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#173 – BigCommerce For Sale, OpenAI GPT-4o, & Instacart’s unlikely partnership

by | May 13, 2024 | Recent Newsletters

Hi Shopifreaks!

This was a wild week in e-commerce with news of public companies going private, Chinese companies suing the US government, AI search engines, and big tech faux paus. Let's dive right into this week's jam-packed edition. 

In this week's edition I cover:

  • Kohl's sales are shrinking
  • BigCommerce is looking for a buyer
  • Squarespace already found one
  • TikTok is suing the US government
  • OpenAI is launching a search engine, but not now
  • Amazon finally launched in South Africa
  • Instacart & Uber Eats form an unlikely partnership
  • Apple apologizes about its insensitive ad
  • Google Shopping is showcasing merchant sales figures
  • Shein keeps getting rejected

All this and more in this week's 173rd Edition of Shopifreaks. Thanks for subscribing and sharing!

Stat of the Week

Kohl's sales have shrunk by $2.3B since 2019. During that same period of time, the company lost 1.3M customers who no longer shop with the retailer.

Kohl's Losing Market Share


1. BigCommerce explores sale, Squarespace goes private

What in the world is going on in the world of public e-commerce platforms this week?! Apparently operating as a publicly traded company isn't for everyone…

First the BigCommerce news:

Reuters reported that BigCommerce is exploring a sale after attracting takeover interest, according to sources who chose to remain anonymous due to the confidentiality of the information. The sources said that BigCommerce asked investment bank Qatalyst Partners to solicit interest from potential buyers that include private equity firms, but that the discussions are at an early stage and no deal is certain. 

Industry folks have been speculating for years that BigCommerce should / would get acquired. The company has lost 90% of its market value in the four years since its IPO in Aug 2020 and currently holds a market cap of $592M.

The big question is — who would be the buyer?

  • Shopify — no way. They'd simply wait to pick up the pieces if BigCommerce went under, as Shopify would be the most logical place for most BC merchants to go in that scenario.
  • Amazon — absolutely not. They've already tried their hand at both operating and acquiring an e-commerce platform, and it's not for them. They have more upside to concentrate on Buy With Prime and attach themselves to every other platform.
  • Salesforce or Adobe — hard maybe. They do serve similar markets, but combining tech stacks might make it a challenge not worth pursuing, and continuing to run BigCommerce as its own platform wouldn't make sense economically. 
  • Google — not a fit. Acquiring an e-commerce platform would isolate the company from all their other e-commerce integration partners. Plus they're already operating a pseudo-marketplace with Google Shopping. 
  • Microsoft — soft maybe. This is the only big tech company I thought could even remotely be a fit. Microsoft is diving deeper into e-commerce in other areas of their business, and BigCommerce's open platform could fit right in with the rest of their current and future offerings. However it would make more sense for Microsoft to go the Google / Amazon route and continue to focus on integrating with everyone else. 
  • Private Equity — most likely. It makes the most sense for BigCommerce to continue operating BigCommerce instead of getting absorbed into a larger tech company. 

Last week I reported that Travis Hess joined BigCommerce as the company's new president, charged with leading its global strategic and operational expansion. Hess has spent more than 15 years in senior leadership positions at e-commerce companies, most recently as managing director of Accenture, and he's also served on partner advisory boards for Shopify, Klaviyo, SAP/Hybrid, and Rackspace. Is Travis joining the team related to a potential sale?

I'm a fan of BigCommerce. They were formerly my exclusive sponsor of Shopifreaks for one year before I opened up my sponsorship model to work with multiple companies. I believe that they have the potential to lead and innovate in the industry (and already are in some ways), and perhaps going private will allow them the opportunity to do so without being beholden to public shareholders. I look forward to this story unfolding in the coming year. 

Now the Squarespace news: 

Squarespace announced that it will be going private in a $6.9B all-cash deal with private-equity firm Permira, who agreed to pay $44 per share (a roughly 30% premium).

Although Squarespace never lost 90% of its share price like BigCommerce, it has experienced a tumultuous time on the market since its IPO in May 2021 — opening around $49.50 and at times trading in the low $20s. Shares rose nearly 13% to $43 in pre-market trading upon release of the news.

