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Showing posts from December, 2018

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…

Most Read Posts

Cloudflare Pops On IPO Debut

Cloudflare, roughly a month after filing for an IPO, debuted on the public markets yesterday, raising $525 million from the sale of more than 35 million shares. Cloudflare priced its IPO at $15 a share, up from a previous range of between $10 to $12 per share. The company's stock jumped 20% on its debut to $18 per share, giving the company a market cap of roughly $5.3 billion. This is up from its last private valuation of $3.2 billion.

Cloudflare's IPO happened at the same time frame another highly-valued private company, SmileDirectClub, debuted on the public markets. SmileDirectClub filed to go public the same week as Cloudflare and also went public the same week the company did. But unlike Cloudflare, SmileDirectClub didn't pop on its public debut, instead falling 28% below its IPO price. Still, the brace-making company notched a valuation of $6.4 billion [as of Thursday], double its last private valuation of $3.2 billion (notice it's the same as that of Cloudflare…

Juul Sales Ceased In China Days After Launch

Just days after entering the Chinese market, Juul has halted sales in the country, with its products pulled from JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall, two of the biggest Chinese e-commerce marketplaces. No official reason for the halt was provided, but a statement from a Juul spokesperson hinted of regulatory issues. “While Juul products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again,” a spokeswoman for Juul said in a statement.

Juul's products became available in China beginning on the 9th of September, but suddenly disappeared from Chinese e-commerce sites on Tuesday. The company's move into China happens to be at a time it's facing regulatory scrutiny in the U.S., with the Trump Administration having made plans to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes. The renewed scrutiny from the U.S. government came amid recorded cases of deaths from vaping-related …

Fair Raises $500 Million In Debt Financing

Fair, a Santa Monica-based car leasing startup, has announced $500 million in debt financing led by Mizuho Bank, with participation from Softbank and other unnamed credit providers. This follows a $100 million debt facility closed over the summer, and a $50 million increase to its credit line with Silicon Valley Bank in July. Fair also has credit lines from Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, and previously raised $385 million in Series B funding led by Softbank.

Fair will use the new capital to expand its Uber partnership, which involves leasing cars on flexible terms to Uber drivers. Fair's appeal is its more-flexible-than-normal car leasing model that allows its customers lease a car for as long as they want and be able to cancel any time, in contrast with the long-term commitments of conventional car-leasing services. Thanks to its partnership with Uber, drivers looking to earn money through ride-sharing can easily lease a car and then drive for Uber, being able to cancel the le…

Affirm Reportedly Raising $1.5 Billion In New Funding

Not long after raising $300 million at a reported $2.9 billion valuation, TechCrunch reports that Affirm, an online lending startup led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, is raising as much as $1.5 billion in debt and equity funding. The report says Thrive Capital, the VC firm that led its $300 million funding, is leading the new financing, with participation from Spark Capital. According to TechCrunch, a significant part of the funding would lie on the debt side, with a line of credit from a large financial institution in the works.

Fintech companies, especially those focused on lending, often raise huge credit facilities or equity funding to sustain operations. For example, Kabbage, an online lender for small businesses, secured a $200 million credit facility sometime in June. Klarna, a Swedish startup that's in the same market as Affirm, recently raised $460 million in funding. Affirm is an online lender but doesn't actually lend money directly. It partners with several mer…

Softbank Reportedly Planning To Invest $750 Million In WeWork IPO

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Softbank, a major investor in WeWork, plans to buy at least $750 million worth of shares in WeWork's impending IPO, even amid reports of the company seeking a valuation as low as $10 billion for a public debut [a $10 billion figure would be lower than the $12.8 billion in equity and debt funding WeWork has raised since inception]. Softbank was previously reported to have pushed WeWork to postpone its IPO amid doubts and concerns over its cash burn rate and potential path to profitability. However, WeWork was reported to be going ahead with a public offering, even if it meant a value that's way lower than the $47 billion post-money valuation it got from a Softbank investment in January.

