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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

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week we had the full crew around once again, Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton, Chris Gates, and myself. And as always, it was key to have the full crew as there was an ocean of news to get through. Before we get into the show, make sure you've checked out Danny's latest work on the TechCrunch List and let's get into it:

The TikTok saga continues: This week we spent a few minutes discussing why bankers are incentivized to make the proposed TikTok-Microsoft deal as competitive as possible. Or at least make it look as competitive as possible. And, there's some data from inside Microsoft about how the deal is being viewed. Airbnb could file to go public this month! It might go public before the year is out! That's way better than we expected. (Bloomberg got its Q2 finances.) Palantir could file for a direct listing next month! That's great. We wanted to know what Palantir really is, namely a consultancy or a tech company. And then we played valuation bingo so that we can look back later and mock ourselves. I was very excited about the Duck Creek IPO. Few of my friends joined me in being excited. The three of us also took a minute to riff on the latest Pinterest news, namely that it's poorly run and is sexist per its now-former COO. We'd love to stop covering these stories, but they keep happening so, on we go. Danny had some neat SPAC data to share, helping illustrate that SPACs are not merely a meme, they are a real, driving force of public company action this year. As was Tesla's announced stock split, which led us to ask why a few times. Next up, Natasha walked us through her latest work digging into how GenZ is shaking up the funding world. We framed the changes in some historical context, and decided that really in the end the kids are alright. Danny brought us to a close, with a note on Conduit (connecting founders and early-stage investors) and Circle (creator software). Both are worth your time.

And that was our show! We are back Monday morning. Stay cool!

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

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

This morning was a bit of a grab-bag of news, but of course we had to start off with the biggest story from the past few week:

It's TikTok around the clock: News broke recently that Twitter could be interested in TikTok after Apple came and somewhat went as a possible suitor. What matters is that Microsoft is not a full-lock on TikTok's exit. No word lately on whether the Trump administration's decision to try to extort a chunk of the sale price will go through. (It won't.) TikTok may sue the Trump administration as early as this week over its possible forced sale. Do startup culture, venture capital, and mental health mix well? Amazon is talking about turning some malls into fulfillment centers, TechCrunch has more. The huge wealth of major tech companies is only growing, meaning that a rising share of the public market run is based on a handful of big-tech results. Flipkart is building an accelerator. Expert System has raised $29.4 million, while Palmetto has raised $29 million, and Silverfort put together a $30 million round. How's that for three rounds of the same size?

All that and earnings season is largely behind us, leaving tech companies generally unscathed. So, the good times will persist for a while yet. Have a great week!

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

As ever I was joined by TechCrunch managing editor Danny Crichton and our early-stage venture capital reporter Natasha Mascarenhas. We had Chris on the dials and a pile of news to get through, so we were pretty hype heading into the show.

But before we could truly get started we had to discuss Cincinnati, and TikTok. Pleasantries and extortion out of the way, we got busy:

Ecommerce and fintech stay hot as Square reported big earnings, Shopify and Etsy do well, and more. We tied this to recent VC results in the fintech space, which saw a record number of $100 million rounds in Q2. There were some signs of weakness elsewhere, but the general state of things in tech is surprisingly hot, given the pandemic and recession. Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia has a new seed fund that he built in collaboration with AngelList. D2C women's-health startup Stix raised a $1.3 million Seed round. Quantum-computing startup Rigetti raised a $79 million Series C. Rippling raised $145 million at an eye-popping $1.35 billion valuation; the company's last value, set a year ago, was $270 million. AgentSync put together a $4.4 million Seed round to help bring APIs to insurtech. Turning away from funding to some neat product news, India-based Statiq is building a bootstrapped EV-charging network. And as we wrapped, the Byju-WhiteHat Jr. deal was neat, JIO is soaking up a huge amount of Indian VC, and Natasha's latest piece on learning pods had us arguing about what things are worth.

It was another fun week! As always we appreciate you sticking with and supporting the show!

