The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2020-01-13, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2020-01-13 →


Samsung’s next foldable device will be called Galaxy Z Flip, according to Ice Universe; follows a report it would be called Galaxy Bloom; Samsung is expected to announce the device on Feb 11 . link

Samsung announces 6.3-inch Galaxy XCover Pro, which features a removable battery; features a 4,050mAh power cell with support for 15W fast charging; also has two programmable buttons for quick actions; is set to launch on Verizon in the first half of this year for $500 . link

UK-based currency exchange Travelex says it has managed to get some of its systems back up and running after a ransomware attack took it down at the end of last year; the firm notes its customer-facing systems are yet to be restored, but says it’s making progress; the cyberattack has also impacted Travelex’s services for HSBC and others . link

Sweden-based UAV infrastructure inspection firm Skyqraft raises $500k led by Antler; the startup provides AI-powered drone services for monitoring the condition of power-lines; Skyqraft has launched pilot schemes with energy companies Eon and New York Gas and Electric . link

Regulators in India order investigations into Amazon and Walmart-controlled Flipkart following allegations of anticompetitive practices; the Competition Commission of India (CCI) says investigators will look into the firms’ exclusive agreements with certain mobile phone companies, as well as other arrangements . link

Ride-hailing firm Grab names Nguyen Thai Hai Van as managing director for its Vietnamese operations; Van replaces Jerry Lim, who will remain with the company, overseeing regional customer experience from Singapore; Van previously spent 17 years at Unilever Vietnam as VP of beauty and personal care . link

The Indian economy lost at least $1.3B last year due to internet shutdowns, according to Top10VPN; disruptions to connectivity caused Iraq to lose $2.3B over the same period, while Sudan lost $1.9B; the report estimates such shutdowns cost the global economy $8B in 2019 . link

ToursByLocals, a Canada-based online travel firm, raises $33M from Tritium Partners; represents the first outside funding for the 10-year-old company; ToursByLocals offers 30k tours operated by more than 4k guides . link

A UK court convicts 29-year-old Anwar Batson for participating in a scheme to hack lottery players; Batson helped other hackers infiltrate 27k user accounts for the National Lottery website; the hackers accessed users’ names, contact details, and dates of birth; the National Lottery says its actual game mechanics were unaffected . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will launch 5G-capable iPhones in the US, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the UK this year; Kuo suggests Apple might not activate 5G functionality in all markets, suggesting it depends on the network penetration for each country . link

UK-based edtech startup Jolt raises $14.1M Series A led by Balderton Capital with participation from Hillsven Capital and Octopus Ventures; the firm offers on-site business classes that students can sign up for via a mobile app; has raised $23.3M to date . link

The New York Times profiles the use of facial recognition tech by US law enforcement; notes the limitations of the tech to identify individuals from less-than-clear footage; NYPD police commissioner James O’Neill has suggested image recognition is not used as the only basis for an arrest, but the report says some agencies are doing just that . link

The We Company sells workplace management unit Teem to iOffice for less than $50M, according to sources for The Information; The We Company acquired Teem for $90M in 2018; The We Company has also sold adtech division Conductor, and is expected to divest itself of Meetup.com and Managed by Q . link

Smartphone firm OnePlus says it has developed a 2K display with a 120Hz refresh rate; it’s unclear if or when the company will use it in a consumer device; OnePlus 7 Pro features a 90Hz screen . link

Canadian prosecutors say charges against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou relate to fraud, rather than US sanctions; Meng’s lawyers have previously sought to stay proceedings against her, claiming the charges do not fully satisfy Canadian law; Meng was arrested in Vancouver in Dec 2018; she has been held in Canada since then, and is fighting extradition to the US . link

Purported images of Samsung Galaxy S20 leak; the successor to the Galaxy S10, it has an embedded selfie camera, and seemingly four lenses on the back; Samsung is expected to unveil the device on Feb 11 . link

The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) is calling on Myriad Genetics and other genetics-based diagnostics firms to add their testing data to a public database; follows a report highlighting Myriad’s proprietary work linking a gene to breast cancer, only to later change its classification; ACMG says many other labs already contribute to a publicly-available dataset . link

India-based fintech startup epiFi raises $13.2M seed led by Sequoia India and Ribbit Capital; the firm is developing a range of digital banking services; founded last year by Sujith Narayanan and Sumit Gwalani, who both helped launch Google Tez (since rebranded Google Pay) . link

Huawei claims it’s selling 100k foldable devices each month; the company launched its first foldable, the Mate X, in November; it’s available in China only and sells for ~$2.4k; the company has said it will launch Mate X in Europe in Q1 . link

Andrew Parker, head of UK intelligence service MI5, says he’s confident the country’s security relationship with the US would not be impacted if it allowed Huawei to participate in its 5G network; speaking with the Financial Times, Parker notes the UK and the US have a close partnership that is important to both parties; follows reports the British government will likely allow Huawei to participate in non-core parts of the network .Update: UK security minister Brandon Lewis says the government will decide whether to grant Huawei access to Britain’s 5G networks “relatively soon”; comes as US officials are reportedly set to travel to the UK to discuss the issue with their British counterparts . link

The download for 2020-08-04 →


Singapore-based Grab launches a suite of consumer-focused financial products; includes a micro-investments tool, loan offerings, and more; all are available via the company’s main app . link

Microsoft says it’s aiming to achieve zero waste status by 2030; the company also says it will phase out single-use plastics by 2025; Microsoft anticipates it will recycle 90 percent of its waste on-site . link

The Trump administration pulls its third-term nomination for FCC member Mike O’Rielly; O’Rielly, a Republican, has voiced skepticism over whether the FCC can impose rules on how social media firms moderate their own platforms; he has been at the FCC since 2013 . link

Apple will launch this year’s iPhones in two stages, according to sources for DigiTimes; a 6.1-inch iPhone will be available first, with 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch models to follow; Apple has advised its 2020 iPhone lineup will arrive a few weeks later than previous releases . link

UK-based fintech firm TaxScouts raises £5M (~$6.5M) Series A led by Octopus Ventures with participation from SpeedInvest, Seedcamp, and others; the startup offers tax preparation tools; has raised ~$8.5M to date . link

AT&T signs an agreement with the city of San Jose to make 11k 4G hotspots available to local students; San Jose will spend $3.4M on the scheme, while AT&T will commit ~$6M via in-kind services; 8k hotpots will be loaned to school-age students directly, while 3k will be available from the cities libraries; existing public Wi-Fi hubs are also being expanded across the city . link

Facebook signs a lease for all the office space at the 107-year-old James A Farley Building in New York City; Facebook will occupy 730k square feet of the building, which is situated in midtown Manhattan; the deal mean Facebook now has 2.2 million square feet of offices across the city . link

Apple denies a patent claim by China-based Xiao-i (aka Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology); Xiao-i is seeking $1.4B in damages, alleging Siri violates its voice-recognition tech; Apple says Siri does not include features covered by Xiao-i’s IP . link

Intuit ($81.3B market cap) acquires Singapore-based inventory and order management firm TradeGecko; terms undisclosed, though Bloomberg sources say the deal is worth more than $80M; Intuit will integrate TradeGecko with its Quickbooks product; raised more than $20M to date . link

