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Startups Weekly: Will the real unicorns please stand up?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2019 in Aileen Lee, alex wilhelm, bluevoyant, Co-founder, CRM, crowdstrike, cybersecurity startup, dashlane, economy, editor-in-chief, entrepreneurship, eric lefkofsky, Finance, garry tan, Indonesia, initialized capital, money, neologisms, Pegasus, Private Equity, records, SoFi, Softbank, Southeast Asia, starbucks, Startup company, Startups, startups weekly, stewart butterfield, tiny speck, unicorn, valuation, Venture Capital, virtual reality | 0 comments

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the sudden uptick in beverage startup rounds. Before that, I noted an alternative to venture capital fundraising called revenue-based financing. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week: Unicorn scarcity, or lack thereof. I’ve written about this concept before, as has my Equity co-host, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm. I apologize if the two of us are broken records, but I think we’re equally perplexed by the pace at which companies are garnering $1 billion valuations.

Here’s the latest data, according to Crunchbase: “2018 outstripped all previous years in terms of the number of unicorns created and venture dollars invested. Indeed, 151 new unicorns joined the list in 2018 (compared to 96 in 2017), and investors poured more than $135 billion into those companies, a 52% increase year-over-year and the biggest sum invested in unicorns in any one year since unicorns became a thing.”

2019 has already coined 42 new unicorns, like Glossier, Calm and Hims, a number that grows each and every week. For context, a total of 19 companies joined the unicorn club in 2013 when Aileen Lee, an established investor, coined the term. Today, there are some 450 companies around the globe that qualify as unicorns, representing a cumulative valuation of $1.6 trillion. 😲

We’ve clung to this fantastical terminology for so many years because it helps us classify startups, singling out those that boast valuations so high, they’ve gained entry to a special, elite club. In 2019, however, $100 million-plus rounds are the norm and billion-dollar-plus funds are standard. Unicorns aren’t rare anymore; it’s time to rethink the unicorn framework.

Last week, I suggested we only refer to profitable companies with a valuation larger than $1 billion as unicorns. Understandably, not everyone was too keen on that idea. Why? Because startups in different sectors face barriers of varying proportions. A SaaS company, for example, is likely to achieve profitability a lot quicker than a moonshot bet on autonomous vehicles or virtual reality. Refusing startups that aren’t yet profitable access to the unicorn club would unfairly favor certain industries.

So what can we do? Perhaps we increase the valuation minimum necessary to be called a unicorn to $10 billion? Initialized Capital’s Garry Tan’s idea was to require a startup have 50% annual growth to be considered a unicorn, though that would be near-impossible to get them to disclose…

While I’m here, let me share a few of the other eclectic responses I received following the above tweet. Joseph Flaherty said we should call profitable billion-dollar companies Pegasus “since [they’ve] taken flight.” Reagan Pollack thinks profitable startups oughta be referred to as leprechauns. Hmmmm.

The suggestions didn’t stop there. Though I’m not so sure adopting monikers like Pegasus and leprechaun will really solve the unicorn overpopulation problem. Let me know what you think. Onto other news.

Image by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

IPO corner

CrowdStrike has set its IPO terms. The company has inked plans to sell 18 million shares at between $19 and $23 apiece. At a midpoint price, CrowdStrike will raise $378 million at a valuation north of $4 billion.

Slack inches closer to direct listing. The company released updated first-quarter financials on Friday, posting revenues of $134.8 million on losses of $31.8 million. That represents a 67% increase in revenues from the same period last year when the company lost $24.8 million on $80.9 million in revenue.

