Private equity giveth, and private equity taketh away

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

Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris gathered to dig through the week’s biggest happenings, including some news of our own. As a note, Equity’s Monday episode will be landing next Tuesday, thanks to a national holiday here in the United States. And we have something special planned for Wednesday, so stay tuned.

Ok! Here’s the rundown from the show:

That’s a wrap from us for the week! Keep your head atop your shoulders and have a great weekend!

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.

#allbirds, #compound-foods, #databricks, #drift, #equity-podcast, #hum-capital, #ipo, #s-1, #sustainability, #tc, #toast, #vista-equity-partners, #y-combinator

Duolingo’s IPO could cast golden halo on edtech startups

Edtech giant Duolingo set an initial price range for its impending IPO today. The unicorn expects to price in its public debut at $85 to $95 per share, selling 3,700,000 in the deal.

Another 1,406,113 shares are being sold by existing shareholders, and 765,916 shares are being offered to underwriting banks as part of the transaction. All told, the company may see 5,872,029 shares trade hands in its IPO, worth some $557,842,755. Duolingo itself can raise as much as $424,262,020 in gross proceeds at its current range, provided that its underwriting banks exercise their option.

The IPO is a material fundraising event for the company. Before its public offering, the largest single hit of capital that Duolingo raised was a $45 million Series D from 2015.

Let’s dig into what Duolingo, which we profiled in much more detail here, is worth at its IPO price and peek at its preliminary second-quarter results. Our goal will be to understand its valuation in the context of its growth. From there, we’ll be able to draw some general conclusions about the larger edtech startup market.

What’s it worth?

After its IPO, Duolingo will have 35,892,152 shares outstanding, sans its underwriter’s option. At the lower and upper bounds of its simple IPO valuation, Duolingo is worth $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion.

As with every company going public, Duolingo’s IPO valuation rises if we include shares that have vested in RSU or options form, but have yet to be exercised. In the case of Duolingo, its share count rises to 43,776,271, per an initial TechCrunch analysis of the company’s RSU and options details provided in its S-1 filing. At that share count, Duolingo is worth $3.7 billion to $4.2 billion.

For every number provided, the company’s underwriter’s option adds modestly.

All valuations listed above are a premium over the company’s final private price set during its November 2020 Series H round of funding. That $35 million round valued the company at around $2.4 billion.

At first blush, then, the company’s IPO price range feels strong, regardless of whether we lean on simple or fully diluted share counts to come to a new price for the firm. But how do its new valuations stack against its recent revenue? Let’s find out.

#duolingo, #ec-edtech, #edtech, #education, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #s-1, #tc

Robinhood is going public and we’re very excited

It’s a sweltering day here in New York City, and that means Wall Street is on fire, and so is Robinhood, apparently. The popular stock trading app officially filed its Form S-1 with the SEC a few hours ago to go public, where it will trade under the ticker “HOOD.”

The Equity crew has been yammering about Robinhood for years now, and we have been chomping on the bit to see those S-1 results for what feels like ages. Well, we finally got the numbers, we chomped that bit (or at least Alex and Danny did, since Natasha went on vacation about 15 minutes before the IPO hit the wires), and so here’s a special Equity Shot to talk about all the highlights.

We talked about so much in an itsy-bitsy 15-minute episode: crazy revenue growth, crazy revenue concentration from two major sources, regulatory hurdles that the company has been clearing up, better financials with a bit of nuance on the company’s Q1 finances, and the company’s special plan for its IPO.

Wowza.

Here’s what we got up to:

  • Historical growth and profitability.
  • Revenue mix and revenue concentration, along with constituent concerns.
  • The importance of options-related incomes for the company.
  • Dogecoin.
  • Why the company’s adjusted income may help it assuage investors who have their eyes pop out of their skulls when they see its GAAP Q1 2021 results.

And a lot more. Of course, if you hate Robinhood, we will be back with our normally-scheduled Friday episode of Equity tomorrow.

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.

#crypto, #dogecoin, #equity-podcast, #exit, #finance, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #podcasts, #robinhood, #s-1, #sec, #startups

Extra Crunch roundup: UiPath’s IPO filing, predicting revenue, how to pivot properly, much more

This is not a boast, but a warning: I could write a how-to article on almost any topic.

Give me enough time to do some research, and I can put together a reliable step-by-step for building a custom gaming PC, installing a hot water heater or interpreting public health data. But since I’ve never actually done those things, I would encourage you to ignore any advice I have to offer.

Trusted advice comes from experience. That’s why Ron Miller interviewed three entrepreneurs who have each built multiple companies to uncover some essential truths about achieving product-market fit:

  • Pouyan Salehi, CEO and co-founder, Scratchpad
  • Rami Essaid, CEO and founder,  Finmark
  • Melonee Wise, CEO and co-founder, Fetch Robotics

The basic tenets presented in Ron’s story will resonate with anyone who’s launched a startup.

Alex Wilhelm was particularly prolific this morning: For The Exchange, he studied UiPath’s 2020 quarterly results to get a clearer picture of its first S-1/A filing. Is the “somewhat slack news regarding UiPath’s potential IPO valuation” a harbinger of things to come?


Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members.
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription.


In a follow-up, he recapped news from the public debuts of Coinbase, UiPath, Zenvia, AppLovin and Grab, all of which “adds up to a somewhat muddled picture of the current IPO market.” It feels like we’re in a turbulent window, but it’s also possible that we’re in the calm after the storm, he suggests.

Final note: I asked TechCrunch graphic designer/illustrator Bryce Durbin to create an image to accompany this primer on raising a Series A round. He didn’t just exceed my expectations — it’s my favorite TechCrunch illustration ever. Thanks, Bryce!

I hope you got something out of reading Extra Crunch this week. Have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

 

Building the right team for a billion-dollar startup

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

From building out Facebook’s first office in Austin to putting together most of Quora’s team, Bain Capital Ventures managing director Sarah Smith has done a bit of everything when it comes to hiring.

At TechCrunch Early Stage, she spoke about how to ensure the critical early hires are the right ones to grow a business. As an investor, Smith has a broad view into the problems companies face as they search for the right candidates to spur organizational success.

She touched on a number of issues, such as who to hire and when, when to fire and how to ensure diversity from the earliest days.

So you want to raise a Series A

"So you want to raise a Series A" pamphlet in the style of "The Simpsons"

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

During a seed-funding round, a founder needs to convince a venture capital investor on a vision. But during a Series A fundraise, napkin-stage ideas don’t make the cut — a founder needs product progress, numbers and revenue (or at least a plan to eventually generate some).

