#Brandneu – Jokr, der Gorillas-Klon von Foodpanda-Gründer Ralf Wenzel


Jetzt offiziell: Foodpanda-Gründer Ralf Wenzel, zuletzt Managing Partner bei SoftBank, setzt mit Jokrwie bereits Anfang März im Insider-Podcast berichtet – nun voll und ganz auf das boomende Flash-Supermarkt-Konzept im Stil von Gorillas, goPuff und Co. HV Capital, Tiger Global und auch Softbank (SoftBank Latin America Fund) investieren bereits in das junge Unternehmen mit Sitz in Luxemburg, dass die Idee insbesondere in Emerging Markets bringen möchte.

In Mexiko City, der peruanischen Hauptstadt Lima und in der brasilianischen Metropole São Paolo ist Jokr bereits aktiv. Auf der Agenda stehen zudem bereits New York (USA), Bogota (Kolumbien) und “weitere Städte in Europa und Lateinamerika”. Für Warschau etwa sucht Jokr bereits Mitarbeiter:innen. In Deutschland wird Jokr dagegen vorerst nicht starten. Gorillas und Jokr gehen sich somit vorerst ein wenig aus dem Weg. In New York allerdings kommt es zum Wettbewerb zwischen den Anbietern, denn auch Gorillas plant den Start in der Metropole.

“We are building an Amazon on steroids”, sagt Wenzel der Nachrichten-Agentur Reuters zum offiziellen Start des neuen Unternehmens, das Lebensmittel innerhalb von wenigen Minuten vor die Haustür seiner Kunden liefert. Mit diesem Konzept sammelte Gorillas aus Berlin zuletzt 244 Millionen ein und stieg nicht einmal ein Jahr nach dem Start zum Unicorn auf. Welche Summe die prominenten Geldgeber in Jokr investieren, verkündet die Jungfirma nicht. In der Szene kursierte aber schon vor Wochen eine Investmentsumme von rund rund 100 Millionen Dollar.

“Der globale Einzelhandel befindet sich an einem Wendepunkt. Die nächste Generation des Einkaufens ist online, personalisierter und hochgradig lokalisiert, mit sofortiger Lieferung innerhalb von Minuten, und zwar über alle Produktkategorien hinweg. Jokr erfindet den Einzelhandel neu, indem wir das Einkaufserlebnis intelligenter, schneller und angenehmer gestalten und gleichzeitig dem Kunden ein wertvolles Gut zurückgeben: seine Zeit. Unsere Plattform liefert Bestellungen innerhalb von 15 Minuten, ohne Mindestbestellwert. Unser Ziel ist es, Kunden rund um die Welt ein völlig neuartiges Einkaufserlebnis zu bieten”, sagt Wenzel hochtrabend in der offiziellen Presseaussendung des Startups.

Tipp: 5 Dinge, die jeder über das ganz schnelle Unicorn Gorillas wissen sollte

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #brandneu, #e-commerce, #hv-capital, #jokr, #luxemburg, #softbank, #tiger-global

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Goldman Sachs leads $23M in funding for Brazilian e-commerce startup Olist

Olist, a Brazilian e-commerce marketplace integrator, has raised $23 million in a Series D round extension led by new investor Goldman Sachs Asset Management that brings its total Series D financing to $80 million.

Existing backer Redpoint Ventures, which first put money in Olist in 2015, also participated in the latest round. With this latest infusion, Olist has now raised over $126 million since its 2015 inception. This round is reportedly its last before the company plans to go public, according to Bloomberg.

SoftBank led the first tranch of Olist’s Series D in November as well as the company’s $46 million Series C in 2019. Valor Capital, Velt Partners, FJ Labs, Península and angel Kevin Efrusy had previously invested in the first tranche of the Series D.

Olist connects small businesses to larger product marketplaces to help entrepreneurs sell their products to a larger customer base. The company was founded with the mission of helping small merchants gain market share across the country through a SaaS licensing model to small brick and mortar businesses.

As of October 2019, Olist had more than 7,000 customers and used a drop-shipping model to send products directly from stores to clients around the country, allowing them to grow with a capital-light model.

Today, Olist says its platform provides tools that support “all the stages of an e-commerce operation” with the goal of helping merchants see “rapid increases in sales volume.” It currently has about 25,000 merchants on its platform.

The startup is no doubt benefiting from the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom taking place all over the world as more people have turned to online shopping. Latin America, in general, has been home to increased e-commerce adoption. The region’s $85 billion e-commerce market is growing rapidly with projections of it reaching $116.2 billion in 2023.

As evidence of that, Olist says its revenue tripled to a record number in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year, although it did not provide hard figures. It also reportedly doubled revenue in 2020, according to Bloomberg.

Olist Store, the company’s flagship product, gives merchants a way to manage product listings, logistics and store payments. It also offers “a unique sales experience” through channels such as Mercado Livre, B2W and Via Varejo. The product saw a record GMV in the first half of the year, which was up 2.5 times over the same period in the prior year, the company said.

Last year, Olist launched a new product, Olist Shops, giving users the ability to create a virtual showcase “in less than 3 minutes” that also offers payment checkout tools and integration with logistics operators. Shops has interfaces in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and since its launch, it has attracted more than 200,000 users in 180 countries, according to Olist.

“The pandemic has accelerated digitalizing business processes around the world, thus spurring e-commerce growth in a surprising way,” said Tiago Dalvi, Olist’s founder and CEO, in a written statement. 

The company plans to use its new capital to invest in technology and products, pursuing new mergers and acquisitions and boosting its internationalization process. This is on top of two acquisitions Olist made last year — Clickspace and Pax Logistica, which gave Olist entry into the heated logistics space with more than 4,000 registered drivers.

Specifically, CFO Eduardo Ferraz said the company is in preliminary discussions with ERPs, retailers, and companies with complementary solutions to its own.

“That is why we also decided to expand the investment in our Series D and bring Goldman Sachs as another relevant investor to our cap table,” he said.

David Castelblanco, managing director and head of Latin America Corporate and Growth Equity Investing for the Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said his firm was impressed with how Olist empowers SMBs to generate more revenue.

“Tiago and the Olist team are incredibly customer oriented and have created an innovative technological solution for their e-commerce clients,” he added.

Olist is operating in an increasingly crowded space. In March, we covered São Paulo-based Nuvemshop’s $90 million raise that was led by Silicon Valley venture firm Accel. That company has developed an e-commerce platform that aims to allow SMBs and merchants to connect more directly with their consumers. 

#accel, #banks, #brazil, #ceo, #cfo, #companies, #e-commerce, #finance, #fj-labs, #goldman-sachs, #kevin-efrusy, #latin-america, #olist, #online-shopping, #opera, #redpoint-ventures, #sao-paulo, #series-d, #softbank, #tc, #valor-capital

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SoftBank in talks to invest up to $500 million in Swiggy

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 is in advanced stages of talks to invest up to half a billion dollars into food delivery startup Swiggy, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The new investment values the Indian startup at over $5.5 billion, the sources said.

The new investment is on top of $800 million fundraise Swiggy unveiled earlier this month.

Swiggy and SoftBank declined to comment.

The new investment talks come amid Zomato raising $910 million in recent months as the Gurgaon-headquartered firm prepares for an IPO this year. The last tranche of investment valued Zomato at $5.4 billion. During its fundraise, Zomato said it was raising money partially to fight off “any mischief or price wars from our competition in various areas of our business.”

A third player, Amazon, also entered the food delivery market in India last year, though its operations are still limited to parts of Bangalore.

At stake is India’s food delivery market, which analysts at Bernstein expect to balloon to be worth $12 billion by 2022, they wrote in a report to clients earlier this year. Zomato currently leads the market with about 50% market share, Bernstein analysts wrote.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#asia, #funding, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #swiggy

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Indian fintech Zeta turns unicorn with SoftBank-led funding

Bangalore-based fintech startup Zeta has clinched the much sought-after unicorn status after finalizing a new financing round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 has led a ~$250 million Series D round in the five-year-old Indian startup, the sources said. The new round valued the Indian startup, co-founded by high-profile entrepreneur Bhavin Turakhia, at about $1.3 billion, up from $300 million in its maiden external funding (Series C) in 2019.

A SoftBank spokesperson declined to comment. Turakhia didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Five-year-old Zeta helps banks launch modern retail and fintech products. The thesis is that banks — largely operating on antiquated technologies — today don’t have the time and expertise to offer the best experience to hundreds of millions of customers and fintech firms they serve.

Zeta is attempting to help banks either use the startup’s cloud-native, API-first banking stack as its core framework or build services atop it to offer better a experience to all customers — think of improved mobile app and debit and credit features. It also offers API, SDKs and payment gateways to banks to work more efficiently with fintech firms.

The startup has amassed clients in several Asian and Latin American markets.

Turakhia, with his brother Divyank, started his first venture in 1998. Along the way, they sold Media.net for $900 million. In 2014, they sold four web companies to Endurance for $160 million. Zeta is the second startup Bhavin has co-founded since then — the other being business messaging platform Flock.

Zeta is the seventh Indian startup to become a unicorn this month. Last week, social commerce Meesho — also backed by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 — fintech firm CRED, e-pharmacy firm PharmEasy, millennials-focused Groww, business messaging platform Gupshup and social network ShareChat attained the unicorn status.

#asia, #cred, #finance, #funding, #groww, #gupshup, #india, #meesho, #pharmeasy, #recent-funding, #sharechat, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #startups, #zeta

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Home gym startup Tempo raises $220M to meet surge in demand for its workout device

When the pandemic forced everyone to stay at home last year, many gym-goers looked to at-home fitness makers to fill the void for their cardiovascular and strength-training workouts.

To help meet that demand, Tempo, the five-year-old fitness startup founded by Moawia Eldeeb and Josh Augustin, closed a $220 million Series C round led by SoftBank. The company plans to use the raise to shore up its supply chain, keep up with increased consumer demand and fuel efforts such as R&D and content. Other participants in the Series C round included Bling Capital, DCM, General Catalyst and Norwest Venture Partners. 

Tempo’s freestanding cabinet, which the company launched in February 2020, includes a 42-inch touchscreen with a 3D motion-tracking camera that consistently scans, tracks and coaches users as they work out.

It currently sells three hardware bundles, starting at $2,495, that include accessories like barbells, dumbbells, a folding bench, a kettlebell system, a squat rack, a workout mat, a recovery foam roller and a heart rate monitor, depending on which bundle customers spring for. Users also pay a $39 monthly subscription to access on-demand and live classes. 

The concept for Tempo came about in 2015 when Eldeeb and Augustin developed SmartSpot, a computer vision-augmented smart screen they sold to gyms that helped trainers analyze and improve their clients’ form during workouts. With the trove of data generated and collected by SmartSpot, Eldeeb and Augustin developed a program that identified fitness users’ most common movement errors and utilized machine learning to offer unique recommendations for each individual user — a program that became part of the foundation for Tempo. 

“Being a personal trainer once, I remember charging $150 an hour,” explains Eldeeb. “I want to create a better experience and offer it to many more people for a lot less. That means we’re going to continue to invest in the core technology that makes that possible.” 

