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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Chime CEO Chris Britt Source: Chime The fintech world has a new heavyweight. Chime, the start-up that delivers banking services through mobile phones, has closed a fundraising that values the company at $14.5 billion, CNBC has learned exclusively. That lofty figure makes Chime the most valuable American fintech start-up serving retail consumers. Robinhood, the popular free-trading app, raised money last month at an $11.2 billion valuation. The moves show that even as investors punish the shares of established U.S. banks — the KBW Bank Index has lost a third of its value this year — they are willing to lavish money on pre-IPO fintech companies that increasingly look like segment winners. In this latest round, a Series F that raised $485 million, Chime more than doubled its valuation from December and is worth almost 900% more than just 18 months ago, when it hit a $1.5 billion valuation. Chime is ranked No. 25 on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list. The development places Chime among a group of tech-centric companies, both publicly traded and private, that have experienced torrid growth during the coronavirus pandemic. Chime, the biggest of a new breed of start-up
John Riccitiello, chief executive officer at Unity Technologies SF, speaks during the TechCrunch Disrupt 2018 summit in San Francisco, California, Sept. 5, 2018. David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images Unity's top executives said at the company's virtual IPO event on Friday that employees are allowed to sell some shares on the company's first day of trading, rather than waiting for the 180-day lockup period to expire. Unity is set to debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. "We have employees across 17 countries and we wanted them to participate here," Kimberly Jabal, CFO of the video game software company, said by video at the event. "We wanted them to be able to participate in the first day of trading if they choose to sell some of their vested shares." Unity said in its latest prospectus that employees and former employees, excluding executive officers and directors, can sell up to 15% of their vested holdings from the time the stock opens on the New York Stock Exchange through Sept. 30. In a typical IPO, insiders and employees have to hold onto their shares for a lockup period that typically lasts six
LONDON — Social media users are re-evaluating whether they should have accounts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram after a new documentary-drama called "The Social Dilemma" dropped on Netflix. The 90-minute show, which focuses on the downsides of the major tech platforms, features interviews with Silicon Valley whistleblowers who used to work at the likes of Google and Facebook. In many ways, they're sounding the alarm on their own creations. One former Facebook executive, Tim Kendall, who was asked what worried him most, said: "In the shortest time horizon, I'm most worried about civil war." Somewhat ironically, social media is awash with people saying they plan to delete their social media accounts after watching the show, with Facebook and Instagram appearing to be called out most frequently. "Everyone should watch The Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix and then make the necessary changes," one Twitter user wrote. "Tonight I deleted Facebook and turned off notifications from Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. It's time to take back control of our minds." Another Twitter user said: "Just watched this and immediately deleted #Facebook and #Instagram. A must watch to understand the manipulation." Ranked as the 5th most watched show on Netflix in the
The Commerce Department announced Friday morning that it would ban U.S. business transactions with Chinese-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok on Sunday. The announcement comes as President Donald Trump is expected to announce Friday whether or not the government will approve a deal for Oracle to take a minority stake in TikTok and become a "trusted technology partner" for the company in the U.S. It's unclear if the Commerce Department's announcement means there's no possibility of a deal going through before the Sunday deadline, and it could be an aggressive move from the Trump Administration to push for its original intention for TikTok to be fully owned by a U.S. company. "At the President's direction, we have taken significant action to combat China's malicious collection of American citizens' personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations." Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement Friday. Friday's announcement from the Commerce Department appears to be enforcing Trump's original executive order from August 6 that gave TikTok 45 days to sell its U.S. business to a U.S. company or face a ban in the U.S. WeChat, which is one of the most popular social
The Infineon logo can be seen on a chip on the board of a microcontroller kit at the Infineon Annual General Meeting in the Congress Center of the Munich Exhibition Center. Infineon is seen as one of Europe's key technology firms in the semiconductor space. Matthias Balk | picture alliance | Getty Images SINGAPORE — Geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing remain a concern for German chipmaker Infineon and it is preparing for increased competition in the semiconductor space out of China, CEO Reinhard Ploss said.  Infineon is one of the largest semiconductor companies in the world and is a top player in automotive, power and security chips. In April, the firm completed its 9 billion euro (about $10.6 billion) takeover of U.S. semiconductor company Cypress and last month reported a net loss of 128 million euros for its fiscal third quarter.  "The geopolitical tension between the two superpowers (is) a big concern because we think we should not focus on countries, we should focus on the needs of our global society," Ploss told CNBC during the Singapore Summit, which was held virtually this year due to the coroanvirus pandemic.  "This needs cooperation —
Unity CEO John Riccitiello speaks onstage during Day 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Steve Jennings | TechCrunch | Getty Images Video game software developer Unity priced its IPO above the expected range on Thursday in an offering that initially values the company at $13.7 billion, CNBC has confirmed. Unity sold shares at $52 apiece, after lifting the range on Wednesday to between $44 and $48. Reuters was first to report on the pricing. A Unity spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Unity is wrapping up one of the busiest weeks for IPOs this year, highlighted by the Wednesday debut of Snowflake, which more than doubled in value to close the day with a market cap over $70 billion. Founded in 2004, Unity has become a major player in game creation over the past decade by giving developers the tools to create 3D titles for phones, consoles and the web without having to code for each platform. The company said in its prospectus that it has 1.5 million monthly active creators and that developers using its software are seeing
