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Elastic Acquires Endgame For $234 Million

Elastic -- a publicly traded company that builds custom search solutions for enterprises -- has announced it's acquiring cyber-security startup Endgame in an all-stock deal worth $234 million. The acquisition is subject to customary adjustments. Endgame has raised $111 million in total funding according to Crunchbase data. The $234 million acquisition price is a near 50% discount to a previous $465 million valuation (Pitchbook data).

Endgame's backers include Kleiner Perkins, Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Edgemore Capital, Savano Capital Partners and Paladin Capital Group. The Arlington, Virgina-based security startup's customers include the U.S. military and some Fortune 500 companies.


Elastic says the addition of Endgame will further advance its ability to offer a comprehensive security solution that's integrated with its own security information and event management (SIEM) products. "....By joining forces with Elastic, we will be able to take ou…
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Softbank Leads $205 Million Round For Collective Health

Collective Health -- a San Francisco based enterprise healthcare startup with additional offices in Chicago and Lehi, Utah -- has raised $205 million in new funding led by the Softbank Vision Fund, with participation from DFJ Growth, G Squared, PSP Investments and existing backers including GV, Founders Fund, NEA, Mubadala Ventures and Maverick Ventures.

Collective Health will make use of the new funding to accelerate adoption of its enterprise healthcare platform and deepen partnerships with companies that use its platform to provide health insurance for their employees. The company will strengthen its engineering, sales and customer experience teams across its three offices.


Collective Health already has 200,000 members, 45 enterprise clients and 80 health partners linked on its platform. Its clients include companies like Pinterest, Red Bull, Zendesk, Driscoll's, Restoration Hardware and more.

Collective Health is looking to crack an estimated $1.2 trillion employer health ins…

Domino's And Nuro Partner For Autonomous Pizza Delivery

Nuro -- a company making driverless delivery vehicles that's backed by more than $1 billion in funding, including a $940 million round led earlier this year by the Softbank Vision Fund -- has partnered with popular pizza franchise Domino's to deliver pizza to customers with its self-driving vehicles. A pilot program will kick off in Houston, Texas -- where Nuro already delivers groceries -- to deliver pizza to some customers.

The customers who will receive orders from Nuro's autonomous vehicles are those that order from one of Domino's participating stores. Once they order, customers will be able to track Nuro's delivery vehicles within the Domino's app, and will also be provided with a PIN to unlock the vehicle's compartment -- where their pizza is stored -- once it reaches their destination.

The name Nuro may be familiar, as it also delivers groceries for Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S. The company, in December, kicked off a pilot grocery d…

FDA Picks Four Companies For Blockchain-Based Drug Tracking

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has selected IBM, Walmart, KPMG and pharmaceutical giant Merck to be included in a program focused on leveraging blockchain tech to identify and track prescription drugs and Vaccines distributed within the US. The program is aimed at assisting parties involved in the drug supply chain -- including the FDA -- in developing an electronic system that will help trace certain prescription drugs and Vaccines distributed within the US.

As part of the program, the four companies will work on a shared blockchain network that allows real-time tracking of products. The network will focus on reducing time needed to track and trace inventory, to make retrieval of distribution information faster.

A pilot program on this is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, with next steps to be taken -- by the four companies -- evaluated at this point.



Badoo To Splurge $100 Million On Dating Apps

Badoo -- a popular dating service whose holding company also controls a 79% stake in female focused dating app Bumble -- has said it would overhaul its holding structure and spend $100 million on dating apps under its holdings. The company has set up a new holding company -- named Magic Lab --  that'll serve as parent for its brands, which include dating apps Badoo, Lumen and Chappy.

This move is likely being made to hold strong against competition from Match Group's Tinder and also Facebook, which rolled out a dating feature to 14 more countries roughly one month ago.

Badoo is undoubtedly a leader in online dating, with more than 400 million users. The company is said to be weighing an IPO and has also been reported to be shopping Bumble, for a price tag hovering around $1.5 billion.

Badoo made an official announcement of its planned investment on Friday.



Mexico Blocks Walmart's Cornershop Acquisition

In September, Walmart announced it's acquiring Cornershop -- an on-demand shopping app that operates in Mexico and Chile -- for $225 million. This acquisition was meant to boost Walmart's operations in Latin America, but as it now seems, Mexican regulators have balked against the acquisition, arguing that it doesn't guarantee a fair ground for Walmart rivals whose customers order via Cornershop. Reuters reported earlier on this matter.

Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece) opposed Walmart's deal last week after several months of analysis. Walmart already has significant presence in Mexico, where its Walmex supermarket chain is the largest with 2,459 stores countrywide.


Before opposition, Walmart made a number of proposals to address regulatory concerns, including not allowing overlapping board members between Walmart and Cornershop, according to a 92 page document obtained by Reuters. But the retailer's proposal got rebuffed by Mexico's reg…

Wall Street Arrange Big Loans For China's Unicorns

Several investment banks -- like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- are known to have arranged big loans for U.S. tech unicorns. Companies that have taken on such big loans include the likes of Uber, Opendoor, WeWork, Dropbox, SpaceX, SoFi and Affirm to name a few. But recently, China's Bytedance got a $1.34 billion loan from a group dominated by Wall Street banks, pointing to a new area of interest from Wall Street lenders; Chinese companies.

China's tech unicorns are not conventionally known for taking on big loans, but this may be changing, with a Bloomberg piece stating that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are arranging an up to $1 billion debt facility for Chinese real estate brokerage Beike Zhaofang, not too long after the brokerage secured $800 million in funding. Bloomberg also says Guazi -- fresh off  $1.5 billion in funding from Softbank earlier this year -- is in talks with banks for a credit facility of up to $400 million.


With historically low borrowing costs, …

Bird Reportedly Acquired Scoot For Just $25 Million

Some few days ago, Bird was reported to have agreed to acquire Scoot, an on-demand scooter competitor. Bird confirmed this later on, but there's something likely surprising about the acquisition: its price. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bird acquired the company for $25 million in cash and stock, less than half of a previous $71 million valuation (according to TechCrunch) and almost 50% less than the roughly $47 million the company had raised.

This indicates Scoot was a struggling startup prior to being acquired. The company had raised funding from investors including Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures, Accel, Greycroft, Sequoia Capital, Upfront Ventures and Tusk Venture Partners. Purchasing Scoot is a lucrative way for Bird to begin operating again in San Francisco after previously being denied a permit.


Scoot will continue to operate on its own as a subsidiary under Bird. In addition to SF, Scoot also operates in the cities of Barcelona, Spain and Santiago, Chile. With…

Ford To Test New Version Of Driverless Vehicles In Detroit

Ford has announced that it'll begin testing the third-generation of its Ford Fusion self-driving vehicles in Detroit. This is a new location in addition to the cities of Palo Alto, Miami, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. The new generation of self-driving vehicles Ford will be testing are equipped with new tech, including upgraded radar and cameras with higher resolution and better dynamic range.

The new version also features a new computing system with more processing power and improved thermal management systems than in previous versions, and also back-up braking and steering systems that'll get the vehicle to a halt if one of its primary units fail. This (back-up systems) feature is also present in the new self-driving vehicle just unveiled by Volvo and Uber.


Detroit is a city known for its diversity of road types, which are important for Ford to test its self-driving vehicles on. Ford also has significant engineering operations in the city, which counts as an advantage. Th…

Hyundai Takes Stake In Aurora

Shortly after Aurora partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving vehicles, Hyundai has announced it has invested an undisclosed sum in Aurora, cementing a strategic partnership -- to work on self-driving technologies -- formed between both parties in 2018. With this investment, Hyundai and Aurora have agreed to expand research to other vehicle models, with the latter now working to build a custom self-driving platform for Hyundai and -- its subsidiary brand -- Kia's driverless vehicles.

Hyundai says its self-driving vehicles will "enhance their ability to monitor, react, and adapt to different surroundings" with the addition of "Driver", Aurora's self-driving stack. This stack is what Aurora earlier agreed to sell to Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai has made some waves in the driverless vehicle world, having successfully demonstrated self-driving tech in urban environments at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company also debuted a fleet of driv…

Samsung Debuts New Gaming Monitor

Samsung has announced a new 27-inch gaming monitor that's the latest in its lineup of curved gaming monitors, this time with a speedy 240Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility. In case you wonder, Nvidia G-Sync is a proprietary adaptive sync technology developed by popular graphics processing units (GPU) manufacturer Nvidia that eliminates screen tearing by letting a video display adapt to the frame rate of a graphics card rather than that of the device itself.

