Free to Play Games Generated $88 Billion in 2018 Revenue

In 2018, free to play (F2P) games - such as the smash-hit Fortnite - generated a staggering $88 billion in revenue.

How Free Gaming Pays

While these games do not charge up-front fees to play, developers have found a myriad of ways to generate revenue from the games. Such revenue includes in-game purchases, subscriptions for special bonuses, ad sales, and a host of other revenue generating devices.

2018: A Huge Year in Gaming

According to Nielsen’s owned gaming research company Superdata, in 2018 the global gaming market was worth a whopping $110 billion. According to the report - at $61 billion mobile gaming accounted for roughly 55% of the figure. On mobile F2P platforms, Fornite was far-and-away the largest earner, bringing in an enormous $2.4 billion in revenue. According to Superdata, the $110 billion in total gaming revenue represents an 11% rise year-over-year from 2017. At $88 billion, F2P gaming accounts for roughly 80% of that figure.

Asian Nations Leading the Way

According to Superdata, the lion’s share of this revenue, roughly $54.3 billion, was generated from Asian countries. This number reflects an expansion by tech giant Tencent into the gaming market in the region. North America came in second place, seeing some $14.8 billion in F2P generated revenue, and European countries came in third with roughly $11 billion. Much of the gaming revenue from both the U.S. and European markets was also generated from more premium sources as well.

A New Gaming Landscape

The Superdata report also mentions the rise in gaming revenue from streaming sites such as Twitch and YouTube. According to the report, nearly half of all gaming revenue was generated through these two platforms. Such figures represent a shift away from traditional platforms and, when couple with the rise in competitive gaming and e-sports, represent the ever evolving landscape of the growing gaming industry.  


NYC-based Infor Secures $1.5 Billion Investment Ahead of IPO

NYC-based enterprise software company Infor announced last week it has received a fresh $1.5 billion investment from shareholders Koch Equity Development LLC (KED) and Golden Gate Capital.

A New Investment at the Right Time

The new investment brings the total raised by Infor to $3.5 billion, with $6.1 billion in debt. The new round is expected in-part to be used to pay down some of this debt. The latest round of funding also comes just two years after KED invested $2 billion plus cash in early 2017. According to the company statement, the new investment marks an, ‘important milestone as Infor considers a potential IPO in 2019 or 2020, subject to market conditions.’

Paying Down Debt

As stated, Infor plans to use a large portion of the investment to pay down some of its debt ahead of the company's IPO. According to reports, the company plans to pay off $500 million in senior secured notes which are due in 2020, and another $750 million in senior secured cash pay notes due in 2021. With regard to this plan Infor CFO Kevin Samuelson remarked on an call to investors, “We expect this paydown, in combination with cash flows and estimated IPO proceeds, will provide Infor with leverage levels consistent with other successful IPOs over the past few years.”

Constantly Innovating

According to the company statement, in the time Infor has partnered with KED and Golden Gate, the company has invested, 'approximately $2.5 billion in product design and development over the last five years and delivered more than 475 new products, 1,870 integrations, and 20,700 industry features in its CloudSuite product line.’

Largest NYC-based Tech IPO Ever?

Currently, Infor has over 17,000 employees, and over 68,000 customers in 100 countries. The company generated over $3 billion in revenue in 2018 alone. Though the company will not comment on a valuation at this time, some analyst have stated an IPO valuation for the company could see the a value as high as $60 billion. If such a valuation is reached, it would mark the largest IPO for any NYC-based tech company ever.

Whether or not such a valuation at IPO will come to pass however, remains to be seen.


NYC-based Knock Raises $400 Million

NYC-based startup Knock has raised $400 million in Series B funding.

A Revolutionary Home-Buying Experience

Knock is a home trade-in platform which helps users find a home, then purchases that home for them in cash so the user can move in while Knock sells their old home. For their effort, Knock receives a 3% commission from both the buyer and seller. By using data science and information technology, the company is able to price homes accurately and sell them quickly in competitive markets.

Courting Old and New Investors

Founded in 2015, Knock has already raised more than $434 million after four rounds of funding. The most recent - and by far the largest - was led by The Foundry Group and also saw participation from existing investors RRE Ventures, Corazon Capital, WTI, and FJ Labs, as well as participation from new investor, Company Ventures. Previously, Knock had raised $32.5 million in Series A funding in a round led by RRE Ventures.

Funding for Expansion

The new round of funding will reportedly be used to more than double the company's current workforce, as well as being used to expand nationwide. Currently, Knock operates in five markets: Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Dallas, and Fort Worth. The new round of funding is intended to increase this reach dramatically.

