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Jeff Bezos Backs UK Freight Startup

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos was among the investors in a $15 million Series A round raised by Beacon, a UK-based freight startup, as indicated by an announcement from the company. Another notable investor in the Series A is San Francisco-based venture capital firm 8VC. Beacon is a supply chain startup that provides real-time data on cargo delivery and also a marketplace for shipping services. The company was founded two years ago by two former Uber executives. Uber's two founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, alongside former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have previously invested in Beacon.

Jeff Bezos backing Beacon is notable, given that Amazon's mammoth e-commerce business relies majorly on a large and sophisticated supply chain to operate. Amazon could be a potential Beacon customer or partner, it seems. Bezos isn't new to investing in startups, having backed among other startups the likes of Convoy, Nextdoor, Sonder, Remitly, Grail, and Plenty.

With the Series A …
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Barclays Backs Cutover

British financial services giant Barclays has invested in Cutover, a London-based software startup, as made known by a recent press release from the company. Barclays' investment is apparently an extension of a Series A funding round that Cutover announced in November of last year. Cutover is a graduate of Barclays' startup accelerator program, so it's not surprising that the famed financial services company is backing it.

The size of Barclays' investment wasn't revealed. Cutover says it'll use the new funding to support its expansion.

Cutover is a London-based startup that develops software used by enterprises to help manage their work and organizational processes.





Splunk Advances $1.1 Billion Bond Sale

Software company Splunk has announced the pricing of a proposed $1.1 billion bond offering, forging ahead with a bond sale that'll offer convertible notes to be due by 2027. Splunk previously sought to sell $900 million in bonds but has apparently boosted that figure by an additional $200 million. The bond offering is expected to be completed on the 5th of June, 2020. Splunk's bonds will accrue interest that's payable semi-annually at a rate of 1.125% per year. The initial conversion rate for the bonds will equivalent 3.9164 shares of Splunk’s common stock per $1,000 principal amount of the bonds.

Splunk is reserving the right to redeem the bonds for cash anytime on or after the 20th of June, 2024. The San Francisco-based company intends to use the net proceeds from the $1.1 billion bond offering to cover the cost of previously issued bonds as well as general corporate purposes and working capital.





Twitter Appoints New Board Chairman

Twitter has appointed a new board chairman by the name of Patrick Pichette, who before his newly announced appointment was already a board member at Twitter, having joined the company's board in 2017. Pichette, who's best-known for previously serving as Google's chief financial officer, is replacing Omid Kordestani, who announced he's stepping down on Monday, in the position of chairman. Kordestani will continue to serve as a board member at Twitter despite his step-down.

Pichette's appointment as board chairman notably comes on the heels of a Twitter fray with activist investor Elliott Management, a fray that settled with Twitter agreeing to appoint three new directors to its board and set up a committee to review its leadership and governance. Twitter has already named two new board members, being Jesse Cohn of Elliott Management and Egon Durban of private equity firm Silver Lake, with a third presumably coming soon.

Pichette has decades of experience in financi…

Medallia Reports Record Quarterly Results

Survey software company Medallia has released its financial results for the first quarter of this year, indicating $113 million in revenue, up 20% year-over-year, and notably a record for the company. Subscription revenue accounted for $89 million out of the reported $113 million in revenues. During the quarter, Medallia generated operating cash flow of $23 million, but with increased spending, losses, however, amounted to about $33 million, compared to $2 million in the same quarter of last year.

As of April end, Medallia had about $408 million in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet. During the first quarter of this year, the San Francisco-based company notably completed its acquisition of Voci Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based speech-to-text startup.





Tovala Nabs $20 Million Series B

Tovala, a Chicago-based startup that makes smart ovens, has announced it's raised $20 million in Series B funding led by venture capital firm Finistere Ventures, with participation from both new and existing investors including the likes of Comcast Ventures, OurCrowd, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Origin Ventures, and the University of Chicago. With the new funding, Tovala says it'll grow its team and expand its production capabilities. Before now, Tovala is known to have raised nearly $19 million in funding, entailing the newly announced Series B adds up the company's total funding to about $39 million.

