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LinkedIn’s China rival Maimai raises $200M ahead of planned US IPO

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on TechNode, an editorial partner of TechCrunch based in China.

Maimai, China’s biggest rival to LinkedIn, has revealed today that it received a $200 million D Series investment back in April in what the company claims to be the largest investment in the professional networking market. That’s surprising but correct: LinkedIn went public in 2011 and was bought by Microsoft for $26 million in 2016, but it raised just over $150 million from investors as a private company.

Global venture capital DST led the round for Maimai which include participation from existing investors of IDG, Morningside Venture Capital, and DCM.

The new capital takes Maimai to $300 million raised from investors, according to CrunchbaseCaixin reports that the valuation of the company is more than $1 billion which would see the firm enter the global unicorn club.

Beyond the fundraising, the firm said it plans to invest RMB 1 billion (around $150 million) over the next three years in a career planning program that it launched in partnership with over 1,000 companies. Those partners include global top-500 firm Cisco and Chinese companies such as Fashion Group and Focus Media.

This investment could be the last time Maimai taps the private market for cash. That’s because the company is gearing up for a U.S. IPO and overseas expansion in the second half of 2019, according to the company founder and CEO Lin Fan.

Launched in the fall of 2013, Maimai aims particularly at business people as a platform to connect professional workers and offer employment opportunities. The service now claims over 50 million users. As a Chinese counterpart of LinkedIn, Maimai has competed head-on with Chinese arm of the U.S. professional networking giant since its establishment and gradually gained an upper hand with features tailored to local tastes.

maimai

It can be hard to gauge the population of social networks, but Chinese market research firm iResearch ranked Maimai ahead of LinkedIn for the first time in the rankings of China’s most popular social networking apps in April last year. The firm further gained ground this year as its user penetration rate reaching 83.8 percent in June, far higher than LinkedIn China’s 11.8 percent, according to data from research institute Analysys.

As a China-born company, Maimai gained momentum over the past two years with localized features, such as anonymous chat, mobile-first design, real-name registration, and partnerships with Chinese corporations. But like all Chinese tech services, it is subject to the state’s tight online regulation. The government watchdog has ordered Maimai to remove the anonymous posting section on its platform last month. The same issue applies to LinkedIn, which has been criticized for allowing its Chinese censorship to spill over and impact global users.

With assistance from Jon Russell

Snapchat shuts down peer-to-peer payment service Snapcash

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The days of Snapchat‘s peer-to-peer payment service Snapcash are numbered.

Snapchat will officially end its mobile payment service on Aug. 30, according to buried code within the Android app uncovered by TechCrunch

It’s been four years since Snapchat launched Snapcash. In November 2014, Snapchat announced a partnership with mobile payments service Square to introduce the feature that lets you transfer money between accounts on the content sharing platform.

The feature has been available to Snapchat users using both Android and iOS in the United States who have a debit card and are 18 or older. Read more…

More about Snapchat, Finance, Snap Inc, Peer To Peer, and Snapcash

Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is tipped to grow more than six-fold to reach more than $200 billion per year, according to a report co-authored by Google, with e-commerce accounting for the dominant share. The emergence of e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Lazada and U.S.-listed Shopee have enabled online entrepreneurship across the region, but still financial support for online sellers, who are basically SMEs, is lagging.

That’s where Singapore-based Aspire Capital, a six-month-old organization focused on speedy SME lending, is hoping to make a difference.

The company certainly has opportunity. With a cumulative population of over 600 million consumers and a rising middle class, Southeast Asia is increasingly an attractive market for businesses of all kind, and online companies in particular. Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent have long devoted significant resources to the region where, like India, they see significant growth potential. E-commerce is the clear winner, in terms of size, with the e-Conomy SEA report — a joint research project between Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek — forecasting e-commerce revenue will hit $88 billion by 2025 from $10.9 billion in 2017.

