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Divvy raises $165M as the spend management space stays red-hot



Today Divvy, a Utah-based startup that focuses on corporate spend management, announced that it has closed a $165 million round at a $1.6 billion valuation. The company said that the new capital was raised from Hanaco, Schonfeld, PayPal Ventures and Whale Rock, along with a cadre of prior investors.

The new investment is not Divvy’s first megaround of private capital. The well-known startup raised $200 million in April of 2019. TechCrunch reported at the time that that round valued Divvy at around $700 million, making today’s deal a more than 2x increase in valuation for the company.

Divvy exists amongst the current generation of Utah-based tech upstarts that are keeping the state’s tech scene in the broader startup conversation. Podium fits in the same cohort, for example, while Qualtrics feels like it’s from the preceding peer group.

Divvy’s market, the corporate spend management space — broadly, corporate cards and software that helps firms manage and limit expenses — is incredibly active today as businesses look to modernize their financial infrastructure. The new capital for Divvy comes after multiple other competitors recently announced fresh funds itself, for example. Let’s take a look at who Divvy is taking on with its new round.


A few weeks back Ramp, another corporate-cards-and-software startup, announced a $30 million raise and that it had reached $100 million in spend through its service in its first 18 months of business. At the same time Divvy shared with TechCrunch that it had seen 120% customer growth and over 100% growth in platform spend in 2020, compared to 2019. At the time, Brex, which also competes in the corporate spend space, declined to share metrics.

That Divvy was able to raise so much capital given its recent growth rates is not surprising. But that so many companies in its sector are managing similarly strong-to-line expansion stands out. After covering the Ramp round in December and noting Divvy’s metrics at the same time, both Airbase (more here) and Teampay (more here) reached out with numbers of their own.

Teampay reiterated its October-era metrics: that it has seen its annual recurring revenue (ARR) grow by 320% and its total spend grow by 800% since its then year-ago Series A. Airbase noted what it described as 250% growth in ARR — up by 2.5x, in other words — and 700% growth in payment volume (annualized).

Divvy, Teampay and Airbase are therefore growing like all heck, though in slightly different fashions. Divvy and Ramp offer their corporate spend products and software for free, taking a slice of payment volume through interchange revenues. Teampay and Airbase generate incomes from interchange as well, but also charge for their software. This gives them both spend and software revenues.

Which brings us back to Divvy’s news from today. I normally avoid quoting from releases, but in today’s case a paragraph is worth sharing:

The valuation of $1.6 billion and the addition of key investors validates Divvy’s ambition to modernize financial processes by combining credit, vendor, and spend management into a single platform. With this round of funding, Divvy plans to invest heavily in product development and engineering in order to accelerate their future roadmap.

Divvy is going to invest heavily in product? That makes sense. But to give away its software forever just seems odd. Some of its competitors are charging for theirs! Why not Divvy as well?

We’ll see, but what is clear today is that the capital that has gone into startups in Divvy’s cohort was put into a niche that has shown huge demand. So, expect to hear more from this product area in 2021.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Elon Musk says Tesla Semi is ready for production, but limited by battery cell output



Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on the company’s 2020 Q4 earnings call that all engineering work is now complete on the Tesla Semi, the freight-hauling semi truck that the company is building with an all-electric powertrain. The company expects to begin deliveries of Tesla Semi this year, the company said in its Q4 earnings release, and Musk said the only thing limiting their ability to produce them now is the availability of battery cells.

“The main reason we have not accelerated new products – like for example Tesla Semi – is that we simply don’t have enough cells for it,” Musk said. “If we were to make the Semi right now, and we could easily go into production with the Semi right now, but we would not have enough cells for it.”

Musk added that the company does expect to have sufficient cell volume to meet its needs once it goes into production on its 4680 battery pack, which is a new custom cell design it created with a so-called ‘tables’ design that allows for greater energy density and therefore range.

“A Semi would use typically five times the number of cells that a car would use, but it would not sell for five times what a car would sell for, so it kind of would not make sense for us to do the Semi right now,” Musk said. “But it will absolutely make sense for us to do it as soon as we can address the cell production constraint.”