A Revolutionary Home-buying Experience

The company was founded when former Trulia employees Sean Black and Jamie Glenn decided to build an end-to-end marketplace where people could easily trade in homes. According to co-founder and CEO Sean Black, “We are trying to make it as easy to trade in your house as it is to trade in your car.” For users, the idea of streamlining the complicated process of home buying is a welcome one. To date, Knock has helped more than 4,000 people trade in their home.

Investors Are Optimistic

Investors seem taken with the idea as well. In a written
statement, Foundry Group partner Seth Levine stated, “At
Foundry we love working with passionate founders who are on a mission to
fundamentally change an industry. The Knock team is exactly that — combining
years of experience in real estate technology with a fundamental drive to
change the way consumers buy and sell homes.”


Fiserv to Acquire First Data for $22 Billion

It was announced today fintech company Fiserv will acquire First Data in a deal worth $22 billion. 

Terms of the Deal

In the all-stock deal, First Data shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.303 Fiserv shares for each share of First Data common stock they own. The .303 number represents a premium of the 5-days volume weighted average of First Data shares as of yesterday’s closing. The resulting transaction equates to a deal worth roughly $22 billion in equity value. If the transaction is approved, Fiserv shareholders will own 57.5% of the resulting company, while First Data shareholders will retain the remaining 42.5%. 

Fiserv: A History of Fintech Services

Founded in 1984, Fiserv has long been a provider of financial services technologies to U.S. banks. In 2015, both American Banker and BAI ranked Fiserv third in revenue among technology providers to U.S. banks. According to a company statement, Fiserv expects to report GAAP revenue of $5.82 billion for 2018, a figure which represents a 2% increase from the prior year. 

First Data: A History of Transaction Technology

First Data - which went public in 2015 - provides electronic transaction technology to merchants, financial institutions, and customers alike. The company operates in over 100 countries, and its technology is found at more than 6.2 million merchant locations. The company's technology is currently used by over 4,000 financial institutions, and boasts more than 3,000 transactions per second, which add up to more than $2.4 trillion in funds processed per year. 

A Merger of Mutual Admiration

In a statement regarding the merger, Fiserv CEO Jeffery Yubuki remarked, “We admire First Data for its excellence in merchant acquiring and global issuing services, and the tremendous progress they have made under Frank’s leadership. We expect this combination to catalyze and support an enhanced value proposition for our collective clients and their customers.” The statement of mutual admiration was echoed by First Data CEO Frank Bisgnano in stating, “I have long admired what Fiserv has achieved over the years, and I look forward to working with the talented associates of both companies as we set a higher standard of innovation and service in the industry,” 

If the deal is approved as expected, Fiserv CEO Jeffery Yabuki will become the CEO and chairman of the combined company, while First Data CEO Frank Bisignano will become the president and COO, as well as joining the board of directors.

The deal is expected to close sometime in the second half of 2019.


Rubrik Doubles Valuation to $3.3 Billion

Today it was announced cloud data management company Rubrik has raised $261 million in Series E funding at a $3.3 billion valuation. 

Doubling the Company's Valuation

The most recent round was led by Bain Capital Ventures and saw participation from existing investors LightSpeed Ventures, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, and IVP. At $3.3 billion, the new round of funding more than doubles Rubrik’s previous valuation of $1.3 billion, which was reached when the company raised $180 million in Series D funding last April. To date, Rubrik has raised more than $553 million after five rounds of funding. 

Innovating a Unicorn

The most recent round of funding makes Rubrik one of the highest valued companies in enterprise software. This is largely due to the fact Rubrik has become one of the key players in the data management area of backup and recovery. One of the most important innovations Rubrik created was the ability for company’s to allow their on-site servers to backup to the cloud. Such innovation allowed Rubrik to join the ranks of unicorn startups more than two years ago. 

Innovating for the Future

The new round of funding will reportedly be used for further innovations as well. In the company release Rubrik CEO Bipul Sinha stated, “Our previous fundraising in 2017 was focused on global expansion and increasing our reach into the enterprise market. Now, with thousands of customers around the world, industry-leading customer satisfaction ratings, and numerous analyst and industry awards, we have customers asking us to solve new challenges. This new capital will speed the introduction of exciting new products in 2019 that will solve those customer challenges and significantly expand our strategic footprint in the enterprise.”

A Top-Tier Startup

According to NetPromoter, Rubrik has a customer satisfaction rating of 82%, which is among the highest in the industry. Along with this rating, the company’s also enjoys a customer satisfaction with customer service rating of 98.6%. Currently, Rubrik has over 1,400 employees across the globe, and in 2018, Rubrik was ranked in the top 10 of LinkIn’s Top Startups for the second year in a row. 

