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Showing posts from September, 2019

Revolut To Hire 3,500 Staff For Global Expansion

Revolut, a British fintech startup valued at $1.7 billion, has announced it'll hire 3,500 staff to cater for expansion into 24 new markets, thanks to a new partnership with payments giant Visa. Leveraging Visa's brand, scale, and global footprint, Revolut will launch in 24 new countries, starting in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and the U.S. [by the end of this year] This would be in addition to 34 markets Revolut already operates in. In a statement to Reuters, Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky indicated the company will hire 3,500 persons to cater for its expansion. “We are around 1500 people now and by summer next year we plan to be around 5000,” he said.

Revolut's global expansion on the shoulders of Visa is built atop an already existing (four-year) partnership between both companies. Revolut began in 2015, has grown at a break-neck speed, and has been able to issue cards to its customers across Europe thanks to Visa. Revolut also levera…

Apple Will Reportedly Release Originals In Theaters Before Streaming

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple, which recently unveiled a new streaming service featuring exclusive productions from Hollywood bigwigs like Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and J.J. Abrams, will debut its feature-length films in theaters before making them available for streaming. According to the Journal, Apple has made precursory approaches to cinema chains and also consulted with an entertainment executive as it pursues a plan to keep its originals in theaters for weeks before they're made available on AppleTV+, its recently unveiled streaming app.

The Journal reports Apple is currently reaching out to theater-industry representatives, and plans to release its movies first in cinemas in order to avoid the tension created by another tech giant with major Hollywood ties; Netflix. Netflix typically asks theater owners to debut its movies at the same time they're made available for streaming, an approach that limits its ability to debut movies …

Docker Trying To Raise Cash Amid "Significant Challenges"

Docker, a one-time superhot cloud software startup that cracked a $1 billion valuation in 2015, is apparently having some struggles, with CNBC reporting of a company-wide email that acknowledged challenges as Docker tries to raise more funding. In an email [viewed and reported by CNBC] sent to Docker employees, its CEO Rob Bearden, who took up the position in May, thanked employees for “persevering in spite of the lack of clarity we’ve had these past few weeks.” He also made mention of  “uncertainty” at Docker, that “brings with it significant challenges”.
“As shared at the last All Hands, we have been engaging with investors to secure more financing to continue to execute on our strategy.” Bearden, who is Docker's fourth CEO since inception, and most recently served as CEO at Hortonworks, said. “I wanted to share a quick update on where we stand. We are currently in active negotiations with two investors and are working through final terms.” He said.

Although Docker has seen muc…

Vox Media Scoops Up New York Media

Vox Media, a New York-based digital media company that's behind popular news sites like The Verge, SB Nation, Recode, and Eater, has announced it has acquired New York Media, the publisher of the popular New York Magazine, alongside other well-known brands like The StrategistVulture, Intelligencer, Grub Street, and The Cut. The acquisition price is not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reports it was an all-stock deal valued at $105 million. According to the Journal, the acquisition would give New York Media about 12% ownership in a combined entity consisting of Vox Media's and New York Media's media properties. In simple terms, the acquisition is said to be more of a merger between both companies than an outright acquisition that'll involve one party becoming a subsidiary of the other.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the all-stock acquisition valued Vox Media at $750 million, down from roughly $1 billion in 2015. However, stock deals of such nature usual…

WeWork Has Reportedly Considered Laying Off One-Third Of Its Employees

According to a report from The Information, WeWork, whose CEO Adam Neumann just stepped down amid an IPO debacle, has considered laying off as many as 5,000 employees, one-third of its workforce, to cut costs. The Information reports WeWork's executives discussed ways to reduce costs with bankers, and came up with the lay-off consideration. Other cost-cutting ideas also said to have been discussed includes slowing its expansion and shuttering side business related to education and housing. Such moves are likely aimed at restoring investor confidence after a cold reception stemming from its S-1 filing.

A 5,000-person layoff doesn't sound at all good, and may count as one of the highest headcount cuts in a long time. However, with skyrocketing losses, it wouldn't be really surprising if WeWork pulls such a move. Companies looking to go public or those that have already gone public often look for ways to cut losses in order to bolster investor confidence, one example being U…

Amazon Rivals Revealed To Be Secret Funders Of Anti-Amazon Non-Profit

The Free & Fair Markets Initiative is a non-profit group that's been behind campaigns criticizing the business practices of Amazon, with complaints ranging from hurting of small businesses to lobby dealings, working conditions and monopoly concerns, according to its own website. The Free & Fair Markets Initiative (FFMI for short), which abides by the slogan "Fighting for Competition & Protecting Consumers", launched a national campaign 18 months ago that criticized Amazon's business practices, accusing the company of stifling competition, limiting consumer choice, ravening on government subsidies, endangering warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches.