Tovala notably launched in 2017 with a successful Kickstarter campaign. The company's flagship product is a WiFi-connected oven capable of preparing pre-packaged meals also made by Tovala. Basically, Tovala sells pre-packaged foods alongside a custom oven to prepare them. Thanks to being WiFi-connected, Tovala's oven is capable of baking and broiling to stipulat…

Vivo Debuts X50 Series

Chinese smartphone brand Vivo has debuted yet another smartphone series, this time the X50 alongside its X50 Pro and X50 Pro+ variants. The X50's seemingly most notable feature is a gimbal-style camera system that moves in the opposite direction of shaking motions during picture takes and, in turn, helps stabilize the smartphone to ensure quality pictures. Other of its notable features include support for 5G connectivity, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+X55 processor, and a screen refresh rate of 90/120Hz.

The Vivo X50 is a very slim phone, measuring only 7.49mm thick. For a fact, Vivo touts it as "the slimmest 5G phone ever."

Vivo actually didn't offer much information on its new smartphone. As for now, pricing for the smartphone isn't even known. What's definitely clear from available information is that the X50 series features a very solid camera system and supports 5G connectivity, which may just be around the corner, and even more so in China, where Vivo is b…

Ezra Nabs $18 Million Series A

Ezra, a New York-based cancer screening and medical imaging startup, has announced it's raised $18 million in Series A funding led by venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, with participation from a host of both new and existing investors including the likes of Founders Future, Seedcamp, and entrepreneurs Jeff Raider (Harry's), Dave Gilboa (Warby Parker), Vlad Tenev (Robinhood), and Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise). Ezra says it'll use the funding to expand its medical imaging services, which are primarily targeted at detecting cancer.

Ezra is helping to improve early cancer detection with a proprietary full-body MRI scan that typically takes under an hour and screens for cancer in up to 12 organs of the body. The company's goals entail making cancer screening and early detection easier as well as more affordable. Ezra began offering its cancer screening service last year and currently does so in the cities of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Also, on the heel…

Zynga Snaps Up Gaming Studio Peak

Gaming company Zynga has reached a deal to acquire Turkish gaming studio Peak for a tidy sum of $1.8 billion, consisting of $900 million in cash and $900 million worth of Zynga shares. Zynga's CEO, Frank Gibeau, recently shed light on the acquisition deal. The acquisition marks Zynga's biggest since its inception. Zynga is apparently betting huge on Peak, given the company is digging deep into its balance sheet to partly finance the acquisition. Once the acquisition is complete, Zynga says it'll have about $600 million in cash at hand.

According to Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau, Peak's acquisition could add about $300 million to the company's bookings in the second half of this year. Zynga is notably clinching the acquisition at a time when its business is booming, driven by consumers who are primarily staying at home with fewer-than-usual entertainment options and, as a result, resorting to social and mobile games for entertainment.

The acquisition isn't actually Zy…

YouTube Pledges $1 Million For Police Reform

In the wake of the recent death of George Floyd, a Minnesota-based man, from what was apparently a case of police brutality and an incident that has now led to massive protests across the US, mega video site YouTube has pledged to donate $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity, a non-profit research firm that basically works together with law enforcement agencies across the US to help improve local policing efforts. YouTube made its $1 million donation known in a Sunday tweet but didn't initially make mention of which organization the donation was headed to. Later on, in a brief YouTube post, the company revealed the donor receptor as the Center for Policing Equity.

