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For What It’s Worth, Hot Recently Public Tech Companies Are Still Really Unprofitable

Today’s buzziest offerings in the recently public tech company sector are much more highly valued than cohorts that went public a couple years ago. But not only that  — they’re often losing more money relative to revenue, too.

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Here are some things to consider if you’re eyeing shares of a hot tech company that recently went public. Today’s buzziest offerings are much more highly valued than cohorts that went public a couple years ago. But not only that—they’re often losing more money relative to revenue, too.

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That’s one broad finding from our latest examination of reported losses at the mostly highly valued unicorns that have gone public since the latter half of 2020. Looking at trailing 12 months earnings for a sample of 12 venture-backed, recently public companies, including the most highly valued market entrants, three-fourths posted losses in excess of $100 million.1

Companies with the highest revenue also posted some of the largest losses, including Airbnb and DoorDash. We look at earnings and revenue of all 12 companies in the chart below:

We last looked at losses of hot newly public companies in May 2019, after a closely watched group of tech darlings — including Uber, Pinterest and Lyft — had hit markets with a mix of heady growth and copious red ink. In that IPO sample, just over half had losses of $100 million or more in the calendar year before going public. Uber led the pack with a $3 billion loss.

So, looking at the past few years overall, revenue and loss trends are pretty constant. Yes, valuations are up, but big losses are still typical.

The idea that investors should shun a company because it’s unprofitable, of course, is a nonstarter in tech IPO land. The vast majority of tech companies tapping public markets post both high growth rates and persistent losses. Scaling costs money, and both public and private investors are pretty comfortable watching favored companies post losses en route to becoming dominant players in their respective markets.

But losses still say something about a company’s expected trajectory. And everyone’s losses are a little different, driven by a mix of fixed expenses and business decisions around marketing spend, margins, and how aggressively to set prices in the interest of gaining market share.

Some losses are easier to write off as a cost of growth than others. Take BigCommerce, a provider of subscription software for e-commerce that went public in August. The Austin-based company had revenue of $109 million in the first nine months of 2020, and narrowed its net loss to $23 million, per securities filings. That’s not a bad number considering the company spent $52 million on sales and marketing over that period, and grew revenue roughly 25 percent year over year.

Then there’s Palantir. The company posted a loss of over a billion dollars in the first nine months of 2020, per SEC filings, more than double year-ago levels. While on the surface this looks bad, Palantir explains that it previously pursued multiyear upfront payments from customers. Thus, revenue was booked in an earlier year for work ostensibly done in a later year. Using a metric called “adjusted operating income,” Palantir says it earned $73 million in the third quarter.

Several companies also hit markets a little earlier than is typical for venture-backed companies, and it shows in their finances. Insurtech startup Lemonade, for instance, was a 5-year-old company when it went public in July. It’s growing fast, but still posting huge losses relative to sales.

So, do these kinds of losses matter for long-term investors? For what it’s worth, I’ve watched losses for a long time, and here is my take: The ability to lose money and sustain a high valuation is essentially a form of privilege extended to venture-backed companies in tech, biotech and other hot industries. These companies can continue to post losses so long as they’re growing and investors remain convinced that both the company itself and its target industry will deliver long-term upside.

This privilege can go away rather quickly when market sentiments turn. In the case of the dot-com crash and the 2008 financial crisis, for instance, companies that launched hot IPOs sometimes saw shares trading below cash value a few months later.

On the other hand, a company with a hot brand can lose money for quite a long time. Tesla, which went public in 2010, only posted its first full year of profitability last year. In its nine years as an unprofitable public company, it still ranked for years as the highest valuation automaker on U.S. exchanges. Amazon, which went public in 1997, didn’t post its first profitable year until 2003, but managed to remain a market favorite until then.

Privilege can be a loaded term, and I don’t intend to imply that money-losing companies are unworthy of investors’ confidence. Some will prove worthy over time, others not. But the point is, investors don’t allow just any company to keep losing money. McDonald’s or Coca-Cola can’t just declare they will forego profits in the name of growth. Investors count on steady earnings and dividends.

