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Showing posts from March, 2019

Daimler Urges EU Regulators To Investigate Nokia Patents

German automaker Daimler has filed a complaint to European Union antitrust regulators concerning Nokia patents in the field of car communications. This move highlights what can be termed as growing tensions between tech companies and auto companies concerning use of essential technologies.

In this age of burgeoning automobile fields like ride-hailing and driverless vehicles, Auto companies and tech companies now work more closer than never, developing technologies to help both parties keep pace. To cite a few cases: As of recent, Volkswagen partnered with AWS, Toyota and Nvidia reached a deal to collaborate on driverless vehicles, Hyundai invested $300 million in Ola Cabs, Daimler -- of importance here -- acquired a majority stake in Virginia based self-driving company Torc Robotics.


“We want clarification on how essential patents for telecommunications standards are to be licensed in the automotive industry,” Daimler said in a statement on Saturday. “Fair and non-discriminatory acce…

Apple Top Chip Designer Departs

According to CNET, a top Apple semiconductor engineer, Gerard Williams III, who has led the company's development of every processor core from the A7 to the A12x, departed the company last month after a nine year stint. This departure comes as Apple boosts efforts to create more of its components and reduce dependence on external suppliers.

The company's latest spat with Qualcomm might be a reason for this. Many phone manufacturers rely on processors made by Qualcomm. Manufacturing its own components gives Apple more control over its own devices and differentiates it from rivals. The company may also be doing this to keep up with competition from the likes of Apple and Huawei who manufacture the bulk of its own modem chips.


Williams' departure might be a notable loss for Apple where he's listed as an inventor for more than 60 of its patents.  Before joining Apple in 2010, he held positions at chip companies Intel, Texas Instruments and ARM.



TransferWise Reportedly Raising $300 Million At $4 Billion Valuation

TransferWise - a U.K. payments startup valued at $1.6 billion from a previous round - is reportedly raising $300 million in new funding at a $4 billion valuation. Reuters reports this, citing people familiar with the matter. A $4 billion valuation would set TransferWise as the top-most valued fintech in Europe, surpassing N26's $2.7 billion valuation from a January round.

Reuters says the latest fundraising round for TransferWise is being organised by Goldman Sachs. TransferWise has already raised some $480 million in debt and equity funding according to Crunchbase data. Investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, Sapphire Ventures, Virgin Group, Baillie Gifford, JP Morgan, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners) and LHV Ventures.


According to its website, TransferWise currently moves over $4 billion a month and employs more than 1,400 people across 11 offices globally. The company booked £117 million pounds ($152.6 million) in revenue and $12.4 million in profit for the 1…

1stdibs Raises $76 Million

1stdibs - a marketplace for luxury goods and accessories like jewelry, furnishings, fine arts and vintage clothing - has raised $76 million in Series D funding led by funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from luxury goods holding company Groupe Artémis, former Alibaba executive Michael Zeisser, and Allen & Company.

1stdibs says it plans to use the investment to boost its core business, grow other categories, expand into international markets and make strategic acquisitions. Including this round, 1stdibs - which had $250 million in sales last year - has raised $170 million in equity funding. Other investors in the company include Index Ventures, Spark Capital, and Benchmark.


Founded in 2001, 1stdibs currently works with more than 4,200 dealers from 43 countries. The company switched to a main e-commerce model in 2013 and has seen increased sales since then. 1stdibs is currently led by David Rosenblatt, the former CEO of DoubleClick, an online advertising c…

Toast Raises $250 Million At $2.7 Billion Valuation

Toast - a Boston based restaurant management startup - has raised $250 million Series E funding led by TCV and Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners. This comes on the heels of a $115 million round in July 2018 that valued the company at $1.4 billion. That valuation has nearly doubled with this round to $2.7 billion.

Toast has now raised some $500 million in total, according to Crunchbase data. Other notable backers include T. Rowe Price, Lead Edge Capital, Eight Roads Ventures and Generation Investment Management. The 2013 founded startup has seen some 148% growth in revenues, according to CFO Tim Barash in a statement to TechCrunch.


