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The founder of the dating app Bumble has become a billionaire after becoming the youngest female chief executive to take a company public in the US.
Shares in the company jumped 77pc as the opened on Wall Street on Thursday, from the $43 IPO price at which they were sold to $76. The leap values Bumble at around $14.5bn and makes chief executive Whitney Wolfe Herd’s stake in the company worth around $1.5bn.
It makes Ms Wolfe Herd one of America’s most successful female entrepreneurs and one of a handful of self-made female billionaires.
Bumble, which is known for requiring women to initiate contact between men and women on the dating app, was formed after Ms Wolfe Herd’s acrimonious departure from rival app Tinder, which she subsequently sued for sexual harassment.
Bumble is free but lets users pay for extras such as making their profile more prominent or seeing who has liked their profile. It made a loss of $84.1m in the first nine months of 2020 on revenues of $376.6m.
PayPal boss says digital currencies will ‘drive next wave of financial services’
PayPal chief executive Dan Schulman has become the latest to give his backing to digital currencies at the company’s investor day today. Schulman, whose company started letting people buy cryptocurrency last year, said cryptocurrency and the distributed ledger technology behind it could make payments more efficient.
There’s no question that digital currencies and the underlying technology have the potential to drive the next wave in financial services. Those technologies can help solve some of the fundamental problems of the system. The fact that there’s this huge prevalence and costs of cash that there’s a lack of access for so many parts of the population into the system, that there’s limited liquidity, there’s high friction in commerce and payments. And I think that distributed ledgers can form the new foundation of a new way to manage to move money to create new rails and new ways of thinking about how we manage how we move money to the digital era. And I think our platform is uniquely situated to help enable this vision to provide broad access, increasing utility. And very importantly, to work hand in hand with governments, regulators and central banks.
Bumble pops in IPO
It’s not just Bitcoin that’s surging. Today, dating app Bumble is going public in New York. The IPO valued it at $8.2bn but look set to pop in early trading.
Shares are indicated to open at $70, up from the $43 a share they priced at last night.
Chief executive Whitney Wolfe Herd is the youngest woman to take a company public.
Today, @Bumble becomes a public company. This is only possible thanks to the more than 1.7 billion first moves made by brave women on our app — and the pioneering women who paved the way for us in the business world. To everyone who made today possible: Thank you. #BumbleIPO 💛🐝 pic.twitter.com/OMLNGNvECB
— Whitney Wolfe Herd (@WhitWolfeHerd) February 11, 2021
Hackers halt online auction for stolen Cyberpunk 2077 source code
The cybercriminal group that hacked into the servers of Polish game developer CD Projekt has called off an online auction for stolen video game files.
Hackers claimed to have stolen the valuable source code of games including the recently released Cyberpunk 2077 in a ransomware attack.
CD Projekt has said that no customer data was stolen in the breach and has committed to not negotiating with the criminals.
The hackers had planned to auction the files with a starting price of $1m but today called off the auction and claimed they had received an offer outside of the auction.
“An offer was received outside the forum that satisfied us,” the anonymous criminals wrote online.
Robinhood boss to testify in US hearing on GameStop frenzy
The chief executive of stock trading app Robinhood will reportedly testify in a US hearing on the GameStop frenzy which saw the video game retailer’s shares explode in popularity.
Robinhood boss Vlad Tenev will testify before the House Financial Services Committee hearing due to be held on Feb 18, Fox Business Network reported.
Other executives who may be called to testify include Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman, an unnamed Reddit user from the WallStreetBets forum which caused GameStop’s share price to rocket, and Melvin Capital founder Gabe Plotkin whose fund suffered steep losses.
(2/2) CEO Steve Huffman; @citsecurities chief Ken Griffen; and one of the popular #wallstreetsbets bloggers. Staff indicated hearing will focus on payment for order flow, short selling, $GME squeeze. But given the cast of characters, this could also be a free for all. developing
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) February 11, 2021
Reuters reports that an executive from Citadel Securities may also be called to give evidence.
Bitcoin hits record high of $48,364
The price of Bitcoin rose as much as 7.4pc on Thursday to hit an all-time high of $48,364 following statements by Mastercard and Uber executives in which they confirmed plans to explore accepting cryptocurrency payments.
“The crypto-asset world is bursting into the realms of traditional finance at a staggering pace,” said Simon Peters, an analyst at investment platform eToro.
