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Uber’s trading debut: who was (and wasn’t) at the opening bell

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Apps, Automotive, carsharing, Dara Khosrowshahi, Exit, Expedia, Garrett Camp, Rachel Holt, Startups, thuan pham, Transportation, Travis Kalanick, Uber, Uber IPO, vmware | 0 comments

Uber finally made its debut Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, ending its decade-long journey from startup to publicly traded company.

So far, it’s been a ho-hum beginning, with shares opening at $42, down from the IPO price. The share price is hovering just under $44.

Thirteen people, including executives, early employees, drivers and customers, were on the balcony for the historic bell ringing that opened the markets Friday. Noticeable absentees were co-founder Garrett Camp and former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted from the company in June 2017 after a string of scandals around Uber’s business practices.

Kalanick, who still sits on the board and has an 8.6% stake in Uber, wasn’t part of the opening bell ceremony. However, Kalanick and Camp were both at the NYSE for the event.

Here is who participated in the opening bell ceremony.

The bell ringer

Austin Geidt, who rang the bell, was employee No. 4 when she started as an intern in 2010, and is one of Uber’s earliest employees.

Geidt joined Uber in 2010 and has since worked in numerous positions at the company. She led Uber’s expansion in hundreds of new cities and dozens of new countries. Geidt now heads up strategy for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the unit working on autonomous vehicles.

Executives

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stood next to Geidt at the opening of the market Friday. Khosrowshahi joined Uber in 2017 after Kalanick resigned and the board launched an extensive search for an executive who could change the culture at the company and prepare it for an eventual IPO.

Khosrowshahi was the CEO of Expedia before joining Uber. Khosrowshahi gave a one-year update on his time at Uber during TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2018.

Uber CTO Thuan Pham has been with the company since 2013. Prior to coming to Uber, Pham was vice president of engineering at VMware.

Rachel Holt, vice president and head of New Mobility, was also on hand. Holt has worked at Uber since October 2011, when the company was live in just three cities. In May 2016, she became VP and regional general manager of Uber’s operations in the U.S. and Canada.

She was promoted to head up new mobility in June 2018. She’s responsible for the ramp-up and onboarding of additional mobility services, including public transit integration, scooters, car rentals and bikes.

Rachel Holt (Getty Images)

Other executives included Pierre-Dimitry Gore-Coty and Andrew MacDonald, both vice presidents and regional general managers at Uber, as well as Jason Droege, a vice president who heads up Uber Eats.

Droege, who joined Uber in 2014, has the official title of head of UberEverything. This is the team that created the food delivery service Uber Eats, which now operates in 35 countries.

Drivers

Uber had five drivers on hand for the opening bell, who represented different services and geographies.

Among the drivers were:

  • Jerry Bruner, a Los Angeles-based driver who is a military veteran and former professional golfer. Bruner has completed more than 30,000 Uber trips.
  • Tiffany Hanna, a military veteran, is based out of Springfield, Missouri. Hanna is a truck driver who uses the Uber Freight carrier app. 
  • Jonelle Bain, a New York-based driver. Uber, which shared the bios of the drivers, said Bain is taking coding classes and plans to become a software engineer.
  • Onur Kerey is a driver based out of London. Kerey is deaf. According to his bio, “He doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his passion for driving or connecting with others.”
  • J. Alexander Palacio Sanchez is based in Australia and has been driving with Uber since 2015. His true passion is acting, according to Uber, and at the urging of his riders, he auditioned for the role of Kevin in “The Heights” — and landed it.

Customers

One customer, Elise Wu, also participated in the opening bell. Wu owns Kampai, a family of restaurants in France that serves affordable cuisine made available for delivery through Uber Eats.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Twitter acqui-hires highlight-sharing app Highly

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in acquihire, Apps, Exit, Fundings & Exits, Mobile, Screenshots, Social, Startups, TC, Twitter | 0 comments

Quotes from articles are much more eye-catching than links on Twitter, so the social giant is scooping up the team behind highlight-sharing app Highly. This talent could help Twitter build its own version of Highly or develop other ways to excerpt the best content from websites and get it into the timeline.

Twitter confirmed to TechCrunch that the deal was an acqui-hire, and a spokesperson provided this statement: “We are excited to welcome the Highly team to Twitter. Their expertise will accelerate our product and design thinking around making Twitter more conversational.” We’ve asked about what data portability options Highly will offer.

