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Showing posts from March, 2019

Elastic Acquires Endgame For $234 Million

Elastic -- a publicly traded company that builds custom search solutions for enterprises -- has announced it's acquiring cyber-security startup Endgame in an all-stock deal worth $234 million. The acquisition is subject to customary adjustments. Endgame has raised $111 million in total funding according to Crunchbase data. The $234 million acquisition price is a near 50% discount to a previous $465 million valuation (Pitchbook data).

Endgame's backers include Kleiner Perkins, Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Edgemore Capital, Savano Capital Partners and Paladin Capital Group. The Arlington, Virgina-based security startup's customers include the U.S. military and some Fortune 500 companies.


Elastic says the addition of Endgame will further advance its ability to offer a comprehensive security solution that's integrated with its own security information and event management (SIEM) products. "....By joining forces with Elastic, we will be able to take ou…

Daimler Urges EU Regulators To Investigate Nokia Patents

German automaker Daimler has filed a complaint to European Union antitrust regulators concerning Nokia patents in the field of car communications. This move highlights what can be termed as growing tensions between tech companies and auto companies concerning use of essential technologies.

In this age of burgeoning automobile fields like ride-hailing and driverless vehicles, Auto companies and tech companies now work more closer than never, developing technologies to help both parties keep pace. To cite a few cases: As of recent, Volkswagen partnered with AWS, Toyota and Nvidia reached a deal to collaborate on driverless vehicles, Hyundai invested $300 million in Ola Cabs, Daimler -- of importance here -- acquired a majority stake in Virginia based self-driving company Torc Robotics.


“We want clarification on how essential patents for telecommunications standards are to be licensed in the automotive industry,” Daimler said in a statement on Saturday. “Fair and non-discriminatory acce…

Apple Top Chip Designer Departs

According to CNET, a top Apple semiconductor engineer, Gerard Williams III, who has led the company's development of every processor core from the A7 to the A12x, departed the company last month after a nine year stint. This departure comes as Apple boosts efforts to create more of its components and reduce dependence on external suppliers.

The company's latest spat with Qualcomm might be a reason for this. Many phone manufacturers rely on processors made by Qualcomm. Manufacturing its own components gives Apple more control over its own devices and differentiates it from rivals. The company may also be doing this to keep up with competition from the likes of Apple and Huawei who manufacture the bulk of its own modem chips.


Williams' departure might be a notable loss for Apple where he's listed as an inventor for more than 60 of its patents.  Before joining Apple in 2010, he held positions at chip companies Intel, Texas Instruments and ARM.



TransferWise Reportedly Raising $300 Million At $4 Billion Valuation

TransferWise - a U.K. payments startup valued at $1.6 billion from a previous round - is reportedly raising $300 million in new funding at a $4 billion valuation. Reuters reports this, citing people familiar with the matter. A $4 billion valuation would set TransferWise as the top-most valued fintech in Europe, surpassing N26's $2.7 billion valuation from a January round.

Reuters says the latest fundraising round for TransferWise is being organised by Goldman Sachs. TransferWise has already raised some $480 million in debt and equity funding according to Crunchbase data. Investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, Sapphire Ventures, Virgin Group, Baillie Gifford, JP Morgan, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners) and LHV Ventures.


According to its website, TransferWise currently moves over $4 billion a month and employs more than 1,400 people across 11 offices globally. The company booked £117 million pounds ($152.6 million) in revenue and $12.4 million in profit for the 1…

1stdibs Raises $76 Million

1stdibs - a marketplace for luxury goods and accessories like jewelry, furnishings, fine arts and vintage clothing - has raised $76 million in Series D funding led by funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from luxury goods holding company Groupe Artémis, former Alibaba executive Michael Zeisser, and Allen & Company.

1stdibs says it plans to use the investment to boost its core business, grow other categories, expand into international markets and make strategic acquisitions. Including this round, 1stdibs - which had $250 million in sales last year - has raised $170 million in equity funding. Other investors in the company include Index Ventures, Spark Capital, and Benchmark.


Founded in 2001, 1stdibs currently works with more than 4,200 dealers from 43 countries. The company switched to a main e-commerce model in 2013 and has seen increased sales since then. 1stdibs is currently led by David Rosenblatt, the former CEO of DoubleClick, an online advertising c…

Toast Raises $250 Million At $2.7 Billion Valuation

Toast - a Boston based restaurant management startup - has raised $250 million Series E funding led by TCV and Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners. This comes on the heels of a $115 million round in July 2018 that valued the company at $1.4 billion. That valuation has nearly doubled with this round to $2.7 billion.