Startup Capital

Online lender SoFi has quietly raised $500M led by Qatar
Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky just-raised another $200M for his new company Tempus
Less than 1 year after launching, Brex eyes $2B valuation
Password manager Dashlane raises $110M Series D
Enterprise cybersecurity startup BlueVoyant raises $82.5M at a $430M valuation
Talkspace picks up $50M Series D
TaniGroup raises $10M to help Indonesia’s farmers grow
Stripe and Precursor lead $4.5M seed into media CRM startup Pico

Funds

Maveron, a venture capital fund co-founded by Starbucks mastermind Howard Schultz, has closed on another $180 million to invest in early-stage consumer startups. The capital represents the firm’s seventh fundraise and largest since 2000. To keep the fund from reaching mammoth proportions, the firm’s general partners said they turned away more than $70 million amid high demand for the effort. There’s more where that came from, here’s a quick look at the other VCs to announce funds this week:

~Extra Crunch~

This week, I penned a deep dive on Slack, formerly known as Tiny Speck, for our premium subscription service Extra Crunch. The story kicks off in 2009 when Stewart Butterfield began building a startup called Tiny Speck that would later come out with Glitch, an online game that was neither fun nor successful. The story ends in 2019, weeks before Slack is set to begin trading on the NYSE. Come for the history lesson, stay for the investor drama. Here are the other standout EC pieces of the week.

Equity

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I debate whether the tech press is too negative or too positive in its coverage of tech startups. Plus, we dive into Brex’s upcoming round, SoFi’s massive raise and CrowdStrike’s imminent IPO.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Madrona Venture Labs raises $11M to build companies from the ground up

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in alpha, Amazon, Artificial Intelligence, blake irving, eBay, economy, entrepreneurship, erik blachford, Facebook, Finance, GoDaddy, madrona venture group, Microsoft, money, Private Equity, Seattle, spencer rascoff, Startup company, TC, Trinity Ventures, Venture Capital, venture capital Firms, venture capital funds, Zillow | 0 comments

In regions where would-be entrepreneurs need a little more support and encouragement before they’ll quit their day job, the startup studio model is taking off.

In Seattle, Madrona Venture Labs (MVL), a studio founded within one the city’s oldest and most-celebrated venture capital firms, Madrona Venture Group, has raised $11.3 million. The investment brings the studio’s total funding to $20 million.

Traditional venture capital funds invite founders to pitch their business idea to a line-up of partners. Sometimes that’s a founder with an idea looking for seed capital, other times it’s a more mature company looking to scale. When it comes to startup studios, the partners themselves craft startup ideas internally, recruiting entrepreneurs to lead the projects, then building them from the ground up within their own safe, protective walls. After a project passes the studio’s litmus test, i.e. shows proof of traction, product-market fit and more, it’s spun out with funding from Madrona and other VCs within its large and growing investor network.

For aspiring entrepreneurs deterred by the risk factors inherent to building venture-backed startups, it’s a highly desirable route. In the Pacific Northwest, where MVL focuses its efforts, it’s a chance to lure Microsoft and Amazon employees into the world of entrepreneurship.

“We want to be an onboard for founders in our market,” MVL managing director Mike Fridgen, who previously led the eBay-acquired business Decide.com, tells TechCrunch. “In Seattle, everyone isn’t a co-founder or an angel investor. Not everyone has been at a startup. A lot of people coming here are coming to work at Amazon, Microsoft or one of the larger satellite offices like Facebook. We want to help them fast-track learning, fundraising and everything else that comes with launching a successful company.”

Fridgen, MVL managing director Ben Elowitz, who co-founded the online jewelry marketplace Blue Nile and chief technology officer Jay Bartot, the co-founder of Hulu-acquired Vhoto, lead Madrona’s studio effort.

The investment in MVL comes in part from its parent company, Madrona, and for the first time, outside investors have acquired stakes in the practice. Alpha Edison, West River Group, Founder’s Co-op partner Rudy Gadre, Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff, former GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving, Trinity Ventures venture partner Gus Tai, TCV venture partner Erik Blachford and others participated.

With $1.6 billion in assets under management, Madrona is known for investments in Seattle bigwigs like Smartsheet, Rover and Redfin. The firm, which recently closed on another $100 million for an acceleration fund that will expand its geographic reach beyond the Pacific Northwest, launched its startup studio in 2014. Since then, it’s spun-out seven companies with an aggregate valuation of $140 million.

“There are some 85 VCs that have $300 million-plus funds,” Fridgen said. “In Seattle, we have two of the most valuable companies in the world and we have just one [big fund], Madrona; it’s the center of gravity for Seattle technology innovation.”

Companies created within MVL include Spruce Up, an AI-powered personal shopping platform, and Domicile, a luxury apartment rental service geared toward business travelers. Domicile was co-founded by Ross Saario, who spent the three years ahead of launching the startup as a general manager at Amazon. The company recently raised a $5 million round, while Spruce Up, co-founded by serial founder Mia Lewin, closed a $3 million round in May.

Other spin-outs include MightyAI, which was valued at $71 million in 2017; Nordstrom-acquired MessageYes, Chatitive and Rep the Squad. The latter, a jersey rental business, was a failure, shutting down in 2018 after failing to land necessary investment, according to GeekWire.

MVL’s latest fundraise will be used to invest in operations. Though MVL does provide its spin-outs with some capital, between $100,000 to $200,000 Fridgen said, it takes a back seat when it comes time to raise outside capital and doesn’t serve as the lead investor in deals.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Startups Weekly: Venture capitalists are crazy for cannabis

Posted by on May 11, 2019 in Startups, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Lately, my inbox has been chock-full of pitches for weed businesses.

A couple of years ago it was bitcoin/blockchain startups, then came scooters; now, it seems “CannTech” is hitting an all-time high thanks to support from venture capitalists. By the way, I didn’t make up the term CannTech, but it seems just as good as anything else, so I’m rolling with it.

According to data collected by PitchBook, VCs have put $1.2 billion in U.S.-based cannabis companies so far in 2019. That’s significantly more than last year’s record high of $836 million, and we aren’t even halfway through 2019.

At this rate, we can expect roughly $2.5 billion invested in CannTech in 2019, i.e. more capital invested in the space in a single year than has been funneled into the space in the last decade.

What’s going on? A few things. Of course, states are increasingly legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana. That’s allowed companies like Eaze, a marijuana delivery company, to grow at unprecedented rates. The startup, for example, closed its Series C in December on $65 million and is already fundraising again, this time at a $500 million valuation.

In addition to legalization, VCs, and more importantly, limited partners, have woken up to the business opportunity of cannabis. Soon, gone will be the days of strict morality clauses that dissuaded VC firms from supporting startups focused on weed. The firms that were early to understand the space, like DCM Ventures or Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital, will reap the benefits.

Speaking of DCM, the firm put on a huge, first-of-its-kind summit this week focused on CannTech: “For three years I was struggling with a lot of pain issues,” DCM co-founder David Chao told the audience. “One day I was playing Xbox with Blake Krikorian [co-founder of Sling Media] and I said ‘you know Blake, I have this pain problem’ and he said, ‘oh, you should try pot.’ And I said ‘why should I do that? I haven’t smoked since college?’ “

Long story short, Chao can thank his friend Blake for making him aware of an exploding market, and he can thank DCM’s scrappy partner, Kyle Lui, for helping the firm score some major investments in the space, like Eaze.

“We were the first Sand Hill VCs to invest in cannabis and everyone started calling me saying ‘you’re crazy, why are you doing this?’ ” Lui said.

It’s still very early days in the CannTech space, but the market is expected to be worth as much as $80 billion by 2030. That can only mean interest will soar from here.

Want more TechCrunch newsletters? Sign up here.

Uber Begins First Day Of Trading At New York Stock Exchange

IPO corner

Uber: It was a disappointing debut, to say the least. The ride-hailing business (NYSE: UBER), previously valued at $72 billion by venture capitalists, priced its stock at $45 apiece for a valuation of $82.4 billion on Thursday. Then it began trading Friday morning at $42 apiece, only to close even lower at $41.57, down 7.6% from its IPO price.

Slack: Not a whole lot of news to share here yet, other than that the workplace messaging business will host its investor day on Monday. It’s invite-only, though Slack, like Spotify, will live-stream the event to the public. More details on that here.

Luckin Coffee: The Chinese upstart going after Starbucks is set to debut on the Nasdaq under the symbol “LK.” In a new filing, Luckin said it plans to sell 30 million shares at an initial range of $15-$17. That gives an estimated raise of $450 million to $510 million, but it could be bumped up if underwriters take up the additional allocation of 4.5 million shares. So, as a grand total, the listing could raise $586.5 million if the full offering is bought at the top of the range.