Highly will shut down its iOS and Slack app on April 26th, though it promises that “No highlights will be harmed.” It’s also making its paid “Crowd Control” for private highlight sharing plus Highly For Teams free in the meantime.

“Social highlights can make sharing stories online feel personal, efficient and alive — like retelling a story to a friend, over coffee. They give people shared context and spark meaningful conversations,” the Highly team writes.

Quotes can make the difference between someone breezing past a link they don’t want to leave Twitter to explore, and getting a peek at what’s smart about an article so they know if it’s worth diving deeper. Many people use OneShot to generate Twitter-formatted screenshots of posts. But Highly lets you just rub your finger over text to turn it into an image with a link back to the article for easy tweeting. You could also search an archive of your past highlights, and follow curators who spot the best quotes. Its browser extensions and native app let you highlight from wherever you read.

“Sharing highlights, not headlines — sharing thinking instead of lazily linking — helps spark the kind of conversation that leaves participants and observers alike a bit better off than they started. We’d like to see more of this,” the Highly teams writes. That’s why it’s joining Twitter to work on improving conversation health. Founded in 2014, Highly had raised a seed round in 2017.

Twitter’s shift to algorithmic ranking of the timeline means every tweet has to compete to be seen. Blasting out links that are a chore to open and read can lead to low engagement, causing Twitter to show it to fewer people. Tools like Highly can give tweeters a leg up. And if Twitter can build these tools right into its service, it could allow more people to create appealing tweets so they actually feel heard.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Unicorns aren’t profitable, and Wall Street doesn’t care

Posted by on Mar 26, 2019 in Amazon, Exit, Facebook, Fundings & Exits, Groupon, jeff bezos, Lyft, Pinterest, Snap, snap inc, Startups, TC, Uber, unicorns, Venture Capital, WeWork, Zimride | 0 comments

In Silicon Valley, investors don’t expect their portfolio companies to be profitable. “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies,” a bible for founders, instead calls for heavy spending on growth to scale in an Amazon -like fashion.

As for Wall Street, it’s shown an affinity for stock in Jeff Bezos’ business, despite the many years it spent navigating a path to profitability, as well as other money-losing endeavors. Why? Because it too is far less concerned with profitability than market opportunity.

Lyft, a ride-hailing company expected to go public this week, is not profitable. It posted losses of $911 million in 2018, a statistic that will make it the biggest loser amongst U.S. startups to have gone public, according to data collected by The Wall Street Journal. On the other hand, Lyft’s $2.2 billion in 2018 revenue places it atop the list of largest annual revenues for a pre-IPO business, trailing behind only Facebook and Google in that category.

Wall Street, in short, is betting on Lyft’s revenue growth, assuming it will narrow its loses and reach profitability… eventually.

Wall Street’s hungry for unicorns

Lyft, losses notwithstanding, is growing rapidly and Wall Street is paying attention. On the second day of its road show, reports emerged that its IPO was already oversubscribed. As a result, Lyft is said to have upped the cost of its stock, with new plans to raise more than $2 billion at a valuation upwards of $25 billion. That represents a revenue multiple of more than 11x, a step up multiple of more than 1.6x from its most recent private valuation of $15.1 billion and, of course, Wall Street’s insatiable desire for unicorns, profitable or not.

New data from PitchBook exploring the performance of billion-dollar-plus VC exits confirms Wall Street’s leniency toward unprofitable tech companies. Sixty-four percent of the 100+ companies valued at more than $1 billion to complete a VC-backed IPO since 2010 were unprofitable, and in 2018, money-losing startups actually fared better on the stock exchange than money-earning businesses. Moreover, U.S. tech companies that had raised more than $20 million traded up nearly 25 percent of 2018, while the S&P 500 technology sector posted flat returns.

Wall Street is still adapting to the rapid growth of the tech industry; public markets investors, therefore, are willing to deal with negative to minimal cash flows for, well, a very long time.

A tolerance for outsized exits

There’s no doubt Lyft and its much larger competitor, Uber, will go public at monstrous valuations. The two IPOs, set to create a whole bunch of millionaires and return a number of venture capital funds, will provide Silicon Valley a lesson in Wall Street’s tolerance for outsized exits.

Much like a seed-stage investor must bet on a founder’s vision, Wall Street, given a choice of several unprofitable businesses, has to bet on potential market value. Fortunately, this strategy can work quite well. Take Floodgate, for example. The seed fund invested a small amount of capital in Lyft when it was still a quirky idea for ridesharing called Zimride. Now, it boasts shares worth more than $100 million. I’m sure early shareholders in Amazon — which went public as a money-losing company in 1997 — are pretty happy, too.

