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Troubles keep mounting for the We Company as Softbank reportedly calls for shelving the IPO

By Jonathan Shieber

The troubles for We Company and its main business WeWork are mounting as the Financial Times is reporting that the company’s main backer, Softbank, is pushing for the company to put its troubled public offering on hold.

Citing sources familiar with the company and its main investor, the Financial Times said that the cool reception We Company has received from public market investors.

The company needs to raise at least $3 billion in the public offering to trigger a $6 billion in debt financing from the very bankers architecting its IPO. If it fails to cross that $3 billion threshold and not have access to that debt, it would be a significant roadblock to the We Company’s global expansion plans. And those plans are vital to the company’s success, since it’s the growth story that the company is selling to public market investors.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was thinking about reducing the amount it would seek in a public offering below the $20 billion figure that had been previously reported.

The We Company had last raised money at a valuation of over $47 billion and the constant reductions in the company’s value may create a self-fulfilling prophecy that pushes the share price down even further should the company go ahead with a public offering.

The company has even taken steps to roll back some of the more egregious financial arrangements that made investors look at the company askance. It added a woman to its board of directors after much public outcry over the board composition and unwound a nearly $6 million agreement the company had made with its chief executive Adam Neumann over the licensing rights to the brand “We”.

Still, Neumann’s control over the company and the mounting losses of the core business sub-leasing long term commercial rental space to short term tenants have made public investors balky on the We Company’s longterm prospects.

SoftBank reportedly plans to lend employees as much as $20 billion to invest in its VC fund

By Darrell Etherington

SoftBank has a plant to loan up to $20 billion to its employees, including CEO Masayoshi Son, for the purposes of having that capital re-invested in SoftBank’s own Vision venture fund, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. That’s a highly unusual move that could be risky in terms of how much exposure SoftBank Group has on the whole in terms of its startup bets, but the upside is that it can potentially fill out as much as a fifth of its newly announced second Vision Fund’s total target raise of $108 billion from a highly aligned investor pool.

SoftBank revealed its plans for its second Vision Fund last month, including $38 billion from SoftBank itself, as well as commitments from Apple, Microsoft and more. The company also took a similar approach to its original Vision Fund, WSJ reports, with stakes from employees provided with loans totalling $8 billion of that $100 billion commitment.

The potential pay-off is big, provided the fund has some solid winners that achieve liquidation events that provide big returns that employees can then use to pay off the original loans, walking away with profit. That’s definitely a risk, however, especially in the current global economic client. As WSJ notes, the Uber shares that Vision Fund I acquired are now worth less than what SoftBank originally paid for them according to sources, and SoftBank bet WeWork looks poised to be another company whose IPO might not make that much, if any, money for later stage investors.

Go behind the curtain with Wall Street titan Ray Dalio

By Arman Tabatabai

Today on Extra Crunch, TechCrunch fintech contributor Gregg Schoenberg went deep beneath the surface with an insider profile of investor Ray Dalio. While Dalio is certainly a celebrity in the world of financial services, some outside of Wall Street might need a quick refresher on Dalio, his career and his influence.

Dalio built his reputation in the finance universe as the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. With 40-plus year of operations under its belt, Bridgewater now manages roughly $160 billion in assets for a long list of the largest institutional investors from across the globe.

But outside of the investment community, Dalio has built up a chunky following through his book ‘Principles’, which outlines his views on management, leadership and investing. ‘Principles’ focuses on the best practices, mental frameworks and strategies that have worked for Dalio in both career and life.

While the set of tools presented in ‘Principles’ can be observed in practice every day at Bridgewater, its efficacy seems to have proven to be at least somewhat applicable across backgrounds. Since the full version of the book’s publication in 2017, ‘Principles’ has sold between one to two million-plus copies, been a New York Times Best-Seller, and has been praised by thought leaders across politics, business and the Valley including Bill Gates, Marc Benioff and Reed Hastings.