FFMI claimed to have grass roots support from average citizens across the US. On the "About Us" section of its website, it describes itself as a "nonprofit watchdog committed to scrutinizing Amazon’s harmful practices and promoting a fair, modern marketplace that works …

Airbnb Employees Are Said To Be Disgruntled With IPO Delays

On Thursday, Airbnb issued a statement that said it plans to go public next year. The statement was brief, with just 15 words of main content, and somewhat unusual for a company. Companies usually give signs before going public but not really in a way Airbnb did so. A statement such as Airbnb's hinted of a case of "more than meets the eye", and that may just be the case, in the light of a New York Times report that said several Airbnb employees were somewhat frustrated with the inability to cash in their shares, and pushed for an IPO to happen. Airbnb's statement was likely a way of assuring such employees that they'll have the opportunity to reap monetary gains from their holdings next year.

According to The New York Times, several Airbnb employees wrote a letter to the company's founders last summer, adjuring to be able to sell their Airbnb stock options. With Airbnb being privately held, its shares cannot be easily traded or cashed in. As per The New York…

Fitbit Said To Be Exploring Sale

According to a Reuters report, Fitbit has held discussions with Qatalyst Partners, a famed investment bank that's been involved in the sale of several tech companies, to consider if it should engage with potential acquirers. Reuters reports Qatalyst has been seeking to persuade Fitbit to explore sale options, arguing it could be of acquisition interest from Google parent Alphabet as well as private equity firms. Fitbit's stock jumped more than 20% in light of Reuters' report, and (as of writing) trades at $4.10 per share, with a market cap hovering near $1.1 billion. This is in contrast to its 2015 IPO debut at $20 a share, with a market cap of $4.1 billion.

Several earnings misses and decreasing revenue in the face of heightened competition have plunged Fitbit's stock from an all-time high of $47.60 to a current $4. Such low stock price makes Fitbit a possible acquisition target for private equity firms looking to acquire, manage and later flip for a higher price, or…

Procore Has Reportedly Tapped Goldman Sachs For An IPO

According to a Bloomberg report, Procore, a provider of cloud-based construction management software that was valued at $3 billion late last year, has tapped investment bank Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO that could value it at more than $4 billion. Bloomberg reports Procore is on track to generate more than $400 million in revenue this year, making a $4 billion+ IPO valuation very plausible. Procore may even be heading for a blockbuster IPO given the positive performance of several enterprise software companies that have recently gone public. Take two examples; Cloudflare surged 20% on its market debut, Datadog surged 39% during its debut, and was said to have rebuffed a $7 billion+ acquisition offer from Cisco prior to going public.

Generally, enterprise-focused startups have fared well on the public markets, but that hasn't been the case for several consumer-focused startups, take for example; Lyft, Uber, and SmileDirectClub, which currently trade at prices below that which they…

Cisco Reportedly Offered $7 Billion+ For Datadog Before IPO

Late last month, Datadog filed for an IPO, and just went public with a quite blockbuster IPO that saw its stock surge 39% on the Nasdaq stock exchange. New York-based Datadog closed at $37.55 after opening at a slightly higher $40.35 during its market debut on Thursday. At the end of Thursday, Datadog had a market cap of nearly $11 billion.

Some few moments before Datadog went public, a Bloomberg report said Cisco offered to acquire the company for a value significantly higher than the $7 billion valuation it had aimed for its public debut, but got rebuffed as Datadog felt it could be worth more than that as a public company over time. With Datadog now public, talks between both companies are likely no longer active. A $7 billion acquisition would have been one of the highest and most talked out tech exits this year as such acquisitions are rare and hardly seen. Such acquisition would have been similar to that of Qualtrics, which got scooped up for $8 billion by SAP a few moments bef…

Airbnb Plans To Go Public Next Year

Airbnb has announced an intention to go public next year, putting to rest several speculations concerning a future IPO. Airbnb's press release, which announced its plan, was brief and precise, with just 15 words of main content. Not long ago, Airbnb was reported to have recorded a 40% year-on-year revenue increase in the first quarter of this year, coupled with a 31% surge in gross bookings. The San Francisco-based company reportedly had about $3.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet as of Q1 end.

