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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…

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Tesla Seals New Lithium Supply Deal

Electric carmaker Tesla has announced that it's entered into a binding agreement to purchase lithium ore mineral from Piedmont Lithium Limited, a publicly-traded lithium company that's based out of Australia. The agreement between both companies is initially for a five-year period, in which Tesla has committed to purchasing roughly one-third of Piedmont's annual output 160,000 tonnes of lithium ore mineral for each year as well as additional amounts that the electric carmaker has the option to request. The agreement is conditional on deliveries of the lithium ore beginning sometime between July 2022 and July 2023.Piedmont says it expects the Tesla deal to generate between 10-20% of total revenues from its proposed lithium project for the initial five-year period. That project, in particular, is the 'Piedmont Lithium Project', a lithium ore mining project being spearheaded by the company in the US state of North Carolina. A deal between Piedmont and Tesla represents…

Robinhood Bags Extra $460 Million

Stock trading app Robinhood has bagged yet another round of funding, with the company just having raised $460 million in new funding as an extension to a recently closed $200 million funding round. With the new funding, it's such that Robinhood has raised nearly $1.3 billion in funding this year alone. Overall, the company has now raised some $2.2 billion in total funding since its inception. Among investors who provided Robinhood's new funding include Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, DST Global, and D1 Capital Partners. The fundraise signals a very strong investor appetite for Robinhood, as the company benefits from surging retail trading activity during the coronavirus lockdown.This year has seen Robinhood top 13 million users and score $180 million in second-quarter revenue due to increased trading activity. The company added 3 million new funded accounts in the first four months of this year. As Robinhood has raised more funding, so has its valuation b…

Hims On Cusp Of Reverse Listing

Hims, a telemedicine upstart, is on the cusp of a deal to go public by merging with blank-check firm Oaktree Acquisition Corp, according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg, which states that a deal could be announced as early as next week. According to Bloomberg, Oaktree Capital Group, the asset management firm which controls the blank-check firm, is in discussions with investors to raise about $75 million in new funds to fund a merger with Hims, which could be valued at up to $1.6 billion from the deal.Hims is a telemedicine upstart that's best known for offering online prescriptions to treat conditions that are usually stigmatized, such as sexual dysfunction. The company facilitates online consultations with doctors and deliveries of prescription drugs to patients. Also, Hims sells its own line-up of skincare products and vitamins. As a private company, Hims, which was founded in 2017, has raised nearly $200 million in funding and was valued at $1.1 billion from its most recen…

Peeking Into Postmates' Finances

Food delivery service Postmates in on the cusp of a deal to merge with counterpart Uber, which is coughing up $2.65 billion in stock to take over the company. As the merger nears, appropriate filings have been made with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), giving a peek into Postmates' finances, information not publicly revealed up until now. Filings with the SEC show that Postmates recorded roughly $321 million in revenue in 2019, but with a net loss of $420 million in the same year. In 2018, the San Francisco-based company reported roughly $156 million in revenue and a net loss of $129 million in that same year. As at the end of 2019, Postmates had $186 million in cash on its balance sheet, after having raised about $900 million in funding up until that point as a private company. In 2019, a year that Postmates sought to go public, the company burned through $335 million in sales and marketing expenses, its highest ever, and compared to $85 million for the same ac…

Brief: Apple Buys Scout FM

Technology giant Apple has bought Scout FM, a popular app that creates radio stations for podcast listeners. The acquisition was first reported [paywall] by Bloomberg, which notes that Apple acquired the company earlier this year. The financial terms of the acquisition aren't disclosed. As a private company, Scout FM had raised $1.4 million in known funding from investors including Bloomberg Beta, Betaworks, Precursor Ventures, and Advancit Capital. Apple's acquisition of Scout FM is one of several known purchases the company has made this year. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has acquired more than half-a-dozen companies in 2020, including Fleetsmith, a mobile device management startup; Mobeewave, a payments company; virtual reality company NextVR; weather app Dark Sky; and artificial intelligence company Xnor.ai. Apple usually keeps its purchases tight-lipped, with most of them revealed by external media.

