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Showing posts from June, 2019

A Look At SpinLaunch

There are several big name space companies -- to name a few; SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Boeing -- that deliver payloads and satellites to space. Each of the aforementioned companies take different but quite similar approaches to launch payloads into space, the similarity being the use of vertical rockets. But there's one company -- named SpinLaunch -- working on a different way, this time looking to send objects to space using a catapult, yes you read that right.

Just how legit you may ask?,...as legit as being able to secure $40 million in funding from investors including Airbus, Kleiner Perkins and Alphabet, and also being able to secure a contract with the U.S. military. The contract recently secured from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is SpinLaunch's first ever. SpinLaunch, by early next year, aims to begin the first tests of firing catapults containing payloads at hyper-sonic speeds to launch objects into space.


The company earlier this year moved from Silicon Valley t…

WhatsApp Said To Poach Top Executive From WorldRemit

Facebook's WhatsApp has hired a top executive from WorldRemit, a U.K. money transfer startup valued at more than $900 million, with nearly $400 million in total funding. Reuters reported the hire, citing three persons 'familiar with the matter'. The top executive in particular is Alice Newton-Rex, WorldRemit's chief product officer, which Reuters reports will join WhatsApp's product team later this year.

According to one cited person familiar with the matter, Newton-Rex will not work on Facebook's recently unveiled digital currency, Libra, but will work on the main WhatsApp messaging service. WhatsApp - one of the world's largest messaging apps, with over 1 billion users -- has been expanding its team in Europe, including in London.


According to Newton-Rex's LinkedIn profile, she's been at WorldRemit for nearly five years, initially serving in two product roles before becoming chief product officer one year ago. Prior to WorldRemit, she had stints …

Microsoft Makes Bank On Adaptive's IPO

Adaptive Biotechnologies -- a commercial-stage life sciences company that's aiming to leverage the human immune system to diagnose and fight diseases -- recently debuted on the public markets, soaring roughly 140% from an initial $20 per share to $48.30 per share (as of writing). Prior to its IPO, Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies raised roughly $400 million in funding according to Crunchbase data.

One big winner from the company's IPO was Microsoft, which previously invested $45 million in the company at $10.67 a share. Now at $48 a pop, the value of Microsoft's stake in the company has grown nearly five fold. Microsoft invested in Adaptive Biotechnologies as part of a cloud partnership. Adaptive's S-1 filing indicated $500,000 in R&D spend on Microsoft Azure in 2018, with a commitment to spend $12 million over a seven-year period.


Adaptive's partnership with Microsoft involves the application of machine learning and computational statistics on Adaptive&…

Theranos' Holmes To Face Trial Next Year

Elizabeth Holmes -- the founder and former CEO of Theranos, a now defunct but once $9 billion valued company known for its claims to have revolutionized blood testing and now accused of being fraudulent -- has been ordered to stand trial next year on fraud charges along with former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani.

At a hearing in a San Jose, California federal court, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ordered jury selection to begin in the trial of the two former top Theranos executives, with a set date on the 28th of July, 2020. Holmes and Balwani were previously indicted on 11 counts of conspiracy and wire fraud and both pleaded not guilty.


The two ex-Theranos leaders are accused of leveraging advertising and solicitations to urge doctors and patients to use the company's testing laboratory services even though they knew it didn't yield accurate and reliable results. Prosecutors say Holmes and Balwani took part in schemes to defraud investors, doctors and patie…

Apple Said To Allot $100 Million Lifeline For Japan Display

Japan Display -- a struggling liquid-crystal display (LCD) manufacturing joint venture set up by Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba -- has announced that a customer will invest $100 million as part of a bailout led by a Chinese investment firm. According to a piece from Reuters, that customer is Apple, which accounted for 60.6% of Japan Display's revenue in its last fiscal year. Reuters says an investment group led by China’s Harvest Group is investing up to 80 billion yen ($743 million) in Japan Display.

