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Showing posts from September, 2020

Tertill Names iRobot Veteran As CEO

Tertill, a gardening robot startup, has named a new Chief Executive and Chairman by the name of Helen Greiner, who is herself notably a co-founder of robotics powerhouse iRobot and also a founder of Aria Insights, a now-shuttered company that worked on drones for the commercial and military markets. Tertill, a startup that's best known for its garden weeding robot, will now be led by Greiner, a robotics veteran with high standing in the industry. Tertill (formerly Franklin Robotics) is still a small upstart, founded five years ago and backed by a relatively little $1 million in funding so far. The company's flagship product is a solar-powered plant weeding robot that's tailored for use in small gardens, as demonstrated in the video below;Greiner seems like an ideal candidate to lead Tertill, having previously co-founded a robotics powerhouse and stayed at the company from start through a successful public listing. Currently, iRobot, which Greiner founded, is one of the wor…

Allbirds Lands $100 Million Round

Allbirds, a popular footwear company that makes shoes from sustainable materials, has secured $100 million in Series E funding led by asset management company Franklin Templeton. The new round adds up the total amount of funding raised by Allbirds to more than $200 million and values the company at $1.7 billion, up slightly from $1.4 billion when it raised funding in 2018. Allbirds says it'll use the new funding to expand its burgeoning network of physical retail outlets as well as its existing direct-to-consumer sales operation. Allbirds was founded only four years ago but has in a relatively short time garnered a large following and brand loyalty, a key attraction for the company being its environment-friendly shoes made from bioplastics gotten from sources such as sugar cane plants and recycled plastic bottles. Allbirds represents a veer-off in a footwear industry that largely adopts petroleum-based materials to make products. The San Francisco-based company, a certified B Corp…

Compass Adds New Board Member

Compass, the digital real estate brokerage, has announced that it's added a new board member by the name of Charles Phillips, a long-time technology executive that previously served as president of software giant Oracle and chief executive officer of cloud software company Infor. Phillips is the third independent director to have joined Compass' board this year. With his addition, Compass now has six board members, including co-founders Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, SoftBank partner Justin Wilson, former Bridgewater Associates co-CEO Eileen Murray, business veteran Pamela Thomas-Graham, and now Phillips.“Phillips has led software companies whose primary purpose is to make other businesses more productive,” Ori Allon, co-founder and executive chairman of Compass, said in a press statement. “His depth of leadership experience provides Compass with an authoritative voice as we continue to enhance our platform.” Phillips is a long-time technology veteran whose tenure as Oracle'…

Verizon Mulls Selling HuffPost

Verizon, the telecom giant which also happens to have a quite large digital media operation, is seeking to sell one of its most popular media properties, news site HuffPost, to potential suitors including famous digital media upstarts like Vox Media, Group Nine, and Bustle Group, according to a report from the New York Post. According to the Post, Verizon has shopped HuffPost around to suitors amid significant losses and as it seeks potential buyers that could help cut costs and stabilize its operations. Among prospective buyers who were pitched to include Vox Media, a media company famous for brands like The Verge, Vox, and Polygon, and Group Nine Media, a company whose CEO, Ben Lerer, happens to be the son of HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer. According to the Post, both companies passed on acquiring the news property, leaving other potential suitors such as media upstart Bustle Group, Rolling Stone publisher Penske Media, and J2 Global, a publicly-traded digital media company.According…

Exotec Bags $90 Million Round

Exotec, a French warehouse robotics startup, has announced that it's raised $90 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm 83North, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital, Iris Capital, and Breega. Exotec says it'll use the new funding to fuel its international development, particularly in the US state of Atlanta and the Japanese capital of Tokyo, and with an ultimate ambition to begin churning out as much as 4,000 robots each year by 2021.Exotec makes warehouse robots used by retailers and e-commerce companies to organize their warehouse fulfillment operations. The company's flagship product is the Skypod warehouse robot that's currently adopted by customers including French retail giant Carrefour and Japan's Fast Retailing, which is one of the biggest retailers in the country. Exotec, which is based out of France, has sought new international clients to boost business and has seemingly succeeded in doing so, with the company stating that it…

