The Daily Download - latest tech news, byte sized. Based on @launchticker

The download for 2021-04-18 →

Ant Group denies report that the firm is exploring options for Founder Jack Ma to divest his stake and cede control; one source said Ant hoped Ma could sell his stake to Ant investors or affiliates, but another said regulators had prohibited Ma from selling shares to people and organizations close to him; regulators blocked Ant's planned dual-IPO in November, and Reuters sources said Ma's exit could revive plans for a public listing . link

Atlanta-based Saltbox, which provides shared facilities for e-commerce businesses to store and ship goods, raises $10.6M Series A led by Playground Global; currently operates two facilities (in Atlanta and the Dallas-Fort Worth area) and plans to have eight operational by year's end; also offers integrated logistics services, equipment rentals, more . link

Robinhood suffered a crypto outage, order failures, and notification delays during Dogecoin's surge on Thursday and Friday; the company saw three significant outages in March; in January, Robinhood halted trades on volatile stocks due to capital requirements, and ultimately raised billions to weather such volatility in the future . link

This Week in Startups | End of WeekJason streamed live on YouTube on Friday for TWiSt's first EOW (End of Week) show; he discussed recent and upcoming episodes of This Week in Startups and fielded viewer questions about his typical work week, dealing with unmotivated founding team members, Dogecoin, more . link

Amazon Game Studios cancels link

NY Gov Andrew Cuomo signs bill requiring all ISPs operating in the state to offer low-income households broadband at $15 per month for standard speeds and $20 per month for high speeds; 7M people representing 2.7M NY households qualify as low-income . link

Elon Musk says Starlink's existing user terminals should be mobile by year's end, meaning a user will be able to move a unit to a new address or use it while mobile in a truck or RV; Musk said mobile support required additional satellites and some software updates; currently, Starlink beta testers cannot move service from one address to another . link

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requested Peloton recall its treadmills following multiple child injuries and one child death, but the company has resisted, according to officials speaking with The Washington Post; Peloton reportedly delayed a CPSC investigation into the death; the CPSC issued a warning to consumers against using Peloton's Tread+ . link

Outschool, a marketplace for live after-school classes, raises $75M Series C at a $1.3B valuation led by Coatue and Tiger Global Management; investors valued the firm at $320M for a $45M Series B in September; Outschool offers courses in music, college preparation, finance, and more . link

The download for 2021-04-17 →

Level, which bundles dental and vision insurance for teams, raises $27M Series A led by Khosla and Lightspeed; allows clients, including Docker and Intercom, to customize plans; Level says it processes claims in ~four hours . link

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple, which debuted on the Nasdaq this week, plans to begin testing its vehicles without safety drivers present on public roads in AZ this year; the trucks will transport customer cargo between Phoenix and Tucson; TuSimple currently has 50 trucks in the US and 20 in China . link

Blockchain tech firm Dapper Labs, which developed NBA Top Shot, is raising money at a $7.5B-plus valuation in a round led by Coatue Management, according to a source for The Information; the firm disclosed a $305M Series B at a reported $2.6B valuation in recent weeks .Watch Jason speak with CEO Roham Gharegozlou on This Week in Startups: link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Republic CEO Kendrick Nguyen about how he got involved with crowdfunding, what it costs to raise funds on Republic, how the firm conducts diligence, how large followings impact fundraising, retail vs venture capital, changes in SEC regulation, more . link

BrandProject, an early-stage firm that operates a startup studio, raises $43M for its first traditional venture vehicle, the BrandProject Capital fund; the fund, like BrandProject Studio, will focus on D2C brands; the firm's exits include Chef’s Plate, Freshly, and Persona . link

General Motors and LG Chem announce plans to launch a battery cell factory in TN, the second such facility for the firms' $2.3B joint venture; the companies are beginning construction and expect the facility will be complete by late 2023; the two facilities will create a total of ~2.4k jobs . link

Republicans from the House Energy and Commerce Committee outline goals and principles for reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which limits internet companies' liability for user-generated content; includes a reduction in companies' power to moderate content protected by the First Amendment . link

UserZoom, which provides tools for evaluating UX quality, raises $100M and acquires customer feedback and user research firm EnjoyHQ; terms undisclosed; UserZoom, with an $80M ARR, serves Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce; UserZoom has raised $136M, and EnjoyHQ previously raised $2M . link

Chili Piper, an appointment scheduling service for B2B sales teams, raises $33M Series B led by Tiger Global; claims Intuit, Spotify, and Twilio as customers; raised ~$54M to date . link

Amazon is testing a premium service for assembling furniture and appliances after delivery, according to Bloomberg sources; the company reportedly plans to introduce the service in VA and two other markets; a presentation viewed by Bloomberg indicated drivers would take products back immediately for unsatisfied customers . link

Squarespace files for NYSE direct listing; the company saw $621M in revenue last year and $522.8M gross profit; its ARR grew 28.5 percent last year to $705.5M; CEO Anthony Casalena hols 68.2 percent voting power; the firm expects to trade under the symbol SQSP . link

NASA selects SpaceX for a $2.9B contract to build a lunar lander for a crewed mission to the moon, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post; NASA's Artemis mission seeks to return astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024, and for the first time, land a woman and a person of color on the surface . link

Apple reveals its payment structure for artists who stream on Apple Music; the company pays rights holders $0.01 per stream, with money from listener subscriptions; comparatively, Spotify pays out one-third to one-half a cent per stream but offers a larger audience; Apple Music claims 60M paid subscribers while Spotify claims 155M paid users out of 345M total active users . link

Dogecoin enters world's top ten cryptocurrencies following ~400 percent growth over seven days; an individual coin was trading at less than a cent in late January and reached $0.47 today . link

The download for 2021-04-16 →

Officials in Taiwan say drought on the island could further impact the global semiconductor shortage; Taiwan, which is responsible for two-thirds of chip manufacturing, is suffering its worst dry period in half a century; the Taiwanese government has instituted water management plans, but has so far exempted chipmakers from such measures . link

Ferrari CEO John Elkann says the company will showcase its first EV in 2025; Elkann notes the firm has already leveraged its motor racing experience to develop hybrid models SF90 Stradale and SF90 Spider . link

TX-based e-commerce services startup raises $25M Series A led by Mercury Fund and Arsenal Growth with participation from Moonshots Capital and Scarlet Venture Fund; founded in Sept 2020 the company offers end-to-end tools for managing an online retail business; has raised $45M to date . link

An Australian federal court finds Google partially misled users about how it handles location data; the court says the company continued gathering location, web, and app activity after some Android users opted out of tracking; Justice Thomas Thawley has ruled Google breached consumer laws, but the company says it disagrees and is considering an appeal . link

User numbers for Facebook Dating are likely smaller than its competitors, reports The Verge; recent ads indicate Facebook Dating has 278k active users in New York City and 43k in Indianapolis; Match Group claims its brands, which include Tinder and Hinge, are more active in New York City . link

Robinhood’s crypto trading feature suffers a temporary outage; the company cites “unprecedented demand” as the cause of the issue; follows earlier problems with its crypto services on April 13 . link

MA securities regulators move to terminate Robinhood’s broker-dealer status in the state; in an update to an earlier complaint, the Securities Division says the company has continued “aggressively inducing and enticing trading among its customers”; Robinhood has lodged its own grievance, claiming MA’s rules do not apply to its business model .MA Secretary of State William Galvin says regulators have updated the complaint because it believes Robinhood will not “change their conduct”; Galvin also says the firm refuses to acknowledge it has a “duty to their customers to treat them as investors” .In response to the updated filing, the company says MA regulators are trying to “reinstate the financial barriers that Robinhood was founded to break down” . link

Walmart-controlled Flipkart acquires India-based travel-booking website Cleartrip; terms undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source says the deal values the company at $40M; Cleartrip, which has raised ~$74M to date, will continue to operate as a standalone brand . link

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou uncovers an iOS gambling app masquerading as a platform game; “Jungle Runner 2k21,” which has since been removed from the App Store, unlocked the gambling feature if a device VPN was set to Turkey; The Verge notes the developer has other App Store titles that also feature hidden gambling sections . link

Jeff Bezos says Amazon now has 200M Prime subscribers, up ~33 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; Bezos disclosed the information in a letter to investors, his last as CEO; AWS head Andy Jassy is set to take over from Bezos in Q3 .Bezos says Amazon needs “a better vision” for how it creates “value for employees”; Bezos, who will remain at Amazon as executive chair once Jassy becomes CEO, says he wants the company to become the world's best and safest employer . link

Amazon threatened smart home products company Ecobee over customer data, according to a source for The Wall Street Journal; Ecobee's smart thermostat works with Alexa and shares some data with Amazon; Amazon reportedly demanded additional data, Ecobee declined, and Amazon threatened to hurt Ecobee's ability to sell on Amazon . link