The Chinese government will prevent Microsoft from acquiring TikTok, says state-backed news outlet China Daily; the editorial says China will not allow the White House to orchestrate such a deal, noting it has “plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab” . link

NY-based e-commerce marketing platform MikMak raises $10M Series A led by Wavecrest Growth Partners with participation from Luminari Capital and others; the company offers real-time insights for multichannel brands such as Colgate and Hershey’s; has raised $14M to date . link

Google signs partnerships with multiple banks as it prepares to offer banking services to Google Pay users; the company includes Bank Mobile, BBVA USA, BMO, and others; Google previously secured agreements with Citi and SFCU; Google will offer customer-facing services, but the accounts themselves will be handled by FDIC-backed institutions; expected to launch in 2021 . link

Virgin Galactic reveals the initial design for a planned commercial airline craft that will carry passengers at speeds above Mach 3; the company also announced a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce, which produces aircraft engines; Virgin said in May it would work with NASA to develop a commercial passenger craft that would fly above 60k feet . link

OH-based EV company Lordstown Motors to go public via merger with SPAC DiamondPeak Holdings Corp; competitors Nikola and Fisker each went public through SPAC mergers in recent months; DiamondPeak is currently listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol DPHC with a $1.6B market cap; the combined entity will remain on the Nasdaq under the symbol RIDE . link

The Department of Justice is examining Intuit's $7B acquisition of Credit Karma due to antitrust concerns; the deal came after Credit Karma launched a free tax preparation service that competes with Intuit's TurboTax; Intuit represented 67 percent of the online tax preparation market last year . link

Snapchat to test a new feature enabling users to add music to their videos, much like TikTok; the feature will allow a user to start with a song and produce a video to match, or to add a track after recording a video; the company has deals with Warner, Universal, and others, and says it will offer a robust catalog . link

Dieter Bohn reviews Google's Pixel 4A for The Verge; he says the $350 price point is the most important thing to remember about the device, which is stripped to the bare essentials but gets them right; offers an excellent camera for photos but mediocre video; decent battery life but lacks wireless charging; performance can stutter; 5.8-inch, 1080p, OLED display . link

Google announces three new Pixel devices: the 5G-equipped Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G (both shipping this fall), and the Pixel 4A, shipping Aug 20; the budget 4A is available for preorders now at $350; the 4A 5G will run $500; pricing for the Pixel 5 is undetermined . link

Dish acquires mobile service provider Ting Mobile; terms undisclosed; as part of the deal, Ting parent Tucows will provide backend mobile services (billing, provisioning, etc) for Dish's coming nationwide network; Dish closed its acquisition of Boost Mobile on July 1, gaining 9M subscribers and seven years of access to T-Mobile's network; Dish is currently seeking vendors to build out 5G infrastructure . link

Mobile banking company Varo obtains national bank charter and regulatory approvals to establish Varo Bank, NA; currently, Varo relies on Bancorp to control customer accounts; going forward, accounts will transfer to Varo Bank; Varo noted it was the first US consumer fintech company to obtain a bank charter . link

Apple removed ~30k apps from its Chinese App Store on Saturday, according to research firm Qimai; earlier this year the company gave publishers until the end of June to submit Chinese government-issued licenses for in-app purchases; industry sources speaking with Reuters said the licensing process was too complicated for some smaller publishers . link

The download for 2020-08-03 →


Shanghai-based AI firm Zhizhen Network files a $1.43B patent infringement suit against Apple; Zhizhen recently won a patent for a voice assistant similar to Siri; the suit seeks to block the Chinese production, sale, and use of products using the contested tech, which describes virtually all of Apple's offerings . link

Zoom says it will suspend direct sales in China from Aug 23; the company notes it’s moving to a “partner-only model,” working with Bizconf Communications, Suiri Zhumu Video Conference, and Systec Umeet, who will offer its commercial products; Zoom says its making the change to provide better local support . link

China-based AI tech firm Xiao-i files a 10B yuan (~$1.4B) patent infringement lawsuit against Apple; Xiao-i claims Apple’s Siri assistant violates its voice-recognition tech; Xiao-i first lodged a legal complaint about the issue in 2012 . link

SoftBank has spent ~$3.8B on stock buybacks between July 1 and Aug 3; the company purchased 63.2M during the period; it has spent ~$9.5B on buybacks since March . link

ByteDance plans to establish a London HQ, according to British newspaper The Sun; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved the move; an official announcement is expected soon; The Sun indicates ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming and former TikTok CEO Alex Zhu may also relocate to London . link

Healthtech firm Lemonaid Health raises $33M Series B led by Olive Tree Ventures with participation from Artis Ventures and others; the company operates a telemedicine primary care platform; has raised $55M to date . link

Stic Investments plans to invest $200M in Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab, according to Bloomberg sources; Stic will invest $100M from one of its existing funds, while raising the rest from other backers; Stic has ~$4.5B under management . link

A court in China has ruled against Tencent and ByteDance in two separate data handling cases; the Beijing Internet Court says Tencent subsidies WeChat and WeRead cannot share user data; ByteDance-owned Douyin (the Chinese-language version of TikTok) was found to have inappropriately used public data to generate suggested follower lists . link

India-based hotel service Oyo names Ryoma Yamamoto as CEO of its Japanese business; the company has also promoted Ryota Tanozaki to serve as Yamamoto’s deputy; comes as the Oyo merges its hotel-booking and short-term rental units . link

ByteDance accuses Facebook of “plagiarism and smears”; the company made the comments via its news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao; China-based ByteDance also says it has faced “unimaginable difficulties” in becoming a global firm; the post did not discuss the possible sale of TikTok to Microsoft . link

At least one other large firm has shown interest in acquiring TikTok, according to Bloomberg sources; some of ByteDance’s investors have also looked at owning a direct stake in the social app; aside from Microsoft, it’s unclear if any other discussions are still ongoing . link

Facebook has blocked 12 accounts belonging to allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro; the country’s Supreme Court ordered the move earlier this year because the individuals are facing charges of spreading false news online; the court notes Facebook had not fully complied with a previous order; Facebook denies the claim, calling the ruling “extreme”; Twitter was also told to block 16 accounts, though the company has filed an appeal . link

All-In E6: Big Tech Antitrust AftermathJason speaks with Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks, and David Friedberg about the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook; they discuss how an M&A clampdown could affect Silicon Valley and more . link

SpaceX returns NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to Earth via the Crew Dragon capsule, ending their two-month mission aboard the International Space Station; represents SpaceX's first completed passenger mission, intended to prove Crew Dragon's capabilities; SpaceX plans crewed missions in September and the spring . link

Court documents reveal how the FBI identified three suspects in the July 15 Twitter hack, which saw high profile accounts hijacked as part of a crypto scam; 17-year-old Graham Clark allegedly accessed one of Twitter's internal Slack workspaces to attain credentials for one of Twitter's tech support tools, then used a spear-phishing attack to bypass two-factor authentication . link