Right now BigCommerce is thinking, “Hey Permira, got an extra $600M lying around for another acquisition?”

2. TikTok is suing the US government

ByteDance filed a lawsuit in US federal court seeking to block the new law that would force the sale or ban of the app within the country.

Two weeks ago, after the legislation was passed, ByteDance posted on its official Toutiao account, “ByteDance doesn't have any plans to sell TikTok” and later made it clear that they planned on defending their position in court.

True to their word, the company is moving forward with a lawsuit, which challenges the law on constitutional grounds, also citing commercial, technical, and legal hurdles, as well as opposition from Beijing. 

Highlights from ByteDance's petition include: 

  • “For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban, and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than 1 billion people worldwide.”
  • “Banning TikTok is so obviously unconstitutional, in fact, that even the Act’s sponsors recognized that reality, and therefore have tried mightily to depict the law not as a ban at all, but merely a regulation of TikTok’s ownership.”
  • “They claim that the Act is not a ban because it offers ByteDance a choice: divest TikTok’s U.S. business or be shut down. But in reality, there is no choice. The “qualified divestiture” demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act.”
  • “There is no question: the Act will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere.”
  • “If Congress can do this, it can circumvent the First Amendment by invoking national security and ordering the publisher of any individual newspaper or website to sell to avoid being shut down.”
  • “The Act does not articulate any threat posed by TikTok nor explain why TikTok should be excluded from evaluation under the standards Congress concurrently imposed on every other platform.”

The Justice Department declined to comment, however, Republican Congressman John Moolenaar said, “It is telling that TikTok would rather spend its time, money and effort fighting in court than solving the problem by breaking up with the CCP. I’m confident that our legislation will be upheld.”

Legal experts say the legal battle will play out in the courts in coming months and likely will reach the Supreme Court.

3. Is OpenAI launching a search engine? Nope, just GPT-4o…

Last week, Reuters reported that OpenAI was planning to announce an AI-powered search product on Monday (today), which would compete with Google and Perplexity in the space. The announcement would've been timed a day before the Tuesday start of Google's annual I/O conference, where Google is expected to unveil new AI-related products.

Bloomberg also reported that OpenAI is developing a feature for ChatGPT that can search the web, provide answers and images, and cite sources in its results, and The Information has previously reported on OpenAI's search engine plans.

OpenAI confirmed that it's doing a livestream today to announce new features, but denied the report that it's announcing the launch of a search engine today.

On Friday, CEO Sam Altman posted on his X account, “not gpt-5, not a search engine, but we've been hard at work on some new stuff that people will love! feels like magic to me.”

An OpenAI rep also told Ars Technica that, “Despite reports, we’re not launching a search product or GPT-5 on Monday.”

But that doesn't mean that a search engine is not on the horizon. OpenAI has been actively working with Microsoft to create an AI-generated Bing Chat search engine, and earlier this week, The Verge reported that, “OpenAI has been aggressively trying to poach Google employees” for an upstart search team. The subdomain “search.chatgpt.com” is already being set up on OpenAI's servers, but it's currently inactive.

So what did OpenAI announce today?

The company unveiled its newest model, GPT-4o, which is an update to its previous GPT-4 model that launched just over a year ago. GPT-4o is designed to turn ChatGPT into a digital personal assistant that can engage in real-time, spoken conversations and interact with users using text, screenshots, photos, documents, and charts.

The new version of ChatGPT also has memory capabilities, which means it can learn from previous conversations. It will be available to both unpaid and premium customers alike.

OpenAI also announced that it would be launching a desktop app with the GPT-4o capabilities, giving users another platform to interact with the technology outside of a web browser.

4. Amazon finally launches in South Africa

Amazon launched in South Africa last week, marking its first marketplace in sub-Saharan Africa, and bringing its total number of marketplaces worldwide to 22. To launch the new marketplace, Amazon is offering:

  • Free delivery on first orders, followed by free delivery for subsequent orders above R500 (about $27) on Amazon fulfilled items.
  • Access to 3,000 pick-up points.
  • Status updates via WhatsApp so customers can track their orders' delivery.
  • 30 day refunds that include home pickup and self-drop.
  • Customer support via phone, email, and live chat.