Lyft: Not an IPO update but the company did release its first-ever earnings report. Here’s the TL;DR: revenues of $776 million on losses of $1.14 billion, including $894 million of stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses. The company’s revenues surpassed Wall Street estimates of $740 million, while losses came in much higher as a result of IPO-related expenses.

M&A

Harry’s razors are crappy, I’m told. Alas, the brand is worth $1.37 billion to Edgewell Personal Care, the company behind Schick and Banana Boat. Founded in 2013, Harry’s had raised about $375 million in venture capital funding. Edgewell says its $1.37 billion payment will break down to roughly 79% cash and 21% stock, giving Harry’s shareholders an 11% stake in Edgewell.

Big rounds

Small(er) rounds

Inspiration

Meet Beat Saber, an eight-person startup with no funding that’s turned into VR’s biggest success story. Venture capital isn’t always the answer, folks.

~Extra Crunch~

Our premium subscription service was loaded with A+ content this week. TechCrunch contributor Jon Evans wrote a piece titled “Against the Slacklash,” wherein he makes the case that Slack isn’t inherently bad. “Rather, the particular way in which you are misusing it epitomizes your company’s deeper problems.” Plus, Eric Peckham asked nine top VCs, including Cyan Banister and Charles Hudson, to share where they are putting their money when it comes to media, gaming and entertainment.

#Equitypod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News’ Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos and I chat with blogging pioneer and True Ventures partner Om Malik about the on-demand economy, Carta’s big raise and more.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Equity Shot: Judging Uber’s less-than-grand opening day

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in alex wilhelm, carsharing, China, Commuting, Equity podcast, initial public offering, Kate Clark, Lyft, Postmates, Startups, TC, TechCrunch, transport, Uber, unicorn, United States, Venture Capital | 0 comments

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

We are back, as promised. Kate Clark and Alex Wilhelm re-convened today to discuss the latest from the Uber IPO. Namely that it opened down, and then kept falling.

A few questions spring to mind. Why did Uber lose ground? Was it the company’s fault? Was it simply the macro market? Was it something else altogether? What we do know is that Uber’s pricing wasn’t what we were expecting and its first day was not smooth.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why Uber went out the way it did. Firstly, the stock market has had a rough week. That, coupled with rising U.S.-China tensions made this week one of the worst of the year for Uber’s monstrous IPO.

But, to make all that clear, we ran back through some history, recalled some key Lyft stats, and more.

We don’t know what’s next but we will be keeping a close watch, specifically on the next cohort of unicorn companies ready to IPO (Postmates, hi!).

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Uber’s first day as a public company didn’t go so well

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in carsharing, Commuting, economy, Finance, Fundings & Exits, initial public offering, money, Transportation, Uber, Uber IPO, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Ouch. Yikes. Oof. Sigh.

Those are some of the friendlier phrases I imagine came out of the mouths of bankers, investors, executives and really anyone who has been paying close attention to Uber’s road to the stock markets today when the company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange below its initial public offering price.

The ride-hailing business (NYSE: UBER), previously valued at $72 billion by venture capitalists, priced its stock at $45 apiece for a valuation of $82.4 billion on Thursday. It began trading this morning at $42 apiece, only to close even lower at $41.57, or down 7.6% from its IPO price.

Still, the IPO was successful enough for Uber. The business now has $8.1 billion on its balance sheet to invest in growth and, ideally, transform into a profitable business.

Anyone who expected Uber to climb past $100 billion at its IPO is surely disappointed. And those who projected a valuation of some $120 billion, well, they’re probably feeling pretty dumb. Nonetheless, Uber’s new market cap makes its exit one of the most valuable in history, and represents a landmark event for tech, mobility and the gig economy at large.

Where the stock will go from here, who knows. Lyft, as we’ve observed, has taken quite a hit since it completed an IPO in March. The Uber competitor is currently trading at a higher price than Uber: $51 per share with a market cap of about $14.6 billion. Its stock has fallen all week long, however, after the company posted losses of more than $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Zoom, the profitable tech unicorn, prices IPO above range

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in board member, economy, Emergence Capital, Finance, Fundings & Exits, initial public offering, Li Ka-shing, NASDAQ, photo sharing, Pinterest, Private Equity, sequoia capital, Startups, TC, Venture Capital, video conferencing, zoom | 0 comments

Zoom, a relatively under-the-radar tech unicorn, has defied expectations with its initial public offering. The video conferencing business priced its IPO above its planned range on Wednesday, confirming plans to sell shares of its Nasdaq stock, titled “ZM,” at $36 apiece, CNBC reports.

