Arm plans to spin off IoT businesses under Softbank banner, as it focuses on core chip design business

Arm today announced plans to spinoff its two IoT business, a move that would effectively transfer the divisions under the broader umbrella of Softbank Group core, which purchased the chip designer back in 2016. The move comes as Arm seeks to focus its efforts exclusively on the semiconductor IP business that has made the company a ubiquitous presence in the mobile world.

The transfer is pending addition review from the company’s board, along with standard regulatory reviews — though Arm says it expects the move to be completed before the end of September of this year. While it would effectively remove the IoT Platform and Treasure Data businesses from its brand, the company says it plans to continue to collaborate with the ISG (IoT Services Group) businesses.

“Arm believes there are great opportunities in the symbiotic growth of data and compute,” ARM CEO Simon Segars said in a release tied to the news. “SoftBank’s experience in managing fast-growing, early-stage businesses would enable ISG to maximize its value in capturing the data opportunity. Arm would be in a stronger position to innovate in our core IP roadmap and provide our partners with greater support to capture the expanding opportunities for compute solutions across a range of markets.”

Arm’s IoT business has seen quite a bit of success, with its technologies shipping on billions of devices and the planned goal of one trillion expected next decade. These days, however, it seems content to focus on servers, desktops and edge computing, in addition to mobile products.


Source: Tech Crunch

DocuSign acquires Liveoak Technologies for $38M for online notarization

Even in the best of times, finding a notary can be a challenge. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s even more difficult. DocuSign announced it has acquired Liveoak Technologies today for approximately. $38 million, giving the company an online notarization option.

At the same time, DocuSign announced a new product called DocuSign Notary, which should ease the notary requirement by allowing it to happen online along with the eSignature. As we get deeper into the pandemic, companies like DocuSign that allow transactions to happen completely digitally are in more demand than ever. This new product will be available for early access later in the summer.

The deal made sense given that the two companies had a partnership already. Liveoak brings together live video, collaboration tooling and identity verification that enables parties to get notarized approval as though you were sitting at the desk in front of the notary.

Typically, you might get a document that requires your signature. Without electronic signature, you would need to print it, sign the document, scan it and return it. If it requires a notary, you would need to sign it in the notary’s presence, which requires an in-person visit. All of this can be streamlined with an online workflow, which DocuSign is providing with this acquisition.

It’s like the perfect pandemic acquisition, making a manual process digital and saving people from having to make face-to-face transactions at a time when it can be dangerous.

Liveoak Technologies was founded in 2014 and is part of the Austin, Texas startup scene. The company raised just under $28 million during its life as a private company. The firm most recently raised $8 million at a post-money valuation of $30.4 million, according to Pitchbook data. Given the amount that DocuSign paid for the firm, it appears to have gotten a bargain.

This acquisition is part of a growing pandemic acquisition trend of sorts where larger public enterprise companies are plucking early stage startups, in some cases for relatively bargain prices. This includes Apple buying Fleetsmith and ServiceNow acquiring Sweagle last month.


Source: Tech Crunch

Dear Sophie: What does the new online classes rule mean for F-1 students?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

One of our founders is currently in the U.S. on an F-1 STEM OPT. Our company is sponsoring her for an H-1B visa, and we recently received an RFE.

What does yesterday’s F-1 visa international student immigration announcement mean for her? Is the H-1B going to be denied? Do we need a backup? What should we do?

—Concerned in Cupertino

Dear Concerned:

To find out if an F-1 student is affected by the Trump administration’s international student ban, watch my latest YouTube Live. For more on the H-1B visa ban, please read last week’s Dear Sophie column.

International students have been allowed to take online classes during the spring and summer due to the COVID-19 crisis, but that will end this fall. The new order will force many international students at schools that are only offering remote online classes to find an “immigration plan B” or depart the U.S. before the fall term to avoid being deported.

At many top universities, international students make up more than 20% of the student body. According to NAFSA, international students contributed $41 billion to the U.S. economy and supported or created 458,000 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year. Apparently, the current administration is continuing to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” when it comes to immigration.

Universities are scrambling as they struggle with this newfound untenable bind. Do they stay online only to keep their students safe and force their international students to leave their homes in this country? Or do they reopen to save their students from deportation, but put their communities’ health at risk?

For students, it means finding another school, scrambling to figure out a way to depart the States (when some home countries will not even allow them to return), or figuring out an “immigration plan B.” Yesterday’s video explores F-1 visa alternatives.