As Apple shifts away from the use of liquid-crystal displays, with the iPhone XR being the only LCD model in the company's 2018 lineup, Japan Display has struggled with funding. According to Bloomberg, Japan Display was in line for a $1.1 billion bailout from Taiwan’s TPK Holding before the smartphone touch panel manufacturer pulled out from a rescue deal.


Japan Display has a big $900 million debt to Apple for the $1.5 billion cost of constructing a smartphone screen manufacturing fa…

Postmates Adds Google's Kristin Reinke To Board

Not long after hiring a long-time Apple engineer to work on its delivery robot, Postmates has announced the addition of Kristin Reinke, Google's vice president of finance, to its board. Reinke will join Postmates as an independent director. Her appointment signals preparations by Postmates in anticipation of an IPO.

Reinke has been on Google's finance team since 2005. She previously worked at Oracle, where she headed Global Business Practices for its Alliances & Channels. Reinke is joining a board that includes Postmates' founders and representatives from investors Founders Fund, Spark Capital and Tiger Global.


"As Postmates continues to innovate and shape the on-demand delivery category, Kristin brings a wide range of financial expertise and experience to our board of directors," Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann said in a statement. "Given her impressive track record at Google and Oracle, I am confident her leadership will have meaningful impact on Postma…

New Balance Debuts New Shoes With 3D-Printed Soles

New Balance has launched two new pairs of sneakers -- the 990 Sport and the FuelCell Echo -- that comes with soles 3D-printed by Formlabs, a Massachusetts-based 3D printing startup valued at $1 billion after an investment from blue-chip VC New Enterprise Associates last year. The two sneakers are crafted atop a uniform 3D-printed sole dubbed TripleCell.

The TripleCell sole is made with a new proprietary photopolymer resin dubbed Rebound Resin. Formlabs put together this resin as part of a partnership -- first announced in 2017 -- with New Balance. New Balance says the new Resin is "designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures with the durability, reliability, and longevity expected from an injection molded thermoplastic."


New Balance's new sneakers are manufactured in the U.S. The 990 Sport and the FuelCell Echo will hit stores on the 28th of June and 15th of September respectively, retailing for $185 and $175 accordingly. The debut of these new sneakers com…

Apple Reportedly Shifts Mac Pro Production To China

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is manufacturing the new Mac Pro in China, shifting production of what had stood as its only major device manufactured in the U.S. outside the country. According to the WSJ, Apple has tapped Chinese contractor Quanta Computer to manufacture the $6,000 high-end desktop computer and is boosting production at a factory near Shanghai.

The paper says Quanta's facility being close to other Apple suppliers in Asia makes it possible for Apple to lower shipping costs compared to shipping Mac Pro components to the U.S. Apple's previous Mac Pro model -- released in 2013 -- was assembled in the U.S. by manufacturing contractor Flex Ltd, made possible by a $100 million investment from Apple for a plant located in Austin, Texas.


Although manufacturing has reportedly been shifted to China, a spokesman for Apple told the Wall Street Journal that the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in the U.S. and includes U.S.-made parts. Also,…

Livongo Files For IPO

Livongo -- a Mountain View, California-based digital health company that sells hardware-software interlinked personal health platforms -- has filed for an IPO with the SEC. Livongo is one the first companies to file for a public offering in the digital health sector. Although the sector is filled with several companies -- to name a few; Zocdoc, Proteus, Butterfly, Tempus and 23andMe -- that have collectively raised billions in funding, most of them still remain private.

Going by Livongo's S-1 filing, the company recorded $68.4 million revenue in 2018, up 122% from $30.8 million in 2017. But Livongo isn't profitable, with $33.4 million in 2018 losses, up nearly 100% from $16.9 million the year before. Other key takes from Livongo's IPO filing include:
$32 million Q1 2019 revenue, compared to $12.46 million in Q1 2018.Roughly $15 million Q1 2019 loss, compared to $4.2 million in Q1 2018. $54.9 million cash balance, as of March 31, 2019 (Q1 end).$24.9 million R&D spend in…

Apple's Jony Ive Leaves To Form Own Design Company

Apple has announced that its chief design officer and nearly three decade old veteran Jony Ive is leaving the company later this year to form an independent design company that'll count Apple as a primary client. Ive will continue to work on projects with Apple at his own design firm and will also be able to work with other clients.