Tempo’s launch came during a particularly opportune time. With the pandemic unfolding, demand for at-home fitness solutions soared. The startup has seen sales surge 1,000% since it began taking pre-orders in early 2020, with delivery delays currently ranging between five to seven weeks — a common issue faced by other at-home fitness companies such as Peloton, Tonal and Echelon. Tempo users have collectively performed 5 million workouts, or clocked 40,000 hours on their devices to date, according to the company. 

“That [supply chain] was definitely an issue,” acknowledges Eldeeb, pointing to production challenges posed by factories temporarily shutting down or reducing operations in 2020. “We were doing this for the first time at scale, and we’d made small quantities of the product before [launch]. But for our first year in the market, we had to solve all those problems and still ship the product, which was a huge undertaking. We basically had to reduce sales because I wanted the factory workers to be safe.” 

For Tempo, the opportunity to scale is enormous, as the global market is estimated to reach $29.4 billion by 2025. With new funding in tow, Eldeeb wants to capitalize on surging demand, with plans of doubling down on logistics and its supply chain, growing employee headcount and expanding its content to offer yoga and boxing classes later this year.  

With vaccinations across the U.S. steadily increasing and gyms reopening, the big question is whether people will stick with their at-home fitness workouts, throw themselves back into their old gym routines or adopt a hybrid model that marries the two. Eldeeb is betting that now that more people have acclimated to working out in their homes, they’ll stay the course out of sheer convenience, pointing to a Consumer Trends report from The New Consumer published earlier this year indicating that 81% of people under the age of 40 prefer to exercise at home. 

If true, then companies like Tempo will continue to reap the benefits of this shift of fitness into the home. 

 

#fitness, #health, #recent-funding, #softbank, #startups, #tempo

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From pickup basketball to market domination: My wild ride with Coupang

A month ago, Coupang arrived on Wall Street with a bang. The South Korean e-commerce giant — buoyed by $12 billion in 2020 revenue — raised $4.55 billion in its IPO and hit a valuation as high as $109 billion. It is the biggest U.S. IPO of the year so far, and the largest from an Asian company since Alibaba’s.

But long before founder Bom Kim rang the bell, I knew him as a fellow founder on the hunt for a good idea. We stayed in touch as he formed his vision for what would become Coupang, and I built it alongside him as an investor and board member.

As a board member, I’ve observed a brief quiet period following the IPO. But now I want to share how exactly our paths intersected, largely because Bom exemplifies what founders should aspire to and should seek: big risks, dogged determination, and obsessive responsiveness to the market.

Bom fearlessly turned down an acquisition offer from then-market-leader Groupon, ferociously learned what he didn’t know, made a daring pivot even after becoming a billion-dollar company, and iteratively built a vision for end-to-end market dominance.

Why I like talking to founders early

In 2008, I met Bom while playing a weekend game of pickup basketball at Stuyvesant High School. We realized we had a mutual acquaintance through my recently-sold startup, Community Connect Inc. He told me about the magazine he had sold and his search for a next move. So we agreed to meet up for lunch and go over some of his ideas.

To be honest, I don’t remember any of those early ideas, probably because they weren’t very good. But I really liked Bom. Even as I was crapping on his ideas, I could tell he was sharp from how he processed my feedback. It was obvious he was super smart and definitely worth keeping in touch with, which we continued to do even after he relocated to go to HBS.

I soon began investing in and incubating businesses, starting mostly with my own capital. When I got a call from an executive recruiter working for a company in Chicago called Groupon — who told me they were at a $50 million run rate in only a few months — I became fascinated with their model and started talking to some of the investors, former employees, and merchants.

Inspired, and as a new parent, I decided to launch a similar daily-deal business for families: Instead of skydiving and go-kart racing, we offered deals on kids’ music classes and birthday party venues. While I was working on this idea, John Ason, an angel investor in Diapers.com, said I should meet with the founder and CEO Marc Lore. By the end of the meeting, Marc and I etched a partnership to launch DoodleDeals.com co-branded with Diapers.com. The first deal did over $70,000 — great start.

I’ve observed a brief quiet period following the IPO. But now I want to share how exactly our paths intersected, largely because Bom exemplifies what founders should aspire to and should seek: big risks, dogged determination, and obsessive responsiveness to the market.

All that time, I kept in touch with Bom. In February 2010, we were catching up over lunch at the Union Square Ippudo, and he asked if I had heard of Buywithme, a Boston-based Groupon clone. He hadn’t yet heard about Groupon, so I explained the business model and shared the numbers. He thought something similar might transfer well to South Korea, where he was born and his parents still lived.

This kind of conversation is exactly why I love working with founders early, even before the idea forms: You learn a lot about them as they explore, wrestle with uncertainty, and eventually build conviction on a business they plan to spend the next decade-plus building. Ultimately, success comes down to founders’ belief in themselves; when you develop the same belief in them as an investor, it is pretty magical. I was starting to really believe in Bom.

The idea gets real — and moves fast

I'm not Korean — I am ethnically Chinese — so Bom put together slides on the Korean market and why it was perfect for the daily-deal model. In short: a very dense population that’s incredibly online.

I’m not Korean — I am ethnically Chinese — so Bom put together slides on the Korean market and why it was perfect for the daily-deal model. In short: a very dense population that’s incredibly online. Image Credits: Ben Sun

I told Bom he should drop out of business school and do this. He said, “You don’t think I can wait until I graduate?” I responded, “No way! It will be over by then!”

First-mover advantage is real in a business like this, and it didn’t take Bom long to see that. He raised a small $1.3 million seed round. I invested, joined the board. Because of my knowledge of the deals market and my entrepreneurial experience, Bom asked me to get hands-on in Korea — not at all typical for an investor or even a board member, but I think of myself as a builder and not just a backer, and this is how I wanted to operate as an investor.

Once he realized time was of the essence, Bom was heads down. For context, he was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Nancy, who also went to Harvard undergrad and was a successful lawyer. Imagine telling your fiancée, “Honey, I am dropping out of business school, moving to Korea to start a company. I will be back for the wedding. Not sure if I will ever be coming back to the U.S.”

I emailed Bom, saying: “Bom — honestly as a friend. Enjoy your wedding. It is a real blessing that your fiancée is being so supportive of you doing this. Launching a site a few weeks before the wedding is going to be way too distracting and she won’t feel like your heart is in it. Launching a few weeks later is not going to make or break this business. Trust me.”

Bom didn’t listen. He launched Coupang in August 2010, two weeks before the wedding. He flew back to Boston, got married, and — running on basically no sleep — sneaked out for a 20-minute nap in the middle of his reception. Right after the wedding, he flew back to Seoul. Nancy has to be one of the most supportive and understanding partners I have ever seen. They are now married and have two kids.

Jumping on new distribution, turning down an acquisition offer

#asia, #ben-sun, #column, #coupang, #e-commerce, #ec-column, #ec-consumer-applications, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #ecommerce, #groupon, #livingsocial, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #south-korea, #tc

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Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.

The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.

Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when SoftBank invests, people pay attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic and historically-low mortgage rates fueled acceleration in the online lending space in a way that no one could have anticipated. That, combined with the general fervour in venture funding, means it’s not a big surprise that Better.com has raised $700 million in just a matter of months.

The investment brings Better.com’s total funding raised to over $900 million since its 2014 inception. Other backers include Goldman Sachs, Kleiner Perkins, American Express, Activant Capital and Citi, among others.

According to the Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is buying shares from Better’s existing investors, and agreed to give all of its voting rights to CEO and founder Vishal Garg “in a sign of its eagerness” to invest in the company. 

During a one-on-one interview at Lendit Fintech’s USA 2020 virtual event in October, Garg had told me that an IPO was definitely in the works.

“We’ll do it when it’s right,” he said. “One of the core tenets of American capitalism is the ability for your customers to buy your stock.”

At that time, he had also told me that before the pandemic, Better was processing about $1.2 billion a month in loans. But as of October 2020, it was funding over $2.5 billion per month, and had gone from 1,500 staffers to about 4,000 worldwide. 

“When the pandemic started we were doing less than sort of like $50 million a month of revenue,” he said. “We’re two-and-a half times that now.”

#activant-capital, #better-com, #ceo, #citi, #companies, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #kleiner-perkins, #online-lending, #recent-funding, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startups, #tc, #the-wall-street-journal, #united-states, #venture-capital, #vishal-garg, #vodafone

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Grasping at hidden objects

Happy Robotics Week, to those who celebrate. I know a lot of us are unable to be with our loved ones this year, which means no robotics tree, robotics baskets full of robot eggs and green robot beer. Still, the National Robotics Week organization is putting on a bunch of virtual events across 50 states through April 11.

There’s been a bit of financial news over the past week, also worth noting. On Tuesday, Sarcos joined the rarified air of robotic SPACs. While it’s true there’s been a flurry of activity on that front in the startup world, robotics companies have been slower to embrace the whole blank-check-reverse-merger deal. Berkshire-Grey is the one company that immediately springs to mind.

Image Credits: Sarcos Robotics

Sarcos builds robotics and robotic exoskeletons that look like they were designed for a James Cameron movie. The company has already raised a bunch of money, including a $40 million round, back in September, but is probably most notable to mainstream readers for being at the center of Delta’s recent high-tech push. The airline plans to use some of the company’s tech to help employees lift large payloads.

Image Credits: Rapid Robotics

San Francisco-based Rapid Robotics, meanwhile, announced a $12 million Series A. That brings the company’s funding to date up to $17.5 million, hot on the heels of a decent-sized seed round. The company’s objective is providing a kind of plug and play solution for robotics manufacturing, and essentially lowering the barrier of entry for manufacturing automation across a range of industries.

SoftBank, which continues to be quite bullish on the space, just acquired 40% of AutoStore for a cool $2.8 billion, putting the Norwegian company’s valuation at $7.7 billion. The company uses robotics to maximize warehouse storage, consolidating it into around a quarter of the space. It already has a sizable footprint, as well — 20,000 robots deployed at around 600 locations. Per SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son:

We view AutoStore as a foundational technology that enables rapid and cost-effective logistics for companies around the globe. We look forward to working with AutoStore to aggressively expand across end markets and geographies.

And because it can’t all be investment news (I mean, it can, but who wants that?), some cool research out of MIT. Researchers from the school, along with ones from Harvard and Georgia Tech, showcased a robot that uses radio waves to sense hidden objects. The tech allows RF-Grasp to pick up things that are covered up or otherwise out of its line of vision. MIT Associate Professor Fadel Adib describes it as “superhuman perception.”

#mit, #rapid-robotics, #robotics, #robotics-roundup, #sarcos, #softbank

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Norway’s Kolonial rebrands as Oda, bags $265M on a $900M valuation to grow its online grocery delivery business in Europe

Food delivery startups, and specifically those focused on grocery delivery, continue to reap super-sized rounds of funding in Europe, buoyed by a year of pandemic living that has led many consumers to shift to shopping online. Today, the latest of these is coming out of Norway.

Kolonial, a startup based out of Oslo that offers same-day or next-day delivery of food, meal kits and home essentials — its aim is to provide “a weekly shop” for prices that compete against those of traditional supermarkets — has raised €223 million ($265 million) in an equity round of funding. Along with that, the company — profitable as of last year — is rebranding to Oda and plans to use the money (and new name) to expand to more markets, starting first with Finland and then Germany in 2022.

