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Showing posts from January, 2019

TuSimple Inks Delivery Contract With USPS

TuSimple -- the driverless truck startup that raised $95 million earlier this year at a $1 billion valuation -- has been awarded a contract from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to transport packages over 1,000 miles between the Postal Service's Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centers. TuSimple will deliver these packages with self-driving trucks that'll have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the journey.

TuSimple will run some of its driverless trucks for 22 hours each -- including overnight driving -- along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors on a trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Freight flowing through the I-10 (Interstate 10) corridor notably accounts for 60% of total economic activity in the U.S.


The Postal Service -- which has operated for a long 24 decades -- is exploring the use of driverless trucks to reduce fuel costs and improve safety and its fleet utilization rate through longer hours of operation. TuSimple …

Clutter Raising Between $200 Million And $250 Million From Softbank : TechCrunch

According to a TechCrunch report, Clutter, a storage-on-demand service that lets users get their possessions packed up, taken away, stored and returned at the click of an app, is raising between $200 million and $250 million in a round led by Softbank. It says term sheets for the investment are out but are not yet finalised as investors go through due diligence.

Clutter, which operates in the Bay Area, Seattle, Southern California, New York and Chicago, has raised $96 million in funding according to Crunchbase. Investors in the company include Alphabet's GV, Atomico, Sequoia Capital, Fifth Wall, Bracked Capital, Wonder Ventures and Four Rivers Group. It last raised $64 million in 2017 at a $240 million valuation according to Pitchbook.


An investment like this could be used to aid expansion into more regions, likely urban areas where people live in smaller spaces with less storage options and plausibly have more disposable income to pay for their stuff to be kept somewhere else.

P…

San Jose Based Zoom Reportedly In Process Of Filing For IPO

San Jose based Zoom, a provider of cloud based remote conferencing services valued at $1 billion is in the process of filing confidentially for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) according to Business Insider which cites a source familiar with the company's plans. It says that the registration is stuck due to the current U.S. government shutdown which makes the filing not yet official.

Reuters reported in October that the company is preparing for an IPO, joining a host that includes Infor, Megvii, Slack, Cloudflare, Palantir, CrowdStrike and Slack. It says the company has asked investment bank Morgan Stanley to lead the IPO, which could happen this year. Zoom has raised north of $140 million in funding according to Crunchbase, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Horizons Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Maven Ventures and healthcare billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.


The company was founded in 2011 by early WebEx engineer Eric Yuan who jo…

Intel Names Interim Robert Swan As CEO

Intel has announced it has appointed Robert “Bob” Swan, its interim chief executive officer for seven months running and former chief financial officer, as its new CEO, marking Swan as the seventh person to hold the position in Intel's 50-year history. He is replacing Brian Krzanich, who resigned June last year amid disclosure of a consensual relationship with an employee that was found to be in violation of company policy.

Other past Intel CEOs include co-founder Robert Noyce (1968-1975), co-founder Gordon Moore (1975-1987), Andrew Grove (1987-1998), Craig Barrett (1998-2005) and Paul Otellini (2005-2013). Swan joined Intel in September 2016, arriving from General Atlantic and replacing Stacy Smith as the chip manufacturer's CFO. Earlier in his career, he served as CFO of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), eBay and TRW Automotive and as CFO, COO and CEO of online grocery delivery early entree and dotcom bust Webvan.





As Intel's chief financial officer, he led its global finan…

Tesla Says Model Y Production To Begin By 2020 End

In a Wednesday letter to shareholders, Tesla has said that Model Y, the SUV electric vehicle the company has been teasing and hinting at since 2015 will begin production by 2020 end. The company reported $139 million in net profit for the three months ended December, its second consecutive quarter with positive earnings.

“This year should be a truly exciting one for Tesla,” the California based company said in the shareholder letter. “Model 3 will become a global product, the profitability of our business should become sustainably positive, our new Gigafactory Shanghai should start producing cars, and we will start tooling for Model Y production.”


Tesla says it expects to be producing about 7,000 vehicles a week at its Fremont factory by the end of the year. The company recently lessened production hours for the Model S and Model X vehicles, while it focuses on boosting Model 3 production. "Model 3's production rate progressively improved" last quarter, "with Decem…

Apple Music Users Will Now Be Able To Stream Songs On American Airlines Flights For Free

Beginning Friday, Apple Music subscribers will be able to access the over 50 million songs, playlists and music videos on the streaming service on any domestic American Airlines flight equipped with Viasat satellite Wi-Fi without needing to purchase in-flight WiFi. Apple just made this announcement, marking American Airlines as the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music for travellers via complimentary inflight Wi-Fi.

All Apple Music subscribers will have to do to begin streaming is connect to Wi-Fi on any Viasat-equipped American Airlines aircraft at no cost and login with their Apple Music accounts. People not signed up for Apple Music will be able to get it in-flight, sign up onboard and get the normal free access for three months after registering.