The company initially planned to price its shares at between $28 and $32 per share, but following big demand for a piece of a profitable tech business, Zoom increased expectations, announcing plans to sell shares at between $33 and $35 apiece.

The offering gives Zoom an initial market cap of roughly $9 billion, or nine times that of its most recent private market valuation.

Zoom plans to sell 9,911,434 shares of Class A common stock in the listing, to bring in about $350 million in new capital.

If you haven’t had the chance to dive into Zoom’s IPO prospectus, here’s a quick run-down of its financials:

  • Zoom raised a total of $145 million from venture capitalists before filing to go public
  • It posted $330 million in revenue in the year ending January 31, 2019 with a gross profit of $269.5 million
  • It more than doubled revenues from 2017 to 2018, ending 2017 with $60.8 million in revenue and 2018 with $151.5 million
  • Its losses have shrunk from $14 million in 2017, $8.2 million in 2018 and just $7.5 million in the year ending January 2019

Zoom is backed by Emergence Capital, which owns a 12.2 percent pre-IPO stake; Sequoia Capital (11.1 percent); Digital Mobile Venture, a fund affiliated with former Zoom board member Samuel Chen (8.5 percent); and Bucantini Enterprises Limited (5.9 percent), a fund owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing.

Zoom will debut on the Nasdaq the same day Pinterest will go public on the NYSE. Pinterest, for its part, has priced its shares above its planned range, per The Wall Street Journal.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Birth control delivery startup Nurx taps Clover Health’s Varsha Rao as CEO

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Airbnb, Alphabet, board member, Chelsea Clinton, chief executive officer, Chief Operating Officer, Clover Health, Companies, Health, healthcare, Kleiner Perkins, Lowercase Capital, Medicare, Nurx, sharing economy, Startups, telemedicine, Union Square Ventures, United States, vacation rental, Venture Capital, websites, Y Combinator | 0 comments

Varsha Rao, Airbnb’s former head of global operations and, most recently, the chief operating officer at Clover Health, has joined Nurx as its chief executive officer.

Rao replaces Hans Gangeskar, Nurx’s co-founder and CEO since 2014, who will stay on as a board member.

Nurx, which sells birth control, PrEP, the once-daily pill that reduces the risk of getting HIV, and an HPV testing kit direct to consumer, has grown 250 percent in the last year, doubled its employee headcount and attracted 200,000 customers. Rao tells TechCrunch the startup realized they needed talent in the C-suite that had experienced this kind of growth.

“The company has made some really great progress in bringing on strong leaders and that’s one of the things that got me excited about joining,” Rao told TechCrunch. Nurx recently hired Jonathan Czaja, Stitch Fix’s former vice president of operations, as COO, and Dave Fong, who previously oversaw corporate pharmacy services at Safeway, as vice president of pharmacy.

Rao, for her part, joined Clover Health, a Medicare Advantage startup backed by Alphabet, in late 2017 after three years at Airbnb.

“After being at Airbnb, a really mission-driven company, I couldn’t go back to something that wasn’t equally or more so and healthcare really inspired me,” Rao said. “In terms of accessibility, I feel like [Nurx] is super important. We are really fortunate to live in a place where can access birth control and it can be more easily found but there are lots of parts of the country where physical access is challenging and costs can be a factor. To be able to break down barriers of access both physically and from an economic standpoint is hugely meaningful to me.”

Nurx, a graduate of Y Combinator, has raised about $42 million in venture capital funding from Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, Lowercase Capital and others. It launched in 2015 to facilitate women’s access to birth control across the U.S. with a HIPAA-compliant web platform and mobile application that delivers contraceptives directly to customers’ doorsteps.