We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice. — YouTube (@YouTube) May 30, 2020

The Center for Policing Equity is a research center that was founded at the University of California-Los Ange…

NASA Taps 8 Firms To Make Ventilators

In the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, NASA has vetted and formally selected eight companies that'll manufacture ventilators based on a recent design that was put together by engineers at the famed NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The prototype design, which was created by JPL engineers in 37 days, recently received an emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After receiving more than 100 applications, NASA has selected only eight to manufacture the new ventilator which is tailored for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

NASA's new ventilator is called VITAL, short for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally. It's designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, due in part to relying on parts readily available in global supply chains. It's simpler and more affordable, although less sophisticated than traditional ventilators. The new ventilator was developed by engineers who sought input from doctors…

SpaceX Sends Astronauts Into Orbit

Following a three-day delay that originated from inconvenient weather, SpaceX today attempted and successfully launched two NASA astronauts, by the names of Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, into the Earth's orbit en-route to the International Space Station (ISS). The successful launch marks the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. after nearly a decade of hiatus, given that the last time human astronauts launched from U.S. soil was in 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch rocket successfully launched the two NASA astronauts who were aboard a SpaceX Dragon re-usable spacecraft at about 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The launch took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

Some minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket, having launched the Dragon capsule into orbit, successfully glided back into the Earth and landed atop SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You drone ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, NASA's astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, a…

Tencent In Talks For Warner Music Stake

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal [paywall], Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks to purchase a minority stake in the Warner Music Group, an entertainment multinational that's notably one of the "big three" music recording companies globally. The Warner Music Group was a formerly publicly-traded company up until its sale to industrial group Access Industries in 2011. Fast-forward till now and Access Industries is looking to take the company public once again. It seems that ahead of its planned public listing, Access is looking to sell a minority stake in Warner to a private investor, which happens to be Tencent in this case. The Journal reports Tencent is discussing an investment of $200 million in the music recording company.

According to the Journal, the Warner Music Group aims to raise as much as $1.8 billion from its public offering, and with Tencent as a possible anchor investor. Warner is said to be targeting a valuation of between $11.7 billion…

Didi's AV Unit Nabs $500 Million Round

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has announced it's secured $500 million in funding for its autonomous vehicle (AV) subsidiary, which was spun off as an independent entity in August of last year. The funding, which was led by the second iteration of the SoftBank Vision Fund, apparently marks the largest single investment for a Chinese self-driving company. It comes not too long after another Chinese self-driving company, Pony.ai, secured $462 million in funding led by Japanese automaker Toyota, which is notably also an investor in Didi.

Didi first began developing and testing self-driving vehicles in 2016. With the new funding, the company says it'll deepen its investments in R&D as well as strategic industry partnerships. Currently, Didi has licenses to test autonomous vehicles in three Chinese cities as well as in the U.S. state of California. The company says it aims to deploy commercial self-driving fleets in select Chinese cities in future time.

The $500 milli…

Uber Introduces Hourly Rides

Following what was termed as a "successful pilot" across several countries, Uber has announced that it's formally introducing hourly rides for users at a cost of $50 per hour. The feature is targeted primarily at persons who require long rides to facilitate work and other related activities, a key example being delivery drivers. With the new feature, Uber riders will be able to pre-plan their trips rather than having to re-request a trip at each location they visit. To help ensure comfort, Uber says hourly riders will primarily ride in newer and more spacious vehicles.

Dubbed Uber Hourly, Uber is initially making the new feature available in select cities across the US, beginning on the 2nd of June.





Helbiz Debuts Rome's First E-Scooter Fleet

Helbiz, a New York City-based shared e-scooter company, has debuted the first-ever electric-scooter fleet in the Italian city of Rome, having been able to do so thanks to a formal partnership with the city. Helbiz will be launching a fleet of 1,000 shared e-scooters in Rome, which will add to the company's already existing fleet of 2,500 shared electric-bikes in the same city. The city of Rome has permitted shared electric bikes but not e-scooters up until this point. To use the e-scooters, Helbiz will charge customers its usual price of 1€ for the initial unlocking + 0.15€ for each minute of a ride. The company also offers a monthly subscription option that lets users unlimitedly ride its e-scooters or e-bikes provided the ride time is under or equal to 30 minutes.

