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Anduril Nabs $200 Million In New Funding

Anduril Industries, a defense technology startup co-founded by Oculus inventor Palmer Luckey, has announced it's raised $200 million in new funding that values it at $1.9 billion post-money. The new funding was led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, a previous investor in the company. With the new funding, Anduril has now raised -- a total of -- at least $259 million in known funding to fund its ambitions of becoming a defense technology giant with roots in Silicon Valley.

Anduril was only founded three years ago but has racked up a sizeable amount of funding and about $100 million in annual revenues (according to the company). Anduril was founded by Palmer Luckey, who sold his previous company, virtual reality headset maker Oculus, to Facebook for $3 billion. After the sale, he stayed at Facebook for a while before leaving and teaming up with some veterans from data-mining firm Palantir to launch Anduril. Anduril's revenue mainly comes from government defense contr…
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Pharrell Williams Eyes Venture Investing

It seems celebrities across the U.S. have heard of good fortunes being reaped in the world of venture investing and are out to get their own share. Many music, movies, and sports bigwigs, including the likes of Kevin Durant, Lebron James, The Chainsmokers, Snoop Dogg, and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, have slightly ventured away from their main business into investing in tech startups, some reaping sizeable returns as a result. Now, it seems another celebrity is about to join, as The Information [paywall] reports that famed musician Pharell Williams is teaming up with Ron Conway, a prominent angel investor, to launch a venture fund that'll mainly target startups led by underrepresented minorities.

The Information reports Pharell Williams and Ron Conway are currently in discussions with limited partners for the new fund, which is notably being planned on the heels of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism across the US. Venture funds that primarily target startup…

Palantir Eyes Big Raise Ahead Of IPO

Seemingly on the route to a public offering, data mining company Palantir is seeking to raise nearly $1 billion in new funding as indicated by a filing with the SEC, $550 million of the targeted amount already secured from Japanese corporations Sompo and Fujitsu. Sompo, an insurance giant, recently invested $500 million in Palantir while IT giant Fujitsu chipped in the remaining $50 million. Both Japanese corporations have partnered with Palantir to offer the company's services in the Japanese market.

Palantir's valuation with the new funding isn't known but for a hint, reports emerged last September that Palantir was seeking new funding at a valuation ranging from $26 billion to $30 billion. Palantir, which was founded sixteen years ago, has raised $3.3 billion in funding since its founding according to PitchBook data. Recently, reports emerged of the company planning to confidentially file for a public offering in the "coming weeks", and Palantir actually seem…

Tesla Delivered 90,650 Vehicles In Q2

As anticipated, Tesla just released its production numbers for the second quarter of this year and indicated it delivered 90,650 vehicles, a slight (4.8%) drop from the previous quarter. Tesla actually managed to beat expectations despite a pandemic that led it to suspend operation for weeks at its main production facility. The majority (80,050) of Tesla's deliveries were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, its less expensive models, while Model S and Model X vehicles, the more expensive ones, accounted for a minority (10,600).

Analysts had anticipated lower delivery numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with some even forecasting as low as 39,000 deliveries in this quarter. A concord of analysts polled by FactSet indicated an average forecast of 72,000 vehicle deliveries for the quarter.

The release of Tesla's latest production results comes on the heels of the company surpassing Japanese automaker Toyota to become the world's most valuable automaker.





Big Tech CEOs Set For Antitrust Hearing

As first revealed by a tweet from famed technology journalist Kara Swisher, the CEOs of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google, the big four tech giants, have agreed to a summons to an antitrust hearing that's scheduled to hold late in this month. Swisher cites her source as U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, himself a big critic of the four tech giants. Tech giants, in particular, aren't new to congressional hearings, but the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google testifying at a single hearing isn't common. These companies are notably under antitrust scrutiny from regulatory authorities. Their respective chief executives, by names Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai, are apparently set for a testimony to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee soon.

SCOOP: You can officially call it Techopalooza. Rep. David Cicilline has told me in an interview today the four CEOs of the most powerful tech companies in the world – Apple, Facebook, Google and Ama…

Tesla Now World's Most Valuable Carmaker

Electric car maker Tesla has been on a tear as of late, with its share price having shot past $1,100 a pop and given the company status as the world's most valuable automaker. Currently (as of writing), Tesla has a market capitalization hovering around $208 billion, beating the likes of Ford, GM, and Toyota which actually manufacture way more cars and mint much more revenue. Before now, Toyota had been the automaker with the largest public market capitalization. Toyota (as of writing) has a market capitalization hovering around $203 billion, a bit lower than Tesla's.

