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Showing posts from May, 2020

YouTube Pledges $1 Million For Police Reform

In the wake of the recent death of George Floyd, a Minnesota-based man, from what was apparently a case of police brutality and an incident that has now led to massive protests across the US, mega video site YouTube has pledged to donate $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity, a non-profit research firm that basically works together with law enforcement agencies across the US to help improve local policing efforts. YouTube made its $1 million donation known in a Sunday tweet but didn't initially make mention of which organization the donation was headed to. Later on, in a brief YouTube post, the company revealed the donor receptor as the Center for Policing Equity.

We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice. — YouTube (@YouTube) May 30, 2020

The Center for Policing Equity is a research center that was founded at the University of California-Los Ange…

Jeff Bezos Backs UK Freight Startup

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos was among the investors in a $15 million Series A round raised by Beacon, a UK-based freight startup, as indicated by an announcement from the company. Another notable investor in the Series A is San Francisco-based venture capital firm 8VC. Beacon is a supply chain startup that provides real-time data on cargo delivery and also a marketplace for shipping services. The company was founded two years ago by two former Uber executives. Uber's two founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, alongside former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have previously invested in Beacon.

Jeff Bezos backing Beacon is notable, given that Amazon's mammoth e-commerce business relies majorly on a large and sophisticated supply chain to operate. Amazon could be a potential Beacon customer or partner, it seems. Bezos isn't new to investing in startups, having backed among other startups the likes of Convoy, Nextdoor, Sonder, Remitly, Grail, and Plenty.

With the Series A …

NASA Taps 8 Firms To Make Ventilators

In the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, NASA has vetted and formally selected eight companies that'll manufacture ventilators based on a recent design that was put together by engineers at the famed NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The prototype design, which was created by JPL engineers in 37 days, recently received an emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After receiving more than 100 applications, NASA has selected only eight to manufacture the new ventilator which is tailored for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

NASA's new ventilator is called VITAL, short for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally. It's designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, due in part to relying on parts readily available in global supply chains. It's simpler and more affordable, although less sophisticated than traditional ventilators. The new ventilator was developed by engineers who sought input from doctors…

SpaceX Sends Astronauts Into Orbit

Following a three-day delay that originated from inconvenient weather, SpaceX today attempted and successfully launched two NASA astronauts, by the names of Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, into the Earth's orbit en-route to the International Space Station (ISS). The successful launch marks the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. after nearly a decade of hiatus, given that the last time human astronauts launched from U.S. soil was in 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch rocket successfully launched the two NASA astronauts who were aboard a SpaceX Dragon re-usable spacecraft at about 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday. The launch took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

Some minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket, having launched the Dragon capsule into orbit, successfully glided back into the Earth and landed atop SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You drone ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, NASA's astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, a…

Tencent In Talks For Warner Music Stake

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal [paywall], Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks to purchase a minority stake in the Warner Music Group, an entertainment multinational that's notably one of the "big three" music recording companies globally. The Warner Music Group was a formerly publicly-traded company up until its sale to industrial group Access Industries in 2011. Fast-forward till now and Access Industries is looking to take the company public once again. It seems that ahead of its planned public listing, Access is looking to sell a minority stake in Warner to a private investor, which happens to be Tencent in this case. The Journal reports Tencent is discussing an investment of $200 million in the music recording company.

According to the Journal, the Warner Music Group aims to raise as much as $1.8 billion from its public offering, and with Tencent as a possible anchor investor. Warner is said to be targeting a valuation of between $11.7 billion…

Didi's AV Unit Nabs $500 Million Round

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has announced it's secured $500 million in funding for its autonomous vehicle (AV) subsidiary, which was spun off as an independent entity in August of last year. The funding, which was led by the second iteration of the SoftBank Vision Fund, apparently marks the largest single investment for a Chinese self-driving company. It comes not too long after another Chinese self-driving company,, secured $462 million in funding led by Japanese automaker Toyota, which is notably also an investor in Didi.