Airbnb is one company investors might be drooling for, thanks to being profitable and cash flow positive, unlike many of the tech companies that have gone public this year. This year has witnessed the IPOs of top tech companies like Uber, Lyft, Cloudflare, Datadog, Zoom, Pinterest, Slack and several more. However, out of the aforementioned companies, Zoom currently stands as the only profitable one, with the rest having racked up losses ranging from relatively moderate amounts to as hi…

Postmates Raises $225 Million, Valued At $2.4 Billion

Following reports of Postmates having held acquisition talks even after earlier confidentially filing for a public offering, the San Francisco-based food delivery startup has raised $225 million in funding from private equity firm GPI Capital at a $2.4 billion valuation, up from $1.85 billion earlier this year. According to Forbes, which first carried the news of Postmates' new funding, the capital infusion comes at the 11th hour of a possible IPO by Postmates. After confidentially filing for an IPO in February, Postmates delayed a public market debut but was later reported to be planning to unveil its IPO prospectus this month.

Prior to this funding, Postmates had raised nearly $700 million in total funding. An 11th hour pre-IPO financing isn't unheard of, with some companies having done that in past time. Such occurrence could signify a company needing to add more cash to its coffers or looking to boost its valuation ahead of an IPO. However, there's no certainty Postma…

Stripe Is Raising $250 Million At A $35 Billion Valuation

Payments company Stripe has announced it's raising $250 million in additional financing at a pre-money valuation of $35 billion, up from $22.5 billion when it raised funding early this year. Investors in Stripe's new round include blue-chip VCs like General Catalyst, Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. The San Francisco-based company says it'll use the new capital to accelerate its growth in three key areas; international expansion, its product suite and enterprise capabilities.

Stripe has invested heavily in international expansion, and just recently launched in 8 new countries. The company says it'll expand to more "in the coming months", with a target to be operational in 40 countries by year end. It also says there are "many more launches" planned for next year. With majority (5 out of 6) of  new internet users coming online from areas outside of North America and Western Europe, Stripe has a promising target in the form of growing digital…

Automattic Raises $300 Million Series D From Salesforce

Automattic, the San Francisco-based company behind popular web publishing platform WordPress, has announced it has raised $300 million in Series D funding from Salesforce Ventures. The funding values Automattic at $3 billion post-money, up from $1.16 billion when it last raised funding in 2014. The funding will help fuel Automattic's growth, allowing it to scale its business and continue to invest in the WordPress ecosystem, according to its CEO Matt Mullenweg. Currently, WordPress powers 34% of all sites on the web, according to Automattic.

Automattic's last known funding was a $160 million Series C in 2014 that catapulted it into unicorn status. Prior to that round, the company had raised relatively lesser amounts in funding. Automattic is quite unique, not only from a funding perspective, but for its corporate structure. Although it maintains an office in San Francisco, all of Automattic's employees, 900 in number, work remotely. Interestingly, they're spread acros…

AB5 Signed Into Law

Assembly Bill 5 (popularly known by its initials AB5), a bill introduced early this year in the state of California that focused on gig worker protections, has been signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. This comes shortly after the bill was approved in the California State Assembly and Senate. AB5 generated much attention, thanks in part to large gig employers like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash being involved. Such companies connect customers with on-demand services (e.g. ride-hailing and food delivery) being offered by workers, who are normally classified as independent contractors. But with AB5 signed into law, such companies would have to reclassify workers as normal employees in the state of California. Essentially, that Uber driver or DoorDash courier would be classified as a full employee that's entitled to several benefits under this law.

Shortly before AB5 passed the California State Assembly and Senate, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash put together a $90 million fund to…

Facebook Said To Be Working With Luxottica To Make AR Glasses

According to a report from CNBC, Facebook has partnered with Luxottica to develop augmented-reality glasses that are designed to replace smartphones. For those not familiar, Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company, that's behind several eyewear brands including the famous "Ray-Ban" collection. According to CNBC, Facebook has been working to develop AR glasses out of its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington, but faced struggles that have led it to seek help from a company like Luxottica. CNBC reports Facebook hopes a partnership with Luxottica will get its AR glasses completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025.

According to CNBC, the glasses are internally codenamed "Orion", and would allow users to take calls, see information in a small display and live-stream their camera feed to social media friends and connections. CNBC previously reported of Facebook developing an AI voice assistant that'll serve as user input for the g…

Juul Sales Ceased In China Days After Launch

Just days after entering the Chinese market, Juul has halted sales in the country, with its products pulled from JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall, two of the biggest Chinese e-commerce marketplaces. No official reason for the halt was provided, but a statement from a Juul spokesperson hinted of regulatory issues. “While Juul products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again,” a spokeswoman for Juul said in a statement.

