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July Sets 10-Year Record For Supergiant VC Deals, Tesla Shares Fall After Musk’s Tweet On Taking Company Private, And More: News From The Tech And Startup World [August 6-12]

July Sets 10-Year Record For Supergiant VC Deals, Tesla Shares Fall After Musk’s Tweet On Taking Company Private, And More: News From The Tech And Startup World [August 6-12]

Snapchat’s Q2 2018 earnings revealed that its daily active users' number decreased 1.5% to 188 Mn this quarter

Virgin Hyperloop One announced a deal to build an R&D centre in Bobadilla, a village in southern Spain

Facebook is in talks with banks and financial institutions to help them improve their customer service through its Messenger service

We’ve kept you updated on the happenings in the Indian startup ecosystem. With the week coming to a close, it’s time to catch up on the important updates in the tech and startup ecosystem around the world.

July witnessed a large number of supergiant funding rounds with ticket sizes of $100 Mn+ by venture capitalists in companies globally. With 55 deals accounting for over $15 Bn in funding, July likely broke all records of the past decade for the number of huge venture deals struck in a single month.

Further, file hosting service Dropbox continued to surpass Wall Street expectations, reaching a valuation of $14 Bn last week. Its Q2 results disclosed that Dropbox’s revenues increased by 27% year-on-year to $339.2 Mn and the company now has 11.9 Mn paying users.

However, Dennis Woodside, chief operating officer of Dropbox, is leaving the company even as it is still looking to make significant moves in the form of new hires. Dropbox recently announced that it has new vice-presidents (VPs) of product and product marketing — Adam Nash and Naman Khan — respectively.

On the financial front, electric vehicle maker Tesla saw its shares plummet $17.89 to $352.45, nullifying the gains it had made based on speculation of acquisition at a $420 price tag. This at a time when CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter on August 7 that he is thinking about taking the company private. He said he may buy back Tesla for $82 billion (at a share price of $420 plus debt), and already has the funding to do so.

The fall in its share price dampened the post-tweet high of investors, who realised that the tweet was probably a Musk-induced pipe dream to lift the economic burdens the company is facing by delisting it.

Snapchat too released its earnings results for Q2 2018, disclosing that its daily active users’ number decreased by 1.5% to 188 Mn this quarter, down from 191 Mn and a positive 2.9% user growth in the last quarter.

On a positive note, Snapchat posted $262.3 Mn in revenues and a loss of $0.14 per share.

Matchmaking app Tinder will generate more than $800 Mn in revenue this year, according to Match Group CFO Gary Swidler. Tinder added almost 300K new subscribers in the second quarter and now has almost 3.8 Mn total.

Last week, analytics provider Mixpanel found that social media company Facebook has grown to become a significant browser on US mobile devices, posing a direct challenge to Google Chrome and Safari.

The use of Facebook as a mobile browser was still far outweighed by Safari in most cases. Due to the dominance of Apple’s iOS in the US, it has achieved a mobile browser market share of around 10% in many states, Mixpanel found.

Taking forward the need to both further militarise and privatise space as a new war-fighting domain, US vice president Mike Pence outlined the broad contours of the new Space Force that the Trump administration wants to create as the sixth branch of the US military.

Pence said that the new branch of the military would be launched by 2020 even as the administration is pushing for $8 Bn in new space spending.

Talking about global majors, the New York City Council has approved a legislation that will halt the issuing of new licenses for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. The new law aims to give the city time to study the industry’s impact. During this time, ride-hailing companies would only be able to add new vehicles if they’re wheelchair accessible. The legislation also allows the city to set a minimum wage for drivers.

Further, expanding its presence in Europe, Virgin Hyperloop One announced a deal with the Spanish state-owned administrator of railway infrastructure to build an R&D centre in Bobadilla, a tiny village in southern Spain.

According to Virgin Hyperloop One, the region has over 9,000 companies in the transport and logistics space, the second-largest aerospace cluster in Spain, along with 20,000 employees in R&D. The company said it is looking to hire 200–300 high-tech workers to staff the new facility.

The 204K sq ft centre, which is planned to be open by 2020, will develop, test, and certify components and subsystems to continually improve safety and reliability of hyperloop systems, the company said.

In Inc42’s weekly rundown of international stories to educate and entertain you and keep you informed about the startup landscape across the globe, we bring you the important developments from the week gone by. Here are some more:

Apple Says Its Products Ensure Privacy Of User Data

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee recently sent a letter to Apple and Alphabet asking specifically about practices meant to track users or their interactions with the phone without their knowledge or consent.

To this, Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director of federal government affairs, said: “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data. The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.”

On another front, Apple rehired Doug Field, the company’s former VP of Mac hardware engineering who had a brief stint at Tesla as engineering head. Field was at Tesla for five years where he oversaw the production of the Model 3.

Field will link up with Bob Mansfield, the former colleague he worked with on the Mac hardware business, who also heads Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ car project, having been tempted back and out of retirement.

Facebook Has A Lot Planned For Customers

Last week, Facebook is in talks with banks and financial institutions to deepen links with them and help them improve their customer service. The social media company said users of financial service providers such as PayPal, Citibank, and American Express could link their accounts with Facebook’s Messenger and chat with a customer service representative.

It also launched a new feature called Mentorships — a free service that will pair people who need help or guidance with those who can provide it;  users of the mentoring feature have to be at least 18 years of age.

Mentorships will start first with a focus on mentoring opportunities within specific Groups. Facebook’s product manager for Groups, Gabriel Cohen, said Facebook will extend the feature to a small selection of Groups before inviting participants more widely.

At the same time, the social media giant is shutting down Friend List Feeds, which allowed users to scroll through posts specifically from one of their designated friend lists — for example, family, work colleagues, neighbours, industry peers and so on. The Friend List Feeds was a way to read these specific people’s updates in one’s own separate News Feed on the Facebook app.

Facebook’s note regarding the feeds’ shutdown, however, said: “Don’t worry — you can still continue to create, edit and share to your friend lists.”

To access this feature, there’s a section called ‘Feeds’ in the Facebook app that will list all the feeds available to you, based on your friend lists.

Also, with the debate around access to guns in the US intensifying, Facebook is removing content related to instructions on 3D printing of firearms. A Facebook spokesperson said, “Sharing instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not allowed under our Community Standards. In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”

Stay tuned for the next edition of Around The Tech And Startup World!