XtalPi Bags $319 Million Round

XtalPi, an AI drug discovery startup with operations in both the US and China, has announced that it's secured a $319 million Series C funding round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 along with investment firms Morningside and PICC Capital. Other participants in the round include existing investors Tencent, Sequoia Capital China, SIG, and China Life, with the total participants in the round numbering over a dozen. With the new funding, XtalPi, which was founded in 2014, has now raised a total of nearly $400 million in funding since its inception. Before now, the company's most recent financing was a $46 million Series B extension round raised in October of 2018. XtalPi harnesses artificial intelligence and physics processes to build prediction algorithms that help research scientists to identify drug candidates. The company has garnered a high amount of clinical data that helps to predict and model the interaction between molecules and proteins at the atomic level and also map …

Uber Eyes Free Now Purchase

Ride-hailing giant Uber is considering a purchase of Free Now, a joint ride-hailing venture between automakers Daimler and BMW, according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, Uber indicated an interest in a possible acquisition of Free Now after the ride-hailing joint venture struggled to attract additional investors as sought amid a coronavirus pandemic. Free Now, previously known as Hailo and myTaxi, is one of the largest ride-hailing ventures in Europe and Latin America and could bolster Uber's business in those regions in the case of an acquisition. Free Now itself is one of the businesses housed under a joint venture between German automakers BMW and Daimler called You Now, which also includes other services such as Park Now, an app for finding parking spots, and Share Now, a car-sharing platform.Free Now is quite a big business, with a gross merchandise volume that last year amounted to about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion). It's, however, strug…

ShipBob Nabs $68 Million Round

ShipBob, a logistics upstart and Y Combinator alum, has announced that it's raised $68 million in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, a round that brings the total raised by ShipBob since its inception to about $130 million. ShipBob is an upstart that provides logistics and e-commerce fulfillment services to small and mid-sized businesses. It's more like an end-to-end fulfillment solution, providing additional solutions like inventory management, customer communication, and supply chain financing along with logistics and fulfillment services. The company says it'll use the new Series D capital to expand its fulfillment center footprint across the US and abroad, with plans to open two new fulfillment facilities in the US this year and another ten across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia in 2021.ShipBob has grown from humble beginnings in 2014 to currently with over 600 employees globally. The company was exactly launched in May 2014 out of the f…

Tesla Seals New Lithium Supply Deal

Electric carmaker Tesla has announced that it's entered into a binding agreement to purchase lithium ore mineral from Piedmont Lithium Limited, a publicly-traded lithium company that's based out of Australia. The agreement between both companies is initially for a five-year period, in which Tesla has committed to purchasing roughly one-third of Piedmont's annual output 160,000 tonnes of lithium ore mineral for each year as well as additional amounts that the electric carmaker has the option to request. The agreement is conditional on deliveries of the lithium ore beginning sometime between July 2022 and July 2023.Piedmont says it expects the Tesla deal to generate between 10-20% of total revenues from its proposed lithium project for the initial five-year period. That project, in particular, is the 'Piedmont Lithium Project', a lithium ore mining project being spearheaded by the company in the US state of North Carolina. A deal between Piedmont and Tesla represents…

Gemini Expands Into UK

Gemini, the popular US-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss brothers, has officially fully expanded into the UK, now supporting cryptocurrency trading and custody transactions in pounds sterling (GBP), the UK's official currency. Gemini's launch, as expected, comes on the heels of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) granting the company an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license, a license that normally grants a firm the permission to store clients' money for longer periods and to also issue cards, e-wallets and other instruments that facilitate the usage of their clients' money. Gemini overall is one of the first crypto businesses to be given such a license in the UK.With Gemini's launch, users can now make crypto purchases with British pounds and also make pound deposits to fund their accounts on the go without any major need to transact in foreign currencies or incur exchange rate fees. Institutional investors in the UK are not s…

Uber Wins Fight To Stay In London

Ride-hailing giant Uber has won a legal fight to continue operating in the city of London after it got stripped of its license to do so for the second time in November of last year. A London judge has overturned a decision by the city to not renew Uber's operating license, marking the second time the ride-hailing company is fighting such a battle in the city and emerging victorious. In November last year, Transport for London (TfL), the city's transportation regulator, refused to renew Uber's license after stating that it observed a “pattern of failures” as regards security checks and balances which as a result put passengers at risk.“Despite their historical failings, I find (Uber), now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV (private hire vehicle) operator’s licence,” Tan Ikram, a deputy senior district judge of the UK judiciary, said as he overturned the ruling to prevent Uber from operating in London. Ikram said he now has “sufficient confidence” that Uber …

