el producto #246 🚀
Gorillas, Airwallex and Truelayer funding, New Kindle readers, New Facebook Portal, Netflix launches VR title, Choosing a North Star metric, Live-stream shopping & more
🎰 The week in figures
$1B: Customer engagement and IT management company Freshworks closes up 32% in its Nasdaq debut after pricing shares at $36 to raise $1B+ at a $10.1B valuation; trading closed at $47.55, valuing the company at $15.3B; Freshworks generated $168.9M in revenue during the first 6 months of this year, up from $110.5M for the year-earlier period
$1B: Online document platform PandaDoc raises an undisclosed Series C at a $1B valuation; investors valued the firm at $255M last summer; the platform supports e-signatures, version control, approval workflows, more
$950M: Grocery delivery firm Gorillas raises $950M at a $3B valuation; fellow German delivery company Delivery Hero led the round; Gorillas recently began bike and scooter deliveries in New York City, and will use the funding for expansion in the US and Europe
$680M: Sorare, a platform for trading collectible soccer player cards as NFTs, raises $680M Series B at a $4.3B valuation; users collect cards to build fantasy league teams; the Parisian startup claims $150M in card sales this year and claims 600k total registered users
$870M: Restaurant software firm Toast closes up 56% in its NYSE debut after pricing shares at $40 each to raise $870M at a $20B valuation; trading closed at $62.51, leaving the company with a ~$31B market cap; the Boston firm, which offers point-of-sale solutions, restaurant management tools, and more, generated $823.1M in revenue last year and $424.7M in Q2 this year
$555M: Mirakl, which enables B2C and B2B firms to launch marketplaces within their online stores, raises $555M Series E for a $3.5B post-money valuation; the Parisian company powers 300+ marketplaces; customers include Best Buy and Kroger
$450M: Used vehicle marketplace Cars24 raises $450M Series F for a $1.84B post-money valuation; $110M of the raise was debt; the Indian firm currently serves India, Australia, and the UAE, and plans to use the funding for expansion; claims 13M monthly visitors and 400k sales to date
$431M: Genesis Digital Assets, an industrial-scale crypto-mining operator, raises $431M; the London-based company is focusing on clean energy and plans to expand its operations in North America and the Nordic region; the firm expects to have 1.4 gigawatts of mining power online by 2023
$300M: Cross-border payment platform Remitly saw its stock close up 13% for a $7.8B valuation. The company’s Nasdaq IPO saw it raise a relatively modest $300M after pricing 7 million shares above its range at $43
$250M: NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs has raised $250M. The investment will give the NFT platform a post-money valuation of $7.6B
$209M: Luxury pre-owned fashion marketplace Vestiaire Collective raises $209M at a $1.7B valuation; the Parisian company says sales in the US, the firm's biggest market, have doubled over the past year; Vestiaire Collective plans sustainability initiatives, such as promoting local transactions
$200M: Airwallex, which provides business banking services, raises $200M Series E at a $4B valuation; the Australian company plans to focus expansion efforts on the UK and other European markets as well as the US; founded in 2014, Airwallex has raised $700M to date
$200M: The creator of the blockchain-based Twitter-like social media platform BitClout has launched a decentralized social blockchain (DeSo) with $200M in funding from a16z, Sequoia, Social Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and others. The founder also revealed his identity, which was previously the pseudonym Diamondhands, as Nader Al-Naji
$150M: FLYR Labs, which forecasts airline demand to price tickets, closes $150M Series C; the company's Cirrus Revenue Operating System uses AI and deep learning to outperform legacy methods of forecasting and lift revenue; the company prices tickets representing $14B in airline revenue each year, and expects to reach $100M by the end of 2023
$130M: TrueLayer, which enables developers to link their apps to users' bank accounts, raises $130M at a $1B+ valuation; the firm offers APIs for payments, payouts, refunds, and more; the London-based company targets clients in gaming, wealth management, crypto, and other spaces; customers include Revolut and Coupay
$130M: Saviynt, which helps enterprises protect their apps from user account breaches, raises $130M; the platform provides zero-trust identity verification and tools for managing data access; customers include BP, MassMutual, and Toyota
$125M: Customer engagement platform Unifonic raises $125M Series B led, representing SoftBank's first investment in a Saudi Arabian startup; the platform integrates with popular messaging and social apps and offers SMS automation and text-to-speech for spoken phone contact
$100M: Augmented reality glasses company Nreal raises $100M Series C at a reported $700M valuation; the Beijing-based firm currently sells its smartphone-powered flagship product Nreal Light in Japan, South Korea, and Spain, and expects to launch in China and the US next year; the company plans to unveil a new hardware product next week
