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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 the China, basically meaning 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 th…

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…

Most Read Posts

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…