Today, the telehealth startup is available to customers in 24 states and counts Chelsea Clinton as a board member.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Kindbody raises $15M, will open a ‘Fertility Bus’ with mobile testing & assessments

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in articles, Entrepreneur, fertility, Health, infertility, IVF, Kindbody, Los Angeles, manhattan, New York City, Perceptive Advisors, Recent Funding, right, RRE Ventures, San Francisco, social network, Startups, TC, TrailMix Ventures, ultrasound, United States, Venture Capital, winklevoss capital | 0 comments

Kindbody, a startup that lures millennial women into its pop-up fertility clinics with feminist messaging and attractive branding, has raised a $15 million Series A in a round co-led by RRE Ventures and Perceptive Advisors.

The New York-based company was founded last year by Gina Bartasi, a fertility industry vet who previously launched Progyny, a fertility benefit solution for employers, and FertilityAuthority.com, an information platform and social network for people struggling with fertility.

“We want to increase accessibility,” Bartasi told TechCrunch. “For too long, IVF and fertility treatments were for the 1 percent. We want to make fertility treatment affordable and accessible and available to all regardless of ethnicity and social economic status.”

Kindbody operates a fleet of vans — mobile clinics, rather — where women receive a free blood test for the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which helps assess their ovarian egg reserve but cannot conclusively determine a woman’s fertility. Depending on the results of the test, Kindbody advises women to visit its brick-and-mortar clinic in Manhattan, where they can receive a full fertility assessment for $250. Ultimately, the mobile clinics serve as a marketing strategy for Kindbody’s core service: egg freezing.

Kindbody charges patients $6,000 per egg-freezing cycle, a price that doesn’t include the cost of necessary medications but is still significantly less than market averages.

Bartasi said the mobile clinics have been “wildly popular,” attracting hoards of women to its brick-and-mortar clinic. As a result, Kindbody plans to launch a “fertility bus” this spring, where the company will conduct full fertility assessments, including the test for AMH, a pelvic ultrasound and a full consultation with a fertility specialist.

In other words, Kindbody will offer all components of the egg-freezing process on a bus aside from the actual retrieval, which occurs in Kindbody’s lab. The bus will travel around New York City before heading west to San Francisco, where it plans to park on the campuses of large employers, catering to tech employees curious about their fertility.

“Our mission at Kindbody is to bring care directly to the patient instead of asking the patient to come to visit us and inconvenience them,” Bartasi said.

A sneak peek of Kindbody’s “fertility bus,” which is still in the works

Kindbody, which has raised $22 million to date from Green D Ventures, Trailmix Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Chelsea Clinton, Clover Health co-founder Vivek Garipalli and others, also provides women support getting pregnant with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). 

With the latest investment, Kindbody will open a second brick-and-mortar clinic in Manhattan and its first permanent clinic in San Francisco. Additionally, Bartasi says they are in the process of closing an acquisition in Los Angeles that will result in Kindbody’s first permanent clinic in the city. Soon, the company will expand to include mental health, nutrition and gynecological services.

In an interview with The Verge last year, Bartasi said she’s taken inspiration from SoulCycle and DryBar, companies whose millennial-focused branding strategies and prolific social media presences have helped them accumulate customers. Kindbody, in that vein, notifies its followers of new pop-up clinics through its Instagram page.

In the article, The Verge called Kindbody “the SoulCycle of fertility” and questioned its branding strategy and its claim that egg freezing “freezes time.” After all, there is limited research confirming the efficacy of egg freezing.

“The technology that allows for egg-freezing has only been widely used in the last five to six years,” Bartasi explained. “The majority of women who froze their eggs haven’t used them yet. It’s not like you freeze your eggs in February and meet Mr. Right in June.”

Though Kindbody touts a mission of providing fertility treatments to the 99 percent, there’s no getting around the sky-high costs of the services, and one might argue that companies like Kindbody are capitalizing off women’s fear of infertility. Providing free AMH tests, which often falsely lead women to believe they aren’t as fertile as they’d hoped, might encourage more women to seek a full-fertility assessment and ultimately, to pay $6,000 to freeze their eggs, when in reality they are just as fertile as the average woman and not the ideal candidate for the difficult and uncomfortable process.

