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Showing posts from October, 2019

DJI Debuts A New Lightweight Drone

Popular drone maker DJI has debuted a new drone, this time a lightweight one that weighs just 249 grams. The new drone, named the Mavic Mini, is the smallest and lightest drone DJI has ever made, and costs $400 (for the standard package; that is the drone itself, one battery, a remote controller, extra propellers and all required tools and wires). There's a higher package, costing $500, that includes all the components of the standard version plus a Two-Way charging Hub, three batteries, three sets of extra propellers, a propeller cage and a carrying case. Already available for pre-order, the Mavic Mini will begin shipping on the 11th of November.


The Mavic Mini comes with several features that are standard for DJI drones. They include a high-grade camera that's able to capture footage at a resolution of up to 2.7k, Wi-Fi transmission to enable stable control and an HD live feed when in use, and GPS receivers and downward visual sensors to detect the ground below the drone du…

Report: Apple Will Use Qualcomm 5G Chips In 2020 iPhones

According to a new report from the Nikkei Asian Review, Apple is adopting Qualcomm's X55 5G chip for three iPhones that it's expected to launch next year, and is already mobilizing suppliers to assemble its first ever 5G iPhones. According to Nikkei, Apple has also set a target of shipping at least 80 million of the new 5G phones.

Apple is betting on 5G-enabled phones to help it topple Huawei's current position as the second-largest smartphone maker, Nikkei reports. If such report stands true, then 5G-enabled phones from a much-patronized manufacturer like Apple will also likely be an incentive for global carriers to roll out 5G telecoms infrastructure. Nikkei's report kind of corroborates with a previous one from Bloomberg that said Apple will wait until at least 2020 to release a 5G phone.

The X55 is the most advanced chip designed by Qualcomm, which Apple had fought a long-standing business related battle with until a surprise settlement earlier this year. Their di…

Scopely Raises $200 Million, Now Valued At $1.7 Billion

Scopely, an LA-based mobile games developer, has announced $200 million in Series D funding led by NewView Capital, with participation from Baillie Gifford and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) alongside existing investors like Greycroft, Revolution Growth, and Sands Capital Ventures. According to a Bloomberg piece, the funding values Scopely at $1.7 billion, up from $710 million in early 2018.

Scopely says it'll use the new funding to accelerate mergers & acquisitions and expand its game portfolio.The funding comes after the Los Angeles-based company crossed more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue, as made known in an official press release. Scopely also says it's "profitable and growing", after having previously said it was on pace to eclipse $400 million in annual sales.

Scopely, since its founding in 2011, has developed several hit mobile games, including titles based on The Walking Dead, Looney Tunes, Star Trek, and pro wrestling tournament

Alphabet Has Reportedly Offered To Buy Fitbit

Not long after a previous report of Fitbit exploring putting itself up for sale, Reuters has reported that Google parent Alphabet has made a offer to acquire the smartwatch maker. A situation where Google's parent Alphabet acquires Fitbit isn't far-fetched, and was one actually speculated in a previous Reuters report. In that report, which first touched on the topic of Fitbit putting itself up for sale, Reuters said Fitbit held discussions with Qatalyst Partners, a famed investment bank known for its involvement in several big tech deals, which in turn argued that Fitbit could be of acquisition interest to Alphabet as well as private equity firms.

With Reuters' new report, it turns out Qatalyst may have just been right with its argument. Alphabet acquiring Fitbit would not be a surprising move, given it has yet to develop any wearable offerings even when it has joined other major tech companies in making smartphones and several smart home products. Acquiring Fitbit could …

Care.com Said To Be Exploring Sale

According to a Bloomberg report, Care.com, a popular online marketplace for babysitters and caregivers, is working with financial advisers on a strategic review, which includes exploring a potential sale. This report comes after several hassles at the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company, whose share price tumbled after a Wall Street Journal story raised concerns that it wasn't adequately vetting its caregivers. A few months after the Journal's story was published, Care.com's CFO, Michael Echenberg, announced he was resigning. Its CEO, Sheila Lirio Marcelo, followed suit, announcing she would step down in August, although she continues to hold the position as the company seeks a new chief executive.

