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As Monday.com targets $6B+ IPO valuation, Zoom and Salesforce commit $150M

By Alex Wilhelm

Team management software company Monday.com dropped a new IPO filing today. The latest document — an F-1/A, because the company is based in Israel — provides what could be Monday.com’s final pre-IPO pricing notes and details planned investments from both Zoom and Salesforce after its public offering closes.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


Monday.com’s price range of $125 to $140 per share values it north of $6 billion at the top end of its target interval, a steep upgrade from its final private price recorded in mid-2019.

Let’s quickly unpack its IPO valuation range, discuss the private placements that Zoom and Salesforce plan, and parse what Monday.com’s IPO news means for the broader public offering window.

Because the company is expected to price tomorrow and trade Thursday, we’re looking at data that could prove final, unless Monday.com manages to push its IPO price range higher or prices above its current estimates. Given the sheer number of IPOs that are either filed or rapidly forthcoming, Monday.com could prove to be a bellwether for the larger unicorn software exit market. Therefore, its debut matters to more than itself, its employees and its venture backers.

What’s Monday.com worth?

There are a few ways to value a company as it goes public. The first is its so-called simple valuation. To calculate a simple price for a debuting entity, we simply multiply the two extremes of its IPO price range by the number of shares it will have outstanding after its debut. That works out as follows in the case of Monday.com:

This SPAC is betting that a British healthcare company can shake up the US market

By Alex Wilhelm

Welcome back to the week, and welcome back to The Exchange. Robinhood has yet to file its IPO, so we’re looking at other companies in the meantime. Today it’s Babylon Health, a British healthtech company that is pursuing a U.S. listing via a blank-check company, or SPAC.

You have questions. I have questions. We’ll get to some answers.

But before we do, we wanted to note that Anna and I are looking into the AI startup market tomorrow morning. If you are a VC with notes regarding the current pace of investment into the sector or thoughts on where customer traction is highest, let us know. If you are a founder building an AI-powered startup, we’d also like to hear from you about what you are seeing. Use the subject line “AI startups,” please.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


With that out of the way, let’s get into Babylon Health. We’ll kick off with a short riff on its fundraising history, talk about its product, and then dive into its numbers and, bracing ourselves for impact, its projections.

The larger context this morning is that we’re doing legwork ahead of what could be a super active Q3 2021 IPO cycle. Kanzhun, a Chinese company, has also filed for a U.S. listing. Toss in Robinhood whenever it gets off its duff and gives us its own filing, and we’re being promised a good time.

Babylon Health

Per Crunchbase data, Babylon has raised north of $600 million as a private company. Its funding, however, has not come from sources that we tend to discuss here at TechCrunch. Instead, the company raised some money from more traditional investors like Hoxton Ventures and Kinnevik, but the bulk of its capital was raised from the Saudi Arabian “Public Investment Fund,” or PIF. The PIF led a $550 million round into the British healthtech company back in August 2019.

PitchBook has the round cut into two parts, the larger, first portion of which valued the company at $1.9 billion on a post-money basis.

That figure brings us to the SPAC deal that Babylon is now pursuing. The company’s new equity value after its SPAC deal will land around $4.2 billion, with Babylon sitting on around $540 million in cash after the deal is completed. The company will sport a lower, $3.6 billion enterprise valuation after its merger with SPAC Alkuri.

Google’s Gradient Ventures leads $8.2M Series A for Vault Platform’s misconduct reporting SaaS

By Natasha Lomas

Fixing workplace misconduct reporting is a mission that’s snagged London-based Vault Platform backing from Google’s AI focused fund, Gradient Ventures, which is the lead investor in an $8.2 million Series A that’s being announced today.

Other investors joining the round are Illuminate Financial, along with existing investors including Kindred Capital and Angular Ventures. Its $4.2M seed round was closed back in 2019.

Vault sells a suite of SaaS tools to enterprise-sized or large/scale-up companies to support them to pro-actively manage internal ethics and integrity issues. As well as tools for staff to report issues, data and analytics is baked into the platform — so it can support with customers’ wider audit and compliance requirements.

In an interview with TechCrunch, co-founder and CEO Neta Meidav said that as well as being wholly on board with the overarching mission to upgrade legacy reporting tools like hotlines provided to staff to try to surface conduct-related workplace risks (be that bullying and harassment; racism and sexism; or bribery, corruption and fraud), as you might expect Gradient Ventures was interested in the potential for applying AI to further enhance Vault’s SaaS-based reporting tool.

A feature of its current platform, called ‘GoTogether’, consists of an escrow system that allows users to submit misconduct reports to the relevant internal bodies but only if they are not the first or only person to have made a report about the same person — the idea being that can help encourage staff (or outsiders, where open reporting is enabled) to report concerns they may otherwise hesitate to, for various reasons.

Vault now wants to expand the feature’s capabilities so it can be used to proactively surface problematic conduct that may not just relate to a particular individual but may even affect a whole team or division — by using natural language processing to help spot patterns and potential linkages in the kind of activity being reported.

“Our algorithms today match on an alleged perpetrator’s identity. However many events that people might report on are not related to a specific person — they can be more descriptive,” explains Meidav. “For example if you are experiencing some irregularities in accounting in your department, for example, and you’re suspecting that there is some sort of corruption or fraudulent activity happening.”

“If you think about the greatest [workplace misconduct] disasters and crises that happened in recent years — the Dieselgate story at Volkswagen, what happened in Boeing — the common denominator in all these cases is that there’s been some sort of a serious ethical breach or failure which was observed by several people within the organization in remote parts of the organization. And the dots weren’t connected,” she goes on. “So the capacity we’re currently building and increasing — building upon what we already have with GoTogether — is the ability to connect on these repeated events and be able to connect and understand and read the human input. And connect the dots when repeated events are happening — alerting companies’ boards that there is a certain ‘hot pocket’ that they need to go and investigate.

“That would save companies from great risk, great cost, and essentially could prevent huge loss. Not only financial but reputational, sometimes it’s even loss to human lives… That’s where we’re getting to and what we’re aiming to achieve.”

There is the question of how defensible Vault’s GoTogether feature is — how easily it could be copied — given you can’t patent an idea. So baking in AI smarts may be a way to layer added sophistication to try to maintain a competitive edge.

