Apple has acquired music analytics startup Asaii to bolster content recommendations

Apple has acquired San Francisco-based music analytics startup Asaii which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help clients like record labels find the next Justin Bieber. Apple will reportedly use their technology to bolster Apple Music recommendations to users and better compete with Spotify’s efforts to work directly with smaller artist.

Apple acquisitions - Asaii dashboard

Apple is acquiring San Francisco-based Asaii, an automated analytics and artists and repertoire (A&R) platform for the music industry powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. The transaction is valued at less than $100 million, Axios reported this morning.... Read the rest of this post here


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Apple to buy parts of iPhone chip supplier Dialog Semiconductor for $600 million

Apple will pay $300 million in cash for parts of its supplier Dialog Semiconductor’s business and another $300 million in purchase obligations over the next three years.

Apple has agreed to pay $600 million to buy parts of Dialog Semiconductor, an Anglo-German supplier of power management chips and technologies. The move hints at Apple’s further custom semiconductor efforts in areas like power management and charging. Under the terms of the agreement, Apple is getting Dialog’s patents, a team of about 300 engineers representing sixteen percent of Dialog’s workforce and the company’s offices in Europe.... Read the rest of this post here


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Apple bought visual effects startup Spektral

Nearly a year ago, Apple purchased Spektral. The company develops software that allows photographers to add people from one digital scene to another.

Cupertino doesn’t publicly announce all of its acquisitions, although the details of each are usually leaked soon after they occur. In the case of Apple’s purchase of Danish visual effects startup Spektral, it took nearly a year before the news trickled out. ... Read the rest of this post here


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Walmart to acquire women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII

Walmart is expanding further into apparel with today’s announcement of its plans to acquire the digitally native, women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII for an undisclosed amount. The all-cash deal includes ELOQUII CEO Mariah Chase, her executive team and its 100 employees, who will continue to be based in Long Island City, NY and Columbus, OH. […]

Walmart is expanding further into apparel with today’s announcement of its plans to acquire the digitally native, women’s plus-size clothing brand ELOQUII for an undisclosed amount. The all-cash deal includes ELOQUII CEO Mariah Chase, her executive team and its 100 employees, who will continue to be based in Long Island City, NY and Columbus, OH. They’ll join Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce organization, reporting to Andy Dunn, SVP of Digital Consumer Brands, Walmart U.S. eCommerce, when the deal closes later this year.

Walmart won’t disclose the deal size, but says it’s larger than its ModCloth acquisition ($75M) but smaller than Bonobos ($310M). That’s in line with Recode’s report claiming the deal is $100 million.

Women’s plus-size fashion is of interest to Walmart because it’s one of the fastest-growing segments of women’s apparel, and an estimated $21 billion market, the retailer explains. More than half of U.S. women ages 18-65 now wear a size 14 or higher, but traditional fashion brands often overlook their needs by limiting clothing options, or failing to address fit.

ELOQUII was founded in 2011 and then relaunched in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer brand catering to this market. Since 2015, the company has seen 3x revenue growth and has achieved a Net Promoter score of near 80.

Beyond simply having the means to address this market with more inventory, ELOQUII is another means for the retailer to reach a segment of online consumers who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise considered shopping Walmart. This is a similar strategy Walmart made when snatching up other fashion brands, including Bonobos and ModCloth, for example. In fact, Bonobos and ModCloth shoppers were so anti-Walmart in some cases, there was a backlash following their acquisitions.

ELOQUII has grown its online profile thanks to savvy internet marketing and high-profile relationships, like the one with Reese Witherspoon, who partnered on a plus-size collection from her clothing line Draper James. The retailer also tapped other brands like Stone Fox Bridal and Jason Wu – the latter designer who’s a fav of celebs like Karlie Kloss, Diane Kruger, and Lily Aldridge.

It has also listened to and promptly responded to customer feedback as it grew.

“Addressing customers’ vocal requests for fashion-forward styles is something ELOQUII does incredibly well,” notes Dunn, in a blog post about the deal. “For example, they recently uncovered 80% of ELOQUII customers work full-time, and one of the most frequent requests from customers was for fashionable work wear. Embracing the feedback, ELOQUII launched The 9-5 Kit and most recently The Premier Workwear Kit, filling an unmet need in the category and further reinforcing trust with customers in the process,” he says.