In many ways, the stakes are higher for a Series A — and Bucky Moore, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, joined TechCrunch Early Stage last week to give founders tactical advice on the process of raising one.

Moore spoke about storytelling over semantics, pricing and where his firm sees itself “raising the bar” for startups.

With the right tools, predicting startup revenue is possible

For a long time, “revenue” seemed to be a taboo word in the startup world. Fortunately, things have changed with the rise of SaaS and alternative funding sources such as revenue-based investing VCs.

Still, revenue modeling remains a challenge for founders. How do you predict earnings when you’re still figuring it out?

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

Image Credits: erhui1979 / Getty Images

If you have a great idea within the open-core framework, expect your risks to be much lower than with a traditional business structure.

Clearly communicate this fact to venture capitalists for the best chance at securing the seed funding your organization needs.

But it takes more: Boasting a strong community around an emerging open-source product essentially serves as an “introduction letter” to venture capitalists. It highlights the founders’ ability to successfully execute their vision, as well as the mission to bring their product to a commercial reality.

Additionally, the iterative nature of open-source projects leads to fostering a sense of teamwork between the founders, their team and investors and stakeholders.

Founder and investor Melissa Bradley outlines how to nail your virtual pitch meeting

Image Credits: Ureeka

Melissa Bradley is the co-founder of a startup called Ureeka, an investor at 1863 Ventures and a professor at Georgetown’s business school. So it’s not an understatement to say that she understands the fundraising process from every angle.

She both invested and fundraised for her own startup during this last year, where the landscape has shifted drastically. At TechCrunch Early Stage, she led a session on how to nail your virtual pitch meeting.

Bradley covered how to allocate your time during the meeting, how to prepare, how to close out the meetings with a clear list of action items and what to avoid.

Scale CEO Alex Wang and Accel’s Dan Levine explain why sometimes unconventional VC deals are best

Image Credits: Eric Millette / Scale AI

Scale CEO and co-founder Alex Wang credits its success since founding — which includes raising over $277 million and achieving breakeven status in terms of revenue — to early support from investors, including Accel’s Dan Levine.

Accel haș participated in four of Scale’s financing rounds, and Levine wrote one of the company’s very first checks. So on this past week’s episode of Extra Crunch Live, we spoke with Levine and Wang about how that first deal came together, and what their working relationship has been like in the years since.

 

Ride-hailing’s profitability promise is in its final countdown

Let’s parse Uber’s latest, vet its profit promise, consider its rivals and their performance, then ask ourselves if the great ride-hailing and food-delivery booms will ever make back the money they cost to scale.

 

UiPath’s first IPO pricing could be a warning to late-stage investors

Co-founder and CEO of UiPath Daniel Dines

Image Credits: Noam Galai/Getty Images

For UiPath, its initial IPO price interval is a disappointment, though the company could see an upward revision in its valuation before it does sell shares and begins to trade.

But more to the point, the company’s private-market valuation bump followed by a quick public-market correction stands out as a counter-example to something that we’ve seen so frequently in recent months.

Is UiPath’s first IPO price interval another indicator that the IPO market is cooling?

 

How to choose and deploy industry-specific AI models

Image of flow chart on a blackboard.

Image Credits: alexsl / Getty Images

As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, previously cutting-edge — but generic — AI models are becoming commonplace, such as Google Cloud’s Vision AI or Amazon Rekognition.

While effective in some use cases, these solutions do not suit industry-specific needs right out of the box. Organizations that seek the most accurate results from their AI projects will simply have to turn to industry-specific models.

Any team looking to expand its AI capabilities should first apply its data and use cases to a generic model and assess the results.

Let’s dive into each of these approaches and how businesses can decide which one works for their distinct circumstances.

Atomico’s talent partners share 6 tips for early-stage people ops success

Photo of Talent Partners Caro Chayot and Dan Hynes

Image Credits: Atomico

In the earliest stages of building a startup, it can be hard to justify focusing on anything other than creating a great product or service and meeting the needs of customers or users.

However, there are still a number of surefire measures that any early-stage company can and should put in place to achieve “people ops” success as they begin scaling, according to venture capital firm Atomico‘s talent partners, Caro Chayot and Dan Hynes.

Long story short: You need to recruit for what you need, but you also need to think about what is coming down the line.

5 questions about Grab’s epic SPAC investor deck

grab 1

Image Credits: Roslan Rahman/Getty Images

Southeast Asian superapp Grab is going public via a SPAC.

Grab, which provides ride-hailing, payments and food delivery, will trade under the ticker symbol “GRAB” on the Nasdaq exchange when the combination is complete.

Let’s walk through several key points from Grab’s SPAC investor deck, including growth, segment profitability, aggregate costs and COVID-19, among other factors.

Expect an even hotter AI venture capital market in the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal

Microsoft’s huge purchase of health tech AI company Nuance led the technology news cycle this week. The $19.7 billion transaction is Microsoft’s second-largest to date, only beaten by its purchase of LinkedIn some years ago.

For the AI space, the sale is a coup. Nuance was already a public company, but to see Microsoft offer a firm premium over its public-market value demonstrates the value that AI technology can have to wealthy companies. For startups working in the AI space, the Nuance deal is good news; the value of AI revenue was repriced by the acquisition’s announcement — and for the better.

In light of the megadeal, The Exchange dug into the AI venture capital market. What’s happening on the startup side of the coin in the artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) space?

What’s fueling hydrogen tech?

market-maps-hydrogen-fuel-cell

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

When the word “hydrogen” is uttered today, the average non-insider’s mind likely gravitates toward transportation — cars, buses, maybe trains or 18-wheelers, all powered by the gas.

But hydrogen is, and does, a lot of things, and a better understanding of its other roles — and challenges within those roles — is necessary to its success in transportation.

Hydrogen is now capturing the attention of governments and private sector players, fueled by new tech, global green energy legislation and post-pandemic “green recovery” schemes.

5 product lessons to learn before you write a line of code

Rearview shot of a young businesswoman having a brainstorming session in a modern office

Image Credits: LaylaBird / Getty Images

Before a startup can achieve product-market fit, founders must first listen to their customers, build what they require and fashion a business plan that makes the whole enterprise worthwhile.

The numbers will tell the true story, but when it happens, you’ll feel it in your bones because sales will be good, customers will be happy and revenue will be growing.

Reaching that tipping point can be a slog, especially for first-time founders. To uncover some basic truths about building products, we spoke to three entrepreneurs who have each built more than one company.

Inside the US’ epic first-quarter venture capital results

In broad strokes, the United States had a crushing venture capital start to the new year, pandemic be damned.

