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Showing posts from February, 2020

Procore Files To Go Public

Procore, a Carpinteria, California-based construction tech startup valued at $3 billion by investors, has filed to go public with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), corroborating a previous report of the company having courted investment bank Goldman Sachs to arrange an initial public offering (IPO). Unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs is a lead underwriter for Procore's IPO, alongside investment banks J.P. Morgan, Barclays, and Jefferies.

Procore's S-1 filing indicates $289 million in revenue and $83 million in losses for the full year ended December 31, 2019. This compares with $186 million in revenue and $56.7 million in losses in the previous year, and $112 million in revenue and $55.5 million in losses the year before that.

Sales and marketing account for the bulk of Procore's business costs, with the company having spent $173 million in 2019, $113 million in 2018, and $78 million in 2017 on that area. Research and development also make up a significant par…

Managed By Q Buyback By Founder Said To Stall

According to a Bloomberg report, a planned re-sale of Managed by Q -- a startup acquired by co-working company WeWork last year -- back to its founder amid cost-cutting efforts is said to have stalled even after official talks began, with WeWork opting to sell it to a company instead. Bloomberg reports Managed by Q co-founder Dan Teran alongside a group of investors were already in talks to re-purchase the startup from WeWork for less than $55 million, way less than the $220 million WeWork is said to have coughed up to acquire it last year. However, that deal may have included WeWork shares, which have since declined in value, meaning the actual amount could be much less than the $220 million figure.

According to Bloomberg, WeWork is opting instead to sell Managed by Q, which develops office management software, to Eden Technologies, a company that has previously competed with Managed by Q. Bloomberg reports Eden offered a price more than what Managed by Q co-founder Teran and his gr…

DoorDash Confidentially Files To Go Public

DoorDash has announced it has confidentially submitted a draft registration for an initial public offering (IPO) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), corroborating long-time tittle-tattles of the food delivery company looking to go public this year. Tech companies in many cases first confidentially file with the SEC in the case of an intended IPO, with a public filing coming soon after. The time frame from a confidential filing to a public offering is conventionally not too long, meaning a DoorDash IPO could be coming in a matter of months.

DoorDash was previously reported to be considering a direct listing, that is, directly offering shares to the public without the aid of intermediaries. A direct listing also entails no new capital being raised by a company that takes such a path. Also, DoorDash was previously reported to be in discussions with banks for a credit facility of about $400 million ahead of an IPO.

DoorDash isn't the only tech company prepping to …

HeadSpin Raises $60 Million, Arora Joins Board

HeadSpin, a Palo Alto-based startup that develops software to aid performance of mobile apps, has announced $60 million in Series C funding led by Dell Technologies Capital and ICONIQ Capital, with participation from Tiger Global, Kearny Jackson, and Alpha Square Group alongside a host of angel investors, to name a few, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, Facebook’s Kevin Weil and Andrea Moore, Uber’s Manik Gupta, Caviar’s Gokul Rajaram, Spotify’s John Bonten and Stripe's Amber Feng.

The new funding brings the total raised by HeadSpin to $117 million and values it at $1.16 billion. Alongside the investment, HeadSpin also announced the appointment of Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora to its board.

HeadSpin, which launched in 2015, says it has doubled its annual revenue year-over-year since that year. The company currently boasts more than 1,000 enterprise customers, including notable names like Microsoft, Airbnb, Walmart, Uber, ByteDance, BYJUs, and Bandai Namco.

In just four years of exist…

Brief: Salesforce Acquires Vlocity, Leads Investment In ServiceMax

CRM giant Salesforce has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Vlocity, a San Francisco-based startup that develops industry-specific cloud and mobile software based on Salesforce's platform. Salesforce is paying $1.33 billion for the company, which had raised $163 million in total funding and was valued at up to $1 billion by its investors. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's fiscal 2021.

Vlocity last raised funding in March last year, having secured a $60 million Series C round led by Sutter Hill Ventures and unsurprisingly, Salesforce Ventures. Salesforce has quite a history of acquiring companies it previously invested in. Other examples of this kind include Quip and MapAnything.