Haven't I heard about this already?

Yes, in fact I first reported (story #6) on Amazon's South Africa plans in Sep 2022! The marketplace was supposed to launch in the country in 2023, but got delayed due to changes in priorities within Amazon.

Flash forward to May 2024 and Amazon is officially in South Africa, although it's starting slowly. Amazon.co.za launched with limited product options (only 20 categories) and no Prime membership, however, it already operates its FBA service for sellers in the country, having begun recruitment more than six months ago. 

Amazon has previously held a presence in South Africa, with the US version of Amazon.com being one of the most visited shopping websites in the country, so it's got the brand recognition. However it's also got competition:

  • Takealot.com is currently the number one e-commerce marketplace in the country with around $348M in GMV, followed by Superbalist.com with $198M.
  • Shein has a healthy presence in the country with $188M in GMV.
  • Through several acquisitions, Walmart is the owner of OneCart, a consumer goods retailer that serves South Africa, as well as Wumdrop, a last-mile delivery partner.
  • Temu launched in South Africa this past January.

In other international Amazon news… the company announced that it is launching a new dedicated marketplace in Ireland in 2025. So we can probably expect that around 2027. LOL.

5. Instacart launches restaurant delivery with Uber Eats

In an unlikely partnership, Instacart is partnering with Uber Eats to expand into the restaurant delivery business. Here's how the partnership will work: 

  • Instacart will add a new tab for restaurant delivery to its app in the coming weeks.
  • The restaurant listings will be provided by Uber.
  • The food will be picked up and delivered by Uber Eats drivers.
  • The only difference is that everything will take place within Instacart's app or website.
  • Customers will receive the same prices on both apps. 
  • Instacart+ members won't pay delivery fees on Uber Eats restaurant orders above $35.
  • Restaurants and drivers will be paid the same regardless of where the order takes place.
  • Uber will pay Instacart an affiliate fee for every order, but they didn't specify how much.

Uber says its motivation is to “drive more orders to Uber Eats restaurant partners,” while Instacart gets to add almost 1M restaurants to its app without having to do any legwork.

It's a strange partnership though given that Instacart and Uber Eats actively compete on grocery delivery — with Instacart owning 70% of that market, excluding Walmart and Amazon which are the biggest players in the overall grocery delivery business.

Are Instacart and Uber going to merge? That was pretty much everyone's first thought upon hearing the news of a partnership.

Uber has over 1M drivers in the US and Instacart boasts over 600k shoppers. Both companies were profitable in 2023. A merger would help them better compete against DoorDash which has over 2M dashers in the US.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Bloomberg that both companies will continue to grow their businesses independently, but that together they can pose an even greater “threat to DoorDash.” He also said that an acquisition or merger is “not on the cards right now.”

6. Apple apologizes about its iPad Pro advertisement

First, if you haven't already seen the infamous ad, watch it here on YouTube.

Here's what happened: Apple's advertisement for its latest iPad Pro sparked criticism for showing an animation of musical instruments, paint cans, cameras, record players, and other symbols of creativity being crushed by a giant machine, with the output being the new iPad Pro, which the company says is the thinnest Apple product ever.

In this context, “crushing” was supposed to symbolize “consolidating” and “compacting” — with the visuals meant to showcase how the new iPad Pro puts the power of all these tools into the hands of creators in one thin device.

However online commenters criticized the ad as insensitive and as symbolizing a “destruction of the human experience.”

The analogy of crushing creative instruments may have also struck a nerve with creators at a time when AI threatens their livelihoods.

The ad hit the web on Tuesday, and by Thursday, Apple issued a mea culpa and apologized for the campaign.

Apple marketing VP Tor Myhren said in a statement to Ad Age, “Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world. Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.”

I think that the idea of visually showcasing that the new iPad Pro jam-packs countless instruments and artistic tools into one digital device makes sense. Where Apple went wrong was demonstrating this concept through crushing (ie: destroying) those tools. The same concept would have been better received by Apple “shrinking” or “digitizing” those items into the new iPad Pro. 

The ad was a rare miss with die-hard enthusiasts who typically love Apple's campaigns. All eyes will be on the company's next ad campaign, which will most likely pander hard to the creative communities it struck a nerve with, as now Apple ads will be under extreme scrutiny for the foreseeable future. 