That is especially true when we consider 2020’s full-year figures. Last year, venture capitalists deployed some $166 billion into U.S.-based startups across 12,546 rounds. In contrast, if the first quarter’s pace was maintained during the rest of 2021, the United States would see around 16,000 rounds worth around $280 billion.

Of course, we cannot see the future, so those projections are merely shared to underscore how active the first quarter proved to be.

Dear Sophie: How can I get an H-1B without the lottery?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie:

For the past few years, our company has put very promising candidates into the annual H-1B lottery. None of them have been selected — and none of them meet the requirements for other work visas like an O-1A.

We lost out again in this year’s H-1B lottery. Are there any other ways we can obtain H-1Bs for our team members?

— Soldiering on in Sunnyvale

 

Alexa von Tobel outlines how founders should manage personal finances

Alexa von Tobel

Image Credits: Alexa von Tobel

Few people are more knowledgeable on the topic of how founders should manage their finances than Alexa von Tobel.

She is a certified financial planner, started her own company in the midst of the recession (which happened to be a wildly successful personal finance startup that sold for hundreds of millions of dollars) and is now a VC who invests and advises founders.

At Early Stage 2021, she gave a presentation on how founders should think about managing their own wealth. Startup founders can often put all their money into their venture and end up paying more attention to the finances of their company than their own bank account.

Von Tobel outlined the various steps you can take to stay out of debt, build credit and accumulate wealth through investments to ensure you have financial peace of mind as you take on the most stressful venture of your life: Starting a company.

How to pivot your startup, save cash and maintain trust with investors and customers

Olive CEO Sean Lane

Image Credits: Olive

A few years ago, founder Sean Lane thought he’d achieved product-market fit.

Speaking to attendees at TechCrunch’s Early Stage virtual event, Lane said Queue, a secure digital check-in tablet for hospital waiting rooms that reduced wait times by uniting and correcting electronic medical records, was “selling like hotcakes.” But once Lane realized it would only ever address one piece of a much bigger market opportunity, he sold off the product, laid off two-thirds of the people affiliated with it and redirected the employees who were left.

Lane explained that what he really wanted to build is what his company — since renamed Olive — has now become, a robotic process automation (RPA) company that takes on hospital workers’ most tedious tasks so nurses and physicians can spend more time with patients.

Building customer-first relationships in a privacy-first world is critical

Concept of knowledge, data and protection. Paper human head with pad lock.

Image Credits: jayk7 (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In business today, many believe that consumer privacy and business results are mutually exclusive — to excel in one area is to lack in the other. Consumer privacy is seen by many in the technology industry as an area to be managed.

But the truth is that the companies that champion privacy will be better-positioned to win in all areas. This is especially true as the digital industry continues to undergo tectonic shifts in privacy — both in government regulation and browser updates.

For startups choosing a platform, a decision looms: Build or buy?

Blank green arrow signs pointing in both directions on top of a metal post.

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

Founders shouldn’t be worried about starting companies that rely on other platforms.

Platforms exist to help startups get to users and customers faster and should be used as a means to an end, but everyone must get their piece.

Coinbase’s direct listing alters the landscape for fintech and crypto startups

Coinbase’s direct listing was a massive finance, startup and cryptocurrency event, and the transaction’s effects will be felt for some time in the public market, but also among the startups and capital that comprise the private market.

In the buildup to Coinbase’s flotation — and we’d argue especially after it released its blockbuster Q1 2021 results — there was a general expectation that the unicorn’s direct listing would provide a halo effect for other startups in the space.

The widely held perspective raised two questions: Will the success of Coinbase’s direct listing bolster private investment in crypto-focused startups, and will that success help other areas of financially focused startup work garner more investor attention?

Billion-dollar B2B: Cloud-first enterprise tech behemoths have massive potential

Abstract minimalist conceptual multiple coloured zig zag strip joined as one moving upwards on blue background.

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

The “billion-dollar B2B” paradigm refers to the forces shaping a new class of cloud-first, enterprise-tech behemoths with the potential to reach $1 billion in ARR — and achieve market capitalizations in excess of $50 billion or even $100 billion.

One of the biggest factors driving billion-dollar B2Bs is a simple but important shift in how organizations buy enterprise technology today.

How startups can ensure CCPA and GDPR compliance in 2021

Padlock in woman's hand. Data, information, property and security on the Internet concept. White background

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

Data is the most valuable asset for any business in 2021. If your business is online and collecting customer personal information, your business is dealing in data, which means data privacy compliance regulations will apply to everyone — no matter the company’s size.

Small startups might not think the world’s strictest data privacy laws — the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — apply to them, but it’s important to enact best data management practices before a legal situation arises.

Should Dell have pursued a more aggressive debt-reduction move with VMware?

Michael Dell, founder and chief executive officer of Dell Inc., speaks during the 2015 Dell World Conference in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Dell said trimming debt for the massive deal to combine his namesake company with EMC Corp. should progress relatively quickly in the next couple of years. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Image Credits: Bloomberg / Getty Images

When Dell announced it was spinning out VMware, the move itself wasn’t surprising; there had been public speculation for some time.

But Dell could have gone a number of ways in this deal, despite its choice to spin VMware out as a separate company with a constituent dividend instead of an outright sale.

It seems Dell hopes to have its cake and eat it too with this deal: It generates a large slug of cash to use for personal debt relief while securing a five-year commercial deal that should keep the two companies closely aligned.

What we all missed in UiPath’s latest IPO filing

Robotic process automation platform UiPath filed its first S-1/A this week, setting an initial price range for its shares. The numbers were impressive, if slightly disappointing because what UiPath indicated in terms of its potential IPO value was a lower valuation than it earned during its final private fundraising.

Here at The Exchange, we wondered if the somewhat slack news regarding UiPath’s potential IPO valuation was a warning to late-stage investors.

But in good news for UiPath shareholders, most everyone — ourselves included! — who discussed the company’s price range didn’t dig into the fact that the company first disclosed quarterly results to the same S-1/A filing that included its IPO valuation interval. And those numbers are very interesting, so much so that The Exchange is now generally expecting UiPath to target a higher price interval before it debuts.

But let’s dig into the company’s quarterly results to get a clearer picture of UiPath.

The IPO market is sending us mixed messages

If you only stayed up to date with the Coinbase direct listing this week, you’re forgiven. It was, after all, one heck of a flotation.

But underneath the cryptocurrency exchange’s public debut, other IPO news that matters did happen this week. And the news adds up to a somewhat muddled picture of the current IPO market.

To cap off the week, let’s run through IPO news from UiPath, Coinbase, Grab, AppLovin and Zenvia. The aggregate dataset should help you form your own perspective about where today’s IPO markets really are in terms of warmth for the often unprofitable unicorns of the world.

