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Bowery Raises $90 Million in New Funding led by Alphabet's GV

Indoor farming startup Bowery has raised a $90 million round led by Alphabet's GV with participation from Almanac Ventures, Temasek and existing investors GGV Capital, First Round Capital, and General Catalyst. GV partner Andy Wheeler who is notable for investments including Carbon, Desktop Metal, Farmer’s Business Network and Abundant Robotics is joining Bowery's board as part of this deal.

Bowery plans to focus this funding across three areas: building out its operations, expanding its products and partnerships and and growing its team to do both according to a company post. Its plan is to build a global distributed network of farms connected to each other through BoweryOS, the backbone of its indoor farming system.

The company hopes to open multiple farms next year and has already begun work on its next farm outside the New York metropolitan area. Bowery packages its indoor grown products for customers, offering the opportunity to purchase fresh, local, pesticide-free produ…

Facebok's David Marcus leaves Coinbase's board to Avoid ‘Appearance’ of Conflict of Interest

image credit: Flickr/Quintano Media

Facebook's current blockchain head David Marcus has now stepped down from the board of digital currency exchange unicorn Coinbase in a bid to avoid conflict on interest over his new role as head of the social networking giant's blockchain efforts which may compete with Coinbase's products.

According to a Facebook spokesperson as reported by CNBC, the move was “to avoid the appearance of conflict, rather than because of an actual conflict.”

The Facebook Vice President who is also a former President of PayPal was appointed to Coinbase's board December last year being chosen based on his experience at with digital payments at both PayPal and Facebook in addition to his knowledge of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

“Because of the new group I'm setting up at Facebook around Blockchain, I've decided it was appropriate for me to resign from the Coinbase board." Marcus said in a statement released to various media outlets concerning his resignation from the board.

In a separate statement, Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong thanked Marcus for his service at the 6 year old startup which booked $1 Billion in revenue last year thanks to a rise in the adoption of digital currencies.

“David Marcus has been a wonderful addition to the Coinbase board, providing valuable perspective and mentorship,” Armstrong said in the statement.

Marcus also added "Getting to know Brian, who's become a friend, and the whole Coinbase leadership team and board has been an immense privilege. I've been thoroughly impressed by the talent and execution the team has demonstrated during my tenure, and I wish the team all the success it deserves going forward."

Marcus initially led led Facebook Messenger before transitioning to lead its blockchain efforts and is credited for the introduction of the app's peer-to-peer payment platform which kicked off 3 years ago in the U.S. with more business payment services being implemented on the platform which has over 1.2 Billion monthly users.

According to a Coinbase spokesperson, There are currently no efforts being made to fill Marcus's now empty board seat at the company.

Current board members of Coinbase include Andreessen Horowitz's Chris Dixon and Katie Haun, IVP's Tom Loverro, Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson and co-founder Fred Ehrsam along with Armstrong who leads as CEO.

This move notably hints of Facebook seriously increasing its blockchain efforts as job postings related to the space shows that the company is currently looking to fill the positions of a Public Policy Manager for Blockchain and a Software Engineering Manager for the same field with both postings based across 3 locations.

Facebook was also said to have approached cryptocurrency firm Stellar mulling to build a payments network but has denied this claim as per recent reports.


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Hertz Partners with Clear to Make Use of Biometrics to Speed Up The Car Rental Process

Car rental giant Hertz has partnered with biometrics firm Clear for a new service that makes use of biometrics to speed up the car rental process and make sure travelers get through the exit gate and on the road in 30 seconds or less, a time savings of at least 75% for customers.

To use the service dubbed Hertz Fast Lane powered by tech from Clear, members would enroll just once for easy identification leading to a simple and smooth experience at over 40 car rental locations across the U.S. adopting this technology.