Other features of the new gaming monitor (Samsung CRG5) include:
1920×1080 full HD resolution3000:1 contrast ratioNear edge-to-edge screen (minimal bezels)16:9 aspect ratio300 candela/㎡ (brightness)178° viewing angle. That is, one can still see what's on the monitor standing up to 178 degrees to its front.4ms GTG response timeHDMI support150 cm curvature radius

The new gaming monitor will be available by the third quarter of this year. It'll retail for $400.



Volvo And Uber Debut New Automated Car

Volvo and Uber have teamed up for a new self-driving car that'll be equipped with self-driving features at the factory level as opposed to fitting already made cars with Uber's own self-driving technology. The new vehicle is a Volvo XC90 SUV that the automaker says is "capable of fully driving itself" when combined with technology developed by Uber ATG.

The new self-driving vehicle is equipped with more safety features, the most prominent being back-up systems for steering and braking functions. The systems are designed to get the vehicle to a halt if any of its primary systems fail. There's also battery back-up power for the vehicles.


Volvo and Uber entered a commercial agreement in 2016 for Volvo to supply tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles in coming years. This new vehicle is based on the partnership.

Volvo plans to put this new vehicle to work by 2020.



Grab Reportedly Eyeing Banking License

According to a Reuters report, Grab -- the Singapore-based ride-hailing company valued at $14 billion -- is considering getting a banking license to offer online-banking services in Singapore as regulators in the city-state consider allowing online-only banks to operate. Reuters says Grab is close to enlisting a consultancy to give advice on its banking potential and is preparing to apply for a digital-only bank license if Singapore regulators open up the sector.

If this happens, it'll mark Grab's first foray into banking, not surprising given its massive funding ($8.8 billion total, according to Crunchbase data). Grab may be looking for ways to expand its reach and market prospects, with digital banking being attractive thanks to Southeast Asia’s growing payments market.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said last month that it was looking into the potential for letting “digital-only banks with non-bank parentage” into Singapore's market. According to Reuters, th…

Juul Sales Boom

According to a Bloomberg piece, popular e-cigarette maker Juul has told investors that sales have gotten stronger after a short period of lowered sales late last year, due to a pulling off of some flavored vape products in the U.S. stemming from increasing popularity with underage users. According to Bloomberg, Juul said -- in a letter to investors -- that its first quarter sales were $528 million, up 23% from $430 million a year earlier.

Juul was previously reported to be expecting $3.4 billion in sales this year. An earlier conference call from Altria -- which purchased 35% of Juul for $12.8 billion in December -- said Juul sold 175 million refill pods in the U.S. in Q1, up from 64 million a year earlier. In Q4 2018, Juul told investors it had $70.4 million in adjusted losses and more than $700 million cash on hand.


But increased sales come with increased scrutiny. Juul is facing increased probes from regulators in the U.S., India and other places, with critics saying the company h…

Microsoft Acquires Double Fine

Double Fine Productions -- a San Francisco-based game developer known for titles like Psychonauts, Broken Age, and Brütal Legend among others -- has announced it has been acquired by Microsoft's Xbox Game Studios, making the number of standalone game studios under Xbox now 15. Xbox Game Studios has added seven new standalone studios in the past year alone.

With its acquisition of Double Fine, Xbox Game Studios is getting a key talent in Tim Schafer, a veteran game developer who launched Double Fine 19 years ago. Prior to Double Fine, he developed games at LucasArts, a now Disney owned developer known for its Star Wars and Indiana Jones based games.

Double Fine has developed more than 30 games and published 8 titles since inception.



Mercedes-AMG Debuts "Most Powerful" 4-Cylinder Engine

Mercedes-AMG has unveiled a new four-cylinder engine that it touts as the "world's most powerful [and] turbocharged". The new engine -- assembled entirely by hand -- has some interesting features, including output of up to 310 kW (421 hp), maximum torque of up to 500 newton metres and an output per litre of up to 155 kW (211 hp). This places it ranks above many mainstream super-car engines.

