The price differential for engineers is declining

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

The whole crew was here this week, with Danny and Natasha and Alex  together with Grace and Chris to sort through a very, very busy week. Yep, somehow it is Friday again which means it’s time for our weekly news roundup.

Here’s what we got to in our short window of time:

Like we said, a busy week! Chat you all on Monday morning, early.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#affirm, #ai, #apple, #artificial-intelligence, #beyond-meat, #bnpl, #china, #chorus-ai, #commodity-capital, #discord, #early-stage-startup, #edtech, #emerging-fund-manager, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fintech, #gourmey, #india, #ipo, #jianzhi-education, #klarna, #next-gen-foods, #nooks, #public-market, #reddit, #sentropy, #tc, #venture-capital, #virtual-hq, #zomato, #zoominfo

As buy-now-pay-later startups keep raising capital, a dive into Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm’s earnings

Venture capitalists continue to fund buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) startups, evidence of ongoing optimism regarding not only e-commerce, but the specific model for financing consumer purchases as well.

Evidence of continued investor confidence in the BNPL space cropped up several times in the second quarter. Divido, a startup that TechCrunch described as a “white-label [BNPL] platform for retail finance that integrates with e-commerce platforms,” raised $30 million. And Zilch raised $80 million for an “over-the-top” BNPL solution.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

Read it every morning on Extra Crunch or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Zilch is now worth $800 million.

There are other examples, but those will suffice to get us into the correct mindset for today’s work as we look back at data points regarding the financial performance of more mature BNPL tech companies. So, as in February when we were looking at Q4 2020 numbers, today we’re looking into the more recent performance of Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay.

Growth versus profitability

As startups scale, they focus a bit more on profitability. Super-early-stage startups aren’t often too worried about net margins, for example, as their revenues can be nascent and their costs rising as they staff up for a product launch or another similar event.

But as those same startups mature into unicorn territory, questions about their model’s profitability on a unit basis, operating cash burn and aggregate profitability will start to pop up. The Rule of 40 is a startup rubric for a reason.

And in the cases of Affirm and Afterpay, we’re in fact examining public companies. So we can safely care even more about their profitability than we might if they, like Klarna, were still waiting for an IPO.

For each, then, we’ll consider growth and profitability. Let’s start with Klarna:

Klarna’s latest data, dealing with Q1 2021, breaks down as follows:

The SPAC trash ticker is counting down

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week had the whole crew aboard to record: Grace and Chris making us sound good, Danny to provide levity, Natasha to actually recall facts, and Alex to divert us from staying on topic. It’s teamwork, people – and our transitions are proof of it.

And it’s good that we had everyone around the virtual table as there was quite a lot to get through:

  • Team felt all kinds of ways about the Amazon-MGM deal. Some of us are more positive about than the rest, but what gists out from the transaction is that for Amazon, the purchase price is modest and the company is famously playing a supposedly long-game. Let’s see how James Bond fits into it. Alex receives four points for not bringing up F1 thanks to the Bond-Aston Martin connection.
  • Turning to the SPAC game, we chatted through the recent Lordstown Motors earnings results, and what we can parse from them regarding blank-check companies, promises, and reality.
  • After launching last June with just $2 million, Collab Capital has closed its debut fund at its target goal: $50 million. The Black-led firm invests exclusively in Black-led startups, and got checks from Apple, PayPal, and Mailchimp to name a few. We talk about this feat, and note a few other Black-led venture capital firms making waves in the industry lately.
  • We Resolved our transition puns and eventually spoke about the Affirm spin-out, which raised $60 million in a funding round for BNPL for businesses. There’s bigger questions there around the accessibility and point of BNPL, and if its really re-inventing the wheel or just repackaging it with simpler UX.
  • Next up, we got into a can of worms about the future of meetings thanks to Rewatch, which raised a $20 million Series A this week led by Andreessen Horowitz. The startup helps other startups create internal, private Youtubes to archive their meetings and any video-based comms. We could only spend a second on this, so if you want our longer thoughts in the form of text, check out our 3 views on the topic on Extra Crunch! (Discount Code: Equity)
  • From there we had Interactio and Fireflies.ai, two more startups that are tackling the complexities of meetings in the COVID-19 era, and whatever comes next. Both recently raised new funding, and Alex brought up Kudo to add one more upstart to the mix.
  • Noom, a weight loss platform, bulked up with $540 million in funding after nearly doubling its revenue from 2019 to 2020. The pandemic has made many people gain weight, but we chew into why Noom’s moment might be right now after a decade in the works.

Thanks for hanging out this week, Equity is back on Tuesday with our usual weekly kickoff, thanks to the American holiday on Monday. Chat then, unless you want to follow us on Twitter and get a first-look at all of Chris’ meme work. 

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#a16z, #affirm, #amazon, #bnpl, #collab-capital, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fireflies-ai, #fundings-exits, #interactio, #kudo, #lordstown-motors, #mgm, #noom, #resolve, #rewatch, #spac, #startups, #zoom

Affirm spinout Resolve raises $60M for its B2B ‘buy now, pay later’ platform

Buy now, pay later is everywhere these days, mostly focused on the consumer.

Resolve — a San Francisco-based startup in the space specializing in “buy now, pay later” capabilities for B2B transactions — announced today that it has raised $60 million in funding. Initialized Capital led the round — the company’s first funding since its 2019 inception. KSD Capital, Haystack VC, Commerce Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and others also participated.

The funding is a combination of equity and asset funding according to co-founder and CEO Chris Tsai, although he declined to reveal the breakdown.

Since launching as a spinout from Affirm in 2019, Resolve says it has seen “overwhelming” demand for its B2B buy now, pay later (BNPL) billing offering for business purchases. Notably, the two companies refer business to each other. Tsai describes Affirm founder Max Levchin as a “friend” with whom he has been working in a variety of capacities since 2012. (He’s also reportedly an investor in the company.)

Unlike Affirm — which is more focused on the consumer — Resolve is exclusively focused on business-to-business billing by automating the process of billing and purchasing on credit. What it’s doing is basically allowing businesses to defer payments digitally and on better terms than what they’ve seen historically via an automated underwriting process, the company claims. This, it says, can lead to faster invoice payment and thus, improved cash flow. 

The company also claims it can offer extended payment terms with buyers not having to pay any interest or fees if accounts are repaid within the agreed-upon terms. Meanwhile, merchants receive full payment (minus any fees) as soon as an order is placed. 

Resolve offers businesses loan terms ranging from 30 to 90 days and gives them more control of their billing and cash flow, according to Tsai. While he declined to give specifics around any growth metrics, he said the company has seen a “significant and meaningful” uptick in growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic because of so many businesses’ shift to digital e-commerce. For example, one of its customers is a bike merchant that had to expand into online selling in the wake of the pandemic.

“This is not a new transaction type, but being able to do it in this new digital or e-commerce way of buy now, pay later, like Affirm — that’s very new and in fact it’s still very much not the norm yet,” he told TechCrunch. “But we’re finding, especially post-pandemic, incredible demand for switching to more digital e-commerce payment formats.”

Image Credits: Resolve

Among Resolve’s features is a “Smart Credit Engine,” which the company says creates a direct sync with a merchant’s real-time data feed of past payment histories to allow for “immediate” credit line decisioning with no input required from buyers.

Its embedded bill payment portal gives its B2B customers a way to pay vendor bills “while building their business credit history” bureaus, the company says.

