Over the last five days, Tesla shareholders watched the value of their stock decline by roughly 16 percent and saw nearly $8 billion in value erased, as the company’s celebrity chief executive, Elon Musk, had what amounts to a very public breakdown. For months, Musk has been showing signs of strain, and has been accused of making questionable decisions to drive growth and stifle criticism or dissent at the revolutionary electric vehicle company he founded. Privately and on background the board (or certain members) expressed concern over Musk’s recent behavior, drug use (both medicinal and recreational) and Twitter habits. The problem is that Musk’s cult of personality is so intertwined with Tesla’s corporate identity, there’s a fear that as Musk goes so goes Tesla. That’s no way to run a business, and it’s no way to ensure long-term value for shareholders (either as a public or private company). Ultimately the board at Tesla needs to step in and take a more active role in overseeing the company, before the next decision they find themselves confronted with is the company’s liquidation.
A new leak from Android Authority points to several changes coming to the Fitbit Charge 3, the company’s latest premiere fitness tracker. First, the device has a full touchscreen rather than a clunky quasi-touchscreen like the Charge 2. This touchscreen can allow users to easily navigate the device and even reply to notifications and messages. Second, the Charge 3 will be swim-proof to 50 meters. Finally, and this is a bad one, the Charge 3 will not have GPS built-in meaning users will have to bring a smartphone along for a run if they want GPS data. ♀️ This is a big change for Fitbit. If this leak is correct on all points, it shows Fitbit making a move into smartwatch territory. With a full touchscreen, and a notification reply function, the Charge 3 is gaining a lot of functionality for its size. Price and availability was not revealed but chances are the device will hit the stores in the weeks ahead of the holidays. #fitbit#fitness#smartwatch#tech
Disrupt SF is right around the corner and we have some good news for you. Initialized Capital’s Garry Tan will join our very own Connie Loizos and Alex Wilhelm for a live recording of Equity on the Showcase Stage at 3PM on Thursday Sept. 6!
And it gets even better. If you want to obtain a discounted ticket to Disrupt (and why wouldn’t you?), head to our ticket page (techcrunch.com/events/disrupt-sf-2018) and use the code “EQUITY” to get 15 percent off. Come for Equity and stay to see Aileen Lee, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Anne Wojcicki, Arlan Hamilton, Ashton Kutcher, Mike Judge and many more. We’ll see you at Disrupt SF! #startups#tech#tcdisrupt#siliconvalley
California is moving toward becoming the first state to require companies to have women on their boards. Sparked by debates around fair pay, sexual harassment and workplace culture, two female state senators are spearheading a bill to promote greater gender representation in corporate decision-making. Of the 445 publicly traded companies in California, a quarter of them lack a single woman in their boardrooms. SB 826, which won Senate approval with only Democratic votes and has until the end of August to clear the Assembly, would require publicly held companies headquartered in California to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by end of next year. By 2021, companies with boards of five directors must have at least two women, and companies with six-member boards must have at least three women. Firms failing to comply would face a fine. Yet critics of the bill say it violates the federal and state constitutions. Business associations say the rule would require companies to discriminate against men wanting to serve on boards, as well as conflict with corporate law that says the internal affairs of a corporation should be governed by the state law in which it is incorporated. 🤨
What’s your stance on SB 826? Should state governments have the power to enforce gender rules on publicly held businesses? Let us know in the comments below. ♀️
In July of 2018 there were 55 venture rounds of $100M or more worldwide, totaling just over $15B. That set a record for the number of venture deals north of $100M and pointed to a new normal in VC funding. A new study from Crunchbase outlines where these enormous rounds came from and when the trend began. Here’s what the data suggests: The first major uptick in nine-figure funding rounds took place in the U.S. in Q1 2014, whereas in China a round of that size didn’t occur until Q4 2014. In the last two years funding rounds of $100M+ in China and the U.S. are highly correlated, perhaps implying competition in the market. Startups outside the U.S. and China are beginning to raise supergiant rounds at a faster rate, although the uptick is significantly less dramatic.
