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Showing posts from June, 2020

Bozoma Saint John Heads To Netflix

Famed marketing executive Bozoma Saint John has been appointed as the new chief marketing officer (CMO) of streaming giant Netflix, replacing current executive Jackie Lee-Joe who took on Netflix's CMO role in July of last year. She's apparently leaving after barely a year on the job, to be replaced by Bozoma Saint John who is joining from entertainment conglomerate Endeavor. At Endeavor, she currently holds the role of chief marketing officer. Before Endeavor, she had stints at Apple and Uber.

“I’m thrilled to join Netflix, especially at a time when storytelling is critical to our global, societal well-being. I feel honored to contribute my experience to an already dynamic legacy, and to continue driving engagement in the future.” Bozoma Saint John said in a statement that announced her appointment. She's notably joining Netflix after a two-year stint at Endeavor.

Bozoma Saint John shot to fame as a marketing executive at Apple Music, where she joined from luxe audio equi…

Discord Nabs $100 Million In New Funding

Popular chat app Discord has raised $100 million in new funding at a valuation of $3.5 billion, as first reported by Forbes. The fundraise coincides with Discord's plan to pivot away from a gaming-centric chat app into day-to-day communication. Discord aims to be a go-to solution for online communication in general rather than focus on games which it traces its roots to. That potentially puts it in competition with the likes of Slack, Monday.com, and Microsoft Teams. Discord says it currently has more than 100 million monthly active users.

With this new funding, Discord has now raised about $380 million in total funding since its inception. The new funding came from venture capital firm Index Ventures, an existing investor in the company. Before this funding, Discord was valued at $2 billion by investors.

Index Ventures partner Danny Rimer is notably the driving force behind the new investment, with Discord being a plus to his sizeable list of notable bets which include design st…

Byton Halts Operations For Six Months

Chinese electric vehicle upstart Byton has announced has said it's suspending all of its domestic operations for a six-month period amid business struggles stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The six-month halt is scheduled to run through the months of July to December and notably comes on the heels of reports of Byton delaying salary payments for some of its staff. Byton as a private company is known to have secured some $1.2 billion in financing since its inception. The company, which was founded in 2017, has long showcased flashy concepts but hasn't yet delivered a production vehicle.

Byton originally planned to release a production vehicle in the third quarter of last year but later delayed its plan. The company cited financing and production challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind its suspension. Byton is looking to institute a strategic restructuring that includes reducing its staff. Currently, Byton employs about 1,500 people globally, th…

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 Takeaway.com.

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…

Lululemon Snaps Up Mirror

Lululemon, the popular apparel company, has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Mirror, the home-fitness startup that's famed for its mirror-like interactive home gym, for $500 million. The acquisition notably comes in the midst of increased sales of Mirror's interactive mirrors as the coronavirus pandemic has widely driven people away from public gyms to home fitness. As a private company, Mirror has raised about $75 million in funding, making a $500 million purchase price seem like a very sweet deal for the company. Among Mirror's investors as a private company happens to be Lululemon. The likes of Lerer Hippeau, Spark Capital, Point72 Ventures, and supermodel Karlie Kloss are also backers.

Lululemon expects to fund Mirror's acquisition with its primary sources of liquidity, which include its cash pile alongside revolving credit facilities. Before now, the apparel company had not only invested in but also partnered with Mirror to create content. Following t…

Personal Capital Sells For $1 Billion

Personal Capital, a Redwood City, California-based wealth management startup, has been sold to retirement plan provider Empower Retirement in a deal that adds up to $1 billion. Empower Retirement has reached a deal to acquire Personal Capital for an upfront payment of $825 million in cash plus $175 million in potential "planned growth" incentives. The acquisition seems like a win for Personal Capital, which has raised $265 million in funding as a private company. According to PitchBook data, Personal Capital was valued at $950 million as of its last fundraising in February of last year.

Personal Capital was founded in 2008. The company provides digital-based money management services, similar to the likes of Wealthfront, Betterment, and Acorns. Currently, Personal Capital manages a cumulative $12 billion in assets for some 2.5 million users. Personal Capital has offices in the cities of San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, and Dallas. The company employs more than 400 people.

