The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2021-04-12, fan podcast based on @launchticker

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 2021-05-13 →


MN-based cybersecurity firm NetSPI raises $90M from KKR and Ten Eleven Ventures; the startup offers penetration testing services including simulated network attacks, social engineering scams, more; the company expects $50M in sales this year . link

SiMa.ai, which is developing edge computing hardware for machine learning, raises $80M Series B led by Fidelity Management & Research; the startup will use the funding to commercialize its first system-on-chip product and to fund development of its second-generation AI accelerator chipset . link

Los Angeles-based Hidden Leaf Games raises $3.2M led by Lightspeed Venture Partners; the startup, founded by veterans from Riot Games and PUBG, is developing a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title called Fangs, promising fast matchmaking and quick play; Steve Feak, who created the Warcraft III map that spawned the MOBA genre, leads the design team . link

Italy's antitrust watchdog fines Google $123M after the company restricted JuicePass, an app for finding EV charging stations and more, from launching on the Android Auto platform; Juice already has an app for the standard version of Android on Google Play . link

US podcast advertising revenue to reach $2B by the end of next year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau; a study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicated the market would grow as much over the next two years as it did over the previous 10; IAB expects US podcast advertising revenue to exceed $1B this year . link

A German court issued a preliminary injunction against Google in April, prohibiting the firm from selling products that use its cast tech; the order could impact the sale of smart speakers, media players, and phones in Germany; Sonos filed a patent suit against Google last year and the companies are battling in courts in multiple countries . link

SimilarWeb debuts on the NYSE at $22 per share after pricing at $19-$21; the Israeli firm raised $165M with the float and saw a $1.6B valuation, which could rise to $1.7B if underwriters exercise options; the company claims more than half of the Fortune 500 as clients . link

Microsoft to shut down its Azure Blockchain as a Service offering on Sept 10; as of May 10, the company no longer accepts new deployments; Microsoft suggests users migrate to ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Service; the product has claimed GE, JP Morgan, and Starbucks as customers . link

Snap suspends third-party apps Yolo and LMK following lawsuit; this week, a woman filed suit against the company and called on the platform to ban apps lacking adequate protections against cyberbullying; her child committed suicide last year, allegedly after receiving anonymous harassing messages through the apps . link

Facebook-backed cryptocurrency project Diem, previously known as Libra, withdraws application for Swiss regulatory approval, will instead operate out of Washington, DC; the Diem Association is working with crypto-friendly CA bank Silvergate Capital Corp to issue a stable coin . link

Elon Musk announces Tesla has stopped accepting Bitcoin for vehicle purchases and won't spend any more of its Bitcoin holdings, citing environmental concerns about the mining process; he said the company would reverse the policy if the process became more environmentally friendly, and that Tesla was looking at alternate cryptocurrencies . link

The download for 2021-05-12 →


Apptopia, which provides competitive intelligence in the mobile apps space, raises $20M Series C led by ABS Capital Partners; enables customers to track competitors' performance, benchmark their apps against the market, discover app usage trends, more; clients include A16Z, Google, and Microsoft . link

Amazon wins tax case appeal in the European Union’s second-highest court, the same court that annulled a 2016 ruling ordering Apple to pay Ireland $14.9B in back taxes; in 2017, the commission ruled that Amazon's European tax structure, which saw the company funnel EU revenue through a Luxembourg holding company, was illegal; the commission ordered Amazon to pay $300M . link

Cybersecurity company Snyk, which focuses on vulnerabilities in code, containers, and open-source libraries, acquires Stockholm-based FossID, which scans code bases for open-source license violations and vulnerabilities; terms undisclosed . link

Coinbase ($60B market cap) reaches the top position on the App Store chart for the first time since late 2017 when the crypto market spiked; the company hit the second position in April when it debuted on the Nasdaq . link

Continuous integration company CircleCI acquires Vamp, a cloud-based software release platform; terms undisclosed; CircleCI also announced a $100M raise at a $1.7B valuation; CircleCI integrates with various platforms to automate parts of the release cycle, and claims Facebook, GoPro, and Spotify as customers . link

The Department of Defense agrees to remove China's Xiaomi from a blacklist preventing US investment in the firm; Xiaomi sued to reverse the Trump-era order, which indicated the company was linked to China's military; Xiaomi and the US government are negotiating terms and will file a joint proposal by May 20 . link

Mythic, which produces AI chips with analog circuits, raises $70M Series C led by BlackRock and Hewlett Packard Pathfinder; Mythic plans to accelerate production ahead of a 2021 launch; the funding will also enable the firm to expand its software portfolio and develop its next-generation hardware . link

Subaru announces its first EV: the all-wheel-drive Solterra SUV, slated to launch next year; the company launched plugin hybrid Crosstrek in 2014, and that model remains the brand's top option for climate-conscious customers . link

NY-based Verbit, which uses AI for automated transcriptions and captioning, acquires CO-based captioning firm Vitac; Verbit said the deal would enable it to offer support for more languages, integrations with cloud video platforms, more; Vitac claims broadcasters, cable companies, government agencies, and educational institutions as customers . link

YouTube announces a $100M fund to support those creating content for short-form video platform Shorts; the company expects to launch the fund in coming months and to distribute money over the next year; the program does not require creators to be enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program . link

This Week in StartupsJason and Precursor Ventures Managing Partner Charles Hudson hear pitches from Founder University participants and provide candid feedback; among their insights and advice: start with numbers if they're strong, avoid vanity metrics, be clear about what stage the company is in, provide details about closing customers, and clarify pricing . link

TikTok is testing a job recruiting program in which applicants submit video resumes, Axios reports; companies reportedly can list open positions on a dedicated website, accessible through the TikTok app; a TikTok executive recently wrote on LinkedIn that the company decided to explore tools for job seekers after seeing young people use the platform to share career advice . link

MN-based Jamf, which creates enterprise tools for managing Apple devices, acquires London-based cloud security company Wandera for $400M; Jamf's platform supports device deployment, policy management, filtering, etc, and Wandera will add zero-trust network access for mobile workers; the companies expect the deal to close in the third quarter . link

New York-based Acquco, which acquires and scales Amazon marketplace businesses, raises $160M Series A (debt and equity) from CoVenture, Crossbeam, others; the firm offers flexible deal structures that let sellers continue to earn a cut of post-sale revenues . link

Online mortgage lender Better.com to go public via SPAC merger valuing the firm at $7.7B; investors last valued the company at $6B for a $500M round in April; CEO Vishal Garg said that Better's digital mortgage process reduces real estate closing times by ~half and helps to mitigate bias against minorities during the application process . link

The download for 2021-05-11 →


Twitch's non-electronic sports category, TwitchSports, claimed 11M hours viewed in April, according to Rainmaker; though the live-streaming platform has featured physical sports since 2017, its July launch of a dedicated section marked the beginning of rapid growth in the category; TwitchSports includes live sumo events in Japan, an Italian talk-radio show focused on soccer, more . link

Ford to detail the F-150 Lightning on May 19; the company plans to launch the electric pickup truck next spring; last year, Ford said the vehicle would feature dual electric motors and offer more horsepower and torque than current F-150s . link

The FBI formally accuses DarkSide, a hacking group likely originating in Eastern Europe, of the recent ransomware attack that forced the Colonial Pipeline to halt operations; following a weekend of emergency meetings at the White House, officials said they believed extortion was the sole motive; President Biden said the US would disrupt and prosecute the organization . link

China-based Full Truck Alliance, which connects shippers with fleet operators and drivers, could announce a US IPO as soon as this week, according to CNBC sources; the company, also known as Manbang, reportedly could raise ~$1.5B at a valuation of $20B to $30B; Bloomberg reported in February that the firm had filed confidentially . link

IronSource, an Israel-based mobile monetization platform that plans to list on the NYSE via SPAC merger, launches a game publishing and management platform for independent developers; the LiveGames platform, under IronSource's Supersonic Studios division, offers tools for running tournaments, viewing in-game metrics, more . link