The market for online grocery ordering and delivery is gearing up to be a very crowded one, with hundreds of millions of dollars being poured by investors into the fuel tanks of a range of startups — each originating out of different geographies, each with a slightly different approach. Oda believes it has the right mix to end up at the front of the pack.

“We have found ourselves in a unique position,” CEO and co-founder Karl Munthe-Kaas said in an interview with TechCrunch. “We have built a service targeting the mass market with instant deliveries and low prices, because if you want to capture the full basket for the family, you can’t be a premium service. We’ve done that, and we’re profitable.”

And now, it will have the backing of two e-commerce heavyweights for its next steps. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and Prosus (the tech holdings of South Africa’s Naspers), are co-leading the round, with past backers Kinnevik and a strategic investor, Norwegian “soft discount” chain REMA, also participating.

Munthe-Kaas confirmed to TechCrunch in an interview that Oda is valued at €750 million ($900 million) post-money.

The funding is a big leap for Oda (the name is not officially going to come into effect until the end of this month, although the company is already describing itself with the new brand, so we’ll follow that lead). PitchBook data notes that before this round, Oda had only raised about $96 million, and its last valuation was estimated to be just $178 million in 2017.

The company has certainly come a long way. Founded in 2013 by ten friends, Kolonial originally seemed to have a more modest vision when it first started out: Kolonial in Norwegian doesn’t mean “colonial” (a connotation Munthe-Kaas nevertheless said the startup wanted to avoid, one big reason for the change), but “cornershop.” These days, Oda is focused more on competing against large supermarkets — its average order size is $120 — yet with a significantly more efficient cost base behind the scenes.

It’s also been helped by the current climate. Online grocery shopping has been growing and maturing for a while now, but the last year been a veritable hothouse in that process: Covid-19, shelter in place orders and a general desire for people to keep their distance all compelled many more consumers to try out online grocery shopping for the first time, and many have stuck with it.

“We have seen a significant inflection point with grocery over the last year with the market transitioning online, accelerated by Covid,” said Larry Illg, CEO of Prosus Food, in a statement. “Oda’s leadership and impressive growth in Norway paired with its ground-breaking technology and ambition to scale across Europe and beyond makes them an ideal partner to tackle the grocery opportunity over the coming years.”

Oda has over the years grown to become the sector leader in a category it arguably helped define in its home country. It was profitable last year on revenues of €200 million, and it currently controls some 70% of Norway’s online grocery ordering and delivery market based on its own particular approach to the model.

That model involves Oda building and controlling its own supply chains from producers to consumers (no partnerships with third y partphysical retailers), producing several of the products itself (such as baked goods) to order, and using centralized fulfillment centers to manage orders for large geographies.

“Centralized warehouses means 50 supermarkets in one location,” Munthe-Kaas said, adding that this also makes the business significantly greener, too.

Those fulfillment centers, meanwhile, are operated at “extreme efficiency”, in his words. Oda’s grocery item picking averages out at 212 units per hour — that is, the amount of items “picked” for orders in a week divided by the number of hours in a week. The next closest UPH number in the industry, Munthe-Kaas said, was Ocado in the UK at 170 UPH, and the norm, he added, was more like 100 UPH, with physical store picking (where customers select items from shelves themselves) averaging out at 70 UPH.

All of this translates to much more cost-effective operations, including more efficient ordering and stock rotation, which helps Oda make better margins on its sales overall. Munthe-Kaas declined to go into the details of how Oda manages to get such high UPH numbers — that’s competitive knowledge, he said — noting only that a lot of automation and data analytics goes into the process.

That will be music to the ears of SoftBank, which has had a complicated run in e-commerce in the last several years, backing a number of interesting juggernauts that have nonetheless found themselves unable to improve on challenging unit economics.

“Oda’s leading position in Norway is testament to the merits of its bespoke and data-driven approach in offering a personalised, holistic and reliable online grocery experience,” said Munish Varma, managing partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement. “We believe that Oda’s customer-centric focus, market-leading automation technology and fulfillment efficiency are a winning combination, and position Oda for success in scaling internationally for the benefit of customers and suppliers alike.”   

The big challenge for Oda going forward will be whether it can transplant its business model as it has been developed for Norway into further markets.

Oda will not only be looking for customer traction for its own business, but it will be doing so potentially against heavy competition from others also looking to expand outside their borders.

There are other online supermarket plays like Rohlik out of the Czech Republic (which in March bagged $230 million in funding); Everli out of Italy (formerly called Supermercato24, it also raised $100 million); Picnic out of the Netherlands (which has yet to announce any recent funding but it feels like it’s only a matter of time given it too has publicly laid out international ambitions); and Ocado in the UK (which also has raised huge amounts of money to pursue its own international ambitions).

And there is also the wave of companies that are building more fleet-of-foot approaches around smaller inventories and much faster turnaround times, the idea being that this can cater both to individuals and a different way of shopping — smaller and more often — even if you are a family.

Among these so-called “q-commerce” (quick commerce) players, covering just some of the most recent funding rounds, Glovo just last week raised $528 million; Gorillas in Berlin raised $290 million; Turkey’s Getir — also rapidly expanding across Europe — picked up $300 million on a $2.6 billion valuation as Sequoia took its first bite into the European food market; and reportedly Zapp in London has also closed $100 million in funding.

Deliveroo, which went public last week, is also now delivering groceries (in partnership with Sainsbury’s) alongside its restaurant delivery service.

These, ironically, are more cornershop replacements than Oda itself (formerly called Kolonia, or “cornershop” in Norwegian), and Munthe-Kaas said he sees them as “complementary” to what Oda does.

Indeed, Munthe-Kaas remains very committed to the basic rulebook that Oda has lived by for years.

“You need to beat the physical stores on quality, selection and price and get it home delivered,” he said. “This is a margin business and the only way to optimize is to be completely relentless.”

But he also understands that this might ultimately need to be modified depending on the market. For example, while the company has not worked with other retailers in Norway — even the investment by REMA is not for distribution but for better economies of scale in procuring products that REMA and Oda will sell independently from each other — this might be a route that Oda chooses to take in other markets.

“We’re in discussions with several other retailers, wholesalers and producers,” he said. “It’s important to get sourcing terms and have upstream logistics, but there are many ways of achieving that. We are super open to making partnerships on that front, but we still think the way to win is to run the value chain.”

#ecommerce, #europe, #food, #funding, #grocery, #grocery-delivery, #online-grocery, #prosus, #softbank

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Manticore Games raises $100 million to build a ‘creator multiverse’

The gaming sector has never been hotter or had higher expectations from investors who are dumping billions into upstarts that can adjust to shifting tides faster that the existing giants will.

Bay Area-based Manticore Games is one of the second-layer gaming platforms looking to build on the market’s momentum. The startup tells TechCrunch they’ve closed a $100 million Series C funding round, bringing their total funding to $160 million. The round was led by XN, with participation from Softbank and LVP alongside existing investors Benchmark, Bitkraft, Correlation Ventures and Epic Games.

When Manticore closed its Series B back in September 2019, VCs were starting to take Roblox and the gaming sector more seriously, but it took the pandemic hitting to really expand their expectations for the market. “Gaming is now a bonafide super category,” CEO Frederic Descamps tells TechCrunch.

Manticore’s Core gaming platform is quite similar to Roblox conceptually, the big difference is that the gaming company is aiming to quickly scale up a games and creator platform geared towards the 13+ crowd that may have already left Roblox behind. The challenge will be coaxing that demographic faster than Roblox can expand its own ambitions, and doing so while other venture-backed gaming startups like Rec Room, which recently raised at a $1.2 billion valuation, race for the same prize.

Like other players, Manticore is attempting to build a game discovery platform directly into a game engine. They haven’t built the engine tech from scratch, they’ve been working closely with Epic Games which makes the Unreal Engine and made a $15 million investment in the company last year.

A big focus of the Core platform is giving creators a true drag-and-drop platform for game creation with a specific focus on “remixing” allowing users to pick pre-made environments, drop pre-rendered 3D assets into them, choose a game mode and publish it to the web. For creators looking to inject new mechanics or assets into a title, there will be some technical know-how necessary but Manticore’s team hopes that making the barriers of entry low for new creators means that they can grow alongside the platform. Manticore’s big bet is on the flexibility of their engine, hoping that creators will come on board for the chance to engineer their own mechanics or create their own path towards monetization, something established app store wouldn’t allow them to.

“Creators can implement their own styles of [in-app purchases] and what we’re really hoping for here is that maybe the next battle pass equivalent innovation will come out of this,” co-founder Jordan Maynard tells us.

This all comes at an added cost, developers earn 50% of revenues from their games, leaving more potential revenue locked up in fees routed to the platforms that Manticore depends on than if they built for the App Store directly, but this revenue split is still much friendlier to creators that what they can earn on platforms like Roblox.

Building cross-platform secondary gaming platforms is host to plenty of its own challenges. The platforms involved not only have to deal with stacking revenue share fees on non-PC platforms, but some hardware platforms that are reticent to allow them all, an area where Sony has been a particular stickler with PlayStation. The long-term success of these platforms may ultimately rely on greater independence, something that seems hard to imagine happening on consoles and mobile ecosystems.

#app-store, #ceo, #co-founder, #core, #correlation-ventures, #epic-games, #frederic-descamps, #funding, #gaming, #jordan-maynard, #online-games, #roblox, #softbank, #sony, #video-game, #video-games, #video-gaming

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SoftBank-backed Indian insurance platform Policybazaar raises $75 million

Policybazaar has raised $75 million as the Indian online insurance platform looks to expand its presence in UAE and Middle East.

Sarbvir Singh, chief executive of PolicyBazaar, told TechCrunch that the startup had raised $75 million, but didn’t elaborate. Falcon Edge Capital led the new tranche of investment in the Indian startup, which has raised about $630 million to date, according to research firm Tracxn.

The 12-year-old startup, which counts SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund and Tiger Global among its investors, is among a handful of startups that is attempting to upend India’s insurance market, which is largely commanded by state and bank-backed insurers.

Policybazaar serves as an aggregator that allows users to compare and buy policies — across categories including life, health, travel, auto, and property — from dozens of insurers on its website without having to go through conventional agents.

A screengrab of Policybazaar website

In India only a fraction of the nation’s 1.3 billion people currently have access to insurance and some analysts say that digital firms could prove crucial in bringing these services to the masses. According to rating agency ICRA, insurance products had reached less than 3% of the population as of 2017.

An average Indian makes about $2,100 in a year, according to World Bank. ICRA estimated that of those Indians who had purchased an insurance product, they were spending less than $50 on it in 2017.

In a recent report, analysts at Bernstein estimated that Policybazaar commands 90% of share in the online insurance distribution market. The platform also sells loans, credit cards, and mutual funds. The startup says it sells over a million policies a month.

“India has an under-penetrated insurance market. Within the under-penetrated landscape, digital distribution through web-aggregators like Policybazaar forms <1% of the industry. This offers a large headroom for growth,” Bernstein analysts wrote to clients.

The startup, which is working on an initial public offering slated for next year, said it will use the fresh investment to expand its presence across the UAE and Middle East regions.

“PolicyBazaar has shown stellar innovation, execution, and relentlessness in establishing itself as the market leader in online insurance aggregation in India. We believe the playbook it has established over the last 10 years in being the most efficient sales channel for insurance manufacturers, can act as a catalyst to gain market leadership in the GCC,” said Navroz Udwadia, co-founder of Falcon Edge Capital, in a statement.

