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Showing posts from January, 2019

Clutter Raising Between $200 Million And $250 Million From Softbank : TechCrunch

According to a TechCrunch report, Clutter, a storage-on-demand service that lets users get their possessions packed up, taken away, stored and returned at the click of an app, is raising between $200 million and $250 million in a round led by Softbank. It says term sheets for the investment are out but are not yet finalised as investors go through due diligence.

Clutter, which operates in the Bay Area, Seattle, Southern California, New York and Chicago, has raised $96 million in funding according to Crunchbase. Investors in the company include Alphabet's GV, Atomico, Sequoia Capital, Fifth Wall, Bracked Capital, Wonder Ventures and Four Rivers Group. It last raised $64 million in 2017 at a $240 million valuation according to Pitchbook.


An investment like this could be used to aid expansion into more regions, likely urban areas where people live in smaller spaces with less storage options and plausibly have more disposable income to pay for their stuff to be kept somewhere else.

P…

San Jose Based Zoom Reportedly In Process Of Filing For IPO

San Jose based Zoom, a provider of cloud based remote conferencing services valued at $1 billion is in the process of filing confidentially for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) according to Business Insider which cites a source familiar with the company's plans. It says that the registration is stuck due to the current U.S. government shutdown which makes the filing not yet official.

Reuters reported in October that the company is preparing for an IPO, joining a host that includes Infor, Megvii, Slack, Cloudflare, Palantir, CrowdStrike and Slack. It says the company has asked investment bank Morgan Stanley to lead the IPO, which could happen this year. Zoom has raised north of $140 million in funding according to Crunchbase, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Horizons Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Maven Ventures and healthcare billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.


The company was founded in 2011 by early WebEx engineer Eric Yuan who jo…

Intel Names Interim Robert Swan As CEO

Intel has announced it has appointed Robert “Bob” Swan, its interim chief executive officer for seven months running and former chief financial officer, as its new CEO, marking Swan as the seventh person to hold the position in Intel's 50-year history. He is replacing Brian Krzanich, who resigned June last year amid disclosure of a consensual relationship with an employee that was found to be in violation of company policy.

Other past Intel CEOs include co-founder Robert Noyce (1968-1975), co-founder Gordon Moore (1975-1987), Andrew Grove (1987-1998), Craig Barrett (1998-2005) and Paul Otellini (2005-2013). Swan joined Intel in September 2016, arriving from General Atlantic and replacing Stacy Smith as the chip manufacturer's CFO. Earlier in his career, he served as CFO of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), eBay and TRW Automotive and as CFO, COO and CEO of online grocery delivery early entree and dotcom bust Webvan.





As Intel's chief financial officer, he led its global finan…

Tesla Says Model Y Production To Begin By 2020 End

In a Wednesday letter to shareholders, Tesla has said that Model Y, the SUV electric vehicle the company has been teasing and hinting at since 2015 will begin production by 2020 end. The company reported $139 million in net profit for the three months ended December, its second consecutive quarter with positive earnings.

“This year should be a truly exciting one for Tesla,” the California based company said in the shareholder letter. “Model 3 will become a global product, the profitability of our business should become sustainably positive, our new Gigafactory Shanghai should start producing cars, and we will start tooling for Model Y production.”


Tesla says it expects to be producing about 7,000 vehicles a week at its Fremont factory by the end of the year. The company recently lessened production hours for the Model S and Model X vehicles, while it focuses on boosting Model 3 production. "Model 3's production rate progressively improved" last quarter, "with Decem…

Apple Music Users Will Now Be Able To Stream Songs On American Airlines Flights For Free

Beginning Friday, Apple Music subscribers will be able to access the over 50 million songs, playlists and music videos on the streaming service on any domestic American Airlines flight equipped with Viasat satellite Wi-Fi without needing to purchase in-flight WiFi. Apple just made this announcement, marking American Airlines as the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music for travellers via complimentary inflight Wi-Fi.

All Apple Music subscribers will have to do to begin streaming is connect to Wi-Fi on any Viasat-equipped American Airlines aircraft at no cost and login with their Apple Music accounts. People not signed up for Apple Music will be able to get it in-flight, sign up onboard and get the normal free access for three months after registering.


“For most travelers, having music to listen to on the plane is just as important as anything they pack in their suitcases,” Apple Music vice president Oliver Schusser said in a statement. “With the addition…

Stripe Nabs $100 Million Series E At $22.5 Billion Valuation

Just after Acorns and Clover Health, another startup has raised huge funding, this time, Stripe, the San Francisco based payments company that powers payments for lots of small businesses and also big names like Lyft, Postmates, Expedia, Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Zillow and Microsoft, has raised $100 million Series E funding that values it at $22.5 billion, up from a $20 billion valuation in September.

This investment, made by Tiger Global who also led its most previous round was first reported by The Information. A Stripe spokesperson said the funding will be used for growth areas including international expansion with Stripe CEO Patrick Collison also announcing on Twitter of a new board member, former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene.

I haven't said much in the past about @Stripe's board. We're fortunate to add Diane Greene, our fourth outside director today. (All four have to put up with myself and John, for six in total.) — Patrick Collison (@patrickc) 29 January 201…

iRobot Unveils Robot Lawn Mover

Massachusetts based iRobot, the company behind the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner and Braava line of robot mops has unveiled a new product, this time a robot lawn mover it says is kit with "state-of-the-art mapping and navigation technologies" that enables high-performance and high-quality mowing.

