Board changes could signal Salesforce’s willingness to appease activist investors

A week ago activist investor Elliott Management announced it had made a multibillion-dollar investment in Salesforce. By Friday, the company announced it was bringing in three new board members , and The Wall Street Journal was reporting that Elliott planned to nominate its own slate of directors . According to people familiar with the situation, that Wall Street Journal story is accurate. Salesforce isn’t just dealing with Elliott though. Starboard Value bought a “significant stake” in the company in October, and two other firms, ValueAct and Inclusive Capital, are also active inside the firm, per Reuters . Perhaps it’s not surprising that Mason Morfit, CEO and chief investment officer of ValueAct Capital, is one of the three new members. He joins Arnold Donald, former president and CEO at Carnival Corporation and Mastercard CFO Sachin Mehra. They will replace Bret Taylor, co-chair and co-CEO, who announced in November that he is stepping down at the end of the month along with

Raylo raises $136M to build out its gadget lease-and-reuse ‘fintech’ platform

With the economy teetering on recession , and sales of mobile phones and other consumer electronics slowing right down globally, a U.K. startup called Raylo that’s leaning into both of those themes has picked up £110 million ($136 million) to grow its business, offering consumers access to new gadgets by way of short-term leases. The London-based company currently operates in the U.K. selling monthly subscriptions for phones, tablets and laptops, and it plans to use the funding both to expand that list to a wider range of gadgets like e-bikes, as well as to continue investing in its tech, which includes an AI-based platform to assess risk for each sale, recommendation tech, and a platform called “Raylo Pay” that is embedded by third-party merchants for Raylo to power leasing services for them. The circular aspect of its sales model, the company said, is also the basis of another development at the business: Raylo said it now has “ B Corp ” status — which signifies that as a for-pro

Elon takes the stand, Akio Toyoda hands over the CEO keys and layoffs come for Waymo

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here —  just click The Station  — to receive the full edition of the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free.  Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.  It seems we can’t get through a week without discussing something related to Tesla . The company announced a new investment in its Nevada gigafactory and shared Q4 earnings (more on that later). But much of the attention was directed at the class-action securities fraud trial that kicked off earlier this month in San Francisco. Tesla shareholders who traded the company’s stock in the days after CEO Elon Musk’s infamous 2018 tweet that stated funding was “secured” to take Tesla private at a potential value of  $420 per share are suing the executive for billions of dollars in damages. This week, lawyers on either side of the courtroom

Sorare teams up with the Premier League for its NFT fantasy football game

French startup Sorare has signed a four-year licensing partnership with the Premier League. This is an important move for the company as the English football league is one of the most-watched sports league in the world. Sorare is a fantasy sports gaming experience based on NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. In particular, Sorare has partnered with many football leagues so that it can create trading cards representing football players. Each card is registered as a unique token on the Ethereum blockchain. Sorare players can buy and sell cards from other players. They can then put together a lineup of five players and earn points based on real-life performances. Sorare frequently issues new cards on the platforms that users can buy to add to their personal collections — that’s how the company generates revenue. And the startup has been quite successful so far. It raised a gigantic $680 million Series B round and signed partnerships with many clubs and football organizations including Spai

Walmart-backed PhonePe’s nine-month 2022 revenue surged to $234 million

PhonePe clocked a revenue of $234.3 million in the first nine months of 2022, the most valuable Indian fintech startup has disclosed in a filing. The nine-month financials marks a jump from the $201.6 million revenue that the Bengaluru-headquartered generated in the 12-month financial year period ending in March last year. PhonePe, which is valued at $12 billion , has projected a revenue of $325 million for the calendar year 2022 and $504 million for 2023, according to a valuation report prepared by the auditing firm KPMG and filed by PhonePe. The auditing firm’s estimates relied on information provided by the PhonePe management, the document said. The startup, backed by Walmart, doesn’t expect to turn EBIDTA positive, a key profitability metric, until the calendar year 2025, KMPG wrote in its valuation report. PhonePe’s financials and metrics from the valuation report have not been previously reported. Image credits: PhonePe regulatory filing At a $12 billion valuation, PhonePe

China smartphone market slumps to 10-year low in 2022

After a decade of frantic growth, China’s smartphone market is hitting a speed bump as COVID-19 roils the world’s second-largest economy. The country’s smartphone shipments dropped 14% year-over-year in 2022, reaching a ten-year low, according to research firm Counterpoint. It was also the first time that China’s handset sales had slid below 300 million units in ten years, according to Canalys. Even in December, which has historically seen seasonal jumps in sales, China recorded a 5% quarter-to-quarter decline in smartphone shipments. The three-year-long stringent “zero-COVID” policy that disrupted businesses and dampened consumer confidence, coupled with macroeconomic headwinds, spelled an end to China’s years of double-digit growth. Troubles mounted when the abrupt relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in early December resulted in a surge in cases, further adding pressure to the waning economy. Last year, China’s GDP grew 3%, its lowest in decades other than 2020. Alibaba’s annua

Eazy Digital helps Southeast Asia’s small insurers digitize their operations

Founded by two insurance industry veterans, Eazy Digital wants to give small insurance companies in Southeast Asia the same advantage as their larger competitors. Its SaaS platform lets insurers digitize many parts of their operations, enabling them to scale up more efficiently. The Bangkok-based startup announced today it has raised $850,000 in an oversubscribed seed round led by Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Seedstars International Ventures, Wing Vasiksiri and Sasin Bangkok Venture Club. Eazy Digital was founded last year by Haprem Doowa and Maethavee Sukul. Doowa was previously co-founder and CEO of Frank Insurance, an online digital broker in Thailand that was acquired by Bolttech in 2021. Sukul was head of operations at Frank, Bolttech Insurance Broker and digital health insurance broker Benix. Eazy Digital co-founder Haprem Doowa Doowa told TechCrunch that while working together at Frank, he and Sukul “both realized that the insurance industry was plagued wi

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