Currently, Helbiz operates its shared e-bike and e-scooter services in more than 20 cities globally. The cities include Milan, Rome, Washington DC, Alexandria, Arlington, and Miami. Although based out of New York, Hel…

VMware's Q1 Results

Cloud computing company VMware just released its financial results for the first quarter of this year, indicating $2.7 billion in quarterly revenue, up 12% year-over-year. Net income for the quarter came at $386 million, up slightly from $380 million in the same quarter of last year. Operating cash flow for the quarter amounted to $1.37 billion. “In these unprecedented times, we delivered solid performance and strong execution in Q1 FY21,” VMware's CEO, Pat Gelsinger, noted in a press statement.

For the first quarter, VMware's Subscription and SaaS revenue grew 39% year-over-year, having amounted to $572 million. Licensing revenue also grew 16% year-over-year during the quarter.





Wipro Appoints New CEO

Indian tech outsourcing giant Wipro has announced its appointment of a new chief executive by the name of Thierry Delaporte, who was, before this appointment, notably the chief operating officer and a board member at French outsourcing multinational Capgemini. Delaporte's appointment is effective on the 6th of July, 2020. He's replacing Wipro's current CEO, Abidali Neemuchwala, who is stepping down from his position formally on the 1st of June, 2020.

Under Delaporte's role as CEO, he'll report to Wipro's current chairman, Rishad Premji, who is notably the son of the company's famed founder, Azim Premji. As Delaporte is heading to Wipro from a French company, it's no surprise that Wipro says he'll be based in the city Paris as chief executive, despite the fact that Wipro maintains its headquarters far away in Bengaluru, India.





Okta's Q1 Results

Cloud security company Okta has released its financial results for the first quarter of 2020, indicating $183 million in revenue, a 46% year-over-year increase, of which subscription revenue accounted for the majority of as is usual. Losses for the quarter, however, amounted to $52 million, around the same figure recorded in the same quarter last year. Net cash flow for the quarter amounted to a record of about $39 million.

For the second quarter of this year, San Francisco-based Okta is projecting revenue of between $185 million to $187 million and between $4 million to $5 million in losses. For the full fiscal year, the company expects revenue of between $770 million to $780 million, representing an expected year-over-year growth rate hovering around 30%.

As of April end, Okta's cash and cash equivalents stood at about $1.5 billion.





Cisco Snaps Up ThousandEyes

Cisco has reached a deal to acquire ThousandEyes, a cybersecurity startup based in San Francisco, as indicated by a recently released press statement. ThousandEyes is a cybersecurity startup that's funded by investors including Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Alphabet's GV, and Sutter Hill Ventures. Cisco didn't disclose the acquisition price in its press statement, but a report from Bloomberg that came a few hours before the release of the official press statement pegged the acquisition price at nearly $1 billion. Such a price seems like a very good deal, given ThousandEyes is known to have raised about $111 million in private funding since its inception. Such a price wouldn't also be surprising, given ThousandEyes early this year announced that it had surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

According to ThousandEyes, its revenue grew 80% year-over-year in its most recent fiscal year. ThousandEyes' flagship product is a network intelligenc…

Apex Legends Draws Record Viewers

Apex Legends, the popular 'battle royale' game published by gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts (EA), just kicked off its Season 5 update and apparently drew record viewers and players alike. In a press statement, Electronic Arts announced that Apex Legends Season 5 has driven the highest player retention that it's ever experienced for a season launch, with "players playing for longer periods of time per day than ever before." According to EA, trailers for Apex Legends Season 5 have drawn more than 47 million views till date.

Among other things, Apex Legends Season 5 introduced new features, content, and a new character into the popular battle royale game. Apex Legends aims to set itself apart from other battle royale games through unique storylines and content, bolstered by a sizeable development team in the cities of Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.

Currently, Apex Legends is known to have about 70 million registered players. The battle royale game notably att…

Gemini Teams Up With Samsung

Crypto exchange Gemini, which is led by famed tech twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics that entails integrating its crypto services with Samsung's own crypto wallet app. Thanks to the partnership, users of the Samsung Blockchain Wallet will be able to connect to Gemini to trade and as well store cryptocurrency. Gemini is notably the first cryptocurrency exchange to partner with Samsung.