Didi first began developing and testing self-driving vehicles in 2016. With the new funding, the company says it'll deepen its investments in R&D as well as strategic industry partnerships. Currently, Didi has licenses to test autonomous vehicles in three Chinese cities as well as in the U.S. state of California. The company says it aims to deploy commercial self-driving fleets in select Chinese cities in future time.

The $500 milli…

Uber Introduces Hourly Rides

Following what was termed as a "successful pilot" across several countries, Uber has announced that it's formally introducing hourly rides for users at a cost of $50 per hour. The feature is targeted primarily at persons who require long rides to facilitate work and other related activities, a key example being delivery drivers. With the new feature, Uber riders will be able to pre-plan their trips rather than having to re-request a trip at each location they visit. To help ensure comfort, Uber says hourly riders will primarily ride in newer and more spacious vehicles.

Dubbed Uber Hourly, Uber is initially making the new feature available in select cities across the US, beginning on the 2nd of June.

Helbiz Debuts Rome's First E-Scooter Fleet

Helbiz, a New York City-based shared e-scooter company, has debuted the first-ever electric-scooter fleet in the Italian city of Rome, having been able to do so thanks to a formal partnership with the city. Helbiz will be launching a fleet of 1,000 shared e-scooters in Rome, which will add to the company's already existing fleet of 2,500 shared electric-bikes in the same city. The city of Rome has permitted shared electric bikes but not e-scooters up until this point. To use the e-scooters, Helbiz will charge customers its usual price of 1€ for the initial unlocking + 0.15€ for each minute of a ride. The company also offers a monthly subscription option that lets users unlimitedly ride its e-scooters or e-bikes provided the ride time is under or equal to 30 minutes.

Currently, Helbiz operates its shared e-bike and e-scooter services in more than 20 cities globally. The cities include Milan, Rome, Washington DC, Alexandria, Arlington, and Miami. Although based out of New York, Hel…

VMware's Q1 Results

Cloud computing company VMware just released its financial results for the first quarter of this year, indicating $2.7 billion in quarterly revenue, up 12% year-over-year. Net income for the quarter came at $386 million, up slightly from $380 million in the same quarter of last year. Operating cash flow for the quarter amounted to $1.37 billion. “In these unprecedented times, we delivered solid performance and strong execution in Q1 FY21,” VMware's CEO, Pat Gelsinger, noted in a press statement.

For the first quarter, VMware's Subscription and SaaS revenue grew 39% year-over-year, having amounted to $572 million. Licensing revenue also grew 16% year-over-year during the quarter.

Wipro Appoints New CEO

Indian tech outsourcing giant Wipro has announced its appointment of a new chief executive by the name of Thierry Delaporte, who was, before this appointment, notably the chief operating officer and a board member at French outsourcing multinational Capgemini. Delaporte's appointment is effective on the 6th of July, 2020. He's replacing Wipro's current CEO, Abidali Neemuchwala, who is stepping down from his position formally on the 1st of June, 2020.

Under Delaporte's role as CEO, he'll report to Wipro's current chairman, Rishad Premji, who is notably the son of the company's famed founder, Azim Premji. As Delaporte is heading to Wipro from a French company, it's no surprise that Wipro says he'll be based in the city Paris as chief executive, despite the fact that Wipro maintains its headquarters far away in Bengaluru, India.

Okta's Q1 Results

Cloud security company Okta has released its financial results for the first quarter of 2020, indicating $183 million in revenue, a 46% year-over-year increase, of which subscription revenue accounted for the majority of as is usual. Losses for the quarter, however, amounted to $52 million, around the same figure recorded in the same quarter last year. Net cash flow for the quarter amounted to a record of about $39 million.

For the second quarter of this year, San Francisco-based Okta is projecting revenue of between $185 million to $187 million and between $4 million to $5 million in losses. For the full fiscal year, the company expects revenue of between $770 million to $780 million, representing an expected year-over-year growth rate hovering around 30%.

As of April end, Okta's cash and cash equivalents stood at about $1.5 billion.