Juul's products became available in China beginning on the 9th of September, but suddenly disappeared from Chinese e-commerce sites on Tuesday. The company's move into China happens to be at a time it's facing regulatory scrutiny in the U.S., with the Trump Administration having made plans to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. The renewed scrutiny from the U.S. government came amid recorded cases of deaths from vaping-related …

Fair Raises $500 Million In Debt Financing

Fair, a Santa Monica-based car leasing startup, has announced $500 million in debt financing led by Mizuho Bank, with participation from Softbank and other unnamed credit providers. This follows a $100 million debt facility closed over the summer, and a $50 million increase to its credit line with Silicon Valley Bank in July. Fair also has credit lines from Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, and previously raised $385 million in Series B funding led by Softbank.

Fair will use the new capital to expand its Uber partnership, which involves leasing cars on flexible terms to Uber drivers. Fair's appeal is its more-flexible-than-normal car leasing model that allows its customers lease a car for as long as they want and be able to cancel any time, in contrast with the long-term commitments of conventional car-leasing services. Thanks to its partnership with Uber, drivers looking to earn money through ride-sharing can easily lease a car and then drive for Uber, being able to cancel the le…

GitLab Raising Funding At A $2.6 Billion Valuation

GitLab has authorized the issuance of $268 million worth of shares that'll value it at $2.55 billion, according to a filing reviewed by the Prime Unicorn Index. Basically, it means the company, which was valued at more than $1 billion last year, plans to raise up to $268 million in funding at a $2.55 billion valuation. However, there's no guarantee the full amount will be raised, as it's dependent on investor interest and demand. GitLab was valued at $1.1 billion after it raised $100 million in Series D funding last September. ICONIQ Capital, an investment firm known to manage money for several Silicon Valley bigwigs, led that round.

If GitLab successfully raises at its targeted $2.55 billion valuation, it would mean a more than double in valuation in a single year, a very impressive feat for a startup. This is just a speculation, but GitLab may have seen a strong increase in user numbers after the acquisition of GitHub, another web-based Git repository, by Microsoft last…

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Tencent Said To Purchase 10% Stake In Policybazaar

According to a Bloomberg report, Tencent has purchased a 10% stake in Policybazaar, an Indian online insurance aggregator that notably raised funding from the Softbank Vision Fund last year. According to Bloomberg, Tencent paid $150 million for the 10% stake, valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Tencent didn't actually make a direct investment into the company, but purchased half of a stake held by famed tech investor Tiger Global, according to Bloomberg. This entails Tiger Global, a New York-based investment firm that has backed and reaped profits from several high-profile tech companies, is the one on the receiving end of the transaction and not Policybazaar itself.

Tiger Global seems to have reaped good profits on its Policybazaar bet, having been known to have invested less than $100 million altogether in the company. Selling just half of its stake for $150 million indicates a healthy profit on its investment and possibly more profits from its remaining stake. Talks of Tiger …

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…

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…

PayPal To Take $500 Million Stake In Uber

Ahead of an IPO, Uber and PayPal have reached an agreement to extend their global payments partnership, with the latter agreeing to invest $500 million in the ride-hailing company. PayPal is paying $47 per share for a $500 million stake in Uber, giving the company a valuation of $78.8 billion.

This purchase is similar to one made by Salesforce in video-conferencing company Zoom ahead of its just recent public market debut. Salesforce invested $100 million in Zoom before the company debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market. PayPal's Uber investment was announced by CEO Dan Schulman in a LinkedIn post and also made known in Uber's S-1 filing.


Schulman's post said both companies "intend to explore future commercial payment collaborations,", including working on Uber's digital wallet. Not much was made known in the announcement. Uber is set to debut soon on the public markets along with other companies like Slack and Fastly which recently filed for IPOs.

Slack and Uber…

Blackstone Snags Majority Stake In MagicLab

Private equity juggernaut Blackstone has announced it's acquiring a majority stake in MagicLab, a company that's behind several popular online dating services including Badoo and Bumble. Blackstone's acquisition values MagicLab, which traces its roots to the launch of Badoo in 2006, at around $3 billion. Under the terms of the acquisition, Andrey Andreev, a Russian entrepreneur who launched and has led the company for more than a decade, will be selling his stake and stepping down, to be replaced by Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble.