“There’s some very sophisticated, unique technology there in the backend so we are continuing to invest in this side of our technology. And Gradient’s investment and the specific we’re receiving from Google now will only increase that element and that side of our business,” says Meidav when we ask about defensibility.

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Gradient Ventures founder and managing partner, Anna Patterson, added: “Vault tackles an important space with an innovative and timely solution. Vault’s application provides organizations with a data-driven approach to tackling challenges like occupational fraud, bribery or corruption incidents, safety failures and misconduct. Given their impressive team, technology, and customer traction, they are poised to improve the modern workplace.”

The London-based startup was only founded in 2018 — and while it’s most keen to talk about disrupting legacy hotline systems, which offer only a linear and passive conduit for misconduct reporting, there are a number of other startups playing in the same space. Examples include the likes of LA-based AllVoices, YC-backed WhispliHootsworth and Spot to name a few.

Competition seems likely to continue to increase as regulatory requirements around workplace reporting keep stepping up.

The incoming EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is one piece of regulation Vault expects will increase demand for smarter compliance solutions — aka “TrustTech”, as it seeks to badge it — as it will require companies of more than 250 employees to have a reporting solution in place by the end of December 2021, encouraging European businesses to cast around for tools to help shrink their misconduct-related risk.

She also suggests a platform solution can help bridge gaps between different internal teams that may need to be involved in addressing complaints, as well as helping to speed up internal investigations by offering the ability to chat anonymously with the original reporter.

Meidav also flags the rising attention US regulators are giving to workplace misconduct reporting — noting some recent massive awards by the SEC to external whistleblowers, such as the $28M paid out to a single whistleblower earlier this year (in relation to the Panasonic Avionics consultant corruption case).

She also argues that growing numbers of companies going public (such as via the SPAC trend, where there will have been reduced regulatory scrutiny ahead of the ‘blank check’ IPO) raises reporting requirements generally — meaning, again, more companies will need to have in place a system operated by a third party which allows anonymous and non-anonymous reporting. (And, well, we can only speculate whether companies going public by SPAC may be in greater need of misconduct reporting services vs companies that choose to take a more traditional and scrutinized route to market… )

“Just a few years back I had to convince investors that this category it really is a category — and fast forward to 2021, congratulations! We have a market here. It’s a growing category and there is competition in this space,” says Meidav.

“What truly differentiates Vault is that we did not just focus on digitizing an old legacy process. We focused on leveraging technology to truly empower more misconduct to surface internally and for employees to speak up in ways that weren’t available for them before. GoTogether is truly unique as well as the things that we’re doing on the operational side for a company — such as collaboration.”

She gives an example of how a customer in the oil and gas sector configured the platform to make use of an anonymous chat feature in Vault’s app so they could provide employees with a secure direct-line to company leadership.

“They’ve utilizing the anonymous chat that the app enables for people to have a direct line to leadership,” she says. “That’s incredible. That is such a progress, forward looking way to be utilizing this tool.”

Vault Platform’s suite of tools include an employee app and a Resolution Hub for compliance, HR, risk and legal teams (Image credits: Vault Platform)

Meidav says Vault has around 30 customers at this stage, split between the US and EU — its core regions of focus.

And while its platform is geared towards enterprises, its early customer base includes a fair number of scale-ups — with familiar names like Lemonade, Airbnb, Kavak, G2 and OVO Energy on the list.

Scale ups may be natural customers for this sort of product given the huge pressures that can be brought to bear upon company culture as a startup switches to expanding headcount very rapidly, per Meidav.

“They are the early adopters and they are also very much sensitive to events such as these kind of [workplace] scandals as it can impact them greatly… as well as the fact that when a company goes through a hyper growth — and usually you see hyper growth happening in tech companies more than in any other type of sector — hyper growth is at time when you really, as management, as leadership, it’s really important to safeguard your culture,” she suggests.

“Because it changes very, very quickly and these changes can lead to all sorts of things — and it’s really important that leadership is on top of it. So when a company goes through hyper growth it’s an excellent time for them to incorporate a tool such as Vault. As well as the fact that every company that even thinks of an IPO in the coming months or years will do very well to put a tool like Vault in place.”

Expanding Vault’s own team is also on the cards after this Series A close, as it guns for the next phase of growth for its own business. Presumably, though, it’s not short of a misconduct reporting solution.

Not every SPAC is pure garbage

By Richard Dal Porto

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Happy Saturday everyone. Despite it being a short week I feel pretty run over from the sheer news volume that we’ve put up with in the last few days. So let’s pause, repine and talk about SPACs as a nice little treat.

No, we’re not going through a SPAC investor presentation teardown today. Though we will dig into the Babylon Health SPAC on Monday. Instead, we’re discussing the SoFi and BarkBox blank-check deals.

Both began to trade this week after announcing their public debuts some time ago. And things went just fine? Here’s CNBC on SoFi’s first minutes as a public company:

SoFi, short for Social Finance, went public by merging with Social Capital Hedosophia Corp V, a blank-check company run by venture capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya. The stock closed up more than 12% to $22.65.

That’s not only a win for SoFi, but also for the somewhat-embattled Chamath Palihapitiya, whose SPAC bets have lost some luster in recent months; of course all SPAC-led debuts are speculative, but some retail traders appeared to index more on Palihapitiya’s reputation than fundamentals — what can you do!

BarkBox also did perfectly ok when it began to trade this week after its own SPAC combination was consummated, as Barrons reported:

BARK stock (ticker: BARK) jumped about 7.5% on Wednesday, to trade at around $12 in the afternoon. That gives the company a market value of close to $2.4 billion.

BarkBox stock has since given up some of its gains, but managed to get public without falling below its initial SPAC price. That’s a win given how market conditions have shifted since its flotation was initially announced.

Two wins in a single week is good news for SPAC-land and the myriad players on the blank-check and startup sides of the marketplace. Naturally two solid results does not a trend make, but it seems clear that for companies with material revenues the SPAC-route is not as potholed as we might have expected.

The crypto wager

If you think SPACs are generally annoying, just wait until we fuse the blank-check boom with crypto. As we are about to do!

This week Circle, a crypto-focused company with a particular taste for stablecoins, raised $440 million. That was an ocean of capital for a company best known for the USDC stablecoin; it is also reported to be considering a SPAC-led IPO.