Toast has now raised some $500 million in total, according to Crunchbase data. Other notable backers include T. Rowe Price, Lead Edge Capital, Eight Roads Ventures and Generation Investment Management. The 2013 founded startup has seen some 148% growth in revenues, according to CFO Tim Barash in a statement to TechCrunch.


Toast joins other startups like Rent the Runway, Airwallex, Casper, PayIt, Tarana Wireless, and Doctolib that have raised huge funding recently. According to TechCrunch's post, Toast has committed some $1 billion over the next five years into R&D aimed at building more hardware and software.

TCV …

Apple Discontinues AirPower Wireless Charging Mat

Apple has announced it's discontinuing the AirPower wireless charging mat that it unveiled in 2017 on the same day it revealed the iPhone X. This is rare retreat for Apple which made the AirPower mat with intention to wirelessly charge up to three Apple devices at a time. Apple is not known to cancel already announced devices, making this a kind of surprising one.

Apple said it concluded that the AirPower mat “will not achieve our high standards”, leading to its shutter. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch,” Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, said in a statement. “We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”


Just recently, Apple released a new version of the AirPods with support for a wireless charging case. This led to speculations that an accompanying wireless charging mat could be in the works. Apple news focused website Daring Fireball previou…

Daimler Acquires Majority Stake In Torc Robotics

Daimler Trucks has reached a deal to acquire a majority stake in Torc Robotics - a Blacksburg, Virginia based self-driving company founded in 2005 - for an undisclosed sum. Both parties will join forces to work on commercialisation of automated trucks on U.S. roads. Torc's team will collaborate with Daimler Trucks' developers, particularly its R&D team in the state of Oregon for this.

Torc will continue to develop the Asimov automated driving software it's known for at its Virginia facility. It'll still remain a separate entity maintaining its name, team, facilities and existing customers in the state of Virginia. The partnership with Daimler will enable it significantly expand its team and service its customer base in other markets, a press release noted.


Torc Robotics with around 100 employees currently offers an automated driving software solution that's used in self-driving cars and transit vehicles. The company also provides self-driving technology for ar…

A16Z Reportedly Leading $300 Million Round For Carta

On the heels of an $80 million raise that valued the company at $800 million, Carta - a startup that lets founders, investors and employees manage investments and stakes in private companies - is said to be raising $300 million in new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Goldman Sachs.

The report comes from The Information, which says Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) is leading the round with a $100 million investment. Carta will be valued at $1.8 billion with this round, the tech news site also said. Such valuation would imply a new addition to the unicorn club, one that recently welcomed the likes of Airwallex, Casper and Rent the Runway, with China's Mobvoi also gearing for that.


Carta - which manages billions of dollars in equity for over 10,000 private companies including Slack, Flexport and Coinbase - has already raised nearly $150 million in funding. Its backers include Menlo Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Tr…

The New BMW 1 Series Faces Final Tests In France

The new BMW 1 Series is currently under test at a BMW testing centre in Miramas, Southern France. This would mark the final test for the vehicle before it heads to the markets. Extensive tests will be made on camouflaged pre-series versions of the new vehicle, which BMW says is a result of five years of "intensive" development work.

The new BMW 1 Series will come with features like:
A newly developed 4-cylinder engineMore legroom / interior spaceIncreased luggage compartment capacity (from 360 litres to 380 litres)ARB technology (a wheel slip control system), a feature only previously available on the BMW i3BMW front-wheel drive architecture.
The new vehicle will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show holding from 22 November - 2 December. Have more looks at the upcoming vehicle in the pictures below:








PayIt Raises More Than $100 Million From Insight Partners

PayIt, a Kansas City, Missouri fintech known for its payments platform targeted at public services, has raised more than $100 million in funding from New York-based VC firm Insight Partners. The company had previously raised some $4.5 million prior to this round, according to Crunchbase data.

Investors include Missouri Technology Corporation, KCRise Fund, Royal Street Ventures, Weatherford Partners, Advantage Capital and Zego CEO Adam Blake. PayIt says the new funding will allow it to expand its reach and product capabilities. PayIt partners with the three levels of government: state, local and federal, enabling a digital payments platform for public services.