It's already available at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will be rolled out to other planned locations throughout next year. These locations include some of the busiest U.S. airports like the John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Now, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty members who sign up and link their accounts to Clear will be able to verify their identity and renta…

Uber Reportedly Selects Morgan Stanley to Lead Next Year IPO

Uber has reportedly selected investment bank Morgan Stanley for its long-awaited IPO scheduled for next year putting the bank which has lead IPOs for technology companies including Sonos, NIO, Tenable, Bloom Energy, Domo and Moderna Therapeutics in a position to reap a large gain from a public offering which could value Uber at $120 billion.
Bloomberg reports Goldman Sachs is also likely to play a role in the IPO which would mark one of the largest debuts ever and will likely be the largest listing to take place next year. Morgan Stanley was previously reported to have helped Uber draft its IPO prospectus.

Rival Lyft's IPO is being led by JPMorgan Chase with the help of Credit Suisse and Jefferies Financial Group. It's said to be targeting a valuation between $18 billion - $30 billion for its debut. 
Big winners from the Uber IPO will include Softbank which purchased $8 billion of shares from investors and $1.25 billion worth of new shares in what marked as the largest equity…

Slack has Reportedly tapped Goldman Sachs for a Next Year IPO

Enterprise collaboration software company Slack has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to lead a public offering scheduled for next year as an underwriter.
Reuters reports this citing people familiar with the matter. It says Slack hopes to garner a valuation of well over $10 billion for a stock market debut whose timing will depend on market conditions.

Slack which competes with the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Atlassian and Alphabet raised $427 million this August at a $7.1 billion valuation. It has raised over $1 billion in total from investors including Softbank, General Atlantic, AME Cloud Ventures, Baillie Glifford, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Accel.
Other companies also expected to go public next year include Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Airbnb and Stripe. This year saw a lot of successful debuts including Eventbrite, Farfetch, Aston Martin, Elastic, Funding Circle, Anaplan, NIO and SurveyMonkey.

Uber Reportedly makes Confidential Filing for IPO just after Lyft

Just after Lyft announced a confidential filing for an IPO this Thursday, Its main rival Uber reportedly followed suit with its own confidential filing for an Initial Public Offering. The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber made the filing that same Thursday citing people familiar with the matter.
It says the filing indicates the company could go public as soon as the first quarter of the next year putting it heads on with Lyft on the race to the public markets. Uber valued at $76 billion from its most recent $500 million investment from Toyota could debut at $120 billion on the public market according to various estimates.

The ride-hailing giant has raised about $20 billion till date and counts 20,000 global employees, five times that of Lyft. Uber leads by far in the market with a 69% share compared to Lyft's 28% according to credit card data tracker Second Measure.
The Wall Street Journal reports a loss of $254 million on sales of $563 million in the most recent quarter for …

Apple Pay Kicks Off in Germany

Four years after a first launch in the U.S., Apple has launched its mobile payments service in Germany making a total of 33 countries Apple Pay can now be used in. Customers at banks like Commerzbank unit Comdirect, Hanseatic Bank, Deutsche Bank and Wirecard and also of credit card providers Visa, American Express and Mastercard are now able to use Apple's Boon app in the country.
Retailers like supermarket chain Kaufland, Aldi and Lidl, Zara, H&M, MediaMarkt and Esprit will accept payments with Apple Pay which enable customers transact easily by holding their smartphone in front of payment terminal.

"We are delighted to now offer boon via Apple Pay to all owners of an Apple device. Together with Apple Pay, we are further enhancing the user experience for consumers and thus advance the digitization of payment processes globally." Wirecard Executive Vice President (for) Consumer Solutions Georg von Waldenfels said in a press release.
A dispute over fees is said to ha…

InVision Picks Up $115 Million Series F Round at $1.9 Billion Valuation

Digital product design platform InVision has picked up a $115 million Series F round led by Spark Capital with participation from Goldman Sachs and existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Battery Ventures, FirstMark, Tiger Global and Geodesic Capital. 
This round which values the company at $1.9 billion also includes a previously reported investment which came along with a partnership from Australian software company Atlassian. Spark Capital Partner and former Google and Square product leader Megan Quinn will be joining InVision's board as part of this deal.

