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Showing posts from July, 2020

Microsoft Reportedly Looking To Buy TikTok

Software giant Microsoft is in talks to buy popular social app TikTok, according to a report [paywall] from the New York Times. According to the Times, it's however unclear how advanced the talks between both companies on a possible acquisition are. As of late, TikTok has been the center of scrutiny from U.S. regulators, with U.S. President Trump even stating of looking into a possible ban of the app in the US. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a private Chinese technology company valued at above $100 billion by investors. A US-based company like Microsoft swooping in to buy TikTok would likely lessen scrutiny from U.S. regulators, who right now seem to be primarily concerned over the app's Chinese ties.

In all, ByteDance seems to be looking to quickly divest TikTok in order to stave off increasing regulatory scrutiny. Only a few days ago, the company was reported to be exploring ceding control of TikTok to a group of US investors at a valuation hovering around $50 billion.


Brief: Argo AI Now Valued At $7.5 Billion

Following the finalization of a $2.6 billion investment from German automaker Volkswagen, Argo AI, the self-driving affiliate of U.S. automaker Ford, is now valued at $7.5 billion as confirmed on Thursday. The valuation was bestowed primarily by Volkswagen's investment, which gave the automaker a 40% stake in Argo AI. Ford also holds an equal 40% stake in the company, with the rest held by employees and Argo's founders. Ford had been Argo's primary funder before Volkswagen's $2.6 billion investment, which actually consists of $1 billion in cash as well as Volkswagen's own self-driving unit, itself valued at $1.6 billion.

It's such that Ford posted a $1.1 billion investment gain during the second quarter of this year thanks to Volkswagen's investment in Argo AI. The automaker itself is facing business struggles amid a coronavirus pandemic that has generally weakened automobile sales across the US.

Argo AI  notably first hit the limelight in the self-driving…

GM Taps EVgo For EV Charging Network

Automaker General Motors (GM) has formulated a partnership with electric vehicle charging station provider EVgo to add more than 2,700 public EV charging stations across the U.S. over the next five years. Under the partnership, both companies will add fast-charging stations to cities and suburbs in order to better serve GM's electric car owners in the US. Many electric vehicle owners typically rent their homes or live in multi-unit homes and may have hard times or even be barred from installing their personal chargers. These set of people usually rely on public charging stations, which aren't always readily available or are usually time-constrained due to high demand. As the adoption of electric cars grows in the US, it's usual that automakers are looking to set up larger charging networks.

Already, EVgo has more than 800 public charging stations across the US. The new charging stations it'll further add in partnership with GM will become available to customers beginn…

Brief: Xpeng Raises Extra $300 Million

Just after securing $500 million in funding, Chinese electric vehicle upstart Xpeng has been reported to have raised an additional $300 million from investors including the sovereign wealth fund of the state of Qatar. Reports note of Xpeng securing the funding in preparation for a public listing possibly in the U.S. and that the company may further raise even more funding. With the new reported funding, Xpeng has now raised some $2.5 billion in total funding since its inception.

Xpeng's new fundraise notably comes on the heels of Li Auto, another Chinese electric vehicle upstart, closing an initial public offering in the U.S. that raised $1.1 billion for its operations.

Brief: Pinterest's Q2 Results

Pinterest has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $272 million in revenues, up 4% year-over-year, and losses of $101 million. During the quarter, the number of monthly active users of its service grew 39% year-over-year to 416 million. Pinterest's quarterly loss grew 91% year-over-year, buoyed by the coronavirus pandemic which has led to widespread advertising cuts by companies. Out of the $272 million in revenue, $232 million came from the U.S. while the rest came from foreign countries.

“By all accounts, this was a challenging quarter as COVID-19 continued to spread. I’m pleased with the way we responded and remained engaged with our advertising partners,” Todd Morgenfeld, Pinterest's CFO, said in a press statement. “It has been encouraging to see the recovery in our business over the past few months, but there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty and work to be done.”

Nvidia In "Advanced" Talks For Arm

Chipmaker Nvidia, which was recently reported to be of interest in acquiring famed chip designer Arm, has now been reported [paywall] to be in "advanced" talks to acquire the company by Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, Nvidia has initiated formal talks with Arm's Japanese owner, SoftBank, and aims to reach a final deal in the "next few weeks".