Stripe Leads New Round For PayMongo

Stripe, the US-based payments giant, has led a $12 million Series A round for PayMongo, a payments upstart based out of the Philippines. PayMongo is a payments service that can be integrated into websites and apps to allow them to accept payments from bank cards and digital wallets, very similar to Stripe. Both companies also passed through the famed Y Combinator accelerator program, drawing them even more similar. In basic terms, PayMongo is sort of a Stripe for the Filipino market, making it no surprise that Stripe itself has chosen to lead a strategic round for the company, given such rounds usually act as a gateway for partnerships and tie-ups between Stripe and its counterparts. For a fact, Stripe is not at all new to investing in other fintech companies, with the company having backed more than 20 fintech startups in total (Crunchbase data).PayMongo launched last year with $2.7 million in seed funding after participating in Y Combinator's accelerator program, being the first…

Peeking Into Postmates' Finances

Food delivery service Postmates in on the cusp of a deal to merge with counterpart Uber, which is coughing up $2.65 billion in stock to take over the company. As the merger nears, appropriate filings have been made with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), giving a peek into Postmates' finances, information not publicly revealed up until now. Filings with the SEC show that Postmates recorded roughly $321 million in revenue in 2019, but with a net loss of $420 million in the same year. In 2018, the San Francisco-based company reported roughly $156 million in revenue and a net loss of $129 million in that same year. As at the end of 2019, Postmates had $186 million in cash on its balance sheet, after having raised about $900 million in funding up until that point as a private company. In 2019, a year that Postmates sought to go public, the company burned through $335 million in sales and marketing expenses, its highest ever, and compared to $85 million for the same ac…

Brief: Audi Eyes New EV Tie-Up

German automaker Audi is in discussions with FAW Group, a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer and long-term partner of the company, to create a new joint venture to build electric cars, as first reported by German automobile news site Automobilwoche. Both companies already have a joint venture to build usual combustion-engined cars in China, which is a major market for Audi. China has the world's biggest yet still growing electric vehicle market, making it not far-fetched that Audi is seeking to make a dent in the country. Audi itself has already forayed into the electric car maket, with the company's first set of all-electric cars set to hit the markets by next year.Audi has a big market in China, where it sold nearly 700,000 vehicles last year. The German automaker initially entered the country's market over three decades ago and has made strides over there since then. As a whole, Audi is a major global automaker, with over 1.8 million vehicles sold in 2019.

Epic Games Snaps Up SuperAwesome

Gaming powerhouse Epic Games has announced that it's acquired SuperAwesome, a tool adopted by software developers to build kid-friendly digital apps and services. Financial terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed. As a private startup, SuperAwesome had raised $58 million in total funding from investors including notable names like Hoxton Ventures, YYX Ventures, Twenty Ten Capital, and Microsoft's M12. The company will continue to operate as a standalone firm even after Epic's acquisition.With SuperAwesome, Epic is adding yet another toolkit to its suite of software services. The company, which is majorly a gaming studio known for its gaming megahit Fortnite, operates the popular Unreal gaming engine as well as Houseparty, a video-centric social platform that it acquired last year. SuperAwesome's core product is its Kids Web Services (KWS) platform, a parental consent management toolkit that makes it easier for software developers to build kid-friendly apps. Curr…

BMW Settles SEC Charges With Fine

German automaker BMW has agreed to pay an $18 million fine to settle charges of disclosing inaccurate and misleading sales information that was brought against the company by the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). The SEC charged BMW with inflating sales numbers between the years of 2015 to 2019 while the company tapped the markets to raise roughly $18 billion in corporate bonds. In particular, BMW itself and two of its U.S. subsidiaries are alleged to have reported unfactual sales figures by among other actions maintaining a reserve of unreported retail vehicle sales that it used to meet internal monthly sales targets regardless of when the sales actually occurred and also making payments to dealers to inaccurately tag vehicles as demonstrators or loaners in order for them to appear as sold when they had not actually been. Given the allegations, it's implied that BMW disclosed false information to investors and credit rating agencies as it sought to raise billions of…