Cisco Snaps Up ThousandEyes

Cisco has reached a deal to acquire ThousandEyes, a cybersecurity startup based in San Francisco, as indicated by a recently released press statement. ThousandEyes is a cybersecurity startup that's funded by investors including Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Alphabet's GV, and Sutter Hill Ventures. Cisco didn't disclose the acquisition price in its press statement, but a report from Bloomberg that came a few hours before the release of the official press statement pegged the acquisition price at nearly $1 billion. Such a price seems like a very good deal, given ThousandEyes is known to have raised about $111 million in private funding since its inception. Such a price wouldn't also be surprising, given ThousandEyes early this year announced that it had surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

According to ThousandEyes, its revenue grew 80% year-over-year in its most recent fiscal year. ThousandEyes' flagship product is a network intelligenc…

Apex Legends Draws Record Viewers

Apex Legends, the popular 'battle royale' game published by gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts (EA), just kicked off its Season 5 update and apparently drew record viewers and players alike. In a press statement, Electronic Arts announced that Apex Legends Season 5 has driven the highest player retention that it's ever experienced for a season launch, with "players playing for longer periods of time per day than ever before." According to EA, trailers for Apex Legends Season 5 have drawn more than 47 million views till date.

Among other things, Apex Legends Season 5 introduced new features, content, and a new character into the popular battle royale game. Apex Legends aims to set itself apart from other battle royale games through unique storylines and content, bolstered by a sizeable development team in the cities of Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.

Currently, Apex Legends is known to have about 70 million registered players. The battle royale game notably att…

Gemini Teams Up With Samsung

Crypto exchange Gemini, which is led by famed tech twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics that entails integrating its crypto services with Samsung's own crypto wallet app. Thanks to the partnership, users of the Samsung Blockchain Wallet will be able to connect to Gemini to trade and as well store cryptocurrency. Gemini is notably the first cryptocurrency exchange to partner with Samsung.

The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is Samsung's own crypto wallet that's targeted primarily at mobile users. Samsung is apparently banking on a partnership with Gemini as one that can attract more users or better retain already registered users. The Samsung Blockchain Wallet is currently available for Samsung users but only on select Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which are the Galaxy S20 Series, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Note 10 Series, Galaxy Fold, and Galaxy S10 series.

"Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be w…

Zuora Poaches SAP Cloud CFO

Cloud-based subscription management company Zuora has poached the chief financial officer (CFO) of German software giant SAP's cloud division to become its own chief financial officer, effective on the 22nd of June, 2020. Redwood City, California-based Zuora made this known in a recent press statement. Todd McElhatton, who currently serves as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the SAP Cloud Business Group, will join Zuora to oversee its accounting and finance teams. Under his role, he'll report directly to Zuora's CEO, Tien Tzuo.

Todd McElhatton notably brings more than two decades of rich corporate finance leadership to Zuora's table. Over the span of his career, McElhatton has held finance roles at companies including SAP, Oracle, VMware, and HP. At all the aforementioned companies, he served as chief financial officer of several of its divisions but never as CFO of a whole company. Apparently, he'll now get to do that at Zuora, where he's …

Box Adds Carl Bass To Board

Cloud storage company Box has announced the addition of Carl Bass of Autodesk fame to its board. His appointment comes on the heels of the addition of another Box board member by the name of Bethany Mayer. Both board appointments apparently fall under an agreement made by Box with activist investor Starboard Value LP to add new independent directors to its board. Box has taken to add tech veterans to its board as part of the agreement.

Carl Bass most recently held the positions of president and CEO at engineering and construction software powerhouse Autodesk. Before that, he served as Autodesk's chief technology officer and chief operations officer. Altogether, Bass spent 24 years at Autodesk. In his career, Bass has co-founded not one but two companies that were acquired by Autodesk. First was Ithaca Software, which Autodesk acquired in 1993, followed by Buzzsaw, which Autodesk acquired in 2001.