London's TechHub files for administration 10 years after Elizabeth Varley and Mike Butcher founded it; Varley said the pandemic resulted in a 75-percent reduction in revenues as startups stopped using the spaces; she said tenants raised $1B-plus over the years; Divide sold to Google and Nexmo sold to Vonage . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Nikola Founder Trevor Milton about competing with Tesla, Nikola's business model, why hydrogen hasn't taken off, how and why the trucking industry is phasing out diesel, how WeWork's downfall pushed Nikola to go public, going public as a pre-revenue company, more . link

This Week in Startups: Emergency Pod!Jason reacts to the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook; Jason grades legislators' performance and that of the executives; lawmakers addressed Amazon's alleged use of data from third-party marketplace sellers to inform the development of Amazon's private-label products, more . link

Apple is asking its retail landlords in the UK to waive rent for a period and to reduce rent by 50 percent, The Sunday Times reports; the company operates 38 retail locations in the UK, and reportedly has offered to extend leases with those that accept the terms; retail landlords in the UK have reduced rent for other tenants due to a pandemic-related drop in foot traffic . link

Pro sports teams are testing the use of facial-recognition tech to reduce the spread of coronavirus at events; the Los Angeles Football Club plans to use facial recognition cameras in conjunction with fans' Ticketmaster profiles for stadium admission; the Mets are using facial recognition to authenticate players entering the stadium and might roll out the system for fan admission . link

Microsoft pauses negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance after President Trump opposed the deal, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; after Trump expressed opposition, ByteDance Founder Zhang Yiming reportedly agreed to sell his stake in TikTok and TikTok agreed to add 10k jobs in the US over three years; it's unclear if Trump is considering the concessions . link

The download for 2020-08-02 →


Microsoft to shut down the Cortana apps for iOS and Android next year; will also remove Cortana from the first-generation Surface Headphones and Harman Kardon's Invoke speakers; the company will end support for third-party Cortana skills next month . link

Apple acquires Canadian payment acceptance company Mobeewave for ~$100M, according to Bloomberg sources; the company's app enables users to accept contactless payments from other phones and credit/debit cards; the app only requires NFC, which iPhones have featured for years; previously raised $26.6M . link

President Trump to prohibit TikTok from operating in the US; he told reporters on Friday night that he would sign a document on Saturday banning the app; Bloomberg reported Friday that the administration would order ByteDance to sell TikTok's US operations and that Microsoft was in talks to acquire it (with ByteDance retaining a stake); White House adviser Peter Navarro previously said a sale would not resolve the TikTok problem .Update: ByteDance agrees to divest itself completely of TikTok, according to Reuters sources; the Chinese company previously sought to retain a stake but the White House rejected the proposal; under the new reported terms, Microsoft would take control of TikTok's US operations and some US investors would have the option to take minority stakes . link

The FAA authorizes Rocket Lab to resume launches three weeks after a failed mission in which an engine shut down early, causing an Electron rocket and all satellites on board to burn up in the atmosphere; the company expects to launch this month from New Zealand . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Big Sky Health CEO Mike Maser about learning to run a business at scale, focusing on what matters as a veteran founder, why consumers are willing to pay for great software, using SaaS burner cards, building Zero Fasting with Kevin Rose, more . link

The download for 2020-08-01 →


Apple ($1.84T market cap) surpasses Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco to become the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world; Apple stock closed up more than 10 percent on Friday following a record-breaking earnings report; the company generated $59.7B in revenue in FQ3, up 11 percent year-over-year . link

Inflight Wi-Fi provider Gogo ($243M market cap) lays off 143 employees representing ~14 percent of the IL company's workforce; Gogo furloughed 600 workers and cut executive pay in April; the company was transitioning from air-to-ground communications to satellite networks before the pandemic, and previously said its plans to transition to 5G in 2021 were unaffected by furloughs . link

Authorities have charged three people for their alleged roles in the July 15 Twitter breach, in which the attackers hijacked high profile accounts to perpetrate a bitcoin scam; authorities have accused a 17-year-old FL boy with orchestrating the attack, convincing a Twitter employee to provide credentials for internal tools . link

President Trump to prohibit TikTok from operating in the US; he told reporters on Friday night that he would sign a document on Saturday banning the app; Bloomberg reported Friday that the administration would order ByteDance to sell TikTok's US operations and that Microsoft was in talks to acquire it; White House adviser Peter Navarro previously said a sale would not resolve the TikTok problem . link

The download for 2020-07-31 →


Atlassian acquires Jira-based asset management firm Mindville; terms undisclosed; Mindville, headquartered in Sweden, provides tools for tracking and handling enterprise assets . link

Japan-based Rakuten announces the closure of its US marketplace, formerly known as buy.com; Rakuten Marketplace US will shut down over two months; Rakuten notes it will continue to operate its cash back rewards service, which it established after acquiring Ebates in 2014 . link

Social video app firm Triller files a patent infringement lawsuit against TikTok; Trillier is accusing TikTok of violating “systems and methods for creating music videos synchronized with an audio track”; Triller co-founders David Leiberman and Samuel Rubin secured the patent in 2017; TechCrunch indicates Triller may also file a lawsuit against Facebook over Instagram’s TikTok-like Reels . link

China-based ByteDance is considering an Hong Kong IPO for its domestic operations, according to Reuters sources; the firm is also weighing whether to list TikTok and other non-Chinese businesses in Europe or the US; a Hong Kong listing is expected to value ByteDance at more than $100B . link

Google teases a phone launch for Aug 3; expected to be the long-rumored Pixel 4A; a link to a Google Store page displays lorem ipsum text that seemingly hints at camera features including low-light performance, image bokeh, and more . link

Jeff Bezos wanted Amazon to purchase Ring for its position in the market, rather than for its tech; in email released by the House Judiciary Committee, Bezos noted “that market position and momentum is very valuable”; Amazon acquired Ring in 2018 for ~$840M . link

Amazon ($1.5T market cap) Q2 beats: $88.9B revenue, up 40 percent year-on-year ($81.6B expected); $10.30 EPS ($1.46 expected); $10.8B AWS revenue, up 29 percent year-on-year . link

Facebook ($669B market cap) Q2 beats: $18.7B market cap, up 11 percent year-on-year ($17.4B expected); $5.2B net income, up 98 percent year-on-year; 1.8B DAUs, up 12 percent year-on-year; 2.7B MAUs, up 12 percent year-on year . link

Self-driving tech firm Argo AI has a valuation of $7.5B; the confirmation comes several months after Volkswagen completed a $2.6B investment in the firm; Ford invested $1B in Argo in 2017; VW and Ford will each eventually hold a 40 percent stake in the company . link

Chip imports to China via Hong Kong have risen 11 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2020; the trade saw a 21 percent year-on-year climb in June alone; the South China Morning Post notes there is an expectation among importers that US sanctions will soon outlaw such operations . link

Apple’s board approves a four-for-one stock split; for each share an investor holds, they will soon own four, thereby reducing the buying price of a single stock; the split will occur Aug 24, with trading on a split-adjusted basis starting Aug 31 . link

Apple confirms its new iPhone models will launch a few weeks later than they typically do; exact launch date undisclosed, but Apple usually launches its iPhones in mid to late September; follows Qualcomm’s disclosure that its earnings would be impacted by the delayed release a 5G iPhone from a key customer . link