Hims On Cusp Of Reverse Listing

Hims, a telemedicine upstart, is on the cusp of a deal to go public by merging with blank-check firm Oaktree Acquisition Corp, according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg, which states that a deal could be announced as early as next week. According to Bloomberg, Oaktree Capital Group, the asset management firm which controls the blank-check firm, is in discussions with investors to raise about $75 million in new funds to fund a merger with Hims, which could be valued at up to $1.6 billion from the deal.Hims is a telemedicine upstart that's best known for offering online prescriptions to treat conditions that are usually stigmatized, such as sexual dysfunction. The company facilitates online consultations with doctors and deliveries of prescription drugs to patients. Also, Hims sells its own line-up of skincare products and vitamins. As a private company, Hims, which was founded in 2017, has raised nearly $200 million in funding and was valued at $1.1 billion from its most recen…

Alexis Ohanian Eyes New Fund

Not long after stepping down from Initialized Capital, a venture capital firm he co-founded, and also departing the board of Reddit, the famous online news aggregation and content forum which he also co-founded, Alexis Ohanian has sought to strike gold once again, this time with a new fund, named 776, that's seeking to raise up to $150 million from investors as indicated by a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). The fund's name appears to be a reference to the year 776 B.C.E., when the first-ever Olympics games were held. Ohanian is somewhat personally tied to the Olympics tournaments, given his wife, tennis superstar Serena Williams, has won four Olympic gold medals throughout her career. Williams herself is also a regular venture investor with her own firm, Serena Ventures.Ohanian is apparently looking to score gold again after co-founding Reddit, one of the most valuable private technology companies, and Initialized Capital, a venture capital firm…

Poshmark Files To Go Public

Poshmark, the popular clothing resale marketplace, has announced that it's confidentially filed for an intended public listing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), as the Redwood City, California-based company looks to go public nine years after its founding and nearly $160 million in equity funding over the years. Among Poshmark's backers who may be in line to reap significant profits from its IPO include venture capital firms GGV Capital, Menlo Ventures, Mayfield, and Temasek. Poshmark is majorly a resale marketplace for fashion and clothing items, currently with millions of sellers. The company makes money by taking a cut of each sale facilitated through its platform.
Poshmark reports currently having 8 million sellers and 60 million registered users in total. It's such that the company last raised private funding in 2017, implying that it's likely been profitable for one or two years now or is really good at conserving cash. Poshmark has expanded…

Rappi Nabs $300 Million Round

Rappi, a Colombian on-demand delivery upstart, has announced that it's raised over $300 million in fresh funding from investors including asset management firm T. Rowe Price. As indicated by a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), Rappi sought to raise up to $350 million in the new funding round, which adds up the total amount of funding that the company has raised since its inception to $1.7 billion. “We are happy to work with this team of investors who trust our growth model, who believe in our region and the role we are playing,” the company said in a press statement.The valuation that came with the new funding isn't disclosed. Rappi overall is one of the most capitalized upstarts both in Latin America and globally and was valued at $3.5 billion post-money when Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank invested $1 billion into the company last year. Rappi is an on-demand delivery service for a wide variety of products and currently operates in nine…

EU Fights Apple Tax Fine Reversal

The European Commission has said that it'll appeal an Irish tax penalty reversal that was recently granted to Apple after the technology giant won an appeal to a $15 billion tax penalty that was levied against it by the European Union's second-highest court. The tax penalty in concern was levied against Apple in 2016 over allegations that the European nation of Ireland granted selective tax breaks to the company, which maintains its European headquarters in Ireland. That penalty was later appealed by Apple as well as the Irish government, which both came out victorious in July of this year. Now, the European Commission's Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, has said that it'll appeal the penalty reversal in the EU's highest court. Vestager is taking forward the matter to the European Court of Justice, officially the supreme court of the European Union. "If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals,…

Brief: Apple Buys Scout FM

Technology giant Apple has bought Scout FM, a popular app that creates radio stations for podcast listeners. The acquisition was first reported [paywall] by Bloomberg, which notes that Apple acquired the company earlier this year. The financial terms of the acquisition aren't disclosed. As a private company, Scout FM had raised $1.4 million in known funding from investors including Bloomberg Beta, Betaworks, Precursor Ventures, and Advancit Capital. Apple's acquisition of Scout FM is one of several known purchases the company has made this year. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has acquired more than half-a-dozen companies in 2020, including Fleetsmith, a mobile device management startup; Mobeewave, a payments company; virtual reality company NextVR; weather app Dark Sky; and artificial intelligence company Xnor.ai. Apple usually keeps its purchases tight-lipped, with most of them revealed by external media.

