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Equity on Smash Notes

Equity podcast.

April 10, 2020

Equity is TechCrunch’s venture capital podcast. In each episode, you'll hear the stories behind the money that runs Silicon Valley. TechCrunch reporter Alex Wilhelm teams up with Danny Crichton and the most notable VCs in the industry to analyze who's raising, who's selling out and who's going public.

Episodes with Smash Notes

Spoiler alert: there were more tricks than treats.

Danny, Natasha and Alex wanted to get to the bottom of the big tech results, asking what really mattered from each of them?

Then it was time to dig into themes. We saw plan price increases coming from Netflix and Spotify, advertising getting a boo-st from politics and 2020's overall meltdown, and boo-ming billions of consumer interest in...desktops.

After that, a dive into the results of smaller SaaS and cloud companies, picking out trends that might help us see around the corner a bit; is the tech boom slowing, or is corporate growth merely failing to keep up with inflated investor expectations?

This week felt like a shudder ran through the spine of our economy. The earnings paint a neutral picture, which isn't exactly an exhale to rejoice over.

The coronavirus continues to be a threat that poses a risk to public businesses. For startups, that could mean a less frothy exit market nad lower valuations. And for the public, it means that the uncertain is still ahead of us. So wear a mask.

Right, here's what Natasha, Danny, and your humble servant got into this week:

The huge COVID-related hit that public markets took this week, with tech getting hit extra hard.

An antitrust brouhaha! As the Vista-Plaid deal and others gets a hard look, we wondered what it could all mean for startups were a bit more suited for M&A than an IPO.

Up next we dug into how founders are raising money before they even quit their jobs, a trend that Natasha is digging into.

From there it was a Danny segment, riffing on his 2020s piece, and dive into where he sees the most ripe chances for startups to truly change the world. We just hope the capital follows the opportunities.

Then it was time to talk accelerators, with Natasha detailing on the Indie Bio class, and my taking of the show through some recent Techstars companies.

VCs raised too, with the three of us talking about The Engine and Impact America raising fresh new funds.

And then we chatted about the Yuanfudao round, and a Series B that The Wanderlust Group just put together.

This was a busy morning, with lots to talk about it. Here’s what we got into:

Headlines this morning that caught our eye included falling global stock markets in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases; SAP torched tens of billions of market cap by missing earnings expectations and cutting its forecast; and Ant Group will raise a bajillion dollars in its impending IPO.

The fall of Quibi, and who lost money in the mix. TechCrunch has a bit more on the video service's downfall here. The Netflix quarter, and why its shares lost ground after its report. The Quibi-Netflix stories show that it's not smooth sailing in the market for online video. If Netflix stumbled, Snap soared with stronger-than-expected growth. The company still loses lots of money, but it's getting closer to reasonable results, and has lots of cash. Then we turned to a few media startups that raised, including $4 million for Stir and $2.5 million for Quake. Quake the podcasting company, mind, not the excellent FPS. Next was a handful of housing rounds, including the very neat Abodu and the somewhat controversial RVshare, which split the three of us about whether or not it was going to work out. Then we had some great reporting from Natasha to parse through, including her piece on startup hacker houses, and her report on a new women-focused accelerator class.

It's a big day in tech because the US Federal Government is going after Google on anti-competitive grounds. Sure, the timing appears crassly political and the case is not picking up huge plaudits thus far for its air-tightness, but that doesn't mean we can ignore it.

American equities are set to rise, which is good news for the startup-VC world as it means that the current up-cycle will continue. But the good public market is not landing evenly, as Europe sees its VC-backed IPO tally lag the rest of the world.

The whole crew was back today, with Natasha and Danny and I gathered to parse over what was really a blast of news. Lots of startups are raising. Lots of VCs are raising. And some unicorns are shooting to go public. It's a lot to get through, but we're here to catch you up.

So, what was on our minds this morning? Headlines: The Twilio-Segment deal is real, happening, and is priced about where we expected. Big names in the ex-China Internet want to make encryption worse. And, how the United States government would break up Google is becoming clearer by the week. On the Twilio Segment deal, as TechCrunch and Forbes anticipated, the transaction came in around $3.2 billion, forming something of a API monster from their combined form. As we noted on the show, a lot of investors made a mint from the transaction. Airkit has raised $28 million while in stealth since 2017. What does it do? Per Forbes, it's a "low-code platform" that wants to "improve customer engagement." That's notably similar to what Segment does. Flash Express raised $200 million, as the on-demand and delivery spaces stay hot. And Razorpay raised $100 million at a valuation of $1 billion, meaning that we have just witnessed the birth of yet another fintech unicorn. And, finally, warm public markets mean that the startup and VC game will stay afoot, even if we see a pre-election dip in IPOs.

This week Natasha was on vacation, so Danny and your humble servant had to endeavour alone. She's back next week, so we'll be back to full strength as a collective soon enough.

But even with a depleted hosting crew, we had a mountain of news to get through. And to joke about, as Danny was in the mood for a laugh. Here's the rundown:

Starting the day American stocks are set to rise despite the country's president spending the weekend in a military hospital to combat his COVID-19 infection. The weekend itself was marked with national turmoil as information was incomplete, and shifting when it came to the health of the current administration.

This week, Alex is on a much deserved vacation (but not from Twitter, it seems) so Danny Crichton and I chatted through the news and happenings of the week. Somehow we winded our way through the latest tech controversies, gave Chris Wallace a shout out, and ended with some funding rounds. I’ll be out next week so don’t miss me too much, but expect the entire Equity team to be back full-speed in mid-October. Thanks, as always, to our producer Chris Gates for his patience and diligence.

Two direct listings in one day. Lots to talk about.

Asana started trading just a bit after noon Eastern today, quickly zooming to roughly about $29 a share in early trading this afternoon. Meanwhile, Palantir is running like a herd of bulls straight out of the gate, jumping to almost $11 a share in the first trades — a first day jump of nearly 50%.