Data from the e-Conomy SEA report

The crux of its problem is that online sellers who use Lazada, Shopee or other platforms that are forgoing profit in order to grow, are ironically less able to scale their business since there are few ‘e-commerce friendly’ financing options.

That problem became apparent to Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli during a four-year stint with Lazada Singapore where, as CMO, he identified a financing disconnect for Lazada merchants.

“I saw the problem while trying to rally small businesses trying to grow in the digital economy,” Baronchelli told TechCrunch in an interview.

“The problem is really about providing working capital to small business owners. We started with online sellers, but we have expanded a bit as we see demand. There are 65 million small businesses in Southeast Asia, that’s ten times more than the U.S. so we see so much potential,” he added.

Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli pictured while at Lazada

Today, Aspire Capital covers Singapore where it has expanded beyond e-commerce merchants to cover other things of SMEs who seek loans, primarily for working capital as Baronchelli explains. So far, he added, it has served loans to over 100 businesses. Typically, its spread goes from as low as SG$5,000 to up to SG$100,000, that’s around $3,600-$73,500 in U.S. terms.

The company was founded in early 2018 and already it has done plenty. It was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2018 cohort and it has closed a $9 million seed round to kick its business off with the working capital that it needs itself.

That round included a range of investors such as Europe-based Hummingbird, New York’s Mark II Capital, ex-Sequoia partner Yinglan Tan’s Insignia Ventures Partners and Y Combinator.

The principle behind the business is to make business financing quick and simple, Baronchelli said.

So rather than stacks of paperwork, SME owners fill out online forms and get a response the same day. Large parts of the application and review process are automated using a proprietary risk assessment engine, but Baronchelli said that ultimately a human makes the final call on whether to accept the application or not.

“We want to really be fast,” Baronchelli explained. “SMEs need quick decisions, they cannot wait three months for a bank. They need super quick, fast and no paperwork.”

The application process for companies seeking loans from Aspire Capital

He paints an example of online merchants who typically buy inventory from China which is sold customers within three to six months. If the business has a track record, it can take a loan to increase its stock and grow its revenues and profit, he explained.

Singapore may be a key market in Southeast Asia, but with a population of just over five million expansion is top of mind for Aspire. Baronchelli said he is doing due diligence on the first market expansion which he expects will happen before the end of this year. He expects that the business will raise further capital, perhaps towards the tail end of this year, which would be used to expand more aggressively across Southeast Asia in 2019.

He is also occupied building out the team. Right now, Aspire has ten people but he is keen to bring in ten to fifteen more staff, particularly on the tech side of the business.

Alibaba’s Ant Financial fintech affiliate raises $14 billion to continue its global expansion

Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate connected to Alibaba which operates the Alipay mobile payment service, has confirmed that it has closed a Series C funding round that totals an enormous $14 billion.

The rumors have been flying about this huge financing deal for the past month or so, with multiple publications reporting that Ant — which has been strongly linked with an IPO — was in the market to raise at least $9 billion at a valuation of upwards of $100 billion. That turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg here.

The money comes via a tranche of U.S. dollar financing and Chinese RMB from local investors. Those names include Singapore-based sovereign funds GIC and Temasek, Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Warburg Pincus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Silver Lake and General Atlantic.

Ant said that the money will go towards extending its global expansion (and deepening its presence in non-China markets it has already entered), developing technology and hiring.

“We are pleased to welcome these investors as partners, who share our vision and mission, to embark on our journey to further promote inclusive finance globally and bring equal opportunities to the world. We are proud of, and inspired by, the transformation we have affected in the lives of ordinary people and small businesses over the past 14 years,” Ant Financial CEO and executive chairman Eric Jing said in a statement.

Alibaba itself doesn’t invest in Ant, which it span off shortly before its mega-IPO in the U.S. in 2014, but the company did recently take up an option to own 33 percent of Ant’s shares.

Ant has long been tipped to go public. Back in 2016 when it raised a then blockbuster $4.5 billionlittle did we know it would pull in many multiples more — the company has been reportedly considering a public listing, but it instead opted to raise new capital at a valuation of $60 billion.