South Korea's Kakao Entertainment to acquire CA-based online comics company Tapas for $500M; the platform features ~90k user-generated short stories, including comics and novels; Kakao CEO Jinsoo Lee said his firm would engage the North American market through IP acquisition, noting the company's strategy for growth in Asia would translate to English-speaking markets . link

Dozens of attorneys general urge Facebook to cancel its plans for a kids version of Instagram, citing the potential for cyberbullying, predators, mental health issues, and risks to users' emotional well-being; Facebook said kids were already online and that the company was working to improve the situation, noting Instagram Kids would prioritize safety and privacy . link

Harley-Davidson ($7.4B market cap) spins out electric motorcycle business LiveWire as a separate brand; Harley-Davidson unveiled the LiveWire bike in 2018 and launched it the following year, but reportedly faced challenges in selling the ~$30k motorcycle to younger riders; LiveWire will open dedicated showrooms, starting in CA . link

Life insurance firm Ethos raises $200M Series D at a $2B-plus valuation led by General Catalyst; the company's portal enables customers to apply for policies from third-party providers and says it doesn't require medical exams; Ethos is on track to reach $100M ARR this year . link

Kakao Entertainment to acquire New York City-based Radish, a mobile app featuring serialized fiction, for $440M; Radish Founder Seungyoon Lee will remain CEO of his company and will also serve as global strategy officer at Kakao; Radish produces original written stories and charges users small fees to unlock new chapters . link

Lidar startup Innovusion raises $64M Series B led by Temasek; the company produces sensor systems and a software development platform for autonomous vehicles; Co-Founder and CEO Junwei Bao previously led Baidu's autonomous driving compute system and sensor group . link

Roblox ($35B market cap) FQ1: $387M revenue, up 140 percent year-over-year; -$0.46 EPS; $652.3M in bookings, up 161 percent year-over-year; 42.1M daily active users, up 79 percent year-over-year; players collectively spent 9.7B hours on the platform, up 98 percent year-over-year; this was the company's first quarterly earnings report following its public debut in March . link

ServiceNow ($92B market cap) acquires app performance monitoring company LightStep; terms undisclosed; ServiceNow SVP Pablo Stern said the integration would enable clients to build and operate software more quickly; founded in 2015, Lightstep raised $70M and counts GitHub, Spotify, and Twilio as customers . link

Scooter-share company Bird plans to go public via SPAC merger, according to documents viewed by dot.LA; the deal with Dallas-based Switchback II Corporation, which is focused on reducing carbon emissions, reportedly values Bird at $2.3B; investors valued Bird at $2.85B in January for a Series D that brought the firm's total raise to $623M . link

The download for 2021-05-10 →


SpaceX to launch a satellite called DOGE-1 in the first quarter of 2022, and client Geometric Energy Corporation will pay in Dogecoin; Musk, an advocate of the cryptocurrency, tweeted in early April that SpaceX would take a Dogecoin to the moon, referencing the motto of enthusiasts and investors: link

Privacy-focused DeFi startup Sienna Network raises $11.2M, $10M via token sale; the company focuses on preventing front-running scams, in which perpetrators preempt transactions by paying higher transaction fees . link

Autonomous trucking company Plus to go public via SPAC merger; Plus will see ~$500M in gross proceeds and a ~$2.2B market cap; CEO David Liu said the deal would help the firm expand commercialization efforts as it boosts production to satisfy contracts in the US and China . link

Gorilla Glass maker Corning raises $45M from Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund, bringing Corning's total raised from Apple over the past four years to $495M; Apple said the money would enable Corning to expand its US manufacturing capacity and fund new R&D initiatives; Apple uses Corning's glass for iPhone, iPad and Watch . link

Dogecoin lost ~one-third of its value on Saturday night as Robinhood reported delays in processing crypto trades; Elon Musk hosted SNL, and many expected his public support for the cryptocurrency would drive a surge in orders; Musk referred to Dogecoin as a hustle during Weekend Update . link

The Defense Department is considering canceling its $10B JEDI cloud-computing project; the Pentagon awarded the contract to Microsoft in 2019, but Amazon is contesting the procurement process in court; Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said the department would review its options after a report to Congress indicated the legal battle could impact the project's timeline . link

Atlanta-based clinical trials platform Florence Healthcare raises $80M Series C led by Insight Partners; the startup connects pharmaceutical companies with study sites to decentralize and automate trials; the company plans to double its headcount to 200 by year's end . link

MO-based Benson Hill, which uses machine learning and more to optimize crop growth, to go public via a SPAC merger valuing the company at $2B; the firm aims to reduce the costs of plant-based foods, and expects to begin commercial production of a soybean with ultra-high protein content next year . link

Security researcher hacks Apple's new AirTag, re-flashing the microcontroller and changing the URL opened when a nearby iPhone scans the device via NFC: in its proper configuration, AirTag prompts an iPhone to open the Find My app, but a hacked version can send any URL, posing phishing and other risks . link

SpaceX successfully lands a specific Falcon 9 rocket for the tenth time, marking a new reusability record for the firm; the company took another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on Sunday, bringing the total units launched over the past two weeks to 180; Elon Musk said it could be possible to reuse a Falcon 9 more than 100 times with proper maintenance . link

NE-based Valmont ($5.6B market cap), which produces infrastructure and irrigation equipment, acquires Tel Aviv-based ag-tech firm Prosper for $300M; Prosper develops AI-powered cameras and sensors for monitoring crops; the companies said the merged entity would be the world's largest vertically-integrated AI firm in ag-tech . link

Companies around the world on track to collectively spend $240B on edge computing through 2024, according to IDC; the figure includes hardware, software, and services; companies are on pace to spend $332B on cloud services by year's end, according to Gartner . link

The ransomware attack that caused the Colonial Pipeline to shut down on Friday began on Thursday, and the perpetrators stole ~100GB of data, according to Bloomberg sources; members of cybercrime gang DarkSide, known for double-extortion attacks, reportedly threatened to leak the data online while preventing the company from accessing it . link

Online bank Simple shuts down, transition to parent BBVA leaves customers unable to access accounts; BBVA acquired Simple in 2014 said this year it would shut Simple down in preparation for BBVA's sale to PNC Bank; BBVA said it successfully transferred all Simple accounts and that all were functional apart from online account access . link

Clubhouse launches Android app in open beta more than a year after launching its iOS app; initially limited to the US, but the company expects to launch more broadly after collecting user feedback, addressing any problems, and rolling out more features; people outside the US can pre-register in the Google Play Store . link

The download for 2021-05-09 →


Tesla agrees to pay $750k to settle air quality violations at its Fremont facility; the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said it had issued 33 violation notices since 2015; Tesla also agreed to install a community micro-grid solar system, location undetermined . link

Analytics firm StarTree raises $24M Series A led by Bain and GGV; the company configures, manages, and operates the open-source Apache Pinot, offering the real-time analytics platform as a service; raised $28M to date . link

More than 400 companies in the chip space collectively raised ~$12B last year, according to CB Insights; the total was more than double the 2019 total and ~eight times the 2016 total; the co-CEO of chip design software firm Synopsys noted companies, government agencies, universities and other entities generally uninvolved with chip design and production have expressed interest in recent months . link

NC-based architectural software firm Prescient raises $190M led by JE Dunn and Eldridge; valuation undisclosed, but investors reportedly last valued the firm at $600M; Epic Games, which raised $1B last month, is the only NC-based company to have raised more funds than Prescient this year . link

NC-based JupiterOne, which helps security teams to centralize, manage, and analyze cybersecurity data, raises $30M Series B led by Sapphire Ventures; founded within health software company LifeOmic to address that firm's cyber asset needs . link

CA-based Evening Fund launches with $2M, targeting investments of $50k to $100k in B2B SaaS startups; founded by Sequoia Capital Scout Kat Orekhova and Yobs Co-Founder Raphael Danilo . link

US advertisers to spend ~$11.4B to run commercials on TV streaming services this year, up 40 percent year-over-year, according to EMarketer; between Jan 2020 and January of this year, ad-supported streaming services grew their share of US homes with streaming services from 24 percent to 26 percent; because streaming platforms show fewer ads and offer better targeting that traditional TV, streaming ads are significantly more expensive . link