What are your thoughts about the Apple Crush ad? Tone deaf or are people being too sensitive? Hit reply and let me know. 

7. Google Shopping ads get social proof

Google is encouraging merchants to enable conversion annotations on their Google Shopping ads, which offer social proof that highlight a product's popularity.

Conversion annotations like “best selling” or “3K shopped here recently” would provide visual cues about a product’s popularity or sales performance directly in the ad unit.

Annotations like these are par for the course with e-commerce retailers including Amazon, Walmart, and Temu, which all employ similar tactics. They can provide valuable info for shoppers and also help with conversions. 

However they also open data privacy concerns, given that Google is not the actual retailer or marketplace selling the items, so a merchant would have to share this purchase history data from their e-commerce platform with Google — which technically most already do by giving access to GA4.

On one hand — annotations can offer a conversion boost to retailers and brands that offer popular items for sale. 

On the other hand — it creates a larger divide between bigger and smaller retailers, the latter of which haven't obtained the sales figures or store traffic that would impress a shopper when appearing next to a product from a bigger store. 

For now, merchants can opt-out of the feature, however, opting-out only means that Google won't' display the conversion numbers. Google says it will still use your data to power various annotations and features that they claim benefit your performance.

8. Shein wants to join the National Retail Federation

Shein is attempting to join the National Retail Federation as it pursues regulatory approval to go public in the US. The company believes that NRF membership would boost its chances of receiving SEC approval. However so far, Shein has been rejected numerous times.

NRF calls itself the “world's largest retail trade association” and is famous for its industry research reports and annual Big Show conference held in New York City every January. It also actively lobbies Congress, which may be why Shein would like to get in with the organization.

Why is NRF rejecting Shein? At this point, no-one knows for sure.

An NRF spokesperson said that the organization “does not comment on our membership process or on individual retailers” and that it “disagrees with many of the characterizations” in CNBC's report, but declined to elaborate further. 

An anonymous source familiar with the matter said someone with heavy influence at the NRF is strongly against the Shein's admittance. NRF's leadership team is comprised of industry professionals from Walmart, BJ's Wholesale Club, Qurate Retail which owns QVC, Target, and Macy's.

However board members who spoke to CNBC said that Shein's membership application hadn't come up in meetings, and that they aren't involved in deciding which companies are granted access. 

Most retailers looking to become a member of the NRF are typically granted access, as long as they're involved in retail and pay the required dues. There haven't been any other known retailers of Shein's size (or close to it) that have been rejected from the organization.

Meanwhile Shein has been welcomed at other conferences around the world including the OMR Festival in Hamburg, the Global E-commerce Leaders Forum in Los Angeles, the World Retail Congress in Paris, the World Economic Forum's Annual Meetings in Davos, and Shoptalk in Las Vegas.

While the NRF could lean on ethical concerns surrounding Shein, such as its alleged use of forced labor or its abuse of the de minimis provision, that stance might open a can of worms they don't want to open, as they'd have to start applying the criteria equally to all of its members.

For now, the e-commerce world will wait in anticipation for NRF's final decision on whether to admit or reject Shein into its organization. 

9. Other e-commerce news of interest

Amazon is leading the way with selling home goods, capturing 18.8% of consumer home furnishings spending, compared to Walmart's 7.3% market share. Notably, Amazon’s gains in the furniture category come in spite of the company’s decision to phase out two of its three furniture brands last year.


Stanley, which is projected to do $750M in sales this year, up from $73M in 2019, after seeing its water bottles become a status symbol thanks to TikTok, is now expanding into trendier accessories. The company is launching a line of bags called the All-Day Collection which include a mini cooler, backpack cooler, and Quencher Carry-All, designed for someone to sling their Stanley over their hip.


Jack Dorsey left the Bluesky board and deleted his account on the service he helped kickstart, claiming that Bluesky was “literally repeating all the mistakes” he made while running Twitter. Dorsey says he never intended Bluesky to be an independent company, but rather, an open source protocol that Twitter was supposed to be the first client of. He also confirmed that he is financially backing Nostr, another decentralized Twitter-like service popular among crypto enthusiasts and run by an anonymous founder.  