Anduril Tapped For US Air Force Project

Anduril Industries, a three-year-old defense startup led by Palmer Luckey of Oculus fame, has been selected as a vendor that'll work on a cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) network for the United States Air Force. Anduril is one out of a total of more than 50 vendors that the Air Force has courted to work on what's called an Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), referring to a vast IoT network that'll be adopted by the US Air Force to collect, analyze, and share information and aid in making real-time decisions.Under the terms of Anduril's deal with the US Air Force, the company will receive funding for its work, funding that's not exactly disclosed but is noted as anywhere between $1,000 up until $950 million. Anduril along with other participants in the program will be paid over the next five years for work in different ABMS categories. Along with Anduril, another notable newly announced vendor for the military project is Amazon Web Services, the cloud com…

Better.com Eyes New Funding

Better.com, a New York-based mortgage financing upstart, is seeking to raise new funding that'll widely boost its private valuation, according to a report [paywall] by The Information. According to The Information, Better.com is on the cusp of a deal to raise more than $100 million in new funding that'll value it at about $4 billion, up from about $720 million when the company raised funding last year. The new reported fundraise comes on the heels of Better informing investors that it expects revenue to grow from about $100 million last year to over $800 million this year, as a record number of Americans troupe to refinance their homes amid a coronavirus pandemic that has widely affected economic output and activity.As a private company, Better.com has already raised over $250 million in funding, with its last funding round occurring in January of last year. Among investors in the company include notable names like Kleiner Perkins, Ally Financial, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and…

Greenlight Bags $215 Million Round

Greenlight Financial Technology, an Atlanta-based banking upstart whose service is primarily built for kids, has raised $215 million in Series C funding that values it at over $1.2 billion and boosts the total amount of funding that the company has raised since its inception to nearly $300 million. The new funding was co-led by venture capital firms Canapi Ventures and TTV Capital, with participation from investors including DST Global, Bond, Fin VC, Goodwater Capital, and Relay Ventures. Greenlight as a company was founded in 2014 but debuted its main product, a debit card built for kids, three years later. It's such that the company now serves over 2 million customers in the US, customers whom Greenlight says have collectively saved more than $50 million thanks to its platform.Greenlight isn't just a mere debit card built for kids but overall a money management platform where parents can manage their kids' finances on the go. The company's product is particularly att…

Deliveroo Eyes 2021 Public Listing

U.K. food delivery company Deliveroo has begun holding preliminary discussions for a possible 2021 public listing, according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, Deliveroo is in discussions with potential investment banking advisers over the possibility of an initial public offering by next year, notably on the heels of a business boom for food delivery companies due to a coronavirus pandemic that has widely shuttered in-person restaurants. It also comes on the heels of the U.K. antitrust regulator greenlighting a major investment in Deliveroo from US-based e-commerce giant Amazon after previously pausing the deal over antitrust concerns. As a private company, Deliveroo has raised roughly $1.5 billion in funding since its inception. The company was valued at over $2 billion by investors in 2017 but hasn't disclosed the valuation that came with its most recent financing round in 2019.Deliveroo, only seven-years-old, has worked its way into the status of the…

Nuvia Nabs $240 Million Series B

Nuvia, a Santa Clara-based silicon design upstart founded by former Apple and Google veterans, has announced that it's closed $240 million in Series B funding led by venture capital firm Mithril Capital, with participation from other investors including BlackRock, Fidelity, Dell Technologies Capital, Mayfield, Atlantic Bridge, and Redline Capital. The Series B fundraise follows a $53 million Series A raised by Nuvia in November of last year, on the heels of the company's founding. The new investment has apparently boosted the total amount of funding that Nuvia has raised since its founding just a year ago to nearly $300 million. The valuation that came with the new funding isn't disclosed.Nuvia's new fundraise was actually led by Mithril Capital in partnership with two silicon design veterans by the names of Sehat Sutardja and Weili Dai, best known as the couple who founded semiconductor powerhouse Marvell Technology Group. Both individuals are veterans of the semicond…