It looks like the same again, but with higher stakes. This new Series C round pushes that valuation up to $100 billion, according to Bloomberg. (Ant didn’t comment on its valuation.) So what has Ant done over the past two years to justify that jump?

It has long been a key fintech company in China, where it claims to serve offer 500 million consumers and offers Alipay, digital banking and investment services, but it has begun to replicate that business overseas in recent years. In particular, it has made investments and set up joint-ventures and new businesses in a slew of Asian countries that include India, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The company was, however, unsuccessful in its effort to buy MoneyGram after the U.S. government blocked the $1.2 billion deal.

On the business-side, Ant is said to have posted a $1.4 billion profit over the last year, suggesting it is more than ready to make the leap to being a public firm.

Despite that U.S. deal setback, Ant said today that its global footprint extends to 870 million consumers. I’d take that with a pinch of salt at this point since its business outside of China is in its early stages, but there seems little doubt that it is on the road to replicating its scale in its homeland in many parts of Asia. Raising this huge round only solidifies those plans by providing the kind of capital infusion that tops most of the world’s IPOs in one fell swoop.

Real estate property manager and developer JLL launches a $100 million tech investment fund

The multi-billion dollar real estate developer and property manager JLL is getting into the tech investment game with the launch of a new $100 million fund run by corporate subsidiary JLL Spark.

Initially envisioned as a technology-focused business unit of the multinational real estate company, the firm eventually turned to the more traditional venture capital investment model as a way to get more exposure to all of the new technologies that are coming to market, according to JLL SPark’s co-chief executive Mihir Shah.

For Shah and his co-founder Yishai Lerner running the real estate company’s investment firm is the first foray by either executive into the world of real estate or property technology. But both men have been working in the startup world of the Bay Area for at over a decade.

In fact, the two serial entrepreneurs launched one of their first companies from the TechCrunch 50 conference way back in 2007 (it was a mobile app that mimicked Yelp).

The two eventually sold their mobile review business to GroupOn and began doing some angel investing. It was during that venture into the wild world of seed stage prospecting that Shah got bitten by the real estate bug while trying to buy some commercial real estate.

“I was looking at the process and was thinking ‘Wow! That is not a modern process,’” Shah said.

Unbeknownst to Shah, at the same time he was looking for commercial real estate, the commercial real estate industry was looking for someone like him.

JLL had put out feelers and hired head hunters to find someone who could take the lead at the firm’s burgeoning technology practice, Shah said.

“They had all sorts of internal initiatives bringing in new technology companies and services to their existing clients,” Shah said. “They understood that technology was going to transform all aspects of the industry.”

One of the first steps that JLL had taken was to acquire Stessa, which developed and sold asset management software for the real estate industry. But Shah and Lerner quickly realized that the buy and build strategy wouldn’t be robust enough for JLL’s needs.

“Over the last six months we saw how much innovation was happening in the proptech space and we thought it made more sense to launch a venture fund,” Shah said.

The firm will invest anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million into seed stage or Series A companies with the option to dabble in later stage deals, according to Shah. The firm has made two investments so far — neither one of them in startups.

The commitments have been in one accelerator program, the New York-based Metaprop, which focuses on real estate tech investment, and Navitas Capital, which is billed as a later stage investor in the same space.

Both investments appear to be geared toward educating the firm’s two principals on the market and what’s already happening in the space.

The benefit that a corporate firm like JLL can provide to startups is the access to pilot projects where companies can deploy their technologies and, indeed, that’s the pitch that Shah makes to potential portfolio companies.

“Money is not enough,” he said. “There’s a lot of products out there, but they’re struggling with distribution.” JLL has designated a few buildings in top cities around the world to fast track new technologies and provide trial spaces for them to develop, Shah told me. “Our value as a strategic is to build that bridge and make that connection.”

