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The Start-Up Enemies of Wall Street Are Booming

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“The infrastructure has gone to a whole other level,” said CJ MacDonald, founder of Step, a debit card provider aimed at teenagers. Introduced in September, Step quickly reached one million customers, partly from endorsements from social media influencers like Charli D’Amelio.

In December, Step raised $50 million in funding. The company was not looking for more money, Mr. MacDonald said. But investors started calling as soon as the app joined the top-downloaded finance app list shortly after it was released. The money came together in a matter of weeks, he said.

Investors are even clamoring to buy into broken deals. Plaid, which had agreed to sell itself to Visa for $5.6 billion last year, saw the deal unravel in January after facing antitrust scrutiny. Now the fast-growing company is in talks with investors to raise funding at a valuation near $15 billion, said two people with knowledge of the company who spoke on the condition they not be identified because the discussions are confidential. The Information earlier reported Plaid’s funding talks.

Sheel Mohnot, an investor at Better Tomorrow Ventures, said Plaid’s sale price to Visa was viewed as “so amazing” at the time. But now, with multiple fintech companies approaching $100 billion valuations, it looks low.

Some caution that the excitement has gotten far ahead of reality.

Robert Le, an analyst at PitchBook, pointed to the valuation of Affirm, which has a market capitalization of $20 billion, or roughly 40 times its annual revenue. That’s significantly higher than the value that investors typically assign to blue-chip financial services companies. American Express, for example, trades at just three times its annual revenue.

“I think it’s a little irrational,” Mr. Le said. “Over the long haul, some of these companies will have to come down.”

Some of the start-ups have already hit growing pains. Chime, a banking start-up, had a series of outages in 2019, leaving millions of customers with no access to their money for hours. Some Coinbase customers have said they were locked out of their accounts or experienced thefts of their money. And Robinhood faces nearly 50 lawsuits and multiple regulatory investigations after it halted trading for some stocks during a frenzy in “meme” stocks in January.



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Apple’s new iPad Pros and TV remote don’t have U1 locators to help find them in your couch

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Apple has been quietly sticking special locator beacon chips into some of its new iPhones that’ll let you unlock your car and find lost items through walls — the latter thanks to the $29 AirTags announced today — but sadly, you won’t find that chip in the new M1-based iPad Pros or the long-awaited new Siri remote for the Apple TV.

Apple confirmed to us that the U1 locator chip, which uses pulses of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio to broadcast its precise location, won’t appear in the Siri remote. We’re waiting on final bulletproof confirmation about the iPad Pros, but it also doesn’t appear in their product page, spec sheet, or press release. Last year’s iP ad Pros didn’t include a U1 chip, either.

Is Apple expecting us to stick AirTags to our iPads and TV remotes to escape the jaws of the ever-ravenous couch? Unlikely, but the company has been pretty choosey about which devices get the chip so far. You can find it in the iPhone 11 and newer (but not the iPhone SE) and the Apple Watch Series 6 (but not the Apple Watch SE), but we’re pretty sure it hasn’t made its way to any iPads or MacBooks that have been announced since the chip’s introduction in September 2019.

Theoretically, Apple could build an ecosystem where any Apple device can easily find any other Apple device (not to mention UWB devices from Samsung, which is also deeply invested in the tech and has its own AirTag-like device as well). But for now, you’ll primarily just be using your phone to find AirTags, not other gadgets, except perhaps your future car.



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Your iPhone has a completely hidden app. Here’s how to find and use it

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Apple’s iPhone is full of hidden features and tricks we’re constantly discovering. For instance, did you know the Notes app has a hidden document scanner? Yeah, pretty cool. The latest hidden feature that’s been popping up on Twitter and blogs is another type of scanner, dedicated to QR codes, and it’s better than the one built into the camera app.

Indeed, you would already be able to filter QR codes utilizing the easy route in Control Center, or simply open the camera application and it will check a QR code. Also, you’re correct. Both of those strategies turn out great. However, the committed Code Scanner application accepts the position above and beyond by introducing a greater amount of the data I need to see about an examined code.

For instance, the camera application utilizes a little notice at the highest point of the screen to open a connection or show you data, though the devoted Code Scanner application makes it exceptionally clear what’s inside the QR code you just checked. Yet, here’s the rub: The Code Scanner application isn’t found on your home screen, nor is it found in iOS 14’s new App Library.

As should be obvious, the best way to discover the Code Scanner application is to utilize the iPhone’s Spotlight search include. Go to your iPhone’s home screen and swipe down in the center of the screen. An inquiry bar will show up at the highest point of your screen, alongside application and alternate route ideas underneath. Type either code or scanner. As you type, you’ll see the Code Scanner application symbol appear as an application idea. Tap to open it.

The flashlight icon at the bottom of the screen acts as a flash to illuminate a code if your phone is struggling to read it.

If you don’t have the QR scanner shortcut added to Control Center yet, here’s a post showing you how to customize Control Center to your liking. For more hidden features, check out our list for iOS 14. We also cover more general, but useful features in iOS 14.



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Mercedes rolls out luxury electric car in duel with Tesla

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Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG on Thursday unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla.

The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to be built on a framework designed from the start as an electric car, rather than using components from an internal-combustion vehicle.

Mercedes underscored the car’s technological features by equipping it with a sweeping touchscreen panel that stretches across the entire front of the car’s interior in place of a conventional dashboard. Tesla and other carmakers are also adding large screens to their interiors.

The EQS is the sibling to the company’s S-Class large internal-combustion sedan, the luxury brand’s flagship model that sells for $110,000 and up. The two cars aim at the same upper end of the market, though the EQS is set apart by being built on the company’s electric-vehicle architecture, or EVA. Mercedes isn’t saying yet how much the EQS will cost when it reaches customers later this year.

Daimler said the vehicle will get 770 kilometers (478 miles) on a full charge under testing standards used in the European Union. The company is offering a year’s free charging through Ionity, a network of highway charging stations built by a group of major automakers.

The hyperscreen in the Mercedes EQS is a 56-inch digital display that replaces the conventional dashboard.
The hyperscreen in the Mercedes EQS is a 56-inch digital display that replaces the conventional dashboard.
AP

German carmakers were slower to develop all-electric models until tougher environmental regulations and sales lost to California-based Tesla pushed them to ramp up their efforts. Volkswagen sold 422,000 electric vehicles last year and developed the ID.3, a compact it hopes will win over mass-market buyers, while its Porsche division has come out with the Taycan sports car. BMW launched the iX3 electric SUV.

1.1822258-2757530049 A Mercedes Benz employee work on a production line at the factory in Rastatt, Germany. Daimler AG unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla. Image Credit: Reuters

Frankfurt: Daimler AG unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla.

The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to be built on a framework designed from the start as an electric car, rather than using components from an internal-combustion vehicle.

Mercedes underscored the car’s technological features by equipping it with a sweeping touchscreen panel that stretches across the entire front of the car’s interior in place of a conventional dashboard. Tesla and other carmakers are also adding large screens to their interiors.

The EQS is the sibling to the company’s S-Class large internal-combustion sedan, the luxury brands flagship model that sells for $110,000 and up. The two cars aim at the same upper end of the market, though the EQS is set apart by being build on the company’s electric-vehicle architecture, or EVA. Mercedes isn’t saying yet how much the EQS will cost when it reaches customers later this year.

Daimler said the vehicle will get 770 kilometers (478 miles) on a full charge under testing standard used in the European Union. The company is offering a year’s free charging through Ionity, a network of highway charging stations built by a group of major automakers.



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