"As consumers, we increasingly expect world-class mobile experiences in everything we do, from booking hotel rooms to getting rides to ordering groceries," Insight Partners Managing Director Ryan Hinkle said in a statement. "PayIt brings this type of world-class experience to their government partners, saving tim…

Palantir Lands $800 Million Contract With U.S. Army

Palantir has landed a contract with the U.S. Army to deploy a complex battlefield intelligence system for soldiers, The Washington Post reports. The contract is potentially worth over $800 million, the paper noted. According to industry experts, this will mark the first time the U.S. government had sought the services of a Silicon Valley software company to lead a noteworthy defense program with a dedicated line of funding from the U.S. Congress.

According to the Post, The U.S Army chose Palantir and defense contractor Raytheon to contend for the next phase of Distributed Common Ground System (or DCGS-A, for Army), a software that lets its users fetch and analyze information about enemy movements, weather, and terrain to generate real-time reports and detailed maps.


Critics within the Army and Congress are said to have laid complaints for years about the DCGS-A costing too much while not delivering the capabilities and intelligence required by soldiers, leading the U.S. Army to tap P…

Daimler And Geely Form Joint Venture For Electric Vehicles

Daimler and Chinese auto manufacturer Geely has entered a joint venture to "own, operate and further develop smart, the pioneer of small urban vehicles". Daimler and Geely will assemble EV models at a new electric car factory to be built in China, with sales aimed to begin by 2022.

This joint venture comes on the heels of another collaboration by automakers Toyota, Hino, Honda and Softbank. The new joint venture will be headed by six executives: three each from Daimler and Geely. Geely chairman Li Shufu and CEO An Conghui will be among the six.


The new vehicles to be produced by the joint venture will be styled by Mercedes-Benz while Geely provides the engineering facilities. Prior to launch of new models from 2022, Daimler will continue the production of its "smart vehicles" at its Hambach plant in France and at Novo Mesto, Slovenia.

The German auto brand is investing €500 million in the Hambach plant for this effort.




More on Autonomy:
Volkswagen Taps AWS For Cloud…

Softbank, Toyota, Honda And Hino Collaborate

Monet - a joint venture between Softbank and Toyota - has entered into a partnership with Japanese manufacturer Hino Motors and Honda. Hino and Honda will each invest 249.95 million yen ($2.6 million) for stakes of 10%. This partnership involves Monet harnessing data Hino collects from its trucks and buses and that of Honda's.

"Through this collaboration with Monet, Honda hopes to realize the more efficient promotion of acquiring users and social acceptance of mobility services, various experimental projects, and public relations activities for necessary regulatory changes. Honda wants to contribute to the revitalization of the mobility service industry in Japan and solve traffic-related problems facing Japanese society." Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement.


Softbank, Toyota and Honda have made several efforts in the automobile 'mobility' space. Toyota recently collaborated with Nvidia to develop self-driving vehicles. Honda and Softbank are investors…

Casper Reportedly Valued At $1.1 Billion With New Funding

Casper - the New York based startup known for its line of direct-to-consumer sold mattresses and other sleep items - has been valued at $1.1 billion with $100 million in new funding, according to Bloomberg. The report says Casper plans to officially announce the funding soon and that it'll be geared towards international expansion and growth of its physical retail locations.

Casper has already raised some $240 million: $13.1 million Series A funding, $55 million Series B funding and $170 million Series C funding. Investors include Target, rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Lerer Hippeau, Norwest Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), SV Angel, Slow Ventures, and celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine, and Scooter Braun.


According to Bloomberg, Casper surpassed $400 million in revenue last year. The company is part of a burgeoning list of startups that sell niche items directly to consumers mostly online while also operating physical sto…

Mobvoi Reportedly Seeking $100 Million Funding At $1 Billion Valuation

Mobvoi - A Chinese AI and smartwatch startup known for its development of in-house voice search technologies - is close to securing funding at a $1 billion valuation, Bloomberg reports. It says Mobvoi is seeking to raise $100 million ahead of planed IPO on a proposed board for tech companies in Shanghai.

A $1 billion valuation would imply a new addition to the unicorn club from the Chinese region. Mobvoi has already raised nearly $250 million according to Crunchbase data, from investors including Google, Sequoia Capital China, ZhenFund and Volkswagen. Mobvoi has a noteworthy link with Google, having marked as the tech giant's first direct investment in China after shuttering its search engine in the country in 2010.