Wall Street Bets, the popular Reddit forum at the center of the retail investor frenzy, is talking about cryptocurrencies as well. The unverified Twitter account “Wallstreetbets mod” posted a call to buy Bitcoin and marijuana stocks.
Digital coin proponents believe that the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency is imminent. Mike Novogratz, of cryptocurrency investment firm Galaxy Digital, called the Mastercard news “huge”. “Crypto adoption is here,” he said.
Mati Greenspan, founder of analyst firm Quantum Economics, said: “Mainstream adoption is already upon us.”
Interest in cryptocurrencies has soared after Musk as a central figure for the crypto faithful, supporting arguments among proponents that Wall Street and the mainstream are becoming more receptive to the asset class.
Detractors maintain speculators are behind Bitcoin’s rise and the bubble will once again burst.
India criticises Twitter for failing to remove accounts
The Indian government has criticised Twitter for failing to comply with its requests to remove some user accounts following large protests by farmers in the country.
Twitter “must respect” Indian laws “irrespective of Twitter’s own rules and guidelines,” the Indian government has said.
“We value freedom and we value criticism because it is part of our democracy. But freedom of expression is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable restrictions” as mentioned in the constitution, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement late Wednesday.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think that Twitter publicly defying India’s govt by refusing to block journalist, activist, news media, and politician accounts in the face of legal consequences is the bigger story today than Twitter re-blocking some accounts in India.
— ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@PranavDixit) February 10, 2021
The Indian government has asked Twitter to block hundreds of accounts in the country after accusing them of inciting violence by posting hashtags about the farmer protests.
Twitter temporarily blocked some accounts of activists and news organisations in the country but has stopped short of suspending accounts completely, as the government has requested.
Prasad: Double standards by some microblogging forums on events at Capitol Hill and at Red Fort. During Capitol Hill, you stand with the police action and in violence at Red Fort, you take a different stand
— Bharti Jain (@bhartijainTOI) February 11, 2021
The ministry in its statement said it was disappointed after Twitter “unwillingly, grudgingly and with great delay” complied with only parts of the government’s orders.
Uber to explore accepting cryptocurrency payments
The chief executive of taxi service Uber said the company will explore accepting cryptocurrency payments in the coming months.
Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Thursday that “just like we accept all kinds of local currency, we are going to look at cryptocurrency and or Bitcoin in terms of currency to transact.”
“That’s good for business, that’s good for our riders and eaters. So that, we’ll certainly look at and if there’s a benefit there, if there’s a need there, we’ll do it. We’re just not going to do it as part of a promotion,” he continued.
“Just like we accept all kinds of local currency we are going to look at cryptocurrency and or #bitcoin in terms of currency to transact. That’s good for business, that’s good for our riders and our eaters,” says @dkhos. “We are just not going to do it as part of a promotion.” pic.twitter.com/2OSamy3yBV
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) February 11, 2021
Uber’s exploration of cryptocurrency payments follows a Mastercard announcement yesterday of its plans to add a group of cryptocurrencies to its cards and a plan announced by Tesla last week to begin accepting Bitcoin payments for its electric vehicles.
Internet service providers meet MPs over broadband social tariffs
Internet service providers met with MPs yesterday over calls to introduce a social tariff that would make broadband more affordable.
“We need to make it easier for companies to validate if a customer is in receipt of universal credit, so they can be eligible for a social tariff on broadband,” Labour MP Darren Jones wrote on Twitter.
Useful @datapovertyappg meeting with internet service providers yesterday. We need to make it easier for companies to validate if a customer is in receipt of universal credit, so they can be eligible for a social tariff on broadband. Next stop…the @DWP! https://t.co/3AyaYgRmWl
— Darren Jones MP (@darrenpjones) February 11, 2021
Ofcom published research last year into the affordability of broadband. It found that 19pc of UK homes struggle to afford telecommunications services including the internet.
BT has said it will extend its social tariff to people on Universal Credit this year.
Mastercard plans to launch cryptocurrency payments this year
Mastercard will allow its customers to make payments using cryptocurrencies later this year, the company has announced.
It will offer “select” cryptocurrencies as payment options to its cardholders by the end of 2021.
Mastercard is also “actively engaging” with central banks on their own plans for digital currencies, the company announced.
Mastercard has already partnered with some of the biggest cryptocurrency firms, including Wirex and BitPay, but the company has historically required digital currencies to be converted into fiat currencies before processing payments for transactions on its network.
