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Showing posts from February, 2019

WeWork Publicly Unveils IPO Filing

A recent report that WeWork was preparing to unveil its IPO filing this week has proved true, with the co-working space company having done just that. WeWork just unveiled its S-1 filing with the SEC, revealing much previously unknown info and metrics of its business. Key takes from WeWork's S-1 filing include:
527,000 members as of Q2 2019 end, up from 401,000 in 2018 and 87,000 in 2016. More than 50% of WeWork's members are outside the US.528 WeWork locations (across 111 cities) worldwide, up from 425 (across 100 cities) in 2018 and 111 (across 34 cities)  in 201638% of the Global Fortune 500 are customers$1.54 billion revenue in the first half of this year, but with a $905 million loss in the same period. This is up from $764 million revenue in the first half of 2018 and a $723 million loss in the same period$320 million sales and marketing spend in the first half of this year, up from $140 million in the first half of 2018$3.3 billion revenue run rate (as of Q2 end), up fr…

BMW's Two-Man Bobsled Prototype Passes Test Rides

A two-man bobsled being developed by BMW in preparation for the 2019/2020 Bobsleigh World Cup has hit past test rides, with "promising results" as stated by BMW. It says the sled concept - one it's not particularly known for, being focused on the automobile market - developed using computer simulations and tested at the BMW Aerodynamic and Research Center has proven successful.

Its development phase lasted ten months, with double bobsled Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich, world champion Johannes Lochner and junior world champion Christoph Hafer on the steering handles. According to BMW, a measuring system provided by its Motorsport division and modified for bobsleds was responsible for the tests.


While many of us might not be familiar with bobsledding, it's a really interesting sport to catch fun with. Bobsledding is very much present at the Winter Olympic Games that holds every four years from its last interval. The next Winter Olympics will be holding in 2022, …

Uber, Lyft Reportedly Plan To Offer Drivers Shares In IPOs

According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber and Lyft are planning to offer some drivers cash bonuses to purchase stock in their upcoming initial public offerings, a move that'll enable access to two of the hottest IPOs expected to take place this year. The paper says the companies' longest-serving drivers will be getting cash awards, with an option to put it towards purchase of shares in the IPOs.

It says Uber is planning bonuses for a “significant” portion of its 3 million drivers, while Lyft plans to issue $1,000 bonuses to drivers who have completed at least 10,000 rides on its platform, and as much as $10,000 to those who have done 20,000 rides. Such statistics indicates that only a minority of Lyft drivers would be eligible for the bonuses.


In the past, Uber has been reported to be mulling issuing shares to its driver, while being met with resistance from regulators because its drivers are classed as contractors rather than employees. The San Francisco based company - whi…

Fitbit Health Unit To Hit $100 Million In 2019 Revenue

At a recent earnings conference call, James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit - the popular wearables brand that recently launched a new tracker available via corporate plans - said that the company's Health Solutions division, which focuses on healthcare providers and enterprises, will deliver $100 million in 2019 revenue.

This is just two years after the division was launched to tap into a new market amid falling sales of consumer devices. Fitbit also says it plans to add more software and services and launch a paid premium service later this year. "We believe there is a significant opportunity to leverage investments that we make in our consumer-facing business to drive B2B revenue to our Fitbit Health Solutions business..." CEO James Park said.


"...We are steadily building momentum in our FHS (Fitbit Health Solutions) business. More than 6.8 million Fitbit users including employees of several Fortune 500 companies have connected their data into the (its) popul…

Mike Cagney's Figure Raises $65 Million Series B Round

Figure - a startup led by Mike Cagney, a co-founder and former CEO of $4.3 billion valued online lender SoFi - has raised $65 million in Series B funding, boosting its total raised to $120 million in just 2 years of operation. This round values the company at $365 million - according to Bloomberg, about double its previous valuation.

RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global led the round, with participation from the likes of Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek, DCM, DCG and Ribbit Capital. With Mike Cagney continuing in the online lending industry, Figure makes home equity loans, which it says it does in as little as five days via blockchain technology.


The company says other lenders plan to make use of its in-house blockchain tech to begin providing loans by mid-2019. In addition to home equity loans, Figure also operates Figure Home Advantage (FHA), a solution that enables customers reverse their mortgages. This is done by selling their homes to Figure, getting cash up front and then payi…

Samsung Kicks Off Mass Production Of 512GB Storage Chip

Samsung has announced that it has begun mass production of a 512-gigabyte (GB) embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) 3.0 chip for mobile devices, one it says delivers twice the speed of the preceding eUFS 2.1 version. The company says the new storage solution is 20 times faster than a conventional microSD card, with:
Sequential read speed of 2100 MB/sSequential write speed of 410MB/sRandom Read Speed of 63,000 IOPS andRandom write speed of 68,000 IOPS

For example, Samsung says it successfully transferred a 3.7GB full HD movie file from a mobile device to a PC - using the 512GB eUFS 3.0 - in just three seconds, a non-conventional speed. The Korean tech giant also plans to debut a 128 GB version of the storage chip in soon time, with 1TB and 256GB versions to come in the second half of this year.