The new Mercedes-AMG M 139 engine is assembled entirely by hand on the first floor of the AMG engine factory in Affalterbach, Germany. Its other features include:
Rotation around its vertical axis by 180 degrees.Intake system positioned at the front, and the exhaust manifold now positioned at the rear, for aerodynamic advantage.Maximum charge pressure of up to 2.1 bar (1.9 bar in basic version).Turbocharger cooling by fresh air, in addition to oil and water.Integral insulation on turbine housing.Coated linings.7200 rpm maximum engine speed.9.0:1 compression ratio.160.5 kg (weight).199…

Ex-Unity VP Files Harassment Suit Against CEO

A former vice president at Unity -- a popular gaming engine valued at $2.6 billion -- has filed a suit against the company, alleging sexual harassment from CEO John Riccitiello. The suit filed by Unity's former vice president of global talent acquisition, Anne Evans, alleges sexual harassment that took place in many forms, including soliciting her and other employees for sex, and making sexist jokes.

Evans was terminated from Unity and is now suing for wrongful termination, retaliation and failure to put discrimination in check among other things. According to Evans' LinkedIn profile, she now holds an executive HR position at GM Cruise, after spending 3 years and some months at Unity. She previously had stints at Trulia, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst and Young.


Evans' lawsuit alleges Unity's workplace “was highly sexualized”, where men in management positions “spoke openly about women in a sexual manner, made sexist jokes, and flirted with and pursued sexual relati…

23andMe Reportedly Made $475 Million Last Year

23andMe is popularly known for its $99 direct-to-consumer DNA test kit that provides its users with information on their ancestry as wells as some health tips. The company is backed by the likes of Sequoia Capital, GlaxoSmithKline, Fidelity, GV( formerly Google Ventures), New Enterprise Associates and Altimeter Capital, with nearly $800 million in total funding.

A recent Forbes profile of its CEO Anne Wojcicki reported that 23andMe recorded an estimated $475 million in revenue last year, with nearly 5 million customers making use of its $99 DNA kit during the year. The report cites no source so that number can be taken as a guesstimate. Nevertheless, that'll be quite impressive for 23andMe, although the company is not currently profitable. 23andMe was last valued at $2.5 billion after pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) invested $300 million in the company mid-last year.


The investment came as part of a four-year strategic partnership that involves both companies working on R&…

IBM Cuts Headcount By Roughly 2,000

IBM is cutting about 2,000 jobs from its total headcount as it works to reshape its business, according to news reports, including one from the Wall Street Journal where the company confirmed the job cuts via a statement from a representative. 2,000 jobs represent less than 1% of its total employees, which stood at 350,600 by 2018 end.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, IBM confirmed that a “small percentage of employees” who are not performing “at a competitive level” would be laid off from the company. “We are continuing to re-position our team to align with our focus on the high value segments of the IT market – while aggressively hiring in critical new areas that deliver value for our clients and IBM," an IBM representative said in a statement.


As part of a shift toward cloud computing and artificial intelligence away from traditional IT, IBM began cutting headcount in the U.S. in 2016. The company also made additional lay-offs in 2017. IBM has moved slowly in compar…

A GM Cruise Test With Honda's CEO Reportedly Went Wrong

According to a piece from The Information highlighting technical difficulties faced by GM Cruise, A test from the driverless car company that happened mid-April with Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo went wrong, with its self-driving car software suddenly switching off after about 20 minutes in. The report says attempts to restart the software failed, leading its backup driver to take control and a second self-driving car picking up Honda CEO Hachigo to complete the test.

Such glitch may be embarrassing to Cruise, given Honda's status as one of the largest investors in the company, with a $2.75 billion commitment. The Information says glitches like this have led GM Cruise to repeatedly postpone its planned launch of a fully commercial robotaxi service, from an initial time frame of 2018 to the very end of this year. Launching a fully commercial robotaxi service is undoubtedly hard, with Cruise's technical difficulties being the latest reminder of how far driveress car technology has…

BMW Launches New Facility In Mexico

BMW has launched a new automotive plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, that'll assemble and deliver BMW 3 Series Sedans to customers worldwide and also strengthen BMW's production reach in North and South America. BMW has invested more than $1 billion in the new facility and currently employs 2,500 people there. The automaker says the facility will manufacture up to 175,000 cars per year once it's fully worked on.

