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Showing posts from December, 2018

Tinder Owner IAC Sues Co-Founder Sean Rad Over Company Documents

Match Group, the Dallas based online dating company behind popular services including Tinder, OkCupid and PlentyOfFish and its parent firm IAC has filed a lawsuit against Tinder co-founder and ex CEO Sean Rad alleging theft of company files and other proprietary files. The lawsuit filed in a Manhattan state court on Tuesday claims $250 million in damages.

It comes six months after Rad and other Tinder co-founders filed a $2 billion lawsuit against IAC, alleging it manipulated data to lessen Tinder's valuation and rob them of stock options, and that former CEO Greg Blatt engaged in sexual harassment.


IAC is now alleging that Rad in violation of an employment agreement, created backups of internal e-mails, directly copied company files that include “highly sensitive, non-public information concerning his employers’ business strategies and plans.” and forwarded company e-mails to personal addresses.

Tinder's history has had a share of lawsuits beginning from that of co-founder W…

Netflix Said To Hire Outgoing Activision CFO

Netflix is reportedly hiring Activision CFO Spencer Neumann who the company says it’s planning to let go of for unspecified reasons in an SEC filing. Reuters reports this hire citing a source familiar with the matter, stating Neumann who has been placed on paid leave at Activision will take helm as CFO at Netflix early 2019.

According to Activision’s filing, It intends to terminate Neumann  “for cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.”  A hire won’t come as a surprise as current Netflix CFO David Wells made known this August of his intention to step down after a long 14 years at the company.

Netflix is expected to make an official announcement of this hire in the next few days, Reuters says, also noting that the company wants its next chief financial officer to be based in the Los Angeles area with a focus on production finance. Prior to Activision Blizzard, Neumann held roles at private equity firms Summit Partners and Providence E…

IP Disputes Can Now Be Taken To The Chinese Supreme Court

Intellectual property cases can now be taken to the Chinese Supreme Court, the government said this Saturday, marking a step to strengthen protection of IP amid complaints from U.S. along with the European Union of low enforcement of intellectual property rights in the country.

With China and the U.S. in talks to come to terms on a trade dispute which has led to tariffs placed on imported goods from both sides, This move likely counts as one related to this as displaying seriousness about U.S. concerns count as a step towards this.


Even with this, Deputy chief justice Luo Dongchuan has dismissed suggestions that this move was influenced by the U.S. side. “China has for many years followed international regulations and international treaties to protect intellectual property rights,” Luo said. “So it’s not because of the demands by foreign countries that we’ve stepped up protection [efforts]. This is an integral part of our own development.”

"China is already the world's secon…

Epic Games Said To Have Banked $3 Billion Profit This Year

Fortnite developer Epic Games made $3 Billion in profit this year according to TechCrunch which cites a source with knowledge of its business.

If this stands true, it'll mark a very successful year even more than previously estimated for the Fortnite maker. Several analyst predictions estimated the company was in line to make $2 Billion in gross profits for 2018.


Fortnite has proved to be a money making machine with its 125 million players spending lots of cash on in-game items for the free to play title. Epic has not released any revenue statistics for any of its games, In addition to Fortnite, it also makes money from other games like Battle Breakers, Robot Recall, Spyjinx and game development platform Unreal Engine.




Dell Returns To Public Markets After 5 Years In Private Hands

Dell has begun trading on the public stock market after listing on the NYSE this Friday under the symbol 'DELL', a move achieved through a buyback of shares that tracked financial performance of VMware, a firm it holds a majority stake in.

The buyback deal involved cash and stock, worth nearly $24 billion and allowed it to sidestep a traditional listing process which would likely have seen scrutiny from investors concerning Dell's debt pile. Dell has been leveling down its debt, majority of which was issued for its 2015 $67 billion purchase of EMC.


Dell is trading at around $45 (as of writing) on the New York Stock Exchange, It opened at $46 and hit a low of $44.77 during trading today. According to the Wall Street Journal, Silver Lake Partners, a key backer in Dell's 2013 buyout is retaining its 24% stake in the company.


Tesla Adds Larry Ellison And Walgreens Executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson To Board

Tesla has made two new additions to its board with the appointment of Oracle chairman Larry Ellison and Walgreens Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer Kathleen Wilson-Thompson as independent directors. This appointment took effect as of December 27 2018.

Tesla's board, led by its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee made this appointment after conducting "a thorough, expansive process in searching for its new independent directors, considering candidates with a wide range of skill sets from across the globe who also hold a strong personal belief in Tesla’s mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy." The company said in its statement.