Toast joins other startups like Rent the Runway, Airwallex, Casper, PayIt, Tarana Wireless, and Doctolib that have raised huge funding recently. According to TechCrunch's post, Toast has committed some $1 billion over the next five years into R&D aimed at building more hardware and software.

TCV …

Apple Discontinues AirPower Wireless Charging Mat

Apple has announced it's discontinuing the AirPower wireless charging mat that it unveiled in 2017 on the same day it revealed the iPhone X. This is rare retreat for Apple which made the AirPower mat with intention to wirelessly charge up to three Apple devices at a time. Apple is not known to cancel already announced devices, making this a kind of surprising one.

Apple said it concluded that the AirPower mat “will not achieve our high standards”, leading to its shutter. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch,” Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, said in a statement. “We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”


Just recently, Apple released a new version of the AirPods with support for a wireless charging case. This led to speculations that an accompanying wireless charging mat could be in the works. Apple news focused website Daring Fireball previou…

Daimler Acquires Majority Stake In Torc Robotics

Daimler Trucks has reached a deal to acquire a majority stake in Torc Robotics - a Blacksburg, Virginia based self-driving company founded in 2005 - for an undisclosed sum. Both parties will join forces to work on commercialisation of automated trucks on U.S. roads. Torc's team will collaborate with Daimler Trucks' developers, particularly its R&D team in the state of Oregon for this.

Torc will continue to develop the Asimov automated driving software it's known for at its Virginia facility. It'll still remain a separate entity maintaining its name, team, facilities and existing customers in the state of Virginia. The partnership with Daimler will enable it significantly expand its team and service its customer base in other markets, a press release noted.


Torc Robotics with around 100 employees currently offers an automated driving software solution that's used in self-driving cars and transit vehicles. The company also provides self-driving technology for ar…

A16Z Reportedly Leading $300 Million Round For Carta

On the heels of an $80 million raise that valued the company at $800 million, Carta - a startup that lets founders, investors and employees manage investments and stakes in private companies - is said to be raising $300 million in new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Goldman Sachs.

The report comes from The Information, which says Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) is leading the round with a $100 million investment. Carta will be valued at $1.8 billion with this round, the tech news site also said. Such valuation would imply a new addition to the unicorn club, one that recently welcomed the likes of Airwallex, Casper and Rent the Runway, with China's Mobvoi also gearing for that.


Carta - which manages billions of dollars in equity for over 10,000 private companies including Slack, Flexport and Coinbase - has already raised nearly $150 million in funding. Its backers include Menlo Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Tr…

The New BMW 1 Series Faces Final Tests In France

The new BMW 1 Series is currently under test at a BMW testing centre in Miramas, Southern France. This would mark the final test for the vehicle before it heads to the markets. Extensive tests will be made on camouflaged pre-series versions of the new vehicle, which BMW says is a result of five years of "intensive" development work.

The new BMW 1 Series will come with features like:
A newly developed 4-cylinder engineMore legroom / interior spaceIncreased luggage compartment capacity (from 360 litres to 380 litres)ARB technology (a wheel slip control system), a feature only previously available on the BMW i3BMW front-wheel drive architecture.
The new vehicle will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show holding from 22 November - 2 December. Have more looks at the upcoming vehicle in the pictures below:








PayIt Raises More Than $100 Million From Insight Partners

PayIt, a Kansas City, Missouri fintech known for its payments platform targeted at public services, has raised more than $100 million in funding from New York-based VC firm Insight Partners. The company had previously raised some $4.5 million prior to this round, according to Crunchbase data.

Investors include Missouri Technology Corporation, KCRise Fund, Royal Street Ventures, Weatherford Partners, Advantage Capital and Zego CEO Adam Blake. PayIt says the new funding will allow it to expand its reach and product capabilities. PayIt partners with the three levels of government: state, local and federal, enabling a digital payments platform for public services.


