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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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Nikola Raises $250 Million At A $3 Billion Valuation

Nikola, a formerly Utah but now Phoenix-based manufacturer of hydrogen-electric vehicles, has courted a $250 million Series D investment out of a targeted $1 billion raise. CNH Industrial, one of the world's largest capital goods companies, made the investment at a $3 billion pre-money valuation. The $250 million figure actually comprises of $100 million in cash and $150 million in services like product development, manufacturing engineering, and other forms of technical assistance that CNH will provide to Nikola.

CNH Industrial owns FPT Industrial, a leading manufacturer of powertrains for large vehicles, and Iveco, a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks. These two firms will provide strategic expertise for Nikola, which is known mainly for its hydrogen-electric (fuel cell) trucks. Iveco and FPT will provide engineering and manufacturing services to industrialize Nikola’s fuel-cell powered electric trucks, under the terms of CNH's investment. For example, Nikola has made pla…

Rivian Raises $1.3 Billion In Additional Funding

Not long after raising $500 million from Ford and an additional $350 million from Cox Automotive, electric car startup Rivian has announced $1.3 billion in new funding led by T. Rowe Price, with participation from BlackRock and existing investors Ford and Amazon. The additional investment is the fourth Rivian has raised this year, and comes a few months after Amazon announced it'll purchase 100,000 vehicles from the company as part of plans to make its delivery fleet run on renewable energy.

The additional investment brings the total raised by Rivian this year to a whooping $2.85 billion. In a statement, Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe praised the investment as demonstrating "confidence in our team, products, technology and strategy". With the investment, Rivian now stands as one of the top-most financed electric car upstarts in what seems like a crowded market.

Rivian plans to begin selling vehicles next year, which may explain the additional funding at the tail-end…

Apple Lowers Guidance For Fiscal 2019 First Quarter

Going by a recently released letter to investors by Apple CEO Tim Cook, The company has lowered revenue guidance for its fiscal 2019 first quarter which ended on the 29th of December, citing lower than expected iPhone sales in China and "emerging market challenges".

It now expects revenue of approximately $84 billion, a gross margin of approximately 38%, operating expenses of approximately $8.7 billion, other income/(expense) of approximately $550 million and a tax rate of approximately 16.5 percent before discrete items for this period.


In the letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook blames this on two key factors - "emerging market challenges" and lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, the latter which it says accounts for all of revenue shortfall to guidance and more than its entire year-over-year revenue decline. Cook noted that sales outside of the iPhone (Services, Mac, iPad, Wearables/Home/Accessories) combined grew almost 19% from last year.

Darktrace Could Be Heading For An IPO

Darktrace, a U.K. cybersecurity startup that was valued at $1.65 billion after raising funding last year, could be looking towards a public offering, indicated by a closeness to naming a chief financial officer, Bloomberg reports. Companies looking to go public typically appoint a CFO, usually of high-profile, to take on the role of spearheading the company's finances in preparation for a voyage on the public markets. Also, with $231 million in funding and a high valuation to go along, Darktrace seems like a company that's ready to hit the public markets, especially if it's found stability in its business model.

In an interview, Darktrace co-founder and co-CEO Poppy Gustafsson said the company added about 400 employees in the past year, and expects to keep growing at a similar rate. However, she also noted that Darktrace hasn't made a firm decision regarding debuting on the public markets, and said the company doesn't require additional investment for its expansio…

Brief: Dropbox Soars On Q4 Result

File hosting company Dropbox just released its financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2019, reporting $446 million in revenue, up 19% from the same period last year. For the entire year, Dropbox recorded $1.66 billion in revenue, up 19% year-over-year. In light of the results, Dropbox shares rose as much as 16% during trading on Thursday.

As of 2019 end, Dropbox had 14.3 million paying users, compared to 12.7 million as of the end of 2018. Average revenue per user amounted to $125, compared to roughly $120 in the previous year. As of 2019 end, Dropbox had $1.16 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, slightly more than $1.09 billion as of the end of 2018.

As for losses, Dropbox recorded $6.6 million in losses in 2019, down from $9.5 million in 2018.

Dropbox has also authorized up to $600 million in share repurchases, representing less than 7% of its market cap as of writing.





Intel Scoops Up Habana Labs For $2 Billion

Intel has announced it has acquired Habana Labs, an Israel-based startup that makes AI chips. The semiconductor giant is paying roughly $2 billion for Habana, one year after leading a $75 million Series B investment in the company. The acquisition represents another score for Habana co-founder and chairman Avigdor Willenz, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and led Galileo Technology (acquired for $2.7 billion by Marvell Technologies) and Annapurna Labs (acquired for $350 million by Amazon). Unsurprisingly, both companies were chip makers, crowning Willenz as a whizz in the chip-making sector with sequential successful exits.

Prior to this acquisition, Habana had raised $120 million in funding from investors including Intel Capital, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and WRV Capital. As of November last year (when it last raised funding), Tel Aviv-based Habana had just over 120 employees. The company was founded in 2016, and maintains only two offices globally, one…

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…

Uber And Hyundai Debut Flying Taxi Concept

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai and Uber unveiled a flying car concept that's aimed for use in the "Uber Elevate" initiative, an initiative that's targeted at aerial ridesharing with custom air taxis made by partners to enable that. Hyundai is the first automaker to join Uber Elevate, whose previous partners were all electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturers. Uber aims to launch an aerial ridesharing network by 2023, and has already partnered with seven aircraft makers to enable that.

Hyundai's new concept air taxi vehicle is dubbed "S-A1" and has specifications similar to that of previous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft unveiled by other Uber Elevate partners. It'll be 100% electric, be piloted initially but with plans to later make them autonomous, and is designed with four passenger seats to allow riders board and disembark easily. It's des…

Cloudflare Files For IPO

Not long after a previous report that said Cloudflare was eyeing a September IPO, the San Francisco-based CDN provider has filed for that with the SEC, meaning an IPO next month may just be happening. Cloudflare's S-1 filing comes a decade after its first funding. The company recorded $192.7 million in 2018 revenue, but with an $87.2 million net loss. This is up from $135 million revenue in 2017 and a $10.7 million net loss for the same period.

In the first half of this year, Cloudflare recorded $129.2 million in revenue, but still with losses of $36.8 million. Other key takes from its S-1 filing include:
$94.4 million sales and marketing spend in 2018, up 54% from $62 million in 2017$54.5 million R&D spend in 2018, compared to $33.7 million in 2017Roughly $125 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Q2 end (June 30, 2019)74,000 paying customers as of Q2 endTwo million total [free and paying] customers408 paying customers with annual billings of more than $100,000 (as of Q2…

Reddit Has Begun Tests For Live Video Streaming

As confirmed by Reddit to Wired, the widely called "front page of the internet" has begun tests for live video streaming, marking a significant moment for what has been majorly a text-only platform. In its 14 year history, Reddit has grown from an initial link-sharing site to a destination for online discussion, news aggregation and web content rating. Reddit is so popular and widely used that it's the 14th most visited website globally, according to Alexa data.

Allowing live streaming on its platform shows Reddit is really keen on a turnaround since co-founder Steve Huffman re-joined the company in 2015. With most major social media platforms currently supporting live streaming, it's obvious that it's somewhat necessary for a widely used platform to support live video. Reddit is known for being an internet property with boatloads of user engagement. With the addition of live video streaming, it could be looking towards a spike in both [an already large] user en…