Apple (~$1.7T market cap) Q3 beats: $59.7B revenue, up 11 percent year-on-year ($52.2B expected); $2.58 EPS ($2.04 expected); $26.4B iPhone revenue ($22.4B expected); $13.2B services revenue ($13.2B expected); Apple’s stock climbed 5 percent in after-hours trading . link

The download for 2020-07-30 →


Healthtech firm Sema4 raises $121M Series C on a $1B post-money valuation led by BlackRock with participation from Deerfield Management Company and others; Sema4 offers predictive health analysis tools; has raised $241M to date . link

Marketing services firm Infobip raises $200M on a post-money valuation of more than $1B from One Equity Partners, according to Reuters sources; Infobip, founded in Croatia but based in London, offers omnichannel marketing tools to enterprise customers . link

Direct-to-consumer hearing aid firm Eargo raises $71M Series E led by Glide Healthcare and Longitude Capital with participation from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation and others; the company offers devices, online hearing screenings, and more; has raised $206M to date . link

Walmart rolls out a voice assistant for use by its in-store workforce; known as Ask Sam, the tool lets staff look up prices, find products, access store maps, and more; the system was initially developed for Walmart-owned Sam’s Club . link

Some ByteDance investors posit TikTok could be worth $50B as a standalone firm, according to Reuters sources; the valuation is 50 times TikTok’s projected 2020 revenue of $1B; by comparison, Snap is valued at $33B, equal to 15 times its projected 2020 revenue; follows reports some of ByteDance’s US investors want to acquire a majority stake in TikTok . link

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer says the company will share code showing how its content-moderation system works; in a post announcing the move, Mayer says Facebook and others should do the same; Mayer also accuses Facebook of “maligning attacks,” that he says are “disguised as patriotism” . link

Google announces an iOS app for backing up device data (currently available to Google One customers using an Android smartphone); Google notes it will make smartphone backup free to all users, irrespective of whether they have a Google One premium plan or not; unclear when the new features will be available . link

The House Judiciary Committee questioned Sundar Pichai over Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007; Google co-founder Sergey Brin initially promised the company would not mix its own user data with DoubleClick’s, but later changed that policy in 2016; Pichai confirmed he personally signed off on the change . link

Snap publishes its first diversity report; women account for 32.9 percent of the company’s global workforce, up 0.9 percent since 2018; women are 16 percent of Snapchat’s tech teams, leadership of which is 7 percent female; Black employees account for 4.1 percent of the firm’s workforce, while Hispanic staff are 6.8 percent; Snap’s leadership is 70.4 percent White, 16.5 Asian, 2.6 percent Black, 2.6 Hispanic, 0.9 percent Native American/Pacific Islander, 7 percent multiracial .Snap says it will hire twice as many women in tech roles by 2023; it also plans to double the number of employees from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups by the same year . link

Jeff Bezos says he does not remember signing off on a plan to undercut competitor Quidsi before buying it in 2010; Rep Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) cited emails showing Amazon was prepared to lose $200M a month on diapers as it sought to weaken the parent firm of diapers.com; Bezos says he is also unsure about the details of Project Cheetah, an internal plan to purportedly target small publishers . link

Personal workout firm Tempo raises $60M Series B led by Norwest Venture Partners and General Catalyst with participation from Founders Fund and others; the company offers a home gym system offering online classes and more; has raised ~$80M to date . link

Apple agreed to cut its App Store fees in half for Amazon’s Prime Video app in 2016; emails released as part of a Congressional probe show Apple SVP Eddy Cue and Jeff Bezos were directly involved in the negotiations; Apple settled on 15 percent commission for those who signed up for Prime Video in-app, and also added Siri support . link

The download for 2020-07-29 →


India-based edtech firm Toppr raises $46M Series D led by Foundation Holdings with participation from Kaizen Private Equity; Toppr offers exam preparation services to school-age students; has raised $92M to date . link

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) says next year’s CES will be an all-digital event; citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CTA says it’s working out how best to connect exhibitors, the media, and customers . link

Elon Musk says Tesla is open to licensing its tech to competitors; in a tweet, Musk also suggests the firm could provide powertrains and batteries to other companies; in response to another Twitter user, Musk seems to suggest third-parties could license Tesla’s autopilot . link

On-demand electric moped firm Revel suspends operations in NYC following the death of a rider; the 32-year-old man reportedly lost control of the bike and collided with a streetlight; it’s the second time this month a Revel rider has died; another was recently critically injured . link

Programming Q&A platform Stack Overflow raises $85M Series E led by GIC with participation from Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz, and others; the company operates a community space for developers to post their coding questions and share answers; has raised $153M to date . link

RangeForce, a cybersecurity training service, raises $16M Series A led by Energy Impact Partners with participation from Trind Ventures and others; the company operates a cloud-based platform to help enterprise customers learn how to handle cyberattacks; has raised $19M to date . link

Jeff Bezos’ prepared remarks for his appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee have been released; Bezos will explain how Amazon employs more than 1M people, and that some of its marketplace sellers earn more than $100k per year; Bezos will also discuss the company’s high brand trust among consumers . link

AMC and Universal Pictures agree to a new theatrical-to-digital window for movies; under the agreement, Universal and its subsidiaries will run their films in theaters for at least three consecutive weekends before a making them available for online purchase; follows a dispute between the companies after the online success of “Trolls: World Tour” . link

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pull a Breitbart video featuring misleading info about the coronavirus pandemic; features a group calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors,” falsely stating hydroxychloroquine and other substances are effective treatments for COVID-19; President Trump has shared several versions of the clip, all of which have been taken down .Facebook says it took the company “longer than expected” to remove the debunked content; the company says it will investigate how the video was able to garner more than 20M views on its platform before any action was taken; the company says it will redirect those who shared or interacted with it to authoritative sources on COVID-19 .Twitter locked Donald Trump Jr’s account for 12 hours after he shared the video; his account Twitter says the tweet was in violation of its COVID-19 misinformation policy; President Trump’s account has not been locked . link

The download for 2020-07-28 →


Google commissions a new undersea fiber cable to link the US and the UK; the company says the line, named Grace Hopper after the computer scientist, will be among the first between the two countries since 2003; it will also route to Spain, the first time a Google cable has connected to the country; its expected to be established in 2022 . link

Biotech firm Geltor raises $91.3M Series B led by CPT Capital with participation from WTT Investment, Cultivian Sandbox, and others; Geltor produces animal-free proteins such as collagen and elastin; has raised $116.3M to date . link

OpenSpace, a service for capturing and hosting 360-degree images of construction sites, raises $15.9M Series B led by Menlo Ventures; images are captured by workers on location, and then stitched together by OpenSpace’s AI-powered cloud platform; has raised $33.4M to date . link

Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade has asked Facebook to explain the merchant fees for its WhatsApp payments product; Cade says it’s also trying to ascertain whether other card services firms can join the platform; Brazil blocked WhatsApp’s remittance product shortly after launch . link

Language learning app Tandem raises £4.5M (~$5.7M) Series A led by Brighteye Ventures with participation from Trind Ventures and others; the Germany-based firm connects users who are looking to practice a second language; supports English, Spanish, French, and more . link

