Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘venture capital’ Category

Making Copies

leave a comment »

Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Need a New Razr?

leave a comment »

The original Motorola Razr flip phone came out in July 2004. It was thin and streamlined compared to most mobile feature phones of its time.

And now it’s back, this time with a 6.2″ touchscreen that folds like a clamshell, and only costs $1,500 clams running Android.

Early reviews suggest the new Razr has a much improved folding experience over what we’ve witnessed thus far in the folding phones. I still wonder if this is a problem looking for hinge…err, solution.

If your heart rate just went up, you might want to try the new Apple Research app that will allow U.S. users to enroll in one of three new health studies — one on women’s health, one on heart and movement, and a hearing study.

Developers: GitHub released its first native mobile app and improved notifications at the GitHub Universe event. GitHub Actions/Packages have also moved out of beta, and the company is also improving its code search.

Today’s funding: Password manager 1Password has raised a $200M Series A led by Accel, and will use its new capital to grow its enterprise footprint. And app-based loyalty card and analytics firm Punchh raised $40M to continue its expansion.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Thank You for Your Service

leave a comment »

I was locked up in a courtroom in downtown Austin all last week, doing my civic duty (serving on a nasty child custody battle trial).

Man oh man am I glad to be back at work. What’d I miss?

The headlines this AM have a sneak that Apple is aiming to release an AR headset in 2022. 

Uh, three years from now? By then my augmented reality may have been completely re-augmented!

Twitter has drafted a new “deep fake” policy and opened it up for public input before it goes live. The gist: When the company sees synthetic or manipulated media that’s intentionally trying to mislead or confuse people it will place notices next to the content and/or warn people before they share such material.

Singles Day in China showed quite the bustling economy, with Alibaba alone reporting $38.4B in sales in 24 hours. Yes, you read that correctly.

Dealmaking: Enterprise info mgmt firm OpenText is acquiring cloud data backup protection firm Carbonite for $1.42B.

And Sweden-based e-bike and e-scooter-sharing startup raised an $85M Series B. The company has 4M registered users and has powered 14M rides across 38 European cities.

Thank you to all the veterans out there (including those from my own family) for your service to our country.

Written by turbotodd

November 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm

A New Mobile Office

leave a comment »

Happy Monday.

Apple has started the week communicating a $2.5B plan to help California’s housing crisis. This on on the heels of similar $1B infusions from Facebook and Google in recent months.

The Apple fund will include a $1B affordable housing investment fund, and a $1B first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund.

Up in Redmond, Microsoft has unveiled a new office app for iOS and Android, one which sees Word, Excel, and PowerPoint combined into a single download. The new version features a prominent actions section that makes key features more easily accessible (like transferring files from your smartphone to your desktop).

Monday Fund-day: South Korea’s CODE42 has raised $25M in a pre-Series A funding round led by Kia Motors. CODE42 is an autonomous transportation startup and will use the funding to build its Urban Mobility Operating System. 

And Casstime, a China-based automotive aftermarket search engine and procurement platform, raised an $80M Series C1. Casstime’s search platform allows users to find unique part numbers by enteringn the VIN and part name, then uses an algo to assign multiple suppliers that have fit the user’s past purchasing behavior.

Written by turbotodd

November 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

The Politics of Advertising

leave a comment »

Good morning. And congrats to the Washington Nationals on the District’s first World Series victory in 95 years. What a series.

And on the subject of D.C., Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced yesterday that the company would stop accepting all political and issue ads on its platform globally starting November 22.

Dorsey stated in a Tweet that “we believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” and that “this isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach.”

No word yet on whether or not Mark Zuckerberg provided a RT.

Apple earnings were out late yesterday, reporting Q4 revenue of $64B (up 2% YoY), with growth fueled by services, wearable and iPad.

Samsung, OTOH, saw its operating profit drop 56% to $6.6B on revenue of $53B, but still beat estimates.

Facebook’s Q3 saw revenue of $17.7B, up 29 YoY, and its daily active users rose 9% YoY. Political ads or not, Facebook is still printing lots of Benjamins.

Funding Rounds: U.K.. commission-free stock investing firm Freetrade raised $15M in a Series A…IoT back-end platform Particle raised a $40M Series C led by Qualcomm…Crunchbase raised a $30M Series C to help folks find “signals in the data” (meaning, they intend to become a dealmaker info resource).

Written by turbotodd

October 31, 2019 at 9:32 am

A Wee Pin Drop

leave a comment »

Fascinating follow up by the WSJ on Daryl Morey’s Oct. 4 pro-HK Tweet: It indicates that around 50% of the Tweets at him came from accounts with 0-13 followers, and 4,855 of those users had never Tweeted previously. Where did all those new tweets come from??

Earnings season for the quarter is in full swing.

IBM had Q3 revenue of $18B, down 3.9% YOY, with Red Hat sales of $371M, and cloud revenue up 11%. Netflix, Q3 revenue of $5.25B, up 31% YOU with 158M paid subscriptions globally.

Huawei, overall sales at $86B, up 25% YOY, smartphone shipments up 26% YOU (to 185M units through Sept of this year).