The new robot named Terra is capable of mapping its course after being schooled, with the use of wireless beacons users get to place around their yard and then drive the robot once around the perimeter. Once this is done, the robot charts its course, navigating the yard while remembering where it needs to cover. If its battery runs low, it will return to its base to recharge and then re-commence mowing until the yard handed to it is completely mowed.




Users can also make use of the iRobot Home App to customize their robot, with features like adjusting the height at which the grass will be cut or controlling precisely when the lawn is cut - day or night - available. There are already s…

Waymo Met With Over 12 Auto Companies For Driverless Tech Partnership : Bloomberg

According to a Bloomberg report, Alphabet's Waymo met with over 12 auto companies including Volvo in 2016, seeking manufacturing partners for its self-driving technology, citing an internal document  unsealed in court this week.

The memo, marked "highly confidential", was penned on August 18 2016, the day a report that Uber was partnering with Volvo and that it had acquired former Waymo engineer Anthony Lewandowski's Otto was made by Bloomberg.


"Did we try to talk to Volvo? Yes. We have met with over a dozen OEMs this year, including Volvo," Waymo said in the memo. "We were surprised they wanted to partner with Uber given the importance they place on safety, and developing this technology safely. However, the deal with Uber is non-exclusive for both parties."

This statement indicates pursuit of auto manufacturing partners by Waymo even before it spun out as a standalone unit in December 2016. As of current, Waymo has partnerships with Fiat Chrysl…

Argo AI Secures Permit To Test Self-Driving Vehicles In California

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh based self-driving company backed with huge funding from automaker Ford, has secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in the state of California. The permit, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ,is for two drivers and one vehicle and marks for the fifth location Argo AI is looking to test its self-driving vehicles.

The company currently tests its autonomous vehicle technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Miami with testing in Washington, D.C. also starting soon. Argo AI now joins sixty other companies with permits to self-driving vehicles (but with a driver) in the state of California.


They include Baidu, Zoox, GM Cruise, Faraday Future, Drive.ai, Intel, SF Motors, TuSimple, Apple, Samsung, Nuro, Aurora, Udacity, Nvidia, Valeo, Pony.AI, Lyft, Waymo, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Bosch, Tesla, Delphi Automotive and Qualcomm. Notably missing from the list is Uber which currently doesn't have a permit to self-driving vehicles in…

Health Insurance Startup Clover Health Raises $500 Million

Despite reports of missed financials and difficulties navigating a slow-moving and challenging insurance industry, San Francisco based health insurance startup Clover Health has announced new funding, pegged at $500 million by TechCrunch. The round is led by existing investor Greenoaks Capital, an SF based VC firm that counts Oyo Rooms, Brex, Sonder, Discord and Robinhood among its bets.

The valuation for this round is not disclosed, but for hint, Clover Health was last valued at $1.2 billion when it raised $130 million Series D funding also led by Greenoaks Capital in 2017. The San Francisco based company also counts the likes of Alphabet's GV, Spark Capital, Sequoia Capital, First Round Capital, Floodgate, Refactor Capital, Social Capital and Nexus Venture Partners as investors.


Clover, with over $900 million in funding (this round included) now stands as one of the most funded startups in the healthcare space. Even with this, the company has struggled in the past to decrease l…

Acorns Raises $105 Million Series E At $860 Million Valuation

Acorns, an Irvine based fintech company that allows individuals round up purchases and automatically invest the change in exchange-traded funds through a mobile app, has raised $105 million series E funding that values it at $860 million, according to its statement.

Investors in this round include NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures who led the round along with TPG, DST Global, Michael Dell's MSD Capital, BlackRock and Bain Capital Ventures. The company has now raised some $207 million in total according to Crunchbase, with its $860 million valuation placing it in a high rank among global fintech companies.


In November, We reported of Acorns being in discussions for funding at a $700 million valuation. This round confirms that, although it comes at a higher valuation for the company. Acorns, which has over 4.5 million registered accounts is also entering into a partnership for editorial content and events with NBCUniversal owned CNBC as part of the company's investment. NBC is …

Apple Kicks Off 'Entrepreneur Camp' - A Two Week Hands On Experience For Female App Creators

Apple has kicked off the inaugural session of 'Entrepreneur Camp', a two-week hands on technology lab where it says participants would work one-on-one with Apple engineers and experts to accelerate their apps. Eleven female-founded app development companies are participating in this session which will involve works on design, technology, App Store marketing and guidance and support from an Apple Developer Relations representative.

Apple says the program's curriculum will will harness several of its tech, including optimizing for the custom A12 Bionic chip, integrating core ML and building new experiences with ARKit. Each participating startup is also receiving two tickets to Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and complementary membership to the Apple Developer program for a year.


Cupertino based Apple says developers have earned some $120 billion since the 2008 launch of the Apple App Store, with over a quarter of that in the past year alone. This signifies stea…

BMW, Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover Back Roadside Assistance Startup Urgently's $21 Million Series B Round

Virginia based roadside assistance startup Urgently has raised $21 million Series B funding from several investors including Porsche Ventures, BMW i Ventures and Jaguar Land Rover's VC fund InMotion Ventures.

Existing investors also participated in the round which Urgently says was oversubscribed. BMW has also selected Urgently for collaboration with the BMW Assist roadside assistance service as the vendor partner to offer roadside assistance services to owners of its vehicles in the U.S.


Urgently works similar to Uber and Lyft, with users able to request for nearby roadside assistance services and get charged within the app. It's available in several cities spanning all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C and also Puerto Rico. The company boasts 55,000 service vehicles registered on its platform that provide services like fuel delivery, towing, jump start, flat tire replacement and car lockout solutions according to its website.

"We look forward to continuing to innovate…

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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…