Los Angeles-based EngineEars, a marketplace for audio engineer services, raises $1M pre-seed from Kendrick Lamar, DJ Mustard, others; musicians choose from vetted engineers, upload their projects, and download finished mixes; currently invite-only and considering new features based on user requests, such as beat sales . link

Colonial Pipeline halts operations due to cyberattack; the company operates a 5.5k-mile pipeline that transports fuel from the Gulf Coast to NY, carrying ~45 percent of the gas and diesel used on the East Coast; sources for The Wall Street Journal indicated ransomware had impacted information systems but not operational systems . link

Elon Musk says SpaceX might fly its SN15 Starship prototype for a second time following a successful launch and landing this week; it would be the first time the company re-flew a Starship prototype . link

Boston-based Zoe, which offers at-home testing kits for personalized nutrition guidance, raises $20M Series B led by Ahren Innovation Capital, bringing the round total to $53M; the company monitors customers' gut, blood fat, and blood sugar responses to diet changes . link

WorkBoard, which tracks enterprise objectives and key results, raises $75M Series D for an $800M post-valuation led by Softbank; enables clients to track and chart performance, and to run in-person and virtual meetings . link

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the first week of the Apple-Epic trial; Epic CEO Tim Sweeney testified that Apple's App Store commission had placed a significant economic drag on his firm and reduced Epic's ability to reinvest in its business; Apple detailed Epic's various non-Apple distribution channels, as well as its app-review process, which the company has cited to justify its commission rate . link

The vast majority of iPhone users running iOS 14.5 have left app tracking disabled, according to Flurry Analytics; in the US, ~four percent have opted into app tracking; globally, 12 percent of iOS 14.5 users have opted in; Apple released the software update, which added App Tracking Transparency, on April 26 . link

This Week in StartupsJason recaps and analyzes the Facebook Oversight Board's decision regarding the company's suspension of Donald Trump, the board essentially passing the call back to Facebook, the debate regarding the responsibilities of private companies, more; Jason then answers viewer questions about top tech journalists and validating total addressable market . link

The download for 2021-05-08 →


Walmart ($394B market cap) acquires telehealth firm MeMD, terms undisclosed; the retailer expects to expand its Walmart Health business to provide virtual health services nationwide; sources for The Wall Street Journal indicated the initiative was a response to Amazon Care, which serves Amazon employees and will eventually serve employees at other firms . link

DraftKings ($19.3B market cap) Q1 beats: $312M revenue ($236M expected); -$0.36 EPS (-$0.42 expected); 1.5M unique monthly paid users, $61 average revenue per paid monthly user; DraftKings increased its full-year guidance for fiscal 2021 from $900M-$1B to $1.05B-$1.15B . link

Blair (YC S19), which helps schools offer income share agreements, raises $6.3M seed led by Tiger Global; the company's financing arm, Blair Capital, which raised $100M debt in February, finances students' tuition; the company's Services arm manages the flow of money .Watch Jason discuss income share agreements with Meratas CEO Darius Goldman on This Week in Startups: link

MA-based Syniti acquires fellow data migration services company, KS-based Data Migration Resources; terms undisclosed; Syniti parent Bridge Growth Partners will retain majority ownership in the combined entity; in addition to its data services, Syniti develops a software platform supporting data archiving, analytics, more . link

Hearing care company Sonova to acquire Sennheiser's consumer brand, which includes headphones and soundbars; Sennheiser will focus on its pro audio products (studio microphones, reference headphones, wireless performance systems); Sonova, which focuses on healthcare products, will license the Sennheiser name . link

The Wall Street Journal details how Apple's Find My and Amazon's Sidewalk mesh networks operate; Apple's system relies on mobile devices to track item locations; Amazon's relies on static devices and offers more traditional mesh networking features, such as the ability to use a neighbor's internet connection when the primary router disconnects . link

Google to add YouTube TV to the main YouTube app, starting with the app for Roku; Roku recently removed the YouTube TV app from its platform due to contentious negotiations and has accused Google of monopolistic, anticompetitive behavior . link

Impossible Foods obtains the Child Nutrition Label from the USDA, making the animal substitutes company's products eligible for school lunch funding; the firm plans to launch pilot programs with schools in CA, OK, and WA this month, offering Impossible Street Tacos, Spaghetti with Impossible Meat Sauce, more . link

Maintenance robot startup ViaBot raises $6.1M Series A from Baseline Ventures, SOSV, others; the company's autonomous RUNO robot sweeps large properties like school campuses and can also perform security functions, such as scanning license plates; the accompanying software gives customers property visibility, reports, more . link

Spinwheel, which develops APIs for integrating financial management tools into apps, raises $11M Series A led by QED Investors; the startup is currently focused on tools for student debt but plans to expand into other debt categories including home and auto over the next year . link

LiveLeak, a video site featuring user-generated content that violated the policies of most competitors, shuts down after 15 years; the domain now redirects to link

Microsoft shelves Chrome OS competitor Windows 10X and likely won't launch in its current form, according to Petri; the company began working on a lightweight version of Windows more than ten years ago and had planned to ship Windows 10X this year, but reportedly will instead focus on improving Windows 10 . link

Amazon announces it will integrate Tile and Level (smart lock) products into the Sidewalk network, which uses Ring and Echo devices for mesh networking and device tracking; Amazon noted the partnership would extend the range of Tile trackers and improve Tile's in-home location feature . link

The download for 2021-05-07 →


The FTC releases a report critical of consumer brands that make third-party product repairs difficult; the agency notes smartphone companies, carmakers, and other industries use a variety of tactics, including restricting access to parts and diagnostic software; the FTC says existing laws need to be better enforced, and also proposes new legislation . link

PayPal CFO John Rainey says the company has no current plans to invest in crypto assets; speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Rainey notes the crypto market is highly volatile but suggests PayPal could change its stance amid future stability; PayPal added support for cryptocurrency trading last year . link

Product demo startup Navattic (YC W21) raises $1.2M seed led by 645 Ventures; the firm offers a no-code service to help companies showcase their products to potential customers . link

Toronto-based chatbot firm Ada raises $130M on a $1.2B valuation led by Spark Capital with participation from Tiger Global Management, Bessemer Venture Partners, and others; Ada offers AI-powered customer service bots to clients such as Facebook and Zoom; has raised ~$190M to date . link

Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund awards $410M to PA-based optoelectronics firm II-VI; in a tweet announcing the grant, Tim Cook notes Apple is expanding its partnership with II-VI which provides parts for the company’s Face ID system; II-VI will use the money to expand production capacity and hire more staff . link

Jeff Blackburn is exiting Bessemer Venture Partners five weeks after joining the VC firm; Blackburn, who previously served as a senior executive at Amazon, is leaving to pursue management opportunities; he will continue to operate as an advisor to Bessemer . link

Cybersecurity firm Huntress raises $40M Series B led by JMI with participation from ForgePoint Capital and Gula Tech Adventures; the company provides endpoint detection tools to enterprise customers; has raised ~$60M to date . link

Snowball Finance, a China-based financial information service, plans to raise as much as $300M via a US IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; the company is expected to file with the SEC as soon as this month; the timing of the listing and the bourse it will use are unknown . link

Ether reaches a new record valuation of $3.6k; the cryptocurrency, which trades on the ethereum blockchain, is up more than 385 percent since the start of the year . link

Peloton ($24.7B market cap) Q3 beats: ~$1.3B revenue, up 141 percent year-on-year ($1.1B expected); $0.03 loss per share ($0.12 expected); Peloton says it anticipates a ~$165M charge in Q4 following the recall of its treadmill products .Peloton is delaying the US release of its lower-cost Tread device (not to be confused with Tread+), which was set to launch on May 27; Tread was released in Canada, and the UK, but is included in the recall; Peloton notes it’s working with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure the treadmills are made safe . link

Dropbox ($9.9B market cap) Q1 beats: $511.6M revenue, up 12 percent year-on-year; $0.35 EPS; 15.8M paid users, up 8.5 percent year-on-year; $132.5 average revenue per paying user, up 4.9 percent year-on-year . link