“Digital and e-commerce transformation is coming for B2B payments,” Tsai said. “Growing companies must balance heightened demand for deferring payments from their business customers with their own limited capacities to satisfy that demand.”

The embedded nature of Resolve’s platform gives it an edge, Tsai believes, in that it integrates into a company’s existing financial tech stack. The benefit to the business, he said, is increased growth and sales revenue as well as optimized cash flow “while removing risk for the company.”

Initialized Capital General Partner Alda Leu Dennis said she was familiar with Tsai and co-founder Brian Nguyen since their days at Celery, their prior startup. She views them as experienced and determined.

We also have conviction around the clear market need for digitizing net terms for small businesses that are increasingly moving their ordering online,” she said.

In her view, Resolve’s unique differentiation is that it provides software that solves net terms billing complexity. 

“Businesses desperately need to manage their B2B billing operations, from helping them gauge the strength of their customers to chasing down payments,” she told TechCrunch. “Their [Resolve’s] approach of accelerating payments and collections via software and offering payment terms as an ancillary service is a powerful pairing; it provides an easy yet comprehensive way for merchants to improve their entire system of managing receivables and billing on credit.”

The San Francisco startup is using the money primarily to grow its embedded billing platform.

“We’re doing a lot of work to scale the platform. So we’re investing heavily in products and the customer sides of the business, given all the demand that we’ve seen,” Tsai said. “The operations software that we’ve built is very seamless for our customers, but there’s a lot going on in the background that we have to do to reduce the complexity for our customers.”

#affirm, #alda-leu-dennis, #articles, #clocktower-ventures, #commerce-ventures, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #economy, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #haystack-vc, #initialized-capital, #marketing, #max-levchin, #online-selling, #online-shopping, #payments, #recent-funding, #resolve, #san-francisco, #startup, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Let’s talk about gaslighting and fundraising

“Most of the startups I give advice to about how to raise venture capital shouldn’t be raising venture capital,” an investor recently told me. While the idea that every startup isn’t venture-backable might run counter to the narrative to the barrage of funding news each week, I think it’s important to double click on the topic. Plus, it keeps coming up, off the record, on phone calls with investors!

As venture grows as an asset class, the access to capital has broadened from a dollar perspective, but I do think the difficulties that remain is an important dynamic to call out (and something no one talks about during an upmarket). Beyond the fact that only a small subset of startups truly can pull off scaling to the point of venture-level returns, it is still hard for even qualified founders to raise venture capital. Venture capital is still a heavily white, male-led industry, and as a result contains bias that disproportionately limits access for underrepresented founders.

Eniac founding partner Hadley Harris applied this dynamic to the current market boom in a recent tweet: A lot of people are misunderstanding this VC funding market. More money is flowing into the market but the increase is not evenly distributed. The market believes winners can be much bigger but not necessary that there will be more winners. It’s still very hard for most to raise a VC.

To say otherwise is to gaslight the early-stage or first-time founders that have spent months and months trying to raise their first institutional dollars and failed. So ask yourself: Seed rounds have indeed grown bigger, but for who? What comes at the cost of the $30 million seed round? Are the founders that can raise overnight from diverse backgrounds? Are investors backing first-time founders as much as they are backing second- or third-time entrepreneurs?

The answers might leave you debating about the boundaries, and limitations, of the upcoming hot-deal summer.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the disconnect between due diligence and fundraising right now. Now we’ve moved onto the disconnect, and bifurcation, within first-check fundraising itself. There is so much more we can get into about the fallacy of “democratization” in venture capital, from who gets to start a rolling fund to the lack of assurance within equity crowdfunding campaigns.

We’ll get through it all together, and in the meantime make sure to follow me on Twitter @nmasc_ for more hot takes throughout the week.

In the rest of this newsletter, we will talk about fintech politics, the Affirm model with a twist, and sneakers-as-a-service.

Ex-Coinbase talks politics

The inimitable Mary Ann Azevedo has been dominating the fintech beat for us, covering everything from the latest Uruguayan unicorn to Acorn’s scoop of a debt management startup. But the story I want to focus on this week is her interview with ex-Coinbase counsel & former Treasury official, Brian Brooks.

Here’s what to know: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong notoriously released a memo last year denouncing political activism at work, calling it a distraction. In this exclusive interview, Brooks spoke about how blockchain is the answer to financial inclusion, and argued why politics needs to be taken out of tech.

We don’t want bank CEOs making those decisions for us as a society, in terms of who they choose to lend money to, or not. We need to take the politics out of tech. All of us do a lot of different things, and we have no idea on a given day, whether what we’re doing is popular with our neighbors or popular with our bank president or not. I don’t want the fact that I sometimes feel Republican to be a reason why my local bank president can deny me a mortgage.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

The Affirm for X model

While Affirm may have popularized the “buy now, pay later” model, the consumer-friendly business strategy still has room to be niched down into specific subsectors. I ran into one such startup when covering Plaid’s inaugural cohort of startups in its accelerator program.

Here’s what to know: Walnut is a new seed-stage startup that is a point-of-sale loan company with a healthcare twist. Unlike Affirm, it doesn’t make money off of fees charged to consumers.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Everything you could ever want to know about StockX

In our latest EC-1, reporter Rae Witte has covered a startup that leads one of the most complex and culturally relevant marketplaces in the world: sneakers.

Here’s what to know: StockX, in her words, has built a stock market of hype, and her series goes into its origin story, authentication processes and a market map.

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Around TechCrunch

Found, a new podcast joining the TechCrunch network, has officially launched! The Equity team got a behind-the-scenes look at what triggered the new podcast, the first guests and goals of the show. Make sure to tune into the first episode.

Also, if you run into any paywalls while browsing today’s newsletter, make sure to use discount code STARTUPSWEEKLY to get 25% off an annual or two-year Extra Crunch subscription.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

Okta launches a new free developer plan

New Jersey announces $10M seed fund aimed at Black and Latinx founders

Education nonprofit Edraak ignored a student data leak for two months

6 VCs talk the future of Austin’s exploding startup ecosystem

Dear Sophie: Help! My H-1B wasn’t chosen!

Seen on Extra Crunch

5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand

How we dodged risks and raised millions for our open-source machine language startup

Giving EV batteries a second life for sustainability and profit

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for making it this far, and now I dare you to go make the most out of the rest of your day. And by make the most, I mean listen to Taylor’s Version.

Warmly,

N

#affirm, #coinbase, #early-stage, #equity, #fintech, #founder-advice, #fundraising, #healthcare, #marketplace, #startups, #startups-weekly, #stockx, #tc, #venture-capital, #walnut

Walnut wants to crack open flexibility for healthcare bills

Healthcare insurance, if you’re lucky to have it, only covers a subset of conditions in the United States. As a result, patients can often get burdened with horror story charges, like huge deductibles, out-of-network costs and expensive co-pays. So for the uninsured and insured alike, innovative ways of managing big bills are in high demand — especially as uncertainty remains around how COVID-19 and long-haul symptoms will be handled by patients and payers.

Walnut, founded by Roshan Patel, is a point-of-sale lending company with a healthcare twist. Walnut uses a “buy now, pay later” model, popularized by Affirm and Klarna, to help patients pay for healthcare over a period of time, instead of in one $3,000 chunk. Walnut works with healthcare providers so that a patient’s bill can be paid back through $100-a-month increments for 30 months, instead of one aggressive credit card swipe.