This Week in Startups | Throwback Episode from November 2017Jason recaps Coinbase's trajectory, from early days to public debut, as an introduction for his 2017 interview with CEO Brian Armstrong; Brian speaks about his first bitcoin project, the potential for decentralized social networks, the ICO craze, more . link

Nikola Motor Company ($4.17B market cap) closes down 9.5 percent at $10.63, nearing the $10 price for its 2018 SPAC debut; shares hit $90 in June, pushing Nikola's market cap beyond Ford's, but the company has faced scandal, production problems, more .Watch Jason talk about allegations of fraud at the firm, founder Trevor Milton's departure, and more on a September episode of This Week in Startups: link

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple drops ~20 percent in Nasdaq debut; the firm priced shares at $40, raising $1.3B, after setting a guide price of $35 to $39 per share; the company currently operates a fleet of 70 semi-trucks, 50 in the US .Update: TuSimple closes flat at $40 per share . link

AppLovin opens at $70 per share in Nasdaq debut after pricing at $80 per share; the opening price gave the company a $24B market cap; the firm claims a one-percent share of the $189B global apps market .Update: AppLovin closes down 18.5 percent at $65.20 per share with a ~$23B market cap . link

Upper90, which offers debt and equity funding for e-commerce businesses, raises $55M for its first fund dedicated to equity investments; the firm raised a $195M fund in December; Upper90 focuses on businesses built upon or adjacent to tech disruptors . link

US sanctions Russia over 2020 election interference and SolarWinds hack, blacklists six Russian tech companies serving Russian intelligence's cyber program; the Treasury Department sanctioned dozens of entities and individuals altogether; a Biden administration official said some aspects of the response would remain unseen, but said the government did not seek escalation . link

EV company Rivian launches Rivian Insurance, initially available in 40 states; during the online vehicle purchase process, the company offers insurance for the vehicle purchased as well as boats, campers, dirt bikes, etc; Rivian will tailor coverage according to safety data from the vehicle . link

This Week in Startups:Growth | Scaling Your Startup, S2 E1Jason introduces Growth University Founder and CEO Craig Zingerline and Fitbod Co-Founder and CEO Allen Chen; they cover why startups fail, product road mapping, growth modeling, customer acquisition and retention, product-market fit, more . link

Judge in Apple patent suit overturns $506M damages judgment, says the company should have been allowed to argue that plaintiff Optis Wireless Technology had demanded unfair royalties; the judge did not overturn the finding regarding Apple's liability for using patented 4G tech in iPhones . link

Xwing, which develops an aftermarket autonomy system for aircraft, raises $40M for a $400M post-valuation; the firm recently conducted a successful gate-to-gate demonstration flight with a commercial cargo craft and has completed 200 missions using its AutoFlight system (with safety pilots present) . link

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple drops ~20 percent in Nasdaq debut; the firm priced shares at $40, raising $1.3B, after setting a guide price of $35 to $39 per share; the company currently operates a fleet of 70 semi-trucks, 50 in the US .Update: TuSimple closes flat at $40 per share . link

Cruise raises undisclosed funding from Walmart to bring its current round total to $2.75B; the company disclosed a $2B-plus raise for a $30B post-valuation in January; Walmart said the deal would help the retailer's efforts to establish a scalable home delivery network . link

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approves a 400-page report accusing Big Tech companies of acquiring or destroying smaller firms; now an official committee report, the document will serve as a blueprint for new legislation targeting big tech firms; the report indicates Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook hold monopolies in significant sectors . link

AppLovin opens at $70 per share in Nasdaq debut after pricing at $80 per share; the opening price gave the company a $24B market cap; the firm claims a one-percent share of the $189B global apps market .Update: AppLovin closes down 18.5 percent at $65.20 per share with a ~$23B market cap . link

The download for 2021-04-15 →

IBM ($118.5B market cap) acquires Italy-based process mining firm MyInvenio; terms undisclosed; MyInvenio offers tools for optimizing company processes . link

Twitch says it has identified more than 7.5M bot accounts that are used to inflate engagement metrics; such bots are often used to boost a streamer’s viewership or follower count; Twitch says it’s taking action to remove the bots and display the correct statistics . link

China-based EV firm Xpeng says it’s considering developing proprietary autonomous driving chips; comes as the company launches the P5, a new sedan that makes use of Lidar tech for driver-assist features; the P5 includes semiconductors from Qualcomm and Nvidia . link

Nvidia advises demand for its GPUs will likely outstrip supply through the rest of 2021; the company’s products have been in short supply since last year; Nvidia notes it anticipates more GPUs will become available over the coming quarters . link

Tencent Music names Zhu Liang as its CEO; Zhu replaces Cussion Kar Shun Pang, who will now serve as board chair; outgoing chair Tong Tao Sang is leaving the company . link

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple prices its IPO at $40 a share, raising ~$1.3B on an $8.5B valuation; the firm previously set a guide price of $35 to $39 apiece; TuSimple will list today on the Nasdaq under the symbol TSP . link

Three Shopify executives are set to leave the company in June, reports the Ottawa Business Journal; chief talent officer Brittany Forsyth, chief technology officer Jean-Michel Lemieux, and chief legal officer Joe Frasca will all depart; Forsyth, who has been with the firm since 2010, notes she wants to “double down” on her own “entrepreneurship journey” . link

Data handling firm Benchling raises $200M on a $4B valuation led by Sequoia Capital; also names former Houzz executive Richard Wong as CFO; Benchling, which offers R&D tools to the biotech industry, has raised $350M to date . link

Instagram begins testing a feature to let users decide if they want to see Likes on other people’s posts; they can also choose whether to display Likes on their own content; Facebook will soon also pilot a similar feature . link

EV firm Polestar raises $550M led by Chongqing Chengxing Equity Investment Fund and Zibo; the company is in talks with other investors about additional backing; Polestar, which is controlled by Volvo and Geely, says the money will help accelerate the development and roll out of new car models . link

Bang & Olufsen (B&O) unveils Beosound Emerge, a Google Assistant-powered smart speaker with a book-style design; works in concert with other B&O speakers and features AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support; starts at $700, available in Europe from April 15 and then globally this fall . link

Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC warns the global semiconductor shortage could continue into 2022; TSMC, which serves as a contract manufacturer for multiple companies, notes consumer electronics are starting to be impacted; CEO CC Wei suggests supply levels for automakers may improve by the next quarter . link

Adtech firm AppLovin sets its IPO price at $80 per share, raising ~$1.8B on a $26.8B valuation; AppLovin will list today on the Nasdaq under the symbol APP . link

CRM platform Pico raises $6.5M led by Bullpen Capital with participation from Precursor Ventures and others; aimed at creators, the NY-based startup provides a suite of tools for handling email newsletters, memberships, and more . link

Twitter announces a plan to study the possible unintended consequences of its algorithms; the firm will look at the impact of its automated image cropping tools, content recommendations, and more; Twitter says it may make some platform adjustments based on what it learns . link

Banking tech company Zeta is in talks to raise $250M Series D at a $1B-plus valuation led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, according to TechCrunch sources; investors valued the firm at $300M for a Series C in 2019; provides an API-accessible, cloud-native banking stack and various banking services . link

High-performance computing company Groq raises $300M led by Tiger Global and D1 Capital; the firm produces AI chips and provides cloud computing access; serves undisclosed clients in financial services and autonomous driving . link

Scale AI, a platform for labeling and curating data for AI training, raises $325M Series E at a $7.3B valuation led by Dragoneer and Greenoaks; investors valued the firm at $3.5B for a $155M round in December; raised ~$600M to date . link

Dell ($70.7B market cap) to spin out VMWare ($65B market cap) in a deal giving Dell $9B-plus in proceeds; Dell will offer VMWare shareholders a special dividend worth ~$12B; Dell owns ~81 percent of VMWare shares . link

Coinbase opens at $381 per share in direct listing after the Nasdaq set a reference price of $250 per share; the opening price valued the firm at $99.6B, fully diluted; the stock spiked to $429 before settling below the opening price .Update: Coinbase closes at $328 per share with an $85.8B market cap; shares peaked around $429 and traded as low as $310 . link

Google announces multiple updates to Assistant, including better support for finding a misplaced iPhone; using Google Home, the user can trigger a sound on the missing iPhone, even if it has Do Not Disturb enabled; Google also updated Duplex to partially automate online restaurant ordering . link

Kroger and UK grocer Ocado unveil their first codeveloped fulfillment center, a 375k-square-foot facility in OH; ~400 employees will work alongside 1k robots to pick and sort online purchases; Kroger expects to process $700M in annual sales . link