Investors seem to be drooling for Tesla shares given its valuation despite minting lesser revenue than other traditional automakers. For a quick comparison, Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles last year while Toyota delivered 10 million, about 27 times Tesla's. Investors seem to have much courage in Tesla's future potential, given it's a company that only debuted on the public markets 10 years ago. The l…

Peloton Launches On Roku

Fitness sensation Peloton has formally launched its app on the Roku streaming platform, entailing its live fitness classes can now be streamed by Roku users in the comfort of their homes. The Peloton channel has been made available on the Roku Channel Store, enabling users to stream live fitness sessions for a fee. Payments will be processed on the Roku Pay platform, making signing up much easier for users. Existing Peloton subscribers can also automatically log-in using their credentials and gain access to live fitness sessions.

The coronavirus pandemic has largely driven people away from public gyms towards home fitness activities, and such, online fitness streaming activity has seemingly shot through the roof. According to Roku, streaming on its Health & Fitness category grew more than 130% in May alone. Peloton happens to be a benefit of the large pivot towards home fitness, thanks to its stationary bikes and treadmills with live-streamed fitness sessions that have garnered a…

Bozoma Saint John Heads To Netflix

Famed marketing executive Bozoma Saint John has been appointed as the new chief marketing officer (CMO) of streaming giant Netflix, replacing current executive Jackie Lee-Joe who took on Netflix's CMO role in July of last year. She's apparently leaving after barely a year on the job, to be replaced by Bozoma Saint John who is joining from entertainment conglomerate Endeavor. At Endeavor, she currently holds the role of chief marketing officer. Before Endeavor, she had stints at Apple and Uber.

“I’m thrilled to join Netflix, especially at a time when storytelling is critical to our global, societal well-being. I feel honored to contribute my experience to an already dynamic legacy, and to continue driving engagement in the future.” Bozoma Saint John said in a statement that announced her appointment. She's notably joining Netflix after a two-year stint at Endeavor.

Bozoma Saint John shot to fame as a marketing executive at Apple Music, where she joined from luxe audio equi…

Discord Nabs $100 Million In New Funding

Popular chat app Discord has raised $100 million in new funding at a valuation of $3.5 billion, as first reported by Forbes. The fundraise coincides with Discord's plan to pivot away from a gaming-centric chat app into day-to-day communication. Discord aims to be a go-to solution for online communication in general rather than focus on games which it traces its roots to. That potentially puts it in competition with the likes of Slack, Monday.com, and Microsoft Teams. Discord says it currently has more than 100 million monthly active users.

With this new funding, Discord has now raised about $380 million in total funding since its inception. The new funding came from venture capital firm Index Ventures, an existing investor in the company. Before this funding, Discord was valued at $2 billion by investors.

Index Ventures partner Danny Rimer is notably the driving force behind the new investment, with Discord being a plus to his sizeable list of notable bets which include design st…

Byton Halts Operations For Six Months

Chinese electric vehicle upstart Byton has announced has said it's suspending all of its domestic operations for a six-month period amid business struggles stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The six-month halt is scheduled to run through the months of July to December and notably comes on the heels of reports of Byton delaying salary payments for some of its staff. Byton as a private company is known to have secured some $1.2 billion in financing since its inception. The company, which was founded in 2017, has long showcased flashy concepts but hasn't yet delivered a production vehicle.

Byton originally planned to release a production vehicle in the third quarter of last year but later delayed its plan. The company cited financing and production challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind its suspension. Byton is looking to institute a strategic restructuring that includes reducing its staff. Currently, Byton employs about 1,500 people globally, th…

Uber Reaches To Buy Postmates: Report

Uber is in talks to acquire food-delivery competitor Postmates in a $2.6 billion deal, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, which notes that a deal could be announced by next week or even sooner. Postmates has been said to be targeting an initial public offering but while also shopping itself around to potential buyers. Uber is notably fresh off an attempt to acquire Grubhub, another food delivery competitor which was, however, sold to British food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com.

