The Information


Robinhood Nears Funding at Valuation Over $7 Billion

Robinhood Markets, a financial services firm that has won a following among millennials by offering free stock trades, is nearing the close of a funding round from existing investors at a valuation of between $7 billion and $8 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge of its plans.

That near term effort could be a prelude to a much bigger round of funding it has discussed with a wider group of investors, which could value the company at over $10 billion, according to four people with knowledge of the conversations. The larger fundraising round is dependent on the company successfully rolling out new initiatives in the coming months, including new banking products and a reported expansion into the United Kingdom, one of the people said.


Rising Fees, Falling Audiences Highlight Pay TV Dilemma

Cable channels have long been the cash machine for the entertainment industry thanks to a quirk in their business model. Cable and satellite TV firms pay channels fees for each subscriber who has the channels available in their service package, regardless of whether anyone watches the channels. AT&T, owner of DirecTV, is trying to change that—with far-reaching implications for the TV industry’s profitability.

AT&T wants to pay channels based on how many people actually watch, rather than the number of subscribers who have access to the channels. The idea is driven by two major trends. Firstly, a growing number of consumers are canceling their expensive cable and satellite packages in favor of cheaper streaming services. Meanwhile, TV channels are charging distributors like DirecTV more for the right to carry them even as the channels’ audiences are shrinking (see chart above).


Endeavor’s IPO Filing Shows Heavy Debt and Losses

Endeavor, the talent agency turned entertainment conglomerate, filed to go public on Thursday, pulling back the curtain on a company that has taken on heavy debts in recent years to diversify into a variety of sports and content businesses.

The IPO filing revealed that Endeavor’s revenue rose 20% to $3.6 billion last year, while its operating loss nearly doubled to $107 million. But the sale of a business allowed Endeavor, whose backers include Silver Lake Partners, to post its first net profit in a couple of years.


Backed by Prominent New Yorkers, Human Ventures Tries Different VC Playbook

Early-stage venture capital can be a bloodbath. New funds are created by the month, all fighting for deals. But in this crowded landscape, Human Ventures in New York is an investor to watch.

The nearly 4-year-old fund and startup studio, founded by investor Heather Hartnett and entrepreneur and media executive Joe Marchese, has attracted a cohort of powerful investors, including former 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, media executive Bob Pittman and former Goldman Sachs banker turned venture capitalist Linnea Roberts. The group is finalizing a $50 million fund that they plan to invest in new media, health and wellness, and finance companies. Snap’s former vice president of content, Nick Bell, recently joined.


Walmart Taps China’s Startups for Innovation

Last year, a Chinese startup that makes ultra-thin blankets to keep shipments of food and drink cold got a big break: Walmart decided to use the blankets in its 30 e-commerce depots in China. The startup got the lucrative deal through a special Walmart program, known as Omega 8, which recruits Chinese tech firms to develop technology for the retailer’s stores and warehouses.

Walmart set up the program last August to help its stores in China become more efficient by getting access to new technologies faster. The program underscores how China is beginning to emerge as a source of technological innovation after decades of copying. Foreign companies like Walmart, fighting a fierce battle against local retailers and online giants like Alibaba, are seeking to tap into a pool of Chinese talent forged on a crucible of fierce local competition.


puts “Hello Information Engineering Team”

The Information is looking for a passionate, product-oriented engineer to join our growing engineering team in San Francisco.

About Us

The Information is a San Francisco-based business publication known for original, in-depth reporting about the technology industry. We're the go-to daily read for the most important people in technology and business and are building a one-of-a kind community of subscribers. We have a sustainable business, plenty of capital and big ambitions to grow our business and team.

Job Description

We’re looking for an engineer with a few years of experience in both front- and back-end Web development, and a passion for building great online products for a smart audience. We continuously design and build new features that are seen by an incredible community of tech insiders who demand smooth functionality. You’ll be building features end-to-end, not just babysitting a CMS.

You’ll contribute ideas to new products and features and then build the full range of code to implement them. We’re especially eager to leverage your front-end skills to help set our standards for efficient development, so we want somebody who can apply their past experience and build for growth and maintainability.


You'll build functionality spanning the full breadth of the platform, from the database to the front-end, so we're looking for people who can code across that range. You don't need to arrive knowing our environment but must have at least 2-3 years of coding experience in web systems, on both the client and server sides

Our small team is eager to learn from each other, and so we're eager to share our knowledge as well. You'll see that we keep a low-ego coding environment and we’re comfortable talking about our own mistakes so we can learn from them, and we expect the same from you. We paircode and review each other's work often so that all can learn.

You should be excited to contribute ideas on the product side and develop them iteratively with our stakeholders. When you have questions, we expect you to know when to take them to your lead, and when to take them directly to non-engineering colleagues to get the work done.