Ultimately, Wall Street’s appetite for unicorns like Lyft is a result of the shortage of VC-backed IPOs. In 2006, it was the norm for a company to make its stock market debut at 7.9 years old, per PitchBook. In 2018, companies waited until the ripe age of 10.9 years, causing a significant slowdown in big liquidity events and stock sales.

Fund sizes, however, have grown larger and the proliferation of unicorns continues at unforeseen rates. That may mean, eventually, an influx of publicly shared unicorn stock. If that’s the case, might Wall Street start asking more of these startups? At the very least, public market investors, please don’t be swayed by WeWork‘s eventual stock offering and its “community adjusted EBITDA.” Silicon Valley’s pixie dust can’t be that potent.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Sean Parker’s govtech Brigade breaks up, Pinterest acqhires engineers

Posted by on Feb 11, 2019 in Apps, brigade, causes, Exit, Fundings & Exits, Government, govtech, matt mahan, Sean Parker, Social, Startups, TC | 0 comments

Facebook co-founder Sean Parker bankrolled Brigade to get out the vote and stimulate civic debate, but after five years and little progress the startup is splitting up, multiple sources confirm to TechCrunch. We’ve learned that Pinterest has acqhired roughly 20 members of the Brigade engineering team. The rest of Brigade is looking for a potential buyer or partner in the political space to take on the rest of the team plus its tech and product. Brigade CEO Matt Mahan confirmed the fate of the startup to TechCrunch.

While Brigade only formally raised $9.3 million in one round back in 2014, the company had quietly expanded that Series A round with more funding. A former employee said it had burned tens of millions of additional dollars over the years. Brigade had also acquired Causes, Sean Parker’s previous community action and charity organization tool.

After Brigade launched as an app for debating positions on heated political issues but failed to gain traction, it pivoted into what Causes had tried to be — a place for showing support for social movements. More recently, it’s focused on a Rep Tracker for following the stances and votes of elected officials. Yet the 2016 campaign and 2018 midterms seem to fly over Brigade’s head. It never managed to become a hub of activism, significantly impact voter turnout, or really even be part of the conversation.

After several election cycles, I hear the Brigade team felt like there had to be better ways to influence democracy or at least create a sustainable business. One former employee quipped that Brigade could have made a greater impact by just funneling its funding into voter turnout billboards instead of expensive San Francisco office space and talent.

The company’s mission to spark civic engagement was inadvertently accomplished by Donald Trump’s election polarizing the country and making many on both sides suddenly get involved. It did succeed in predicting Trump’s victory, after its polls of users found many democrats planned to vote against their party. But while Facebook and Twitter weren’t necessarily the most organized or rational places for discourse, it started to seem unnecessary to try to build a new hub for it from scratch.

Brigade accepted that its best bet was to refocus on govtech infrastructure like its voter identification and elected official accountability tools, rather than a being a consumer destination. Its expensive, high-class engineering team was too big to fit into a potential political technology acquirer or partner. Many of those staffers had joined to build consumer-facing products, not govtech scaffolding.

Mahan, Brigade’s co-founder and CEO as well as the former Causes CEO, confirms the breakup and Pinterest deal, telling us “We ended up organizing the acqhire with Pinterest first because we wanted to make sure we took care of as many people on the team as possible. We were incredibly happy to find that through the process, 19 members of our engineering team earned offers and ended up going over to Pinterest. That’s about two-thirds of our engineering team. They were really excited about staying in consumer product and saw career opportunities at Pinterest.” We’re still waiting on a comment from Pinterest.

Brigade had interest from multiple potential acqhirers and allowed the engineering team’s leadership to decide to go with Pinterest. Several of Brigade’s engineers and its former VP of Engineering Trish Gray already list on LinkedIn that they’ve moved to Pinterest in the past few months. “We had a bunch of employees that took a risk on a very ambitious plan to improve our democracy and we didn’t want to leave them out to dry” Mahan stresses. “We spent more time and more money and more effort in taking care of employees over the last few months than most companies do and I think that’s a testament to Sean and his values.”