Fortunately, since your co-founder is on OPT, I don’t think the latest F-1 restrictions will affect her based on my initial reading of the tiny bit of info that trickled out of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) yesterday and the slightly broader SEVIS broadcast message guidance for schools. (“For the fall 2020 semester, continuing F and M students who are already in the United States may remain in Active status in SEVIS if they make normal progress in a program of study, or are engaged in approved practical training, either as part of a program of study or following completion of a program of study.”)

On the RFE front, I don’t know if it’s any comfort, but you’re definitely not alone: The percentage of H-1B petitioners that receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) has nearly doubled since 2016. Nearly 21% of petitioners received an RFE in fiscal year 2016 compared to more than 40% in 2019. During the first two quarters of the current fiscal year, 41% of all H-1B petitions received an RFE. Check out my podcast because we’ll be covering RFEs, Requests for Initial Evidence (RFIEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) soon.

Just to be totally clear in answer to your first question: No, getting an RFE does not mean your H-1B application is more likely to be denied. In fact, an RFE offers a final opportunity to strengthen your petition for approval. Because the stakes are so high, I recommend consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer when crafting a response to an RFE.

Make sure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your response to the RFE by the deadline printed on the RFE. Last week, USCIS extended its deadlines: The deadline for RFEs issued between March 1 and Sept. 11 is automatically extended by 60 calendar days after the due date due to the COVID-19 crisis and the budget shortfall facing the agency. If your response is not received by the deadline, USCIS will deny your company’s H-1B petition.

You always want to make sure you understand exactly what additional evidence USCIS is seeking from you. Check your original application package to make sure that the requested document or evidence was not included. Sometimes, USCIS mistakenly overlooks information already submitted. If that’s the case, resubmit the requested document in your response package. If you can’t provide a requested document, explain why and provide alternative evidence if possible. Otherwise, provide the document or evidence as requested.

Among the top reasons why USCIS issues an RFE are for failing to show that the position qualifies as a specialty occupation or that a valid employer-employee relationship exists. If the RFE you received is for either of these reasons, here’s a quick reminder of what USCIS is seeking for each requirement.

To qualify for an H-1B visa, your petition must have demonstrated to USCIS that the position sought by the international professional is a specialty occupation. You should have provided evidence that the job requires the understanding and application of highly specialized knowledge and that it usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree — or equivalent experience — in a particular specialty. In recent years, USCIS has narrowed its interpretation of what qualifies as a specialty occupation. For instance, it no longer considers computer programming to be a specialty occupation. USCIS has also challenged positions that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and positions with titles such as computer systems analyst, financial analyst, market research analyst and human resources manager.

Making the case that an employer-employee relationship exists is tricky when it involves a founder working for the company she helped create. An employer must demonstrate that it will control the work of the H-1B beneficiary. For founders, that means someone at the company — either the board of directors or a co-founder — would have to supervise the H-1B beneficiary and have the authority to fire the individual. There are lots of ways to set this up properly.

Once all the evidence and documents required to respond to the RFE are ready, they should all be submitted together in a single response package with the original copy of the RFE as the first page. Save a copy of the response package for your records and send the response to the correct location using tracking and proof of delivery options.

Given that U.S. embassies and consulates abroad have stopped issuing visas and green cards under the executive proclamations issued on April 22 and June 22 and due to the ongoing COVID-19-related travel restrictions, your co-founder should remain in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

For long-term immigration security for your co-founder, your startup should consider sponsoring her for one of the following green cards if she qualifies:

  • EB-1A green card for individuals with exceptional ability.
  • EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card, which is ideal for startup founders.
  • EB-2 green card for individuals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability, which requires a time-consuming PERM labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • EB-5 investor green card, for which your company could provide your co-founder with the investment funds for this option.

Apparently the Trump administration is not yet done with its efforts to further restrict legal immigration. They are taking a look at whether individuals currently in the U.S. on H-1B visas, as well as EB-2 green cards and EB-3 green cards limit opportunities for U.S. workers. Further restrictions or even expanded moratoriums may be put into place. Of course, I’ll cover it all here if and when it happens.

Let me know if you have more specific questions about an RFE. Good luck!

—Sophie


Have a question? Ask it here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and/or space. The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer here. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.

Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major podcast platforms. If you’d like to be a guest, she’s accepting applications!


Source: Tech Crunch

‘No code’ will define the next generation of software

It seems like every software funding and product announcement these days includes some sort of reference to “no code” platforms or functionality. The frequent callbacks to this buzzy term reflect a realization that we’re entering a new software era.