After the Journal's story, Care.com made amendments to its vetting process by issuing a new set of guidelines to govern that, and also took steps to boot fake day-care center listings off its platform. However, some damage had already been done. In August, activist investo…

Microsoft Wins $10 Billion Military Cloud Contract

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has announced it has awarded a $10 billion 10-year running cloud contract to Microsoft. The contract involves provision of enterprise cloud services that'll support the DoD's business and mission operations. The Department of Defense opened bids for the contract nearly two years ago, and happens to have selected Microsoft over several other cloud providers that competed for the contract.

Being a very large one, the $10 billion contract's bidding process involved dramatic competition between top cloud players like Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle. Oracle even went as far as suing the U.S. government, claiming the contract's single-vendor nature (to be awarded to only one company) was unfair and illegal. The bidding process started out with several cloud providers including Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, IBM and Google, but was later streamlined to only Microsoft and Amazon, which the U.S. Department of Defense ruled as the only companies th…

Hyundai Debuts Robotaxi Service

Hyundai has announced a new robotaxi service that'll launch in the city of Irvine, California on the 4th of November. The new robotaxi service, dubbed BotRide, is developed in collaboration with Pony.ai, a well-known self-driving startup, and Via, a popular ride-sharing service. Pony.ai is responsible for the self-driving technology while Via caters to the app required to match passengers with the self-driving vehicles. The vehicle adopted by BotRide is the Hyundai Kona electric SUV, a fleet of which will be available for free rides to Irvine residents.

The Hyundai Konas that'll be used will be equipped with sensor hardware and proprietary software from Pony.ai, designed to navigate roads autonomously as the case has been with several robotaxi services. Via on the other hand is responsible for algorithms that'll enable multiple riders share the same vehicle. BotRide will be accessible via dedicated iOS and Android apps. In-app, passengers will be directed to nearby stops …

Gojek Plans Dual Listing After CEO Departure

The new co-CEOs of Gojek, Indonesia's largest startup, have said they plan to take the company public, likely via a dual listing (a situation where a company trades on more than one stock market). They made this known in a brief to reporters on Thursday, a brief that came shortly after its co-founder and long-running CEO Nadiem Makarim announced he's stepping down to join Indonesia's cabinet.

Gojek co-CEO Andre Soelistyo, in his brief, didn't specify a particular time for an IPO, but said it could be “a few years” away. “We don’t have a set target yet when, but we’re already moving along,” He said. Soelistyo noted that Gojek would like to provide opportunity for Indonesian investors to participate, and said the company was also considering a secondary listing in a not-yet-decided location.

Soelistyo alongside Kevin Aluwi, two Gojek veterans, have taken up co-CEO roles at the company after Makarim left to serve as Indonesia's education minister. While Makarim's…

Fair Cuts 40% Of Staff, As CFO Departs

Fair, a Softbank-backed car leasing startup that recently raised $500 million in debt financing, said today that it'll be cutting 40% of its staff. Atop that, its CFO, Tyler Painter, is also leaving, to be replaced in the interim by another executive. Deducing from an official memo [first reported by TechCrunch], profitability is apparently the major reason for the layoffs, with Fair stating that it "must demonstrate a path to sustainable growth and profitability".

"As one of the pioneers in automotive fintech, we now need to focus on being a profitable company." Fair's memo said. "....While we are proud of our growth, we are here for the long term. This means that we’ve decided to take proactive steps now to ensure we are a profitable public company later." It read.

At a time investors have soured to money-losing startups, it's no surprise a company like Fair is taking strong measures to hit profitability, even when it entails cutting nearly…

Bill McDermott Lands New CEO Gig At ServiceNow

Just after stepping down from SAP where he served as CEO for 9 years, Bill McDermott has been announced as the new CEO of ServiceNow. McDermott will officially join ServiceNow as CEO by year-end, replacing current CEO John Donahoe, who is in turn taking the position of CEO at athletics powerhouse Nike, where he already holds a board seat. McDermott's new appointment means he's getting to head another large software company shortly after stepping down from another. Heading ServiceNow will add to his series of executive stints, which includes top positions at Siebel Systems, Gartner and Xerox alongside SAP.


