Stripe’s grand plan – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I noted Peloton’s secret weapons. Before that, I wrote about a new e-commerce startup, Pietra.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

The big story

In one fell swoop, Stripe may disrupt the entire financial services ecosystem.

The $22 billion payments behemoth announced Stripe Capital this week, a provider of quick and easy to obtain loans for internet businesses. The company is expected to launch a card as well, according to gpgmail’s Ingrid Lunden. What does that mean for recent upstarts like Clearbanc, a business that provides revenue-share agreements to help startups forgo selling equity to VCs, or Brex, which has created a credit card tailored for startups? Stiff competition ahead.

Led by brothers Patrick and John Collison, Stripe is known for developing payment processing software to facilitate online purchases. Doubling down on financial services, the company seeks to become the go-to capital provider to its millions of customers. In a vacuum, it’s no threat to Brex, which has quickly become a fintech darling (with a multibillion-dollar valuation to prove it) — but coupled with Stripe’s massive network, resources and the soon-to-be-announced card, it’s worth concern.

I reached out to both Brex and Clearbanc. Here’s what they had to say.

Clearbanc: “Stripe is one of our close partners because we’re both deeply committed to empowering founders. There’s a huge demand amongst founders for flexible funding that allow them to grow while retaining equity in their company, so it’s encouraging to see the growth of alternative funding options. We’re seeing this first hand — we’re investing an average of $100,000 of growth capital per brand, with other companies taking up to $10 million. New funding alternatives not only open more doors for more businesses, but data-driven platforms can also help to reduce bias and promote entrepreneurship outside of VC capitals like Silicon Valley and New York.”

Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras: “We have created a new financial stack for tech companies, and this has resulted in a very innovative product experience with lots of adoption, so it makes sense that Stripe would also pursue this fast-growing opportunity.”

We’ll share more details on the card as soon as possible.

WeWork slashes expectations

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the company formerly known as WeWork is considering slashing its valuation as it looks to woo public market investors. The co-working biz may hit the public markets at a valuation of somewhere in the $20 billion range for its initial public offering, a figure that’s far less than the $47 billion valuation it received when it raised its last round of private funding. Yikes…

gpgmail Disrupt

We are just weeks away from our flagship conference, gpgmail Disrupt San Francisco. We have dozens of amazing speakers lined up. In addition to taking in the great line-up of speakers, ticket holders can roam around Startup Alley to catch the more than 1,000 companies showcasing their products and technologies. And, of course, you’ll get the opportunity to watch the Startup Battlefield competition live. Past competitors include Dropbox, Cloudflare and Mint… You never know which future unicorn will compete next.

You can take a look at the full agenda here. Here’s a look at the panels I personally will be onstage moderating.

Deals, deals, deals

Listen

This week, we recorded Equity on location at gpgmail Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco. Our special guest was Emergence Capital founder Jason Green, who joined us to talk about the firm’s specialty: enterprise investments! Danny Crichton, the esteemed leader of gpgmail’s Extra Crunch, was on hand to co-lead the episode with me. Listen here. And remember, Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.




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Peloton’s 29 secret weapons – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about a new e-commerce startup, Pietra. Before that, I wrote about the flurry of IPO filings.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

What’s new?

Peloton revealed its S-1 this week, taking a big step toward an IPO expected later this year. The filing was packed with interesting tidbits, including that the company, which manufacturers internet-connected stationary bikes and sells an affiliated subscription to its growing library of on-demand fitness content, is raking in more than $900 million in annual revenue. Sure, it’s not profitable, and it’s losing an increasing amount of money to sales and marketing efforts, but for a company that many people wrote off from the very beginning, it’s an impressive feat.

Despite being a hardware, media, interactive software, product design, social connection, apparel and logistics company, according to its S-1, the future of Peloton relies on its talent. Not the employees developing the bikes and software but the 29 instructors teaching its digital fitness courses. Ally Love, Alex Toussaint and the 27 other teachers have developed cult followings, fans who will happily pay Peloton’s steep $39 per month content subscription to get their daily dose of Ben or Christine.