Postmates has raised about $900 million in funding so far, valued at $2.4 billion as of its last funding round. The company had confidentially filed for a public listing in February of last year but didn't follow up with a public filing. In the past, Postmates is said to have shopped itself to companies including Walmart and food-delivery competitor DoorDash. Postmates is known to be unprofitable, so the public markets may not favor the company as much as a private sale and it seem…

Lululemon Snaps Up Mirror

Lululemon, the popular apparel company, has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Mirror, the home-fitness startup that's famed for its mirror-like interactive home gym, for $500 million. The acquisition notably comes in the midst of increased sales of Mirror's interactive mirrors as the coronavirus pandemic has widely driven people away from public gyms to home fitness. As a private company, Mirror has raised about $75 million in funding, making a $500 million purchase price seem like a very sweet deal for the company. Among Mirror's investors as a private company happens to be Lululemon. The likes of Lerer Hippeau, Spark Capital, Point72 Ventures, and supermodel Karlie Kloss are also backers.

Lululemon expects to fund Mirror's acquisition with its primary sources of liquidity, which include its cash pile alongside revolving credit facilities. Before now, the apparel company had not only invested in but also partnered with Mirror to create content. Following t…

Personal Capital Sells For $1 Billion

Personal Capital, a Redwood City, California-based wealth management startup, has been sold to retirement plan provider Empower Retirement in a deal that adds up to $1 billion. Empower Retirement has reached a deal to acquire Personal Capital for an upfront payment of $825 million in cash plus $175 million in potential "planned growth" incentives. The acquisition seems like a win for Personal Capital, which has raised $265 million in funding as a private company. According to PitchBook data, Personal Capital was valued at $950 million as of its last fundraising in February of last year.

Personal Capital was founded in 2008. The company provides digital-based money management services, similar to the likes of Wealthfront, Betterment, and Acorns. Currently, Personal Capital manages a cumulative $12 billion in assets for some 2.5 million users. Personal Capital has offices in the cities of San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, and Dallas. The company employs more than 400 people.

In…

Amazon Hands Bonuses To Frontline Workers

The coronavirus pandemic largely boosted the need for e-commerce and, in turn, the fortunes of Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon. It's such that Amazon hired 175,000 additional people to keep up with increased demand. Now, Amazon has announced it's doling out $500 million in combined bonuses to its frontline workers, who were employed at the company throughout the month of June. The bonus is divided into various grades, including $500 for full-time warehouse workers, $250 for part-time warehouse workers, $1,000 for warehouse leads, $3,000 for delivery service partners, and $150 for each Amazon Flex driver who drove more than 10 hours in June. The bonuses for warehouse workers also covers Whole Foods employees.

The bonus dole-out was announced by Dave Clark, Amazon's famed logistics chief, who has been instrumental in setting up and overseeing the company's mammoth logistics operations. Amazon dubs the bonus as a "Thank You" bonus for its workers, many of…

Facebook Ad Boycott Push To Go Global

After pushing for a Facebook advertisement boycott that has attracted, among other brands, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Dashlane, Starbucks, and Unilever, the organizers have said they'll begin calling on companies outside the U.S., first in Europe, to join the boycott. The boycott expansion plans were made known by Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, one of the organizers of the “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott campaign, in an interview with news agency Reuters. “The next frontier is global pressure,” Steyer said in an interview. The advertisement boycott campaign centers on Facebook's ways of moderating content on its platform, an issue that has already drawn numerous controversies for the company.

Most of the boycotts so far have come from US-based brands, many of which are only stopping advertisements targeted at U.S. citizens. It seems the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign is looking to push to more countries in order to affect a sizeable pie of Facebook's…

DoJ Indicts VC Michael Rothenberg

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an indictment of investor Michael Rothenberg, a once high-flying venture capitalist whose wings seemingly got clipped after the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) accused him of misappropriating $19 million of investors' funds. Rothenberg was slapped with more than $31 million in fines from the SEC as a result, but it appears authorities are still pushing for more, as the Justice Department has filed charges of fraud against him. The DoJ alleges Mike Rothenberg "orchestrated multiple schemes to defraud his victims", victims, in this case, being investors in Rothenberg Ventures, the eponymous venture capital firm Rothenberg founded.