SoftBank coughed up $32 billion to acquire Arm in 2016 and will be presumably seeking a sizeable profit on its investment. This implies that an Nvidia deal for Arm would likely be one of the largest acquisitions, if not the largest ever, to be witnessed in the semiconductor industry. Nvidia looking to acquire Arm would also likely stir up regulatory scrutiny and probably opposition from hardware companies that utilize Arm's technology.

SoftBank, Arm's owner, has been offloading some prized assets as of recent as it seeks to pay down its sizeable debt load. As part of its efforts, the Japanese tech conglomerate …

Affirm Preps For Public Listing

Affirm, the 'buy now, pay later' service, is laying the groundwork and working with investment bank Goldman Sachs on a potential public listing, as first reported [paywall] by the Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, Affirm, which was valued at $2.9 billion by investors as of its last financing round, is targeting a value of between $5 billion-$10 billion for a public listing.

Affirm was founded in 2012 by tech veteran Max Levchin, who's famously known for being a co-founder of payments service PayPal. He founded Affirm eight years ago and has overseen the company's rise to having 5.6 million shoppers and working with more than 6,000 merchants across the US. Along the way, Affirm has secured some $1 billion in equity and debt funding. Investors in the company include the likes of Founders Fund, Baillie Gifford, Ribbit Capital, and Wellington Management.

Affirm, said to be aiming for a public listing, has apparently boarded the same boat with companies such a…

Ford Bronco Eclipses 150,000 Reservations

Over 150,000 customers have made reservations for the 2021 Ford Bronco SUV, as revealed by Ford CEO Jim Hackett in an earnings call. The high number of reservations notably comes just two weeks after the 2021 SUV's debut, implying exceptional customer interest in the vehicle. Each person who reserved had to put down $100 as payment for that. Already, Ford has reportedly racked up an 18-month-long waitlist for the new SUV.

The 2021 Ford Bronco was unveiled on the 13th of July, marking a revival of the SUV make for the first time in 25 years. It's set to begin arriving in car dealerships later this year.

Brief: Apple's Quarterly Results

Apple has announced its financial results for the year's most recent quarter, indicating roughly $60 billion in revenues, up 11% year-over-year, with sales outside the U.S. accounting for 60% of the quarter's revenue. Out of the $60 billion, $46.5 billion came from product sales while $13.2 billion came from Services. Net income for the quarter came at $11.3 billion, up 13% year-over-year.

For the quarter, Apple has declared a cash dividend of $0.82 per share for its shareholders. The company has also approved a four-for-one stock split for its shares "to make the stock more accessible to a broader base of investors." Due to that, each Apple shareholder will receive three additional shares for each share held after a split on the 24th of August, 2020.

Google Cloud Reports Record Revenue

Tech giant Google has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $38.3 billion in revenue, down a bit from $38.9 billion in the same quarter of last year. It's actually the first time in its entirety that Google is reporting lower quarterly revenues when compared year-over-year. Notably, in the quarter, revenue from Google Cloud boosted 43% year-over-year to $3 billion, up from $2.1 billion a year prior and $2.8 billion in the previous quarter. The 43% growth rate from Google Cloud surpassed that of any other segment at the company.

Google Cloud has been on a growth spree for years, buoyed by the appointment of former Oracle veteran Thomas Kurian to head its operations. Kurian joined the cloud division as chief executive in 2018, when it had a roughly $6 billion annual revenue run rate, and has spearheaded its boost to a $10 billion run-rate. Kurian, an enterprise software veteran, boosted Google Cloud's focus on enterprise contracts and s…

Brief: Facebook's Q2 Results

Social media giant Facebook has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $18.3 billion in revenues, up 10% year-over-year, and $5.2 billion in net income, up 98% year-over-year. During the quarter, the number of Facebook's daily active users boosted 12% year-over-year to 1.79 billion while the number of monthly active users boosted 12% year-over-year to 2.7 billion. As people sheltered at homes globally, they apparently resorted to using social media more frequently, and hence, Facebook's significant user number boost.

During the second quarter, Facebook faced a sizeable advertisement boycott but that didn't appear to hurt its business much. About 1,100 companies in total joined the advertisement boycott.