“For most travelers, having music to listen to on the plane is just as important as anything they pack in their suitcases,” Apple Music vice president Oliver Schusser said in a statement. “With the addition…

Stripe Nabs $100 Million Series E At $22.5 Billion Valuation

Just after Acorns and Clover Health, another startup has raised huge funding, this time, Stripe, the San Francisco based payments company that powers payments for lots of small businesses and also big names like Lyft, Postmates, Expedia, Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Zillow and Microsoft, has raised $100 million Series E funding that values it at $22.5 billion, up from a $20 billion valuation in September.

This investment, made by Tiger Global who also led its most previous round was first reported by The Information. A Stripe spokesperson said the funding will be used for growth areas including international expansion with Stripe CEO Patrick Collison also announcing on Twitter of a new board member, former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene.

I haven't said much in the past about @Stripe's board. We're fortunate to add Diane Greene, our fourth outside director today. (All four have to put up with myself and John, for six in total.) — Patrick Collison (@patrickc) 29 January 201…

iRobot Unveils Robot Lawn Mover

Massachusetts based iRobot, the company behind the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner and Braava line of robot mops has unveiled a new product, this time a robot lawn mover it says is kit with "state-of-the-art mapping and navigation technologies" that enables high-performance and high-quality mowing.

The new robot named Terra is capable of mapping its course after being schooled, with the use of wireless beacons users get to place around their yard and then drive the robot once around the perimeter. Once this is done, the robot charts its course, navigating the yard while remembering where it needs to cover. If its battery runs low, it will return to its base to recharge and then re-commence mowing until the yard handed to it is completely mowed.




Users can also make use of the iRobot Home App to customize their robot, with features like adjusting the height at which the grass will be cut or controlling precisely when the lawn is cut - day or night - available. There are already s…

Waymo Met With Over 12 Auto Companies For Driverless Tech Partnership : Bloomberg

According to a Bloomberg report, Alphabet's Waymo met with over 12 auto companies including Volvo in 2016, seeking manufacturing partners for its self-driving technology, citing an internal document  unsealed in court this week.

The memo, marked "highly confidential", was penned on August 18 2016, the day a report that Uber was partnering with Volvo and that it had acquired former Waymo engineer Anthony Lewandowski's Otto was made by Bloomberg.


"Did we try to talk to Volvo? Yes. We have met with over a dozen OEMs this year, including Volvo," Waymo said in the memo. "We were surprised they wanted to partner with Uber given the importance they place on safety, and developing this technology safely. However, the deal with Uber is non-exclusive for both parties."

This statement indicates pursuit of auto manufacturing partners by Waymo even before it spun out as a standalone unit in December 2016. As of current, Waymo has partnerships with Fiat Chrysl…

Argo AI Secures Permit To Test Self-Driving Vehicles In California

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh based self-driving company backed with huge funding from automaker Ford, has secured a permit to test autonomous vehicles in the state of California. The permit, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ,is for two drivers and one vehicle and marks for the fifth location Argo AI is looking to test its self-driving vehicles.

The company currently tests its autonomous vehicle technology in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Miami with testing in Washington, D.C. also starting soon. Argo AI now joins sixty other companies with permits to self-driving vehicles (but with a driver) in the state of California.


They include Baidu, Zoox, GM Cruise, Faraday Future, Drive.ai, Intel, SF Motors, TuSimple, Apple, Samsung, Nuro, Aurora, Udacity, Nvidia, Valeo, Pony.AI, Lyft, Waymo, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Bosch, Tesla, Delphi Automotive and Qualcomm. Notably missing from the list is Uber which currently doesn't have a permit to self-driving vehicles in…

Health Insurance Startup Clover Health Raises $500 Million

Despite reports of missed financials and difficulties navigating a slow-moving and challenging insurance industry, San Francisco based health insurance startup Clover Health has announced new funding, pegged at $500 million by TechCrunch. The round is led by existing investor Greenoaks Capital, an SF based VC firm that counts Oyo Rooms, Brex, Sonder, Discord and Robinhood among its bets.

The valuation for this round is not disclosed, but for hint, Clover Health was last valued at $1.2 billion when it raised $130 million Series D funding also led by Greenoaks Capital in 2017. The San Francisco based company also counts the likes of Alphabet's GV, Spark Capital, Sequoia Capital, First Round Capital, Floodgate, Refactor Capital, Social Capital and Nexus Venture Partners as investors.


Clover, with over $900 million in funding (this round included) now stands as one of the most funded startups in the healthcare space. Even with this, the company has struggled in the past to decrease l…

Acorns Raises $105 Million Series E At $860 Million Valuation

Acorns, an Irvine based fintech company that allows individuals round up purchases and automatically invest the change in exchange-traded funds through a mobile app, has raised $105 million series E funding that values it at $860 million, according to its statement.

Investors in this round include NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures who led the round along with TPG, DST Global, Michael Dell's MSD Capital, BlackRock and Bain Capital Ventures. The company has now raised some $207 million in total according to Crunchbase, with its $860 million valuation placing it in a high rank among global fintech companies.