#applovin, #dell, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #fintech, #s-1, #startups, #tc, #uipath, #venture-capital

Coursera set to roughly double its private valuation in impending IPO

In a new S-1/A filing, Coursera set an initial IPO price range between $30 and $33 a share, signaling the market views its edtech business warmly ahead of its impending public offering.

Coursera will have 130,271,466 shares outstanding after its IPO, or 132,630,966 including its underwriters’ option. At $30 per share, the low end of the company’s IPO range and a share count inclusive of 2,359,500 shares reserved for its underwriting banks, the firm would be worth $3.98 billion. That number rises to $4.38 billion at $33 per share.

Coursera is being valued as a software company, likely a breathe-easy moment for still-private edtech companies, since the debut could be an industry bellwether.

This is a solid increase from Coursera’s last private-market valuation, which was around $2.4 billion when it raised a Series F round in October 2020.

For the bulls in the room, there’s a bigger valuation if you tinker with the numbers. In a fully diluted accounting, including in our calculation, shares that are issuable upon vested options and RSUs, Coursera’s share count rises to 166,006,474, or 168,365,974 if we count its underwriters’ option. At its most generous share count and highest projected price, Coursera’s valuation could reach $5.56 billion.

However, IPO-watching group Renaissance Capital comes to a smaller $5.1 billion figure for a midpoint-range, fully diluted valuation. That result excludes shares reserved for underwriters and equity currently present in vested RSUs.

Using the more modest $5.1 billion midpoint figure, Coursera would be worth around 17.5 times its 2020 revenue of $293.5 million. Using a run-rate figure calculated from the company’s Q4 2020 results, its multiple falls to just over 15x.

Coursera is therefore being valued as a software company, likely a breathe-easy moment for still-private edtech companies, since the debut could be an industry bellwether.

The valuation is also a vote of confidence that Coursera’s rising deficits are not even a valuation risk, let alone an existential threat to its business. In the four quarters of 2020, the edtech giant lost $14.3 million, $13.9 million, $11.9 million and $26.7 million, the final Q4 net loss being the largest among the time interval for which we have data.

From all appearances, investors are valuing Coursera on its growth, not its profitability — or lack thereof.

Helping push its losses higher are rising sales and marketing costs, something TechCrunch has written about in the past. In Q4 2019, for example, the company spent $16.7 million on sales and marketing activities. That figure rose to $35 million in Q4 2020.

#coursera, #ec-edtech, #ec-news-analysis, #edtech, #education, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #mooc, #s-1, #startups

A first look at Coursera’s S-1 filing

After TechCrunch broke the news yesterday that Coursera was planning to file its S-1 today, the edtech company officially dropped the document Friday evening.

Coursera was last valued at $2.4 billion by the private markets, when it most recently raised a Series F round in October 2020 that was worth $130 million.

Coursera’s S-1 filing offers a glimpse into the finances of how an edtech company, accelerated by the pandemic, performed over the past year. It paints a picture of growth, albeit one that came at steep expense.

Revenue

In 2020, Coursera saw $293.5 million in revenue. That’s a roughly 59% increase from the year prior when the company recorded $184.4 million in top line. During that same period, Coursera posted a net loss of nearly $67 million, up 46% from the previous year’s $46.7 million net deficit.

Notably the company had roughly the same non-cash, share-based compensation expenses in both years. And even if we allow the company to judge its profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis, Coursera’s losses still rose from 2019 to 2020, expanding from $26.9 million to $39.8 million.

To understand the difference between net losses and adjusted losses it’s worth unpacking the EBITDA acronym. Standing for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, EBITDA strips out some non-operating costs to give investors a possible better picture of the continuing health of a business, without getting caught up in accounting nuance. Adjusted EBITDA takes the concept one step further, also removing the non-cash cost of share-based compensation, and in an even more cheeky move, in this case also deducts “payroll tax expense related to stock-based activities” as well.

For our purposes, even when we grade Coursera’s profitability on a very polite curve it still winds up generating stiff losses. Indeed, the company’s adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of revenue — a way of determining profitability in contrast to revenue — barely improved from a 2019 result of -15% to -14% in 2020.

#coursera, #edtech, #fundings-exits, #s-1, #startups, #tc

Affirm files to go public

Affirm, a consumer finance business founded by PayPal mafia member Max Levchin, filed to go public this afternoon.

The company’s financial results show that Affirm, which doles out personalized loans on an installment basis to consumers at the point of sale, has an enticing combination of rapidly expanding revenues and slimming losses.

Growth and a path to profitability has been a winning duo in 2020 as a number of unicorns with similar metrics have seen strong pricing in their debuts, and winsome early trading. Affirm joins DoorDash and Airbnb in pursuing an exit before 2020 comes to a close.

Let’s get a scratch at its financial results, and what made those numbers possible.

Affirm’s financials

Affirm recorded impressive historical revenue growth. In its 2019 fiscal year, Affirm booked revenues of $264.4 million. Fast forward one year and Affirm managed top line of $509.5 million in fiscal 2020, up 93% from the year-ago period. Affirm’s fiscal year starts on July 1, a pattern that allows the consumer finance company to fully capture the U.S. end-of-year holiday season in its figures.

The San Francisco-based company’s losses have also narrowed over time. In its 2019 fiscal year, Affirm lost $120.5 million on a fully-loaded basis (GAAP). That loss slightly fell to $112.6 million in fiscal 2020.

More recently, in its first quarter ending September 30, 2020, Affirm kept up its pattern of rising revenues and falling losses. In that three-month period, Affirm’s revenue totaled $174.0 million, up 98% compared to the year-ago quarter. That pace of expansion is faster than the company managed in its most recent full fiscal year.

Accelerating revenue growth with slimming losses is investor catnip; Affirm has likely enjoyed a healthy tailwind in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic boosting ecommerce, and thus gave the unicorn more purchase in the realm of consumer spend.

Again, comparing the company’s most recent quarter to its year-ago analog, Affirm’s net losses dipped to just $15.3 million, down from $30.8 million.

Affirm’s financials on a quarterly basis — located on page 107 of its S-1 if you want to follow along — give us a more granular understanding of how the fintech company performed amidst the global pandemic. After an enormous fourth quarter in calendar year 2019, growing its revenues to $130.0 million from $87.9 million in the previous quarter, Affirm managed to keep growing in the first, second, and third calendar quarters of 2020. In those periods, the consumer fintech unicorn recorded a top line of $138.2 million, $153.3 million, and $174 million, as we saw before.

Perhaps best of all, the firm turned a profit of $34.8 million in the quarter ending June 30, 2020. That one-time profit, along with its slim losses in its most recent period make Affirm appear to be a company that won’t hurt for future net income, provided that it can keep growing as efficiently as it has recently.

The COVID-19 angle

The pandemic has had more impact on Affirm than its raw revenue figures can detail. Luckily its S-1 filing has more notes on how the company adapted and thrived during this Black Swan year.

Certain sectors provided the company with fertile ground for its loan service. Affirm said that it saw an increase in revenue from merchants focused on home-fitness equipment, office products, and home furnishings during the pandemic. For example, its top merchant partner, Peloton, represented approximately 28% of its total revenue for the 2020 fiscal year, and 30% of its total revenue for the three months ending September 30, 2020.

Peloton is a success story in 2020, seeing its share price rise sharply as its growth accelerated across an uptick in digital fitness.

Investors, while likely content to cheer Affirm’s rapid growth, may cast a gimlet eye at the company’s dependence for such a large percentage of its revenue from a single customer; especially one that is enjoying its own pandemic-boost. If its top merchant partner losses momentum, Affirm will feel the repercussions, fast.

Regardless, Affirm’s model is resonating with customers. We can see that in its gross merchandise volume, or total dollar amount of all transactions that it processes.

GMV at the startup has grown considerably year-over-year, as you likely expected given its rapid revenue growth. On page 22 of its S-1, Affirm indicates that in its 2019 fiscal year, GMV reached $2.62 billion, which scaled to $4.64 billion in 2020.

Akin to the company’s revenue growth, its GMV did not grow by quite 100% on a year-over-year basis. What made that growth possible? Reaching new customers. As of September 30, 2020, Affirm has more than 3.88 million “active customers,” which the company defines as a “consumer who engages in at least one transaction on our platform during the 12 months prior to the measurement date.” That figure is up from 2.38 million in the September 30, 2019 quarter.

The growth is nice by itself, but Affirm customers are also becoming more active over time, which provides a modest compounding effect. In its most recent quarters, active customers executed an average of 2.2 transactions, up from 2.0 in third quarter of calendar 2019.

Also powering Affirm has been an ocean of private capital. For Affirm, having access to cash is not quite the same as a strictly-software company, as it deals with debt, which likely gives the company a slightly higher predilection for cash than other startups of similar size.

Luckily for Affirm, it has been richly funded throughout its life as a private company. The fintech unicorn has raised funds well in excess of $1 billion before its IPO, including a $500 million Series G in September of 2020, a $300 million Series F in April of 2019, and a $200 million Series E in December of 2017. Affirm also raised more than $400 million in earlier equity rounds, and a $100 million debt line in late 2016.

What to make of the filing? Our first-read take is that Affirm is coming out of the private markets as a healthier business than the average unicorn. Sure, it has a history of operating losses and not yet proven its ability to turn a sustainable profit, but its accelerating revenue growth is promising, as are its falling losses.

More tomorrow, with fresh eyes.

#affirm, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #public, #s-1, #startups

Inside fintech startup Upstart’s IPO filing

While the world awaits the Airbnb IPO filing that could come as early as next week, Upstart dropped its own S-1 filing. The fintech startup facilitates loans between consumers and partner banks, an operation that attracted around $144 million in capital prior to its IPO.

First Round Capital, Khosla Ventures, Third Point Ventures, Rakuten and The Progressive Corporation led rounds in the startup, according to Crunchbase data.

There’s quite a lot to like in Upstart’s IPO filing, including rapidly advancing revenues and recent profitable period. However, the company’s revenue concentration could be a concern to some investors who recall what recently happened to Fastly shares after losing a large customer.

PitchBook data indicates that the company was last valued at $750 million thanks to its 2019 Series D worth $50 million. Can Upstart reach unicorn status with its IPO? Let’s peek at the numbers and try to answer the question.

Results, earnings

Upstart’s technology uses what it describes as artificial intelligence (AI) to approve consumer loans. It collects consumer demand for credit and connects that demand to bank partners who fund the loans. The company’s AI-powered credit tool can give consumers “higher approval rates [and] lower interest rates,” according to its S-1 filing, which offers banks “access to new customers, lower fraud and loss rates, and increased automation.”

If Upstart’s AI tool can, in fact, more intelligently determine consumer creditworthiness, everyone could come out a winner, with consumers paying less and banks adding to their loan books without taking on outsized risk.

#aerospace, #artificial-intelligence, #finance, #fintech, #first-round-capital, #fundings-exits, #online-lending, #s-1, #startups, #tc, #upstart

Vista-owned backup and recovery company Datto files to go public

When Vista Equity Partners acquired backup and disaster recovery firm Datto in 2017, it was easy to think that was the end of the company’s story. It would be comfortably absorbed into the private equity portfolio continuing to make money for the firm, but that’s not really the way Vista works. It tends to build up its companies, sometimes eventually taking them public, and yesterday that’s what happened when Datto filed its S-1.

Datto has been busy since it was acquired and reports a healthy $507 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) along with 17,000 managed service provider (MSP) customers. Among those, it has more than 1000 customers contributing over $100,000 in ARR. MSPs are service providers that act as a company’s IT department when they don’t have internal resources.

The company has included a standard $100M placeholder for the amount they intend to raise for the event, and that will almost certainly change. In a nod to its manage service provider customer base, the company’s ticker symbol will be MSP.

When the company raised its $75 million Series B in 2015, CEO and founder Austin McChord, who is still leading the company today, said that the company was already profitable at that point, two years before Vista came knocking. “As a profitable company, Datto isn’t raising capital to fund operations, but instead, to enter new markets and build new products and technology,” he said in a statement at the time.

You can see that in the company’s financials. In the first six months of 2020, the company had subscription revenues of $234 million and a gross profit of $178 million. When sales and marketing and other costs are added in, the company had a net income of $10 million. That’s compared to $196 million in subscription revenue in the same period of 2019, a gross profit of $143 million, and a net loss of about $26 million.

In short, the company has managed to grow topline revenue, keep its cost of revenues flat, and manage the growth of its other expenses to limit their effect on the bottom line. That swung its net income per share from -$0.19 to $0.07.

Of course, companies like Datto always try to make the numbers look good in preparation for a public offering, so the real understanding will come in the next few quarters as we see if Datto can sustain its growth and keep expenses in check.

When I spoke to Alan Cline, senior managing director at Vista last year, he said his firm tends to like high performing startups like Datto that have built substantial companies.

“Software is the easiest place to innovate inside of technology. We see a huge advantage in terms of the productivity that it drives for the end business customer, and to us that high ROI is powerful because whether it’s up market or a down market, if I can prove to you you’re going to make more money or save money in your own operations by using my software, you can find the budget,” Cline told TechCrunch.