“To create Peloton, we needed to build what we believed to be the best indoor bike on the market, recruit the best instructors in the world, and engineer a state-of-the-art software platform to tie it all together,” founder and CEO John Foley writes in the IPO prospectus. “Against prevailing conventional wisdom, and despite countless investor conference rooms full of very smart skeptics, we were determined for Peloton to build a vertically integrated platform to deliver a seamless end-to-end experience as physically rewarding and addictive as attending a live, in-studio class.”

Peloton succeeded in poaching the best of the best. The question is, can they keep them? Will competition in the fast-growing fitness technology sector swoop in and scoop Peloton’s stars?

In other news

Last week I published a long feature on the state of seed investing in the Bay Area. The TL;DR? Mega-funds are increasingly battling seed-stage investors for access to the hottest companies. As a result, seed investors are getting a little more creative about how they source deals. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and everyone wants a stake in The Next Big Thing. Read the story here.

Rounds of the week

Time to Disrupt

Don’t miss out on our flagship Disrupt, which takes place October 2-4. It’s the quintessential tech conference for anyone focused on early-stage startups. Join more than 10,000 attendees — including over 1,200 exhibiting startups — for three jam-packed days of programming. We’re talking four different stages with interactive workshops, Q&A sessions and interviews with some of the industry’s top tech titans, founders, investors, movers and shakers. Check out our list of speakers and the Disrupt agenda. I will be there interviewing a bunch of tech leaders, including Bastian Lehmann and Charles Hudson. Buy tickets here.

Listen

This week on Equity, gpgmail’s venture capital-focused podcast, we had Floodgate’s Iris Choi on to discuss Peloton’s upcoming IPO. You can listen to it here. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.

Learn

We published a number of new deep dives on Extra Crunch, our paid subscription product, this week. Here’s a quick look at the top stories:




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Startups Weekly: Diamond-encrusted disruption – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the flurry of IPO filings. Before that, I noted the differences between raising cash from angels vs. traditional venture capitalists.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

What’s new

Venture capitalists look for companies poised to disrupt markets untouched by innovative technology. Believe it or not, a very small percentage of jewelry shopping is done online, which means there’s a big opportunity — for the right team — to bring jewelry buyers and sellers to the 21st century.

Enter Pietra, a new startup that’s just raised $4 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Andrew Chen (Substack & Hipcamp investor). Robert Downey Jr.’s VC fund Downey Ventures and Will Smith’s fund Dreamers Fund also participated, as did Hollywood manager Scooter Braun, Michael Ovitz and supermodel Joan Smalls.

I spoke to the founding team, which includes Uber alum Ronak Trivedi and Ashley Bryan, who hails from fashion e-commerce site Moda Operandi. The pair bring a healthy mix of technology and fashion expertise to the mix. Trivedi tells gpgmail he’s drawn on his Uber experience to recruit engineers from top tech companies and to advocate for fast growth. Meanwhile, Bryan has leveraged her fashion industry connections to establish relationships with luxury designers.

 “Fashion is typically really under-resourced in terms of tech,” Bryan tells gpgmail. “[The fashion industry] is great at the creativity part but it’s tough, especially with jewelry because you really have to put up a lot of capital.”

Pietra’s plan is to create a high-end marketplace for consumers to connect with jewelry designers. To do this, the team has adopted the standard marketplace approach, taking a 30% marketplace fee from sellers, as well as a 7% fee from buyers commissioning jewelry on the platform.

“Whether you do custom jewelry or engagement jewelry or you do jewelry for celebrities like Drake, you can come on Pietra and connect with a global marketplace,” says Trivedi.

The jewelry market is expected to be worth more than $250 billion by 2020, according to McKinsey research. And where there’s a billion-dollar market, there are VCs. 