Satisfied Investors

To those most familiar with the company, it's no wonder Rubrik enjoys such success. According to Bain Capital Ventures partner Enrique Salem, “Rubrik has won the trust and loyalty of large enterprise customers around the globe by offering a simple and reliable solution that solves the challenge of protecting and managing data in a hybrid cloud world.”  It is just such sentiment which seems to ensure Rubrik is well positioned to enjoy continued success well into the future.


Postmates Raises $100 Million at $1.85 Billion Valuation

Food-delivery startup Postmates has raised an additional $100 million in Series F funding at a $1.85 billion valuation.

A Large Round of Funding Before an IPO

The latest round of funding comes just four months after Postmates closed a $300 million round of Series E funding which, at the time, valued the company at $1.2 billion. The most recent round - led by Tiger Global Management, BlackRock, and Glynn Capital Management – will perhaps be used to reduce the amount the company will look to raise when it goes public, as it is anticipated in the first half of 2019. 

A 2019 IPO in a Crowded Rideshare Market

As reported, Postmates has begun preparations for an anticipated 2019 IPO. With several other large competitors also slotted to go public in the new years, exactly how Wall Street will respond to the food delivery company's IPO is anyone’s guess. Though Postmates was one of the first to enter the mobile food delivery marketplace, other major players such as Uber Eats and the SoftBank-backed DoorDash have prevented Postmates from ever totally cornering the market. 

Carving Out a Niche

Nevertheless, Postmates has carved out a very nice little niche for itself in the mobile food delivery space. As of the end of 2018, the company was reportedly completing 5 million deliveries per month and generated more than $400 million in 2018 annual revenue. Currently, the company operates in more than 550 cities. 

One of the First Successful Delivery Apps

Founded in 2011, the company quickly grew to signup drivers and franchises to partner with across the country. Postmates quickly expanded to over 44 U.S. markets, and saw the lion’s share of the on-demand delivery market, until Uber launched Uber Eats in 2014. To date, Postmates has raised more than $678 million after eleven rounds of funding. 


N26 Raises $300 Million at $2.7 Billion Valuation

European banking startup N26 has reportedly raised $300 million in new Series D funding. After this newest round of funding, the fintech startup reportedly has a valuation of $2.7 billion.

Planning a U.S. Expansion

The Germany-based N26 is a mobile banking app boasting more than 2.3 million users across 24 European markets. The latest round of funding will reportedly be used to expand into the United States. The most recent round was led be Insight Venture Partners, with participation from several existing investors as well. To date, N26 has raised more than $512 million after six rounds of funding.

Doubling the Valuation in Under a Year

The $2.7 billion valuation reflects the booming value in the young company. Less than ten months earlier, N26 closed a $160 million round of Series C funding which the time gave the company a valuation of less than $1 billion. However, now after having raised another $300 million, having expanded to 24 European markets, having gained 2.3 million users, and furthered plans to expand into the United States, that valuation has more than doubled.

An Easier Way of Banking

Part of the N26 appeal is the way the company streamlines the banking process. In a matter of minutes, users can setup an online bank account and register for debit cards. From there, the rest of the process can be handled online or through the company's mobile app.

The Challenge of the U.S. Market

Whether or not the venture will work in the United States however, is a different story altogether. As a result of strict U.S. regulations, a radically different banking environment, and a different customer base, few European fintech companies have been able to successfully crack the U.S. market. That said, with the recent $300 million round of funding representing the largest round of private equity financing for a European fintech company, it seems N26 has investor confidence few other fintechs have ever shared.


IBM Unveils First Commercial Quantum Computer

 

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, IBM unveiled its first ever standalone commercial quantum computer, the IBM Q System One.

The First Standalone Commercial Quantum Computer

Currently, access to the IBM Q System One will only be available over the cloud. The 20-qubit system has applications for research and business, and as IBM describes it, it is, ‘the world’s first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use.’

What Is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing utilizes the laws of quantum mechanics - such as superposition and entanglement - to replace traditional binary calculations. In traditional binary-based digital electronic computers, transistors and capacitors represent information in a series of 1’s and 0’s. In quantum computing however, information is stored and transferred as quantum bits (qubits) which - due to the quantum principle of superposition - may be represented as both 1’s and 0’s simultaneously. This new way of calculating makes possible computations previously impossible for traditional deterministic computers.

A Step in the Right Direction

While the IBM Q System One is an exciting new advancement, it is far from the fully realized promise quantum computing enthusiasts have been awaiting. According to professor of quantum technologies at the UK’s University of Sussex, with regard to the IBM Q System One, “It’s more like a stepping stone than a practical quantum computer. Don’t think of this as a quantum computer that can solve all of the problems quantum computing is known for. Think of it as a prototype machine that allows you to test and further develop some of the programming that might be useful in the future.”