Mobvoi was founded in 2012 by ex-Googlers and also counts Google as a partner. Google collaborated with the company in 2015 to get Android Wear into the Chinese market. Beijing based Mobvoi develops vice search technologies that it applies in products like the Chumenw…

Volkswagen Taps AWS For Cloud Efforts

Amazon Web Services continues to be on a tear, with Pinterest's recent IPO prospectus revealing a commitment to spend $750 million on AWS through 2023. Now automaker Volkswagen has tapped AWS to developed what it calls the "Volkswagen Industrial Cloud". The agreement is a multi-year one that'll involve combination of data of machines, systems and plants from all Volkswagen's 122 facilities.

Volkswagen is adopting a portfolio of AWS services including internet of Things (IoT), machine learning analytics and compute services for this effort. The company says the platform it aims to create will "standardize and simplify" exchange of data between its automotive systems and plants. Such platform will aid in deployment of technologies like robotics and analysis of production processes. The platform Volkswagen is creating will also be made open to other industrial companies.


“Volkswagen's and AWS's collaboration will have a profound impact on efficien…

McDonald's Acquires Dynamic Yield

Popular restaurant chain McDonald's has reached a deal to acquire Dynamic Yield, a New York and Tel Aviv based 'personalization' startup. McDonald's says it will utilize Dynamic Yield's technology - which applies machine learning for product and content recommendations - to "provide an even more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items."

Dynamic Yield's tech will also enable it instantly suggest and display additional items to customers' orders based on their selections. This will make McDonalds one of the first to integrate "decision technology" into point of sale at brick and mortar solutions. The restaurant chain has already tested this technology in several U.S. restaurants last year.


Once the Dynamic Yield acquisition closes, McDonalds says it'll begin to roll out this technology in its Driv…

UPS Partners With Matternet For Medical Drone Deliveries

UPS has partnered with drone startup Matternet to deliver medical samples via unmanned drones. Deliveries will take place at the hospital and campus of WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina. Test flights have already taken place at the campus in August 2018 as part of a pilot program set up by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA has set up a three-year long program that aims to test practical applications of drones by working with private companies and local governments. UPS will make use of Matternet's M2 quadcopter - one powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, capable of ferrying medical payloads weighing up to about 5 lbs. over distances of up to 12.5 miles. - for the deliveries.


The quadcopter will fly through a pre-determined path - while monitored by a specially trained pilot - to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab. The three parties involved - UPS, Matternet, and WakeMed - "will use the learnings to consider how …

Airwallex Raises $100 Million DST Global Led Series C

Airwallex - a facilitator for cross-border payments - has raised  $100 million Series C funding led by DST Global, hitting a $1 billion valuation in the process. Existing investors including Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Horizons Ventures, Sequoia Capital China, Gobi Partners and Square Peg Capital also participated in this round.

Australian founded Airwallex has now raised more than $200 million in total funding, just three years after its start. The company says it'll deploy the new capital to expand its suite of payments products and to support expansion into the US, UK, and Southeast Asia. It'll also further product development with this new funding.


Airwallex notably provides a solution for businesses to process international transactions. Customers can create accounts on Airwallex with local bank details and pay for services globally. Companies like JD.com, Tencent, MasterCard and Ctrip make use of Airwallex to process payments.

“We started Airwallex because we knew there…

Apple Unveils Credit Card

Apple has unveiled the Apple Card, a new type of credit card that's built into the Apple Wallet app on the iPhone, offering customers a similar experience to Apple Pay and the ability to manage their cards right from the smartphone. There'll also be a physical titanium card, but one without a credit card number, CVV, signature or expiration date.

The Apple Card carries no fees and also "interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry" according to Apple. It says the card will offer the "flexibility to schedule more frequent payments" and show a range of payment options and calculate the interest cost on various payment amounts in real-time.


One unique feature of the Apple Card is privacy and security, with a unique card number created and stored on a microprocessor chip on the iPhone for each card. Every transaction will have to be authorized with Face ID or Touch ID and a one-time unique dynamic security code. Users of the Apple Card will be also…

Apple Debuts New TV Subscription Service

Along with a new games subscription service and news subscription service, Apple has premiered a new video subscription service - Apple TV+ - that'll feature new content from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon and more. Exclusive shows, movies, and documentaries are what users will be getting from the new service, signaling more competition for the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

This comes on the heels of YouTube reportedly canceling plans for all its high-end Hollywood dramas and comedies, to focus on music and gaming. In addition, Apple has also unveiled a new Apple TV app and new channels that'll launch in May. Users are now able to subscribe to new Apple TV channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime, and pay for only the services they want with the new version.