“In conducting a widespread search over the last few months, we sought to add independent directors with skills that would complement the current board’s experience. In Larry and Kathleen, we have added a preeminent entrepreneur and a human resources leader, both of whom have …

Apple Will Reportedly Start Assembling Top-End iPhone Models In India Next Year

According to a Reuters report, Apple supplier Foxconn will begin assembling high-end iPhone models in India, potentially taking its business in the country to a higher level and likely as a way to sidestep tariffs that may arise from a U.S.-China trade war.

The report says work will begin at Foxconn’s plant in the town of Sriperumbudur with a 25 billion Indian rupees ($356 million) investment set for expansion of the manufacturing facility. This may create as much as 25,000 jobs in the Indian market, it added.


A move like this makes much sense for Apple as in addition to avoiding potential tariffs from the Chinese side where it assembles the bulk of its products, India has also placed high tariffs on imported smartphones in recent years, making Apple's products more expensive and unable to compete with cheaper models from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and Micromax who lead the country's smartphone market.

Apple has already begun assembling lower-cost iPhone SE and 6S mod…

Amazon And Walmart Face Tough Rules In Indian Market

E-commerce leaders Amazon and Flipkart are facing tough rules from the Indian government aimed at preventing predatory pricing and deep discounts that pose threat to its local retail market. The rule, effective from the 1st of February require that all vendors be treated equally on the same terms and that cash back provided must be fair and not affect the price of goods and services.

The Indian government has also barred e-commerce services from coercing sellers to feature products exclusively on their platforms. E-commerce companies will have to present a certificate confirming compliance to these rules along with an auditor's note to the Reserve Bank of India by the 30th of September every year for the preceding financial year.


Highlights noted in the government's statement include :

E-commerce companies no longer permitted to offer products made by companies which they hold equity in or have control of its inventory.Name, address and other contact details of the seller shou…

White House Reportedly Mulling Executive Order To Ban Purchase Of Huawei And ZTE Equipment

According to Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump is considering an executive order in the new year that will bar use of telecom equipment made by China's Huawei and ZTE for U.S. companies, a move that will mark the latest by the Trump Administration to cut Huawei and ZTE from the U.S. market following concerns its equipment could be used to spy on American citizens.

Reuters says the executive order which has been in consideration for over 8 months could be issued next month and would direct the United States Department of Commerce to prevent U.S. companies from purchasing equipment from foreign manufacturers that pose national security risks.





The order might unlikely name Huawei and ZTE in a direct manner but would be interpreted as authorization to restrict spread of equipment made by the two companies. An order like this may affect rural operators in the U.S. who make use of equipment made by foreign manufacturers that would cost lots of money and time to replace.

Telecom gian…

Citron Predicts Facebook Stock Could Hit $160 Next Year

Activist short seller Citron Research has predicted Facebook, trading at around $134 (as of writing) may hit $160 next year as it maintains revenues and user base with little impact even in the midst of several data scandals and privacy issues.

After years of growth, for the first time ever, Facebook is trading at a discount to the S&P and is at its lowest multiple ever, in part to data scandals including a most recent issue involving sharing of user data with several tech giants like Spotify, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo, it defended itself arguing this only happened with user permission granted.


"Despite Facebook’s massive $9.5B R&D Budget, it is inevitable that the system will somehow be abused or exploited." Citron said in its report. "What excites Citron the most is not the: live streaming, 3d photos, integration of platforms, or augmented reality. We believe investors will be rewarded by the shift of user behavior to Instagram shopping and the personalizati…

Amazon Inks A Record Holiday Season With "More Items Ordered Worldwide Than Ever Before"

Amazon has announced it had a record holiday season with customers purchasing millions more Amazon Devices this season compared to last year, best-selling devices for this period include the new Echo Dot smart speaker, The Echo and the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.

The company also said "tens of millions of people" globally began trials or paid memberships for its Amazon Prime subscription bundle, with over a billion items shipped for free this holiday in the U.S. Its Ring and Blink product lines also had more sales this holiday season than ever before, as per its statement.


Other highlights noted by the company for this holiday season include :
Customers requesting nearly 3x as many recipes on Alexa than normal.Alexa setting over 100 million timers.Customers requesting Alexa to turn on their holiday lights tens of millions of times, the number one request being “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey being the top re…

Despite Turbulence, Huawei Sold Over 200 Million Smartphones This Year

Huawei has announced that it exceeded 200 million sold smartphones this year despite turbulence relating to bans of its telecom equipment and the recent arrest of its CFO Meng Wanzhou who is currently on bail in Canada.

The 200 million sales came about with strengthened sales of the Honor 10, P20 and Mate 20 models which account for a significant percentage of this figure. According to Huawei, within two months of release, The Mate 20 series had shipped over 5 million units while the popular Huawei nova series sold over 65 million units units year.


8 years ago, Huawei inked a little 3 million annual sales, now growing to over 200 million in 8 years, indicating high growth for the Chinese company. It says its smartphones are being used by more than 500 million countries in over 170 countries as of current.

"Looking to the future, Huawei's consumer business will focus on the core concept of 'consumer-centric', and will dare to keep innovating, and make every effort to …

Here Are All The Retail Locations Apple Opened This Year

Beginning January this year, Apple launched new retail spots across the globe, spanning countries from Japan to Thailand, France and others. On the 26th of January, it opened its first official store in South Korea featuring 140 employees including 18 Koreans who worked in stores around the world before heading home.

Here are all the stores the company launched around the globe throughout this year:
Apple Garosugil in Seoul, South Korea - The company launched its first ever store in the country on the 26th of January to thousands of customers who braved sub-freezing temperatures to witness the event attended by Apple's senior vice president of Retail Angela Ahrendts.




Apple Kärntner Straße in Austria - Shortly after a South Korea launch, Apple opened its first store in Austria on the 22nd of  February. It's located on a famous pedestrian shopping street between St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera, housing 150 employees who speak 44 languages.




Apple Shinjuku in Toky…

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FedEx Agrees To $35 Million Settlement With N.Y. Over Cigarette Deliveries

FedEx has agreed to pay a $35 million settlement to the state of New York over illegal cigarette deliveries to its residents over a ten-year period, resolving three lawsuits alleging it partnered with cigarette trafficking businesses to illegally ship hundreds of thousands of untaxed cigarettes to New York residents.

The company will also implement internal reforms and hire an independent consultant that will oversee its compliance with the law and provide reports to the city and state. October last year, NY federal district judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that FedEx's conduct over many years for customers with such names as “Cigarettes Direct To You” violated a federal anti-cigarette trafficking statute, prompting FedEx to cease residential cigarette deliveries.


The reforms FedEx has agreed to as part of this agreement include ceasing domestic shipments of tobacco products, implementing company-wide communication and annual training concerning tobacco shipments and taking disciplinary…

Ford To Close Down On-demand Shuttle Service Chariot By March End

Ford has announced it's shutting down Chariot, the on-demand shuttle service it acquired in 2016 with the 25th of January being the last day it'll operate in the U.K. followed by a halt in the U.S. by the 1st of February.

It says it's ceasing all Chariot operations across both countries by March end, discontinuing the service it snapped up for a reported $65 million plus in what marked as the first acquisition for Ford 'Smart Mobility', the Palo Alto based unit it established in 2016 to grab a hold in growing automotive services like autonomous driving, multi-mode transportation and ride-sharing.


Chariot, a Y Combinator Alum founded in 2014 had raised only $3 million in funding after graduating from the accelerator prior to its acquisition by Ford, It says it has made over 3 million rides for its customers so far and will refund remaining commuter credit balances after it shuts down its service.

It'll also work closely with enterprise customers on a transition…

Apple's Jeff Williams Says Qualcomm Declined To Provide Chips For 2018 iPhones

Testifying this Monday in the on-going Qualcomm suit, Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said the chipmaker declined to supply cellular modems for 2018 iPhones after Apple sued it in the previous year. William's testimony made known Apple was forced to use modems from Intel for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR rather than the decision being a choice by the company.

He said he tried negotiations with Qualcomm to provide new chips for Apple but was met with refusal while noting that Qualcomm still supply chips for older iPhone models. Apple is accusing Qualcomm of abusing its dominance in the smartphone chip market to force customers to use its products and take high patent licensing fees in return.


Just recently, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf argued that the company pushed to be the sole supplier of iPhone chips in response to a $1 billion "incentive payment" demanded by Apple, not with intention to block rivals like Intel from the market. Regulators …

Qualcomm CEO Says It Pushed For iPhone Exclusivity In Response To $1 Billion Apple Demand

Testifying in a Qualcomm lawsuit on Friday, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said the chipmaker pushed to become sole supplier of iPhone chips in response to a $1 billion "incentive payment" demanded by Apple, not as a move to block other suppliers from the market.

Mollenkopf says Qualcomm sought for exclusivity on the iPhone to regain the $1 billion payment Apple insisted on, stating that the company wasn't assured of how many chips the iPhone maker would be purchasing which pushed it to do this in order to ensure a safety net.


The payment made from Qualcomm to Apple in 2011 was meant to ease technical costs of swapping the iPhone's then Infineon chips with Qualcomm's, the CEO testified. Qualcomm was named sole supplier of Apple chips as part of a 2011 deal between the two, taking hold of a key smartphone market in a move antitrust regulators are terming as anti-competitive conduct.

Regulators are arguing Qualcomm did this in order to preserve its dominance in the…

Alibaba-Backed Megvii Reportedly Considering $1 Billion IPO

Face++ developer Megvii is weighing a Hong Kong IPO that could raise as much as $1 billion, Bloomberg reports. This comes not too long after one of its investors, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba was reported to be considering joining a $500 million round being prepped by the facial recognition software developer.