$100M: Live stream management platform StreamElements raises $100M Series B; the platform includes a tipping system and offers turnkey merchandise sales; it also features a chat system with spam protection and a customizable bot; StreamElements also provides overlays compatible with multiple streaming sites
$80M: Ocrolus, which helps lenders to automate borrower document processes, raises $80M Series C at a $500M+ valuation; the platform analyzes and digitizes photo IDs, banks statements, pay stubs, etc; the New York City-based startup claimed $1M ARR in Q1 2018, and $20M in Q2 2021
$67M: Tradesy, a p2p marketplace for luxury fashion products, raises $67M Series D; many users buy an item on Tradesy, use it for a brief period, then resell it on Tradesy, cycling their fashion; the company claims an average order value of $85, but lists items priced in the thousands
$50M: Livestream commerce startup NTWRK raises $50M; the platform features daily shoppable episodes, live events with interactive panels and musical performances, exclusive product drops, drawings for chances to purchase rare items, more
$20M: Health insurance platform Alan acquires Jour, a guided journaling app focused on mindfulness and mental health, for $20M; Paris-based Alan said Jour would serve as the foundation for cognitive-behavioral health service Alan Mind, which the company will sell to businesses to offer their employees; Brooklyn-based Jour will continue to offer its consumer app in the App Store
📰 What’s going on
Amazon's plan to launch department stores includes tech-enabled dressing rooms; the company reportedly might enable customers to scan QR codes on clothing items of interest so a store associate can deliver them to a dressing room; the dressing room reportedly could feature a touch screen for ordering additional items and might provide product recommendations
Amazon announces three new Kindle e-readers: the new $140 Paperwhite, the $160 Paperwhite Kids Edition, and the $190 Paperwhite Signature Edition; all three feature a 6.8-inch display and promise up to 10 weeks of life per charge; the Kids Edition adds one year of Amazon Kids+, a child-friendly cover, and a two-year replacement guarantee; the Signature Edition boosts the storage from 8GB to 32GB
Amazon announces an in-person hardware event, with no livestream, on Sept 28 at noon ET; the company did not disclose details, but said it would unveil new devices, features, and services; last year Amazon announced new Echo speakers, new Fire TV products, the Luna game-streaming service, more
Revolut to launch commission-free retail stock trading in the US, with fractional investing and automated investing via purchase round-ups from Revolut's debit card; the London-based firm, valued at $33B in June, has 16M+ customers
Microsoft announces the Surface Laptop Studio (replacing the Surface Book 3), the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Pro X, the Surface Go 3, the Surface Duo 2 (the dual-display Android device now features notifications on the hinge), and multiple accessories; the company's new Surface Adaptive Kit includes a suite of accessibility add-ons
Facebook announces two new Portal devices: the $350 redesigned Portal+ and the first portable gadget in the lineup, the $200 Portal Go; the Go comes with a charging dock and features a handle; both models include Facebook's Smart Camera tech, which automatically pans and zooms to keep a user in frame as they move about a space during video calls
Facebook names VP of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth as the company's next CTO, as current CTO Mike Schroepfer prepares to transition to a senior fellow role next year; Bosworth will continue to lead Facebook Reality Labs following the transition; Mark Zuckerberg said a few other groups would join Bosworth's team
Netflix releases VR title "Eden Unearthed" via Oculus' App Lab, which lets developers distribute Oculus VR titles directly to consumers without app store approval; the game is a tie-in with the anime series "Eden"; the Oculus Quest title is free
Robinhood is testing a cryptocurrency wallet within its main app; a beta version of Robinhood's iOS app includes an image of a waitlist for the feature, as well as code referring to cryptocurrency transfers; the company went public in July and the stock is up 7.1% since the debut
Coinbase cancels its plans for Lend, a product that would have let users earn interest by loaning out their crypto holdings; the SEC launched an investigation following Coinbase's announcement of the product, and said it would likely classify the facility as a regulated security; the SEC also threatened to sue if the company went ahead with the launch
Hyundai begins testing Boston Dynamics' doglike robot Spot at a South Korean Kia manufacturing facility; the company will use the autonomous robot to conduct safety inspections; Hyundai acquired a majority stake in Boston Dynamics at a $1.1B valuation in June, owning all but 20% of the firm
Belgian e-bike company Cowboy expands to the US, offering pre-orders for the C4 bike at $2k; the pedal-assist model comes in step-through and high-step variants and features wireless charging for mobile devices; the company has sold 25k units representing multiple models across 11 European markets
The Chinese version of TikTok is introducing a "teenage mode" that will limit the amount of time children under the age of 14 spend on the short-form video app to 40 minutes a day.
