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Showing posts from December, 2018

Quibi Reportedly Planning Up To $1 Billion Raise

According to a report from The Information, Quibi -- the mobile video streaming service led by Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP and eBay CEO Meg Whitman -- is planning to raise up to $1 billion, months after a $1 billion raise August last year. Current investors in Quibi include the likes of Alibaba, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Sony Pictures, Viacom, Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, and Warner Media.

Some of Quibi's investors also double as strategic partners. Based out of Los Angeles, Quibi's service -- a mashup of Netflix meets YouTube -- is expected to launch next year, according to CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg had previously told Variety that he was seeking to raise $2 billion for Quibi, entailing the report of an additional $1 billion raise is not quite far-fetched.


Quibi is focused on short-form videos of under 10 minutes or so in length that'll be made available on its app. Katzenberg has a long history and expertise in film-making…

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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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…

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.



Private equity giant Hellman & Friedman buys into home security startup SimpliSafe at a reported $1 Billion Valuation

image credit : SimpliSafe

Boston based home security startup SimpliSafe which provides self-installed security systems which are used by a huge number of homes in the U.S. has now sold a major interest in the company to Global private equity and investment giant Hellman & Friedman for an undisclosed sum which according to various sources values the company at a huge $1 Billion

The company which last raised $57 million in a Sequioa Capital led round and has been growing very well with the company counting over 300,000 customers as far as 2015 and a vast number of consumers currently making use of its suite of home security products.

This majority acquisition represents another move by Hellman & Friedman making huge acquisitions and bets in the technology space with the investment company's tech portfolio including notable companies like DoubleClick, Getty Images, Customer experience solutions company Genesys amidst other of its notable investments.

SimpliSafe will now conti…

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Boosted Debuts A Scooter

Boosted, the company known for its lineup of electric skateboards, has debuted a new product, this time not a new skateboard, but an electric scooter. The new scooter, Boosted Rev has been made available for pre-order. This debut comes a few months after Boosted raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Khosla Ventures.

Features of the Boosted Rev include:
24 mph top speed.22 miles range.LED display.Electric brakes.Custom folding mechanism.A Throttle Wheel -- that allows for one-handed acceleration and braking by a roll of the thumb.


Boosted claims the new scooter was put through "rigorous mechanical, electrical, and environmental tests that greatly exceed industry standards for light electric vehicles". The Boosted Rev retails for $1,600 and will begin shipping in and outside the U.S. by summer.



CrowdStrike Files For IPO

CrowdStrike -- a cyber-security company valued at $3 billion from a last year round -- has filed with the SEC to go public, joining the likes of Slack, Fastly, and Postmates which have also filed to hit the public markets this year. According to Crunchbase data, CrowdStrike has raised a total of nearly $500 million in funding.

Below are some key takes from its IPO filing:
$250 million in revenue -- for the year ended January 2019 -- albeit $140 million in losses. Revenue is up from $52.7 million in 2017 and $118.7 million in 2018. Losses grew from $91.3 million in 2017 to $135 million in 2018.$88.4 million current cash and cash equivalents, compared to $63.1 million in 2018.2,516 subscription customers in 2019, compared to 1,242 in 2018 and 450 in 2017.$172.7 million sales and marketing spend in fiscal 2019, compared to $104.3 million in 2018, and $53.7 million in 2018.$58.9 million R&D spend in 2018, compared to $39.1 million in 2017.$44.9 million compensation for CEO George Kurt…

Lilium Unveils Five-Seater Jet

Lilium, a Munich based startup with $100 million in funding that's developing electric vertical take-off and landing jets has unveiled a new five-seater all-electric aircraft prototype and announced a completion of its first maiden flight in German skies. The new aircraft dubbed Lilium Jet is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines that Lilium says allows it to take-ff and land vertically, "while achieving remarkably efficient horizontal, or cruise, flight."

The new prototype has a quite simple design, with no propellers, no tail, no gearbox, and no rudder. Lilium says this "contributes to the safety and affordability of the aircraft" and also leaves room for customer-oriented features like panoramic windows and gull-wing doors.


The Lilium Jet features a top speed of 300km/h and can go 300km on full charge. It first took to the air at 08.03 local time on 4th May 2019 in Germany, after "extensive ground testing" at Lilium's Munich headquarters. The…

Nextdoor Raises $123 Million At $2.1 Billion Valuation

Nextdoor -- the popular neighborhood social network app available in 10 countries (spanning 236,000 neighborhoods) has raised $123 million in funding led by Riverwood Capital, with participation from existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Tiger Global, and Benchmark. An unspecified "large global asset manager" also participated in this round according to Nextdoor's statement.

The company was valued at $2.1 billion with this round, up from $1.1 billion in 2015. Riverwood Capital founder Chris Varelas is joining Nextdoor's board as part of terms of its investment. Nextdoor is notably led by Sarah Friar, the former CFO of payments giant Square and also board member at Walmart and Slack. Friar departed Square October last year to take the reins at Nextdoor.


This round included, Nextdoor has raised some $400 million in total funding according to Crunchbase data. Other notable investors in the company include Greylock Partners, Shasta Ventures, Axel Springer, Comcast Venture…

Away Raises $100 Million At $1.4 Billion Valuation

Away -- the popular New York headquartered luggage travel brand -- has raised $100 million Series D funding that values it at $1.4 billion, up from $400 million last year according to Pitchbook data. Wellington Management Company led the round, with participation from Lone Pine Capital, Baillie Gifford, and existing investor Global Founders Capital. This round included, Away has raised a total of $156 million since inception.

The company says it grew from $12 million in sales in its first 12 months, to $150 million in 2018, and claims it's projected to double sales this year. With this funding, Away says it'll expand its product line, grow its physical retail footprint, and fuel international expansion.


Away has hit a unicorn valuation just three years after start which is quite impressive. The company is among several others that have raised huge funding recently which include Nextdoor ($123 million at $2.1 billion valuation), GM Cruise ($1.15 Billion At $19 Billion Valuatio…

Samsung Launches Apple TV And AirPlay 2 On TVs

Samsung has issued a firmware update that'll make the new Apple TV app and AirPlay 2 support available on its 2019 model smart TVs and select 2018 models. Apple TV will be available on its smart TVs in more than 100 countries while AirPlay 2 support spreads to 176 countries. This entails users of Samsung's Smart TV platform can now launch Apple TV via a simple icon to access their iTunes movies and TV show purchases.

When Apple TV+ launches this fall, users will be able to gain access to the host of new content from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jason Momoa, and Octavia Spencer being launched by Apple. For now, users can subscribe to channels within the Apple TV app, paying for only the ones they want and watching directly via the app.


The Apple TV app will work together with Samsung Smart TV services like Bixby, Search and Universal Guide. Also, with AirPlay 2 support, users are now able to play content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac directly on their Samsung…