In addition to acquiring Vlocity, Salesforce, via its venture arm, also just led $80 million in Series C funding for ServiceMax alongside famed tech investor Silver Lake. ServiceMax, a Pleasanton, California-based developer of field servi…

Toyota Leads $462 Million Round For Pony.ai

Self-driving startup Pony.ai has announced $462 million in new funding led by Toyota that values it at "just over" $3 billion. Toyota provided $400 million of the investment and has committed to deepening collaboration between itself and Pony.ai. Toyota seems to be keen on betting big on automotive-related startups, with this funding coming just shortly after the Japanese automaker led a $590 million Series C investment in Joby Aviation, an electric air taxi startup.

Pony.ai and Toyota actually initiated a joint self-driving pilot in August last year. Pony.ai has been testing a robo-taxi pilot service in Guangzhou, China since late 2018. The company, founded by former Baidu executive James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, an ex Baidu-engineer who also worked on self-driving tech previously at Google, also rolled out a robo-taxi pilot in the state of California in November last year.
Toyota isn't the only automaker Pony.ai has collaborated with. The self-driving startup was also …

Fox Corp Said To Be In Talks To Snap Up Tubi

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, media house Fox Corp is in talks to acquire streaming service Tubi in a deal that could value it at more than $500 million. The report notably comes a few months after Tubi was reported to be in talks to raise $150 million in new funding.

San Francisco-based Tubi is one out of several ad-supported streaming services out there. It's available in the US, Canada, and Australia, with more than 20,000 movies and television shows from several Hollywood Studios on its platform. Tubi currently works with more than 250 content partners, to name a few, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Lionsgate. In a recent press release, the San Francisco-based company said it'll boost its content spending this year to over nine figures.

Tubi had 229 employees as of 2019 end, a 78% increase from its 2018 headcount. The company has said it'll add more employees as it works towards both domestic and international expansion.

Fox Corp, the reported acqui…

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.





Brief: Goldman Sachs Leads $120 Million Series E For Flywire

Flywire, a Boston, Massachusetts-based payments startup, has announced $120 million in Series E funding led by banking giant Goldman Sachs. The company also announced that it has acquired Simplee, a Palo Alto-based company that develops payment systems for the healthcare industry.

The Series E funding brings the total amount raised by Flywire to $260 million. Alongside Goldman, new investors Tiger Management and Adage Capital Management participated in the funding also alongside other existing investors. The investment is said to value Flywire at more than $1 billion.

Flywire develops cross-border payment systems that are tailored for customers in the healthcare, education, travel, and business sectors. The company has processed more than $12 billion in payments for more than 2,000 clients globally since inception.

Armed with its new acquisition, Simplee, Flywire says it'll power payments for four of the top ten US healthcare systems representing more than $10 billion in annual p…

Essential To Cease Operations

Essential Products, a smartphone startup founded by Android creator and former Google executive Andy Rubin, has announced it'll be ceasing operations and winding down after struggling to win customers in a highly competitive smartphone market. The Palo Alto-based company, which was founded in 2015, had raised $330 million in funding (Crunchbase data) from well-known investors such as Tencent, Amazon, and Redpoint prior to this announcement.

Essential's first product was an Android smartphone dubbed PH-1. It was announced in 2017 but discontinued a year later amid reports of poor sales. Essential began working on another unique kind of smartphone dubbed "Project GEM", which was unveiled late last year but hadn't gone into production and apparently won't given Essential is shutting down.



"Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers." Essential's announcement said. &q…

Brief: Casper Surges In Public Market Debut

Online mattress retailer Casper, which filed for an initial public offering (IPO) early last month, just made its debut on the public markets, surging more than 20% from its opening share price despite a lowered valuation from its previous target. Before going public, Casper cut its IPO target share price from between $17 to $19 to between $12 to $13. The $12-$13 share price range implied a valuation hovering around $500 million, way below its last private valuation of $1.1 billion.

Casper posted $312 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2019 but with a $67 million loss in the same period. The company spends heavily on sales and marketing, with the segment making up most of its expenses. Casper, although a pioneer of the direct-to-consumer online mattress industry, is facing competition from a host of similar startups capitalizing on the same trend. In fact, by one count, there are 175 of such startups with very similar offerings.

