From Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick getting sued by his company’s lynchpin investors at Benchmark to Google’s struggles with a recently fired employee over a gender diversity screed that went viral, it’s been a wild week in tech. Meanwhile, Snap and Blue Apron both reported disappointing earnings — something we discuss in this week’s episode of the Equity podcast. From the boardroom to the trading floor, here are the stories that took Silicon Valley by storm this week.
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Benchmark, the Silicon Valley venture firm and early investor in Uber, has sued former CEO Travis Kalanick. The suit alleges that Kalanick committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Both Kalanick and Benchmark hold Uber board seats. Benchmark accuses Kalanick of being “selfish” by packing Uber’s board with “loyal allies,” and that the ousted CEO broke the law by trying to pave the way for his own return. If successful, the Benchmark lawsuit could kick Kalanick off the board of directors, making his return impossible.
After Google fired the employee behind a controversial memo on gender diversity that went viral within the tech industry, CEO Sundar Pichai cancelled a company town hall meeting where discussions about gender diversity were set to take place. Some employees fear that they may become harassment targets if they were to express unpopular opinions. In an email to employees, Pichai wrote, “Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”
“Snap’s Q2 earnings report was another failure on a long, downward path for the social media company as user growth slowed under the pressure of Instagram,” reported TechCrunch’s Josh Constine. It looks like Snap’s “cool factor” may be wearing off, and the company will need a lot more than dancing AR hot dogs to fix its problems.
Snap wasn’t the only tech company having a really bad week. With Blue Apron, “The problem quickly became getting customers to stick around and keep buying meals. This time around, the company was able to improve the health of its customer base as they are spending more money and buying slightly more meals, but it still has to show that it can grow that base even as it starts to pull back on marketing,” writes TechCrunch’s Matthew Lynley.
Bitcoin reached a record high valuation of $3,000 per coin to complete a rollercoaster week that began with the long-awaited split of the cryptocurrency. Now the most established wallet and exchange service, Coinbase announced a Series D funding round. The startup has been in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the excitement in the industry. In other cryptocurrency news, Filecoin, the much-anticipated cryptocurrency that will eventually power a distributed file storage system, opened its record-breaking ICO for accredited investors after raising $52 million from advisors.
Flipkart confirmed that SoftBank has invested in its business, via its $100 billion Vision Fund, as part of an extension to the $1.4 billion financing round announced in April. The Vision Fund is buying a mix of primary and secondary sales, but the size of the investment is not disclosed. But we do know that the deal is the largest private investment in an India-based tech company, and it makes the Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in Flipkart.
A collection of prominent names in the tech industry, including Denso, Ericsson, Intel and NTT Docomo, have teamed up with Toyota to work on developing big data systems to support self-driving cars and other future automotive advances. “The companies have come together to tackle concerns around data usage in connected cars of the future, a critical component to making real-time mapping, driving assistance and other services go from theory to working in practice. Handling the huge volumes of data in a reliable and secure manner is critical,” writes TechCrunch’s Jon Russell.
Breastfeeding mothers have a few options when it comes to next-generation breast pumps, but a lot of them are expensive and the market has not been claimed yet. There can be a lot of anxiety surrounding how much you’re pumping and how much your baby is feeding. So what does the future look like for breast pumping tech? Read more in “How high-tech breast pumps help new mothers reclaim their time.”
Apple reported its earnings last week, and with a surprisingly positive report the shares spiked again as Apple signaled a potential huge iPhone release. The jump pushed Apple’s market cap to over $800 billion. If Apple’s promise plays out — or exceeds — what Wall Street hopes for the September quarter, we may soon be asking ourselves whether or not Apple really will fulfill the promise of a company that could hit a market cap of $1 trillion. Read on in “How Apple could become a $1 trillion company.”