Roku ($37.6B market cap) Q1 beats: $574.2M revenue, up 79 percent year-over-year ($490.6M expected); $0.54 EPS ($0.13 expected, through Roku had projected a loss); 2.4M new active users, bringing the total to 53.6M, up 35 percent from the year-earlier period . link

Square ($102B market cap) Q1 beats: $5.06B revenue, up 266 percent year-over-year ($3.37B expected); $3.51B revenue from Bitcoin sales, up ~11x year-over-year ($74M gross profit); $33.14B gross payment volume, up 20 percent; $39M net income . link

Virgin Orbit announces its next space mission will deliver payloads for the Department of Defense and others in June; the company's LauncherOne rocket will launch from a Boeing 747; Virgin Orbit conducted a demonstration mission in January, delivering satellites into orbit for NASA . link

Twitter introduces Tip Jar, a feature enabling users to send funds to creators via multiple payment options, including Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo; app researcher Jane Manchun Wong revealed Tip Jar last month as part of Twitter's coming suite of monetization features for creators . link

Netflix is surveying users to gauge interest in N-Plus: an online space for accessing additional show content and information, user-created playlists, podcasts, social features, more; Netflix regularly creates additional content for its original productions, but shares it to YouTube and other platforms . link

Snap announces the Creator Marketplace, which will help brands connect with video creators, Lens developers, and others for partnerships; will initially focus on pairing companies with AR creators for ads, but will expand to all Snapchat creators by year's end; Snap's Snapchat Storytellers program served a similar function but only supported video creators . link

Google announces the Play Store will require apps to disclose information about data collection, security practices, more; each app listing will include a safety section similar to the App Store's privacy labels, which Apple launched in December . link

TikTok announces the Login Kit and Sound Kit SDKs; Login Kit enables third-party app developers to let their users log in with TikTok credentials; Sound Kit allows third-party apps to share audio via TikTok; TikTok already offered developer tools for sharing content to TikTok but Sound Kit offers tighter integrations . link

Bitski, which offers custom storefronts for selling NFTs, raises $19M Series A led by A16Z; the company aims to help individual creators, celebrities, and brands enter the NFT space through familiar e-commerce tools; the startup hosts wallets and lets customers pay with credit cards . link

BigBrain, which operates an iOS trivia game with cash prizes, raises $4.5M seed from First Round Capital, Box Group, others; unlike Trivia HQ, BigBrain does not feature a live host, and users pick matches based on their topics of interest and knowledge; players pay as little as $1 to compete, and games start every 15 minutes (between 5 pm and 8 pm PT) . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with The Crafter's Box Founder Morgan Spenla about how her marketplace for crafting kits and workshops differs from other players, why people get into crafting, reaching new audiences, how curation improves the customer experience, the company's greatest challenge, finding and coaching great people, more . link

Boston-based Lightmatter, which develops chips with photonic circuits for AI applications, raises $80M Series B led by Viking Global Investors; the company's multi-processor Envise unit fits standard server racks and handles neural network processes; Lightmatter plans to begin testing with potential customers by year's end . link

The download for 2021-05-06 →


SaaS firm ReCharge raises $227M on a $2.1B valuation from Summit Partners, ICONIQ Growth, and Bain Capital Ventures; ReCharge offers subscription management tools to enterprise customers; has raised $277M to date . link

Sweden-based EV firm Einride raises $110M from Temasek, Soros Fund Management, Maersk Growth, and others; Einride, which operates in Europe and the US, offers all-electric vehicles designed for the logistics sector; has raised more than $150M to date . link

IBM says it has created the world’s first 2nm chip; the company claims the 2nm chip, which contains 50B transistors, requires 75 percent less energy than a 7nm chip operating at the same performance level; it’s unknown if or when IBM will bring the tech to market . link

China-based analytics firm Qiniu files for a US IPO, aims to raise as much as $100M; Qiniu, which counts Alibaba’s Taobao China among its largest stakeholders, offers cloud data measurement tools; the listing is backed by several international banks, including UBS Investment Bank and Jeffries . link

Three of the four main personalities at games media firm Giant Bomb are leaving the company; Alex Navarro, Vinny Caravella, and Brad Shoemaker - all Games Bomb co-founders - are departing; reasons for the move and their future plans unknown . link

Telehealth platform Vida Health raises $110M Series D led by General Atlantic, Centene, and AXA Venture Partners; Vida connects users with health coaches who provide personalized plans for managing chronic conditions; has raised $188M to date . link

Nintendo warns investors the global chip shortage could impact production of its Switch lineup; speaking during an earnings call, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa also notes the company aims to sell 190M software titles this fiscal year .Nintendo has sold ~85M Switch consoles since launch in March 2017; the firm shipped ~29M units over the last fiscal year; Nintendo anticipates it will sell 26.5M Switch devices in the current year, which ends in March 2022 . link

General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra says the company could start selling self-driving cars to consumers by 2030; speaking during an earnings call, Barra notes GM has continued to add features to its driver assist system Super Cruise; Barra also suggests tech from GM’s autonomous vehicle unit Cruise could make its way to personal vehicles . link

Bill Gates has transferred almost $2.4B of shares to Melinda Gates; includes stakes in Coca-Cola and Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa; the transactions occurred on May 3, the same day the Gates’ announced they are divorcing . link

Electronic Arts ($39.5B market cap) acquires Canada-based games studio Metalhead Software; terms undisclosed; Metalhead is known for its “Super Mega Baseball” series of games . link

European VC firm Moonfire Ventures announces a $60M seed-stage fund; established by Atomico co-founder Mattias Ljungman, Moonfire targets startups working in healthtech, gaming, fintech, and more; portfolio includes staff management company Humaans and learning platform Mindstone . link

Kahoot acquires fellow edtech firm Clever for up to $500M (based on performance goals); CA-based Clever offers educators a suite of learning tools for K through 12; Kahoot, which is headquartered in Norway, will continue to operate Clever as a standalone brand . link

CA-based AI chip startup Kneron acquires signal processing firm Vatics from Taiwanese components business Delta Electronics for $10M; Vatics executives will move over to Kneron’s security and surveillance division; as part of the deal Delta will invest $7M in Kneron . link

Insurtech firm Shift Technology raises $220M Series D on a ~$1B valuation led by Advent International with participation from Avenir, Accel, and others; Shift, which has offices in Paris and Boston, offers AI-powered tools to help insurance companies identify potential instances of fraud; has raised $320M to date . link

Database company Timescale raises $40M Series B led by Redpoint Ventures with participation from Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and others; the company offers TimescaleDB which lets users track changes over time; has raised $55M to date . link

PayPal ($290B market cap) Q1 beats: $6.03B revenue, up 30 percent year-over-year ($5.91B expected); $1.22 EPS, up 84 percent (adjusted, $1.01 expected); $285B total payments volume, a quarterly record; 14.5M net new active accounts; 4.4B transactions . link

Twilio ($57.5B market cap) Q1 beats: $590M revenue, up 62 percent year-over-year ($533 expected); $0.05 EPS (adjusted, -$0.10 expected); the firm claimed 235k active customer accounts at the end of March, up from 190k at the end of March 2020 . link

NY-based Swimply, an Airbnb-like marketplace for renting out swimming pools, raises $10M Series A led by Norwest Venture Partners; the startup eliminated in-person host-customer contact due to the pandemic and saw revenue grow 4k percent last year; now serves 125 US markets and plans to support home studios, tennis courts, more . link

Text Blaze (YC W21), which lets users save text snippets and assign keyboard shortcuts to paste them, raises $3.3M seed led by Two Sigma Ventures and Susa Ventures; users can also pull data from third-party sources such as Hubspot to paste in Gmail, for example; currently offers a desktop Chrome extension, plans iOS and Android support . link

Uber ($95.6B market cap) Q1 misses: $2.9B revenue ($3.29B expected); -$0.06 EPS ($0.54 expected); $1.7B Delivery revenue, $853M Mobility revenue; $12.46B gross Delivery bookings, up 166 percent year-over-year; $6.77B gross Mobility bookings, down 38 percent; 1.45B trips, down 13 percent . link