Currently, Carl Bass also serves on the boards of other tech companies like Zendesk,…

Coinbase Snaps Up Tagomi

Crypto company Coinbase has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Tagomi, a New York-based cryptocurrency brokerage that has raised funding from the likes of Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Digital Currency Group, and 8VC's Joe Lonsdale. Tagomi is known to have raised $28 million in total funding since its inception. According to Forbes, Coinbase is ponying up between $75 million and $100 million to acquire Tagomi, and impressive is the fact that Tagomi launched only 18 months ago.

Coinbase is apparently acquiring Tagomi to boost its institutional crypto trading business. Having found sizeable success in the consumer crypto trading realm, Coinbase has turned to institutional trading to further bolster its business. Among the company's institutional services include crypto asset management, compliance services, and advanced trading capabilities such as margin trading. Coinbase says it's seen a swell in demand for its services from institutional investors over the pa…

KKR Sets Up $2.5 Billion Data Center Venture

Famed private equity firm KKR has announced it's embarking on a new data center venture via the formation of a new company, Global Technical Realty (GTR), a company will set up and offer data center services in Europe. KKR is committing $1 billion in equity for the venture, plus additional commitments over time that'll eventually add up to about $2.5 billion, according to a press statement.

The new company, GTR, will be led by Franek Sodzawiczny, a veteran data center entrepreneur who previously founded and led Zenium, a data center operator that was acquired in 2018 for about $442 million. Zenium was acquired by CyrusOne, a data center-focused real estate investment trust. Before founding Zenium, Sodzawiczny also co-founded Sentrum, a large U.K.-based data center operator.

GTR has initiated a partnership with Mercury Engineering, a European engineering contractor with deep experience in data center construction, to help design and develop data center products that'll cat…

Amazon In Talks To Acquire Zoox: Report

Amazon is in talks to acquire self-driving startup Zoox, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports Amazon and Zoox are negotiating a deal that would value Zoox at less than the $3.2 billion valuation which the company got in its last financing round. Zoox, which was founded in 2014, has as of late struggled to raise more funding despite already having raised some $955 million in funding. Developing self-driving cars is expensive, and even with nearly $1 billion raised, Zoox's total funding isn't on par with some of its peers such as GM Cruise, Alphabet's Waymo, and Ford's Argo AI. An Amazon acquisition would hypothetically give new life to Zoox, which as opposed to fitting already existing cars with self-driving equipment like many of its peers do, has decided to build its own self-driving cars from the ground up.

Amazon isn't new to the self-driving world, having led a $530 million financing round for Aurora Innovation, another well-…

Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey Back Apeel

Apeel Sciences, a Santa Barbara-based company that's developing technology to extend the freshness of produce and, in turn, reduce food waste, has announced it's raised $250 million in new financing led by GIC, notably the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, with participation from other investors including Upfront Ventures, Viking Global Investors, and celebrity backers Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry. The new financing values Apeel, an eight-year-old company, at more than $1 billion. Apeel Sciences was notably kickstarted in 2012 by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apeel has developed a plant-derived chemical solution that is applied to the surface of fruits and vegetables to help preserve them. Punningly, Apeel terms the plant-derived solution as adding an extra "peel" to the surface of fruits and vegetables. The company claims its solution is capable of doubling or even tripling the shelf life of many fresh produce types without the need for re…

Sony Debuts New Digital Camera

Popular electronics brand Sony has debuted yet another digital camera, this time a lightweight, pocket-sized digital camera called the ZV-1, which is primarily targeted at content creators. Among the camera's features include the ability to lock on to and track subjects and objects, high resolution, enhanced audio quality, and Bluetooth connectivity. The ZV-1 can also be transformed into a webcam by connection to a personal computer via USB.

The Sony ZV-1 weighs 294 grams and measures 105.5mm x 60.0mm x 43.5mm. Among its hardware parts include a 3.5mm standard mic jack, the latest Bionz X image processor, a wind-screen accessory that minimizes wind interference, a tiltable LCD screen, and a directional 3-capsule microphone made by Sony.

The ZV-1 will be released in early June for a slightly discounted price of $750. Beginning from the 28th of June, however, the retail price of the camera will be $800.