Amazon is deploying 50 electric trucks in California, which it claims is the largest EV fleet in the country, as part of its mission to eliminate pollution from its global operations. The trucks will be integrated into first-mile operations, moving goods from container ships at the ports to fulfillment centers, as well as middle-mile operations, transporting packages from fulfillment centers to delivery centers.


Wix launched a new tool called AI Portfolio Creator, which allows a user to upload and organize large-scale image collections, select the type of portfolio they want, and then have the AI tool sort and generate a portfolio with clustered images, recommended titles and descriptions, and personalized layout options.


Amazon is now requiring all dietary supplements to be verified by a third-party testing, inspection, and certification organization — which is something that not even the FDA requires. Amazon is the largest supplement retailer in the US ahead of Walmart and Target, and its new requirements are expected to put more pressure on the industry, which is being scrutinized more than ever.


Alibaba is revamping its flagship retail website Taobao for the first time in seven years with a focus on providing a smoother search and buying process. The website overhaul comes ahead of the 618 sales event, China's second-largest annual shopping event. A few weeks ago I reported that Eddie Wu, the CEO of Alibaba Group, would now be directly overseeing its domestic e-commerce arm which includes Taobao and Tmall Group, and it sounds like he's hitting the ground running with his new responsibilities. 


Amazon is hosting its first-ever Amazon Book Sale, a new shopping event starting on May 15th that offers up to 50% off print best sellers and up to 80% off Kindle Books. The six day shopping event will exclusively run in the US, and Prime-membership is not required to take advantage of the deals. 


FTX reported that nearly all of its customers will receive the money back that they are owed, two years after the cryptocurrency exchange imploded. The company owes about $11.2B to its customers and estimates that it has between $14.5B and $16.3B to distribute to them. The caveat is that customers will receive the USD value of their holdings at the time of the exchange collapse, and not the actual crypto holdings themselves, which means that they'll miss out on all gains during the past two years during which BTC went from around $16k to now over $60k. Better than nothing though, that's for sure. 


800,000 consumers in Europe and the US were duped into sharing card details and other sensitive personal data with a network of fake online designer shops operated from China, which comprised one of the largest scams of its kind with 76,000 fake websites created. The scammers used expired domains to host its fake shops in order to help avoid detection by websites or brand owners, and more than 1M orders were processed in the past three years alone.


Beyond Inc, which owns Bed Bath & Beyond, Overstock, and Zulily, reported that its Q1 net loss swelled to $72M from $10M a year ago, while its operating loss widened to $58M from $8M. The company's active customers grew to 6M, up 26% from nearly 5M a year ago, however, its average order value dropped to $173 from $220 a year earlier. 


TikTok will begin automatically labeling AI generated content when it is uploaded from certain platforms like DALL.E 3, Adobe Firefly, Photoshop, and Microsoft Copilot. TikTok will also start attaching Content Credentials to content, which will remain on the media when downloaded, allowing other platforms to read the metadata.


eBay is testing an Add To Cart button in search results that opens a Quick View window, allowing buyers to skip the listing page. Technically the button should probably not be labeled “Add To Cart” since it doesn't perform that action, but rather, displays a quick view window with three buttons: Buy It Now, Add To Cart, View All Details. Sellers are worried that buyers will miss crucial details in the product description that may lead to increased returns and negative feedback. 


Amazon is planning to launch its fleet of drones in Tolleson, Arizona, but the city's extreme temperature is hampering its efforts. Drones can't operate in temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that Tolleson crosses for a full three months of the year.


A US district judge dismissed X's lawsuit against Bright Data, a data-scraping company accused of improperly accessing X system and violating X terms and state laws when scraping and selling data. The judge basically said that if X owned the data, it could perhaps argue that it has exclusive rights to control it, but then X wouldn't be able to enjoy the safe harbor of Section 230, which allows the platform to avoid liability for third-party content. Can't have it both ways!


Nintendo is discontinuing its X integration for the switch on June 10th, which means users will no longer be able to post screenshots or videos to the platform from their device. The drop in support also affects games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which had game-specific options to send out tweets. Microsoft Xbox dropped support for X in April 2023 and Sony Playstation dropped the service in October 2023 due to the increase in X's API access fees.