That constraint points to the same conclusion for the possibility of Tesla developing a van, Musk added, and the lifting of the constraint will likewise make it possible for Tesla to pursue the development of that category of vehicle, he said.

Tesla has big plans for “exponentially” ramping cell production, with a goal of having production capacity infrastructure in place for a Toal of 200 gigawatt hours per year by 2022, and a target of being able to actually produce around 40% of that by that year (with future process improvements generating additional gigawatt hours of cell capacity  in gradual improvements thereafter).

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Pro-Trump Twitter figure arrested for spreading vote-by-text disinformation in 2016



The man behind a once-influential pro-Trump account is facing charges of election interference for allegedly disseminating voting disinformation on Twitter in 2016.

Federal prosecutors allege that Douglass Mackey, who used the name “Ricky Vaughn” on Twitter, encouraged people to cast their ballot via text or on social media, effectively tricking others into throwing away those votes.

According to the Justice Department, 4,900 unique phone numbers texted a phone number Mackey promoted in order to “vote by text.” BuzzFeed reported the vote-by-text scam at the time, noting that many of the images were photoshopped to look like official graphics from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Some of those images appeared to specifically target Black and Spanish-speaking Clinton supporters, a motive that tracks with the account’s track record of white supremacist and anti-Semitic content. The account was suspended in November 2016.

At the time, the mysterious account quickly gained traction in the political disinformation ecosystem. HuffPost revealed that the account was run by Mackey, the son of a lobbyist, two years later.

“… His talent for blending far-right propaganda with conservative messages on Twitter made him a key disseminator of extremist views to Republican voters and a central figure in the alt-right’ white supremacist movement that attached itself to Trump’s coattails,” HuffPost’s Luke O’Brien reported.

Mackey, a West Palm Beach resident, was taken into custody Wednesday in Florida.

“There is no place in public discourse for lies and misinformation to defraud citizens of their right to vote,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth D. DuCharme said.

“With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of Internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes.”

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Tesla is willing to license Autopilot and has already had “preliminary discussions” about it with other automakers



Tesla is open to licensing its software, including its Autopilot highly-automated driving technology, and the neural network training it has built to improve its autonomous driving technology. Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed those considerations on the company’s Q4 earnings call on Wednesday, adding that the company has in fact already “had some preliminary discussions about licensing Autopilot to other OEMs.”

The company began rolling out its beta version of the so-called ‘full self-driving’ or FSD version of Autopilot late last year. The standard Autopilot features available in general release provide advanced driver assistance (ADAS) which provide essentially advanced cruise control capabilities designed primarily for use in highway commutes. Musk said on the call that he expects the company will seek to prove out its FSD capabilities before entering into any licensing agreements, if it does end up pursuing that path.

Musk noted that Tesla’s “philosophy is definitely not to create walled gardens” overall, and pointed out that the company is planning to allow other automakers to use its Supercharger networks, as well as its autonomy software. He characterized Tesla as “more than happy to license” those autonomous technologies to “other car companies,” in fact.

One key technical hurdle required to get to a point where Tesla’s technology is able to demonstrate true reliability far surpassing that of a standard human driver is transition the neural networks operating in the cars and providing them with the analysis that powers their perception engines is to transition those to video. That’s a full-stack transition across the system away from basing it around neural nets trained on single cameras and single frames.

To this end, the company has developed video labelling software that has had “a huge effect on the efficiency of labeling,” with the ultimate aim being enabling automatic labeling. Musk (who isn’t known for modesty around his company’s achievements, it should be said) noted that Tesla believes “it may be the best neural net training computer in the world by possibly an order of magnitude,” adding that it’s also “something we can offer potentially as a service.”

Training huge quantities of video data will help Tesla push the reliability of its software from 100% that of a human driver, to 200% and eventually to “2,000% better than the average human,” Musk said, while again suggesting that it won’t be a technological achievement the company is interested into keeping to themselves.

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