#apps, #asia, #funding, #india, #paytm, #policybazaar, #softbank, #softbank-group

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Trading platform eToro to go public via SPAC merger in $10B deal

Multi-asset investing and trading platform and Robinhood competitor eToro announced Tuesday it will go public via a merger with SPAC FinTech Acquisition Corp. V in a massive $10.4 billion deal.

Once the transaction closes sometime in the third quarter, the combined company will operate as eToro Group Ltd. and is expected to be listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

The 14-year-old Israeli company was founded on a “vision of opening up capital markets.” It launched its platform in the U.S. just over two years ago and has seen rapid growth as of late. Last year, eToro said it added over 5 million new registered users and generated gross revenues of $605 million, representing 147% year over year growth. In January alone, the company added over 1.2 million new registered users and executed more than 75 million trades on its platform. That compares to 2019 when monthly registrations averaged 192,000 and 2020, when they grew to 440,000.

eToro said its platform is capitalizing on a number of secular trends such as the rise of digital wealth platforms, growing retail participation and mainstream crypto adoption. The company no doubt benefitted from the recent rise in retail investment interest, and in consumer investment apps and services specifically, which resulted from the so-called ‘meme stock’ activity that began with Redditors trading GameStop stock in order to frustrate institutional short-sellers.

The platform, which spans “social” stock trading and cryptocurrency exchange, in November 2019 acquired Delta, the crypto portfolio tracker app. eToro claims to be one of the first regulated platforms to offer cryptoassets. Its platform is regulated in the U.K., Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Gibraltar.

The transaction includes commitments for a $650 million common share private placement from leading investors including ION Investment Group, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Third Point LLC, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC and Wellington Management. The overall $10.4 billion implied equity value of the merger arrangement includes an implied enterprise value for eToro of $9.6 billion.

eToro currently has over 20 million registered users across 100 countries, and its social community is rapidly expanding due to the growth of its total addressable market, supported in part by secular trends such as the growth of digital wealth platforms and the rise in retail participation.

It expects to receivedapproval from FINRA for a broker dealer license, with plans to launch stocks in the U.S. in the second half of 2021. In a written statement, FinTech V chairman Betsy Cohen said that its sponsor platform Fintech Masala seeks out companies “with outsized growth, effective controls and excellent management teams.”

“eToro meets all three of these criteria,” she added. “In the last few years, eToro has solidified its position as the leading online social trading platform outside the U.S., outlined its plans for the U.S. market, and diversified its income streams. It is now at an inflection point of growth, and we believe eToro is exceptionally positioned to capitalize on this opportunity.”

#australia, #betsy-cohen, #broker, #cryptocurrency, #cryptocurrency-exchange, #etoro, #europe, #finance, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #finra, #fintech, #gamestop, #ing-group, #money, #robinhood, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #spac, #tc, #third-point-llc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wellington-management

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ElevateBio raises $525M to advance its cell and gene therapy technologies

ElevateBio, one of the leading biotech companies focused on gene-based therapies has raised a massive $525 million Series C round of financing, more than doubling the company’s $193 million Series B funding which closed last year. This new funding comes from existing investor Matrix Capital Management, and also adds new investors SoftBank and Fidelity Management & Research Company, and will be used to help the company expand its R&D and manufacturing capabilities, as well as continue to spin out new companies and partnerships based on its research.

Cambridge, Mass-based ElevateBio was founded to bridge the world of academic research and development of cell and gene therapies with that of commercialization and production-scale manufacturing. The startup identified a need for more efficient means of brining to market the ample, promising science that was being done in developing therapeutics that leverage cellular and genetic editing, particularly in treatment of severe and chronic illness. Its business model focuses on both developing and commercializing its own therapies, and also working through long-term partnerships with academic research institutions and other therapeutics biotech companies to bring their own technologies to market.

To this end, ElevateBio is in the business of frequent spin-out company creation, with the new entities each focused on a specific therapeutic. The company has announced three such companies to date, including AlloVir (in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine), HighPassBio (a venture with gene-editing company Fred Hutchinson) and Life Edit Therapeutics (in partnership with AgBiome). There are additional spin-outs in the works, too, according to ElevateBio, but they are not being disclosed publicly yet.

As you might expect, ElevateBio seems to have benefited from the increased appetite for biotech investment stemming from the global pandemic and its impacts. ElevateBio’s AlloVir spin-out is actually working on a T cell therapy candidate for addressing COVID-19, which is potentially effective in eliminating cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a patient to slow the spread of the disease and reduce its severity.

#atlas-venture, #biotech, #cambridge, #companies, #disease, #elevatebio, #funding, #health, #life-sciences, #roivant-sciences, #softbank, #tc

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Coupang follows Roblox to a strong first day of trading

Another day brings another pubic debut of a multibillion dollar company that performed well out of the gate.

This time it’s Coupang, whose shares are currently up just over 46% to more than $51 after pricing at $35, $1 above the South Korean e-commerce giant’s IPO price range. Raising one’s range and then pricing above it only to see the public markets take the new equity higher is somewhat par for the course when it comes to the most successful recent debuts, to which we can add Coupang.

The company’s mix of rapid growth and slimming deficits appear to have found an audience among public money types, so let’s quickly explore the price they paid. What was the company worth at its IPO price, and what is worth now? And, of course, we’ll want to calculate revenue run rates for each figure.

Oh — we’ll also need to calculate how much money SoftBank made. Inverted J-Curve indeed!

Coupang’s IPO and current value

As Renaissance Capital notes, Coupang boosted its share allocation to 130 million shares from 120 million. This made the value of both primary and secondary shares in its public offering worth a total of $4.55 billion. That’s a lot of damn money.

At its IPO price of $35, the same source pegged the company’s fully diluted IPO valuation at $62.9 billion. By our accounting, the company’s simple valuation at its IPO price came to $60.4 billion. Those numbers are close enough that we’ll just stick with the diluted number out of kindness to the company’s fans.

Doing some quick math, Coupang is worth around $92 billion at the moment. That’s a huge number that nearly zero companies will ever reach. Some do, of course, but as a percentage of startups that start it’s an outlier figure.

#coupang, #ec-ecommerce-and-d2c, #ecommerce, #fundings-exits, #gaming, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #vision-fund

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Forward Health raises $225M from investors including The Weeknd as it looks to expand nationwide

Primary care startup Forward Health is looking to expand its tech-powered, personalized healthcare model across the U.S., and will use a new $225 million Series D raise to help make it happen. The new capital comes from Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, SoftBank, Mark Benioff – and recording artist The Weeknd – among others. I spoke to Forward Health co-founder and CEO Adrian Aoun about his company’s plans for this fresh capital, and we also chatted briefly about how The Weeknd got involved.

Forward, which currently operates clinics in select U.S. markets including LA, New York, Chicago, SF and Washington, D.C., has a number of distinguishing features, but most notable are likely its tech-first approach that includes a full biometric assessment upon first visit, and its business model, which eschews insurance providers altogether and instead works based on a single flat membership fee.

Aoun and his co-founders created Forward Health with the idea of building a healthcare business that’s aligned with its customers in terms of incentives, which is why they sidestepped insurance altogether. That’s led to a focus on customer service and long-term patient relationships and outcomes, which Aoun says are stronger because they’re not bound by an individual’s relationship with their employer, for instance, which is often the case when an employer foots the bill for healthcare via company-provided insurance.

“The average person in the Bay Area is with their employer for about two and a quarter years,” Aoun told me. “So your employer is kind of sitting there thinking, if you get the flu, you’re missing three days of work – I’m out some money.” That means they’ll do things like institute programs to remind employees constantly to get their annual flu vaccine, and do other things to make that happen like provide on-premise shots. But Aoun says they’re optimizing for short-term outcomes, not long-term health – because that’s where their incentives tell them to optimize.

Image Credits: Forward Health

But when long-term healthcare programs, like lifestyle shifts that can lessen the potential of truly dangerous outcomes like heart disease and cancer, come into play, an employer who expects you to stick around for a few years at most is far less incentivized to want to fund that. Forward Health, which aims to attract subscribers and, for lack of a better term, minimize churn, actually is incentivized to make those long-term outcomes positive for everyone who comes through the door.

That’s part of why one focus with this new funding is to debut new doctor-led programs tailored to treating conditions that individual patients might be predisposed to – like heart health, if heart disease runs in your family, or specific types of cancer, if there’s a history of that, for instance.

“We’ve got our [in-clinic] body scanners, our blood tests, our gene sequencing – we basically collect on the order of about 500 biometric data points,” Aoun said. “The idea is you and your doctor then figure out which which kind of programs make sense for you based upon those.”

For example, Aoun says he’s actually at fairly high risk for developing heart disease, so there’s a Forward program that includes doing a heart risk analysis, blood tests, and regular at-home monitoring of key risk factors like blood pressure and weight. Another program for cancer prevention includes measures designed to help lessen the risk of contracting the top five cancers in terms of prevalence — so Forward created a dermatoscope for that, which is essentially a skin scanner to map out an individual’s moles and skin features and alert them of any changes.

This builds on work that Forward began at the outset of COVID-19 — its ‘Forward at Home’ program, which includes sending patients home with specialized sensors for remote care. Another specialized program tailored to COVID-19 actually offers monitoring specific to the disease in order to track a patient’s progress safely.

“We’re now launching programs for all the top diseases to help you get ahead of them,” Aoun said. “And whatever kind of programs you’re using, you walk away with plans that are tailored to you, again, to counsel you not only on the potential risks for the things like the cancer and heart disease, but also to be proactive, with guidance from diet, to exercise, to stress, and to sleep, etc.”

The programs are supported by Forward’s 24/7 worldwide care support team, which subscribers can access via their mobile app. It’s also complemented by the check-ins with your physician via the ‘Forward at Home’ in-home virtual visits.

Image Credits: Forward Health

While Forward is already rolling these out, it has plans to continue to develop new ones, and it’s also monitoring results in order to understand how they’re working for users, and will be sharing that data once it has collected a significant sample. I asked Aoun how Forward can scale this kind of personalized care – especially now that the startup plans to open additional locations in other parts of the country.

Basically, Aoun said that Forward approached it as an engineering problem. He argues that most solutions in healthcare see the fundamental issue as a labor problem — but trying to scale that, with the salaries that medical professionals command, and the limited availability of skilled talent, makes no sense. Especially because consumers are naturally looking for improvements in their standard of care over time, in the same way they expect improvements in the products they buy or services they use.

Rather than relying on a chain of increasingly specific medical professionals to address individual health risks and needs, Aoun said Forward identified that there’s a massive amount of overlap in preventative care courses of action. The Forward team focused on breaking the fundamental elements down into what equate roughly to reusable Lego blocks, which can be recombined with relative speed and repeatability to produce a program that’s nonetheless tailored to an individual’s needs.

Combined with Forward Health’s longitudinal approach to care, these programs and their recombinant nature should prove a good dataset from which to assess how a direct, client-focused primary care model affects overall health.

And, because I promised, I’ll leave you with how Aoun says The Weeknd got involved in the Series D.

“He literally just walked by one of our locations, and walked in and was like, ‘This is awesome,’ and then asked a friend, who asked a friend, who asked a friend to get connected,” he told me.

#adrian-aoun, #artist, #cancer, #chicago, #disease, #flu, #forward, #forward-health, #founders-fund, #health, #healthcare, #khosla-ventures, #louisiana, #new-york, #physician, #recent-funding, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #washington-d-c

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#DealMonitor – Plan A sammelt 3 Millionen ein – Ardian Growth investiert in Kapten & Son – Rockaway Capital übernimmt Bringmeister


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 10. März werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Plan A
+++ Der französische Geldgeber Demeter, coparion und SoftBank investieren 3 Millionen US-Dollar in Plan A – siehe TechCrunch. Berliner ClimateTech, das von Lubomila Jordanova und Nathan Bonnisseau gegründet wurde, möchte Unternehmen und Mitarbeiter beim Thema Nachhaltigkeit unterstützen. “Our software allows your company to measure, monitor, reduce and offset its environmental impact seemlessly. Create change with your business and improve from it!”, teilt das Startup mit.

Kapten & Son
+++ Ardian Growth, ein Investmentbereich der Investmentgesellschaft Ardian, steigt bei Kapten & Son ein. Mit dem neuen Gesellschafter möchte das Kölner D2C-Unternehmen sein”Wachstum vorantreiben”. Kapten & Son, wurde 2014 von den Studenten Fabian Deventer, Johannes Theobald und Artjem Weissbeck am Campus der Universität Münster gegründet. Derzeit verkauft Kapten & Son neben Uhren auch Rucksäcke, Brillen, Sonnenbrillen und Koffer. Der Umsatz lag 2020 bei rund 50 Millionen Euro. Geführt wird die Jungfirma von Alexander Glörfeld und Marian Paul . Mitgründer Weissbeck etwa betreibt derzeit Charles. Hinter Charles verbirgt sich eine Conversational-Commerce-as-a-Service-Software für Händler und Konsumgütermarken. Das Unternehmen aus Berlin ermöglicht es Marken ihre Produkte über WhatsApp und andere Chat-Apps anzubieten. Accel und HV Capital investierten kürzlich in Charles.

Anzeige
+++ In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar abonnieren und 30 Tage kostenlos testen!

Kloster Kitchen
+++ Der bekannte Fruchtsaft-Hersteller Eckes-Granini steigt bei Kloster Kitchen ein und sichert sich 49 % am Unternehmen aus der Nähe von Nürnberg. Das junge Food-Startup, das von Mario Fürst gegründet wurde, bringt seit 2015 frischen Ingwer in die Flasche. “Die bisherigen Gesellschafter, bestehend aus den Gründern und der Intro Gruppe um den Unternehmer Hans Rudolf Wöhrl bleiben beteiligt”, teilen die Unternehmen mit.

Comeco
+++ Die DEVK Versicherungen und die Süddeutschen Krankenversicherung steigen bei Comeco ein. Das Unternehmen lässt sich am besten mit dem Schlagwort Lifestyle-Banking beschreiben. Das Bankkonto der Kunden ist dabei der Ausgangspunkt für weitere Produkte. Wichtig: Es geht um mehr als wieder nur eine simple Multibanking-App. Die Palette von Teo, so der Name der App, soll von Gutscheinangeboten bis zur Vermittlung von Reisen gehen.

EXITS

Bringmeister
+++ Der tschechische Investor Rockaway Capital, die hierzulande vor allem durch den Aufkauf von Unister bekannt geworden ist, übernimmt den Lebensmittel-Lieferdienst Bringmeister, der zuletzt zu Edeka gehörte. “Alle rund 260 Arbeits­plätze in Logistik, Einkauf, IT und Verwaltung bleiben erhalten und gehen 1:1 auf den neuen Eigentümer über”, teilen die Unternehmen mit. Bringmeister landete 2017 im Zuge der Übernahme von Kaiser’s Tengelmann bei Edeka. Mit der Übernahme möchte die Private-Equity- und Venture-Capital-Gruppe Rockaway Capital nun den deutschen Markt erobern. Über Erfahrungen im Segment verfügen die Rockaway-Macher: Zur Investmentgruppe gehört auch die Online-Supermarktkette Kosik.cz. In den Markt der Lebensmittel-Lieferdienste kommt somit weiter Bewegung. Aus Tschechien drängt derzeit auch der Online-Supermarkt Rohlik auf den deutschen Markt. Hierzulande tritt das Unternehmen als Knuspr auf. Edeka wiederum ist seit einiger Zeit am deutschen Picnic-Ableger beteiligt. Bereits Anfang 2018 sicherte sich Edeka 20 % am Online-Supermarkt, der ursprünglich aus den Niederlanden kommt.

PODCAST

Insider #97
+++ Schon die neue Insider-Ausgabe mit Sven Schmidt gehört? In der aktuellen Folge geht es um Ralf Wenzel, Gorillas, Elmar Broscheit, Flink, Grovy, Project A Ventures, MeetButter, Finway, mim Technologies, Lottie und den  Spac-Boom.

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #ardian-growth, #berlin, #bringmeister, #climatetech, #comeco, #coparion, #d2c, #demeter, #eckes-granini, #edeka, #food, #insurtech, #kapten-son, #kloster-kitchen, #knuspr, #koln, #nurnberg, #picnic, #plan-a, #rockaway-capital, #rohlik, #softbank, #stuttgart, #teo, #venture-capital

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Softbank, Demeter and Coparion invest $3M into Plan A’s B2B carbon monitoring and ESG platform

Plan A, a Berlin-based automated SaaS B2B startup, has raised $3 million for its platform that lets companies measure, monitor, reduce and report their environmental footprint thus improving their ESG ratings. French VC Demeter led the round, with German VC Coparion and Softbank joined the round as a strategic investor. The cash will be used to enhance Plans A’s carbon emission and ESG management software for enterprise customers in Europe, and for international expansion.

Some estimates put the market for emission management solutions at between $10 billion and $26 billion in the next five years. The US Green Deal and new “EU taxonomy for sustainable activities” is putting pressure on businesses to manage their carbon emissions, leading to the ride of platforms like Plan A. Emitwise in the UK has raised $3.4M and there is also while Watershed. However, Plan A says its platform is more comprehensive than other players because of its ongoing automation and monitoring of a company’s carbon output.

Founded in 2017, Plan A has managed to garner customers including Société Générale, GANNI, AlbionVC, BMW Foundation, BCG Digital Ventures and football club Werder Bremen.

Lubomila Jordanova, co-founder and CEO of Plan A, said: “Plan A’s technology has transformed companies and enabled them to turn sustainability into a competitive advantage. We have been working for multiple years on developing the best in class technology, and this investment will allow us to further tailor our carbon and ESG management platform to the needs of enterprises worldwide.”

Olivier Bordelanne, partner at Demeter: “There is a high demand for B2B monitoring services and platforms providing data-based insights on companies’ sustainability indicators or climate risk exposures. Among the many companies offering carbon footprint measurements that we have studied recently, Plan A and its team stood out by positioning themselves as the one-stop shop to help businesses calculate, monitor, and reduce their carbon footprint via mitigation and offsetting actions.”

Alexander Lüttge, Partner at Coparion, said: “Plan A offers companies an easy-to-integrate and easy-to-use SaaS solution for carbon footprint transparency, mitigation and offsetting. In our view, their solution is not only the most versatile product for automated emissions data collection in the market, it also creates transparency in emission and cost structures, as well as a significant value-add for companies through the introduction of automated business process optimization.”

Jordanova says competitors tend to calculate carbon footprints on a one-off basis, help with offsetting and then give certificates for the offsetting without supporting doing any further work. “We offer all of those services, but also enable the company to reduce its carbon footprint and learn how to implement sustainability on an ongoing basis,” she told me.

Plan A is in a good place to benefit from new regulatory environments. The new US administration and the EU have been significantly shifting their agenda, requiring a lot more transparency on reporting about emissions. In the Netherlands, more than 90 banks signed an agreement to create more transparency on CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, money is being divested from fossil fuels and diverted into ESG investments. But of course, companies wanting to get hold of that cash have to be able to prove their emissions. That’s where Plan A comes in.

#articles, #bcg-digital-ventures, #berlin, #carbon-footprint, #energy, #europe, #european-union, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #renewable-energy, #softbank, #tc, #united-kingdom

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#Podcast – #EXKLUSIV Foodpanda-Gründer bringt Gorillas-Konzept um den Globus


Foodpanda-Gründer Ralf Wenzel, derzeit Managing Partner bei SoftBank, setzt nach unseren Informationen voll und ganz auf das Flash-Supermarkt-Konzept. In Deutschland sorgen gerade Gorillas und Flink in diesem Hype-Segment jede Woche für neue Schlagzeilen. Wenzel plant nun das Konzept in Emerging Markets wie etwa Brasilien zu bringen. SoftBank und HV Capital legen schon einmal 100 Millionen bereit, um die Expansion des noch namenlosen Projektes voranzutreiben. Details gibt es in unserem aktuellen Insider-Podcast (siehe unten).

Target Global, Northzone, Cherry Ventures, TriplePoint Capital investierten gerade erst beachtliche 52 Millionen US-Dollar in den Flash-Supermarkt Flink. Hinter dem Unternehmen, einem mobilen Supermarkt, stecken Christoph Cordes (Fashion4Home, Home24), Oliver Merkel (Bain & Company) und Foodora-Macher Julian Dames sowie die Hamburger Pickery-Gründer Saad Saeed und Nikolas Bullwinkel. Wettbewerber Gorillas konnte zuletzt 44 Millionen US-Dollar einsammeln. Derzeit plant das Unternehmen 100 Millionen einzusammeln.

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

 

 

#aktuell, #e-commerce, #foodpanda, #gorillas, #hv-capital, #reloaded, #softbank

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Compass files S-1, reveals $3.7B in revenue on net loss of $270M

Compass, the real-estate brokerage startup backed by roughly $1.6 billion in venture funding, filed its S-1 Monday.

The move comes just under one year after the New York-based company laid off 15% of its staff as a result of the shifting economic fortunes created by the global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the IPO, SoftBank’s Vision Fund holds slightly more than a one-third stake in the company. Other investors include the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity, Wellington Management, and the Qatar Investment Authority, according to Crunchbase.

The company’s last fundraise was in July 2019, when Compass — a company that has built a three-sided marketplace for the real estate industry, along with a wide set of algorithms to help make it work — raised a $370 million round of funding. That financing valued Compass at $6.4 billion.

One of the greatest things about companies going public is that we get insight into their financials. Compass is not profitable but it did see a massive surge in revenue over the past few years.

The company’s revenues have increased from $186.8 million in 2016 to a whopping $3.7 billion last year, with much of the top-line revenue growth coming in the last two years, according to its S-1. Given the startup’s agency model, most of that revenue is paid out directly to the firm’s agents, who netted about $3 billion in commissions in 2020. Compass posted a net loss of $270 million in 2020, a net loss roughly in line with what it has experienced in the past two years.

Total transactions on the platform grew from about 27,000 in 2018 to 145,000 in 2020, while total transaction volume (the value of the properties the company brokers) went up by about five-fold, from $34 billion to $152 billion last year. Since commissions on real estate are determined as fixed percentage of the value of the property, more transaction volume directly translates into more revenue for Compass. The company has been able to sustain that growth while limiting the number of agents it has added. From 2019 to 2020, the company only had 28% growth in its total number of agents, reaching just shy of 9,000 last year.