“Creating this $100 million venture fund through JLL Spark allows us to continue to lead the real estate industry in bringing the best proptech ideas to reality,” said Christian Ulbrich, JLL’s Global chief executive. “It complements and expands our substantial ongoing investments in innovative, cutting-edge digital solutions, which is a core part of our Beyond strategic vision and commitment to achieve ambitions for our clients.”

 

Pluralsight prices its IPO at $15 per share, raising over $300M

Pluralsight priced the shares in its IPO at $15 this afternoon, above its previously set target range of between $12 and $14, and will raise as much as $357 million ahead of its public debut tomorrow morning.

Pluralsight offers software development courses, specifically ones targeting employees that are looking to advance in their careers by acquiring new skills in order to transition to higher-level roles. As knowledge workers become increasingly valuable, especially in larger enterprises with sprawling workforces, companies like Pluralsight have found a sweet spot in building tools that enable companies to help identify talent in their own workforce and train them, rather than have to aggressively search outside the company to satisfy their needs. The company has raised $310.5 million in its IPO, with underwriters having the option to purchase an additional 3.1 million shares and bring that up to $357 million.

The company is one of a continuing wave of enterprise IPOs this year, including multiple successful ones like zScalar and Dropbox — the latter of which was more of a flagship as both a hotly-anticipated one and as a company that possesses a unique business model. But nonetheless, it’s shown that there’s an appetite for enterprise startups looking to go public, which offers those companies a way to raise capital in addition to offering their employees liquidity.

Pluralsight will be another of an increasing pack of unicorns in the Utah tech scene that are on their way to going public. Founded in 2004, Pluralsight was largely bootstrapped until its first financing round in 2013 where it raised $27.5 million from Insight Venture Partners. That firm is the company’s largest shareholder, and since then Pluralsight has raised nearly $200 million in financing.

Its The company’s IPO tomorrow will once again test the appetite for fresh IPOs among public investors. Enterprise companies generally offer a more stable batch for venture portfolios, with predictable and reliable growth that eventually carries it to an IPO with varying levels of success. They’re smaller than blockbuster consumer-ish IPOs, but they are the ones that can provide a stable return for funds like IVP.

Pandora shares up 8% after surprise earnings beat

Pandora’s quarterly earnings report was music to investor’s ears.

The digital radio platform reported a better-than-expected first quarter report after the bell on Thursday, sending shares up 8% in after-hours trading.

Wall Street liked that the company showed a sizable increase in subscriber revenue, posting $104.7 million, a 63% increase from last year. Pandora has 5.63 million paid listeners, up 19% from the same timeframe in 2017.

By contrast, Apple Music says it has 40 million subscribers and Spotify has 75 million, so Pandora is a distant third in terms of paid users.

But the competition is already reflected in Pandora’s stock price. It closed Thursday at $5.75, which is up a buck for the past month. It’s also substantially beneath the $37 per share that the stock was trading at in 2014. Its market cap is currently $1.45 billion.

In addition to subscribers, Pandora makes money from its unpaid users via ads. The company had 72.3 million active listeners, bringing in $319.2 million in revenue. Analysts had expected $304.3 million.

Its adjusted loss per share was 27 cents, well above the negative 38 cents that Wall Street forecast.

“Pandora is exactly where we want to be: at the center of a growing market with huge potential,” said Roger Lynch, CEO of Pandora, in a statement.

 

 

 

Revolut broke even in December, now has 1.5 million customers

 Fintech startup Revolut can’t stop and won’t stop growing. The company has had an amazing month of December with a huge increase in the total volume of transactions and signups. Because of that, Revolut broke even in December for the first time ever. The company told me that it wasn’t just a lucky month and January is looking good as well. Revolut announced that it had reached… Read More

Cardlytics up 3% following IPO, raised $70 million

 Atlanta-based Cardlytics made its public debut on Friday, closing the day at $13.37, just a little above the IPO price of $13. The company sold 5.4 million shares, raising $70 million. Cardlytics works with financial institutions like Bank of America and 2,000 others to run cash back programs. It partners with brands across restaurant, retail, travel, grocery and home subscription categories… Read More