McDermott is replacing Donahoe, who has been ServiceNow's CEO for only two years. Before joining ServiceNow, Donahoe held CEO roles at Bain & Company and eBay. Currently, he also holds the role of chairman at PayPal. At Nike, he's set to replace Mark Parker, who is stepping down after 13 years as CEO.

McDermott was co-CEO of SAP from 2010 to 2014, and served as i…

Revolut Taps Mastercard For U.S. Launch

Revolut has announced a partnership with payments giant Mastercard that'll enable it launch Revolut cards in the U.S. by the end of this year. The announcement happens to occur shortly after Revolut announced it's hiring 3,500 additional staff to expand into 24 new countries, starting in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and the U.S. Revolut is leveraging on two well-known payments firms for its planned expansion, having previously announced an extended partnership with payments company Visa to enable it expand into new markets. With Mastercard -- a Visa competitor -- now on board, Revolut seems to be in for a good ride in the financial services scene.

Just like Visa, Mastercard has also been a Revolut partner since 2015, the year it launched. Both payments companies have enabled Revolut to build out its payments network and issue cards to customers across Europe. Revolut's new announcement is an extended agreement with Mastercard that invol…

Apple Begins Selling Locally Assembled iPhone XRs In India

Apple has began selling iPhone XRs assembled in India, as indicated by boxes of the smartphone with an “Assembled in India” tag sighted on Monday at several of the country's electronics retailers. The sighted iPhone XRs starts from 49,900 Indian rupees ($704) for the 64 GB version, as first reported by Reuters. The “Assembled in India” iPhones corroborate a previous report that Foxconn, a well-known Apple supplier, was looking to start assembling high-end iPhones in India.

Apple assembling iPhones in India isn't quite surprising. Assembling locally is not only a way to avoid high levies usually placed on fully-imported devices, but could also be a way to meet local sourcing demands for Apple, which is said to be looking to open its first retail store in India. There's also an ongoing trade war between the U.S., where Apple is based, and China, where most of its phones are manufactured. Companies like Apple are looking to use India as an export hub to allay the impact of t…

Casper Said To Be Working With Banks On IPO

According to a Bloomberg report, Casper, an online mattress retailer valued at $1.1 billion earlier this year, is working with investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs on a U.S. initial public offering (IPO). Bloomberg reports the New York-based company could go public as soon as this year or the first half of next year. According to Bloomberg, Casper could be valued at more than its last private valuation ($1.1 billion) on the public markets.

Despite bleak performances of some high-profile IPOs this year, several companies are still aiming to public before this year's end. The bleak performances of some IPOs were fueled in part by substantial losses and concerns around growth potential of the newly-public companies. Casper had previously said it topped $400 million in revenue last year, but there's no word on if it's profitable or not.

The New York-based company seems to be aiming for significant growth, having expanded from selling just online mattresses to off…

Ford Debuts 12,000-Wide Charging Network In North America

Ford has announced the launch of a large charging network spanning 12,000 locations and 35,000 charging plugs in the North American continent, a charging network that easily makes for the largest in the region (based on publicly available information). The move is aimed at making it easier for customers to charge their Ford vehicles when the automaker begins delivering all-electric models next year. Ford touts the planned 12,000-wide charging network as "making public chargers as common as some of the most popular pharmacy or coffee chains."



Ford isn't actually building the charging network on its own, instead it's collaborating with EV charging companies Electrify America and Greenlots to create a charging network consisting of 35,000 charging plugs that users of its electric vehicles can be directed to via an app or an in-vehicle touch screen. Ford is preparing to launch fully electric vehicles (designed from the ground up) for the first time, as opposed to hybrid…

Report: Airbnb's Q1 Loss More Than Doubled To $306 Million

According to a report from The Information, Airbnb's operating loss in the first three months of this year more than doubled to $306 million, attributable in part to increased sales and marketing spend which The Information says was $367 million, a 58% increase from the same period last year. The Information reports Airbnb's sales and marketing spend surpassed that of any other category, including product development, which grew by 51% from the same period last year. Operations and support, which includes customer service, climbed 30% year-on-year according to The Information.