YouTube is rolling its TikTok-like Shorts product out to all US creators; the company is adding a dedicated tab in its mobile apps for iOS and Android and is launching new Shorts features, including an increased time limit (60 seconds, up from 15), automatic or manual captions, more . link

Enterprise tech-focused VC firm Emergence raises $950M across two funds: $575M for its sixth early-stage fund (closed) and $375M in commitments for its first opportunities fund; portfolio includes Crunchbase, Gusto, and SalesLoft; exits include Box, Salesforce, and Zoom . link

Clubhouse is funding 50 audio shows, providing hosts with equipment and support, as well as $5k per month for three months; following pilots, the company might sign longer-term deals with some creators; Clubhouse will not take any ownership of the shows . link

Blue Origin plans to launch its first space tourism mission on July 20; the company's New Shepard rocket will take six passengers to 62 miles above the earth, where they will experience weightlessness before returning; Blue Origin has opened an auction for the one open seat on the flight . link

Galaxy Digital ($2.63B market cap) acquires fellow crypto-focused financial services firm BitGo for $1.2B in cash and stock; the unified business will represent $40B in assets under custody and will offer investment management, prime lending, tax services, more; will also maintain a crypto-mining operation . link

Peloton recalls all treadmills due to safety risks; The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the chair of the House consumer-protection subcommittee each issued a recall request last month, but the company refused both; CEO John Foley has since apologized for failing to engage with the CPSC, which cited 72 reports of Peloton's treadmills pulling kids, pets, and objects underneath, including one case in which a child died .Update: Peloton ($24.24B market cap) stock tumbles 14 percent following the news; the CPSC said it took weeks of intense negotiation to get Peloton to agree to a recall and to halt sales . link

Peloton recalls all treadmills due to safety risks; The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the chair of the House consumer-protection subcommittee each issued a recall request last month, but the company refused both; CEO John Foley has since apologized for failing to engage with the CPSC, which cited 72 reports of Peloton's treadmills pulling kids, pets, and objects underneath, including one case in which a child died .Update: Peloton ($24.24B market cap) stock tumbles 14 percent following the news; the CPSC said it took weeks of intense negotiation to get Peloton to agree to a recall and to halt sales . link

The Labor Department withdraws the Trump-era Independent Contractor Rule, which would have made it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors; the department said the rule would undermine current jurisprudence and was in tension with the Fair Labor Standards Act . link

The download for 2021-05-05 →


Pecan.ai, a data processing service, raises $35M Series B led by GGV Capital with participation from Dell Technologies Capital, S-Capital, and Mindset; the startup offers a suite of AI-powered predictive analytics tools; Pecan.ai, which has offices in Israel and NY, has raised more than $50M to date . link

Facebook begins rolling out a Nextdoor-like feature; dubbed Neighborhoods, it aims to connect users with others in their local area, as well as nearby businesses and groups; Neighborhoods is initially launching in Canada, as well as Charlotte, NC, San Diego, CA, Baton Rouge, LA, and Newark, NJ . link

The Indian government approves Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung equipment for use in 5G network trials; Nikkei Asia notes India’s Ministry of Communications has withheld approval for Huawei and ZTE tech without explanation; the report notes that the Chinese companies have not been explicitly banned from participating in the country’s 5G network . link

EV firm Lucid Motors hires Sherry House as CFO; House previously served as treasurer and head of investor relations at Waymo; Lucid is in the process of going public via a SPAC merger . link

Foxconn partners with fellow Taiwanese firm Yageo to establish a semiconductor joint venture; known as XSemi Corporation, the company will focus on producing low-cost chips; Foxconn and Yageo note they are also making plans to collaborate with others in the semiconductor industry . link

Facebook’s enterprise platform Workplace claims 7M paying subscribers, up from 5M in May 2020; comes as the company announces new features including integration with Microsoft 365 and Google Calendar . link

Health-tech platform Collective Health raises $280M on a $1.5B valuation from Health Care Service Corporation and others; Collective offers enterprise tools for building employee healthcare plans; has raised ~$720M to date . link

TripActions acquires fellow corporate travel service Reed & Mackay; terms undisclosed; UK-based Reed & Mackay will continue to operate as a standalone brand . link

CA-based fintech startup LoanSnap raises $30M Series B led by True Ventures with participation from Baseline Ventures, The Virgin Group, and others; LoanSnap offers online mortgage services; has raised more than $52M to date . link

Dogecoin’s valuation climbs ~40 percent in a 24-hour period, reaching a market cap of $69B; its worth has surged 11k percent since the start of 2021; dogecoin currently ranks as the fourth most valuable cryptocurrency behind bitcoin, ethereum, and binance coin .Update: Dogecoin surges another 20 percent, trading at almost $0.70 apiece; some have linked the rise to Elon Musk's upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live . link

Activision Blizzard ($69B market cap) Q1 beats: $2.07B revenue ($1.79B expected); $0.98 EPS ($0.71 expected); “Call of Duty: Warzone,” which came out in March of last year, drove Activision revenue up 72 percent year-over-year; the link

Match ($37.5B market cap) Q1 beats: $668M revenue ($651M expected); $0.57 EPS ($0.39 expected); Tinder revenue grew 18 percent, fueled by 15-percent growth in its user base and a four-percent bump in average revenue per user . link

Lyft ($18.5B market cap) Q1 beats: $609M revenue, down 36 percent year-over-year but up seven percent quarter-over-quarter ($558.7M expected) -$0.35 EPS (-$0.53 expected); 13.49M active riders (12.8M expected); $45.13 revenue per rider ($44.5 expected) . link

Boston-based Crayon, which provides tools for monitoring and analyzing markets, raises $22M Series B led by Baird Capital; serves mid-sized and large businesses, providing competitive intelligence to boost sales, optimize revenue, more; raised $38M to date . link

Kajabi, which helps instructors create and sell online classes and more, raises $550M at a $2B-plus valuation led by Tiger Global Management; Kajabi offers tools for creating websites, newsletters, and podcasts, in addition to its course tools . link

Headway, which operates a marketplace for mental health therapy services, raises $70M Series B at a $750M valuation led by A16Z; the company also offers a backend system for therapists to assist them in supporting more insurance providers . link

HoneyBook, which provides business management tools for freelancers and SMBs, raises $155M Series D at a $1B-plus valuation led by Durable Capital Partners; supports contracts, invoicing, payments, client communications, more; American and Canadian service providers have booked ~$3B in business on the platform since its 2013 founding . link

SpaceX claims 500k-plus pre-orders for Starlink's satellite broadband service, each of which required a cash deposit for consumer hardware; the company launched 60 more satellites this morning, five days after launching its last 60-unit batch . link

Tesla acquired patent applications from Canada-based Springpower International for $3 in early September and Tesla might have referenced tech from the applications at its September 22 Battery Day event; Elon Musk said Tesla would significantly cut the cost of its lithium-ion batteries and SVP of Engineering Drew Baglino described a system for reusing water in cathode production, saying it would reduce operational costs by ~75 percent . link

Vanta, which provides a security and compliance platform, raises $50M led by Sequoia; the San Francisco-based startup plans to use the funding to open a new office in New York City, more; the platform connects to various third-party services to monitor security and ensure compliance for audits (SOC 2, HIPPA, etc) . link

Austin-based Multicoin Capital, which invests in blockchain- and cryptocurrency-focused startups, announces $100M second fund; the firm has been investing from the fund for several months; portfolio includes Arweave, Solana, and StarkWare . link

Tiger Global Management is raising $10B for its next fund, according to Financial Times sources; the firm closed its most recent fund at $6.7B and has participated in ~100 rounds this year; VCs have said Tiger leads rounds by moving quickly and offering better pricing than competing firms .Watch Jason speak with Founders Fund's Everett Randle about Tiger's strategy: link

Persona, which offers a no-code platform for customized identity verification solutions, raises $50M Series B led by Index Ventures; clients use an API to integrate selfie verification, AI-powered analysis of indicators such as device location, more . link