Insitro Nabs $143 Million Series B

Insitro, a San Francisco-based drug discovery startup, has announced $143 million in Series B funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from the likes of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, T. Rowe Price, BlackRock,  Alphabet's GV, Two Sigma Ventures, and Third Rock Ventures. Under the terms of the financing, Vijay Pande, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has taken a board seat at Insitro.

Insitro says it'll put the new funding towards building out its drug discovery technology, pursuing new drug discoveries, R&D, and establishing new partnerships. With this funding, Insitro has now raised a total of $243 million in equity financing since its inception.

Insitro is one of a series of drug discovery startups that have emerged recently and are capitalizing on the growth of machine learning techniques and resources globally. Basically, Insitro's work entails harnessing machine learning and data engineering techniques to help in drug dis…

SpaceX Set For Human Spaceflight

After months upon months of preparation, the famed aerospace company SpaceX is apparently set to launch human astronauts into space, its launch being the final major test required for SpaceX to be certified by NASA for operational manned crew missions to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX is ready for a final major test flight with two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, onboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This test flight notably marks the return of human spaceflight to the US, given that the last time a manned crew spaceflight launched from U.S. soil was in 2011.

SpaceX is set to launch its historic crewed spaceflight on Wednesday, the 27th of March, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida.

As planned, once the Dragon spacecraft docks at the International Space Station with the two astronauts on board, it's set to return back to the Earth atmosphere and splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, where it'll be quickly recovered an…

Bithumb Names New CEO

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has announced its appointment of a new CEO by the name of Back Young Heo, who has actually previously held the role of chief executive at Bithumb. Young Heo led Bithumb as CEO between the months of April to December 2018, a notably brief tenure, and is now back at the helm of the company. His appointment comes at a time when Bithumb is tightening and upgrading its anti-money-laundering efforts and policies.

In March of this year, the government of South Korea passed a bill to formally regulate cryptocurrency, a bill which stipulated that all Korean crypto exchanges comply with by March of next year. Bithumb is apparently putting much effort into being in compliance with the passed bill. The company says it plans to hire professionals with compliance experience in traditional finance and as well invest substantially in its anti-money-laundering and fraud detection efforts. Heo's appointment seems to be driven by Bithumb's efforts, g…

Sony Xperia 1 II Gets Release Date

Sony has announced a release date for its new flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1 II, the date being the 24th of July. Pre-sales for the new smartphone will begin on the 1st of June. The smartphone is priced at $1,200, a very premium price. People who pre-order the smartphone before the 28th of June will get free wireless noise-canceling earbuds made by Sony, the Sony WF-1000XM3in particular which is normally priced at $230.

Among the specifications and features of the Sony Xperia 1 II include:
A triple camera array6.5-inch 4K OLED screen4,000mAh battery with fast chargeQualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
The new smartphone succeeds the Sony Xperia 1, which launched in July of last year in the U.S. The Xperia 1 is priced at $950, about 20% less than the cost of its successor.

Fetch Rewards Poaches Groupon Veteran

Fetch Rewards, a Madison, Wisconsin-based mobile shopping startup, recently announced its appointment of a new chief product officer (CPO) by the name of David Jesse, a tech veteran who has previously worked at the likes of eBay, Gaia Interactive, and Groupon. Jesse most notably worked at Groupon, having been the company's first head of product management and design. Under that role, he helped scale Groupon from a relatively smaller startup to one with tens of millions of users and billions of dollars running through its platform.

Prior to Groupon, Jesse served as a Vice President at Gaia Interactive, a San Jose-based gaming company. Prior to Gaia, he spent seven years at eBay in a variety of roles. His appointment at Fetch comes on the heels of the company poaching another tech veteran, by the name of David Berk, to serve as is chief technology officer (CTO). Berk joined Fetch from grocery delivery company Shipt where he also held the CTO position. Shipt is notably one of the to…

US Blacklists Many More Chinese Firms

The United States Department of Commerce has blacklisted some 33 more Chinese companies and organizations over alleged ties to human rights abuses and Chinese military activities. The Department of Commerce announced the blacklists in two separate press statements, the first on alleged ties to military activities and the other on alleged ties to human rights abuses. Precisely, nine Chinese entities were blacklisted on alleged ties to human rights abuses, with the remaining twenty-four on alleged ties to military activities. Among the blacklisted entities included well-known Chinese technology companies like CloudMinds, Qihoo 360, and NetPosa.