In…

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…

Facebook Ad Boycott Push To Go Global

After pushing for a Facebook advertisement boycott that has attracted, among other brands, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Dashlane, Starbucks, and Unilever, the organizers have said they'll begin calling on companies outside the U.S., first in Europe, to join the boycott. The boycott expansion plans were made known by Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, one of the organizers of the “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott campaign, in an interview with news agency Reuters. “The next frontier is global pressure,” Steyer said in an interview. The advertisement boycott campaign centers on Facebook's ways of moderating content on its platform, an issue that has already drawn numerous controversies for the company.

Most of the boycotts so far have come from US-based brands, many of which are only stopping advertisements targeted at U.S. citizens. It seems the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign is looking to push to more countries in order to affect a sizeable pie of Facebook's…

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…

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…

Tencent Preps Twitch Rival

Chinese tech and gaming giant Tencent is currently rolling out a live-streaming service for the U.S. market that'll rival Twitch, the Amazon-owned game streaming service that currently dominates the U.S. streaming market. The new rival is named Trovo Live and was formerly called Madcat. Thanks to Tencent's deep pockets, Trovo is launching with a $30 million partnership program intended to reward content creators beginning from next month, July. Trovo is still in beta testing and seems to have largely gone unnoticed outside the gaming community. Currently, Trovo's live-streams only draw viewers in the hundreds even though its Discord chat channel currently boasts more than 5,000 members. The new game-streaming service has courted some creators from the likes of Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Microsoft's soon-to-be-closed Mixer platform.

Tencent leads the gaming market in its home country of China and apparently has enough resources to challenge a dominant foreign game str…

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…

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…

Oscar Health Nabs $225 Million Round

New York-based health insurance startup Oscar Health has announced it's raised $225 million in new funding from a host of investors, including Alphabet, Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, Thrive Capital, all existing investors in Oscar, alongside new investors Baillie Gifford and Coatue. The new funding adds up the total amount of funding that Oscar has raised since its inception to $1.5 billion. The valuation that came with this round isn't known. Oscar, meanwhile, says it's on track for $2 billion in annual sales.

Oscar Health, which was founded in 2012, sizeably expanded this year. The company, which offers health insurance products, now has more than 420,000 insured members. Oscar is currently available in 15 states across the U.S.





Intuit Advances $2 Billion Bond Sale

Financial software company Intuit has forged ahead with a bond offering that's intended to raise $2 billion, possibly to help fund the company's $7.1 billion cash and stock acquisition of personal finance company Credit Karma. Intuit has priced its offering for $2 billion worth of bonds and expects to close the bond sale on the 29th of June, 2020. Intuit intends to use the bond proceeds for general corporate purposes but says it could tap into it to fund its acquisition of Credit Karma. As of April end, Intuit reported having $4 billion in cash and equivalents so the company isn't really hurting for cash.

Intuit's $2 billion bond sale consists of four $500 million tranches due by the years 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2030. The 2023-due bonds carry the least interest rate of 0.650% while the 2030-due bonds carry the highest interest rate of 1.650%. Investment banks including Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, US Bancorp, and BofA Securities are acting as book-runners for the bond off…

Salesforce Backs Tanium

Cybersecurity company Tanium has announced it's raised funding from Salesforce Ventures, the venture capital arm of tech giant Salesforce. Salesforce is investing in the company as part of a strategic partnership. Salesforce's investment, reported being about $100 million, values Tanium at $9 billion, a sizeable boost from the company's last private valuation of $6.5 billion. With Salesforce's investment, Tanium will now have raised about $900 million in total funding since its inception.

Salesforce is partnering with Tanium to develop a cybersecurity software suite targeted at enterprises. The software suite will include a help desk to submit, track, and resolve cybersecurity issues; a service dashboard for IT employees; and the ability to build cybersecurity-related workflows on the Salesforce platform.