Tryb Group raises $30M to develop fintech platforms for Southeast Asia

 Tryb Group, a Singapore-based organization focused on fintech services in Southeast Asia, has landed a $30 million investment from Makara Capital. The investment comes from Makara’s $770 million joint fund with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), which is focused on finding valuable IP in the tech and startup space. TechCrunch understands that Tryb is talking to a… Read More

Sequoia is looking to raise a $5 billion investment fund

 Sequoia Capital is looking to raise a $5 billion investment fund. The legendary Silicon Valley venture firm, known for its stellar investment returns, is in the early stages of raising its next global growth fund. Recode’s Kara Swisher first reported the news of the fund. She’s hearing that Sequoia is targeting $5 to $6 billion. We’re hearing that right now it’s… Read More

Apple’s hand is down and its $1 trillion dream now rests with consumers

 As we head into the end of 2017, it’s pretty safe to say that Apple’s fate — barring any major issue with its phones — is now in the hands of its consumers. With the iPhone X now in stores (if you catch them at the right time), Apple has now laid down its hand and waits to see where consumer demand lands. Read More

Do VC woes extend to portfolio companies? For Rothenberg, probably not

 As VC brands go, Rothenberg Ventures has seen better days. The firm built up a reputation as an up-and-coming early-stage investor. But Silicon Valley soured on Rothenberg Ventures last year; lawsuits ensued. So it hasn’t been a good year for Mike Rothenberg. But what about the Rothenberg Ventures portfolio? Read More

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24 hours later, ANOTHER massive Wells Fargo fraud scandal

It’s been a whole day since we learned about another example of systematic, widespread fraud by America’s largest bank Wells Fargo (ripping off small merchants with credit card fees), so it’s definitely time to learn about another one: scamming mortgage borrowers out of $43/month for an unrequested and pointless “home warranty service” from American Home Shield, a billion-dollar scam-factory that considers you a customer if you throw away its junk-mail instead of ticking the “no” box and sending it back.
(more…)

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Bitcoin breaks $3,000 to reach new all-time high

 Bitcoin has reached a record high valuation of $3,000 per coin to complete a rollercoaster week that begin with the long-awaited split of the cryptocurrency. A number of exchanges, including popular destinations Coinbase and Kraken, valued a single bitcoin at over $3,000, an all-time high that is up $485 on the valuation one month ago. Earlier this year, Bitcoin surged to surpass $2,000 for… Read More

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Will Blue Apron’s rebound continue?

 Cooking kit delivery company Blue Apron traded up 3.5% on the stock market Monday, erasing some of the losses from its first two days as a public company. Shares closed at $9.67, which was still beneath last week’s $10 IPO price. This is in contrast to a lot of public debuts, where companies are typically in the green for the first day “pop.” It’s the subsequent days… Read More

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Will Blue Apron’s rebound continue?

 Cooking kit delivery company Blue Apron traded up 3.5% on the stock market Monday, erasing some of the losses from its first two days as a public company. Shares closed at $9.67, which was still beneath last week’s $10 IPO price. This is in contrast to a lot of public debuts, where companies are typically in the green for the first day “pop.” It’s the subsequent days… Read More

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Funding for real estate challenger Spruce shows New York’s startup scene is thriving

 Spruce, a new startup looking to speed up the mortgage, has raised $4.5 million in its series A financing from Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network, and Third Prime Capital along with a slew of private angel investors. Founded by two former employees of the robo-advisory wealth management company Betterment, the new startup is notable for a few reasons. First, it’s yet another… Read More

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N26 launches savings accounts with Raisin

 N26 is launching yet another feature to build a modern retail bank for European customers. This time, the company is partnering with Raisin, a German startup also known as WeltSparen. In just a few taps, you’ll be able to open a savings account for money you don’t need. Raisin doesn’t build savings accounts itself. Instead, the company is partnering with financial… Read More