"As consumers, we increasingly expect world-class mobile experiences in everything we do, from booking hotel rooms to getting rides to ordering groceries," Insight Partners Managing Director Ryan Hinkle said in a statement. "PayIt brings this type of world-class experience to their government partners, saving tim…

Palantir Lands $800 Million Contract With U.S. Army

Palantir has landed a contract with the U.S. Army to deploy a complex battlefield intelligence system for soldiers, The Washington Post reports. The contract is potentially worth over $800 million, the paper noted. According to industry experts, this will mark the first time the U.S. government had sought the services of a Silicon Valley software company to lead a noteworthy defense program with a dedicated line of funding from the U.S. Congress.

According to the Post, The U.S Army chose Palantir and defense contractor Raytheon to contend for the next phase of Distributed Common Ground System (or DCGS-A, for Army), a software that lets its users fetch and analyze information about enemy movements, weather, and terrain to generate real-time reports and detailed maps.


Critics within the Army and Congress are said to have laid complaints for years about the DCGS-A costing too much while not delivering the capabilities and intelligence required by soldiers, leading the U.S. Army to tap P…

Daimler And Geely Form Joint Venture For Electric Vehicles

Daimler and Chinese auto manufacturer Geely has entered a joint venture to "own, operate and further develop smart, the pioneer of small urban vehicles". Daimler and Geely will assemble EV models at a new electric car factory to be built in China, with sales aimed to begin by 2022.

This joint venture comes on the heels of another collaboration by automakers Toyota, Hino, Honda and Softbank. The new joint venture will be headed by six executives: three each from Daimler and Geely. Geely chairman Li Shufu and CEO An Conghui will be among the six.


The new vehicles to be produced by the joint venture will be styled by Mercedes-Benz while Geely provides the engineering facilities. Prior to launch of new models from 2022, Daimler will continue the production of its "smart vehicles" at its Hambach plant in France and at Novo Mesto, Slovenia.

The German auto brand is investing €500 million in the Hambach plant for this effort.




More on Autonomy:
Volkswagen Taps AWS For Cloud…

Softbank, Toyota, Honda And Hino Collaborate

Monet - a joint venture between Softbank and Toyota - has entered into a partnership with Japanese manufacturer Hino Motors and Honda. Hino and Honda will each invest 249.95 million yen ($2.6 million) for stakes of 10%. This partnership involves Monet harnessing data Hino collects from its trucks and buses and that of Honda's.

"Through this collaboration with Monet, Honda hopes to realize the more efficient promotion of acquiring users and social acceptance of mobility services, various experimental projects, and public relations activities for necessary regulatory changes. Honda wants to contribute to the revitalization of the mobility service industry in Japan and solve traffic-related problems facing Japanese society." Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement.


Softbank, Toyota and Honda have made several efforts in the automobile 'mobility' space. Toyota recently collaborated with Nvidia to develop self-driving vehicles. Honda and Softbank are investors…

Casper Reportedly Valued At $1.1 Billion With New Funding

Casper - the New York based startup known for its line of direct-to-consumer sold mattresses and other sleep items - has been valued at $1.1 billion with $100 million in new funding, according to Bloomberg. The report says Casper plans to officially announce the funding soon and that it'll be geared towards international expansion and growth of its physical retail locations.

Casper has already raised some $240 million: $13.1 million Series A funding, $55 million Series B funding and $170 million Series C funding. Investors include Target, rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Lerer Hippeau, Norwest Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), SV Angel, Slow Ventures, and celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine, and Scooter Braun.


According to Bloomberg, Casper surpassed $400 million in revenue last year. The company is part of a burgeoning list of startups that sell niche items directly to consumers mostly online while also operating physical sto…

Mobvoi Reportedly Seeking $100 Million Funding At $1 Billion Valuation

Mobvoi - A Chinese AI and smartwatch startup known for its development of in-house voice search technologies - is close to securing funding at a $1 billion valuation, Bloomberg reports. It says Mobvoi is seeking to raise $100 million ahead of planed IPO on a proposed board for tech companies in Shanghai.

