Lyft adds more safety features including in-app emergency assistance, reminders to check the plate

Earlier this spring, both Uber and Lyft introduced new safety features and policies following the death of a university student who was kidnapped and murdered after getting into a vehicle she believed to be her Uber ride. Today, Lyft is announcing an expanded set of safety features and programs, including those that help riders find and identify their ride, alert emergency services if they believe they are in danger, and communicate ride issues back to Lyft support and drivers.

It’s also introducing a new driver and rider education program.

In April, Lyft had begun the process of making its app and service safer with the implementation of continuous background checks for drivers — something Uber had in place since 2018. It also said it was enhancing its identity verification process for drivers to prevent driver identity fraud on its platform.

Uber, meanwhile, had last month introduced new system banners and alerts to remind users to check their ride details — like the license plate, car make and model, as well as the driver’s name and photo. It had previously rolled out its own slate of safety features a year ago, which included its in-app Safety Center and an “Emergency” button.

Today, Lyft is catching up with the announcement of a similar feature set.

In the weeks ahead, Lyft says it, too, will roll out an in-app feature that provides access to 911 from within its app for riders. (Drivers already had this feature in their own app, Lyft notes.)

Like Uber, Lyft is also redesigning its app to better highlight the ride details — and specifically, making it easier to see the license plate number. When the car arrives, the driver photo, car photo and license plate appear in a pop-up in the app, alongside a reminder to match … Read the rest

Startups Weekly: There’s an alternative to raising VC and it’s called revenue-based financing

Revenue-based financing is on the rise, at least according to Lighter Capital, a firm that doles out entrepreneur-friendly debt capital.

What exactly is RBF you ask? It’s a relatively new form of funding for tech companies that are posting monthly recurring revenue. Here’s how Lighter Capital, which completed 500 RBF deals in 2018, explains it: “It’s an alternative funding model that mixes some aspects of debt and equity. Most RBF is technically structured as a loan. However, RBF investors’ returns are tied directly to the startup’s performance, which is more like equity.”

Source: Lighter Capital

What’s the appeal? As I said, RBFs are essentially dressed up debt rounds. Founders who opt for RBFs as opposed to venture capital deals hold on to all their equity and they don’t get stuck on the VC hamster wheel, the process in which you are forced to continually accept VC while losing more and more equity as a means of pleasing your investors.

RBFs, however, are better than traditional debt rounds because the investors are more incentivized to help the companies they invest in because they are receiving a certain portion of that business’s monthly revenues, typically 1% to 9%. Eventually, as is explained thoroughly in Lighter Capital’s newest RBF report, monthly payments come to an end, usually 1.3 to 2.5X the amount of the original financing, a multiple referred to as the “cap.” Three to five years down the line, any unpaid amount of said cap is due back to the investor. When all is said in done, ideally, the startup has grown with the support of the capital and hasn’t lost any equity.

At this point, they could opt to raise additional revenue-based capital, they could turn to venture capital or they could tap a tech bank to help them … Read the rest

Pinterest delivers first earnings report as a public company

Pinterest (NYSE: PINS) shared lukewarm first-quarter financials on Thursday after the closing bell in what was its first earnings report as a public company.

The company, led by co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Silbermann, posted revenues of $202 million on losses of $41.4 million for the three months ending March 31, 2019. This surpassed Wall Street’s revenue estimates of about $200 million and represented significant growth from last year’s Q1 revenues of $131 million. Losses, however, came in roughly three times higher than estimates at 32 cents per share.

The digital pinboard went public in April, rising 25% during its first day trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Pinterest’s public market performance has continued to stay in the green, closing up about 8% Thursday at nearly $31 per share for a market cap of $16.7 billion.

“The IPO was a significant milestone, but our focus at Pinterest hasn’t changed,” Silbermann said in a statement. “We want to help people discover inspiring ideas for every aspect of their lives, from fashion and home decor to travel and fitness. Our success can be seen in our Q1 results, and we’re excited to continue to grow our reach and impact in the years to come.”

Pinterest sold 75 million Class A shares in an IPO that raised $1.4 billion at a fully diluted market cap of $12.6 billion, a figure slightly larger than its Series H valuation of $12.3 billion. This was amid concerns the company would see a slighter smaller valuation upon its IPO and gain the unseemly title of “undercorn.”

Pinterest previously disclosed revenues of $755.9 million in the year ending December 31, 2018, up from $472.8 million in 2017. Losses, meanwhile, shrank to $62.9 million last year from $130 million in 2017. For the full year … Read the rest

Zoom, housing affordability, Mailchimp, Yext, and Uber

Conference call with CEO Eric Yuan of newly-IPOd Zoom

Since we first started Extra Crunch three months ago (my, time flies), we’ve been offering members live conference calls with our reporters. This week, we are trying something new and bringing a guest aboard.

TechCrunch’s SF-based startup and venture capital reporter Kate Clark is going to talk today with Eric Yuan, who founded video conferencing startup Zoom that just went public last month, making Yuan a very happy man.

Come armed with your questions or send them in to Arman Tabatabai. Instructions for joining the call will be mailed to members about an hour in advance, so check your inboxes.

Housing affordability market map

Dan Wu, a regtech and legaltech evangelist, published a great series of market maps on the housing affordability space this week on Extra Crunch, covering more than 200+ companies and organizations. He looks at spaces as diverse as property management, land acquisition, group developers, and new financial asset classes.

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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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