Tencent makes a ~$3.5B bid to take full control of China-based search company Sogou, reports The Register; Tencent currently owns ~40 percent of the firm, and is offering $9 apiece for the shares it doesn’t hold; Sogou says it’s considering the offer; if approved, Sogou will delist from the New York Stock Exchange .Bloomberg says Tencent is offering $2.1B for the outstanding shares; the $9 per share bid is a 57 percent premium on Sogou’s July 24 closing price . link

Ma Wei-Ying, head of ByteDance’s AI lab, is leaving the company, according to a source for The Information; Beijing-based Ma has overseen research for ByteDance’s various subsidiaries, including TikTok; Ma will be taking up a new post at China’s Tsinghua University . link

Facebook files a legal challenge over document requests by the European Commission (EC); the company says the EC’s solicitations are overly broad, and that it’s being asked to hand over “predominantly irrelevant” files such as personnel paperwork that includes medical and financial data . link

Healthtech firm Ro (aka Roman) raises $200M on a $1.5B post-money valuation led by General Catalyst; Ro offers direct-to-user prescription products; has raised $376M . link

Hong Kong-based fintech firm EMQ raises $20M Series B led by WI Harper Group with participation from AppWorks, Abu Dhabi Capital, and others; provides cross-border remittance tools to financial services companies; has raised $26.5M to date . link

Analytics platform Waydev discloses a data breach; hackers have taken GitHub and GitLab OAuth tokens from its servers; the company says those tokens are now being leveraged to attack other firms; follows the hack of banking app Dave . link

Murthy Renduchintala, chief engineering officer at Intel, steps down; Renduchintala oversaw the firm’s Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group; the division is being split into five distinct teams - architecture, technology development, design engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain management; the heads of each unit will directly report to CEO Bob Swan . link

Amazon says it will expand its Fresh grocery service in the UK; Fresh operates in partnership with supermarket chain Morrisons, and is currently available in select parts of the country; will be rolled out to new locations including Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Manchester by the end of the year . link

The download for 2020-07-27 →


Huawei is cutting as much as 70 percent of its staff in India, according to sources for The Economic Times; the firm is also reducing its regional revenue target for 2020 by up to 50 percent; follows moves by the Indian government banning state-backed carriers from using Huawei and ZTE equipment . link

Raymond James analyst Chris Caso says Intel’s delay in producing 7nm chips is a “stunning failure”; Caso posits it could signal the end of Intel’s market dominance; also cites Intel’s consideration to outsource some of its manufacturing to third parties . link

TN-based SaaS firm FreightWaves raises $37M from Kayne Partners Fund and an undisclosed backer; FreightWaves provides analysis and other info to logistics firms; has raised $75M to date . link

Shares in Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC rise 9.6 percent to $73.90 apiece; follows Intel’s announcement its 7nm chips are delayed; AMD has also seen its share price rise since Intel’s disclosure . link

India is considering banning an additional 275 China-based apps, according to sources for The Economic Times; includes Alibaba’s AliExpress and battle royale game “PubG”; the government previously blocked 59 apps such as WeChat and TikTok .Update: the Indian government has banned 47 apps for facilitating access to previously blocked services such as TikTok; includes Cam Scanner Advance, which links users to the prohibited Cam Scanner app . link

The European Commission says EU nations must do more to diversify the equipment used in their 5G networks; the EU previously committed to not let a single supplier gain market dominance; follows a report France has instituted a de facto ban against Huawei . link

SAP announces a spin out and IPO for survey company Qualtrics; SAP acquired the firm for $8B in 2018; Qualtrics co-founder and former CEO Ryan Smith will lead the standalone unit once again; SAP will retain a majority stake, but Smith will be Qualtrics’ largest individual shareholder .Watch Jason speak with Smith on This Week in Startups: link

China-based EV firm Li Auto plans to raise as much as $950M via a US IPO; Li is aiming to sell 95M shares at $8 to $10 apiece; the unprofitable company produces SUVs with a starting price of ~$21k . link

4chan users post leaked files purportedly containing archive data for classic Nintendo games; includes source code and development files for “Super Mario World,” “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” and more; details of the breach unknown, but some speculate it’s linked to an earlier hack which led to Pokemon code appearing online . link

Banking app Dave acknowledges it has suffered a security breach; unclear exactly how many people are affected, but records for 7.5M users have appeared online; includes names, phone numbers, email addresses, and more; Dave says the hackers gained access via third-party analytics platform Waydev . link

European Data Protection Board warns there is no regulatory grace period after the Court of Justice struck down Privacy Shield, a data-flow arrangement between the EU and US; companies still using the mechanism to transfer data are doing so illegally, and must find another mechanism by which to protect data from US surveillance . link

Entri, an Indian startup offering educational resources for employment exams, raises $3.1M; offers video classes, study cards, and exams in multiple languages; claims 3M users, up from 1.5M earlier this year; claims ~90k paid subscribers and ~10k new paid subscribers each month; raised $4.3M to date . link

Seoul-based Riiid, which develops an AI-powered test prep platform, raises $41.8M; the Santa platform, accessible via web and chatbot, prepares learners for the Test of English for International Communication, which is used by employers; raised $70.2M to date . link

Purported Oculus Quest marketing image leaked on Twitter with the date September 15; the tweet came from user WalkingCat, who has released credible leaks in the past; Nikkei Asian Review recently reported Oculus planned to begin mass production of a new headset around the end of July . link

Google is replacing Nest thermostats suffering a Wi-Fi chip error that prevents remote control; affected devices continue to work, and users can adjust them manually . link

Instagram says it's fixing a bug that causes the app to indicate the camera is in use when it isn't; swiping to the Camera from the Feed and other actions can set the indicator off; Instagram said the app does not access the camera in those instances and does not record . link

An unknown hacker has been sabotaging the Emotet botnet, which sends emails containing or linking to malicious Office files that download malware from hacked WordPress sites to target systems; the hacker has been replacing malicious payloads with harmless animated GIFs; Emotet was down for ~five months but reactivated last week; the vigilante began the sabotage shortly thereafter . link

Garmin's recent outage, which affected the company's call centers, wearables, apps, and services for aircraft pilots, was a result of a WastedLocker ransomware attack, according to a Garmin employee speaking with BleepingComputer; the company publicly attributed the downtime to a virus . link

The download for 2020-07-26 →


Apple provides retail team members and hourly workers with up to four hours paid time off for Election Day; workers can use the time for voting or to volunteer at a polling place . link

NY-based health insurance company Oscar Health raises $225M from Alphabet, General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, others; serves 420k members across 15 states, providing direct-to-consumer health insurance; raised $1.5B to date . link

Cybersecurity company CyCognito raises $30M Series B led by Accel; identifies and eliminates critical security risks in IT ecosystems; the funding will enable expansion of sales, marketing, and engineering teams; raised $53M to date . link

CalypsoAI, which provides Vespr platform for validating, monitoring, and securing AI, raises $13M Series A led by Paladin Capital Group; serves businesses and governments with software for reducing bias, monitoring for compliance, more; raised $15.2M to date . link