A US Postal worker delivers Amazon boxes outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 11, 2018 in New York City. Spencer Platt | Getty Images President Donald Trump has routinely blamed Amazon for problems with the U.S. Postal Service, but new documents show the e-commerce giant remains a large and lucrative customer for the USPS. The USPS circulated "fact-checking statements" internally that buck Trump's criticisms of Amazon and shed new light on its relationship with the company, according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by watchdog group American Oversight. The documents were first reported by The Washington Post.  Trump has claimed that Amazon costs the Postal Service "billions," but the USPS said in the fact-checking statements, circulated earlier this year, that Amazon was the Postal Service's "largest customer" in fiscal 2019, generating about $3.9 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion in profit.  The Postal Service also countered Trump's oft-repeated argument that it needs to raise prices to make money on deliveries, the documents show. By contrast, the USPS said it has the largest price increases "in recent history" from 2018 to 2019, including a 10% price
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg testified about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency Libra, how his company will handle false and misleading information by political leaders during the 2020 campaign and how it handles its users’ data and privacy. Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday outlined to employees a new set of principles to guide debates and conversations within Workplace, the company's internal social network. Zuckerberg outlined the changes to address "a lot of very tense conversations happening out in the world," according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. The new principles follow a set of similar changes at Google, which is increasing the moderation of its internal message boards, CNBC reported earlier this week.  "We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we've heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed," Osborne said in a statement. "We're updating our employee policies and work tools
Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman of Facebook, speaks on the second day of the 56th Munich Security Conference. The fight against propaganda campaigns and other attempts at manipulation costs Facebook billions every year. Tobias Hase | picture alliance | Getty Images Facebook on Thursday announced new policies that will limit the spread of private groups on its social network that focus on giving users health advice, as well as groups with ties to violence.  The company will no longer show health groups in its recommendations, saying that "it's crucial that people get their health information from authoritative sources," in a blog post. In the past, closed groups have been used by Facebook users to spread misinformation about vaccines and Covid-19.  Similarly, the company said it will limit the spread of groups tied to violence by removing them from recommendations, restricting them from search and reducing how often their content shows up on people's News Feeds. This move comes as Facebook has struggled to moderate groups, including a militia group in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that used Facebook to organize an event where two people were killed in real life. Facebook said it removed the pages tied to that
President Donald Trump is expect to decide on TikTok's fate in the U.S. in the next 24-36 hours, sources told CNBC's David Faber.  Walmart is expected to partner with Oracle in a deal where the latter would own roughly 20% of the social media app, according to the sources. The Treasury Department sent major revisions about security issues on the TikTok/Oracle term sheet Wednesday night, sources told CNBC's Sara Eisen. ByteDance has fully agreed to those revisions, the sources said.  Trump has been meeting with Cabinet members and other advisers as he decides whether or not to approve the deal, according to others familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. There are mixed points of views among his advisers, who include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, one of the people said. Trump said Wednesday he objected to the idea that Beijing-based ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok's U.S. operations. Still, people familiar with the matter say the ownership stake percentages haven't been a topic of negotiation and are unlikely to change. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on September 19, 2019, in Washington. Paul Morigi | Getty Images | Amazon Amazon on Thursday announced the first recipients of its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund.  The Climate Pledge Fund, launched by Amazon in June, is designed to invest in "sustainable and decarbonizing technologies," across a number of industries, such as transportation and logistics, energy generation, manufacturing and food and agriculture. One of the recipients is Redwood Materials, founded by ex-Tesla CTO JB Straubel. Amazon is also investing in four other companies: CarbonCure Technologies, which has developed a technology to consume carbon dioxide in fresh concrete during production; climate technology start-up Pachama; smart motor start-up Turntide Technologies; and Rivian, an electric van start-up Amazon has invested in previously. Amazon also uses Rivian's electric vans across a portion of its delivery fleet. Amazon declined to say how much it's investing in each company, adding that the amounts range from hundreds of thousands in seed and early-stage investments to multimillion dollar investments.  "The Climate Pledge Fund invests in visionary companies whose products and services can empower a low carbon
Apple Watch Series 6 in blue Todd Haselton | CNBC There's now an Apple Watch for all price ranges. Apple unveiled two new models this week — the high-end Series 6, which starts at $399, and the midrange Apple Watch SE, which starts at $279. Apple will continue to sell the Apple Watch Series 3 for $199. The new lineup gives Apple a wider market since billions of people have smartphones, but Canalys expects just 150 million will have smartwatches in 2020. That's a lot, but shows there are still tons of untapped buyers. It's just up to smartwatch makers like Apple, Huawei, Garmin, Fitbit and Samsung to reach them with compelling offerings. I have the Apple Watch Series 6 here, so I'll show you a bit of what it's like and explain how it stands out against the other models. But, real quick, if you think about the new family of Apple Watches in terms of features available, it's easy to think of it like this: The Series 3 at $199 is good. The Series SE at $279 is better. The $399 model is best. What actually might be best for you depends what you