In short, losses paired with growing revenue might not matter much now, since investors themselves don’t seem to mind. But down the road they could start to matter, and that sentiment shift has a history of happening rather quickly.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/ipo-startups-revenue-profit-airbnb-snowflake-palantir-doordash/

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Robotics Startup ViaBot Sweeps Up $6.1M In Funding

San Franci

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San Francisco-based ViaBot publicly launched with a $6.1 million raise looking to help property and facility managers clean up — literally.

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Investors in the company include Baseline Ventures, Morado Ventures, Grit Ventures and SOSV.

While the company’s robots-as-a-service — or RAAS — offering for facility and property management deploys robots to sweep campuses clean, co-founder and CEO Gregg Ratanaphanyarat said one of the true value propositions of ViaBot is its robots’ multifunctionality.

“There’s often a thought that one robot can do one thing — robots are fine for a single function,” Ratanaphanyarat said. “However, it’s possible to make robots do more. The industry needs to start making robots more efficient.”

ViaBot’s new RUNO robots also offer vision-based security with the ability to view and scan things such as license plates of cars on a property. Ratanaphanyarat said the company likely will add other functions, such as more property maintenance features like landscaping, as it grows.

While the 20-person company does not release customer information, it has entered into a strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and started to deploy robots onto properties managed by the firm last year. While many of the robots are mainly deployed on properties in the Bay Area, the new funding will be used to meet customer demand to start using the new robots across the U.S., Ratanaphanyarat said.

Solving problems

ViaBot sees itself as sitting in the intersection of being able to disrupt a traditional market often slow to change and solving a labor shortage involving what is considered “dirty, dull and dangerous” outdoor work, said Kelly Coyne, founding partner at Grit Ventures.

“When you match the labor shortage with this long overdue moment (for change) in a traditional industry, you have a tremendous opportunity,” Coyne said.

ViaBot also provides a software platform that allows users to control the robot and file reports, as well as give them real-time information and visibility of the property. The platform also will allow the company to continue to add services to the robots.

The robots are available via a subscription, which makes it more likely to retain customers by easing their fears of maintaining a robot.

The company’s ability to broaden its services and remain sticky with customers, along with the interest ViaBot is seeing from current and potential customers, made the investment obvious, Coyne said.

“We are seeing intense demand for geographic expansion and demand for added services,” she added.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

“There’s often a thought that one robot can do one thing — robots are fine for a single function,” Ratanaphanyarat said. “However, it’s possible to make robots do more. The industry needs to start making robots more efficient.”

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/robotics-startup-viabot-sweeps-up-6-1m-in-funding/

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Exclusive: Spinwheel Banks $11M For Consumer Debt Management Platform

Spinwheel is trying to eliminate the financial shock of loan debt; starting with student loans.

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Tomas Campos and Tushar Vaish co-founded Spinwheel in 2019 after Campos saw how student loan debt was affecting his sister, who graduated from college over a decade ago, and his niece, who graduated in 2019.

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“When she graduated, we thought it was an awesome milestone, but she was distraught over how she would pay her student loan debt,” Campos told Crunchbase News. “My sister, who worked for the government, was rejected for student loan forgiveness and had to take all of her savings and put it toward the student debt. She had been saving for a house.”

It’s that financial shock that Spinwheel is trying to help people avoid. It secured $11 million in its first round of financing to enable Americans to get out of debt sooner by providing an application programming interface to embed loan management tools into the apps people use the most.

The funding was led by QED Investors with participation from Core Innovation Capital, Fika Ventures and Firebolt Ventures.

Arjan Schütte, founder and managing partner of Core Innovation Capital, said his firm invests in fintech companies and was particularly interested in student debt.

After looking at more than 100 apps in this space, Core formed a hypothesis that there needed to be a student loan debt payment-as-a-service. They found that in Spinwheel, he said.