Boom Supersonic Courts Rolls-Royce Engines

Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based startup aiming to revive the world of commercial supersonic travel, has announced that it's reached a deal with Rolls-Royce, the famed airplane engine manufacturer, to explore the pairing of a Rolls-Royce engine with a supersonic aircraft being made by Boom. The aircraft, in particular, is named Overture and has already had purchase commitments from a sizeable number of airline companies. By concept, Overture is a Mach 2.2., 55-passenger aircraft with 8,300 kilometers of range, and with Boom's newly announced partnership, the company is apparently looking to possibly use Rolls-Royce propulsion systems in it. In that market, Rolls-Royce is already the manufacturer of choice for many aircraft companies.

Under the partnership, respective teams from Boom and Rolls-Royce will investigate whether an already existing Rolls-Royce engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight. This will give more space for Boom's personnel to focus on Ove…

Brief: Qualcomm's Quarterly Results

Semiconductor company Qualcomm has announced its financial results for its most recent quarter of this year, indicating $4.9 billion in revenues and $845 million in net income. During the quarter, the San Diego-based company returned $843 million to shareholders via cash dividends and share repurchases. Also during the quarter, Qualcomm notably reached a cross-licensing patent deal with Chinese telecom giant Huawei that it predicts will add an estimated $1.8 billion in revenues for itself in the next quarter. For the next quarter, Qualcomm is now forecasting between $7.3 billion-$8.1 billion in revenues.

“As 5G continues to roll out, we are realizing the benefits of the investments we have made in building the most extensive licensing program in mobile and are turning the technical challenges of 5G into leadership opportunities and commercial wins,” Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said in a press statement. “We delivered earnings above the high end of our range, continued to execute i…

Humana Invests $100 Million In Heal

Health insurance giant Humana has announced it's invested $100 million in Heal, a Los Angeles-based telehealth startup, as part of a broader partnership between both companies. Heal is a telehealth startup that offers its services to patients across the U.S. states of New York, California, Georgia, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Thanks to the partnership with Humana, the Los Angeles-based startup will now expand to new markets including Chicago, Charlotte, and Houston. Humana's investment in Heal notably comes amid a pandemic that has largely driven up telehealth activity and with Heal a major beneficiary.

With Humana's investment, Heal has now raised $171 million in total funding since its inception. Previous investors in the company include the likes of former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs (who serves as its executive chairman), venture capitalist Jim Breyer, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and American singer Lionel Richie.

Since its incep…

Triller On Verge Of New Funding

Triller, the popular music video app and TikTok competitor, is on the verge of securing at least $200 million in new funding, according to a report from Fox Business, which states that the Los Angeles-based company has commitments of between $200 million to $300 million in new funding from investors. According to the report, Farvahar Partners, a boutique investment bank, is arranging the fundraising efforts for Triller.

The news of Triller raising new funding notably comes on the heels of reports of Chinese technology company ByteDance looking to divest its popular TikTok app at a valuation of up to $50 billion. TikTok is facing ever-increasing scrutiny from U.S. regulators that's traceable to its Chinese origins. This has made the app's developer, ByteDance Technologies, to consider relinquishing its sole control.

Just this month, Triller announced it hit 50 million monthly active users, a 600% year-over-year increase. The social app has apparently greatly benefitted from th…

Brief: Spotify's Q2 Results

Music streaming company Spotify has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in revenues, up 13% year-over-year. Out of the €1.9 billion, €131 million ($154 million) came from advertising while the rest came from subscriptions. Despite increasing revenues, Spotify, however, recorded a sizeable loss of €356 million ($419 million) during the quarter.

During the second quarter, the number of Spotify's monthly active users boosted 29% year-over-year to 299 million.

Brief: Remitly Nabs $85 Million Round

Remitly, a Seattle-based fintech company, has announced it's raised $85 million in new funding led by payments company PayU, already a previous investor in the company, with participation from other investors including Stripes, Threshold Ventures, Owl Rock Capital, DN Capital, and Generation Investment Management. Remitly says it'll use the new funding to expand its suite of digital financial services products.

With the new funding, Remitly has now raised a total of $505 million in known funding since its inception. The new investment valued Remitly at $1.5 billion.

