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March 21, 2019
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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

African e-commerce startup Jumia files for IPO on NYSE

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Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange today, per SEC documents and confirmation from CEO Sacha Poignonnec to TechCrunch.

The valuation, share price and timeline for public stock sales will be determined over the coming weeks for the Nigeria-headquartered company.

With a smooth filing process, Jumia will become the first African tech startup to list on a major global exchange.

Poignonnec would not pinpoint a date for the actual IPO, but noted the minimum SEC timeline for beginning sales activities (such as road shows) is 15 days after submitting first documents. Lead adviser on the listing is Morgan Stanley .

There have been numerous press reports on an anticipated Jumia IPO, but none of them confirmed by Jumia execs or an actual SEC, S-1 filing until today.

Jumia’s move to go public comes as several notable consumer digital sales startups have faltered in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation, largest economy and unofficial bellwether for e-commerce startup development on the continent. Konga.com, an early Jumia competitor in the race to wire African online retail, was sold in a distressed acquisition in 2018.

With the imminent IPO capital, Jumia will double down on its current strategy and regional focus.

“You’ll see in the prospectus that last year Jumia had 4 million consumers in countries that cover the vast majority of Africa. We’re really focused on growing our existing business, leadership position, number of sellers and consumer adoption in those markets,” Poignonnec said.

The pending IPO creates another milestone for Jumia. The venture became the first African startup unicorn in 2016, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a $326 funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries, spanning Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Egypt. Goods and services lines include Jumia Food (an online takeout service), Jumia Flights (for travel bookings) and Jumia Deals (for classifieds). Jumia processed more than 13 million packages in 2018, according to company data.

Starting in Nigeria, the company created many of the components for its digital sales operations. This includes its JumiaPay payment platform and a delivery service of trucks and motorbikes that have become ubiquitous with the Lagos landscape.

Jumia has also opened itself up to traders and SMEs by allowing local merchants to harness Jumia to sell online. “There are over 81,000 active sellers on our platform. There’s a dedicated sellers page where they can sign-up and have access to our payment and delivery network, data, and analytic services,” Jumia Nigeria CEO Juliet Anammah told TechCrunch.

The most popular goods on Jumia’s shopping mall site include smartphones (priced in the $80 to $100 range), washing machines, fashion items, women’s hair care products and 32-inch TVs, according to Anammah.

E-commerce ventures, particularly in Nigeria, have captured the attention of VC investors looking to tap into Africa’s growing consumer markets. McKinsey & Company projects consumer spending on the continent to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, with African e-commerce accounting for up to 10 percent of retail sales.

Jumia has not yet turned a profit, but a snapshot of the company’s performance from shareholder Rocket Internet’s latest annual report shows an improving revenue profile. The company generated €93.8 million in revenues in 2017, up 11 percent from 2016, though its losses widened (with a negative EBITDA of €120 million). Rocket Internet is set to release full 2018 results (with updated Jumia figures) April 4, 2019.

Jumia’s move to list on the NYSE comes during an up and down period for B2C digital commerce in Nigeria. The distressed acquisition of Konga.com, backed by roughly $100 million in VC, created losses for investors, such as South African media, internet and investment company Naspers .

In late 2018, Nigerian online sales platform DealDey shut down. And TechCrunch reported this week that consumer-focused venture Gloo.ng has dropped B2C e-commerce altogether to pivot to e-procurement. The CEO cited better unit economics from B2B sales.

As demonstrated in other global startup markets, consumer-focused online retail can be a game of capital attrition to outpace competitors and reach critical mass before turning a profit. With its unicorn status and pending windfall from an NYSE listing, Jumia could be better positioned than any venture to win on e-commerce at scale in Africa.

News Source = techcrunch.com

The $35,000 Tesla Model 3 has arrived — but it comes with a price

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The long-awaited $35,000 Tesla Model 3 has finally arrived, three years after CEO Elon Musk promised to bring the electric vehicle to market at that price point. But that cheaper Model 3 comes with a dramatic shift for Tesla.

Tesla said that to achieve this lower price it will shift all sales globally to online only, meaning the company will be closing many of its stores over the next few months. The stores that remain, in high-traffic locations, will be turned into information centers, Musk said on a call with reporters. There will be some layoffs as a result. Musk later said they would be hiring more service technicians.

“Shifting all sales online, combined with other ongoing cost efficiencies, will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected,” the company wrote in a post.

Tesla announced Thursday that the $35,000 version will have a 220 miles of range and be able to reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour. 

The company also said it’s introducing a Model 3 Standard Range Plus version, which offers 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140 mph, and 0-60mph acceleration of 5.3 seconds as well as most premium interior features at $37,000 before incentives.

“I’m excited to finally meet this goal, which has been insanely difficult,” Musk said on a call with reporters.

Tesla will continue to offer its mid range, long range all-wheel drive, and Model 3 Performance vehicles in the U.S. The company is also bringing back its original Model 3 long range rear-wheel drive vehicle in the U.S. All Model 3 come standard with a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection, auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirror, and driver profiles via the center screen.

Just hours before the announcement, the “order” webpages for the Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicle redirected to show message that read “The wait is almost over.” Below the main message, it read “Great things are launching at 2 pm.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Feb. 27 “Some Tesla news,” followed by equally vague tweets “2 pm” and “California.”

The tweets had led to widespread speculation of what Musk would announce. Others argued that the teasing tweets were merely a tactic to distract investors and the media from his recent scuffle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission .

The SEC asked a judge Feb. 25 to hold Musk in contempt for violating the settlement agreement reached with the agency last year. The SEC argued that a tweet sent by Musk on February 19 violated their agreement. Musk is supposed to get approval from Tesla’s board before communicating potentially material information to investors.

A U.S. judge issued an order Feb. 26 that gives Musk until March 11 to explain why he should not be held in contempt for violating a settlement agreement with the SEC.

This is a developing story.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Meet the tiny startup that helped build Amazon’s Scout robot

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When Amazon unveiled a six-wheeled urban delivery robot called Scout a couple of weeks ago, its website was pretty definitive about who was behind it.

“These devices were created by Amazon,” the page reads. “We developed Amazon Scout at our research and development lab in Seattle.”

But that is only part of the story, TechCrunch has discovered. Some of the intellectual property and technology behind Scout likely came from farther afield a small San Francisco startup called Dispatch that Amazon stealthily acquired in 2017.

Although the Dispatch.AI website is still active, and press reports have even called its robot a rival to Scout, the talent behind Dispatch has actually been working for Amazon for well over a year.

Back in 2014, Estonian start-up Starship Technologies revealed a prototype urban delivery robot.  It caught the attention of three young engineers who were working together at a New York real estate visualization company. Stav Braun was a computer vision expert, Uriah Baalke an alumnus of legendary robotics lab Willow Garage, and Sonia Jin a computer scientist from MIT.

The trio realized that they had all the necessary skills to build a U.S. rival to Starship. In the spring of 2015, they incorporated Dispatch Inc., in the Californian seaside town of Marina.

Within six months, they had moved the company to South San Francisco and, with the help of mechatronics engineer Buddy Gardineer, built an electric semi-autonomous robot called Carry that could transport up to 100 pounds. Dispatch launched pilot programs on two college campuses in California — ideal environments to perfect their robot without having to navigate public rules and regulations.

Steven Weiner, president of Menlo College, told TechCrunch its pilot was “both utilitarian as well as engaging. The devices had something of a following on our campus — literally and otherwise.”

With successful tests behind it, the company secured a $2 million seed round in early 2016 from VCs at Andreessen Horowitz and Precursor Ventures. Dispatch grew to around 10 employees, and late that year, filed its first patent application. The company appeared to be on the verge of becoming a major player in robotic delivery.

Then in 2017 everything suddenly went quiet. Baalke made his last tweet in June, and the official Dispatch Twitter account fell silent at the start of August 2017. The Menlo College pilot finished, and the university has not had contact with Dispatch since.

The Dispatch website is still live, however, and none of the founders have updated their LinkedIn profiles.

Public records suggest that Amazon acquired the company around the same time. Dispatch’s sole patent was transferred to Amazon Technologies, Amazon’s R&D subsidiary, on November 22, 2017. Six days later, Braun surrendered Dispatch’s business registration in California. Amazon confirmed to TechCrunch that it did buy Dispatch, although it would not provide further details.

Dispatch’s founders and employees have kept a very low profile since then, although the available evidence points to them having moved with the company.

Braun registered to vote in Seattle last fall. Xiaodong Lan, a robotics engineer whose LinkedIn profile says he is still at Dispatch, is mentioned in the resume of his PhD mentor as now working as a research engineer at Amazon.

Amazon’s robot has superficial physical differences from Dispatch’s. Scout has six wheels to Carry’s four, and opens at the top instead of the side. But the vision, obstacle avoidance and navigation algorithms it requires for urban and suburban deployments will need to solve the very same problems such as uneven paving, curbs, street furniture, pedestrians and animals.

Amazon likely had many more people than just the Dispatch team working on Scout. The LinkedIn profile of one of Amazon’s scientists says the company has been working on relevant robotic perception, planning and localization (mapping) technologies since 2015. But two other profiles suggest that the Scout project only became a serious business, including buy-in from Jeff Bezos, around the time that Dispatch was acquired in 2017.