Bloomberg says Megvii is considering a public offering to raise between $500 million and $1 billion on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the same which hosted Xiaomi's debut last year, citing people familiar with the matter. “We are considering many options to raise funds but have not committed to a final plan,” a company spokesperson said in a messaged statement to Bloomberg.


Seven year old Megvii and another Alibaba backed company, SenseTime are leading the race in China's target to dominate the artificial intelligence field by 2030. Both companies provide AI based computer vision services for use cases including security, identification, entertainment, financial serv…

Postmates Raises $100 Million In Fresh Funding Ahead Of IPO

Postmates has raised $100 million in fresh funding ahead of a public offering as first reported by Recode followed by a confirmation from the company. This round values Postmates at $1.85 billion post-money, up from a previous $1.2 billion valuation.

Postmates has now raised nearly $700 million till date including this round. Investors including BlackRock, Tiger Global and other existing backers participated in this round.


This investment likely counts as a way for Postmates' shareholders to gain liquidity ahead of an IPO as opposed to raising funding for operations. The company is reportedly expecting up to $400 million in revenue on gross sales of $1.2 billion for 2018 indicating a good financial standing although it might not yet be profitable.

Postmates is currently available in north of 300 U.S. cities, having begun as an early player in the food delivery scene but is facing competition from the likes of DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats in a crowded U.S. market.


VW Not Yet Committed To Collaborating With Ford On Self-driving Cars

Volkswagen, set to announce an alliance with automaker Ford this Tuesday has not yet decided to collaborate with the company on self-driving cars, Its CEO Herbert Diess said, speaking to reporters in a roundtable at the North American International Auto Show.

“There’s still a lot of hype” about driverless vehicles and "a lot of money flowing in, but I think it’s still a long way to go until we really get the first paybacks,” Diess said. “There’s one alternative, which could be joining forces with Ford. It’s not yet decided. But it’s still a long way to go, many millions to be poured in and probably some setbacks to expect.”


In November, Volkswagen was reported to be considering an investment in Ford's Argo AI self-driving unit and also looking to share electric vehicle technology with Ford, tapping into the high amounts it has committed for battery powered vehicles.

Both companies have scheduled a tele-conference to reveal the results of discussions between them but Diess in…

Disney's Bob Iger Made Record $66 Million Last Year

A recent SEC filing made by Burbank, California-based Disney revealed its CEO Bob Iger made $65.6 million last year including $43.6 million in restricted stock and options and an $18 million cash incentive, Iger's largest ever compensation package, 81% higher than that of 2017.

Even with this, Iger missed out of a $60 million bonus tied to Disney's financial performance, meant to be paid if the company's cumulative segment operating income for five years ended September 29 surpassed $76 billion. Disney recorded $73.9 billion over this period.


Absent from his compensation details were stock grants tied to a completion of Disney's $71.3 billion deal to acquire 21st Century Fox, one still pending approval from regulators. Disney entered an agreement to acquire the company June last year, inking one of the largest acquisition deals in history.

Iger succeeded Michael Eisner as Disney CEO in 2005 and is on contract to retain the position through 2021. Under his leadership, …

SpaceX Is Laying Off 10% Of Its Employees

Elon Musk's SpaceX has confirmed it's laying off about 10% of its staff citing “extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead.” “To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company. Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations” A company spokesman said in a statement.

The company is offering at least eight weeks of pay and other benefits to persons being laid off and will remain with about 6,000 employees after the layoffs running company-wide is completed. It'll also provide assistance with job searches, resume help and career coaching for those laid off according to an e-mail sent by SpaceX president Gwyne Shotwell to employees.


While the reasons for these lay-offs are unclear, SpaceX which raised $273 million in funding out of a targeted $500 million earlier this month according to an SEC filing has ambitio…

Jay-Z's Tidal Under Investigation By Norwegian Authorities

Tidal, the music streaming service acquired by rapper Jay-Z in 2015 is being investigated by Norwegian authorities over allegations of false inflation of listening numbers. The Norway based streaming service is being probed by the Norwegian Authority for Investigation of Economic and Environmental Crime (Okokrim) after allegations from Norwegian artist associations who claim potential loss of income from data manipulation.

“It has been made known through media coverage that the reports relate to Tidal’s streaming service and a suspicion that someone has manipulated the number of plays of some songs,” Okokrim Attorney Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.


Tidal which was acquired by Jay-Z owned Project Panther Bidco in the first quarter of 2015 claims to pay the highest percentage of royalties to music artists and songwriters but has failed to catch up with services like Spotify and Apple Music. Telecom firm Sprint purchased 33% of the company for a report…