Apple's design team will now be led by Evans Hankey, its vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design. They'll both report to Apple COO Jeff Williams.


Along with Ive's departure, Apple has also announced a new addition to its executive team. Sabih Khan, a 24-year Apple veteran, has been named as Apple's senior vice president of Operations. In his new position, Khan will head Apple's global supply chain, ensuring product quality and managing manufacturing logistics. He'll continue to report to COO Jeff Williams.



Fungible Raises $200 Million Softbank-Led Series C

Fungible -- a Santa Clara-based semiconductor company led by Juniper Networks founder Pradeep Sindhu and Apple's former senior vice president of software engineering, Bertrand Serlet -- has raised $200 million in Series C funding led by the Softbank Vision Fund, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners and other unspecified existing investors. With this funding, Fungible has now raised more than $300 million since inception. Other investors in the company include notable names like Battery Ventures and Mayfield Fund.

The company builds semiconductor technology that is calls "data-centric computing". In acute terms, Fungible builds semiconductors that helps data centers keep up with increasing loads while maintaining existing hardware infrastructure. The company sells a programmable processor named the "Fungible Data Processing Unit (DPU)" that it says improves execution of workloads in data centers. Fungilbe is aiming to get hold of a significant porti…

VW And Ford's Partnership Could Be Expanded

According to a Bloomberg report, Volkswagen's supervisory board plans to talk through and maybe agree to next steps on expanding its partnership with Ford at a meeting scheduled to hold in two weeks time. The report says a previously announced partnership on vans and pickup trucks could be bind at the meeting scheduled on the 11th of July and that the partnership could potentially expand into development of self-driving and electric-car technology.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess previously said the German automaker was not yet committed to working on self-driving technology with Ford but this may change after the board meeting scheduled to hold soon. Both automakers were also previously reported to be in disagreement over an investment in Ford's self-driving unit. Ford was said to be seeking at least $500 million after earlier seeking a billion dollars but was met with resistance from Volkswagen.


Nevertheless, later reports hinted progress in discussions of a self-driving partn…

Instagram Explore Ads May Be $1 Billion Slot For Facebook

Not long after analysts from Morgan Stanley predicted India's Ola Cabs as Uber's biggest potential threat in the U.K. despite current competition from Bolt (formerly Taxify), analysts from the same investment bank have predicted that adding advertising to the Instagram Explore tab could add $1 billion to Facebook's revenue by 2021. Instagram recently announced it'll start placing ads within the Explore tab in the Instagram app for the first time. New ads will come into sight when Instagram users tap into Explore posts and scroll further for related content, while the main grid stays ad-free.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak predicts that ads from the Explore tab could boost Facebook's total revenue by around $1.2 billion -- by 2021 -- if  monetization to the tune of $2 per user can be attained and user growth rates are maintained. But there are two potential hurdles according to Nowak, the first being how quickly Facebook will roll out the new ad section and the…

TripActions Raises $250 Million Series D

Few months after Andreessen Horowitz led a $154 million round for corporate travel startup TripActions, the blue-chip VC firm has again led new funding for the company, this time a $250 million Series D that values it at $4 billion, four times its previous $1 billion valuation. A press release from TripActions says revenue is growing 5x annually which kind of explains why the company has quadrupled its valuation in less than a year.

Along with Andreessen Horowitz, VC firms Lightspeed Venture Partners, Zeev Ventures and Group 11 (formerly SGVC) also participated in this round. TripActions -- which now has more than 700 employees spread across nine offices globally -- says it'll make use of the new funding to support global expansion, double down on partnerships, and further invest in its corporate travel platform. The Palo Alto-based company has more than 2,000 customers, including big names like Lyft, SurveyMonkey and WeWork.


