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Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.
The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.
Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when …

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TechCrunch, still not dead

You may have seen an article over at Axios today about the rebrand of many of the Verizon Media products under a new Yahoo+ banner. I would like to congratulate all of the teams that have worked hard to build a cohesive brand identity and a new plan for a bunch of great properties with fine individuals at the helm.
Unfortunately, some of the wording in the article, and a subsequent Techmeme headline on the old twitter dot com have led some people to believe that TechCrunch would now be YahooCrunch or some such situation. That is not correct. TechCrunch …

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Investors get a rise out of Walmart’s agreement to stock more Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat shares soared today on the heels of an announcement that Walmart is beefing up its relationship with the purveyor of meatless protein patties, sausages, and balls.
900 stores will now be stocking Beyond Meat’s hot Italian sausages and its party packs of beefless burgers — those grilling delectations for the omnivores, vegetarians and vegans who no longer want to ask “Where’s the beef?”
Beyond Meat’s increased distribution at Walmart stores is the second jump in production over the past year and part of the company’s efforts to lock down the market for plant-based meat substitutes.
The …

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.
Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, …

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Maestro nets $15 million for its interactive commerce, community and engagement tools for livestreams

Making money on livestreams has never been easier thanks to a suite of tools from the Los Angeles-based startup Maestro, which just nabbed $15 million in financing to grow its business.
As video commerce becomes the norm and entertainers, brands, businesses, and franchises of all sizes and stripes look to cut out the middle man, the array of services on offer from Maestro may be the scissors these entities need to cut the cord.
The company has already worked with names as diverse as the Golden State Warriors, the Dallas Cowboys, and pop sensation Billy Eilish on embedding its interactive tools …

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Ford bets on Google Cloud for its digital transformation

Google and Ford today announced a new partnership around bringing Android Automotive to Ford’s Ford- and Lincoln-branded cars, starting in 2023. But at the same time, the two companies also announced that Ford has chosen Google Cloud as its preferred cloud provider.
“With Google Cloud, Ford will digitally transform from the front office to the car to the manufacturing plant floor,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said in a press conference today. “And there are a number of different applications, including modernizing product development, improving manufacturing and supply chain management, using computer vision AI for employee training, inspection of equipment …

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Color raises $167 million funding at $1.5 billion valuation to expand ‘last mile’ of U.S. health infrastructure

Healthcare startup Color has raised a sizeable $167 million in Series D funding round, at a valuation of $1.5 billion post-money, the company announced today. This brings the total raised by Color to $278 million, with its latest large round intended to help it build on a record year of growth in 2020 with even more expansion to help put in place key health infrastructure systems across the U.S. – including those related to the “last mile” delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
This latest investment into Color was led by General Catalyst, and by funds invested by T. Rowe Price, along with participation from Viking …

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Teledyne to acquire FLIR in $8 billion cash and stock deal

Industrial sensor giant Teledyne is set to acquire sensing company FLIR in a deal valued at around $8 billion in a mix of stock and cash, pending approvals with an expected closing date sometime in the middle of this year. While both companies make sensors, aimed primarily at industrial and commercial customers, they actually focus on different specialties that Teledyne said in a press release makes FLIR’s business complimentary to, rather than competitive with, its existing offerings.
FLIR’s technology has appeared in the consumer market via add-on thermal cameras designed for mobile devices, including the iPhone. These are useful …

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After burning through $2 billion, Katerra gets a $200 million SoftBank lifeline to escape bankruptcy

SoftBank Group is reportedly investing $200 million to bail out Katerra, a startup that had hoped to remake the construction industry with a vertically integrated approach, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Katerra’s shareholders reportedly approved the new investment on Wednesday, with the new lifeline from SoftBank coming on top of roughly $2 billion that the Japanese technology conglomerate had already committed to the venture.
Funds for the bailout, which will save Katerra from bankruptcy, will be coming from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 1, the Journal quoted Katerra chief executive Paal Kibsgaard as telling company shareholders in a message.

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PepsiCo signs on to sponsor new founder-in-residence program from M13

The budding venture studio being built inside M13 has signed PepsiCo as its first new corporate partner.
Through the deal, PepsiCo has agreed to bankroll the first founder-in-residence program from the New York and Los Angeles-based firm, which poached former Techstars Los Angeles managing director Anna Barber to lead its new initiative.
The initial M13 Launchpad program will leverage PepsiCo executives and advisors to take entrepreneurs-in-residence on a 12-week long program in ideating and launching a health and wellness-focused startup.
“Today there is a wealth of data available to consumers about their own health, and the movement toward home testing …

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