The new BMW plant is powered by 100% renewable energy thanks to a solar energy plant covering more than 70,000 square meters. The plant will also produce no paint wastewater, with already used water during the painting process reconditioned and re-used on more vehicles. Robots and humans will work alongside each other in pre-assembling engines, with robots leveraging their prowess to assemble parts while employees make final adjustments.



With this new facility, BMW now has a total of 31 production facilities globally. BMW sold a total of 25,090 vehicles in Mexico l…

FedEx Ends Delivery Contract With Amazon

FedEx has announced that it's not renewing a FedEx Express contract with Amazon, as it focuses on "serving the broader e-commerce market". FedEx termed the decision as "strategic", even as revenue from Amazon's contract accounted for 1.3% of FedEx's total revenue last year. The contract will terminate on the last day of this month (June 30).

The non-renewal signals increasing competition, both in the e-commerce sector and also between FedEx and Amazon. Both companies have begun to compete in several areas. For example, Amazon unveiled a delivery robot in January with FedEx following suit the next month. Amazon also recently unveiled a delivery drone that it says will start making deliveries "within months".


E-commerce is expected to grow to 100 million packages delivered daily compared to 50 million now by 2026. FedEx says it has built out the network and capacity to make deliveries for thousands of e-commerce retailers. Although Amazon still…

Jetblack Shoppers Are Spending Up To $1,500 Monthly

On Friday at its annual shareholders meet-up in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart revealed that users of Jetblack -- a personal shopping service launched by Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss that's part of Walmart's Store No. 8 incubator -- are spending an average of $1,500 each month. But the purchases are not all from Walmart as Jetblack also buys products from other retailers for its users.

"It brings conversational commerce to life, and customers are absolutely loving it," Walmart e-commerce CEO Marc Lore said at the company's annual shareholders meet-up. "Today, more than two-thirds of Jetblack members engage with us weekly, spending on average $1,500 per month."


Walmart didn't say how much of the average spent each month was on its own products. Jetblack charges $50 for a monthly membership that lets its customers order products with a simple text message. Jetblack, the first business to emerge from Walmart’s tech incubator, launched Ma…

IBM And T-Systems Abandon Mainframe Deal

IBM and T-Systems, the IT services arm of German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom, have abandoned a deal that was meant to see IBM acquire assets in IT services and outsourcing, and mainframe computing from T-Systems for  a reported 860 million euros ($962 million) as at the time the deal was announced. This is shortly after Germany's anti-trust regulator extended its review of the deal by two weeks.

IBM appears to have pulled out from the deal after criticism from Germany's Federal Cartel Office. “According to our preliminary assessment IBM holds a dominant position here in the European Economic Area which would have been further strengthened by acquiring personnel and essential infrastructure from its competitor, T-Systems,” The country's Cartel Office chief Andreas Mundt said in a statement on Friday.


The deal marks a blow for for T-Systems CEO Adel Al-Saleh, who -- since taking over last year -- has lessened headcount, closed down offices and explored ways to do away wi…

Beyond Meat Triples Sales In Q1

Beyond Meat -- the Los Angeles company that makes meat directly from plants and recently debuted on the public markets -- just released its first financial results as a public company, showing a year-over-year triple in first quarter sales. Beyond Meat's revenue for the first quarter ending March 2019 was $40.2 million, up from $12.8 million in the same period last year. But the company recorded Q1 losses of $6.6 million, up from $5.7 million in the same period last year.

Beyond Meat expects revenues of $210 million this year. After a release of the financial results, Beyond Meat soared up to 23% in after-hours trading and currently trades for $99.5 a pop (as of writing), roughly a quadruple from its $25 IPO debut price. Beyond Meat's market cap stood at roughly $5.8 billion (as of writing).


Beyond Meat had its IPO on the 6th of May, selling roughly 11 million shares and raising $252 million, after underwriting discounts, commissions and other expenses. Other key stats from t…

Walmart Will Deliver Groceries Directly To Customers' Fridges

Walmart has unveiled a new way for its customers to get groceries, this time, directly to their refrigerators. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon will be onstage later today to showcase the new way customers can order fresh groceries and other essentials and have them delivered directly to their kitchen or garage fridge.