Mahan is currently in talks with several potential hosts for the next phase of Brigade, and hopes to have a transition plan in place in the next month. “We’ve in parallel been exploring where we take the technology and the user base next. We want to be sure that it lives on and can further the mission the we set out to achieve even if it doesn’t look like the way it does today.” Though the company’s output is tough to measure, Mahan tells me that “Brigade built a lot of foundational technology such as high quality voter matching algorithms and an entire model for districting people to their elected representatives. My hope for our legacy is that we were able to solve some of these problems that other people can build on.” Given Parker’s previous work with Marijuana legalization campaign Prop 64 in California and his new Opportunity Zones tax break effort, Brigade’s end won’t be Parker’s exit from politics.

Brigade’s breakup could still cast an ominous shadow over the govtech ecosystem, though. Alongside recent layoffs at grassroots campaign text message tool Hustle, it’s proven difficult for some startups in politics to become sustainable businesses. Exceptions like Palantir succeed by arming governments with data science that can be weaponized against citizens. Yet with the 2020 elections around the corner, fake news and election propaganda still a threat, and technology being applied for new nefarious political purposes, society could benefit from more tools built to amplify social justice and a fair democratic process.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Facebook picks up retail computer vision outfit GrokStyle

Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 in Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Computer Vision, Exit, Facebook, Fundings & Exits, grokstyle, ikea, M&A, Startups | 0 comments

If you’ve ever seen a lamp or chair that you liked and wished you could just take a picture and find it online, well, GrokStyle let you do that — and now the company has been snatched up by Facebook to augment its own growing computer vision department.

GrokStyle started as a paper — as AI companies often do these days — at 2015’s SIGGRAPH. A National Science Foundation grant got the ball rolling on the actual company, and in 2017 founders Kavita Bala and Sean Bell raised $2 million to grow it.

The basic idea is simple: matching a piece of furniture (or a light fixture, or any of a variety of product types) in an image to visually similar ones in stock at stores. Of course, sometimes the simplest ideas are the most difficult to execute. But Bala and Bell made it work, and it was impressive enough in action that Ikea on first sight demanded it be in the next release of its app. I saw it in action and it’s pretty impressive.

Facebook’s acquisition of the company (no terms disclosed) makes sense on a couple of fronts: First, the company is investing heavily in computer vision and AI, so GrokStyle and its founders are naturally potential targets. Second, Facebook is also trying to invest in its marketplace, and using the camera as an interface for it fits right into the company’s philosophy.

One can imagine how useful it would be to be able to pull up the Facebook camera app, point it at a lamp you like at a hotel and see who’s selling it or something like it on the site.

Facebook did not answer my questions regarding how GrokStyle’s tech and team would be used, but offered the following statement: “We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook. Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities.” Well!

There’s an “exciting journey” message on GrokStyle’s webpage, so the old site and service is gone for good. But one assumes that it will reappear in some form in the future. I’ve asked the founders for comment and will update the post if I hear back.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Showing the power of startup women’s health brands, P&G buys This is L

Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 in africa, Exit, India, Mergers and Acquisitions, New York, p&g, procter & gamble, San Francisco, Startups, TC, Uganda, Y Combinator | 0 comments

The P&G acquisition of This is L., a startup retailer of period products and prophylactics, shows just how profitable investing in women’s healthcare brands and products can be.

A person with knowledge of the investment put the price tag at roughly $100 million — a healthy outcome for investors and company founder Talia Frenkel. But just as important as the financial outcome is the deal’s implications for other mission-driven companies.

This is L. launched from Y Combinator in August 2015 with a service distributing condoms in New York and San Francisco and steadily expanded into feminine hygiene products.

Frenkel, a former photojournalist who worked for the United Nations and Red Cross, started the company in 2013 — roughly three years after an assignment in Africa revealed the toll that HIV/AIDs was taking on women and girls on the continent.

“I didn’t realize the No. 1 killer of women was completely preventable and I think that really inspired me to action,” Frenkel told TechCrunch at the time of the company’s launch.

Now the company has distributed roughly 250 million products to customers around the world.

“Our strong growth has enabled us to stand in solidarity with women in more than 20 countries,” said Frenkel in a statement following the acquisition. “Our support has ranged from partnering with organizations to send period products to Native communities in South Dakota, to supplying pad-making machines to a women-led business in Tamil Nadu. Pairing our purpose with P&G’s expertise, scale and resources provides an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a more equitable world.”

The company is available in more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. and is working with women entrepreneurs in countries from Uganda to India and beyond.

“This acquisition is a perfect complement to our Always and Tampax portfolio, with its commitment to a shared mission to advocate for girls’ confidence and serve more women,” said Jennifer Davis, president, P&G Global Feminine Care. “We feel this is a strong union and together we can be a greater force for good.”

For investors with knowledge of the company, the P&G acquisition is a harbinger of things to come. The combination of a non-technical, female founder operating in the consumer packaged goods market with a mission-driven company was an anomaly in the Silicon Valley of four years ago, but Frenkel’s success shows what kind of opportunities exist in the market.

“With this acquisition investors need to update their patterns,” said one investor with knowledge of the company.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Microsoft acquires Citus Data

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 in citus data, Cloud, cloud computing, data management, databases, Enterprise, Exit, free software, M&A, Microsoft, nosql, postgresql, relational database, Startups, Y Combinator | 0 comments

Microsoft today announced that it has acquired Citus Data, a company that focused on making PostgreSQL databases faster and more scalable. Citus’ open-source PostgreSQL extension essentially turns the application into a distributed database and, while there has been a lot of hype around the NoSQL movement and document stores, relational databases — and especially PostgreSQL — are still a growing market, in part because of tools from companies like Citus that overcome some of their earlier limitations.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft plans to work with the Citus Data team to “accelerate the delivery of key, enterprise-ready features from Azure to PostgreSQL and enable critical PostgreSQL workloads to run on Azure with confidence.” The Citus co-founders echo this in their own statement, noting that “as part of Microsoft, we will stay focused on building an amazing database on top of PostgreSQL that gives our users the game-changing scale, performance, and resilience they need. We will continue to drive innovation in this space.”

PostgreSQL is obviously an open-source tool, and while the fact that Microsoft is now a major open-source contributor doesn’t come as a surprise anymore, it’s worth noting that the company stresses that it will continue to work with the PostgreSQL community. In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson also noted that “the acquisition is a proof point in the company’s commitment to open source and accelerating Azure PostgreSQL performance and scale.”

Current Citus customers include the likes of real-time analytics service Chartbeat, email security service Agari and PushOwl, though the company notes that it also counts a number of Fortune 100 companies among its users (they tend to stay anonymous). The company offers both a database as a service, an on-premises enterprise version and the free open-source edition. For the time being, it seems like that’s not changing, though over time I would suspect that Microsoft will transition users of the hosted service to Azure.

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed. Citus Data, which was founded in 2010 and graduated from the Y Combinator program, previously raised more than $13 million from the likes of Khosla Ventures, SV Angel and Data Collective.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Report: Pinterest may go public as soon as April

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 in Bessemer Venture Partners, Exit, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, Lyft, Pinterest, slack, Startups, TC, the wall street journal, Uber, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Pinterest may follow Lyft and Uber to the public markets in the first half of 2019, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The visual search engine and shopping tool is expected to tap underwriters in January and complete an initial public offering as soon as April. The company was valued at just over $12 billion with its last private fundraise, a $150 million round in mid-2017, and is on pace to bring in $700 million in revenue this year.

The company, founded in 2008 by Ben Silbermann (pictured), is also in talks to secure a $500 million credit line, per the report, not an uncommon move for a pre-IPO giant like Pinterest.

To date, the company has raised nearly $1.5 billion from key stakeholders such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, Fidelity and SV Angel.

Pinterest recently reached 250 million monthly active users, up from 200 million in 2017.

This year, it launched several new features to make it easier for passive Pinterest users to actually buy products on the platform, and introduced the “following” tab, where users could view only the content from brands and people they follow. It also added the Pinterest Propel program as part of an effort to create more local content for its users, and implemented full-screen video ads to beef up its advertising options — an area where it competes directly with Facebook and Google.

2019 is poised to be a banner year for venture-backed IPOs. Both Uber and Lyft are in IPO registration, filing privately to go public within hours of each other earlier this month, and Slack, too, has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to lead its 2019 float.

Pinterest declined to comment.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Procter & Gamble acquires Walker & Company, Tristan Walker will remain as CEO

Posted by on Dec 12, 2018 in eCommerce, Exit, procter & gamble, Startups, Tristan Walker, Walker & Company Brands | 0 comments

Walker & Company Brands, a startup making health and beauty products for people of color, has been acquired by consumer giant Procter & Gamble.

The company was founded five years ago by Tristan Walker, who previously led business development for Foursquare, and who aimed to create products that would better serve the needs of people of color with coarse or curly hair. Walker & Co. started out with its Bevel shaving products for men, then launched Form, a collection of hair products for women.