New York City's Department of Transportation approves Bird, Lime, and VeoRide for the city's first e-scooter pilot program; the companies plan to launch services in early summer with 1k scooters each; NY lifted a statewide ban on throttle-based e-bikes and e-scooters last year . link

Pickle, an MIT spinoff that develops warehouse robots, raises $5.75M seed; the startup's first product, Dill, unloads trailers at loading docks at up to 1.6k picks per hour; Pickle plans to open pre-orders in June and to ship early next year . link

TikTok-like Triller acquires Amplify.AI, an AI-powered solution for customer engagement and moderation, and FITE TV, a streaming service focused on combat sports; terms undisclosed; Amplify.AI Co-Founder Mahi de Silva will serve as CEO of TrillerNet, and current Triller CEO Mike Lu will transition to president . link

SpaceX has raised $1.16B in equity financing in the past two months, according to regulatory filings; CNBC reported in February the company had raised $850M for a $74B post-valuation; SpaceX closed a $1.9B round last August . link

Coinbase opens at $381 per share in direct listing after the Nasdaq set a reference price of $250 per share; the opening price valued the firm at $99.6B, fully diluted; the stock spiked to $429 before settling below the opening price .Update: Coinbase closes at $328 per share with an $85.8B market cap; shares peaked around $429 and traded as low as $310 . link

The download for 2021-04-14 →

Sales management startup Atrium raises $13.5M seed from Bonfire Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Bullpen Capital; Atrium offers SaaS tools for managing and tracking customer engagement levels; clients include Salesloft, LaunchDarkly, and Chorus . link

Encrypted messaging service Wire raises $21M Series B led by UVC Partners; the startup, with offices in Switzerland and the US, offers enterprise-focused chat tools with support for text, photos, video, and voice messages; has raised $34.5M to date . link

Ford says it will add its BlueCruise hands-free driving tech to its pickup and Mustang lineup later this year; BlueCruise, which is comparable to Tesla’s Autopilot, will be available in some versions of its F-150 and Mustang Mach-E vehicles . link

Dyson announces it’s hiring 450 engineers and researchers across the UK and Singapore; the move is part of a $3.7B investment strategy as the firm expands into robotics and AI; Dyson notes it’s also planning to open a cybersecurity research facility in Singapore . link

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile end a joint-effort to develop an RCS messaging app; reasons for the shutdown unclear; the carriers announced the formation of the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative in 2019, with the promise of RCS interoperability . link

TX-based cybersecurity firm raises $2M from LiveOak Venture Partners; the startup offers attack surface management tools to enterprise customers . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates Apple will launch a new iPhone mini this year, but not in 2022; Kuo also predicts the 2022 lineup will comprise two 6.1-inch versions and two with 6.7-inch displays; the higher-end iPhones will feature 48MP rear cameras . link

Skills platform Degreed raises $153M on a valuation of more than $1.4B led by Sapphire Ventures and Riverwood Capital; the company offers career development and training programs to enterprise customers; additionally, Degreed is announcing former Box executive Dan Levin is taking over from Chris McCarthy as CEO . link

Google makes its enterprise-focused AppSheet Automation tool generally available; the no-code development platform is designed to let companies automate regular processes; includes the ability to automatically extract text from documents such as invoices and more . link

Bandwango, a UT-based startup providing white-label services to tourism boards, raises $3.1M seed led by Next Frontier Capital with participation from Kickstart, Signal Peak Ventures, and others; the company offers an online platform that lets tourism boards showcase regional businesses, local offers, and more . link

Squarespace is planning a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; it filed to go public in January, but the timing of the listing is unclear; Squarespace was last valued at $10B . link

Samsung announces its next Galaxy Unpacked event will occur April 28; the invite teases “the most powerful Galaxy,” which The Verge speculates may indicate the company will announce a new Galaxy-branded laptop . link

SambaNova Systems, which develops chips and provides infrastructure for AI, raises $676M Series D for a $5B-plus post-valuation led by SoftBank; provides clients access to computing power for AI and data-intensive workloads; the firm is preparing to launch a free cloud service for research institutions and a DataFlow as a Service product for businesses; raised $1B-plus to date . link

Home fitness company Tempo raises $220M Series C led by SoftBank; the firm produces an AI-powered hardware system with sensors and display, which counts reps and analyzes form; customers workout to coach videos; raised ~$300M to date . link

Nasdaq sets reference price for Coinbase's Wednesday direct listing at $250 per share, indicating a fully diluted valuation of $65.3B; the reference price does not indicate the firm's opening price; represents the Nasdaq's first significant direct listing, CNBC reports . link

Stripe saw $7.4B in revenue last year, up ~70 percent year-over-year, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the firm achieved a $95B post-valuation with a $600M raise in March; Stripe is preparing to go public . link

Hatch, a neo-bank offering small business checking and loans, launches with $20M from Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, others; the startup charges $10 per month for an account with no overdraft fees; Founder and CEO Thomson Nguyen sold Framed Data to Square in 2016 . link

A group of ~650 tech employees at The New York Times, including project managers and software engineers, announces the formation of a union to be represented by the NewsGuild of New York, which already claims some of the Times' newsroom staff as members; the new union, the Times Tech Guild, which would negotiate separate from newsroom members, seeks recognition from the Times . link

1Password acquires SecretHub, which offers encrypted storage for passwords, API keys, more; terms undisclosed; 1Password also announced a partnership with GitHub and said that teams would have the ability to automate all processes associated with infrastructure secrets; 1Password has raised $200M to date . link

Blockchain tech company ConsenSys raises $65M from JP Morgan, Mastercard, others; provides an app suite for commerce and finance, an open-source blockchain protocol for business, security audits, more; the firm, a significant contributor to Ethereum 2.0, has been working with Mastercard on a private network . link

Clubhouse expands its new Payments service to 66k more creators; all users can send payments, and Clubhouse does not take a cut; the firm began testing early this month with ~1k creators and is expanding access essentially randomly, taking into account creator activity and policy violations . link

Epic Games raises $1B at a $28.7B valuation, with Sony contributing $200M; Sony invested $250M last July at a ~$18B valuation; Epic CEO Tim Sweeney remains controlling shareholder; raised ~$4.4B to date . link

Facebook is testing a video-based speed dating app called Sparked, developed by the firm's NPE Team; requires a Facebook account but does not feature public profiles, direct messages, or any swiping mechanic; the app pairs users for four-minute video calls, and if they agree, for a second 10-minute date before suggesting they exchange contact information . link

Spotify launches its first hardware device, Car Thing; the company will ship a limited number of units to select Spotify Premium users in the US, free of charge (recipients pay for shipping); the company revealed its plans to test the product in 2019; the voice-controlled gadget is not compatible with other streaming services . link

Apple announces link

China imported 155.6B semiconductor units valued at $93.6B in the first quarter, and a monthly record of 58.9B in March, according to the General Administration of Customs; an EqualOcean analyst said Chinese OEMs were stockpiling units that mainland China can't currently mass produce, such as volatile memory . link

The download for 2021-04-13 →

China-based DJI, known for its drones and camera gimbal devices, announces a smart vehicle unit; DJI Auto will develop and produce a range of products for the vehicle industry; the company says it will reveal more about the operation at the Shanghai auto show next week . link

Battery Resourcers, an MA-based startup focused on recycling EV power cells, raises $20M Series B led by Orbia Ventures with participation from At One Ventures, TDK Ventures, and others; the company dismantles batteries and sells materials back to the EV industry . link

Samsung unveils Galaxy Quantum 2, its latest smartphone with built-in cryptography; features a quantum number generator chip and supports apps that make use of Android Keystore APIs; the device launches April 23 in South Korea in partnership with SK Telecom . link

Privacy-centric browser Brave disables in-development cookies-alternative FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts); Brave claims FLoC, which Google is developing, is harmful because its shares user information with sites that otherwise would not have such data; follows similar criticisms from DuckDuckGo and the Electronic Frontier Foundation . link

Crypto-tech firm MOUND raises $1.6M seed led by Binance Labs with participation from IDEO CoLab and others; MOUND operates a number of decentralized finance (DeFi) services, including yield farming aggregator PancakeBunny, which is built on Binance’s Smart Chain platform . link

VC firm Energy Transition Ventures announces its first fund, targets renewable energy startups; the TX-based company aims to secure $75M; established by Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman, previously involved with similar investment initiatives at Accel Partners, Jane Capital, and Shell Technology Ventures . link

Bitcoin reaches a record high of more than $62k; ethereum has also hit a new level at $2.2k; CNBC notes the climbing valuations come as crypto exchange Coinbase prepares to go public on April 14 .Update: bitcoin passes $63k . link