Citing undisclosed financial data, The Information reports Airbnb's revenue grew 31% year-over-year to $839 million, while expenses climbed 47%. Its report also says Airbnb has more than $3 billion in cash on its balance sheet despite the losses, and that it has a $1 billion line of credit it hasn't used.

Although increased sales and marketing spend could bring in lot of new businesses for Airbn…

Tesla Gets Clearance To Begin Manufacturing In China

Tesla has been added to a government list of approved automotive manufacturers in China, entailing it's been granted a license to begin producing cars in the country. China is the world's biggest electric vehicle market, so it's no surprise Tesla is doubling down on that region. Rather than having to export cars produced in the U.S., which are usually subject to tariffs, Tesla began constructing a new auto manufacturing facility; the Gigafactory 3, in December last year. The factory, located in Shanghai, is rumored to be heading for completion by year end.

Earlier this month, news outlet Reuters reported that Tesla targeted to begin producing cars at the Chinese factory this month. Although there's no certainty on that, Tesla just getting approval to begin producing in China sounds like a correlation to a situation where it'll begin rolling out cars from its Chinese factory in soon time. Tesla, whose Chinese factory is estimated to cost somewhere in the ballpark o…

EU Imposes Interim Restriction Order Against Broadcom

The European Union (EU) has issued an interim antitrust order against Broadcom, ordering the chip manufacturer to halt certain exclusivity deals it has with six customers. "Broadcom's behaviour would cause serious and irreparable harm to competition." the EU said in a press release that announced the antitrust order. Interim antitrust orders of this type are uncommon but applicable in some cases. Essentially, such orders are imposed when the EU observes actions by companies that it considers "at first sight to be illegal". It's sort of a temporary restrain, albeit one that gives the concerned company a right to defend itself before an official decision is taken.

The EU says it received information that Broadcom, which controls a significant share of the chipset industry, "may be imposing exclusivity and quasi-exclusivity restrictions on its customers in relation to some of its chipsets", and that such deals strengthen Broadcom's position in a…

Uber, Lyft Decline To Testify Before U.S. Congress

Uber and Lyft, the two biggest ride-hailing companies in the U.S., declined to appear today (Wednesday) at a U.S. Congress hearing on matters related to the ride-hailing industry, a congressional committee said. The two companies had been requested to appear as part of an inquiry from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a standing committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, on safety and labor practices in the ride-hailing industry. The inquiry happens to be at a time U.S. lawmakers are looking to pass legislation that will impact the ride-hailing industry.


In an official statement, Peter DeFazio, a U.S. rep who serves as chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, took a jab at Uber and Lyft, casting nets on several topics including increase in traffic congestion, labor issues, background checks, wages, and even sustainability of the ride-hailing business model. Uber and Lyft's "failure to appear at this hearing is a telling …

Level Home Emerges From Stealth With $71 Million In Funding

Key points:
Level Home has secured $71 million in funding from the likes of Walmart, real estate giant Lennar, and Hut 8 Ventures.Level Home's smart lock; the Level Lock, fits inside existing deadbolts, meaning it can convert any door to a smart oneThe Level Lock supports Apple HomeKitLevel Home was founded in 2016, and is based in San Francisco A new and seemingly interesting smart lock startup; Level Home, just emerged from stealth, with an announcement of $71 million in funding and a new product; the Level Lock (pictured above). Level Home's $71 million in funding comes from strategic investments led by Walmart and Lennar Homes, a Miami-based construction and real estate giant that's known to be the largest home-builder in the U.S. Level Home was founded in late 2016 by John Martin, who serves as CEO, and Ken Goto (CTO), two former Apple employees. It seems Apple employees have a thing for starting smart lock startups as another well-known smart lock startup; Latch, whi…

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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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…