Walmart has picked up a number of brands to help it expand its reach and inventory in recent years, including Moosejaw ($51M), ShoeBuy, Jet.com ($3B), Hayneedle, in addition to Bonobos and ModCloth. Most continue to offer their own online stores, though Moosejaw just became the first acquisition to open its own storefront right on Walmart’s site. It also introduced its own Allswell home and bedding digital brand.

The retailer says the ELOQUII deal is expected to close later this quarter. The brand has raised $21 million to date, according to Crunchbase data, from investors including Acton Capital Partners, Greycroft, Grace Beauty Capital, Female Founders Fund, Fabrice Grinda, FJ Labs, Max Ventures, and HDS Capital. However, ELOQUII has actually raised more than that – $42 million, according to Recode.

Sirius XM is buying Pandora for $3.5 billion

In the works since at least 2014, the all-stock transaction will see the ad-supported Pandora service, as well as the company’s Plus and Premium subscriptions, continue unabated without changing pricing.

Satellite radio operator Sirius XM is acquiring the Internet radio service Pandora, which was founded in 2000, for $3.5 billion in an all-stock transaction, the companies announced Monday.... Read the rest of this post here


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Potentially bad news for Spotify as EU approves Apple’s planned acquisition of Shazam

The regulators have concluded that the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple would not reduce choice for users of streaming music services in Europe, like Sweden-headquartered Spotify.

As expected, the European Union antitrust regulators have officially approved Apple’s planned acquisition of Shazam, the British music discovery app, for a reported $400 million.... Read the rest of this post here


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Landis acquires real estate startup GoldenKey

Landis, a platform that uses data science to help institutional real estate investors buy and sell residential real estate, today announced that it has acquired GoldenKey, a well-funded startup that set out to disrupt real estate agents and unbundle the real estate industry. GoldenKey, which was also once known as SoloPro, is now defunct and […]

Landis, a platform that uses data science to help institutional real estate investors buy and sell residential real estate, today announced that it has acquired GoldenKey, a well-funded startup that set out to disrupt real estate agents and unbundle the real estate industry.

GoldenKey, which was also once known as SoloPro, is now defunct and Landis has acquired all of its IP and data, though it’s not taking on any of GoldenKey’s employees.

Since its launch in 2015, GoldenKey’s team had raised $3.4 million from investors like Lowe’s Ventures, NFX Guild and others. GoldenKey’s model involved offering home sellers either a set of unbundled services (listing, home showing, transaction coordination, etc.) or a flat rate bundle for selling their homes. Real estate isn’t an easy market to disrupt, though.

Landis, interestingly enough, is tackling a very different side of the residential real estate market. The company, which was co-founded last year by Tom Petit and Cyril Berdugo, helps large-scale investors buy and sell properties. These investors, who then typically rent out those homes, can use the platform to perform all the steps for completing a transaction. And because it’s a private platform, Landis doesn’t face the hassle of dealing with the multiple listing services that tend to have regional monopolies over real estate listing data.

As Petit and Berdugo told me, one of the core pieces of technology that Landis has developed is a tool for finding off-market properties. With this data in hand, Berdugo said, the company can preempt everything that brokers do by four and half months or more. But Landis also uses data science to better understand the investors and their preferences. “They think that they’ve got very specific criteria,” Berdugo said about those buyers. “But as we analyzed what they’re actually doing on our platform, we noticed that what they think they want is not actually what they really want.”

Landis says that it now works with virtually all of the top single family home buyers in the U.S. — and that has given it a lot of data to work with. The acquisition of GoldenKey gives the company even more data to work with. GoldenKey, after all, worked with a lot of home owners and in the process, it learned about what those owners would be willing to sell their homes for.

The team also noted that GoldenKey also built an easy portal for working with real estate listing and, maybe more importantly, it built a lot of deep relationships with sellers, brokers, title insurance companies and other players in the real estate ecosystem.

GoldenKey itself, however, is now a thing of the past and the Landis team has not ambition to get into that side of the real estate business.

Munich Re buys IoT middleware startup, relayr, in deal worth $300M

Berlin based Internet of Things (IoT) startup relayr, whose middleware platform is geared towards helping industrial companies unlock data insights from their existing machinery and production line kit by linking Internet connected sensors and edge devices to platform controls, has been acquired by insurance group Munich Re in a deal which values the company at […]

Berlin based Internet of Things (IoT) startup relayr, whose middleware platform is geared towards helping industrial companies unlock data insights from their existing machinery and production line kit by linking Internet connected sensors and edge devices to platform controls, has been acquired by insurance group Munich Re in a deal which values the company at $300 million.

relayr was founded back in 2013 with the initial aim of helping software developers hack around with hardware, at a time when developer interest in IoT was just taking off.