GameStop is searching for a new CEO to replace current head George Sherman, according to Reuters sources; multiple board directors are involved in the effort and have spoken with candidates from various industries including gaming and e-commerce; Sherman took up the CEO role in April 2019 . link

Siri says Apple will hold an event at its Apple Park campus on April 20, reports MacRumors; the digital assistant reveals the details when asked about Apple’s next schedule event; it’s rumored Apple will announce new iPad Pro models and AirTags . link

China-based WeRide secures a permit to test fully driverless vehicles on public roads in San Jose, CA; WeRide has permission to operate on specific streets at speeds of up to 45 Mph; the company has been publicly testing autonomous cars with safety drivers since 2017 . link

Nvidia unveils a rental scheme for its cloud-centric supercomputer DGX Station A100; DGX Station, aimed at data scientists, combines multiple A100 units to provide a total of 2.5 teraflops of computing power; DGX Station is one of several new products and services announced at Nvidia's GTC event . link

Facebook announces Oculus Gaming Showcase for April 21; the event will be live-streamed to Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube; promises to showcase new footage from unreleased VR games, and more . link

Forbes profiles a vulnerability that could let a hacker take over someone's WhatsApp account; the somewhat involved process exploits the account recovery procedure . link

Tesla increases the pricing for Solar Roof, telling customers under existing contracts they could sign new contracts or cancel their agreements; one customer told The Verge that Tesla increased his costs (for Solar Roof, batteries, and installation) from $65k to $110k; the customer also said it was difficult to cancel the contract, and that he couldn't do so until a friend who worked at Tesla connected him with the right employee . link

IBM announces its legacy IT infrastructure unit will spin off as Kyndryl; the firm announced the split in October, indicating the core company would focus on cloud and AI . link

China's Didi Chuxing agreed to acquire autonomous driving tech firm Aurora Innovation for $1B in 2017, but the companies canceled the deal after US officials expressed concerns about national security, according to sources for The Information; Aurora is now worth ~$10B; Didi reportedly could seek a $100B valuation for its upcoming US IPO . link

Social commerce company DealShare raises $100M Series D led by Tiger Global, according to TechCrunch sources; the company launched via WhatsApp and later developed its own app and site; the firm focuses on sharable discounts and rewards . link

Uber says it saw record demand in March, taking more total bookings (rides and delivery) than in any other month since its 2009 founding; the firm booked the most rides it had seen since March of last year; last month, Lyft said its weekly ride bookings had recovered to pre-pandemic levels .Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says his company will explore marijuana delivery once it's legal at the federal level; he said Uber would focus on delivering food and alcohol for now; CA, NV, and OR currently allow unrestricted marijuana delivery for customers aged 21 and older . link

Uber says it saw record demand in March, taking more total bookings (rides and delivery) than in any other month since its 2009 founding; the firm booked the most rides it had seen since March of last year; last month, Lyft said its weekly ride bookings had recovered to pre-pandemic levels .Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says his company will explore marijuana delivery once it's legal at the federal level; he said Uber would focus on delivering food and alcohol for now; CA, NV, and OR currently allow unrestricted marijuana delivery for customers aged 21 and older . link

President Biden spoke at the CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience today, saying he had bipartisan support to fund semiconductor manufacturing and research; an administration official said Biden would press for $50B . link

Salesforce to reopen its headquarters in downtown San Francisco in May for vaccinated employees who volunteer for in-person work; the company will allow all workers to work from home through the end of the year; those who choose to resume office work must undergo regular COVID-19 testing . link

Hack the Box, which creates simulated environments for hacking challenges, raises $10.6M Series A led by Paladin Capital Group; the firm offers subscription access (B2C and B2B) to various gamified challenges intended to help train cybersecurity professionals and would-be professionals . link

Intel is in talks to manufacture chips for automakers, beginning in six to nine months; CEO Pat Gelsinger said Intel had spoken with chip designers serving the auto industry about producing those chips within Intel's factory network; intel said last month it would build additional factories in the US and Europe to counter Asian dominance in the market . link

Intel-owned Mobileye, which develops chips for computer vision-based autonomous vehicles, announces plans to launch a fully autonomous delivery service operated by Udelv; the companies expect to launch commercially in 2023 and ultimately produce 35k cabin-free self-driving vehicles . link

Insurance marketplace The Zebra raises $150M Series D at a $1B-plus valuation from Accel and others; currently supports home and auto insurance, and plans to add life, pet, and rental insurance options; raised ~$252M to date . link

Ant Group to become a financial holding company, enabling regulators to scrutinize the firm like a bank; several agencies and regulators dictated the changes to Ant executives, Bloomberg reports; regulators have prohibited Ant from tying its payments service to other financial products, limiting a key growth strategy . link

Microsoft ($1.94T market cap) acquires conversational AI and clinical intelligence firm Nuance Communications ($15B market cap) for $19.7B in cash, debt included; the price reflects a 23-percent premium on Nuance's closing price on Friday; Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin will continue to lead the business; the companies expect the deal to close this calendar year . link

The download for 2021-04-12 →

Healthtech firm Memic raises $96M Series D led by Peregrine Ventures and Ceros with participation from OurCrowd and Accelmed; the company has developed a surgeon-controlled robotic device for use in medical procedures; has raised $127.8M to date . link

Huawei says it will invest more than $1B this year in EVs and autonomous vehicle research; rotating Chairman Eric Xu notes the company will initially partner with three carmakers to produce self-driving cars that carry Huawei sub-branding; Xu claims Huawei’s driverless tech is already capable of covering more than 600 miles without human intervention . link

More than 100 companies have canceled plans to list on Shanghai’s STAR Market since November, reports Reuters; sources for the report say prospective firms are facing more stringent regulatory checks . link

GM-controlled Cruise signs a deal to establish a robotaxi service in Dubai from 2023; terms of the arrangement undisclosed; it will make use of Cruise Origin, a steering wheel-free autonomous vehicle . link

Apple plans to announce new iPad Pro models as soon as this month, according to Bloomberg sources; the 12.9-inch version will feature a MiniLED display, though supply could be limited due to low production yields . link

UK-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace announces plans for a London IPO; Darktrace says it will make at least 20 percent of its shares publicly available; the company has not disclosed how much it plans to raise or a target valuation . link

Facebook spent more than $23M on security for Mark Zuckerberg last year, according to an SEC filing; compares with $10.4M the year before; the company notes costs for protecting Zuckerberg and his family increased because of COVID-19 travel protocols, higher risks associated to the US election, and more . link

Alibaba says it will make it easier for third-party merchants to sell on its platforms; the company will also reduce associated business costs; follows a $2.8B fine against the firm from the Chinese government .Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang says the company does not anticipate any material impact from the penalty; Alibaba’s share price has climbed as much as 9 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange . link

Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison denies a Cybernews report that data for 1.4M users has leaked; Davison says the article is misleading, referring to it as “clickbait” . link

Formation, a remote fellowship program for software engineers, raises $4M seed led by A16Z; the program combines automated instruction with mentorship from engineers at companies like Facebook and Google; the startup has operated in beta for a year and is now launching its Engineering Fellowship program, which includes a personalized training track . link

Mobile game developer Tripledot Studios raises $78M Series A from Lightspeed and others; the firm, which produces card games, word games, and more, claims 11M active users, up from 6M six months ago; raised $86M to date . link

Canadian satellite operator Telesat plans to launch the first batch of 298 LEO satellites for a global internet service in early 2023; founded in 1969, the company has 15 geostationary satellites in operation, serving ISPs, TV broadcasters, government networks, and others; Telesat expects to spend $5B to complete the Lightspeed broadband constellation . link

Microsoft ($1.93T market cap) is in advanced talks to acquire conversational AI firm Nuance Communications ($13B market cap) in a deal worth ~$16B, according to Bloomberg sources; Nuance's tech laid the groundwork for Apple's Siri; the deal would be Microsoft's second-largest acquisition to date behind its $24B purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 . link

Google to shut down the Shopping app for iOS and Android at the end of June; will end support in coming weeks; the company will continue to offer the Shopping tab on its homepage . link

LG Chem and SK Innovation reveal terms of settlement for trade secrets dispute; SK Innovation will pay LG Chem subsidiary LG Energy Solution $1.8B this year, $1.8B next year, and royalties for at least six years; the dispute threatened SK Innovation's $2.6B in-construction facility in GA, as well as Ford and Volkswagen's EV roadmaps . link

NASA delays Ingenuity helicopter test flight on Mars; the agency conducted a test spin of the craft's rotor on Friday and encountered some unexpected data; NASA said the craft was in good health but pushed the flight from Sunday until Wednesday, at the earliest . link

Clubhouse launches Payments; all users can now send payments, and the company is rolling out the ability to receive payments in waves; Clubhouse will not take a cut . link

