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Showing posts from February, 2019

BMW's Two-Man Bobsled Prototype Passes Test Rides

A two-man bobsled being developed by BMW in preparation for the 2019/2020 Bobsleigh World Cup has hit past test rides, with "promising results" as stated by BMW. It says the sled concept - one it's not particularly known for, being focused on the automobile market - developed using computer simulations and tested at the BMW Aerodynamic and Research Center has proven successful.

Its development phase lasted ten months, with double bobsled Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich, world champion Johannes Lochner and junior world champion Christoph Hafer on the steering handles. According to BMW, a measuring system provided by its Motorsport division and modified for bobsleds was responsible for the tests.


While many of us might not be familiar with bobsledding, it's a really interesting sport to catch fun with. Bobsledding is very much present at the Winter Olympic Games that holds every four years from its last interval. The next Winter Olympics will be holding in 2022, …

Uber, Lyft Reportedly Plan To Offer Drivers Shares In IPOs

According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber and Lyft are planning to offer some drivers cash bonuses to purchase stock in their upcoming initial public offerings, a move that'll enable access to two of the hottest IPOs expected to take place this year. The paper says the companies' longest-serving drivers will be getting cash awards, with an option to put it towards purchase of shares in the IPOs.

It says Uber is planning bonuses for a “significant” portion of its 3 million drivers, while Lyft plans to issue $1,000 bonuses to drivers who have completed at least 10,000 rides on its platform, and as much as $10,000 to those who have done 20,000 rides. Such statistics indicates that only a minority of Lyft drivers would be eligible for the bonuses.


In the past, Uber has been reported to be mulling issuing shares to its driver, while being met with resistance from regulators because its drivers are classed as contractors rather than employees. The San Francisco based company - whi…

Fitbit Health Unit To Hit $100 Million In 2019 Revenue

At a recent earnings conference call, James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit - the popular wearables brand that recently launched a new tracker available via corporate plans - said that the company's Health Solutions division, which focuses on healthcare providers and enterprises, will deliver $100 million in 2019 revenue.

This is just two years after the division was launched to tap into a new market amid falling sales of consumer devices. Fitbit also says it plans to add more software and services and launch a paid premium service later this year. "We believe there is a significant opportunity to leverage investments that we make in our consumer-facing business to drive B2B revenue to our Fitbit Health Solutions business..." CEO James Park said.


"...We are steadily building momentum in our FHS (Fitbit Health Solutions) business. More than 6.8 million Fitbit users including employees of several Fortune 500 companies have connected their data into the (its) popul…

Mike Cagney's Figure Raises $65 Million Series B Round

Figure - a startup led by Mike Cagney, a co-founder and former CEO of $4.3 billion valued online lender SoFi - has raised $65 million in Series B funding, boosting its total raised to $120 million in just 2 years of operation. This round values the company at $365 million - according to Bloomberg, about double its previous valuation.

RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global led the round, with participation from the likes of Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek, DCM, DCG and Ribbit Capital. With Mike Cagney continuing in the online lending industry, Figure makes home equity loans, which it says it does in as little as five days via blockchain technology.


The company says other lenders plan to make use of its in-house blockchain tech to begin providing loans by mid-2019. In addition to home equity loans, Figure also operates Figure Home Advantage (FHA), a solution that enables customers reverse their mortgages. This is done by selling their homes to Figure, getting cash up front and then payi…

Samsung Kicks Off Mass Production Of 512GB Storage Chip

Samsung has announced that it has begun mass production of a 512-gigabyte (GB) embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) 3.0 chip for mobile devices, one it says delivers twice the speed of the preceding eUFS 2.1 version. The company says the new storage solution is 20 times faster than a conventional microSD card, with:
Sequential read speed of 2100 MB/sSequential write speed of 410MB/sRandom Read Speed of 63,000 IOPS andRandom write speed of 68,000 IOPS

For example, Samsung says it successfully transferred a 3.7GB full HD movie file from a mobile device to a PC - using the 512GB eUFS 3.0 - in just three seconds, a non-conventional speed. The Korean tech giant also plans to debut a 128 GB version of the storage chip in soon time, with 1TB and 256GB versions to come in the second half of this year.

In recent times, Samsung has also caught the eyes of many with the debut of its 1 terabyte (TB) storage chip - a storage capacity previously unheard of for smartphones, and a foldable smartph…

Affirm Brings Its Payment Plan To Walmart

Affirm, the popular San Francisco based startup - valued at nearly $2 billion - known for its installment payment plans that enable consumers purchase goods at various online stores at full price, to pay later in 3, 6, or 12 monthly installments - has brought its payments option to a very notable retailer, Walmart.

Partnering with the largest retailer in the U.S., shoppers will now get the option of using Affirm to pay for purchases at Walmart's nearly 4,000 retail centers in the U.S. and also Walmart.com, its Amazon competing e-commerce site. Customers will first check eligibility through Affirm's site before they head into a Walmart store or do it while they shop, using their mobile devices or desktops.


Affirm will be available as a payment option on Walmart purchases ranging from $150 to $2,000, But select items including groceries, alcohol, tobacco, personal care and pharmacy won't have the payment option.

“Walmart serves millions and has become a leader in the retail…

FedEx Unveils Self-Driving Delivery Robot

Following the likes of Postmates and Amazon, FedEx has unveiled its own autonomous delivery robot - the FedEx SameDay Bot, one the company says is designed to help retailers make same day and last-mile deliveries. The courier delivery giant has partnered with companies like Lowe's, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, AutoZone and Walmart for autonomous deliveries via the new robot.

The FedEx SameDay Bot was developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research, a firm led by Dean Kamen, an engineer popularly known for his invention of the Segway and the iBot electric wheelchair.



“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Kamen said in a press statement. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible …

Facebook To Usher In 'Clear History' Tool This Year

Facebook will be debuting a 'clear history' tool this year, its Chief Financial Officer David Wehner told the crowd at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. CNBC first reported of Wehner's comments. Wehner noted that the tool, first promised in 2018, will impact Facebook's ability to target advertisements.

"Broadly, [clear history is] going to give us some headwinds in terms of being able to target as effectively as before," He said at the conference. Facebook first announced this feature at its F8 developer conference in May 2018, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating that the feature would "be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook -- what you've clicked on, websites you've visited, and so on."


"Once we roll out this update, you'll be able to see information about the apps and websites you've interacted with, and you'll be able to clear this information from your account," Zuc…

Walmart Acquires Israeli Startup Aspectiva

Walmart has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli startup that develops solutions that analyse consumers' product reviews to assist online shoppers in making purchase decisions. The Israeli startup will be joining Store N° 8, an incubator set up by Walmart in 2017 to develop e-commerce solutions.

It'll continue to operate from its offices in Tel Aviv while housed under Walmart. Financial terms of Walmart's acquisition were not disclosed. The U.S. retailer says Aspectiva's tech will "further enhance the (its) end-to-end shopping experience".


This acquisition marks as Walmart's latest scheme with Israel based tech companies, having recently invested in Israeli cyber-security company Team8 and also committed $250 million for a joint venture with Israel based interactive video content developer Eko.

“Our team is extremely excited to be joining Store N° 8 and be part of Walmart’s most recent investment in Israel. Store N° 8’s record of innovation and of developing c…

Amazon Adds Ex PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi To Board

Amazon has named Indra Nooyi - the former CEO of beverage giant PepsiCo who led the company for 12 years, before stepping down in October 2018 - to its board. This comes shortly after the company added Starbucks COO and former Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer to its board. Amazon's board is now 11 member strong, including CEO Jeff Bezos.

Nooyi's appointment ups the number of women on the company's board to five, almost equal to the number of male members - 6, after the Seattle based company faced criticism in the past for its male-dominated leadership. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, staying at the company for over two decades. In addition to now Amazon, she also serves on the boards of oilfield services giant Schlumberger, PepsiCo owned Sandora and non-profits Catalyst Inc and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Nooyi will serve as a member of the Amazon board's audit committee, the Seattle based e-commerce giant said in a filing.




More on Amazon :
Amazon Says O…

Caesars Takes Stake In And Partners With DraftKings

Caesars - the Nevada based gaming corporation known for its many casinos - has partnered with DraftKings, a legal sports betting startup valued at $1.5 billion, taking an undisclosed stake in the company and agreeing to offer market access for its online gaming products. DraftKings will now promote Caesars Entertainment as an official casino resort partner in states where the companies will collaborate in.

Under the new agreement, Caesars will get a cut of DraftKings' gambling revenue in these states, while opening a new avenue for the company - a top leader in legal online sports betting - to expand reach. With this partnership, DraftKings should now be able to offer non-sports gambling like slots, roulette and online poker in states in the US that allow it.


"This alliance is the latest initiative by Caesars to capitalize on our database, generate a new revenue stream in a growth market and raise our profile in sports, in part by creating new sports-themed guest experiences…

Samsung Debuts Two New Mid-Range Phones

Samsung has unveiled to new mid-range Galaxy A smartphones - the Galaxy A50 and A30 - with a focus on the camera, among other specs. The new debuts are two among many smartphones debuted at the on-going Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. Features of the new smartphones are shown below :

Galaxy A50
6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge)4GB / 6 GB RAM64GB / 128 GB Internal StorageMicro SD (up to 512GB) support4,000 mAh batteryQuad 2.3GHz + Quad 1.7GHz processor25 MP main cameraFast charging technologySamsung Pay supportBixby support3D Glasstic designOn-screen fingerprint


Galaxy A30
6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge)3GB / 4GB RAM32GB / 64 GB Internal StorageMicro SD (up to 512GB) support4,000 mAh batteryDual 1.8GHz + Hexa 1.6GHz processor16MP main cameraFast charging technologySamsung Pay support3D Glasstic designFingerprint


The A50 comes in a smooth curved shape and slim design, available in Black, White, Blue and Coral colors. Pricing and availability information…

LG Debuts A Smartphone That Can Be Unlocked By Users' Veins

It seems facial and voice recognition and the use of fingerprint for smartphone security is not enough, If you feel it is, then LG has decided otherwise, debuting a new smartphone - the G8 - that can be unlocked via the user's veins, yes the user's veins. The G8 counts as the first known smartphone with advanced palm vein authentication, which LG says is made possible by the combination of a time-of-flight camera and infrared sensors.

LG's Hand ID - as named - identifies smartphone owners by recognizing the shape, thickness and other individual characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands. The G8 also uses facial and fingerprint recognition for those who want to use it. Other features of the new smartphone include :


A Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor6.1-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio)6GB RAM / 128GB memorymicroSD (up to 2TB) supportAndroid 9.0 Pie OS3500mAh battery3G / 4G LTE-A network supportHand ID / Face Unlock / Fingerprint Sensor16MP Super Wi…

LG Debuts First 5G Smartphone

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), LG has debuted the V50 Thin Q smartphone, an updated version of the V40 released in 2018, with support for 5G network, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, a larger 4,000 mAh battery and a new heat dissipation system. In anticipation for the phone's debut, LG is partnering with 10 major carriers in markets where 5G service will launch this year, including the US, Australia, South Korea and a number of European countries.

Features of the LG V50 Thin Q include :
6.4-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio)6GB RAM / 128GB memorymicroSD (up to 2TB) supportAndroid 9.0 Pie OS3G / 4G LTE-A / 5G network support16MP Super Wide / 12MP Standard rear camera8MP Standard / 5MP Wide front camera183g weightUSB Type-C (USB 3.1 Compatible) / Bluetooth 5 / NFC / Wi-Fi 802.11 connectivityWater and dust resistanceGoogle Lens / Google AssistantFace RecognitionFingerprint sensorFM RadioFast-charging technology (Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0)DTS:X 3D surround soundFull…

Microsoft Debuts New Cloud-Powered Kinect Developer Kit

Microsoft has debuted a new PC peripheral based on the Kinect, an original Xbox 360 accessory for motion sensing so players could control games with their hands or body. The company is packaging its work on the Kinect into a new developer kit dubbed Azure Kinect that'll let developers build AI algorithms.

The new kit comes with several AI sensors - its core being a time-of-flight depth sensor developed for the new HoloLens mixed-reality headset, a high-definition RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array that'll enable development of computer vision and speech solutions with Microsoft Azure.


Microsoft cites an example of the Azure Kinect being applied in healthcare, with health-tech company Ocuvera building a solution to prevent patients from falling in hospitals. With the Azure Kinect, Microsoft says environmental precursors to a fall can be determined, allowing notified nurses to get to patients before they fall. Every year in the US, over 1 million hospital patients are…

Microsoft Debuts HoloLens 2

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft has unveiled the second version of its mixed-reality headset, the HoloLens 2, coming after the release of the first version 2016. As expected the new headset comes with enhanced features like:
More than double the field of view of the first HoloLensA new display systemA new time-of-flight depth sensorEye-tracking sensorsIris recognition for loginA new dial-in fit system (for comfort while wearing)Improved thermal managementA more balanced center of gravity, thanks to use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for putting on the device without readjusting



Features such as a holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight where maintained from the first version of the HoloLens. Coupled with mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides, the new HoloLens provides a broad range of uses built specially for the headset.

Microsoft has also arranged a partner…

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Nikola Raises $250 Million At A $3 Billion Valuation

Nikola, a formerly Utah but now Phoenix-based manufacturer of hydrogen-electric vehicles, has courted a $250 million Series D investment out of a targeted $1 billion raise. CNH Industrial, one of the world's largest capital goods companies, made the investment at a $3 billion pre-money valuation. The $250 million figure actually comprises of $100 million in cash and $150 million in services like product development, manufacturing engineering, and other forms of technical assistance that CNH will provide to Nikola.

CNH Industrial owns FPT Industrial, a leading manufacturer of powertrains for large vehicles, and Iveco, a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks. These two firms will provide strategic expertise for Nikola, which is known mainly for its hydrogen-electric (fuel cell) trucks. Iveco and FPT will provide engineering and manufacturing services to industrialize Nikola’s fuel-cell powered electric trucks, under the terms of CNH's investment. For example, Nikola has made pla…

Rivian Raises $1.3 Billion In Additional Funding

Not long after raising $500 million from Ford and an additional $350 million from Cox Automotive, electric car startup Rivian has announced $1.3 billion in new funding led by T. Rowe Price, with participation from BlackRock and existing investors Ford and Amazon. The additional investment is the fourth Rivian has raised this year, and comes a few months after Amazon announced it'll purchase 100,000 vehicles from the company as part of plans to make its delivery fleet run on renewable energy.

The additional investment brings the total raised by Rivian this year to a whooping $2.85 billion. In a statement, Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe praised the investment as demonstrating "confidence in our team, products, technology and strategy". With the investment, Rivian now stands as one of the top-most financed electric car upstarts in what seems like a crowded market.

Rivian plans to begin selling vehicles next year, which may explain the additional funding at the tail-end…

Apple Lowers Guidance For Fiscal 2019 First Quarter

Going by a recently released letter to investors by Apple CEO Tim Cook, The company has lowered revenue guidance for its fiscal 2019 first quarter which ended on the 29th of December, citing lower than expected iPhone sales in China and "emerging market challenges".

It now expects revenue of approximately $84 billion, a gross margin of approximately 38%, operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion, other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million and a tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items for this period.


In the letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook blames this on two key factors - "emerging market challenges" and lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, the latter which it says accounts for all of revenue shortfall to guidance and more than its entire year-over-year revenue decline. Cook noted that sales outside of the iPhone (Services, Mac, iPad, Wearables/Home/Accessories) combined grew almost 19% from last year.

Darktrace Could Be Heading For An IPO

Darktrace, a U.K. cybersecurity startup that was valued at $1.65 billion after raising funding last year, could be looking towards a public offering, indicated by a closeness to naming a chief financial officer, Bloomberg reports. Companies looking to go public typically appoint a CFO, usually of high-profile, to take on the role of spearheading the company's finances in preparation for a voyage on the public markets. Also, with $231 million in funding and a high valuation to go along, Darktrace seems like a company that's ready to hit the public markets, especially if it's found stability in its business model.

In an interview, Darktrace co-founder and co-CEO Poppy Gustafsson said the company added about 400 employees in the past year, and expects to keep growing at a similar rate. However, she also noted that Darktrace hasn't made a firm decision regarding debuting on the public markets, and said the company doesn't require additional investment for its expansio…

Brief: Dropbox Soars On Q4 Result

File hosting company Dropbox just released its financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2019, reporting $446 million in revenue, up 19% from the same period last year. For the entire year, Dropbox recorded $1.66 billion in revenue, up 19% year-over-year. In light of the results, Dropbox shares rose as much as 16% during trading on Thursday.

As of 2019 end, Dropbox had 14.3 million paying users, compared to 12.7 million as of the end of 2018. Average revenue per user amounted to $125, compared to roughly $120 in the previous year. As of 2019 end, Dropbox had $1.16 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, slightly more than $1.09 billion as of the end of 2018.

As for losses, Dropbox recorded $6.6 million in losses in 2019, down from $9.5 million in 2018.

Dropbox has also authorized up to $600 million in share repurchases, representing less than 7% of its market cap as of writing.





Intel Scoops Up Habana Labs For $2 Billion

Intel has announced it has acquired Habana Labs, an Israel-based startup that makes AI chips. The semiconductor giant is paying roughly $2 billion for Habana, one year after leading a $75 million Series B investment in the company. The acquisition represents another score for Habana co-founder and chairman Avigdor Willenz, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and led Galileo Technology (acquired for $2.7 billion by Marvell Technologies) and Annapurna Labs (acquired for $350 million by Amazon). Unsurprisingly, both companies were chip makers, crowning Willenz as a whizz in the chip-making sector with sequential successful exits.

Prior to this acquisition, Habana had raised $120 million in funding from investors including Intel Capital, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and WRV Capital. As of November last year (when it last raised funding), Tel Aviv-based Habana had just over 120 employees. The company was founded in 2016, and maintains only two offices globally, one…

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…

Uber And Hyundai Debut Flying Taxi Concept

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai and Uber unveiled a flying car concept that's aimed for use in the "Uber Elevate" initiative, an initiative that's targeted at aerial ridesharing with custom air taxis made by partners to enable that. Hyundai is the first automaker to join Uber Elevate, whose previous partners were all electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturers. Uber aims to launch an aerial ridesharing network by 2023, and has already partnered with seven aircraft makers to enable that.

Hyundai's new concept air taxi vehicle is dubbed "S-A1" and has specifications similar to that of previous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft unveiled by other Uber Elevate partners. It'll be 100% electric, be piloted initially but with plans to later make them autonomous, and is designed with four passenger seats to allow riders board and disembark easily. It's des…

Cloudflare Files For IPO

Not long after a previous report that said Cloudflare was eyeing a September IPO, the San Francisco-based CDN provider has filed for that with the SEC, meaning an IPO next month may just be happening. Cloudflare's S-1 filing comes a decade after its first funding. The company recorded $192.7 million in 2018 revenue, but with an $87.2 million net loss. This is up from $135 million revenue in 2017 and a $10.7 million net loss for the same period.

In the first half of this year, Cloudflare recorded $129.2 million in revenue, but still with losses of $36.8 million. Other key takes from its S-1 filing include:
$94.4 million sales and marketing spend in 2018, up 54% from $62 million in 2017$54.5 million R&D spend in 2018, compared to $33.7 million in 2017Roughly $125 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Q2 end (June 30, 2019)74,000 paying customers as of Q2 endTwo million total [free and paying] customers408 paying customers with annual billings of more than $100,000 (as of Q2…

Reddit Has Begun Tests For Live Video Streaming

As confirmed by Reddit to Wired, the widely called "front page of the internet" has begun tests for live video streaming, marking a significant moment for what has been majorly a text-only platform. In its 14 year history, Reddit has grown from an initial link-sharing site to a destination for online discussion, news aggregation and web content rating. Reddit is so popular and widely used that it's the 14th most visited website globally, according to Alexa data.

Allowing live streaming on its platform shows Reddit is really keen on a turnaround since co-founder Steve Huffman re-joined the company in 2015. With most major social media platforms currently supporting live streaming, it's obvious that it's somewhat necessary for a widely used platform to support live video. Reddit is known for being an internet property with boatloads of user engagement. With the addition of live video streaming, it could be looking towards a spike in both [an already large] user en…