Bartasi said Kindbody makes all the options clear to its patients. She added that when she does hear accusations that services like Kindbody capitalize on fear of infertility, they tend to come from legacy programs and male fertility doctors: “They are a little rattled by some of the new entrants that look like the patients,” she said. “We are women designing for women. For far too long women’s health has been solved for by men.”

Kindbody’s pricing scheme may itself instill fear in incumbent fertility clinics. The startup’s egg-freezing services are much cheaper than market averages; its IVF services, however, are not. Not including the costs of medications necessary to successfully harvest eggs from the ovaries, the average cost of an egg-freezing procedure costs approximately $10,000, compared to Kindbody’s $6,000. Its IVF services are on par with other options in the market, costing $10,000 to $12,000 — not including medications — for one cycle of IVF.

Kindbody is able to charge less for egg freezing because they’ve cut out operational inefficiencies, i.e. they are a tech-enabled platform while many fertility clinics around the U.S. are still handing out hoards of paperwork and using fax machines. Bartasi admits, however, that this means Kindbody is making less money per patient than some of these legacy clinics.

“What is a reasonable profit margin for fertility doctors today?” Bartasi said. “Historically, margins have been very, very high, driven by a high retail price. But are these really high retail prices sustainable long term? If you’re charging 22,000 for IVF, how long is that sustainable? Our profit margins are healthy.”

Bartasi isn’t the only entrepreneur to catch on to the opportunity here, as I’ve noted. A whole bunch of women’s health startups have launched and secured funding recently.

Tia, for example, opened a clinic and launched an app that provides health advice and period tracking for women. Extend Fertility, which like Kindbody, helps women preserve their fertility through egg freezing, banked a $15 million round. And a startup called NextGen Jane, which is trying to detect endometriosis with “smart tampons,” announced a $9 million Series A a few weeks ago.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Unicorns, undercorns and horses: A guide to the nonsense

Posted by on Apr 13, 2019 in TC, unicorns, Venture Capital | 0 comments

It’s been more than a half-decade since Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures kicked off the unicorn craze. Noting in a well-read post for TechCrunch that an interesting cohort of private companies worth a billion dollars or more was worth examining, the post brought the “unicorn” into its current usage inside of tech.

And then tech itself did the term a favor, building and financing hundreds more. Now unicorns swarm like fleas, and simply snagging a $1 billion valuation these days is something that has been done in mere months and is a well-known vanity tactic used to juice hiring.

Anyway.

This has now gone on so long that many of us in the tech-focused journalism space are sick of saying the word. Kate Clark, Equity co-host and cool person, literally has “I am so sick of the buzz word [sic] ‘unicorn’ ” on her Twitter page. I agree with the sentiment.

But the phrase unicorn is back in the mix, so let’s examine the hubbub.

Booms and busts

The term unicorn quickly became overused as startups stayed private longer by pushing IPOs off as long as they could, and the capital world decided it was fine. Bored capital was pooling in venture coffers where it was itching to be disbursed by the wealthy into the holsters of the privileged. And thus the companies that in other cycles might have gone public simply didn’t, and the ranks of unicorns multiplied.

The joke’s on us, however, as we have used the term on the order of six billion times.

Soon the overused “unicorn” moniker was also too small. Decacorns took their own spot in the pantheon of silly names. A decacorn, in case you’ve led a more exciting life than me and are thus otherwise unfamiliar, is a private tech company that has racked up a $10 billion valuation. (A centacorn, I suppose, would be worth $100 billion?)

What a unicorn is has stretched and bent over time. But regardless of how the phrase has come to be defined in recent quarters, most people are talking about tech shops when they use it. And that’s pretty reasonable.

But what tech companies do very well is go up, and go down. And that’s when we wind up on the other side (tail-end?) of the unicorn debate: All are agreed that the phrase unicorn is useful. Not all, however, agree on what we call a unicorn that has fallen.

Oops

We have two questions: What do you call a unicorn that falls under the $1 billion valuation mark. And, relatedly, what do you call a unicorn that eventually goes public or otherwise exits at a discount to its final private market valuation?

Regarding the leading question, there are two definitions that I am aware of.