Similar to cloud, no code is not a category itself, but rather a shift in how users interface with software tools. In the same way that PCs democratized software usage, APIs democratized software connectivity and the cloud democratized the purchase and deployment of software, no code will usher in the next wave of enterprise innovation by democratizing technical skill sets. No code is empowering business users to take over functionality previously owned by technical users by abstracting complexity and centering around a visual workflow. This profound generational shift has the power to touch every software market and every user across the enterprise.

The average enterprise tech stack has never been more complex

In a perfect world, all enterprise applications would be properly integrated, every front end would be shiny and polished, and internal processes would be efficient and automated. Alas, in the real world, engineering and IT teams spend a disproportionate share of their time fighting fires in security, fixing internal product bugs and running vendor audits. These teams are bursting at the seams, spending an estimated 30% of their resources building and maintaining internal tools, torpedoing productivity and compounding technical debt.

Seventy-two percent of IT leaders now say project backlogs prevent them from working on strategic projects. Hiring alone can’t solve the problem. The demand for technical talent far outpaces supply, as demonstrated by the fact that six out of 10 CIOs expect skills shortages to prevent their organizations from keeping up with the pace of change.

At the same time that IT and engineering teams are struggling to maintain internal applications, business teams keep adding fragmented third-party tools to increase their own agility. In fact, the average enterprise is supporting 1,200 cloud-based applications at any given time. Lacking internal support, business users bring in external IT consultants. Cloud promised easy as-needed software adoption with seamless integration, but the realities of quickly changing business needs have led to a roaring comeback of expensive custom software.


Source: Tech Crunch

As COVID-19 surges, 3D printing is having a moment

COVID-19 will be remembered for many things — most undoubtedly negative. There are, however, some silver linings among the horrors of the deadliest pandemic in recent memory. Among them, if the sort of human ingenuity that shines whenever the world is faced with a similar crisis.

The simple truth of the matter is the world wasn’t prepared for a virus of this magnitude. It’s something that’s played out in country after country, as the novel coronavirus has continued to devastate communities across borders.

In spite of early warning signs, many nations — the U.S. certainly included — were caught off-guard, lacking the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessities required to battle the virus for a prolonged stretch. For many, taking on COVID-19 has required improvisation and resourcefulness — both, thankfully, qualities found in good volumes among the maker community that helped give rise to 3D printing technology.

If you’ve followed the technology even in passing over the last decade, you’re no doubt aware how much time evangelists spend justifying the usefulness of 3D printing beyond the the confines of desktop hobbyists. The defensiveness is certainly understandable. Consumer 3D printing has all of the trapping of an overhyped boom and bust. The truth of the matter is that it simply wasn’t ready for the mainstream moment many investors and members of the press were ready to thrust upon it.

But even as desktop 3D printing companies begun to scale back or shutter at an alarming rate, the industry has continued to have success stories among those who have further innovated and targeted the right market. Formlabs jumps out amongst the desktop market, with Carbon presenting a success story on the industrial side of the fence. What unites both beyond innovation is a focus on real-world case uses.


Source: Tech Crunch

Mercedes-Benz 2021 S-Class jumps on the giant touchscreen bandwagon

Mercedes-Benz sent out a teaser image and video Monday of its upcoming 2021 S-Class that hints at a sleeker interior that forgoes the bevy of physical knobs and toggles found in previous models in favor of a digital-centric design.

The teasers illustrate a movement in the automotive industry popularized by Tesla to incorporate large touchscreens in new models.

Little is known about Mercedes’ next-generation MBUX infotainment system, which will debut in the 2021 S-Class. It appears, based on Mercedes’ teaser image and latest video as well as leaked photos that a large portrait-style touchscreen will be the centerpiece of the new MBUX system. Mercedes didn’t reveal the size of the screen or what functions will be incorporated into it. However, it appears that the climate control functions are headed to the central touchscreen.

Mercedes S-Class interior

Image Credits: Screenshot/Mercedes

More information about the system and the S-Class is coming in just a couple of days. Mercedes-Benz will unveil the next-gen MBUX system at 5:30 a.m. EDT July 8 as part of a series of digital reveals that will give snippets of information on the 2021 S-Class. The other videos are set for July 29 and August 12. The world premiere of the S-Class is expected to be held in September.

The first-generation Mercedes-Benz User Experience or MBUX system was unveiled in January 2018 at the CES tech trade show and debuted in the automaker’s A Class hatchback. That was a departure for Mercedes, which has historically reserved its best tech for its highest-class models — the S-Class being the first vehicle to typically get the latest and greatest tech. Mercedes appears to be returning to that strategy with the new version of MBUX heading to the 2021 S-Class.

Mercedes S-Class interior screen

Image Credits: Screenshot/Mercedes

The next-gen MBUX will likely continue its emphasis on voice, if the video with Daimler board member Markus Schäfer is any indication. The 2021 Mercedes S-Class will also have a head-up display, according to the video.


Source: Tech Crunch

Instagram Reels tested in India following TikTok’s ban

In the wake of India’s decision to ban TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over privacy concerns, Instagram has expanded its TikTok rival, known as Reels, in the region. The test in India also comes only days after Facebook announced its standalone TikTok clone, Lasso, would be shutting down on July 10.

In addition to India, Instagram Reels is live in Brazil, and as of recently, France and Germany. But an Instagram spokesperson hints the expansion may go even broader, without offering specific details.

Business Insider India was the first to report on Reels’ expansion in India, citing unnamed sources for the discovery. It says the expansion is still a “test.”

“We’re planning to start testing an updated version of Reels in more countries,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch, when asked about the feature’s arrival in India. “Reels,” they added, “is a fun, creative way for people to both express themselves and be entertained.”

Unlike Lasso, which had been its own separate app, Reels has been designed to be a feature within Instagram itself. Reels allows users to create and post short, 15-second videos set to music or other audio, similar to TikTok. Also like TikTok, the feature offers a set of editing tools — like a countdown timer and those that adjust the video’s speed, for example — that aim to make it easier to record creative content. However, Instagram doesn’t have the same sort of two-tabbed, scrollable feed, like TikTok offers, just for watching Reels’ content.

Following the launch of Reels last year in Brazil, Instagram updated the feature based on user feedback. Users said they wanted a space to compile their Reels and watch those made by others. To address these concerns, Instagram moved Reels to a dedicated space on the user Profile page and now features Reels in its Explore section, if they’re published by a public account. That gives Reels the potential to go viral by catching the eye of Instagram users who don’t yet follow the creator’s account. (Before, Reels had been only available to Instagram Stories, which limited their exposure.)

The arrival Reels is timely for a number of reasons. For starters, Facebook in June announced it had entered a global deal with Saregama, one of India’s largest music labels, which would allow it to license music for videos and other social experiences across both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook also has agreements with other Indian labels, including Yash Raj Films, Zee Music Company and T-Series. However, the addition of Saregama may have cleared the path for Reels, given the breadth of its content, which includes over 100,000 tracks like those from Indian music legends, plus Bollywood tunes, devotional music, ghazals, indipop and others.

But mainly, it’s ideal timing for Reels to come to India, given the country’s decision to ban TikTok.

The ban on Chinese apps knocked out TikTok from its largest overseas market, leaving a massive opportunity for Instagram to swoop in and pick up new users for Reels. Before its removal, TikTok had amassed more than 200 million users in India, which is a significant loss for the Beijing-headquartered video app.

But Instagram is not without competition for those users. Reuters recently reported a surge in popularity for other Indian video-sharing apps, like Roposo, Chingari and Mitron, for example. Roposo even saw its user base jump by 22 million in the two days after India banned TikTok, the report noted.

Instagram didn’t indicate when Reels would launch in other key markets, like the U.S.

(Updated 7/6/20, 1:30 PM ET to clarify India is considered a test market for Reels, as opposed to an official launch.) 

 


Source: Tech Crunch

Sequoia announces $1.35 billion venture and growth funds for India and Southeast Asia

Sequoia Capital India on Monday announced it has secured $1.35 billion from LPs for two new funds as the storied venture firm looks to ramp up its investments in the world’s second-largest internet market and Southeast Asia.

The two new funds — a $525 million venture fund and a $825 million growth fund — will help the VC firm, which operates in India and Southeast Asia through one arm, more comprehensively serve the startup ecosystem in the region, said Shailendra Singh, a managing director at Sequoia Capital India.

“A fundraise represents a massive responsibility to deliver attractive returns to Sequoia’s Limited Partners, the majority of which are nonprofits, foundations and charities. We do this by partnering with outstanding founders who are building category defining companies,” he said.

Sequoia Capital India, which roped in former Google India head Rajan Anandan and former Uber India head Amit Jain last year, made more than 50 investments in 2019, more than any other firm in the country.

Top VC firms in India last year based on the number of investments they made. Image Credits: InnoVen

The firm, which began investing in India 14 years ago, closed its last fund, of $695 million, for India and Southeast Asia in 2018. That was its sixth fund for the region.

The VC firm’s India and SEA arm has made several high-profile investments over the years, including in edtech giant Byju’s, which is now valued at $10.5 billion, ride-hailing giant GoJek, e-commerce platform Tokopedia, Singapore e-commerce startup Zilingo, and fintech startup PineLabs, online learning startup Unacademy, fintech firm RazorPay and Khatabook, which offers bookkeeping services to merchants. Last year, Sequoia Capital India sold most of its stake in budget hotel startup Oyo. It has backed 11 unicorns in India and Southeast Asia to date.

The new funds from Sequoia come at a time when several investors have lost appetite as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts businesses. The per capita income of Indians, which remains some of the lowest across the globe, has also not improved over the years.

“Due to frequent cycles of intense competition, startups in our region have struggled to grow rapidly with good unit economics, often posting very high losses for the scale of business. This has prevented very large profitable technology businesses in our region from emerging. To add to these challenges, startups in India do not have the benefit of a regulatory framework that allows listing on foreign exchanges like Nasdaq. In this market context, most startups have chosen to remain private, and raising capital has become a proxy for success,” said Sequoia’s Singh.

“We believe there is an opportunity to choose a different path. Our ecosystem has arrived at a fork in the road.”

Image Credits: Sequoia India

Last year Sequoia Capital India launched an accelerator program, called Surge, for early-stage startups. Since then about 50 startups have participated in Surge, which some analysts told TechCrunch has reduced Y Combinator’s appeal in the region.

Several venture firms have ramped up their efforts in India, where startups raised a record $14.5 billion last year. Much of the infrastructure is still being built in India, giving giants an opportunity to make early bets on what could become major firms in the future.

Tiger Global, which made an early investment in Flipkart, has written several checks in the past one year to Indian startups building business-to-business. So have General Atlantic, which recently made a sizeable bet on the nation’s top telecom operator Reliance Jio Platforms; Prosus Ventures, an early investor in top food delivery startup Swiggy; and Accel, which closed its sixth venture fund — of size $550 million — for India late last year.

That is great news for Indian startups that are currently facing challenges in raising capital from Chinese investors. Zomato, which counts Sequoia as an early investor, announced in January that it had raised $150 million in a new financing round from Ant Financial. The food delivery startup has yet to receive $100 million of that capital, Info Edge, another investor in Zomato, said in an earnings call two weeks ago.


Source: Tech Crunch

Why investors are cheering the Uber-Postmates deal

This morning as the markets rally, shares of Lyft are up 3% while Uber shares are up 6%.

Why is Uber so far ahead of Lyft, its domestic ride-hailing rival that is suffering from the same economic impacts? It appears that investors are heartened that Uber has closed its Postmates acquisition after both firms danced around each other for some time, leading to all sorts of leaks that wound up being not coming true.


The Exchange is a daily look at startups and the private markets for Extra Crunch subscribers; use code EXCHANGE to get full access and take 25% off your subscription


This explains why Uber investors are excited about Uber’s Postmates buy; what about the smaller company is making Uber shares so buoyant? Let’s take a walk through the numbers this morning.

If we reexamine Uber Eats’ recent growth, contrast it to Ubers Rides’ own growth, mix in Eats’ profitability improvements along with Postmates’ own financial results, we can start to see why public investors might be heartened by the deal.

Afterward, we’ll toss in a note about how Postmates may provide Uber some narrative ammunition heading into earnings. This exercise should be fun, and a good break from our recent IPO coverage. Let’s get into the numbers.

Growth, losses

In case you are behind, Uber is buying Postmates for $2.65 billion in an all-cash deal. Uber estimated that it would issue around 84 million shares to pay for the transaction. At its share price as of the time of writing, the deal is worth $2.72 billion at Uber’s newer share price. For reference, that price tag is about 4.8% of Uber’s current-moment market cap.

To understand why Uber would spend nearly 5% of its worth to buy a smaller rival, let’s remind ourselves of the performance of the group that it will plug into, namely Uber Eats.

From Uber’s Q1 2020 financial reporting, the following chart will ground our exploration, showing how Eats has performed in recent quarters:

Via Uber’s financial reporting. Q1 2019 on the left, Q1 2020 on the right.


Source: Tech Crunch