What is a stablecoin? It’s a cryptocurrency that is pegged to a fiat currency. In the case of USDC, as you surmised, the coin is pegged to the US dollar. Stablecoins are useful fiat comps inside the crypto world and have proven to be hugely popular.

Circle’s USDC has $22.8 billion worth of supply in circulation, it claims, and several billion in daily transactions, per CoinMarketCap data. That’s not bad! But what isn’t as clear to your humble servant is precisely how the firm generates huge revenues at super-attractive gross margins. Which is what we’d expect from a company that just locked down nearly a half-billion dollars (or USDC, we suppose) in private capital in a single go.

So, for once, bring on the SPAC. Because we want to see the damn numbers, and quickly, given our sheer curiosity.

Growth?

Wrapping, Ron and I got to dig into a number of public companies’ earnings reports the other day, essentially discovering that the vaunted digital transformation acceleration is actually coming true for some companies.

This week’s news continued the argument. Zoom’s earnings, for example, backed up our thesis. Its revenues were up 191% in Q1 F2022 compared to Q1 F2021. That’s just bonkers good.

On the other end of the spectrum are Dropbox and Box, which are under fresh pressure this week from external investors. The pair of former private-market darlings have run into a growth wall and are taking incoming fire due to it. Grow or die is more than just startup advice. It’s what software companies need to do if they want to stay in charge of their own destiny.

Alex

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

By Alex Wilhelm

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

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


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


Zilch is now worth $800 million.

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

Growth versus profitability

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

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

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

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

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

  • Global GMV of $18.9 billion, +91% compared to the year-ago result.

AI cybersecurity provider SentinelOne files for $100M IPO

By Carly Page

SentinelOne, a late-stage security startup that helps organizations secure their data using AI and machine learning, has filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In an S-1 filing on Thursday, the security company revealed that for the three months ending April 30, its revenues increased by 108% year-on-year to $37.4 million and its customer base grew to 4,700, up from 2,700 a year prior. Despite this pandemic-fueled growth, SentinelOne’s net losses more than doubled from $26.6 million in 2020 to $62.6 million.

“We also expect our operating expenses to increase in the future as we continue to invest for our future growth, including expanding our research and development function to drive further development of our platform, expanding our sales and marketing activities, developing the functionality to expand into adjacent markets, and reaching customers in new geographic locations,” SentinelOne wrote in its filing.

The Mountain View-based company said it intends to list its Class A common stock using the ticker symbol “S” and that details about the price range and number of common shares to be put up for the IPO are yet to be determined. The S-1 filing also identifies Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Securities, Barclays and Wells Fargo Securities as the lead underwriters.

SentinelOne raised $276 million in a funding round in November last year, tripling its $1 billion valuation from February 2020 to $3 billion. At the time, CEO and founder Tomer Weingarten told TechCrunch that an IPO “would be the next logical step” for the company.

SentinelOne, which was founded in 2013 and has raised a total of $696.5 million through eight rounds of funding, is looking to raise up to $100 million in its IPO, and said it’s intending to use the net proceeds to increase its visibility in the cybersecurity marketplace and for product development and other “general corporate processes.”

It added that “may also use a portion of the net proceeds for the acquisition of, or investment in, technologies, solutions, or businesses that complement our business.” The company’s sole acquisition so far took place back in February when it bought high-speed logging startup Scalyr for $155 million.

SentinelOne is going public during a period of heightened public interest in cybersecurity. There has been a wave of high-profile cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with hackers taking advantage of widespread remote working necessitated as a result.

One of the biggest attacks saw Russian hackers breach the networks of IT company SolarWinds, enabling them to gain access to government agencies and corporations. SentinelOne’s endpoint protection solution was able to detect and stop the related malicious payload, protecting its customers.

“The world is full of criminals, state actors, and other hostile agents who seek to exfiltrate and exploit data to disrupt our way of life,” Weingarten said in SentinelOne’s SEC filing. “Our mission is to keep the world running by protecting and securing the core pillars of modern infrastructure: data and the systems that store, process, and share information. This is an endless mission as attackers evolve rapidly in their quest to disrupt operations, breach data, turn profit, and inflict damage.”

The existential cost of decelerated growth

By Alex Wilhelm

What happens to technology companies with slowing growth and a rising focus on profitability before they reach behemoth scale? How much does the market value hypergrowth?

Just because a technology startup has a hot start, that doesn’t mean it will grow quickly forever. Most will wind up somewhere in the middle — or worse. Put simply, there is a larger number of tech companies that do fine or a little bit worse after they reach scale.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


 

But what every investor hopes for is the hot company that can keep growth alive even after reaching material scale, running through walls, competitors, economic headwinds and anything else that comes its way. Those companies don’t end up worth a few hundred million, or a billion, but can end up valued in the dozens of billions or more.

In reverse, tech companies — even those with strong gross margins — with slipping growth can see their multiples compress rapidly. Then, the vultures circle.

Which explains some of the news we’ve seen recently in the market. As Dropbox comes under fresh pressure from external parties, joining its erstwhile rival Box in the public-market growth penalty box, we’re seeing companies like Braze, Gong, Shippo and others rip ahead with rapid-fire funding rounds or public brags about their growth.

While the differential between the two groups is clear, it’s still worth exploring in more detail. Let’s talk about the growth dividend. Or, if you’d prefer, the existential cost of growth deceleration.

Grow or die

The news this week that Dropbox has attracted an activist shareholder should not have been a surprise. Its former rival Box is in the midst of a long-running struggle with an activist investor of its own. (More here.)

Crypto sure requires a lot of fiat

By Richard Dal Porto

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Hello from Friday, I presume that you are currently enjoying the long weekend. In celebration for this week’s Exchange letter we’ll try something new by being brief. 

If you are tired of hearing about cryptocurrencies, I have bad news. They are not only not going away, but it appears that the financial cannon that have helped clear the fields for their general advance are reloading with even more financial ammunition.

At least that’s what Eric Newcomer is reporting in a post out this week aptly titled “a16z Crypto Fund Balloons to $2 Billion.”

This raises a few points. First! That there is enough LP demand to fund a crypto vehicle to the tune of $2 billion. Second! That there are enough hot crypto ideas out there worth sticking $2 billion into.