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Next Insurance raises $29 million to create customized policies for small businesses

 Next Insurance, a startup that wants to make it simpler for small businesses to find coverage, has raised a $29 million Series A. The round was led by Munich Re/HSB Ventures, the venture capital arm of German insurance company Munich Re. Existing investors including Markel and Nationwide, also participated. Read More

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Airwallex raises $13M led by Tencent to bring its cross-border payment service to Europe

 Australia-based cross-border payments startup Airwallex has closed a $13 million Series A round to expand its reach across Asia Pacific and into Europe. The deal was led by Chinese internet giant Tencent — marking its first investment in an Australian startup — with participation from Sequoia China, Mastercard and other undisclosed investors. Airwallex was founded last year… Read More

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial may have won the bidding war for MoneyGram after upping its offer to $1.2B

 Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate company focused on financial services, appears to have finally won its battle with Euronet to acquire MoneyGram, the U.S.-based cross-border payments service, after it increased its bid to $1.2 billion. Read More

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Equity podcast: The return of IPOs and Tesla’s billion-dollar bet

 One down, many more to go! The first episode of TechCrunch’s latest podcast, Equity, our venture capital-focused podcast is out.
This week, TechCrunch’s Matthew Lynley, CrunchBase editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I sat down with investor and SaaStr founder Jason Lemkin to talk about Tesla’s $1 billion raise, the return of IPOs and recent acquisitions in the technology… Read More

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Snap has already tumbled 11% on day four

 Snap, the parent of Snapchat, had a great first two days on the stock market, only to be followed by two terrible ones. Shares quickly tumbled to beneath $22, an over 11% drop in morning trading. This means that most investors are already losing money on the social media company. Snap opened Thursday at $24 per share. It is still above its $17 IPO price, but that’s mainly relevant for… Read More

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Alibaba’s arch rival JD.com spins out its financial services business

jd jd.com While Alibaba’s Ant Financial fintech affiliate is out doing deals to expand its global presence and raising a $3 billion war chest for further M&A, its chief rival in China has made a strategic deal of its own. JD Finance, the financial services business belonging to Alibaba competitor JD.com, is going independent, according to a deal announced yesterday. The business was started… Read More

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Did Snapchat leave money on the table?

snapchat-money2 Snapchat priced its IPO at $17 per share on Wednesday, raising $3.4 billion. Then it opened Thursday at $24 per share and closed at $24.48. That’s a 44% gain for the select investors who bought into the IPO.  And that gain looks great…for new investors. But it also means that Snapchat could have sold its shares for a higher price! If Snapchat priced its shares just a little higher… Read More

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Lyft seeks $6 billion valuation in funding round

lyft-sign Lyft is out pitching to investors while competitor Uber surrounds itself in controversy. The Wall Street Journal first reported that they are chatting about a $500 million round. We’re hearing that they are targeting a roughly $6 billion valuation, slightly above the $5.5 billion they were valued at in their last private round. The timing makes sense given the failed sale process last… Read More

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Nearly one year after launch, Apple Pay finds limited traction in China

An employee works on a laptop computer as he talks with a customer near a sheet showing accepted methods of payment, including Apple Pay, top left, at an Apple Store in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. Apple Inc. on Thursday launched its smartphone-based payment system in China where the electronic payments market is already dominated by an arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on TechNode, an editorial partner of TechCrunch based in China. After a slow start, Apple Pay is now dominating its home country, the United States, but the same can’t be said of China where it is up against a different set of challenges. Data from Boston Retail Partners shows that Apple Pay is now accepted by 36 percent of merchants in… Read More

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China’s Qunar to delist from NASDAQ after completing sale to private equity firm

NASDAQ Chinese travel site Qunar is all set to delist from the NASDAQ after it completed its sale to private equity firm Ocean Management. The deal was first announced last October and today it went through having gained shareholder approval earlier this week. The transaction values Qunar, which is backed by Baidu, at around $4.44 billion. The firm raised $167 million from its IPO in November… Read More