In November, We reported of Acorns being in discussions for funding at a $700 million valuation. This round confirms that, although it comes at a higher valuation for the company. Acorns, which has over 4.5 million registered accounts is also entering into a partnership for editorial content and events with NBCUniversal owned CNBC as part of the company's investment. NBC is …

Apple Kicks Off 'Entrepreneur Camp' - A Two Week Hands On Experience For Female App Creators

Apple has kicked off the inaugural session of 'Entrepreneur Camp', a two-week hands on technology lab where it says participants would work one-on-one with Apple engineers and experts to accelerate their apps. Eleven female-founded app development companies are participating in this session which will involve works on design, technology, App Store marketing and guidance and support from an Apple Developer Relations representative.

Apple says the program's curriculum will will harness several of its tech, including optimizing for the custom A12 Bionic chip, integrating core ML and building new experiences with ARKit. Each participating startup is also receiving two tickets to Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and complementary membership to the Apple Developer program for a year.


Cupertino based Apple says developers have earned some $120 billion since the 2008 launch of the Apple App Store, with over a quarter of that in the past year alone. This signifies stea…

BMW, Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover Back Roadside Assistance Startup Urgently's $21 Million Series B Round

Virginia based roadside assistance startup Urgently has raised $21 million Series B funding from several investors including Porsche Ventures, BMW i Ventures and Jaguar Land Rover's VC fund InMotion Ventures.

Existing investors also participated in the round which Urgently says was oversubscribed. BMW has also selected Urgently for collaboration with the BMW Assist roadside assistance service as the vendor partner to offer roadside assistance services to owners of its vehicles in the U.S.


Urgently works similar to Uber and Lyft, with users able to request for nearby roadside assistance services and get charged within the app. It's available in several cities spanning all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C and also Puerto Rico. The company boasts 55,000 service vehicles registered on its platform that provide services like fuel delivery, towing, jump start, flat tire replacement and car lockout solutions according to its website.

"We look forward to continuing to innovate…

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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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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…

Virgin Hyperloop One Seeks Up To $225 Million

Virgin Hyperloop One -- a company with ambitious transportation goals and like its name suggests, once counted Virgin founder Richard Branson as its chairman -- has raised $172 million in new funding according to new filings and is seeking up to $224.5 million in this round, as first reported by Crunchbase News. Dubai port operator DP World (an existing investor) provided at least $90 million for the round, which has seen contributions from 80 investors.

Virgin Hyperloop One first secured funding for this round on the 29th of April 2019 according to filings. The company has already raised nearly $300 million in funding prior to this round. Virgin Hyperloop One is based in Los Angeles and was founded by Josh Giegel and tech investor Shervin Pishevar (Pishevar who previously served as its executive chairman was ousted in late 2017 over allegations of sexual misconduct).


The company has had quite a share of controversies, including the arrest of former Co-Executive chairman Ziyavudin Ma…

Deliveroo Raises $575 Million Round Led By Amazon

Deliveroo has raised $575 million Series G funding led by Amazon, with participation from existing investors Greenoaks, T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity Management and Research Company. This boosts the company's total funding to $1.53 billion. The new funding will be completed in coming months, subject to regulatory approvals.

Deliveroo says it'll make use of the investment to grow its engineering team based in its London headquarters, expand its reach, develop new products for customers, and bring about new 'innovations' in the food sector. "This is great news for the tech and restaurant sectors, and it will help to create jobs in all of the countries in which we operate." Deliveroo CEO Will Shu said in a statement.


Founded in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski, Deliveroo has grown to operate in over 500 towns across 14 markets. The company works with 80,000 restaurants and 60,000 riders to deliver food across markets it operates in. It currently employs 2,50…

Clinc Clings $52 Million Series B

Clinc -- an Ann Arbor, Michigan based AI startup -- has secured $52 million Series B funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from DFJ Growth and existing investors Hyde Park Venture Partners and Drive Capital. Clinc has now raised nearly $60 million in total funding according to Crunchbase data.

The company says it achieved a 300% annual revenue growth and expects to more than triple that this year alone. It's planning to reach 140 employees by year end and intends to occupy a new 26,000 square foot office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


“We’ve had phenomenal growth and built unbelievable momentum in a very short period of time,” Clinc CEO Jason Mars said in a statement. “Now we’re adding more world class investors to support our growing team as we work to accelerate the pace of innovation and to reshape the conversational AI landscape, one industry at a time.”

Clinc expects this round to be its last before it heads for an IPO.



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…

VMware Acquires Bitnami

VMware has announced it's acquiring Bitnami, a Y Combinator alum that provides application packaging solutions. Bitnami had raised just $1.1 million from YC and some angel investors. The acquisition price was not disclosed. Based in San Francisco, California, Bitnami's platform delivers and maintains more than 130 server applications and development environments in partnership with cloud providers like Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft, and Google.

VMware says Bitnami's application packaging solutions will help its customers simplify the deployment of applications in public or hybrid cloud environments. The startup's solutions will also complement VMware's existing efforts to deliver a curated marketplace to its customers that offers applications and development environments in addition to infrastructure software.

Bitnami's customers include the likes of Disney, Electronic Arts, UPS, eBay, Rakuten, Comcast, Verizon, Gap, Accenture, Walmart, PayPal, Atlassian, Evernote…