Tesla May Sell Batteries To Other Automakers

Tesla's famed chief executive, Elon Musk, insinuated on Tuesday that the electric carmaker is open to licensing software and supplying batteries and powertrains to other automakers. The company isn't exactly new to doing such a thing, as it previously supplied batteries to automakers Toyota and Mercedes Benz under separate partnership deals. “Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!” Musk said in a Tuesday message on Twitter.

Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors! — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2020
Batteries are usually the most expensive and important component of electric cars, implying there's possible lots of money to be made by selling them to other automakers. In a statement during a recent Tesla earnings conference call, Musk said the rea…

Brief: Shopify's Q2 Results

E-commerce company Shopify has released its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating revenues of $714 million, up 97% year-over-year. Gross Merchandise Volume for the quarter came at $30 billion, up 119% year-over-year. Shopify apparently performed exceedingly in the second quarter of this year, notably at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has largely driven up online e-commerce activity. New stores created on Shopify during the quarter grew 71% year-over-year.

During the quarter, Shopify recorded $36 million in net income, compared to a net loss of $29 million in the same quarter last year. As at the end of the second quarter, Shopify had $4 billion in cash and cash equivalents, boosted by a share offering that brought in $1.5 billion in new cash for the company.

“The strength of Shopify’s value proposition was on full display in our second quarter,” Amy Shapero, Shopify’s CFO, said in a press statement. “We are committed to transferring the benefits of s…

TransferWise Closes Big Share Sale

UK-based fintech company TransferWise is now valued at $5 billion by investors, following a secondary share sale batch that saw early employees and investors in the company cash out to the tune of $319 million. The share sale, which was announced on Wednesday, didn't add any fresh cash to TransferWise's balance sheet. Before now, TransferWise's most recent financing round valued the company at $3.5 billion.  “We’ve been funded exclusively by our customers for the last few years and we didn’t need to raise external funding for the company,” Kristo Kaarmann, TransferWise’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “This secondary round provides an opportunity for new investors to come in, alongside rewarding the investors and employees who’ve helped us succeed so far.”
U.K. fintech companies including the likes of Revolut and have raised sizeable amounts of funding as of recent. Just recently, Revolut secured $80 million in new funding while secured…

Brief: eBay's Q2 Results

E-commerce company eBay has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $2.9 billion in revenue on Gross Merchandise Volume of $27.1 billion. Net income for the quarter amounted to $740 million. Out of the $2.9 billion, $2.7 billion came from marketplace sales while the remaining $201 million originated from classifieds sales. During the quarter, eBay repaid $500 million worth of previously issued debt and returned $112 million in dividends to shareholders.

Recently, eBay announced it reached a deal to sell its classifieds business for a total of $9.2 billion. The business is being sold to Norwegian online marketplace giant Adevinta. eBay will receive $2.5 billion of cash and the rest of the total amount in Adevinta shares in order to complete the sale.

Brief: AMD's Q2 Results

Semiconductor company AMD has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating revenues of $1.93 billion and net income of $157 million. Operating income for the quarter came at $173 million. Quarterly revenue is up 26% year-over-year while Net income is up by $122 million compared to the same quarter last year.

Gross margin for the quarter was 44%, up 3 percentage points year-over-year and down 2 percentage points quarter-over-quarter. As usual, the Computing and Graphics segment accounted for the majority of AMD's revenue ($1.37 billion in this quarter). The remaining $536 million came from the 'Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom' segment.

As at the end of the second quarter, AMD's cash and cash equivalents stood at $1.78 billion.

Brief: Roblox Hits 150 Million Monthly Users

Roblox, the gaming platform targeted at kids, has announced that it now has over 150 million monthly active users, notably in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has largely driven up online activities and particularly those targeted at kids who remain locked out of in-person schooling activities for the moment.

Roblox made the announcement at this year's installment of its annual developer conference, which was held virtually. The company also says that developers on its platform are on track to earn over $250 million in this year alone, up from $110 million last year. Currently, Roblox has about 345,000 developers whose games are monetized on its platform.

Roblox only eclipsed 100 million monthly active users in August of last year but has apparently boosted that figure by tens of millions more in just about a year later.