A $1 billion valuation would imply a new addition to the unicorn club from the Chinese region. Mobvoi has already raised nearly $250 million according to Crunchbase data, from investors including Google, Sequoia Capital China, ZhenFund and Volkswagen. Mobvoi has a noteworthy link with Google, having marked as the tech giant's first direct investment in China after shuttering its search engine in the country in 2010.


Mobvoi was founded in 2012 by ex-Googlers and also counts Google as a partner. Google collaborated with the company in 2015 to get Android Wear into the Chinese market. Beijing based Mobvoi develops vice search technologies that it applies in products like the Chumenw…

Volkswagen Taps AWS For Cloud Efforts

Amazon Web Services continues to be on a tear, with Pinterest's recent IPO prospectus revealing a commitment to spend $750 million on AWS through 2023. Now automaker Volkswagen has tapped AWS to developed what it calls the "Volkswagen Industrial Cloud". The agreement is a multi-year one that'll involve combination of data of machines, systems and plants from all Volkswagen's 122 facilities.

Volkswagen is adopting a portfolio of AWS services including internet of Things (IoT), machine learning analytics and compute services for this effort. The company says the platform it aims to create will "standardize and simplify" exchange of data between its automotive systems and plants. Such platform will aid in deployment of technologies like robotics and analysis of production processes. The platform Volkswagen is creating will also be made open to other industrial companies.


“Volkswagen's and AWS's collaboration will have a profound impact on efficien…

McDonald's Acquires Dynamic Yield

Popular restaurant chain McDonald's has reached a deal to acquire Dynamic Yield, a New York and Tel Aviv based 'personalization' startup. McDonald's says it will utilize Dynamic Yield's technology - which applies machine learning for product and content recommendations - to "provide an even more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items."

Dynamic Yield's tech will also enable it instantly suggest and display additional items to customers' orders based on their selections. This will make McDonalds one of the first to integrate "decision technology" into point of sale at brick and mortar solutions. The restaurant chain has already tested this technology in several U.S. restaurants last year.


Once the Dynamic Yield acquisition closes, McDonalds says it'll begin to roll out this technology in its Driv…

UPS Partners With Matternet For Medical Drone Deliveries

UPS has partnered with drone startup Matternet to deliver medical samples via unmanned drones. Deliveries will take place at the hospital and campus of WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina. Test flights have already taken place at the campus in August 2018 as part of a pilot program set up by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has set up a three-year long program that aims to test practical applications of drones by working with private companies and local governments. UPS will make use of Matternet's M2 quadcopter - one powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, capable of ferrying medical payloads weighing up to about 5 lbs. over distances of up to 12.5 miles. - for the deliveries.


The quadcopter will fly through a pre-determined path - while monitored by a specially trained pilot - to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab. The three parties involved - UPS, Matternet, and WakeMed - "will use the learnings to consider how …

Airwallex Raises $100 Million DST Global Led Series C

Airwallex - a facilitator for cross-border payments - has raised  $100 million Series C funding led by DST Global, hitting a $1 billion valuation in the process. Existing investors including Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Horizons Ventures, Sequoia Capital China, Gobi Partners and Square Peg Capital also participated in this round.

Australian founded Airwallex has now raised more than $200 million in total funding, just three years after its start. The company says it'll deploy the new capital to expand its suite of payments products and to support expansion into the US, UK, and Southeast Asia. It'll also further product development with this new funding.


Airwallex notably provides a solution for businesses to process international transactions. Customers can create accounts on Airwallex with local bank details and pay for services globally. Companies like JD.com, Tencent, MasterCard and Ctrip make use of Airwallex to process payments.

“We started Airwallex because we knew there…

Apple Unveils Credit Card

Apple has unveiled the Apple Card, a new type of credit card that's built into the Apple Wallet app on the iPhone, offering customers a similar experience to Apple Pay and the ability to manage their cards right from the smartphone. There'll also be a physical titanium card, but one without a credit card number, CVV, signature or expiration date.

The Apple Card carries no fees and also "interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry" according to Apple. It says the card will offer the "flexibility to schedule more frequent payments" and show a range of payment options and calculate the interest cost on various payment amounts in real-time.