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

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

As you probably expected, we had a lot to say about the TikTok-Microsoft tie-up that is somehow still afoot. Other things happened too, don't worry. Here's the rundown:

The TikTok-Microsoft deal is back on. Lordstown Motors is looking to go public via a SPAC. To which we have to say that the EV boom and SPAC crush are going to fuse and lose some people a lot of money. Not this deal, necessarily, mind. Google is dumping money into ADT as part of a Nest deal. And Zoom's latest move regarding the Chinese market feels like a harbinger of times to come. On the TikTok front, Microsoft never really fully abandoned consumer hardware and software, it just pruned deeply under its current CEO Satya Nadella. Windows Phone? Gone. Surface? Bigger than ever. Mixer? No. Bing? Yep. That sort of thing. And Microsoft, like any modern super-platform, doesn't just want to own your time when you are at work. It wants to burn your eyes out around the clock. For a host of ByteDance backers like Yuri Milner, Sequoia Capital China, General Atlantic, SoftBank, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the deal could be rather lucrative, we presume. Rounds for Wejo (coverage here), Lezzoo (coverage here), and Feather (coverage here). Finally, why does Microsoft want to buy TikTok? We had a number of ideas that all sort of summed to maybe, but when we ran through the big tech companies that were possible suitors -- ports in the Trump storm -- maybe Microsoft makes more sense than we would have guessed?

Whatever the case, we can't wait until Satya announces the deal by dancing and pointing at text on a screen while wearing something silly.

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We had the full team this week: Myself, Danny, and Natasha on the mics, with Chris running skipper as always.

Sadly this week we had to kick off with a correction as I am 1. Dumb, and, 2. See point one. But after we got past SPAC nuances (shoutout David Ethridge), we had a full show of good stuff, including:

Y Combinator Demo Day is going virtual, as before, and its coming iteration will also be live. The Equity crew all agree that this is the right thing to do, and probably more fun to boot. And now the founders can sweat a live event, too! What fun. Speaking of live events going digital, Disrupt is coming up. And it is going to be great. Read more here. A group of Stanford business school students are putting together and investment vehicle to invest money into themselves, which is a good idea and something that is highly risible. Luckily, Danny and Natasha had good things to say about the effort. Ro raised $200 million, and any jokes that were inappropriate are Danny's fault. The company's $200 million valuation makes the news that its competitor Hims could go public via a SPAC all the more exciting. I covered a neat round: $20 million for Instrumental, a super neat startup that has me hype. Facebook is still hunting up ways to get a better look into growing startups -- this time via investments in venture capital funds. And, finally, there were some hearings this week, you might have heard. We're working on something neat that you are going to love on just that topic, so stay tuned.

And that's Equity for this week. We are back Monday morning early, so make sure you are keeping tabs on our socials. Hugs, talk soon!

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

After the morning show went out, the Equity crew could not shut up about the Qualtrics-SAP deal, so we had no choice but to jump back into recording mode for an off-the-cuff Equity Shot. As always, Shots are short-form Equity episodes that focus on a single, news topic.

https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/27/why-is-sap-spinning-qualtrics-out-via-an-ipo/

Building off of Danny's SAP knowledge, Natasha's curiosity about the future Qualtrics S-1, and my own recent dive into the SAP and Qualtrics numbers, we managed to cover quite a lot of ground. So, if you wanted to know:

Why did SAP have to pay so much for Qualtrics back in the day? Why is SAP willing to part with Qualtrics so soon after buying it? How much might Qualtrics be worth? And, of course, did the Equity team expect to see this news in 2020?

Then you are probably going to like what we have in store for you.

Spoiler on that last as the answer is a firm no, but, all the same, what fun. That's about it for this Equity Shot, hit play, have fun, and we are back Friday morning unless something else happens, like a Palantir S-1.