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Tesla Seals New Lithium Supply Deal

Electric carmaker Tesla has announced that it's entered into a binding agreement to purchase lithium ore mineral from Piedmont Lithium Limited, a publicly-traded lithium company that's based out of Australia. The agreement between both companies is initially for a five-year period, in which Tesla has committed to purchasing roughly one-third of Piedmont's annual output 160,000 tonnes of lithium ore mineral for each year as well as additional amounts that the electric carmaker has the option to request. The agreement is conditional on deliveries of the lithium ore beginning sometime between July 2022 and July 2023.Piedmont says it expects the Tesla deal to generate between 10-20% of total revenues from its proposed lithium project for the initial five-year period. That project, in particular, is the 'Piedmont Lithium Project', a lithium ore mining project being spearheaded by the company in the US state of North Carolina. A deal between Piedmont and Tesla represents…

Robinhood Bags Extra $460 Million

Stock trading app Robinhood has bagged yet another round of funding, with the company just having raised $460 million in new funding as an extension to a recently closed $200 million funding round. With the new funding, it's such that Robinhood has raised nearly $1.3 billion in funding this year alone. Overall, the company has now raised some $2.2 billion in total funding since its inception. Among investors who provided Robinhood's new funding include Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, DST Global, and D1 Capital Partners. The fundraise signals a very strong investor appetite for Robinhood, as the company benefits from surging retail trading activity during the coronavirus lockdown.This year has seen Robinhood top 13 million users and score $180 million in second-quarter revenue due to increased trading activity. The company added 3 million new funded accounts in the first four months of this year. As Robinhood has raised more funding, so has its valuation b…

Hims On Cusp Of Reverse Listing

Hims, a telemedicine upstart, is on the cusp of a deal to go public by merging with blank-check firm Oaktree Acquisition Corp, according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg, which states that a deal could be announced as early as next week. According to Bloomberg, Oaktree Capital Group, the asset management firm which controls the blank-check firm, is in discussions with investors to raise about $75 million in new funds to fund a merger with Hims, which could be valued at up to $1.6 billion from the deal.Hims is a telemedicine upstart that's best known for offering online prescriptions to treat conditions that are usually stigmatized, such as sexual dysfunction. The company facilitates online consultations with doctors and deliveries of prescription drugs to patients. Also, Hims sells its own line-up of skincare products and vitamins. As a private company, Hims, which was founded in 2017, has raised nearly $200 million in funding and was valued at $1.1 billion from its most recen…

Peeking Into Postmates' Finances

Food delivery service Postmates in on the cusp of a deal to merge with counterpart Uber, which is coughing up $2.65 billion in stock to take over the company. As the merger nears, appropriate filings have been made with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), giving a peek into Postmates' finances, information not publicly revealed up until now. Filings with the SEC show that Postmates recorded roughly $321 million in revenue in 2019, but with a net loss of $420 million in the same year. In 2018, the San Francisco-based company reported roughly $156 million in revenue and a net loss of $129 million in that same year. As at the end of 2019, Postmates had $186 million in cash on its balance sheet, after having raised about $900 million in funding up until that point as a private company. In 2019, a year that Postmates sought to go public, the company burned through $335 million in sales and marketing expenses, its highest ever, and compared to $85 million for the same ac…

Brief: Apple Buys Scout FM

Technology giant Apple has bought Scout FM, a popular app that creates radio stations for podcast listeners. The acquisition was first reported [paywall] by Bloomberg, which notes that Apple acquired the company earlier this year. The financial terms of the acquisition aren't disclosed. As a private company, Scout FM had raised $1.4 million in known funding from investors including Bloomberg Beta, Betaworks, Precursor Ventures, and Advancit Capital. Apple's acquisition of Scout FM is one of several known purchases the company has made this year. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has acquired more than half-a-dozen companies in 2020, including Fleetsmith, a mobile device management startup; Mobeewave, a payments company; virtual reality company NextVR; weather app Dark Sky; and artificial intelligence company Xnor.ai. Apple usually keeps its purchases tight-lipped, with most of them revealed by external media.

