SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

SoftBank Group plans to lend up to $20 billion to its 400 employees to buy stakes in its second Vision Fund, following the first fund launched in 2017. That first $100 billion fund, which debuted in 2017, made big investments in Uber Technologies, WeWork, and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology, driving up their valuations. For the second Vision Fund, SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son may invest as much as $15 billion, and SoftBank could put in $38 billion, more than is typical for a fund sponsor. Continue reading SoftBank to Lend Employees $20B to Invest in Vision Fund

Slack, Other Chat Apps Aim to Supplant Email in Workplace

Slack, valued at $7 billion during its last funding round, went public yesterday and closed at $38.62, which is 49 percent higher than the $26 reference price set by the New York Stock Exchange. The company, which provides workplace collaboration tools, said it currently has 10+ million daily users and 88,000 paying customers. While it positions itself as an antidote to overstuffed email boxes, it has heavyweight competition with Google (Hangouts Chat), Facebook (Workplace) and Microsoft (Teams). The latter, which is bundled with Office software, is already in use by 500,000+ organizations according to Microsoft. Continue reading Slack, Other Chat Apps Aim to Supplant Email in Workplace

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

The California Assembly introduced a law that would require Amazon Flex, Postmates, Uber and other similar companies to treat their gig economy contractors as employees, with the wages and benefits of that classification. The bill, which was approved 53 to 11, comes only a few weeks after Uber’s IPO was met with a brief strike by ride-hail drivers around the world protesting their low pay and contractor status. The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled state senate where it is likely to be signed into law. Continue reading California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Twitter shared details regarding its total number of daily users for the first time, and it turns out the platform has more than 60 million fewer daily users than Snapchat, and significantly less users than Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp. However, since Twitter currently has 126 million daily active users (DAU), that means about 39 percent of its monthly active users (MAU) are now using the app on a daily basis, which should prove to be an important metric to investors as it shows that Twitter is in fact growing. Continue reading Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

In a 15-page letter on September 26, Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel told employees his plan to achieve full-year profitability in 2019 and refocus the company around new strategies. He admitted that the company’s redesign created many problems and “lost the core of what made Snapchat the fastest way to communicate.” That widely criticized redesign led to Snapchat’s first-ever decline in daily active users last quarter. Spiegel now wants the company to focus on adults, not teens, and messaging, not stories. Continue reading Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

PayPal plans to make the largest purchase in its history: $2.2 billion for Stockholm-based financial tech startup iZettle. The purchase puts PayPal in thousands of brick-and-mortar retail shops around the world, and sharpens its rivalry with Square, which focuses on small businesses with physical locations. Dubbed the “Square of Europe,” iZettle produces technology and devices that allow almost half a million businesses in a dozen European countries, Brazil and Mexico to accept credit cards. Continue reading PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

In the next year, Walmart may invest $3 billion in India-based, Amazon rival Flipkart by purchasing new shares at the same price as the purchase transaction, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The all-cash deal is groundbreaking as the world’s largest e-commerce transaction, in which Walmart will buy $2 billion new shares and a stake worth $14 billion from Flipkart investors. Amazon, meanwhile, has invested $2 billion in June 2014 and $3 billion in June 2016 in India. Continue reading The Roadmap for Walmart’s Purchase, Planned IPO of Flipkart

Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi plans to launch its IPO in Hong Kong in what is anticipated to be the world’s biggest IPO in 2018. The filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange did not reveal the size or projected valuation of the offering, but sources say the company hopes to raise at least $10 billion. A source also reported that the listing will value the company at “less than the $100 billion figure previously suggested.” Xiaomi’s filing also uncovered some financial details for the first time. Continue reading Xiaomi Plans Hong Kong IPO, China Reins In Tech Companies

Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Spotify is offering more free music in an effort to ultimately increase its number of paid subscribers. The popular streaming service has introduced an updated version of its free mobile app that offers non-paying users more on-demand tracks from 15 pre-populated playlists. Some of the playlists — such as “Discover Weekly” — are personalized for individual users. Spotify, already the world’s largest paid music service (and now a public company), is expanding its freemium model with the goal of one day reaching billions of users, while maintaining its lead over #2 subscription service Apple Music and other competitors. Continue reading Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

Pandora believes it can out-playlist Spotify. The music streaming service has released new personalized playlist options for users, catering to moods, activities and genres. The feature is powered by Pandora’s Music Genome, an information database that “has been in development for over a decade and is capable of classifying music at the song level across 450 different attributes — ‘genes’ that can be as specific as what types of strings are on the guitar,” reports TechCrunch. Pandora’s new feature arrives on the eve of Spotify’s public debut, slated for early April (as a direct listing rather than IPO).

Continue reading Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

Spotify Promotes Potential Growth as It Prepares to Go Public

As Spotify Technology SA prepares to go public, co-founder and chief executive officer Daniel Ek has some convincing to do. Not necessarily about the company’s numbers, which are impressive (70 million paying subscribers, for starters), but about the potential for growth and revenue. On the one hand, with Spotify’s help, the music business has seen three years of global growth after 15 years of decline — but on the other hand, Spotify isn’t making money, having to contend with music-rights holders collecting over 75 cents per dollar.

Continue reading Spotify Promotes Potential Growth as It Prepares to Go Public

Spotify Launches New Tool, Enlisting Users to Add Metadata

Spotify has launched Line-In, a music metadata editor, and has begun collecting information from users, who are now able to add descriptions of genres, albums and songs on the platform. The move is an effort by the streaming service to better understand how listeners hear and interpret music — and to continue emphasizing the importance of data to its business. All contributed edits are treated as suggestions and are carefully reviewed before being added to the data that powers the service. The 10-year-old Swedish company is about to go public via a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO.

Continue reading Spotify Launches New Tool, Enlisting Users to Add Metadata

Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Uber Technologies has settled a year-old lawsuit brought by Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo, which claimed that Uber stole and used trade secrets. In the agreement, Uber said it would not use Waymo technology in its autonomous vehicles and make certain that no such Waymo components were already in use. The ride-hailing firm also agreed to give Waymo 0.34 percent of its equity, equal to about $245 million, based on a valuation of $72 billion. The companies settled four days after the trial started. Continue reading Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

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