“Even though gemstones and jewelry have been at the center of art, commerce, and culture since the dawn of human civilization — going from stone jewelry created 40,000 years ago in Africa to the trade routes between East and West to Fifth Avenue in New York to the Instagram feed on your phone — the technology for discovering, designing, and purchasing jewelry online hasn’t evolved much at all,” writes a16z’s Chen, who overlapped with Trivedi during his Uber tenure.

Pietra completed its official launch this week. It has 100 designers on the platform and counting, along with what the founders say is a lengthy waitlist.

hands signing check 1

In other news

This week I published a long feature on the state of seed investing in the Bay Area. The TL;DR? Mega-funds are increasingly battling seed-stage investors for access to the hottest companies. As a result, seed investors are getting a little more creative about how they source deals. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and everyone wants a stake in The Next Big Thing. Read the story here.

Demo Day

Y Combinator graduated another batch of 200 companies this week. We were there both days, taking notes on each and every company. To make things easy on you, I’ve put together the ultimate YC reading list:

Here’s a look at some of the profiles we’ve written on the S19 companies:

Listen

We recorded two great episodes of Equity, gpgmail’s venture capital podcast, this week. The first was with YC CEO Michael Seibel, in which he speaks to trends at the seed stage of investing, changes at the accelerator program, including its move to San Francisco and more. You can listen to that one here. Plus, we had on Unusual Ventures co-founder and partner John Vrionis, who talked to us about direct listings versus IPOs and the future of DoorDash and Airbnb. You can listen to that one here.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.

Tips for B2B startups

Contributors Tyler Elliston and Kevin Barry share advice for B2B companies: “Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of B2B companies apply ineffective demand generation strategies to their startup. If you’re a B2B founder trying to grow your business, this guide is for you. Rule #1: B2B is not B2C. We are often dealing with considered purchases, multiple stakeholders, long decision cycles, and massive LTVs. These unique attributes matter when developing a growth strategy. We’ll share B2B best practices we’ve employed while working with awesome B2B companies like Zenefits, Crunchbase, Segment, OnDeck, Yelp, Kabbage, Farmers Business Network, and many more.” Read the full story here. (Extra Crunch membership required.)




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The mad dash to the public markets – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the differences between raising cash from angels and traditional venture capitalists. Before that, I summarized DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.


It’s Friday morning and I don’t want to dig into another IPO prospectus. The startups don’t care though, they’re in a mad dash to get to the public markets, reporters be damned.

This week, three billion-dollar venture-backed “unicorns” unveiled S-1 filings, the paperwork necessary to complete an IPO. First came WeWork, the $47 billion co-working giant beloved by SoftBank. Then came Cloudflare, a business that provides web security and denial-of-service protection for websites. Then this morning, after we all thought it was time for a breather, “teledentistry” company SmileDirectClub made its filing public.

There’s plenty to read on each of these high-profile IPOs; here’s a quick reading list:

WeWork

WeWork reveals IPO filing
WeWork’s S-1 misses these three key points
Making sense of WeWork’s S-1 (or trying to)

Cloudflare

Cloudflare files for initial public offering
Cloudflare says cutting off customers like 8chan is an IPO ‘risk factor’
In its IPO filing, Cloudflare thanks a third co-founder: Lee Holloway

SmileDirectClub
SmileDirectClub files to go public amid concerns from dental associations

On to other things…

Meet the startups in Y Combinator’s summer batch
As you may know, YC summer demo days are next week. A whopping 176 companies are expected to present and we’ll be there reporting live, as usual. In preparation, we’ve been cherry-picking companies in the latest batch that interest us. Here’s a look at our latest — more to come:

Equity Podcast
This was a very special week for Equity. We taped two great episodes, one in which we hung out with Axios’ Dan Primack in Boston, the other featuring me recording out of a New York City Blue Bottle Coffee shortly after WeWork dropped its S-1 filing. You can listen to our latest episodes here and here. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Extra Crunch
In our latest installment of EC-1, in which go deep on an up-and-coming startup, gpgmail’s Eric Peckham tells the founding story of Kobalt, the world’s next music tech unicorn. Here’s a passage from Peckham’s extensive piece: “You may not have heard of Kobalt before, but you probably engage with the music it oversees every day, if not almost every hour. Combining a technology platform to better track ownership rights and royalties of songs with a new approach to representing musicians in their careers, Kobalt has risen from the ashes of the 2000 dot-com bubble to become a major player in the streaming music era. It is the leading alternative to incumbent music publishers (who represent songwriters) and is building a new model record label for the growing ‘middle class’ of musicians around the world who are stars within niche audiences.”




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Angel vs. VC – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar, which no one saw coming. Before that, I jotted down some notes on SoftBank’s second Vision Fund.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

What’s new?

Alternative funding mechanisms, like Clearbanc’s revenue share model, may be on the rise but most Silicon Valley startups still turn to venture capital to get their company off the ground. As I’ve previously said in this newsletter, VC spending in 2019 is reaching record-highs, already surpassing $62 billion. Angel investment, for its part, also continues to occupy a meaningful portion of private investment. So far this year, individual angels and angel groups in the U.S. have doled out $10 billion to startups. 

Angel investors are not traditional venture capitalists bogged down by processes, quotas and fund economics. Rather, they’re deep-pocketed former operators (often) with expansive networks. For some, their capital is superior to VCs; for others, a VC’s ability to write larger checks and participate in additional fundings as their company grows makes VC the only viable option. 

So how do early-stage startups decide who’s money to take (if they have that luxury)? Here’s what Jana Messerschmidt, both an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners and a founding partner of the angel network #ANGELS, had to say: “It’s dependent on who the individual angel is, as well as who the individual partner is. In these frothier times, I encourage founders to interview investors who take a slot on their cap table with the same rigor they would a potential employee.”

Ben Ling, an early Facebook executive who spent years angel investing only to launch his own institutional venture capital fund, Bling Capital, tells gpgmail the plus side of angel investors is that they are oftentimes less sensitive to valuations. Angels, while they can’t usually invest as much capital as a VC, tend to offer better terms and be approving of less rigid deal structures.

But being an investor isn’t an angel’s full-time job, typically. The limited amount of time an angel can give each company may be problematic for a founder seeking mentorship but a non-issue for a more experienced founder, who is simply seeking an individual passionate about her or his vision. 

Given the rise in venture capital investment overall, more founders and former operators are running into wealth and opting to try on the VC hat for size. And more and more, those people are becoming professional investors with an appetite for a bigger pool of capital. Ling, as mentioned, decided last year to raise his first institutional fund, a $60 million effort, for example: “I think it’s rare for super angels to ‘beat’ firms for most regular financings but it certainly can happen,” Ling tells gpgmail.

Presumably, that’s why he and many others (Cyan Banister, Keith Rabois, Ron Conway, James Currier) made the switch to “real” VC — to win over the best deals. As angels turn into VCs, whether your startup’s money came from one person’s wallet or an institutional fund matters a whole lot less. Just make sure you have good people investing in your company, and while you are it, make sure they’re diverse too.

That’s all for now… Onto the news.

WeWork IPO update

Bloomberg reported Friday that WeWork was expected to make its IPO filing available next week. Soon, we can all finally get an inside look at the co-working giant’s financials. A reminder, WeWork was last valued at an eye-popping $47 billion and it wants to raise some $3.5 billion in the IPO. Skeptical? Me too.

#Equitypod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out gpgmail’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm and I discuss a new trend in venture capital: sperm storage startups. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.

Big Deals

Little Deals

M&A

Airbnb announced its acquisition of Urbandoor, a platform that offers extended stays to corporate clients, earlier this week. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though an SEC filing connected with the deal emerged Friday, indicating the deal was worth more than $80 million in what’s likely a combination of cash and stock. We’ve got all the details on the deal here.