A patient using Walnut to pay healthcare bills. Image Credits: Walnut

It’s a sweet deal, but Patel added one more detail that he thinks makes Walnut stand out: The startup doesn’t charge any interest or fees to consumers.

“Almost every ‘buy now, pay later’ company in e-commerce charges interest or fees, and every personal loan provider charges interest or fees, but we do not,” he said. “And that’s really important to me, not making healthcare any more expensive than it already is. It’s a very patient-friendly product.”

Companies that use the buy now, pay later model with zero interest or fees need to make revenue somehow, and in Walnut’s case it is by charging healthcare providers a percentage of each sale or transaction.

If a provider’s collection rate for an out-of-pocket is 50%, Walnut would go to them and say “give us a 40% discount, and we’ll guarantee the cash for you upfront.” The startup will take the risk, and then the provider is able to make 60% of the collection rate.

Now, ideally, a provider would want to get 100% of payments they are owed, but that is wishful thinking. Patel explained that a large number of bills go unpaid due to bankruptcies or a default on payments (the average collections rate for hospitals out of pocket is less than 20%). Because of this, a company like Walnut has room to offer at least some stable upfront cash to hospitals, even if it ends up being 60% of overall bills versus 100%.

The company uses “extensive underwriting models” to figure out if a patient should qualify for a loan. Patel says that the startup goes beyond using credit score, which he describes as an “outdated metric”, and instead looks at thousands of data points from different providers, from side hustle income to spending habits on things like groceries and bills.

Walnut’s biggest challenge, says Patel, is to underwrite the population and pay the healthcare provider upfront in cash. It then collects from the patient on the back end, which comes with its own amount of risk.

“To be able to take on that risk for patients that are less credit-worthy is a very challenging problem, and I don’t think it’s really solved yet in healthcare,” he said.

The startup is starting by working with small private practices of one to five physicians that focus on specialties like dentistry, dermatology and fertility.

A big part of Walnut’s success will be determined by if it can attract people that truly need flexible financing options. For example, the company doesn’t have any hospitals as a partner yet, which would tap a larger group of patients that likely need flexible financing options the most. Right now, “the people who get elective-care surgery are the ones that can afford it.”

But Patel doesn’t see this as a disconnect; instead, he sees it as an opportunity to widen access to elective medical care to more people.

“I talked to a person last week who has no teeth and wants dentures but it costs $6,000,” he said. “That person should be able to afford it, and we enabled them to pay $100 a month for it.”

Walnut’s two biggest customer groups are the uninsured (people who have lost their jobs from COVID-19), and consumers who have high deductible plans.

Walnut isn’t the first. PrimaHealth Credit, Walnut’s closest competitor, offers point-of-sale lending procedures for elective medical procedures. Think surgeries like cataract work or dental work. The company said the service is currently available in Arizona, California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas, and will be expanded to all 50 states this year. Walnut, comparatively, is mostly focused on the East Coast and plans to expand nationwide by the end of this year.

PrimaHealth’s average loan size is $1,800, and Walnut’s average loan size is $5,000.

The company is currently piloting with a handful of healthcare providers in dermatology, dentistry and fertility. It has had more than 500 patient loan applications, totaling over $4.6 million in application volume year-to-date. Patel says that Walnut only accepted a fraction of these applications, but declined to share what percent of money it has lent so far. As Walnut refines its model, it might be able to cover other categories.

Up until this point, Walnut has been lending off of its own balance sheet. In order to truly scale, it will need to get a new source of capital — either a credit line, debt financing round or venture capital — to offer more loans. Patel says that the startup is in talks with banks, and turned down a debt offer due to size and rate.

Venture capital seems to be the solution for now: The startup announced that it has raised a $3.6 million seed round from investors including Gradient Ventures, Afore Capital, 2048 Ventures, Supernode Ventures, TA Ventures, Polymath Capital, Tack Ventures, Awesome People Ventures, Newark Ventures and NKM Capital. Angels include the CEOs of Giphy and PillPack, and the CTO of Rampm Financial as well as an NFL coach. The company is also a part of Plaid’s inaugural accelerator.

“I don’t want to be yet another startup trying to offer you an undifferentiated insurance plan,” Patel said.

#affirm, #early-stage-startups, #fintech, #health, #health-tech, #healthcare, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #walnut

Wisetack raises $19M as its buy-now-pay-later service for IRL services scales

This morning Wisetack, a startup that provides buy-now-pay-later services to in-person business transactions, announced that is has closed a total of $19 million across two rounds, a seed investment and a Series A.

Greylock led both rounds, with the seed round clocking in at $4 million and the Series A at $15 million. Bain Capital Ventures also took part in the company’s fundraising.

Notably both rounds were closed in 2019, making these amongst the more aged rounds that we’ve heard of in recent quarters. However, as much venture reporting was delayed last year due to the pandemic and political unsettlement, I am still willing to cover the occasional antique deal.

Wisetack caught our eye not only due to its fundraising activity, but also thanks the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) space becoming all the more interesting in the wake of Affirm’s direct listing. Affirm is perhaps the best-known service of its type, making its liquidity moment — and post-IPO performance — impactful for its broader business category.

But while Affirm wants to offer point-of-sale BNPL services to online merchants, Wisetack is taking a different approach. It focuses on the in-person business world, helping finance consumer transactions involving things like home improvement and car repair; the sort of big transactions that your average family might not have the cash to cover but also doesn’t want to put on a credit card.

Wisetack partners with vertical SaaS players in different areas. Say, plumbing. This allows users of those vertical SaaS applications — the plumbers, sticking to the same example — to offer Wisetack’s BNPL service to their customers.

It’s well known that vertical SaaS has wide application. A favorite recent example is SingleOps, which provides software for the so-called “green industry,” the world of lawns and landscaping. There’s SaaS for all sorts of IRL work, which could mean that Wisetack has a good number of software providers to sell into.

The model appears to be working, at least thus far. Wisetack shared with TechCrunch that its loan volume rose 20x between January of 2020 and January of 2021. As the company generates revenues from merchants (loan processing costs), and consumer interest, it’s likely that its revenue scales with loan volume. If the relationship is even closer to direct, Wisetack grew quite a lot last year.

The startup also said that the number of businesses using Wisetack grew 25-fold last year to a number in the “thousands.”

Wisetack fits neatly into a number of recent trends. The first is its work with vertical SaaS, a notable slice of the software market. The second is that Wisetack is another example of an API-led business, offering its service as a tech-powered add-on to other bits of code. And, third, that Wisetack had the same lead investor twice in sequential rounds. This sort of doubling-down from the venture community has become common in recent quarters as the signaling risk of having the lead twice in a row has been zeroed out by general investor enthusiasm for more equity in what appear to be winning startups.

Finally, the Wisetack round is interesting as it is nearly a sort of vertical BNPL, or at least a vertically focused BNPL. The company was reticent to share notes on how it comes to credit decisions, but we presume that all BNPL players that do focus on a particular niche or segment.

#affirm, #bnpl, #fundings-exits, #greylock, #startups, #tc

Fintechs could see $100 billion of liquidity in 2021

Three years ago, we released the first edition of the Matrix Fintech Index. We believed then, as we do now, that fintech represents one of the most exciting major innovation cycles of this decade. In 2020, all the long-term trends forcing change in this sector continued and even accelerated.

The broad movement away from credit toward debit, particularly among younger consumers, represents one such macro shift. However, the pandemic also created new, unforeseen drivers. Among them, millennials decamped from their rentals in crowded cities to accelerate their first home purchase, to the benefit of proptech companies and challenger mortgage players alike.

E-commerce saw an enormous acceleration in growth rates, furthering adoption of online payments platforms. Lastly, low interest rates and looming inflation helped pave the way for the price of Bitcoin to charge toward $30,000. In short, multiple tailwinds combined to produce a blockbuster year for the category.

In this year’s refresh of the Matrix Fintech Index, we’ll divide our attention into three parts. First, a look at the public stocks’ performance. Second, liquidity. Third, we highlight one major trend in the sector: Buy Now Pay Later, or BNPL.

Public fintech stocks rose 97% in 2020

For the fourth straight year, the publicly traded fintechs massively outperformed the incumbent financial services providers as well as every mainstream stock index. While the underlying performance of these companies was strong, the pandemic further bolstered results as consumers avoided appearing in-person for both shopping and banking. Instead, they sought — and found — digital alternatives.

For the fourth straight year, the publicly traded fintechs massively outperformed the incumbent financial services providers as well as every mainstream stock index.

Our own representation of the public fintechs’ performance is the Matrix Fintech Index — a market cap-weighted index that tracks the progress of a portfolio of 25 leading public fintech companies. The Matrix fintech Index rose 97% in 2020, compared to a 14% rise in the S&P 500 and a 10% drop for the incumbent financial service companies over the same time period.

 

2020 performance of individual fintech companies vs. SPX

2020 performance of individual fintech companies versus S&P 500. Image Credits: PitchBook

 

Fintech incumbents and new entrants vs. the S&P 500

Fintech incumbents and new entrants versus the S&P 500. Image Credits: PitchBook

E-commerce undoubtedly stood out as a major driver. As a category, retail e-commerce grew 35% YoY as of Q3, propelling PayPal and Shopify to add over $160 billion of market capitalization over the year. For its part, PayPal in the third quarter signed up 15 million net new active accounts (its highest ever).

#affirm, #afterpay, #column, #covid-19, #ec-column, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #ecommerce, #finance, #fintech, #klarna, #payments, #paypal, #plaid, #startups, #venture-capital

Hot IPOs hang onto gains as investors keep betting on tech

This morning, while checking the latest price for shares of recent IPO Poshmark, I noticed that they were down from their first-day results. The company’s pricing was more than strong, and its first trading results were nearly comical.

After setting a $35 to $39 per-share IPO price range, Poshmark sold shares in its IPO at $42 apiece. Then it opened at $97.50. Such was the exuberance of the stock market regarding the the used goods marketplace’s debut.

But today it’s worth a more modest $76.30 — for this piece we’re using all Yahoo Finance data, and all current prices are those from yesterday’s close ahead of the start of today’s trading — which sparked a question: How many recent tech IPOs are also down from their opening price?


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


So The Exchange, ever at your service, raced around to collect the data. And what did we find? Most hot tech IPOs have held onto their gains, and many have actually run up the score in the ensuing weeks.

Lemonade is a great example. It first targeted a $23 to $26 per-share IPO price. That rose to $26 to $28 per share, then it priced at $29 per share. It opened at $50.06 per share, closing the day worth $69.41. 

And today? A single Lemonade share will set you back $145.21. The company is now worth $8.22 billion, despite only posting Q3 revenues of $17.8 million, a decline from the year-ago period (for more on why that is, and why it isn’t as bad as you might initially think, read this.)

Analysts anticipate that Lemonade will post revenues of $18.91 million in Q4 2020, again via Yahoo Finance, putting the company on an annualized run rate of 109x. For a business running with net margins of -173.6% in its most recent quarter. And that’s after Lemonade announced a large share sale!

All this is to say that the fiery optimism fueling dazzling IPO debuts has the potential to keep pushing them higher. Which you can view as troubling, if you are a boring index funder like myself, enticing, if you are a founder looking to go public in the near-future, and potentially irksome if you are a VC annoyed when upside leaks to parties other than yourself.

This brings us to our data set. Below, I’ve collated a host of recent IPOs, their opens and their current prices. Only one has shed value.

And then we reexamined eight 2020 offerings that you will recall so we could run the same exercise. The results were not what I expected and indicate a stock market — let alone an IPO market — sufficiently inflated to warrant the whispered moniker of bubble.

Let’s have some fun.

Up, and then up some more

#affirm, #fundings-exits, #jfrog, #lemonade, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #unity

A theory about the current IPO market

As expected, shares of Poshmark exploded this morning, blasting over 130% higher in afternoon trading from the company’s above-range IPO price of $42. The enormous and noisy debut of Poshmark comes a day after Affirm, another IPO, was treated similarly by the public markets.

Both explosive debuts were preceded by huge December debuts from C3.ai, Doordash and Airbnb. It seems today that any venture-backed company that can claim some sort of tech mantle is being treated to a strong IPO pricing run and a huge first-day result.

This is, of course, annoying to some people. Namely, certain elements of the venture capital community who would prefer to keep all outsized gains in their own pockets. But, no matter. You might be wondering what is going on. Let’s talk about it.

Here’s how you get a 130% first-day IPO pop

TechCrunch has covered the IPO window as closely as we can over the last few years. And the late-stage venture capital markets, along with the changing value of tech stocks and the huge boom in consumer (retail) investing.

Based on my participation in as much of that reporting as I could take part in here’s how you get a 130% first-day IPO pop in a company that has actually been around long enough for investors to math-out reasonable growth and profit expectations for the future:

  1. Exist in a climate of near-zero interest rates. This leads to super-cheap money, bonds being shit and no one wanting to hold cash. Lots of dollars go into more speculative assets, like stocks. And lots of money goes into exotic investments, like venture capital funds.

    #affirm, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #poshmark, #startups

Poshmark prices IPO above range as public markets continue to YOLO startups

Here we are again. Again.

Yes, it’s another morning in which we have to discuss a venture-backed technology company going public at a price above its IPO range.

This time it’s Poshmark, which priced its IPO at $42 per share last night, comfortably ahead of its $35 to $39 range that already greatly boosted the company’s valuation. The consumer-to-consumer used fashion marketplace sold 6.6 million shares at its IPO price, raising a gross $277.2 million before other possible shares are sold.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


According to Crunchbase data, that’s the biggest round Poshmark has raised in its history.

The company was able to so greatly boost its valuation in the process that the resulting dilution is minute. This is the late-2020, early-2021 IPO market in action: Pick a private company, boost its worth greatly in its public offering when comparing to its last private valuation, send it to trade, and watch its worth — usually — soar.

Then venture capitalists get to complain that Wall Street is underpricing their children while, from where I sit, it always appears that the VCs who put the last money into the company before its public offering tend to do even better than the bankers.

A useful question to ask: whom is underpricing whom?

But this morning we have some work to do. First, what are Poshmark’s final simple, and diluted valuations, what revenue multiples does it sport today, and, what do we think its final pricing means for public markets in general?

A hint: Nothing that follows is bearish.

Poshmark’s IPO pricing

There are a few ways to consider Poshmark’s value. One is to use its simple share count, a figure that doesn’t include vested-yet-unexercised stock options and RSUs. Another is to include those shares.

Here are the resulting valuations:

#affirm, #ecommerce, #poshmark, #tc, #the-exchange

Affirm doubles after starting to trade despite strong IPO pricing

Today shares of Affirm, a buy-now-pay-later unicorn, started trading above $90 per share, far above its $49 per-share IPO price, a figure that was already miles above the company’s early expectations.