Big-Name Investors Pile On Cloud Paper

Cloud Paper, a Seattle-based startup whose core product is toilet paper made from bamboo, has raised $3 million in seed funding from a host of investors led by venture capital firm Greycroft. Along with Greycroft, investors who participated in the seed round include; Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, music star Ciara, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, movie stars Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow, Riot Games founder Marc Merill, and NFL Quarterback Russell Wilson. Cloud Paper says it'll use the new funding to further its business and expand into other tree-free product areas. Toilet paper is conventionally made from materials cut down from trees. In fact, it's estimated that humans use the equivalent of 270,000 trees worth of toilet paper each day. Cloud Paper, with a goal of tackling deforestation, is now providing an alternative in the form of toilet paper made from soft bamboo. Although bamboo itself is a plant, it typically g…

Peter Thiel Eyes Blank-Check Firm

Palantir co-founder and famed entrepreneur Peter Thiel is looking to strike gold once again, this time with a blank-check firm that'll seek to merge with another company. Thiel, along with Hong Kong-based businessman Richard Li, have created a new blank-check firm named Bridgetown Holdings that's seeking to raise $575 million on the public markets. The blank-check firm's sponsor is a joint venture between Thiel Capital, Peter Thiel's personal investment vehicle, and Pacific Century Group, a Hong Kong-based investment firm founded by Richard Li. The Bridgetown blank-check firm is led by Chief Executive Daniel Wong and Chairman Matt Danzeisen, who is himself notably married to Peter Thiel, while Wong, the chief executive, is a senior vice president at Li's Pacific Century Group. Bridgetown will have other board members including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and RRE Ventures partner John Hass.Peter Thiel is apparently seeking to add yet another blank-check firm to what has b…

EU Fights Apple Tax Fine Reversal

The European Commission has said that it'll appeal an Irish tax penalty reversal that was recently granted to Apple after the technology giant won an appeal to a $15 billion tax penalty that was levied against it by the European Union's second-highest court. The tax penalty in concern was levied against Apple in 2016 over allegations that the European nation of Ireland granted selective tax breaks to the company, which maintains its European headquarters in Ireland. That penalty was later appealed by Apple as well as the Irish government, which both came out victorious in July of this year. Now, the European Commission's Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, has said that it'll appeal the penalty reversal in the EU's highest court. Vestager is taking forward the matter to the European Court of Justice, officially the supreme court of the European Union. "If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals,…

Gemini Expands Into UK

Gemini, the popular US-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss brothers, has officially fully expanded into the UK, now supporting cryptocurrency trading and custody transactions in pounds sterling (GBP), the UK's official currency. Gemini's launch, as expected, comes on the heels of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) granting the company an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license, a license that normally grants a firm the permission to store clients' money for longer periods and to also issue cards, e-wallets and other instruments that facilitate the usage of their clients' money. Gemini overall is one of the first crypto businesses to be given such a license in the UK.With Gemini's launch, users can now make crypto purchases with British pounds and also make pound deposits to fund their accounts on the go without any major need to transact in foreign currencies or incur exchange rate fees. Institutional investors in the UK are not s…

VW's Traton Partners With TuSimple

The Traton Group, a heavy-duty truck subsidiary of German automaker Volkswagen, has entered into a partership with self-driving trucks upstart TuSimple. Under the terms of the partnership, both parties have launched a development program to operate autonomous trucks in a specified route in the European nation of Sweden. Traton has also purchased a minority stake in TuSimple under the terms of the partnership.The partnership between Traton and TuSimple represents the latter's first in Europe and actually spans several countries. Traton is aiming to test driverless truck fleets powered by TuSimple's technology across countries including Sweden and Germany, with both companies focused on Level 4 automation for their truck fleet. Traton is particularly aiming to develop self-driving truck fleets to help tackle a shortage of drivers in Europe. It's estimated that there lies a shortage of 60,000 truck drivers in Germany alone. Along with tackling driver shortage, adopting self-d…