Under the hood on Zoom’s IPO, with founder and CEO Eric Yuan

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Kate Clark sat down with Eric Yuan, the founder and CEO of video communications startup Zoom, to go behind the curtain on the company’s recent IPO process and its path to the public markets.

Since hitting the trading desks just a few weeks ago, Zoom stock is up over 30%. But the Zoom’s path to becoming a Silicon Valley and Wall Street darling was anything but easy. Eric tells Kate how the company’s early focus on profitability, which is now helping drive the stock’s strong performance out of the gate, actually made it difficult to get VC money early on, and the company’s consistent focus on user experience led to organic growth across different customer bases.

Eric: I experienced the year 2000 dot com crash and the 2008 financial crisis, and it almost wiped out the company. I only got seed money from my friends, and also one or two VCs like AME Cloud Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures.

nd all other institutional VCs had no interest to invest in us. I was very paranoid and always thought “wow, we are not going to survive next week because we cannot raise the capital. And on the way, I thought we have to look into our own destiny. We wanted to be cash flow positive. We wanted to be profitable.

nd so by doing that, people thought I wasn’t as wise, because we’d probably be sacrificing growth, right? And a lot of other companies, they did very well and were not profitable because they focused on growth. And in the future they could be very, very profitable.

Eric and Kate also dive deeper into Zoom’s founding and … Read the rest

Fiverr files to go public, reports revenue of $75.5M and a net loss of $36.1M for 2018

Freelance marketplace Fiverr has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv, is losing money — its net losses grew from $19.3 million in 2017 to $36.1 million in 2018. At the same time, revenue grew by nearly 45%, from $52.1 million to $75.5 million.

“Our mission is to change how the world works together,” Fiverr says in the filing. “We started with the simple idea that people should be able to buy and sell digital services in the same fashion as physical goods on an e-commerce platform. On that basis, we set out to design a digital marketplace that is built with a comprehensive SKU-like services catalog and an efficient search, find and order process that mirrors a typical e-commerce transaction.”

Fiverr was founded in 2010 and, thanks in part to controversial marketing, is seen as a key player in the gig economy. It says it has facilitated more than 50 million transactions between 5.5 million buyers and 830,000 freelancers (who sell services like logo design, video creation and editing, website development and blog writing).

The company says its advantages include the breadth of the marketplace and a network effect where the number and success of buyers and freelancers on the site draws more buyers and freelancers. It also says its marketplace can be easily scaled up as it adds more freelancers from around the world.

As for risk factors, the filing points to the need to continue growing the community, the possibility that the overall freelance market may not grow as quickly as the company expects and he aforementioned history of losses.

Fiverr previously raised $111 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase, from Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel, Square Peg Capital, Qumra Capital and … Read the rest

What Uber and Lyft’s investment bankers got right

Startup CEOs heading to the public markets have a love/hate relationship with their investment bankers. On one hand, they are helpful in introducing a company to a wide range of asset managers who will hopefully hold their company’s stock for the long term, reducing price volatility and by extension, employee churn.

On the other hand, they are flagrantly expensive, costing millions of dollars in underwriting fees and related expenses.

Worse, the advice one gets from investment bankers tends to be quite vague. There is all this talk of IPO windows, timing, pricing, and more that is so squishy, particularly for the sorts of Silicon Valley CEOs that prize data over human experience. That has led to more than one experiment to try to disrupt the investment banking sector and the whole going public circus.

Uber and Lyft though are proof though that investment bankers actually are pretty smart in their advice about the pubic markets, and founders should be cautious about ignoring their words.

Let’s look at a few case studies.

First, take the vaunted “IPO window” that is discussed ad nauseam among investment bankers and the financial press which covers them. The idea of the “window” is that you must time a new public equity issue to arrive at a propitious moment in the markets. You want investors who are hungry for growth, and not battening down the hatches preparing for a recession.

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The misunderstandings of 18-month-old Luckin’s $500M IPO

Luckin Coffee is the most energizing IPO in recent memory, and not just because it sells caffeine.

Most venture-backed startups can take a decade to reach the public markets. Luckin cut that time down to about 18 months. Founder Jenny Qian Zhiya opened a trial coffee shop in Beijing, with a focus on rapid coffee delivery and mobile app ordering. Fast forward to today, and the company’s 2,370 stores conducted nearly 17 million transactions in the most recent quarter ending March 31.

Now Luckin — which can barely offer year-over-year comparables — intends to list its American depository shares (ADSs) on Nasdaq in the coming weeks, hoping to raise over $500 million through the IPO.

Understanding and going long or short on this company requires that we drop the facile analogies (aka it’s Starbucks!), understand the context of startup growth in China, and take a (rare) bet on a high-flying growth company in the public markets.

The incredibly useless Starbucks analogy

Lonely Planet via Getty Images

There is nothing in the United States that compares to Luckin. But that hasn’t stopped journalists, financial analysts, and what I suspect is Luckin’s own PR folks from making the obvious coffee chain comparison.

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Uber opens at a disappointing $42 per share

At long last, it’s lift-off for Uber. After pricing its initial public offering at $45 per share, at the bottom end of the range it set previously, to raise $8.1 billion, the transportation startup began trading today on the New York Stock Exchange, and the shares opened at $42, down from the IPO price.

Ahead of Uber finally making its debut, the company had an indication price that went as low as $42 ahead of live trading. With the overall market in a slump this week over trade woes with China, it’s a challenging time to list, to say the least.

Uber had raised $28.5 billion as a private company from no less than 166 different backers, with its last valuation in the region of $75 billion. The $82.4 billion valuation that it finally settled on for the IPO (selling 180 million shares at $45/share) is definitely up from that, but far from the lofty projections of $120 billion that banks and analysts that floated in the months leading up to today.

The figures nevertheless cement Uber, alongside Alibaba and Facebook, as one of the most valuable tech IPOs in history, and a major beacon for breaking ground in a new area of tech, transportation.

But if it is the sheer scale and potential of Uber that catapulted it to such financial heights (real and imaginary), it’s the bare financials that have tempered some of those notions.

On one side, Uber essentially created and currently dominates the market for on-demand transportation, which started with the premise of connecting drivers with passengers by way of an app that tracked the location of both, but eventually evolved into a wider two-sided marketplace ambition that brings together different modes of transportation — including bikes, public buses and more — with … Read the rest