The new app will offer suggestions for movies and shows from more than 150 video streaming apps, including Hulu, Amazon Prime, and…

Apple Debuts New News Subscription Service

Apple has unveiled a new news subscription service - Apple News+ - that features more than 300 popular magazines, newspapers, and digital publishers. They include The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Magazine, People, Vanity Fair, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, theSlimm, Vox, Extra Crunch from TechCrunch, Grub Street, ELLE and more.

The new news subscription service is optimized for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, showcasing magazines "...in richly designed layouts, featuring animated covers, vivid photography and bold typography", according to Apple. It'll be available in the U.S. and Canada.



Apple will keep supporting the free Apple News service the US, Canada, UK and Australia. The company has also unveiled a game subscription service that'll debut on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV later this year.



Apple Unveils Game Subscription Service

Apple has unveiled a game subscription service - dubbed Apple Arcade - that it says will feature more than 100 new and exclusive games, including original titles from popular game creators Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Ken Wong at launch. The new games subscription service will focus on paid games, and feature other games from the likes of Cartoon Network, Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Giant Squid, Konami, Lego, Snowman, Finji and more.

To make it simple, Apple Arcade will be sort of a Spotify for games, with users able to access several paid games on the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV for a monthly fee. That entails players getting the opportunity to try various paid games without breaking bank. Apple says every game available on the upcoming service will be playable offline, with users able to pick up where they left off in a game, even if they switch to other Apple devices. The company says new games will be added regularly to the service.



Apple Arcade will launch in…

YouTube Said To Cancel Plans For Scripted Shows

According to a Bloomberg report, YouTube has axed plans for high-end Hollywood dramas and comedies, bowing out of competition with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. The report says canceled shows include sci-fi drama Origin and comedy Overthinking with Kat & June, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

A pull-back likely reflects high expenses for scripted shows. Even for a tech giant for YouTube parent Google, original shows could cost much amid competition from video streaming leader Netflix and Amazon which have spent billions of dollars on content production and acquisition. In 2018 alone, Netflix spent $8 billion on content and is expected to spend up to $15 billion this year.


Apple is also getting into the video streaming space, with a service expected for debut soon. It'll reportedly charge $10 per month for access to channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz. According to Bloomberg's report, YouTube concluded its money is better invested in music and gaming after …

Tarana Raises $60 Million From Khosla Ventures And EchoStar

Tarana Wireless - a Santa Clara, California based company focused on wireless network access services - has announced $60 million in new funding from Khosla Ventures and satellite communications giant EchoStar. With this round, Tarana has now raised nearly $200 million in total funding.

As part of the round, EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen, Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul and OneWeb chairman Greg Wyler are joining Tarana's board. This comes on the heels of former EchoStar EVP Kranti Kilaru joining Tarana Wireless as president.


Tarana currently employs some 165 people and aims to grow its team by 35 employees by mid-year. “We are excited to complete this round of financing, which allows us to finish our product development efforts and start commercial trials with a number of tier 1 operators who are now making plans for that phase.” COO Sergiu Nedevshi said in a statement.

Other investors in Tarana include AT&T, Blum Capital, 1010 Holdings and Deutsche Telekom. The valuatio…

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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.



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…

Meet goPuff, A Low-key Delivery Company Worth $1 Billion

The food-delivery market is one with intense competition. The likes of DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, Deliveroo, Swiggy, Just Eat, Yelp Eat 24, and more are steadily competing for global market share while also raising huge funding. Just recently, Deliveroo raised $575 million in a round led by Amazon. DoorDash has also raised $600 million Series G funding at a $12.6 billion valuation.

Amid the intense battle, it turns out there's one hot startup that has stayed low key to avoid the eye of rivals, but it seems word is getting out. That low-key hot startup is goPuff, on-demand convenience store delivery app that was valued at $1 billion last November after a financing round, according to regulatory filings reviewed by The Information. goPuff ships products to customers from centrally located facilities -- as opposed to direct pickup from stores -- in 81 U.S. cities.


The company -- based in Philadelphia -- stocks more than 3,000 products at its facilities which it then ships to cu…

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…

Affirm Raises $300 Million Thrive Capital Led Round

Affirm - the online lending startup led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin - has raised $300 million Series F funding led by Joshua Kushner's Thrive Capital, with participation from new investors Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Baillie Gifford, Wellington Management and Fidelity, and returning investors GIC, Founders Fund, Spark Capital, Ribbit Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Moore Asset Backed Fund.