DraftKings Stock Falls After MLB Delay

Shares of sports betting company DraftKings closed down 6.48% on Monday after the Major League Baseball league delayed two upcoming games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the weekend, DraftKings said the MLB was the most popular sport in its sportsbook and that it recorded its second-best day since the March shutdowns began. As many leagues have postponed games, the MLB has been an exception, with ongoing sports games but without the usual swath of spectating fans.

Earlier Monday, Major League Baseball delayed the Philadelphia Phillies’ game against the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins game against the Baltimore Orioles. The delay came after more than a dozen members of the Miami Marlins team tested positive for Covid-19, according to AP News. With MLB currently DraftKings' most popular sport, investors seem to be generally of the sentiment that the games' delay could affect the company's business. DraftKings went public in April of this year and has fared well…

Ro Raises Extra $200 Million

Telemedicine startup Ro has raised $200 million in new funding led by existing investor General Catalyst. The new funding, a Series C, values the company at a reported $1.5 billion, notably just three years into its founding. With the new funding, New York-based Ro has now raised a total of $376 million in funding since its inception. The investment comes on the heels of a coronavirus pandemic that has largely driven up the demand for telemedicine services. Ro offers a collective of digital health services including general medication, smoking cessation, weight management, and an online pharmacy.

Ro is one of the most capitalized startups in the burgeoning technology industry. The company is competing against other fellow upstarts such as Hims, which is itself valued at about $1 billion and is reported to be eyeing a soon public listing. Apart from General Catalyst, other participants in Ro's new financing round include existing investors SignalFire, FirstMark Capital, Initialize…

Brief: Ctrip Looking To Go Private

Chinese online travel giant Ctrip is looking to delist from the Nasdaq stock exchange by stitching together a go-private deal, as first reported by news site Reuters. According to Reuters, Ctrip has reached out to potential strategic investors including private equity firms and fellow Chinese technology companies about joining a possible buyout. Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges are facing ever-increasing scrutiny and stricter audit requirements on the heels of sizeable accounting scandals, Luckin Coffee the latest, originating from Chinese companies listed in the US. It's such that Baidu, one of China's tech giants, has also considered delisting from the U.S.

Currently (as of writing), Ctrip sports a market capitalization hovering around $17 billion. This implies that a possible take-private deal would involve even higher amounts and mark one of the biggest in the Chinese technology industry if pulled through. Ctrip went public way back in 2003 and has remaine…

Brief: Tencent Bids For Sogou

Tencent, the Chinese technology giant, has offered to buy out Sogou, a Chinese search engine company, in a $2.1 billion deal. Tencent, already a significant shareholder in Sogou, is bidding $9 in cash for each American depositary share that it doesn't already hold in the company. Tencent currently owns 39.2% of Sogou's shares. Sogou says it's considering Tencent's acquisition offer but with a final decision lying on a special committee composed of independent board directors. For now, there's no definitive agreement between both companies.

Tencent's $2.1 billion bid represented a 57% premium price to Sogou's Friday market close.

Jim Lanzone Named Tinder CEO

Match Group, the parent company of dating app Tinder, has announced the appointment of technology and media veteran Jim Lanzone as the dating app's new chief executive, a position he'll formally take over on the 3rd of August, 2020. Under the position, Lanzone will report to Match Group's CEO, Shar Dubey. He's taking the helm at Tinder on the heels of what Match Group terms as a solid quarter as regards to financial performance.

"I'm very excited to welcome Jim to Match Group," Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in a press statement. "Tinder still has so much runway ahead, and as we look to integrate video, roll out new features in various regions and accelerate our growth around the world, Jim will be a formidable leader for the company."

Jim Lazone is joining Tinder from Benchmark Capital, where he most recently served as an Executive-in-Residence. Before joining Benchmark Capital, he was the Chief Executive Officer of CBS Interactive. He joined…

The Robot Dog Scanning Ford's Factory

Fluffy is the name given to a four-legged dog-like robot by its handler. The robot, in particular, is one that's stationed at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant of American automaker Ford, where they're part of a pilot program to begin using sophisticated robots to laser scan giant factories in order to collect needed data for retooling and maintenance by engineers. The aim is to be able to scan large factories cheaply and more quickly, as Ford says it currently typically costs about $300,000 and takes up to two weeks to scan one of its manufacturing facilities.