CloudMinds is a Chinese robotics company that develops both robots of its own and software that helps power other robots. As a company, CloudMinds has raised more than $300 million in funding from investors including SoftBank and Foxconn. Qihoo 360 is a publicly-traded internet security company that makes money by advertising and offering premiu…

Triplebyte Wants To Make Private Info Public

Triplebyte is a fairly popular job site primarily targeted at software engineers. An alumnus of famed startup accelerator Y Combinator, Triplebyte, a San Francisco-based company, has raised some $48 million in total funding. Triplebyte's service is fairly simple; you take a technical test, get assessed, and then depending on your performance, you're placed on a list where you can get noticed by software companies that Triplebyte charges for access to that list. Triplebyte can be described as an online staffing firm but primarily for software engineers.

Recently, Triplebyte decided to engage in something that didn't go well with many. The company has apparently decided to take on LinkedIn with its own business and employment-oriented online network and to do that, it wants to make private profiles on its platform -- which are the profiles currently only accessible by its enterprise customers -- public, with the option of opting out. Triplebyte recently sent out emails anno…

Reliance Jio Raises $1.5 Billion From KKR

US-based private equity firm KKR has announced that it's reached a deal to invest about 115 billion Indian Rupees ($1.5 billion) in Reliance Jio, an Indian telecom outfit led by famed businessman Mukesh Ambani. KKR's newly announced investment comes on the heels of another private equity firm, General Atlantic, having reached a deal to invest $870 million in Reliance Jio. Over the past few weeks, US-based companies including Facebook, Silver Lake Partners, and Vista Equity Partners have also reached respective deals to invest sizeable amounts in Reliance Jio. Altogether, including KKR's deal, Reliance Jio has secured some $10.3 billion in funding over the past four weeks, with more than half of that ($5.7 billion to be precise) coming from Facebook.

Reliance Jio is the telecom outfit of famed Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. The telecom outfit debuted in 2016 and has captured nearly 400 million users in a relatively short span. Investors are apparently betting on …

Nvidia Reports Record Data Center Sales

Chip company Nvidia just reported its financial results for the first quarter of this year, indicating a record of $1 billion in data center quarterly sales for the first time ever. During the quarter in total, Nvidia recorded roughly $3 billion in revenue, up 39% year-over-year. Also in the same quarter, Nvidia paid dividends of $98 million.

Record data center revenues look very good for Nvidia, as the segment is beginning to account for a larger slice of the company's total sales. For long, most of Nvidia's sales have originated from one segment, being gaming. Adding yet another segment in the form of data center sales will apparently boost investor confidence in Nvidia's business prospects because as they say, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Datacenter operators have long continued to push new chips into their servers to increase usage capabilities and Nvidia happens to produce a significant number of the chips used by such operators. The Santa C…'s Valuation Jumps To $2.7 Billion

The valuation of, a privately-held Israeli SaaS company, has jumped to $2.7 billion after a secondary share sale by some of the company's existing investors, as first reported by Bloomberg. A $2.7 billion valuation implies a 42% jump from's last private valuation of $1.9 billion. is an internet-based workspace collaboration tool and has seen increased demand due to a coronavirus pandemic that has led many to work primarily online. Such is the case that growth linked to the pandemic has “accelerated” the company's plans to double its workforce by the end of this year, according to a statement from its CEO, Roy Mann.

Currently, has over 10,000 paying enterprise customers across over 180 countries. The company is known to have raised some $234 million in equity funding since its inception. Notable investors in include Sapphire Ventures, Stripes Group, Hamilton Lane, Insight Partners, and HarbourVest Partners.

