Self-driving car startup Aurora today announced that it’s acquiring Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the ride-hailing company’s driverless vehicle division, for an undisclosed amount. (A source tells CNBC the deal is valued at around $4 billion.) As a part of the sale, Uber — whose CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, will join Aurora’s board of directors — says it will invest $400 million in Aurora as the latter shores up partnerships for the commercialization of its autonomous vehicle systems.
The pandemic and its effects, including testing delays, has resulted in consolidation, tabled or canceled launches, and shakeups across the autonomous transportation industry. Ford pushed the unveiling of its self-driving service from 2021 to 2022; Waymo CEO John Krafcik told the New York Times the pandemic delayed work by at least two months; and Amazon acquired driverless car startup Zoox for $1.3 billion. According to Boston Consulting Group managing director Brian Collie, broad commercialization of AVs won’t happen before 2025 or 2026 — at least three years later than originally anticipated.
The company has to adhere to conditions set by the FCC to get those funds, though.
The FCC has revealed the results for the first phase of its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, and one of the biggest winners is SpaceX. Elon Musk’s space company — its Starlink satellite internet service, in particular — has won $885.5 million in federal subsidies to provide high-speed broadband internet to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses in rural America.
Out of 180 bidders, only three other companies won bigger subsidies than SpaceX at over $1 billion each, and they’re all traditional broadband services. As GeekWire notes, there’s one other satellite broadband provider in the list. Hughes Network Systems’ only won $1.3 million, though, and it will only serve rural sites in Rhode Island.
SpaceX is expected to cover 35 location with the subsidies it’ll receive over the next 10 years. It also has to meet a set of conditions to secure the funding, as TechCrunch explains, including proving that it can provide broadband services to those areas for a price that’s in line with terrestrial broadband offerings. At the moment, Starlink beta testers have to pay $99 a month for the service, not including the $499 upfront cost needed for its hardware kit. In addition, SpaceX will have to adhere to “periodic buildout requirements” in those 35 locations to get access to the FCC’s funds.
Investors are tripping over one another to give hot start-ups money. DoorDash and Airbnb are going public. The good times are baaack.
SAN FRANCISCO — Hopin, a virtual events start-up in London, had seven employees and was valued at $38 million at the beginning of the year. Johnny Boufarhat, the company’s chief executive, wasn’t planning on raising more money.
But as the pandemic spread and more people held virtual events, Hopin’s business took off. Unsolicited offers from investors started pouring in. “It’s like a drumbeat,” Mr. Boufarhat said. “That’s become the new way for investors to tempt founders.”
In June, Hopin raised a fresh $40 million from venture capital firms such as Accel and IVP. Last month, without even building a formal presentation, the company garnered a further $125 million, valuing it at $2.1 billion — a 77-fold increase from a year ago.
And still, Mr. Boufarhat said, “investors are reaching out almost daily.”
At the onset of the pandemic, warnings of start-up doom abounded. Those largely faded after the initial shock of the coronavirus wore off. Now, as the new reality of remote work, school, shopping and socializing supercharges the adoption of tech products and services, sentiment has flipped even further — to a frenzy of deal making.
Contracts to buy Manhattan luxury homes are faring well even in the pandemic, with more deals signed in the past three months than in the same period last year.
There were 227 contracts for homes priced at $4 million or more from Sept. 1 to Dec. 6, according to a report Monday by brokerage Olshan Realty. A year ago, there were 219.
Rising stock portfolios and deep discounts on some of Manhattan’s most exclusive homes are luring buyers back to the luxury market, even as New York remains largely shuttered by Covid-19. Low mortgage rates are an added motivator, along with consumer optimism that vaccines will be available soon, according to the report.
“Many of the buyers are New Yorkers, who obviously believe in the city’s eventual recovery,” Donna Olshan, president of the luxury brokerage, wrote in the report.
Last week’s biggest deal was a resale of a 58th-floor condo at One57, the Billionaires’ Row tower that touched off Manhattan’s luxury-development boom a decade ago. The 4,483-square-foot (416-square-meter) apartment, on the market since March, was last listed at $22.25 million. That’s at least 35% less than what the seller paid in 2014, though the actual sale price won’t be known until the deal closes.
5. Here’s how much money you could save renting right now in big cities like NYC and San Francisco | CNBC
The coronavirus pandemic triggered what’s been called an exodus out of the big cities. But some renters, like law student Mona Miller, are moving in the opposite direction.
This summer, Miller moved from Denver, Colorado, to New York City to attend law school.
“A lot of my friends in Colorado were like, ‘You’re insane,’” Miller said. “But now I’m here in New York and they’re in Colorado with spiking [coronavirus case] numbers. And they’re looking at my apartment thinking, ‘Man, I think she made a good choice.’”
Miller doesn’t get to enjoy the nightlife and entertainment New York City is famous for, but she was able to take advantage of falling rents to get a big discount on a luxury apartment. She pays $1,650 a month for a studio in Queens, complete with a 24/7 doorman — and a lease that included three months rent, free. Miller also scored a $100 monthly discount on rent, compared to prices from initial listings for studios in her building.