Healthtech & VC

Now it’s time for your weekly reminder to sign up for Extra Crunch. For a low price, you can learn more about the startups and venture capital ecosystem through exclusive deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, resources and recommendations and fundamental startup how-to guides. Here’s a passage from my personal favorite EC post of the week:

“Why is tech still aiming for the healthcare industry? It seems full of endless regulatory hurdles or stories of misguided founders with no knowledge of the space, running headlong into it, only to fall on their faces. Theranos is a prime example of a founder with zero health background or understanding of the industry — and just look what happened there! The company folded not long after founder Elizabeth Holmes came under criminal investigation and was barred from operating in her own labs for carelessly handling sensitive health data and test results…”

Read the rest of Sarah Buhr’s piece, ‘What leading healthtech VCs are interested in,’ here.

Just For Fun




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DoorDash gets a taste of Caviar – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about SoftBank’s second Vision Fund. Before that, I noted some challenges plaguing mental health tech startups.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

What’s new?

This week DoorDash announced an agreement to acquire Caviar, an on-demand delivery business, from Square. DoorDash says it will pay $410 million for the company in a combination of cash and stock. If you’re thinking that seems like a lot of money, you are very much correct.

It’s so much money that all of us over here at gpgmail were scratching our heads trying to understand why DoorDash would shell out that kind of cash. After all, Square paid only $90 million in stock for Caviar when it acquired the company back in 2014. However, DoorDash is VC cash-rich. The business, still privately-owned, has raised an astronomical sum of venture capital. This year alone it’s raised $1 billion, including a Series G funding of $600 million that valued it at $12.6 billion.

When a company raises that many huge rounds so close together, you can only assume it’s burning through a lot of cash. When it comes time for DoorDash to begin pitching Wall Street for an IPO — we’re thinking late next year — established subsidiaries like Caviar will at least help bolster its IPO-ready narrative.

With monster companies like DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats owning the food delivery space, we will no doubt see more big M&A deals and more startups die. (Remeber the insane fall of Munchery, anyone?) But will any of these efforts ever become profitable? Or will DoorDash burn through cash until there’s just no more cash left to burn?

#Equitypod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out gpgmail’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm and I attempt to make sense of DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.

Big Deals

Male Female with Platform

Little Deals

computer heart

M&A

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Venture Fundraising

GettyImages 816919766

Extra Crunch

Here’s your weekly reminder that for a low price — a complete bargain really — you can learn more about the startups and venture capital ecosystem with a subscription to Extra Crunch. We offer exclusive deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, resources and recommendations, and fundamental startup how-to guides to our subscribers. Here are some of the best EC posts of the week:




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SoftBank’s second act – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I noted some challenges plaguing mental health tech startups. Before that, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Anyway, onto the subject on everyone’s mind this week: SoftBank’s second Vision Fund.

Well into the evening on Thursday, SoftBank announced a target of $108 billion for the Vision Fund 2. Yes, you read that correctly, $108 billion. SoftBank indeed plans to raise even more capital for its sophomore vehicle than it did for the record-breaking debut vision fund of $98 billion, which was majority-backed by the government funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, as well as Apple, Foxconn and several other limited partners.

Its upcoming fund, to which SoftBank itself has committed $38 billion, has attracted investment from the National Investment Corporation of National Bank of Kazakhstan, Apple, Foxconn, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and more. Microsoft, a new LP for SoftBank, reportedly hopped on board with the Japanese telecom giant as part of a grand scheme to convince the massive fund’s portfolio companies to transition to Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud platform that competes with Amazon Web Services . Here’s more on that and some analysis from gpgmail editor Jonathan Shieber.

News of the second Vision Fund comes as somewhat of a surprise. We’d heard SoftBank was having some trouble landing commitments for the effort. Why? Well, because SoftBank’s investments have included a wide-range of upstarts, including some uncertain bets. Brandless, a company into which SoftBank injected a lot of money, has struggled in recent months, for example. Wag is said to be going downhill fast. And WeWork, backed with billions from SoftBank, still has a lot to prove.