Twitter ($43B market cap) acquires Scroll, which charges $5 per month to disable ads at participating sites (terms undisclosed); Twitter plans a new subscription service that includes Scroll, newsletter service Revue, and more; Scroll-owned Nuzzel, which sends daily email summaries of top stories in the user's Twitter feed, will shut down . link

The download for 2021-05-04 →


Cloud-based networking company Aryaka acquires secure access service Secucloud; terms undisclosed; Germany-based Secucloud, which offers firewall capabilities to enterprise customers, has raised ~$14M to date . link

Taiwan-based chip manufacturer TSMC has plans for multiple facilities in AZ, according to Reuters sources; the company is currently working on a $12B plant in Phoenix but intends to establish up to five additional sites within the state; the move is reportedly in response to US government requests to increase production capacity . link

Uber is partnering with online grocery startup GoPuff to offer deliveries in multiple US cities starting next month; the firms say the partnership should be available nationwide by the end of the summer; GoPuff will provide order and fulfilment logistics, while Uber will take a commission on each delivery . link

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola hires Wayne Burgess as head of vehicle design for its EV unit; Burgess joins from Jaguar Land Rover where he spent close to 20 years; Burgess has also worked for Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, and Bentley . link

NY-based data storage firm Vast Data raises $82M on a $3.7B valuation led by Tiger Global Management with participation from Nvidia; Vast Data offers services to a variety of clients including Harvard Medical School and NASA; has raised more than $260M to date . link

Compliance platform OneTrust acquires risk-management firm Shared Assessments; terms undisclosed; Shared Assessments, which is based in NM, helps enterprise customers vet interactions with third-party companies . link

South China Morning Post profiles Chew Shou Zi, TikTok’s newly appointed CEO; the 38-year-old Singapore national studied at University College London before joining Goldman Sachs; Chew also has an MBA from Harvard Business School before joining investment firm DST in 2010 . link

Fidelity Investments values its stake in Ant Group at ~$144B, down from $295B in August 2020; The Wall Street Journal suggests Fidelity may have to take a loss against its investment in the firm; Ant Group’s dual IPO was blocked by Chinese regulators last November, and it has since been ordered to restructure its operations . link

Health-tech firm Alfie raises $9.5M seed led by Lux Capital with participation from Amplo, IA Ventures, and others; Alfie is developing an AI-powered data management system for use in the IVF process . link

Amazon says its ad-supported programming reaches more than 120M monthly active users; the figure is up from 20M in Jan 2020; includes content from Twitch, IMDb TV, Amazon News, and more . link

Okta ($33.6B market cap) completes its $6.5B acquisition of fellow identity management firm Auth0; Auth0 offers cloud-based ID verification tools; Okta has not divulged how Auth0 will integrate into its operations . link

Apple hires former Google data scientist Samy Bengio; Reuters sources say Bengio will join an AI research division overseen by Apple VP John Giannandrea; Bengio left Google last month after ~14 years with the company . link

Uruguayan fintech startup DLocal has confidentially filed for a US IPO, according to Bloomberg sources; the company is working with JPMorgan Chase and others on the listing; DLocal processes cross-border payments for enterprise customers . link

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates announce they are divorcing after 27 years of marriage; Bill and Melinda note they intend to continue working together on their philanthropic organization the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation . link

Uber partners with UK-based EV firm Arrival to develop an all-electric vehicle aimed at ride-hailing drivers; financial terms undisclosed; Arrival says it intends to release a design for the car by the end of this year with plans to launch the EV in 2023 . link

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Trial begins in Epic's antitrust suit against Apple; Epic's opening argument referred to Apple's App Store commission as an unfair tax that inflates prices for developers and consumers; Apple opened with arguments that it had created great economic opportunities for developers and that Epic was a huge company that no longer wanted to pay to benefit from Apple's innovation . link

CO-based Solid Power, which develops solid state battery tech, raises $130M Series B led by Ford and BMW, which now hold equal parts equity; representatives from Ford and BMW will join Solid Power's board; solid state batteries offer improved energy density and reduced fire risk compared to competing tech . link

AOL charges 1.5M customers $10 or $15 per month for tech support and identity protection services, according to a CNBC source; the company's dial-up internet service, which claimed 2.1M subscribers in 2015, now reportedly serves a user base in the low thousands; the report follows the announcement that Apollo Global will acquire Verizon media assets, including AOL, for $5B . link

New cryptocurrency Chia, which prioritizes storage space over computing power for creating coins, begins trading; Bitcoin uses proof of work for minting, whereas Chia uses proofs of space and time; Business Insider notes the launch has contributed to hard drive and SSD shortages and price increases . link

Apple issues iPhone, iPad, Watch, and Mac software updates to address potentially exploited security vulnerabilities; flaws in WebKit could enable a maliciously created site to execute code on visitors' devices . link

The Facebook Oversight Board will announce its decision regarding the company's suspension of Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts on Wednesday after considering ~9k public comments; Facebook suspended the accounts following the Jan 6 Capitol Building attack and referred the matter to the Oversight Board due to the significance of the issue . link

Sony to integrate Discord into PlayStation Network, enabling communication between PSN and the Discord app; Xbox previously added some integration, such as the ability to see what Xbox Live users are playing, but no cross-network communications; Sony is investing in Discord as part of the deal, but the amount is undisclosed . link

Cybersecurity firm Imperva acquires CloudVector, which provides security for APIs; terms undisclosed; CloudVector doesn't require any rewriting of API code and incorporates into CI/CD pipelines; Imperva currently protects apps, databases, more . link

Genies, which offers a 3D avatar platform for consumers and communities, raises $65M Series B led by Bond; the company is working with Dapper Labs to build an NFT platform and a storefront for avatar accessories; Genies plans to launch the shop in coming months . link

Twitter expands live audio product Spaces to all users with at least 600 followers; the company also revealed planned updates, including scheduling and ticketing features, the ability to co-host talks, improved accessibility, more; users can now find and join spaces by tapping on a profile picture with a purple frame . link

The download for 2021-05-03 →


Path Robotics, which specializes in manufacturing tech, raises $56M Series B led by Addition; the OH-based firm provides AI-powered robotic systems that incorporate computer vision and more; Path has raised $71M to date . link

Toronto-based fintech firm Wealthsimple raises ~$610M on a ~$4B post-money valuation led by Meritech and Greylock with participation from Inovia and others; Wealthsimple offers a suite of consumer financial products including stock trading, peer-to-peer money transfers, and more; has raised more than $920M to date . link

China-based insurtech firm Waterdrop plans to raise as much as $360M via a US IPO, reports Nikkei Asia; SEC filings show the company will offer 30M American Depositary shares priced at $10 to $12 apiece later this week; Waterdrop has set aside $4.5M additional greenshoe shares . link

Intel says it will invest $3.5B to upgrade a plant in NM; CEO Pat Gelsinger made the announcement during an appearance on “60 Minutes”; Intel also has plans to spend $10B on a facility in Israel, and has already committed $20B for two new factories in AZ .Gelsinger anticipates it will be “a couple of years” before the chip industry catches up with supply demand; Gelsinger also notes 25 years ago the US manufactured 37 percent of the world’s semiconductors, but that it now accounts for just 12 percent . link

Catch Co, a Chicago-based e-commerce service for fishing enthusiasts, raises $38M Series B led by True Ventures with participation from TechNexus; the startup offers equipment and supplies, as well as operating a YouTube channel; has raised $56M to date . link

Indonesia-based robo-advisor service Bibit raises $65M led by Sequoia Capital India with participation from Prosus Ventures, Tencent, and others; the startup offers stock investing tools; has raised $110M to date . link

The New York Times profiles the Epic Games-Apple trial, which is set to begin today; Epic claims Apple’s 30 percent commission on App Store purchases is too high; proceedings are set to last for three weeks with expected testimony from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney as well as several Apple executives .The iOS App Store generated profit margins above 70 percent during 2018 and 2019, according to Ned Barnes, an expert witness for Epic; Barnes has testified data from Apple’s Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis unit shows the App Store had an operating profit of 74.9 percent in 2018 and 77.8 percent in 2019; Apple has said it does not parse out its App Store revenues . link