I can entirely believe the former, but the latter stretches my brain a little. Not that there aren’t great companies being built in the blockchain space; Coinbase’s Q1 earnings indicate that you can make money with crypto. But it seems that the firms that have proven the most successful thus far are more a hybrid of the traditional banking world and the crypto space than entirely inhabitants of the latter.

But as those ideas have been mined to increasing perfection, we should anticipate seeing money chase the more experimental crypto ideas. As I noted in the Daily Crunch yesterday, there’s a lot of money already going into those markets:

[Y]ou’ve heard of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. If you have already digested the NBA TopShot hype wave, buckle in, because a lot of folks are still building in the NFT world. That includes Anima, which is bringing AR to NFTs and just raised new capital from Coinbase, and Infinite Objects, which just raised $6 million to help folks bring their NFTs IRL.

This is where venture investing in crypto — and that mammoth a16z fund — gets interesting.

Sure, crypto exchanges can make money. But what about the further reaches of the crypto economy? Can they build material revenues that the fiat world can understand and go public? (Do they even want to go public?)

It’s a pleasure to watch other people wager other people’s money on ideas that may fail. Heads they lose, tails we win. Not bad!

Twitter’s subscription (and media?) moment

Twitter’s “Blue” subscription product is slowly dripping its way into the market. I’m going to buy it, whatever it is.

But what I can’t get out of my head is that Twitter is very well positioned to build a sort of creator nirvana. After all, Twitter is already where many writers, journalists and artists hang out. Where we already have a following. Why not help us weirdos leverage all the time we’ve spent on the platform?

You can see how this could scale. Now that Twitter has bought startups Revue and Scroll, it could build a newsletter platform where Blue subscriber money is divvied up amongst writers for its platform. Or Twitter could buy Medium, as a friend suggested to me the other day. Medium has a huge subscriber base, which Twitter could merge into Blue and provide a sort of extra-social-network-network for writers and other creatives. Right?

If I had a few billion dollars, a few thousand engineers and a dictate from shareholders to grow, I’d go hog-wild and do some crazy shit. Let’s see what Twitter comes up with, but let’s hope that they aren’t making small plans.

Closing, you can catch up on all we wrote on The Exchange during the week here. Have a truly lovely break, we all need one.

Alex

Doximity’s S-1 may explain why healthcare exits are heating up

By Natasha Mascarenhas

There was a time when this column was more than a never-ending run of IPO coverage. Then the unicorn liquidity cycle kicked off and it’s been a long run of public offerings ever since. This morning is no exception.

Doximity filed to go public earlier today. You likely haven’t heard of the company because it exists in the modestly obscure world of telehealth. But it’s a venture-backed startup all the same that raised more than $80 million from investors like Emergence, InterWest Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Threshold, according to Crunchbase data.

Notably, Doximity has not fundraised since 2014, a year in which it attracted just under $82 million at a valuation of $355 million, per PitchBook data. How has it managed to not raise for so long? By generating lots of cash and profit over the years. Healthtech communications, it turns out, can be a lucrative endeavor.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


Doximity is a social network that allows doctors to speak to each other while complying with HIPAA, a federal law that promotes medical privacy. The network, originally defined as a LinkedIn for medical professionals, gives doctors a Rolodex for specialists, a newsfeed for healthcare updates, a communication tool to talk to patients, and a job search tool.

In 2017, Doximity claimed that it reached 70% of all U.S. doctors, more than 800,000 licensed professionals.

This is CEO Jeff Tangney’s second time bringing a healthtech company public after his previous medical software startup, Epocrates, debuted in 2011.

Let’s chat briefly about the larger healthtech exit market and then dig into Doximity’s IPO filing and get our heads around how the company managed to avoid private-market dilution for seven years — and what the company may be worth.

Healthtech exits

The global digital health market is estimated to hit $221 billion by 2026, underscoring how large an opportunity the sector may present to venture capitalists. But investors aren’t merely just paying attention to estimates; they are seeing a number of exits in digital health (read: liquidity) that are warming up their checkbooks.

CB Insights estimates that there were 79 healthcare IPOs and M&A transactions in Q1 2021 alone, a 60% increase from the quarter prior. Another report says that there were 145 acquisitions of digital health companies in 2020, up from a solid 113 in 2019.

While still growing, it’s fair to say that those figures describe a healthy exit environment.

The list of deals in the market is rapid-fire. Earlier this year, Everlywell, founded in 2015, acquired two healthcare companies to expand its digital health service and distribution. Last week, Modern Fertility was bought by Ro for north of $225 million in a majority-equity deal. Before you start complaining that it’s not an IPO, consider this: A less than four-year-old company just got bought for a quarter of a billion dollars by another company that is less than four years old.

Acorns’ SPAC listing depicts a consumer fintech business with a SaaSy revenue mix

By Alex Wilhelm

Another day, another unicorn public offering.

Today it’s Acorns, a consumer fintech service that blends saving and investing into a freemium product. It’s a company that TechCrunch has covered extensively since its birth, including through the pandemic’s impact on its business, both good and bad.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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


Acorns fits inside the larger savings-and-investing boom seen over the last four or five quarters as consumers buffeted by the economic changes brought on by COVID-19 turned to stashing cash and boosting their equities investing cadence.

By now this is old news, but we haven’t had a clear picture of the economics of consumer fintech startups accelerated by the pandemic. Now that Acorns has decided to list via a SPAC — more on that in a moment — we do.

So this morning, we’re unpacking the Acorns deal and its investor deck, but we’re also trying to better understand why venture capitalists have poured so very much money into the space and the resulting economic picture that arises from the companies that they have funded. Acorns is our test subject, then.

We’ll start with a quick overview of its SPAC-led deal before getting into its results. Into the breach!

The Acorns SPAC deal

If your eyes are blurring as we review yet another SPAC transaction’s details, I get you. Let’s be brief. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Acorns is merging with Pioneer Merger Corp., a public blank-check company
  • Acorns CEO Noah Kerner and “Pioneer’s sponsor” are each giving 10% of their equity to select customers
  • When combined, the entity will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol OAKS

You know, the thing you plant acorns to grow. Har har.

Here are the financial details of the transaction, via the company’s investor deck:

Image Credits: Acorns investor deck

Flywire’s flotation suggests the IPO slowdown is behind us

By Alex Wilhelm

Boston-based payment processor Flywire announced its IPO pricing last night. The company sold 10.44 million shares at $24 per share, the upper limit of its $22 to $24 per share price range. At that share count and price, Flywire’s gross IPO proceeds stood at $250.6 million.

Renaissance Capital pegs the company’s fully diluted valuation at $2.8 billion. Using a simple share count, the company is worth $2.40 billion at its IPO price.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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The Flywire IPO is neat from a financial perspective and notable in that it’s a Boston exit as opposed to yet another New York or San Francisco-based flotation. It’s nice to see some other cities put points on the board.

But more than that, this IPO is a useful measuring stick for keeping tabs on the IPO market as a whole. This year and the last are shaping up to be key exit periods for startups and unicorns of all shapes and sizes; many a venture capital fund return rests on these public debuts.

Indonesian crypto exchange Pintu gets $6M Series A led by Pantera, Intudo and Coinbase Ventures

By Catherine Shu

Along with the stock market, cryptocurrency is also seeing an uptick among retail investors in Indonesia. Pintu, a platform focused on first-time cryptocurrency buyers, announced today it has raised a $6 million Series A, led by Pantera Capital, Intudo Ventures and Coinbase Ventures.

Other participants in the round included Blockchain.com Ventures, Castle Island Ventures and Alameda Ventures.

The Indonesian Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (also known as Bappepti) began regulating Bitcoin and other cryptoassets as commodities two years ago, paving the way for licensed brokers like Pintu. Founded last year by Jeth Soetoyo to make it easier for first-time investors to purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, Pintu is registered under Bappebti and the Ministry of Communication and Informatics as a licensed cryptoassets broker.

A wave of interest in capital investing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among millennials who want alternatives to keeping their money in low-yield savings accounts, spurred interest in investment apps like Ajaib, Bibit and Pluang, which have all recently raised funding.

Many first-time investors are also looking at cryptocurrencies. According to Pintu’s internal estimates, last year Indonesia processed $10 billion USD in cryptoassets transactions, mostly through retail investors.

Pintu chief operating officer Andrew Adjiputro told TechCrunch in an email that many Indonesian retail traders see crypto as an alternative investment asset class, and that the majority of retail investors are aged 20 to 35 years old. But the company is starting to see more older investors as crypto gains popularity.

“Based on our internal survey, in terms of public’s top of mind asset classes, we see crypto as a top three asset class in Indonesia, alongside gold and mutual funds,” he said.

Other Indonesian cryptocurrency exchanges include Indodax and Tokocrypto. When asked how Pintu differentiates, Adjiputro said it focuses on the mass market to reach mainly first-time crypto users, and its value proposition lies in its mobile-first app, easy user experience and educational materials developed by the company.

“For most Indonesians, the concept of investing and trading is new, because historically penetration in these categories have been so low,” he explained. “So what we’re seeing is also the opportunity to help Indonesians understand the concept of investing/trading and along the way leapfrog investments into other asset classes. What this means is that there is a large base of underserved first time investors that demand a simple and intuitive trading platform where they are handheld from the start to finish and also educated on the fundamentals of investing/trading on top of that of crypto.”

Pintu’s new funding will be used on marketing, hiring and product development.

Inside Marqeta’s fascinating fintech IPO

By Alex Wilhelm

The IPO market is gearing up for a hot close to the second quarter and a hotter Q3.

That’s The Exchange’s takeaway from recent IPO filings from Monday.com (enterprise planning and communications) and a number of SPAC-led combinations from Bird (scooter sharing), Bright Machines (AI-powered microfactories) and others. Looking ahead, Squarespace (site design and hosting) will direct list this week, while Oatly (pressed grain juice) and Procore (construction tech) will price and complete traditional IPOs in the next few days.

Late last week, Marqeta (card issuing and payments tech) filed as well, and just this morning, Flywire (global payments) set a price range for its own debut. The two fintechs are our targets today, though we’ll take them in sequential posts.


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Public equities have seen some price declines in recent sessions, and there’s been observable multiples-compression afoot among both tech stocks and shares more generally. But many companies are betting that it remains a fertile moment to list. A slow drift downward in the value of technology revenue, in other words, is not stopping what could be an enthusiastic exit market from here to the end of the year.

Forget the larger market for now. Let’s narrow our focus to Marqeta, long a darling of the fintech market though less well-known than some companies in its sector due to its infrastructure nature.

If you are not familiar with Marqeta, it powers the payment card tech behind products that you use, like Square, a key customer and driver of the unicorn’s growth. Marqeta exhibits a number of fascinating fintech characteristics (majority revenue from interchange, a rabidly competitive market) that make it very interesting to unspool.

Canoo is being investigated by the SEC

By Kirsten Korosec

Canoo, the Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup that debuted on the Nasdaq public exchange earlier this year, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, just months after its merger with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp.

The investigation is broad, covering the Hennessy’s initial public offering and merger with Canoo, the company’s operations, business model, revenues, revenue strategy, customer agreements, earnings and other related topics, along with the recent departures of certain of the company’s officers, according to a quarterly earnings report posted Monday. Canoo learned of the investigation on April 29. Canoo’s share price fell more than 3% in after-hours trading following the release of its first-quarter earnings.

“The SEC has also informed the Company that the investigation does not mean that it has concluded that anyone has violated the law, and does not mean that it has a negative opinion of any person, entity or security. We intend to provide the requested information and cooperate fully with the SEC investigation,” Canoo noted in the regulatory filing. Canoo added that it does not consider the investigation or other lawsuits it is facing to be material to its business.

The SEC investigation follows a string of executive departures, a change to some of the core pieces of its business model, the loss of a key automotive partnership and at least one lawsuit brought by shareholders. And that’s just the activity since the first of the year.

Canoo started as Evelozcity in 2017, founded by former Faraday Future executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The company rebranded as Canoo in spring 2019 and debuted its first vehicle several months later. It was this first vehicle, as well as Canoo’s plan to offer it only as a subscription, that captured the attention of investors, companies and the media. Last year, Hyundai announced a partnership with Canoo to co-develop EVs, but that deal fell apart in early 2021 after the company changed its business model and decided to not offer engineering services to other automakers, according to comments made by the company’s chairman and now CEO Tony Aquila in a March investors’ call.