The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is Samsung's own crypto wallet that's targeted primarily at mobile users. Samsung is apparently banking on a partnership with Gemini as one that can attract more users or better retain already registered users. The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is currently available for Samsung users but only on select Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which are the Galaxy S20 Series, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Note 10 Series, Galaxy Fold, and Galaxy S10 series.

"Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be w…

Zuora Poaches SAP Cloud CFO

Cloud-based subscription management company Zuora has poached the chief financial officer (CFO) of German software giant SAP's cloud division to become its own chief financial officer, effective on the 22nd of June, 2020. Redwood City, California-based Zuora made this known in a recent press statement. Todd McElhatton, who currently serves as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the SAP Cloud Business Group, will join Zuora to oversee its accounting and finance teams. Under his role, he'll report directly to Zuora's CEO, Tien Tzuo.

Todd McElhatton notably brings more than two decades of rich corporate finance leadership to Zuora's table. Over the span of his career, McElhatton has held finance roles at companies including SAP, Oracle, VMware, and HP. At all the aforementioned companies, he served as chief financial officer of several of its divisions but never as CFO of a whole company. Apparently, he'll now get to do that at Zuora, where he's …

Box Adds Carl Bass To Board

Cloud storage company Box has announced the addition of Carl Bass of Autodesk fame to its board. His appointment comes on the heels of the addition of another Box board member by the name of Bethany Mayer. Both board appointments apparently fall under an agreement made by Box with activist investor Starboard Value LP to add new independent directors to its board. Box has taken to add tech veterans to its board as part of the agreement.

Carl Bass most recently held the positions of president and CEO at engineering and construction software powerhouse Autodesk. Before that, he served as Autodesk's chief technology officer and chief operations officer. Altogether, Bass spent 24 years at Autodesk. In his career, Bass has co-founded not one but two companies that were acquired by Autodesk. First was Ithaca Software, which Autodesk acquired in 1993, followed by Buzzsaw, which Autodesk acquired in 2001.

Currently, Carl Bass also serves on the boards of other tech companies like Zendesk,…

Coinbase Snaps Up Tagomi

Crypto company Coinbase has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Tagomi, a New York-based cryptocurrency brokerage that has raised funding from the likes of Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Digital Currency Group, and 8VC's Joe Lonsdale. Tagomi is known to have raised $28 million in total funding since its inception. According to Forbes, Coinbase is ponying up between $75 million and $100 million to acquire Tagomi, and impressive is the fact that Tagomi launched only 18 months ago.

Coinbase is apparently acquiring Tagomi to boost its institutional crypto trading business. Having found sizeable success in the consumer crypto trading realm, Coinbase has turned to institutional trading to further bolster its business. Among the company's institutional services include crypto asset management, compliance services, and advanced trading capabilities such as margin trading. Coinbase says it's seen a swell in demand for its services from institutional investors over the pa…

KKR Sets Up $2.5 Billion Data Center Venture

Famed private equity firm KKR has announced it's embarking on a new data center venture via the formation of a new company, Global Technical Realty (GTR), a company will set up and offer data center services in Europe. KKR is committing $1 billion in equity for the venture, plus additional commitments over time that'll eventually add up to about $2.5 billion, according to a press statement.

The new company, GTR, will be led by Franek Sodzawiczny, a veteran data center entrepreneur who previously founded and led Zenium, a data center operator that was acquired in 2018 for about $442 million. Zenium was acquired by CyrusOne, a data center-focused real estate investment trust. Before founding Zenium, Sodzawiczny also co-founded Sentrum, a large U.K.-based data center operator.