Compass had its share of trouble before the pandemic. In September 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company had lost a number of senior level individuals over the previous eighteen months including its chief financial officer, chief marketing officer and chief technology officer.

#canadian-pension-plan-investment-board, #compass, #exit, #new-york, #qatar-investment-authority, #real-estate, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startups, #tc

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Paytm claims top spot in India’s mobile payments market with 1.2B monthly transactions

Paytm, India’s most valuable startup, said on Monday it processed 1.2 billion transactions in the month of February, illustrating the level of penetration it has made in one of the world’s fastest-growing payments markets where it competes with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Flipkart-backed PhonePe.

Paytm said its users made 1.2 billion transactions last month across several payments modes including wallets, plastic cards, internet banking, and UPI. This is the largest volume of transactions reported by any payments firm in India and Paytm claimed that it has consolidated its leadership position.

A Paytm spokesperson told TechCrunch that the startup clocked over 1 billion transactions in the month of January as well. A PhonePe spokesperson told TechCrunch that its app crossed a billion transactions in December, and its last month’s transacting volume was “over a billion” across UPI, wallet, and credit and debit cards.

Paytm’s figure shows how the SoftBank-backed startup has continued to grow despite not being a dominant player in the UPI ecosystem.

A payments railroad built by a coalition of retail banks and backed by the government, UPI has emerged as the most popular way users transact online in recent years though it does not offer any business model.

Last month, UPI services processed 2.29 billion transactions, the governing body NPCI said on Monday. PhonePe and Google Pay are the dominant UPI players in India, commanding over 85% of the person-to-person payments market. PhonePe processed about 970 million UPI transactions in February. (NPCI has said that it will enforce a market share cap on its member firms.)

Unlike Paytm, which leads among wallet players, and PhonePe, Google Pay and relatively new entrant WhatsApp solely operate on UPI.

Paytm has expanded to cater to merchants in recent years as several international firms launched their offerings to solve person-to-person payments in India. The startup claimed that its service dominates in offline merchant payments and is growing 15% month-on-month. The startup, led by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, said it serves over 17 million merchants. PhonePe told TechCrunch it serves over 17.5 million merchants.

Paytm said it has been “the main driving force behind building and expanding digital villages and now empowers over 6 lakh (600,000) villages in India with digital payments.” The startup said over 50% of its merchant partners have an account with Paytm Payments Bank — the startup’s digital bank — and it also commands the market with its digital wealth management service, Paytm Money.

At stake is India’s payments market that is estimated to be worth $1 trillion in the next three years, up from about $200 billion last year, according to Credit Suisse.

“We are humbled by the trust India has shown in us & made Paytm their preferred digital payments & financial service provider. We have consistently maintained industry-leading market share & growing at an impressive rate,” said Narendra Yadav, Vice President of Paytm, in a statement.

“We have been promoting all digital payment methods giving multiple-choices to consumers that have helped us in consolidating our leadership position. In fact, a large percentage of our users who started their digital journey with Paytm, have now adopted & embraced our financial services.”

#apps, #asia, #google-pay, #india, #payments, #paytm, #phonepe, #softbank

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Investors’ SPAC push could revamp the private market money game

Since last year, we’ve been tracking the growing list of capitalists who got into the SPAC game. You can read an interview we conducted with Amish Jani, the co-founder of FirstMark Capital, about his SPAC here. And if you need a refresher on all things SPAC, we have that for you as well.

This morning, I want to better understand the trend by parsing a few new venture capitalist SPACs. We’ll examine Lerer Hippeau Acquisition Corp. and Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co. I, II and III. The SPACs are, somewhat obviously, associated with New York-based Lerer Hippeau and Menlo Park’s Khosla Ventures. And all four dropped formal S-1 filings last week.


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


Today’s topic may sound dry, but it really does matter. As we’ve reported, Lux Capital is in on the SPAC wager, along with Ribbit and, of course, SoftBank. Adding our latest names to the mix and you have to wonder if every VC worth a damn in the future will have their own raft of SPAC offerings.

In that way, as some late-stage venture capital funds invest earlier — and now later — full-service VC outfits will offer first-check to final liquidity, will such a full-stack venture outfit be able to win more deals than a group offering a limited set of financing options? If so, the recent venture capital SPAC wave could become more of a rising tide in time, to torture a metaphor.

Regardless, let’s quickly parse what Khosla and Lerer Hippeau are telling public investors about why they will be great SPACers before working our way backwards to what the resulting pitch must be to startups themselves.

Full-stack capital

The Lerer Hippeau SPAC is the most interesting of the two firms’ combined four offerings, so we’ll start there. That isn’t to diss Khosla, but the Lerer Hippeau blank-check has some explicit wording I want to highlight.

From the Lerer Hippeau Acquisition Corp. S-1 filing, read the following (bolding: TechCrunch):

As our seed portfolio matured over the last decade, we added a growth strategy to our platform through our select funds. This capital enables us to continue providing financial support to our top performing early stage companies as they scale, and to selectively make new investments in later stage companies in the Lerer Hippeau network. With our portfolio now maturing to the stage at which many are considering the public markets, we view SPACs as a natural next step in the evolution of our platform.

After writing that it has had four portfolio companies “publicly announced business combination agreements with SPACs” and noting that it expects more of the same, Lerer Hippeau added that it considers its “expansion into the SPAC market as a highly complementary element of our strategy to support founders throughout their entrepreneurial journeys.”

#fundings-exits, #khosla, #lerer-hippeau, #private-equity, #ribbit, #softbank, #spac, #startups, #the-exchange, #venture-capital

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Does SoftBank have 20 more DoorDashes?

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

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. This week felt oddly comforting from a tech news perspective: Facebook is copying something, early-stage startup data is flawed enough to talk about and sweet DoorDash is buying robots for undisclosed sums.

So, here’s a rundown of the tech news we got into (as always, jokes aren’t previewed so you’ll have to listen to the actual show to get our critique and Award Winning Analysis*):

In good news, long-time Equity producer Chris Gates is back starting next week, which means we’ll have our biggest crew ever helping get the show put together. And, in other good news, there’s going to be more Equity than ever for you to hear. Coming soon.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

*OK, so not award-winning yet. But soon enough, because manifestation works.

#bumble, #doordash, #early-stage, #equity-podcast, #ethena, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #j-curve, #justo, #podcasts, #reddit, #softbank, #startups, #zeta

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WeWork is apparently doing better, not that SoftBank wants you to talk about that

SoftBank’s earnings always leads to a bonanza of news. One storyline that has dominated the company’s earnings over the past few years that has all but disappeared though is WeWork.

The co-working company, which saw its scorching-hot flame dim a few years ago and which has been parlayed into such books as Billion Dollar Loser, is all but invisible in SoftBank’s presentations these days. The company, despite being one of the largest investments in the company’s $98.6 billion Vision Fund, is not mentioned in the firm’s quarterly update, and the company’s investor presentation also has no mention of the company. (Its logo does appear on the portfolio page, although it is buried with all the other logos).

Yet, for all the doom that has been emanating from WeWork, from its financial shenanigans to dealing with the workplace in a post-COVID-19 world, results apparently are better than what might be expected.

Buried in the footnotes of SoftBank’s earnings report today is some good news related to WeWork. The Japanese telco conglomerate recognized improvements of $1.36 billion in various credit facilities for WeWork compared to its figures in the first three months of 2020.

Given WeWork’s instability, SoftBank had set aside large sums of capital to cover the rent and mandatory loan payments of WeWork in order to shore up the company’s financial picture. However, “mainly due to the improvement in the credit risk of WeWork” according to SoftBank, the risk profile of those loans has improved quite a bit, and the company no longer feels the need to offer as much of a financial buffer as it did nine months previous.

Now, that could just be some innovative accounting engineering, but that improvement in WeWork’s performance mirrors rumors heard in recent weeks that the company is expected to once again attempt to head to the public markets.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that WeWork was looking to go public via SPAC for a rumored price of $10 billion. No deal has yet been announced, and while SoftBank is in the process of raising two more SPACs for a grand total of three, it is unlikely to merge WeWork through its own vehicles.

While that $10 billion market cap is far below some of the most bullish prices that WeWork was pumping investors on back during its roadshow in September 2019, it nonetheless shows that the company may not be the financial albatross it was two years ago.

#real-estate, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #venture-capital, #wework

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SoftBank kills half the performance incentive for its Vision Fund execs

SoftBank reported earnings today, including the performance of its $98.6 billion Vision Fund. The numbers were enticing given the recent exit of DoorDash, which returned billions to SoftBank and represents one of its first truly blockbuster investments out of the fund. The company has now seen 18 investments exit, including 10 fully exited and eight that are now trading on the public markets.

Yet, tucked away deeply in the company’s earnings statement was a note that the company has cut the performance incentive earmarked for the Vision Fund’s leadership in half, from $5 billion to $2.5 billion.

That $5 billion incentive scheme was controversial when news of it was first reported by publications like the Financial Times back in April 2018. In the model, SoftBank essentially loaned its employees money to buy into the Vision Fund, a structure that was designed to accelerate the closing of the fund’s $100 billion fundraise. The company first added language about the incentive scheme in its 2018Q2 earnings, writing:

On October 19, 2018, SoftBank Vision Fund completed an interim closing with additional committed capital of $5 billion. This brought the total committed capital of the Fund to $96.7 billion. The additional committed capital is intended for the installment of an incentive scheme for operations of SoftBank Vision Fund.

Since then, the company has had consistent language about the $5 billion figure in every quarterly earnings report. However, in today’s latest earnings for fiscal 2020Q3, the company noted that the incentives are now “$2.5 billion (decreased from the previous $5.0 billion).”

The incentive scheme for SoftBank has been a huge point of discussion for industry observers. Four top executives at SoftBank — Rajeev Misra, Marcelo Claure, Katsunori Sago and Ken Miyauchi have collectively been loaned $600 million to buy into the Vision Fund, according to a report two weeks ago in the Financial Times. Some of that money was derived from the $5 billion (now $2.5 billion) incentive scheme, although it isn’t clear if all that money was earmarked exclusively from this particular pool.

SoftBank’s pullback on incentives for the Vision Fund is seemingly a response to the fund’s overall lackluster performance and the fund’s disastrous investment in WeWork, which led to wide losses at the telecom group. While more recent performance has been much better for the fund, eliminating some of those incentives should improve overall performance of the fund and ultimately SoftBank’s bottom line.

Vision Fund I has stopped investing in new companies as of last year. A second fund has $10 billion in capital — all from SoftBank itself — and has been making regular investments. The Vision Fund has also been raising SPACs, including two new ones it announced late last week.

#softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #venture-capital

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SoftBank and the late-stage venture capital J-curve

SoftBank had some good data to report overnight with its third-quarter earnings, which covers the last quarter of 2020 through December 31. The company’s first Vision Fund reported large gains driven by DoorDash, where the company’s $680 million investment blew up to just shy of $9 billion — a 13.2x return in SoftBank’s math. While not the first exit from the fund nor the first high-returning exit SoftBank has had, it is the first exit that meaningfully shakes up the prognosis for the Vision Fund’s returns.