Andreessen Horowitz plans to raise $800M to $1B for a crypto fund, according to sources for the Financial Times; the company intends to invest in digital currencies and crypto startups . link

PE firms Francisco Partners and TPG acquire cloud integration service Boomi from Dell for $4B; the deal is expected to close by the end of this year; Dell purchased Boomi for an undisclosed sum in 2010 . link

Ethereum’s valuation passes $3k; the cryptocurrency’s worth has risen more than 300 percent since the start of 2021 .Bitcoin accounts for ~46 percent of the cryptocurrency market value of $2.3T, according to CoinGecko data; ethereum counts for ~15 percent . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will launch a flexible iPhone featuring an 8-inch display in 2023; Kuo says Samsung will supply the QHD+ screen; Kuo also anticipates Apple will ship 15M to 20M units in its first year . link

Verizon is close to a deal to sell its media operations to Apollo Global Management, according to Bloomberg sources; Verizon could receive as much as $5B from the deal; the arrangement is for brands such as AOL and Yahoo .Yahoo Finance is likely the most valuable of Verizon’s media assets, according to a CNBC source; the unit was valued at ~$2B some years ago when more than one financial services company approached Verizon about acquiring a stake .Update: Verizon confirms it’s selling AOL and Yahoo assets to Apollo for $5B; Verizon will maintain a 10 percent stake in the unit, which is now known as Yahoo; Verizon paid more than $4.4B for AOL’s properties in 2015, and $4.5B for Yahoo’s in 2017 . link

All modern AMD and Intel processors featuring micro-op caches are vulnerable to new Spectre exploits, according to researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of California San Diego; Tom's Hardware notes the risk for widespread attacks is low, as only nation-states are likely to bypass all other security measures to take advantage of the vulnerabilities; the researchers said a fix could significantly decrease performance . link

SpaceX brings four astronauts, who spent six months on the International Space Station, back to earth with a Crew Dragon splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico; SpaceX transported the crew - three astronauts from NASA, one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - to the ISS in November .The mission set a new record: the longest, time-wise, for a crewed American spacecraft; the Crew Dragon capsule, known as Resilience, was in orbit for 168 days; the Skylab team set the previous record in 1974 at 84 days . link

Facebook and Instagram display notices on iOS 14.5 urging users to enable app tracking, saying it enables personalized ads and supports businesses running ads; each app also indicates that enabling tracking helps to keep Facebook services free . link

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says the company plans to design and develop chips for autonomous vehicles; the firm expects to expand its Cariad software division for the effort; Volkswagen would hold patents, suppliers would handle manufacturing . link

Rockley Photonics, which develops sensors that can detect blood glucose and alcohol levels, claims Apple as its largest customer, according to documents filed in preparation for a public listing; Rockley's CEO said the firm expected its products to be available in consumer devices next year, but he did not reveal brands . link

Intel commits ~$600M to R&D in Israel; the firm will spend $400M to expand Mobileye's headquarters in Jerusalem into an autonomous driving R&D campus and $200M on an R&D center in Haifa; the company also confirmed it had begun construction of a $10B chip plant in Israel . link

Cloudflare announces its second contest to invalidate patent troll patents; the company announced the first such Project Jengo contest in 2017, offering money to those who could find prior art that would invalidate a contested patent and others belonging to plaintiff Blackbird Technologies; now, the firm is offering $100k for the same purpose: to defend against a suit from Sable Networks and invalidate other patents in Sable's portfolio . link

Microsoft plans to reduce its fee for Xbox store sales from 30 to 12 percent, according to documents filed in the Apple-Epic case; the company recently announced it would reduce its Microsoft Store commission from 30 percent to 12 percent on Aug 1; the document indicated Microsoft would also change the Xbox commission by year's end . link

Independent game developer Wolfire Games, which created the Humble Bundle, files suit against Valve, alleging the company has abused its market power to essentially force developers to sell their titles on Steam and give Valve a 30-percent cut of each sale; Apple, Google, and Microsoft have adjusted their app store commissions in recent months, motivated in part by Epic's suit against Apple, which begins Monday . link

Neuralink Co-Founder and President Max Hodak announces his departure from the company; Hodak did not disclose the reasons for his leaving or any details about his plans; the company recently published a video purporting to show a macaque monkey playing the game Pong using only a brain-machine interface for control . link

SpaceX brings four astronauts, who spent six months on the International Space Station, back to earth with a Crew Dragon splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico; SpaceX transported the crew - three astronauts from NASA, one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - to the ISS in November .The mission set a new record: the longest, time-wise, for a crewed American spacecraft; the Crew Dragon capsule, known as Resilience, was in orbit for 168 days; the Skylab team set the previous record in 1974 at 84 days . link

The download for 2021-05-02 →


Federal jury convicts former Netflix VP of Information Technology Operations Michael Kail of money laundering, mail fraud, and wire fraud; the Justice Department said he accepted bribes from vendors totaling $500k; Netflix sued Kail in 2014 . link

UK-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace surged more than 40 percent in its Friday debut on the London Stock Exchange; the company priced shares for a $2.4B valuation, and the stock jumped 43 percent in early trading; Darktrace was the first high-growth tech firm to debut on the exchange since Deliveroo's lackluster IPO at the end of March . link

Tablet makers shipped 39.9M units in the first quarter, up 55.2 percent year-over-year, according to IDC; the market research company noted the segment hadn't seen such growth since 2013; Apple remained in top position with 31.7 percent of the market, and Samsung followed with 20 percent . link

Protocol summarizes and analyzes the Apple-Epic dispute ahead of the trial, which starts on Monday; Protocol notes an Epic win could result in significant changes to how Apple controls sellers on the App Store and how consumers obtain apps; an Apple win could make future challenges to the company's business model more difficult . link

iOS beta features Music app code with references to Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio, potentially supporting a report that Apple plans to announce a Hi-Fi music streaming service in coming weeks . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Founders Fund Principal Everett Randle about how Tiger Global is outpacing VC through cheap and fast capital, the firm's strategy, the implications of link

NASA suspends a $2.9B contract with SpaceX to build a lunar lander after Blue Origin and Dynetics contested the agency's selection process; NASA will not make any payments to SpaceX or continue relevant talks until the Government Accountability Office has resolved the separate complaints . link

Tesla releases first image and specs for solar energy storage product Powerwall+, the first significant update since the Powerwall 2 in 2016; the new version boosts the maximum output to 9.6 kW; Tesla is now marketing the Powerwall+ to potential customers . link

CA appeals court finds Amazon can be liable for third-party Marketplace products; the plaintiff suffered burns from a hoverboard she bought from a Marketplace seller in 2015; it's the second major case in which a CA court has rejected Amazon's defense that it only acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers . link

FL Legislature passes bill prohibiting social media companies from de-platforming political candidates, and bill supporter Gov Ron DeSantis (R) is likely to sign it into law; the bill would allow companies to institute 14-day suspensions and to remove policy-violating posts, but not to permanently ban candidates; internet trade group NetChoice said the bill would violate First Amendment rights . link

The download for 2021-05-01 →


Hulu updates its live TV offering with nine ViacomCBS channels, including BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon; some come with the $65-per-month live TV base plan, others require the $8-per-month Entertainment package . link

China's central bank and four agencies demand tech giants, including Didi Chuxing, JD.com, and Tencent to unbundle financial services from payment apps, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; authorities reportedly said bundled systems obscured the flow of money, posing broader risks . link

SAP settles multiple investigations regarding illegal software sales that violated US sanctions against Iran; the firm admitted to illegally exporting software to Iran ~20k times and to allowing ~2.3k Iranians to access US cloud services; the firm has spent $27 million on remediation and compliance, and the settlement is worth $8M . link

Roughly one-third of Basecamp's 57 employees have accepted a buyout offer, according to sources for The Verge; on Monday, CEO Jason Fried announced multiple changes within the company, and later said the firm would provide severance for workers who chose to leave; multiple people in leadership roles have publicly announced their departure . link