Ford is leasing two robots, Fluffy and Spot (the actual name) by nicknames, from robotics company Boston Dynamics. Boston Dynamics, once a Google-owned company but now wholly owned by Japan's SoftBank, began developing robots more than two decades ago but only began commercializing them (for private customers) just this year. The company opened commercial sales of its four-legged robot, named Spot, in June of this yea…

Brief: Facebook Delays Q2 Results

Facebook has delayed the release of its financial results for the second quarter of this year to the 30th of July in order to give space for its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to appear for a scheduled Congressional hearing. Zuckerberg is set to testify alongside the CEOs of Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which is probing the tech giants for possible anti-competitive practices. The hearing was earlier proposed for the 27th of July but later pushed forward by two days.

In the first quarter of this year, Facebook reported $17.4 billion in revenue, up 17% year-over-year.

Correction: A correction was made to clarify that the Congressional hearing was pushed forward by two days, rather than a previously stated three.

HSBC Denies Having "Framed" Huawei

HSBC, the banking giant, has denied Chinese media reports that the company had "framed" telecom giant Huawei and played a role in the arrest of the company's CFO, Meng Wanzhou. China’s official People’s Daily newspaper recently published a report that accused HSBC of being an accomplice of the U.S. and lying about Huawei in order to establish a case that led to the arrest of its CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was taken into custody in December 2018 in Canada on a warrant from the US. Meng is accused of bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei's relationship with a corporate entity operating in Iran, where U.S. sanctions laws abide. She's currently fighting requested extradition to the United States.

In a statement posted to its official WeChat account, HSBC asserts that it only provided factual information in response to requests from the U.S. Department of Justice and that it has not ‘fabricated’ evidence or ‘concealed’ facts, in relation to the case. “The context of…

SAP To Take Qualtrics Public

In less than two years after acquiring survey software platform Qualtrics, SAP, the German software giant, has announced its intent to spin off the company through an initial public offering in the U.S., where it's based. The company will, however, still retain a majority stake in Qualtrics. Notably, Qualtrics had filed for a public offering and was en route to one before SAP swooped in with an $8 billion offer and successfully grabbed the company in late 2018. The current markets seem favorable for technology companies so it's no surprise SAP may be looking to unlock more value from its acquisition of Qualtrics.

“SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics has been a great success and has outperformed our expectations with 2019 cloud growth in excess of 40 percent, demonstrating very strong performance in the current setup,” SAP CEO Christian Klein said in a press statement. Qualtrics, as a company, seems to feel that the public market is the best-suited place for its operations going fo…

Brief: Revolut Raises Extra $80 Million

Revolut, the U.K.-based payments company, has secured $80 million in new funding that serves as an extension to a $500 million Series D round that the company closed in February of this year. The new funding came from TSG Consumer Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity firm notably with billions of dollars of assets under management. Revolut says the new funding was secured on the heels of high customer demand and strong financial performance. With the new funding, Revolut has now raised a total of about $900 million since its inception.

Revolut was founded only in 2015. The company's last known funding round gave it a valuation of $5.5 billion. Previous investors in Revolut include the likes of DST Global, Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Balderton Capital. Currently, Revolut has more than 12 million customers from 35 different countries.

Alibaba, Jack Ma, Summoned By Indian Court

An Indian court has served a summons for Chinese tech giant Alibaba and its famed founder Jack Ma to testify in a case in which a former Alibaba employee in India claims he was wrongfully terminated after pushing against what he saw as censorship and fake news on company apps. The employee of concern worked at UC Web, the Chinese web browser company that Alibaba acquired in 2014. He, Pushpandra Singh Parmar by name, alleges that Alibaba censored content seen as unfavorable to China and that its apps UC Browser and UC News showed false news “to cause social and political turmoil”.

A Civil Judge in the city of Gurugram, India has issued a summons for Jack Ma, who stepped down from Alibaba last year, as well as about a dozen individuals or company units, requesting they appear in court through a lawyer on the 29th of July. The judge is also seeking written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days. The summons notably comes on the heels of India banning dozens of Chin…

Brief: Verizon's Q2 Results

Telecom giant Verizon has announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating $30.4 billion in revenue, down 5% year-over-year primarily due to lower sales resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. During the second quarter, Verizon's total debt decreased by $4.9 billion to a current $102.2 billion. As usual, consumer sales accounted for the bulk of Verizon's revenue.