While revenue isn't disclosed, TripActions says it…

StockX Raises $110 Million At A $1 Billion+ Valuation

Detroit-based sneakers and other fashion marketplace StockX has raised $110 million in Series C funding that values it at over $1 billion. VC firms DST Global, GGV Capital, General Atlantic, GV and Battery Ventures were investors in this round. Along with this funding, StockX has announced a new CEO by name of Scott Cutler, a longtime tech executive who previously served as president of ticket marketplace StubHub and most recently as a senior vice president at eBay.

StockX's outgoing CEO and co-founder Josh Luber will continue to serve on the company's executive team and board of directors. Also as part of this investment, GGV managing partner Hans Tung is joining StockX's board of directors. StockX plans to funnel the new capital towards international growth, with a focus on Europe and the Asian markets. The company says the funding will also allow it diversify its products categories and extend its brick-and-mortar presence.


StockX's team has grown from just four co…

Boeing Completes Parachute Testing For The Starliner

Boeing has announced it has completed the fifth and final qualification test of the parachute system of the Starliner, a new space crew capsule the aerospace giant is constructing for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program. NASA's program -- which also involves SpaceX -- is a planned mission backed by the U.S. government to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on privately operated space vehicles for the first time ever.

Boeing and SpaceX have been selected for the planned mission and have both come up with unique spacecraft designs to fly selected U.S. astronauts to the ISS. NASA, last year, unveiled the first nine astronauts that'll fly on either SpaceX's Crew Dragon or Boeing's Starliner spacecrafts. For safety reasons, both spacecrafts are kit with parachute systems that'll be deployed when required.


Boeing now just completed the final test of the Starliner's parachute system. For the test, two parachutes were intentionally disab…

Boeing Partners With Kitty Hawk

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has partnered with Kitty Hawk, a Mountain View, California-based flying car startup backed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page and led by Udacity co-founder and former Google VP Sebastian Thrun. In a joint press release, both companies announced they'll work on "future efforts to advance safe urban air mobility", but didn't specify what the efforts entail. But a good guess can be that both parties will work on developing flying vehicles.

This partnership comes not long after Boeing completed a first test flight of its own flying vehicle. Boeing -- being one of the largest aerospace companies and top manufacturer of commercial airplanes -- likely brings much to the table for Kitty Hawk, which is still a quite small and stealth startup.


“Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future of mobility,” vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt, Steve Nordlund said in a press release. “We have a…

Carbon Raises $260 Million At A $2.4 Billion Valuation

In consensus with a previous report of 3D printing company Carbon raising up to $300 million in new funding, the Redwood City, California-based company has announced $260 million in new funding co-led by Madrone Capital Partners and Baillie Gifford. New investors Temasek and Arkema, along with existing investors Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity, adidas Ventures, JSR Corporation and Sequoia Capital also participated in the round.

This funding values Carbon -- which has now raised more than $680 million since inception -- at north of $2.4 billion. The company plans to use the new capital to broaden R&D efforts, fuel expansion in Europe and Asia and establish its first "Advanced Development Facility", an advanced manufacturing facility [like its name suggests] that'll help Carbon's engineering teams work in "scaled-up manufacturing environments".


Carbon will also invest in its ongoing development of recyclable and biocompatible materials and accelerate its…

Ken Lerer Steps Down As Buzzfeed Chairman

Ken [full name Kenneth] Lerer, a veteran media executive and venture capitalist, is stepping down from the chairman role at Buzzfeed after a decade of occupying this position. According to Axios which first broke the news of his departure, Lerer is leaving for “personal reasons” to focus on Lerer Hippeau Ventures, a New York-based VC firm where he serves as managing director.