“This is a big change that will require a lot of work. We will be very thoughtful about which assets we support based on our principles for digital currencies, which focus on consumer protections and compliance,” Raj Dhamodharan, the company’s blockchain head wrote.
“Our change to supporting digital assets directly will allow many more merchants to accept crypto — an ability that’s currently limited by proprietary methods unique to each digital asset,” he continued. “This change will also cut out inefficiencies, letting both consumers and merchants avoid having to convert back and forth between crypto and traditional to make purchases.”
Rival Visa has said if a digital currency becomes a recognised means of exchange, there would be no reason why the firm wouldn’t add it to its network, which already supports 160 currencies.
Mastercard’s announcement comes after Tesla announced that it would begin accepting Bitcoin as a payment option for its electric cars. It has also purchased $1.5bn of the digital currency, it said in a filing with the US government.
Online job listings also show that Amazon is working on its own digital currency project. It’s hiring employees for a new service that will allow customers to “convert their cash into digital currency”.
Adyen, the Dutch payments provider, has ruled out following the cryptocurrency payments trend.
“Bitcoin is more of an investment asset than a payment method,” chief executive Pieter van der Does told CNBC. “We are interested in payment methods which are being used. I am wondering if the huge movement in the value of bitcoin is helping it as a payment method.”
Adyen has no plans for Bitcoin payments
The chief executive of Dutch payment company Adyen has said he has no plans to introduce Bitcoin as a payment option.
Pieter van der Does told CNBC that merchants aren’t asking Adyen for the option to add Bitcoin payments.
“Bitcoin is more of an investment asset than a payment method,” he said. “We are interested in payment methods which are being used. I am wondering if the huge movement in the value of bitcoin is helping it as a payment method.”
Amazon-backed electric van maker hunts for UK factory location
An Amazon-backed maker of electric vehicles is on the hunt for locations in the UK to build a new factory, Michael Cogley reports.
Rivian, which produces electric pick-up trucks and SUVs, is also looking at locations in Germany and Hungry, Bloomberg said on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
The chosen site will first manufacture a delivery van for Amazon before moving on to producing Rivian models for consumers. The US firm is also looking at sites for the factory beyond Europe.
Rivian has hired commercial real estate company JLL to lead the search with the carmaker hoping to begin production as soon as next year.
TikTok strikes deal to sponsor Euro 2020 football tournament
Viral video app TikTok has struck a deal to sponsor the Euro 2020 football tournament.
The deal will see the tournament, which is due to take place later this year, start its own TikTok profile to share clips from matches.
Sponsoring the tournament will help TikTok to gain an audience among football fans, especially if exclusive behind the scenes clips are posted on the app.
“Football content has had a meteoric rise on TikTok, with over 70bn views on the #football hashtag,” TikTok said in a blog post announcing the deal that was published this morning.
Monzo gets a new US chief executive
Monzo has hired a new chief executive to run its operations in the US as the challenger bank hopes to pick up millions more customers.
Mr Blomfield has since left the business entirely and Mr Anil is presiding over a new round of funding for the start-up.
Ms Nelson has already been a strategic advisor to Monzo and was previously the head of Cascade Bank and a senior vice president at Bank of America.
Bumble’s British origins
Ahead of its float in New York later today which will value it at $8.2bn (£5.9bn), it’s a good time to explore the British origins of dating app empire Bumble.
It started life in London as Badoo, a dating app founded by Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev.
Andreev worked with current Bumble chief executive Whitney Wolfe to build Bumble before handing over control to Ms Wolfe after he sold the business to Blackstone for $3bn in 2020.
Hours before the deal closed, the Telegraph sat down with Mr Andreev to talk through Badoo’s work culture and his decision to sell up.
Facebook building product to compete with Clubhouse
Facebook is in the early stages of building an audio chat service to compete with the latest social media sensation, Clubhouse.
Executives at the social media giant have ordered staff to create a similar product, according to a report by the New York Times.
Clubhouse, which only launched in March 2020, is an invite-only audio social network. The app was rocketed into the mainstream this week by the “Elon effect”, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted a chat on the app with Robinhood boss Vlad Tenev.
The report cements Facebook’s reputation as a company willing to clone the competition.
In 2016, Facebook-owned Instagram copied rival Snapchat’s “stories” function and last year, Instagram also introduced a feature similar to TikTok called Reels. As Zoom took off in popularity, Facebook introduced Messenger Rooms in April and the company is reportedly working on a newsletter tool, similar to Substack.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We’ve been connecting people through audio and video technologies for many years and are always exploring new ways to improve that experience for people.”
Even in its early days, Clubhouse was a magnet for celebrities and Silicon Valley’s elite. Users included musician Will I Am, actor Ashton Kutcher and pop music mogul Scooter Braun.
It also became an unlikely home for users from China who wanted to discuss the politics, without the oversight of state censors.
Before China banned the app earlier this week, thousands men and women from the country’s persecuted Uighur minority group, as well as ethnic Han people inside China and overseas used the app to talk about surveillance and leaving government camps.
Clubhouse is the invention of founders Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, who described the app as their “last try” after a series of failed social network start-ups.
“Unlike our other attempts, Clubhouse seemed to strike a real chord with people, and it has accelerated quickly over the past ten months—from a small handful of beta testers into a diverse and growing network of communities,” the pair wrote in a blog post last month.
According to the company, two million people used the app during one week in January.
I just popped into a women in business @joinClubhouse room on “presenting for impact” where women receive feedback on elevator pitches from a presentation coach and a sports reporter. I’ve learned so much and I’ve only been listening for five minutes. This platform is terrific
— Tracie Sponenberg (@traciespon) January 12, 2021
MasterCard to support cryptocurrencies
Credit card giant Mastercard said yesterday it was planning to support some cryptocurrencies on its network later this year.
The announcement arrives in the midst of a good week for cryptocurrencies. On Monday Tesla disclosed a $1.5bn investment in Bitcoin with Twitter suggesting it might follow the electric car company’s lead.
Payment companies Paypal and Square have already backed cryptocurrencies.
Already this week in institutional crypto adoption:
– Tesla buys $1.5 billion of Bitcoin and will accept Bitcoin payments
– Mastercard to allow merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments
– Amazon to create digital currency for Prime members in Mexico
It’s only Wednesday. 📈
— Ryan Watkins (@RyanWatkins_) February 11, 2021
GameStop Reddit trader summoned by US regulator
Regulators in Massachusetts have supoenaed the star investor from the GameStop drama, Keith Gill, better known as YouTuber Roaring Kitty or by his Reddit name DeepF*ckingValue.
Gill posted about GameStop online for over a year before an army of Reddit traders launched the stock to $483 a share.
The 34-year-old, who is a registered broker, used to work for insurance company MassMutual but gave his noticed on January 21.
MassMutual told security regulators the company was unaware of Gill’s online activities otherwise they would have asked him to stop or potentially fired him.
Gill will testify before the Massachusetts Securities division on February 26, according to the subpoena.
Microsoft approached Pinterest about potential deal
Microsoft recently approached social media network Pinterest about a possible deal.
Pinterest is worth $51bn and the deal would have been Microsoft’s biggest ever, however talks are no longer active, according to a Financial Times report.
If the deal had gone ahead, Pinterest would have been Microsoft’s second social media purchase in recent years. In 2016, the company bought professional networking site LinkedIn for $26bn.
Bumble valued at $8.2bn
The online dating company Bumble is expected to be valued at $8.2 billion when it floats on the Nasdaq later today.
On Wednesday, the company exceeded expectations, selling 50 million shares for $43 each. It had planned to sell 45 million shares for $37-$39 each.
The Bumble app was founded by 31-year-old CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, who also co-founded Tinder. She will become the youngest female CEO to take a large US company public.
The company sells itself on female empowerment and the dating app works by only letting women make the first move.
Bumble also owns the dating app Badoo, which is popular among Europeans.
Five things to start your day
1) How virtual reality is transforming what it means to work from home Town halls, weekly meetings, and international conferences are increasingly being pushed into virtual worlds
2) Businessman plagued by adverts declaring his death takes Facebook to court Irish business personality Gavin Duffy says he has been subject to a years-long campaign by criminals using his image for cryptocurrency fraud
3) Opinion: Kneejerk rules risk burning UK’s start-up ambitions Miles of red tape will fail to attract the likes of Silicon Valley firms seeking an innovative new home, says Robin Pagnamenta
4) Wave of Silicon Valley money could flow into Bitcoin as Twitter mulls investment Finance chief Ned Segal said the firm is watching Tesla’s $1.5bn Bitcoin investment closely and has long considered buying in
5) Opinion: Facebook must stand shoulder to shoulder with us when tackling child abuse The platform’s new business model could seriously impact action against child sex offenders, writes National Crime Agency director-general Dame Lynne Owens