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DoorDash IPO bets that the pandemic has accelerated change – TechCrunch

DoorDash has become the go-to delivery choice for millions of people cooped up during the pandemic this year. Will they stay as life returns to normal after the vaccine? What will be “normal,” anyway?…

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DoorDash has become the go-to delivery choice for millions of people cooped up during the pandemic this year. Now it has filed an S-1, revealing its financials as it nears a long-intended IPO. These innards show an exciting business — and a larger story about how the year is going for tech companies in general.

When the company filed initial public offering paperwork back in February, it was coming off of an expensive year of growth in 2019. The California state legislature was passing laws, meanwhile, that directly targeted its gig-economy labor model. Then the pandemic hit. More from Alex Wilhelm:

DoorDash has grown incredibly rapidly, scaling its revenues from $291 million in 2018 to $885 million in 2019. And more recently, from $587 million in the first nine months of 2019 to $1.92 billion in the same period of 2020. That is 226% growth in 2020 thus far… How high-quality is DoorDash’s revenue? In the first three quarters of 2019, the company had gross margins of 39.9%, and in the same period of 2020 the figure rose to 53.1%, a huge improvement for the consumer consumable delivery confab.

The other jolt of good news for the company arrived last week. A California ballot proposition passed that preserved the contractor model it relies on for deliveries.

World events did not take a breath, though. A COVID-19 vaccine appeared on the horizon this week, and could lead to the pandemic ending as soon as next year. Will this be bad for DoorDash’s business? Alex took another look at the numbers for Extra Crunch, and didn’t come away with a clear answer. On the one hand, the company has been making ongoing investments in its delivery platform technology, which has helped to drive the success this year already. On the other hand, the S-1 is open about post-pandemic reality — profitability is going to decline. Alex:

To buy into the DoorDash IPO, especially at its currently floated $25 billion price, you have to believe that the company’s revenue growth will slow modestly at most. Otherwise the price makes no sense. Bearish investors who might expect the company to post negative growth in Q3 2021 won’t pay any price for DoorDash shares, but in between the two camps is a mess of vaccine timings, shifts in consumer behavior and macroeconomic questions that could determine how many American families can afford delivery. All of which will impact DoorDash’s future growth rates.

For those looking further out, DoorDash stock is about how you think the pandemic is going to change the world for the long term, or not. Are we going to be using DoorDash more often now for deliveries? Are we going to be at home as much in the first place? Or are we going to go back to offices, stores and restaurants like we did before?

Speaking of investors, Danny Crichton illustrates why it pays to bet on the world changing. The company has raised nearly $2.5 billion over the years. Today that includes an 18.2% ownership stake by Sequoia, 22.1% by the SoftBank Vision Fund, and 9.3% by Singapore’s GIC. As he writes for Extra Crunch, the founding executives Tony Xu, Andy Fang and Stanley Tang each own around 5% — smallish wedges of a growing pie. Maybe that is too much dilution? Or maybe, considering all of the other delivery companies that have failed or gone sideways, this is the pinnacle of success in the sector.

A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the phase 3 vaccine trial, developed against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by the U.S. Pfizer and German BioNTech company, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey

(Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

We all knew that at some point solutions would be figured out. But as COVID-19 cases have climbed this season, and as anxiety built around elections, it was hard to believe that the vaccine was right around the corner. The initial success reported Monday by BioNTech and Pfizer may mean that these two companies are close to success. But many other companies are attempting to use the same experimental gene-based vaccines so we may see others winners soon.