The pop comes after Affirm raised its pricing range earlier this week, to $41 to $44 per share, up from an initial range of $33 to $38 per share. To see the company double from its raised price implies strong demand for its shares, a thin float, or both.

Affirm’s explosive debut comes on the heels of similarly-strong results from DoorDash, C3.ai, and Airbnb. Those companies’ debuts were so strong that Roblox delayed its IPO, later swapping a traditional IPO for a direct listing to get around the pricing issue.

Today’s IPO shows that the same dynamics that were at play in those IPOs have persisted into 2021. More public debuts are expected in Q1, including Coinbase, another well-known unicorn. Other names like Robinhood, Bumble, and others are in the wings.

Affirm’s first-day performance will certainly raise eyebrows from regular critics of the traditional IPO process. But the company did raise more money than it perhaps anticipated, and is having a raucous first-day’s trading, so it’s hard to fret too much for the company. If its share price is still as high in a month as it is today, perhaps it was as underpriced as some will claim.

Fintech

Affirm’s pricing brings a green splash to a busy week for fintech giants. Yesterday, Visa’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid failed to go through due to regulatory concerns. While the fallen deal could have a chilling effect on fintech startups, Plaid told TechCrunch that it saw 60% customer growth in 2020, bringing it to more than 4,000 clients. Plaid’s next step, per many in the VC and tech community, will be even bigger than its once-planned $5.3 billion dollar exit.

Some tweets here to give you a sense of the momentum around fintech right now:

Affirm’s pop and Plaid’s forward-looking attitude show that the exit market for fintech feels both optimistic and energetic.

#affirm, #fintech, #ipo, #plaid, #public-markets, #tc

Wall Street hugs Affirm as it starts life as a public company

And we’re off to the races!

Last night, Affirm priced its IPO above its raised range at $49 per share, a sign that the public markets remain hungry for new listings. Provided that Affirm today trades similarly to how it priced, we could be looking at a 2021 IPO market that resembles last year’s heated results.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


That’s good news for a host of companies looking to follow in the financial technology unicorn’s footsteps.

Poshmark prices tonight and trades tomorrow. And with Qualtrics in the wings along with Coinbase, Roblox set to direct list, and Bumble said to file as well, we’re heading into another busy IPO quarter. Affirm’s first-day trading results will therefore hold extra importance, even if its pricing augurs well for IPOs more generally.

Affirm first targeted $33 to $38 per share before raising its range to $41 to $44 per share. Pricing at $49 is a victory. Briefly, why, and then a thought about what’s next for the IPO market.

Affirm

What does Affirm sell? First, per its S-1 filings, it charges merchants a fee to “convert a sale and power a payment.” That sounds like software revenues, albeit not in the recurring manner of a SaaS company.

Second, Affirm earns from “interest income [from] the simple interest loans that we purchase from our originating bank partners.” And, it offers virtual cards to consumers via its app, allowing it to generate interchange revenues.

We care about all of that as it’s important to realize that Affirm is not a software company in the context that we usually think about them, namely software as a service, or SaaS.

This matters when we consider how the market values Affirm; the more richly Affirm is valued in revenue-multiple terms by its new, $39 per-share IPO price, the more bullish we can presume the IPO market is.

What are Affirm’s gross margins? A great question, and one that is surprisingly hard to answer. If you read its final S-1 filing, you’ll find that all its chatter concerning “contribution profit” has been removed. This is a shame to some degree as contribution profit — and margin — were Affirm’s closest shared cognate to gross margin.

#affirm, #finance, #fundings-exits, #startups, #the-exchange

Affirm boosts its IPO price target, more than doubling its latest private valuation

This morning Affirm, the buy-now-pay-later financing startup, raised its IPO price range to $41 to $44 per share, up from a previous range of $33 to $38 per share.

The sharp repricing is steep in percentage terms, with the bottom end of Affirm’s range rising a little more than 24% and the top end gaining a smaller 16%.

For Affirm, the news means a larger IPO fundraising haul and a confirmation from public investors that its model, its economics, its business performance and its relationship with Peloton are incredibly valuable.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


As TechCrunch wrote when Affirm first affixed a price range to its IPO, the fintech unicorn will be worth a multiple of its final private price. The company was valued at around $2.9 billion in a 2019 round and raised more capital at a higher $19.93 per-share price in September of 2020; the company’s IPO price range is now more than double what the company was worth less than half a year ago.

Let’s calculate Affirm’s new simple and diluted new valuation ranges, and contrast those with its recent revenues to get a handle regarding how close to software numbers the startup can get its revenue multiple.

Inside the math

Very little has changed in Affirm’s S-1 filings when it comes to share counts. Today’s new S-1/A filing does include a note concerning around 18,824 shares, but past that it appears that most things are holding steady.

#affirm, #tc, #the-exchange

Affirm targets up to $38 per share in IPO, pushing its valuation above $9B

Today Affirm, a fintech startup that offers payment options to e-commerce customers, released a new S-1/A filing. The new document follows a late-December filing of a similar nature, though that update focused on changing the language of Affirm’s reported results, tweaking its language to remove some adjusted metrics, and hewing closer to generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP.

The company’s more recent filing details what could be its first IPO price interval, indicating that Affirm may price its shares between $33 and $38 per share in its IPO. If Affirm raises its estimates, expect that price range to tighten.

Let’s calculate Affirm’s valuation marks at its new price range before digging into what we think of the company’s estimated worth against its most recent performance.

Valuation

There are two ways to calculate a company’s IPO valuation. The first takes into account only shares that will exist after the offering. The second, the so-called diluted valuation, takes into account shares that are available for exercise or conversion, but have yet to be. To avoid choosing sides today, we’ll calculate both.

The first, simple valuation is a doddle to tally:

  • Affirm shares outstanding post-IPO, including its underwriters’ option: 246,436,771
  • Affirm IPO price interval: $33 to $38 per share
  • Affirm simple IPO valuation range: $8.1 billion to $9.4 billion

Affirm’s fully-diluted valuation involves a larger share count, so it generates larger results. Doing our own math, here’s how it shakes out (Bloomberg came up with slightly different numbers,

  • Affirm fully-diluted shares outstanding post-IPO, including its underwriters’ option: 318,865,2461
  • Affirm IPO price interval: $33 to $38 per share
  • Affirm fully-diluted IPO valuation range: $10.5 billion to $12.1 billion

At the time of its April, 2019 Series F, Affirm was worth $2.9 billion after the capital was raised, according to PitchBook. The company also raised a $500 million Series G in September of 2020. That final round sold shares at $19.93 apiece, along with some convertible notes, per today’s filing; investors in that transaction are set to do very well in under a year.

Those who put money in even earlier will do even better.

Do those numbers make sense?

#affirm, #tc

Bumble reportedly filed confidentially for an IPO

Today Bumble, a popular dating-focused startup, was reported by Bloomberg to have filed IPO documents, albeit privately.

The news that Bumble is pursuing an IPO is not a surprise. TechCrunch covered the story in September, noting the huge revenues that its rival Tinder has managed to accrete, possibly indicative of a sufficiently large market to support two public dating players.

That Bumble has privately filed puts it, along with the crypto-focused Coinbase, as far along the IPO path before we can see their numbers. When they make their S-1 filings public the two companies will provide the market a look into their financial results.

