The entrepreneur’s crash is reminiscent of the story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. Also: Instacart lowers the rating again and Tesla still does not build any battery cells in Grünheide.

Trevor Milton founded Nikola in his basement in 2015 and took it public in 2020 with a value of $3.3 billion. At that time, the company had not yet sold a single truck.
Stephen Yang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Good morning! Even during the weekend, work in the digital scene continued in many places.

The top topics:

Nikola-Founder Trevor Milton has been found guilty of fraud by a federal jury in New York. A sentence is to be announced at the end of January, but the entrepreneur faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors accused Milton of repeatedly lying about the development of the company’s zero-emission truck technology. The company’s market valuation briefly topped that of industry giants like Ford. But that ambitious valuation didn’t last: Nikola shares fell sharply when Milton was forced out of the company in September 2020. Earlier, the board had determined that some of short seller Hindenburg Research’s allegations of fraud were valid.

The electric truck manufacturer himself was not charged in this case. The US Securities and Exchange Commission had already brought corresponding civil lawsuits against the company last year. Those charges were settled in December after Nikola agreed to pay a $125 million fine. Though Milton still owns Nikola stock, the company has otherwise severed ties with him. [Mehr bei Wall Street Journal und CNBC]

on Founder scene: An e-car manufacturer comes from China and is quietly taking over the market. And on Tesla passes. Nio Elon Musk’s popular company is attacking in two main areas: autonomous driving and the battery. Tesla could soon fall behind in the arms race of the new automotive world, says our columnist Don Dahlmann. [Mehr bei Gründerszene]

And here are the other headlines of the night and the past few days:

Instacart cuts its rating again: The US’s largest online grocery delivery company has set a new price of $38 per share, reducing its rating for the third time this year. The company is currently valued at around $13 billion. Instacart already cut its valuation by nearly 40 percent to $24 billion in March and again to $15 billion in July. [Mehr bei Bloomberg]

Tesla according to a report in the “Handelsblatt”, still does not build any battery cells in its plant in Grünheide. Apparently there is a significant delay in a crucial but highly complex production technique. This involves the so-called dry coating of the electrodes. A total of five experts, two of whom are close to Tesla, reported to the newspaper that test systems would run quite successfully with the technology, but that implementation in large series was lacking. [Mehr bei Handelsblatt]

Layoffs: NYDIG laid off around 110 employees or about a third of its workforce in September, as has now become known. The cuts came less than two weeks before the Bitcoin finance company announced the resignation of CEO Robert Gutmann and President Yan Zhao. Also Momentive Globalthe parent company of the web survey portal Surveymonkey, has announced staff cuts: Eleven percent of the workforce will have to go. And the food company Beyond Meatwhich focuses on meat substitutes, plans to cut about 200 employees, or 19 percent of its workforce. [Mehr bei Wall Street Journal, Techcrunch und Techcrunch]

Nutanix apparently considering a sale. As the “Wall Street Journal” reports, the Californian cloud computing company has received takeover interest. In the event of a possible sale, the company is targeting private equity and industrial companies, it said. The company’s shares had fallen 61 percent since last October. But the report sent the stock up 24 percent to over $26. At that price, a Nutanix acquisition would cost about $5.8 billion. [Mehr bei Wall Street Journal und The Information]

Cylib, a German startup that wants to solve the raw material problem of e-cars, has raised 3.6 million euros in capital, according to a report by the “Handelsblatt”. The startup by founder Lilian Schwich promises to reprocess 90 percent of the raw materials from large batteries. The idea behind the new company came from research for Schwich’s doctoral thesis. The topic has potential for two reasons: on the one hand, the demand for rare materials is increasing, on the other hand, manufacturers are increasingly having to ensure that batteries can be reused. [Mehr bei Handelsblatt]

Our reading tip on Gründerszene: First chancellor, now founder: with the former boss of the controversial software Pegasus wants Sebastian Kurz now build a cybersecurity startup. [Mehr bei Gründerszene]

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Have a good start into the week!

Your Gründerszene editors


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