ride-hailing. That may not be permanent though, as people are still cautious of the Covid pandemic so aren't riding out with others as usual.  The Uber Eats food delivery business was the company's savior during the pandemic as people needed to get food delivered to their doorsteps to avoid much contact with others. It's safe to say

Earnings: Sony's Console Sales Aids In Big Profits

Japanese electronics and gaming giant Sony has released its latest quarterly earnings report . From it, it appears that the company is largely reaping spoils from its Playstation 5 console that was released last November and now has sold over 10 million units. Sony reported a record operating profit of $2.6bn in the quarter ended June 30, 2021. The record profit was helped by PS5 sales, as the company's  Game & Network Services division brought in $5.6bn in sales during the period. Last month, Sony announced that PS5 console sales have topped 10 million units, less than a year after its release. It's a good start for the $499 (MSRP) console, which is the fastest-selling of its kind in Sony's history.  Surely, many gamers out there are hungry to get their hands on the new PS5, but even the preceding PS4 is still selling to the tune of 500k in the quarter ended June, bringing its lifetime sales to 116.4 million , damn.  Of course, Sony doesn't just sell consol

Biotech: Zymergen Hits Roadblock, Shares Crater, CEO Out

A certain biotech company with high ambitions has seen its shares crater down from the height of its ambitions after it reported some updates to investors. It's Zymergen , a company working on biochemical processes to develop synthetic forms of various industrial materials. Zymergen issued a statement to investors on Tuesday that it recently became aware of issues with its commercial product pipeline that'll negatively affect its prospects. In fact, because of the issues, the company no longer expects to make any money from selling products this year, and then "immaterial" sales next year. Zymergen doesn't yet have a commercial product, as it's still in the trial stage. Shareholders of the company are primarily betting on its future potential of applying biochemical processes to make synthetic industrial materials at scale and bring in sales. For now, the company only makes money from R&D services rendered for industrial firms. For now, Zymergen's onl

Biotech: Sanofi Buys mRNA Company Translate Bio In $3.2B Deal

In this pandemic era, mRNA technology has been the talk of the town.  Messenger ribonucleic acid as the abbreviation stands for, it's basically the biotechnology of conveying genetic information from the DNA to be translated into proteins to fight bodily diseases.  mRNA is the technology that gave us the emergency-authorized vaccines distributed globally by Pfizer and Moderna . As it looks, it's a promising technology in the medical field with the potential to fight many ailments. It happens that mRNA tech shined as a light in the darkness of the Covid pandemic and thus companies working in that area are getting rewarded. Take Moderna for example, a company founded barely a decade ago that now has a market cap of $140bn . To add to the companies getting rewarded, there's been a hot new acquisition in the mRNA sector. It's that Sanofi , the French pharmaceuticals giant, has agreed to buy Translate Bio , an American clinical-stage mRNA therapeutics company. Sanofi wi

Markets: Indian Insurtech Startup PolicyBazaar Files For IPO

PolicyBazaar , an Indian insurance-tech startup, has filed for an initial public offering on the country's domestic markets. It recently submitted documents to the market regulator in India, showing its intention to raise a substantial sum with a public debut. PolicyBazaar is an online insurance services aggregator and comparator. Basically, it's a marketplace for choosing and buying insurance plans, with the company making money from leads generation and fees charged for policy sales on its platform. Filed papers indicate that PolicyBazaar's IPO size is the equivalent of $809mn. Out of that, $504mn is sought to be raised by PolicyBazaar for itself while the rest ($305mn) will be existing investors in the company selling their shares. Also, the company indicated that it may consider raising about $100mn in a pre-IPO round. Among the existing investors selling include SoftBank , which plans to sell shares worth over $250mn , and PolicyBazaar's founders who plan to sell

Deal: Korea's Netmarble Buys Casino Game Firm SpinX For $2.2B

One of the foremost gaming companies from South Korea is acquiring one of Hong Kong's major gaming companies. It's Netmarble from Korea buying  SpinX Games , a Hong Kong games maker that specializes in social casino games. Netmarble has agreed to buy SpinX for 2.5 trillion Korean Won, an equivalent sum of $2.2bn in cash . It's a major exit for a company founded barely 7 years ago. SpinX Games was founded in 2014 to create social casino-like games to serve global users. At that, it's been very successful, with hit titles to its name such as  Cash Frenzy and Jackpot World . The company brought in over $400mn in revenue last year, $432mn to be precise. At $432mn in revenue, Netmarble is paying about 5x revenue to buy SpinX. That multiple is usual with gaming acquisitions of this caliber.  Netmarble is one of South Korea's largest gaming companies with many big titles ( Marvel: Future Fight , BTS World , et al). It's a publicly-traded company, worth the equivalen

Hollywood: Reese Witherspoon's Media Co. Sold In $900M Deal

A media company founded by superstar actress Reese Witherspoon has sold for a large amount to a company still in its infancy that hasn't even been named yet. That company is Hello Sunshine , a media company that produces content distributed across various platforms; movies, TV shows, podcasts, et al. Hello Sunshine has been sold to a newly-formed media venture t hat's backed by investment capital from Blackstone , the private equity giant.  The venture is led by ex Disney honchos Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs .  As it is, the Blackstone-funded venture is acquiring a majority stake in Hello Sunshine from a group of external investors while anchor shareholders like Witherspoon and her founding partners will roll over and retain their equity stakes in the newly-formed venture. Officially, the deal's financial terms weren't disclosed, but a report from The Wall Street Journal says it's a $900mn deal. According to the report, the Blackstone-funded venture will pay $500mn

Antitrust: UK Probes Facebook's $1B Kustomer Acquisition

The UK's antitrust agency has launched a probe into Facebook's latest acquisition, that of chatbot platform Kustomer Inc , which Facebook agreed to buy last November for a reported $1bn. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday, the 30th of July, released a statement  indicating it had opened an inquiry into Facebook's purchase of Kustomer, regarding if it'll result in "a substantial lessening of competition" within the market Kustomer operates in. Such probes aren't out of the norm and are routine for big acquisitions. For Facebook, it speaks to the fact that antitrust agencies are watching the company's moves, especially regarding acquisitions. To note, two of Facebook Inc's biggest products outside the main Facebook platform, Instagram and WhatsApp , were acquisitions. In fact, it's primarily acquisitions that have propelled the company's growth. As with such probes, the UK will first seek comments from the public

Alert: Square Buys Australia's Afterpay For $29B

It's a big day in the fintech world. There's been a major acquisition with a major American fintech company, Square , buying Australia's foremost fintech startup, Afterpay , a 'buy now, pay later' lender. Square has reached an agreement to buy Afterpay for a whopping $29bn , marking one of Australia's biggest buyouts. It's a big deal that a startup founded barely seven years ago is selling for $29bn.  Square will pay the $29bn all with shares. It means that shares of Afterpay, which are traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, will be exchanged for Square stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Afterpay is Australia's foremost 'buy now, pay later (BNPL)' lender in online retail. For the uninitiated, the 'buy now, pay later' business is a relatively young one providing alternatives to credit cards for consumers to shop online. It provides loans for consumers to shop online and then pay back in installments. Usually, credi

Earnings: Amazon's Unlikely Ad Business Grows Stronger

Tech behemoth Amazon has dropped its latest quarterly earnings report like many companies in this period. Notably, the company posted $100bn in sales for the third quarter in a row in Q2 this year. Amazon's earnings report also made note that it was fined nearly $900mn for alleged privacy violations in the EU. Among the many pieces of information shoveled into Amazon's latest earnings report include the growth of an unlikely part of the company's business - online advertising . Usually, Amazon is known for online retail and cloud computing (AWS) but the company has an ad business that's getting stronger day by day. The earnings report shows that Amazon's "Other" business segment, which is primarily advertising, brought in $7.9bn in sales in Q2, representing 87% year-over-year growth. This indicates that Amazon is building more strength in the online ad business that's dominated by Google and Facebook. Amazon's ad business includes advertising b

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

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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