GTR has initiated a partnership with Mercury Engineering, a European engineering contractor with deep experience in data center construction, to help design and develop data center products that'll cat…

Amazon In Talks To Acquire Zoox: Report

Amazon is in talks to acquire self-driving startup Zoox, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports Amazon and Zoox are negotiating a deal that would value Zoox at less than the $3.2 billion valuation which the company got in its last financing round. Zoox, which was founded in 2014, has as of late struggled to raise more funding despite already having raised some $955 million in funding. Developing self-driving cars is expensive, and even with nearly $1 billion raised, Zoox's total funding isn't on par with some of its peers such as GM Cruise, Alphabet's Waymo, and Ford's Argo AI. An Amazon acquisition would hypothetically give new life to Zoox, which as opposed to fitting already existing cars with self-driving equipment like many of its peers do, has decided to build its own self-driving cars from the ground up.

Amazon isn't new to the self-driving world, having led a $530 million financing round for Aurora Innovation, another well-…

Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey Back Apeel

Apeel Sciences, a Santa Barbara-based company that's developing technology to extend the freshness of produce and, in turn, reduce food waste, has announced it's raised $250 million in new financing led by GIC, notably the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, with participation from other investors including Upfront Ventures, Viking Global Investors, and celebrity backers Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry. The new financing values Apeel, an eight-year-old company, at more than $1 billion. Apeel Sciences was notably kickstarted in 2012 by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apeel has developed a plant-derived chemical solution that is applied to the surface of fruits and vegetables to help preserve them. Punningly, Apeel terms the plant-derived solution as adding an extra "peel" to the surface of fruits and vegetables. The company claims its solution is capable of doubling or even tripling the shelf life of many fresh produce types without the need for re…

Sony Debuts New Digital Camera

Popular electronics brand Sony has debuted yet another digital camera, this time a lightweight, pocket-sized digital camera called the ZV-1, which is primarily targeted at content creators. Among the camera's features include the ability to lock on to and track subjects and objects, high resolution, enhanced audio quality, and Bluetooth connectivity. The ZV-1 can also be transformed into a webcam by connection to a personal computer via USB.

The Sony ZV-1 weighs 294 grams and measures 105.5mm x 60.0mm x 43.5mm. Among its hardware parts include a 3.5mm standard mic jack, the latest Bionz X image processor, a wind-screen accessory that minimizes wind interference, a tiltable LCD screen, and a directional 3-capsule microphone made by Sony.

The ZV-1 will be released in early June for a slightly discounted price of $750. Beginning from the 28th of June, however, the retail price of the camera will be $800.





Insitro Nabs $143 Million Series B

Insitro, a San Francisco-based drug discovery startup, has announced $143 million in Series B funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from the likes of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, T. Rowe Price, BlackRock,  Alphabet's GV, Two Sigma Ventures, and Third Rock Ventures. Under the terms of the financing, Vijay Pande, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has taken a board seat at Insitro.

Insitro says it'll put the new funding towards building out its drug discovery technology, pursuing new drug discoveries, R&D, and establishing new partnerships. With this funding, Insitro has now raised a total of $243 million in equity financing since its inception.

Insitro is one of a series of drug discovery startups that have emerged recently and are capitalizing on the growth of machine learning techniques and resources globally. Basically, Insitro's work entails harnessing machine learning and data engineering techniques to help in drug dis…

SpaceX Set For Human Spaceflight

After months upon months of preparation, the famed aerospace company SpaceX is apparently set to launch human astronauts into space, its launch being the final major test required for SpaceX to be certified by NASA for operational manned crew missions to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX is ready for a final major test flight with two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, onboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This test flight notably marks the return of human spaceflight to the US, given that the last time a manned crew spaceflight launched from U.S. soil was in 2011.

SpaceX is set to launch its historic crewed spaceflight on Wednesday, the 27th of March, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

As planned, once the Dragon spacecraft docks at the International Space Station with the two astronauts on board, it's set to return back to the Earth atmosphere and splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, where it'll be quickly recovered an…

Bithumb Names New CEO

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has announced its appointment of a new CEO by the name of Back Young Heo, who has actually previously held the role of chief executive at Bithumb. Young Heo led Bithumb as CEO between the months of April to December 2018, a notably brief tenure, and is now back at the helm of the company. His appointment comes at a time when Bithumb is tightening and upgrading its anti-money-laundering efforts and policies.