Tanium marks the latest investment for Salesforce Ventures, which has long been an active investor in technology companies. This month alone, Salesforce Ventures has…

Amazon To Pay $1 Billion+ For Zoox

A few weeks ago, we reported that Amazon was in negotiations to buy self-driving startup Zoox. Now, word has it that the e-commerce giant will pay more than $1 billion to acquire Zoox, as first reported by The Information [paywall]. Zoox itself has raised nearly $1 billion in funding as a private company so it doesn't look like investors are looking forward to juicy returns from the sale. The majority of Zoox's investors are, however, expected to get their money back, with a few even making a positive return, The Information reports. Investors in Zoox include DFJ, Blackbird Ventures, Lux Capital, Atlassian co-founder Michael Cannon-Brooks, and Hollywood mogul Thomas Tull.

Amazon is expected to announce a final deal soon. Snapping up Zoox will give the e-commerce giant control over a self-driving startup with about 1,000 employees. Amazon's exact intent for Zoox isn't known, but one can presume the company will be developing self-driving tech for the delivery of Amazon…

Volvo Teams Up With Waymo

Swedish automaker Volvo has teamed up with Alphabet's Waymo for the development of self-driving technology. Waymo is now the exclusive L4 partner for Volvo, with both companies working together to implement Waymo's self-driving tech on Volvo cars. Both companies made the partnership known via a recent press release. The press statement didn't actually divulge many details about the partnership, primarily noting that Waymo is now the exclusive Level 4 self-driving tech partner for Volvo.

Volvo intends to use self-driving tech from Waymo to power an all-electric fleet of robotaxis. The Swedish automaker aims to debut an autonomous ride-hailing service in future time and has apparently seen Waymo as its best partner for that. Volvo isn't the first automaker to see Waymo as a viable partner, with the Alphabet subsidiary having already partnered with other automakers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler. Waymo is known to be the global leader in self-driving technol…

Ruth Porat Joins Blackstone's Board

Private equity giant Blackstone has added a new board member by the name of Ruth Porat, who is best known for being the chief financial officer of Google-parent Alphabet. Porat has a notable relationship with Blackstone going back to her days as an executive at investment banking firm Morgan Stanley. At Morgan Stanley, where she eventually became CFO, Porat helped take Blackstone public. She spent 27 years at Morgan Stanley before joining Google as CFO in May 2015. Following the creation of Google-parent Alphabet, she was appointed as the chief financial officer of the entity.

“I first worked closely with Ruth during Blackstone’s IPO and greatly admire her talent and judgment. She possesses a deep understanding of the financial services industry from her years on Wall Street and has had a front row seat in Silicon Valley to the technological revolution that is sweeping the world. Her unique perspective will be a tremendous asset to Blackstone’s board.” Blackstone's famed Chairman…

Tencent Scoops Up Iflix

Chinese tech giant Tencent has reached a deal to acquire Iflix, a Malaysia-based video streaming company that primarily serves the Southeast Asian markets. According to reports, Tencent will continue the Iflix brand name for at least 6-12 months after the acquisition and is expected to retain the majority of the company's staff. Although having raised about $350 million in funding, Iflix has lost money heavily and recently saw the departure of two of its co-founders from the company entirely. In April, when both co-founders resigned, Iflix laid off more than 50 of its employees.

Iflix is said to have been targeting an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange to raise more funding before the coronavirus outbreak struck and halted its plans. Under Tencent, Iflix can presumably further its cause, even though its sale to the company seems more like a fire sale than an intently planned acquisition. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Public filing…

AT&T Trims Weighty Debt Load

Telecoms giant AT&T has announced early repayment terms for $5.3 billion in outstanding bonds as the company seeks to trim its behemoth ($151 billion as of 2019 end) debt load. The Dallas-based telecoms giant insists its future near-term debt requirements are "very manageable" and has committed to cutting down debt while still paying dividends to shareholders and investing in growth areas.

AT&T says it anticipates future strong cash flow, in turn, bolstering its ability to pay down debt. A sizeable part of AT&T's debt originated from its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. Since then, the company has worked on trimming its debt.

AT&T is set to release its financial results for the second quarter of this year on the 23rd of July, 2020.





Sonos Cuts 12% Of Workforce

As indicated by a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), audio equipment maker Sonos is laying off 12% of its total workforce and also closing its New York retail store. As part of the layoffs, the company is shutting down six of its satellite offices. Sonos blames reduced sales due to the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the layoffs. The company expects to incur between $9 million to $11 million in employee severance and benefits costs and between $16 million to $19 million primarily as a result of its office closures.