Just last year another company in the Vista portfolio, Ping Identity, filed to go public for the same $100 million placeholder, eventually offering 12.5 million shares at $15 per share. Today the company is trading at $31.68 per share with a market cap of over $2.5 billion.

#backup, #cloud, #datto, #disaster-recovery, #exit, #fundings-exits, #ipos, #managed-service-providers, #s-1, #startups, #tc, #vista-equity-partners

The bullish case for Palantir’s direct listing

The Palantir S-1 finally dropped yesterday after TechCrunch spilled a bunch of its guts last Friday. You can read the filing here, if you are so inclined.

Today, however, instead of our usual overview, I have a different goal: We’re going to be a bit more specific.

It’s fun and easy to clown on Palantir’s ridiculous ownership structure, in which a few dudes have decided that, in perpetuity, they must remain co-Lords of the Ring. And, sure, the company is smaller in terms of revenue-scale than many expected (a bit more Hobbiton than Bree, really). And, yes, its net losses are somewhat staggering (post-Helm’s Deep Saruman?), reaching nearly 100% of revenue in 2018.

But things have gotten better in Palantir-land (Mordor?) in recent quarters, which we should note.

So, in light of the generally negative reviews of Palantir’s finances (similar to what is left of Moria?) that I’ve seen in the media and from investors both publicly and privately, here are the bullish bits about the impending direct listing.

The good stuff

In brief, falling net losses in absolute and percent-of-revenue terms paint the picture of a company that is past a high-burn period, allowing profitability to continue to improve; improving gross margins point to a company that is less service-focused and more software-driven over time; the company’s falling operating cash burn is encouraging, and new customer revenue appears sharply higher in 2020 than 2019.

Let’s examine each in order:

  • Falling net losses in absolute terms: Palantir lost fractionally less money in 2019 than 2018, but it was a decline all the same. More recently, the first two quarters of 2020 have seen Palantir cut its net loss from $280.5 million in 2019 to $164.7 million. Even better, the company grew during the same period, which means that in percent-of-revenue terms, Palantir did even better.

    #direct-listing, #fundings-exits, #palantir, #palantir-technologies, #peter-thiel, #revenue, #s-1, #startups, #tc

Everyone filed to go public Monday

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We’re back out of sequence, because literally every company you can name (well, almost) dropped an S-1 yesterday so we had to sit down and parse them out a bit. That so many filings dropped during the same two days when we had Y Combinator’s two-day Demo Day at the same time meant that we were all a bit punchdrunk, but we rallied.

Natasha and Danny and Chris and myself all piled back onto the mics to dig through all the numbers. Here’s a rundown of the companies we went through:

  • Palantir, which filed its formal S-1 during our recording session. Danny covered most of the news last Friday, but the public doc is now live, so happy sleuthing.
  • Unity’s huge IPO that shows how big gaming is. Natasha connected it to the broader Apple-Epic dustup, and we all reviled in its growth results.
  • Snowflake had Danny so excited he was conjuring scripted segues, and we were all impressed at its historical growth. Sure, it lost a lot of money last year, but, hey, Snowflake has dialed that back as well.
  • And then there was Asana, a company I’ve covered quite a lot over the years. Our general take is that the company’s growth has been good, if it is losing more money than we anticipated. Still, Asana could set a neat new precedent of raising debt ahead of a direct listing. This is one to watch.
  • And then we spent a little time on JFrog and Sumo Logic (more here), because we are nothing if not completionists.

Got all of that? It was a lot of facts to get through, but we did our best and we hope this helps. More tomorrow as we talk Y Combinator with a special guest host. Chat tomorrow!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#asana, #direct-listing, #equity, #ipo, #jfrog, #palantir, #podcasts, #s-1, #snowflake-computing, #sumo-logic, #unity-technologies, #venture-capital

Industry experts say it’s full speed ahead as Snowflake files S-1 to go public

When Snowflake filed its S-1 to go public yesterday, it wasn’t exactly a shock. The company which raised $1.4 billion had been valued at $12.4 billion in its last private raise in February. CEO Frank Slootman, who had taken over from Bob Muglia in May last year, didn’t hide the fact that going public was the end game.

When we spoke to him in February at the time of his mega $479 million raise, he was candid about the fact he wanted to take his company to the next level, and predicted it could happen as soon as this summer. In spite of the pandemic and the economic fallout from it, the company decided now was the time to go — as did 4 other companies yesterday including J Frog, Sumo Logic, Unity and Asana.

If you haven’t been following this company as it went through its massive private fund raising process, investors see a company taking a way to store massive amounts of data and moving it to the cloud. This concept is known as a cloud data warehouse as it it stores immense amounts of data.

While the Big 3 cloud companies all offer something similar, Snowflake has the advantage of working on any cloud, and at a time where data portability is highly valued, enables customers to shift data between clouds.

We spoke to several industry experts to get their thoughts on what this filing means for Snowflake, which after taking a blizzard of cash, has to now take a great idea and shift it into the public markets.

Pandemic? What pandemic?

Big market opportunities usually require big investments to build companies that last, that typically go public, and that’s why investors were willing to pile up the dollars to help Snowflake grow. Blake Murray, a research analyst at Canalys says the pandemic is actually working in the startup’s favor as more companies are shifting workloads to the cloud.

“We know that demand for cloud services is higher than ever during this pandemic, which is an obvious positive for Snowflake. Snowflake also services multi-cloud environments, which we see in increasing adoption. Considering the speed it is growing at and the demand for its services, an IPO should help Snowflake continue its momentum,” Murray told TechCrunch.

Leyla Seka, a partner at Operator Collective, who spent many years at Salesforce agrees that the pandemic is forcing many companies to move to the cloud faster than they might have previously. “COVID is a strange motivator for enterprise SaaS. It is speeding up adoption in a way I have never seen before,” she said.

It’s clear to Seka that we’ve moved quickly past the early cloud adopters, and it’s in the mainstream now where a company like Snowflake is primed to take advantage. “Keep in mind, I was at Salesforce for years telling businesses their data was safe in the cloud. So we certainly have crossed the chasm, so to speak and are now in a rapid adoption phase,” she said.

So much coopetition

The fact is Snowflake is in an odd position when it comes to the big cloud infrastructure vendors. It both competes with them on a product level, and as a company that stores massive amounts of data, it is also an excellent customer for all of them. It’s kind of a strange position to be in says Canalys’ Murray.

“Snowflake both relies on the infrastructure of cloud giants — AWS, Microsoft and Google — and competes with them. It will be important to keep an eye on the competitive dynamic even although Snowflake is a large customer for the giants,” he explained.

Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna agrees, but says the IPO should help Snowflake take on these companies as they expand their own cloud data warehouse offerings. He added that in spite of that competition, Snowflake is holding its own against the big companies. In fact, he says that it’s the number one cloud data warehouse clients inquire about, other than Amazon RedShift. As he points out, Snowflake has some key advantages over the cloud vendors’ solutions.

“Based on Forrester Wave research that compared over a dozen vendors, Snowflake has been positioned as a Leader. Enterprises like Snowflake’s ease of use, low cost, scalability and performance capabilities. Unlike many cloud data warehouses, Snowflake can run on multiple clouds such as Amazon, Google or Azure, giving enterprises choices to choose their preferred provider.”

Show them more money

In spite of the vast sums of money the company has raised in the private market, it had decided to go public to get one final chunk of capital. Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy says that if the company is going to succeed in the broader market, it needs to expand beyond pure cloud data warehousing, in spite of the huge opportunity there.

“Snowflake needs the funding as it needs to expand its product footprint to encompass more than just data warehousing. It should be focused less on niches and more on the entire data lifecycle including data ingest, engineering, database and AI,” Moorhead said.

Forrester’s Yuhanna agrees that Snowflake needs to look at new markets and the IPO will give it the the money to do that. “The IPO will help Snowflake expand it’s innovation path, especially to support new and emerging business use cases, and possibly look at new market opportunities such as expanding to on-premises to deliver hybrid-cloud capabilities,” he said.

It would make sense for the company to expand beyond its core offerings as it heads into the public markets, but the cloud data warehouse market is quite lucrative on its own. It’s a space that has required a considerable amount of investment to build a company, but as it heads towards its IPO, Snowflake is should be well positioned to be a successful company for years to come.

#cloud, #cloud-data-warehouse, #enterprise, #exit, #frank-slootman, #fundings-exits, #s-1, #saas, #snowflake, #startups, #tc

Palantir’s S-1 alludes to controversial work with ICE as a risk factor for its business

Palantir’s mysterious work and its founding origins with Trump ally and anti-press crusader Peter Thiel have inspired a number of controversies in recent years, none as divisive as its ongoing business with ICE. But with a direct listing around the corner, the famously secretive company is in for a lot more scrutiny.

In Palantir’s forthcoming S-1 filing, obtained by TechCrunch, the soon-to-be-public company addresses concerns about managing its brand reputation as some of its contracts attract unwanted attention. Palantir makes the fairly combative claim in the risks portion of the unpublished financial filing that its business could be harmed by “coverage that presents, or relies on, inaccurate, misleading, incomplete, or otherwise damaging information” about the company:

“As our business has grown and as interest in Palantir and the technology industry overall has increased, we have attracted, and may continue to attract, significant attention from news and social media outlets, including unfavorable coverage and coverage that is not directly attributable to statements authorized by our leadership, that incorrectly reports on statements made by our leadership or employees and the nature of our work, perpetuates unfounded speculation about company involvements, or that is otherwise misleading.”

The filing also states that the company has its hands tied in responding to these hypothetical misleading reports due to the “sensitive nature” of its contracts and confidentiality requirements.

Incomplete reporting is inevitable for a company that’s largely shrouded the nature of its business from the public eye. Historically, any information that trickles out about Palantir’s work with U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies comes from FOIAs, like one that recently produced a user manual for Palantir Gotham, the company’s signature software platform developed for defense and intelligence agencies.

Palantir acknowledges that activists and the press have taken a special interest in the company due to its work with “organizations whose products or activities are or are perceived to be harmful.” The S-1 of course doesn’t name Palantir’s work with ICE specifically, but that contract has attracted a swarm of scrutiny, both from outsider observers and employees within the company. The filing notes that unspecified relationships have resulted in public criticism and “unfavorable coverage” of the company.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Palantir employees were reckoning with the company’s work for the aggressive U.S. immigration agency, “[debating] the ICE contracts in town hall meetings, office hallways, Slack channels and email threads.”

While other tech companies have yielded to critics of defense and law enforcement work, Palantir instead has grown its most controversial contracts over time. The company’s S-1 discusses that decision making process:

“Activists have also engaged in public protests at our properties. Activist criticism of our relationships with customers could potentially engender dissatisfaction among potential and existing customers, investors, and employees with how we address political and social concerns in our business activities.

Conversely, being perceived as yielding to activism targeted at certain customers could damage our relationships with certain customers, including governments and government agencies with which we do business, whose views may or may not be aligned with those of political and social activists.”

In 2018, as the tech industry grappled with the ethical implications of lucrative federal defense work, more than 200 employees wrote a letter to Palantir CEO Alex Karp expressing their concerns over its ICE contracts. Palantir has two current contracts with ICE, one for the agency’s Investigative Case Management (ICM) internal database and another for software known as FALCON. Combined, those contracts are worth as much as $92 million.

Palantir makes a sizable chunk of its revenue by selling U.S. agencies software that weaves together data streams to monitor individuals, but the company draws a thick line at helping China do the same.

“We do not work with the Chinese communist party and have chosen not to host our platforms in China, which may limit our growth prospects,” the S-1 states, calling work with China “inconsistent” with the company’s aims and culture.

“We do not consider any sales opportunities with the Chinese communist party, do not host our platforms in China, and impose limitations on access to our platforms in China in order to protect our intellectual property, to promote respect for and defend privacy and civil liberties protections, and to promote data security.”

Palantir’s anti-China stance isn’t necessarily surprising given Thiel’s penchant for ominous warnings about Chinese tech dominance — a position that also happens to bolster his relationship with a White House that’s since kicked off an unusual crusade against Chinese social media giant TikTok. Still, it’s strange, noteworthy and a sign of the times to see a refusal to do business with China articulated explicitly in a tech company’s S-1.

#china, #government, #palantir, #peter-thiel, #s-1, #tc

Unpacking the Sumo Logic S-1 filing

Setting our dive into Palantir’s gross margins aside for another day, Sumo Logic filed to go public this morning. The Redwood City-based, former startup raised around $340 million while private, according to Crunchbase data.


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


Sumo Logic parses information collected from its customers’ enterprise apps and integrations to help them pinpoint operational and security issues and lets them dashboard additional elements as they wish. The company claims in its S-1 that its code is “continuous intelligence,” which it brands as “a new category of software.”

Our own Ron Miller summarized Sumo Logic as a “cloud data analytics and log analysis company” when it raised a $110 million Series G last May. At the time, it was valued at north of $1 billion, making it a unicorn.