In March of this year, the government of South Korea passed a bill to formally regulate cryptocurrency, a bill which stipulated that all Korean crypto exchanges comply with by March of next year. Bithumb is apparently putting much effort into being in compliance with the passed bill. The company says it plans to hire professionals with compliance experience in traditional finance and as well invest substantially in its anti-money-laundering and fraud detection efforts. Heo's appointment seems to be driven by Bithumb's efforts, g…

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Splunk Advances $1.1 Billion Bond Sale

Software company Splunk has announced the pricing of a proposed $1.1 billion bond offering, forging ahead with a bond sale that'll offer convertible notes to be due by 2027. Splunk previously sought to sell $900 million in bonds but has apparently boosted that figure by an additional $200 million. The bond offering is expected to be completed on the 5th of June, 2020. Splunk's bonds will accrue interest that's payable semi-annually at a rate of 1.125% per year. The initial conversion rate for the bonds will equivalent 3.9164 shares of Splunk’s common stock per $1,000 principal amount of the bonds.

Splunk is reserving the right to redeem the bonds for cash anytime on or after the 20th of June, 2024. The San Francisco-based company intends to use the net proceeds from the $1.1 billion bond offering to cover the cost of previously issued bonds as well as general corporate purposes and working capital.





Ezra Nabs $18 Million Series A

Ezra, a New York-based cancer screening and medical imaging startup, has announced it's raised $18 million in Series A funding led by venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, with participation from a host of both new and existing investors including the likes of Founders Future, Seedcamp, and entrepreneurs Jeff Raider (Harry's), Dave Gilboa (Warby Parker), Vlad Tenev (Robinhood), and Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise). Ezra says it'll use the funding to expand its medical imaging services, which are primarily targeted at detecting cancer.

Ezra is helping to improve early cancer detection with a proprietary full-body MRI scan that typically takes under an hour and screens for cancer in up to 12 organs of the body. The company's goals entail making cancer screening and early detection easier as well as more affordable. Ezra began offering its cancer screening service last year and currently does so in the cities of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Also, on the heel…

OutSystems Adds New Board Member

OutSystems, a Boston-based software development company, has announced the addition of a new board member by the name of Kara Wilson, who is notably a strategic adviser for private equity firm KKR, which is a major investor in OutSystems. Wilson will now hold a board seat at OutSystems in addition to other board seats at tech companies including Paychex, KnowBe4, Corel, and Epicor. Of the four aforementioned companies, two -- Epicor and Corel -- are outrightly owned by KKR. Wilson, as an adviser for KKR, often gets board seats at companies that are backed by the private equity firm.

Kara Wilson is a tech veteran with more than two decades of experience in the industry. She has previously served as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for four well-known tech companies; Okta, FireEye, SuccessFactors (acquired by SAP), and Rubrik. Earlier in her career, she also held executive roles at Cisco and PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle). Most recently, she worked as the Chief Marketing Officer of Rubri…

Brex Nabs $150 Million In New Funding

Payments startup Brex has announced it's raised an additional $150 million in funding led by DST Global, already an existing investor in the company. The new funding is an extension of Brex's Series C rather than a new funding round. Brex says the new funding gives a "slight premium" to its post-money valuation, which stood at about $2.6 billion as of the company's last equity fund-raise. Brex seems to have raised this funding to bolster its balance sheet in the middle of an uncertain business environment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

With the new funding, Brex has now raised more than $400 million in equity funding. The company has also secured about $300 million in credit facilities.





Zynga Snaps Up Gaming Studio Peak

Gaming company Zynga has reached a deal to acquire Turkish gaming studio Peak for a tidy sum of $1.8 billion, consisting of $900 million in cash and $900 million worth of Zynga shares. Zynga's CEO, Frank Gibeau, recently shed light on the acquisition deal. The acquisition marks Zynga's biggest since its inception. Zynga is apparently betting huge on Peak, given the company is digging deep into its balance sheet to partly finance the acquisition. Once the acquisition is complete, Zynga says it'll have about $600 million in cash at hand.