Under Lerer and Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti's guide, Buzzfeed has grown to become one of the biggest names with digital media, valued at $1.7 billion in 2016. Lerer and Peretti are no new players in the digital media world, having previously co-founded the Huffington Post, a popular news website that sold to AOL for $315 million in 2011.


Lerer Hippeau Ventures which Lerer founded is a top VC firm that has backed companies like Warby Parker, Allbirds, Axios, Bowery, Zipline, Mirror and Science Exchange. Lerer, still, also has another key connection in Group Nine Media, a digital media company valued at $585 mi…

Morgan Stanley Says Ola Is Uber's Real London Rival

According to analysts from investment bank Morgan Stanley, India's Ola Cabs persists as the main potential threat to Uber's stronghold on the London ride-hailing market. This is despite the recent return of Bolt (formerly Taxify) to the London ride-hailing market, after a previous ban from the city emanating from the lack of an operating license.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, evidence suggests Bolt's recent return to London is not having a significant impact on Uber's operations in the city. A report from the analysts said Uber's app downloads initially slid after Bolt's return but has since recovered. Bolt has raised nearly $200 million in funding according to Crunchbase data, compared to Ola's $3.8 billion in funding.


Reports have suggested (paywall) Ola plans to launch in London by the end of this year. Backed by billions in funding, the company possibly stands a better chance of competing with Uber in the English capital.

Uber recorded $3.1 bil…

Monzo Raises £113 million In New Funding

Fresh off £85 million in funding last October, U.K. digital bank Monzo has announced £113 million in new funding led by Y Combinator Continuity, with participation from other existing investors. This funding values Monzo at £2 billion ($2.5 billion) post-money, double a previous £1 billion valuation from its last funding.

This funding comes on the heels of Monzo's expansion into the U.S. The U.K.-based company is working with an -- FDIC-insured -- partner bank to operate in the U.S. as it doesn't yet have a banking license in the country.


Monzo currently has more than two million users and says 200,000 people signed up in May (last month) alone. The company's new raise comes on the heels of another fintech startup, Blend raising $130 million in new funding at a near $1 billion valuation.



U.S. Cedes Tariffs On Japanese Aluminium For Tesla Batteries

The United States Department of Commerce has agreed to do away with a 10% tariff on imported aluminium from Japan that's used by Tesla in the making of battery cells at its Nevada Gigafactory. This decision is in response to an earlier request from Tesla for a tariff exclusion on 10,000 tonnes of Japanese aluminium annually.

The Japanese aluminium Tesla imports is produced by Nippon Light Metal Holdings, a Japanese multinational that's engaged in the manufacture and sale of aluminum and chemical products via several subsidiaries. In a document dated June 5 and recently put on a government website, the U.S. Department of Commerce said the -- Japanese -- aluminium “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality.”

The tariff waiver on the Japanese aluminium upholds for one year.



Apple Says It Gets Fees From Less Than 1% Of Spotify Users

In response to an antitrust complaint from Spotify, Apple has disclosed that it collects a 15% fee from roughly 680,000 out of Spotify's 100 million paying customers [and 217 million total monthly active users]. Apple -- which competes directly with Spotify with the Apple Music streaming service -- said this in response to a complaint to EU regulators from Spotify that alleges Apple's control of the App Store, including fees it charges for processing payments, has made it hard for rivals to compete for music streaming subscribers.

Apple charges a 30% fee for in-app purchases made on the App Store but that drops to 15%  on subscription purchases made after a year. In exchange for the fees, Apple handles billing and payments -- for apps -- in over 100 countries. But in reaction to Spotify's complaint, The Cupertino-based iPhone maker said that only a little fraction of Spotify's users are affected by its fees. That's because Spotify used Apple's payments system …

Blend Raises $130 Million Series E

Blend, a San Francisco-based SaaS platform for digital lenders, has raised $130 million in Series E funding. Temasek and General Atlantic led the funding, with participation from existing backers Greylock Partners, Founders Fund, 8VC and Lightspeed Venture Partners. With this funding, Blend has now raised a total of $310 million. Although the valuation for this round is not disclosed, Fortune reports Blend is now valued at close to $1 billion, up from a previous $500 million post-money valuation [according to Pitchbook data].

The funding comes at a good time for Blend, which claims it now processes nearly $2 billion in loans per day for more than 150 lenders. The company has also recently expanded into deposit accounts and home equity, and homeowners insurance. Blend says it'll make use of the funding to continue growing its current team of nearly 400 employees and invest in new tech, grow its partner ecosystem, and further its expansion into other consumer lending areas.


The com…

DJI Debuts Custom Drone For Government Agencies

Facing increased security concerns from the U.S. government, Chinese drone maker DJI has announced a new "Government Edition" drone that's made "specifically for use in high-security situations" by global government agencies. DJI says the new edition's architecture ensures that drone data like photos and videos captured during flight never leaves the drone or get shared with unauthorized parties including DJI itself. The Shenzhen-based company says the way the drone is built ensures it "meets the stringent requirements of the government sector for data management, risk mitigation, and enterprise-level data sharing control."

DJI first developed the Government Edition for the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services, and is now offering it to other government organizations around the globe. The Chinese drone maker says the Government Edition drone partook in more than 1,500 flight missions last year. In addition to data protectio…

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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…

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

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

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


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

Big VC Wins From Slack's Public Debut

Slack filed to go public late April and has just achieved that with a direct listing that saw its stock jump nearly 50% on its first day of trading. Slack's prior SEC filing showed significant stakes held by VC firms, including Accel (24%), Andreessen Horowitz (roughly 13%), the Softbank Vision Fund (7.3%) and Social Capital (more than 5%).

With Slack's valuation on the public markets hitting $20 billion, investors that backed Slack have reaped major wins, including those that participated in the company's most previous $427 million round that came with a $7.1 billion post-money valuation. To name a few, Accel which poured in $200 million into Slack now commands a stake worth $4.6 billion. Softbank which got in quite late by leading a $250 million round at a $5.1 billion valuation now commands a stake worth roughly $1.5 billion.


Even Andreessen Horowitz whose co-founder Ben Horowitz termed Slack as an "accidental" investment now commands a stake worth roughly $2…

Facebook Unveils Digital Currency

After several reports of Facebook working on a digital currency, the company has officially unveiled just that. Today, Facebook divulged details of a new cryptocurrency, Libra, that'll let people purchase things or transfer money to people with close to zero fees. Users will be able to buy or cash out their Libra online at local exchange points, and spend it using third-party wallet apps or Facebook's newly announced wallet, Calibra. Calibra will be offered as both a standalone app, and within the WhatsApp and Messenger apps.

 Facebook won't exert full control of Libra, but has instead assembled a team of founding members that'll each get a single vote (including Facebook itself) in the governance of the new digital currency. The partners (a quite reputable list) have each invested at least $10 million into Libra's operations. They include:
StripePayPal CoinbaseVisaMastercard PayU UberLyftSpotifyBooking Holdings Farfetch Andreessen Horowitz Vodafone Thrive Capital …

Magic Leap Said To Be Raising More Funding

Magic Leap, a Florida-based augmented reality startup that's already garnered some $2.6 billion in funding, is raising even more funding according to a report from Variety. A spokesperson for the company further confirmed Variety's report, stating that Magic Leap "is in the midst of a significant financing round". “We have already closed a major portion of this round, some as equity and some as convertible debt that will become equity when the round is complete. The participants in this round include existing investors, new investors, and strategic partners.” The spokesperson said.

Initial signs of Magic Leap seeking more funding surfaced in August, when the company assigned all of its patents to JPMorgan Chase as collateral. Reports of the transfer recently surfaced on Hacker News, a popular technology-focused social news website/forum, where several commenters evinced that such arrangement could be an indicator of financial struggles. However, such arrangement isn…

AT&T set to acquire Digital ad-tech unicorn AppNexus for over $1.6 Billion

image credit : AppNexus

Telecom giant AT&T which provides a vast range of digital services to a huge number of customers around the world has now been confirmed to be acquiring NY based programmatic online advertising company AppNexus for a huge price between the range of $1.6 Billion -$2 Billion.