Sumo Logic’s IPO has been in its plans for some time. We can see this in a 2017 TechCrunch headline noting that Sumo had then raised $75 million, and was “on path” to a public offering. So, how healthy is the company, and what have its investors bought with about a third of a billion dollars in capital? Let’s find out.

Sumo Logic’s financial performance

Up top: Sumo Logic operates on a fiscal calendar that ends January 31 of each calendar year. This is super standard for SaaS companies as it allows the firm to not wrap its year during the holiday period. This is good for sales teams and so forth.

#cloud, #fundings-exits, #information-technology, #institutional-venture-partners, #network-management, #s-1, #saas, #sapphire-ventures, #startups, #sumo-logic, #system-administration, #tc, #the-exchange

Sources say Palantir will have a lockup period after its direct listing

This morning, we published exclusive, leaked details about Palantir’s much anticipated S-1 filing, including the company’s revenues, margins, operating loss, and government/commercial contract breakdown.

One aspect that we didn’t cover much though was the actual process the company intends to use to float its shares on the stock exchange. Rumors have flown for weeks that the company intends to pursue a direct listing, probably targeting mid-to-late September.

Direct listings are different from the standard IPO process in that there are no new shares offered to the public, the company doesn’t raise money, and typically, employees and insiders have no lockup period. The lockup period in a typical IPO is around six months, although it can be a year or longer in special cases. Given there are no new shares and no lockups, trades after a direct listing are literally any shares offered by insiders for sale.

That can lead to volatility, and that volatility is one reason why some companies have been hesitant to go the direct listing route — without lockups, employees and venture capitalists could theoretically quickly dump their shares, tanking the stock straight out of the gate and harming the perception of its long-term value.

For strong companies though, the open free-for-all makes sense. For instance, when Spotify executed its direct listing in early 2018, the company had no lockup period for its insiders except for one large shareholder Tencent. Slack, which pursued a direct listing in mid-2019, similarly had effectively no lockup. Both companies have performed admirably since their public debuts.

However, according to multiple sources who have seen its prospectus documents, Palantir intends to have a lockup period on its shares. One source did confirm that the company will pursue a direct listing, although we have not been able to verify that with multiple sources.

The combination of a direct listing and a lockup period would be novel, and represents a turn away from the more employee-friendly tactics that have been pioneered by Slack and Spotify.

The lockup will almost certainly help stabilize Palantir’s stock post-debut, which will be less volatile since insiders won’t be able to trade their shares. However, it is definitely not a vote of confidence that a 17-year-old company thinks it needs to control the selling decisions of its workforce and investors in order to maintain its share price on the public markets.

As before, the company’s S-1 is clearly in the offing, and we will have more details on the specifics when the official docs are filed with the SEC.

#direct-listing, #palantir, #s-1, #tc

Leaked S-1 screenshots show Palantir losing $579M in 2019

Palantir filed an S-1 confidentially to the SEC in early July, but we have so far been waiting for the final document to be published for weeks now with nary a murmur. Now, thanks to some leaked screenshots to TechCrunch from a Palantir shareholder, we might have some top-line numbers.

In screenshots of a draft S-1 statement dated yesterday (August 20), Palantir is listed as generating revenues of roughly $742 million in 2019 (Palantir’s fiscal year is a calendar year). That revenue was up from $595 million in 2018, a gain of roughly 25%. That’s growth, although not particularly great given some of the massive SaaS growth we have seen in recent IPOs like Datadog.

The company’s revenue is a disappointment, after the company was reported to have been on the cusp of $1 billion in revenue for years. Private companies, of course, do not normally disclose their financial results, but the company’s size falls far short of expectations, leaks and other reports.

The real shocker though in these numbers is when you head to the bottom of the company’s revenue statement. In the screenshots of the company’s financials, Palantir lists a net loss of roughly $580 million for 2019, which is almost identical to its loss in 2018. The company listed a net loss percentage of 97% for 2018, improving to a loss of 78% for last year.

The company’s $580 million loss during the period shows at once why the company has needed to raise billions to-date, and how far it has yet to go until it can self-sustain.

Gross profit for 2019 was roughly $500 million, about 16% higher than in 2018. The company’s big expense is around sales and marketing, which was roughly $450 million for both years and represented 61% of revenue in 2019.

The company’s revenue breakdown is particularly interesting because it finally answers the question about how much it relies on government contracts and if it’s trying to diversify. Palantir is widely known for its government contracting, but in recent years, the company has tried to expand its data products into the private sector.

According to the leaked screenshots shown to TechCrunch, Palantir disclosed its revenue breakdown for the first six months of 2019 and the first six months of 2020. For the first half of this year, Palantir generated $258 million in government-derived revenue (53.5%), compared to $224 million in commercial revenue (46.5%). In 2019, government revenue was $146 million (45%) and commercial revenue was $177 million (55%).

That’s actually quite out-of-sync with some of the public comments the company has made about reducing reliance on government contracts for its revenues. The company’s government revenues are higher today both in absolute totals and relatively speaking, begging the question whether its products are competitive in the enterprise space outside of its traditional bastion in government services.

While there is no firm date for the Palantir S-1 that we know of, given the financials are apparently floating around out there, expect it to come sooner rather than later.

We have reached out to a Palantir PR contact for comment, who declined to comment.

#finance, #ipo, #palantir, #s-1

3 questions for Lemonade’s IPO

While we await a fresh IPO filing from heavily backed insurtech startup Lemonade, let’s talk a little more about its public offering.

Since our first dig into its S-1 filing, TechCrunch has spoken to a number of investors and operators in Lemonade’s space to find out if our initial read was off — were we being too generous or too kind to Lemonade after reading its somewhat complex financial results?


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The short answer is not really, though there are some positive notes and themes worth highlighting. This morning, let’s ask three questions about Lemonade’s IPO filing that will help us understand what’s ahead for the SoftBank-backed unicorn.

Three questions

1. How quickly can Lemonade accelerate its rental insurance graduation rate?

On the theme of things that bode well for Lemonade is its ability to “graduate” customers from low-cost rental insurance to more lucrative products.

In its S-1 filing, Lemonade noted this fact early on. After stating that a “an entry-level $60 a year [rental] policy [corresponds] to $10,000 of possessions,” the company said that as its customers age, they tend to buy more insurance and sometimes swap rental plans for homeowner policies. Moving from the former to the latter is graduating in the company’s parlance.

If many customers moved from rental insurance to homeowner insurance while keeping Lemonade as their provider, the company could do very well, as illustrated by this section of its SEC filing:

#extra-crunch, #fundings-exits, #insurtech, #lemonade, #market-analysis, #s-1, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange