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Showing posts from December, 2018

Netflix Said To Hire Outgoing Activision CFO

Netflix is reportedly hiring Activision CFO Spencer Neumann who the company says it’s planning to let go of for unspecified reasons in an SEC filing. Reuters reports this hire citing a source familiar with the matter, stating Neumann who has been placed on paid leave at Activision will take helm as CFO at Netflix early 2019.

According to Activision’s filing, It intends to terminate Neumann  “for cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.”  A hire won’t come as a surprise as current Netflix CFO David Wells made known this August of his intention to step down after a long 14 years at the company.

Netflix is expected to make an official announcement of this hire in the next few days, Reuters says, also noting that the company wants its next chief financial officer to be based in the Los Angeles area with a focus on production finance. Prior to Activision Blizzard, Neumann held roles at private equity firms Summit Partners and Providence E…

IP Disputes Can Now Be Taken To The Chinese Supreme Court

Intellectual property cases can now be taken to the Chinese Supreme Court, the government said this Saturday, marking a step to strengthen protection of IP amid complaints from U.S. along with the European Union of low enforcement of intellectual property rights in the country.

With China and the U.S. in talks to come to terms on a trade dispute which has led to tariffs placed on imported goods from both sides, This move likely counts as one related to this as displaying seriousness about U.S. concerns count as a step towards this.


Even with this, Deputy chief justice Luo Dongchuan has dismissed suggestions that this move was influenced by the U.S. side. “China has for many years followed international regulations and international treaties to protect intellectual property rights,” Luo said. “So it’s not because of the demands by foreign countries that we’ve stepped up protection [efforts]. This is an integral part of our own development.”

"China is already the world's secon…

Epic Games Said To Have Banked $3 Billion Profit This Year

Fortnite developer Epic Games made $3 Billion in profit this year according to TechCrunch which cites a source with knowledge of its business.

If this stands true, it'll mark a very successful year even more than previously estimated for the Fortnite maker. Several analyst predictions estimated the company was in line to make $2 Billion in gross profits for 2018.


Fortnite has proved to be a money making machine with its 125 million players spending lots of cash on in-game items for the free to play title. Epic has not released any revenue statistics for any of its games, In addition to Fortnite, it also makes money from other games like Battle Breakers, Robot Recall, Spyjinx and game development platform Unreal Engine.




Dell Returns To Public Markets After 5 Years In Private Hands

Dell has begun trading on the public stock market after listing on the NYSE this Friday under the symbol 'DELL', a move achieved through a buyback of shares that tracked financial performance of VMware, a firm it holds a majority stake in.

The buyback deal involved cash and stock, worth nearly $24 billion and allowed it to sidestep a traditional listing process which would likely have seen scrutiny from investors concerning Dell's debt pile. Dell has been leveling down its debt, majority of which was issued for its 2015 $67 billion purchase of EMC.


Dell is trading at around $45 (as of writing) on the New York Stock Exchange, It opened at $46 and hit a low of $44.77 during trading today. According to the Wall Street Journal, Silver Lake Partners, a key backer in Dell's 2013 buyout is retaining its 24% stake in the company.


Tesla Adds Larry Ellison And Walgreens Executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson To Board

Tesla has made two new additions to its board with the appointment of Oracle chairman Larry Ellison and Walgreens Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer Kathleen Wilson-Thompson as independent directors. This appointment took effect as of December 27 2018.

Tesla's board, led by its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee made this appointment after conducting "a thorough, expansive process in searching for its new independent directors, considering candidates with a wide range of skill sets from across the globe who also hold a strong personal belief in Tesla’s mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy." The company said in its statement.


“In conducting a widespread search over the last few months, we sought to add independent directors with skills that would complement the current board’s experience. In Larry and Kathleen, we have added a preeminent entrepreneur and a human resources leader, both of whom have …

Apple Will Reportedly Start Assembling Top-End iPhone Models In India Next Year

According to a Reuters report, Apple supplier Foxconn will begin assembling high-end iPhone models in India, potentially taking its business in the country to a higher level and likely as a way to sidestep tariffs that may arise from a U.S.-China trade war.

The report says work will begin at Foxconn’s plant in the town of Sriperumbudur with a 25 billion Indian rupees ($356 million) investment set for expansion of the manufacturing facility. This may create as much as 25,000 jobs in the Indian market, it added.


A move like this makes much sense for Apple as in addition to avoiding potential tariffs from the Chinese side where it assembles the bulk of its products, India has also placed high tariffs on imported smartphones in recent years, making Apple's products more expensive and unable to compete with cheaper models from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and Micromax who lead the country's smartphone market.

Apple has already begun assembling lower-cost iPhone SE and 6S mod…

Amazon And Walmart Face Tough Rules In Indian Market

E-commerce leaders Amazon and Flipkart are facing tough rules from the Indian government aimed at preventing predatory pricing and deep discounts that pose threat to its local retail market. The rule, effective from the 1st of February require that all vendors be treated equally on the same terms and that cash back provided must be fair and not affect the price of goods and services.

The Indian government has also barred e-commerce services from coercing sellers to feature products exclusively on their platforms. E-commerce companies will have to present a certificate confirming compliance to these rules along with an auditor's note to the Reserve Bank of India by the 30th of September every year for the preceding financial year.


Highlights noted in the government's statement include :

E-commerce companies no longer permitted to offer products made by companies which they hold equity in or have control of its inventory.Name, address and other contact details of the seller shou…

White House Reportedly Mulling Executive Order To Ban Purchase Of Huawei And ZTE Equipment

According to Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump is considering an executive order in the new year that will bar use of telecom equipment made by China's Huawei and ZTE for U.S. companies, a move that will mark the latest by the Trump Administration to cut Huawei and ZTE from the U.S. market following concerns its equipment could be used to spy on American citizens.

Reuters says the executive order which has been in consideration for over 8 months could be issued next month and would direct the United States Department of Commerce to prevent U.S. companies from purchasing equipment from foreign manufacturers that pose national security risks.





The order might unlikely name Huawei and ZTE in a direct manner but would be interpreted as authorization to restrict spread of equipment made by the two companies. An order like this may affect rural operators in the U.S. who make use of equipment made by foreign manufacturers that would cost lots of money and time to replace.

Telecom gian…

Citron Predicts Facebook Stock Could Hit $160 Next Year

Activist short seller Citron Research has predicted Facebook, trading at around $134 (as of writing) may hit $160 next year as it maintains revenues and user base with little impact even in the midst of several data scandals and privacy issues.

After years of growth, for the first time ever, Facebook is trading at a discount to the S&P and is at its lowest multiple ever, in part to data scandals including a most recent issue involving sharing of user data with several tech giants like Spotify, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo, it defended itself arguing this only happened with user permission granted.


"Despite Facebook’s massive $9.5B R&D Budget, it is inevitable that the system will somehow be abused or exploited." Citron said in its report. "What excites Citron the most is not the: live streaming, 3d photos, integration of platforms, or augmented reality. We believe investors will be rewarded by the shift of user behavior to Instagram shopping and the personalizati…

Amazon Inks A Record Holiday Season With "More Items Ordered Worldwide Than Ever Before"

Amazon has announced it had a record holiday season with customers purchasing millions more Amazon Devices this season compared to last year, best-selling devices for this period include the new Echo Dot smart speaker, The Echo and the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.

The company also said "tens of millions of people" globally began trials or paid memberships for its Amazon Prime subscription bundle, with over a billion items shipped for free this holiday in the U.S. Its Ring and Blink product lines also had more sales this holiday season than ever before, as per its statement.


Other highlights noted by the company for this holiday season include :
Customers requesting nearly 3x as many recipes on Alexa than normal.Alexa setting over 100 million timers.Customers requesting Alexa to turn on their holiday lights tens of millions of times, the number one request being “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey being the top re…

Despite Turbulence, Huawei Sold Over 200 Million Smartphones This Year

Huawei has announced that it exceeded 200 million sold smartphones this year despite turbulence relating to bans of its telecom equipment and the recent arrest of its CFO Meng Wanzhou who is currently on bail in Canada.

The 200 million sales came about with strengthened sales of the Honor 10, P20 and Mate 20 models which account for a significant percentage of this figure. According to Huawei, within two months of release, The Mate 20 series had shipped over 5 million units while the popular Huawei nova series sold over 65 million units units year.


8 years ago, Huawei inked a little 3 million annual sales, now growing to over 200 million in 8 years, indicating high growth for the Chinese company. It says its smartphones are being used by more than 500 million countries in over 170 countries as of current.

"Looking to the future, Huawei's consumer business will focus on the core concept of 'consumer-centric', and will dare to keep innovating, and make every effort to …

Here Are All The Retail Locations Apple Opened This Year

Beginning January this year, Apple launched new retail spots across the globe, spanning countries from Japan to Thailand, France and others. On the 26th of January, it opened its first official store in South Korea featuring 140 employees including 18 Koreans who worked in stores around the world before heading home.

Here are all the stores the company launched around the globe throughout this year:
Apple Garosugil in Seoul, South Korea - The company launched its first ever store in the country on the 26th of January to thousands of customers who braved sub-freezing temperatures to witness the event attended by Apple's senior vice president of Retail Angela Ahrendts.




Apple Kärntner Straße in Austria - Shortly after a South Korea launch, Apple opened its first store in Austria on the 22nd of  February. It's located on a famous pedestrian shopping street between St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera, housing 150 employees who speak 44 languages.




Apple Shinjuku in Toky…

Most Read Posts

Tencent Said To Purchase 10% Stake In Policybazaar

According to a Bloomberg report, Tencent has purchased a 10% stake in Policybazaar, an Indian online insurance aggregator that notably raised funding from the Softbank Vision Fund last year. According to Bloomberg, Tencent paid $150 million for the 10% stake, valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Tencent didn't actually make a direct investment into the company, but purchased half of a stake held by famed tech investor Tiger Global, according to Bloomberg. This entails Tiger Global, a New York-based investment firm that has backed and reaped profits from several high-profile tech companies, is the one on the receiving end of the transaction and not Policybazaar itself.

Tiger Global seems to have reaped good profits on its Policybazaar bet, having been known to have invested less than $100 million altogether in the company. Selling just half of its stake for $150 million indicates a healthy profit on its investment and possibly more profits from its remaining stake. Talks of Tiger …

Amazon Starts Shipping Echo Auto After More Than 1 Million Pre-orders

Amazon has began shipping the Echo Auto, one of the several new Alexa-enabled devices the company announced last year September. Alongside the Echo Auto, Amazon also unveiled several other Alexa-enabled gadgets including a microwave, clock, security camera and a smart plug.

Amazon tells TechCrunch over 1 million pre-orders were placed for the Echo Auto, signalling high interest in the device, which is basically a digital assistant for automobiles. Using the Echo Auto, car owners can link Amazon Alexa to their smartphones, and then perform several auto-related tasks such as playing music via car speakers, opening the garage door, finding the nearest gas station, and listening to the news while on the go, all via voice command.


Before now, the Echo Auto had only been available on an invite-only basis, with a few users having already set their hands on the device just in time for Christmas, according to Amazon VP Steve Rabuchin. Why the Echo Auto remained open only for pre-orders for so…

Meet goPuff, A Low-key Delivery Company Worth $1 Billion

The food-delivery market is one with intense competition. The likes of DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, Deliveroo, Swiggy, Just Eat, Yelp Eat 24, and more are steadily competing for global market share while also raising huge funding. Just recently, Deliveroo raised $575 million in a round led by Amazon. DoorDash has also raised $600 million Series G funding at a $12.6 billion valuation.

Amid the intense battle, it turns out there's one hot startup that has stayed low key to avoid the eye of rivals, but it seems word is getting out. That low-key hot startup is goPuff, an on-demand delivery service that was valued at $1 billion last November (after an investment), according to regulatory filings reviewed by The Information. goPuff ships products to customers from centrally located facilities -- as opposed to direct pickup from stores -- in 81 U.S. cities.


The company -- based in Philadelphia -- stocks more than 3,000 products at its facilities which it then ships to customers who o…

PayPal To Take $500 Million Stake In Uber

Ahead of an IPO, Uber and PayPal have reached an agreement to extend their global payments partnership, with the latter agreeing to invest $500 million in the ride-hailing company. PayPal is paying $47 per share for a $500 million stake in Uber, giving the company a valuation of $78.8 billion.

This purchase is similar to one made by Salesforce in video-conferencing company Zoom ahead of its just recent public market debut. Salesforce invested $100 million in Zoom before the company debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market. PayPal's Uber investment was announced by CEO Dan Schulman in a LinkedIn post and also made known in Uber's S-1 filing.


Schulman's post said both companies "intend to explore future commercial payment collaborations,", including working on Uber's digital wallet. Not much was made known in the announcement. Uber is set to debut soon on the public markets along with other companies like Slack and Fastly which recently filed for IPOs.

Slack and Uber…

Blackstone Snags Majority Stake In MagicLab

Private equity juggernaut Blackstone has announced it's acquiring a majority stake in MagicLab, a company that's behind several popular online dating services including Badoo and Bumble. Blackstone's acquisition values MagicLab, which traces its roots to the launch of Badoo in 2006, at around $3 billion. Under the terms of the acquisition, Andrey Andreev, a Russian entrepreneur who launched and has led the company for more than a decade, will be selling his stake and stepping down, to be replaced by Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble.

MagicLab is a prosperous but somewhat low-key company that has been behind some globally recognised online brands. Focused on the online dating sector, MagicLab is behind some of the best-known brands in that scene, including Badoo, a dating service with more than 400 million users, and Bumble, a female-focused dating app that was launched in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who's also a founding member of Tinder, another leadi…

Dropbox booms at its IPO!

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dropbox went boom on its first day of going public yersteday.

The online storage company soared by 40% after a pre-ipo value of about $7-$8 billion pushing the value of the company to $11.2 Billion which is 12% more than it's most recent private valuation of $10 Billion.

Dropbox got early investments from Y Combinator so it came as no surprise when the startup incubator's president Sam Altman shared pictures of the checks Y Combinator wrote the company at its beginning stage after offering them a very awesome congratulations for IPO Success.

YC has backed and churned out many unicorns including Airbnb, Stripe, Cruise, Instacart, Coinbase and also Doordash with Dropbox included, of all these unicorns, Dropbox has been the first to go public from its incubation and this marks a very huge milestone for the Startup Accelerator.

Drop has booming revenues of $1.1 billion in its fiscal 2017 which is 31% bigger than its $844.8 million in the previous year 201…

LA based Mobile game developer Jam City reportedly prepping for IPO

image credit : Jam City

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Mobile game developer Jam City is now preparing for an upcoming public offering which will see the 8 year old gaming startup debut on the public market with an aimed value of around $1 Billion according to the report.

Jam City till date has raised over $150 million in funding and has been behind several titles including Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Family Guy Another Freakin' Mobile Game, Marvel Avengers Academy which was added through an acquisition and several others which have stayed as top grossing apps with its Family Guy title recently crushing the $30 million revenue benchmark.





Jam City's most previous funding round stands as a very remarkable one with the Los Angeles based gaming studio which also counts locations across other cities raised $130 million in 2015 from South Korean major game publisher Netmarble.

With 6 acquisitions so far and several hit titles, Jam City which was notably …

Instacart said to raise $271 million in additional funding

Amid a recent $600 million investment which valued Instacart at $7.6 billion, The company has now been reported to have taken an extra $271 million investment from firms including Tiger Global as a result of interest from more investors.
This report comes from Reuters and cites a source familiar with the matter. Instacart's recent $600 million round was led by D1 Capital, a new hedge fund led by former Viking Global Investors chief investment officer Daniel Sundheim said to be on track to have raised $4 billion in commitments after just launching recently.

As per Reuters, Several firms to have indicated interest including Tiger Global and existing investors Coatue Management and Valiant Capital. It also stated the deal had been filed earlier this month in Delaware. With this round included, Instacart would now have raised $1.9 billion in total equity cementing its position as one of the most funded startups in the e-commerce space with enough capital for expansive operations.

Oth…

Microsoft’s mobile phone keyboard SwiftKey adds two-way translation for Android

Microsoft Translator, The software giant's technology which makes use of artificial intelligence for provision of translations for more than 60 languages has now been integrated with the Android version of Microsoft's SwiftKey mobile keyboard.

The company made this known in a recent announcement this Thursday. The real-time translation feature will now translate as its Android users text in real-time to offer a unique and much desired experience for cross-border messaging.



Once users tap the Microsoft Translator icon on the SwiftKey keyboard, The app begins its function with translation of messages between users. The app would also remember users' preferences leading to an elimination of the need to scroll through the full list of the more than 60 available languages which users choose from.

“We wanted to make it really easy for users to be able to translate as they type and to be able to translate incoming messages,” Colleen Hall, a senior product manager for SwiftKey sa…

Yelp Staves Off Board Challenge

Local-search and crowd-sourced review company Yelp has averted a board challenge from investor SQN Investors LP, after the company unveiled plans to improve returns, that was in-line with that of the Redwood City, California based hedge fund. SQN made this known in a recently released public letter to the company.

Yelp, last month, announced plans to save costs and added three independent directors to its board. This was in response to criticism that it wasn't doing enough to tackle a fall in advertising revenue. The company also recently raised its buyback budget to $500 million, up from a previous $250 million budget.


Other steps being taken by Yelp includes a reduction in marketing spend, increased monetization through partners, relocation of several employees from San Francisco to lower cost cities and a renewed focus on its Restaurants and Home & Local market segments. The company aims to double its size by 2023 and add roughly $1 billion in revenue through this period.