Amazon claimed that its recordable incident rate — a metric that comprises all injuries requiring “more than basic first-aid treatment” — at its US warehouses has improved by 24% since 2019. However the National Employment Law Project challenged Amazon's injury data in a report last week, claiming that Amazon's overall injury rate in 2023 was 71% higher than that of other employers in the sector at 6.5 cases per 100 workers.


Amazon Ads announced three new advertising formats for streaming TV including shoppable carousel ads, interactive pause ads, and interactive trivia ads. Amazon did not say when the new ad types would officially launch, but noted that it will formally present them at a presentation on May 14th.


Meta is rolling out an expanded set of generative AI ad tools that can create full image variations with text overlays, expand images to fit across different aspect ratios, and generate alternate versions of headlines and other ad text. The features will become available globally to advertisers by the end of the year. 


Square introduced a tool called Square Kiosk to allow self-service ordering at fast food restaurants. The device is a combined software, hardware, and payment solution that allows customers to select exactly what they want with customization options, upgrades, and add-ons.


The European Parliament announced new measures to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste in the EU, including reduction targets of 15% by 2040 — which sounds far away but is only 16 years away?! As part of the new rules, the EU will set maximum empty space ratios for e-commerce transportation, ban certain single-use plastic packaging types, and beverage distributors and take-away food will have to offer consumers the option of bringing their own container. 


Indians who pre-ordered Teslas in 2016 are giving up and seeking refunds of their deposits after Elon Musk canceled another visit to the country last month. Disillusioned Tesla enthusiasts in India say they will now buy a car from the company only if they see it in a showroom, or they'll buy a different electrical vehicle from a company that actually exists in the country.


Target is limiting its Pride Month collection to select stores this year instead of rolling out the merchandise nationwide like it typically has for the past decade, due to backlash the retailer experienced last year. Last May customers in certain stores knocked down LGBTQ+ merchandise displays, angrily approached store employees, and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.


E-commerce spending from Jan 1 to April 30, 2024 rose 7% YoY to $331.6B, according to Adobe Analytics. One trend Adobe identified during the period is a shift of online spending to purchasing the cheapest goods across personal care, electronics, apparel, home & garden, furniture, and grocery.

10. Seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions

Shopify acquired Peel, a tool that integrates with a merchant's tech stack including Klaviyo and Recharge and helps them analyze their sales data to improve customer retention, for an undisclosed amount. Peel was founded in 2019 and raised $5.3M in 2021. The Peel app is still available on the Shopify App Store and the company did not specify whether the app would continue on or be integrated with Shopify.


Bolt, an Estonian startup that offers a ride-hailing service, food delivery, car rental, and e-scooter and e-bike sharing, secured a €220M credit facility, as the company prepares for an IPO. Bolt launched in 2013 with only a few dozen drivers and now the company boasts over 3M drivers and 150M customers across 45 countries. The company is now worth upwards of €7B.


SingPost, a Singapore-based logistics company, acquired Trade Global, a US-based end-to-end e-commerce firm, as well as Jagged Peak, a US-based logistics provider. The deals will allow SingPost's clients in Asia to expand their e-commerce businesses to the US. 


Line Man Wongnai, a Thailand-based on-demand food delivery service, is considering an IPO on either a Thai or US exchange in 2015, the company's CEO told TechCrunch. The company has raised more than $372M since launch and is valued at more than $1B. 


Tjufoo, an Indonesia-based brand aggregator, is merging with Sinbad, a B2B e-commerce firm, with the deal set to be finalized by June. Both companies will retain their respective brands and operate under a new parent company called Horizon Group.


Brilliant, the maker of smart home controllers and smart light switches, is out of money after failing to raise capital in its Series C round. The company laid off the majority of its staff, shut down it support center, and is no longer selling its products. CEO Aaron Emigh said that the company will be sold and that it has a number of interested parties. 


Block announced plans to issue $1.5B in senior notes through a private placement to qualified institutional investors. The company said in a statement that terms of the notes, including interest rates and maturity dates, are subject to negotiation. It plans to use the raised funds for repayment of existing debt, potential investments and acquisitions, and working capital. 

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PAUL

Paul E. Drecksler
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