The Justice Department accuses Rothenberg of bank fraud and defrauding investors. As for bank fraud, it's alleged that Rothenberg made false statements about his wealth to his bank while refinancing his home mortgage and obtaining a personal loan. As to allegedly defrauding investor…

Xpeng Begins P7 Deliveries

Just a short while after unveiling a new electric sports sedan named the P7, Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has begun making deliveries, notably a few weeks after the company formally opened a new factory to produce the new vehicle. Production has apparently begun at the newly opened plant and Xpeng says it aims to produce 100,000 P7 sedans annually. Xpeng surely moves fast, being a company founded only six years ago. The China-based company launched and begun making deliveries of its first vehicle, the G3 SUV, in 2018, four years after its launch. The P7 sports sedan is the company's second-ever vehicle. A picture below gives an encouraging look of a large number of P7 sedans awaiting delivery into customers' hands;


The Xpeng P7 costs anywhere between $32,000-$49,000 "post-subsidies", quoting Xpeng. It's available in 3 versions and 8 configurations. The vehicle's best feature happens to be its range, which Xpeng pegs at up to 706km on full-charge. T…

Tencent Preps Twitch Rival

Chinese tech and gaming giant Tencent is currently rolling out a live-streaming service for the U.S. market that'll rival Twitch, the Amazon-owned game streaming service that currently dominates the U.S. streaming market. The new rival is named Trovo Live and was formerly called Madcat. Thanks to Tencent's deep pockets, Trovo is launching with a $30 million partnership program intended to reward content creators beginning from next month, July. Trovo is still in beta testing and seems to have largely gone unnoticed outside the gaming community. Currently, Trovo's live-streams only draw viewers in the hundreds even though its Discord chat channel currently boasts more than 5,000 members. The new game-streaming service has courted some creators from the likes of Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Microsoft's soon-to-be-closed Mixer platform.

Tencent leads the gaming market in its home country of China and apparently has enough resources to challenge a dominant foreign game str…

Velodyne Aims For Reverse Public Listing

Velodyne, the lidar manufacturer backed by among others Ford and Chinese search giant Baidu, is in talks for a reverse listing with Graf Industrial Corp in order to debut on the public markets, according to a source familiar with the matter. Graf is working with an adviser on a possible merger with Velodyne, according to our source. Last year, Velodyne was reported to have hired bankers to spearhead a possible public listing but it seems the company has decided to take the "backdoor" method of going public by merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (SPAC). SPACs, in this case, are corporate entities taken public for the sole purpose of merging with another private company.

As a private company, Velodyne has raised some $225 million in funding. The company's last-known private funding gave it a valuation of $1.8 billion, a valuation Velodyne may be seeking to surpass on the public markets. Graf Industrial, the intended SPAC for Velodyne, held an initial pu…

TuSimple Seeks New Funding

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is seeking up to $250 million in new funding and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to help it raise that amount, as first reported by TechCrunch. Morgan Stanley is said to have sent out informational packets to potential investors in a bid to seek funding for TuSimple. Already, TuSimple has raised about $300 million in total funding but happens to be seeking more. The San Diego-based company last raised funding in September of last year.

TuSimple was founded in 2015, at a time when most of the self-driving industry was focused on passenger cars rather than big trucks. The company has managed to secure significant funding and attention since then, with backers including UPS, CDH Investments, and China's Sina Corp. Although based out of San Diego, TuSimple currently tests on public roads in the state of Arizona and also in Shanghai, China. The company is aiming to make a dent in the $800 billion U.S. trucking industry.

As of its last fundi…

Oscar Health Nabs $225 Million Round

New York-based health insurance startup Oscar Health has announced it's raised $225 million in new funding from a host of investors, including Alphabet, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, all existing investors in Oscar, alongside new investors Baillie Gifford and Coatue. The new funding adds up the total amount of funding that Oscar has raised since its inception to $1.5 billion. The valuation that came with this round isn't known. Oscar, meanwhile, says it's on track for $2 billion in annual sales.

Oscar Health, which was founded in 2012, sizeably expanded this year. The company, which offers health insurance products, now has more than 420,000 insured members. Oscar is currently available in 15 states across the U.S.





Intuit Advances $2 Billion Bond Sale

Financial software company Intuit has forged ahead with a bond offering that's intended to raise $2 billion, possibly to help fund the company's $7.1 billion cash and stock acquisition of personal finance company Credit Karma. Intuit has priced its offering for $2 billion worth of bonds and expects to close the bond sale on the 29th of June, 2020. Intuit intends to use the bond proceeds for general corporate purposes but says it could tap into it to fund its acquisition of Credit Karma. As of April end, Intuit reported having $4 billion in cash and equivalents so the company isn't really hurting for cash.