An Extremely Delicate Machine

The nature of quantum computing means the slightest vibration or electrical pulse can disrupt the entire system. As such, the IBM Q System One is housed in a nine-foot tall, air-tight box manufactured by the same company which makes the box holding the Mona Lisa. Currently, access to the IBM Q System One can only be made by partnering directly with IBM, but just today, IBM announced it had signed up both ExxonMobil and the European research lab, CERN.

As to when and if quantum computers will overtake traditional deterministic computers in home use is anyone's guess, but advancements like the IBM Q System One are making that prospect an ever-increasing probability.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=66&v=LAA0-vjTaNY

 

 

 


Boom Supersonic Raises $100 Million

 

Boom Supersonic, the Denver-based company attempting to make transoceanic supersonic commercial air travel a reality, has recently closed $100 million in Series B funding.

Boom Supersonic Aims to Make Transoceanic Air Travel Faster

Founded in 2014, Boom Supersonic aims to manufacture supersonic commercial passengers jets capable of seating up to 55 business-class passengers on transoceanic flights. At mach 2.2 (1,688 MPH) the company hopes to greatly reduce air travel times on routes such as NYC to London. Currently such a flights take roughly 7 hours, but on Boom’s new jet, the trip would take a little more than 3 hours.

Big Name Investors Are Interested

According to TechCrunch, the Series B round of funding was led by Emerson Capital and also saw participation from The Y-Combinator Continuity Fund, Caffeinated Capital, and SV Angel, as well as participation from earlier investors of Google, AirBNB, Stripe, and Dropbox. The new investment brings the total amount raised by Boom Supersonic to over $141 million.

Not All Smooth Sailing

The company faces an uphill battle however, as development costs alone for such aerospace initiatives can easily run into the tens of billions of dollars. Add to this the fact that aerospace giant Boeing announced in June of last year its own plans to develop a mach-5 passenger plane, and it’s easy to see why Boom Supersonic now has an uphill battle. Nonetheless, investors and staff remain optimistic.

Some Encouraging Signs

According to Boom Supersonic CEO Blake Scholl, ‘The vision here is to make supersonic travel mainstream. We want to build an aircraft that will change the lives of as many people as possible.’ To date, there have been signs of encouragement from other big players in air travel as well. Recently, Japan Airlines invested $10 million into Boom Supersonic with an option to buy 20 planes, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic picked up an option to buy another 10.

Whether or not Boom Supersonic will be the dominate company in supersonic air travel remains unknown, but what is known is that several large players in both tech and aerospace are betting on them.


Bristol-Myers Squibb to Acquire Celgene for $74 Billion

 

It was announced Thursday, drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire Celgene in a cash and stock deal valued at $74 billion.

A Deal to Boost Both Companies

The New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire the New Jersey-based Celgene in an attempt to boost both company’s stock. According to the agreement, the deal - which still needs approval from shareholders and regulators - will pay Celgene shareholders $102.43 per share, representing a 53.7% premium on Celgene share's Wednesday close.

Investor Reaction Was Mixed

With 2017 revenues of $20.8 billion, Bristol-Myers Squibb is the eighth largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the nation, while Celgene’s $13 billion makes it the ninth largest. If the two company were to merge as proposed, the resulting company would be the forth largest pharma maker in the nation. Even so, reaction from investors Thursday was mixed. In response to the announcement, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s stock sank by 12%, while Celgene’s shares rose 25%. Including debt, the deal is valued at over $95 billion.

Not A Done Deal

The acquisition is not by any means a done-deal however, as Bristol investors may balk at the idea of taking-on more debt. Currently Bristol’s outstanding long-term obligations stands at $7.3 billion. If the mergers is approved however, the deal would add $32 billion in new debt to Bristol’s balance sheet in order to fund the deal, while also assuming Celgene’s $20 billion of current debt obligations. The deal also comes after a 2018 which saw Celgene shares dropped by 39%.

An Uncertain Future

Currently, the two companies have nine drugs on the market, with another six reportedly nearly ready for release within the next two years. The most valuable of the drugs currently on the market is Celgene’s, Revlimid which in 2018 generated $8.2 billion in sales. However, the patent on Revlimid is set to expire in the not too distant future, and with the Trump administration’s looking to reign in drug prices, both company’s could use a bit of a boost. That said, if the reported six new drugs in development are approved, it could represent as much as $15 billion in new revenue for the two companies.

Whether or not the merger will proceed as planned remains to be seen, but it if is approved, with a debt-factored valuation of $95 billion, it would be one of the largest pharmaceutical mergers of all-time.