The new service is dubbed Walmart InHome Delivery. With InHome Delivery, customers who order groceries will be able to select an option to have them delivered inside their homes. They'll also get to choose a delivery day. For security, Walmart's couriers will make use of smart entry technology to get into homes and will be equipped with a wearable camera that homeowners can monitor delivery on.


Walmart's couriers who will deliver to customers' homes will also go through special training to prepare them for such tasks, including how to select the freshest grocery items and how to organize them in a refrigerator. Walmart will also let customers return items deli…

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Angela Ahrendts Joins Airbnb's Board

Airbnb has added former Apple retail chief and ex Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to its board. She'll serve as the company's third independent non-affiliated board member, the other two being former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and former Pixar Studios CFO Ann Mather (who also serves on the boards of Netflix, Alphabet, Arista Networks, Glu Mobile and Shutterfly).

Ahrendts led global retail at Apple for five years before stepping down this year to be replaced by three decade running Apple Veteran Deirdre O’Brien. Prior to Apple, she spent eight years as CEO of British luxury brand Burberry. She also spent 25 years in New York as an executive at fashion brand Liz Claiborne and as President of Donna Karan International prior to Burberry.


Other notable Airbnb board members include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Sequoia's Alfred Lin, Andreessen Horowitz's Jeff Jordan, and co-founders Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk.



Boosted Boards Nabs $60 Million Series B Funding

Electric skateboard manufacturer Boosted has raised $60 million Series B funding co-led by Khosla Ventures and iNovia Capital with participation from existing investors Stanford-StartX Fund and Bay Meadows. This rounds brings the total raised by Boosted to over $70 million and will see former Google CFO and iNovia partner Patrick Pichette move from an existing independent board position at the company to a preferred board seat.

"Today’s generation is quickly adopting light electric vehicles as a superior way to commute, saving both time and money over existing options while enjoying the ride," Boosted CEO Jeff Russakow says. "However, the majority of lightweight vehicles on the street today are leisure-grade or toy-grade products, when riders need vehicle-grade products that provide exceptional acceleration and braking performance, safety, durability, and superior design."


"Boosted has been perfecting street-quality technologies for the electric skateboard ma…

Meet goPuff, A Low-key Delivery Company Worth $1 Billion

The food-delivery market is one with intense competition. The likes of DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, Deliveroo, Swiggy, Just Eat, Yelp Eat 24, and more are steadily competing for global market share while also raising huge funding. Just recently, Deliveroo raised $575 million in a round led by Amazon. DoorDash has also raised $600 million Series G funding at a $12.6 billion valuation.

Amid the intense battle, it turns out there's one hot startup that has stayed low key to avoid the eye of rivals, but it seems word is getting out. That low-key hot startup is goPuff, on-demand convenience store delivery app that was valued at $1 billion last November after a financing round, according to regulatory filings reviewed by The Information. goPuff ships products to customers from centrally located facilities -- as opposed to direct pickup from stores -- in 81 U.S. cities.


The company -- based in Philadelphia -- stocks more than 3,000 products at its facilities which it then ships to cu…

Affirm Raises $300 Million Thrive Capital Led Round

Affirm - the online lending startup led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin - has raised $300 million Series F funding led by Joshua Kushner's Thrive Capital, with participation from new investors Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Baillie Gifford, Wellington Management and Fidelity, and returning investors GIC, Founders Fund, Spark Capital, Ribbit Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Moore Asset Backed Fund.

Affirm has now raised $800 million in total funding, with this round valuing the company at $2.9 billion according to Axios. Thrive Capital is getting a board seat at Affirm with its investment. The company has also announced new additions to its board and executive team. Former Groupon executive Silvija Martincevic is joining as Chief Commercial Officer, former PayPal executive Greg Fisher is joining as Chief Marketing Officer, ex OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles is joining as an independent board member.


Affirm, which allows its customers get loans of up to $15…

Wall Street Arrange Big Loans For China's Unicorns

Several investment banks -- like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- are known to have arranged big loans for U.S. tech unicorns. Companies that have taken on such big loans include the likes of Uber, Opendoor, WeWork, Dropbox, SpaceX, SoFi and Affirm to name a few. But recently, China's Bytedance got a $1.34 billion loan from a group dominated by Wall Street banks, pointing to a new area of interest from Wall Street lenders; Chinese companies.

