Weekly Refresh: Twilio’s New Acquisition, Calm Seeks Funding, and More

by Joe Erbentraut
October 19, 2020
san francisco tech news
Photo: Shutterstock

Twitter, Facebook, the Post and Biden. The social media companies entered the political fray of 2020 in a big way last week when they both took significant actions to limit the spread of a New York Post story purportedly based on documents from a laptop owned by presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and provided to the Post by Donald Trump associates. (The New York Times reports the Post staffer who wrote most of the story declined to put his name on it, citing concerns about its credibility.) Twitter prevented users from sharing links to the story, while Facebook limited its distribution in users’ news feeds. Conservatives are viewing this move as censorship. [BBC News, NY Times]

Calm seeking a $2.2B valuation. Meditation and wellness apps were seemingly built for 2020, so it makes sense that many of them have pulled in big funding this year. SF-based Calm is reportedly looking to continue that trend with its eye on raising about $150 million in a new funding round. Downloads of the app are reportedly on the rise amid the pandemic. [Bloomberg]

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Twilio acquired Segment. In a $3.2 billion all-stock deal announced last week, Twilio is snapping up Segment. It is the cloud communications company’s biggest acquisition to date and represents a push to grab market share in the customer data management space. [TechCrunch]

The 100kPledge launches. A new platform tracking companies and individuals’ commitments to racial justice initiatives launched last week with the support of over 140 tech professionals and thought leaders including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and employees of companies including Google, Postmates, Shopify and Grindr. Already, the platform’s pledges — across categories including hiring, investing and donating — total over $45 billion. We spoke with the people behind the push. [Built In SF]

GV names its first Black woman investing partner. The VC firm formerly known as Google Ventures promoted Terri Burns, a principal at the firm, to a full partner. At 26, she is GV’s youngest partner in its history. She previously worked as an associate product manager at Twitter and has already spearheaded the firm’s investment in HAGS, a social media app aimed at Gen Z. [Fortune]

Dropbox makes WFH permanent. The SF-based company is the latest tech player to announce it is embracing remote work by making it the company’s standard practice. For employees who do need to meet up in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” hubs in SF, Seattle, Austin and Dublin. In the meantime, its work-from-home policy will be mandatory through June of 2021. [CNBC]

Fully self-driving Cruise vehicles hitting SF’s streets this year. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann just announced that his startup will be deploying its automated electric vehicles — with no safety driver onboard — this year. The company, which is backed by GM, is valued at some $20 billion. [Business Insider]

CircleUp CEO cited burnout in stepping down. It’s rare to see C-suite folks in tech speaking out about mental health-related challenges, or any personal struggles, really. But Ryan Caldbeck bucked the trend in publicly naming the personal issues — including fertility challenges and a health scare — behind his decision to step down from his CEO role at the fintech company. Nick Talwar will replace Caldbeck as CEO. [Institutional Investor]

Stripe acquired Paystack. In a $200 million deal, the fintech giant just bought Paystack, a Lagos-based company with some 60,000 customers to its name. This is part of the company’s push to grow in the African region and a continuation of a partnership dating back to at least 2018, when Stripe led Paystack’s Series A funding round. [SF Business Times]

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