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Velodyne Aims For Reverse Public Listing

Velodyne, the lidar manufacturer backed by among others Ford and Chinese search giant Baidu, is in talks for a reverse listing with Graf Industrial Corp in order to debut on the public markets, according to a source familiar with the matter. Graf is working with an adviser on a possible merger with Velodyne, according to our source. Last year, Velodyne was reported to have hired bankers to spearhead a possible public listing but it seems the company has decided to take the "backdoor" method of going public by merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (SPAC). SPACs, in this case, are corporate entities taken public for the sole purpose of merging with another private company.

As a private company, Velodyne has raised some $225 million in funding. The company's last-known private funding gave it a valuation of $1.8 billion, a valuation Velodyne may be seeking to surpass on the public markets. Graf Industrial, the intended SPAC for Velodyne, held an initial pu…

Xpeng Begins P7 Deliveries

Just a short while after unveiling a new electric sports sedan named the P7, Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has begun making deliveries, notably a few weeks after the company formally opened a new factory to produce the new vehicle. Production has apparently begun at the newly opened plant and Xpeng says it aims to produce 100,000 P7 sedans annually. Xpeng surely moves fast, being a company founded only six years ago. The China-based company launched and begun making deliveries of its first vehicle, the G3 SUV, in 2018, four years after its launch. The P7 sports sedan is the company's second-ever vehicle. A picture below gives an encouraging look of a large number of P7 sedans awaiting delivery into customers' hands;

The Xpeng P7 costs anywhere between $32,000-$49,000 "post-subsidies", quoting Xpeng. It's available in 3 versions and 8 configurations. The vehicle's best feature happens to be its range, which Xpeng pegs at up to 706km on full-charge. T…

Tesla Now World's Most Valuable Carmaker

Electric car maker Tesla has been on a tear as of late, with its share price having shot past $1,100 a pop and given the company status as the world's most valuable automaker. Currently (as of writing), Tesla has a market capitalization hovering around $208 billion, beating the likes of Ford, GM, and Toyota which actually manufacture way more cars and mint much more revenue. Before now, Toyota had been the automaker with the largest public market capitalization. Toyota (as of writing) has a market capitalization hovering around $203 billion, a bit lower than Tesla's.

Investors seem to be drooling for Tesla shares given its valuation despite minting lesser revenue than other traditional automakers. For a quick comparison, Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles last year while Toyota delivered 10 million, about 27 times Tesla's. Investors seem to have much courage in Tesla's future potential, given it's a company that only debuted on the public markets 10 years ago. The l…

DoJ Indicts VC Michael Rothenberg

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an indictment of investor Michael Rothenberg, a once high-flying venture capitalist whose wings seemingly got clipped after the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) accused him of misappropriating $19 million of investors' funds. Rothenberg was slapped with more than $31 million in fines from the SEC as a result, but it appears authorities are still pushing for more, as the Justice Department has filed charges of fraud against him. The DoJ alleges Mike Rothenberg "orchestrated multiple schemes to defraud his victims", victims, in this case, being investors in Rothenberg Ventures, the eponymous venture capital firm Rothenberg founded.

The Justice Department accuses Rothenberg of bank fraud and defrauding investors. As for bank fraud, it's alleged that Rothenberg made false statements about his wealth to his bank while refinancing his home mortgage and obtaining a personal loan. As to allegedly defrauding investor…

Peloton Launches On Roku

Fitness sensation Peloton has formally launched its app on the Roku streaming platform, entailing its live fitness classes can now be streamed by Roku users in the comfort of their homes. The Peloton channel has been made available on the Roku Channel Store, enabling users to stream live fitness sessions for a fee. Payments will be processed on the Roku Pay platform, making signing up much easier for users. Existing Peloton subscribers can also automatically log-in using their credentials and gain access to live fitness sessions.