Canoo has sustained numerous executive departures, including co-founder and CEO Kranz, general counsel Andrew Wolstan, CFO Paul Balciunas and its head of powertrain development. Krause, who was the company’s first CEO, stepped down in August 2019. Last month, Canoo was also named as a defendant in two class-action complaints filed by shareholders.

Amid the executive exits and business pivots, the company has managed to narrow its quarterly losses despite an increase in R&D expenditures and no revenue. The company reported Monday a net loss of $15.2 million, or 7 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared to a loss of $30.9 million, or 37 cents a share, in the same period last year. The company said it ended the quarter with $641.9 million in cash and equivalents.

Fast growth pushes an unprofitable no-code startup into the public markets: Inside Monday.com’s IPO filing

By Alex Wilhelm

At long last, the Monday.com crew dropped an F-1 filing to go public in the United States. TechCrunch has long known that the company, which sells corporate productivity and communications software, has scaled north of $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

The countdown to its IPO filing — an F-1, because the company is based in Israel, rather than the S-1s filed by domestic companies — has been ticking for several quarters, so seeing Monday.com drop the document on this Monday morning was just good fun.


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The Exchange has been riffling through the document since it came out, and we’ve picked up on a few things to explore. We’ll start by looking at the company’s revenue growth on a historical basis to see if it has accelerated in recent quarters thanks to the pandemic. Then, we’ll turn to profitability, cash burn, share-based compensation expenses and product vision.

We’ll wrap at the end with a summary of what we’ve learned and also make sure to check out the company’s marketing spend, because I’m sure you’ve seen its digital ads.

It’s a lot to chew through, so no more dilly-dallying. Into the numbers!

As always, we’re starting with revenue growth because it’s still the single most important thing about any venture-backed company.

Revenue adds are accelerating

This is great news for the startup, its employees and its investors. From 2019 to 2020, Monday.com grew its revenues from $78.1 million to $161.1 million, or 106%.

From Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, the company’s revenues grew from $31.9 million to $59.0 million. That’s about 85% growth. So, by what measure do we mean that the company’s revenue growth is accelerating? Its sequential-quarter revenue growth is picking up. Observe the following:

Image Credits: Monday.com F-1 filing

From Q2 2019 to Q3 2019, the company added around $4 million in revenue. From Q2 2020 to Q3 2020, that number was $6.1 million. More recently, the company’s revenue added $7.6 million from Q3 2020 to Q4 2020, which accelerated to $8.8 million from the final quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. Of course, from an ever-larger base, the company’s growth rate may decline. But the super-clean and obvious expanding sequential revenue gains at the company are solid.

The fact that it added so much top line in recent quarters also helps explain why Monday.com is going public now. Sure, the markets are still near record highs and the pandemic is fading, but just look at that consistent growth! It’s investor catnip.

Maybe SPACs were a bad idea after all

By Richard Dal Porto

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Hello friends, I was out yesterday with what I’m calling Moderna Syndrome. Basically I got whacked by my second vaccine dose, and instead of enjoying a day off eating candy and spoiling my dogs I spent the entire day on the couch unable to move. All that’s to say that I missed Coinbase and DoorDash earnings when they came out.

Catching us up, Coinbase met its forecasts that it had previously released (more here), and today its stock is flat. DoorDash, in contrast, beat market expectations and is currently up just over 25% as I write to you.

But despite huge quarters from each, both companies are far below their recently set all-time highs. Coinbase is worth around $265 per share today, off from an all-time high of $429.54, which it set recently. And DoorDash is worth $145 this afternoon, far below its $256.09 52-week high.

They are not alone amongst recent public offerings that have lost steam. Many SPAC-led combinations are tanking. But while Coinbase and DoorDash are still richly valued at current levels and worth far more than they were as private companies, some startups that took SPAC money to float are not doing well, let alone as well.

As Bloomberg notes, five electric vehicle companies that SPAC’d their way to the public markets were worth $60 billion at one point. Now the collection of mostly revenue-free public EV companies have shed “more than $40 billion of market capitalization combined from their respective peaks.” Youch.

And SPAC hype-man and general investing bon vivant Chamath Palihapitiya is taking some stick for his deal’s returns as well. It’s all a bit messy. Which, to be fair, is pretty much what we’ve expected all along.

Not that there aren’t some SPAC-combinations that make sense. There are. But mostly it’s been more speculative hype than business substance. Perhaps that’s why Coinbase and DoorDash didn’t need to lean on crutches to get public. Sure, the market is still figuring out what they are actually worth, but that doesn’t mean that they are in any real trouble. But consider, for a moment, the companies that have agreed to go public via a SPAC before the correction and are still waiting for their deal to complete.

TFW ur forecast is conservative

The Exchange has been on the horn recently with a few public company CEOs after their earnings report. After those conversations, we have to talk a bit about guidance. Why? Because it’s a game that I find slightly annoying.

Some public companies simply don’t provide forecasts. Cool. Root doesn’t, for example, provide quarterly guidance. Fine. Other companies provide guidance, but only in a super-conservative format. This is in effect no guidance at all, in my view. Not that we’re being rude to companies per se, but they often wind up in a weird dance between telling the market something and telling it something useful.

Picking on Appian’s CEO as he’s someone I like, when discussing his own company’s forecasts Matt Calkins said that its guidance is “unfailingly conservative” — so much so that he said it was nearly frustrating. But he went on to argue that Appian is not short-run focused (good), and that if a company puts up big estimates it is more judged on the expectation of those results versus the realization of said results. That line of thinking immediately makes ultra-prudent guidance seem reasonable.

This is a philosophical argument more than anything, as Wall Street comes up with its own expectations. The financial rubber hits the road when companies guide under Wall Street’s own expectations or deliver results that don’t match those of external bettors. So guidance matters some, just not as much as people think.

BigCommerce’s CEO Brent Bellm helped provide some more guidance as to why public companies can guide a bit more conservatively than we might expect during our recent call. It helps them not overspend. He noted that if BigCommerce — which had a super solid quarter, by the by — is conservative in its planning (the font from which guidance flows, to some degree) it can’t deploy too much near-term capital.

