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Business • Markets
Microsoft buys speech recognition firm Nuance in a $16 billion deal
Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft announced on Monday it would buy Nuance for $56 per share, about a 23% premium over Nuance’s closing price Friday.

Nuance has a strong reputation for its voice recognition technology, and it has been considered an acquisition target for companies like Apple, Microsoft and more for several years.

In an interview on CNBC's " Squawk on the Street" Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted Nuance's health care tools as the key driver behind the acquisition.

Business • Markets
Twitter said to have held acquisition talks with Clubhouse on potential $4B deal
Twitter said to have held acquisition talks with Clubhouse on potential $4B deal
Credit: unsplash.com / Adem AY

Twitter held talks with Clubhouse around a potential acquisition of the live drop-in audio networking platform, with a deal value somewhere around $4 billion, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Twitter has its own product very similar to Clubhouse - Spaces, a drop-in audio chatroom feature that it has been rolling out gradually to its user base over the past few months.

While we aren't privy to the specifics of these talks between Twitter and Clubhouse, it does seem like an awfully high price tag for the social network to pay for the audio app, especially given its own progress with Spaces.

Business • Markets
Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images
Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images
Credit: Unsplash

In a blog post, Unsplash's founder Mikael Cho says that it will continue to operate as a standalone brand inside of Getty and that the free content model won't be changing. "Over years of conversations, however, we learned about the level of respect they had for the Unsplash community and the rights of creators to choose how and where their imagery is made available," Cho writes. Cho says that after continued interaction with the Getty team, he and his fellow co-founders realized that the two brands were in "alignment" and that long-term cooperation was a good fit for Unsplash.

Business • Markets
Robinhood files for IPO
Robinhood files for IPO
Credit: Robinhood

Robinhood Inc. – a 2013-founded commission-free investment and trading app – has filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering (IPO) and plans to go public later this year.

"Robinhood Markets, Inc. has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) relating to the proposed initial public offering of its common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. The initial public offering is expected to take place after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions," the company's statement read.

Business • Markets
Australian company Linktree raises $45M Series B for its social commerce features
Australian company Linktree raises $45M Series B for its social commerce features
Credit: Illustration: Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Linktree, one of the most popular “link in bio” services with more than 12 million users, announced today it had raised $45 million in Series B funding. The Sydney, Australia-based startup latest funding will be used on tools that make social commerce easier.

Founded in 2016, Linktree is used for bio links by Shopify, Facebook, TikTok, YSL, HBO and Major League Baseball, and celebrities like Jonathan Van Ness, Jamie Oliver and Pharrell.

Business • Markets
Elon Musk announces Tesla now accepts Bitcoin as payment
Elon Musk announces Tesla now accepts Bitcoin as payment
Credit: Steve Jurvetson (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Bitcoin jumped 5% after billionaire Elon Musk announced Tesla would accept the digital asset as payment. Musk published his tweet soon after Twitter users noticed the updated bitcoin support for all models of Tesla's cars across online US stores.

The carmaker disclosed last month it invested $1.5 billion in the digital asset and said it would soon begin accepting it as payment for its products.

Business • Markets
Microsoft in talks to acquire Discord for more than $10 billion
Discord booth at the 2018 PAX West at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
Discord booth at the 2018 PAX West at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. Credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

According to sources talking to Bloomberg, Microsoft is in discussions with Discord to acquire the gaming-focused chat software for more than $10 billion.

VentureBeat reported earlier today that Discord was exploring a $10 billion-plus sale after multiple potential buyers expressed interest and that it had signed an exclusive acquisition discussion with one party, suggesting a deal could be close.

Discord's software is free for most users. Still, the company makes money through $9.99 monthly Nitro subscriptions that offer more advanced features like higher resolution screen sharing, extra sticker packs, and larger upload limits.

Business • Markets
Telegram gets a combined $150 million from Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners
Telegram gets a combined $150 million from Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners
Credit: Yuri Samoilov (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a joint statement, Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners announced they had invested a combined $150 million in messaging app Telegram.

"Our investment in Telegram establishes a strategic partnership for us to further strengthen Abu Dhabi's technology ecosystem as well as bring new levels of tech skills and talent to the capital," Mubadala said in the statement.

Launched in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov as a secure messaging app, Telegram has its headquarters in the UAE.