In recent times, Samsung has also caught the eyes of many with the debut of its 1 terabyte (TB) storage chip - a storage capacity previously unheard of for smartphones, and a foldable smartph…

Affirm Brings Its Payment Plan To Walmart

Affirm, the popular San Francisco based startup - valued at nearly $2 billion - known for its installment payment plans that enable consumers purchase goods at various online stores at full price, to pay later in 3, 6, or 12 monthly installments - has brought its payments option to a very notable retailer, Walmart.

Partnering with the largest retailer in the U.S., shoppers will now get the option of using Affirm to pay for purchases at Walmart's nearly 4,000 retail centers in the U.S. and also Walmart.com, its Amazon competing e-commerce site. Customers will first check eligibility through Affirm's site before they head into a Walmart store or do it while they shop, using their mobile devices or desktops.


Affirm will be available as a payment option on Walmart purchases ranging from $150 to $2,000, But select items including groceries, alcohol, tobacco, personal care and pharmacy won't have the payment option.

“Walmart serves millions and has become a leader in the retail…

FedEx Unveils Self-Driving Delivery Robot

Following the likes of Postmates and Amazon, FedEx has unveiled its own autonomous delivery robot - the FedEx SameDay Bot, one the company says is designed to help retailers make same day and last-mile deliveries. The courier delivery giant has partnered with companies like Lowe's, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, AutoZone and Walmart for autonomous deliveries via the new robot.

The FedEx SameDay Bot was developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research, a firm led by Dean Kamen, an engineer popularly known for his invention of the Segway and the iBot electric wheelchair.



“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Kamen said in a press statement. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible …

Facebook To Usher In 'Clear History' Tool This Year

Facebook will be debuting a 'clear history' tool this year, its Chief Financial Officer David Wehner told the crowd at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. CNBC first reported of Wehner's comments. Wehner noted that the tool, first promised in 2018, will impact Facebook's ability to target advertisements.

"Broadly, [clear history is] going to give us some headwinds in terms of being able to target as effectively as before," He said at the conference. Facebook first announced this feature at its F8 developer conference in May 2018, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating that the feature would "be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook -- what you've clicked on, websites you've visited, and so on."


"Once we roll out this update, you'll be able to see information about the apps and websites you've interacted with, and you'll be able to clear this information from your account," Zuc…

Walmart Acquires Israeli Startup Aspectiva

Walmart has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli startup that develops solutions that analyse consumers' product reviews to assist online shoppers in making purchase decisions. The Israeli startup will be joining Store N° 8, an incubator set up by Walmart in 2017 to develop e-commerce solutions.

It'll continue to operate from its offices in Tel Aviv while housed under Walmart. Financial terms of Walmart's acquisition were not disclosed. The U.S. retailer says Aspectiva's tech will "further enhance the (its) end-to-end shopping experience".


This acquisition marks as Walmart's latest scheme with Israel based tech companies, having recently invested in Israeli cyber-security company Team8 and also committed $250 million for a joint venture with Israel based interactive video content developer Eko.

“Our team is extremely excited to be joining Store N° 8 and be part of Walmart’s most recent investment in Israel. Store N° 8’s record of innovation and of developing c…

Amazon Adds Ex PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi To Board

Amazon has named Indra Nooyi - the former CEO of beverage giant PepsiCo who led the company for 12 years, before stepping down in October 2018 - to its board. This comes shortly after the company added Starbucks COO and former Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer to its board. Amazon's board is now 11 member strong, including CEO Jeff Bezos.

Nooyi's appointment ups the number of women on the company's board to five, almost equal to the number of male members - 6, after the Seattle based company faced criticism in the past for its male-dominated leadership. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, staying at the company for over two decades. In addition to now Amazon, she also serves on the boards of oilfield services giant Schlumberger, PepsiCo owned Sandora and non-profits Catalyst Inc and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Nooyi will serve as a member of the Amazon board's audit committee, the Seattle based e-commerce giant said in a filing.




More on Amazon :
Amazon Says O…

Caesars Takes Stake In And Partners With DraftKings

Caesars - the Nevada based gaming corporation known for its many casinos - has partnered with DraftKings, a legal sports betting startup valued at $1.5 billion, taking an undisclosed stake in the company and agreeing to offer market access for its online gaming products. DraftKings will now promote Caesars Entertainment as an official casino resort partner in states where the companies will collaborate in.

Under the new agreement, Caesars will get a cut of DraftKings' gambling revenue in these states, while opening a new avenue for the company - a top leader in legal online sports betting - to expand reach. With this partnership, DraftKings should now be able to offer non-sports gambling like slots, roulette and online poker in states in the US that allow it.


"This alliance is the latest initiative by Caesars to capitalize on our database, generate a new revenue stream in a growth market and raise our profile in sports, in part by creating new sports-themed guest experiences…

Samsung Debuts Two New Mid-Range Phones

Samsung has unveiled to new mid-range Galaxy A smartphones - the Galaxy A50 and A30 - with a focus on the camera, among other specs. The new debuts are two among many smartphones debuted at the on-going Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. Features of the new smartphones are shown below :

Galaxy A50
6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge)4GB / 6 GB RAM64GB / 128 GB Internal StorageMicro SD (up to 512GB) support4,000 mAh batteryQuad 2.3GHz + Quad 1.7GHz processor25 MP main cameraFast charging technologySamsung Pay supportBixby support3D Glasstic designOn-screen fingerprint


Galaxy A30
6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (edge-to-edge)3GB / 4GB RAM32GB / 64 GB Internal StorageMicro SD (up to 512GB) support4,000 mAh batteryDual 1.8GHz + Hexa 1.6GHz processor16MP main cameraFast charging technologySamsung Pay support3D Glasstic designFingerprint


The A50 comes in a smooth curved shape and slim design, available in Black, White, Blue and Coral colors. Pricing and availability information…

LG Debuts A Smartphone That Can Be Unlocked By Users' Veins

It seems facial and voice recognition and the use of fingerprint for smartphone security is not enough, If you feel it is, then LG has decided otherwise, debuting a new smartphone - the G8 - that can be unlocked via the user's veins, yes the user's veins. The G8 counts as the first known smartphone with advanced palm vein authentication, which LG says is made possible by the combination of a time-of-flight camera and infrared sensors.

LG's Hand ID - as named - identifies smartphone owners by recognizing the shape, thickness and other individual characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands. The G8 also uses facial and fingerprint recognition for those who want to use it. Other features of the new smartphone include :


A Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor6.1-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio)6GB RAM / 128GB memorymicroSD (up to 2TB) supportAndroid 9.0 Pie OS3500mAh battery3G / 4G LTE-A network supportHand ID / Face Unlock / Fingerprint Sensor16MP Super Wi…

LG Debuts First 5G Smartphone

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), LG has debuted the V50 Thin Q smartphone, an updated version of the V40 released in 2018, with support for 5G network, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, a larger 4,000 mAh battery and a new heat dissipation system. In anticipation for the phone's debut, LG is partnering with 10 major carriers in markets where 5G service will launch this year, including the US, Australia, South Korea and a number of European countries.

Features of the LG V50 Thin Q include :
6.4-inch QHD+ OLED display (19.5:9 aspect ratio)6GB RAM / 128GB memorymicroSD (up to 2TB) supportAndroid 9.0 Pie OS3G / 4G LTE-A / 5G network support16MP Super Wide / 12MP Standard rear camera8MP Standard / 5MP Wide front camera183g weightUSB Type-C (USB 3.1 Compatible) / Bluetooth 5 / NFC / Wi-Fi 802.11 connectivityWater and dust resistanceGoogle Lens / Google AssistantFace RecognitionFingerprint sensorFM RadioFast-charging technology (Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0)DTS:X 3D surround soundFull…

Microsoft Debuts New Cloud-Powered Kinect Developer Kit

Microsoft has debuted a new PC peripheral based on the Kinect, an original Xbox 360 accessory for motion sensing so players could control games with their hands or body. The company is packaging its work on the Kinect into a new developer kit dubbed Azure Kinect that'll let developers build AI algorithms.

The new kit comes with several AI sensors - its core being a time-of-flight depth sensor developed for the new HoloLens mixed-reality headset, a high-definition RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array that'll enable development of computer vision and speech solutions with Microsoft Azure.


Microsoft cites an example of the Azure Kinect being applied in healthcare, with health-tech company Ocuvera building a solution to prevent patients from falling in hospitals. With the Azure Kinect, Microsoft says environmental precursors to a fall can be determined, allowing notified nurses to get to patients before they fall. Every year in the US, over 1 million hospital patients are…

Microsoft Debuts HoloLens 2

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft has unveiled the second version of its mixed-reality headset, the HoloLens 2, coming after the release of the first version 2016. As expected the new headset comes with enhanced features like:
More than double the field of view of the first HoloLensA new display systemA new time-of-flight depth sensorEye-tracking sensorsIris recognition for loginA new dial-in fit system (for comfort while wearing)Improved thermal managementA more balanced center of gravity, thanks to use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for putting on the device without readjusting



Features such as a holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight where maintained from the first version of the HoloLens. Coupled with mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides, the new HoloLens provides a broad range of uses built specially for the headset.

Microsoft has also arranged a partner…

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Figure Reportedly Raising Funding At A $1 Billion Valuation

According to a report from Bloomberg, Figure, a home lending startup founded and led by former SoFi CEO Mike Cagney, is raising more than $100 million in new funding at a $1 billion valuation, just less than two years after its founding. It seems Figure has grown at a rapid pace, with Bloomberg reporting it's on track to issue more than $80 million in loans this month alone.

Figure has already raised more than $130 million in a relatively short period. Its backers include DST Global, Ribbit Capital, Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek, RPM Ventures and more. The home lending startup currently employs more than 100 people at offices in California, Nevada, Montana and Utah. In May, it closed a $1 billion financing deal for its customers.

Figure leverages blockchain technology to provide home equity loans online in as little as five days, with an approval process that runs some few minutes. Mike Cagney seems to have struck gold again with his new startup. His previous, SoFi, is a well-know…

WeWork Publicly Unveils IPO Filing

A recent report that WeWork was preparing to unveil its IPO filing this week has proved true, with the co-working space company having done just that. WeWork just unveiled its S-1 filing with the SEC, revealing much previously unknown info and metrics of its business. Key takes from WeWork's S-1 filing include:
527,000 members as of Q2 2019 end, up from 401,000 in 2018 and 87,000 in 2016. More than 50% of WeWork's members are outside the US.528 WeWork locations (across 111 cities) worldwide, up from 425 (across 100 cities) in 2018 and 111 (across 34 cities)  in 201638% of the Global Fortune 500 are customers$1.54 billion revenue in the first half of this year, but with a $905 million loss in the same period. This is up from $764 million revenue in the first half of 2018 and a $723 million loss in the same period$320 million sales and marketing spend in the first half of this year, up from $140 million in the first half of 2018$3.3 billion revenue run rate (as of Q2 end), up fr…

Snap Debuts Spectacles 3

Snap has unveiled the Spectacles 3, the third version of its smart glasses. Snap's Spectacles glasses are meant for recording video, shot straight from eye-view, for posting on Snapchat. The Spectacles 3 is equipped with two HD cameras to do this. The cameras capture Snaps in 3D and can transform them using in-built 3D Effects. Snaps captured on Spectacles can also be exported to the user's own gallery in circular, horizontal, square and virtual reality formats.

The Spectacles 3 features a strong but lightweight steel frame with circular lenses and adjustable tips. The new smart-glasses comes with a special charging case and is charged via a standard USB-C charging cable. Also included is a 3D viewer that lets users see captured shots in 3D mode.

The Spectacles 3 has LED indicator lights to notify people when recording is being done. The users also see lights as well. Snap's new smart-glasses records high-definition videos paired with high-quality audio from a 4-microphon…

Facebook Reportedly Tried To Acquire Houseparty Last Year

Houseparty is a popular social networking service that allows group video chatting on mobile and desktop apps. Epic Games acquired it in June for an undisclosed sum. Prior to being acquired, Houseparty had raised some $70 million in funding according to Crunchbase data.

Houseparty is the focus of this article because a new report from the New York Times said Facebook had begun discussions to acquire it late last year, but pulled out over fear of attracting antitrust concerns. Facebook has been quite successful with acquisitions, having scooped up Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the biggest social media platforms alongside the Facebook app itself.

But with increased scrutiny that even led to a $5 billion fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission atop another $100 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), another Facebook acquisition, particularly of a competing social media platform, could draw eyeballs and antitrust concerns from regulatory agencies.


Houseparty…

Bungalow Said To Be Raising Funding At A $100 Million Valuation

Bungalow, a San Francisco-based housing startup that formally launched with a $14 million Series A led by Khosla Ventures last year, is raising new funding that'll value it at more than $100 million according to a report from The Information. The Information reports Bungalow is nearing a deal to raise between $30 million and $40 million in equity funding led by Founders Fund, a well-known VC firm whose partner, Keith Rabois, sits on Bungalow's board. Rabois is said to be leading the new funding on behalf of Founders Fund, which participated in Bungalow's $14 million Series A.

A valuation of more than $100 million would be nearly twice Bungalow's current valuation, according to The Information. Bungalow is part of a wave of startups that have jumped on the real estate scene. The San Francisco-based startup leases single-family homes and rents out individual rooms to working professionals. Bungalow lets homeowners rent out their properties for a guaranteed income stream…

Postmates Will Reportedly Drop IPO Filing Next Month

According to a TechCrunch report, Postmates, which confidentially filed for an IPO in February, is set to make its IPO prospectus public next month, despite reports that the food delivery company held at least three acquisition talks. Such reports may have some substance, as companies which confidentially file for IPO conventionally make their IPO prospectus public not long after. It's six months since Postmates confidentially filed for IPO, so it's plausible that the company pursued an M&A exit within this period, which made it delay its public offering.

According to TechCrunch, Postmates is expected to go public in the third fiscal quarter of this year. A previous report from Bloomberg said the food delivery company had picked JPMorgan Chase and The Bank of America as lead underwriters for its public offering. Bloomberg says Postmates, which was last valued at $1.85 billion, could go public at a valuation above that.

A Postmates IPO would test the public markets' ap…

Skip Debuts First Custom E-Scooter

Scooter rental startup Skip has unveiled the S3, its first electric scooter that's in-house designed and custom-built from the ground up. To come up with the S3, Skip worked with more than a year of feedback from its riders on what sort of features one would require on an electric scooter. The end result is a custom electric scooter that has brighter headlights and taillights than conventional scooters [to make it easier to spot], safety diagnostics features that lets users keep up with the condition of their scooters, swappable batteries, and a built-in electronic locking system among other specs.

The use of swappable batteries solves a significant pain point; re-charging of electric scooters. Rather than having to move the entire scooter every night to get it charged, a team of Skip freelancers can just replace it with a fully charged electric battery to keep it powered. The S3's safety diagnostics feature can alert Skip’s operations team in case of damage, enabling Skip to…

Cloudflare Files For IPO

Not long after a previous report that said Cloudflare was eyeing a September IPO, the San Francisco-based CDN provider has filed for that with the SEC, meaning an IPO next month may just be happening. Cloudflare's S-1 filing comes a decade after its first funding. The company recorded $192.7 million in 2018 revenue, but with an $87.2 million net loss. This is up from $135 million revenue in 2017 and a $10.7 million net loss for the same period.

In the first half of this year, Cloudflare recorded $129.2 million in revenue, but still with losses of $36.8 million. Other key takes from its S-1 filing include:
$94.4 million sales and marketing spend in 2018, up 54% from $62 million in 2017$54.5 million R&D spend in 2018, compared to $33.7 million in 2017Roughly $125 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Q2 end (June 30, 2019)74,000 paying customers as of Q2 endTwo million total [free and paying] customers408 paying customers with annual billings of more than $100,000 (as of Q2…

Airbnb Reportedly Records 30% Growth Rate In Q1

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb recorded a 31% surge in gross bookings in the first quarter of this year, with a total booking value of $9.4 billion for the period. The Wall Street Journal reports Airbnb booked 91 million nights on its platform in Q1, and grew revenue 40% year-on-year in the period. According to WSJ, Airbnb had about $3.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet as of Q1 end (March 31st) this year.

If such report stands true, Airbnb could be leaving investors hungry for an IPO that the Wall Street Journal reports is scheduled for the first half of next year. $35 billion valued Airbnb is already profitable, making it stand out among several tech companies (e.g. Uber, Lyft, Medallia, Dynatrace, Livongo) that have gone public this year without being profitable. Three others that filed for an IPO just this week (WeWork, Cloudflare and SmileDirectClub) are also not profitable.

One other standout tech company is Zoom, a video communications company th…

Wheels Up Valued At $1.1 Billion With $128 Million Series D

Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation startup, recently announced $128 million in Series D funding that values it at $1.1 billion post-money, up from $700 million in 2017. The funding was co-led by Franklin Templeton, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity, with participation from other unnamed investors. With this investment, New York-based Wheels Up has raised roughly $540 million in total funding.

The new funding will fund a number of business initiatives, including potential acquisitions, sales and marketing, "significant scaling" of Wheels Up's tech and digital platforms, and acceleration of membership growth. Wheels Up operates a membership-based private aviation service that lets members book private flights with as little as 24 hours notice, and pay fixed hourly rates. Wheels Up has more than 6,000 members, who can choose from a fleet of 1,000+ partner operated aircraft.

Wheels Up members can also reduce the cost of private flights by…