P&G says the acquisition will help it “better serve consumers of color around the world.” Walker & Co. will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the larger organization, with Walker continuing to serve as CEO, and the entire 15-person team moving to Atlanta.

“When I started Walker & Company Brands, I set out to build a company that would meet the health and beauty needs of people of color on a global scale,” Walker said in the announcement. “Having access to P&G’s outstanding technology, capabilities and expertise helps us to further realize that vision, giving us the power to scale and bring new products to people of color, while staying true to our mission and continuing to nurture the loyal community we’ve worked hard to build.”

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Walker & Co. had raised more than $33.3 million in funding, most recently in a Series B three years ago. Investors include Institutional Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, Daher Capital, Collaborative Fund, Google Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Melo7 Tech Partners.

“We have tremendous respect for the work Tristan Walker has accomplished and we are excited to welcome Walker & Company to the P&G family,” said P&G Beauty CEO Alex Keith in a statement. “The combination of Walker & Company’s deep consumer understanding, authentic connection to its community and unique, highly customized products and P&G’s highly-skilled and experienced people, resources, technical capabilities and global scale will allow us to further improve the lives of the world’s multicultural consumers.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Eventbrite just made some pricing changes as it moves toward an IPO

Posted by on Aug 27, 2018 in eventbrite, Exit, IPO, Startups, TC, Tiger Global Management | 0 comments

Reaching event organizers to help them sell tickets isn’t cheap. Eventbrite — the 12-year-old, San Francisco-based ticketing company that announced plans last week to go public and sell $200 million worth of shares on the NYSE — has been losing money since 2016, posting losses of $40.4 million in 2016, $38.5 million for 2017 and $15.6 million so far this year.

Now the company is trying to make up for some of those losses by announcing a new pricing scheme. Today, it sent customers a note explaining that for those using its “Essentials” package (unlike its “Professional” package, whose bells and whistles include customer support, customer questions for attendees and more), reduced prices are coming for many. Specifically, payment processing fees are dropping from 3 percent to 2.5 percent. Fees for tickets are falling from .99 cents to .70 cents.

The moves don’t really mean that Eventbrite is charging less. In fact, instead of charging one percent of every ticket price as a service fee, Eventbrite will now take a 2 percent cut, which should add up for organizers that use the service for bigger events. It’s also removing a service fee cap of $19.99 that it used to institute no matter how much an event organizer was charging.

Asked about the pricing changes, a spokesperson sent us a fairly bland statement: “At Eventbrite we have always been committed to enabling event creators to deliver a diverse range of live experiences by offering a superior product at a fair price. The changes we announced today will mean lower ticket fees for the vast majority of our creators, and the millions of people that attend the events they plan, promote and produce each year. We succeed when our creators succeed and this change is indicative of a focus on ensuring we make the best decisions for the majority of our customers.”

It isn’t surprising that Eventbrite is looking for ways to fight rising acquisition costs owing to the competition it faces from all corners. In addition to platforms for smaller get-togethers like Paperless Post and competition for bigger events like Ticketmaster (which owns Live Nation), Eventbrite acknowledged in its S-1 filing that it could face competition from large internet companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, too.

Eventbrite had reportedly filed confidentially for an IPO back in July. As noted on TechCrunch’s “Equity” podcast last week by Susan Mac Cormac, a partner at the global law firm Morrison Foerster, companies often file confidentially first if they are exploring other options, including, most notably, M&A.

“These unicorns,” says Mac Cormac, “it’s difficult for them to go public because they have such a huge valuation to begin with that M&A is often a better option. You don’t want to go out and have your stock fall 30, 40, 50 percent as sometimes happens.”

Partly through acquisitions, Eventbrite saw its revenue rise from $133 million in 2016 to $201 million last year. Last year, for example, Eventbrite acquired Ticketfly, a ticketing company that focused largely on the live entertainment industry and which had sold to the streaming music company Pandora in 2015 for a reported $335 million but Eventbrite was able to nab last year at the discounted price of $200 million.

Eventbrite has also made a broader international push in recent years, acquiring Ticketea, one of Spain’s leading ticketing providers, back in April, and acquiring Amsterdam-based Ticketscript back in January of last year. And those deals followed roughly half a dozen others.

Over the years, the company has raised roughly $330 million from investors, according to Crunchbase. Its biggest shareholders, shows its S-1, are Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital and T. Rowe Price. Collectively, the three entities own roughly half of Eventbrite’s pre-IPO shares.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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