This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.
It was an active week in the tech world largely with big news from Facebook and Twitter and Apple. But past the headline-grabbing noise, there was a steady drum beat of bullish news for unicorns or private companies worth $ 1 billion. $ Or more.
A bullish week for unicorns
The stock market spent a good part of the week researching various stories from unicorns or companies that soon fit the bill, and it’s surprising to see how much positive economic news was in print, even past what we got to write about.
Computer chips, for example, revealed a grip on financial data to TechCrunch prior to regular publication, including the fact that it grew its annual driving rate (not ARR) to $ 350 million by the end of 3. quarter 2020, up from $ 200 million in Q2 201
Sticking to our theme, Calm wants more money for a huge new valuation, perhaps up to 2.2 billion. $, which is not a surprise. This is more good device news. As it was the report that “India’s Razorpay [became a] unicorn after its new $ 100 million round of funding ”released this week.
Razorpay is just one of a number of Indian startups that have become unicorns under COVID-19. (And here’s another digest this week regarding half a dozen startups that became unicorns “in the middle of the pandemic.”)
There was enough good unicorn news recently that we have lost track of it all. Things like Seismic raise $ 92 million, pushing the valuation up to $ 1.6 billion from a few weeks ago. How did it get lost in the mix?
All this means something, because while the IPO market has caught a lot of attention in the last quarter, the unicorn world has not sat still. In fact, it feels like unicorn VC activity is the highest we’ve seen since 2019.
And as we will see in a moment, the pig of the unicorn mill is being refilled as we speak. So expect more of the same until something significant breaks our current investment and exit patterns.
What do Unicorns Eat? Cash. And many, many VCs raised cash in the last seven days.
A partial list follows. It may be that investors are looking to lock in new funds before the election and whatever chaos may arise. So in no particular order, here is where there is new flush:
- $ 450 million for OpenView, $ 800 million for Canaan, $ 840 million for True Ventures, $ 950 million for Lead Edge Capital
- Something called Benson Capital Partners has put together a $ 50 million fund. Gayle Benson, after whom the company is named, owns several New Orleans sports teams per. Forbes.
- Plus Venture Capital, built by two former 500 Startups Mena investors according to fund globalMENA, has raised $ 60 million.
- First round looking for $ 220 million, former Google director Kai-Fu Lee’s Sinovation Ventures looking for a billion, while Khosla wants a little more.
All that capital has to go to work, which means many more rounds for many, many startups. The stock market also caught up with a somewhat new company this week: Race Capital. Managed by Alfred Chuang, formerly or BEA, an angel investor now in charge of his own fund, the company has $ 50 million to invest.
By sticking to private investment in startups at the moment, a lot happened this week that we need to know more about. Like the API-driven Argyle, which raises $ 20 million from Bain Capital Ventures for what FinLedger calls “unlocking and democratizing access to employment records.” TechCrunch is currently tracking the status of API-led startup.
On the fintech side of things, M1 Finance raised $ 45 million for its Series C consumer fintech platform, while another roboadvisor, Wealthsimple, raised $ 87 million and became a unicorn at the same time. And while we’re in the fintech bucket, Stripe dropped $ 200 million this week for Nigerian startup Paystack. We need to pay more attention to the African start-up scene. At the smaller end of fintech, Alpaca raised $ 10 million more to help other companies become Robinhood.
A few other notes before we switch thanks. Kahoot raised $ 215 million due to a boom in distance learning, another trend that is inevitable in 2020 as part of the larger edtech boom (our own Natasha Mascarenhas has more).
When we turn from the private market to the public, we just need to touch on SPACs for a moment. Børs got a phone call this week with Toby Russell from Shift, which is now a public company trading after it merged with a SPAC, namely Insurance Acquisition Corp. Early trading is only going so well, but the CEO outlined for us exactly why he was pursuing a SPAC, which was actually interesting:
- Shift could have been announced via an IPO, Russell said, but prioritized a SPAC-led debut because his company wanted to optimize for a capital increase to keep the company growing.
- How? The private investment in public capital (PIPE) that the SPAC option came with ensured that Shift would have hundreds of millions in cash.
- Shift also wanted to minimize what CEO described as market risk. An SPAC agreement could be reached regardless of what the broader markets were intended for. And since the company chose to debut via a SPAC in April, some caution, we believe, may have made sense.
So now Shift is publicly and recently capitalized. Let’s see what happens to its stocks when it comes into quarterly reporting. (Of course, if it scrubs, it’s a bad brand for SPACs, but conversely, successful trading can lead to a little more momentum for SPAC mageddon.)
A few more things and we’re done. Unicorn Exits had a great week. First, Datto’s IPO continues to move forward. It set a starting price this week, which could value it at over 4 billion. $. Also this week, Roblox announced that it has filed a publication, albeit privately. It is also worth billions. And finally, DoubleVerify wants to be listed for as much as $ 5 billion by the beginning of next year.
Not all liquidity comes via the public markets when we saw this week’s Twilio purchase of Segment, an agreement that Børs dug in to find out if it was at a good price or not.
Different and diverse
We naturally run for a long time, so here are a few quick things you can add to your mental weekend tea and coffee reading!
Next week, we’ll dig deeper into Q3 venture capital data, a foretaste that you can find here, regarding female founders, a topic that we returned to Friday closer.