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Airbnb finalizes deal to buy social payments startup Tilt

tilt founders khaleed james beshara Airbnb has finalized its deal to buy social payments startup Tilt, TechCrunch has confirmed. We reported on the acquisition talks last month, but now everything has been made official. We are told that investors will be getting back about $12 million in cash, but the deal value is tens of millions of dollars higher if you include employee retention packages, which were paid for in cash… Read More

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial expands to Korea with $200M investment in Kakao Pay

daum kakao Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is making yet another M&A deal. The firm is investing $200 million into a fintech project belonging to Kakao, the $5 billion firm that runs Korea’s dominant messaging service.
Ant Financial, which manages payments service Alipay and Alibaba’s digital banking business, will invest the capital into Kakao Pay, a soon-to-launch Kakao fintech division. Read More

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App platform company MuleSoft files for IPO

MuleSoft___Integration_Platform_for_Connecting_SaaS_and_Enterprise_Applications MuleSoft is the latest “unicorn” to file for an IPO. The company, which helps businesses like Netflix and Spotify with their APIs, has unveiled its financials to the public in an S-1 filing, suggesting that they are targeting a debut as soon as March. The size of the proposed IPO is $100 million, but that is subject to change. In the filing we see that MuleSoft had $187.7… Read More

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Dorsey: Twitter still has “a long way to go”

Jack Dorsey Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey spoke on stage with COO and CFO Anthony Noto at the Goldman Technology Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. The leaders of the social media giant reiterated Twitter’s mission as a real-time information platform and spoke of its latest accomplishments, but also talked about the challenges of growing what is already a widely-used site. “We… Read More

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Amazon hints at Prime sales in latest filing

amzn-feature Amazon Prime has driven growth for the e-commerce company for years now. But Amazon has traditionally been cagey about disclosing too many details regarding the popular service. In a 10-K filing summarizing performance throughout 2016, the business did something that drew the attention of Wall Street analysts. It designated a category entitled “retail subscription services”… Read More

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Thrive Capital hires Obama’s Director of Product Josh Miller to focus on tech for the underprivileged

josh_miller_white_house Connections between the Obama administration and Silicon Valley abound, but particularly for Josh Kushner. The latest? Kushner’s venture firm Thrive Capital just hired Josh Miller, a member of the White House Office of Digital Strategy under President Barack Obama.
Miller, just 24 when he left Facebook to serve as the White House director of product, starts Monday at Thrive and… Read More

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CEO Evan Spiegel’s Snap ownership is worth about $3.5 billion

snapchat-ads Snapchat parent Snap Inc. has finally revealed its long-awaited IPO filing. The social messaging company, which plans to go public in early March, just shared details about its growth trajectory and financials.  And while we knew that Snap has raised at least $2.4 billion in capital from a long list of investors, we now know the ownership percentages. We also know the pre-IPO values of… Read More

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SoFi buys Zenbanx to offer banking and money transfer services to its users

unicorn-money Online lending firm SoFi announced today that it has acquired Zenbanx, a startup that offers up banking, debit, payments and money transfer services to users online and through a mobile app. The combination of the two will allow SoFi to move deeper into the financial lives of its customers. While today it focuses on student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans, integrating… Read More

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This country just banned cash transactions over $4,500

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India’s war against black money has led to several new policies and orders of late, one of which was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday in his Union Budget presentation in the Parliament. 

The country has banned all cash transactions above Rs 300,000 (roughly $4,500) from April 1. 

This move follows last year’s ban on high-value currency notes that had sucked in 86% of the cash in circulation and sent India’s 1.3 billion people into a collective frenzy. 