"Through extraordinary circumstances, Verizon delivered a strong operational performance in the second quarter," the company's CEO, Hans Vestberg, said in a statement. "We remain focused on our strategic direction as a technology leader, quickly adapting to the new environment and providing our customers with reliable and vital connections and technology services, while working to keep our employees safe and accelerating our 5G network deployment."

In 2018, Verizon notably announced a goal to achieve $10 billion in cumulative cash savings by the end of next year…

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Zomato Begins "Period Leave" For Employees

Zomato, the Indian food delivery company, has said it would begin allowing female employees to take up to 10 days of “period leave” per year, as part of efforts to tackle what it says is a stigma surrounding the issue, particularly in India. Zomato seems like the most high profile organization in India to have instituted such a policy in the country, where menstruation is still a taboo to some. “There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Zomato's CEO, Deepinder Goyal, penned in an e-mail to the company's staff on Saturday.

Zomato is one of the best-known companies in India, currently with more than 5,000 employees. The company has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2008 to clinching nearly $400 million in annual revenues. It's been buoyed by just shy of a billion dollars in total funding by investors such as the likes of Naspers, Delivery Hero, Shunwei Capital, and Tencent.

Varjo Nabs $54 Million Series C

Varjo, the Finnish virtual reality startup, has announced that it's raised $54 million in Series C funding from investors including Volvo, Atomico, EQT Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, and NordicNinja. The investment coincides with the promotion of Varjo's COO, Timo Toikkanen, now to CEO, with its previous CEO, Niko Eiden, stepping down from the role to become the company's chief experience officer (CXO). With the new funding, Varjo has now raised more than $100 million to date. The company says it'll put the new capital towards global expansion and hardware and software development.

Varjo has gone through a strong year in which it added a significant number of new enterprise customers and expanded its sales operations to over 40 countries. Varjo has created a sophisticated headset that combines virtual and mixed reality capabilities, a headset mainly targeted at enterprises and professionals rather than individual consumers. Varjo works directly with its enterprise custo…

EA Investors Chide Executive Pay

Shareholders of gaming company Electronic Arts have profusely rejected the company's executive pay plan in a recent advisory vote, with 171 million votes cast against the pay plan for named officers against about 60 million in favor, as indicated by a regulatory filing. Such a vote marks a rare rebuke for a company of EA's caliber, with major opposition coming from proxy advisers such as Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which had earlier voiced concerns about a special round of stock awards for EA's top executives.

EA's top brass had previously received special stock awards for fiscal 2018 that haven't fully vested, drawing queries about the necessity for a new round of such awards. According to the ISS, EA chief executive Andrew Wilson, who pulled in $21 million in compensation last year, is paid 56% more than a median CEO peer, which “has a ratcheting effect on executive compensation.”

With the vote, EA will likely adjust its executive compensation plan…

SpaceX And ULA Land Big US Contracts

Aerospace companies SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) have landed big respective contracts to launch satellites into orbit for the U.S. government through this year to 2024. The contract, in particular, is the second phase of the US National Security Space Launch program, which assures access to space for U.S. government payloads. The ULA is receiving 60% of the specified contracts while SpaceX takes on the remaining 40%. Already, the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded $316 million to SpaceX and $337 million to ULA “to meet fiscal year 2022 launch dates” [implying the first half of the stipulated contracts], according to a press statement.

“This was an extremely tough decision and I appreciate the hard work industry completed to adapt their commercial launch systems to affordably and reliably meet our more stressing national security requirements,” Colonel Robert Bongiovi, director of the U.S. Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise, said in a press statement…

AmEx In Talks To Snap Up Kabbage

Financial services giant American Express is in talks to acquire Kabbage, the small business lender backed by the likes of SoftBank and BlueRun Ventures, as first reported [paywall] by Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, AmEx could cough up as much as $850 million in cash for Kabbage in a deal that could be formalized as soon as this month. AmEx is the biggest provider of small-business credit cards in the US so scooping up a small business lender like Kabbage will help bolster its business.