As part of cost-cutting efforts, Sonos's CEO alongside its main executive officers have agreed to a 20% base salary cut from the months of July through September. All of the company's board members have also agreed to forgo their annual cash retainer from the months of July through December.

Sonos is aiming to reduce operating expenses and preserve liquidity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to widespread ret…

Apple Acquires MDM Startup Fleetsmith

Apple has reached a deal to acquire Fleetsmith, a San Francisco-based mobile device management (MDM) startup that's backed by the likes of Menlo Ventures, Tiger Global, and Index Ventures. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. Fleetsmith is known to have raised more than $40 million in funding since its inception. The company, which develops software that helps enterprises manage their Apple devices, formally launched in 2016.

Apple has a burgeoning 'Services' business and is apparently acquiring Fleetsmith to help facilitate the budge. In 2019, Apple posted a whopping $46 billion in revenues from services alone. That figure was double revenues from the segment three years before. In the first quarter of this year, Apple's services revenue reached an all-time high of $13.3 billion.

Fleetsmith is known to have about 30 employees in total. Although the price Apple is paying for Fleetsmith isn't disclosed, one can assume it'll be enough to rea…

Dell Explores VMware Stake Spin-Off

Tech giant Dell Technologies is considering among other options spinning off its roughly $50 billion stake in cloud computing company VMware in order to help bolster its share price, the Wall Street Journal [paywall] reports. According to the Journal, Dell recently kicked off a process to examine the possibility of unloading its VMware's stake or taking other steps that could include purchasing the rest of VMware shares that it doesn't own. Dell and VMware are currently working with advisers on a possible deal.

Dell got hold of its huge stake in VMware after taking over storage hardware maker EMC in 2016. The company tapped significant debt to fund a $67 billion acquisition of EMC and having paid down some of it currently has a debt load of $48 billion. A VMware stake spin-off could be structured to reduce that debt load.

Dell currently has a market value hovering about $38 billion (as of writing) despite having a roughly $50 billion stake in VMware in addition to its core bu…

Palantir Adds New Board Members

En route to a public listing, Palantir has added three new board directors by the names of Spencer Rascoff, best-known for co-founding Zillow; Alexander Moore, an early Palantir employee and current partner at venture capital firm 8VC; and Alexandra Wolfe Schiff, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal. To facilitate the appointment, Schiff is stepping down from her role at the Wall Street Journal in order to be a Palantir board member. These appointments bring the total count of Palantir's board to seven.

Adding three new board members surely seems like Palantir looking to get ready for a public listing.  By California law, public companies headquartered in the state must have at least one woman on their boards, and Palantir just appointed its first female board member. Atop that, the company recently raised $500 million in funding from Japanese insurance giant Sompo, the funding seeming like a bridge round before Palantir takes to the public markets.

Since its inception, Palanti…

Amazon Debuts $2 Billion Clean Energy Fund

Amazon has announced a pledge to invest $2 billion in clean energy companies "whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy." The company is setting up a dedicated venture investment program with an initial backing of $2 billion to specifically invest in clean energy companies. The new venture fund builds on previous climate change efforts by Amazon, which include a $100 million climate venture fund, renewable energy projects, and an overall plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025. In September of last year, Amazon committed to ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, an electric vehicle upstart it's also invested in.

The $2 billion fund, the Climate Pledge Fund as it's named, will invest in multiple industries, including energy generation, manufacturing and materials, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics. Amazon also says it'll seek opportunities to involve other companies in the venture f…

Mastercard Scoops Up Finicity

Payments giant Mastercard has announced it's reached a deal to acquire Finicity, a Utah-based financial data company that was founded two decades ago. Finicity has been a private company since its founding and has raised some $80 million in funding since its inception, its last funding round being in 2018. Mastercard is paying $825 million upfront to acquire Finicity, plus an additional potential earnout of $160 million set in place. Mastercard's acquisition comes on the heels of the acquisition of another Utah-based financial data startup, Galileo, by SoFi. SoFi, a private fintech, coughed up $1.2 billion in cash and stock for Galileo.