Jaitley’s decision is based on a recommendation made by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money that was set up by India’s apex court.  Read more…

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Korea’s AIM raises $1.6M for its mobile trading service

stock trading Seoul-based startup AIM has closed $1.6 million in seed funding to bring its artificial intelligence-powered app for financial investments to market in Korea, and potentially other parts of Asia. The fintech company has developed a system which works alongside existing investment institutions to allow users in Korea to make trades and investments via their smartphone. So rather than a… Read More

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NVCA chair on immigration orders: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order surrounded by small business leaders in the Oval Office of the White House January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump said he will "dramatically" reduce regulations overall with this executive action as it requires that for every new federal regulation implemented, two must be rescinded. (Photo by Andrew Harrer - Pool/Getty Images) Venky Ganesan, managing director of $4.4 billion venture capital firm Menlo Ventures and current chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, is walking a political tightrope and trying not to fall off. The venture capital industry, financiers to many tech giants, relies on immigrant talent to launch startups, help them thrive, and drive their continued success. Right now, that puts… Read More

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China's capital controls are working, and that's bursting the global real-estate bubble

More news on the Chinese crackdown on money-laundering and its impact on the global property bubble: the controls the Chinese government has put on “capital outflows” (taking money out of China) are actually working, and there’s been a mass exodus of Chinese property buyers from the market, with many abandoning six-figure down payments because they can’t smuggle enough money out of the country to make the installment payments.
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Snap will reportedly file publicly for its massive IPO late next week

Evan Spiegel Snap — the makers of Snapchat — had confidentially filed for its IPO late last year, but it looks like we’ll be getting a look at the inner guts of the company’s financials and workings as early as late next week. The company will file publicly for its initial public offering late next week, according to a new report from Kara Swisher over at Recode. This is yet… Read More

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Why the $3.7 billion AppDynamics acquisition happened right before IPO

appdynamics Applications management company AppDynamics was just wrapping up the final touches on its initial public offering when it learned that Cisco was interested in discussing a potential deal. Preliminary talks were abandoned in November, but the discussion just picked up again last week. The deal was announced today and the IPO was slated to price tomorrow. Although many companies seek… Read More

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Venture capital in 2017 is when the rubber hits the road for returns

road In the United States, VC funds raised a whopping $40.6 billion in 2016[1]. It was the largest year for VC fundraising since 2000 when the venture industry raked in a jaw dropping $101.4 billion[1]. Yet the 2016 exit market was a mixed bag.
Despite many forecasting (hoping?) that herds of unicorns would enter the public market in 2016, the IPO market was lackluster at best. There were only 31 U.S. Read More

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Pandora is laying off 7% of its US workforce

pandora-ios-icon Pandora said it would lay off around 7 percent of its U.S. workforce, excluding Ticketfly, by the end of the first quarter this year in an announcement that it would the guidance it set for the fourth quarter in 2016. Pandora now has more than 4.3 million paid subscribers, which at the end of the year is a flash of good news for a company desperately in need of some. Pandora has had to… Read More

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Verifone, FIS and Modo are creating a new way for consumers to pay with loyalty points

modo Verifone, FIS and digital payments startup Modo announced a new system that will enable customers to pay for any merchandise they want using only accrued credit/debit loyalty points. The novel part of this system is that consumers can purchase anything they want…not just select merchandise available at e-commerce portals or specific to single brands. Merchants with Verifone credit… Read More

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Parrot lays off 35 percent of its drone team

Parrot French company Parrot has had a rough year and missed its sales expectations. That’s why the company will lay off 290 employees who were working on drones. In total, Parrot currently has 840 employees on the drone team and more than a thousand employees in total. While the company isn’t just selling drones, it represents a good chunk of the business. But it looks like other… Read More

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Tim Cook’s compensation not spared as Apple misses performance goals

New Product Announcements At The Apple Inc. Spring Forward Event As a result of Apple’s performance based executive compensation packages, CEO Tim Cook and other leaders within the company will be taking pay cuts. Apple missed internal revenue and operating income targets for 2016 by 3.7 and 0.5 percent respectively, resulting in a 15 percent cut for the CEO. Apple is reporting annual sales of $215.6 billion and operating income of $60 billion for… Read More

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