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

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

Here's what we talked about today:

Headlines: SAP is spinning out part of Qualtrics, Dave leaked customer data, Asian markets were mixed while US shared opened green. Cryptos and gold are up at the same time, marking the moment as a melt-up. The Qualtrics news was the loudest note from the weekend's jam, coming a few years after SAP bought the Utah-based tech giant. SAP will retain a majority stake even after the debut, but the plan should give Qualtrics more freedom, and SAP a better valuation for the piece of the smaller company that it retains. That's if the spin-out goes well, of course. Dave's leak looks bad, and will test what happens to more nascent fintech properties when they endure this sort of breach. Looking ahead, this is a huge earnings week. We'll see results from Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, and others. And, finally, rounds from StashAway, cargo.one, and Blueheart.

Closing, we're in exciting territory on the public markets given that high share prices are giving big companies more ammunition than ever. Let's see what they can get done with it before the window closes.

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Up top the crew this week was the regular contingent: Danny Crichton, Natasha Mascarenhas, and myself. As a tiny programming note, we're going back to posting some videos on YouTube in a few weeks, so make sure to peep the TechCrunch channel if that's your jam. And we did a special episode on the SPAC boom, if you are into financial arcana. For more on SPAC's --> here

The Equity crew tried something new this week, namely centering our main conversation around a theme that we're keeping tabs on: The resilience of tech during the current pandemic-led recession.

Starting with the recent economic news, it's surprising that tech's layoffs have slowed to a crawl. And, as we've recently seen, there's still plenty of money flowing into startups, even if there are some dips present on a year-over-year basis. Why are things still pretty good for startups, and pretty good for major tech companies? We have a few ideas, like the acceleration of the digital transformation (more here, and here), and software eating the world. The latter concept, of course, is related to the former.

After that it was time to go through some neat funding rounds from the week, including:

Dumpling raising $6.5 million to help individual shoppers build their own Instacart; Kibbo's shot at making the #vanlife happen for more folks, something that we think is a good fit for the pandemic and the mobile professional. Sora's $5.3 million raise for no-code HR connective tissue, something that I was rather bullish on but drew some chat about no-code itself, and if the trend is more hype than substance.

All that and I have a newsletter launching this weekend that if you read, you will automatically be 100% cooler. It's called the TechCrunch Exchange, and you can snag it for free here.

Hello everyone, it's a busy week with TechCrunch Early Stage underway and a slew of tech earnings to parse through. But that didn't stop the Equity crew from sitting down to chat about the recent wave of SPAC commentary

Danny and I wanted to talk about what a SPAC is -- the acronym stands for special purpose acquisition company -- and why everyone seems to be chatting them up.

Why do you care? Here's some context, in simple bullet-point format:

Yesterday, after raising its IPO price range, Jamf priced at $26 per share, selling more shares than it had previously anticipated. Today it opened trading around $48, and is currently worth $40.18 per share, far above its IPO price. Recent first-day gains, like Jamf's own, have peeved elements of the venture classes who think that the gap between an IPO price and where a company first trades is money that Wall Street bankers, and the IPO process itself, have stolen.

Enter SPACs, which could offer a way for unicorns and other venture-backed companies to go public through a different pricing mechanism. If that alternative method of pricing the company would be better is not clear, but we tried to talk it through.

Equity is back Friday morning, of course. And please bear in mind that when I referred to "Robinhood dipshits," I was talking about all retail investors as a cohort, not merely the folks at any one particular trading platform. Thanks to the in-market prestige of Robinhood, however, I did use it as short-hand for retail investors more broadly.

Oh, and follow the show on Twitter.

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

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds, and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

Got all that? Great, let's talk about what we went over today:

Chinese stocks were up, Ant is going public in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, and eBay is looking to offload its classified-ads unit for $8 billion. The efforts to make TikTok appear apolitical are struggling after its parent company does something very political. Xpeng, a Chinese EV company, added $500 million to its Series C round. Coming up: TechCrunch Early Stage, which is going to rule, and a host of earnings results from companies like Microsoft, Snap, Intel, among others. Funding rounds from Vestr, Mori, Soterea, and Burn To Give. More notes on the Vestr round here, Mori here, Soterea here, and Burn To Give here.

