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January 18, 2019
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Indonesian e-commerce unicorn Bukalapak raises $50M

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The chances are you may be familiar with Tokopedia, especially after it commanded a $7 billion valuation last November when it raised $1.1 billion from investors like Alibaba and SoftBank’s Vision Fund, but fewer people outside of Indonesia are aware of another sizable local online retail unicorn: Bukalapak.

Smaller than Tokopedia in size, the company is valued at $1 billion — it became Indonesia’s fourth unicorn one year ago. The country, which is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and has a population of over 260 million, also counts Tokopedia, Go-Jek and Traveloka in the billion-dollar club.

Founded in 2010, Bukalapak claims an impressive two million orders per day and 50 million registered users. On the seller side, it said its core e-commerce business covers products from four million SMEs, 500,000 kiosk vendors and 700,000 ‘independent’ micro-businesses in Indonesia. Bukalapak means ‘open a stall’ in Indonesia’s Bahasa language, and anyone can open a shopfront on the platform.

This week, Bukalapak landed another notable funding milestone after it raised $50 million Series D round from the Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, a joint vehicle operated by Korean mutual fund Mirae Asset and Naver, the firm whose businesses include popular messaging service Line. This is the first time Bukalapak has disclosed the size of an investment in its business, although it did not give an updated valuation. The startup counts Alibaba’s Ant Financial, Indonesia telco Emtek, Sequoia India and Singaporean sovereign fund GIC among its existing backers.

Bukalapak is one of Indonesia’s leading online commerce platforms with four million registered users, a claimed two million daily transactions and a valuation of more than $1 billion

Bukalapak said it plans to use its new funds to grow opportunities for its SME retail partners and build out its tech platform, that’s likely to mean digital services such as insurance and a mobile wallet.

The company made a major push last year to partner with local ‘warung’ kiosk store retailers — who sell items much like street vendors — in a bit to differentiate itself from Tokopedia, which is much like Alibaba’s Taobao service for Indonesia, and develop an offering for consumers.

Beyond its e-commerce marketplace, Bukalapak also offers streaming and fintech products.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Startups Weekly: Will Trump ruin the unicorn IPOs of our dreams?

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The government shutdown entered its 21st day on Friday, upping concerns of potentially long-lasting impacts on the U.S. stock market. Private market investors around the country applauded when Uber finally filed documents with the SEC to go public. Others were giddy to hear Lyft, Pinterest, Postmates and Slack (via a direct listing, according to the latest reports) were likely to IPO in 2019, too.

Unfortunately, floats that seemed imminent may not actually surface until the second half of 2019 — that is unless President Donald Trump and other political leaders are able to reach an agreement on the federal budget ASAP.  This week, we explored the government’s shutdown’s connection to tech IPOs, recounted the demise of a well-funded AR project and introduced readers to an AI-enabled self-checkout shopping cart.

1. Postmates gets pre-IPO cash

The company, an early entrant to the billion-dollar food delivery wars, raised what will likely be its last round of private capital. The $100 million cash infusion was led by BlackRock and valued Postmates at $1.85 billion, up from the $1.2 billion valuation it garnered with its unicorn round in 2018.

2. Uber’s IPO may not be as eye-popping as we expected

To be fair, I don’t think many of us really believed the ride-hailing giant could debut with a $120 billion initial market cap. And can speculate on Uber’s valuation for days (the latest reports estimate a $90 billion IPO), but ultimately Wall Street will determine just how high Uber will fly. For now, all we can do is sit and wait for the company to relinquish its S-1 to the masses.

3. Deal of the week

N26, a German fintech startup, raised $300 million in a round led by Insight Venture Partners at a $2.7 billion valuation. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet spoke with co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf about the company’s global investors, financials and what the future holds for N26.

4. On the market

Bird is in the process of raising an additional $300 million on a flat pre-money valuation of $2 billion. The e-scooter startup has already raised a ton of capital in a very short time and a fresh financing would come at a time when many investors are losing faith in scooter startups’ claims to be the solution to the problem of last-mile transportation, as companies in the space display poor unit economics, faulty batteries and a general air of undependability. Plus, Aurora, the developer of a full-stack self-driving software system for automobile manufacturers, is raising at least $500 million in equity funding at more than a $2 billion valuation in a round expected to be led by new investor Sequoia Capital.


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5. A unicorn’s deal downsizes

WeWork, a co-working giant backed with billions, had planned on securing a $16 billion investment from existing backer SoftBank . Well, that’s not exactly what happened. And, oh yeah, they rebranded.

6. A startup collapses

After 20 long years, augmented reality glasses pioneer ODG has been left with just a skeleton crew after acquisition deals from Facebook and Magic Leap fell through. Here’s a story of a startup with $58 million in venture capital backing that failed to deliver on its promises.

7. Data point

Seed activity for U.S. startups has declined for the fourth straight year, as median deal sizes increased at every stage of venture capital.

8. Meanwhile, in startup land…

This week edtech startup Emeritus, a U.S.-Indian company that partners with universities to offer digital courses, landed a $40 million Series C round led by Sequoia India. Badi, which uses an algorithm to help millennials find roommates, brought in a $30 million Series B led by Goodwater Capital. And Mr Jeff, an on-demand laundry service startup, bagged a $12 million Series A.

9. Finally, Meet Caper, the AI self-checkout shopping cart

The startup, which makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, has revealed a total of $3 million, including a $2.15 million seed round led by First Round Capital .

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News Source = techcrunch.com

WeWork rebranding won’t work

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The company formerly known as WeWork has rebranded as the We Company — although a better name for its network of on-demand office spaces for the newly incorporated and nominally employed; co-living spaces for the same Easyjet-set; and educational and coding services could be “House of Cards”.

News of the rebranding (first reported via Fast Company) comes on the heels of reports that the company would no longer be receiving a planned $16 billion golden parachute to escape a soon-to-be-sinking real estate market investment from longtime backer Masayoshi Son’s Softbank and his Softbank Vision Fund.

WeWork, which lost $1.2 billion over the first three quarters of 2018 according to an FT report, is rebranding to shift attention from its real estate play to a broader blend of living and educational services that now comprise the three pillars of its business (to be clear, the largest pillar is its real estate properties).

The knock against the company has always been that it was a real estate investment masquerading as a tech company (a case which the FT made magisterially last year).

In the blog post, WeWork chief executive Adam Neumann laid out the company’s new strategy which divides the company into three different business lines, WeWork (real estate), WeLive (its co-living spaces) and WeGrow (for education).

For the We Company to succeed a few things need to happen. Revenue needs to rebalance to the WeLive and WeGrow businesses quickly and it needs to grow its services even more aggressively. And the result of each needs to be actual profitability.

There aren’t a lot of really hard metrics to gauge the company’s current performance on. But the good people at Bloomberg did uncover actual financial data on the company’s debt, which is underperforming compared to industry benchmarks.

Neumann said that the original vision of the company was an all encompassing network of offerings that would help customers, bank, shop, live, and play. That’s a mighty goal worthy of a Vision Fund, but its vision may turn out to be a fever dream if the indicators are right and the worldwide slide into recession finally happens.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Uber’s IPO may not be as eye-popping as we expected

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Uber is expected to raise $10 billion later this year in one of the largest U.S. initial public offerings in history. The float will value the ride-hailing giant somewhere between $76 billion — the valuation it garnered with its last private financing — and $120 billion — a sky-high figure assigned by Wall Street bankers that’s had even early Uber investors scratching their heads.

A new report from The Information pegs Uber’s initial market cap at $90 billion. To develop the estimate, the site analyzed undisclosed documents Uber provided creditors in 2017 “in which the company projected it would double net revenue to $14.2 billion by 2019,” ran revenue multiples and compared Uber to GrubHub, which investors say is the business’s closest comparison.

Uber declined to comment on The Information’s analysis.

How we got here

Uber confidentially filed for its long-awaited IPO last month, marking the beginning of a race to the stock markets between it and U.S. competitor Lyft, which filed just hours before, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick, Uber has brought in about $20 billion in a combination of debt and equity funding. It counts SoftBank as its largest shareholder in a cap table that also lists Toyota, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, TPG Growth and many more. As for the skepticism surrounding Uber’s lofty $120 billion valuation, the eye-popping figure seems unachievable considering the company isn’t profitable and has and continues to burn through cash.

An IPO that large would certainly make its investors happy. First Round Capital, for example, seeded Uber with $1.6 million in the company’s first two funding rounds in 2010 and 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal. At a $120 billion valuation, First Round’s shares would be worth some $5 billion. The venture capital firm, however, sold some of its shares to SoftBank alongside Benchmark, which itself would otherwise own shares worth about $14 billion.

Bradley Tusk, an early Uber investor who signed on to help the company surmount political and regulatory barriers in 2011, own shares said to be worth $100 million, though he too gave up 42 percent of his equity in a secondary sale to SoftBank, he recently told TechCrunch.

I’m quite happy with the 120 number,” Tusk said. “But … I am a little surprised by [it], it does seem to be a really aggressive number.”

“Any investment in Uber is obviously a long-term bet on the future, like someone who invested in Amazon in the early days,” Tusk added. “One thing [Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi] is doing well is really expanding Uber into a mobility company as opposed to just a ride-hailing company.”

Dara Kowsrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber, looks on following an event in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A long-term bet on the future

Uber has opted to go public in a year poised to see the most high-flying unicorn IPOs in history. As we’ve reported in great detail on this site, both Lyft and Uber are planning to float, as are Slack and Pinterest . Many of these companies, however, made the call to make their public markets debut before the stock market took a quick turn south. Poor performing stocks may discourage unicorns from emerging from their cozy VC-protected stalls.

Uber will garner increased scrutiny from Wall Street investors as they begin to parse out its true value. Fortunately the company, which like Amazon has long prioritized growth over profit, has “’clear levers’ it could pull in order to turn on the cash spigots if it wanted to, by reducing its marketing spending both in the U.S. and developing markets and by finding partners to help finance its self-driving car development,” according to The Information. “Pulling those levers would slow revenue growth by a third—from a 33% growth in net revenue to 22 percent growth in net revenue in 2019 [but] it would save Uber $2 billion annually.”

In its third quarter 2018 financial results, Uber posted a net loss of $939 million on a pro forma basis and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $527 million, up about 21 percent quarter-over-quarter. Revenue for Q3 was up five percent QoQ at $2.95 billion and up 38 percent year-over-year.

“We had another strong quarter for a business of our size and global scope,” Uber chief financial officer Nelson Chai said in a statement. “As we look ahead to an IPO and beyond, we are investing in future growth across our platform, including in food, freight, electric bikes and scooters, and high-potential markets in India and the Middle East where we continue to solidify our leadership position.”

We can speculate on Uber’s valuation for days but ultimately Wall Street will determine just how high Uber will go. For now, all we can do is sit and wait for the company to relinquish its S-1 to the masses.

News Source = techcrunch.com

As Bitcoin sinks, industry startups are forced to cut back

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Around this time last year, the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $20,000. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts everywhere boasted about the wealth 2018 would bring, initial coin offerings exploded and startups continued to pull in record amounts of venture capital. Fast-forward one year: Bitcoin is down 75 percent to a meager $3,700, sinking as quickly as its meteoric rise, and industry startups are paying the price.

The latest victim is Bitmain, a provider of bitcoin mining hardware that very recently submitted its IPO prospectus to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. The company confirmed to CoinDesk this week that cutbacks would begin imminently: “There has been some adjustment to our staff this year as we continue to build a long-term, sustainable and scalable business,” a spokesperson for Bitmain told CoinDesk . “A part of that is having to really focus on things that are core to that mission and not things that are auxiliary.”

Beijing-based Bitmain hasn’t clarified just how many of its employees will be impacted, though rumors — which Bitmain has since denied — on Maimai, a Chinese LinkedIn-like platform, suggest as many as 50 percent of the company’s headcount could be laid off. This news comes after the crypto mining giant confirmed it had shuttered its Israeli development center, Bitmaintech Israel, laying off 23 employees in the process.

Bitmain employs at least 2,000 people, up from 250 in 2016, according to PitchBook, as the company’s growth has skyrocketed.

The decreasing value of Bitcoin.

“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” Bitmaintech Israel head Gadi Glikberg reportedly told his employees at the time of the layoffs.

Bitmain has raised more than $800 million in venture capital funding from Sequoia, Coatue Management, SoftBank and more. At a valuation of $12 billion, it quickly soared to become the most valuable crypto startup in the world, surpassing Coinbase, which itself garnered an $8 billion valuation this fall.

In its IPO filing, Bitmain reported more than $2.5 billion in revenue last year, up nearly 10x on the $278 million it claimed for 2016. As for the first half of 2018, Bitmain said it surpassed $2.8 billion in revenue. These are astonishing numbers, yes, but whether Bitmain can sustain this kind of momentum has been called into question, especially as it gears up to go public in what would be the largest crypto-related IPO to date. The crypto market, by nature, is unpredictable — a characteristic that’s less than favorable to public market investors.

Startups sacrifice staff

Meanwhile, Huobi Group, a crypto trading platform also headquartered in Beijing, is laying off a portion of its 1,000 employees, too, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

Huobi, which is backed by Sequoia and ZhenFund, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moreover, Brooklyn-based ConsenSys earlier this month confirmed it was laying off 13 percent of its 1,200-person staff. The company, active in the crypto ecosystem, incubates and invests in decentralized applications built on the Ethereum blockchain.

“Excited as we are about ConsenSys 2.0, our first step in this direction has been a difficult one: we are streamlining several parts of the business including ConsenSys Solutions, spokes, and hub services, leading to a 13% reduction of mesh members,” ConsenSys founder and crypto billionaire Joseph Lubin wrote in a letter to employees regarding the layoffs.

Finally, Steemit, a distributed app designed to reward content creators, laid off 70 percent of its staff just days earlier, citing poor market conditions.

“We still believe that Steem can be by far the best, and lowest cost, blockchain protocol for applications and that the improvements that will result from this new direction will make it far better for application sustainability,” founder and chief executive officer Ned Scott wrote in a statement. “However, in order to ensure that we can continue to improve Steem, we need to first get costs under control to remain economically sustainable. There’s nothing that I want more now than to survive, to keep steemit.com operating, and keep the mission alive, to make great communities.”

Downsizing following periods of rapid growth — which many crypto startups experienced during the Bitcoin boom — is only natural, but can these businesses continue to endure periods of extreme volatility without crashing completely? One thing is certain: If the price of Bitcoin sinks further and further, “staff adjustments” at crypto startups large and small will be unavoidable.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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