TikTok blocks multiple hashtags associated with the QAnon conspiracy theories from search results, BBC reports; the company did not remove videos using the hashtags; affected hashtags include link

AB Tasty, which operates AI-powered platforms for product personalization, experimentation, and optimization, raises $40M Series C led by Credit Mutuel Innovation; provides analytics, product recommendation APIs, more; clients include Avid, Sephora, and USA Today; raised ~$66M to date . link

House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee reschedules hearing with big tech CEOs for noon Eastern on Wednesday; the subcommittee postponed the hearing, originally slated for Monday, due to a service for civil rights leader Rep John Lewis, who died on July 17; the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are slated to appear at the hearing; Republicans have requested Jack Dorsey appear . link

The download for 2020-07-25 →


Headphone company Koss files patent infringement suits against five competitors, including Apple and Bose; Koss disclosed last year that its Intellectual Property Enforcement Program would target licensing agreements and potentially suits; the company alleges competitors stole IP from its Striva line or products . link

Special purpose acquisition company Dragoneer Growth Opportunities files for IPO with a $600M raise target; Dragoneer will invest an additional $150M to merge with an as yet undetermined target; will focus on financial services, consumer, retail, more; previously invested in Uber, Slack, Alibaba . link

Apple begins production of the flagship iPhone 11 at the Foxconn factory in Chennai; marks the first time the company has built a top-of-the-line iPhone in India; sources speaking with The Economic Times said Apple might export the device to reduce reliance on Chinese production; the company reportedly is considering producing the new iPhone SE in Bengaluru . link

Verizon ($235B market cap) Q2 beats: $30.4B revenue, down 5.1 percent year-over-year ($29.98B expected); $1.18 EPS, down from $1.23 for the year-earlier period ($1.16 expected); 119.9M active wireless connections; 3.7 percent device upgrade rate, down from 4.3 percent for the year-earlier period . link

Instacart says reused passwords enabled cybercriminals to steal data belonging to 200k-plus users, and that the company's systems were not breached or compromised; thieves listed the data, which included names and partial card numbers, for sale on the dark web; Instacart said the thieves obtained the data from caches from third-party site and app hacks . link

National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and TikTok enter a licensing agreement covering TikTok's past use of works from the three major music publishers and multiple independent labels; also provides opt-in options for future use; the NMPA previously accused TikTok of consistently violating copyrights and indicated a lawsuit was likely . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Masterworks Founder and CEO Scott Lynn about art as an asset class, the indicators of rapidly appreciating art, the impact of globalization and COVID-19 on Masterworks' investing volume, the most valuable piece of art in the world, more . link

The latest beta version of macOS Big Sur includes references to a TrueDepth camera and other terms indicating that Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac; Apple previously said that Macs running the company's in-house chips would feature the same Neural Engine as iPhone and iPad; Apple plans to launch its first Arm-based Mac this year, and it could feature Face ID . link

Rivian plans to begin deliveries of the R1T pickup truck in June of next year and deliveries of the R1S SUV in August 2021; the company has launched a pilot production line at its Normal, IL facility; Rivian had intended to launch the vehicles at the end of this year but postponed due to the pandemic . link

Financial services company Revolut raises $80M Series D from TSG Consumer Partners at a $5.5B valuation, bringing the round total to $580M; provides mobile-first banking, payments, currency exchange, more; claims 12M users . link

The EU's conditions for Google's $2.1B acquisition of Fitbit require that Google make Fitbit data available to third parties, according to Ars Technica sources; the EU also demanded Google promise it wouldn't use Fitbit data to enhance its search advantage; sources said a refusal from Google would likely result in a prolonged investigation . link

The Department of Energy announces a plan to develop a quantum internet to run alongside the existing Web; the department's Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar indicated some of the federal government's $500M-$700M in annual quantum investments would fund the project but didn't detail expected costs . link

Garmin suffers outage affecting its wearables, apps, and call centers; the company hasn't revealed details but employees said on social media the outage was the result of a ransomware attack; an internal memo attributed the downtime to a virus . link

The download for 2020-07-24 →


AR startup Mira raises $10M seed (extension) led by Sequoia and Happiness Ventures; the company offers an AR headset aimed at industrial use; has raised ~$13M to date . link

Digital asset management platform Cambrian raises $4.2M seed from Howard Morgan, the Charles Johnson Family Office, and others; Cambrian offers tools for accredited investors and family offices . link

Google is removing fees for merchants who use its Buy on Google checkout service; companies have previously been charged a commission of 5 percent to 15 percent for products sold through Google Express or its Search pages; Google is also adding support for third-party payment providers Shopify and PayPal . link

NY lawmakers approve a bill to suspend the use of facial recognition tech within schools for two years; is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law will block such tech until July 1 2022; the city of Lockport, NY, approved the use of facial recognition tools in schools earlier this year; the New York Civil Liberties Union has since filed a lawsuit against the city . link

Facebook Messenger adds broadcast support for video chats; allows Messenger Rooms conversations featuring up to 50 participants to be live-streamed to a broader audience; Messenger Room creators can moderate those on the call and choose who can view the live stream . link

Intel CEO Bob Swan says the company could outsource chip manufacturing to third-parties; speaking during an earnings call, Swan notes such a move would give the company more flexibility; Intel has produced its own chips since it was founded in 1968 . link

HBO Max attracted 4.1M subscribers in its first month, according to parent firm AT&T; by comparison, Disney+ brought in more than 10M customers in its first 24 hours; AT&T says it’s aiming for 50M HBO and HBO Max customers by 2025; speaking during an earnings call, AT&T CEO John Stankey criticized Amazon for not making HBO Max available on its platform . link

SpaceX is in talks to raise ~$1B on a valuation of ~$44B, according to Bloomberg sources; SpaceX is expected to secure the funding within a couple of months; Morgan Stanley recently predicted SpaceX could eventually be worth as much as $175B; has raised ~$3.5B to date . link

France-based enterprise collaboration platform iObeya raises $17M led by Red River West with participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital and Fortino Capital Partners; offers an online environment for teams working across multiple sites; has raised $20M to date . link

Twitter ($30.2B market cap) Q2 mixed: $683M revenue, down 19 percent year-on-year ($707M expected); $1.39 LPS; ad revenue down 23 percent year-on-year; 186M monetizable DAUs, up 34 percent year-on-year (172.8M expected); Twitter’s share rose 4.1 percent after the report . link

Intel delays the launch of 7nm processors by six months; the company is now 12 months behind its internal goals; Intel says the hold up is because of degradation issues within its yields; the firm notes Granite Rapids, its first planned 7nm chips, are now not expected to appear in devices until 2022 or 2023 . link

Intel ($256B market cap) Q2 beats with $19.73B ($18.55B expected); $1.23 EPS ($1.11 expected); the company expects $18.2B revenue for FQ3; Intel did not provide full-year guidance with its FQ1 report due to the pandemic, but issued it with the Q2 report: $75B in revenue, a four-percent increase over last year, and $4.85 EPS (adjusted) . link