Throughout its history, Kabbage, which was founded in 2008, has raised about $500 million in equity funding and even hundreds of millions more in debt funding. Investors in the company include the likes of SoftBank, BlueRun Ventures, Recruit Holdings, UPS, and Thomvest Ventures. On the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, business slowed for Kabbage, which then furloughed hundreds of employees and suspended customer credit lines as it grappled with drastic cuts in small business spending across the …

Nikola Secures Order For 2,500 Trucks

Nikola, the publicly-traded electric vehicle upstart, has announced that it's secured an order for 2,500 electrified refuse trucks from waste collection giant Republic Services, with an option to expand to 5,000. The orders are due to be fulfilled beginning 2023, with on-road testing planned for 2022. The new bulk order marks one of the largest ever seen in the refuse management industry and more so in the electric vehicle scene. Nikola listed on the public markets this year but hasn't sold a single vehicle yet. This has nevertheless not stopped investor hopes and optimism, with the company's current market capitalization (as of writing) hovering at $17 billion.

The order for 2,500 trucks, as well as previous orders from several companies, represents a potential juicy revenue source for Nikola. The electric refuse trucks ordered from Nikola by Republic Services is expected to offer up to 150 miles of range on a single charge. Republic Services is notably the second larges…

Xpeng Files For US IPO

Chinese electric car upstart Xpeng has filed to go public in the U.S., notably on the cusp of securing hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding. Xpeng is looking to go public just five years after its founding and after having sold thousands of electric vehicles, including about 2,400 in July alone. Xpeng reported revenues of $328 million in 2019 and $522 million in losses in the same year. For the first six months of this year, the company brought in $142 million in sales and recorded losses of $113 million.

Currently, Xpeng sells two vehicles, the G3 SUV and the P7 sedan. The company plans to launch yet another by next year, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). Altogether, Xpeng has delivered 18,741 G3 vehicles and 1,966 P7 vehicles. The company's sales network covers 147 stores and service centers across 52 cities in China.

Xpeng's F-1 filing lists a placeholder amount of $100 million, a figure that's likely to c…

Salesforce Exits Zoom Stake With Profit

Software giant Salesforce has sold all of its shares in video communications company Zoom, as indicated by a recent regulatory filing. Salesforce earlier invested $100 million in Zoom at the cusp of its public listing last year and has apparently reaped sizeable profits thanks to Zoom's shares zooming high amid outsized growth on the heels the coronavirus pandemic. The exact amount Salesforce reaped from offloading its stake isn't clear but for a hint, Zoom went public at $36 a share, the price at which Salesforce bought into, and traded between as low as $114 a share to as high as $259 a share over the second quarter of this year during which Salesforce offloaded its stake.

Alongside Zoom, Salesforce also sold all of its remaining shares in online storage company Dropbox. Just as in the case of Zoom, Salesforce invested $100 million in Dropbox on the cusp of the company's public listing. Through its venture arm, Salesforce is an investor in numerous technology companies.…

CuriosityStream Eyes Reverse Listing

CuriosityStream, the upstart streaming service, has announced that it's reached a deal to go public via a merger with Software Acquisition Group, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Software Acquisition, the targeted merger company, was listed publicly last year and raised $150 million from investors, money that will now go to CuriosityStream plus an additional $25 million that the company says it'll further raise from investors. The proposed merger will value CuriosityStream at $330 million including debt. As a private company, CuriosityStream has raised $255 million in venture funding.

CuriosityStream is a science-focused streaming platform that was founded in 2011 by John Hendricks, an entrepreneur best known for founding entertainment giant Discovery Inc. The company has racked up 13 million subscribers to date, some directly on its platform, and others by third-party deals with cable companies. CuriosityStream is available in 175 countries, offering over 3,100 …

Coinbase To Begin Offering Cash Loans

Crypto company Coinbase has said that it'll begin offering cash loans to US-based customers as part of a push into other areas outside its main business of facilitating cryptocurrency trades. Basically, customers will be able to borrow cash as is done usually on lending platforms but this time backed by their Coinbase cryptocurrency portfolio. Customers will get the option to borrow amounts equating to up to 30% of their Coinbase crypto holdings and will be able to secure loans within 2-3 days of applying, according to Coinbase.

The new service is set to begin by this fall.