Now seems as good a time as any to ask a question we first started pondering when SoftBank launched the Vision Fund way back in 2017: what does a return profile look like at such a late stage of investment?

Early-stage venture capital has a return profile dubbed the “J-curve.” Given a cohort of startups in a venture portfolio, the failures of that cohort tend to materialize quite quickly. Those startups can’t raise money, and thus, they run out of runway and either die or are sold off. That means that the losses from those investments are recognized by investors right away. Meanwhile, the successful startups keep growing and raising venture capital, but funds won’t realize their gains for potentially a decade or more. Thus, the J-curve describes the early years of a fund where the losses are visible but the future gains have not yet materialized.

The Vision Fund pioneered a much more muscular form of traditional mezzanine (pre-IPO) capital, where it would barge into a company’s cap table with big dollars and high valuations with the dream that these companies would go big. While not true of all of the Vision Fund’s investments, many of these startups were quite mature with serious revenues where the alternative to mezzanine capital was an IPO.

That brought up an interesting fund construction question: the sort of immediate failures that create the J-curve for early-stage investors shouldn’t presumably exist at later stages, where startups are less risky investments. Sure, some startups may grow more slowly than other companies and exit for a middling return, but few startups should actually fail entirely.

So what does the SoftBank data look like today and what can it tell us about late-stage fund performance?

SoftBank Vision Fund I made a total of 92 investments from summer of 2017 to mid 2020, of which 10 have fully exited, and 8 are now traded on the public markets. According to SoftBank, 25 of its Fund I portfolio companies received another venture capital round in calendar year 2020 as well, giving the firm some upticks in its fair-market valuation.

#late-stage-venture-capital, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #venture-capital

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SoftBank files for a double scoop of SPAC

The SPAC mania continues unabated, with new SPACs being filed with the SEC on an almost hourly basis at times.

SoftBank, the Japanese telecom conglomerate which has also been running the gigantic Vision Fund and its successor, doesn’t want to be left out. Yesterday, it filed back-to-back SPAC registration statements for two new blank-check companies.

SVF Investment Corp 2 is $200 million and SVF Investment Corp 3 is a $350 million vehicle. Both SPACs have a standard roughly 15% over-allotment option, which means that their final sizes will likely end up at $230 million and $400 million respectively assuming that the underwriters take their option (number three has a slightly smaller over-allotment if you’re checking my math).

One interesting component of both SPACs is that they have what is known as a forward purchasing agreement connected to SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. That agreement allows the second Vision Fund to purchase shares into these SPACs when they begin their business combinations with their target startups, essentially giving it the right to buy into the mergers. The Vision Fund has a $100 million agreement with SVF 2, and a $150 million agreement with SVF 3.

As with all SPACs, a registration statement is merely a filing of an intention to raise money, although these days, the vast majority of filings are later consummated.

As the numbering indicates, SoftBank had an earlier SPAC that it filed in December and officially closed on January 7 of this year. That vehicle targeted a total fundraise of $604 million including the underwriters’ over-allotment option. It also included a $250 million forward purchase agreement with the second Vision Fund similar to these latest two vehicles.

What are these SPACs looking for? Well, according to the filings, “We intend to identify, acquire and manage a business in a technology-enabled sector where our management team have differentiated experience and insights. Relevant sectors may include, but are not limited to, mobile communications technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud technologies, software broadly, computational biology and other data-driven business models, semiconductors and other hardware, transportation technologies, consumer internet and financial technology.”

That seems to cover a lot, but just in case, the filings note that “However, we may consummate a transaction with a business in a different or related industry.” So basically anything.

There is no timeline yet for when the SPACs could potentially close, but typical timing is 4-8 weeks given market averages.

#finance, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund

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SoftBank is just the latest validation for Miami’s booming startup scene

Miami has long been a refuge for those escaping the cold or Latin American countries in political and economic turmoil. But, in 2020, it welcomed investors, founders and others in tech leaving San Francisco and New York City, partly propelled by the pandemic, seeking a welcoming government, lower taxes, a decent climate, less expensive housing, a dynamic lifestyle and the type of diversity that’s proven to help companies thrive.

Investors are bullish on Miami, TechCrunch found. In a survey with eight local investors, they point out the strengths and opportunities of the growing market.

Moving the needle, Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank and long-time Miami advocate, announced a $100 million fund dedicated solely to startups based in Miami or those planning on moving here.

For many, the dream is that Miami comes to enjoy the economic prosperity of places like San Francisco and New York City while maintaining the current tech community’s focus on building a Miami for all.

“Miami is quickly evolving to accommodate increasing demand as it becomes a growing startup destination. From emerging ‘elder tech’ to biotech, Miami is an attractive investment market that offers unique opportunities for immigrants and minorities to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities,” Claure told TechCrunch just before making the funding announcement.

Claure knows the potential of Miami tech firsthand. In 1997 he founded Brightstar, a global wireless company. In 2013, SoftBank purchased a majority stake in the company for a cool $1.26 billion. His brother Martin is a tech entrepreneur too, and currently the founder and CEO of Aprende Institute, a Miami-based Spanish language skills retraining startup.

Miami has served Claure well, so it’s no surprise he and SoftBank believe so vehemently in the region.

“At SoftBank, we invest in technology-focused companies in various sectors — from fintech, to agritech, to education,” Claure said. “[SoftBank] invests in the entrepreneurs and companies that are leading the digital transformation of these sectors. Over the last year, we’ve recognized a dramatic shift in where these entrepreneurs call home. For years it was mainly Silicon Valley and New York City — today, it’s also Austin, Dallas and (of course) Miami. Due largely to the tireless efforts of Mayor Suarez, Miami has been positioned at the forefront of innovation and the tech industry.

“Many of the businesses we’re seeing pop-up in Miami are natural fits for what we’re looking to invest in,” Claure said. “Through our Latam Fund, we invest in companies focused on the Latin American region. In an effort to address the long-standing diversity and inclusion issues within the VC community, we also launched a $100 million Opportunity Fund, focusing on companies founded by Black, Latino and Native American entrepreneurs. So far, we’ve evaluated over 700 companies and have made ~20 investments totaling $20 million. These investments span multiple sectors (healthcare, SaaS, fintech, gaming and more) — sectors we’ve seen growing in Miami.”

2020

In 2020, Miami saw about $1.9 billion pour into the region, up 21x from 2010, which brought in about $89.5 million, according to Crunchbase data. While 2020 was a great year and with some standout deals: REEF Technologies raised $700 million, ShipMonk drew in $290 million, and Magic Leap brought in another $350 million, it didn’t quite beat 2019’s record-breaking $2.39 billion that flowed into South Florida-based startups. While in 2010, only 12 companies in Miami raised outside funds, by 2020, we saw that number jump to 70, signaling a healthy amount of tech entrepreneurship in the area.

While the pandemic and remote work may have jolted the first movers, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s off-the-cuff response to a tweet suggesting Silicon Valley be relocated to Miami seemed to get the flywheel going. “How can I help?” he put out into the universe. And the universe responded with a flurry of inquiries about tech life in Miami.

Refresh Miami, the largest tech nonprofit in the state boasting 11,000 members, spent the holidays putting together a “New To Miami Guide,” which aims to answer everything from “Where should my kids go to school in Miami?” to “What are some of the best co-working spaces?”

Some new residents might be testing the waters while living the nomadic life, but many others have bought property, set up shop and started the recruiting process — both for their next startup but also to ensure their friends are here, too.

Miami’s recent story can’t be told without the inclusion of Keith Rabois, a partner at Founders Fund and a member of the PayPal mafia who flagrantly left San Francisco. Rabois made an equally notable splash in Miami with the purchase of a $29 million Miami Beach mansion that includes a saltwater aquarium so big it requires a scuba diver to maintain. Since moving to Miami, he has become one of the most vocal and ardent recruiters for Miami tech’s future. He cryptically announced on Twitter that he’s started a Miami-based company and is hiring, though he hasn’t publicly disclosed what the company does or will do.

Other big names include the finance heavyweight Blackstone, who recently announced their new office in Miami, providing 215 tech jobs. They’ve already signed on some local talent, according to a source. Then, of course, there’s Plug and Play, the Silicon Valley global innovation platform and investor who announced last week it will be opening a location downtown. But some other VCs who have recently relocated are doing what great VCs do best: seizing on an early opportunity that not quite everyone believes in yet. Those include Jon Oringer of Shutterstock, David Blumberg of Blumberg Capital, Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, David Goldberg of Alpaca, whose portfolio includes ClassPass and ClassWallet, Maya Baratz Jordan of FFNY, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, known for co-founding both Gilt and Glamsquad, and Laura González-Estéfani, a Facebook vet who moved here four years ago to open The Venture City, an accelerator and venture fund with a Miami HQ, but that also has offices in San Francisco and Madrid.

Why Miami

The pandemic has pushed many to rethink what they want out of life. And is work, an exorbitantly priced microapartment and poor governance enough?

Miami is international, diverse and multilingual, with English and Spanish being the dominant languages within the business sectors. Many are attracted to the city’s cosmopolitan style and sophisticated art and culture scene, culminating with Art Basel Miami Beach every December. You can find virtually every major restaurant from New York to London here, but the Miami locations usually include ample outdoor seating. The architecture is second to none, with buildings by the famed Zaha Hadid, Arquitectonica and landscaping by Raymond Jungles. While the Broadway play “Hamilton” was doubly sold out in New York City and London, you could catch the show for a fraction of the price at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Some people I know went twice.

Many say Miami — and any other coastal city — is best experienced from the water. Well, don’t let the fact that your custom-built megayacht hasn’t arrived yet stop you from getting that glowing tan. Miami-based Boatsetter, a startup that lets people rent other peoples’ boats, has a fleet waiting for you. Or perhaps you’d rather go for a meditative paddle on Biscayne Bay; you could use PADL, the recently launched Miami startup that aims to be the paddleboarding industry’s Lime.

Miami has always had fun and games. Still, in 2013, Manny Medina, one of Miami’s early tech entrepreneurs with a successful exit (he sold real-estate-turned-data center Terremark to Verizon for $1.4 billion in 2012), launched eMerge Americas, an annual tech conference. It unofficially established Miami as a tech hub that connects the Americas. By 2019, the event attracted more than 16,000 attendees from 400 participating companies and more than 40 countries. With a world-class airport within 15 minutes of the city center, few other cities can compete with Miami’s strategic geographic location and easy access. But the question remains: Can Miami become another great tech hub?

It’s certainly headed in the right direction, and some investors are bullish on the market while others, who are more cautious, think it’s too soon to say.

Miami’s hot sectors include healthcare, proptech, fintech, elder tech, logistics and edtech. Exits to know include Chewy (whose $3.35 billion exit in 2017 resulted in the largest e-commerce sale to date), the well-funded YellowPepper acquisition by Visa (terms not disclosed), and 2020’s darlings include Ascyrus Medical, which went for $200 million and CareCloud for $32 million.

Those still on the runway include Nearpod, Magic Leap, Ultimate Software, ShipMonk, CarePredict, MDLIVE, Papa, Caribu, Brave Health and REEF, among others. Then, there’s the new kids on the block, such as UpsideHōm, HealthSnap, Domaselo, Secberus, Marco Financial, Birdie, Kiddie Kredit, ConciergePad and Sustalytics.