Bumble and Coinbase are preceded in making such disclosures by Roblox, Affirm, and Poshmark. The five companies will join others in seeking IPOs over the next few months.

According to a recent interview with GGV’s Hans Tung — an investor in Affirm and Airbnb and other unicorns — TechCrunch understands that quarters one, three, and four in 2021 could prove to be active IPO periods. Bumble joining the fray in the final weeks of 2020 underscores how active the start of the year could be for highly-priced private companies seeking liquidity while public markets trade near all-time highs.

TechCrunch reached out to Bumble for comment on the IPO report. The company declined to comment.

Bloomberg reports that Bumble could target a valuation of between $6 and $8 billion. This squares with prior reporting. How much revenue the market will require of Bumble to reach those prices, and at what pace of growth, is not clear.

But with the company reaching 100 million users earlier this year, perhaps all the math will pencil out.

#affirm, #bumble, #coinbase, #roblox, #tc

The IPO market looks hot as Airbnb and C3.ai raise price targets

So much for a December slowdown — this morning, Airbnb and C3.ai raised their IPO price ranges and we got early pricing information from Upstart and Wish.

This gives us a good amount of ground to cover. So, we’ll dig into Airbnb’s new price range first, working to understand how richly investors are valuing the American home-sharing unicorn. We’ll repeat the experiment with C3.ai, a company we find utterly fascinating. Then we’ll calculate valuation ranges for both Upstart, a consumer lending fintech, and Wish, an e-commerce giant, to see where they stand.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


There are other IPOs in the wings: We’re still waiting on early pricing information from Affirm and Roblox, and DoorDash raised its range last week.

The upcoming calendar is busy. C3.ai and DoorDash should price tomorrow and trade Wednesday. Airbnb should price Wednesday and trade Thursday. Upstart will price next Tuesday and trade the following day.

In normal times, we’d take each element of today’s IPO news fusillade and parse it in its own post. But we only have 10 fingers, so let’s double-time through the numbers and get to what matters while you drink coffee. To work!

Airbnb and C3.ai

Public investors are bidding shares of both Airbnb and C3.ai up ahead of their debuts.

This morning, C3.ai, a company that sells enterprise AI technology, raised its IPO price range from $31-$34 to $36-$38 per share. It both raised and tightened its range, the latter often happening as a company gets a better handle on where demand lies as it ramps toward final pricing and eventual trading.

There are two ways to calculate the company’s new valuation range. The first uses the company’s nondiluted, expected post-IPO share count of 98,655,627, a figure that includes a little more than 2 million shares reserved for underwriters. At that share count, C3.ai would be worth between $3.57 billion and $3.77 billion.

#affirm, #airbnb, #doordash, #exit, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #upstart, #wish

PrimaHealth Credit offers a buy-now, pay-later lending service for elective procedures

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based healthcare lending service PrimaHealth Credit  is now pitching point-of-sale lending services for elective medical procedures.

Taking the kinds of financial lending services that have been popularized by companies like Klarna and Affirm, PrimaHealth Credit is bringing them into elective surgical space for things like cataract surgery, orthodontic work, dental care, or LASIK.

“For many dental, orthodontics, LASIK, and cataract surgery patients, our BNPL product is a ‘last resort’ – the difference between getting the treatment they need, or not,” said Brendon Kensel, founder and CEO of PrimaHealth Credit, in a statement.

The company expects that patients will pay somewhere between 25% and 50% of the cost of their treatment up front with repayment durations for the loans ranging between two and four months.

Rates for the loans will range from 19.99% to 24.99% APR with average loan sizes coming in at around $1,800 across dental, orthodontics, and LASIK, according to the company.

“Until now, when providers couldn’t approve patients for an existing payment plan, they’d either forego providing them care or take them on anyway, exposing themselves to significant liability as they struggle with adequately assessing creditworthiness and properly servicing and collecting loans,” Kensel said.

The program not only handles loan origination for healthcare practices, but handles the back-office tasks for payment and servicing.

“Our goal as a company is to remove barriers to patient acceptance and help people who have the means but not necessarily the credit score to get the quality care that everyone deserves,” Kensel said.

Using the PrimaHealth Credit mobile app, patients can receive instant credit decisions and choose the payment plan that works best for them. The company said the service is currently available in Arizona, California, Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas and will be expanded to all 50 states by 2021.

 

#affirm, #arizona, #california, #ceo, #credit-score, #florida, #klarna, #lasik, #oklahoma, #orthodontics, #personal-finance, #tc, #texas

Helping big banks out-Affirm Affirm and out-Chime Chime, gives Amount a $681 million valuation

Amount, a new service that helps traditional banks compete in a digital world, has raised $81 million from none other than Goldman Sachs as it looks to help legacy fintech players compete with their more nimble digital counterparts.

The company, which spun out from the startup lending company Avant Credit in January of this year, has already inked deals with Banco Popular, HSBC, Regions Bank and TD Bank to power their digital banking services and offer products like point-of-sale lending to compete with challenger banks like Chime and lenders like Affirm or Klarna.

“Most banks are looking for resources and infrastructure to accelerate their digital strategy and meet the demands of today’s consumer,” said Jade Mandel, a Vice President in Goldman Sachs’ growth equity platform, GS Growth, who will be joining the Board of Directors at Amount, in a statement. “Amount enables banks to navigate digital transformation through its modular and mobile-first platform for financial products. We’re excited to partner with the team as they take on this compelling market opportunity.”

Complimenting those customer facing services is a deep expertise in fraud prevention on the back-end to help banks provide more loans with less risk than competitors, according to chief executive Adam Hughes.

It’s the combination of these three services that led Goldman to take point on a new $81 million investment in the company, with participation from previous investors August Capital, Invus Opportunities and Hanaco Ventures — giving Avant a post-money valuation of $681 million and bringing the company’s total capital raised in 2020 to a whopping $140 million.

Think of Amount as a white-labeled digital banking service provider for luddite banks that hadn’t upgraded their services to keep pace with demands of a new generation of customers or the COVID-19 era of digital-first services for everything.

Banks pay a pretty penny for access to Amount’s services. On top of a percentage for any loans that the bank process through Amount’s services, there’s an up-front implementation fee that typically averages at $1 million.

The hefty price tag is a sign of how concerned banks are about their digital challengers. Hughes said that they’ve seen a big uptick in adoption since the launch of their buy-now-pay-later product designed to compete with the fast growing startups like Affirm and Klarna .

Indeed, by offering banks these services, Amount gives Klarna and Affirm something to worry about. That’s because banks conceivably have a lower cost of capital than the startups and can offer better rates to borrowers. They also have the balance sheet capacity to approve more loans than either of the two upstart lenders.

 “Amount has the wind at its back and the industry is taking notice,” said Nigel Morris, the co-founder of CapitalOne and an investor in Amount through the firm QED Investors. “The latest round brings Amount’s total capital raised in 2020 to nearly $140M, which will provide for additional investments in platform research and development while accelerating the company’s go-to-market strategy. QED is thrilled to be a part of Amount’s story and we look forward to the company’s future success as it plays a vital role in the digitization of financial services.”

FT Partners served as advisor to Amount on this transaction.

#advisor, #affirm, #bank, #capitalone, #challenger-banks, #chime, #co-founder, #economy, #finance, #financial-services, #goldman-sachs, #hanaco-ventures, #hsbc, #klarna, #money, #qed, #tc, #vice-president

Extra Crunch roundup: A fistful of IPOs, Affirm’s Peloton problem, Zoom Apps and more

DoorDash, Affirm, Roblox, Airbnb, C3.ai and Wish all filed to go public in recent days, which means some venture capitalists are having the best week of their lives.