MagicLab is a prosperous but somewhat low-key company that has been behind some globally recognised online brands. Focused on the online dating sector, MagicLab is behind some of the best-known brands in that scene, including Badoo, a dating service with more than 400 million users, and Bumble, a female-focused dating app that was launched in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who's also a founding member of Tinder, another leadi…

Dropbox booms at its IPO!

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dropbox went boom on its first day of going public yersteday.

The online storage company soared by 40% after a pre-ipo value of about $7-$8 billion pushing the value of the company to $11.2 Billion which is 12% more than it's most recent private valuation of $10 Billion.

Dropbox got early investments from Y Combinator so it came as no surprise when the startup incubator's president Sam Altman shared pictures of the checks Y Combinator wrote the company at its beginning stage after offering them a very awesome congratulations for IPO Success.

YC has backed and churned out many unicorns including Airbnb, Stripe, Cruise, Instacart, Coinbase and also Doordash with Dropbox included, of all these unicorns, Dropbox has been the first to go public from its incubation and this marks a very huge milestone for the Startup Accelerator.

Drop has booming revenues of $1.1 billion in its fiscal 2017 which is 31% bigger than its $844.8 million in the previous year 201…

LA based Mobile game developer Jam City reportedly prepping for IPO

image credit : Jam City

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Mobile game developer Jam City is now preparing for an upcoming public offering which will see the 8 year old gaming startup debut on the public market with an aimed value of around $1 Billion according to the report.

Jam City till date has raised over $150 million in funding and has been behind several titles including Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Family Guy Another Freakin' Mobile Game, Marvel Avengers Academy which was added through an acquisition and several others which have stayed as top grossing apps with its Family Guy title recently crushing the $30 million revenue benchmark.





Jam City's most previous funding round stands as a very remarkable one with the Los Angeles based gaming studio which also counts locations across other cities raised $130 million in 2015 from South Korean major game publisher Netmarble.

With 6 acquisitions so far and several hit titles, Jam City which was notably …

Instacart said to raise $271 million in additional funding

Amid a recent $600 million investment which valued Instacart at $7.6 billion, The company has now been reported to have taken an extra $271 million investment from firms including Tiger Global as a result of interest from more investors.
This report comes from Reuters and cites a source familiar with the matter. Instacart's recent $600 million round was led by D1 Capital, a new hedge fund led by former Viking Global Investors chief investment officer Daniel Sundheim said to be on track to have raised $4 billion in commitments after just launching recently.

As per Reuters, Several firms to have indicated interest including Tiger Global and existing investors Coatue Management and Valiant Capital. It also stated the deal had been filed earlier this month in Delaware. With this round included, Instacart would now have raised $1.9 billion in total equity cementing its position as one of the most funded startups in the e-commerce space with enough capital for expansive operations.

Oth…

Microsoft’s mobile phone keyboard SwiftKey adds two-way translation for Android

Microsoft Translator, The software giant's technology which makes use of artificial intelligence for provision of translations for more than 60 languages has now been integrated with the Android version of Microsoft's SwiftKey mobile keyboard.

The company made this known in a recent announcement this Thursday. The real-time translation feature will now translate as its Android users text in real-time to offer a unique and much desired experience for cross-border messaging.



Once users tap the Microsoft Translator icon on the SwiftKey keyboard, The app begins its function with translation of messages between users. The app would also remember users' preferences leading to an elimination of the need to scroll through the full list of the more than 60 available languages which users choose from.

“We wanted to make it really easy for users to be able to translate as they type and to be able to translate incoming messages,” Colleen Hall, a senior product manager for SwiftKey sa…

Yelp Staves Off Board Challenge

Local-search and crowd-sourced review company Yelp has averted a board challenge from investor SQN Investors LP, after the company unveiled plans to improve returns, that was in-line with that of the Redwood City, California based hedge fund. SQN made this known in a recently released public letter to the company.

Yelp, last month, announced plans to save costs and added three independent directors to its board. This was in response to criticism that it wasn't doing enough to tackle a fall in advertising revenue. The company also recently raised its buyback budget to $500 million, up from a previous $250 million budget.


Other steps being taken by Yelp includes a reduction in marketing spend, increased monetization through partners, relocation of several employees from San Francisco to lower cost cities and a renewed focus on its Restaurants and Home & Local market segments. The company aims to double its size by 2023 and add roughly $1 billion in revenue through this period.