Firstbase, which offers hardware and software bundles for remote workers, raises $13M Series A led by A16Z; serves businesses and offers automated delivery of devices with preloaded software when a new worker joins the team, IT support, and device pickup when a worker leaves the team . link

Facebook ($925B market cap) acquires VR game developer Downpour Interactive, known for the VR title link

Google is developing new office design concepts for post-pandemic, hybrid workplaces; Team Pods feature chairs, desks, and other easily rearrangeable elements on casters, and Campfires bring in-person workers together with remote workers for meetings; the company will test the concepts in ~10 percent of its global workspaces over the next year . link

Rapchat, a mobile app for creating music and connecting with other musicians and producers, raises $2.3M seed (extension) led by Sony Music and Adjacent; brings the round total to $4M; users can choose from crowdsourced beats and record vocals with effects . link

Online pharmacy Capsule, which offers same-day delivery, raises $300M Series D at a $1B-plus valuation led by Durable Capital Partners; the New York City-based company serves ~a dozen markets; also offers telemedicine and mental health services; raised $570M to date . link

A16Z plans to raise $800M to $1B for its third crypto-focused fund, according to Financial Times sources; the firm was an early investor in Coinbase, which went public this month, and saw its stake valued at $11.2B when trades began . link

TikTok appoints Singapore-based Shou Zi Chew, CFO of parent ByteDance, as CEO; he will continue in both roles; as CEO of TikTok, he replaces Los Angeles-based Vanessa Pappas, who became the interim global head of TikTok in August, and will now serve as COO . link

Epic Games acquires Montreal-based ArtStation, which offers portfolio hosting, a marketplace where artists can sell their work, and a job board focused on visual arts; game companies including Blizzard and Infinity Ward use the job board; Epic said it would eliminate the fees artists pay to sell their work . link

The download for 2021-04-30 →


Roku removes YouTube TV from its app store; the companies have been unable to agree new licensing terms; Roku says the app will still remain available for existing users . link

Intel is reportedly seeking €8B (~$9.7B) in subsidies for a semiconductor plant in Europe; comes as Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger visits the bloc; Gelsinger has met with German officials and business leaders about the possibility of establishing a facility in the country . link

MN-based fintech firm Sezzle announces plans for a secondary listing in the US; Sezzle, which offers a buy-now-pay-later service, currently trades on the Australian stock exchange ASX; the company notes it’s yet to decide the timing or a price for its IPO . link

Compass Group acquires CA-based food services firm EAT Club; terms undisclosed; EAT Club, which offers meal delivery services to enterprise customers, has raised $46.5M to date . link

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin teases the availability of seat aboard its New Shepard spacecraft; the company has posted a video to Twitter, noting it will reveal more details on May 5 . link

The European Commission (EC) will today announce antitrust charges against Apple, according to a Reuters source; the EC will declare Apple’s refusal to let iOS developers inform users of alternative purchasing options is anti-competitive .Update: The EC accuses Apple of violating Europe’s anti-monopoly laws; the regulatory body says a preliminary probe has found Apple “distorted competition in the streaming market” by not allowing third-party firms to offer non-App Store payment methods; the EC opened its investigation into Apple’s licensing terms after Spotify filed a complaint in 2019 .Update: EC competition head Margrethe Vestager says Apple “deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices”; Apple will be given the chance to defend itself before an EC panel; if the company is found guilty it could be fined up to 10 percent of its annual revenues . link

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek predicts all major platforms will introduce a live audio feature; speaking with investors, Ek compares the trend to the Stories format, which originated at Snapchat but has subsequently been adopted by Instagram, LinkedIn, Spotify, and others; Ek posits musicians could use live audio to engage with fans, host listening parties, and more .Ek reveals sports-centric social audio service Locker Room will eventually relaunch as Spotify Greenroom; speaking on Spotify’s “For the Record” podcast, Ek notes Greenroom will also expand its focus; Spotify acquired Locker Room-owner Betty Labs in March . link

Microsoft says it will reduce its commissions for third-party games purchase via its online PC app store; Microsoft currently takes a 30 percent cut of all sales, but the fee will drop to 12 percent in August . link

VC firm Eclipse Ventures closes its fourth fund at $500M; targets startups focused on solutions for the industrial sector; portfolio includes robotic systems company Bright Machines and data flow business Metrolink . link

The original photo from the “disaster girl” meme sells for ~$500K as an NFT; the image of four-year-old Zoe Roth was captured by her father in 2005 and has been repurposed countless times; the Roth family will continue to receive 10 percent royalties for each subsequent sale of the NFT . link

The New York Police Department says it will stop using the dog-like Spot robot from Boston Dynamics; the department has canceled its $94k contract with the company and will return the unit; the department faced public backlash after deploying Spot in a home invasion response and later in a public housing building . link

This Week in Startups:Scaling Your Startup S2 E3 | SalesJason speaks with GRIN Co-Founder and CEO Brandon Brown and LeadIQ Co-Founder and CEO Mei Siauw about when to build an inside sales team, the sales playbook and testing, investing in and scaling an outbound sales team, the efficacy of remote sales teams, more . link

US consumers spent $14.92B on video gaming in the first quarter, up 30 percent year-over-year, according to NPD; US spending in the category was up 27 percent last year, driven in part by pandemic lockdowns; Sony and Microsoft launched new consoles at the end of 2020, and hardware represented 82 percent of category spending in the first quarter of this year . link

The SEC is investigating Volkswagen over an April Fool's Day press release indicating the company would rebrand its US operations as link

Amazon ($175T market cap) FQ1 beats: $108.52B revenue, up 44 percent year-over-year ($104.47B expected); $16.09 EPS ($9.54 expected); marks the company's second-strongest quarter ever in terms of revenue, behind the $125.6B generated in the fourth quarter of last year; Amazon said it would hold this year's Prime Day sale in June, rather than July .AWS generated $13.5B in revenue, up 32 percent year-over-year . link

Electrify America plans to expand its EV charging network to four more states (HI, SD, WY, and VT) by early next year, bringing the total to 47 states, plus DC; this year, the firm plans to expand its footprint in MN, MT, NH, and WA; Electrify America expects to have 800 stations representing ~3.5k chargers operational or near launch by the end of 2021 . link

New York City-based Rho, a digital banking platform for startups, raises $100M in debt from Community Investment Management; the platform, which now features an accounts payable feature, is structured for distributed teams and high-growth firms . link

Global smartphone shipments rose 27 percent year-over-year in the first quarter to 347M units, according to Canalys; Samsung led with 76.5M devices, followed by Apple (52.4M) and Xiaomi (49M); Canalys noted that LG's exit from the smartphone business would present an opportunity in the Americas for Motorola, ZTE, and other OEMs, particularly for budget phones . link

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh argues many US gig workers should be classified as employees; he said the Department of Labor would reach out to gig economy companies in coming months to ensure workers have access to consistent pay, health care, more; the International Labor Organization previously projected that gig workers would represent 43 percent of the US workforce by 2020 . link

The FAA authorizes SpaceX's next three Starship test flights; the agency previously approved such launches one at a time, but said SpaceX planned few changes between missions and had conformed to the FAA's standards for calculating risks; the FAA is investigating SpaceX's last Starship flight, which resulted in a rocket exploding after launch . link

PortalOne, which is testing an app that lets users play on-demand games and watch live shows featuring gameplay, raises $15M seed from Atari, Founders Fund, others; the company built a tech stack for creating games, recording shows, and integrating the two experiences in VR . link

IBM ($128.4B market cap) acquires Boston-based Turbonomic, which provides AI-powered resource management tools for enterprises; terms undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source confirmed a Reuters report that the deal was worth $1.5B to $2B; previously raised $150M . link

Facebook commits $5M to local journalists to support its new publishing and newsletter features; the company has begun the program application process and will favor journalists who address minority communities that lack adequate news sources; Facebook will provide access to experts and various resources to help selected journalists build news businesses . link