The startup went on to pass through startupbootcamp and crowdfunded a cute looking chocolate-bar shaped hardware starter kit before expanding into building a hardware agnostic cloud services platform to act as a central hub for data flows. relayr then further honed its focus to the needs of industrial IoT, and its platform — which is now used by around 130 businesses — offers end-to-end middleware combined with device management and IoT analytics, and can operate in the cloud, on-premise or a hybrid of both depending on customers needs.

We first covered the Berlin-based startup back in 2014 when it closed a $2.3M seed round. It’s raised $66.8M in total, according to Crunchbase, which includes a $30M Series C round in February led by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners.

relayr did not disclose the investors in its 2014 seed at the time, saying only that they were unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. But Kleiner Perkins and Munich Re (via its HSB subsidiary which is acquiring relayr now) were named as investors in later rounds, along with Deutsche Telekom .

Insurance giants and telcos have a clear strategic interest in IoT — with the technology promising to drive network usage and utility on the telco side, and offering transformative potential for the insurance industry as data streams can be used to monitor equipment performance and predict (and even steer off) costly failures.

Munich Re said today that its HSB subsidiary is acquiring 100% of relayr in a deal that values the business at $300M. (It’s not clear if it’s all cash or a mix of cash and stock — we’ve asked). It says the deal will help it “shape opportunities in the fast-growing IoT market”, and is envisaging a joint business model with the combined pair developing not just tech solutions for clients but risk management, data analysis and financial instruments.

“IoT is already significantly changing our world and has the potential to disrupt the traditional insurance and reinsurance industry through new business models, services and competitors,” said Torsten Jeworrek, member of Munich Re’s board of management in a statement. “I am truly happy to announce this acquisition, as it supports our strategy to combine our knowledge of risk, data analysis skills and financial strength with the technological expertise of relayr. This is our basis to develop new ideas for tomorrow’s commercial and industrial worlds.”

“We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Munich Re/HSB to push digitalization in commercial and industrial markets and strive for our mission to help commercial and industrial businesses stay relevant,” added relayr CEO, Josef Brunner. “The unique combination of the companies demonstrates the importance to deliver business outcomes to customers and the need to combine first-class technology and its delivery with powerful financial and insurance offerings. This transaction is a great opportunity to build a global category leader.”

The pair have been partnered since 2016, when the insurance firm invested in relayr’s Series B, but say they see the acquisition strengthening Munich Re’s financial and insurance offerings while also offering a route to expand relayr’s middleware business via leveraging the insurance group’s large client base.

“Back in 2016, HSB invested in relayr in an effort to harness the strategically significant business potential offered by IoT. relayr’s end-to-end IoT solutions for the industrial and commercial sectors are an ideal addition to our Group’s capabilities,” said Greg Barats, president and CEO of HSB, and the person responsible for Munich Re’s IoT strategy, in another supporting statement. “HSB has always focused on insurance and technology… relayr will help us to rapidly implement our global strategy to develop new IoT solutions for our clients. Digital transformation in the industrial and commercial sectors offers opportunities for new services and financial applications.”

relayr says it already offers industrial companies which are seeking to digitalise their businesses a “comprehensive range of services” — such as being able to extract and analyse data from machines and equipment to determine when a machine is likely to fail (and it touts cutting costs, increased energy efficiency and product quality improvement as among the benefits its platform offers) — but says the acquisition will allow it to develop its “innovative value stack”, by enabling new revenue models, cost reduction, and “increased effectiveness across industries”.

It also sees benefit in sitting under the established Munich Re umbrella — as a way to convince customers it will be a long-term business partner. It adds that it will continue to maintain its current focus on IoT for the industrial sector.

Reuters: EU antitrust regulators will approve Apple-Shazam deal on September 18

EU’s antitrust regulators should approve Apple’s acquisition of the British music identification service on September 18.

The Apple and Shazam agreement may be approved unconditionally in Europe

Apple’s acquisition of the British music identification service Shazam should be approved by the European Commission antitrust regulators after all, a new report has alleged.... Read the rest of this post here


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Logitech expand its product portfolio by acquiring Blue Microphones

Logitech and Blue Microphones are joining teams to extend their product portfolios, which will especially benefit Logitech which lacks products like cool mics in it offering.

Logitech announced yesterday it was acquiring Blue Microphones, a leader in studio-quality microphones in the past 20 years, for an undisclosed sum.... Read the rest of this post here


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