“If you are just doing it directly you are not going to get traction, but if you build it into existing channels, such as banks, grocery store points or airline points, there will be more success,” Schütte added. “Financial services are complicated, and Tomas and Tushar have an extraordinary motive for getting up in the morning. We were moved by what we felt was an authentic story and reason to chip away at student debt.”

Spinwheel is starting with student loan debt, where the Federal Reserve estimates $1.7 trillion in U.S. student loan debt is owed. Students, on average, graduate with $29,000 of private and federal loan debt and default on their loans at a rate of 15 percent.

The new funding will go toward scaling the company’s product roadmap and doubling its team of six in the next six months. It will also enable the company to quickly expand to other debt categories, such as credit card, auto and mortgage, over the next 12 months, Campos said.

“We see ourselves as the modern API infrastructure to help Americans understand, manage and pay their debt,” he said. “We want to start on student debt with people and grow with them as they make big purchases throughout their lives.”

Its clients include loan service providers, employee benefits, points and cash-back providers, as well as fintechs and banks looking to add these tools to their tech stack. Clients are able to drop in Spinwheel’s low-code or no-code API and be up and running in under an hour.

Although there are a number of fintech startups addressing the student loan space, Campos believes Spinwheel’s differentiator is its holistic approach to the entire sector rather than focusing on one aspect, such as point solutions, payments or data.

“We have found pent-up demand in the market, especially because dealing with student loan data is the most complex part,” Campos added. “When we thought about use cases, we knew we needed to bring all of those together. Our approach is to provide data and insights and the payments in one integration.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-spinwheel-banks-11m-for-consumer-debt-management-tool/

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The Briefing: Ada Lands $130M, Anebulo Prices IPO, And More

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Ada raises $130M for chatbots

Toronto-based Ada, a provider of chat bots used in customer support, reportedly raised $130 million in a funding round led by Spark Capital.

Founded in 2014, Ada previously raised $60.6 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data. In 2020, the company says it automated more than 1.5 billion customer interactions for hundreds of global companies, including Zoom, Facebook and Square.

— Joanna Glasner

Public offerings

Anebulo prices IPO: Austin-based Anebulo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech developing treatments for cannabinoid overdose and substance addiction, announced that it raised $21 million by offering 3 million shares at $7, the midpoint of its projected range of $6 to $8.

— Joanna Glasner

Health care

Vori Health secures $45M: Vori Health, a San Francisco-based musculoskeletal condition treatment startup, raised $45 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates. The funding will be used to expand product, services and data offerings, as well as grow its clinical and support teams. Vori is the latest example of investment flowing into musculoskeletal. New York-based Kaia Health raised $75 million in Series C funding in April for its platform that provides real-time exercise feedback via a smartphone app to care for musculoskeletal, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoarthritis conditions.

Expressable inks $4.5M: Online children’s speech therapy practice Expressable, based in Austin, closed on a $4.5 million seed round co-led by Lerer Hippeau and NextView Ventures. The company’s platform combines one-on-one teletherapy with its proprietary education platform.

— Christine Hall

Fintech and e-commerce

Nøie lands $12M for skincare platform: Copenhagen-based Nøie, a customized skincare platform, raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Talis Capital.

— Joanna Glasner

DappRadar banks $5M: Lithuania-based DappRadar, a global app store for decentralized applications, also known as dapps, secured $5 million in a Series A funding led by Prosus Ventures, Blockchain.com Ventures and NordicNinja VC. DappRadar said it will invest the funds into technology development and to promote widespread dapp adoption.

Caplight inks $1.7M: Caplight, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2021, brought in a $1.7 million funding round led by Fin VC. The company’s platform enables institutional investors to buy and sell derivatives of private equity and close on transactions up to 85 percent faster than the average secondary-market deal, according to the company.

— Christine Hall

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Anebulo prices IPO: Austin-based Anebulo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech developing treatments for cannabinoid overdose and substance addiction, announced that it raised $21 million by offering 3 million shares at $7, the midpoint of its projected range of $6 to $8.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-5-7-21/

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