Here’s everything else we know about The Vision Fund 2:

  • It’s focused on the “AI revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies.”
  • The full list of investors also includes seven Japanese financial institutions: Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, SMBC Nikko Securities and Daiwa Securities Group. Also, international banking services provider Standard Chartered Bank, as well as “major participants from Taiwan.”
  • The $108 billion figure is based on memoranda of understandings (MOUs), or agreements for future investment from the aforementioned entities. That means SoftBank hasn’t yet collected all this capital, aside from the $38 billion it plans to invest itself in the new Vision Fund.
  • Saudi and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds are not listed as investors in the new fund.
  • SoftBank is expected to begin deploying capital fund from Fund 2 immediately, and a first close is expected in two months, per The Financial Times.
  • We’ll keep you updated on the Vision Fund 2’s investments, fundraising efforts and more as we learn about them.

On to other news…

iHeartMedia And WeWork's

IPO Corner

WeWork is planning a September listing

The company made headlines again this week after word slipped it was accelerating its IPO plans and targeting a September listing. We don’t know much about its IPO plans yet as we are still waiting on the co-working business to unveil its S-1 filing. Whether WeWork can match or exceed its current private market valuation of $47 billion is unlikely. I expect it will pull an Uber and struggle, for quite some time, to earn a market cap larger than what VCs imagined it was worth months earlier.

Robinhood had a wild week

The consumer financial app made headlines twice this week. The first time because it raised a whopping $323 million at a $7.6 billion valuation. That is a whole lot of money for a business that just raised a similarly sized monster round one year ago. In fact, it left us wondering, why the hell is Robinhood worth $7.6 billion? Then, in a major security faux pas, the company revealed it has been storing user passwords in plaintext. So, go change your Robinhood password and don’t trust any business to value your security. Sigh.

Another day, another huge fintech round

While we’re on the subject on fintech, gpgmail editor Danny Crichton noted this week the rise of mega-rounds in the fintech space. This week, it was personalized banking app MoneyLion, which raised $100 million at a near unicorn valuation. Last week, it was N26, which raised another $170 million on top of its $300 million round earlier this year. Brex raised another $100 million last month on top of its $125 million Series C from late last year. Meanwhile, companies like payments platform Stripe, savings and investment platform Raisin, traveler lender Uplift, mortgage backers Blend and Better and savings depositor Acorns have also raised massive new rounds this year. Naturally, VC investment in fintech is poised to reach record levels this year, according to PitchBook.

Uber’s changing board

Arianna Huffington, the CEO of Thrive Global, stepped down from Uber’s board of directors this week, a team she had been apart of since 2016. She addressed the news in a tweet, explaining that there were no disagreements between her and the company, rather, she was busy and had other things to focus on. Fair. Benchmark’s Matt Cohler also stepped down from the board this week, which leads us to believe the ride-hailing giant’s advisors are in a period of transition. If you remember, Uber’s first employee and longtime board member Ryan Graves stepped down from the board in May, just after the company’s IPO. 

Startup Capital

Unity, now valued at $6B, raising up to $525M
Bird is raising a Sequoia-led Series D at $2.5B valuation
SMB payroll startup Gusto raises $200M Series D
Elon Musk’s Boring Company snags $120M
a16z values camping business HipCamp at $127M
An inside look at the startup behind Ashton Kutcher’s weird tweets
Dataplor raises $2M to digitize small businesses in Latin America

Extra Crunch

While we’re on the subject of amazing gpgmail #content, it’s probably time for a reminder for all of you to sign up for Extra Crunch. For a low price, you can learn more about the startups and venture capital ecosystem through exclusive deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, resources and recommendations and fundamental startup how-to guides. Here are some of my current favorite EC posts:

  1. What types of startups are the most profitable?
  2. The roles tools play in employee engagement
  3. What to watch for in a VC term sheet

#Equitypod

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out gpgmail’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm, gpgmail editor Danny Crichton and I unpack Robinhood’s valuation and argue about scooter startups. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast and Spotify.

That’s all, folks.




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