Intuit's $2 billion bond sale consists of four $500 million tranches due by the years 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2030. The 2023-due bonds carry the least interest rate of 0.650% while the 2030-due bonds carry the highest interest rate of 1.650%. Investment banks including Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, US Bancorp, and BofA Securities are acting as book-runners for the bond off…

Salesforce Backs Tanium

Cybersecurity company Tanium has announced it's raised funding from Salesforce Ventures, the venture capital arm of tech giant Salesforce. Salesforce is investing in the company as part of a strategic partnership. Salesforce's investment, reported being about $100 million, values Tanium at $9 billion, a sizeable boost from the company's last private valuation of $6.5 billion. With Salesforce's investment, Tanium will now have raised about $900 million in total funding since its inception.

Salesforce is partnering with Tanium to develop a cybersecurity software suite targeted at enterprises. The software suite will include a help desk to submit, track, and resolve cybersecurity issues; a service dashboard for IT employees; and the ability to build cybersecurity-related workflows on the Salesforce platform.

Tanium marks the latest investment for Salesforce Ventures, which has long been an active investor in technology companies. This month alone, Salesforce Ventures has…

Amazon To Pay $1 Billion+ For Zoox

A few weeks ago, we reported that Amazon was in negotiations to buy self-driving startup Zoox. Now, word has it that the e-commerce giant will pay more than $1 billion to acquire Zoox, as first reported by The Information [paywall]. Zoox itself has raised nearly $1 billion in funding as a private company so it doesn't look like investors are looking forward to juicy returns from the sale. The majority of Zoox's investors are, however, expected to get their money back, with a few even making a positive return, The Information reports. Investors in Zoox include DFJ, Blackbird Ventures, Lux Capital, Atlassian co-founder Michael Cannon-Brooks, and Hollywood mogul Thomas Tull.

Amazon is expected to announce a final deal soon. Snapping up Zoox will give the e-commerce giant control over a self-driving startup with about 1,000 employees. Amazon's exact intent for Zoox isn't known, but one can presume the company will be developing self-driving tech for the delivery of Amazon…

Volvo Teams Up With Waymo

Swedish automaker Volvo has teamed up with Alphabet's Waymo for the development of self-driving technology. Waymo is now the exclusive L4 partner for Volvo, with both companies working together to implement Waymo's self-driving tech on Volvo cars. Both companies made the partnership known via a recent press release. The press statement didn't actually divulge many details about the partnership, primarily noting that Waymo is now the exclusive Level 4 self-driving tech partner for Volvo.

Volvo intends to use self-driving tech from Waymo to power an all-electric fleet of robotaxis. The Swedish automaker aims to debut an autonomous ride-hailing service in future time and has apparently seen Waymo as its best partner for that. Volvo isn't the first automaker to see Waymo as a viable partner, with the Alphabet subsidiary having already partnered with other automakers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler. Waymo is known to be the global leader in self-driving technol…

Ruth Porat Joins Blackstone's Board

Private equity giant Blackstone has added a new board member by the name of Ruth Porat, who is best known for being the chief financial officer of Google-parent Alphabet. Porat has a notable relationship with Blackstone going back to her days as an executive at investment banking firm Morgan Stanley. At Morgan Stanley, where she eventually became CFO, Porat helped take Blackstone public. She spent 27 years at Morgan Stanley before joining Google as CFO in May 2015. Following the creation of Google-parent Alphabet, she was appointed as the chief financial officer of the entity.

“I first worked closely with Ruth during Blackstone’s IPO and greatly admire her talent and judgment. She possesses a deep understanding of the financial services industry from her years on Wall Street and has had a front row seat in Silicon Valley to the technological revolution that is sweeping the world. Her unique perspective will be a tremendous asset to Blackstone’s board.” Blackstone's famed Chairman…

Tencent Scoops Up Iflix

Chinese tech giant Tencent has reached a deal to acquire Iflix, a Malaysia-based video streaming company that primarily serves the Southeast Asian markets. According to reports, Tencent will continue the Iflix brand name for at least 6-12 months after the acquisition and is expected to retain the majority of the company's staff. Although having raised about $350 million in funding, Iflix has lost money heavily and recently saw the departure of two of its co-founders from the company entirely. In April, when both co-founders resigned, Iflix laid off more than 50 of its employees.

Iflix is said to have been targeting an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange to raise more funding before the coronavirus outbreak struck and halted its plans. Under Tencent, Iflix can presumably further its cause, even though its sale to the company seems more like a fire sale than an intently planned acquisition. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Public filing…

AT&T Trims Weighty Debt Load

Telecoms giant AT&T has announced early repayment terms for $5.3 billion in outstanding bonds as the company seeks to trim its behemoth ($151 billion as of 2019 end) debt load. The Dallas-based telecoms giant insists its future near-term debt requirements are "very manageable" and has committed to cutting down debt while still paying dividends to shareholders and investing in growth areas.

AT&T says it anticipates future strong cash flow, in turn, bolstering its ability to pay down debt. A sizeable part of AT&T's debt originated from its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. Since then, the company has worked on trimming its debt.

AT&T is set to release its financial results for the second quarter of this year on the 23rd of July, 2020.





Sonos Cuts 12% Of Workforce

As indicated by a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), audio equipment maker Sonos is laying off 12% of its total workforce and also closing its New York retail store. As part of the layoffs, the company is shutting down six of its satellite offices. Sonos blames reduced sales due to the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the layoffs. The company expects to incur between $9 million to $11 million in employee severance and benefits costs and between $16 million to $19 million primarily as a result of its office closures.

As part of cost-cutting efforts, Sonos's CEO alongside its main executive officers have agreed to a 20% base salary cut from the months of July through September. All of the company's board members have also agreed to forgo their annual cash retainer from the months of July through December.

Sonos is aiming to reduce operating expenses and preserve liquidity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to widespread ret…

Apple Acquires MDM Startup Fleetsmith

Apple has reached a deal to acquire Fleetsmith, a San Francisco-based mobile device management (MDM) startup that's backed by the likes of Menlo Ventures, Tiger Global, and Index Ventures. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Fleetsmith is known to have raised more than $40 million in funding since its inception. The company, which develops software that helps enterprises manage their Apple devices, formally launched in 2016.

Apple has a burgeoning 'Services' business and is apparently acquiring Fleetsmith to help facilitate the budge. In 2019, Apple posted a whopping $46 billion in revenues from services alone. That figure was double revenues from the segment three years before. In the first quarter of this year, Apple's services revenue reached an all-time high of $13.3 billion.

Fleetsmith is known to have about 30 employees in total. Although the price Apple is paying for Fleetsmith isn't disclosed, one can assume it'll be enough to rea…

Dell Explores VMware Stake Spin-Off

Tech giant Dell Technologies is considering among other options spinning off its roughly $50 billion stake in cloud computing company VMware in order to help bolster its share price, the Wall Street Journal [paywall] reports. According to the Journal, Dell recently kicked off a process to examine the possibility of unloading its VMware's stake or taking other steps that could include purchasing the rest of VMware shares that it doesn't own. Dell and VMware are currently working with advisers on a possible deal.

Dell got hold of its huge stake in VMware after taking over storage hardware maker EMC in 2016. The company tapped significant debt to fund a $67 billion acquisition of EMC and having paid down some of it currently has a debt load of $48 billion. A VMware stake spin-off could be structured to reduce that debt load.

Dell currently has a market value hovering about $38 billion (as of writing) despite having a roughly $50 billion stake in VMware in addition to its core bu…

Palantir Adds New Board Members

En route to a public listing, Palantir has added three new board directors by the names of Spencer Rascoff, best-known for co-founding Zillow; Alexander Moore, an early Palantir employee and current partner at venture capital firm 8VC; and Alexandra Wolfe Schiff, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal. To facilitate the appointment, Schiff is stepping down from her role at the Wall Street Journal in order to be a Palantir board member. These appointments bring the total count of Palantir's board to seven.

Adding three new board members surely seems like Palantir looking to get ready for a public listing.  By California law, public companies headquartered in the state must have at least one woman on their boards, and Palantir just appointed its first female board member. Atop that, the company recently raised $500 million in funding from Japanese insurance giant Sompo, the funding seeming like a bridge round before Palantir takes to the public markets.

Since its inception, Palanti…

Amazon Debuts $2 Billion Clean Energy Fund

Amazon has announced a pledge to invest $2 billion in clean energy companies "whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy." The company is setting up a dedicated venture investment program with an initial backing of $2 billion to specifically invest in clean energy companies. The new venture fund builds on previous climate change efforts by Amazon, which include a $100 million climate venture fund, renewable energy projects, and an overall plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025. In September of last year, Amazon committed to ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, an electric vehicle upstart it's also invested in.

The $2 billion fund, the Climate Pledge Fund as it's named, will invest in multiple industries, including energy generation, manufacturing and materials, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics. Amazon also says it'll seek opportunities to involve other companies in the venture f…

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Velodyne Aims For Reverse Public Listing

Velodyne, the lidar manufacturer backed by among others Ford and Chinese search giant Baidu, is in talks for a reverse listing with Graf Industrial Corp in order to debut on the public markets, according to a source familiar with the matter. Graf is working with an adviser on a possible merger with Velodyne, according to our source. Last year, Velodyne was reported to have hired bankers to spearhead a possible public listing but it seems the company has decided to take the "backdoor" method of going public by merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (SPAC). SPACs, in this case, are corporate entities taken public for the sole purpose of merging with another private company.

As a private company, Velodyne has raised some $225 million in funding. The company's last-known private funding gave it a valuation of $1.8 billion, a valuation Velodyne may be seeking to surpass on the public markets. Graf Industrial, the intended SPAC for Velodyne, held an initial pu…

Xpeng Begins P7 Deliveries

Just a short while after unveiling a new electric sports sedan named the P7, Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has begun making deliveries, notably a few weeks after the company formally opened a new factory to produce the new vehicle. Production has apparently begun at the newly opened plant and Xpeng says it aims to produce 100,000 P7 sedans annually. Xpeng surely moves fast, being a company founded only six years ago. The China-based company launched and begun making deliveries of its first vehicle, the G3 SUV, in 2018, four years after its launch. The P7 sports sedan is the company's second-ever vehicle. A picture below gives an encouraging look of a large number of P7 sedans awaiting delivery into customers' hands;


The Xpeng P7 costs anywhere between $32,000-$49,000 "post-subsidies", quoting Xpeng. It's available in 3 versions and 8 configurations. The vehicle's best feature happens to be its range, which Xpeng pegs at up to 706km on full-charge. T…

Tesla Now World's Most Valuable Carmaker

Electric car maker Tesla has been on a tear as of late, with its share price having shot past $1,100 a pop and given the company status as the world's most valuable automaker. Currently (as of writing), Tesla has a market capitalization hovering around $208 billion, beating the likes of Ford, GM, and Toyota which actually manufacture way more cars and mint much more revenue. Before now, Toyota had been the automaker with the largest public market capitalization. Toyota (as of writing) has a market capitalization hovering around $203 billion, a bit lower than Tesla's.

Investors seem to be drooling for Tesla shares given its valuation despite minting lesser revenue than other traditional automakers. For a quick comparison, Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles last year while Toyota delivered 10 million, about 27 times Tesla's. Investors seem to have much courage in Tesla's future potential, given it's a company that only debuted on the public markets 10 years ago. The l…

DoJ Indicts VC Michael Rothenberg

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an indictment of investor Michael Rothenberg, a once high-flying venture capitalist whose wings seemingly got clipped after the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) accused him of misappropriating $19 million of investors' funds. Rothenberg was slapped with more than $31 million in fines from the SEC as a result, but it appears authorities are still pushing for more, as the Justice Department has filed charges of fraud against him. The DoJ alleges Mike Rothenberg "orchestrated multiple schemes to defraud his victims", victims, in this case, being investors in Rothenberg Ventures, the eponymous venture capital firm Rothenberg founded.

The Justice Department accuses Rothenberg of bank fraud and defrauding investors. As for bank fraud, it's alleged that Rothenberg made false statements about his wealth to his bank while refinancing his home mortgage and obtaining a personal loan. As to allegedly defrauding investor…

Peloton Launches On Roku

Fitness sensation Peloton has formally launched its app on the Roku streaming platform, entailing its live fitness classes can now be streamed by Roku users in the comfort of their homes. The Peloton channel has been made available on the Roku Channel Store, enabling users to stream live fitness sessions for a fee. Payments will be processed on the Roku Pay platform, making signing up much easier for users. Existing Peloton subscribers can also automatically log-in using their credentials and gain access to live fitness sessions.