What’s less obvious is just how quickly China became a powerhouse in supergiant rounds. After the start of 2013, it only took a couple of years for Chinese companies to consistently account for 30 to 40% of the $100M+ VC rounds raised in any given six-month period. And since the beginning of 2017, Chinese startups and U.S. startups are raising roughly the same number of supergiant venture rounds as one another.
This is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It has a bigger battery, updated S-Pen and improved camera. It starts at $1,000.
The new Note isn’t a radical departure in any respect. The latest version of the industry-defining phablet is more focused on the fundamentals. It’s honestly a welcome change from a company like Samsung that often feels entirely focused on the bells and whistles. More storage, a better camera, an improved S-Pen and a considerably larger battery are all on-board this time out.
Anki, a robotics company based in San Francisco has offered up a handful of distinctly different smart toys, from its Drive smart cars to 2016’s Cozmo robot. The company’s latest creation, Vector, is Cozmo for adults. In many ways, the new ‘bot is built on the lessons learned from Cozmo, coupled with more advanced internals. Vector has ~700 parts — double the number of its predecessor, while its brain is a much more advanced Snapdragon processor. Vector’s face also features a higher res display, making it capable of expressing subtler emotion redesigned by a staff of ex-Pixar and Dreamworks animators the company employs. So, what does all of this add up to, exactly? The company certainly has some grand ambitions. Anki believes it’s well-positioned to offer users the gateway to the next generation of home robots. #robotics#artificialintelligence#machinelearning#sanfrancisco#tech
The Stories War has officially killed Snapchat’s growth. In its Q2 earnings report, the company reported its user base shrank by 1.5 percent to 188 million, down from 191 million in Q1. However, Snapchat beat expectations with $262.3 million in revenue and an ESP loss of $0.14. Wall Street estimated an EPS loss of $0.17 with $249.8 million in revenue.
Unlike some of its competitors, Snapchat has been able to escape much of the scrutiny regarding fake news and election interference. But competitors like Instagram Stories continue to surge, now with 400 million daily Stories users and WhatsApp Status now having 450 million. Combined, Facebook has over 1.1 billion daily (duplicated) Stories users across its family of apps. That reach could make it tough for Snap to compete for ad dollars. And with its user count actually decreasing, that could make for a grim future for the teen sensation.
Facebook is in dire need of change. TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas came up with these four step to fix the company for the better. How would you change Facebook? Let us know in the comments below. #facebook#zuckerberg#instagram#tech
July of 2018 saw venture capital investments kick into overdrive with a surge in ‘mega rounds’ of $100 million or more. With 55 deals accounting for just over $15 billion, July likely set an all-time record for the number of investments north of $100 million in a single month.
So why is this happening? For one, the market is currently awash in money. Billions of dollars in dry powder is in the offing as VCs continue to raise new and ever-larger venture funds. All that capital has to be put to work somewhere.
The current climate also presents a stark contrast to the last time the market was this active in the late 1990s. Back then, companies looking to raise nine and ten-figure sums would typically have to turn to private equity firms, boutique late-stage tech investors, or raise from the public market via an IPO. Now some VC firms are able to provide financial and strategic support from the first investment check a private company cashes to when it goes public or gets acquired.
It happened. Apple won the race to $1 trillion in market capitalization. Following this week’s earnings report, Apple shares briefly traded at $207.05, which values the company slightly over $1 trillion.
Despite a saturated smartphone market, Apple managed to increase its margins and the average selling price thanks to the iPhone X. iPhone sales grew by 1 percent, but revenue jumped by 20 percent. With $53.3 billion in revenue, the company managed to grow by 17 percent year-over-year. iPad sales are more or less flat while Mac sales are down. For the past few years, Apple has been saying that services are going to become a key part of the company’s bottom line. All various services (Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Pay, etc.) now represent $9.6 billion in revenue.
Big tech companies have been performing incredibly well for the past year. Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Microsoft now all have a credible shot at crossing the $1 trillion mark. This raises a number of questions, however. Do they cause antitrust issues? Is there enough regulation to make sure they don’t hold too much economic and political power? Apple (and Tim Cook) are more powerful than many countries and political leaders. Let’s hope they use this power for good.