Clubhouse database containing 1.3M user records leaked on hacker forum; Clubhouse said the data was publicly available via the firm's API; the data includes names, usernames, social media profiles, more . link

The download for 2021-04-11 →

Google ran a secret operation called Project Bernanke that used bid data from the company's digital advertising exchange to give its ad-buying system an advantage in auctions, according to documents in the TX-led antitrust suit against the firm; someone erroneously uploaded unredacted versions of the filing; a judge allowed Google to refile under seal . link

Twitch set a new viewership record last month with 2B hours viewed, up 105 percent year-over-year; by comparison, Facebook Gaming claimed ~400M hours . link

Non-bank lenders including Golub Capital and Owl Rock have issued asset-backed bonds to finance unprofitable software companies and have facilitated ~$2B in loans since November, The Wall Street Journal reports; investment bank MUFG Securities Americas has arranged the deals . link

South Korea-based battery companies LG Chem and SK Innovation agree to settle a trade secrets dispute, according to Reuters sources; LG Chem accused SK Innovation of misappropriating EV battery secrets, and the International Trade Commission significantly restricted SK Innovation's imports; SK Innovation threatened to abandon its $2.6B GA facility, currently under construction . link

The Wall Street Journal examines how Apple's iOS update, which enables consumers to prevent apps from tracking their behaviors, will impact SMBs and the advertising agencies that serve them; the Journal notes that because advertisers won't have as much consumer data, their targeting and efficacy measurements won't be as accurate, and their campaigns could be less efficient . link

Privacy-focused browser DuckDuckGo updates its Chrome extension to block Google's coming FLoC tech (Google hasn't yet approved the update); Google developed FLoC to enable ad- and content-targeting in Chrome without the use of third-party cookies; FLoC categorizes users according to browsing history and demographic data . link

The FBI arrests a 28-year-old TX man for allegedly planning to blow up an Amazon AWS data center in VA; the Justice Department said it received a tip that Seth Aaron Pendley had hinted at his plans in an online militia forum; an FBI informant connected Pendley with an undercover agent as part of a sting operation cloaked as a deal for explosives . link

China fines Alibaba $2.8B for antitrust violations related to the platform restricting marketplace sellers from selling on competing platforms; following an investigation, China's antitrust regulator determined that the practice had harmed competition, innovation, and consumer interests . link

US venture funding hit $64B in the first quarter, according to Ernst & Young analysis; the new quarterly record was equal to 43 percent of all US VC funding during 2020; 183 of the first-quarter venture deals were $100M-plus . link

Ed-tech company Byju's raises ~$1B at a $15B valuation from Silver Lake, B Capital Group, and others, according to a Bloomberg source; the company reportedly is in talks to increase the round by $200M to $300M before closing; the firm is preparing to expand into the US, UK, and other international markets . link

The download for 2021-04-10 →

Apple refuses to testify at Senate hearing about app stores and digital competition, leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee demand the company provide a witness; Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote to Tim Cook and criticized the company's reversal after it communicated with subcommittee staff about who should testify . link

CrowdAI, a no-code solution for creating custom computer vision models, raises $6.25M Series A led by Threshold Ventures; Founder Devaki Raj provided an example use case: a natural gas utility could develop a model for analyzing thermal video of gas lines for signs of leaks; the firm served the US Air Force, prototyping a system to glean combat insights from satellite imagery . link

Australian court stays Apple-Epic case for three months as the companies battle in the US; Apple requested a permanent stay for the Australian case in March, arguing it was similar to the US case and that Epic previously agreed to litigate in CA; Epic responded that Australian courts could provide relief not available in CA and that Apple's anticompetitive behavior essentially nullified the venue agreement . link

Didi Chuxing is raising $1.5B in debt ahead of a planned US IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; the firm reportedly seeks a $100B-plus valuation for its debut; Bloomberg reports Didi aims to strengthen its presence in autonomous driving and other sectors before the float . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Giggster Co-Founder Hank Leber about the origins of their marketplace for film production locations, typical rates and uses, influencer content houses, the company's funding story, the risk of holding inventory as a tech platform, more . link

Community, which enables brands, celebrities, and others to communicate with consumers via text message, raises $40M from Salesforce Ventures; clients can target groups of people and communicate one-on-one with users who have signed their phone numbers up with Community; claims 3B messages since its 2019 launch and 26M signed-up consumers . link

Shorthand, which offers a no-code publishing platform, raises ~$8M from Fortitude Investment Partners; enables clients to create responsive pages with scrolling effects, custom fonts, etc; customers include the BBC, Business Insider, and the UK Parliament . link

Workers at Amazon's Bessemer, AL facility vote against unionization; ~71 percent of ballots cast opposed joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which hasn't yet declared a winner; the board has not yet calculated challenged ballots .Amazon says less than 16 percent of voters supported unionization; the company said it expected the union to claim Amazon won through intimidation; Amazon argued that workers heard more anti-unionization messaging than pro-unionization .Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum demands an investigation, says Amazon's behavior corrupted the election; he said Amazon instructed workers to vote against unionization if they wanted to keep their jobs; Appelbaum also said a rerun election was likely . link

Reddit is considering a voice chat feature, according to a Mashable source, who said moderators would operate the chats with Clubhouse-like functions; the company could limit the feature to power-up premium subscribers . link

Cleo Capital targets $20M for Fund II, according to a TechCrunch source, and has raised $6.7M to date; the pre-seed firm is investing ~$1M in exchange for 15-20 percent equity; its portfolio includes mmhmm and StyleSeat . link

Workers at Amazon's Bessemer, AL facility vote against unionization; ~71 percent of ballots cast opposed joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which hasn't yet declared a winner; the board has not yet calculated challenged ballots .Amazon says less than 16 percent of voters supported unionization; the company said it expected the union to claim Amazon won through intimidation; Amazon argued that workers heard more anti-unionization messaging than pro-unionization .Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum demands an investigation, says Amazon's behavior corrupted the election; he said Amazon instructed workers to vote against unionization if they wanted to keep their jobs; Appelbaum also said a rerun election was likely . link

Workers at Amazon's Bessemer, AL facility vote against unionization; ~71 percent of ballots cast opposed joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which hasn't yet declared a winner; the board has not yet calculated challenged ballots .Amazon says less than 16 percent of voters supported unionization; the company said it expected the union to claim Amazon won through intimidation; Amazon argued that workers heard more anti-unionization messaging than pro-unionization .Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum demands an investigation, says Amazon's behavior corrupted the election; he said Amazon instructed workers to vote against unionization if they wanted to keep their jobs; Appelbaum also said a rerun election was likely . link

The download for 2021-04-09 →

NY-based food-tech startup SnackMagic raises $15M Series A led by Craft Ventures with participation from Luxor Capital; SnackMagic offers customizable snack boxes, with global delivery offered on some of its products . link

SoftBank invests $500M in NY-based online mortgage company Better; sources for The Wall Street Journal say the backing values Better at ~$6B; the firm reportedly plans to go public later this year . link

Subtitle translation firm Iyuno-SDI raises $160M from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2; the fund will also take a seat on the board; Iyuno-SDI offers cloud-based media localization tools across 34 countries . link

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says Facebook has removed 16k accounts for trading in fake reviews; the agency notes it intervened after finding numerous misleading reviews on Facebook and Instagram; the CMA also says Facebook has made changes to better detect such content . link

Robinhood claims 9.5M people used its platform to trade crypto assets in Q1 2021; the figure is up from 1.7M in Q4 2020, a difference of 458 percent; Decrypt posits the rise in activity could be linked to the overall popularity of crypto trading, coupled with added attention on Robinhood following a series of stock surges earlier this year . link

Alyce, a Boston-based corporate gifting firm, raises $30M Series B led by General Catalyst with participation from Boston Seed Capital and others; Alyce recommends products from its marketplace based on a recipients tastes; has raised $46.8M to date . link

Verizon recalls 2.5M Ellipsis Jetpack hotspot devices due to fire risks; the Consumer Product Safety Commission has identified 15 instances of dangerous overheating, six of which resulted in property damage, and two of minor burns; Verizon says ~1.3M units are currently in use . link

Comet, a New York City-based machine learning operations startup, raises $13M Series A led by Scale Venture Partners with participation from Trilogy Equity Partners and Two Sigma Ventures; Comet offers cloud-based tools that let researchers and engineers track and compare ML experiments and models; has raised more than $19M to date . link

Italy’s privacy watchdog launches an investigation after 500M LinkedIn user records were offered for sale; the regulator warns anyone that uses the data could face legal consequences . link

Cloud storage platform Box raises $500M from KKR; KKR’s John Park joins the board; Box will use the investment to buy back shares from some of its investors . link