Tech specifics

Our stack runs mainly on Ruby on Rails, Postgres, Redis, and Javascript, HTML, and SCSS. It’s fine if you don’t already know those first three, as long as you’re knowledgeable about some server-side Web environment (Node, Python, Java, …) and excited to learn them. As for the last three, we expect you to know them well with at least two years of professional experience.

You should have experience writing automated tests and know the difference between unit tests, integration tests, and... name one more type.

You should also understand why code linting, continuous integration, and automatic scaling are powerful tools for a smaller organization and be comfortable with tooling that handles these things.


Engineering roles at The Information come with a competitive salary and the opportunity for an annual bonus.

We have excellent benefits, including:

Our staff also get the chance to contribute to open-source projects and blog about their work here.

Next Steps

Sound interesting? Please send a cover letter and resume or LinkedIn URL to jobs@theinformation.com.

If you contribute to open-source projects on Github or elsewhere, link to them too of course. We're also happy to check out your writing on StackOverflow or other engineering community sites.

We hope to hear from you soon!


Bonds on the Blockchain

It seems that bitcoin’s run-up has some staying power, with its price holding steady this week at about $8,000. But that doesn’t mean all crypto companies are fully back on their feet. Circle confirmed Tuesday that it was laying off about 10% of its staff, citing new market conditions and an unfavorable regulatory environment for crypto in the U.S.

While some crypto companies clearly never recovered from last year’s plunge in prices, other businesses continue to explore what their role is in the developing sector. Below, we take an exclusive look at efforts by Morningstar Credit Ratings to accommodate tokenized securities. We also have the details on a previously unreported funding round by Dolomite, a decentralized exchange set to launch this summer.


Tech’s Low-Profile Unicorn Sells Juul Pods, Beer to College Students

Amid the cutthroat food-delivery wars, one hot startup has tried to stay under the radar to avoid alerting its rivals to its business model. But the word is getting out.

GoPuff, a Philadelphia-based company that promises to deliver late-night beer, snacks and Juul pods to college students “when the party must go on,” appears to have raised more than $150 million from venture capital investors over the past four years, according to regulatory filings. The latest financing last November valued the company at about $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. 


What Uber Tells Us About a Postmates IPO

Should Uber’s rocky initial public offering spoil the appetite of investors for Postmates, the meal delivery business expected to go public in the coming months?

Uber, of course, is primarily a ride-hailing business, but the company’s Uber Eats meal delivery unit is its fastest growing segment, accounting for 13% of total revenue last year. Postmates, which filed confidential IPO paperwork with securities regulators in February, is also seeing strong growth, bringing in roughly $400 million in revenue in 2018, a figure that could double this year, according to a person familiar with the business. Private investors are bullish enough on the category that a rival, DoorDash, is seeking to raise new funding at a valuation as high as $12 billion, a huge jump from a few months ago.  


Huawei Consumer Electronics Chief Braces for ‘Tough Time’

When President Donald Trump decided to block Huawei’s access to U.S. technology last week, the Chinese company already had been developing its own chips and stockpiling parts from American suppliers to prepare for the worst. That clearly wasn’t enough.

Huawei was broadsided by Google’s decision over the weekend to restrict its access to Android, which powers all of the Chinese company’s smartphones, to comply with the U.S. sanctions. In an exclusive interview with The Information on Tuesday, Huawei consumer electronics chief Richard Yu said the company would be “forced to launch our own OS [operating system] and ecosystem.”


Hulu, Spotify Competing for Bigger Share of Political Ad Spending

As the 2020 election cycle shifts into high gear, streaming video and audio companies such as Hulu and Spotify are looking to capture a bigger part of the expanding digital political advertising market, which Facebook and Google dominate.

Hoping to cash in on Americans’ growing appetite for news and entertainment delivered via streaming services, the companies are hiring executives, building sales teams and using data-reliant approaches to set themselves apart from traditional TV advertising and better compete with Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snap. Streaming companies are also positioning themselves to win business from political groups looking for alternatives to Facebook because of worries about how users view it and other platforms in the wake of recent data and privacy-related scandals.


Former Apple Chip Engineers Leave Google

A few years ago, Google began hiring Apple engineers responsible for developing a mobile chip that helped give iPhones and other devices a technical edge. But recently, some of those same engineers have left Google’s chip team, in a potential setback to its ambitions to build key ingredients in its own devices.  

Three chip engineers—Manu Gulati, John Bruno and Vinod Chamarty—departed Google’s consumer chip team recently, The Information has learned. Mr. Gulati and Mr. Bruno joined Google from Apple, while Mr. Chamarty is a Qualcomm veteran. Google confirmed the departures, but declined to comment further.