According to Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau, Peak's acquisition could add about $300 million to the company's bookings in the second half of this year. Zynga is notably clinching the acquisition at a time when its business is booming, driven by consumers who are primarily staying at home with fewer-than-usual entertainment options and, as a result, resorting to social and mobile games for entertainment.

The acquisition isn't actually Zy…

SpaceX Sends Astronauts Into Orbit

Following a three-day delay that originated from inconvenient weather, SpaceX today attempted and successfully launched two NASA astronauts, by the names of Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, into the Earth's orbit en-route to the International Space Station (ISS). The successful launch marks the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. after nearly a decade of hiatus, given that the last time human astronauts launched from U.S. soil was in 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch rocket successfully launched the two NASA astronauts who were aboard a SpaceX Dragon re-usable spacecraft at about 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The launch took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

Some minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket, having launched the Dragon capsule into orbit, successfully glided back into the Earth and landed atop SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You drone ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, NASA's astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, a…

Zuora Poaches SAP Cloud CFO

Cloud-based subscription management company Zuora has poached the chief financial officer (CFO) of German software giant SAP's cloud division to become its own chief financial officer, effective on the 22nd of June, 2020. Redwood City, California-based Zuora made this known in a recent press statement. Todd McElhatton, who currently serves as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the SAP Cloud Business Group, will join Zuora to oversee its accounting and finance teams. Under his role, he'll report directly to Zuora's CEO, Tien Tzuo.

Todd McElhatton notably brings more than two decades of rich corporate finance leadership to Zuora's table. Over the span of his career, McElhatton has held finance roles at companies including SAP, Oracle, VMware, and HP. At all the aforementioned companies, he served as chief financial officer of several of its divisions but never as CFO of a whole company. Apparently, he'll now get to do that at Zuora, where he's …

Gemini Teams Up With Samsung

Crypto exchange Gemini, which is led by famed tech twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics that entails integrating its crypto services with Samsung's own crypto wallet app. Thanks to the partnership, users of the Samsung Blockchain Wallet will be able to connect to Gemini to trade and as well store cryptocurrency. Gemini is notably the first cryptocurrency exchange to partner with Samsung.

The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is Samsung's own crypto wallet that's targeted primarily at mobile users. Samsung is apparently banking on a partnership with Gemini as one that can attract more users or better retain already registered users. The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is currently available for Samsung users but only on select Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which are the Galaxy S20 Series, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Note 10 Series, Galaxy Fold, and Galaxy S10 series.

"Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be w…

YouTube Pledges $1 Million For Police Reform

In the wake of the recent death of George Floyd, a Minnesota-based man, from what was apparently a case of police brutality and an incident that has now led to massive protests across the US, mega video site YouTube has pledged to donate $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity, a non-profit research firm that basically works together with law enforcement agencies across the US to help improve local policing efforts. YouTube made its $1 million donation known in a Sunday tweet but didn't initially make mention of which organization the donation was headed to. Later on, in a brief YouTube post, the company revealed the donor receptor as the Center for Policing Equity.

We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice. — YouTube (@YouTube) May 30, 2020

The Center for Policing Equity is a research center that was founded at the University of California-Los Ange…

Tencent In Talks For Warner Music Stake

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal [paywall], Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks to purchase a minority stake in the Warner Music Group, an entertainment multinational that's notably one of the "big three" music recording companies globally. The Warner Music Group was a formerly publicly-traded company up until its sale to industrial group Access Industries in 2011. Fast-forward till now and Access Industries is looking to take the company public once again. It seems that ahead of its planned public listing, Access is looking to sell a minority stake in Warner to a private investor, which happens to be Tencent in this case. The Journal reports Tencent is discussing an investment of $200 million in the music recording company.

According to the Journal, the Warner Music Group aims to raise as much as $1.8 billion from its public offering, and with Tencent as a possible anchor investor. Warner is said to be targeting a valuation of between $11.7 billion…