Home » What’s Up: Week of March 29th

What’s Up: Week of March 29th

Coursera jumps 36% in NYSE debut

Coursera’s shares surged on their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, with investors eager to get into the red-hot sector pushing them 36% above the initial public offering price, reports Reuters.

Coursera closed at $45 a share, giving the nine-year-old firm a valuation of about $5.8 billion, up from a $2.57 billion valuation in a private funding round last July. Coursera is the latest strong market debut by a technology company that has benefited from disruptions caused by the pandemic.

As people staying at home during the pandemic shifted to digital learning in 2020, about 30.6 million new users registered for the platform, up from 9.2 million new users in 2019. Coursera’s revenue jumped 59% to $293 million.

Coursera offers courses directly to users. It partners with corporations and governments to retrain employees and works with more than 3,700 universities and colleges worldwide to provide degree programs.

Self-driving truck startup Plus raises extra $220 million

U.S. autonomous truck startup Plus had raised an extra $220 million from investors in an extension of a $200 million funding round in February, as the global auto industry looks to a driverless future.

The Cupertino-based startup, which was founded in 2016, has a joint venture with China’s state-owned automaker FAW to develop and build autonomous trucks. It is testing trucks in the United States, China and Europe. With the funding it will accelerate its production and deliveries of autonomous trucks and improve research capabilities.

Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of road transport, though some industry insiders say it will take time for the public to fully place their trust in these vehicles.

Hitachi agrees to GlobalLogic for $9.5 billion

Hitachi has agreed to buy GlobalLogic, a Silicon Valley software engineering company, for $9.5 billion in its largest-ever acquisition, reports the Financial Times. The Japanese industrial group seeks to become a global powerhouse in digital services. The deal comes after years of reform to transition the sprawling Japanese conglomerate into an IT and infrastructure specialist by merging and selling off listed subsidiaries long considered sacred cows. 

With annual revenue of $771 million last year, GlobalLogic’s client base includes McDonald’s, US chipmaker Qualcomm and Finnish telecoms equipment group Nokia.  

Hitachi is in talks to sell its metals unit, a deal that will help to reduce its interest-bearing debt which will increase to about $28 billion following the acquisition of GlobalLogic. The company said it would use cash at hand and bank loans to finance the deal.

Xiaomi unveils plan to make electric cars

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is joining the electric vehicle gold rush, pledging to pour $10 billion into building a smart car over the next decade, reports the Financial Times.

The push makes Xiaomi the latest tech company to join the stampede into electric vehicles, with search giant Baidu earlier this year announcing it would launch a new marque with carmaker Geely, and US tech group Apple reportedly considering a similar move. Xiaomi did not disclose details such as whether the company would be launching a new brand or outsourcing manufacturing to a third party.

Xiaomi enters an increasingly crowded field of automakers, from traditional global brands such as Volkswagen to Chinese start-ups including Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto, all of which are vying to corner China’s strategically important electric car market, the largest in the world. Sales of battery-powered and hybrid vehicles in China hit record highs in December, nearing a tenth of the country’s entire automotive market. The Chinese government wants a fifth of all sales to be electric by 2025. The potential for rapid growth over the next decade has attracted investors keen to find the Chinese carmaker most likely to take on industry leader Tesla, whose Model 3 was China’s best-selling electric car model in 2020.

WeWork to merge with Spac in $9 billion deal

WeWork has agreed to merge with a blank-cheque company in a deal that values the office provider at $9 billion, reports the Financial Times. The deal paves the way for the business to go public almost two years after its failed listing plunged the company into turmoil.  The merger with BowX Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company set up by Vivek Ranadivé, founder of the California-based software group Tibco, will pump $1.3 billion in cash into WeWork.  As part of the deal WeWork will receive $800 million from institutional investors such as Starwood Capital, Fidelity and BlackRock, as well as $483 million in cash BowX raised in its initial public offering.  Shares in BowX were up almost 5 per cent in pre-market trading. The company, which is pitching itself as a “technology platform” rather than a conventional bricks and mortar landlord, said it needed 70 per cent physical occupancy to break even.