Miami has long been known as a wealthy enclave bursting at the seams with money. Still, historically, that money has gone into safer and more traditional investments such as real estate. The notion of writing a $100,000 check for an idea and then forgetting about it is still very rare. Many local investors tend to be slower to move and often still prefer the round being led by an outsider who has experience vetting deals, a common complaint by local founders who find themselves seeking funding across the country. But with more VC money in town now, smart capital should be more accessible.

That being said, one of the main things the area has going for it, and which can’t be replicated, is its people and their propensity to build, grow and welcome others. “The community is super welcoming and always has time for new people; it’s wonderful and not something I’ve ever experienced before,” said Mark Kingdon of Quixotic Ventures. Organizations that have catalyzed the movement over the years include the Knight Foundation, Endeavor, Miami Angels (Florida’s largest angel investment collective), Refresh Miami (an organization that provides startup news, events and creates community), Venture Cafe (a weekly gathering with educational programming for innovators), 500 Startups and The Venture City.

While Miami’s diversity is as ingrained in the culture as the cafecito breaks, the local tech community has been, and continues to be, adamant about putting diversity, inclusion and gender equity at the forefront of Miami tech. In a recent Miami Tech Manifesto, drafted up by community members themselves, Miami tech told the world how things would continue to work around here. Women may not run the world yet — it’s debatable — but it’s fair to say they run Miami tech, and they are bringing everyone else with them.

Miami tech is in a nascent phase to the outside world, and it allows the locals and newcomers to learn from major tech hubs’ mistakes and decidedly do things differently. For many, the dream is that Miami comes to enjoy the economic prosperity of places like San Francisco and New York City while maintaining the current tech community’s focus on building a Miami for all.

#miami, #softbank, #tc

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Institutional trust is the real meme

Hello friends, this is Week in Review.

Last week, I dove into the AR maneuverings of Apple and Facebook and what that means for the future of the web. This week, I’m aiming to touch the meme stock phenomenon that dominated American news cycles this week and see if there’s anything worth learning from it, with an eye towards the future web.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox every Saturday morning from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


Robin Hood statue in Nottingham

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

The big thing

This week was whatever you wanted it to be. A rising up of the proletariat. A case of weaponized disinformation. A rally for regulation… or perhaps deregulation of financial markets. Choose your own adventure with the starting point being one flavor of chaos leading into a slightly more populist blend of chaos.

At the end of it, a lot of long-time financiers are confused, a lot of internet users are using rent money to buy stock in Tootsie Roll, a lot of billionaires are finding how intoxicating adopting a “for-the-little-guy!” persona on Twitter can be, and here I am staring at the ceiling wondering if there’s any institution in the world trustworthy enough that the internet can’t turn it into a lie.

This week, my little diddy is about meme stocks, but more about the idea that once you peel away the need to question why you actually trust something, it can become easier to just blindly place that faith in more untrustworthy places. All the better if those places are adjacent to areas where others place trust.

The Dow Jones had its worst week since October because retail investors, organized in part on Reddit, turned America’s financial markets into the real front page of the internet. Boring, serious stocks like Facebook and Apple reported their earnings and the markets adjusted accordingly, but in addition to the serious bits of news, the Wall Street page was splashed with break neck gains from “meme stocks.” While junk stocks surging is nothing new, the idea that a stock can make outrageous gains based on nothing and then possibly hold that value based on a newly formed shared trust is newer and much more alarming.

The most infamous of these stocks was GameStop. (If you’re curious about GameStop’s week, there are at least 5 million stories across the web to grab your attention, here’s one. Side note: collectively we seem to have longer attention spans post-Trump.)

So, Americans already don’t have too much institutional faith. Looking through some long-standing Gallup research, compared to the turn of the century, faith in organized religion, the media, most wings of government, big business and banks has decreased quite a bit. The outliers in what Americans do seem to trust more than they did 20 or so years ago are small businesses and the military.

This is all to say that it’s probably not stellar that people don’t trust anything, and me thinking that the internet could probably disrupt every trusted institution except the military probably only shows my lack of creative thinking when it comes to how the web could democratize the Defense Department. As you might guess from that statement, I think democratizing access to certain institutions can be bad. I say that with about a thousand asterisks leading to footnotes that you’ll never find. I also don’t think the web is done disrupting institutional trust by a long shot, for better or worse.

Democratizing financial systems sounds a lot better from a populist lift, until you realize that the guys users are competing against are playing a different game with other people’s money. This saga will change plenty of lives but it won’t end particularly well for a most people exposed to “infinite upside” day trading.

Until this week, in my mind Robinhood was only reckless because it was exposing (or “democratizing access to” — their words) consumers to risk in a way that most of them probably weren’t equipped to handle. Now, I think that they’re reckless because they didn’t anticipate that OR how democratized access could lead to so many potential doomsday scenarios and bankrupt Robinhood. They quietly raised a $1 billion liquidity lifeline this week after they had to temporarily shut down meme stock trading, a move that essentially torched their brand and left them the web’s most hated institution. (Facebook had a quiet week)

This kind of all feeds back into this idea I’ve been feeding that scale can be very dangerous. Platforms seem to need a certain amount of head count to handle global audiences, and almost all of them are insufficiently staffed. Facebook announced this week in its earnings call that it has nearly 60,000 employees. This is a company that now has its own Supreme Court; that’s too big. If your institution is going to be massive and centralized, chances are you need a ton of people to moderate it. That’s something at odds with most existing internet platforms. Realistically, the internet would probably be happier with fewer of these sweeping institutions and more intimate bubbles that are loosely connected. That’s something that the network effects of the past couple decades have made harder but regulation around data portability could assist with.

Writing this newsletter, something I’m often reminded is that while it feels like everything is always changing, few things are wholly new. This great NYT profile from 2001 written by Michael Lewis is a great reminder of that, chronicling a 15-year-old who scammed the markets by using a web of dummy accounts and got hounded by the SEC but still walked away with $500k. Great read.

In the end, things will likely quiet down at Robinhood. There’s also the distinct chance that they don’t and that those meme traders just ignited a revolution that’s going to bankrupt the company and torch the globals markets, but you know things will probably go back to normal.

 

Until next week,
Lucas Matney


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Other things

SEC is pissed
I’ll try to keep these updates GameStop free, but one quick note from the peanut gallery. The SEC isn’t all that happy about the goings ons in the market this week and they’re mad, probably mostly at Robinhood. They got pretty terse with their statement. More

Facebook Oversight Board wants YOU
Zuckerberg’s Supreme Court wants public comment as it decides whether Facebook should give Trump his Instagram and Facebook accounts back. I’m sure any of Facebook’s executives would’ve stopped building the platform dead in its tracks in the years after its founding if they knew just how freaking complicated moderation was going to end up being for them, but you could probably have changed their mind back by showing them the market cap. More

Apple adtech-killing update drops in spring
After delaying its launch, Apple committed this week to the spring rollout of its “App Tracking Transparency” feature that has so much of the adtech world pissed. The update will force apps to essentially ask users whether they’d like to be tracked across apps. More

Robert Downey Jr. bets on startups
Celebrity investing has been popular forever, but it’s gotten way more common in the venture world in recent years. Reputation transfer teamed with the fact that money is so easy to come by for top founders, means that if you are choosing from some second-tier fund or The Chainsmokers, you might pick The Chainsmokers. On that note, actor Robert Downey Jr. raised a rolling fund to back climate tech startups, we’ve got all the deets. More

WeWork SPAC
Ah poor Adam Neumann, poor SoftBank. If only they’d kept their little “tech company” under wraps for another couple years and left that S-1 for a kinder market with less distaste for creative framing. It seems that WeWork is the next target to get SPAC’d and be brought onto public markets via acquisition. I’m sure everything will go fine. More

Tim Cook and Zuckerberg spar
Big tech is a gentlemen’s game, generally big tech CEOs play nice with each other in public and save their insults for the political party that just fell out of power. This week, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg were a little less friendly. Zuckerberg called out Apple by name in their earnings investor call and floated some potential unfair advantages that Apple might have. Them’s fighting words. Cook was more circumspect as usual and delivered a speech that was at times hilariously direct in the most indirect way possible about how much he hates Facebook. More


Extra things

Tidbits from our paywalled Extra Crunch content:
The 5 biggest mistakes I made as a first-time startup founder
“I and the rest of the leadership team would work 12-hour days, seven days a week. And that trickled down into many other employees doing the same. I didn’t think twice about sending emails, texts or slacks at night and on weekends. As with many startups, monster hours were simply part of the deal.”

Fintechs could see $100 billion of liquidity in 2021
“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.”

Rising African venture investment powers fintech, clean tech bets in 2020
“What is driving generally positive venture capital results for Africa in recent quarters? Giuliani told TechCrunch in a follow-up email that ‘investment in Africa is being driven on the one hand by a broadening base for early-stage ecosystem support organizations, including accelerators, seed funds, syndicates and angel investing,” and “consolidation,” which is aiding both “growth-stage deals and a burgeoning M&A market.’”

 

#adam-neumann, #africa, #america, #apple, #apple-inc, #banking, #computing, #department-of-defense, #facebook, #gamestop, #lucas-matney, #mark-zuckerberg, #mike, #robinhood, #softbank, #supreme-court, #tc, #technology, #the-social-network, #tim-cook, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission, #week-in-review, #wework

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SoftBank launches a $100 million fund for Miami-based startups

Miami, an emerging startup hub, has a new check-writer in town: SoftBank. The Japanese multinational conglomerate announced plans today to invest $100 million, drawn from across its funds, into Miami-based startups. Notably, SoftBank’s $5 billion Latin America fund is headquartered in Miami, as well.

The initiative is led by SoftBank CEO Marcelo Claure. The fund will back companies who are in Miami or plan to move there.

A SoftBank check is somewhat of a Silicon Valley rite-of-passage, so the firm’s involvement in the scene will likely signal to others that the growth of Miami is something to be taken seriously. The tax-free haven is attracting swathes of investors and founders from around the country looking to join the growing scene. Relocators include Keith Rabois of Founders Fund, David Blumberg of Blumberg Capital, Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz and David Sacks of Craft Ventures.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has been on a Twitter tear asking techies to move to Miami, has spearheaded much of the efforts to turn the city into a startup epicenter.

Ruben Harris, founder of Career Karma, has been working with Suarez since 2018 to help people break into tech.

“Now that Softbank has made this move, we will see more funds follow their example and this is a huge win for diversity not just from a race perspective, but also from a socioeconomic perspective, and from a gender perspective,” Harris said, who is thinking about moving to the city. Career Karma is currently working with VC funds to get old laptops into its Reskill America program, to help train an emerging workforce in Miami.

Nico Berardi, the founder of Miami-based fund ANIMO Ventures, connected the new SoftBank initiative to the recent announcement by San Francisco’s Founders Fund to open an office in Miami.

“Both are symbolic and I think symbols matter,” Berardi said. “[They] are planting a flag here and saying look this is a viable scene.” Of his 16 portfolio companies, Berardi says only one startup is based in Miami. With more and more investors moving to the city, Berardi is optimistic that it can magnetize more talent to move, too.

“I’m hopeful that this can attract tens or hundreds of founders to build their next thing in Miami,” he said.

#francis-suarez, #miami, #softbank, #tc

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