One unique feature of the Apple Card is privacy and security, with a unique card number created and stored on a microprocessor chip on the iPhone for each card. Every transaction will have to be authorized with Face ID or Touch ID and a one-time unique dynamic security code. Users of the Apple Card will be also…

Apple Debuts New TV Subscription Service

Along with a new games subscription service and news subscription service, Apple has premiered a new video subscription service - Apple TV+ - that'll feature new content from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon and more. Exclusive shows, movies, and documentaries are what users will be getting from the new service, signaling more competition for the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

This comes on the heels of YouTube reportedly canceling plans for all its high-end Hollywood dramas and comedies, to focus on music and gaming. In addition, Apple has also unveiled a new Apple TV app and new channels that'll launch in May. Users are now able to subscribe to new Apple TV channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime, and pay for only the services they want with the new version.



The new app will offer suggestions for movies and shows from more than 150 video streaming apps, including Hulu, Amazon Prime, and…

Apple Debuts New News Subscription Service

Apple has unveiled a new news subscription service - Apple News+ - that features more than 300 popular magazines, newspapers, and digital publishers. They include The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Magazine, People, Vanity Fair, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, theSlimm, Vox, Extra Crunch from TechCrunch, Grub Street, ELLE and more.

The new news subscription service is optimized for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, showcasing magazines "...in richly designed layouts, featuring animated covers, vivid photography and bold typography", according to Apple. It'll be available in the U.S. and Canada.



Apple will keep supporting the free Apple News service the US, Canada, UK and Australia. The company has also unveiled a game subscription service that'll debut on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV later this year.



Apple Unveils Game Subscription Service

Apple has unveiled a game subscription service - dubbed Apple Arcade - that it says will feature more than 100 new and exclusive games, including original titles from popular game creators Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Ken Wong at launch. The new games subscription service will focus on paid games, and feature other games from the likes of Cartoon Network, Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Giant Squid, Konami, Lego, Snowman, Finji and more.

To make it simple, Apple Arcade will be sort of a Spotify for games, with users able to access several paid games on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV for a monthly fee. That entails players getting the opportunity to try various paid games without breaking bank. Apple says every game available on the upcoming service will be playable offline, with users able to pick up where they left off in a game, even if they switch to other Apple devices. The company says new games will be added regularly to the service.



Apple Arcade will launch in…

YouTube Said To Cancel Plans For Scripted Shows

According to a Bloomberg report, YouTube has axed plans for high-end Hollywood dramas and comedies, bowing out of competition with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. The report says canceled shows include sci-fi drama Origin and comedy Overthinking with Kat & June, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

A pull-back likely reflects high expenses for scripted shows. Even for a tech giant for YouTube parent Google, original shows could cost much amid competition from video streaming leader Netflix and Amazon which have spent billions of dollars on content production and acquisition. In 2018 alone, Netflix spent $8 billion on content and is expected to spend up to $15 billion this year.


Apple is also getting into the video streaming space, with a service expected for debut soon. It'll reportedly charge $10 per month for access to channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz. According to Bloomberg's report, YouTube concluded its money is better invested in music and gaming after …

Tarana Raises $60 Million From Khosla Ventures And EchoStar

Tarana Wireless - a Santa Clara, California based company focused on wireless network access services - has announced $60 million in new funding from Khosla Ventures and satellite communications giant EchoStar. With this round, Tarana has now raised nearly $200 million in total funding.

As part of the round, EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen, Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul and OneWeb chairman Greg Wyler are joining Tarana's board. This comes on the heels of former EchoStar EVP Kranti Kilaru joining Tarana Wireless as president.


Tarana currently employs some 165 people and aims to grow its team by 35 employees by mid-year. “We are excited to complete this round of financing, which allows us to finish our product development efforts and start commercial trials with a number of tier 1 operators who are now making plans for that phase.” COO Sergiu Nedevshi said in a statement.

Other investors in Tarana include AT&T, Blum Capital, 1010 Holdings and Deutsche Telekom. The valuatio…

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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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…