InVision is celebrating hitting five 5 million users on its platform which include team members at companies like Amazon, Netflix, General Electric, Uber, Toyota, Vodafone, Starbucks and IKEA as announced by the company also. It has now raised $350 million in total from an impressive investor list that includes the biggest names in the venture capital scene.
In recent years, The company has evolved from a prototyping tool for desi…

Huawei Reportedly Planning $2 billion Cybersecurity unit Comeback

Huawei is said to be planning a revamp of its global software systems in response to increasing fears of its wireless equipment being at risk of tampering and hacking. Bloomberg reports this citing people familiar with the matter and states of the company planning to put in at least $2 billion into transforming the way it develops software.

The Chinese telecom giant is facing a crucial moment following the arrest of its CFO Wanzhou Meng in Canada on the 1st of December following allegations that the company violated U.S. trade sanctions with Iran. Meng is notably the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, an ex-People's Liberation Army officer who has led the company since its founding in 1987.

Also marking a crucial point is that Huawei has positioned itself with lots of research & development into 5G technology and is getting ready for huge equipment orders from phone companies as the transition to 5G stands imminent. Western governments are concerned that Huawei's eq…

Shuttered Rideshare Startup Sidecar Sues Uber Alleging Practices 'Hell-bent on Stifling Competition'

Shuttered rideshare startup Sidecar, An early mover in the ridesharing industry alongside Uber and Lyft that went bust after 4 years in operation is suing Uber over what it claims are predatory pricing and anti-competitive practices that put it out of business.
Sidecar's lawsuit filed in a San Francisco district court claims “Uber became hell-bent on stifling competition from ride-hailing apps,” and made use of subsidies and fake ride requests to competing services in order to exert its number one position in the ride-hailing market.

"Instead of competing on the merits, Uber used a number of tactics that are against the law to drive Sidecar out of business." Sidecar co-founder Sunil Paul said in a blog post detailing why the firm is suing Uber. "Uber took illegal steps to undermine Sidecar and other competitors, while it planned all along to raise prices for consumers once it had secured a dominant market position." Paul said. 
"We shut down in December 2…

Tesla May Look Into Purchasing Idle General Motors Plants

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a CBS “60 Minutes” piece that the company may look to purchase some of the five factories General Motors will retire next year marking Tesla as the second rival in two days to signal possible moves of a facility takeover amid a worker downsize from GM.

Amid cutting down workers, GM is under pressure to keep some facilities to prevent job losses as its CEO Mary Barra has attended meeting with members of Congress in Washington for the past two days discussing plans to retire five factories which would affect 14,700 workers.

Tesla's sole auto plant in California which produces the Model S, Model 3 and Model X vehicles was notably purchased for $42 million from a joint venture by General Motors and Toyota who ran the factory for 25 years prior to the auction.

While Barra spoke with legislators on Thursday, Fiat Chrysler announced plans to restart one of its idle Detroit engine plans and build a new Jeep, escalating displeasure concerning GM's decision …

Facebook is Buying Back an Additional $9 billion Worth of Stock

Facebook's board has approved a move to increase its share repurchase program by $9 billion adding to the existing $15 billion figure planned by the company. This signals a move to appease investors following a dive in its stock after lots of scandals faced.
Facebook shares have gone down 24% this year and rose about 1.1% in after market trading. The company is being investigated by British lawmakers concerning the Cambridge Analytica saga after the now defunct political consulting firm which worked on Donald Trump's U.S. presidential campaign got hold of personal data of 87 million of its users from a researcher.

It's also facing scrutiny after being revealed to be involved in a controversial work with Republican opposition research firm Definers to compromise activist protesters, in part by linking them to liberal financier George Soros who has criticized the company.
This marks the second time the company is upping its buyback program by $9 billion after doing so this …