Business • Markets
Home deliveries boost FedEx's sales past $20 billion, profit nearly triples
FedEx Truck
FedEx Truck Credit: Dano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

FedEx shares have more than doubled in price since the pandemic forced government officials to shutter businesses and issue stay-at-home orders. The revenue for the quarter ended Feb. 28 grew 23% to $21.5 billion, boosted by a half-billion holiday package deliveries and COVID-19 vaccines shipments.

Average daily package volume for FedEx Ground, which counts Walmart among its top e-commerce shipping partners, jumped 25% to 13.2 million during the quarter.

The results came even as severe winter weather in February disrupted service at important facilities in Memphis, Indianapolis and North Texas and reduced quarterly operating income by about $350 million.

Business • Markets
Stripe reaches $95 billion valuation after last funding round
Stripe Logo
Stripe Logo Credit: Stripe

The digital payments company Stripe boosted its valuation to $95 billion after a Series H funding round of $600 million.

The company plans to "invest a ton more in Europe this year," using the new capital in 31 European countries of the 42 that it operates worldwide.

In its previous funding round last April, Stripe was early to highlight the Covid-19 outbreak as "pushing the economy online" and said, "several years of offline-to-online migration are being compressed into several weeks."

Business • Markets
Roblox goes public and is instantly worth more than $45 billion
Roblox logo
Roblox logo Credit: Roblox

Roblox, a company that describes itself as a "metaverse" where players can make their own avatars and environments, saw its shares surge nearly 55% to $69.50 after the IPO. Roblox valuation is currently more than $45 billion.

The company generates nearly all of its revenue from the sale of its Robux currency, which can be used to purchase in-game virtual objects. Last year the total revenue was nearly $925 million, up 82% from 2019.

Roblox announced earlier this month that it now expects sales to rise about another 60% this year to a range of $1.44 billion to $1.52 billion.

Business • Markets
Square acquires the majority stake of TIDAL in a $297 million deal
Square Logo
Square Logo Credit: Square Inc.

Square, Jack Dorsey’s digital payments company, is acquiring a majority ownership stake in the music streaming service TIDAL. Jay-Z, who bought Tidal in 2015 for $56 million, will join Square’s board of directors.

Jack Dorsey tweeted: "Square is acquiring a majority ownership stake in TIDAL through a new joint venture, with the original artists becoming the second largest group of shareholders, and JAY-Z joining the Square board. Why would a music streaming company and a financial services company join forces?!"

"I said from the beginning that TIDAL was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers," said Jay-Z.

Business • Markets
Star investor Buffett bought back Berkshire stock for almost 25 billion dollars in 2020
Star investor Buffett bought back Berkshire stock for almost 25 billion dollars in 2020
Credit: USA International Trade Administration / via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Berkshire Hathaway bought back its own shares in 2020 for more money than ever before. In total, the conglomerate spent 24.7 billion dollars (20.5 billion euros) on this kind of share price maintenance, according to its annual report published on Saturday.

In the fourth quarter, Warren Buffett's investment company invested nine billion dollars in its own shares, which was almost exactly the same as the record volume in the previous quarter. Berkshire Hathaway was able to strongly increase its net profit at the end of the year.

Business • Markets
DigitalOcean files for a $100 million IPO
Digital Ocean logo
Digital Ocean logo Credit: Digital Ocean

DigitalOcean, which offers cloud computing services and web development tools to SMBs, filed on Thursday with the SEC to raise $100 million in an initial public offering. The company has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DOCN.”

Business • Markets
Reddit raised an additional $118 million to its Series E funding round
Reddit logo
Reddit logo Credit: Reddit

Reddit, which announced a $250 million Series E earlier this February, has added over $118 million to the financing event. The current round total is now $367 million, according to a new SEC filing. The filing shows that Reddit is aiming to raise $500 million in this round.

The Series E, which came from investors such as Tencent, Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia, valued the firm at $6 billion, double its last valuation from two years ago.

Originally founded in 2005, Reddit has long existed on the nerdy side of the internet, where its text- and image-focused forums have devoted themselves to a wide variety of topics, everything from video games and GIFs to cute pets and cigarettes to Donald Trump and sports.