WeWork's push to go ahead with an IPO isn't surprising, given a $6 billion credit facility it has lined up that's contingent on it raising at least $3 billion from an IPO. However, there's no certainty there'll be enough in…

GitLab Raising Funding At A $2.6 Billion Valuation

GitLab has authorized the issuance of $268 million worth of shares that'll value it at $2.55 billion, according to a filing reviewed by the Prime Unicorn Index. Basically, it means the company, which was valued at more than $1 billion last year, plans to raise up to $268 million in funding at a $2.55 billion valuation. However, there's no guarantee the full amount will be raised, as it's dependent on investor interest and demand. GitLab was valued at $1.1 billion after it raised $100 million in Series D funding last September. ICONIQ Capital, an investment firm known to manage money for several Silicon Valley bigwigs, led that round.

If GitLab successfully raises at its targeted $2.55 billion valuation, it would mean a more than double in valuation in a single year, a very impressive feat for a startup. This is just a speculation, but GitLab may have seen a strong increase in user numbers after the acquisition of GitHub, another web-based Git repository, by Microsoft last…

This Is The Apple Watch Series 5

Earlier this week, Apple held a keynote event where it debuted the iPhone 11, alongside its Pro and Pro Max variants. On that day, Apple also announced the launch dates and pricing models for the Apple TV+ video subscription and Apple Arcade game subscription service. Apple TV+ will launch on the 1st of November, costing $5 per month. Apple Arcade on the other hand will launch in 4 days time (19 September), also costing $5 per month.

Alongside the iPhone 11, Apple debuted a new seventh-generation iPad, and the Apple Watch Series 5, the fifth iteration of the popular Apple Watch lineup. The Apple Watch Series 5 comes with never-seen before features in an Apple smartwatch, including an "Always-On Retina" display, which allows users to look at the time, or whatever is on the home screen without having to raise or tap the display; new location features, ranging from a built-in compass that'll tell the user what direction they're facing to a feature that measures the wea…

Square Said To Be Testing Free Stock Trading Service

According to a report from Bloomberg, Square is testing a new feature that'll let users of its Cash App to make free stock trades, a move that looks like a jab at Robinhood, a well known free stock trading service that was recently valued at $7.6 billion. Bloomberg reports Square employees began testing the new feature in recent weeks.

Square's Cash App already lets users do a lot of things, including sending money to friends, using an accompanying debit card, or buying and selling Bitcoin. Square doesn't consistently provides updates on how many people use the Cash App, but as at last year December, the company said the Cash App had more than 15 million monthly active users. Robinhood, which is mostly known for its free stock trading app although it's expanded into other areas like options trading and margins trading, had more than 6 million users as at 2018 end.

According to Bloomberg, Square's initial product will offer no-fee stock trading but wouldn't com…

France And Germany Could Block Facebook's Libra

Not long after Yves Mersch, a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, took a jab at Facebook's proposed digital currency, Libra, France and Germany, two eurozone countries, have opposed the digital currency, saying it posed risks to the financial sector that could block its authorization in Europe. Both countries have supported the development of an alternative public cryptocurrency, which the European Central Bank recently announced it was working on.

The criticism from both countries sound similar to that of Mersch, who earlier opposed Facebook's Libra, stating it posed a risk to the monetary control and oversight by EU member states. Mersch described the control of Libra, which will be overseen by a team of founding members who have put up at least $10 million each to get equal voting rights, as "cartel-like". In a joint statement, France and Germany's finance ministers, Bruno Le Maire and Olaf Scholz, said digital currencies pose risks to…

Facebook Said To Be Working With Luxottica To Make AR Glasses

According to a report from CNBC, Facebook has partnered with Luxottica to develop augmented-reality glasses that are designed to replace smartphones. For those not familiar, Luxottica is the world's largest eyewear company, that's behind several eyewear brands including the famous "Ray-Ban" collection. According to CNBC, Facebook has been working to develop AR glasses out of its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington, but faced struggles that have led it to seek help from a company like Luxottica. CNBC reports Facebook hopes a partnership with Luxottica will get its AR glasses completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025.

According to CNBC, the glasses are internally codenamed "Orion", and would allow users to take calls, see information in a small display and live-stream their camera feed to social media friends and connections. CNBC previously reported of Facebook developing an AI voice assistant that'll serve as user input for the g…