Amazon has contested hundreds of votes in the union election for its warehouse in Bessemer, AL, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; The New York Times reported that anti-unionization votes were leading as the National Labor Relations Board continued to tally results; the union said of the 5.8k employees eligible to vote, 3.2k submitted ballots . link

Realworld, which writes playbooks to help recent grads transition into the workforce and adult life, raises $3.4M seed led by Fitz Gate Ventures; the firm is preparing to launch an app and plans a marketplace for relevant services; also plans to grow a community where young users can seek guidance; raised $4.5M to date . link

Phenom, which provides a recruiting and HR platform, raises $100M Series D at a $1.3B valuation led by B Capital Group; the recruitment software provides tools for companies and jobseekers, and uses AI for personalization and automation; raised $160M to date . link

Amazon says its Indian operations have created 1M local jobs since the company entered the market ~a decade ago; the firm said it had enabled the export of $3B worth of Indian goods over ten years, $1B since January of last year; the company claims 50k offline Indian retailers and stores have joined the platform . link

Ramp, which provides a corporate card and spend management tools, raises $115M in two tranches: a $65M raise at a $1.1B valuation led by D1 Capital Partners and a $50M raise at a $1.6B valuation led by Stripe; the company also disclosed that its annual transaction rate is nearing $1B; raised $320M to date . link

Atari establishes divisions Atari Gaming and Atari Blockchain; former Atari CEO Fred Chesnais will serve as CEO of Blockchain, and former acting chair Wade Rosen will lead Gaming; Blockchain is developing the Atari Token, blockchain-based games, more . link

OneTrust, which helps companies to manage privacy, security, and data compliance, raises $210M Series C (extension) led by SoftBank’s second Vision Fund; serves 8k organizations, including Aetna, Oracle, and Salesforce; raised $920M to date . link

The Department of Commerce places seven Chinese supercomputing organizations on the export blacklist, citing national security risks; the administration accused the companies of serving China's military, potentially for programs to build weapons of mass destruction . link

Mercato, an ordering platform serving small grocers and specialty food shops, raises $26M Series A led by Velvet Sea Ventures; enables grocers to make their inventory available for online purchase for pickup or delivery; Founder Bobby Brannigan previously sold Valore Books to SimpleTuition . link

Indoor farming company AppHarvest acquires agricultural robotics company Root AI for ~$60M in cash and stock; AppHarvest noted it could improve yields through robot-collected data; Root AI previously raised $9.5M . link

General Motors announces it will slow or halt production for one to two weeks at three more North American factories due to the chip shortage; the company will extend shutdowns at some previously impacted facilities; GM plans to resume production at its midsize pickup factory in MS on April 12 . link

Apple delays some component orders due to the global chip and display component shortage, according to Nikkei sources; shortages reportedly have impacted the production of some MacBooks and iPads; sources indicated the company was tight on iPhone components . link

Crypto financial services company NYDIG raises $100M from Starr Insurance, Liberty Mutual, others; the firm disclosed a $200M round in March; NYDIG, which spun out of alternative asset manager Stone Ridge in 2017, develops custody and investment products for institutional investors; raised $405M to date . link

Crypto exchange Kraken is considering a 2022 direct listing following a record quarter driven by Bitcoin performance; Co-Founder and CEO Jesse Powell said the company had surpassed 2020 numbers (details undisclosed) by the end of February of this year; the firm is in talks to raise a round, reportedly at a $10B-$20B valuation; raised ~$118M to date . link

Cybercriminals scrape LinkedIn to collect personal data from 500M accounts, offer the cache for sale; the perpetrators posted 2M records as proof; LinkedIn confirmed that publicly accessible information from LinkedIn was included in the data, but said it appeared to be aggregated with data from other sources . link

The download for 2021-04-08 →

CA-based food-tech firm Beyond Meat establishes a production plant in China; located in Jiaxing, which is close to Shanghai, it represents Beyond Meat’s first end-to-end facility outside the US; CEO Ethan Brown says the company views China as a market for long-term growth . link

Facebook begins testing labels on posts from Pages in the US; includes labeling such as “fan page,” “satire page,” and “public official”; the company says it wants to help users better understand who is behind the content . link

India-based messaging platform Gupshup raises $100M on a $1.4B valuation led by Tiger Global; more backers are expected to join the round at a later date; Gupshup, which has experimented with various chat products since it launched in 2004, last raised money a decade ago . link

Data labeling startup Snorkel AI raises $35M Series B led by Lightspeed Venture Partners; the firm offers tools for managing machine learning training data; has raised $50M to date . link

India-based edtech firm Byju’s announces plans to expand internationally; starting next month, Byju’s will offer online educational services the US, UK, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia; the expansion is being led by Karan Bajaj, founder of developer training platform WhiteHat Jr, which Byju’s acquired last year . link

India-based social platform ShareChat raises $502M on a ~$2.1B valuation led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tiger Global with participation from Snap, Twitter, and others; ShareChat has 160M users in the country, and its TikTok-like app Moj claims 120M . link

UK-based fintech firm TrueLayer raises $70M Series D led by Addition with participation from Anthemis Group, Connect Ventures, and others; the company offers a platform for building financial services apps; has raised $142M to date . link

Naspers-owned Prosus sells 2 percent of its stake in Tencent, raising $14.6B; Prosus still owns 28.9 percent of the firm and remains its largest shareholder; South Africa-based Naspers purchased a one-third stake in Tencent for $34M in 2001 . link

Cardiology tech company Riva Health emerges with $15.5M seed led by Menlo Ventures; founded by Siri Co-Founder Dag Kittlaus and Vital Labs Founder Tuhin Sinha, the firm developed a clinically approved software solution for measuring blood pressure via smartphone . link

Village Capital and the Black Innovation Alliance announce Resource: an organization that plans to assist entrepreneur support organizations focused on underrepresented founders; will provide accelerators with training and community networking; the Resource ESO Accelerator will train ecosystem leaders and provide milestone-based funding . link

NY-based Nuvocargo, which digitizes various processes for cross-border trade, raises $12M Series A led by QED Investors; also offers cargo insurance, customs brokerage services, trade financing, more; raised $17.3M to date . link

President Biden says Senate leaders are preparing to introduce legislation to address the global semiconductor shortage; details undisclosed; Biden's $2T American Jobs Plan reserves $50B for domestic semiconductor production . link

Facebook's New Product Experimentation team launches Hotline: a crowd Q&A platform that allows users to vote on which questions a host should answer; hosts can bring viewers into the conversation, play videos, more; hosts can record sessions for rebroadcasting . link

Twitter ($55B market cap) held talks to acquire Clubhouse for ~$4B in recent months, according to Bloomberg sources, but the companies are no longer in discussion; the failed negotiations reportedly inspired Clubhouse to consider raising a round at the same valuation, and Bloomberg reported this week Clubhouse was doing so . link

Apple to begin enforcing its new privacy notification policy with the launch of iOS 14.5 in coming weeks; will require third-party apps to get explicit permission from users before accessing data about the use of other apps and sites; Facebook and others have said the change would impact ad sales and targeting; Apple is offering alternative advertising tools . link

UPS to buy 10 eVTOL craft from Beta Technologies; UPS' Flight Forward division, which is also exploring the use of drones, will test the vehicles for the company's Express Air delivery network; UPS noted the potential for deliveries to rural hospitals . link

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple sets IPO price range at $35-$39 per share for a mid-range raise of ~$1.3B; the firm is working with Navistar International to develop self-driving trucks slated to begin production in 2024; the company is also working with UPS and Berkshire Hathaway's McLane to lunch a freight network the same year . link

Uber and Lyft offer driver incentives to get more vehicles on the road as demand begins to recover from the pandemic; Uber announced a $250M driver stimulus program to boost driver earnings and to bring back drivers who stopped contracting due to low and irregular demand; Lyft has been offering bonuses of up to $800 for returning drivers, covering the costs of rental vehicles, more . link

AppLovin sets IPO price range at $75-$85, targeting a ~$2B raise and a ~$30B valuation; the firm provides developer tools for monetizing and growing apps, more; AppLovin generated $1.45B in revenue last year but lost $126M (compared to a $119M profit in 2019); PE firm KKR holds 69 percent of pre-IPO voting power . link

Snap ($91B market cap) acquired the Screenshop app from Craze last fall to power a new shopping recommendation feature in Snapchat, according to sources for The Information; the app identifies products in images and recommends similar items; Snap reportedly plans to announce an e-commerce initiative in May . link

Google announces I/O 2021 for May 18–20; the company canceled the 2020 event due to the pandemic and this year's will be virtual; at I/O 2019, the company unveiled the Pixel 3A and the Nest Hub Max smart display . link