And we closed the show with a short thought-bubble on manias. What constitutes a bubble? I don't know precisely, but the electric car (EV) industry has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs. China's EV market has see its booms and busts, with the IPO of Nio operating as a good example of enthusiasm (its IPO), declining faith (its later cratering share price), and the rebirth of optimism (its recent return-to-form) in its industry.

Xpeng's huge new Series C+ round and the huge valuation that Tesla has managed as a public company in recent months add currency to the idea that the EV market has once again swung towards too much optimism. We'll see.

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

This week was full of news of all sorts, but as we recorded both Danny and Natasha were still locked out of their Twitter accounts after a proletariat revolution on the social platform saw the ruling Blue Checkmark Class forced into silence. That's not really what happened, but it sounds better than actually went down at Big Social.

Anyway, Twitter accounts or not, the three of us gathered to parse through a wave of news:

The new TechCrunch List that Danny spent a very long time compiling has arrived! It's live! You can find it here. It is good. And, if you want to know which VCs were even more fêted by founders, head here. (If you are irked that you did not make either list, please email Danny, not the show!) Moving on, Google is putting billions into Reliance Jio after every other company in the world did the same. Google is buying a bit less of the Indian telecom than the search giant, but between the two of them it's been more than $10 billion in dealmaking. Perhaps Reliance Jio is done raising money? At last? Udemy is hunting up more capital at a higher valuation, reports say, providing Natasha with the perfect moment to let us know what is going with edtech. Turning to funding rounds, I was hype about the Macro round that TechCrunch covered this week, Danny wanted to chat about The Browser Company's similarly-sized $5 million round, and Natasha talked us through LiteBoxer's combined $6 million in new capital. Closing, we talked about IPOs for a hot second. The IPO window is open, and now that nCino and GoHealth have gone public, we want to know who is next.

It was a lovely time and there is a bit of show news. Namely that Equity is coming back to YouTube either this week or the next. So if you want to see us talk, soon you will be able to! Again!

Oh, and follow the show on Twitter. If you can, that is.

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

This is Equity Monday, our week-starting primer in which we go over the latest news, dig into the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds and dive into the latest big news from the startup world. (You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, if you are so inclined! Don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode as well. All the cool kids are doing it.)

Some weekends are slow. This weekend was not. Here's the round-up of news that we had to talk about:

Qualcomm pours capital into India's Reliance Jio, which has now raised $15.7 billion in the past three months. Google intends to invest $10 billion into India over the next five to seven years, looking to put capital to work in through a mix of "a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments" via a new "Google for India Digitization Fund." And, Google has education plans in India. India! It's a big deal! WeWork might turn cash flow positive in 2021. That's still a ways from now, but it does go to show that deep under the flesh of whatever WeWork claimed to be during its 2019 IPO process, there was a real company somewhere in its bones. How large a company is not clear. UIPath raised $225 million in a Series E that values it at over $10 billion. The company's ARR has quadrupled to $400 million in the past few years. Finally, US tech's response to the Hong Kong "security" law that isn't.

Up ahead we have a fascinating earnings season, one that the media doesn't expect to go very well. Stocks were up as we wrote the show, so it appears that Wall Street is more bullish than worried. We'll see. Netflix reports later this week. Then, next week, we really get underway with Snap, IBM, Microsoft, and others.

We also touched on three funding rounds: More money for cancer-focusedAI startup Paige, $6.3 million for FitXR to keep working on its fitness VR work, and this small round from Russia, which reminded us that you can build a startup even in a failing democracy.

https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/10/what-do-investors-bidding-up-tech-shares-know-that-the-rest-of-us-dont/

Wrapping, this earnings season is a big deal. Lots of tech investors are betting that an accelerated digital transformation is going to push most tech shops into a growth curve that makes their equity attractive, even at elevated prices. Quite a lot of capital has been sunk in this idea. We'll see what happens when the numbers come in.