Cisco Held Preliminary Acquisition Talks With Cloud Startup HashiCorp

Cisco Systems held preliminary discussions recently with HashiCorp about an acquisition of the startup whose software manages applications running across multiple cloud providers, according to three people with direct knowledge of the talks.

The talks, which took place over a month ago, don’t appear to have advanced very far though, with one of the people saying there are currently no active discussions between the two companies about a deal. It couldn’t be learned why the discussions stalled, but the price Cisco would have to pay for HashiCorp was a likely stumbling block. The business software sector that HashiCorp is part of is a favorite of investors, with soaring valuations during private funding rounds and a string of well-received initial public offerings.


Silicon Valley’s Progressive Blind Spot

Last week, I criticized Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes’s argument over the need to break up Facebook. “We break up companies when they are bad for competition, not when their CEOs hold too much power,” I wrote.

My belief was based, in large part, on the fact that recent antitrust cases have targeted companies whose anticompetitive behavior leads to consumers paying higher prices. It’s hard to make the case that that’s true of Facebook, and I couldn’t see those arguing for a breakup gaining much traction.

I am still unconvinced that the government should break up the company. But, after this week, I do believe I was too dismissive of the prospects of those trying.


The Information’s 411 — Shadow Banning Theater

Ashley talks about Trump's social media bias survey and tech's tough week in DC. Aaron dives into Apple's relationship with Intel and Qualcomm over modems and the future of how it sources wireless components.


CBS Made Informal Offer to Acquire Starz

CBS Corp. has expressed interest in acquiring cable channel Starz from Lions Gate Entertainment, according to four people familiar with the situation. CBS has been looking at the acquisition as a possible complement to Viacom, which CBS also is considering purchasing, said three of the people.

Joseph Ianniello, the interim CEO of CBS, made an informal offer to Lions Gate executives of around $5 billion over the past few weeks, which they turned down, seeking a higher valuation, according to three of the people. CBS is still interested in a possible deal, two of the people said.


Airbnb Rival Booking Is Having an Identity Crisis

Internet travel conglomerate Booking Holdings has been a dependable company for investors, generating consistent profits and returns in line with the S&P 500 over the last five years. But in an industry radically altered by hot brands ranging from Airbnb to Uber to Google, Booking has struggled to stand out.

That has triggered something of an identity crisis at Booking, the world’s largest online travel company by revenue. Its businesses, which include Kayak.com, OpenTable and Booking.com, took in more than $14.5 billion last year. But growth is slowing, and tensions have emerged as Booking executives jockey for influence over the company’s direction.


DoorDash Seeking Valuation of as Much as $12 Billion in Fundraising

DoorDash is finalizing a fundraising round likely to value the U.S. food delivery app between $10 billion and $12 billion after the investment, just three months after the company raised money at a $7 billion post-money valuation, said two people familiar with the matter.

The talks suggest the disappointing IPOs of Uber and Lyft may not have killed enthusiasm among late-stage, private tech investors, even in companies burning through cash. DoorDash, along with competitors like Uber Eats, Postmates, and Deliveroo, are believed to be losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year to acquire customers who order from restaurants via their apps and attract delivery drivers. Whether public market investors will be willing to match these rich valuations remains unclear.


Scopely Sees Growth With Mobile Games That Live On

Mobile games are a fickle business, in which one-time hits can quickly fade into oblivion. Scopely, the startup behind popular mobile games like “Star Trek Fleet Command” and “The Walking Dead: Road to Survival,” believes it has come up with a system to minimize that risk.

Central to Scopely’s success, says chairman and co-CEO Walter Driver, is the publishing platform behind the company’s games, a collection of software tools that help developers more quickly create mobile games, keep them fresh with new content and generate revenue from them. It seems to be working for the Los Angeles–based company, which says it saw revenue jump 80% in 2018 from the prior year. Scopely, which earns money for its free games through advertising and in-app purchases of virtual goods, says it had an annual revenue run rate of more than $400 million, based on its January performance.


Zapier’s Unusual Path to Profitability

Zapier, a 7-year-old startup whose software connects different types of applications to automate personal computing tasks, has taken a different path to profitability than most Silicon Valley companies. It doesn’t have a sales team or a main office, and its CEO, Wade Foster, made headlines two years ago by offering new hires $10,000 to relocate outside the Bay Area.

Despite raising only $1.3 million in venture funding, Zapier (rhymes with “happier”) has been profitable since 2014 and has forged relationships with software giants including Salesforce and Google, as well as more than 1,500 other application companies. Zapier announced last fall that it was generating subscription revenue at a $50 million annualized rate.


Page created: Fri, May 24, 2019 - 09:06 PM GMT