Business • Markets
YouTuber "Roaring Kitty" faces lawsuit after GameStop hype
YouTuber "Roaring Kitty" faces lawsuit after GameStop hype
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

YouTuber "Roaring Kitty", whose real name is Keith Gill, is being sued in the US for his involvement in the GameStop stock hype. A class action lawsuit accuses Gill of violating stock laws and causing "huge losses" to investors, according to the statement of claim filed in Massachusetts and dated Tuesday.

The lawsuit accuses Gill of actually being an expert in securities trading who manipulated the market to profit himself. The YouTuber concealed his expertise and misled private investors on social media to buy shares.

Following the fabulous ups and downs of GameStop's share price, the YouTuber is due to testify alongside hedge fund managers and company CEOs before a US House of Representatives committee on Thursday. Gill released a written version of his planned testimony on Wednesday. "The notion that I could have used social media to promote GameStop stock to uninformed investors is absurd," he wrote. "I made it sufficiently clear that my channel was for educational purposes only and that my aggressive investment style was probably not appropriate for most people."

Business • Markets
Nestlé sells North American spring water brands for $4.3 billion
Nestlé sells North American spring water brands for $4.3 billion
Credit: unsplash.com / Brian Yurasits

Nestlé is selling its North American water business for 4.3 billion dollars to the US financial investor One Rock Capital Partner, as the Swiss group announced on Wednesday night. Brands such as Poland Spring, Deer Park, Ozarka, Ice Mountain, Arrowhead, and Pure Life are being sold, as well as the US beverage delivery service ReadyFresh.

Business • Markets
Bitcoin surpasses $50k for the first time
Bitcoin surpasses $50k for the first time
Credit: unsplash.com / Bermix Studio

Bitcoin has surpassed the $50,000 mark for the first time on Tuesday, after Tesla, BNY Mellon and Mastercard showed support for the cryptocurrency and "the city of Miami’s recent moves to adopt bitcoin, and rumors of Uber and Apple jumping aboard."

Business • Markets
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Credit: unsplash.com / Adrien Olichon

In January, 9.2 billion euros were traded daily on the Amsterdam stock exchanges, significantly more than in London with 8.6 billion euros, according to figures from the financial market firm Cboe Europe.

By comparison, in 2020, an average of 17.5 billion euros per day had still been traded in London, according to Cboe, while Frankfurt was second with 5.9 billion euros per day and Amsterdam only sixth with 2.6 billion per day.

Business • Markets
Snapchat reports 16 million new daily users during last quarter
Snapchat reports 16 million new daily users during last quarter
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

The photo app Snapchat added 16 million daily users last quarter. Revenue jumped 62 percent year-over-year to $911.3 million, while the bottom line was in the red by just over $113 million. In the same quarter last year, the loss was more than twice as high at 240.7 million dollars.

Business • Markets
Family of suicide victim sues trading platform Robinhood
Family of suicide victim sues trading platform Robinhood
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Following the suicide of a young user of the app Robinhood, the victim's family has sued the US financial services provider. Robinhood used "aggressive tactics and strategies" to attract young inexperienced investors to "take large risks for the allure of tempting profits," according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Santa Clara, California. Twenty-year-old Alex K. took his own life last June.

While still in high school, K. had opened an account on the retail investor app Robinhood and later traded and speculated in financial products and options. He had no experience with this, his parents later said. One day, he found his account with the app in the red - it was more than $730,000 negative. According to the lawsuit filed by his parents and sister, he didn't owe the company that money but was too inexperienced to understand the notice.

Business • Markets
Reddit raised a $250 million Series E funding
Reddit logo
Reddit logo Credit: Reddit

Reddit announced on Monday that it had raised $250 million in new funding, valuing the social news start-up at $6 billion. This is the company's Series E round of financing, and it comes hot on the heels of renewed public attention on the site that has dubbed itself 'the front page of the Internet,' owing to the role the subreddit r/WallStreetBets played in the recent meteoric rise (and subsequent steep fall) of the value of GameStop stock.

The company celebrates in 2021 its 16th year of operation, and, so far, has raised around $800 million. The latest round included financing from “existing and new investors,” Reddit noted in a blog post in which it announced the funding.

Business • Markets
DNA-testing firm 23andMe to go public as a $3.5 billion through Richard Branson-backed SPAC deal
23andme test kit
23andme test kit Credit: Nicki Dugan Pogue (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A blank-check firm, backed by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, is taking consumer DNA-testing firm 23andMe public in a deal that values the merged entity at $3.5 billion, both companies said on Thursday. The company will trade under the symbol “ME” on the New York Stock Exchange.