In the case of BigCommerce, Bellm continued, he wants the company to overperform on revenue, but not adjusted profits. So, if revenue comes in ahead of expectations, it can spend more, but won’t work to maximize their near-term profitability. And he said that he’s told analysts just that. So keeping guidance low means that it won’t overspend and blast its adjusted profitability, while any upside allows for more aggressive spend?

Harumph, is my general take on all of the above. It’s very fine to have public company CEOs play the public game well, but what I’d greatly prefer is if they did something more akin to what startups do. High-growth tech companies often have a board-approved plan and an internal plan that is more aggressive. For public companies this would be akin to a base case and a stretch case. Let’s have both, please? I am tired of parsing sandbagged numbers for the truth.

Sure, by reporting a guidance range, public companies are doing some of that. But not nearly enough. I hate coyness for coyness’s sake!

That’s enough of a rant for today, more on BigCommerce earnings next week if we can fit it in. You can read more from The Exchange on Appian and the larger low-code movement here, if that’s your jam.

Never going back

We’re running a bit long today, so let me demount with some predictions.

Nearly every startup I’ve spoken to in the last year that had 20 or fewer staff at the time of the chat is a remote-first team. That’s due to their often being born during the pandemic, but also because many very early-stage startups are simply finding it easier to recruit globally because often the talent they need, can afford or can attract, is not in their immediate vicinity.

Startups are simply finding it critical to have relaxed work location rules to snag and, we presume, retain the talent that they need. And they are not alone. Big Tech is in similar straits. As The Information reported recently:

An internal Google employee message board lit up last Wednesday morning as news of what many staff perceived as a more relaxed policy for working remotely circulated. One meme shared on the board showed a person crying, labeled “Facebook recruiters.” Another showed a sad person labeled “San Francisco landlords.”

If you aren’t laughing, maybe you have a life. But I do this for a living, and I am dying at that quote.

Look, it’s clear that lots of people can do lots of work outside of an office, and even though labor purchasers (employers) want to run 1984-style operations on their employees (labor sellers) to ensure that they are Doing Precisely Enough, the actual denizens writing code are like, naw. And that’s just too much for Big Tech to handle as they are literally just cash flows held up by people who type for a living.

What this means is that tech is not going back to 100% in-office work or anything close to. At least not at companies that want to actually ensure that they have top-tier talent.

It’s a bit like when you see a company comprising only white men; you know that it doesn’t have nearly the best team that it could. Firms that enforce full-office policies are going to overindex on a particular demographic. And it won’t be to their benefit.

Alex

Edtech stocks are getting hammered but VCs keep writing checks

By Natasha Mascarenhas

After years in the backwaters of venture capital, edtech had a booming 2020. Not only did its products become must-haves after schools around the globe went remote, but investors also poured capital into leading projects. There was even some exit activity, with well-known edtech players like Coursera going public earlier this year.

But despite a rush of private capital — which has continued into this year, as we’ll demonstrate — edtech stocks have taken a hammering in recent weeks. So while venture capitalists and other startup investors are pumping more capital into the space in hopes of future outsize returns, the stock market is signaling that things might be heading in the other direction.

Who’s right? One investor that The Exchange spoke to noted that market turbulence is just that, and that he’s tuning into activity but not yet changing his investment strategy. At the same time, the recent volatility is worth tracking in case it’s a preview of edtech’s slowdown.


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Let’s look at the changing value of edtech stocks in recent months, parse some preliminary data via PitchBook that provides a good feel for the directional momentum of edtech venture capital, and try to see if there’s irrational exuberance among private investors.

You could argue that it’s public investors who are suffering from irrational pessimism and that private-market investors have the right to it. But since public markets price private markets, we tend to listen to them. Let’s go!

Falling shares

We’re sure that you want to get into the private-market data, so we’ll be brief in describing the public-market carnage. What follows is a digest of edtech stocks and their declines from recent highs:

  • Compared to its 52-week high, Chegg stock has lost over a third of its value.
  • After reaching $62.53 per share in April, Coursera has shed about half of its value and is trading close to its $33 IPO price.
  • 2U closed at $33.92 per share yesterday, its shares also losing half of their value compared to their 52-week high.
  • Staying on that theme, Stride (K12) closed at $26.77 per share yesterday, which is about half of its 52-week high.

Will fintech unicorn Flywire’s proposed IPO reach escape velocity?

By Alex Wilhelm

It’s a big morning for fintech startups today: Flywire, a Boston-based magnet for venture capital, has filed to go public.

Flywire is a global payments company that attracted more than $300 million as a startup, according to Crunchbase, most recently raising a $60 million Series F last month. We don’t have its most recent valuation, but PitchBook data indicates that the company’s February 2020, $120 million round valued Flywire at $1 billion on a post-money basis.

So what we’re looking at here is a fintech unicorn IPO. A great way to kick off the week, to be honest, though I’d thought that Robinhood would be the next such debut.

Fintech venture capital activity has been hot lately, which makes the Flywire IPO interesting. Its success or failure could dictate the pace of fintech exits and fintech startup valuations in general, so we have to care about it.


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


Regardless, we’re doing our regular work this morning. First, what does Flywire do and with whom does it compete? Then, a closer look at its financial results as we hope to get our hands around its revenue quality, aggregate economics and growth prospects.

After that, we’ll discuss valuations and which venture capital groups are set to do well in its flotation. The company had a number of backers, but Spark Capital, Temasek, F-Prime Capital, and Bain Capital Ventures made the major shareholder list, along with Goldman Sachs. So, a number of firms and funds are hoping for a big Flywire exit. Let’s dig in.

What is Flywire?

Flywire is a global payments company. Or, as it states in its S-1 filing, it’s “a leading global payments enablement and software company.” And it thinks that its market, and by extension itself, has lots of room to grow. While “substantial strides [have been] made in payments technology in the retail and e-commerce industries,” the company wrote, “massive sectors of our global economy—including education, healthcare, travel, and business-to-business, or B2B, payments—are still in the early stages of digital transformation.”

That’s the same logic behind Stripe’s epic valuation and the rising value of payments-focused companies like Finix.

Big Tech is now worth so much we’ve forgotten to be shocked by the numbers

By Alex Wilhelm

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. If you want it in your inbox every Saturday morning, sign up hereReady? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

TechCrunch isn’t a public-market-focused publication. We care about startups. But public tech companies can, at times, provide interesting insights into how the broader technology market is performing. So we pay what we might call minimum-viable attention to former startups that made it all the way to an IPO.

