Home » What’s Up: Week of February 22nd

What’s Up: Week of February 22nd

Employee coaching firm BetterUp valuation hits $1.73 billion  

Employee coaching service provider BetterUp raised $125 million, taking its valuation to $1.73 billion, reports Reuters.

Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based BetterUp provides mobile-based coaching, counseling and mentorship programs for employees of over 300 businesses including Chevron, Snap and AT&T’s Warner Media. BetterUp claimed its customer base grew by 80% and annual recurring revenue more than doubled last year.

Air taxi startup Joby to go public in $6.6 billion blank-check deal

Joby Aviation, the electric air taxi startup partnered with Toyota Motor Corp and Uber Technologies, will go public in a $6.6 billion reverse merger with blank check company Reinvent Technology Partners, reports Reuters.

Joby aims to begin a commercial passenger service in 2024, using its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Potential air taxi competitors include well-funded German startups Volocopter and Lilium. Joby is being taken public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) headed by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Zynga founder Mark Pincus and longtime investor Michael Thompson.

Plume raises $270 million

Plume, a technology firm that helps improve home WiFi and internet security as everything from coffee machines to door bells go online, had raised $270 million from private equity firm Insight Partners, reports Reuters. The deal brings company’s value at $1.35 billion.

Plume’s business model is based on the offering through communications service providers like Comcast, and the technology is in over 22 million households around the world.

He said communication service providers use Silicon Valley-based Plume to help improve the home internet experience – from tools for parental control to expanding WiFi range in the home to cyber security of connected devices.

The funding will be used to invest in research and development and grow the global business.

Continental invests in object recognition start-up

German automotive parts maker Continental AG had acquired a minority stake in German-U.S. start-up Recogni, as it deepens its expertise in autonomous driving technology, reports Reuters.

The start-up is working on a new chip architecture for object recognition in real time based on artificial intelligence. Continental expects chip architecture rollout production in 2026.

Tesla rival Lucid Motors to go public in $24-billion deal

Luxury electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors agreed to go public by merging with blank-check firm Churchill Capital IV Corp (CCIV) in a deal that valued the combined company at a pro-forma equity value of $24 billion, reports Reuters.

Lucid, run by an ex-Tesla engineer, is the latest firm to tap the initial public offering market, with investors rushing into the EV sector. Investors’ interest is spurred by the rise of Tesla and with emissions regulations toughening in Europe and elsewhere.

The deal, which has a transaction equity value of $11.75 billion, includes a $2.1 billion cash contribution from CCIV and a PIPE (private investment in public equity) investment of 2.5 billion from investors.

Lucid is on track to start production and deliveries in North America in the second half of this year with Lucid Air, its first luxury sedan. It had previously said it planned to start its deliveries in spring of 2021.

Lucid, which plans to build vehicles at its factory in Arizona, aims to deliver 20,000 vehicles in 2022 and 251,000 in 2026 by adding other models like an electric sport utility vehicle.

With a starting price of $77,400, the sedan is slated to be the first to achieve a 500-mile (805 km) driving range.

Restaurant-software provider Toast prepares for IPO

Toast, a cloud-based restaurant software company, is planning an initial public offering that could value it at around $20 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In February of last year, Toast raised $400 million in a funding round led by investment firms TPG and Tiger Global Management, among others, taking its valuation to $4.9 billion.