Tech companies that go public capture our imagination because they are literal happy endings. An Initial Public Offering is the promised land for startup pilgrims who may wander the desert for years seeking product-market fit. After all, the “I” in “ISO” stands for “incentive.”

A flurry of new S-1s in a single week forced me to rearrange our editorial calendar, but I didn’t mind; our 360-degree coverage let some of the air out of various hype balloons and uncovered several unique angles.

For example: I was familiar with Affirm, the service that lets consumers finance purchases, but I had no idea Peloton accounted for 30% of its total revenue in the last quarter.

“What happens if Peloton puts on the brakes?” I asked Alex Wilhelm as I edited his breakdown of Affirm’s S-1. We decided to use that as the subhead for his analysis.

The stories that follow are an overview of Extra Crunch from the last five days. Full articles are only available to members, but you can use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one or two-year subscription. Details here.

Thank you very much for reading Extra Crunch this week; I hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist


What is Roblox worth?

Gaming company Roblox filed to go public yesterday afternoon, so Alex Wilhelm brought out a scalpel and dissected its S-1. Using his patented mathmagic, he analyzed Roblox’s fundraising history and reported revenue to estimate where its valuation might land.

Noting that “the public markets appear to be even more risk-on than the private world in 2020,” Alex pegged the number at “just a hair under $10 billion.”

What China’s fintech can teach the world

Alibaba Employees Pay For Meals With Face Recognition System

HANGZHOU, CHINA – JULY 31: An employee uses face recognition system on a self-service check-out machine to pay for her meals in a canteen at the headquarters of Alibaba Group on July 31, 2018 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. The self-service check-out machine can calculate the price of meals quickly to save employees’ queuing time. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images)

For all the hype about new forms of payment, the way I transact hasn’t been radically transformed in recent years — even in tech-centric San Francisco.

Sure, I use NFC card readers to tap and pay and tipped a street musician using Venmo last weekend. But my landlord still demands paper checks and there’s a tattered “CASH ONLY” taped to the register at my closest coffee shop.

In China, it’s a different story: Alibaba’s employee cafeteria uses facial recognition and AI to determine which foods a worker has selected and who to charge. Many consumers there use the same app to pay for utility bills, movie tickets and hamburgers.

“Today, nobody except Chinese people outside of China uses Alipay or WeChat Pay to pay for anything,” says finance researcher Martin Chorzempa. “So that’s a big unexplored side that I think is going to come into a lot of geopolitical risks.”

Inside Affirm’s IPO filing: A look at its economics, profits and revenue concentration

Consumer lending service Affirm filed to go public on Wednesday evening, so Alex used Thursday’s column to unpack the company’s financials.

After reviewing Affirm’s profitability, revenue and the impact of COVID-19 on its bottom line, he asked (and answered) three questions:

  • What does Affirm’s loss rate on consumer loans look like?
  • Are its gross margins improving?
  • What does the unicorn have to say about contribution profit from its loans business?

If you didn’t make $1B this week, you are not doing VC right

Image Credits: XiXinXing (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

“The only thing more rare than a unicorn is an exited unicorn,” observes Managing Editor Danny Crichton, who looked back at Exitpalooza 2020 to answer “a simple question — who made the money?”

Covering each exit from the perspective of founders and investors, Danny makes it clear who’ll take home the largest slice of each pie. TL;DR? “Some really colossal winners among founders, and several venture firms walking home with billions of dollars in capital.

5 questions from Airbnb’s IPO filing

The S-1 Airbnb released at the start of the week provided insight into the home-rental platform’s core financials, but it also raised several questions about the company’s health and long-term viability, according to Alex Wilhelm:

  • How far did Airbnb’s bookings fall during Q1 and Q2?
  • How far have Airbnb’s bookings come back since?
  • Did local, long-term stays save Airbnb?
  • Has Airbnb ever really made money?
  • Is the company wealthy despite the pandemic?

Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost explains the strategy behind acquiring Spacemaker

Andrew Anagnost, President and CEO, Autodesk.

Andrew Anagnost, president and CEO, Autodesk.

Earlier this week, Autodesk announced its purchase of Spacemaker, a Norwegian firm that develops AI-supported software for urban development.

TechCrunch reporter Steve O’Hear interviewed Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost to learn more about the acquisition and asked why Autodesk paid $240 million for Spacemaker’s 115-person team and IP — especially when there were other startups closer to its Bay Area HQ.

“They’ve built a real, practical, usable application that helps a segment of our population use machine learning to really create better outcomes in a critical area, which is urban redevelopment and development,” said Anagnost.

“So it’s totally aligned with what we’re trying to do.”

Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing

On Monday, Alex dove into the IPO filing for enterprise artificial intelligence company C3.ai.

After poring over its ownership structure, service offerings and its last two years of revenue, he asks and answers the question: “is the business itself any damn good?”

Is the internet advertising economy about to implode?

Image Credits: jayk7 / Getty Images

In his new book, “Subprime Attention Crisis,” writer/researcher Tim Hwang attempts to answer a question I’ve wondered about for years: does advertising actually work?

Managing Editor Danny Crichton interviewed Hwang to learn more about his thesis that there are parallels between today’s ad industry and the subprime mortgage crisis that helped spur the Great Recession.

So, are online ads effective?

“I think the companies are very reticent to give up the data that would allow you to find a really definitive answer to that question,” says Hwang.

Will Zoom Apps be the next hot startup platform?

Logos of companies in the Zoom Apps marketplace

Image Credits: Zoom

Even after much of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, we will still be using Zoom’s video-conferencing platform in great numbers.

That’s because Zoom isn’t just an app: it’s also a platform play for startups that add functionality using APIs, an SDK or chatbots that behave like smart assistants.

Enterprise reporter Ron Miller spoke to entrepreneurs and investors who are leveraging Zoom’s platform to build new applications with an eye on the future.

“By offering a platform to build applications that take advantage of the meeting software, it’s possible it could be a valuable new ecosystem for startups,” says Ron.

Will edtech empower or erase the need for higher education?

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Without an on-campus experience, many students (and their parents) are wondering how much value there is in attending classes via a laptop in a dormitory.

Even worse: Declining enrollment is leading many institutions to eliminate majors and find other ways to cut costs, like furloughing staff and cutting athletic programs.

Edtech solutions could fill the gap, but there’s no real consensus in higher education over which tools work best. Many colleges and universities are using a number of “third-party solutions to keep operations afloat,” reports Natasha Mascarenhas.

“It’s a stress test that could lead to a reckoning among edtech startups.”

3 growth tactics that helped us surpass Noom and Weight Watchers

3D rendering of TNT dynamite sticks in carton box on blue background. Explosive supplies. Dangerous cargo. Plotting terrorist attack. Image Credits: Gearstd / Getty Images.

I look for guest-written Extra Crunch stories that will help other entrepreneurs be more successful, which is why I routinely turn down submissions that seem overly promotional.

However, Henrik Torstensson (CEO and co-founder of Lifesum) submitted a post about the techniques he’s used to scale his nutrition app over the last three years. “It’s a strategy any startup can use, regardless of size or budget,” he writes.

According to Sensor Tower, Lifesum is growing almost twice as fast as Noon and Weight Watchers, so putting his company at the center of the story made sense.