There's really no strong barrier to ent…

FTC Sues To Block Harry's Acquisition

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed suit to block the acquisition of razor startup Harry's by Edgewell Personal Care. The FTC made this known in a recent announcement that termed Harry's' acquisition as one that "would eliminate one of the most important competitive forces in the shaving industry". "The loss of Harry’s as an independent competitor would remove a critical disruptive rival that has driven down prices and spurred innovation in an industry that was previously dominated by two main suppliers, one of whom is the acquirer." The FTC's statement said.

Edgewell Personal Care entered a deal to acquire Harry's for $1.37 billion in May last year. The acquisition happened to come a few years after consumer goods giant Unilever acquired one of Harry's main competitors, Dollar Shave Club, for $1 billion. That acquisition went smoothly, encountering no known regulatory hurdles on its way to completion.

Edgewell is one of a few…

Brief: Asana Confidentially Files To Go Public

Asana, a San Francisco-based software startup led by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, has announced that it has confidentially filed an S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to hold a public listing. Its filing comes on the heels of another San Francisco-based firm, albeit a primary care one, One Medical, holding a successful public listing.

According to news site Axios, a spokesperson for Asana confirmed the company would be going public via a direct listing, an alternative route that entails holding a public listing without an underwritten public offering or issuance of new shares as is conventionally done. If it does so, Asana will be the third company to take that route, the other two being Spotify and Slack.

Airbnb, another IPO candidate for this year, is also rumored to be considering a direct listing, hinting of the alternative route being one that may become more common in future time.

Asana has raised some $213 million in total funding (Crunchbase d…

Brief: Goldman Sachs Said To Eye SMB Loans Tie-Up With Amazon

According to a report from the Financial Times, Goldman Sachs is in talks with Amazon to begin offering small-business loans via the e-commerce giant's lending platform. For those not in the know, Amazon operates a lending platform that has existed for years and is adopted as a way to strengthen its ties with small businesses. The loans facilitated through Amazon's platform are used mostly to provide Amazon.com merchants with funding needed to obtain inventory.

According to the Financial Times, Goldman Sachs has begun building out technology that would let it offer loans on Amazon's lending platform and could launch the project as soon as next month, March. Such plans conform with Goldman's plan to diversify, with the company fresh off its investor day, when it pitched embracing the conventional bank model (Goldman Sachs is mainly an investment bank) as it adjusts to a new era where conventional growth engines such as trading don't assure it a top Wall Street stan…

Brief: Darktrace Appoints New CFO

British cyber-security startup Darktrace has announced the appointment of a new CFO by name of Catherine Graham. Graham's appointment is effective beginning from 10th February. Her appointment comes amid reports that Darktrace could be on its way to an initial public offering (IPO).

Graham is a seasoned financial executive with more than two decades of professional experience under her belt. She has held leadership positions at several businesses through periods of fast growth and led four successful IPOs, including that of ed-tech company 2U. She served as CFO at 2U for eight years, leading its capital structure growth during her tenure.

Prior to 2U, Graham was also the founding CFO of Via Net.Works, an internet services provider that raised $186 million in venture capital before going public in early 2000.

“I am delighted to welcome Cathy to Darktrace,” Darktrace CEO Nicole Eagan said in a statement. “As we begin to see real-world attacks leveraging offensive AI, customer deman…

A16z Leads $10 Million Round For Neighbor.com

Neighbor.com, a Utah-based peer-to-peer self-storage startup, has announced $10 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z), with participation from Uber early employee Ryan Graves and Tonal co-founder Nate Bosshard. Under the terms of Andreessen Horowitz's investment, its managing partner, Jeff Jordan, is joining Neighbor.com's board. Jordan notably serves on the boards of Airbnb, Instacart, Lime, and Pinterest. He also previously held executive roles at eBay, PayPal, and OpenTable.

Neighbor.com is betting on peer-to-peer storage as a way to gain ground in the $40 billion U.S. self-storage market. Its method entails connecting "renters" in need of storage space with "hosts" in their neighborhood who are willing to lease extra space in their home or garage to store stuff. From college students storing a box in a neighbor's closet to homeowners storing cars in their third car garage, Neighbor provides a way for property o…

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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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…