Affirm has now raised $800 million in total funding, with this round valuing the company at $2.9 billion according to Axios. Thrive Capital is getting a board seat at Affirm with its investment. The company has also announced new additions to its board and executive team. Former Groupon executive Silvija Martincevic is joining as Chief Commercial Officer, former PayPal executive Greg Fisher is joining as Chief Marketing Officer, ex OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles is joining as an independent board member.


Affirm, which allows its customers get loans of up to $15…

Wall Street Arrange Big Loans For China's Unicorns

Several investment banks -- like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- are known to have arranged big loans for U.S. tech unicorns. Companies that have taken on such big loans include the likes of Uber, Opendoor, WeWork, Dropbox, SpaceX, SoFi and Affirm to name a few. But recently, China's Bytedance got a $1.34 billion loan from a group dominated by Wall Street banks, pointing to a new area of interest from Wall Street lenders; Chinese companies.

China's tech unicorns are not conventionally known for taking on big loans, but this may be changing, with a Bloomberg piece stating that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are arranging an up to $1 billion debt facility for Chinese real estate brokerage Beike Zhaofang, not too long after the brokerage secured $800 million in funding. Bloomberg also says Guazi -- fresh off  $1.5 billion in funding from Softbank earlier this year -- is in talks with banks for a credit facility of up to $400 million.


With historically low borrowing costs, …

Grab Reportedly Eyeing Banking License

According to a Reuters report, Grab -- the Singapore-based ride-hailing company valued at $14 billion -- is considering getting a banking license to offer online-banking services in Singapore as regulators in the city-state consider allowing online-only banks to operate. Reuters says Grab is close to enlisting a consultancy to give advice on its banking potential and is preparing to apply for a digital-only bank license if Singapore regulators open up the sector.

If this happens, it'll mark Grab's first foray into banking, not surprising given its massive funding ($8.8 billion total, according to Crunchbase data). Grab may be looking for ways to expand its reach and market prospects, with digital banking being attractive thanks to Southeast Asia’s growing payments market.


The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said last month that it was looking into the potential for letting “digital-only banks with non-bank parentage” into Singapore's market. According to Reuters, th…

Hyundai Takes Stake In Aurora

Shortly after Aurora partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving vehicles, Hyundai has announced it has invested an undisclosed sum in Aurora, cementing a strategic partnership -- to work on self-driving technologies -- formed between both parties in 2018. With this investment, Hyundai and Aurora have agreed to expand research to other vehicle models, with the latter now working to build a custom self-driving platform for Hyundai and -- its subsidiary brand -- Kia's driverless vehicles.

Hyundai says its self-driving vehicles will "enhance their ability to monitor, react, and adapt to different surroundings" with the addition of "Driver", Aurora's self-driving stack. This stack is what Aurora earlier agreed to sell to Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai has made some waves in the driverless vehicle world, having successfully demonstrated self-driving tech in urban environments at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company also debuted a fleet of driv…

Volvo And Uber Debut New Automated Car

Volvo and Uber have teamed up for a new self-driving car that'll be equipped with self-driving features at the factory level as opposed to fitting already made cars with Uber's own self-driving technology. The new vehicle is a Volvo XC90 SUV that the automaker says is "capable of fully driving itself" when combined with technology developed by Uber ATG.

The new self-driving vehicle is equipped with more safety features, the most prominent being back-up systems for steering and braking functions. The systems are designed to get the vehicle to a halt if any of its primary systems fail. There's also battery back-up power for the vehicles.


Volvo and Uber entered a commercial agreement in 2016 for Volvo to supply tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles in coming years. This new vehicle is based on the partnership.

Volvo plans to put this new vehicle to work by 2020.



Juul Sales Boom

According to a Bloomberg piece, popular e-cigarette maker Juul has told investors that sales have gotten stronger after a short period of lowered sales late last year, due to a pulling off of some flavored vape products in the U.S. stemming from increasing popularity with underage users. According to Bloomberg, Juul said -- in a letter to investors -- that its first quarter sales were $528 million, up 23% from $430 million a year earlier.

Juul was previously reported to be expecting $3.4 billion in sales this year. An earlier conference call from Altria -- which purchased 35% of Juul for $12.8 billion in December -- said Juul sold 175 million refill pods in the U.S. in Q1, up from 64 million a year earlier. In Q4 2018, Juul told investors it had $70.4 million in adjusted losses and more than $700 million cash on hand.


But increased sales come with increased scrutiny. Juul is facing increased probes from regulators in the U.S., India and other places, with critics saying the company h…