Lemonade is launching its renters insurance in France. This is the company’s third European launch after the Netherlands and Germany. Originally from the U.S., Lemonade is now a public company with a current market capitalization close to $4 billion.
Lemonade has optimized its insurance product in different ways. First, it’s supposed to be easier to sign up with Lemonade compared with a legacy insurance company. Second, the company wants to bring back trust by taking a flat fee for its operations.
Premiums are then pooled together and used to pay back claims. If there’s money left at the end of the year, customers can choose to donate to nonprofits. Lemonade is also a certified B-Corp.
But it’s worth noting that other insurance companies try to position themselves as socially responsible, such as MAIF. Insurtech companies aren’t reinventing the wheel on this front.
Third, Lemonade tries to pay you back as quickly as possible after you file a claim.
7. Major mortgage servicer Nationstar agrees to pay over $90 million to settle claims it harmed homeowners following the Great Recession | CNBC
Nationstar, the fourth-largest mortgage servicer in the U.S., is set to pay $91 million to settle claims brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state attorneys general alleging that the company failed to honor mortgage forbearance agreements and unfairly foreclosed on homeowners.
From January 2012 to December 2016, the CFPB and 50 state attorneys general claim Nationstar, which is now doing business as Mr. Cooper, engaged in a number of unlawful practices in handling mortgages following the Great Recession. Specifically, the loan servicer failed to honor borrowers’ loan modification agreements. Nationstar also allegedly foreclosed on borrowers with pending forbearance applications after promising not to do so and failed to properly handle escrow payments and accounting for homeowners who were in Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings.
Nationstar’s failings resulted in “substantial consumer harm,” CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger said in a statement.
But, funding for next-gen property managers and early-stage deals declines.
After the experiencing its worst quarter since 2018 at the start of the pandemic, the rent tech space showed signs of recovery in the third quarter. RET Ventures tracks the market activity, and recently produced its first quarterly data report on the space. The report unearthed three major trends dominating the rent tech space, starting with a renewed interest in early-stage deals.
In the second quarter, there were only 23 early-stage deals, making for the worst quarter in the rent tech space since 2018, when RET Ventures began tracking data. In the third quarter, activity rebounded, illustrating market resilience. RET Ventures attributes the turnaround to increased adoption of technology through the pandemic. Technology helped operators maintain business operations safely while adhering to social distancing guidelines. As a result, there was a renewed interest in proptech investment.
Although rent tech funding for early stage companies improved in the third quarter, the number of early stage deals continued to decline. This may be unrelated to the pandemic though as rent tech early stage funding peaked in early 2019. This is not due to a lack of demand but rather increased scrutiny on the side of investors, illustrated by the strong dollar amount of real estate and VC tech investment. As the real estate tech market has matured, funding has started to funnel toward late-stage companies. However, RET Ventures suggests that the pandemic could push more capital into the tech space, providing opportunities for both early and late stage companies.
Cheaper mortgages, purchaser incentives and the lure of a potential bargain are driving a sales boom in Mumbai.
Before the pandemic, Mayank Vora, 34, and his wife were struggling to afford a one-bedroom apartment in one of Asia’s costliest cities. Now they are the proud owners of a two-bedroom home in a high-end residential complex on the outskirts of Mumbai they bought for 10.9 million rupees ($150,000).
“What was unaffordable a few years back is now our dream come true,” Vora said. “Everything fell into our budget this time.”
They’re not the only one jumping in. Home sales in the city, India’s commercial capital, jumped to an eight year high in October, according to data from Knight Frank.
It’s an abrupt turnaround for a market that’s spent three years in the doldrums after a prolonged shadow banking crisis strangled access to credit. At the end of June, prices in Mumbai were 0.45% lower than the same quarter in 2018, according to data from the central bank.
India isn’t alone in seeing a resurgence in property despite the grim economic backdrop — the likes of New Zealand and the U.K. have also seen prices jump. Rather than worrying about the prospects of a bubble though, in India authorities are grateful for the rebound.
CEO Douglas Yearley says housing market is strongest he has seen in 30 years at company
The luxury home builder said it generated $2.55 billion in sales, a 7% increase from a year ago and ahead of analysts’ projections of $2.08 billion, according to FactSet. Revenue from home sales, which represents a majority of the company’s total revenue, rose about 9% to $2.5 billion.
“We are currently experiencing the strongest housing market I have seen in my 30 years at Toll Brothers, and we continue to increase prices in nearly all of our communities,” Chief Executive Douglas Yearley said in prepared remarks.
The number of contracts for new homes increased 68% to 3,407 units from last year, while contract value rose 63% to $2.74 billion in the quarter ended Oct. 31.
The U.S. housing market has gotten a boost from pandemic trends as many have left large cities in search of bigger homes in less crowded areas where they can work remotely and enjoy more space.