The stock market is already repricing tech stocks, in any case. Besides the timely arrival of the DoorDash S-1, here are a few other headlines about the impact of the news:

Positive vaccine news punishes pandemic-boosted companies like Zoom, Peloton, Etsy

What happens to high-flying startups if the pandemic trade flips? (EC)

As public investors reprice edtech bets, what’s ahead for the hot startup sector? (EC)

5 VCs discuss the future of SaaS and software after Pfizer’s vaccine breakthrough (EC)

Image Credits: John Artman

Here’s why, for those trying to understand this global company and its place across markets:

As Ant Group seizes the world’s attention with its record initial public offering, which was abruptly called off by Beijing, investors and analysts are revisiting the fintech interests of Tencent, Ant’s arch rival in China. It’s somewhat complicated to do this, not least because they are sprawled across a number of Tencent properties and, unlike Ant, don’t go by a single brand or operational structure — at least, not one that is obvious to the outside world. However, when you tease out Tencent’s fintech activity across its wider footprint — from direct operations like WeChat Pay through to its sizeable strategic investments and third-party marketplaces — you have something comparable in size to Ant, and in some services even bigger.

Serial founder Darshan Somashekar writes that if you want to build a great edtech product, then perhaps it should be a game. Here’s more, from his guest column for Extra Crunch this week:

Earlier this year, we launched Solitaired, a casual gaming platform that ties card games to educational experiences and brain training. We’re still early, but signs are encouraging: Our average time on site is 30 minutes, more than three times that of our earlier business. Even better, users come back often, on average returning more than five times per month. Since we’re now in the gaming space, we should have expected these metrics, but they still blew our expectations away. We’ve also found that the downsides can be mitigated. For example, high engagement has led to strong virality, driving down our CAC and increasing our growth. In-app purchase abuses can be tempting for game developers, but by focusing on user growth KPIs, we don’t have the desire to go down those routes. Lastly, the threat of Big Tech is there, but at present most of their attempts have yet to strike a chord among users. More importantly, that’s why choosing a market so massive that even individual Big Tech players can’t dominate is key: With a market this size, you can shoot for the stars, miss the moon and still do well for yourself.

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From Alex:

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

The full Equity crew was on hand to debate the current venture capital market, curious about how risk-on, or risk-off things really are today. DannyNatasha and I framed the conversation around a number of news items from the week, including:

  • Wrkfrce has launched, and we wanted to chat more about the future of niche media, bringing The Juggernaut’s own recent round and the Quartz shakeup into the conversation.
  • And on the media front — always a risky venture capital investing domain — Spotify has snapped up another podcasting company, this time paying $235 for Megaphone. Our take? A string of small exits probably won’t encourage VCs to take on more risk in the space (Hunter Walk said the same thing here.)
  • Turning to risk more generally, I asked Natasha to weigh in on the earlier stages of the venture market, and Danny on its later tranches. There’s still lots of money, but it appears more focused on chasing winners than bolstering or supporting less-obvious startups.
  • That market is not slowing a risk-on move toward more venture capital players, as the Spearhead news showed a new focus for the firm to invest in emerging fund managers.
  • And there’s still plenty of risk tolerance in remote-work solutions like Hopin, which just raised $125 million at a $2+ billion valuation. We’re torn on the round, but Danny likes it and he’s a former VC.
  • And we wrapped with a chat about upcoming IPOs, and the recent SoftBank results. If DoorDash, Airbnb and others are going to go this year, they need to go soon. So far, no dice.
  • It was a busy week, despite the month. Expect more of the same next week.

    Finally, don’t forget that our own Chris Gates is cutting Equity videos out of every episode that you can find over on YouTube. He does a great job and it’s great to be on video, as well as audio platforms.

    Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/14/doordash-ipo-bets-that-the-pandemic-has-accelerated-change/

    [ALT0]

    Techcrunch

    Resistant AI scores $16.6M for its anti-fraud fintech tools – TechCrunch

    Resistant AI, which uses artificial intelligence to help financial services companies combat fraud and financial crime — selling tools to protect credit risk scoring models, payment systems, customer onboarding and more — has closed $16.6 million in Series A funding. GV (formerly Google Ventures) led the round, with participation from existing investors Index Ventures (led […]

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    Resistant AI, which uses artificial intelligence to help financial services companies combat fraud and financial crime — selling tools to protect credit risk scoring models, payment systems, customer onboarding and more — has closed $16.6 million in Series A funding.

    GV (formerly Google Ventures) led the round, with participation from existing investors Index Ventures (led by partner Jan Hammer), Credo Ventures (led by Ondrej Bartos and Vladislav Jez) and Seedcamp, plus several unnamed angel investors specializing in financial technology and security.

    The 2019-founded, Prague-based startup says the funding will be used to meet rising demand from global financial institutions, including by building out its product, engineering, and sales operations teams beyond its existing footprint — which also includes offices in London and New York.

    The startup tells TechCrunch it has 30 customers signed up at this stage to use its dedicated anti-fraud security products — which include machine learning detection of fraudulent documents and AI for spotting problematic patterns of transactions.

    Collectively its customers, which include banks, insurance companies and fintechs — it can’t name the biggest but names the likes of KBC, Payoneer, Habito and Twisto — are processing tens of millions of transactions per month, it also said, adding that in its home market of the Czech Republic it’s now working with banks that have a combined 50% marketshare.

    To give a taster of the problem it’s tackling, the startup says that assessment of customer data it’s acquired and reviewed indicates: 17% of bank statement that are used for lending applications, ‘Know Your Customer’ regulations and other purposes are tampered with; 11% of UK payslips submitted as part of digital loan applications are altered or forged; 15% of company registration certificates submitted worldwide when opening a bank account are fakes; and 9% of utility bills submitted as a proof of address worldwide are forged.

    “Our mission is to create an intelligent shield for autonomous financial systems, to protect them against these ever-evolving, ever-smarter attacks,” adds CEO Martin Rehak in a statement. “That’s the only way we can avoid epidemic fraud, mountains of manual reviews and four-factor authentication on every single online service.”

    In another supporting statement, Tom Hulme, general partner at GV, said: “Resistant AI’s founding team has unique expertise in applying AI and machine learning to detect complex and evasive behavior. Early customer traction demonstrates an ability to uncover unknown threats, and reliably categorize and reduce false alerts with transparent, explainable and verifiable detection models.”

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/20/resistant-ai-scores-16-6m-for-its-anti-fraud-fintech-tools/

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    Facebook reportedly plans to change its name to focus on the metaverse – TechCrunch

    Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name to focus on building the metaverse, according to a report by The Verge.  CEO Mark Zuckerberg will unveil its new name at the annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could announce the new name earlier, as reported by The Verge. Facebook, which […]

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    Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name to focus on building the metaverse, according to a report by The Verge.

    CEO Mark Zuckerberg will unveil its new name at the annual Connect conference on October 28, but it could announce the new name earlier, as reported by The Verge.

    Facebook, which has the ambition to be known for more than social media, announced Sunday that it plans to recruit 10,000 jobs in Europe for the next five years to help build the metaverse the company sees as a key component of its future.

    The company also announced a month ago that Andre Bosworth, the head of AR and VR, will be promoted to chief technology officer. Facebook already has more than 10,000 employees who build consumer hardware like AR glasses that Zuckerberg believes will be as ubiquitous as smartphones.

    In July, Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s future lies in the virtual metaverse, in which users will live, work and play inside.

    The rebranding comes at a time when Facebook is facing criticism over a range of scandals, including a series of internal documents leaked by a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Facebook is still under antitrust scrutiny by the U.S. government.

    “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/19/facebook-reportedly-plans-to-change-its-name-to-focus-on-the-metaverse/

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    Does the NFT craze actually matter? – TechCrunch

    Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review! Last week, we talked about Apple’s subscription addiction. This week, I’m diving deep into whether there’s actually any meaning to pull out of the NFT mania of 2021. If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter […]

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    Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review!

    Last week, we talked about Apple’s subscription addiction. This week, I’m diving deep into whether there’s actually any meaning to pull out of the NFT mania of 2021.

    If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny

    Image via OpenSea

    the big thing

    The NFT market is still defying reason, but then again that’s kind of its thing. But one thing I’m especially unsure about lately as I see JPGs continue to sell for millions of dollars is… does any of this actually matter?