Big-Name Investors Pile On Cloud Paper

Cloud Paper, a Seattle-based startup whose core product is toilet paper made from bamboo, has raised $3 million in seed funding from a host of investors led by venture capital firm Greycroft. Along with Greycroft, investors who participated in the seed round include; Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, music star Ciara, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, movie stars Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow, Riot Games founder Marc Merill, and NFL Quarterback Russell Wilson. Cloud Paper says it'll use the new funding to further its business and expand into other tree-free product areas. Toilet paper is conventionally made from materials cut down from trees. In fact, it's estimated that humans use the equivalent of 270,000 trees worth of toilet paper each day. Cloud Paper, with a goal of tackling deforestation, is now providing an alternative in the form of toilet paper made from soft bamboo. Although bamboo itself is a plant, it typically g…

Gemini Expands Into UK

Gemini, the popular US-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss brothers, has officially fully expanded into the UK, now supporting cryptocurrency trading and custody transactions in pounds sterling (GBP), the UK's official currency. Gemini's launch, as expected, comes on the heels of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) granting the company an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license, a license that normally grants a firm the permission to store clients' money for longer periods and to also issue cards, e-wallets and other instruments that facilitate the usage of their clients' money. Gemini overall is one of the first crypto businesses to be given such a license in the UK.With Gemini's launch, users can now make crypto purchases with British pounds and also make pound deposits to fund their accounts on the go without any major need to transact in foreign currencies or incur exchange rate fees. Institutional investors in the UK are not s…

Peter Thiel Eyes Blank-Check Firm

Palantir co-founder and famed entrepreneur Peter Thiel is looking to strike gold once again, this time with a blank-check firm that'll seek to merge with another company. Thiel, along with Hong Kong-based businessman Richard Li, have created a new blank-check firm named Bridgetown Holdings that's seeking to raise $575 million on the public markets. The blank-check firm's sponsor is a joint venture between Thiel Capital, Peter Thiel's personal investment vehicle, and Pacific Century Group, a Hong Kong-based investment firm founded by Richard Li. The Bridgetown blank-check firm is led by Chief Executive Daniel Wong and Chairman Matt Danzeisen, who is himself notably married to Peter Thiel, while Wong, the chief executive, is a senior vice president at Li's Pacific Century Group. Bridgetown will have other board members including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and RRE Ventures partner John Hass.Peter Thiel is apparently seeking to add yet another blank-check firm to what has b…

EU Fights Apple Tax Fine Reversal

The European Commission has said that it'll appeal an Irish tax penalty reversal that was recently granted to Apple after the technology giant won an appeal to a $15 billion tax penalty that was levied against it by the European Union's second-highest court. The tax penalty in concern was levied against Apple in 2016 over allegations that the European nation of Ireland granted selective tax breaks to the company, which maintains its European headquarters in Ireland. That penalty was later appealed by Apple as well as the Irish government, which both came out victorious in July of this year. Now, the European Commission's Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, has said that it'll appeal the penalty reversal in the EU's highest court. Vestager is taking forward the matter to the European Court of Justice, officially the supreme court of the European Union. "If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals,…

VW's Traton Partners With TuSimple

The Traton Group, a heavy-duty truck subsidiary of German automaker Volkswagen, has entered into a partership with self-driving trucks upstart TuSimple. Under the terms of the partnership, both parties have launched a development program to operate autonomous trucks in a specified route in the European nation of Sweden. Traton has also purchased a minority stake in TuSimple under the terms of the partnership.The partnership between Traton and TuSimple represents the latter's first in Europe and actually spans several countries. Traton is aiming to test driverless truck fleets powered by TuSimple's technology across countries including Sweden and Germany, with both companies focused on Level 4 automation for their truck fleet. Traton is particularly aiming to develop self-driving truck fleets to help tackle a shortage of drivers in Europe. It's estimated that there lies a shortage of 60,000 truck drivers in Germany alone. Along with tackling driver shortage, adopting self-d…