Send in reviews of your favorite books for TechCrunch!

Image via Getty Images / Alexander Spatari

Every year, we ask TechCrunch reporters, VCs and our Extra Crunch readers to recommend their favorite books.

Have you read a book this year that you want to recommend? Send an email with the title and a brief explanation of why you enjoyed it to bookclub@techcrunch.com.

We’ll compile the suggestions and publish the list as we get closer to the holidays. These books don’t have to be published this calendar year — any book you read this year qualifies.

Please share your submissions by November 30.

Dear Sophie: Can an H-1B co-founder own a Delaware C Corp?

Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

Dear Sophie:

My VC partner and I are working with 50/50 co-founders on their startup — let’s call it “NewCo.” We’re exploring pre-seed terms.

One founder is on a green card and already works there. The other founder is from India and is working on an H-1B at a large tech company.

Can the H-1B co-founder lead this company? What’s the timing to get everything squared away? If we make the investment we want them to hit the ground running.

— Diligent in Daly City

#affirm, #airbnb, #doordash, #entrepreneurship, #fundings-exits, #gaming, #roblox, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #wish

A16z is now managing $16.5 billion, after announcing two new funds

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has closed a pair of funds totaling $4.5 billion, the firm confirmed in a blog post this morning. The firm has raised $1.3 billion for an early-stage fund focused on consumer, enterprise, and fintech; and closed a $3.2 billion growth-stage fund for later-stage investments. The firm did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The funds may seem somewhat typical, given the size of new funds that venture firms have been raising in recent years, Still, these are extraordinary amounts given that a16z, with offices in Menlo Park and San Francisco, was founded just 11 years ago.

As extraordinary, they bring the firm’s total assets under management to $16.5 billion.

It was just 20 months ago that a16z closed its most recent pair of funds — a $2 billion late-stage fund, and a $740 million flagship early-stage fund.

It also announced a separate, $515 million crypto-focused fund back in April of this year, its second such vehicle. And, in February, it rolled out its third biotech and healthcare investing fund, which closed with $750 million in capital commitments.

That’s a lot of capital to capture in one year. Then again, its limited partners have had reason to feel optimistic about its portfolio. In January, for example, the fintech company Plaid, whose Series C round a16z joined in late 2018, was acquired by Visa for a hefty $5.3 billion after raising roughly $310 million altogether. The Justice Department recently sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds, but even if it’s unwound, industry observers like Plaid’s prospects.

The firm is also an investor in the soon-to-be-publicly traded accommodations marketplace Airbnb, though notably, according to Airbnb’s S-1, a16z does not own enough of the company to be listed on the filing, despite that it led the company’s Series B round in 2011 and despite that general partner Jeff Jordan sits on the company’s board and would need to list any ownership position as a result.

We’ve asked if it sold part of its stake, possibly earlier this year. We’re still awaiting word back.

Another of a16z’s portfolio companies, the pay-as-you-go lending company Affirm, has also filed to go public. Andreessen Horowitz first participated in the company’s Series B round back in 2015. It is also not listed on Affirm’s S-1 filing, meaning it owns less than 5% of the company.

The firm is also an investor in the game company Roblox, whose $150 million Series G round it led earlier this year. Roblox made its S-1 public just earlier this week; a16z is not listed on it.

Its biggest win to date may well be Github, which sold to Microsoft in a $7.5 billion all-stock deal in 2018 and from which a16z reportedly pocketed more than $1 billion. When it invested in the company, it wrote the biggest check it had issued at the time: $100 million. The deal was enough for a16z to win the deal against some tough competition, including Benchmark, whose general partner, Peter Fenton, has said was also trying to woo Github at the time,

On the early-stage side, the firm is often characterized by its flashy deals, including its $100 million valuation of voice-chat app Clubhouse and $75 million valuation of Y Combinator graduate Trove.

 

A16z also recently launched a TxO accelerator, which uses a donor-advised fund to invest in underrepresented founders. Led by a16z partner Nait Jones, TxO has invested $100,000 each in an initial cohort of seven companies in exchange for 7% of ownership stake.

The donor-advised fund launched with $2.2 million in initial commitments, with Ben and Felicia Horowitz announcing that they would match up to $5 million. Any returns from companies in the fund will be repurposed into the investment vehicle. The firm has declined to share the fund’s total size to date.

Currently, a16z employs 185 people, most recently hiring Anthony Albanese, the chief regulatory officer at the New York Stock Exchange, as an operating partner for its cryptocurrency team.

 

#a16z, #affirm, #early-stage, #fund, #fundings-exits, #nyse, #tc, #venture-capital

If you didn’t make $1B this week, you are not doing VC right

The only thing more rare than a unicorn is an exited unicorn.

At TechCrunch, we cover a lot of startup financings, but we rarely get the opportunity to cover exits. This week was an exception though, as it was exitpalooza as Affirm, Roblox, Airbnb, and Wish all filed to go public. With DoorDash’s IPO filing last week, this is upwards of $100 billion in potential float heading to the public markets as we make our way to the end of a tumultuous 2020.

All those exits raise a simple question – who made the money? Which VCs got in early on some of the biggest startups of the decade? Who is going to be buying a new yacht for the family for the holidays (or, like, a fancy yurt for when Burning Man restarts)? The good news is that the wealth is being spread around at least a couple of VC firms, although there are definitely a handful of partners who are looking at a very, very nice check in the mail compared to others.

So let’s dive in.

I’ve covered DoorDash’s and Airbnb’s investor returns in-depth, so if you want to know more about those individual returns, feel free to check those analyses out. But let’s take a more panoramic perspective of the returns of these five companies as a whole.
First, let’s take a look at the founders. These are among the very best startups ever built, and therefore, unsurprisingly, the founders all did pretty well for themselves. But there are pretty wide variations that are interesting to note.

First, Airbnb — by far — has the best return profile for its founders. Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia together own nearly 42% of their company at IPO, and that’s after raising billions in venture capital. The reason for their success is simple: Airbnb may have had some tough early innings when it was just getting started, but once it did, its valuation just skyrocketed. That helped to limit dilution in its earlier growth rounds, and ultimately protected their ownership in the company.

David Baszucki of Roblox and Peter Szulczewski of Wish both did well: they own 12% and about 19% of their companies, respectively. Szulczewski’s co-founder Sheng “Danny” Zhang, who is Wish’s CTO, owns 4.9%. Eric Cassel, the co-founder of Roblox, did not disclose ownership in the company’s S-1 filing, indicating that he doesn’t own greater than 5% (the SEC’s reporting threshold).

DoorDash’s founders own a bit less of their company, mostly owing to the money-gobbling nature of that business and the sheer number of co-founders of the company. CEO Tony Xu owns 5.2% while his two co-founders Andy Fang and Stanley Tang each have 4.7%. A fourth co-founder Evan Moore didn’t disclose his share totals in the company’s filing.

Finally, we have Affirm . Affirm didn’t provide total share counts for the company, so it’s hard right now to get a full ownership picture. It’s also particularly hard because Max Levchin, who founded Affirm, was a well-known, multi-time entrepreneur who had a unique shareholder structure from the beginning (many of the venture firms on the cap table actually have equal proportions of common and preferred shares). Levchin has more shares all together than any of his individual VC investors — 27.5 million shares, compared to the second largest investor, Jasmine Ventures (a unit of Singapore’s GIC) at 22 million shares.

#affirm, #a