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year grappling with the NFT market, at times I’ve lost sleep over it. As a reporter frequently covering this market, I don’t own or trade the little images myself, but that hasn’t stopped me from obsessing over the fluctuations in their prices and scouring Discords trying to follow the trends. I’ve tuned into countless Twitter Spaces and lurked subreddits trying to understand it all. I’ve also done my best to keep most of that out of this newsletter — it’s a weird niche interest that’s especially niche at the moment — but as Bitcoin flirts with a new all-time-high and the NFT mania persists, just consider this a timely update.

    So, in the past month, investors have continued dropping billions upon billions of dollars on NFTs. OpenSea has seen more than $3 billion in transaction volume in the past 30 days, and that number is actually way down quite a bit from August, showcasing just how much off-peak money continues to flow into NFTs.

    All of that money has gone to some colorful places. One of the bigger success stories of the past month has been the platform CrypToadz which investors dumped $100 million into. They look like this. In the past couple weeks, a brand new project called MekaVerse saw $130 million in transaction volume. They’re a bit prettier, but would you spend more than $8,000 on one? The platform Cryptoslam (where I pulled most of the data I reference here) is tracking 163 platforms which did more than $1 million in volume in the past 30 days, a number which doesn’t even account for individual artists selling their work on platforms like OpenSea.

    Now, there are two incredibly different segments of NFT communities out there, larger-scale NFT projects like Axie Infinity and NBA Top Shot with tens and hundreds of thousands of users and smaller-scale NFT projects like CryptoPunks and Art Blocks with just a few hundred or thousand owners. Larger-scale projects can represent more traditional gaming titles with more complex in-game economies while smaller-scale projects simply look more like fine art markets teamed with exclusive social clubs. Some smaller-scale projects have the ambition to eventually become larger-scale ones, but many have capped the number of NFTs in their projects and are designed to be exclusive.

    In the past 30 days, Axie Infinity did more than $500 million in sales spread across nearly 2 million transactions and over 350,000 buyers. On the flip side, CryptoPunks did $200 million in sales during that same time frame across 484 transactions and 309 buyers.

    Generally, when I’m talking about some of these big sales from smaller-scale projects with friends of mine, the first thing they mention is how this is probably all just money laundering. While I’d certainly imagine some of that is happening, that’s ultimately a much more boring explanation than my best guess of what’s really going on, which is that a group of several thousand investors have separately rationalized irrational investing. They just happen to have chosen to do so through buying pixel art and drawings of animals.

    While some investors might suggest that a handful of the earliest NFTs hold intrinsic value as historic objects, there are plenty of brand new NFT projects earning ten-million dollar valuations on day one with low amounts of effort and imagination.

    It’s seemingly the result of momentum from awe-struck retail investors entering a market filled with massive amounts of wealth being generated and re-invested by Ethereum millionaires who can massively overpay for deals while pushing the implied value of the objects, the projects, the entire NFT market and the price of Ethereum up concurrently. Most of these investors are also people who have held onto Ethereum through its waves and have grown fundamentally averse to cashing out, meaning they’re less likely to sell the NFTs they buy unless they’re just trying to buy another more expensive NFT or have been made an offer too good to refuse. As a result, many high-value smaller-scale projects stay liquid on the low-end while fewer sales of the rarer items underpin the massive valuations of the projects and those occasional big buys keep pushing prices higher.

    All of this babbling of mine is to say, what’s happening here is strange. It’s also an incredibly large amount of noise mostly coming from a few thousand buyers.

    But when most investors talk about mainstream adoption and future use cases, they’re looking at the creation of more larger-scale projects like Axie and Top Shot which embody many of the technical bells and whistles of crypto economics in more user-friendly packages that can reach the mainstream. NFTs as a concept for driving more complex virtual economies is, indeed, really fascinating, but I don’t think there are as many takeaways to draw from billions of dollars flowing into digital art and these smaller-scale projects like CrypToadz as many crypto investors and venture capitalists are trying to convince themselves.