Amazon never announced the acquisition of Dispatch. The company’s big news that year was buying Whole Foods for $13.2 billion.

In its latest 10-K filing with the SEC, Amazon noted, “During 2017, we also acquired certain other companies for an aggregate purchase price of $204 million. The primary reason for our other 2017 acquisitions was to acquire technologies and know-how to enable Amazon to serve customers more effectively.” Among these were home automation, e-commerce and AI businesses.

Amazon continued its buying spree in 2018, spending nearly $2.2 billion on smart security camera firm Ring, online pharmacy PillPack, and $57 million on “certain other companies.” Whether these turn out to be robotics or transportation startups like Dispatch is something we might only learn when someone notices their founders have suddenly gone quiet, too.

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.


Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips, suggestions and more to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or @KateClarkTweets


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

5 unicorns that will probably go public in 2019 (besides Uber and Lyft)

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There’s been plenty of fanfare surrounding Uber and Lyft’s initial public offerings — slated for early 2019 — since the two companies filed confidential IPO paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in early December. On top of that, public and private investors have had plenty to say about Slack and Pinterest’s rumored 2019 IPOs but those aren’t the only “unicorn” exits we should expect to witness in the year ahead.

Using its proprietary company rating algorithm, data provider CB Insights ranked five billion dollar companies most likely to perform IPOs next year in its latest tech IPO report. The algorithm analyzes non-traditional public signals, including hiring activity, web traffic and mobile app data to make its predictions. These are the startups that topped their list.

 

Peloton

Peloton Co-Founder and CEO John Foley speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 on September 6, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch).

Peloton, dubbed the “Netflix of fitness,” has raised nearly $1 billion in venture capital funding in the six years since it was founded by John Foley, most recently raising $550 million at a $4 billion valuation. The manufacturer of tech-enabled exercise equipment is more than doubling in size every year and is “weirdly profitable,” an unusual characteristic for a venture-backed business of its age. Headquartered in New York, Peloton doesn’t have any public IPO plans, though Foley recently told The Wall Street Journal that 2019 “makes a lot of sense” for its stock market debut.

Select investors: L Catterton, True Ventures, Tiger Global

Cloudflare

Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince appears on stage at the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt Europe/London. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Cybersecurity unicorn Cloudflare is likely to transition to the public markets in the first half of 2019 in what is poised to be a strong year for IPOs in the security industry. The web performance and security platform is said to be preparing for an IPO at a potential valuation of more than $3.5 billion after last raising capital in 2015 at a $1.8 billion valuation. Since it was founded in 2009, the San Francisco-based company has raised just north of $250 million in VC funding. CrowdStrike, another security unicorn, is also on track to go public next year and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Illumio and Lookout make the jump to the public markets as well.

Select investors: Pelion Venture Partners, NEA, Venrock

Zoom

San Jose-based Zoom Video Communications has reportedly tapped Morgan Stanley to lead its upcoming IPO.

Zoom, a provider of video conferencing services, online meeting and group messaging tools that’s raised $160 million in VC cash to date, is eyeing a multi-billion IPO in 2019 and has reportedly hired Morgan Stanley to lead the offering. Founded in 2011, the company most recently brought in a $100 million Series D financing, entirely funded by Sequoia, at a $1 billion valuation in early 2017. Based in San Jose, Zoom is hoping to garner a valuation significantly larger than $1 billion when it IPOs, according to Reuters.

Select investors: Sequoia, Emergence Capital Partners, Horizons Ventures

Rubrik

Data management company Rubrik co-founder and CEO Bipul Sinha.

Data management company Rubrik has quietly made moves indicative of an impending IPO. The startup, which provides data backup and recovery services for businesses across cloud and on-premises environments, hired former Atlassian chief financial officer Murray Demo as its CFO earlier this year, as well as its first chief legal officer, Peter McGoff. Palo Alto-based Rubrik was valued at over of $1 billion with a $180 million funding round in 2017. The company has raised nearly $300 million to date.

Select investors: Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greylock, Khosla Ventures

Medallia

Medallia, a customer experience management platform that’s nearly two decades old, may finally become a public company in 2019. The San Mateo-based company, which has been rumored to be planning an IPO for several years, hired a new CEO this year and reported $250 million in GAAP revenue for the year ending Jan. 31, 2018, according to Forbes. Medallia hasn’t raised capital since 2015, when it secured a $150 million funding deal at a $1.2 billion valuation. It has raised a total of just over $250 million.

Select investor: Sequoia

News Source = techcrunch.com

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