Finicity is a financial data aggregation and insights platform whose product is adopted by fintech and financial services companies to facilitate their banking services. It's basically a connector between consumers and fintech services, similar to the likes of Plaid and Galileo, which have sold to payments firms for big money in recent tim…

NYSE Seeks Permit For More Direct Listings

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has filed an amendment with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to allow for more direct public listings on its stock exchange, direct listings, in this case, being a relatively new way for companies to go public 'directly' rather than taking the traditional path of raising capital from investors by adopting the services of underwriters. Direct listings can be basically pictured as a direct move of shares from the private markets to the public markets.

Direct listings have been tested by only two companies so far, Spotify and Slack, which listed in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Seeing the success, other tech companies like Airbnb and DoorDash are said to be eyeing a similar path. In December of last year, the NYSE filed a proposal with the SEC to allow for more direct listings but got rebuffed without public comment. The stock exchange has now filed an amendment to the rebuffed proposal, this time providing more details on how direct l…

Apple Debuts iOS 14

At this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) which kickstarted on Monday, the 22nd of June, Apple has debuted iOS 14, the 14th iteration of the company's popular smartphone operating system. The iOS 14 brings along new changes, among them a new way to discover and use apps ("App Clips"), new updates to the Messages app (users can now pin conversations to the top of their message list, keep up with group threads through mentions and inline replies, e.t.c), enhanced privacy features, and the likes.

Other notable updates include the use of "digital car keys", seamless switching of the AirPods between Apple devices, third-party device support for the Find My app, audio messages for Siri, and an updated Health app.

So far, Apple has unveiled the iPadOS 14, the watch OS 7, and a new macOS version. A live-stream of the WWDC can be accessed via this link [YouTube].





Canva Valued At $6 Billion With New Funding

Design software company Canva has raised $60 million in new funding that sets its valuation at $6 billion, nearly double the company's last valuation of $3.2 billion. The new funding was led by venture capital firms Blackbird and Sequoia China, with participation from General Catalyst, Felicis, and Bond. Canva says the new funding will help it expand its collaboration tools and launch a new office in the U.S. state of Texas. The new office is intended to serve as Canva's U.S. enterprise hub.

With the new funding, Canva has now raised about $300 million in total funding since its inception. All of the new funding happened to come from already existing investors in Canva. Canva says it's currently profitable and is doubling its paying user base, which now stands at 500,000 organizations and 1.5 million paid subscribers.

Canva was founded in and has been based out of Sydney, Australia since its inception.





Coatue Leads New Funding For Checkout.com

Coatue Management, a tech-focused hedge fund, has led $150 million in new funding for Checkout.com, a London-based payments company. The funding values Checkout.com at $5.5 billion, a triple of the company's last-known valuation. Checkout says online transactions on its platform have grown 250% year-on-year, sort of explaining the sizeable valuation increase. The coronavirus pandemic, in general, seems to have boosted business for payment providers.

Alongside Coatue, participants in the new funding for Checkout.com include venture capital firms DST Global, Insight Partners, and Blossom Capital. Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, also participated. The new funding is a Series B, the second round of funding Checkout.com has closed since its inception. Impressively, Checkout.com says it's been profitable since 2012 and is raising the funding to further strengthen its balance sheet, which now stands at $300 million.

Checkout.com's last funding round was a $230 millio…

HSBC Invests $7 Million In Privitar

Banking multinational HSBC has made a sizeable investment in Privitar, a London-based data privacy startup. As made known by a formal press release, HSBC invested $7 million in the company as an extension of its Series C round, adding up the Series C funding for Privitar to $87 million. HSBC is apparently a strategic investor and has also been a Privitar customer for four years running. Privitar develops tools to help enterprises secure and protect sensitive data from malicious activity. The London-based startup was founded in 2014. HSBC's investment included, Privitar has now raised about $150 million in total funding since its inception.

Privitar has raised funding from a host of investors including well-known names like Accel, Citi, Salesforce Ventures, Accel, Partech, and Warburg Pincus. The company maintains regional offices in Boston and Singapore in addition to its headquarters in London.





Mubadala Plans For More Tech Bets

Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, is planning to make more tech investments on the heels of investing $1.2 billion investment in Indian telecom outfit Reliance Jio, as made known by its Chief Executive Officer Khaldoon Al Mubarak in a virtual interview with Bloomberg. “We need to be much more exposed to technology in all its facets. We’re on the right track.” Al Mubarak said in a statement. He touted technology as “the place to go” for further investments.

According to Al Mubarak, Mubadala is scouting India, China, and Southeast Asia for potential investments. Mubadala is one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, with more than $200 billion under management, enough cash to make some big technology investments. Mubadala invests money on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi. This month, Mubadala joined a host of other tech-focused investors, private equity firms, and sovereign wealth funds alike to pour billions of dollars into Reliance Jio, the telecom outfit…

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MicroStrategy Bets Big On Bitcoin

MicroStrategy, a publicly-traded billion-dollar business intelligence company, has adopted cryptocurrency Bitcoin as a major store of fiat value, with the company having allocated a major part of its cash position to Bitcoin. MicroStrategy recently purchased 16,796 Bitcoins for an aggregate price of $175 million, after having previously bought $250 million worth of Bitcoins. The company disclosed its purchase of $175 million worth of Bitcoins on the 14th of September, 2020, after having previously disclosed the purchase of $250 million worth of Bitcoins on the 11th of August, 2020. It's such that MicroStrategy has bet a total of $425 million on Bitcoin, an amount that represents 80% of the company's cash balance sheet as indicated by its most recently released quarterly results. A sizeable portion of MicroStrategy's balance sheet is now made up of Bitcoin, making it one of the rare big companies and more so a publicly traded one to make such a move.Cryptocurrency is usuall…

Airbus Debuts Zero-Carbon Plane Concepts

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has unveiled three concepts of zero-emission commercial aircraft that it says could enter into use by 2035. The three zero-emission concepts, with a general codename "ZEROe", include a turbofan engine design, a turboprop engine design, and a “blended-wing body” design. The turbofan design is made to fit between 120-200 passengers, the turboprop for up to 100 passengers, and the “blended-wing body” for up to 200 passengers. Airbus is debuting these concepts as part of efforts to tackle environmental pollution, given that planes although necessary for quick and easy global movement are one of the biggest environmental polluters worldwide. Airbus has given a timeline of 15 years from now that these concepts could be put into service, but being a concept, there's no guarantee that'll they eventually be adopted.ZEROe turbofan:
This design, with a turbofan engine, is made to fit between 120 to 200 air passengers and with a range of 2,000+ nautic…

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…

Richard Branson Eyes $400 Million SPAC

Famed entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is apparently looking into yet another business foray, this time looking to launch a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) named VG Acquisition Corp. VG Acquisition Corp has already put out a formal press release indicating its plans of raising $400 million by offering 40 million units of shares for $10 each. The special purpose acquisition company or blank-check company as they're fondly called is seeking to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "VGAC", with a formal filing already submitted with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC).Richard Branson, a successful long-time entrepreneur, isn't quite new to SPACs, having merged his aerospace company Virgin Galactic with one last year. Virgin Galactic successfully merged with Social Capital Hedosophia in October of last year and got $450 million to fund its operations in the process. The aerospace company began trading with an …

WM Motor Bags $1.5 Billion

WM Motor, a Chinese electric vehicle upstart, has said that it's raised 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in its latest financing round to further its operations. Among investors who provided the new funding include Chinese tech giant Baidu; SIG Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm; SAIC Motor, a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer; along with investment firms backed by the Chinese government. The new funding boosts the total amount of financing that WM Motor has raised since its inception to over $3 billion, on pair with the size of funding that other Chinese electric vehicle counterparts such as Xpeng, Nio, and Li Auto have raised both on the private and public markets.As of late, there seems to be enthusiasm for Chinese electric car makers, with two of such carmakers, Xpeng and Li Auto, having held recent successful public listings in the US. Xpeng's public listing raised $1.5 billion for its operations while that of Li Auto raised $1.1 billion for its operations.…