First, as has come back into the discussion this week, there’s the concept of an “undercorn.” As Business Insider noted through a blog citationAxios’ Dan Primack may have coined the term. Here, per Ian Sigalow’s post, which quotes the original Dan, is what Primack said:

When a venture-backed company breaks through the $1BN valuation mark, we call it a Unicorn. When the same company falls back below the $1BN threshold, it becomes an Undercorn.

That’s simple enough. However, Erin Griffith of The New York Times used the phrase recently in a slightly different manner. Here’s her riff:

Unicorns that sell or go public below their last private valuation are known as undercorns.

That’s different, as it’s defining undercorns as exited unicorns that lose altitude; that’s different than unicorns losing their unicornyness altogether. However, as we’re working on defining made-up words to describe an economic anomaly caused by government-determined free money, we can relax a little and realize that both uses of the word undercorn are equally differentiated from zero.

Now I get to talk about myself. I had my own thoughts on what a unicorn that had lost the requisite billion-dollar valuation should be called back in 2016. Regarding what a unicorn that had fallen under the needed worth:

If a unicorn is a horse with a spike, when you take the spike off you just have a horse.

I thought it was pretty smart. No one else agreed, and thus I have to admit that Primack and Griffith have made quite a lot more noise with the undercorn phrase, even if they don’t quite agree on what it means. (Feel free to become a partisan of either side, as we are long overdue for something useless and entertaining on the internet.)

Sadly, there are even more unicorn-related terms and phrases in and amidst the tech conversation that we shouldn’t miss.

Exotica and other notes

Returning to Axios, it has a new phrase out this year that’s worth keeping in our hat. From its February coverage of the venture landscape, I give you the phrase “minotaur:”

The Big Picture: Meet the minotaurs — our term for the companies that would be worth more than $1 billion even if the only thing they did was to take the cash that they have raised and put it in a checking account.

I wanted to hate this, but wound up deciding there are a host of worse words that could have been selected. And as it wasn’t a unicorn-variant, how could I complain?

The only other thing I can recall that fits our task today is something that Jason and I wrote four years ago in TechCrunch. As a follow-up to our “How To Speak Startup” post, we wrote the brilliantly titled “How To Speak Startup, Part Deux,” which contained the following definition:

Unicorn — As if metaphors in Silicon Valley couldn’t get more childish.

The joke’s on us, however, as we have used the term on the order of six billion times since then. And that’s that, I think. Now you know!


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Lyft prices IPO at top of range

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in Fundings & Exits, initial public offering, IPO, Lyft, Startups, Transportation, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Lyft raised more than $2 billion Thursday afternoon after pricing its shares at $72 apiece, the top of the expected range of $70 to $72 per share. This gives Lyft a fully diluted market value of $24 billion.

The company will debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Friday morning, trading under the ticker symbol “LYFT.”

The initial public offering is the first-ever for a ride-hailing business and represents a landmark liquidity event for private market investors, which had invested billions of dollars in the San Francisco-based company. In total, Lyft had raised $5.1 billion in debt and equity funding, reaching a valuation of $15.1 billion last year.

Lyft’s blockbuster IPO is unique for a number of reasons, in addition to being amongst transportation-as-a-service companies to transition from private to public. Lyft has the largest net losses of any pre-IPO business, posting losses of $911 million on revenues of $2.2 billion in 2018. However, the company is also raking in the largest revenues, behind only Google and Facebook, for a pre-IPO company. The latter has made it popular on Wall Street, garnering buy ratings from analysts prior to pricing.

Uber is the next tech unicorn, or company valued north of $1 billion, expected out of the IPO gate. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange in what is one of the most anticipated IPOs in history. The company, which reported $3 billion in Q4 2018 revenues with net losses of $865 million, is reportedly planning to unveil its IPO prospectus next month.

Next in the pipeline is Pinterest, which dropped its S-1 last week and revealed a path to profitability that is sure to garner support from Wall Street investors. The visual search engine will trade on the NYSE under the symbol “PINS.” It posted revenue of $755.9 million last year, up from $472.8 million in 2017. The company’s net loss, meanwhile, shrank to $62.9 million last year from $130 million in 2017.

Other notable companies planning 2019 stock offerings include Slack, Zoom — a rare, profitable pre-IPO unicorn — and, potentially, Airbnb.

Updating.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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