A SPAC, or a blank-check firm, is a shell company that raises funds in an initial public offering (IPO) to acquire a private company, becoming public due to the merger.

Over the years, 23andMe has become popular with consumers, and in 2018 caught the eye of GlaxoSmithKline, which invested $300 million in the Silicon Valley company, best known for its saliva-based test kits that offer users a glimpse into their genetic ancestry.

Business • Markets
Hedge fund Melvin Capital lost 53% in January after betting against GameStop stock
Hedge fund Melvin Capital lost 53% in January after betting against GameStop stock
Credit: Courtesy of LinkedIn

The hedge fund Melvin Capital apparently lost more than half of its assets in January. The reason is the heavy increase GameStop stock which Melvin Capital has short positions on. The news agency Reuters quotes an insider familiar with the company's figures. According to the report, the assets invested by Melvin Capital, which amounted to 12.5 billion dollars at the beginning of the year, had fallen by 53 percent by the end of the month.

Nevertheless, the company ended January with more than eight billion dollars in assets - after hedge funds Point72 and Citadel prevented the collapse of their partner with a financial injection of 2.75 billion dollars.

Business • Markets
Brazilian fintech Nubank raises $400M Series G
NuBank logo
NuBank logo Credit: NuBank

NuBank, a fintech based in São Paulo, Brazil, is valued at $25 billion as the fourth most valuable financial institution in Latin America and the largest digital bank in the world by the number of customers and app downloads.

The round was led by private and public investors including Singapore’s GIC, Whale Rock, and Invesco. Current investors Tencent, Dragoneer, Ribbit Capital, and Sequoia also participated in the round.

Business • Markets
Class-action lawsuit filed after multiple broker limit trade with GameStop stock
Class-action lawsuit filed after multiple broker limit trade with GameStop stock
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

A Robinhood customer filed a class-action lawsuit against the stock-trading app Thursday after the company barred traders from buying shares of GameStop promoted by WallStreetBets, a popular Reddit group for investors. The lawsuit claims Robinhood's decision deprived retail investors of potential gains they could have made by buying when the stock was low and selling when its price rose.

In addition to Robinhood other brokers worldwide had limited the trade with GameStop and other stocks.

Business • Markets
The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation
The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House is monitoring the wild and ever-changing situation with video game retailer GameStop's stock price during her daily briefing on Wednesday, telling reporters that US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and her team are watching what's going on, though there is no word on if any action will be taken.

Psaki said that their economic team "are monitoring the situation. It's a good reminder, though, that the stock market isn't the only measure of the health of our economy,"

Business • Markets
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Credit: Ser_Amantio_di_Nicolao / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Since January 1, despite no real change in the underlying business, GameStop's share price has surged 1,915 per cent.

Shares of video game retailer GameStop and movie theater giant AMC Entertainment soared to astronomical levels Wednesday as an apparent swarm of ordinary investors, spurred on by a Reddit message board, took on big Wall Street funds that had bet the stock prices would fall.

The GameStop and AMC price surges were so dramatic that trading for both companies was temporarily halted by the stock exchanges to temper volatility.

Business • Markets
Office Depot rejected a takeover attempt by office supply rival, Staples
Office Depot store
Office Depot store Credit: The ODP Corporation

However, the parent company of Office Depot said it is open to a different kind of a deal, such as selling its retail and e-commerce businesses to Staples or agreeing to a joint venture, according to the report.

In a letter, ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo wrote that a deal that's not a full takeover "could be executed more efficiently and with far greater certainty and less regulatory risk than your proposal." He wrote the letter to Stefan Kaluzny, the managing director of Sycamore Partners and a board member of USR Parent, the subsidiary over Staples.

This was the third attempt by Staples to acquire Office Depot.

Business • Markets
Staples proposes buying rival Office Depot for $2.1 billion
Staples Inc. logo
Staples Inc. logo

Five years after the US government blocked a prior attempt, Staples is again looking to buy rival Office Depot in a $2.1 billion cash deal.

Staples went private in 2017, selling itself to Sycamore Partners, a firm focused on keeping distressed retailers afloat. To avoid antitrust scrutiny, Staples proposed selling its IT management company CompuCom or its business-to-business unit.