T-Mobile launches 5G home internet service with no data caps, equipment rental fees, or annual contracts; now available to 30M US households, 10M in rural areas; the self-install service runs $65 per month or $60 with autopay . link

Apple updates the Find My app to support third-party products; the firm recently launched a testing app for developing such devices; the first products to take advantage of the integration are Belkin's Soundform earbuds and the Chipolo One Spot item tracker, both of which launch next week . link

The download for 2021-04-07 →

Nokia and Lenovo say they are settling a patent dispute that has continued for multiple years; full terms undisclosed, but the two companies will cross-license their IP . link

Germany-based no-code development platform Bryter raises $66M led by Tiger Global with participation from Accel, Dawn Capital, and others; the startup will use the investment to expand to the US; has raised ~$90M to date . link

Samy Bengio, an AI research manager at Google, is leaving after ~14 years at the company; reasons for the departure unclear, but Bengio has previously voiced support for Timnit Gebru, an ethical AI researcher who the firm reportedly fired; Google has since moved oversight of its AI ethics team away from Bengio to VP Marian Croak . link

Fintech firm Plaid raises $425M Series D led by Altimeter Capital; TechCrunch sources say the investment values Plaid at ~$13.4B; Visa canceled its $5.3B takeover of Plaid following a legal challenge by the Department of Justice . link

Huawei is shutting down its AI and cloud business group division after just 14 months of operation, reports Caixin; an internal memo shows Huawei’s cloud storage operations will be moved over to its internet products and solutions unit; an unnamed Huawei employee suggests the company’s cloud strategy has struggled because it was late to the market . link

Gazelle reinstates its device trade-in program two months after it was shut down; the company says it reconsidered the move following after receiving feedback from users; Gazelle notes it will not be bringing back its rewards scheme . link

Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of India-based hotel platform Oyo, denies the company has filed for bankruptcy; follows the circulation of a legal document on social media, seemingly showing Oyo is seeking bankruptcy protection; Agarwal confirms the SoftBank-backed company is in dispute with a supplier, but that some information surrounding the case is untrue . link

Jeff Bezos backs the White House's goal of investing in US infrastructure; Bezos also says he’s supportive of the Biden administration's plans to raise corporate taxes; President Biden recently cited Amazon as an example of a US company that uses loopholes to avoid paying taxes . link

UK-based PE firm CVC Capital Partners makes a $20B bid to take Toshiba private, reports Nikkei Asia; CVC could work with other investors on the tender offer; Nobuaki Kurumatani, CEO and President of Toshiba, says the company will consider the proposal .Bloomberg notes the CVC offer comes weeks after Kurumatani lost a board vote over an investigation into alleged discrepancies at the company’s annual shareholder meeting last year; the probe was initiated by activist investor Effissimo Capital Management; analysts suggest Effissimo could push for a premium in the take-private deal . link

China-based VC firm Source Code Capital raises $1B for its latest fund; targets growth-stage companies; Source Code, which has previously backed ByteDance and Meituan, now has $2.5B under management . link

Electric moped firm NIU unveils its first battery-powered scooter, starting at $600; NIU Kick Scooter comes in two variants - Pro, offering speeds of up to 19.8 Mph, and Sport, which tops out at 17.4 Mph; launches in North America, China, and Europe this summer (exact date undisclosed) . link

Samsung (~512.5B market cap) publishes preliminary Q1 results: ~$58.1B revenue, up 17 percent year on year; ~$8.3B profit, up 44 percent year-on-year . link

Hackers gained access to 533M Facebook records by exploiting a flaw in its contacts import tools, reports Wired; based on Facebook’s previous comments, the report posits the dumped data set is likely the result of at least two separate hacks .The Irish Data Protection Commission, the de facto regulator for Europe, says it will investigate the breach; the agency notes the data-scraping activities occurred before the EU’s GDPR disclosure rules went into effect . link

Creator support platform Patreon raises $155M Series F on a $4B valuation led by Tiger Global Management with participation from Woodline Partners, Wellington Management, and others; the firm was valued at $1.2B when it raised $90M last September; has raised ~$413M to date . link

Encrypted messaging app Signal begins testing crypto-based mobile payments in the UK; makes use of MobileCoin and companion digital currency MOB; Signal notes MobileCoin’s design makes it impossible for the company to view users’ wallets . link

Rapid Robotics which offers automated manufacturing robots designed for rapid setup, raises $12M Series A led by NEA; the system supports injection molding, ultrasonic welding, parts inspection, more; raised $17.5M to date . link

New York City-based Real, which operates a mental telehealth platform, raises $10M led by Lightspeed Venture Partners; in addition to on-demand therapy for groups and individuals, the company offers goal pathways, progress tracking, more . link

Graphic design and publishing platform Canva raises $71M at a $15B valuation, up from $6B in June 2020; the profitable firm now claims 55M monthly active users and a 130-percent year-over-year jump in revenue . link

Coinbase reports first-quarter profits of $730M-$800M on $1.8B in revenue; Decrypt notes the report will likely drive the firm's share price ahead of an April 14 direct listing on the Nasdaq; the company also reported 6.1M monthly active users . link

Mem, which develops a note-taking app and plans to explore machine learning and AR in that context, emerges with $5.6M seed led by A16Z; the startup hopes to connect the platform across desktop, mobile, and AR visuals; currently the app relies on tagging, search, and chronological sorting to simplify navigation . link

Enterprise software company OneStream raises $200M Series B at a $6B valuation led by D1 Capital Partners; the firm provides tools and services for managing financial operations; covers planning, reporting, analysis, more . link

Clubhouse is in talks to raise funding at a $4B valuation, according to Bloomberg sources; the audio-centric social network raised at a $1B valuation in January; the startup likely inspired Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Slack to pursue similar features . link

This Week in Startups AustraliaJason appears on S9 E1 of the Australian version of This Week in Startups, hosted by Mark Pesce; they discuss the impact of the pandemic and remote work on startups, the attributes a startup needs to succeed, the importance of design and UX, predictions for the next decade, more . link

The Wall Street Journal details how China's digital yuan will give Beijing control over an international currency separate from the global financial system (potentially weakening US sanctions), the power to track spending, and more; the Journal also notes the currency would provide affordable transfers for underdeveloped nations . link

NJ Gov Phil Murphy (D) announces a proposal for The Black and Latinx Seed Fund, a $10M state fund administered by the New Economic Development Authority (NJEDA); NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said NJ was the first state to develop such a fund, and it was directed at addressing the racial wealth gap . link

Apple launches a testing app for third-party products designed to work with Apple's Find My app; Apple said last year it would open the Find My network to third parties after regulators expressed concern about competition for Apple's coming item location product, AirTags; Apple has limited the Find My Certification Asst app to MFi (Made for iPhone) licensees . link

SendBird, a communications platform for websites and apps, raises $100M Series C at a $1.05B valuation led by Steadfast Financial; provides APIs for integrating messaging, chat, video calling, more; raised $221M to date . link

The download for 2021-04-06 →

Talos, a NY-based crypto trading API provider, names Justin Schmidt as head of strategy; Schmidt previously served as head of digital asset markets for Goldman Sachs; Schmidt says he wants to help the company expand into international markets . link

TikTok adds an automatically generated captions feature; includes support for American English and Japanese at launch; creators can edit captions after they’ve been produced . link

Israel-based bereavement services startup Empathy emerges from stealth, raises $13M led by General Catalyst and Aleph; offers online guidance to those who've recently experienced a death; includes information on making funeral arrangements, handling wills, and more . link

Google rolls out a software update for Pixel devices; includes performance optimizations for Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, with some users reporting GPU performance improvements; the update also features connectivity, camera, and stability enhancements for all supported Pixel smartphones . link

Podcast creation service Casted raises $7M Series A led by Revolution Ventures with participation from High Alpha Capital, Elevate Ventures, and Tappan Hill Ventures; Casted offers SaaS tools aimed at B2B marketers; has raised $9.3M to date . link

Singapore-based NFT platform Mintable raises an undisclosed seed from Sound Ventures, Time Ventures, and CRC Capital; Mintable lets creators generate NFTs for their digital works . link

The latest tvOS 14.5 beta includes references to a refresh rate of 120Hz, reports 9to5Mac; the most recent Apple TV device, launched in 2017, only has hardware support of up to 60Hz; follows reports Apple will launch a new model later this year . link

SoftBank invests $2.8B for a 40 percent stake in Norway-based warehouse automation firm AutoStore; AutoStore, founded in 1996, has to date deployed 20k logistics robots to 35 countries; customers include Best Buy and Puma . link

VC firm Play Ventures raises $135M for its second fund; targets startups working in the games industry; previous investments include Indian company All-Star Games and Danish firm Brightstar . link