The coronavirus pandemic has largely driven people away from public gyms towards home fitness activities, and such, online fitness streaming activity has seemingly shot through the roof. According to Roku, streaming on its Health & Fitness category grew more than 130% in May alone. Peloton happens to be a benefit of the large pivot towards home fitness, thanks to its stationary bikes and treadmills with live-streamed fitness sessions that have garnered a…

Uber Reaches To Buy Postmates: Report

Uber is in talks to acquire food-delivery competitor Postmates in a $2.6 billion deal, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, which notes that a deal could be announced by next week or even sooner. Postmates has been said to be targeting an initial public offering but while also shopping itself around to potential buyers. Uber is notably fresh off an attempt to acquire Grubhub, another food delivery competitor which was, however, sold to British food delivery company Just Eat

Postmates has raised about $900 million in funding so far, valued at $2.4 billion as of its last funding round. The company had confidentially filed for a public listing in February of last year but didn't follow up with a public filing. In the past, Postmates is said to have shopped itself to companies including Walmart and food-delivery competitor DoorDash. Postmates is known to be unprofitable, so the public markets may not favor the company as much as a private sale and it seem…

TuSimple Seeks New Funding

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is seeking up to $250 million in new funding and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to help it raise that amount, as first reported by TechCrunch. Morgan Stanley is said to have sent out informational packets to potential investors in a bid to seek funding for TuSimple. Already, TuSimple has raised about $300 million in total funding but happens to be seeking more. The San Diego-based company last raised funding in September of last year.

TuSimple was founded in 2015, at a time when most of the self-driving industry was focused on passenger cars rather than big trucks. The company has managed to secure significant funding and attention since then, with backers including UPS, CDH Investments, and China's Sina Corp. Although based out of San Diego, TuSimple currently tests on public roads in the state of Arizona and also in Shanghai, China. The company is aiming to make a dent in the $800 billion U.S. trucking industry.

As of its last fundi…

Amazon Hands Bonuses To Frontline Workers

The coronavirus pandemic largely boosted the need for e-commerce and, in turn, the fortunes of Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon. It's such that Amazon hired 175,000 additional people to keep up with increased demand. Now, Amazon has announced it's doling out $500 million in combined bonuses to its frontline workers, who were employed at the company throughout the month of June. The bonus is divided into various grades, including $500 for full-time warehouse workers, $250 for part-time warehouse workers, $1,000 for warehouse leads, $3,000 for delivery service partners, and $150 for each Amazon Flex driver who drove more than 10 hours in June. The bonuses for warehouse workers also covers Whole Foods employees.

The bonus dole-out was announced by Dave Clark, Amazon's famed logistics chief, who has been instrumental in setting up and overseeing the company's mammoth logistics operations. Amazon dubs the bonus as a "Thank You" bonus for its workers, many of…

Tesla Delivered 90,650 Vehicles In Q2

As anticipated, Tesla just released its production numbers for the second quarter of this year and indicated it delivered 90,650 vehicles, a slight (4.8%) drop from the previous quarter. Tesla actually managed to beat expectations despite a pandemic that led it to suspend operation for weeks at its main production facility. The majority (80,050) of Tesla's deliveries were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, its less expensive models, while Model S and Model X vehicles, the more expensive ones, accounted for a minority (10,600).

Analysts had anticipated lower delivery numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with some even forecasting as low as 39,000 deliveries in this quarter. A concord of analysts polled by FactSet indicated an average forecast of 72,000 vehicle deliveries for the quarter.

The release of Tesla's latest production results comes on the heels of the company surpassing Japanese automaker Toyota to become the world's most valuable automaker.

Pharrell Williams Eyes Venture Investing

It seems celebrities across the U.S. have heard of good fortunes being reaped in the world of venture investing and are out to get their own share. Many music, movies, and sports bigwigs, including the likes of Kevin Durant, Lebron James, The Chainsmokers, Snoop Dogg, and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, have slightly ventured away from their main business into investing in tech startups, some reaping sizeable returns as a result. Now, it seems another celebrity is about to join, as The Information [paywall] reports that famed musician Pharell Williams is teaming up with Ron Conway, a prominent angel investor, to launch a venture fund that'll mainly target startups led by underrepresented minorities.

The Information reports Pharell Williams and Ron Conway are currently in discussions with limited partners for the new fund, which is notably being planned on the heels of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism across the US. Venture funds that primarily target startup…