Social Capital Eyes $2 Billion SPACs

Social Capital Hedosophia, an investment venture led by venture capitalists Chamath Palihapitiya and Ian Osborne, has submitted formal filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission that makes note of the firm's intention to launch three new special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) that'll collectively raise $2 billion from investors. Before now, Social Capital Hedosophia had successfully launched three publicly-traded SPACs, and now furthermore intends to launch a fourth, fifth, and sixth that's targeted to raise $350 million, $650 million, and $1 billion respectively. Social Capital has courted a trio of technology luminaries to serve as independent directors for the new SPACs, with Nextdoor co-founder Nirav Tolia serving as director for the fourth while Facebook engineering VP Jay Parikh and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo serve as directors for the fifth and sixth.Social Capital Hedosophia launched its first SPAC, or blank-check company as it's fond…

Berkshire Makes Bank On Snowflake IPO

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate led by famed investor Warren Buffett, has apparently made bank on its recent bet on cloud computing company Snowflake. On the cusp of Snowflake's IPO, Berkshire reached a deal to purchase 2 million shares in the company along with another 4 million shares from an existing stockholder. Snowflake made its public market debut yesterday at an opening price of $120-per-share, implying Berkshire's total 6 million share purchase cost it roughly $720 million. Snowflake raised $3.4 billion on its public market debut, marking the biggest software IPO ever measured by how much the company raised from investors. It's such that investors are apparently very optimistic about Snowflake, with the company's share price yesterday doubling from $120 to about $254 at market close. By that calculation, the value of the 6 million shares held by Berkshire now amount to over $1.5 billion, implying a roughly $800 million profit for Berkshire'…

The Chainsmokers Close Debut VC Fund

Popular electronic music duo The Chainsmokers, consisting of band members Alexander Pall and Andrew Taggart, have secured $35 million in capital commitments for their debut venture capital fund named Mantis. Among investors who committed to the new fund include luminary venture capitalists Ron Conway, Keith Rabois, and Mark Cuban as well as private equity billionaire James Coulter. The Chainsmokers share management of the venture capital fund with two day-to-day general partners by the name of Milan Koch, an investor who previously worked at seed-stage fund Base Ventures, and Jeffrey Evans, a record label founder and business acquaintance of The Chainsmokers. Not long ago, Mantis made one of its first investments ever in LoanSnap, a San Francisco-based lending startup which it chipped into a $10 million funding round for. Even before the formation of Mantis, The Chainsmokers had been individual angel investors, backing upstarts including Ember Technologies, a maker of temperature-cont…

Bridgewater Buys Into Nio

Bridgewater Associates, the world's biggest hedge fund, has made a relatively small investment in NIO, the Chinese electric carmaker. Recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission  (SEC) indicate that Bridgewater holds 856,026 NIO American depositary shares worth over $16 million at NIO's current (as of writing) share price. According to an SEC filing dated last month, Bridgewater held the same number of shares in NIO but at the time worth roughly $6.6 million. NIO has recently soared on the heels of a $1.5 billion secondary fundraise by the company, clinching a profit of more than $10 million for Bridgewater in the process. Although that profit figure seems bountiful, it pales in comparison to Bridgewater as a whole, being a hedge fund with well over $100 billion in assets under management.Bridgewater isn't exactly new to the electric vehicle industry, having previously bought a sizeable stake in Tesla, the biggest of any electric car company by market …

Chime Bags $485 Million

Corroborating a recent report of Chime, the digital banking upstart, looking to raise more funding at a valuation of between $12 billion to $15 billion, Chime has been reported to have bagged $485 million in Series F funding at a valuation of $14.5 billion, with CNBC the first to report on the company's fundraising. It was only 18 months ago that Chime raised funding at a valuation of $1.5 billion, implying an impressive 900% valuation jump with the company's new Series F funding. More impressive is the fact that Chime was founded only seven years ago and has apparently vaulted into the position of the most valuable consumer fintech upstart in the US, surpassing investment app Robinhood which was valued at $11.2 billion from its most recent financing round. In the overall US fintech market, Chime's valuation is only beaten by payments company Stripe.With Chime's new funding, the San Francisco-based company has now raised a total of roughly $2 billion in funding since i…