    Only three NFT platforms out there had more than 10,000 active unique buyers in their community in the past 30 days, and while the successes of platforms like Axie Infinity are definitely worth dissecting, it also seems clear we’re in the midst of a speculative frenzy and it’s not a very easy time to draw sober conclusions about what all this madness means for the future of the web.

    Ali Balikci / Anadolu Agency

    other things

    Here are a few stories this week that I think you should take a closer look at:

    Apple probably won’t be supporting alternate App Store payments anytime soon
    Apple did their best to convince the press and public that the court’s decision in its legal fight with Epic Games was an outright win for Apple, but over the weekend they quietly announced that weeks later they’re appealing the decision and asking the courts to put the ordered changes to allow alternative payments inside iOS apps on hold.

    Apple put on a cool demeanor after this ruling, but it’s apparent that there are billions on the line for Apple if this order stands. Therefore delaying its rollout means billions of dollars that aren’t going to other payment providers or staying in developer coffers. Epic had already appealed the decision as well, hoping to try for a more favorable ruling, but it’s clear that anyone hoping for a speedy resolution will be disappointed — as is often the case in corporate law.

    Nintendo reshapes its SaaS ambitions
    Nintendo has been and probably always will be a bit of an odd big company. They’ve been resistant to new trends in gaming and when they embrace them, they don’t necessarily do a great job capitalizing on them, and yet their mountain of beloved IP allows them chance after chance to get things right. This week, they announced more details on their new annual membership called Nintendo Switch Online+ which, for $50 per year will give gamers a deeper array of content. That’s a good deal more than the standard $20 per year for the regular Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but beyond expanded virtual console support for an unannounced array of N64 games, it’s not clear what exactly the sell is for consumers.

    Interestingly, they’re launching the service with free access to a major update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s a play that only works when you’re Nintendo and the penetration of your first-party titles is so incredibly high among device-owners (and especially likely subscribers). Nintendo has sold more than 3.4 million copies of the new Animal Crossing title globally.

    Microsoft pulls LinkedIn from China
    It’s been a particularly turbulent time for tech companies across China as government regulators crack down and the outlook clouds for big platforms there. This week, Microsoft announced that it’s pulling LinkedIn out of China, detailing that LinkedIn was now “facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.” LinkedIn didn’t have a huge presence in China so this won’t make major waves, but as other American tech giants are forced to make major adjustments to their China strategy, this marks yet another datapoint in the cooling of relations between China and the West.

    The LinkedIn’s of the world don’t hold much sway in China, the most curious bit of this is how this regulatory upswing eventually affects Apple which does hold plenty of influence. While officials probably aren’t keen to jam them up, the past year has shown that China’s regulators have plenty of surprises up their sleeves.

    Stack of woolen checked blankets

    Image Credits: Manuta / Getty Images

    added things

    Some of my favorite reads from our newly-renamed TechCrunch+ subscription service this week:

    Inside Plaid
    “…Visa and Plaid might have chosen to go their own ways in the end, but the year wasn’t a total loss for the data connectivity startup: Plaid claims its customer count grew 60% in 2020, and company execs say it has had similar growth so far this year….”

    Founders should use predictive modeling to fundraise smarter
    “More capital is flooding into growth equity at earlier stages, and it’s happening faster than ever before. But even with the rampant enthusiasm for pouring bigger equity checks into startups, founders are now in a unique place in time where they can think differently about how to capitalize their companies….“

    How one startup boosted productivity with ‘get s*** done’ day
    “…To improve our productivity, we introduced a Getting Shit Done Day (GSDD): Our employees define clear-cut goals and receive specific, usually non-trivial, tasks with little to no communication involved (we encourage our employees to avoid social media on this day, but we are not looking over their shoulder). The goal of GSDD is to increase the amount of time we spend in deep work by minimizing distractions for one day every other week…”

    Thanks for reading, and again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny

    Lucas Matney

    Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/16/does-the-nft-craze-actually-matter/

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