More recently in April, Dalio and his team launched the ‘Principles in Action’ mobile iOS app which includes the book’s full text intertwined with interactive videos (including some from actual internal Bridgewater meetings), animations, quizzes and case studies built to help users track personal growth goals. According to the app’s development team, since launch ‘Principles in Action’ has had roughly 115,000 downloads and an average of 30,000 monthly active users over the past three months, with users completing over 5,000 case studies. The team pushes out updates every two to three weeks and plans to launch on Android in December.

And if Gregg’s deep profile on Extra Crunch, the ‘Principles’ book and ‘Principles in Action’ app didn’t offer enough access to Dalio’s brain, Dalio will also be joining us for a fireside chat on the Extra Crunch stage this October at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, where he will discuss how to build an effective and actionable culture at a startup of any scale.

Though he’s been stock investing since age 12, Dalio’s new passion is sharing the tactics, to which he attributes his success, to as broad an audience as possible. So join us on Extra Crunch and at the Extra Crunch Disrupt stage for exclusive candid insights from Ray Dalio and the principles that have helped him become one of history’s most successful financial entrepreneurs.

AT&T’s new streaming service HBO Max arrives in 2020, will be the exclusive home of ‘Friends’

By Darrell Etherington

AT&T’s acquisition of HBO goes beyond just offering premium TV programming – the company revealed on Tuesday that it’s going to call its new streaming service HBO Max, and that this will launch next spring, with over 10,000 hours of content available to subscribers.

It’ll have ‘Friends,’ dear readers, which is all that matters in the modern streaming wars where weirdly services compete for dominion over a couple of decade-plus-year old TV shows including ‘The Office’ and this highly-unrelatable 90s NBC sitcom.

HBO Max won’t offer exclusively HBO content, as you can probably tell by the availability fo Friends, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the naming is meant to indicate how important HBO as a TV brand is to consumers. In other words, they’re going to make the most of that purchase, even if it dilutes the actual HBO brand in the process. It’s beginning to become much more clear why HBO CEO Richard Plepler resigned in February.

The new service enters a teeming field of competitors, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix and many more I can’t even remember off the top of my head. It’s also not launching until after Apple puts live its own Apple TV+ service, and Disney+ comes online in November, and per the WSJ, it’ll cost “slightly more” than HBO’s currently $14.99 per month pricing for Go alone.

AT&T is spending on content, however, including the high purchase price for ‘Friends’ rights, as well as development deals with a number of top talents from the film and television industry, including Reese Witherspoon, Greg Berlanti and more. Future CW shows will also reside in HBO Max instead of on Netflix, which is bad news for my habit of bingeing subpar DC superhero TV including ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash.’

Lifestyle goods resale marketplace StockX raises $110M, pushing valuation past $1B

By Darrell Etherington

Detroit-based StockX, which provides a way for people to resell luxury and lifestyle goods including streetwear, bags, watches and shoes, is now valued at over $1 billion based on its most recent raise of $110 million, just revealed by the New York Times. Alongside the raise, StockX is bringing on a new CEO – ecommerce vet and former eBay SVP Scott Cutler.

Cutler replaces co-founder Josh Luber at the helm of the company, but he’ll continue to be the “public face” of the company according to the NYT, which is not unusual for a founder-led company when it brings on more traditionally experienced executives to steer the startup through periods of aggressive growth and business maturation.

StockX’s success rode the sneaker culture boom of the past half-decade or so, as the startup first focused exclusively on acting as a resale source for shoes with high levels of hype. Their unique value prop, for consumers, was offering a verification service so that you knew when you were buying (often at a premium, and often so-called ‘deadstock’ or stuff that’s new in condition but not available through typical consumer sales channels) was the real deal.

The company expanded from there into new categories, first with watches, then handbags, and most recently streetwear – all categories where high potential for fraud mean that consumers are willing to pay more for some assurance of authenticity.

Also unique to StockX is its treatment of the marketplace as analogous to a public stock exchange, with shoe releases, watch, bag and clothing SKUs replacing companies as the trade commodity. The app for StockX displays charts trending value and features bids and calls, making it similar in concept to another company where new CEO Cutler has experience – the NYSE.

With this funding, the company will focus on growing its international business and also do more with selling new products, which it has done on occasion for select releases, but which hasn’t been a primary focus of its business to date.

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