Customer contact platform Talkdesk raises $143M Series C from Franklin Templeton, Lead Edge Capital, and others; the $3B valuation roughly triples that of a Series B in Oct 2018; revenue for the quarter ending April 30 was up 100 percent from the year-earlier period; the firm claims 1.1k employees and is hiring aggressively; CEO Tiago Paiva hinted that an IPO could be near; raised $267M to date . link

Facebook to pay $650M to settle a class-action suit over the company's use of facial recognition tech; Facebook revised its proposal after the judge said a $550M payout would not adequately punish the firm; the settlement affects users in IL who had their photos on Facebook after 2011; depending on how many people file claims, the company will pay out between $200 and $400 per person . link

Internal Facebook communications reveal growing criticism of company leadership regarding the handling of President Trump's account, hate speech, more; the company reportedly was slow to take down Nazi and white nationalist content after employees filed reports; employees reportedly have challenged leadership at meetings, more . link

Walmart-owned Flipkart acquires Walmart India: 28 membership-based B2B stores operating as Best Price Modern Wholesale; India prohibits Walmart from selling directly to consumers via superstores and e-commerce operations; the deal, which includes 5.2k employees, will establish Flipkart Wholesale later this summer . link

Tesla files suit against EV company Rivian, alleging theft of trade secrets and poaching of employees; the suit accuses four former employees of stealing IP and taking it to Rivian; the company suspects two others as well; Tesla previously filed suit against former employees who allegedly stole IP for Xpeng Motors and Zoox . link

Jared Kushner called the CEOs of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to complain after a third-party company that screens text messages for carriers blocked mass texts from President Trump's re-election campaign; the carriers reportedly argued that the messages possibly violated FCC rules and federal robocall regulations; the campaign's communications director told Business Insider the blocks amounted to suppression of political speech . link

TikTok announces the $200M Creator Fund to finance US-based creators; starting next month, creators over 18 who consistently post original content, and who have a minimum but unspecified number of followers, can apply for consideration; TikTok will disburse the funds over the coming year . link

TX Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) might sue Apple over deceptive trade practices as part of an investigation involving multiple undisclosed states; the Tech Transparency Project obtained a March document regarding the probe, but it doesn't detail the practices in question . link

Amazon is in preliminary talks to acquire a 9.9-percent stake in Reliance Jio's Reliance Retail, according to Indian news channel ET Now; Reliance Retail is India's largest retail chain, serving 3.5M customers each week; Chairman Mukesh Ambani recently said several suitors had expressed interest in acquiring Reliance Retail . link

Home media server company Plex launches Live TV with 80 channels, available for free to subscribers and unpaid users; the selection includes news, sports, comedy; the service includes a new timeline guide, which Plex plans to integrate with its previously launched product for recording shows . link

The download for 2020-07-23 →


WhatsApp says it plans to offer various financial services to lower-income users in parts of India; the Facebook-owned company has been working with several local banks to explore ways of delivering insurance, credit, and pension services in rural areas; WhatsApp says it's also looking at ways to help digitize SMEs; the firm will pilot several new services, though it’s unclear when they will roll out . link

Apple begins offering modified iPhones to security researchers who wish to hunt for flaws; the devices allow users to run custom programs and provide deeper access to system data; those approved for the program must commit to sharing their findings with Apple . link

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sues YouTube alleging the platform has allowed scammers to use his name and image; Wozniak claims he has asked YouTube to remove videos that use his identity in a scam that falsely promises to double people’s bitcoin; Wozniak says the firm has been unresponsive to his requests . link

UK-based fintech firm Selina Finance raises £42M (~$53M) debt and equity from Picus Capital, Global Founders Capital, and others; offers online credit facilities of up to £1M (~$1.3M) to SMEs . link

Spotify has signed a new multi-year licensing agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG); terms undisclosed; the two companies say they will collaborate on marketing and more; UMG will also get early access to new Spotify features; the Wall Street Journal notes the deal could see UMG paying to access some marketing and data tools . link

Singapore-based influencer marketing platform Partipost raises $3.5M led by SPH Ventures with participation from Quest Ventures and others; Partipost let's anyone sign up to become a brand ambassador; most campaigns require a follower count of at least 200 users . link

The New York Times acquires podcast firm Serial Productions; terms undisclosed; the company was founded by Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, and Ira Glass after the success of their first season of the “Serial” podcast; as part of the deal The New York Times will establish a “creative and strategic alliance” with “This American Life” . link

Twitter says hackers accessed direct messages for 36 of the 130 accounts targeted in a mass attack last week; details of the targets undisclosed, but Twitter notes at least one of them was a Dutch elected official . link

Elon Musk announces Tesla has chosen Austin, TX for its latest plant; the $1B+ facility will be used to produce Cybertruck, as well as Model Y and Model 3 vehicles; Musk says construction on the site began at the weekend; he also says parts of the location will be open to the public, promising a boardwalk, a biking trail, and more . link

Republicans call on Jack Dorsey to testify at a House antitrust hearing on Monday alongside the CEOs from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google; Jim Jordan (R-OH) said in a letter to Democratic leadership that Republicans wanted to question Dorsey about Twitter's position in the marketplace, its content moderation, and recent security breaches . link

Microsoft ($1.61T market cap) FQ4 beats: $38B revenue, up from $33.7B in the year-earlier period ($36.5B expected); $1.46 EPS ($1.37 expected); $11.2B profit, down 15 percent year-over-year; $143B revenue for the fiscal year, up 14 percent; $44.3B full-year profit, up 13 percent . link

Tesla ($295B market cap) Q2 beats: $6.04B revenue ($5.37B expected); $2.18 EPS (adjusted - $0.03 expected); $5.38B automotive revenue, down from $5.18B in the second quarter of last year; $420M in regulatory credits, up from $111.2M in the second quarter of 2019; marks Tesla's fourth consecutive quarter of profitability, making the company eligible for inclusion in the S&P 500 . link

An Apple-commissioned report indicates the company's App Store commissions are comparable to that of other app stores and digital content marketplaces; Analysis Group, the firm Apple previously commissioned for a study that showed Apple didn't take cuts from most App Store transactions, conducted the new research; Apple faces antitrust investigations in the US and UK . link

Nvidia recently expressed interest in acquiring ARM from SoftBank, according to Bloomberg sources; multiple outlets reported this month SoftBank was exploring options to sell ARM or list it publicly; SoftBank acquired ARM for $32B in 2016 . link

Facebook plans action against accounts associated with the QAnon right-wing conspiracy theory, according to employees speaking with The New York Times; Facebook reportedly has been working on the issue in cooperation with multiple social media companies, including Twitter, which recently took action to limit the spread of QAnon content . link

Universal enters licensing agreement with Spotify and joins the latter's two-sided marketplace for marketing, data, more; the companies did not disclose details of the deal; investors have pressured Spotify to create new income streams as it pays out most revenue to labels and publishers; Spotify is expanding to Russia and 12 more Eastern European countries this month . link

Italian antitrust officials search Amazon and Apple's local offices as part of an investigation into whether the companies conspired to prevent retailers that aren't in Apple's official program from selling beats headphones . link

Apple plans a 2022 iPhone with a periscope telephoto lens from South Korean lens supplier Semco, according to analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who previously said Apple was working with Taiwan's Genius Electronic Optical on the initiative; the tech enables strong optical zoom capabilities . link