AT&T is making this huge acquisition of the company which provides a cloud based advertisement marketplace and raised over $300 million from various investors in order to add to AT&T's growing list of digital services with AppNexus being added to the company's advertising and analytics division.

This will also represent a huge addition to AppNexus's ecosystem as AT&T currently counts over 170 million direct to consumer relationships which AppNexus can hugely tap into and leverage for the expansion of its ad technology services.





AppNexus is notable for raising over $300 million from various investors including Khosla Ventures, Tribeca Venture Partners, Yahoo! Japan…

Facebook Reportedly Working On Cryptocurrency For WhatsApp Transfers

According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook is working on a cryptocurrency that will enable users transfer cash on its WhatsApp messaging app with a first focus on the Indian remittances market. The report says the company is developing a stablecoin - crypto pegged to a currency or exchange traded commodities to minimize volatility - for this.

"Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology," a company spokesman said in a statement. "This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share."


Former PayPal president David Marcus currently leads the company's blockchain initiatives so moves like this to take stand in the payments market are likely. Going by employee titles on LinkedIn, Facebook currently has about 40 people on its blockchain group signaling a hiring spree for the unit.

India has over 200 million users and counts as the world's largest remittances…

Magic Leap, Microsoft and others said to be bidding on AR army combat contract

Florida based Magic Leap, The AR hardware manufacturer valued at $6.3 billion from a most recent funding round and also known for a release of its first developer focused AR hardware of its first Creator's Edition augmented reality headset just last month has now been reported to be pushing to land a contract with the U.S. Army for development of AR  devices for soldiers to make use of in combat missions.

As per Bloomberg, The contract which could see the military purchasing up to 100,000 headsets as part of an initiative whose total cost could exceed $500 million is also being talked up with tech giant Microsoft.

The program currently known as HUD 3.0 (HUD standing for “heads up device”) is said to have been stirred for years in the armed forces with preparations being made for what entails a construction of a physical headset made to overlay digital images in the physical world in addition to a software platform to be used for both training and live combat.

Details concerning t…

Microsoft Hires Former U.S. AG To Probe AnyVision

Microsoft has said it has hired Eric Holder, a famed lawyer who served as the Attorney General of the U.S. from 2009 to 2015, to investigate if AnyVision, an Israeli AI company it invested in, violated Microsoft's ethics regarding use of facial recognition technology. Quoting a Microsoft spokesperson, Holder's team of former federal prosecutors "will move quickly, reviewing documents and conducting on the ground interviews with AnyVision employees and others to ensure a full and thorough investigation."


NBC News earlier reported Holder's hire. The news outlet previously reported that facial recognition technology developed by AnyVision had powered a secret military surveillance project for the Israel army that monitored Palestinians in the West Bank. According to NBC News, the project was so successful that AnyVision won Israel's top defense prize in 2018 for preventing "hundreds of terror attacks" using "large amounts of data." AnyVision…

Airbnb Seals Nine-Year Olympics Sponsorship Deal

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced it has sealed an agreement with Airbnb that entails the online accommodation marketplace joining The Olympic Partner Programme (TOP), the highest level of sponsorship offered by the Olympic Committee. Under the program, Airbnb will be a sponsor for the Olympic Games, with a contract that runs for a nine-year period. According to The Financial Times, Airbnb's sponsorship deal is valued at $500 million.


As a global partner, Airbnb will be a sponsor for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 and the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028. The partnership also covers Paralympic Games from 2020 through 2028.

Such partnership, centered mainly on marketing and brand awareness, is conventionally bound to bring in more business for Airbnb. Airbnb said the partnership will generate "hundreds of thousands of new hosts" on its plat…