VC firm KKR closes its Asia Fund IV at $15B; targets startups across Asia with a broad focus on companies working on consumption and urbanization trends; KKR currently manages assets worth $30B across the region . link

Document management firm M-Files acquires UK-based workspace collaboration platform Hubshare; terms undisclosed; M-Files will continue to operate Hubshare as a standalone unit . link

Stripe opens an office in Dubai, its first in the Middle East; it will work with regional payments firm Network International to expand its operations in the UAE . link

Google quietly acquired 3D audio firm Dysonics in December, reports Protocol; terms unknown, but Google has taken control of the firm’s IP and patents for tracking binaural sound; some Dysonics employees have joined Google over recent months .Robert Dalton Jr, a Dysonics co-founder, has updated his Linkedin profile to show he’s working on audio hardware at Google; former Dysonics software engineer Akshay Cadambi notes he’s now part of a Google team developing audio algorithms; Engadget speculates they could be working on next-gen smart speakers, mixed reality headsets, and more . link

Social audio platform Clubhouse introduces a monetization feature, allowing users to send payments to creators; powered by Stripe, Clubhouse Payments passes along 100 percent of the money to the intended creator and takes nothing itself from the transaction . link

SoftBank acquires a 40-percent stake in warehouse automation company AutoStore for $2.8B; the firm, which claims 20k robots operating at 600 installations across 35 countries, provides software for optimizing robots' movements and tasks, more; SoftBank is acquiring the shares from PE firms Thomas H Lee Partners and EQT . link

Speaking of Apple's automotive ambitions, Tim Cook says autonomy is a core technology and autonomous vehicles are robots; Cook did not disclose new information about the company's plans or partnerships, but said magic happened at the intersections of hardware, software, and services; TechCrunch notes the possibility of Apple working with a manufacturing partner initially, but eventually taking over production .During the same interview with Kara Swisher, Cook agreed that AR was critical to his company's future and said the tech could enhance conversations with charts, etc; he noted potential in health care, education, and retail . link

Speaking of Apple's automotive ambitions, Tim Cook says autonomy is a core technology and autonomous vehicles are robots; Cook did not disclose new information about the company's plans or partnerships, but said magic happened at the intersections of hardware, software, and services; TechCrunch notes the possibility of Apple working with a manufacturing partner initially, but eventually taking over production .During the same interview with Kara Swisher, Cook agreed that AR was critical to his company's future and said the tech could enhance conversations with charts, etc; he noted potential in health care, education, and retail . link

The total cryptocurrency market cap passes $2T for the first time, according to CoinGecko and Blockfolio; Bitcoin, which has risen ~100 percent this year, led the surge, maintaining a ~$1T market cap for one week; Ethereum, up ~190 percent for the year, recently saw its market cap reach $244B . link

Forbes profiles the Winklevoss twins, covering Winklevoss Capital, the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, and Nifty Gateway - a platform for digital art auctions; Tyler predicts that centralized social networks will not exist in five or ten years . link

Consumers around the world collectively spent $22.2B on mobile games in the first quarter, up 25 percent year-over-year, according to Sensor Tower; the App Store represented $13B (up 21 percent year-over-year), and Google Play, $9.2B (up 31 percent); the top three earners were link

On-demand food delivery company Swiggy raises ~$800M at a reported $4.9B valuation from Goldman Sachs, Accel, others; last year, the firm cut jobs and scaled back its cloud kitchens initiative to weather the pandemic; raised $2.2B to date . link

Knotel Co-Founder Amol Sarva announces departure, says real estate brokerage and investor Newmark used bankruptcy to take control of the firm; Newmark acquired Knotel assets as part of the flexible workspace company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy; Sarva said Newmark had undermined Knotel's relationships with customers and partners . link

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas likens social platforms to common carriers such as phone companies, suggests they be regulated like utilities with significant restrictions on their powers to moderate user content; Thomas wrote the opinion in the Supreme Court's vacation of a lower ruling that Donald Trump's blocking of people on Twitter was unconstitutional . link

Yahoo to shut down Q&A platform Yahoo Answers on May 4; the platform, which launched in 2005, will stop accepting new submissions on April 20; users can download their data until June 30, after which Yahoo apparently will not maintain archives . link

President Biden extends the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program from March 31 to May 31; so far, the Small Business Administration has approved 8.3M applications representing $718B in loans; $79B remains available . link

Home fitness company Tempo is raising $100M-plus led by SoftBank, according to sources for The Information, one of which said the valuation was less than $1B; the company provides an AI-powered hardware system with sensors and display; users exercise along with videos of coaches and the system counts repetitions, analyzes form, more . link

Google begins accepting Play Store submissions for Android Auto apps focused on navigation, parking, and charging; Google previously limited Android Auto submissions to messaging and media categories . link

Alphabet ($1.5T market cap), Facebook ($876B market cap), and Microsoft ($1.88T market cap) each saw their shares trade at an all-time high on Monday; Alphabet and Facebook each surged ~four percent, and Microsoft ~three; the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new high of 400 . link

The Supreme Court rules 6-2 in Google's favor in long-running copyright dispute with Oracle, overturning lower decisions; Oracle had argued that Google's use of Sun Microsystems' Java code in Android constituted a copyright violation, and at one point sought $9B; Google maintained that the implementation fell under fair use . link

The download for 2021-04-05 →

Activist investor Carl Icahn names Aris Kekedjian as CEO and COO of Icahn Enterprises; Kekedjian, a former executive at GE, is replacing Keith Cozza; Icahn Enterprises CFO SungHwan Cho is also leaving the firm . link

A study by the Financial Times shows 76 companies last month suspended plans to list on China’s Star Market; the report notes canceled listing have increased exponentially since Chinese regulators scuppered Ant Group’s $34B IPO in November; Shanghai-based Star Market was established in 2019, positioned as a regional rival to the Nasdaq . link

Fintech firm Alkami Technology plans to raise as much as ~$2.1B via its upcoming IPO; the TX-based company has set a guide price of $22 to $25 per share; Alkami provides cloud-based tools that underpin digital offerings from numerous financial institutions . link

GameStop says it's considering listing up to $1B worth of additional shares; following the news, the company's stock price dropped more than 15 percent in early trading . link

ByteDance says efforts by the Indian government to freeze its regional bank accounts amounts to harassment; Indian tax authorities have ordered HSBC and Citibank to block ByteDance from accessing some of its funds, a move the company claims is illegal; Reuters sources say ByteDance has since been unable to pay its 1.3k staff in the country . link

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor says it will continue to slow regional access to Twitter through May 15; the watchdog began suppressing Twitter’s traffic last month, claiming the platform was not doing enough to tackle banned content; Roskomnadzor notes Twitter is now removing such posts at a quicker pace . link

Biotech firm Invitae plans to raise $1.2B from SoftBank and others, reports The Wall Street Journal; the investment will be in the form of convertible debt; Invitae, which offers health-centric genetic testing, has raised ~$195M to date . link

India-based edtech firm Byju’s acquires coaching center firm Aakash Educational; TechCrunch sources say Byju’s is paying almost $1B (cash and stock); Aakash operates more than 200 tutoring locations across India . link

Japan’s central bank begins exploring the viability of a national digital currency; the initial phase of testing will focus on whether such a stablecoin would be feasible; experiments will run through March 2022, when Bank of Japan will look at more complex aspects of such an offering . link

Google is set to establish a data center in Israel, according to local publication Haaretz; Google is currently negotiating with Israeli server farm companies over future partnerships; the facility will make use of an undersea cable that Google and Telecom Italia plan to deploy . link

LG confirms it will stop producing smartphones; the company will continue to offer support for existing models; LG says the move will allow it to focus on growth areas such as parts for EVs, smart home products, and more .South China Morning Post notes LG’s smartphone business has lost $4.5B over a period of almost six years; LG was the world’s third-largest smartphone company in 2013, behind Samsung and Apple . link

The Guardian details how the pandemic facilitated Palantir's expansion into health and policing across Europe; a document released by Germany’s health ministry revealed that Palantir had directed its focus on Europe; Greece, which says it has since ended its relationship with Palantir, entered an agreement with the company without performing the legally required data impact assessment . link

Protocol explores the experiences of Asian Americans in the tech industry, interviewing those who have suffered apparent promotion discrimination, stereotypes, harassment, and the feeling that their voices aren't heard; some noted that diversity and inclusion initiatives often ignore Asians . link

Uber to pay blind rider $1.1M after drivers refused to accommodate her and her guide dog on 14 occasions; the issue was handled through arbitration; a 2014 lawsuit accused the company of discriminating against riders with guide dogs; Uber settled in 2016 and agreed to change policy, but the plaintiff in the recent case was left without rides after the settlement . link