Then there are the Big Tech companies. In the United States the list is well-known: Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. And, in a series of results that could indicate a hot market for startup growth, they had a smashingly good first quarter of 2021. You can read our notes on their results here and here, but that’s just part of the story.

Yes, the Big Tech financial results were good — as they have been for some time — but lost amid the usual earnings deluge of numbers is how shockingly accretive Big Tech’s recent performances have proven for their valuations.

Microsoft fell as low as the $135 per-share range last March. Today it’s worth $252 and change. Alphabet traded down to around $1,070 per share. Today the search giant is worth $2,410 per share.

The result of the huge share-price appreciation is that Apple is now worth $2.21 trillion, Microsoft $1.88 trillion, Amazon $1.76 trillion, Alphabet $1.60 trillion and Facebook $0.93 trillion. That’s around $8.4 trillion for the five companies.

Back in July of 2017, I wrote a piece noting that their aggregate value had reached the $3 trillion mark. That became $4 trillion in mid-2018. And then in the next three years or so it more than doubled again.

Why?

Myles Udland, a reporter at our sister publication Yahoo Finance, has at least part of the puzzle in a piece he wrote this week. Here’s Udland:

And while it seems that almost every earnings story has sort of followed this same arc, data also confirms that this is not just our imagination: corporate earnings have never been this far out of line with expectations.

Data out of the team at Refinitiv published Thursday showed the rate at which companies were beating estimates and the magnitude by which they were beating expectations through Thursday morning’s results were the best on record.

So earnings are beating the street’s guesses more frequently, and at a higher differential, than ever? That makes recent stock-market appreciation less worrisome, I suppose. And it helps explain why startups have been able to raise so much capital lately in the United States, as they have in Europe, and why private-market investors are pouring so much capital into fintech startups. And it’s probably why Zomato is going public and why we’re still waiting for the Robinhood debut.

This is what a market feels like when the underlying businesses are firing on all cylinders, it appears. Just don’t forget that no business cycle is unending, and no boom is forever.

An insurtech interlude

Extending The Exchange’s recent reporting regarding fintech funding, and our roundup from last week of insurtech startup rounds, a few more notes on the latter startup niche, which can be broadly viewed as part of the larger financial technology world.

This time we’ll hear from Accel’s John Locke regarding his investments in The Zebra — which recently raised even more capital — and the insurtech space more broadly.

Asked why insurtech marketplaces like The Zebra have been able to raise so very much money in the last year, Locke said that it’s a mix of “insurance carriers […] finally embracing marketplaces and willing to design integrated consumer experiences with marketplaces,” along with more consumer “comparison shopping” and, finally, growth and revenue quality.

The Zebra, Locke said, is “still growing north of 100% at ~$120M+ revenue run-rate.” That means it can go public whenever it wants.

But on that matter, there has been some weakness in the stock market for some public insurtech companies. Is Locke worried about that? He’s neutral-to-positive, saying that his firm does not “think all the companies in the market will work but still thinks ‘insurtechs’ will take market share from incumbents over the next decade.” Fair enough.

And Accel is still considering more deals in the space, as are others. Locke said that the venture market for insurtech investments is “definitely more aggressive” this year than last.

Various and sundry

Closing today, a few notes on things that we didn’t get to that matter:

  • Productboard closed a $72 million Series C. First, that’s a huge round. Second, yes, Tiger did lead the deal. Third, the product management software company has around 4,000 customers today. That’s a lot. Add this company to your two-years-from-now IPO list.
  • Chinese bike-sharing startup Hello is going public in the United States. We are going to get back to this on Monday, but its F-1 filing is here. The company turned $926.3 million worth of 2020 revenues into $109.6 million in gross profit, and a net loss of $173.7 million in net losses. Yowza.
  • Darktrace went public this week. I know of it because it sponsors an F1 team that I adore, but it enters our world today as a recent U.K.-listed company. And after Deliveroo went kersplat, the resounding success of the Darktrace listing could make the U.K. a more attractive place to list than it was a week ago.
  • And, finally, drone delivery is, maybe, coming at last? U.K.-listed venture capital group Draper Esprit led the $25 million round into Manna, which wants to use unmanned drones in Ireland to deliver grub. “Manna sees a huge appetite for a greener, quieter, safer, and faster delivery service,” UKTN reports.

A long, weird week. Make sure to follow the second denizen of The Exchange’s writing team: Anna Heim. Okay! Chat next week!

Alex

Optimism reigns at consumer trading services as fintech VC spikes and Robinhood IPO looms

By Anna Heim

With the Coinbase direct listing behind us and the Robinhood IPO ahead, it’s a heady time for consumer-focused trading apps.

Mix in the impending SPAC-led debut of eToro, general bullishness in the cryptocurrency space, record highs for some equities markets, and recent rounds from Public.com, M1 Finance and U.K.-based Freetrade, and you could be excused for expecting the boom in consumer asset trading to keep going up and to the right.

But will it? There are data in both directions. While recent information could indicate that some of the most lucrative trading activity at companies like Robinhood could be slowing, there’s also encouraging app download information that paints a more bullish picture regarding the durability of the boom in consumer interest regarding savings and investing, which The Exchange has had an eye on for some time.


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


Our question today is this: How bullish are companies in the space about continued consumer interest in equities and other asset trading? And why? We’ll also put similar questions to their backers.

We’ve compiled notes from Accel’s Sameer Gandhi about views concerning Public as one of its backers and Index’s Jan Hammer about Robinhood and its market, as well as comments from Public.com and M1 Finance about what they see regarding consumer trading interest in the future. Thoughts from Robert Le, PitchBook’s senior emerging technology analyst, cap things off.

We’ll start with a short look at some data to help ground ourselves regarding where consumer trading demand appears to be today, then consider what the companies in the ring and their backers are thinking. We’ll close with a synthesis of all the perspectives to come up with hype-adjusted expectations for the rest of 2021.

Bullish data, bearish data

Coinbase executed its direct listing on the back of one of the most impressive quarters we’ve ever seen in the realm of business results, meaning it began to trade when it looked just about as good as a company can. Will the same hold true for Robinhood and company?

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