China's tech unicorns are not conventionally known for taking on big loans, but this may be changing, with a Bloomberg piece stating that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are arranging an up to $1 billion debt facility for Chinese real estate brokerage Beike Zhaofang, not too long after the brokerage secured $800 million in funding. Bloomberg also says Guazi -- fresh off  $1.5 billion in funding from Softbank earlier this year -- is in talks with banks for a credit facility of up to $400 million.


With historically low borrowing costs, …

Grab Reportedly Eyeing Banking License

According to a Reuters report, Grab -- the Singapore-based ride-hailing company valued at $14 billion -- is considering getting a banking license to offer online-banking services in Singapore as regulators in the city-state consider allowing online-only banks to operate. Reuters says Grab is close to enlisting a consultancy to give advice on its banking potential and is preparing to apply for a digital-only bank license if Singapore regulators open up the sector.

If this happens, it'll mark Grab's first foray into banking, not surprising given its massive funding ($8.8 billion total, according to Crunchbase data). Grab may be looking for ways to expand its reach and market prospects, with digital banking being attractive thanks to Southeast Asia’s growing payments market.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said last month that it was looking into the potential for letting “digital-only banks with non-bank parentage” into Singapore's market. According to Reuters, th…

Hyundai Takes Stake In Aurora

Shortly after Aurora partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving vehicles, Hyundai has announced it has invested an undisclosed sum in Aurora, cementing a strategic partnership -- to work on self-driving technologies -- formed between both parties in 2018. With this investment, Hyundai and Aurora have agreed to expand research to other vehicle models, with the latter now working to build a custom self-driving platform for Hyundai and -- its subsidiary brand -- Kia's driverless vehicles.

Hyundai says its self-driving vehicles will "enhance their ability to monitor, react, and adapt to different surroundings" with the addition of "Driver", Aurora's self-driving stack. This stack is what Aurora earlier agreed to sell to Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai has made some waves in the driverless vehicle world, having successfully demonstrated self-driving tech in urban environments at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company also debuted a fleet of driv…

Volvo And Uber Debut New Automated Car

Volvo and Uber have teamed up for a new self-driving car that'll be equipped with self-driving features at the factory level as opposed to fitting already made cars with Uber's own self-driving technology. The new vehicle is a Volvo XC90 SUV that the automaker says is "capable of fully driving itself" when combined with technology developed by Uber ATG.

The new self-driving vehicle is equipped with more safety features, the most prominent being back-up systems for steering and braking functions. The systems are designed to get the vehicle to a halt if any of its primary systems fail. There's also battery back-up power for the vehicles.


Volvo and Uber entered a commercial agreement in 2016 for Volvo to supply tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles in coming years. This new vehicle is based on the partnership.

Volvo plans to put this new vehicle to work by 2020.



Badoo To Splurge $100 Million On Dating Apps

Badoo -- a popular dating service whose holding company also controls a 79% stake in female focused dating app Bumble -- has said it would overhaul its holding structure and spend $100 million on dating apps under its holdings. The company has set up a new holding company -- named Magic Lab --  that'll serve as parent for its brands, which include dating apps Badoo, Lumen and Chappy.

This move is likely being made to hold strong against competition from Match Group's Tinder and also Facebook, which rolled out a dating feature to 14 more countries roughly one month ago.

Badoo is undoubtedly a leader in online dating, with more than 400 million users. The company is said to be weighing an IPO and has also been reported to be shopping Bumble, for a price tag hovering around $1.5 billion.

Badoo made an official announcement of its planned investment on Friday.



FDA Picks Four Companies For Blockchain-Based Drug Tracking

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has selected IBM, Walmart, KPMG and pharmaceutical giant Merck to be included in a program focused on leveraging blockchain tech to identify and track prescription drugs and Vaccines distributed within the US. The program is aimed at assisting parties involved in the drug supply chain -- including the FDA -- in developing an electronic system that will help trace certain prescription drugs and Vaccines distributed within the US.

As part of the program, the four companies will work on a shared blockchain network that allows real-time tracking of products. The network will focus on reducing time needed to track and trace inventory, to make retrieval of distribution information faster.

A pilot program on this is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, with next steps to be taken -- by the four companies -- evaluated at this point.