Samsung unveils the $1.45k Galaxy Z Flip 5G, slated to ship Aug 7; the device has the same body as its 4G predecessor, but with an upgraded Snapdragon 865 Plus processor; supports Sub-6 spectrum, not mmWave; coming to AT&T and T-Mobile in the US; Samsung will also release an unlocked version . link

MN-based Apple device management company Jamf increases its IPO price range from $17-$19 to $21-$23 per share; the midpoint of the new range would value the firm at $2.56B; Vista Equity acquired the majority stake in Jamf for $734M in 2017 . link

Slack files an EU antitrust complaint against Microsoft, alleging the company is abusing its market dominance by bundling Teams with Office 365 and preventing users from separately uninstalling the app; Slack also contests Teams' limited interoperability; Slack requested the EU compel Microsoft to break Teams out of Office 365 and sell it as a standalone product . link

The download for 2020-07-22 →


Insurtech firm Hippo raises $150M Series E on a $1.5B post-money valuation from FinTLV Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and others; the company offers home insurance policies underpinned by the use of satellite imagery, IoT sensors, and more; has raised ~$360M to date . link

Officials in Bangladesh have ordered telcos to stop zero-rating social media platforms; the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission claims cost-free access to such services has led to increased criminal behavior; Facebook operates its Free Basics service in the country, though it’s unclear if it will be affected by the edict . link

Israel-based agritech firm Taranis raises $30M Series C led by Vertex Growth and Orion Fund with participation from Hitachi Ventures and others; Taranis uses drone imagery and AI analysis to monitor the health of crops; has raised $57.5M to date . link

The Pakistani government bans China-based social video app Bigo, citing “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content”; officials have also warned TikTok it could be blocked if it does not improve its moderation . link

Fintech startup Meemo emerges from stealth, raises $10M seed led by Saama Capital, Greycroft, Monashees, and Sierra Ventures; offers a social finance app that promises to reward users for spending with certain merchants; includes a dashboard for viewing credit card spending and more . link

E-commerce firm Rakuten will not renew a lease with WeWork Japan, according to Bloomberg sources; Rakuten has rented ~700 desks from WeWork in Tokyo, but the deal is set to expire next month; Rakuten will relocate those workers to its own offices; WeWork’s occupancy in Japan has reportedly dropped to ~60 percent of its capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic . link

Fiat Chrysler and Waymo expand their partnership to co-develop autonomous cargo vans; the firms will initially adapt Fiat Chrysler’s Ram ProMaster vehicles for use by Waymo’s logistics unit; the agreement indicates the companies could also provide the self-driving vans to third-parties .Update: the deal is exclusive, thereby ending Fiat Chrysler’s 18-month partnership with Aurora, reports the Financial Times; Aurora was founded by former Waymo engineer Chris Urmson . link

Snap ($36B market cap) Q2 mixed: $454M revenue, up 17 percent year-on-year ($439M expected); $326M loss, 28 percent year-on-year; $1.91 ARPU ($1.87 expected); 238M DAUs, up 17 percent year-on-year; the company’s shares fell more than 11 percent in after-hours trading .Snap says the coronavirus pandemic could negatively impact its ad revenue in Q3; the company cites uncertainty over sports leagues and the back-to-school period as areas of concern; Snap notes Q3 is currently up 32 percent year-on-year, but doesn’t necessarily expect it to hold . link

TikTok says it will add 10k jobs in the US Over the next three years; the firm will hire for a range of positions including engineering, sales, and content moderation across CA, NY, and TX; TikTok’s US workforce has almost tripled this year, growing from 500 staff to more than 1.4k . link

Twitter says it will no longer recommend QAnon conspiracy theory content on its platform; the company will limit the spread of QAnon-related tweets via trend searches and email suggestions; the firm says the move will impact 150k accounts; Twitter has also removed 7k accounts because of targeted harassment . link

Google announces 11 new G Suite security features including Brand Indicators for Message Identification in Gmail, new Meet restrictions limiting who can request to join meetings, new phishing protections for Chat, more . link

Microsoft launches third-party app integrations for Teams; the apps can display content and notifications during calls; they can also provide functionality before and after calls . link

Salesforce to shut down Einstein Voice Assistant and Voice Skills; the company said that conversational tech remained a priority and that the discontinued products would inform future work; Salesforce is shifting focus to its Anywhere app fro team collaboration . link

SoundCloud Founders Alexander Ljung and Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss, and Jimdo Co-Founder Christian Springub announce Dance, an electric bike subscription service slated to launch in Berlin this month; the startup delivers and maintains bikes with theft protection and promises to immediately replace stolen bikes; runs $68 per month . link

Norwegian online marketplace company Adevinta ASA to acquire eBay's classified-ads business for $9.2B: $2.5B in cash, 540M Adevinta shares; the unit is one of the last eBay has beyond its core auction business; activist investors have pushed the company to simplify operations; eBay will retain a 44-percent stake in the combined entity and 33 percent voting rights . link

Instagram begins testing personal fundraisers for users aged 18-plus in the US, UK, and Ireland; initially limited to Android, coming to iOS; the company reviews all campaigns before launch; the company previously launched cause-specific fundraisers (COVID-19, racial justice), fundraisers for Instagram Live, and donation buttons for nonprofits; personal fundraisers allow users to raise funds for tuition, business, etc . link

Facebook launches a new label for some posts that mention voting; the company has used the label on posts from President Trump and Joe Biden without fact-checking post content; for example, Facebook labeled a post in which Trump associated mail-in ballots with corruption, and used the same label for a post in Which Joe Biden urged readers to vote out Trump in November; the label links users to a government site about voting . link

Robinhood postpones UK expansion indefinitely, will focus on the US; the company began recruiting for the UK launch in January 2019 and opened a waitlist for UK users last November; Robinhood is shutting down its UK site and will delete data from the 250k people who joined the waitlist (in compliance with privacy regulation); TechCrunch reports the company will transfer some UK staffers to US projects . link

LinkedIn announces 960 job cuts representing six percent of the company's workforce; affects sales and hiring around the world; CEO Ryan Roslansky said the company would provide those impacted in the US with at least ten weeks severance and one year of health insurance coverage; LinkedIn will first tap laid-off staff when hiring for new roles . link

Apple commits to reaching carbon neutrality across its entire footprint, including supply chain and product life cycles, by 2030; the company's global corporate emissions are already net-zero; Apple's latest Environmental Progress Report details plans for reducing emissions and for carbon removal efforts; the firm also produced a roadmap for other companies . link

Ubisoft has ignored and mishandled sexual misconduct claims over the years, according to current and former Ubisoft employees speaking with Bloomberg; sources said the company fostered a racist and misogynistic culture, responded to complaints insufficiently, and even undermined victims; CEO Yves Guillemot announced executive departures this month as a result of allegations . link

Spotify launches video podcasts for free and paid users around the world; initially limited to select creators; Spotify promises seamless transitions between audio and video versions of content for background playback; all video podcasts will include audio-only versions; shows include originals, exclusives, and third-party content; Spotify has not disclosed its ads strategy for video podcasts . link