The coronavirus pandemic has largely driven people away from public gyms towards home fitness activities, and such, online fitness streaming activity has seemingly shot through the roof. According to Roku, streaming on its Health & Fitness category grew more than 130% in May alone. Peloton happens to be a benefit of the large pivot towards home fitness, thanks to its stationary bikes and treadmills with live-streamed fitness sessions that have garnered a…

Uber Reaches To Buy Postmates: Report

Uber is in talks to acquire food-delivery competitor Postmates in a $2.6 billion deal, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, which notes that a deal could be announced by next week or even sooner. Postmates has been said to be targeting an initial public offering but while also shopping itself around to potential buyers. Uber is notably fresh off an attempt to acquire Grubhub, another food delivery competitor which was, however, sold to British food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com.

Postmates has raised about $900 million in funding so far, valued at $2.4 billion as of its last funding round. The company had confidentially filed for a public listing in February of last year but didn't follow up with a public filing. In the past, Postmates is said to have shopped itself to companies including Walmart and food-delivery competitor DoorDash. Postmates is known to be unprofitable, so the public markets may not favor the company as much as a private sale and it seem…

TuSimple Seeks New Funding

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is seeking up to $250 million in new funding and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to help it raise that amount, as first reported by TechCrunch. Morgan Stanley is said to have sent out informational packets to potential investors in a bid to seek funding for TuSimple. Already, TuSimple has raised about $300 million in total funding but happens to be seeking more. The San Diego-based company last raised funding in September of last year.

TuSimple was founded in 2015, at a time when most of the self-driving industry was focused on passenger cars rather than big trucks. The company has managed to secure significant funding and attention since then, with backers including UPS, CDH Investments, and China's Sina Corp. Although based out of San Diego, TuSimple currently tests on public roads in the state of Arizona and also in Shanghai, China. The company is aiming to make a dent in the $800 billion U.S. trucking industry.

As of its last fundi…

Amazon Hands Bonuses To Frontline Workers

The coronavirus pandemic largely boosted the need for e-commerce and, in turn, the fortunes of Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon. It's such that Amazon hired 175,000 additional people to keep up with increased demand. Now, Amazon has announced it's doling out $500 million in combined bonuses to its frontline workers, who were employed at the company throughout the month of June. The bonus is divided into various grades, including $500 for full-time warehouse workers, $250 for part-time warehouse workers, $1,000 for warehouse leads, $3,000 for delivery service partners, and $150 for each Amazon Flex driver who drove more than 10 hours in June. The bonuses for warehouse workers also covers Whole Foods employees.

The bonus dole-out was announced by Dave Clark, Amazon's famed logistics chief, who has been instrumental in setting up and overseeing the company's mammoth logistics operations. Amazon dubs the bonus as a "Thank You" bonus for its workers, many of…

Tesla Delivered 90,650 Vehicles In Q2

As anticipated, Tesla just released its production numbers for the second quarter of this year and indicated it delivered 90,650 vehicles, a slight (4.8%) drop from the previous quarter. Tesla actually managed to beat expectations despite a pandemic that led it to suspend operation for weeks at its main production facility. The majority (80,050) of Tesla's deliveries were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, its less expensive models, while Model S and Model X vehicles, the more expensive ones, accounted for a minority (10,600).

Analysts had anticipated lower delivery numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with some even forecasting as low as 39,000 deliveries in this quarter. A concord of analysts polled by FactSet indicated an average forecast of 72,000 vehicle deliveries for the quarter.

The release of Tesla's latest production results comes on the heels of the company surpassing Japanese automaker Toyota to become the world's most valuable automaker.





Personal Capital Sells For $1 Billion

Personal Capital, a Redwood City, California-based wealth management startup, has been sold to retirement plan provider Empower Retirement in a deal that adds up to $1 billion. Empower Retirement has reached a deal to acquire Personal Capital for an upfront payment of $825 million in cash plus $175 million in potential "planned growth" incentives. The acquisition seems like a win for Personal Capital, which has raised $265 million in funding as a private company. According to PitchBook data, Personal Capital was valued at $950 million as of its last fundraising in February of last year.

Personal Capital was founded in 2008. The company provides digital-based money management services, similar to the likes of Wealthfront, Betterment, and Acorns. Currently, Personal Capital manages a cumulative $12 billion in assets for some 2.5 million users. Personal Capital has offices in the cities of San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, and Dallas. The company employs more than 400 people.

In…