The People’s Bank of China declares cryptocurrency-related transactions illegal, citing national security and social stability concerns; the price of Bitcoin dropped as much as 8% following the announcement; China's move represents the strongest anti-crypto measure taken by any major economy to date
📚 Good reads
Is live-stream shopping the future of retail? It’s been in China for a while, but the likes of Adidas and Ntwrk are making it popular elsewhere
What will a big tech UX designer do in 2022? The day in life of a Microsoft, Amazon, & Facebook UX designer
The ultimate guide to running executive meetings, by First Round Review. Love them or hate them, we need meetings, and these 25 great tips from top Startup leaders can definitely help. “Think of yourself as a designer and the meeting attendees as your customers. How might you design the best experience for them?”
A decade of the Tim Cook machine, by Ben Evans. In all the enthusiasms, arguments and panics around tech, Apple is the $2tn elephant in the corner, mostly silent and serenely indifferent to the news cycle. It just ships - and it ships market-leading products, with metronomic precision, at massive scale, on a decade-long strategic roadmap
A north star metric is the one or two top-line metrics that all company priorities are aligned around. A16Z released an insightful post to help companies decide on which metric represents their north star. Categories of north star metrics:
Revenue (e.g., ARR, GMV)
Customer growth (e.g., paid users, market share)
Consumption growth (e.g., messages sent, nights booked) — How intensely your product is being used.
Engagement growth (e.g., MAU, DAU) — The number of active users.
Growth efficiency (e.g., LTV/CAC, margins) — How efficiently you are spending.
User experience (e.g., Net promoter score) — How enjoyable your product is to its users.
The No. 1 question to ask is, "Which metric, if it were to increase today, would most accelerate my business’ flywheel?". Most popular north star metric by company type:
Marketplaces and platforms: Consumption growth
Paid-growth driven businesses: Growth efficiency
Freemium team-based B2B products: Engagement and/or customer growth
UGC subscription-based product: Consumption growth
Ad-driven businesses: Engagement growth
Consumer subscription products: Engagement or customer growth
Products that differentiated by UX: User Experience (NPS)
The US Tech Scaleup ecosystem, by Mind the Bridge
The figure for total capital in Silicon Valley raised is 2.6x higher than for all European scaleups and 1.1x higher than for all of China's.
Europe and China have 9,256 and 11,153 scaleups, respectively. As such, other startup ecosystems need the scale of entire countries/continents to compete with Silicon Valley’s clout.
The Bay Area continues to dominate the U.S. scene.
It hosts 2.3x more scaleups than New York, 4.6x more than L.A., just under 7x more than Texas, 8x more than Boston/Cambridge, and 11x more than Seattle and Chicago.
Still, Seattle and Chicago’s figures show +45% growth in scaleups. New York, Boston/Cambridge, and Texas saw a ~40% uptick, while Atlanta expanded in the 30%+ range.
The analysis found 748 scalers (startups with $100M+ raised) in the Bay Area, plus 59 super scalers ($1B).
Only China can approach such figures with 664 scalers and 54 super scalers.
The data indicates that talk of the "death of Silicon Valley" is profoundly far off base.
Have a great weekend.
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