Some noteworthy funding…Invoca, AI-powered call tracking and conversational analytics firm, raised $56M bringing its total financing to $116M

Galileo Financial raised $77M Series A led by Accel and provides APIs for backend integration for fintech startups.

One from India, MyGate, a Bangalore startup with a security and community management app for gated communities: $56M Series B from Tencent, others.

Ex-Cisco-ites raised $145M for Pensando Systems, which builds custom hardware for processing data at the edge.

Oh, and one other wee bit of news: The U.S. FCC has approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Did you hear the pin drop?

Written by turbotodd

October 17, 2019 at 9:52 am

Good Grammar

leave a comment »

An update on the HKMap live app that Hong Kongers were using to keep abreast of protests in the semiautonomous city. Apple has now removed that app from its App Store just days after approving it.

This after the People’s Daily published an editorial hat accused Apple of aiding “rioters” in HK, according to a report in the NY Times. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the editorial.

Apple’s response: “…This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”

The Times: “With its reversal, Apple joins a growing list of corporations that are trying to navigate the fraught political situation between China and Hong Kong, where antigovernment protests have unfolded for months.”

Uh, more like a minefield.

Today’s funding feature: Grammarly, the nifty AI tool that currently helps 20M+ correct their written grammar, has raised an additional $90M round that brings its total to $200M and a valuation of $1B.

Grammarly is currently available via a number of web browsers and in Microsoft Word. The company will use this investment to suppor more platforms and focus more on the enterprise.

I look forward to leveraging Grammarly to address the elephant in the room and to do a deep dive..now, let’s take this offline!

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

Surface Disruption

leave a comment »

It’s gonna be a very busy day…in the markets, and in tech.

On the markets front, I would urge you to stop looking at the ticker tape — it’s October, it happens.

On the tech front, Microsoft is making some new announcements in its Surface line, with expectations there will be a new Surface Pro 7, an AMD-powered Surface Laptop 3, and an ARM-powered Surface Pro with all day battery life. You know, so you can watch that ticker tape drive deeper into the bear-filled ditch!

Microsoft is also expected to announce a kind of “Windows Lite,” which is slated to be ready for dual-screen and foldable devices.

Here’s a thought: Can I get one of those foldable devices and use Windows Lite to only see the part of the ticker that has positive news?!

Out west, TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 kicks into high gear at Moscone North in SF later this a.m.

Disrupt positions itself as “the original startup conference,” but with so many unicorns being scared off by their investor expectation’s long shadows — and the ticker headed south — ’twill be very interesting to see what memes and headlines emerge.

Expect a whole lot of AI, blockchain, and pivots! (Hint: If there in person, keep an eye out for the IBM Developer presence and learn more about the Code and Response initiative!)

Written by turbotodd

October 2, 2019 at 10:02 am

Bunker Mentality

leave a comment »

Here’s one you don’t see everyday.

The AP is reporting that on Friday German investigators shut down a data center installed in a former NATO bunker. The center hosted dark web-ish sites that dealt in drugs and other illegal activities.

Apparently a 59-year-old Dutchman acquired the former military bunker in 2013 and turned it into a heavily secured data processing center “in order to make it available to clients….exclusively for illegal purposes.”

Those platforms included “Cannabis Road” (self-explanatory) and the “Wall Street Market “ (where one could procure hacking and financial theft tools), among others. No word yet on whether the bunker came with any launch codes.

Some venture capital funding rounds of note on this celebrated 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China: Rapyd, a London-based “fintech-as-a-service” startup has raised a total of $160M. But there’s loads of competition in the digital payment space (Adyen, PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay, among others).

Another fintech startup, LA-based “Dave,” which launched with money management tools to save consumers from overdraft fees, raised $50M from Norwest, bringing its valuation to $1B. Dave has 4M users and apparently a waiting list of 800K, but apparently no last name.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2019 at 9:46 am

Posted in 2019, venture capital

Tagged with , ,

GitLab’s Infusion

leave a comment »

Big news on the developer tools front today.

Forbes is reporting DevOps player GitLab has raised $268M in a Series E round co-led by Iconiq Capital and Goldman Sachs at a $2.75B valuations. That more than doubles the valuation of its previous funding roundThe company is looking forward to a 2020 IPO, and interestingly has expanded in the direction of a no-office expansion (a sizable number of the company’s employees work remotely).

The company’s value prop is straightforward: GitLab helps companies build and release their own software faster, and in a more coordinated fashion (including bringing together groups as disparate as product, development, security, and operations). It offers two options: A free community edition, and a paid enterprise edition.

In a statement about the funding, GitLab indicated its plans were “to make all of our DevOps platform offerings, including monitoring, security, and planning, best in class so we can enable our enterprise customers to continue to bring products to market faster.”

The company claims that more than 100,000 organizations currently use GitLab, and the company’s annual recurring revenue growth rate is 143%, in a market that is expected to triple by 2023 (from $5.2 to $15B).

Gitty up!

Written by turbotodd

September 17, 2019 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: